Monday, November 24, 2008

Blood is Thicker than Water: Blackmail

Abigail was unflinching. “Auntie, first of all, I’m old enough to know about life. Why can’t I go where I want, do what I want?”

I threw up my hands. What sort of imbecilic questions was the child asking me now? “You are a Raintree! And you are not 21! You are not some lower class vagabond or some tawdry street urchin! You can never forget your station in life! You have no choice in what you do!”

I couldn’t believe I’d just said all those things to my Abigail. The words sounded just as harsh as when someone had yelled them into my ringing ears years ago.

Abigail most literally rose to the occasion. She stood up, her eyes flashing, and for a moment I was afraid. “Don’t give me that, you old witch! I know all about you, you spooky old woman! I know how no one could get you to settle down when you were my age! I know you want to stay in New Orleans more than I do! You and your occult bunk!

“Face facts, Aunt Polly. You need me. You can’t stay here without me. Unless you loosen the reins, I’ll write Mama and Papa and tell them everything about everything.

“That I’ve become friends with a priest? My, that will worry them.”

“No,” said Abby. “I’ll tell them about the running around and how you bailed a con man out of the pokey.”

I was stunned. Here was the worst of our family rolled into one. My adventurousness coupled with Melrose’s stubbornness and Josephine’s knack at blackmail. Perhaps Melrose and Laura wouldn’t believe Abigail. But Abigail did have one point. I couldn’t stay in New Orleans without her. The vampires would probably hunt us down in Abernathie and put our whole family in danger. They had to be stopped now, in New Orleans. That meant Abigail had to stay, whether I liked it or not.

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“Try me.”

“Touche, Abigail. You win.” I plopped onto the sofa, feeling old and tired. “I won’t send you home.”

Abigail laughed triumphantly. She kissed my forehead. “I thought you’d see it my way. Good night, dear. I’ll see you in the morning.”

She closed the French doors on her way out, and I felt out of control, fearing the vampires less than the world of Raintree tyranny, as I was about to be victimized by a third generation.

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