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It was mid-morning when we decided to go to the Ruins. It was a historical landmark that was once the site of an ancient courthouse back in 681-750 BC. Ivy had been very excited about visiting the location ever since we first told them about the family trip to Windenburg. She had been pestering us since the plane landed to go there so her current lack of enthusiasm as she stood next to Isabel away from the rest of us was confusing. Something was up with those two… and with Zachary as well.

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He’d been in a foul mood all morning. He got up before I did and went with Johanna to get us all breakfast takeout from a café. When he came back and I suggested we call the twins to join us he mumbled something about them not being able to get up and then said they were grounded and weren’t allowed to go out with us. He said he would explain later as he didn’t want to talk about it with Johanna nearby but I couldn’t wait until then. I needed to know what they did now.

“Your father says you two are grounded but he didn’t say why. I had to do a lot of convincing to get him to let you girls come with us and yet you guys don’t seem to want to be here. You still look half asleep. What happened? Tell me.”

“Uh, well…we uh…” Ivy stammered.

“We went out last night.” Isabel spilled out. “We know we were wrong. Dad let us have it when we came in this morning.”

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“What?” I yelled. “Why would you do such a thing? Where did you go, huh? That was very irresponsible of you two especially since we asked you girls to take turns sleeping with Johanna last night. She can’t stay in a room all by herself! How could you girls do something like that?!”

“Okay Mum, please, we’re sorry, just stop yelling. My head hurts.” Ivy squirmed.

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The only way they would have headaches was if they were drinking. I felt my anger rising so I took a deep breath. “One of you, start talking right now. Tell me everything!”

Isabel took a deep sigh. “Okay here’s what happened….”

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“Remember when we went to that café two days ago? Well while we were there I met this guy, kinda cute, but not exactly my type. His name was Hugo Villareal and he asked for my number so I gave it to him, wanting to be friendly, didn’t realise he’d actually use it! A lot! And by a lot I mean you could swear he was my boyfriend! Anyway, last night after dinner he told me about a party his sister was going to and asked if I’d like to go with him. I wasn’t really interested because he was giving me a stalker vibe but then I figured you only live once right? What better a story to tell people than I got myself a European stalker, it’ll make me seem so worldly, right? But then he told me it was at Discotheque Pan Europa and I heard that place was on fleek so I just had to go so I texted him back and told him I will only if my sister Ivy can come along.”

“Yeah, because she wanted to set me up with him to get him off her back.” Ivy interjected.

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“He seemed more your type anyway. All this guy talked about was Blicblock tournaments, he’s practically your soulmate! Anyhoo, so after I convinced Ivy to come along, which was hard because she’s such a little miss goody two shoes, we decided to sneak out. I know, I know, it was wrong but we knew you and Dad wouldn’t have let us go if we had asked and Johanna was safe. She sleeps like the dead, nothing wakes her. It could be raining fire and brimstone outside and she’d only snore louder!”

“So we called a cab and it picked us up downstairs and dropped us straight to the club. We waited outside for almost an hour for Hugo to show up but wouldn’t you know, the little geek stood us up! Well, more like he and sister got caught trying to sneak out and his Dad grounded them….”

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“That’s when I suggested we go home!” Ivy stated, “Because without Hugo and his sister, we had no reason to be there!”

“Go home when the music was pumping inside? No way Ivy! That’s exactly what I told her. You wouldn’t believe who I met! DJ Joaquin!” Isabel squealed excitedly while Ivy and I remained quiet because we had no idea who this DJ Joaquin person was.

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“DJ Joaquin Mum! You know, he did that song with Piper Haste called ‘Rhythm’. It’s like, one of my favourite songs Mum don’t tell me you forgot already!”

“Of course I remember sweetheart.” No I didn’t.

“Well, he was super cool and he helped us get in to the club after we learned we weren’t on the list then he kinda disappeared behind a curtain with some groupie chick shortly after we walked into the club which was kinda lame but I guess when you’re DJ Joaquin you’re practically bait for tarts and golddiggers!”

 “So then we started dancing, the music was flowing! I even got Ivy to loosen up and enjoy herself.”

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“I’ll admit it was really fun.” Ivy added.

“Yeah it totally was and it got even better when they announced DJ Kali was coming on and I had to resist the urge to fan girl all over the place. She’s like my idol! Her set was wicked cool and hearing her live was amaze-balls!”

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“So while I was listening to DJ Kali’s set, little Miss Ivy snuck off to the bar and started drinking.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “Ivy, you?!”

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“Yeah I know right?” Isabel laughed. “You’d expect that from me!”

“No Mum,” Ivy groaned. “I didn’t plan on drinking. I ordered a Juice on the Rocks. I had no idea that it contained alcohol! Who names something ‘Juice on the Rocks’ when it contains more rum than juice?”

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“Did the bartender ask for ID?” I asked. “How can they serve alcohol to minors?”

“The legal drinking age here is a lot lower than back home.” Isabel added. “Teens our age frequent dance clubs and bars. But that’s not the best part! I got into it with some older dude trying to hit on Ivy!”

“Yeah, the guy started talking to me and by this time I was already feeling dizzy. I hadn’t realised at that point that my drink was alcoholic and then Isabel swooped in and cussed him out!” Ivy revealed.

“I only warned him to leave you alone and then told him how his mother, a llama, made him. That’s all.” She shrugged jokingly. “It was my duty as her big sister to look out for her. But she kept laughing the whole time so it was hard for me to keep a straight face while I was threatening him.”

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“Because it was funny! Even the bartender was laughing when you left that man speechless.” Ivy said.

“So then when I realised she was drunk I took her downstairs and put her to sit and watched her while I danced to DJ Kali.”

“Why didn’t you two come back to the hotel?” I asked.

“Well, I still wanted to dance and Ivy needed to sleep off some of her high because she was too dizzy to go anywhere.”

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“After an hour or so when she was feeling better we decided to call it a night.” Isabel said. “So we called a cab and it dropped us straight to the hotel. It was a little after 3 then so we tried to be extra quiet and not draw attention to ourselves and risk getting caught but then… we did.”

“Yeah, Dad was outside our door waiting for us.”

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Zachary and I spent the night making up for lost time so afterwards I was so exhausted I fell asleep right away. I wasn’t aware that he left the bed at all.

“He smelled the alcohol on Ivy and started yelling at ME about how I could let her do something like that and he was sure it was my idea to sneak out…”

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“But it was your idea to sneak out!” Ivy interrupted.

“So, like it’s not possible for it to be your idea!” Isabel argued.

“I would quicker sneak us out to go to the cinema to camp out for tickets to the premiere of the new Space Battle movie than to go to a dance club. I told you it was a bad idea and we would get caught.” Ivy complained.

“So why did you go along with it, Ivy?” I asked.

“Well, she’s my sister. I couldn’t let her go alone and she was adamant about going so I made up my mind that we would just have to get in trouble together.”

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That response surprised me. I would have never done that for Leni and I’m sure the feeling was mutual. Isabel and Ivy were a lot closer than I thought for them to be so protective of each other. I liked that. I liked that they looked out for each other in spite of being so different and from what I observed, the two of them were just as protective of Johanna. Growing up I used to feel so alone, like no one understood me or was on my side so it was a relief to know that none of my girls would ever have to feel the way I did.

“Well girls, I’m glad you told me the truth. It’s good to be honest. I had to learn that the hard way.” I said.

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“Really Mum? You’re being so chill about this.” Isabel said.

“The important thing is that you girls learned your lesson when you got caught and punished. Sneaking out, especially while you’re in a foreign country, is never a good idea. A lot worse could have happened but your father already yelled at you so I don’t think it’s necessary for me to take over and start yelling at you for the same thing.”

“Sooooo…. Does that mean you’re willing to talk to Dad about reducing our grounding sentence from three weeks to two?” Isabel asked.

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I laughed. I laughed hard. Was she for real? “Of course I’ll talk to him.” They both looked at each other and smiled until I finished what I was saying. “Three weeks is not enough. It should be a month.”

The smiles quickly faded. “But Mum…” They both whined at the same time.

“You want to make it two months?”

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