Book Four – Renewed (Sequel to Sanctified)
When two former enemies fall in love, family secrets threaten to destroy their fragile union and everything they hold dear.
With their extreme ideas about traditional Ojibway life, the radical Kabatay clan have made enemies in their fight to rid the reserve of Western culture and its religion. Disowned by her family for daring to love the church deacon’s eldest son, Jude, Raven Kabatay longs to put an end to the feud started by her mother, brother, and sisters against the Matawapits…people she’s come to think of as her own since Jude changed her life.
Jude Matawapit suffered a humiliating divorce after his wife left him for another man, but with Raven, he’s created a beautiful, new sanctuary after losing his previous one, and his new haven is everything he’s ever wanted for himself and his children. Only two things could destroy his pristine bliss: the secret he holds close to his chest, and the vengeance Raven’s family wants to exact on the Matawapits. A secret and vengeance that could cost the unlikely lovers their hard-won, much longed for happily ever after.
Instead of getting a ride, Raven chose to walk the ten minutes to reach her former nabe of Old Main. It’d taken every ounce of self-will to leave Jude’s house when he needed her. She was twenty minutes late, Jude having finally forced her out the door.
The driveway was full of vehicles, but none were her siblings’—they must’ve also walked over.
Raven drew in a big breath and proceeded up the back steps. From inside, laughter, chatter, clanking dishes, and rattling silverware carried outside. She opened the back door. The bathroom kept her blocked for a few seconds. When she appeared around the corner, the house went silent. Everyone stared. Sisters. Clayton. Nieces. Nephews. Cousins. Uncle. Aunts.
There were so many people, they were bunched in like sardines.
Nobody said hello. Nobody smiled.
Raven squared her shoulders and wormed her way into the kitchen. Mom sat in the recliner, great-grandchild on her lap. Even she didn’t smile.
Fawn leaned against the kitchen counter, arms folded. “You’re late. Eat up. It’s getting cold.”
The chatter and laughter resumed. Raven squeezed her way through her relations who never stopped to ask how she was doing. She stood by Fawn. What was the purpose of inviting her here if she wasn’t wanted?
“Give them time,” Fawn said. Her reply wasn’t welcoming, but it wasn’t unwelcoming either.
“Mom seriously wants me here?” Raven muttered.
“Yeah, she does. So grab a plate.” Fawn turned and busied herself with serving up dinner for the younger kids.
At least Clayton waved at Raven and also encouraged her to grab a dish. But they didn’t get to eat together. Clayton was in the living room, sitting on a stool beside Mom, who failed to touch her plate of food. She’d lost more weight.
Raven didn’t eat much either, which bothered her, because not only was she being disrespectful to those who’d cooked the meal, but also to the plant-based and animal-based life who’d offered themselves for this dinner.
To give herself something to do, Raven washed the numerous plates, never-ending glasses, and constant silverware being dumped into the sink or set on the counter. Once she got those out of the way, she tackled the pots and pans. She was nothing more than a servant, meant to look after royalty who ate and drank. They may as well have held the party at the diner, since she did this all day.
There were hugs and kisses goodbye as everyone began leaving a couple of hours later. Nobody said goodbye to Raven. She kept washing and drying.
All she had to clean was the serving bowls. There wasn’t much food left.
While she stored the leftovers and put them in the fridge, Fawn set another water-filled kettle on the oven element.
Maybe Mom was finally going to make her announcement.
Once Raven put the last of the dishes in the cupboard, Fawn, Wren, Lark, Clayton, and Mom gathered around the kitchen table.
Fawn filled an extra mug. At least someone had done something for Raven.
“Thanks.” Raven sat and fixed her tea.
Fawn said nothing.
“It’s been tough. Very tough. At times I feel like I’m not going to make it,” Mom murmured, staring at her mug of tea.
“You’re gonna make it,” Wren fired back. “Don’t think that way.”
“Enough.” Mom held up her hand. “I asked to speak to you because I have something important to say.” She pinned her bitter eyes on Clayton. “How’s the new council progressing? Did you decide on your portfolios yet?”
“We’re still going through the projects our previous council started.” Clayton sat back.
Mom reached for her cigarettes.
Raven bit her tongue, or she’d scream you have cancer. But she’d be a hypocrite, having given in to her craving after quitting. At least she stuck to vaping now.
“When’s the next meeting?” Mom took a drag.
“Next week. We’ve been having small meetings after our main one. Now that we reviewed all the projects and budgets, we’re going to look at responsibilities.” Clayton glanced around the table.
“What about those, them…Emery, Roy, and Jenny?” Deep frown lines appeared beneath Mom’s grim mouth.
“So far they haven’t done anything. We’ve agreed with what’s gotta be done.”
Mom nodded. Through hostile dark eyes, she focused on Raven.
Raven moved closer to the table but refrained from allowing the sneer to form that tugged at the corners of her lips.
“I want your brother to get the education portfolio.” Mom’s announcement was flat.
Heat burned beneath Raven’s skin. “That’s Jenny’s portfolio. She’s had it for—”
“See? There you go again. Siding with that family. And I’ve no doubt where you’re spending the weekend, or where you walked from. Nobody saw that son of a bitch’s truck pull up.”
How could she speak so hatefully about the deacon? Raven kept holding Mom’s hard stare.
“You’ll be packing your bag after you listen up good to what I have to say.” Mom’s hands shook. She tapped the growing ash on the end of the cigarette into the ashtray.
“And what do you have to tell me that I don’t already know?” Frustration gathered in Raven’s chest.
“Your sister told me she told you the truth. You wanna know who started this bullshit?” Mom huffed. “You really wanna know?”
“Mom…easy.” Fawn reached for their mother’s hand, but Mom snatched it away.
“I’m not six years old. I don’t need help,” Mom snarled. She glared again at Raven and lifted her finger. “Norman Matawapit. That’s who.”