Since Paris had died, life had gone on much as it always had for the Maldini family – as life generally will despite any tragedy. They still had a criminal empire to run, two toddlers to care for, and a very large house to keep clean and tidy (including an endless amount of laundry!).
But the sadness in the house was unmistakable. Now that the initial shock had passed, they were left to mourn the loss of someone who had become part of their family – and for them nothing was more important than family.
Jet and Isla were of course too young to really understand what had happened. Isla had learnt to speak well enough to ask for “Mama” and “Papa”, which was very painful for the rest of the family who knew she would never again see her mama, and that her papa refused to be near her.
But Isla was a bright and happy little girl, and with the rest of the family there to care for her, she did not yet seem to feel the absence of her parents, as she surely would when she was older.
Celeste’s boyfriend Tyree came to visit and pay his respects.
Celeste had perhaps not known Paris as well as Tristan and Aurora, but she was a sensitive person, and so the death had affected her greatly.
Tyree now had a place of his own and he asked Celeste if she would like to come and stay with him for a while, while her family home was such depressing place to be.
Celeste agreed. The house felt so big and quiet these days. It was strange how losing just one person could make it seem empty and desolate. She knew she had to get away, but breaking the news to her mother, who was also hurting, would be hard.
“I’m going to go stay with Tyree,” she said, “I’m sorry Ma, but I need to get away from the house for a little while. It’s just so sad being here…”
Esmerelda was surprised and saddened to see her youngest daughter leave.
But if getting away was what she needed to raise her spirits then Esmerelda would support her, as difficult as it was to see her go.
So Celeste packed her things and went home with Tyree to his house across the other side of town by the river.
Alec also came by to visit and offer support to his mother and the rest of the family.
He happened to come by the very afternoon after Celeste had moved out and Esmerelda was very pleased to see him. She wanted her children around her more than ever now. After all, how easily could it have been one of her own children struck down on that awful day?
Tristan dreamed of Paris often after her death…
Her ghostly figure filled his mind as he slept, and he imagined that he was with her again, that he could touch her and hold her once more.
It was the day before Isla’s birthday.
She and Jet were playing with their blocks in the playroom.
Tristan was passing the lounge when he saw them playing, and without knowing what he was doing, he walked over to them.
“Papa!” Isla exclaimed, and she started crawling towards him.
Tristan hesitated, surprised by her reaction. But as Isla reached up to him, demanded to be picked up, he found himself scooping her up.
She looked so much like her mother… but as he looked at her now, it was no longer as painful as it had been before. He was able to look at his daughter and remember her mother without the heartbreaking pain that had kept him away from Isla for so long.
Aurora was shocked, and tremendously pleased, to see Tristan with Isla, but she didn’t say anything as she walked over to the play area and sat down with Jet to teach him the rest of his words.
After that, Tristan came back to the family, spending time with them, and no longer shutting himself up in his room for days on end.
Back to his usual, argumentative self…
Caleb had now joined the family business, and was working along side Esmerelda, Tristan and Aurora at the Llama Corp Shipping Co. warehouse.
With so many of the family now starting work at the same time, there was often a traffic jam at the top of their driveway – but despite the fact they were all traveling to the same place, they refused to carpool!
Shortly before Isla’s birthday, Aurora announced some exciting news to the family – she was pregnant again!
Alec, Ann, Celeste and Tyree all came over for Isla’s birthday party.
Tristan was there to help his daughter blow out the candles on her cake.
As a child, Isla got the Perfectionist trait to go with her other traits Disciplined and Genius. Perfect traits for a budding criminal and the daughter of the Emperor of Evil!