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2.33 A New Addition to the Family

November 4, 2011

Red glanced at Maria, then back out the window. “How long do you think he’s been standing there?” he asked.

“Don’t know,” mumbled Maria.

“Do you think he was there all night?”

“Mmmm. Don’t know,” said Maria, still engrossed in her pancakes.

“Shouldn’t we invite him in?” Red asked at last.

Maria looked up. “Don’t even think about it,” she said, venom dripping from each word before she went back to devouring her breakfast.

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Red looked out the window again at the old man, who he’d found standing by their mailbox an hour ago.  Now, as dawn was breaking, the man still showed no signs of movement, or even of an awareness of where he was.  Red couldn’t understand his wife, either.  This was her father, after all.  True, he’d abandoned his family when he’d fallen under Bella’s spell, but she couldn’t fault him for that.  He took another side glance at his wife’s crazy assault on a second plate of pancakes and wondered.

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“Look,” Red said finally.  “We can’t just leave him there.  People will be around sooner or later, and they’ll start to ask some really difficult questions if there’s a creepy looking practically catatonic man standing by our mailbox.”

“I. Don’t. Care,” said Maria, as she stood to took her plate into the kitchen.

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Red stood to block her path as she started for the door. “Now, wait just a minute,” he said. “That’s not fair. It’s not fair to him, or to me.”

Maria looked at Red with a quizzical expression. “What on Earth could this have to do with you,” she muttered.

“You matter to me,” he said, “and I know it’s hard, I know he hurt you very badly when he left, but I also know you. You wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you just let him go. You know, you know down in your gut, that Bella will destroy him. He’s obviously outlived his usefulness for her. Don’t you see? You have to save him, to save yourself.”

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Maria hung her head. Everything was happening too fast. “Red,” she began, and stopped. She looked up at the man who would be her husband. She hadn’t wanted to tell him yet, not like this, but she had to. She knew the time was now. “Red, I can’t bring Dad into our lives, not now. What if he’s still tied to Bella? What if he brings the curse back into our family? I can’t risk it. We can’t risk it, because…well, I’m pregnant.” She let out a breath and waited.

Red stood still for a moment, the strangest expression on his face. Then he grabbed Maria in the biggest hug he could manage.

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“Pregnant?” he asked. “Like, as in, a baby?”

Maria rolled her eyes. Men, she thought. “Yes, Red. A baby. Our baby.”

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Red grinned from ear to ear, that same goofy boyish grin he’d given her when she’d first declared her love to him. Maria hadn’t seen that grin in awhile, she realized. She’d missed it.

“So, you see,” Maria said, “I can’t move Dad in here. It’s too risky. And, even if it wasn’t, where would we put him?”

Red thought for a moment. “Do you remember when you were going to kick me out to the garage?”

“Yes,” said Maria, cocking an eyebrow.

“What if we moved your Dad out there instead? You could put a protective shield, or whatever, around our house, right? Or some kind of spell on the garage to protect him from Bella?”

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Maria stepped back from Red and looked at him. He looked entirely too pleased with himself. “I could do all that,” she said, “and more, if Allie will help.”

“You know she will,” said Red, just a little smugly.

“Well, then,” Maria said. “I guess it’s settled. I’ll go talk to him.”

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With that, Maria took a deep breath, said a protective spell to herself and her unborn baby, and, just as the sun cleared the horizon, she walked out toward where her father stood.

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