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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY
“I’ll tell you everything,” Edie said.
“No, you won’t.” Abi seemed to appear in the room.
“But…” Edie started.
“I will take care of this, Princess Edith,” Abi said. “Your brother would like you to return.”
“But…” Edie said.
“Princess Edith, you weren’t born when these events took place,” Abi said. “You weren’t there. If we’re going to ask Heather to help us…”
“Again,” Heather said.
“Fair enough,” Abi said with a nod. “Again, she deserves to hear what happened from someone who was there.”
“You mean there’s more to the story that I don’t know?” Edie said.
Abi raised an eyebrow at her and pointed. When Abi didn’t say anything, Jacob turned away from the kitchen sink to watch the interaction.
“Then I’m not going anywhere,” Edie said.
“He can handle it himself,” Edie said. “Plus, Mari and Tanesha are there.”
Abi scowled at Edie.
“I’m not afraid of you, Abi,” Edie said.
Abi raised her eyebrows to Edie. Jill looked at Heather, who was scowling at Abi. Catching Jill’s look and Heather’s scowl, Edie smiled at them.
“You may or may not know this, but Abi is the most powerful fairy in our community,” Edie said. “She and Gil are said to have stepped out of the earth’s molten heat to cause the land to form.”
Abi rolled her eyes at Edie.
“Stories,” Jacob said. “There are always more stories. Why don’t you just trust us?”
“Trust you?” Abi asked. “I thought we were.”
“No, you don’t trust us,” Jacob said. “You tell us complicated tales that confound us.”
“He wants you to ask for what you need,” Heather said.
“Oh,” Abi said. “We need Heather’s help to correct something her father did.”
“What’s wrong with Aife?” Jill asked.
Abi raised an eyebrow to Edie, who gave her a defiant look.
“What is going on between you two?” Jacob asked. He looked at Delphie. “What are they doing?”
“That’s the story,” Delphie said. “Edie wants to tell what she knows because she believes it’s the truth.”
“It’s not?” Edie asked.
Delphie shook her head.
“Abi wants Heather’s help and knows that Jill will spot a lie,” Delphie said. “She wants to tell the truth, but there are things that would be revealed that…”
“Might change our Edie,” Abi said.
“My sister is dying!” Edie said. “Why would I give two craps about some history lesson in the face of the loss of my sister? Have you no heart?”
Abi and Edie looked at each other for a long moment before Abi nodded.
“I apologize, Edie,” Abi said. “I forget sometimes how deep your bond is with your family.”
Abi gave Edie a soft smile before looking at the others.
“It’s not natural or normal for us fairies to care so deeply,” Abi said. “Our Edie is one of truly one of a kind.”
“You care,” Edie said.
“Yes, but…” Abi started. She winced and then shrugged. “I’m me.”
Edie held out her arms, and Abi hugged her tight. Jacob glanced at Jill, and she shrugged. He turned around and continued working on the dishes. Heather scowled at the fairies and went outside to get her boys. Delphie watched the fairies for a moment before heading out into the backyard.
Abi let go of Edie, stepped back, and looked around the room. Jacob was still working on the pile of dishes. Delphie came in with another stack of plates.
“I guess you guys are sick of us,” Abi said.
“I think everyone is sick of being lied to and manipulated,” Delphie said.
“Everyone?” Abi asked.
“Including me,” Delphie said.
“Just tell us what you need,” Jacob said from the sink without turning around. “Ask for our help. We’re glad to help, but the rest of this has to stop!”
Abi chewed her lip for a moment.
“So even though we helped with the construction site and helped Jabari and helped Yvonne and…” Abi scowled. “Heather! Fin and Tanesha saved her children and…”
“You helped at the construction site so that I would put the queen back together and end the curse,” Jacob said. Turning, he picked up a towel to dry his hands.
“And end the war,” Delphie said.
“You helped Yvonne and Jabari because, let’s face it, they’re your family,” Jacob said. “With us, you tricked us into the Sea of Amber.”
“How many times do we have to tell you, Jacob?” Abi asked. “That was the serpents. It wasn’t us.”
“So you say,” Jacob said. “What’s more likely is that Fin tricked us into getting trapped in the Sea of Amber so that we would destroy the place. And clearly, you helped Heather and her children because you need to use her now for some unknown purpose.”
“Wow,” Abi said under her breath. “You believe this as well, Oracle?”
“It’s the deception, Abi,” Delphie said.
“The tricks and lies and manipulations,” Jacob said.
“Princess Edie cares for your children at no cost to you!” Abi said.
“Yeah, why is that?” Jacob asked. “What’s your end game? Steal Katy? You’ve tried before. Take the boys? Teach them to be something you can use and manipulate to your end? Why are you helping us with the boys?”
“Because the Queen is interested in…” Edie started. “Oh, I see what you mean.”
“And that’s not to mention your interest in the Sword of Truth,” Delphie said. “You think didn’t notice, but we all saw how upset you were when Perses secured the sword to Paddie and his children.”
Abi squinted her eyes.
“I helped you put your wretched queen together because you needed the help,” Jacob said. “I asked for nothing in return.”
“You wanted to break the curse!” Abi said.
“Jill self-heals,” Jacob said. “She assures me that she would have survived. But everything with you fairies is some long game of manipulation and lies. That’s no way to treat a friend or family or even an acquaintance.”
“Hey, we’re heading home,” Heather said as she came into the kitchen.
She had their new son tucked into a sling. Blane came in carrying Mack. The child was sound asleep against him.
“But Hedone!” Abi said.
“You had all day to ask for what you wanted,” Heather said with a sniff. “In fact, you’ve had months and months to ask for help. Did you?”
She raised her eyes to Abi.
“Now, I need to get my children home,” Heather said. “They’ve had a big day and will have another tomorrow. If you need help with your mysterious problem, you can stop by in an hour or so to ask me for help. Maybe I’ll help you tomorrow.”
“My sister won’t survive the night,” Edie said.
“What?” Heather asked. “Your sister’s life is in danger, and you wait until the last minute to ask for my help?”
Heather looked at Abi. The fairy was looking down and chewing on her lip. Heather looked at Edie. Sorrow was etched on the princess’s face.
“I’m sorry,” Abi said in a soft voice.
“What?” Heather asked.
“I’m sorry,” Abi said and looked up at Heather. “You’re absolutely right. We have manipulated you. We have lied. And in this situation, we grossly miscalculated. I’m sorry. If you’d like, we’ll leave and never return.”
“So you’re just going to pick up your toys and go home?” Jacob asked with a shake of his head. “What? Are you three? I thought you stepped out of the molten lava or some crap like that.”
“What do you mean?” Abi asked.
“When there’s a problem in a relationship, the brave work things out,” Jacob said. “You say, ‘I’m sorry,’…”
“I am,” Abi said. “I really screwed up.”
“And I say, ‘Don’t do it again’,” Jacob said.
“Oh,” Abi said. “Really?”
“Jeez, you really are three,” Heather said under her breath.
“Please,” Delphie said. “Stop lying. Stop manipulating. Ask for what you want. We might not say yes, but we’ll help you find solutions.”
“Your problems become our problems,” Jacob said. “That’s how we treat each other.”
“Oh,” Abi said.
“Will you help us?” Edie asked. She gave a little impatient hop. “We do need help.”
Heather looked at Blane for a moment. He nodded.
“I’ll help Blane get the kids home,” Jacob said. “Edie, can you help Jill with the boys, Katy, and Paddie?”
“Of course,” Edie said.
“And me?” Abi asked. “Am I forgiven too?”
“You will sit down at that table right there and tell me what’s going on,” Heather said. “Leave nothing out. Delphie?”
Heather looked up at Delphie.
“I’ll stay to make sure you’re truthful,” Delphie said.
“What if I show you?” Abi asked. “Nice bit of fairy magic.”
“Parlor trick,” Heather said. “Speak and I will hear your truth.”
Abi looked uncertain.
“What?” Heather asked.
“If I sit here, anyone can listen,” Abi said.
“That’s the point,” Jacob said. “If you don’t trust us, all of us, then why are you here at all?”
Abi bounced back and forth from one foot to another.
“Tanesha,” Heather said in a low tone and Tanesha appeared next to the table.
“Did you call me here?” Tanesha asked.
Heather nodded. Without saying another word, Tanesha pulled a chair out from the table and sat down. Heather sat next to her. Abi stood on the floor biting her lip. Shrugging, Delphie went to the electric kettle. She filled it with water and turned it on.
“Come on, Blane,” Jacob said. “Let’s get these kids to bed.”
Heather kissed her son and gave Jacob the sling. She touched Mack’s back and kissed Blane. With a nod, Jacob and Blane left the room together.
“It’s nice to see them together again,” Delphie said.
“How is he feeling?” Delphie asked.
“Okay,” Heather said. “He’s a little worn out from working with Sissy and Ivan, Charlie too. He’s happy to do it and, of course, he’s happy to be home. It’s just all new.”
“He looks great,” Tanesha said. “I saw his blood number. They’re really good. He must feel like a new person.”
“He does,” Heather said.
Delphie nodded. Abi watched the women talk back and forth. After a few moments, the women looked up at Abi.
“What’s it going to be?” Heather asked.
“Wait for us!” Jill jogged into the kitchen with Sandy on her heels.
“I called you,” Heather said in a low voice.
“I know but we had to get the babies settled,” Sandy said.
“How did you keep from coming?” Heather asked.
Sandy pointed to Jill.
“I knew you wouldn’t mind,” Jill said.
Sandy pulled out a chair at the kitchen table just as the electric pot clicked off. Jill went to make tea for everyone. Tanesha got up to get the cups. After a few moments, Jill set a pot of English tea on the table and gave Delphie a cup of green tea. She sat down on the end of the table between Delphie and Sandy.
“What’s it going to be?” Heather asked.
“You don’t know what you’re asking!” Abi said.
“I know exactly what I’m asking,” Heather said. “I’m asking a fellow being to sit at this table and speak her truth. I am allowed to have as many of my own counsel as I choose. I deserve a response at the very least.”
“But you’re human!” Abi asked.
“Not any longer,” Tanesha said.
Abi was visible shaken. She blinked. Without saying another word, she pulled out a chair and sat down next to Sandy.
“Hedone,” Abi said.
“Really?” Heather asked. “You only sat down when you knew I wasn’t human. Do you despise humans so much?”
Abi blushed. She shook her head.
“I…” Abi started. She let out a breath. “Uh…”
Giving Abi space to collect her thoughts, Sandy started pouring tea. The women doctored their tea and waited. By the time Sandy set down Abi’s cup of tea, the fairy seemed clearer. Abi pressed her shoulders back and sat up straight.
“I want to apologize again,” Abi said. “You’re absolutely correct — all of you. I haven’t trusted you or any human. I can give you reasons for that, but truth be told, my reasons don’t matter very much.”
“For a long, long time, Gil, and I, and eventually Fand and Liban, danced across this earth’s surface without a care in the world,” Abi said. “At some point, we knew that human’s existed. But…”
“It was Manannán who brought humans into our world, and we went from four fairy friends to an entire Queendom,” Abi said. “Sometimes, it boggles my mind. And…”
She looked from face to face.
“I’ve never had a human friend,” Abi said. She gave a partial smile. “When Fin proposed that we live here, I laughed in his face.”
Abi gave a sad nod.
“So, I am sorry,” Abi said. “I will try to be a better friend.”
“And Olympia?” Heather asked.
“I’ve had plenty of trouble with Olympia,” Abi said. “That’s why I sat down, Hed… Heather. I know what happens when you cross Olympia. I was thinking while Sandy was pouring the tea. It would truly break something inside of me to not have you as my close friends. This is why I am so ashamed. I love you so much and yet, I still think of you as primitive little…”
Nodding, Abi opened her mouth.
“Don’t say you’re sorry again,” Sandy said. She put her hand over Abi’s. “We done plenty of thoughtless things in our lives. We understand.”
Jill, Tanesha, and Heather nodded and Delphie smiled.
“Please,” Heather said. “Let’s start with what you need.”
“Since we are talking about truth,” Abi said. “Did you actually kill a breeding pair of serpents and all of their offspring?”
“I will take you to both locations,” Tanesha said.
“Both locations?” Abi asked. “You killed them separately?”
The women nodded.
“Why?” Delphie asked.
“They are much more dangerous separately,” Abi said.
“We had help from a dragon,” Tanesha said. “At least I think it was a dragon.”
“For the female,” Abi said.
“No, the male,” Jill said with a shake of her head. “We killed the female on our own.”
Abi’s eyebrows went up with surprise. After a few moments, she nodded.
“Ok, yes, I underestimated you,” Abi said. “That was dumb.”
“What do you need?” Heather asked.
“Aife’s life force was perilously low when the Queen gave her the Blue Fairy role,” Abi said. She shook her head and waved her hand. “The whole Blue Fairy thing is complicated and off point.”
“Why does Aife spend so much time with Alex and John?” Sandy asked.
“Alex and Max are descendants of Aife’s lover,” Abi said. “Aife heard a whisper of Alex getting her tattoo — that’s how it is for us. We can hear you when you think of us. Anyway, Aife met John and, well, she knew Brigid, John’s mother, and…”
“Why is Aife in such danger?” Tanesha asked.
“She was nearly dead when she became the Blue Fairy,” Abi said. “The Blue Fairy is a mantle that is to be passed around. It’s too much for one fairy. But Aife couldn’t survive without it.”
Abi looked into each woman’s face and found understanding there.
“If the Blue Fairy is so important to Aife, why did Edie take it off?” Jill asked.
“Because it’s killing her,” Abi said. “And honestly, Aife will probably put the Blue Fairy back on when we’re done.”
“But she must be stronger to do it,” Heather said. “To survive it.”
“Exactly,” Abi said. “Fin and Aife were born with a decade of each other. For fairies, that’s like being twins. If she dies, which is likely, she will take a part of him with her.”
“Oh, that’s what he meant,” Tanesha said.
Everyone looked at her.
“He said over and over again that he needed all of himself to lead their world into the modern era,” Tanesha said.
“We need to transition to the modern era or wither and fade,” Abi said. “That’s just a fact.”
“What do you believe Aife needs?” Jill asked. “Certainly, I can heal her.”
Abi shook her head.
“She can heal herself,” Abi said. “She must heal herself.”
“Why doesn’t she, then?” Tanesha asked.
“That’s the question, isn’t it?” Abi asked. “Fin and his sisters have staged this intervention to get her to see what must be done.”
“She refuses,” Tanesha said with a nod. “She wants to die to be with her lover.”
“Oh,” Heather said. “That’s what you need.”
“We need you to unveil her eyes to see the man for what he was,” Abi said. “A monster. A rapist. The whole — send my son to me — was merely a cruel joke. He always had intended to kill the child.”
Abi’s face twisted as she frowned with disgust.
“For the record, I relieved the man of his head with one blow,” Abi said. “He was no warrior.”
“You mean he’s only a great warrior when he’s fighting seven year olds?” Jill asked.
“Precisely,” Abi nodded.
“Delphie?” Heather asked.
“There is something she is not saying,” Delphie said. “Something about your father. She’s afraid of offending you.”
“What is it?” Heather asked.
“Unlike what his mother thinks, your father has always had a cruel streak,” Abi said.
“You mean the dark arrows are not his first cruel love,” Heather said.
“He did this?” Heather asked.
“With great intention,” Abi said. “He ensnared Fin and would have trapped Edie and Mari had their father not concealed them from him.”
“What did Manannán do?” Jill asked.
“Manannán made them seem human,” Abi said. “Eros had no idea Fand had other children besides Fin and Abi. And Keenan, well you know about the whole Patrick thing.”
Abi’s quick nod held the weight of Keenan’s life as Maughold and the betrayal by Patrick of Ireland.
“Eros hatred for Queen Fand is only second to his hatred of Liban, her twin,” Abi said.
“Why?” Heather asked.
“She doesn’t know,” Delphie answered quickly.
“Do you?” Abi asked.
“It has to do with his father,” Delphie said.
“Ares?” Jill asked.
“The God of War,” Heather said under her breath.
“Eros has the urge to use love as war,” Delphie said.
“How nice,” Sandy said shaking her head.
“Explains my awful relationships,” Heather said with a smile. She looked off into the near distance for a moment before her eyes flicked to Abi. “I need to think and speak with my friends.”
“Fair enough,” Abi said. “I will wait with the Oracle until you return.”
Heather nodded. Jill pointed upstairs and the girlfriends nodded. They made their way to Jill and Jacob’s loft.
What would you do?
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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