We had been home from the pishtaco hunt for about two weeks. Things had been going back to normal, though my daughter did everything in her power to make my life as hard as possible. Charlotte rarely slept through the night and was irritable about everything. The only time she was really calm was when she was with my nieces and beohewand Grace took it upon herself to rub it in every chance she got, laughing in my face about how difficult I had been as a kid and how Charlie was simply payback for my adolescent misbehavior.
I excitedly headed back to work after my maternity leave ended, grateful to have a break from my whiny three-month-old. I would never admit aloud that I missed both of my kids terribly while I was gone, and though I knew Grace could hear my sentiment, she only smiled when she heard my thoughts about the matter. Grace seemed content to stay home with all of the kids and everyone was happy by the time I picked up Levi and Charlie in the afternoons.
Sammy continued kicking ass at the University of Kansas, taking on another Ancient Religions class as the semesters progressed. He loved being paid to research, so this was a position in which he thrived. He had over three hundred students and somehow managed to keep them all organized and achieving.
Winchester Family Auto was also doing well. Dean finished his repairs on The Tank, finally getting the insurance money to pay for the parts he ordered. I was finally driving my truck again. She was completely rebuilt from the ground up. Dean had done an amazing job, though I would never complement him so directly. All of the pieces were still original 1971 parts and they had fit together as if they were factory. The shop basically ran itself, only needing Dean to approve purchases and sign the occasional invoice. He loved being able to work on the cars and not just be stuck behind a desk. It was a perfect set-up for a family of hunters.
We watched the news after dinner one evening in February, sprawled out in the living room of the Big House and a story came on about strange attacks with no suspects and no way to explain how people were dying from within their locked rooms at a turn-of-the-century hotel in Old Town Topeka. I could feel a smile tugging at my lips as I turned and exchanged looks with my brother-in-law. He was sitting on the couch, piled with kids: Liberty was on his lap, leaning into his chest as she watched TV and Levi was cuddled up to his side as Dean's arm draped around him. Faith lay in the crook of his other arm and Everett sat at his feet. Dean's jade eyes flicked to mine and he grinned silently back.
Vengeful spirit, here we come.