LIFE GOES ON
It was 2 AM when David suddenly woke up. He had a bad dream about Kate and when he looked at the other side of the bed and didn’t see her there, he immediately got up and went searching for her, but Kate was nowhere to find. He checked even the bathroom on the first floor although he knew she never used it at night. When he couldn’t find her anywhere in the house, he decided to search in the garden. The moment he opened the door to the terrace, the well-known acrid smell hit his nose. It didn’t take him long and he understood what was going on.
He quickly ran to the stables and saw Kate lying on the sand near the pond.
“KATE! What are you… Oh my god… KATE!!! ARE YOU ALIVE?!?!” David called at her, but Kate didn’t answer. When he got close enough, he noticed she was badly burnt.
He immediately called the ambulance which arrived within 5 minutes.
The following morning when David came back from the hospital where he spent the night watching over his wife that suffered 2nd degree burns, he walked in the stables to see what the fire has done. The moment he saw almost everything was burnt, tears appeared in his eyes.
He was very sad, but also angry, because it was obvious someone must have started the fire. It just could not have started from nothing. David picked his cellphone and documented the place well. Then he sat in the car and headed towards the police station together with the evidence.
While Kate was recovering in the hospital, Finn was actively browsing the website of the Sims University.
And Zac started writing another science-fiction novel which he entitled “Future Spy”.
The twins were going to leave for the college this autumn and both of them were doing their best to improve all the necessary skills in order to succeed at the aptitude tests.
The hard work paid off, they both earned a partial scholarship!
Elisabeth was working on her logic skill necessary for the discovery of the Metamorphium potion.
Hesper tried to help her although he still didn’t understand the rules of the game well.
Kate’s condition was improving every day. She was very lucky not to have any visible consequences. In less than a week Kate recovered completely just in time for her birthday. After she left the hospital, Kate headed up the hill towards the cemetery.
When she looked at the statue of Grim Reaper she realized how close to death she got this time. Kate promised him, she’ll never play with life again.
When Kate arrived home everybody was still sleeping. She decided to surprise the family and prepared the breakfast calzone.
The first one to get up was Elisabeth. As soon as she saw her mother she ran to her smiling and hugged her.
“Welcome home, Mommy! I’m so happy you’re OK!”
“Me too, sweetheart, me too… Come, I made something tasty for breakfast,” Kate smiled at Elisabeth and they both sat down at the table.
“So… Have I missed something?”
“Not much,” said Elisabeth and took a bite of the calzone. “It’s delicious!” she exclaimed and almost choked herself.
“Pay attention, Lizzie!” warned her Kate. “You’re the heiress to our legacy. We need you alive,” she continued jokingly.
The rest of the family joined them in the terrace for breakfast.
“Welcome home, Mom!” called Finn and Zac with one voice.
“I’m happy to see you, Kate,” said David and hugged his wife. Kate whispered me too in his ear and kissed him.
“I’m happy to see all of you,” smiled Kate as she looked at her beautiful kids.
“You’re a hero, Mom! You saved all the horses! Thank you,” said Elisabeth.
“Yeah… Elisabeth is right. We’re happy you survived,” said Finn and picked the calzone Kate prepared for them.
“Mmmm… it’s delicious, Kate! I think that this oven was a great purchase!” said David.
“We should also try out the grill. Mom’s birthday is this weekend, what about throwing a grill party for that occasion?” suggested Finn.
“Finn, you’ve got such a great idea!” said happily David.
“Mandy… I mean Amanda told me, they are coming in town this week-end. Maybe we could invite them to the party?”
“I know, Zac,” replied Kate. “The O’Connor’s are already invited, don’t worry,” she smiled and blinked the eye at him.
After the breakfast, Kate and Elisabeth decided to go for a ride at the beach. The summer breeze played with their hair as they rode down the hill.
“Look, Mom! We’re lucky today,” exclaimed Elisabeth as she looked at the empty beach. “I expected it would be already crowded with tourists and we’d have to go for a ride in the hills!”
“It’s too early for the tourists, Liz. They’re still having their croissants and cappuccinos!” smiled Kate at her daughter.
“It’s great to be back in the saddle again. I hate hospitals,” confessed Kate.
“I am really happy that you invited George to your birthday party, Mom. Do you think they’ll all come?”
“I hope. It would be nice to meet the girls and Max again. Did you know he’s going to go to school this September? The time flies so fast!”
“Really? He was just a toddler when I saw him!” exclaimed surprisingly Elisabeth.
“I’m sure George will be very happy when he hears about your victory,” said proudly Kate.
“I thought you already told him.”
“No, I haven’t. I think you should be the one to tell him,” smiled Kate.
“And… did you… did you tell him what happened? I mean… the fire… and… you…”
“Yes, I told him about it. George thinks it wasn’t a coincidence. Someone must have set the stables on fire.”
“I hope the police will find out,” sighed Elisabeth. “After he took you to the hospital, Dad took some pictures and went to the police station… but they haven’t called yet.”
“Hmm… Well, I think it doesn’t matter anyway. The stables weren’t insured… It’s my fault. I used the money for the Little Pony. I thought it was more important…”
“Mom, don’t blame yourself. You did a great job! You saved the Little Pony from bankrupt and you also saved all of our horses!”
“And almost killed myself doing so…”
“Mom, don’t worry, everything’s all right. We’ll find a way. And I promise you, the stables will look even better than before!”
“Oh, Elisabeth… Nothing can stop you, can’t it?” Kate smiled at her.
“Nope,” Elisabeth said innocently.
“Hey, you know what, Liz? Let’s make the morning ride a tradition! I’m having a great time!”
The following day, when Kate and Elisabeth returned home from the morning ride, they sat at the terrace.
“Mom, I’d like to confide something to you.”
“No, Mom, don’t worry! I’m not pregnant.”
“I feel relieved,” smiled Kate at Elisabeth. “So what is it then?”
“The night after the competition…”
“Mom! Please don’t interrupt! The night after the competition I had a fight with…”
“Mom! Please! Let me tell you everything!”
“Fine. Go on.”
“I had a fight with one girl. I mean, she started it.”
“Why would a girl start a fight with another girl? Is it because of Wayne?”
“No, Mom! We’re just friends!”
“Oh, well… then what was it about?”
“Does the name Gilman tell you something?”
“Well, this girl, Lizette… I think she did it. I think she set our stables on fire, Mom.”
“Why would she do such a thing?”
“I don’t know… but if she can start a fight over the golden prize, that I honestly won… Go figure what she’s able to do if she loses a fight in front of her friends.”
“I’m not sure, Elisabeth…”
“Me neither, Mom. I just wanted you to know,” said Elisabeth.
“Well, I’m glad you told me. When the O’Connor’s arrive, I’ll ask George about this Gilman family,” said Kate and went in the bedroom to change her clothes.
David was preparing hot dogs for the lunch.
“Need help, honey?” asked him Kate.
“No, no. It’s your birthday, Kate, I don’t want you to do anything today! Just enjoy yourself,” he smiled at her.
“Okey dokey,” she said and went to relax on the terrace. It was really a beautiful day.
David was finally going to use the garden grill. They bought it already two months ago, but nobody has used it yet.
Let’s see, David said to himself as he started putting the sausages on the grill.
Kate was about to fall asleep when Elisabeth appeared on the terrace.
“I had this idea… You know, it’s your birthday and I would like to make you a gift,” smiled Elisabeth.
“Honey, you don’t have to spend money on me,” said Kate.
“Exactly, I won’t. I would like to paint you a portrait, Mom.”
“Oh, that’s amazing, Liz! Thank you!”
“Just wait here, I’ll fetch the easel!”
Elisabeth came back in less than a minute.
“So, just stand over there, Mom, so I can lay down the first lines on the canvas.”
“Yes, perfect,” said Elisabeth and started painting Kate’s portrait.
After a while, the doorbell rang.
“It must be the O’Connors!” said Kate and went to welcome the guests. “Come, Liz! Everybody’s here!”
“I’m coming, Mom, just let me finish this…”
“Hey, everybody! I’m glad you all made it!”
“We’re here, people!” Faith called from the door.
“Hello, Kate!” said little Max.
“Oh, hello there!” Kate smiled at him. “Your grandpa told me you’re going to school in September. Are you looking forward, Max?”
“Yep. It will be fun! I already have a backpack and a pencil case!”
“Wow! I see you are well prepared,” she smiled.
“Grandpa says I’m good at math, I can count to a hundred! One, two, three, four, five, six-”
“That’s amazing, Max!”
“Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen-”
“Stop counting, Max!” scolded him Faith.
“I’m happy to see you again, Faith. And look at you, Reese! The new haircut really looks great!”
“Hi, George! It’s good to see you!”
“I’m glad to be back in Monte Vista. I missed it a lot,” George confessed.
“Do you know I can count to a hundred?” asked her Max, took a deep breath and started counting. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen-”
“Wow! Your Mom must be proud of you.”
“Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty!”
“Max? Would you like some ice-cream?”
“Just if you have the chocolate one.”
“I’m pretty sure we do. Come, I’ll give you some.”
“Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four…”
Elisabeth opened the fridge and gave the little mathematician a box of ice-cream.
“Can I eat all of it?”
“Yep,” told him Elisabeth and passed him a spoon. I hope it will stop you from counting for some time, she thought to herself. However, as Max ate the first spoon of ice-cream he started counting again.
“One,” he said and grabbed another spoon. He licked it clean. “Two.” And he did the same with the following one. “Three.”
Great, Elisabeth thought to herself.
“Elisabeth thinks that a certain girl set the stables on fire. Does the name Gilman tell you something, George?”
“Oh… Yes… Of course…,” pondered George. “I don’t exactly remember what happened that time…”
“What happened? And When?”
“I think that Elisabeth should pay a visit to Cécile. I’m certain she’ll never forget this name.”
“Hey, Mandy! How are you doing?”
“Hey! I’m great! It’s super cool to be here! This place is amazing and your home… Wow!”
“Yeah… I’m lucky to be my Mom’s daughter. She’s the best.”
“I heard what happened to her… and the stables… Is she OK?”
“Well, she recovered very quickly… but… you know… the stables… we’ll have to reconstruct everything…”
“You know, Liz, if you need help…”
“Thanks, Mandy, but we’ll manage. You don’t have to worry about this,” smiled Elisabeth and went outside to join the others.
Zac was playing with Snowball waiting for everybody to get outside, so he could properly welcome his girlfriend.
“Hello, George! Thanks for bringing everyone to the party!”
“No problem, sonny!” he said and blinked the eye at him. “Are you coming outside?”
“In a minute, George, in a minute,” said Zac and pretended that Snowball was the reason keeping him inside.
Everybody except Kate and Faith, who were to Zac’s immense pleasure still in the living room, gathered on the terrace.
“Your house is so beautiful, Kate. You have such a big garden!”
“Thank you, Faith. We were planning on building a pool, however, the stables are more important. We don’t have much time before the autumn comes and the horses are still sleeping outside…,” sighed Kate.
“I’m really sorry about the fire.”
“We all are,” sad sadly Kate.
“I’m sorry, Kate, I didn’t want to make you sad. It’s your birthday! We should celebrate!”
“You’re right! Let’s do this!” smiled Kate and they both went outside.
“Come on, kiddos, Kate’s going to blow out the candles. I’m sure Zac doesn’t want to miss this, do you, Zac?” asked him Faith,
“Of course not,” said Zac, looked at Amanda and they both followed their mothers to the terrace.
Elisabeth lit the candles on the cake and everyone started singing the birthday song.
Kate made a wish and then blew out all the candles.
Although she was getting older, Kate knew she wouldn’t give up on what she loved the most. She was a successful jockey with a great reputation and the founder of the Loewe Equestrian Academy. Nothing could ever stop her passion for horses, whether it was a fire or the age. In fact, she didn’t plan on retiring any soon. Even though she has already chosen the heir to her legacy, Kate knew that Elisabeth wasn’t ready to handle the Academy on her own. She was only a teenager and still had much to learn before taking her mother’s place. Plus no matter what, Kate wanted her daughter to finish the high-school first.
Meanwhile everybody was enjoying the birthday cake, Zac and Amanda finally got a moment just for themselves.
“I’m so in love with you, Mandy,” said Zac and gazed in Amanda’s big eyes. “I could be looking at you all the day and it still wouldn’t be enough.”
“Oh, Zac. You have no idea,” said Amanda and started kissing him passionately.