Trenton sat at the dining room table, papers spread in front of him. He had some tough decisions to make. The children were growing, fast, and were already halfway through grade school. Before he and Tiana knew it, they would have three teenagers on their hands. That meant all kinds of expenses. Since Dad had died, the family was barely scraping by. With the loss of Jett’s help in the restaurant, things were mostly left to Trenton.
Tiana sat down beside him. “You look like you could use a friend,” she said, placing a loving hand on his shoulder. Trenton gazed up at her and smiled, or at least tried to.
“Things just aren’t going as well as I expected. In the beginning, I had all kinds of vision for the Old Alcove. We’ve made some incredible changes. Upgrades. We’ve even been awarded five stars. Yet, despite how much training I invest in the Staff, we’re barely breaking even.”
“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry. I’ll try to help out. I could come manage for you.”
True to her word, Tiana did come the next day. Trenton was struggling. Being a loner with the restaurant so full of people, he was all but climbing the walls in his anxiety. Tiana smiled brightly at him as she came in.
“I’ll take over,” she said. He kissed her cheek. “Why don’t you go to the spa. Loosen up a bit.”
“I’ll see you at home,” he said. Off he went to the spa. At first he had the sauna to himself, which suited him just fine. Before long it was filled to capacity. Trenton began to feel as if he couldn’t breathe. His chest tightened up and he gulped for air. Jumping up he went to the locker room and changed back into his street clothes. He decided to walk home, figuring this would give him the much-needed time alone, he so desperately sought.
By the time he reached the front yard of his home, he’d made a decision. He was going to sell the Old Alcove. He’d seen a brand new cottage-style café going up in Magnolia Promenade. It was smaller., He’d buy that one and see if he could make it work. He set the menu to more of a breakfast/brunch, keeping it simple. He renamed the place Tiana’s Café, and they opened just a few days later.
Starting over wasn’t as easy as he thought. The staff he hired were barely capable. The customers unforgiving. His Chef could barely crack an egg, let alone cook an omelet. With so very little in the coffers, Trenton began to realize just what a mistake this was. After a long, grueling day in his new one-star establishment, he met Tiana out front of their home, after his awful day.
“Tiana, I love you,” he said, kissing her on the cheek. “I wanted so much to honor you with your own café —”
“But, it’s just not working, is it,” she said, her smile sardonic.
“You know me too well. I’m really sorry, Sweetheart. I sold it today.”
“Don’t be. I’ve already taken a job as a writer. Maybe you should try to find something different, too. After all, and I loved your father dearly. But running a restaurant was his dream. It was never yours.”
“No, it was never mine.”
“I’m so very proud of you for trying to carry on for him the way you have. I think he’d be pleased, too.”
“You know what I want to do?’
“Be an astronaut. Find out what’s up there.”
“You’re kidding, right? They’re up there. Your family knows it, first hand.”
“Yes, but that didn’t stop great-Grandpa Rory from seeking answers, even so. I’m not that into science, but I’d like to go exploring.”
Before either one of them started their new jobs, a strange thrumming sound could be heard over head one evening. Looking out into the backyard, they could see Gramps caught in a bluish beam of light. Overhead was a flying saucer. It had happened again. They let him down easy, right in the family grave yard.
The ghost floated back inside the house and proceeded to fix the plumbing in the downstairs bathroom. Both the shower and the sink had been broken by other ghostly relatives. Again. Was almost a nightly occurrence. Were they to ever sell this place they’d have to list it as haunted. It was very haunted. Something the occupants just learned to live with. And in a strange sort of way, almost comforting.
Hannah came home from school with a B grade, whereas Betsy and Seth, who were more into mental challenges, were struggling with Cs. Trenton would have to make time to help both of them study. For now, he was ready to play some chess. Logic was something he needed in his new career. New career. That sounded just fine to him. One way or another he was going to make things work. He wanted to leave Seth with a little something more than mere family pride.