The Charles Sample Martial Arts Academy barely needed Charles’s time anymore. Sometimes he felt like his biggest contribution these days was to hang his name on the door.
Charles was now a Grand Master, and he had blessed several Masters in the Sample Spirit branch of Sim Fu. They were doing most of the teaching now.
That was really how it should be. He didn’t want to be indispensable. He wanted to build something that would live on after he was gone. It looked like that was already happening. It made him feel good, though sometimes just a little bit lonely.
Of course, if he needed a bit of an ego boost, there were always students who desperately wanted to take lessons from him and him alone. Ariel Hodgins was that kind of student.
“Do you mind if I take a picture?” Ariel asked one day after their lesson. “I’ve always wanted a record of my hero doing, you know, every day stuff.”
“Uh, sure,” Charles said. “I was just going to send some email.”
“Thank you!” Ariel cried! “I’ll keep this on my phone forever!”
Her enthusiasm was good and cute until she started calling him up at home, hoping to get him to go out on a date.
Boundaries. Charles needed to set clearer ones, obviously.
Hunter was now pretty sure what he wanted to do when he grew up. Using his classes in sustainable food production from the Round Table Academy, he’d taken over the garden started by his great-grandmother Layla and made it thrive.
And it didn’t hurt that he knew exactly what to do with the food he produced. The Sample family was eating in style these days.
But it did take something of a sales pitch. “I was thinking I could turn this isn’t a business,” he told his parents. “Locally grown, sustainable food, and maybe some guidelines on how to prepare it. It’s just that, um, I can’t really afford the kind of land it would take to do this on my own yet. If I could continue to live with you guys while I get on my feet, I’m sure I could make it worth your while.”
“Just keep cooking!” Veronica declared between mouthfuls.
Charles watched Hunter with his gentle smile, but his eyes were alight with pride. “You didn’t fall far from the tree, did you?” he said quietly. “I think your mother agrees with me that you can stay as long as you like. It’s not like we’re so eager to kick you out.
Hunter beamed. “Thanks Dad, Mom! You won’t regret it, I swear.”
“We couldn’t possibly regret helping you follow your dreams,” Charles said.
So with some advice from his father on self-employment, Hunter headed down to Avalon’s Great Hall to fill out a lot of very tedious paperwork.
He was now a certified organic farmer! Well, he would be once the inspections and certification process were done.
After that, it was just a matter of finding customers! No big deal, right? Well, seeing as he hated talking to people he didn’t know, that would be the hardest part. But he was going to give it his best try.
Sky and Leah were seeing a lot of each other, and that meant really a lot.
“The thing is,” Sky said, “If we practice really hard, I think we could make a living with our music. You’re a great jazz pianist. I think we have a shot at this.”
Leah was more skeptical. “Most garage bands never make it out of the garage,” she said. “I don’t think I’m ready to give up a day job.”
Leah was in training to be a police officer, and her work hours were only going to get longer once she got out of the police academy. Sky figured that she had until Leah graduated to persuade her to quit.
So they spent most of their time practicing. And practicing. And practicing.
Enigma appreciated the music the most. Sometimes she came down to join in.
“She isn’t half bad,” Leah pointed out. “I’m not sure if that says good things about our music, though.”
Actually, they were starting to sound pretty good. Charles sometimes came down to the basement just to groove.
“You really shouldn’t ever dance where I can see you, Dad,” Sky pointed out.
Charles rolled his eyes. “You think you can make me self-conscious just because you’re my daughter? In my day, I creeped out more hipsters than you before breakfast. Just shut up and play.”
“I think we can do this!” Sky said as they were wrapping up one evening.
“I think you’re right!” Leah squealed. They threw themselves into each other’s arms.
“Do you think you’d consider it?” Sky said for the dozenth time. “Just consider making a living as a musician? With me?”
Leah took a deep breath. “I’m thinking about it. It’s just such a big leap of faith. I’m not sure I’m ready.” Then she looked deep into Sky’s eyes. “But I think I know one thing I AM ready for.”
Sky gulped. “Really? With me?” She was exhilarated and terrified all at the same time.
Leah giggled. “Who else do you think I’d want to do it with? I only have eyes for you.”
“You’re amazing,” Sky breathed. “And beautiful. And sexy. And a whole bunch of adjectives I can’t think of right now.” And she lost herself in Leah’s kisses.
Then, abruptly, she pulled back, looking embarrassed. “Um,” she said. “There’s this problem of where. My bedroom is so tiny.”
Leah pulled her close. “Then let’s get creative.”
And they did.
“Oh, hey,” Charles said when he came downstairs the next morning. “I thought you’d gone home.”
“Ah,” Leah said, casting about for where Sky had gone. “No, I, um, didn’t”
Charles raised his eyebrows. “Ah, I see. Well, I hope you and Sky had a very nice time.”
Well THAT was awkward.
Sky and Leah really are very cute together :).