Tensions were running high in the Gray household. Ambrose was as rebellious as ever. Even though it had been a month since his birthday party, he still didn’t want Noah in his house. Their relationship wasn’t getting any better in the slightest. He’d always booby trap the house when he knew Noah was coming over. Ambrose thought it was the funniest thing when Noah sat down on the whoopie cushion, but Caleb wasn’t having any of it. Noah didn’t mind that much, hoping it would get Ambrose to somehow lighten up with him.
Things remained unchanged. Noah decided to do something a little more ambitious than trying to just talk to Ambrose. He approached Caleb one day with a brilliant idea.
“France?” Caleb asked aloud. “The four of you guys in a different country, together?”
“Yes, it’s the perfect time for the boys to go on one last vacation before they have to start school again. I think it’ll be great bonding time.”
“What can the boys do in France? Drink nectar?”
Noah shook his head. “I don’t know yet, but staying in a foreign country might just be exciting enough for Ambrose to actually want to talk to me.”
“I guess it’s worth a shot,” Caleb shrugged. “You want me to house sit?”
“Not just that, I have another surprise for the boys when we get back. I need your help to carry out this plan or it’ll never work, what do you say?”
“I’m up for anything that’ll help get the family back together,” Caleb agreed.
Phase one of Noah’s big plan was through. Now he had to convince Leia that this was the right thing to do. He really thought it’d be much easier.
“That’s a terrible idea, Noah. I’m sorry. I’ve been throwing you into this family relentlessly for an entire month and a half, but it’s getting kind of ridiculous now. Ambrose isn’t going to adjust by just being around you, he’s not ready. I think bringing him to a foreign country and forcing you two to hang out together might just do more damage,” Leia admitted.
“Leia…you know I love you right?” She nodded. “Trust me on this one, it might just work. Besides, you don’t have to do anything but relax in beautiful Champs Le Sims with the finest liquor, food and spas. An entire weekend by yourself, away from the kids. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?”
“Don’t try to bribe me!” She crossed her arms defiantly. “We’re not going.”
Time to turn on the charm. He grabbed Leia’s waist and swiftly dipped her. When he was inches away from her face, he put on the best puppy dog eyes he could muster, “please babe?” This drove Leia insane. Being away from Noah’s touch for so long had made her long for him. She couldn’t exactly do anything romantic around the kids and today was the only day that Apollo and Ambrose weren’t home. “I’ll make it worth your while.”
“Fine…” She mumbled into his lips as he kissed her passionately. “But if the family splits even more, it’s on you.”
“It won’t, I promise,” Noah vowed, “I’ve got a plan.”
Phase three was getting the boys on board. He knew Apollo would go willingly, but Ambrose would be even more of a challenge than his mother. He left that up to Leia.
“I’m not going!” Ambrose cried by the door. “I refuse to leave this house!”
“Come on, we’ve never left Sunlit Tides before Ambrose. This is going to be so much fun!” Apollo tried to convince him,
“I’m happy in Sunlit Tides.”
“We can’t leave you home alone,” Leia told him.
“I can stay with Uncle Caleb.”
“No can do, buddy,” Caleb said as he walked into the room. “Got a date this weekend. Need to prepare.”
“You’re leaving me for a woman!?” Ambrose hit his arm. “Bros first dude!”
“What? I would have been so excited if my dad took me to Champ Le Sims. I’m kind of jealous. Just go and have fun.”
“That’s it Ambrose, I didn’t want to have to do this,” Apollo shrugged. He grabbed his legs and threw him over his shoulder.
“Hey! Let me go!” He began to kick and punch Apollo frantically.
It didn’t seem to phase Apollo at all at first. “You brought this on yourself.” He carried him outside of the house and stopped in front of the limousine. “Seriously dad!? A limo!”
Noah smirked as he leaned against it. “We’ll be riding to the airport in style.”
“Stop lying to get me to go!” Ambrose said. He was still over Apollo’s shoulder and could only see the house.
“I’m not lying, look!” Apollo spun around and Ambrose’s jaw dropped. Before he could say anything, Apollo tossed him in and locked the door. He stretched out his shoulder, “jeez Ambrose, do you have to be so rough? You’re the only person in the world we have to force to go on vacation.”
He slumped in his chair, arms crossed over his chest. “I do want to go on vacation, just not with him.”
“Give him a chance, he’s trying.”
“That’s what you’re all saying, but it’s too late for all of that,” He looked towards the window as Noah and Leia piled in the back.
“This is kind of extravagant, don’t you think?” Leia asked.
“Not for my family. This trip is going to be memorable.”
“Thanks dad, this is awesome,” Apollo grinned and Noah smiled in return. He hoped that France would win over Ambrose’s attention too.
The plane ride was hectic. Ambrose didn’t even want to sit in the same row as his father. There were three seats in a row and Leia offered to sit by herself. Ambrose wasn’t thrilled and instead of making Noah sit by himself, Leia bargained with another passenger so that it was her and Noah in one row and Ambrose and Apollo behind them. She didn’t see what the big deal was anyway, because Ambrose fell asleep as soon as the plane took off!
When they arrived in France, Leia stopped them by the board. “After we rest up and have dinner, you guys are going on an adventure.”
“Wait, Leia what? This wasn’t part of the plan…” Noah began but Leia cut him off.
“I think this is a better plan. What other opportunity will you have to explore the hidden tombs of France? Besides, you might find some buried treasure. It could be fun!”
“If you’re not going, neither am I,” Ambrose said.
“Yes you are,” Leia put her foot down. “This is something you’d enjoy. You’re not going to stay cooped up in our hotel room because you don’t want to be near Noah. Whether you like it or not, he’s your father. He put this entire trip together for us, and you’re going to enjoy it. I have the keys right here, and none of you are going to get into the room and get your stuff until you come back from that adventure. I was going to give you guys time to rest up, but since you want to make things difficult all the time Ambrose, you three will go now.”
“Now?” Apollo asked.
“This is so unfair,” Ambrose groaned, but did not dare defy his mother when she was like this.
“It’s going to be fun,” Noah grinned. “We just have to get some supplies first like food, shower in a can, and some tents.”
“Tents!? We have to sleep there? No way mom! I’ll do anything!” Ambrose begged.
“No way, you’re going. Don’t come back until you finish the quest.” With that Leia left to their room. It was tough love, but maybe nothing was working because she was babying Ambrose too much. She wasn’t sure how everything would work out between Ambrose and Noah, but Apollo would be there to be the mediator if need be.
“Is that all you need, sir?” The merchant asked.
“You know what, on second thought, I’ll take more pieces of food, oh and a disposable camera,” Noah ordered.
“Dad, we don’t really need that much food.”
“Get the high quality food, your king can’t eat the stuff made for peasants!” Ambrose demanded.
“Is that really necessary?” Apollo sighed, looking over Ambrose.”Kings send out their knights to go on adventures while they keep all the loot.”
“Not in the Gray kingdom,” Noah intervened. “The king always does all of his own work. That’s why we’re here, to see to it that the King gets to his destination safely.”
“Oh come on, you’re not playing in to this are you?” Apollo groaned. Seriously, Ambrose needed to grow up. How could someone who acted so maturely in his hatred for his father, still be playing pretend?
“Playing in to what? Don’t disrespect the king like that. As the head of knights, you should know that!” Noah bowed down in front of Ambrose. “I’m sorry my liege, don’t punish us.”
As much as Ambrose wanted to resist, he was loving it. “Hmmph, if you carry my stuff for me Apollo, I’ll forgive you!“ He took off his large backpack and piled it into Apollo’s hands.
“What the heck is in this thing!?” Apollo whined.
“Don’t question the king,” Noah said.
“You owe me, big time,” Apollo told Noah.