Tarts and Lights

April moved in to May and I was attending my therapy sessions regularly. By regularly, I meant that I was regularly avoiding them until the last-minute, when Murphy and Jude would inevitably haul me to the car and drive me there themselves. They insisted that I’d been cleansed properly and that any left over depression I was having was because of something that I was not dealing with the right way.

They were right, of course. I wasn’t dealing with anything. I just didn’t want to. Dealing with it meant that I had to drag up unpleasant memories and left over feelings of hurt and betrayal.

I don’t know about you, but crying in the middle of my therapists office while shouting that I wasn’t a bad person, was not something that I looked forward too on a weekly basis. I felt wrung out at the end of it all. At least Murphy and Jude left me alone to sleep it off after we got home.

As much as I hated their actions, I couldn’t bring myself to actually hate them. They wanted what was best for me and were trying their hardest to do it while I kicked and fought back. They’re my Moms in every sense of the word. Jude especially. She’s happier than ever helping to take care of her grandsons while her daughter fights her inner demons. Though I get the feeling that she’d rather be back on the dig site sometimes.

I guess that’s what she’s used to after being shoved out of Ben’s life for so long. People tend to get used to the way things are done, so that when change comes along, they fight like hell to stay where they’re at or move on. I’m still stuck at the crossroads, deciding if I want to trust my therapist or not.

Yes, I talk to her. Yes, I tell her things. Do I trust her? All signs point to eventually.

So when I found myself eating ice cream while walking downtown with her, I started to warm up to the idea that trusting her wasn’t so bad. She didn’t bother to get me to talk until we got back to her office and I’d finished my ice cream.

“So when do you want to talk about the abuse?” she asked at the end of our session.

“Next to never.”

She laughed. “That’s a pretty long time. Are you sure?”

“No. I’ll let you know next week,” I said as I was putting on my jacket. May was still a bit chilly.

“All right, then. Next week.”

I paused with my hand on the door. “You’re not bad, for a shrink.”

“Thanks. You’re not so bad, either. Bit stubborn, though.”

I smiled. “You should have heard my grandmother when she was upset with me. Stubborn was the most positive thing that would come out of her mouth.”

“You’ll have to tell me next week, then.”

I nodded and stepped out of her office. Waving at her secretary, I let myself out on to the street to meet Ben. A rumble of thunder had me looking up at the sky and mentally cursing at myself for not remembering an umbrella.

I made my way to Indulgence Bakery. Waddling was as fast as I went these days, so Miss Maggie met me at the door and rushed me in just before the rain started. Maisy led me to an open table and ignored my protest as she pushed me down onto a chair.

“Hush now and sit. It was a smart thing, you coming here to wait this time,” Maisy said as she handed me a cup of tea. The smell of chamomile drifted up and had me sighing. She nodded when she was sure I wasn’t getting up and went back to helping customers.

“You holler if you see Ben’s car, yeah? My cell phone is about dead,” I said as I eyed the tart that Miss Maggie was dishing up for me.

“Will do, hon. Unless you want me to call his office and leave a message,” she said as she came over with the tart and pulled up a chair.

“No point,” I replied as I forked up a piece of cheese tart. The flaky crust melted in my mouth and I let out a sigh. “He’s out in the field today. Something about missing cows and burn marks.”

Maggie watched me like a hawk as I polished off the tart and then cleared away the plate for me.

“All right then. So how was your session?” She asked.

I looked up at her, a little annoyed. She put her hands on her hips and gave me a stern look. I kept my expression the same.

“Don’t you give me that, young lady. You’re every bit as precious to this town as Ben is. Of course we all know what’s going on and we all want to make sure that you’re doing better, not worse.”

“Then you know it’s intensely private and all I’m going to ever say is that it was good. Exhausting, but good.”

She waited for a minute, then when she realized I was serious about not giving up anymore information, she nodded.

“That’ll do, then.”

I watched for Ben out the front windows as I sipped my tea and rubbed circles on my belly. I was getting restless when Ben finally pulled up out front. Miss Maggie saw me motion out the window and hurried to step out and call to him before he went to my therapists office. He jogged over and managed to get in to the store without getting too soaked. The storm didn’t look to be letting up just yet.

“Hey, Salt-of-the-Earth,” I said with a smile as he bent to kiss me.

“Hey back, Trouble,” he replied as he sat next to me. Miss Maggie dropped off a cup of coffee, doctored just the way he liked it, and another tart for me.

I smiled up at her and turned back to Ben.

“Things go okay?” I asked as I took a bite of the tart.

“For the most part. There’s about a dozen missing cows, scorch marks that are bigger than George’s, and a broken fence. The new Sheriff is worried.”

News of there being a new Sheriff didn’t surprise me. We’d all voted in the interim election held last week. Jon Jones had won by a landslide because Captain Miller wanted no part of the office on account of his last name and the fact that he’s pushing sixty. I yawned a little and started rubbing my belly in circles again as I thought about what Ben said.

“He kicking?” Ben asked when he noticed what I was doing.

“SHE is playing soccer today,” I replied.

Ben laughed. “You know, we could always stop this and find out.”

“Then we’d have to find something else to argue about,” I pointed out.

“Good point. I like arguing with you,” Ben said as he picked up my hand and kissed my palm.

I smiled and was about to say something when the street lamps in front of the shop exploded. I curled in around my stomach and hid my face in case the window went next. Ben was already pulling me to my feet and pushing me towards the back of the store as more lights started to explode inside the store. I hustled as fast as I could towards the backdoor when Ben pulled me off to the side and pushed me into the storage room. There wasn’t a working light, it had already exploded.

“What the fuck was that?” I shouted.

“I don’t know, but I’m willing to bet its our friendly neighborhood terrorist,” Ben replied as he hustled more people in to the room.

“I am so sick of this bitch and her stupid ass fear mongering!” I shouted at his back as he went out to investigate. Miss Maggie rubbed my back and shoulders as I calmed down. As I waited for news that we could come out, Maggie and Maisy tried to get me to sit down, but I wasn’t having any part of what they wanted. If I was going to be attacked, I wanted to be on my feet.

Ben finally came back, telling us that it was clear. I stormed out of the storage room and headed for the car. I had no interest in staying any longer. Ben settled up with Maggie and met me at the car. He didn’t say much as he helped me inside and then went around to get behind the wheel.

“I’m sick of her too, ‘Lowe.” he finally said after starting the car and getting us pointed in the direction of home.

“Something must be done,” I said firmly.

“Something is being done. We have Alvin here, he’ll figure out what’s wrong.”

“He’s been here for more than a month. Doesn’t he have any clue what’s going on?”

Ben shook his head. “He says that she’s covering her tracks really well.”

“Everyone has a weakness, Ben. They have to find hers.”

“They will, Marlowe. In the meantime, just worry about the baby and getting better.”

“There may come a time when I’m not pregnant and I have the chance to end it,” I said. “When that time comes, I will end it.”

Ben didn’t bother to reply. He knew I would do as I said. I’d feel guilty as hell for taking another life; but if I had the chance to end it, I would.


No Sign

Day five.

Still no sign of the Twins.

Not. One. Word.

I’m terrified.

I imagine my babies out there in the cold, with someone they desperately want to get away from and I start crying. I want my family back and I want it whole again.

The Sheriff has been a walking ghost in the house when he’s here. He can’t go home. I’m honestly starting to suspect he may never go back to that house again if the Twins do not make it home. That’s not a thought that I like to think about.

The boys know something’s up, they just haven’t figured out how to put it into words. Alphie wanders around like a ghost behind the Sheriff, watching him carefully. When I pointed it out to Ben, he nodded and kissed my forehead.

“Don’t worry, He’s watching out for him in his own way.”

I tried to get him to explain, but I figure it’s a dragon thing.

The full moon this month was hard on all of us, this time around. No one wanted to be trapped inside, even for the night. It was a hard, restless night where I actually considered spending it upstairs. There were a few moments that, for the first time, made me re-think the “Dragons are cute!” feeling I’ve had ever since I met Ben and learned what he was.

Yeah, three fire-breathing, upset dragons will do that to a person.

They were just as upset the next morning. Sabine and I didn’t know what to do for them, so I started baking again.

I filled the kitchen with so much pie and bread that I had to call Grandmama Murphy to take it all away. She showed up just as I was pulling the latest cherry pie out of the oven.

“Give that here before you go dropping out of frustration,” she demanded and took the pie out of my hands when I teared up. “None of that now, you’ll work yourself into a tizzy.”

I sniffled, but nodded. Sabine huffed softly at me and flicked her tail. I could see her ears twitch back and forth with worry.

“I’m sorry, Sabine,” I said as I scratched her ears. She huffed at me again.

“Now, there’s a sight I didn’t think I’d see in my lifetime,” she said.

Sabine dipped her head to Grandmama Murphy, then trotted out of the room.

“Well! I hope it wasn’t something I said!”

I smiled. “No, she’s going to go check on the boys now that you’re here.”

“I like that, another babysitter for you. Why aren’t you lying down?”

I shook my head. “Too wound up. I can’t sleep.”

“Looks like you baked enough for an army. Do you have any flour left?” she demanded.

“No. I’m out. That pie was the last of everything,” I said as I sat down on a stool.

I rubbed my back as I watched her make room for the pie on one of the counters.

“I’ll take all of this off your hands for the restaurant. You’ll be paid, of course.”

“That’s not why I called you,” I said.

“I know, you called me because you’re feeling poorly and need support.”

I nodded.

“Well I’m here, but where is that man of yours?”

“Out with the search parties. They’re using a blue hills devil dog.”

Grandmama Murphy sucked in a breath.

“Oh my,” she said as she let it out. “No wonder they want Ben there.”

“Yeah. I can’t really blame him for being outside of this house. With the black magic Sabine and I dragged home, no one’s getting much sleep.”

She eyed me over. “You’re not sleeping at all, are you?”

I shook my head. “I’m too worried about the Twins. I want them home just as much as Eric does.”

Grandmama Murphy put her hands on her hips and stared me down.

“Now you listen here young lady. You calling me was the first smart thing you’ve done since the Twins went missing,” she said. “I’m going to take these pies to the restaurant, then I’m coming back here with one of Annabeth’s potions. You are going to drink it and then you’re going to bed.”

I wanted to protest, I really did. As I sat there and watched her load up the deserts that I had baked into her car, I realized on my own that I was being a twit. I let out a huge sigh and she smiled at me.

“There it is. I knew you’d come to your senses without my help.”

I smiled up at her. “I’m going to go take a shower.”

“Good for you. You’ll feel better. I’ll be back in an hour,” Grandmama Murphy said as she walked out the door.

I stared at the door for a minute before shaking my head and getting up from the stool I’d been sitting on. As I made my way upstairs,  I could feel the press of the magic that Sabine and I had brought home. It felt oily and thick while it pressed in on me, making me feel sick. Even the house was agitated and our combined magics didn’t help. Even the house was agitated.

I showered and dressed in night-clothes. I was just crawling in to bed when Grandmama Murphy opened the door to the bedroom and stepped inside.

“Good. I’m glad to see that you’ve sense left in that head.”

I sighed. “Yes Grandmama. I’m doing as instructed.”

“Don’t you take that tone with me. You’ve plenty of family willing to look after the Twins, but you insist on doing it yourself,” she said as she thrust the bottle she was holding into my hands. “You can’t. Not this time. This is too big. Now drink that.”

I studied the purple bottle, turning it in my hands while I watched the potion and its magic dance inside.

“You have to drink it for it to work, Poppet.”

“I know, ” I said as I uncorked the bottle and drank it down. I felt a little woozy and Grandmama Murphy caught my head as I fell over.

“There’s a good girl. You sleep that off. I’ll be here watching the boys.”

“Good night Grandmama. I love you,” I said with a yawn as I slid into darkness.

I never did hear her response.



Valentine’s Day, Part 2

The next five minutes were agonizing as I hovered over the Sheriff, who was still lying on the floor. He babbled out what happened when he came around for a couple of minutes, but passed back out again. When the ambulance got there and I was pushed out-of-the-way, pacing the hallway was my next best option. I checked my phone every five minutes while waiting for Ben to come through the door. He came in just as they were taking the Sheriff away.

“I got here as fast as I could, what happened?” he asked as he came running through the door.

I launched myself into his arms and burst into tears. I was terrified not only for The Twins, but what would happen to The Sheriff if they were killed. Ben held me close, rubbing my back while he hummed. My chest was heaving by the time I calmed down enough to tell him what was wrong.

“Eric went home on his shift,” I said, breathing deeply and wiping away my tears. “He found the door wide open and the Twins were gone.”

“That’s not all that was there,” said Captain Miller as he came in to the Hall. “There were scorch marks everywhere, along with broken furniture, smashed doors and blood.”

I groaned and dropped my head to Ben’s chest.

“Please tell me it wasn’t the Twins..” I whispered. New tears were already falling.

“We can’t be sure,” he replied.

Ben’s grip on my back tightened. “Do you have anything, yet?”

Captain Miller shook his head.

“I sent Jones over with the crime scene unit, but there’s some kind of nasty mojo over the whole place. It’s taking down techs as fast as they go in to do their job,” he said. “Someone who’s immune to that shit needs to go in, but we don’t have anyone like that.”

“What about the priestess?” I asked.

“Went up to Grizzly Peak to help with a spot of trouble up there. She won’t be back until tomorrow and she might be too tired to help.”

I sighed and looked up at Ben.

“Sabine and I could go,” I said carefully.

Ben looked down at me, a little surprised I said anything to him first about going. I could tell he was thinking it over though.

“I don’t want to risk you or the baby,” he said to me, just as carefully. We both knew that something in our relationship had just changed. “but if you promise to listen to both myself and Sabine, back out when I feel there’s too much pressure on you, I can be okay with that.”

I nodded and looked over at the Captain. “We’ll follow you over with the truck and trailer.”

“Trailer?” he asked, looking a little bewildered. Then Sabine came around the corner and his jaw dropped. “Well I’ll be. I never thought I’d see one in person.”

“This is Sabine. We’re linked.”

That had the Sheriff looking at me sharply.

“You’ll need a key to the great library and you’ll need it fast if you’re linked. You need to read the Chronicles about unicorns,” he said.

There was a firm tone to his voice that didn’t make me put my back up, but rather made me incredibly wary about the link between myself and Sabine. I nodded at him.

“Okay, but first can we go find the Twins?” I asked.

He nodded to me and Ben left to get the truck and trailer together while I explained things to Sabine. She thought it was a fine idea to go over there and see if we could cut through the miasma surrounding the place.

“I would step lightly when we go, Marlowe. Anyone who does that kind of magic is not to be trusted. There could be any number of things waiting.”

“I know, but it’s herd and home.”

Sabine nodded. “I will make sure nothing happened to the baby. You may tell your mate.”

I thanked her while I got dressed in my outdoor gear, pulling on my boots. By the time Ben got back, I was dressed and Sabine was waiting with me at the door. While we helped her into the trailer, I told Ben what she said.

“That makes me feel better, actually.”

“Well that’s good.”

“I still don’t like this, but it’s the Twins. I know why you’d want to go.”

“Dragon day is tomorrow. You’ll need to be at home. We need to do this tonight,” I said firmly.

Ben nodded. “You promise to listen to me? Pull back when I feel you’re getting too deep?”

“I promise,” I said and hugged him. “I want them home. I want the family whole.”

“I know. We’ll find them if we can,” Ben said and opened my door to help me inside the truck.

He got in after making sure I was inside and we headed towards the Sheriff’s house. There was no talking between us, nothing more needed to be said until we got there. Pulling up to the house, I could see the scorch marks on the door frame as the light faded with the sunset.

My heart started beating faster and I reached over to grab Ben’s hand, calming down. He looked at me and nodded. I tried to smile, but I’m sure it was more like a grimace. My heart was starting to fill with icy dread that was as cold as the zero degree temperatures outside the car.

Sabine until now had been silent. As soon as we stopped she spoke,

“She was here.”

I jumped and gave a little yelp. Ben’s forehead wrinkled with worry.

“The woman who killed your herd?”


I didn’t know what to say. My eyes filled with tears as her sadness joined my fear and filled me. At that point, I was worried that I’d never feel warm again if something happened to the Twins and we could not bring them home. I got out of the truck without waiting for Ben to help. I know it annoyed him, but I needed to do it myself to prove I wasn’t helpless.

As Ben and I unloaded Sabine, there was quite a crowed.

“Now, we do work to ruin her day,” Sabine said.

I smiled. “What do I do?”

Sabine explained that we were going to try to purify the area together by just walking through the scene. She said that between the two of us, there would be more than enough magic to cleanse the area.

“But, how?” I asked.

“The magic wants to help. It’s just waiting for direction. So we tell it what to do,” she said as we walked to the house together. “Do not run. Stand your ground. If you run, it might kill you out of spite.”

I nodded, looking back at Ben. He smiled, but I knew it was fake. I knew he was worried and would probably pace the side-walk. I wiggled the walkie-talkie at him that he handed me before we started up to the house and then blew him a kiss.

I turned to Sabine and nodded. She nodded back and led the way into the house. I was glad there was only one step up to The Sheriff’s house, we got inside pretty easily. Once inside, I felt the crush of magic as it swarmed us. Black mixing with light, my head swam.

“Don’t faint, Marlowe. It is strong, but we are stronger,” I heard Sabine say through the gray that clouded my vision.

“I’m not going to faint,” I said as I squeezed my eyes shut.

I could feel tears leaking out as it pressed down and I pushed back. I was so angry that it was trying to make me faint that pushed back harder than I intended and felt it snap like the draw string of a bow that’s been loosed. The blow back hit me in the chest and face hard. I could feel my nose bleeding. I could feel the hate from the black side, drowning

“You push too hard, Marlowe. We should leave.”

“I thought you said not to run?”

I heard Sabine sigh and I nearly smiled.

“They’re hitting you hard because She left the magic for you. We have to leave.”

One more hit from the magic had me rethinking my will to stay. My lip was split, I could feel it swell and pull when I moved my mouth to breathe. I nodded at her.

“Lets go,” I said. I could feel the lip pull hard as I mouthed the words.

We stepped outside the house and the pressure stopped. I almost wept with relief. Ben rushed up and checked me over before saying anything. Then he kissed me.

“Don’t do that again,” he said quietly. “You’re not supposed to go where I can’t follow, remember? We made a deal.”

“It only took her twice to get me to leave. I left. As promised,” I said as I dropped my head to his chest. “Lets go get me checked out at the hospital and I’ll tell you what happened.”

Ben hugged me close. “You’ve gotta stop being so hard-headed. It’s going to get you killed and We’ve got a family.”

“That’s why I left when I did,” I murmured.

“I’ll leave off, but we need to have a talk later.”

“Later,” I agreed. “Doctor first.”

“You did well, Marlowe. Even if you are a little stubborn,” Sabine said. I could hear the humor that covered the grimness of what just happened.

“Some of that crap is going to follow us, isn’t it?”

“Oh, Most definitely.”

“Great. Wonderful.”

“I hear the, what’s that word you humans use? Sarcasm? I hear it in your voice.”

“That’s because I meant for it to be there,” I replied.

Sabine snorted, but said nothing. She trotted over to the trailer and waited to be helped inside.

Ben led me to the truck and helped me inside after we put Sabine in the trailer.

“I want ice cream. A big tub of it,” I said when Ben got into the car.

He turned and stared at me.

“What? It’s for the baby and my lip.”

Shaking his head, he started the car.

“You might be the death of me.”

“Buddy, I’m your salvation. You just haven’t figured it out yet.”

He surprised me by laughing.

“I’m not entirely sure of that.”

The truth is, I think we’re going to be the death of each other if this keeps up.


Valentine’s Day

With Jude back in the house as of yesterday morning, Ben and I figured that we could finally relax. We were so very wrong. This is how our Valentine’s day went and believe me, it’s a doozy of a day.

I woke up to the sounds of my beloved Fiance telling our son Logan to stop sniffing the dog’s butt. Logan thought this was hilarious and came running in to the bedroom with Alphonse, laughing hysterically and babbling. All in all, it was a bad way to wake up, just unusual.

Alphie stayed by my side today, he was practically stuck there. I spent the day trying to maneuver around him and when I was finally close to losing my temper, scooped him up and hauled him upstairs with me for a nap. Not even Sabina was helpful when it came to figuring out why he was acting that way. I gave up trying to figure it out while Ben was at work.

Having Jude back in the house is a godsend. She’s thrilled about the baby and insists on helping me plan the wedding. I even caught her upstairs in the nursery today moving furniture around and singing to herself. I can’t even get mad at her about it because everything she was moving is stuff I have wanted to move for weeks.

“A little more to the left with that photo, please.”

Jude jumped and turned around. “Don’t scare me like that!”

I laughed. “Sorry, Mom.”

Jude smiled at me and started to tear up. “Oh honey, I’m so happy you’ve started calling me that.”

I walked in to the room and hugged her hard. “I’m happy I can say that and not feel awkward about it.”

“Well, there’s no awkward between us dear,” she said as she patted my hand.

“No, no there isn’t,” I said. “if you insist on moving things though, I’m going to show you were I’d like them. Ben won’t let me move anything anymore.”

Jude laughed at the frustrated look on my face and I stuck my tongue out at her.

“It’s first time Dad, honey. If you have another child, he’ll be past most of this. Just let it ride out, but not too much. You’ve still got to maintain your independence.”

I nodded at her and we went about re-arranging the baby’s room.

“I’d like this room in yellow, please,” I said to the house as we left later.

“I can never get over how the house listens so well to you,” Jude said.

“I respect the house. The house respects me. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ makes life a hell of a lot easier and I am all for that,” I said as I hooked my arm through hers and we walked back downstairs.

“I can get behind that, actually.”

We hit the bottom of the stairs just as Logan streaked by naked, followed by Miles who was chasing him while wearing just a pair of pants and shouting at him.

“Damn it, Logan! Put these back on! I don’t care if dragon day is tomorrow!”

I started laughing and had to sit down on the stairs. Jude joined me and we sat there, propping each other up when Sabina came in to the hall.

“Why does Miles insist the child wear clothes?” she asked.

“Well, we don’t have the kind of hair you do, so he’ll get really cold soon. Probably get sick too,” I replied through the link.

“Oh, but why are you laughing?”

“Because it was a funny situation. A little absurd.”

The unicorn shook her head and stared at me. “Makes no sense, the way you humans wear clothing, but if he must then why doesn’t he wear them?”

“Because dragon day is tomorrow and he’s excited. He misses his other form.”

“He’s a changling?” her voice sounded a little alarmed.

“No, no. He’s a were-dragon. He changes in to a dragon for one night during the full moon.”


“We don’t know why. He just always has. Ben and Alphonse, too.”

“Strange,” she said.

“Yes, very strange.”

Jude was looking between both of us as we talked through the connection and finally spoke.

“Okay, watching the two of you stare at each other is creepy, even if I do know you’re having a conversation through that connection of yours.”

I laughed and Sabina nickered.

“Sabina was saying it was strange how Ben and the boys change once a month and Logan’s behavior.”

“Well, for a unicorn she’s got a sound head. It is strange, but we live with it anyway.”

“Welcome to Blueville, where everyone is strange and it doesn’t matter- hey can I have that cupcake?”

That set both Sabine and Jude off with the laughing and nickering. I grinned at both of them. Alphonse came out into the hallway and crawled in to my lap, tucking his head under my chin. I covered his face in kisses until he started giggling too. Miles came in to the hallway with a wiggling Logan, who was hanging upside down over Miles’s shoulder.

“Caught the runaway, eh?”

“and with a little bit of luck, got him back in to his pants. Why’d you have to adopt a kid that hates clothes?” He complained.

I laughed. “You hated clothes too at his age, if I recall correctly.”

Miles thought about it for a second and shrugged.

“You have a point.”

I snickered and cuddled Alphie close. Logan spotted Jude and held out his arms. “Grandma!”

Jude laughed and took him from Miles. He settled in to her lap.

“Wanna tell me why you’re half-naked too?” I asked.

“Logan spilled his milk on my shirt. I stuffed it into the washer with his shirt and pants that caught the rest of it when the little Houdini escaped the laundry room and took off down the hall,” Miles said as he stared up the stairs to his room. “I’m going to change for my date with Denver.”

I nodded and waved my hand at him. “Have fun, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Miles leaned over the banister. “Then I wouldn’t have any fun, but would still manage to end up in jail.”

“Miles that was fifteen years ago and three thousand miles away,”

“You still ended up in jail that day.”

“Go away, Miles.”

He laughed and continued up the stairs. Jude was looking at me as I turned back to her to finish the conversation.

“Spring Break, 2001.”

“I didn’t say anything,” she said.

“No, but I still feel damn guilty anyway,” I said as I ducked my head and looked down at Alphie. He’d fallen asleep in my arms.

“I think it might be time for bed for him,” Jude said.

“Do either of you know if he had dinner?” I asked.

“No, but it doesn’t matter. He’s asleep, let him sleep.”

I couldn’t argue with that wisdom, so I hauled him upstairs. I knew Jude wouldn’t rat me out to Ben if I carried him. I looked over my shoulder and she was right behind me with Logan, who’d finally worn out his energy for the day and had fallen asleep in her arms. We got them upstairs and in to the bedroom they shared. There were more than enough rooms in the house for them to have their own, but they insisted on being together.

“Some day, they won’t want to be in the same room,” I said softly as we walked out and I closed the door behind us.

“You’ll be ready for that day. It’s not like it’ll come any time soon.”

“I know, but they’re my babies.”

Jude laughed. “I know that feeling all too well.”

I smiled over at her and was about to say something else when I heard the pounding on the door downstairs. I felt a wave of dread wash over me and curl around my throat.

“Trouble,” I said as I took off running. The feelings got stronger as I got to the hall.

Sabina was still at the bottom of the stairs and was prancing in place.

“Hurry! There’s trouble!” She practically screamed in to my head.

I got to the door just as the Sheriff opened the door and ran in. His eyes were wild and he was out of breath.

“The Twins are missing,” he said and then collapsed.

I couldn’t catch him in time, so he hit the floor with a loud thud. I flinched and bent down to turn him over.

“Jude call 911. Tell them he’s here and what happened. Tell them to send Lieutenant Jones and Captain Miller.”

Jude nodded and ran for the phone. I pulled out my cell phone from my pocket, it never leaves my side these days, and called Ben.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Eric is here. The Twins were kidnapped. Come home.”

“I’m on my way.”

There called ended and I tucked my phone back in to my pocket. I looked up at Jude who came back in to the room with the phone attached to her ear. She was telling the operator on the other end exactly what I told her to say.

“What is wrong, Marlowe?” Sabine asked.

“My nice and nephew are missing,” I said, thinking fast of a way to describe what the Twins were to me. “They’re the same age as Alphie.”

I looked up at Sabine then and spotted the flash of anger in her eyes.

“They hurt the herd?” she asked.

“Yes. Someone hurt the herd.”

“Then they just became my enemy too,” she said quietly as she looked down at the Sheriff.

At that moment, I never wanted to be on her bad side and I prayed that the police found the bastard who took the Twins before she did.


It was just my imagination

I’ve been kind of hoping what I saw a couple of days ago was just my imagination, but no. The unicorn was real and white with a silver-yellow mane that fell like a waterfall to its feet. It was also the side of a pony and one hasn’t been seen in these parts since the town was founded.

Maybe I should rewind a bit before I dive in to the town’s history.

First of all, I was taking my first walk with Ben since my fall. He finally relented when the doctor told us that too much bed rest for me was a bad idea. He wanted me to get at least ten minutes a day of walking, especially outside.

Anyway, since we were walking down the sidewalk of our street near Mr Wilson’s house, If you recall it turned in to the giant tree house last month, when it came out of the woods and stared at us. Ben stopped dead in his tracks and stared. The man’s face was reverent.

My face on the other hand, was filled with sadness. I’d read about them in the books Ben got permission to take out of the library. They’re very herd solitary around these parts of the mountains. To see one alone means that its entire herd was destroyed. This one seemed almost defeated. I was moving forward to comfort it when Ben stopped me.

“Don’t. You don’t know if it’s sick.”

“It’s not sick, it’s sad. It’s herd is gone,” I whispered back at him.

“You’ve been in the library again.”

“You worry me into guilt if I set a foot outside of the house, what else am I supposed to do?” I hissed at him. I was watching the unicorn come closer to the both of us.

Ben sighed. “You’re pregnant.”

“I’m not fragile, Ben. I’m hearty. So is the baby. The doctor said so,” I said. I didn’t bother looking back at Ben. My eyes were locked on the Unicorn.

“Even so, you shouldn’t be going towards the herdless and possible dangerous animal,” Ben hissed back as he held on to my arm.

I admit, he had a point.

“Maybe you’re right,” I said. “but as of right now, I’m not moving towards it. It’s coming to me.”

Ben looked over at the unicorn that was now just out of reach. I stared in to one of its bright violet-blue eyes and felt an odd rush of wind going through my head. I swooned a bit, but managed to stay on my feet.

“Earth-Mother,” said the distinctly female voice in my head.

My eyes widened and I huffed out a breath.

“Well, shit.”

Ben looked at me, then back at the unicorn.

“Hello there,” I said. I was having trouble finding the words when the tumbled from my mouth; “How can I help you?”

The unicorn bowed its head to me. I could have sworn the sadness lifted from her eyes for a brief second.

“Earth-mother who does not know the bond, asks the question out of instinct,” she said and tilted her head to the side. “I think I like you already.”

I couldn’t help but smile at her.

“I think I like you back,” I replied. “Do you need shelter? Food? A temporary herd?”

The unicorn dipped its head again and this time, came forward to touch her horn to my stomach. I felt warm all over suddenly, like I was in the middle of a spring day that was just warm enough to have shirtsleeves, but not enough to go with a tank top. I gasped at the connection that grew stronger and I could hear and see everything that she could. It was quite discerning. The feelings faded after she removed her horn, but I could still feel the echo of all of her thoughts and what happened to her herd.

It made me angry to see so many beautiful creatures butchered to the name of revenge. I also found that the Unicorn was just as pregnant as I was.

“Gifted Earth-mother, I would like to join your herd until I have my revenge on the one who killed mine.”

Ben groaned softly as I smiled at her.

“Home and herd you shall have and be welcome.”

“Home. I have not had home in a long time. It would be most welcome,” she said to me through the link. “I am Sabina.”

That surprised me. Unicorns don’t usually give their names at all, if ever. I noticed that she had not given me her herd name, just her first name. The second thing I noticed was the smell of fresh flowers with the sharpness of the cold. It was an odd mixture. I turned to Ben and laughed when I saw his face.

His eyes had widened and mouth hung open.

“Ben close your mouth. If you were a frog you wouldn’t have caught anything.”

The unicorn named Sabina dipped her head and nickered out a laugh. Ben closed his mouth and stared at the both of us.

“Between the two of you and my mother, I’m outnumbered, aren’t I?”

“You said I needed help. You just didn’t say what kind of help I needed,” I said as I placed my hand on Sabina’s shoulder.

She silently gave her consent through the connection.

Ben sighed. “Okay, let’s walk back. I’m sure the house will come up with something for our new friend.”

“Family. She’s family,” I said as I walked with Sabina on one side and Ben on the right.

“Family, then.”

I smiled up at him. “I wished for family. I got my wish and more.”

“Smart Earth-mother,” Sabina said.

I replied back through the connection, “I am Marlowe.”

“Marlowe, then. Good,” she said.

We walked back to the house together and she’s been a standard in the house. The dogs got used to her, they even treat her with much more respect than I expected. Even Gibbs, whose favorite game is chase, will not go running in the room if Sabina is in there with him. It’s strange.

I spent my time talking with her when Ben was at work. She told me about her herd and what happened.

They were slaughtered because they would not share their magic. It made me angry, which made Sabina nicker at me.

“Not so angry, Marlowe. Sad. The human that did it knows nothing of magic. She only knows what she takes and our magic will turn on her.”

I scratched her flank and sighed. “I hope it turns before she has the opportunity to hurt someone else with what she stole.”

“She will not. It will be more inclined to help you though, if you ask it to. Our herd magic is a special thing. It’s alive and very annoyed right now.”

I laughed. “It’s probably making things a little difficult for her, then.”

“I would say so,” Sabina said.

“Mom,” Logan said from the corner of the room where he was playing with Alphonse.

“Yes, baby?”

“I like her. I like her voice.”

Sabina nickered at him and Logan came over. He sat in my lap and stared at Sabina.

“I like you too, Child.”

Logan smiled and reached out to her. Sabina leaned over and he touched her face, stroking gently.

“Pretty,” he said.

I laughed. “Yes, she is.”

Alphonse got up and came over to where we were sitting. He wiggled his way in to my side, staring at Sabina.

“Shy one, don’t worry. I like you too,” she said to him.

Alphie smiled.

It was later when I sent them up to bed that Sabina told me the story of the first herd in Blueville.

They’d been drawn here by the power that the original council had used to build the town. Each building was being erected with a protection spell weaved in to the mortar as they stacked bricks and stone. Naturally curious, they came to the Council and introduced themselves to the first Earth-mother on the land, Emily Barrett. She formed the first soul bond with a Unicorn and through it, learned that the land they’d chosen to settle on and protect was considered sacred to all creatures of Other origin.

They’d chosen fortunate to settle here. Now only those who would be friendly to Other-kin and the Other themselves would thrive here. Those who aren’t, well, they don’t stay very long and are not very lucky.

It makes me question the Mayor’s ability to thrive here, though. How did he gain all that power and wealth if he’s not exactly a friend to the community? It makes me weary of him even more than I already am.


I’m so sick of snow!

I grew up in the mid-west. I love snow, but every year at the end of January I can honestly admit that I’m ready to see the whole world burn for just one taste of spring. Miles of course, thinks it’s hilarious. He finds little ways to needle me about the snow and how we’ve been hit with blizzard after blizzard. There’s been so much snow this year that I haven’t been able to get out of the house as much as I want to.

I actually haven’t been able to get out of the house much at all since I fell on the sidewalk while getting the mail and Ben freaked completely out. He’s actively terrified that I’m going to lose the baby because I fell. Going to the store requires someone with me at all times. While I found it amusing at first, I’m starting to lose my temper with it all, especially since the Doctor said okay to me doing things on my own again.

If I don’t get out of this house soon I’m going to scream and break something. It’s not going to be pretty.

I should probably tell you how I fell, before some of you start asking if I’m okay. First of all; I’m fine. Nothings broken, Baby and I are doing perfectly well. Secondly, there’s a puppy by the name of Gibbs that’s in the permanent dog house with me for playing “Let’s knock people over” while I’m walking out to get the mail.

He comes barreling at me, thinking I’m going to react like the boys and start laughing. I started shouting at him to stop, we still haven’t grasped that command, when the sound of Ben coming in to the driveway makes them go nuts. I can’t really blame Ben though, it’s not his fault he came home earlier than I expected.

Anyway, I started to believe that he lost all interest in his game, when my feet flew out from under me and I had a face full of doggy tongue. I was not pleased. Neither was Ben who stopped the car, ran over shouting at Gibbs, who thought it was a game and started dancing away from him. The boys corralled Gibbs while Ben ran over to me.

I was already starting to pick myself back up, I was sitting up and rubbing my back with one hand while brushing snow off with my other. Ben dropped down next to me and immediately started checking me over. I tried to tell him I was fine, but he wasn’t hearing it and scooped me up and put me in the car. He ordered both boys back in to the house with the dogs so Miles could watch them, and drove me to the hospital.

We got there and I was taken in to the ER while Ben babbled at a doctor about what happened. I was left to wait while Ben twitch anxiously in the chair next to my bed.

“You can stop that, you know. I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine. You were knocked over by a 65 pound puppy.”

“Pregnant women fall all the time. I’m healthy. My body is used to falls. This one might be nothing.”

“I’ll calm down when the doctor says otherwise.”

I sighed and gave up. My head was throbbing from where it hit the ground. I closed my eyes and managed to relax for an hour before the doctor came to see us. Ben shot up out of his seat like a Jack-in-the-Box and I started giggling. I couldn’t help it. The Doctor gave me a look and I swallowed some of my giggles while Ben explained why we were there. The Doctor looked at me sharply and went about asking me questions. I answered him the best I could.

No, my stomach does not hurt. No, my legs do not hurt. Yes, my head hurts. Yes, my lower back hurts. No, I do not need to pee.

“Well, I’m going to order an ultra sound to be on the safe side. I’m also going to have blood drawn.”

I nodded at him, but Ben spoke up.

“Then can I take her home?”

“We’ll see what the tests say. If they’re okay, you can,” he turned to me and pointed. “Bed rest, at least two days. No strenuous activity.”

“I’m a Mom, Doc. That job is strenuous.”

“Not right now, it’s not. You’ll find someone to help.”

I sighed. Ben looked pleased. I narrowed my eyes at him.

“Then will you tell the worry wort there that it stresses me out when he works late and doesn’t call?”

The Doctor saw where I was going with this and chuckled.

“Yes. I can do that,” he turned and pointed at Ben. “What she said with an added addendum of you work too much and she needs help.”

I giggled when Ben narrowed his eyes at me. I blew a kiss at him. The Doctor chuckled at the both of us.

“I’ll be back after the ultrasound. Drink water.” He ordered as he left.

I drank the water that was left for me by a nurse and waited for the technician. When she showed up, it took her twenty minutes to get her pictures of my baby and uterus. There’s still no sex on Baby, though. We couldn’t see it on the screen, he or she had their back turned toward us.

It took them another three hours to get test results back and even then, they released me with the promise that if I felt anything weird, to come back immediately. I promised the Doctor I would and Ben walked me out of the hospital. As we walked hand-in-hand to the car, I smiled up at him.

“See? All fine.”

“I’m not. I never want to see that happen again.”

“I’m fine Ben. I bounce.” I said as I walked to my side of the car.

Ben spun me around and pinned me to the car as he kissed me.

“I’m not fine. Not until you and baby are separate and okay,” he said as he held me close. “I was terrified I might lose you both.”

“I’m pregnant, Ben. I’m not terminal,” I said as I hugged him back. “but I can see where you’re coming from. You’ve got to relax a little about this. It’s a baby, not the end of my life.”

“I know, but I’m scared. For both of you. I don’t want to lose either one.”

“You’re not. I’m fine. Strong and healthy, that’s what the doctor said.”

Ben kissed my forehead. “You’re still following the doctors instructions.”

“Of course I am. I’m looking forward to two days in bed with my books. I have quite a stack to get through,” I said as I climbed in to the car after Ben opened up my car door.

He went around and got into the drives seat, but didn’t start the car right away. I put on my seat belt while he stared at me.

“You’re up to something,” he said.

“Yep, now get a move on. I want a nap.”

He waited for me to explain and when I didn’t, shrugged and started the car. We drove home in relative silence, listening to the radio. We were nearly to the driveway when Ben stopped the car.

“What are you up to?”

“Nothing that’ll endanger me, the baby, or anyone in the house. I promise.”

Ben looked at me from the driver’s seat and narrowed his eyes.

“Do not call my mother.”

“Too late.”

His head hit the steering wheel with a loud thunk. I think even the neighbors heard me laugh.


January Blues

So we said goodbye to Jude on the tenth. She’s off to her dig in Brazil again for another month and promised the boys that she’d bring back more surprises the next time she dropped by. I miss her already. I know Ben is missing her just as much.

We said goodbye to Murphy three days later, she’s off on some cruise in the Caribbean right now. Which is fortunate for her because not even an hour after we got home, a blizzard blew up and we were house bound for two days while everyone dug out. This of course, pleased the boys to no end because they love having everyone around them.

It did not please Mark, who’s leaving was delayed by two different storms. He finally left to go home to his family on the fifteenth. It took him longer than expected because he had to clean out his and Max’s offices, which was a trial for him. There were lots of nights when he came home crying because of the memories that were there. I was sorry to see him go; but if this is what he thinks he needs to heal, then I’ll support him.

Ben and I had our first OB/GYN appointment for the baby. The boys were plenty upset that they had to stay home with Uncle Miles. They’re both plenty excited about the new baby though. Especially since we made it clear that they are ours and we’re not getting rid of them once the baby arrives.

That took the both of us by surprise when it happened.

We were sitting in the Great Hall watching TV with them when Ben suddenly got up and hugged Alphonse hard. Logan came over and crawled in to my lap and tugged on my hair to get my attention. I smiled and kissed his nose. He snuggled in to my arms.

“Mom,” he whispered to me.

“My baby, what is it?” I asked as I snuggled him close.

He was still having trouble with his words so it took him a while to ask;

“Do you love me?”

I looked down at him and his face was so earnest about the question. I hugged him tight.

“I love you and your brother more than the stars,” I whispered in to his ear.

He giggled up at me and snuggled back in to my arms, content with my answer. I had to wait to ask Ben what that was all about after we’d put them to bed later that night. When I posited the question to him he was confused at first, then remembered.

“Oh. That. They’re worried that we’re going to send them off to the hospital again once the baby arrives,” he said as he climbed in to bed with me.

“Oh dear. No wonder it was important enough to Logan to actually use his words.”

“Yeah. They’re worried about being replaced.”

“What can we do about that?” I asked him as I snuggled down under the covers.

“I was thinking that next weekend they could help me paint the nursery.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“Really? I would think that you’d hate it. You’re fussy about the way things look sometimes.”

“Only because I like things neat,” I said with a yawn. “but if letting them paint the nursery means they feel involved and accepted, I’ll move mountains and enough paint for five or six coats.”

Ben laughed and cuddled me close. “You’re not to set foot in the nursery while we’re painting. The fumes are bad for you and the baby.”

“I know. I said I’d haul paint, not do any of the painting. I’ll stay downstairs with the dogs and Miles. He’s making noises about shopping again.”


“Maternity clothes. I’m not nearly there yet. Another three or four months.”

Ben ran his hands over my stomach before he spoke again. “We should move up the wedding.”


“Habibi, I know this is important to you, but I think you should consider moving up the date.”

I sighed. “Ben, you’re worried about bringing the baby into the world without her parents being married?”

“A little.”

“The baby was made with love and will be born into love. Even if her parents weren’t married until later.”

“but,” he started and I turned around and kissed him.

“We have two sons already and we’re not married. Another child isn’t going to make things any different.”

Ben sighed. “You have your point, but I’m still asking you to think about it, please?”

It was my turn to sigh again. “Okay. I’ll think about it.”

Ben kissed me and nuzzled my hair.

“Sleep. Doctor tomorrow.”

“You’re still planning on going with me?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world on a plate.”

“Flatterer,” I said with a yawn.

I could hear him laugh as I dropped off into sleep.

I woke up the next morning with a kid on either side, the dogs at the foot of the bed and something digging in to my bladder. I cuddled the both of them close and fell back asleep. Ben woke all of us up at eleven  by hauling a laughing Alphonse over his shoulder and Logan trailing after them as they walked out of the room. The dogs abandoned me then too, because they knew they were going to get fallen leftovers.

I yawned and took my time as I showered and dressed. I was pulling on a loose pair of jeans as Ben came in from breakfast with a tray. I smiled over at him as he set it down on the chaise.

“You were supposed to sleep yourself out. You promised me,” he said with a frown.

I smiled up at him. “I’m fine. Well rested. I even tied my own hair back and everything.”

“Very funny.”

“I like to think I’m hilarious.”

Ben smiled at me and kissed my nose. “You sure do try.”

“Hey!” I said as I poked him in the stomach. “I’m pregnant, not made of glass!”

“I know, but I worry. It’s Blueville.”

“I’m sure the doctor will have something to say about it today anyway.”

“Speaking of which, if we’re going to make it on time, you need to let me go shower.”

“Oh, so I’m keeping you?” I grinned at him. “Glad to know I have that kind of superpower.”

I kissed him and stepped back into the closet to find a shirt to wear. I could hear him start the shower up. I shook my head at him and went to find the boys after I’d dressed and put on shoes. I found them in the Great Hall with Miles who took the day off to stay with the boys. I decided not to bother them so they wouldn’t get too clingy while Ben and I tried to get out of the door later. Instead I ended up in the kitchen making breakfast for myself.

I ended up with peanut butter toast and a pear. Not the best breakfast, but I wasn’t that hungry this morning. I waited for Ben to come downstairs. I was finishing up and washing the dishes when he came in with my coat, his coat, and my purse.

“Come on, before they realize we’re leaving.” Ben said as he helped me into my coat and dragged me out the back door.

I started laughing when we got outside.

“Man, I thought I was bad when it came to their sad faces.”

“I can’t stand it. How can other parents handle the sad face?”

“I think it’s the guilt that gets them before the sad face does,” I said as Ben opened the passenger door to the Jeep and helped me climb inside.

I didn’t catch what he said next, but I waited till he got in on the driver’s side before asking him.

“I said their teenage years are going to kill me.”

I laughed. “Nah, you’ll be a pro by that time.”

“I highly doubt it.”

“I don’t,” I said as I made myself comfortable for the trip out to the medical complex next to the hospital.

Ben didn’t respond to me, rather smiled over at me and took my hand in his. I smiled back and squeezed his hand. We rode together in companionable silence until Ben parked in the lot outside the doctor’s office. I had my seat belt off and the door open as Ben came around to open it for me. He frowned at me as I got out carefully to avoid the ice that coated the lot.

“You should have waited.”

“I’m pregnant, not made of glass.”

“So you keep saying.”

I couldn’t think of a response so I stuck my tongue out at him.

“Real mature.”

“Thanks. I try.”

He started laughing and I grinned over at him. We walked in to the office together, holding hands. The nurse behind the counter smiled up at us. She checked us in and we only had to wait ten minutes before being taken in to the back to get ready for the doctor. First there was blood drawn and a urine test for pregnancy, various other procedures and checks that had to be done before the doctor even got into the room.

I took it fine. Ben was a mess by the time I came back into the room. He was pacing and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“It’s not funny.”

“Habib, it’s a little funny. You’re a mess and all they did was do prep for tests.”

Ben frowned at me. “I’m not used to all this.”

“It’s my first pregnancy, but not my first round with that many tests. They do all those checks every year when I come for my check up.”

“They do?”

“and more than that. There’s a few they can’t do because I’m pregnant.”

“I’m so glad I’m male.”

I started laughing. I was in tears when the doctor came in the room.

“Well, it’s nice to hear you laugh, Marlowe,” He said.

“Hey, Doc Oc. How are you?”

“I’m good, thanks for asking. I hear a rumor that says you’re starting a family,” the doctor said as he moved to start his checks of my health.

“All true. We’ve got two at home now and one on the way.”

“You’re sure?”

“As I’ve ever been.”

“Well the tests will confirm then. How’s your man feel about this whole thing?”

“He’s thrilled, though you wouldn’t know it from the way he glowers at me when I even attempt the stairs on my own.”

The doctor started laughing and Ben frowned at me from his chair where he’d sat since the doctor came in to the room.

“You must be her Ben,” the doctor said as he turned to Ben and held out his hand.

“I am, Doctor?” Ben asked as he shook hands with him.

“Forgive me. I’m Doctor Gregory October. My Patients call me Doc Oc.”

Ben started laughing. “Appropriate. I just hope you’re not going to grow metal arms and try to turn one of my kids in to Spider-Man.”

Doctor October laughed and winked at him. “I haven’t quite perfected that form of genetic manipulation. I just look after the natural one.”

I smiled over at Ben. “See? He’s an okay guy.”

“I see that now.”

The visit lasted another twenty minutes, with the Doctor going over everything that we’d need to know for the next visit in a month.

“I probably won’t do an ultrasound for another two months, just to be sure.”

I nodded. “If that’s what’s best. I want to make sure the baby is healthy.”

“I’m sure he or she will be just fine.” Doctor October said as he pulled off his gloves and stood up to go. “I’ll see you next month. Take it easy until then. I know you have two at home, but this is your first natural pregnancy and you’re both considered Other in this town.”

“I promise, Doc. No back flips or hauling heavy engines.”

“Good. See you next month,” he said as he walked out the door.

I looked over at Ben, who looked much more relaxed since we got here.

“Better?” I asked.

“Better,” He replied.

I got dressed and we headed back to the house. There was a quick detour to the store to pick up a pint of Chunky Monkey, but all in all it was a quick trip home. As we walked in to the back door, we were ambushed by the boys who wanted attention. I scooped up Logan and nuzzled his next until he giggled.

“Everything is fine, bubby.”

“Okay, Mommy,” he said and wiggled down. He ran off to the Great Hall shouting Miles’s name.

Alphonse tugged at my sleeve from where he was in Ben’s arms. He held out his arms to me and I cuddled him close too, kissing his nose. He smiled up at me.

“I love you, Alphie. I promise everything is fine with me and your new sibling.”

He nodded and held out his arms to Ben, who took him back and walked in to the Hall with Miles and Logan. I was feeling a little tired so I went upstairs and changed into my PJs for a nap. Ben came in a few minutes later as I was turning down the bed sheets.

“I’m glad you’re going to rest. Do you want one of the dogs?” he asked as he started helping me make the bed more comfortable.

“No and it’s not likely that they’ll come up here. I know the boys have food. I heard Miles say something about hotdogs.”

“That’s right. They’re having a late lunch in the kitchen.”

I crawled in to bed and settled in. Ben laid down next to me after I made myself comfortable.

“I’m okay, Ben. Just a little tired from the trip, that’s all.”

“I still worry. You’re my best side.”

I smiled up at him and kissed him.

“and you’re mine.”

I settled in to sleep and heard Ben singing something soft in Arabic. I was out before he got to the chorus.