The next couple of years were good ones for everybody. After graduating from high school, Zondra started studying medicine at Denton University. The drive to and from school was long, and she had lots of homework to do, but she knew that she could count on Xander and their parents to look after Apollo and Diana when she couldn't. She still spent time with her family as often as possible, and the children didn't feel like they were being neglected.
Xander had realized in high school that he couldn't stand being away from his children for so long. He'd spend his days worrying about them, and although his grades didn't suffer, he wasn't sure about continuing his education. After speaking to Zondra, Magenta and Riff Raff about that, he decided to stay home at least until the children started going to school.
Mina was accepted into a good acting school. It was in Los Angeles, which meant that she had to leave her family, but they were all supportive and happy that she was following her dream. She studied hard and a few weeks before her twentieth birthday, she got a job as an extra on The Inner Light, a television show that she'd been watching for years. The only thing she didn't like about that job was the director. Bryan Spall was incredibly arrogant and demanding, and was constantly asking her to go out with him.
One day when Mina arrived to work, Bryan sauntered over to her. "Mina, there you are!"
"Hi, Bryan." Mina said.
"Listen, I know you keep turning me down, although I can't imagine why." Bryan grinned. "Why would anyone in her right mind refuse to spend an evening with someone as wonderful and handsome as moi?"
Mina bit her lip to keep from laughing. Bryan really was good looking, but he was much too conceited.
"Anyway, I was really hoping you'd reconsider tonight." Bryan sighed. "I could use some cheering up."
"What's wrong?" Mina asked, wondering whether she should have asked.
"Oh, there's a new intern coming here today. Some guy who's studying to be a director." Bryan frowned. "I have to show him how to do my job."
"That doesn't sound so bad." Mina smiled.
"Of course it's bad!" Bryan exclaimed. "He'll steal my job!" He looked toward the door. "Oh, goody, he's here." He said sarcastically.
Mina glanced at the door, and her eyes widened with shock when she saw who was walking in. "Derek?" She whispered. She couldn't believe it.
Derek went over to Bryan. "Hello, Mr. Spall. I..." He quickly glanced at Mina. "Oh my god! Mina!"
"Hi, Derek!" Mina grinned.
"Oh my god!" Derek exclaimed again. "It's been so long... What are you doing here?"
"I'm working as an extra." Mina explained. "Oh, Derek, I was sure I'd never see you again!" She pulled him into a tight hug. "I never should have broken up with you. I've regretted it ever since."
"I know, and I'm sorry I didn't say anything before moving away." Derek smiled.
Bryan cleared his throat loudly. "If you don't mind, we have work to do."
"Sorry." Derek blushed. "Mina, if you're not doing anything tonight, maybe we can have dinner? There's a good Italian restaurant near here."
"Sure, that would be great." Mina smiled.
Before they knew it, it was the end of the day. As they sat at the table and waited for their food, Mina smiled at Derek. "Have you been in LA this whole time?"
Derek nodded. "My parents got divorced, and since my mom grew up here and my grandparents still live here, she thought this would be a good place to live."
"I'm sorry about your parents." Mina put her hand on top of his.
"It's okay. Actually, Mom seems a lot happier now." Derek smiled. "So, how long have you been in LA?"
"I moved here after high school. I'm studying to be an actress." Mina said.
"Well, I'm hoping to be a director, so maybe we'll work together someday!" Derek grinned.
"Maybe!" As Mina looked at Derek and they continued talking, she realized that her feelings for him had never disappeared. "Derek, do you think we could start over? If you don't want to, I'll understand. I know how much I hurt you."
Derek took Mina's hand. "I've never stopped loving you, Mina. Even when I moved away from you, I kept hoping that I'd see you again. It's true that I was hurt when you said we should break up, but then I thought about how difficult my father was making it for both of us." He smiled. "We're adults now. We can make our own decisions, and nobody can stop us."
Later, when they walked out of the restaurant, Mina was surprised to see Derek suddenly dance around a tree. "What are you doing?" She giggled.
"You'll see!" Derek took a piece of chalk out of his pocket and started drawing on the tree.
Mina stepped closer and read what Derek had written. "It's a heart that says 'DM+MF'! Oh, Derek, that's so sweet!"
Derek hugged Mina, then kissed her passionately. "I love you, Mina, and I hope we're never apart again."