I had been napping when I felt a familiar tug at my belly. I climbed out of bed and smiled at Ellie and Jonathon.
Pop! Sounded softly as my stomach stretched to accommodate the baby. I couldn’t believe I was going to have another child to love! Ellie couldn’t believe it either, especially my story about my dream.
I was still working hard toward my 50 first dates, which had been a personal goal of mine for a long time but had been set aside when I married Dawson. As much as I missed him, meeting new people took my mind off the pain.
Besides, now that I was pregnant again, I didn’t have to worry about getting serious with anyone. As long as the baby was a girl, of course.
Tina was always willing to help, and Ellie could watch Jonathon for a few minutes.
------------ We felt his presence long before we actually saw him. Once he entered the house, every room was sucked of warmth, and we shivered as we waited for him to come to us. We knew he was coming to us.
Then he came, and we were both terrified. Mother didn’t understand, she wouldn’t have seen him anyway. Was this really our father? Why did he do this? There was no where to hide. All we had was the hope that this wouldn’t be a nightly occurrence. If we were lucky, we would never live this again. But we were born unlucky, and there was no doubt he would come again. --------------
After I finished with my dates for the evening, I sat down to watch TV with Ellie for a bit. Jonathon was in bed for the moment, and we watched in silence for some time. I noticed that when the door was blown open, Ellie stiffened and seemed quite scared. It was only the wind, right? The look on Ellie’s face smashed that theory, but I didn’t want to pursue it.
I decided to stay on the safer topics, like dating.
Inevitably, though, conversation led to vampirism and Dawson, exactly what I wanted to avoid. Ellie left in a huff, and I was left alone.
After she left, I again felt the tickle in my stomach.
I was one step closer to having Dawson’s third baby to enjoy.
While Ellie was at school and Jonathon was in bed, I took the time for a few more dates.
When Ellie returned it was time for Jonathon’s birthday.
I helped him blow out the candles, unable to believe that my little boy was growing so fast.
Ellie seemed truly animated for once, and that fact alone made me outrageously happy.
As a child Jonathon became even more quiet and reserved, serious but not as emotional as Ellie. That may just have been the gender and age difference, but it might have been more. I didn’t have much time to think about it, though.
I had been about to settle down for the night when the familiar pain took over.
Even though I was giving birth to her little sister before her eyes, Ellie didn’t seem to care.
“ What do you think of the name Emilie?” I asked. Ellie ignored me and turned on the TV. “Oh, well. Emilie Hope Mendez you shall be, little baby.” I was overjoyed that I had a new heiress like Mae had suggested, and I hadn’t needed to replace Dawson after all.
---------- There was nothing else to do, so Ellie decided to repair the broken computer. As she prodded the wires and chips, she couldn’t help but glance nervously at the stereo where that man had died. For the millionth time she asked herself, “ Did I do that? Was that my fault? ”
Just then a current of electricity ran through her body. It wasn’t very strong, but Ellie fought back tears all the same. “ I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean to. That’s just who I am. You forced me to be like this. It isn’t my fault. No, it’s not. It’s not! ” ----------------
“ Yes, I was just thinking of how you look more youthful every time I see you, Hope. Yes, now that you are the mother of three, you still look like a teenager. Yes, how many would wish for that gift, no?”
With a laugh I filled her in on the latest addition to the Mendez clan.
The first few dates were the usual batch of “Hello, goodbye!” Then Tina brought somebody different.
“ Wow. I know this is gonna sound like a lame pickup line, but I think I know you from somewhere,” I searched the man -- Komei’s -- face, unable to fight the feeling of familiarity. “ Funny, so do I.”
We chatted for some time, deciding that even if we had never met before we had some kind of a bond. We also decided that “just friends” would be fine.
----------- Ellie was practically doing cartwheels around the room from joy. She had gone out to get the paper this morning and there he was: Jerry Lawson, Ellie’s One and Only. She had almost dragged him inside, but he wasn’t as thrilled about her impromptu matchmaking as Ellie was.
When he turned away and waved her off, Ellie felt her insides crash down again. For a few moments she had been whole again, but it never lasted. Most of the time Ellie could just try to move on, but this time she wasn’t giving up. She invited him to play pinball. For now, that would be enough.
“ Did you happen to watch that new movie? With Bella Goth, about the nuclear bombs?” Ellie managed to make conversation without sounding too desperate, she thought.
“ Yeah! It was so cool, especially when Don Lothario’s character was, like, jumping in the air to catch the bomb and save the world and his girl, you know?” Ellie nodded and concealed her grin by leaning over the pinball machine. That had been her favorite part, too!
“ How about the bit with the aliens? How did you feel about them?” Ellie asked nervously. If he though aliens were okay, maybe he would be fine with other supernatural things. Like, just maybe, vampires.
When Jerry enthusiastically agreed that aliens were cool, too, Ellie took the chance. Vampires would come later, now she needed a friend. “I... I always thought it would be fun to start a club or something about fun stuff like that, you know.”
“ Do you think you could help me?” Ellie blurted out as fast as she could.
“ Yeah! I always thought we needed something like that around here, too!”
Ellie took another opportunity then. Imitating what she had seen her mother do with her daddy, she leaned slightly towards Jerry. “Even if it’s just the two of us for now?” Was it wrong to enjoy the sight of him looking so nervous? Was it okay to think he looked cute when he blushed?
“ W-well, I g-guess so. I th-think,” he stammered, fanning the air furiously. “Why d-don’t we open that w-window for now? I think y-your AC just b-broke. Or s-something.” ---------
Baby Emilie and I eavesdropped on Ellie from the nursery. “Isn’t your sister silly? I hope I didn’t teach her that.”
I giggled, and the tiny baby laughed with me. “I feel sorry for that poor boy, though.”
“ You got the fire ready, Steff?” “ Sure thing, sweets.”
“ If you two are quite done, we have a meeting to go on with.”
Once the two Contessas had settled on the sofa, Steffi turned a teasing grin to Jaqueline. “Are you jealous of us? ‘Cause the human got your guy?” Just ignore her, and she’ll shut up. Ignore her , Jaqueline repeated over and over in her head.
That won’t work unless you remember to block your mind, Jaqui dear . Why couldn’t Steffi keep out of other people’s thoughts? She was so nosy. Jaqueline quickly brought the barrier over her mind, but Steffi managed to squeeze another insult in. Don’t think I couldn’t hear you, all those times you wondered what your kids would look like. When you said “Mrs. Jaqueline Collins” over and over. Then the human got him. Jaqueline let out a growl of rage and leapt to her feet.
Within seconds the two women were on their feet, yelling out names and insults. Richard groaned. Not again!
Then Steffi brought up the subject of their old leader again, and Jaqueline could no longer hold back.
All it took was a little flick of her finger, and the pile of books on the mantle was rocketing toward Steffi.
With a shriek, Steffi dropped to the ground faster than any human could. The books soared over her head and slammed into the wall.
“ Can’t you two get along for five minutes? Steff, get over here and leave Jaqueline alone. Jaqueline, pick up the books.” “ Fine,” the brunette huffed, replacing the books on the mantle with a pointing finger.
Finally, Richard could move on to the true reason for this meeting.
He peered into the fire, looking for any trace of his now dead friend’s family.
“ What do you see?” Jaqueline finally asked. “ It’s amazing. So amazing.” Then the flames flickered slightly, and the Contessas saw it, also.