On her way to Yuri's gallery the next morning, Yulia stopped by Meadow's house to check on her. She knocked softly, in case Meadow was sleeping, but Meadow answered the door.
Yulia thought Meadow looked as big as a house.
"Oh my God, Meadow!" Yulia cried. "Are you pregnant?"
Meadow looked very calm. "Orlando and I are expecting a baby, if that's what you're asking," she said.
"Did you plan this?" asked Yulia, unbelieving.
"No, but Orlando and I--according to our religion--don't believe in birth control. Except for abstinence, that is," she laughed, "which we're not good at all the time. So, if God has sent us this child, that's His will. You should be happy for me," Meadow emphasized.
"I am, Meadow--I am," Yulia assured her, and hugged her.
Yulia proceeded to her brother's gallery. "We've got to sell some paintings and clear space in this gallery--Meadow and Orlando are expecting, and we need to sell some of his paintings so he can afford to rent a bigger house."
The siblings' plan was that Yuri would entertain the customers by playing piano,
while Yulia sold art and manned the cash register,
and took care of restocking.
For a few days, Yulia sold almost non-stop,
and eventually managed to get top dollar for Yuri's paintings.
The reviews of Yuri's opening had helped sales: "A stunning series of paintings, seemingly of several different women, but reportedly all of the same mysterious model"; "Enigmatic, edgy, varied paintings by a new and genuine talent"; "The show was helped--though no help was needed--by a truly imaginative signature cocktail created by local caterer Chloe Gonzaga (she of 'Catering by Chloe') ... the 'Golden Opal' is at the pinnacle of modern mixology."
For three days of selling, the gallery had earned quite a bit of money:
"Okay, bro, I'm off to Alaska with Derek," Yulia said to her brother.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," he teased.
"I'd like to hear your short list sometime," Yulia replied sarcastically.
Yulia had booked rooms at the Sky Vista Hotel.
It was usually so cold in this part of Alaska, even in the summer, that both the pool and the hot springs were indoors. Yulia checked in while Derek headed for the pool.
"This is amazing!" said Derek. "Have you ever seen a pool with log cabin walls? How on earth do they keep them from leaking?"
"I don't know--I'll have to remember to ask Daddy."
"You're so cute," Derek said. "You said 'Daddy'."
"Well, he's an architect," Yulia replied, somewhat defensively.
"You have no idea how completely adorable you are," said Derek, laughing.
They spent some time in the hot springs,
before Yulia told Derek she wanted to visit Bigfoot in his burrow.
"Okaaaay," said Derek, unsure. "I'm just going to decide this is part of your peculiar charm."
Yulia had realized, after her first visit to Bigfoot, that what she needed to do to gain his friendship was to do the slapdance--which she had perfected through dancing with George--with him.
'This is the weirdest date I've ever been on,' Derek said to himself. 'But Yulia's worth it.'
The next day, Yulia challenged Derek to a log-rolling competition. "You can't be serious," Derek told her. "There's no way you're going to beat me. And, I can't believe you're in a bathing suit when there's snow on the ground."
"Oh, come one!" Yulia scoffed. "It's nearly 55 degrees outside today and--once you start exerting yourself--you'll warm up really quickly."
Derek changed into his swimsuit, got on the log with Yulia, and promptly took a header into the icy water.
"Hah!" cried Yulia. "I thought you claimed there was no way I was going to beat you!!"
"That didn't count!" Derek complained, laughing and spitting out water. "I didn't even have a chance to get my balance."
"Okay," Yulia replied sweetly, "I'll try really hard to steady the log for you next time--till you feel comfortable." She giggled.
Derek laughed and got on the log again,
and after about half a minute fell backwards, dunked again.
"Yesss!" Yulia yelled in triumph.
"Okay," sputtered Derek. "You won fair and square--sort of."
Laughing themselves silly, Yulia and Derek went into their respective restrooms to change into dry clothes.
Derek picked her up in his arms. "You're amazing," he said. "And I will love you forever."
Yulia was speechless.
Later, after dinner, Yulia said goodnight to Derek in his hotel room. "Thanks for understanding, Derek," Yulia said as she embraced him.
"I want what you want, love," he replied. "And, besides, we have the rest of our lives to be together."
And with that, Yulia retired to her own hotel room.
Meanwhile, Calista was devoting the first week of her summer vacation to gaining the friendship of the White Witch. One afternoon, Calista asked to be taught the path of light.
As she transformed, Calista felt elation, and was sure this was her destiny.
Saturday evening, Calista went on a date with Randy London to Bernard's Botanical Garden.
Randy made a great show of knowing the maitre d' well, which somewhat amused Calista.
While Calista perused the menu, Randy quizzed the waiter extensively about the day's specials.
Once they'd ordered, he slid his hand across the table, and Calista obligingly placed her hand on his.
They conversed animatedly all through dinner. Calista talked to Randy about music, pottery, foreign cuisine, and her avid interest in the occult (without mentioning that she had recently become a witch, if a very junior one),
and Randy told Calista about his economics classes, his custom automobile business, his views on international trade, and his plans for the future.
"You're so ambitious!" Calista marveled. "But is financial success all you want?"
Randy was taken aback. "Of course not," he said. "I also want to be happy with a wonderful and intriguing lady for the rest of my life, and maybe to raise a happy little kid or two." He paused. "To lifelong happiness!" he toasted.
"To lifelong happiness!" Calista readily agreed, smiling.
At the end of the evening, Randy again kissed her hand.
"You are the most fascinating girl I've ever met," said Randy. "May I please see you again?"
Thanks in part to the notoriety of the "Golden Opal" cocktail, Chloe had acquired a full slate of catering events for the summer. Kevin assisted her in all of them, and they spent their off evenings in the hot tub at Kevin's fraternity house.
And Chloe--who had for several years refused to appear in public in any swimsuit, much less a very small one--knew that Brittany was right: that Chloe had found a guy who loved her without qualification.
"So," Kevin asked Randy as they were playing chess one summer evening, "How're your dates going with Calista?"
"She's a nifty lady," Randy answered, grinning. "I don't think she takes me at all seriously, but as far as I'm concerned, she and I could really build a life together."
Over the past two years, Kevin had come to know his frat brother well. He liked Randy tremendously, but also thought he was the most conventional, conservative, and by-the-book guy imaginable. Kevin also knew and liked Calista very much, and considered her a 'lovable whackjob', as he had said to Chloe. 'I don't know about these two as a couple, though,' he said to himself.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week for "Summer Vacation, pt. 2", where we see Rebecka's decorating of the Cox-Andropovas' island house, we catch up with George and Tosha, and Yuri and Yulia endeavor to sell Orlando's paintings so that he can afford a bigger house for his growing family.