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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-NINE
Friday afternoon — 4:13 p.m. ET
New York City, New York
Abi had been crying so hard that Fin heard her sorrow seventeen hundred miles away. He slipped out of class and transported himself to her side. He found her curled up in a ball in the middle of a bed in one of the bedrooms in Bestat Behur’s apartment. He got in bed beside her and put her head on his lap. She wrapped her arms around his legs. He’d only been there a moment when the door opened and one of Ms. Behur’s security looked in on them.
“Prince Finegal,” the security officer said with a slight bow. “Welcome. Pardon my intrusion.”
Fin smiled and nodded. He waited for the door to close to shake his head. He’d much rather have the nosey, clueless intrusions of humans than these all-knowing dragon’s priest-guards. He shivered a bit before turning his whole attention to Abi.
“What is it, my love?” he whispered.
“S-s-s-issy,” Abi said through her tears. “And her b-b-beloved.”
Unlike most women, fairies included, Abi was lacked any sense of sentimentality. She was a high ranking General in the Fairy Corps. She rarely cried.
“What has happened?” Fin whispered.
“That horrible Katia stabbed Ivan and Sissy…” Abi began sobbing. He opened his mouth to say something, but she continued. “I was so focused on making sure Ivan wasn’t badly injured and didn’t die that I neglected to do a thing of the poor girl, and she… and she…”
Abi started crying so hard that words were impossible. He caressed her hair and held on to her. Closing his eyes, he sensed her body, mind, and heart. Abi was exhausted, pregnant, and heartbroken. He leaned down to kiss the top of her head.
“I know you did whatever could be done,” Fin said the words that were usually calming to her.
Today, they had no impact at all. Abi kept crying. His first inclination was to offer her sage advice to fix her pain. But after more than two thousand years of loving this woman, he knew that she did not want him “fix” her. Instead, he focused his attention on surrounding her with love. After a while, she began talking again.
“You should have seen them,” Abi said. “They were like Romeo and Juliet — so in love, so fresh in their discovery of each other. It was like us, I guess. They’d know each other for a lifetime and only just discovered their incredible love for each other.”
“Powerful moment,” Fin said.
“And now…” Abi’s words were cut off by her sobs. “I couldn’t do… I couldn’t do anything…”
“The child is dead?” Fin asked.
“Not yet,” Abi said. “He is in surgery and she waits in the in-between for him to join her.”
“They are bound to each other?” Fin asked.
“Like us,” Abi’s head nodded against his leg. “God, poor Sandy. She looked so grim when I left. I hated to go but…”
Abi gestured to the baby.
“You’re exhausted,” Fin said.
Abi nodded against his leg.
“Is there anything we can do?” Abi’s voice was so desperate that Fin had to smile. This precious fairy, now his wife, was capable of such tremendous love.
“What have you done?” Fin asked.
“Everything I could think of from straight magic to potions to spells to energy work to…” Abi said. “I even tried to go back in time to fix it.”
“I wasn’t blocked from that moment,” Abi said.
“So it was a fated event,” Fin said. “What did Delphie say?”
“That it was fated,” Abi whispered. “Can’t you…?”
“No more than you,” Fin said. “We are useless against these types of situations. What of the healers?”
“I called Mari at once,” Abi said. “She rushed her lover here, but he…”
She swallowed hard and shook her head.
“You cannot save the girl until her beloved is in the clear,” Fin said.
Abi sniffed in agreement. Facing this reality, Abi’s tears evaporated. She stared straight ahead in numb silence. Fin tilted her head toward him and kissed her lips.
“We must hold hope,” Fin said.
“We know the power of our own love,” Fin said. He stroked her head and kissed her forehead. “Their love will move mountains. I feel it.”
A remnant sob came from Abi. He looked at her and she nodded in agreement.
“Tell me the rest,” Fin said with enough magic to shift her focus onto something else. “How is Sandy? Delphie? What happened to this Katia?”
In response to his mind leveling question, she sat up next to him.
“Delphie was hysterical,” Abi said. “They had to medicate her. She’s here somewhere with Ms. Behur’s doctors.”
“Poor thing,” Fin said.
“Sandy is grim, like I said,” Abi said. “I think she was looking forward to going home and seeing her family. The last couple of days, she’s been talking about sleeping in her own bed. Now, it’s likely that she will have to bury her only sister as well as Ivan.”
Fin nodded to assure her that he was listening.
“They were supposed to fly back with those military people they know,” Abi said. “You know, the one’s Izzy is obsessed with.”
“The Fey Team?” Fin asked. Abi nodded.
“O’Malley is a big supporter of theirs,” Abi said. “He asked if they would take Sissy when they went back to Denver. They have medical personnel so they agreed. The soldiers were just a minute too late to keep Sissy from hemorrhaging. MJ is beside himself. He couldn’t save Sissy from the bullets and didn’t save her from this.”
“But surely they caught Katia,” Fin said.
“They caught her,” Abi nodded, “and she’s dead.”
“Dead?” Fin asked. “They killed her?”
“She killed herself,” Abi said. “She took poison.”
“Poison?” Fin asked. “How awful.”
“She stabbed Ivan with a steak knife from the board meeting,” Abi said. “This conniving, selfish woman wanted to kill him and herself like they were the lovers with some tragic pact.”
“Cyanide,” Abi said with a nod.
He pulled Abi’s shoulder. She tipped over and her head returned to his lap.
“It’s weird,” Abi said.
“What’s weird?” Fin asked.
“Katia’s husband was finally free to be himself,” Abi said. “He told me that she gave him this freedom. Her love for him created this chance to a real, honest life. He voided their prenuptial agreement and planned on giving her half of his fortune.”
“A lot of money?” Fin asked.
“A true fortune,” Abi said. “By all accounts, she married the boy for his money. Now that he was so happy, she could have had his money, his prestige, and his status. It’s what she wanted.”
“So she didn’t kill herself?” Fin asked.
“It’s a puzzle,” Abi said. “Katia stabbed Ivan, first. Sandy attacked her…”
“Sandy?” Fin asked with a touch of amusement in his voice.
“Sandy kicked Katia’s ass,” Abi said. “Sandy was able to give Sissy enough space to get Ivan away, but Sissy’s exertion opened her wounds inside. MJ had just arrived when Sissy was choking on her own blood. The tall, blonde one…”
“Colin,” Fin said.
“Colin took Katia from Sandy,” Abi said. “I saw Katia put something in her mouth. I tried to get it, but I was too late. The poison acted so quickly that I couldn’t even make it come back up.”
“How awful,” Fin repeated. Abi nodded.
“Sissy had never used a wheelchair,” Abi said. “The nurse set the brake so the child would be stable when Ivan arrived. Sissy didn’t even know the brake was set.”
“The child fought against the brake?” Fin asked.
“And she still managed to save her beloved,” Abi said with a sniff.
“No wonder her stitches opened,” Fin said.
Abi looked up at Fin’s kind face.
“I mean, the brake was set,” Abi said and started to sob again.
Friday afternoon — 3:13 p.m. MT
“Any news?” Tanesha asked Jill.
Shaking her head, Jill stepped aside so that Tanesha could enter the loft. Jill hugged Tanesha before waving her over to the sitting area.
“I’ve been so focused on trying to get this meeting together that I…” Jill said.
“We were so sure that Sissy was coming home,” Tanesha said.
“She should be here by now,” Jill said. “That’s why I’m at home. I was to get everything ready. I’ve worked all day. Everything is ready. Candy made a special cake for Sissy and Charlie, but…”
“They’re not coming,” Tanesha said. “Does Delphie know anything?”
“Delphie’s hysterical,” Jill said. “Jake talked to her on his computer. She feels like she caused this because she set Sissy and Ivan on the path to be together. She knew Kate was trouble, but she never saw this coming. Jake says he’s never seen Delphie this upset.”
Jill shook her head.
“Does Jake have any sense of what’s going to happen?” Tanesha asked.
Jill shook her head. Tanesha sat down on the leather couch near the fireplace.
“Fin?” Jill asked.
“Fairies suck at prediction,” Tanesha said. “And anyway, he’s with Abi. She was so upset that the hospital ordered her to bedrest.”
“We’re all heartbroken,” Jill said.
“We watched Sissy grow up,” Tanesha said. “A thousand days and nights of wishing her happiness. First the eating disorder, and now this. I…”
Tanesha shook her head.
“She’s like our little sister,” Jill said. Her eyes welled with tears. “I…”
Tanesha hugged her. For a moment, they leaned against each other for support.
“I talked to Jeraine,” Tanesha said. “We’re going to New York. He said that the Grammy’s weren’t nearly as important as being there for our friends.”
“Who said that?” Jill asked.
“I know!” Tanesha said.
Jill grinned at her.
“When do you leave?” Jill asked.
“In a couple of hours,” Tanesha said.
“There’s no way I can go, I…” Jill started.
The door to the loft banged open. Surprised, Jill and Tanesha’s heads jerked up to look. Valerie was standing in the doorway. Her face was flushed and her eyes red. She had a wild look neither Jill nor Tanesha had seen.
“Jill?” Valerie asked.
“Val?” Jill got up and walked toward her.
“I’m going to New York,” Valerie said. “I wanted to know if you wanted to come with me.”
“I can’t,” Jill said. “I have the boys and Katy and…”
“Jake’s agreed to stay with the kids,” Valerie said. “Aden and the kids are coming. Dad’s picking up Charlie and…”
Valerie gulped a breath and tears seeped from her eyes.
“You and Jeraine coming?” Valerie asked in a little too forceful voice.
“Jer’s dad bought us tickets,” Tanesha said. “We’re leaving in a couple of hours.”
“I have a plane,” Valerie said. “You can come with me.”
Valerie’s head went up and down in a kind of nod. She was so upset that she looked a little like a beautiful, but demonic bobble-head doll. Jill cleared her throat and Valerie’s head jerked to look at Jill.
“Are you okay?” Jill asked.
“Sissy has taken a turn for the worse.”
Jill gasped and her hand went to her mouth. Tanesha stood straighter and looked tougher.
“We’ll be lucky if we get there in time,” Valerie said. “Where’s Heather?”
“Heather?” Jill asked.
“Usually you guys are together,” Valerie said. “Mike told me that Sissy and Heather were really close.”
“She used to babysit Sissy when Charlie started school,” Tanesha said.
“Then I assume she would want to come with us,” Valerie said.
Jill looked at Tanesha.
“She’s still recovering from her…”
“No, she’s not,” Valerie said. “She dropped Tink off at Seth’s. She arranged for Edie to pick up Mack at the Marlowe School and keep him here.”
Valerie shook her head.
“Don’t you know?” Valerie asked.
Tanesha shook her head. She glanced at Jill and Jill shook her head.
“She’s disappeared,” Valerie said.
“No,” Valerie said. “She’s gone. Maresol found her car parked on the street behind their house.”
“What does that mean?” Jill asked.
“I’ll call…” Tanesha started.
“Tink tried to call her to ask if she can come to New York,” Valerie said. “Heather’s not answering.”
“What are you saying?” Jill asked.
“I’m saying that your friend has either been abducted or has disappeared,” Valerie said.
“What does that mean?” Jill asked.
“It means that Hedone has gone to attend to her duties,” Edie said.
Her voice came from across the loft. They looked up to see her standing in the doorway to the nursery.
“What?” Tanesha asked.
“Hedone has her father’s powers,” Edie said. “She is responsible for this kind of tragedy.”
“What?” Jill asked.
“Why don’t you go?” Edie said with a smile. “Jill, you can have your meeting in New York — Fin and Mari are there. You already know what I think. I’ll help Jacob with the boys and Katy. Mack is a joy. I believe Honey is going, so I’ll have Maggie too. Heather probably took her new baby with her, but if not, he’s welcome too.”
“That’s a lot…”Jill started.
“Abi said I could have Fairy Corps help,” Edie said. “If I get stuck, there are a few thousand fairies who beg me every day to help with your children. It will be fun.”
Edie gave them a lovely smile.
“If you coming, we’re leaving,” Valerie said.
“We have to pack,” Jill said.
“I’ll buy you anything you need when we’re there,” Valerie said. “We have to go.”
Jill looked at Tanesha, who gave her a slight nod.
“Five minutes,” Valerie said.
Jill went into the nursery to say good-bye to the boys but they were sleeping. She kissed their cheeks and turned to go. Edie stood in her way.
“You need to call your father,” Edie said.
“Perses?” Jill asked. “Why?”
“Not sure,” Edie said. “Just a feeling. I think he’ll have the answer to your questions – even about Sissy.”
“Can we save her?” Jill’s voice rose at the end in hope.
“Fairy.” Edie pointed to herself. She shook her head and shrugged. “I can only tell you that everything is in motion and Hedone is involved.”
“Is that good?” Jill asked.
“No idea,” Edie said.
“Maybe I should take Katy with me,” Jill said.
“That’s probably a good idea,” Edie said. “I’ll hold down the fort here.”
“Thanks,” Jill said.
“I think there’s something sparkly coming my way,” Edie said.
“From James?” Jill asked. She gave Edie a big smile. The fairy blushed and nodded.
“Then we need to work this out,” Jill said. “No more soul-magpie tricksters torturing our children.”
Jill hugged Edie and jogged to get her purse.
“Are you coming?” Valerie screamed from the kitchen.
Grabbing her purse, Jill ran down the long stairs. Everyone has assembled in the kitchen. Aden nodded to Jill. Tink and Wanda were holding hands. Nash was standing behind Charlie’s wheelchair. Noelle’s face was wet with tears and Teddy looked grim. Mike had a large duffle bag over his shoulder. Sam and Honey waited just outside the kitchen with Valerie.
“Time to go,” Valerie said.
Too upset to care what the press of paparazzi witnessed, Valerie left through the side door. They split up and made their way to the airport.
Sitting on a swing, Sissy felt a giggle develop in the back of her throat. She was going to fly as high as possible today. No one was going to stop her! She pumped her short legs and leaned back. Her long braids bounced on her chest as the wind whipped underneath her. She looked back to see if her babysitter had noticed how high she was flying.
“Go Sissy!” her babysitter cheered.
And Sissy took off again. She pumped her legs and pulled with her arms. It was a spectacular day. Each swing brought her closer to the baby blue sky and white, puffy clouds. She hung in the air for a brief moment before descending toward the playgrounds perfect sand. She flew backwards until she could see the gorgeous green grass that surrounded the playground. Then, she flew up, up, up into the sky again.
At the very top of her swinging arch, Sissy could see the horizon. The Castle lay off in the distance over there on her right. Her brother was sitting on a picnic table with Tink on her left. When she swung up again, she craned her neck to see if she could see Sandy. She was so intent on making sure she could see everyone she loved that her focus slipped.
Soon, she wasn’t swinging so high. She slowed to a stop and her babysitter came over.
“I remember this place,” Sissy said to her babysitter. The woman smiled. “What do I call you?”
“Hedone,” she said. “It’s my name.”
“Am I still Sissy?” she asked.
“You’ve always been Sissy,” Hedone said. “Long before your mother met your father, long before Denver, you were Sissy. You’ll be Sissy long after.”
Hedone gave Sissy a soft push and she floated back and forth for a while.
“I remember coming here,” Sissy said. “With you. It’s so perfect, so beautiful. I used to ask Sandy to come here and not to the park. We looked and looked but Sandy could never find this place.”
“You’re in Olympia,” Hedone said.
“Why?” Sissy said.
Hedone sighed. Sissy saw that a small infant was tied close to her babysitter’s chest. The baby’s was fast asleep. Sissy swung for a while and her babysitter gave her gentle pushes. Time had a different quality here. It wasn’t one moment or the next; it was more like you’re either swinging or you’re not. Ivan appeared at the opposite end of the swings near the hunter-green posts. He gave Sissy a loving look and waved to her babysitter before starting to swing at his own pace.
“Where is the man?” Sissy asked.
“What man?” her babysitter asked.
“The man you used to meet here,” Sissy said. “I would swing and you would argue with that man.”
“You have a good memory,” Hedone said.
“Is he coming to yell at you some more?” Sissy asked.
“What was his problem?” Sissy asked.
“Actually, it was my problem,” Hedone said. “He had done something that I found reprehensible. I was angry with him.”
“What?” Sissy asked.
“He made you love someone you would never possibly meet,” Hedone said.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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