Butler wasn’t used to assignments such as this. He wasn’t used to being told, quite plainly, that he was going to be a babysitter and a moving mule. He could not, however, find a way to decline. Miss Green seemed preoccupied with her new friend — they were having a ‘LAN party’ in her room, whatever that amounted to. And, unfortunately, Mister Green’s Butler was still on vacation. He’d have to call her to make sure that this never happened again.
That left James, Hailey’s Butler, in the truck with Parker, Henry’s friend, in shotgun beside him. Currently, they were headed toward Parker’s place of residence, where he had been instructed to obtain all of her belongings, and take them home, and transfer them to the room across the way from Mister Green’s room, where the freshie stayed. His objective after that was to take Parker shopping: furniture, clothing and whatever she designated as ‘essential.’
Butler brought the car to a stop at a red light, and turned his massive frame to look at Parker, his charge for the evening. “How many trips do you think we’ll need to get everything from your house? There’s plenty of room in here. However, if you feel we may need a U-Haul trailer, then I’d like to know now.”
Parker was bouncing in her seat; the fact that she was excited wasn’t because she was bouncing - she did that anyway - it was because she wasn’t looking at videos on her phone. The idea of getting bunk beds and sharing a room with a cool sister like Mincy was even more exciting than having crackers and peanut butter after a bath. But it wasn’t more exciting than grape juice. Of course that wasn’t a fair comparison. Nothing
was more exciting than grape juice.
The man driving the car was someone Parker didn’t know, so naturally she assumed he was Henry’s dad. They didn’t look alike but sometimes the people in movies don’t look like their children so maybe it was like that. She didn’t ask questions. He looked like a dad so that’s what he was. Simple as that. "I DON’T HAVE A HOUSE!”
The standard answer that came up whenever someone asked about her living conditions. For a dad, this guy didn’t seem too up on things, but it was okay, Parker didn’t go around telling people she lived in a tent. Not even her best friend knew until this morning."IT’S OKAY, YOU LOOK STRONG!”
While not really answering the question about trips, Parker offered reassurance. She didn’t have much to pack. A tent. The cooler that once housed her grape juice boxes could be replaced by a mini fridge. Her clothes were in a toybox looking chest. And her handheld gaming device. "IT’S THERE!”
Parker undid her seatbelt and opened the passenger door while the car was rounding the corner towards her house. She was on the sidewalk and running towards the front door as the car door was swinging freely. Parker almost tripped going out, but she moved with the grace of someone who had clearly done that before.
Did she just jump out of the car? Butler brought the vehicle to a complete stop in front of the home and opened his own door, turning to look at the girl for a brief second before he walked to the passenger’s side and slammed it shut. Then, he lumbered toward the front door, “This is a home, you realize?”
He asked the little girl. Before she could respond, he added, “Don’t jump out of the car again. You could be hurt, and I don’t want that to happen on my watch. Now, lead me to your room so that I can grab everything that belongs to you and load it up.”
Idly, Butler wondered if this technically counted as kidnapping. From what he understood, they didn’t have the girl’s parents permission, nor had they even asked. They were simply extraditing her from her current home to the Green estate. While not a morality problem, Butler wasn’t interested in the potential trouble the Green children could find themselves in if this went the wrong way. On the other hand, having the loud one around on a more permanent basis may serve as a way to stop Henry from being so many random women around. That was a positive.
This was the second time in as many days that Parker had someone over and the reasons for it couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed. Shi-Shi had been really cool and even hung out with Parker for a little bit before Parker got bored and went to Henry’s house with her new friend; this older guy seemed a bit less willing to hang out on the air mattress and look at Parker’s collection of Pocket Monsters. She had an entire box in the game full of the same bird type because when the game told her to ‘catch ‘em all’ she assumed first that it meant ‘catch all of them in the first patch of grass’ and it wasn’t until she asked how many birds she had to catch that her error was corrected. No, this adult was acting very parental and while Parker still thought he was Henry’s dad, she didn’t think he had to be so...dad-like. "WAIT HERE.”
As with yesterday there wasn’t the same enthusiasm to Parker’s tone when she told Butler to wait in the front while she bounced up the front steps and entered the house, closing and locking the door behind her. Before she popped up in the backyard to open the fence, she made sure to grab the photo of a woman on stage from off the mantle. "IT’S THIS WAY.”
The gate to the backyard swung open and Parker led the way, gesturing to her tent. "YOU TAKE THAT.”
Parker pointed to a chest normally reserved for lawn chairs which contained her clothing - only it was a mix of clean and dirty clothing and not exactly organized. Parker crawled into her tent to grab her handheld gaming device and the nearly finished bag of Lucky Charms marshmallows. Between the chest, the marshmallows, the gaming system, and the tent, along with the photo cradled under her arm it was safe to say that Butler was seeing everything Parker had to her name. "CAN WE GET ICE CREAM AFTER?”
Parker didn’t seem to mind that her life was essentially worth no more than a camping set.
Butler looked at the chest that Parker had gestured at, then back at the moving truck he’d brought, then shook his head. “This is it?”
He asked, walking over and picking it up. He looked inside, and dug around for a second, before frowning. Did this child live alone? Did she have a parent in her life? He hefted the chest, and looked at the girl, “young lady, we are going shopping. Apparently, you need everything.”
He sighed. This was turning out to be more of a time consuming venture than he’d wanted it to be. He had to take her to get clothes, furniture, and who knows what else? He’d probably have to feed her. From the looks of things, she didn’t eat very well — was she just carrying a bag of Lucky Charms marshmallows? Yes, it appeared she was. “We can possibly go get ice cream, if you’re well behaved.”
Butler said after a few moments of silence. He wasn’t sure about this plan. Was it wise for the Green family to step in here? Had the matrons even been approached about this?
Butler was a firm believer in the idea that it took a village to raise a child — after all, Miss Green had been raised by three parents, and he liked to think that she looked at him as somewhat of a role model. After all, he’d been by her side since the day she was born. As a firm believer in that rule, he felt that perhaps Parker moving in with the Greens could be a positive thing. Maybe she’d learn, and grow as a person. Maybe it’d be better for her. At the very least, she would be able to eat better meals.“Let’s go. We’ll do furniture shopping, then clothes shopping, then we’ll get something to eat. Something real. And filling.”"BUT I LIKE THE MARSHMALLOWS. I LIKE THE RED ONES, THEY’RE THE BIGGEST!”
Parker went on the defensive at the sheer suggestion that marshmallows were somehow not a real meal. They were her only source of food since she wasn’t brave enough to use the oven and the microwave was too tall to use. Sometimes she ate burgers at the diner but only if the customer sent them back, otherwise they came out of her paycheck which sucked but if it didn’t then Parker would probably eat more burgers than she could actually handle. So a meal, a proper one at that, didn’t sound all the way bad. "CAN I RIDE ON YOUR BACK? PLEASE?”
Because Parker saw Butler as an adult figure, she was using her manners instead of just hopping on his back and hoping for the best. Her eyes were hopeful because to her, the trek from backyard back to the car was like a forty mile desert and Butler was the perfect camel. "ARE WE GOING TO THE BIG STORE? WITH ALL THE LITTLE STORES IN IT? OH THEY LITTLE BROWN TWISTY THINGS THERE. I WANT ONE!”
If nothing else, Parker remained ever enthusiastic.
Butler paused in walking, glancing over at Parker. She wanted to ride on his back? That wouldn’t be a problem. He was big, and tall, and strong. He could definitely carry her, but he’d learned long ago to never just give things away. Kids were easy, if you knew what you were doing: make a trade. So, Butler countered her request with one of his own. “I’ll give you a piggyback ride, if you’ll answer a question for me. How is your mother going to feel about this, uh, extended sleepover, Parker?”
Butler had to ask, and he had to have an idea of it. He would be bad at his job if he didn’t; both Mrs. Greens were likely to ask him about it.“Does she maybe have a number we can call to talk to her if we need to?”
Butler had broached both subjects that were important to him. If Parker answered both of them now, then his work was done and he could carry on without a worry. “Churros? I guess we can get some churros. Yes, we’ll probably go to the mall. I think a lot of what we’ll need will be there.”
Butler looked down at Parker expectantly, waiting for answers.
There was a singular moment of silence at the mention of Parker’s mother; Parker binked up at Butler as if he had just asked the poor girl to recite the multiplication table and Min was nowhere around to whisper the answers to her. It was the first time Parker’s goofy constant grin showed signs of going away and turning upside down. "YOU CAN ASK HER YOURSELF.”
Parker reached under her arm and pulled out what she had cradled there: a framed photo of a woman that seemed to be a promotional shot given that it was framed to ensure some kind of music award was also in the picture. Parker held the photo up in front of her face and started to lightly shake the photo back and forth. "I THINK IT’S OKAY AND YOU SHOULD GET ME...HER SOME ICE CREAM.”
Parker tried her best to sound like a mother but it was just her lowering the pitch of her voice while still keeping the volume in tact.
She put the framed photo back down and under her arm again. "NOT A CHURRO WHAT’S A CHURRO I MEAN THE BREADY TWISTY THING! CAN WE GET BOTH? PIGGY BACK RIDE! IN THE MALL TOO! YEAH!”
Whatever moment of hesitation Parker might have had was forgotten amidst a promise of piggybacking and snack foods.
Butler watched as Parker seemed to briefly… lose whatever it was she had. It came back, while she pretended to talk from behind a photo frame. This, to him, sealed the deal. Whatever her living situation was now, it was far from ideal, and he would have no problem taking her home and explaining to the Green matrons what the deal was. They could figure out the details if they so chose, but if this child was so far gone as to talk from behind a photo, then it could only be up from here.
He turned his body and dropped down to a knee so he was at a more manageable height. Butler shifted the package in his arms, and nodded. “Very well. Get on. Churros are fried bread covered in cinnamon sugar and served with chocolate sauce. However, I’ve since changed my mind. You will get ice cream after supper if you behave.”
This… this would be an experience.
In that moment, Parker didn’t know a churro from chorizo because she was about to be given the piggy back ride of her life. When she hopped on the backs of her friends sometimes they went along with it but sometimes they had weak backs and almost dropped her. It seemed unlikely that this would happen with Butler and Parker was all too happy to climb aboard. Her laughter was a pure expression of joy as she ushered her mighty steed forward and onward. "CAN I GET THREE SCOOPS? NO...NO FOUR! FIVE! FIVE SCOOPS! YEAH!”
This was turning into one of Parker’s best days ever. Any day that involved ice cream was a great day.
Sometime later, the dynamic duo were on their way out of the mall. Butler had purchased bunk beds, several different posters, and a pile of clothes. He had also stopped at a pretzel stall in the mall and bought her a single, classic, salted pretzel. He himself had bought one as well. All of their things had been loaded into the vehicle by trained professionals, and they were nearly out of the place, when they were stopped by an employee of a nearby shop. “Why don’t you two stop by Happy Paws? Maybe you can find a new friend! I be they could fit on your shoulders — like she is,”
the young man said, pointing at Parker, who was still receiving a piggyback ride.
Butler shook his head, and moved to get around the guy. “We’re not interested.”
He said, giving the man a nod. It wasn’t his fault. He was paid to be annoying. “Thank you, but if you could move out of the way, it would be greatly appreciated.”
The employee, however, turned his attention to Parker. “Awww, come on. Don’t you want to come look at some kitties or puppies?”
Butler scowled. Scum.
There were few things that could get Parker willingly to come down from a piggyback ride; it was unfortunate that Butler had encountered one of those things. "LOOK AT THEM!”
Parker, even from her vantage point, could see through the storefront window at the animals just on the other side. She wanted to go inside. More than that, she wanted one. Almost more than she wanted ice cream. More than she wanted a pretzel, which she found delicious and freshly baked. "I WANNA GO IN! I WANNA KITTY! HENRY HAS WATER DOGS AND MINCY GOT A STUFFED DUCKY SO I NEED A KITTY!”
Pets were all over the place at Henry’s house and if Parker was going to stay there she would need to have one. Or two. Definitely two. "KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY KITTY!”
Even if Butler said no, Parker was wiggling and worming her way free; it was quite possible that she would take a tumble off Butler’s back if it meant the chance to go inside and pet or look at the animals. "COME ON! INSIDE!”
Butler wasn’t sure about this. He hadn’t been told to buy her animals
, but he supposed he had no choice at this point. He took Parker off of his shoulders and sat her down in front of him. Butler kept a firm grip on her shoulders, keeping her from running off as he took a knee in front of her, so they were… closer to eye level. Ignoring the annoying employee, Butler stared into Parker’s eyes with a heavy look. This was not a good plan. “We will go look at pets. BUT, you will get on one with some conditions. You are going to be responsible for it, young lady. That means training it, feeding it, making sure it has water, cleaning up after it, and, most importantly, playing plenty with it to make sure it has plenty of exercise. Your kitty will be your charge. If you fail your charge, then I will step in and take over for you. And the cat will be mine.”
Butler squinted at her, his eyes hard and his gaze a challenge. “Are we clear, Parker?”
If this were a cartoon, as Parker so often liked to think it was, her feet would have been going so fast they would resemble the Tazmanian Devil; such was her enthusiasm that not even Butler’s strong grip on her shoulder could keep the girl from bouncing up and down like she had just eaten a bowl of sugar. There were only a few words that Parker heard and they were the only ones she needed
to hear: pets, one, kitty, cat
. She was getting a kitty! And it wasn’t even her birthday. Was it? No, there was still school, so her birthday hadn’t happened yet. "YES! I’LL BE ITS BEST FRIEND HONEST. THANK YOU! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!”
If her body wasn’t being held back by Butler, she likely would’ve hugged the man.
Butler shook his head, fairly certain that this was a poorly contrived plan, that would only end in him having a kitten. Sighing, Butler released his grip on Parker’s shoulder, instead transferring to holding the tiny girl’s hand in his, before he pointed toward the pet store. “Well then, Miss Parker. Lead the way.”
Stepping into the store was like stepping headlong into a new world, one that Parker was exceptionally glad to be part of. Right away the sound was different, gone was the light music of mall shopping it was now replaced by animal noises and the chirps of birds fluttering about in their cages. There was a pit of puppies playing about and Parker had to be informed by a sign that said ‘DO NOT ENTER’ to keep herself from climbing the little gate and never coming out of the puppy pet zone. As cute as the puppies were, Parker couldn’t have one. She was once bitten by a dog when she had just tried to play fetch with the bone in its mouth and for that she swore off dogs forever. Unless they’re in movies or cartoons.
Parker led the way through the store, making a point to go down every aisle that had an animal, before finally arriving at the Kat Korner. So many cats and kittens were there for the browsing, orange Garfield ones, black ones, white ones, fluffy ones, but Parker’s eyes honed in on one almost right away. Its seagreen eyes had locked onto hers and Parker was taken in by the silvery blue of ts fur. "THAT ONE. IT MEWED AT ME. IT’S MY FRIEND!”
Parker didn’t have a name in mind yet, but she knew that was the cat she wanted. A little Russian Blue kitten.
Butler was silent while she stared at the pets. Watching Parker get caught up in the general childlike wonderment of a pet store was… interesting. Really, there were no words to describe her other than ‘cute.’ Once she’d made her choice, Butler nodded, and waved over an attendant, who got the cat out of the back. After a few more minutes of shopping, now needing various cat related items, Butler and Parker were sitting in the now very full moving truck.“So. What are you going to name her?”
Butler asked, putting the vehicle into drive, and heading back on the road. “Remember, Parker. I have high expectations for you here. You’d best take good care of this pet.”
It was a herculean task getting Parker to sit still long enough for the seatbelt to be applied as she was bouncing in the seat like a hyperactive child on a sugar high. The carrier containing her new cat was in her lap and it took every single bit of restraint the girl had not to just open the thing and let the cat out into her lap. The temptation was there, stronger than anything she’d felt thus far, but the car was cramped and at home there would be more places for the cat to enjoy herself. "HER NAME IS JASMINE. LIKE THE PRINCESS! BECAUSE SHE HAS BLUE FUR LIKE JASMINE’S PANTS.”
She was proud of the name and her gaze was locked on Jasmine. Parker’s enthusiasm was there but she was determined to show Butler - and herself - that she could do this. That she was a good pet owner. "I love her.”
That Parker had found an indoor voice was shocking, almost as much as the fact that her eyes were a bit watery while she was still looking at Jasmine. "THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.”
The princess with the blue pants, huh? Butler was surprised that Parker was able to speak in such a quiet voice, but once she did, Butler nodded. “Alright. Let’s go get dinner,”
he said, and before long they wound up at a diner — not the one that Parker worked at, but not too different from it. It took Butler a hundred dollar bill, but ultimately the restaurant relented on their ‘no pets’ rule, and in the end, Jasmine’s carrier was sitting beside Parker in the booth they were in.“What do you want to eat? And no, you can’t have ice cream for dinner. If you eat all of your actual food, I’ll let you get dessert.”
Butler said, eyeing the girl on the other side of the table. His menu was already folded and laid face down. He knew what he wanted, and was simply waiting for Parker to decide.
Parker had barely bothered looking at the menu given that her time was better spent on peering into the carrier at her new best friend. She could tell some of the other customers were a bit put-off but let them stare. Parker was used to that. As much as she would’ve liked to sit there with Jasmine and possibly even take her out of the carrier, something told her that that would be a surefire way to not get ice cream at the end of the meal. She picked up the menu and immediately looked for the pictures. It was how she always ordered, showing the picture of the food item instead of just saying it. This of course meant her selections were limited but she was someone that lived on Lucky Charms marshmallows so anything served here was several steps above that. "THIS. I’M GETTING THIS.”
Parker showed Butler on the menu, A thick looking burger with two patties. Over a pound of meat and that was without the toppings. "AND GRAPE JUICE. BIG, COLD GLASS!”
If this place didn’t have grape juice she would have demanded they go somewhere else.
Butler looked at what she had pointed at and thought about his play. Could he convince her that she probably didn’t need that much food? No, probably not. But, he could always play the system a bit. “Okay.”
He said, before waving a waitress over. Once the woman was there, Butler placed their order. He took the menu away from Parker, and turned it so only the waitress could see, pointing at the much more manageable quarter pound burger. “I’d like a double bacon cheeseburger for myself, and then for my friend here, one of these.”
Butler tapped the menu again, before the waitress nodded, marking on her notepad.“To drink, I’ll have a Shirley Temple, and she wants grape juice. You might as well bring a pitcher of the stuff.”
The waitress nodded, and took both menus, before heading off into the kitchen to place their order. “Don’t waste any food, Parker. You’d better eat your whole plate.”
He said, before the waitress returned with his red drink and — as requested — an entire pitcher of grape juice with a glass filled with ice. She sat them down and Butler nodded his thanks, before pouring Parker a glass."I CAN’T EAT THE PLATE, IT’S NOT FOOD!”
Whether the expression was understood or not didn’t seem to matter; Parker was making the obvious little comment all the same and she was giggling as if she had just seen a stand up routine. Her little bout of laughter lasted just long enough to be silenced by her downing half her glass of grape juice as soon as it was poured and put in front of her. At the rate she was likely to go, a second pitcher was in the cards. "DO YOU THINK JASMINE WANTS SOME? MAYBE I SHOULD GET HER A FISH SANDWICH THING. BUT NONE OF THE WHITE STUFF, CATS HATE IT.”
Parker again looked inside the carrier, sticking a finger through the opening and lightly petting Jasmine’s fur. It was taken by the little blonde as a good thing that the cat didn’t scratch or mewl angrily. "ARE YOU HENRY’S DAD? YOU’RE LIKE THE COOLEST DAD. HENRY DOESN’T TALK ABOUT YOU IF YOU ARE.”
Parker took another gulp of juice, her glass now empty save for the clinking of ice.“No, I am not Henry’s father. I am Hailey’s butler. I’m on loan for the day, to help you. Parker, have you yet considered that maybe Jasmine would prefer you talk in a lower voice? After all, cats have very sensitive ears.”
Butler explained, keeping her grape juice full. He had a plan, but he wasn’t sure if it was going to work. Like any plan, though, it was worth a shot. After a few more moments, their plates were brought to them: Butler a large burger with a basket of steak fries, and Parker a smaller burger with a basket of steak fries.
Butler popped one of the fries into his mouth and frowned. “Hmmm. Maybe you should read instead of just using the pictures, Parker. That doesn’t look like the picture — but sometimes the pictures are made to look better so you’ll buy it. Oh well, I guess.”"SHE CAN’T HEAR ME RIGHT NOW.”
Parker spoke in a lower voice which still carried well across the table, like a whisper that could be heard down the hall. "SHE’S IN HER CARRYING THING.”
Parker’s grasp on things was unique though she would have to keep it in mind going forward. The materials given at the pet store included a care manual but her excitement meant that she hadn’t exactly read it or even listened all that closely to the pet shop clerk as they explained some of the more important bits.
When the food arrived, Parker was visibly disappointed in her burger. Pouted lips obscured only by another sip of juice. "THAT’S NOT FAIR, IT LOOKS BIGGER ON THE MENU.”
Though she was upset, a burger was still a burger and after getting over the disappointment she dug in all the same. The first bite was a bit of a messy one, as her eating style meant that some of the toppings on the burger - bits of lettuce and onion - dropped onto the plate but she didn’t much mind as she had a second bite. "BUT IT TASTES GOOD. AND I CAN READ BUT THE PICTURES ARE THERE FOR A REASON! READING TAKES TOO LONG.”
While Parker was eating with a ravenous hunger, Butler made sure to keep her glass almost constantly full. She sipped half of it, he filled it back up. If she ate enough food, and drank enough liquid, then she wouldn’t have any room for dessert. And more importantly, he wouldn’t be dealing with a sugar-high’d out Parker. Based solely on his experience so far, that would be a truly awful thing to have on his plate.
Butler drowned his fries in seasonings. First, in the black pepper on the table, then with a splash of salt. Then, he called the waitress over again, asking if they had any parmesan cheese, or chili flake shakers. Luckily for her, they had both, and a set was brought to the dynamic duo, which Butler quickly dumped onto his food.“Maybe you could learn to speed read. You can read faster than you look at pictures, if you just practice. But, I get it. You probably couldn’t do it even if you tried — it is pretty hard, and it’s tough to read that fast, and retain the information.”
He paused, and ate one of the fries.“You probably couldn’t do it if you tried.”
Parker looked on in horror as Butler utterly ruined his fries with the addition of all that…stuff
. She wanted to just snatch his plate away to prevent the murder of those innocent potatoes but it was too late. The fries were slathered in bits and pieces of different spices and seasonings. Parker could only save her own fries from such a fate and chomped down two of them at once. What kind of monster put all that on there? "I CAN DO IT. MY MOM SAID I CAN DO ANYTHING I WANT.”
Parker hadn’t realized that she had been baited so effectively but if she had she likely wouldn’t have cared anyway. "I JUST DON’T LIKE READING. IT’S BORING. I KNOW HOW. SEE?”
Parker reached for the bottle of ketchup at the table and turned it over to the boring bits. "SERVING SIZE...CAR-GO-HIDE-RATES.”
She set the bottle down and, for good measure, proudly puffed her chest like she had won some argument.
Butler shook his head in disbelief, throwing another fry into his mouth. “Parker, that’s not what that word says.”
He took the bottle away from her and scanned the back of it, “it says ‘carbohydrates.’ I don’t think you can read, you’d better practice. If you don’t well in school, then you’ll never do well in life. And that won’t be fun for anyone.”
He explained, before fully turning his focus onto his plate of food. Butler was taking huge bites of his burger, and throwing two or three fries into his mouth at a time.“Eat your food.”
He said with a mouth full of food. If eating the food was a race, at the rate he was going, Butler was going to win."I CAN READ! AND I’M GETTING GRADES IN CLASS! I BET I GOT BETTER GRADES THAN YOU!”
Parker stuck her tongue out at Butler , a nerve seemingly being struck by the man’s comments. The little sense of accomplishment that Parker had deflated along with her puffed chest. She dealt with this massive blow to the ego by taking chomps of her burger, barely swallowing the first bite before she went back for the second. More of the condiments dropped to the plate as Parker silently consumed her burger. "I AM EATING. AND YOU PROMISED ME ICE CREAM.”
Parker was still focused on the prize of a cold, sweet treat, and her burger was being consumed rapidly, though some of it was splattered onto her face and plate as she ate the whole thing. Savoring the food was not in Parker’s vocabulary. With her hands, she picked up some of the lettuce and onions that had fallen and started eating them too, leaving only the fries and drips of condiments on the plate. "ICE CREAM!”
Butler looked at her plate, and saw that there was still food there; actual, real food in the form of french fries, he shook his head. “No. You can’t be wasteful. Finish your meal.”
Butler tossed the last french fry of his own plate into his mouth, and waved the waitress over. “Can we get the brownie ala mode, please?”
He asked, pointing at the picture of the large brownies covered in vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce.“Just one spoon, for now. She can’t finish her dinner, she can’t have her dessert.”
He said, glancing over at Parker. The waitress nodded, and Butler looked at Parker. “No wasting food.”"BUT THE FRIES ARE THE WORST PART!”
Parker was pouting as she looked at what might as well have been a mountain of fries. While she was upset that Butler ruined his by putting a bunch of seasonings on there, Parker wasn’t much of a fan of fries in the first place unless they came in a little red carton since those were hot and salty and she could stick them in her gums and have french fry walrus teeth. "CAN YOU EAT THEM? I JUST WANT ICE CREAM! I WAS GOOD, YOU SAID IF I WAS GOOD I CAN HAVE IT!”
Parker really wanted that ice cream. And this ice cream came with a brownie attached which only made it better. The cold of the ice cream and the warmth of the brownie was like the best thing ever! Begrudgingly, Parker scooped some fries in her hand, squeezing a little too hard thus making bits of potato stick to her palm, and she chomped away, barely chewing the fried side before going for another hand and mouthful. "CAN I HAVE SOME NOW? PLEASE? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE?”
There were still fries on the plate, but fewer now. Parker was half tempted to just dump the fries in Jasmine’s carrier but she was almost sure that cats couldn’t eat people food. So she ate a few more, wiping the residual potato on the table mat. "I ATE MOST OF IT. ISN’T THAT GOOD ENOUGH?”
Butler shook his head. It wasn’t good enough, not really. To help her though, he leaned across the table and took a few of the remaining fries for himself, munching on them. “You ought to let this be a lesson to you: don’t order more food than you can eat.”
A few more fries in his mouth. He could relent, and he could give her the option to just eat the ice cream, but that wouldn’t prove his point. Don’t waste food.“You can have the ice cream, but you’re taking whatever’s left on the plate back and you can’t have any snacks when we get home — except for what’s in the to-go box.”
Butler said, as the waitress returned with the dessert in her hand. She put it down in front of them. “Another spoon please.”
He said, and the young woman nodded and took off again.
Butler held out the spoon, scoop side out to Parker. “Deal?”"WHEN I ORDER FOOD THEY LET ME ORDER DESSERT NO MATTER WHAT. HENRY DOESN’T CARE WHEN I ORDER STUFF!”
Parker was back to pouting as Butler essentially read Parker the riot act. It seemed like a fair compromise anyway, it wasn’t like Butler was gonna be watching her all night so she could still probably find other snacks later on. Still, the ice cream and brownie was far too alluring to let it go anywhere other than her mouth. "FINE. I’LL BE CAREFUL NOW.”
Parker snatched the offered spoon and dipped it into the ice cream.
She practically melted as the sweet treat slid down her throat. "IT’S THE BEST EVER!”
Despite the little lecture, Parker was happy as can be, and now she was digging her spoon into the brownie beneath the ice cream without a care in the world.
Butler seemed satisfied with her reaction. He was a little strict, but not too strict in his opinion. Henry seemed like he spoiled her, and Butler would have no part of that. He took a spoonful of the ice cream, and ate it himself, nodding approvingly. “It’s good.”
Parker had almost forgotten the ice cream altogether as she started favoring the brownie, taking bites of it and dipping it in the ice cream like it was chocolate sauce. The warmth of the brownie blended well with the ice cream. The burger had been good but this was on a whole other level and it was clear with how enthusiastic Parker was as she dug into the dessert. "WE SHOULD GET ANOTHER ONE!”
Parker’s suggestion came as a result of damn near half the treat being consumed at a rapid pace. Whatever misgivings she had about fries clearly didn’t apply to desserts.
Butler watched her mow down the dessert, and shook his head. This was an odd child, an incredibly odd child. He was almost one hundred and twenty six point eight nine five percent certain that the matrons of the Green family were not going to be happy that Parker was moving in full time. But, that wasn’t his place to step in and say something.
After a few more moments there, they finally made their return to the Stentorian Estate, where Parker now lived. A few hours after that, and Butler had set up her room, complete with a mounted TV close to the top bunk bed
, where Parker would be sleeping. Butler had moved all of the old furniture out, and once Min-seo returned from her date, she likely wouldn’t even recognize the place. Butler, however, was satisfied.
He turned now, to look at Parker, who had been playing with Jasmine while he was putting everything together. He checked his watch, and seeing late it was, he cleared his throat. “Come on, Parker. It’s time for bed.”
Jasmine was out of her carrier as soon as they were in the house, with Parker damn near running a circle around the cat as it got acclimated to its new environment. It became quite clear that Parker had little to no intention of actually helping with the move-in process; and why would she when there was a perfectly good cat to attend to instead? When she tired herself out from running, she dropped down to pet Jasmine and to play with one of the cat toys the pet shop tossed into the mix.
It seemed like no time had passed at all when Butler called her from her cat shenanigans. The pout returned, obscured as it was behind a tuft of Jasmine’s fur from Parker’s position of laying next to the cat. "BUT IT’S EARLY! AND JASMINE ISN’T TIRED! PLUS MINCY ISN’T BACK YET! I DON’T WANT MINCY TO STEP ON JASMINE’S TAIL WHEN SHE GETS BACK!”
Parker likely could come up with other excuses but she felt her point was made. A cat made for the best excuse.
Butler shook his head. He didn’t have time to argue anymore, and instead he bent down and lifted Parker up onto his shoulders and carried her over to the bed. He stood in front of it and reached out, pulling back to the bedspread, before he threw Parker onto the bed and tucked her in snugly, fixing the blankets so they were underneath her. “Here.”
In one hand, he picked Jasmine up, and lifted her up to the bed, sitting her beside Parker. “There, she’ll sleep with you, and there won’t be any chance of Min-seo stepping on her tail. The remote is beside you. Sleep well, Parker. Do you want the lights on or off?”
While Parker could complain, she didn’t. This was technically still a school night whatever that meant. Back in the tent, Parker knew it was time to sleep when the battery on her gaming device ran out but she didn’t have that luxury here. It was a fair compromise, anyway, with Jasmine curling up into a ball on Parker’s chest. If she was being made to sleep now, at least she’d get to sleep with her newest and bestest friend. That made all the difference. "YOU CAN TURN…”
She remembered Jasmine and seeing the cat stir at the volume made Parker pause. "Lights off. I’ll be okay!”
The night was way less scary when there was a furry, cuddly guardian there to watch her back. "G’NIGHT.”
Her whisper still on the louder side of things, though Jasmine didn’t stir. "I HAD A LOT OF FUN TODAY.”
Parker was out damn near the second the lights were.