On the morning of Zac and Finn’s return from the university, Elisabeth woke up earlier than usual. She wanted to surprise her brothers with breakfast calzone. Elisabeth wasn’t the best chef in town, however, she enjoyed preparing food in the wood fire oven.
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Recipe for the Breakfast Calzone
Step 1: Knead the ball of dough into a flat round shape – pizza shape.
Step 2: Toss the dough in the air to achieve superior flatness and roundness.
Step 3: Add your favorite ingredients to the pizza, fold it on half, and place it in the oven.
Step 4: When the dough changes color from white to golden, your breakfast is ready.
♦ ♦ ♦
While Elisabeth was preparing the breakfast, her brothers arrived in Monte Vista.
When they passed along a large mansion located across the street from the hospital, neither of them has noticed Amanda walking out of that very house or her sister Reese running barefoot on the sidewalk.
The Vanderburg family was now part of Monte Vista. They moved into the house located on Via Veronaville, 3. The previous owner, Sebastiana Russo, had passed away already a long time ago and because she didn’t have any children her large mansion remained empty for years. People who lived across the street from the empty house got used to the peace over the past decade and now, that eight people – wealthy and very influential people – moved in, it was more than obvious that the peaceful era has ended.
“We’re home!” called Zac as he got out of the van.
He walked into the house expecting to find everybody happily awaiting their arrival. Wrong guess. “Hello? Anybody home?” called Zac and dropped his luggage on the floor. The very moment the door to the terrace opened and Elisabeth ran inside to welcome her brothers.
“Come outside! I made breakfast for you!” she exclaimed happily.
“Great!” Zac smiled at Elisabeth and followed her to the terrace.
“Yo! Am I supposed to carry this upstairs or what?” Finn looked at Zac and pointed at his brother’s luggage.
“A little bit of lifting will do you no harm,” Zac winked at Finn.
“Riiight,” said Finn, picked Zac’s luggage, and headed towards the stairs.
“So? How was the first year on campus?” Elisabeth asked her brother.
“Well, definitely not what I have expected,” said Zac and sat down at the table. “This smells really good!”
“And tastes even better!”
“Mmm, it’s delicious!” said Zac as he took the first bite. “Did Mom teach you how to make this?”
“Kinda. I just personalized the recipe.”
“You should ‘personalize’ also Mom’s version of Goopy Carbonara. Man, this tastes like heaven. Can I have more?”
“Sure,” Elisabeth smiled at him. She felt very proud of herself. “Just leave something to Finn.”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry,” assured her Zac and eagerly grabbed another slice.
“Amanda’s in town,” Elisabeth dropped randomly.
“What?” asked her Zac and the happy expression on his face suddenly disappeared.
“Well, actually, all the Vanderburg clan is,” she added. “They moved in the mansion down the hill only a couple of days ago.”
“You’re joking, right?”
“No,” she answered with a very serious tone. Zac looked at her with thousands of questions on mind, however, he was way too shocked to even ask what time it was. He just stared at his sister silently. Elisabeth understood he wanted to hear answers to all of his unspoken questions.
“Nobody really knows why they moved to Monte Vista. Mom thinks there must be a reason.”
“Maybe they want to take over the world or something.”
“One thing is clear though. Amanda is not in Bridgeport. She works at the Salon.”
“I was shocked myself,” confessed Elisabeth. “You should pay her a visit. I guess she’ll be very happy,” she added ironically.
“Happy? She broke up with me over a message! I don’t think she wants to see me… I’m not sure if I want to see her.”
“Come on, Zac. Aren’t you curious to find out what’s going on?”
Zac looked at Elisabeth without saying a word, stood up from the table, and ran inside. He almost crashed into Finn who was headed towards the terrace.
“What’s the rush?” Finn asked him, but Zac already ran out of the main door leaving it wide open. Finn rolled his eyes and lazily walked towards the door. When he was about to close it he noticed Snowball with the newspaper in his mouth standing at the porch and wagging his tail. “Finally! You learned to bring in the newspaper! Good boy!” said happily Finn, but Snowball didn’t seem to understand. He just moved his tiny head from side to side. “Come in or I’ll leave you outside,” said Finn, moved the dog inside with his leg, and closed the door. “Give me the newspaper, Snow. It’ll get all soaked,” told him Finn and bend to reach for the newspaper. When Snowball understood that Finn wanted to take the newspaper from him he quickly ran to the terrace. Stupid dog, Finn thought to himself.
“Thanks, Snow!” Elisabeth praised Snowball when he brought the newspaper to her feet. She caressed him and gave him a piece of breakfast calzone.
“Can you tell me what you said to Zac?” Finn asked Elisabeth.
“Do you really want to know?” Elisabeth looked at her brother from behind the newspaper.
“Hmm, let me think… Yes, I want to know.”
“We have new neighbors.”
“I get it! Zac ran to check if they have a spare daughter, didn’t he?” sneered Finn.
“Don’t be mean, Finn. It’s worse then you think. Our new neighbors are the Vanderburgs.”
“Yes. The Vanderburgs.”
“What are they doing here?”
“Living, as it appears.”
“Hmm… good. Really, really good.”
“What did you say?”
“The pizza. It’s really good.”
“Can I finish the rest?”
“Sure,” told him Elisabeth and turned a page of the newspaper. “Are you kidding me?!?!” she exclaimed surprisingly when she saw the photo of the main article on the page. Elisabeth started reading aloud.
“When two politicians put their forces together, there is a big chance they may accomplish great things. However, when two Leaders of the Free World, husband and wife and descendants from a long line of Royals decide to unite their forces, well then, anything becomes possible. H.R.H. Catarina Vanderburg and her husband Renauld have lived in Hidden Springs all their lives. Until this day, the reason why they came to Monte Vista remains unclear.
People believe, that it must be something truly ground breaking to have made the royal family leave the multi-million mansion located in the luxurious quarter of Hidden Springs. Rumor has it, that Catarina, marriage-obsessed mother of two, has finally found the perfect spouse for her eldest granddaughter. Various speculations about who this lucky man may be took over the local gossip.
In an exclusive interview for the Monte Vista Daily, H.R.H. Catarina Vanderburg stated that “It’s essential that the blue and red stop finally mixing. There are already way too many shades of violet, lilac, purple – call it whatever you please. (…) The past has finally found its way back. Things are going to change for all of us.”
It is obvious, that H.R.H. enjoys talking in riddles. In any case, however, this statement may lead us to a conclusion that there is a family of royal descent living in our town.
“Do you know if Amanda is older than Reese?”
“Boh. I have no idea. Wait. Aren’t they twins?”
“Hmm… I think you’re right…,” pondered Elisabeth and looked at the photo of Catarina and Renauld. “Do you think that Amanda broke up with Zac because her grandma has found a prince for her?”
“I hope not… for Zac,” said Finn and grabbed another slice.
“I thought we were living in a free world where anybody could decide what to do with his own life,” sighed Elisabeth.
“Well, you’re probably not that free to decide if your grandparents are the Leaders of the Free World.”
“Yeah. That’s really unfair. I don’t like this woman one bit. She’s so… medieval. Look at her,” said Elisabeth and passed the newspaper to Finn.
“Well, she looks good, I mean, the photo looks nice.”
“Yeah. When I saw Catarina at the salon, she definitely didn’t look so… young. The photographer did a good job,” said Elisabeth and gave a closer look at the photo. When she read the name of the photographer it sounded somehow familiar to her. Benjamin Thomas, Benjamin Thomas… where did I hear that name? Elisabeth thought to herself. “Of course! It’s the guy with the forgotten baby!” she suddenly called out.
“What? What guy? What baby?” Finn asked her confusingly.
“Ah, just a guy I met two years ago,” Elisabeth mumbled and pretended she was reading the newspaper. The moment Finn left the terrace she picked her phone. I hope I still have his number, Elisabeth said to herself as she browsed through her contacts.
“Yes!” she squeaked like a little girl. Elisabeth didn’t hesitate and dialed his number.
Benjamin was on a stroll with his daughter Chloe. The moment they crossed the bridge his cellphone began to ring.
“Mommy, Mommy?” asked him Chloe.
“No, it’s not Mommy, Chloe,” told her Benjamin when he looked at the screen of his cellphone. Who could this be? he thought to himself when he saw an unknown number.
“Please pick up, pick up,” Elisabeth was getting anxious because Benjamin wasn’t answering.
“Chloe play! Play!” Chloe called.
“All right, all right,” said Benjamin, picked his daughter from the stroller, placed her on the grass, and put Mr. Teddy in her tiny little hands. “Stay close to Daddy, okay pumpkin?”
“Teddy, Daddy!” Chloe giggled. Benjamin could finally answer his phone.
“Oh, hi! Are you Benjamin? Benjamin Thomas?”
“Yes and you are?”
“I… uh…I saw your name in the newspaper.”
“What newspaper? And who’s calling?”
“Oh, excuse me. It’s Elisabeth. From Monte Vista. Do you remember me?”
“We met two years ago… me and my mother… we uh… we found your little daughter… it was raining… and we took her home… I mean… your home… to you,” Elisabeth tried to help him remember but she was barely speaking any sense.
“Oh, right! I remember! I gave you my number, but you never called.”
“Y-yeah. That’s me,” agreed Elisabeth and bit her lip. “I’m sorry for never calling you back,” she apologized immediately because she started feeling guilty.
“So, tell me about the newspaper.”
“Not much. It’s just… I saw your name close to a photo and I remembered about you… so… I thought I’d give you a call.”
“Well, that’s very nice of you, Elisabeth.”
“Thanks. I mean, you’re welcome. Gosh, this is so weird.”
“I’m really surprised. I absolutely didn’t expect you’d call me…”
“Well, I didn’t expect that either,” Elisabeth smiled. “So, how’s your daughter? Have you lost her yet?” Seriously? When Elisabeth realized what she’s just said, she wanted to bury herself deep in the ground.
“Well, now that you remind me-” Chloe! CHLOE! Come back to Daddy!
Well, I wasn’t that far from reality after all, Elisabeth thought to herself.
“I’m sorry, Elisabeth. I have to go. Can I call you back later?”
“Sure, now you have my number, right?”
“Yep, now I do. Thanks for the call, Elisabeth, it really made my day.”
When Benjamin said that, Elisabeth felt a strange feeling in her belly. He completely surprised her there. She didn’t know what to say.
“Bye, Elisabeth. Have a nice day!”
“You too, bye!”
Benjamin walked towards Chloe and picked her up. “Chloe is a very bad girl. No running from Daddy next time, okay?”
“Chloe bad. Bad bad baaad!” Chloe screamed so loud that even a bird sitting on a nearby tree got scared and quickly flew away.
“Shhh, Chloe, don’t scream.”
“Who call, Daddy?”
“Elisabeb? Who Elisabeb?”
“Elisabeth is our friend,” told her Benjamin, kissed Chloe on her tiny forehead, and put her back in the stroller.
“In a land, far far away, behind nine hills and nine rivers.”
“Daddy and Chloe swim?”
“Let’s take you home, little swimmer,” Benjamin smiled at her.
“Swim, swim, swim!” Chloe called from her stroller all the way back home.
Back in the land far far away, Elisabeth was in the stables talking to Lady about Benjamin.
“Do you think I should ask him to come with me to China, Lady?”
Lady softly whinnied in approval.
“I don’t even know him…”
“Neither he knows you,” said a voice in Elisabeth’s head.
“Lady? Was that you?” Elisabeth asked the horse, but Lady just silently looked at her. I must be getting crazy.