As Krystina had once predicted, things did change considerably for the Ainsworths once the truth about Evelyn had finally come out. And, just as she had hoped, it was mostly for the better.
Lucas was surprised by just how quickly he and Evelyn were able to pick up where they’d left off – minus the romance, of course. It was so easy to forget about the ever-growing age difference that had come between them. She was still the same Evelyn who’d become his best friend all those years ago. And when he was with her, he felt like the same Lucas too.
As for Evelyn… Well, for her things were a little more complicated. She loved being with Lucas again, of course. It was almost like a dream-come-true… Except if it were truly a dream, he would still hold her hand, or stroke her cheek, or call her beautiful, or look at her with his bright green eyes so full of love…
It was hard to overcome these thoughts, at first. But as time went by, things got easier, just like they always did. And no matter what feelings she still held in her heart, Evelyn was able to appreciate Lucas for what he was, and what he always had been – the best friend she’d ever had.
Of course, Evelyn had not forgotten about her other best friend either. In fact, the best nights of all were when all three of them were together. Seeing Lucas and Krystina side-by-side… It almost seemed too good to be true. Evelyn could still remember the dark years before she’d first met Lucas, when she’d all but forgotten what it felt like to have someone to talk to. And now, she was lucky enough to have two.
Soon, that number even began to grow. But it wasn’t easy, at first.
The first night Krystina introduced Mitch to Evelyn, things hadn’t gone quite according to plan.
Still, if there was one thing Krystina had learned from her parents, it was how important it was to be honest with one another from the start. And, in time, Mitch slowly learned to accept Krystina’s friendship with Evelyn – though he still seemed rather jumpy and nervous whenever he was around her.
Now that the truth was finally coming out, Lucas had even considered telling his mother the truth about Evelyn, and finally introducing them after all these years. It was an idea Krystina quickly nipped in the bud.
“Grammy’s trying to enjoy her old age, isn’t she?” She’d asked. “Y’know, finally have a little peace and quiet? Do we really wanna spring something like this on her after all these years? Especially when you already tried telling her years ago?”
The answer, they’d decided, was no.
And so Becca continued living out her peaceful retirement and enjoying her new great-granddaughter, blissfully unaware of the fact that her property remained haunted by a beautiful young ghost…
Or that so many of her family’s visits to her home occurred when she was already fast asleep…
With the exception of Becca, Mel was the only member of the family left who still hadn’t met Evelyn. But no matter how many times her daughter or husband tried to convince her, she simply couldn’t do it.
There was just something so terrifying about coming face-to-face with the ghost at last – Melanie was ashamed of her cowardice, but it was simply something she could not overcome.
But while she may not have felt ready to meet Evelyn, Melanie was ready to try to help her.
The search for the angelfish had become something of an endeavor for the entire family. Mel used her computer skills to do as much research as she could, but her leads never got them very far, it seemed. Even Mitch tried his best to help, asking around among his large group of personal and professional acquaintances in search of someone who may know something – but he was just as unsuccessful as Mel had been.
Most of the actual leg work fell on Lucas, of course. But this time, he was not alone.
Krystina spent much of her free time with her father, trying out new fishing spots all over Newcrest and the surrounding towns in search of the mysterious fish – but their attempts always came up empty. Was this all some sort of silly fool’s errand? Had Death truly tricked them after all? Both father and daughter secretly wondered, but it was a thought neither of them ever voiced aloud.
And so they continued their search as the years began slipping by.
Krystina and Mitch were finally wed less than two years after their daughter Danica was born. They had a tiny but beautiful ceremony surrounded by only their closest family and friends. Lucas and Mel were overcome with joy and pride as they watched their little girl get married in the same dress her mother had once worn on her wedding to Lucas so many years ago.
After years of waiting, Krystina finally used the money given to her by Becca to open a small art gallery down in Magnolia Promenade. She was able to make a decent living selling her paintings to various collectors, and creating special portrait commissions for her customers. She even helped out down at the community center teaching art classes two days a week. It wasn’t the most profitable way to make a living, of course. But Krystina was so happy to be able to spend her life doing what she loved, just as her parents and grandparents had been lucky enough to do before her.
As Mitch’s athletic career continued to flourish and their baby daughter grew into a happy and healthy toddler, Krystina was overjoyed to see how wonderfully things were going for her and her tiny family.
And, for the most part, they were going well for her parents too.
Melanie finally retired from her job running the software company, and was now collecting a very nice pension, as well as enjoying her free time relaxing with her husband. Lucas still ran his restaurant, of course, but had handed over most of the day-to-day managerial duties in favor of dealing with the more administrative work from home, where he could spend more time with his wife as they entered their golden years together.
Lucas and Mel had always assumed that they’d spend their old age in the same home they’d shared together throughout their marriage – but fate had other plans.
After the devastating loss of his mother, Lucas was surprised to find that, aside from a great deal of money, she had also left him everything she and her husband had owned – including their house. Moving back into his former childhood home was not a difficult decision for Lucas and Mel to make, but it was also not quite as joyous of an occasion as it should have been. He should have been so happy to return to where he grew up, and where he could spend even more time with Evelyn… But instead, he just felt sad and lost being back in the home he’d once shared with his parents, knowing that he would never see either one of them again.
It was certainly not easy, but his girls got him through it, just like they always had. Except “his girls” no longer referred to just Krystina and Melanie, but Evelyn too… And, of course, Danica.
Lucas could not believe that his sweet little granddaughter was already growing up so fast. And as terrifying as it was to see how quickly the years seemed to be going by, it was so exciting too.
She was barely six years old, but she was already turning out to be such an amazing little girl – so sweet, and funny, and smart… And so eager to help as her mother and grandfather worked tirelessly to find Evelyn’s cure. Danica had known the ghost for as long as she could remember, and the little girl truly saw her as a member of the family – “Auntie Ev”, she’d started calling her, much to her mother’s amusement.
Danica had begged Lucas and Mel for a fishing pole for her 6th birthday. “I wanna help make Auntie Ev better!” She’d explained happily. Her grandparents had indulged her, of course, and the little girl was so proud to finally be included.
And, in truth, Lucas was thrilled – they needed all the help they could get.
It had been more than six years since he’d been reunited with Evelyn and his work toward finding the angelfish had continued. The entire family had spent so many hours searching and searching for answers…
Yet there were still no new leads, and no progress whatsoever.
Lucas spent hours poring over some of his old books while Mel continued to do her part by researching whatever she could online.
Yet they kept failing, time and time again.
Even Krystina, who’d remained so upbeat and optimistic during their years of searching, had begun to question things. “Dad… We’re still getting nowhere.” She’d told Lucas uncertainly. “What are we gonna do?”
Her father had no answers to offer her. Lucas was feeling just as confused and discouraged as she was. What were they going to do? It was a question he’d pondered often throughout the years, time and time again.
Is this totally pointless? Lucas wondered, terrified. Is this all just a waste of time? Will it all be for nothing?
And for years, Evelyn had wondered the very same thing…