The warm scent of savory spices and sweet sugar filled the homey kitchen. Though the kitchen was spacious, with five grown woman bustling about it was beginning to feel a little cramped. It didn’t take a close examination to tell they were sisters. Each had a similar shade of near-ebony hair – all except Summer, who sported a red so vibrant that there was a long-standing joke she was adopted.
In fact it was a comment along those lines that presently had Summer shouting across the room.
“I’m NOT adopted! Everyone in Dad’s family has red hair, Alexis.”
Alexis shrugged her shoulders, taking a sip from her glass of wine.
“That proves absolutely nothing beyond Mother having a thing for red-heads. The fact stands that you are the odd duck in this little clan, and if you don’t start taking life a little more seriously and go back to college you’re going to waste your entire life.”
Tamara found herself trapped between her oldest sister and youngest, both figuratively and literally as she stood shielded by the island counter whisking a mix of pumpkin and sugar in a bowl. She sighed, casting a world weary glance towards Serena who was too busy getting assistance for her arm sling from Jade to notice.
“Do we really need to accuse Mom of having an affair every time this comes up? In her own house?” Tamara asked.
“Yeah, Alexis. Stop being such a cu-”
“Summer,” Serena warned. Summer gave her an apologetic grimace and twisted in her stool. Alexis might have been known as The General for being so bossy, but Serena had mastered the art of the cop voice and it was annoyingly effective.
Alexis wasn’t finished, however, and gestured at her youngest sister with her glass.
“This is what I’m talking about. You’re off in L.A. alone, with no plan and no sense to what you’re doing, while you’re blowing the checks we send you on marijuana and champagne service. You need to grow up, Summer.”
“Grow up and do what? Be a middle aged lawyer stalking my ex husband and his new kids on Facebook because I can’t stop being a twat long enough to meet somebody hot at a bar?”
The room went dead silent. With no acknowledgment beyond a stony face, Alexis snatched up a nearby bottle of wine and exited out the kitchen door. They could all hear the loud clock clock clock of her heels as she climbed up the hallway stairs.
“That was completely unnecessary,” piped in Tamara first. “You know she can’t-”
“I don’t care anymore, okay!” shouted Summer as she leapt from her seat. “She’s always been a bitch and I’m tired of tip toeing around her stupid feelings because she doesn’t even HAVE any!”
Before anyone could comment on that loaded statement, Summer grabbed her purse, her keys, two pot holders, and one of the pies off the cooling wrack. As if trying to out-do her sister’s exit, she made the extra effort to stomp across the kitchen and slam the door as hard as she could behind her.
“Awkward,” muttered Jade with a soft laugh. “I guess it’s not a Sparrow Thanksgiving without wine and pies getting stolen. Do you want a beer, Rena? Tammy?”
“Do we want to see Tamara’s drunk Dr. Phil impression again is the real question,” Serena responded, wincing as she lifted up her leg cast to rest in Jade’s abandoned seat. She and Jade both laughed when Tamara turned scarlet and threatened them with her whisk.
“That only happened once when Dad spiked the apple cider! I can actually drink without turning into a silly person.”
“Silly person,” Jade mocked whilst leaning against the fridge. She flinched and giggled when a packet of unopened graham crackers got tossed at her.
“Okay kiddos, give me the beer before you start throwing things and I forget I can’t walk.”
Once Jade grabbed a couple of bottles from the fridge, she confiscated the crackers and returned to Serena. Only pausing long enough to open the bottle for her sister, Jade dropped into a bar stool at the island counter.
“How is college going?” Serena asked after a long draft from her bottle.
“Well. I got offered an internship to this big name publishing company in New York…”
“That’s amazing!” exclaimed Tamara.
“I turned it down.” Jade muttered. “After Serena getting shot I-”
“If you turned it down because of me-”
“I didn’t!” Jade shouted. Giving a loud sigh, she twisted in her seat so she could explain. “But it got me thinking, that’s all! Alexis defends people, and you protect people, and Tammy– okay, Tammy just stalks cheating assholes, but the point is that I’m writing books about fake cops when there’s so much real shit going on.”
Tamara didn’t look the least bit insulted about her career choice. There was just a thoughtful expression across her face as she balanced her bowl in one hand to pour pie filling into a waiting tin of graham cracker crust.
“It’s natural to change your mind. I tried the Academy, but the second they handed me a gun I just knew that wasn’t for me. It’s okay to try a bunch of things.”
“Change my major again,” complained Jade with a sigh. Her college career so far had been a hodgepodge of topics. Granted the majority of them had to deal with people and law. With a family like the Sparrows, where everyone was either a cop or a lawyer, if you didn’t at least try to follow in the family footsteps… well. You ended up like Summer. And even Summer had lofty aspirations.
“I still want to write,” she confessed. “But I was thinking maybe I could write about true crime instead of fiction. Investigative journalism with the side order of a best selling novel about serial killers.”
Serena laughed. “Dad isn’t too keen on reporters, but if you talk to Mom about it first, I’m sure she can help soften him up. It suits you, Jade.”
“Really?” came Jade’s hopeful reply. “Cool! Because the first story I’m going to write is about your shootout.”
“Jade, Don’t you d-”
“Too late!” To drive it home, Jade jumped from her seat with beer bottle in hand and skipped out the kitchen. “Already talking to Mom!”
“Wonderful,” muttered Serena.
Tamara finished sliding her pies into the oven and pressed in the cook time on the microwave. After washing her hands up in the sink, she fetched a bowl of dip out of the fridge and brought them over to the table along with a bag of chips.
“I’m afraid you’re her favorite. Your job is much more exciting than photographing cheating husbands.” Tamara teased with a grin.
“You’d be an amazing detective, Tamara.” Serena insisted.
“So could you,” Tamara pointed out. “Dad says he’s been trying to get you to take the test for detective but you keep turning him down.”
The chip bag wrinkled as Serena reached her hand inside. “Dad wants us all to take over the world. Right now, I like being a beat cop and getting to know my neighborhood. I can always take the test later.”
Tamara frowned, leaning to rest her chin in her hands as she watched her older sister. “Are you sure it has nothing to do with Ramirez? How’s he doing?”
“Still in critical care, but they’re hopeful.” There was just a hint of doubt in her features and something that hinted there was more to it, but just as quickly as it came, it was gone. Serena straightened up in her seat, and Tamara knew that topic was done and she was about to be in for it. Not only was Serena a master of the cop voice, she also had a knack for turning conversations around when she didn’t want to talk about something.
“You know, I haven’t heard a word about the handsome Supermarket George all day. I seem to recall excitement about a first date.”
Tamara groaned, her eyes lifting up to stare at the small light hanging from the ceiling.
“Turns out Supermarket George has a thing for smelly feet.” Serena burst into laughter and Tamara had to wait a moment for her to simmer down before she could continue. “It really isn’t that funny! I even tried, I honestly thought giving it a shot might make a difference. Trying new things, you know? But. Smelly feet! How do you make that romantic!”
Still snickering under her breath, Serena reached out a hand. “Give me your phone. It’s time we signed you up for Tinder.”
“I thought Tinder was for sexual house calls,” she huffed. Tamara wasn’t keen on the idea, but she handed over the phone anyway. With as many bad dates as she had, Tamara was just about ready to try anything.
“It is,” answered Serena. As soon as the app finished downloading, her thumb swiped and tapped with surprising efficiency. “If you’re going to keep stumbling over the worst of mankind, you might as well do it faster.”
Tamara leaned forward just in time to watch Serena write up a blurb that sounded more like a porn star’s resume than a dating profile.
Her sister laughed.
“You’re not going to find Mister Right, but at least you can have some fun until your hero rides up in his white sedan.”
“You might be worse than Summer,” Tamara muttered, but it was hard to hide the smile that was creeping onto her face.
“Speaking of which, we better gather the clan before Jade springs her news to Dad. We might as well have dinner while they argue.”