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Caprice

Caprice

Book excerpt

“You're cooking the gravy too hard!” Grandma Rose grumbled, peering over Constance's shoulder.

Constance rolled her shoulders. I knew that move, she did it whenever my brother made some sort of remark she didn't like, and instead of making a come-back, she did the shoulder roll. Meanwhile she struggled with her inner turmoil. I'm probably the only one who caught on since I'm clairvoyant and also sensitive to emotions—an empath. She wasn't one to argue with anyone if she could avoid it. Especially when in company. In this case it was her husband's grandmother making the snotty remark. I thought Constance had the patients of a saint for all she put up with. Especially today of all days.

Thanksgiving aromas overpowered me. I wiped the sweat from my brow and wanted to strip the sweater off, but resisted. Underneath I only wore my new cranberry camisole, so with company here that wouldn't go over well. Plus Grandma Rose would not appreciate all the skin, I'm sure. The kitchen was small, cramped with one too many people in it, and a hot oven. It didn't help my stomach ached from hunger pains. My only job now was to watch the dinner rolls in the toaster oven. Easy peasy, right? My brother, Randy had the honor of carving the humongous turkey that had been baking since some ungodly hour this morning. It now “rested” on the counter top under a tent of aluminum foil. There were two different stuffings: traditional, and some sort of cranberry thing. I would eat the traditional one because Constance, my sister-in-law, was the only person I knew who baked it inside the turkey—like my mother always did—it was really moist.

“You'll get lumps!” Grandma Rose said, hovering near the stove.

“Grandma, I've done turkey gravy dozens of times, this is perfect!” Constance wore an exasperated look on her face. Yep. She could take no more grousing from anyone, especially grandma.

“It's too thin,” Grandma griped again, glancing down her nose at it through her glasses.

Constance swiped a wayward strand of her honey-blond hair out of her eyes, paused in the stirring of the gravy and gave Grandma one long blink—which means 'back off'. Beads of sweat popped up on her brow. It had to be eighty-five degrees in here. “You just said it was going to get lumpy.” She began stirring again.

Grandma Rose harrumphed and stomped out of my sister-in-law's kitchen. A collective sigh of relief filled the kitchen once she disappeared through the threshold. You wouldn't know she'd had hip replacement surgery only two weeks ago. When asked where her walker was, she'd said that the doctor had given her some new treatment and wouldn't elaborate. But she did have a slight limp.

The buzzing of the carving knife stopped again, and Randy glanced over at us. “She seems to be getting worse every year,” Randy said, shaking his head.

“You mean her hip?” Constance asked.

“No,” he said in a low growl. “Attitude.”

“Did it seem like she was just a wee bit more snarly than normal?” I asked.

“A wee bit?” Constance snorted, then glanced up at the doorway of the kitchen warily. In a low tone she went on, “She's become more of an old bitty as the years drag on. Today is no exception. She berated my driving the whole way over here!”

I couldn't help snicker. My favorite grandmother was, of course, Grandma Tess, my mother's mother. But she lived in South Dakota, and, being a snowbird, she was already down in Arizona for the winter. Someday I promised her I'd go and visit her. It would be nice to experience the desert at Christmas—no snow and palm trees.

I was hanging out in Constance's kitchen not to get away from Grandma's scowl, but to stay away from Bill Gannon, who had been invited by my own brother. He came to the door a half hour ago. My brother didn't know Bill was the descendant of Nephilim. But he was aware of Bill's amorous designs on me (which would remain unrequited, thank you), and had extended the invitation of Thanksgiving to both Mrs. Bench and Bill. Mrs. Bench, my next door neighbor, was a card-carrying witch and Bill's supposed grandmother. Supposed because I had a feeling she had no idea he wasn't really her grandson, but a very good dupe. I'm rarely wrong, and although I couldn't get a read from either of them, I had this Knowing that Bill was not who he said he was, which turned out to be correct.

Things would have gone a little smoother, too, if Grandma wasn't such a pain in the ass. She wasn't afraid to tell anyone what she thought of anything, or anyone. She had told Constance her dress was “too young” for her, and then turned on me and asked if I didn't own any dresses—since I'd worn jeans. But in my own defense, they were pressed and had rhinestones on the back pockets. Plus my sweater was new and in fall colors. Afterwards she commented that maybe my new job didn't pay me enough to buy any good clothes. I almost wanted to show her my checking and savings accounts. That was only the first five minutes she'd been here. She then wondered why the girls were allowed to watch the TV too close, and, in a snide way, said that what they were watching was going to ruin them for life. I had blocked her the best I could all my later years of life, as I was doing now.

I'm a touch clairvoyant. Any time I'm with other people, I know things about them without them telling me. At a much younger age, I would blurt things out that maybe they didn't want other people to know about. It was embarrassing. I was embarrassing to my family. So, I learned how to block other people's emotions and what I might read from them. I call it my Knowing.

It was either a hindrance or a help—depending upon which way you looked at it—to be able to read everyone in this house. This included what they may have done in the past, or something that might happen in their future, or something they knew. For instance, I knew my Aunt Shelly worried about being pregnant—at age forty-five. She hadn't yet told Uncle Monte. These are the things I am privy to without anyone so much as saying a word to me. So, when asked why Grandma Rose didn't have her walker, and she had mumbled something about being on some sort of special medication, it didn't quite square with what I was getting at all—which was absolutely nothing from the woman. Red flags had gone up from that moment on. I simply didn't know what was up with Grandma Rose and why I was unable to get a read from her. This worried me far more than Bill being here. I should have been struggling to not get a read from Grandma, but she was as blank a card as Bill—Bill because he was supernatural.

Crescendo

Crescendo

Nocturne

Nocturne