Tuesday, January 29, 2013

[Prologue] Chapter 13: Some Are Born To Sing the Blues

“Maeve,” he murmurs her name softly, letting the delicate sound linger on his tongue. “I’ve missed you.”

Maeve smiles and kisses him again. “You don’t know how long I’ve dreamed about this moment,” she whispers breathlessly. “But I need to tell you something, Luca.”

“Can’t it wait?” he asks as he runs his hands down her back and begins fumbling with her clothes.

She pulls away slightly and shakes her head. “No. I need to tell you something,” she repeats, more firmly this time. “Wait here.”

Grabbing her hand, Luca looks her straight in the eye and says, “Come back, okay?”

Maeve tries to laugh off his words, but Luca’s face remains hard and serious. “I’ll only be a second,” she assures him.

What she brings with her when she returns sends shockwaves down Luca’s body.

“This is Tallulah,” Maeve tells him quietly. “She is your daughter, Luc.”

A million emotions rip through his chest as Luca’s eyes come to rest on the child in her arms, but anger quickly overwhelms him.

“You were pregnant?!” he hears himself say. “And you didn’t tell me? We have another daughter, and you didn’t tell me?!”

Maeve’s face falls. “Luca,” she pleads. “It’s not like that! I didn’t know I was pregnant when I left, and before I could tell you they discovered me. The council, they found me, and I had to cut off contact, to protect you and Delilah.”

Luca takes a step back. “I’m so tired of your bullshit,” he whispers, shaking his head in disbelief. “You show up here after years of being gone, and then you drop something like this on me?! I can’t- I can’t do this anymore. I want to love you, but you’ve done nothing but hurt me and my family. No more, Maeve. No more.”

Tears begin to stream down her face as Maeve reaches out to him. “Please,” she cries. “I wanted to tell you, but I was scared! I couldn’t face you again so soon after leaving, and I needed some time away to think about things. I’m sorry.”

“No,” he breathes as he reaches for the door. “We’re done, Maeve. I’ll take the kid if that’s what you want, but I never want to see you again.”

“But I’m going to stay in Jericho!” Maeve sobs, desperation seeping into her voice. “To raise Tallulah near you and her sister. I want to be a family again, Luc. I want-”

But he’s already out the door.

After walking around town for hours, Luca comes home late that night to a warm welcome from Emily.

“I was so worried!” she cries, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him deeply. “Where have you been all day?!”

Luca closes his eyes and braces for the worst. “I saw Maeve today,” he whispers. “I- We have another daughter, Emily.”

To his complete and utter surprise, Emily doesn’t freak out or lose her temper.

Taking a deep breath, she simply nods and says, “It’s okay, Luca. It’s going to be okay. We can get through this. You can get through this.”

Hearing those words, full of love and support, Luca feels the walls of anger and frustration that have enclosed his weary heart for so many years collapse around him, and he begins to sob, choking on the tears he’s held back since before Maeve left.

“I love you,” she soothes as he cries on her shoulder. “I love you.”

Hoping to distract Luca from his worries about Maeve and their daughter, Emily arranges a day at the park that weekend with him and the kids. The ponds have already frozen solid for winter, and so the family decides to try their hand at ice skating.

Ever eager to show off his athletic prowess, Rigby is the first to try skating all the way around the pond.

Although he struggles a bit at first, he does eventually get the hang of it.

Not to be outdone by Rigby, Kieran also attempts to make it around the whole lake, but he’s much slower to pick up the skill than his nimble friend.

Delilah doesn’t like ice skating. It’s much harder than it looks.

Emily, however, finds the exercise stimulating and enjoyable, and she loves the challenge of trying to keep her balance, even if she isn’t that graceful yet.

Oona is a natural and doesn’t even fall once. Well, that is until she and Rigby decide to try spinning together…


Nevertheless, they get right back up and try it again.

After skating, the family starts a fire and roasts some marshmallows. Despite repeated warnings of burnt and blackened sugar, Delilah insists on doing three at a time…

And naturally she burns them all.

Aww, sad. ='(

Kieran gives her one of his extras, and the rest of the day proceeds without incident.

Meanwhile, Emily’s nausea continues to worsen to the point that even Luca begins to worry about her.

One night over dinner, he ventures a theory.

“You’re not- I mean, you can’t be… Are you pregnant, Em?”

Emily freezes, carefully considering the idea. “I- I’m not sure,” she admits quietly. “Will you go with me? To find out?”

Luca nods and squeezes her hand reassuringly. He doesn’t want more kids, but pregnancy would be far better than some life-threatening ailment.

The night after the doctor’s appointment, they’re both in shock.

“I’m sorry,” Emily whispers, barely able to make eye contact. “I should have been more careful.”

“Stop it, Em. It takes two to make a baby.” He smiles and runs his fingers down her wet, tearstained cheek. “I love you, and I feel blessed that I’m going to be a parent again. Especially with you.”

Emily looks up at him skeptically. “You mean it?” she asks.

Luca nods. “I know it wasn’t planned, but we can handle this.”

“But what about the kids?”

“They need to know about us,” he replies with a sigh. “We should have told them from the start, but they’re good kids. They’ll understand.”

Pulling her into his arms, Luca kisses her fiercely.

“You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he tells her when they break apart. “And I love you.”

“I love you too,” she whispers contentedly.

For the most part, the kids take the news in stride. Rigby even suggests that the pair ought to get engaged soon.

Delilah, on the other hand, has the opposite reaction.

"How long do you wanna bet they stay together?" she frowns. "Six months? A year?"

“Forever,” Kieran replies confidently. “I don’t think Miss Emily is going anywhere.”

“You’re no fun!” Delilah pouts. “Besides, relationships never last, and this one won’t either.”

Kieran just shrugs and turns back to his cereal.

At Emily’s urging, Luca invites Maeve over to the house the following afternoon. He needs to tell her about Emily, and he wants to get acquainted with his other daughter.

He plays with Tallulah for a little while before sitting down to talk with Maeve.

“I’ve moved back into my mother’s old house,” Maeve tells him as he joins her on the couch. “Atticus had to return to his garden near Arundel, but I plan to stick around this time, Luca. I want Tallulah to know her father.”

Luca sighs. “I want to know her as well, but that doesn’t change things between us, Maeve. I- I’m with somebody else now, and we’re expecting a baby soon.”

Maeve inhales sharply, her eyes wide with surprise. “Who?”

One word, a single question, but Luca can’t help but feel offended.

“Does it matter?” he snaps. “I love her, and she loves me. I will be a father to Lulu, but I don’t want anything to do you with you, Maeve.”

Maeve frowns, feeling both frustrated and hurt by his angry declaration. “Fine,” she whispers at last. “But if you want to see Lulu, then I get to be a part of Delilah’s life as well.”

Luca shakes his head. “No,” he says simply. “She has a mother, and you are not her. If she wants to meet you again when she’s older, I won’t stand in her way, but until she’s a teenager and fully capable of understanding her decisions then I don’t want you to have any contact with her. You hurt her badly the first time you left, and I can’t risk that happening again.”

Maeve tries to argue with him, but Luca remains firm in his decision. Seeing no alternative, she finally relents and agrees not to contact Delilah until after her birthday.

One day after school, Kieran and Delilah decide to check out the arcade games at the Old Station Venue near their house.

They both love music, however, and are immediately drawn to the karaoke machine.

♫          Just a small town girl
             Livin' in a lonely world
             She took the midnight train goin' anywhere

♫          Just a city boy
             Born and raised in South Detroit
             He took the midnight train goin' anywhere

♫          A singer in a smoky room
             A smell of wine and cheap perfume
             For a smile they can share the night
             It goes on and on and on and on

♫          Strangers waiting
             Up and down the boulevard
             Their shadows searchin' in the night

♫          Streetlight, people
             Livin' just to find emotion
             Hidin' somewhere in the night

♫          Workin' hard to get my fill
             Everybody wants a thrill
             Payin' anything to roll the dice
             Just one more time

♫          Some will win, some will lose
             Some are born to sing the blues
             And now the movie never ends
             It goes on and on and on and on

♫          Strangers waiting
             Up and down the boulevard
             Their shadows searchin' in the night

♫          Streetlight, people
             Livin' just to find emotion
             Hidin' somewhere in the night

♫          Don't stop believin'
             Hold on to that feelin'
             Streetlight, people

♫          Don't stop believin'
             Hold on to that feelin'
             Streetlight, people

♫          Don't stop!          ♫

Back at home, Emily’s baby bump continues to expand at a rapid rate. Despite his initial concerns, Luca actually feels excited at the prospect of another child, and he honestly can’t wait to meet the little stinker. Sure, the 3 a.m. feedings are a pain and he could live without all the dirty diapers, but he loves Emily and is looking forward to raising their baby together.

“How did it get in there?” Delilah asks one morning.

Emily smiles as Lila gently presses her head against her belly. “When a man and a woman love each other very much, they will have sex together,” she explains carefully, “and sometimes, very rarely, a baby is created.”

Delilah’s eyes widen. “But how does it get out?” she breathes.

“With a lot of pushing,” Emily laughs.

A whole heck of a lot of pushing in Emily’s case.

After hours and hours in the delivery room, Luca and Emily bring home a baby girl, who they name Zosia.

A short while later, Kieran quietly ages up into a teenager.

And life at the McKinley household finally settles into a happy routine.

Challenge Notes:

Zosia is pronounced like “Sasha” except with a Z at the beginning instead of an S. It’s the Polish variation of the name Sophia, which is Greek and means “wisdom”. Zosia was born with the computer whiz and bookworm traits, so I thought it suited her quite nicely.

The whole situation with Maeve got rather… sticky there for a while. When Maeve originally left my family, she was, unbeknownst to me, pregnant through a risky woohoo. When I found out, I decided to let her have the baby, thinking that I’d move it into my family and have Luca raise it, but then I decided that I *really* wanted to see a Luca/Emily kid. So this is the story line I came up with to accommodate all the changes in my plot.

However, I’m PUMPED to get on to my next generation! Kieran turned out really, really cute as a teenager, even better than I could have hoped, and Delilah and Rigby become teenagers next chapter as well. In case this wasn’t obvious, Delilah is going to be my generation 2 heir. =D

(Also, sorry for the shameless Glee insert. I was only really a Gleek for a couple of seasons, but I just love their version of that song!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

[Prologue] Chapter 12: A Study in Contrasts

Kieran and Delilah are practically inseparable these days. Her confidence seems to wear off on the normally quiet Kieran, and his humility helps keep Delilah grounded. Kieran’s careful nature balances out Delilah’s headstrong, often impulsive tendencies, while her boldness constantly pushes him out of his comfort zone. Kieran always lets Delilah pick the games, and she in turn lets him make the rules. He prefers listening and observing, while she loves to talk. And they both enjoy playing dress up and bossing around Lila’s younger siblings. Indeed, she’s the yin to his yang, the bark to his bite, the sun to his moon. They’re a perfectly matched pair in almost every way, best friends forever and then add a few more years.

But that’s not to say that they don’t get along well with the other kids at school. Delilah in particular stands out as one of the most well-liked students to ever grace the halls of Foresdell Elementary, and she thrives when surrounded by her peers.

Her best friend at school is Heidi Schmidt, daughter of the notoriously eccentric inventor Heinrich Schmidt.

Delilah and Heidi hang out with Mia Sinclair occasionally too, but Mia only ever wants to talk about scary horror movies and she always picks her scabs and chews her fingernails.

She does, however, pull funny pranks sometimes…

Rigby, of course, does not see the humor in this situation.

Lots of important girly girl things to discuss. Even at her young age, Delilah enjoys a good gossip with the gal pals.

Rigby has a best friend, too. Mason Gallagher grew up living in a cramped trailer with his largely absentee mom, but despite his lonely childhood (or perhaps because of it) the boy yearns to have a big family and lots of brothers and sisters. The McKinley household, with three kids and a toddler, is his idea of paradise, and Mason spends much of his time camped out in their living room raiding their fridge and watching their TV, desperate to get away from the searing emptiness of his own home life.

Ghost stories in the daylight aren’t quite as terrifying as Delilah had hoped, but she’s a good actress and does her best to frighten her friends.

Rigby can’t believe Kieran is actually scared. What. A. Dork.

Kieran redeems himself later by playing on the swing set with his friend. Rigby has always looked up to the older boy, and he loves it when Kieran pays attention to him instead of Delilah.

But Delilah for the most part rules the playground, and when she says jump the other kids will leap through the metaphorical hoops to make her happy.

Back at home, Oona celebrates her birthday.

And ages up into a child.

“She doesn’t look like me,” Luca comments that night after the kids have gone to bed.

Emily smiles and snuggles closer. “What do you mean? She has black hair…”

“It’s not my black hair though,” he sighs. “I can definitely see Bridget’s features when I look at her face, but I can’t see me in her at all.”

“What are you suggesting, Luc?” Emily asks gently.

Luca frowns, stroking her arm affectionately. “Nothing,” he murmurs. “Just… Nothing.”

Despite a happy family and a successful career, Luca feels… itchy. These days, his life seems safe, monotonous, and boring, and he constantly worries about his rapidly advancing age. Every time he looks at his kids, a suffocating feeling of responsibility overwhelms him, and every moment he spends with Emily Luca finds himself choking back a paralyzing fear of abandonment.

As a result, his behavior has become much more erratic recently, and he begins acting unusually... spontaneous.

“In the kitchen?” Emily laughs, trying to push him away. “But-”

“The kids are at a sleepover,” Luca whispers in her ear. “I’ve always wanted to try it…”

Emily hesitates. She’s seen how restless he is these days, and while she wants to be supportive and encouraging Luca’s pushy demeanor aggravates her to no end.

“We don’t have protection,” she tells him defiantly. “Your fantasies will have to wait until another time.”

Emily starts to walk away, but Luca grabs her around her waist.

“Come on, darling,” he persists. “We can be careful.”

Emily smiles at him faintly, loving the way his arms feel around her.

“Luca,” she groans, gently fighting away his wandering hands. “We can’t.”

“We can,” he grins.

And they do. It doesn’t take Emily long to succumb to his insistent pleas and her own desires.

Many, many times.

“Emily’s going to have a baby?!” Delilah looks inordinately worried about Kieran’s latest revelation. “But she doesn’t even have a boyfriend!”

Kieran frowns, trying to focus on his homework. He hasn’t told anybody, not even Delilah, about Luca and Emily’s “affair”, as he thinks of it, and he doesn’t want to reveal their secret now. Nevertheless, he can sense the baby growing in Emily’s belly, and he fears that Luca will send him packing as soon as he finds out.

“I wonder if she’ll leave us to go and raise the baby with its daddy,” Delilah continues. “I don’t want her to leave, though! Who is its daddy?” she asks, without pausing for a breath of air.

“I don’t know,” Kieran replies hesitantly. It’s sort of the truth, as he’s not entirely sure it belongs to Luca. Emily doesn’t even know that she’s pregnant yet, and until she finds out Kieran won’t be able to read her thoughts on the matter.

“You can’t tell anyone that I told you though,” Kieran whispers urgently. “It’s a secret, okay Lila?”

“Fine,” she pouts. “I won’t tell anyone.”

A few short weeks later, Halloween arrives in Jericho. Emily promised to take the kids trick-or-treating, but she’s been suffering from acute bouts of nausea lately and doesn’t feel up to doing much of anything today. Luca, unfortunately, has to work, so Emily decides to let them go by themselves, and after a quick group photo they are on their way.

(Costumes: Oona is a fairy princess, Kieran is a pirate, Delilah is a pop star, and Rigby is a cowboy.)

Figuring that they can cover more ground if they split up, Rigby and Oona take the northern half of the neighborhood, and Kieran and Delilah head south.

While hitting up Heidi’s house, the duo runs into a familiar face. Mia (also in costume) has plans.

Pulling Delilah aside, Mia tells her friend a “secret”.

“A haunted house?” Delilah sounds skeptical. “With a real witch?”

Mia nods. “An evil witch, whose ghost only comes out on Halloween. If you can find her secret room, she’ll even give you a ride on her broom!”

“I don’t believe you,” Delilah retorts, crossing her arms. “Everyone knows that witches don’t use brooms.”

“It’s true! My brother told me so.”

“Why don’t you go then? If you’re so brave…”

“Curfew,” Mia sings. “But you told me that your dad didn’t give you a curfew tonight…”

“I don’t know Mia. Sounds fishy.”

“You’re such a scaredy-cat,” she taunts.

“Am not!” Delilah exclaims.

“Then go! Or else I’m telling the whole school that you kissed Mason.”


Mia shrugs, undeterred by the accusation.

Hearing the commotion, Kieran comes over to see what’s going on.

“Don’t be stupid,” he replies after Delilah tells him where she’s headed. “Mia just wants to get you in trouble.”

“No I don’t!” Mia snaps.

Kieran ignores her. “You’ll get grounded for, like, ever. It’s not worth it, Lila.”

Delilah, however, has already made up her mind, and Kieran’s pleas do nothing to move her.

“You didn’t have to come,” she declares irritably as they pick their way through the overgrown trail that leads to the abandoned house. “You’ll get in trouble too, you know.”

Kieran doesn’t hesitate. “I’d rather get in trouble than see you get hurt. Anyway, you need me. To protect you.”

Delilah scowls at him but remains quiet. She does feel better knowing that he’s with her in case something goes wrong.

By the time they reach the house, the sun has long since disappeared from the horizon.

“Do you think there’s really a witch in there?” she whispers.

Kieran shrugs. “There used to be, but she doesn’t live there anymore. It’s empty now.”

“Oh.” Delilah doesn’t know whether to be happy or disappointed, but she decides to go inside anyway since they’ve come all this way.

Getting into the house is a fairly simple matter, as the front door was left slightly ajar, but getting around the cluttered and disheveled interior proves to be a much more challenging feat.

“Can we go now?!” Kieran demands. “This place is giving me a headache!”

“We have to find that room,” Delilah hisses, keeping her voice down. “I wonder where it could be?”

“Try the bookcase,” Kieran suggests.

While she realizes that her friend has special powers, Delilah doesn’t fully understand how Kieran seems to know everything about everything, but she’s never really stopped to question it before. He’s always right after all, so what does it matter in the end?

“There’s nothing here,” Delilah sighs. “It’s just a bookcase.”

“Let me try,” Kieran says.

At first, the shelf refuses to budge, but Kieran keeps trying. Soon, golden sparkles erupt from his hand, showering the bookcase in a flood of light.

Delilah’s eyes widen. “How’d you do that?” she murmurs.

“Yes, how’d you do that Kieran?”

Delilah screams and begins crying as Atticus grabs the pair and forcefully drags them out of the house.

Across town, Emily can barely control her tears. Rigby and Oona arrived home hours ago, without Kieran or Delilah.

“It’s all my fault,” she sobs. “I shouldn’t have let them go alone. I just felt so sick this afternoon, and I didn’t want them to miss out because of me, and-”

Knocking erupts from the front door, cutting her off.

“DAD!” Delilah bursts into the room and runs over to her father, throwing her arms around his neck.

“Oh thank God!” Luca cries, pulling her into a tight hug. “I was so worried about you, Lila!”

“I found them wandering around Esme’s old house,” Atticus explains, eyeing the children with displeasure. “Good thing I caught them when I did. They were trying to break into her den.”

“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!” Luca screams as he rises to his feet. “You could have DIED, Delilah! That house has been abandoned for years, and who knows what kind of dangers are hiding in there! And dragging Kieran into this mess?! You are in big trouble, young lady!”

“Dad, we’re fine…”

“I don’t need the attitude, Delilah. You owe all of us an apology, and then you are grounded. Grounded until you turn thirty.”

“That’s not fair!” she cries. “I-”

“It wasn’t her fault,” Kieran blurts out suddenly. “I made her go with me. I- I was dared by one of our classmates, and I didn’t want to seem like a coward. Delilah knew we’d get in trouble, but she thought I’d get hurt if I went alone. If anyone should get grounded, it’s me.”

Luca’s eyes harden as he listens to his speech. “I’m so disappointed in you, Kieran” he says at last. “I would never have expected this kind of behavior from you, and I’m afraid to say that if you ever, ever put my daughter in that kind of danger again you will no longer be welcome in this house. Do you understand me?”

Kieran nods, hanging his head in a vain attempt to hide his tears.

“Now go to your rooms,” Luca spits. “Both of you.”

Without saying another word, they disappear down the hall, closely followed by Emily, who gives Luca a furious glare before turning and storming away.

Not in the mood for niceties, Luca turns his frustration on Atticus.

“Why are you here?” he growls at the old mage. “You haven’t bothered with us before, so why show up now?”

Atticus fidgets awkwardly. “My daughter asked me to accompany her,” he replies impassively. “Maeve wants to see you, Luca.”

Luca feels a cold knot form in the pit of his stomach as a flurry of emotions overwhelms him. “When?” he asks breathlessly.

“Tomorrow morning. At the hotel. Should I tell her that you’ll come?”

Luca nods numbly, his heart pounding furiously in his chest. 

“Fine. She will explain everything much more clearly than I can.” And without so much as a simple goodbye, Atticus disappears just as suddenly as he came.

Luca doesn’t sleep at all that night, too focused on his meeting with Maeve to even think about closing his eyes. He goes back and forth for hours, debating with himself about whether he should even go at all, but eventually morbid curiosity and a fierce desire to see her again win out. He gets up at dawn that morning and leaves the house long before Emily and the kids are even awake. The next few hours pass by in a blur, and soon Luca finds himself standing in front of Maeve’s hotel.

The hotel manager gives him the room number, and she opens the door after his very first knock. Maeve looks older than when he last saw her, but Luca doesn’t even notice. They stand there for what feels likes hours, just staring at one another in disbelief, before Maeve finally motions for him to come inside out of the late autumn snow storm.

He’s barely taken one step into the room before they fall into each other’s arms, kissing and hugging like they’d never been apart.

Challenge Notes:

Don’t hate me! Or Luca! I really wanted to finish the scene with Maeve, but this chapter was already too long and I couldn’t find any other place to cut it off. Maybe I should put Part 1 in the title or something, but there’s more to come in my next update. If you want to judge him after that, be my guest, but I’ve worked SO hard at trying to make a likeable heir and I’d be sad to see it ruined by one kiss.

In case there is any doubt, Kieran is not wrong about Emily's pregnancy, but I’m not going to say any more than that. I don’t want to spoil anything. =) Also, yes, Luca behaved like a total jerk to Kieran there at the end, but in his defense he was very angry and very frightened and very, very upset. Admittedly, he should have taken some time to calm down before speaking with the kids, but everybody makes mistakes.

What else? Mia Sinclair is the youngest daughter of Gibson Sinclair (Luca’s pink flamingo vest friend). She has the evil trait, and that picture of her cackling while Kieran and Lila are trick-or-treating was totally autonomous and absolutely perfect. Lila’s other best friend outside of the family, Heidi, has the good trait, which I find both ironic and hilarious.