02-25 D-Day

Missy and Juan's Wedding Invitation

The big day has finally arrived and the Grey household has been up and about since dawn. The morning air is already hot and heavy with thunder rumbling in the distance…

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The old mansion is buzzing with activity, everyone is under pressure getting ready for the ceremony. Granny is solicited by everyone as nobody seems to know where their things are. But the most important is to get the future bride ready. Granny’s finally succeeded in squeezing her rather feisty sister into her French corset…

Missy holds on to the handles of the old armoire, nervously blabbering while Granny laces her corset, ‘So I’ve got something new – my wedding dress, oh… something blue – my garter…’

Missy winces, ‘I need something old… ouch… and something borrowed!’

‘Mother’s pearl earrings?’ Granny adjusts the slack in the laces, pulling hard and ties a final knot. ‘There you are. Can you breathe?’

Missy nods. ‘Hardly. But I look slimmer, don’t I?’ she pants.

‘Absolutely.’

The door bursts open on Rowan.

‘Rowan! Get out of here!’

‘But I just-‘

‘Get. Out!’

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Rowan backs out and closes the door in front of Taïga who comes running to tell them Chandra Vallari just arrived to do Missy’s hair and makeup.

‘Let me in! It’s important!’

‘Wait.’ He holds out his hand to stop her and leans closer to the door, ‘Granny! I just wanted to tell you Juan called! His car’s broken.’

They can hear muffled swearing from the other side of the door, then Granny’s voice, ‘Could you pick him up?’

Rowan lights up, ‘Sure!’

Taïga gapes, ‘I can’t believe it!?! She’s letting you take her car?’

Rowan picks her up and swirls her around.

‘Hey! You’re ruining my hair!’

‘You haven’t had it done yet!’

He runs into Peaches on his way downstairs. To her delight he picks her up and swirls her too into the air, ‘I’m taking Granny’s car to fetch Mr. Darer!’

Peaches giggles, ‘Can I come?’

‘Nope.’ He plants a kiss on her forehead and moonwalks towards the door, jiggling the keys. ‘Laters!’

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He drives with one hand on the wheel and the music turned up high. This is freedom! Oh, how he loves to drive. It seems Juan’s home is not far enough…

Rowan shudders, slowing down as he passes the ruins of Juan’s burnt down house. He pulls up in front of the old barn Juan lives in since the fire deprived him of his home and wife. Missy will probably see to it her husband builds it up again… Or razes it to the ground… He knocks on the door and Juan opens.

‘Come in, son. I’m ready, I just can’t lay hands on my shoes.’

Rowan stares at Juan. He’s shaved, all right. But what the heck is he wearing? ‘I think you’ve got the theme wrong, Mr. Darer…’

‘Oh. Do you think the color will clash with Missy’s dress? She said it was white, so that leaves me with a certain margin, huh? If only I can remember where-’

‘Hooowwdy!’

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Lucky is weaving through the weeds on unsteady legs, avoiding falling into the swamp water by a hair’s breath. He steadies his hat and concentrates on walking up the stairs. He’s arriving on foot from God knows where, but Rowan draws the conclusion that he’s probably made a stop at Merlott’s earlier this morning…

‘Walkin’ in this heat really makes ya’ thi-y-sty… Ah reckon ah’da pop over for a beer before the schermony.’ He rubs his hands briskly.

Juan lights up, ‘Sure. Come in.’ He steps aside to let Lucky pass.

‘Ah might should exactly do dat.’

‘You wanna join us?’

‘Me? Er… No. Thanks.’

Juan shrugs, ‘Suit yourself.’

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Lucky appears behind Juan clinking two foggy bottles. ‘Nuttin’ like a Bud to git back in shape after pahtying all nayeeht, hehe. Gooder than grits!’ He winks and nudges Juan, making him cough.

‘Partying? Rowan asks.

Juan looks sheepish, ‘Not really. We-’

Lucky interrupts, ‘Yep. Me an’ Art Johnson – from the trailer pahk ya know. Well, we ain’t no schtrawberry friends, oh no we ain’t. We threw a schuhprse… schuhrrrper… A pahty for Juan here. A Bachelor pahty…’ Looking smug he takes a healthy swig from his bottle, refraining from burping. ‘Huh, Juan? Gu-reatest nayeeht ever, wadenit?’

Juan looks embarrassed, glancing quickly at Rowan, ‘Yeah. But nothing special, you see-’

‘Nuttin’ schpecial!?!’ Lucky mimics. ‘You call a nayeeht with your best friends, free booze and schtreppers “Nuttin’ schpecial”?’ He almost tips over.

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‘Strippers?’ Rowan is curious.

‘No, there-’

‘Yes, siree! Schtreppers… Two of ‘em. In all mah born days, ah haven’t seen such a thing. And mister high and mayeehty here din’t seem to complain. No, Sir, he din’t say nuttin’ when dat hottie redhead with the CFM shoes wiggled her booty an’ did a little lap dance, huh Juan?’ He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively, ‘Ah told ‘em “You best not open your mouth an’ enjoy da kumpny.” Ya even asked for more, huh?’

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He nudges Juan again, spilling beer over Juan’s arm. ‘Dad burn it!! Sorry bout dat!’ He burps and tries to swipe Juan clean with his sleeve. ‘Made me think of yua Missy, hehe! But younger and fihmer and-‘

Juan interrupts, ‘Just wait outside, son. I’ll find those wretched shoes and then we’ll pick up Lucky’s outfit at his place.’ He takes Lucky’s arm and steers him inside.

‘Whooa! That just iden right! You cain’t do dat…’

‘Er… OK. I’ll wait outside. Right.’ Rowan is talking to the closed door.

He fumbles for his cell, but it must have slipped from his pocket. With a last glance through the dirty window pane at Juan and Lucky having an animated discussion, he retreats to the car. A bachelor party, no less. With strippers! Must have been a sight…

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Leaning into the car he retrieves his cell from the seat.

‘We got a situation here, Granny…’

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Granny listens. She tries hard to concentrate on what Rowan has to say, instead of getting distracted by Taïga and Frost arguing again about God knows what…

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Leonardo and Frost arrived only a half hour ago, but Taïga doesn’t seem to get along with her half-brother at all…

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‘Oh dear. Am I understanding this right? Juan hasn’t got his suit? What did you say he’s wearing? Oh my God…’

Missy sweeps past but stops in her tracks, ‘Uh-oh. I forgot…’

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‘Wait a minute, Rowan.’ Granny watches her sister with apprehension.

‘I guess I left it in the trunk.’ Missy looks remorseful, ‘I mean with all this stress with the planning and everything…’

‘You forgot Juan’s suit in the trunk?’

‘Oh. You’re talking about his suit…’

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‘Yes. His suit. And what exactly are you talking about?’

‘Er… Nothing important. Er… The suit of course. I better get upstairs, Chandra must be waiting. Oh my!’

Hastily she mounts the stairs, dripping water in her wake.

Granny covers the mouthpiece with her hand, ‘Missy! Would you please come back down here!’

Reluctantly Missy retraces her steps.

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‘Just stay away from him.’ Non sai chi hai a che fare con… (You don’t know who you’re messing with)

‘You should tell HIM that!’ Taïga looks at her half-brother smirking behind his dad’s back, ‘He totally ruined my guitar!’

‘Cara. I’ll buy you a new one if you can’t repair it.’

‘Really? And what if I can’t fix it in time for the ceremony!?!’

Cara. I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm.’

‘Don’t “cara” me! I’m not my mother!’

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Rowan can hear muffled screaming in the background… So his dad has arrived, apparently with his little brother. It will be fun meeting him at last…

‘Papà! Lei mi spaventa! (She scares me!)

‘‘Figlio mio, calmati. Per favore, calmati. Dimmi, qualcosa bolle in pentola… (Tell me, you are up to something…)

Granny gesticulates, brandishing the phone, ‘And how are we supposed to handle all this!?!’

Missy glares back at her sister. She knows how to handle this all right. Just give me my wand and I’ll fix everything! But she keeps her thoughts to herself, letting Granny continue her ranting.

‘We’re going from bad to worse! And we only have 3 hours left until the ceremony…’

Yes. My wand… and I’ll fix it Cinderella style! Missy imagines herself walking down the aisle in tiny glass shoes, the crowd oh-ing and ah-ing at her sparkling appearance…

Granny waves in front of her face, snapping her out of her thoughts. ‘Missy! Are you sure you’re not hiding something else from me!?!’

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Rowan listens absentmindedly to the hollering, he’s lucky to have escaped from that madhouse if only for a short while. He tries to open the trunk, to see if the suit is there, but it seems to be stuck. He pulls hard on the old handle and the trunk springs open.

‘WTF?’

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There’s a wedding cake in the depths of the old car. Or rather it was a wedding cake.

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Rowan shuts the trunk.

‘Granny? Can you hear me?… There something else you should probably know about.’

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‘What do you mean, a “cake”???’

‘Uh-oh.’ Missy hides her head in her hands. She didn’t want to tell Granny about the cake in the trunk, but of course sneaky Rowan had to open the darn thing! She grimaces into her hands.

True to his word, Lucky came up with a wedding cake. But when Missy saw it she just knew they couldn’t let that wreck of a cake throne on the table of honor without people talking about it for years to come. So she stopped the car and used magic on it. Just a little, only to make it look like something the guests would like to eat… But there was too much sparkling, she just had to hide it for a little while or Granny would have thrown a fit.

There’s surely no harm in wanting to do good? And it would have been such a blast to see the effect of the cake on the non-witches who tasted it… Phyllis Arrington has already tested and aside from having a good laugh at her guests, they didn’t die or anything… But of course Granny won’t let me have fun at my own wedding…

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‘Lucky? … Uh-huh… Uh-huh…’

Missy peeks through her fingers. For each “uh-huh”, Granny’s face grows a little bit grimmer.

If I only could take my wand and fix all this… But I can’t, because my stupid sister has hidden it!

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‘Just bring him here and we’ll fix it with some magic…’

Aha… She finally sees reason. Missy smiles to herself. Everything will work out for the best with a little magic. Humming happily she starts mounting the stairs. But wait! Missy stops as a second thought hits her, ‘Granny! Juan can’t come here! He’s not supposed to see me before the wedding!’

Granny hangs up. ‘The dress, Missy. He’s not supposed to see the dress.’

‘But-’

‘Listen, Missy.’ Granny massages her front, a sure sign she’s tired, ‘Juan is dressed for Carnival, Lucky is drunk or hung-over or both and the cake I thought was in the fridge is decaying in the trunk of my car. Someone has cut the strings on Taïga’s guitar, we still have no idea of the number of guests coming and the party tent with all the tables and chairs were supposed to be delivered last night!!!’

‘You forgot the rain.’

Granny stares at her sister.

‘It’s not raining. Er… outside. It’s good. Isn’t it?’

Granny just shakes her head, her sister is unbelievable. ‘Go and let Chandra make you beautiful. I’ll deal with the… the rest…’

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Lucky lies snoring in the backseat the whole way back to Bayou Oaks. Granny’s waiting for them, arms crossed, her mouth a fine line of disapproval. Lucky doesn’t even have the decency to look guilty when he stumbles out of the car, a huge grin on his face. But he doesn’t protest when after sending him upstairs to shower, she makes him drink cup after cup of black strong coffee…

Missy is letting Chandra put on the final touches of her bridal make-up, listening to her chatting to Peaches who just came in with a report about Lucky. So her make-up is done, fixing her hair won’t take that long. Or will it? Missy can’t help herself, she just has to see with her own eyes if it’s as bad as Peaches says.

‘Just a second.’ She rises and hurries downstairs to the kitchen. ‘Holy Mary mother of God…Do you think we’ll get him in shape in time for the ceremony?’

Missy is distraught by Juan slumped against the kitchen counter. She thinks he looks a little tired but handsome, in a bohemian kind of way – barefoot and already with a light stubble. She wiggles her fingers timidly at him.

Granny eyes her sister, ‘Missy, aren’t you supposed to get ready – Chandra won’t have time to fix your hair!’

‘But will he be in shape?’

‘Oh yes. He will.’ Granny says in a determined low voice.

Missy doubts it, ‘Only a miracle will get him up and running. Or a little ma-’

Leonardo interrupts, ‘There’s a truck outside. I told Rowan and Buddy to help the men unload. Oh, and it’s raining-’

Missy and Granny are already on their way out. Leonardo lances behind his back before leaving the kitchen, ‘Better get some more coffee into Mr. Perkins!’

He bumps into Chandra Vallari, ‘Signorina Vallari? What a pleasure to meet you. Have you seen my son, Frost?’ He takes her elbow and steers her away from the kitchen…

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Rowan and Bud have helped unloading the truck, and are already starting to carry the tables to the backyard. Taïga scurries past on her way to the treehouse, muttering about the bad weather and Frost, but Rowan and Bud just laughs at her, making her even more irritated.

‘Hey! Wait!’ Rowan calls after her, but she stomps off through the rain, her guitar in one hand, new strings in the other.

‘Go and see if you can help her, I’ll fix this.’ Bud offers.

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Larry Jenkins have unloaded the last heavy crates filled with crockery and, hopefully, the décorations, in the drizzling rain. He hands a couple of chairs to Buddy and jumps down from the truck, slamming the heavy door shut.

‘That should be all. You just need to sign here, Mrs. Grey.’

Granny signs and looks around her. ‘Where is the tent?’

‘What tent?’

Granny can feel all the pent up tension bubbling up, ‘The party tent, Mr. Jenkins. To protect the wedding guest against the improbability of a rainstorm! Your wife promised me it would be delivered yesterday!’

‘Oh, sure. But something important came up.’

‘Important? What could be more important than delivering the tent for a wedding reception? You do realize we only have a couple of hours to set everything up! Do you? Do you?’

She waves her finger under his nose making him back and almost fall over a box filled with balloons.

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‘It’s only a thunderstorm, it’ll soon be over. I can stay and give you a hand to set things up.’

Granny spins around so quickly she slips in the mud.

A firm hand steadies her, ‘I’m Arthur Moon. Pleased to meet you, ma’am.’

Granny shakes his hand, gazing into twinkling brown eyes and suddenly all her anger vanishes and is replaced by an acute awareness of her wet clothes and ruined hair. ‘Granny – I mean Tara. Grey.’

Self-consciously she pushes back a wet lock. Arthur Moon’s eyes don’t leave hers, a smile twitching at the corner of his mouth. Is he laughing at her? How rude!

Missy tugs at her arm, ‘So. All this is good, but just standing here gazing into each other’s eyes won’t put those tables in place!’

She pulls at her sister’s arm and drags her away. ‘Thank you Mr. Moon!’

‘Arthur!’ he calls after them, ‘Call me Arthur!’

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‘It’s funny really!’

Granny can’t see anything amusing about anything right now, she stomps through the puddles, each footstep sending a sprayer of water and mud into her shoes and up her legs.

Missy continues, not caring about her sister’s grim expression, She’s so grumpy again nowadays anyway… ‘We’ve lived next to that charming gentleman for several years now, and still we’ve never met him. Before today I mean…’

She struggles to keep up with her sister, ‘Don’t you believe in destiny? He was walking his dog, you see and Ruff seems to know Valkyria is in heat and-’

‘How convenient!’ Granny snaps.

Missy leans towards her sister, ‘I’ve been thinking.’

‘Really?’ Granny adds with a hint of irony.

‘Yes. I think Juan should wear a hat!’

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‘A hat?’

‘Yes. But not just any hat! A top hat to go with his suit.’

Granny stops and turns towards her sister, ‘Missy. I’m too tired to do more magic. I’m sure Juan won’t mind not having a hat.’

‘I know you’re tired, that’s why I thought you could give me my wand back, so I could fix it myself…’

Missy looks hopefully at Granny, who sighs heavily. She doesn’t want to argue with her sister on her big day, but she doesn’t want to let her loose with a wand either…

‘Missy… Juan doesn’t know what you are – and mind you, it must stay that way! And there are the exchange students, and Chandra Vallari who mustn’t suspect anyth-’

Vallari’s angry voice interrupts them,‘Get your filthy hands off me!’

The sisters look at each other, ‘I think Lucky is alive and kicking…’

Chandra appears on the landing, ‘There you are, Miss Grey. There’s no way I’m cutting Mr. Perkins’ beard while he’s groping me! I’m here to get you ready for the wedding, Miss… It would be a good start if you stayed in the same room for more than five minutes!’

She stares at Missy. ‘Oh no. The make-up is ruined. I have to start all over again.’ Tut-tutting she ushers Missy into the bedroom.

‘Just think about it! Tell me where it is and-‘ Chandra closes the door on them, relieving Granny from answering.

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She retraces her steps and locks herself in the study.

A hat. A top hat, no less… I’ll fix one before Lucky lends him his headgear… and then I’ll just rest a while…

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Taïga has found refuge in the old treehouse. The raindrops cascades down, crashing on the tin roof so she has to concentrate hard to tune her guitar.

‘Is it OK if I come up?’ She can hear Rowan mounting the old ladder.

She sighs. ‘You’re already on your way, aren’t you?’

‘Affirmative!’ The ladder creaks and he eases onto the small landing. ‘I didn’t remember it was so small.’

‘We were smaller too!’

‘You’re right…’ He sighs. ’I’m sorry.’

‘OK.’ Taïga puts away her guitar. ‘What is it?’

‘Nothing.’

‘C’mon. I know you, Rowan. Spit it out.’

‘It’s Granny…’

Taïga shudders. The wind rustles the leaves and suddenly it feels cold up here in the tree.

Rowan glances quickly at his sister. ‘She… I don’t know how to put it… She’s not like she used to be.’

Taïga acquiesces but asks nonetheless, ‘What do you mean – not the same?’

Rowan fiddles with a leaf, ‘How long has it been since you last saw her use her wand? Or make an elixir?’

Taïga racks her brain, ‘She sent me an elixir at APYR?’

‘It was from her stock.’

‘Well, I wasn’t here after all – six months is a long time. Let me see… It must have been at Christmas, when we used the palantír together.’

‘Yeah, I remember. You were glowing!’

‘You saw me!’

‘Of course I did. Don’t you remember you sent me off to bed?’

They both smile at the memory.

‘Those were the good days, huh. I wouldn’t try that again if I were you!’

‘Using the palantír?’

‘Nah! Sending me off to bed!’ Rowan grins, ‘Well, last time I saw her use magic was when I had drunk the potion that made me grow, it was this spring in April. She “dressed” me… a little like she did with Juan this morning but-’

‘She dressed Juan?’

‘No. Not exactly.’ Rowan laughs at Taïga’s chocked expression, ‘He didn’t have his suit…’ He archs an eyebrow, ‘Don’t tell me you haven’t seen him?’

Taïga shakes her head.

‘Whatever. Missy forgot to pay for it or something like that, so Granny just “fixed” it,’ he makes a gesture of swirling an imagined wand, ‘and “voilà!”. Where have you been this morning?’

‘Oh. Getting prepared, stupid. Do you think these flowers just fell in place?’ she touches her hair, ‘And I’ve had that brat Frost getting in my way since he got here!’

Rowan snorts, ‘The thing is, Granny’s totally exhausted. Missy told me she almost fainted.’

‘I thought she just had a headache…’

‘I think she’s ill, sis. Doing magic drains her…’

Taïga knows he’s right, she’s been so self-centered since her return, not noticing her grandmother might not be feeling well. ‘So what can we do?’

‘I don’t know. I guess we have to talk to her once this circus’s over…’

‘Taïïïga! Rooooowan! Where are you!?!’

‘Hush… it’s Frost. Be quiet so he goes away…’

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After being so terribly ill when he was a baby, Frost sure seems to be fine now, getting in the way of everyone. Looking for his siblings takes him to the attic where the locked door in the corner draws his attention.

Why is it locked?

He starts rummaging through just about everything, finally finding a rusty key under some dusty, smelly things that looks suspiciously like rat tails, on a shelf. He jumps down from the pile of old books, slowly turning the key in his hands. The door in the corner seems to beckon him to use it…

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Frost peeks inside the dimly lit room.

Wow

Rows upon rows of potions are meticulously aligned on the shelves. He picks one up, his touch making it glow.

Cavolo!

He rapidly picks up bottle after bottle, shaking them or just turning them. Backing away a few paces he admires his work.

Hmmm. Let’s see what’s in there.

He goes through the drawers, pulling out interesting pouches – some smell and some are just filled with old dust. He shakes them thoroughly before dumping them on the floor.

He finds a rather large box looking like a treasure chest in the old cupboard. It’s also locked, but with magic. Frost pulls it out onto the floor and squats in front of it. It doesn’t take long before the lock springs open and a very curious Frost starts picking up the things inside. He quickly discards an oval green leathery rock, some mysterious looking black stones, a strange lamp and a pouch containing red berries -probably rosary peas- some evil smelling white snakeroot and an impressing amount of wolfsbane…

There’s also an ugly doll with needles. At least he knows what that is, and slowly he draws out the long pins only to viciously stab them in the head. At the fourth attempt, the doll slumps, making Frost smile. It was connected to someone after all. I hope it was Taïga!

He picks up the last item in the chest, a futuristic looking bullhorn.

What could it be?

He turns the surprisingly light object in his hands, listening. It rattles as if something is unscrewed inside. Frantically he shakes it upside down, making a small object fall to the floor. He reaches for it when a voice interrupts him.

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‘There you are Frost! Everybody’s looking for you, naughty boy. You shouldn’t be here, it’s Granny’s private place.’

Muttering Frost gets to his feet, ‘Stupida vecchia Strega, non strisciare su di me come quello!’ (Stupid old witch, don’t creep up on me like that!)

‘In English, please.’

Frost blinks innocently, ‘If it is Granny’s place, why are you here?’

‘I came to look for something… But it’s not your business anyway.’ Missy looks down at him, frowning. ‘What are you hiding behind your back?’

Frost hesitates.

‘Show me!’ She holds out her hand and grudgingly Frost gives her his treasure.

Missy just stares, gaping. Now this wasn’t expected… ‘Can you keep a secret, Frost…’

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Taïga takes one last look in the mirror and humming softly to herself goes downstairs. She stops in her tracks when she realizes someone’s waiting.

Loki! What is he doing here? And discussing with that little twerp…

Frost sees her a fraction of a second before Loki does, and she finds herself staring into a demon’s red eyes.

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‘Ah, there you are!’ Loki stands up to greet her.

Frost holds her gaze, his hand making a slow cutting throat gesture. Taïga gasps, quickly looking away. Loki is standing in front of her, reaching for her hand. She steps down into his embrace, letting him tenderly kiss her on the mouth.

‘God. You’re beautiful…’

She holds on to him, but when she glances back at Frost, he’s innocently stroking Minuit’s back, huge grey eyes watching them. Taïga frowns. Did she really see Frost’s eyes gleaming red? Or is it because she dislikes him so much? She won’t let that spoilt brat prevent her from having fun! “Having Fun?” Granny tells her often enough she deserves to smile, and darn it! Tonight she will at least try! For Granny’s sake. And Missy’s. And maybe a little bit for herself… She gazes up into Loki’s smiling face.

‘I didn’t expect you.’

He takes her hand and kisses the knuckles, ‘I wanted to show you something. Come!’

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He almost dances around her, making Taïga giggle. His enthusiasm is contagious.

‘Where is it?’

‘Wait. You have to close your eyes.’

Taïga does as he says, letting him steer her through the mess in front of the house. The ground is slippery but the rain has finally stopped and she can feel the sunrays warming her bare skin.

‘Are you ready?’ he murmurs in her ear.

‘Yes…’

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He uncovers her eyes, ‘Do you like it?’

Taïga stares at the gleaming red sports car. ‘Wow! Is it yours?’

‘Uh-huh. It’s a present from dad – to compensate leaving Twin Towns I guess.’

He pulls her closer and she looks up at him. ‘Does that mean-?’

‘-that I got my driver’s licence? Yep!’

She hugs him hard, ‘I’m so happy for you!’

He takes her wrists in his hands, kissing her palms. ‘It also means more freedom… for us.’

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With a gallant gesture, he opens the door for her, ‘Would you do me the honor to let me drive you to the wedding, Milady?’

Taïga closes her eyes, pain searing through her at the memory of Derek calling her Milady to tease her…

She musters up a smile and tries to slide elegantly into the car. ‘I guess I have to work on this, huh?’

‘You’re perfect. But, yeah. I guess it isn’t easy in heels and a long dress…’

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‘Abbiamo dovuto lasciare prima la sposa e i taxi sono presto qui. (We have to leave before the bride and the taxis are soon here.)

‘Sì, papa. Ma ho voglia di guidare! (But I want to drive!)

‘Potrai andare con me e Frost, nessuna discussione! Juan e Lucky prende il taxi secondo e Missy seguirà la limousine con Granny. È chiaro? (You’ll ride with me and Frost, no discussion! Juan and Lucky will take the second taxi and Missy will follow in the limousine with Granny. Is it clear?)

‘Sì, papa. But-‘

‘Andare a cambiarmi la camicia!(Now go and change your shirt!)

Rowan shuffles off, grumbling to himself about abusive parents…

Leonardo directs his attention towards Buddy, ‘I want you to call me if there’s a problem. Any problem, do you understand? Do not disturb Granny…’

‘Is that you Rowan?’ Granny peeks out the door to the bathroom, hair curlers all over her head. ‘Thank God you haven’t left yet! Taïga forgot her guitar, and I wondered if you’d mind taking it when you drive Juan and Lucky into town? They’ve both had a tad too much to drink yesterday and I don’t trust Juan with my car…’

Rowan lights up. ‘I’ll just put on some dry clothes and I’m off!’

‘Thanks, Rowan. Don’t forget the groom and his bestman! And make sure to stop if needed, I don’t want Lucky to throw up in my car…’

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The last clouds have dissipated and the sky is a perfect blue when they arrive into town. Father Satterfield is surprised to hear about the bad weather in the Bayou this morning – it was probably only a local thunderstorm, as Fairview’s been spared…

The whole town seems to have decided to come, and Granny has presented her grandchildren to friends from all over the Simlish world.

Granny worries about their supplies. What if there won’t be enough to eat and drink back at the manor? She’s also concerned about Lucky, he’s standing and walking, but doesn’t seem to feel good in the heat.

‘I warn you. Don’t steer up a mess,’ she hisses when he offers her his arm as the last guests find their seating.

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Rowan passes his hands in his hair for the umpteenth time. He shouldn’t had let Chandra change his hairstyle…

‘Stop that.’ He glares at Taïga who glares back and strums her guitar. An expectant silence spreads over the assembly. She catches Granny’s eye and starts playing the chorus from Wagner’s Lohengrin; “Here Comes the Bride”.

Heads turn, everyone’s eager to catch a first glimpse of the bride, and their eyes follow Missy walking down the aisle to the tune of the acoustic guitar. Granny frowns at Lucky who anxiously pulls at his tie, finally taking it off and slipping it into his pocket as they walk towards the weeding arch, taking up their places to the left of Father Satterfield. Missy and Juan are preceded by Frost, who solemnly carries the rings on a silk cushion, and Erin Simmingway who energetically throws flowers on the audience from her little basket.

Granny smiles. There will be a shortage of petals before they arrive at destination… Furtively, she dries a tear. Her little sister is getting married. Never would she have thought- She does a double take.

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What the hell!?!

Beaming, Missy progresses down the aisle at her future husband’s arm, nodding graciously to her left and right, stopping to shake hands. But what’s drawing Granny’s attention is not the atypical behavior of the bride, but the large pendant, ominously gleaming on Missy’s opulent neckline.

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Medusa’s tear! She’s dared taking Medusa’s tear. And worse. She’s wearing it! Granny starts to sweat. How on earth did she open that chest!?! Granny had changed hiding places regularly, throwing powerful spells to mask it from Hecate. Finally she concealed the pendant in the alien contraption Missy kept from their adventure in Midnight Falls, hoping the extraterrestrial metal would hide it from Hecate’s view, and so far it had. And now my sister’s strolling around with it around her neck. Her eyes dart over the audience – maybe she’s already here. OMG. What was my stupid sister thinking!?!

*See Part I – Chapter 38:1-2

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The officiant, Father Satterfield, looks out over the audience and smiles benignly, ‘Friends, we have been invited here today to share with Juan and Melissa a very important moment in their lives…’

The priest drones on for a while about the importance of love and understanding. He ends with, ‘To spoil the ceremony, I have to ask if anyone has any reason these two shouldn’t be married.’ He looks expectantly at the congregation, ‘Well, if you do, please make your way quietly to the exit.’

The audience laughs politely.

Happy about his pun, the officiant continues, ‘Who gives this woman to this man?’

Granny answers, ‘She gives herself, but with her family’s blessing.’

Father Satterfield nods and turns a page in his bible, ‘Juan, will you have Melissa to be your lawful wedded wife?’

‘I will.’

‘Melissa. Will you have Juan to be your lawful wedded husband?’

‘I will.’

He beckons Frost to bring forward the rings.

‘Let us all enjoy a moment of music and prayer while I bless the rings.’

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Taïga is already seated at the piano. She’s nervous, she mustn’t disappoint Granny and Missy. She swallows and displays her fingers on the keys. Closing her eyes, she hums softly to herself before starting acapella on the lyrics to a song she’s written herself.

“You walked with me

Footprints in the sand

And helped me understand

Where I’m going

 

You walked with me

When I was all alone

With so much unknown

Along the way

 

Then I heard you say…

 

I promise you

I’m always there…”

Leona Lewis – Footprints in the Sand

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‘But I’ve got an appointment with Karlie Goldberg! Just check your goddamned register!’

Kenye Washington is furious. It’s Saturday, and he always has Swedish massage at 7th Heaven Spa to relieve his nervous tension on Saturdays. And now this incompetent girl at the reception tells him it’s been cancelled.

Poor Leah Miller has started this job only a few days ago. Anxiously she skims the register, all the while trying to explain to the furious man that the venue has been hired for a wedding…

‘Sir… We’ve left you a voicemail reporting your session to next week.’

‘You don’t seem to understand, young lady. I haven’t driven all the way from the fucking City to this goddamned place to be turned away!’

‘Sir, there’s a wedding but I’m sure we can find an arrangement-’

Kenye silences her with his hand, ‘Shush!’

‘Shall we maintain your appointment next week, Sir?’

He frowns, listening hard. ‘Yeah. Sure. Whatever.’

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He strides past the young receptionist, following the sound of a piano.

‘Wait, Sir! It’s a private party.’

But Kenye doesn’t care, there no way anyone could stop him from finding out who’s singing outside…

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He pushes the French windows open and is overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the song.

“I promise you

I’m always there

When your heart is filled with sorrow and despair…”

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The young girl at the piano seems oblivious of the effect her soulful voice has on the audience, she’s lost in her music. Quietly he slips onto the closest bench while all the time carefully studying the girl. She’s spectacular but seems to be young, probably underage. That means he has to negotiate with her dad…

“I promise you

Oh, I’m always there

When your heart is filled with sadness and despair

I’ll carry you

When you need a friend…”

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‘Who is she?’ He whispers to the woman next to him.

‘Taïga Grey, the bride’s niece.’ she whispers back.

The girl’s voice lifts higher, brighter, giving him goosebumps all over.

‘Where are her parents?’

‘Dead.’

‘Oh. Well. Her guardian, then?’

‘It’s the matron of honor, over there.’

A stern looking man in front of them turns around and makes an irritated sign for them to be quiet.

Kenye mouths ‘Thank you,’ to the helpful lady before leaning back and closing his eyes, isolating the melodious voice from the image of the raven haired beauty at the piano.

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Taïga’s voice washes over him, drowning him in emotions he thought he’d never feel.

So much sorrow and pain in that voice… it feels like the sound is coming from the bottom of her soul… I must have her! We’ll make a fortune… I wonder if she can sing something more hardcore, something to mix in the clubs Downtown…

Taïga hums to the last notes of the song, and there’s a complete silence before everyone starts applauding. She blushes and stands up, curtsying quickly before scurrying back to her place.

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Frost holds solemnly forward the cushion with the rings to Missy.

She doesn’t hesitate, threading the ring onto Juan’s finger, ‘From this day forward, I promise to love, honor, clean up after, cook for and put down the toilet seat after until death do us part…’

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Seth Waugh laughs out loud, but that doesn’t faze Missy who continues, ‘I will make sure your lucky shirt is washed for Friday Nights, and I will have plenty of Buds an’ Nacho Cheese Curls on hand. I will comfort you when the Fairview Werewolves loses and drink beer with you when they win. I will remember this day and cook your favorite meal.’

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‘I, Juan, do take you, Missy, as my bride. Er… I promise to try to remember to put down the toilet seat and even to replace the toilet roll when it finishes. I reckon as long as you bring me my Bud things will be fine…’ He fumbles with the ring, ‘… and I promise I will try to eat your cooking as long as you don’t make me look at it first.’

Juan beams and wipes his forehead. Missy clears her throat. Still beaming, Juan nods towards the audience. Missy nudges him lightly.

‘Oh. Er… I promise to remember this day with love and your favorite flowers. Indeed I will.’

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For once, Father Satterfield is a t a loss for words, ‘Ahem… Well, that about summons it all. I therefore pronounce you husband and wife.’

Father Satterfield makes the sign of the cross and closes his bible.

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‘And you may kiss the bride…’

Grimacing, Erin throws the last petals at the couple, ‘Yuk! That’s totally gross!’

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Kenye catches up with Granny just before she’s about to get into a taxi.

‘Mrs. Grey? Could you spare me a minute?’

Granny hesitates, ‘Go ahead girls! Tell the driver to wait.’ She returns her attention to Kenye, ‘Yes?’

‘I’m Kenye Washington,’ he fishes out a card from his pocket and hands it to Granny, ‘I’m a talent scout for ISR – IndieSim Records. Our company is very interested in your granddaughter.’

‘My granddaughter?’ Granny scrutinizes the card.

‘Yes. Taïga. I just heard her sing, and quite frankly – she’s star material…’ He looks expectantly at Granny who coolly returns his regard.

‘I think she’s a little too young. She’s got to finish High School and go to college first.’

Kenye’s face drops. Usually it’s the dads who are difficult. ‘Just promise me you’ll think about it, Ma’am.’

‘I will.’ She nods goodbye and gets into the taxi. Linn and Taïga giggles over a text, ‘Who was that, Granny?’

‘Nobody important… Just someone who was looking for something well out of reach…’

Part II – End of Chapter 25

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