Jonathan and Skyla were trying to remain sensible about their vacation. Their days of extravagant living were far behind them never to be repeated again. They wanted to stay close to home in case something happened at the restaurant. Revisiting Granite Falls was what they had in mind. Windenburg was never a thought until their daughters began nagging them about it. Naturally, Jonathan and Skyla were not interested in entertaining the idea at first. A trip for two cost them a pretty penny, so they couldn’t imagine a trip for four. The Pruetts were in a good place financially. They had a nice sized nest egg in the bank they had planned to spend on the next restaurant with enough to live on while they began saving again. Affording the trip wasn’t the issue. Jonathan and Skyla were wiser than they once were, and their question now was do we really need to be spending that kind of money right now? They thought no, but their daughters had different ideas. Maya and Aubrey had their hearts set on Windenburg and were not going to take no for an answer. When Jonathan and Skyla saw that their children would not let up, they sat down and strategized to see if they could make it work.
First, they figured up why their first trip was so expensive. They flew first class, stayed at a 5-star resort, ate out every night, and stayed for two weeks. First class plane tickets were definitely out of question this time around. Skyla thought of a way to solve their other problems. Even if this trip was just as expensive as the last, at least they would get more bang for their buck. First of all, they would only be there for a weekend. They hated to travel so far for so short, but their lives were different and simply did not allow them to be away for long at the moment. Secondly, she had heard about people renting out their homes to travelers. Oftentimes these vacation rentals were cheaper than a hotel room, but even if they weren’t, the amenities far outweighed the cost. A hotel room simply provided a place to sleep and wash with other amenities travelers may or may not use such as a gym, pool, spa etc. But, with a vacation rental, an entire home was at their disposal. Skyla thought it would be a good idea because they wouldn’t have to rent two rooms, they could cook their own food and save money, it would be cozier and more spacious, and more than likely it would be in a part of town they had never been to before. As always, Jonathan praised her for her brilliance. She searched for the perfect place, showed it to Jonathan, and booked it. Their daughters were ecstatic to find out they would finally be going to Windenburg.
The rental house was on the island near The Bluffs. Skyla couldn’t believe that such a beautiful place of that size would be that affordable. It wasn’t a very large house, but it was more than they needed. It had two bedrooms…
Two bathrooms, a small dining area off the side of the kitchen…
A living room on the other side of the dining area…
An art nook on the landing upstairs outside the master bedroom…
And, an office off side the master bedroom.
The backyard had a quiet eating area with beautiful trees and flowers, and the side yard had a vegetable garden with plants to tend if the mood struck.
The Pruetts arrived in Windenburg the next evening. For Jonathan and Skyla, being in that city again was bittersweet. They enjoyed seeing some of their favorite sites again and reliving some of their favorite memories as they passed through the city. They chose not to dwell on the bitter end of the trip. It was unfortunate, but they were better people for it now. Their daughters, on the other hand, looked like 5-year-olds with their hands and noses pressed up against the window watching the city go by and oohing and ahhing at every little thing. Their parents silently smirked at them for they acted so grown most of the time, but they were still so young. It made them proud that they could give them that experience. The girls were beside themselves on the ferry to the island; they had never seen the ocean before. They had been to Willow Creek a handful of times and knew the river, but these girls were from Oasis Springs. Great bodies of water were not part of their lives. Jonathan and Skyla knew that, but it never occurred to them until they heard their children’s gasps. “Look at all that water,” Aubrey yelled. They hadn’t even gotten to the rental house yet, and Jonathan already felt the money was well spent just to hear their excitement.
There was a short walk from the dock to the house, and the Pruetts were grateful after a long day of travel. The homeowner was there to greet them and make sure everything was in order before she left them in charge. Skyla appreciated her attention.
The owner had another house in a different part of town and gave Skyla her information just in case they needed anything. The girls took their obligatory selfies before they went inside and checked out the house. Skyla never thought she was as beautiful as Jonathan made her out to be, but she thought her daughters—who looked like her—were gorgeous. She never took selfies and hoped her children didn’t begin to have an obsession with vanity.
It was early evening, and everyone decided they would stay up until bedtime despite how tired they were. They only had a few hours of daylight left. Even though they only had a few days in Windenburg, they decided this would be their one chill day they didn’t go anywhere.
Jonathan whipped up some food while Skyla unpacked and the girls watched a movie.
“What do you think of this place?” Aubrey asked.
“It’s beautiful. Kinda dark…and old, but it’s charming.”
“Like a really small castle!”
After dinner, Jonathan and Skyla left the girls to their own devices while they snuck away to spend time together alone. Aubrey went to the backyard to text her friends about the trip so far, and Maya sat in front of the computer and played games.
Jonathan and Skyla went back to the dock. Skyla liked looking at the ocean and watching the boats go back and forth across the horizon; it reminded her of the first time she met him at the Pruett Estate.
“How come we didn’t come here last time?” she asked.
“I guess we didn’t know we could.”
She was silent for a moment as she inhaled the sea air. “It’s crazy how big the world is.”
The scene was definitely breathtaking, but he preferred looking at her enjoy herself. He stepped toward her and stole her attention. She smiled and happily let him have it; she knew him so well. Whatever was going to come out of his mouth was going to take her breath away. The boats could wait.
“Yeah…the world is big… But, I like my little corner with you in it.”
“Jonathan…” She was blushing. “Even after all this time you still manage to make me speechless.”
He took her by the hands and kissed them as they walked back to the house. They found their daughters knocked out in their beds and went upstairs to follow suit. In the morning, Jonathan made breakfast and ate outside. Aubrey joined him. Any time spent with her father was precious for she admired him so. She wished they could spend more time alone.
However, the alone time was short lived. Maya joined them, and Aubrey was a bit annoyed with her presence.
Oasis Springs was quiet, but Windenburg was a different kind of quiet. Perhaps it was the gentle sounds of the ocean nearby that agreed with Aubrey. Maya ruined the quiet and her daddy-daughter time. Everything about Maya’s conversation rubbed her the wrong way.
“Aubrey! What’s gotten into you?” Jonathan asked.
“We were having a nice, quiet breakfast until she came out here yammering on about Anthony and how he’s not here! We didn’t travel halfway across the world to hear you whine about him!”
“I…I’m sorry! Geez, Aubrey.” She was embarrassed and didn’t know what just happened.
“Aubrey, that was not the best way to tell your sister how you feel.”
Aubrey, who hated letting her father down, also felt embarrassed, and they all finished their breakfast in awkward silence.
After breakfast, the Pruetts boarded the ferry heading for the mainland. The next stop was going to be The Ancient Ruins. Jonathan told Skyla what happened at breakfast but didn’t want her to interfere. He said he thought it was something they needed to work out between themselves without parental guidance. The ferry ride was a bit icy, but thankfully there were no episodes to report.
They looked around the grounds and read the placards explaining the history behind the site. After a time, the Pruetts gathered back in the center of the venue to prepare to leave and go to the next place. Out of nowhere, Aubrey began talking to Maya as if nothing happened; Maya was grateful. Jonathan and Skyla were confused but tried not to show it. They were simply glad things didn’t drag on throughout the trip.
“I heard about some epic parties that happen here sometimes. I wonder if we’ll catch one.”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, honey,” Jonathan said.
“Why?” Maya asked.
“I don’t want you two roaming around here at night alone. We’re not in Oasis Springs anymore.”
“But, daddy!” Aubrey yelled. “Why can’t we do something we want to do for once?”
Aubrey was definitely in rare form that day and everyone noticed. Skyla didn’t want to interfere with Jonathan’s parenting and scowled at her phone as she averted both of their eyes. Maya had mixed emotions. She was confused about why her sister would be upset with her, talk to her like nothing happened, and then fight for an opportunity she really wanted all within the same couple of hours. Maya was definitely the more passive of the two sisters, but Aubrey had never been so combative before. Jonathan hoped that she was simply having a bad day and not that he had lost his sweet little girl forever.
“This whole trip was something you wanted to do,” Jonathan said. His voice had escalated just a smidge.
Skyla intervened before things got out of hand. He was never good with those kinds of moments. He was great with encouragement and comfort, but he totally sucked at discipline and making them listen to reason. “Ummm, Jonathan?”
To say that all parties involved were glad for her interference would be an understatement. Jonathan happily backed down although he still held his position.
“I think you’re right. They shouldn’t be alone in a foreign country at night. But, can’t we make some sort of compromise?”
“What did you have in mind?”
“Well, what if we all went?”
The girls groaned.
“We don’t have to hangout together,” Skyla responded to their displeasure with her plan.
“I like this plan,” Jonathan said. “This is the deal: we go together or not at all. Take it or leave it.”