Monthly Archives: August 2015

Chapter Forty Seven : Born This Way

When Andalie finally went into labor, she asked Zara to take her to the hospital. Unsurprisingly, Zara was less than enthusiastic.

Zara: Do you really think I’m the right person for this?

Andalie: I think you’re the worst person for this! But you’re my only option, Z. Please? You know I can’t ask Shae, and I’m not pulling Emmeline out of school on her last day.

Zara sighed. She truly wanted to be a good, supportive sister – and she had wished for this after all. If this was her sacrifice for the legacy, so be it. Compared to the responsibility Andalie shouldered, this was small potatoes. She mentally thanked her mother for not naming her the heir, and went to get her jacket.

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As Andalie readied herself for the delivery, she was perturbed to find that her doctor was decidedly not her sister-in-law. Isla had promised to deliver the baby, but she was nowhere in sight. The on-call doctor explained that there had “extenuating circumstances,” and Andalie was still wondering what the could mean when the nurse walked into the room.

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Shae’s jaw dropped to the floor, his face suddenly pale.

Shae: Andalie! Uh, you didn’t tell me you were coming!

Andalie gritted her teeth as the procedure began.

Andalie: Just do your job, Shae. Nobody expects you to be a doting father or anything, okay?

Shae visibly relaxed and Andalie rolled her eyes.

Meanwhile, Zara paced frantically in the hallway. What were they doing to Andalie? Was her sister okay? Who was that strange doctor? Where was Isla? Did she just see Shae walk in there? Was the baby okay? The suspense was killing her, and without hesitation, she did something she never thought possible – she walked into the delivery room. Voluntarily.

Zara: Andalie? Are you ok?

Andalie: Zara!? What the…? What are you doing in here?!

Zara walked over and grabbed her sister’s hand, her grip firm and reassuring.

Zara: I guess I just couldn’t stand the thought of you going through this alone. So….here I am.

And so, with a little help from the most unlikely source, the first member of the fourth Hasslich generation was born.

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Happy birthday, Sylvie Hasslich!

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When the sisters returned from the hospital, Zara surprised Andalie once again.

Zara: You rest, Andalie. I’ll take Sylvie upstairs….you know, she’s actually kinda cute….

Zara disappeared into the house, cuddling the newborn in her arms. Not a minute later Andalie heard a deafening screech from the second floor – and it wasn’t the baby.

Zara: Ewwwwww!!!! ANDALIE! She pooped!!! She POOPED!

Andalie laughed out loud, and started to make her way inside, when she felt an almost imperceptible tap on her shoulder.

Andalie turned, and faced her mother.

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Seraphina: Congratulations, honey! I knew you could do it!

Andalie: Thanks, mom. But there’s still work to be done, and to be honest, I’m worried I won’t find a man to make a spare….

Seraphina: You’ll be fine, Andalie. Just stick to your plan.

With that, Seraphina dissolved into thin air, leaving Andalie with nothing to do but head inside and rescue Zara from changing a dirty diaper.

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Chapter Twenty Three : Don’t Stop Believing

The somber days following Grainna’s death were a stark contrast to the bright, cheerful festivities of the prior week.

Esmeralda lost herself in books.

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Seraphina found comfort in physical activity.

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And Clarissa let her natural black hair grow back, telling her sisters that she somehow felt closer to her mother this way.

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Grainna had told them not to mourn her, and they did their best to keep their spirits high. But of course, they struggled. Esmeralda felt robbed of a final goodbye and Clarissa postponed her wedding, unable to accept that her mother wouldn’t be there to witness her vows or give her away.

But as the days went by and the initial rawness of grief began to fade, Seraphina remained quiet and withdrawn from her sisters.

She was content in knowing that her mother was at peace, and that wherever they were, her parents were finally together. But Seraphina could not shake the ever-growing fear that she would fail to fulfill her duty as heir. She spent long hours at her mother’s grave, praying to the Watcher for a miracle.

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Esmeralda and Clarissa were at a loss. They could see that their sister was buckling under the pressure. They worried about Seraphina’s emotional state, but they were also concerned for the future of the legacy. If Seraphina didn’t snap out of this soon, Grainna’s dream of an enduring Hasslich legacy would be all but forgotten.

Over breakfast one morning, the sisters decided it was time for them to intervene – and as usual, Esmeralda had something up her sleeve. She shared the idea with Clarissa, and it was agreed. They called Seraphina into the kitchen.

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Clarissa: We want to throw a party!

Seraphina: Okay……?

Esmeralda: Good, I’m glad you like the idea. Because it’s a party for you.

Seraphina: But it’s not my birthday yet!

Esmeralda: It’s not a birthday party – although that wouldn’t be a bad ruse – YES! We’ll say it’s a birthday party, but of course that isn’t really the point….

Seraphina: Esme? What the plum are you two talking about?

Esmeralda: Okay. Don’t get mad, but here’s the thing – we’re only inviting men. You know……potential.

Seraphina paled and Esmeralda winked at her animatedly.

Seraphina: But I’m HOPELESS!!!! I don’t know how to talk to men! I’m basically a full grown adult and I haven’t had my first woohoo, let alone a boyfriend or a kiss…. Or even a date!!!

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Clarissa laughed, and Seraphina stared at her in terror.

Clarissa: Breathe! Okay? You’re not in this alone. Esmeralda and I will be there the whole time. Mom said we should work together to support you as the heir, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. You may be the heir, but the responsibility is all of ours.

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And so, Esmeralda went to work. She made a few calls, and the details were settled in a matter of minutes.

They bought a small stereo and sent out invitations to the most eligible donors – ahem, bachelors – they knew. And then, all there was left to do was wait.

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The big night was upon them in the blink of an eye. At 7:00 on the dot, the guests began to arrive. Seraphina’s old friend Ruben turned up, along with Dina Caliente’s younger son Ron. There was Alexander Goth, Eduardo Schaffer (the good-looking redhead Clarissa had met at the gym), and even Maximus Rhodes. Seraphina was also pleased to see that her brother Roy showed up, just to offer his moral support.

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Seraphina was nervous. She didn’t know where to start, who to talk to, how to approach. She barely knew any of these guys. The only one she knew at all was Maximus Rhodes – and so even though he’d rejected her before, she figured it would be easier to start with someone she already knew than to start from scratch with a complete stranger.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go any better this time around than they did before. Maximus was not only completely uninterested, but apparently she had managed to put her foot in her mouth yet again. She had no idea what she’d done wrong this time, but something must have set him off because now he was yelling at her and mocking her outfit. Embarrassed and disappointed, Seraphina decided it was best not to push things with him. She was feeling deflated, having been rejected again, and she wanted nothing more than to retreat upstairs to the safety and privacy of her bedroom.

Let the party go on without me.

But her sisters – true to their word – left no time for that. There was no time to dwell – a dance party had erupted in the living room, and Clarissa drug her right into the midst of it.

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All around her, people were cutting loose and having a good time, but Seraphina just couldn’t seem to catch the spirit. She was completely out of her element.

And then she saw it. The familiar figure of her mother, right in the middle of the action. Even in the afterlife, Grainna couldn’t resist a party, the company of other people. Seraphina stared at her open-mouthed.

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She wanted nothing more than to run straight to her mother – tell her everything, ask for advice and reassurance – but no one else seemed to see her there. Seraphina would look like a crazy person talking to herself, and she knew that could only hurt her already slim chances of attracting a mate tonight.

But when Grainna looked up and held her daughter’s gaze from across the room, Seraphina rallied. She felt her spine straighten and her resolve strengthen. It was enough just to know that Grainna was there. And suddenly, for the first time since she her mother’s death, Seraphina felt capable of anything.

And so she jumped right in.

She introduced herself to Ron Caliente, and then moved on to some small talk with Alexander Goth.

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And then she said hello to Eduardo Schaffer – and much to her surprise, Eduardo was more than receptive.

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They decided to head outside, to talk away from the crowd and the noise. And in an unusually brave and confident moment, Seraphina gathered her courage and made her move.

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It didn’t take much after that, and soon……

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Seraphina smiled to herself. She could do this. She was GOING to do this. And she was going to make her mother proud.

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Chapter Twenty Three : One More Day

The Hasslich house erupted into excitement at the news of Clarissa’s engagement. With the Landgrabb fortune as funding, the wedding would be a fancy and expensive affair. Esmeralda and Seraphina were asked to be bridesmaids, and Malcolm would serve as best man. With Grainna getting older each day, Clarissa and Roy decided to have the wedding as soon as possible, and planned the event for just two weeks out.

For days, the house was bursting with sheer joy.

The girls spent hours on wedding planning:

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Geoffrey showed his excitement and support in his own ghostly way.

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And the family celebrated as Esmeralda became a young adult.

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With the house in such chaos, no one noticed that Seraphina had been unusually quiet and withdrawn.

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For Seraphina, the news of her sister’s engagement was not quite as simple as bouquets and color schemes. The old playground chorus seemed to be on permanent repeat in her head:

First comes love,
Then comes marriage,
Then comes the baby in the baby carriage…

It wasn’t that Seraphina particularly wanted love or marriage – she truly liked being alone and pouring her energy into her art – but with her younger sister settling down, she could see her own future hurtling toward her at a startling pace. She was only days from her next birthday – from becoming a full-fledged adult – and she hadn’t so much as scouted for potential fathers. Now, with her newly renovated home and her finances in order, Seraphina was ready to make a baby.

She called up an old acquaintance, Maximus Rhodes, and asked him to come by the house. She hadn’t seen him in a long time, and they were by no means friends, but he had red hair and beautiful green eyes, and also happened to me the only male she actually knew.

They chatted on the front porch and at first things were going well.

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But every time she tried to flirt, she just seemed to make things awkward.

These pick-up lines I researched on the internet are completely inadequate! (or maybe it’s user error?)

She tried and tried again, to no avail.

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She was completely mortified. She tried to recover, but the situation was beyond repair. Seraphina realized she hadn’t the slightest clue how to approach men or create romance – she’d never even been on a date before! How was she supposed to produce an heir when she could barely say hello to a man?

Her embarrassment tripled as she saw her mother coming up the walk on her way home from work. Grainna had always made this look so easy! What if Grainna regretted choosing her as the heir?! The thought of her mother witnessing this epic failure sent a jolt of panic through her. She turned on her heel to flee, desperate to hide from everyone, when she saw that Grainna was trying to get her attention.

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Seraphina hesitated, sensing that something was not quite right. And as she watched Grainna gingerly lower herself to the ground, reality suddenly set in. Seraphina ran to her mother’s side, and Clarissa, alerted by the commotion, followed at her heels. Mercifully, Esmeralda was still at school and would be spared these painful last moments.

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Grainna: It’s going to be okay, my darlings. My life has been more wonderful than I ever could have asked for. You girls are my dream come true.

Seraphina: Mom! No – don’t give up! I’m calling the hospital – you can’t leave me! I can’t do it without you! You picked the wrong heir!

Grainna: I picked the perfect heir, Seraphina. I know you will make me proud. Now don’t be sad or mourn me long – I’m going to be with Geoffrey and I’ll be happy wherever we wind up. I will never truly leave you – I’ll be by your side always, even if you can’t see me.

Grainna echoed the words Geoffrey had once spoken to her, because she knew now that death was nothing but a new beginning.

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Her last words faded into nothingness she took a final look at her daughters – the physical manifestation of her legacy – before allowing her eyes to flutter closed. Perfectly at peace, Grainna relaxed her body and let the Reaper take her away.

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Rest in Peace, Grainna.

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Chapter Twenty Two : Change My Way of Living

Generation Two begins. Here is Seraphina in CAS.

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Seraphina hadn’t been lying when she said she was excited to carry on the Hasslich legacy – but if she was going to do this, she decided she was going to to it her way. So she approached her mother to discuss a few changes.

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Seraphina: Mom, I don’t want you to think I’m not excited about this, because I am. But before I start producing possible heirs, I want to create a more stable home environment. I need to save more money and I want to completely renovate the house. Not that I don’t love this house, but I want my children to grow up with more than I had. I don’t want them to have to share a bed or sleep on the couch, and if I can afford it I want them to have their own rooms. If I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to need a house that’s big enough that I can get some peace and quiet every once in awhile.

Grainna agreed. She knew her daughters’ childhoods had been a little rough, but that was the price she paid for starting a legacy. Now they had the opportunity to make life better for the next generation, and Grainna supported Seraphina’s plan completely.

So Grainna retired from her low-paying artist job and dedicated herself to selling her paintings. Seraphina, with her aspiration to become a renowned painter, had spent her teenage years at the easel, and by now she was actually very talented. She knew she could make more money selling her paintings than she could at a traditional job, and so and mother and daughter worked tirelessly, side by side until their savings account began to grow. It turned out that they were both quite marketable, and before they knew it, they had enough money saved to put Seraphina’s plan into action.

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It certainly wasn’t a mansion, but it was a huge step up for the Hasslich family, who now had three separate bedrooms and three bathrooms. They didn’t quite have enough to furnish all of the rooms, but that would come in time.

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After the big heir announcement, Clarissa had immediately shared the good news with Roy. They had been dating ever since and things had been going along swimmingly. With the knowledge of Roy’s unconditional love, Clarissa had ditched the frilly pink dress and had even taken up eating cake again. Roy had been adamant that she change her hair back to her natural black, but Clarissa decided that she kind of liked it and resolved to keep it just a little bit longer. Much to her surprise, Clarissa realized that she actually had developed a passion for fitness. It was the one part of her makeover that had remained a part of her everyday life. All in all, Clarissa had never been happier.

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And so, when Roy called and invited her for a weekend getaway in Granite Falls, Clarissa jumped at the chance.

Roy’s family certainly didn’t hurt for money, and so he rented a luxurious lakehouse for the two of them, where they enjoyed being alone together in the outdoors.

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On their last day of vacation, Roy asked Clarissa to go for a long romantic hike in the woods. Being that she was all athletic and outdoorsy now, she agreed.

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Eventually they reached a beautiful, secluded alcove, riddled with waterfalls and gorgeous vegetation. They walked over to get a better view and took a picture to commemorate the moment.

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Clarissa looked away to put her camera back in her backpack. When she turned back around, what she saw brought tears to her eyes.

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And of course, without hesitation or a second thought, she said yes.

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Chapter Forty Six : Time to Grow

As she entered her second trimester, and her belly began to expand, Andalie felt the first pangs of anxiety. She prayed that the baby would be a girl – not because she wouldn’t love a son equally, but because the debacle with Nash had left her doubting the likelihood of a second pregnancy. If she kept scaring men away the way she did Nash, then this baby just might be her only shot at an heir…

Fortunately, the pregnancy passed quickly and without complication, and as the days went by, Andalie found herself spending more and more time in her garden.

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It turned out that her passion for growing things didn’t end with plants – and in fact, Andalie genuinely enjoyed being pregnant. She found many similarities between gardening and pregnancy, and often talked to her baby the same way she talked to her plants – offering encouragement and support to keep them growing healthy and strong.

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Gardening provided a distraction from her worries, and Andalie found happiness in the routine of it each day. But she had another reason for spending so much time among the herbs and flowers.

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Every single morning, Nash went for a run that brought him down her street. And every single morning, Andalie watched him from afar, safely hidden by the trees in her garden.

And each time she saw his handsome face, she felt the weight of her regret grow heavier on her heart.

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Andalie wasn’t the only Hasslich sister with romance on the brain, and one afternoon after school let out, Emmeline’s study partner came to visit.

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Emmeline: Thanks for helping me with that science project, Enrique. You’re just so smart!

She battered her eyelashes at him. That purple skin of his was intoxicating!

Enrique: Anytime, Emmeline! I’m more than happy to help…

Ron’s advice had made quite an impact on his daughter, and Emmeline decided that if she couldn’t be the heir, she would be an astronaut. And bookworm that she was, she had already devoured every single science book the library had to offer.

So Emmeline didn’t actually need Enrique’s help, but that was beside the point.

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Emmeline: I want to be an astronaut someday, so I’m going to need all the help I can get! We should probably study together every day, don’t you think?

Enrique: I didn’t know you were so interested in space! You always talk about your paintings, I thought you’d want to be an artist.

Emmeline: Well, I do! I’m going to be a successful astronaut AND paint masterpieces in my spare time!

Enrique looked impressed, and that was all that Emmeline needed to go on.

Emmeline: See, the thing is, my family is a legacy family. I really wanted to be the heir but my older sister got it instead. I was pretty plummed at first, but I can still be important to my family in other ways. Before my mom died, she painted beautiful portraits of all of us, and now the torch has been passed to me. It’s my responsibility to document the next generation.

Enrique: Well, I have to say… I’m glad you’re not the heir. I’ve heard about your family – and if you were the heir, then we couldn’t….

He paused, looking at his feet. Emmeline prodded him, nudging him to make a move.

Emmeline: We couldn’t what, Enrique?

Enrique: We couldn’t…. well… this

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Maybe this spare business wasn’t so bad after all!

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Andalie had overheard her little sister’s conversation from the kitchen. She smiled to herself, happy to know that Emmeline was moving on, finding a purpose, and that she had found a way to feel important to the legacy.

But Emmeline’s budding romance only reminded her of Nash and the love that was missing from her own life.

Feeling lonely, Andalie descended the stairs all the way down to the Hall of Founders. She didn’t quite know how this was supposed to work, so she took a seat and closed her eyes, and waited for Seraphina or Grainna to appear.

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She waited and waited, but no one came. Maybe it was the wrong time of day? Did it only work at night? Or maybe she was doing it wrong. Should she be talking out loud? She figured it was worth a try.

Andalie: So, if you’re there – are you there, Mom? Okay well I don’t know if you’re there or not, but I’m here and I feel lonely. I like this guy, you know – I think I might even love him, actually – but I blew it. And now I want him back, and I want him to father my next child. But I guess – well, it wouldn’t matter anyway, would it? What if this baby is a boy? If I actually got Nash back then he would be my last shot at an heir, and if I had another boy, then the legacy would go to Zara or Emmeline. And Zara doesn’t want it, of course, and Emmeline has finally moved on – how could I saddle her with this now, just when she’s finally found happiness? And even if this baby is a girl, I still would need a spare! So really, even if I got Nash back now, it would be completely pointless. I mean, what am I thinking? I can’t be with anyone, not even Nash…. At least not yet

Andalie’s eyes flew open. She had an idea. She had come here because she wanted direction, someone to tell her what to do. But it turned out, she didn’t need her mother – or anyone else, for that matter – to tell her what to do.

Andalie had her own answer – And now, she had a plan.

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Chapter Forty Five : Naked As We Came

Andalie was more than disappointed by the way things ended with Nash, but after talking it over with her sisters, she realized it was for the best. Her personal connection to him was too intense, and he was too kind of a guy for her to not get attached. And as the heir, her focus had to be on the legacy and the legacy alone. Andalie couldn’t afford to be distracted by the first pretty face that came along.

And so when Andalie picked up the phone to call potential baby daddy número dos, she chose someone she had no emotional connection to at all.

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Shae Bales was handsome, with attractive features that could be passed on to her baby, and that was all Andalie needed to know.

A little flirting, a little banter…

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And before she could think twice, she was inviting him into her bed…

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Shea definitely had a good time, and wasn’t shy about saying so. Although Andalie was not too worried about impressing him, she had never woohoo’ed before and was very happy to hear that Shea was completely satisfied.

He was ready for round two, and gave her a come-hither look…

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But Andalie couldn’t wait to take the pregnancy test – the possibility of a pregnancy, and an eligible heir, was just too exciting to resist the temptation.

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The little pink plus sign appeared, and Andalie laughed hysterically, unable to contain her emotion (and her relief). She jumped up and ran to tell Shae…who probably could’ve taken it better. Andalie could have sworn his hair turned gray right before her eyes!

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But it made no difference to Andalie, who assured him that she would take sole responsibility for the child. Thankful for his baby-producing services, she invited him to make himself at home while she ran to the town pharmacy for pre-natal vitamins. 

Shae happily took her up on her offer, and when Zara returned from her new job as Live Chat Support Agent, he was still hanging around in the kitchen.

Zara: I’m sorry – who are you?

Shae: Oh, ah – I’m a friend of Andalie’s. But the real question is… Who are you?

He winked at her, and Zara cringed. She didn’t have to be told to know exactly what kind of “friend” he was to Andalie.

Zara felt him staring as she prepared her dinner. When she turned, he smiled flirtatiously.

I don’t have time for this, she thought.

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Zara: You’re just not my type, buddy. Ok?

Shae: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to stare – it’s just that you don’t look anything like Andalie or your cousin Martina!

Zara shot him a sidelong glance.

Zara: How do you know Martina?

Shae: Ah, well – Martina and I sort of have a thing going on…

Zara: A THING? So what the plum are you doing with my sister?!

Shae: Giving her a baby, actually. I know how important that is to your family so, ah… If you could just be thankful for that and not mention this to Martina…?

Zara: FAT CHANCE! Get out of my house, will you?

She picked up her phone and dialed Martina’s number. She eyed Shae as it rang.

Zara: I don’t suspect you’ll be hearing from Martina OR Andalie anytime soon.

Zara stomped out to the back porch to call her cousin, and Shae scrambled to reach the front door – but a flash of bright blue made him stop in his tracks.

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Emmeline, nose in a book, had come out of the shower and straight to kitchen without so much as looking up. Shae coughed, and Emmeline screeched, running for cover.

Shae smirked as he headed for the front door. These Hasslich women were just throwing themselves at him!

But Zara’s voice, frightening in it’s ferocity, boomed from somewhere that Shae couldn’t quite identify.

Zara: GET OUT!!!!!!! She’s a TEENAGER, you PERVERT! GET THE PLUM OOOOOOUUUUUTTTT!!!!

Shae scurried – How did she DO that?

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Chapter Forty Four : Wishes

In the aftermath of Seraphina’s death, the Hasslich household crumbled into chaos. Appliances broke, dirty dishes went unwashed, and even Andalie’s precious garden began to wither. For days, Andalie and her sisters co-existed under the ever-present shadow of grief.

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And when Zara’s birthday rolled around a few days later, no one but Zara remembered. She baked her own cake and made a wish, blowing out the candles in the kitchen alone. Much to her surprise, Zara found that she truly didn’t mind – she wasn’t much in the mood to celebrate anyway, and besides – she was an adult now, and it was time for her to act like one.

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Zara wished for the happiness of her sisters. She wished for a baby girl for Andalie and for Emmeline to find her life’s purpose. She wished peace for her mother, and health for her nephews, whose company she was sure to enjoy – just as soon as they became teenagers. She even wished for a knight in shining armor to sweep her cousin Martina off her feet.

Zara thought maybe she was getting a little carried away – surely she was asking too much. But then again, there had to be a perk to celebrating her birthday alone – maybe extra birthday wishes was it. So in the end, Zara’s final birthday wish was one for herself. She wished for someone to love, someone to spend her life with – a princess charming all her own.

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Yet, despite Zara’s heartfelt wishes, the sisters continued to flounder, unsure of how to proceed in the wake of their mother’s death.

But time waits for no sim, and Andalie had knew she hadn’t a moment to spare. She gathered her strength and suppressed her grief, and resolved herself to the task at hand. Dedicated as she was, Andalie had always prioritized the legacy above all things, and that included her own feelings of sadness and loss. She was determined to make her mother proud, and to fulfill the destiny for which she was meant.

Andalie consulted her little black book, and immediately decided that Nash Champion would make a wonderful baby daddy. Of all the men Andalie had met over the years, Nash was the only one she had already kissed, and the only one to make her weak in the knees.

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Their chemistry had been palpable, and Andalie was sure that the attraction would be just as strong all these years later.

Even so, Andalie was surprised by the eagerness with which Nash accepted her invitation. He arrived within minutes and was already feeling flirtatious – but as Andalie worked hard to turn on the charm, Nash’s mood quickly turned serious.

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Nash: Andalie, are you okay? I’m no rocket scientist, but I can tell you’re not yourself – what’s wrong?

Andalie sighed.

Andalie: My mom just died. I was trying to be upbeat – I didn’t realize I was doing such a plummy job of it!

Nash: How about you just relax? Let me take care of you, okay?

He sat Andalie down on the couch, tucked a blanket around her shoulders, and switched on the TV. He handed her the remote before disappearing to fix her a cup of tea.

Andalie was confused. Here she was, ready to jump into bed with the guy, and he decides to make tea instead? Had she really imagined the attraction? Had she made it up in her head? But he’d kissed her! Andalie fumed – she was a HASSLICH HEIR! How dare he pity kiss her!

Nash called out to her from the kitchen.

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Nash: Where do you keep your toolbox, Andalie? I noticed your shower is broken….

Andalie didn’t respond. She felt humiliated, and angry. She heard him turn off the sink.

Nash: Andalie? Are you okay?

Andalie rounded on him.

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Andalie: How could you? I can’t believe I actually liked you! You were the first one I called and you come over here just to avoid me?! To treat me like some charity case?! Well, I have news for you! I don’t need your pity, you SCUM!

Nash: What are you talking about? The first WHATt? I just wanted to help you, for crying out loud! This place is falling apart! I wash your dishes and clean your house and you YELL at me? What is wrong with you?

Andalie: You’re what’s wrong with me! You came over here for a date, not to clean the plummy dishes!

Nash: Do you really think I’m the kind of guy to take advantage of a girl when they’re vulnerable? I did like you, Andalie, and I don’t go around pity kissing people, for your information! But if that’s what you think of me, then I’m out of here!

He stormed out of the house, leaving the toolbox open on the living room floor.

Andalie felt numb. Her extreme mood swings had always been a problem, but she had gone too far this time. It was just too much! Her mother’s death and the pressure to produce an heir! And now she’d gone and lashed out at the worst possible time – not only had she ruined a friendship, but she’d destroyed her chances with her number one choice for a baby daddy.

Andalie cried, angry with herself now instead of with Nash, and wished she could somehow take back the ugly things she’d said to him, wished she could start over. Andalie wished for lots of things, but right now, more than ever, she wished her mother was here to tell her what to do.

Over the next two days, Andalie wallowed, dwelling over the incident, regretting her deplorable behavior, until finally, Emmeline said something revolutionary!

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Emmeline : Uh, why don’t you just go and apologize?

Andalie had never thought of that! She jumped up and ran upstairs to change, taking a extra minute to fix her hair and apply her favorite lipstick. If ever there was a time for primping, this was it.

She dashed out the door and straight to Nash’s house. No answer. She checked the gym, the library, and the pub, but Nash was nowhere to be found. But Andalie had one last idea – she remembered that Nash had said he liked to go running in the park. When she arrived, she spotted him easily.

But Nash wasn’t out for a run.

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Andalie was too late. She had wasted her opportunity – and Nash had already moved on.

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Chapter Forty Three : The Art of Letting Go

Emmeline wanted to be mature – really, she did. But her dreams had been dashed and she couldn’t hide her disappointment. After the announcement, Zara followed her up the stairs, and though Emmeline knew her sister meant well, she shooed her away. Emmeline just wanted to be alone.

Unfortunately, Ron had no intention of leaving his daughter alone in her heartache. He approached her carefully, not wanting to scare her, but Emmeline was used to living in a haunted house by now.

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Emmeline: Hey, Dad. I was wondering when you’d pop in.

Ron: I needed to make sure you were okay, sweetie. I know how much you wanted to be the heir. But this is actually a good thing, you know?

Emmeline turned on him.

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Emmeline: HOW is this a good thing?! It’s all I ever wanted, and crazy pants Andalie gets to be the heir and I’m just the stupid spare!!!!

Emmeline’s temper flared. She’d known it was only a matter of time until the anger hit, but she was glad she had held it together long enough to offer Andalie her congratulations. In the end, she did want to be a good sister. Still, it felt good to vent to her father.

Ron: I know you don’t understand this yet, but now that you’re not the heir, you get to live your life freely. You don’t see what a blessing that is right now, but it’s a luxury your mother never had. That’s why I didn’t get to meet her until we were older, and why our time together was so short. But you – Emmeline, you can do whatever you want with your life. You can fall in love, or not fall in love, have children, or not have children. You can travel the world, become an astronaut, or a writer – your fate is up to you. I know you wanted to be the heir – but you are so young and there will be so many other things in life you’ll want to do. And because you’re not the heir, you’ll actually be able to do them.

Emmeline softened.

Emmeline: I really never thought of it that way, but I guess that’s kinda true. It still stings, though, Dad. I don’t know whether to be sad or pissed off. I don’t know if I want to stay in bed for a week or kick the trashcan!

Ron: Just try not to let it ruin your relationship with your sisters, okay? Maybe try meditation or something. Nothing good will come of lashing out at the people who love you.

Ron disappeared, content to know he’s been able to help his daughter in some way. Emmeline sighed. She knew her dad was right, but she could already feel the rage bubbling up inside her again.

Maybe Ron was right! Emmeline was feeling better already.

————————————————————————————–

The next morning, Emmeline found herself in the Hall of Founders once again. Meditation was the only thing keeping her from lashing out Andalie or her mother. But just as she reached a state of true relaxation, she was interrupted by a deep voice, booming in the room above her.

Emmeline rushed upstairs.

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Seraphina: Don’t cry, Emmie, it’s going to be okay, I promise!

Emmeline called for help and heard heavy, frantic footsteps as her sisters came running.

Andalie fell to her knees before the Reaper, begging for just a few more days with her mother.

Andalie: Please, no! Not yet! I’m not ready, we still need her! Just a little more time!

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But it was useless. Seraphina’s time had come. The time for final goodbyes was now.

Seraphina: I love you girls so much more than you know. Don’t worry about me – and don’t miss me too much! You’ll be seeing me around! Now, take care of one another. The legacy is a group effort…

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The girls gathered around as their mother prepared to cross over.

Zara dried her tears and sat beside her mother, holding her hand. Seraphina had always been strong for them, and now it was time for her to be strong for Seraphina.

Seraphina: Don’t forget how important you are –

She was looking straight at Emmeline.

Seraphina: All of you.

And then, with the Reaper, she was gone.

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————————————————————————————–

Rest in Peace, Seraphina Hasslich
. You will be missed.

gjk

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Chapter Twenty One : The News

When Clarissa returned from the beach, it was obvious to her family that things had gone well. There was a grin on her face and a bounce in her step that told the whole story in fairytale form. Clarissa was in love, and apparently, so was Roy.

Grainna was delighted to see her daughter so happy, but knew she couldn’t put her announcement off any longer. So she gathered her daughters around her and took a deep, stabilizing breath. She knew this was not going to be easy.

Grainna: The time has come, girls. I’ve made my decision and chosen the heir.

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Grainna saw the joy drain out of Clarissa’s face. Seraphina looked serious, as always, and Esmeralda seemed downright scared. She was still only a teenager, after all, and Grainna knew that she hated the idea of having her life planned for her before she even turned eighteen.

Grainna: You all know how important our legacy is to me. But the happiness of my daughters is even more important than that – and so deciding which of you would be the heir has been an extremely difficult decision. When I started this legacy, I always imagined my daughters vying for the opportunity to carry on our lineage. I see now that was very short-sighted.

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The girls were silent.

Grainna: But we are a family above all. And I hope that we can find a way to band together and support Seraphina as our second generation heir.

Grainna braced herself for her daughter’s reaction. Seraphina had been through so much already, and had told Grainna long ago, in no uncertain terms, that she was not interested in carrying on the Hasslich legacy. But of all her daughters, Grainna trusted her eldest daughter the most. Seraphina was her best friend, her confidant, her first born. She was Geoffrey’s daughter, and though she carried her father’s unfortunate genetics, she also inherited his kindness and generous spirit. Grainna hoped Geoffrey’s spirit would live on alongside her own, through Seraphina and her own children.

Grainna looked at her daughter apologetically. Seraphina stood, serious as always. And then, ever so slightly, she smiled.

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Seraphina: I’m honored, Mom. I’m truly happy – I was actually kind of hoping it would be me! After Dad died, I realized the true importance of family. We have an amazing one, and I will be proud to carry on the Hasslich legacy.

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——————————————————————

Grainna went to bed that night feeling lighter than she’d felt in months. Not only was the heir announcement behind her, but Seraphina was actually excited about her new role. It was a dream come true for Grainna to pass the torch to a willing and enthusiastic heir.

Grainna nodded off in a fizzy, effervescent daze – and so when she awoke to a familiar figure in her bedroom, she assumed she must be dreaming.

Grainna: Geoffrey…?

Geoffrey looked transparent, and extremely surprised.

Geoffrey: Grainna? You can see me??!!

Grainna: What’s going on? Is this a dream?

Geoffrey: I can’t believe you can finally see me! Grainna, my love – no, it’s not a dream. All these years, I’ve been here, watching over you and the girls. I just couldn’t leave this place – I had to make sure you were safe and cared for.

Grainna was confused. This had to be a dream, didn’t it?

Geoffrey floated to Seraphina’s room, Grainna trailing behind him in a trance.

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Geoffrey: You did good, Grainna. I know how hard it was for you to chose the heir, but Seraphina can handle this. You chose well.

Grainna watched as Geoffrey floated through the bedroom wall. Almost automatically, she walked outside after him, sure he would be gone – that the whole thing had been a figment of her imagination.

But he was there. It didn’t make any sense, but Grainna felt suddenly sure that this was real. She had no doubt that she hadn’t imagined him.

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Grainna: Geoffrey – I should have told you such a long time ago. I love you, and I’ve missed you every single day. I wish I could take it all back – I should have let you leave Nancy so we could have been a family. I’m sorry. I wasted our chance and now it’s too late.

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Geoffrey: I’m always here by your side, Grainna, even if you can’t see me. I want you to live a long and happy life. Enjoy the time you have left with your daughters. But when the time comes, know that I’ll be there waiting for you. It’s never too late.

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Chapter Twenty : Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?

Since the day her youngest daughter was born, Grainna had known Esmeralda would give her a run for her money. She didn’t know much about Esmeralda’s father, but Grainna could see that his untamed spirit and lust for life had manifested in their daughter. This was a both a good thing and a bad thing. Esmeralda was free-spirited, vivacious, and carefree, but in her worst moments, those same qualities morphed into carelessness, irresponsibility, and reckless abandon.

And so Grainna was not surprised when she woke up one morning to find that her blue hair had turned gray.

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She sighed heavily, the reality of her age sinking in. Grainna didn’t mourn her youth – she had lived the life she’d set out to live, and would leave the legacy she’d always imagined. She had three wonderful daughters, and while she may have missed her chance at true love, Grainna knew her golden years would be full of love, friendship, and laughter.

But the time to announce her decision had come. Grainna needed to get her affairs in order before it was too late. The time for procrastination had passed.

She called through the tiny house to the girls, asking to speak with them all.

Seraphina and Esmeralda joined her in the living room right away, but Grainna found Clarissa staring at herself in the mirror in the bedroom. Grainna stopped dead in her tracks and stared at her open-mouthed.

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Grainna almost didn’t recognize her middle daughter. She called out to Esmeralda and Seraphina, but they both seemed unfazed. Grainna realized they all must have been in on this together – probably bleaching Clarissa’s hair in the kitchen sink while Grainna herself had been counting her grays.

(This is Clarissa in CAS)

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Clarissa: Can it wait until I get home, Mom? Whatever this is, it can’t be more important than my first real date with Roy!

Esmeralda: I don’t think you’re allowed to call it a date if he doesn’t KNOW it’s a date, Clarissa.

Clarissa’s smile faltered, giving away the nervous anxiety under the confident facade. Grainna felt sympathy for her daughter. Clarissa had just become a young adult, but to Grainna, she was still a child, brave in her own naïveté.

The announcement could wait a few more hours. Her girls deserved one last day of freedom, one last day of childhood, before one of them would be named heir.

Grainna: It can wait. Have fun! And good luck, honey.

——————————————————————

Clarissa arrived at the beach just a little early. She was filled with anticipation, equal parts exhilaration and pure terror. She still didn’t know how she would find the words to tell him, and the possibility of rejection weighed heavy on her heart. But Clarissa knew there was no going back now, and whatever the result, she could no longer hide her true feelings.

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She saw him off in the distance, looking as handsome as ever. She took a deep breath and waited.

Roy: Clarissa? Is that really you? You look so…..different.

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Clarissa laughed nervously, inwardly hating the way shrill, awkward sound of her own giggle. She tried to play it cool.

Clarissa: Oh, right, it’s no big deal, really. I guess I just felt like trying a new look….

Roy: It’s nice. It’s just so different, I almost didn’t recognize you!

They claimed a few loungers, but sooner did they sit down than they were joined by a pretty brunette who obviously had her sights set on Roy. She introduced herself as Ashlee, and Clarissa immediately imagined punching her in her perfect face.

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Ashlee: So, Roy, what do you say we get out of here?

Roy: What? I barely know you, and besides that, I’m here to hang out with my friend.

Clarissa felt a surge of gratification. He’d chosen her over the perfect little gym bunny! That was a good sign, right? But the word “friend” echoed in her brain – he was here with his friend.

She had to do something – It was time for Roy to see her in a new light. Clarissa changed into her bikini and stood in front of him.

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His gaze settled on her in a definitively non-friend way. Clarissa smiled to herself, feeling her confidence grow. I just might have a shot after all.

Clarissa: Time for a swim?

Roy just stared at her. He stumbled over himself as he changed into his swimsuit, and soon they were in the water together.

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When they were done swimming, they changed and sat together by the water. Clarissa gathered her courage and took a deep breath. She had to tell him – it was now or never.

Clarissa: Roy, there’s something important I have to tell you, and I don’t want you to say anything until I’m done. Promise?

Roy: Okay. I promise.

Clarissa: I asked you here today because I wanted you to see me as…as….more than a friend. Roy… I, uh… Well. I’m in love with you. I guess I have been for awhile. I don’t want to ruin our friendship and I know it’s kinda weird since my sister is also your sister and all…but I couldn’t hide it from you anymore.

Roy stared at her.

Clarissa: I’m done now. You can talk.

Roy: Is….is this what your whole “transformation” was about?

Clarissa blushed.

Clarissa: I saw the way those beautiful girls all looked at you, and I wanted a chance with you….. It’s so embarrassing, I can’t believe I actually just told you that.

Roy: Clarissa…there’s nothing to be embarrassed about….You’re the only one who’s ever had a chance with me–I’ve loved you from the first day we met! That’s the real reason I invited you to Oasis Springs that time. I wanted to impress you – that’s why I took you to the gym. I was going to tell you, but I chickened out. I’ve loved you all along. You didn’t have to change the way you looked for me! I’ve always loved the way you looked, but that’s not why I love you.

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Clarissa felt her heart leap inside her chest. Esmeralda had been right, of course – she’d said that the right man would love her for who she was. And here was Roy, telling her exactly that. She was speechless, she couldn’t seem to formulate the sentence that would express everything she was feeling… so instead…..

gfff

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