Please read Chapter 16 here.
Chapter 17: Family Dinner and Taking Down Talise
“John” Nina said. They were holding hands while he drove the Mercedes.
Nina bit her lip, “I thought we were going to The Hourglass for dinner with Rianne and your brothers. We’re not driving anywhere near the harbour. Otherwise, we would have been at the restaurant already. Where are we going?” John looked and Nina and she couldn’t tell what he was thinking about but he was looking at her thoughtfully.
“I like your hair like that,” John complimented Nina. “Oh, um, thanks hon. But you haven’t told me where we’re headed. We’re out in suburbs somewhere, I don’t recall the neighbourhoods we’ve been driving through.” John couldn’t help but smile.
“Well, you wanted to go out for dinner and to look for a way to stop Talise from hurting us. I thought the best place we could go for dinner was actually to my parents house.”
“Your parents?!” Nina squeaked. “Already?” John chuckled.
“Mom and Dad are great Nina and they’re interested in meeting both you and Rianne. It’s been over three months for us so I don’t think it’s too soon for you to meet them considering how I feel about you. Plus, you wanted to have us altogether to attempt to find someway to defeat Tia. My Dad is a Professor in English. He specializes in fairytales and folklore at Adare University. I thought with his background, he would be an incredible help to provide us with some information that could help us defeat Tia.”
“Oh I see,” Nina said. ” I still wish you’d told me before now thoug. I don’t appreciate you springing something like this on me. However, it makes sense that your Dad probably has a bunch of books on fairytales and knows the best places to look first for information on sea witches. Perhaps, there are stories about them from back in Adare’s history.”
“Exactly,” said John, “I also have a worrisome feeling that nothing terrible has happened around me in over three months Nina. The curse isn’t broken, it’s merely on hold. I think if something bad were to happen, it would be less likely to happen at my parents. I have always found their home to be a bit of a safety zone where the curse is concerned.” Nina nodded at John.
“Sounds fair, John. I still wish you’d told me we were going to your parents and not to a club after dinner. I would have worn something, um more appropriate.” John grinned.
“Your outfit is gorgeous, Nina. You always look good, even in my sweat pants with no makeup.” Nina blushed at the compliment.
“If you say so,” she said rubbing John’s stubbly cheek with the back of her hand. Nina looked dubiously down at her outfit. She had chosen a low cut black peplum top with a sweetheart neckline and tight dark jean skirt with a little flounce. Her legs were smooth and bare and accented by a pair of periwinkle blue patented leather four -inch heels. It was smart thinking on her part, bringing a black cardigan to wear over the peplum top, but the cardigan regretfully, didn’t button up and Nina felt exposed.
John parked his Mercedes in front of a large house with burgundy siding and a white wrap around porch. It had been raining again, as it did in Winter and pretty much any season in Adare. The ground was wet and Nina’s high heels aerated the lawn as she walked, sinking into the grass at many points. A paved driveway led up to the entrance of John’s parent’s stunning house. Unlike John’s modern house on the beach, his parent’s house was elegant and old surrounded by thick foliage around the yard. Their home was a throwback to Adare’s history and Victorian architecture.
John didn’t bother knocking on the front door, he turned the doorknob and walked inside. A sizable entrance area held a bench, closet, and coat hooks, in a warm interior.
“I grew up here,” John said smiling wistfully at Nina. “It feels like home, as soon as I walk in the front door.”
“I think it would be a lovely house to grow up in –judging from the outside. I enjoy the Victorian architecture. I can see your Mom and Dad put a great deal of work into preserving this house. What are your parent’s names again, John. My mind is a bit fuzzy?”Nina said. She was admiring the walls half covered by wooden panelling and the dark wood floors, refinished until they gleamed. The walls were painted in beiges and sand coloures. The furniture was antique but not the veneered furniture that was available to much of the population of the latter 1800’s because it was made in factories. Nina observed the Eric’s wood furniture was truly wood, handmade, and beautifully restored.
Nina felt John watching her as she observed the entrance and hallway in the house he grew up in. John stepped close to Nina brushing her hand, reminding her of the strong connection they had together. John observed Nina’s wide-eyed stare as she looked at the beautiful details of the historic home and than back into John’s bright eyes.
John cleared his throat,”my Mom’s name is Edith and my Dad’s name is Jack. I think I told you about them before when I talked about growing up in Adare with Jasper and Jordan. Mom’s a nurse these days.”Nina nodded and took John’s hand, nervous to meet the family John spoke of fondly.
“John is that you?” A woman with a dark brunette bob and blond highlights stuck her head into the entrance. Nina could see the resemblance she had to John and all his brothers. John had his mother’s bright sapphire eyes and easy smile.
“Yeah Mom it’s John and I brought my girlfriend, Nina with me. I kind of sprung it on her actually.” Edith walked into the entryway and shook her head at John.
“Jonathan, you told her in your fancy sports car on the way over didn’t you? You didn’t mention the dinner to her a few days ago like I told you to, did you?” John sighed, appearing uncomfortable under his Mom’s disapproving gaze.
“No Mom, I forgot.But Nina is happy to come over here and meet you guys. I thought it would be a fantastic idea to have everyone together. Also, I wanted to talk to Dad about Tia and sea witches. Nina thought it was a good idea too.” John commented.
Nina looked at Edith who was giving her a once over. Again, Nina felt under-dressed in her bar outfit. Nina walked forward in her blue heels, stumbled over some other shoes on the floor and eventually held her hand out to Edith on steady feet. Edith smiled at Nina warmly and Nina instantly felt more comfortable.
“Nina,” Edith said, “I’m so happy to meet you. I have heard all about you from John and his brothers. They’re huge fans of you, you know. You have stuck around a long time. Longer than any other girl John has been with, since the unfortunate event with Tia. John tells me he has been completely honest with you about Tia. I have to hand it to you, you are a loyal girl and handling the situation well. Especially considering you’ve been recovering from a concussion. Are you feeling okay now, dear?”
Nina held her hands together and smiled her best ‘like me’ smile at Edith, ” I have been doing great Mrs. Eric…”
“Call me Edith, everyone does.”
“Oh sorry,” Nina said. “I wanted to tell what a wonderful job your son has done taking care of me when I was injured. It’s been great getting to know him better and I hope we can come up with someway to break John’s curse and defeat Tia.”
“Jordan said Tia is out for blood,” Edith remarked. “She wants John’s heart or yours, Nina.” Edith waved a wooden spoon from the kitchen in aggravation, “that cold-hearted sea Bitch, she’s caused my son so much misery Nina. I hope you can help him break his curse. You’re the best chance he has ever had. He loves you.” John went still when his Mom said John loved Nina. Nina was absolutely positive John was in love with her and she felt the same way about him. But right now wasn’t the time for either of them to profess their love.
Edith hugged Nina hard before hugging John and patting his butt, as if John were a boy. John made a face at his Mom and she smiled:
“Go find your brothers and father, John. They are in the library. Send Rianne back to have some wine with Nina and I. I could use some help setting the table and finishing up dinner in the kitchen.”
John went off to his Dad’s library, promising to give Nina a tour of his parent’s home later. Nina started chopping the ends off of baby carrots and cracking off the ends of the asparagus for a vegetable dish, made with butter and thyme.
Rianne hugged Nina when she came down to the kitchen. It had been a week or so since she’d seen Rianne.
“Nina you look so good! It’s been such a long time since we’ve had a chance to talk. You know, only you and I. This whole situation is out of this world. Are you okay? Has Tia tried anything again or has anyone else been affected by John’s curse?”
“Things have been so great Rianne. I see John all the time and life has been normal. The curse hasn’t been affecting John oddly enough. He always feels when something horrible is about to happen, but he hasn’t felt anything in over three months. We haven’t heard anything from Tai, thank God.”
Nina gabbed to Rianne who was working on whipping the mash potatoes, using her left hand as her right arm still ached. Edith came back from the wine cellar in the basement with a couple of bottles of red wine and began to pour them each a glass of Zinfandel.
Edith made a toast: to what’s good and right in this world. May the good times always overcome the darkness and the people who thrive in it.” The ladies clinked their wine glasses and Nina set the table, as Edith made finishing touches on her dinner talking to Nina and Rianne and causing them to laugh outloud.
When it came time to eat, Edith called her sons and her husband to the dining room. Carissa, Jordan’s girlfriend from the fundraiser at Mergers, was present but Edith hadn’t called her to have wine and them with supper. Nina had the distinct feeling Edith disliked Carissa. Jasper received an elbow to the ribs from Rianne, however, when he asked Jordan:
” Oh so you’re still with Carissa? It’s been a long time. This guy usually last a month tops, Carissa.” Carissa glared at Jasper and Jordan shrugged. Carissa stomped on Jordan’s foot and he smiled and pulled her close to him by her small waist.
“Carissa’s a good friend,” Jordan said. Carissa looked like she might kill Jordan until Edith told everyone to calm down. Edith showed everyone where to sit and they all sat down and said grace holding hands.
Delicious food was passed around such as whipped mashed potatoes and turkey roast. They’re were a variety of cooked vegetables and a salad, plus, –perogies, cabbage rolls, and nalesniki. John’s Mom was half-Ukrainian, Nina learned. Everyone was silent while they enjoyed Edith’s delicious feast. As the woman began to finish their meals, having eaten less food than the men, Carissa who was not to be put down by Edith or Jasper, spoke:
“So, Nina and John. Jordan has filled me in on your problem with Talise. I saw her talking to Nina the night of the fundraiser. Do you really believe she’s a sea witch and that she cursed you John? Is she literally out to get Nina’s heart?”John looked stunned that Carissa knew so much and he glared at Jordan who shrugged.
“I’ve known Carissa as long as you’ve known Nina and Jasper has known Rianne, why shouldn’t she know?”
“Because” John said, ” you shouldn’t get her involved in this. It’s another person Tia could potentially hurt or I could if the curse returns.” Jordan swore under his breathe and John looked like he was going to punch him. Nina held John back.
“It’s fine guys. Maybe, Carissa will be a big help. The more support we have the better and if Carissa is involved with Jordan, she should know what’s going on because it’s pretty out there.” Nina said calmly and John shot her an annoyed look.
” I guess….” John said and Jordan confirmed Carissa’s questions and filled her in about Talise. Carissa laughed at first. She couldn’t quite believe what Jordan told her until she saw the scar beneath Nina’s hair still red and angry. Rianne showed Carissa her broken arm, scarred where the bone had broken through her skin. Carissa still wasn’t convinced by everything they all told her, but she agreed to keep what was said a secret to protect everyone involved.
“So Dad,” John said, “Part of the reason we organized dinner at home tonight was to get your opinion. Tia is a genuine sea witch and you know a lot about the folklore around Adare and about fairytales in general. We thought you might have some insight into our problem.”
Jack scratched his head and removed his glasses from his face. He was a handsome man for his age, with greying dark brown hair and chocolate brown eyes. Nina could see where John got some of his looks but thought he looked more like his Mom. Jasper resembled his father more and Jordan shared features from both his parents.
Jack looked at John and then curiously at Nina. “May I ask you young lady, why you have chosen to stay with my son. To date him and be with him after such an injury he tells me Tia “the sea witch,” caused. You could have been killed. Not to mention, the curse and John’s strange nightmare? I think these are all indicative signs you should stay away from him.”
“Oh….” Nina mumbled hurt, ” Why would I leave him. I love him. I’m in love with him.” Nina reached over and squeezed John’s hand. John appeared slightly stunned at Nina’s admission.
“I’m going to break this curse for John. I don’t know if you believe in love at first sight. But when I met John at the Martini bar under my condo building, I felt something I never felt before. Even though that first night, was scary and dangerous, it was worth it to be with John and meet him.” Edith smiled at Nina, the smile of a woman happy and pleased with her son’s choice in love. She took Nina’s hand (the one that wasn’t holding John’s hand) and squeezed it supportively.
” You’re too good to believe, Nina, that’s what Robert is saying,” Edith chimed in. “Curses are notoriously difficult to break, especially, by a sea witch who is harnessing black magic. Tia hates you dear, you’re in her way. You need to be strong in your love and in yourself, if you want to help John defeat Tia.” Jack nodded at his wife and a subtle smile passed his lips as if he was thankful for Edith’s insight.
“Indeed, Nina you are one part of the puzzle. But John needs to sacrifice himself for you. That’s what Tia said when she cursed him. That part of the curse worries our family. Can you two be together and John still remain alive? Not to mention, the dream John keeps having of Talise and her dagger. It has me extremely worried. Tia wants to destroy you and claim John. She’ll be after you at all costs.”
Please Read Chapter 18 here.
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