Part 391 – Elsie’s Dad

“And don’t worry about the flowers. They will arrive on time and at the very tip-top peak of their beauty. That’s what Caroline told me and I trust her. She has a lot of positive energy.”

“She’s hyper?” asked Hildreth.

“No, silly.  What I mean is—” Clarice poured more cream into her coffee. “—everyone gives off energy. Kind of like an aura but prettier. There’s dark energy. Light energy. Positive energy. Negative energy. And there are a strange select group of people who give off neutral energy. I can see it all, of course. Elsie can’t. Her father could, though.” She smiled fondly. “He was a special one.”

“Elsie’s never talked about him.”

Elsie stood. “I’m going to use the restroom, if you’ll excuse me.”

Clarice gave her a sympathetic look. “I’ll make it quick.”

“Thanks.” Elsie walked away.

“What was that about?”

“Oh, she has bad mixed up feelings about him. She adored him.”

“But?”

“He let the trainers take her away.”

Hildreth set his fork on his plate. “She’s never told me about this.”

“Don’t take it personal. She’s not likely to discuss it with anyone. It hurt her deep.”

“How old was she?”

“They really shouldn’t have taken her. She was both too young and too old. She was only seven.”

“Why did they…”

“A scout saw her potential and reported her to the training committee or whatever they call themselves. They came.” She looked down into her paled coffee. “Gerald didn’t want to do it. He saw how scared she was. They didn’t give him a choice.”

“Where is he now?”

“Dead. Car accident. On her sixteenth birthday.”

A spell of silence spun a web between them. The only sound was the crowd’s muttering and the distant clank of dishes.

“My parents surrendered me when I was only three. I don’t remember anything about it. Maybe my memories just don’t go that far back or maybe I’ve just blotted it out.” He paused. “Is that why she’s the way she is?”

“Oh, undoubtedly.” She reached over and laid her hand on his hand. “Promise me you won’t ask her about it.”

“Why?”

“She might beat you up and you’re just too dog-gone blasted pretty to get beaten up like that.”

“Pretty? Me?”

She laughed. “Okay. Maybe not pretty. Smokin’ red hot chili peppers in a garlic jalapeno hot sauce infused wrap full of handsome.  Yes. I think that’s a much better description of you.”

He grinned. “I’ll take it.”

“Of course!”

Elsie came back. “Are you done?”

“At the moment? Yes.”

“Good.” She sat next to Hildreth. “I need dessert.”

“Of course you do.”

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