Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: WEEKEND AWAY (short vacation) (07/23/15)
By Holly Westefeld
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"I don't know, Trish, probably some time before Kylie was born."
"Then it's been too long. Let me and Tom watch the kids, and you two take a romantic getaway."
"We're barely speaking, and you think I can convince Joel to have a romantic weekend?"
"Good point. Okay, I'll plan and pay for the weekend, give you a sealed envelope with your reservation confirmation, and program your GPS with the destination. All you will need to do is pack, and "kidnap" Joel after work on Friday."
"I don't know..."
"Come on. You have nothing to lose, and if there's a chance to rediscover the roots of your love... You can't put a price tag on that."
"But I don't want you to be stuck paying if he refuses to go and it's past the cancellation time."
"That's my gamble to take. We certainly won't miss a couple hundred dollars. And we'll keep the kids for the weekend either way."
"Okay, I'll give it a shot. Thanks so much!"
Rachel twisted a lock of chestnut hair around her finger, poised to intercept Joel emerging from the downtown high-rise, heading toward the subway. Finally spotting him, she tapped the horn and rolled down the passenger window. "Want a ride?"
Doing a double-take, Joel leaned in the window. "What are you doing here? Is everything okay? Where are the kids?"
"Everything's fine. Get in. It's cold out there!"
Joel tossed his briefcase in back and slid in to the passenger seat. "Well?" He tilted his head quizzically as he raised the window.
"The kids are with Trish and Tom so we can have some time to ourselves."
"Oookaaayyy. What did you have in mind? I hope not an eclectic restaurant and a chick flick..."
Rachel started the route marked "Happy Valentine's Day," and pulled in to traffic. "I really don't know. Trish made the reservations, programmed the route, and gave me a sealed envelope to open when we arrive."
"Oh brother. Just what I need after a long, stressful week, feminine intrigue!"
After creeping over the Delaware River and escaping suburban Philadelphia, snow-dusted pines accompanied them on their route east.
"This seems like a long way to go for an evening out."
"That's because it's not an evening out. It's a weekend away."
"Um, I have plans for the weekend... I thought you were just talking about this evening..."
"Is it truly something that won't keep a week?"
"I guess, but you know I'm not really in to surprises."
"You used to be. Remember when" Rachel hit the brakes and swerved to avoid the buck that had materialized in the headlights.
As Rachel recovered her breath, Joel proffered, "When I whisked you away for a weekend in the Poconos before Kylie was born?"
"That was an awesome resort."
Rachel turned left, and the GPS announced, "You have reached your destination." She squeezed the car in to the last spot in the lot adjacent to the building marked "Registration," retrieved the envelope from the dash, and looped her arm through Joel's as they loped toward the entrance.
A crackling fire warmed them as Rachel opened the envelope at the front desk, presenting their confirmation. "Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Young. Here's a schedule of the weekend's activities. You're just in time for dinner. The buffet is right through the double doors."
They settled in with heaping plates by a large picture window. Moonlight shimmered on the sheet of ice coating a lake, surrounded by more frosted pines. Joel slipped his hand in to Rachel's. "Lord, we thank You for this food, for the hands that prepared it, and for friends willing to bless us with such a beautiful, serene getaway. Amen." His hand lingered, then slowly reached for his fork.
Tom waved Joel and Rachel in from the cold. "Trish is in the basement playing hide-and-seek with the kids." Rachel headed for the stairs.
"Tom, we can't thank you and Trish enough. I am not exaggerating to say that you probably saved our marriage."
"The joy is all ours, Joel. I am thrilled that this weekend away rekindled your marriage, but at risk of sounding selfish, it saved ours, too. Trish has been so depressed about not being able to carry to term, and completely resistant to adoption. Your children, however, kidnapped her heart, and dispelled her fear that she would not be able to love an adopted child."
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