Heddie stood in front of her mirror, twisting back and forth in her pretty princess dress. She was so excited for tonight - she loved Hallowe'en, getting to dress up and get sweet-treats. And she was big enough now that she could say 'trick or treat' on her own. But of course Nessa would be there with her, so would her best buddy Finn.
'Daddy!' she called out, and grinned at Daniel when he came in. 'Look Daddy! All ready! Say tick-oh-tee!'
'Nice job, sweetie,' Daniel chuckled as he swirled his cape; he'd decided to go as The Opera Ghost. In honour of the most recent Nikki Heat book being released Hallowe'en was a literary characters theme this year. 'Who are you?'
'Sippin' Boo-tee, Daddy. Bes' pin-cess ev-ah!'
'She is a good one.'
'She pidy, Daddy,' Heddie said on a little sigh. 'Wanna be pin-cess, too.'
'You are my little princess.'
'Me an' Nissy?'
'You and Nessa, which makes Mama the queen.'
'Mama bes',' Heddie decided, toddling into her sister's room, calling for Nessa. 'Nissy! Nissy! Lookie! See me!' she hollered from Nessa's doorway as Nessa tugged on her black knee-high boots to complete her Dread Pirate Valentina look. 'Wow, Nissy!'
'You think so?' Nessa stood up, did a twirl. 'You think I look just like her picture?'
'Jus' piff-eck! Me piff-eck?'
'You look great, Heddie.'
'Hey!' Andrea came in, and both Heddie and Nessa gasped in delight - Andrea was wearing a beautiful silvery gown with beading all down the front and her already-impressive cleavage hiked up so every eye male and female would stop, stare and drool. On her chin-length bob of red hair was placed a wide brimmed hat tied at the nape of her neck with a wide silvery bow to match her gown. 'What do you think?'
'Oh, Mama, you a pin-cess,' Heddie breathed. 'You Sinna-wella?'
'No, I'm not Cinderella, I'm Madam de Tourvel from Dangerous Liaisons. It's a book for grown-ups, honey,' Andrea replied, not missing for a moment the lax, lustful look in Daniel's eyes. 'And I think it is time for us to go to Kate and Rick's.'
'Oh boy! Tinks!'
'You're welcome, sweetheart.'
Heddie smiled winningly as Castle's downstairs neighbour deposited mini-Tootsie rolls into her plastic trick-or-treat pumpkin. With her goody stash clutched hotly in her hand, Heddie looked back at Carey, Nessa, Violet, Finn, RJ and Jojo. 'So mush fun!'
'It is fun,' Carey agreed, adjusting the cape on his head; he'd decided to go as the Headless Horseman, which had made RJ pipe up and say he could be Ichabod Crane, Finn could be Bram Bones and Trini could be Katrina van Tassel since they already shared a name. 'But you know not to eat anything until we're back, right Heddie?'
'No.' Heddie shook her head solemnly. 'No geddin' sick.'
Their haul complete, they all climbed into the elevator and headed back upstairs to the Castle Haunted Library, where Heddie went with her sister over to their daddy who was talking to Meredeth; she was dressed in the swirling green leather frock-coat and pantaloons of her own heroine Lady Hawk.
'Hi Daddy! Hi Mee-wee!' Heddie sang, holding up her pumpkin. 'Look! Teats!'
'Excuse me?' Meredeth asked, pressing her palm against her low-cut blouse beneath her jacket.
'Teats! La-la-wee teats! Pops an' ships!'
'Oh treats,' Meredeth laughed. 'That's a very important R, Heddie.'
'Say it with me, Heddie,' Nessa told her sister. 'Tuh-reats.'
'That's very close. Tuh-reats.'
'Tah-weets.' Heddie smiled again. 'Tah-weets good. Daddy, you haffin' tah-weets?'
'Yes, but Mama and I are having ours later. Once you've had your fill of sugar,' Daniel told them, 'I get my sugar.'
'Daniel, you're bad,' Meredeth murmured, and Heddie looked at her father.
'Daddy bein' bad, Me-wee?'
'I think he means that he and Mama will have grown-up romance time later, right Meredeth?' Nessa asked with such aplomb that Daniel choked on his drink.
'These kids are way too well informed.'
But Heddie and Nessa didn't hear it, because they were off and running to find RJ and Max, their resident gurus on such matters; they found them hanging out together by the punch bowl.
'Ah-Shay!' Heddie called out to him. 'Ah-Shay, haffa ki-shun.'
Nessa explained what Daniel had said, and RJ's eyes twinkled in glee. 'What does that mean, RJ?' she asked.
'That means they want to have a night of romance, but asking about it is very rude, so we play nice and don't ask that question.'