I delivered Freya's birthday present the morning of the party, apologizing for the roughness of the telescope's design.
"It was the best I could do with the materials I had."
"No, it's perfect. I really appreciate it. Freya's going to love it. "
"It's the least I could do for all the effort you put into teaching my little terrors."
"Oh, come on. They aren't that bad."
Mandrake grinned at me, then continued,"What kind of materials do you need? Maybe I can help."
I shrugged, not sure what he would be able to do. It wouldn't hurt to mention it, though.
"Well, for starters, iron. Lots of it. There are plans for so many things in my books that call for it, but there's precious little of it to be found."
"Aha! It so happens, I've recently come across a transmutation spell in the old records. Let me see what I can do with it. I'll let you know if I figure it out."
With that settled, we all headed out to the playground for the double birthday party. I stopped short when I saw who my sister Ula had brought with her to the party - Valarian. She scoffed at my worries, claiming she had him completely under control. Also she was expecting his child. I didn't like it, but I didn't want to cause a scene at the party. Maybe she was right. Perhaps he'd changed. I doubted it, though. I'd have to keep my eye on him.
Meg is always after me about those silly birthday horns. So today I thought I'd make a big deal of it. Ezra just rolled is eyes at me.
Jaxon, Freya and Alick seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Later, Jaxon pulled out his guitar. Ezra danced with my baby sister Reva, while Mica and Lavender looked on.
And baby Kody amused everyone by howling at the moon.
Val did not appear to be amused when his pregnant girlfriend spent the whole evening dancing with Eagle.
It was a good thing I kept my eye on him, for eventually he caught Meg off to the side of the crowd and pulled out his wand.
I knew her pendant would protect her, but still, I was furious at him. How dare he try and ruin our party?
"What? Chill out, Wolf. It was just an.. er.. Good Luck Charm. Yeah. A Good Luck Charm. That's all it was."
I heard Eagle cackling inanely in the background, and suddenly in my mind I was transported back in time to the library cellar so many years ago, when the trouble with Val all began. Deja Vu. That's what Meg calls it. But this time it was different. No, I didn't hit him - though I wanted to. I just threatened him within an inch of his life and he took off running, his best buddy Eagle not far behind.
The next day Meg and I began her lessons again, in earnest. I'd taught her a little years ago, before four little boys demanded most of our time.
"That's right. Pretend I'm Val. Try to kick me in the head. Good job!"
After our workouts, I tried to teach her my meditation trick, but she couldn't quite get the hang of it.
At least I knew now she had another line of defense against our nemesis, if he should show his ugly face again.
Not long after the party, Mandrake showed up on my doorstep with several crates chock full of iron.
"Ah.. so. That transmute spell works even better than I thought. I think there's enough here to make me one too. And maybe even more."
I checked the crates and grinned at him.
"I think you're right. I'll let you know when it's finished."
After many long nights at the workbench, my newest project was complete.
I could hardly wait to show it off to Meaghan.
"And see here? The wood goes in the bottom here.."
"And the top heats up so you can cook on it! Isn't it fantastic?"
Meaghan wasn't super impressed. She likes her fruit parfait. But I on the other hand am thrilled that I won't have to sit out in the rain anymore if I want a good steak. I have a feeling I'm going to be using this thing a lot more than she will.
"What's up, son? You're being awfully secretive about that homework assignment."
"Oh.. ah.. it's not homework. I was.. er.. writing a letter to .. someone."
I had a pretty good idea who that 'someone' was, but I thought I'd play along.
"Oh yeah? Who?"
His face broke out into a love-struck grin.
"Umm. Freya! She so pretty, don't you think, Pa?"
"That she is, Jax, but pretty isn't everything. You know how her mother is. Just be careful, alright?"
My cautions fell on deaf ears. Some things a boy just has to figure out for himself, much as I would like to protect him.
He swore up and down it was true love.
"You were my age when you knew you were in love with Ma. It's the same for Freya and me!"
While this was true, and I did not doubt his sincerity, I did have my doubts about Freya, which I kept to myself for now.
We threw a small party for Jaxon when he became a young adult - just Rudy, Aster and Alick; and Mandrake, Sharee and Freya were invited. Sharee was her usually crazy self, and Freya seemed genuinely excited for Jax. But as soon as the celebration ended, I noticed the sudden disappearance of Ezra and Freya. Curious, I went searching.
I stopped short at the doorway to the living area. I knew it! That girl is bad news. Poor Jaxon. And what's with Ezra? I'm gonna have to have a talk with that boy!
Needless to say, there was considerable tension in the house for the next few days. But eventually, brotherly friendship won out, and the two of them agreed that they both would cool it with Freya - at least for now. I saw trouble still brewing on the horizon, however. Freya was the only girl their age on the island, and I didn't know how long this truce would last.
Meg and I continued our lessons, and she was finally beginning to understand how to meditate.
I'd been waiting for this moment for a long time.
"Concentrate.. that's right. Now visualize the underground hot spring..."
That's right. I had an ulterior motive - getting my Meaghan alone for the first time since Kody was born. And what better place than our own private hot spring?
"Do you remember the last time we were here?" she grinned at me.
The night held bittersweet memories for me.
"Mm hmm.. it was the night we made Jaxon."
"You know what we should do? Do you want to try once more for a girl?"
I knew, even though she loved our four boys, Meg had always wanted a girl.
And I never could say no to my precious Meg...
It was a night to remember - let's just put it that way.
We anxiously awaited the day we would find out if we finally got our baby girl.
We were all overjoyed to welcome baby Jayne into the world. She was a sweet baby, and soon grew into a beautiful little girl.
We gathered in front of the house, ready to head to the star room once again. It was time to show Kody and Jayne the mysteries of the moving stars and teach them their legacy - to record their movements long enough to discover the pattern hidden there. Ezra was having a bad day, full of teenage angst, but I knew they were all good kids, and would someday make us proud.
This is the end of Andrae's story. The Second Degree of Separation will begin as soon as I can get my mods updated for the new patch. I want to use the new lot tool that lets you place a lot over water, for the next generation. Who will it be?? Gee, I wonder. There's Alick, but I just got done with a werewolf story. There's Jaxon, Ezra, and Mica - but that's more werewolves and genies. Hmm. Everyone else is still babies and children. Except for that little fairy/witch hyrid flirt, Freya. :D