Fortune’s fancy chapter 1-7


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Fortune’s fancy chapter 1-7

  1. 1. Fortune’s Fancy-Chapter 1 part 7 A Legacy by Nicbemused and simself Nicki Bemused with possible commentary by Other Characters
  2. 2. “Huh? ““What?”“Mom?”“What the…”“Have a seat kids. We’ll explain. Some things happened afterthe wedding and it’s a long story.”
  3. 3. “Alexandra, I will leave you all alone now to discuss ourcontract. Although, I must say that had I know of the geneticsof your children I might have asked for something else. It is aterrible shame your mother took the power of your line out ofthe Circle. Speak swiftly, lest I grow impatient.”
  4. 4. And with that, the witch left.
  5. 5. It didn’t take them long to find seats, though Leif chose to stand behind Alex to offer hissupport.However, Alex seemed to have a difficult time getting started and finally Brenda brokethe silence. “Um, does someone want to explain what we’re doing here?”“It’s a long story, but I guess I have to start somewhere. OK. You know I have 2 youngersiblings who were babies when I ran and I try and keep up with them, right?”
  6. 6. “Well, I was doing an internet search when I came across a society piece onBelinda and her husband Andrew. They had just brought their youngestbaby home from the hospital and there was a picture of all of them out infront of the Fortune family house. I had a sudden urge to contact them. “
  7. 7. “Now, I’ve tried to speak with Belinda before and she’snever been particularly welcoming of my overtures, andyour Papa wasn’t sure I should try again, but they arefamily, right? At least that’s what I thought.”
  8. 8. “This time Belinda returned my email and suggested we gettogether for lunch downtown. I figured we’d finally have achance to connect after all these years.”
  9. 9. “Your Papa, though, wasn’t so sure. He told me I was a beautifuland kind woman, but that not everyone was like me, so I shouldtry to remember not to be too disappointed if the reunion didn’tgo quite as I expected. I told him that of course I wouldn’t be,but secretly I had hopes.”
  10. 10. “The restaurant she chose was a fairly casual lunch place, which I thoughtwas unlike the woman I’d read about over the years, but you never reallyknow people from their public profiles after all. And it seemed like an OKplace.”“Ma’am, may I help you?”
  11. 11. “No thank you, I think I see my party.”“Belinda looked just like her pictures, sitting there coolly,expertly coiffed and overdressed for family dining. I thoughtshe might have been nervous and hiding it.”
  12. 12. “Hi Belinda, I’m your sister Alex.”“A few years too late to be sisters, isn’t it?”“She started off very coolly, but seemed to warm up after ashort time.”
  13. 13. “We discussed our families and children and thedirections our lives had taken.
  14. 14. “She asked me a bit about our mother and then casually mentionedthat she’d found a codicil for Mama’s will, dating the day of herdeath, stating that her personal monies should be shared betweenall her children.”
  15. 15. “She was sure, she said, that I had not intended to steal Mama’smoney from them, but that I had in fact stolen it and she wouldappreciate if I returned her and Robert’s parts of their inheritence tothem.
  16. 16. “And so at this point I understood why she had suggested we meetand I was very disappointed, but I explained that I had not stolenthe money, but that it had been left to me, with no codicil inevidence and that I couldn’t give it to her if I wanted, due to thecurse. She was not impressed.”
  17. 17. “What are you talking about? There is no such thing!”“Now, I could understand her reluctance to believe in a curse, but I doubted there was any codicil atall, so I explained again and apologized and said that my understanding was that her father had leftthem well off. She wasn’t pleased.”“That money is as much mine as yours and if you don’t give it to me, you will regret the day youever made up that ridiculous story.”“At that point I was out of patience with her threats and told her it had been interesting meeting herbut I didn’t think we would need to meet again. She continued to issue threats as I left, but I did notthink anything of it. We had met in the city and all she had was my email, not even my phone number.That was a few days before we came to your wedding and nothing happened to worry me in the meantime, so your Papa and I left with clear hearts.”
  18. 18. “When we returned from the wedding, your Papa and I were veryhappy. One son married to a lovely girl who we liked very muchand two grandbabies on the way. The wedding had beenbeautiful and you were all growing into excellent adults. ”
  19. 19. “Your Papa had a couple of chores to take care of, so I went into the housealone. I was a bit puzzled as to why the door was unlocked, but notunduly worried. It was a safe neighborhood, maybe the Nanny hadsimply forgotten to lock the door.”
  20. 20. “When I came into the house, the Nanny was passed out on the couch.I couldn’t wait to see my little guy, but he didn’t come running up likehe usually does when one of us comes home, so I went looking for him.”
  21. 21. “He wasn’t in his room”
  22. 22. “Or Papa and my room, as he sometimes is whenhe misses us.”
  23. 23. “I thought perhaps he might have gotten upstairssomehow, but he wasn’t there either.”
  24. 24. “Neither was he outside.”
  25. 25. “At this point I was becoming truly concerned. He was just a littleguy, a baby really. Where could he have gone and why was thenanny simply sleeping on the couch and not looking for him as sheshould have been. Did she even know he was gone? Then I heardthe phone ring.”
  26. 26. “Ah. Dear sister. You are home at last. So nice of you to make things easy for usby going out of town like that. You should know that your child is safe. For now.““What do you want from me?”“I want my money, so this is very simple. We will meet and you will transfer themoney and then my compatriot will return your child to you. I’ll give you a fewdays to get the payment together. Do not call the police or you’ll never get yourson back. Sleep well, we’ll talk again soon.”
  27. 27. “I can only guess what happened between when we met and when Belindastole Blake, but I hope she and whoever her compatriot is suffer ten timeswhat I’m suffering now.”“I expect my payment on time and the kid’s already starting to cry formommy, so don’t drag this out forever. ““No problem, handsome, we’ll both have it before the week is out.”“Good. Then we can have some real fun together.”
  28. 28. “I couldn’t believe that someone, no wait, my own sister, hadkidnapped my baby for money. I would be glad to give it to her,but I didn’t think my nieces and nephews deserved the curse, andI would have given her other money, but most of the money yourPapa and I had had gone into the house and tuition.”
  29. 29. “And I couldn’t believe that incompetent, useless, bag of bonesnanny had let someone just waltz in here and steal my child andshe hadn’t even noticed. How horrible could she be if she hadn’tseen my son in most of a day and hadn’t worried about that atall? I’d show her. I’d kick her saggy behind personally!”
  30. 30. “Fortunately, your Papa came in at that point and prevented me from doinganything too rash. I had to explain to him what had happened and we triedto comfort each other in our fear of what could happen to Blake.”Alex’s voice broke at this point and Leif took over the story.
  31. 31. “Your mother and I were both very upset, but she had an idea ofhow to proceed. She wished to call her mother’s old lawyer, Mr.Matlock, to see if it was possible to get the curse removed from herinheritance. I had wanted to call the police, despite the threats,and was not sure this would help any, but she was adamant that itwas the correct step.”
  32. 32. Thus, she called him. Fortunately he answered immediately, or Ido not know what she might have done. Your mother askedhim about the curse, but he didn’t know. He said he’d sendword among her mother’s old friends and see if one mightspeak with us.”
  33. 33. “Your mother was very upset that there could be noimmediate answer.”
  34. 34. “However, we comforted each other with the knowledgethat we would do everything in our power to get little Blakeback. Then I went to call the bank to see if a loan might bepossible, if we could not get the curse removed from themoney.”
  35. 35. “Your mother, however remained very upset at thenanny.”“Wake up, Zombiebrains!”
  36. 36. “While you were passed out on the sofa, someone came in andkidnapped my son! How incompetent do you have to be to noteven notice my baby is gone? I’m calling your supervisor andyou’ll be lucky if I don’t sue both you and your company!”
  37. 37. “The nanny attempted to explain, but your mother was notamenable to listening.”“Get out of here! Get out of here before I kick your saggy incompetentbehind out the door personally. If I ever see your face again, I’m going totake you down!”
  38. 38. “We worried throughout the night. Fortunately one ofyour grandmother’s former colleagues showed up thenext day.”“I hear you are looking for me.”
  39. 39. “Your mother explained the situation.”“…and then ideally I’d like her to go to jail, or for there to be someother way to stop her permanently. She’s obviously a horrible personand I don’t trust her not to come after my kids again, even if we dowhat she wants. And I’d like her punished.”
  40. 40. “I don’t really do people. I’m more of a naturalist, myself. Insects, weather,that kind of thing. However, I do have a friend who has specialized in magicaleffects against persons who might be able to help you out. There will be aprice, however.”
  41. 41. “And so we followed her somewhat complicated directionsand, after turning around several times, finally ended up inthe middle of nowhere at the end of a mountain road. Atfirst we weren’t sure if it was the right place, or what weshould do.”
  42. 42. “However, there was a path, and we decided to followit. It led deep within the hills, to a dwelling cut into theside of one of the mountains and at the base of the paththere was a door.”
  43. 43. “It was a huge wood and stone door. We stood outside anddebated for some time. In the stories of my culture, suchthings are considered a warning and dangerous to thoseseeking answers. However your mother was determined.”
  44. 44. “We entered and through the door before us was an oldwoman seated on a throne. She had an air of poweraround her.”“For what do you seek?”
  45. 45. “We need help. My sister had stolen our child and we need herstopped.”“Your mother explained the situation.”“A complex matter. You must come into my study so we mightdiscuss this more comfortably.”
  46. 46. “I am not afraid to admit that I was even more worried at thispoint. A mountain witch had invited us into her parlor, howeverit would have been more dangerous to insult her by refusing,and it was possible we might achieve our goal by agreeing.”
  47. 47. “Fortunately, it seems my fears were without merit.”“I am Deirdre. Had you been raised properly within the Circle, you might havecalled me cousin. It is a pity your mother left as she did, for there would bestrength in you had you been properly trained. Alas, it is too late. I can, however,help you.”
  48. 48. “It is not an easy request that you ask of me. Several layers of spells must need be set and triggeredfor you to achieve the desired outcome and your sister, no doubt, has strong potential as well, so thatmust be considered. I’m afraid you will need to pay a high price. The Circle is unable to pass on ourfull powers to our heirs, due to a curse left by the witch wars. There is a quest that a non-alignedfamily line will need to perform, generation on generation, to restore that ability. If your family willagree, I will free your child and punish the woman who took him from you.”
  49. 49. “She explained the requirements but told us we could not be the onlyones to agree.”“Your children, however, are of age and already fecund. You cannot commit for them andtheir children. Therefore I shall summon them so that you may discuss your decision andthe consequences.”
  50. 50. “And that,” Leif concluded, “Is the way in which we have arrived at this juncture.”Brenda went directly to the heart of the matter. “What exactly is the agreement?”Alex, recovered, took up the tale again, “Each generation shall have it’s own task.Each task will be dangerous and require some sacrifice but not deadly ones unlessthe task is refused. Before the generation’s heir births an heir for the nextgeneration he or she must form a cadre of not more than 8 and complete thatgeneration’s quest. The heir cannot make the sacrifice, one of the team mustaccept it and take it on, themselves. If none will make the sacrifice, the heir willdie. And the next generation’s task will be taken up by the next heir’s line.”
  51. 51. “Mom, I don’t know if you noticed, but Chloe and I are both quitepregnant. Unless Bryan is the heir, we’re running a bit short on time.”“The tasks would begin with the next generation. “ Alex answered. “Yourchildren rather than you. It’s why you have to agree.”“This sounds like a bunch of Storybook BS.” Bryan was having none of it.“I’m leaving.”
  52. 52. “Bryan, wait.” Leif stopped him. “I realize this appears outside reality, but itseems that this is the best way to have Blake returned and Belinda stopped.”“Listen, Papa, I feel for you and mom, and all, but I hardly know the kid, and itwasn’t exactly our decision for you guys to push out another kid right beforeyou get old. I’m not mortgaging my future or my possible kids futures, if Ieven have any, for someone I’ve barely even seen.”
  53. 53. “You guys are insane. I’m so out of here.”
  54. 54. After Bryan left, Leif took his seat and they sat in silence for amoment. “I understand that we have dropped a bomb on youchildren, and if you decide as Bryan has, that you cannot help,we will attempt to find some other way.” Leif tried to beunderstanding, but the kids could tell that Alex was steaming.
  55. 55. “There isn’t any other way! This is the only way any of you will have any peace inyour lifetimes. Belinda is only a couple of years older than you guys and if she’ddo this to me, why wouldn’t she do it to you too? What if she finds out that youhave something she needs and kidnaps your kids? What will you do then? Thiswill stop her, without any possible legal consequences, forever.”They discussed it and ultimately reached the conclusion that Alex was right.Neither Brenda nor Bastien wanted to be responsible for the death of their littlebrother, and they were sure that their children would share just as much mutualconcern, so no one would ever die of the quests. Besides, they’d be restoring anentire race of people.
  56. 56. None of them, however, were particularly thrilled.“Have you reached an agreement?” Deirdre asked when she returned.“We don’t have a lot of choice.”“I suppose.”“I guess.”And they all agreed to Deirdre’s terms.
  57. 57. “Excellent. I see that your mother is very convincing. So, here is the plan. I will makemy preparations and tomorrow Belinda will contact Alex asking to meet at theEnchanted Pastries Internet Café here on my land for the exchange. “Alex interrupted, “But there isn’t any…”“There will be. Alex, you will arrive and make the exchange. Belinda will have a pastry,beginning the spell layers. Your husband will confirm when the child is returned. I willactivate the spell and track your sister for confirmation. After she has completed herdeal with her compatriot, I will trigger the spell. Now, please return to your residences.Alex, I will see you tomorrow.”Without asking any questions, they all immediately stood up and left. Alex’s children allarrived back at their house with no idea how they had even gotten back, includingBryan.
  58. 58. While Alex awaited Belinda’s contact, Deirdre made her preparations forthe coming day. She had more to do than she had let Alex and Leif knowand she would need every minute of preparation before the exchangedhappened the next day.
  59. 59. Especially given that the baking had to be done inthe traditional manner.
  60. 60. At her house, Belinda had discovered an advertisement for anew internet café when she arrived home from work. She wasimmediately sure it would be the perfect place for her to meetwith Alex and emailed instructions to Alex and her henchman.
  61. 61. When Alex arrived the next day to make the exchange, she wassurprised to discover that there was a café there, where there hadonly been mountains and forest the day before. It looked as thoughthe building had been there forever, even though she knew it hadn’tbeen there just the day before.
  62. 62. Alex was already sitting at a computer, ready to go, when Belindaarrived.“Ah, good, I see you are as anxious for the return of your child as I am formy money.” Belinda started to sit down at one of the other computers.
  63. 63. But Deirdre stopped her. “I’m sorry, Ma’am, but the computers are forcustomer use only. If you would like to sample one of our trulyenchanting pastries, however, you may use them for as long as you like,afterward.”“Fine. Whatever.”
  64. 64. Belinda ordered a pastry and she did admit to herself that it was probablythe most delicious pastry she’d ever had, she wasn’t sure what made thedifference, but there was just something unusual about the spices orsomething. However, time was wasting, so she finished it quickly andreturned to the computers.
  65. 65. “Excellent. I see the electronic transfer has gone through. Now wecan set this little situation to rest. It surprises me, though, that youwere able to get the money so quickly. Perhaps I should have askedfor more.” Belinda stood up to go.
  66. 66. “I’m not letting you go out that door until I know that Blake is safe andsound.” Alex stood in Belinda’s way, ready to take them both to the ground ifthat were necessary. No way Belinda was leaving until Blake was returned tothem.
  67. 67. “Fine, fine, just testing you.” Belinda paused and then spoke into theearpiece hiding behind her hair, “Yeah, let my darling nephew go, I’ve gotthe money. Yes, yours too. See you later.” She turned to Alex, “It should bea few minutes and then your husband should call.”
  68. 68. “I’m not moving until I get confirmation. “ Alexturned her own headset on.
  69. 69. The two stood there waiting awkwardly until Alex’ phone buzzed.“He’s safe, he’s fine, I have him.”“Thank the Lady.” Alex scowled at her sister but stepped out ofthe way.
  70. 70. She didn’t see the proprietor follow her out.
  71. 71. “Thank you so much for helping us. We’ll be eternallygrateful to you for helping us get little Blake back homesafely. I have to go, but thank you, thank you so much!Call me to tell me what happened with Belinda!”
  72. 72. “Oh, Alex?”“Yes?”
  73. 73. “One last thing. So that you do not forget, there will be children who aremarked. The marks will not harm them, but they cannot be the heir. Oneof them must be included in the quest each generation. Now go, andforget the way to my home.” Alex left without saying a word and arrivedhome too excited about Blake’s return to worry about how she got there.
  74. 74. When Alex got home, Leif told her what had happened while she hadbeen having her standoff with Belinds.“I waited by the window, but not so that anyone could see me, and Iheard a car drive up and a door slam and I peeked out and there wasBlake sitting on the curb.
  75. 75. “I rushed out to grab him as the car sped away, so that they couldnot change their minds, and checked him over to make sure hewas uninjured.
  76. 76. “He was fine, but very upset, and so I cuddled him closeand hugged him strongly until he stopped crying”
  77. 77. “By the time I thought to look around, the car wasgone.”
  78. 78. “But with Blake safe, I did not care.”“Come on, little man, lets get you into the house.”
  79. 79. Several days later, Alex received a phone call fromDeirdre.
  80. 80. “Your sister met with her minion and finished her deal.”“Congratulations on getting your inheritance back, you havemy money?”“Right over there.”
  81. 81. “It was nice working with you. Perhaps we can celebrate your victorymore… personally, later.”“I’d like that very much, but right now my husband is home and I don’tthink he’d appreciate finding you in our bed. Have a good evening.”
  82. 82. “When Belinda returned from seeing him out, I’mafraid she began to feel terribly unwell.”
  83. 83. “She tried to make it to the sofa, but with each stepshe felt worse and worse…”
  84. 84. “Until she collapsed to the floor.”
  85. 85. “When she awakened, she no longer was who she had been.Belinda Fortune-Barrister no longer existed and in her placewas Lindy Worshes, the housekeeper for the Fortune family.There is no record that Belinda ever existed.
  86. 86. “What will happen to her now?”“She will act as the housekeeper, unless she gets herself fired. Noone remembers her as anything else and she does not rememberany other life.”
  87. 87. “She has a relatively comfortable room over the garage, which fitsher memory of her usual sort of residences.”
  88. 88. “And Andrew and her children?”“Andrew believes his wife Belinda Barrister divorced him for anotherman and that his ‘friend’ Bunny asked him to move in with her familysince he needed help caring for the children. He does occasionallydrink too much.”
  89. 89. “And then find himself strangely attracted to the housekeeper. Heoften indulges in that attraction despite his ongoing relationshipwith Bunny, telling himself that he only does it when he has had toomuch to drink and that he cannot help himself.”
  90. 90. “I cannot, of course, say for certain, but the signs point to Lindy Worshes findingherself in an untenable position before too long. It will not help her that menother than Andrew sometimes find themselves invited to her room. However,whatever happens, I think your problem is truly solved.”“Thank you for letting me know.”“You are most welcome, but I must go. I have another commitment to preparefor.”
  91. 91. It had indeed been a pity that Alexandra’s motherhad taken such strength out of the circle.
  92. 92. And this generation did owe a payment, thoughDeirdre had not mentioned that.
  93. 93. It was a bonus that they were such attractive children.“Oh, my, please excuse my state of dress. I so rarely seepeople way out here.”
  94. 94. “And you are such a good looking man. Why, I believe I feel faintwith desire simply being in your presence. I hope you won’tthink me forward, but would you like to come in?”
  95. 95. And it seems he would. Though for him it would allbe a dream.
  96. 96. With Blake back at home and Brenda nearing her time, she invited her parents up tobe with her for the birth of their first grandchild. Alex refused to leave Blake alone andthey couldn’t bring him, so Leif came by himself.“Thanks for coming, Papa, I know Brenda will be glad to have you here.”“I am glad to be here. Your mother, however… she is still very upset and will not leaveBlake. She is nervous of the safety of the house, as well, so we are making somechanges and getting a dog or two. It will be much different when next you see it.”
  97. 97. Brenda went into labor later that night in the bathroom. There wereseveral guests and a couple of them came in to watch, but most ofher family was there, so she didn’t care that much.“Lady! This hurts!”
  98. 98. But despite the pain and onlookers, baby Camden was born to hisoverjoyed mother. He was marked, as the witch had said some oftheir children might be, but she was not concerned.”
  99. 99. Late one night later in the semester, Chloe too gave birthin the bathroom. It was so late, however, that everyonehad gone home or was asleep and Chloe had to laboralone.
  100. 100. “Um, Brends?”“What’s up, Chlo? D’you know what time it is?”“No, but I could use a little help here.”
  101. 101. “What? Oh. Baby time. Why aren’t you off showing her tomy brother?”“I just kind of need you to hold her for a second.”“Why?”
  102. 102. “Oh. Ohmagoddess. Twins.”“Lady that hurts.”
  103. 103. And so little Cleopatra and Colette were born to their very tiredmommy, helped by their aunt. Tara was marked like her cousinCamden, as a reminder of their promise, but Chloe and Bastienloved both girls just the same.
  104. 104. They hadn’t really prepared for three babies, so Brenda,knowing that she was nearly ready to graduate,volunteered to give up her room to be a makeshift nurseryand moved her bed to the unfinished 2nd floor.
  105. 105. With three babies in the house, all the parentswere kept very busy.
  106. 106. Even Uncle Bryan had to help out sometimes.
  107. 107. Fortunately, soon it was time for Brenda to take her final set ofexams. Bryan was due as well, but he was staying on for grad school.He said that the SCIA only took people with graduate degrees and hewanted to make it to the top so he could know all the secrets.
  108. 108. So with exams over and passed, Brenda gave herself a peptalk in themirror. “OK. I can do this. I’m an adult now. I can get a job and bethe best chef to ever not burn lobster. I can raise my baby to be afully functioning member of society and I can do it all withoutcollapsing into a gibbering mess.
  109. 109. And with her confidence buoyed, Brends had onefinal college hurrah.
  110. 110. Ahem. One final college hurrah.
  111. 111. And headed home with little Camden.
  112. 112. She was not, however, prepared for what she found there.Fornicating Fitzhugh! There was renovating and then there wasrenovating. The house had been torn down and entirelyrebuilt! And there were really fierce looking dogs now, too.Her mother sure wasn’t taking any chances!
  113. 113. She wasn’t sure what to think about the dogs, thoughArtemis and Ajax did warm up once properly introduced.
  114. 114. Fortunately Brenda’s parents rushed out to greether before the dogs could cause her any trouble.
  115. 115. After he hugged her, Leif immediately started cooing at Camdenand couldn’t wait to hold him. “Ah, who’s my most favoritestgrandson ever, who’s my most smartest grandson.”“Papa, he’s your only grandson.”“Hush, don’t listen to your mother, Cammy-kins.”
  116. 116. And Alex was even more anxious to greet her daughter. Shehadn’t seen her since the wedding.“Are you OK, labor wasn’t too difficult? And you didn’t work tohard your last semester, did you?”
  117. 117. Not that Alex wasn’t just as enthralled with her grandbaby, evenif he was only a little younger than her youngest son.“Aw, you are the sweetest little thing, yes you are, yes you are,shush shush shush.”
  118. 118. Both grandparents appreciated having time to spend with Camdenwhen he was a baby, because not long after Brenda’s return it wastime for his birthday. Brenda invited both her brothers and Chloe andtheir babies and her friend Gerrick to the birthday, but it was veryawkward because Alex was still refusing to speak to her oldest son andhe would not apologize for what he had said.
  119. 119. Camden was just happy that everyone was here to see him. Hewas happy with having everyone love him and be happy for hisbirthday.
  120. 120. After some consideration, everyone agreed that the markingsmade him look very distinguished and that he was the cutesttoddler currently in the family. Unfortunately, the party did notlast too long, due to the awkwardness and because Brenda wasn’tfeeling well.
  121. 121. And, with some time spent communing with the porcelain god,Brenda had a pretty good idea what might be causing her digestiveupset. Brought home from Uni: One sheepskin diploma, onebaby, and one surprise pregnancy.
  122. 122. Brenda wasn’t really worried about her suspicions, though. If she was, shewas. None of the local restaurants were hiring right now, so she could use thetime to spend with Cam and in taking a few culinary classes.“Mommy’s tummy gurgle. Mommy go potty with mouf.”“Yep, kiddo, Mommy’s tummy gurgles and then Mommy throws up.”“Frows up in potty.”
  123. 123. “Mommy’s tummy got round, like Cammy’s tummy. Tickletickle hee hee.”And Camden was right about that too, Brenda realized, hertummy had gotten round. She was definitely pregnant again.
  124. 124. Not that she let Camden get away with anything because ofthat. Even though she was tired, slow, and grumpy, he stillneeded to learn to walk and practice his talking. She spentmost of her pregnancy in the nursery teaching him.
  125. 125. It wasn’t all work, however. Camden got some play time tospend with “Unca Blake” as well. They were close enough inage that they had a chance to play together, which was nicesince all Blake’s siblings were so much older.
  126. 126. And they both got a chance to play with the “doggies”.“Look, look, Unca Blake, Awtems luffs me.”“I dwaw!”
  127. 127. And Artemis might have loved Cam, but Ajax loved Blakejust as much. Most especially when he’d been eatingbread with jam.
  128. 128. And it was good the dogs had gotten a chance to practice onthe yuman puppies, as they were going to have a puppy oftheir own.
  129. 129. And before long it was time for Brenda to give birth again. Alex hadhad to work that day, but Leif was home to comfort her. “Remainof calmness, Brenda. Breathe, breathe.”“But Papa, it huurrrrttttssssss.”
  130. 130. Once she was holding Conrad in her arms, Brendathought it was worth it.
  131. 131. And then it was time for Blake’s birthday. Alex had beenresponsible for planning the party and Bastien and Chloe wereboth invited, as were their now toddling twins, but they haddecided to leave the girls at Uni with Bryan, who had not beeninvited.
  132. 132. Blake grew up into a child and shared a strong resemblance to therest of his siblings. While none of them were clones, it was readilyapparent that they were all closely related.
  133. 133. Once Blake went to bed, however, Alex got to the other reason she’dinvited them to the party.“As you know, Bastien, Chloe, you have both nearly graduated, and Brendais already out, so it is time to decide on an heir.”
  134. 134. But Leif interrupted her before she could get further. “Before we decide Iwant to say that I am proud of all my children and that neither of youneed to be heir if you don’t want it. Blake can be heir if necessary, oryour mother and I could go to a fertility specialist to have another baby. Idon’t want you to feel you need to do anything you don’t want to do.”
  135. 135. Bastien looked relieve at his father’s words. “To be honest, I don’t reallywant it. I want to build something for myself. Brenda and Bryan alwaysdid everything first, had everything first, knew everyone first. I wantsomething for me that is just mine. Ours.”Everyone tactfully refrained from looking at Chloe, but she knew.
  136. 136. Chloe looked at Bastien. “I want that for us too. With all duerespect to your family, I think we need our own space for awhile. Someplace we can have to grow together.
  137. 137. Alex looked at Brenda. “Well, do you think you couldtake on the role of heir?”They all stared at her, waiting for her answer.
  138. 138. “Mom, to be honest, I’ve always kind of thought I was going to be heir.Bastien has always talked about wanting to forge his own path and Bryan?Well, no offence to Bryan, but he’s kind of a dick. I don’t think he’d make agood patriarch. And he doesn’t seem to want to do the kids and family thinganyway.”And so it was decided.
  139. 139. Bastien and Chloe were relieved to have it over with and nolonger hanging over their heads. They’d had a busy year withTara.
  140. 140. And Lettie both having their birthdays.
  141. 141. And then needing to learn their skills, all while theirparents were frantically trying to finish their senioryear.
  142. 142. Both parents tried to spend time with them, though Chloe didn’talways know what to say.“And if you keep this up, you’ll both do really well in school!”
  143. 143. “Silly Mama, I walkin’.”“Yes, you are, baby, yes you are.”
  144. 144. The girls really got along, so they were able toentertain each other as well.
  145. 145. So their parents were able to study, pass theirexams and graduate on time.
  146. 146. Unlike Brenda, neither needed peptalks or lasthurrahs, so first Chloe
  147. 147. Then Bastien, graduated and the four of themmoved back to Enhearten to start their new lives.
  148. 148. Gradschool exams were on a slightly different schedule andBryan got to spend a few days in the house by himself. He usedthe time to throw killer parties, with no babies or pregnantladies around to squash his fun.
  149. 149. He was also looking for someone to pass the house onto.He thought Flor was a good choice. It didn’t hurt that shewas really hot. His nephews should thank him.
  150. 150. Then it was time for Bryan, too, to grow up and move out.He’d delayed that aging stage as long as he could. And withhis change, all three of the other siblings from thisgeneration were settled.
  151. 151. Author’s Note:Belinda’s henchman is Deuce Mercer, bySleepycat. He’s usually a bit shady and hewas handy to help Belinda out.This was very complicated to play withgetting the pregnancies, ages, and timingright. But it worked out in the end. Hopeyou had fun reading!