My sister had a gift for throwing parties. She would find any and all reason to have a party or to celebrate any day of the year. Pinterest was her best friend. My sister is that mom that makes all other parents feel like complete shit about themselves because she doesn't only appear to have it all together, she really does have it_all_together.
I pulled into the driveway and was greeted by Ben who was watering flowers.
"Leland! Good to see you, brother!" He shook my hand.
"Likewise, Benny! How's it going?"
"Same old, same old. You better hurry inside, Julie is growing anxious." He warned.
I opened up the large oak door at the main entrance to their two story brick home. The home was built in 2008 by the local amish. It sat as one of three houses in a newly constructed subdivision just outside of the small college down of Ashfield. Ben cared for the lawn like it were as precious as Gia, and sometimes I swear, Julie was pulled from the same rib as Martha Stewart. Her house was always immaculate.
As I walked in, coming down the wooden staircase was little princess Gia.
"Uncy Lee!!!! Did you bring my kitty?" she asked.
I whisked her up off the third step and gave her a huge hug.
"Oh my Gia Bia, I've missed you!" I gleamed. "Take me to your momma."
Dinner was amazing as always. Julie made grilled chicken with asparagus, spinach salad, and homemade hummus made from beans and spices fresh from her garden. The half birthday cake was literally half a cake with 3 layers. Pink frosting and brown polka dots with a half bow on top. The party had about 25 guests not including the 14 children. I sat by the koi pond, watching the large koi swim around, listening to the guests talk in the background.
"They are peaceful, aren't they?" Julie asked as she sat next to me with a cup of coffee in hand. "Here, this is for you."
Julie handed me the cup and grinned.
"Thanks, Jules." I said. "Do you think Gigi liked her Hello Kitty?"
"Are you kidding?" she laughed. "I think she loves it more than me!"
"Impossible. You are the best mother alive."
"Yes, yes I am!" she joked. "but enough about me, there is someone I want you to meet."
Julie had this hobby. She was the master of playing match maker. She was convinced that she was going to be the one sole responsible for finding my soul mate.
"Jules, I really don't have time for.."
"Oh stop it!" she interrupted. She stood up and reached for my hand. "Come with me!"
"What? Now? Jules, I am waiting for a phone call.."
"Leland Matthew Banes, enough nonsense." She pulled me down the cobblestone path toward the group of people sitting under the rented tent. Sitting at a table with my parents was this beautiful woman. She was wearing a running jacket with a puffy ski vest, and jeans with under armor shoes. Her long blonde hair was pulled back away from her face and her marble like blue eyes pearced my eyes.
"Leland, meet Callie. Callie, this is my brother Leland."
"Leland!" She exclaimed. "I've heard so much about you, all good of course."
"Well, I wish I could say I've heard about you, but up until 5 minutes ago, I didn't know you existed."
I always had a way with words. Which probably explains a lot of the reason as to why i'm still a virgin.
Over the course of the next hour, Callie and I sat and talked with my parents. Mostly about the pizza shop and Callie's internship at a local vet's office. Although Callie was beautiful, intelligent, stylish and had a talent for bullshitting her way through a conversation with my parents, I couldn't get my mind off of Harlo. Why hadn't she called back yet? Would she call?