Her commitments to the Sufficiently Advanced Technology Center seemed more and more to just be inconveniences. It was starting to feel like she had, well, a job. She was sure she would continue to work until her dying day, but she realized that she didn’t have to work FOR anyone. She had plenty of independent research to keep her stimulated these days.
“Wow!” Sky said when she heard the news. “I really think you ought to have a party.”
Veronica laughed. “You know what would be the best way to celebrate? Get the family out of the house so I can work on my weather regulator in peace.”
That was how everyone BUT Veronica ended up going to Honeyduke’s Sweet Shop for ice cream to celebrate Veronica’s retirement.
Well, Forest wasn’t there either, but he was at work. For a businessman, Forest worked very strange hours, and most of the family chose not to ask him for details.
Sky beamed. “You’re the best brother in the world.”
“Don’t tell Forest that,” Hunter replied. He watched Sky strut into the candy shop with a look of concern, but he didn’t say anything.
“Let me buy you a banana split, Mrs Sample!” Sky said.
Leah giggled. “Certainly, Mrs. Sample!”
They at their ice cream together, making eyes at each other.
When they were finished, Sky heard bass music wafting down from the performance space upstairs. “There’s music!” Sky exclaimed.
“Actually, I was thinking maybe Hunter and I could go home and work in the garden,” Leah admitted. “We’ve been too busy, and the plants really need love.”
Sky blinked. She’d never really been able to understand the appeal of working in the dirt. “Do you mind if *I* go up and check out the music?” she asked forlornly.
Leah laughed. “Go ahead. We can meet up at home.”
So Sky headed upstairs to find Garry Crumplebottom jazzing out on the Honeydukes candy apple string bass.
His face lit up when he saw here. “Sky!” he cried. “Grab an instrument and join in!”
So she did. Suddenly, she was transported back to teenagerhood, when she first really discovered the beauty of making music together. Garry had been central to her self-discovery.
They played for hours, attracting a crowd of listeners.
When they at last took a break, Sky took the time to catch up with Garry. He was living by his music these days, mostly playing in theater pit orchestras and recording movie soundtracks. Money hadn’t really begun to flow yet, but he was upbeat. He had Crumplebottom money to live off of while he was making a name for himself.
Feeling suddenly a bit shy, Sky told him about Ghostwriter. “We’re could really use someone like you in our band. What do you think?”
“I think it’s a marvelous idea!” Garry agreed. “I never get to play jazz like this. If the others will have me, I would love to join!”
Eventually, Sky headed downstairs to go home. Amie Engle, the proprietress, waved to her from behind the bar.
“You make some beautiful music,” Amie said. “We’d love to have some love music in here on a regular basis. What would you think about a regular gig for your band?”
Sky was so thrilled she almost couldn’t find the words to say yes!
At home, Leah and Hunter spent a quiet afternoon in the arboretum.
The garden was full of weeds, but the plants underneath them thrived. Leah relished the the quiet time with her hands in the soil. It gave her time to think. She’d done the right thing in pushing Sky to make a commitment, hadn’t she?
“Do you think Sky and I were really meant to be?” she asked Hunter.
Hunter was quiet for a while. “I think you’re both good people,” he said.
“That’s not an answer,” she said.
Hunter shrugged. “I don’t think I can answer. I think you’re good people, but I’m not in your relationship. I can’t tell if you can make it work or not.”
Leah smiled wryly. “Touche,” she said.
Meanwhile, Forest looked after Dylan.
Which might not have been the best idea.
Leah ended up having to leave the garden to rescue Dylan from a full-blown temper tantrum about the candy that Forest wouldn’t let him have.
Once she had Dylan fed and to bed, the phone rang. She answered, expecting it to be Sky.
Instead, it was one of her close friends from high school, looking to catch up.
“Emma! So good to hear from you. How are you doing? I heard your name is Voss-Lorien now! I hope Veltig appreciates you. Did you hear that I go by the name of Sample these days?”
Then there was dead silence on Leah’s side of the conversation.
At last, she choked, “You saw what?”
Dylan was in bed, but Leah was waiting up for Sky when she returned from Honeyduke’s that night.
“I had a fabulous time!” Sky sang as she stepped through the door. “I think Garry Crumblebottom is going to play bass with Ghostwriter! Just wait until you hear him play–” The look on Leah’s face stopped her dead in her tracks.
“I talked to Emma Voss-Lorien this afternoon,” Leah said. When Sky continued to look blank, she continued, “She was at The Garden Gnome while you were having your fun with Xia Wu.”
Oh. Oh dear.
“Leah,” Sky began. “I tried to tell you –“
“How could you have tried to tell me??” Leah demanded. “I am not that hard to talk to!”
“Dad just died, and I felt so alone. Xia had a crush on me in high school. It just got out of hand. We both know it shouldn’t have happened. I didn’t tell you because I was so terrified you’d hate me.”
Leah froze, trying to decide how to react. It hadn’t been hard to see how Charles’s death had crushed Sky. But… this?
“Is the baby mine?” she asked.
Sky cringed. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I hope so. It was just the one time.”
Sky’s unusual biology made it a lot more likely that one time had been the time, though, and they both knew it.
Sorry for Leah photobombing the trip the Honeydukes in her wedding dress. I didn’t realize she was still wearing it when they headed to the hangout, and I didn’t have any other outside shots for transition.
Emma was at the pub when Sky and Xia got together, but I think I somehow managed to list her in all the pictures. She and Leah are actually friends on their relationship bar, though I’ve never done anything with it. So this seems like a reasonable way the gossip would have reached Leah.