1 week ago
The kids were arguing, as per usual. When Pauline and Leo had decided to have a large family, they were thinking more along the lines of many tiny feet flapping around the house adorably. Nobody warned them about the quadruple threat of teenage hormones…
But nothing was going to spoil Pauline’s mood. She’d completed her generational task, passed on the responsibility, and now it was time for her to relax in the good old Windenburg for a week, with Peyton on her side. While both of the sisters lived in Newcrest, they were so busy with their own lives. Well this week, they’d be able to relive the carefree times they’d had here when they first met.
Speaking of carefree teens, Pauline had every intention of just unleashing hers into Windenburg. If she remembered anything about being a teenager, she knew they’d sneak away if she kept too watchful of an eye over them anyway. Well, maybe Carly wouldn’t, bless her. But the others…
The car pulled up in front of the impressive holiday home.
“Testing the water already!” Grady splashed away in the little pond behind the house.
“You do know Windenburg has an actual seaside, right??” Peyton laughed.
“I guarantee that it’s further than 3 steps from our front door though! Why wait any longer to get that holiday started?”
“Well, if you put it that way…”
Peyton got into her swimsuit and dove in, joining her husband.
Pauline smiled. It seemed like the good old days already!
It didn’t take long for the sisters to reconnect. They went to cracking inside jokes and snorting with laughter in no time.
Granted, Grady felt like a bit of a third wheel with them, but he was just pleased to see his wife happy. Peyton hadn’t been smiling a lot lately.
Leo felt comfortable giving the two sisters space. More time for him to experiment with cooking and catch up on reading – the holiday home had an immense library.
But why be cooped up in the house when Windenburg’s countryside was so magical! He planned a hiking trip for the whole family. To nobody’s surprise, the teens were less than enthused and ended up doing their own thing. Leo shrugged it off. More grilled chicken for the rest of them, then.
“How is the handsome chef?” Pauline joined him.
“Very good, now that his gorgeous wife is beside him!”
Pauline smiled at him warmly. “It almost feels like a second honeymoon, doesn’t it?”
“I guess that is the upside of the kids becoming so independent,” Leo noted. “Where are they today again?”
“A the beach with Starr and Davion’s kid.”
“Oh yes, the two that are taking us to that new restaurant, right?” Leo’s face lit up. “Are you excited to see your friends from your teenage years?”
“And talk about how all of our own children are teenagers now? I’ll probably feel very old!” Pauline laughed.
“Well, not all of us have kids,” Peyton reminded them, sitting down at the picnic table. “But I still feel old regardless! I mean, look at little Hallie! You see her every day, so it probably doesn’t register as much with you, but our baby sister is now practically a young woman.”
“As are our other girls,” Leo pointed out. “Spending time with your ex-boyfriend’s son… do I need to get a shotgun?” He laughed.
“From what Starr said about their Louis, I think that won’t be necessary,” Pauline laughed. “And I’d hardly call Davion my ex-boyfriend. Peyton can attest to that.”
“True, he was more like your first crush,” Peyton said helpfully.
“Well, that fills me with confidence,” Leo chuckled.
“Thanks for nothing, sis!”
“I am looking forward to seeing your old friends again, darling,” Leo offered an olive branch.
“I think you’re mainly looking forward to the restaurant, honey,” Pauline giggled.
“You got me there!”
“Whatever food they’ll serve at the restaurant won’t beat this chicken,” Peyton finished her meal, licking her lips. “You’re a great chef, Leo!”
“Why thank you!”
“You guys want to head over to that pub over there?” Peyton pointed behind her. “If I remember rightly, they have some yummy Barley Bale!”
“Which you obviously remember from your teen years,” Grady laughed.
“The juice-free version, naturally,” Peyton winked.
Pauline and Leo decided to stay behind – Pauline felt a sudden stroke of inspiration for a new folksy tune and Leo had a book to finish. They enjoyed each other’s company without the need for talking; the countryside, their hobbies and having one another at their side; it was pure bliss.
“This is it! The finest establishment in town… and the newest,” Starr announced as they entered the restaurant.
Leo could smell the stream of delicious food from the kitchen already. Promising start!
“Welcome to L’Attente Bistro!” The hostess greeted them. “We have a perfect table for a party f your size on the patio, if you’re open to sitting outside?”
“We would love to sit outside,” Pauline grinned. They needed something like this in Newcrest, that was for sure. With any luck, perhaps one of her offspring would feel like opening a restaurant in the future…
“Follow me, please,” the hostess ushered them onto the back terrace.
“Anything you would recommend, Starr?” Leo buried his nose in the menu.
“Their fish is rather lovely,” Starr played the connoisseur. “But really, you can’t go wrong! It’s all delightful.”
Peyton and Pauline exchanged amused glances. It was odd to see their once carefree and somewhat airheaded friend Starr act like a snooty food critic.
“Can I take your order?” The elderly waiter appeared.
“Steak,” Grady nodded seriously.
“The chunkiest meatiest steak you have.”
“Of course… Excellent choice.”
Everyone at the table laughed.
“I must say I’m loving this,” Leo couldn’t stop admiring just about everything in the restaurant. “And we haven’t even gotten to the food part yet!”
Needless to say, the food part did not disappoint.
Starr, somewhat bored with Leo’s incessant gushing interrupted his newest ode to the restaurant: “Why don’t you open a restaurant of your own over in Newcrest? You seem to have all of the necessary experience, and more than plenty of enthusiasm.”
“Oh… well, I suppose we would be in a good place to do that, with the kids being able to look after themselves and Pauline having fulfilled her legacy task. We even have some money on the side…” Leo pondered out loud.
“But still, it’s the kids who are meant to improve Newcrest now, we’ve passed the torch,” he pondered. He looked at his wife with anticipation.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” Pauline surprised him with an encouraging smile. “The kids have only just hit their teen years – not that we need any more reminders of that – so they won’t be building anything any time soon. And there’s still a few empty plots over in Magnolia Promenade that you could use…”
“Are you serious?” Leo’s eyes lit up.
“Of course! We’ve been so focused on my career and my task throughout all these years, it’s about time for you to shine.” Pauline pressed her husband’s hand.
“I suppose I could still work on my recipe books as a restaurant owner… all the more excuse to try them all,” Leo was beaming, his head already flowing with ideas.
“And maybe the kids could help you out at the restaurant – surely you’ll need waiting staff,” Pauline added. “Plumbob knows they could use becoming a bit more grounded!”
“So could our Louis,” Starr nodded. “He’s always got his head in the clouds, won’t stop talking about travelling… He keeps trying to persuade us to do a year abroad as an exchange student, especially now with your kids here!”
“That’s kind of sweet, actually,” Peyton said. “What are the kids up to tonight anyway?”
“Oh, Louis is taking them to the Bluffs,” Starr replied.
“The Bluffs, where it all started,” Pauline drifted off.
“Definitely won’t forget finding you hiding in a bush,” Davion chipped in. It seemed he became a bit more demure over the years, barely speaking that evening; probably because Starr was happy enough to soak up all the attention.
“We had some great times over there,” Peyton nodded. “I bet the kids will love it.”
“So, how come you and Grady never had kids?” Starr changed the topic.
The atmosphere at the table changed instantly.
“How about we talk about something else,” Pauline glared at Starr coldly.
“It’s ok, really,” Peyton reassured her sister. “I just didn’t feel ready for the longest time. And now… well, we’re not getting any younger. We wouldn’t want another Hallie situation.” She said quietly.
Awkward silence fell around the table.
“We have been looking into adoption,” Grady said. “But even then, the children you can adopt tend to be quite young, and as Peyton said… Too bad we can’t adopt a teenager!” He tried to lighten the mood.
“Well you’re welcome to have Louis anytime,” Starr joked. “Like a test run.”
“Actually, that’s not too bad of an idea.” Everyone’s heads turned at the sound of Davion’s deep voice.
“What, giving our child away?” Starr was confused.
“Of course not,” Davion let out a frustrated sigh. “But Louis has been begging us to do a year abroad for ages. Newcrest would be an obvious option – he already has friends there, and we’ve just found a potential host family, haven’t we?” He looked at Peyton.
Peyton almost dropped her fork: “Are you serious?”
“That does make sense,” Starr grinned. “We weren’t too sure about letting him go, since he would be staying with strangers for a year, but this would work.”
“Of course, it would be hard to trust complete strangers, but we’d look out for him. And Newcrest is a secure place, thanks to the legacy,” Grady nodded.
“Oh, it’s not the strangers I was concerned about, it’s Louis,” Starr giggled. “As you know from your wedding, he can be a bit of a troublemaker. Wouldn’t want to dump him at some unsuspecting strangers. But if anyone can handle him, it would be our Peyton.”
“He’s really not that bad,” Davion uttered towards Peyton.
Peyton didn’t even care. She was glowing with a vibrant green aura. She’d had doubts about adopting ever since she failed so miserably back when Hallie moved in with her, but this seemed like a good and relatively noncommittal way of gaging what she could handle.
Pauline beamed. What a way to end the holiday. Her sister emitting the unmistakable happy alien glow to her right…
…and her husband grinning wildly about his prospective restaurant venture to her left.
She just hoped that the kids would leave Windenburg on a similar high note.
The waiter placed the plates on the table and scratched his head, distracted. He was sure this was the right table. Or wasn’t it? Was he becoming senile already?
“Where did you… oh.”
“I need a woman in my life.”