Chapter Three: Soccer, Monks, Promises, and Surprises

Arnold Thomas turned around to see his granddaughter standing in the doorway. He smiled.

"There she is! How's my little girl? Did you manage to get through to the Helen spirit yet?"

"Arnold! Don't encourage her."

"Oh, poppycock, Maria! If she wants to talk to those beyond this life, I say you let her. It's not as if she's contacting the devil or anything."

Joey's mom rolled her eyes and went back to cleaning up the kitchen. "You don't understand, Arnold. She locks herself in her room all day with all the lights off. All the windows are closed, and the only light come from strange candles she keeps in her drawers. I'm worried she's involved in something I know nothing about."

Arnold smiled and turned to Joey. "Josephine, are you involved in something your mother doesn't know about?" Forcing back a laugh, Joey shook her head. The old man turned back to Maria. "Well, that's proof enough for me. Come, Josephine. Let's go into the other room. I'll tell you all about my trip to China."

Joey smiled. She loved hearing her grandfather's stories more than anything. He always went to the most amazing places. The African Savanna, The Amazon Rainforest, and hundreds of old, haunted ruins. That's what Joey loved best about the stories. The mystery and intrigue that lay inside each one never bored her. When she walked into the other room, she found her father where he always…watching some game or another on TV.

"James, m'boy! How've you been?" Joey's dad turned around to see his father and smiled.

"Hi, dad. I'm good. Just watching the game."

Arnold turned to see what was on TV and smiled in excitement. "Ah, yes! Football, how I love it. Oh, and look, England is playing."

James nodded. "Yes, and if they beat this team, they make it into the semi finals."

"Won't it be nice to see England win the Cup? Last time they won was in the 60's. Well, we'll show them this year. Won't we, James."

"I hope so, dad. I bet fifty bucks that England will take home the World Cup. They better win."

Maria walked in and rolled her eyes. "What is it with your boys and soccer?"

"It's everything, Maria!" Arnold looked as if he'd been mortally offended. "It hurts my pride as in Englishman to have to watch my team get beaten year after year." Maria just smirked, and then went back to the kitchen.

Meanwhile, Joey was growing impatient. "Grandfather, tell me about China already. How was it? Did you meet anyone strange? Did you walk the great wall?"

"Patience, patience, Josephine; we mustn't rush ourselves. Come over here, love. I'll tell you all about it."

Then, Arnold proceeded to tell Joey all about his latest adventures. All the museums he went to, all the people he saw, even his experiences at the Shaolin Temple.

"Oh, Josephine, you should've seen it. It was amazing. Everything was old and beautiful. I watched monks training for two hours straight. The grace of their movements, as well as the amount of force, it was one of the most unbelievable things I've ever seen!"

Joey smiled. "I sure with I could've been there."

"Oh, Josephine, you would've loved it! It was full of ancient legend and folklore."

"Will you take me one day, grandfather?"

"Of course I will! When this summer comes, I'll take you all around the world! We'll see all the places that we've wanted to and more."

"Arnold, you've made that same promise every summer. And you still haven't taken her anywhere." Maria was standing in the doorway. Neither Arnold nor Joey could how long she was there. But, it didn't really matter. Arnold stood up.

"Maria, I understand that I have told her I'd take her places many times. But this year, I swear on pain of death, that this girl will see the whole world by the time this summer's over. I will not back down on my promise." Joey smiled. She loved her grandfather more than anything. She couldn't think of anything more that she'd love to do. Maria just smirked again.

"Well, we'll talk about it later. Dinner's ready. Come on, all of you."

With that, the four of them went to the kitchen and sat down. The topic of conversation: Joey's birthday.

"So, Joey, are you excited about turning fifteen?" Her father asked her as he filled his plate with steak and gravy.

"Of course! It's going to be so cool. I can't wait."

"When are you having your party, Josephine?"

"It'll be in three days, grandfather. You'll be there, right?"

"Why, it's the reason I came here in the first place. I'll be there, no matter what." Joey beamed, and then proceeded to fill her plate with as many mashed potatoes as possible. Arnold turned back to her. "Wait until you see what I got you. I'm sure you'll love it."

"What'd you get me?"

"Now, if I tell you, it won't be a surprise, now would it?"

"Oh, come on, grandfather! Please tell me?"

"You'll find out in three days." Joey smirked, but didn't press the issue. Normally, her grandfather couldn't keep a secret that concerned presents for more than an hour. Whatever he got her must've been really good in order for it to be kept secret. So, she just ate her dinner as her mind danced around every possible present. But, what she really was about to get, was nothing she could've ever guessed.