The apartment above the pub was surprisingly spacious and open. The first time she’d seen it, Kyrie had been enchanted with the apartment. It was a large two-bedroom, two-bathroom place that spread the length and width of the pub below. A large balcony ran across the back of the apartment, overlooking the parking lot below, but more importantly, providing an unimpeded view of the ocean. The opportunity to live rent-free practically right on the beach was what made Kyrie decide to leave her app-creation job in Silicon Valley and move to the small central California coast town where her parents had retired.
Kyrie had never visited the pub while her parents were alive. Because all four of their children lived in the San Jose area, they had always come up for holidays and other visits. She knew Xander had gone down to Encanto Beach, but there had always been something getting in her way and causing her to cancel whatever vague plans she’d made.
“Hey. Are you coming or not?” Xander said from the top of the stairs. He was standing in the open door to the apartment, the warm glow of the lights cascading down the stairway and into the pub below.
“Yeah, yeah. I just want to turn out the lights before we head up,” Kyrie said.
“The doors are locked, I checked. We can close everything else up later. We’ll probably be down for more drinks anyway,” Xander replied. “C’mon. This is important.”
Kyrie looked up at him. “Okay, okay. What is so important it can’t wait a couple days until I get settled in? Or at least until tomorrow?” She grumbled as she trudged up the stairs.
Xander walked into the apartment and dropped down onto the large sofa in front of the stone fireplace.
“You need to know this before you open up for business,” he said.
“Fine.” Kyrie flopped down next to her brother.
Xander took a drink of his wine and stared out the big picture window at the waves breaking on the beach behind the pub. Kyrie knew him well enough to know he was trying to figure out a way to tell her whatever it was and she sat quietly, watching the sun sink slowly into the ocean.
Finally, Xander turned to her. “Kyrie, did you ever notice or feel anything sort of uh, strange… about Mom and Dad? I don’t mean, habits, but more something… not off, but uh, different?” He turned sideways on the sofa, facing her.
Xander’s tone of voice told Kyrie he wasn’t making a bad joke about their parents, but was seriously trying to get her to remember impressions. Although it had been a year since their parents were killed in a car crash just outside of Encanto Beach, Kyrie still felt an almost overwhelming sense of loss when she thought about them, which was often. Matching the seriousness of Xander’s question, Kyrie gently put aside the pain and loss she now associated with mention of her parents and dug back into her memories.
“Well, Mom always seemed to know exactly what was going on in the woods. I mean she had squirrels she called by name in the backyard. And Dad could always make anything grow… I mean, we had that amazing vegetable garden and all those herbs around the house. I don’t know why there wasn’t a garden around here. Did the parking lot take up too much space?” Kyrie mused to her brother.
Xander smiled. “No, there’s a garden, it’s on the side of the parking lot, closer to the woods. But yeah, what you mentioned… Mom’s connection to animals and Dad’s to growing things. Um, okay, Dad was what’s called a green witch. He had an affinity for plants and could manipulate the conditions to help them grow and produce. He was also one of the best healing witches around.” Xander paused and glanced at Kyrie out of the corner of his eyes.
Kyrie stared back at him, her mind spinning. A witch? “But he didn’t have a pointy black hat!” She blurted out the first thing she could grasp.
Xander’s laughter exploded. “No, he didn’t! Not that kind of witch!” he said, trying to control his laughter.
Kyrie punched him in the calf. “Stop it! You tell me something this fantastical and what? Expect me to just say ‘oh, of course. Why didn’t I see that?’ How come nobody ever told me this before and why do I believe you?” Her last question came out almost in a whisper.
Xander leaned forward to give her an awkward hug. “There’s more. Are you ready for it?” he asked quietly.
Taking a deep breath, Kyrie nodded. “Yeah, bring it on.”
“Mom was a mountain lion shifter.”
Kyrie sat very, very still. Her brain once again using all its energy to take in and make sense of what Xander was telling her. There was a small, but growing, part of her that knew for certain that he was telling her the truth. It was accepting that truth that was causing her brain to skitter around looking for something to grab on to. When it did, it was not exactly what she expected.
“You’re telling me Mom was a cougar?” Kyrie glanced at Xander with a grin tugging at her lips.
This time Xander nearly fell off the couch, he was laughing so hard. He grabbed onto the back of the sofa and righted himself, tears running down his face.
He finally managed to gasp out an answer. “Yeah, I guess I am… but not that kind of cougar!”
Kyrie laughed along with him for a few minutes. Finally, she turned to gaze at her brother. “Seriously, Xander. For some reason I believe you, but why didn’t anybody tell me any of this before?”
Xander sobered up almost immediately. “I don’t know, Kyrie, I really don’t know. I just know that right before they were killed, Mom and Dad called me and told me that they were updating their wills and healthcare proxies and all that. They asked that I be the one to tell you about the shifter and witch thing if anything happened to them before they could tell you. I honestly don’t know why they didn’t say anything before. I’m sorry.”
Kyrie shook her head. It hurt knowing her parents had hidden something that big from her, but hopefully there was a better reason than that she was the baby of the family. She smiled at Xander.
“Well, I guess we’ll just have to dig through their stuff and see if we can figure it out.”