AN: Hi! I'm back as I cannot stay away for long. But I am not promising daily updates this time, as work will probably stop that from happening - so we'll see. Sometimes daily or near-daily, sometimes not. Giving you a small preview in the form of the first chapter today, in the future I aim for longer chapters.
I do not own Gilmore Girls. Any names of new characters are fictional.
Short summary: This story is a sequel for "Maine Event", "Leaps and Landings" and "Balancing Act", which picks up 4 years after "Balancing Act" (It will probably be possible to follow without reading them first, but I do recommend you do). Covid happened in between. The extended family and friends are going on a joint vacation in Celeste's villa in Nice for two months. The story will include some flashbacks / jumps in time. M rating mostly due to smut.
Recap of what has happened in this universe until now:
- Celeste (Odette who changed her name for anonymity) (43) is married to Jess (40), they have two kids: Evie (7) and Oliver Lucas (3, about to turn 4). Jess and Celeste own a nordic noir bookstore in Stars Hollow. Celeste also teaches sex-ed at Stars Hollow High as a side job. Jess is a successful writer.
- Logan (42) and Rory (39) are married, and they have three kids: Finny (Finn Richard) (7) and twins Emma and Leigh (4, about to turn 5) and live in NYC, but Logan also got a large estate near New Hartford as a hobby with focus on self-sufficiency (he had a bit of a survivalist phase - mid life crisis sort of thing).
- Lorelai and Luke have an adopted son Leo (13)
- Celeste had a difficult relationship with her French family (controlling and manipulative), who thankfully are all now either dead or behind bars. She used to be quite a celebrity in France but hasn't been there since 2016. At the end of 'Balancing act' she was taking babysteps in beginning to communicate with her mother, but she died before she had a chance to really begin to trust her again. Celeste got some inheritage from her mother who wrote it to Celeste's not Odette's nam and she has two properties, one in Paris and one near Nice.
- Gigi goes by nickname 'G' and is now 21 years old. When G was 16 she moved in with Rory's family because Christopher left to Tokyo and Sherry was in Paris. G developed a crush on Finn. While Finn took himself out of that picture, seeing how it was problematic at the time, he still cared deeply for her. G had a bit of an unhealthy attention seeking behavior with older men. Her family relationships are a little dysfunctional but she still loves both parents.
- G also found out that her stepfather was abusive (mostly mentally, but a lot of borderline physical things as well such as inappropriate hugging, grooming etc which she was also subject to before she moved back to the States to live with her dad in her early teens) which might have been the cause of her attention seeking behaviors. She's been going to therapy. Sherry thankfully moved out of that house in 2020 with the help of Rory and Celeste and has been taking care of Celeste's properties in Paris and Nice until now, renting out either place depending on the season (and covid-regulations) as a side job.
- Logan has a younger half brother, Owen, who Mitchum after Shira's passing recognized as his own publicly, and whom Logan and Mitchum trained to work also for the HPG. For a time he acted as the interim-CEO even, so Logan could be home more. He's actually a teacher by education. Logan may trust him with the company, but because he has a hunch that despite being married himself, Owen might carry a torch for Rory (there was one drunken kiss in 2017 that lingered a second longer than it should've) hence causing some jealousy on his part.
- Finn, escaping feeling something for a 16 year old G, found love in Charlie, a Canadian girl (sister of Olivia from Yale) during his visit to Australia. Things moved really fast with them and Charlie moved in with Finn in end end of Balancing Act.
Covid will be included by some casual mentions like whose business it might have affected or health, but I won't go too much into detail on regulations - let's just assume they are at a time, in this moment, where vaccines really work efficiently and their certifications are the access to normal life. (Please - no covid or vaccination related discussions).
June 15th, 2024
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome onboard private flight HG1 with service from New York to Nice Côte d'Azur. Just before we're about to taxi, please take one final look at your travel documentation, including vaccination certificates and / or test results - make sure you have everything with you. Also assure that the child closest to you has those items. We are third in line for take-off and are expected to be in the air in approximately seven minutes time. Please fasten the seatbelts at this time and secure all baggage underneath your seat or ask one of our lovely flight attendants to do it for you," Rory said theatrically, gesturing to the flight attendants who'd given her the floor to speak before doing the official rounds. "Please turn off all personal electronic devices, including laptops, tablets and cellphones." Rory spoke, having actually missed air travel, into an empty coffee thermos that looked a little like a microphone, leaning against the back of her seat facing towards the back of the plane where everybody else was seated.
"Yes, that includes turning off 'Raining Tacos', Leigh. Please put it away," she added with a serious glance towards her youngest. She continued to make sure all of her three kids were strapped in properly, and that her Loeffler Randall Mallory Woven purse held indeed all the documentation required.
"And Finny, please don't kick your sister's seat, we've talked about this," Rory continued to scold, hearing Emma complain again.
"We're good!" Celeste called out from the back, who'd taken the whole row with her family, and was currently trying to get her 3-year-old, Oliver, to sit still.
"All set, captain," Lorelai, who was sitting across the aisle from Leo, said doing a salut gesture.
The nannies, sitting side-by-side, nodded as well, looking excited. They'd given Maya some well-earned time off and gift certificates with their travel agency and brought two younger nannies, in their late-20s, instead to help keep the army of kids occupied.
"Got it," G replied unenthusiastically as if she hadn't really needed to check it. She hid her nervousness well, under her aviators.
"Ugh…, " Rory let out a large puff of air and sank down onto her seat next to Logan and fastened her seatbelt.
"Relax," Logan commented, sensing the tension in Rory's body language. "You've gone by the list, we've got everything. We've done everything in our power to make this trip happen," he assured. And that truly had been a long list.
"I wish I could be as calm as you," Rory replied, genuinely. Her mind kept going over everything on that list, perhaps she'd forgotten something - insurance information, spare clothes, documents, Leigh's allergy medication, sunscreen... This was supposed to be her first real holiday in years, her chance to switch off. The trouble was she wasn't sure if she knew how to anymore. She expected plans to fail - none of the kids had gone to preschool, instead been home-schooled, none of their big plans for travel had happened, if anything Logan's idea of getting the place near New Hartford had been spot on, and anyone who knew Rory knew she didn't like to be wrong.
"It's supposed to be a holiday, so try to relax - we're up in the air in 4 minutes, it's out of your hands," Logan reminded her, and took her hand.
Rory looked over his hand that held hers for a moment, feeling a little hesitant of what to read from that. Not everything had been perfect between them - but here they were - trying to put on brave faces and push forward.
"What time does Honor's flight get there?" Rory asked Logan, breaking the moment with practical matters as if afraid of the silence between them.
"I'm not sure, but I'm sure they can make it to the house on their own," Logan shrugged.
"Finn?" Rory asked.
"Sometime next week probably, he didn't seem to have a strict deadline, you know him," Logan said, casually. "Colin and Harriet might be stopping by sometime during the weekend for a day or two, they're staying in Collodi," Logan said, referring to Colin's 2-year-old to whom he was a single parent to and Colin's summer home in Tuscany.
"Good," Rory exhaled.
"Bobby, Owen, Alex have been delegated to deal with all concerns," Logan continued, referring to work, knowing that Rory needed to clear her head of everything. They were now both employed by the HPG, Logan still on the board and an advisory to the CEO and Rory was handling the research foundation which Logan had proposed and now also the research division, which applied some of these results into real practice at the HPG. The only trouble was that now more than ever this had been a balancing act for the pros.
The airplane began to race down the aerodrome, and within a few moments it's wheels were off the ground. It felt so good to be up in the air - off to their first real escape in years. This trip was four years in the making. For four years their lives had been absolute chaos, a series of cancellations, countless Zoom-conferences and if they hadn't seen their kids grow they could've almost said they'd been stuck in time in many ways. They'd lived in fear, uncertainty, and worry for their loved ones, almost thinking they'd never have a holiday again - excluding some time spent at New Hartford, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket on some of the better days over the years - but then it had still felt like working from home most of the time.
It was the first foreign trip for Leo, Oliver, Evie, Emma and Leigh, and it was the first time G would see her mother in flesh and blood since she'd graduated high school. It was the first time Celeste would get to go back to her homeland and among other things to visit her parents graves. It was going to be a place of healing and re-discovering the joy in life. It was safe to say they all had high expectations for the two months to come.