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Episode 1202: Something To Talk About

Ava grabbed the mail and brought it to the kitchen table, separating it into categories as usual, coupons, catalogs, etc. Feet and back killing her at this stage of her pregnancy, Ava lowered herself onto one of the kitchen chairs before continuing her sorting task.

Just as her elderly cat, Shelby, settled like a purring blanket across Ava’s toes, Ava swallowed hard as she took in the last piece of mail. The extra thick black card stock with perfect gold embossed calligraphy and illustrated pumpkins, the invite looked like it cost more than the average person’s weekly salary.

Still, the lux trappings weren’t what had most grabbed her attention. She’d figured it had been too good to be true the moment Sebastian had passed along the message. She and her dad had discussed as much, that the odds of Phillip Marques backing off were slim to none.

And here it was, the blackmail, the holding things over her head, not yet done with, still a torment. Fortunately the card stock was so sturdy or her tight grip would have crumpled it without even meaning to, and Ava did not want to do that to her husband, make him feel like she detested his parents that much, even if she kind of did.

Avalon couldn’t quite keep her voice even, the faintest hint of resentment crept into her voice as she said, “so much for your parents not pressuring us into spending time with them. Apparently they’ve added a masquerade gala to their roster of events at the house and we’re expected to attend.”

“It really says we’re expected to attend?” Bas asked in a way that seemed to suspect no machinations from his parents. Ava supposed it was nice that he still wanted to see good in them after all the disappointments and manipulations, it at least said good things about him if not them.

Sebastian set down the takeout container that he’d been dishing out on to two plates and stepped to the table. She set the invitation into his outstretched hand. “There’s nothing mandatory on here, Av. It’s a standard invite with an option to RSVP,” he said. “It’s optional.”

“Is it?”

“My dad promised he was giving us space. My mom’s latest assistant probably had us on a mailing list. They won’t actually be expecting us, especially not with your due date so close to Halloween.”

“Yeah, so maybe this time his father would let it slide, not push, but what about next time? And the time after that? When would Phillip Marques ever stop holding this over her head? Probably never.

“Sebastian,” she said. “There’s something I need to talk to you about.”

Episode 1203: Honesty

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