BACK TO SCHOOL
By the time the works on the house ended, the summer holidays were almost over. At the end of September, the twins would be going back to the university and hopefully by then, Elisabeth would finally return home from China. Nobody had any idea what was really happening in the far East. The only one who suspected something was David. He knew his daughter better than anyone else and since that night in Shang Simla, when Elisabeth secretly sneaked out of her bed and entered the Dragon Cave, David would never sleep peacefully again. After she called to tell him that she wasn’t coming home from China, David was sure that Elisabeth was up to something. He kept it to himself, also because he hasn’t found a way to tell Kate where their daughter really was, and secretly prayed that Elisabeth would soon return home. Kate had no need to worry about their daughter – she thought that Elisabeth was enjoying the summer in France.
As the time flew by, Kate started feeling convinced that Elisabeth fell in love and the real reason of her prolonged stay was nothing else but her summertime romance. Kate would often talk about Monsieur Français at breakfast after she dreamed about the perfect wedding dress for her daughter or even about the grandchildren she didn’t have. She became obsessed with the idea of Elisabeth getting married and having children. David would always say in Elisabeth’s defense, that she was too young to settle down and start a family. He didn’t want to admit it to himself, but his little daughter wasn’t so little anymore.
Kate designed everything all by herself. From the colors of the paint and wallpapers used to decorate every room in ‘Elisabeth’s apartment’ to the last detail such as the vase with flowers on the dining table. Although she knew, that Elisabeth’s favorite color was green, she decided for the fashionable combination of dark chocolate, timeless white and trendy fuchsia.
Despite Finn’s initial critic of the color choices, Kate knew the result was going to be amazing. And she was right, everybody loved it. Finn even said, that he might reconsider hiring a renowned team of designers to furnish his own house one day and leave this immense responsibility on Kate instead.
Even though there was no baby in the house, Kate insisted on setting up the nursery ‘just in case’. Since she dreamed about a grandson, choosing the right color wasn’t a problem. David begged her to wait until the actual child would be born, but Kate didn’t want to hear a word about it. And so it happened – Kate designed a little nursery for her non-existing grandchild.
Because Kate hasn’t used nearly half of the budget, the family decided to use the leftover money for the garden. Not only the boys, but also Elisabeth have dreamed about a swimming pool since they were kids. And so their parents have finally made their wish come true.
Kate and David didn’t forget to think about their own happiness. Ever since experiencing the extremely hot temperatures of Al Simhara during their honeymoon, they have dreamed about a little corner of tropical sensation of their own. Kate was in the middle of designing a small desert house with heated sand and tropical flora, but David convinced her that the outdoor sauna was a good compromise.
The area in front of the garden shed was transformed into a barbecue corner. Before it was even finished, David could already picture the family enjoying the warmth of the fire during the long summer nights.
In order to prevent the horses from drinking water from the pool, David installed a fence dividing the garden into two sections connected by a little gate. This way, everybody could access the stables without having to go around the house.
The terrace remained the same as before. (Can you spot Snowball in this picture?)
Kate insisted that Elisabeth’s apartment had an independent entrance which required a little adjustment to the parking zone. Nobody really seemed to mind, because the family owned just one car and the second parking spot has never really been used anyway.
Kate quickly found another use for the brand new sauna. Steamed veggies became one of the dishes on every day menu. Being a vegetarian, David couldn’t be happier about this purchase.
“Lunch is ready! Finn, hurry up and bring plates from the kitchen,” Kate called at him.
“Hey, Zac! Mom said you have to bring some plates from the kitchen!” Finn called at his brother while he was getting ready to dive in the pool.
“Did you hear her call my name, dad?” Zac asked David with a bored tone.
“Ugh…,” he sighed and headed towards the stairs leading to the terrace.
“Where are you going, Zac?”
“To the kitchen I guess…”
“Just let him do it,” told him David and pointed at Finn swimming underwater. Zac happily smiled at his father and jumped in the water.
“This is what happens when you let others take advantage of you, boy,” said David as he looked down at Snowball.
“Looks like I’ll have to bring the plates myself,” sighed Kate as she looked at the twins relaxing on the floating mattresses.
“I’ll get them!” David called at her and scratched Snowball behind the ears. He tilted his head to one side, and joyfully moved his little tail. Since Elisabeth left for China, nobody was paying much attention to the dog, so when someone remembered to scratch him in places he couldn’t reach, he was genuinely happy.
The family spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool. Although it was almost September, the days were still very hot in Monte Vista. The beach down the hill as well as the community pool were overcrowded as on every other summer day, so having a private pool felt like eating sun-kissed strawberries in winter.
“It’s such a shame, that Liz isn’t here with us today… I’m sure she’d have the breath contest with me,” said sadly Zac.
“Oh, come on! Aren’t you old for that kind of stuff? We used to do that as kids!” mocked him Finn.
“Even adults like to play sometimes. I don’t see what’s wrong about hold your breath contest,” David joined their conversation.
“That’s. So. Boring. I always thought adults enjoyed other kinds of… ahem… games. I’m sure you know what I mean, dad,” said Finn and winked at David.
“Well… yes. Of… course. For instance, we really enjoy playing chess… or… um… poker.”
“Poker?” Kate asked him curiously. Even she was surprised by David’s answer.
“Dad certainly meant the strip poker, mom,” sneered Finn.
“It suddenly got so hot, I think I’m going back to the water,” Zac rapidly changed the subject.
“I think that’s a great idea,” agreed David. “Are you coming, Kate?”
When David asked her this question, Finn couldn’t help it and burst into laughter. “That’s so funny, Finn. Time to grow up,” told him Zac while shaking his head.
“Don’t be so uptight, man! You behave like a grandmother!”
“Whatever you say, sonny boy,” he said, imitating an old woman’s voice. Finn quickly raised from his mattress, pushed his brother in the water and jumped after him.
The following week, Finn and Zac returned at the campus. The lessons were starting only in two weeks, but the twins wanted to enjoy themselves before it all started. They hanged out with their friends, threw a welcome party for the freshmen and had lots of fun in general. Finn’s girlfriend, Malika Williams, arrived one week after them and not only was she staying at the same dormitory, this time she was sharing the room with Finn. Zac didn’t mind at all, because since the moment Malika arrived at campus, Finn had far much less time to bother him.
“Ready?” Zac asked his brother on the way to their first lesson.
“Not really,” Finn yawned. “We haven’t slept much the last night, I hope to get some sleep during the lesson,” he said and rubbed his eye.
“I know,” Zac told him idly. “Actually, the entire dormitory knows,” he added with an impish smile.
“Have a nice day, brother.”
“Yeah. You too,” answered Finn as their parted ways.