I arrived at Dad's brownstone in the city around a quarter to one, having already put in a half shift at the hospital. Dad wanted a traditional Thanksgiving, so I'd changed out of my scrubs and into a form fitting chocolate brown sweater with an ankle length skirt and tall boots. Since I'd promised to help him cook, I'd gathered my honey blonde waves into a messy bun.


Dad came to the door in a suit and tie. Geesh. He was really taking this seriously. Seemed like a lot of fuss for just the two of us. I returned his hug.

"You look great," he said, kissing me on my forehead.

"Well, I have good news."

He pulled back, raising his eyebrows. "Do tell."

"I have the money for the house. I'm going in for the loan as soon as possible."

He smiled stiffly. I expected him to argue that I shouldn't live there or ask me how I'd gotten the money. Instead, he seemed distracted. He shifted from foot to foot in front of his traditionally decorated living room. Since I'd moved out, my dad's house always looked "staged", as if he could put a "For Sale" sign out front without so much as dusting. But then as the owner of one of the few historical buildings in the city, he was often asked to show the place for newspaper and magazine features. He took the privilege seriously. Usually, though, there was some hint of the man behind the decor. I instinctively looked toward the decorative cabinet on the far wall, the source of what I considered to be the house's dirty secret. The doors were closed. The TV wasn't on.

"Aren't you going to watch the game?" I couldn't remember a time he hadn't had the cabinet open for football on Thanksgiving.

He shrugged. I glanced across the foyer into the dining room. Flowers. My father had purchased centerpieces. "What the hell is going on, Dad? Are you going to tell me you have cancer? I don't think I can take a cancer diagnosis right now."

"I don't have cancer."

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I breathed a sigh of relief. "Then what is all of this?"

Hands on hips, he pressed his lips together. "You're going to find out sooner or later. I might as well just tell you now."

I bobbed my head emphatically.

He opened his mouth but, like a cartoon, the sound of the doorbell replaced his voice. Holding up one finger, he backed into the foyer and reached for the doorknob. Who the hell was visiting my dad on Thanksgiving? If it was a client, we'd have to have a serious talk about boundaries.

The bell ringer was a ballerina. Tall, lanky, graceful, and holding a casserole dish. Since when did ballerinas deliver Thanksgiving casseroles?

"Seraphina, you look lovely as always." Dad extended his hand, and she nestled her long fingers in his palm. He helped her over the threshold. Yeah, like that quarter inch strip of wood was a hazard. Don't let her go, she might trip on the rug. Now his hand was on the small of her back, pressing into the graceful drape of her tailored black wool coat. I pressed my lips together to keep my mouth from falling open.

"Thank you, again, for inviting me, Robert." Her too full lips planted on his cheek in slow motion, leaving a smear of red lipstick in her wake. Then she turned her sights on me. Her eyes were green with flecks of amber and gold around the pupil that brought out the highlights in her golden brown hair. And she was young. Really young.

"Dad, aren't you going to introduce us?" I muttered.

He cleared his throat. "Of course. Grateful, this is my girlfriend, Seraphina. Seraphina, my daughter, Grateful."

Girlfriend? "How old are you?" I sputtered. "Oh, hell, that was rude. I'm sorry." I pressed my thumb and forefinger into my temple.

My father held up his hands. "I should have told you..." His voice trailed off and his eyes rolled toward the ceiling.

Seraphina gave my father a harsh look and handed him the casserole.

"Sorry about that. Let's start again," I offered. "I'm Grateful."

"Seraphina." She extended her perfectly manicured hand.

I waited for a "nice to meet you" or some sort of greeting that would indicate she accepted my apology but all I got was a retraction of her hand and a regal movement of her fingers, like she was waving our greeting out of the air before the smell could hit her. We all stood staring at each other. Dad made a sound like a cough. Seraphina rubbed the palms of her hands together. My lips parted. I was staring, definitely staring. She had no pores. Was she my age? She couldn't be much older.

"Can I take your coat?" Dad finally said. Seraphina nodded and shrugged it off into his hands, exposing a red wrap dress that showed off her ridiculously svelte figure.

I forced my lips to form words. "Can I get you a drink?"

"Don't you want to take off your coat, too?" Dad asked.

Crap. I unbuttoned and handed the heavy wool to my dad, flashing him a confused and accusatory look.

"Dad, can I talk to you in the kitchen for a moment?"

"Of course, honey. Seraphina, wine?"


Dad led the way through the dining room and the swinging white door into the kitchen. I waited until there was a polite amount of space between us and the complete stranger he'd invited to our family gathering before I raised eyebrows and pointed at the closed door.

He answered without me having to ask. "She was a client. We hit it off. We've been dating a couple of months."

"And it's already serious enough to bring her home to meet the family?"

From a cabinet behind me, he retrieved a wine glass. "Wine?"

"Ooooh yeah."

He pulled down two more and retrieved a bottle of red wine from a rack on the counter. "I've been lonely, Grateful. Your mom's been gone a long time. She's a beautiful, intelligent woman. Give her a chance."

All of my annoyance drained out of me, replaced by guilt for not putting my father's happiness above my own. He had never introduced me to a woman before. Did I expect him to play the monk forever? It was one afternoon and it was his house. Was it too much for him to ask for me to put on my happy face and deal for one afternoon? No. And I was a complete bitch to even suggest it. "Oh...ah...I want you to be happy, Dad. Of course she's welcome. I just wish you had warned me. I'm shocked, that's all. I've never seen you with a woman before."

Popping the cork, he filled the glasses one by one. "Overdue, then. Wouldn't you say?" He shot me an accusatory glance, took a swig of his wine.

Okay. I deserved that. I hadn't reacted to Seraphina fairly.

"You're right. I'm so sorry. I should have handled that better. I was just caught off guard." I concentrated on the best way to make it up to him. "Hey, why don't you go out there and smooth things over while I start dinner? Make her feel at home. Once she's settled in, I'll come out and get to know her better."

"You can't cook." Dad stared at me blankly. It wasn't an insult. I'd admitted the truth of my inability to cook enough times that Dad was simply repeating the undeniable fact.

"I'm a grown woman with a smart phone. I'll figure it out."

Dad wrapped me in a too firm hug and kissed me on the forehead. "Excellent idea. She's wonderful. You'll see." He grabbed two glasses of the wine and shouldered his way into the dining room.

I lifted my glass from the pristine counter and paused. So, Dad had a girlfriend. An incredibly young, shamelessly beautiful girlfriend. Wrap your head around it, Grateful! I mentally shook my own shoulders. Well, one good thing, I'd be too busy cooking to have much time to visit.

I yanked open the door to the refrigerator, resigned to get started. No turkey. In horror, I opened the freezer. Yep. There it was: one, frozen, twelve-pound turkey. I pulled the ball of ice from the freezer and plopped it on the counter with a foreboding thunk. The icy sheen on the shrink-wrap frosted from the heat of the kitchen.

Wine in hand, I returned to the dining room to break the bad news. It was empty. I proceeded to the living room. Dad and Seraphina were shoulder to shoulder on the couch, carrying on an animated discussion. After a few moments, I cleared my throat to get their attention.

"Dad, the turkey is..." I trailed off when I saw his face fall. For some reason, this was really important to him. He must have strong feelings for Seraphina to introduce her to me and I could see he wanted tonight to be special. I hated the thought of disappointing him.

"What is it, sweetheart?"

"The turkey is going to take a few hours. I don't mean to be rude, Seraphina, but I'm going to be working in the kitchen for a while."

"Grateful, I didn't mean to leave that all to you. Let me finish this drink and I'll be in to help." Dad scooted to the edge of his seat.

Seraphina gave me a pouty smile. "I'll help too. I trained as a chef at a prestigious school in France."

Was she kidding me? A chef? Over my dead body. I could only imagine what Seraphina would think of the frozen turkey on the counter, and there was no way I was suffering her critique of my lacking culinary skills for... as long as it took to cook a frozen turkey. It was a matter of pride. Maybe I hadn't attended a European culinary school, but I could cook dinner for my dad. "You know what? Why don't I get the turkey started while you guys enjoy your drinks, and then you can help with the salad a little closer to dinner?"

The two lovebirds didn't argue with me. In fact, my dad scooted closer to Seraphina as he nodded his head. Great. I was officially relegated to third wheel status. I shook it off and headed back into the kitchen where I dialed Logan. He answered on the first ring.

"How do you thaw a turkey?"

Logan cleared his throat. "Two days in the cooler."

"I've gotta cook this sucker this afternoon."

"How big?

"Twelve pounds."

"I've heard you can cook it from frozen but it takes five hours and the results are inconsistent."


"It might taste like rubber."

I groaned. "Six isn't too late to eat rubber turkey," I said hopefully. "So just throw it in a pan and pop it in the oven?"

"Melt some butter over the top, salt it inside and out. You and the bird will be golden."


"You are still coming Saturday, right?" he asked.

"Wouldn't miss it."

"Good, because we need to talk about us. No interruptions. I need to know where I stand in your life." Metal clanked against metal in the background.

"Where are you?" I changed the subject, desperate to avoid the inevitable conversation, even though I was dying to invite him over to help cook dinner.

"Volunteering at the mission. My dad's coming into town later for a low key dinner though."

The mission! As if Logan could possibly be any more attractive, now he was backlit by a halo. But oddly, when I thought about seeing Logan on Saturday, I didn't tingle with excitement. I dreaded it. Every day he'd been out of my attic, my thoughts of him had gravitated more toward planet friendship than over the moon. And it wasn't because of Rick or my commitment to him. Something had shifted between us. Maybe it was the loss of the connection we'd shared when I was sorting his soul. I wasn't sure. My feelings for him were garbled and confused. Random memories of our time under the same roof mixed with feelings at odds with each other.

"Thanks again and happy Thanksgiving," I said in a voice more cheerful than my disposition.

"Grateful, one last thing."


"You could always bamboozle it."


"You know, bippidy boppity blip, perfect Thanksgiving dinner."

I huffed in offense. "Logan Valentine, I'll have you know, I am woman enough to make a Thanksgiving dinner without the use of magic."

"That's my girl!" He wished me luck and said his goodbyes.

I found an apron in Dad's drawer that said Realtors Do It in Every Room of The House. Eww. A quick dig through the lower cabinets and I located the heavy duty roasting pan we'd used when I was a kid. I tossed the frozen turkey inside. The icy flesh clanked against the metal. You could ice skate on this sucker. I hoped when Logan said I could cook the turkey frozen he meant Antarctic tundra style because no part of this bird was even partially thawed out. To combat the risk of rubberized meat, I microwaved a stick of butter and poured it over the top. Everything was better with butter, right? Into the oven it went.

I took a sip of wine to celebrate my accomplishment.

Then I got my Martha Stewart on, yanking veggies and potatoes from the fridge and selecting a blade from Dad's drawer. I had nothing if not knife skills. Like a culinary pro, I cubed potatoes, and chopped broccoli with mechanical precision. The taters went into a pot of water and the broccoli into the steamer. I pulled Dad's crystal salad bowl from its place under the counter, rinsed out a year's worth of dust, and positioned it on the butcher's block island.

I drummed my fingers on the counter. Four hours to go. Seraphina and Dad had said they wanted to help with the salad. No putting this off, I needed to go socialize. Pushing the door open, I moseyed into the living room. Yes, moseyed, a slow drift rather than a beeline.

As I turned the corner, a tangle of arms and legs slapped my visual cortex. Gah! They were making out on the couch. Hastily, I receded back into the kitchen. What the hell? How long had that been going on? Apparently, Dad and Seraphina were in the hot and heavy stage of their relationship. Could this possibly get any more awkward?

Resolved that help was not coming, I chopped the lettuce and some carrots, tomatoes, and peppers for the salad. When there was nothing left to do, I checked the turkey, hoping a time warp in the oven had magically cooked it for five hours instead of one and a half. No such luck. In fact, it was ice cold, as was the oven...which I'd forgot to turn on.

My head hit the counter with a thud. I could not hide in this kitchen for another five hours. I snatched my phone from my pocket and searched my new Book of Light app for help. There wasn't a spell for instant Thanksgiving, but I could control the elements. Water- ice-was an element. Air was my element of choice, mine to control. I had an idea that maybe I could bamboozle Thanksgiving after all.

To start, I lit the burner under the potatoes, but I didn't wait for them to boil. I raised my flattened palm to my lips and blew gently across the top of the water. Instantly, the liquid came to a rolling boil. I pumped my fist. Being a witch had some definite perks.

The turkey was next. I preheated the oven while I set the roasting pan on the island. Again, I blew across my palm, using my power to ask the air to coax the water molecules inside the bird to heat up. The breeze hit the turkey. Steam billowed. The skin where my breath hit began to brown. Hot damn! I circled the island as I blew out breath after breath. When the turkey's skin had taken on an even, golden glow, and I was feeling a bit light headed, I stopped.

"Starting to smell good, Grateful!" I heard my Dad call from the family room.

At least I knew he was up for air. I dug out a meat thermometer from the drawer next to the stove and slid it into the breast. One hundred eighty degrees! I slid the bird back into the now warm oven, and grabbed the salad out of the fridge. "Should be ready in a few minutes," I yelled.

I stomped through the door, loudly placing the bowl at the center of the dining table. When I dared to glance in their direction, they were on opposite sides of the couch, straightening their clothes.

"Already?" Dad said. "I meant to come in and help you, but I guess I lost track of time. Seraphina here does that to me."

She giggled.

"I see that." I supposed I should make conversation. "So, ah, Seraphina is a beautiful name. Is it a family name?" I plopped down in one of my father's leather chairs across from the sofa and crossed my legs, pumping my foot in the air nervously.

"Yes it is. It means 'burning one.' In my family, most names have to do with the elements. My uncle's name is Kai. It means ocean. My mother's was Gaea."

"Earth. How interesting." Hippies. "And you're a chef?"

"No." She laughed. "I'm an art and antiques dealer."

"I thought you said you went to culinary school?"

"I did. Just for fun. My masters is in Art History."

"No kidding?" Now I was dying to know how old she was.

"Seraphina interned at Christie's," Dad chimed in.

Christies? "You're practically a child prodigy," I blurted. Damn, that came out catty, but I couldn't get over how young she looked and how much she'd accomplished.

She straightened her back and raised her chin. "I finished early. Discipline is the key. I've never shied away from hard work."

Was she looking down her nose at me? Blink. Blink. "I'm a nurse."

"Good for you," she sang in a patronizing tone.

Enough chat. This chick rubbed me the wrong way, and I really didn't think it was because she was the cradle my dad was robbing. There was something about her, an arrogance that made my chest tighten. She hadn't even asked about my name. Had my father told her the story behind Grateful or was she too self-centered to care? By the smug look on her face, I was going with self-centered.

"Excuse me. I better check on the potatoes." I stood and moved toward the kitchen.

As I cut through the dining room, I heard my dad brag about my meager achievement of being first in my nursing class. But I didn't graduate early, and I didn't have my masters. Frankly, it was embarrassing, like he was showing off my participation awards to an Olympic medalist. Not to mention, this wasn't a competition. Sure felt like it though.

I repeated the mantra, "I will not be jealous of my father's girlfriend. I will not be jealous of my father's girlfriend."

A minute later, Dad swung through the door and joined me in the kitchen. "Isn't she great?"

I let my breath out all at once, smiled, and lied. "Yeah! Oh, she is charming, Dad." I bobbed my head.

"You don't like her?"

"Of course I do," I said in a pinched voice.

He looked at me skeptically. I changed the subject.

"Everything's done. Let's bring it out." Four o'clock and I had a fully cooked, golden brown turkey with all of the fixings, which I had prepared myself. Take that, Seraphina.

Dad carried everything out while I whipped the potatoes. By the time I emerged with a pretty china bowl heaping with spuds, the table looked sponsored by Norman Rockwell.

"I for one am thankful to have a daughter who can cook. Thank you, Grateful. Everything looks perfect."

"You're welcome, Dad."

He stood, knife poised over the crispy golden skin, and smiled at Seraphina and then at me. Not so bad. Chances were this May/November romance of theirs wouldn't last anyway. This was a beautiful moment. I decided to accept it for what it was.

The knife sliced the breast portion, a curl of steam rising gently toward the chandelier. Perfect.

Then, Seraphina opened her mouth.

"What is that?" Her long, manicured finger pointed at my masterpiece. Near the neck cavity there was a tiny piece of paper poking out from under the flap of skin. Dad poked it with his fork, then gave it a good pull. A white bag flopped out onto the tablecloth.

Seraphina giggled. "The giblets. You forgot to take them out." She pressed three fingers over her lips and looked at me like I'd made a major faux pas.

Dad joined in the laughter, poking the neck gently with his knife. "Eh, your mom used to do the same thing. Meat will taste fine."

"My apologies, Grateful. This is my fault. I should have insisted I help you in the kitchen," Seraphina said, as if I was twelve and she'd overestimated my abilities.

I decided right then that I hated her. Sorry Dad. She had to go. I started filling my plate. She passed me her stuffing casserole.

"Allergic," I said, casting aside the dish.

She frowned and locked eyes with me. Game on.

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