“Thanks, Eva. I’ll talk to her.”
“You should, Hadelai,” Aunt Evangaline answered, more gently than she normally did. “Of course, you know she’s listening now.
“No, she’s a good girl, she’d never….”
“You did when you were her age. So did I.”
Beryl’s mother had been acting strangely since her Aunt Asta died and Aunt Evangaline took over the Aunt House and all the associated… things, and it seemed Aunt Eva had noticed, too. Beryl knew why, of course – she had the markers, assuming Chalcie or Amy got around to having children (or, she supposed, Stone) – but she wasn’t the only one who did. Mom – Hadelai, Hadie – and Eva had another sister and another brother. There were plenty of cousins to go around.
Still, Mom was all of a sudden very interested in any boy Beryl happened to talk to or about, and very curious about her dating prospects, very worried when she acted at all “strange” or, god forbid, “fey.” It was beginning to get a little annoying, so Beryl had had a quiet word with Aunt Eva, who had had a few less quiet but more subtle words with Mom, and now, it seemed, Mom was going to have a few words with her. She made sure she wasn’t anywhere near the phone – damnit, Aunt Eva – and very engrossed in her homework – Chemistry homework, because Mom, for some reason, didn’t think Chem was fey – and waited for Mom to come have that word.
When she did – thirty minutes later, long enough that Beryl was beginning to wonder if she’d gotten cold feet – it wasn’t the conversation she was expecting. Instead, Mom came with a small charm bracelet in hand.
“My grandmother, Diandre, gave this to me,” she said, with no preamble, as she sat down next to Beryl on the bed. “And I’ve kept it. I thought I would pass it on to a granddaughter – Grandma Diandre got it from her grandmother, after all, and I’m not sure how many generations it’s been in the family before that, but I know it’s quite a few – but I think I should give it to you. If you want to… if you want to give it to a daughter, or a niece, in your turn, that’s your choice.”
She turned the bracelet over in her hands, clearly unwilling to hand it over quite yet. “This is the thing. This isn’t a monkey’s paw, it’s not a magic lantern. But it has power, Beryl, and I worry about that power. I worry about it in your hands, but I have to admit,” she sighed, “I worry about it, right now, more in mine.”
“This one, this is the one I’m worried about.” She showed Beryl the garnet heart, crowned with gold. “This one can bring love or ruin it. And Beryl, I very much want you to find love.”
As if it pained her, she passed the bracelet over. “Please, honey, please be careful.”
Cradling the small relic, Beryl nodded and gulped. Love. Bring love or ruin it. “I will, Mom. I promise.”
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