On Monday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, Alvin came upon Brittany perched on one of their sofas, engrossed in a science book.
"Hey, Brit--I'm thinking of going swimming or something. Maybe hang out with some of our friends--do you want to join me?" he asked.
"Ummm, no," Brittany answered, without looking up. "I want to finish this book before going back to work tomorrow. It might really help me with the research proposal I'm about to submit."
So, Alvin changed into his swim trunks and headed to the pool by himself. It was a hot late-summer day, and a few of his neighbors were already there, including Kevin--who was in the pool,
and Chloe--who was just about to do a cannonball. "Banzai!!!" she cried,
and hit the water. "Good one, babe!" Kevin complimented his wife, enthusiastically, when she surfaced.
"You're awesome, Chloe!" Alvin agreed.
"Is Brit coming in?" Chloe asked Alvin.
"Nah, she can't," Alvin answered. "She's reading up on some scientific theory--she's really gunning for a promotion into the research department."
"Wouldn't that mean she'd be working weekends?" asked Kevin. "And you--being a schoolteacher--you don't work weekends, right?"
"Yes, but Brit says those are sacrifices we have to make," Alvin said, still sounding cheerful. "It's not like it will be forever--in the top jobs in Science they don't work weekends--and Brit will certainly eventually get one of those jobs. So, I'll just look forward to that."
Alvin's friends had always admired his upbeat attitude.
After a short while, Chloe went inside to check on Charlie,
before getting ready for her job as a prep cook at a downtown restaurant.
She was just about to change for work when the phone rang. It was Rebecka Louie.
"Hi, Rebecka," Chloe said. "Are you calling for Kevin?"
(Though Chloe's husband had a fairly good relationship with Rebecka--to begin with, Rebecka had gotten Kevin a very good deal on Chloe's diamond engagement ring--Chloe and Rebecka had never been close.)
"Actually," said Rebecka, "I'm calling for both of you--I might have found you a house. It's decently priced--it's been on the market for a while, and it hasn't sold I think because the interior is kind of overwhelmingly yellow. But the kitchen's huge, and open," she added enthusiastically.
"Yellow isn't a problem for me," said Chloe, "if the kitchen's right. I don't have to work tomorrow, so how about we see it sometime in the afternoon?"
The two women made plans to meet the following day.
On Chloe's way out to work, she stopped at Yulia's apartment to put some prepared food into her friend's refrigerator.
She was just about to let herself in with the key Yulia had given her when, to Chloe's surprise, Yulia opened the door.
"What are you doing home?" Chloe asked. "I figured you'd be at your beach venue, it being Labor Day weekend, and all."
"My manager, Brittany Wendlund, is running the place today," Yulia responded. "But I am just on my way out," she added happily, "because Derek's coming home from summer school in Germany in about an hour, so I'm meeting him at the airport, and helping him get settled back in at his dorm, and then we're going to dinner."
"Orlando, honey, I'm leaving for Tosha's now--you sure you'll be all right with the kids?" Meadow asked her husband. "I know you wanted to paint this afternoon."
"Of course." Orlando seemed amused. "I'll take Ophelia and some of her toys into the garage with me. And I think Marcus will probably just fish in the pond the whole afternoon."
George, Kevin, and Alvin had helped Orlando install two huge plate-glass windows in the back wall of the Centowskis' garage, so that Orlando would have enough light to paint.
(The couple owned only one motor vehicle--Meadow's pickup truck--so half of the garage (formerly a barn for the old farmhouse) had previously gone unused.)
'I sure married the right guy,' thought Meadow.
Orlando retrieved his toddler daughter, a couple of her toys, and her sleepy blanket, set them all down in the garage, and resumed working on his current painting,
while his son fished in the family's pond,
and while Meadow headed out to Tosha's house (still thinking about how wonderful her husband was).
"Okay, Sugar Plum Fairy, Daddy has to go to rehearsal now," George told Tara. "But I'll be home in time to tuck you in."
He put his daughter down at her activity table.
"Tosh, I'm leaving for work. Have fun with your girlfriends--I'll be home just after 9:00."
Downtown, Calista asked her husband, "Are you going to be okay with Christopher while I'm at Tosha's? Because Granddad and Nanny are going to be at their clothing business all day."
"What could go wrong?" Randy asked her. "I'll take Chris to the dealership with me for a while, though--since Monday of Labor Day weekend isn't usually all that good for car sales--I'll probably knock off early. I have to drop off some architectural drawings at Kennedy's house later, but you know how he loves little kids, so that shouldn't be a problem--I can just bring Chris with me."
So, Calista kissed Randy, went out in front of their building, and teleported herself to Tosha's house.
She got there at the same time as Meadow. "Wow, you really know how to make an entrance!" Meadow laughed.
Tosha invited her friends in to sample an appetizer plate she'd just learned to make. "This is pretty good, Tosha," Meadow asked. "Where'd you get the recipe?"
"From Chloe," Tosha answered. "I must call her about a dozen times a day--I have to learn to cook. George has given me ample warning that we'll be expected to give a fundraiser/cocktail reception for his ballet company around Christmastime, but I've at least got a few months to practice."
After they ate, the friends gave Tosha their presents for Tara.
"It's an outfit I got in Paris when Randy and I went there for the 'late honeymoon' we took after Christopher was born," Calista said. "It's similar to the outfit I gave Ophelia."
"And I made this for Tara," Meadow explained.
"It's a winter coat, for when it gets colder."
"You're both so sweet!" cried Tosha. "Though I honestly can't promise I can convince Tara to wear anything but her pink ballerina dress, most days. She's just crazy about it--George thinks we have a budding dancer in her."
Yulia had met Derek at the airport, and was helping him move back into the same University dorm he'd lived in for the preceding 3 years. She was surprised to find out that--with 1st pick of rooms (as a senior)--Derek had nonetheless chosen the room nearest the front door on the ground floor.
"Don't you think there might be too much noise here for you to concentrate on your studies?" she inquired, concerned.
"Oh, hon'," Derek answered, "I'll rarely even be here. I'll be in class, or in the lab, or at the library. Come on--give me a minute to change clothes, and let's go to dinner."
Across town, Randy and Christopher arrived at the Cox-Andropova house to deliver some architectural drawings that Kennedy needed to review. Randy knew that his boss usually worked out late in the day, so he and Christopher went around to the back door.
"Hey, son!" Kennedy greeted Randy enthusiastically. "And look who you've brought with you!" Kennedy immediately got off the treadmill and took Christopher from Randy's arms.
"What a fine little boy you are, Christopher!" Kennedy remarked. "Good job, Randy!"
"Thank you, sir." Randy was thrilled at the compliment. Since he had been a child, and had made friends with Yuri and Yulia in private school, Randy had idolized the twins' parents. He looked around the room. "Is Mrs. Cox-Andropova home, by any chance?" he asked hopefully.
Kennedy smiled to himself as he set the boy down on the floor. Kennedy knew that Randy had had a mad crush on Yelena since Randy had been a young teenager.
"Sorry, son--she's out at Berjes and Nanny Kendal's dress shop."
At her new business, Kendal had been delighted to ring up a sale that afternoon for Father Powers.
"Why, Father, how lovely to see you here!" she exclaimed.
"Well, Nanny, I have a christening coming up next week," he told her, "and I always like to get my newest parishioners a small gift, and you and Berjes have such a charming selection here. And your prices are certainly well within my means."
Kendal and her husband were making fine progress with their new venue--Berjes had gotten his bronze sales badge,
Kendal had gotten her bronze register badge,
and the store had reached Rank 3, allowing Kendal to take a $10,000 cash award.
Berjes paid particular attention to the older customers, whom Kendal thought were underserved in many other stores.
That afternoon, two of the most stylish women in Pleasantview were patronizing the shop: Yelena Andropova,
and Rebecka Louie, who hurried over to greet Yelena. "Hello, Ms. Andropova! How are you, ma'am?"
"Oh, if it isn't Pleasantview's newest covergirl!" Yelena teased.
(Rebecka was suprised--but thrilled--that Yelena had hugged her.)
"Oh, the reaction to the Realty Today magazine has been a little embarrassing, I have to say," Rebecka admitted.
"All of a sudden, fully half the phone calls to my office don't involve real estate in any way."
Yelena smiled. "Even so, was verrry smart thing for you to do. Trust me--is possible to be local celebrity and still have good home life."
"And," Yelena added sternly, "You should never be so busy that you and Yuri don' visit Kenny and me! How 'bout you two come for dinner sometime soon?"
Rebecka was momentarily taken aback by this comment.
'Well, that's interesting,' Rebecka thought. 'Yuri obviously hasn't told his mother we're not a couple these days.'
"I'll mention it to Yuri, ma'am," Rebecka assured Yelena, while thinking privately that it was Yuri's problem how to handle the issue.
"Now, excuse me, cookie, but I have to go home to husband!" Yelena said.
On her way out, Yelena looked around for Kendal, to say goodbye and to wish her good luck with the shop. But the elderly woman wasn't at the register.
Yelena spied Kendal peering out one of the store's front windows.
It seemed to Yelena that Kendal looked worried,
so she went over to ask if anything was wrong.
Kendal whirled around, startled.
"Oh, no, ma'am," she stammered. "Everything's fine. Just fine," though even to herself she didn't sound convincing.
Kendal could tell that Yelena wanted more of an explanation. "I--I--just thought I saw someone I knew. Outside. But, I'm just sure my eyes were playing tricks on me...." Her voice trailed off.
Derek took Yulia out to dinner at Londoste, where they'd had their first date almost 3 years before.
Yulia--though she had spoken to Derek via cellphone several times a week all through the summer--talked almost nonstop during dinner about her medical career, her beach venue, her brother's relationship (or lack thereof) with Rebecka, her parents, etc.
Derek listened attentively with his usual good manners,
and Yulia eventually realized that she was monopolizing the conversation. "Oh, Derek, I'm so sorry--you've finished your dinner and I've barely touched mine, which means of course that I'm rattling on and on and on!"
"But I love to listen to you rattle 'on and on and on', honey," he laughed.
"But, I do feel the need to say at least one thing," he interjected, seriously.
He placed a black velvet box on the table.
She opened the box,
and took out a diamond ring.
She put it on,
and happily accepted Derek's proposal.
The young couple leapt out of their chairs and kissed. Everyone else in Londoste applauded.
A few blocks away, Yuri was running his venue, Qube. The business had finally reached Rank 6 during the holiday weekend
(though Yuri still had quite a bit of work to catch up to Rebecka Realty's success--in fact, he needed 55 more customer stars to match what his ex-girlfriend had accomplished for her own business for the summer), and he'd chosen his first Connections perk.
(Yuri had built up a lot of perks over the years from helping run first his family's art gallery, then his own.)
Shenene, the venue's DJ, had gotten a good-sized crowd dancing that night,
and Lilly, as usual, had a barful of men vying for her attention.
Late at night, Yuri always turned the lights down, to lure his customers away from the bowling lanes and onto the dance floor, and this presented Lilly with a problem. She still didn't know a lot of drink recipes and, whenever a customer ordered something unusual, she had to look up the recipe in the reference book that Kevin had lent her. Once Yuri dimmed the lights, that meant she had to do this in relative darkness.
"Does this bartender have any idea what she's doing?" Nathan Gavigan, having waited ten minutes so far for the drink he'd ordered, asked Malcolm Landgraab IV, who was sitting next to him.
"Maybe not so much," Malcolm answered, grinning, "but she sure looks pretty doing it."
By midnight, the bar was very crowded, and Lilly needed a break, so Yuri took over bartending duties for the next half hour.
Once he had cleared the thirsty dancing and bowling crowd, he turned his attention to the guys still sitting at the bar.
He served Nathan, and was making another drink for Julien, then asked, "What can I get you, Malcolm?", gritting his teeth. Yuri had long resented Malcolm Landgraab IV, who was the sole surviving member of a very old and wealthy local family that had always looked down upon the Cox-Andropovas as "new money".
Malcolm, for his part, seemed to enjoy needling Yuri. "I'm good--two's my limit. But how about a date with your pretty blonde bartender?" he asked, smiling almost imperceptibly.
"I'm not in charge of that--sorry," Yuri retorted, peeved, and turned his back on Malcolm.
"Fair enough," Malcolm responded. "And I guess I can do that for myself, anyway." He got up to play pool with his friends Matthew and Linda.
Yuri, irritated, moved on to the next customer at the bar, a guy in a striped short-sleeved polo shirt that Yuri thought looked like designer wear, and therefore expensive.
"Hi," Yuri greeted the customer, "this is my place. I've seen you here a couple of times, so, welcome to the neighborhood." Yuri had noticed that this new guy seemed to be hanging around Lilly. Yuri didn't much care for that, so he had resolved to learn something about the guy. "I'm Yuri Andropov--what's your name? And what'll you have?"
The man regarded Yuri for a moment. He had previously determined that the time was right to reveal something about himself to the neighborhood, and that Yuri would be a useful vehicle for this information, and the man had just been waiting for the appropriate opportunity.
"My name's 'Damian'," the man responded. "Nice to meet you, Yuri. And I'll have a 'Dead Bastard'--know how to make it?"
"Sure thing," Yuri responded, and he set about preparing the complicated drink.
With his next question, Yuri tried to sound casual. "You got a last name, Damian?"
"Just 'Damian'," the customer responded, evenly.
"Well, 'Damian Just-Damian'," said Yuri, regarding the man closely and presenting him with his drink, "here's your 'Dead Bastard'. Enjoy."
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next time, for Marcus's first day of school, his younger sister Ophelia's unhappiness with Marcus's sudden absence, Meadow's attempt to deal with Ophelia's unhappiness, and the house that Rebecka has found for Chloe, Kevin, and Charlie.