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Nelly & Peadair

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 wasn’t until this morning, four days later that it hit her “going home from where?” She decided to ask “Where have we been?” another question hit her and she asked it right away “and where is home?” The question seemed to perplex the man she asked. read more

Aurelia & Rees 2

He couldn’t believe it, she was really pregnant “and you think it’s been two months?”

“Yeah and…I’ve been suspicious for about a month now so I’ve had a lot of time to think. I really want to seek out my parents. I’ve wanted so badly to introduce them to you, Pretoria and Brynmor anyway and now that they’ll have, well, sort of their first grandchild it’s time. I know you’re scared for me to leave but you three will be right with me Rees” 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. “How will we find them though” she walked over to a nearby drawer and pulled out a necklace. read more

Wolfric & Merle 3

Chapter One

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 hadn’t known about when they decided they wanted to do this. They hadn’t 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 hadn’t 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 “Um…hello” the man started nervously. He was the exact same height as wolfric at 5’11, 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 “please, let me speak. I’m Keoki and by the look on your face I can tell you notice I look a lot like you and your husband. I’m actually kind of glad because I need you to believe me. I’m in a hurry and when my technical mother finds out I’m gone…especially where I am she’s going to lock me up so listen, please, I had to meet you.” Merle didn’t 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 “merle” Wolfric started as Merle shoved him onto the couch “what’re you doing at our home so late at night” he growled but realization was starting to hit him too. “listen to him Merle” Wolfirc said and Keoki began nervously speaking again.

“I’m…I’m sure you heard my name is Keoki…I’m your kid and I know that doesn’t 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. You…you’d have to question her to know how she made me because she wont even tell me all the details but I do know I’m her first truly successful experiment. All her other ones wont grow or die before ten…there’s a five and nine year old still there but I…I didn’t want to be slowed down. I wanted to meet my parents and tell anybody about us…she’s doing what she’s doing in secret because well…I wasn’t made in the traditional sense…I dont know what to say I am besides I was made from yours and Wolfircs DNA sir”

Merle was suddenly uncomfortably close, it caused Keoki to shake. Even as he asked “can you shift?”

“because you’re an Amarok?” 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. “yes”

“No, I’m sorry but please still believe me…she considers that her one failure with me…I cant…she’s…she’s tried different things to try and get me to be able to…don’t make me go back. I know I look nice but she’s…” Merle backed up and looked at Wolfric who said “I think I believe him Merle” Merle nodded “Me too, he’s ours somehow” He looked back at Keoki who was still trembling a little. “I’m glad you made it to us. Do you know how she got her hands on our DNA?”

“No”

“Would you know how to get back where you came from?”

“Yes but she has strong magic. You wont believe me once we go. I didn’t make it here last time and the people that found me” Merle interrupted him “she isn’t fooling anybody anymore. We’re 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 she’s doing it sounds cruel. I can tell she’s hurt you, I believe you, we both believe you Keoki”

“I just don’t want either of you to get hurt.” He looked down. “You didn’t ask for any of this, but I didn’t know what else to do, who else to go to.”

Wolfric sat down next to him and rested a hand on his shoulder. “It’s going to be okay.” He looked up at Merle. “Maybe we should call my parents.”

Keoki raised his head. “You mean Lombard and Fatima?”

“You know about them?” Merle asked.

“Yeah, the woman who made me, she said I was lucky to have their genes. She said it made me…special.”

“I think you’d be special regardless.” Wolfric replied.

Keoki gave them a small smile. It looked so sad. “Thanks.”

“Why don’t you go and call them love while I talk to…well to our son.” Merle suggested.

“Alright.” He gave Keoki’s shoulder a pat then got up, letting Merle take his spot.

“You don’t have to call me your son.” Keoki said. “You didn’t technically have me or anything and I’m nineteen so, it’s okay.”

“It doesn’t matter. The wolf wouldn’t have it any other way. Your ours, no matter the circumstances of your birth.”

Merle could see how much those words meant to Keoki even before he spoke “I’ve always wanted something normal…to not just be a means to make future experiments successful”

“she wont have you back, I promise.”

“do you think I’m a coward for leaving the younger ones?”

“You did what you had to to make it and they’ll be helped as well. Do you know if they are ours as well Keoki?”

“The five year old but…I…I dont want to get your hopes up too high. She hasn’t been doing too well. My creator is expecting her to die, she doesn’t even teach her anymore. I think it’s because she’s 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. He’s a straightforward vampire and he’s still doing well. She thinks he might be the second to actually live past ten. She’s apparently been doing this an incredibly long time though I don’t know precisely how long before I was her first success.”

“does sh eonly try with male couples?”

“No, she’s taken some female DNA too but those creations tend to not live past four. If she knows why she hasn’t said but shes determined to be successful in both arenas”

“whats our little girls name?” Keokis expression grew a little more sad again “Noma”

“what does she do with you guys when you…” Merle couldn’t 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 “she’ll burn her body. She says she cant have people finding out until she has a strong success rate with making children” His voice cracked a little. “we’re just experiments. She doesn’t care” Guilt was starting to overwhelm Keoki “I shouldn’t have left them.”

Merle hugged his son “I bet you tried to take them last time”

“Yeah”

“so you didn’t this time in better hopes of making it”

“still I”

“we love you Keoki, for me, don’t guilt yourself. You’re not responsible for how your creator treats you all. You did what you had to to get here” 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 “they should be here soon. Why don’t you come eat Keoki. I was making dinner when you came to the door” Keoki stood “thank you”

~ Back where Keoki came from ~

Mauli angrily handed Nephi his dinner “wait, what about Noma”

“Look at her, its a waste of my food at this point”

“but you have to feed her. You don’t know she’s going to die! Please momma!”

“she hasn’t gotten up all day”

“because shes hurt”

“she comes from some of the best dna I’ve ever had. If she was going to live she’d be up and about by now. She’s a failure, maybe I’d consider feeding her if you little shits hadn’t let Keoki run out of here without telling me.”

“Please”

“she’s going to die. Its time you accept that. I was still taking care of her to keep Keoki cooperative but hes gone now. Maybe he’ll think twice about leaving once I get him back when he learns the consequences. I let him off too easy last time” Mauli walked away without another word, the familiar sound of multiple locks following. Nephi walked over to Noma and shook her “wake up Noma, please” she opened her eyes “whats up”

“share this food with me” she glanced at the plate “theres hardly anything there. You eat”

“Noma, I wont eat anything if you wont share this with me”

“she’s probably not going to give you the old portions for awhile. You’re going to be starving as it is and momma says”

“No, she doesnt just get to decide you’re going to die. I need you to try, please…I don’t want to be alone” he started to sob and it gave Noma the motivation she needed to sit up “okay…okay Nephi I’ll eat” 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 wasn’t 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 “Nephi I”

“lets play, lets play anything you can manage. I…I cant watch her take you to the burn pile Noma. If she doesn’t see you move…” tears were falling again so she accepted his hand “Okay Nephi”

“Do you think Keoki’s going to come back this time?” Nephi asked. “I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t.”

“He will, you know he wanted to take us.” She was so exhausted. “He won’t leave us here.” She gave Nephi her best smile. “Mauli said that our parents and grandparents were special, so they’ll definitely save us.”

At Wolfric and Merle’s:

“Oh my god.” Fatima said when she saw Keoki. “Lombard look at him.”

“Mom, dad, this is our son.” Wolfric said. “Keoki, these are your grandparents.”

“It’s nice to meet you.” Keoki said nervously.

“Would it be alright if I hugged you?” Fatima asked.

“Yeah.”

Fatima wrapped her arms around him and Keoki felt himself start to tear up, but he wouldn’t cry, not in front of them. “We’re so happy to have you.”

“Thank you.” Lombard too a turn giving him a hug then they all went to sit down.

Chapter Two

“what 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 them” Lombard said seriously, becoming instantly protective. “he says he can find his way back if we’re all ready to go. I don’t 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 up” Fatima looked at Keoki “he is definitely yours and Merles, there is absolutely no denying that”

“Last time I hadn’t made it to these two yet so there was nobody to compare me to but still…I’m scared I” he couldn’t shake the worry they’d just give him back once she worked her spells. “You’re staying with us, I promise” Wolfric assured him. Keoki nodded “well lets go get Nephi and Noma” 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 wasn’t going to make it she’d live long enough to know freedom, even if for a few hours. Merle was struggling with how sad keoki looked “what’re you thinking about” he asked “Noma”

“she’s that bad off”

“I’m just hoping she will be okay long enough to meet you all. She’s at the point of lethargy I’ve never seen her creations get past”

“there has to be some way to help her. This woman is doing all this in the dark without other professionals to help her.”

“I don’t 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 it”

“Just 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 her” Merle said with such surprising confidence. Keoki didn’t know how he could think he could promise that. Fatima had a familiar question “so can you become a wolf?”

“No, she stills considers me a success though. She’s hoping to find a way to make me able. She doesn’t think customers will buy her creations if they cant do everything true biological children could do”

“how 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 doesn’t work out as well as others.”

“Even if you never shift Keoki you’re perfect to us” Merle said and Keoki had to fight off tears again. “Is she a shifter? Lombard asked “I don’t think so, she doesn’t talk about herself much though”

“if she’s not a shifter it might be her. Maybe if Merle tried to help you you could”

“I’d be happy to try to help you” Merle said and Keoki answered “okay” When it was obvious keoki was struggling to stay awake they found a hotel and checked in. He hadn’t complained but they knew he had just been through a long journey.

~ Back with Nephi and Noma~

Nephi woke the next day by himself “Noma” he said softly then got up with a panic. he banged on the door “where is she? Please, just tell me shes’ okay. She played yesterday! You had to have seen that!” Maulis voice sounded irritated as she answered over the intercom in their living area “she’s with me, behave”

“is she okay”

“I’m a little busy, shut your mouth and let me work Nephi” Nephi walked over to the table and sat down “good boy Nephi. I won be able to hear you for awhile so don’t waste your breath. You caught me just in time”

“please be easy with her. Don’t you want her to live” Mauli didn’t answer and he knew she was probably annoyed but Nephi didn’t care. Noma was tried not to cry as she was fitted once again with an all too familiar training collar. “dont be a baby Noma.” Mauli pulled her off the table and walked her out of the room they had been in. “what’re we going to do?”

“you’re going to shift”

“But even Keoki can’t”

“no he cant but I can push you farther than I can push Keoki since you aren’t going to last anyway. You’ll be part of history Noma. You’ll 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 you’ll save others pain. It can be the one thing you do for this world, it’ll make you not so much of a waste”

“I”m…I’m not going back to Nephi am I” she was crying now “probably not but hopefully. I don’t want you to die Noma. You’ll either shift or you’ll die with us trying”

“You could ahve let me say bye”

“No because who knows what Nephi may have gotten up to. Besides, even if you die he’ll be much easier to control if he thinks you’re alive somewhere and his behavior effects you” 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 wasn’t 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:

“What are you thinking love?” Merle asked and Wolfric looked up from their son.

“I just don’t understand how someone could do something so terrible. He’s so sweet and innocent, I just can’t wrap my head around it.”

Merle pulled Wolfric into his arms. “I know, but he’s with us now and we will be able to give him, Noma, and Nephi a real life.”

“We have to find Nephi’s parents too, they should know.”

“We will, I promise.”

Nephi and Noma:

Noma was so exhausted she couldn’t even scream anymore. She just laid there curled in a ball and shaking, trying to block out the sound of Mauli’s angry, disappointed voice. “If you would just shift, I would stop.” Mauli snapped.

“I can’t.” Noma whimpered. “Please, I can’t.”

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 couldn’t 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 wasn’t 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 son’s arm. “Where are you going?”

“Something happened, something bad.” Keoki said, sounding panicked.

“What do you mean?” Wolfric asked.

“With one of the kids.”

“How do you know?”

Keoki shook his head. “I don’t know, it’s like intuition, I just know.”

“well all go right now. Please don’t try to go anywhere without us. We want to help and we definitely don’t want to lose you now that we know you exist”

“sorry” 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 didn’t 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 “I’m sorry”

“eat” she wanted to argue her stomach felt too bad to eat but she knew Mauli didn’t care. She ate slow, wanting the break anyway. Mauli was pacing, obviously thinking. Next thing Noma knew Mauli had brought in an IV “whats going on now?”

“I’m clearing out your system” she whined but didn’t 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 didn’t question being alone, she was grateful for it. Soon however Mauli came back with growling wolves “Mauli?”

“I told you Noma, you’ll shift or die trying. I think you lack the proper motivation, you think and hold onto hope I’ll stop and you can rest. These wolves are going to kill you if you don’t shift and fight back. You can’t rely on any of your other powers Noma. You wont be able to use them. You have only the wolf to turn to now”

“Mauli” 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 “Please, you don’t want to be on her side. Please don’t hurt me” She felt a connection but they still looked like they were considering hurting her “Please” 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 “Thank you” Mauli rushed in, completely outraged “you’re holding out on me!”

“I’m not”

“They listened to you! You just want me to be a failure don’t you Noma! I bet you can shift and you’re just being a little shit. You’re faking it! I know it! You and Keoki!”

“I promise, I was just trying. I didn’t know they’d listen” suddenly the wolves were growling again but not at Noma, they were looking at Mauli who somehow looked even madder “what’re you doing Noma”

“I’m not doing anything” 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 didn’t know what was happening, she couldn’t 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 “you finally did it” Maulis face became smug as she instructed “don’t even think of attacking me little girl. You’re still wearing that collar and you’re not as big as you think you are.” Noma took another angry step and Mauli pulled out a gun, shooting the other wolf in the shoulder. Noma wasn’t sure if she missed or was just aiming to hurt it. “Noma, sit” 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:

“We have to hurry.” Keoki said. “It has to be Noma, she’s sick and Mauli won’t care to lose her.”

“Merle, you should shift and run ahead, your paws are better for the terrain.” Wolfric said.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, we’ll be right behind you.”

“Alright my love.” He came to a stop, quickly stripping down and shifting. Keoki’s eyes widened at the sight of the big wolf. His father was truly amazing.

“Come on, Keoki.” 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 father’s 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. “Open.” He yelled. “Open you stupid thing.” 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.

Chapter Three

He crawled through and pleaded “Please still be alive Noma” Nephi used his senses like he’d 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. “what did you do” he was too angry to cry though his heart ached “I did what had to be done, she did it, she shifted but once she became a girl again she was gone”

“she’s not dead”

“she may as well be but I’m happy to see your senses are that good. I didn’t realize, I thought I could bluff. I’m 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 again”

“You’re a monster Mauli”

“what happened to momma?”

“I hate you”

“Your negotiation skills need work if she’s what you’re after Nephi”

“why can’t you just try harder.”

“I’ve long since learned its a waste of time and resources. She’s been dead a long time Nephi. I just accepted it, I don’t understand why you and Keoki refuse to”

“Because she’s our sister”

“she isn’t yours, she’s Keoki’s but she’s never been yours.”

“we’ve grown up together. I’ve known her since I was four. I may not be that old but…she’s my sister. I love her Mauli and I don’t understand how you can be so indifferent”

“I’m done with her Nephi and done trying to deal with your attitude. When Keoki gets back you two will learn obedience”

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 didn’t 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 wasn’t 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.

“Holy shit.” Keoki said as he looked at the damage his father had done to the door. He couldn’t believe it.

“Help me break this thing down.” Merle said and both Lombard and Fatima joined him in pushing at the door. They could feel the magic reinforcing it, but they weren’t going to stop until they were inside.

Nephi & Noma:

Nephis fingernails had inexplicably extended into long, sharp points. He hadn’t 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 didn’t 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 wasn’t helping Noma either but this was the only way he could protect her. Maulies eyes would regenerate and she’d be coming soon. Nephi thought about hiding as he ran “You idiot, she’ll smell us” he grew slightly hopeful as a room came into view he knew locked from the inside. She didn’t 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.

“Noma” 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 wasn’t 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 “don’t you dare” Merle seethed “don’t I what?” she opened them and Merle chuckled, already knowing what it was “you really think thats going to work, we’re not going to be open to your suggestions on whats going on here. This is without a doubt my son and I’m here for the other two”

“sir I don’t know what he’s told you but he hasn’t been on his” Merle didn’t let her finish and tried to lunge at her but she was quick to counter, shifting right back into her true form “damn it I” she started again but he didn’t 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. “Keoki, take your father and find the children, your grandparents and I will deal with this one.”

“But, she…”

“Is nothing, don’t be afraid, take him okay?”

“Okay.” 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. “I’m 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.”

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. “Come on, they may be hiding Keoki.” Wolfric said as he pulled his son out of the room.

“She…she could have…”

“We have to believe they’re okay.”

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 “they have to be in there. It’s locked” Keoki knocked gently on the door, his voice wouldn’t carry through but he knew Nephi would realize such a soft knock wouldn’t 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 “where’s Noma?” 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 “what happened?” He asked in disbelief as he took in his little girl. Nephi wiped at his face “I don’t know but whatever Mauli put her through she shifted. I mean I didn’t see her shift but Mauli says she did. She’s ready to burn her, Noma gave her what she wanted so she’s ready to throw her away…She tried to tell me she was already dead but she isn’t…I can hear it…only a little but her hearts beating”

“can I hold her Keoki?” 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 “this is one of my dads. They want to help her. They wont let anybody hurt us again. We need to trust them Nephi. Noma doesn’t stand a chance of growing up without them” Nephi nodded and Keoki carefully handed her over. “should we wait here for Merle dad?” Keoki asked and Wolfric shook his head “we’re getting Noma out of here. Once Merle sees we have her he’ll subdue Mauli and we’ll leave, if he hasn’t subdued her already”

Chapter Four

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. “Give up.” Fatima said. “You can’t force us to forget, especially Merle, the wolf won’t let him, so just give up or we will kill you.”

“Why can’t you understand? I’ve given them children, I’ve done something no one else has done.”

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve cured some deadly disease, murdering innocent children is wrong.”

“Test subjects.”

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.

“We have her baby, you just get them out of here.” She said.

“What are you going to do with all of her…research?” Keoki asked.

“Turn it over to someone who will actually use it for good.”

Keoki nodded and Lombard gave him the keys to the car. “Get her to the hospital, we’ll call Rick for transportation.”

“You guys be careful.” Wolfric said. “I’ll see you at the hospital

It felt like an eternity to get back to their vehicle. Wolfric and the boys were terrified she’d 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. “for future reference son do you know how to drive?”

“she taught me but you know the outside world better than I do so I’m glad you’re driving” 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. “you’re so close Noma. Hang on” 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 they’d be coming. He knew Keoki and Nephi wouldn’t 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 they’d give him an answer for sure as soon as they could. “I know you two are ours Keoki” He looked over at Nephi “Merle and I are going to find your parents but you’re welcome with us and even if you do end up being with them we’ll make sure you see Noma and Keoki”

“How’re you going to find them. I know for a fact they aren’t in this world”

“I’m sure somewhere in that building we took you from there’s information about where”

“do you…do you think they’ll want me…”

“Yes, Merle and I are overjoyed. I can’t even imagine them not wanting you”

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. “Well dang, I missed a party.”

“Did you bring the big truck?”

“Yes ma’am.” He pulled a set of cuffs of his belt and some very special restraints.” He tossed them to her and Fatima locked them around Mauli’s wrists. “I couldn’t get it all the way up here, but it’s close enough.”

“That’s fine.” Fatima patted Mauli down, pulling out a set of keys.

“Must be to her research.” Lombard said.

“We’ll send people back, let’s just get her locked up so we can check on the kids.”

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 couldn’t resist walking over to their new grandchild and gently caressing her face “Wolfric 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 today”

“you poor babies” Fatima was still looking at Noma. Lombard asked “what’re they saying about Noma?”

“Not a lot yet beyond but they did confirm our DNA is from Merle and Wolfric. I mean they confirmed his”

“I know you’re both mine without any tests done here”

“Thats what Wolfric said but he humored them”

“How’s Nephi doing, emotionally, do you know?” Fatima was now looking at Keoki “I think he’s going to be okay. Wolfric assured him that even if he ends up living with his parents that he’ll still see us”

“Of course, you all have to feel like siblings”

“yeah” Fatima walked over and hugged Keoki who was slow to hug back but he did. He had just been surprised. “you looked like you needed it”

“I just wish she’d wake up. I’ve seen her creations just shut down too many times and…I just love Noma so much and it will be especially cruel if she dies now, before she knows she was freed from Mauli”

When Wolfric finally returned, Merle immediately pulled him into a tight hug. Wolfric let out a sigh and relaxed into his mate. “I’m so glad you’re all safe.” He pulled back. “Did you get her locked up?”

“Yeah, the kids are safe and she’ll never hurt anyone again.”

“Thank goodness.” They went over and stood next to the bed. “She’s so weak, she has to make it Merle.”

“She will, I’ll spend every last penny I have before I let her slip away. She’s our baby,” he reached over and rested his hand on Keoki’s shoulder, “you both are.”

“When do you think we could go look for my parents?” Nephi asked.

“When you’re ready.” Wolfric answered.

“We’re going to have someone go through all of Mauli’s research and see if they can find their exact location.” 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. “Merle, Wolfric, I can’t promise this will do what I’m hoping it will but I’m very very sure. As sure as someone can be working in uncharted waters. I just need your permission to try” 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 “it’s okay Noma. Keoki found your family.” he pointed at Lombard “that’s your grandpa” he then showed her Fatima and then her parents. She seemed more taken in by Wolfric at first who just smiled gently at her. “he does look a lot like Keoki huh?” Nephi said and Noma nodded “so you know he found the right guys. This family loves you, us. We’re going to be safe now. You don’t have to be scared”

She lifted her hand “whats this?”

“its’ something they’ve been using to keep you healthy. It’s an IV”

“I don’t like how it feels in my hand”

“well maybe they can take it out now” she looked over at Merle who was already moving to the door. The same doctor came back “I’m so happy to see you awake Noma. You have really pretty green eyes”

“does she still need this?” Nephi pointed to the IV “I think we can do without it as long as she’s awake”

“does this mean she can be home with us now?” Wolfric asked and the doctor said “I’d feel more comfortable with her being here atleast through tomorrow. Then she can go home but we’ll still need to see her. I more treated a symptom, not the cause. We’re 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.”

“We understand, thank you.”

“Of course.”

Wolfric turned back to Noma. “I’m sorry you have to go through more treatments, but know we only want you better.”

“I know, thank you.” She snuggled into Nephi, her eyes filling with tears. “Nephi, we’re free, we’re really free and they want us.”

“Oh baby, of course we do.” Wolfric couldn’t 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.

“You’re all going to have a real life now.” 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 Nephi’s parents for him so Wolfric and Merle wouldn’t 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 “I’m just a little worried about her”

“she’s going to be okay, you were more sure of that than me when we were searching for her”

“I know, I just needed to check on her. I need the doctors to tell me I don’t have to worry about her anymore”

“Love is an amazing thing Merle. Maybe all she needed was parents who love her. She’ll be okay” Merle held Wolfric a little tighter then kissed his head “well lets get back to bed so we aren’t tired when they wake up”

~ The End

Aurelia & Rees

Chapter One

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 couldn’t 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 couldn’t make the being out at all but she could have sworn she heard the girl exclaim “mom!?” Rees Practically knocked over the table as he got up to rush to the door. His dates heart stuttered, it couldn’t 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 “It’s…” he looked like he might cry “It’s obviously not actually mom dad but we need to help her. She’s hurt really bad” 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 “That’s your wifes reincarnation. She looks just like her and I may have just been her friend but even I can feel that that IS Amelia” Emotion played through his eyes “I know, I knew from the second I saw her in my sons arms”

She crossed her arms, not knowing what to do with them “It’s okay Rees, thats your soulmate in there…even before she showed up tonight I knew we were not that serious. I mean we’ve 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. I’ve caught you staring at it with tears running down your face many times. She’s your soulmate, not me and I’m 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.”

Rees hugged her “I’m sorry”

“It’s okay, I hurt right now but I’ll 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. She’s an elf this time, she wont have that intuition that tells some beings your soulmates but her soul has already found you once. It’ll know, even if its deep down, some part of her will know you guys” 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 wasn’t alone. She turned her head, groaning as she did and it woke the person sitting in the chair next to the bed. “You’re awake.” 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.

“Where am I?” She asked softly.

“In my home.” 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.

“You heard me.” She felt herself tearing up and he gently shushed her.

“My daughter did.”

“Thank goodness, I was so scared.”

Rees started to pull his hand away, wondering if him touching her was making everything worse, but she actually held onto him. “You’re safe here, I promise.”

She felt safe here, especially now that she was holding his hand in return. It was odd to her since she didn’t really know these beings but she felt in her heart she truly was safe as long as she was here in this castle. Rees’s 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. “I can make you a salad if you’re 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 stomach”

“That sounds really nice. Thank you so much. Thank you for helping me. I promise, I’ll figure out something to do to thank you when I’m better” He stood “I’m going to call my daughter to sit in here while I’m gone.” he couldn’t risk her being alone so injured, he couldn’t lose her again. His heart barely made it through the first time. If they didn’t have two children he probably wouldn’t have. He had muddled through his pain for them, knowing she’d have wanted him to.

When Pretoria entered the room Aurelia was sitting up causing Pretoria to gasp “you should be laying down, your injuries” she seemed embarrassed “I just wanted less work for you when you came in here…I…well 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. I’m not sure how well I’m going to be able to walk”

“Just let me help you up next time okay. You’re no trouble, I’m a vampire. I can lift you and much more without struggle” Elves didn’t tend to hold any racial grudges so Pretoria felt it was safe to let her mother know what they were, even if she couldn’t quite tell her yet she used to be a vampire. Pretoria helped her mother to the nearest bathroom “there wouldn’t be any shame in it if you wanted me to come in with you”

“I don’t think I could go with anybody in there”

“alright then, I’ll be right outside the door” She couldn’t 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 “what’s your name?”

“Pretoria”

“Thats so beautiful”

“My mother picked it, it was her absolute favorite girls name”

“I think it’s mine too” Pretoria grinned with both amusement and sadness. “My fathers name is Rees and my brothers name is Brynmor” she felt emotion tug at her heart. She was about to speak again but a massive headache cut her off “are you okay?”

“My head” 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.

“How is she?” Brynmor asked his father as he helped him chop vegetables.

“Good, I think.”

“Is it really her?” Brynmor was hopeful that this wasn’t some fluke.

Rees nodded. “Yeah, it really is, I can feel it. Even if she didn’t look like her, I would know, it’s your mother.”

Brynmor swallowed and Rees put his knife down to hug his son. “I’m sorry, it’s just, she’s really back.”

“It’s okay, I feel the same.” He let him go and patted his shoulder. “We have to remember to be patient with her and give her time.”

“I know.” Rees wanted desperately for her to remember, but he knew he couldn’t 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.

Chapter Two

When he returned to the room Rees could see Aurelia was in pain “what happened?”

“we were just talking, I think shes okay”

“I’ll be fine, its getting better. My head just really hurt for a moment”

“maybe we need someone more skilled at medical care to come here”

“No, please don’t do that. I couldn’t put you all through more trouble. It passed, I’m alright” They were talking, Rees too thought that pain might be her soul trying to tell her brain something so he didn’t push it further. Brynmor came in a few moments after his father, just wanting to see her “Hey. Brynmor right?” Aurelia asked, setting her fork down “yeah, um…what’s your name?”

“Aurelia”

“where did you come from?” Now he just wanted to hear her voice. It was slightly different but it was still his mothers voice. “son, she’s recovering. We need to let her eat” Rees said, trying not to sound too stern and make her uncomfortable.

“Oh…I’m sorry, yeah, I’m being rude sorry” he walked out too quickly for her to stop him. Aurelia looked at Rees “he was alright”

“You really should finish eating. I’ll go get him back when you’re done” Pretoria said. Aurelia picked her fork back up and finished her salad. Just as she said she would Pretoria took the dish’s, promising she’d get her brother as soon as they were in the sink. Meanwhile, Aurelia laid back down. “so whose room is this? I’m not taking one of theirs am I?” she asked Rees.

“No, this room actually hasn’t been used in an incredibly long time. The kids mother…well…she was very close to her an Uncle of hers. She even named our son after him which was fine with me. I didn’t 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 didn’t put anybody else in it after he died, you’re the first”

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 wouldn’t hurt him by asking, it would be selfish. “what made her so close to him? What was he like?”

“He raised her. Amelia’s father didn’t 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 ever” He noticed her weird expression and he realized he had said you “sorry, I meant her obviously. I’m tired”

“Oh my gosh yeah, you were sleeping when I woke. I’m sorry, we can talk later. Go to bed. Your son wanted to talk to me anyway”

“it’s alright”

“No, I feel so bad keeping you all up…you’ve done so much for me” The thought of leaving her side mangled in his heart “I’ll go to bed when Pretoria fetches my son.”

“are you sure?”

“yes…anyway…he told Amelias father he’d 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 didn’t remember much”

“That was really sweet of her Uncle, to protect her”

“He was a good vampire. I wouldn’t say he had lived a perfect life, before raising Amelia anyway but he had a good heart”

“different creatures have their own struggles.” 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. “so, where are you from”

“My parents are nomads, I’m not really from anywhere.”

“why weren’t they with you when you were attacked?”

“well, you might think I’m 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 don’t 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 “you need to listen to your heart sweetheart. You should go, see where it leads you. It’s been trying to take you somwhere a very long time but your parents always get you offtrack. Leave your parents and follow your heart. You’ll be so happy you did”

She sighed “I don’t know, my heart raced and all of me was ready to go. I know it’s 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 weren’t for it at first, especially my dad. He was so worried about me traveling alone but they eventually saw I needed to do this…you know, because two strangers told me to” she sighed “and look where it got me, hurt and bothering you kind people. I was probably being dumb but I’ve had a great adventure coming here.”

“That doesn’t sound dumb at all.” Brynmor said. “They always say the heart wants what the heart wants.”

“Brynmor’s right.” Pretoria said with a warm smile.

Aurelia smiled back. “I guess you’re right. I’m just sorry we had to meet like this.”

“We’re just glad you’re alright and as soon as you’re feeling up to it, I’m sure our father would love to show you around.”

“I’d really like that, thank you.”

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 didn’t want to exhaust her. They both jumped a little when Rees opened his door and he called them over. “How is she?” He asked.

“You’re supposed to be sleeping dad and she’s good.” Pretoria answered.

“I 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 can’t attack anyone else.” He then looked to Pretoria. “I want you to spend time with your mother,” he sighed, “with Aurelia I mean.” They both nodded. “You two get some rest, okay?”

“You too dad.” 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 didn’t 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 hadn’t been together long before he wanted to be able to do the same thing. He wasn’t 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.

“I think it’s 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 but…you may have taken things a little too far in the past dad”

“I 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 mother…I’m just glad Pretoria talked sense into me. I was still a father and I needed to get a hold of myself. I haven’t lost your mother this time so no, I wont be be turning back into that monster I regret you and Pretoria saw…I’m more thankful than ever she got me to stop…going down that path I would have ended up with every vampire hunter in existence after me…I may have died too then I wouldn’t still be here for your mothers rebirth.”

Brynmor made a face and his father sighed “don’t you think for a second I’m also not still around because of you two. Now that she’s 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 it” Brynmor decided to tell his father what Aurelia had told them about her journey here then added “I think she’ll stay too. Her soul remembers enough it guided her back to us”

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 Aurelia’s scent all over and around him. “She killed him.” Brynmor said.

“The other left him to die.” Rees replied as he followed more drops of blood into the forest. “He was wounded though, your mother made sure of that.”

“What should we do with this one?”

“Leave him, after what he did, just leave him. I want to find the other one.”

“Alright.” They continued on, leaving the first man’s body for the animals and the earth.

“Aurelia?” Pretoria said softly as she opened her mother’s door.

“Hmm?” 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 woman’s smiling face, had her heart aching.

“Sorry, I just thought maybe you were hungry.” Pretoria said as she nudged the door all the way open and stepped in with a breakfast tray.

“Oh, sure.” She started pushing herself up and Pretoria quickly sat the tray on top of the chest of drawers and went over to help her. “Thank you.”

“I’m happy to help”

“I’m feeling better this morning”

“That’s good to hear, please eat. I know it will help you even more” Aurelia slowly ate her breakfast, enjoying it. “Have you already eaten?”

“Hopefully it doesn’t make you uncomfortable but I had blood this morning so I’ll be fine for awhile”

“animal or do you have someone to feed off of?”

“a 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 don’t feed on anybody unwillingly”

“I wasn’t worried…I’m 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 do” Pretoria smiled “we truly expect nothing in return but getting to know you. You seem so interesting. Once you’re better are you going to stay a bit”

“If I’m welcome, your father would like me here?”

“He wants to get to know you too”

“where is he now” she felt this tug on her heart, like she needed to know. “He’s out making sure those men that hurt you are really dead or not going to do such a thing again”

“They were so crazed, especially for human men.”

“well my father and brother will see to it no other woman has to worry about them.” Aurelia finished her breakfast and Pretoria took her plate. When Pretoria came back she asked “why did you pick your tattoos?”

“I adore bees and I just thought it would be pretty to have the flowers going up my sides.”

“I didn’t get a good look at the flowers but I love the bee”

“well there aren’t any men here if you’d like to see them” Pretoria helped Aurelia with her shirt “wow, they are really pretty. You must have paid a lot to have them done”

“I didn’t 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 couldn’t take his children. He asked me to watch over them and that he’d 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 way”

“what’s his name, I might want some one day. I’ve never thought about tattoos before but these are so pretty. It was well worth it for him to go study with someone”

“yeah, his name is Jolduc Khiz. His girls, should they still be at home when you go are Esmeralda and Prim”

“cute, did he tell you why he was alone?”

“she left him and the girls for another man.”

“aw”

“yeah, the biggest shame about it is she doesnt want to see her girls…I don’t have children so maybe I cant judge but how can anybody just leave their children”

“I know my mom would have never left us if she hadn’t been taken away”

“would it hurt too much to tell me what happened to her Pretoria?” Pretoria took a long breath in then let it go, looking uncomfortable. “I’m sorry, that was so rude”

“No, no its fine. It’s just still hard to talk about it. You’d think time would make it easier but…” There was a long, sorrow filled pause from Pretoria before she began her story “We 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 hadn’t 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.”

Pretoria tried to discreetly brush a tear away “then dad didn’t come home so Brynmor and I left…I wish we hadn’t” Pretoria couldn’t talk anymore as she could once again envision her dead mother”

“I’m so sorry, you don’t have to tell me” 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. “Theres this particularly nasty group of vampire hunters that aren’t just happy with killing vampires. They often humiliate and torture them. We don’t 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 trees”

“Oh jesus…where was your father”

“He 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 normal…he did a lot of things I know he regrets” Pretoria could see a bit of concern on Aurelias face “don’t worry, only the men that hurt you will answer to my father today, You’re alive and I think it was pure grief and sorrow that drove him into that state…he did and still does love my mother immensely. They were together thousands of years and they were a pretty sweet couple. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two beings near that happy with eachother”

Chapter Three

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. “Please.” He screamed. “Please, please, I’m sorry.” He was covering his head and crying his entire body shaking.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Rees snapped.

“No, please, I just woke up and…and Eli was…he was and I was covered in blood. Please, I’m sorry.”

“Dad?” Brynmor grabbed his shoulder. “I don’t think he’s lying.”

Rees let out a sigh as he pulled the man up. “Look at me.” He ordered and the man forced himself to look into Rees’s eyes. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I…we…” he swallowed. “Walking through the woods with Eli, we…we took a shortcut and then…nothing. Eli…did I kill him?”

Rees stood in thoughtful silence for a moment before saying “my wife killed your friend. You two tried to rape her. Maybe you walked into an enchantment and didn’t realize or any number of things but I can tell you aren’t lieing. You’re going to take me to the last spot you remember”

“what if something happens again”

“My son and I would never fall into something like that. I’ve trained him well and only the smart live as long as I have”

“I’m…I’m sorry for what we did to her…normally we’re nothing like that”

“you two didn’t get anywhere with her. She’s tough” Rees let the human man go “show me”

“I’m…I’m hurt badly too. Could I get tended to first?”

“so you can tell the other humans vampires are bullying you?”

“No, no I swear…we obviously hurt someone you love…I wont try anything funny…I just…I”

“dad” Brynmor said and Rees sighed “My son will go with you and I’ll wait here” 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 didn’t want something else losing its senses and trying to hurt Aurelia or anybody else again. Brynmore wasn’t sure why his dad didn’t 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 “this is it. I hope I’m remembering right…I cant imagine what would make us dumb enough to mess with a vampire woman”

“She’s an elf” Brynmor said and the man said “I’m sorry”

“don’t be so scared. I’m sure she’ll even feel sad for your friend once she learns you two weren’t in control. A lot of mistakes were made…we’re just glad she found her way home” The man glanced over at Rees who wasn’t 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. “Do you know what this is?” He asked the man.

“No, I’ve never seen it before.”

“Brynmor. ”

“It’s an otrova mushroom.”

“The spot where you and your friend walked is covered in them. They’re an invasive species and incredibly dangerous.” He tossed the broken mushroom. “When they feel threatened, they release spores into the air and cause a temporary insanity in anyone who inhales it.”

“We didn’t know.” He dropped his head into his hands. “We always go out together, we have been since we were kids, but we didn’t know.” He swallowed then took a deep breath. “I have to bury Eli, I can’t leave him in the woods.”

“I will be able to get rid of these but it will take time. Brynmor, you may help the human while I do this”

“He…he doesn’t have to” The mans voice trembled. Brynmor said “I’d be happy to, we know it wasn’t his fault and my mother isnt a murderous monster either just so you know. She was terrified and just trying to” The man shook his head “I understand, really, I wont go telling anybody anything negative. We…we tried to rape her…I understand…I’m not sure what I’m going to say about his death to his family but I don’t blame her” 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 “how can your father be sure he wont go mad with them”

“If he says he knows what he’s doing he knows.”

Rees had to burn them, all while being careful with the rest of the forest. He couldn’t 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.

“So what now?” He wiped at his face.

“First, can I have your name?”

“Oh, it’s Oliver, sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Rees sighed. “I cannot hold what happened against you, Oliver, it wasn’t your’s or Eli’s fault.”

“What do I do?”

Rees looked to Brynmor who answered, “Come back with us, talk to the woman you attacked, we’ll explain everything.”

“wont I just upset her…I” he didn’t know what to add, he seemed to be having an internal struggle so Brnymor spoke again “you didn’t manage to rape her. She’s hurt and might be a bit startled when she sees you but I have a feeling that once she knows your side of things she’d want to see you again anyway to tell you herself not to feel guilty” Oliver swallowed “alright, I will come. I still don’t know what I’m going to say to everybody anyway. I don’t want to give you three any more problems. I’ve seen in my village before the fact we tried to rape her which caused her reaction will mean little”

Rees and Brynmor took Oliver to their home where they found Pretoria and Aurelia in the living room, sitting down and talking. “she’s doing so much better” Pretoria said excitedly but her expression changed when she noticed the man “that scent” she said softly. “allow me to explain” Rees started then explained to them why the men had attacked Aurelia. Aurelia’s eyes dampened “oh my…I’m so sorry. I was so scared and you two wouldn’t let me get away…I killed him because I felt I had to in the moment. I’m sorry”

“I understand, I’m horrified about what we tried to do…that that could be in me at all, weird mushrooms or not”

“some things have great power. The mushrooms turned you two into something you weren’t. Don’t feel guilty”

“I’m just glad you’re okay”

“I know you don’t 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 to”

Chapter Four

He held up his hands. “Please don’t, no one would ever blame you, truly. You were alone, against two of us, it was justified. Eli wouldn’t blame you, he wasn’t like that, he was a good man, kind and honest, he would want you to know it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t know, we didn’t know. So please.”

Rees could see how heartbroken Aurelia was for him and he gently placed a hand on Oliver’s shoulder. “How about you at least come by then, as often as you like, we’ll get to know each other and move past this.”

“I’d like that, thank you.” Oliver took a deep breath. “I just don’t know what to tell everyone back home.”

“I’ll go with you and explain.” Brynmor volunteered. “I’m sure I can hide the fact I’m a vampire.”

“You don’t have to hide, no one would bother you, they know better than that.” He nodded. “I would appreciate your help, I just don’t want them to think Eli was a monster.”

“You should rest.” Aurelia said. “You spent all night in the woods and you’re wounded.” She looked to Rees whose heart jumped in his chest. “He can stay right? He shouldn’t travel until he’s better.”

“Of course.” He sat down next to her, gently taking her hand.

“Thank you.”

He wanted to tell her anything she wanted was his command but he knew how weird that would sound. “don’t scare her” he thought to himself. “it’s the right thing to do” He held her hand a few more moments before getting up “let me show him to a room” 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 didn’t 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 “this is where you can stay but we need to talk about something important if you’re going to be interacting with her”

“yeah?”

“she’s a reincarnation…my wife…Aurelia has no idea about her past with us and it shouldn’t come from you. If we as a family decide to tell her it should come from us”

“Oh…that must be hard”

“Immensely”

“maybe if you told her it would help her remember…I mean there’s things that can be done”

“what if I scare her, she might not believe me and think me crazy”

“that woman in there? She’s no coward, she just invited a man who tried to rape her to stay in the same castle as her. I mean, I think she’d face the possibility head on” Rees gave him a long look that semi frightened Oliver. He finally said “thanks for the input, will you be needing anything?”

“I just want a bath” Rees pointed a few rooms away “theres a bath in there. I’ll tell Brynmor to bring you clothing”

“Thank you” Rees left the man without another word, pondering what he had said. HIs Amelia…his 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 wasn’t 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 he’d 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 “Hey Rees” his heart stuttered at the sound of his name coming from her. “He’s settled…what did you and my daughter do today?”

“talked mostly, I’m eager to be shown around though…would you mind doing that tomorrow? She said it would be best if you did” he smiled gently “if you still feel up to it yes”

“I want to know everything about this place. I’ve never been in a castle before. How did you build this or did you find it?”

“I built this, most vampires lived in castles in my time. It was the thing to do” She smiled ‘you do look like a classic” she said it with so much affection it even surprised her. “I’m sorry, was that…weird” he nervously chuckled “never be sorry, I know I haven’t updated my style…ever…my wife didn’t mind though”

“You all seem so wonderful, I’m sure she just felt lucky”

“I have something to take care of” Pretoria said to excuse herself and her brother followed suit, leaving their parents alone. “you don’t have to stay with me if you want to rest or something. You’ve done so much for me. I mean, you were out all this time because of me” he gently smiled again “I want to get to know you. Thank me by telling me more about your life Aurelia”

“when do you want me to start?”

“Your first memories if you so wish”

“alright…” she paused for a time, obviously thinking “my 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 I’m extra close with him.” 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. “so it wasn’t hard growing up as a nomad?”

“I loved every second of it”

“so…do you think you’d ever be happy staying in one place” she shrugged “I never say never, if the right situation arose I’m sure I could be happy settling somewhere”

“whats your first memory of your mom?”

“We 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 fun” he nearly chuckled “they sound fun”

“yeah, I’ll have to find them again one day but not soon. I mean. I don’t feel like I’ve found what I left them to look for…I think I just told Pretoria about this but” she proceeded to tell him how she came to leave her parents side.

Rees’s heart was skipping in his chest. Someone had sent her to him, he had to believe that. “That’s amazing, Aurelia, truly.” He sat down next to her. “Aurelia I…” he let out a sigh.

“What?” She could tell something was troubling him and she couldn’t stop herself from taking his hand in hopes of comforting him. “Is everything alright?”

“Yes, sorry, it’s just I’m really happy to have you here. I hope it’s okay to say that, after everything that’s happened.”

She smiled and his entire being warmed. “I’m happy too.” She said.

“Truly?”

“Yeah, you and your children have been so sweet, it’s more than I expected.”

He burned to tell her everything, but he couldn’t, not yet. He could wait until tomorrow at least. “I’m glad.” He gave her a smile. “Would you like me to get you anything? Food? Something to drink? We could have dinner together or if you haven’t eaten.”

“I imagine you must be starving, eating together would be nice. I’m feeling well enough to come to the kitchen with you” she could see the concern on his face even before he answered “you were bleeding internally from fighting those men when you arrived”

“and since then you and your children have done an amazing job of taking care of me. I really don’t want to keep you in this room. Besides, I’m dieing to even just see a little more tonight”

“well…if you start to feel weak, just let me know”

“alright” She couldn’t 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 “a salad is just fine with me again”

“I can make you something, I don’t mind. We…could even cook together”

“alright, but really let me help” 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 wasn’t interested in resting anyway. He had lived without his wife so long, he needed to be with her as much as he could.

“I suppose as a traveler you eat rabbit a lot” he said, just wanting to hear her speak again. “yeah but I like it. This already seems so good. Where did you learn to make it?”

“My late wife” he said gently “Oh, gosh, I end up bringing her up a lot with you three. I’m sorry”

“It’s alright, she’s an incredibly pleasant memory for us all”

“It sounded from Pretoria it’s been a long time. I’m surprised you’re still single” he felt uncomfortable with what he was about to say but he wouldn’t lie to her “I ended up with someone eventually, a friend of hers…it 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 much…I…I think she always knew but she just wanted affection as I did.” She didn’t ask why they parted, she supposed they just both realized they weren’t really helping eachother in being together. “well…I hope you find someone you can actually love again” his smile held so many emotions, mostly sad which made her feel bad so she changed the subject “so um, are you close to your kids…like do you do a lot together normally?”

“we’re pretty close, it’s why they still live with me even though they’ve been adults a long time”

“thats sweet”

“I wouldn’t be here without them, they saved me, even after…I don’t deserve them.”

“I’m glad you’re still here, for what that’s worth. I mean if you weren’t, we never would have met.”

Rees smiled. “I feel the same, truly.”

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. “Sorry.” She said.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, of course, this is really good.”

“Maybe we should go back to your room.”

“No, it’s fine, really.”

“Alright, but after, you should rest.”

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 “I’m sorry” she couldn’t help but say again, seeing how concerned she was making him. “what’re you thinking about?”

“nothing really in particular. I probably do just need more rest after this”

“Would it be alright for me to carry you back…you’re worrying me”

“that would be really kind, thank you Rees” 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 “hey, you’re still getting better. Myself or the kids will get that” she was so thrown off by everything that had been happening in her mind and emotionally since eating with him she didn’t protest “alright, will you take me back to my room then”

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 “do you have any pictures of your kids when they were children?”

“I’m sure I do, most of what I have are paintings. My late wife loved to have us painted. You’d like to see?”

“If I wouldn’t be bothering you”

‘not at all. I’ll go get one after I have you settled in”

“you can’t just take me to it” he couldn’t, they would be with all the pictures that had her in them. “you need to rest” she did so it wasn’t a lie. He tucked her into bed so lovingly, she couldn’t resist hugging him. It surprised Rees but his body instantly responded. He had her close once more and demanded himself not to cry. He didn’t know what to say about it so he didn’t and she didn’t 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 couldn’t 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. “Sorry.” He said as he crossed over to her.

“It’s alright.”

“I shouldn’t stare, it’s rude.”

“Then we’re both in trouble.” She teased and he couldn’t help but smile.

“I was going to bring one of the bigger ones, but I decided against it. This one though, is one of my favorites.” 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.

Chapter Five

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. “they were so adorable” her eyes grew a little damp but she didn’t cry. “Yeah, Brynmor would not sit still for this picture. We almost gave up…my wife and I I mean”

“I’m glad you two got to capture it. He’s as adorable then as he is handsome now. Pretoria grew up beautiful herself.”

“They had a gorgeous mother, I guess that helped Brynmor aswell because he certainly didn’t 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 moment” He noticed her gaze go from the children to him “I think you’re incredibly handsome Rees,don’t call yourself scary” she blushed, quickly looking away from him and wondering why she had said that out loud. “Um…you should get rest too Rees. You ran around all that time solving what happened and taking care of Oliver. I’m…getting tired” she felt awkward and was a bit overwhelmed with herself and thoughts in general.

“Please call me if you need anything alright”

“I will” he almost leaned down to kiss her head but managed not to “goodnight Aurelia” 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 “what did that couple want me to find…could it be…you three?” 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 “Gods and goddess’s, 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 here”

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 “where is the woman?”

“Humble is busy”

“are you a god, is that why you’re here again” he chuckled “No but I have a few assisting me now with my work”

“your work”

“thats not what I’m here to explain. You asked for more guidance…well, get out of bed.” she got up, hoping a head injury didn’t 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 “wha…what”

“I think you know what I’m telling you Aurelia…or should I say…Amelia”

“but…how…what”

“don’t hyperventilate on me, sit, please”

“but…thats me!”

“in your past life. You are the wife and mother they keep speaking of”

“they…do they actually know”

“They 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. You’ve wanted to run back to him from the moment you were born. Didn’t you used to draw a lot of vampire art Aurelia, didn’t you always make up games where you lived in a castle and wasn’t your very first make believe friend named Rees” 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 “what are you”

“what I am and the gods that help me aren’t important right now unless you don’t believe you’re Amelia” Tears started tumbling down her face “I…I think I believe you”

“Good, 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 hadn’t woken up your soul you would have never felt complete without them. The bond you all had in your previous life was much too strong”

“when she touched me…”

“she just helped you hear”

“it really lead me back here”

“You and Rees are meant for one another.”

“why didn’t they show me this”

“I 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 I’ll return to my Humble”

“I’m grateful” she wiped her face before continuing “but you cant cliffhanger me like this. Will you two come back when you have time. I have to know more” he chuckled “well 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. I’m sure she’ll lunge at the opportunity to see you two back together. She would have come now but she couldn’t”

“whats your name, I dont think you’ve told me”

“Jase” she had almost forgot about the storm until it scared her “easy now, hurt yourself again and you’ll break three hearts” 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. “are you okay? I heard running. Did something happen?” he started looking her over for wounds. She hugged him “You’re my son…I cant believe it” His heart nearly stopped “Mom…do you remember”

“Not completely but…I saw that picture down stairs and…and…I dont know I feel its true. I’m your mom aren’t I” He held her crushingly tight “mom” his voice broke a little “Even without you knowing its been so good having you back. Life just hans’t been the same without you. You need to see dad.”

“I do” she was bawling and wished she wasn’t. 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 couldn’t help it. He was crying too adn that wasn’t helping. She felt this was her son and no loving mother wanted to see their son cry. He hugged her one more time “we’ll help you remember fully mom and even if you cant…I’m just so happy you know. We can make new memories” she nodded and he knocked on the door before leaving her.

Aurelia hastily wiped at her face, praying that she didn’t look horrible. He opened the door with confusion and concern on his face “whats happened? Why are you crying” Looking into his eyes she didn’t 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. “Aurelia, what are you doing?” 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. “I know everything, I know why I’m here.”

His heart stuttered. “What…what are you saying?”

“I’m Amelia, I’m your wife.”

Rees swallowed, feeling a knot forming in his throat. “You remember.”

She shook her head. “I saw a picture of her and I know it’s me, I know I’m your wife, I can feel it, I’ve always felt it, I just didn’t know until I was pushed to leave.” She pulled him back down, giving him another kiss. “I’m your wife.”

His tears spilled over and he pulled her tightly against him. “Aurelia, I’ve missed you, you have no idea how much I’ve missed you.”

“Just the way you three talk about me…I can tell. I can’t believe how lucky I am, to not only have had you three before but that I was brought back in this life.”

“I know, I could have never met you again. I wish I could thank who sent you my way”

“You can, I saw one of the beings that told me to follow my heart tonight.” she went through every detail up until this moment “so I think he and Humble are coming back”

“Good…” he pulled her into his room and shut the door “even though you don’t have your memories…you’ll lay with me right?” she smiled as she wiped her face. Aurelia thought it was an adorable question given she had just kissed him “yeah, Id like to cuddle with you tonight” 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 “you three are going to keep me crying constantly, in a good way” she whispered. He kissed her forehead “as long as they are good tears Aurelia…I. my heart has ached constantly for you. So has the childrens but they’ve always handled it better than me”

“well I’m here now and I wont leave you guys again” He held her a little tighter “It may be too much to ask but please, let at least one of us always be with you”

“Pretoria told me how I died…I think that need from you is understandable” 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. “did you make me that soup because it was my favorite?”

“I was trying to help you remember”

“It did stir something in me, as you heard from my story”

“is there anything you want me to tell you about Aurelia” his voice was so emotional “You can just hold me for tonight. It sounds like you need it” He gave her a long kiss to the head “thank you…I’ve missed this so much…even when I had someone else…it was never even near the same”

“can I know…if she ever lived here or anything?”

“No, she only stayed over once or twice a month for a night”

“Okay”

“I love you Aurelia”

“I love you too. She was my friend though right? Are you going to let me meet her”

“You’d want to?”

“she was my friend. I mean you two had a sort of relationship but I’m not upset at her or you. You were lonely and it sounds like she was too. I definitely don’t think if she came around you’d be doing anything with her on the side so I’d like to meet her at some point”

“Okay, but I want to be selfish with you for awhile. I’m sure the kids feel the same” she smiled “thats okay with me” The room fell silent besides a few sniffles here and there. Aurelia wasn’t 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 wasn’t hard to find, it looked like she had been waiting in the hall for her to come out “Brynmor says…he”

“I know who I am, come here” Pretoria ran into her arms “Mom, its so good to have you home”

“It’s good to be home honey”

~ The End ~

Fiora & Kaleb 2

Chapter One

Fiora confirmed it one more time before actually believing she was pregnant with Kalebs child. “Oh my gosh” she said excitedly, her entire being warming with happiness. They hadn’t been trying for this to happen but she couldn’t be happier. She just hoped Kaleb would be happy. They hadn’t been practicing safe sex but they hadn’t discussed children either so she didn’t know how he would feel. She wasn’t going to overthink it though, she was just going to march into their library and tell him. This wasn’t news she could keep to herself, she could barely wait to confirm it before talking to him. She had only managed because she didn’t 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 “Hey baby, what’s up?” She only briefly paused before saying “I’m pregnant, I did multiple tests so I’m sure. I’m really happy about it and I hope you are too. I don’t” 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 “of course I’m happy Fiora. This is the best thing you could have come in here and told me.” he kissed her then asked “how far do you think you are?”

“about 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 I’m pregnant. I did every one I know and they all came up with me pregnant” He kissed her again in his elation “can we go tell my parents? This will be their first grandchild. I know they will be excited too”

“I’d love to do that” 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?”

“Its so early?”

“we angels have a trick that can tell on the very day the little one is conceived what gender they will be?”

“Oh please let me know then” Kalebs mother tugged her into another room and Fain chuckled “next thing you know your mother is going to want another baby.” Kaleb chuckled “well, hopefully her baby fever will be quelled when our little one comes”

“Eh, if she insists I wont mind. I am just selfish, I like to have your mother to myself. Though I loved raising you, I’m not saying anything like that. I was just a one and done kind of man”

“I’m excited”

“I can tell, being a dad is a wonderful thing. You’ll love it, probably even more than I did. I was just plain scared when your mother told me we were expecting”

“we have a good home, amazing family and a stable life. I’m not worried” When the girls came back Samira happily announced “you’ll be having a little boy! So start coming up with boy names while I take your wife out shopping” Fain chuckled “shopping for the kid already”

“I’ve been seeing so much adorable baby stuff. Yes, we’re going right now. You boys just sit here and think. This is mother in law and daughter bonding time” Samira didn’t let the men say much else, she just tugged Fiora out. Kaleb chuckled “Okay so maybe you’re right. You two might end up having another kid.” They didn’t pay much attention to the time until it was well into the night “the shops are closed by now boy, we need to hunt for our wives” 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 “Your baby will be mine” Fiora stopped in her tracks “Samira”

“whats wrong?”

“someone whispered in my ear about the baby” Samira closed the distance between them, grabbing her daughter in laws hand “what did the voice say”

“it wants my baby”

“we need to get back home, We cant be too careful” 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. “Hang on Fiora.” Samira commanded and Fiora clung to her.

“If you won’t give her to me,” the creature grabbed Samira too, “then you can come as well.”

Now

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 Kaleb’s 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 that’s 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. “I don’t know what you fuckers want with my grandchild but you wont have him. This place reeks of babies and death…unless you’re ready to die I’d show us the door”

“You you you” She threw him across the room as she yelled “stop stuttering!” The demon let them out and Fiora took his life anyway. Fiora ran to her side “I’m sorry you have to see me like this Fiora but we must hurry.” They walked through the door the demon opened only to find more. Samira sighed in annoyance “You really don’t want to mess with me. If you have any questions look in the previous room”

“but how” one started and she held up a hand to silence him “I’ve had enough, this stress alone could cause my daughter to miscarry and if she loses this baby you will all beg for death” 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.

“But…”

Samira moved faster than Fiora could blink, her hand around the demons throat and she slammed him to the ground. “You will take me to the one in charge and I will take it up with him.”

Fiora could actually see the demon shaking. “Yes…yes of course.” It said.

“Do you feel that?” Fain asked as he came to hover in the sky. He turned, looking around. “Magic?”

“There’s a strange distortion here.” Kaleb said. They both inhaled, catching the remnants of Fiora and Samira’s scents as well as that of demons. “Dad, Fiora and the baby.”

“We have to stay calm, your mother is with her and you know she won’t let anything happen to them.”

His sons expression didn’t improve much so Fain added “she’s just as fierce as she’s always been”

“it 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 for”

“They’d have to kill your mother and your mate to get that baby and I doubt anything could manage son. Don’t stress, it wont help anything. We both married strong women”

Samaria glared at the demon who merely looked amused “You two are the most unruly house guests I’ve ever had”

“well we don’t want to be here. I smell babies and death everywhere I go”

“but you don’t know why I wanted your daughter in laws baby”

“I don’t care”

“You must care, everyone has curiosity within them. You could really leave never knowing why?”

“Yes now if you like breathing I suggest you tell me where I am and how to get my daughter and grandchild safely out of here” He grinned and Samira scoffed before adding seriously “I’ve said nothing funny”

“I like you”

“good for you, I’m growing impatient”

“would you settle for me letting her and the baby go. I’m far more interested in you now. Samira right?”

“I have a mate, you must smell him”

“I do, it tells me you would swing for a demon”

“Not one like you, my mate is nothing like you”

“but you don’t know me”

“I’m taken and so is my daughter and my grandchild belongs to this family”

He chuckled. “How delicious you are, my dear. Come now, you stay and she goes, that’s only fair.” He shrugged. “Or we could keep her here until the little one is born.”

“I will kill all of you before that happens.” 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. “You know, I would have preferred not having to break you, pets and slaves are so boring, but if I must then I will.” 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. “Your focus should be on me, my dear.”

It was then Fiora knew she couldn’t 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 wasn’t done yet. Sores appeared on the three demons bodies but it didn’t effect Fiora, nor did it hurt Samira who had been smart and quick to react to her daughter in law.

Chapter Two

Fiora, run.” Samira said as she blocked the demon’s 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 couldn’t just leave her and she knew Samira could see she wouldn’t so used all her strength to launch herself into the air and slam the demon against the ceiling. “Fiora hit him again.” 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 “I love my wife” he sounded so impressed “lets find them” 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. “Calm down, love, it’s me.” He said and she looked up at him, looking relieved and near tears.

“Your mom.” She said.

Fain was already past them, catching one of the demons by the throat and crushing his windpipe. Kaleb wasn’t worried about his parents, he knew they could handle themselves. Instead, he moved Fiora behind him to face the demon he had kicked. “Stay behind me.” He commanded gently.

“I can help.” She said.

“I know, but from behind me.” 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. “just in case this is going to be something I need to worry about why did you mess with mine and my son’s mates?” The demon apparently had some fighting him still. It took they knock him around a bit more for him to answer. “We are always on the lookout for fairy babies. In fairy cities it’s damn near impossible to collect them so we lookout for mothers who aren’t 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 me”

“Even though her baby will be demon and Angel as well”

“Even as a demon, have you ever tried fairy blood? Even when it’s watered down by other creatures? it’s not addictive to us like it is to vampires but it still incredible.”

“do your buyers come to you or do you meet them?”

“Do what you will, I know you’re going to kill me. I won’t sell out my clients.”

“Son, please take your mother and wife home. I made sure that passage would stay open so don’t worry about being able to do it by yourself” Fain spoke to Caleb then looked at his wife. “Please go, you’re hurt and this may take awhile”

“I love you” for a brief moment he smiled ” I love you to Samira. I’ll be with you soon.” Samira and Fiora went with Kaleb who took them both back to his parents house.

“I’m going to go bathe with Fiora, mom.” Kaleb said as they passed through the front door.

“Of course sweetie, she doesn’t need the scent of that place on her anyway. I’ll make us some tea and wait for your father.”

“Um, mom?”

“Yes sweetie?”

He hugged her tightly. “Thank you for watching over her.”

“You know I could do no less and besides, she made them regret taking us. She’s strong, Kaleb.”

“I know, but still, thank you. I love you, mom.”

“I love you too.”

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. “Are you okay my love? You’ve hardly said a word.”

“I was so scared, Kaleb.” She wrapped her arms around her stomach. “I can’t believe why he wanted the baby.”

“I’m going to be glued to you until the baby comes so you don’t have to worry”

“I hope your dad gets information about the vampires that would actually buy from that demon”

“Me too, that demon may take his secrets to the grave. My dad can be…well persuasive though. My parents are both forces to be reckoned with”

“Your mom was amazing”

“and we will make sure this child can use all of his abilities properly. He’ll be safe”

“Is there any name you’ve always wanted for a boy?

“Not really, what about you?”

“I really like the name Jimoc”

“Then that will be his name”

“You sure?” He kissed her forehead “I’m just so relieved to still have you both” she put a hand on her stomach “I think he’s fine in there. I tried to stay calm. I think being blown away by your mother helped.”

“are you ready for me to get you cleaned up?”

“Yeah, your moms making tea so we should hurry” 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 “can I help?” Fiora asked and Samira said “Just relax for me. You’ve been through a lot today. You’re so early on in your pregnancy the best thing you can do for me is to think of your baby. I’m so excited to be a grandma”

“we’re naming him Jimoc” Fiora said as she sat down “I like that” 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 “Kaleb, take her to your old room to nap” Kaleb didn’t have to be asked twice. He scooped Fiora back up and took her to his old room “I want us to stay here until my dad gets back. We’re safer inside and who knows if any bastard vampires are lurking”

“I don’t care where I sleep.” He tucked her in “rest as much as you can”

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. “How are they?” He asked.

“Good, resting.” She pulled back to look at him. “Did you get him to talk?”

“I did, sorry it took so long. He was tougher than I thought. I had to get meaner than I would have liked.”

She rested a hand on his cheek. “Why don’t you go get clean my love and I’ll get you something to eat and drink. We’ll talk when you get out.”

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. “Is he alright?” Kaleb asked.

“Of course, just a little messy.”

When his father came out he sat down with a relieved, tired sigh “I still have my work cut out for me but my blessings are I can rid the world of some vile, selfish creatures and they weren’t 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, you’re only job now is your mate in there. Samira, I know you’ll be helping me”

“It sounds like just enough recoup time for me to be able to.” Samira replied then Kaleb answered “good, I trust you guys. I want to keep Fiora as near me as possible the rest of this pregnancy”

“are you two staying in our home?”

“you need to get up with your friends and I’m sure you want some time with mom.”

“we’ll take you three home in the morning then” Samira now spoke again when Fain stopped talking “they named their son.”

“oh?

“Jimoc” Kaleb said and Fain nodded “I like it” Fiora slept through the night, not waking until Kaleb roused her for breakfast. “are you feeling okay?” he asked softly as she sat up “yeah, why?”

“It’s tomorrow”

“Oh, wow, well I guess my body got what it needed. I really do feel perfectly fine.”

“My parents are going to escort us home today then they are going to get ready to confront that demons buyers”

“they are going to make sure they don’t already have any babies right?”

“I know they will. They wont rest until they’ve stopped as many beings as possible that would be involved in something like that”

Fiora got a hug from both Samira and Fain, the latter looking her over. “Are you doing alright?”

“Yeah, thank both of you.”

“There is no way we were going to let our son’s mate be taken, nor our grandchild.” 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 hadn’t been for his mother’s strength, he could have lost her. They gave each other hugs and they told his parents to stay safe.

“You don’t worry about us, we’ll be back before you know it.” Fain said. “Just take care of Fiora and that little baby.”

“I will dad.”

Once they were gone a little guilt washed over Fiora “I hate we aren’t helping”

“truly, they just want their granbaby safe honey. You’re doing precisely what they want, what I want as well” Fiora held a hand on her stomach and he knelt down, kissing her belly “I cant believe there’s really a baby in there” Fiora whispered. Kaleb looked up, his face bearing a loving expression “there is and I can’t wait to meet the little one. Fairy, demon and angel. He’s going to be interesting”

“I hope he’s lucky enough to be as handsome as his daddy” Kaleb chuckled “come, lets play one of our board games. I don’t want you worrying, even for a second.” 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 didn’t want them hurt by a miscarriage caused by stress.

~ The End

Maureen & Joey 4

Chapter One

Marit couldn’t believe her eyes, her very own laptop. She had thought her backpack was heavier when she grabbed it from her locker. She didn’t need it in her last two classes of the day so often stashed it there so she wouldn’t 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 “our little secret”. She didn’t even care, a million possibilities began rushing through her head. Her parents were so nosy about what she did online and wouldn’t allow her a Facebook because it was too dangerous ,dangerous? Really? She wasn’t 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 wouldn’t find it but her dad was so good with computers she just knew he’d 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 couldn’t 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 couldn’t 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 wouldn’t screw it up. Undoubtedly her father could figure out who gave this to her and she didn’t 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. “woah” she couldn’t 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. “Marit, come on sweetie, we’re going to the store.” Her mother said from downstairs, making her heart jump.

“Coming.” She quickly yelled back. She had to hide the laptop. Her mother sometimes came in to empty out her hamper and she didn’t 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 “sorry, I know we just got home but I have nothing to make us for dinner”

“It’s no problem mom” They went out to the car and soon were on the road “so how was school today baby?” Maureen asked. “same old same old, this year has been really easy for me so far”

“you’ve always been so smart. What would you like for dinner?”

“Chicken Fricassee?”

“sure, we will need a side too”

“Potatoes Anna with Apples and Sage?”

“Oh my gosh I’m glad I asked you” Marit laughed “I want more poptarts too while we’re at the store”

“okay, 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 checkout…well…thats just happens”

“really?”

“yeah, it’s 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 don’t have a lot of homework do you?”

“I have a paper to write so once we get home I’ll have to stay up on my room but besides that I’m good. I have time to hangout” Marit felt a tug of guilt. She never lied to her mother and it didn’t feel good to do it for the first time. She didn’t 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 didn’t want her mother buying her anything but knew it would look weird if she didn’t 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 “my parents are just being over protective” 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. She’d 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. “hey sweetie, don’t you have a paper?”

“couldn’t concentrate. I’m too hungry” Another lie, another tug at her heart doing something she wasn’t 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. “whatever that is it smells amazing” he remarked and Maureen kissed him ‘dinner was Marits idea. We’re 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. “That man is the biggest mess I’ve ever met but its funny and he’s a good guy” Laughing her mother Maureen said “well lets allow our daughter to finish her meal. Between me taking her shopping and your stories she’s never going to be able to work on her paper for school”

“You have a paper due?”

“yeah, I was planning to lock myself in my room after dinner”

“you’re going to hand write it?” Thats right, she normally typed her papers up and printed them in the living room, think fast, think fast. “yeah, 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 ourselves” Oh my god, how much was she going to have to lie to have this laptop.

“so I guess you have to take your time writing so it looks good”

“Yeah, thats a big part of the grade” she looked away from her trusting parents “could I eat in my room please?” she wasn’t 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. “Of course baby”

Both Maureen and Joey watched her leave and then Maureen asked, “Did she seem off to you?”

“School’s stressful.” He took her hand when she just frowned. “We can talk to her tomorrow, okay?”

“Alright. I know I’m probably being ridiculous.”

“Being a good mom is never ridiculous.”

Marit sat down on her bed with her plate in her hands, feeling horrible. She didn’t 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 wouldn’t 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 didn’t 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 she’d 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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 wasn’t uncommon for her to have tv as background noise, even for homework so they wouldn’t think anything of it. Marit started tagging herself in photos so she’d 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.

Chapter Two

She was surprised when another message popped up and it was the person whose name she hadn’t known. “Marit, are you there?” It asked.

She clicked over to it, typing in, “Yes.” She could see the dots in the box indicating this person was typing.

“Good, I’m glad. Do you like your gift?”

She swallowed. “Who is this?” She sat there waiting, not knowing why her heart was beating so hard.

“A friend.” 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?

“How do you know me?” She asked.

“I’ve seen you around and I wanted to talk to you. I’m so glad we can now.”

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. “Do I know you?”

“You will soon, Marit, just not yet.”

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 didn’t want him getting humiliated. “Okay, thank you then.”

“I had a spare and I’ve 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.” The little light by the built in camera came on, not bright but noticeable “a light just came on on the laptop? Did I do something to it?” She typed back and he soon answered “Just a quirk of an old laptop. Sorry I didn’t have anything better to give you” Anything better? She thought. This thing looked better than her fathers laptop. “It’s not going to bother me” she typed back but decided to google what that meant. Before she could see the results the laptop turned off “what?” 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 didn’t 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 didn’t live with a father as computer smart as hers without picking up a few things. Especially when he talked to his friends. Honestly you didn’t 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 hadn’t come on, if whomever hadn’t shut down her computer so she wouldn’t know why she might have kept this going but she wasn’t that stupid.

Marit couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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 couldn’t wait until morning, she ran to her parents bedroom and pounded on the door “Mom! Dad!” Her dad answered “what? Is everything okay honey?” he looked so scared and she spilled her guts. She could handle her parents anger and disappointment, she couldn’t handle some creep spying on her and taking her away from her parents. Facebook acess wasn’t worth that. She held up the laptop and his concerned face turned puzzled “where did you get that?”

“I…I found it in my backpack after school dad”

“you found it in your backpack?”

“yeah and it had a Facebook already made for me and…I just…I’ve wanted to have a Facebook so bad…I’m so sorry” she was already bawling and her mother popped out of the room “I think you need to make some coffee honey” Joey walked past and Marit could tell by the way he walked he was angry “I’m sorry mom”

“why are you confessing atthis hour baby? What happened?”

“I think whoever gave this to me was watching me the times I used it”

“lets follow your dad into the kitchen, explain to him why you think that and tell us both what you’ve been doing on there” 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. “Come sit down, Marit.” He said.

“I’m sorry dad.” 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. “First, 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.”

“I know, I just…”

“You wanted to be like your friends, but Marit, you are our daughter and we have these rules for a reason.” Maureen said.

“I know.”

Joey sighed. “Who gave this to you?”

“I don’t know, his name is just Tannin on Facebook.” She swallowed down the lump in her throat. “I think he was watching me last night.”

“What exactly happened?”

“Well, 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.”

“He 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 isn’t 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 laptop”

“I didn’t”

“good, so at least we don’t have to worry about him having put anything on there. I’d be taking that away anyway if I wasn’t so worried now. You need to be able to call us if something happens and we arent right there”

“I know about people being able to look at your computer from theres but how much could he see”

“I’ll go get my laptop and show you, Maureen, tart doing whatever on the desktop. Come with me Marit” As they sat back down in her parents bedroom Marit asked “so you already have stuff installed on our computer?”

“Not 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 there”

“I’m really sorry dad”

“I love you honey, I do and thats why I’m so upset.” Soon she could see everypage her mother had open, could even watch her type “Oh my god, he was seeing what I was talking about with my friends?”

“even as you wrote it”

“Oh my god”

“I haven’t 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 older…there 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 wasn’t going to come without strings attached honey” She started crying again and he set his laptop down to hug her “I’m just glad you told me now Marit, that you couldn’t even go twenty four hours lieing to us but it still hurts you would.”

“I’m sorry”

“You’re a good kid Marit, you always have been. You’ve 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 dug…you could have been gone before we knew anything” When she could pull it together again he took her back into the living room where Maureen had made Joey and herself coffee “You need to get some rest Marit. Your dad and I will deal with this laptop now” She hugged her mom and went to her bedroom. Joey spoke “I’m going to go to work. I’ll be right back”

“what for?”

“I’m going to get something to block him from accessing it. He’ll wipe out everything if he sees me on there”

“I can’t help you anyway if you just want to take it into work. I’ll put your coffee in a to go cup”

“what if theres some creep lurking around our home?”

“we have a gun and I know where it is and the combination to it hasn’t changed right?”

“No”

“I will be fine and I’ll keep an eye on Marit”

“’lll have my key so theres no reason to answer the door” She gave him a brief kiss “I know” he looked like he wanted to say so many things but he was a mess of stress, fear and hurt. “I knew something was wrong, we know our girl Joey. I’m 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 didn’t know it was about something so serious”

“what do we do about this?”

“Marit is obviously riddled with guilt. I don’t 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 it’s 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 two”

Joey nodded “well I better go, please, do not answer the door and dont talk to any of our friends or extended family about this yet. We…we don’t know who it is Maureen” As hard as that was to think about she understood his concern “Okay baby” Maureen poured his coffee into a travel cup and he finally left with the laptop to take it to work.

Chapter Three

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 couldn’t 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 couldn’t 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 couldn’t 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 couldn’t access the computer any longer. They asked him how then went on to further question him about Marit. They told him they’d 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.

“Marit.” Her voice being whispered startled her awake. “Marit.” 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 couldn’t 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.

“Mom?” She called.

“In the living room.” Marit swallowed. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, just a weird dream.” 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. “Do you want me to pick anything up?”

“Stuff for frito pie?”

“Sounds good. Everything okay there?”

“Yeah.”

“Alright, I’ll be home soon, love you.”

“Love you too.”

Marit didn’t 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. “Hey mom” Maureen hugged her daughter “Hey baby” She could tell Marit was waiting to know how she’d be punished “we just dont want you online for a few months. We will let you know when you’re allowed again.”

“Do you guys…I mean”

“Next time you decide to lie to us there will be much harsher consequences but this is the first time…that along with how bad you obviously feel is why its not so bad this time”

“I wont ever lie again. I promise. Am I going to school today?”

“No, I don’t 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 you”

“I don’t want to go but I dont want to fall behind”

“If we cant figure this out quickly I’m sure the school can send some work home. I can go ahead and call if you want”

“I’m just already struggling to keep a b in history”

“I’ll call today then honey”

Marit stayed paranoid while her mom was on the phone and even though she didn’t 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.

“Hello Marit.” 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. “If you don’t stop, I’ll have to hurt your mother, do you understand?” She froze, tears stinging her eyes. “Shh, it’s okay, I’m not here to hurt you, I promise. Now, are you going to be good?” She nodded. “Good.” He pulled his hand away from her mouth.

“How did you get in here?” She asked.

“Last night while you were sleeping.”

“Marit?” They both looked to the door. “Marit, honey, everything alright?”

“Tell her you’re fine.” His voice was so aggressive.

She swallowed. “Fine mom, just getting my homework.” She had to get away from him, had to signal her mother that he was in the house. “If I don’t go down, she’ll come up.”

“You’ll tell her.”

“I won’t I promise, but if I don’t go down then you won’t be able to see me, right?” She didn’t dare look over her shoulder, too afraid. He finally pulled her back up.

“Fine, but if you say anything, I’ll know and I’ll hurt her, you know I will.”

“I promise.” He let her go and she moved away, finally turning around and looking him over. “I need my bag.” He grabbed it and held it out to her. “Th…thanks.”

“You come back to me soon, okay?”

“I will.” 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.

“You okay baby?”

“Yeah, fine.” She quickly scribbled a message and tapped the page.

Maureen leaned over and read : He’s upstairs. She looked at Marit’s face and she slightly nodded. “That’s good, maybe later we can make cookies.”

“Sounds good.” She wrote another message: I’m scared. I want to leave.

They were near the door, much nearer than this pedophile was. If he didn’t trust Marit to keep quite he wouldn’t 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 “He was in Marits room. He’s 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 he’s probably gone again now”

“what exactly happened?”

“you’ll need to ask Marit” Maureen handed the phone over. She explained the events to her father who said “alright, I love you, please give the phone back to your mother” Maureen was still going way too fast but tried to slow down as she took the phone back. “go to the police station and tell them whats happened. Don’t leave, I’m coming back there”

“okay”

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 didn’t 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. “Why do you think he let her go?” He asked the officer who had been questioning them.

“He may have wanted to stay in her good graces or he though she would be too scared to try anything since she’s a child.” He pushed a piece of paper across the table. “Do you recognize him?”

Joey looked at the sketch of the man who had broken into his home. There was something familiar about him, but Joey couldn’t place him. “I mean he looks maybe a little familiar, but I don’t know.”

“You could have just walked past him at some point while you were out, while he was following your daughter.”

“Maybe.” He studied the face again. “If I remember anything, I’ll let you know.” He gave the sketch back. “What if he comes back?”

“We’ve already discussed posting an officer in front of and behind your house with your wife.”

Joey rubbed his face “we’re supposed to go home?”

“they’ll be watching sir. Your family will be safe” Joey looked at Marit “will you be able to go home honey?”

“can I sleep with you and mom?”

“of course”

“then I think I can. He…he had to have been under my bed” Joey looked back at the cops “you had to have found somthing on that computer? Right?”

“we don’t give out incomplete information sir, I’m sorry. Why dont you just take your family home with officer Hartly and officer Gare” Joey didn’t like the idea of going home but sitting in the police department wasn’t 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. “Why don’t you come and help me make frito pie.” Maureen said to Marit, wanting to get her mind off of the man who had broken in.

“Alright, mom.”

“I’m going to go get the gun, okay?” Joey said as he kissed Maureen’s cheek. She nodded and he went to their room to pull it out of the safe. He didn’t 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.

“You alright, honey?” Maureen asked as she rubbed Marit’s back.

“No, not really. I’m sorry.” She swallowed down the lump forming in her throat. “It’s my fault he came here.”

“It’s not, baby.”

“But…”

“The 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.”
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 “Oh Marit, Marit I love you. Come see me in prison. Please, I love you so much” Maureen who had come out behind Marit tugged her, wanting her to come back inside “Marit!” he yelled her name again as they forced her stalker into the cop car. “are you okay Marit?” Her mother asked softly “I dont know…I never worried about anything before but…mom he was so crazy. He loves me…what the hell”

“I dont want you to spend your life afraid baby”

“but you were kidnapped when you were a baby and now this…I’m not sure I ever want to go anywhere again” she began to cry “Oh Marit” 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

Elowen & Birch

Chapter One

Mei smiled back at little Tod as he buckled up in her backseat then drove away from the school “How was your day?”

“Great! Is mommy home yet?”

“Just two more nights” He just continued to smile as he began to look out the window so she put in one of his CD’s 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 she’d 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 “Mommy’s home! Her car wasn’t there so she shut off the car and turned “I’m sorry baby she isn’t.”

“But theres someone in the house and only we live there”

“what makes you say that” He looked back at the house “Oh…I thought I saw her peeking out the window” her heart started thudding “Tod, are you sure you saw someone”

“Yeah…I mean…I really think so Ms Mei” She had been running errands all day and while they lived in a nice neighborhood it didn’t make it impossible for someone to have broken into their home. He was only nine, maybe he had been seeing things but it wasn’t worth the risk to her “Okay buddy, lets go to Mr Birch’s home”

“You think somethings wrong?”

“I don’t know but lets be safe okay” Birch was one of Elowens close friends, someone Mei knew wouldn’t mind if she came unannounced with Tod. She wanted to call Elowen through the car but Tod would be able to hear and she didn’t 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 wasn’t in the drive way. She parked, calling Elowen who answered quickly “Hey Mei, i can’t really talk, I had to step out of a meeting”

“I’m so sorry to bother you Elowen, I really am. I just had to check if you came home early and were trying to surprise Tod”

“No, why would you think that” she sounded concerned “When I was pulling in he thought he saw somebody in the window. I’m not trying to be over dramatic, I’m really not but he seems so sure so I drove to Birch’s house instead of taking him in”

“what did Birch say?”

“He isn’t home”

“well stop apologizing to me, I’d rather you be safe than sorry when you’re alone there with my son. I’ll tell everyone I need to go back to my room for now and I’ll call Birch, I’ll make it a conference call” The line was muted a few moments before Elowen was back and calling Birch who soon answered “Hey, I’m surprised to be hearing from you. I thought you were still gone. Are you home already?”

“you aren’t the first person to ask me that. Elowen is on the phone with us, she’s at your place.” Mei explained again and he said “I’m almost home, just wait for me alright. I’ll take care of this Elowen, don’t worry”

“Thank you Birch, thank you so much. Sometimes I don’t know what I’d do without you and Mei.”

“well hopefully nothing is wrong, Bane is still inside isn’t he? I’m sure he would have taken care of an intruder huh Tod”

“yeah” 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. “I’m going to go check Elowen’s place.” He said.

“Just be careful, if someone’s in there, Elowen wouldn’t want you getting hurt.” Mei replied.

“Don’t worry, just lock the door and make yourself at home, I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Can Bane come over?” Tod asked.

“Of course, he’s always welcome.”

Birch left them there and climbed back into his car, calling Elowen as he pulled away. “Are they alright?” She asked when she answered.

“Perfectly fine, I’m heading over to your place to check it out and get Bane.”

“Maybe you should call the police?”

“I will if there’s anyone there, I promise. I have my gun in the car, so don’t worry.”

“Still, stay safe and call me after.”

“I will.”

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 “hey, calm down buddy” Birch whispered as he began to pet him “is there anybody else in there?” 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 “is there something I’m missing?” he asked the dog who continued to sit. Birch stood there a few moments before asking “are we in here for a reason buddy?” 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 didn’t 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.

“You didn’t find anyone?”

“Just an unlocked window. I’m going to have Mei and Tod stay a couple of nights just to make sure, but I didn’t see anything out of place, I mean as far as I know. I’ll be sure to go back and check again when they’re ready to go home.”

“Thank you so much Birch.”

“You know it’s not a problem, just focus on work and I’ll hold down the fort.”

She gave a little laugh and it had him smiling. “I’ll call them a little later then, you’re the best Birch.”

“You’re pretty amazing yourself, talk to you later.”

Elowen smiled down at her phone a few moments before returning to the meeting that had apparently ended. She couldn’t 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 didn’t like it she’d find another job. It wasn’t likely he’d fire her since she’d risen so far up in the company and always worked hard but she still knew one day it might bite her in the butt. She’d figure it out if that ever happened though.

Tod ran to his dog when Birch returned home. “is everything okay at the house?” Mei asked. “Your window was unlocked but I couldn’t find anybody inside. If you’d like to be sure you two are safe you’re welcome to stay here with me. I already told Elowen I’d off so you don’t need to check with her”

“I suppose for at least tonight. Hopefully Tod was simply seeing things”

“yeah” Birch walked over to the boy and his dog “do you have home work?”

“Yeah”

“why don’t you do it quick then maybe you and I can play some video games”

“sure!” Birch looked over at Mei “If you’d 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 isn’t home”

“are you sure?”

“I don’t have any plans”

“Okay, thank you, if you decide you need me to take over though just call me. I’ll come back as quickly as I can. I will also stop back at the house to pick up things for tonight and in the morning”

“By yourself?”

“I’m sure it will be fine. You already checked the house”

“I don’t know, I’d hate for you to go back alone so soon and something happen.”

“well, I guess we can sort it out when I’m on the way back”

“alright, have fun” Mei sent a text to Elowen. She knew it was most likely okay but she still wanted to be sure Elowen wouldn’t 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. “Want pizza tonight, Tod?” Birch asked.

“Yeah, can we have pineapples on half?”

“Of course.” 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. “Do you need any help or anything?”

“Maybe a little. I don’t understand this math problem.”

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 “I’m so happy I’m hanging out with you tonight. Mei would of made something healthy again” Birch chuckled “Mei and your mother just want to make sure you’re healthy. I can spoil you because I know they take such good care of you at home”

“Yeah…is my mom coming back soon?”

“Hopefuly it wont be too much longer” Tod smiled “you miss her a lot too huh” Birch fought down a blush “yeah, well, she’s my friend” 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 wasn’t sure it was appropriate to talk about with her son so he didn’t 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 didn’t 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 “Mei, care to have some wine with me and talk?”

“sounds serious, sure” They went into his kitchen where he grabbed them each a glass then began looking through his wine “My curiosity is peaked, whats up?” she asked as he looked. He sighed, looking over at her “I just…I wanted to ask if you knew anything about Tods father” he couldn’t tell if she was shocked, horrified or a mixture of both “why would you ask about that?”

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked”

“why are you asking? Someone was in Elowens home weren’t they?”

“No there wasn’t, what would that have to do with Tods father?”

“Birch I’ve always liked you but you have to be straight with me. Why are you asking?”

“because 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 doesn’t date, she doesn’t even mention being attracted to anyone. I I’m sorry for asking” Mei sighed “jesus you scared me Birch.”

“seriously, what is the deal with his father?”

“The deal is he’s a monster, a literal monster and I never want to hear you ask about him ever again understand? Don’t you dare hurt her or Tod that way. Elowen has already moved twice to keep him away from her son.” Mei shook her head, lifting her hands a moment in an obvious storm of emotions “I can’t have you asking Elowen about this so lets get on your computer. I need to show you something” 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 “what does this news article have to do with Tods father”

“he’s the one who was doing this. He’d 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 possible” Birch read the article then said in horror “but this says he was never caught…how”

“Tods father is a literal monster. Elowen didn’t 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 couldn’t just act like he wasn’t 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 him”

“He didn’t take that well”

“He 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 again…I 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 him”

“How can she even stand to be friends with me…I’m not human”

“she didn’t suddenly become a racist Birch, she’s changed her name twice and she cant be completely honest about her past. Damn it Birch she’ll kill me for saying this but she loves you too. She’s 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 can’t bring this up”

“But I’ll protect her”

“You can’t promise that Birch. She’s 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.”

“I can promise it, Mei, because I mean it. I’m not letting him have either of them and I’m not letting her just disappear.” He sighed. “She’s become so important to me, it’s like…it’s like finding a part of yourself you never knew you were missing.”

“But…”

“You all know what I can do, but he doesn’t. If he steps into this house, he won’t be leaving. I’ll discuss everything with Elowen once I know she and Tod are safe. Doesn’t she know what it would have felt like waking up one day to find her gone? I won’t let some creature ruin their lives again.”

Mei swallowed. “What are you going to do?”

“I’m a monster too, Mei, just a different kind. I’ll lure him out if I have too or hound him to the ends of the earth because if I don’t then he won’t stop, he’ll just keep chasing them until he has them cornered. He’s a predator and a killer and he won’t stop.” He shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair. “Even if she hates me, I can’t let her fight alone. I just can’t.”

Meis phone going off startled her. She grabbed it “it’s Elowen…well…I guess now I should say Nadja”

“Nadja” Birch repeated. Mei nodded, a few tears streaming down her cheek “I’m so scared she’s going to hate me…she’s like a sister to me but I do want her safe…I don’t want her to have to be afraid anymore”

“It’s all going to be okay, I’ll make sure of it. What is she saying” Mei wiped her face and checked her messages “she’s just reminding me to pick her up at 10am tomorrow”

“we will all go”

“she’s going to know somethings up right when we get her”

“I know and thats why I want to come too…Nadja though…that sounds Danish right?” mei nodded again “yeah, her dad was from the Netherlands”

“was?”

“they died in a car accident when she was a teenager. She doesn’t really have any family since her parents weren’t close to anybody they were related to. One of her friends parents allowed her to come live with them so she didn’t have to go to foster care or anything.”

“I see, so her parents did die”

“sh’s lied to you as little as possible you know. Most everything you know about her is true”

“I believe that…what’s Tods name?”

“well his birth name is Cailean but even if she does get to a safe point in her life I think she’ll leave it as Tod. It’s the name he knows”

“Cailean and Nadja” Mei shifted uncomfortably “I’m going to go to bed okay” she stood and Birch said “Hey…even if she’s mad at first…when I get rid of her ex I know she’ll forgive you”

“I hope you’re right”

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 “whats wrong?”

“Nothing really”

“I know that face Mei” Tod hugged his mother, taking her attention “Mommy”

“Hey hadnsome, I missed you so much”

“I missed you too.”

“did you have fun with Birch and Mei”

“Yeah!” he said excitedly. “good” she stood up straight and looked over at Birch “You’ll have to let me thank you in some way” she hugged him and he gently held her until she pulled away “Lets go” Once in the car Elowen asked “Do you need some time off after that break in scare Mei? I understand if you do. You look so tense”

“well…we kind of need to talk…Birch and I figured we could take Tod out to buy a new toy set then we’d go home and talk while he plays in his room”

“Oh…Okay”

“yay!” Tod exclaimed gleefully.

Chapter Two

“Birch, is everything alright?” Elowen asked as they browsed toys.

“I just want to wait until we’re back.”

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 couldn’t 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.

“Don’t worry, it’s just important and not something I want to discuss in public.”

“Okay.”

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. “I’m sorry about the tension you’ve felt about this talk. Your life has apparently had enough tension in it. Please, just listen to me before you react okay?”

“Okay…” she looked at Mei again and in her heart she knew Birch knew. Hers sunk as she listened “I 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 don’t have to be afraid anymore Nadja, you or Cailean. I’m not human either and I can protect you. I promise I can. I refuse to lose you and Tod. I’m happy to keep calling you guys whatever names you prefer but I love you and Mei says you love me too…I get why you haven’t gone out with me and I get why you’ve kept stuff to yourself. I know you’re really only thinking of Tod but please don’t run, allow me to love and protect you”

He could tell she was processing “Mei…why” Elowen finally said “he started asking about Tods dad and I panicked” It about broke him when she started to softly cry “we could all die. I ever make the smallest blip on the radar as myself and he finds me.”

“I know I…I’m sorry”

“It;s okay, I don’t hate you I promise” 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 “you really want to get involved in this Birch? You should think about if we’re really worth it”

“I 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 can’t even picture my life without you”

“I just don’t want anyone to get hurt. I just want him to leave me and Tod alone.”

“It’s okay, Elowen.” He moved to sit next to her and wrapped his arms around her. “I’m not letting him touch any of you. He can try, but he’ll have to come through me.”

“I love you, I really do so much.”

“I love you too, so don’t run away, it’d kill me.”

“That means I’ll have to explain to Tod.”

He shook his head. “You don’t have to worry about that right now. You can explain everything to him when he’s a little older, I know he’ll understand.” He kissed her forehead. “You’re a wonderful mother, Elowen, you know that right?” She nodded and he leaned back and wiped the tears from her cheeks. “Everything’s going to be alright.”

“I really like this name by the way, Elowen. I’d just like you to keep calling us Elowen and Tod, even after Tod knows”

“alright, is it okay if we draw him out on purpose? I’d rather just knock him out now”

“lets wait, I promised Tod I’d let him go to summer camp. I’d rather him be nowhere near me when my ex finds me. I’ll pay in cash so he wont have any leads as to where Tod is. He of course also doesn’t know his current name”

“alright, I’ll take two months of bliss before I have to deal with him”

“and you’re sure there was nobody here?”

“I’m sure, just a kids imagination. He always wants you home so bad”

“I know, I hate I ever have to go but I make such good money I hate to quit.”

“Well, if you ever feel like staying home, you two can always move in with me.” She opened her mouth and he shook his head. “You don’t 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.”

“You’re too kind, Birch.”

“It’s easy when it’s you.”

Even though she knew Birch wasn’t far, Elowen still spent two months looking over her shoulder. She knew what her ex was capable of and she didn’t 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 couldn’t help but reiterate to Tod that he should never go off alone and that if anyone approached him he didn’t know, he should run and get help.

“I promise mom, I’ll be so good. Thank you for letting me go this year”

“I’m sorry if I’m over protective at times” Tod hugged her “you’re a good mom. I know you just love me” She watched him join the group of kids he’d be there with. Birch stood beside her, waiting patiently for Elowen to be ready to walk away. “He’s going to have so much fun Elowen”

“I know, this will just be the longest we’ve ever been apart and I’m nervous about…you know.” Once she couldn’t 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 “I cant believe you even did this drive with me”

“It was fun” her heart trembled “you know…if we make it through my ex…I think I’ll be ready to talk to Tod about us living with you”

“really?”

“Yeah, you’ve been so great…please don’t let yourself get killed”

“You’ve never seen me in action. I’ll be fine, I’m not even worried Elowen. We’ll be great, especially if Mei got everything set up that I asked her to while we were driving Tod here”

“I’ll text her and see how everything is going” It took about twenty minuets for her to text them back “No problems here. Just drive safe you two. I’m done and out with some friends”

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. “Remember the plan?” He asked as he took her hand.

“Yeah, just go out and sit in the backyard and try not to panic.”

“You can do it, baby, I know you can. I won’t let him touch you, I just need him out in the open.”

“I know, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

She had to do this, especially for Tod. He was so young and he deserved a stable childhood. “Where will you be again?” She asked when they finally pulled into her driveway.

“In the tree. I’m going to walk a block down and come in the back way.”

“Okay.” 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 wasn’t 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. “Birch wont let him hurt you. It’s going to be okay” she told herself, now looking at her phone. Her min wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 Elowen’s racing heart and knew this must be terrifying for her. The monster’s 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 monster’s throat and broke his neck. He didn’t 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. “It’s okay now, baby, everything’s okay.”

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. “Is he really dead?” She asked. “Is it really over?”

“Yes, you’re safe now, you and Tod and Mei.”

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. “let me get you inside.” He picked her up and took her to the sofa since it was nearest. “let me handle calling the police. Want me to turn the tv on?’”

“No, they will come right away and I’ll have to talk to them too. I want to make sure they know everything so you dont end up in jail”

“I have his claw marks on me and with dna they will tie him to the murders. He’s also on your property when you haven’t been together for some time. The police will believe us honey” 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 couldn’t 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

Kay & Shawn

Chapter One

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 didn’t 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 wasn’t 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 couldn’t 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 wouldn’t 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 mother’s number and called. “Kay?”

“Hey mom, I need to talk to you.”

“Is everything alright?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s wrong honey?”

“It’s…it’s Shawn, he…” she swallowed, “there’s something going on and…” The front door opening and Shawn walking in startled her. “Hey, I’ll call you back.” She hung up before her mom could say anything else and stood when she saw Shawn clutching his head. “Shawn? Are you alright?”

He shook his head. “I had to leave work, my head started throbbing.” He kicked off his shoes, letting out a groan. “I don’t know…it feels like my head is being split open.” She helped him over to the couch.

“Let me get you a Tylenol.” She started to move away and he grabbed her hand.

“Just sit with me please.”

“Okay.” She dropped down next to him.

“Were you on the phone?”

“Yeah, talking to my mom.”

“Sorry.” He clutched his head tighter. “Maybe that Tylenol was a good idea.”

“I’ll be right back” she hurried off,thankful to find it in the bathroom cabinet where it was supposed to be. She may be worried he wasn’t himself but she had loved Shawn for years and she couldn’t 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. “I love you so much Kay” 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 he’s letting on or maybe he’s forgotten things.

Hannah had run outside to talk to Adam who was playing football with his friends. “what’s up?”

“Kay just gave me a really strange call about her husband. It was cut short, I’m worried”

“what do you want to do?”

“I just feel like we should go there. I know it’s two hours but I’m that worried about her. She sounded really upset”

“Go pack for us and I’ll say bye to the guys” 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 “I’m sorry”

“You have nothing to worry about. They come over plenty”

“Its just if something wrong I dont want to wait until she’s already in some sort of danger…I wish she hadn’t moved so far away”

“I would have moved anywhere for you” he kissed her head then continued “Shawn already had a good job and home where he lived. It made sense. We’ll go drop in on them and make sure all is well. We were over due for a visit anyway”

Shawn’s 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. “No, please, I’ll be fine.” He said.

“Shawn.”

“Please.”

She ran her fingers through his hair, trying to comfort him. “Why not?”

“I…” he looked so confused, “I don’t know, I just can’t.”

“Alright, we won’t go.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Can you at least tell me how it started?”

He nodded. “I was just sitting there working on my computer and then it was like everything just…I don’t know like I was suddenly overwhelmed by everything.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just everything, sound, light, smells, everything. My head felt like someone had hit me with a bat or something. I don’t know, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.” He shook his head. “Hey, it’s going to be okay. Why don’t I help you to bed then make you something to eat.”

“I don’t think I could.”

“It might help.”

“Okay, I’ll try.”

She paused then asked a question she felt might be ill timed but she had to ask again “Shawn…have you really told me everything you remember? I mean…to still be having so many problems and for you still to be so against being looked at…are you scared of doctors now or” 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 “I love you Kay” he could see her disappointment “I love you too, I’m sorry, you don’t feel good and I’m pressuring you”

“No…it’s okay” 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 “I love you Kay” she pulled out of it and tugged him in the direction of their room “you should really lay down” He followed her, settling into their bed without protest. She left the room to see what they had in their kitchen.

Shawn didn’t realize he had dozed off until he jerked awake a few minutes later. He knew it hadn’t been long because Kay hadn’t returned and he could smell something cooking downstairs. He lay there in the darkness, his heart pounding in his chest. He hated he couldn’t 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 didn’t blame her. The thought that he wasn’t him was terrifying. “Stop it.” He said it out loud. “You can’t think like that.”

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. “We’re on our way over honey.” Hannah said when she picked up.

“Mom, it’s fine, I think I was just overreacting.”

“You and I both know that isn’t true. We’ll be over soon and we’ll figure everything out then.”

She hated she had worried her parents so much. “Okay, love you, just stay safe.”

“we will, your father has only been in one accident in his life” 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 hadn’t 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 “may I remind you I manged to slow down to ten miles an hour before I hit you?” Hannah laughed then kissed his cheek “I thought the situation needed a little teasing in it. I’m so stressed”

“don’t be, we’ll 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 didn’t feel like he’d do anything for her. If something has replaced Shawn we will find the real Shawn and if something is simply just wrong with Shawn we’ll figure that out. Maybe its more scientist crap. Maybe he’s so different because he’s not human any longer.”

“you mean like a wolf or vampire?”

“Yeah I mean, humans have been changed many times before”

“why would something change him then give him back”

“have you forgotten how crazy living forever makes some beings? Who knows”

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. “Kay? Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, food’s ready.” She brushed her fingers through his hair. “Do you want to come eat with me or do you want me to bring it to you?”

“I’ll come eat with you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I want to.”

He pushed the blanket back and sat up, feeling a little dizzy. “You okay?”

“Just dizzy, but better than I was.” He pulled her into a hug. “Sorry for everything, for scaring you and just everything.”

“It’s okay, it’s not your fault.” She pulled back, giving him a smile. “Come on, let’s eat.”

He was getting more and more concerned that he was loseing her. She was saying everything was okay but he knew it wasn’t. He knew if he could just make himself go to the hospital she’d be more comfortable but he couldn’t. “when I’m feeling better can we do something together Kay? We haven’t really left the house except for groceries and work since I was abducted”

“Yeah…though, my parents are coming”

“oh”

“I’m sorry, I know we normally run these things by eachother” He kissed her hand “It’s okay” 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.

Chapter Two

“This looks really good.” Shawn said once they were sitting together in the kitchen. He still wasn’t hungry, but he took a bite anyway. He had always loved Kay’s cooking.

“Any good?” She asked.

“Very, thank you.”

“You know, if you want, we could go on a walk after. I can just text my mom and let her know.”

“Okay, sounds good.”

She reached over and took his hand, giving it a squeeze. “Everything’s going to be okay, Shawn. I love you.”

“I love you too, I really do, more than you know.” 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.

“You ready, baby?” Kay asked.

“Yeah.”

They decided just to start walking down the road so they wouldn’t 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t used to having close neighbors and he wasn’t really for country living but she was fine like this. Kay just needed to feel like she had some privacy.

“I’m really happy we’re doing this Kay”

“we shouldn’t stay locked up in our home and…well I shouldn’t be as distant as I get at times”

“I know you’re dealing with…well…me as best you can”

“Shawn I…I’m sorry.”

“Lets talk about something happy”

“Like what?”

“that new show you’ve been watching, tell me about whats going on”

“Well, it’s been sad.”

“I’m sorry, did one of your favorite characters die?”

“No, just the characters are going through a lot emotionally and the actors are so good it makes me cry.”

He actually cracked a smile. “Maybe I’ll have to start cuddling you while you watch it.”

She nudged him. “So mean.”

“I’ll be sure to bring the tissues.” They laughed together and in that moment everything felt normal. He pulled her closer and pressed a kiss to her temple. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” 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, Kay’s shampoo. He stopped dead in his tracks and brought his hands up, trying to block out the sound. “Shawn? Baby are you okay?”

“It’s happening again, it’s so loud.” He tried to pinpoint it and realized it was coming from Kay.

“It’s okay, let’s get back home.” He looked so panicked and upset. “Come on.”

“no…I” all the noise was making it hard for him to talk, he couldn’t think over it. “It’s okay, we’ll walk another time. I wont be upset, I promise”

“I’m sorry” she tugged him back toward their home, her heart beating faster out of worry. They weren’t inside long when her parents showed up. They both heard them pull up in the driveway. “Why don’t you go lay back down. Make sure to refill your glass of water first”

“okay…I’ll come out when I feel a bit better” She kissed him “you don’t have to come back out tonight okay”

“I don’t want to be weird”

“You’re fine, someone kidnapped you and abused you Shawn. My parents will understand” 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. “I’m okay mom.” She let them in then hugged her dad.

“I know, I’m sorry we decided to come over uninvited, but the way you hung up worried me.”

“It’s okay, I’m actually really glad you’re here.”

“Where’s Shawn?” Her father asked.

“In bed.” She sighed. “He’s been having episodes.” They went and sat in the living room together, Hannah on one side of her and Adam on the other.

“What do you mean?” Hannah asked.

“He 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. I’m scared and he’s scared and I just don’t know what to do. He doesn’t remember anything, but whatever happened to him must have been bad. He’s also picked up cooking, which I wouldn’t usually complain, but it’s not something he was good at.”

“Did you try getting him to go to the hospital?”

“He won’t go, he’s terrified.”

“If Eric were closer, we could get him to come over, he might be able to pick something up.” Adam said. He hated how worried his little girl looked.

“I couldn’t bother Uncle Eric as well…”

“You just want to know what’s going on with your husband, anybody would. I can ask him, it never hurts to ask.” Before she could protest any more Adam was already calling. Hannah now spoke “we’re all over due for a get together. You two don’t visit enough”

“Shawn just works so much”

“I know”

“How’s Meredith? We’ve only spoken on the phone once since she started college. I always feel like I’m going to call at a bad time”

“It’s an adjustment. High School was so easy for her she likes having a challenge”

“Gosh, we all need to see eachother more.” Adam was already off the phone “that was quick” Kay was the first to note. Adam responded with “he wanted to help just like I knew he would”

“well let me go up and talk to my husband. I don’t want to surprise him again”

Shawn was curled up under the blankets when Kay came in, her presence heralded by that same thumping sound. “Shawn?” 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.

“Hey beautiful.” He answered, his pain evident in his voice.

“Has it stopped?”

“No, I can hear something coming from you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like…like a thumping sound.”

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. “Does it sound like a drum?” She asked as a thought dawned on her.

“Yeah.”

“Shawn, I think it’s my heart.”

He shook his head. “That’s…that’s crazy.”

“But it’s possible.” She bent down and kiss his cheek. “Eric’s coming over to help.”

“He is?”

“Yeah, maybe he’ll be able to pick something up from your thoughts. Is that okay?”

“Yeah, sorry, my head just hurts.”

“I wish I didn’t make it worse”

“You make it better too…I’d rather have you with me…the last thing I want is to alienate you Kay” His words held so much emotion she had to lean down and kiss him. Kay hugged Shawn gently as she said “I’m not going anywhere. I’m really sorry I haven’t been taking this better”

“I’m not who you married anymore…there’s something wrong with me”

“Not wrong, just something we need to learn how to handle”

“You really think I can get used to this”

“I’m sure you can, I’m even more sure there has got to be a way for you to control all this” He let out a shakey breath as he got up so he could give her a quick kiss “I really do love you Kay”

“I know you do, you don’t have to keep reminding me Shawn”

“I do, what if…”

“There’s no what if, Shawn, I’m not going anywhere and I’m sorry I made you think for a second I would. I love you so much and I we’re going to get through this.”

Shawn swallowed the lump forming in his throat as he nodded. “You should go visit with your parents.”

“Are you going to be okay without me?”

“Yeah, go ahead.”

“Call me if that changes.”

“I will.”

She gave him another kiss and waited until he had settled back into bed before leaving him to spend time with her parents. “How is he?” Hannah asked.

“His head hurts and he can apparently hear my heart beating.”

“That sounds like heightened senses.” Adam said.

“Do you know what could have caused it?”

“A lot of things. Vampires, werewolves, some sort of experiment, it could be anything. You said he doesn’t want to go to the hospital, could be the last one.”

Hannah nodded. “You know what happened to me, sweetie, those places are awful.”

“I hope he hasn’t been through something like that.”
“well if he has I can help him come to terms with it” 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 “we were babysitting our grandchildren. Ivy is going to come along in a few days if I’m still here”

“Oh yeah Christopher and Shena are on that cruise” Adam said as Kays heart sunk “I’m so sorry” he waved her off “we see our grandchildren all the time. Plus Ivy can handle them on her own. She’s probably happy she doesn’t have to share with me now” he said with almost a chuckle. He looked around “where is Shawn?”

“resting, he was just laying down but he may have fallen asleep”

“thats fine, we’ll work on this in the morning then”

“Both the guests rooms are ready if everyone is tired”

“will you be able to rest honey? I’ll stay up” Hannah asked her daughter who answered “yeah, I’ll be fine, please, I’m so grateful you all came. Get rest” 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 didn’t want to wake the children if she had gotten them down.

Shawn woke the next morning, his headache gone, the only noise Kay’s soft breathing. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into him, burying his nose in her neck as she woke. “Shawn? You alright?”

“Yeah, just wanted to hold you.”

She wrapped her arms around him and ran her fingers through his hair. “How are you feeling?”

“Better. Is Eric here?”

“Yeah, but he wanted to let you sleep.” She kissed the top of his head. “Want to help me make breakfast?”

“Can we shower first?”

“Of course, baby.”

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 didn’t 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.

“Kay?” Shaw grabbed her hand as she went to open their bedroom door.

“Yeah?”

“If something bad happened, if I’m not Shawn…I…” He swallowed the lump in his throat and squeezed her hand. “If I’m not Shawn…”

“Hey, that’s enough of that.” She wrapped her arms around him and he clung tightly to her. “You’re Shawn, my Shawn, no matter what. Even if something awful happened, we’ll get through it, I promise.”

Chapter Three

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 “Hey, we’re going to make some breakfast. Are you guys hungry?”

“Yeah, we wanted to wait on you too” Hannah said then Adam added “since he’s having trouble with over sensitivity to sound we were worried we’d interrupt your rest”

“thank you” Shawn said behind her, drawing their attention “good morning” Hannah got up, kissing her daughters cheek while she passed then hugging Shawn, knowing he probably needed reassurance from them they didn’t feel weird about him now. He gratefully hugged his mother in law back then said “Kay and I have breakfast. I’m actually really good at cooking now”

As he and Kay cooked breakfast together, Eric allowed himself to slip into Shawn’s 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.

“Mom, dad could you set the table? Uncle Eric, do you mind pouring everyone some coffee?”

They all moved to do as she asked and then she and Shawn brought the food over once they were done and filled everyone’s plates. “Um, so how are we going to do this?” Shawn asked once he was seated.

“I’ve already looked a little and I couldn’t find much about where you were taken.” Eric answered.

“Oh, I see.”

“That doesn’t mean I won’t find something. Once we’re finished here, I’d like to ask you a few questions to see if maybe they bring anything up. Your memories are fragmented because you’re scared of them, but maybe if I prompt them, I’ll see something.”

“Okay”

“Your mind just reacts to certain questions so don’t worry. I should see something. Even if it doesn’t work at first we can try this every day until it does… We wont give up on you. You’ve been too good to our Kay” 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.

“Before you two woke up we were talking about your brother Brayden” Hannah said, looking at Kay “Oh, what about him? I feel so behind on all three of my siblings lives”

“well he’s back in college, he’s decided to finish.”

“I’m so relieved to hear that…it 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.”

“he’s had some time to heal from it and we pointed out to him he’ll now be two years behind her in classes so they shouldn’t have to see much of eachother now”

“I didn’t think of that, that is a plus.”

“We’re going to have to find the time to get everyone together. I miss them and you guys.” Kay said.

“We miss you too, but we understand. Life happens and you have to deal with it before you can do anything else.” 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. “You ready?” Eric asked.

“Yeah, I mean no, but yes, I need to do this.”

“I want you to do something for me then, close your eyes and just relax.”

“Okay.” 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 didn’t 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. “Lets start with Kay driving away to head to work. What was the first thing you did?”

“I promised myself I was going to finish that book I had been trying to read for a few months…I put some water on the stove so I could have some hot tea while I read…I 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 couldn’ have been Kay, she has keys and anybody we knew would have just knocked. I just knew there were bad people at the door”

Shawns heart rate was already spiking and he held on to Kays hand a little tighter. She rubbed his arm and Eric prompted “and what else, when they came in. What did they look like” What they looked like had been one of the areas Shawn had been struggling with so Eric hoped he’d 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. “lets stop a second while I see them clearly” he announced. Eric wrote down all the details he could so they could give it to the police and have it for themselves. It wouldn’t be the first time this family played detective. You couldn’t always wait for the cops, not if you were anxious for answers. Often police departments had far too much on their plates.

“Alright, now did they say anything?”

“No, but I kept asking them what they wanted and…”

“You threw hot water in one of their faces. You thought if you blinded at least one you would have a chance.”

“Yeah.”

“Then you were knocked unconscious.”

“The next thing I knew, I was back home.”

Eric nodded. “Okay, but let’s go back. You had been taken somewhere else, I’ve seen little flashes of it. Try remembering the room you were kept in and who might have visited you there.”

“I…” Shawn squeezed Kay’s hand. “There was…someone.” 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 Shawn’s 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.

“What did he do Shawn?” Eric asked. “Why are you afraid of going to the hospital?”

“He…he…” he shook his head. “I don’t know, I can’t remember, it’s there, but…”

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. “It’s okay Shawn, let’s get away from that.” 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 didn’t have to push him too much.

“we’re done Shawn” Eric said sadly and Shawn grabbed onto Kay, holding her tightly to him as Eric spoke again “he isn’t human any longer. I’m 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 he’l inherit from the blood of that being he might gain extra powers, powers like we all have Kay” Kay kissed Shawn and his lips trembled against hers “I love you, I’m so sorry” Eric stood and looked over at Adam and Hannah “we should go, I’ve seen where he came from and what these beings look like”

“Shouldn’t I help?” Shawn asked, letting go of Kay. Eric shook his head “Kay doesn’t have any abilities and I don’t want her left alone. Beyond that you haven’t come to terms with your own yet. I’d 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 Kay” 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 “If Ivy calls me update her please”

“we will”

They left and Shawn dropped his head onto Kay’s shoulder. She ran her fingers through his hair, helping to ease the tension out of his body. “Are you okay?” She asked softly.

“No, not really.” He swallowed. “I don’t know what to do or think. I mean at least I’m not a clone right?”

“Shawn, it’s okay to be upset.”

He sighed. “I know.”

“I know I’ve already said it, but I’m sorry about being so distant. I should have been more supportive of you, I should have been helping you through this.”

“I understand Kay, you were scared too.” He lifted his head and kissed her. “I love you and hopefully we can get back to normal, at least mostly normal.”

“I’m just glad my family came. I should have called them sooner…I was so worried to voice my concerns…I didn’t want to hurt you Shawn but I guess I was doing that anyway by being weird”

“we don’t have to talk about that ever again. Just let me hold you” 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 “He really had to run all that way?” Hannah asked sadly “Yeah, I’d drive through here but I don’t want to get it stuck. The trees get thick unless that was just a panicked mind jumbling things”

Ivy calling woke Kay, she didn’t remember even getting close to sleep. Shawn let her go enough to let her answer “Hey Ivy, sorry, Shawn and I have Erics phone”

“Oh, it’s alright, how’re things going?”

“He managed to see some things about what happened to Shawn. He left with my parents”

“just tell him to call me as soon as he gets back.”

“I will”

“How’re you two?’

“reeling from everything.”

“I’ll let you two go back to what you were doing. Our son and his wife are coming back tomorrow morning so I’ll see you soon.”

Chapter Four

“Alright, love you and tell everyone I love them too.”

“Will do sweetie.” They hung up and Kay put Eric’s phone back and snuggled back into Shawn.

“Is everything alright?” Shawn asked.

“Yeah, she just wanted to talk to Eric.” She let out a little sigh. “How are you?”

“I’m alright.”

Kay lifted her head to look at him. “Talk to me.”

“Knowing what happened, makes it seem like I’ve been…violated I guess. I’m not scared of you or anything, never you, but it’s changed everything about me and I don’t know what to do about it.”

“I’m sure everyone will help you get a handle on your new abilities as you discover them and you know I’ll be here no matter what.”

“I know, I’m not trying to sound depressed or anything.”

“I know, don’t worry about it.”

He reached up and tucked some hair behind her ear. “You’re so beautiful Kay, so beautiful and perfect and I’m kind of relieved I finally know what happened.”

“I don’t know why I didn’t think of Eric sooner”

“probably because we really haven’t been as involved with your family as we should be”

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. “we should have been more careful” Eric projected into their minds. “Hannah, run the other way and call the police, help them find this place. They can be our backup if we haven’t gotten to the leader before they get here” Hannah knew this wasn’t 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 didn’t 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. “Ten men, three of them scientists.” He said to Adam.

“Is the man who had Shawn taken one of them?”

“Yes, he’s so calm and, as I saw, not human. Touch his mind.”

Adam let his own thoughts move out. “I see and the rest are all human.”

“Yeah.”

“What are you thinking?”

“They’re focused on us here. You go around that way, I’ll go around the other way and we’ll meet in the middle to stop the guards out front. Once we’re inside, we’re going to have to move fast.”

“Got it. What do you want to do about the boss?”

“If we can, force him to reveal what he did to Shawn. Right now, he has it buried deep.”

“Got it.”

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 they’d 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. “so you guys have handled locations like this before?”

“not me but my husband and his family has”

“still, we should have been informed. They cant just go attacking places”

“These aren’t normal places so please just get here.”

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. “Three guards left.” Eric said as they moved through the facility.

“The scientists are trying to hide, there’s a safe room.” Adam added.

“All except him, he’s confident in his abilities and unafraid.”

The last three guards tried hunting them, but with their abilities to read the men’s 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. “He knows we’re out here.” 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.
“a gun wont really do much against me I’m afraid, even if you go for the head shot. That young man, he’s 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 didn’t want but a gift all the same”

“You don’t get to scar someone and decide it’s a gift.”

“if he would have stayed I could have helped him learn how to control himself”

“and what did you want of him in return. Why?” Eric now asked. “Because I can, there isn’t a prison yet that can hold me, not a being I’ve ever faced that can stop me especially with the army I’ve 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 yours” Adam shot him right between the eyes, hoping he was bluffing but the being just grinned “didn’t I just tell you I could have him kill her?” he sighed, seeming as if the wound in his head was merely an inconvenience.

“walk away, you can’t stop me and it’s the final chance I’ll give you. Annoy me further and I’ll have him kill his wife and come right back to me”

“Not happening.” Adam said. “Shawn wouldn’t, even if you tortured him.” His instincts told him to run, to go and save his daughter, but he couldn’t let this man go and do the same to someone else. He glanced at Eric, who nodded. “We’re not letting you go.”

He shook his head. “How cruel, choosing justice over your own child, it’s so unexpected, you surprise me.” He chuckled. “Suit yourself.”

Shawn’s 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. “Shawn?” She came out of her shock and went to his side. “What’s going on?”

“Get out, get out of my head.” His voice came out more of a growl.

“Shawn.” She grabbed his shoulders and he shoved her away.

“Get away from me, stay away.”

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. “Shawn, it’s okay.”

“I can’t…I can’t…he’s telling me to…to…”

“It’s okay.”

He dropped his head down next to hers. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” She could feel him shaking and his fingers hurt her wrists, but she knew if she struggled, it might make things worse. “He’s in my head.”

“Fight it baby, whatever it is, whoever he is, fight it.” She wanted desperately to hug him, to show him everything was okay.

The man chuckled again “you’re right, he is fighting me. He’s fighting pretty hard to” He still seemed like he was having fun. Suddenly Eric and Adam were kicked out of his mind, completely blocked from looking “looks like I’ll have to take this family just a little more seriously” 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 “I gave you two a chance to walk away. Remember that” Adams first thought was Hannah, what if he caught up to her on the road. He called his wife, glad she picked up “I’m in the cop car baby”

Adam couldn’t speak, he couldn’t think. “Adam?”

“He’s fast, are” it was so hard to talk but he did his best to force himself on “please tell me some of those cops aren’t human”

“I don’t know, whats happened?”

“Ive been shot and Eric has been knocked out. He’s still breathing”

“Oh my god”

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 “Shawn?”

“He wants me to come”

“to where” Shawn was shaking again “I dont know but I know at the same time I”

“it’s okay Shawn, stay with me, please”

“what if he starts trying to make me hurt you again”

“I love you, we’re in this life together no matter what. I know I was weird but I was worried like they had sent home some Doppelgänger or something. Now that I know you’re still you we’re just as strong as before. I don’t care what happens. I just want you to fight him and stay with me” 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 didn’t feel the pull of anybody right now but his wife.

They didn’t move from that spot until Hannah called them “whats up?”

“your 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.”

“Oh my god”

“they are both alive though and thats what matters”

“what’s going on with you mom?”

“I’m still at the scene with the police. They wont let me come home”

“what do you mean they wont let you”

“They think we must know more than we’re saying”

“they cant do that. Let me talk to someone”

“Honey, it’ll be fine”

“No, its not fine to not let you go home or go to the hospital. I’m calling a lawyer at least”

“that might look weird and make them suspect us even more of having something to do with this place” Her mother said she had to go, another officer wanted to talk to her. “damn it she hugn up” Kay cursed and Shawn rubbed her back “Did I hear right? Your dads in the hospital and they wont let your mom leave?”

“Yeah”

“what do you want to do?”

“I probably couldn’t see dad yet even if I went to the hospital and with the lawyer I don’t know how long they are going to try and keep mom”

“I think the limit is twenty four hours.”

“I dont care, I’m getting her home. She must be a mess and those cops can’t be helping”

“I’ll help you find a lawyer then. Surely there has to be someone that can help right now”

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. “Shawn?” She touched him and he jumped, breathing hard.

“Sorry, he’s still calling me, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

Shawn looked down at his phone. “Holy shit.” He then looked at Kay, his eyes moving to her wrists. There was some faint bruising he hadn’t noticed there. “I hurt you.”

“Shawn, it’s alright, they don’t even hurt.” She reached over and took his hand. “I love you, no matter what he tries to make you do, I will always love you.”

“I love you too.”

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 didn’t matter. “I found someone Shawn.” She said and he looked over at the screen.

“Do you think he’ll actually help us?”

“It’s worth a try.”

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 weren’t letting her leave. “We have many other very capable lawyers here at the firm. I mention this because he’s not in right now. I can reach out to him if you really want Jasper himself. This sounds like a case he’d be particularly interested in. Nothing works him up more than cops doing things they know they shouldn’t”

“Please try him, that lab is linked to some terrible things. I don’t want them trying to lump my family in with the culprits”

“alright, whats the best number to reach you at?” Kay gave the woman her number and allowed her to hang up. Shawn hugged Kay “what can I do baby?”

“I dont know, I want to go and raise hell but with you struggling I don’t want them getting any ideas about you too without a good lawyer present. I can’t be alone right now” Not even half an hour had passed when Jasper called her back “Mrs MacThom?”

“Yes”

“I’m on my way alright. They aren’t keeping your mother. I’ll 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 don’t even live near you right?”

“Right”

“Too many cops like to jump to conclusions.” He sounded incredibly irritated “after I get your mom away and have a talk with them I want to hear more from you about your family and this situation”

“Thank you”

“I’m sorry you’ve been put in this situation” 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 didn’t even have to say anything before one of them was running to get their boss. “Mr. Bookchild, so nice to see you.” The chief said, shaking his hand.

“Maybe you’d like to tell me why your underlings are spending their time questioning my client when she’s not even a suspect.”

“She was at the scene.”

“Is 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 daughter’s fiance?”

“Well yes, but…”

“Has she been cooperating with you?”

“Yes.”

“Then why is she being forced to stay here when her husband could be dying?” Hannah let out a little sob and Jasper wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “You’re going to tell me that you truly believe that this woman is responsible for the attack on her family? You didn’t 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.”

“I apologize.”

“I want her released and I want someone guarding her family members, especially the young man Shawn and her daughter Kay. If you can’t do your job, then I will call someone in to do it for you.” He let Hannah go so he could pull his wallet and hand the police chief one of his cards. “Call me when you have something substantial to add to what’s going on.”

“lets go Hannah” Jasper urged more gently. Hannah got up “I need to see how he’s doing, please”

“is your car still at the scene? Would you like me to get it first?”

“Thats probably smart, that way if you need to leave me at the hospital I can manage myself.” Once they were in Jaspers car she asked “Is my daughter okay. I know she’s who called you. She was so mad when I told her they were making me stay”

“She seems okay, she’ll be better once she knows I have you. Go ahead and call her, you’ve got your cellphone?”

“I do” 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 “you’re coming in?”

“I’m going to make sure someone fills you in on your husband or better, lets you into see him if he’s fit to be seen”

“thank you so much Mr Bookchild”

“please, call me Jasper okay?” Even the people at the hospital knew him and quickly saw to it that Hannah knew everything about her husbands condition. It ended with “You should be able to see him in about an hour but we can’t promise. Surgery can be hard to time”

“Just please let me see him as soon as I can”

“we will”

“I’m going to be calling my client in an hour to check on things” jasper added. Once the nurse walked off he said “do you need anything before I leave you?”

“You’ve done plenty…really”

“I can’t imagine someone shooting me and then cops making my Stella sit and be questioned. I’m just doing what I’d want someone else to do for my wife” 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 “Your mom is at the hospital. I’ll call her to make sure the doctors are cooperating if you give me her number”

“I know it by heart” Jasper pulled out his phone and entered the number Kay rattled off.

“Is this Shawn?” He asked as he tucked his phone away.

“Yes.” She went over to Shawn who stood up and shook Japser’s hand.

“Thank you for coming.” He said.

“No problem.” He looked Shawn over and took in his scent. “What can you tell me about the man who changed you?”

“Uh, yes of course.”

“How about I make us some tea.” Kay said. She didn’t think she’d actually be getting any sort of sleep, not when that thing kept attacking Shawn.

“Thank you.” Jasper said as he took a seat. He then turned to Shawn who swallowed. “If it makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to.”

“It’s alright, it’s important. I don’t 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.” He swallowed again. “He’s been whispering to me in my head, telling me to hurt Kay and come to him and I changed.”

“Changed how?”

“My teeth and nails, my eyes. You can ask Kay, she saw everything.”

They kept discussing things with Jasper until he needed to check on Kays mother “I’m just about to go see him now. They said he’ll be okay. Thank you so much” 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 “look into that for me. This thing is still messing with Shawn. If we can even figure out what he is I’m sure we can at least keep him from controlling Shawn” When he hungup Kay asked “who was that?”

“someone thats been at the firm quite a few years. If you want to figure out what sort of creature someone is he’s the guy to ask. I don’t know how he does it but no matter how obscure he figures it out for me”

“is there anything else you need from us?”

“No”

“Then how much do we owe you?” He shook his head “Like I said, I heard about your mother and I did what I’d want someone to do for my Stella. The cops around here have pissed me off enough I’m looking forward to being around to yell at them”

“are you sure?”

“save your money for you guys. I have plenty” Kay nearly hugged him. Kay really wanted to go to the hospital now but she was sure Shawn still wasn’t up to being in one. She just told herself her mother was there and she couldn’t 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. “Hey, I’m Eòsaph MacPhàdraig. I need to do something that we need to have a serious talk about first”

“Um…okay, come in” Kay said as she moved. Once they were inside she called to her husband who came running “they need to talk to us” The group all sat and Eosaph set a syringe filled some orange liquid on the table which notably made Shawn nervous “I know a lots been done to you Shawn but you smell like a Daciandraco but they don’t have the kind of abilities or resilience you have so either you’re 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 you’ll shift, you dont even have to know how it just does it to you and if you’re multiple things you’re going to shift multiple times. I think it’s important to know what we’re dealing with. Is it okay if I inject you Shawn?”

Shawn swallowed. “I…”

“You don’t have to, none of us will force you.”

He looked at Kay and she gave him a warm, encouraging smile as she took his hand. “No, I need to, if I don’t then I’ll never know.”

“If at anytime you feel uncomfortable, let me know.”

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 couldn’t 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. “You’re doing so good baby.” Kay said as she rubbed his back.

Eosaph gently pressed the plunger and the orange liquid slid into his vein. Shawn didn’t 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. “Easy, it’s okay.” Kay’s 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.

“That’s not what I was expecting.” 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. “The man who did this is either half gargoyle or he used the genes on himself and Shawn.”

Shawn turned and looked at Kay, shocked at having changed twice. “Is it bad?” He asked, his voice coming out husky.

“You look different, but not bad different, I promise.” She picked up her phone. “Do you want to see?” 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.

“That explains the other man’s resilience and that means Shawn will have the same. He’s practically impenetrable.” Eosaph said.

“Then how would we go about stopping the man who changed him?” Jasper asked.

“You know Chthon,” He said as he put the syringe cap on and tucked it away. “Ask him to help you.”

“What about me? What do I do?” Shawn asked, his voice cracking a little.

“I’ll 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 shouldn’t cause you any problems, but a few preternatural creatures may naturally avoid you.”

“Okay”

“I’m so sorry someone forced this upon you but once you’re used to your abilities you can live life just as you did before” Jasper began talking after Eosaph “why dont we all just try to rest tonight and we’ll make some calls in the morning”

“theres no way I can rest, I’m so worried about my dad but thank you two. Can I do anything before you go back to your hotel?”

“No, I’d like to call my wife before it gets too late. I promise, I’ll call Chthon bright and early” Eosaph stood “me 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?”

Kay looked at her fiance “taco bell?”

“yeah, 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 them”

“alright, I’ll be right back”

“and I’ll see you guys tomorrow” 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 & Alarick

Contributed to by Stacy Meyer

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.

“Excuse me miss?” 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. “Are you lost?”

“Who are you?”

“Alarick. What are you doing out here?”

“I…I got turned around in the storm.”

“You could freeze to death.” He stepped closer and she backed up right into a tree, swallowing. “It’s okay, I mean you know harm.” He held out his hand and smiled, revealing sharp canines.

“W…wolf.” Her voice squeaked and he tipped his head to the side.

“No need to fear me little fire, I only wish to help you.”

“Little fire?”

“Your hair.” He reached out, gently running his fingers through the ends. “Like fire.” She pressed herself further back and he smiled. “Come, my uncle’s pack is near, it’s warm there. Please come until the storm blows through.” 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 didn’t go with him, she would freeze.

Another particularly strong gust hit her and she didn’t think for another moment. She was less likely to die if she accepted this wolf’s help so she hesitantly took his hand, hoping he was genuine and that she’d see her mother again once the storm had passed. She hadn’t expected him to pull her into his arms but next thing she knew she was being cradled as he hurried through the snow. She hadn’t 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 Alarick’s 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 Alarick’s 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. “Little fire,we are here. There is no need to fear my pack I am your protector and you are safe here” 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 couldn’t so despite his words she’d 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 “hm?” there it was, that smile again “may I know your name now, you know mine”

“Oh…um…I’m Eira”

“well, I’m very happy the world directed me to you Eira, come on” He said then began walking.

Will your uncle be alright with me intruding?” She asked nervously.

“I don’t see why not.”

“I see, that’s good I suppose.”

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. “Easy guys.” He said as he gave a little growl, surprising Eira. “She’s scared can’t you tell?”

A loud whistle caught everyone’s attention and they all turned as Alarick’s uncle came walking up. “Go back to what you were doing, no need to crowd everyone.” His voice rumbled out of his chest and Eira was surprised by how big the man was, that this imposing figure was her saviour’s 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 “I am the pack leader, Xanlis. I am also this ones Uncle if he hasn’t mentioned it. I see he has brought you here so you are welcome. There’s really no need to be so afraid though I gather you’ve probably been raised with nasty stories of us so I take no offense” He seemed so cordial, it was incredibly shocking. “Um…thank you” 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. “she was about to freeze to death when I found her” Alarick chimed in “then we should get her warm” 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. “This will be your room for your stay,mine is just next door to the left if you require anything.” 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. “These belonged to my aunt,you look to be about her size” Eira looked at the clothes the wolf had handed her. “Um thank you,I hate to bother but where is your aunt? I didn’t see her?”

“She died giving birth to my cousin.”

“Oh, sorry, that must have been hard for your uncle.”

“A 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.”

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”

Alarick smiled. “It’s alright, he wouldn’t mind. It’s been twenty years so she’s easier for him to talk about. Now, please change, your clothes look wet from the snow.”

“Oh, yes, thank you.”

“I’ll wait just outside the door.” She nodded and Alarick gave her her privacy. He stood dutifully outside the bedroom door, enjoying what was left of scent on him.

“How is our guest?” Xanlis’s voice startled him and he straightened.

“Good I suppose, changing. I let her borrow Cheza’s clothes, I hope that was alright.”

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 mother’s more lean build. “Of course. Let her know there’s warm food ready and waiting for her if she’s hungry. I just wanted to check that none of the others had sneaked in and were bothering her. The pups are curious.”

“I wont let them overwhelm her”

“is she…special?” 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 “good luck then.” his Uncle could tell as well as he could wooing her wouldn’t come easy. A human would be able to see plain as day how afraid she was of them. Eira didn’t 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 wouldn’t bring any pain to Xanlis.

Eira heard a knock at the door sighing from her thoughts she opened it. “There is dinner ready downstairs,I will accompany you when you are ready” Alarick smiled kindly at her and Eria smiled in return. She felt butterflies but she couldn’t 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. “Does it taste alright?” Alarick asked.

“Yes, thank you.”

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. “Sorry, the pups want to see you, but I don’t want you crowded.”

“Pups?” She looked over her shoulder and she could see a bunch of little heads peeking over the window sill from outside. “Oh, they can come in, if they want.”

“Eat first then if you’re sure, they can meet you. I don’t want you frightened any more than you already are.”

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. “Hey”

“do you feel better?”

“your name’s Eira?” Two had questions at the same time and Alarick spoke “One question at a time.” he tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice for Eira but he wished they’d calm down before she went running off. “I do feel much better and yes it is”

“are you going to stay?”

“Until the storm calms enough it’s safe to go home”

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 Eria’s warm reaction to the pups he said “Okay! I think our guest has had enough excitement,perhaps before she departs tomorrow you can come see her off.” This was followed by a round of “can we stay?” And “awe” replies from the pups.
The pups in Eira’s 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.

Chapter Two

“They can be quite rambunctious.”

“I can see that, they’re really sweet.” She had actually described wolves as sweet, but they really were, even Alarick.

“I take it you weren’t expecting that?”

She blushed as she shook her head. “No, I’m sorry. It’s just…”

“Please don’t apologize, you’ve been raised hating my father’s kind.”

“Your father’s kind?”

He gave her a gentle smile. “I am only half werewolf, my mother is a vampire.”

Eira swallowed, her hand coming protectively to her throat. “Oh.”

“I’m not going to hurt you, Eira, I should have said something before, but you were already terrified of me. I won’t be angry if you start avoiding me.” He hated the thought, his wolf even whined at the idea, but he wouldn’t force his presence on her.

Eira dropped her hand, knowing she was acting foolish. He hadn’t given her any reason to be afraid. “I’m okay, it’s just surprising.”

“I promise, you’re safe with me.”
She was actually starting to believe that “so…you really think this snow storm will be over by tomorrow?”

“we can hope, I don’t want you worried about you family or to keep you from whatever it is you do with your life” it sounded as if he wanted to know more about her so she said “well, I don’t do anything important really besides helping out my mother. I am working on this pretty amazing knitting project though. I’m excited to finish it” Another smile flashed across his face, warm and kind as he sits back down next to her “you 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. I’d enjoy hearing about what you’re making at home if you’d like to tell me”

“I would love that!” Eira was starting to feel more at home and began talking at a rapid pace. “At 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?”

“You don’t have to do that, I don’t need payment or anything.”

“Not as payment, because I want to. It’s so cold, you might need a scarf or something.”

Alarick’s heart stuttered and his wolf let out a little whine, a sound he managed to keep from rising in his throat. “That’s very kind of you, thank you, Eira.”

Eira actually smiled at how sincere he sounded. She hadn’t expected it from a creature such as him. “Do you have any specific colors you like?”

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. “Sorry, I shouldn’t just touch you.”

“It…it’s fine, you just surprised me is all.”

“Still, you’ve been through quite a bit today, the cold, being saved by me, and now you’re sitting in the middle of a wolf pack.”

“You said I was safe though and I…I trust you, so…”

“You do?” He perked up, his wolf barking at him to get closer to her.

“You saved me, you could have done worse, but you didn’t. I’ll try not to be so nervous.”

“I’m sure once you’ve had some rest in a proper bed you’ll feel more at ease. It’s late enough, why don’t I show you back to your room so you can rest. The blankets in there are incredibly warm but if you aren’t comfortable feel free to tell me. I can get you more blankets or anything else you might need. “That does sound nice, I know sleep will find me easy. I fell asleep embarrassingly fast in your arms” He smiled warmly and soon they were back at her room “Please tell me if you need something. Anybody here would be willing to help you themselves or come get me if I’m not near”

“Thank you so much” He didn’t 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 shouldn’t disturb his uncle this late at night but he really didn’t want to lose this chance with Eira.

“Come in Alarick” 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. “Uncle I am sorry to bother you at this time of the night but I am looking on some advice” Alarick sat down in the chair opposite his uncle. “I 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?”

Alarick, you’re an adult, you don’t have to ask for my permission.” He chuckled. “You’re so much like your father.” He smiled, letting out a little sigh. “All I ask is that you stay safe. You know how humans can be when it comes to not only our kind, but your mother’s kind as well.”

“I will, I just want to get her home. If I let her go alone, she might get lost again.”

“And you don’t want to lose your chance.”

Alarick could tell his uncle was thinking about his wife. “Yeah, I know I’d regret it.”

“Just promise you’ll come back when you have the time.”

“Of course.”

“It also might be awhile before you can leave. It sounds like the snow storm is growing worse rather than settling. It’s good you found her when you did.”

“we’re a lucky race, the world seems to like to guide us to our mates”

“how is she right now?”

“she isn’t as afraid as when I brought her in”

“good”

“well, I’m going to try and rest while she is.”

“goodnight Alarick” 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. “Could she really be my mate?” He wondered to himself,scrunching the silky edge of duvet cover up into a ball in his hand. “How could a human accept a werewolf as her mate? How could I make her love me?” Alarick spoke to himself as he heard a soft knock on his door.
He knew who it was “come in” he said and watched the door open. Eira stepped inside the room. “I hope I didn’t wake you I just couldn’t sleep.” She looked at him and he smiled in reply “no I wasn’t asleep I just got back from speaking with my uncle. The storm doesn’t appear to be shifting the way we hoped for so you might be here a while longer then planned”

“Oh, that’s alright.” She stood there, clutching the blanket wrapped around her.

He patted his bed. “Would you like to sit?”

“Yes, thank you.” She walked over and dropped down next to him, his wolf giving a little whine as her scent washed over him.

“Would you like something to drink, like tea or water?”

“I’m fine, really.” She fidgeted a little.

“Would you like to stay in here? Nothing weird of course, maybe I could tell you a story.”

“Do you have any about your parents?”

“I have plenty about them.” He stood up and pulled his covers back. “Why don’t you lay down and I’ll start.”

“But where will you sleep?”

“The floor or maybe at your feet. Shifting is one of my gifts.”

“you’d be comfortable sleeping as a wolf?”

“yes”

“then…if you shift you can stay in the bed after I fall asleep…I’d hate to make you sleep on the floor” He gave her another soft smile, trying to push down his wolfs excitement they’d be sharing the room together. “Why don’t you lay down and get comfortable. I’ll just talk about different moments in my parents lives worth telling until you’re sleeping”

“thank you…really”

“You’re no trouble at all Eira” 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 hadn’t fallen asleep but he could tell she was close by how softly she asked “so wolves really just know when they find who they are meant to be with”

“yeah”

“I had heard that but I didn’t know it was true until now” He was tempted to stroke her hair again but refrained “its probably one of the only true things you’ve been told about us” She fell asleep and he couldn’t help but give her a gentle kiss on the head “Goodnight Eira” 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.

Alarick’s fur tickling Eira’s 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. “Alarick, are you awake?” She asked softly and he moved his head a little to indicate he was. “It doesn’t sound like it’s storming anymore.” He let a little whine slip out. He didn’t want her to go, not when he had just found her. “What’s wrong?” She asked as she stroked his fur.

He shifted back, hoping she wouldn’t be offended and wrapped his arms around her, feeling her body heat. “I’ve just enjoyed my time with you and now you’ll have to leave.”

Eira’s heart was beating hard in her chest and she was relieved they were pressed so close together. “But you’ll be coming with me and I have nod idea how far I wandered off the path.”

He buried his nose in her hair, soaking up her scent. “I know, but then I won’t be able to see you anymore. Your family, your people, they won’t like me, they’ll be scared of me and it’ll be hard for you.”

“Alarick.”

He wanted to tell her, but didn’t want to scare her. Then again, what if he never saw her again? “Eira, do you…do 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.” He wanted to say please, but he already knew he sounded like he was begging.

“I probably should. I really don’t want to be caught in something like that again, especially since I’m not sure how to get home” she nervously fidgeted a bit before saying “it was really comforting sleeping with you in here last night. Thank you…and no matter what my village says you’ll be a part of my life. You saved me and you’ve been so kind since I came here. I wont turn my back on you…what kind of monster would that make me Alarick” it was a relief to hear, especially since he could tell she meant those words “well, lets see about breakfast and getting you another change of clothes”

Alarick quickly dressed and guided her back to where she could change into new clothes “I’ll meet you in the kitchen alright”

“alright”

“Good morning.” Xanlis said when Alarick entered the kitchen, startling him. The older man chuckled. “Well, you must be incredibly distracted if you didn’t smell or hear me.” He was already cooking breakfast.

“I am.” He let out a sigh. “I don’t know how to tell her.”

“You just tell her.”

“It’s not that easy.” He swallowed. “Um, how did you tell my aunt?”

“I think we both realized it the moment we saw each other. I approached her immediately and told her, you’re my mate. She just smiled and laughed and told me if I wanted her then I would have to catch her.”

“What if she had said no?”

“Then I would have worked even harder to make her see me, to show her how much I needed her.”

“So just be honest then?”

“It’s 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 didn’t. So tell her, even if it hurts.”

“well, I’ve 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 chance”

“even if she says she wont be with you at first in time you can win her over Alarick.”

“well we should stop talking about it for now. I told her to meet me in the kitchen once she is changed…do you want something for breakfast too?”

“I already ate with a few of the others” Xanlis walked away, giving Alarick space to think. He was startled again out of his thoughts when Eira finally came into the kitchen “can I help?” she asked and he said “it’s okay” They hung around inside until after they had lunch “Would you like to walk around some more to take in where I live? I mean, I know we’re going to stay friends but I’m sure you wont be back this way for awhile”

“sure” 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 “Eira” as she turned to look at him he continued “I love you”

He could tell she was surprised, just the look on her face “what?”

“I’m sorry…it’s just…I don’t know I didn’t even mean to say that out loud but I do”

“You,I’m your mate?” He nodded and it was hard to tell what she was feeling, she was feeling so much. “Have you known the entire time?”

“Yeah but you were so scared” she looked him over and he patiently waited for her to say something. “You are really sweet Alarick. I mean, if I’m really your mate…um…we could go on dates if you want” His heart trembled “you’d really be willing to try?”

“You’re probably the nicest man I’ve ever met. I…I like you more than any of the boys in my village”

“Could I kiss you?” she blushed “yeah” 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 couldn’t be happier.

~ The End

Cade & Holly

Chapter One

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 didn’t notice she was so upset. “Cliona” 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 wouldn’t bring her the comfort he would be intending to give. “I’m sorry”

“You don’t have to be sorry for crying. What’s the matter” she clung to a stuffed rabbit he had given her “You’re going to send me back”

“Now what would make you say that?”

“Nobody ever keeps me. I get scared and I accidentally hurt people and I’ve hurt you more times than anybody else which” she couldn’t talk through the tears for a few moments “which really sucks because I like this home more than any I’ve had before. I don’t want you to send me back to the orphanage…I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t mean to”

“I know you don’t mean to. I’m a demon, I’m pretty resilient. I’m already healed from earlier.”

“That doesn’t mean you wont get frustrated with me and decide I’m too much trouble…all I am is trouble…its…its probably why my parents hated me so much” He remained gentle but took a firmer tone than he normally did with her “don’t ever rationalize the despicable things they did to you Cliona. You didn’t deserve any of it. No child deserves your scars. You are a sweet, amazing little girl and it’s normal for demons to struggle to control their abilities when they are young, adding what you’ve been through of course sometimes you do things without meaning to. I understand and I’m never sending you back. You’re my daughter now and you’ll always be my daughter. You’re going to grow up and when you do you’ll have full control of yourself and I still want to be your dad to see the amazing woman you become after that. Your parents…your parents were horrible people who I hope never get their hands on a child again”

She continued to cry so he asked “will you let me hold you Cliona? It might make you feel better” she looked at him a few moments before agreeing so he lifted her into his lap, holding her gently “I promise, you’re here to stay. There’s nothing you can do, especially on accident that would make me give up on you” He held her until she settled down then he asked “do you want me to turn on your tv so you have something else to think about while you try to sleep”

“if it’s really okay” He tucked her in then switched on her television “let me grab you some water. I’ll be right back” She didn’t say anything as he walked out and into the kitchen. He made her a small glass then returned “If you need me come knock on my door okay”

“are you really healed?” He lifted his shirt “see?”

“Okay…I really am sorry”

“you have nothing to apologize for. Just try to rest. The weekend starts tomorrow and I plan to take you all out”

Cade pulled her door part way closed as he left, leaving it cracked open so she wouldn’t feel locked in. “She’s okay.” 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.

“She’s still upset.”

“I know.” He tussled his son’s hair. “We’ll have to make tomorrow extra fun.”

Eugene nodded. “I’ll help anyway I can.” He looked down the hall. “Should I go to her?”

“If she needs one of us, but let her make that choice, she needs to make that choice.”

“Alright.”

“And don’t stay up all night, she’s going to be okay, she just needs time.”

“Would it be alright if I stayed up for an hour at least?”

“Of course, good night Eugene.”

“Goodnight.”

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 he’d 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 they’d 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 she’d be comfortable if they’d 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 Cade’s. “Morning guys.” Cade said then breathed in. “That smells amazing girls.”

“Thank you dad.” The twins said in unison.

Eugene handed him his coffee. “Thank you. Did you sleep last night?”

“Yes sir, like a rock.”

Cade just nodded, knowing he probably hadn’t. Anytime one of his siblings had trouble sleeping, Eugene would stay up late waiting. “How about you baby girl?” He asked as he sat down next to Cliona.

“Yeah, it took a little bit, but I did.”

“That’s good.” He reached over and patted her head. “Grandma sent me a message, she wants to see you guys. Does that sound like something you’d like to do this weekend?”

She looked nervous so Eugene sat down on her other side and rested a hand on her shoulder. “Hey Clio, we should go, I bet grandma would make some cookies for you.”

“We could even meet them out somewhere.” Cade added.

“could…could we meet them at that music park?”

“Yeah, I’m sure they’d love that.” He pulled out his phone and texted them then slipped it back into his pocket. Cade almost chuckled his mom responded so fast “Let us know when to head over there! Can we bring anything for the kids?” He texted back “I think they’d love some of your cookies. Eugene brought them up when we were talking to Cliona about it”

“ask him what kind!” He looked up from his phone and over to Eugene “what kind of cookies would you like grandma to bake?”

“Peanut Butter or red velvet” Cade told his mother who said she’d be bringing both. “she’s bringing both” 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 wasn’t 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 Eugene’s 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. “Hello sweetie, how are you doing?”

“Good.” Cliona answered softly.

“That’s good. Now if I remember correctly, you really like the red velvet cookies, right?” Cliona nodded and Stella opened up the container holding them. “Do you want one?” Cliona nodded again and took one.

“What do we say, Cliona?” Cade said.

“Thank you.” Cliona replied.

“You can eat as many as you want.”

CHapter Two

She gave Stella a small smile and in turn Stella gave her a warm one, wishing she could hug her. She couldn’t 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.

“But she is getting better dad, yesterday was my fault. I’ve had a lot of kids but I’ve never had to be quite so careful with any of them as I have had to be with Cliona.”

“what matters is she seems happy today.” 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. “Eugene is a great big brother. I swear she’s made most the progress she has because of him being so attentive to her”

“How are you though son?”

“Me? I’m good”

“Still not seeing anybody?”

“You sound like mom” Jasper chuckled at his sons word “We bring it up because we care”

“I don’t know when I’d have the time to meet someone but I’m fine, really, I’m not crying myself to sleep. I always have these kids to think about. If I meet someone I meet someone, I’m sure I wont die without a mate or anything”

“I don’t know, I’m pretty sure I would without your mother.”

Cade chuckled. “So dramatic, but I promise, I’m really fine.”

His father patted his back. “As long as you’re happy that’s all that matters.”

“I am.”

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 couldn’t control. He talked with his dad until the twins came running up to him, grabbing his hands. “Dad, can we go on the carousel?” Keola asked.

“Yeah, please.” Kaiaka added.

“Of course. Why don’t you see if Cliona wants to ride.”

“Okay.” 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 wouldn’t 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 “look, Cliona smiled” 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. “I’m pretty hungry too” 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.

“Jasper, Stella.” 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.

“Miss Graves.” Jasper said as she came over and gave them both a hug.

“Sorry, I was just so surprised to see you two.”

“How have you been?” Stella asked.

“Good, really good.” She looked around the table, her cheeks heating a little. “I’m being rude, you’re busy.”

“Oh not at all.” She gestured to Cade and the kids. “This is our son Cade and his children. Cade, kids, this is Holly Graves, she was one of your father’s clients and a zombie.”

“It’s nice to meet you all”

“Why don’t you eat with us? We ordered family style”

“I mean, I’d love to but I really don’t want to intrude on family time”

“Nonsense, please sit with us. Have you ordered yet?”

“Just my drink”

“see, it’s perfect” 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 “so, what’s all of your names” The twins introduced themselves first, followed by Eugene. Cliona paused so Cade carefully took her hand, giving her a small, reassuring smile. “I’m…Cliona” Hollys next question was directed at all the children again “Have you been having fun with your grandparents today?” 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 wasn’t scared. Uncomfortable yes but not the scared little girl he had first adopted. When Cade first brought Cliona home he couldn’t take her out. She was far too jumpy and had too many accidents. She certainly couldn’t sit at the table with a stranger and have such an even heartbeat.

“Would it be alright to ask what brought you to my dad?” Cade said.

“Not 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.”

“And I took her case after her parents asked me to.” Jasper added.

“You mean you scared the crap out of them, right grandpa?” Eugene said which had everyone cracking a smile, even getting a small one out of Cliona.

“Of 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.”

“What do you do Cade?” Holly asked with a big, warm smile.

“I’m a Soil Conservationist” not many people knew what that was so he explained without prompt “I’m 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.

“That sounds cool”

“It is, especially since it doesn’t 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 I’ve even built a work area in my home” a smile lit up her face again “Thats really sweet, so often beings are itching to get away from their kids and you try to make it so you don’t have to leave them”

“Cade loves being a dad” Stella added and was going to say more but Eugene chimed in “He actually adopted all of us and has adopted many kids before us. He keeps about four at a time” That cleared things up for Holly on how he had two fox’s, a panther and a only one full demon daughter like he was. “really?” Stella spoke again “yeah, he’s been doing it for a long time. We have so many wonderful grandchildren. He’s had over four before but four is normally how many he wants at a time. He’ll take more if there are siblings so they can stay together”

“That’s really sweet, Cade.” Holly said. “Amazing even.”

“Thank you.” Cade’s heart danced. “Um, what do you do? I mean, what are you going to school for?”

“Medical microbiology. I’ve been wanting to do research with each species genes and see which one would be best for fighting off diseases without changing the host.”

“That’s incredible.”

“Thank you.” They continued to talk even when their food came, Cade finding Holly’s 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.

Chapter Three

When a pause hit the conversation Jasper said “I was thinking of taking the kids out for ice cream. Would you like to join us Holly?” She looked at the kids “would you guys mind? My feelings wont be hurt if you’d rather have your grandparents and dad to yourselves”

“You can come” The twin girls said then Eugene added “yeah” he took Clionas hand “right Cliona? She can come?” Cliona nodded and Cade honestly felt grateful. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt this much attraction to a woman but Cliona had been through so much. If she wasn’t able to deal with Holly being around, as much as it would pain him he wouldn’t bring her around.

“Great” 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 “Grandpa sent you her number” Cade blushed and both girls giggled.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been here.” Holly said once they were all out and heading inside.

“Really?” Cade was a little nervous now, especially having her number. “Their ice cream is really good, all hand made.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “So, I hope you don’t mind, but my dad sent me your number.”

She smiled, her cheeks tinting a little. “That’s fine, I was planning on giving it to you at some point. I mean, I’m friends with your parents so why not get to know you too.”

“Okay, cool.”

“You should send me a message so I have yours too.”

“Oh, right.” He pulled out his phone and sent her a quick message. “So, what’s your favorite?” He nodded towards the ice cream.

“I’m a sucker for chocolate, but I like trying flavors I’ve never had before.”

“Maybe we could try something new together” 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 “dads taking us out again tomorrow if you want to join us. He promised us a fun weekend but we didn’t make any set plans if you have some suggestions” Holly blushed “you’d really like me to come along again tomorrow? I’ve been so worried I took up too much of you dads time talking”

“Of course” Kaiaka said then her sister Keola added “you’re awesome”

“Alright then,” she met Cade’s gaze, “I guess I’ll message you once I think of something.”

“Alright, have a good night then.”

“You too.” He watched her walk to her car and get in, waving at her as she pulled away, his heart thundering in his chest.

“Awe, how cute.” His dad’s teasing voice had him blushing. “I haven’t seen you make that face in a long time.”

“Dad.”

Jasper slapped him on the back. “At least now your mother and I won’t have to worry about you growing old alone.”

“Dad, we’re demons.”

“Metaphorically speaking.”

“She’s sweet honey.” Stella said as she hugged him. “Love you.”

“Love you too mom.”

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 “Hey sweetheart”

“Hey, um…could we maybe play candy land together when you aren’t busy?” He put his desktop to sleep and got up ‘of course, lets play now. Do you already have it out?’”

“I can’t reach it” He walked with her to the board game room he had made a few years back and pulled it down “I guess I must have put it up this high absentmindedly” Cliona sat down and he brought it over to her, setting it up as he asked “so did you really have fun today Cliona?”

“Yeah…Ms Holly was nice and you seemed happy”

“I’m glad you were okay”

“Are we going to go out again?”

“Do you want to go out again?”

“Yeah.”

“Remember, you don’t have too, it’s not an obligation, grandma and grandpa will understand.”

“I know.”

Cade was proud of Cliona for wanting to try, it’s all he could ask of her. They played Candy Land for awhile, snacking on Stella’s 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 couldn’t 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 they’d 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 “these things fill up so if we dont buy them now we might not all be able to get in tomorrow”

“what did she say?” Keola asked. Once he explained Eugene suggested “you should buy her spot for tomorrow too dad. Its obvious you like her. It’s kind of a chance to show her you’re interested” 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 “aw” Eugene said and Keola added “some girls want to pay their own way anyway” 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 “are you sure you’re okay with all this?”

“Yeah, you seemed so happy talking to her and she was nice” he smiled again “do you want a bedtime story?”

“Please, read Interstellar Cinderella again” 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 “whats going on?”

“we’re getting the house ready for your date” Eugene said. Cade responded with “Guys, this is supposed to be a fun weekend for you”

“well we didn’t know if you’d know to clean. I mean you never have girls over” Cade blushed again “well, let me make some coffee and I’ll help. Is Cliona up yet?” It was Keola that answered “yeah, she’s painting in her room. She wants to practice for later. Want us to check on her?”

“No, I’m sure she’s fine. Thanks for helping her get the paint out…did she still seem alright?”

“yeah, don’t worry so much. I can’t imagine anybody being afraid of Holly”

“I just don’t want to push Cliona too hard”

“you’re not dad, its not like you’re inviting her to live with us. You’re not even having real dates with her because we’re all involved. I know even Cliona wants you to be happy too dad”

“Thank you guys” Cade said before heading to the kitchen to start coffee. He called back in there “did you guys eat anything?” They yelled back assuring him they had fed themselves too. Since they had apparently they washed their dish’s 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 you’d never know four kids and a single man lived there. They had cleaned every room as thoroughly as they could. “this place is so nice” she remarked when they were finally back in the living room and sitting down. She then added “whats that incredible smell?”

“It’s 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. “My mouth is watering just thinking about all that. You guys really cook, thats awesome”

“Thankfully 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 cooking”

“You know what you’re doing is just amazing. I know I said it before, but it really is. Not many people would do what you’re doing.”

“They deserve a home too, even if I only get them for a couple of years, they shouldn’t have to age out of the system.”

“So,” she said as she turned her attention to the children, “what do you all want to be when you grow up?”

“We’re going to be nurses.” Kaiaka said with a big smile.

“We’ve already picked out the school we want to attend and everything.” Keola added.

“Is that what you two always wanted to be?”

“Yes, always.” They said as one and giggled which had Holly smiling.

“And what about you, Eugene?”

“I plan on working with my grandpa and uncle. Grandpa said he would give me a paid internship there and if I’m serious about it then he would write me a recommendation to whatever law school I wanted to attend.”

“Thats amazing, Jasper is a really good guy. Your Uncle is Lupin right?”

“Yeah”

“I met him and his family too when your grandfather was dealing with my case.” Holly then tried with Cliona “what would you like to be when you grow up?” she looked down and Holly softly noted “I see a little paint on your shirt. Do you want to be an artist?” 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 “I don’t know what I want to be” 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.

“well that’s okay, you have a long time to think about it” 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 “I was practicing for when we go out later”

“These paint classes are a lot of fun. They make it simple, it feels like painting is the simplest thing in the world when you’re in them”

“really?”

“yeah” Cliona stood “I’m going to change.”

“alright sweetheart” 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 didn’t 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