“Can I come along?”

When he heard the request, Joey could not resist asking her why. He planned an intimate moment with Leyla out of the suburbs, she, promising to bring food for a small picnic in a park, then a short drive around before going home.

“Maybe some other time, sis!” he turned her down as politely as he could.

Erika complained which he deflected. Their conversation was interrupted by their father who rushed out in a hurry.

“Be back by six, Joey. Remember, I have to fetch your mother from the airport.”

“Pa, I asked him if I could come along.” Erika would not take a no.

“That’s a good idea,” he replied. “That will make sure your brother does not forget.”

“You’ll spoil my date,” he hissed after their father went back inside the house.

“I will be good. I promise.” She went straight at the backseat and waited.

Joey tried to think of a way to dispatch Erika somewhere. He even thought of bribing her with shopping money and letting her wait in a mall

When they reached Leyla’s place, another stumbling block appeared. Her brother was on the front lawn, watering the plants. Eric looked excited to see his future brother-in-law visiting again.

“Where are you going with my sister?” he asked, direct to the point.

“I already asked permission from your parents,” Joey claimed.

“She still needs a chaperone. I am coming.” It sounded non-negotiable.

“No, you’re not,” Leyla interrupted, coming out from the house with a basket.

Eric took the basket from her and deposited it at the back of the van.

“Let’s pass by Liza’s house,” suggested Erika, showing her face that surprised Leyla.

Joey shrugged as Leyla gave her the look as if saying, “Why bring her along?”

Eric saw the opening and pounced on it. “That’s the best I idea I heard today.”

“We might as well bring my parents along,” Leyla quipped, sitting dejected beside Joey.

While they stayed silent during the short drive, their brother and sister were talking animatedly at the backseat, planning what they would do upon reaching their destination.

In front of Liza’s house, Joey braked to a halt. He glanced at Leyla who shared his puzzled look: Liza and her brother waited by the road with Tommy holding a big basket, most certainly with food inside.

“Where are you going?” Joey inquired, hoping the two waited for someone else.

“With you,” she replied curtly.

Eric got out and ushered Liza to a seat beside him. Tommy followed, siting next to Erika who was inconspicuously quite.

“How? Joey looked behind and saw his sister examining her nails.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Leyla said, hopeless for Joey’s original plan from happening. “Cheer up! As they say, the more the merrier.”

“They know something we do not know,” Joey concluded, restarting the mini van. “I think I know who thought of this.”

Erika pretended not to hear her brother’s allegation. Instead, she offered him a CD to play.

“Here’s something to entertain us on the way.”

“Since I am driving,” Joey said, “I decide. Okay?”

“Your music will make us sleep,” Erika countered, waiting for the others to agree with her. “Help me here.”

“Not true! Listen to this!”

“Not bad,” Tommy shared Joey’s enthusiasm, tapping his hands on his thighs.

(to be continued)



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