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