TG Universes & Series:
On The Edge
by Maddy Bell
Copyright© 2021 Madeline Bell
Well you know how these things go, once the guests have been fed and entertained things tend to get a bit, well bitty. Today was to be no different, a contingent of mostly teenage women had the dance floor, the music from the PA a most definate family pop mix. The adults, I know, define adult, okay the older guests, were doing the social schmoozing bit armed with alcohol and occasionally plates of food.
"There you are,” Gran observed.
"Here we are,” Jules agreed.
"Care to keep an old woman who doesn't speak German company for a bit?”
"Hmm dunno,” I started.
"She means yes Gran,” Jules interrupted.
"I was gonna say that,” I whined.
"Sorry Gran,” I offerred, "Walking or sitting?”
"I could murder a cup of tea, not had one since I left home this morning.”
"Not even on the plane?” Jules queried as we navigated past cheerleaders, toddlers and a Duke cutting a rug.
"Don't get me started Juliette.”
"Wait here, I'll be right back,” I told them.
"Tea? Sure Gaby,” Helmut told me, "You know where everything is?”
"I should do by now,” I agreed. Yup, much like the Thesing's Backhaus, the Sebenschuh's Stube and associated weinhaus has been a regular haunt of me and my friends since, well, since the family moved to Germany.
I returned to where Gran and Jules were waiting.
"Lets get that tea,” I suggested leading the way to the tent's exit.
"Where are we going?”Gran asked.
"To the Stube.”
"Is that allowed?”
"Gran,” Jules sighed, "Birthday girl works here and one of her friends lives here, she's a shoe in for access all areas.”
"And I checked with Helmut,” I mentioned as we headed across the car park to the restaurant cum house.
"So how are my favourite grand daughters?”
"Your only grand daughters,” we both chorused.
"Have to keep you on your toes,” Gran grinned.
"Gra-an!” I moaned.
"Well you never know, I might have some sugar daddy back in Cheshire.”
"TMI Gran,” Jules stated.
"So, Jules, how are you and the twins getting along?”
"There you are,” Manda sighed, "No one knew where you'd gone.”
"Just getting some tea with Gran,” I told her, "Want a cup?”
"Er, sounds a good idea, hang on no, its like four o'clock, people are ready to leave.”
"Before the orgy?” I suggested with a smirk.
"Ha ha Bond,” she replied, "Come on, hands to shake and all that.”
"We'll just finish the tea,” Jules opined.
"Thanks for coming all this way your Grace.”
"Our pleasure Gaby, its been nice to get out of dreary Stuttgart for a couple of days.”
"Besides which,” Marianne, the Duchess advised, "Sophia was insistent on coming.”
"Well I was hardly going to miss my best friends birthday party eh?”
When did I make the leap to best friend?
"Are you going all the way back today?”
The Duke of Thun und Taxis shrugged, "Its only about four hours, we'll be home for supper.”
"Well have a safe journey and thanks again for coming.”
There was an exchange of handshakes and hugs and the elder Taxis moved on to complete their farewells.
"Daddy was very impressed when I told him about you cooking last night,” Sophia bubbled.
"It was pretty simple,” I demurred, "It was good to see you Soph, not sure when we're down your way again.”
"My birthday silly, May the fourth.”
"Have to go, the olds are looking for me, tschussie!”
"Er tschussie,” I replied as she crushed me in another hug.
"Soph was getting a bit intense,” Max opined joining me as I waved his relatives off.
"I seem to have been adopted.”
"Into the Sophia Taxis inner circle,” I enlarged.
"Apparently I'm to attend her birthday celebration in May.”
"Sounds like fun.”
"Well you'll find out first hand, you're my plus one,” I told him.
"I've been yours several times now, time for payback.”
"Did I say no?”
"No, and you'd better not or I'll tell your Gran.”
"Girls can be so mean.”
"But you still love us.”
"Talking of which, there's that storeroom in the Kellerie?”
"Gaby,” Mum's voice called out, "Have you seen your Gran?”
I turned to Max, "Hold that thought loverboy.”
Of course, all good things must come to an end, the party wound itself up, more people departed and I never did get the snog with Max. On the other hand, when we departed it was with a new stack of birthday cards and a box of gifts, mwahaha, not that I'm mercenary of course. I did of course spend some time with the rest of The Angels which was cool, particularly Bridg and Steff, we really don't get to see each other much due to college, commuting and, well other stuff that gets in the way.
Like the Taxis, Boris and my sister were driving back straight from the party, in theory its about two and a half hours but in Boris' elderly car and required expectant mum stops, well three would be closer to the mark. I think Mum was a bit disapointed as they had spent Saturday with the other prospective grand parents, but I guess Jules is still doing the rebel daughter bit. Mum herself has to fly back out to Lisbon tomorrow evening, the Portugese race starts on Tuesday, but Gran is staying with us in Dernau for a couple of days which is pretty cool.
"That was pretty mean,” I suggested, kicking my stilts off before collapsing onto the sofa, "I really thought everyone had forgotten or something.”
"How could anyone forget,” Mand scoffed, "You've been dropping enough hints.”
"I still can't believe everyone kept it a secret.”
"Me either,” Dad stated, "And move those shoes before someone trips on them.”
"Yes Daddy,” I smarmed even as I recovered my heels.
"Well I'm gonna get changed,” Mand proposed.
"You not coming to the restaurant then?” Mum enquired arriving with Gran and a tray of coffee stuff.
"Restaurant?” Mand and I repeated.
"Well you do want to eat this evening, not a problem if you don't want to,” Mum concluded.
"Me, me, me!”
"I'd still like to change,” Mand told us, "Drea was using me as a towel, I think she was rubbing custard well in.”
"You've got time,” Dad allowed, "Table's booked for seven.”
In the end Mum and Gran changed too, but whilst this frock is quite fitted, it is pretty comfortable. On the other hand the shoes had to go, a pair of lower heeled strappy sandals were maybe not the ideal replacement but they did sort of go with the rest whilst giving my tootsies a bit of relief. At half six, with me squidged in the middle and Dad at the wheel, the Saab departed Bond Manor for the short drive to the Bunte Kuh just outside Walporzheim, all of about two kilometres away.
I think we may have eaten at the Colourful Cow when we first moved here but its not one of our regular haunts. Well I guess there are quite a few to choose from in these parts and people do tend to stick to what they know so its little surprise. In February though, not so much is open, the Schloss isn't open on Sundays for example but the rather quaint Bunt Kuh is. Of course that will tend to concentrate the diners, the car park suggested it was quite busy this evening.
If the outside looks like a transplant from the Schwarzwald, inside, whilst modernised is pure gingerbread, from the wood panneled walls to the traditional pierced back chairs. Yep, if the Schloss is modern chic, the Stube is kinda modern practical, the Bunte Kuh is unadulterated kitche! Dad had booked for seven assuming Boris and Jules were coming which meant we had a big table in a corner of the bar area.
Looking down the menu, to be honest, I wasn't feeling so hungry, not because i'd stuffed myself earlier, I just wasn't feeling that hungry. I'd pretty much made my mind up to just have the Gemüsesuppe.
"What you having kiddo?” Dad asked.
"I'm betting on the Steak,” Mand opined.
I was pretty irked by her prediction, that would've been my first choice normally.
"Well I'm not, I think I'll have the Hausgemachtes Cordon Bleu.”
"Think I'll give the veggie schnitzel a throw,” de Vreen decided.
"Thought you were over that?”
"Doesn't mean I have to eat meat does it?”
Fair call, I was going to have vegetable soup after all. Mum wanted the chicken breast, Gran and Dad both selecting 'Forest' style schnitzel – yup even mine was schnitzel underneath the fancy name – and what's wrong with that?
Drinks arrived, food was ordered and I did my best to get comfortable on the unforgiving Sweetheart chair.
"Well,” Dad started, "I think a toast is in order.”
We all lifted our assorted beverages.
"To Gabrielle, may your eighteenth year be as good to you as the last, happy birthday kiddo!”
I raised my own glass to meet the others, "Thanks, maybe a bit less drama this year would be nice.”
Yep definitely that, a bit less falling off of bikes, no rushing to the doctor, no bungled drug testing. Other than that, I'm up for a repeat.
"You know this Mount Teide thing, whats the big deal?”
"The big deal young lady is its over two thousand metres of climbing.”
Mand nearly choked on her apple juice.
"Two thousand metres,” Mum confirmed.
"Thats higher than we went in Switzerland eh Dad?”
"Not by much,” he confirmed, the difference is that you start at sea level, you might already be at five hundred when you start the Alpine stuff.”
"So how steep is it then?” Mand asked before I could.
"Not that bad, five, six percent, there might be a bit of ten I think but you are climbing for about forty K and thats the short route,” Mum advised.
"Have you ridden it?”
"A few years ago, a few of us did a 'training camp', as much about the apres ride as the cycling to be honest, all I remember is that it was hot with a capital H, thirty degrees in Tenerife, snow on the ground when we got back to Manchester, ended up with a week off work with the flu which didn't go down particularly well.”
"I remember that Jen,” Gran confirmed.
"Some of the guys go every year, same thing, when I started teaching I couldn't take the chance so i've not been since,” Mum concluded.
"So isn't it a bit risky for us to go now?” Manda challenged.
"Its obviously a concern,” Dad took up the reins, "But we're late in the flu season and a properly structured training camp will have benefits far beyond the next few weeks, look at the form you guys had after Italy and Switzerland and last year, the race in Spain filled the same criteria, Don't worry Manda, we've got some hot lemon indoors.”
Reassuring – not!
"I still don't get why George wants me on the team for this challenge thing.”
"Kudos,” Mand suggested.
"You know like, people will go oo look, Weltmeisterin riding for Apollinaris.”
"I know what kudos is, just not sure how that fits with some monster hill climb.”
"Politics, buttering up sponsors, and bragging rights,” Mum summed it up.
Ever felt like the sacrificial lamb?
The food arrived before we could bore Gran with any more cycling talk, I, well I guess all of us, sometimes forget not everyone is 'in' to cycling like we are.
My Cordon Bleu was pretty good, the cheese oozing out of the pork schnitzel adding a bit of moisture without resorting to some sort of sauce. Not that I'm against Jäger sauce but after the hundredth time, well its nice to have a change. The 'Forest' style Dad and Gran had was similar but with those stringy mushrooms instead of the cheese – and they got Spätzle too.
"Dessert anyone?” Dad enquired.
"Maybe a pot of tea,” Gran suggested.
Yep, I don't think I could eat another Frite if you were paying me.
It was gone nine when we got back to Bond Acres, not late by any stretch but I was feeling quite tired so grabbing my box of birthday swag and cards I headed up to my eyrie. I know what I said earlier about the dress being comfortable but after ten hours I was pleased to be free, not just of the frock but the hose and BH too. Given my now almost naked state it wasn't a great leap to hit the shower which woke me up sufficiently to do the great unwrap.
I remember when I was younger, well okay, just a couple of years ago, everyone attending your party brought a gift. It wasn't always very much but it was a sort of entry token which would be reciprocated at subsequent shindigs. Get into your mid teens and the number of actual parties dropped and gift giving becomes less mandatory, well in my experience that is.
Sure, your close friends will usually gift, party or not but the wider circle might run to a card. That doesn't stop the little kid in me enjoying the whole present giving / receiving thing. I sat myself cross legged on the bed and opened the cards first, my friends of course, the girls from cheer, another co signed by Daz, Josh and Tali, Soph and a couple more with names I couldn't immediately put faces to.
I'm not sure how or who funded todays extravaganza, the Angels clearly had some input but even so I still got gifts from them all. A Tally™ voucher, a pair of 'interesting' earrings, a framed photo montage – that was from Nena, a pink Victorinox pocket knife and a silk scarf. The Preiser family, well it said Drea, added a box of home made toffee to the swag, there was more confectionary from Josh and the cheerleaders and bizarely a puncture kit from Tali.
The last two packages were bigger, which is why i'd held them back, best for last and all that, I didn't recognise the writing on either, hmm, a double mystery. The smaller one, once I managed to undo the knots, was clearly a jewellery box, which, when I prised it open contained an exquisite silver bracelet and a note which simply said 'Love Sophia' – well thats one mystery solved even if it is embarrasingly too much.
I gave the last gift a cautious shake, nope no clue there, guess I'll have to rip it open then! There was a card inside, 'hope you find this useful', no name, nothing to identify the donor. I pulled the plain sleeve off of the printed box to find a Sennheiser wireless microphone, oh my god, that is so cool but it must have cost a wodge, even I know this stuff isn't cheap. I had to get it out for a look of course, check how it felt in my hands which led to a full on mimed Bo Rap – well I thought I was miming but the 'Gaby, keep it down' from the lower levels suggested otherwise. Wow, my own microphone, guess that means I'm like a proper artiste!
Still on a bit of a buzz I collapsed back onto my pillow, boy, what a day. In a couple of hours I'll not be just seventeen anymore, I'll be seventeen and a day, the countdown to being eighteen is on. Not that I'm wishing my life away of course, but it only seems like yesterday that seventeen seemed so far away, seventeen, what will I do with you?
I cleared the bed of cards, gifts and debris then climbed under the duvet falling almost immediately into the world of slumber.
Maddy Bell © 19.02.2021
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