Rowan was led in through a separate back door, which led directly into the kitchen. It was a large kitchen, with long stretches of counter space wrapping around a central island, a gigantic fridge, and numerous appliances.
Rowan, still struggling to get his bearings, asked Leo, “Can you give me a tour of the house, so I’ll know my way around?”
“Ms. Daley gets the privilege of doing that,” Leo said. “Whenever she gets back, I’m sure she’ll show you around first thing.”
“You said she’ll be back tonight?” Rowan asked.
Sohpie was the one to respond to this question, “Probably,” she said. “She’s busy, and she might be a little late, but I’m sure you’ll get a chance to meet her tonight. Lucky you.”
Rowan wasn’t sure whether she was being sarcastic when she said those last words, but he guessed, based about what he’d heard about her, it was sarcasm.
When they entered the kitchen, Everyone sat down at a long dinner table except for Robert and Tanya, who both grabbed aprons and put their hair into ponytails. They then proceeded to pull out pans and foods from the fridge and fired up burners on the stove. No one else was making a move to help them, so Rowan stood up and made the magnanimous offer, “Do you want me to help?”
“No,” Robert said in an ungrateful tone.
“They’re the cooks,” Leo explained. “We all have our tasks. I do the downstairs cleaning. Sophie’s Ms. Daley’s personal assistant and driver. You’ll take over my gardening duties from last year. In a few years, if you’re a good worker, you may graduate to cook. Robert’s just starting this year as assistant cook” – and leaning into Rowan’s ear and saying in a whisper – “and he’s a bit too proud of that I must say.”
Robert had apparently overheard Leo, and he glared in his direction for a moment before returning to his work.
“Tanya’s a fine cook,” Leo continued. “After working here she could probably graduate to chef at some fine restaurant I imagine – If she wasn’t instead interested in working in education.”
“Educational administration,” Tanya corrected him while she handled a large frying pan filled with vegetables. “No sense in a Daley Scholar aiming low.”
The dinner was prepared and served to the group, who all sat down and dug into the food, still calmly chattering between bites. As the dinner neared an end, Sophie’s phone vibrated in her pocket. She pulled it out and looked at it. She typed in a quick reply and then stood from the table.
“Your wish has been granted,” she said to Rowan with a devilish smile and a wink. Then she announced to the whole table, “I should be back in under two hours. Make sure Rowan’s ready. I’m sure Ms. Daley will want to meet him.”
Sophie then turned around and left the room.
A look passed between Leo and Robert, and Robert gave a light nod of ascent. Then Leo arose and said, “This calls for a celebration.”
He walked over to a wine fridge and pulled out two bottles of wine, then grabbed seven glasses for the table and began to pour for everyone.
Rowan looked at the wine and said, “Leo, half of us are underage, including you. You can’t be serving us.”
“What? Don’t tell me me no fermented liquid has ever touched your lips. If it’s your first time, then that’s even more reason to celebrate – to celebrate being the ones to get you drunk for the first time.”
“I can’t say I’ve never drank before, but –”
“Ha, don’t lie,” Leo cut him off. Then turning to Kaitlin he said, “I trust you’re not new to sharp sting of alcohol, Kaitlin.”
“I’m not, but go easy on my glass. I’m a bit of a lightweight,” she confessed.
Leo then led a toast of “to Rowan,” with everyone clinking glasses in the center. Leo encouraged Rowan to drink as much as possible, instantly filling his glass anytime it came close to being empty and even titling Rowan’s glass upward while he held it in his mouth to push the liquid down more quickly.
Rowan realized that Leo was deliberately trying to get him drunk, but he didn’t immediately realize that Leo was doing this for more than just the sake of the festivities.