Chapter Fourteen

Paislee crept upstairs later that night. She had so much to think about, and the last thing she needed was a confrontation with her mother.

Meria on the other hand, was already in bed with Daniel.

“I’m ready.” She said to him.

“And I know you’re telling the truth, but I feel weird about taking your virginity while your mother and grandmother are down the hall.” He kissed her forehead. “Can you forgive me?”

“Of course I can.” She curled closer to him. “I’ll miss you tomorrow.”

“Why would you miss me?”

“Daniel, you can’t be here when Emil shows up.”

“Why not? I can’t just stand by and watch you get hurt.”

“And you think I can watch you get hurt?”

“You know I can take care of myself.”

“Against humans and mortals. Emil is a Demon now. And we don’t know what he’s capable of. Please, promise me you’ll stay away from the house until I call you.”

Daniel turned over and looked at her for a long while. “I’ll do this for you. But afterwards, we revisit the topic. Agreed?”

“Absolutely.” She kissed him. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

***

The next morning was stressful for everyone. Ahmeline and Terahni stood over the stove in the kitchen, waiting for the binding potion to change scent. Daniel and the twins went into the minor kitchen to eat and hide from the ugly truth. Their mother was choosing a man over her daughters and this time it would be final.

“Gryn said it wouldn’t take long, he should be here in an hour or so.” Paislee poured all of them some orange juice. “The potion should be ready by then.”

“That’s fine. After that it’ll just be a bunch of busy work.” Meria sighed. “Do you think being acquainted with us was fated?”

“What do you mean?” Daniel asked.

“Well, what are the odds that my sister would date a man who became a demon?”

“Like maybe we were meant to deal with him?” Paislee asked. “Yeah, I’ve been wondering the same thing. And it would surprise me if that were the case. Bright side?”

“What?”

“Since he was so freaked out abut me being a witch, he didn’t learn anything about us or our houses magickal defenses. We should be fairly well shielded.”

“You’re just glad that you have somewhere to direct your anger.”

“Shouldn’t I be happy about that?” Paislee smiled.

“Happy about what?” Flora walked in, and grabbed an apple. Daniel filled her in. “Paislee, you should ABSOLUTELY be happy about that. Speaking of, how are you handling everything? This is one hell of a whirlwind.”

They all sat down at the table.

“Honestly? I’m more depressed about mom than about Emil. We had fun together, he made me happy. But it was easier to handle him being a demon because I knew our relationship was already over. First he refused to accept me, then I find out that he’s cheating. And to top it all off, he’s a demon? I mean, I’m sad and all that any of this happened. But it isn’t my fault that he is who he is. A man like that, I don’t think I’d want to spend the rest of my life with him.”

“And Gryndle?” Daniel asked. “What about a demon already made? Could you be with him?”

“Yeah sis. What about Gryn? The last couple of days have been fun right?”

Paislee looked at everyone and narrowed her eyes. She knew an ambush when she saw one. “He’s kept me busy. Gryndle’s a really-”

“Don’t say he’s nice Pais.” Flora laughed. “You like him. Admit it already.”

“Ok, yes. I like him. I-”

“Like him enough to date?”

“Do you guys want me to tell you how I feel or which one of you will win the bet?!” Paislee stood up and walked into the parlor. The other three followed her. “Don’t you all think it’s a little too soon to plan my wedding? Gryndle and I are just friends. He’s nice. I need nice right now.”

“You’re lying.” Meria tugged on her sister’s hair. “You’ve thought about it. We all know you well enough to know that you  don’t make decisions slowly. We just want to know if he’s your next target.”

“He’s not a target. He’s a person, and one of our friends.” Paislee looked outside.

“Uh oh…” Flora said. “She’s holding back. She REALLY likes him.”

“We’ll finish this later.” Paislee walked toward the front door.

“Oh man.” Daniel pretended to whine.

“Don’t worry Daniel.” Flora said. “She’ll admit that she’s falling for him. Gryndle’s finally got her full attention.”

“Crap.” Meria hissed. “He’s outside right now.”

Daniel responded with a shrug. “He probably heard everything we just said.”

“Yes! He did!” Paislee yelled back. “Way to be!”

Once the door closed behind her, Gryndle noticed that three pairs of eyes were glaring through the window. “We have an audience.”

“Are you surprised?”

“Not particularly.” Gryndle looked at his Paislee, feeling more attached than he was used to. “Perhaps we should discuss the business at hand before any personal conversations.”

“That sounds like a good idea. So mom’s potion should be done within the hour. She’ll be mortal by noon. After she’s in the cab and down the street, we’ll work on the rest of our defenses and potions.”

“I assume you want me to lure him to the back yard?”

“That would be best. If you can’t get him there, we’ll just widen the illusion.”

“Will you be able to do it?”

“What? The illusion? Of course we will.”

“Not the spell. Killing him.”

“If he’s a demon, he’s in our jurisdiction. If he’s trying to kill us, then he’s fair game. I don’t really have to rationalize this too much.”

“But emotionally, you’re attached.”

“Not as much as I could have been. I think I’ll be fine.” Paislee stared off into space for a second. “Now, maybe we could take a walk?”

***

“Alright, we’re just waiting for the mix to cool.” Ahmeline poured the potion into a mug. “Here sweetheart.”

Daniel was up stairs getting his stuff and Flora was putting some of the ingredients away.

“Mom,” Meria started. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“My heart isn’t in the magick, I’m not sure if it ever was.”

“But this is part of who you are.”

“You know why I’m doing this. I don’t need magick. But I do need your father.”

“For once, mother.” Meria touched her mother’s hand. ” Just once, stop referring to him as our father. He’s not ours. He’s your husband. That’s it.”

“He’s your father, Meria. Whether you talk to him or not, his blood is yours.”

“Never mind.” She looked at the mug on the table between them. “It’s cooled enough.”

“Where is Paislee?”

“She’s still outside with Gryndle.”

“But it’s been a half hour.”Tera complained.

“Oh I’m sure she’ll be spending more and more time with him.” Meria said, making Flora smile.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Now she’s indulging his fantasy? He’s fun to have around, but I don’t want a demon for a son!”

Paislee walked through the kitchen door. “That’s not your decision!”

“So what, you’re going to date him because I disapprove?” Terahni stood up, prompting Flora and Ahmeline to leave them and Meria alone.

“Why can’t you see me as an adult? I’ve been making decision for myself for years. So has Meria. We do what we want.”

“And you think you’re capable of making these decision for yourself? Emil wasn’t a bad enough idea?”

“You liked him when you thought he was human! He cheated on me as a human! He tried to kill Charlotte as a human! Your bias towards humans is natural, but don’t impose those views on me!”

“And you couldn’t even find a human worth having! Not like your sister. She’s found a good man to take care of her.”

“You will not use me against Paislee.” Meria stood up. “You want to be mortal. Fine, be mortal. Yes. I picked Daniel and he picked me. Because we’re in love, not because he’s human, we’re together.”

“And I am so proud of you for it. But Paislee, you’re now picking a demon?”

“I haven’t picked anyone. And you like Gryndle. Why is his demon blood an issue now?”

“I thought it was cute, he was like a lost puppy. But to indulge his obsession is dangerous. Anything could happen to you. He’s a demon. You can’t trust him.”

“He’s been a friend to this entire family and the Clans for years. He’s never taken a life, not human or otherwise. And right now, Gryndle has been more tolerant and honest than my mother.” Paislee’s fingers started to singe. “Magick isn’t a priority for you. Neither is your family. You don’t want this life for yourself. So take your damn potion and go back to that jerk you married.”

“Don’t talk about your father that way!”

“He’s not my father. When are you going to figure that out? He hasn’t said two words to either of us in years. We owe him nothing. And once you take that potion, I may owe you less.”

“How dare you!”

“What? Admit to myself and to you that you’ve disappointed me? That I can’t depend on you for anything? I love you mom, I really do. So does Meria. You know that we love you, and that this is hurting us. But you don’t care. You came here, dropped a bomb on us, outed Flora, insulted me and now you’re insulting Gryn behind his back. On top of which, Meria and I should be focusing on dealing with Emil and all you want to do is fight about my relationship with you and your husband? We can have that discussion at a later date. But right now, you need to take the potion and leave.”

“I’m so disappointed in you.” Terahni picked up her mug, and drank it. Once she’s swallowed the last of it, Terahni’s de bhua flickered and disappeared again. “It’s time I was going.”

Terahni walked out of the kitchen. Meria sat Paislee down at the table. “This is for the best. She didn’t respect her gifts.  She never did.”

“I know. And I know that she’s going to do what she wants, just as we are. But that doesn’t mean I have to be supportive.”

“That’s also true. You and will just have to-” Meria tried to touch Paislee but couldn’t. Paislee’s skin was too hot and Meria could see the flames lick her cheeks. “What?”

“No!” Paislee stumbled to her feet and tried to run to the front door.

“What did you see!?” Meria helped Paislee get there.

“Emil’s here. Now!”

“Regroup for a sec. I’ll go ahead.”

Leaving Paislee to lean against the wall in the hallway, Meria ran outside and saw Daniel hugging her mother goodbye.

“Mom! Get back in the house! Daniel you too!”

They both stood there looking at her, but Flora and Ahmeline immediately began to pull them closer to the door. Gryndle, who was was looking over the backyard, came running from the side of the house on all fours. His tail was unwrapped and shirt off revealing claws and scales running up his arms and torso.

Terahni didn’t make it to the front step before a force pulled her to the ground. Both her legs snapped and she let out a shriek. Daniel picked her up and ran into the house, he felt something whisper at his back, but realized the air bent around him as Paislee and Meria erected more shields.

Paislee ran out tossing potions at everyone but Gryndle. “Daniel, take mom through the Fey door. They can help her there.”

“Take care of my girl!”

“I can handle myself!” Daniel heard Meria scream right before he passed through the wall.

“Plan?!” Ahmeline yelled to Paislee.

“Get the barriers up around the property and work on a blocking potion inside. His telekinesis might be too powerful. Flo, throw as many illusions as you can around him when he appears. I want him to think the world is spinning under his feet. Then when you’re done, go find Charlotte and keep her safe. Meria, what do you think. Capture? Or kill?”

“His powers had to come from somewhere. We should find out more before we try and destroy him.”

“Damn. Capture then. Gryn-”

“I’m not leaving you.” He was crouched a few feet in front of her and Meria, prepared to pounce.

“I don’t want you to. Try and sense any specific demon blood if you can. The more we know about him the easier this will be.”

“Oh nothing about this will be easy Paislee.” Said Emil as he walked up the path. “Imagine my surprise when I got Hell and found out that you’re family is famous there! They all hate you in Hell.”

“We’re well aware of that fact. And we’re damn proud of it.” Paislee snapped. Flora’s illusions went up. The twins and two demons stood in the eye of a tornado. There was no manor for Emil to find.

“That wont keep it hidden forever.”

“Why are you here?”

“My Brethren filled me in. Your family has been the curse of Demons in this city for generations. I have many allies in Hell.”

“What happened to you Emil?”

“I came into my own is all. And it feels great. So whose legs did I break? I wasn’t looking. Was it Daniel? Your grandmother? I was aiming for you baby.”

You will not address her so!” Gryndle growled.

“The traitor. Now that I know what you are, I’m a little confused. Why would a demon so powerful choose to consort with these whores?”

Gryndle started to leap, but he felt Paislee’s hand on his shoulder. Emil took another few steps. “Oh sure, and you let her hold your leash?! This is shameful.”

“I would gladly let her hold my leash. The Aynton’s lord over demons like you!”

The grin on Emil’s face vanished, replaced by a snarl of his own. “I hope I have the chance to choke the life from you.”

Paislee looked at her ex and was never more glad that she didn’t giver her heart to him. “Why are you here?”

“To cause you pain Paislee. And I’m not done. Not by a long shot. If you come with me now, I’ll take good care of you.”

“Over my dead body!”

“What about you Meria?”

Meria responded by dousing him in water. He looked at her, the water dripping from his hair, and the water pulled itself from his body, falling to the grass.

“One of you will join me. It’s only a matter of can go find your mother somewhere.”

“You will not touch another member of my family!” Paislee yelled. She grabbed Meria’s hand and screamed. “Now!”

Fire and water shot from them respectively, wrapping Emil in a ball of swirling energy. But before they could converge, Emil managed to dispel the enchantment, sending himself flying back.

The three of them followed him out of the illusion so that Ahmeline could fortify the grounds behind them.  But Emil was gone.

End Chapter

ALMA © 2013

Chapter Thirteen: Planning Stage

“I’m just saying-”

“Exactly what are you saying dear?” Ahmeline asked of her daughter.

“Why are the girls turning to Gryndle? He can’t protect us.”

Terahnie and Ahmeline were sitting in the kitchen, looking over the binding potion. Ahmeline looked at her only daughter. This is the way of her. She wants nothing to do with magick, but she can’t help but push her opinion. 

“This is just typical of Paislee. She can’t just stay away from demons.”

“Gryndle has been friends with the girls for years.”

“And whose choice was that? Was it Meria’s? No, it was Paislee’s idea.”

“Actually Aunt Ter, it was Gryndle’s.” Flora came in, passed up the pitcher of mimosa and went straight for the milk. She poured herself a glass and sat down with them. “Meria and Daniel should be down in a sec. They didn’t go out of their way to befriend a demon. He came to them for help hiding from his father. You know why they helped him and why they kept him around afterward.”

“He’s still a demon. And his inexperience almost makes that worse.”

“Child,” Ahmeline started. “They may not be as subtle as we were, but they are the new generation. This is the way they want to do things? We’re going to be supportive.”

Meria and Daniel came down, and joined the conversation.

“Mom, you have to trust that Pais and I know what we’re doing. Gryndle is a great ally and a wonderful friend.”

“I’m sure he is, he’s such a sweetheart. But that doesn’t mean she’s not going to wake up one day and realize that Gryndle is a mistake.”

“Whether he’s a mistake or not is Paislee’s business, not ours.” Meria smiled. “I think she’s used to having him around now.”

“Honestly?” Flora laughed. “I’m pretty sure Gryndle is part of her destiny. I think it’s grand that she doesn’t shy away from  her path. We should be happy that she’s not running away from it, don’t you think so Aunt?”

“You’re one to speak, Flora!” Terhani snapped at her. “I bet they don’t even know you’re pregnant. Been hiding that dear? Why don’t you stop shying away from your own destiny? Go back to your world and take care of your own business.”

Everyone looked at Flora. The smile she wore fell quickly and she was a little dazed from the whiplash of her Aunt’s pretty speech. “Thank you for giving me the spotlight. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She stood up and headed to her room.

Ahmeline looked at her daughter. “I see much of Rhyzard in you. You used to care about whose feelings you hurt, you used to recognize that you’re still part of this family only because we all love you. You’ve known that girl since the day she was born and you just cut her down. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this disappointed in you.”

“She needed to be told what’s what.”

“Perhaps she did mom.” Meria said. “But not by you.” Meria left Daniel at the table to fend for himself while she went up to walk to her cousin.

“Flora?” Meria knocked, then let herself in. Flora’s room was not what you’d expect from a genuine Fairy princess. All of her furniture was painted a dark, muted purple and her accent colors were charcoal and black. The only pink was in her wardrobe. Flora was sitting against the headboard of her bed, crying. “Are you ok?”

“I have no idea.”

“She didn’t mean to-”

“Didn’t she? I know, I know. I guess I wasn’t ready to tell you guys because I didn’t want it to be real.”

“Having a baby? Or going home?” Meria nudged her cousin. Flora smiled a little.

“It’s a girl you know.” Flora touched her stomach. “I felt her the day after her conception. I want her. I know I do. I just don’t want to be queen.”

“That’s not really true either is it?”

Flora closed her eyes. “You know how I feel about having my future decided for me. It’s just not fair.”

“Babe, you’re the princess. You want to rule. You feel that pull every time you go back. You want to be queen. You always wanted that. You just don’t like that every one else already expected it of you. ” Meria laid down, putting her head on Flora’s shoulder.

A Fey prince or princess was given leave to live in the human Realm after completing their training. As long as Flora visited regularly, and came back during times of crisis, she was free to live among the other mortals on Earth. But as was tradition, Flora had to go home before she gave birth. When a fairy is born of the royal bloodline, there is a magic flare and it lasts until the child’s de bhua. Flora would remain a permanent resident of the Fey Realm after that. The pull to rule was strong, and the longer Flora stayed in the Realm, the more likely she was to take the throne. She knew it couldn’t and shouldn’t be fought.

“I just don’t want to leave you guys. You’re my family.”

“The portal will always be open to you, you know that. Besides, Paislee and I are going to be godmothers right? We’ll be there more often than you seem to think.”

“And what about Andreu.” Flora sighed and ran her fingers through her hair.

“He’s the father.”

“Do I tell him? Do I pretend that someone else is the father? Do I say goodbye?”

“How far along are you?”

“Fifteen days.”

“Ok, well you’ve got some time. Do you want her to know her dad?”

Flora was quiet for about a minute. Do I want her to know him? Do I want him to know her? How do I know he can handle the responsibility? Or rather the lack thereof? “I’m not sure. But I want to give him the option.”

“Then I suggest you talk to him. Tell him you’re pregnant and then once he recovers from the shock, you can decide whether or not to tell him about the magick and you being a fairy princess.” Meria laughed.

“You make it sound so easy.”

“In a way, it is. If he freaks about you being a fairy then you know he can’t be in your daughter’s life. At least not until she’s old enough to control her powers and go looking for him.”

“Ugh. Humans. So set in their ways. Daniel being the obvious exception.” Flora sniffled a little before getting up. “Alright, let’s go down. I have to make nice with Tera.”

“Yes, and I have to save my guy from the Aynton matriarchs.”

***

Gryndle walked Paislee partly through the forest path in silence. He knew he had to let her speak first. Something else was bothering her. Don’t say anything. Let her talk.

“Well, mom came home today.” Ah-ha.

“You don’t sound excited.”

“Little irritated I think. I don’t know. I guess I’m sad too.” And Gryndle knew it was true. It was coming off of her in waves.

“Tell me why?”

“Mom is…she’s binding her powers. She says she wants to be human, but I think it’s more that she wants to please my father. After this, the only thing she’ll be able to do is recall the marks of her de bhua.”

“But-”

“How could she do this to us? We barely see her. We barely have anything in common with her now. When Meria and I were afraid, when we couldn’t control our powers, when we started dating, we went to Ahmeline. Mom was never there. Is it too much to ask for a relationship with at least one of my parents? How can she do this to us? To me? My whole life I was taught that my powers and being a witch is part of who I am. It’s part of what makes me an Aynton. She’s one of the women who taught me that. She’s taking her heritage away.  And I’d still be alright with her decision if not for the fact that the more time she spends away from us, the less like our mother she becomes. She’s taking away my mother.” Paislee broke down. “Gryn, I just don’t understand.”

“She loves your father.”

“My father? Hmmph, yeah right. How could I forget? When we were twelve, he told us that w couldn’t use magick, talk about magick or read or write about magick in his presence. You have any idea how hard that was? She and I were only three years into our apprenticeship. All we had was magick. We had to be home schooled that year because we couldn’t control ourselves. He knew that. Did she stand up for us? No. She told us to curb our powers. At that age, it would have stunted out abilities. When we refused, she left with him. She chose him. She chose him and she continued to choose him. And now?” Paislee was sobbing so hard she stopped walking. He held onto her, letting her cry into his chest.

“I can’t imagine choosing anything over my own children. But I know what that feels like. Rhoatharg always chose power over me. I think he only kept me around so as to steal the powers I’d inherited from my mothers. I knew you had issues with your father. I didn’t know Miss Terahni was the cause.”  They stood there together for a good long while. Gryndle broke away first. “Come, let us get you home.”

Paislee sniffled and smiled a little before they continued walking. “Right, I guess I should have seen it coming. She curbs her powers when she’s with him, and she’s always with him.” They went back to small talk until the stepped through the portal.

“You know,” Gryndle laughed. “We really need to stop bonding over a walk between worlds.”

“Oh I don’t know. It feels ok to me. Bonding is bonding right?” she sighed. Paislee looked down the street towards her driveway. “Actually, you’re right. Maybe after we go talk to them about the Emil thing, you and I can go get some ice cream tonight?”

Gryndle wasn’t fooled. He slit his eyes and looked at her. “You just don’t want to be around your mother.”

“You’re absolutely right. Do you mind?”

“Not a chance.”

“Is it strange? You seem to have become my shrink.”

“It’s a little strange, but I think it’s good.” Gryndle slowly pulled her down the street. “You confide in me because you trust me. You’re the first person to trust me.”

Paislee  smiled and linked her arm with his. When they arrived, Paislee went inside and brought everyone out. Terahni, Ahmeline, Meria, Flora and Daniel all trailed behind her.

“Gryndle, dear.” Terahni threw her arms around him. “How are you? It’s been too long.”

As long as it’s been since you last saw your family. “How are you Miss Terahni?”

“I just couldn’t be better. Ahmeline filled me in. So how are you going to help us fix this?”

“‘Us?’” Paislee snorted. “Mom, you’re binding your powers tomorrow. You have to leave before we even start. You can’t help.”

Excuse me?” Terahni looked at them. Before Paislee could say anything, Ahmeline spoke.

“Sweetheart, Paislee’s right. Once you’re mortal, you’ll be defenseless. We can handle it without you. Why don’t you go check on the potion. You know how careful we have to watch it.”

“Fine.” Terahni pushed her hair out of her face and looked at Paislee. “We’ll talk about your attitude later.”

“Don’t hold your breath.” Paislee muttered as her mother walked back inside. “Anyways. Gryndle has agreed to go into Hell and lure him out.” she turned to Gryndle. “Exactly what are you going to say to get him so angry?”

Gryndle smiled and looked up at the sky. “I don’t know. I thought maybe I’d tell him about all the time we’ve been spending together and how we slept together. And the way you confide in me…”

“Oh geez. Forget I asked.” She laughed and then looked at everyone’s faces. “Seriously! I did not sleep with him! We slept next to each other!” They kept smiling. “Move on. Now!

“I have to say,” Daniel said. “This is great. You know, I’ll take that bet. Put me down for two weeks.” He looked at Flora who giggled and shook her head.

GUYS!” Paislee turned red and a small burst of flame came out of her mouth. Gryndle looked at Paislee, concerned about her lack of self-control.

“Bet?”

“It’s not important.” She waved it off.

“O….k…. Once I find him, I’ll do everything I can to anger him. It shouldn’t be that hard. It takes at least a few months to control the rage for the weakest of demons. But he’ll zero in on you, most likely here.”

“We’ll be waiting.” Ahmeling nodded.

“I would also suggest making sure that woman is safe.” He said, causing everyone to turn and look at Paislee.

She sighed. “I know. You guys better not make me be the one to cast that spell. I’m not sure if my heart will be in it, and I don’t want to risk her safety because I’m still mad at her.”

“I’ll do it.” Flora laughed. “Between Benji, Andy, Daniel and I, we’ve taken revenge. I’m sated.”

Ahmeline said good night and went inside.

Gryndle noticed Flora’s scent was different. “Lady,” Gryndle always called her Lady, in honor of her title. “Congratulations.”

Flora blushed a little. “You can tell?”

“I can also tell you the sex if you so desire. But yes, I can smell the hormonal shift. Again Lady, congratulations!”

“Thanks Gryn. It’s a girl, fairies can… sense their babies within a day of conception. It’s a fairy-life thing.” She laughed.

He nodded slightly, in deference, before sweeping her in a hug. When he put her down, he resumed speaking. “I’ll leave right after Miss Terahni takes her binding potion tomorrow. I assume she’ll leave afterwards and will be well out of the way by the time Emil comes after you. Deal?”

“Deal.” Paislee said. “Now I need to borrow the ladies. Daniel, you remember Gryndle? Chat for a minute while I steal them.”

Paislee started crying a little, congratulating her on the pregnancy. The girls hugged it out and started gabbing while Daniel and Gryndle got acquainted.

“I don’t kill.” Gryn started.

“I’m sorry?”

“I just wanted you to know that although I’m a demon, I have never taken a life. Not another demon, nor human, Fey or Gypsy.”

“You don’t have to explain yourself brother.” Daniel held out his hand. “If Meria trusts you with her sister, that’s more than enough for me.”

“Thank you.” Gryndle said surprised.

Daniel glanced back them and caught a snippet of conversation.

I swear I didn’t sleep with him!

He looked back at Gryndle. “No offense, but you look human. Is that natural?”

“Some demons are made looking human. I was not.” He pulled off his hood and raised his sleeves. “The tail you saw before. That’s part of the Panthera demon heritage. The scales are dragon and the ears are lupine.”

“So you’re a lion wolf dragon demon?”

“Partially. I know I have Siren, kraken and banshee. The rest of my powers haven’t surfaced, and it’s those traits that tell me what other blood I may have. I had three mothers after all.”

“You lost me. But that’s ok.” They were both laughing when the girls came back.

“Ok, you two have fun. We’ll go back inside.” Meria said hugging Gryndle good bye. “See you tomorrow.”

“Congratulations on your engagement.” Gryndle said hugging back, while shaking Daniel’s hand.

“Thanks.”

“Later guys!” Flora hollered from the doorway. They all watched as Paislee and Gryndle walked to the car.

End Chapter

©2012 Alma

Chapter Twelve: Conflict

Paislee was again walking the winding path through Gypsy Forest. She’d been spending more and more time there. Rationally, she knew why. But she didn’t really want to admit it to herself. It was also hard to think about what happened before she ended up here. And soon enough she’s be having a rather awkward conversation.

“Paislee?”

Too soon.

“Gryndle, how are you?”

He waved her off. “Never mind me. How are you?”

“Actually, I’m holding on by a thread. But I’m here for a reason.”

“Well don’t let me stop you, I’ll just leave you-”

“Gryn, I’m here to talk to you. It’s important.”

She could tell he was confused and slightly pleased, which made it all the harder. “Emil is …”

“This is going to require sustenance. And perhaps a little sun. Come, I shall escort you to the clearing by the stables. Perhaps we may persuade Treseda.” He linked her arm in his and gently tugged her along. Treseda met them there.

“Paislee, perfect. I had a feeling I’d be seeing you today.” Treseda turned to the young girl standing behind her. ” Tell them Paislee is with me and Gryndle at the stables and that you’re sent to fetch food.” The girl bowed and ran off.

“She’s cute Aunt. New disciple?”

“She just stated today. Her name’s Chiesta. Cute thing. Alright Gryndle, would you be a darling and help me sit down?” Gryndle waved his hand for her and a cushioned chair appeared. He took Treseda’s hand and helped lower into her chair. “Thank you.” Paislee and Gryndle settled in the grass, letting the sun wash them over.

“You look comfortable. But you’re huge! Weren’t you due like yesterday?”

“Oh please! It’s only been nine months.” Treseda laughed. Her comment sparked more confusion for Gryndle.

“I thought pregnancy lasted only nine months.”

“Human mortals have nine month pregnancies. Gypsy and Fey have ten month pregnancies.” Paislee corrected him. “Don’t ask me why, and don’t ask Tres. She’ll just give you a Dei’s answer and we don’t have the time.”

“Too right.” Treseda quipped. “No explain everything to me. What’s going on?”

“After Emil left my house yesterday, he met up with Charlotte. And she dumped him. And in a fit of rage it sounds like, he tried to run her over with his car. She’s in the hospital but she’s expected to make a full recovery, she was barely clipped. But right after that, Ahmeline found out that it triggered his demon blood. A lineage I doubt he was even aware of. Apparently he’s going to be a huge threat. But we can’t find him anywhere which means he’s in Hell. ” Paislee looked at Gryndle. “I was hoping you might be able to find him.”

Gryndle looked worried, but not surprised.

“You knew he was a demon?” she asked.

“No. He had a strange scent, but it was faint. He was human when I caught his scent. But something else was there. And it’s not the first time a man became a demon through trigger.”

“Please, can you find him?”

Treseda looked at her niece. “Just how big of a threat is he supposed to be?”

“Ahmeline was tapped.”

“Ah.” Treseda looked pensive and far away.  And Gryndle spoke to Paislee.

“You know, when you said you’d come visit me, I never thought it would be to ask me to sniff out your boyfriend.”

Paislee stiffened. “He’s not my boyfriend anymore.” She tried to shake it off, and pushed him lightly just to kid. But he noticed that her smile didn’t reach her eyes.

“I didn’t mean to-”

“No worries, really.” Paislee plopped her head down on the grass. “I told you before, I’ll be ok. Honestly, I’m sorry about even asking. I wish I didn’t have to think about him, let alone seek him out.”

“I can’t imagine being in your situation. I fell in love with an Aynton. A paragon of good!

“Hmmp. Oh yeah? And how’s that working out for you?”

Gryndle nodded his head back and forth a little. “Well, she just got out of a bad relationship. I want to be there for her, but I don’t want to get stuck in the friend zone.”

Paislee had a split second to decide which route to take. And as usual, reckless beat out cautious. “Somehow, and I could be wrong, but I doubt she’ll see you as just a friend forever.”

It had been a while since Paislee blushed over a guy. So soon after her breakup, she thought she’d mind. Paislee was surprised to find that she didn’t mind at all.

“I’ll take it.” Gryndle smiled a little. Then he thought moe about the task at hand. “His scent felt familiar. Almost like family.”

“Do you think you’re related?”

Gryndle scoffed at Treseda for asking. “I certainly hope not. But it’s possible. At the very least, his blood comes from one of the older, more powerful clans. For me to sense it when it was supposed to be dormant, means it’s strong. I should be able to lure him out. But he’ll be gunning for any and all his enemies. My guess is that you’ll be number one, Paislee.

“Just a sec. Let me see if I’m following.” Treseda said. “The man has an affair, of which you’re the other woman. Charlotte, his first girlfriend, separates from him. He gets so angry that he tries to kill her with his automobile. The act of violence towards a human life triggered his latent demon blood. But now he’s somewhere in Hell and off your radar. And you want to get him out in the open so that you can assess the situation. And he’s reportedly an extreme threat. But you have no idea why or how?”

“Yes.” Paislee replied.

“And when you said that Ahmeline was ‘tapped,’ you meant by the Proether didn’t you.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Those Proether are just so helpful.” Treseda said with a sigh. Gryndle’s ears twitched.

“The Proether? They’re real?” He was surprised. As a demon, he’d only heard of the Proether in legend. And he’d never heard them mentioned by the Clans or the Ayntons. “Is it true that they’re angels?”

“Well, no. There are angels, and you’ll see them rarely. Proether are Pan Realm beings. They have the blood of all races. Demons, Gypsy, Human, Fey and the so-called Fifth Race. Supposedly.” said Treseda. There was sarcasm in her words, a tone Gryndle was not used to. Naturally he needed more clarification.

” ‘Supposedly’?”

Treseda sighed again. She hated this story. “The lore is that a witch fell in love with the son of a fairy and they had a child. That offspring eventually coupled with the offspring of a Gypsy and a demon. All that I can believe. But then the lore says that the resulting child grew up to couple with a member of the fifth race and spawn a child of their own. That offspring grew to adolescence and grew too powerful and had to isolate his or herself. The sex of the child changes depending on the legend. But it created its own Realm, where it could grow to maturity and exist as it so chose. And now, supposedly, any child born of all five races goes there upon receiving their power and from there, meddle in the affairs of others as they see fit.”

“Wow. That’s just bizarre.” Gryndle laughed. “Demons have a similar story actually. There is no fifth race. Any creature born with the blood of all four races can access a reservoir of power which allows them to create a new ring in Hell. Apparently that’s why there are seven known rings in all. There could be more, but no demon has been powerful enough to create an eighth ring or search for one. Rhoatharg believed that he could eventually do it, but I for one am glad he never got the chance. But it’s fascinating that there really are Proether.” He looked at them. “And I can tell from your faces that you aren’t exactly pleased with them.”

Paislee started to speak and had to stutter a few times before she  could get out what she wanted to say. “They interfere whenever they want to. As far as we can tell, it’s been in favor of good and not evil. Ahmeline seems to be their favorite contact that we know of.”

“But?” he asked.

“But Proether have deemed the Gypsy Clans almost complete unworthy. My Grandmother was the last of all the Gypsy Clans to be tapped.” said Treseda.

“Ahmeline is contacted regularly. Meria has been tapped several times as well. Even I was once. Mom? Never, but she never cared anyway. The Fey are also tapped , not as often but still. The Gypsies? Never. And from what anyone can tell, their only reason is that Gypsies consort with known demons.” Paislee added.

“But demons are the fourth race? Anyway, I’m a demon, Paislee. We’ve been friends for years.”

“Yes Gryndle, darling.That might be why she’s only been tapped once. But you’ve never taken a life. Your aversion to killing has made you almost a non issue.” Treseda said as she motioned for the young Chiesta to set down the tray of food. She bowed and took her seat behind and to the right of her mistress. “The general consensus is that because Gypsies have looked after ourselves, turning to whomever we need for help (demons included), the Proether don’t need to help. But as a race? We are very sensitive about the subject.”

“You seem angry.” He looked at the Dei.

“We feel shunned. If the Proether are part Gypsy, why would they intentionally shun us?”

Paislee realized that the conversation was headed in the wrong direction. “Anyway, the Proether showed Ahms that Emil was becoming a demon and that he was going to be one of the biggest threats we’ve ever faced. He’s our responsibility. We have to stop him.”

“Ok. Then I’ll go searching through hell for him. Once I find him, the easiest way to get him back to the human Realm is to make him angry enough to hunt for his enemies.”

“You can’t just bring him back?” Paislee asked.

“No. A demon can be dragged back to Hell. But no demon can be pulled out of Hell.” He took a bite. “For a demon, Hell is Sanctuary.”

“Is Hell Sanctuary for you?” Paislee asked.

“I feel a pull, certainly,” he shrugged. “All demons feel attracted to Hell, especially the ring on which they were born, hatched or spawned.”

“Which circle most pulls you?” Treseda asked. “Honestly, I never thought about it.” Truthfully, Paislee hadn’t either.

“I was born in the human world as you know. But when I was raised in Hell, I felt the pull strongest to the seventh ring. Rhoatharg said the seventh ring was his clan’s home, and in turn, mine.”

“And the seventh is the most dangerous.”

“True. But that’s not the point. The point is that I can find him, and I should be able to drag him out. But it’s going to take me a few days. I can traverse all seven Realms. But it would be best if I start at the highest, the weakest ring and work my way deeper. Like I said. He’ll be after you.” He spoke to her, looking into her eyes. He found worry. For Emil? For herself? For him? He couldn’t tell. “Will you be ready?”

“Pfft.” She rolled her eyes, breaking their gaze. “Of course I wont be ready. We have no idea what his powers are. But we wont know until we meet him on a battlefield.”

“I supposed that’s true.” Treseda ate some duck, a napkin daintily placed on her belly.

“Gryndle,” Paislee started. “Are you sure you can do this? I mean if you get hurt-”

“Please.” He reached for her hand. It was for me! She’s worried. “Paislee, I wouldn’t do this for anyone outside of your family. Treseda, no offense.”

“None taken darling. I know how much you hate Hell.” It wasn’t his hate for Hell which drove him, it was his love of Paislee. But none of them were going to quibble too much about his reasons for helping.

Gryndle turned back to Paislee. “You are a witch, a great force of good. Your ex could be a great force of evil. And he may be a terrible demonic threat to you personally because you broke up with him. We need to make sure that you’re all safe. I personally need to be sure that you are safe.”

“Thank you.” She got tears in her eyes.

I have to make her laugh. “Lo and Behold!” Gryndle exclaimed, raising only his other arm, not letting go of his love. “This demon is doing something for the good of an Aynton! When has that ever happened?”

He did a good job of making them both laugh. They finished the food, and got ready to go. While Gryndle helped Treseda out of her chair, Chiesta gathered the tray and napkins. It took them a few minutes to get going. The Dei hugged them both, bidding each good day and waddled back to her Claeren with Chiesta asking her questions the whole way. Gryndle and Paislee headed back to the Portal.

End Chapter

Alma ©2012

Chapter Eleven :Battles Long Since Lost

Flora rolled out of bed, tiptoeing as she went. Paislee was still knocked out when she left. She heard Meria and Daniel talking in their bedroom as she walked down the hall towards the stairs.

“I don’t want there to be a problem.”

“Then we’ll make sure there isn’t.”

“Daniel, you don’t understand. Mom and Paislee only get along when they’re casting together. For her to come here to tell Paislee that she’s binding her powers is almost like signing away parental rights. They have nothing in common. Not any more.”

“You can’t let your sister’s relationship with your mother…”

Flora had heard enough. In fact, she’s heard the argument more times than she could count. And it was always true. Tera was a free spirit, she went where her heart went. That had always led her from the family, into Ryszard’s arms. For the most part, everyone accepted it as fact. But Tera didn’t. When she was home, she expected to be treated as a mother. Tera always wanted the respect and influence that came with being the twins’ mother. Out of the three, Flora noticed that Ahmeline was the best at accepting Terahni’s behavior. Flora surmised that this was because she was Tera’s mother and had complete authority as matriarch. And Meria was most often contented with just having her mother around. Sometimes, Meria would get angry, but she rarely let anyone see it. But Paislee? She was constantly at odds with Terahni. This time would be no different, in fact, it would be worse.

Flora headed into the minor kitchen, she could already smell the coffee coming from that direction. Ahmeline had an ice pack wrapped around her leg and she had the spoon stirring her steaming mug by itself. It was a spell the twin’s had yet to perfect. She looked up at her old protege.

“How are you dear?” Ahmeline said as Flora kissed her cheek.

“I’m feeling a little off, but I’ll be ok.” She got a mug and poured herself a quarter cup of coffee, filling the rest with skim milk.

“I saw your father this morning.” Ahmeline motioned for Flora to join her at the table. “Their lives will only distract them for so long. You need to tell the girls soon.”

“I’m not ready.”

“Get ready. You’re running out of time.” Ahmeline never was one to sugarcoat anything.

“How’s your leg?”

“It hurts like hell in the mornings. But I’ve been walking a little easier each day.”Ahmeline took a sip of her coffee before looking at the clock on the fair wall.

“What time is she coming?”

“She should be here by noon.”

Flora nodded. It was just past eleven. If the house was going to survive this visit, Paislee needed to be as relaxed as possible. “Well then,” she said filling an orange cup with milk. “I’ll just go get her ready.”

“Thanks doll.” Ahmeline went back to focusing on her coffee.

Flora padded up the stairs, passing Meria and Daniel on the way. When she got back to Paislee’s room, she heard the groaning. Opening the door, she saw Paislee, still face down on her bed, sluggishly forcing her left leg off the edge. It was still dark in the room, which just wouldn’t do. So Flora set the milk on the night stand and brusquely opened the curtains, revealing warm sun. It was the sun that began to really wake her up. She gurgled before sitting up.

“What’s in the cup?”

“Milk.” Flora watched as Paislee sucked it down. “Tera comes home in a less than an hour.”

“Is that your way of telling me to curb my powers?”

“Damn straight.” Flora smiled. “Come on, get dressed. I’ll stay up here with you.”

Paislee took a shower, letting the night before wash off her skin. She thought about her mother. She was excited to see Terahni. They could work on the handfasting, and she could ask her mother about a few spells that were proving difficult. But she’d always been a little critical of her eldest daughter, blaming Paislee for the twins’ inability to communicate with their father. Paislee’s was the more adamant voice of the two and that convinced Terahni that Meria followed her sister’s orders (of which there actually were none) in place of their mother’s. Paislee promised herself that she would do her best not to start trouble with Terahni this visit. While she dressed, she half listened to Flora, instead concentrating on her other dilemma. Emil was in the wind and as witches they were banned from hell, not that they ever wanted to go there. But if Emil was such a threat that they needed to find him, there had to be a way… maybe there is a way.

***

“Oh Gods! I can’t believe my baby’s getting married!” Terahni was squeezing Meria so hard she would have turned blue, had she not already been. “And to such a handsome man!” Once she set her sights on Daniel, there was nothing he could do to avoid being pulled into a hug with his beloved and future mother in-law.

Paislee and Flora came down as soon as they heard the front door open. All six of them were still hugging and chatting in the hall for about ten minutes before they moved into the kitchen. Paislee had pulled her mother towards the stack of papers and pictures for the handfasting. The onlookers took the chance to exchange a few words.

“Terahni said that she wants the binding by tomorrow night.” Ahmeline said.

“That potion takes a full twenty four hours.” Meria sighed. “She’ll have to tell Paislee before you start making it.”

Daniel looked worried. “Why exactly are we walking on eggshells about this? Paislee can handle it.”

Ahmeline spoke before anyone else. “Normally, you’d be right. But Paislee’s powers are expanding, just like Meria’s.  They’re both seasoned witches, but during expansions they lose control just like fledglings. And it’s always worse when they’re under emotional distress. “

He started to put it together. “So everything that happening with Emil is making her more volatile?”

“Yes.” Meria said. “And since Gryndle had to curb her powers, they’ve been in flux. She’ll need another couple days to balance them back out.”

“So why didn’t Terahni just wait a few days?” Daniel was starting to get frustrated. Flora put her hand on his shoulder.

“Because Rhyszard expects her back in two days.” Flo scoffed. “She’s never put anything on hold for him. She’s never going to.”

“At any rate,” Ahmeline started. “She’s telling her at lunch. We should probably get cooking.”

***

They all sat down at the dining room table. Flora took a sip of her orange juice, listening to the conversation. She was normally a very outspoken person, but when Terahni came home, Flora tended to listen and observe. As calm as everything was, she felt Terahni squeeze her hand under the table. And when she looked into her aunt’s face, she saw too much. The woman knew, and she was thrilled. This is not good.

As soon was there was a lull in the conversation, Terahni turned to her daughter. “Paislee, I have something to tell you.”

“Hmm? That’s fine, I have a few spells I needed help with. I-”

“No sweetie, this is something I have to say now. I’m here for a reason.”

“I know. Meria’s engagement. But the spells wont take long.”

“I came to bind my powers.”

Paislee closed her eyes and began retreating into herself. Please tell me she didn’t just say that. Please tell me this isn’t happening.

“Did you hear me? I’m binding my powers, tomorrow night. And then I leave the next morning. “

Paislee still couldn’t open her eyes. She felt the fire in her simmer, getting a little warmer.

“Paislee? I know this may come as a shock to you but it’s a decision I have to make for myself. After my run in with Rhoatharg, I think it’s warranted. And your father-”

“Don’t you dare.” Paislee opened her eyes ad looked at her mother. “Don’t bring that man into this.”

“I know you’re upset about Emil but I won’t have you speak of your father that way.” Tera tried to touch Paislee’s hair. “He loves you.”

Paislee immediately got up and took a few steps towards Meria who was sitting on her other side. “Love me? He doesn’t love me. And it wouldn’t matter if he did. He doesn’t call, he doesn’t write. I haven’t seen him since I was thirteen. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know me or Meria. And he’s not the issue here.”

“Dear, you’re overreacting.” Tera took another sip of her wine. “Just sit down and relax. This isn’t a big deal.”

“Oh it isn’t is it?” Paislee’s hands were smoking a little at this point. “No big deal? You’re effectively becoming mortal. Don’t you get it mom? The only thing I have in common with you are our magickal gifts. You take that away and we’ll have nothing, no common ground.”

“That’s just ridiculous. Mom told me you’d over react, but had I known you’d behave like this I would have had her tell you when she told Meria and Flora.”

So that’s it.They’re all worried I’ll freak because of my history with her and my Emil issues. Well, they were right. “This isn’t about what happened with Rhoatharg. You healed faster than Ahms is now. No, this is about pleasing Rhyszard.”

“You call him dad or father, he doesn’t like his daughters to call him by his name.”

“If this were about reovery and retiring from active magicks, you’d curb your powers. You’re permanently stripping you powrs because you want to be his full time wife. Right?”

“Paislee-”

“Answer the damn question!”

“Yes.” Tera snapped back. “Yes, I want to be able to be with him all the time, I want to make him happy. He’s my husband and I love him. Why shouldn’t I do this for him, it’s not like I need my magick.”

“Your power is part of who you are. It’s part of who we are as Ayntons.”

“I am Mrs. Tera Stanislaus. I don’t need my magick and I don’t want it. And that’s final!”

“Right. Because what he wants is more important than what your daughters want, or need.”

“Don’t make this about you. Sounds like the last week has been all about you. And if you or Meria paid any attention to anyone else in this family, you’d notice that Flora is pregnant!”

Daniel looked at Flora, and then at Meria because he could tell she was also losing her temper. Flora sighed and started to silently cry.

“Wow Terahni.” Paislee spat. “Meria and I already knew. We’ve known since last night at dinner. We were waiting for her to announce it, because it is her life and it was her secret.”

Flora stood up, and walked upstairs. Which prompted Meria to speak.

“Mom, I love you. But that was childish. You embarrassed you niece. You accused your daughters of being thoughtless and self absorbed. Emil is a threat to this whole family so yes, we’re all worried about Paislee’s ex. And Paislee is the one helping me plan my wedding, she’s put her family first this whole time. If you’ll all excuse me, I need to go check on Flo.”

“Tell her I’ll check in on her a little later. I know she’ll want one on one with us both.” Paislee called as Meria rushed out. She turned back to her mother. “How dare you!”

“Enough! I wont let you talk to me this way.”

Let me?!I don’t need your permission to do anything, say anything or be any certain way. I’m an adult. And if you acted like one, you’d realize that what you just did was horrid.”

“The Princess will be fine. Flo’s always been level headed, not as much as Meria but I see that has changed.”

“You don’t get it. And I can’t make you see how any of this is bad.” Paislee turned to Ahmeline and Daniel. “While I was getting ready earlier, I thought of a way to get Emil out in the open. I’ll be on the Mountain working on that.” Paislee walked upstairs to Ahmeline’s room and walked through the mirror.

“After all this time…” Ahmeline started.

“After all this time they still have a flare for the dramatic?” Tera laughed. Daniel cleared his throat and then took his plate into the kitchen, where he would stay until Meria could come fetch him. He knew that was safest.

“No child. After all this time, you still don’t know anything about your daughters. They both love you dearly. But you chose a man over your own kin.”

“Mom, he’s their father. They should be happy that I’m happy.”

“And they are. But that doesn’t change the fact that you act like you deserve their respect. Respect is earned. You should know that. I taught you, just as I taught them. And for you to be here not three hours and insult them all, insult the birthright you passed to them and demand their submission is so disrespectful that had you not been a member of this family, I would turn you from the house. I love you. When they come back, apologize. To EACH of them in turn. And keep your irritating disdain to yourself.”

Ahmeline cleared the dishes and disappeared into the kitchen to challenge Daniel to a hand of poker.

End Chapter

Alma ©2012

Chapter Ten: Another Turn of the Screw

Paislee ran straight up to her room when she got in the door. She watched as Gryndle walked down the street towards the nearest portal. He had a goofy grin on his face.  But when she turned back to her bed, she saw the picture she had of herself and Emil. She couldn’t help but feel the pain. She was in her bedroom, that still smelled of his cologne. How could she not feel his absencePaislee didn’t have to hear the click of the door to know that her sister had walked in.

“Are you ok?”

“Of course I am.” She sniffled a little, choking on the words. “Well, I will be in any case. He was just so wonderful. I’m just angry that I didn’t have any idea what kind of jerk he’d turn into.”

“Would knowing have honestly made you feel better?”

“Ha! Totally not.” Paislee finally turned around to face Meria. I know she knows how sad I am. And I know she knows that I’ll stop now. I just have to stop. And I’ll be fine. I just need her to say something to get my mind of him. Paislee knew that if she cried again, she’d truly be disappointed. In herself.

“And I know what game it will take to get my older sister to come out and play.”

Paislee saw the look in Meria’s eye. “What did you have in mind?”

“I was thinking…. oh…. maybe planning a wedding?!”

Paislee lit up and climbed over her bed to sit next to her twin. “Shut up!”

“But how will we plan my wedding?”

“When the hell did you get engaged?”

“Last night.” Meria spoke again before Paislee could apologize. “I’m thinking mermaid style. Come on, Daniel’s got the lemonade flowing down there. Ahmeline already added the vodka. And we’re waiting for you to join us so we can pick a date.”

“That’s great!” Paislee took in a deep breath. “Ok, let me shower and change. And I’ll be right down with my sketch pad.”

“We’ll be waiting.”

Meria smiled as wide as her mouth could allow before closing the bedroom door behind her. She skipped her steps to the kitchen. Ahmeline stopped her before reaching Flora and Daniel.

“I need to borrow you darling.”

“What’s up?”

“I talked to your mother. She said congrats.”

“That’s good…” Meria waited for the rest.

“Your father got on the phone and had a few things to say as well.”

“Do I even want to know?” She felt anger. Being protective of her relationship with Daniel meant the anger was probably healthy. That didn’t mean she wasn’t ashamed that it was directed towards her father. Typical. He’s an ass, and I’m ashamed. Daddy’s little girl and all. Ugh.

“He said that while he commends you on finding a human fiance given your defect, he hopes that you’ll follow in your mother’s footsteps.”

“What? And live a half magick life?”

Ahmeline hesitated. “No. To bind your powers.”

She absorbed her grandmother’s words. Hoping desperately that she’s heard wrong, she seriously doubt that Ahmeline was going to quip with a “just kidding.”

“Mom is binding her powers?” Meria whispered.

“She’s on her way back now. She’ll be here either tomorrow or the next day. I convinced Tera to tell Paislee herself, to try and explain. She hopes that you can accept her decision.”

“I don’t have a choice. I never thought she’s actually do it.” Meria took a mental moment. “Was there something else?”

“Flora told me about Paislee’s vision of Emil.”

“It’s not a problem anymore.”

“It might be. Emil’s not human.”

“Excuse me?”

“While you were upstairs, I received word from a Proether. He’s not human, or at least he wont stay human for more than another day.”

“He was tapped?”

“About ten minutes after Paislee came inside. I don’t know what triggered his powers, but they’re there. And it’s a good bet that he had absolutely no idea.”

“What do we do?”

“I already scryed for him. He’s not on this plane anymore. Tonight, go out with Flora and Paislee. Daniel and Flora already know and we’ve agreed that your sister doesn’t need to know until he resurfaces.”

“I’ll consider it, but you know I hate keeping secrets from her. And this one is huge. Don’t you think she’d be better off knowing now?”

“I think she needs time. “

“That’s not who Paislee is. You know she can handle this. And it’s dangerous not to tell her that a man who now hates her has been tapped by demon blood.”

“Just wait.”

Meria headed to the kitchen, Ahmeline went back to her room for more delving.

“Yay!” Flora clapped. “Welcome back!”

“It’s certainly good to be back.”

“How is she?” Daniel asked, slipping his arm around Meria’s waist.

“She’s hurting, but she’ll be ok.  She’s handling it better than her normal speed.”

“And Gryndle has nothing to do with that, I’m sure.” Flora swished the ice in her glass.

“It has everything to do with Gryndle. But Paislee was never one to mope. And nothing pleases her more than designing bridal attire for family.” Meria got in a few kisses from Dan.

“So long engagement or short engagement?”

Meria looked at him with pity in her eyes. “Oh sweetheart, please just remember that you asked for this.  Flora and Meria watched as Daniel started to put the pieces together. He still wasn’t grasping it, so they spend the next twenty minutes explaining it to him.

“Exactly how much aspirin am I going to need?” Daniel groaned.

“So it clicked?” Paislee bounced into the room in jeans and knit poncho. “I’m thinking three months, five at the max.You guys just let me know what colors and scheme you want, and I’ll send out the invites!”

After a light lunch and more planning, Daniel finally had enough. “I need some air. I’ll see you ladies tonight after you get back from dinner.” He kissed Meria deeply, and pecked each of the others on the forehead. “Tell Ahmeline I said goodbye.”  And he left.

***

Paislee headed in to work to check on the progress of her new line. Right after she left, Meria and Flora had a discussion.

“I don’t know if I can NOT tell her.”

“If Tera wants to be the one to tell her, that’s her business.”

“Right. And what about Emil?”

“Ahmeline thinks we should wait.” Said Flora, gathering the sketches of bridesmaid dresses.

“She’s wrong.”

“You don’t know that.”

Meria stared at her cousin. “Of course I know that! And so do you. I’m telling her tonight.”

Flora sighed and smiled. “Well I guess I can support you. We’ll tell her together. So far has anyone been able to find him?”

Meria shook her head. “He’s in the wind. He’s not on Earth and the Clans sent word that no new presence has been felt on the mountain.”

“My Fa says Emil isn’t back home either. So he can only be in one place.”

“Great.” Meria said, standing up. “That’s just peachy.”

***

At work, Paislee busied herself and made final touches to all of her garments. As it stood, she and her staff were ahead of schedule. She took all of the clothes for the upcoming show and locked them in her vault. As she locked it behind her, Andreu came into her office.

“Oh my god. Paislee, I really need to talk to you.”

“What’s up? Are you alright?” She asked him to sit down but he was too nervous, so she led him to the couch and they sat down together. “Look, if this is about your agent I-”

“No, no. It’s not like that. I tried to call Charlotte to finalize the release from my contract. But a detective answered the phone. He was looking for anyone who had information on the whereabouts of Emil Karim.”

“Excuse me?”

“All he would say was that Emil tried to run her over with his car this morning. I gave them your name. I figured-”

“That as his recent ex, I’d have some ideas?”

“I’m sorry.”

“No Andy. It’s ok and I understand. I assume they’re on their way here?”

“They’re actually on their way up.”

“No problem. I’ll help in anyway I can. Why don’t you get back to work. If Charlie’s in the hospital, then you’ll need a lawyer to help you finish conducting your contract release. Flo has the name of our lawyer. He’ll help you out.”

“Thanks.” Andreu took a long, deep breath and then left her office. Two minutes later, a couple of detectives knocked and walked in.

“May I help you gentlemen?”

They went through the motions. When was the last time she’d seen Emil. What was his state of mind? Did she know of anyone who’d want to hurt Charlotte? What was her relationship to both parties? How upset was she at Emil?

Paislee answered every question honestly. She left out nothing but her family secret. She was given a card and told they’d be in touch. She walked them out after offering coffee. From what she gathered, Emil met up with Charlotte right after he left Paislee and Gryndle in front of the house.  Charlotte may even have been in his car waiting for him. She probably dumped him and he got upset and tried to run her over. After calling one of her friends at the hospital she found out that Charlotte took some damage to her right side, but that she would recover in a few weeks.

As Paislee drove home,  she tried to reconcile the two personalities she’s seen in her former lover. The Emil she’s known all these months was kind and sweet. He was the man she’d dream would be her future. And in a matter of two days, he was a cheating, lying jerk with homicidal tendencies? How could I have been so wrong? Why couldn’t I see it? For all she now knew about the man, it had to be true. She knew that he was an asshole and she felt that he was an asshole. So why can’t I just accept it? It’s too soon. The switch was too fast.

Paislee took the long way to the restaurant. Whenever the three girls wanted to celebrate something, they’d come to this tine Italian bistro on the East side. The food was always divine and they had a table reserved if they wanted it. Meria and Flora were just ordering a bottle of wine and a set of cocktails when Paislee plopped into the empty chair. They tried to smile. It didn’t work.

“What’s up this time?” Paislee said, taking a sip of her vodka tonic.

“How are you?” Meria asked.

“I got a call from Andy. Cops huh? Gross.” Flora said.

“Oh yeah. Just so much fun.” Paislee knew they wanted to hear from her first before she’d get any answers out of them. She told them about the interview and then she gave details. “I was just thinking about it on the way here and I can’t for the life of me reconcile the two. Am I the only one who thinks there is something really odd about the way he snapped? There was no warning. And right before that, his personality just morphed into something hideous.”

“Was was with Charlotte the whole time.” Flora said. “He was always hideous. We just didn’t know.”

“Still,” Paislee snapped. “It’s weird.”

Flora and Meria looked at each other before looking at her. “Ok seriously guys. What aren’t you telling me?”

“Sis, Ahmeline was contacted by the Proether and she found out that Emil has been tapped. He’s become a demon. We think that his attack on Charlotte triggered his transformation.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Paislee jammed her cocktail straw into the lime slice in her drink. “When I saw a fireball being hurled at him…it was because he’s a demon.”

“Ahmeline found out earlier today, but we weren’t sure if we should tell you just yet.” Flora took the liberty of passing her slice of lemon to Paislee. “Tomorrow, we can figure all this out. Your mom moved up her time table. She’ll be here tomorrow. But tonight? I think it’s best that you two get smashed and toast Meria’s engagement.”

Paislee sucked down her drink and then drank a glass of water. She knew the buzz felt different when she was sad or worried. So after that glass of water, she pushed her feelings aside. If she was going to get drunk tonight, it would be in honor of Meria and Daniel. “Flo, you’re absolutely right. So! Tell me, what kind of flowers did you decide on?”

The bachelorette party was planned. More wedding details were made. White lilies and lilacs were chosen. The dresses would be floor length and midnight blue. Flora and Paislee weren’t exactly surprised. The jewelry-silver. The wedding dress-mermaid and diamond white. The handfasting was yet to be determined.

After the twins were good and plastered, Flora packed them into the mustang and drove them home to Daniel and Ahmeline. While Daniel sweetly put his darling to bed, Flo and Paislee passed out in her bed, clothes still on.

End Chapter Ten

©2012 Alma

Chapter Nine :Pouring Water on a Grease Fire:

“Gryndle?”

“Yes, Paislee?”

“What’s going on?”

Paislee was being carried through the Gypsy Forest.

“I’m taking you to Treseda’s house.”

“I feel so weak.”

“I drained you.”

“Oh right.” Paislee closed her eyes and started to cry.

“It is painful to see you so broken down and over another man.”

“Gryn…”

“Any fool who is lucky enough to be singled out by you should treat you with the utmost respect. This man can go to hell.”

“Urrr. You’re right. I know you are. Gryndle, I thought- oh never mind what I thought.”

“What? Nothing you think could be stupid.”

“Pfft. I thought he would be my one and only.”

“Alright. That is a little stupid.” He chuckled a little, laughing.

Paislee smiled in response. It wasn’t for him, but still.

“I love to see you smile.”

“But its dark.”

“I can see in the dark.”

“That’s fancy.”

“I try.”

“Mmmmmrss.”

She fell asleep and he raised his body temperature. He knew from years of experience, that Paislee was happiest in sweltering heat.

“Gryndle?” Treseda met them at the square. “Meria told me what happened. Come, you both need rest. You can stay in her room, keep hold of her.”

Treseda led them to Paislee’s bedroom, she picked up the patchwork quilt.

“Lay her down on the left side.”

Gryndle did as told and watched as Treseda put the quilt over her neice.

“Go on. Lay next to her. Keep her warm.”

He held her in his arms, playing with her hair and wiping her make up off with a damp towel. “How could any man hurt her so? If I had been the lucky one…”

“Perhaps you were Gryndle.” She patted him on the shoulder and lifted the towel and water bowl. “I have known the girls since before they were born. For her to let you comfort her is proof of her trust. Just be you. That’s always been enough. Now I insist that you rest too. Hold onto her. Body heat is the best medicine, short of throwing her in the fire. It is good you were there.”

“I would never let anyone hurt her.”

“I know.” Treseda opened the cabinet on Paislee’s dresser. In it was a glowing orange orb. “This should help quite a bit.”

“Fire energy?”

“Yes. The orb will help revive her.” She set it so that it would spin. “It also plays melody.”

It wasn’t long before Gryndle fell asleep too.

***

The next morning, Paislee woke up to find Gryndle had wrapped his tail around her waist and had his hand tangled in her hair. But she was in her old room in Treseda’s Claeren, safe.

“Gryndle?” she yawned. All four of his ears perked up. He opened his eyes and she looked into them.

“Good morning?”

“Did you carry me all the way here?”

“Mmhmm. Sure did.” He sniffed the hair he had in his hand, and his nose twitched. She knew it was the wolf demon in him.It couldn’t be helped. The scales on the the back of his hand flexed up and down.

“I love that your scales are orange and red.”

“I guess the dragon blood did come in handy.”

“Thanks for bringing back to Treseda’s Claeren.”

“I would have taken you to your room but I’m not allowed in.”

Gryndle.”

“I know, I know.” He mumbled into her hair.

“Do you?” Paislee sighed. “You haven’t grown into all your powers yet. We both know you could die if the blood barriers sense any part of you it’s not incorporated.”

“Right.” He frowned, looking sullen and resentful.

“It has nothing to do with you being a demon. It’s about making sure you don’t burst into flames when you step into the foyer.”

When he still wouldn’t look at her, she touched his cheek.

“I mean it. Meria and I would be very sad if you died.” When she got a smile out of him she started to roll out of bed. “Why don’t you try walking me home again.”

“It was dark before. How will I hide my appearance?”

***

After Paislee drew up a sketch of the clothes he should wear, Gryndle conjured them from scrap cloth. He now had a simple, lose breathable beanie to hide his ears.He had a dark green zip up hoodie with long sleeve cuffs to hide his scales, and thumb holes to keep them in place. He had a black cotton patch t-shirt with a large embroidered flame on it in grey stitching. Basic faded blue jeans completed the look.

“You look good. Just wrap your tail around your waist and we’ll be good to go.”

“Do you wish I appeared more human?” Gryndle studied himself in her mirror. I wish I had learned living illusion spells.

“As if! Can you imagine anyone being a bigger fan of your scales? And the ears and tail are just plain cute!”

“Really?”

Paislee sighed. “Ready? Let’s go.”

They said their goodbyes to Dei Treseda, gave their regards to the Deir and Deira and headed back through the woods. Paislee and Gryndle walked back to the manor. Her footsteps felt heavier at each moment.

“He broke your heart.” Am I a bad person for hating him and not hating him?

“He really did.” She was silent for a moment. “I’m sorry that I’ve been unloading all this on you.”

I have to make her see.

Gryndle stopped her gently and looked into her eyes. “I am in love with you. I would do anything to ease the hurt.”

“Thank you.” Paislee hugged him while he had his face buried in her hair, he knew he had to make her laugh.

“Besides,” he said, squeezing her a little. “It’s my shoulder you’ve been crying on. Not that any of my behavior this past day has been selfish.”

Paislee laughed into is chest. But as she started to look up at him again, he squeezed a bit harder, growling in the tones of a siren’s bass. “That’s new. You don’t have to sing for me.” But she saw what Gryndle was reacting to. Like deja vu, Emil was walking up the sidewalk. Naturally, Gryndle caught his scent before Emil stepped into view.

***

“Hmm. What’s the wager on Paislee finally falling for Gryn?” asked Flora by the front window.

“You bet on your sister’s relationships?” Daniel asked. He was cuddling with Meria on the couch while Ahmeline set up the poker table.

“Yes, but she knows. I bet that it could take six months once she was single.” Meria smuggled into Daniel as she spoke. “Flo, I think your bet was three months.”

“Oh right. Ahm, what did you bet?”

“Hmm? A month.” The Aynton matriarch chuckled. “Why do you ask?”

“Because they looked really cozy on the lawn there a few seconds ago?”

“They’re back?” Daniel tried to strain his neck to see.

“And why hasn’t she come inside yet?” Ahmeline asked.

“Because they’re about to have a shouting match with Emil. I say we give them a few minutes before we decide to go ape shit.” Flora tugged Meria away from Daniel and into the kitchen.

“Lemonade?” That was Daniel’s suggestion. He shuffled off behind his fiance. My fiance! 

Ahmeline walked over to the front window and watched as Gryndle moved to protect her granddaughter. “Good girl Paislee. Just don’t fall too quickly this time.” 

***

Gryndle, who was always territorial when it came to Paislee, started seeing red. She touched his chest and sighed. Then she turned around, put her back to Gryndle’s chest and let him squeeze until he was sure she was safe.

“Can I help you?”

Emil took one look at Gryndle and stepped walking. “I wish I didn’t have to, but we need to talk.”

Paislee felt her voice pitch and Gryndle growled. Great. Just twist the knife, you asshole.

“Tell your little boyfriend to get lost. One freak is enough.”

“Did you not learn the first time?” Gryndle’s nostrils steamed.

“Not human at all, huh?” Emil almost took a step back, and they both noticed his hesitation. “Maybe that’s what you need.”

“You’re clearly not here to be nice. What could you possibly want now?”

“Charlotte.”

“Charlotte?” Paislee felt the rage rise in her again. “Let me guess. She’s worried that I wont talk to her anymore, personally or professionally? That I wont hire any of her clients?”

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“I need an answer.”

“The hell you do!”

“Yes.” Now he took another step. Too close. Gryndle flashed his claws and took a fighting stance.

“Gryndle.” Paislee nipped. It brought him back. Take your queues from her. Just wait for her signal.

Comprehension flickered across Emil’s face. “As in Beowulf? The monster.”

“He is NOT a monster!”

“Yes. I was named after my ancestor. Why?!” barked Gryndle. To defend her, I would kill him. I wont hesitate. But please don’t let me have to kill him. Please….

“Fuck this.” Emil walked back to his car. As he walked away, Emil felt something ice over him, not just rage. He just couldn’t identify it. Once he was gone, Paislee broke down again.

“He definitely didn’t deserve you.” Gryndle pulled her up and lead her to the front porch. He waited until she calmed down.

“You’ve been so wonderful.” There was a silent thank you added. Paislee knew he heard it.

“You deserve to be around people who love you. Maybe you should just let me follow you everywhere.”

Laughing yet again, she rested her head on his shoulder. They watched the cars pass by for a few minutes.

“I think I’ll be ok now.”

“What was it you told me soon after we first met? Ah. ‘I move fast. I burn off pain and sadness as quickly as I burn off carbs.’ Was that it?”

“Haha. Yes its true. I’ll swing by the mountain in the next couple of days. We’ll hang out before the next Clansmeet.” Paislee pecked him on the cheek and stood up to open the door.

“Maybe next time you can go out with me.”

“Maybe.” She smiled! This time he could swear it was just for him. And she was gone.

***

“This is all your fault!”

“Charlie bebe. We got caught together. By Benji. We’re both to blame.”

“But I’m the one who has to deal with the consequences!”

“What about my club? What about my studio?!”

“I don’t come from money Emil!”

“All of this was your idea!”

“And you just got caught up in the charade?”

“I chose you Charlotte! I always choose you. And now…” Knowing what I know about those crazy bitches. He tried to speak out, but his throat closed.

“And now?” Charlotte asked again, waiting for a response. But Emil couldn’t offer one. He tried, but his voice wouldn’t come. “Ugh. Now, I’m done.” Charlotte got out of the car and walked away.

For two years I let her pull the strings. I got involved with the Ayntons for our careers. HER IDEA! I put up with the games because she liked them. These freaks ruin my life. I’ll be DAMNED if she walks away too!

Emil turned on the ignition and hit the gas.

End Chapter

Alma ©2012

Chapter Eight: 6 pm to Midnight

“What’s wrong with Benji? I thought he just renewed his contract with Emil.” Flora put a cup of coffee in front of her favorite boy toy. She and Andreu had been lovers for almost three months and they enjoyed the companionship. Flora liked the friends with benefits angle. Especially since she had no romantic feelings for Andreu. But oh do I love the sex. And he’s not a bad friend.

“He did, and he came to see me. We were going to toast his new contract, when he realized he left his copy in Charlie’s binder.”

Flora said nothing, nor did she think she had to. There was no way this story ended well. And she had a feeling her cousin was going to pay the heaviest.

“He went back to the club to find the binder. It was still in the conference room, but when he inquired as to Charlie and Emil’s whereabouts, the bouncer said they’d gone around the block to his place.”

“Andreu?”

“He saw them in the window having sex. Geez they were in the living room, didn’t even care that the curtains were half open.”

“I have to go.”

“Go where? You can’t confront them!”

“I need proof!” Flora got up to leave.

“I already texted it to you.” Andreu smiled ruefully. He pulled out his phone. “I sent you this.”

It was Emil alright. And Gods help them if Paislee got to that phone before she did.

“Shit.” Flora snapped when she handed the phone back to him.

“I know it’s bad, but I figured you could soften the bow for Paislee. She’s the best designer I’ve worked with. And we’re friends. I really don’t want to lost my job, but I like the idea of losing a friend even more.”

“No. Its not that. I mean it is that.But-” She sighed. “If anything, Paislee will decide to deal with you directly. She’ll never fire you, and she cares about you too. I’m pissed because I left my phone at her house! And you know she’s got quite the temper.”

Flora kissed him on the cheek and squeezed his arm.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

“It’s ok Andy. Lock yourself out ok? I gotta mad dash.” And that’s what she did. It was a pity too.

***

“Tell me what’s bothering you?” The scales on the back of his hand rippled as he handed Paislee her first bit of food.

She bit back the words. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to tell Gryndle and get his advice. But he’d been in love with her for years. Sure, Gryndle managed to mask it fairly well but everyone knew. At first, they weren’t sure if he was stable and they were sure he wasn’t safe. The twins weren’t even sure they could trust him until Rhoatharg tried to kill him. It was Meria who bandaged him. But Paislee was the twin who fumed on his behalf. He was barely eighteen at the time, and she couldn’t see past the abuse long enough to accept that he was demon. By the time Meria and Paislee started to worry about his demonic upbringing, Gryndle was one of their best friends. Shy and kind; well most of the time. He had the masculinity of at least four different demon races, needless to say he was Mercurial at best. But he never took his anger out on a human. He’d never killed a human which is why Rhoatharg turned on him in the first place. He was in the midst of another power expansion, inhereting many of the skills Rhoatharg’s blood carried. He was tempermental and Paislee didn’t want to make his transitions any worse.

“You can tell me. Treseda said this was over a man?”

“Yes. I’ve been seeing this guy. Emil. I told him about being a witch.”

“He wasn’t supportive?”

“He blew up at me. “

“He what?!” Gryndle stared at her.

“Emil didn’t actually blow up. He yelled.” She had to respond quickly. He’s still up in arms to protect me. “And then he left.”

Gryndle laid down next to her in the grass. He clearly wasn’t as hungry as she was. Paislee ate. He stared at clouds.

“So why are you sad? You move through emotions quickly. I know you’ve already rationalized letting him go.”

“Honestly?” Paislee pulled little snaps of grass between her fingers. “I love him.”

“Then I hope this Emil is smart enough to come back to you. How long does he have left?”

“Like five hours.”

“Then let’s get you back to the human world.” Gryndle rolled over and grabbed his sandwich from the tray. “The sun should start setting there soon. Maybe a little orange in the sky will make you feel better.”

***

Meria and Daniel were in the kitchen with their foreheads together when Flora burst in from the hallway.

“Where is Paislee??”

“She’s still gone.” Meria pulled her hand back, hiding the ring.” What’s wrong?”

“You aren’t going to believe this.”

Flora told Dan and Meria about what happened. She’s grabbed her cell before running into the kitchen. Flora noticed the ring immediately, but the look on Meria’s face said it all. She couldn’t celebrate an engagement knowing as she did that Paislee was going to end the night as a single woman. When Flora was done, and had shown Daniel and Meria the pictures, she looked at Daniel.

“Have you noticed him acting weird lately?”

“No, just today. But he did get some heavy information.”

“This isn’t Paislee’s fault.” Flora snapped.

“Whoa! I never said it was. If I had any idea that he was cheating on Paislee I would have told all three of you. But he’s been completely normal Emil except for today.”

“We can’t get mad at each other.” Meria put her hand on Daniel’s arm. “Flo, do you know where she went?”

“To the Gypsy mountain.”

Meria stood up, kissed Daniel on the cheek. “Ok, I’ll go send word to the Clansmeet. Flo, call mom. Daniel, can you keep an eye on Ahms? I’m going to send her down for a few minutes.”

***

“Thanks for spending time with me.”

“Yes. Because it was out of the goodness of my hearts.”

“Gryndle, you may be a demon, but you’ve got quite the sweetness. Thank you.”

Paislee and Gryndle stood outside about a block away from the house, when her phone rang. Gryndle’s ears twitched.

“Meria and I need to talk to you asap!”

“I’m just down the block.”

“Hurry up!”

“It’s about Emil? Is he there? We’re on our way.”

Paislee looked up at Gryndle, who looked down at her.

“I can’t go into the house with you.” Which was true. Gryndle still hadn’t come into all of his powers. If he stepped into the house before each power presented itself, the spells and wards protecting the house would rip him to shreds, mind and body.

“We’ll sit outside until we know more. Come on.” She grabbed his arm and dragged him towards the house.

“Am I really the person you need here?”

“Not sure. But if you want to leave, I can just talk to you tomorrow.”

“I would never walk away from you. I just don’t know if I could be supportive should Emil decide to be with you.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry. If you need to go or want to go-”

“Paislee!”

They walked as they talked and by the time Flora yelled her name, they weren’t down the block anymore. Flora came running out of the house with a cell phone in her hand.

“Flora? Is Emil ok?”

“Oh honey. Let’s sit down.” Flora led Paislee to the bench out on the front lawn. Gryndle followed behind slowly.

Oh Gods, he doesn’t want to see me anymore. He hates me. I knew it… I’ll cry later. I can be sad later.

Paislee saw Flora start to pull something on her phone.

“I wish there was an easier way to do this. I left Meria in the house with Daniel.”

“I knew they’d stay together.”

“Yeah, well….” Flora bit her lip and then rolled her eyes. “I have to show this to you.”

Flora handed Paislee the cell phone and rubbed her friend’s back.

“What the fuck is this?!”

“Paislee?” Gryndle tried to look over her shoulder at the picture. But he never got the chance to because she melted the phone.

“Fuck!” Paislee yelled, throwing the glob onto the grass.

Flora muttered under her breath. “Good thing Andreu’s phone still works.” She let Paislee go. It was rare that she got this angry, but when she did Paislee was too hot to touch.

Paislee jumped up and started to yell, her clothes started to singe. Paislee was worried about being sad. Now I’m damn pissed! “How on earth could he do this?! With Charlotte, that bitch! What the hell! The little prick couldn’t just break up with me? No! Fuck this!”

Meria and Daniel walked outside.

“We saw the candles light up. Is she-”

“Did you know?!” Paislee stomped over to Daniel wo looked more worried than baffled. “You knew?!”

“No I-” Meria stepped in front of Daniel, knowing that she could distract her sister.

“Paislee! Daniel would NEVER keep this from you!”

“No! no no no-”

“PAISLEE!” Meria walked foward a little, Flora closed in as well.

I can’t let it go. I have to let it go. Why can’t I let it go? Damnit Paislee! You don’t need him. Let it go.

What’s going on?”

“And Perfect Timing of year goes to?” Flora said “Emil Karim! Way to go! Now go to Hell!”

“What’s going on?” he said again. Emil was slowly walking towards them all and Paislee rounded on him.

“How long?!”

“It’s only eleven sweetheart I-Who is he?” Emil looked at Gryndle and wondered why he’d never seen this loser before.

“How. Long. Have. You. Been. Sleeping.With Charlotte?!”

“Paislee! I’m not sleeping with her!” He looked so heartbroken. Gods I wish I could believe him.

“No? What about this afternoon at your townhouse? You couldn’t even close your shades! Just tell me how long you’ve been screwing her!”

Emil stood perfectly still for a moment and then shifted weight as if he didn’t care. In that moment, they all saw what kind of person he truly was.

“I don’t have time for this.” Emil pulled out his car keys and cell phone. “Two years. Charlie and I have been on and off for two years. So why don’t you just-”

“AHHHHHH!” Paislee lunged at him and only managed to smack his phone and keys onto the ground before Gryndle pulled her backwards into his arms.

“Jesus! Stop bitching. I see you’ve got your own toy so screw you Clearly you cared as little about me as I do about you.” He went to pick up is phone and keys when a small fireball blasted them into nothing.

“PAISLEE!” Meria and Ahmeline yelled together. Ahmeline ran out of the house. “Gryndle! Curb her powers. Drain her if you have to. Then get her out of here!”

“No!” But Gryndle continued to pull her away. “I want him to remember! Bind his tongue, I don’t care. But I want him to remember!”

Emil looked at her as Gryndle pulled. “Bitch!” Gryndle rounded back, still holding Paislee. He used his tail to keep her arms bound to her sides, but oh did she struggle. And as he stood in front of Emil, he caught a scent. He’d consider it later.

“Nobody insults Paislee or any member of the Aynton family in my presence.”

“Gryndle!” Paislee yelled, crying. “You can’t use your powers!” It took all the strength she had to remind him of that because just then she would have loved to see him blasted into oblivion.

Emil looked at the jerk who squared him off. “Powers? You’re a freak too huh?”

“My name is Gryndle. Rhoatharg was my father, my grandfather. I am a demon with too many powers, some yet to manifest. As it stands, I could kill you instantly.”

Emil smirked. That same smirk that used to make Paislee weak, now she just wanted to smack it off his face. “She just said you can’t use-” But he couldn’t finish his statement because Gryndle punched him in the face with the scale side of his knuckles.

“Fortunately, I’ve never have to kill anyone. But that was very satisfying.” Gryndle turned and walked Paislee down the road. When he was sure she;d been drained enough to do no harm to anyone, he led her to  a Gypsy Portal.

***

Ahmeline was just bandaging Emil’s face in the parlor when Meria, Daniel and Flora walked in.

“Just hurry up. I want to get out of here.”

“BITE your tongue. In case you’ve forgotten, I just heard you call my granddaughter a bitch. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, no one in this house is a fan of yours.”

“I don’t ca-”

“So shut the hell up.” Emil stared at Ahmeline, he couldn’t believe those words came out of her mouth. “Gryndle’s scales leave a mark unless treated. And then you can shove off.”

“Why’d you do it?” Meria asked. “Why date her if you and Charlotte were together?”

“Honestly? Besides the publicity? No reason.”

Flora sat next to Ahmeline so that she could look directly into Emil’s eyes. “Well you jackass, I gotta say. Cheating on an Aynton woman, and getting caught? Publicity aside, you just lost some choice connections.”

“What do you mean? Ouch”

“Charlotte?” Flora shrugged. “Andreu and Benji and breaking their contracts tomorrow. Benji also quit your club. He’ll be sending you his letter of resignation tomorrow.”

Emil heard Daniel’s soft voice too. “It’s a good thing we didn’t sign the contracts, because I’m pulling out too. Like hell am I going to invest in a business run by the man who broke the heart of my future sister-in-law.”

“Right.” Flora smiled. “Paislee and Meria may not EVER pull a coup, but I will. Or have you forgotten that the three of us are friends with all the debutantes in town? So much for the City’s Hottest Club.”

“You’re done.” Ahmeline said slapping the last bandage on Emil’s face. “Get out. Your words have been bonded. NOTHING you can do will allow you to utter a single word about our magick. So leave, and I don’t EVER want to see your face again.”

Emil shirked out of the room, but then slammed the door as he left.

“Is she ok?” Ahmeline bundled up her haling pastes and cloth bandages.

“Treseda said that they entered the forest not two minutes ago. She said she’d stop by once Paislee was settled. Since Gryndle drained her, she’s pretty weak, but Treseda sensed she was fine.”

Alma ©2012

Chapter Seven: 1 pm to 6 pm

When Meria finally came downstairs, she found Daniel cooking in the minor kitchen. He had on her old apron with little blue roses on it.

“Hello sweetheart.” He said, shaking the vegetables in the pan.

“Hi?” Meria looked at him as if he’d grown two heads.

“What?”

“You’re not mad?” She leaned on the opposite side of the counter. She watched as he set the stove for simmer. Daniel paused for a second, looking at nothing in particular. “I’m sorry.”

He turned to face her again, and saw tears in her eyes.

“Oh Mer.” He came around to stand in front of her. “I’m not mad. I’m in love.”

Daniel wrapped his arms around her shoulders and squeezed as tight as he could without hurting her. She could smell the baby oil he rubbed in his hair that morning, and the cologne that never overpowered. This is what I needed, she thought. I just needed his strength. And a little hope.

“I think we have a lot to talk about. Let me just get the stir fry off the stove and we can eat.”

***

Treseda stared at Paislee as she paced back and forth on what was left of a fallen tree.

“So he walked away. That doesn’t mean he wont come back.”

“Do I want him to come back?”

“Do you?” Treseda rubbed her belly while Paislee sneered.

“I love him.”

“That doesn’t answer my question. Or yours.”

“It should.”

“Pais, you can love someone and not love them enough to spend the rest of your life with them.”

“But Emil is supposed to be different.”

“Who says? Just because he’s the first serious boyfriend you’ve had since you were eighteen does not mean that he’s the love of your life.”

“Why are you trying so hard to get me to let him go?”

“Because any man who walks away from you because of your powers is NOT someone I want in this family.”

“You put up with Ryszard.”

“You are not your mother. I love Tera, I do. And I would die for her in an instant. I support her decision to be with that man because she can’t bare to live with out him. But you are not Terahni. You would scream for divorce before the honeymoon was over.”

Paislee and Treseda had just spend the last three hours going round in circles over Emil.

“I don’t want to be like her either. But Emil-” Paislee hesitated, sighing in frustration

“Since when does your path in life get dictate by anyone but you?” Treseda reached out with her hand so that Paislee could help her up. “You want to be with him? If he can’t appreciate you, then he’s not the one. You say you love him. But I know that it would take for him to keep you on his arm. I’ve known you your whole life. I see you as a woman. But I also see you as a niece, as a surrogate daughter. You need to talk to someone who isn’t family. And I really have to pee.”

Treseda brushed the lose grass of her dress and straightened her hair.

“And where do you suggest I find someone like that? Someone who knows about our secrets?”

“Just wait here. I’ll see you later.”  Auguln matriarch waddled away, humming a jaunty tune. Paislee laid down in the grass and closed her eyes. Even when I’m stressed this is still one of my favorite things to do. She was a fan of letting the rays of sunlight create fun dances of splotches. When her eyes were closed, she could almost make shapes.

***

Flora took another route. Being at the house wasn’t exactly what she wanted. If she knew anything about the Ayntons (and she did) Paislee would still be on the mountain and Daniel and Meria were already making up. No, she needed some solitude. She walked out of her closet at the apartment, and collapsed on her bed. And not a minute later, she got a nice sound knock on her front door.

“Typical.” She muttered under her breath. “Coming!”

Flora walked to her door and looked through the peep hole before opening the door. Andreu stood there, looking confused and disturbed.

“I almost hoped you weren’t home.”

“Any particular reason why?”

“Because I don’t know what to do. I just talked to Benji.”

“Your brother? What’s wrong?” Flora ushered him in to the kitchen table.

***

Ahmeline watched as Dan and Meria did the dishes. She had a feeling that Daniel wasn’t going to walk out on her granddaughters. I just wish I could be sure about Emil. I should have known it was too good to be true that both my granddaughters were blissfully in love with good guys at the same time. 

She went back to her room and watched the ether for any signs of trouble.

Meria slipped her hand into his. She wasn’t sure if she was giving him comfort or if she needed the comfort herself.

“This is huge.”

“It really is. But that doesn’t mean it always has to be.” She squeezed. “I love you. I would never let anything happen to you. And you would be really really safe.”

“Your great grandmother wasn’t safe.”

“They weren’t Thrice-bound.”

“What is that?”

“As Aynton women, we belong to a very exclusive club. Clan, Court and Family traditions. When a couple gets married, they are handfasted by representatives from all three peoples.”

“Handfasted?”

They slowly dried and put away all the dishes.

“Practicing witches tend to have two types of ceremony when they marry. The wedding and the handfasting. Have you ever heard of  ‘Tying the Knot’?”

“Yes.”

“In a handfasting, the bride and groom are bound by a length of rope and pledge themselves to each other. It’s like a wedding but with more ritual. For Ayntons the ritual isn’t just words, it’s magick. When I get married, I’ll have the wedding, but I’ll also have a handfasting performed by Ahmeline, one by a member of Clansmeet and a third by Flora as Queen of the Fey.”

“So they’re spells?”

“They’re karmic weddings. From the moment the bride and groom are bound by each handfasting, they are tied by Karmic tethers. My sister and I have amazing Karma. And because we had our de bhua synched, any man who marries one of us, has the Karma of both sisters to keep him safe.”

“So if we got married…”

“You’d be one of the safest men on the planet. Ahmeline wasn’t lying when she said there would always be risks. But Paislee and I have always been at risk, and we think the risk is worth it. To save as many people as we have? It’s always worth it.”

“Hmmm. It’s a good thing you told me.”

“I wanted to tell you sooner. But I wasn’t ready.” She squared her face to his. “If you don’t want to be with me any more, I’ll understand. And I wont hold it against you.

Daniel scratched the back of his neck. “This is a lot to ask of a boyfriend.”

Meria set down her towel and closed the cabinet. “I understand.” Tears welled up in her eyes. “It’s too much.”

“For a boyfriend maybe. But what about for a husband?”

Meria looked up at him. Daniel rubbed his hands over his face before looking at her again. “Wait one minute. I’ll be right back.”

Daniel dashed out of the room. And when he came back he had a crumpled little black bag in his hands. He struggled with it for a moment, tissue paper falling out onto the counter.

“I’ve had this for about two weeks, but I’ve known for weeks that this is what I want. Where is this damn thing?” He finally tore the bag open and a little black fell out. He picked it up and got down on one knee. He cracked open the box with a little squeak. “It’s too much for a boyfriend. For a husband? I don’t know but I think I can handle it anyway. Please Meria. Marry me?”

The ring was perfect. A 3/4 karat round cut sapphire set in a halo of alternating blue topaz and diamond stones. The band was a twist of two bands, one white gold and the other black tungsten.

***

Paislee knew by the shifting of the sun that it was well passed lunch time. Treseda said to wait. Well, I’m waiting! What’s taking so long? She hadn’t opened her eyes since her aunt walked away. But the splotches on her eyes dulled after a long time.

“I would imagine that you’re hungry.” His voice was soft and sweet. There was a little rasp. And she could hear the slight bark. There was only one person she knew who sounded like that. Paislee opened her eyes and turned over onto her stomach, she looked and there was Gryndle.

“I am. You wouldn’t happen to know where I could get a snack?” Paislee smiled, because Gryndle was carrying a tray in his hands.

“May I join you?”

“Always.” she laughed. “Pull up some grass. I got nothing but time.”

Alma ©2012

Chapter Six: 11 am to 1 pm.

It was a little after eleven when they finished their conversation. Just thinking about that made Paislee’s stomach turn. As she walked up the stairs she thought about what this could mean for her. She loved Emil, and he just walked out on her. Sure he needs time to think. But who is he going to talk to? Shouldn’t I be the one who comforts him? Is he going to come back? Why didn’t I go after him? Paislee knew why she didn’t follow Emil. They were both very hot-tempered people. He needed time to adjust and consider everything. And she needed to let him. But staying in the house, watching Daniel try to make sense of the situation would break her heart and piss her off. She’s always had a great connection to the Gypsies. A couple of hours up on the peak would do her a world of good.

***

Flora watched Paislee ascend the stairs, listening for the click of Ahmeline’s bedroom door. As soon as she knew it was safe, she rushed halfway up the landing herself, stepping through to the world of the Fey. The Golden Fields and the castle were immediately in view. But she couldn’t set foot in that castle. As much as she loved it, she couldn’t go home, not yet. So she turned right and headed for the Court Pavilion.

In the middle of the valley, was a ten sided stone floor, in the middle of which stood a ten sided stone table, with nine golden wicker stools and golden wicker throne. It was this chair she walked to. Sitting in the throne felt wrong to her. But it also felt right. When she sat down, resting her head against the high back of the chair, she exhaled. I shouldn’t be here. The longer I stay, the more I want to stay. This isn’t my throne. This isn’t my throne. This isn’t my throne.


“Well, of course it’s your throne. And when you’re ready, it’ll be waiting for you.”

***

Emil was half way North before he realized he was supposed to be heading South. She’s a freak. They all are. How can they expect me to be okay with this? I wanted a normal girlfriend. I wanted to…Hmmp. Guess it doesn’t matter anymore. I can’t even… “Ugh!”

He drove on to work. At the club, he set up the conference table he had in the back room. In a few minutes, Charlotte and Benji would come to discuss contract renewal.

***

Meria hopped into the pool without thinking about it. She knew Paislee would forgive her ruining the outfit. Just this once anyway. Growing up, when Meria needed to be alone, she come out to the pool, or hot tub, she’d soak in the bath. Any body of water was her friend. But in the last eighteen months, that changed. Meria went to Daniel. Daniel, with his massive arms and warm skin. He was the person she would cling to when she needed an anchor. And now look at me! Finding solace in chlorinated water?! She needed to be cuddled by him, she wanted to feel his deep breathing when they hugged, because she could always feel his pulse quicken a little. Instead, she was in the pool, swimming laps in a soggy shirt and skirt.

I don’t know if I can stand this. What if he DOES reject my magick? Can I stay with him? I just- I just need to melt.


Which is exactly what she did. One moment she was swimming, the next her soggy clothes were sinking to the bottom without a person in them.

***

“Where did she go? Is she ok? Should I go find her?” Daniel put his glass on the kitchen counter. “I didn’t imagine that right? My girlfriend just dissolved!” His voice boomed a little as he spoke. He was reacting, because his girlfriend just disappeared and Ahmeline didn’t even move.

“She’s always been drawn to the water. That’d why we bought the pool in the first place. When she was too big for the bathroom tub, we got her a pool.”

“Have you ever seen her dissolve?!”

“Honestly? Once. When she was born, as soon as I cut the cord, she squished into a puddle of water on the bed. But she solidified a second afterward. Sometimes, when she’s feeling pensive or particularly drained, parts of her have turned to water. She’s been due for a power expansion, so this doesn’t come as a shock to us.”

“Power expansion?” Daniel, who was up in arms just a moment before, now felt his legs turn to jelly. Ahmeline led him back towards the counter stools.

“If you’re going to stick around, there are a few things you should know.”

***

Paislee came out of the portal without her shoes. Strange as it sounded, Gypsy mountain had the softest ground in all the Realms. Even the rocks sank into the ground as you stepped on them. No one stubbed their toes here. As usual, the first landscape she saw was nothing but trees and sky. The portal to Aynton house was in the middle of a small forest at the summit. Compared to the rest of the summit’s area, the forest is small, but it does take a good hour to find your way out, if you don’t know the area. Every Aynton, however, is taught to navigate the forest from a young age. She was out in twenty minutes.

Normally, when the girls made unannounced visits, it was to play card games and have parties with the Clans’ families and friends. But this time, Paislee just needed time to think. She headed for the Auguln Clan cottage. When she, Meria and Flora spent the winters apprenticing in the Gypsy Realm, they stayed with the Auguln Clan. Treseda, Matriarch of the Clan and childhood friend of Terahni, gave them each rooms in her own home, the head cottage.

“Paislee! My darling child. You look ever so sad!” Treseda was tall. She stood a little over six feet, but she was normally stick thin, like Terahni. But today, she was almost seven months pregnant, so a little pudge can be forgiven.

“You have quite the glow, Aunt!” They embraced for quite a while, and when she finally let go, Paislee had tears in her eyes.

“I do believe you’re having a hurt. Come, let’s sit by the stable.” The sun always shone on the stables, where they kept their horses. “Tell me all about it.”

***

Flora sat on the stone table, swinging her legs. Yarrow sat beside her.

“How did you know I’d come back today?”

“Wingling, you’re my daughter. I could feel your magick the moment you stepped through.”

Yarrow sat on the Court with his second wife.

“How’s Clove?”

“She’s well. She’s been fighting with Bacchus and Freesia again.” He chuckled in his way. “They think they would be better leaders with more control.”

“Pfft. Children.” Flora laughed too.

“Scoff all you want sweetheart, you know the only way to fix this is to come home.”

“Fa, I don’t want to be Queen. I like where I am in my life. I’m having fun.”

“I see your cousins live up to their responsibilities and still have fun.”

“That’s different. Meria and Paislee are human, they ALWAYS live in that world! Why can’t I?”

“Because it is your duty to protect your people. Only you have the power to do so.”

“I never wanted it.”

“It doesn’t matter, you have it. And until we have another heir to the throne, you have no choice.” There was a twinkle in his eye as he spoke. He stood up and kissed her forehead. “I’ll let you alone now. Stop by more often. And don’t think I don’t know.” He flitted away, leaving her surprised.

I should have known he’d find out. She sat back in her throne, fighting herself a while longer.

***

“So everything is set!” Charlotte put her copy of the contract in her briefcase and turned to Benji. “It looks like you’re all set for another six months. Why don’t you go meet up with that gorgeous girlfriend of yours.”

“What about you?”

“I have other ideas to discuss with Emil.” Charlotte kissed Benji on the cheek, watched as he and Emil shook hands and then walk away.

Emil and Charlotte walked upstairs to his private office.

“Alright. Spill.” She said, sitting on the couch while he closed the door.

“What’s to spill?” He asked, sitting next to her.

“I have known you for over two years. I know when something is bothering you. I could have gotten you to sign over most of your assets down there. What’s going on?”

Emil ran his fingers through his hair, trying not to turn a bright shade of green. It wasn’t working.

“It’s Paislee.”

“Well that I figured out for myself.”

“She has…. a secret. And she just told me and I don’t know what to do.”

“Do you love her?”

“I do now that I know what the secret is, more than ever.”

“So it can’t be a bad thing.”

“But it’s so intense. I’m not an intense person! I want to have fun, fall in love, stay in love. And still have fun.”

“Emil, last I checked, Paislee is more fun than most men can handle.” She laughed a little.

“You’re right. And this does make her more exciting.” He smiled, and then frowned. “I don’t know. I need a distraction.  I can’t think about this right now.”

“Perfect. We’ll order lunch, and I’ll tell you all about my new business ideas.”

***

“Their power is limitless?”

“Not so much limitless, as potentially greater than any of us has ever dreamed.” Ahmeline had just told him about the twins’ creed. Their promise to defend and protect, their constant struggle with demons, their mother’s relationship with their father and now the detail of their powers expanding.”

“Meria has the power to kill me?”

“Yes. So does Paislee, and Flora, and Terahni. And so do I.” She looked seriously at this man. He’d been so clam the last two hours. “None of us would ever do that. We all love you. And outside of that, it is not in our nature to actually hurt an innocent.”

“This hurts a man’s pride a little.” He half laughed to himself. “I have two questions.”

“Shoot!”

“Would I be in any danger?”

“Honestly?”

“Yes, honestly.”

“Yes you would. To be the human lover of a witch can be painful. Ryszard is half in. He loves Terahni with all his heart, but there is no room in his heart for real magick. So she curbs her power when she’s with him. She’s effectively mortal. Meria and Paislee aren’t like that. If you decided to be with Meria, you would be protected by some of the most powerful women on the planet. But you’re being around them will put you in danger. To their enemies, you could be collateral damage or you could even be a target.”

“Doesn’t sound like many men have chosen to walk this particular path.”

“Nor have many women. My own mother left my father soon after I turned four.”

“What happened? If you don’t mind me asking?”

“When a mortal woman conceives the child of a witch, she is prone to accidents and bad luck for the first two or three years of the child’s life. The lore says that it’s nature’s way of keeping the mother close to the child. Either way it sucks. until I was about three years old, my mother almost fell down the stairs once a week, she’s gotten into a few car accidents, she was at a bank when it was held up by robbers. It just kept going. All evidence shows that it stopped around my third birthday. But when I hit four, my mother had a genuine accident. A neighborhood kid was driving drunk and swerved into her car. She broke her arm, other than that she was fine. But it was the final straw for her. They got a divorce, and the next thing we knew, she was gone.”

“So Ryszard is the closest your family has come to a successful spousal relationship?”

“In the last sixty or so years? Yes.”

***

Meria emerged from the water, her hair dripping wet. Her hands were full of soppy clothes, she couldn’t bring herself to try to put them back on.  She walked around to the other side of the house, and took the back staircase to her bedroom balcony. Climbing in through the large double windows, she hung up her wet clothes in her bathroom to dry and put a new outfit on. She was a little cold, so jeans and cardigan would do just nicely.

As she sat in front of her mirror, brushing her hair, Meria thought about what to do now.

End Chapter Six

©2012 Alma

Chapter Five: A Shock or Two

Paislee looked over her shoulder to Emil. She couldn’t actually see his face, but it helped to see his ear, surrounded by dishevelled hair.  Sure he had his arm around her. Sure Emil had his face buried in her neck. But Paislee wanted to make sure he was really there with her.  When they got back to the house last night, she brought Emil up to her room. She wanted to talk to him. But it turned into a fight, she sound shielded her room when he wasn’t looking. There were shouts about his blow to the head, about her ditching him at the club the night of the fire. Paislee never did well when others shouted at her. Even if it was her fault, she’d shout back. Last night was one of those nights. For over an hour they fought. And then before she knew it, they were making love. At least, that would be the nice term for it. The truth was the sex they had that night completely eclipsed any other time they’d been together. While they were cuddled in bed, right before the sun began to rise, she calmly promised him that it all tied in with the family secret. She promised that he’d have all the answers he could possibly want after brunch.

Thinking about all that now, she sighed before checking to see if there was any magickal residue from restaurant. Paislee knew that there wouldn’t be. Well I can’t blame myself for wanting to be damn sure. After she was sure that he was ok, and very much still asleep, she slipped out of bed and made her way out to the hall. It wasn’t more than a few seconds that she heard Meria.

“Psst!”

They scurried into Ahmeline’s room, where they found their grandmother reaching for her cane.”

“How long do you think you’re going to need that thing?” Paislee asked, plopping down on the bed.

“Oh sweetie. I may always need it.” When the twins looked at her she sighed. “Rhoatharg was a right bastard. And I always knew you two could defeat him. But I’m not thirty any more. This may be the beginning of my retirement.”

“But who will make such awesome potions? Who will go with us to save innocents?”

“Meria, my angel, you two have outstripped me in talent. We all know this. But we can talk more about it later. Right now I have something to say about Daniel and Emil.”

Both girls looked at their hands.

“Daniel and Emil are both wonderful. And I want both of them to be here for a long time. But if they aren’t, then it means they aren’t supposed to be. You both know that, and I know you’re not afraid that they’ll run. You’re both afraid that they wont. Now I’ve said my piece and I’m hungry. So I’ll be in the library, waiting for you two to make breakfast. Get out.”

***

Emil and Daniel cleaned up and got ready for breakfast. Attached as they each were to their cell phones, they still managed to work and get dressed in a timely fashion.

By the time the men were ready to go downstairs, breakfast was done. Paislee and Meria finished the coffee and tea, getting out all the cups. They’d been privy to Aynton brunch before. As always, even once everyone was sitting down, they had to wait the extra few minutes for Flora. She was always about five minutes behind, but she never missed brunch.

Flora came stumbling in the front door. Her date with Andreu seemed to go fairly, because she had her after-sex grin.

“Well! I’m right on time! And now I’m going to go change.” Flora went up to her room, changed quickly and ran back down. “Ooh, pancakes!”

The six of them had a wonderful breakfast, but it was soured by the night before. Only Ahmeline and Flora could keep the conversation from floundering. Luckily, Flora had business to discuss with the twins and their men. Ahmeline remained as sassy as possible, providing smiles and entertainment when necessary.

***

“I don’t suppose we can postpone this particular discussion?” Meria asked of the group.

“Not a chance in Hell.” was Paislee’s barbed reply. Daniel had also opened his mouth to speak, but Paislee cut him to the quick. And of course, her answer voiced the silent opinions of everyone in the room.

Brunch was cleared. The kitchen was clean. Everyone’s tea and coffee had been twice refreshed. And Ahmeline had already gone to and returned from Gypsy Mountain to retrieve her favorite deck of playing cards. Meria knew there was nowhere left to hide. No task left to complete.

For Paislee, it was a non issue. It would hurt, but if Emil couldn’t accept her, she’d walk away. She spent twenty-four years  feeling only half loved by her father; they both had. Paislee was not going to live her life in the same fashion as Terahni. She trusted him not to divulge their secret, whether he stayed or not. She would have told him a few months prior if it was only her secret on the line. But Meria wasn’t ready, and this was something they had to do together.

So there they all were. Flora sat opposite Ahmeline by the window, watching her adoptive grandmother shuffle. Emil sat in the leather chair opposite Dan and Meria, who were on the couch. Paislee was perched on the arm of Emil’s chair.

“Come on girls. What’s the big secret?” The words were softly and kindly spoken as ever. But Meria knew that tone. There was an unspoken command in Daniel’s voice. He was feeling impatient, and she could feel that he was afraid of being betrayed. His emotions were making it difficult to speak up. And blast it, Paislee was waiting for her to speak first.

“You two have known us for a while.” Meria picked up one of the pillows from the couch, avoiding Daniel’s eyes as long as possible. “We trust both of you, but we need you to promise that what is said in this house travels no further.”

“Promise.” Emil said. He was flippant, as though this was no big deal.

Perhaps he’ll be fine with the secret. Paislee shrugged slightly.

Daniel nodded, “I promise.”

“Thank you.” Meria continued. “This is a risk for us, and we don’t take it lightly, no matter how much we may shrug it off.”

Paislee rolled her eyes with a smile. She knew the comment was for her, and she appreciated it. But she’s be damned if she dropped her favorite poker face of blended confidence and feminine arrogance. Still, it was a little entertaining to watch these two learned men stare at her sister, as confused as a couple of pre-school boys. So she’d spell it out for them before Meria had a heart attack.

“It’s like this.” They turned their heads to look up at her. “If you can’t accept our secret and all that comes with it, you can’t be with us. I hate that it has to be this way, but both of us have seen how it can change relationships. And neither one of us plans to become our mother. We’re not going half way on this.”

Their faces changed. Emil and Daniel seemed to straighten somehow, finally recognizing that this may be a little more serious than originally assumed. After about a minute of self-reflective silence, Daniel turned back to his girlfriend.

“Meria. What’s your secret?”

The blue twin took another huge sigh. “Paislee and I are special. We have gifts. Some with which we were born, others we’ve acquired with experience. All of them magickal.”

Emil blinked. “I’m sorry. What?”

“Baby, we’re witches.” Paislee patted Emil’s shoulder. “We have magickal powers which we use to protect our family, allies and the human race.” She barely managed to get it out before Emil snapped.

“Is this a joke? You’re have magical powers? What is this? Bewitched?!”

“You guys have to show them.” Flora whined in a dulcet tone. “Two please.” She put to cards face down in front of Ahmeline.

Paislee stacked the magazines on the glass coffee table, then looked at Emil.

“Meria and I were born elemental opposites, a twins thing. I was born of fire.” She held her fist out, palm down and flicked open her hand. A small fire-ball shot at the magazine stack, burning them. The flames grew higher as they reached more fuel from the stack.

Ahmeline chuckled. “There are no fire alarms in this house, not since Paislee’s sixth birthday. They were so annoying.”

“If Paislee is fire-” Daniel started. But Meria cut him off.

“I was born of water.” She rubbed the fingers of her right hand over the flames, and water quickly sprinkled down. She opened her hand and the water flowed faster, extinguishing the fire. Meria spoke so quietly, the last hiss of embers were competing with her. “Last night, we were…attacked. A spirit possessed the body of the waiter and that’s why Emil was injured. We banished the spirit, healed your wound and got out of there as quickly as possible.”

“This is, so far, a waste of my time.” Emil stood up to go. Paislee stood in front of him.

“Honey, please sit down. Let me explain.”

“Explain what?! Some jackass attacks me at dinner, you ask me to help you sweep it under the rug. And for what?! Some cock and bull shit story about having magickal powers!”

“Emil! It’s true! How many ways do I have to tell you? I’m a witch! Meria’s a witch. Hell! Ahmeline and mom are both witches.”

“Enough!” Emil walked around, heading to the door. The disbelief on his face just about broke Paislee’s heart. But as he neared the door, the room changed.The magnificence of the Fey Castle rose over golden fields. The monumental building was pure white, almost diamond, with the most lush green Ivy wrapping around the bottom few feet. He did a 360, then another. He was alone. The sun was slightly pink in hue, and the breeze carried Flora’s voice.

“The twins have more tangible power on Earth. But I’m not out of the game. What you’re seeing is my home. Not my flat downtown, my real home.”

Emil looked up and saw such colorful birds in the sky. The flowers swayed with their own magic.

“Go ahead Emil. Pick up a flower.”

He bent down to pick one up. It was large, and sun-kissed. And it was gold.

“Real gold. The flowers in my realm turn to golden powder once you pick them.”

He watched as the flower indeed dissolved into a fine golden dust. So intently did Emil stare at the transformation, it took him a few moments to realize he was back in the Aynton house and that everyone watched him.

“So you’re one of them?” Emil turned to Flora.

“When you first met me, I was introduced as the cousin of Meria and Paislee. The truth is, that our nearest direct relation died centuries ago. We are descended from the same royal blood, mine more interwoven than their own. I am a fairy.” As  she spoke, she shrunk. Her skin began to tint rose pink and wings unfolded from her back. “Part of my name is Feyna Rai’ellia de Florrescia Canthesian. My name is much longer, but that’s long enough don’t you think?”

By this point, Flora was a little more than a foot tall, sweet pink and flitting around the room on sinewy web wings.

“Among other talents, I am an illusionist. What you just experienced. ” Daniel tried to poke her, but Flora just perched on his shoulder. “Guys, this is real. But it doesn’t change who these women are.”

Ahmeline finally joined them again, having piled all the cards.

“Gentlemen, as it stands, you have thirteen hours to decide how you feel about them. If at the end of that time, you can accept them as they are, you will each be sworn to an oath, binding you from speaking of our secret to any mortals. If you can’t, then we will erase your memories of this very particular event. You’ll remember everything about the last 48 hours except anything which pertains to our abilities as well as the Realm of magicks. After that, if they decided to tell you about their powers and you reject them a second time, we will all be erased from your lives. No more than a bad dream or memory.”

Paislee spoke up. “You’re also free to ask us any questions in the next thirteen hours. We’re bound to respond.”

“We just hope that you understand something before you decide.” Meria spoke chiefly to Daniel, who continued to play with Flora’s wings, trying his hardest not to look anywhere else. “We’ve told you these secrets because we love you and we want to spend our lives with you. This is a long haul kind of situation.”

After Meria spoke, she walked out to the back yard. Emil shook his head and left. Paislee heard the door slam behind him.

“Do you ladies mind if I stick around here to think about it? I’d like to watch you on a normal day.” Daniel finally shook himself from the trance of having a fairy perched on his shoulder. Hard to do, since every time Flora moved her wings, they jingled.

“Of course darling.” Ahmeline led him to the kitchen for a glass of water. As they walked out, Flora turned back into a human.

“Are you ok?”

“Well I’m not exactly pleased, but I’ll survive. I’m going to go to Gypsy Mountain, field any questions he has if he comes back. Come get me if he needs anything.” Paislee let the tear on her cheek steam before walking up to Ahmeline’s room and stepping through the mirror.

End Chapter Five

Alma ©2012