Victoria cast her line with a bit of mushroom on the end into the pond. The kids knew to come to her immediately upon waking up and she could glance back and keep an eye on the camp from the spot she chose at the pond. Both Sophie and Josef would bring the camp chairs with them and either work on homework or chat to one another. Ever since that day with the fisherman, Sophie had worked very hard to keep their situation under wraps. Victoria’s small sister even worked to help Josef understand.
“What the heck?” Victoria felt a strong pull on her line and began to spin the reel on the fishing pole.
After what felt to be hours, but was probably more like minutes, she pulled in a small chest.
“I wonder what’s inside?” She couldn’t help but wish it were something amazing to change their fate.
She looked all around but couldn’t find a way to open the small lock on the chest. In the end she set it down and decided to work on it later back at the camp.
Victoria stood outside the Gill’s residence a bit nervous.
Since receiving the invitation from Bradley that he wanted her at his birthday party she wasn’t sure what to do. She really wanted to attend the party. She liked Bradley a lot. He was so funny and handsome. She also really wanted to feel normal and part of something again. So many invitations she had turned down to make sure she and the kids were safe, fed and hidden. They visited their friends at the park or at the pool in the gym at least every week, but to come to someone’s house was a completely new thing.
“Are you two sure you want to be here?” Victoria looked at the kids again searching their faces for honesty.
“Yes!” Josef shouted enthusiastically. “I hope there is cake!”
Victoria wanted the kids to have an opportunity to socialize, but she just didn’t know how she would handle it if either Sophie or Josef said anything about the TV or the radio that was likely to be in the Gill home. They both knew about those things of course, Victoria and Sophie had a small TV when they lived with their mother back in Willow Creek. Josef had mentioned watching cartoons too, but neither of the kids had much exposure to TV in a long while.
“There certainly is cake!” Bradley came out to greet them. “My mom hired a caterer and everything!”
“Hi Camille!” Sophie ran up to Bradley’s sister. “We are so happy to be here!”
“Oh, Sophie, I have to show you that new dollhouse I told you all about at school!” Camille led Sophie into the house.
Bradley grabbed Victoria’s hands and smiled, “Come on Tori, let me introduce you to my mom!”
The party was so much fun. The kids ate better than they had in a long while. Not only did Mrs. Gill hire a caterer, there were treats and snacks set out as well. It made Victoria a bit sad to see the delight in their faces and wish she could provide even more for them.
“Hey, why so glum?” Bradley came up to Victoria. “Check this out! No one can watch cat gifs and not crack up!” The pair stared at his phone laughing at the cat antics.
“Really! I wish you wouldn’t make such a mess! I hired you to cater this event, not trash my house!” Mrs. Gill hissed at the caterer who appeared to take it in stride.
“Now, Victoria dear, help yourself please,” Iliana Gill said turning to Victoria. ” I know Bradley is thrilled that some of his school friends could be here. I’d love to meet your parents soon!”
“Well, my parents work a lot,” Victoria explained. “Such a lovely home you have here Mrs. Gill!” Victoria said in an attempt to change the subject, “I love your art work, I’m hoping to become an artist myself eventually.”
“Oh, Mr. Gill is an avid contributor at the museum. We must have you and your family out for one of our Gala fund raisers!”
“Boy, Mrs. Gill isn’t very nice is she?” Josef whispered to Victoria later when they were sitting beside each other.
“Josef!” Victoria said hastily. “Don’t judge her, I can understand a bit, Bradley’s mother probably paid a lot for that caterer’s service and she really did make a mess over there.” Victoria whispered back.
It was finally time for cake and Bradley blew out his candles. The kids couldn’t contain themselves and gathered eagerly around the pretty cake with the festive candles.
After Bradley blew out the candles, everyone cheered and tossed some of the confetti Mrs. Gill had set around for the celebration.
The caterer sliced the cake and Josef finally got his cake and appeared to be in childhood heaven.
“Wanna know what I wished?” Bradley whispered to Victoria.
“Umm isn’t that bad luck or something?” Victoria grinned. “Won’t telling it make it not come true?”
“I’ll take my chances,” Bradley looked at Victoria and whispered, “I wished that you’d be my girlfriend.”