The day before the party, the Epstein house was silent. Laurel’s agenda for the day was to make and distribute the garlic wreaths to her family and club friends. She had taken care of all the party arrangements so her schedule was clear. Never had she been more grateful to have a butler. The house was immaculately clean as if six people and a butler didn’t live there.
Laurel quickly assembled the six wreaths following what she’d learned from the ancient vampire tome. Even though she couldn’t be sure everyone was home, she set out anyway to deliver the wreaths. She took little Emilie with her to enjoy her last full day of being a toddler.
The first stop was Carmen’s house. Laurel knocked on the door while Emilie became fascinated by the birdhouse in Carmen’s yard.
Carmen was off from work that day, but perhaps she had another meeting with a gallery or museum. Laurel hoped she wasn’t off somewhere with Hugo. She hung the wreath by the front door and texted Carmen to let her know.
Next stop was into the city to the Ralstons. Laurel knocked on the door.
It was unlocked and Gavin’s grandfather Cristian called for them to let themselves in.
Emilie, being Emilie, walked right up to Cristian and started talking. Laurel hurried over to catch up to her toddler who had a bad habit of insisting at the top of her lungs that people play with her.
“Hi! I’m Emilie! Where’s Mista Gavin?”
Expecting to hear a grown-up voice, and surprised by what he heard instead, Cristian finally looked up from the computer.
“Well hello there, Emilie. I’m Cristian Ralston. Gavin is at work right now. Maybe I can help you?”
“Your name is long! I can’t say that. Mommy, what’s his name?”
“Oh goodness,” said Laurel, “I’m sorry Cristian, my youngest child has no filter. Emilie, his name is Chris-tee-anne Rowls-ton. Can you say that?”
Emilie just stared at her mom.
“Okay, just call him Mr. R.”
“Mr. R! Mr. R.! Mr. R!”
“That works for me,” said Cristian with a laugh.
“Me too,” said Emilie.
“Now that that’s settled,” said Laurel, “We came to drop off a garlic wreath for your family. It is supposed to hang right be the front door. It should ward off most vampires, making them so uncomfortable they immediately want to leave the premises.”
“Sounds good,” said Cristian. “Emilie will this keep my family safe?”
“Garlic is good, but mommy won’t let me have it for breakfast!”
“I’ll take that as a yes. You can hang it by the door. I’ll let Gavin know you two stopped by. It was lovely to meet you Miss Emilie.”
Laurel picked up Emilie before she could derail the day any further. She hung the wreath, said goodbye, then headed out to their next destination.
Next stop was Quincy and Daniella’s temporary home. As soon as Emilie saw Quincy she demanded a hug and to know where Dani was.
Quincy explained Daniella was inside taking care of their triplets. Once Laurel knew Emilie was in good hands, she instructed her to stay outside with her brother, then Laurel headed into the house to meet her first grandchildren.
Laurel was very disappointed in this house. She felt like Daniella was using the fact that they were moving soon as an excuse to do nothing with the home.
Laurel: Even when we were poor and living in an apartment in Bridgeport, our place looked more cozy and warm than this.
Laurel made her way into the room where the triplets bassinets were. She greeted them each one by one, cuddling them and enjoying that new baby smell.
After getting a nose, arm, and heart full of baby, Laurel headed outside to hang the wreath.
She came back in and immediately commented on the sparseness of the home. Daniella tried to explain that it’s hard to nest when you’re carrying triplets and you know you’re moving into a new home shortly anyway.
Laurel asked for Quincy’s input on the matter, thinking he would side with her. He grew up in homes that were always so inviting and filled with love (aka decor).
Quincy surprised Laurel when he sided with Daniella. He noted that she hadn’t taken anytime off from work while she was pregnant, plus the new home was going to be decorated, so he didn’t see the big deal. He complimented Daniella on doing the hard work of growing three babies at once and reaffirmed his intention to be a big help with her since raising triplets was going to be an all-hands-on-deck situation.
Laurel said she understood there were all types of house, just like there were all types of families, including ones that had babies before marriage. She told them she’d see them at the birthday party and went outside to collect Emilie who was probably talking off the ear of some stranger.
The next stop was to the Holloway home. She went in and saw Luca playing chess.
“I had no idea you played chess,” said Laurel.
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me,” said Luca. “In a different life, I would’ve been happy to show you a lot more than you currently get a chance to see.”
Laurel sat at the table and laughed, “oh you’re funny. Well, I’ll be sure to let my husband know you like chess. Maybe the two of you can play sometime.”
“That’s me, a real comedian,” said Luca. “I assume you’re here with my garlic wreath?”
Laurel told him he was right. She stayed and chatted for a bit, then headed out to find Emilie and hang the wreath outside the home. The Holloways never got visitors, but better safe than sorry.
Next house was the Blanks, but no one was home. Laurel was hoping she’d get the chance to check on Bo, so she was a bit disappointed. She hung the wreath and sent a text.
Laurel finally arrived back home and hung the wreath outside her own door. She smiled at it, feeling truly safe in her home for the first time in a long time.
At the end of a long but successful day, all Laurel wanted to do was take a hot bath. She wasn’t sure she was ready, but tomorrow was coming whether she was ready or not.
To Be Continued