The Cece & Juan Vignettes - Ch 4: The Best
Hey, loves. We're back for another installment for the Cece and Juan Vignettes. Do enjoy.
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Chapter Four - The Best
Six years old ...
"Well?" Juan asked.
Cece looked over at him, her peripheral vision taking in everything else in her surroundings at the same time. The intricately designed carpet her grandmother had imported from Japan, and the table that rested upon it, acting as their current shelter and hiding spot from the rest of the dinner party.
It wasn't like Cece didn't enjoy being out with the rest of her family when they had these things. She did, and she certainly enjoyed being the center of attention when it was all the adults in her family giving it to her. And then other times, the parties went on for hours. They talked and talked and talked more. About things she didn't understand, or stuff that just didn't interest her. And since this was when she was allowed to stay up later than her normal bedtime, she tried to use that to her advantage as much as she could.
By doing something she liked.
Like hiding under the table and listening.
And tonight, she was extra lucky because Juan had come to New York with his father. Since it was summer break, he didn't have to be at school, neither did she, and he was going to be there for another week before he had to go back to Cali. As far as she knew, because she asked her mother every single day just to make sure plans hadn't changed, she and her ma would be following them to Cali within a couple of days.
Which was good.
Because Cece hated when Juan was gone.
She liked it better when he was near.
"I'll go get it for you," he told her.
Cece smiled because yeah, she knew. "But someone might see, and then we'll have to go to bed."
She was pretty sure, despite being allowed to stay up late on their dinner party nights with her family that it was way past the time when she was allowed to stay up. It was almost guaranteed that if she came out from underneath the table, or even Juan because everyone would know wherever Juan was hiding, so was Cece, that they would put her to bed.
She didn't want to go to bed yet.
So, hiding it was.
"It's okay," she said, "there'll be some tomorrow."
Juan scoffed, rolling his dark eyes her way. Despite being seven, and only one year older than her, she sometimes thought they were both--somehow--older than their years. It could be just a passing thing one of them said, or like this, with him and his attitude. Thing was, she liked his attitude too, and he always put up with hers.
So, it worked.
"Doubt any will be left tomorrow. They drink, and they eat."
"And laugh a lot."
"Yes, until there's nothing left. So, I will go and get you some, and be right back. Okay?"
"I told you, Juan, they'll see you and--"
"No they won't. Be right back."
She whisper-hissed at his back as he slipped out from under the table cloth at a spot where no one's legs were sticking under. Although only a few people still remained in the dining room. Most had moved onto the sitting room, or even the smaller table in the kitchen where they liked to play poker. Juan had to have heard her call to him, but it didn't slow him down in the slightest, and he didn't turn back around.
Because of course.
Cece grew silent as she waited for the inevitable to happen. For Juan to get caught crossing the room to grab the treat she had been whining about for the last hour, an adult to ask where she was, and then they'd both get put to bed even though she wasn't even tired.
And Juan would probably just roll his eyes when she said I told you so to him again. Because yeah, this wasn't even the third time they tried this trick together.
Then again, she was glad she had him for this.
No one else would bother to try.
Cece was still smiling, and still waiting for one of the adults--probably her parents--to lift the only thing keeping her hidden and out of view, the tablecloth, when Juan quickly slipped back underneath it with a grin.
One that looked way too sly.
He held out a plate.
A whole plate.
Filling the plate was her favorite treats--pink macaroons. Her ma made the very best. But she only let Cece have a couple because she might get a stomach ache, or because sugar was bad for her teeth.
She brushed her teeth.
And who couldn't eat ten macaroons?
Cece's eyes went wide. "Nobody saw you?"
Juan shrugged. "Nope. Learned my lesson the last time--was quick and quiet and nobody saw a thing."
She didn't know if she believed that. She heard people still sitting around the table, even if she hadn't gained the courage to peek her head out and check quite yet. But who knew? Maybe he had managed to sneak out and back without anyone seeing him.
And what did it matter?
But hey, she had her macaroons.
Her hiding spot.
A bedtime that didn't exist.
And Juan under the table with her.
All things Cece loved.
Worked for her.
She took a macaroon from the plate, and offered another to Juan. He took it with a smile, and even though she knew he didn't like them as much as she did--fudge was his favorite, and she'd make sure her ma made him a whole pan of fudge before he left for Cali--he still ate it with a smile.
"Good?" he asked.
Cece nodded. "The best, Juan."
Just like him.
"That's a sweet story," I say.
Cece shrugs as she picks up a handful of toys in the hallway leading to the bedrooms. I join in because kids, man. Kids left their shit everywhere, and it didn't matter if you picked something up a million times and warned them, the toys still became scattered everywhere within the hour. It was basically a guarantee.
"And you know what I wake up to every Saturday morning since we've been married?" she asks.
Her gaze meets mine when she looks over her shoulder. Eyes like her father, but with a face like her mother.
"What?" I ask.
"Pink macaroons. My mom taught him how to make them, and he gets up early every Saturday and makes them for me."