“There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.”― Joseph Pulitzer
Willow Creek Vandenburg Residence
Awaking from a nap while tanning poolside at her brand-new luxurious home in Willow Creek, the backyard overlooking a scenic lake, the front overlooking a recreational harbor, Leeora yawned contently.
This was the life she always dreamed of. A life of leisure and luxury.
Well, maybe not exactly like this. Her old dreams usually had her being a vampire, partnered up with a handsome, dark, mysterious vampire like her father, but powerful and dangerous, as they both rule over … well, something really.
Not much tanning could be done as a vampire, so Leeora decided THIS version of her life of luxury was infinitely better. Screw vampires.
She heard a car in the driveway and cursed. Jonathan was home. Already? Time had gotten away from her again. Oops.
She rose to go meet him at the door, he liked gestures of her being a good wifey, and Leeora didn’t mind pleasing him. After all, he was handsome, rich, influential – some might say powerful. Even if just a regular mortal. While walking down the hallway it dawned her that she was just a regular mortal too, had been for some years now, ever since renouncing Wicca. No more magic. Hmm. Oh well.
“Ah, there she is. Good afternoon, beautiful. I see you have been … busy, huh?” Jonathan smiled looking her over, and Leeora realized she was only in her tiny bikini. Not that she had anything to hide, as a model she was used to being looked at, but she knew Jonathan preferred elegance inside the home.
“I’ll go change …” she said after kissing him.
“Good. I brought dinner, it’s from the fine Argentinian steakhouse we both like, I just had a feeling that there would be no dinner greeting me and I am famished. Hurry, my love.” Jonathan told her, pointing at two white plastic bags with the logo of an expensive restaurant on them sitting on the hallway table.
“Sure.” Leeora forced a smile but got increasingly angry on her way to their bedroom. Sometimes his tone made her feel more like a child, or arm candy, than his wife. Did he have to talk down to her as he did? Or did she just imagine that?
During dinner only light conversation occurred, Jonathan didn’t like bad news or complex discussion points during mealtimes, deemed them not good table conversation. Once they had finished eating, he opened the usual bottle of wine.
First, Jonathan started talking about the aggravations of his workday, the usual really, but then he went straight into the first of two bombs he was going to drop on Leeora.
“I think it is time that we get serious about a child. I need an heir. Do you know when the best time to try for you will be? Shall we start right away? Do you happen to keep up with your fertile days or is there a way to figure them out? If not, we can always just enjoy the practice and hope for the best.” he winked at her, smiling.
“Fertile? Heir? You want me to have a kid? Now?” Leeora was completely caught off guard.
“No, my love, I want US to have a child. Yes, now. I want to still be fit enough to teach the boy everything I know so he can step into my footsteps, and I want to be able to thoroughly watch him exceed all our expectations, my gorgeous dove.”
“Boy? What if it’s a girl? Return for refund?!” Leeora asked sharply.
“Of course she will be loved just the same, and you get to have a little doll to play your dress up games with, while we keep trying until we have a boy, of course. Silly question.”
“You want me to … ha. HA HA HA! I am sorry, I am sure you were joking, and didn’t imply we mass produce children now. I never signed up for some bright future as a human breeding mare!” Leeora’s laugh was fake, while she tried hard not to fly off the handle. She was no stranger to old-fashioned notions about relationships and family, both the vampires and the Spellcasters were notorious for dusty, antiquated rules like that, but she thought she had left that behind by becoming a regular mortal, while married to a regular mortal.
Part of her wanted to slap the term divorce into Jonathan’s face, but she couldn’t. Whatever this was that she had now, she liked having it, a place of her own, a place to belong and a man to belong to, who, usually, treated her every bit the queen she felt she was, spoiled her, wined and dined her while showering her in gifts. Maybe this was actually love. But … kids?
“Leeora, beautiful, we talked about this before the wedding.”
“Yes, we did and I am fine with that, but we are not even married a full year. Seems a little fast, don’t you think?!”
“I do not. You are so young; but I am not, I am going to be 56 soon. I am sure you are aware that while men can be fertile into old age, the quality of everything deteriorates with each year. It is time. And I didn’t mean we should have a stable of kids. If the first one is a boy, we can be done right away if that’s what you choose. If not, I would like to try a few more times. Obviously, we have the room and can afford it easily. Even get you a nanny, if you like. The place we hired our maid from also has nannies, so we know they would be well-vetted and reliable.”
“Okay, fine, we’ll have a baby then. Or at least start working on one. Just not clear how I am to run the boutique after the baby is born. Maybe I could see if Cait could help out, even though, that would be kinda iffy. Hmm.”
“That is a good point and my next one to talk to you about anyway. I have already hired a realtor, who was quite impressed and thinks she could find a buyer very quickly in the current market. I have the papers ready to sign in my attaché case. Would you fetch them please? And a pen if you would. The sooner that’s done, the sooner you can focus on becoming a mother.”
“No, wait. I love the boutique. No way am I giving that up. Modeling will be hard enough while pregnant and especially afterwards. That’s just too much for me to juggle. I am okay giving up modeling, it became kind of a drag anyway with all their demands and rude meat show evaluations, I like being my own boss and having my own fashion much better.”
“Good, you should stop. A man in my position marrying a high-end fashion model is a good look, but once married, as the wife of a representative you should spend your time with more prestigious things. Find a charity you like and support that. Publicly even, always looks great to have a wife who cares about the community.”
“What? You cannot be serious! You want me to be a trophy wife?”
“Nothing lies further from my mind, even though, if we are perfectly honest here it looks to me like so far you haven’t exactly hated that idea too much. From what I can tell you have spent the past several months between the deck chairs and shopping other boutiques empty, then getting pampered at high end spas from the exhausting task of spending my money.”
“Well, you’re right, there is no such thing, it is our money now. I was referring to the money I made, I meant. Since, let’s be frank here, you may act and feel like royalty, certainly have the spending habits fit for a queen, but you didn’t have much money when we met. And I also know that my seasoned good looks weren’t what captivated you, at least not initially. You liked my platinum credit cards and my title and all the prestige that comes with it. I am okay with that, but I will ask something in return.”
“Oh, I think you have gotten PLENTY in return.”
“Don’t be foolish, I know you are hinting at bedroom things, but I know you had your fun just as much as I did. It is time to pay up, Leeora, and as I find, my requests are humble. Think about how beautiful our child or children will be. And what they will be born into. It would be a crime not to have a new generation to hand all this down to. Don’t you agree? Besides, I know you and your mother are at odds over how she raised you. Here is your chance to correct history and have your revenge at the same time, in a way. That’s how payback works best, succeed at everything they failed at. So, be a great mother.”
Somehow, Jonathan’s words calmed her. It wasn’t as much what he said, but how he said it. He had charisma, which was what made him so successful. He could sway anyone to do anything.
That night was one of many nights that didn’t end with simple lovemaking between spouses, but with an agenda.
It took a few weeks, until Leeora looked at the usual pregnancy test wand, but this time two bars turned blue.
Her emotions swayed between elated and scared to death, feeling trapped, but also anxious and excited. Well, this was happening now. No way back.
Deciding this was good news, she drove to Jonathan’s office to tell him in person right away, maybe have lunch with him too.
Jonathan's office at the House of Representatives Hall
His secretary wasn’t at her desk so Leeora snuck into his office, without knocking, wanting to surprise him. Instead, she ended up being surprised.
No, she didn’t find Jonathan in a compromising situation with his secretary, but instead found one of the bookshelves open. A secret door? What?
Leeora wasn’t anything if not brave and curious, so she went to take a peek, carefully avoiding being seen. What she saw was shocking to her. Stepping inside a little she could hear someone in one of the outer corners of the large room even though it was too dark to make out anything, so she looked around the front, everything looked medieval to her, burning torches used to illuminate the strange secret room, walls lined with shelves and small tables filled with nic nacs, books and bottles, so she picked up one of them with a handwritten label, holding it near a torch to decipher the contents.
“Aconite? What in the world does Jonathan need THAT for? I didn’t think any regular mortals even know what that is!” Leeora mumbled, shocked, recognizing an ancient poison, along with many other ingredients she knew much too well from her lifetime as a witch. Ambergris, wolfsbane, … hard to find and never used for anything good.
She heard steps echoing, indicating someone was nearing.
By the time Jonathan stepped into his office, pulling the bookshelf door shut behind himself, it was empty, even though he could have sworn to detect the faint scent of his wife’s favorite fragrance.
Glimmerbrook The Secret Realm of Magic
Leeora was already in her car on her way to her place of birth, Glimmerbrook, with a plan. A little secret about herself which she still had not shared with Jonathan, and now she was glad about it. Just as you could renounce Wicca, as a born witch, you are allowed to change your mind once in each direction. You could renounce only once, but you had one single chance to fix it if you realized it was a mistake. The less time had passed since renouncing, the more of your old powers would you have returned upon ascension as Wicca’s child again. And this would be a secret. From everyone.
Leeora had been incredibly strong and powerful before, she knew whatever she might have lost, wouldn’t be too hard to get back. And whatever Jonathan was up to, if it was anything malicious, she would be prepared. If it was not malicious, maybe she could help him better being what she was intended to be, born to be. A witch. But she had to act fast, as pregnancy was a complication factor of joining or leaving the ranks of the witchfolk.
Willow Creek Vandenburg Residence
That very night, when Jonathan came home, dinner was waiting for him. Delicious, perfect. And unbeknownst to him, nothing that had ever been near a stove, as it was magically conjured.
Smiling contently, while rinsing off their dishes, Leeora realized that she just regained something she was meant to be, something much more meaningful and powerful than a modeling career or a fashion boutique. Power. She had felt powerful declining the usual after-dinner wine when she told him her news. Surprisingly, Jonathan looked genuinely excited about the prospects of becoming a father, pending confirmation by the gyn.
Without turning around, she said
“Oh, Jonathan darling, I signed the papers for the realtor. You are right, there is no room for a boutique in my life anymore. I have much greater things to aspire to. I assume you wouldn’t mind handling that, since you were so kind to get the ball rolling?”
“Not at all, my beautiful queen. Hearing this makes me very happy. Especially now, in your delicate condition, I will assure you won’t be left wanting for anything your heart desires.” he smiled, kissed her cheek then left, probably to squirrel away the signed papers in case Leeora were to change her mind.
“Oh, I believe you won’t have much of a choice once my powers are fully restored. And I also know you will sleep very VERY well and deep tonight, so deep that you won’t wake up till morning, while I go on a little adventure. You are not the only one with in-depth knowledge of botany, poisons and such, but I doubt you know as much about what everything from nature can be used for with the help of a little magic. Let’s see what exactly you are hiding in your secret room at your workplace, my dear husband.” Leeora whispered just loud enough for her to hear.