Warnings: Netiquette violations: language and adult situations
Further warnings: If you are a Rachel Quest fan read no further - delete now.
Disclaimer: See Prologue.
We are making small talk when Armand La Croix enters the room. He is tall and slim like his spouse. Both of them have porcelain skin and jet black hair with dark brown eyes. I stand up from the chair I am sitting in, the back of which faces the doorway.
Armand La Croix cries, "Mina, my angel, my dearest, darling, little angel---and what is this? You are with child!"
As I hug Grand-père La Croix, this statement causes the same stares that Madame La Croix had already received. Armand La Croix shakes hands first with Race and then with Benton, saying, "You, Sir, are the baby's father." With that, he pulls my husband into a friendly embrace.
Suddenly, we hear a man's voice loud voice. "Chantalle, there was no one at the door to receive us!" The storm enters the room. He is larger and more muscular than Race with ravens wings black hair, black piercing eyes, and porcelain skin. The woman who follows him into the room is just as strikingly beautiful as Madame La Croix.
Well, this must be serious if it's enough to draw Tiberius Harkness away from his kingdom in Charleston, South Carolina. Life is about to become very unpleasant. I can't help biting my lip.
I'm not sure whose reaction I have more to fear. Grandfather Harkness is sure to voice his displeasure over my marriage to Benton. Benton will not think much about what Grandfather Harkness has to say about our marriage. I'm no longer biting my lip. I have started chewing on a fingernail.
I position myself between the newcomers and Benton. There is going to be Hell to pay. I'm just very unsure of which direction it will come from. The storm rumbles, "Wilhelmina, you disappointment me. To think that you are even consorting with a human! And to make matters worse---it is a Yankee one at that. How could you compound the mistake by allowing it to impregnate you? I order you to rid yourself of the abomination you are carrying and terminate your relationship with this piece of trash at once."
I don't have to see Benton to know that he is now standing. One hundred and seventy-five pounds of cold indignant pride and fury. "Sir, I must ask you to apologize at once."
"This is family business Benton, I will handle it." The words are harsher than I had intended them to be. I stand my ground between the two of them. "Grandfather Harkness, it is a pleasure to see you too."
"Does he know what you are? Does he even suspect what you are? You've never told him have you Wilhelmina? Well, if you haven't told him then perhaps I should tell him?" I hate it when Grandfather Harkness sounds so smug, as if he has all the answers.
The color drains from my face, but I turn around to face Benton. "I'm a cauldron stirring, broomstick riding, spell casting witch, born from a long line of witches. That's with a W and not a B, Bannon. The La Croixes are my maternal grandparents and these are my fraternal grandparents."
Benton stands up and turns his back on me, but not before I see the crushing anguish in his eyes. Harsh male laughter echoes around the room. "You cannot change what you are; foolish child! To think that one of them would love you after finding out what you are?"
I'm afraid I know what Benton Quest is thinking. He is thinking of how I have never trusted him enough to tell him my family secrets. How I have answered his total honesty with something less. Could other thoughts, such as the thought of me casting a spell on him to make him fall in love with me be racing through his mind? Is it possible that I could have done something like that? If he asks me can I answer him truthfully? Will he believe me when I say no?
A strong female voice speaks. "Enough, Tiberius. Wilhelmina, child come give me a hug."
Tiberius Harkness rumbles on saying. "He has rejected you, although he calls himself open minded. See how easily he dismisses you. He will always be suspicious of everything you do and everything you say. How can he possibly trust you now? Well Wilhelmina, I think you have taken care of ending this relationship."
Grandfather is correct about one thing. How can he possibly trust me now? It isn't what I am; it is what I have done. I have repaid his truth and his honesty with dishonesty and half-truths. Benton sits back down, but he is sitting with such stiff formality, body language screaming his displeasure.
Agatha Harkness introduces herself and her spouse to Race Bannon and Benton Quest. "Do you also practice Vodun?" Race asks to break the overwhelming silence that has fallen over the room.
Tiberius Harkness roars with laughter, "Good heavens no! I am a warlock! What use do I have for Vodun?"
I find that my legs will no longer support me---I keep seeing the haunted, anguished look in Benton's eyes. I sink into one of the chairs, and ask why the Harknesses have come. My Grandmother Agatha explains that Chantalle had contacted them asking for their help in dealing with the Borok.
"Then who is the Borok that is causing so much trouble?" I ask.
This time Armand La Croix answers. "Your sister Angelique is the one who is causing all of this trouble."
Grandmother Harkness suggests that the perhaps the Quest Team should return to our hotel; it has been a disturbing day. Tomorrow will be soon enough to continue our discussions. I kiss all of my grandparents good-bye, even Grandfather Harkness.
Race retrieves the boys and Bandit from the kitchen. Both boys shyly say good-bye to Denise. They stand prepared to bolt should she come within arm's length of either one of them.
I walk around to the passenger side of the van. Race shrugs his massive shoulders and climbs into the driver's seat. Benton is sitting in the front passenger seat staring out the window. I settle onto the rear seat.
On the way back to the hotel Jonny asks me if I really had pretended to be a ghost haunting the Lafayette Cemetery one summer. Numbly I answer, "Yes."
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