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2.59 – Aniello Grows Up

November 22, 2015

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Aniello transitioned on a warm sunny day.  It was a family event –  Allie and Corbin, Maria and her clan, Phebe, Caprice, and of course Tank.  Bianca’s heart filled up to see her growing family under the same roof.  She was so proud of her girls.

If only Joel were here to see this, she thought.

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She had to be careful, with so many visitors, not to get found out.  Her heart had been aching all day, and she knew she was due for another dose.  She didn’t know if her girls would be mad or not, and she didn’t want to find out.  They all had enough going on, each in their own way, to worry about their old mother.

Bianca snuck upstairs and turned on the shower, just to throw anyone who came looking for her off the trail.  They were all so busy downstairs gabbing and celebrating that she wasn’t too worried, but still.  No one needed to know.

She crept into her secret room.  It was locked, in a way.  Not physically locked, which would arouse suspicion.  This room was locked with magic, it’s door covered with a deception spell.  To anyone else, even to Allie, the room was simply an old, unused closet.  But in reality, it was anything but.

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Bianca had never forgotten her own long ago lessons from Miss Emmy, though she’d given up the search for the Curse when she handed the reins over to Allie.  But magic came in handy for many things, especially for taking care of that nagging ache that came into her heart from time to time.  She knew there were risks.

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She knew one day, the magic potion would take it’s toll, that Grim would come for her.  But until that day came, no one in her family need know just how close he was to calling.

2.58 – Caprice Takes the Plunge

November 21, 2015

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Something was up.

Caprice straightened a loose hair for the hundredth time as she waited for Tank to arrive.  He’d sounded so strange on the phone.

“Think positive,” she told herself as she watched the random hair pop back out of place. “Tank is NOT breaking up with you.  Positive, positive, positive.”  She was still muttering to herself as she heard Tank’s footfalls on the front porch.

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“Hi babe,” he said casually as he walked into the house.  He gave her a quick peck on the cheek.  “You ready?”

Peck on the cheek? she thought. What the hell!  He is breaking up with me!  “Think positive,” she muttered to herself one last time before she looked up and smiled.  “I’m ready. Where are we going?”

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“I thought we’d try Londoste, over in Blackwater,” Tank said.  “It’s supposed to be amazing.”

“Londoste?  Tank, that’s so fancy!  Are you sure?  I don’t think I’m dressed for that place!”

Tank grinned and pulled Caprice in close.  “You’ll be the best looking girl there, I bet.”

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The restaurant was beautiful.  And elegant.  And chic.  And it only served to make Caprice more nervous.  Tank was still acting so strange, she didn’t know what to make of it.  He was the perfect gentleman – ordering her food, selecting an excellent wine with the somalier, and chatting politely with the waiter.  Still, something was off. He seemed so distracted. Distant.

“What’s wrong?” he said, an adorable crinkle emerging between his eyebrows.  “Don’t you like the meal?”

“No, the meal’s…everything’s so great,” Caprice said.

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“Oh good,” said Tank.  “Because I want this to be special…just right for you.”  She saw the flicker of anxiety cross his face for a brief moment before he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box.

“Caprice…I know you don’t know what to do with your life just yet, but I know I want to spend my life with you…whatever path you choose.  Will you marry me?”

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Her heart swelled up so full of love at that moment that she couldn’t speak.  So Caprice just smiled, slipped the ring on her finger and nodded yes, as she grabbed Tank’s hand and held on tight. Her mom had been right, after all. Life would figure itself out as it went along.

2.57 – Introductions

November 7, 2015

Allie knew her mother was right. In the days that followed, she decided to get serious. No more, this flitting around from thing to thing. It was time to focus, and there was only one real purpose that needed to be focused on – the Curse.

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Allie went to work at night and studied during the day. She was thankful her mother and Caprice were so devoted to Aniello. He was loved, and growing well, even if she couldn’t spend as much time as she’d like with him. She hoped he knew she loved him, for she did – with every ounce of her being. But she also knew, if she didn’t make progress toward finding the answer to the DiPotere Curse, his future would be in danger, as would the future of all the DiPoteres.

There was also the pesky problem of a female heir.

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Corbin Gray was truly happy to hear from Allie. He’d enjoyed their time together on her vacation to the East.  Oh, he’d had other flings before – considered it a great perk of life in a tourist town, in fact. But Allie was different. She was special in a way he couldn’t quite figure out, and he had thought of her often these past few years. So when she called out of the blue and said she’d love to see him again, Corbin was more than happy to plan a visit.

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Allie stood outside, trying not to have a panic attack as she waited for the taxi to arrive. As Corbin stepped out of the cab and into the sunlight, Allie smiled. She’d forgotten how handsome he was. They embraced, and it was as if the years melted away.

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Allie felt confident again. Her plan would work. It had to. She took Corbin by the hand and mentally prepared herself to introduce the man to his son.

2.56 — A Burning Rage

November 1, 2015

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For days, Allie fumed.  Her anger was almost palpable, the air was so heavy with the weight of it.  She slammed through the movements of each day, every task taking on new significance, every breath filled with frustration and annoyance as she played and replayed the conversation with Maria over and over again in her mind.

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How dare she?  Maria, what did she know anyway?  Everything would be fine.  Just fine.  She would have a girl, a girl who would be heir.  The line would not stop with her.

A water glass nearly shattered as she filled it with water.

Besides, I’m so close to a breakthrough now.  They don’t know, how close I am.  There is something there, in that house in Blackwater, and it’s connected to us, to the Curse.  Somehow.

The bathroom door swung opened with the force of a hurricane.

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The fruit bowl slid to the edge of the table, very close to sliding off on to the floor, as Allie grabbed a kiwi.

I don’t have anyone to share these things with, you know?  Mom won’t have it.  Red is no help, and Maria – for all her opinions – doesn’t want anymore to do with the Curse.  And why should she?  She’d given nearly her whole life to it.  But it didn’t give her the right to tell anyone else what to do with theirs. 

The phone buzzed with extra energy as Allie walked through the kitchen.

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If Miss Emmy were here, she would know what to do. She always knew what to do to work a problem out, but now…now there’s just me.

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Allie reached for the cappuccino machine and jumped back as sparks of electricity popped and sizzled.

Didn’t they understand? Didn’t any of them understand? How impossible this all seemed?

“We do understand, Allie,” came a small soft voice from the corner.

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Allie spun around to see her mother standing there, holding Aniello. “Did I say that out loud?” she said. “I didn’t think I was talking out loud.”

“I’m a witch too, you know,” Bianca said. “Maybe I don’t use it much, and certainly I’m not as powerful as you, but it’s still a part of me, and I never forget, not for a single day, what a burden I put on you when you were chosen as heir.”

Allie felt the swelling of emotion deep in her chest first. Try as she did to choke it back, the rush of feeling bubbled up her throat and she felt the warm prick of tears in the corner of her eyes. “There’s just so much to do, Mom. I don’t know how to do it all. And Maria acts as if I don’t know that Aniello can’t be heir. I do know. I think of it every day.”

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Bianca set Aniello down on the floor and smiled as he crawled off to play with a cat. “Allie, dear Allie. You’re so brave and strong. But it’s time to let us help you.  You don’t have to do this alone, you know.”

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As Bianca embraced Allie in a warm hug, Allie realized her mother was right. And she knew just what she needed to do.

2.55 — Remodeling Projects

October 31, 2015

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“I think turquoise is what I want…” Bianca said, as Red scribbled down notes and measurements.  “And we want to take down that wall and just open the whole thing up…”

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Red was only half listening, though, as Bianca shared her vision for a new kitchen space.  The other half of his attention was directed out the window, to the back yard, where Aniello played and Allie and Maria talked.  He wished he could still hear their thoughts, or read lips, or something.  This not knowing was torture.

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All he knew was it couldn’t end like this.  Generations of DiPoteres missing, a force of Darkness controlling the town, and all those years of hard work he and Miss Emmy had put in to try and uncover the truth.  It couldn’t be for nothing.  But Allie was getting older, and if she didn’t give birth to a female child who would be heir, the line of DiPotere witches would end.  And who knows what would happen then.

2.54 – Conversations: Maria and Red

May 4, 2015

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Red pulled Maria in close for a squeeze. His wife was so beautiful he could hardly believe his luck. Beautiful, and talented, and a great mom, and just so easy and comfortable with all of it. Which was why he knew this was going to be a tough conversation no matter what he did. Red took Maria’s hand and snuggled her gently in the new garden hammock.

They swung for a bit in blissful silence and enjoyed the perfect day – sun shining, not a cloud in the sky, gentle breeze blowing. The boys were at school and Maria’s dad was tinkering in the garage. Red hated to wreck the moment.

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“So I told Bianca I’d remodel her kitchen for her,” he began.

“That’s nice, love,” Maria said almost absentmindedly, eyes closed, head turned toward the warmth of the sun.

“And I think you should come along, spend some time with Allie.”

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“What? why?”

Moment gone.  Maria’s pleasant warmth had turned ice cold, just like that. Red was amazed by her ability to shift gears so suddenly.  Hot – cold. Love – Suspicion. Anger.

“Well,” began Red, “Bianca mentioned Allie’d been different lately. Distant. Working long, strange hours.”

“She is a cop, you know,” muttered Maria.

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“But she was working days, light duty and all that, at a nice safe desk.  Or she could be dispatching – that’s exciting, but still safer…now that the baby’s here…” Red’s voice trailed off when he caught Maria’s look. I really should learn to shut up and enjoy a perfect moment when it comes along, he thought.

“You think Allie would be happy working 9-5 at a desk?”

“No,” Red said. “I know she wouldn’t, but there’s more than her to think of now. She’s the heir, and she needs an heir…”

“And baby Aniello is a boy,” finished Maria. “And the heir must be female.”

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“Right,” said Red. “We just need to make sure her priorities are straight, you know?”

“Hmmph,” said Maria.

“So, you’ll come along?” asked Red.

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“I’ll come along,” said Maria, “but I won’t like it.”

2.53 Conversations: Caprice and Bianca have Pancakes

April 10, 2015

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“I don’t know what to do Mom.”

It wasn’t the start to the day Bianca had expected. She steadied her hand on the carton of eggs she was holding and tried not to cast a worried look at her youngest daughter.

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“What about dear?” she asked.

“You know,” said Caprice with a vague eye roll. “Life, love, career – just everything.”

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“I see,” said Bianca.

“There’s just so much to decide,” said Caprice. “I mean, I don’t even know where to begin.”

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“Pancake?” asked Bianca.

“What?  Well…okay,” said Caprice, and followed her mother into the dining room for a plate of Bianca’s famous pancakes.

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Bianca dove into her stack like she hadn’t seen food in days while Caprice twirled her fork and stared out the window.

“I like Tank,” said Caprice, “a lot. Love him even, maybe. I just don’t know if I want to settle down yet. And where to live! Tank wants to live here, in Strangetown. Of course, I could move in with Phebe. Downtown Blackwater would be fun, but then I’d have to get a job – a real job – and oh, I just don’t know. There are a couple of ad firms who said they would hire me on the spot – they’re always nosing around campus eyeing up the Art majors so they can snatch us up right after graduation and pay us slave wages. The privilege of working for so-and-so, and all. It just feels so corporate, you know? Even though I could wear jeans to work and one of the companies has an office just down the road from Phebe’s apartment building. But this is my home! And Aniello is here now, and you.”

Caprice hung her head and waited for Bianca to say something. Anything. Her mom always knew what to do. But only silence filled the air. Well, silence and the sound of pancakes being inhaled.

“Mom?” Caprice said. “What do you think?”

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“I think I’m going to re-do the kitchen,” said Bianca, standing to clear her plate.

Caprice blinked. She must have misheard. That or age was catching up with her mother at last. She shook her head at the thought and followed Bianca into the kitchen. “I don’t think I heard you right,” she said.

“I think I’m going to redo the kitchen,” Bianca repeated. “I have a little nest egg from your Dad’s retirement fund, and just look at all this wasted space. There’s no room for Aniello’s chair in the dining room and we don’t really need to be so formal anyway. And that gorgeous window,” she said, gesturing out the floor-to-ceiling window at the back of the room. “I’d love to be able to sit right here and watch the sunrise with my coffee.”

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Caprice was confused and worried. This wasn’t like her mom at all. “Um, Mom? Did you hear what I was saying?”

“Of course I did, sweetie. You know, a kitchen overhaul is no small thing. I’ll need to get someone in for an estimate, or maybe Red would have the time now that the twins are in school. And then there’s color, and window treatments – do I keep what I have or get something different? Do I add in an island, or not? So many questions, so much work, so little time.”

“Mom, are you okay?”

“Of course I’m okay, honey,” said Bianca.

“Well, what should I do?”

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“I don’t know what you should do, dear,” said Bianca. “Those are your questions. You have to work them out, and you will – in your own time. All I have to worry about right now is whether to stick with yellow or go bold with turquoise – and that’s a big enough decision for one day. You’re trying to plan your whole life over breakfast. Even if it could be done like that, it shouldn’t. You have the luxury of time, dear. Use it. Your sisters were different – they knew exactly what they wanted at your age. You don’t, and that’s okay too. Take your time, you’ll find your answers. And in the meantime, you can help your old Mom here with some paint colors.”

Caprice smiled. Her mom was just fine. And she would be too.