Kennedy slept fitfully that night. He was up for a big promotion on Monday. He remembered how many promotions he'd missed out on when Yulia and Yuri had been younger, because caring for them had taken a lot of Kennedy's time. But he didn't mind--the kids were certainly worth it (especially Yulia).
He just wished Yelena hadn't made that cruel remark about his weight. Didn't she realize he was anxious about the promotion? "She sure could be more supportive," he grumbled.
He turned over to look at his wife, and realized she was no longer in bed. He heard a soft repetitive sound coming from the living room and went to investigate.
"Hey, husband, how you like new present?" Yelena asked, happily thudding away on a brand-new treadmill. "I get for you so you feel good about self so can get promoted today!" Her eyes were shining. "You want to try out?"
"Uh, not just now, hon, but thanks," Kennedy said, amused. He knew Yelena was trying to help him, in her own inimitable and somewhat obtuse way. "But I would like it if you came back to bed. That would really put me in a good mood for work," he winked.
"Okay," she agreed, "I just take shower, and I be right in."
"You know, Kenny, I just trying to do what's best for you," Yelena said as, freshly showered and back in her nightgown, she got into bed. "Sometimes I think you don't see 'big picture'."
"Well, the only picture I want to see at this moment is your lovely face," he said, and held her close.
The kids woke up to find more snow falling. "Hey, maybe we won't have to go to school today!" Yuri hoped.
"Don't say that!" urged Yulia. "I don't want to miss my first day at the good school. I bet it will be really fun, and that the other kids will be really nice."
"I hope the teachers aren't as ugly," said Yuri. "That awful Mrs. Crumplebottom?"
"I know," giggled Yulia. "She reminds me of that old nanny we used to have!"
It was not a snow day, so the kids headed off to school, with Yuri still mystified over his sister's excitement at getting to wear a uniform.
Yelena gave Kennedy a pep talk before he left for work. "You go get 'em, kiddo!"
Kennedy appreciated her efforts. "Thanks, hon. Remember the contractors are coming today--if the snow ever lets up--to finish the new addition."
Yelena spent her day off exercising rigorously.
She kept the fireplace going. The family room was drafty today because the contractors kept opening the door to the addition.
The twins' birthday was coming up and, having been asked what he wanted, Yuri had answered "A room of my own." Yulia, though she didn't mind sharing a room with her twin, thought it would be nice to have her own room, too. ("Oooh, I hope it's pink!" she said to herself.)
By the time the children came home from school, the weather had warmed slightly, and the evil snowman had started to melt.
Kennedy got what he had hoped for--he'd achieved his lifetime want of being at the top of the architecture career.
He hurried to the back of the house to check on the new addition.
Instead of building a new room for Yuri, Kennedy had decided to build a new room for his daughter, and let Yuri have the kids' old room to himself. Kennedy, devoted to his "princess", had created a fanciful tower for her.
Yulia entered her new suite through a delicate pink bathroom (she had always loved her parents' lilac bathroom), walked through a room with rose wallpaper and an antique desk, and climbed a spiral staircase, wondering what was upstairs.
She was delighted to find a pink four-poster bed,
and promptly climbed in, gazing out over the snowy yard through a two-story window. "Thanks, Daddy," she thought as she slipped into sleep.
Yuri matured into a teenager better than he had matured into a child, and his friends Brittany Parker, Chloe Gonzaga, and Marsha Breunig grew up with him.
When she awoke from her nap, Yulia matured into a teenager gracefully. "You look just like your mother, miss," said Berjes, wiping a tear from his eye.
Yulia loved the way her mother looked, but Yelena was pretty hard to compete with, so Yulia thought it was time to develop her own look.
She had inherited her mother's nose, and thought that wearing her hair down would make her look more exotic.
Yuri looked much the same as he had as a child.
Yulia got her homework out of the way early on Tuesday, so that she could work on a painting. Yulia and her brother were both very interested in art. Yuri was the better painter (all creativity seemed to come easily to him), but Yulia spent more time at it.
Yulia painted while her father doggedly worked out on the treadmill (though he fell frequently).
Yuri got his oft-repeated wish on Wednesday--school was canceled because of snow.
"Yippee!" he shouted, and started planning what to do on his day off. Maybe he would call up Tosha or one of his other friends and go downtown. (Of course, he'd have to ask his father for money, because the kids didn't get an allowance.)
"Don't get any big ideas, kiddo," Yelena said as she headed out to work for the day. "You father got plans for you and sister."
The "plans" turned out to be working in the family's new art gallery. Yelena and Kennedy, trying to figure out how to get their teenagers interested in making money, had hit upon the idea of selling art. "They can sell their own paintings if they want," said Kennedy, "or we can just buy pieces wholesale and they can resell them."
"Yah, and don't forget I still got boatloads of crappy Edgar Velveete paintings and native art to unload," Yelena reminded him.
Kennedy knew that Yelena's bad investment all those years ago still bothered her--the paintings and dreamcatchers had never appreciated in value. Yelena's plan was to set a high price, anyway, and Dazzle customers into buying them. Kennedy dutifully hauled the stuff out of storage and hung it in the small building they had put up next to the home venue.
Yelena was the only one in the family with a gold sales badge, and Kennedy and the kids needed to earn theirs. Yelena was adamant that Kennedy not start the kids off selling low-priced merchandise. "Pah--monkey can sell low-price stuff!" she had scoffed.
So, Kennedy priced all the art at S999, and he and the kids started working on sales.
Kennedy, who had a lot of charisma, acquired sales badges easily. The kids had a much tougher time.
By the time Yelena came home from work, none of the three had sold anything. Kennedy tried to convince his wife to take a different approach. "How about we let them each sell one thing at a discount, just to get their confidence up?"
Yelena sighed. "You no help kids by babying them. Success at fake achievement is fake success." (Kennedy wondered what best-selling business book this nugget came from.) "I show them how it's done--will be inspirational. You'll see."
Yelena had a Dazzle sale in about a minute.
Yulia kept plugging away (in fact, she had been trying to sell the same painting to Joe Graham for hours), and finally got her bronze sales badge.
As a reward, her parents let her close and reopen the home venue so that she could get her own business perks.
Heading out to school on Wednesday, Yulia--though she liked her classes--couldn't wait to get home and resume work at the gallery.
Yelena and Kennedy both had to work Wednesday,
but, even though there was no one to work the reopened home venue, it made money even while the whole family was away (because of the poker table).
Home from school, Yulia quickly changed her clothes and got back to working on her sales skills. She soon earned her silver sales badge (though she still hadn't sold one painting).
Her venue soon reached Rank 1.
The family's stock portfolio continued to do well,
and Kennedy earned his gold sales badge.
Yelena came home from work and made another sale, just to be a role model for her kids,
and the venue reached Rank 2.
Yuri, tired of selling, preferred working the cash register. "At least this way I get to handle money," he grumbled.
He also got to schmooze customers while he rang them up, and this part Yuri enjoyed.
Late that night before bed, Yulia made sure to restock the inventory.
"That kid work hard," Yelena said approvingly of her daughter. "Yuri, not so much." The parents agreed that Yuri's focus seemed more to be on meeting people (especially girls) and less on selling.
"Still, he's spending a lot of time at the gallery, and he has gotten his friends to come in, and you and I have been able to sell to them," Kennedy pointed out.
Yelena considered this. "We should give them some kind of reward. Motivate them to work even harder."
"Well, it's been such a cold, long winter that I bet they'd like it if we went on vacation somewhere warm," Kennedy suggested.
"Okay," declared Yelena. "You tell them, if one of them manage to get gold sales badge this week, we get away for few days."
The kids had spent so much time at the gallery that they had to do their homework Thursday morning before school.
Kennedy, looking forward to a tropical vacation, wanted to get into good enough shape to wear a swimsuit without embarrassing his wife.
It was Kennedy's day off, so he used his new Dazzle skills and worked the gallery while the kids were at school. He would sell a painting, then ring up the sale himself, then restock, then move on to the next customer.
Yulia came home in a great mood and found that her father had gotten the venue up to Rank 3.
She and her brother immediately resumed their duties. Yuri finally got his bronze sales badge,
and the venue reached Rank 4.
The gallery sales added to the family's available cash ("Remember, kids," Kennedy admonished, "Vacations cost money"),
and Yulia achieved her gold sales badge.
"Yippee!" Yuri cried. "Vacation!!"
"No thanks to you," Yulia teased. Egged on by his sister, Yuri earned his silver sales badge (mostly by flirting with Brittany Parker, who he thought was very cute).
Yulia happily rang up her very first sale.
The kids again worked late into the night, and got up early to do their homework before school on Friday.
Though it was technically spring, snow started falling as Yulia and Yuri came home from school.
"This winter has been just unbelievable," Yulia said to Yuri as the twins ate the sandwiches the butler had prepared for them.
"I can't wait to get away," sulked Yuri. "This pressure to sell-sell-sell is really getting to me. There must be better ways to make money than selling crappy art."
"Well, I suppose you could sell good art," his sister teased. "Like some of your own paintings."
"No, I mean why not just live off investments?" He looked at Yulia. "Do you have any idea how much money this family makes a day just off investments??"
"No...," said Yulia, slowly. "But I'm sure once you've amassed your nest egg the way Mother and Daddy have amassed their nest egg, you'll be able to sit on a beach somewhere, surrounded by pretty girls, and just let the money roll in."
"Don't knock it if you haven't tried it, little girl," Yuri said, condescendingly.
"I like to work hard," Yulia insisted. "I like to do things, not just sit around."
Yuri thought his twin was a very weird combination of their mother and father.
Kennedy had said that, if the kids got their homework out of the way Friday afternoon, the family could leave for vacation that night,
and, true to his word, Kennedy called the airport shuttle as soon as he woke up from a short nap later that evening.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week for the big "Island Vacation"!