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We all took a half hour before meeting up at the den once again. I was still quite horny and, after the enjoyable experience of cleaning miffy, I chose an outfit that could best be described as, ‘simple’. It consisted of a pink, square necked T-shirt made of thin cotton that was long enough to sit at the tops of my hips with a pair of denim shorts, tight and hanging my bum out the back like they should.
I didn’t bother with panties or bra and, walking the darkened corridor back to the den in pink, three inch heels, my nipples were so erect they itched. I loved my blonde, having been reminded again when I checked my outfit in the mirror before I left, and I felt like I did when I was dancing, like my life was my own and I was finally grown up and making my own decisions, being self sufficient and independent.
I wondered if changing the colour of my hair really had that kind of power, or if it was all the vodka and milk I’d been lately consuming. I wondered how Gina would react if she were there to see my hair, remembering how she and Daddy wanted me to get rid of my blonde the last time because they thought it was bad for me. Well, Stevie sure liked it, and that was reason enough to have done it if the simple fact that I wanted to wasn’t.
Speaking of Stevie, I’d had a chance to mentally examine how he’d extracted himself from the situation with Sheila and I. I’d decided it was a good thing. Mind you, I’d have done anything and everything with him, what with the state I was in at the time but, after the fact, I was glad he did what he did. I wanted our first time to be different between us, otherwise we’d have had each other at the hotel that evening.
But what got me even more about him was how he thought it was cool that I was older than Staci. It was funny on account of how I often tended to see him as older than me because of his maturity, but he was actually three years younger. Even while I’m sure I looked younger than Staci, he obviously didn’t see me that way as a person and I just loved that. It made me think about dirty fun stuff I could do with him, maybe the kind of stuff Auntie Ashleigh might want to do with him, and I made a mental note to ask her about some certain things.
At ten minutes to four in the morning, the open frontal area of the mansion was mostly still cast in shadows, other than what light spilled through the tall double doors of Auntie’s den. A slow pall of dark oppression settled around me with the memory of what I’d learned there so far that evening. Amidst all the social excitement, and as enthralling as our family history was, it had slipped my mind until just then and I ground to a halt. Slowly, I looked to the side, at the impressive chandelier and shivered despite the heat.
I felt something then. It came with the chill and was similar to something else I once felt. It was a long time before that, during a dream I’d had about Sheila looking at me with an amused expression, as though she found something funny about me. The same way Coby treated poor Eleonore. Then I realized with a subtle gasp that I’d had that dream many, many times, but only remembered it the once.
“Oh my god,” I whispered to the chandelier.
It was true. Although the dream often varied in detail, Sheila was always in them and always smirking, or laughing at me like I was a joke. The thing of it was that I knew then, standing there outside the den, that it wasn’t Sheila. Mind you, Sheila did possess and employ a very similar expression, one that suggested she knew something that others didn’t, but the dream was fundamentally different in feel and the attitude it communicated.
I snapped my head around, away from the chandelier, giving it a little shake as I got moving again in an effort to clear these thoughts, but it wasn’t quite enough. I was trying to sweep away a suddenly persistent image of Rebecca dangling from the ceiling instead of the chandelier. She swung from side to side just a little while the rope creaked, spinning her lifeless corpse slowly one way… then the other…
Inside the den, Auntie Kathleen was back in her blue sweater dress while Sheila again sat beside her on the short, red couch. She now wore a baggy pair of light weight paisley pajama boxers and navy blue cammie.
Back behind her desk, Auntie Ashleigh looked stupendous. With Stevie’s jism all cleaned from her face, she wore her long, dark hair mostly down and, beneath the long, sexy gold nightie she wore, her curves made a goddess of her. The garment showed enough cleavage to make me think her boobies were going to fall right out and I wondered how straps so thin could even hold them.
I took my earlier seat, Stevie now sitting in the chair beside it, and that was alright. I even gave him a small, quick smile to let him know this, although a lot of the reason I smiled was because of the close attention he was paying to my body.
It was awesome, incredible, unbelievable amatör porno and totally fucked up. Well, that’s how I felt while getting cleaned up after banging the hell out of my Aunt Ashleigh in that heat until we were both covered in sweat. Blowing a nice big load of sticky cum all over her face was good too, but I really wanted to pump it all right down her throat. Just to show her, I guess. In any case, Mum kinda had her own ideas at the time, but I couldn’t really complain. The freakiest part was when I remembered it wasn’t just the three of us in the room, Kitten and Sheila playing spectators to something that I was pretty sure we could all be arrested for.
After throwing on a pair of black jeans and an old gray T-shirt from my recent basement digging days, I went out into the shadowy corridor and started on my way back to the den. As I walked in the darkened silence, I thought of those strange paintings by Armand Roche on the lower level, and I was tempted to divert, to go downstairs and look at them. But there would be time for that. It wasn’t as though I’d never see them again.
Ensuing thoughts of pre Markham, the final chapter where Michelle and a handful of others were forced to run for their lives through the dark woods, created a vague urge to look over my shoulder as I went. It wasn’t surprising, really. So far, our family’s beginnings defied adequate description beyond words such as ‘disturbing’ and ‘unsettling’.
I’d kept on consuming whiskey during my cleanup and, with the added hand of ‘Sera’, I was feeling more or less up to whatever I’d hear after our family meeting resumed, but I was careful not to let her have total charge. Admittedly, she helped in terms of dealing with my new reality and all of its confounding facets, but that help came at a cost. It was bothering me more and more, but another thing about it was my belief that Sera’s hand was also largely responsible for Kitten’s behaviour towards Gina and her seeming inability to understand why it was wrong.
I may have accepted the things that Ashleigh and Sheila were preaching at me about Kitten, I may have even realized that she had to be prioritized before and above all else and why, but I still had to be concerned about her attitude towards Gina and what that spoke of her. I had to get her sober long enough to determine how Kitten felt, not Sera.
That said, when she returned and sat down beside me, it was tempting to just stop caring about all that stuff altogether. She was really something and the little denim shorts she wore looked a lot more than good on her.
And it was strange with the entire family getting along, even if only tentatively in some respects, and the mood of the group could best be described as ‘giggly’. It wasn’t hard to tell how horny everyone was and how easily another little fuck fest could break out, but I think we were all morbidly curious about how things went after Eleonore’s move to Saint John. (The tide brings us back) Our drinks were seen to by Lynette, still in her black lingerie, and when we were about done getting comfortable again, I spoke up before Ashleigh could, addressing her.
“You might be interested in knowing that your mother mentioned Rebecca to me.”
This got their attention.
“Well, not by name,” I clarified as I stretched my legs out and slouched a little, “but she was screaming at me about how I needed her, and that’s when she brought her up as a sort of warning.”
“What exactly did she say?” Ashleigh asked, looking great in her slinky, gold nightie.
“She screamed, “You don’t know what it did to my grandmother.””
“Something else you might find interesting…” Mum said as she sat a bit straighter, “What you told us about Coby whispering to the root cellar? Mum used to stand in the kitchen with the basement door open, doing the same thing. She’d even do it if we were right there in the kitchen with her. Very disturbing.”
(There’s that word again.)
Ashleigh nodded solemnly to this, letting out a little sigh before imparting, “Yeah, I’m not surprised. Mum and Coby weren’t the only ones.”
“What do you make of it?” Sheila asked her.
“I’d rather tell you the rest of what I know before I even touch that,” Ashleigh told her. “So without further ado, please allow me to take you Saint John, New Brunswick. The year is eighteen-forty-eight and, because of the Irish Potato Famine, thousands upon thousands of Irish immigrants were coming through that port and a lot of them stayed there, where there was already a large Irish population. The new immigrants were soon reviled by the longer established Irish immigrants but, after a few riots and some other unfortunate business, everybody managed to put their differences aside and begin to build Canada’s first incorporated city.
“A curious change in venue from what Seraphine seemed to prefer,” Ashleigh noted, “but one would assume that Eleonore felt more comfortable in a busy port of call than anal porno in another small community where things got around. At this point, she must have been at least partially aware that things had changed with her, and I can’t imagine her not choosing her new home accordingly. However, she also would have been in the position of having to take care of herself, and a busy port town bustling with people would have provided opportunity for a smart and highly advantaged individual. If not, there was already an almshouse there, quite an infamous one at that, and I’m sure Eleonore was keenly aware that part of the place’s population consisted of unwed mothers and had no wish to add herself to it.”
“Auntie, what’s an almshouse?” Kitten asked.
“It means the poorhouse, sweetie pie,” the woman in shimmering gold replied. “If you’ve ever heard expressions like, “I’ll end up in the poorhouse for this!” well, this is the place they mean. Of course, this was over one hundred and sixty years ago, and conditions there would have been astonishing enough from our modern perspectives, but the place was known even then for mismanagement, abuse and worse. A lot of unemployed people were put there as well as single mothers, but also alcoholics, orphans, lazy people, the mentally ill, other assorted undesirables, etcetera.
“So,” she continued when Kitten nodded her understanding, “What’s a smart, educated nineteen year old girl, all alone with her father’s money and a baby on the way gonna do, huh? Why, she gets right back into what she knows. Remember, she had some hand in running her father’s business, so forestry was a natural venture for her.
“In the beginning, she made do with what amounted to a shed on the poor side of town for accommodations, but she also had a woman there who she’d acquired at the almshouse. Her name was Cary and, in addition to being a personal companion, she could assist Eleonore’s oncoming appointment with childbirth. Other acquisitions from the almshouse were out working for her, one in particular by the name of Finn Gallagher, an educated man who could oversee business in the field and report to Eleonore.
“In this shed is where Eleonore, who’d changed her last name to De la Garde, gave birth to her daughter, Dolanna. The name ‘Dolanna’ means ‘world ruler’. Yeah, seriously. As for the meanings of all these names, I’ve always had to wonder if it wasn’t Sera herself who chose them… Anyway, by the chosen name of her daughter and Eleonore’s abilities and business interests, one could make an assumption of her mindset at the time.”
“An ambitious one,” Mum smiled.
“Yup, and she comes off as the type,” Ashleigh said, taking a sip from her glass before going on, “But I again have to apologize for the sparse information concerning this time period. It’s due to the same reason as before, that being Eleonore’s lack of actually volunteering much. Some of this is what she told Dolanna, a little from other sources but, as the time goes on, as Dolanna gets older, the information gets better because it’s hers. Both Rebecca and I may have our doubts about some of Dolanna’s claims but, unlike her mother, she had no problem talking.
“Now with a city being literally created around them, schooners being built one after another in the world’s largest tall ship port at the time, there was quite a demand for timber and Eleonore’s quickly growing business was one of those that made good money furnishing that need. Before her daughter was a year old, Eleonore had moved the three of them- Cary too- into a proper home, a two story building in Queen Square.
“While Dolanna was growing up, Eleonore seems to have mostly kept to herself, taking reports from Gallagher and running her business through him from her home while raising her daughter. This didn’t mean she never left her home. She loved horses, kept a stable in the back of her house with a riding horse and two more to pull her carriage. She preferred, actually prized the latter and actually hooked the team to the carriage herself.
“She would usually be out checking personally on her business in the field, making a day of it and sometimes even interacting with her employees. I say ‘even’ because, as I just mentioned, she mostly kept to herself and seemed to prefer as little dealings with others as possible. Dolanna said this was because of the scarring on her hands, neck and face, the ones she couldn’t cover up, and this was why she only ever went out to the cutting sites and only out of necessity at that.
“Now, in my opinion,” Aunt Ashleigh smiled, “this is a claim, or viewpoint of Dolanna’s that I don’t necessarily take as gospel, and neither does Rebecca. For one thing, we already know Eleonore as a quiet person and it’s not really surprising that she’d be naturally introverted, plus there’s the natural xenophobic tendencies Sera would sometimes require. Also, Eleonore could have easily worn gloves, high collar and, in those days, a veil, but anal breakers porno Dolanna mentioned none of these details that would have backed up her viewpoint. Besides, Eleonore was known to occasionally take her team about town on a nice day just for a ride, probably showing them off. Indeed, even before the attack, she never comes across as being aware of her beauty in the sense that it would’ve mattered to her at all, nor does she ever come across as being concerned about the scarring of it afterwards.
“So,” Ashleigh sighed in summation of this point, “I second Rebecca in the opinion that, given her upbringing, Eleonore simply wasn’t the type to socialize, scarring or no, instead mainly applied herself to practical business and the keeping of it.”
“Mainly?” Mum asked with a smirk.
Ashleigh laughed silently, prompting us all to grin.
“You have a dirty mind, sweetie pie,” Ashleigh accused, “but yeah, mainly.”
“Let me guess,” Mum sleazed, “Gallagher? Cary? Both?”
“Both. At least that’s what Dolanna claimed. Once she’d matured to a point where she’d naturally start to take notice of certain things, certain comings and goings and- well, she mentioned that the house wasn’t so big that she couldn’t hear her mother enjoying something up in her room with Cary. So, she asked her mother about it one day but, at that time, Eleonore only told her to never mind and not to ever talk about what went on in the house to anybody.”
“So Eleonore got the Burchell drive,” Sheila observed with an amused smirk, “or whatever she called it.”
“Yeah,” Ashleigh grinned, “I’d say she got some kinda drive after she’d been bonded. Studious Eleonore wouldn’t seem the type otherwise. Then again, we do have to keep Dolanna’s parentage in mind, don’t we?”
“Don’t remind me,” Mum remarked. “Camilo was bad enough.”
“Don’t be a snob, Kathleen,” Ashleigh said with a good humoured smile, “besides, Sera wouldn’t allow any genetic idiots in the line, inbreeding or no. That’s not good for her anymore than it is for her people.”
“‘Her people?'” I asked.
“Yes,” my eldest aunt replied. “We are Sera’s people. Let me ask you, Steven: Have you ever had a pimple?”
” … What?” I asked, wondering how this could possibly relate.
“Have you?” she insisted with a sneaky smile at the corners of her mouth.
“No,” I answered. “No, I haven’t,”
“Problems with your wisdom teeth, or any dental problems at all?”
“None that I know of.”
“Chicken pocks, mumps, mono?”
I only shook my head, now seeing what she was getting at.
“Gall bladder, tonsils?”
I shook my head again.
After regarding me with a self satisfied smile that reminded me just a little of Sheila, she looked around the room and asked, “Anyone?”
They all slowly, silently shook their heads, also understanding what she was getting at.
“Right,” Ashleigh determined, going on to assure, “Neither have I, Samantha, or any of our ancestors. As I said, don’t worry; Sera wouldn’t allow any problems in the line from inbreeding.”
“Cold comfort for Coby and Marie, I’m sure.”
I’d said it in a low tone, more to myself as I poked at the ice in my drink, but it sucked the life right out of the room as everybody’s faces turned to me.
“Since you obviously didn’t figure this out for yourself,” my suddenly pissed off aunt ground at me, “Coby’s problems mostly came from being locked up, and Mum was involved in an accident with her mother!”
“An accident,” I thoughtfully echoed.
“Yes, an accident, Steven! And if you derail this meeting again, I swear to god, I’ll punch you right in the fucking face! Got it?!”
Okay, she was more than pissed off and, as interesting as that was, I didn’t dare so much as roll my eyes because I knew she was serious about that punch in the face, and I’d had enough fighting for one night. So after stabbing me to death with her expression, she did move on, although not happily and the others glanced at me with annoyance for it.
“As I was saying, Eleonore did have her drives and obviously used her two closest employees to fulfill them. While I’m sure her influence was her chief method of control over them, sex was probably used to an effective extent as well. Dolanna said that Cary only ever went out on De la Garde business because Cary’s only business was De la Garde business, and De la Garde business was her life. She was never paid a cent from the day she left the almshouse with Eleonore, and never needed or wanted for anything. Eleonore herself never actually referred to, or ever treated Cary as a servant, but as a friend both in and outside the house.
“Most interesting about Cary, thirteen years older than Eleonore and reportedly an attractive woman in her own right, is that we don’t have a last name on her. Even Rebecca notes how Dolanna never mentioned it, and neither she nor I were ever able to trace Cary, so we couldn’t find one.”
“Like she left it in the almshouse,” Kitten mused.
“Yeah,” Sheila agreed, “Like she wouldn’t need it anymore.”
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