B5 —20. Finding A Way Forward


1. Rachel Park (Our Lunar Hades Hare is BACK!)

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Laying in bed, Rachel stared up at the ceiling in the still house as 7 p.m. passed; her father had left to handle business since Nam was still in bed with his passed-out wife.

From what she understood—she’d tried to respect her brother’s privacy—Alexa drifted into bliss soon after getting her in bed, and she’d slept much of the day; he hadn’t left, taking breakfast in his room.

Their mother had been totally enthralled, having Jaenona, Nia, and Scarlet to smother with attention; she was too wound up to sleep, so she’d been mingling and prepping the house to be sunproof.

Molly had ordered all the materials to make retractable, totally safe blinds while they were in Cuba and waited for them to return so she could make a project out of it with her new adopted daughter—bonding plots.

It was nice seeing this bubbly side of her mother take the foreground again, but it was a tad overwhelming for Rachel.  After a few hours, she’d excused herself to isolate, cool off, and be the fly on the wall, listening to the joyful conversations rather than being an active part.

Her mother had made breakfast in the morning with the girls, Mason, and Anthony, sending her boyfriend up with giggles to deliver it; to their disappointment, Rachel was asleep—more accurately, she was pretending to be asleep—when he came to drop it off; she didn’t know exactly why, but she did.

Not ten minutes ago, her mother finally ran out of steam and begrudgingly went to take a nap—she’d be out until the morning, Rachel was sure.

Scarlet and the others had entertained her, but after Molly retired, they followed; their sleep schedule would be totally off for the next few days, which wasn’t good for the vamp girl, who would be homebound during light hours.

Anthony was still experiencing the effects of his transformation, and Jaenona still suffered from her weakened constitution, causing the pair to sleep in one of the guest rooms with Mason.

She had to chuckle at how cramped the full-sized mattress must be with the Bear Beastkin and tall Legend in the same bed; they hadn’t really made any complaints, though, which saddened her expectations.

Jessy had taken Jaenona into the bathroom to get ready for bed, introducing her to the concept of cleaning yourself—much to the eldritch girl’s entertainment; Scarlet had already collapsed in her bed, mentally and emotionally spent.

Gisele rested on the footboard of her bed, head tucked under her wing as her chest rose and fell; whether she’d been a tad overwhelmed by the initial attention as well or just wanted to be with her, Rachel didn’t know.

She wasn’t sure when her dad would get home, but she was happy to have at least eight to ten hours to process things.

Finger’s touching her breast, she let guilt escape her lungs.

How in the world can I reconcile Mom’s anxiety and what I need to do…  Mythic isn’t just some small thing anymore; things are blowing way out of proportion.  I can’t keep tearing her heart to pieces… but leaving this scene isn’t an option.

Nia trudged up the stairs, yawning and ready for bed; this had been her second time out since returning home.

“Yaaahhammgh…”  Nia smacked her lips.  “Lazy tail…  I’m going to bed again.  How’s Big Sis?”

Still mad?  Rachel returned, shooting the girl a half-smile as she opened her door without knocking.

The 14-year-old girl glared at the untouched food on the dresser Anthony had left for dinner.  “Yes.  You totally bailed on Mom…  What are you even doing, sulking up here all day?”


“Humph…  Why’d I even ask…”  Nia mumbled; she seemed too spent to even argue, which was new for the hyperactive bunny.  “What about Big Sis?”

Watching her dissolve into sparkling colors to return to her original body, currently, in the form of Rachel’s nightwear, Rachel’s gaze returned to the ceiling.  She’s still invisible.

“On the roof?”


“Why haven’t you talked to her?!”

She needs time, Teacup.

“H-Huh?!  No…  You heard that nickname?”

Rachel unconsciously rubbed the girl’s ears inside her Core with a short giggle.  I think it’s cute, and Mom saw how much you liked the whole tea party thing.

“It was fun…  You should join next time.  Anthony did it with me,” she whispered, getting into bed to sleep.  “Why do you feel guilty?”

Rachel’s lips drew in, cursing the fact her living outfit could discover certain things if she went snooping around since they were spiritually connected.  I don’t like hurting Mom, and…  I’m just trying to figure things out.  Have fun?

“Mhm…  It would have been more fun if you were there.”

Next time, Rachel sighed, mentally tucking her in.


Yup!  Go to bed so we can have more fun.  Okay?

“Alright…  I’ll hold you to that promise!  Let’s go shopping—it’ll make Mom happy.”

Rachel kissed her head before turning out the lights in Nia’s imaginary room within her Core.  Hehe.  Not just her, I bet.  Sleep tight, Teacup.


Jessy guided the little snow-haired girl to their room to snuggle next to Scarlet, and once everyone was resting, Rachel lifted herself up to stare at her dinner; it was way more than she needed.

Gisele’s feathers ruffled as she got up and transferred to her shoulder as she left, taking the dish downstairs to warm up and eat in solitude; she shared a bit of the cooked steak with her mythical bird.

Taking time to study the orderly and clean kitchen—her mom’s special place—Rachel let the tide of memories carry her through the depths of her past.  In this room, her mother was the goddess of her domain, wielding a wooden spatula like a weapon, and god forbid you broke one of her many etiquette rules.

There were a few options that passed through her mind throughout the night, but the most likely option made her hesitate, and she hated it; the sweet honey pot of these Seeds carried with it a looming devil, asking for you to sign the dotted line, as Alexa had discovered.

Rachel shifted her violet skirt as she crossed her legs and closed her eyes to run through the connecting dots she saw branching into the future; she heard her brother walking down the stairs, likely figuring she was up due to her door’s slight squeak.

“Am I interrupting?”

Vision opening, she smiled and shook her head, rising to her feet to go to the fridge; opening it..

“How’s Alexa?”

Nam ran his fingers through his messy black hair, watching her four little buns hop across the floor as she summoned them and took out the food her mother had prepared for the gang.

“Not like you don’t know, Sis.”

Gisele and the four see-through bunnies acknowledged each other with leery eyes; Rachel wasn’t sure when they’d developed this rivalry.

Ears spreading out to draw his focus, she chuckled.  “I’ve been trying to keep these to myself.”

Closing the fridge and uncovering the plates to place on the table for the excited Rabbit Gang, Rachel motioned her brother toward the front door.  “I’ll keep an ear on Alexa in case wakes up; want to go on a walk?”

Debating it for a second, he nodded, and Rachel smiled when he slipped on his jogging shoes rather than his typical footwear.  Leaving her buns to feast, Gisele and Nam joined her outside.

Their jog took them on a wider path as she listened to her sister-in-law’s gentle breathing and waited for her brother to voice what was on his mind.  Neighbors waved, and she heard more than a few comments from people that recognized her, which wasn’t all that difficult when you glowed in the dark.

Nam returned a gesture from another jogging couple, forcing a smile.  “Is… this what it’s going to be like for Alexa now?”

“Hmm…”  Rachel studied the rising moon on its slow rise into the sky.  “I can see her being popular in the media if she does join Mythic, but I don’t think that’s what you really want to ask…  You didn’t expect her to meet the requirements to join, did you?”

His eyes lowered to the sidewalk, centering on each line in their casual pace.  “I… don’t know what I expected, to be honest.  Maybe…  I didn’t change much, but bypassing all the jokes… this is harder than I thought.”

“A 13-year-old wife…  I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now,” she mumbled, knowing it would be some men’s dreams, but her brother wasn’t one of those men.

Being married to an anime and cosplay lover, she was sure Nam knew at least something about the lolicon trope, yet reality was very different than fantasy; her brother was spiraling into thoughts about their future and how this could tear them apart in the long run.

Nam couldn’t hide the doubt, pain, and fear in his voice from her ears as they continued to progress to each new street spotlight.  “Alexa wants kids at some point…  We’ve talked about it, and I was excited…  How does this change that?  Can she even have kids as an angel?

Yseress’ tragic story regarding her own mother’s nightmarish capture and torture made her believe the answer was yes, but the magical girl aspect of Alexa’s transformation put an edge of doubt on the possibility or even if she would ever age again.

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Progressing to a walk as her brother began to breathe harder, Rachel’s ears drew back to stare up at the black veil of the light-polluted heavens, and Gisele landed on her shoulder to nuzzle her head.

“If you’re looking for answers, Nam…  I don’t know how useful I’ll be.  I’m here for you and Alexa, but…”

“Heh… you’ve always been more of a realist.”

“I don’t know if I can have kids,” Rachel shrugged.  “I don’t let it keep me up at night because, well, I don’t know, and I’ll cross that bridge whenever it comes.  Alexa knew the risks and tossed the dice.”

“Hmm…  Can she join your organization?”

Rachel gave him a slight smirk and nudged his side.  “I don’t know, stupid.  She’s only been conscious for a good few minutes before passing out in bed.”

Nam swallowed and rubbed his forehead, likely experiencing a headache since he hadn’t been able to sleep.  “If you were to guess?”

“Huu-haaa…  It’s possible.  When it comes to holy-type damage dealers, we’ve only got Maria, and she’s more of a support healer—she fills a niche we need—and that’s all I can say for sure.”

“What about Yseress?”

“Pfft!  She’s far from a holy-type, bro.  No, she’s going through her own identity crisis right now, I think, after that enhanced Seed fused with her… it seems to be a pattern, which has me questioning a lot of things.”

A melancholy twist came to her brother’s mouth.  “Everyone’s so focused on how she looks and how cute Alexa is now… but I’m worried about what this means for our future.”

Rachel forced a chuckle.  “That’s like you…  I can relate.”

“Hehe.  Something we got from Dad?”

“Probably,” she sighed.  “What am I going to do about Mom?”

Nam fell silent after looking at her expression, and it took several minutes for him to break the stalled conversation.

“The Oscillation only gave us problems…  Mom was killing herself after you left for Cuba—the news was always on, increasing her anxiety, as the news usually does, and she wasn’t getting much sleep the first week, thinking she’d miss something.”

“Yeah…  I figured.”  Hearing the note in Nam’s voice, Rachel closed her eyes and tightened her left fist.  “And you’ll be the same if Alexa goes into those terrifying situations…  I know that attack at the Police station had an effect on you.”

Nam’s fingers pressed against his breast with a sad smirk.  “Alexa took it like a champ… as if it didn’t affect her at all—seeing dead bodies… arms ripped off and faces split open…  The screams… the smell…  I don’t know.  I’m not cut out for that kind of thing—not like you, Rach…”

“…”  Rachel stroked Gisele’s head, making her chirp.  “You’re scared Alexa will be the same?”

“I’m terrified of a lot of things,” he mumbled, staring up at the crescent moon.  “Selfish or not… you can’t say our family is being slowly pulled apart.  I did hope you wouldn’t find a way to give Alexa powers… and though I support her decision and reason to be more… I didn’t need her to be more.”

“I get that…  Especially since this has so drastically shifted things.  Heh, last night I contemplated contacting the President to get you a presidential pardon.”

“A pardon?”  Nam questioned, eyebrows drawing together as she snickered.

“Well… you are married to a minor now, and there are laws against that.  I don’t know… it’s messy… everything’s become messy, but I’m trying to work things out… make things work.  I’m trying, Nam.”

Her brother slowed to pull her into a hug.  “I know…  I can’t imagine how hard your life is—juggling everything—and it’s not as if you wanted to get in bed with the government.”

Keeping her ears spread to not slap him in the face, she rested her forehead against his chest.  “I made my own bed…  I’m responsible for my own actions; besides, it gives me liberties others can only dream of.  Yes, there are challenging parts to it, but I’m content with what I have going.”

Emotion touched her brother’s voice as Gisele fluttered into the air.

“What can I do?”

“Accept it… live another day…  We’ll figure it out.  I won’t let anything bad happen to her—and, heh, she hasn’t even joined or gone on a test run.  Unless I know she’s capable of handling herself, I’m not going to put her in a position that I’ll regret—I try to think things through.”

“I know…  I know.  Mmh.  You don’t know when she’ll wake up?”

“Not a clue.”

“Alright.  I should head back.”

Breaking away, Rachel tapped his chest with the back of her hand.  “I’d make you a snack, but Mom’s got it covered for at least a week after everything they did last night.”

Nam laughed, helping to relieve the tightness in her chest.  “You, cook?  Right…”

“You know I can make a mean grilled cheese!”



“Watching me make you a grilled cheese doesn’t mean you know how to make one,” he mused.

“Mmh… fair, but I worked at a restaurant for a bit in Miami… before, heh, totally ghosting it after I changed.”

Nam patted her back.  “If I need a table waited, I’ll let you know, sis, but I’ll be doing my own cooking or sticking to mom’s.”

“Suit yourself.  Nia would squeal at the opportunity,” she snickered, wondering if she should intentionally burn it to see how the girl would react.

Halfway back, Nam whispered, “How soon until you take her away for the trial?  I know she’ll want to distract herself from all the hard questions… forget her troubles by distracting herself with her new powers.”

A shiver ran down Rachel’s spine as she felt Yseress finally move, flying into the night to hover above them—she suspected the cold finger running down her back was the nephilim’s prank—it seemed it was ‘find comfort in Rachel’ hour as she prepared to meet the woman.

“Unfortunately… again, I can’t say.  Part of my group is off on a pirate adventure, exploring new avenues and getting answers.  I’d like to have a few days to spend with Mom until I can figure things out myself, and who can say how time will operate for Cahira and those she took with her?

Until they return, I’m just killing time and giving it to Fiona and Maria’s families to spend time with them; they deserve a break after everything we went through in Cuba.”

Nam tucked under his lower lip as she came to a stop, realizing she was going to remain outside.  “Heh…  You don’t count for that… deserving a break—you really can’t stand still, can you?”

“Guilty!  Haha.  Well, I got other things I need to take care of, and your wife’s still sleeping.  Like I said, don’t sweat the things you can’t change, Nam.  All we have is what we’re leaving behind, so… build what you can with Alexa and try to find something positive about this.”

Seeing his strained expression, she chuckled.  “I know—it’s hard to find a silver lining when your wife turns into a little girl… possibly forever, but… at least you don’t have a 5-year-old eldritch child living inside you, or your mother unconvinced she’s somehow not your daughter!”

“Yeah…”  Nam hissed.  “Poor Anthony…”

“What about poor Sis—c’mon!”

“Hehe.  Well, thanks for hearing me out, Rach.  Catch you later?”

“Sure thing.  Oh, and, heh, take the buns up to snuggle; I’m sure Alexa will love the extra bodies, and they’re nice, squishy, and warm.”

“Sounds good.  Haaa…  I love her, Rach.”

“I know…”

Waving him off, she held her arm behind her back as the devilish woman descended from the sky to land behind her, still invisible to any onlookers.

“What a silly man,” the black-winged nephilim huffed.

Rachel gave her a side-long smirk.  “Oh?  Enlighten me, and you can reveal yourself to the public; we need to get the neighborhood used to seeing us, so we don’t spook them at random.”

“Ugh…  If you insist,” she growled, feathers ruffling as she dropped her cloak of shadows.

“Mmh?  Is someone shy of being seen like an angel?”  she snickered, moving over to examine the woman’s puffy feathers.

“Stop!  You can’t just… touch a woman’s wings—the nerve…”

Laughing, Rachel held her hands behind her back while returning the way she’d come on her random stroll, not caring which direction she went.  “What a shy devil you are.”

“Well, excuse me,” Yseress grunted, crossing her arms under her bust.  “I am not… accustomed to living in a non-apocalyptic world, where humans do not hide like insects, starving and tortured until their mortal frame fails them and their corrupted spirits are pulled into Hades.”

“Way to kill the mood,” she sighed.  “How is Nam silly—have some insight as a corrupted nephilim?”

“Hmm.  Does he not understand the benefits of drawing an angel’s heart?  The health benefits of an angel’s kiss…”

“Blegh, he’s practically wearing anti-evil perfume by sleeping next to that toxic aura—I can smell it on the wind… disgusting, and I haven’t even gotten to the forbidden fruits of pleasure she could enthrall him in with only a puff of air in the, heh, proper places…”  the black-winged woman described teasingly.


Yseress brushed back her black, ruby-highlighted locks to wave at the fearful or curious groups of people that lingered at a distance to see the horned, black-feathered angel.  “Am I not?  I have censored myself greatly when in your presence, Mistress.”

Rachel’s ears shifted to various positions in their walk as she waited for the woman to open up; she hoped she wouldn’t have to wait all night for her pride to break down.

Thirty minutes went by in total silence; the nephilim was probably hoping she’d grow bored or impatient, but so long as she could move, Rachel was perfectly content with waiting for her walls to break down—she could distract herself with the multitude of events happening within her audible range.

Her home was buzzing with talk about various topics around the world, between giant monsters like Selvaria, the pirate troubles overcasting the seas, and national conflicts, such as Russia and China’s latest actions.

She learned a lot from the public think-tank, but there were a lot of conspiracies cast by all kinds of people, from corporate to government.

The ebbing flow of crawling, opiate-laced mediocrity she heard from the multitudes, complaining about various meaningless problems, left her feeling numb as the tide of her turbulent mind pulled her into a maelstrom of complications compounding her life.

“Troubled mind, Mistress?”

“Hmm-hmm.  You could say that…  Done going in circles yourself?”

Yseress’s fangs poked through her lips, reminding Rachel of her unofficially adopted little sister, sleeping back home.  “I never dreamed of the day I would feel so… free.”

“Free?”  Rachel scoffed, glad to have something to distract her from the ridiculous problems of the local population.  “You’re my slave.”

“Yes, well… you wouldn’t understand,” she whispered, a small smile playing at the corner of her lips.  “You think you have these feelings in your head of slavery and evil deeds…

“Oh, you arrogant mortals.  Humanity’s penchant for self-importance and a need to have everything revolve around their little worlds really is a knife against the wrist.  Heh… lip-service platitudes until their bubble pops.”

Rachel followed her gaze to the couples and joggers that now gave them a wide circle, mumbling to one another about a demonic angel.  “What has you ruffled?”

“Hmm…”  The nephilim’s smirk shifted to her.  “I’ve witnessed the true end of days for you mortals—took part in more than a few such calamities, and now… now I feel as if I am in a morphine-dipped fantasy.”

“None of this feels real?”

“What a large house of glass,” Yseress snickered, clawed fingers lifting to the heavens.  “When true devastation strikes… all that envy and greed give way to hopelessness.  Envy is a person in luxury…

“What a funny way to live, breeding in self-righteous desires that lead to nothing—what slow death mortals cling to—needing someone to forgive them and make it all disappear… leading them to the Hades they deny while killing time in this indulgent world by seeking that which you cannot grasp once passing on, or… at least, heh, not as one wishes.”

Twirling around, she giggled, seeing something Rachel could not as the woman relived her time in the infernal pits.

“He-he-he-he.  A pack of good deeds for the entry fee into Hades, all dressed up for judgment day in your thin cloth of self-righteous causes for your sins to strip it away.  Humanity views themselves as such powerful creatures, yet they are the lowest of demons… falling into line like whipped dogs, yet everyone sees themselves as gods until they enter the pits.  This life is an audition, then you die.”

Rachel closed her eyes and hissed out a long breath as everything clicked.  “Well played… reading my own state of mind to distract me.  From whose honey pot have we been stealing, hmm?”

Yseress’ twinkling irises drifted to her.  “You know, the funny thing is that everyone ends up where they’ll be the most comfortable.  Do you suppose killers will be happy in a place filled with saints?  No, they’re sent to a place where they are in like company…  I don’t belong here, Mistress.”

Puffing out a long stream of air, Rachel’s mouth became a line.  “I think you’re going through a midlife crisis, of sorts—heh, mid-purified crisis—all the paint on your walls is peeling off, showing you what you don’t like, so you’re hiding it behind flowery words and metaphors, throwing stones at your glass house from the inside.”

A bitter hollow replaced the mask inside the woman’s gaze.  “The slow pain…  If the air you breathe was given… all your sins are forgiven… right?  I never expected to go down this path.  How much of a joke is Existence as a fallen angel who seeks redemption, hmm?”

Rachel followed her hum.  “When was the last time you felt right and in line with this other half of yourself…  Never, because you never had the chance.  You were born into sin in a fallen world that tore you apart before you even had a chance to make a decision.”

She leveled a vicious glare at her black-winged angel.  “I’m not so kind as to let you give up on something you wanted but could never start the path; your previous mistress used up every drop of that divine force you’d—in her words—so carefully cultivated…  Do you think she felt guilty for that and proposed this deal because of what she needed to do?”

Yseress stopped, seemingly unable to process what she’d just postulated.

Rachel winked.  “Something to chew on, but we’ll have to ask her when we storm Lucifer’s fortress and rescue your poor damsel of a fallen goddess.”

“You are… so brash,” Yseress chuckled.  “Haaa…  I have had more of an effect on you than I believe you realize.”

“Have you?”  Rachel pondered, tapping her lower lip.  “I could see it being the other way around… but the truth’s more likely in the middle.  Haha!”

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“What a mistress you are…”

Silence stretched for a time as she stopped to stare up at the moon, and not willing to voice the thought in her mind—her heart quivered—and she posed it to her troublesome nephilim servant.


“Ooh.  Secrets?”

Should I ask my mother if she wants a Seed?

The woman paused, wings pulling in as she dissected her shocking question.  “You want to bring your mother into Mythic to mitigate the guilt you feel by giving her a chance to be a part of this section of your life?”

Teeth clamping together, her tight chest locked air in her lungs.  I don’t know what I’m thinking…  I can’t think of any other way to at least bridge the gap between us to a slight degree.  Tell me there’s a better way.  Do you have any devilish ideas?

“Hmm.”  Yseress studied her for a time.  “It’s a selfish desire, but done for a righteous cause, or so you believe.  I’d say be careful, Mistress.  You’re trapping yourself in a prison, yet there is a world on the outside.  Speak to your mother, and, rather than going into it with any motive… express your needs, let her reveal hers, and find a compromise.”

Vanishing in a flurry of burning feathers, the nephilim returned to Rachel’s Core.  “This is not something I believe your overactive mind will solve but rather damage.  It isn’t a question of practicality but a collision of hearts, and it must be solved by the heart.”

The overshadowing moon above her lifted Rachel’s head.  Hmm-hehe…  You always surprise me.  Have a good night.

“Goodnight, Mistress, and I hope you find your bed soon.”

Shaking her head at the helpful nephilim’s dualistic nature, Rachel looked up as Gisele returned from her nighttime hunt.  What a ride this life has become.

Returning home to rest, she only had five hours of sleep before Cahira’s voice roused her mind; the redhead was speeding in a car, driving at least ten miles over the freeway speed limit.

Rachel rolled around her neck before getting to her feet; everyone was still asleep, Gisele not even lifting her head from her wing as she stretched.

Five hours was plenty for her, and Rachel decided to meet up with the pirate before they got to the house—in order to not wake anyone up—especially after hearing a woman named Melissa speaking in the car; part of Cahira and Melissa’s conversation sparked her interest.

By the restless movements of Alexa, the angel would likely rise soon, although Nam was now the one out cold, lying under her wing.

Rachel almost made it out of her room without anyone noticing; Anthony was rolling out of bed soon after with his living, child weapon becoming an inchworm to escape the clutches of her two teenage jailors.

She had to giggle upon seeing Anthony’s pleading, puppy-dog eyes while presenting the grinning eldritch 5-year-old; naturally, he wasn’t comfortable helping her change clothes, seeing as she was so unaware of such concepts, and Jessy had been the one to help her the night before.

Not wanting to waste time, she dug into the very well-organized shed outside to extract the clothes she’d had as a little girl; she put the little girl in a yellow shirt and skirt, and a simple ponytail worked for her hair.

Leaving the house to breathe in the night air, she kissed her boyfriend, happy to mix a new memory of her house with his lips.  Holding his hand on their first casual night in what seemed forever, she guided them to the car Cahira used.

The Pirate Queen had been expecting her at some point and pulled over to let them in the SUV; Melissa was an interesting cat girl with her void-like black eyes that held a deep crimson light—the fact she was the Myth of Scylla shocked her even more, along with the tale behind her rescue.

Selvaria—to her great displeasure—had been forced to remain on Zippy, considering her weight had increased significantly over the month.

Rachel listened to the woman’s exciting story, asking a few questions as she processed the information.

Melissa fidgeted the entire time as if in the middle of an interview, but so far as Rachel was concerned, they were getting closer to being able to form two actionable groups with her addition.

Anthony mostly took everything in without comment yet could understand her desire to quickly go to her sister’s rescue; it would provide a means to also test Alexa’s potential.

Rachel nibbled on her lower lip, putting herself in Melissa’s shoes for a moment; she’d race off alone—screw what anyone else thought—she’d get her brother, mom, or dad back, but Melissa wasn’t her.

“Huu-haaa…  Melissa.”

The girl swallowed, shifting in the front seat to give her a nervous look.  “Mhm—w-will you help me get my sister back—save her?  I know it’s asking a lot…”

Cahira, Anthony, and Jaenona’s focus were on her, and a new idea came to Rachel; if there was one thing that could spur her mother into action and get her to understand the need to take action, it was in defense of a family member—at the very least, it could break the ice.

“I believe we can help, Melissa, and I suspect the web she’s connected by has something to do with someone we’ll need to deal with at some point anyway, but…”

The hope in Melissa’s widening eyes filled with apprehension.  “But?”

Anthony forced a chuckle, jabbing his elbow into Rachel’s side as he revealed the condition.  “You’ll need to meet the family, I’m guessing.  Molly’s going to love her.”

Rachel rubbed the sore area, punching Anthony back and making him laugh.  “The struggling girl—in need of help—and only one place to turn to rescue her beloved sister?  I think I’m going to kill my mother with a sugar overdose before the stress gets to her.”

“To home it be!”  Cahira cheered, stepping on the gas.

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