The day after Isla’s birthday, they had another birthday celebration, this time for Jet.
At school neither of them had made any friends amongst the other children. The Maldini family had become notorious in Twinbrook. Whenever there was organized crime, their family had a hand in it, and through rumors and whispers, everybody in the town knew it. Just how the whole family hadn’t landed in jail was a matter of great wonder to the general public, and speculation of corruption and blackmail amongst high ranking officials ran rife. As such, parents warned their children to steer clear of the Maldini children. Nobody wanted their children to either befriend or make enemies of a family with a reputation like theirs.
Jet and Isla had no idea why other children avoided them, always whispering to each other behind their hands and pointing at them. They knew their family was different, but just exactly why they were different they weren’t sure.
But they always had each other to play with, so their lack of friends never bothered them. They were happy with it just being the two of them – though soon it would be three, as Aurora was now far along in her pregnancy and soon Jet would have a little baby brother or sister!
“I think we should explore Dad’s study,” Isla said. Despite the large size of the house, she kept her voice down in case Aurora should overhear them.
“The study?” Jet said doubtfully. Tristan’s study had been a relatively recent addition to the upstairs part of the house. It was the one room the children were strictly not allowed to play in. “What’s there to explore? I’ve been in there, there’s just a desk and a big bookshelf.”
“There’s something weird about that room,” Isla replied, shaking her head, “The adults are always going in there, but there’s only one computer, what are they all doing?”
“Maybe,” Isla said, “But there’s something else too…”
She hesitated, she didn’t want Jet to think she was silly or make fun of her.
“Well?” he prompted.
“I saw Dad go in there this one time,” she said slowly, “But then, after a while, I went in to ask him if I could watch a movie and, well, he wasn’t in there anymore! But there was nowhere he could have gone, so I went out and came back a bit later and he was there again, just like he’d been there all along!”
Isla shook her head vigorously, her twin plaits swinging.
“He definitely didn’t leave, I was playing upstairs, I would have seen him! C’mon, let’s just go have a look around while we have a chance.”
Jet shrugged, “Alright, but if the adults catch us in there I’m blaming you!”
The two children ran up the stairs to Tristan’s study.
“Now we look around,” Isla replied patiently, “There’s must be more to this room, I just know it!”
Jet poked around in the desk draws for a bit before walking over to the book shelf.
“That’s a lotta boring looking books,” he said surveying it. “I dunno Isla, I think it’s just a normal old study,”
Isla walked over to the bookshelf too, and began to study it closely.
She wasn’t a genius for nothing, and even though it seemed identical to the others around it, something about that book didn’t look right to Isla. She was right, and it resisted as she tried to pull it from the shelf. All of a sudden, the whole bookcase began to move, slowly grating backwards, and then off to the side to tuck in behind the bookcase beside it.
Suddenly fearful of being caught, they ran from the secret room as fast as they could, though Isla turned and hesitated at the entrance, taking one last look, before letting the bookcase slide closed behind her.
“Jet,” she said very seriously,”I think maybe we’re the bad guys…”
“You know in books and movies how there’s the police or the heroes and they’re the good guys? Well I think our family are the bad guys!” she explained.
Jet thought about this for a moment.
“Cool,” he said with a grin.
Isla sighed and shook her head.
But no sooner had she walked into the family gym, she suddenly cried out at the sharp stabbing pain in her abdomen.
“Oh no, the baby’s coming!” he shouted when he saw her.
“In what? There’s only my bike!” said Tristan.
Aurora suddenly had a strange vision of herself riding her uncle’s motorcycle to hospital while in labor…
This time the labor went on far longer than it had with Jet, and Aurora made it safely to the hospital to deliver her baby girl.