A Little Friday Fun - Greater!
Chuck heard them when they came back, mostly because his weighs-less-than-one-hundred-pounds daughter somehow managed to sound like an elephant all of the time. Also, she didn’t believe in quiet chatter. She must have been in a good mood, for he could hear her all the way from his office/bedroom. Since he was at a good place to stop—his computer needed to render anyway—he picked up his empty soda glass and headed downstairs to greet the newly returned.
He found them in the kitchen, where Sarah was helping Violet out of her winter coat. “Hey, strangers,” he said.
“Daddy!” Violet rocketed at him as though it had been weeks instead of hours since she’d seen him last, leaving Sarah holding her coat. “You’re here!”
“Where else would I be? How was the movie?”
“Even better this time. Giselle was so pretty and I wasn’t even scared of the evil witch, not even when she turned into a dragon.” Violet let him go to bounce away, twirling around as she did so. Chuck raised an eyebrow at Sarah. “Though it’s silly.”
“Dragons should have wings so they can fly.”
“You won’t get any argument from me. What’d you think of the movie, Sarah?”
She narrowed her eyes at him, briefly, but when she answered, the polite smile was in place. “Entertaining. The main actor was pretty cute. Distinguished.”
“Cuter than Daddy?” Violet looked absolutely betrayed.
Chuck scooped his daughter up so that he could mirror her look. “Yeah, cuter than me?”
He could see Sarah struggling not to roll her eyes—which made his grin brighten. “No, I think you’d win in that fight,” she said, though her eyes promised revenge at some point for putting her on the spot.
“That fight, and only that fight,” Chuck agreed, as he really was quite the pacifist. “Megabyte, why don’t you go put your coat away where it belongs instead of making Sarah hold onto it like that?”
It spoke volumes of Violet’s good mood that she agreed, even twirling a little as she took the coat from Sarah. The minute she was out of the kitchen, Sarah dropped the smile. “You could have mentioned that movie was propaganda,” she said without preamble.
“Little girl, single dad, Disney princess that just so happens to end up bonding with the little girl and becoming her stepmom at the end of the movie?” Sarah glared. “Real subtle. It was all she could talk about on the way home.”
“I…did not even think about it that way,” Chuck said, which was the absolute truth. “I mean, the movie had an elaborate dance number in the middle of Central Park. You can’t take movies like that seriously.”
“You can if you’re five!”
“Okay, fine, you can take her to the next Godzilla movie or something,” Chuck said. In a flash of pure survival instinct, he understood that a grin in that moment might get him killed, so he bit his lip, hard. He’d taken Violet to see Enchanted after Thanksgiving, as a way to help her forget that Sophie had flaked out on her—again—and when Sarah had offered to take Violet off his hands for a couple of hours so he could get some work done, he hadn’t thought anything of suggesting they go see the movie together. It was playing at the cheap theater nearby because it had been out for almost two months, and it seemed like a good girls’ day out.
And now his daughter was ecstatic, but his secret-girlfriend was displeased. Apparently he’d had better ideas.
“Don’t you think that’s a bit scary for her?” Sarah asked, taking him seriously.
“I don’t know, the last one starred Ferris Bueller. Again, you can’t take movies like that seriously.”
“I have no idea who that is.”
“That hurts me, right here,” Chuck said, grabbing his chest. He saw the first fissures in Sarah’s annoyance begin to form when she bit her lip. “We’ll have a movie night sometime and watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I promise you, no propaganda in that film about little girls and stepmothers.”
Violet came shooting back in, skidding around on her socked feet. Sarah absently grabbed a handful of the back of her shirt to keep her from tumbling over. “Can we go see the movie again, Sarah? I like Giselle, a lot. I like you more, but she’s great, too, and isn’t it awesome that she stayed in our world instead of Andalasia so she could stay with Robert instead of Prince Edward? And Morgan, of course.”
“I don’t know,” Sarah said, a smile finally breaking out. “You get great cell reception in Andalasia. And the animals talk.”
“I want a Pip of my very own,” Violet said with a long, happy sigh.
“I think you’ll have to settle with a Sir,” Chuck said.
Violet’s eyes went wide. “Sir! Where is he? Is he outside?”
And just like that, she rocketed off, to reconnect with her canine best friend, leaving Chuck and Sarah in the kitchen. “I should go,” Sarah said, glancing at the camera hidden in the corner. Chuck wanted to pout, to ask her to stay longer, but he knew better. Their relationship might have been brand new, but they were being watched. “Casey’s meeting some Marine buddies tonight, though, so…”
“Come over?” Chuck asked. “We can watch a movie without stepmom propaganda in it.”
“Maybe you should come over to our place.” Sarah’s eyes didn’t cut to the camera again, but Chuck caught the meaning anyway. It was amazing how quickly his entire system could spring to attention. “If you can’t get a sitter, bring Vi and her horse. I’ll cook. We could discuss some mission…stuff, either way.”
“Deal,” Chuck said. He liked it when they discussed “mission stuff,” as there wasn’t much discussing involved. “Did you at least have a good time at the propaganda—I mean, movie?”
“Best movie I’ve seen with guys getting wiped out by cyclists I’ve seen all year,” Sarah said, and giving him one final smile, left.