The Secret Family History
“You were right to come to me,” said Isabella Braumlein-Crenshaw as she led Logan and Sean into her apartment in Seattle, Washington. (After Sean’s recovery, Sean sent Mobley and the other Knights back to headquarters while he dealt with the task of finding the Nine of Eight.) “I must admit I was nervous when my youngest daughter called me and told me about your situation,” said Belle. “Not that I haven’t been nervous before, but you know how that goes. Anyway, there’s so much I need to tell you, and this family has some secrets that not even Nichollo or I know about.”
“If you want to know why we’re here, we need to find the Nine of Eight,” said Logan.
“Indeed,” said Belle as she picked up several large books and papers from a nearby desk, setting them on the dining room table. “And why do you want to know about the Nine of Eight?”
“Because as I hovered between the realms of life and death after that incident in South Carolina, I had a vision telling me to find the Nine of Eight,” said Sean.
“Yeah, because you just had to get involved in that incident involving that crazy chick, didn’t you,” said Dicky as he and Andrea came into the room.
“Shut up, Dicky,” said Andrea. “Sean didn’t ask that girl to slap him in the head with a shovel. I’m surprised she wasn’t charged with attempted murder in Sean’s case.”
“Indeed she wasn’t,” said Sean. “Besides, she thought I was just a news reporter.”
“Yeah right,” said Dicky.
“OK, can we all just focus on the ask at hand?” said Logan. Everyone glared at him. “It’s important that we know everything about the Nine of Eight.”
“I see,” said Belle as she glared at Sean. “And what makes you want to come here and ask me those kinds of questions?”
“I think you might know who or what the Nine of Eight is,” said Sean.
“Well, if you want to know about the Nine of Eight, you must remember your history,” said Belle as she opened up one of the large books on the table. She read: “Emaria Kroger, Radmila Reimar, Varvara Isaacson, Milorad Mekonnen, Evgenia Mekonnen, Demian Lukin, Branislav Lukin, and Hadassah Trichenberg were known as the “Infamous Eight”, the bastard children of Leopold Trichenberg. Each of them charmed their way into becoming high-ranking members of the Russian Imperial court. Hadassah lived with the Imperial Family, which treated her as their own daughter. Emaria seduced various court members and manipulated them into doing what she wanted. Milorad also wheeled and dealt his way to the top, and he and Leopold often controlled the court...”
“The Infamous Eight?” said Logan. “You’re kidding, right? What do they have to do with the Nine of Eight?”
“Everything,” said Belle.
“Oh, you mean we have to know who they are?” said Sean.
“Yes you do,” said Belle.
“Wait just a minute here,” said Dicky. “How much of that is true?”
“Everything in this book is true,” said Belle as she turned to face Dicky and Andrea. “It’s our family history. Don’t tell me you don’t know your own family history.”
“What if I don’t know about my family history because my foster parents were focused on keeping me alive instead of telling me about people I won’t meet?” said Dicky.
“There’s no excuse for that, Richard Jeremiah Trichenberg!” Belle snapped at him. “Your foster parents were wrong to take you, and your father was wrong to give you away after his second marriage to that gold-digging whore! No one should have to live their lives without knowing who they are; that’s not how it’s done!”
“What do you mean?” said Logan.
“Your cousin Irene can recite the names of everyone on her mother’s side of the family along with the names her father’s ancestors, even to the time of Ivan the Second of Russia, and you don’t know who your father is?” said Belle. “How shameful. It’s time we need a lesson about who we are and the common ancestor we share.”
“And what common ancestor do we share?” said Logan.
“You may not know who he is, but his name is familiar to most of you,” said Belle as she turned to the next page in the book. “The ancestor you’re looking for is Leopold Trichenberg, also known as Leopold Davidovitch Turgenev in Russian.”
“Oh my gosh, you mean...him?” said Andrea. “I heard he was a player.”
“Really?” said Dicky. “How was he a player?”
“Well, I heard that Leo had way too many girlfriends, and threw wild parties that shocked the czar,” said Andrea.
“You’re right, Andrea,” said Belle. “He was a player.”
“What game did our esteemed ancestor play?” said Sean.
“He played the only game that we should know how to play,” said Belle.
“And what game is that?” said Dicky.
Belle let out a huge sigh. “Leo played the game of thrones.”
Meanwhile, Jadis and her assistant, Felix Marshall, were sitting at Starbucks (the first Starbucks). They were discussing Jadis’ spur-of-the-moment decision to find Sean and scold him for stopping the 9/11 attacks as well as creating the Stale Grapes News and getting rid of Harry Potter before Pottermania happened.
“If you ask me, I say this trip was a waste of time,” said Felix as he sipped on his frappuchino. “It’s clearly obvious that he’s gotten over you. He doesn’t need you anymore.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Felix,” said Jadis as she set down her latte. “For the past 20 years, I had to watch as he made fun of everything I liked. I could forgive him for ripping into Sinead O’Connor when she tore up that picture of the pope on Saturday Night Live, but to take one of the greatest children’s stories of the 1990s and call it witchcraft isn’t only insulting, but the fact he called for the author of the Harry Potter books to be punished for writing those books makes me sick. How could he do something like that? Wait, scratch that. How could he say something like that and get away with it? Is he trying to turn the public against women authors?”
“Who knows?” said Felix.
“And another thing,” said Jadis. “How could he give that Harry Potter movie the Dumbest Movie Award when he knows there’s no witchcraft in that movie?”
“Maybe it’s not just about the witchcraft, per se,” said Felix, “but I do believe Sean has a point. If you want to impress the children, figure out what their parents will allow them to read. I’m sure Ms. Rowling will learn from Leslie Harlingson, who wrote that story that promoted homosexuality and caused a national uproar.”
“And now we go back to that,” said Jadis as she ran a hand down her face. “How many times do we need to tell people that witchcraft and homosexuality are bad, especially when it’s in children’s stories?”
“I know,” said Felix. “There’s no loyalty in this world anymore.”
Jadis nodded, wondering how and why she saw Sean as her mortal enemy. But it wasn’t always this way, she thought as she recalled their days at Agape Christian Academy. They were dating off and on, much to the chagrin of Sean’s sisters Shannon, Joanna, and Ariana. Many people expected them to marry when Jadis revealed that she was pregnant with Evolet. Yet the wedding never happened since Sean’s father Seamus learned about the pregnancy; he scolded her for trapping his son in an unwanted relationship.
“I know who you are and I know who your ancestors are, Belinda Jade Turner,” Seamus yelled when Jadis announced that she was pregnant with Jaden. Sean was holding little Evolet on his lap, looking terrified. “Your ancestors almost destroyed my family. Do you really think I want you as a part of the Trichenberg family?”
“I’m not Selena,” said Jadis in turn. “I’m nothing like her!”
“You may not be like Selena, but you came from her brother Phoebus Turner,” Seamus said in turn. “I don’t know what kind of game you’re play with my son, but unless you want me to reveal the truth about the Turner family, you will stay away from Sean.”
Jadis shuddered as she woke up from that daydream; that confrontation led to her jealousy over Sean marrying Lindsey Matheson and the woman’s eventual murder. Sean was so angry with Jadis due to his wife’s death that he took Evolet and Jaden away from her. “Maybe Seamus is right,” Jadis said with a sigh. “Maybe I am no better than my great-great-aunt.”
“Now, now, don’t talk like that,” said Felix. “You can still redeem yourself. Just because your ancestors were bad people doesn’t mean you have to be like them. In fact, we all have that one person in our family who could be regarded as the worst human being in the world.”
“Don’t try to make me feel better,” said Jadis. “I have done terrible things to other people in the name of jealousy. I allowed a woman to die and forced an innocent child to grow up without a mother. Evolet and Jaden don’t know who I am.”
“Well, it’s not too late for you to start over,” said Felix. “But you need to be careful of how you go about it. The people don’t care about your family history, so you can forget about that. All you need to do is to give out some interviews and tell the world who you really are.”
“You think it’s worth a shot?” said Jadis. “All I know is that the minute my story gets out there, the news will rip us apart.”
“All we have to worry about is if SEAMUS will rip us apart,” said Felix. “The Turners and the Trichenbergs haven’t exactly gotten along, and you are the last living member of the Turner family. When you die, there will be no one on earth who carries the Turner family name.”
“Thank you for telling me that information in a public place, where someone could potentially spread that rumor,” said Jadis as she looked around her. So far, few people noticed them; if they did, they didn’t care.
“Well, we have to do something,” said Felix as he also looked over his shoulder. Little did they know that someone was watching them. That person had the power to not only bring down Sean Michael Rowes, but destroy Jadis Thristal as well...
“What do you mean Leo Trichenberg played the game of thrones?” Logan cried out as he glared at Belle.
“What’s game of thrones?” said Dicky.
“Oh, it’s those books by George R.R. Martin,” said Andrea. “In those books, he creates characters you like, then he kills them.”
“Sounds like something I don’t want to read,” said Dicky.
“It’s far worse than that,” said Sean. Everyone stared at him. “First, the books aren’t for kids.”
“Well, that’s unfair,” said Logan. Sean glared at him. “For the kids, that is.”
“Oh, I’ve read about the books,” said Belle, “and I see the similarity between the books and our lives now. As I was saying, Leo was more like Tyrion Lannister than Ned Stark, especially when it came to him running the country. Yet no one hated him or anything like that. Unless, of course, you were a member of the White Angels.”
“OK, that’s understandable,” said Andrea. “But what about us?”
Belle pointed to a family tree she was working on for several weeks. “Sean, you, Logan, and Dicky share a common ancestor; he was your grandfather, Milorad Mekonnen.”
“Milorad Mekonnen?” said Logan.
“Who’s he?” said Dicky.
“Well, Milorad was part of the Infamous Eight,” said Belle. “He and Leo often controlled the Imperial Court, whether the Czar liked it or not. There were rumors that they controlled the Russian Parliament as well.”
“I’m confused,” said Sean. “Milorad?”
“That was his Russian name,” said Belle. “In your case, Sean, you might remember him as Rory Lesouse-Rowes.”
It took Sean a few minutes to process that information. “You mean, Milorad was Grandfather Rory’s real name?” he said. “But how?”
“Milorad changed his name after Leo’s death to protest against the killing of the Romanov Family and the Communists taking over Russia,” said Belle. “Also, he and his sister Evgenia, who you remember as Aunt Jenny, were the longest lived of Leo’s children.”
“OK,” said Andrea. “Where do I come in?”
“Andrea, you’re the descendant of Selena Turner through her only surviving child, Johannah Trichenberg,” said Belle. “You know who she is, don’t you?”
“I can’t say I do,” said Andrea. “My grandmother doesn’t talk about her.”
“I wonder why,” said Belle. “Could it be that the story about Selena almost destroying David Trichenberg’s family and Leo and his cousins killing all the members of the Turner family save for Johannah and her cousin Luna be the reason why Tareza refuses to talk about her family?”
“I wouldn’t know, as the Turner family ended up being only daughters,” said Andrea. “My grandmother is the last Turner daughter, as my mother uses her father’s name.”
“Well, that’s impressive,” said Belle. “I wonder if your mother knows anything about Johannah.”
“I’m not sure, as mother doesn’t know anything about her,” said Andrea. “But if you ask my sister, she might be able to tell you a few things. Why do you need to know about Johannah Trichenberg?”
“And what is the Nine of Eight?” said Logan.
“Remember when I said that Leo had eight children out of wedlock?” said Belle.
“You mean the Infamous Eight?” said Dicky.
“Well, rumor had it that he had fathered a ninth bastard child 24 years after the birth of his youngest bastard, Hadassah,” said Belle.
“OK,” said Logan. “Where are we going with this?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” said Andrea. “Leo was the father of the Infamous Eight; they were Emaria Kroger, Radmila Reimar, Varvara Isaacson, Milorad Mekonnen, Evgenia Mekonnen, Demian Lukin, Branislav Lukin, and Hadassah Trichenberg.”
“And what about Belle?” said Dicky. “Where does she fit in?”
“Oh my fricking God!” Sean cried out. “It’s obvious where this story is heading. How does Belle know about the Infamous Eight as well as the history of the Trichenberg family? How does she know about Leo Trichenberg?”
“She shouldn’t,” said Logan. “Not unless…”
“Belle’s the Nine of Eight,” said Andrea. Everyone stared at her. “What? I’m only telling the truth. Belle was born a few years after Hadassah died. She knows about the Trichenberg family. How could she not be the Nine of Eight?”
“But that doesn’t make sense,” said Dicky. “How could Belle be a Trichenberg and none of our grandparents knew about it?”
“I met your grandfather when I was 18 years old,” said Belle. “Before that, my mother and I lived on the Quileute Reservation. The only reason why I wasn’t found until my 18th year was because my mother covered up her affair with Leo and wrote my name as Pomona Braumlein, which was her husband’s name. My stepfather was Henrik Braumlein; he never knew who my father was.”
“Well, I didn’t know that,” said Logan.
“I will admit that my mother tried to take that secret about me to her grave, but I found out who my father was, no thanks to rumors about her that circulated all throughout the city of Forks,” said Belle. “But enough about that, as we now have work to do.”
“What work?” said Sean.
“We have to find the rest of the family and put an end to the Sons of Ebal,” said Belle. “But the task will not be easy and they’ve been sloppy so far, seeing as they dared to show their faces at the Olympics and expose themselves to the world. Now as the leaders plan to capture the leaders of this oppressive group, I say we openly declare war on them and anyone who chooses to support them. Are we ready?”
Sean, Logan, Dicky, and Andrea frowned as they sat in their seats. Belle had a plan that would ensure the fate of the world and whether the United States would survive the onslaught that was coming...