Barechested, Xander bounces from heel to toe as he scrubs and stacks one dish after another. Drops of water catch the light before splashing over his head, arms, the sink. His bare arms move rapidly, yellow hair swinging as he banters with Ben and Hans sitting across the counter. They keep up a similar rhythm dipping their spoons into deep bowls of ice cream with homemade fudge sauce*, taunting Xander with dripping spoonfuls and cheerful wisecracks.
On the other end of the counter, Erik rolls wheat dough into flat long ovals, sprinkles sharp cheddar down the center and twists it into loaves. His shoulders raise and flex with practiced motion. Spinning the red desk chair, Stefan cues this song, throws back his head and begins to sing out loud. Mary and Gabe are just steps away clasping hands, dipping and giggling as they waltz down the blue rug.
I lean back and tip my head against the wall, as my aching heart soaks up the happiness in front of me.
*AMAZING FUDGE SAUCE
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips (or even better– chopped Belgian bittersweet)
Boil the cream, add brown sugar. Whisk until brown sugar dissolves (you can stop here and have caramel sauce). Add chocolate. Sigh with satisfaction.