Hi everyone! Sorry that I haven't updated in a while but I wanted to thank you to all of those who put this story on alert! However, I would also love some reviews to get some feedback on my writing! So please review and also spread the word about this story! Thank you-lovesjak
Disclaimer: It's hard to admit this every time but I don't own "The Finder."
She left Grigori and went to her room. It was decorated in soft blues. 'The color of Timo's eyes,' she thought absentmindedly. Then she realized what she was thinking about and talked herself out of it. 'Stupid. He only sees you as a kid. He's probably happily married with Magdalena right now and forgotten about you. You need to focus on getting the job and-"
The tiring day got the better of her overworked mind, and Willa fell asleep.
Chapter 2: Breakfast and Tiffany's
Willa was back at Looking Glass Key, in her trailer. Someone rapped on her trailer door and she opened it. Timo's smile greeted her as he stepped into the room. Then he began to speak. "Willa, I lo—"
Willa woke up from her dream. 'Again,' she scolded her mind, 'Fat chance. I bet Magdalena is already pregnant by now.' She got up from her bed and extended her arms, stretching out the kinks that had settled in her back. She looked around at the room and spotted a clock in her room that told her it was 9 AM. She looked at her bag but decided that she would prefer to set up her laptop later.
She went to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, and tried to fix her messy curls into some sort of order. She managed to get it into a braid and then walked downstairs to the kitchen. Grigori and Stan were at the table in the kitchen, Stan checking messages on his Blackberry and Grigori looking through the business section of the newspaper. When they heard her approaching, they looked at her with smiles, which she returned.
"Hey Cass!" Stan greeted her.
Willa gave him a small smile. "Hey Stan. Hi Grigori." She stopped and looked around. "Where's everyone else? Are you waiting for them to wake up before you eat?"
Stan and Grigori looked at each other. "Well," Stan began. "We were forbidden to cook unless dire circumstances arose…"
Willa raised an eyebrow.
Grigori explained. "None of us really know how to cook that well. Stan can bake pastries but that takes a while so generally, we wait for one of the girls to cook for us. If we're really hungry late at night we can make instant noodles or occasionally hard boiled eggs but nothing else."
Willa rolled her eyes. "Men are so hopeless. Why don't I make breakfast for you then?"
At the mention of the chance for food, the two guys perked up. "That would be amazing," Stan told her. Grigori nodded.
Willa walked into the kitchen and went around opening and closing cabinet doors to see what she could make. She found a loaf of white bread as well as some cinnamon sugar and syrup. She then looked into the fridge and found eggs, milk, and bacon. She grabbed a mixing bowl, a whisk, a frying pan, and a pan scrapper to complete her collection of items and began making French toast, eggs, bacon, and instant coffee.
Just as she was setting the platters of food at the table which Grigori and Stan had set, the other occupants of the house came into the room. Gavin, Giovanni, and Adriana all took places at the table. "Who made this?" Adriana asked suspiciously.
"I did," Willa answered.
Giovanni ate a forkful of French toast and groaned. "Cassie, I changed my mind. Marry me? I can't live without your food."
Everyone else laughed as Willa punched Giovanni's arm. "Again with the arm! Cass, what do you have against it?" Giovanni complained.
"Nothing, except for the fact that it's yours," she answered as she finished her last bit of egg, making everyone laugh even harder.
"What's the joke?" Deanna asked as she came in and gave Stan a kiss.
"Cassie just insulted G," Gavin told her.
The smile on Deanna's face became a little strained. "Oh," she replied. "Well, breakfast looks good! Who made it?"
Giovanni answered this time. "Cassie here, aside from being one of the few people who can piss you off like no other and attack your innocent arm, is like a world class chef in training! You should try some!" he added, as he shoveled another huge pile of egg and bacon into his mouth.
Deanna looked downright upset at this point. "No thank you." she answered coldly.
Willa mentally sighed as Deanna told everyone that she needed to leave and stomped down the hallway Stan made to follow her but before he went don the hallway, he turned to address Willa. "Sorry Cass. I'll get this sorted. Tonight, we'll go to my parents' for dinner and you can learn about your work."
Adriana turned to her as well. "D just wants attention. I'm sure she'll get over it soon. In the mean time, I'm headed to do some shopping at the farmer's market and Walmart. Do you want to come along and get some clothes and toiletries?"
Willa nodded gratefully. Having to make a quick escape, she had only brought a couple of clothes with her. She would need new clothes whatever she planned to do.
"It is Stan's turn to clean up but I will help you today Gavin," Grigori offered. Gavin smiled and nodded.
"We should start cleaning now," Gavin said.
Adriana rose from her seat and grabbed Willa's hand. "We should go soon if we don't want to miss all of the best deals," Adriana explained. She let go of Willa at the staircase. "Get changed and meet me here?"
Willa nodded and the two parted ways to get ready.
"How do you know what to get?" Willa asked Adriana.
"There's a sheet of paper on the refrigerator door where you can write any special food requests," Adriana told her. "But generally, it's just getting the best stuff on sale."
Willa thought about how she was going to meet her future employers tonight. "Have you ever met the Papadakises?"
"Yeah. I've met all of them except for Calliope," Adriana answered.
"The younger sister. She passed away the guys' freshman year." Adriana paused as if considering whether to continue, and then went on. "The family took it hard so it's best you don't mention her. She was their everything apparently. Bright, sweet, but also spunky, she was one of a kind. Stan is still hung over her death."
"Yeah," Willa responded. "He told me that she was the reason he took me in."
Adriana nodded and paused at a stall. She observed the vegetables on display and nodded at the price. "Potatoes and beans please."
The vendor nodded and proceeded to measure out the vegetables and put them in a plastic bag. He took a credit card Adriana offered and swiped it, then gave back the card and a receipt back to her.
"Whose card is that?" Willa asked.
"I guess you could say it's all of ours," Adriana told her. "We all chip in for our meals. The university pays the electricity bill and stuff like that, but we have bank accounts set up to forward $200 a week to this card for our food."
Willa immediately felt bad. "I can't really afford to pay right now and I'm not old enough to set up my own bank account. What should I do?" she asked Adriana.
Adriana thought for a moment. "Well, the Papadakises will most likely pay you $7 per hour, and you'll probably be working at least 8 hours each day so you'll make $56 each day. You'll probably get weekends off so you'll make $392 a week. You can start paying later. I'm sure G can lay off the food anyway. And I can open an account under my name and get you a credit card."
Willa smiled. "I think that'll work."
Adriana laughed. "Good 'cause I ain't got no other offer for ya missy!" She turned to look at some chicken in a butcher's stall. "Sir, how much is it for some bacon and chicken?"
After the farmer's market, Willa and Adriana went to Walmart, where Adriana put in some granola bars and junk food in the cart. Willa, on the other hand, got herself a multitude of shorts and new shirts, as well as a couple of pairs of flip flops, and an extra set of sheets. She also put in some black hair dye so she could take the extra precaution of changing her appearance.
After paying, the two headed back to the house with Willa asking questions about each of the inhabitants of the house and Adriana answering them. Willa found out that Gavin and Adriana had met in the science section of the library, and then through tutoring (Gavin was having trouble with understanding the calculus behind population curves) and the two slowly moved from there. On the other hand, Deanna and Stan had met when the two were taking a class on the ethics and issues of euthanasia and Stan had needed notes for a lecture he had missed, which she had provided. The guys had been thrown together freshman year for rooming in a quad-suite (AN: four people in a set of rooms for those of you who may not know what I'm talking about!). Adriana said that the cleaning staff swore it would never be the same again and Willa, remembering the time she had snuck down Walter's safe, nodded in understanding. Grigori apparently had a girlfriend back in Russia who occasionally visited and G went through girls like he couldn't get enough of them.
"What was your life like?" Adriana asked. "Any cute guys?"
Willa's mind immediately jumped to Timo—his chiseled features and his annoyingly beautiful smirk. "No," she lied.
Adriana raised an eyebrow.
"Ok," Willa admitted. "Yes, but it's better if I forget about him. He's probably happily married now.
Adriana saw the pain in Willa's eyes and felt bad. "Sorry Cass," she said. "I shouldn't have asked."
"It's fine," Willa answered.
"I could, you know, maybe set you up with some cute freshman if you're interested?" Adriana offered.
Willa wrinkled her nose. No one would match Timo in her heart. Ever. And she knew it would be cruel and just frustrating for her to deal with it. "No thanks. Not right now," she answered. "I think I should first focus on getting my life together."
Adriana nodded. "Let's put these groceries away. And then I can help you do your hair."
Willa was nervous. Her new job would be pretty similar to her job at The Ends of the Earth but she didn't think the Papadakises would take sass. She could be mean and sarcastic with Walter and Leo because Walter knew that she didn't really mean half the things she said and Leo had to put up with her; he had volunteered. But the Papadakises were taking her in of their own free will and Stan, their son, was providing her a place to live for free. If she messed up her first impression in front of them, she would find herself in a sticky situation with no job and very possibly no home.
"Relax," Stan, who was sitting in the driver's seat, told her. "They're my family, not a bunch of serial killers."
But Willa twisted the end of her braid and continued to worry.
Stan, trying to distract her, commented on her new hair. "If I didn't know any better, Cassandra Proud, I'd think you were my long-lost sister or something."
Willa smiled. Adriana had helped Willa with the dye job and now, she had black wavy hair. Another way to hide herself.
Soon, Stan reached a small brick two-story building and parked in a small lot behind. He killed the engine and stepped out of the car and Willa, palms shaking, followed him.
An older version of Stan, but with straight hair and a beard greeted Willa as soon as she stepped into the doorway. "Is this the girl you want us to hire?" he asked Stan.
Stan gave a smile, followed by a cheerful nod. "Yup." He turned to Willa. "Cass, this is my dad, Theodore Papadakis. Dad, this is Cassandra Proud."
The two shook hands. "Nice to meet you Mr. Papadakis," Willa said.
Mr. Papadakis took in Willa's new hair and her nervous attitude and gave a soft smile. "It'll be nice to have another young girl working in the bakery," he said before he walked off. Willa sighed in relief—she had the job.
"Sorry, I need to go grab something from my room," Stan told her. "You can look around."
Willa nodded and stepped into a narrow hallway. The second floor of the building served as an apartment while the first was the bakery. There were doors on either side of the hallway and a living/dining room as well as a kitchen area at the end of it.
She made her way to the family room and looked at a bunch of photos on the wall. There was a picture of an elderly couple, as well as one with a younger Mr. Papadakis and a woman with wavy hair and hazel eyes, who she assumed was Mrs. Papadakis. There were also a few pictures of Stan through his years, from childhood onwards, as well as a couple of a younger version of Stan except with hazel eyes instead of Stan's dark brown. Some wedding photos also adorned the wall, the bride a woman with black wavy hair and brown eyes, the groom a man with dark hair and dark eyes to match.
"What do you think of our family?" whispered a soft voice.
Willa whirled around to find the elderly woman in the first photo she had seen. She looked even older now, her hair completely white and her face much more wrinkled, but there was still somewhat of a mischievous twinkle in her brown eyes. "You all look so lovely," she answered.
The old woman chuckled. "Just like my husband you are. Lying to my face! Lovely! It's been a while since the mirror told me that I looked lovely."
Willa looked around. "Your husband?"
The lady shook her head. It's been a couple of years since he left. My strong, handsome Jason."
Willa instantly felt bad. 'I'm sorry, I didn't—"
"It's okay, dear. My name is Tiffany. My husband named the bakery downstairs after me." The old lady smiled. "What's your name?"
"W-Cassandra," Willa answered. "Cassandra Proud."
The old lady either pretended not to hear Willa almost slip or actually didn't hear and nodded. "Cassandra. That's a Greek name, you know. She was the princess of Troy, daughter of Priam. She was a prophetess but she was cursed by Apollo and no one believed her prophecies because they all predicted destruction and when the destruction came, they blamed her for it."
Willa shuddered. The old lady laughed. "Don't worry Cassandra. I am sure you will be blessed with more luck than your namesake."
In her mind, Willa flashed a sarcastic smile. 'If only Tiffany knew…'
"Dinner's ready!" called a voice and Tiffany beckoned Willa to sit at the table behind them as the woman with brown wavy hair who Willa had guessed to be Mrs. Papadakis brought out a plate of pita bread and some sort of sauce from the kitchen. They were joined by Mr. Papadakis and Stan who were talking about how the bakery was doing, as well as the younger version of Stan with hazel eyes that Willa had seen in the pictures. Mrs. Papadakis had slipped back into the kitchen area but the woman Willa had seen in the wedding photos came out of the kitchen bearing what appeared to be a vegetable and pasta soup. The woman looked around and then fixed her eyes on Tiffany and tilted her head a little. Tiffany shook her head.
"Your husband isn't here yet Dora."
The woman nodded, left the soup on the table, and headed back into the kitchen. Just as soon as she had left, the group at the table was joined by the man in the wedding photos.
"Anton," Tiffany said. "Dora just came out looking for you."
The man nodded and sighed. "The traffic getting out of the city was crazy. I thought it'd be fine but for some reason, the cars just wouldn't thin out."
Tiffany nodded. "This is Cassandra; she's staying with Stan and the boys. Cassandra, this is Anton Seidel, the husband of Dora, or Isadora, who came out of the kitchen before. Anton is an accountant in the city and Dora helps out in the bakery."
"Nice to meet you," Anton greeted with a weary smile.
"Likewise," Willa replied.
"Cass, I forgot to introduce you to my little brother!" Stan exclaimed. "Cass this is Alex, he's a ninth grader. Alex, this is Cassandra Proud. She's staying with me and the guys while she starts out a new life and works here at the bakery."
Willa looked at Alex. 'A potential ally' she thought. "Hey Alex," she said with a smile.
Alex simply nodded and looked back at his plate. Stan rolled his eyes. "Sorry Cass. He's going through puberty still," as he ruffled Alex's hair. Alex gave no reaction.
Willa was surprised. She would bite someone's head off if they ever did that with her hair and Timo would do far worse, saying that kind of thing could mess with his style. While she reminisced, the two women came out of the kitchen, Mrs. Papadakis bearing what looked like lamb chops and Dora something that vaguely resembled lasagna. The women set out the food and joined the group. Willa was quickly introduced to Mrs. Papadakis and Isadora and then the family started passing food and chatting.
Willa was completely stuffed—Tiffany and Mrs. Papadakis or Astrea, as she told Willa to call her, had insisted on her eating more, complaining she was too skinny. Isadora had wholeheartedly agreed and even when Willa turned pleading eyes towards Stan, he had shaken his head and told her, "You never mess with a Papadakis woman and her feeding; it's a serious thing in this house." Mr. Papadakis had given a small smile and nodded slightly while Anton laughed and told Willa about how more than once he had had food shoved down his throat. The women pretended to be mad and Tiffany started saying what ungrateful men they were when the women had gone through so much trouble to prepare such a great feast.
All throughout dinner though, Alex had completely removed himself from the conversation. He took small glances occasionally at Willa but whenever she focused her own pale blue ones on him, he seemed to flinch and try to make himself smaller. She decided to ignore it and continued with the conversation. At last, dessert, a series of small donuts in honey and cinnamon served with coffee and tea, was done and the women cleared the table. Willa rose to help them but Isadora insisted she sit and Tiffany told her to stay. Willa sat next to the old woman.
"My grandson told me your story," Tiffany began. "I hope you don't mind."
"Not at all," Willa replied.
"You are a brave young woman," Tiffany told her. "Few fine the courage to overcome and even fewer find the courage to start again."
Willa thought about what she had done. Leaving Timo to deal with Shad, leaving Leo all alone, leaving Walter in prison—could that be considered brave? Running away?
"You giving me too much credit," Willa replied.
Tiffany changed the subject. "Have you ever worked in a bakery before?"
"I've worked in a café so I know how coffee machines and registers work," Willa replied. "I operate a microwave and I can cook as well."
Tiffany smiled. "I think you'll do just fine. Now that you're here, Isadora can help out with the pastries, which is what she prefers, and you can manage the register and coffee."
"What do you do?" Willa asked.
"Oh, I mostly just sit around and pretend to be doing something useful," Tiffany answered. "These old legs and hands can't help much. But I'm sure you and I will have wonderful little talks and such now!"
Willa smiled, glad to be doing something she knew she could do, and having someone around she could talk to. "That sounds great."
"Sorry to break it to you folks, but Cass and I should get going now!" Stan announced as he grabbed his jacket and a thick text that Willa assumed he had gone to get when the two had arrived.
"I'll see you tomorrow then," Tiffany told her.
"Should I wear something in particular?" Willa asked.
"Just wear whatever," Isadora answered as she came out of the kitchen with a couple of Tupperwares. "For everyone else," she said when she noticed Willa's raised brow.
Stan nodded as he took the food from his sister. "I'll drop her off tomorrow at 8:30 so you guys can help get her settled and used to everything and pick her up at 5:00."
This time, Mr. Papadakis spoke. "That will be fine. Drive safely."
The rest of the family stiffened a little but soon recovered. Stan gave a forced laugh and answered, "Don't I always?" The two then left.
All through the car ride, Willa wondered if she should ask about the comment but decided that the uncomfortable reaction of everyone meant that it wasn't a topic she should probably be butting into and stayed quiet. Finally they reached the house and Stan gave a weak smile. "It's been a long day, hasn't it?" he asked her. "I'll carry in the food and put it in the fridge. You should get to bed and sleep. We'll be leaving early tomorrow."
Willa nodded and headed up the stairs. She brushed her teeth and got into a pair of athletic shorts she had bought today and a tank top. She didn't want to sleep though and when she was considering setting up her MacbookPro and surfing the web, someone knocked on the door. She rushed over and opened it to find Grigori.
"Cassandra," he said. "I remember you were interested in learning chess and I wondered if you wanted to maybe start with the basic rules now."
Willa nodded. "I was about to go surf the web but I'd love to. It'd be a nice distraction."
The two went to Grigori's room and Grigori brought out a low table she hadn't noticed before and put his chessboard. They sat down and he showed her how to set up the pieces. "The chessboard is a grid with letters and numbers, he explained. The first row in the white section is labeled number 1 while the first column, with the leftmost rook is a. Pawns are all on either row 2 if you play with the white pieces or row 7 of you are playing with the black," he told her. "For rows 1 and 8, you start with the rook, and then the knight, the bishop, and the queen if you are starting from the left or the king if you are starting from your right. The rest of the pieces are the reverse of the pieces you just placed except for the king or queen."
Willa nodded. "How do I move the pieces?" she asked.
"The pawns move forward, unless you are capturing a piece. Then the pawn can move diagonally. It can only move one square at a time, except for the first move it makes. It can move either one or two," he explained. "The rook, on the other hand, can move however many squares it wants but only vertically or horizontally, and never over one of its own other pieces. The bishops have the same rules except for the direction; they can only move diagonally. The knight moves in L-shapes, with two blocks making the bottom part of the L. And the king and queen both move in any direction but the queen is unrestricted in the number of squares it can move while the king can only move one square."
"OK," she said. "Pawn and king one square unless it's the pawn's first move. Rook, bishop, and queen however many they want but queen has no specific direction while rook moves horizontally or vertically and bishop diagonally. Knights go in L's, two squares making the bottom."
"You're a fast learner," Grigori complimented.
"I had to learn fast when I was younger," Willa blurted.
Grigori did not pry and instead, nodded. "I forgot to mention—the knights can move over pieces of the same color. If you see that the other person's king is in danger, you must say 'Check.' If they cannot avoid the danger, you say 'checkmate' and win."
"How was it meeting the Papadakises?" Grigori asked.
Willa smiled. "A lot better than I thought it would go," Willa replied. "They're all so nice and I start tomorrow."
"You should go rest then," Grigori noted. "I will tell you the other rules later."
Willa yawned. "Thanks Grigori. Goodnight," she mumbled before she headed back to her room and collapsed in her bed.
YAY! FINALLY DONE WITH THIS CHAPTER! I only have a few more weeks till school starts again so I want to get a good amount of work done before but I've been practicing for tryouts, travelling to family homes, being obsessed with Criminal Minds and whatnot so I haven't had a chance to update! Here is the Papadakis family!
Isadora(—Anton Seidel), Stan, Calliope (deceased), Alexander
TIFFANY-white hair, brown eyes
THEODORE-looks like an older Stan but has straight hair and a beard
ASTREA-brown wavy hair, hazel eyes
ISADORA-black wavy hair, brown eyes
ANTON-dark brown hair, dark brown eyes
CALLIOPE-brown curly hair, brown eyes
ALEXANDER-younger version of Stan but with hazel eyes
The food I mentioned is real too! In the order of appearance we have tzatziki (the sauce with the bread), bourou-bourou (the soup), paidakia (the lamb chops) and pastitio (the lasagna like dish). And the chess moves are legit—weeks of Saturday chess lessons paid off. Anyways, please review! Much appreciated!