Three years later
Several years passed, and the Carters were very fortunate during this time. It had been five years since they first purchased the magical house on Festive Lane. David grew by leaps and bounds as he quickly approached his sixteenth birthday. Nicole had become a beautiful young lady with a very proficient vocabulary for a five-year-old.
Michael had been promoted to management in the same construction company and was now a building inspector. Arianna was the dispatch supervisor for the local Lake Forest Police Department. Their lives were relatively uneventful over the last three years. Accept for the Christmas holiday celebration and the annual visit of Tony Cesario trying to purchase the Festive Lane property, life remained steady.
Every Christmas, the guests arrived and visited with the Carters. Dennis joined the celebration all three years but would not be attending the upcoming holiday gathering due to accepting a new job in California. He still considered the parents who raised him to be just as much his parents as Art and Marie. He felt being closer to them geographically would be beneficial.
Since last year, Michael has been busy at work and home. He liked his new management position because it gave him more flexibility to be with the kids and Arianna. At home, he finally installed a new furnace in the house's basement. Unfortunately, the unit wouldn’t stay lit for more than a few minutes at a time. He had to keep shutting it off and re-adjusting the gas flow. He just tried to fix it again yesterday, but the problem persisted.
This morning, Michael left a note on the thermostat to warn Arianna not to turn on the furnace until he came home. He would stop at the hardware store before they closed early for the holiday. He needed to get a few parts that he felt would resolve the problem with the furnace. He placed the sticky-backed note on the thermostat cover in the front foyer so Arianna would be sure to see it.
It was Thanksgiving Day, and as usual, Jack and Wanda were invited over for Thanksgiving dinner. It was early afternoon, and Wanda watched the kids while Arianna worked at the police station. Michael had to approve some job sites for last-minute inspections before the weekend and ran late. The kids helped Wanda make cookies for dessert as Jack was up in his office, working on some investment paperwork. While laying out clumps of cookie dough, Wanda ran out of cookie sheets and decided to borrow a few from Arianna’s kitchen.