After breakfast was over and the dishes were finished, everyone went into the living room. Colleen and Sean got out more photo albums and they showed them to Molly. Molly looked at them with happiness in her eyes. She saw pictures of her mother when she was very young. She was amazed at how much they looked alike. They could have been twins. The only difference was that Molly had brown flecks in her green eyes. Her mother’s eyes were all green.
Molly had tears in her eyes when she saw pictures of her and her mother together. Those pictures broke her heart. Colleen put an arm around Molly. She gave her hug. “Your mother loved you very much. She always said you were the best thing that ever happened to her.”
Molly saw pictures of her with her grandparents and mother. Colleen said, “Your grandparents were overjoyed when you and your mother moved back in with them. Your grandmother said that her prayers were answered when you arrived.”
“I had so little time with them, only three years.” Molly said.
“The length of time does no matter. Those three years were filled with enough joy to last 100 years.” Colleen said.
Everyone sat in the living room in front of the fireplace looking at photo albums and reminiscing about old times.
At 12:30 Claude and Bruce walked into the living room. Claude was tall and thin with curly dark hair. Bruce was tall and had a stocky build. Molly was shocked to see that his face was horribly scarred. Half of his face was puckered in. The skin seemed to sink into a hole in the center of his cheek. Molly dropped the photo album and stood up. She knew that Bruce was shot, and she just knew who did it, her father. Molly began to cry.
Bruce walked over to Molly and patted her on the shoulder. “Why are you crying? I may be big, but I won’t hurt you.”
“I’m sorry, I am crying about your face.” Molly said.
“Am I that ugly?”
No! It’s just that I know you were shot and I know my father did it.”
“Yes. Your father did it, so why are you crying? You were not the one who hurt me. Nor did you kill my wife.” Bruce put a hand up to Molly’s cheek. “Besides, I think your father hurt you also. You were his victim as much as mine.”
Claude stared at Molly. Claudette reached out and swatted him. “Where are your manners, greet the young lady properly!”
Claude stepped closer to Molly and bowed. “I am Claude Delacroix, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance.” He extended at hand out to Molly. He then took her hand and kissed it. Molly giggled and blushed. Nicole laughed. She said, “I bet that this is the most contact Molly ever had with the opposite sex.” Molly stuck her tongue out at her.
“For goodness sake, the girl is only 14!” Colleen said.
Sean said, “Yes but her mom was 15 when she got involved with Eddie.”
“Hopefully, Molly will make better choices.” Malcolm said.
Molly stepped back from Claude and glared at Malcolm. “What you really mean is “hopefully Molly will not be a whore and get knocked up, like her mother.”
Malcolm hung his head in shame. “I was way out of line. I apologize for my rude behavior. I had not right to speak that way. In time I hope you will forgive me.” Malcolm sighed. “But, you know what they say about first impressions. Look we got off on the wrong foot. How about we wipe the slate clean and start over?”
Molly shrugged her shoulders. “That is fine with me. You were nice to me last night.”
Claudette clapped her hands. “Alright now that everything is settled, I must go and prepare lunch.”
“Good, I am starving. I could not bring myself to eat the slop they call food on the plane!” Claude said. “attendez-moi ma sœur, je veux aider à préparer le déjeuner
“Wait for me sister, I want to help prepare lunch.” Claude said.
Nicole rolled her eyes. “Here we go with the French.” Molly laughed.
Claude looked at Nicole. “You should pay more attention. I hear you are taking French this semester in school.”
“I wish I could take Spanish the whole year.” Nicole grumbled.
Claude walked to the kitchen with Claudette. Colleen got up to go with them.
“I think it is best to learn many languages. Alister said. “
Malcolm said, “Molly, in this house you will be exposed to many different languages. Sometimes from one person during a conversation.”
Molly grinned. “Do you mean Claude and Claudette?”
“Not just them. I can speak Irish, Gaelic, German, Spanish, and of course French. That includes Haitian Creole and Cajun. I may not be fluent in all these languages, but I know enough to get by.”
“I don’t think I could learn to speak any of those languages.” Molly shrugged. I am dyslexic. I was told by my guidance counselor that people with dyslexia have trouble learning foreign languages.”
Malcolm made hand gesture. “I am sure if you had teachers who had the proper patience, you could learn. I feel the best way to learn a language is to listen. Listen when people speak it in everyday conversation.”
Nicole laughed. “If you are here when Claude and Claudette cook, you will hear lots of Cajun and Creole. Of course it is mostly curse words.”
Malcolm nodded. “Plus you will see various kitchen utensils fly from the kitchen. I wish I did not let Claudette talk me into remodeling to an open kitchen design. It was safer when there was a kitchen wall.”
Sean chuckled. “You had to remodel, the last kitchen went up in flames.”
Nicole sniggered. Molly gasped. “What happened?”
Sean hung his head. “Claude and I had the bright idea to deep fry a turkey. It did not work out so well. “
Malcolm said. “Sean, I do not blame you. I know Claudette and Claude conspired to burn the kitchen down so it could be upgraded. We always seem to have a fire when Claudette wants a room remodeled. I tell her we don’t need it and it would be too expensive. Take the upstairs bathroom. She claims that a glade plugin caused the fire. Pfft. Who plugged the thing in the first place?”
“Are you sure you want to stay with this crazy family? You will be insane like then within the week.” Nicole said.
“I’d be happy to be part of a real family, no matter how insane.” Molly said.
Claude came into the room. “Alright, lunch will be hot dogs and hamburgers. Who wants what?”
Nicole said. “I am surprised, I thought you would want gumbo or crawfish?”
Claude made a face and said, “Blech, I had enough Cajun food on my vacation. I want some authentic American cuisine.”
“Aww, no fair. I was hoping Molly would get introduced to Cajun and Creole cuisine.” Nicole said.
“In time I sure she will. If you need to know one thing about living in this house, we love food. Claudette and I love to cook. You will never go hungry when you live here.” Claude said. “With Colleen here, you will get to have many different dishes from around the world.”
“Plus you will have to watch the food network 24/7. If you turn the channel, Claudette will throw knives at you.” Nicole said.
“I don’t want that to happen again!” Molly said.
“Again?” Claude asked. Molly explained about what happened at dinner last night. How she made a mistake about saying that Claudette should not cook because she was blind.
Claude laughed until he nearly fell on the floor. “Too bad I was not here to see that!”
Claudette’s voice came from the kitchen. “Claude, de revenir ici. vous avez à faire la salade de pommes de terre. Dépêchez-vous, ou je te traînerai retour ici!” (Claude, get back in here. you have to make the potato salad. hurry up, or I will drag you back in here!)
“Merde! Ou konnen mwen pito makawoni sòs salad! ou fè sòs salad a pòmdetè! Apre sa, mwen yo va tounen nan kwizin lè mwen byen ak sa ki pare” (Shit! You know I prefer macaroni salad! You make the potato salad! And I will come back in kitchen when I am good and ready!)
“Oh come on! Speak English, this is America.” Nicole said.
“Young lady, my ancestors fought very hard for the right to speak franse ak ayisyen kreyòl,. It took years for the people of La Nouvelle Orléans to win the right to speak their native tongues. In school, I got whipped for not speaking Anglais “English.”
Malcolm rolled his eyes. “Please don’t get him started! I heard that tale of woe a million times.”
Claude made a rude gesture at Malcolm. Then he huffed and stomped back into the kitchen.
“I hope I did not make him too angry. He might spit in my food.” Malcolm said.
“He would do that?’ Molly asked.
“It is a lesson you need to learn, never upset the person who prepares your food.” Alister said. “The Germans upset the French in WWII when they took over their country. They got rat poison in their food.”
Colleen comes out into the living room. “Lunch is ready.”
“And on that note let’s go eat.” Alister said. Everybody laughed and went into the kitchen.
Andrew and Alister’s conversation
The table was crowded since Claude and Bruce arrived. Andrew and Alister were still there. Everyone dug into their food. Andrew and Alister glanced at each other. Then they got up and went into the living room.
Nicole saw them. She waited a few minutes and then got up. “I have to use the bathroom.” She snuck into the living room and hid behind the sofa.
“So what is this about?” Alister asked.
“I want to explain why I sent Allen to Lafitte Island.” Andrew said.
“I have not heard from either of them. Have you heard from them?” Andrew said.
Alister sighed. He shook his head. “
Allen said. “I sent Allen to see what is going on.”
Alister paced back and forth in the living room. “Perhaps I should have gone.”
Andrew shook his head. “I need you to convince everyone that Molly needs to go back into hiding.”
Alister glared at Andrew. “I will not take her away from her family! Molly belongs here.”
“Do you want the feud to start again? For people to die?” Andrew yelled at Alister.
“Cad atá déanta Déantar é. Ní féidir é a undone” (What’s done is done. It can’t be undone!) Alister said.
Andrew turned and stormed out of the living room. Alister followed him.
Nicole waited 5 minutes after he left and got up from behind the sofa. She walked into the downstairs bathroom. Whether she could trust Fred or not, she knew one thing for sure. She would protect Molly. It was Nicole who brought Molly here. It was only natural for her to be Molly’s protector. Of course, she did not have just selfish reasons to bring Molly home
Molly noticed Nicole taking a long time in the bathroom. She wondered if she should go after her. After 15 minutes Nicole finally came back. “What did you do, fall in?” Molly snickered.
Nicole stuck out her tongue. “That is none of your business.” She sat down at the table and cleared her throat and sighed. “I need to tell everybody why I brought Molly home behind everybody’s back. I found out that aunt Colleen has cancer. I overheard a conversation between her and my mother.
.Colleen threw a hotdog at Nicole. “Oh ag tú fraochÚn dúr nach bhféadfaí tú a fhágáil go maith go leor ina n-aonar! Ní ba chóir duit a sheachadadh nuacht olc ar an tábla dinnéar (Oh you stupid whore you couldn't leave well enough alone! don't you know that you should not deliver bad news at the dinner table?)
“Ná fhios agat go bhfuil sé mícheart aon rud a choinneáil ó do theaghlach? Mo náire thú! Ba chóir duit a bheith in iúl Molly ó thús.”( Don't you know it is wrong to keep anything from your family? Shame on you! You should have told Molly from the very beginning.)
“Dam it! What the hell is going on! Please explain in English! Don’t you know it is rude to speak in a language someone does not understand? Molly screamed.
“Fine. I have some awful news to tell you, Molly dear. I have breast cancer. I found out two months ago. I wanted to be sure, so I have not told many people. I did not even tell Malcolm and Claudette. But now everybody knows.” Colleen said.
Molly sat there in stunned silence. She could not process what her great aunt had just said. She felt like someone jabbed her with a cattle prod. She could not move or even think. She just completely froze. Her throat closed up. Her breath came out in shallow gasps. Her heart thudded in time with the throbbing inside her head. This was one of the few times Molly wished she had her anti-anxiety medication.
“This is the reason I did not want to tell her! Poor girl has been through way too much for me to add to her pain.” Colleen said.
Those words brought Molly back a little. She did not want her great aunt to feel guilty for having breast cancer. She felt sad and angry, Molly had only recently found her family, and then to hear that one of them has a fatal disease. She felt cheated. That was just her luck. She gets close to happiness and then it gets snatched away from her. She decided it would be best if she never got close to anybody ever again. There was not point. People she loved and cared about always got taken away from her. Her mother and her grandparents. Now her aunt Colleen.
Claude studied Molly intently. He put a hand on her arm. “Sometimes tragedy brings people closer together. When someone is ill, it gives their family a chance to cherish their time with them.”
“That is why I went out to find you. I knew Colleen had cancer. I wanted you to come back and be with her before she-“Nicole said.
“Don’t you dare say “die” It will take much more than breast cancer to kill me! The doctor told me they caught the cancer early. Don’t you worry? You are stuck with me for a very long time!” Colleen said.
Sean wiped tears from his eyes. “Colleen is too mean to die!’
“Dam right!” Colleen said.
Molly slept soundly in her bed. A jabbing pain in her arm made her jerk awake. She felt a gag on her mouth. Andrew stood over her. “I’m sorry, but I had to do this. You are not safe here.” Molly looked over at Nicole. Andrew said, “I gave her shot so she is out cold and won’t wake until sometime tomorrow.”
Molly was scared. She could not yell because of the gag. She felt herself drifting into paralysis. “I don’t want to leave my family. I just found them. Who is Andrew to decide where I am safe?” she thought.
Andrew went over to the window and jumped out holding Molly in his arms. He headed over to his car. He was knocked down to the ground by what felt like a kick to the head.
“Did you really think you could get away?” Nicole punched him and caught Molly when she fell. Nicole sat Molly gently down on the ground away from Andrew’s reach. “Those drugs quit working on me a long time ago. Tolerance is a wonderful thing.”
Andrew growled and his fangs came out. His fingernails grew into claws. He lunged at Nicole and managed to claw her in the stomach. Nicole let a piercing wail. Lights went on in the house. Alister and Malcolm jumped out the windows beside the one Nicole just came out of.
Alister and Malcolm had their fangs out. “What the hell is going on?” Malcolm asked. They saw Molly on the ground. Alister glared at Andrew. “Care to explain?”
Andrew walked over to Malcolm. He was shoved out of the way by Nicole. “That bastard tried to kidnap Molly again.”
Andrew jumped up and tackled Nicole and slammed her on the ground. He was grabbed and clawed by Alister. “Now son, you know better than to hit a woman, especially one that is your sister!” Andrew tried to get out of Allister’s grip, but the claws were too tight. “Come on, let’s go in the house and discuss this rationally.” He dragged Andrew into the house.
Malcolm picked up Molly and carried her back into the house.
Alister stood up at the table. He cleared his throat. “Folks if I could have your attention. I hate to talk about the impending war after hearing bad news. It is important that we have a plan. A plan that will keep all of our loved ones safe.” He put his head down and then looked up with a determined look on his face. “I realize there is a lot of mistrust within this group of people. I am begging you to put all differences aside.” Alister settled his gaze on Andrew. Andrew shrugged his shoulders. He started to speak, but Alister silenced him with a raise of his hand. “I have said this many times, unfortunately, some people are too thick headed to listen. The time for bickering is done! I will not tolerate it. If one of us has trust issues with someone, keep them to yourself. If you can’t do that, then leave.”
“We should also stop is making plans behind everybody’s back. For instance, dear Andrew has a plan to take Molly back into hiding.” Nicole said.
Everyone at the table gasped. Colleen screamed, “Over my dead body!”
Alister raised his hands. “Please quiet down.” He looked at Andrew. “I will not let that happen.”
Andrew stood up with his fists clenched. His lips formed a very thin like. He sucked in his cheek and sighed. “Father, please listen to my side of the story. I have been loyal to you and your careful plans to keep the Stirling clan safe. Nicole ruins these plans in as little as three days! Her actions will cause the blood feud to start again.” He slammed both fists on the table. “Instead of being angry with her, you take her side! I want to put Molly back into hiding, where she will be safe. You refuse to listen to anything I have to say. Therefore, I refuse to help you anymore.” He walked away from the table and out the door.
Everyone sat in stunned silence. Alister had tears in his eyes as he gazed out the door. He sat down and put his head in his hands.
Molly was not surprised that Mr. Stirling (Andrew) behaved that way. He was always very demanding and did not like it when someone did not follow his instructions. “I never trusted him anyway.” She thought. “He is very controlling. Plus, he is a huge liar. I can’t trust someone who lied to me for ten years. He also has a nasty temper. I feel safer with him gone. I just hope he does not try to take me away again.” Molly thought.
“Good riddance.” Nicole said. “I was tired of him accusing my step dad of betrayal. If you ask me, Jean-Marc will be the one to betray us.”
“That boy is nothing like the rest of his family.” Claudette said. “He is not evil like his father. He has been a friend to me and Malcolm for many years.” Claudette turned to face in the direction of Molly. “It has been proven that you can’t judge a person simply by their last name. “Jean-Marc has helped the Stirling family by keeping tabs on his father.”
Malcolm put his palms up and faced them out. “
“Who are these people that Alister is talking about? Molly thought. Why should I care? Malcolm and Claudette might have problems with them, they have nothing to do with me. Instead of talking about the Lafitte family, they should concentrate on my father’s family. They have the most to gain from a feud. The Jones family (I do not consider them to be my family) interests will be in kidnapping me. What we should be talking about is how to protect me!
“I don’t see what these people have to do with me!” Molly said. “I don’t see how your enemies are my enemies.”
“Your family works for the Lafitte family.” Alister said.
“What? You said the Jones family were vampire hunters.” Molly said.
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Alister quoted. “Sometimes unscrupulous vampires will hire hunters to take out rival clans. Jean-Baptiste hired the Jones family to stir up trouble with our family.”
“The reason for the 1937 attacks was so that Jean-Baptiste could take control of the glass company.” Malcolm said.
“Why did he not come himself?” Molly asked.
Malcolm laughed. “A man like Jean-Baptiste does not get his hands dirty. He hires people to do his dirty work. That man has not left the Lafitte mansion in almost 70 years.”
Molly raised an eyebrow. “Why?”
Malcolm said, “He is afraid of Julien Delacroix. They fought in 1918. Jean-Baptiste nearly died. He would have if his sons did not interfere in the fight.”
Claudette interrupted. “Speaking of my uncle, we need to call him. I am sure he will want to know that the feud has started up again.” Claudette got up and left the room.
“This is all my fault.” Molly said. “I never should have come here.” She put her head in her hands. She then laid her head on the table. “Maybe Andrew is right.”
“That is nonsense. I am glad you came. I am happy that I found out you are alive. I am glad that I got to see you before I -.” Colleen said.
Molly looked up. “Don’t you dare say die. There is treatment and you will be fine.”
“Dam right she will be!” Sean said. “It will take much more than cancer to kill a Dillon.”
Colleen poked Sean. “I was a Murphy before I was a Dillon.”
Alister chuckled. “I doubt there is much difference. The Dillon’s and Murphy’s have been inbreeding for almost a century.”
Sean raised an eyebrow and grinned. “Well, the Stirling’s and Sinclair’s have been doing it for three centuries.”
“What of it? Inbreeding keeps the blood line strong. If it is good enough for Royal families, it is good for us.” Alister said.
Molly laughed. She agreed with Alister. Colleen had shown her the family tree that morning. She was shocked to see very few names and the lack of branches.
Claudette came back into the room. “Julien is on his way. He said he was glad the feud was back on. Since he retired he has been very bored lately.”
“I am sure he looks forward to seeing Jean-Baptiste again.” Malcolm said. “I hope I will get a ringside seat to the fight.”
“I never saw a dirtier fighter than Jean-Baptiste. For a man to claim he is a “gentleman” he never fought fair in his entire life. He relies on his sons to fight his battles.”
“I hope Jean-Marc is careful. He thinks his father trusts him.” Claudette said.
She sighed. “I shudder to think what will happen if Jean-Baptiste turns on him.