That Wednesday could have been Friday the 13th. It started normal, or as normal as it had become to make breakfast for ten people, checking seven sets of teeth, hands and faces for signs of washing, sent two to change their clothes once again while whipping up enough coffee to fill a lake.
Maksim knew what was coming, with the first bus leaving at two from Sandlewoods coach station, but it didn’t feel like it. They had to leave at least half past twelve to be there in time and he kept checking his watch, but it didn’t seem to register in his mind that this wasn’t another trip to town for supplies or for fun. Four hours and they would be gone, sent off to all corners of Montfort.
Laura pressed a sandwich against his palm and wrapped his fingers tightly around it before glancing up with her serious eyes and returning to filling out empty cups. Urmas kept himself busy by tossing toast what seemed now on a professional level and he too couldn’t hide his seriousness behind smiles.
Children weren’t taking it so tragically though. Petro and Ergo kept fighting over lettuce neither of them wanted, Victor kept explaining the intricacy of snail scales to Anton and Kaspar made faces to cheer up Joni, who sat in Zenya’s lap, his head folded on boy’s chest. Zenya kept staring at his piece of toast and although he looked like he was about to cave in, he kept sitting there, among his brothers and observing them with the same seriousness as Laura and Urmas were. And him, he couldn’t possibly forget himself.
“Well, this is fun and all,” Maksim sighed, finishing the last of his coffee and setting the cup down, “but I want to go swimming before I have to sweat through the next hours on the bus. It’s damn hot outside, and it isn’t even nine yet, so -”
“Maksim said a bad word!” Anton shouted.
“I can say what the hell I wish, I am grown up after all!”
“That’s not how that works.” Urmas mused and sent a quirky glance on his right, where Laura was already giving him the stink eye.
“Hell yeah!” Ergo and Petro screamed in unison and Laura groaned, declaring like a proper adult that they were not allowed to use that word.
“Nuns won’t like it.”
She knew best and Maksim gave her credit for determination at least. She had the bearings of a mother.
Kaspar’s hand shot up. “We don’t have nuns, so I can use it, right?”
“Heck no!” Laura shot back and clasped her hands over her mouth, her cheeks coloring up. “I mean, no, sweetheart, you may not use that language around your orphanage!”
That was two words too late, because all the fingers pointed on her the next moment and the following scream was deafening when they announced they will definitely be using it now and she had no choice but to give in.
Maksim left and while they cleaned up, gathered the towels piled up against the back wall in his bedroom which at some point had become storage for items Laura had finished mucking up. He had no idea what he’d do with that amount of laundry now taking up all the space. He returned to the living room and started giving out them one by one.
“If we want to have time there, we have to leave now!” He pointed out and boys ran to search for their drunks.
Laura sighed. “They’re gonna dig out all their stuff again!”
He shrugged, pulling her in for a quick hug while they were busy and the only one in the room was Urmas.
“I’ll help to put them back.” He promised, pushing her hair out of her face. He loved how rough they felt under his fingers, thick and healthy. “We should have fun instead of worrying our wits, ok?”
She nodded, but her eyebrows remained furrowed. He kissed the line of her hair and pushed her chin up slightly to plant another quick one on her lips.
“Eww! Kissing!” Victor chanted, but Joni giggled then, ruining his small revelation.
Laura snorted on the most improper second and the kiss was broken, but instead of letting go, Maksim turned her on her side, glancing at the boys gathering in the corridor.
“No, this is kissing!” He clasped his hands on both sides of her cheeks and pulled her flush against his chest as he claimed her mouth to a completely different taste. This wasn’t soft or tender, he invaded her mouth and played around with her tongue before she had a chance to dig her hands in his shirt and push him away, but she didn’t release it from her grip.
“TMI, honey.” Her voice shook when he smiled down at her, feeling as good as before, sensing the depredation disappearing between them as the boys made their way to the front door, where Urmas was dutifully pushing them outside. Second later he understood why she wasn’t letting him go. Her legs were trembling so hard he felt her knees buckle against his as she sought support. He clasped his hands together on her back and cradled her with a knowing smile. He wanted her to know this was alright. He gave her the last quick kiss on her cheek, this time far milder in making, but it proved to undo her when her hands let him go and pushed through between his sides and his arms to close around him.
“I’d like to take you out for a dinner.” He cleared his throat, hiding how easily this one move had turned him back to being a teenager.
What if she said no? This had turned out to be most unusual way to get to know someone, but he hadn’t regretted any of it.
“Officially, as my girlfriend.” He added to clear any misunderstanding about what he wanted. He wanted her to stay.