Maya and Aubrey wanted some time to think about their parents’ proposition. Because they were in a foreign country, no one would know they were family, so it would be less embarrassing. And, if Skyla said they didn’t necessarily have to hangout together, they knew it meant she and their father wouldn’t hover. It wasn’t a bad deal, but they still needed to deliberate.
The next and final stop for the day was the Gardens at Von Haunt Estate. As they approached the house, Jonathan heard his children’s comments about the size of the house. It was Aubrey, again, who got his attention. She shouted, “have you ever seen a house so big?!” Jonathan and Skyla had the same thought at the same time: We used to live in a house bigger than this. He didn’t care anymore about his past life, but somehow he still felt like a failure. Skyla was behind him and couldn’t see his face, but she felt the uncomfortable vibes emanating from him.
“Jonathan,” she whispered. “Are you going to tell them?”
He disregarded her question and kept walking toward the next exhibit.
When they finished touring the house, the girls wanted to walk through the maze. Jonathan and Skyla sat in the garden while they listened to their daughters’ shrieks and growls of frustration as they made their way through the maze.
“Jonathan… What’s going on?”
It took him a while to find his words. “I’m not sure if I want them to know.”
“But, why? It’s their history. They deserve to know.”
“Yeah, I know but… How will knowing serve them? Will it make them appreciate where we are now? What if it causes problems for Aubrey in school with Tony’s son? What if it makes their attitudes worse? I mean, you see how they are now. We spoil them so much on the little bit we have now, who knows what they’ll think when they find out what we used to have. I know I’m a better person for what we went through, but as far as the history goes, I screwed it up. There… I said it.”
“Nine generations, Sky. Nine! Do you know how many years that is? It’s like…almost 400 years! For nearly 400 years, the Pruett name meant something. We lived in the same house for nearly 400 years! Four hundred years of wealth we had. All gone. Even if we got it all back, I don’t even have a son to pass it to. I’m not mad, Sky. It’s just… It’s a lot of pressure to live under, and…I would prefer if that pressure died with me.”
Skyla wasn’t exactly sure why it upset her, but his words did not make her happy at all. Her eyes began to water as she spoke. “This is all because you went to visit Tony, isn’t it. I didn’t want you to go, Jonathan.”
“Sky, please don’t—
“No, you listen to me!”
She rarely raised her voice at him. He was startled.
“Don’t throw away all of your progress over one rotten day! You’ve come so far, and you’ve accomplished so much, Jonathan! Don’t let him win… And don’t you ever diminish what we have again! We lost your money, and we’re never getting it back. It’s in the past. Let it stay in the past. Look at us, Jonathan! We’re in Windenburg…again! We never thought we’d be able to come back here. And we worked hard to get here. Aren’t you proud of what you’ve accomplished?”
There wasn’t much he could say. He just sighed. She was right, but this trip was bringing up so many issues he thought were dormant. He got up to walk away.
“I promise I won’t bring this up again, but we are going to talk about it.”
After Aubrey and Maya were tired of the maze, they left the estate and wandered around downtown. They went in and out of shops looking at trinkets to bring back for all of their friends. Afterward, they returned to the island for dinner and a quiet evening at home.
On the final day of the trip, the Pruetts spent quite a bit of time at The Bluffs.
Late afternoon, after everyone was tired of swimming and diving, they sat on the edge the pool to refuel in the warmth of the sun. Skyla admired her husband’s shirtless body as inconspicuously as she could. Maya was happy to be with her family. Aubrey couldn’t tear herself away from her phone. Jonathan was trying to keep his mind in the present.
The quiet was nice, but it startled him a bit and reminded him that he needed to get control of his thoughts. Engaging in conversation would help.
“So, you girls excited about tonight?”
Back to yesterday’s confrontation at the ruins, Aubrey had been asking around about the next party. It appeared that there wasn’t going to be another party there for two weeks. Needless to say, the girls were bummed that they wouldn’t get to experience a Windenburg party. Their parents felt bad and offered a different solution. “What if we took you to the hottest club in Windenburg,” Jonathan said. “We’ve been there before and know it’s completely safe. We would be willing to go somewhere else for the night if you don’t want us there.” They thought about it and decided having their parents in the club wouldn’t be the worse thing that had ever happened to them. Skyla was glad. She wanted to go back to that club.
That night, the Pruett family sailed across the ocean once more to the mainland. It took everything within Jonathan to restrain himself from blowing up about Maya’s outfit. Skyla thought it was cute, so he was definitely outnumbered. When they arrived, Jonathan parked himself at the bar while his ladies went to different corners of the dance floor. There was so much distance between Skyla and Aubrey and Maya, no one even knew they were together.
The next morning, it was time to leave their little oasis and head back home. After another exhausting plane ride and a day of rest, Jonathan found himself sitting in his front yard thinking. Skyla hadn’t forgotten about their conversation at the gardens and went out to check on him. He smiled at the sight of her and immediately shared his thoughts with her.
“I’m so glad we got away, Sky.”
She was glad although it’s not what she was expecting.
“Even though we had some drama, and we weren’t gone very long, I still had time to think. I think I have everything figured out!”
She braced herself for his plans for their future.
“I want all the restaurants to represent our family like Viviana’s does. So, if I can ever figure this ice cream thing out, there will be Freezer Bunnies. I want a fine dining restaurant named Epic.”
“Another one of my dad’s expressions. Plus, doesn’t that just sound fancy and chic?”
She smiled and nodded.
“I want an elegant sport bar. That one’s for my mother, but it kinda represents my grandma too. I don’t really want to call it ‘Jeannette’s’ but she didn’t have any sayings like my dad did. Then…the big one…think I’ll save this one for last.” He scooted closer to her. “I want to create the ultimate dining experience. Kinda like a lounge on steroids. I want a place where people can come and get the best food in town and listen to live music or catch a comedy show.”
She was intrigued.
“You know what I want to call it?”
Just behind them, inside, their daughters were having a similar catch up. Maya was sipping a cool glass of water in her room when Aubrey came in and joined her on the bed.
“So… Are you gonna tell me who you keep sneaking off to text,” Maya said between sips.
“Aubrey…come on. Are you seriously going to play this game?”
Aubrey shifted uncomfortably. “It’s no one.”
Maya cocked her head suspiciously. “People usually don’t hide to talk to ‘no one,’ lil’ sis. Who is he?”
A flash of heat zinged through Aubrey’s body. “H-how do you know it’s a he?”
Maya raised her eyebrow.
Aubrey got defensive. “It’s not what you think!”
“Mmm hmmm. Why all the secrecy then?”
“No one is supposed to know.”
“Know what,” Maya said.
“That we’re…we’re friends.”
“What kind of friends?”
“WE’RE JUST FRIENDS!”
Maya laughed at her little sister’s innocence. She wasn’t sure if they really were just friends and Aubrey should be congratulated on reaching the midpoint of her teen years without getting boy crazy or if they were more than friends. If they were, all Maya wanted to do was say “awww.” Either way, she kept sipping her water in hopes that her silence would push her sister over the edge and spill the beans. It worked!
“Ok, look! He said not to tell anyone because if daddy found out he would be upset.”
Maya’s face wrinkled. “Daddy? Upset? Pssssh. I can’t picture daddy getting upset with anyone.”
“I dunno. He said that our dads couldn’t find out. Well…his dad is dead now, so…”
“Ooooh, did they know each back in the day? Ooh ooh, I bet his dad tried to take daddy’s girlfriend or something juicy like that!” Maya was bouncing with excitement over this theory. Suddenly, she gasped. “What if it was mom!”
Aubrey rolled her eyes. “Just forget I mentioned, ok? Don’t get me in trouble.”
The front door opened and Jonathan and Skyla come in the house. Aubrey hopped up and left Maya’s room quickly. Maya was extremely confused at her sister’s behavior.