§ § § -- September 8, 1981

Frida settled quite nicely in school, especially since Leslie was there to help guide her through it. Fantasy Island, being closest to American soil (though sovereign in and of itself), had adopted the American school system, which was completely unfamiliar to Frida. The school was large; there was a U.S. Air Force base on nearby Coral Island, which was about half the size of its more famous neighbor and thus too small for more than an elementary school. Students from seventh grade up took a 40-minute ferry ride to Fantasy Island to attend school there. So Frida was overwhelmed by the sheer number of students and doubtless would have been at far more of a loss had Leslie not been with her.

Leslie naturally introduced Frida to her friends; they all, except Camille Ichino, welcomed her with warmth. Camille studied the newcomer with suspicion and said very little to her. Leslie wasn't sure what made her appear so hostile, but she knew Camille well enough now to take in stride the fact that Camille was outwardly belligerent, especially to people she had just met. Leslie had always supposed Camille would tell her in her own time, but so far this hadn't happened, and Leslie wasn't one to pry.

Leslie, Lauren and Myeko walked back to the MacNabb house with Frida after school let out for the day, and found Julie in the kitchen. The scent of apples and cinnamon saturated the air and the room was unusually warm. Julie turned at sight of them. "Hi, folks. Frida, how was your first day at school?"

"I had a lot of confusion, but Leslie helped me," Frida said. "It smells like a very good taste in here."

"Sure does," Lauren agreed, taking a deep breath.

Julie squinted at her. "Do I know you? You look familiar somehow."

Lauren grinned a little sheepishly. "I guess I should. You used to babysit us years ago. I was barely in third grade back then. I'm Lauren McCormick."

Julie lit up with recollection. "That's right! Man, eight years sure changes people. So how's the family? I still remember your dad used to slip me an extra dollar because of Adrian."

"Geez, you were robbed, then," Lauren bantered, making everyone else laugh. "Adrian's still a holy horror, only worse now that he's twelve. I actually have to lock the door to my room. I keep telling my mother he's gonna make a career out of reform school, but she always just laughs at me."

Julie grinned. "It's nice to know that some things never change." At that point they heard a 'ding!' and she whirled around to pull open the oven door. "Stay awhile, guys. Have some apple pie. I've got vanilla ice cream to go with it, with cinnamon sprinkled on top."

Frida helped Julie set out plates, silverware and glasses, and Julie poured lemonade for everyone while the girls had generous helpings of pie. "This is great!" Lauren praised. "I wish you'd baked us pie when you babysat us. Maybe Adrian would've eaten too much to be the pain in the rump he always was."

"It really is good," Myeko agreed. "Camille's gonna be sorry she didn't come with us. For that matter, Maureen and Michiko will be, too. Maureen's mom runs a catering service, Julie, but even her pie isn't as good as yours."

"Why is Michiko not here?" Frida asked.

"She takes singing lessons after school," Myeko explained. "Someday I bet she'll be famous. You know, Julie, you should open a restaurant. Dessert only, of course." Everyone laughed.

"Well, if there's one talent I had that my sister didn't, it was cooking," Julie said with a wry smile. "Not that she ever needed to learn how to cook, not with her magic. All she had to do was wave her hand, and out of nowhere there'd be a four-course dinner and a triple-tiered party cake."

"That'd be my way to cook," Myeko said. "Like I said, though, you ought to open a restaurant."

"Or maybe a bed and breakfast," Leslie put in. "Those places always seem to have the most exotic dishes, you know? I mean, it's a few cuts above going to a pancake house."

Julie stared at her. "Leslie Hamilton, I think you're a genius. You may have just solved my problem!"

Leslie looked blankly up at her. "What problem?"

"I wasn't sure what I was going to do about getting a job, remember? Maybe if I turn this place into a bed and breakfast, I wouldn't need one!" Julie's dark eyes sparkled, and her face took on an excited glow. "I mean, this house is more than big enough to fit the bill, and maybe if I come up with an interesting breakfast menu, enough people would stay here that I could keep the bills paid."

"You should ask Mr. Roarke," Leslie told her. "He'll probably really like the idea. He's always wondering where we're going to put all the vacationers, especially the ones who don't have fantasies. You know we never have enough room in the hotels and the bungalows are always the first to get filled up."

Julie nodded firmly once, as though in confirmation. "Sold! This evening I'll head over to the main house and talk to uncle."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Roarke listened thoughtfully to Julie's plan, with Leslie contributing here and there, and finally smiled. "I must say, that is an excellent plan, Julie. Of course, you'll need to prepare the house for its role as a bed- and-breakfast inn, make sure it's up to code and in good repair, and purchase a great many accessories for it -- for example, extra linens and toiletries, dishes and cooking utensils...and you'll have to have housekeeping help."

Julie's face fell. "But I don't have any extra money to buy all that with, or make any repairs...and especially not to hire a maid!"

"That," said Roarke, rising from his chair behind the desk, "is where my proposal comes in, Julie. Business has gone up quite a bit in the past year, and Tattoo is nearly as busy as I am. He has been playing large roles in advising fantasizers in recent months, and has little time left over to perform the preparational duties we must carry out during the week between fantasies. And with Leslie in school, she is unable to take over all the things Tattoo used to do. I can use an extra assistant, Julie. Would you be willing?"

Mouth agape, Julie gawked at her smiling godfather, her face childlike in its wonder at this offer. "Willing? I'd be thrilled, uncle!" She suddenly snapped her mouth closed and cocked her head at him in puzzlement. "Except...I thought you already had enough help. Delphine told me not to bother you with --"

"Delphine means well, but I am afraid she misled you this time," Roarke said and chuckled. "Since marrying her husband, she has become a little too overconfident."

Julie rolled her eyes and shot back, "As far as I'm concerned, she was ALWAYS too overconfident."

Roarke laughed outright. "You are seeing her through the eyes of a younger sister, Julie. At any rate, I realize you may have to put off your ambitions to open a bed-and-breakfast inn, but it will be necessary for you to save the money you'll need to turn your house into an inn before you can begin taking in guests."

"That's true," Julie agreed. "This way I can get that money, and in the meantime I have a source of income to live on and support Frida with. This solves everything. Thanks a million, uncle!"

Roarke cleared his throat. "There is one small thing, Julie," he cautioned. "I must ask you to refrain from calling me 'uncle' when we have guests. It would look...unprofessional, shall we say."

"No problem, uncle," Julie said amiably. "I'll just need a few days to practice calling you 'Mr. Roarke', that's all." She grinned gleefully. "Just wait till I tell Delphine. She'll never believe it...she was so sure I'd never find a job here and I'd be lost in that big old house. Thanks to you and to Leslie's idea, neither one of those is true now. You two are lifesavers. So when do I start?"

"Tomorrow morning," Roarke said. "I have a great many things you'll need to do. And we'll have to get you a white suit of some kind if you are to help us greet the guests." He glanced between his goddaughter and his ward and chuckled unexpectedly. "With Tattoo and the two of you with me at the plane dock every weekend, it will appear that we have more hosts than guests."

Julie and Leslie both laughed. "If we're that popular, we might need the extra hosts," Julie remarked. "Well, thanks again, uncle...I mean, Mr. Roarke. I'll see you here tomorrow morning."

Leslie studied her guardian when Julie had left. "Mr. Roarke, if I weren't in school, could I do the things you just hired Julie to do?"

Roarke turned and gazed at her with a contemplative expression that was just a little exaggerated. "Do you think you've learned enough in your time on Fantasy Island that you're capable of handling such things? After all, once Julie has saved enough money to open her home as an inn, she won't need this job any longer, and I will need someone who knows what she's doing."

Leslie eyed him dubiously for a moment, trying to decide whether he was teasing her. "Does that mean I have a shot at it, then?" she persisted.

Roarke gave her an enigmatic look. "Perhaps. One can never tell what the future will bring."

"They can if it's you," Leslie retorted.

Roarke eyed her sternly and she smirked. Finally he relented, laughed and said, "Go on to bed, young lady." She giggled, said good night and trotted up the stairs, leaving her guardian smiling after her.

THE END