A Taste of the Good Life

Main Course is a successful chef and restaurant owner. Or he was, anyway, until a fire tore up his life's work and left him adrift. When he visits his sister in the rural backwater town of Ponyville, he discovers an abandoned building that's perfect for a quick fix-up so he can flip it for a profit. But the building comes with an unforeseen tenant, and when he lets her stick around he discovers that maybe, just maybe, there's something out there more important than wealth and fame.

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14. Late

LATE

"Where is she?" asked Main Course for what felt like the fiftieth time as he looked out the second-story window into the darkness of the night.

Ebby looked up at him over her book from the couch, letting her reading glasses slide down to the tip of her muzzle. "Stop pacing, dear. You're driving me to distraction." She shifted to move some of her weight off the burned patch of her coat. It still felt odd to see her out of a dress, at least outside of their bedroom, but Ebby had refused to purchase a wardrobe of maternity clothing and none of her old clothes fit her right anymore. Although her scars had drawn a few stares in the street for the first few weeks, she now wore them with pride.

"Scootaloo should have been home by now, though. I told her to be back by ten, and it's half past," said Main as he scanned the road in front of the Knoll for some sign of her.

"Ponyville is a safe place, and Scootaloo is a good girl. Trust her," said Ebby. When he didn't reply, she sighed and patted a spot next to her. Main Course grudgingly pulled himself away from the window and sat on the floor next to her. "You worry too much. She's growing up, and that's a good thing."

Main Course closed his eyes and rested his chin on the bulge in her abdomen. She stroked his mane as his concerns slowly faded into the background. "I'll feel better when I know she's home." He chuckled. "Just think, in a decade or so we're going to be sitting right here wondering exactly the same thing about our son." He rubbed his nose against Ebby's belly, prompting a little giggle. "Hear that, little guy? No making Daddy and Mommy sit up late worrying about you."

Ebby yelped. "He kicked! I don't think he likes being told what to do."

"Not even born yet and he's already rebelling, huh? Heaven help us." Main Course grinned as he wrapped his forelegs around his wife. "Thanks, I do feel better. What do I owe you for putting up with me?"

Her face became mock-serious. "I'm afraid I only accept payment in kisses, and your latest invoice is past due."

"Uh oh. Better give you two to cover the late charges."

"Make it three, just to be safe."

"You are an excellent negotiator," he said before he pressed his lips against hers for a long, deep one.

"Mmm, I learned from the best," she replied when they broke apart again.

He kissed her cheek. "Should have specified where, though," he said as he moved his face up towards her forehead.

Ebby's eyes went wide. "Main Course, don't you dare. Don't you—" her protest was cut off by the little squeak that escaped her mouth when he kissed the very tip of her horn. "You're going to pay for that."

"Totally worth it," he said with a grin. He squeezed his eyes shut and groaned as the stress headache he'd been battling all evening sent a dull throb through the back of his head.

His pain didn't escape Ebby's notice. "We should take some time off, go somewhere to give you a chance to relax. You work too hard."

"I take a day off every week," protested Main, bracing himself for the familiar, if gentle, argument.

"No, you close the Knoll one day a week. Your last 'day off' you were up at dawn and spent the whole day fixing the oven. You haven't taken a proper break since our honeymoon, and that was months ago. I'd like to visit Manehattan for a couple of days before we have a newborn to worry about. When Scootaloo was born I was stuck at home for the first two years."

"That's what you get for going and getting pregnant again, I guess," said Main Course.

Ebby gave him a mischievous grin. "I seem to recall you being somewhat involved in the process. You're not the one swollen up to the size of a blimp. You owe me."

"In my defense, you're a very pretty blimp." He braced himself a moment before she whacked him over the head with a throw pillow. "I guess it wouldn't kill me to take at least a long weekend."

Whatever Ebby was about to say in response was interrupted by a sound from behind the door to Scootaloo's room, and they both turned their heads towards it. Main Course stood up and helped Ebby slowly rise to her hooves. "Alright, we'd better talk to her. Be nice."

They opened the door and found Scootaloo half in and half out of her propped open window. Her pendant dangled over the windowsill as she looked up at them and winced. "Uh, hi Mom. Hi Dad."

"Scootaloo, you were supposed to be home almost an hour ago," said Main Course. "Where have you been?"

"Sweetie Belle's concert ran a little long, and then we went back to Rumble's house afterwards," she replied.

"And what were you doing there?"

She landed on the floor inside and shrugged. "I dunno. Stuff. Just hanging out."

"Stuff?" repeated Main Course.

"Yeah. Stuff. His parents were there. We didn't do anything bad or anything." Her tone became somewhat exasperated.

"We were just worried about you," interjected Ebby. "I'm not crazy about you trying to sneak in through the window, either. I don't ever want you to feel like you need to hide anything from us, okay?"

"I hoped you wouldn't notice. I knew I was late, and I didn't want you to ground me. I wanna go flying with Rainbow Dash this weekend before she goes back to the Wonderbolt Academy," she said. "Please can I still go?"

Main Course frowned. "You aren't grounded, at least not this time. But what made you think we wouldn't notice?"

"With the Knoll and the new foal on the way you guys have both been really busy lately. I just..." she looked away as she trailed off.

"Scootaloo? Sweetheart, what's wrong?" asked Ebby.

"Are you guys still gonna have time for me after he’s born?”

Main Course stared down at her in surprise. “Scootaloo, of course we will. We’ll make time.”

“But are you going to love him more than me because he’s your real foal and I’m just adopted?” she asked.

“There’s no ‘just’ about it, Scootaloo. You are our real daughter,” said Ebby, “and that goes for both of us.”

Main Course lifted Scootaloo up off the ground and into her bed, holding her close. “Were you really worried about that? We love you, so much. In fact that’s part of the reason we even decided to have another foal. We know you’re going to do such a wonderful job being a big sister to him.”

Scootaloo fidgeted her hooves and looked down at them. “But I don’t know how to be a good big sister. What if I mess up, or we fight?”

“Maybe you will, sometimes,” said Ebby taking her place on Scootaloo’s other side. “I didn’t know how to be a mom when I had you, but I learned. Just think about how you feel about Rainbow Dash. Wouldn’t it be neat to have somepony feel that way about you?”

Scootaloo’s jaw dropped open as the extent of the responsibility she was going to have seemed to finally dawn on her. “That’s a lot of pressure. I guess I can try, though.” She looked down at her mother’s belly and gently pressed a hoof against it. “I promise,” she said as she stared at it. “I promise I’m going to be the best big sister for you I can.”

Main Course hugged her, then covered his mouth with a foreleg to suppress a yawn. “Well, it’s late and I think it’s bedtime for all of us. Scootaloo, go get ready for bed and I’ll tuck you in.”

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “Daddy, I’m a big filly. I’m getting too old for you to tuck me in every night.”

“You’re never too old for that,” said Main Course with a smile.

Ten minutes later, snuggled between the two parents who loved her and the little brother she’d soon meet for the very first time, Scootaloo drifted off to sleep as Main Course and Ebby sang her a gentle lullaby.

 

 

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