CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY-THREE
Saturday night — 11:09 p.m.
“So who’s that?” Jacob asked.
He leaned forward to get a closer look at the large screen television. Jacob and Jill, Blane and Heather, Delphie and Sam along with an assortment of children, including Sandy’s Rachel, were hanging out in the loft. They’d been watching Teddy’s videos of the party at the Imagine Mosaic. About an hour ago, Teddy figured out how to make a Livestream. They were watching the fun live on Jacob’s large screen television. The tables were strewn with empty cereal bowls, boxes of Cap’n Crunch, cartons of milk, a couple of pizza boxes, and beer bottles. A few wine bottles stood in various stages of emptiness. The full pitcher of water sat untouched.
Two pairs of Paso Robles dancers spun across the screen. The crowd cheered them on.
“I don’t know any of the dancers besides Sissy and Ivan, I mean,” Jacob said.
“No, but …” Blane said. He got up and walked toward the screen. “That looks like Aden and Sandy.”
Behind the action, a couple held each other close. They were rocking in time to the music.
“That is Aden and Sandy,” Jill said from the couch next to the fireplace. Heather was sitting next to her.
“Aden can’t keep time to save his life!” Blane said with a laugh.
“They’ve been taking dancing lessons,” Jill said.
“Since when?” Jacob asked.
Blane and Jacob looked up at almost the same moment. They looked so similar that Jill laughed.
“They don’t tell me everything either,” Delphie said.
“I feel …” Jacob dramatically pressed his hand to his chest.
“Betrayed,” Blane said.
“Cheated,” Jacob said. “We could have helped!”
“Or at the very least, criticized Aden!” Blane said.
“Yes, I can’t imagine why they didn’t tell you,” Heather said with a laugh.
With her laugh, there was a sound in the nursery where the little children were sleeping. They fell silent for a moment to see if the sound would turn into something more. When nothing happened, Jill shot a look toward Katy’s room where Tink and Katy were sleeping. The girls hadn’t stirred since going to bed early after spending the day horse riding with Abi and Fin. Jill wondered if she should wake up Tink to see Sissy.
“We’re taping,” Jacob said to her thought. “She can watch tomorrow.”
Jill nodded. Tink hadn’t been able to go to New York this time because she was scheduled to see her biological brother on Sunday. The boy had very strict foster parents. Tink could only see him once every six weeks. They’d canceled the last visit only an hour before. Tink didn’t want anything to get in the way this time..
“Sissy is so beautiful,” Heather said and pointed.
“It’s surprising, isn’t it?” Jill asked.
“Why surprising?” Blane asked. “She’s been gorgeous as long as I’ve known her.”
“We …” Jill pointed to herself and then Heather, “ … have known Sissy all of her life. She was not what you’d call a pretty baby.”
“And the eating disorder that seemed to never end,” Heather added.
“I think it’s …” Jill pointed to the screen where Ivan leaned over to kiss Sissy.
“Of course,” Heather said.
Jill and Heather smiled at the screen. Jacob and Blane knew better than to interrupt.
“I haven’t known her long …” Sam said, “ … but just in the time I’ve known her, Sissy has blossomed. It’s lovely to see. And her dancing …”
“Wow,” Delphie said.
“She’s a lot better than she was even before she was shot,” Jill said with a nod.
“Hard to believe,” Heather said.
Her hand instinctively went to the scar on her neck.
“It’s Ivan,” Delphie said. “Both his love and his instruction. She’s also more fit. She dances almost all day now. Just that focus makes a big difference for someone as talented as she. Your grandfather is helping them both heal, Jill. You should be proud.”
“What did we miss?” Fin asked as he materialized in the kitchen.
He opened a cabinet and brought another box of Cap’n Crunch over. Abi and Edie materialized where he’d been.
“Get the milk,” Fin ordered.
“Get it yourself, asshole,” Edie said.
Scowling, Fin snapped his fingers and milk appeared on the table. They’d been called to the Isle of Man for an emergency meeting.
“Any pizza left?” Edie asked.
“There’s a cheese keeping warm in the oven for you and Abi,” Jill said.
Edie nodded and got the pizza. Abi took down plates from the cabinet. For a few moments, Fin shoveled down cereal while Abi and Edi ate pizza standing up.
“What was the emergency?” Jacob asked.
He nodded to Edie and Abi. Jill and Heather moved over to make room for them.
“Nothing,” Fin said. “This is why they are so angry.”
“She wanted to see Abi’s child,” Edie said. “Compare Abi’s baby to her baby.”
“You didn’t bring her,” Blane said. “She’s asleep with the others.”
“Now you know why my sister and my beloved are so cranky,” Fin said with a nod.
“We gave her child the appropriate fawning,” Abi said. “What else could she want?”
“We’ll be raising her soon enough,” Edie said in a low voice.
Fin growled like a dog, causing Sarah and Buster get up off Jill and Jacob’s beds to come see what was happening. The dogs sniffed around before Jacob got them to lay down by the fire.
“Wasn’t Mari pregnant?” Heather asked. She watched a look pass from Abi to Edie. “What was that?”
“Oh, Mari,” Edie said. She raised her eyebrows. “She …”
Edie shook her head.
“My sister, Mari, hates our mother,” Fin said with a mouth full of Cap’n Crunch.
“Manners!” Jill said in a joking tone.
“Forgive me,” Fin said. He chewed until his mouth was clear. “I am battling a horrid taste in my mouth.”
“Mari didn’t want to be pregnant when her mother was pregnant,” Abi said. “As Fin says, Mari hates her mother and the court. She was virtually trapped there for more than a hundred years before Jacob reunited Fand. She understands the court and her mother better than any of us do.”
“Was she there?” Jacob asked.
“We were recalled to court,” Fin said. “Of course, she was there. She took the brunt of mother’s wrath.”
“As usual,” Edie said.
“Why would she do that?” Sam asked.
“Mari gives out what she gets,” Edie said, with a nod. “Seemed to me like Mari was hoping to make mother ban her from court for a while.”
“Why would she want that?” Jill asked.
“Mother is insane,” Edie said. “Mari has a chance at a true and happy life. She doesn’t want to lose her life for more bullshit from the court.”
“Are you in the middle of this?” Blane asked.
“Mother ignores me,” Edie said. “After all, I am unmarried and spend my days with infants. Quite an embarrassment.”
“But James …” Jill started.
“Marriage to a human is not a marriage,” Edie grinned at Jill.
Heather burst out laughing. Grinning at Heather, Edie sat down on the couch next to Jill.
“Did Mari get what she wanted?” Sam asked.
“Mari always gets what she wants,” Edie said with a nod.
Edie pointed to the screen where Mari was standing next Otis. As if Mari knew they were watching, Mari winked and blew a kiss in their direction.
“She is banned for time undetermined,” Fin said.
“A week. No more,” Abi said. The other fairies looked at Abi. “It will be a week before we are dragged back there again to discuss Fand’s child.”
Abi shook her head and walked away from them. Fin hopped to his feet and jogged to catch up to her. Abi looked up at him and nodded.
“Please,” Abi said.
Fin looked at Heather.
“Will you come with me?” Fin asked. “I will need your help.”
“Of course,” Heather said.
Heather walked in his direction and they disappeared.
“What was that?” Blane asked.
“They are going to get the child,” Edie said. “Abi can’t tolerate the way my mother treats her children. One way or another, she’s stolen every one of us away from our mother. She used to place them with our father’s human families, but who knows what she’ll do this time? Probably give her to me.”
Edie wrinkled her face and looked at Jill.
“Will that be okay?” Edie asked.
“We’d be happy to help,” Delphie said. “That’s what family does. We help each other.”
Her look shot daggers at Jacob and Blane. Joking, Jacob grabbed his heart as if she’d stabbed him.
“Why won’t you help me with the Fires of Hell?” Delphie asked.
“The timing is not right, Delphie,” Edie said.
Delphie looked at Edie in surprise.
“Yes,” Edie said. “It’s we fairies that advised Blane.”
Abi squeezed on the couch between Sam and Delphie.
“The timing is wrong, dear Delphie,” Abi said. She put her arm around Delphie. “You will open this thing and …”
Abi shook her head.
“Let it rest for a while,” Abi said. “That way it won’t know we’re coming.”
“But you will help me, right?” Delphie asked.
“Of course,” Blane said with a nod. “That was never a question.”
Jacob nodded in agreement. Jill clapped to encourage Delphie and the woman grinned.
“Speaking of help,” Blane said. “I have another question for you, Delphie.”
“Oh?” Delphie asked. She gave him a sly smile. “How might I help you?”
Jacob burst out laughing and Blane smiled.
“I was thinking about my mother, you know,” Blane said. “And how everything happened and all.”
“I spoke with Heather about it,” Delphie nodded to acknowledge that she knew that Hedone had dropped him off at the hospital.
“Yeah,” Blane nodded. “I was just … Well, I was always told that Jake had a curse on him. That Celia was only able to give birth to him because you helped. There’s this whole story of being chased around the house and the gargoyles destroying everything and …”
Blane nodded to finish his statement. Delphie didn’t respond for a moment.
“What was your question?” Delphie asked.
“How did it happen that you and Celia were in the hospital where my mother gave birth?” Blane asked. “It can’t really be both.”
“You’re right,” Delphie said. “It isn’t both. Let’s see …”
Delphie’s head tipped to the side while she thought about the memory. Sam shook his head at her delay.
“Celia gave birth and went to the hospital with Jake,” Sam said. “We all went. Delphie saw your mother there. I brought Valerie to see the baby.”
“Not much of a mystery,” Sam said.
“I was making him wait!” Delphie exclaimed.
“Don’t you think he’s waited long enough?” Sam asked. His voice was gentle but Delphie teared up.
“I’m so sorry, Blane,” Delphie said. “I …”
“I deserved it,” Blane said. He gave Delphie a bright smile.
“They kept Jake and Celia a while because of the drama around his birth,” Sam said. “They were there three days?”
Sam looked at Delphie.
“Four,” Delphie said. “Celia was pretty beaten up. Jake, too.”
“It’s awful to say, but I’d hoped they would do a hysterectomy,” Sam said.
“Really?” Jill asked, horror struck.
“I know,” Sam said. “I just didn’t …”
Sam teared up and nodded. Delphie put her hand on Sam’s leg to steady him.
“We didn’t want to lose her, Jill,” Delphie said. “She loved children and wanted many.”
“She would have loved a night like tonight,” Sam said. “All those little kids asleep in the nursery; Katy and Tink in her room; these kids on the television … This would have been a really great night for her. The fact that we get to do it so often …”
“She loves that,” Delphie said.
”We just have to be glad she can be with us in whatever way she can,” Sam said. “It’s generous of her to spend so much of her afterlife with us.”
“I don’t think she’d have it any other way,” Delphie said with a smile.
Sam put his arm around Delphie, and she leaned into him. A few minutes later, there was a bright golden light in the kitchen.
“Heather?” Jill asked.
The light dimmed showing Fin and Heather. Abi jumped up and jogged to him. He held out the infant in his arms. Abi took the child from Fin and nestled her into her arms. For a moment, Abi looked down at the baby.
“We will call her …” Abi fell silent. “What shall we call her?”
“By her name?” Jill asked.
“She has no name,” Abi said.
“Zaidi,” Fin said.
Abi gave him a soft smile and a nod.
“Our daughter’s use name will now be Zoe,” Fin said.
“That’s good because I couldn’t being to pronounce her name,” Jacob said. He went to Abi. “May I?”
He held out his arms for the infant.
“Of course,” Abi said. “We will raise them as twins.”
She set the baby in Jacob’s arms.
“Will you ever tell them?” Blane asked. Having just sorted out his own birth mystery, there was an intensity to his question.
“We won’t keep it a secret from the girls,” Abi said.
“Never,” Fin said.
“Then …” Blane started.
“This lie is for the mother,” Heather said. “She won’t remember that she had this child. She’d already forgotten the child when we got there.”
“How could she …?” Jill asked in horror.
“She’s an interesting creature,” Abi said. “You should meet her sisters — other than Liban, of course.”
“Oooh look!” Jacob said. He pointed his chin toward the television and walked back to his seat with Zaidi.
They turned to watch Sissy and Ivan dance together. When the dance was done, the child called Zaidi wailed for comfort, waking the other babies. With so many babies, all of the adults sprang into action. It took a while to feed and comfort the infants and get the new child settled in with Zoe, Abi and Fin’s child. A kind child, Zoe put her arm over Zaidi’s shoulder to welcome her to the family. They returned to the sitting area some time later and the party at the Imagine mosaic was over. Everyone had gone home.
“Time for bed,” Jill said. “You are all welcome stay here. We’ll have breakfast here in the morning.”
Nodding, Fin clapped his hands and the couches turned into a queen sized bed. Edie went to her room. Blane and Heather took the apartment that used to be Jacob’s.
The night was over, and their tribe had expanded by one. All in all, it was exactly what Celia would have wanted. Sam kissed Delphie’s nose and they left for the Birch colored room.
Sunday morning — 8:01 a.m.
New York City, New York
Sandy and Nash stepped off the elevator and tapped on the door to Ivan’s floor.
Sandy tried the knob and the door opened. Sticking her head inside, she saw that the entire loft was filled with ballet dancers on cushions and under thick blankets. Sandy pointed to Nash. There was an open path along the side of the room that would take him straight to Nadia’s room. Nash nodded and worked his way to the opening. Sandy watched him wistfully. He disappeared into Nadia’s room.
“Sissy?” Sandy whispered.
No one stirred. Sandy picked her way through the sleeping dancers toward the kitchen. She stood there for a moment trying to decide what to do. She was about to creep out when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Startled, Sandy gasped and turned. Sissy was standing behind her.
“Sissy!” Sandy said in a whisper.
Because Sissy was so tall now, Sandy had to stand on her toes to hug her. The sisters held each other close. Sandy felt a hand on her back. She let go of Sissy to hug Ivan. He kissed Sandy’s cheek, yawned, and retreated to the back. Sandy watched him go.
“That man …” Sandy gave a low whistle appreciative whistle.
“You must be exhausted,” Sissy said.
“I’m sixteen, well, almost,” Sissy said. “I have lots of energy!”
Goofing around, Sissy made a big yawn and a stretch. She grabbed her side for the effort and grimaced. Sandy smiled.
“You ready?” Sandy asked.
Sissy nodded. The sisters thread their way through the sleeping people and left the apartment. Sissy grabbed a jacket and her clogs at the door.
“Where to?” Sandy asked when they were alone at the elevator.
“There’s a great place on the corner,” Sissy said. “I’ll show you.”
“My New Yorker sister,” Sandy said.
Sandy took Sissy’s elbow and they went into the elevator. They went out of the building and stood on the sidewalk.
“Is it always this crowded?” Sandy gestured to the people streaming around her.
“It’s Seth’s concert,” Sissy said. “All those people upstairs … They would be home if they didn’t think we could get them into the concert. Nice to be connected.”
“It’s not just another dumb concert?” Sandy asked.
“It’s totally another dumb concert,” Sissy said with a laugh. “The best, best, best thing about it is that I get some time alone with you!”
Grinning, Sandy took Sissy’s arm. They walked together to the diner on the corner. Inside, they put their names on the list.
“Do you have diet restrictions?” Sandy asked when they entered.
“From Ivan?” Sissy asked. Shaking her head, she said, “Not after last night. I was told to eat up because we’re likely to dance tonight.”
“Oh?” Sandy asked.
“All those dancers, the space at the park,” Sissy said with a shrug.
“Can you do that?” Sandy asked. “You’re still healing!”
Sissy held up her hands to Sandy’s worried questions.
“I will make sure to take care of myself,” Sissy said. “Please … Can we talk about something other than what I’m eating and how sick I am? I feel like I’m ninety!”
Smiling, Sandy nodded. The hostess called their name and they took seats along the window.
“This place is owned by Otis,” Sissy said. “You know Auntie Jill’s grandfather. He was at our house and saw the spot.”
Sissy pointed to where Mari was standing next to the counter. She came over to say “hello.” They talked for a minute before Mari left them to themselves. They ordered breakfast before they lost the server. Sandy was doctoring her coffee while Sissy was sipping green tea.
“I still hate coffee,” Sissy said. “Most ballerinas live off the stuff.”
“Alex Hargreaves,” Sandy said.
Sissy laughed at the mention of their wild soldier friend.
“How were the whales?” Sissy asked.
“I took a few billion photos,” Sandy said.
She took her phone out of her pocket and showed Sissy. They chatted about kayaking and whale watching until their food was delivered. Sissy liberally doctored her pancakes. Sandy knew this ploy. Sissy loved to doctor food that she never ate. Sandy finally relaxed when Sissy started eating.
“I wanted to talk to you …” Sissy said.
Sandy stopped eating to look up. Her mind raced with possibilities. Sissy was pregnant. No, she knew Sissy had the implant because she’d put it there herself. Sissy and Ivan were getting married. Sissy and Ivan were breaking up. She wanted to come home. Sissy was sick or needed money or …
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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