My Slice of Haven

Same Old Same Old

The smell of herbs and spices perfumed the entire kitchen and wafted through the big old Amber house that had been in the family for countless generations. Duke placed two plates on the dining table. "I guessed you still don't eat red meat."

Poppi leaned against the kitchen entrance. "You guessed right." She was out of her usual floral dress pattern and cardigan and into a pair of pyjama pants and a tank top with a high back. Her arms were folded over her chest and Duke noticed another tattoo on her upper right arm.

"It's a Viking warrior." She noticed him staring. "Got her in Boston a few years ago."

"And the one on your thigh?" He glanced at her with a cheeky chuckle.

She blushed. "You noticed that huh?"

"Yes ma'am." He replied turning to check on the roasting dish in the oven.

She eyed him up and down as Duke went about his cooking duties. "I went to see Vince today like I said. He gave me a folder and told me what happened the night my dad went missing." Poppi began to prod at the new information.

Duke shut the oven door and turned with uncertainty. "Uh yea...that was a strange night."

"He said that I wouldn't understand until I read the letters and checked out what was in the folder and that hopefully you'd be able to shed a little light on whatever information I do find." Turning away from the kitchen Poppi made her way into the lounge room and took a spot on the far end of the lounge.

Duke followed suite and took the spot next to her, leaning over to lift her legs onto his lap. "Haven is a different place and has changed a lot since you left." His fingers began to rub little circles into the soles of her feet.

She sighed into the movements Poppi let herself relax and closed her eyes. "What is going on Duke? Nothing has made sense since I turned up here."

Duke knew the truth and exactly how to answer her, but it wasn't his place to break it to her. "You know most of the answers you want will be in those letters." Stopping for a moment he leaned over to the side table and picked up the envelope and dropped it in her lap. "Read it." His voice was gentle as he pressed Poppi to open the envelope once more.

Again she opened it and withdrew the pages and turned to the second one.

Your mother was an exceptional beauty, but that wasn't what I first noticed about her. The thing that drew me to her was her fiery personality, that I hope one day you inherit. Lily was witty with a quick silver tongue, however under her guise she was a woman full of warmth and love to give. But she had her troubles...everyone in Haven seems to have them.

Haven is a special town my dear and if you ever come back here I beg you to stay for your safety. I did all I could to protect you from erasing what you did to sending you away. There is so much history and I only fear that you read this and think it to be nonsense. Please I implore you to pay attention because it is nothing but the truth.

The first time I saw you mother's troubles was not long after we began dating, but she was able to control it. They call it pyrokinesis. This meant my Lily had the psychic ability allowing her to create and control fire with their mind. This is the part I fear you will find to be lies. You have inherited your mother's trouble and it's the reason I sent you away.

It was a dangerous time for your trouble to surface...

Poppi dropped the letter and darted her feet away from Duke, sitting up as if a bolt of lightening had struck her. The letters dropped to the floor as she rose from the couch. Her skin was covered in a thin coat of sweat.

"Poppi..." Duke had been listening like in the cafe, his fears confirmed.

"I don't know what any of that means but I know it's not a lie." She trembled as her eyes rested upon the fireplace. "I have been staring at this thing since getting back trying to remember something it's been triggering in my memory but until reading that I couldn't remember what it was..." She looked to Duke, her voice shook as much as her hands did.

Slowly Duke stood and came to her side cupping a hand under her chin. "Take a deep breath in Poppi, I'm right here. You need to finish reading the letters."

A knock at the door interrupted the idea of that. "Poppi, it's Nathan."

Wiping a hand down her face she squeezed her eyes shut. "The fireplace...I can remember sitting in front of it one night after dad went to bed and after putting the flames out. I was just looking at it and thinking about mom. Wishing she was there with me, with us. I wanted to know her, I wanted a mom so badly. And...and the next thing I know a burst of fire flew out of the fireplace. It engulfed my entire body but...but not a single part of me was burnt." Her heart began to race and her pulse quicken. Poppi opened her eyes to see Duke staring into her face.

"You inherited your mother's Troubles and thinking of her must have activated them." Duke was now holding her by her shoulders. "Take that deep breath in. Look at me and breath in deep, can you do that for me?"

Even as panic rushed at her Poppi nodded. The memory she'd been trying so hard to uncover had just had it's lid blown off and was coming full force at her. The smell of the flames surrounding her and the vision of the flames licking at her skin were racing through her memory.

"Poppi are you okay in there?" Nathan was still at the door.

"I...I..." The sensation of warm dripping liquid began to slither around Poppi. "Duke..."

"You need to think about something else. Tell me where you live now? What do you do? Do you have any pets? You can do this Poppi." Duke could feel her skin prickling.

"New York, I live in New York. In an apartment and I work an editor for a publishing house. I don't have pets, but I really want a puppy...a French Bulldog puppy." The more she spoke about her life Poppi found that the liquid rush of heat began to whither away until finally it had died away back inside her. "I feel sick."

Duke wrapped his arms around Poppi and gently placed her upon the lounge chair. "It's okay, you did really well." He smiled down at her reassuringly. "I'm going to let Nathan in and get you some water. Just stay calm and keep telling me about yourself." He touched the side of her face before jogging to answer Nathan.

"Duke!" Nathan snapped.

"Sssh!" He leaned in towards Nathan. "Keep calm...Poppi, she's got the troubles." He whispered

Nathan's eyes went wide but he nodded before entering. "Do you know what kind of trouble?"

"The same as her mom." Both the men knew what really happened to Poppi's mom and it wasn't the car crash that she had been lead to believe.

Duke looked over his shoulder as Poppi picked at parts of her life to concentrate on.

"There's a really good restaurant down the road from me..."

"Keep talking Poppi, I want to know everything. How did you get that editors job? It sounds right up your alley." He turned back to Nathan. "Why are you here? Has something else happened with Thomson?"

He shook his head. "No. We found the body of a Jason Lester today out by the road leading away from Haven and when we checked his belongings we found he knew Poppi. Can you confirm this?"

"Jeesh, um yea. Up until this morning they had been dating but Jason called it quits with her. We can't tell her though she almost exploded a few minutes ago. The girl has no clue how to deal with her emotions and that means she can't control her trouble." Duke was thinking as fast as he could. "What happened to him?"

"Car accident it looks like, but there is evidence pointing to foul play." Nathan glanced around Duke's shoulder and spotted Poppi staring at them. Her eyes were puffy and red from tears and she had a jaded expression over her lovely face. "How are you Poppi?"

Duke looked back. "Nathan just dropped by-"

"I heard...Jason is dead. Car accident. Does this mean I need to I.D the body?" She was blunt, her head was filled to the brim with awful that this was news to put into the pile. "Don't worry I'm not gonna go suer nova on you boys, frankly that little episode has worn me out."

"Better come in." Duke closed the door behind Nathan and went to get that glass of water before returning to Poppi's side on the couch handing her the glass. He felt protective of her and it was showing as he sat on the spot next to her as close as he could.

Poppi could feel Duke's chest pressing against her back, it was tense and it rippled through her. "What did you mean by foul play Nathan?" The glass was chilly in her hand and she squeezed it a little tighter.

"Has Duke explained what's happening to you?" He asked standing unsure of he should be telling Poppi what had happened at that moment.

"He will. What happened to Jason?"

He sucked in a deep breath before exhaling. "We found evidence of strangulation on the body."

The room was quiet for a minute before Poppi nodded. "I understand. Will nine o'clock tomorrow be fine?"

Nathan stopped before replying. "Do you understand what I have just told you Poppi?" The lack of response from the woman worried him.

"I do, like I said I am just wiped out." Unconsciously Poppi began to lean back into Duke's chest. "I am just going to go to bed."

Nathan took his leave with a cautious glance to Duke.

"Come on let's get you into bed." Duke began to move Poppi from the couch.

"What are the troubles?" She asked.

Duke walked her up the stairs stopping at the guest room and lead her in. "The troubles are afflictions dating back the founding families of Haven. Most of them are in the bloodline, like yours is. In which case they can be triggered at an sign of emotional distress."

"Do you have a trouble?" Poppi yawned before sitting in the spot Duke had turned down the covers near.

He nodded. "The family curse."

"Think that's why dad hated you all so much?" By now she was already closing her eyes with head nestled into the pillow.

Duke knew it was exactly why. "I don't know Poppi."

With that he saw the little red haired woman had already drifted off to sleep. With a warm smile to himself Duke leant down and gently kissed her on the cheek before settling onto a spot on the floor next to her side of the bed. There was part of him that was worried the fate of her mother was going to befall Poppi and Duke was going to make sure that wouldn't happen.