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View Full Version : ***NEW***Seven Devils (future AU cast fic; multiple pairings)



UAgirl
12.9.12, 11:35 PM
Title: Seven Devils
Rating: PG for this prologue.
Warnings: none for this chapter.
Characters/Pairings: original character, Charity.
Summary: Come find me, a child's voice sings.




~*~

There's a forgotten church, tiny and white, tucked away in a field of purple wildflowers.


Gulls cry in the distance, waves roll and roar.


Tall grass kisses her fingertips as she wades through the green sea, tangy salt twines around the tip of her tongue.


A child giggles, plays hide and seek (Come find me), races ahead unafraid. Her hair lifts in the gentle summer breeze like pale ribbons of yellow silk, catches on the blades of grass, clings and lets go in the span of a single breath.


The sun is warm, bright. It wraps its arms around her in a loving embrace as she lifts her face to its gilded brilliance. She closes her eyes, lets the peace of the moment absorb into her very soul, breathes it in, like starshine and the wordless songs of angels. When she opens them again, she's staring into eyes wary and wise, and time stretches, slows, and she's simply mesmerized.


Come find me, a child's voice sings.


The deer startles, leaps into a forest, thick and green and secretive, blends into the sulky shadows.


A shock of red catches her eye, a ribbon dancing along the breeze, playful and elusive. It curls around her fingers when she captures it, smells sweet like youthful innocence and love. She smiles, watches the green sea ripple like water around her, part as she nears the church, finds a cheerful bouquet of daisies on the bottom step, lifts them to her nose.


They dissolve into dust, swirl away in a mischievous breeze grown bold, and the sun disappears behind an ominous gray thundercloud as the air grows electric, charged with tightrope tension.

The trees in the forest bend and bow low to the ground, cowed by some unseen, malevolent force.


The waves pound and punish the rocky shore, and the gulls scream in fear.


The church's doors blow open, its stained glass windows shatter, and lightning sizzles in the air.


Darkness descends, and she sees the little hand, just before it is wrenched away. (Come find me!). The ribbon winds tight around her bloodless fingers, and terror touches her heart with poisonous intent. Then there is nothing but blackness and her own galloping pulse, and a void that swallows everything, everything until she fears even she will disappear, like the daisies, like the child.


The silence, impossibly, maddeningly, echoes.


Charity wakes, choking on her own hushed screams.




~*~



So...are you intrigued yet?


Please let me know if you want to read more; reviews are welcomed and adored.


I've been writing this concurrently with Haunted and Once Upon Another Time, but I didn't want to bombard you with too many new stories at once, especially since I still have so many unfinished fics.


Obviously, my willpower is non-existent, lol, which is why you're reading this now.


I guess you could say I'm just trying to gauge if there's enough interest to even post it publicly. ;)


So...your thoughts on that?


Thanks so much for reading!

UAgirl
1.22.13, 2:50 PM
Title: Seven Devils, Chapter 1
Rating: PG
Warnings: slight language
Characters/Pairings: Fancy, Marty, Maria, Endora, mentions of Jane, Little Ethan, Jonathan, Kay, Simone, mentions of Miguel, Reese and Samuel, Noah, Whitney, Luis, Theresa, Pilar, Ivy, original characters and more.
Summary: Fancy's running late. So is Kay. Both of them have a lot on their minds. Noah finds himself pulled between his past and his future. Theresa bravely enters a new phase of her life, but it seems her past won't stay in the past. And don't forget the next generation.




~1~



The hanger seesaws back and forth when Fancy tugs her blue button-up from it, shrugs the shirt over shoulders that still pull and burn from her early morning workout. Hurrying into her bathroom, she squirts some paste onto her toothbrush, shoves it into her mouth. Her blue eyes round at her reflection, the damp blond hair she still hasn't had a chance to pull a brush through, the spidery red lines radiating out from her irises, the dark smudges above her cheekbones, but there is nothing to be done for it, because she's running late, and as a result, so is her kid. Speaking of her kid…


"Mom, I don't want to go. Can't I just stay here with Rufus?"


Two pairs of big coffee eyes stare up at her when she whirls around, two pleading pairs of eyes. But Fancy's heart can't be so easily swayed, not even when Rufus's tail twitches hopefully, and he matches her son's whine with his own canine version. "We've already talked about this. Rufus is a Labrador retriever, a great play-date but not a babysitter. We're not doing this all summer."


Her son's chest puffs up indignantly, and twin spots of color appear on his cheeks. "I'm not a baby, Mom."


Fancy spits her toothpaste out before answering him, grabs her badge off of the porcelain counter and tucks it into her back pocket. "I know you're not a baby, Nicholas, but you're still not skipping out on the field trip today."


"It's just a lighthouse, Mom. I've been to Lighthouse Park thousands of times," the boy grumbles, follows dejectedly on her heels. He shoulders his backpack as she snags her purse off of the kitchen table, bends to scratch Rufus between his ears.


The Lab's tail thumps contentedly, and he gratefully gulps down the chow Fancy pours him before she points at the door with her keys. "Wait for me in the car. Have you seen my phone? Nicholas?"


The seven-year-old shrugs, won't speak to her. He doesn't speak to her the entire way to the Youth Center, and doesn't even acknowledge her when she gestures for him to smooth down his rumpled brown hair.


"You haven't seen the lighthouse in Castleton," Fancy tells her mulish son as she pulls into the closest available parking space, rolls her window down. "And you haven't been to the new aquarium either."


Nicholas releases his seatbelt and a sigh, waves half-heartedly at one of his schoolmates as he passes by the idling car, and reluctantly climbs into the front passenger seat over the center console when she beckons him.


They both startle when a familiar voices pipes up in cheerful greeting.


"Hi, Mrs. Lopez-Fitzgerald."


Jamey Ketchum's green eyes twinkle at Fancy behind the thick lenses of his glasses, and his wide, generous mouth opens in a friendly grin. He absently twists and curls the tip of his tongue through the gap left behind by his missing baby teeth, and a passing thought seizes Fancy's flit-about attention (she's running late, her son is sulking, did she leave the coffee pot on, his poor parents…the Tooth Fairy must have been pulling double shifts at the Ketchum house lately, oh God, the Tooth Fairy, Nicholas's tooth!). "Jamey," Fancy finally manages.


"Hi, Nickel."


"Hey, Ketchup," Nicholas grumps, bends to grab the backpack at his feet. He slumps back in his seat when Fancy rests a hand upon his bony knee. "Mom," he protests. "You're not going to kiss me again, are you?"


"You can kiss me, Mrs. Lopez-Fitzgerald," Jamey offers hopefully, blushing to the tips of his fire engine red hair when Nicholas glares at him. "Sorry," he mutters, taking a stumbling step back and staring down at his sneakers. "Kisses are for babies anyway."


"Maybe some other time," Fancy promises with a distracted smile. "Why don't you go ahead?" she gently suggests. "Nicholas will be right behind you."


Ketchup zips ahead, his worn-out Avengers backpack bouncing against the backs of his stubby legs. When he makes it to the Youth Center's door and catches up with his older brother, he turns and waves again before disappearing inside.


Fancy shifts in her seat, eyes her silent son. Her fingers itch to comb back the stubborn lock of hair falling into his eyes, but they stay strong, they relax and let go of his knee. She forces herself to clear her mind of all its jumbled thoughts and approach this as she would one of her investigations, piece together the facts, and her heart sinks somewhere in the vicinity of her knees when the clues start to stack up and make more sense. "You aren't really upset about the field trip. You're upset about Dad."


Nicholas shrugs, but there's no conviction in the gesture, and his small fingers twist in the straps of his backpack.


"Nicky," Fancy pushes.


"Mom," the little boy whines back. "Don't call me that," he pleads.


Fancy wisely backs down, gives her son the space and time he needs to gather his thoughts. More cars pull into the parking lot, children of various ages spilling out of them and racing inside the Youth Center's open doors. She tenses involuntarily when she sees her stepson arrive in Luis's old jeep, jump out, and herd his little sisters toward the entrance. Her straying attention snaps back to her young son when she realizes he's speaking.


"They'll know, Mom."


"Know?" Fancy questions. "Know what?"


"They'll know that Dad moved out. That he's divorcing us," Nicholas explains miserably.


He looks so small and so distraught, Fancy contemplates putting the car in reverse and taking them both back home for a day of cartoons and his favorite ice cream. It's a consideration that passes quickly. The old Fancy would have done so without a second thought, but the old Fancy doesn't exist anymore. Marriage and motherhood have matured her into a better version of herself, one Fancy much prefers, and with the possibility of single parenthood looming in her future, she can't afford to blow off her job, a job for which she's now hopelessly late. "We talked about this, Nicholas. Separation is not the same as divorce." Even if it's just stalling the inevitable, her brain oh-so-helpfully shouts. "Besides, nobody will know Dad moved out unless you tell them, okay?"


Nicholas sighs again, a mournful, disbelieving sound, but he agrees with her, reaches a hand out to open his door. "Okay," he mutters. "Mom!" he cries out, embarrassedly scrubs her kiss away when she grabs him by the arm, pulls him to her, and plants a quick kiss on his smooth cheek. "Yuck!"


"Too minty?"


"Too girly," Nicholas complains.


Fancy smirks. "If you guys get back early…"


"I know," Nicholas interrupts her. "Ask Little Ethan if I can ride home with him and Jane and Jonathan. Mom."


"Okay," Fancy relents. "Go on before we're both late. Love you." Nicholas looks around to see if any of his friends are in hearing distance before he answers, but the words are just as sweet as the first time Fancy heard them tumble from his little mouth.


"Love you, too."



~*~



"Tomorrow, I'm definitely going out and getting a real job," Maria vows as her cousin slides into the shabby-looking seat directly in front of her and Endora on the bus, drapes his arm over it. "I don't even babysit Sam for free. Chaperoning sucks."


Marty's lips twitch, but he doesn't say anything. He rarely does, hasn't since the summer his step-dad disappeared, just up and left Marty and his little sisters and his mom. He saves his words, rations them, only hands them out when he has something smart to say, or he's taking care of his little sisters (or teasing Endora).


Maria sometimes wonders what happened to her uncle Antonio, but she figures it's for the best that he's gone. Marty had never come right out and said it, but she had a feeling some crazy *** had gone down behind closed doors at his house, the kind of *** that permanently twisted your stomach up in knots. "At least the Seascape pays."


Marty rolls his blue eyes, stretches his arm out, taps the crinkled page of the book Endora has her lightly freckled nose buried in. "Good book, Bewitched?"


Maria rolls her eyes back at him, nudges Endora with a sharp elbow to her ribs. "You going to let him insult you like that?"


Endora smirks, shuts the dusty old tome-like book and stows it away inside her ugly, voluminous brown bag that would make Mary Poppins proud. Like Marty, she doesn't say much, has never said anything at all, really.


Still, Maria understands Endora better than she's ever understood her aunt Theresa, and Aunt Theresa speaks enough words for everybody in Maria's opinion. Of course, her opinion is often ignored. "What was the head count?"


"Thirty-five," Marty tells her, stretches his long legs across his seat and props his sneakers against the opposite, vacant seat.


Maria bumps the back of his denim-clad knee with the toe of her gray Converses. "I call dibs on the Tweeny-boppers."


"You'll be stuck with Jane," Marty reminds her.


Maria shrugs, picks at her purple-tipped nails. "At least she's marginally interesting and can go to the restroom by herself. You and Endora can fight over the Potty Trainers." She scowls slightly when Endora pinches the tender skin of her inner elbow, but paints on a welcoming smile when she sees Marty's baby sister making her way down the moving bus's narrow aisle. "What's up, Gummy Worm?"


"Gemma," Marty scolds, straightening in his seat and tugging on the tiny girl's hand. "You know to stay put until the bus stops."


"But I wanted to sit with you," Gemma answers simply, while giving Maria and Endora a shy little wave and crawling underneath the protective wing of her brother's arm. She gazes up at Marty with adoring Bambi eyes, and it's clear to them all: Marty's toast, even before Gemma's next revealing statement. "'Sides. Nicky's being mean to me."


"What a surprise," Maria mutters, before Marty snaps his blue eyes to her in warning. To thwart her traitorous mouth, she busies her nimble fingers with straightening the ribbon hanging limply from Gemma's flaxen hair.


"Maria," Marty hushes her, pulls his pouting kid sister into his lap so she can better see out the window. "You can sit with me now, Gem, but when we get to the aquarium, you're in Endora's group. Okay?"


Endora smiles reassuringly at the little girl, her blue eyes fairly twinkling with mischief, and Gemma's pout effortlessly melts away.


Maria digs through her purse, finds a stick of gum beneath the pack of cigarettes her mom doesn't know about, breaks it in half. She offers it to Gemma with a few words of advice. "Don't swallow it, and please, don't use it as a hair accessory." She offers the other half to Endora, pops it into her own mouth when she refuses it with a subtle shake of her head. "That is one experience I'd rather not relive." She zips her purse back up, plops it down on top of Endora's monstrosity, and leans her head back against her seat as the bus bumps along Highway 28. Gradually, the noise level inside the bus inches up, decibel by decibel, as the kids get more excited and Maria's thoughts start to bounce like pinballs within the confines of her skull. She raises one of her legs up, presses her cheek against her knee as she reaffirms her earlier vow, "Tomorrow, I'm definitely going out, putting in some applications."



~*~



"Sorry, sorry," Kay mutters as she clatters up the Bed and Breakfast's steps, jiggles the heavy ring of keys in her palm. "I couldn't find my jacket, then I remembered I let Maria borrow it for career day at school." She readjusts her purse strap on her shoulder, stands back to let Simone enter the cramped antique shop ahead of her, continues her monologue as her friend/business partner sets about readying Grace's Treasures for another slow day of business. "I briefly considered calling in bomb-sniffing dogs. Tell me our bedrooms weren't that bad when we were her age."


"Worse," Simone answers her with a sly smirk, stowing her own purse inside one of the drawers of the ancient mahogany desk that serves as their check-out counter. She captures the keys Kay tosses her, unlocks the cash register. With a quick glance down at her own colorful but casual attire then at Kay's trendy blazer and charcoal slacks, Simone teasingly remarks, "Guess I missed the office memo."


Kay rolls her eyes, talks around the silver hair tie held loosely between her teeth as she gathers her dark hair into a low, messy ponytail, "No memo. I have that meeting at Crane Industries today. Remember?"


Simone shakes her head, her dark eyes clouding over with confusion. "What kind of meeting?"


"Something to do with the board," Kay shrugs. "I'm not really sure. Your mom called me personally, told me I shouldn't sit this one out."


"Sounds interesting," Simone comments.


"You're lying," Kay laughs, rubs absently at her hip where the sharp corner of the desk's edge digs in. "Corporate intrigue always bored you."


"I still don't know why it's called corporate intrigue," Simone admits as she takes a seat behind the desk, nibbles the edge of her breakfast, a warm blueberry scone swiped from the Bed and Breakfast's kitchen. "It should be called corporate snooze-fest."


"It's Dallas. Only without the oil," Kay says, holds out her hand, palm up.


"Get your own," Simone waves her off, her earrings tinkling musically as she shakes her head. "I'm starving. Wasn't that show on before either of us was born?"


"Just one little bite," Kay bargains as she opens up her laptop, powers it on. "That was the old version. I'm talking about the next generation version, the one with the guy that looked like Miguel."


"Personally, I never saw the resemblance." Simone tears off a tiny piece of the scone, changes her mind when she realizes Kay's reluctance to seek out her own breakfast has more to do with Reese Durkee and her avoidance issues than any false semblance of laziness. "You can't avoid him forever, you know. Especially if he decides to stay in Harmony with Sam permanently."


"I'm not avoiding him, Simone," Kay argues. "I'm trying to protect him."


Simone nearly chokes in surprise. "From what? A friendly cup of coffee?"


"From me," Kay answers, looks away from her friend, tugs self-consciously at her sleeves. "From the mess that is my life. Miguel and I…"


"Are divorced," Simone cuts her off. "Have been for a while now, even if you don't always act like it." She shakes her head, changes the topic, slightly. "Are you really so surprised Maria's acting out? I don't even understand what you guys are to each other anymore, and I left sixteen behind forever ago."


Kay pulls up the Harmony Herald's main page on her internet browser, taps a few keys. "Miguel and I…it's complicated, Simone," she sighs. "I've loved him since I was a little girl. Reese knows that."


"You're not a little girl anymore, Kay," Simone sagely reminds her. "And neither is Maria. It's time for you and Miguel to let each other go, once and for all. No more overnights."


Kay bites the inside of her cheek, hard enough to draw blood, bold and coppery against the tip of her tongue, and mumbles, "I don't know what you're talking about."


"Sure you don't," Simone mutters back, bends to the power of Kay's falsely innocent blue eyes. She dangles the remainder of the scone in front of Kay's face, peers over her slim shoulder at the glowing computer screen. "Not that damn blog again."


"Who doesn't love The Harmony Hawk?" Kay quips. She pops the pastry in her mouth with a moan of gratitude and chews, scrolls down the page in search of her newest entries.


"You're so going to Hell for that garbage," Simone shakes her head as she nudges Kay over so that she can better read the newest blind item. Barely a sentence in, she gasps aloud. "No! You can't be serious. He's at least a hundred years old."


"He has a pulse, power, and a passion for alcohol. Everything Esme looks for in a man," Kay smirks. "I just hope she doesn't finagle her way into his state Senate seat once he's dead and buried. I don't think the world is prepared for Esme Does Politics. Speaking of, you'll never guess what my idiot brother is up to now."


"Which one?" Simone mutters.


"Ouch," Kay cringes. "Tell me how you really feel. I thought you were okay with Whitney and Noah dating."


"I was," Simone answers. "I am," she rushes to explain when Kay appears ready to rise to her favored brother's defense. "I just don't know…I think maybe…"


"Simone, just spit it out."


"I just don't think he's over her."


Kay grows serious, thoughtful. "Losing Paloma like that, no one expected it. I still can't believe it's been almost five years. Sometimes, it feels like it was just yesterday," she admits. "But I know my brother, Simone. He might not be completely over Paloma. He might not ever be. But that doesn't mean he's not capable of caring for someone else. We don't all shut ourselves off to the possibility of love once we've been hurt."


Simone takes her gentle criticism on the chin, inwardly concedes her point, but she doesn't back down from her own conviction. "I'm not talking about Paloma."


"There isn't anybody else…no. Just…no. Simone, you're wrong," Kay insists.


"If you say so," Simone says with a skeptical shake of her head.


"I say so," Kay grumps. "Leave it at that." But she knows Simone. A change of topic is definitely in order, so she slyly slips in a question that has her more than a little bit curious anyway, one she knows Simone will spare no details in answering. "How are the roomies?"




~*~

Unobserved, Whitney watches Noah at work, studies his still boyishly handsome profile. Quinlan nods politely to her as he passes ("Morning, Doc." ), and Damon looks up and winks; Whitney merely smiles, steps aside to allow for a young officer leading a disgruntled drunk down to lock-up to pass. Still unnoticed, she ducks into the closet-like space of the break room, fills up two cups of steaming black coffee. Past experience lends her to pick up a packet of sugar or two for the bitter brew (she's inclined to agree with Noah; it really should come with a health warning), and she wanders back into the pit, finds that Noah is no longer alone.


It's Fancy that finally sees her, waves her over.


Noah's partner looks so harried, so stressed, that Whitney immediately places one of the cups of coffee in front of her, holds out the other one to Noah.


Noah's blue eyes crinkle at the corners when he accepts her gift. He disguises his grimace well when he takes the first sip from the styrofoam cup.


Fancy, on the other hand, is neither understated nor quiet in voicing her displeasure. She rips into the little pink packets, unceremoniously dumps the full contents of each into her steaming cup of midnight sludge. "This stuff's no better than battery acid."


"You have the personal experience to back up that statement?" Noah's grin is infectious.


Whitney barely has time to hide her own smile from Fancy before the other woman whips her head around, obviously looking for some show of support from her female brethren. She hasn't formulated a satisfactory response before Fancy's cell phone buzzes, and her attention strays.


"I should take this," Fancy apologizes as she stands up, lifts the phone to her ear.


The conversation isn't a pleasant one, Whitney can tell. "She's not having a very good day, is she?"


Noah's previously sunny expression clouds over, and he voices his concern as he shakes his head. "The hits just keep on coming." They watch Fancy duck outside, then Noah flashes another smile at Whitney, though it's much more muted than its predecessor. "You're a little early for our date, and there haven't been any stiffs 'round these parts in a couple of days, so…" He makes no attempt to pretend he's not fishing for information.


Whitney hopes he's more subtle during actual police interrogations. "Let me guess," she feels her lips curling into a self-conscious smile as she teases him, "you're the bad cop."


"Me?" Noah feigns insult. "I'm sweet as sugar, and don't you try to pretend otherwise, else you wouldn't have come all the way down here just to visit little ole me."


Whitney ducks her head, presses her smile back as she fingers the zipper of her purse. She looks back up when she realizes he's still talking.


"These days Fancy Pants leads; I follow. She has a lot of frustrations to work out lately," Noah explains. "You never did tell me what brings you by these parts."


"I didn't," Whitney agrees. "Just some paperwork that needed my signature. I actually should be heading out."


"Need a ride? I can give you your own personal police escort, right up to the hospital's front doors." He's closing out the files he'd been scrolling through on his computer, pushing his squeaky chair back without waiting for her answer. "I could use the fresh air anyway," he cuts off any feeble protests she might muster before she can get them out. "The *** 's getting awful deep in here," he says.


Whitney follows his blue eyes to Luis, hovering like an angry black cloud in the corner of the room, and Fancy looking just as thunderous as she pushes past a couple of hapless colleagues in her path, clips Whitney lightly on the shoulder as she shoves her way to her desk, snatches up her badge and tucks her gun in the back of her pants.


"I need to get out of here," Fancy snaps. "You coming?" she asks Noah.


"Whitney and I were heading out anyway," Noah falls into step behind her, his hand hovering over the small of Whitney's back as he propels her forward.


"I wouldn't want to inconvenience either of you," Whitney says, watches Noah convince Fancy to relinquish the cruiser's keys from her possession without uttering a single word. "Really."


"No inconvenience," Noah answers for Fancy, holds the
passenger door open for Whitney, gently pushes it closed once she's climbed inside.


"Really," Whitney timidly falters.


"Get in the damned car already," Fancy snaps from the back seat.


"You heard the lady," Noah leans over to whisper into Whitney's ear, curls his fingers around her elbow.


Whitney bites her lip, gets in the car.


~*~




"Thanks, Trish," Theresa mouths hello at her mother as she slips into the seat opposite her and her mother-in-law. The morning rush is winding down inside the Book Café, but most of the tables are still occupied, and with it being the first full school-free day of the summer, there seem to be children everywhere, lively and loquacious and looking for something to occupy their limited attention spans. "We won't be late," she promises her assistant before hanging up her phone and releasing a long, drawn-out sigh.


"The news conference?" Ivy questions, setting her coffee cup down after taking another sip.


"Had to be moved to 2:30 because of the board meeting," Theresa explains. "Then Ethan's sitting down, one on one, with Davinah Chase of WHMM. They're going to air the interview on the evening news." She gratefully sips at the coffee her mother slides across the table to her before continuing. "I still can't believe we're doing this."


"You and Ethan can still change your minds, Mi hija."


Her mother's hands are warm, strong as they cover her own. Theresa smiles calmly at her. "Ethan's not going to change his mind, Mama. He really thinks he can do some good for this town. I think so, too."


"A life in politics becomes a family affair, Darling," Ivy states sagely. "How do the children feel about their father running for mayor of Harmony?"


"Jonathan wanted to know if we would be moving to the White House," Theresa laughs. "Jane's not particularly thrilled at the prospect of her face being plastered all over the television and newspapers, but she's proud. Little Ethan's proud. I think they're okay with it."


"We're all proud, Mi hija."


"Yes, we are," Ivy agrees. "If only we didn't have to deal with Julian's nonsense today."


"Theresita," Pilar leans forward in her chair, clasps her hands in a prayerful pose as she regards her daughter. "Do you have any idea what this emergency board meeting is about?"


"No, Mama," Theresa frowns. "Neither does Ethan. But he feels it's important that we're all there, including you, Ivy."


"Those shares have been nothing but a nuisance to me ever since the divorce," Ivy sighs as she delves into her clutch for her ringing cell phone. "The only reason I kept them was to be the proverbial thorn in Julian's side, although, even that isn't as much fun as it used to be."


Theresa finds herself agreeing with a slight nod of her head. Glancing at the watch on her wrist when Ivy excuses herself to take the call, she takes a deep breath, forces herself to relax. There's still time before the meeting, before the press conference, before her ordinary world once again becomes something not ordinary at all. She's loved her quiet life with Ethan and the children these last few years, but she'd be lying if she didn't admit to a thrill of heady anticipation buried down deep with all of her other dormant dreams at the prospect of this new challenge, being the mayor's wife. "Thanks for letting us have the press conference here, Mama. Trish thinks we should distance ourselves from Ethan's Crane upbringing, make ourselves a more attractive package for the working class voters."


Pilar raises a thoughtful brow, quirks her lips as if to keep her words locked inside.


Though there was a time when Theresa would have appreciated her mother's restraint with her advice (oh, would she), now is not such a time, and she tells her so, in not so many words. "Mama. What are you thinking? Tell me."


Pilar shakes her head, picks up her own cooling coffee, avoids her daughter's imploring expression.


"Mama," Theresa persists, only backing off when Ivy returns, slips back into her seat across from her and glances from one of them to the other, with questions of her own lurking in her blue-green eyes. "Whatever you have to say, I can handle it. I'm a big girl," she promises.


"That's rather fortunate," Ivy tells her before Pilar has a chance to say a word. She calmly places her phone on the table and takes another sip of her coffee, effectively and unwittingly (although Ivy Crane Bennett always has her wits about her, so that can't be true) prolonging the suspense of her brunch
companions.


Pilar, surprisingly, is the first to break. "Dios Mio, Ivy. Explain yourself."


"Please," Theresa insists. Her anticipation has settled like a stone of dread in the pit of her belly, cold and unmovable, and she feels her palms start to sweat.


"It seems a reporter from the Daily Private Lives has preempted this afternoon's press conference about Ethan's candidacy for mayor and has a special greatest hits issue of all the past scandals he's been associated with planned. Yours and Ethan's past is about to become your present. I really hope you've prepared the children, not to mention yourselves, for this, Darling."


"Welcome to the life of politics," Theresa mutters. Welcome indeed.


~*~



First of all, thanks for the reviews on the prologue.


Reviews make me giddy, even if they're phrased as constructive criticism.


:)


Secondly, I apologize for the generic summary for this chapter. To really summarize would have taken most of the enjoyment (I certainly hoped you enjoyed the chapter, lol) out of the chapter. This is a building chapter anyway, so while many things are discussed or alluded to, not much has actually happened yet.


Thoughts, comments, questions?


Like I said, reviews make me absolutely giddy, so I'd love to find some in my inbox if you're so inclined once you've read the chapter.


The next chapter will follow directly after this chapter, timeline-wise, if not with a whole new set of POV's. I actually split my intended chapter into two, potentially three, chapters to avoid having the chapter be so long. I love long chapters myself, but I didn't want to intimidate you guys with the word count I was working toward, lol.


Now, for some specifics.


:)


Which storyline introduced in this chapter are you most looking forward to see play out?


Fancy's marriage troubles?


The mess that Kay and Simone hinted at in their
conversation, i.e. Kay's screwed up love life?


Theresa and Ethan's foray into politics in a town that knows (almost) all of their dirty secrets?


Or the trials and tribulations of the next generation so far, including the UA originals?


This chapter is only the beginning, as there's more to come with most of the other cast members. You know it wouldn't be a Shae fic without Sheridan, so we're definitely going to delve into what she's been up to.


Feedback is love!


I look forward to reading what you think.


Thanks so very much for reading