Three weeks before Kelly arrives in Wales.
“You can’t let them know about you, you’ll have to put on a show”
I looked up from sweet little Deedee in my arms over to my mother across the courtyard dining table. Leaning over her calendar book and writing, she glanced up to me before picking some fruit off her plate. I cocked my head to the side to see what she was writing before asking,
“What do you mean?”
She took a bite of blood orange and its juice ran down her chin in a stream of crimson. Leaning over the table to grab a napkin, she looked up and across to the house where David and Giuseppe were up on the roof, fixing some stone tiles that had come loose with the last storm. Wiping her chin, she eyed her husband,
“I mean, you can’t let them know any of it, about your father’s promise. If you knew that Ewan Jones had promised you to the Maddock clan thirty years ago, and you still returned? It would be awfully suspicious. You wouldn’t get anywhere after that.” After a pause she added thoughtfully, “In fact, you’ll probably have to put up a fight to seem plausible.”
I opened my mouth to ask more, but the baby in my arms started to wake up and fuss that she was hungry. Even as an irritated and hangry newborn, she was still the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. I put my fingers to my throat and looked over to the main house, a few hundred feet away, eyeing a figure in the kitchen window and projecting my voice.
“Mari, can you please bring over Deedee’s bottle?”
A hand shot out the window and waved to say that she heard, and I turned back to Jolene before she added,
“And you certainly can’t let them know you’re half Witch.”
I clamped my mouth shut. That made sense. From what I had been reading in Jolene’s books, Witches had never had good relations with any of the other ‘unnaturals’. There was too much animosity, too much jealousy against us. We could still be a part of the two worlds, unlike most of them. But still, something didn’t make sense in all of Jolene’s machinations.
“Now that you mention it, why the hell aren’t we going in there guns blazing? I mean, if you just wanted the family dead, why not just do it quick and simple? You have a whole company devoted to this. Why do I have to go in there and act like a lamb to slaughter?”
Deedee was starting to really stir now and my mother held her hands out for the baby to calm until she was fed. I willingly passed her over and tried to think this out. I still hadn’t decided if I was going to go to my father’s little fishing village and play out Jolene’s scenario of revenge. When my mother had detailed what the Maddock Weres had been doing with my father’s legacy, how my grandmother was essentially a prisoner in her own house, and how many other people in general suffered, it got me on board for vengeance. But the brief layout of what I was to do gave me more than questions, it made my heart leap out of my chest. I was walking into a wolves’ den and I wasn’t even allowed to use magic?
My mother stood and was bouncing Deedee on the balls of her feet. For the maternal sight she presented, her words were the opposite. Cold and with disdain.
“First, because there are just too many of them. And more importantly because we don’t want to just kill them, I want them to feel it. I’ve been waiting a long time for this, Kelly. Have you never heard that revenge is a dish best served cold?”
I smiled at a memory of feeling the exact opposite at one time and listened to her continue,
“We want them to self destruct, to do it themselves. When they are all gone, I don’t want some silly little ex-girlfriend or lover taking it into her head that she needs to avenge the Maddocks. When they are gone. I want it finished. We are not here to make a decade long feud that spans down past our grandchildren.”
She looked over to Mari who was now bringing over the bottle, and she resumed herself to feed the baby.
“And, hell, if they found out you were a witch, well, they wouldn’t even care if you were Ewan’s daughter. They would try to kill you then and there. Witches do not have a good reputation in that part of the world.”
I leaned back into my chair, slowly peeling an orange in thought. If I went along with my mother’s plan and went to Wales, I had to lie and couldn’t use magic. I had never relied on the two before this year, so I was pretty sure that I was not a specialist in either. My gaze turned and looked up at the two men up on the roof of the tall house.
But the Maddocks hurt people, like really hurt people. Not just through complacency, but actively, and they were doing it on my father’s dime. Because he was too kind hearted, because he felt guilt at taking someone away from their family. Guilty and giving. Yes, daddy had certainly tried to make me in his image, huh?
My glazed over staring at the two men on the house was not unnoticed and I realized the young handsome Italian was now staring at me in return with a big smile across the distance. I gave a slight smile, not enough to encourage but to acknowledge him. To his mistake, Giuseppe waved back, causing one of the tiles under his feet to shift and he lost his balance.
Watching the man from across the courtyard start to fall from the forty foot drop, I let out a yelp of fear and shot out my hands as if I could catch him across the distance.
Behind me at the table, whispered words were uttered quickly as the man fell and a whoosh of air raced past my head and from every direction to the house. About a foot off the ground, Giuseppe seemed to land on a cushion of air, unharmed. He hovered in the air for a millisecond when he was deposited the remaining foot and landed with a ‘thud’.
I rushed over to the prostrate man, David now quickly descending via the ladder. Helping him sit up, he was wild-eyed and it was evident the adrenaline was now hitting his system. His hands were shaking as I held them.
Not really hearing me, he nodded anyway and I helped him to stand, brushing off the dirt. David came up behind him and clamped a hand on his shoulder in support.
“Forse pranzo, huh?” He asked of the younger man who absently nodded again. Guiding the stunned Italian by the shoulder, together they walked inside the house and to the kitchen for respite. Once they were gone, I studied the space where Giuseppe landed, thinking over what the hell I had just seen. I looked back across the courtyard to my mom still in her chair with a nearly sleeping baby, an imperceptible smile on her lips.
I stalked back to the table, some of the excitement of the last minute still fueling me. Pacing in front of her, I thought through my question. Holy mother fucker, did she just control air? Air? Enough of it to make a cushion for the falling man? I remember at one time looking inside the Ring of the commune and the perfect weather it held, and thinking that was power. To control mother nature when she was in opposition to you.
From her seat, she watched me, amused, knowing what was running through my head. Deedee had finished her bottle and was now in a milk coma in her arms.
Sitting down, my legs still frantically bounced with my own adrenaline.
“How?” I asked. She was looking over the baby, gently stroking her face and replied directly.
“Oxygen has an atomic number of 8, which means there are eight little parts of energy in the air we breathe that can be manipulated, all the other elements that go into air are similar. The only real skill is manipulating from such a great distance, that’s where incantations come in.”
“Are they in the books?”
She lost the smile and her face took on a no-nonsense look like I was trying to cheat her out of a prize.
“Oh, they aren’t in any books.”
Meaning that she held all the cards, she always would if I wanted to be able to save someone’s life like she just did. I looked her over, the smile back on her lips as she was cooing the sleeping baby in her arms.
Margaret Wardwell, the master manipulator? Hell, Jolene Jones was the second coming when it came to manipulation, at least in doing it to me I was starting to realize. I was sure that half of the things she had done weren’t necessary, though, with her explanations they seemed life or death at the time.
Maybe Gran would have tried to kill Will if we were still attached and he was safer apart.
And yes, I could understand that it was out of her control if men didn’t follow her orders and tried to force me via torture, after all, she didn’t bat an eye when I killed them.
Sure, maybe it was true that it was crazy to leave a newborn in a cave full of wolves who were running around with bloodlust, but why take her out of Diana in the first place?
I looked over to the older woman again, now staring out into the olive grove, their limbs swaying in the breeze that had gently caught some of her coiffed chestnut hair. Over the last three weeks I had been stuffing my brain with all the magic it could take, which probably wasn’t that much. The basics and then into more Wardwell territory, but it seemed that Jolene was still holding onto the good stuff. I vaguely remembered Gran once telling me that Wardwell’s were all types of magic, but none of them. Is this what she meant, we could manipulate branches of magic, like Elementals, without being one?
I studied my mother, her eyes now closed, feeling the breeze on her perfect porcelain skin. She had me, she knew it.
“Will you teach me them?”
Her eyes didn’t open but she smiled at my question.
“That’s pretty big stuff, you probably won't ever need it.”
I sighed and looked out over the olive grove, watching the lazy wind stir leaves.
“I will if I am going to go to Wales in a few weeks.”
She now faced me,
“Not at all.”
She stayed silent and in thought,
“Well, we better get you ready for the ring, huh?”