In the month since the Latnok board meeting life at the Trager household had been peaceful. I had a chance to spend time with Amanda and enjoy being with my family. Saturday breakfast at the Tragers had settled into a pattern, Nicole cooked the scrambled eggs, I set the table and Jessi made the pancakes. She had been unanimously declared the 'permanent pancake chef' – a role she seemed to enjoy. Food bonds families together. As annoying as my family sometimes found Jessi, it's hard to be annoyed with someone who puts a perfect golden pancake in front of you on a sunny Saturday morning.
Stephen mopped up syrup with the last of his pancake and asked, "Are the two of you going down to UDub today? I can give you a ride. I have to go in for a few hours. I have a couple of student appointments and some programs to grade."
"That would be great," Kyle said. "Jessi and I are planning on having a busy day. Saturdays are usually busy because a lot of the students are out of class and have time to work on their projects."
"So, how are things going?" Nicole asked. "What are you two doing?"
Kyle smiled, "I mostly talk to students, we talk about their projects and I give them suggestions. It's good to work with people. A lot of them are working on worthwhile projects and making good progress."
"And is that what you do too, Jessi?" Nicole asked.
"Everyone wants to talk to Kyle. Sometimes someone will ask me something, but usually I just work by myself," Jessi had a slight frown. "I'm experimenting with some ideas I got when I was working with Jackie."
"I'm sure that as they get used to you, they'll feel more comfortable," Nicole consoled and then asked hesitantly, "Is everything else still going well? Are there any signs of problems? With all the trouble we've had, I can't help but worry," She smiled apologetically.
Kyle said, "Everything seems fine. Nate is still is a mystery. I've been leaving him alone and he's been keeping to himself." He shrugged, "I suppose we'll have to deal with that eventually. I'm in no hurry."
"What about Grace?" Nicole asked hesitantly, "Have you spent much time with her?"
"Not really," Kyle said. "She's been pleasant. We've talked about routine things for the group, equipment orders and things like that, but nothing important." He frowned, "I still feel that she has a lot of things that she doesn't want me to know about, but nothing that's really obvious.
"Any sign of other Latnok activity that we should be concerned about?" Stephen asked.
Jessi said, "I think that if they are doing anything that we would disapprove of then they are doing it somewhere else. They got a strong enough impression of what we can do to avoid putting clues in front of us."
After a pause, Kyle commented, "We got paid."
"Grace told me that there would be a stipend involved in the work you were doing. She suggested that you might get cars and have some pocket money," Nicole said.
"That would certainly help with getting to and from the school," Stephen said. "I don't mind being the bus but scheduling can be a problem."
Kyle said, "We could each save up for a few months to buy a car."
"We could buy one together." Jessi suggested, "Then it would only take half as long."
Nicole cautioned, "I'm sure you'd each like the freedom of having your own car."
Kyle smiled, "We could start out with one and then buy another later. We usually go together anyway."
Jessi smiled, "We're a team."
Stephen observed, "You know, if you wanted to buy a car together, you probably have enough for a down payment on an inexpensive used car – something ten years old or so."
"A junker," Kyle said, smiling.
"Well not a junker," Stephen chuckled. "I think our enthusiasm for car repairs is wearing thin. It isn't as much fun as I remember."
"Hey, that's my car you're disparaging," Josh complained.
"We do seem to be always having to fix something," Kyle wryly observed.
"It has character," Josh argued.
Stephen smiled and continued, "But something in reasonable running condition could be gotten for four or five thousand."
"Could they get a car loan, Stephen?" Nicole asked.
Stephen said, "I would probably have to co-sign." Nicole gave him a concerned look. Stephen shrugged, "They both have regular paychecks now and we are not talking about an expensive vehicle. It would be fine."
"I suppose so," Nicole reluctantly agreed.
Stephen nodded, "We could go and look tomorrow if you want. I don't have anything planned."
Jessi smiled, "That would be nice. We could buy it together."
"Until we can save enough for another one," Kyle said. "Yes, let's do that."