Antigone & Paruush 3

Chapter One

Antigone was out with a few of her relatives, a girls day one of her cousins had put together. On top of that their older son, Kiral was away at a summer camp he had begged them to go to. Antigone had struggled the first few days of it, not used to not having one of her babies with her but she seemed fine now, just happy her son was off and having fun. They had recently had another baby boy but he was still breastfeeding so even though it was a girls day they had one little male guest. However, Paruush was sure the other women loved it. That left Paruush completely alone. He couldn’t stand the house without his family in it so he took his guitar and the sheets of paper he used to write his own music, deciding to go sit somewhere on their vast property. He hadn’t left knowing what sort of music he’d be writing today but he hoped the nature around him would inspire something.

He walked until he came across the river his wife and son Kiral favored, coming here often when it was warm enough to play in the water. He had also fished around here a few times with them so it brought him comfort while he missed his family. Paruush sat the paper down then got comfortable under a tree with his guitar. Now all there was to do was sit and let something come to him or at least that’s what he thought. A woman popped up out of the water and it quickly became apparent to Paruush she was naked. He looked away and she laughed “it’s okay to look at me because I’m completely taking in you”

“I’m married and happily so” he heard her get out of the water, looking again because he could tell she wasn’t human and he didn’t know what she’d do. “is she on her way here or something?”

“No but that doesn’t change anything”

“Please you sexy little fang boy, of course it does. You mean to tell me you, a vampire is faithful? Come on, I’ll let you drink a little blood, it actually turns me on. Vampires are my favorite treat” He got up and began gathering his things and she sighed “come on, you’ve seen me completely naked. It’s not fair if I don’t see you”

“I didn’t ask to see you naked” his voice portraying how annoyed he was. He had wanted a peaceful day to write his music and now he had to apparently deal with some whore. That’s when he began to feel it and he knew what she was “You’re a succubus” he snapped and went to walk away. She giggled “half, the other half of me is Kumiho, come on. Sex is best with a succubus. The stories are true”

“leave me the hell alone” she followed as he walked away saying “really, no temptation at all?”

“None, I love my wife and I wouldn’t risk what I have with her for anything” he felt her magic come over him much harder, much more persistent but there wasn’t enough magic in the world to make him cheat on Antigone. He turned, grabbing her roughly by the hair in his anger that she was trying so hard to pull him against his will when he had already said no so many times. She disgusted him “I am married and I will hurt you if you make me. Go the hell away, stop following me” he emphasized each word, wanting her to understand he meant it because he really didn’t want to have to hurt a woman, even one as obviously immoral as this one.

She moaned and he rolled his eyes, casting her away and into a tree before he took off flying. He heard her yell “I love it rough!” he didn’t go home in case she tried following, he didn’t want her to know where his family was. He landed at a coffee cafe he and Antigone really liked and wanted to call her about what had just happened but he felt bad even considering it. She really deserved this day out, their new baby was only four months old and this was the first time she had gone out to do anything since his birth. Having a new baby was hard, especially for her since only she could feed him and he didn’t want to ruin it for her. He decided just to talk to her about it when she got home tonight.

He sighed, pulling out his phone and texting that he loved her and had something to tell her. She sent a message back asking if he was alright, if she should come home and he told her no, that it could wait, to enjoy herself. She told him if he changed his mind, to just tell her and she would be right there. “Is everything alright?” Kifa asked as Antigone looked worriedly at her phone.

“Just the message Paruush just sent me.”

“Is everything alright?”

“He says it can wait, that I should have fun.”

Kifa patted her arm. “I’m sure if it was serious he would have said so, honey.”

“Maybe, you know how he is. He doesn’t want me sad or upset. I think he thinks I’ve been cooped up.”

“We all need some time out. How about you stay for another hour and then go home, that way he doesn’t feel bad about you leaving us.”

“Alright.”

He sighed again as he got up to order something. He knew just a message like that would keep her from just having fun without any worries but he couldn’t help but at least let her know they needed to talk. Succubus and Incubus didn’t tend to take no very well since they hardly had to experience it. With a lot of them it was like saying no to a spoiled child, they simply weren’t used to it and often gained a sense of entitlement to anything they wanted, especially lovers. He just needed his mate to know incase the succubus kept hanging around the house. Just like a spoiled child you didn’t really know what petulant way they were going to react.

Paruush lingered at the coffee shop, slowly consuming his beverage and snack before walking out, stretching his senses to find her. He had undergone quite a bit of training with Antigones family so when he couldn’t sense her he felt confident she wasn’t anywhere near. He hoped maybe that meant he was over worrying and thinking this entire situation. He stayed vigilant as he returned to his home then quickly went inside. Antigone didn’t seem to be home yet but he hadn’t expected her to be, even with his text since he told her to stay out.

Paruush decided to take care of some laundry. There was a large pile in one of their guest rooms, large enough to possibly keep him busy until his mate returned. He’d be able to help Anigone out and not simply pace around, alone and worrying. About half an hour later he heard Antigone come through the front door. Having his senses still working as hard as they could he could tell their baby boy was sleeping so he quietly began walking to baby Larsens room.

Antigones smile when she looked at him made his heart stutter as he instantly smiled back at her. She walked past him, laying their baby down then quietly creeping out. “so, whats up baby? Do you mind talking to me in the kitchen? I’m starving”

“That’s fine” she began walking down the stairs “do we have any chicken salad left?”

“yeah, only enough for one sandwich though I think. Do you want me to make more?”

“No” she laughed a little as she said it then added “you seem so tense baby. Are you sure it’s nothing bad?”

“well, I went outside to write some music today and there was a woman out there, a succubus”

“oh?” it was such an unassuming no, like she didn’t worry a bad thing at all happened but then again her family was like that. They held their judgement instead of just assuming things about creatures based off their species. “she was naked and she came on to me but I promise nothing happened…she even tried to use her magic when I said no…I ended up having to throw her off of me” she had been in the fridge pulling the chicken salad out so Antigone set it on the counter with her bread then asked “did she hurt you?”

“you don’t sound worried at all”

“nothing happened right? I mean, did she hurt you”

“Of course not. I’m not hurt and nothing happened”

“then thats that, you’re attractive, of course she tried. Just because she was around here doesn’t mean she knows about our children and myself”

“I told her about you and thats when she used her magic” Antigone could feel how tense he was so she put the butter knife down and hugged him “were you actually worried I’d think anything or what?”

“I was worried about a lot of things. What if she wont go away”

“I’m sure she will and if she wont we’ll take care of it.” He kissed her head “I just love you so much.”

“I know you do and thats why she couldn’t force you to change your mind. You love this family just as much as the boys and I love you. It’s all going to be okay Paruush”

He tucked her hair back. “Just promise me if she confronts you, you’ll walk away, especially if you have the baby with you. I don’t want either of you getting hurt, it would kill me.”

“I promise baby.”

Paruush let her go so she could make herself something to eat, relieved their talk had gone so well. He never wanted her to think he would cheat on her or leave her, he loved her more than life and he refused to ever be the reason she cried again. Once she had her sandwich made and everything put away they went and sat in the living room. Paruush switched on the TV, keeping the volume low in case their son needed them.

“So, what were you working on before you got attacked?” Antigone asked.

“I didn’t really get to start. It would have been nice to be able to write another one for you.”

“You’re too sweet and don’t worry about it, you’ll have plenty of other chances to write.”

“I also want to work on a lullaby.”

“I be it’ll be beautiful.”

He smiled. “So, did you have fun? I didn’t ruin it did I?”

“I did and no, you didn’t. I’m just glad that you’re okay and nothing bad happened.”

Chapter Two

“just another case of me over worrying I guess”

“You want to keep us safe and happy, nothing wrong with that. You were also raised to be more cautious than me. I mean, I’ve been getting myself out of tight spots since I was a child”

“that time you, your brother and your mother got pulled underground into that labyrinth?”

“yeah, as a mother myself now though, I can’t imagine how my mom felt before she found us. I know our son Kiral is having fun and is in no way in danger and its hard”

“I’m happy you were able to let him go though. I can’t wait to hear all about it. He was so excited when he left” she yawned and Paruush smiled “we should get you to bed”

“I want to be with you a bit longer”

“Larsen is going to wake up and I promise to get up with you”

“hey, you turned down a succubus for me today. I want to stay up with you” he chuckled “she wasn’t even tempting my love” he lifted her off the couch “come on, a short nap at the very least”

“will you lay with me?”

“of course and by the way I took care of that mountain in the guest room”

“Oh no way, thank you”

“its my laundry too”

“still, you’re a sweet man” he was now tucking her into their bed, smiling down at his gorgeous mate “I just love you so immensely Antigone” He got in beside her and kissed Antigones cheek before he began to lightly rub her to get his beloved to drift while she could. He waited until she was completely out before checking the protective spells on their home. There wasn’t any reason their protections should be messed with but he had to be sure. Once he was confident they could sleep safely he looked in on their son. Seeing he was soundly out Paruush returned to Antigone, ready to rest so he would be awake enough to spend time with her later tonight when their son was up.

Next thing he knew Larson was crying and Antigone was already out of the room. He was just out of their bedroom when the crying stopped. He found his mate in the rocking chair, feeding their little one “you’re so fast” Paruush said “you just take longer to wake when he cries” she answered softly. “he actually might go right back to sleep. Look at his tired little face. He’s going to grow soon, especially how hes eating”

“he does look exhausted”

“he had a big day too getting passed around. They were practically fighting over him at points” When he was done she attempted to lay him back down, singing to bring her little one comfort. Larson went right back to sleep so they returned to their bedroom. Now that Paruush had talked her into laying down she could feel how tired she was and was ready to get more rest “do you want me to stay up” she asked in her sleepy voice. He kissed her “No, you’re tired too and I’d love nothing more than to hold you while we both rest”

Antigone woke a little while later, her stomach growling. She was amazed at how hungry breastfeeding made her. She started to get up and Paruush held her tighter. “Where are you going?” He asked softly.

“To get a snack.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“Baby, it’ll be fine.”

“But what if she shows up or something?” He sat up and yawned. “Just let me go with you.”

“Alright baby, calm down.”

“Sorry, I did my best to make sure she couldn’t find our home, but just in case.”

As they walked to the kitchen she said “Maybe we should go somewhere for a bit. My Aunt and Uncle, Ella and Atticus have been begging us to go explore..gosh what was that place called again…”

“They wanted us to go visit some demons with them in a land called Barense. Nigel and Vina I believe, Ella has been going a lot”

“I think she likes someone around there. It’s weird for her to go anywhere without her twin Atticus, I mean they even have lived together their entire adult life. Aren’t you curious? We could get away and see why she goes there” he chuckled “you think the baby is ready to travel like that?”

“My grandpa, Declan can make sure we get through okay while we let this succubus nonsense blow over. You know I wouldn’t consider going to another world if I wasn’t completely confident our son would be okay. We still have two weeks before Kiral comes home too and if he’s sent home early for some reason I have a ton of family here who would mind him until we got back. You’re such a worry wart, you’re just going to be tense if we don’t go somewhere” They ate together and when morning came Antigone called her Aunt and Uncles home. It was Atticus who answered “No way, you want to come”

“yeah, we need to get out of our house. Some drama happened and I think a fun trip would be perfect. We’d have a place to stay there right? Our son is still too young for camping out”

“yeah, we can sleep at Nigels or Mered’s”

“Ohhh who’s Mered?” Her Uncle chuckled at her question “most likely the reason my sister will even go there when I don’t feel like it. Thats why you want to go isn’t it?”

Antigone laughed. “Now why would you think that?”

“Because I’m your uncle and I know you.”

“Maybe that’s part of it and I’ll explain the rest once we see you.”

“Alright then. Why don’t you two go ahead and pack then head over. We were planning to leave after lunch.”

“Sounds good, we’ll see you soon.” She hung up and turned to Paruush. “They’re leaving today so if you get Larson bathed and changed, I’ll pack.”

“If you need my help, call me okay?”

“I will, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Once they were ready they went over to her grandparents house. Declan was already ready, saying a protective spell over their little one to be sure going to another world wouldn’t harm him in any way. “thanks grandpa”

“anything for you and my great grandchildren. Be safe and kick ass if you need to but more importantly let Paruush handle things on his own if its real danger so you can get the baby far away. Don’t be stubborn. I know Cleary women weren’t built for letting a man handle it but still, I can’t imagine life without little Larsen”

“I know, I always put my babies first. Please make sure to check in at our place incase something happens with Kiral”

“your grandma and I can just stay over there”

“Oh you don’t have to”

“it wont be trouble sweetheart. It’ll give you peace of mind”

“Just be careful of the succubus. One was bothering Paruush. It’s why we want to go somewhere for awhile”

“a succubus is no match for your grandmother, my self or your grandmothers clan”

“I know, I just needed to warn you”

“Hurry on to your aunt and uncle.” Antigone kissed his cheek then left with Paruush. “everythings going to be great Paruush. I’m so glad my grandparents are going to be over there” When they arrived at her relatives place they were ready to go so they almost immedietly set off “Oh my gosh, how is he even more precious than he was the other day?” Ella asked and Antigone smiled “I don’t know either”

“so whats this drama?” Atticus asked and Paruush filled them in on everything “good thing you didn’t cheat on our niece.”

“there would have been hell to pay” Ella added, causing Antigone to say “guys”

“what?” Atticus asked and Antigone shook her head. They had made their own portal close by, it was how they were coming and going so easily and so often. “are you three ready?” Ella asked “yeah, lets go” Antigone answered so they stepped through, instantly finding themselves in a new world. All being vampires they took off flying, Ella excited to show off her family to her friends here. She also felt Antigone would love it around this area.

As they passed things Ella made sure to tell Antigone all about it which she appreciated. Paruush was already starting to relax, happy to be far from that terrible woman. He really didn’t want to encounter her again, he didn’t want to risk her magic somehow working and causing him to hurt the love of his life. They went straight for Mered home but he wasn’t there much to Ellas surprise “did he know you were coming?”

“I thought so but he could have thought I meant later since most the stuff we talked about would be after sunset”

“Ohhh I see”

“shut up Atticus. I told you I don’t like him”

“riight”

“I don’t and he doesnt like me like that..I dont so much as speed up his heart beat”

“eh, what does that mean with a demon like him? I’m pretty sure if he didn’t want you to know he had feelings for you he could manage to control even things that would happen naturally”

“we’re just friends we’ll always be friends.”

“well lets see if he’s at his daughters home. Tahairah goes crazy over babies so we might aswell let her meet Larsen first”

“okay, so Tahairah can meet Larsen” her brother smiled and she elbowed him “stop it, he likes Tamlin. I’ll bet you he’s with her right now. I’m happy just being friends. I’m friends with lots of men and you only tease me about him, why?”

“because I know you like him and you can lie to me all you want but you’re different now”

“I’m not”

“you are Ella, you almost never went anywhere without Atticus your entire life until now”

“well…I” she was blushing and Atticus chuckled, receiving a light slap to the back of the head “you guys are mean” she said as she tried to stop. She wished they’d leave her alone about it, especially since he really wasn’t interested and she was fine with it. Friends was fine, she’d find someone else to be attracted to eventually. She had to since Mered wanted someone else. They arrived at Tahairahs and the twins introduced them “Oh my gosh, may I please hold your baby. It’s okay if I cant, I know it might be weird since you don’t know me”

“It’s fine by me. I trust my Aunt and Uncles judgement with people” Tahairah squealed, letting them in so they could all sit down and she could get her hands on that adorable baby in Antigones arms. “come here sweetheart” Tahairah said as she gently took him “so his names Larsen?” she checked and Antigone nodded. “Do you have any others?” Cadoc asked “yeah, Kiral is at summer camp. He’s nine”

“summer camp?”

“it’s something kids like to go to in our world”

“cool”

“so where’s your dad?” Atticus asked and Tahairah said “with Tamlin, they are gathering something or another again” Ella looked over at her brother with an expression that said “see” she then actually spoke to Tahairah “well we’ll stay here a little bit then head over to Nigels then”

“you dont want me or Cadoc to tell him you’re here. He’s not far I don’t think”

“Oh no, I’m here earlier than he expected I’m sure. I don’t want to mess with his other plans. It would be rude”

“he wouldn’t care” she waved her hands “seriously, it’s okay.”

“we don’t even have to pull him away. We can just show you where he is and spend time with your niece, her husband and baby” Ella smiled “you’re so sweet but I really don’t want to be rude or intrusive. I come here all the time. He needs to spend time with just his other friends too”

Cadoc glanced Tahairah who shook her head. They would let him know later then. Cadoc almost had the urge to go and do what Mered had done to him, but he resisted the urge to shake sense into him. Besides, Tahairah knew her father better than he did and he was sure she would say something. “So what brings you three here?” Cadoc asked Antigone.

“Paruush was worried about this succubus that threw herself at him. He didn’t want her trying to hurt us and I knew he would stress about it so I recommended we come here.”

“Well you don’t have to worry about her getting to you here or at my father’s house.”

“He’s right, Nigel is quite powerful and then there’s my father.”

“He’d probably threaten to throw her off a cliff or something.”

“He would not.”

“Yes he would. I’m not saying he’d let her die, just that he’d throw her off of one.”

Chapter Three

Atticus chuckled “that sounds like Mered alright” They talked and laughed for a few hours before Ella said “I really want them to meet NIgel and Vina really quick too. Do you guys want to come?”

“we’ll meet you at my dads later okay? There’s something I need to do” Tahairah answered so they all hugged then parted. “You guys are going to love Nigel and Vina. Vina is a bunny too”

“I’m jealous of those cute ears” Antigone said and Paruush spoke “you’re perfect the way you are”

“you two are so sweet” Ella pointed out. Nigel and Vina seemed excited to see them and once more Ella introduced everyone. “well welcome to our land. Do you like it so far?”

“what I’ve seen yes. Your son is sweet, I met him and Tahairah”

“where’s Mered? He’s normally with you when your here” Nigel asked and Ella answered “he’s somewhere with Tamlin. I think he might not have understood when I was coming but it’s fine. You all are my friends too you know” Nigel smiled “I know” Before she had to argue with someone else about getting him or not she said “why don’t we show them that beautiful valley with all the honeysuckles”

“sure” Vina said and Antigone agreed it would be a good idea. When they arrived Larsen seemed to love it there, he was so alert and seemed to want to be set down. They all sat with the little one, enjoying the sweet smell of the air here as they talked and hungout together. “that white hair seems to be pretty prevalent in your family Antigone”

“Yeah, we get it from Ellas dad”

“it’s pretty, my daughter has white hair too and I know you’ve seen my son does. I’m not sure where they got it. I never met my parents so maybe from them. Anyway, How long are you staying?”

“I don’t know, at least through tomorrow”

“We’ll have to make sure you meet Luca and Panya before you leave”

Mered looked up as he caught wind of his daughter’s and son-in-law’s scents, his posture going from relaxed to protective. “Did something happen?” He asked as he dropped a handful of wild carrots into his basket.

“Ella and some of her family is here. They stopped by your place, but you weren’t there.” Tahairah said.

“I missed her?”

“Only just. She went to Nigel and Vina’s. Antigone and Paruush came with them. They have their little one with him. He’s incredibly cute.” Mered glanced at Tamlin. “Well if you are otherwise engaged then I can just tell her so.”

“Engaged?”

“We don’t know how long she’s staying, but if you’re busy we’ll make sure she knows.” Cadoc had to force himself not to laugh at the look on Mered’s face. Tahairah never spoke to him like that and he looked so confused and a little surprised.

“No, I can go back. Tamlin, you can gather the rest on your own right?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“Alright then, I’ll get cleaned up then.”

Vina gave Larsen back as soon as he started fussing and Antigone started to leave to feed him when she was stopped. “You don’t have to run off, you can feed him here if it’s more comfortable.” Vina said with a warm smile.

“Thank you, I never know with some people. My family’s pretty open, but I wasn’t sure.”

“It’s the same for us.”

He took off as fast as he could for home, feeling terrible she was already here and he had missed her. He hadn’t thought she was coming until sunset. Now he had apparently missed all this time with her because he had been out trying to get things done while she wasn’t with him. He wondered why his daughter hadn’t come for him right away, she knew how much he cared about Ella and his time with her. He guessed he should have asked before taking off but he needed to hurry. Mered quickly cleaned himself up and changed before going to Nigels home and following their scents to the honeysuckle field. There she was, his beautiful goddess Ella. She had taken his breath away yet again but he got himself together before she saw him flustered.

She hadn’t noticed him coming until he was right beside her “Ella, aren’t you early?”

“I think we had a miscommunication but I’ve been having fun. Where is Tamlin?”

“still gathering vegetables for our pantries”

“ah, why did you leave her to do it? You could have finished” He shook his head “why didn’t you have my daughter show you where I was”

“I come here all the time.” he looked just as confused as when his daughter had talked to him earlier “well maybe you want to be alone with Tamlin sometime”

“why?” Ella sighed “well its good to see you” he didn’t let it drop “If I’m not home when you get here I misunderstood when you’re coming. Please, next time have her get me or have her lead you to me. I enjoy your visits, the more you come the happier I am. You come because I invite you most the time”

“Okay” Mered frowned, feeling guilty and hating how she seemed a little hurt. He had made her something to give her later but he wanted to make her happy before her sadness made him lose too much control over himself so he asked “could we go back to my place, please, just us?”

“I can’t leave my niece”

“Of course you can, go, Atticus is with us” Antigone quickly said. Ella looked back at Mered “Okay then” he smiled, then walked away with her. “so you know him well?”

“I’ve known him a very long time”

“does he love my aunt?”

“Yes, he’s just never actually cared about a woman, besides his daughter of course. He’s a good demon now but he used to be completely self centered. Women were for sex if he wasn’t killing them because he thought killing in general was fun. He stopped thinking like that long ago but still, it’s basically like a preteen boy with his first crush”

“as long as he loves her thats all I care about. Ella doesn’t have a ton of experience from what I know either with relationships. It’s almost always been her and Atticus in my dads old house” Atticus nodded “she’s not a virgin but there’s only ever been two men and one was when we were fourteen. The last one was when Antigone was a baby”

“really?”

“we’re always out doing something, neither of us had time to date until she met Mered and suddenly started making time to be with someone else. I’m happy for her, maybe I’ll find someone now”

“Maybe you and Tamlin would hit it off, get rid of this imaginary competition Ella seems to think she has” Nigel suggested. Aticus smiled “Maybe, do you think she’ll come around?”

“No idea, it depends on what they were out there doing. She’s finishing up alone”

“I’ll go help her if you are comfortable with these people Antigone”

“I’m comfortable”

“good, I’ll find Tahairah so she can show me”

“Is everything alright, Ella?” Mered asked as they walked.

“It’s fine.”

“You just seem mad at me. I’m sorry that I missed you.”

Ella sighed. She was acting so immature. “It’s alright.”

“As long as you’re sure.”

“I am.”

He just nodded, but wondered what he had done wrong. If it wasn’t him not being home then what was it? Had he said something bad? The rest of their walk was in silence as he tried to think of any mistakes he had made. When they made it to his home, he invited her in and asked that she wait for him in the living room while he hurried to his room to grab her gift.

He came back with a gorgeous necklace made of many different stones. They were all different but he had arranged them in such a way they looked perfect together. “thats really for me?”

“well, remember the first time you spent a week here with me?”

“yeah, I wanted to really see this place. It was also the first time I came without my brother” he nodded “well everywhere we went you’d see some sort of stones you liked and you proceeded to tell me how much you had always loved different kinds of rocks because they are such unique things..well” he was starting to actually look nervous which surprised her. He never looked nervous, he was always collected, like nothing in the world truly effected him in any way. His emotions were showing because he was scared she’d think he was weird “when you weren’t looking I made sure to grab every rock you pointed out to me. I wanted to save them for you but then when we were back at my home after our week…well..it went so well and I thought you might think I was some sort of creep for doing it so I just kept them. I was cleaning up recently and found them again. I couldn’t just let them sit again, I guess I was hoping if you thought it was weird at this point you had known me long enough that you wouldn’t quit seeing me”

She gently took it from him, feeling tears trying to climb out of her eyes. “How would that be weird…I think that’s sweet. It’s so beautiful Mered. How did you even do this to them?”

“it would take awhile to explain but I’m happy to explain it to you. I can make us coffee and we can sit on the couch together for a bit. We still have at least an hour until I thought you were getting here” She hugged him and he had to mentally steady himself so he wouldn’t shake from the nerves “calm down” he commanded of himself as he held her close.

“Oh, hello.” Tamlin said when Atticus walked up. “Everything alright?”

“Yes, I thought I’d give you a hand, if that’s okay.”

“Of course. Did Mered make up with Ella?”

“I hope so, the poor idiot.”

Tamlin laughed. “He is kind of dense isn’t he?”

“Maybe a little. So what are you picking?”

“Wild carrots.” She pulled one out of the ground and walked over to him, showing him the plant. “They look like this, but if they have purple on them toss them out.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re actually a toxic look alike.”

“Alright, good to know.” She smiled and he felt his heart skip a beat. Even covered in dirt she was beautiful.

He got to work helping her, chatting about different plants and their uses. She even got him to take a bite of one of the carrots which he was amazed tasted and smelled like the ones they often bought from the store. “So, does Ella think Mered and I are in a relationship?”

“Yes.”

“How silly. I couldn’t see myself ever dating him and Ella is all he can talk about.”

“Really?”

“He truly loves her, I only wish he would say something.”

Atticus chuckled. “It’s not easy telling someone you love them and it’s a million times harder for someone like Mered.”

“yeah, when I push him about talking to her his past comes up a lot and fear he wont make her happy. It’s honestly sweet how much he worries about that. He’s been with a lot of women but he’s never cared if they were happy or not so he feels like its the same as having no experience since he only cared about himself. He’s just over thinking it though as people often do. I mean, she already enjoys her time with him. I’ve even told him that she wouldn’t come as often as she does if he wasn’t capable of making her happy. In his years raising his daughter he became much softer and kinder than he realizes. I think once they get together they are going to be really happy but he needs to be the one to tell her so theres nothing I can do but encourage him to confess his feelings”

“well they are immortal, it will happen”

“So you’d be happy for them if they were together?”

“yeah, why wouldn’t I be? He can’t help his past and he’s good to her. Besides, even if I did want to get in the way I couldn’t. Women in my family don’t take kindly to being told what to do. She’d listen to what I had to say but in the end if she didn’t want to listen she wouldn’t” Tamlin laughed and Atticus’s heart stuttered “yeah, Ella is awesome. I can’t wait to meet your niece and her husband too”

Chapter Four

“Well maybe after this you can come back with me?”

“As long as you walk me home first to drop everything off.”

“Deal.”

Antigone and Paruush followed Nigel and Vina as they showed off a little bit of their world. They both had to admit it was a gorgeous place and wondered why they had never taken the time to come with Atticus before. Larsen slept soundly in Paruush’s arms, enjoying the sounds of nature around them. “He’s so content.” Antigone said.

“He knows he’s safe.” Paruush replied softly. “I wonder how everything back home is doing? I hope that woman hasn’t been bothering anyone.”

“You know my grandfather would get rid of her in an instant.”

“I know, it’s just such a bother. It’s almost like I had a neon sign above my head that said please harass.”

Antigone laughed. “I don’t see one, maybe the bulb went out.”

“I hope so.” He smiled because he couldn’t help himself. She was always good at lightening the mood.

When evening came Ella felt she should go see if her niece wanted to come with them and Mered agreed. He glanced at the necklace he made her as they walked out. He was so relieved he had actually made her happy. It was hard not knowing what to do at all now that he had fallen in love. He had already upset her once this trip and that was once too many. She brought so much happiness to his life and he had barely been ready to feel this new emotion, the intense love that comes with finding your soulmate. Mered was sure he wasn’t ready to experience what heartbreak felt like for the first time and losing Ellas attention would definitely break his heart. He could hardly stand it if she went a few days without coming.

“Hey, what’re you two doing here?” Antigone asked when her Aunt and Mered stepped through the door “would you like to come with us tonight? We’ll be going too far to come back so we’ll be sleeping outside but I still wanted to invite you. You guys could come just for the first two things, those wont be too far to come back”

“Thats so thoughtful Ella but we’re having fun with Nigel, Vina, Tahairah, Cadoc, Atticus and Tamlin”

“and all of us feel like relaxing in here so go have fun you two.” Ella blushed as Tahairah finished talking at the thought of going alone with him. They hadn’t gone out alone together over night since around the time she first met him. Taking his daughters old room in his home was one thing, sleeping right next to him outside just felt different. She was surprised not even Tamlin was getting up to come “Okay guys, if everyone is sure”

‘we are, have a good time and Mered, you keep my sister safe” Atticus added. “I guarantee you. I’d have to be dead for anything to harm her and I’m an impossible thing to kill”

“Impossible to kill?” Atticus couldn’t resist asking. Mered nodded “There is only one way to kill me and it’s a multiple step process. Many have tried but I’ve never told anybody how, not even my daughter so nobody besides creatures like me know how. Tahairah doesn’t know not because I don’t trust her but because I don’t want anybody to ever even think to harm her to find out. Sadly such was the fate of my fathers mate. He told her and it eventually cost her her life. He killed the man who killed her but that didn’t bring his mate back” Nigel nodded solemnly “He still looks for her doesn’t he?”

“yes, he always will unless he finds her reincarnation. Relationships are never the same once you find your mate. He tried and tried to move on with different women, including my mother but you can’t just be with anybody when you find them” He naturally looked down at Ella, blushing when he noticed his daughter stareing at him. He cleared his throat “she is safe Atticus, I promise” Ellas heart was pounding at all this talk of mates. She felt like Mered was hers but she also still felt like he didn’t feel the same way.

When they were gone Atticus said “being that hard to kill is cool, shame about his dads mate though”

Nigel answered Atticus “I think thats what messed his father up and in turn messed Mered up. Mereds father only cared about finding his mate one day and the anger he had over her loss made him a terrible, wicked thing. Theres never really an excuse for murder and for teh other things we did but if you really knew Mered’s story I think you could all understand why he was so bad for such a long time. I’m just happy he found a reason to be better when he found you Tahairah”

She now spoke “and now he has his mate, well, at least has her in his life.”

Nigel and Vina were both happy when Panya and Luca showed up and they immediately introduced them to Antigone, Paruush and little Larsen who Panya fell in love with the moment she set eyes on him. She would up looking at Luca as she rocked the baby and everyone could see the want in her eyes. It actually had some of them laughing at how suddenly embarrassed Luca looked. “I hope the trip here was uneventful.” Panya said.

“Oh yes, very quiet. It’s been nice all day.” Antigone said.

“Daddy, we should take them to see the unicorns. They should be done giving birth and I bet they’d love the foals.”

“Tomorrow baby, especially with the little one, I don’t want to exhaust them too much and it’s a little bit of a hike.”

“we’d love to tomorrow” Antigone said cheerfully then Vina suggested ” for now, how about we figure out dinner”

“I’ll help, you all just stay in here with our guests” Nigel said as he got up and walked with Vina into their kitchen. “Your baby is just too precious”

“His older brother is adorable too. He doesn’t like to be called adorable any more though” Panya lightly giggled “little boys always want to be seen as so tough. How old is you older son?”

“Kiral is nine”

“bring him back here soon. Your Aunt and Uncle come all the time”

“and maybe you will have babies for mine to play with soon” Luca was blushing again but seemed happy as Panya took his hand in hers “Hopefully” Dinner came surprisingly fast, time whizzing by as they continued to hangout with this amazing family. They just clicked so well and it made Antigone hope all the more things worked out between Mered and her Aunt Ella. Late that evening as Ella began to get drowsy Mered spoke and she could hear a faint hint of nervousness in his voice. “you know, it’s just us this time…maybe I should hold you to make sure you’re safe and warm through the night” she blushed “Oh, um, okay”

They cuddled up to one another and Mered was finally unable to stop his heart from fluttering or able to stop goosebumps from forming at how amazing it felt to even just hold her. She noticed it right away “you…you do like me?”

“what?” He knew he sounded like an idiot but he had to try and play it off “I…I was just trying to make sure you were safe and warm”

“The way you reacted to me cuddling up to you like that says otherwise. Has my brother been right? Have you been trying to hide it?” he swallowed, holding her just a little tighter “yes..”

“why would you hide that from me?”

“sometimes I know and sometimes I don’t Ella” She got out of his arms, wanting to look at him as they spoke so he sat up with her “what does that mean?”

“It means I’ve done a lot of really terrible things and while I know you know some of it you don’t know all of it and it wouldn’t be right to be with you if you don’t know everything”

“then just tell me everything”

“You say that like it’s simple….do you realize you’d obliterate my heart if you stopped coming to see me?”

“I’m not going anywhere so just talk to me Mered.” He cupped her cheek, staring into her eyes. Ella could see the worry and inner turmoil so she raised her hand, gently placing it on his “Please talk to me, I love you…I want us to be together…I…all this time I thought you liked Tamlin” his face scrunched in confusion “Tamlin, why?” even the way he asked made it sound like he thought that was absolutely absurd. “I dont know, you spend a lot of time with her and…I guess insecurity”

“I’m about as interested in her as I am in Nigel. You are who I love I just worry over a lot and it makes me afraid to talk to you about my feelings. I never actually dated a woman before so even if you could forgive my entire past I might be terrible at being a mate even though all I ever want is to be the reason you’re happy. I just, I never cared about women really. I only bothered at all when I wanted sex and you deserve so much Ella. I wouldn’t be able to stand myself if I made you miserable with me”

“Tell me, I trust you and I won’t run away.”

He swallowed, his heart tripping over itself as he gathered his courage. “Alright, but let me apologize for everything. I know that there are things I have done that are unforgivable.”

“It’s alright.”

He pulled her into his lap and she ran her fingers gently through his hair as she waited patiently for him to speak. He took a shaky breath and began, starting at the very beginning. He didn’t want to make excuses for himself, but he felt that if she knew what his childhood was like then maybe it would give her some context. His stomach was in knots and he wondered if this is what it had been like for Nigel. It was hard to look her in the eye as he spoke, afraid of what he might see there if he did. Horror? Disgust? He would deserve it, but he didn’t know if he could handle it.

When he finished she said softly “even knowing all that I still love you Mered. As long as you’d never do any of those things ever again I’d love to be your mate”

“I wouldn’t, raising Tahairah made me see how horrible of a being I was. As she grew so did I”

“I see that which is why I still love you and want to be with you”

“May I kiss you? I’ve been wanting to for so long” Her heart trembled as she moved to kiss him. Mered actually moaned against Ellas lips it felt so good to finally be kissing her. When she pulled back he said “please say something when I’m being an ass or doing something selfish. I really do want to be a good mate.”

“You make me so incredibly happy already Mered. You’re sweet and fun and thoughtful…I’m happy this is finally happening…I really thought it was Tamlin you wanted to be with” He kissed her again, a little more passionately this time. “There is no other woman for me than you Ella. Would you stay here with me? I know Atticus is your twin but…my daughter is here. She has a mate now but I of all people know how cruel and vicious creatures can be. I’d worry all the time being another world away from her. If you have to think about it thats okay and if you want to just keep seeing eachother how we see eachother now thats okay too…and if it does mean a lot to you I can start to come to terms to moving to a different world for you because you mean everything to me…I just really hope you’d come here so I can continue to look out for my daughter.”

Ella’s heart fluttered in her chest and she felt herself tear up a little. “You really want me to live with you?”

“I do, if you’ll have me, I want you here always. I want to hold you when I fall asleep and wake up to this beautiful face every morning.” He stroked her cheek. “Please don’t cry.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just so happy. I’ll talk to Atticus.”

“Do you think he’ll be alright with you leaving?”

“He’ll be sad I’m sure, but I know he’ll be happy for me and he also knows he can visit me as much as he wants.”

He pressed their foreheads together. “I love you so much Ella, thank you for staying, I don’t know what I would do if you had left me.”

“I love you too.”

When the sun rose over the horizon to light up the world around them Antigone had already been up with Larsen. She was happy to get to witness just how gorgeous the sunrise was. She could see it perfectly out of their window as she comforted her little one. “soon we’ll get to see unicorns. I wish you were old enough to remember but I wager we can come see them again when you’re big enough to enjoy it”

“Good morning” Panya said cheerfully “Oh, did I wake you? I’m so sorry”

“No no, I’m just excited about the unicorns too…um…may I hold him again?”

“Of course, he’s a little fussy right now so don’t let it hurt your feelings if he gets upset” She took him and he readily went, causing Antigone to smile “you’ll make a good mom. I saw the way you looked at my son and then your mate”

“Lucas on board to start trying, we talked about it last night”

“even when mine keep me up I couldn’t feel happier. They bring a joy to your life that’s indescribable” The two women talked until the rest of the house was up and ready to head out. Paruush knew Antigone had been up again so he carried his mate while she held their son. He’d honestly take any excuse to have her in his arms. When they arrived Paruush and Vina did and went precisely what and where they were told, soon getting the gift of seeing the unicorns and their babies “Oh my gosh” Antigone said quietly and Paruush smiled, kissing her on the cheek. He loved seeing her this happy.

The beautiful creatures were lively, some happily playing with their young while others were still gently teaching their babies to walk. It was heart warming to see. It made her miss her older son again but she reminded herself like always, he was having fun and completely safe. They stayed until lunch time rolled around then went to a group of trees that were bountiful with fruit. “everything in these trees is safe to eat but if you see any snakes or bugs ask us first before interacting with them” Paruush nodded, getting some down for himself and his mate.

“How do you think Ella’s doing?” Antigone asked Atticus as they relaxed and ate.

“Good, I can feel it.” He chuckled. “I think I’m going to tease her for the rest of her life.”

“Be good uncle.”

“You know I can’t help it. I told her he was in love with her, but she didn’t believe me so I have to mess with her a little.”

“We have to tease Mered just as much then. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone tip toe around something so hard in my life.” Nigel said with a laugh.

“I’m just glad he finally found the courage to tell her, that is if he actually did.” Tamlin said.

“He definitely did.” Atticus said with a smile.

“it must be cool to have a twin, to be so in sync with someone”

“yeah, she’s been my best friend all our lives. Do you have any siblings Tamlin?”

“No, how many siblings do you have besides Ella?”

“Four”

“wow, are you all close?” Antigone just enjoyed listening to the two of them get to know eachother. It was obvious there was something already growing between them which was good to see. This way her Aunt and Uncle could both move on with a mate at roughly the same time so neither would have to adjust to not being with the other all the time on their own. When they saw Mered and Ella a few days later they announced they were together then Ella took her brother to the side to talk to him. “you want to live here with him” she smiled, he always knew “yeah, I thought we should talk about it alone.” He set a hand on her shoulder “I saw this coming and I’m happy for you. We may be twins but we couldn’t stay attached to eachothers hip forever..besides”

He spoke a little lower “I like Tamlin so it’s a good time”

“really?” Ella asked excitedly. Atticus chuckled “I gave you time so give me time, don’t go telling anyone”

“I wont”

“I love you sis”

“i love you too”

Antigone and Paruush stayed until the day before their son was supposed to come home from camp, happy to find the succubus had shown up but Declan had insured she wouldn’t return “what did you say grandpa?” He kissed her head “I just made it clear what happens to people who try and mess with my family, especially my grandchildren. Did you have a nice trip?”

“yeah, Ella and Atticus have mates. Ella is with Mered and Atticus hasn’t told Tamlin yet. Everything there was amazing too. I want to take Kiral sometime”

“we should all go since two of my children have found mates there” Declan and Rylan spent the night, eager to see their great grandson when he got home tomorrow. Antigone and Paruush laid cuddled peacefully in their bed, feeling their life couldn’t possibly get better.

~ The End

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