The Prodigal Brother
Shortly after Catherine, Trelawney, and Waldo had left to go down to Phoebe's house, Sylvia heard the car pulling out of the driveway. Tom and Rob were going out to pick up Butch from Tim's house and hopefully make the call to let Hal know that he had another little sister. Then, she heard a knock at the door.
"Hey, Syl!" called out Liam from the other side. "I see that you survived the storm."
"I see that you did as well, brother," she replied. "Where the hell have you been all night?"
"Oh, doing a little unicorn hunting," he answered grinning. "With my two new friends, Topher and Mike."
"So, I heard," she said.
There was silence on Liam's part. Then, "How did you . . ."
"Know?" she finished. "You should have looked around for Waldo before you started to make plans with your new friends. He heard every bit and tattled it just as well as Elspeth might have. What did I tell you about staying out of trouble? The little one told us that the unicorn was defeated last night, and that he's dead in fact. You better not have done what I thought that you've done, or helped out in any way."
"No, Syl," he replied. "Someone else did it for me, one of those security guards that Rob or Bob or whoever Everett hired got him. When the time came, I just couldn't do it. I thought of the little one and all that you had said about breaking her heart and, well, I knew that you were right. So I couldn't do it."
"So then Cholmondeley is gone?" asked Sylvia.
"Gone to meet his maker," confirmed Liam, more gravely. "Almost met Him myself if that security guard hadn't shot the old unicorn first."
Sylvia sat down. "Okay, lad, out with it. You might as well tell me the whole of it."
"Where do you want me to begin?" he asked.
"At the beginning, you bloody idiot!" she growled at him. "Start from the point where you left the house with Mike and Topher."
"Okay," he said, more cheerfully. "When we left here, we went out to get a bite to eat at a diner and we hashed things out. They told me what I didn't know and I told them what they didn't know. The long and the short of it was that we decided to pay a visit to Auntie, since she had started this mess. We figured that if she could tell us where Johnny was, then it would lead us to Cholmondeley."
Sylvia rolled her eyes as he paused to catch his breath. "Keep going."
"Well, we got to Auntie's house just as the storm was getting ready to hit," he explained. "She gave us the same old predictions that she's been spewing forth for months. Only this time around, she made one enormous mistake."
"And what was that?" asked Sylvia skeptically.
"Well, she's going on about the two sisters and the third party being injured by the cousin and then she says, 'unless . . .'" he answered. "That was when I knew that there was a way out, so to speak. And after the 'unless,' old Mike says, 'unless what?' In that blink of an eye I got it though. It was 'unless the unicorn dies.'"
"Oh," said Sylvia slowly. "I'm still not entirely getting it."
"Okay," he said. "Well, I was watching her aura, and at first she was lying. Then, the anger from out there in the cosmos was present in her, you know, the sulphur color. And she said the 'unless' when she was channeling the angry forces, so I knew that she wasn't just flapping gums. It was a real prediction. I knew then that we could take them on and win. But the last aura was the weirdest of all. The evil must have realized that she messed up and said one word too many. She was surrounded by black cloud and flashes of red, just like . . ."
" . . . the storm clouds last night," she finished.
"And you don't know it yet, I guess," he said. "But this here was the worst hit part of the city. Whatever force was trying to interfere was the birth was being foiled. Still and all, I knew that it would make one last effort. So we came out here. Couldn't get into the Professor's yard, so we went through Fowler's. We ran into Cholmondeley between the two yards."
"What time were you there?" she asked. She wanted to confirm what Trelawney had told her last night.
"Right at the time that the baby was coming," he answered. "I could see it from the window, the golden glow and the silvery white stars. No doubt about it, a child of light was born. But then Cholmondeley stepped out. His aura was just like Auntie's, billowing black and red flashes. It was terrible. I've been in many a tight spot, but this was the worst. Especially when I saw the gun."
"He had A GUN?" she said, incredulous.
"Never would have believed it," he replied. "But there it was, just a glint of silver, shining off my light. But I knew what it was all right. Had no weapon myself, except my bared hands, if I could get hold of him. But suddenly, I didn't want to. It wasn't like I really cared about him or anything, but I didn't want his blood on my own hands. First, I tried to talk him out of using it, the gun that is. I told him that Trelawney Rose would forgive him. That she would help all us forgive him. That was just how she was. But whatever he was looking for, it wasn't forgiveness. I tried to tell him to come back to God even.
"Then Topher, fool that he was, after I had told him to stay behind me, came out and tried to tell him to come to the light. He wanted him to come back to God too. But the man was crazy, Syl. Pure mad he was. Never said a word to acknowledge that we were there. He had the gun right in my face, he cocked it, and I heard the explosion. I knew that I hadn't gotten, so I thought that Topher did. But he was standing beside me. It was the unicorn dead on the ground."
Sylvia was silent. She thought that she was going to be sick. This was not the way that she had thought that it would end. Of course, none of them had even considered how it might end. Liam looked at her sympathetically. He knew her well enough to realize that the thought of any man dying, even one who had committed a crime as heinous as Cholmondeley had, or even still might have, would be very upsetting to her.
"Syl, he was full of anger and hate," he said, trying to go a bit easier on her sensibilities. "But it wasn't all his own. It was barely even him out there anymore. Whatever demon got a hold of him was furious because Phoebe's baby was born safely. The little one did well. She did her job. I had to do mine. There was probably no way of getting in that house. But I had to free her, and them.
"But it was too hard to think of all the probabilities in the thick of it. If he had somehow got in there, with whatever help he might have been getting from that evil force, who knows who or what he could have shot at. They certainly weren't armed up there. The security guard wasn't aiming to kill, he wanted to knock the gun out of his hand."
"Liam, why didn't you do it yourself? Why didn't you kill him?" she asked. "Especially after all the threats that you've been making for the past year. Why, lad, in the end you even tried to save his soul?"
"Because in the end, I knew that you were right," he replied. "Two wrongs don't make a right. If I had managed to kill him, it was only going to give greater strength to the storm. And who knows? Maybe all the hate and anger I've been carrying around for the last year made it stronger anyway. But it's over now, Syl. The little one is safe. Phoebe is safe. The baby is safe. They're all safe. I've done my bit and I want to go home."
"What do you mean?" asked Sylvia.
"What I mean is that my work out here is done," he said. "I'm going to call Dad and tell him that I'm coming home to settle. I'll meet the Chenoweth girls, but this isn't going to be a beauty contest. I'm going to be looking for the wife of the next paterfamilias of the Figalilly family. My days of wandering are over. It's time for me to be responsible."
Sylvia was silent. This was the last thing that she would have expected.
"What caused this change of heart?" she asked.
"Twas Trelawney Rose of course," he said simply. "I called out to her last night, and she was there. She gave me the strength to change my heart. And that lad Topher is a child of light as well. Together they make a powerful force for the good. The two of them were even more powerful than that storm. It seemed like the storm began to die out once the baby was born, the unicorn was gone, and I let go of my own hate. It lost. The children of light won."
"I understand now," she replied. "When I woke up this morning I thought that it was a dream. She told me last night before we went to sleep that the unicorn was dead and that she helped you to 'not kill' him. But what about Johnny?"
"He was out there with Cholmondeley," he answered with a nod. "Yes, he was out there too. But now he knows the error of his ways, so to speak. He was scared to death when he saw that gun. But he'll be living up to his own duties now. Finally found a little backbone I think. He's going back to the village to tell Grandfather that Trelawney Rose is safe and she needs to stay where she is.
"We're both going to see Auntie later and tell her to shut up about the little one or we'll tell Grandfather about her part in this whole mess. Johnny says that he would never have gone out to find Cholmondeley if it hadn't been for her. Finding Cholmondeley was what brought the bastard here. And now that he's seen what happened, he understands why he should have just let things be. To hell with his mother even. In his heart, he knew that child was never lying. But when all is said and done, it was no one's fault but his own that Cholmondeley was shot dead."
"But what about the police? Won't they find out about why he came here? They must know that he was killed," asked Sylvia. "What happens if they come around here looking for answers? What if they want to go back to the village?"
"We spent hours at the police station early this morning," he replied. "It's a matter of a security guard, hired by the family, shooting and accidentally killing a trespasser on the property. We all told them the same thing. Cholmondeley was angry because Phoebe broke the engagement with Trelawney's help and now she was giving birth to another man's child. No mention of unicorns or premonitions or none of that stuff. The police said that they will try to keep the family business out of it. The only family of our people's that they need to talk to is Cholmondeley's. They don't know yet as far as I know. But no doubt, they'll be finding out soon."
Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
"Quick!" she said. "Get out of sight!"
She opened the door to find Prudence and Bernice there. As soon as she told them that the baby girl had come, Prudence was running down the street with Bernice rushing right behind her.
"Well," she said. "Probably they'll be back soon with Catherine and Trelawney Rose. It won't take Prudence long to make a nuisance of herself. Then we can make like you just came in. And try and hold back on some of the worst details as to why you're here from Trelawney Rose."
Liam nodded. "Well, I'm going upstairs to change my clothes and wash up a bit. I hope that that power comes back soon."
"Me too," replied Sylvia. "Me too."
She sat down heavily when he finally went upstairs. She needed to try and sort through this whole thing. At least Johnny wasn't involved. Truth be told, the Figalillys weren't either. They had all just been there. The Figalillys and Trelawneys would all know the full story. She couldn't care less about Cholmondeley's family. No doubt the Everetts would know what happened and Francine and her mother would learn about it in part.
It was a terrible thing that had happened, but in the end, Cholmondeley had made his own choice. Of course, if he had lived, if the security guard had only wounded him, it would have led to many awkward questions about the village and their people. And it would have caught up poor Phoebe and Trelawney in all kinds of sordid gossip. No, she didn't like to see any man die, but perhaps this was the only way.
However, she was now worried about Mike and Topher. If they told their parents the whole thing, then they would have their families to help them. Yes, and hopefully, the angel would help them as well. In time, this would all become a bad memory. But she knew that finally, after years of pain, Trelawney was free of the unicorn forever. No wonder she had been so happy this morning. She looked out the window and saw the two girls skipping back up the street with Catherine and Bernice. Yes, Trelawney might even be able to find joy in life again.
When they came into the house, Sylvia looked at Trelawney and asked, "Guess who's here?"
"Liam!" she replied happily. She went running up the stairs calling his name.
"How did she know?" asked Bernice, looking puzzled.
"Don't even ask her," warned Catherine. "You'll never understand the explanation."
In a minute, Liam came down the stairs carrying Trelawney in his arms. She was hanging onto his neck and cheerfully chattering about Phoebe and Maisie. But suddenly she stopped and looked him in the eyes. He looked quietly back at her and gave a little nod. She jumped down and turned to Prudence.
"Let's go upstairs and get Tessa," she said. "We can play out in the playhouse."
After they went upstairs, Sylvia looked at Liam. She realized that the child had discerned from his mind what had happened. Whatever she had discerned had sobered her up considerably. Catherine looked concerned and Bernice looked confused, but there wasn't much to say at the moment. She decided that it would be easier if they only had to explain it once, when Rob and Tom came back.
After the two grandmothers and two girls left, Emmeline sat down again and gave a sigh of relief. The Professor gave her a sympathetic look. She was tired, but as usual, she had to be in charge of everything. At this point, he seemed inclined to let her. He was starting to look pretty ragged himself. His initial burst of energy this morning when he woke up was starting to fade. And until they got power, there wouldn't be any coffee.
"It will be easier," he commented. "When we have the telephones working. Then we can make sure that they call before they come over."
"Won't the ringing wake up the baby?" she asked.
"The only phone on the second floor is the one in the master bedroom," he explained. "We can just turn the ringer off. There are two phones on this floor, one in the kitchen and one in the study. If I turn the ringer off on the one in the study, it can still be used for private calls. I can also turn the volume down of the one in the kitchen."
"Good idea," she said thoughtfully. "We do need to control the number of visitors and how long they stay. Phoebe is exhausted."
"I know," he replied. "She really isn't up for any conversation yet. I'm not sure of what to do about Prudence. If she stays in own bedroom tonight we may have very little control over her once we put her to bed. She will probably be relentless in her desire to see Phoebe and Maisie."
"Perhaps she should stay at Rob and Catherine's also," suggested Emmeline. "It would only be for a few days. It will give her a chance to calm down. Maybe she'll begin to understand what it will mean to have a new baby in the house."
"Maybe," said the Professor doubtfully. "In the beginning I suspect that her reaction will be a combination of intense curiosity and a certain amount of jealousy."
"Well that's all the more reason that she should be up the street," replied Emmeline. "They can give her some extra attention when she's not here."
"Good point," said the Professor. "Tell me, when babies are born at home in the village do they have these kinds of problems?"
"Not really," she answered. "Generally speaking, the siblings are born close together. They're too young to realize that there's a new one in the house. And when they are old enough, they expect it. They're also used to big families. Of course there was a very large gap between Phoebe and Trelawney, but Phoebe was so happy to finally have a little sister that there was never any jealousy."
"That makes sense," he said. "Well I'll go up and turn the ringer off on the bedroom phone so that I don't forget."
"Why don't you take a nap as well?" she asked. "I know that you were up very late last night and early this morning."
"Sounds like a good idea," he replied. "I think that you can hold down the fort for a while."
"Of course I can," she said with a smile.
Once he left, she breathed another sigh of relief. Thank goodness! Now when Sylvia and Liam come down, he'll be out of the way. She knew that Liam was presently up the street and that her sister would be sure to bring him down once Trelawney had seen him and made a fuss over him. She only hoped that the little girl would keep her mouth closed about Cholmondeley until they had worked out how they would tell the family.
Early this morning, Sebastian had told her the whole story. It was quite a mess, but it sounded as though none of them was hurt or in trouble. She was very grateful that Rob had hired the security guards who had ultimately ended up doing the dirty work. But it was over. Trelawney and Phoebe were safe and Maisie had made it into the world without any problems.
Maisie was really a beautiful baby. She looked very similar to Trelawney, which was not too surprising. She knew that she had very strong intuitions like her aunt, but would hopefully be sharper mentally. It would be very difficult for Phoebe if she had two such girls to deal with.
She knew why Trelawney wanted to speak with Dad. She had no doubt perceived in the Professor's mind what she herself had discerned. He wanted Trelawney to come home but he was worried about how his mother would react. It was a sensitive situation. Catherine had been there for them when they needed her in January. But with Cholmondeley gone, the nightmares would disappear as well. She would always be odd, but she would be much easier to handle and live with if she wasn't being chased by shadows.
She heard a knock on the door and went to open it. Standing on the steps were Liam and Sylvia.
"Hello there, sis," said Liam. "Long time no see, eh?"
"Long time no see, brother," she replied. "But you don't need to look so apprehensive. Sebastian told me the whole story about what happened in the yard. I won't make you go through it again, but I would like to know what happened at the police station."
"Who the hell is Sebastian?" asked Liam.
"The rooster," she answered with a smile. "Don't you know that Phoebe practically has her own petting zoo back there?"
"First the dog and now the rooster. I've never heard of so many bloody animals with such big mouths!" he retorted. "What kind of a place is this?"
"Well then, Liam," said Sylvia. "At least you don't have to go through the whole song and dance again."
"At least," he said. "Things didn't really go so badly with the coppers. The security guard admitted to the crime up front. We were just witnesses. And Topher and I were almost victims ourselves."
"Well, Trelawney didn't tell me that," she replied. "She just said that the unicorn was dead and you didn't do it."
"That's what she told me," replied Sylvia. "But I guess that she didn't mention to you either that our other atheist found his way back to Jesus. The little one's had a good month for conversions, hasn't she?"
Emmeline and Liam looked at each other.
"So the unicorn is dead," said Emmeline, neatly avoiding the topic. "What about Johnny? Did he faint or anything?"
"No, he looked pretty shaken, but he managed to hold it together in the yard and at the station," he said. "Confused the hell out them trying to explain how many cousins there presently were here and how they were all related. But he did okay. He's even going to help convince Grandfather to leave Trelawney be."
"What about Auntie?" she asked.
"He and I are going to have a little chat with her," Liam replied. "We'll tell her that when we get back to the village that we'll tell Grandfather the whole sordid tale, including the bit where she almost got the little one harmed or worse."
"Nobody mentioned her?" she asked.
"No, not that way. Before the cops came I told them all to leave out any mention of the unicorn," he explained. "Then the cops told us to only answer the questions they asked, no extra information. The lads just talked about wanting to protect the girls from Phoebe's ex-fiancé. They were satisfied with that."
"So the cops never asked about Auntie?" asked Sylvia.
"Why would they?" replied Liam. "Thankfully, they didn't realize that she was related to us. Can't imagine what kind of a dither that that would have thrown them into if they knew that there was another family member in town, especially since she is related to six of us."
"Well, that's good," said Emmeline. "The cops were just finishing up with the investigation when we woke up. Fortunately, nobody in here bothered to look out the window. Catherine noticed when she came down, but she wasn't much interested."
"Yes, I know," said Sylvia. "All that she's interested in is that baby."
"Well, so is everybody else," replied Emmeline. "Prudence burst in before and woke poor Phoebe and Maisie up. She was squealing loud enough to wake the dead when she saw her. (Sorry, Liam, poor choice of words.) As soon as these bloody phones are working again, you folks will need to call before you visit. And then there will only be a few allowed in at a time."
"Taking charge already?" asked Liam with a wink.
"No, it's the Professor's idea, he's tired out too," she said with a huff. "And so is Mrs. Morgan, the nurse. Everyone down here needs rest. No one more so than poor Phoebe."
"Was it a long labor?" asked Liam.
"Long enough," she replied. "It was hot as hell in here because we couldn't open the windows in the storm."
"Well," said Sylvia. "Now that we've seen you, we should be on our way. When do you plan to tell Phoebe that himself (pointing to Liam) is here?"
"When she's stronger," said Emmeline. "It's hard to say what her reaction will be. If she knows that Liam is here, then she will wonder why. And then we will have to tell her about Cholmondeley. She was very upset by what he did to Trelawney. Then she was terrified that he might come back. But she was betrothed to him since birth. It's too hard to say."
"I'll leave it up to you two to decide that," said Liam. "But I do want to see her and the baby before I go home."
"Going home next?" asked Emmeline raising an eyebrow.
"Yes, love," said Sylvia. "The prodigal son is returning. He's turning over a new leaf now that he's found Jesus. He's finally going to settle down and get married like Dad wants."
"You are?" said Emmeline amazed.
"I know that you are going to find this hard to believe," answered Liam. "But a lot of things go running through your mind when you're looking down the barrel of a gun. Out in that storm, I could feel the anger and hatred swirling around me, begging me to make it stronger. But the little one was there with me. She's got a powerful force of goodness within her. Now I just want to go home and be a good son and then a good father. I'll get married and settle down and accept my responsibilities."
"I don't believe it!" exclaimed Emmeline.
"I know it's shocking, but the only thing that had me wandering for the past year was hate for that man and love for that little girl," he said. "She gave me a choice, love or hate. I've got a second chance, thanks to her. And I plan to use it right. If you think about it, the little one has suffered a lot for our family. It's my turn to put others ahead of myself. I owe her that much."
"Our Trelawney Rose is as good as they come," said Sylvia. "The storm couldn't get at Phoebe, and Maisie was born safely because of her. She knew how to set all of the guardians in place. And she did. But Phoebe herself has suffered a lot as well. In a couple of days when she's stronger I know that she'll want to see you. It will do her good to know that you'll be there one day to care for her sister as Dad does."
Liam smiled. Then they heard the baby cry.
"Someone's hungry again," said Emmeline. "We'll see you later then."
Once Liam and Sylvia left, Emmeline went upstairs. She found Phoebe reaching into the cradle for Maisie. Hal was sound asleep beside.
"Do you need any help, love?" she asked.
"No, I can do it myself," she replied.
She gently lifted the child from the cradle, opened the hospital gown, and guided the baby's mouth to her breast. The infant grasped it immediately and began to suck. Emmeline had seen many infants nursing, but she was amazed by how contented both Phoebe and Maisie looked. Despite her weariness, Phoebe was calmer and more at peace than Emmeline had seen her in a long time.
"Well, it looks like your husband can sleep through anything," she commented.
"Hal was up almost all night with the baby and I," Phoebe defended him. "He hasn't had decent sleep in a while."
"True," she replied. "This morning he was up and very awake and happy. Catherine and Trelawney came to visit, but you were asleep so they just peeked in. Trelawney is just thrilled. I haven't seen her so happy since before . . . well, since before."
"I know," said Phoebe softly. "I feel the same way. But I believe that Prudence was also a visitor."
"Ah, yes," she replied. "She was in the house and up the stairs before we could stop her. Poor Bernice chased her down the street. I could hear her squealing from downstairs."
"It was rather piercing in here," said Phoebe. "I'm afraid that Maisie didn't take to it too well, or Mrs. Morgan."
"Mrs. Morgan is exhausted as well," answered Emmeline. "She's still sleeping and I would like to let her sleep as long as she needs to."
"Yes, of course," said Phoebe. "But the family does want to see the baby."
"They can see the baby later or tomorrow," replied Emmeline with her usual practicality. "You need your rest. Hal and I discussed it, and Butch and Prudence will stay with his parents for a couple of days. That will give Prudence, anyway, a chance to calm down and understand what it really means to have a new baby sister in the house. And you know, if you had had a hospital birth, then the children wouldn't have been able to see you until you came home anyway. This way at least they can visit."
"I know that you're right," answered Phoebe. "But I do hate to disappoint her."
"She's waited months for Maisie to come," commented Emmeline. "A couple of more days won't hurt."
Maisie unlatched, but continued to root. Phoebe switched her around to the other side and she began to suck eagerly again. She cuddled her closer and began to stroke her little head.
"Little tyke has a good appetite, doesn't she?" asked Emmeline.
"Yes, she does," said Phoebe softly. "Mummy's little girl wants to grow big and strong."
Maisie reached up and grasped the breast with her hand. Mother and child looked into each other's eyes. Emmeline quietly got up and left them alone. Phoebe was so caught up that she didn't even notice. As Emmeline walked down the steps, the lights flickered on. Thank goodness, she thought as she snapped off the television that they had left on. She stopped for a moment and sat down in the living room.
Liam and Sylvia had a good point, when were they going to tell Phoebe that he was here, or the Professor for that matter? It was like a set of dominos. Once she knew that Liam was in town, she was going to wonder about Cholmondeley. At that point, lying to her was not an option. As for the Professor, should they tell him before her or with her? Most importantly, they did not want to wait too long so that she would find out by accident.
She thought of her father. He was probably the best one to consult on all counts. Even at a distance, he would surely have the knowledge and wisdom to guide them. And, she recalled ruefully, she had not always made the best choices when she had tried to solve problems in the past on her own. She then went into the study to make a phone call home. She certainly had a lot to discuss with Dad.
By the time that Tom and Rob brought Butch home, the house was very crowded. In addition to Rob, Catherine, and the three children, Liam, Sylvia, Tom and Bernice were there. Prudence and Trelawney were out in the playhouse, playing with their dolls. The structure was so sturdy that it was completely undamaged. Closing the shutters had insured that no rain got in. Butch was very unhappy when he saw the tree house.
"Man," he said. "We worked really hard to build that tree house."
"Well," said Rob. "I can help you build a better one."
Butch grumbled okay and then went up to his room to sulk.
"Not happy to have another sister, is he?" asked Liam.
"No he isn't," replied Rob emphatically.
"Well, I'll have a little chat with him in a bit," he said. "After all, I myself have three to cope with."
Sylvia looked at him doubtfully, but didn't say anything. Rob had a feeling that, like most older brothers, Liam's way of "coping" with his three sisters had been to tease them unmercifully. Then they all breathed a sigh of relief when the lights went back on.
"Well, thank goodness," said Catherine. "I was not looking forward to trying to get dinner ready without any power. And now we can call Ben and Bob."
"Uh, Catherine," said Sylvia tentatively. "Before you talk to Bob, there's something that Liam and I need to tell you."
"Oh," said Catherine. "What is that?"
"It has to do with the security guards that he hired last night," she hedged. The expression on her face was very serious.
When they had all sat down, Sylvia and Liam looked at each other anxiously, while Rob, Catherine, Tom, and Bernice waited patiently. Finally Liam spoke.
"I'll tell it, Syl," he said. "I was the one out there. Rob, Catherine. It's better if you know this before you talk to Bob. I am sure that he must know about it by now."
"Know about what?" asked Catherine.
"Last night," said Liam. "Topher, Mike, and I were in the yard between the Professor's house and Fowler's. We met Cholmondeley out there."
"What were you doing there?" asked Rob.
"We were worried because we suspected that he was there," he replied. "And if he was there, he was there to make trouble."
"What was he doing there?" asked Rob.
"He wanted to get into the house," he said. "And whatever he wanted to do was not good. He came at me with a gun. Topher was right beside me. The man was crazy, but he never got to fire a shot. One of those security guards shot him first. He's dead now. He can't hurt anyone anymore."
The four grandparents looked shocked. It was hard to believe that even as Phoebe was giving birth to a new life, another was ending in the yard next door. Even if the dead man had caused fear and pain for the two Figalilly girls, no one had thought that events would take this turn.
It was also difficult to believe that such a violent crime, accidental or otherwise could happen in this quiet little California suburban neighborhood. Rob thought of the press and what a "juicy" story this make. They were all silent.
"That's why Trelawney is so happy and peaceful," explained Sylvia, after giving them time to digest the news. "It's not just about the baby. She knows that she's finally, once and for all, safe. We've already talked to Emmeline. She knows. Hal and Phoebe don't know and we would like to keep it that way for a while."
"So that is what Trelawney meant when she said that the unicorn was quite defeated earlier today?" asked Catherine.
"Yes," replied Liam. "But we are not sure of exactly what she knows. She knows that he's dead and she knows that I didn't kill him. But she is suspicious of something. The little light went out of her face earlier. She's closing up again."
"Why did the security guard kill him?" asked Rob, more interested in the crime than the child at this point.
"He didn't mean to," answered Liam. "But he could see that he was about to shoot Topher, myself, or both of us. He aimed to knock the gun out of his hand but missed."
"What were you three doing out there?" asked Tom. "Or at least what did you think that you would do if you ran into him?"
"We had just had a visit with Auntie," he explained. "She was spewing forth her usual rubbish and I realized that something was about to happen at the Professor's. We didn't have a plan. We were just going to assess the situation, so to speak, and muddle through from there. So we drove over and there they were, Johnny and Cholmondeley. Out to make trouble according to Johnny."
"So how much trouble are you in?" asked Catherine anxiously.
"None at all," replied Liam. "We were all witnesses, but the fact of the matter is that Cholmondeley was trespassing and he was shot by a security guard who was hired to watch the house. The only reason that we went down to the station was that the weather was too bad for them to take our statements at the crime scene."
"Where are the boys?" asked Rob.
"They went home," he replied. "And I spent the night a Johnny's hotel. He's planning to go home as soon as the police release our passports. They just wanted to make sure that we wouldn't leave the country in case they had any more questions. I want to stick around a little longer to see Phoebe and the baby. Em isn't sure that she should know right away about the unicorn. We don't want anything to spoil her happiness."
"So what does all of this mean for Trelawney?" asked Catherine.
"Well, for one thing it means that she won't have any more nightmares," said Sylvia. "And Auntie is going to have to give up prognosticating doom and gloom for her, especially with regards to Phoebe and the baby. The baby is here safely and everything is back to normal, so to speak."
"Why do you say, so to speak?" asked Tom curiously.
"Well there's a new member in the family," replied Sylvia. "That will shake things up a bit. On a happier note, how did Hal respond to the news that he had a new sister?"
"He's thrilled," said Rob with a smile. "He was very worried last night because of the storm, but he was glad to get our phone call. He is enjoying his program very much, but he is also looking forward to coming home Saturday and seeing the family again. As always, he was worried about his Mom."
"Yes," added Tom. "And I was able to assure him that everything went well."
"We're all glad about that," said Bernice warmly. "But you must be exhausted, Tom. How would you like it if I drove home?"
"Sounds good," he admitted. "I am very tired and am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight."
"Are you sure that you don't want to stay for dinner?" asked Catherine. "And Bernice, you haven't seen the baby yet."
"I can wait a couple of more days," she said. "Maybe we can come down on the weekend when Hal comes home. And by then it sounds as if some of Phoebe's relatives will have left so there won't be such a crowd. I wouldn't want to see her overwhelmed."
"If you like," she replied. "But you're welcome anytime."
"We know that," said Tom. "But like I said before. I am just looking forward to getting home."
"Thank you for all of your help," said Catherine warmly. "Both of you were such a comfort to have around. And I don't know what we would have done with Prudence without you, Bernice. I know that both Hal and Phoebe appreciate it."
"Yes, I know," replied Bernice equally warmly. "But it was no trouble. It's just nice to feel like we're part of the family again."
"Well," said Tom, clearly eager to leave now. "Let's say our goodbyes to the children and be on our way."
Liam went upstairs to hangout with Butch. He had a few things to tell him about dealing with little sisters. Rob was hopeful that they would hit it off so that Butch might stop sulking. Also, the way that he was counting beds Butch and Liam would probably end up as roommates for a couple of nights.
After Tom and Bernice left, Rob called up both Bob and Ben. They were very happy to hear that their new niece had been born safe and sound in spite of the storm. Bob had heard from the security company about the shooting but he told them not to worry. Their lawyers would work out a plea with the DA so that there would not be a trial and hopefully no publicity.
When he got off the phone, he turned around to find Trelawney at his elbow. She was standing beside him with her doll in her arms and looking serious.
"Mr. Everett," she said. "May I please call Pastor Jason now? Mama Kate said that I might when the power returned."
"Of course," he said gently. "Is everything okay?"
She looked at him oddly.
"It is and it isn't," she said. "I would very much like to speak with him."
"Yes, I understand," he replied. "Whenever he can see you, I will drive you over."
"Thank you very much, sir," she said.
Rob walked into the kitchen and saw Catherine and Sylvia preparing dinner. Prudence was theoretically helping, but she seemed to actually be underfoot. No doubt this was because Trelawney had left her to make her call.
"Trelawney is calling Pastor Jason," he said.
"Good," replied Catherine. "Liam was right. Something is still going on with her. Hopefully he can help her."
"I told her that I would drive her over whenever he could see her," he commented.
"That's fine," she said. "I can always hold dinner for you both."
"When do I get to see Mommy and the baby?" asked Prudence.
"I will call Emmeline when Trelawney gets off the phone," she replied. "We have to go down to get some of your overnight things anyway. Perhaps we can get the timing right and you can see them then."
"I promise to be very quiet," she said. "And not disturb them."
"We know," answered Catherine. "But if they are sleeping it won't do you much good will it? I am sure that the baby is waking up every few hours to nurse."
"Mr. Everett?" asked Trelawney, as she came walking into the room. "May you please drive me to see Pastor Jason?"
"Yes of course, dear," he said. "Now?"
Sylvia walked over to her, held her by and the shoulders and looked into her eyes.
"Is everything all right, little one?" she asked gently.
Rob watched as Trelawney looked back at her. After a moment, Sylvia put her arms around her and patted her back. The little girl hugged her tight and then turned away and looked at him. Without a word she went out to the car. Rob looked at Sylvia.
"Is everything okay?" he asked with concern.
"It will be," she said. "She is confused about some things. Pastor Jason will help her."
"Where did the new doll in the dollhouse come from?" asked Prudence suddenly.
"It was a gift from her Auntie Anna," replied Sylvia.
"Oh," said Prudence. "I asked her if I could play with her and she said 'no.' She said that the doll was for Maisie."
Rob and Catherine looked at Sylvia with a bit of their own confusion. Sylvia seemed to be thinking.
"I brought the doll from London at my Mum's request," she said carefully. "However, it was because Auntie Meg left a letter with very specific instructions. Prudence, you need to remember that the there are reasons why the dollhouse is very special to Trelawney. Even I cannot play with her."
"Oh," said Prudence. "I thought that it was because she was afraid that I would break something."
"No," replied Sylvia. "You know how Trelawney is about her things. She's private. You just need to let her be sometimes."
"Okay," said Prudence.
Rob went out to the car where Trelawney was waiting. She was sitting quietly with her doll, Tessa, on her lap. It seemed odd to Rob that she had her because he had never seen her take her out of the house before to go anywhere other than her sister's house. She really did seem to have closed up inside of herself about something. He hoped that Pastor Jason could help her before she saw Phoebe again.
Pastor Jason was not surprised when Trelawney called asking to speak with him immediately. He had already spent several hours with Topher and Mike, reviewing with them the terrible scene that they had witnessed. They needed to talk, but most importantly they needed to talk with someone who was not going to judge or lecture them for taking such a great risk by walking unknowingly into a very dangerous situation. They had taken that great risk for their love of a little girl who needed them. Because of the admonishments of Liam, they could not tell their parents the worst of it.
First it was Topher who had declared that he wanted to talk to him. Janet, being Janet, was still so upset with him that she was only too happy to let Topher come over. Jason knew that she blamed him for encouraging her son to follow his "better angels" so to speak. She was just as happy to get him out of the house so that she could have a chance to cool off.
On his way over, he picked up Mike. Lois was less angry and more concerned about her son. She also was only too happy to let him go along with Topher if they thought that it could help them both. Lois knew that whatever he had seen had disturbed him deeply. He needed to figure out how to make peace with it.
Jason knew that he needed to have the boys talk about the most traumatic part of the experience, seeing the unicorn bleed to death before their eyes. Enemy or friend, it didn't matter, watching another human being die is a horrendous sight. In this case, the violence of the crime made it all the more horrible. Neither of them had thought, when they went out to protect Trelawney that anyone was going to die. Of course neither of them had given any thought to what they would do if they came face to face with the unicorn.
Jason was regretful that they had been drawn into the whole mess, but without them, Liam would never have learned what he needed to make the girls finally safe. Having them talk the whole matter through with him had begun the very necessary healing process. They would both also need to talk to Trelawney, but neither of them was ready for that yet. Nor was she.
Trelawney entered his office quietly with Rob. She sat herself down in front of his desk with her doll on her lap. Rob looked at her for a second as if he wanted to say thing but then changed his mind and withdrew to the waiting area. He closed the door behind him.
"What can I do for you tonight?" asked Pastor Jason kindly.
"I don't know if you can do anything for me," she replied seriously. "I don't know if anyone can."
"That sounds serious," he said. "Why did you want to talk to me?"
"I am concerned," she said. "I am afraid that I killed the unicorn."
"Why do you think that you killed him?" he asked gently.
"If it wasn't for me, he wouldn't be dead," she said simply. She then bowed her head and clutched her doll tightly.
Jason looked at her with great sympathy. Poor little girl, she is finally set free from the evil that has been pursuing her for years and she takes the blame upon herself for the death of a man who committed a reprehensible crime. Not to mention the fact that if he hadn't been stopped, he would have committed more.
"Trelawney," he said. "I have just spent the afternoon talking with Mike and Topher about what happened out there. Both of them saw him get shot. Topher and Liam both tried to convince him to come back to the light. But he couldn't do it. Whatever had grabbed hold of him was holding him too tightly. It wouldn't let go. The situation was such that if the security guard had not shot him, he would have shot either Topher or Liam. He might have even gotten into the house. You wouldn't have wanted that now, would you?"
"Oh no!" she cried. "Of course not! But if it weren't for me then none of them would have even been out there! Why did it have to happen this way? I . . . I didn't really realize what happened until I saw Liam. He didn't tell me. I saw it in his mind. I saw the unicorn bloody and lying on the ground. It was all because of me! Why, Pastor Jason? Why?"
"You know better than to ask that question, little one," he replied. "No one ever knows the ways of God. And in a case like last night, you must remember that every person has free will. God did not want the unicorn dead. God offered him, through both Liam and Topher, the chance to surrender his horn and become like all the others. But he couldn't."
"Why not?" Trelawney asked.
"I do not have the answer to that question," he replied. "It is not allowed."
She looked back at him regretfully.
"Last night you played a very important role in making sure that the world was safe for Maisie to enter, and you know that," he explained. "I know that when you learned that the unicorn was defeated that you were happy."
"Yes," she said slowly. "Liam asked me to help him not kill him. He asked me to help him turn towards the light. So I did. I wanted him to come to the light. Why couldn't the unicorn die and let Cholmondeley come to the light? Topher helped too. He came forward. I know he did. Topher is a child of light too."
"Yes, he is," replied Jason softly. "But he doesn't know it. It is very unusual for one such as him to be a child light. But he is. He is going to be a very strong man someday. He has many gifts and a heart large enough to share them with all who needs them. Last night, he stood up to the darkness in the best way possible. He tried to snatch away a soul that it had grabbed. He wanted to bring that soul back to the light, to save him for God. But he couldn't. And neither could you. When human beings with free will are involved, nothing is ever certain. The light will not always defeat the darkness."
"Oh," said the child.
"You must remember, Trelawney Rose," he said. "That the children of light will always battle the forces of darkness, small and large. You must realize something else as well. Your Aunt's premonition did come true, even though most people will never know it. In the case of the unicorn, the darkness defeated the light. But no one can know that, except those who understand. There are very few can. You can never mention this to anyone. It is important to remember that the light cannot always win and will never win definitively. That is why we need the children of light."
"Yes," she said, now nodding in understanding. "I have much work to do."
"And remember," he said. "It is not bad for you to feel relief that this struggle in your life is over. You have played your role well in helping to bring another child of light into the world. I know that you will never rejoice in the death of another, but in a very real sense, Cholmondeley was also set free. We will never know that perhaps it was his choice to end his life as he did."
"I suppose that you are right," she said slowly. "I guess that he will have to live many more lives to expiate what he has done."
"Only God has the answer to that, little one," he replied with a touch of sternness in his voice. "It is important to remember never to speculate about the workings of the mind of
"I'm sorry," she said sincerely. "I forgot."
"I know," he said with a smile. "Now ask me your other question."
"Pastor Jason, when may I return home to my Phoebe?" she said quietly. "The Professor wants me to come home, and so do Phoebe and Maisie."
"I know, Trelawney Rose," he said gently. "But the time is not right."
"When will the time be right?"
"You will know, little one. I promise you, you will know."
Trelawney nodded and knelt before him for a blessing. In her simplicity, she knew that she could only accept God's will and do it. When she lifted up her face, he saw the tears in her eyes. It was difficult to tell if they were for the past, the present, or the future. He took her face between his hands and willed the peace and strength of God into her little soul.
As she stood up and walked towards the door, turned around and looked at him one last time. Her aura glowed a deep, rich violet and the silver stars twinkled in it for a second. She smiled and walked out so that Rob could take her home. Jason smiled. This gentle soul was on her final journey home. And all those who met her along the way and appreciated her beauty for what it was, would be blessed.