Nelly woke , lifting her head up off the window she had been resting against. She was still on the this train with a terrible feeling in her stomach that nobody but her seemed to get. The first day she had woken confused but one of her fellow passengers explained they were all going home. The explanation had settled her at the time. It wasnât until this morning, four days later that it hit her âgoing home from where?â She decided to ask âWhere have we been?â another question hit her and she asked it right away âand where is home?â The question seemed to perplex the man she asked.
He couldnât believe it, she was really pregnant âand you think itâs been two months?â
âYeah andâŚIâve been suspicious for about a month now so Iâve had a lot of time to think. I really want to seek out my parents. Iâve wanted so badly to introduce them to you, Pretoria and Brynmor anyway and now that theyâll have, well, sort of their first grandchild itâs time. I know youâre scared for me to leave but you three will be right with me Reesâ She had returned to him almost three years ago and as frightening as it truly was she was right so he fought down his protective instincts and agreed they should journey to find her parents. âHow will we find them thoughâ she walked over to a nearby drawer and pulled out a necklace.
Wolfric and Merle had been happily married twenty four years now and had their winery for fourteen. It had taken a long time to pick the perfect location, find a good staff, get equipment and a long list of other things they hadnât known about when they decided they wanted to do this. They hadnât stressed along the way though. Getting it going was part of their enjoyment. Merle already had more money than they could spend and even though they moved to live on location Wolfric had easily gotten his business going in the area, due in no small part to Merle practically over advertising his dentist office. The winery was just fun, something for them to do as a couple so accomplishing things took however long it took.
Late one night a knock sounded at the door of their home while Wolfric was cooking dinner and his mate, Merle was in their library reading. Wolfric turned the bruners all down to low then went to answer the door, knowing his mate would be too into the book to hear the sounds of knocking. They hadnât been expected company so he simply thought it was some sort of rush delivery Merle had ordered. Just the fact it was a nicely dressed young man with no package in his hadn startled Wolfric but then when he realized the young man had a strong resemblance to him his heart began racing with confusion âUmâŚhelloâ the man started nervously. He was the exact same height as wolfric at 5â11, he had his blue eyes and blond hair but at the same time he was starting to see Merle stance, his gaze.
Keoki could see the realization and panic start to set in âplease, let me speak. Iâm Keoki and by the look on your face I can tell you notice I look a lot like you and your husband. Iâm actually kind of glad because I need you to believe me. Iâm in a hurry and when my technical mother finds out Iâm goneâŚespecially where I am sheâs going to lock me up so listen, please, I had to meet you.â Merle didnât hear much when he was reading but his mates heart going wild was something he would never miss. Just as Keoki realized Merle was there he was being hauled inside roughly âmerleâ Wolfric started as Merle shoved him onto the couch âwhatâre you doing at our home so late at nightâ he growled but realization was starting to hit him too. âlisten to him Merleâ Wolfirc said and Keoki began nervously speaking again.
âIâmâŚIâm sure you heard my name is KeokiâŚIâm your kid and I know that doesnât make any sense. You see my creator has always wanted to make a breakthrough in the scientific community by making gay couples able to have their true own children, nobody else involved besides scientists. YouâŚyouâd have to question her to know how she made me because she wont even tell me all the details but I do know Iâm her first truly successful experiment. All her other ones wont grow or die before tenâŚthereâs a five and nine year old still there but IâŚI didnât want to be slowed down. I wanted to meet my parents and tell anybody about usâŚsheâs doing what sheâs doing in secret because wellâŚI wasnât made in the traditional senseâŚI dont know what to say I am besides I was made from yours and Wolfircs DNA sirâ
Merle was suddenly uncomfortably close, it caused Keoki to shake. Even as he asked âcan you shift?â
âbecause youâre an Amarok?â Keoki asked, hoping he believed him. Last time he escaped she had convinced the people that found him he was crazy and managed to get him back into her care. âyesâ
âNo, Iâm sorry but please still believe meâŚshe considers that her one failure with meâŚI cantâŚsheâsâŚsheâs tried different things to try and get me to be able toâŚdonât make me go back. I know I look nice but sheâsâŚâ Merle backed up and looked at Wolfric who said âI think I believe him Merleâ Merle nodded âMe too, heâs ours somehowâ He looked back at Keoki who was still trembling a little. âIâm glad you made it to us. Do you know how she got her hands on our DNA?â
âWould you know how to get back where you came from?â
âYes but she has strong magic. You wont believe me once we go. I didnât make it here last time and the people that found meâ Merle interrupted him âshe isnât fooling anybody anymore. Weâre getting the two other children. We wont leave them to be hurt or leave her to experiment any longer. Technically what shes doing could make a lot of beings happy but the way sheâs doing it sounds cruel. I can tell sheâs hurt you, I believe you, we both believe you Keokiâ
âI just donât want either of you to get hurt.â He looked down. âYou didnât ask for any of this, but I didnât know what else to do, who else to go to.â
Wolfric sat down next to him and rested a hand on his shoulder. âItâs going to be okay.â He looked up at Merle. âMaybe we should call my parents.â
Keoki raised his head. âYou mean Lombard and Fatima?â
âYou know about them?â Merle asked.
âYeah, the woman who made me, she said I was lucky to have their genes. She said it made meâŚspecial.â
âI think youâd be special regardless.â Wolfric replied.
Keoki gave them a small smile. It looked so sad. âThanks.â
âWhy donât you go and call them love while I talk toâŚwell to our son.â Merle suggested.
âAlright.â He gave Keokiâs shoulder a pat then got up, letting Merle take his spot.
âYou donât have to call me your son.â Keoki said. âYou didnât technically have me or anything and Iâm nineteen so, itâs okay.â
âIt doesnât matter. The wolf wouldnât have it any other way. Your ours, no matter the circumstances of your birth.â
Merle could see how much those words meant to Keoki even before he spoke âIâve always wanted something normalâŚto not just be a means to make future experiments successfulâ
âshe wont have you back, I promise.â
âdo you think Iâm a coward for leaving the younger ones?â
âYou did what you had to to make it and theyâll be helped as well. Do you know if they are ours as well Keoki?â
âThe five year old butâŚIâŚI dont want to get your hopes up too high. She hasnât been doing too well. My creator is expecting her to die, she doesnât even teach her anymore. I think itâs because sheâs so frustrated. She used the last bit of DNA she had of you two on that girl. The nine year old is from a couple in another world. My creator is a traveler. Their names are Alvah and Daray. Heâs a straightforward vampire and heâs still doing well. She thinks he might be the second to actually live past ten. Sheâs apparently been doing this an incredibly long time though I donât know precisely how long before I was her first success.â
âdoes sh eonly try with male couples?â
âNo, sheâs taken some female DNA too but those creations tend to not live past four. If she knows why she hasnât said but shes determined to be successful in both arenasâ
âwhats our little girls name?â Keokis expression grew a little more sad again âNomaâ
âwhat does she do with you guys when youâŚâ Merle couldnât say it. He had never met this little girl but his heart still hung heavy thinking she might die before he met her. Keoki gathered what he was asking âsheâll burn her body. She says she cant have people finding out until she has a strong success rate with making childrenâ His voice cracked a little. âweâre just experiments. She doesnât careâ Guilt was starting to overwhelm Keoki âI shouldnât have left them.â
Merle hugged his son âI bet you tried to take them last timeâ
âso you didnât this time in better hopes of making itâ
âwe love you Keoki, for me, donât guilt yourself. Youâre not responsible for how your creator treats you all. You did what you had to to get hereâ Wolfric walked by on the phone, going into the kitchen to continue the meal he had just remembered. He talked to his parents until the meal was ready then rejoined Merle and Keoki in the living room âthey should be here soon. Why donât you come eat Keoki. I was making dinner when you came to the doorâ Keoki stood âthank youâ
~ Back where Keoki came from ~
Mauli angrily handed Nephi his dinner âwait, what about Nomaâ
âLook at her, its a waste of my food at this pointâ
âbut you have to feed her. You donât know sheâs going to die! Please momma!â
âshe hasnât gotten up all dayâ
âbecause shes hurtâ
âshe comes from some of the best dna Iâve ever had. If she was going to live sheâd be up and about by now. Sheâs a failure, maybe Iâd consider feeding her if you little shits hadnât let Keoki run out of here without telling me.â
âsheâs going to die. Its time you accept that. I was still taking care of her to keep Keoki cooperative but hes gone now. Maybe heâll think twice about leaving once I get him back when he learns the consequences. I let him off too easy last timeâ Mauli walked away without another word, the familiar sound of multiple locks following. Nephi walked over to Noma and shook her âwake up Noma, pleaseâ she opened her eyes âwhats upâ
âshare this food with meâ she glanced at the plate âtheres hardly anything there. You eatâ
âNoma, I wont eat anything if you wont share this with meâ
âsheâs probably not going to give you the old portions for awhile. Youâre going to be starving as it is and momma saysâ
âNo, she doesnt just get to decide youâre going to die. I need you to try, pleaseâŚI donât want to be aloneâ he started to sob and it gave Noma the motivation she needed to sit up âokayâŚokay Nephi Iâll eatâ Nephi hugged her and Noma hugged back as best she could. She ate enough to satisfy him, feeling guilty for taking his food since she wasnât sure she was going to make it. She felt tired all the time and she knew what that meant, Mauli said that was the first sign when there were signs she was going to lose one.
When they were done Nephi stood, holding out his hand to her âNephi Iâ
âlets play, lets play anything you can manage. IâŚI cant watch her take you to the burn pile Noma. If she doesnât see you moveâŚâ tears were falling again so she accepted his hand âOkay Nephiâ
âDo you think Keokiâs going to come back this time?â Nephi asked. âI wouldnât blame him if he didnât.â
âHe will, you know he wanted to take us.â She was so exhausted. âHe wonât leave us here.â She gave Nephi her best smile. âMauli said that our parents and grandparents were special, so theyâll definitely save us.â
At Wolfric and Merleâs:
âOh my god.â Fatima said when she saw Keoki. âLombard look at him.â
âMom, dad, this is our son.â Wolfric said. âKeoki, these are your grandparents.â
âItâs nice to meet you.â Keoki said nervously.
âWould it be alright if I hugged you?â Fatima asked.
Fatima wrapped her arms around him and Keoki felt himself start to tear up, but he wouldnât cry, not in front of them. âWeâre so happy to have you.â
âThank you.â Lombard too a turn giving him a hug then they all went to sit down.
âwhat do you guys want to do? We need to handle this quickly if the woman who created Keoki has other children there and is mistreating themâ Lombard said seriously, becoming instantly protective. âhe says he can find his way back if weâre all ready to go. I donât think we should get the law involved just yet. Keoki says she has strong magic to not only cover up what shes doing but to make beings think Keoki is making all this upâ Fatima looked at Keoki âhe is definitely yours and Merles, there is absolutely no denying thatâ
âLast time I hadnât made it to these two yet so there was nobody to compare me to but stillâŚIâm scared Iâ he couldnât shake the worry theyâd just give him back once she worked her spells. âYouâre staying with us, I promiseâ Wolfric assured him. Keoki nodded âwell lets go get Nephi and Nomaâ They were soon all in his grandparents car, Lombard and Fatima in the front seat and him with his dads in the back. His thoughts were now with Noma. He hoped even if she wasnât going to make it sheâd live long enough to know freedom, even if for a few hours. Merle was struggling with how sad keoki looked âwhatâre you thinking aboutâ he asked âNomaâ
âsheâs that bad offâ
âIâm just hoping she will be okay long enough to meet you all. Sheâs at the point of lethargy Iâve never seen her creations get pastâ
âthere has to be some way to help her. This woman is doing all this in the dark without other professionals to help her.â
âI donât think she fears anything more than someone else finding out about her work and getting it right faster than she can. If she told someone they might beat her to all the money this could bring the being who perfects itâ
âJust have faith in your sister Keoki. Have faith in her and this family because we will get her the help she needs, we wont lose herâ Merle said with such surprising confidence. Keoki didnât know how he could think he could promise that. Fatima had a familiar question âso can you become a wolf?â
âNo, she stills considers me a success though. Sheâs hoping to find a way to make me able. She doesnât think customers will buy her creations if they cant do everything true biological children could doâ
âhow does she know an Amarok could have a mixed child with a vampire and zombie and be able to shift. I mean, sometimes mixed breeding doesnât work out as well as others.â
âEven if you never shift Keoki youâre perfect to usâ Merle said and Keoki had to fight off tears again. “Is she a shifter? Lombard asked âI donât think so, she doesnât talk about herself much thoughâ
âif sheâs not a shifter it might be her. Maybe if Merle tried to help you you couldâ
âIâd be happy to try to help youâ Merle said and Keoki answered âokayâ When it was obvious keoki was struggling to stay awake they found a hotel and checked in. He hadnât complained but they knew he had just been through a long journey.
~ Back with Nephi and Noma~
Nephi woke the next day by himself âNomaâ he said softly then got up with a panic. he banged on the door âwhere is she? Please, just tell me shesâ okay. She played yesterday! You had to have seen that!â Maulis voice sounded irritated as she answered over the intercom in their living area âsheâs with me, behaveâ
âis she okayâ
âIâm a little busy, shut your mouth and let me work Nephiâ Nephi walked over to the table and sat down âgood boy Nephi. I won be able to hear you for awhile so donât waste your breath. You caught me just in timeâ
âplease be easy with her. Donât you want her to liveâ Mauli didnât answer and he knew she was probably annoyed but Nephi didnât care. Noma was tried not to cry as she was fitted once again with an all too familiar training collar. âdont be a baby Noma.â Mauli pulled her off the table and walked her out of the room they had been in. âwhatâre we going to do?â
âyouâre going to shiftâ
âBut even Keoki canâtâ
âno he cant but I can push you farther than I can push Keoki since you arenât going to last anyway. Youâll be part of history Noma. Youâll be another break through I need. Once I figure out how my future creations wont have to go through so much misery so not only will you be a part of something magnificent youâll save others pain. It can be the one thing you do for this world, itâll make you not so much of a wasteâ
âI”mâŚIâm not going back to Nephi am Iâ she was crying now âprobably not but hopefully. I donât want you to die Noma. Youâll either shift or youâll die with us tryingâ
âYou could ahve let me say byeâ
âNo because who knows what Nephi may have gotten up to. Besides, even if you die heâll be much easier to control if he thinks youâre alive somewhere and his behavior effects youâ she had never hated Mauli until today. She finally realized how much of a manipulative liar she really was. It scared Noma how little face Mauli was trying to keep right now. It made her feel like she definitely wasnât going to get to go back to Nephi. It made her glad Nephi had forced her to play yesterday because it may have been the last time.
Wolfric and Merle:
âWhat are you thinking love?â Merle asked and Wolfric looked up from their son.
âI just donât understand how someone could do something so terrible. Heâs so sweet and innocent, I just canât wrap my head around it.â
Merle pulled Wolfric into his arms. âI know, but heâs with us now and we will be able to give him, Noma, and Nephi a real life.â
âWe have to find Nephiâs parents too, they should know.â
âWe will, I promise.â
Nephi and Noma:
Noma was so exhausted she couldnât even scream anymore. She just laid there curled in a ball and shaking, trying to block out the sound of Mauliâs angry, disappointed voice. âIf you would just shift, I would stop.â Mauli snapped.
âI canât.â Noma whimpered. âPlease, I canât.â
Nephi paced back and forth in their room. He knew something bad was happening, he could feel it. He went over to the door and pressed his ear against it. He couldnât hear anything even with his superior senses, but he just knew Mauli was torturing Noma. He needed to get out and save her. He knew how Keoki had done it, but he wasnât sure if it would work again.
Wolfric and Merle:
Keoki jerking awake startled both of them into wakefulness and him jumping out of bed and suddenly running for the room door had Merle jumping up and grabbing his sonâs arm. âWhere are you going?â
âSomething happened, something bad.â Keoki said, sounding panicked.
âWhat do you mean?â Wolfric asked.
âWith one of the kids.â
âHow do you know?â
Keoki shook his head. âI donât know, itâs like intuition, I just know.â
âwell all go right now. Please donât try to go anywhere without us. We want to help and we definitely donât want to lose you now that we know you existâ
âsorryâ They were all back in the car in a manner of moments, only stopping now when they had to start going off road. Lombard and Fatima didnât care about ditching their car, like Merle and Wolfric they just cared about finding those kids.
Nephi and Noma:
A strong current from her collar finally woke Noma who sat up with a whine âIâm sorryâ
âeatâ she wanted to argue her stomach felt too bad to eat but she knew Mauli didnât care. She ate slow, wanting the break anyway. Mauli was pacing, obviously thinking. Next thing Noma knew Mauli had brought in an IV âwhats going on now?â
âIâm clearing out your systemâ she whined but didnât say anything. That meant more drugs, more misery. She hoped maybe the clearing of her system would help her feel better. Noma still took her time eating but she had to finish eventually. Once Noma was done Mauli pulled out syringe and injected her before dragging her back into a room and shutting the door. Noma didnât question being alone, she was grateful for it. Soon however Mauli came back with growling wolves âMauli?â
âI told you Noma, youâll shift or die trying. I think you lack the proper motivation, you think and hold onto hope Iâll stop and you can rest. These wolves are going to kill you if you donât shift and fight back. You canât rely on any of your other powers Noma. You wont be able to use them. You have only the wolf to turn to nowâ
âMauliâ Mauli walked out and the wolves began walking toward her. She looked one of them in the eyes, hoping if there was a wolf in there it would help her âPlease, you donât want to be on her side. Please donât hurt meâ She felt a connection but they still looked like they were considering hurting her âPleaseâ her body began to tremble and she felt something rushing through her. She started pleading with herself to shift. Mauli watched on eagerly, desperate to get further with her work.
Noma tried to focus, focus on herself as a wolf like them. Just when she was expecting to be bitten one of the wolves licked her. The other nuzzled her âThank youâ Mauli rushed in, completely outraged âyouâre holding out on me!â
âThey listened to you! You just want me to be a failure donât you Noma! I bet you can shift and youâre just being a little shit. Youâre faking it! I know it! You and Keoki!â
âI promise, I was just trying. I didnât know theyâd listenâ suddenly the wolves were growling again but not at Noma, they were looking at Mauli who somehow looked even madder âwhatâre you doing Nomaâ
âIâm not doing anythingâ suddenly Noma felt the strongest surge she had felt in her life from the collar. She fell to the floor, screaming at the top of her lungs from the pain. Noma didnât know what was happening, she couldnât see or think. The only thing she could sense at all was pain until she felt adrenaline start to pump hard through her. Somehow in this moment she felt more alive than she ever had. She wanted to thank Nephi for never giving up on her, she wanted to see Keoki again one day, she wanted to be free of this place and this horrible woman, she wanted to shift. Next thing she knew she was a wolf and she howled in triumph.
She heard another howl and realized there was only one wolf left. Mauli had killed the one that had licked her face. Noma growled but Mauli just looked at her with wonder âyou finally did itâ Maulis face became smug as she instructed âdonât even think of attacking me little girl. Youâre still wearing that collar and youâre not as big as you think you are.â Noma took another angry step and Mauli pulled out a gun, shooting the other wolf in the shoulder. Noma wasnât sure if she missed or was just aiming to hurt it. âNoma, sitâ the other wolf tried to bite Mauli and with a wave of her hand the wolf was sent flying into a nearby wall, knocked unconscious and bleeding badly.
Wolfric and Merle:
âWe have to hurry.â Keoki said. âIt has to be Noma, sheâs sick and Mauli wonât care to lose her.â
âMerle, you should shift and run ahead, your paws are better for the terrain.â Wolfric said.
âAre you sure?â
âYes, weâll be right behind you.â
âAlright my love.â He came to a stop, quickly stripping down and shifting. Keokiâs eyes widened at the sight of the big wolf. His father was truly amazing.
âCome on, Keoki.â Wolfric said and they followed Merle who was moving quickly over the rough terrain.
Nephi and Noma:
Nephi gripped the edge of the ventilation cover, his fingers hurting as he pulled at it. He knew he could get out, even after Mauli had reinforced it. He had to get out. He had been told his fatherâs were amazing, especially Alvah, he had been told that man was a terrifying force of nature. He gritted his teeth, letting out a growl of frustration. âOpen.â He yelled. âOpen you stupid thing.â He focused every ounce of strength he had on it and was so surprised when it actually bent that he let go and fell to the floor.
He crawled through and pleaded âPlease still be alive Nomaâ Nephi used his senses like heâd been taught to track Noma and Mauli, calling for Maulis attention when he was finally right behind them. Mauli turned with Noma in her arms. She was in human form again and the hell she had been through with their creator was evident all over her body. âwhat did you doâ he was too angry to cry though his heart ached âI did what had to be done, she did it, she shifted but once she became a girl again she was goneâ
âsheâs not deadâ
âshe may as well be but Iâm happy to see your senses are that good. I didnât realize, I thought I could bluff. Iâm so proud of you Nephi. I know how to make my creations shift now. It just has to be their only choice. Because of Noma I wont have to be so cruel againâ
âYouâre a monster Mauliâ
âwhat happened to momma?â
âI hate youâ
âYour negotiation skills need work if sheâs what youâre after Nephiâ
âwhy canât you just try harder.â
âIâve long since learned its a waste of time and resources. Sheâs been dead a long time Nephi. I just accepted it, I donât understand why you and Keoki refuse toâ
âBecause sheâs our sisterâ
âshe isnât yours, sheâs Keokiâs but sheâs never been yours.â
âweâve grown up together. Iâve known her since I was four. I may not be that old butâŚsheâs my sister. I love her Mauli and I donât understand how you can be so indifferentâ
âIâm done with her Nephi and done trying to deal with your attitude. When Keoki gets back you two will learn obedienceâ
It was the first time Nephi felt his rage start to bubble over. After everything that had happened, it was unexpected, but it pushed his fear down. All that matter was Noma, it didnât matter what Mauli did to him, as long as she never touched Nephi again. He was surprised to find his legs carrying him forward, surprised to feel any sort of power moving through him after being so powerless. He wondered if this is what had helped Keoki escape. He knew he wasnât a strong fighter, but he would try and keep faith that Keoki was coming back.
Wolfric & Merle:
The scent Merle had picked up from his son became stronger and he let out a loud howl when the building came into view. He raced toward the front door, picking up speed when he saw it was made of metal. He twisted, letting out a loud grunt when slammed into it, nearly caving it in. He pulled back letting out a loud growl as he slammed into it again. Wolfric, Keoki, Lombard, and Fatima caught up with him and he shifted. Wolfric handed him his pants and he quickly pulled them on.
âHoly shit.â Keoki said as he looked at the damage his father had done to the door. He couldnât believe it.
âHelp me break this thing down.â Merle said and both Lombard and Fatima joined him in pushing at the door. They could feel the magic reinforcing it, but they werenât going to stop until they were inside.
Nephi & Noma:
Nephis fingernails had inexplicably extended into long, sharp points. He hadnât known he could do that so either the rage summoned an ability or it was just something that happened when he got mad. This was the first time he had felt like this so he didnât know. He knew Mauli was way out of his league and could easily get the upper hand so he did the only thing he thought would matter. He tightly held his fingers together and jumped, shoving them as hard as he could into her eyeballs. She dropped Noma as she screeched and Nephi wished he had been quick enough to catch her. She was so barely alive, so obviously frail and clinging to life that the last thing she needed was to slam into the ground like she did.
Nephi picked her up and ran, unsure of what else to do beyond keeping Noma out of Maulis grasp. He was sure the jostling wasnât helping Noma either but this was the only way he could protect her. Maulies eyes would regenerate and sheâd be coming soon. Nephi thought about hiding as he ran âYou idiot, sheâll smell usâ he grew slightly hopeful as a room came into view he knew locked from the inside. She didnât carry keys on her so it might not buy them much of it but it would buy them time. Nephi ran in, shut then locked the door before carefully laying Noma down.
âNomaâ he said emotionally. If she could hear him she made no indication. Nephi decided to hide anyway, willing to do anything that might buy them even one more second. Mauli eyes were already mending as she walked angrily down the hall. Just as her eyes were fully working again she heard the alarm sound, the main door has been forced open. She groaned and with a wave of her hand she looked like a clean, well dressed human woman, would smell like one too. She had carefully crafted this face to be as innocent as possible. She abandoned searching for her rouge vampire and worthless pup for now, she needed to deal with whomever Keoki had brought back to her home.
She checked her pockets, happy to find the vials she had slipped into them the second she knew Keoki was missing. All she had to do was open them and her magic would waft through the air. Keoki would look like a liar yet again and she would be sure this time he wasnât going anywhere. It actually threw her off when she saw the beings he had brought back, how the hell had he figured out where they lived. She just hoped she was stronger than them as she reached into her pocket âdonât you dareâ Merle seethed âdonât I what?â she opened them and Merle chuckled, already knowing what it was âyou really think thats going to work, weâre not going to be open to your suggestions on whats going on here. This is without a doubt my son and Iâm here for the other twoâ
âsir I donât know what heâs told you but he hasnât been on hisâ Merle didnât let her finish and tried to lunge at her but she was quick to counter, shifting right back into her true form âdamn it Iâ she started again but he didnât care nor did he want to waste time. His daughter could be dieing. Every second it took to get to Noma was one less seconds the doctors he trusted could be helping her.
Wolfric & Merle:
Merle jumped at Mauli again, his sharp nails barely missing her and he let out a savage growl when she managed to evade him again. âKeoki, take your father and find the children, your grandparents and I will deal with this one.â
âIs nothing, donât be afraid, take him okay?â
âOkay.â Keoki and Wolfric started the way Mauli had come from and when she tried to stop them, Merle shifted and snapped at her, driving her away from them.
She glared at him. âIâm going to kill all of you and the harvest every last bit of you. You have such perfect DNA Merle, all of you do, if only you understood.â
Keoki could smell blood and his heart hammered in his chest as he followed the scent to one of the rooms Mauli used for experiments. His fear only increased when he saw the two dead wolves and neither Noma or Nephi. They had both been in here, but not anymore. âCome on, they may be hiding Keoki.â Wolfric said as he pulled his son out of the room.
âSheâŚshe could haveâŚâ
âWe have to believe theyâre okay.â
They rushed on, eager when blood droplets lead them to another room, one she barely used but was still all too familiar to Keoki. He tried the door âthey have to be in there. Itâs lockedâ Keoki knocked gently on the door, his voice wouldnât carry through but he knew Nephi would realize such a soft knock wouldnât come from Mauli. Everything she did was demanding even when she was trying to put on a show. The sound initially made Nephi gasp and hold Noma tighter but then he realized it must be Keoki. Just incase he was wrong he left Noma where she was and cautiously approached the door, opening it slowly, relief flooding him when he was Keoki.
Keoki hugged him, relieved he was safe âwhereâs Noma?â Keoki asked with pain in his voice. Nephi moved to allow them in then pointed to where he had left her. Keoki went over, knowing he should rather than Wolfric. Keoki carefully picked her up and once Wolfric could really see her his heart trembled with emotion âwhat happened?â He asked in disbelief as he took in his little girl. Nephi wiped at his face âI donât know but whatever Mauli put her through she shifted. I mean I didnât see her shift but Mauli says she did. Sheâs ready to burn her, Noma gave her what she wanted so sheâs ready to throw her awayâŚShe tried to tell me she was already dead but she isnâtâŚI can hear itâŚonly a little but her hearts beatingâ
âcan I hold her Keoki?â Wolfric asked, trying not to cry too hard. She was so little, how could anybody leave her looking like that. Nephi looked a little concerned and Keoki assured him âthis is one of my dads. They want to help her. They wont let anybody hurt us again. We need to trust them Nephi. Noma doesnât stand a chance of growing up without themâ Nephi nodded and Keoki carefully handed her over. âshould we wait here for Merle dad?â Keoki asked and Wolfric shook his head âweâre getting Noma out of here. Once Merle sees we have her heâll subdue Mauli and weâll leave, if he hasnât subdued her alreadyâ
Wolfric had Mauli cornered. Lombard was guarding the exit and Fatima had her gun drawn and was ready to shoot in case she even thought of heading back down the hall. Merle stalked slowly towards her, teeth bared. âGive up.â Fatima said. âYou canât force us to forget, especially Merle, the wolf wonât let him, so just give up or we will kill you.â
âWhy canât you understand? Iâve given them children, Iâve done something no one else has done.â
âIt doesnât matter if youâve cured some deadly disease, murdering innocent children is wrong.â
Merle growled as he jumped on her and he clamped down on her arm as she brought it up to defend herself, angrily shaking his head and ripping her skin open so blood splattered all over the place. She pulled her hand away and his mouth was at her throat, his teeth pressing threateningly. It was a warning for her not to move or he would kill her. He could hear and smell Wolfric coming back and Fatima looked over her shoulder as her son came out cradling a small, beaten little girl.
âWe have her baby, you just get them out of here.â She said.
âWhat are you going to do with all of herâŚresearch?â Keoki asked.
âTurn it over to someone who will actually use it for good.â
Keoki nodded and Lombard gave him the keys to the car. âGet her to the hospital, weâll call Rick for transportation.â
âYou guys be careful.â Wolfric said. âIâll see you at the hospital
It felt like an eternity to get back to their vehicle. Wolfric and the boys were terrified sheâd quit clinging to life before they got her somewhere. When they finally arrived at the car Wolfric had Keoki get in the passenger seat then handed him Noma. Nephi had settled in the back and they were on the road again as quickly as possible. âfor future reference son do you know how to drive?â
âshe taught me but you know the outside world better than I do so Iâm glad youâre drivingâ It comforted Keoki how distressed Wolfric looked over Nomas state. It gave him more confidence his parents really did care about them and would let them live a real life. He hugged Noma to him as he hoped she would be a part of that life. âyouâre so close Noma. Hang onâ he whispered to her. Wolfric would have loved to take Noma back home but they were too many hours away, it was too risky so they drove to the nearest hospital. Once she was stable they could get picky about who was taking care of her.
They parked and rushed inside, Keoki holding tight to Noma while Wolfric hastily filled the woman at the desk in about the situation. There was a lot of beings there waiting to be seen but Noma was taken back quickly, Wolfric, Nephi and Keoki following since Wolfric had already told her theyâd be coming. He knew Keoki and Nephi wouldnât have been able to handle letting strangers take her out of sight. He thought a lot of the fact they were able to trust anybody at all just based on what little he knew about them and their life.
The medical staff wanted to see if Keoki and Noma were truly Wolfrics since the story sounded so crazy. Even in todays world it was a bit mind blowing to think that you might not need two genders to create a baby. They drew blood from Wolfric and the kids, telling him theyâd give him an answer for sure as soon as they could. âI know you two are ours Keokiâ He looked over at Nephi âMerle and I are going to find your parents but youâre welcome with us and even if you do end up being with them weâll make sure you see Noma and Keokiâ
âHowâre you going to find them. I know for a fact they arenât in this worldâ
âIâm sure somewhere in that building we took you from thereâs information about whereâ
âdo youâŚdo you think theyâll want meâŚâ
âYes, Merle and I are overjoyed. I canât even imagine them not wanting youâ
Merle moved back and let Lombard haul Mauli to her feet when Rick finally arrived. He had a shotgun slung over his shoulder and gave Fatima a smile. âWell dang, I missed a party.â
âDid you bring the big truck?â
âYes maâam.â He pulled a set of cuffs of his belt and some very special restraints.” He tossed them to her and Fatima locked them around Mauliâs wrists. âI couldnât get it all the way up here, but itâs close enough.â
âThatâs fine.â Fatima patted Mauli down, pulling out a set of keys.
âMust be to her research.â Lombard said.
âWeâll send people back, letâs just get her locked up so we can check on the kids.â
When Merle, Lombard and Fatima were done handling Mauli they went straight to the hospital Wolfric had told them he was at with her. They found Keoki alone with her and Noma still barely holding on to life. She had been cleaned up and bandaged so she looked better but her heartbeat was still so faint. While Merle asked Keoki where Wolfric was Fatima couldnât resist walking over to their new grandchild and gently caressing her face âWolfric is getting Nephi something to eat. Apparently when he woke Mauli already had taken Noma away and whatever she was doing with her caused her to not think about feeding Nephi todayâ
âyou poor babiesâ Fatima was still looking at Noma. Lombard asked âwhatâre they saying about Noma?â
âNot a lot yet beyond but they did confirm our DNA is from Merle and Wolfric. I mean they confirmed hisâ
âI know youâre both mine without any tests done hereâ
âThats what Wolfric said but he humored themâ
âHowâs Nephi doing, emotionally, do you know?â Fatima was now looking at Keoki âI think heâs going to be okay. Wolfric assured him that even if he ends up living with his parents that heâll still see usâ
âOf course, you all have to feel like siblingsâ
âyeahâ Fatima walked over and hugged Keoki who was slow to hug back but he did. He had just been surprised. âyou looked like you needed itâ
âI just wish sheâd wake up. Iâve seen her creations just shut down too many times andâŚI just love Noma so much and it will be especially cruel if she dies now, before she knows she was freed from Mauliâ
When Wolfric finally returned, Merle immediately pulled him into a tight hug. Wolfric let out a sigh and relaxed into his mate. âIâm so glad youâre all safe.â He pulled back. âDid you get her locked up?â
âYeah, the kids are safe and sheâll never hurt anyone again.â
âThank goodness.â They went over and stood next to the bed. âSheâs so weak, she has to make it Merle.â
âShe will, Iâll spend every last penny I have before I let her slip away. Sheâs our baby,â he reached over and rested his hand on Keokiâs shoulder, âyou both are.â
âWhen do you think we could go look for my parents?â Nephi asked.
âWhen youâre ready.â Wolfric answered.
âWeâre going to have someone go through all of Mauliâs research and see if they can find their exact location.â Fatima added.
Noma was completely healed of her wounds two days later and the doctors there decided she could now be flown to any hospital Wolfric and Merle wanted so they had her moved close to their home. It was there Merle got into contact with the professionals he wanted working with Noma. He was willing to pay for anything to have her cared for and looked at by the best so whatever they wanted of him, weather it be an expensive hotel to stay at our ridiculous amounts of money he paid it and got her set up. They waited another seventeen days for one of her doctors to enter with a means of waking her up. âMerle, Wolfric, I canât promise this will do what Iâm hoping it will but Iâm very very sure. As sure as someone can be working in uncharted waters. I just need your permission to tryâ he had the needle ready and as much as it scared them they allowed him to inject her. They watched eagerly and their hearts sank again when she still laid there.
It was a few hours later when she opened her eyes, first seeing Lombard who had come to visit again. She gasped and moved her head to look for Nephi or Keoki. They were there, Wolfric had gotten them from home just incase the doctors idea had worked. Nephi hurried over to her, climbing up on her bed âitâs okay Noma. Keoki found your family.â he pointed at Lombard âthatâs your grandpaâ he then showed her Fatima and then her parents. She seemed more taken in by Wolfric at first who just smiled gently at her. âhe does look a lot like Keoki huh?â Nephi said and Noma nodded âso you know he found the right guys. This family loves you, us. Weâre going to be safe now. You donât have to be scaredâ
She lifted her hand âwhats this?â
âitsâ something theyâve been using to keep you healthy. Itâs an IVâ
âI donât like how it feels in my handâ
âwell maybe they can take it out nowâ she looked over at Merle who was already moving to the door. The same doctor came back âIâm so happy to see you awake Noma. You have really pretty green eyesâ
âdoes she still need this?â Nephi pointed to the IV âI think we can do without it as long as sheâs awakeâ
âdoes this mean she can be home with us now?â Wolfric asked and the doctor said âIâd feel more comfortable with her being here atleast through tomorrow. Then she can go home but weâll still need to see her. I more treated a symptom, not the cause. Weâre still reading through all of Maulis research and coming to understand Keoki, Nephi and Nomas bodies. I need time to figure out why some shut down while others, like Nephi and Keoki thrive.â
âWe understand, thank you.â
Wolfric turned back to Noma. âIâm sorry you have to go through more treatments, but know we only want you better.â
âI know, thank you.â She snuggled into Nephi, her eyes filling with tears. âNephi, weâre free, weâre really free and they want us.â
âOh baby, of course we do.â Wolfric couldnât help but move to sit by her and Merle stood at his side, his hands resting gently on his shoulders. Wolfric took her hand and she squeezed it.
âYouâre all going to have a real life now.â Merle said.
Noma spent the rest of that day and the next in the hospital and everyone was happy that her color and energy had improved. They made sure to make another appointment for her and promised to make note of any changes in her. Wolfric and Merle got the kids moved in and Fatima and Lombard volunteered to locate Nephiâs parents for him so Wolfric and Merle wouldnât have to leave them.
Their first night at home Wolfric woke in the night to find Merle gone. Wolfric got up and quietly walking to Nomas room, guessing he was there. Sure enough he was standing outside the door of her room. Wolfric smiled at him and Merle moved to hug Wolfric âIâm just a little worried about herâ
âsheâs going to be okay, you were more sure of that than me when we were searching for herâ
âI know, I just needed to check on her. I need the doctors to tell me I donât have to worry about her anymoreâ
âLove is an amazing thing Merle. Maybe all she needed was parents who love her. Sheâll be okayâ Merle held Wolfric a little tighter then kissed his head âwell lets get back to bed so we arenât tired when they wake upâ
~ The End
She hobbled as she ran but she went as fast as she could away from her attackers. As far as she knew she had killed them but she couldnât be sure enough not to run. Two human men had tried to rape her, probably thinking she was a human woman since only her ears would give away she was an elf. It had still been difficult to get away, they had been so crazed and hungry to take her. She wondered while she ran if they had been on some type of drugs. Thunder crashed and rain poured, making it hard to know where she was going but she kept on until she saw a castle. She ran to the door, desperate for help.
Aurelia pounded and begged for help despite knowing the loud storm outside probably hid her wails. She choked on blood that was begging to pool in her mouth, her vision growing faint just as the door opened. She couldnât make the being out at all but she could have sworn she heard the girl exclaim âmom!?â Rees Practically knocked over the table as he got up to rush to the door. His dates heart stuttered, it couldnât be, his mate was dead, had been dead for a few hundred years. Brynmor has come running too, having heard his sister Pretoria yell.
He had already picked Aurelia off the ground when his father arrived at the door âItâsâŚâ he looked like he might cry âItâs obviously not actually mom dad but we need to help her. Sheâs hurt really badâ Brynmor took her to the nearest bed while Pretoria grabbed a few things. Rees and even his date began helping her and a few hours later they knew she was going to make it through her injuries. It was then the woman that had been with Rees pulled him out the room and said âThatâs your wifes reincarnation. She looks just like her and I may have just been her friend but even I can feel that that IS Ameliaâ Emotion played through his eyes âI know, I knew from the second I saw her in my sons armsâ
She crossed her arms, not knowing what to do with them âItâs okay Rees, thats your soulmate in thereâŚeven before she showed up tonight I knew we were not that serious. I mean weâve been dating a few years and I stay a night at most with you three. I mean, you were sweet and I when we began dating by taking down the family pictures with her in it and putting them in the basement but I know about that one in your nightstand. Iâve caught you staring at it with tears running down your face many times. Sheâs your soulmate, not me and Iâm going to bow out gracefully okay. You two were so happy together, you had the kind of happiness you can only have with a soulmate and maybe this frees me back up to find mine.â
Rees hugged her âIâm sorryâ
âItâs okay, I hurt right now but Iâll be fine. Even if we had been anything near serious I would have bowed out tonight. I always wanted what you two had. You need to focus on her, you need to help her remember you or atleast get her to fall in love again. Sheâs an elf this time, she wont have that intuition that tells some beings your soulmates but her soul has already found you once. Itâll know, even if its deep down, some part of her will know you guysâ As she left Rees cried but not over the ex that was leaving It was over how emotionally charged he was and grateful to the universe it saw fit to give Amelia back to him.
Aurelia woke slowly, her body thrumming with pain as she blinked her eyes open. She could feel she was laying in a bed in a dimly lit room, that she was covered and warm. It took a moment for her ears to focus, but when they did, she picked up the sound of soft, rhythmic breathing. She wasnât alone. She turned her head, groaning as she did and it woke the person sitting in the chair next to the bed. âYouâre awake.â He said as he moved to sit next to her, his hand taking hers gently. She watched a myriad of emotions play across his face; sadness and joy, but mostly relief.
âWhere am I?â She asked softly.
âIn my home.â He let his fingers brush over her forehead, pushing some strands of her hair back. She felt herself warm at his tenderness and wondered if it was because he seemed to be the exact opposite of her attackers.
âYou heard me.â She felt herself tearing up and he gently shushed her.
âMy daughter did.â
âThank goodness, I was so scared.â
Rees started to pull his hand away, wondering if him touching her was making everything worse, but she actually held onto him. âYouâre safe here, I promise.â
She felt safe here, especially now that she was holding his hand in return. It was odd to her since she didnât really know these beings but she felt in her heart she truly was safe as long as she was here in this castle. Reesâs heart was racing and it made him grateful she had come back as an elf. If she could sense how she effected him it would probably be scary, especially after being attacked since she had no idea she was a reincarnation. It was near impossible to resist the urge to lean down and kiss her but he fought it, telling himself he had one chance to do this right. If he scared her and she ran out of his castle he may never find her again. Elves were smart and incredibly resourceful. If she decided she wanted to hide from him she just might be successful at that. She was smart in her past life too and he wondered if that had effected what the gods chose for her to be in this life.
When she let him go he forced himself to pull his hand away, she probably needed to eat anyway. âI can make you a salad if youâre hungry. You were in rough shape and will still need to rest a day or two more. I think it would be smart to take it easy on your stomachâ
âThat sounds really nice. Thank you so much. Thank you for helping me. I promise, Iâll figure out something to do to thank you when Iâm betterâ He stood âIâm going to call my daughter to sit in here while Iâm gone.â he couldnât risk her being alone so injured, he couldnât lose her again. His heart barely made it through the first time. If they didnât have two children he probably wouldnât have. He had muddled through his pain for them, knowing sheâd have wanted him to.
When Pretoria entered the room Aurelia was sitting up causing Pretoria to gasp âyou should be laying down, your injuriesâ she seemed embarrassed âI just wanted less work for you when you came in hereâŚIâŚwell I have to pee and I wanted to ask you instead of one of the men here. I could barely force myself to run when I got here. Iâm not sure how well Iâm going to be able to walkâ
âJust let me help you up next time okay. Youâre no trouble, Iâm a vampire. I can lift you and much more without struggleâ Elves didnât tend to hold any racial grudges so Pretoria felt it was safe to let her mother know what they were, even if she couldnât quite tell her yet she used to be a vampire. Pretoria helped her mother to the nearest bathroom âthere wouldnât be any shame in it if you wanted me to come in with youâ
âI donât think I could go with anybody in thereâ
âalright then, Iâll be right outside the doorâ She couldnât believe what good vampires she had stumbled upon. This woman had looked near panicked for a total stranger when she went in the room and her deep worry right now was obvious on her face. Aurelia went into the bathroom and shut the door. She realized it was a good choice to ask for help because she felt even more pain now than when she was laying down. It was hard not to make any sounds indicating how much she hurt but she managed, not wanting the female vampire to burst in here to help her. When she came out Pretoria looked just about as relieved as the male vampire had when she woke up.
Once back in bed she decided to ask your names âwhatâs your name?â
âThats so beautifulâ
âMy mother picked it, it was her absolute favorite girls nameâ
âI think itâs mine tooâ Pretoria grinned with both amusement and sadness. âMy fathers name is Rees and my brothers name is Brynmorâ she felt emotion tug at her heart. She was about to speak again but a massive headache cut her off âare you okay?â
âMy headâ Pretorias mind was going a million miles a second with panic but she hoped maybe her soul was trying to tell her something, to remind her of who she once was. She had picked the name for her brother too. He was named after one of her mothers Uncles. He had raised her and died a few years before Brynmor was born so she had wanted to honor her Uncle by naming her son after him.
âHow is she?â Brynmor asked his father as he helped him chop vegetables.
âGood, I think.â
âIs it really her?â Brynmor was hopeful that this wasnât some fluke.
Rees nodded. âYeah, it really is, I can feel it. Even if she didnât look like her, I would know, itâs your mother.â
Brynmor swallowed and Rees put his knife down to hug his son. âIâm sorry, itâs just, sheâs really back.â
âItâs okay, I feel the same.â He let him go and patted his shoulder. âWe have to remember to be patient with her and give her time.â
âI know.â Rees wanted desperately for her to remember, but he knew he couldnât push her to hard to fast or she might run. They put everything is a big bowl then he made one for Aurelia while Brynmor covered the bowl and put it away.
When he returned to the room Rees could see Aurelia was in pain âwhat happened?â
âwe were just talking, I think shes okayâ
âIâll be fine, its getting better. My head just really hurt for a momentâ
âmaybe we need someone more skilled at medical care to come hereâ
âNo, please donât do that. I couldnât put you all through more trouble. It passed, Iâm alrightâ They were talking, Rees too thought that pain might be her soul trying to tell her brain something so he didnât push it further. Brynmor came in a few moments after his father, just wanting to see her âHey. Brynmor right?â Aurelia asked, setting her fork down âyeah, umâŚwhatâs your name?â
âwhere did you come from?â Now he just wanted to hear her voice. It was slightly different but it was still his mothers voice. âson, sheâs recovering. We need to let her eatâ Rees said, trying not to sound too stern and make her uncomfortable.
âOhâŚIâm sorry, yeah, Iâm being rude sorryâ he walked out too quickly for her to stop him. Aurelia looked at Rees âhe was alrightâ
âYou really should finish eating. Iâll go get him back when youâre doneâ Pretoria said. Aurelia picked her fork back up and finished her salad. Just as she said she would Pretoria took the dishâs, promising sheâd get her brother as soon as they were in the sink. Meanwhile, Aurelia laid back down. âso whose room is this? Iâm not taking one of theirs am I?â she asked Rees.
âNo, this room actually hasnât been used in an incredibly long time. The kids motherâŚwellâŚshe was very close to her an Uncle of hers. She even named our son after him which was fine with me. I didnât care what we called our children and the names she picked meant a lot to her. He would come to see us so much we gave him his own room, which is this one. We didnât put anybody else in it after he died, youâre the firstâ
She was curious about the kids mother. The way he said was had so much pain in it so she knew she had passed, not left. She wouldnât hurt him by asking, it would be selfish. âwhat made her so close to him? What was he like?â
âHe raised her. Ameliaâs father didnât treat her very well. When Brynmor realized she was being abused he took her in and told her father if he so much as looked at you everâ He noticed her weird expression and he realized he had said you âsorry, I meant her obviously. Iâm tiredâ
âOh my gosh yeah, you were sleeping when I woke. Iâm sorry, we can talk later. Go to bed. Your son wanted to talk to me anywayâ
âNo, I feel so bad keeping you all upâŚyouâve done so much for meâ The thought of leaving her side mangled in his heart âIâll go to bed when Pretoria fetches my son.â
âare you sure?â
âyesâŚanywayâŚhe told Amelias father heâd kill him if he looked at her again. He let her mother see her from time to time but when she finally left Amelias father she quit coming to see Amelia too. She was only seven when her mother completely left her life so Amelia didnât remember muchâ
âThat was really sweet of her Uncle, to protect herâ
âHe was a good vampire. I wouldnât say he had lived a perfect life, before raising Amelia anyway but he had a good heartâ
âdifferent creatures have their own struggles.â Pretoria and Brymor entered the room and Rees stood, leaving as he said he would. Brynmor sat on the bed and Pretoria took the chair. âso, where are you fromâ
âMy parents are nomads, Iâm not really from anywhere.â
âwhy werenât they with you when you were attacked?â
“well, you might think Iâm crazy but one morning, a few years ago I woke up before my parents and saw a couple standing beside me. I jumped up and was about to yell but the woman shushed me. I donât know, she looked so kind I just stood up, deciding not to wake my parents. She touched my heart, well, my chest above where it is and said âyou need to listen to your heart sweetheart. You should go, see where it leads you. Itâs been trying to take you somwhere a very long time but your parents always get you offtrack. Leave your parents and follow your heart. Youâll be so happy you didâ
She sighed âI donât know, my heart raced and all of me was ready to go. I know itâs nuts, they were two complete strangers but I felt like I had been ignoring my heart as soon as she said that to me. I made my parents breakfast then while they ate I told them I needed to have my own adventure for awhile. They werenât for it at first, especially my dad. He was so worried about me traveling alone but they eventually saw I needed to do thisâŚyou know, because two strangers told me toâ she sighed âand look where it got me, hurt and bothering you kind people. I was probably being dumb but Iâve had a great adventure coming here.â
âThat doesnât sound dumb at all.â Brynmor said. âThey always say the heart wants what the heart wants.â
âBrynmorâs right.â Pretoria said with a warm smile.
Aurelia smiled back. âI guess youâre right. Iâm just sorry we had to meet like this.â
âWeâre just glad youâre alright and as soon as youâre feeling up to it, Iâm sure our father would love to show you around.â
âIâd really like that, thank you.â
They continued to talk to her for awhile longer, doing their best not to give away who she was. They told her a couple more stories from their childhood then decided she needed to rest. She had been through a lot and they didnât want to exhaust her. They both jumped a little when Rees opened his door and he called them over. âHow is she?â He asked.
âYouâre supposed to be sleeping dad and sheâs good.â Pretoria answered.
âI know, but I wanted to talk to both of you first. Brynmor, tomorrow you and I are going out to try and find the men who did that to her. I want to make sure they canât attack anyone else.â He then looked to Pretoria. âI want you to spend time with your mother,â he sighed, âwith Aurelia I mean.â They both nodded. âYou two get some rest, okay?â
âYou too dad.â Brynmor said.
Rees was eager to get out and start hunting the men that hurt Aurelia so he barely waited for the sun to come up before waking his son. Brynmor didnât have to be urged awake long before he was up and ready to go out with his father. Rees was an incredibly old vampire but he had long since went through grueling trial and error to make his body able to roam around in sunlight. Amelia had been able to do it and loved being out during the day so they hadnât been together long before he wanted to be able to do the same thing. He wasnât sure what happened but evolution seemed to still be taking place since the younger vampires were almost all born able to be in the sun.
âI think itâs important after what you did to the group that killed mom in her past life to ask what we intend to do with them? I mean I want to scare these guys butâŚyou may have taken things a little too far in the past dadâ
âI wont be burning any homes or anything like that. Even I know I went too far, had too many casualties of my anger. I turned into a monster when I lost your motherâŚIâm just glad Pretoria talked sense into me. I was still a father and I needed to get a hold of myself. I havenât lost your mother this time so no, I wont be be turning back into that monster I regret you and Pretoria sawâŚIâm more thankful than ever she got me to stopâŚgoing down that path I would have ended up with every vampire hunter in existence after meâŚI may have died too then I wouldnât still be here for your mothers rebirth.â
Brynmor made a face and his father sighed âdonât you think for a second Iâm also not still around because of you two. Now that sheâs back I know it wont alarm you to say this but you and Pretoria are the only reasons I raged instead of killing myself. I need you three, I mean itâ Brynmor decided to tell his father what Aurelia had told them about her journey here then added âI think sheâll stay too. Her soul remembers enough it guided her back to usâ
It was the smell of blood that brought them to where one of the men lay dead. This is where it had happened. They could smell Aureliaâs scent all over and around him. âShe killed him.â Brynmor said.
âThe other left him to die.â Rees replied as he followed more drops of blood into the forest. âHe was wounded though, your mother made sure of that.â
âWhat should we do with this one?â
âLeave him, after what he did, just leave him. I want to find the other one.â
âAlright.â They continued on, leaving the first manâs body for the animals and the earth.
âAurelia?â Pretoria said softly as she opened her motherâs door.
âHmm?â Aurelia jerked away, disoriented and confused for a moment until she remembered where she was. She let her eyes move to Pretoria and for a moment, seeing the young womanâs smiling face, had her heart aching.
âSorry, I just thought maybe you were hungry.â Pretoria said as she nudged the door all the way open and stepped in with a breakfast tray.
âOh, sure.â She started pushing herself up and Pretoria quickly sat the tray on top of the chest of drawers and went over to help her. âThank you.â
âIâm happy to helpâ
âIâm feeling better this morningâ
âThatâs good to hear, please eat. I know it will help you even moreâ Aurelia slowly ate her breakfast, enjoying it. âHave you already eaten?â
âHopefully it doesnât make you uncomfortable but I had blood this morning so Iâll be fine for awhileâ
âanimal or do you have someone to feed off of?â
âa friend of mine allows me to feed on him from time to time but I had animal this morning. Just to put it out there since some of our kind makes it so it has to be said but my father, brother and I donât feed on anybody unwillinglyâ
âI wasnât worriedâŚIâm so thankful for you three. I would have died if not for you. Jeez if you wanted blood it would be the least I could doâ Pretoria smiled âwe truly expect nothing in return but getting to know you. You seem so interesting. Once youâre better are you going to stay a bitâ
âIf Iâm welcome, your father would like me here?â
âHe wants to get to know you tooâ
âwhere is he nowâ she felt this tug on her heart, like she needed to know. âHeâs out making sure those men that hurt you are really dead or not going to do such a thing againâ
âThey were so crazed, especially for human men.â
âwell my father and brother will see to it no other woman has to worry about them.â Aurelia finished her breakfast and Pretoria took her plate. When Pretoria came back she asked âwhy did you pick your tattoos?â
âI adore bees and I just thought it would be pretty to have the flowers going up my sides.â
âI didnât get a good look at the flowers but I love the beeâ
âwell there arenât any men here if youâd like to see themâ Pretoria helped Aurelia with her shirt âwow, they are really pretty. You must have paid a lot to have them doneâ
âI didnât pay with anything but my time. This particular tattoo artist needed help with his children. You see as I was wandering I ended up staying in this town awhile just because I thought it was beautiful. I became friends with him and learned, like your father, he was raising kids on his own. He wanted to go study under an artist a few towns away but he couldnât take his children. He asked me to watch over them and that heâd pay me whatever I wanted when he returned. He also had more than enough money in his basement for me to take care of them so it truly only took my time. They were sweet girls. When he returned I asked he put that skill to work and give me flowers up my sides. I hung around a few more weeks then went on my wayâ
âwhatâs his name, I might want some one day. Iâve never thought about tattoos before but these are so pretty. It was well worth it for him to go study with someoneâ
âyeah, his name is Jolduc Khiz. His girls, should they still be at home when you go are Esmeralda and Primâ
âcute, did he tell you why he was alone?â
âshe left him and the girls for another man.â
âyeah, the biggest shame about it is she doesnt want to see her girlsâŚI donât have children so maybe I cant judge but how can anybody just leave their childrenâ
âI know my mom would have never left us if she hadnât been taken awayâ
âwould it hurt too much to tell me what happened to her Pretoria?â Pretoria took a long breath in then let it go, looking uncomfortable. âIâm sorry, that was so rudeâ
âNo, no its fine. Itâs just still hard to talk about it. Youâd think time would make it easier butâŚâ There was a long, sorrow filled pause from Pretoria before she began her story âWe were all always together besides my moms walks. She had been taking long walks alone since she was little. She needed that peaceful time to herself. I mean we would all go sometimes but every now and then she still wanted to go alone. It would always be a few hours but that day she had left right after breakfast and we still hadnât seen her after lunch. Dad got worried, he told us to stay incase she came back but he was going to look for her for awhile.â
Pretoria tried to discreetly brush a tear away âthen dad didnât come home so Brynmor and I leftâŚI wish we hadnâtâ Pretoria couldnât talk anymore as she could once again envision her dead mother”
âIâm so sorry, you donât have to tell meâ Pretoria clung to Aurelia, happy that they had atleast saved her in this life. She was back and she knew her dad would probably never let her out of at least one of their sights ever again if he could help it. âTheres this particularly nasty group of vampire hunters that arenât just happy with killing vampires. They often humiliate and torture them. We donât know what she went through but by the time we had went looking for her she was cut up. They had hung her body parts from different treesâ
âOh jesusâŚwhere was your fatherâ
âHe was on a murder spree. My dad, as most of the original vampires, have states similar to demons where they lose their mind to rage. Every man that had touched my mother died and sadly, so did their families. It was all Brynmor and I could do to get him back to normalâŚhe did a lot of things I know he regretsâ Pretoria could see a bit of concern on Aurelias face âdonât worry, only the men that hurt you will answer to my father today, Youâre alive and I think it was pure grief and sorrow that drove him into that stateâŚhe did and still does love my mother immensely. They were together thousands of years and they were a pretty sweet couple. I donât think Iâve ever seen two beings near that happy with eachotherâ
The man panicked the moment he looked over his shoulder and spotted Rees and Brynmor. Both of them could see and smell it and Rees directed Brynmor forward. His son put on a burst of speed that had him suddenly standing in front of the man and as he skidded to a halt, Rees grabbed him from behind and slammed him to the ground. âPlease.â He screamed. âPlease, please, Iâm sorry.â He was covering his head and crying his entire body shaking.
âDo you have any idea what youâve done?â Rees snapped.
âNo, please, I just woke up andâŚand Eli wasâŚhe was and I was covered in blood. Please, Iâm sorry.â
âDad?â Brynmor grabbed his shoulder. âI donât think heâs lying.â
Rees let out a sigh as he pulled the man up. âLook at me.â He ordered and the man forced himself to look into Reesâs eyes. âWhatâs the last thing you remember?â
âIâŚweâŚâ he swallowed. âWalking through the woods with Eli, weâŚwe took a shortcut and thenâŚnothing. EliâŚdid I kill him?â
Rees stood in thoughtful silence for a moment before saying âmy wife killed your friend. You two tried to rape her. Maybe you walked into an enchantment and didnât realize or any number of things but I can tell you arenât lieing. Youâre going to take me to the last spot you rememberâ
âwhat if something happens againâ
âMy son and I would never fall into something like that. Iâve trained him well and only the smart live as long as I haveâ
âIâmâŚIâm sorry for what we did to herâŚnormally weâre nothing like thatâ
âyou two didnât get anywhere with her. Sheâs toughâ Rees let the human man go âshow meâ
âIâmâŚIâm hurt badly too. Could I get tended to first?â
âso you can tell the other humans vampires are bullying you?â
âNo, no I swearâŚwe obviously hurt someone you loveâŚI wont try anything funnyâŚI justâŚIâ
âdadâ Brynmor said and Rees sighed âMy son will go with you and Iâll wait hereâ He could tell the human wanted to ask why but held his tongue. It suited Rees, telling him honestly why might scare him into not cooperating and he didnât want something else losing its senses and trying to hurt Aurelia or anybody else again. Brynmore wasnât sure why his dad didnât want to go into the humans village. Surely nobody was alive anymore who would remember him.
Rees decided to lay down and think up as many possibilities as he could. He wanted to go home, he wanted to be near Aurelia again. He was so lost in his head it seemed like no time atall had passed when Brynmor returned with the human male. Rees stood, staring the man down until the human moved to show them where to go. He took them to the last point he remembered âthis is it. I hope Iâm remembering rightâŚI cant imagine what would make us dumb enough to mess with a vampire womanâ
âSheâs an elfâ Brynmor said and the man said âIâm sorryâ
âdonât be so scared. Iâm sure sheâll even feel sad for your friend once she learns you two werenât in control. A lot of mistakes were madeâŚweâre just glad she found her way homeâ The man glanced over at Rees who wasnât paying attention to them. He was absorbed in the environment as he careful studied his surroundings.
Rees could see where the two men had passed through and he squatted down, picking up the crushed cap of a mushroom. He sighed as he stood and held it out. âDo you know what this is?â He asked the man.
âNo, Iâve never seen it before.â
âItâs an otrova mushroom.â
âThe spot where you and your friend walked is covered in them. Theyâre an invasive species and incredibly dangerous.â He tossed the broken mushroom. âWhen they feel threatened, they release spores into the air and cause a temporary insanity in anyone who inhales it.â
âWe didnât know.â He dropped his head into his hands. âWe always go out together, we have been since we were kids, but we didnât know.â He swallowed then took a deep breath. âI have to bury Eli, I canât leave him in the woods.â
âI will be able to get rid of these but it will take time. Brynmor, you may help the human while I do thisâ
âHeâŚhe doesnât have toâ The mans voice trembled. Brynmor said âIâd be happy to, we know it wasnât his fault and my mother isnt a murderous monster either just so you know. She was terrified and just trying toâ The man shook his head âI understand, really, I wont go telling anybody anything negative. WeâŚwe tried to rape herâŚI understandâŚIâm not sure what Iâm going to say about his death to his family but I donât blame herâ Brynmor walked away with the human, hoping to get the burial done quickly so he could help his father.
When they were out of earshot the man asked âhow can your father be sure he wont go mad with themâ
âIf he says he knows what heâs doing he knows.â
Rees had to burn them, all while being careful with the rest of the forest. He couldnât risk anyone else happening upon them, not even one. He wanted to take the time to scour the rest of the forest, but he knew that would take ages and he wanted to get back to Aurelia and explain what had happened. He would have Brynmor accompany him of regular trips to scour the woods once everything was settled. He found his anger dissipating as he watched the fire burn out and when he finally caught up with his son and the man, he was calmer than he had been. They had just finished burying Eli and Brynmor was doing his best to comfort him.
âSo what now?â He wiped at his face.
âFirst, can I have your name?â
âOh, itâs Oliver, sorry.â
âItâs fine.â Rees sighed. âI cannot hold what happened against you, Oliver, it wasnât yourâs or Eliâs fault.â
âWhat do I do?â
Rees looked to Brynmor who answered, âCome back with us, talk to the woman you attacked, weâll explain everything.â
âwont I just upset herâŚIâ he didnât know what to add, he seemed to be having an internal struggle so Brnymor spoke again âyou didnât manage to rape her. Sheâs hurt and might be a bit startled when she sees you but I have a feeling that once she knows your side of things sheâd want to see you again anyway to tell you herself not to feel guiltyâ Oliver swallowed âalright, I will come. I still donât know what Iâm going to say to everybody anyway. I donât want to give you three any more problems. Iâve seen in my village before the fact we tried to rape her which caused her reaction will mean littleâ
Rees and Brynmor took Oliver to their home where they found Pretoria and Aurelia in the living room, sitting down and talking. âsheâs doing so much betterâ Pretoria said excitedly but her expression changed when she noticed the man âthat scentâ she said softly. âallow me to explainâ Rees started then explained to them why the men had attacked Aurelia. Aureliaâs eyes dampened âoh myâŚIâm so sorry. I was so scared and you two wouldnât let me get awayâŚI killed him because I felt I had to in the moment. Iâm sorryâ
âI understand, Iâm horrified about what we tried to doâŚthat that could be in me at all, weird mushrooms or notâ
âsome things have great power. The mushrooms turned you two into something you werenât. Donât feel guiltyâ
âIâm just glad youâre okayâ
âI know you donât feel I have anything to make up for but I feel bad about your friend. I owe you, anytime you need something, please come back to us so I can repent for his death. I mean it, I really want toâ
He held up his hands. âPlease donât, no one would ever blame you, truly. You were alone, against two of us, it was justified. Eli wouldnât blame you, he wasnât like that, he was a good man, kind and honest, he would want you to know it wasnât your fault. You didnât know, we didnât know. So please.â
Rees could see how heartbroken Aurelia was for him and he gently placed a hand on Oliverâs shoulder. âHow about you at least come by then, as often as you like, weâll get to know each other and move past this.â
âIâd like that, thank you.â Oliver took a deep breath. âI just donât know what to tell everyone back home.â
âIâll go with you and explain.â Brynmor volunteered. âIâm sure I can hide the fact Iâm a vampire.â
âYou donât have to hide, no one would bother you, they know better than that.â He nodded. âI would appreciate your help, I just donât want them to think Eli was a monster.â
âYou should rest.â Aurelia said. âYou spent all night in the woods and youâre wounded.â She looked to Rees whose heart jumped in his chest. âHe can stay right? He shouldnât travel until heâs better.â
âOf course.â He sat down next to her, gently taking her hand.
He wanted to tell her anything she wanted was his command but he knew how weird that would sound. âdonât scare herâ he thought to himself. âitâs the right thing to doâ He held her hand a few more moments before getting up âlet me show him to a roomâ Rees knew he needed to speak to Oliver about their situation with her. Not only to let him know he had helped guide his mate back to him but so he didnât say something he shouldnt since Brynmor had repeatedly refereed to Aurelia as his mother.
Rees walked the man to a room in another hall then said âthis is where you can stay but we need to talk about something important if youâre going to be interacting with herâ
âsheâs a reincarnationâŚmy wifeâŚAurelia has no idea about her past with us and it shouldnât come from you. If we as a family decide to tell her it should come from usâ
âOhâŚthat must be hardâ
âmaybe if you told her it would help her rememberâŚI mean thereâs things that can be doneâ
âwhat if I scare her, she might not believe me and think me crazyâ
âthat woman in there? Sheâs no coward, she just invited a man who tried to rape her to stay in the same castle as her. I mean, I think sheâd face the possibility head onâ Rees gave him a long look that semi frightened Oliver. He finally said âthanks for the input, will you be needing anything?â
âI just want a bathâ Rees pointed a few rooms away âtheres a bath in there. Iâll tell Brynmor to bring you clothingâ
âThank youâ Rees left the man without another word, pondering what he had said. HIs AmeliaâŚhis Aurelia had never been a coward a moment in her life. Maybe he was over worrying but with something as important as having her in his life again he wasnât sure that was possible. He wanted her back, in any way he could have her and he knew the kids felt the same. If he handled this wrong, if he made the wrong choices heâd be breaking their hearts all over again as well. He had more than just his own heart to consider in all this.
When he came back to the room Aurelia was happily talking with her two kids âHey Reesâ his heart stuttered at the sound of his name coming from her. âHeâs settledâŚwhat did you and my daughter do today?â
âtalked mostly, Iâm eager to be shown around thoughâŚwould you mind doing that tomorrow? She said it would be best if you didâ he smiled gently âif you still feel up to it yesâ
âI want to know everything about this place. Iâve never been in a castle before. How did you build this or did you find it?â
âI built this, most vampires lived in castles in my time. It was the thing to doâ She smiled ‘you do look like a classic” she said it with so much affection it even surprised her. âIâm sorry, was thatâŚweirdâ he nervously chuckled ânever be sorry, I know I havenât updated my styleâŚeverâŚmy wife didnât mind thoughâ
âYou all seem so wonderful, Iâm sure she just felt luckyâ
âI have something to take care ofâ Pretoria said to excuse herself and her brother followed suit, leaving their parents alone. âyou donât have to stay with me if you want to rest or something. Youâve done so much for me. I mean, you were out all this time because of meâ he gently smiled again âI want to get to know you. Thank me by telling me more about your life Aureliaâ
âwhen do you want me to start?â
âYour first memories if you so wishâ
âalrightâŚâ she paused for a time, obviously thinking âmy very first memory is one with my dad. We were just running and laughing, I think maybe we were playing tag. Most of my early memories are of my dad. He was always playing around with me. My moms wonderful too but Iâm extra close with him.â She had been treated well in this life and loved by her parents, he was glad to hear it. She had deserved much better from her birth parents in her past life. âso it wasnât hard growing up as a nomad?â
âI loved every second of itâ
âsoâŚdo you think youâd ever be happy staying in one placeâ she shrugged âI never say never, if the right situation arose Iâm sure I could be happy settling somewhereâ
âwhats your first memory of your mom?â
âWe found this bow and arrow in a shop that was made for little kids. She bought it right there and took me to a practicing arena for it. It was funâ he nearly chuckled âthey sound funâ
âyeah, Iâll have to find them again one day but not soon. I mean. I donât feel like Iâve found what I left them to look forâŚI think I just told Pretoria about this butâ she proceeded to tell him how she came to leave her parents side.
Reesâs heart was skipping in his chest. Someone had sent her to him, he had to believe that. âThatâs amazing, Aurelia, truly.â He sat down next to her. âAurelia IâŚâ he let out a sigh.
âWhat?â She could tell something was troubling him and she couldnât stop herself from taking his hand in hopes of comforting him. âIs everything alright?â
âYes, sorry, itâs just Iâm really happy to have you here. I hope itâs okay to say that, after everything thatâs happened.â
She smiled and his entire being warmed. âIâm happy too.â She said.
âYeah, you and your children have been so sweet, itâs more than I expected.â
He burned to tell her everything, but he couldnât, not yet. He could wait until tomorrow at least. âIâm glad.â He gave her a smile. âWould you like me to get you anything? Food? Something to drink? We could have dinner together or if you havenât eaten.â
âI imagine you must be starving, eating together would be nice. Iâm feeling well enough to come to the kitchen with youâ she could see the concern on his face even before he answered âyou were bleeding internally from fighting those men when you arrivedâ
âand since then you and your children have done an amazing job of taking care of me. I really donât want to keep you in this room. Besides, Iâm dieing to even just see a little more tonightâ
âwellâŚif you start to feel weak, just let me knowâ
âalrightâ She couldnât believe how sweet this vampire and his children were. They were constantly tugging at her heart. Rees helped her out of bed which was cute even though not needed. They walked to his kitchen where she saw they had leftovers from the salad she had been made âa salad is just fine with me againâ
âI can make you something, I donât mind. WeâŚcould even cook togetherâ
âalright, but really let me helpâ Rees pulled out the last of the rabbit they had and decided to make Aurelias favorite soup in her past life. If what some people said were true and you really could make an old soul remember a past life then he wanted to try everything he could to help her soul tell her new mind what it remembered. He began, having her do the easiest steps possible. This would take awhile to cook but he wasnât interested in resting anyway. He had lived without his wife so long, he needed to be with her as much as he could.
âI suppose as a traveler you eat rabbit a lotâ he said, just wanting to hear her speak again. âyeah but I like it. This already seems so good. Where did you learn to make it?â
âMy late wifeâ he said gently âOh, gosh, I end up bringing her up a lot with you three. Iâm sorryâ
âItâs alright, sheâs an incredibly pleasant memory for us allâ
âIt sounded from Pretoria itâs been a long time. Iâm surprised youâre still singleâ he felt uncomfortable with what he was about to say but he wouldnât lie to her âI ended up with someone eventually, a friend of hersâŚit was a bit selfish of me because most of why I was able to with her is she felt like a piece of Amelia. They hungout so muchâŚIâŚI think she always knew but she just wanted affection as I did.â She didnât ask why they parted, she supposed they just both realized they werenât really helping eachother in being together. âwellâŚI hope you find someone you can actually love againâ his smile held so many emotions, mostly sad which made her feel bad so she changed the subject âso um, are you close to your kidsâŚlike do you do a lot together normally?â
âweâre pretty close, itâs why they still live with me even though theyâve been adults a long timeâ
âI wouldnât be here without them, they saved me, even afterâŚI donât deserve them.â
âIâm glad youâre still here, for what thatâs worth. I mean if you werenât, we never would have met.â
Rees smiled. âI feel the same, truly.â
They continued talking, him getting to know more about her life, about her family and about her journey to him. He told her stories about his life, about their life, hoping maybe one of his fondest memories would help spark hers. Aurelia loved the smell of the soup as it boiled and when Rees finally made her a bowl and she took her first bite, she paused at the taste. She felt herself tear up and jumped when Rees touched her shoulder, a look of concern on his face. âSorry.â She said.
âAre you alright?â
âYeah, of course, this is really good.â
âMaybe we should go back to your room.â
âNo, itâs fine, really.â
âAlright, but after, you should rest.â
She nodded, wondering why she suddenly felt so emotional. A lot of her emotional responses were seeming to become odd and she wondered if it was just because of her ordeal before meeting these people. She took another spoon fool and held the flavorful soup in her mouth a few moments, emotion hitting her again. It was like her soul was aching. She swallowed and looked back at Rees, her eyes meeting his for a few long moments âIâm sorryâ she couldnât help but say again, seeing how concerned she was making him. âwhatâre you thinking about?â
ânothing really in particular. I probably do just need more rest after thisâ
âWould it be alright for me to carry you backâŚyouâre worrying meâ
âthat would be really kind, thank you Reesâ something flashed in her mind, of hugging him and thanking him as they sat down at the table with young children, his children. At least they had looked so similar to them she thought it was. She quickly finished her soup and began to wash it âhey, youâre still getting better. Myself or the kids will get thatâ she was so thrown off by everything that had been happening in her mind and emotionally since eating with him she didnât protest âalright, will you take me back to my room thenâ
Rees lifted her into his arms, happy to have her close, however briefly it would be. They were nearly to the room she was staying in when she asked him âdo you have any pictures of your kids when they were children?â
âIâm sure I do, most of what I have are paintings. My late wife loved to have us painted. Youâd like to see?â
âIf I wouldnât be bothering youâ
‘not at all. Iâll go get one after I have you settled in”
âyou canât just take me to itâ he couldnât, they would be with all the pictures that had her in them. âyou need to restâ she did so it wasnât a lie. He tucked her into bed so lovingly, she couldnât resist hugging him. It surprised Rees but his body instantly responded. He had her close once more and demanded himself not to cry. He didnât know what to say about it so he didnât and she didnât say anything more as he walked out the door.It hit him once he was out he never told his son to bring Oliver clothes but knowing his children one of them had checked on the human.
He went to retrieve one of the paintings of his children, promising himself he would check on Oliver before he went to bed. He had been so wrapped up in Aurelia and everything that had happened, that he had been being a bad host. His eyes caught hers when he came back into her room and he couldnât help but pause there for a moment. His heart thumped in his chest when she smiled and he had to force himself to move again. âSorry.â He said as he crossed over to her.
âI shouldnât stare, itâs rude.â
âThen weâre both in trouble.â She teased and he couldnât help but smile.
âI was going to bring one of the bigger ones, but I decided against it. This one though, is one of my favorites.â He sat down next to her and turned the painting so she could see it. He remembered that day very vividly because it had been so hard to get Brynmor to sit still.
She tried not to let her expression change too much as she looked at this painting. She had seen those two as children. Could she have really guessed so accurately? It was weird but maybe that was all it was. Her mind just had shrunk the two down incredibly well. âthey were so adorableâ her eyes grew a little damp but she didnât cry. âYeah, Brynmor would not sit still for this picture. We almost gave upâŚmy wife and I I meanâ
âIâm glad you two got to capture it. Heâs as adorable then as he is handsome now. Pretoria grew up beautiful herself.â
âThey had a gorgeous mother, I guess that helped Brynmor aswell because he certainly didnât get it from me. I just tend to scare people. I think one of the things I loved most about my late wife was that she never feared me for a momentâ He noticed her gaze go from the children to him âI think youâre incredibly handsome Rees,donât call yourself scaryâ she blushed, quickly looking away from him and wondering why she had said that out loud. âUmâŚyou should get rest too Rees. You ran around all that time solving what happened and taking care of Oliver. IâmâŚgetting tiredâ she felt awkward and was a bit overwhelmed with herself and thoughts in general.
âPlease call me if you need anything alrightâ
âI willâ he almost leaned down to kiss her head but managed not to âgoodnight Aureliaâ His voice was so loving and sad. He was such a sweet vampire, she could definitely see how someone could fall in love with him. When he shut the door she looked down at the picture again and whispered to herself âwhat did that couple want me to findâŚcould it beâŚyou three?â she almost felt stupid saying it. Amelia sounded so perfect, she could probably never fill her shoes here. She laid back against the headboard and prayed softly âGods and goddessâs, please help me. If you can, give me some sort of sign. Is this where I was supposed to end up or am I just enamored with this family and want to think my heart was leading me hereâ
She looked at the picture awhile longer then settled down for the night, hoping everyone else slept well. Another violent storm woke her late in the night, just like the one she had found herself in the night she came to this castle. She gasped when she saw a figure in her room but relaxed when she saw the man who had come to her. She looked around and asked âwhere is the woman?â
âHumble is busyâ
âare you a god, is that why youâre here againâ he chuckled âNo but I have a few assisting me now with my workâ
âthats not what Iâm here to explain. You asked for more guidanceâŚwell, get out of bed.â she got up, hoping a head injury didnât have her going insane. Those men had hit her quite a few times. Once they stepped out of the room he held a finger up to his mouth to tell her to keep quite so she did, following him all the way down to the final floor of the castle”why are we here?” she asked in a whisper. He started rumaging and pulled out a painting that made her legs so weak she almost fell âwhaâŚwhatâ
âI think you know what Iâm telling you AureliaâŚor should I sayâŚAmeliaâ
âdonât hyperventilate on me, sit, pleaseâ
âin your past life. You are the wife and mother they keep speaking ofâ
âtheyâŚdo they actually knowâ
âThey felt it, you feel it too, I know you do. That soul of yours was begging to come back. Even I felt it desperate desire to find Rees and your children as my wife and I were passing you by that night. Youâve wanted to run back to him from the moment you were born. Didnât you used to draw a lot of vampire art Aurelia, didnât you always make up games where you lived in a castle and wasnât your very first make believe friend named Reesâ she felt light headed as it all came rushing back. Childhood felt like so long ago but as she stood there she realized his words were true âwhat are youâ
âwhat I am and the gods that help me arenât important right now unless you donât believe youâre Ameliaâ Tears started tumbling down her face âIâŚI think I believe youâ
âGood, Humble, my wife loves a good romance story. I understand yours was particularly beautiful. You two meant the world to eachother and those kids have missed you immensely. You left a hole in their hearts and I think even if we hadnât woken up your soul you would have never felt complete without them. The bond you all had in your previous life was much too strongâ
âwhen she touched meâŚâ
âshe just helped you hearâ
âit really lead me back hereâ
âYou and Rees are meant for one another.â
âwhy didnât they show me thisâ
âI dont think they want to lose you all over again. Not everyone believes souls are reincarnated. You might have thought them crazy even with these pictures. Go to Rees and Iâll return to my Humbleâ
âIâm gratefulâ she wiped her face before continuing âbut you cant cliffhanger me like this. Will you two come back when you have time. I have to know moreâ he chuckled âwell you are an elf this time, your kind is notorious for being hungry for information. Lucky for you Humble loves romances like the one you have with Rees. Iâm sure sheâll lunge at the opportunity to see you two back together. She would have come now but she couldnâtâ
âwhats your name, I dont think youâve told meâ
âJaseâ she had almost forgot about the storm until it scared her âeasy now, hurt yourself again and youâll break three heartsâ Jase said in an amused voice. Aurelia ran up the stairs and Jase smiled, setting the painting back down and used the magic that brought him to return him to Humble. Suddenly Brynmor was infront of her, looking disheveled. âare you okay? I heard running. Did something happen?â he started looking her over for wounds. She hugged him âYouâre my sonâŚI cant believe itâ His heart nearly stopped âMomâŚdo you rememberâ
âNot completely butâŚI saw that picture down stairs andâŚandâŚI dont know I feel its true. Iâm your mom arenât Iâ He held her crushingly tight âmomâ his voice broke a little âEven without you knowing its been so good having you back. Life just hansât been the same without you. You need to see dad.â
âI doâ she was bawling and wished she wasnât. She had always been such an ugly crier and that was the last thing she wanted to be when she made it to his room. Her emotions were just so strong right now she couldnât help it. He was crying too adn that wasnât helping. She felt this was her son and no loving mother wanted to see their son cry. He hugged her one more time âweâll help you remember fully mom and even if you cantâŚIâm just so happy you know. We can make new memoriesâ she nodded and he knocked on the door before leaving her.
Aurelia hastily wiped at her face, praying that she didnât look horrible. He opened the door with confusion and concern on his face âwhats happened? Why are you cryingâ Looking into his eyes she didnât know what words to use so she grabbed his shirt, pulling him down to kiss her.
Rees was surprised by the sudden press of her lips and it took him a moment for his brain to register what was happening. He grabbed her shoulders and gently pushed her back. âAurelia, what are you doing?â He wanted to keep kissing her, to pull her into him and into his bed.
Aurelia held his face in her hands, tears springing back into her eyes. âI know everything, I know why Iâm here.â
His heart stuttered. âWhatâŚwhat are you saying?â
âIâm Amelia, Iâm your wife.â
Rees swallowed, feeling a knot forming in his throat. âYou remember.â
She shook her head. âI saw a picture of her and I know itâs me, I know Iâm your wife, I can feel it, Iâve always felt it, I just didnât know until I was pushed to leave.â She pulled him back down, giving him another kiss. âIâm your wife.â
His tears spilled over and he pulled her tightly against him. âAurelia, Iâve missed you, you have no idea how much Iâve missed you.â
âJust the way you three talk about meâŚI can tell. I canât believe how lucky I am, to not only have had you three before but that I was brought back in this life.â
âI know, I could have never met you again. I wish I could thank who sent you my wayâ
âYou can, I saw one of the beings that told me to follow my heart tonight.â she went through every detail up until this moment âso I think he and Humble are coming backâ
âGoodâŚâ he pulled her into his room and shut the door âeven though you donât have your memoriesâŚyouâll lay with me right?â she smiled as she wiped her face. Aurelia thought it was an adorable question given she had just kissed him âyeah, Id like to cuddle with you tonightâ he made almost a squeaking sound due to how emotional and eager he was to keep her close. The sound and how he held her once they were laying down touched her heart again âyou three are going to keep me crying constantly, in a good wayâ she whispered. He kissed her forehead âas long as they are good tears AureliaâŚI. my heart has ached constantly for you. So has the childrens but theyâve always handled it better than meâ
âwell Iâm here now and I wont leave you guys againâ He held her a little tighter âIt may be too much to ask but please, let at least one of us always be with youâ
âPretoria told me how I diedâŚI think that need from you is understandableâ he felt a little shame at the thought she might know just how insane he became for a few years. He had allowed himself to become a monster when he saw her body parts hanging from the trees and he wished he could go back and handle things more like she would have wanted him to. âdid you make me that soup because it was my favorite?â
âI was trying to help you rememberâ
âIt did stir something in me, as you heard from my storyâ
âis there anything you want me to tell you about Aureliaâ his voice was so emotional âYou can just hold me for tonight. It sounds like you need itâ He gave her a long kiss to the head âthank youâŚIâve missed this so muchâŚeven when I had someone elseâŚit was never even near the sameâ
âcan I knowâŚif she ever lived here or anything?â
âNo, she only stayed over once or twice a month for a nightâ
âI love you Aureliaâ
âI love you too. She was my friend though right? Are you going to let me meet herâ
âYouâd want to?â
âshe was my friend. I mean you two had a sort of relationship but Iâm not upset at her or you. You were lonely and it sounds like she was too. I definitely donât think if she came around youâd be doing anything with her on the side so Iâd like to meet her at some pointâ
âOkay, but I want to be selfish with you for awhile. Iâm sure the kids feel the sameâ she smiled âthats okay with meâ The room fell silent besides a few sniffles here and there. Aurelia wasnât sure when she fell asleep but she woke still in his arms the next morning. He had fallen asleep hard so she was able to get up without disturbing him. She wanted to see her daughter now, to embrace her as she had her son and husband. She wasnât hard to find, it looked like she had been waiting in the hall for her to come out âBrynmor saysâŚheâ
âI know who I am, come hereâ Pretoria ran into her arms âMom, its so good to have you homeâ
âItâs good to be home honeyâ
~ The End ~
Fiora confirmed it one more time before actually believing she was pregnant with Kalebs child. âOh my goshâ she said excitedly, her entire being warming with happiness. They hadnât been trying for this to happen but she couldnât be happier. She just hoped Kaleb would be happy. They hadnât been practicing safe sex but they hadnât discussed children either so she didnât know how he would feel. She wasnât going to overthink it though, she was just going to march into their library and tell him. This wasnât news she could keep to herself, she could barely wait to confirm it before talking to him. She had only managed because she didnât see the point of getting his hopes up or upsetting him without being sure.
She cleaned washed her hands then practically ran to the library where Kaleb was reading a new book he had found and brought home. Upon her entering he immedietly put it down âHey baby, whatâs up?â She only briefly paused before saying âIâm pregnant, I did multiple tests so Iâm sure. Iâm really happy about it and I hope you are too. I donâtâ a half startled half amused gasp interrupted her sentence as she was suddenly in his arms, her feet off the ground as he hugged her to him âof course Iâm happy Fiora. This is the best thing you could have come in here and told me.â he kissed her then asked âhow far do you think you are?â
âabout two months. I noticed when I missed my period last month but weird things happen but when I missed this month I knew I should get some things together to see if Iâm pregnant. I did every one I know and they all came up with me pregnantâ He kissed her again in his elation âcan we go tell my parents? This will be their first grandchild. I know they will be excited tooâ
âIâd love to do thatâ she said in a touched tone. He was happy and seemingly abundantly so. His reaction touched her and made her even more glad she was with child. They left right away, going straight to his parents home to tell them the good news. They were both just as happy as Kaleb had been and it almost made her cry that her baby, her first little one would be brought into a world where it would be so wholly loved.
do you know how to tell if its a boy or a girl?â
âIts so early?â
âwe angels have a trick that can tell on the very day the little one is conceived what gender they will be?â
âOh please let me know thenâ Kalebs mother tugged her into another room and Fain chuckled ânext thing you know your mother is going to want another baby.â Kaleb chuckled âwell, hopefully her baby fever will be quelled when our little one comesâ
âEh, if she insists I wont mind. I am just selfish, I like to have your mother to myself. Though I loved raising you, Iâm not saying anything like that. I was just a one and done kind of manâ
âI can tell, being a dad is a wonderful thing. Youâll love it, probably even more than I did. I was just plain scared when your mother told me we were expectingâ
âwe have a good home, amazing family and a stable life. Iâm not worriedâ When the girls came back Samira happily announced âyouâll be having a little boy! So start coming up with boy names while I take your wife out shoppingâ Fain chuckled âshopping for the kid alreadyâ
âIâve been seeing so much adorable baby stuff. Yes, weâre going right now. You boys just sit here and think. This is mother in law and daughter bonding timeâ Samira didnât let the men say much else, she just tugged Fiora out. Kaleb chuckled âOkay so maybe youâre right. You two might end up having another kid.â They didnât pay much attention to the time until it was well into the night âthe shops are closed by now boy, we need to hunt for our wivesâ Kaleb had been trying not to worry, Fiora had left with his mother, one of the strongest women he had ever known, they were fine, they had to be fine. His fathers nudging was all he needed to be out the door though.
Earlier, right after Fiora and Samira left
The two were flying to town when Fiora heard a growl like voice in her ear despite the fact there was nobody beside her âYour baby will be mineâ Fiora stopped in her tracks âSamiraâ
âsomeone whispered in my ear about the babyâ Samira closed the distance between them, grabbing her daughter in laws hand âwhat did the voice sayâ
âit wants my babyâ
âwe need to get back home, We cant be too carefulâ They went to turn around and the world began swirling around them. Samira took off, straight up, bringing Fiora along with her in the air.
Fiora felt something grip her ankle, bringing them up short and Samira held on then moved down to wrap her arms around her daughter in laws waist. Fiora looked down as she kicked and struggled, her eyes meeting those of the creature who had her. Everything was spinning so fast that she could barely make out its face, but it was clear it had glowing eyes and sharps teeth. âHang on Fiora.â Samira commanded and Fiora clung to her.
âIf you wonât give her to me,â the creature grabbed Samira too, âthen you can come as well.â
Kaleb flew as fast as possible, his heart hammering in fear. Where were they? They had checked at the stores where his mother had taken Fiora and also any cafe close by, but no one had seen them after they had left. Even Kalebâs father was beginning to worry and that was saying something. His mother was more than capable and would not have been easy to take down, if thatâs what had happened. It was terrifying to think they had been hurt and Kaleb had to force is mind away from the, or worse.
Samira was covered in blood, bearing a livid expression that previously Fiora would have never believed she could make. The angel was pinning the final demon that had been in that room by the throat against the wall. âI donât know what you fuckers want with my grandchild but you wont have him. This place reeks of babies and deathâŚunless youâre ready to die Iâd show us the doorâ
âYou you youâ She threw him across the room as she yelled âstop stuttering!â The demon let them out and Fiora took his life anyway. Fiora ran to her side âIâm sorry you have to see me like this Fiora but we must hurry.â They walked through the door the demon opened only to find more. Samira sighed in annoyance âYou really donât want to mess with me. If you have any questions look in the previous roomâ
âbut howâ one started and she held up a hand to silence him âIâve had enough, this stress alone could cause my daughter to miscarry and if she loses this baby you will all beg for deathâ Fiora could still not see a single trace of fear in her mother in law. Most of this time she spoke and acted as if she was dealing with petulant children.
Samira moved faster than Fiora could blink, her hand around the demons throat and she slammed him to the ground. âYou will take me to the one in charge and I will take it up with him.â
Fiora could actually see the demon shaking. âYesâŚyes of course.â It said.
âDo you feel that?â Fain asked as he came to hover in the sky. He turned, looking around. âMagic?â
âThereâs a strange distortion here.â Kaleb said. They both inhaled, catching the remnants of Fiora and Samiraâs scents as well as that of demons. âDad, Fiora and the baby.â
âWe have to stay calm, your mother is with her and you know she wonât let anything happen to them.â
His sons expression didnât improve much so Fain added âsheâs just as fierce as sheâs always beenâ
âit was foolish not to worry about her becoming pregnant. I neglected to think about all the terrible things that can happen to pregnant women, all the things babies can be used forâ
âTheyâd have to kill your mother and your mate to get that baby and I doubt anything could manage son. Donât stress, it wont help anything. We both married strong womenâ
Samaria glared at the demon who merely looked amused âYou two are the most unruly house guests Iâve ever hadâ
âwell we donât want to be here. I smell babies and death everywhere I goâ
âbut you donât know why I wanted your daughter in laws babyâ
âI donât careâ
âYou must care, everyone has curiosity within them. You could really leave never knowing why?â
âYes now if you like breathing I suggest you tell me where I am and how to get my daughter and grandchild safely out of hereâ He grinned and Samira scoffed before adding seriously âIâve said nothing funnyâ
âI like youâ
âgood for you, Iâm growing impatientâ
âwould you settle for me letting her and the baby go. Iâm far more interested in you now. Samira right?â
âI have a mate, you must smell himâ
âI do, it tells me you would swing for a demonâ
âNot one like you, my mate is nothing like youâ
âbut you donât know meâ
âIâm taken and so is my daughter and my grandchild belongs to this familyâ
He chuckled. âHow delicious you are, my dear. Come now, you stay and she goes, thatâs only fair.â He shrugged. âOr we could keep her here until the little one is born.â
âI will kill all of you before that happens.â She held out her hand and Fiora was surprised by the whip that appeared there. The end was covered in razor sharp barbs and she knew that her mother in law meant to tear them all apart should they try anything.
The demon stood with a sigh. âYou know, I would have preferred not having to break you, pets and slaves are so boring, but if I must then I will.â He snapped his fingers and two of the demons moved behind Fiora and grabbed her. When Samira turned to defend her, their leader rushed her, knocking her away from Fiora. âYour focus should be on me, my dear.â
It was then Fiora knew she couldnât hide behind her mother in laws bravery any longer. She had to summon all her courage too. Samira was strong but she needed her to be more than dead weight she had to defend. It was as if two blue dust bombs exploded in the room, shocking even Samira who instinctively held her breath as she beat her wings hard to push it away from her. The demons, even their leader began screaming. It distracted the other two but it only angered the leader worse. He lunged for Samira who quickly used the opportunity to wrap her whip around his throat. He growled, grabbing the whip and ripping it apart with his claws. His hands and neck were bloody but he wasnât done yet. Sores appeared on the three demons bodies but it didnât effect Fiora, nor did it hurt Samira who had been smart and quick to react to her daughter in law.
Fiora, run.â Samira said as she blocked the demonâs blows, getting cuts and torn clothing any time he managed to get past her guard.
Fiora turned and ran, heading back the way they had come and pushing through the door. The demon grabbed Samira as she turned and slammed her down on the ground. Fiora slid to a stop and started to go back, but Samira yelled at her to keep going. Fiora couldnât just leave her and she knew Samira could see she wouldnât so used all her strength to launch herself into the air and slam the demon against the ceiling. âFiora hit him again.â She yelled and Fiora made another dust bomb appear. Samira wrapped her wings around herself as it exploded.
Kaleb and his father hovered where the distortion was, both of their hands outstretched. They wanted to try and recreate whatever doorway the demons had used to capture Fiora and his mother. He forced himself to focus, blocking out his fear. He had to believe in his mother, had to have faith in her ability to protect Fiora and their unborn child.
They were both incredibly skilled demons so managed to force open the door. Kaleb might not have much experience but his fathers more than made up for it. They found themselves in a basement and despite the bodies and blood Kalebs father smiled âI love my wifeâ he sounded so impressed âlets find themâ Kaleb urged. The two hurried, happy to have such strong scents to follow now. Despite the many combined scents here there was no scent either of them knew quite like their mates. When they caught up to them Fiora was stumbling, having just been punched in the face by some back up the master had managed to call in to help him with these two women.
Kaleb caught her in his arms, spinning to kick the demon in the abdomen. Fiora struggled with him for a moment and he held her tighter. âCalm down, love, itâs me.â He said and she looked up at him, looking relieved and near tears.
âYour mom.â She said.
Fain was already past them, catching one of the demons by the throat and crushing his windpipe. Kaleb wasnât worried about his parents, he knew they could handle themselves. Instead, he moved Fiora behind him to face the demon he had kicked. âStay behind me.â He commanded gently.
âI can help.â She said.
âI know, but from behind me.â Fiora hit the demon with a dust bomb, causing him to scream and Kaleb attacked him while he was blinded, not giving him a chance to recuperate.
With the four of them they had the demons overwhelmed. Samara would love to be the one with her hands around the demons neck but she allowed her husband to do the honors. âjust in case this is going to be something I need to worry about why did you mess with mine and my sonâs mates?â The demon apparently had some fighting him still. It took they knock him around a bit more for him to answer. âWe are always on the lookout for fairy babies. In fairy cities itâs damn near impossible to collect them so we lookout for mothers who arenât with their kind. One fairy child to the right buyer can fetch more than 10 other children combined. Vampires have found it easier to keep their treats if they raise them without knowing what any other kind of life is like. The mother would have sold for quite a bit herself and your mate, well I ended up wanting her for meâ
âEven though her baby will be demon and Angel as wellâ
âEven as a demon, have you ever tried fairy blood? Even when itâs watered down by other creatures? itâs not addictive to us like it is to vampires but it still incredible.â
âdo your buyers come to you or do you meet them?â
âDo what you will, I know youâre going to kill me. I wonât sell out my clients.â
âSon, please take your mother and wife home. I made sure that passage would stay open so donât worry about being able to do it by yourselfâ Fain spoke to Caleb then looked at his wife. âPlease go, youâre hurt and this may take awhileâ
âI love youâ for a brief moment he smiled ” I love you to Samira. Iâll be with you soon.” Samira and Fiora went with Kaleb who took them both back to his parents house.
âIâm going to go bathe with Fiora, mom.â Kaleb said as they passed through the front door.
âOf course sweetie, she doesnât need the scent of that place on her anyway. Iâll make us some tea and wait for your father.â
He hugged her tightly. âThank you for watching over her.â
âYou know I could do no less and besides, she made them regret taking us. Sheâs strong, Kaleb.â
âI know, but still, thank you. I love you, mom.â
âI love you too.â
He let her go and lifted Fiora, carrying her to the guest bathroom and shutting the door. He sat her on the counter and took her face in his hands. âAre you okay my love? Youâve hardly said a word.â
âI was so scared, Kaleb.â She wrapped her arms around her stomach. âI canât believe why he wanted the baby.â
âIâm going to be glued to you until the baby comes so you donât have to worryâ
âI hope your dad gets information about the vampires that would actually buy from that demonâ
âMe too, that demon may take his secrets to the grave. My dad can beâŚwell persuasive though. My parents are both forces to be reckoned withâ
âYour mom was amazingâ
âand we will make sure this child can use all of his abilities properly. Heâll be safeâ
“Is there any name youâve always wanted for a boy?
âNot really, what about you?â
âI really like the name Jimocâ
âThen that will be his nameâ
âYou sure?â He kissed her forehead âIâm just so relieved to still have you bothâ she put a hand on her stomach âI think heâs fine in there. I tried to stay calm. I think being blown away by your mother helped.â
âare you ready for me to get you cleaned up?â
âYeah, your moms making tea so we should hurryâ Once Fiora was clean Kaleb grabbed somehting of his mothers to put on her. They had a bit of a height difference but it still worked. When they came out Samira was tending to her wings âcan I help?â Fiora asked and Samira said âJust relax for me. Youâve been through a lot today. Youâre so early on in your pregnancy the best thing you can do for me is to think of your baby. Iâm so excited to be a grandmaâ
âweâre naming him Jimocâ Fiora said as she sat down âI like thatâ Kaleb sat with his mother, helping her. The more Fiora relaxed the more exhautsed she felt. She was fighting off sleep so hard it almost startled her when the tea pot whistled âKaleb, take her to your old room to napâ Kaleb didnât have to be asked twice. He scooped Fiora back up and took her to his old room âI want us to stay here until my dad gets back. Weâre safer inside and who knows if any bastard vampires are lurkingâ
âI donât care where I sleep.â He tucked her in ârest as much as you canâ
Fain arrived home a few hours later, relieved to see his son and Fiora were not in the living room. Samira greeted him and even though he was covered in blood, she hugged him. âHow are they?â He asked.
âGood, resting.â She pulled back to look at him. âDid you get him to talk?â
âI did, sorry it took so long. He was tougher than I thought. I had to get meaner than I would have liked.â
She rested a hand on his cheek. âWhy donât you go get clean my love and Iâll get you something to eat and drink. Weâll talk when you get out.â
He kissed her and they parted, him heading to the bathroom and her to the kitchen. Kaleb woke as his father walked by and looked down at Fiora, relieved to see she was still sleeping. He managed to get out of bed without waking her. He found his mother in the kitchen making a sandwich for his father. âIs he alright?â Kaleb asked.
âOf course, just a little messy.â
When his father came out he sat down with a relieved, tired sigh âI still have my work cut out for me but my blessings are I can rid the world of some vile, selfish creatures and they werenât supposed to meet until the day after tomorrow. I have where and I confirmed he was telling me the truth in some gruesome ways. Its been so long since I had to be one of the monsters. I intend to get a few of my old friends to help me. Kaleb, youâre only job now is your mate in there. Samira, I know youâll be helping meâ
âIt sounds like just enough recoup time for me to be able to.â Samira replied then Kaleb answered âgood, I trust you guys. I want to keep Fiora as near me as possible the rest of this pregnancyâ
âare you two staying in our home?â
âyou need to get up with your friends and Iâm sure you want some time with mom.â
âweâll take you three home in the morning thenâ Samira now spoke again when Fain stopped talking âthey named their son.â
âJimocâ Kaleb said and Fain nodded âI like itâ Fiora slept through the night, not waking until Kaleb roused her for breakfast. âare you feeling okay?â he asked softly as she sat up âyeah, why?â
âOh, wow, well I guess my body got what it needed. I really do feel perfectly fine.â
âMy parents are going to escort us home today then they are going to get ready to confront that demons buyersâ
âthey are going to make sure they donât already have any babies right?â
âI know they will. They wont rest until theyâve stopped as many beings as possible that would be involved in something like thatâ
Fiora got a hug from both Samira and Fain, the latter looking her over. âAre you doing alright?â
âYeah, thank both of you.â
âThere is no way we were going to let our sonâs mate be taken, nor our grandchild.â Samira said as everyone got seated.
They avoided the topic of what had happened as they ate, instead talking about Jimoc and how spoiled he would be. Samira and Fain told her stories about when Kaleb was little and by the time they were finished eating and ready to go, both Fiora and Kaleb were in high spirits. Kaleb held Fiora in his arms as they flew home, unwilling to let her be taken again. If it hadnât been for his motherâs strength, he could have lost her. They gave each other hugs and they told his parents to stay safe.
âYou donât worry about us, weâll be back before you know it.â Fain said. âJust take care of Fiora and that little baby.â
âI will dad.â
Once they were gone a little guilt washed over Fiora âI hate we arenât helpingâ
âtruly, they just want their granbaby safe honey. Youâre doing precisely what they want, what I want as wellâ Fiora held a hand on her stomach and he knelt down, kissing her belly âI cant believe thereâs really a baby in thereâ Fiora whispered. Kaleb looked up, his face bearing a loving expression âthere is and I canât wait to meet the little one. Fairy, demon and angel. Heâs going to be interestingâ
âI hope heâs lucky enough to be as handsome as his daddyâ Kaleb chuckled âcome, lets play one of our board games. I donât want you worrying, even for a second.â Fiora decided to do hat everyone around her wanted, she would relax, for the health of her baby. It was made abundantly clear what this baby meant to Kaleb and his family and she didnât want them hurt by a miscarriage caused by stress.
~ The End
Marit couldnât believe her eyes, her very own laptop. She had thought her backpack was heavier when she grabbed it from her locker. She didnât need it in her last two classes of the day so often stashed it there so she wouldnât have to lug it around for no reason. She had no idea where it came from, all it had was a sticky note on it that said âour little secretâ. She didnât even care, a million possibilities began rushing through her head. Her parents were so nosy about what she did online and wouldnât allow her a Facebook because it was too dangerous ,dangerous? Really? She wasnât stupid. She could handle herself with a Facebook.
They always told her to just wait until she was sixteen but that was three years away. Her friends had always told her she could make one and just block them right away so they wouldnât find it but her dad was so good with computers she just knew heâd figure it out on the family desktop. Plus it was in the living room so hiding doing anything on that was laughable. Finally, her own laptop and she couldnât care less who gave it to her. She opened it up to find a picture of her as the background. She was hanging out with her friends. She paused, trying to figure out when this was.
She couldnât think of it but excitement took her again and she opened the browser. Her mothers voice caught her ears which brought her a little back to reality. She rushed to her bedroom door and locked it for possibly the first time in her life. She as close to her parents, they were kind and very fun people but all her friends were allowed on the internet and to have Facebooks and she was tired of being left out. One of her friends had obviously gone above and beyond for her and she wouldnât screw it up. Undoubtedly her father could figure out who gave this to her and she didnât want them getting in trouble.
She went to Facebook to find it already logged into one, hers. Had one of her friends really gone this far to get her into the virtual world? She went to the blocking settings like one of her friends had explained to find all of her family members already blocked. âwoahâ she couldnât help but whisper.
She messed around on her Facebook, going through the pictures. Some of them she had never seen before and she wondered where they had come from. Maybe one of her friends had taken them without her knowing? She then went to her friends list. There was only one person on there right now and she had no idea who it was. âMarit, come on sweetie, weâre going to the store.â Her mother said from downstairs, making her heart jump.
âComing.â She quickly yelled back. She had to hide the laptop. Her mother sometimes came in to empty out her hamper and she didnât want her to find it.
She needed to find somewhere fast before her mother came up here so she went into her closet, pulled down her suitcase and stashed it inside. There would be no reason for her parents to bother with it and it was good enough for now. Marit put the suitcase back just as it was then hurried to her mother âsorry, I know we just got home but I have nothing to make us for dinnerâ
âItâs no problem momâ They went out to the car and soon were on the road âso how was school today baby?â Maureen asked. âsame old same old, this year has been really easy for me so farâ
âyouâve always been so smart. What would you like for dinner?â
âsure, we will need a side tooâ
âPotatoes Anna with Apples and Sage?â
âOh my gosh Iâm glad I asked youâ Marit laughed âI want more poptarts too while weâre at the storeâ
âokay, maybe we can look at some clothes before we buy food, you know, just spend a little time together. If things should fall into the cart then over the scanner at checkoutâŚwellâŚthats just happensâ
âyeah, itâs been awhile since we went to the store for fun. I mean we still need stuff but we have time to have fun first. You donât have a lot of homework do you?â
âI have a paper to write so once we get home Iâll have to stay up on my room but besides that Iâm good. I have time to hangoutâ Marit felt a tug of guilt. She never lied to her mother and it didnât feel good to do it for the first time. She didnât have any homework at all but she had wanted to take the opportunity to grab at an excuse to really get into her Facebook account. She had so many people to add and things to do on it.
Her guilty conscious only grew as they looked at clothes. She almost didnât want her mother buying her anything but knew it would look weird if she didnât pick some things out. By the time they arrived home Marit was near confessing to her parents she found a laptop in her bag but as she set her clothes down she wanted to share them with everyone right now and she could finally do that. She just reminded herself all of her friends had Facebook âmy parents are just being over protectiveâ she thought to herself.
Marit put on her new pair of jeans then set up her camera to take pictures of herself. She loved having a real camera that she could use a self timer on. She wanted to upload them but it was too close to dinner, too risky. Sheâd wait until she was in here for the night because of her paper
She decided to go help her mom finish up, hoping it might ease the guilt tugging at her. âhey sweetie, donât you have a paper?â
âcouldnât concentrate. Iâm too hungryâ Another lie, another tug at her heart doing something she wasnât used to. She helped her mother with dinner and they managed to get it on the table just as her dad returned from work. Joey came in happily, ready to hug both his girls. âwhatever that is it smells amazingâ he remarked and Maureen kissed him ‘dinner was Marits idea. Weâre having Potatoes Anna and Chicken Fricassee”
His mouth was practically already watering as they went to their table and sat down. Her guilt vanished for awhile as she hungout with them. Her dad had another story about the new guy at work that had the three of them laughing. âThat man is the biggest mess Iâve ever met but its funny and heâs a good guyâ Laughing her mother Maureen said âwell lets allow our daughter to finish her meal. Between me taking her shopping and your stories sheâs never going to be able to work on her paper for schoolâ
âYou have a paper due?â
âyeah, I was planning to lock myself in my room after dinnerâ
âyouâre going to hand write it?â Thats right, she normally typed her papers up and printed them in the living room, think fast, think fast. âyeah, our English teacher wants us to work more on our penmanship and she thought a paper would do that best. We have to write it ourselvesâ Oh my god, how much was she going to have to lie to have this laptop.
âso I guess you have to take your time writing so it looks goodâ
âYeah, thats a big part of the gradeâ she looked away from her trusting parents âcould I eat in my room please?â she wasnât even in a rush to get online. In fact she was concerned she was going to cry now that guilt had crept back into her full force. âOf course babyâ
Both Maureen and Joey watched her leave and then Maureen asked, âDid she seem off to you?â
âSchoolâs stressful.â He took her hand when she just frowned. âWe can talk to her tomorrow, okay?â
âAlright. I know Iâm probably being ridiculous.â
âBeing a good mom is never ridiculous.â
Marit sat down on her bed with her plate in her hands, feeling horrible. She didnât want to eat, her appetite gone after lying to her parents, but she knew she had to eat or they would realize there was something wrong. She ate slowly, sighing and trying not to cry until she was finished. She sat her plate on top of her chest of drawers and then went and retrieved the laptop, actually glaring at it a little as she sat down and flipped it open. She decided she would come clean later and hoped they wouldnât be too upset. She just wanted to play with it for a little while.
Marit just wished they could understand her desire to have one like her friends. It seemed so fun and she always felt out of the loop. People tended to assume she knew about stuff because everybody else had read about it on Facebook but her so she was always playing catch up to know anything about her friends or what was going on. Events would happen and there were times she didnât end up getting invited because everyone thought someone else was going to tell her in person or call her about it. It sucked, majorly so sheâd get all she could out of this for even a short time. Marit uploaded the pictures she took and changed her profile picture to her favorite one before she began adding all her friends.
She was elated when some accepted right away and she could begin browsing their profiles. She didnât realize how many pictures of herself were already online. She knew her friends took pictures all the time but she hardly got to see them since people didnât tend to print pictures anymore. What was the point unless you were making something since everybody you know can see them online, everybody but her that is. She tried not to type too excitedly as she responded to friends excited messages about her finally being on.
She knew if she typed back too fast her parents might here. She decided for safety to turn on the tv in her room. It wasnât uncommon for her to have tv as background noise, even for homework so they wouldnât think anything of it. Marit started tagging herself in photos so sheâd have them on her own profile. Sure her dad was probably going to delete this thing but she wanted to live her short facebook life to the fullest.
She was surprised when another message popped up and it was the person whose name she hadnât known. âMarit, are you there?â It asked.
She clicked over to it, typing in, âYes.â She could see the dots in the box indicating this person was typing.
âGood, Iâm glad. Do you like your gift?â
She swallowed. âWho is this?â She sat there waiting, not knowing why her heart was beating so hard.
âA friend.â She looked at the name at the top of the box. It just said Tannin. What kind of name was Tannin? Was it real or made up?
âHow do you know me?â She asked.
âIâve seen you around and I wanted to talk to you. Iâm so glad we can now.â
She wondered if maybe it was a boy at school and if that were the case then maybe they had been to nervous to talk to her face to face. âDo I know you?â
âYou will soon, Marit, just not yet.â
She wondered if she should tell her parents, but then that would mean losing the laptop and she had only just started using it. Besides, what if it was just some boy? She didnât want him getting humiliated. âOkay, thank you then.â
âI had a spare and Iâve over heard quite a few conversations about how badly you wanted a Facebook. I had a spare laptop so I made it happen for you and for me. I really have wanted to talk to you so very badly.â The little light by the built in camera came on, not bright but noticeable âa light just came on on the laptop? Did I do something to it?â She typed back and he soon answered âJust a quirk of an old laptop. Sorry I didnât have anything better to give youâ Anything better? She thought. This thing looked better than her fathers laptop. âItâs not going to bother meâ she typed back but decided to google what that meant. Before she could see the results the laptop turned off âwhat?â she said softly.
It was plugged in, the battery was still firmly inside. As much as she wanted to deny something was wrong here it didnât sit well with her that a light came on and as soon as she went to look up why it shut down. Maybe this friend had remote access to her computer. You didnât live with a father as computer smart as hers without picking up a few things. Especially when he talked to his friends. Honestly you didnât live in this decade without knowing all the ways laptops actually were dangerous. Something was wrong and she had to come clean in the morning no matter how embarrassed or sad that made her.
If that light hadnât come on, if whomever hadnât shut down her computer so she wouldnât know why she might have kept this going but she wasnât that stupid.
Marit couldnât sleep at all, her eyes jumping to where she had put the laptop every time she turned that way. She knew it was closed, but it still freaked her out. She thought about the pictures and wondered if the person who had taken them was watching her right now. Her heart hammered in her chest at the thought. Could he still hear her through the microphone? She curled up, clinging to her pillow, a tingle of fear running up her spine when she realized her back was to her window. What if he was out there? She held her breath, swallowed and slowly turned over, making it look as natural as possible. She was relieved when she didnât see a silhouette or anything. She took a quiet breath. It was okay, everything was going to be okay.
She buried her face in her pillow and closed her eyes, knowing she needed to rest. All the doors and windows were locked, her father always double checked before bed. She had always thought it was weird, even after what had happened to her mother as a child, but now she couldnât be more grateful. She also told herself that all she had to do was scream and they would come running.
Marit woke up several times throughout the night, decided to try to turn it back on around four am. She had a bunch of notifications, some were from her friends but she noticed that Tannin had now given a heart on all of her pictures. In their chat he acted like he didnât know what happened to her but she worried he did know, that he had some sort of remote access to this thing and that she did need to be afraid of it. She decided to try google again now that he didnât seem to be on. She gasped once she read that meant the camera was on. He had turned it on while they were talking.
She couldnât wait until morning, she ran to her parents bedroom and pounded on the door âMom! Dad!â Her dad answered âwhat? Is everything okay honey?â he looked so scared and she spilled her guts. She could handle her parents anger and disappointment, she couldnât handle some creep spying on her and taking her away from her parents. Facebook acess wasnât worth that. She held up the laptop and his concerned face turned puzzled âwhere did you get that?â
âIâŚI found it in my backpack after school dadâ
âyou found it in your backpack?â
âyeah and it had a Facebook already made for me andâŚI justâŚIâve wanted to have a Facebook so badâŚIâm so sorryâ she was already bawling and her mother popped out of the room âI think you need to make some coffee honeyâ Joey walked past and Marit could tell by the way he walked he was angry âIâm sorry momâ
âwhy are you confessing atthis hour baby? What happened?â
âI think whoever gave this to me was watching me the times I used itâ
âlets follow your dad into the kitchen, explain to him why you think that and tell us both what youâve been doing on thereâ Marit nodded, shame making her body feel heavy.
Maureen could tell Joey was still mad when they entered the dining room. He was sitting there, his hand setting on top of the laptop, his fingers tapping it. âCome sit down, Marit.â He said.
âIâm sorry dad.â She replied as she crossed over to the table and sat down.
Maureen sat down next to him and took his hand. He gave her a brief smile. âFirst, I want to say that I am disappointed that you decided to sneak behind our backs and not bring this to our attention right away. You broke the rules and your mother and I will discuss your punishment later.â
âI know, I justâŚâ
âYou wanted to be like your friends, but Marit, you are our daughter and we have these rules for a reason.â Maureen said.
Joey sighed. âWho gave this to you?â
âI donât know, his name is just Tannin on Facebook.â She swallowed down the lump in her throat. âI think he was watching me last night.â
âWhat exactly happened?â
âWell, while we were talking the light on the front came on. When I asked him what it was, he basically told me it was nothing. Then when I went to google what it was, the computer just shut off.â
âHe probably was Marit. Laptops are dangerous. Anything with a camera on it is dangerous because its far too easy to tap into someones built in camera. Remote access isnât as easy but I guarantee you he has it installed on here. Just please tell me you did not hook up your cellphone to the laptopâ
âgood, so at least we donât have to worry about him having put anything on there. Iâd be taking that away anyway if I wasnât so worried now. You need to be able to call us if something happens and we arent right thereâ
âI know about people being able to look at your computer from theres but how much could he seeâ
âIâll go get my laptop and show you, Maureen, tart doing whatever on the desktop. Come with me Maritâ As they sat back down in her parents bedroom Marit asked âso you already have stuff installed on our computer?â
âNot to watch you and your mother. Sometimes I need stuff from the computer at work. This way I dont have to carry a flashdrive with me if I need to bring something into work thats on thereâ
âIâm really sorry dadâ
âI love you honey, I do and thats why Iâm so upset.â Soon she could see everypage her mother had open, could even watch her type âOh my god, he was seeing what I was talking about with my friends?â
âeven as you wrote itâ
âOh my godâ
âI havenât forbidden you from Facebook to be mean Marit. Its dangerous and I dont understand any parent that would let their child use a site like that. I just wanted you to be a little olderâŚthere are monsters out there Marit. Terrible people who would take you away from us and hurt you. This man has given a child a laptop. It wasnât going to come without strings attached honeyâ She started crying again and he set his laptop down to hug her âIâm just glad you told me now Marit, that you couldnât even go twenty four hours lieing to us but it still hurts you would.â
âYouâre a good kid Marit, you always have been. Youâve made a mistake but you came to us and I cant stress enough how glad I am you did. Some kids would have stayed in the hug they already dugâŚyou could have been gone before we knew anythingâ When she could pull it together again he took her back into the living room where Maureen had made Joey and herself coffee âYou need to get some rest Marit. Your dad and I will deal with this laptop nowâ She hugged her mom and went to her bedroom. Joey spoke âIâm going to go to work. Iâll be right backâ
âIâm going to get something to block him from accessing it. Heâll wipe out everything if he sees me on thereâ
âI canât help you anyway if you just want to take it into work. Iâll put your coffee in a to go cupâ
âwhat if theres some creep lurking around our home?â
âwe have a gun and I know where it is and the combination to it hasnât changed right?â
âI will be fine and Iâll keep an eye on Maritâ
â’lll have my key so theres no reason to answer the doorâ She gave him a brief kiss âI knowâ he looked like he wanted to say so many things but he was a mess of stress, fear and hurt. âI knew something was wrong, we know our girl Joey. Iâm sure this is the first time shes lied to us. I could tell as soon as she came out of that room to go shopping with me. I just didnât know it was about something so seriousâ
âwhat do we do about this?â
âMarit is obviously riddled with guilt. I donât think we need to punish her all that much. If we come down too hard she might be too scared to talk to us next time. Just like I heard you saying to her in the bedroom itâs a blessing she told us. This creep could have taken her from us if she had waited too long. Maybe we just dont let her online atall for a month or twoâ
Joey nodded âwell I better go, please, do not answer the door and dont talk to any of our friends or extended family about this yet. WeâŚwe donât know who it is Maureenâ As hard as that was to think about she understood his concern âOkay babyâ Maureen poured his coffee into a travel cup and he finally left with the laptop to take it to work.
Marit laid curled up in her bed under the covers, hugging her pillow and crying. She hated that her parents were so disappointed and she hated she had hurt them. She cried until she couldnât anymore and was exhausted. She fell asleep hoping she would be able to make it up to them and thinking of how grateful she was to have parents like them. Maureen entered her room quietly a few minutes later and gently pulled back the blankets, relieved to see she was actually sleeping, but hating that her daughter had been crying. She pressed a soft kiss to her forehead and decided to bake some cookies in hopes that it would help everyone feel better.
Joey forced himself not to look upset when he got to work. He nodded at the security guard as he passed and headed straight for his office. He knew he was going to have to be careful opening it up and hooking anything up to it. If the guy was on, he might notice and if he noticed then he knew he would have to work fast to make sure he couldnât delete anything. He knew he would have to take it into the police, but he wanted to preserve as much evidence as possible.
Joey was glad when he found what he needed to prevent the remote access from working. He quickly turned it on and got it running before whoever this predator was noticed what was happening. Joey decided to look at the history first but was saddened to find the man had been smart enough to clear the history before putting the laptop in Marits bag. He looked through everything looking for any evidence of the previous owner but nothing was turning up. He then went on his daughters facebook and clicked on the mans page but that turned up nothing as well. He hated he would have to turn this over to the cops with nothing but they could probably look up where this was bought and by who among many other things he couldnât so he decided to take it to the police station.
He let them know right away he already made it so the man or woman couldnât access the computer any longer. They asked him how then went on to further question him about Marit. They told him theyâd check with the school when it opened to see if the camera in the halls still functioned. They had them but due to funding issues many public schools face they could possibly not be functioning. Joey hoped with all he was that they would at least be able to see this creep on video.
âMarit.â Her voice being whispered startled her awake. âMarit.â It took her sleepy brain a moment to process the unfamiliar voice, but when she did, she froze, her heart thumping in her chest. She was afraid to move, but she couldnât just lay there. She gripped the blankets and quickly pulled them down. There was no one there. She looked around the room in confusion. It was completely lit by the sun so there was no way anyone could be hiding in it.
âMom?â She called.
âIn the living room.â Marit swallowed. âIs everything alright?â
âYeah, just a weird dream.â It had to have been. There was no way someone could have just walked into the house and her window was closed and locked.
Joey called Maureen to let her know he was on his way home and that the police had the laptop. That part was out of their hands, even though he wished he could do more. âDo you want me to pick anything up?â
âStuff for frito pie?â
âSounds good. Everything okay there?â
âAlright, Iâll be home soon, love you.â
âLove you too.â
Marit didnât want to change in her room, she was too scared now. She picked a comfortable dress then hurried to the bathroom to put it on. She was nervous even in there but managed to change before brushing her teeth and hair. She was nervous going to the living room as well but for a different reason. âHey momâ Maureen hugged her daughter âHey babyâ She could tell Marit was waiting to know how sheâd be punished âwe just dont want you online for a few months. We will let you know when youâre allowed again.â
âDo you guysâŚI meanâ
âNext time you decide to lie to us there will be much harsher consequences but this is the first timeâŚthat along with how bad you obviously feel is why its not so bad this timeâ
âI wont ever lie again. I promise. Am I going to school today?â
âNo, I donât want you at school until we figure this out since thats where the laptop ended up in your backpack. He could come there and hurt youâ
âI donât want to go but I dont want to fall behindâ
âIf we cant figure this out quickly Iâm sure the school can send some work home. I can go ahead and call if you wantâ
âIâm just already struggling to keep a b in historyâ
âIâll call today then honeyâ
Marit stayed paranoid while her mom was on the phone and even though she didnât want to go alone, she ventured back to her room to grab her backpack. She still had homework to do and she knew she might as well get it out of the way. There was a sense of foreboding as she stepped through her bedroom door and she had to force herself to cross over the threshold and go over to her backpack. She paused when she felt fear tingle up her spine and before she could turn, a hand clamped over her mouth and an arm wrapped around her, pinning one of her arms to her side.
âHello Marit.â She started fighting, screaming even though it was muffled. He pulled her over to her bed and slammed her onto the mattress, pinning her face down. âIf you donât stop, Iâll have to hurt your mother, do you understand?â She froze, tears stinging her eyes. âShh, itâs okay, Iâm not here to hurt you, I promise. Now, are you going to be good?â She nodded. âGood.â He pulled his hand away from her mouth.
âHow did you get in here?â She asked.
âLast night while you were sleeping.â
âMarit?â They both looked to the door. âMarit, honey, everything alright?â
âTell her youâre fine.â His voice was so aggressive.
She swallowed. âFine mom, just getting my homework.â She had to get away from him, had to signal her mother that he was in the house. âIf I donât go down, sheâll come up.â
âYouâll tell her.â
âI wonât I promise, but if I donât go down then you wonât be able to see me, right?â She didnât dare look over her shoulder, too afraid. He finally pulled her back up.
âFine, but if you say anything, Iâll know and Iâll hurt her, you know I will.â
âI promise.â He let her go and she moved away, finally turning around and looking him over. âI need my bag.â He grabbed it and held it out to her. âThâŚthanks.â
âYou come back to me soon, okay?â
âI will.â She slipped out of the room and as she started away, she could see him watching her. She went to the living room where her mother was watching TV. She quickly unzipped her back and took out her notebook and a pen.
âYou okay baby?â
âYeah, fine.â She quickly scribbled a message and tapped the page.
Maureen leaned over and read : Heâs upstairs. She looked at Maritâs face and she slightly nodded. âThatâs good, maybe later we can make cookies.â
âSounds good.â She wrote another message: Iâm scared. I want to leave.
They were near the door, much nearer than this pedophile was. If he didnât trust Marit to keep quite he wouldnât have let her out. He would have forced her out the window. Plus if he was intelligent at all he would have attacked her first instead of waiting in Marits bedroom so Maureen took the gamble. She grabbed Marit tightly by the arm, snatched up her keys from the living room table and bolted out the door. Marit screamed and almost panicked when he came bolting out the door as she was still trying to get into the car. She manged to get in and her mother hit the gas hard to get out of their driveway.
She called her husband who thankfully answered right away âHe was in Marits room. Heâs apparently not very intelligent thank god but I was too scared to try to get the gun and go back into her room myself so heâs probably gone again nowâ
âwhat exactly happened?â
âyouâll need to ask Maritâ Maureen handed the phone over. She explained the events to her father who said âalright, I love you, please give the phone back to your motherâ Maureen was still going way too fast but tried to slow down as she took the phone back. âgo to the police station and tell them whats happened. Donât leave, Iâm coming back thereâ
Marit was sitting next to Maureen and crying when Joey finally got to them. His daughter looked terrified and ashamed and he hugged both of them tightly. He didnât even want to imagine what that man could have done to them. He obviously had had more on his mind than just talking to Marit and he was grateful that the idiot seemed so trusting of Marit. An extra chair was brought in for him and he sat on the other side of his daughter. âWhy do you think he let her go?â He asked the officer who had been questioning them.
âHe may have wanted to stay in her good graces or he though she would be too scared to try anything since sheâs a child.â He pushed a piece of paper across the table. âDo you recognize him?â
Joey looked at the sketch of the man who had broken into his home. There was something familiar about him, but Joey couldnât place him. âI mean he looks maybe a little familiar, but I donât know.â
âYou could have just walked past him at some point while you were out, while he was following your daughter.â
âMaybe.â He studied the face again. âIf I remember anything, Iâll let you know.â He gave the sketch back. âWhat if he comes back?â
âWeâve already discussed posting an officer in front of and behind your house with your wife.â
Joey rubbed his face âweâre supposed to go home?â
âtheyâll be watching sir. Your family will be safeâ Joey looked at Marit âwill you be able to go home honey?â
âcan I sleep with you and mom?â
âthen I think I can. HeâŚhe had to have been under my bedâ Joey looked back at the cops âyou had to have found somthing on that computer? Right?â
âwe donât give out incomplete information sir, Iâm sorry. Why dont you just take your family home with officer Hartly and officer Gareâ Joey didnât like the idea of going home but sitting in the police department wasnât going to help so he did what he was told. He wished he found more relief in the officers but he could so easily lose his little girl to this monster and that terrified him.
Both of the officers swept the house when they got there, thankfully checking both the basement and the attic. They gave the all clear, but Joey still went in first, just in case. âWhy donât you come and help me make frito pie.â Maureen said to Marit, wanting to get her mind off of the man who had broken in.
âIâm going to go get the gun, okay?â Joey said as he kissed Maureenâs cheek. She nodded and he went to their room to pull it out of the safe. He didnât want to have to shoot someone, but if the police missed the man coming back, he wanted to be able to defend his wife and child.
âYou alright, honey?â Maureen asked as she rubbed Maritâs back.
âNo, not really. Iâm sorry.â She swallowed down the lump forming in her throat. âItâs my fault he came here.â
âItâs not, baby.â
âThe truth is, he might have come here regardless of giving you that computer and we would have had no warning that someone was stalking you.â
It took a few days but he showed up again, actually trying to slip past officers. The commotion in the yard drew Marit out and his eyes lit up âOh Marit, Marit I love you. Come see me in prison. Please, I love you so muchâ Maureen who had come out behind Marit tugged her, wanting her to come back inside âMarit!â he yelled her name again as they forced her stalker into the cop car. âare you okay Marit?â Her mother asked softly âI dont knowâŚI never worried about anything before butâŚmom he was so crazy. He loves meâŚwhat the hellâ
âI dont want you to spend your life afraid babyâ
âbut you were kidnapped when you were a baby and now thisâŚIâm not sure I ever want to go anywhere againâ she began to cry âOh Maritâ Maureen hugged her daughter, hating this man even more. Her daughter was so outgoing and carefree and that was all taken away now. She just hoped she could one day get her daughter over this horrible event in her life.
~ The End
Mei smiled back at little Tod as he buckled up in her backseat then drove away from the school âHow was your day?â
âGreat! Is mommy home yet?â
âJust two more nightsâ He just continued to smile as he began to look out the window so she put in one of his CDâs and put her attention back on the road. Mei was his live in nanny, had been since he was four and it was the best job she had ever taken. Tod was the sweetest boy anybody could ask for and his mother paid her far more than any other live in nannies she knew, especially when she took business trips. She had grown so fond of Tod over the past five years sheâd probably even watch him for free at this point. She loved him like he was her own. The nice room, comfortable life and amazing income were just perks now.
Elowen was more like her friend than employer as well. She was a wonderful, warm woman and while she worked a lot she was an amazing mother. She had never seen Elowen miss a single school event and when Todd was sick, if he wanted his mother she stayed home. Anytime Tod needed her she was there and Mei had never met such a driven working mother that was so good at balancing things like that or to put in better words, so good at telling her job to fuck off when her child needed or wanted her.
As Mei pulled into the driveway Tod gasped “Mommyâs home! Her car wasnât there so she shut off the car and turned âIâm sorry baby she isnât.â
âBut theres someone in the house and only we live thereâ
âwhat makes you say thatâ He looked back at the house âOhâŚI thought I saw her peeking out the windowâ her heart started thudding âTod, are you sure you saw someoneâ
âYeahâŚI meanâŚI really think so Ms Meiâ She had been running errands all day and while they lived in a nice neighborhood it didnât make it impossible for someone to have broken into their home. He was only nine, maybe he had been seeing things but it wasnât worth the risk to her âOkay buddy, lets go to Mr Birchâs homeâ
âYou think somethings wrong?â
âI donât know but lets be safe okayâ Birch was one of Elowens close friends, someone Mei knew wouldnât mind if she came unannounced with Tod. She wanted to call Elowen through the car but Tod would be able to hear and she didnât want to upset him. There might not even be a problem and her own fear might work him up for no reason. Once there she sighed when his car wasnât in the drive way. She parked, calling Elowen who answered quickly âHey Mei, i canât really talk, I had to step out of a meetingâ
âIâm so sorry to bother you Elowen, I really am. I just had to check if you came home early and were trying to surprise Todâ
âNo, why would you think thatâ she sounded concerned âWhen I was pulling in he thought he saw somebody in the window. Iâm not trying to be over dramatic, Iâm really not but he seems so sure so I drove to Birchâs house instead of taking him inâ
âwhat did Birch say?â
âHe isnât homeâ
âwell stop apologizing to me, Iâd rather you be safe than sorry when youâre alone there with my son. Iâll tell everyone I need to go back to my room for now and Iâll call Birch, Iâll make it a conference callâ The line was muted a few moments before Elowen was back and calling Birch who soon answered âHey, Iâm surprised to be hearing from you. I thought you were still gone. Are you home already?â
âyou arenât the first person to ask me that. Elowen is on the phone with us, sheâs at your place.â Mei explained again and he said âIâm almost home, just wait for me alright. Iâll take care of this Elowen, donât worryâ
âThank you Birch, thank you so much. Sometimes I donât know what Iâd do without you and Mei.â
âwell hopefully nothing is wrong, Bane is still inside isnât he? Iâm sure he would have taken care of an intruder huh Todâ
âyeahâ Tod said cheerfully. Elowen felt better hearing her son in good spirits and she especially felt better that Birch was helping Mei with the situation.
They sat in the driveway until Birch and he made sure they were okay before letting them into his home. âIâm going to go check Elowenâs place.â He said.
âJust be careful, if someoneâs in there, Elowen wouldnât want you getting hurt.â Mei replied.
âDonât worry, just lock the door and make yourself at home, Iâll be back before you know it.â
âCan Bane come over?â Tod asked.
âOf course, heâs always welcome.â
Birch left them there and climbed back into his car, calling Elowen as he pulled away. âAre they alright?â She asked when she answered.
âPerfectly fine, Iâm heading over to your place to check it out and get Bane.â
âMaybe you should call the police?â
âI will if thereâs anyone there, I promise. I have my gun in the car, so donât worry.â
âStill, stay safe and call me after.â
They got off the phone, Elowen a bundle of nerves Birch readying himself to check her home. Tod was young with an active imagination so this may be nothing at all but he wanted to go in there ready for anything. He was glad Mei had come over instead of trying to go in there herself just in case. Birch decided not to pull into the driveway. He parked in front of the neighbors house, slid his gun into his jeans and approached Elownes home. He could already hear their dog Bane going nuts which could mean there was somebody there or it could be the animals frustration that he had seen Mei come home and leave.
Either way Birch went to the front door and opened it with the spare key he had. Whenever Elowen took her son on vacation somewhere he would always be the one to come feed their dog since Mei went everywhere they went. He had expected the dog but Bane still startled Birch a little when he near instantly jumped up on him âhey, calm down buddyâ Birch whispered as he began to pet him âis there anybody else in there?â Bane ran in and Birch followed.
Once inside everything looked alright, he walked all through the home, checking every closet and under the beds. Nothing seemed amiss until he realized Bane had stayed in Meis room the entire time âis there something Iâm missing?â he asked the dog who continued to sit. Birch stood there a few moments before asking âare we in here for a reason buddy?â Bane moved around a little bit before sitting back down in the same spot he had been in when Birch entered. Birch decided maybe the window. He checked it, finding it unlocked.
He knew it was possible someone had tried it and found it open. Nothing seemed missing but as frequent as he came over he didnât live here so he could be missing something. In any case the house seemed safe for now. He locked the window, checked everywhere one more time then grabbed Banes leash before going back to his car with him. He started it up then called Elowen to update her.
âYou didnât find anyone?â
âJust an unlocked window. Iâm going to have Mei and Tod stay a couple of nights just to make sure, but I didnât see anything out of place, I mean as far as I know. Iâll be sure to go back and check again when theyâre ready to go home.â
âThank you so much Birch.â
âYou know itâs not a problem, just focus on work and Iâll hold down the fort.â
She gave a little laugh and it had him smiling. âIâll call them a little later then, youâre the best Birch.â
âYouâre pretty amazing yourself, talk to you later.â
Elowen smiled down at her phone a few moments before returning to the meeting that had apparently ended. She couldnât tell how her boss felt but he seemed to have gotten used to the fact that if her son needed her she was going to answer the phone or go to him and if he didnât like it sheâd find another job. It wasnât likely heâd fire her since sheâd risen so far up in the company and always worked hard but she still knew one day it might bite her in the butt. Sheâd figure it out if that ever happened though.
Tod ran to his dog when Birch returned home. âis everything okay at the house?â Mei asked. âYour window was unlocked but I couldnât find anybody inside. If youâd like to be sure you two are safe youâre welcome to stay here with me. I already told Elowen Iâd off so you donât need to check with herâ
âI suppose for at least tonight. Hopefully Tod was simply seeing thingsâ
âyeahâ Birch walked over to the boy and his dog âdo you have home work?â
âwhy donât you do it quick then maybe you and I can play some video gamesâ
âsure!â Birch looked over at Mei âIf youâd like Mei I can handle Tod the rest of the day. You can go out and have some fun. I saw some of your friends on Facebook had wanted you to go out with them but you had to remind them Elowen isnât homeâ
âare you sure?â
âI donât have any plansâ
âOkay, thank you, if you decide you need me to take over though just call me. Iâll come back as quickly as I can. I will also stop back at the house to pick up things for tonight and in the morningâ
âIâm sure it will be fine. You already checked the houseâ
âI donât know, Iâd hate for you to go back alone so soon and something happen.â
âwell, I guess we can sort it out when Iâm on the way backâ
âalright, have funâ Mei sent a text to Elowen. She knew it was most likely okay but she still wanted to be sure Elowen wouldnât mind her taking an unscheduled afternoon off.
She got a text back immediately so messaged her friends before going and getting ready. She gave Tod a hug goodnight and thanked Birch again before heading out. âWant pizza tonight, Tod?â Birch asked.
âYeah, can we have pineapples on half?â
âOf course.â Birch went ahead and ordered, getting bread sticks and cinnamon twists as well. He hung up when he had everything he wanted then locked his front door and went to quickly change out of his work clothes. Tod was still working on his homework when he came back, Bane curled up next to his chair barely glancing his way. âDo you need any help or anything?â
âMaybe a little. I donât understand this math problem.â
Birch pulled up a chair and began helping Tod. He took the time to make sure Tod knew what to do instead of just helping him quickly so they could play something. They finished his homework just before the pizza arrived which surprised Birch since normally it took much longer. He guessed it must be a slow evening for them. He paid the delivery man and brought the pizza to the table. He received a hug from Tod âIâm so happy Iâm hanging out with you tonight. Mei would of made something healthy againâ Birch chuckled âMei and your mother just want to make sure youâre healthy. I can spoil you because I know they take such good care of you at homeâ
âYeahâŚis my mom coming back soon?â
âHopefuly it wont be too much longerâ Tod smiled âyou miss her a lot too huhâ Birch fought down a blush âyeah, well, sheâs my friendâ Tods smile grew a little which could either be because he was now grabbing a slice of pizza or the nine year old realized the feelings he had for his mother. He wasnât sure it was appropriate to talk about with her son so he didnât try to. Hopefully it was that Tod realized and would approve if anything did finally happen between them. Birch was a straightforward guy but he still didnât know what happened with Tods father and worried she might be too wounded from her past to have any desire to be with anybody again.
As far as he knew she never dated and she was far too warm, along with beautiful for nobody to of asked. Elowen just worked, spent time with her son and the few friends she had. She never so much as mentioned a guy being attractive and given the fact nobody spoke of Tods father made him even more concerned with what may lay in her past. Weather he died or was an abusive prick or his worst fear had raped her and made her swear off dating the last thing he wanted was to let her know how much he wanted to be more in her life than a friend and have her push him away because she couldnât handle a romantic partner in her life. Sometimes he wanted to ask Mei. If anybody else knew she would but still, would Elowen get upset about him prying?
They got her settled in so late that evening he didnât ask when she returned to his house but when the next night came, his last chance to ask her without Elowen being around he took it as soon as Tod was sleeping âMei, care to have some wine with me and talk?â
âsounds serious, sureâ They went into his kitchen where he grabbed them each a glass then began looking through his wine âMy curiosity is peaked, whats up?â she asked as he looked. He sighed, looking over at her âI justâŚI wanted to ask if you knew anything about Tods fatherâ he couldnât tell if she was shocked, horrified or a mixture of both âwhy would you ask about that?â
âIâm sorry, I shouldnât have askedâ
âwhy are you asking? Someone was in Elowens home werenât they?â
âNo there wasnât, what would that have to do with Tods father?â
âBirch Iâve always liked you but you have to be straight with me. Why are you asking?â
âbecause I want to be with her, thats all. I just felt I should know first if shes been through anything traumatic I mean his father has never been mentioned one time and she doesnât date, she doesnât even mention being attracted to anyone. I Iâm sorry for askingâ Mei sighed âjesus you scared me Birch.â
âseriously, what is the deal with his father?â
âThe deal is heâs a monster, a literal monster and I never want to hear you ask about him ever again understand? Donât you dare hurt her or Tod that way. Elowen has already moved twice to keep him away from her son.â Mei shook her head, lifting her hands a moment in an obvious storm of emotions âI canât have you asking Elowen about this so lets get on your computer. I need to show you somethingâ He took her to his computer and he waited as she typed something into the search bar. What came up took him back and he asked what even he knew was a stupid question âwhat does this news article have to do with Tods fatherâ
âheâs the one who was doing this. Heâd kill people by slowly removing their organs or simply just playing around inside them, doing everything he could to also keep them alive as long as possibleâ Birch read the article then said in horror âbut this says he was never caughtâŚhowâ
âTods father is a literal monster. Elowen didnât know until she became pregnant. He finally told her, showed her what he was and she accepted that until one day she founds him hunched over a dead body, innards in hand. He confessed everything to her, begged her to stay and run off to a different world with him where they could start over but being Elowen she couldnât just act like he wasnât a murderer, even if he was claiming he would stop for her. She figures if he could have stopped for her and their son he would have before she caught himâ
âHe didnât take that wellâ
âHe tried to kill her Birch. She moved, changed hers and Tods names and when he found her she did it all over again. I promise you after that scare at the house if you bring up Tods father she will be gone and we will never see her againâŚI mean she might take me. I know all this because once we got close she told me and asked that if he ever did kill her that I do everything I can not to let him get his hands on Tod and corrupt or hurt himâ
âHow can she even stand to be friends with meâŚIâm not humanâ
âshe didnât suddenly become a racist Birch, sheâs changed her name twice and she cant be completely honest about her past. Damn it Birch sheâll kill me for saying this but she loves you too. Sheâs not an idiot, neither are Tod and I but she wont be with you if she cant be honest with you and the more people that know the more likely she is to be found by him again. Her mistake the first time she changed her name was getting romantically involved and telling the truth about herself. You and Elowen just cant be and you canât bring this upâ
âBut Iâll protect herâ
âYou canât promise that Birch. Sheâs fine being single, especially because that comes at no risk of having to uproot Tod now that hes old enough to realize he has to leave his entire life behind.â
âI can promise it, Mei, because I mean it. Iâm not letting him have either of them and Iâm not letting her just disappear.â He sighed. âSheâs become so important to me, itâs likeâŚitâs like finding a part of yourself you never knew you were missing.â
âYou all know what I can do, but he doesnât. If he steps into this house, he wonât be leaving. Iâll discuss everything with Elowen once I know she and Tod are safe. Doesnât she know what it would have felt like waking up one day to find her gone? I wonât let some creature ruin their lives again.â
Mei swallowed. âWhat are you going to do?â
âIâm a monster too, Mei, just a different kind. Iâll lure him out if I have too or hound him to the ends of the earth because if I donât then he wonât stop, heâll just keep chasing them until he has them cornered. Heâs a predator and a killer and he wonât stop.â He shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair. âEven if she hates me, I canât let her fight alone. I just canât.â
Meis phone going off startled her. She grabbed it âitâs ElowenâŚwellâŚI guess now I should say Nadjaâ
âNadjaâ Birch repeated. Mei nodded, a few tears streaming down her cheek âIâm so scared sheâs going to hate meâŚsheâs like a sister to me but I do want her safeâŚI donât want her to have to be afraid anymoreâ
âItâs all going to be okay, Iâll make sure of it. What is she sayingâ Mei wiped her face and checked her messages âsheâs just reminding me to pick her up at 10am tomorrowâ
âwe will all goâ
âsheâs going to know somethings up right when we get herâ
âI know and thats why I want to come tooâŚNadja thoughâŚthat sounds Danish right?â mei nodded again âyeah, her dad was from the Netherlandsâ
âthey died in a car accident when she was a teenager. She doesnât really have any family since her parents werenât close to anybody they were related to. One of her friends parents allowed her to come live with them so she didnât have to go to foster care or anything.â
âI see, so her parents did dieâ
âshâs lied to you as little as possible you know. Most everything you know about her is trueâ
âI believe thatâŚwhatâs Tods name?â
âwell his birth name is Cailean but even if she does get to a safe point in her life I think sheâll leave it as Tod. Itâs the name he knowsâ
âCailean and Nadjaâ Mei shifted uncomfortably âIâm going to go to bed okayâ she stood and Birch said âHeyâŚeven if sheâs mad at firstâŚwhen I get rid of her ex I know sheâll forgive youâ
âI hope youâre rightâ
When Elowen landed the next day she was elated to be home, especially knowing both Birch and Tod would be coming to the airport. She was practicly glowing with happiness until she saw Meis face âwhats wrong?â
âI know that face Meiâ Tod hugged his mother, taking her attention âMommyâ
âHey hadnsome, I missed you so muchâ
âI missed you too.â
âdid you have fun with Birch and Meiâ
âYeah!â he said excitedly. âgoodâ she stood up straight and looked over at Birch âYouâll have to let me thank you in some wayâ she hugged him and he gently held her until she pulled away âLets goâ Once in the car Elowen asked âDo you need some time off after that break in scare Mei? I understand if you do. You look so tenseâ
âwellâŚwe kind of need to talkâŚBirch and I figured we could take Tod out to buy a new toy set then weâd go home and talk while he plays in his roomâ
âyay!â Tod exclaimed gleefully.
âBirch, is everything alright?â Elowen asked as they browsed toys.
âI just want to wait until weâre back.â
She could see the determination on his face, could tell he was thinking hard about something. She was afraid of what that meant. Had she done something wrong? Had Mei? Surely it couldnât be Tod. She shook her head. He would have come out with it right away if that were the case, and Birch had never lost his temper with any of them. He was so patient and kind. She was surprised when he reached over and took her hand and gave her a small smile.
âDonât worry, itâs just important and not something I want to discuss in public.â
It felt so good to hold his hand it almost hurt. Once they were finally home with the toy open and her son shut in his room the three adults sat on her couch. Mei was sitting beside Elowen while Birch took up a seat across from her. âIâm sorry about the tension youâve felt about this talk. Your life has apparently had enough tension in it. Please, just listen to me before you react okay?â
âOkayâŚâ she looked at Mei again and in her heart she knew Birch knew. Hers sunk as she listened âI know that your ex is a murderer and that you caught him and hes one of those if I cant have you nobody will types but you donât have to be afraid anymore Nadja, you or Cailean. Iâm not human either and I can protect you. I promise I can. I refuse to lose you and Tod. Iâm happy to keep calling you guys whatever names you prefer but I love you and Mei says you love me tooâŚI get why you havenât gone out with me and I get why youâve kept stuff to yourself. I know youâre really only thinking of Tod but please donât run, allow me to love and protect youâ
He could tell she was processing âMeiâŚwhyâ Elowen finally said âhe started asking about Tods dad and I panickedâ It about broke him when she started to softly cry âwe could all die. I ever make the smallest blip on the radar as myself and he finds me.â
âI know IâŚIâm sorryâ
âIt;s okay, I donât hate you I promiseâ now Mei was bawling so Elowen hugged her a few moments before wiping her face again. She looked Birch in the eyes, seeing that same determination âyou really want to get involved in this Birch? You should think about if weâre really worth itâ
âI dont have to think about it. I knew the second she told me I wanted to protect you guys. I love both of you and Mei has become a good friend too. I canât even picture my life without youâ
âI just donât want anyone to get hurt. I just want him to leave me and Tod alone.â
âItâs okay, Elowen.â He moved to sit next to her and wrapped his arms around her. âIâm not letting him touch any of you. He can try, but heâll have to come through me.â
âI love you, I really do so much.â
âI love you too, so donât run away, itâd kill me.â
âThat means Iâll have to explain to Tod.â
He shook his head. âYou donât have to worry about that right now. You can explain everything to him when heâs a little older, I know heâll understand.â He kissed her forehead. âYouâre a wonderful mother, Elowen, you know that right?â She nodded and he leaned back and wiped the tears from her cheeks. âEverythingâs going to be alright.â
âI really like this name by the way, Elowen. Iâd just like you to keep calling us Elowen and Tod, even after Tod knowsâ
âalright, is it okay if we draw him out on purpose? Iâd rather just knock him out nowâ
âlets wait, I promised Tod Iâd let him go to summer camp. Iâd rather him be nowhere near me when my ex finds me. Iâll pay in cash so he wont have any leads as to where Tod is. He of course also doesnât know his current nameâ
âalright, Iâll take two months of bliss before I have to deal with himâ
âand youâre sure there was nobody here?â
âIâm sure, just a kids imagination. He always wants you home so badâ
âI know, I hate I ever have to go but I make such good money I hate to quit.â
âWell, if you ever feel like staying home, you two can always move in with me.â She opened her mouth and he shook his head. âYou donât have to worry about answering now. I just want you to know you have the freedom to move in whenever you want, if you ever want to. Mei too, I have plenty of room.â
âYouâre too kind, Birch.â
âItâs easy when itâs you.â
Even though she knew Birch wasnât far, Elowen still spent two months looking over her shoulder. She knew what her ex was capable of and she didnât want him surprising them. The only thing that kept her from going into a full panic and running was the fact she had Birch, Tod, and Mei with her. Tod was oblivious to the fact his biological father could be around and she appreciated Birch and Mei keeping it that way. She wanted him to be able to grow up happy, without having to move all the time. She knew it was unfair. Summer Camp seemed to come up far too quickly and she couldnât help but reiterate to Tod that he should never go off alone and that if anyone approached him he didnât know, he should run and get help.
âI promise mom, Iâll be so good. Thank you for letting me go this yearâ
âIâm sorry if Iâm over protective at timesâ Tod hugged her âyouâre a good mom. I know you just love meâ She watched him join the group of kids heâd be there with. Birch stood beside her, waiting patiently for Elowen to be ready to walk away. âHeâs going to have so much fun Elowenâ
âI know, this will just be the longest weâve ever been apart and Iâm nervous aboutâŚyou know.â Once she couldnât see Tod any longer she finally made herself walk away, knowing the counselors here were more than capable. When they got on the road Elowen said âI cant believe you even did this drive with meâ
âIt was funâ her heart trembled âyou knowâŚif we make it through my exâŚI think Iâll be ready to talk to Tod about us living with youâ
âYeah, youâve been so greatâŚplease donât let yourself get killedâ
âYouâve never seen me in action. Iâll be fine, Iâm not even worried Elowen. Weâll be great, especially if Mei got everything set up that I asked her to while we were driving Tod hereâ
âIâll text her and see how everything is goingâ It took about twenty minuets for her to text them back âNo problems here. Just drive safe you two. Iâm done and out with some friendsâ
Elowen was nervous as they headed back to her house. Birch had explained the best place to lure him out was somewhere that smelled mostly of her. It would mask his scent and allow him to ambush her ex. âRemember the plan?â He asked as he took her hand.
âYeah, just go out and sit in the backyard and try not to panic.â
âYou can do it, baby, I know you can. I wonât let him touch you, I just need him out in the open.â
âI know, I love you.â
âI love you too.â
She had to do this, especially for Tod. He was so young and he deserved a stable childhood. âWhere will you be again?â She asked when they finally pulled into her driveway.
âIn the tree. Iâm going to walk a block down and come in the back way.â
âOkay.â He leaned over and pressed a kiss to her lips. It helped her calm down and gave her the strength to let him leave her.
Elowen walked toward her home, trying not to shake as she entered. If he wasnât already there he would be soon. With the help of Meis friends multiple posts had been made about her and last time he had swooped in scarily fast. Elowen made a quick cup of coffee using her keurig, poured just a splash of creamer in it then went outside as though she just wanted to relax on her porch and enjoy the weather outside. âBirch wont let him hurt you. Itâs going to be okayâ she told herself, now looking at her phone. Her min wasnât really registering anything on it but she wanted to look busy.
Birch had gone through so much trouble getting her home ready for this set up. She didnât want her ex to get wise to the fact she was waiting and make Birch take bigger risks later. Elowen could still see that body, those eyes, all that blood. She was getting sick to her stomach so tried to actually look at her Facebook. She knocked over her coffee she was so startled when she heard his heavy breathing. She looked up, a scream caught in her throat she was so terrified.
Her ex was about to say something when what she guessed was Birch.ran long claws quickly across his throat, causing blood to gush. He was giant now, standing at least ten foot tall and his body, what on earth was he? His head resembled some sort of bird, maybe a rooster. As Birch wrapped his long tail around him and slammed him into the yard she could see wins and jesus how long was that tail. Her thoughts were all over the place. She was shocked when he ex was still able to shift, not quite gone yet.
Birch hissed as he attacked, claws slicing into the infuriated monster. The creature tried many times to get past him, wanting Elowen more than he wanted to save himself. He could hear Elowenâs racing heart and knew this must be terrifying for her. The monsterâs nails cut him and he drove forward, snapping his teeth down on its throat. The monster thrashed in his grasp, scraping at him with his claws as he tried to free himself. He squeezed harder, feeling the crunch of bone and cartilage as he crushed the monsterâs throat and broke his neck. He didnât let go until his body went limp, then he let it drop to the ground.
He shifted back and turned to Elowen just as she slammed into him, her arms wrapping tightly around him. She started crying and he held her tightly, doing his best to comfort her. âItâs okay now, baby, everythingâs okay.â
Elowen looked past him at her ex. His body had shifted back and it was hard to believe it was really him. For a moment, she could almost see who he had been before everything and she briefly wondered what could have made him into a monster. âIs he really dead?â She asked. âIs it really over?â
âYes, youâre safe now, you and Tod and Mei.â
She started crying again and he understood. He had just killed somebody in front of her and not just anybody. Somebody she had once loved, someone she shared a child with before she found out he had been the one killing people where they lived. Even though he had intended to kill her too, the shock of his death and the fact he was dead at all had to be hard. âlet me get you inside.â He picked her up and took her to the sofa since it was nearest. âlet me handle calling the police. Want me to turn the tv on?ââ
âNo, they will come right away and Iâll have to talk to them too. I want to make sure they know everything so you dont end up in jailâ
âI have his claw marks on me and with dna they will tie him to the murders. Heâs also on your property when you havenât been together for some time. The police will believe us honeyâ he hated how stressed she now looked but he was right, calling the police is what they should do. Everything only took a few days to sort out before they were completely off the hook with the police. Elowen couldnât believe she could actually have a normal life now and an amazingly happy one at that. Birch was such a good man and had more than proven his devotion to her and Tod. She knew she was lucky in so many ways. Lucky to have survived her ex and lucky to find such a brave, amazing man to share the rest of her life with.
~ The End
She was beginning to think she needed to call her parents. Her fiance was getting stranger and stranger by the week. A couple months ago she had returned from work to find their home ransacked and her fiance, who should have been home, missing. She called the police but he showed up by himself a few days later. Haggard but not hospital bad off. She had still wanted him to get checked out but he refused, saying he just wanted to be home after everything he had been through.
Her biggest red flag was his story would change ever so sightly when he talked about what happened. That didnât tend to happen with true stories. Sure, given time your memory would fail you but this was only months ago. Another red flag that was bothering her was sex. It was weird, different, like she was making love to a different person. He had had a life changing experience but she had never heard of one changing someone like that. Then there was the fact he could suddenly cook. He had tried here and there but his food was always inedible. Now his food was amazing.
All this and more was getting her to the point she wasnât sure it was her husband who had come home. The only thing stopping her from calling her parents sooner was how much she loved him. If he was still him she couldnât imagine how hurtful an accusation like that would be. He knew about her parents and her parents friends past, the crazy things her mother went through which had given her an open mind about the possibilities in the world but that probably wouldnât lessen the sting for him.
She sat there holding her cell, debating calling her mother. If it was just trauma then she would feel bad, but what if something serious was going on? What if someone had done something horrible to him? She felt herself choking up in her frustration and she finally went to her motherâs number and called. âKay?â
âHey mom, I need to talk to you.â
âIs everything alright?â
âI donât know.â
âWhatâs wrong honey?â
âItâsâŚitâs Shawn, heâŚâ she swallowed, âthereâs something going on andâŚâ The front door opening and Shawn walking in startled her. âHey, Iâll call you back.â She hung up before her mom could say anything else and stood when she saw Shawn clutching his head. âShawn? Are you alright?â
He shook his head. âI had to leave work, my head started throbbing.â He kicked off his shoes, letting out a groan. âI donât knowâŚit feels like my head is being split open.â She helped him over to the couch.
âLet me get you a Tylenol.â She started to move away and he grabbed her hand.
âJust sit with me please.â
âOkay.â She dropped down next to him.
âWere you on the phone?â
âYeah, talking to my mom.â
âSorry.â He clutched his head tighter. âMaybe that Tylenol was a good idea.â
âIâll be right backâ she hurried off,thankful to find it in the bathroom cabinet where it was supposed to be. She may be worried he wasnât himself but she had loved Shawn for years and she couldnât stand the thought of him being in pain. Kay soon brought him the medicine and water. He took both gratefully then asked for her to sit with him again. She did, even rubbing his back to provide some sort of comfort. When he regained composure he hugged her and she wrapped her arms around him. âI love you so much Kayâ He said those words with so much emotion she almost cried, hating how conflicted she was. Maybe she was wrong to question him but he was just so different. More had to of happened than heâs letting on or maybe heâs forgotten things.
Hannah had run outside to talk to Adam who was playing football with his friends. âwhatâs up?â
âKay just gave me a really strange call about her husband. It was cut short, Iâm worriedâ
âwhat do you want to do?â
âI just feel like we should go there. I know itâs two hours but Iâm that worried about her. She sounded really upsetâ
âGo pack for us and Iâll say bye to the guysâ he gave her a long kiss and they parted. She heard their cars leave as she packed and soon her husband was in the room with her âIâm sorryâ
âYou have nothing to worry about. They come over plentyâ
âIts just if something wrong I dont want to wait until sheâs already in some sort of dangerâŚI wish she hadnât moved so far awayâ
âI would have moved anywhere for youâ he kissed her head then continued âShawn already had a good job and home where he lived. It made sense. Weâll go drop in on them and make sure all is well. We were over due for a visit anywayâ
Shawnâs headache had started to subside, but he was still in pain and it scared Kay to the point that she insisted they go to the hospital. âNo, please, Iâll be fine.â He said.
She ran her fingers through his hair, trying to comfort him. âWhy not?â
âIâŚâ he looked so confused, âI donât know, I just canât.â
âAlright, we wonât go.â
âCan you at least tell me how it started?â
He nodded. âI was just sitting there working on my computer and then it was like everything justâŚI donât know like I was suddenly overwhelmed by everything.â
âWhat do you mean?â
âJust everything, sound, light, smells, everything. My head felt like someone had hit me with a bat or something. I donât know, Iâm sorry.â
âItâs okay.â He shook his head. âHey, itâs going to be okay. Why donât I help you to bed then make you something to eat.â
âI donât think I could.â
âIt might help.â
âOkay, Iâll try.â
She paused then asked a question she felt might be ill timed but she had to ask again âShawnâŚhave you really told me everything you remember? I meanâŚto still be having so many problems and for you still to be so against being looked atâŚare you scared of doctors now orâ she stopped there, not sure of what else to suggest. He looked her in the eyes and she hated all the pain that dwelled within them âI love you Kayâ he could see her disappointment âI love you too, Iâm sorry, you donât feel good and Iâm pressuring youâ
âNoâŚitâs okayâ she got up and offered her hand to help him off the couch. He took it but instead of walking he hugged her, repeating what he said before âI love you Kayâ she pulled out of it and tugged him in the direction of their room âyou should really lay downâ He followed her, settling into their bed without protest. She left the room to see what they had in their kitchen.
Shawn didnât realize he had dozed off until he jerked awake a few minutes later. He knew it hadnât been long because Kay hadnât returned and he could smell something cooking downstairs. He lay there in the darkness, his heart pounding in his chest. He hated he couldnât remember anything but the flashes and nightmares. It was never anything truly coherent, but he knew something awful had happened, he could feel it. Every time she mentioned the hospital every part of his being tensed, forcing him to reject being examined. He could see she was suspicious and he didnât blame her. The thought that he wasnât him was terrifying. âStop it.â He said it out loud. âYou canât think like that.â
Kay sighed as she cooked, her heart aching for Shawn, for how truly scared and distraught he obviously was. She wished she could read his mind like her uncle Eric, then maybe she could help him, but all she could do was speculate and none of it was good. She realized as she cooked that she had practically hung up on her mother and quickly grabbed her phone to call her back and apologize. âWeâre on our way over honey.â Hannah said when she picked up.
âMom, itâs fine, I think I was just overreacting.â
âYou and I both know that isnât true. Weâll be over soon and weâll figure everything out then.â
She hated she had worried her parents so much. âOkay, love you, just stay safe.â
âwe will, your father has only been in one accident in his lifeâ Hannah smiled over at her husband Adam. No matter what the situation was it always brought at least a small smile to allude to the night Adam hit her with his car. It was what brought them together. If he hadnât she may have been caught or worse, at least worse to her, she may have never met her husband and had this wonderful family with him. He looked a little embarrassed especially when she hung up with their daughter âmay I remind you I manged to slow down to ten miles an hour before I hit you?â Hannah laughed then kissed his cheek âI thought the situation needed a little teasing in it. Iâm so stressedâ
âdonât be, weâll figure this out. Shawn loves Kay, I know he does. I would have raised hell if he had tried to move her so far away if I didnât feel like heâd do anything for her. If something has replaced Shawn we will find the real Shawn and if something is simply just wrong with Shawn weâll figure that out. Maybe its more scientist crap. Maybe heâs so different because heâs not human any longer.â
âyou mean like a wolf or vampire?â
âYeah I mean, humans have been changed many times beforeâ
âwhy would something change him then give him backâ
âhave you forgotten how crazy living forever makes some beings? Who knowsâ
Kay switched off the burners and plated the food then headed to their room to get Shawn. She was glad to see he was sleeping, but the moment she dropped down on the bed next to him, he woke, his eyes darting around before settling on her. âKay? Is everything alright?â
âYeah, foodâs ready.â She brushed her fingers through his hair. âDo you want to come eat with me or do you want me to bring it to you?â
âIâll come eat with you.â
âAre you sure?â
âYeah, I want to.â
He pushed the blanket back and sat up, feeling a little dizzy. âYou okay?â
âJust dizzy, but better than I was.â He pulled her into a hug. âSorry for everything, for scaring you and just everything.â
âItâs okay, itâs not your fault.â She pulled back, giving him a smile. âCome on, letâs eat.â
He was getting more and more concerned that he was loseing her. She was saying everything was okay but he knew it wasnât. He knew if he could just make himself go to the hospital sheâd be more comfortable but he couldnât. âwhen Iâm feeling better can we do something together Kay? We havenât really left the house except for groceries and work since I was abductedâ
âYeahâŚthough, my parents are comingâ
âIâm sorry, I know we normally run these things by eachotherâ He kissed her hand âItâs okayâ He looked so sad she felt even worse than she had this morning. This was Shawn, she decided right then and there this was Shawn and she was going to quit having doubts. She needed to be stronger about all this because he needed her to be the rock right now in their relationship. Once they were standing they hugged again, both struggling with their emotions.
âThis looks really good.â Shawn said once they were sitting together in the kitchen. He still wasnât hungry, but he took a bite anyway. He had always loved Kayâs cooking.
âAny good?â She asked.
âVery, thank you.â
âYou know, if you want, we could go on a walk after. I can just text my mom and let her know.â
âOkay, sounds good.â
She reached over and took his hand, giving it a squeeze. âEverythingâs going to be okay, Shawn. I love you.â
âI love you too, I really do, more than you know.â He cleaned his plate even though his stomach was in knots, not wanting to worry her anymore than he already had, then helped her clean up. They got ready to go out, Kay sending her mom a message to call if they showed up while they were gone.
âYou ready, baby?â Kay asked.
They decided just to start walking down the road so they wouldnât be too far away when her parents arrived. They shared a beautiful home in a large neighborhood. They could walk for at least twenty minutes before they were even out of it. It wasnât so much that there were a lot of homes, there was just a lot of space between homes. When she had moved here for him this was their compromise. She wasnât used to having close neighbors and he wasnât really for country living but she was fine like this. Kay just needed to feel like she had some privacy.
âIâm really happy weâre doing this Kayâ
âwe shouldnât stay locked up in our home andâŚwell I shouldnât be as distant as I get at timesâ
âI know youâre dealing withâŚwellâŚme as best you canâ
âShawn IâŚIâm sorry.â
âLets talk about something happyâ
âthat new show youâve been watching, tell me about whats going onâ
âWell, itâs been sad.â
âIâm sorry, did one of your favorite characters die?â
âNo, just the characters are going through a lot emotionally and the actors are so good it makes me cry.â
He actually cracked a smile. âMaybe Iâll have to start cuddling you while you watch it.â
She nudged him. âSo mean.â
âIâll be sure to bring the tissues.â They laughed together and in that moment everything felt normal. He pulled her closer and pressed a kiss to her temple. âI love you.â
âI love you too.â She continued talking about her show, happy that he seemed at least a little at ease, that he was actually smiling and looking happy, even if she could still see a lingering sadness. She knew that was her fault and she hoped she could make it up to him.
Shawn allowed himself to become fully engrossed in this conversation with Kay. It felt so normal, like they were getting back to where they were. It was when he started to notice a steady thudding sound that he realized something was wrong. It had been the same at work, like a dull thumping that became louder and louder and he could smell everything, the grass, the flowers, Kayâs shampoo. He stopped dead in his tracks and brought his hands up, trying to block out the sound. âShawn? Baby are you okay?â
âItâs happening again, itâs so loud.â He tried to pinpoint it and realized it was coming from Kay.
âItâs okay, letâs get back home.â He looked so panicked and upset. âCome on.â
ânoâŚIâ all the noise was making it hard for him to talk, he couldnât think over it. âItâs okay, weâll walk another time. I wont be upset, I promiseâ
âIâm sorryâ she tugged him back toward their home, her heart beating faster out of worry. They werenât inside long when her parents showed up. They both heard them pull up in the driveway. âWhy donât you go lay back down. Make sure to refill your glass of water firstâ
âokayâŚIâll come out when I feel a bit betterâ She kissed him âyou donât have to come back out tonight okayâ
âI donât want to be weirdâ
âYouâre fine, someone kidnapped you and abused you Shawn. My parents will understandâ He finally went over to the sink, refilled his water then went to their room to lay down until everything stopped being so loud.
Kay received a hug from her mother the moment she opened the door and she could tell she was relieved to find her safe. âIâm okay mom.â She let them in then hugged her dad.
âI know, Iâm sorry we decided to come over uninvited, but the way you hung up worried me.â
âItâs okay, Iâm actually really glad youâre here.â
âWhereâs Shawn?â Her father asked.
âIn bed.â She sighed. âHeâs been having episodes.â They went and sat in the living room together, Hannah on one side of her and Adam on the other.
âWhat do you mean?â Hannah asked.
âHe came home from work today saying he was sitting there and all of a sudden his senses were overwhelmed. It happened again while we were out. Iâm scared and heâs scared and I just donât know what to do. He doesnât remember anything, but whatever happened to him must have been bad. Heâs also picked up cooking, which I wouldnât usually complain, but itâs not something he was good at.â
âDid you try getting him to go to the hospital?â
âHe wonât go, heâs terrified.â
âIf Eric were closer, we could get him to come over, he might be able to pick something up.â Adam said. He hated how worried his little girl looked.
âI couldnât bother Uncle Eric as wellâŚâ
âYou just want to know whatâs going on with your husband, anybody would. I can ask him, it never hurts to ask.â Before she could protest any more Adam was already calling. Hannah now spoke âweâre all over due for a get together. You two donât visit enoughâ
âShawn just works so muchâ
âHowâs Meredith? Weâve only spoken on the phone once since she started college. I always feel like Iâm going to call at a bad timeâ
âItâs an adjustment. High School was so easy for her she likes having a challengeâ
âGosh, we all need to see eachother more.â Adam was already off the phone âthat was quickâ Kay was the first to note. Adam responded with âhe wanted to help just like I knew he wouldâ
âwell let me go up and talk to my husband. I donât want to surprise him againâ
Shawn was curled up under the blankets when Kay came in, her presence heralded by that same thumping sound. âShawn?â She said it so softly as she crossed over to him and sat down. Her hand rested on his side and he pushed the blankets down.
âHey beautiful.â He answered, his pain evident in his voice.
âHas it stopped?â
âNo, I can hear something coming from you.â
âWhat do you mean?â
âLikeâŚlike a thumping sound.â
Kay brushed her fingers over his temple and let them run through his hair as she sat there and thought of what it could be. âDoes it sound like a drum?â She asked as a thought dawned on her.
âShawn, I think itâs my heart.â
He shook his head. âThatâsâŚthatâs crazy.â
âBut itâs possible.â She bent down and kiss his cheek. âEricâs coming over to help.â
âYeah, maybe heâll be able to pick something up from your thoughts. Is that okay?â
âYeah, sorry, my head just hurts.â
âI wish I didnât make it worseâ
âYou make it better tooâŚIâd rather have you with meâŚthe last thing I want is to alienate you Kayâ His words held so much emotion she had to lean down and kiss him. Kay hugged Shawn gently as she said âIâm not going anywhere. Iâm really sorry I havenât been taking this betterâ
âIâm not who you married anymoreâŚthereâs something wrong with meâ
âNot wrong, just something we need to learn how to handleâ
âYou really think I can get used to thisâ
âIâm sure you can, Iâm even more sure there has got to be a way for you to control all thisâ He let out a shakey breath as he got up so he could give her a quick kiss âI really do love you Kayâ
âI know you do, you donât have to keep reminding me Shawnâ
âI do, what ifâŚâ
âThereâs no what if, Shawn, Iâm not going anywhere and Iâm sorry I made you think for a second I would. I love you so much and I weâre going to get through this.â
Shawn swallowed the lump forming in his throat as he nodded. âYou should go visit with your parents.â
âAre you going to be okay without me?â
âYeah, go ahead.â
âCall me if that changes.â
She gave him another kiss and waited until he had settled back into bed before leaving him to spend time with her parents. âHow is he?â Hannah asked.
âHis head hurts and he can apparently hear my heart beating.â
âThat sounds like heightened senses.â Adam said.
âDo you know what could have caused it?â
âA lot of things. Vampires, werewolves, some sort of experiment, it could be anything. You said he doesnât want to go to the hospital, could be the last one.â
Hannah nodded. âYou know what happened to me, sweetie, those places are awful.â
âI hope he hasnât been through something like that.â
âwell if he has I can help him come to terms with itâ Hannah said, even happier she had just come. They caught Kay up about their own life to help distract her as they waited on Eric. When Eric arrived he was alone so he explained âwe were babysitting our grandchildren. Ivy is going to come along in a few days if Iâm still hereâ
âOh yeah Christopher and Shena are on that cruiseâ Adam said as Kays heart sunk âIâm so sorryâ he waved her off âwe see our grandchildren all the time. Plus Ivy can handle them on her own. Sheâs probably happy she doesnât have to share with me nowâ he said with almost a chuckle. He looked around âwhere is Shawn?â
âresting, he was just laying down but he may have fallen asleepâ
âthats fine, weâll work on this in the morning thenâ
âBoth the guests rooms are ready if everyone is tiredâ
âwill you be able to rest honey? Iâll stay upâ Hannah asked her daughter who answered âyeah, Iâll be fine, please, Iâm so grateful you all came. Get restâ Kay waited until her parents and Uncle were settled before getting into bed herself. She wanted to text Ivy, to thank her and apologize at the same time but she didnât want to wake the children if she had gotten them down.
Shawn woke the next morning, his headache gone, the only noise Kayâs soft breathing. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into him, burying his nose in her neck as she woke. âShawn? You alright?â
âYeah, just wanted to hold you.â
She wrapped her arms around him and ran her fingers through his hair. âHow are you feeling?â
âBetter. Is Eric here?â
âYeah, but he wanted to let you sleep.â She kissed the top of his head. âWant to help me make breakfast?â
âCan we shower first?â
âOf course, baby.â
They got out of bed and grabbed clean clothes then jumped in the shower together. Most of their time was spent with Shawn kissing and cuddling Kay and Kay in turn getting him to smile and laugh as she teased him. He reveled in these normal moments and almost didnât want to get out of the shower. Kay coaxed him into getting clean and then finally out of the shower, not wanting to leave her family without breakfast and knew they needed to work on finding out what was happening to him.
âKay?â Shaw grabbed her hand as she went to open their bedroom door.
âIf something bad happened, if Iâm not ShawnâŚIâŚâ He swallowed the lump in his throat and squeezed her hand. âIf Iâm not ShawnâŚâ
âHey, thatâs enough of that.â She wrapped her arms around him and he clung tightly to her. âYouâre Shawn, my Shawn, no matter what. Even if something awful happened, weâll get through it, I promise.â
She allowed him to stand there holding her as long as he needed, keeping her arms tight around him so he could feel how much she loved him. When they left their room Kay noticed her family all outside on their porch and opened the door âHey, weâre going to make some breakfast. Are you guys hungry?â
âYeah, we wanted to wait on you tooâ Hannah said then Adam added âsince heâs having trouble with over sensitivity to sound we were worried weâd interrupt your restâ
âthank youâ Shawn said behind her, drawing their attention âgood morningâ Hannah got up, kissing her daughters cheek while she passed then hugging Shawn, knowing he probably needed reassurance from them they didnât feel weird about him now. He gratefully hugged his mother in law back then said âKay and I have breakfast. Iâm actually really good at cooking nowâ
As he and Kay cooked breakfast together, Eric allowed himself to slip into Shawnâs mind. He delved past his troubled thoughts about Kay and his worries that he may not be Shawn, searching for any memory of what had happened to him. Broken fragments met him, flashes of a strange place and his fear and confusion. There were memories of his trek back home, his panicked run through dark woods, but not knowing why he was there. He pulled his mind away and chatted with everyone while they finished cooking.
âMom, dad could you set the table? Uncle Eric, do you mind pouring everyone some coffee?â
They all moved to do as she asked and then she and Shawn brought the food over once they were done and filled everyoneâs plates. âUm, so how are we going to do this?â Shawn asked once he was seated.
âIâve already looked a little and I couldnât find much about where you were taken.â Eric answered.
âOh, I see.â
âThat doesnât mean I wonât find something. Once weâre finished here, Iâd like to ask you a few questions to see if maybe they bring anything up. Your memories are fragmented because youâre scared of them, but maybe if I prompt them, Iâll see something.â
âYour mind just reacts to certain questions so donât worry. I should see something. Even if it doesnât work at first we can try this every day until it doesâŚ We wont give up on you. Youâve been too good to our Kayâ Kay gave his leg a reassuring squeeze then Kays family started more normal conversation so Shawn could finish his breakfast without having to think about what happened to them.
âBefore you two woke up we were talking about your brother Braydenâ Hannah said, looking at Kay âOh, what about him? I feel so behind on all three of my siblings livesâ
âwell heâs back in college, heâs decided to finish.â
âIâm so relieved to hear thatâŚit was kind of soul crushing when he dropped out because his girlfriend broke up with him. Though I understood where he was coming from. He has to see her all the time at school.â
âheâs had some time to heal from it and we pointed out to him heâll now be two years behind her in classes so they shouldnât have to see much of eachother nowâ
âI didnât think of that, that is a plus.â
âWeâre going to have to find the time to get everyone together. I miss them and you guys.â Kay said.
âWe miss you too, but we understand. Life happens and you have to deal with it before you can do anything else.â Hannah reassured her.
Shawn became nervous when they all finished eating and he helped Kay clean up. He was scared of what Eric might find, but he needed to know. They all when and sat down in the living room and Shawn took a deep breath. âYou ready?â Eric asked.
âYeah, I mean no, but yes, I need to do this.â
âI want you to do something for me then, close your eyes and just relax.â
âOkay.â Kay took his hand and he closed his eyes and tried to make himself loosen up.
He was glad she did, he really needed her right now. He didnât know if he could handle all this without her. He went from being a completely normal guy with a life as simple as you could dream to everything changing into confusion, stress and unknown. Eric decided to start with the break in to try and get his mind rolling through everything that happened. âLets start with Kay driving away to head to work. What was the first thing you did?â
âI promised myself I was going to finish that book I had been trying to read for a few monthsâŚI put some water on the stove so I could have some hot tea while I readâŚI had just gone into the kitchen to turn the stove off when I heard someone trying to doorknob. They were trying to open it so violently. I turned the stove off and ran to grab my phone to call 911. It couldnâ have been Kay, she has keys and anybody we knew would have just knocked. I just knew there were bad people at the doorâ
Shawns heart rate was already spiking and he held on to Kays hand a little tighter. She rubbed his arm and Eric prompted âand what else, when they came in. What did they look likeâ What they looked like had been one of the areas Shawn had been struggling with so Eric hoped heâd be able to see them. Their faces came into view in Erics mind. It had been in there, it just took someone like Eric to grab the picture. âlets stop a second while I see them clearlyâ he announced. Eric wrote down all the details he could so they could give it to the police and have it for themselves. It wouldnât be the first time this family played detective. You couldnât always wait for the cops, not if you were anxious for answers. Often police departments had far too much on their plates.
âAlright, now did they say anything?â
âNo, but I kept asking them what they wanted andâŚâ
âYou threw hot water in one of their faces. You thought if you blinded at least one you would have a chance.â
âThen you were knocked unconscious.â
âThe next thing I knew, I was back home.â
Eric nodded. âOkay, but letâs go back. You had been taken somewhere else, Iâve seen little flashes of it. Try remembering the room you were kept in and who might have visited you there.â
âIâŚâ Shawn squeezed Kayâs hand. âThere wasâŚsomeone.â He started breathing hard, his heart thumping hard in his chest. He could tell the memory scared Shawn and he focused on every detail, not wanting to miss anything. He watched from Shawnâs point of view as the two men who had taken him came into the room he had been locked in, followed by another. This was the man who terrified Shawn.
âWhat did he do Shawn?â Eric asked. âWhy are you afraid of going to the hospital?â
âHeâŚheâŚâ he shook his head. âI donât know, I canât remember, itâs there, butâŚâ
The memories were confusing and disjointed, but Eric caught enough. Shawn strapped to a table, the man grinning at him with sharp canines. The man forcing Shawn to drink his blood then injecting him with chemicals that tore his genetic makeup apart and remodeled it. He knew that pain all too well, they all did. Shawn dying as the man poisoned him, wanting to test his resilience. âItâs okay Shawn, letâs get away from that.â He had to force the anger out of his voice. He asked him about running through the woods, wanting an idea of where he had come from, if he had escaped or if they had let him go. A lot of the memories were jumbled from panic and the need to forget, but he received enough information that he didnât have to push him too much.
âweâre done Shawnâ Eric said sadly and Shawn grabbed onto Kay, holding her tightly to him as Eric spoke again âhe isnât human any longer. Iâm not sure yet precisely what but thats what is so different with Shawn. They also injected him with many chemicals so even once we discover what he is there will be much more for him to come to terms with. Beyond what heâl inherit from the blood of that being he might gain extra powers, powers like we all have Kayâ Kay kissed Shawn and his lips trembled against hers âI love you, Iâm so sorryâ Eric stood and looked over at Adam and Hannah âwe should go, Iâve seen where he came from and what these beings look likeâ
âShouldnât I help?â Shawn asked, letting go of Kay. Eric shook his head âKay doesnât have any abilities and I donât want her left alone. Beyond that you havenât come to terms with your own yet. Iâd rather have us help you than you try to summon things you dont know about in a fight. We three are more than capable. Please stay with Kayâ Shawn nodded. pulling Kay into him again. It had been hard having those memories pulled from him but atleast Kay could know for sure now he was being completely honest and those horrible men could be stopped.
Eric set his cellphone on the table âIf Ivy calls me update her pleaseâ
They left and Shawn dropped his head onto Kayâs shoulder. She ran her fingers through his hair, helping to ease the tension out of his body. âAre you okay?â She asked softly.
âNo, not really.â He swallowed. âI donât know what to do or think. I mean at least Iâm not a clone right?â
âShawn, itâs okay to be upset.â
He sighed. âI know.â
âI know Iâve already said it, but Iâm sorry about being so distant. I should have been more supportive of you, I should have been helping you through this.â
âI understand Kay, you were scared too.â He lifted his head and kissed her. âI love you and hopefully we can get back to normal, at least mostly normal.â
âIâm just glad my family came. I should have called them soonerâŚI was so worried to voice my concernsâŚI didnât want to hurt you Shawn but I guess I was doing that anyway by being weirdâ
âwe donât have to talk about that ever again. Just let me hold youâ Eric, Hannah and Adam were all in Erics truck, driving in the direction Shawn had come home. Adam and Hannah rode silently, knowing Eric was concentrating on the memories he saw in Shawns head. They stopped the truck in front of some woods âHe really had to run all that way?â Hannah asked sadly âYeah, Iâd drive through here but I donât want to get it stuck. The trees get thick unless that was just a panicked mind jumbling thingsâ
Ivy calling woke Kay, she didnât remember even getting close to sleep. Shawn let her go enough to let her answer âHey Ivy, sorry, Shawn and I have Erics phoneâ
âOh, itâs alright, howâre things going?â
âHe managed to see some things about what happened to Shawn. He left with my parentsâ
âjust tell him to call me as soon as he gets back.â
“Howâre you two?â
âreeling from everything.â
âIâll let you two go back to what you were doing. Our son and his wife are coming back tomorrow morning so Iâll see you soon.â
âAlright, love you and tell everyone I love them too.â
âWill do sweetie.â They hung up and Kay put Ericâs phone back and snuggled back into Shawn.
âIs everything alright?â Shawn asked.
âYeah, she just wanted to talk to Eric.â She let out a little sigh. âHow are you?â
Kay lifted her head to look at him. âTalk to me.â
âKnowing what happened, makes it seem like Iâve beenâŚviolated I guess. Iâm not scared of you or anything, never you, but itâs changed everything about me and I donât know what to do about it.â
âIâm sure everyone will help you get a handle on your new abilities as you discover them and you know Iâll be here no matter what.â
âI know, Iâm not trying to sound depressed or anything.â
âI know, donât worry about it.â
He reached up and tucked some hair behind her ear. âYouâre so beautiful Kay, so beautiful and perfect and Iâm kind of relieved I finally know what happened.â
âI donât know why I didnât think of Eric soonerâ
âprobably because we really havenât been as involved with your family as we should beâ
When Eric, Hannah and Adam managed to locate the facility that had taken Shawn they barely had time to be horrified before bullets started flying their way. They dodged, all three having incredible speed. âwe should have been more carefulâ Eric projected into their minds. âHannah, run the other way and call the police, help them find this place. They can be our backup if we havenât gotten to the leader before they get hereâ Hannah knew this wasnât the time to argue with her husband. She ran back the way they came, opening her phone and dialing 911.
Eric thought Adam had made a wise decision. Her worry over being a near a place like this again had hung thick in the air. She had suffered far worse than even he, Ivy or Shawn had because her captors had been raping her as well. They might need the help and they didnât want Hannah getting any more emotional scars either or to have her nightmares return.
Eric expanded his mind as far as he could, trying to pinpoint the one who had harmed Shawn. âTen men, three of them scientists.â He said to Adam.
âIs the man who had Shawn taken one of them?â
âYes, heâs so calm and, as I saw, not human. Touch his mind.â
Adam let his own thoughts move out. âI see and the rest are all human.â
âWhat are you thinking?â
âTheyâre focused on us here. You go around that way, Iâll go around the other way and weâll meet in the middle to stop the guards out front. Once weâre inside, weâre going to have to move fast.â
âGot it. What do you want to do about the boss?â
âIf we can, force him to reveal what he did to Shawn. Right now, he has it buried deep.â
Dividing to conquer worked and the two were able to get inside where they seemed ill prepared to keep anybody out or in. That was how a very confused and incredibly scared Shawn was able to escape. With how long Shawns been gone Eric would have thought theyâd improve security but then again, maybe this thing liked his beings to escape. He could have some way of watching Shawn, the aftermath of what he did might be why he did it, some sort of show for him. In either case the being who turned Shawn now knew they were coming.
Hannah constantly looked around her as she waited for the police. She had first called 911 but now she was on the phone with an officer who had wanted to keep her on for updates incase some men came after her. âso you guys have handled locations like this before?â
ânot me but my husband and his family hasâ
âstill, we should have been informed. They cant just go attacking placesâ
âThese arenât normal places so please just get here.â
Eric and Adam probed the minds of the men inside. The two scientists that worked under the one who had changed Shawn were frantic, their minds racing with thoughts of what they had done to Shawn. They knew they were in danger and were trying to find a way out of it. Two of the leftover guards had memories of taking Shawn, of forcing him out of his home and to the facility. âThree guards left.â Eric said as they moved through the facility.
âThe scientists are trying to hide, thereâs a safe room.â Adam added.
âAll except him, heâs confident in his abilities and unafraid.â
The last three guards tried hunting them, but with their abilities to read the menâs minds, Eric and Adam managed to turn them into the hunted. They took them out easily and made sure to take their guns. The only thing the police would have to worry about is arresting them. They made their way through the facility, stopping once they found the room to the main scientists office. âHe knows weâre out here.â Adam whispered and Eric nodded. Eric grabbed the door hand, turned, and pushed it open while Adam pointed a gun at the man sitting behind the desk.
âa gun wont really do much against me Iâm afraid, even if you go for the head shot. That young man, heâs why you came right? You there, holding the gun. His mate is your daughter. I can tell. He should be grateful for what I did. I gave him a gift. A gift he didnât want but a gift all the sameâ
âYou donât get to scar someone and decide itâs a gift.â
âif he would have stayed I could have helped him learn how to control himselfâ
âand what did you want of him in return. Why?â Eric now asked. âBecause I can, there isnât a prison yet that can hold me, not a being Iâve ever faced that can stop me especially with the army Iâve been creating. I wont tell you how and try as you might you wont figure it out but I can now control Shawn whenever I want. From right here, if I wanted I could have him snap the neck of that little girl of yoursâ Adam shot him right between the eyes, hoping he was bluffing but the being just grinned âdidnât I just tell you I could have him kill her?â he sighed, seeming as if the wound in his head was merely an inconvenience.
âwalk away, you canât stop me and itâs the final chance Iâll give you. Annoy me further and Iâll have him kill his wife and come right back to meâ
âNot happening.â Adam said. âShawn wouldnât, even if you tortured him.â His instincts told him to run, to go and save his daughter, but he couldnât let this man go and do the same to someone else. He glanced at Eric, who nodded. âWeâre not letting you go.â
He shook his head. âHow cruel, choosing justice over your own child, itâs so unexpected, you surprise me.â He chuckled. âSuit yourself.â
Shawnâs sudden agonizing scream startled Kay. She very nearly dropped the glass of water in her hand and she quickly sat it down and ran to their room. He had fallen off the bed and was on his knees, clutching his head. His canines and nails had grown long and sharp, making him look like a wild animal. âShawn?â She came out of her shock and went to his side. âWhatâs going on?â
âGet out, get out of my head.â His voice came out more of a growl.
âShawn.â She grabbed his shoulders and he shoved her away.
âGet away from me, stay away.â
Kay crawled back over to him and he pounced on her, shoving her to the floor and pinning her wrists next to her head. His pupils were huge, nearly covering his entire iris and he gritted his teeth, his breathing labored as he fought not to hurt her. âShawn, itâs okay.â
âI canâtâŚI canâtâŚheâs telling me toâŚtoâŚâ
He dropped his head down next to hers. âIâm sorry, Iâm sorry.â She could feel him shaking and his fingers hurt her wrists, but she knew if she struggled, it might make things worse. âHeâs in my head.â
âFight it baby, whatever it is, whoever he is, fight it.â She wanted desperately to hug him, to show him everything was okay.
The man chuckled again âyouâre right, he is fighting me. Heâs fighting pretty hard toâ He still seemed like he was having fun. Suddenly Eric and Adam were kicked out of his mind, completely blocked from looking âlooks like Iâll have to take this family just a little more seriouslyâ Next thing Eric knew something metal and hard hit his head so hard he felt his neck pop before falling unconscious. Adam had no time to react before somehow this man had his gun. He fired every round that was left in his stomach âI gave you two a chance to walk away. Remember thatâ Adams first thought was Hannah, what if he caught up to her on the road. He called his wife, glad she picked up âIâm in the cop car babyâ
Adam couldnât speak, he couldnât think. âAdam?â
âHeâs fast, areâ it was so hard to talk but he did his best to force himself on âplease tell me some of those cops arenât humanâ
âI donât know, whats happened?â
âIve been shot and Eric has been knocked out. Heâs still breathingâ
âOh my godâ
Shawn now felt the being pulling him to leave, to come to him. That feeling was welcome to the one he had been fighting off before. He was able to let go of Kay and get off of her âShawn?â
âHe wants me to comeâ
âto whereâ Shawn was shaking again âI dont know but I know at the same time Iâ
âitâs okay Shawn, stay with me, pleaseâ
âwhat if he starts trying to make me hurt you againâ
âI love you, weâre in this life together no matter what. I know I was weird but I was worried like they had sent home some DoppelgĂ¤nger or something. Now that I know youâre still you weâre just as strong as before. I donât care what happens. I just want you to fight him and stay with meâ A tear slid down Shawns cheek and he hugged Kay. He either found the strength to ignore the beings call or the being gave up because he didnât feel the pull of anybody right now but his wife.
They didnât move from that spot until Hannah called them âwhats up?â
âyour dad and Eric are on their way to the hospital. Your dad was shot three times in the stomach and Eric has a pretty severe head wound.â
âOh my godâ
âthey are both alive though and thats what mattersâ
âwhatâs going on with you mom?â
âIâm still at the scene with the police. They wont let me come homeâ
âwhat do you mean they wont let youâ
âThey think we must know more than weâre sayingâ
âthey cant do that. Let me talk to someoneâ
âHoney, itâll be fineâ
âNo, its not fine to not let you go home or go to the hospital. Iâm calling a lawyer at leastâ
âthat might look weird and make them suspect us even more of having something to do with this placeâ Her mother said she had to go, another officer wanted to talk to her. âdamn it she hugn upâ Kay cursed and Shawn rubbed her back âDid I hear right? Your dads in the hospital and they wont let your mom leave?â
âwhat do you want to do?â
âI probably couldnât see dad yet even if I went to the hospital and with the lawyer I donât know how long they are going to try and keep momâ
âI think the limit is twenty four hours.â
âI dont care, Iâm getting her home. She must be a mess and those cops canât be helpingâ
âIâll help you find a lawyer then. Surely there has to be someone that can help right nowâ
Shawn searched for people on his phone while Kay used the laptop. She felt a knot in her throat the whole time, so worried about her dad and uncle, hoping they were both going to pull through. Shawn inhaled sharply and Kay looked up from what she was doing to see him staring off into space, his hand gripping his phone so hard his knuckles were white and the screen had cracked a little. âShawn?â She touched him and he jumped, breathing hard.
âSorry, heâs still calling me, Iâm sorry.â
Shawn looked down at his phone. âHoly shit.â He then looked at Kay, his eyes moving to her wrists. There was some faint bruising he hadnât noticed there. âI hurt you.â
âShawn, itâs alright, they donât even hurt.â She reached over and took his hand. âI love you, no matter what he tries to make you do, I will always love you.â
âI love you too.â
Kay looked back at the computer screen and stopped when she saw a recent news article talking about Jasper Bookchild and how he was at the forefront for preternatural rights. She had heard about him plenty, even watched him on the news from time to time. She knew his services were probably expensive, but it didnât matter. âI found someone Shawn.â She said and he looked over at the screen.
âDo you think heâll actually help us?â
âItâs worth a try.â
Kay called the number, reaching an assistant. She explained what was going on and that she needed someone to help her mother right now since the cops werenât letting her leave. âWe have many other very capable lawyers here at the firm. I mention this because heâs not in right now. I can reach out to him if you really want Jasper himself. This sounds like a case heâd be particularly interested in. Nothing works him up more than cops doing things they know they shouldnâtâ
âPlease try him, that lab is linked to some terrible things. I donât want them trying to lump my family in with the culpritsâ
âalright, whats the best number to reach you at?â Kay gave the woman her number and allowed her to hang up. Shawn hugged Kay âwhat can I do baby?â
âI dont know, I want to go and raise hell but with you struggling I donât want them getting any ideas about you too without a good lawyer present. I canât be alone right nowâ Not even half an hour had passed when Jasper called her back âMrs MacThom?â
âIâm on my way alright. They arenât keeping your mother. Iâll make sure she goes wherever she wants to and I plan to stick with you guys until this is all sorted out. Her husbands in the hospital for christs sake and they donât even live near you right?â
âToo many cops like to jump to conclusions.â He sounded incredibly irritated âafter I get your mom away and have a talk with them I want to hear more from you about your family and this situationâ
âIâm sorry youâve been put in this situationâ When Jasper made it to where they lived he found they had Hannah at the police station. It only made him angrier she was sobbing and asking them to let her call the hospital to check on her husband.
The men interrogating Hannah knew him immediately. He didnât even have to say anything before one of them was running to get their boss. âMr. Bookchild, so nice to see you.â The chief said, shaking his hand.
âMaybe youâd like to tell me why your underlings are spending their time questioning my client when sheâs not even a suspect.â
âShe was at the scene.â
âIs she or is she not the one who called to inform you that her husband and brother in law had entered the facility to find the ones responsible for kidnapping her daughterâs fiance?â
âWell yes, butâŚâ
âHas she been cooperating with you?â
âThen why is she being forced to stay here when her husband could be dying?â Hannah let out a little sob and Jasper wrapped an arm around her shoulders. âYouâre going to tell me that you truly believe that this woman is responsible for the attack on her family? You didnât even know you had a scientific facility in your backyard where people were being experimented on. Your officers are supposed to protect and serve, not scare the shit out of innocent women.â
âI want her released and I want someone guarding her family members, especially the young man Shawn and her daughter Kay. If you canât do your job, then I will call someone in to do it for you.â He let Hannah go so he could pull his wallet and hand the police chief one of his cards. âCall me when you have something substantial to add to whatâs going on.â
âlets go Hannahâ Jasper urged more gently. Hannah got up âI need to see how heâs doing, pleaseâ
âis your car still at the scene? Would you like me to get it first?â
âThats probably smart, that way if you need to leave me at the hospital I can manage myself.â Once they were in Jaspers car she asked âIs my daughter okay. I know sheâs who called you. She was so mad when I told her they were making me stayâ
âShe seems okay, sheâll be better once she knows I have you. Go ahead and call her, youâve got your cellphone?â
âI doâ she pulled it out of her pocket and let Kay know what was going on. They stayed on the phone until they arrived at the hospital. Hannah was surprised when Jasper got out with her âyouâre coming in?â
âIâm going to make sure someone fills you in on your husband or better, lets you into see him if heâs fit to be seenâ
âthank you so much Mr Bookchildâ
âplease, call me Jasper okay?â Even the people at the hospital knew him and quickly saw to it that Hannah knew everything about her husbands condition. It ended with âYou should be able to see him in about an hour but we canât promise. Surgery can be hard to timeâ
âJust please let me see him as soon as I canâ
âIâm going to be calling my client in an hour to check on thingsâ jasper added. Once the nurse walked off he said âdo you need anything before I leave you?â
âYouâve done plentyâŚreallyâ
âI canât imagine someone shooting me and then cops making my Stella sit and be questioned. Iâm just doing what Iâd want someone else to do for my wifeâ Hannah hugged him and Jasper hugged back, leaving right after to talk to Kay. Kay looked relieved to see him when she answered her door âYour mom is at the hospital. Iâll call her to make sure the doctors are cooperating if you give me her numberâ
âI know it by heartâ Jasper pulled out his phone and entered the number Kay rattled off.
âIs this Shawn?â He asked as he tucked his phone away.
âYes.â She went over to Shawn who stood up and shook Japserâs hand.
âThank you for coming.â He said.
âNo problem.â He looked Shawn over and took in his scent. âWhat can you tell me about the man who changed you?â
âUh, yes of course.â
âHow about I make us some tea.â Kay said. She didnât think sheâd actually be getting any sort of sleep, not when that thing kept attacking Shawn.
âThank you.â Jasper said as he took a seat. He then turned to Shawn who swallowed. âIf it makes you uncomfortable, you donât have to.â
âItâs alright, itâs important. I donât know what he is, but Eric saw what he did to me. He fed me is blood then tortured me and forced chemicals into me, he killed me.â He swallowed again. âHeâs been whispering to me in my head, telling me to hurt Kay and come to him and I changed.â
âMy teeth and nails, my eyes. You can ask Kay, she saw everything.â
They kept discussing things with Jasper until he needed to check on Kays mother âIâm just about to go see him now. They said heâll be okay. Thank you so muchâ Once he got off the phone with her he called someone at his lawfirm and gave him the details. Jasper even explained what Shawn smelled like âlook into that for me. This thing is still messing with Shawn. If we can even figure out what he is Iâm sure we can at least keep him from controlling Shawnâ When he hungup Kay asked âwho was that?â
âsomeone thats been at the firm quite a few years. If you want to figure out what sort of creature someone is heâs the guy to ask. I donât know how he does it but no matter how obscure he figures it out for meâ
âis there anything else you need from us?â
âThen how much do we owe you?â He shook his head âLike I said, I heard about your mother and I did what Iâd want someone to do for my Stella. The cops around here have pissed me off enough Iâm looking forward to being around to yell at themâ
âare you sure?â
âsave your money for you guys. I have plentyâ Kay nearly hugged him. Kay really wanted to go to the hospital now but she was sure Shawn still wasnât up to being in one. She just told herself her mother was there and she couldnât help him anyway. There were capable doctors for that. A few days later the man Jasper called showed up at the door with Jasper who had been staying in a hotel nearby. âHey, Iâm EĂ˛saph MacPhĂ draig. I need to do something that we need to have a serious talk about firstâ
âUmâŚokay, come inâ Kay said as she moved. Once they were inside she called to her husband who came running âthey need to talk to usâ The group all sat and Eosaph set a syringe filled some orange liquid on the table which notably made Shawn nervous âI know a lots been done to you Shawn but you smell like a Daciandraco but they donât have the kind of abilities or resilience you have so either youâre actually some sort of mix or the chemicals he put into you altered you and he did similar to himself. If I inject you with this youâll shift, you dont even have to know how it just does it to you and if youâre multiple things youâre going to shift multiple times. I think itâs important to know what weâre dealing with. Is it okay if I inject you Shawn?â
Shawn swallowed. âIâŚâ
âYou donât have to, none of us will force you.â
He looked at Kay and she gave him a warm, encouraging smile as she took his hand. âNo, I need to, if I donât then Iâll never know.â
âIf at anytime you feel uncomfortable, let me know.â
Shawn nodded and held out his arm, a cold sweat rising on his skin. Eosaph gently took his arm and used his teeth to pull the cover off the needle. Shawn couldnât help but notice how big it was and he forced himself to sit still. He knew it was just his mind messing with him, it was just a needle and he was going to be fine. Eosaph glanced at him then pushed the needle into his vein. âYouâre doing so good baby.â Kay said as she rubbed his back.
Eosaph gently pressed the plunger and the orange liquid slid into his vein. Shawn didnât have time to react to the cool burning sensation that moved up his arm, his body beginning to change. He could hear his bones popping, could feel them reforming. His body grew, elongating, a muzzle pushing forth from his face, full of sharp teeth. âEasy, itâs okay.â Kayâs voice was so gentle and he squeezed his eyes shut, focusing only on her. He was panting by the time the change stopped and then he felt it again, his groan coming out as a growling chuff.
âThatâs not what I was expecting.â Eosaph said and Shawn opened his eyes. He looked down at his hands, surprised to find his skin an ashy grey, his fingernails long talons. He felt strange and he touched his arm. Stone. âThe man who did this is either half gargoyle or he used the genes on himself and Shawn.â
Shawn turned and looked at Kay, shocked at having changed twice. âIs it bad?â He asked, his voice coming out husky.
âYou look different, but not bad different, I promise.â She picked up her phone. âDo you want to see?â He nodded and she clicked on the camera then switch it to front view and held it up for him. Deep red eyes looked back at him from a grey face. His hair was more white than blonde and a pair of small horns stuck out of it. He touched his face, feeling the stone like texture. His body started to change again before he could fully grasp what he had become and he clung to Kay as he shifted back to himself. His body was exhausted and he breathed heavily, his skin drenched in sweat.
âThat explains the other manâs resilience and that means Shawn will have the same. Heâs practically impenetrable.â Eosaph said.
âThen how would we go about stopping the man who changed him?â Jasper asked.
âYou know Chthon,â He said as he put the syringe cap on and tucked it away. âAsk him to help you.â
âWhat about me? What do I do?â Shawn asked, his voice cracking a little.
âIâll give you all the information I have on what you are and will contact others of the same species so they can teach you how to control your abilities. I do want to let you know, that there are many misconceptions about gargoyles that other have. It shouldnât cause you any problems, but a few preternatural creatures may naturally avoid you.â
âIâm so sorry someone forced this upon you but once youâre used to your abilities you can live life just as you did beforeâ Jasper began talking after Eosaph âwhy dont we all just try to rest tonight and weâll make some calls in the morningâ
âtheres no way I can rest, Iâm so worried about my dad but thank you two. Can I do anything before you go back to your hotel?â
âNo, Iâd like to call my wife before it gets too late. I promise, Iâll call Chthon bright and earlyâ Eosaph stood âme too, rest if you can, both of you. Shawn should be exhausted but that was the only way. Honestly he should probably eat something. I can go grab you guys take out. Not even a question, what kind of take out should I go grab?â
Kay looked at her fiance âtaco bell?â
âyeah, get me a baha blast to drink and she likes that apple thing they have. For food we both get three soft tacos with what comes on themâ
âalright, Iâll be right backâ
âand Iâll see you guys tomorrowâ Jasper said as he also left. A month past and Kays father, along with Eric were doing incredibly well while Shawn was really taking to his new forms with the help he was getting from Jaspers contacts. Chthon turned out to be amazing, though they only saw him a brief time before he went out hunting the man responsible for her families pain. Now all for them to do was wait, wait and adjust to the new life they would be living together.
~ the end
Eira pulled her cloak tight around her as she moved slowly through the snow covered forest, shivering with every gust of wind. Snow clung to her and her feet and hands stung and ached with how cold they were. She was lost, she had to admit that to herself. The storm had blown through and she had gotten turned around in all the white. She stopped, her breath puffing out in clouds as she caught her breath. What was she going to do? Her mother was probably terrified.
âExcuse me miss?â Her heart leaped and she twisted around, the wind catching her hood and pulling it off, tugging at strands of her red hair. Amber eyes met her green, looking at her curiously. âAre you lost?â
âWho are you?â
âAlarick. What are you doing out here?â
âIâŚI got turned around in the storm.â
âYou could freeze to death.â He stepped closer and she backed up right into a tree, swallowing. âItâs okay, I mean you know harm.â He held out his hand and smiled, revealing sharp canines.
âWâŚwolf.â Her voice squeaked and he tipped his head to the side.
âNo need to fear me little fire, I only wish to help you.â
âYour hair.â He reached out, gently running his fingers through the ends. âLike fire.â She pressed herself further back and he smiled. âCome, my uncleâs pack is near, itâs warm there. Please come until the storm blows through.â His hand was still out and she looked at it, at his sharp nails and swallowed again. She had been warned that wolves were dangerous, but if she didnât go with him, she would freeze.
Another particularly strong gust hit her and she didnât think for another moment. She was less likely to die if she accepted this wolfâs help so she hesitantly took his hand, hoping he was genuine and that sheâd see her mother again once the storm had passed. She hadnât expected him to pull her into his arms but next thing she knew she was being cradled as he hurried through the snow. She hadnât been held since she was a toddler so it felt awkward but she admitted to herself it was nice to have at least the part of her pressed against him safe from the snowfall.
Eira nestled in closer to Alarickâs chest. She could feel his heat beating against her face,and she was grateful for the warmth from the bitter cold and the snow.
Lost in her thoughts Eira drifted off to sleep in Alarickâs arms,suddenly she was awoke when Alarick stopped just outside a cluster of evergreen trees that were covered in white snow that was swirling in the chilled air around them. âLittle fire,we are here. There is no need to fear my pack I am your protector and you are safe hereâ Alarick smiled as he gently placed her down on the snow covered ground.
Eira was a little embarrassed she had slept during the journey here but she planned to stay alert now. Until she got to safety it would now be an entire pack she was dealing with. She wanted to trust this wolf but a lifetime of stories from loved ones told her she couldnât so despite his words sheâd stay vigilant and ready to protect herself to the best of her abilities. It was wild to her how kind his eyes were and how much she actually liked his voice. It took her a second to realize he had asked her something âhm?â there it was, that smile again âmay I know your name now, you know mineâ
âwell, Iâm very happy the world directed me to you Eira, come onâ He said then began walking.
Will your uncle be alright with me intruding?â She asked nervously.
âI donât see why not.â
âI see, thatâs good I suppose.â
She clung tightly to him, giving a little yelp when a few people came running up. They looked to be teenagers or younger, all curious as to who Alarick had brought home. âEasy guys.â He said as he gave a little growl, surprising Eira. âSheâs scared canât you tell?â
A loud whistle caught everyoneâs attention and they all turned as Alarickâs uncle came walking up. âGo back to what you were doing, no need to crowd everyone.â His voice rumbled out of his chest and Eira was surprised by how big the man was, that this imposing figure was her saviourâs uncle, especially since Alarick was so lean in comparison.
Though he was still an intimidating being he did soften a little as he welcomed her âI am the pack leader, Xanlis. I am also this ones Uncle if he hasnât mentioned it. I see he has brought you here so you are welcome. Thereâs really no need to be so afraid though I gather youâve probably been raised with nasty stories of us so I take no offenseâ He seemed so cordial, it was incredibly shocking. âUmâŚthank youâ she felt all the ums made her sound stupid but she felt even her brain was frozen over and how these wolves appeared was still a shock. âshe was about to freeze to death when I found herâ Alarick chimed in âthen we should get her warmâ Xanlis said and Alarick took her hand to guide her along. She blushed, first he had held her and now he was just taking her hand as if everyone did that with strangers.
Alarick led Eira down a small hallway to a small room at the end of it. Eira glanced around the room and saw a wooden 4 poster bedmate up with a luxurious warm looking quilt. âThis will be your room for your stay,mine is just next door to the left if you require anything.â Alarick gently said walking over to a old looking chest of drawers. She watched him as he pulled out some soft fleece pyjamas and a knitted sweater. âThese belonged to my aunt,you look to be about her sizeâ Eira looked at the clothes the wolf had handed her. âUm thank you,I hate to bother but where is your aunt? I didnât see her?â
âShe died giving birth to my cousin.â
âOh, sorry, that must have been hard for your uncle.â
âA wolf losing its mate is one of the most devastating things that can happen to them, but he lived for my cousin and his pack.â
âIâm sorry, I shouldnât have asked.â
Alarick smiled. âItâs alright, he wouldnât mind. Itâs been twenty years so sheâs easier for him to talk about. Now, please change, your clothes look wet from the snow.â
âOh, yes, thank you.â
âIâll wait just outside the door.â She nodded and Alarick gave her her privacy. He stood dutifully outside the bedroom door, enjoying what was left of scent on him.
âHow is our guest?â Xanlisâs voice startled him and he straightened.
âGood I suppose, changing. I let her borrow Chezaâs clothes, I hope that was alright.â
His patted him on the shoulder. Alarick still marveled at how big his uncle really was, almost more bear than wolf. His father was tall too, but he had inherited his motherâs more lean build. âOf course. Let her know thereâs warm food ready and waiting for her if sheâs hungry. I just wanted to check that none of the others had sneaked in and were bothering her. The pups are curious.â
âI wont let them overwhelm herâ
âis sheâŚspecial?â Xanlis asked and Alarick knew what the question meant instantly, it was in the way Xanlis asked it. Alarick nodded and Xanlis seemed pleased but said in a whisper âgood luck then.â his Uncle could tell as well as he could wooing her wouldnât come easy. A human would be able to see plain as day how afraid she was of them. Eira didnât want to be rude so changed as fast as her aching body would allow. Her muscles were stiff from the snow but just removing her wet clothing seemed to help her feel better. Alarick had been right about the clothes, they fit her pretty nicely. She just hoped seeing them truly wouldnât bring any pain to Xanlis.
Eira heard a knock at the door sighing from her thoughts she opened it. âThere is dinner ready downstairs,I will accompany you when you are readyâ Alarick smiled kindly at her and Eria smiled in return. She felt butterflies but she couldnât tell if it was from hunger,fear or the strange attraction she felt for this wolf man.
Eira was happy to be warm and she had to admit that the food the wolves had made for her was delicious. âDoes it taste alright?â Alarick asked.
âYes, thank you.â
He suddenly turned and looked over his shoulder, letting out a little growl that startled Eira. Alarick heard her heart thumping in her chest and he turned back to her, an apologetic look on his face. âSorry, the pups want to see you, but I donât want you crowded.â
âPups?â She looked over her shoulder and she could see a bunch of little heads peeking over the window sill from outside. âOh, they can come in, if they want.â
âEat first then if youâre sure, they can meet you. I donât want you frightened any more than you already are.â
She looked again and even had to admit to herself they were kind of cute. Eira finished eating then assured Alarick it was okay if they wanted to meet her so he let them come in, giving them a warning look that he knew they would understand. They all said hi at practically the same time, causing Eira to smile which surprised even her. She supposed children, no matter the species were hard to fear. All children started innocent, it was the world that corrupted them slowly over time. âHeyâ
âdo you feel better?â
âyour nameâs Eira?â Two had questions at the same time and Alarick spoke âOne question at a time.â he tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice for Eira but he wished theyâd calm down before she went running off. âI do feel much better and yes it isâ
âare you going to stay?â
âUntil the storm calms enough itâs safe to go homeâ
Eira smiled watching Alarick try and control the pups as a couple of them climbed up on her lap,almost knocking the dinner plate over. Sensing Eriaâs warm reaction to the pups he said âOkay! I think our guest has had enough excitement,perhaps before she departs tomorrow you can come see her off.â This was followed by a round of âcan we stay?â And âaweâ replies from the pups.
The pups in Eiraâs lap threw their arms around her and scurried down to the join the group with shouts of good byes and waves along with smiling faces as the pups filed out of the room.
âThey can be quite rambunctious.â
âI can see that, theyâre really sweet.â She had actually described wolves as sweet, but they really were, even Alarick.
âI take it you werenât expecting that?â
She blushed as she shook her head. âNo, Iâm sorry. Itâs justâŚâ
âPlease donât apologize, youâve been raised hating my fatherâs kind.â
âYour fatherâs kind?â
He gave her a gentle smile. âI am only half werewolf, my mother is a vampire.â
Eira swallowed, her hand coming protectively to her throat. âOh.â
âIâm not going to hurt you, Eira, I should have said something before, but you were already terrified of me. I wonât be angry if you start avoiding me.â He hated the thought, his wolf even whined at the idea, but he wouldnât force his presence on her.
Eira dropped her hand, knowing she was acting foolish. He hadnât given her any reason to be afraid. âIâm okay, itâs just surprising.â
âI promise, youâre safe with me.â
She was actually starting to believe that âsoâŚyou really think this snow storm will be over by tomorrow?â
âwe can hope, I donât want you worried about you family or to keep you from whatever it is you do with your lifeâ it sounded as if he wanted to know more about her so she said âwell, I donât do anything important really besides helping out my mother. I am working on this pretty amazing knitting project though. Iâm excited to finish itâ Another smile flashed across his face, warm and kind as he sits back down next to her âyou knit, if this storm keeps up I know two women here who knit. Maybe they can let you borrow some things to keep you entertained. Iâd enjoy hearing about what youâre making at home if youâd like to tell meâ
âI would love that!â Eira was starting to feel more at home and began talking at a rapid pace. âAt home I have made some socks,sweaters and mittens for friends and their children. In fact the mittens I was wearing I made those as well. My mother and I were going to work on a blanket for my uncles birthday which is coming up. I could knit something for you Alarick if you would like?â
âYou donât have to do that, I donât need payment or anything.â
âNot as payment, because I want to. Itâs so cold, you might need a scarf or something.â
Alarickâs heart stuttered and his wolf let out a little whine, a sound he managed to keep from rising in his throat. âThatâs very kind of you, thank you, Eira.â
Eira actually smiled at how sincere he sounded. She hadnât expected it from a creature such as him. âDo you have any specific colors you like?â
He let his eyes move over and found himself reaching out, his fingers brushing through the ends of her hair. “Perhaps red or maybe a dark orange? Like your hair.”She felt her cheeks heat and he looked surprised at himself as he pulled away. âSorry, I shouldnât just touch you.â
âItâŚitâs fine, you just surprised me is all.â
âStill, youâve been through quite a bit today, the cold, being saved by me, and now youâre sitting in the middle of a wolf pack.â
âYou said I was safe though and IâŚI trust you, soâŚâ
âYou do?â He perked up, his wolf barking at him to get closer to her.
âYou saved me, you could have done worse, but you didnât. Iâll try not to be so nervous.â
“Iâm sure once youâve had some rest in a proper bed youâll feel more at ease. Itâs late enough, why donât I show you back to your room so you can rest. The blankets in there are incredibly warm but if you arenât comfortable feel free to tell me. I can get you more blankets or anything else you might need. âThat does sound nice, I know sleep will find me easy. I fell asleep embarrassingly fast in your armsâ He smiled warmly and soon they were back at her room âPlease tell me if you need something. Anybody here would be willing to help you themselves or come get me if Iâm not nearâ
âThank you so muchâ He didnât want to leave when she shut the door but if she opened it later he knew how creepy it would be for him to be there so he decided to go talk to his Uncle. He couldnât sleep, not when he had just met his mate and his Uncle would probably have good advice on how to handle things with her. He didnât want to mess this up and end up spending his life without the woman his wolf told him he would be most happy with.
Alarick walked down the hallway and stopped to knock on the door to his uncles office. He knew he shouldnât disturb his uncle this late at night but he really didnât want to lose this chance with Eira.
âCome in Alarickâ his uncle hollered in a grumbly voice and Alarick turned the knob and opened the door to see his uncle sitting at his desk with a stack of papers in front of him. âUncle I am sorry to bother you at this time of the night but I am looking on some adviceâ Alarick sat down in the chair opposite his uncle. âI think I found my mate in the girl that I brought back here with me tonight,I was hoping you would be able to help me convince her to stay or at the very least give me permission to go on her journey with her?â
Alarick, youâre an adult, you donât have to ask for my permission.â He chuckled. âYouâre so much like your father.â He smiled, letting out a little sigh. âAll I ask is that you stay safe. You know how humans can be when it comes to not only our kind, but your motherâs kind as well.â
âI will, I just want to get her home. If I let her go alone, she might get lost again.â
âAnd you donât want to lose your chance.â
Alarick could tell his uncle was thinking about his wife. âYeah, I know Iâd regret it.â
âJust promise youâll come back when you have the time.â
âIt also might be awhile before you can leave. It sounds like the snow storm is growing worse rather than settling. Itâs good you found her when you did.â
âweâre a lucky race, the world seems to like to guide us to our matesâ
âhow is she right now?â
âshe isnât as afraid as when I brought her inâ
âwell, Iâm going to try and rest while she is.â
âgoodnight Alarickâ Alarick left his Uncles office, walking down the halls until he found his room.
Alarick sat on his bed with his mind racing. He was having all these thoughts about Eira. âCould she really be my mate?â He wondered to himself,scrunching the silky edge of duvet cover up into a ball in his hand. âHow could a human accept a werewolf as her mate? How could I make her love me?â Alarick spoke to himself as he heard a soft knock on his door.
He knew who it was âcome inâ he said and watched the door open. Eira stepped inside the room. âI hope I didnât wake you I just couldnât sleep.â She looked at him and he smiled in reply âno I wasnât asleep I just got back from speaking with my uncle. The storm doesnât appear to be shifting the way we hoped for so you might be here a while longer then plannedâ
âOh, thatâs alright.â She stood there, clutching the blanket wrapped around her.
He patted his bed. âWould you like to sit?â
âYes, thank you.â She walked over and dropped down next to him, his wolf giving a little whine as her scent washed over him.
âWould you like something to drink, like tea or water?â
âIâm fine, really.â She fidgeted a little.
âWould you like to stay in here? Nothing weird of course, maybe I could tell you a story.â
âDo you have any about your parents?â
âI have plenty about them.â He stood up and pulled his covers back. âWhy donât you lay down and Iâll start.â
âBut where will you sleep?â
âThe floor or maybe at your feet. Shifting is one of my gifts.â
âyouâd be comfortable sleeping as a wolf?â
âthenâŚif you shift you can stay in the bed after I fall asleepâŚIâd hate to make you sleep on the floorâ He gave her another soft smile, trying to push down his wolfs excitement theyâd be sharing the room together. âWhy donât you lay down and get comfortable. Iâll just talk about different moments in my parents lives worth telling until youâre sleepingâ
âYouâre no trouble at all Eiraâ Her heart stuttered. There was just something about the way he was talking to her. She laid down and he waited for her to finish adjusting the blanket before he settled beside her, leaning against the headboard. He started with how they met and how his father won his mother over. When he finished that story she still hadnât fallen asleep but he could tell she was close by how softly she asked âso wolves really just know when they find who they are meant to be withâ
âI had heard that but I didnât know it was true until nowâ He was tempted to stroke her hair again but refrained âits probably one of the only true things youâve been told about usâ She fell asleep and he couldnât help but give her a gentle kiss on the head âGoodnight Eiraâ Alarick stood up then took his clothes off before shifting and getting back into bed with her. Her steady breathing and the warmth of her trusting him enough to sleep in here lulled Alarick to sleep quickly and they both rested without interruption until morning.
Alarickâs fur tickling Eiraâs nose woke her the next morning and she let out a little sigh as she wrapped her arms around him and scooted closer. Alarick lay as still as possible, not wanting to embarrass her. âAlarick, are you awake?â She asked softly and he moved his head a little to indicate he was. âIt doesnât sound like itâs storming anymore.â He let a little whine slip out. He didnât want her to go, not when he had just found her. âWhatâs wrong?â She asked as she stroked his fur.
He shifted back, hoping she wouldnât be offended and wrapped his arms around her, feeling her body heat. âIâve just enjoyed my time with you and now youâll have to leave.â
Eiraâs heart was beating hard in her chest and she was relieved they were pressed so close together. âBut youâll be coming with me and I have nod idea how far I wandered off the path.â
He buried his nose in her hair, soaking up her scent. âI know, but then I wonât be able to see you anymore. Your family, your people, they wonât like me, theyâll be scared of me and itâll be hard for you.â
He wanted to tell her, but didnât want to scare her. Then again, what if he never saw her again? âEira, do youâŚdo you think maybe you could stay a little longer? I mean the storm might have stopped for now, but it could blow in again. I think it would be safe to wait another day.â He wanted to say please, but he already knew he sounded like he was begging.
âI probably should. I really donât want to be caught in something like that again, especially since Iâm not sure how to get homeâ she nervously fidgeted a bit before saying âit was really comforting sleeping with you in here last night. Thank youâŚand no matter what my village says youâll be a part of my life. You saved me and youâve been so kind since I came here. I wont turn my back on youâŚwhat kind of monster would that make me Alarickâ it was a relief to hear, especially since he could tell she meant those words âwell, lets see about breakfast and getting you another change of clothesâ
Alarick quickly dressed and guided her back to where she could change into new clothes âIâll meet you in the kitchen alrightâ
âGood morning.â Xanlis said when Alarick entered the kitchen, startling him. The older man chuckled. âWell, you must be incredibly distracted if you didnât smell or hear me.â He was already cooking breakfast.
âI am.â He let out a sigh. âI donât know how to tell her.â
âYou just tell her.â
âItâs not that easy.â He swallowed. âUm, how did you tell my aunt?â
âI think we both realized it the moment we saw each other. I approached her immediately and told her, youâre my mate. She just smiled and laughed and told me if I wanted her then I would have to catch her.â
âWhat if she had said no?â
âThen I would have worked even harder to make her see me, to show her how much I needed her.â
âSo just be honest then?â
âItâs better to be honest than to regret never saying anything at all. There are so many things I wanted to tell your aunt before she died, but I didnât. So tell her, even if it hurts.â
âwell, Iâve convinced her to stay another day so I have a little time. I know I need to find my nerve before I walk her home. If I try to wait until then I might lose my chanceâ
âeven if she says she wont be with you at first in time you can win her over Alarick.â
âwell we should stop talking about it for now. I told her to meet me in the kitchen once she is changedâŚdo you want something for breakfast too?â
âI already ate with a few of the othersâ Xanlis walked away, giving Alarick space to think. He was startled again out of his thoughts when Eira finally came into the kitchen âcan I help?â she asked and he said âitâs okayâ They hung around inside until after they had lunch âWould you like to walk around some more to take in where I live? I mean, I know weâre going to stay friends but Iâm sure you wont be back this way for awhileâ
âsureâ He began guiding her around, trying not to stare at her too much. His wolf was worried and wanted him to take her in as much as possible incase the villagers re intstilled her old fear and she decided not to talk to him again. His wolf was nudging him hard when they went outside, she looked so beautiful with the snow as a back drop. The words started coming out unbidden âEiraâ as she turned to look at him he continued âI love youâ
He could tell she was surprised, just the look on her face âwhat?â
âIâm sorryâŚitâs justâŚI donât know I didnât even mean to say that out loud but I doâ
âYou,Iâm your mate?â He nodded and it was hard to tell what she was feeling, she was feeling so much. âHave you known the entire time?â
âYeah but you were so scaredâ she looked him over and he patiently waited for her to say something. âYou are really sweet Alarick. I mean, if Iâm really your mateâŚumâŚwe could go on dates if you wantâ His heart trembled âyouâd really be willing to try?â
âYouâre probably the nicest man Iâve ever met. IâŚI like you more than any of the boys in my villageâ
âCould I kiss you?â she blushed âyeahâ he moved in slowly, gently pressing his lips against hers and that was when they realized some of the other wolves were looking at them. Eira pushed her face into his chest with embarrassment and he chuckled, lifting her up to take her inside. He knew he still had to take her home but as he walked her inside he couldnât be happier.
~ The End
Cade had finally decided to head to bed when he heard Cliona crying in her bedroom. His heart sank, with the television as loud as he had it she could have been crying for hours. He kicked himself for not thinking she could possibly be emotional tonight after accidentally hurting him again today. She was such a sweet little girl and the most recent one he had adopted out of the foster system. He often took the troubled children, the children nobody else would keep since he felt they needed saving from the system the most. He opened her door but she didnât notice she was so upset. âClionaâ he said gently as he sat on her bed. He wanted to hold her but she had been horribly physically abused by her birth parents and was easily scared. He knew it wouldnât bring her the comfort he would be intending to give. âIâm sorryâ
âYou donât have to be sorry for crying. Whatâs the matterâ she clung to a stuffed rabbit he had given her âYouâre going to send me backâ
âNow what would make you say that?â
âNobody ever keeps me. I get scared and I accidentally hurt people and Iâve hurt you more times than anybody else whichâ she couldnât talk through the tears for a few moments âwhich really sucks because I like this home more than any Iâve had before. I donât want you to send me back to the orphanageâŚI donât want to hurt you. I donât mean toâ
âI know you donât mean to. Iâm a demon, Iâm pretty resilient. Iâm already healed from earlier.â
âThat doesnât mean you wont get frustrated with me and decide Iâm too much troubleâŚall I am is troubleâŚitsâŚits probably why my parents hated me so muchâ He remained gentle but took a firmer tone than he normally did with her âdonât ever rationalize the despicable things they did to you Cliona. You didnât deserve any of it. No child deserves your scars. You are a sweet, amazing little girl and itâs normal for demons to struggle to control their abilities when they are young, adding what youâve been through of course sometimes you do things without meaning to. I understand and Iâm never sending you back. Youâre my daughter now and youâll always be my daughter. Youâre going to grow up and when you do youâll have full control of yourself and I still want to be your dad to see the amazing woman you become after that. Your parentsâŚyour parents were horrible people who I hope never get their hands on a child againâ
She continued to cry so he asked âwill you let me hold you Cliona? It might make you feel betterâ she looked at him a few moments before agreeing so he lifted her into his lap, holding her gently âI promise, youâre here to stay. Thereâs nothing you can do, especially on accident that would make me give up on youâ He held her until she settled down then he asked âdo you want me to turn on your tv so you have something else to think about while you try to sleepâ
âif itâs really okayâ He tucked her in then switched on her television âlet me grab you some water. Iâll be right backâ She didnât say anything as he walked out and into the kitchen. He made her a small glass then returned âIf you need me come knock on my door okayâ
âare you really healed?â He lifted his shirt âsee?â
âOkayâŚI really am sorryâ
âyou have nothing to apologize for. Just try to rest. The weekend starts tomorrow and I plan to take you all outâ
Cade pulled her door part way closed as he left, leaving it cracked open so she wouldnât feel locked in. âSheâs okay.â He said as he turned and saw his adopted son Eugene standing in the hall. He was the oldest at sixteen and incredibly protective of his siblings.
âSheâs still upset.â
âI know.â He tussled his sonâs hair. âWeâll have to make tomorrow extra fun.â
Eugene nodded. âIâll help anyway I can.â He looked down the hall. âShould I go to her?â
âIf she needs one of us, but let her make that choice, she needs to make that choice.â
âAnd donât stay up all night, sheâs going to be okay, she just needs time.â
âWould it be alright if I stayed up for an hour at least?â
âOf course, good night Eugene.â
Cade went into his room and shut the door behind him so he could change without risk of the children seeing him. He put on some loose pajamas then settled in for the night, using the time he spent trying to fall asleep thinking about what heâd do with them tomorrow. The next morning he woke to the smell of breakfast and knew the twins must be cooking again. They were thirteen now, had been eleven when he took them in and they seemed to have a natural talent with food. He had been nervous to let them cook at first but after awhile he became excited whenever they wanted to do it.
Their names were Kaiaka and Keola and they were fox shifters which left him with three shifters in his house currently since his eldest was a panther. Cade checked his phone once his eyes focused and saw a text from his mom wondering when they were going to visit again because she was dieing to see him and her grandchildren. He smiled, knowing theyâd all be excited aside from Cliona who still struggled with anybody outside their little family, even his parents who loved every child he adopted and truly thought of them as their grandchildren. He decided he would at least ask Cliona if his parents could meet them out or if sheâd be comfortable if theyâd all go visit them for a few hours at some point this weekend.
Cliona was sitting at the table holding her rabbit, her face still sad and worried. Eugene filled three cups with juice for the twins and Cliona then poured himself and Cade a cup of coffee, leaving his own black while he mixed sugar and creamer into Cadeâs. âMorning guys.â Cade said then breathed in. âThat smells amazing girls.â
âThank you dad.â The twins said in unison.
Eugene handed him his coffee. âThank you. Did you sleep last night?â
âYes sir, like a rock.â
Cade just nodded, knowing he probably hadnât. Anytime one of his siblings had trouble sleeping, Eugene would stay up late waiting. âHow about you baby girl?â He asked as he sat down next to Cliona.
âYeah, it took a little bit, but I did.â
âThatâs good.â He reached over and patted her head. âGrandma sent me a message, she wants to see you guys. Does that sound like something youâd like to do this weekend?â
She looked nervous so Eugene sat down on her other side and rested a hand on her shoulder. âHey Clio, we should go, I bet grandma would make some cookies for you.â
âWe could even meet them out somewhere.â Cade added.
âcouldâŚcould we meet them at that music park?â
âYeah, Iâm sure theyâd love that.â He pulled out his phone and texted them then slipped it back into his pocket. Cade almost chuckled his mom responded so fast âLet us know when to head over there! Can we bring anything for the kids?â He texted back âI think theyâd love some of your cookies. Eugene brought them up when we were talking to Cliona about itâ
âask him what kind!â He looked up from his phone and over to Eugene âwhat kind of cookies would you like grandma to bake?â
âPeanut Butter or red velvetâ Cade told his mother who said sheâd be bringing both. âsheâs bringing bothâ he announced and all the kids seemed elated besides Cliona who still looked incredibly nervous. They all finsihed their breakfast then got ready for their day out. It wasnât until they were all getting shoes on that he let his mother know they could head over to the music park but he knew they were probably ready”
His parents arrived not long after they had and they all climbed out, Cliona taking Eugeneâs hand as Cade and the twins hugged his parents, switching over to Cade when Eugene took his turn. Stella crouched down in front of her, giving her a gentle smile. âHello sweetie, how are you doing?â
âGood.â Cliona answered softly.
âThatâs good. Now if I remember correctly, you really like the red velvet cookies, right?â Cliona nodded and Stella opened up the container holding them. âDo you want one?â Cliona nodded again and took one.
âWhat do we say, Cliona?â Cade said.
âThank you.â Cliona replied.
âYou can eat as many as you want.â
She gave Stella a small smile and in turn Stella gave her a warm one, wishing she could hug her. She couldnât wait to see her blossoming into the carefree little girl she should have always been. Stella stood up straight, once again hoping her son knew how proud she was of him for spending his eternity helping children in the foster system that were either too broken to find a home or getting too old to ever be adopted. The two older girls spent most of their time talking excitedly with their grandmother, Eugene mostly stayed close to Cliona at the park, making her smile and laugh where he could and Cade took the time to talk with his father about how things were going.
âBut she is getting better dad, yesterday was my fault. Iâve had a lot of kids but Iâve never had to be quite so careful with any of them as I have had to be with Cliona.â
âwhat matters is she seems happy today.â Eugene was making her laugh that very moment. They both took it in, smiling themselves before Cade responded to his dads note on the situation. âEugene is a great big brother. I swear sheâs made most the progress she has because of him being so attentive to herâ
âHow are you though son?â
âMe? Iâm goodâ
âStill not seeing anybody?â
âYou sound like momâ Jasper chuckled at his sons word âWe bring it up because we careâ
âI donât know when Iâd have the time to meet someone but Iâm fine, really, Iâm not crying myself to sleep. I always have these kids to think about. If I meet someone I meet someone, Iâm sure I wont die without a mate or anythingâ
âI donât know, Iâm pretty sure I would without your mother.â
Cade chuckled. âSo dramatic, but I promise, Iâm really fine.â
His father patted his back. âAs long as youâre happy thatâs all that matters.â
They followed Stella and the children, Eugene taking Cliona over to anything she found even a little interesting. It was nice seeing her out, smiling rather than crying and blaming herself for things she couldnât control. He talked with his dad until the twins came running up to him, grabbing his hands. âDad, can we go on the carousel?â Keola asked.
âYeah, please.â Kaiaka added.
âOf course. Why donât you see if Cliona wants to ride.â
âOkay.â They said in unison and ran ahead to Eugene and Cliona.
Cliona was a little nervous at first but her siblings promised to ride around her so she wouldnât have to sit by many strangers. They walked over there and Jasper bought each of the kids a wrist band so they could ride it as many times as they wanted while they were there. Stella pulled out her camera and took a few pictures of the kids once they were all settled on the animals they wanted. Stella had to show her husband and son right away âlook, Cliona smiledâ She took a couple more here and there when they could see the kids. They watched them run around the music themed playground until the twin girls mentioned being hungry. âIâm pretty hungry tooâ Eugene added. Cliona nodded so they left the playground and went to a nearby Olive Garden since they had a pretty amazing family style menu at the moment.
âJasper, Stella.â The voice pulled all of their attention away from their menus and both Jasper and Stella smiled as they waved at the young woman sitting a couple of tables away.
âMiss Graves.â Jasper said as she came over and gave them both a hug.
âSorry, I was just so surprised to see you two.â
âHow have you been?â Stella asked.
âGood, really good.â She looked around the table, her cheeks heating a little. âIâm being rude, youâre busy.â
âOh not at all.â She gestured to Cade and the kids. âThis is our son Cade and his children. Cade, kids, this is Holly Graves, she was one of your fatherâs clients and a zombie.â
âItâs nice to meet you allâ
âWhy donât you eat with us? We ordered family styleâ
âI mean, Iâd love to but I really donât want to intrude on family timeâ
âNonsense, please sit with us. Have you ordered yet?â
âJust my drinkâ
âsee, itâs perfectâ The only empty chair was beside Cade so she sat there and alerted the server that she had moved to their table when she passed by. Once that was taken care of Holly asked the children âso, whatâs all of your namesâ The twins introduced themselves first, followed by Eugene. Cliona paused so Cade carefully took her hand, giving her a small, reassuring smile. âIâmâŚClionaâ Hollys next question was directed at all the children again âHave you been having fun with your grandparents today?â The twins filled her in on their day with small input here and there by Eugene. Cliona stayed quiet but Cade was happy that she wasnât scared. Uncomfortable yes but not the scared little girl he had first adopted. When Cade first brought Cliona home he couldnât take her out. She was far too jumpy and had too many accidents. She certainly couldnât sit at the table with a stranger and have such an even heartbeat.
âWould it be alright to ask what brought you to my dad?â Cade said.
âNot at all. I was attacked on my college campus by a couple of students who found out about me being a zombie. I got away because I bit one of them, but I was arrested.â
âAnd I took her case after her parents asked me to.â Jasper added.
âYou mean you scared the crap out of them, right grandpa?â Eugene said which had everyone cracking a smile, even getting a small one out of Cliona.
âOf course, it was ridiculous that she had been arrested because her attackers said she bit tried to hurt them first. I could smell they were lying and they crumbled pretty fast.â
âWhat do you do Cade?â Holly asked with a big, warm smile.
âIâm a Soil Conservationistâ not many people knew what that was so he explained without prompt “Iâm a scientist who monitors the condition of land and develops ways to enhance sustainability, conserve soil and counter erosion. Sometimes I work in construction where I advise builders on preventative measures regarding erosion. I even work with farmers from time to time. I pretty much suggest which crops to go and how they should rotate to get the best result. ” he could go on about his job but he stopped there, not wanting to drone on too long and bore her.
âThat sounds coolâ
âIt is, especially since it doesnât keep me away from my kids too much and I can often bring them with me during the rare times I am working a lot. With the help of my dad Iâve even built a work area in my homeâ a smile lit up her face again âThats really sweet, so often beings are itching to get away from their kids and you try to make it so you donât have to leave themâ
âCade loves being a dadâ Stella added and was going to say more but Eugene chimed in âHe actually adopted all of us and has adopted many kids before us. He keeps about four at a timeâ That cleared things up for Holly on how he had two foxâs, a panther and a only one full demon daughter like he was. âreally?â Stella spoke again âyeah, heâs been doing it for a long time. We have so many wonderful grandchildren. Heâs had over four before but four is normally how many he wants at a time. Heâll take more if there are siblings so they can stay togetherâ
âThatâs really sweet, Cade.â Holly said. âAmazing even.â
âThank you.â Cadeâs heart danced. âUm, what do you do? I mean, what are you going to school for?â
âMedical microbiology. Iâve been wanting to do research with each species genes and see which one would be best for fighting off diseases without changing the host.â
âThank you.â They continued to talk even when their food came, Cade finding Hollyâs future profession incredibly interesting. Holly asked him more questions about his own and he told her about a few of the projects he had been a part of.
When a pause hit the conversation Jasper said âI was thinking of taking the kids out for ice cream. Would you like to join us Holly?â She looked at the kids âwould you guys mind? My feelings wont be hurt if youâd rather have your grandparents and dad to yourselvesâ
âYou can comeâ The twin girls said then Eugene added âyeahâ he took Clionas hand âright Cliona? She can come?â Cliona nodded and Cade honestly felt grateful. He couldnât remember the last time he felt this much attraction to a woman but Cliona had been through so much. If she wasnât able to deal with Holly being around, as much as it would pain him he wouldnât bring her around.
âGreatâ Jasper said then asked the waitress for the check. They discussed where the kids would want to go until it arrived, finally settling on a family owned place nearby. On the way over Cades phone chimed so grabbed it to see what it was âGrandpa sent you her numberâ Cade blushed and both girls giggled.
âI donât think Iâve ever been here.â Holly said once they were all out and heading inside.
âReally?â Cade was a little nervous now, especially having her number. âTheir ice cream is really good, all hand made.â He rubbed the back of his neck. âSo, I hope you donât mind, but my dad sent me your number.â
She smiled, her cheeks tinting a little. âThatâs fine, I was planning on giving it to you at some point. I mean, Iâm friends with your parents so why not get to know you too.â
âYou should send me a message so I have yours too.â
âOh, right.â He pulled out his phone and sent her a quick message. âSo, whatâs your favorite?â He nodded towards the ice cream.
âIâm a sucker for chocolate, but I like trying flavors Iâve never had before.â
âMaybe we could try something new togetherâ Jasper put in the kids orders while Cade and Holly looked over their menu. Eventually they decided to try Curry and Mint ice creme because it sounded the most interesting. The twin girls seemed horrified at the mere thought something like that existed but when they all sat down to eat both Cade and Holly found it incredibly delicious. They easily began talking again and Cade felt it all ended much too soon. The group was saying their goodbyes when the twin girls said to Holly âdads taking us out again tomorrow if you want to join us. He promised us a fun weekend but we didnât make any set plans if you have some suggestionsâ Holly blushed âyouâd really like me to come along again tomorrow? Iâve been so worried I took up too much of you dads time talkingâ
âOf courseâ Kaiaka said then her sister Keola added âyouâre awesomeâ
âAlright then,â she met Cadeâs gaze, âI guess Iâll message you once I think of something.â
âAlright, have a good night then.â
âYou too.â He watched her walk to her car and get in, waving at her as she pulled away, his heart thundering in his chest.
âAwe, how cute.â His dadâs teasing voice had him blushing. âI havenât seen you make that face in a long time.â
Jasper slapped him on the back. âAt least now your mother and I wonât have to worry about you growing old alone.â
âDad, weâre demons.â
âSheâs sweet honey.â Stella said as she hugged him. âLove you.â
âLove you too mom.â
Cade took the kids home and decided to hop onto his computer to check his email. Holly had gotten him thinking about work again so he wanted to see if he had any current job offers. If he was working on something it would also give him more to talk about with her. He wanted to keep the comfortable vibe they currently had and he knew a good way to kill that would be too many awkward silences. He heard Cliona come in after he had gotten through about thirty emails. He turned in his computer chair to face her âHey sweetheartâ
âHey, umâŚcould we maybe play candy land together when you arenât busy?â He put his desktop to sleep and got up âof course, lets play now. Do you already have it out?â”
âI canât reach itâ He walked with her to the board game room he had made a few years back and pulled it down âI guess I must have put it up this high absentmindedlyâ Cliona sat down and he brought it over to her, setting it up as he asked âso did you really have fun today Cliona?â
âYeahâŚMs Holly was nice and you seemed happyâ
âIâm glad you were okayâ
âAre we going to go out again?â
âDo you want to go out again?â
âRemember, you donât have too, itâs not an obligation, grandma and grandpa will understand.â
Cade was proud of Cliona for wanting to try, itâs all he could ask of her. They played Candy Land for awhile, snacking on Stellaâs cookies. Cade mentioned that his mother would probably love to teach Cliona how to bake and she seemed to be thinking about it. Cooking was how his mother had bonded with most of the children he had taken in and he had a feeling that once Cliona got over her nervousness, it would be the same for her. They stopped playing when his phone vibrated and he pulled it out of his pocket, seeing Holly had sent him a message with some suggestions about where they could take the kids. He couldnât help but smile at how sweet and considerate she was, finding places they would all enjoy.
He ran them by Cliona who liked the idea of going to a painting class. Cade guessed the fact Holly had mentioned theyâd be learning to paint a Pegasus was what sold Cliona on the idea. He messaged Holly back with a grin on his face then went to let the older kids know what they were doing tomorrow. Cade was relieved they all seemed so excited. As they discussed it happily Holly sent him the link to the website and the number so he could reserve spots with a note âthese things fill up so if we dont buy them now we might not all be able to get in tomorrowâ
âwhat did she say?â Keola asked. Once he explained Eugene suggested âyou should buy her spot for tomorrow too dad. Its obvious you like her. Itâs kind of a chance to show her youâre interestedâ Cade blushed and the twin girls laughed. He decided to ask if she bought hers yet. She responded by telling him she bought hers right before sending him the information âawâ Eugene said and Keola added âsome girls want to pay their own way anywayâ With that settled Cade bought his group spots for tomorrow then asked Holly if she wanted to come over for lunch and to hangout before since the class was at two.
She accepted the invitation so he began planning tomorrows lunch. When he went to tuck Cliona into bed that evening he asked again âare you sure youâre okay with all this?â
âYeah, you seemed so happy talking to her and she was niceâ he smiled again âdo you want a bedtime story?â
âPlease, read Interstellar Cinderella againâ Cade fetched the book from her bookshelf then began to read. It took a few more to get her down for the night but he was always happy to stay. He checked on his other children who assured him they were fine so he went back to his in home workspace to get back to checking his emails. Cade woke with a start when he realized he had fallen asleep at his computer. It took him a few seconds to realize vacuuming had woken him.
Cade wiped his face and left his office to investigate, finding his three oldest kids cleaning âwhats going on?â
âweâre getting the house ready for your dateâ Eugene said. Cade responded with âGuys, this is supposed to be a fun weekend for youâ
âwell we didnât know if youâd know to clean. I mean you never have girls overâ Cade blushed again âwell, let me make some coffee and Iâll help. Is Cliona up yet?â It was Keola that answered âyeah, sheâs painting in her room. She wants to practice for later. Want us to check on her?â
âNo, Iâm sure sheâs fine. Thanks for helping her get the paint outâŚdid she still seem alright?â
âyeah, donât worry so much. I canât imagine anybody being afraid of Hollyâ
âI just donât want to push Cliona too hardâ
âyouâre not dad, its not like youâre inviting her to live with us. Youâre not even having real dates with her because weâre all involved. I know even Cliona wants you to be happy too dadâ
âThank you guysâ Cade said before heading to the kitchen to start coffee. He called back in there âdid you guys eat anything?â They yelled back assuring him they had fed themselves too. Since they had apparently they washed their dishâs as well. He felt incredibly proud of them. It crossed his mind again what a shame it was these amazing kids may have spent their entire life in the system just because people wanted babies or at least kids under school age.
By the time Holly arrived and began touring their home youâd never know four kids and a single man lived there. They had cleaned every room as thoroughly as they could. âthis place is so niceâ she remarked when they were finally back in the living room and sitting down. She then added âwhats that incredible smell?â
“Itâs Maple Rosemary Pork Tenderloin. As far as sides going we made Summer Tortellini Pasta Salad, Sweet and Smoky Bean and Corn Dip along with oven roasted asparagus. These kids, especially Eugene are bottomless pits so we tend to make a lot. There will be chips at the table for our dip. âMy mouth is watering just thinking about all that. You guys really cook, thats awesomeâ
âThankfully I was raised by a mother who taught me all about cooking. She, along with myself pass it down to my children. Though Keola and Kaiaka have natural ability when it comes to cookingâ
âYou know what youâre doing is just amazing. I know I said it before, but it really is. Not many people would do what youâre doing.â
âThey deserve a home too, even if I only get them for a couple of years, they shouldnât have to age out of the system.â
âSo,â she said as she turned her attention to the children, âwhat do you all want to be when you grow up?â
âWeâre going to be nurses.â Kaiaka said with a big smile.
âWeâve already picked out the school we want to attend and everything.â Keola added.
âIs that what you two always wanted to be?â
âYes, always.â They said as one and giggled which had Holly smiling.
âAnd what about you, Eugene?â
âI plan on working with my grandpa and uncle. Grandpa said he would give me a paid internship there and if Iâm serious about it then he would write me a recommendation to whatever law school I wanted to attend.â
âThats amazing, Jasper is a really good guy. Your Uncle is Lupin right?â
âI met him and his family too when your grandfather was dealing with my case.â Holly then tried with Cliona âwhat would you like to be when you grow up?â she looked down and Holly softly noted âI see a little paint on your shirt. Do you want to be an artist?â Cliona looked at her shirt, finding the spot instantly and blushing. After a long silence Holly was about to talk to someone else out of concern she was just making Cliona uncomfortable when Clion said âI donât know what I want to beâ Holly smiled, happy Cliona responded to her at all. Without Cade telling her it was obvious this girl came from an abusive home so Holly could imagine how hard it was to trust other adults or even talk to them.
âwell thatâs okay, you have a long time to think about itâ Cliona was quite still but she was looking at Holly again. There was still a pause but not quite as long as before when Cliona said âI was practicing for when we go out laterâ
âThese paint classes are a lot of fun. They make it simple, it feels like painting is the simplest thing in the world when youâre in themâ
âyeahâ Cliona stood âIâm going to change.â
âalright sweetheartâ Cade said as Cliona walked toward her bedroom. Holly began talking to Cade again until he had to rush into the kitchen to finish up a few things. Things seemed to flow smoother with Cliona over lunch which Holly was happy for. Things only grew more comfortable when they were all in class together. Cade still didnât want to move things too fast but he knew, even right then that Holly was who he wanted to spend the rest of his eternity with. She was beautiful, inside and out. The way she interacted with his kids was amazing and the way she made him feel was something he could definitely get used to.
~ The End