Saturday, March 31, 2012

Florida Trip Part Two, and a Mysterious Gifts Update

"They say America is beautiful,
And I sure hope they're right.
If I could see you across the water
I'd say 'America is beautiful tonight'..."
-Great Big Sea, "Yankee Sailor"

Hello, blog friends! This is Summer! Well, all good things must come to an end... including our trip to Florida. Now we're back in Newfoundland, and back in our winter coats - today we even had a snowstorm. Very different from our time in the sun. Maybe we can make ourselves feel warmer by reliving it.

So, when we left off, it was Tuesday. On Wednesday, we went to a little town called Tarpon Springs. The family went there last year, too. It's a little community by the water, originally mostly Greek. It was founded on the sponge diving industry, and when the town first started, people would regularly go out in their diving suits with their forks and collect sponges. Nowadays the main industry is tourism, but boats still go out - even sponge diving tours. We ate seafood overlooking the water, then walked around looking at the shops. Blakeney bought an evil eye (good luck charm) suncatcher for the house.

On Thursday, we went to the beach again. We spent some time walking the trails at the park, then cooked chicken on the grill for lunch. After lunch, we went swimming in the ocean.

Friday, we went to a museum for a change of pace, to avoid spending a lot of time in the sun every day. They had buildings from different times in Florida's history, including a school house, a home, a church, a citrus packing plant, a general store, a train depot and locomotive engine, and a barn full of old farm vehicles and carriages. It was really neat! Our only regret was that a lot of the stuff wasn't labeled, so sometimes it was hard to tell what was what. Some things were just obvious, though... and some things Cécile and Marie-Grace explained to us, because it was from their time. It was interesting to see those girls in a setting where they just fit in, rather than as fish out of water in modern times the way we're used to seeing them.

Saturday we rented kayaks and took them out into the channels and mangrove areas near the condo where we stayed. It was really fun. We got to see a lot of birds, a lot of cool mangrove trees, and a variety of houses and boats along the channels. One heron let us get really close, then flew right over our heads screeching. After four and a half hours paddling around, we were pretty tired, and Blakeney had a terrible sunburn, especially on her knees and hands. (We've never seen a sunburn that was purple before.) We had a really good time, though, and were glad we went!

On Sunday, some of us went to the local Anglican church. We didn't have time to go to the beach that day, so we went swimming in the pool. Then in the evening, we went to a Greek restaurant, where we had flaming cheese (They really set it on fire! "Opa!") and smelts (little fish) for our appetizers, then bowls of lemon chicken soup for our meal. The entertainment was a belly dancer, which was really fun. Most of the audience were kind of wet blankets, but we got up and danced with her! It was a cool show and a fun evening.

Monday was our last full day in Florida, because on Tuesday we would leave in the early afternoon. We went to the beach again... and that was where we got some unexpected insight into our mysterious gift giver who has been sending our resident vampires stuff to protect them against the sun.

While we were in the water, a girl we didn't know was swimming nearby. She looked somewhere between my age and Josefina's, so like in the 12-14 range. We never found out for sure... and we didn't even learn her name, even though we spent a couple of hours with her! Every time someone was about to ask her about herself, she would change the subject or be too far away to hear the question. All of us figured that someone else had managed to ask, but when we talked about it later, no one had.

She seemed nice, though, and we had fun talking and swimming with her. We figured we'd just made a nice vacation acquaintance, and didn't think any more of it than that... until Tabitha's necklace got caught in her hair and unclasped. Although we're trying to save the vampire sun protection liquid to make it last as long as possible, all four of the vampires took some when we went swimming, for exactly that reason; a necklace could get lost in the water, and that could lead to vampire-on-fire consequences. So none of us panicked when it fell off, because it landed in the shallow water where we could still see it, and we knew Tabs would still be protected.

This new girl did not know that... but she knew Tabitha needed to be protected from the sun, because she ducked toward her trying to save her. When Tabitha didn't catch on fire, the girl looked embarrassed, and said as if to herself, "Oh good, you planned ahead." Before we could ask how she knew about that, she was swimming off in a different direction again.

We were going to invite her to go to the restaurant for supper with us, but at some point she just slipped off when no one was paying attention. It was very mysterious and odd. We wondered if she was the person who sent the presents - and now we're sure she was. After she'd gone, when we went back to our beach chairs, we found another bottle of 'vampire sunscreen' in our bag, with another note that said, "I thought you could use a refill, with the weather we've been having."

So now we know who sent us the gifts. We just don't know who she is, or how she knows about us, or why she cares what happens to us.

On Tuesday, we reluctantly said our goodbyes to Florida. We went out for breakfast at Cracker Barrel, then headed to the Tampa airport. Our trip home didn't go as expected, though. Before our final flight, the airline rep announced that the weather conditions in Newfoundland were such that they couldn't take a full flight. (I think it was too windy.) Some passengers would have to get off - and in exchange, we'd get a free hotel room, free food, and a $500 travel voucher per person for future trips. That was too good for our family to pass up! So we gave up our seats - and lightened the load considerably - and spent an unexpected night in Newark. We got home a day late, but it was worth it, because now it'll be easier to afford another vacation.

So that's how our trip went! With the snow falling outside, it was nice to relive sunny memories from our trip! :-)


Friday, March 23, 2012

Vampire Politics

Hi folks, this is Bree, with an update on our vampire situation. (Not our resident vampires, but vampires in general as relate to us. I realize that with all the bloodsuckers around us - and I mean that "bloodsuckers" in the nicest possible way - it gets confusing.) 

As our regular readers probably recall, back in February we defeated a powerful group of ancient vampire bullies who called themselves the extremely pretentious title of The Elders. Defeated as in gone, gotten rid of, never to return again to mount a counterattack. We were, as far as we could tell, safe from them.

What we weren't quite sure was whether they were all killed by the fae army, or whether some of them slipped away in the mass exodus of vampire hangers-on who showed up hoping to participate in a bloodbath just for the sake of the bloodiness. (Vampires are not, as a general rule, particularly kind people. Clare, Tabitha, Cécile, and Marie-Grace are pleasant exceptions to the mean rule.) Real battles aren't like books or movies - they're confusing and chaotic, and you can't really keep track of what every single person is doing the whole time. It's easy to miss things, even big things like enemies running.

If some of them slipped away, we weren't sure what to do about it. Go after them? That seems kind of heartless, hunting them while they're down. On the other hand, if we just ignored them, they might grow strong enough to come back... not to mention the people they'd eat in the meantime. It was a conundrum - but one that was unexpectedly solved.

The remains of the Elder group sent us a messenger. How do these people always know where to find us? We aren't even home! But anyway, they sent a messenger. Three of the Elder group survived the battle, one of their leaders - although not the head honcho - and two underlings. To our even greater surprise, the remaining members of the Elder army sent not threats, but terms of peace.

They offered: To give up their pretensions of vampire leadership. Never to attack us again. To lift the orders of execution they gave their people regarding any of our family members. And... most surprising of all, they promised to stop eating humans. More of a win than we could have hoped for.

All we had to do in exchange was not kill the remaining three of them. Which seemed like a fair deal, since we didn't really like the idea of more killing anyway, and this would mean they wouldn't be dangerous anymore. It seemed like the best possible ending. There's no reason not to accept; it's what we wanted anyway, and if they don't keep up their end of the bargain we don't have to hold up ours either, so it's all gain at no cost.

However, we sent back one more term of peace: They have to let Gia stay with us, even though she worked for them.

They accepted that requirement too. They didn't seem to have a problem with what we were asking; they didn't actually seem to remember who Gia was when we mentioned her name. We had to remind them that she was their employee. They seemed indifferent to what happened to her and said we could "keep her" - which sort of makes her sound like a pet or a cheap souvenir, but at least they aren't coming for her. Clearly she means a lot more to us than she did to them. Gia seemed really relieved that her connection to them is officially terminated.

So ends our conflict with The Elders, I guess. No uncertainty, and no loose ends.

We still have vampire-related problems, though. There's a major power vacuum (explained in more detail in the linked post) now that the pretentious vampires aren't around to keep the crazy vampires from blowing their whole secrecy gig. 

We've been trying to get away from it all while we're on vacation, but we keep tossing around ideas for what to do. There's no leadership every vampire will accept - even The Elders, for all their violence, were ignored by most vampires most of the time. There's no one else we know of who could get a majority to listen. Certainly not us. Most of us aren't even vampires, for one thing, and they will want to be ruled by their own. Also, we're still kids, and running around trying to impose martial law on insane vampires isn't exactly a task we're eager to take up.

So... what to do?

We went round and round - finally Summer had what actually seemed to be a workable idea. What about some kind of vampire council, or parliament? There's no potential leader everyone would accept... but if every potential leader had some support, they could work together to make things happen. We'd be willing to take part, and we'll get the ball rolling - and we plan to lay some ground rules, like no killing humans. Not sure how well that's going to go over, but we have to try.

Finally, some stability is on the horizon - we hope - in the vampire corner of our world.


Versatility, An Important Quality

Hi everyone! We've been tagged for the Versatile Blogger award by some of our blog friends - Wendy and Emily! (And possibly someone else Blakeney is drawing a blank on.) Thanks very much for thinking of us, ladies! In response, our job is to tell seven random facts about ourselves. Some of you will already know some of this, but hopefully you'll all learn something new about us.

1.) Kiwi is learning to speak Mandarin. She was adopted from China, and wants to learn what would probably have been her original language. She says it's tough but fun, and she's glad she's doing this while she's still young.

2.) Kaya is lactose intolerant. She can't drink milk, but she can eat ice cream if she takes a pill.

3.) "Green" and "Rose" aren't really any of our last names. We use it as an internet pseudonym to protect our online privacy. We don't all have the same last name. Between us we have fourteen surnames. (Kaya and Josefina have two each.)

4.) Bree is a better driver than Kirsten, but Kirsten will deny that to her dying day.

5.) Evelyn is getting ready for her first horse show, which will be in June. She's showing in the walk/trot and walk/trot/canter events.

6.) In the summer we're going to be taking a trip to Italy, Hungary, and Croatia.

7.) We sing around the house all the time, and speak to each other in song lyrics on a daily (more like hourly...) basis. 

So yeah, now you know us a little better, and it's our turn to nominate people to go next. A lot of our friends have already been tagged, so we'll do our best to pick new people.

1. In a post on your blog, nominate 4 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each
their blogs.

We tag:

The Triplets

Thanks for reading! :-)

The Greens and the Roses

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Departure, Arrival, and Lots of Animals


Hi, this is Summer... writing to you from sunny Florida! :-)

Saturday morning was leaving-home-time. On Friday, the temperature in our part of Newfoundland was hovering right at the freezing point. Ice was forming and then melting a little and falling and shattering. It sounded like little explosions were going off all over the place. We worried this might be a problem for our plane taking off. By Saturday morning, though, things were better. It was dismal, with a little bit of rain right on the borderline of freezing, but we got to the airport and in the air without a problem.

Oh, wait, I should backtrack a minute, because there are two things I bet you're wondering:

1.) How were the vampires going to handle Florida?

Well, we got some last minute good news about that. Marie-Grace and Tabitha have their necklaces now that protect them from being harmed by the rays of the sun, but Clare and Cécile were just planning to hole up in the condo during the day, shut out the light, and make do.

Friday's mail brought a surprise, though - another package from our mysterious sender in New Orleans. Unlike the other two parcels, which had been addressed to a specific sister, this one was addressed to the whole family care of Blakeney. Clare and Cécile kind of eyed each other, wondering who would get the necklace... and trying to be charitable by wishing each other good luck.

As it turned out, there wasn't a necklace in the package, and they were both lucky! :-)

We all crowded around to see what was in the box. It was an old-fashioned looking brown bottle, with a thick liquid sloshing around in it. We were confused about what it was, but fortunately there were directions, written in black ink and the same handwriting as before.

It said, "Vampire 'Sunscreen.' Drinking three drops protects for six hours. Mind your time and don't cut it close."

Obviously, this was a huge leap of faith - but our mysterious friend had come through for us in the past, so we decided to try it and hope for the best. It worked, and we're all enjoying the Florida sunshine. Our vampires are safe... at least as long as the bottle lasts. If there's still any left when we get home, Cécile and Clare will continue to use it sparingly to try to preserve it.

So that answers that question.

2.) What about Gia?

Honestly, we were all kind of wondering that. Before everything that happened, we were planning for Gia to come along on our trip, but after it all went down, we weren't sure what the deal was anymore. We were nervous to even ask Maia, because we didn't want to bring up a bad subject. We figured we'd just wait and see. 

Apparently, Gia took the wait and see route, too. On Saturday morning, she showed up at the house with a little suitcase clutched in her hands. Her knuckles were white where she was gripping the handle so hard. She looked nervous to the point of terrified, like a prisoner waiting for a verdict. I felt so bad for her in that moment that I just wanted to hug her. 

Maia didn't actually say anything. She just took Gia's suitcase and put it in the car. Obviously meaning: she still wanted Gia to go. Gia breathed a huge sigh of relief... and frankly, so did the rest of us.

From that moment, things have been easier. Pretty much back to normal, even. Gia seemed relaxed again, for the first time since she spilled her secret. I think she feels even better than she did before, because she can be honest now.

Since we've all been here in the condo together, I've realized that Gia has nightmares. Really bad ones. I think they're called night terrors. I can't really blame her for what she did anymore - now that I've realized The Elders hurt her worse than they ever hurt us, how could I?

I'm glad the family is back to being whole again. Because, yeah, even though it's nothing official, Gia feels like family to me. The way things are again - all of us together, happy - seems like how things should be.

So anyway, back to what I was saying before:

Travel was uneventful, and by Saturday evening we had landed in Florida. We were hungry and tired, but excited and glad to be there. It was amazing to be able to shed our winter coats and long-sleeve layers.

Sunday was a pretty slow day, since we'd just had a long day of travel. Some of us went to church with Blakeney's grandparents, then we went out for lunch and then went to a local symphony group's performance of (allegedly) Irish and Scottish music. The orchestra did a nice job and we liked the show. Then in the evening, we swam in the pool.

Monday we went to the beach! It was so fun. We playing in the sand and swam in the ocean. The water had fish in it, and they came right up to swim around our feet. Then in the evening after supper we went for a walk. It was neat to see palm trees and watch the squirrels, very different from home.

Today we drove to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. It was so totally awesome! (Inky, if you're reading this, the park made us think of you. I think you would have loved it!) It's a park where they have all kinds of wild animals from the local area. These animals weren't captured to be exhibits, but were there because for some reason they would not be able to survive in the wild. Most were injured in some way, and although they've gotten better, they wouldn't be able to move fast enough to hunt or avoid predators. A few others imprinted on humans when they were babies and wouldn't be able to fend for themselves.

One pair of birds we saw was really sweet because the original bird was brought there after it got too badly hurt to be released into the wild, and a wild bird became its mate while it was living in the park; that other bird stays at the park now by choice to be with the one who can't fly away.

The only animal they have that isn't native to Florida is one random hippo. He was there before the current park. There used to be a park of exotic animals on that land, and he was part of that. When the new park started, he got to stay. He was really interesting to see, too. We got to watch him eat his supper, which was hay and several melons.

The other animals we saw were wolves, foxes, otters, manatees, alligators, bears, a bobcat, a cougar, some snakes and turtles, and a bunch of birds and fish. They have this neat building where you can look at the fish from underwater through glass.

Kaya and Charissa told us lots of cool facts about the animals. Kaya is part of a special environmental science school program, so she knows all about these things, and Charissa just loves animals and has read a lot about them.

Bree discovered she isn't as afraid of bears as she thought she was, now that she's seen them sleepy and sluggish. The bear fear started when, shortly after she moved in with the Greens, Bree read on a website that if you go out in the woods in Newfoundland, basically bears are just going to come and murder you. Which is totally not true. Although we have been hiking and camping dozens of times since then and have not seen one single bear, Bree keeps looking over her shoulder for bear attacks. I think she may have gotten over it somewhat today, when she saw a bear sleeping and said it was "kind of cute and not murderous at all," which for Bree is major progress.

We all joked about taking Gia to see the wolves and foxes because they are her "cousins," and she actually laughed. It's such a relief to be able to laugh with Gia. We can joke again because we've forgiven her and she knows it, and because she's getting more accustomed to the werewolf thing. The truth is, though, she clearly did feel some kinship to the wolves - and seeing how beautiful they were seems like maybe it helped her adapt to what she is now. I can understand how she felt. Maia, Kiwi, and I felt the same kinship with the big cats, since we're feline shapeshifters.

After visiting the park, we had supper and then swam in the pool again. And that brings us up to the present moment! So there's our Florida update so far.

I wonder what will happen next? :-)


P.S. We haven't forgotten about the Versatile Blogger thing. (Three people tagged us - wow, thanks!) We'll do our best to get it posted soon. We just wanted to update you guys on our vacation first as we planned, before we lost track of what we wanted to tell you about all the cool stuff we've done. We won't forget we need to do that, though, don't worry. ;-) ~S

Thursday, March 15, 2012

To Get Away from It All...

Hey folks, this is Bree. This is a special day for me... anyone remember why? That's okay, you don't have to remember. I'll just tell you. It was exactly one year ago that I joined the family! :-)

Some of you may also recall the circumstances. For various reasons (including no one actually knowing where I was for awhile...) my arrival was delayed way beyond when the family was expecting me, and so when I finally arrived, everyone was about to leave for a trip to Florida that they'd had planned for awhile. Fortunately I got there in time to go along. After all that, it wasn't a big deal to head off somewhere else, and it was a good way to get to know my new sisters.

Well, guess what? It's that time again! The Bree-iversary means it's also time to go back to Florida. We're leaving Saturday morning, and we'll be back on the 27th. We're really excited about beachy fun! :-)

One of the best parts is that this year, the Roses will be coming with us! Last year at this time, we didn't know them yet. Now we're one big family and we all get to go together.

We'll do our best to update the blog while we're gone, although we'll probably be pretty busy so we may not get much time to be online. Blakeney is bringing her laptop and promises to give us a turn from time to time, so we'll try to keep you in the loop.

Yay for vacation time! :-D


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Deeper Understanding

Hello, friends, this is Kaya. This isn't really a news post. It's more of a conversational, thinky post. I talked to Gia today, and I think I understand a little better why she made the choices she made. That understanding means I have a lot more sympathy for her.

Today I was home doing my online classes (I have co-op classes with other students two days a week,) and when I took a break to get a glass of water, Gia was in the kitchen, supposedly marking assignments but more like just staring out the window. She looked pretty lost in thought, so I asked if she was okay.

I have to admit I felt a little weird about it. I care about Gia - we all do - but we also just found out that she'd been working for the evil vampires, and that she got to know us under false pretenses to spy on us for them. I wasn't sure if it was better if we talked about stuff, or if we avoided talking about stuff.

"Hello, Kaya," Gia said with a smile. "I'm doing alright. Would you like to join me?"

Technically, I needed to get back to my schoolwork, but I figured sitting with Gia for a few minutes wouldn't hurt. It seemed like she needed somebody to talk to.

"Sure," I said, and I took the seat beside her. For awhile, we both just looked out the window. Gia was toying with her sleeves, and for the first time I noticed that she had scars from cuts on her forearms. I wondered if it was a suicide attempt, or self-harm. Some of the kids I knew when I was in foster care did that, although I never have. I realized I'd always seen Gia in long sleeves, which wasn't strange because the weather is still really cold, and has been cold since I met her. I'd never seen her arms before.

"Did you ever get counseling about that?" I asked, pointing to her arm.

Gia looked surprised, and said, "What?" Then she realized what I meant, and she said, "Oh, no, I didn't do that to myself. I lived with vampires. They needed blood."

"So you gave it to them?"

She shrugged. "I didn't have much choice. It was my blood or my life. I was more willing to lose the blood."

"I thought vampires bite people?" I asked, wondering if this was totally rude, but Gia didn't seem to mind the questions.

"They do - if they want the person to die or to become a vampire also. The Elders didn't want either for me. I was useful to them, but my primary use was as a human. For example, I can go out during the day, which is immensely helpful to people who can't."

"How long did you work for them?"

"Three years," Gia replied, and I was surprised by that answer. I figured she would say a couple of months. She and Maia started dating in December. I guess what she said before was truer than we realized - she was in deep long before she ever heard of us.

"Were they good to work for? Besides the blood?"

Gia's eyes grew distant, and the muscles in her jaw tensed. For a moment, I could feel her fear without even trying to sense her emotions, then she calmed herself down.

"No," she said simply.

I reached over and put my hand on her arm, and she smiled at me. "It's going to be okay now," I said.

"I hope so," Gia replied. "I'm safe from them now, but..."

I nodded. I knew what she meant: But really being okay depends on how things work out with Maia.

Gia smiled sadly. "I know you must think I'm weak. In fact, I agree with you. I am, especially in comparison to your family. You're all so brave. I just... it's hard to convey in words how bad those years were. At first, I thought I was working for the heroes, but things quickly went badly. They were... very rough with me. I got used to bruises. I got used to being afraid for my life."

I was shocked. "They hit you?"

"Yes, among other things. They were very cruel. I was punished harshly for the slightest mistake, and they constantly reminded me that any misstep might be my last. I regret now that I ever agreed to help them work against your family. At the time, though, it seemed... almost harmless. I didn't see how anything I told them would actually do any damage. They already knew where you lived, and had a good idea of your routines. They knew you were sheltering Clare, Tabitha, Cécile, and Marie-Grace. I'm still not sure how much of what I told them was information they didn't already know."

"You seem to feel pretty terrible, for not telling them anything that bad," I said. I already knew the reason, but I thought it might help her to talk about it.

"What I regret most is all the lying," Gia said sadly. "It was awful, not telling the truth. At first it didn't matter, but then I started having feelings for Maia - big feelings - and then it got really difficult. She's so smart and funny and kind. The more I got to know her, the more I wished I was what I pretended to be."

"But you are," I told her. "You're a good person. You care about Maia. You were just terrified of evil vampires, too."

"Can you ever forgive me, Kaya?" Gia asked. "Will your sisters ever forgive me? Will Maia?"

"I already do," I said. "I understand now. I understand what happened to you, and I feel bad for you. Your family died suddenly and violently - you must have been grieving horribly, and you were all alone. Then these superpowered beings come along and say they'll fix it, and everything is great for awhile, and then they start hurting and terrorizing you. Could I really blame you for making some bad decisions at that point?"

Gia smiled sadly, and said, "Thank you. Your understanding means more than I can say."

"My sisters will understand, too," I assured her. "They'll forgive you. And Maia... she's hurt, but she loves you. Just give her time. It'll be alright. But... can I give you some advice?"

"Of course," Gia replied. "You're wise beyond your years, Kaya. I'd like to hear what you suggest."

I totally blushed at the compliment, but I said, "I think you should tell Maia what you told me. How they hurt you, and how scared you were of them."

"Do you really think so?" Gia asked. "I didn't want to seem like I was making excuses, or acting like what I did was right."

I shook my head. "No, what it does is make it clear this happened for a reason. You didn't just wake up one day and decide to mess with Maia's head - or her heart. You need to tell her, so she'll realize why you did what you did. I think once she knows, she'll understand better. She'll know how much she matters to you."

"Thank you, Kaya," Gia said. "You've given me a lot to think about, and... you're right. I should take your advice.

"You're welcome," I replied. "I should get back to my schoolwork."

When Maia got home, she and Gia talked upstairs for a long time. I think Gia must have taken my advice like she said she would, because when they came down for supper, they seemed a lot more relaxed. Maia was smiling again - a real smile, not a faked one - and she took Gia's hand at one point. It was kind of touching how relieved Gia looked. The atmosphere was less tense than it had been since Gia admitted the truth, and the conversation flowed more naturally, like there wasn't an elephant in the room anymore.

Yep, I think everything will be okay. :-)


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Covert Maneuvers

"It's alright to make mistakes, you're only human
Inside everybody's hiding something
Take time to catch your breath and choose your moment
Don't slide..." -Dido, "Slide"

Hey folks, this is Bree. As we mentioned in our last entry, we've been wondering why Gia (apparently) tried to mislead us by pretending she didn't know anything about vampires. Ordinarily, we would have pursued that immediately, but Gia has been having a bad couple of days. She got bitten by a werewolf, and now she's a werewolf too - which is hard on the body, but she seems to be taking it even harder still emotionally. We decided it was best to give her space for a few days.

A few days have come and gone, though... and it's not just idle curiosity. If Gia had contact with vampires in the past, there's a good chance that would eventually become our problem if she becomes part of our family. If bad vampires were going to come try to murder her, that would be a good thing for us to know, so we could do our best to prevent it.

I decided to go for the direct approach this morning while we were all getting our breakfasts. I was pouring my cornflakes. (Gosh, I love cornflakes! I normally don't get excited about food, because I struggle with disordered eating patterns, but cornflakes make me happy. But anyway...) Without looking up from my bowl, I asked, "So Gia, how do you know about vampires, and how come you acted like you didn't?"

Gia looked pale, wrapped up in her fluffy blue bathrobe, and started to reply automatically without thinking, "Because..."

Our eyes met over the cereal bowls. The secret was blown. She hadn't answered me directly, but she also hadn't stated more convincingly than before that I was wrong and she really hadn't known. It was clear that she did. We all knew that. Apparently Gia decided it was time to come clean.

"I... haven't been entirely honest with you..." Gia admitted haltingly.

"I knew it!" Molly yelled. "She is a vampire!"

There was a lot of eye-rolling, and Felicity hastily shushed her. For various reasons, we knew that Gia couldn't be a vampire. We've seen her go out in the day with no ill-effects. As an elementary school teacher, she has a job where you can't arrange to avoid attending work on sunny days, even in Northern Canada, because night shifts and irregular scheduling aren't an option. We've also seen her eat regular food; the night she came over and she and Maia made us pasta alla carbonara, Gia ate it too, and she even had second helpings. Our resident vampires have also confirmed Gia isn't a vampire, which alone is proof because they can recognize each other, and combined with all the other evidence just makes it impossible.

We're fairly sure Gia was a human before the werewolf bit her last week. She was just a human who apparently knew about vampires.

Gia shook her head. "No, I am... I was... just a regular mortal."

She looked down, like this was going to be a horrible thing to admit, and I wondered what could be that bad. When she spoke again, I realized just what could be.

"I was working for The Elders," Gia said. "They sent me here to keep an eye on you and report back."

"How did you end up working for evil vampires?" I asked. My brain preferred to focus on that than to try to sort out the other part. The part where we trusted her, and she turned out to be a spy.

Kaya frowned, like something didn't make sense, but for the moment she didn't say anything.

Gia replied, "My family - my parents and my brother - were killed by rogue vampires."

With what was probably unnecessary sarcasm, Kirsten said, "I'm sorry for your loss, but... yeah, going to work for killer vampires yourself makes total sense as a response!"

No one shushed her, because we were all feeling pretty stung at that point.

Gia shook her head. "I didn't know they were killer vampires at the time. I thought they were the good guys. They avenged my family for me. I thought they would protect us humans from other vampires. By the time I figured out what they were really about... I was scared, and I didn't know how to get out. When they gave me this 'assignment,' I admit I jumped at it, because I could put some distance between me and them without them watching me all the time, and I could try to sort out my thoughts and decide what to do next."

Maia looked like she'd been stabbed. This probably hurt worse than a knife, I thought.

"So you just pretended all this?" Maia asked shakily. "You pretended... that you loved me?"

Gia shook her head, desperately, looking like she was about to cry. "No! The Elders only told me to make friends with you. The rest of it... those feelings were true. That part was really me. I didn't expect that to happen, and it made me feel horrible to deceive you about why I met you - but what has happened since wasn't fake. I promise!"

There was silence for an awkward span of time. Then I said quietly, "Well... she is still here."

"Hm?" Maia asked absently.

"We fought The Elders weeks ago," I clarified. "Gia's 'assignment' pretty much definitively ended then. But she's still been hanging out with us, even though she didn't have to anymore."

Maia looked a little hopeful, and Kaya nodded, like all this finally made sense. "Gia is telling the truth now," Kaya said.

I'm not sure if our readers remember what Kaya's power is - it's empathy. She can feel echoes of other people's emotions when she concentrates on them. That's why she was confused when Gia admitted why she became part of our lives; that didn't fit with what Kaya perceived of Gia's feelings since.

Gia looked fearfully at Maia, tensing like she expected rejection, but she said softly, "Is this something we can work through?"

Maia thought for a moment, and then said, "Yeah, I think it might be."

I can't report on their conversation beyond that point, because that was when the rest of us decided to make a strategic retreat. We took our cereal downstairs to eat so the two of them could talk in private. I don't know what will happen with Maia and Gia's relationship.

In spite of all this, though, I can honestly say I hope it works out. I believe that Gia is a good person who lost her way for awhile. If she stays with us, I think she'll find it again. She wouldn't be the only one who has found a new path with this family.


Friday, March 9, 2012

The Moon Rises

Hello again, this is Summer. In the last couple of posts, we've talked about Gia's situation - getting bitten by a large animal (which she referred to as a "dog") and then getting very sick but not wanting to go to the doctor. A couple of our readers who commented suggested the possibility that Gia might have been bitten by a werewolf.

It all seemed to fit. It explained what bit her, why there haven't been other sightings of a large predatory animal (since werewolves are human most of the time,) why she got so sick, and why some of our resident vampires had an instinctive negative reaction to her after the bite. 

We talked about it among ourselves, and we decided that a werewolf was the most likely explanation. And yes, in our world there are situations where lycanthropy is the most likely explanation; we're never going to be normal, are we?

The problem is, how were we going to tell Gia? We know things like vampires and fairies are real, which makes it easy to believe werewolves are too... but presumably Gia didn't know about any of this. She probably thought, as most people do, that these are just stories.

So how were we going break the news?

We talked about it over the course of Thursday afternoon - out of Gia's earshot - and we didn't come to an agreement. Molly favoured a direct approach. ("Congratulations, you're a werewolf!") The rest of us thought that was potentially traumatizing, and/or might just make her laugh and not take anything we said seriously. Kiwi suggested that she and I turn into cats in front of her so she would see animal shapeshifters are real - but the verdict from the majority was that this was potentially even more traumatizing, and also might make Gia just think she was insane. Bree suggested we start vague and work up to lycanthropy, which seemed like the best plan... but no one could think of a good conversational direction that would lead us anywhere near that topic.

As far as we knew, there was no hurry. Gia is doing better and seems to be recovering, but doesn't have any intention of leaving yet. No one thought to check the calendar and see when the full moon would be.

Turns out, it was Thursday - as in, that very night.

Us girls were down in the basement of the Rose house, semi-watching television and discussing the werewolf situation, when were heard screams from upstairs. Before we had a chance to respond to the screaming, we heard a crash, followed by more screams and what sounded like furniture being overturned. We ran upstairs, and found a wolf-looking creature, except capable of standing upright, in the living room, crouching behind the now-broken couch. It was not entirely surprising, given our topic of conversation, to see that the werewolf had familiar hazel eyes. Of course, it was Gia.

We weren't sure what to do. With vampires, we were able to get a lot of our information in advance from Clare and Inna. We don't really know what to expect when it comes to werewolves. (Inna confirmed for us that they are real, but knows nothing much else about them.) I'm a feline shapeshifter, and so are Kiwi and Maia, but we're pretty different from werewolves; we were born this way, we were never bitten. Since we didn't have any kind of precedent to draw on, we didn't know what a werewolf would do. Would Gia still act like Gia? Or would she act like a wild animal?

The answer seemed to be somewhere in between. GiaWolf didn't seem to recognize us, but she also didn't seem inclined to harm us at first. She sniffed at us, and paused, as if she wasn't sure what to do.

"Gia?" Maia called. GiaWolf turned to look at her, like she recognized her voice... but then she looked at us girls again, as though she was considering going hunting. This seemed like a problematic situation.

Things got even more problematic when Clare and Tabitha started hissing and snarling at her. Marie-Grace and Cécile also looked upset, but they managed to keep it under control. Our newest vampires didn't seem to be able to handle being around their "natural enemy," though, and they were making their displeasure known. 

GiaWolf dropped down into a crouch, and prepared to charge at the vampires. It was, needless to say, a tense moment.

Maia broke the tension by saying "Gia!" again, but sharply this time, like a command. The instinct to obey the dominant member of the pack overrode the instinct to attack the vampires, and Gia relaxed her stance. It took awhile, but Maia finally managed to talk her down into the basement, into the room we'd fortified for Tabitha when she was a crazy freshly-turned vampire. Once the door shut, we occasionally heard the sound of breaking furniture, and Maia's voice talking to her, calming her down. 

Things quieted down near sunrise, and Maia and Gia (now in fully human form again) came back upstairs. Gia looked a little bruised from her furniture-breaking episodes, a little embarrassed, and a lot shocked, like she couldn't believe what had happened. 

We broke the news to her that werewolves are real - which Gia had already seen for herself. Then we told her about vampires... and she pretended to be surprised, but she wasn't on her game with her acting, and she wasn't really very convincing.

I didn't think about it at the time, but that's kind of weird, isn't it? That she pretended she didn't know about vampires? Why would she do that? Maybe she just figured vampires were plausible after the whole werewolf thing, and didn't already know about them... but why try to pretend it was big news if she'd already figured it out? It seemed like maybe she already knew. I just wonder how she would have...

At the moment, we have bigger problems than Gia being tight-lipped about certain things. Night has fallen again, Gia is currently in wolf form, and is down in our basement. We don't want to be mean by locking her up, but we also don't want her to get out and hurt anybody. We're not sure how long before and after the fullest moon she'll transform, so we don't know how many days to expect this.

It looks like the Greens and the Roses are going to need a crash course on werewolves... the sooner the better!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

After the Storm

Hi, this is Kaya. I realize the post title probably seems like an overblown metaphor, but it isn't... there was a literal storm. It started around midnight last night with ice pellets and high wind, then it turned into a blizzard by early morning. Before long the roads were covered, and we were snowed in. There was no school for anyone today, and most of the non-vital businesses were closed, because the city officials wanted as many people off the road as possible so they could just send the plows through without anyone in the way.

We were all home, and we enjoyed an unexpected break and playing in the snow. Afterward we came in for hot chocolate (for the non-vampires, at least) and plopped down in front of the television to watch the local news. Maybe it's geeky, but when we have a big storm, we always find it interesting to see on the news what other areas of town look like all covered in snow, because we won't get out to see it in person.

They showed footage of a few different parts of town, then they cut to a shot of the reporter standing in front of Gia's apartment complex. Apparently during the storm, some limbs had come off the nearby trees and broken windows in a number of the ground-floor apartments, letting in a bunch of snow.

We didn't mean to snoop on Gia. We honestly and truly didn't. 

We were trying to help - since we didn't know when she'd be getting back from her sudden trip to Italy, we didn't want her to return to a ruined apartment. Maia has a key to her place, and since as far as we knew she wasn't home, we decided to go check on her apartment and make sure it wasn't her window panes that were broken. If it was, we would clear out the snow and the debris and put boards over the windows like the other tenants were doing, so her place wouldn't be totally wrecked before the building super got a chance to fix it.

By this point the roads were pretty well clear but there wasn't much traffic, so we walked over and let ourselves in with Maia's key. The windows weren't broken.

And Gia wasn't in Italy...

We hadn't even thought to question whether she'd really left or not. When we tried phoning and knocking on the door, there was no answer. She had told her boss that she was leaving the country for an undefined absence. Maybe we're naive, but we just assumed she was actually gone.

Gia was in the apartment, huddled in a nest of blankets in the corner of the living room, between the arm of the couch and the wall. She was shaking like she was cold, but the heat was turned all the way up, and she was burning up with a fever. We eventually talked her into letting us look at the bite injury on her arm, and it seemed a lot worse. It was swollen and looked infected. 

She wouldn't tell us what was going on, though - she only answered our questions with a nod or a shake of the head if at all. She refused to let us take her to see a doctor. Fortunately, Gia did agree to come stay with us until she's feeling better, though. We couldn't have forced her, but I couldn't imagine leaving her alone and sick in her empty apartment.

Kiwi and I helped her up the porch steps and into the house. Clare took one look at Gia, and hissed at her. We all stopped what we were doing and froze, shocked.

I've never heard Clare hiss before. Now, Tabitha does that stuff all the time. (Sorry, Tabs, but you do!) Practically whenever she gets frustrated or irritated, or feels remotely threatened, Tabitha will hiss or growl or snarl. It's a new-vampire thing, and Inna says she'll "grow out of it." Clare has been a vampire for over a year now, and she's mostly over those animal-like reactions.

"What was that?" I asked Clare quietly.

Clare shrugged, clearly embarrassed. "I don't know," she said. "I just lost it for a minute. Something about her... I don't know. It's probably nothing."

Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions, but I think it must have something to do with Gia's illness. A couple of days ago Gia played games with us, and Clare seemed to have a good time. There was no hissing. Not even any sign of discomfort. The only thing I can think of that has changed are the bite and the fact Gia is sick. Something about that has to have triggered a vampire reaction in Clare.

I'm not sure what will happen now. Gia is sleeping on the couch. Most of us kind of hovering, especially Maia - but Clare and Tabitha are giving her a wide berth, and neither of them can explain why. Marie-Grace and Cécile don't seem to be having a problem, for some reason.

I wonder what's going on? Hopefully when Gia gets better, things will go back to normal.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Unintended Consequences

Hi, this is Clare. :-)

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since we defeated the mean vampires called The Elders. For our family, this means a chance to breathe more easily. They've had it in for us for awhile - even longer than we realized, because they've been after Inna - and now that they're out of the way, we don't have to worry about getting attacked by them anymore. It's a pretty big relief.

Unfortunately, though, it has also had some unintended consequences that aren't quite so great.

One thing I've been learning in my history lessons is that there's always a balance of power. Humans, vampires, even animals in the wild... doesn't matter. Whenever you have a system or an ecosystem, there's a balance, and if something upsets the balance things are going to change.

The Elders were bullies. They weren't popular; most other vampires didn't like them, because they were so clearly all about their own gain. They were, however, quite powerful, because they were ancient and well-established (thus their chosen name,) and they had a lot of groups who would otherwise be chaotic instead intimidated into obedience with their goals.

There's a reason that in most vampire stories, there's a "masquerade" - vampires having to hide their true natures from humans. If humanity as a whole knew about vampires, we would be in danger... and humans would be in danger when they sought us out. It's better for everyone if things like vampires are kept a secret from most of the mortal population.

The Elders may have been jerks, but they took that to heart. They didn't have any particular sympathy for humans - as far as I know, they used humans as a food source - but they recognized that it was in their own best interests if humans didn't know about us. It would keep the Elders safer, and it would keep their potential prey unawares.

They worked hard to maintain that secrecy - which often meant forcing other vampires to tone down their behaviour, particularly those who acted more animalistic. Sometimes they bullied other vampires for territory, or just to increase their own reputation by defeating an enemy. Sometimes, though, they bullied other vampires for actually being a threat.

In the vampire ecosystem, the Elders were sometimes useful. They were very bad vampires, but they helped keep the other very bad vampires in check.

Now they're gone, and we've been hearing rumours of more trouble. So far nothing catastrophic has happened, but we've gotten word that some vampires who were kept reasonably under control by the Elders are now starting to decide the new order of things means no order at all.

Obviously, this is at least in part our problem. We can't just break things - even if ultimately the breaking made the world better - and not worry about the consequences.

That isn't to say we feel guilty about winning the fight. The Elders pretty much forced a confrontation, and we were defending ourselves. They were blatant murderers of humans and other vampires, and would have continued to be. We did what we needed to, to save our own lives and a lot of other ones.

Things have to change... but I believe it can be a lot better.

I thought when we fought the Elders, one way or the other it would be over. As it turns out, the real work is just beginning.


One other piece of news, also possibly unintended consequences:

The morning after Gia was bitten by a big dog, we tried to phone and make sure she was okay, but there was no answer. We went to her apartment complex and knocked on her door before school, and got no reply. We started to get worried - but of course, Gia is a teacher, so we thought maybe she'd already left for school herself.

At lunch time, Inna got a phone call from Maia, and when we all got home, they broke the news.

Gia had left a message on the school principal's voicemail during the night that she was going back to Italy because of an "emergency" and didn't know when she would return. She didn't tell anyone else or say goodbye.

We're honestly pretty worried. This seems very sudden. I don't think it was our fault that she got bitten by the dog, so I don't see why she would be mad at us - but even if she was, it seems like it would be a pretty big overreaction to stop going to work and leave town.

I wonder why she left so abruptly. Did something else happen? Was the timing just a coincidence? Or did it have to do with the bite she got? I wonder if she's coming back. Poor Gia! I hope she's okay...


Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Bad End to a Good Evening

Hi, this is Summer with an update on Greens and Roses news. This was a fun evening for our family... well, until the end.

For the past few months, Maia has been dating another teacher who works at the same school where she teaches. Her name is Gia, and she's originally from Italy. We've talked to her when she's met up with Maia at the house, and she seems really nice. Normally the two of them go out a couple of times a week, but things are getting more serious, so Maia invited her over to spend some time with us tonight.

We had a really good time. Gia is really funny, and she's a good cook - she showed Maia how to cook pasta alla carbonara, and the two of them made it for the family. It was really good! I had never had it before, but I really liked it. Gia said she'd come over and show us how to make other Italian dishes in the future, which I'm looking forward to.

After supper, we played games for awhile: Scrabble, Monopoly, and Apples to Apples. Our vampires girls came home for that part; they weren't around during supper because we didn't want to have to make up a story for Gia about why they weren't eating the food. The four of them went pigeon hunting while the rest of us had supper, and we just told her (which wasn't a lie) that they were eating somewhere else tonight.

At some point, if Gia and Maia get married or Gia moves in, we're going to have to tell her about the vampires. For now, we thought it was better to just... not have the subject come up. Cécile, Marie-Grace, Clare, and Tabitha got to join us for the games, which was a good compromise, and we all had fun.

Eventually, it had to end. Gia said she had to go prepare some lesson plans for her classes tomorrow, so she thanked us for having her over, and we thanked her for the carbonara. Then we said our goodnights, and we figured we wouldn't see her again until tomorrow.

Twenty minutes later, the doorbell rang... and rang, and rang, and rang, like someone was leaning against it. Inna and I went to the door, and when we opened it, we found Gia on the porch again. She was pale as a sheet, and her sleeve was ripped to the shoulder. Blood was dripping from a huge bite on her upper arm. She was obviously going into shock, and looked like she could barely stand upright.

Inna immediately went and got her car keys; it was clear we were going to have to drive her to Emergency. Maia and I helped her to the car, and the rest of the girls went next door to stay with the Greens while we were gone. We didn't waste any time driving there - fortunately the hospital is only a few blocks away - but while we were on the way, Maia asked quietly, "What happened?"

I was afraid she was going to say it was a vampire. Or maybe 'some crazy bloodsucking biter person,' since she presumably doesn't know vampires are real. I wasn't quite sure what we were going to do if we were in a small car with a freshly-turned vampire who didn't know she was a vampire. Could that even happen? Could you be a vampire and not know you were one?

We all breathed a sigh of relief, though, when Gia didn't say it was a vampire. She said, "I was attacked by a big dog."

I couldn't help thinking that was the cover story we had used when Kiwi had vampire wounds. Was Gia just not telling us what had happened? There were some dark-coloured animal hairs on her blouse, though, and Inna told me later it didn't look the kind of injury that would be caused by a vampire. I guess it really was a dog.

We weren't at the hospital for very long. There wasn't much of a wait. The doctor cleaned the injury, put in a couple of stitches, and then bandaged it all up. Gia didn't have to stay overnight, so we drove her to her apartment building, made sure she had everything she needed, and then left her to get some rest.

It's unfortunate that our fun evening ended at Emergency. Hopefully next time we have someone over for the evening, it won't finish with a scary random dog bite!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Another Mysterious Present

Hi, this is Tabitha. This is my first time ever writing for the blog, although I've been written about by the other girls. I didn't mind them talking about me, but the truth is, I was a little embarrassed to write about myself. When I got here, I was a newly-turned vampire, and I was so out-of-control I couldn't really even express myself. Things got better, but I kind of stopped worrying about it, and then... I hurt Kiwi. I didn't mean to, and she forgave me right away. Everyone forgave me. I couldn't forgive myself. I never want to feel that way again - like I wasn't even myself, I was just this force out of my own control. It still happens in my bad dreams, but I've been working really hard not to let it happen again for real.

That was another reason I haven't blogged. I was afraid of what the readers would think of me. Crazy Tabitha, who caused all the problems with The Elders because they found out about what happened with Kiwi and set their sights on us. Tabitha the animal who almost killed her sister. I didn't see why anyone would want to hear what I had to say.

Since then, my sisters have been doing their best to convince me. They've been encouraging me - and occasionally bugging me - about how I should actually write an entry. I always gave the excuse that I had nothing to say. Today, I have actual news of my very own, so that excuse isn't going to work anymore. I guess I'll give this blogging thing a try. Hopefully no one minds hearing from Crazy Tabitha.

So here goes:

Today, I got a package of my own in the mail. I would have been panicked about this, because ideally most humans (especially vampire hunters) shouldn't know where I am. I was a little bit prepared, though, because Marie-Grace had gotten a package in the mail recently too, and this was very similar to hers. No return address, wrapped in plain brown paper, New Orleans postmark. I figured this had to be from the same mysterious sender who had sent Marie-Grace the necklace that protects her from the sun.

So when I opened my package, I wasn't scared, I was excited. Would there be something that would let me feel the sun on my face again without burning up, too? I miss it so much, and I've never really gotten used to having to hide from the daylight. I could barely bring myself to open it, because I was afraid I would be disappointed if it wasn't what I was wishing for. With trembling fingers, I broke through the tape, unwrapped the paper, and opened the plain brown box.

Inside was a strand of red coral beads. It wasn't just any necklace, though - it had belonged to my grandmother, and her own mother gave it to her originally. Sometimes she let me wear it for very special occasions when I was a little girl. I lifted it out, and put it around my neck.

As I fastened the familiar clasp, I realized something very important about these gifts. They aren't just random necklaces. They already have a tie to each of us. Marie-Grace's necklace is one she lost a long time ago in New Orleans, and mine is one that has been in my family. That means they must have been specifically sent for the recipient. I'm glad we realized this before someone tried to go outside in daylight wearing a necklace that was sent to a different sister! I hope our "friend" sends ones for Clare and Cécile someday, too.

For the first time in months, I stepped outside during the daylight. I stood on the deck, not caring that it was cold and I wasn't wearing a coat, and let the winter sun shine on my face. I closed my eyes, and I could still feel the rays on my skin and see a halo of light through my eyelids. For fourteen years, I took this for granted. I doubt I'll ever take it for granted again.