Charles called on Aunt Shanni as soon as he could get away the next day. He dropped by the Crumplebottom Estate, but Jeanette reported that her mom was at work. Charles dropped by to find her at closing time.
Shanni’s eyes looked empty as he hurried up to her. He suddenly found himself unsure of what to say.
“I didn’t expect you to be here,” he said awkwardly. “You don’t need the money. Why don’t you take some time to heal?”
“I’m trying,” Shanni said. Her voice was raw. “It’s just–” She brushed a tear out of her eye almost angrily. “It’s just that work reminds me of Agnes a lot less that home does.”
“I’m sorry. You can stay with us for a few days if you need to. You should’t be alone at a time like this.”
Shanni smiled wanly. “I’m not alone. The kids have been wonderful. Especially Jeanette. She’s growing up to be an amazing young woman.”
Then a real smile played on Shanni’s lips. It makes me think of what Agnes said to me when we were getting together. “You’ll do it, and you’ll be the better for it.”
Charles smiled back. “She was usually right.”
Shanni nodded. “And I usually didn’t notice until later. You know thing she said the same day that has helped me through my entire career? ‘The line between trashy and powerful is all about style!'”
Shanni was going to be OK.
“Please come home for dinner at least. It’s the kids’ birthday. They’d love to see you.”
Shanni shook her head. “Give them my love. Jeannette and Garry are making dinner, and I think we need some family time.”
So the triplets’ birthday was a local family affair, but it was plenty happy for all that.
In order of birth, first Forest blew out the candles.
(Better picture, but without glasses:)
The partying ran too late on a school night, but eventually Veronica kicked them upstairs to sleep in their newly renovated bedroom.
Tomorrow would be a long and exciting day.
The next morning, after the hustle and bustle of getting the kids off to their first day of school, Charles heard Veronica calling his name from the yard.
“Oh, Charlllles!” she called. Her voice was almost a singsong.
He found her at the gazebo, engaging in her favorite hobby.
“Hey stranger,” she said with a sly smile. “You know, I keep having this dream where we were wicked young things who used to go skinny dipping and worse at all hours of the day. You ever have that dream?”
“Once or twice,” Charles admitted.
“We did it!” Veronica chortled. “The kids are off to school. Your folks are off at work. We have the whole place to ourselves! It’s been so long I’ve almost forgotten what to do.”
“I haven’t,” Charles said. “I’d be glad to remind you.”
Veronica sank into his arms with a sigh. “It’s good to get some of our own back.”
“They’re great kids,” Charles said, “But I’m looking forward to recovering my hobbies.”
“I couldn’t have said it better myself!” Veronica exclaimed and pulled him down under the water.
Patient readers, the triplets finally grew up!
After the bit with Shanni, which was actually Charles’s failed attempt to get a makeover, I completely redid the lighting at the Salon. I have no idea why nothing I did would make things light up in there. Argh. And now I don’t think there will be another reason for the Samples to go there before they move.
Come to think of it, I had that problem with the dojo when I placed it. There was a lot of lighting in there already, but none of it activated. I had to redo the lighting in there too.