“No, she’s good at secrets,” said Logan. Uh-oh, big mistake.
“Oh, what secrets are those?” asked Steve, his eyes glinting.
“Now, they wouldn’t be secrets if he told you, would they?” Meeka said. “I think you should go and get everyone and come back for dinner.”
She was a master of distraction. Would it work?
Abby frowned and ran her hand through her hair. “No, we couldn’t do that. There’s too many of us to cook for.”
“Oh, we don’t cook,” Meeka said.
“I have a moral objection to cooking,” Lia said.
“And we have a moral objection to eating her cooking,” Meeka said without hesitating. Jason smiled.
“Are you going to let her get away with that?” Lia looked at him, folded her arms, and clenched her fists.
“Well,” he paused only long enough to put his hand on his heart, “I’m with her on that one.”
“Oh, you are, are you? I guess you’ll be with her tonight in a tent on the back lawn,” Lia said.
“Yes, yes, yes!” Meeka shouted, dancing around them both, “Can Logan and Poet and Nate and Cole and their dog and their cat and their crocodile come too? Please, please, please …”
“Now look what you’ve done!” said Jason. “Stop it, Meeka. Your mother was kidding. Let’s sort out dinner first, eh?”
He turned his attention to Abby and Steve. “We’d love for you to come to dinner, and we’d like to meet Poet, Nate and Cole, though I think you can leave the cat, the dog and the crocodile for another day.”
He reached out and put his hand on Meeka’s head. “Don’t worry about how we’ll feed you—if Janet can’t get something for us we’ll spit-roast Happy here.”
Steve looked at Meeka. “You might prefer the crocodile spit-roasted. Happy might not go round us all.”
“Oh, there’s always enough Happy in this house for everyone,” Lia said.
Meeka jumped up and down. “Especially if the kids can go camping!”
Jason looked a little sad. “Sorry, we have no tents.”
“We do!” said Logan. “We love camping, and it would be off the grid awesome on your lawn. We could go right down real close to the sand. It’d be like a holiday on a deserted island.”
“Or like a holiday on the back of a gimungus sea turtle floating on the surface of the great deep where no one has ever been before.” Meeka danced around in excitement.
Steve frowned. “Or like a bunch of kids putting tent peg holes in an immaculate lawn that looks like it’s never been walked on.”
“Thank you,” Lia said. “Someone with common sense. You need to spend some time with Jason. Maybe you could teach him something.”
“Common sense never invented the light bulb,” said Jason.
“Or tried to fly,” said Logan.
“Or land on the moon,” said Meeka as she stood beside Jason, his arm around her shoulders. They sure made a good team.
“I could just ask Janet about the tenting,” Jason said, a hopeful look on his face.
Logan and Meeka both shouted as Lia punched Jason in the arm. “You’re such a pushover,” she said.
“Aw, come on, it’d be fun. We could have a fire on the beach and roast marshmallows and sing camp songs and tell scary stories. You could still sleep in your bed. Promise.” He looked at Lia with big puppy-dog eyes. She shook her head and smiled.
“Okay, I guess it does sound like fun. As long as Janet is all right with it, and Abby and I don’t have to do any work. We’ll sit inside and eat chocolate and cake while you guys set everything up. Agreed?”
“Deal. That is, if Steve and Abby don’t mind?” Jason asked. “Come bedtime you’re welcome to tent or sleep inside or go back to your own home and abandon us to the back of the giant deserted turtle island.”
“Sounds like fun. We’ll be in.” Steve said.
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