Dear Diary, no matter how I try to hang on to time, it slides by anyway. Days turn into weeks, children get bigger and I more times than not, step on every Lego missed during clean up.
Look at these two goofballs. Those faces get them out of so much trouble! Well, when I’m in charge anyway. Susan and Xalen aren’t such pushovers.
The twins still have matching mannerisms and it still freaks me out as they move in unison. It makes me wonder what it’s like to have a twin. Are they all as in time with each other as this pair?
While their movements are often in time with each other, they couldn’t look more different from one another. Holden’s skin is like porcelain, his features fine, his cheeks plump and rosy.
Rosetta, on the other hand, is slightly darker in skin tone and she has all that rich, brown hair that shines with red in the sun. The deeper colors bring out the blue in her eyes.
I’m sure both of these children are going to be heartbreakers some day.
They’re starting to speak more, putting words into sentences. It’s fun to finally hear what they are thinking. Xalen and I don’t use baby talk with them, so they speak quite clearly for such little kids.
One funny thing about them is that they seem to have their own language they use when addressing one another. It’s just one more of those freaky things they share.
“Whew! When was the last time anyone cleaned this fridge out?” Susan exclaimed from the kitchen. “Yuck!”
I’ll readily admit I’m not the housekeeping type. Susan has “domestic engineer” stamped on her forehead but I just can’t be bothered. (Much to her dismay.)
Don’t get me wrong, even though she excels at it, Susan’s ambition is not to be a housewife with children running all over. Before she joined me here in Alpine County, she was a freelance photographer. After the heartache of what she went through with her previous boyfriend Victor, she hadn’t accepted any assignments.
“Tea?” I asked, already knowing the answer as I filled the kettle with water and put it on the burner.
Susan put the twins down for their nap and was back just in time to join me at the breakfast counter with some Earl Gray. Drinking tea reminded us both of breezy mornings in Winchester, sitting at the table with momma and our two other sisters. Daddy and the boys took their tea earlier and by the time we sat down with ours, they were already working in the fields.
“Do you ever get homesick?” Susan asked as if reading my mind.
I shrugged a little, pretending I wasn’t longing for home in the least. It was easier for me to dismiss how I felt about it than to get all wistful like Susan often did. More times than not, I wouldn’t allow myself to walk down memory lane… I didn’t like how that yearning for homemade bread, loud mornings and down to earth chores tugged at my heart.
“Sometimes I wish I could go back. Life was so much simpler.”
“Was it, though?” I asked, stirring my tea. “I mean seems like the problems are all the same it’s just the scenery has changed.”
She seemed lost in thought for a little bit as she sipped the steaming liquid from her cup.
Was this a door opening?
Hesitantly, I ventured out. “Listen, Sis, I want to talk to you – I’ve wanted to for a while now, but I didn’t want to upset you.”
Her eyes grew huge and she put a hand over her heart. “Do you want me to move out? I know we haven’t really talked about how long I was going to stay. I – I’ve tried to be a help to you but I understand if I’ve overstayed my welcome.”
“What? No! When I said you could stay here, I didn’t have any type of conditions for that in mind. You can stay as long as you want. In fact, you have no idea how lonely I was before you got here. I was literally wallowing in self-pity because I was stuck here alone in a job I hated.”
“Oh,” she said softly. I had a feeling then, she knew what direction I was headed.
“I don’t know how to say this without upsetting you and that’s the last thing I want to do.”
“Don’t start on me, Marty. I’ve seen you and Xalen watching my every move.”
So, she did know. I tried to take her hand but she pulled away before I could. “I think we should be able to talk about this.”
“You’re just like everyone else, judging me. Why can’t you all just leave me alone?”
Tears filled my eyes and I bit my lower lip. “Because we love you.”
I was certain our conversation had ended before it began. Instead, Susan blurted out everything she was feeling in one big gasp. “Apparently, Victor didn’t love me. I thought he was the one. And before him, I thought Theo was the one. Why doesn’t anyone want me? I try so hard to be perfect! I try so hard to be what people want!”
Wiping stray tears away, I said, “I just want you to be you! If you have to bend and change for anyone, they aren’t worth being with! You are important, Susan! You’re worth so much more than you realize! You’re worth more than a hundred Victors or Theos put together!”
How did we get to this point? What happened in her life that made her feel so inferior and unwanted?
When she didn’t respond, I turned my face away, trying to dry the tears that kept falling. How badly I wished I could wave a magic wand and make everything right for my baby sister.
“Do you know why Theo broke off your engagement?”
“He never told me why. He loved me one minute and then the next… ” her words caught in her throat before trailing off altogether.
“At Grandpa’s Christmas party, he told me he’s gay. It wasn’t right for him not to tell you that but that is the reason.”
“What?” she gasped.
“He couldn’t admit it to himself. He thought getting married and having kids was expected of him but in the end, he couldn’t do it.”
Nodding, I continued, “Momma told me that Victor had a brother with an eating disorder. She was under the impression he cared enough about you to let your family know what you were struggling with. At the same time, what he went through already was so taxing on him, he couldn’t go through it again.”
Susan sobbed and wiped her eyes with a napkin. “I thought he brought me to Winchester to propose to me. It hurt so bad, Marty. I feel so betrayed by him.”
“I know you do,” I said softly, in the tenderest voice I could manage. After a moment, I dared to ask, “Do you have an eating disorder?”
She paused for so long, I didn’t think would answer me. I stared at my tea wondering if I should have said something different. What if this was the only opening I would ever have and I blew it?
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as she took a sip of her tea, then placed the cup back in the saucer with a small clink.
“It’s cold,” she murmured.
“-Don’t say anything else.” With shaky hands, she pushed her cup away. “I know I have a problem with food. I can’t ignore it anymore. But I don’t know what to do either. All I know is, I don’t want to feel this way anymore.”
Her admission took me completely by surprise but it was the moment I was hoping for.
“I found a clinic that specializes in eating disorders and it’s right in the city, not too far. We could call and make an appointment.”
Frowning, she said, “I don’t know.”
“I will be with you every step of the way, whatever that is.”
After a moment, she nodded and I reached for the phone.
Once again, time got the better of me. Susan was able to be treated by a doctor at the clinic on an outpatient basis. Through the clinic, she also received counseling and monitoring by a nutritionist.
Susan was by no means “cured” but she was learning how to cope with her problems and change her habits. It was hard work and I was proud of her.
I was still intent on reaching my goal of physical perfection and had taken up a class called “Mommy and Me Yoga.” At first, the twins just ran around climbing on things they shouldn’t which rendered it pointless. When Susan decided to join me, the kids magically behaved themselves and actually got into the class.
We enjoyed practicing at home, too. I was more flexible than Susan because I’d always exercised, but she was catching up quickly.
“Hey! How come your sister is helping your mommy and you’re making it harder for me?” Susan laughed when Holden climbed onto her back and sat on her feet.
He threw his hands in the air and squealed, “I fly! I fly!” Then he made airplane sounds.
I tried to regain my concentration and not laugh. It was hard.
“That’s right, Rosetta, hold me up!” I brightly cheered.
“I strong!” she yelled to her brother.
“I fly!” he triumphantly shouted back.
“All right, Monsters!” I said, standing up and pulling Holden off of Susan so she could stand, too. “It’s almost time for lunch!”
“Yay!” they squealed in unison.
As the kids chattered amongst themselves in that made up language only they knew, I turned my attention to my sister.
“What?” she asked.
“I’m sorry, it’s hard not to stare. You look so healthy.”
She blushed prettily and tried to make little of it. “It’s no big deal.”
“Are you kidding? I’m so proud of you, I could burst! This is a huge deal!” Smiling, I could see she was embarrassed so I tried to tone down my enthusiasm. “I’ve seen what a struggle this has been and I just wanted you to know how proud I am of you.”
“Okay, okay,” she laughed. “Can we stop talking about it now? Please?”
I laughed, too. “Okay, but I have a favor to ask.” Her right eyebrow went up and I took that as a sign to continue. “The Neptune Foundation is having a fundraiser night where all of our patrons will come to see as Xalen dedicates a statue to the Sprague Collection.”
“Oh, when is this? You need me to babysit?”
I shook my head. “No, no. I want you to go with me. I want you to see the collection and what I do. Besides, Xalen will be busy schmoozing all night and I need someone to hang out with.”
“I’ll get to see the mansion!” she exclaimed.
“Better than that! We’ll be bringing the twins with us and spending the night.”
I smiled as Susan clapped her hands together in awe. “It’s a black tie affair, so we’ll need to do some shopping.”
“Oh my! I cannot wait, Marty!”
I had never told Susan about The Inheritance as that would have been met with strong disapproval from the secret society. As far as she knew, I worked for the Neptune Foundation, translating from old relics and helping to restore antiquities.
And that was a partial truth as I did do those things for the Neptune Foundation. I tried not to feel bad that I had kept so much from my sister. I told myself it was okay that she didn’t know because she would never believe in the paranormal anyway.
The night of the fundraiser, Susan was a wreck. She closeted herself away in her suite of rooms to get ready so I brought the children into the nursery and watched as they played.
They were in their comfy jammies and would be going to bed soon. Someone Xalen trusted had been brought in to care for them during the night because we expected to be busy with foundation business.
“Have you thought any more about moving here with the children?” he said from behind me, startling me.
“It’s a difficult decision,” I sighed, turning to face him. “I’ve grown to really like my house. This place is so big… it doesn’t feel like it could be home.”
“Home is who you are with, Marty. It is not the building itself.”
He was right, of course. And we’d had this discussion many times since giving birth to the babies. It didn’t make sense for him to move into my house since it took him so far away from his work. Emergencies seemed to pop up all the time causing the team to travel with only moments’ notice. No, he had to be here.
The only other option was for us to move into the mansion.
“Where are my manners?” he suddenly said, a small smile curling the corners of his mouth. “You take my breath away with your loveliness.”
He had a way with words but he couldn’t change the subject for long. Still, I returned the compliment. “And you are handsome as ever.”
Looking into his eyes, my heart melted and any reservation I had about living in this cavernous house left me.
As his arms snaked around my waist, I held him close to me, breathing in the familiar scent of mint and soap.
“I love you, Xalen, and I hate living away from you. It isn’t right for our family to be apart.”
“I was hoping you would say that,” he said softly, his lips meeting mine in a gentle kiss.
Taking my hand, he led me across the room, then he dropped to one knee. I never expected to be proposed to so this took me by complete surprise.
“I was hoping it would be more romantic,” he said after I told him I would be his wife, “but this seemed the right time.”
And it was.
As he whispered in my ear sweet promises of devotion, my heart soared.
Tears of happiness dampened my cheeks.
This important moment had occurred amongst strewn toys and garish pink walls. In front of our children.
And it was perfect.
As I went to find Susan in her rooms, I felt as if I was walking on air. Sure, my feet were already killing me in those darn high heeled shoes, but nothing – and I mean nothing – could spoil the pure bliss I felt at the moment.
“Come in,” Susan called when I knocked on her door.
Upon entering, my breath caught in my throat because standing before me was the loveliest creature I’d ever laid eyes upon.
My assessment must have been written all over my face because she finally smiled a little and said, “So you approve?”
“You look absolutely stunning!”
Of course, I’d planned on telling her about my engagement, however, all I could do was stare at her in admiration. I could tell her tomorrow. Tonight, I decided, belonged to my sister.
The guests hadn’t arrived yet and I found Xalen and Owen talking in the hall where the Sprague Collection was on display.
Shelly wouldn’t be here for this fundraiser as she was still in Saltwell. She was staying with Eric Paris and they were putting his wife Viv to rest… for good.
Entering the next room where the statue being dedicated was, I decided to see if Susan was alone and bored. Stopping in my tracks, I realized Susan would definitely not be bored or alone tonight.
It seemed she had run into Daniel Knight. Stifling a giggle, I moved further behind the statue, hoping I hadn’t spoiled their moment.
Susan was standing demurely as Daniel spoke. He was clearly trying to impress her. Then he said something I couldn’t hear, she blushed and smiled which made her appear all the more delectable.
Oh how I wished I could hear their words. But then, this really was none of my business. As Susan and Daniel became lost in each others’ eyes, I tiptoed out of the room.
Author’s Note: I made a family tree! So far, it only chronicles the heirs and their families, but I hope to include others in the future. Also, any pages that didn’t have to do with one of my stories was moved from the menu above to the footer down below. Don’t forget to check them out as there is a lot of useful info there. 🙂