The next day, Meadow dialed the Londons' number.
Calista answered the phone, and was delighted to hear Meadow's voice. "Hello, love!" she said. "What can I do for you?"
"Well," Meadow said, "what are you doing next Monday morning? I mean, I know you probably have to spend at least part of the day at London Motors but, if possible, I'd like to bring Ophelia over to play with Christoper, at least for a little while."
She continued, "Monday will be Marcus's first day of school, and Ophelia's a bit upset about the prospect of losing her big brother's company for several hours a day. I think it would be good if she had something to look forward to on Monday, too."
"That's a wonderful idea, Meadow!" Calista agreed. "Besides, Randy and I never open the dealership on Mondays--Randy says it's too slow of a sales day--so he just goes to his regular job as business manager for Kennedy's architectural office. And Granddad and Nanny will be at the new business they just started. But I don't work on Mondays, so I'll be home all day."
"So, Christopher and I will see you then--come over any time!"
Calista had attended University with the "Gang"--nine friends who'd grown up together: wealthy twin siblings Yuri Cox Andropov and Yulia Cox Andropova, childhood friends George McCarthy and Tosha Go (now married, and with an infant daughter, Tara), childhood best friends Brittany Parker and Alvin Futa (now living together), Chloe Gonzaga (now married to Kevin Beare, and with an infant son, Charlie), Meadow Thayer (now married to Orlando Centowski, and with a son, Marcus, and an adopted daughter, Ophelia), and Calista's husband, Randy London.
Calista had been born in England to bohemian, unmarried parents, and had spent her life traveling all over the globe, amassing an odd collection of art, furniture, and weird clothing.
An indifferent student--though a gifted musician--and without any money, she had lucked into a scholarship to University that, unbeknownst to her, had been quietly funded by the twins' parents, Kennedy Cox and Yelena Andropova, out of gratitude for the many years of service that Calista's grandfather, Berjes Gothier, had given as the family's butler.
During University, Calista had often played bass for Yuri,
and it was at the opening of his art gallery that Yuri had introduced Calista to Randy London.
Even as a child, Randy had been extremely disciplined, hard-working, and focused on money. He was also, by nature, straightlaced and conservative. But, to the surprise of everyone in the Gang, Randy and Calista started dating, fell in love, and got married (in a somewhat unusual ceremony) shortly after graduation.
Calista--who was already pregnant at the time of her own wedding--gave birth to a son, Christopher, during George and Tosha's wedding reception.
Christopher, now a toddler, was cared for during the day by Calista's grandfather, Berjes (who had since moved in with the young family),
while Calista and Randy ran their high-end automobile dealership, London Motors.
But Calista's aesthetic had prevailed in the family's choice of their residence--a former firearms factory located across the street from the dealership,
and Calista had decorated the space in her own inimitable style.
Their home was huge, which was a good thing, because Calista's grandfather had gotten married a couple of months previously,
and his new wife--Kendal, the former nanny of Meadow's children--had just moved in.
Berjes and Kendal had returned from their island honeymoon with the surprising news that they wanted to start a clothing store.
"It would be a fine family project, don't you think?" Berjes asked eagerly. "Randy, you could give us business advice--"
"And," Kendal interrupted, "you, Calista, could help me stock clothing that young people would like--I am confident I know what ladies my age want to wear, but I'm less sure of 'youth styles', shall we say."
"Well, that sure sounds like a nifty idea," Randy agreed enthusiastically. "Let's start working on this today!" He turned to his wife. "Honey, maybe you and Nanny can go out and try to find some appropriate real estate, while your grandfather and I sit down and come up with a business plan."
"Great idea!" agreed Calista. "I'll call Rebecka right away and see if she can set up some appointments for us."
That night, Randy and Calista discussed the new project as they were getting ready for bed. "So, how did you and Nanny do today--was Rebecka able to find a suitable space for the dress shop?"
"Yes!" answered Calista. "Rebecka's just a wonder--she must know every piece of real estate in town. We saw several places, and there's a tiny building right next to Yuri's gallery that seems about right."
"Is it finished space?" asked Randy.
"No, it would have to be decorated from scratch," Calista responded.
She went on. "Nanny was telling me what she has in mind for decor--white beadboard wainscoting, big lavender floral wallpaper, hardwood floors, lamps, rugs, plush sofas, etc. It all sounds sort of congested and fussy to me, but I guess this is Nanny's dream. Anyway, I certainly have enough extra rugs and stuff for her to furnish her place, and a sofa. Oh, and I think I might actually have an antique cash register in storage that she might like."
"Cute idea," Randy said, idly leafing through one of his old business textbooks as he waited for his wife to come to bed. "I would normally prefer a computerized cash register for a business but, since Berjes mentioned to me that he plans on being their cashier, I think he might do better with an old-fashioned model."
"I think this is all so cool," Calista said, plumping up her pillow. "Imagine--two people their age taking on a big project like this! I suppose it doesn't matter if it's a financial success, right--this is just something to keep the two of them busy?"
"Oh, no," Randy corrected her. "Berjes made it clear to me this afternoon that Nanny's focus is on making money."
"That seems odd," Calista mused. "I mean, I know I don't pay much attention to our finances, but we've got plenty of money, right?"
(Calista, though she was by nature a talented salesperson, paid absolutely no attention to the bottom line of London Motors, preferring to leave such details to her husband, who was intrigued by them. Calista did really enjoy selling cars, however, because it meant that she got to spend her whole day talking to people.)
"Yes," Randy laughed, "we've got plenty of money--"
"--and if you're going to suggest that we could fund this entire project ourselves, you'd be right. But that's not how Berjes says Nanny wants to handle things--she's determined to make this a profitable, free-standing business. She's seems very interested in the money angle."
"Why on earth would Nanny care about money?" Calista mused.
"Perhaps it's just that Nanny's been poor all her life, and that she's had to work very hard. And now that she lives with us, maybe she feels a little uncomfortable about how easy her life is--maybe she just wants to 'pull her weight' in the household. Even though you and I don't feel that's necessary."
"I guess that could be it," Calista replied. "Anyway, it was kind of funny seeing her turn into a 'mini Rebecka' today."
"Well, you know I've always been a huge fan of Rebecka," Randy reminded his wife. "I've been sure since she and I met in Econ 101 at Uni that she was destined for business greatness. So, if Nanny in her new venture wants to follow in Rebecka's footsteps, I think that's a good thing."
"I think some of the Gang were surprised that you didn't end up with Rebecka," Calista teased.
"Marrying Rebecka would be like marrying myself," Randy said. "You, sweetheart--on the other hand--keep me normal."
Randy and Calista helped Berjes and Kendal buy a small building for their new business.
A decorator from Kennedy's firm had done the interior, which--as Calista had predicted--looked sort of fussy, but Kendal loved it and thought it very elegant.
Kendal took Randy's advice and set her prices to "Ridiculously Cheap," though she had gone back and forth on this issue several times.
Still, she trusted Randy's opinion that cheap prices would lead to easily satisfied clients, which would lead to business stars, which would lead to cash grants.
Kendal was a naturally engaging person, and worked hard to befriend all her potential customers.
Berjes greeted those visitors that he knew,
but otherwise he contented himself with running the cash register (though the customers thought he was a bit slow at this).
By late morning on opening day, Kendal had made her first sale and the shop had reached Rank 1,
and Kendal took her first cash grant, of $1,000.
By mid-afternoon, Kendal had gotten her bronze sales badge,
and by early evening the venue had reached Rank 2,
and Kendal took her second cash grant, of $2,500.
Just before closing, Yulia Andropova stopped in on her way home from work. "Miss Yulia!" Berjes cried. "How very thoughtful of you, child, to stop by for our grand opening!!"
"Not at all, Berjes," Yulia replied. "I need help finding a gift for my goddaughter's birthday this weekend." Kendal, running the cash register, offered to help Yulia in a few minutes.
Waiting for Kendal, Yulia thought, 'What a cute place!' She had always been immensely fond of Berjes, who--since he'd been hired by the family before she had been born--had helped her parents raise her and her brother, and she was thrilled that he had found true love late in life. And she was intrigued that he and his new wife should start a business late in life. 'I should get a reviewer to come over here,' she thought. 'Maybe it would help their bottom line.'
Back at home that night, Berjes toasted his wife on the occasion of the grand opening. "To my lovely bride!" he exclaimed.
"To us both!" Kendal replied. "I could not have done this without you, my dear husband."
"But the initial inspiration was yours, dearest," Berjes protested.
"Sounds like your first day went pretty well," Randy said as he sat down to join them for dinner. "So, tell me all about it!"
"Well, we haven't yet figured out our revenues and expenses for the day--we brought home the receipts for you to review--but we had quite a few sales, and we got to Rank 2 before we closed up, and we got $3,500 in cash grants today!" Kendal exulted.
"That's fantastic!" Randy exulted. "Congratulations to you both!!"
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next time, when we catch up with Yulia--her burgeoning medical career, her beach venue, and her romance with Derek.
Custom content credits for the current post can be found here: