On his way out of the apartment building that morning, Yuri knocked softly on Rebecka's door, but there was no answer. He figured she was either sleeping or had already left for Rebecka Realty.
At the arcade/electronics store, he bought a new cellphone,
and to his delight ran into Lilly Thompson, whom he hadn't seen since graduation.
"Hey, how's the prettiest girl on campus?" he kidded her.
"Um, we're not in school anymore, Yuri," Lilly answered, blushing.
"Whatever," Yuri replied, brightly. "Wanna play some pinball? Ladies first!"
After Lilly had lost all of her balls in quick succession, Yuri remarked, "Wow, you suck at this."
"I know," Lilly giggled, in her soft, breathy voice. Yuri could barely hear her above the din of the arcade games. "I'm such a girl," she said, apologetically.
'That's what I like about you,' Yuri said to himself. "Let me show you how it's done," he boasted loudly.
Once Yuri had beaten the machine's high score, he and Lilly moved to the sofas in front of the TV, and caught up with the details of each other's lives.
"So," Lilly asked, "How's Rebecka?" Lilly had noticed that Yuri had not mentioned his girlfriend during the hour she'd so far spent with him.
"She's doing great!" Yuri said, then immediately worried that he'd sounded too enthusiastic.
"She started her own realty company, and she works about 25 hours a day. We live in the same building--in different apartments--and I hardly ever see her."
Lilly considered this. "That must be tough on your relationship," she said, sympathetically.
Yuri was not quite sure how to answer this, since the last thing he wanted was for Lilly to be sensitive to his relationship with Rebecka.
"Oh, we're really not together at this point," he assured her, but he didn't look her in the eye,
so Lilly was left to wonder what "not really together" actually meant.
Yuri went on. "Hey, my sister and I and some of the gang are going bowling later in the week--wanna come?"
"That would be fun; thanks," said Lilly.
Lilly was very shy by nature, and since graduation she'd not made any new friends.
Heading back home to change clothes to go to his job that afternoon, Yuri congratulated himself on coming up with the idea of a bowling excursion. 'Lilly probably would have turned me down for a date with just the two of us,' he surmised. 'Now all I have to do is convince Yulia and some of the gang actually to go bowling.'
After finishing her lunch, Rebecka invited Tosha McCarthy to drop by.
"I thought you weren't going to decorate this half of the apartment," Tosha asked after Rebecka had led her into the back room.
"I hadn't planned to," admitted Rebecka, "but I had to have someplace to put this free TV I got from one of my realty clients."
She continued. "And I prefer this room to the living room, which has no windows."
"You could put the TV in your bedroom, I suppose," suggested Tosha.
"Oh, I have another free TV there," Rebecka laughed. "From another realty client."
"Yes, we once got a free TV from a customer at our Dance/Fitness place," Tosha said. "It's a pretty nice fringe benefit of having your own business."
"Frankly," Rebecka replied, "I'd rather just sell real estate, make lots of money, and buy exactly what I want. But don't tell anyone I said that." She changed the subject. "Have you and George decided how to decorate your nursery?"
"Yes, Tosha replied, "because of the green stone flooring, we decided to decorate it with yellow furnishings. So, we exchanged the pink baby toys Calista got us for yellow ones; she wasn't offended. That way, even if Calista's wrong and we have a boy, he won't be traumatized by a girly color."
"Well, whatever you have," said Rebecka, "the child will certainly be just gorgeous, with you and George as parents."
Tosha was extremely pleased by this compliment, since she was feeling very ungainly these days. "That's so sweet, Rebecka," she said, then asked the question she'd been dying to ask since she'd arrived. "Soooo, what's up with you and Yuri?"
"I don't know," Rebecka answered, sounding a bit sad. "I'd like to get married, and have a baby before my business gets so big that I'm busy all the time. But I sense Yuri's not any closer to a commitment than he was when we were in school."
Tosha considered phrasing her next question carefully, but then--feeling bloated and impatient from her advanced pregnancy--opted just to blunder ahead. "What do you see in Yuri, anyway?" she asked. "Because--the way Rebecka Realty's going--you sure aren't going to need his money."
Rebecka, stunned, stayed silent for a moment.
She knew that Yuri's friends had always suspected that she was interested principally in his money. True, that he was from a wealthy family had been the source of Rebecka's initial attraction to him, but over the last 4 years she had come to see that Yuri (unlike his twin sister, Yulia) would need a bit of a push to achieve the success in life of which Rebecka was sure Yuri was capable.
"Well," Rebecka began, "there's certainly a lot of physical attraction there. But, besides that, I see the potential in him. Yuri could be phenomenally successful in business, but--left to his own devices--I worry he's just going to waste his natural gifts."
"He needs someone to encourage him to greater heights--someone who's really motivated about running a business."
"And I could be just the person who's able to do that," Rebecka announced confidently.
Arriving back at her house, Tosha heard George upstairs in the nursery, so went to check on his progress, since he'd been working on the room all day.
"This looks wonderful, George!" Tosha cried, hugging her husband.
"Yeah, I finished the wallpaper border tonight, and just put all the furniture and the rugs back in," George said, excitedly.
George had had the great idea of putting both a refrigerator and a trash chute upstairs in the baby's room,
so that Tosha would not have to walk all the way downstairs to feed their child or dispose of bottles. He also set up a small TV area just outside the nursery, so that he and Tosha--or a nanny--would be able to relax while remaining close to the baby.
"This was another great idea," Tosha said, as they sat down in front of the TV.
Both Tosha and George went to work the next day, and both got promoted.
Tosha was very tired, so the couple went to bed early.
They were awakened suddenly in the middle of the night when their burglar alarm went off.
Fortunately, the police showed up almost immediately,
but the shock of the break-in sent Tosha into labor.
Officer Kauker raced up the stairs after the intruder,
and George ran out to take on the intruder himself, and to keep him from getting anywhere near Tosha. But Officer Kauker got to the burglar first, tackling him at the top of the stairs.
Meanwhile, in the master bedroom, Tosha gave birth to a daughter,
and George missed the event because of the burglar.
The burglar unfortunately got the best of Officer Kauker, and got away, though he didn't steal anything from the house. George thanked the policeman, ushered his frantic wife into a soothing bubble bath, and carried his newborn daughter into the nursery to get her a bottle.
"I guess Calista was right!" George said to the baby, whom he and Tosha had decided to call Tara (a fine Irish name, like McCarthy).
"I promise it won't always be like this, with people yelling and beating each other up on the stairs." George figured it didn't matter what he said to the baby, as long as he sounded soothing.
He put Tara in her crib. "Now, you go beddy-bye, sweetness, while I go and check on your hysterical mommy."
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week, as Yulia visits George and Tosha to see the new baby and updates them on her career, her beach venue, and her relationship with Derek.
In George's Million Dollar Challenge, his score is now 130 (7 promotions times 10 points for him, plus 6 promotions times 10 points for Tosha).