As the morning sun rose higher overhead, Lily stretched and basked in it,
enjoying the warmth on her skin. Rubbing her stomach, she felt the intense
craving for a grilled cheese sandwich and realized she had better make her
way into the small, peaceful village known as Desiderata Valley.
She had precious little money left, really not enough to even rent a place,
not that there were any apartments in the valley to rent. She was lucky
enough to find the small, quiet spot in the wooded outskirts of town where
she put up her small tent and set up camp.
She had chosen this place specifically because of its seemingly bright and sunny
disposition. She had spent some time traveling and exploring after leaving the
dark anonymity of Sim City and had finally decided on Desiderata because it
represented a drastic change. Her past was a story better saved for another day.
One someone else would have to tell.
Her first order of business was to find some form of
employment to replenish her bank account and she
headed into town with that end in mind.
From his secreted vantage point, he watched her moving
around the impromptu camp in the woods outside of
She was so unusual. So unique. He had never seen or met anyone like her.
Her hair was what really caught his attention though. It was long, silky,
beautiful, and the copper color glinted in the sunshine. He closed his eyes
and imagined the feel of it as he pulled it through his fingers.
Shivers of anticipation tingled up his spine. She was so unlike the girls
he had sought out before. It had been so long since the last girl. Had
it been so long? It would take time, but she would be his. He was
sure of it.
As Lily explored the town, she made a mental note of
The Frippery Frock and the small art museum.
Her first stop though was the Kiddie Care Castle. It was
the building that intrigued her and she was drawn to its
bright colors and clean white walls.
The idea that it was a castle full of fairy tales and dreams that come true fueled
her imagination as she walked up the steps to see what it was. She noticed the
small block letter sign in the window that said “Help Wanted. Inquire Within.”
and felt lightness in her step as she opened the door and walked in.
It was love at first sight. Or maybe love at first sound would be a better
description. The bubbling sounds of children at play mixed with the
colorful carpets were like a beacon to her.
“Can I help you?” a smartly dressed woman in a colorful
apron asked as she approached.
“Uhm, I saw your sign in the window. I was wondering if
you were still looking for help?”
“Miss Molly, Miss Molly!” a small dark haired boy
interrupted, tugging at the other woman’s apron.
“Alistair has burnt another muffin! I’m sure the oven shall catch fire now!”
“Excuse me a moment,” Molly Jones said as she turned to address the boy.
Lily noted that her smile extended to her eyes as she talked to him.
“Now Alfred, you are interrupting. I know you have a valid concern for the safety of the
other children, but we discussed this the last time Alistair burnt a muffin. The oven will
not catch fire. It is a safety oven, otherwise we wouldn’t allow it in the building. If you
would like, you can stand watch and I will come take a look in a moment.” She paused
thoughtfully, “I did notice that Mario over at the activity table is having some trouble
with his block tower. Perhaps you could help him instead.”
The boy Alfred considered both suggestions and
eventually meandered over toward the activity table to
help the younger child with his blocks.
“He means well,” Molly explained as she turned back to Lily. “He is
an extremely cautious child, but he looks out for the others and
would do anything for them,” she explained with affection in her
“Now, about that job,” she trailed off as she made her
way toward a small office hidden at the back of the
kitchen, indicating that Lily should follow.
“I’m Molly Jones. My husband Desmond and I have run the Castle for the last five years.
I’ll be honest, it’s a small town. You’re the only one who has inquired in the three weeks
since I posted the sign. You pass the background check and you’re hired. The hours are
Monday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. There’s not really a lunch break, we eat with the
kids. It calms down at nap time, but we still have to be here to watch them as they sleep
and not all of them do. The salary is $10 per hour. I can pay you daily or weekly, your
preference. Still interested?”
Lily smiled and nodded her head. “I would love the opportunity,” she
replied. “It’s been awhile, but I have some experience with children and
enjoy being around them. It never gets old, watching them as they figure
out how things work, or watching their imaginations grow.”
They moved into the kitchen and Molly went through a
small barrage of questions, gauging how Lily would react
to different situations, and observed her as she
interacted and played with the children for a short time.
After reading the children a story, Lily settled into a chair at one of
the lunch tables and filled out the necessary paperwork. She
walked over and handed it back to Molly.
Molly looked over the paperwork and gathered the older children, leading
them all outside.
“Everything seems to be in order. The background check should come back in
the next three days. I’ll see if I can push it through any faster. You can start as
soon as I get that report.”
For the first time since she stepped in the door, Lily felt
some apprehension. “I don’t have an address yet. I…”
“Where are you staying?” Molly asked before Lily could finish.
Lily looked sheepishly at the ground, “I’ve set up a camp on the outskirts of
town in the woods. I can stop by in a day or two and check on the results…”
“Nonsense!” Molly huffed as she got up and headed
back inside the Castle. “Wait here.”
Lily’s face fell. She felt so sure she would fit right in here.
Something about the brightness, the color, the light.
“Here,” Molly came toward her jingling a set of keys. “This is to a small
cottage by the waterfront. A shack really. I used to live there before
Desmond and I were married. It’s been empty for an age, so it’ll
probably need a good cleaning.”
“But…but I don’t have the money for rent, or anything,”
“We’ll come to an arrangement. The place really is a
mess. You can stay there rent free for three weeks. If
the job is a fit, I’ll charge you rent. In the meantime, you
clean it up for me. Make it livable.”
Lily’s city girl mindset started to kick in and she weighed her
options. Were there unseen strings attached? She didn’t think so.
She held out her hand, “sounds like a deal.”
He could barely contain himself as he made his way back to the
campsite. The excitement built and he trembled in anticipation.
He wondered if her skin was as velvety smooth as the others, and if
her eyes would be as expressive.
His elation faded quickly as he realized she wasn’t there and was unlikely to
return. Angrily, he kicked at the dirt surrounding the cold fire ring. It hadn’t
been used since early that morning. The tent was gone as well as all of her
gear. She must have come back and packed everything up.
Frustrated, he turned and began to make his way back to the road. Oh, he would find her,
he had no doubt. This was definitely a crimp in his plans though. It would take a little
more planning. Better planning. Something more cunning. But he would find her, and
she would be his. After all, the chase could be exciting too, couldn’t it?
Lily pulled back the newly washed sheets and comforter
from the bed and climbed in with a sigh of relief.
Molly had not been exaggerating when she said the small cottage was a mess. After
she had left Kiddie Care Castle, Lily made her way back to camp and repacked her
things. Her second trip down the hill into town took her past Gustav’s Grocery where
she used the last of her money to pick up the items required to make grilled cheese
and a bag full of cleaning supplies, including a sturdy broom and a good mop.
She had spent the better part of the afternoon and most of the evening cleaning,
dusting, mopping, sorting and rearranging until she was satisfied with how the small
She had worked hard, but she had
also taken a few breaks. Mostly to
And she was finally able to make
Alistair Mole’s head snapped up from his bowl of macaroni and
cheese. His eyes locked briefly with his twin’s before he jumped
up, nearly knocking his chair over, and ran out the front door.
John Mole reached down, eyes crinkled in a smile, and
ruffled his son’s hair. “Yes Alistair, I am. And how are
you on this fine evening?”
“I’m great Dada. But Alfred will probably tell you that I tried to burn down the Castle the
other day. I didn’t though, I was makin’ a muffin. And Nanny Mallory took us to the park
too, and I finally got to slide down the pole when Alfred wasn’t looking so he wouldn’t
tattle on me, and I made some drawings for you too,” Alistair finished a bit breathlessly.
Alfred Mole stood back on the porch, patiently waiting for his turn with his
father. He loved his twin immensely, but had learned long ago to stay out of
his way when he was running for something. As the pair came closer, he
stepped into the full light and hugged his father.
“Hi Dada. I’m glad you’re home.”
“Me too son, me too,” John said as he hugged him back.
“Come on,” John smiled, putting an arm around each
boy. “Let’s get inside and you can tell me all about your
adventures while I was gone.”
Something was wrong. Very wrong. Rick Contrary
swung the door open and found a toddler sitting in a
dirty diaper, crying.
Swooping her up into his arms, he carried her to the changing
table. He changed her diaper and picked her up again to head into
the kitchen for a bottle.
He was surprised to feel her small hands grasp his neck as she snuggled her
head close to his chest. He patted her back and comforted her as best he
could, then put her in the crib, hoping she would fall asleep quickly.
His next task was a phone call to the police. The glimpse he had of the other room as
he picked up the child and put her to bed was quite gruesome. They would need to
gather evidence. The third thing he did was call John Mole, who was a close family
friend. John would know what to do. Rick wasn’t sure how he knew, he just did.
Who was the baby? His relationship wasn’t that great with his parents, he hadn’t spoken
to them in months, but he never imagined that they would keep a secret such as this
from him. He wandered the house aimlessly, only now noticing the baby toys and
pictures scattered about. He had a sister? A sister with no parents. Not any longer.
He called the Registrar, and in a numb monotone, informed them
that he would not be returning to school. He didn’t even feel the
sparkles as he transitioned into adulthood.
“Heya Dad,” Violet Jocque greeted her father Marcel as she made
her way from her bedroom to the bathroom.
“Mornin’ Punkin. When did you get home?” Marcel asked
absent-mindedly as he considered his next chess move.
“Oh, it was the wee hours of the night. I didn’t want to wake you and Mom on
my way in. I’ll be right back to talk to you a bit. I gotta use the little girls room
real quick,” she said as she rushed into the bathroom and closed the door.
“No worries. I’ll be right here,” he answered to the
A few moments later, she appeared again. “Mind if I join
you? Where’s Mom?”
“I was hoping you would. She left for work early this morning. She’ll be back
this afternoon. Wants to have a family meeting. You know what that means.
Hope I didn’t do anything to get in trouble,” he grinned conspiratorially.
“Well, it wasn’t me. I haven’t been home long enough to get into trouble,”
she grinned back. “What’s with the paintings in the living room? They
weren’t there when I was here for my last visit.”
“Meh. They’re your mother’s. Some kind of heirloom or something. She
put them in there a few weeks ago. Took forever to hang ‘em straight,”
he shrugged. “You can ask her about them at the family inquest.”
He gave another grin. “How’s your room? Mom figured you wouldn’t want to come
home to the little girl sports room you had before you left for college. She agonized a
bit over the bedspread.”
“It’s gorgeous. The new bed is comfy too. I slept like a baby,” she told him.
“Not really. Just a little workout, then gotta hunker
down and work on my resume so I can get to looking for
a job,” she said. “Nothing too pressure filled.”
It was late afternoon when Sophia Jocque returned home from work.
No one was quite hungry enough for a meal and so she called to
Marcel and Violet to join her in the living room.
She waited until they had settled comfortably and with some trepidation began.
“I have something to tell you, and I’m not sure how you’ll react, but let me preface
everything by saying that I love you both very, very much and would never do
anything to intentionally hurt you.“
“Mom, what is going on? Are you sick?” Violet’s imagination
kicked into overdrive.
“No, I’m not sick. It’s a long story, and it’s well past time that it
should be told.”
“Many generations ago, much of the land that is now inhabited by humans belonged
to the Elves. In various ways, the land was taken away, some violent, some not, and
the elves retreated to what is now known as the North Forest. It is a magical and
well hidden place and few humans know of its existence. Elves, on the other hand,
were well aware of humanity and many feared and hated them.
However there were those who were the exception. Half human, half elf children
were born, something that was not tolerated in the North Forest. Many children
were killed, their parents exiled and shunned. There was one though. One who
escaped. Her name was Carli Doran. She was the first whose life was saved, but
more importantly, she symbolized hope for others.
It was long ago, but her line has survived and become strong, if cursed. For a
long time, her descendants were followed, attacked and persecuted as an
abomination. Elves were encouraged to destroy them and any other half
breeds they came across. This was the way of the Elves for a long time.
However, a few generations later, things started to change.
You are probably curious about the paintings I’ve hung in this room.
They are The Three. Thea, Stanlina, and Edwina. All three were the
best of friends. All three fell in love with humans at the same time.
Thea and Edwina gave birth to half breeds. The time was very
dangerous for them and their children, and with great sadness, they
sent them to the humans to be raised in peace.
Their portraits were created as a talisman to protect the children
from the North Forest Elves, a glamour if you will, to hide their
elfin features. As long as the children were in possession of the
paintings, no harm would befall them from the Elves.
The Three were not ones to sit idly by and allow the persecution of half breeds to continue.
Fueled by the hope of Carli Doran’s story, they began an underground movement to rescue
as many as they could. Humans had always welcomed the half breeds, and there were
even documented cases where they were adopted, given a home, and raised as family.
Over time, their movement grew. More of the Elves came to light who did not agree with
the termination policies of past elders.
The last Elf Queen, Ariel, was a follower of The Three’s philosophy.
Even so, as she came to power, she had to be careful. She gathered an
elite force and sent them out in disguise amongst the humans. They
were to observe human behavior towards those who were different
and report their findings.”
Sophia looked at the floor and her voice grew very quiet, “some of us went
beyond what was asked. We fell in love and had children of our own.”
She looked up at her beloved husband and daughter, tears glinting in her
eyes, hoping for understanding instead of rejection.
Marcel took her hand in his, “My love, nothing you could say or
do would ever change the way I feel about you,” he told her.
“Mom,” Violet began, “does this mean that you are an elf? I’m a
half breed? Cool! Do I have magical powers or anything?”
Sophia blinked. Then smiled, then laughed, “I don’t know why I ever
thought this would be a difficult thing to tell both of you.” Turning to Violet
she said, “The only power you have, my dear is the power to make me love
you more than I ever thought I could.”
Sobering up a bit, she continued, “There’s more I need
to tell you. Part of the story is yet to be written.
There was a battle. It was a terrible war between many supernatural creatures.
There are still Elves who do not wish to accept half breeds and who will do all in their
power to destroy them and those who support them. They joined the battle and
fought against followers of The Three.
Ariel was powerful and was able to offer protection to those of us who are
hidden amongst the humans. However, she was killed in the battle, and as she
died, so did her protection. I’ve been able to keep a glamour covering myself,
Violet and our home, but I am aging and I can feel my power waning.
The portraits provide some help, but we are not the original recipients of the wards,
nor are we descended from their bloodline, and they are not strong enough. On the
day I age to elder, my physical elfin characteristics will no longer be hidden and we
will be exposed,” she finished.
“So, what do we do?” asked Violet.
“I’ve been in contact with the others. They will do their best to keep
our enemies off our trail, but there are no guarantees. Regardless of
the danger, the work must continue. We have to keep working toward
acceptance of half breeds by the Elves.”
“How do we get involved?” Marcel finally spoke up,
leading them to an intense discussion lasting the
remainder of the evening.
I think we’ll stop here as Lily contemplates her future.
Giving credit where credit is due, much thanks goes to:
•Dicreasy for releasing the paintings of Thea, Edwina and Stanlina and allowing me to incorporate them
into the plot bunnies running around my head.
•Smoothiequeen87 for the picture of Carli running away.
•Orikes for the cover and review.
•Rose for her fantastic editor skills.