Ellen's Dad makes her a cake cut to look like a Saint Bernard for her birthday. She loves dogs, especially huge ones, but they live in NYC so there's no way she's getting one.
Link and James got her rollerblades, and she's psyched because she's wanted them for two years. Her mom got her a helmet and elbow and knee pads. Typical Mom.
James also got Ellen cheesy bumper stickers to put on her helmet so she'll feel less geeky. (We're thinking that plan might backfire.)
Their dad puts a lot of importance in intellectualism; he thinks being "geeky" is awesome. Perhaps that's why his gift to Ellen is The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton.
Ellen loves her new book because it's a love triangle much like her own. She sees herself as the Countess Ellen Olenska (having the same name doesn't hurt), and James as Newland Archer, the man hopelessly in love with her.
Link has already gone running in the rain by the time Ellen gets up. Ellen, a different creature entirely, decides to eat leftover birthday cake for breakfast because no one's around to stop her.
She spends the day reading. She gets so engulfed in the story she finds it difficult to differentiate between fiction and her real life.
The weather continues to be yucky, so everyone is reading now; Link and James are competing to see who can finish A Tale of Two Cities first.
When they all get bored, they drive to Cooper's Terrace for iced tea and cake for Ellen. (Girl, that's twice in one day—we like your style.)
Link spontaneously plays the piano, and even though he can barely read sheet music, he's a whiz at playing by ear. James, on the other hand, despite years of lessons, needs the sheet music to play.
Ellen decides her birthday wish is to understand Link and James's relationship better.