Though my bed was as warm and enticing to my desire for more sleep as ever, my dreams had been a mix of images from the previous night which left me still thinking even after waking of the events of the night. When I stated that I needed cake, confusion was dominant among my friends which quickly turned to humor. Regina had offered to see if the cook, Miss Bakker, would be up for baking one if I was that desperate. I had explained the reason for my strange reply after she offered, which led to a discussion of pastries among us. Ai and Mai knew about countless cakes of which I had never before heard, but not even Emma had a clue what Aaliyah’s favorite was. She did suggest, however, that the cake might be a lie. Aaliyah loved video games, and Emma was certain she had played portal. With the cake being a lie, perhaps Aaliyah was actually just messing with me. Mai then brought up how much cake Aaliyah had eaten at Jarod’s party, so maybe the girl just wanted me to keep bringing her cake. That did seem quite plausible to me. I could easily imagine Aaliyah devouring countless cakes without ever admitting that one was the right one. Yet at the same time, I couldn’t help feeling that Aaliyah probably knew something. The girl seemed to know countless things about every topic, and Chad had mentioned what an excellent cook Aaliyah is. Perhaps she loves baking as well and has a certain cake recipe that she adores.
Other than the frustrating amount of cake that I never managed to taste in my dreams, there were countless scenarios of me dating someone. I remembered dating Mai and making an enemy of Ai. Then I was dating Emma and Regina at the same time. At some point, I was dating Ai and accidentally betrayed her when Mai somehow fooled me into thinking she was Ai. Luckily, much of that led to safer things like fighting one another with crazy magic the likes of which I didn’t believe was possible. Emma toppled buildings by growing a tree that stretched to the clouds. Ai flooded the entire city in over one hundred feet of water, and Mai created a treacherous maze of ice over the water with jagged, sharp icicles pointing everywhere. Regina always happened to be one step out of danger while everyone else experienced everything that could go wrong going wrong. In addition, she was creating enormous blasts of blinding light that seared anyone near it. Smoke and flames rose from a distant part of the city, but I had no time to investigate. I spent half the time just trying to survive as they each in turn stole me from the others and tried whisking me away. The worst part for me was that I had no magic. No amount of effort allowed me to even see residual energy. As I lay in bed, I made a dozen lights of different colors dance around over my head, just to reassure myself I could.
I spent enough time practicing magic and worrying over what to do about eventually attempting a romantic relationship that my parents were nearly done eating by the time I was dressed and in the kitchen. I was lucky that Aaliyah had texted me to remind me I’d need a change of clothes if I was to make my job in time after practice at Regina’s, otherwise I would have been later still. Mother had cooked enough for me to eat as well, so I was shoveling down food when Regina arrived. We hopped in Mila and took off as soon as I finished, even though mother obviously would have talked with Regina longer if she could. After I started driving, Regina told me, “Emma said that Aaliyah is coming to practice today, so I thought you’d want to get started with offerings of cake and asked for one to be made.” Regina was part angel. She never ceased trying to help me, even when I was being less than worthy of her kindness. “Thank you. I didn’t having a chance to ask mother to bake anything with how late I got home. What type is it?” Regina shrugged and told me “I asked Miss Bakker to make her favorite kind. It’s called something like ‘speck kook’, but it’s a type of spice cake.” I liked spice cake. Jarod and Laura were standing around talking in the hall when we arrived at school, and they seemed to be happy. Today was going to be wonderful after all, though I still worried about those two.
To help pay Regina back for looking out for me, not just to skip class as Jarod had claimed, I got permission to miss class and help set up the gym for a fundraiser the school was hosting to help the orchestra afford a trip to Washington D.C. over the summer. They would perform at a banquet and see the sites over the course of a week, which would seem fun if I wasn’t wondering how many scary creatures and people lived there. Politicians were scary enough without the supernatural entities. Knowing about the supernatural things in this world and not warning anyone was becoming yet another problem for me. Too often I was wondering if someone would walk across the street and never return. I had to keep reminding myself that such disappearances weren’t so frequent that I’d blink and have a friend missing. On the bright side, Regina was completely surprised that I volunteered to help, save that I felt guilty for not having volunteered more often. I was actually a bit disappointed when we were finished, not that I had to go back to class, but because I had enjoyed spending time doing something normal with Regina. I also got to see several of the orchestra members thanking her for the help. Seeing that there actually were people that appreciated the things Regina did was nice. I still felt that too many people didn’t appreciate her enough.
Jarod was horrified that he couldn’t join us when he found out he was going to miss eating some fancy cake, but he had promised to spend time with Laura today. Regina and I were the first to arrive at her home, so we waited on the steps and talked for a little while. Remembering my dream, I quickly let go of her hand when Emma’s pink bug pulled up, standing to wave as an excuse. Aaliyah was the first one out of the car, and I frowned, realizing Emma had let her sit in the passenger seat without a car seat. Emma surely knew better after babysitting her numerous times. Aaliyah’s mouth hung open as she stared up at the mansion. I felt myself smiling as I thought about how innocent Aaliyah was despite her vast amount of knowledge. There were times, such as when she was speaking over my head, I forgot that she was still just a kid. Regina stood and asked her “Like the house? There’s cake inside for you.” Aaliyah’s eyes lit up in excitement, and she ran for the door. After pushing one of the heavy doors open with her shoulder, she found Andrew waiting there and ran behind me to hide. “So dramatic,” said Ai as she walked past me with a bundle in her arms. “Excessively so.” commented Mai a moment after, following her sister into the house. “Want a lift?” asked Emma, kneeling beside the tiny girl. Aaliyah nodded, wrapped her arms around Emma’s neck, and smiled as she was lifted into the air on Emma’s back.
After following everyone else into the house, Regina asked Emma to stop, so she could introduce Andrew to Aaliyah, but Aaliyah remained bashful, hiding her face against Emma’s shoulder until Andrew offered her a sucker. Then she smiled and thanked him in a heartbeat, handing me the wrapper before saying, “Please excuse us, Andrew. We must catch the evil twins before they eat all the cake! Onward Emma, my trusty steed!!!” Even carrying Aaliyah, Emma seemed amazingly graceful as she hurried after the twins. Andrew had a few questions for Regina, and then her and I met the twins in the gym. The bundle Ai had carried unrolled to reveal a large number of wooden weapons that were held to the cloth by numerous loops. The twins let us each pick a weapon that we wished to learn first, and then spent time demonstrating and correcting our form. When neither Ai nor Mai was instructing me, Aaliyah was telling me about her day and and explaining the effort it took to rearrange my schedule, so I would be able to arrive on time for my numerous jobs despite how far away Regina lived. From what she was saying, I gathered that I was in for a number of late nights. When at last the time came for cake, I was eager to see if the “speck kook” was the right one. “Spekkoek,” exclaimed Aaliyah, “I love this layered goodness!” I asked if she would tell me as she promised only to have her say, “First off, wrong cake. Plus this cake is from Regina, not you.” Things were never that easy.