The Scorpio family - Robin, Anna and Robert - sat down in one of the larger tables for breakfast. Ruby floated over coffee carafe in hand.
"Morning! Spring is in the air at last!" said Ruby.
"Finally. I've had it with snow and cold," said Anna looking over the menu.
"I kind of like the long, cold nights," murmured Robert casting a sly glance at his wife.
"Ruby, I'd like the pancakes, please," said Robin. "I have a lot of plans for spring break."
"You got it, sweetheart," said Ruby.
One of the part-time servers put a plate of toast with butter and jam on the table.
"What plans?" asked Robert. "My cholesterol special please, Rube."
"Sleepovers, dance rehearsals and maybe a tiny party," replied Robin with a hopeful look at her mother.
"No on the party," said Anna.
"Maybe next year when you're older," replied Anna. Off to the side she gave her order to Ruby.
"Oh, Mom. You want to make me miserable, lonely AND unpopular."
"Oh goodness, it's not all that dire. You'll live."
"What's wrong with a party with chaperones?" asked Robert.
"You're volunteering?" asked Anna. "We're talking at least a dozen teenage girls, Robert."
"Just my friends, Mom," said Robin.
"Loud, unbearable noise," said Anna buttering her toast.
"It's called music," said Robin.
"A big mess."
"I promise to clean EVERYTHING the next day."
"It's girls only."
Anna aimed an arched brow at her only child. "You mean Roger won't accidentally show up with his band mates?"
Robin fidgeted. "I don't know about that."
"Well, I do," said Anna. "I was young once."
"A million years ago," muttered Robin.
"What?" asked Anna.
"Fine. No party," said Robin.
Robert watched the mother daughter contest with ebbing desire to interfere. His two stubborn, opinionated females butting heads was always amusing to watch if observed from far, far away.
Robin turned her attention to another topic. "Dad?"
"Yes, sweetheart," said Robert.
"Remember your wedding rehearsal dinner? My little speech to you and Mom?"
Robert took a bite of his toast. "Sure. What about it?"
"Are you and Mom trying for a baby yet?'
Strangled noises came forth from two choking throats.
"You ARE newlyweds. It's possible, right?"
More incoherent noises were heard as delicious toast turned into cardboard.
"I'm not too old to have a sibling. But you have to have it soon before it's too embarrassing for me." Ruby placed a plate of pancakes. "Yes! My favorite chocolate chip pancakes. Thanks, Ruby."
"Saved by pancakes," said Robert taking a healthy sip of his coffee.
"The third bedroom would make a great nursery," said Robin.
"Spoke too soon," said Robert.
With a small smile on her lips, Anna watched the ping pong like conversation between her husband and daughter. It was such a normal family thing that delighted her so. It was about time that Robert got a good taste of parenthood with a teenager. Donning the Kevlar armor of teenager parenthood would be good for Robert's ego. She continued eating her delicious breakfast.
"How about Michael if it's a boy?" asked Robin. "But I'm an R and maybe a boy should be an A. Anthony? Andrew? Alexander? Aaron? Anders? Albert?"
"It's a tad early to even be … be thinking about names," said Robert. He cleared his throat. "Let's talk about … Roger and Robin … Robin and Roger."
"Good topic," said Anna.
"Wh-wh-what about Roger?" asked Robin whose interest in food had suddenly evaporated. "I told you that he asked me to the spring dance, right? And you said it was okay."
Robert nodded. "That I did but I forgot to mention one thing."
Robin's eyes widened. "What's that?"
"Just confirmed today," said Robert finishing his eggs.
"Oh, no! Who is it this time? Is Faison back? Someone else out to get you or Mom?" asked Robin with mixed annoyance and fear. "Really, Dad, I'll take all the precautions you want me to but no bodyguard or-"
"A guard is not necessary. There's no one about to mess up our lives. The Cartel and Faison are gone. Trust me on that."
"Then what is it?"
"Marcy Ryland, the head of the PTA, was at the station yesterday. A parking ticket I think. Anyway, she mentioned that the spring dance was short of adult chaperones," said Robert.
Robin's expression was comical as it morphed into horrified realization.
Robert smiled at Anna. "I volunteered our services, Mrs. Scorpio. A few hours of our time. A slightly crowded dance floor. It could be fun."
Robin sighed heavily. "I've lost my appetite."
"I love that idea," said Anna. "We should be getting more involved with the PTA."
"Yeah. What better way to guide our lovely daughter here on her journey through life?" said Robert.
"What are parents for?" said Anna watching her daughter pick at her food.
Robin finished her juice before standing up and shouldering her back pack. "I have rehearsals after school but I'll be home before five. Bye."
As the diner doors closed on their daughter, Anna and Robert each let out a laugh.
"She's got to learn to take it as well as dish it," said Robert.
"You got to her for sure," said Anna.
"I noticed you weren't chiming in there about the … the baby thing."
"Silent as a church mouse." Robert put his coffee mug down. "Is there something I ought to know?"
Anna looked around them. In a low voice she said, "I had an appointment with Dr. Collins the other day."
"She examined me and feels that maybe it's time to try again. It's still 50-50 that I'll conceive and carry to term."
Robert was silent digesting this bit of news.
"The question is do we want to?" asked Anna.
"What do you want?" asked Robert touching Anna's hand.
"I'm not sure. Yet. I know you want to."
"We just got back together. I don't want anything to happen to you. It wouldn't be an easy pregnancy, right?"
"With my age there is probably a bit of risk. I've always assumed you wanted another child? You don't?"
Robert considered his words carefully. "If we have one, it's fantastic. If not, it's fine, too. I'm happy, no ecstatic, with the family we already are."
"I feel the same but I want to try," said Anna with a bright smile.
Robert found himself returning her smile. "Then so do I. When do we start?"
Anna giggled. "Well, not right now."
"Too bad. I was … motivated," teased Robert. "What do people do nowadays to get pregnant?"
"You've forgotten, Robert?!"
"I do remember the basic mechanics," said a grinning Robert. "Sergeant Ellis was trying with his wife last year. I remember him talking about syncing up with her cycle and taking temperatures. Sounded complicated."
Anna giggled again. "Simplicity is best. I'll let you know when."
"I think Ellis mentioned changes in his diet. Boxers not briefs stuff."
"You're a boxer man already," noted Anna.
"I'll pass by the bookstore on the way home later."
"Robert, don't go overboard. Please don't."
"I want to make sure I'm doing things right."
Anna leaned in close and whispered into his ear. "My first, truest, always love, you do everything right."
Robert could feel his ear tips turning red. "Marrying you was one of my better ideas. Definitely."
Ruby sashayed to their table. "Anna, one of my customers could use your help."
"Of course, Ruby, who is it?"
"His name is Gary Rohmer. He's a foreman on the docks. Nice guy," said Ruby. "His daughter Nicole has been missing for a few days now."
"It's been over a day. Why not file a missing person's report?" asked Robert.
"There are extenuating circumstances," said Ruby. "She's an adult and there could be reasons, good or bad, for her being gone. Gary just wants to know for sure before he says anything to his wife, Nicole's mother."
"Sounds like a case up your alley, luv," said Robert.
"What time is he coming by? After work?" asked Anna.
Ruby nodded. "He comes in for lunch. I told him I'd sound you out first. Shall I tell him to come to your office after his shift?"
"Absolutely. I'll tell Felicia to expect him and I won't leave the office until I've met with him," said Anna.
Robert put some bills on the table. "I have to go. Thanks for breakfast, Rube."
"Anytime," said Ruby as she left them to tend to another customer.
Robert winked at Anna. "Let me know about when and where, Devane."
"Just be ready, Scorpio," said Anna playfully.
Robert gave Anna a quick kiss. "Ready Robert that's me."