Everything about her uncle’s body language changed. He looked at Evangaline again, as if confirming that she’d actually spoken, and then turned to stare at Rosaria. “You brought her here because of a nephew?“
“I brought her here.” Rosaria had regained all her tartness. “Because she is an Aunt, because she deserves the mantle, unlike some, and because the family needs her understanding. She brought herself because of her nephew.”
Eva wasn’t sure if that was entirely true, but it made Willard smile. “Well. Pleased to meet you, niece. Aunt Evangaline, you said?”
“Yes.” She took his proffered hand and shook it, noting that it was hard, calloused, and huge. “And Aunt Rosaria has it pretty accurately; there’s a lot about the family that Aunt Asta didn’t explain.”
“Didn’t know, is more like it. Asta didn’t like getting her head out of her ass for anything short of a major holiday or an earthquake.”
Evangaline couldn’t argue with that. Asta had been, if they were being melodramatic about it, everything that Eva was trying not to be as an Aunt.
Willard smirked at her. “You’re easy to read.”
“I could be more enigmatic, if it helps, but being easy to read makes the teens in the family more relaxed.” She found she was snapping off answers the way she never could with her aunts or mother. Was it because he was male?
He certainly took it better; he laughed, a hearty guffaw. “You’re nothing like Asta, that’s for sure.”
“Thank you.” She bowed to him. Sometimes she felt disloyal, accepting compliments contrasting her with Asta. But Asta really had been… lesser, when it came to their family.
Uncle Willard laughed. “You’re something else. Come on in my house, ladies. If you want to talk, we can talk.”
Did Rosaria hesitate? She did cough, Eva was sure of that. “You’re more welcoming than I would have anticipated, Willard.”
“It’s not a trap, Aunt Rosa. Not that sort of trap, at least.” The big man shrugged. “We’re family people, in the end. And I may have left the family, but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss them.” He fell in between the two of them and started walking towards his house.
“You never married?” Eva couldn’t see her aunt’s face through her uncle, but she thought Rosaria sounded sad.
“Oh, I did. Married with three children, but you know, there’s family and then there’s family.”
“Mmm.” Rosaria might know. By the nature of her position, Eva really didn’t. But she was only nominally part of this conversation, anyway. “And your family?”
“Grown and left me, or just left me. I’m not an easy man to get along with, or so I’m told.”
“I remember that. But your kin miss you.”
“You mean Argie.” The big man’s steps didn’t falter, but his voice almost did. His power definitely did.
“Among others. But I mean myself, Willard.”
“You know why I left.” The walk to the house was taking quite a while. It barely pulled on the power in the farm, either. Impressive. And stressful.
Evangaline tilted her head at her uncle. Her Uncle. But waited to see what her aunt had to say.
“I know why you left.”
“And has she told you the story, Evangaline?”
“In a sense.” She shrugged, unwilling to let him get under her skin. She had enough family there, like tattoos on her veins. “She told me that you had the power, which is obvious. And that the family could not accept that, which is… the family.”
He barked out a laugh. “You’re something else again, aren’t you?”
“That, Uncle Willard, is my job.” She put the capital letter on Uncle; he deserved that respect. But she met his eyes, as well. “What are you waiting to determine?”
“Waiting to… ha. Be careful, Rosaria. This one’s going to be-“
“I know. That was… anticipated. We don’t think it will be a problem.”
“You don’t think it will be a problem.” Evangaline turned on her aunt. “Perhaps I’m not trying hard enough.”
“Ah-ha, there it is. She has the spark, for sure.” Willard patted her shoulder in a companionable way. “Try not to let them get under your skin, Evangaline. They will, you know.”
She took a breath, and another one, the second one more shaky than the first. The third one steadied her, and the looked at her Uncle with new eyes. “You did that. To see if I could be triggered.”
He nodded, rather than arguing the point. She found herself smiling. She could see what he meant – the spark. Not just the power – but the mind to hold it. “And what did you find?”
The power of farm released with a snap. He gestured up the front steps of his porch. “I found strength, Evangaline. Which is what they never found enough of in me.” His voice gentled. “I’m proud of you.”
Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/865037.html “The Powers That Be.”
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