The collapse of Plum sent a shock wave throughout the family knocking us all off balance as it went. The people it hit first were those at the heart of the storm.
The sound of Plum crashing to the ground caused two things to happen simultaneously. Blaze rushed through the door at the same moment as Nuala knelt down by Plum's side.
"Who in Berry's name are you?"
"Oh My Berry it can't be you."
Looks of wariness and confusion passed over both of their faces as they tried to get a grip on the situation. The spell was broken by the most unlikely of source.
Almond choose that moment to come in and thinking daddy was playing a great game started giggling and pulling at his hair. Looking from Plum and Almond over to the obviously pregnant Blaze the penny dropped. Instead of raging and loosing control Nuala just lowered her head.
"I see" was all she said. The pain and resignation in her voice was so strong my heart broke for her. But I was torn. While Nuala is my beloved twin I had come to love and cherish Blaze both as a person in her own right and for what she means to Plum. It felt as if I made a move to comfort either it would be a betrayal to the other.
Blue saved me by picking up Almond. "Silly munchkin you don't want to hurt daddy do you?" Handing her off to Blaze he said, "Blaze why don't you go call for an ambulance. I am sure there is nothing wrong with Plum but he has been out for a while now and I think we need to get him checked out at the hospital."
"In the meantime Nuala I think you'd better come with Rosé and I down to the agency. They are aware of your involvement with your mother and they are going to want to talk to you, in a big way."
Plum was right of course. There was no way the agency could over look Nuala's reappearance and now that both Blaze and Plum knew she was back there was no way to hide it either. Resigned we left Blaze to wait with Plum for the ambulance and went to the agency.
It seemed unreal that people in the agency hardly noticed our entry. I was so wrapped up in this little family drama that it didn't occur to me that most people had no clue about any of it. Nuala was led into an interview room and we were dismissed.
It was hard to leave her there looking so sad but an order is an order and I had no choice.
Instead of trying to go home we decided to go over to Plum and Blaze's house. We didn't want to go home and it seemed the place to be. We arrived at the same time as they did.
It turned out that when Plum fainted he knocked his head a bit to hard and had a minor concision which accounted for his unconsciousness. Taking a deep breath we sat down and explained the situation to them.
It wasn't easy to find the right words, and there was so much I wasn't allowed to tell them as it was Top Secret but between the two of us we managed to get the story out.
"So let me get this straight," Blaze said still trying to wrap her mind around the situation. "Nuala was kidnapped, told her child was dead, told Plum had left her and didn't want to see her and told that he was having an affair with you. In the meantime everyone here was told she was dead and presented with her ashes and death certificate."
"Pretty much," I didn't know what else to say. It was as close to the truth as we could get.
"Who are these people?" She asked incredulously.
Blue interjected knowing how hard this was for me. "At this point that is unknown. Nuala is currently being interviewed to get as much information as possible about the perpetrators. We have no idea why they would do this or what they hoped to gain by it."
Plum sat stock still throughout the whole conversation. Silence feel over the room as we all decent into our own thoughts, none of us knowing what to say next. The sounds of a car door slamming shut brought us back to life. Peach and Pear were coming home.
Not wanting to scare them with what must have looked like a wake, Blue and I took out leave. We also figured it best if the news about their mother came from Plum and Blaze.
The wave carried on knocking down the more innocent as it swept through our family with complete abandon.
Nuala was lucky, if you can call it that, and after two solid days of questioning and testing she was allowed to leave the agency. They set her up in a safe house which was guarded 24 hours a day, ostensibly for her protection but also to keep an eye on her. The agency didn't trust her, yet, and until they did I had to choose between active duty and seeing Nuala. It was an easy choice, I wasn't going to be without my sister any more.
It wasn't too long after she was moved than I had some visitors.
"Hey girls what brings you here?" Trying to be cheerful and upbeat I let them in.
Speaking almost as one they tried to explain before I could even close the door.
"We were wondering…"
"It's just that dad..."
"Could we come stay with you and Blue." They finished together.
I think I missed something in there. "Of course you can stay with Blue and I as long as you want but maybe we should sit down and talk about this."
After I got them to slow down it came out that they had gone to see their mother. Naturally they were curious about her and had decided it was time they met her.
The meeting was awkward but they felt good about having gone. "I don't know what we expected," Pear said. "It was silly of us to think we would see her and have an instant bond, I mean it's just like she is any other person we've never met before."
"But it was still nice to have her there, to know we have a mum." Peach finished. Would they ever grow out of finishing each others sentences? "Of course we probably should have told dad we were going."
The girls were supposed to have been home 2 hours earlier and Plum had been worried sick about them. "But when we told him where we were he got all weird."
"Yeah he started mumbling something about how we should see her but we needed to remember to think of him. Then he pretended he heard Almond crying and disappeared."
"So Pear and I decided that we should move out and stay with you. We want to be there for our dad but we don't want to give up seeing mum. And we don't want to be stuck in the middle."
How could I argue with that. "Ok girls, I'll talk to your dad. If he and Blaze agree then you can stay with us for awhile."
As I got out the phone to call Plum it rang. I hate it when that happens it always gives me such a fright. "Hello?" It was Nuala.
"Rosé I need to ask you a favour. I know this might be a little weird but could you please bring Plum and Blaze over. I need to talk to them and I think it would be best if you were there."
"Of course," I said with and enthusiasm I didn't feel. Stuck in the middle indeed I was beginning to understand where the twins were coming from.
True to my word I brought Plum, Blaze and little Almond over to Nuala's safe house. While Almond played in the corner we sat around awkwardly no one knowing what to say.
Finally Nuala worked up the courage to start. "You probably know that Peach and Pear came to see me and it made me realise two things. First, I have been gone a long time. Somehow it doesn't feel so long when you are in the moment but seeing those girls, seeing how grown up they are, made me really understand how much of their lives I have missed." She turned to Plum tears forming in her eyes. "And of your life too. Which leads me to the second thing I realised." Here she turned to Blaze.
"The girls talked about you. They were shy and didn't say much but I could tell how much you mean to them. And to Plum. You are a part of their lives in a way that I never will be. They love you and I can see how much you and Plum love each other. So, since I am not dead and that means Plum and I are still married." She took a deep breath and turned to Plum. "Plum, I want a divorce."
We all sat there not knowing if we should laugh or cry. Blaze seemed to know which was tugging at her more and broke into tears.
"I'm sorry, I'm so hormonal right now." She said sniffling. "Thank you Nuala. Plum always talked about what a wonderful and selfless person you were. I can see he was right. Please," she said grabbing Nuala in a hug. "Let's all be a family together."
Plum's response was less sentimental but no less emotional. Clearing his throat he said, "Thank you for making the choice that I couldn't. I will always have a place in my heart for you Lala." Tears were now falling freely for all of us, tears of sadness and joy, for lives that will never be and for those just beginning.
As we watched them walk away our reverie was interrupted by one of the agents that was kept in the house for Nuala's 'protection'. "Excuse me ma'am," he said deferentially. "We've just had a call from the agency. It seems we want what Nuala know so the SIA have made a decision." He turned to Nuala. "You're in."
"Then it's time for revenge."
The tempest broke leaving destruction in it's wake. But like a phoenix from ashes a purpose was born.