2.17: It All Adds Up

Parental Advisory Explicit ContentGeneration 2 is Not Safe For Work and Not Suitable For Children.

 

600nts

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“So,” Annika began conversationally. “You guys left Ouroboros right after I was born?”

Natalia had served a delightful hot drink version of chocolate. Annika was drinking it slowly, savoring it with reverence. It didn’t quite come close to Colin’s rather creative ways of serving chocolate, but it was its own kind of chocolaty wonderful.

It was a quiet night at the Riverhaven house–comparatively, anyway. Alastair was away on business, the twins’ husbands were both working late, Sophie had gone out with friends, and 3 of the younger boys were on a scout’s camping trip. Annika had been amused to learn that they sometimes went camping for fun, to learn ‘wilderness survival skills’. Otherwise known to Annika as everyday life.

“That’s right. You and your sisters were only a few months old when we left, and Abel was barely a toddler,” Nicola confirmed. “Mother was pregnant. We never knew our youngest brother or sister,” she said wistfully.

“They’re twins. Drake and Archer, they’re a little younger than me, but not much. Pretty close to Chance’s age, I think.” Annika’s eyes settled on Chance, and he gave her an appreciative smile, which she ignored as she studied him. “So you’re 16?” she asked him suddenly.

“Almost 17,” Chance quickly corrected her.

“Drake and Archer just turned 17. And I’m almost 18,” Annika mused, thinking. She looked up at Natalia. “So you must have had him very soon after you came here.”

 

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“Well then!” Natalia jumped up and began reaching for the empty dishes left over from dinner, casting a helpless look at Nicola. “Let’s get this mess cleaned up!”

“Come on kids, help us get these dishes to the kitchen,” Nicola commanded firmly, rising regally from her seat.

Annika rose to obey, her mind still working. She hadn’t missed the look between the twins, or that the after-dinner conversation had been abruptly cut short in order to avoid answering her question. What did Chance’s age in relation to Drake and Archer have to do with anything?

 

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After the dishes had been carried to the kitchen, Nicola shooed them upstairs, ostensibly to do homework, but Annika’s was already done. Chance halfheartedly scribbled  and erased and scribbled some more at a paper he was supposed to be working on, though his eyes followed her around the room.

Annika settled on the window seat, her mind still stuck on the fact that the twins had acted so strange about her comments a short while before. “Who’s your father, Chance, do you ever see him?”

Chance looked up at her question, his brows drawing together in a rather stern look that was eerily familiar. “I don’t actually know,” he said, returning his eyes to the words he had been writing, after a glance at her chest. “Why does it matter?”

“But you were born here, right? Or rather, in Moonlight Falls,” she persisted. “Not long after your family moved there.”

“That’s what I’m told.” His pencil busily erased a line, then he bent over rewriting what he’d just erased.

He was just so familiar. Annika studied him, her legs swinging idly, then turned to look out the window. The window glass fascinated her. The wind was whistling along through the plants and shrubs and singing through the gables, but she felt not a whisper of it through the glass.

 

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I wonder why no one at home ever thought of this
. She touched her fingers to the cool pane, marveling at how well they kept the weather out. They were rather thin, though, and would probably break easily. Still, it’s better than just a leather flap over them in the winter. I wonder how hard it would be to get glass to Ouroboros.

The cushion on which she sat depressed as Chance sat next to her. “What’s so interesting about the window?” he asked, smiling indulgently at her apparent simpleness.

“The glass. We don’t have that on Ouroboros,” she replied, without turning her head. He was sitting very close to her, close enough that she could feel his body heat. She wasn’t entirely comfortable with that.

“No electricity, no running water, no window glass, no heat? I’m so glad I wasn’t born there,” he said, very near her ear. As if on cue, the radiator on the wall rattled into life.

Annika leaned away from him, her back against the wall, looking at him critically. Chance was certainly a good looking guy, and, being close to her age, they got along well enough. He’d introduced her to many of his friends at school and around the neighborhood. He was also, she found, quite popular with the girls, and, to her annoyance, very flirtatious. Ordinarily, she probably would have flirted right back, but there was something about him that left her feeling unsettled. Not to mention, his schoolboy moves weren’t that impressive.

 

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“Annie.” His eyes dropped pointedly to her mouth, then lower, as he leaned toward her.  Reaching for a lock of her hair, Chance blatantly copped a feel in what he no doubt thought was an incredibly smooth move. “I like you, Annika.”

Irritated, she glanced down at her hair between his fingers. His hair was very nearly the same color as hers and her sister Ashlyn’s, and quite different from the platinum and golden blondes of the Riverhaven family.

Suddenly, it hit her just what about him had seemed so unsettlingly familiar, from the moment she’d first laid eyes on him.

It can’t be.

Oh, but it can. His hair was a deep brown, nearly black, with highlights of russet and auburn. Just like her hair. Just like Ashlyn’s hair. Just like Carrick’s hair.

Abruptly she stood, to put some distance between them, looking down at him in disbelief and growing suspicion, her annoyance forgotten. “You’re the same age as Archer and Drake, who were born several months after your mom left Ouroboros. That means your mom either got pregnant right after she got here–or else, she was pregnant when she left Ouroboros. And you’ve never even wondered about your father?”

 

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He had the balls to look irritated. “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Who cares? Why are you so hung up on that? I’d rather talk about us!”

“Yes. Let’s talk about us.” She started laughing hysterically at the look on his face when it plainly resembled her brother’s angry face, an expression she knew all too well. “You don’t know who your dad is, but your mom is the same age as my older sister, who is only a little younger than my oldest brother, and you were born less than a year after your family moved here? It all adds up.”

“Right. So?”

“Do you know who Carrick is?”

“I’ve heard the name. And? What are you getting at?”

That’s who your dad is, Chance,” she looked him straight in the eye, the only part of him that resembled the Riverhaven family. “I’m your aunt.”

 

600nts
The Easter egg has been revealed, though I know many of you put two and two together long ago about what was up with Chance. For reference on when this happened, you can read that it was right before Alastair and the twins departed Ouroboros in 1.41: It Takes a Village. A complete family tree for the entire village can now be found in the site navigation bar.

As usual, apologies for the delay. This is such a short update, I meant to have it out weeks ago and indeed it’s been sitting finished except for the last couple of screen shots for almost two weeks now. Part of the delay has been putting together the baby registry–you have no idea how time consuming that is! And then planning the first purchases with my husband’s recent bonus at work. And lately there have been some issues with the pregnancy itself. Between researching the issues and just plain being depressed about it all, I’ve been rushing to make sure we have everything necessary onhand in case of early delivery and learning about preemie issues.

We’ll be returning to Jessie’s part of the story finally, something I have really been looking forward to, and that should motivate me to work a bit faster on the next update. I love my Jessie <3  Thanks for sticking with me.