|Nathan clings to Isabel constantly and won't let her out of his sight, not even at night to sleep.|
Cupid couldn't understand where his humans had gone this time. He continues to bring in the paper and just hold it. His Master wasn't there to receive it. Isabel was too sad to notice.
|Cupid's an elderly dog now, and very sad.|
A memorial was held at Cinnamon Falls, which was painfully difficult, though the area where the cabin had been was cleared away, the memories of the fire were still too fresh. Isabel had refused to go, citing too much trauma for Nathan - he was already having nightmares.
She sent a eulogy letter of remembrance about her parents for the people of the town who would be there, and the mayor read it. He was the new mayor, and Isabel's good friend Katie Lanson's Dad.
|Mayor Lanson of Appaloosa Plains, gives a moving speech at the Twist Memorial.|
Isabel talks things over with the mayor and makes the decision to return Camp Cinnamon Falls to the city of Appaloosa Plains, in Simon and Sarah's memory, with a small nameplate on the dock to mark the date.
She has also, to the protests of many, decided to leave Appaloosa Plains. These plans were still unclear yet but beginning to take shape.
A few remaining Gilbert siblings had offered their homes to Isabel and Nathan, but none of them were particularly close with the kids and most had busy lives of their own. Sarah's twin sister Stacy had been utterly devastated by the loss of her sister so soon on the tail of her own parents. As a result, their cousin was often over - to 'keep Nate company' since they were of similar age.
Nathan was simply writing simoleon signs all over his homework and not even trying.
|"I'm just going to make a ton of money and build a titanium fire-proof fortress underground so the aliens won't find me when the time comes... you want in on the deal?"|
The school suggested Nate keep to a normal routine, but school was not going well despite special counseling. This, among other things helps Isabel make the decision to leave. Starting over with a fresh start somewhere else would be good for both of them. The house and the whole town itself held far too many painful memories now.
Isabel prepares to sell the house and everything in it.
This was a hard transition too ... Nathan wasn't dealing well with it.
|"They're just going to chop her up into dog food!"|
Sarah's horse Moonshadow needed a new home. The Gilberts rightfully owned her, but most of them were growing elderly and no longer horse racing except the youngest daughter Megan, who already had several horses. Isabel decided to see if the Steele family would take her as some of their oldest breeding mares had passed on recently.
|"Of course, we'd love to have Moonshadow here, she would be very happy and a welcome addition to our mares"|
Old Marcus Steele, Andy's Dad, was happy to take beautiful Moonshadow in and let her live her days out on their beautiful horse ranch.
He also comforted Isabel and gave her some encouragement.
|"You're a beautiful young woman Isabel, you're going to do just fine."|
Isabel had hoped to see Andy one more time, but all of the boys were off having their own careers now, even Chase had left home. Jake was still around, running horse racing circuits and the 'heir' to the Steele Ranch, but he was away from home right now too.
Sarah led Moonshadow to her new fancy paddock in the Steele's breeding stables.
|"You're going to love it here Moonie, it's a really fancy home for horses with lots of fields for you to run free..."|
The last painful step was what to do about poor old Cupid. Isabel has had Cupid since she was a baby, she couldn't stand the thought of leaving him behind. But, he was getting pretty old now and didn't have much time left. It wouldn't be fair to drag him away from the countryside he was born in and he had lived his whole wolf-doggy life here.
She makes the decision to leave Cupid with the breeder he had come from because he has lots of siblings, a mate and even his own offspring pups - so Isabel knows he'll be happy living out his remaining days there!
|"Look boy, a lake to swim in, and green fields to run in, and your own personal kennel with doghouse..."|
But Cupid seems to know Isabel's leaving too.
She explains to him she can't take him traveling with her and he needs to stay here and take care of his dog-family.
|"Aww hey, it's ok old fella, you will always be my best friend no matter what!"|
Cupid gives her a big doggie-kiss and a hug, which makes Isabel feel better than she has for days.
|"I love you too Cupid!"|
And now there's just one last thing to do - she's got to find Dr. Midden and talk to him before he leaves town too.
The last thing her Dad had told her was that he was stepping down and retiring as Director of the Science Facility and moving away - but he hadn't left yet. Isabel hadn't heard from him, or anyone for that matter, regarding her job position or whether she could transfer to another facility elsewhere. She had to focus on this, it was her future and somehow the thought of escaping back to Al Simhara was a soothing thought amid all this sadness.
Isabel finally gets a return call from Kenji Midden. He asks her to meet him at a local tavern, which seems odd, but he has retired after all, so maybe that's to be expected. Seeing him half drunk and playing video games is much less expected.
|"Hang on my dear, let me get just one more level cleared and I'll be right with ya ..."|
Dr. Midden turns and speaks softly to Isabel. She can hardly hear him over the blaring bar music and the sound effects of the video game, but apparently that's the idea - to mask their conversation.
She asks him about her position with the Archaeology Department. He shakes his head and motions for her to be quiet.
|"Dr. Midden, what am I supposed to do now for work?"|
He speaks hesitantly, and Isabel leans in to hear him better.
"My dear Isabel, listen carefully to me. Your Dad was often going on about off-the-wall conspiracy theories. Most of it was just his neurotic ramblings. But this time, he was right. I can't tell you everything, nor do I have answers you want ... just hear me out."
Kenji puts another coin in the video game before going on.
"You may be contacted and offered the chance to return to your field archaeology studies with a new team. I don't advise you to accept any full time internal positions no matter how lucrative the offer. And, whatever you do, don't go prying into anymore archive files at Wolfson's or any other science facility - it is a rather dangerous time right now."
Isabel wants so badly to ask Dr. Midden if he has any suspicions about her Father's death, since this is essentially what he had apparently been trying to communicate to her that last phone call. But she keeps quiet and nods as he continues.
"The funding of our project has long been an issue and internal structure changes often. If you're a smart girl, you'll just keep to your tasks as assigned in the field and do not try to become friendly with your superiors abroad. Don't ask too many questions, especially where MorcuCorp is concerned - ok?"
Just as Isabel's about to ask Dr. Midden why he's decided to retire and if he's involved in this structure change, a loud female voice interrupts and ends their conversation. Kenji heads for the bar.
|"Isabel Twist, is that youuu? I'm yer Aunt Megan, Sarah's lil' sister.... <hic> thish terrible! Gladys get this girl a drink!"|
Isabel apologizes and says she really can't stay and have a drink, she has to get home to Nate.
"You bring that boy 'round to our farm sometime, always welcome!" Megan tosses back another drink.
Kenji walks Sarah outside and gives her a quick, but awkward hug goodbye and says he will keep in touch when he can and wishes her well.
Lastly, he tells her "Remember, your Dad was a good man, I'll miss him, and you too."
|"Take care of yourself and be safe out there..."|
The very last loose end to tie up is where they were going to go. Once the sale of the house comes through, and the insurance money from the fire, Isabel has just enough money to find a new place and not much time. As Kenji predicted, a new project team lead contacted her and offered a transfer to freelance archaeologist working under a third party special interest group. Travel would be up to her, but compensation for her relic recovery work would be well paid but she must leave immediately to meet their deadlines.
Isabel took the offer, and made a quick decision to move to St. Claire where her Mother was located, as it was an address she had on hand to give them for reporting purposes.
Of course, she hadn't exactly talked to her Mom about it since they had not talked since the holidays the year before. She wasn't even sure Emma knew of Simon's death. Calling her was awkward.
|"Why, of course you and... your ... half-brother can come stay here" (the emphasis on that word was not lost on Isabel)|
Emma apologized for not being there, she had apparently just been contacted by Mayor Lanson's wife, and old friend of hers, regarding the accident. She had sent flowers to the memorial and tried to call Isabel, but her voice mail was off. Isabel hadn't really been ready to take a lot of calls yet anyways, so she reassured Emma there was no need for apologizing.
Emma goes on to rattle away about how she knew the best real estate agents in St. Claire and there were even a few empty renovation townhouses along her street in historic Bradford neighborhood. Isabel's mind tunes most of this out, and she mumbles a thanks and agreement to take whatever Emma can find in her price range and says she's got to start packing them up.
Emma's changed quite a bit since she left Simon and Appaloosa Plains long ago.
|"So many plans to make, so little time to get everything organized!"|
A wealthy, successful small business owner, Emma now runs her own cafe in Bradford. She's aged into her middle years elegantly, but spends most of her time attending socialite functions and is rarely ever home. Having her daughter live nearby seems like a great idea so long as it doesn't affect her busy schedule ...
Isabel doesn't have to hear this to know exactly what her Mom's life is like. She's thankful she won't be around that much either, since work will take her abroad.
Traveling would be good for Nathan too, if she can just convince him to get on the plane.
|"Nate, we're going to go on a big adventure and see new places and do fun things - together!"|
But true to his Father's genetics, Nathan immediately begins to think of all the plots.
|"What if we get hijacked and they force us to fly into space to meet the alien Mothership??"|
Isabel hugs him tight and again, reassures him everything's going to work out ok, and she was going to stick by him no matter what.
Underneath all the alien talk, there's just a scared little boy missing his Mama.
|"I gotta be strong and keep Mom in my heart forever."|
And so the Twist siblings bid Appaloosa Plains farewell and head off to the city of St. Clair for their next adventure in life.
Isabel's determined it will be a good one!
Bonus Shot: Since there's been heavy hearts and lots of sad good-byes, I thought I'd throw in this one silly picture I caught of good ol' Kanoa Parrott, elderly, and jogging down the road in his 'petty thief' getup as a parting farewell to Appaloosa Plains.
Goddess Envie: "No, Kanoa, wearing your mirrored ray-bans over your thief mask does not hide your identity better. You suck at being a criminal too!"
|You're a mess dude!|
Read on to chapter 2.4 "Family Ties" HERE.
Notes: Just a filler chapter as I'm gearing up for Isabel and Nate's first adventures abroad (yes, together) as well as their new home in St. Claire.
Things are looking up again. =)