Yulia stopped by Tosha and George's house after work to see Tara.
"Oh, she's just precious!" Yulia cried.
"Yup, she's a peach," Tosha agreed.
Tosha leaned in and made faces at the baby. "Aren't you mommy's little peach? Aren't you??"
Tara laughed and cooed.
"She clearly thinks her mommy's a nut," said Tosha.
Tosha took the baby and placed her gently on the toy blanket.
"She's so easygoing," Tosha reported. "She'll play with this for hours and just fall asleep right here."
The friends went downstairs, where George had prepared dinner. "So," asked Yulia, "have the police caught the burglar yet?"
"No," said Tosha. "That jerk was just lucky I was busy giving birth, or I'd have shot him."
Yulia thought this was a bit severe of a reaction,
but, since she was neither a mother, nor a victim of a home invasion, nor a licensed gun owner like Tosha, she decided it wasn't really her place to say anything.
George piped up, "And once Tosha's police job starts, she'll have plenty of other criminals to shoot at."
"Very funny, Mr. Sarcastic," Tosha glared at her husband.
George changed the subject. "So, Doctor Andropova, we hear your career is going swimmingly," he said to Yulia.
"Well, with Derek at his summer program in Germany, I don't feel guilty spending a lot of time at work," she explained.
Yulia had been promoted several times since the summer began:
and she had spent most of her free time at her beach venue. Her money-making approach was to dazzle a couple of potential clients,
and, once they'd paid to enter the venue, to notice if one of them was still standing around outside and not interacting with other customers. If so, Yulia would sit down at a poker table,
call the customer over,
see if there was another customer by himself,
call that person over,
and get those two customers talking to each other, while Yulia kept a close watch on the ticket machine for other potential customers.
She would excuse herself to go dazzle the person at the ticket machine,
and, while the new customer was paying, sit back down at the poker table,
and call the new customer over.
'Rinse and repeat,' she said to herself. She was usually able to get both poker tables full of customers,
and to keep them there for a while, till they got tired or hungry and had to go home.
She made a decent amount of money in the stock market,
and got her venue to Rank 7 and took another Motivation perk,
on her way to achieving the "Rally Forth!" perk that her mother had told her was so useful in business.
Whenever both poker tables were full, Yulia relaxed in the hot springs with other customers,
or sat by herself and watched the waves.
'I do miss Derek,' she admitted to herself one night. 'But it will all be worth it if I can be financially secure by the time he graduates from college. Then we'll be able to live on the beach in a beautiful house while he's building his career, and maybe I could take a little time off to give my father the grandchild he wants so desperately.'
"Of course," she added aloud, "providing that that timetable is okay with Derek."
Her cellphone rang.
"Derek!" she exclaimed with glee.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week, as both Christopher and Tara are baptized, Meadow works hard on her farmstand business, and she and Orlando move their young family into the farmhouse.
Yulia's score in her Million Dollar Challenge is 30 (3 promotions x 10 points).
Calista and Randy were each promoted again:
so Randy's score in his Million Dollar Challenge is now 100 (4 promotions for him plus 6 promotions for Calista, times 10 points).
Tosha and George were each promoted as well:
so George's score in the Million Dollar Challenge is 150 (8 promotions for him plus 7 promotions for Tosha, times 10 points).