Teapots & Treachery

By: Donna K. Weaver


I turned away, stung. For the almost twenty years of our lives he’d always been my balance, helping me keep things in perspective, but he could be a royal pain too. Especially with his brutal honesty.

“I don’t have to be here, you know,” I said, trying to ignore him.

“Since you lost your job, it’s not like you have anywhere else to go.” Ezra grimaced as soon as he said it.

My eyes burned, and I turned away to watch the trees pass by. I’d lost more than my job when I’d been laid off. And he knew it. Punk.

“I’m sorry, Lia.” Ezra’s voice softened, all the edge gone. “That came out harsher than I meant.”

Mellie shifted on the seat between us, and I reached down to brush the curls from her little face. Her frail, skinny legs dangled over the seat. I wanted the simple acceptance and joy she had—that everyone else in my family had—about the move.

The unhappiness came from more than just moving a couple of states away from where I’d lived all my life. Dad had inherited a castle. A freaking castle. Who takes apart an Irish castle and reconstructs it in northern Washington? Some psycho Savage ancestor, of course.

“Help me be happy about this, Ez.”

“All right.” He turned thoughtful. As usual, his nerdy, black-rimmed glasses had slipped down his nose, and a long strand of hair kept falling into his eyes. “Answer this: is it really so hard for you to help Mom and Dad for a few months?”

“Of course it isn’t.” I leaned my head against the seat and stared at the car ceiling.

“Then what are you really afraid of?”

“That I won’t be able to go back to Sacramento,” I whispered, thinking of the culinary certificate I’d earned right before I’d lost my job.

“I’ve said this before—” He shot me a smug glance for emphasis. “look at it as a temporary summer job.”

Ezra had said something like that before, but I had blown it off. I heaved out a breath. He was right. I hated it when he was right. Still, as I accepted it, the horrible sense of being in prison eased a little for the first time since the letter had come from the attorney.

“Haven’t Mom and Dad waited long enough for their dream to come true?” he asked, his voice soft. “Let’s help them and just enjoy this summer together.”

I heard the word “last” even though he didn’t say it—our last summer together.

And there it hung in the air, the ultimate reason I hated this amazing thing that had happened to us. Two months ago Dad had inherited hundreds of acres, including a castle. I should be happy for him. But an inheritance shouldn’t pull our family in different directions. In Sacramento we’d had a good life. After a few lean years, Dad’s business had taken off again. We had friends there, a support group. Some of us had plans.

For more than a year, my best friend Taylor and I had talked about opening our own dessert boutique. Then the letter from the attorney had come, and I’d been the rope in a tug-of-war, pulled back and forth: stay with the family I loved or pursue my dream.

It hadn’t been hard for Ezra. Two years ago he’d barely blinked at turning down a scholarship to Berkeley. He’d said he’d rather get his computer science degree online than make a three-hour commute round trip, and he sure didn’t want to live in the Bay Area. It was too far from family.

I sighed again. Too far from family. I’d always counted on them being nearby.

“Here,” I said. “Let her rest on me, so you can work on your assignment.”

“Thanks.” Ezra eased his arm out from behind Mellie.

With care, I shifted her. Up front, Mom said something to the boys, and they all laughed. Our eyes met when she checked the rearview mirror, and she winked. She looked so happy.

My parents had talked for years about buying a big house and turning it into a bed and breakfast. Dad’s building skills and Mom’s organizing and killer decorating skills? Perfect combo. Inheriting the castle really was a dream come true for them.

I needed to stop fighting my decision. Like Ezra had said, there hadn’t been much of a decision once I’d lost my job. It took money to open a dessert boutique. I might as well work for my father in Washington as for a stranger in Sacramento.

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