Hi! Me again. See? No four hours worth of homework could stop me from writing for you wonderful creatures that God placed on this green earth! (I am so gonna flunk Social Studies . . .) But yeah!

WARNING: There are a few things in this story that are VERY DIFFERENT to the original Ninth Key. Granted, Paul is dead and Jesse is alive, but that's not what I mean. Only two of you know what's coming. Please don't flame me when you find out what it is, it's just so much better this way, I think!

***I'm not fluent at Spanish, I'm on a translator. I know, it's sad, but yeah. I'm, surprisingly, still learning about our Español friends from it though.***

Love ya!

**************************************************************************** ********** Addicted


'Mamá, Papá,' Jesse announced in that rich, sexy Spanish voice that made my spine tingle and my heart rate increase ridiculously, 'meet Susannah.'

The reaction wasn't instantaneous. Let me tell you. A stunning woman with Jesse's gorgeous eyes and a stylish dress was staring at me incredulously. And a stern looking man with Jesse's strong nose and chin, looked me up and down, stopping at my miniskirt for a moment, and then flickering up to my eyes.

Oh my God, I KNEW I should have worn slacks! I'm such a loser! This was Jesse's fault. He'd TOLD me to come casual!

I'd kill him if I didn't love him so much!!!

The silence didn't end. I could hear the clock ticking, and every breath that entered and evacuated everyone on the porch of Jesse's marvelous suburban home. I wished someone would say something . . . This was slipping beyond the realms of humiliating!

Jesse kind of gave a sham cough, and his mother seemed to snap out of a trance.

She threw her arms around my neck, and hugged me tightly. I wheezed in alarm. 'Jesse! Ella es magnífica! Hermosa! Encantador!' she squealed. 'Isn't she darling, Ricardo?' She let me go, and then held me out in front of her, staring right into my eyes. I felt like I was looking at a feminine Jesse. Behind her, I though I saw the twitch of

'Sí,' replied Jesse's father gruffly, stepping forward, and putting out a hand. 'Ricardo De Silva, Susannah. Pleasure to meet you after all mi hijo has told us about you.'

'Susannah Simon, er, I'm with him,' I responded oh so academically, and jerked my head at Jesse, who snorted silently. I met Mr De Silva's hand, and he shook it so hard it was worried he'd popped my elbow out of its socket.

'Just calm down,' Jesse said with amusement into my ear when he saw how wide my eyes were.

'Do come in, estimado, do come in,' Mrs De Silva gushed, taking me by the shoulders and steered me inside into what looked like the Lounge Room.

My jaw fell a decent four centimeters.

'Wow,' I murmured under my breath. I mean, seriously, it was INCREDIBLE! The walls were painted in this rich red colour, with a hint of burgundy, and there was jarrah EVERYWHERE. The coffee table, the wall units, the floorboards, everywhere. And there was this like, huge sparkling crystal chandelier above us that sent tiny rainbow reflections across the room. And the ornaments everywhere were very Spanish, like, flamenco dance partners, and sombreros and stuff, and the canvases on the wall were way grand. There was a beautiful scene of Spain at a big fiesta on one of them, and on another, a portrait of the whole family done in oil paint. Everything was very striking. I felt very strange, standing in a room of such Spanish content. It was so beautiful; you had to be there.

'Gracias,' cooed Mrs De Silva, looking very please with my response. You know, the whole "wow" thing. 'Sit here, llamaré a las chicas.'

'What she say?' I shot at Jesse from the side of my mouth.

'She said she was going to call the girls. Just watch out, they'll be all over you.' Mr and Mrs De Silva left us alone. I could here Mrs De Silva

He led me over to one of the jarrah framed couches, with grand red cushions. It seemed like a very manly area. Again, I felt odd being here. I was a pauper compared to Jesse . . . What did he see in me? He had everything he wanted, and I couldn't possibly meet up to his standards . . . I gently fingered the scars along my wrists. They were barely visible anymore, but still raised ever so slightly.

Blue eyes . . .

Suze! I thought harshly to myself, Forget about him!

Only I couldn't ever forget.

'Querida,' Jesse whispered, 'Run while you still can . . .'

I looked up, and saw five of the most beautiful girls I'd ever seen in my life. They were darling! And I'm not even all that fond of children!

'Susannah, these are my sisters,' Jesse introduced, crossing his arms over his polo shirt covered chest, an amused grin playing mysteriously across his lips.

The girls beamed at me, except for the eldest, who smiled a smile that didn't reach her eyes. 'Cómo usted es?' they said in unison, as if they'd practiced it. The little one stumbled on her words. It was like, so cute. I grinned at Jesse.

'These are the twins, Rosalia and Lola. Both of them are eleven.' Two of them stepped forward, wearing identical outfits; jeans and tops that said "Amore." They both had haircuts that complimented their tanned Spanish skinned faces perfectly. It was jet black hair, just like Jesse's.

'Hola,' the left one said. Then to her brother, she snapped, 'tell her to call me Rosa!'

Lola elbowed her. 'I'm two minutes older,' she assured me with a smug grin. 'I am more maduro for my age than Rosie.'

Rosa shot her a dirty look.

Jesse pointed at the second youngest one. 'That's Esmerelda. She's six.'

'Have you had sex yet?' she wanted to know.

I blinked.

The twins turned around and shushed her hurriedly. She looked confused. I gave Jesse a weird look, and saw that he was trying not to laugh. But the eldest girl wasn't holding back. She was chuckling quite unkindly by then. 'This is Corazon,' he nodded towards her. She was standing with her hip out slightly, looking bored. Her outfit was cute enough, with hipster light blue jeans and an off the shoulder black top. Her hair was in a high pony tale, and she had a very sharp, almost foul looking face, but still in an attractive way.

'She's not that pretty, Jesse,' she said rudely, staring at me coldly. 'Her skirts too short. Papá would disapprove.'

'Cora!' Jesse hissed. 'Sea cortés!'

'Vaya chupe algo, Jesse,' she glared, and turned her head away from him.

(A/N: Translation: 'Go suck something, Jesse.' Isn't she a sweetheart?)

'Hey,' I snapped to Cora, 'I'm not mentioning what I think about those shoes – that they are so last year. And that bag? It's not real Prada,' I added nastily.

Her mouth fell open in outrage, and she went to respond when Mr De Silva came striding in, tall and broad shouldered. He nodded toward me, and said, 'I'm glad to see we are all getting along.'

I glared at Cora, who returned my look with one of equal aversion.

That was when I felt a tiny tug at one of my fingers. I turned around in surprise, and saw the littlest one looking up at me with huge brown eyes. Like a porcelain doll. My heart melted. She was so tiny! So sweet.

'Mi nombre es Adrianna,' she said in the softest voice I'd ever heard. And then, she held her arms up to me, as if she wanted to be held. I beamed, and bent down to pick her up. She clutched my arms with smooth, gentle hands, and even rested her raven haired head against me shoulder sweetly. I couldn't get over how cute she was.

'So you're Adrianna,' I said slowly.

She was the one that had almost been killed. By . . . him.

Icy blues, glaring at me, wanting me dead, wanting me . . .

'Susannah, are you all right?' Jesse asked, concerned.

'Yeah,' I said, 'dandy. Why?'

'You looked, well, lost. Scared. I know that my family is alarming, but really,' he chuckled that sexy little chuckle that made my knees go weak. I held Adrianna with care, and noticed that the twins kept looking at me, whispering furtively to each other.

'Lola says your eyes are like emeralds,' giggled Rosa, and was elbowed again by her sister. I smiled. My cheeks were getting numb from smiling so much. Cora still glowered.

She's just, um, jealous.

But honestly, of what?

That my handbag was genuine Prada?

Yeah, sure Suze.

'Los niños! Dinner!' fizzed Mrs De Silva from the dining room, I assumed. Jesse put his arm around my back and rested it on my hip, and guided me into said room. Again, wow.

It totally matched the lounge area, accept the whole twelve-seater table was jarrah, with this golden yellow table cloth on it that shimmered slightly in the warm bathing light of the two impressive chandeliers. Tall golden yellow candles lit up the table, and fine china plates with the colours of Spain were set in between spotless silver cutlery. I breathed in awe.

'Jesse,' I said in a worried tone, 'I'm not used to this . . . I'm going to look like an idiot. Well, I am an idiot, but they don't really need to know that. I look like the product of sixteen years of etiquette lessons at home compared to my step-brothers, but here, I think that Adrianna'll be miles ahead of me,' I babbled. 'I mean, I seriously don't do first class dining –'

'Querida,' Jesse said, using that silky, persuasive voice he uses when he wants something and knows he's going to get it, 'Calm down. Just be yourself. They love you.'

'Yeah,' I said, 'And Cora just wants to lick my shoes already.'

He looked put out. 'Well, Cora is like that. She doesn't take too kindly to my girlfriends.'

I spun around. 'You've . . . you've had girls before me?' I demanded. Adrianna stared at me avidly, her eyes wide and naïve.

He looked awkward. 'Well, three. But please don't think I'm anything like that el tonto, Paul,' he added angrily.

And with that, Adrianna burst into tears.

'What happened?' Mrs De Silva asked in alarm.

I blinked. 'I seem to have that effect on people,' I said squeakily. Adrianna opened her arms for her mother, screaming now.

'Jesse, what did I do?' I asked, freaked by then. I mean, making children cry? Had I really sunk that low?

'It was me,' he said, looking troubled, 'Whenever she hears his name, she remembers . . .'

Murderous, blue eyes.

"Just you wait, Susie . . ."

'Susannah, sit here next to me!'

I snapped out of my ensnaring, torturous thoughts, and looked down to see Rosa pulling me to the tall jarrah chair beside her own. I shot Jesse a look, one which he found highly amusing for some reason, but nevertheless rescued me, and sat me next to him, opposite his mother, and next to his old man who was on the end. Cora sat opposite Jesse. I gawkily sat, and looked around.

'Maria! Felix!' cried Mrs De Silva.

I looked up, and saw a very beautiful young girl with curly ringlets dressed in a maid's outfit come. And a man in a suit minus the jacket joined her. He had this little goatee and this majorly weird haircut. They both brought three trays of food each. Well, I could only assume it was food. I mean, what else would it be? Possibly free samples of Maybelline lip liner?

She set down a tray before me. Maria, I mean. I smiled automatically. Jeez, I bet she and Cora got on well, judging by the snooty look she was giving me. She eyed Jesse with a ephemeral flirtatious gaze, and then dashed back to the kitchen for the rest of the food.

'Felix and Maria Diego are married,' Jesse explained to me in a whisper. 'They work here.'

'Would never have guessed,' I muttered. He smiled, and squeezed my hand under the table.

When all was served – Gaspacho, it turned out to be, some Spanish soup that really wasn't bad, with some really nice fresh bread – Mr and Mrs De Silva began their small talk. Maria and Felix stood behind Mr De Silva against the wall, watching silently. They both didn't seem to like me very much. I wonder why. I really am a perfect angel, ya know.

Yeah . . .

'So, Susannah,' Mr De Silva drawled. 'What does you father do?'

'My father's dead,' I replied shortly.

'Oh, I'm very sorry,' he apologized.

I'm sure you are . . .

'But I still see –' I began, and then shut up quickly. Oh my God! Me and my massive mouth! I'd almost told him about my little ability. I suck, I really do . . .

We sat in silence again for a moment, until Esmerelda seemed it was her duty to keep the talking going.

'Jesse has a penis!' she piped up joyfully. I snorted into my soup, and Jesse went a dark shade of red.

'Duh,' I smiled at her.

Mr De Silva said something to her in Spanish which I didn't understand. I shot a laughing glance at Jesse, and saw that he'd suddenly found the pepper container fascinating.

'So Susannah,' Cora began, but I cut her off.

'Call me Suze, please. Everyone does,' I said dryly.

'I don't,' Jesse replied shortly, still embarrassed.

'Yeah, well, I'm still working on you,' I said. It was true. He just WOULDN'T call me Suze like everyone else. It was annoying in a BIG way.

But half the time he called me "querida," so that was okay.

'Well, Suze then,' she said, adding a sprinkling of spite to my name, 'Why do you wear skirts so short?'

I saw Jesse kick her under the table. I gave her a complacent look. 'Well, I'm actually allowed to wear them,' I retorted slyly. She narrowed her eyes at me, looking momentarily defeated, and then continued eating.

Suze: 1, Cora: 0

Adrianna, in her highchair, spat out her chunk of bread. Maria rushed forward and wiped it away, looking bored.

'So, Susannah,' Mr De Silva said, 'When did you discover that you were a shifter?'


I looked at Jesse with panic. 'Jesse, they know?!' I choked out.

Mrs De Silva looked at me strangely. 'Más estimado,' she said, her forehead wrinkled in concern, 'Are you quite all right?'

I was looking at them all with wide eyes. Cora looked sickly amused at my distress, as did Maria and Felix.

'I – I – But – not even my own MOTHER knows,' I said, my voice rather loud.

Mr De Silva raised an eyebrow. 'Really? That's not very candid of you, Susannah. She has a right to know.'

My God . . . I was kind of hyperventilating then. 'Jesse, they KNOW?!' I repeated in dread.

'You think?' Cora muttered.

Jesse looked pained. 'Susannah,' he said, 'They figured it out. I was telling them about the Paul thing, I didn't really think about what I was saying.'

I shook my head at him. 'Oh, yeah, let's just tell everyone. It's bad enough that I am a mediator –'

'What the hell?' Cora interrupted crudely.

'A mediator,' I said carelessly, 'but with you telling everyone, Jesse, everyone will know, and I'll be a freak, and –'

'Susannah,' Jesse soothed, placing his hand on the side of my face, 'It's okay. My family will tell no one. It is an honour to be a shifter. They won't tell a soul.'

'Yeah,' Esmerelda said, 'Because Papá will disown us if we tell.'

Happy families . . .

I breathed again. I still couldn't believe that Jesse had ratted on me . . . Did I go around saying that he was a murderer? No!

'So, you know about Paul then?' I asked. I suddenly noticed that they were all staring at me like I had asked for a laxative. 'What?'

They all looked at their food quickly. 'Yes, we know all about Paul,' Mrs De Silva, cutting her stake – yes, we were on the main course now – said. 'We know what our Jesse did. And we couldn't be more prouder of him. He loves his sisters very much. And that Paul was el hombre malo. It was his own fault that he is dead.'

'They know all about Paul?' I asked in barely a whisper, raising my eyebrows.

Jesse shifted uncomfortably, and replied in equal silence, 'Well, apart from the fact he is now a ghost.'

'Yeah,' I muttered, 'One who wants us to eat the dirt six feet under.'


After dinner, everyone went to the lounge room again, minus Adrianna who had been put to bed. I'd excused myself to go to the bathroom, and after directions about a page long, I'd finally found it. Man, Jesse lived like royalty. I admired all the photographs of him as a child. He was cute even then!

But cuteness had subtly turned to sizzling hotness, of course.

In front of the mirror, I was reapplying powder from my compact, when Cora walked in.

'Hey,' I said, 'Knock much?'

'Whatever, Suze,' she glared. 'Let's get things straight. I don't like you –'

'That,' I stated, 'is obvious.'

'Yeah, and you have no right to come in here and act like a princess just because you're a shifter like my brother.'

Me act like a princess?

'Are you on crack?' I wanted to know. 'Because I know that they offer a pretty good detox option at the Carmel Hospital –'

'Shut up,' she snapped. 'This is my house. Jesse's my brother. You're not good enough for him. You go around in your small skirts, and pick up my sister like she is your own child. You are lower than him. Do him a favour before you hurt him. Leave.'

I stared at her, incredulous. And hurt. 'What,' I asked, 'Gives you the right to say that to me? How dare you.'

She left, looking very superior, and full of it.

I stared at where she'd been standing just a few moments before. What a bitch! She couldn't say that! That was uncalled for!

But . . .

. . . Was she right?


'Susannah,' Mrs De Silva acknowledged me as I walked back in, looking fresher. 'There's something I must tell everyone. I think that you are entitled to know, also, since it affects you also.'

I froze. Why did that sound bad?

Mr De Silva stood up next to his wife, holding her hand. They looked very perfect together. Did Jesse and I look like that? You know, perfect. I hoped so. Because it felt perfect.

'Susannah, we regret to inform you that Spain is stealing Jesse away from you for a month,' he replied solemnly.

What? What was that supposed to mean?

Jesse looked outraged. 'What?! I cannot go to Spain now with you! Not now,' he said.

No . . .

Don't leave, Jesse. Not now, not ever . . .

Mrs De Silva touched her head apologetically. 'Jesse, lo siento. I really am. But, there is something that must be done. Family matters. It is your Uncle Orlando. He is well, terminally ill, and needs family. We must go. All of us.'

All of us, except me. Of course not you, Suze. You ain't family. You ain't even good enough for Jesse . . .

Not taking it to heart or anything, oh, not at ALL.

Jesse stared at her, his mouth opened slightly. 'No . . . ' He looked at me. I must have looked pretty upset, because he clicked his tongue sympathetically, and then looked back to his mother. 'Indeed I must go, if Uncle Orlando is sick. When are we leaving?'

'Tomorrow night,' replied Mr De Silva gruffly. 'Good boy.'

Jesse bowed his head. 'And you waited until now to tell me this. Now, when I have my . . . company here.'

He couldn't even call me his girlfriend. Joy, you must mean heaps to him, Suze.

Mrs de Silva whispered something to her husband. 'We only found out yesterday,' he explained. 'We were going to go tonight, but seeing as though you had your . . . company over, we thought it could be put off for one day.'

I was still staring at Jesse, stunned.

He frowned. 'Might I have a word with Susannah? En privado?'

'Go outside, my son,' advised Mrs De Silva. Jesse stood up, took my hand, and pulled me out the front door, closing it behind him. Crap, it was cold out. I hugged my arms to my chest. Jesse, noticing this, very courteously passed me his jacket.

'Thanks,' I replied shortly.

'Susannah,' he said sorrowfully, 'Please don't make this hard for me.'

'Not making anything hard,' I snapped. 'Nothing.'

Oooh, I could think of a really disgusting way that Paul would probably have replied to that . . .

He paced around the porch, looking perturbed, 'Oh, Susannah . . . querida. I do not want to go. But I have told you before, my family means a lot to me.'

'I know,' I said. 'I'm saying nothing against that. It's just . . . ' I trailed off.

He knew exactly what I was thinking. Of course he did. He could read my mind if he ever wanted to. But nah, he just knew.

'Paul,' he finished for me. 'Susannah, if he does come back, go to the priest.'

'Fat lot of good that'll do,' I said, 'if I'm already dead.'

He sighed. 'This is inconvenient, I realize that querida. But, I must. I hate to leave you vulnerable –'

'Hey, I'm not a total kid,' I snapped.

'Poor choice of words,' he said. 'Well, incapable of defending yourself –'

'You're cruising,' I warned. treasure

'You know what I mean!' he flung his hands out. 'Susannah, I still don't' know what he did to you, when he kissed you that night! He did something, I know he did. He would not tell me what it was. But even I've noticed you acting a little differently lately. You're not as . . . '

I folded my arms. 'Not as what, Jesse? Do tell, I'm dying to hear everything that's wrong with me . . . '

'Vibrant,' he finished.

'I am NOT a colour!' I said indignantly.

'Focused,' he continued.

'On school? Who focuses on school? And a lot has being going on, ever since I was elected vice president,' – did I mention that? It's pretty flattering, really, I haven't known the Mission kids for too long – 'and it's a big ask of my time.'

He rubbed his forehead as if he had a headache. No, as I was GIVING him a headache. 'Susannah, I do not know what has happened to you. I love you no less. More. But I'm worried that if he does come back, then he'll finish off what he almost succeeded in doing.'

'I'm worried too,' I said quickly. 'Terrified. So don't go!' I stressed to him.

'I told you, I have to!' he stepped right up to me, glaring down at me.

'Yeah, I KNOW that! But –'

Only about then, he seized me by the arms, and planted a big fat one right on the ruby reds. It was zealous and loving, mournful and possessive. He scrunched up my hair, and grasped my back, pushing me against the door.

I shoved him away. 'Jesse, you can't just kiss me whenever you want me to shut up.' He smirked, and stepped in for more. Aaah, if you've never been kissed by Jesse, ha ha. I tell you, it's heaven. Heaven!

I smiled. He'd won me over. Like usual, dammit.

'Okay, not complaining any more,' I squeaked.

I love my Jesse, no matter how infuriating he is . . .

**************************************************************************** **********

You can't say I took my time . . . First chapter only. Well, with Jesse gone, rah . . . Big trouble coming ahead for Suze. Of the Porsche owning, golden chained, silk tee wearing kind.

Spells out: T-A-D.

Regards, MystAngel!