The day went by in a blur with numerous people at school asking about my car or saying how they’d like a ride in her, likely due, at least in part, to the other Bond fans expounding upon how Sean Connery drove one in Goldfinger. Not many people at my school had even seen an Aston Martin in person, so I imagine that also added to the excitement. With how Jarod and Aaliyah had enhanced the security and added armor plating to the car, I wasn’t the least bit concerned about Mila getting stolen or damaged by less than a tank, even with some of the school’s populace being less than reputable. If anyone had a clue how similar Mila truly was to a Bond car, the excitement would likely be increased tenfold. Part of me desperately wished I could show her off fully, but reason knew that part of Mila’s potential was her ability to surprise anyone who attempted to do me harm while inside her. The werewolves who so easily disabled the van Jarod had driven would surely have been surprised when my sleek car unleashed her weapons. Perhaps we would not have even needed the help we unexpectedly received. I truly needed to take Mila out for a country spin sometime if Aaliyah could find me a safe place to try out some of her noisier features, not that I doubted the science behind the tech in the least. I simply wanted to feel comfortable in the use of her weapons before they are needed.
Despite the days passing for me in a continued blur of school and work, Mila remained a popular topic of conversation for my classmates. The aspect of school being out within a couple weeks might well have been giving my classmates a sense of the freedom a car entailed, no longer being bound to the schedules of public transportation. Aaliyah certainly was making sure my schedule made use of the car, planning back-to-back jobs for me that could never have been met had I been restricted to my old methods of getting around. When parking became an issue, Aaliyah informed me, after clearly stating that I should make use of Mila’s manual, of a very clever bit of software which allowed Mila to drive herself to the nearest parking lot, returning at the press of a button on a corresponding app for my phone. I was a bit leery about letting my car drive herself through busy streets, but Aaliyah had proven to be very reliable thus far. When I called Mila to me, she was unblemished and reported no incidents along her path. Aaliyah even assured me that she had received some sort of permit through her school which made Mila’s driving legal, so my car wouldn’t have undue police entanglements while driving herself. I often wanted to look further into countless things the girl told me about, but I never had near enough time to attempt catching up to her knowledge of things.
Lost in the flow of things, Jarod’s birthday was upon me before I was even slightly prepared, causing me to disappoint my father when I said we would have to put off his turn at driving my car till Sunday. He wasn’t too disappointed, since we had managed to watch a Bond movie each night for the past week. Usually, Jarod and I spent his birthday at his house, staying up half the night watching movies and playing whatever video game I bought him that year. This year Chad was out of town and needed me to babysit his daughter for the weekend. She made use of the circumstances as part of an elaborate scheme she concocted with Ai, Mai, Regina, and Laura to have a surprise party for Jarod at the apartment of the twins. Luckily, they at least did inform his parents of their plot. My part was simple; I was to pick up Regina and Aaliyah early in the morning and take them to the apartment so we could decorate. Laura was keeping Jarod busy with various activities, having claimed that a girlfriend had certain rights to her boyfriend, or so Jarod informed me when he called to say we couldn’t hang out until the middle of the evening. I wondered at how things would have gone if his birthday would have landed on a weekday instead of a Saturday. I could easily imagine the twins talking Regina into arranging a “senior skip day” or similar excuse for us to miss school if it suited their purposes. They had far too much time on their hands, being out of school already.
When I suggested stopping somewhere for me to purchase a present for Jarod, Aaliyah, being the wonderful secretary whom I was babysitting, pulled an already wrapped present out of her pink backpack and held it up for me to see in the rearview mirror. Apparently, she had taken the liberty to prepare one from the both of us. “So what did we get him?” I inquired. “It’s a surprise, boss-man, sir.” stated Aaliyah, perfectly serious. “Isn’t Jarod the only one who needs to be surprised? I usually get him a video game.” I saw her looking at me with a straight face in the rearview mirror as she told me “No hints. This is a surprise.” Regina reached over and lightly placed her hand on my arm, saying, “You’re welcome to write your name on my present to Jarod. I don’t mind telling you what I bought.” Aaliyah pressed herself between us and said, “Boss-man, sir, I have no means of removing your name from the card, so you are very well stuck with this one. Jarod will love it.” After asking Aaliyah to buckle up, I asked Regina if she could think of some presents Jarod would love, since Aaliyah was apparently giving hints now. I saw the little princess cross her arms in the mirror and asked if she would give a few more hints after Regina jokingly took a couple guesses.
Though Aaliyah refused to give any big hints, we did get her to tell us “warm” or “cold” as we guessed, which continued well into decorating, partially due to her refusing to give more than those two words. The twins helped us narrow things down even further, so we had a fair idea that the present involved something electronic, probably a laptop. I wouldn’t really be surprised if Aaliyah thought a laptop was a reasonable birthday present, but I’d at least like to know how much of my money she spent. Maybe I needed to reconsider the level of access she had to my bank account, but I still wanted her to be able to carry out transactions in my name when necessary. Yet again, life wasn’t being remotely simple for me. I knew I still owed Aaliyah for the car, so perhaps this was part of paying her back. Jarod would definitely be pleased if our guess was close, but the twins were still winning for outlandish. In addition to hosting the event, they had bought Jarod a small pile of presents, explaining that they weren’t sure what to get. I felt like they bought half of a party store’s selection with the bountiful amount of streamers, noise makers, party hats, strings of lights, and other things. They apparently had only seen an American birthday party in movies, and weren’t sure which aspects were true to life. “We were planning on just hiring you to help pick stuff out, but your secretary claimed you were already booked for each date we tried.” they explained together, each saying part of the sentence while glaring at Aaliyah, who just smiled up at them.
“I can show you what my schedule was like. She truly did have me booked for most of the past week and a half.” The twins sighed and said, “No doubt. We are looking forward to you finally being out of school. You, Regina, and Emma need to spend more time training if you want to get anywhere this year.” I groaned, knowing they were right. “Where is Emma?” I inquired. The twins looked at one another and then back to me before saying, “You forgot to invite her, didn’t you.” I reached for my phone as I muttered about how I only found out about the party last night, but Aaliyah had somehow stolen my phone already. “I know you have your own phone. Why steal mine!?” I complained to her, but she stuck her finger in front of her mouth and said, “Shh! Sorry, Emma. My boss-man-babysitter is being noisy. Just hurry over. If you can’t get a present, I’ll see if boss-man will let me write your name on ours.” There was a slight pause, and then she said, “No. It’s a surprise. Why doesn’t anyone get that!?” The last part was directed at everyone present and followed by a tremendous sigh for such a tiny girl. She handed my phone up to me and stated “I can’t believe you forgot to call Emma, boss-man sir. Poor Emma.” Her enormous blue eyes glistened as if she was about to shed a tear for Emma’s sake. “My secretary usually takes care of those things now. Not sure why she’s slacking today.” Aaliyah’s mouth dropped open and stayed that way for a couple seconds in picturesque shock.
“Boss-man, sir! Why are you being mean to me!? I’m a great secretary! Your current job is babysitting me. This party is purely social, excluding that detail! You handle your social stuff. I am the responsible one who takes care of business stuff.” I gently patted her head as she hugged my leg. “I’m sorry, Aaliyah. Let’s just blame the twins. They helped plan the party.” Aaliyah grinned and exclaimed “The evil twins did it!” Ai rolled her eyes and Mai replied “Nice try, but Regina did the calling. We chose hosting.” Regina looked surprisingly out of sorts. “Well… I… honestly don’t know what happened. I thought I called everyone.” I walked over to her, lifting Aaliyah with every other step as she clung to my leg, and gave Regina a hug. “I don’t see how you could possibly forget between working on your speech for graduation, planning your graduation party, arranging the Senior end of the year party, working with the yearbook committee, preparing for trying to teach your presidential successor how to juggle ten things at once, and the other things in which you’re involved.” Instead of hugging me back like normal, Regina was busy looking through a list on her phone. Suddenly, the number of party toys made slightly more sense. Going by the names, Regina had invited all of Jarod’s close friends from school as well as some of Laura’s.
“I guess I just assumed someone else would be calling her when I made my list. I don’t know Emma all that well yet. I’ll have to apologize to her when she gets here.” explained Regina after she checked countless other lists to see if Emma’s name had been placed on the wrong one. I couldn’t blame her. I was so accustomed now to spending time with this small group, that I hadn’t even considered asking friends from school to join us. Letting the twins play host was seeming more questionable, especially as I remembered their take on alcohol. I would need to be careful what I drank, and I had no clue what to do with Aaliyah. Having her around the twins and Emma seemed natural, but having a little girl at an unsupervised high school party didn’t seem like good idea. I took a deep breath and tried not to fret too much. If things started getting out of control, I could always make my apologies and take off early. Before long the guests started arriving, including Emma who seemed as surprised as I had been by the gathering crowd. Introductions were made sporadically between old friends and new until at last Laura sent Regina the text which signaled Jarod’s imminent arrival. As he walked through the door, arms laden with a box of random junk, he was obviously completely astonished by the loud shout of “SURPRISE!” from the assembled crowd. Whatever might happen, Jarod was in for a party to be remembered.