Dinner was served at the big family table when Fiona, Finn, and Sebastian joined Lucas at the table. Lucas smiled at all of them when they sat down, and he welcomed them to the table, which was funny since the table and everything in the house was now Fiona’s property according to Davina’s letter.
“Welcome to your first dinner in your new home, Fiona and Sebastian. Finn, this is your home too.” Lucas directed and welcomed everyone.
Finn found himself confused like he was missing a big piece of the puzzle. “What? What did I miss?”
“We are going to fill you in over dinner, Finn.” Fiona smiled at him, and she looked over to Sebastian, and said, “You will also learn about everything, sweet boy.”
Sebastian looked up at his grandmother’s face, and he smiled in a matter-of-fact way. He already knew the plan, but he sat quietly until the grown-ups had their conversation. Davina had told him a good majority of the information when she was still alive, but they had no idea. He was good at keeping secrets from his Gammy.
Fiona handed Finn the letter from Davina to start the conversation, and she sipped on the wine that was served at the table when they sat down. Lucas was a great host, and the wine was perfectly sweet to go with the meal, Filet Mignon with scalloped potatoes and garlic green beans. There was some bread cracked on the table with butter.
“It all looks delicious, Lucas. Thank you!” Fiona said with a warm smile.
Lucas nodded in agreement, and he concurred with Fiona by saying, “Absolutely! The cooks did a great job with it. You’re welcome!”
Fiona looked over to Finn, who had a look of shock on his face from the contents of Davina’s letter. He had stopped reading because his eyes were no longer flowing along with the writing on the page.
“She knew this was going to happen to her?” Finn asked Lucas.
“She definitely had a strong suspicion that Cole would finish what he started. The divorce papers probably sent him on a spiral and over the edge.” He concurred with Finn.
“That had to have been scary for her. I’m sorry Fiona.” Finn allowed his head to hang for a moment and brought it back up to listen to what else Lucas had to say.
Lucas continued, “She wanted to make sure that she could provide a place that would be secure for you—Fiona, Sebastian, and Finn—since he was her brother in the sense of marriage. She loved Brooke like a sister, and she cared about you as her family as well, Finn.”
“I…I don’t know what to say. It’s unexpected really.” Finn looked like he had swallowed a golf ball. Literally. His emotions were in his throat.
“It’s everything she wanted for all three of you.” Lucas smiled and looked over to Sebastian as he finished speaking. “She had to be sure Cole could never get to you, Sebastian.
Lucas explained everything in an educated manner. He was good about making the family feel Davina’s words through his lips. She was felt around the table that night, especially through Sebastian when he began speaking.
“Momma says that we will be safe in this new home. I keep her secrets to keep us safe. Secret save lives, remember?” Sebastian looked at Finn. “Momma said they would come for you first after she was in heaven with Auntie Brooke.”
Finn’s head hung lowly with grief again hearing Brooke’s name. He wished she could have been here with him, and that Davina was still around to see this little boy be one of the bravest boys he had ever seen.
Fiona sat listening to her intelligent grandson of only 4 years of age grow up well beyond his years in his speech at the table. He had so much of Davina’s spirit inside of him, and Fiona began to smile so largely that everyone looked towards her as Sebastian finished talking.
“Oh…dear…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to distract everyone. I was just seeing my Davina in him so much. So strong, Sebastian. I get more glimpses of your mother every day you get bigger.” Fiona leaned over rubbed his cheek with her thumb and gave soft pats of her hand upon his cheek.
“Gammy. We are going to be okay now.” He looked over to Lucas. “Can I tell them their new names, Luke?” He was excited.
“Sure bud…you go right ahead.” Lucas extended his hand out to Sebastian with the new paperwork for Finn and Fiona.
“Gammy…Lucas’s friend is a good Marshall, and hims called you Delilah Bowen.” Sebastian handed her the paperwork with his mother’s writing on the envelope. It read “Momma” in Davina’s penmanship.
He then skipped over to Finn’s chair, handed him his envelope that said “To My Brother—Finn” in the same penmanship as Fiona’s envelope. “Mr. Finn, hims said that you will be called Derrick Bowen.”
Sebastian then went back to Lucas and grabbed the last envelope from him. “My name will be Jasper Bowen. We are all a family with the same name, you see?”
Finn and Fiona sat amused at how resilient and brave this little man was…shockingly grown for such a young boy.
“Your envelopes will have a personal letter from Davina inside of them, along with your new identity papers. It would be best if you got used to using them instead of your birth names.”
He shoveled a piece of steak into his mouth and chewed softly. He then sipped on his glass of wine. The rest of the family followed suit, and they nibbled on their food in silence as well. It was a lot of information for the three of them to take in, but Sebastian, of course, was rock solid in emotions. He was happy to be Jasper. Finn still looked a little green, and Fiona was pale and sad while she looked down at her envelope, scared to open it.
“One last thing…” Lucas had one last envelope in his hand. It was thick and awkward shaped. “After dinner, catch your breath, and we will convene in the living area to open the last envelope.”
They all nodded, and the silence in the room was deafening. “I need to step away a moment. Is that okay?
“Of course…take the time you need.” Lucas stood as Fiona did.
She exited the table, grabbed a coat from the coat closet in the dining room, and stepped out of the French doors that led out to the upper veranda of the mansion. As she slipped her arms into the puffy winter coat, the snow began to fall again.
She had thought about and imagined this moment for years, but she’d never expected that she be doing it without her daughter and living without Davina. She had always wanted to have her own home after the relocation to Indiana, and it all felt more like a dream than reality. The algid air smacked her in the face while she embraced her situation. It was so chilly, and the wind was biting against the snowflakes, but Fiona opened her mouth to taste them. The icy flecks melted in her mouth as she stood out on the balcony of the mansion.
It had been snowing all night, and the weather did not indicate it would stop anytime soon. She needed the fresh air and time to think. Fiona looked around the estate and could not believe that her daughter had obtained this property working at Boo’s and The Verve. There had to be more than someone involved was not telling her. Fiona was so used to peripatetic living since being moved into protection that she could not imagine having a home again, a permanent one at that. She looked around at the perfectly placed trees along the long driveway up to the highway, and she knew that she would be able to see people coming from nearly a mile away. She was finally safe again. Her words kept echoing in her head as she thought, this is your life now Fiona…I mean Delilah, in the third person, of course. She had only wished that her instincts were better to know the cluster of mishaps that were to come due to one family that never ceased to repulse her. Those Devilles had really screwed up life for Fiona’s family, and she would never forget that. As the thought lingered in her mind, she looked back at the French doors that opened behind her, and it was Finn coming to join her in the snow.
“Hey Fi…it’s beautiful out here, huh?” He looked around almost in the same manner as Fiona when she first came outside.
“It is. I just don’t know how she afforded this place. The names…the…everything. How did I not see what was happening? It has me questioning if I even knew my own daughter.”
“I think she worked her ass off to make sure that no one knew what she was doing. There’s no way that you would have known. You knew her better than anyone on this planet, besides Sebastian.” Finn consoled her the best he could when he noticed her shaking.
Fiona found comfort in his efforts, “And…apparently Lucas too!”
She shrugged bitterly until Finn stepped closer and pulled her in for a hug, with his hands pulling tight right above her callipygian rump. It was an intimate hug.
“You have to stop beating yourself up for all of this. Davina did as she wanted. She has always been that way.” He stepped back from the embrace and looked her in the eye. “This, all of this, it’s not on you! She took the burden of it all to make sure you never had to.”
“I suppose your right…Thanks, Finn. You have been so good to me and Sebastian. I see why she chose you to shelter-in-place with us. You’re a rock star when it comes to caring about people.”
“It’s easy with you guys. I’ve known you all of my life, damn near.” This scenario felt awkwardly good to Finn. He missed having a family.
“Sebastian is doing well with all of this, ya think?” She was worried about him adapting so well.
“I think he was taught how to cope with the loss of her,” Finn explained. “She had everything planned out to the second she was no longer able to care for him. Eerily so.”
“See, I was thinking of it like that…on a creepy level. Lucas is too perfect, and Sebastian knows way too much. Why would she subject him to such grown business at such a young age?” Fiona was frustrated to the hilt.
“She knew what she was doing in a crisis like this, Fiona. He is resilient. He melds into his life perfectly, and Davina is the one that taught him to be that way, for his own good. Don’t be too bitter about it. She did what she thought was right…no matter how hard it is for you to accept.” Finn looked at her with a caring expression. “I don’t mean to overstep my bounds.”
“No, you are right, Finn. I just think this is all too much. She would have found so much joy in seeing Sebastian so happy. She knew she did not want him to end up like Cole, cold-hearted and a machine, and she successfully completed that task. She broke the cycle of abuse. He’s brilliant and kind. He loves people. He cares.” She rubbed her arms to try to warm them up and crossed them with a shiver. “I feel good about this, your being here…it’s good.” She nodded and looked back out to the road turning white with snow.
Finn did one of those “Aw, shucks” kind of smiles off to the side of his mouth and scratched his head underneath his beanie. “Anything for you, Fi. Anything.”
Fiona actually blushed and smiled genuinely. “Oh stop! I don’t want to get all maudlin out here because my face would freeze.” She ended her playfulness with a wink, which lit up her smile even more to Finn.
They laughed together. Their breaths carried a white fog between them due to the frigid temperature out on the balcony. Finn was shivering, and Fiona’s lips were quivering with cold. She noticed his features differently. He didn’t look like a boy anymore to her. He was a man. A very attractive, single man. Her thoughts were a bit impure about Finn for a moment. She wondered if he saw her as an old lady…his friend’s mother. She shook off the thought, and Finn looked at her curiously.
“What was that? What were you thinking about? You drifted away for a minute.” He stared into her eyes, which did not help the situation for her.
“Oh…I was just thinking. Nothing important. You ready to go back in? I am frozen.” Fiona rested her gloved hand on the door handle to go back inside.
“Right behind ya, Fi!” He smiled.
She returned the smile and walked inside to the dining room. Sebastian was ready for Gammy to tuck him in, and Lucas was entertaining him with some old photos they had found in the house when they were cleaning up. Finn trailed in behind her, just like he said, and he pulled the beanie off his head.
“It’s cold as hell out there. I don’t think I will ever get used to this bitterness in the air. Arkansas was not near as cold.” Finn explained to Lucas while taking his coat and gloves off. He did a bit of a fumble with his gloves as he brushed by Fiona to talk to Lucas.
“It can drop below zero here, so there may be times you will need wood hauled in for the fireplace. There are some local numbers in the office. I have all the contacts you will need on the Rolodex.” Lucas seemed to have everything figured out. “You will still need to be careful. Security will be screening anyone coming in, but you just never know who they could send.”
“The positive side of that is the new identities. The house is in my new name. From what my letter said, the security has been paid for. She got a handful of people that volunteer their time from a free association for victims affected by domestic violence.” She explained to Lucas.
“She was so thrifty. That’s really great, Fi!” Finn commented until he was interrupted by a stressed-out little guy at his feet. He tugged on Finn’s arm and told him to “Shh!”
Sebastian walked up to Fiona after he left Finn and quieted her too. He was acting distressed. He curiously asked, “Luke, are you going to live with us too?”
Lucas looked at Fiona and then at Finn with a concerned look on his face. “Hey, buddy. I don’t think Mommy set it up that way.”
“That’s NOT fair!” Sebastian pouted and threw a tantrum, weaving around the room and acting like the world was ending. It was an outburst that would raise the roof of the big house.
Fiona went blank because she had never seen him act so folly and defiant before. “Sebastian! Stop that!” She was embarrassed. “What has gotten into you?”
Lucas came close to Sebastian and got down to his level. He did not mean to upset him in such a bad way. “Hey, know this, okay? …I love you. Do you know that?”
Sebastian came around a bit, sniffled, and said, “Then why are you leaving me?” He was unusually sassy in his response. “First, I lose my mommy, and now I lose my daddy.”
The sadness in the room multiplied, and Lucas looked broken for the first time since Fiona had met him. His face when white as a ghost, and then he looked sick with pain. Sebastian was indeed like a son to him, but it was never made official due to how the courts would look at the situation with Cole. Lucas knew that Cole would fight him tooth and nail, and it would only feed Cole’s frenzy of revenge tactics. Lucas would be the next hit on his list, that is if he wasn’t already.
“Oh, sweet boy…I wish you were mine. I really do. You are so smart and brave. Your kindness touches my heart in a way that no other person on this planet can.” Lucas explained to Sebastian as he held him on the floor to calm him, slightly humming as he rocked with him.
“You stay, Luke. Please!” Sebastian was emotionally wrecked.
“How about we talk about this some more tomorrow, big guy. You’ve had a long day and a really long week. Do you want me to tuck you in?”
“Yes, please. Will you read to me like before?” Sebastian was batting his wet eyelashes at Lucas.
Lucas was very good at his job, but the only books he could stand reading were law books and case studies. Sebastian loved hearing the legal jargon.
“Sounds good to me!” Sebastian hopped up from the floor and tugged Gammy’s pants to get her attention. “Is it okay if Lucas tucks me in tonight, Gammy?”
Fiona smiled down to him, “It’s perfectly okay. Are you okay?”
Sebastian smiled with a cheesy grin, “I am now. I’m sorry.”
“It’s going to be alright. Go on and get your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and wash your face. Lucas will be right in, okay?” Fiona swaddled him in a hug as she gave her orders.
Sebastian skipped out of the room and headed to do as his grandmother directed.
Lucas immediately started trying to apologize for upsetting Sebastian, “I’m so sorry. I did not mean to infer that he would never see me again or anything like that.”
Fiona interrupted him, “It’s imperative that you reconsider leaving. He loves you, and you may not be safe either. If anything happened to you, it would hurt us all.”
Lucas smiled at Fiona, “You mean you like me?”
Finn laughed under his breath at how corny Lucas was being due to the underhanded compliment she had just given Luke.
“Oh shush…yeah…okay. I guess you are alright.” She laughed a bit as she finished her statement. “Whether you believe it or not, Davina chose you, and so did that little blonde-haired boy.”
Sebastian had stuck around and was doing some eavesdropping because all three of them heard his little soft giggle out in the hallway beyond the dining room doorway. It had become a habit since they got to the new house. He couldn’t help himself. If it was a bank heist, and his giggle was the culprit…they all would have surrendered at the sound of his laughter.
As they all laughed together in dire times, the security phone rang. Lucas answered.
For my new readers, this is an ongoing story. I use several prompts to build on my novel, and their word prompts and challenges are linked, bolded, or italicized. Please be sure to visit them and show some love because without them I would not have nearly 50K words written in this novel.
Here are the previous posts:
Thank you to my fellow bloggers for inspiring this novel! This started from Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge (#FFFC)