Rob and Jakob pushed open the door in their usual chatty silence to find a truly noisy scene in their living room. Wil and her mother were trying to stop laughing, which also meant Cynthia was coughing in-between chuckles.
They both looked up and noticed the solemn men about the same time. Wil suppressed a rising giggle, her eyes still sparkling and her cheeks flushed. Cynthia finally calmed her breathing, but her happy features looked ready to burst in coughing chortles again.
Rob and Jakob looked between Wil and her mother. Their wintry seriousness melted into relaxed smiles. Happiness had not dawned in the Winters household for a long time.
“So?” Jakob asked, dropping his backpack on his chair. “What’s so funny?” He looked at them in his usual slumped stance, with raised eyebrows.
Rob clumped over to set his things down and wash his hands before coming to the couch.
“Well,” Cynthia began, as she sat up to make room for her husband to sit, “Wil was just telling me about her day.” She was good at keeping secrets, and caught Wil’s eye to be certain Wil wasn’t bothered by what she was saying.
Wil smiled gratefully at her mother. She didn’t mind them knowing, but guessed they wouldn’t be as amused as she and Cynthia had been.
“I got a secret note to solve, and we were trying all kinds of ideas to break the puzzle,” Wil said. She watched their expressions. Her mother looked at her encouragingly, her father looked mildly surprised, and Jakob kept his questioning face.
Wil smiled, then giggled a bit. “We realized the text was just backwards! Mom figured it out, then we read it in her makeup mirror.”
The men didn’t laugh.
“You see,” Cynthia explained, “We thought it was so much harder, then the solution was so simple!” She looked at Rob, who couldn’t help returning her beautiful smile.
He forced a believable chuckle. “Oh,” he said. “That is funny.” He looked over the couch at Jakob.
Jakob rolled his eyes, gave Wil a look and a sigh, then walked down the hall to his room.
Rob cleared his throat. “So,” he said. Wil and his wife turned to look at him. He cleared his throat again. “So, what did the note say?”
“Oh.” Wil said. She looked around her, located and grabbed the note and mirror, then gave them to her father.
“Special invitation to join our secret society,” he slowly read. He looked up at Wil, noting her excited expression. He sighed and smiled slightly at his favorite daughter’s moods, then continued reading, “If you accept, meet at the blue table at lunchtime tomorrow.”