Hieronymous' gift sat nestled in Serena's lap, riddled with dents and stained with tears. Skimming the spine of the book with the pads of her fingers, she sighed. Serena felt a fool for abusing it as she had. Though she appreciated receiving anything from the man on her birthday, she could not help but feel disappointed. She had thought, due to their parting kiss and from their increasingly heartfelt letters, that her husband would have given her something more.

The fact that Hieronymous had sent her a book for her birthday had not irked her as thoroughly as when she read the title: In Regards To Black Magic, The Complete Works and Findings of Yvonne Trap. A book fit for school? That was how he was rejoicing her birth?

However, after chucking it mercilessly about her room and a humiliating ten minutes of sobbing over her husband's book, Serena realized that it was most probably from his private collection, and, in turn, that it must mean a good deal that it was now in her possession. Serena doubted many people were ever loaned or given books from Hieronymous. A sudden prick of smug pride caused her to smile.

Scraping her teeth against her bottom lip, Serena cracked open the book. Smoothing over the first page, she spied the short note had been written.

'Dear Serena,

I hope you have an agreeable birthday, as I am sure turning seventeen seems a large achievement to you. This book should serve you well for next year's teachings. I look forward to seeing you then.


Serena blushed, a pleasant feeling circling her stomach.

She'd been positively foolish, and she was damned if she would let Hieronymous ever find out about this episode.