“Delia, I don’t think it’s a good idea to visit my family.” Jubal once again insisted as he watched Delia packing their suitcase.
“It’s going to be fine and they should meet me, it’s only polite. Last year I missed you all Christmas break, this year I want to actually spend it with you.”
She paused and turned to him and he could see she was getting upset. “Jubal, I’ll be fine. I’m not weak or scared. I know what you are, I know what they are, and I promise it’ll be fine.”
“Until it’s not.”
“Then you’ll be there to watch over me, right?”
He let out a long sigh of defeat. “Fine, we’ll go, but you have to stick to me like glue. No going off alone with anyone that aren’t my parents. Younger kage inu yokai have more trouble with control and I don’t want you getting hurt. If one of them freaks out, it won’t be like when I drink your blood, they’ll rip you apart.”
“I understand, I just really want to spend Christmas with you and I figured this year we’d get the hard part out of the way so next year we can spend it with my family.”
“I want to spend it with you too, I really do. I’m just worried” She hugged him “I know and I love you but I’ll be okay. Have faith in the two of us. I can defend myself and I know you wouldn’t let them hurt me” Jubal framed her face in his hands and just stared at her. His eyes full of emotion, she could see the worry swimming in those black eyes. She moved out of his hold to kiss him. Delia went back to packing and he just watched her.
When she was done she zipped it up and grabbed his that was sitting by the door “hey, I’ll get mine” Jubal said as he got up to help her load their car. “Oh please, it’s not that heavy” he took it anyway and they put them in the trunk. They didn’t have to leave quite yet so she took him back to their room so she could relieve some of his tension through passion.
It was amazing as it always was but it couldn’t erase his worry. She was about to be in a house full of nothing but Kage Inu Yokai and if multiple went nuts they’d be coming in all directions for her. Delia was irreplaceable to him and sometimes he didn’t think she understood just how dangerous his kind was. He kenw it was fruitless to talk to her more about it though. Delia was coming and that was that.
Jubal’s stress returned when they were actually on the road and he clenched the steering wheel with one hand while the other held Delia’s. He went through every possible scenario in his head and what he would do if he had to fight. He didn’t think he could kill one of his family members, but he wasn’t above drawing blood to protect Delia. “Take a breath baby.” She said as she stroked her thumb over his hand.
“Sorry, this is not easy for me.”
“I know, how about we play a game?”
“What kind of game?”
“The ABC game. We each take a turn trying to find a letter of the alphabet on signs and stuff.”
“And then what?”
“Then we start over.”
“So there’s no winner?”
She laughed. “No, but some of the letters are hard to find, like Q and Z. It might take your mind off of things for a bit.”
‘We can still turn back you know and I’ll still go with you to see your family next year”
“I had to try again.” Delia started and he played along. It wasn’t really taking his mind off of her going but he enjoyed how much fun she seemed to be having doing this. She was right, she could defend herself. She knew magic and was good at it but she was meeting his family. If she was meeting just his parents or any of them in a smaller group it wouldn’t be such a big deal but them all attacking her was a real possibility and it was a risk he wished she didn’t want to take.
When Delia tired of playing, she rested her head on his shoulder and yawned. “Nap, baby.” He said.
“And leave you to worry, I don’t think so.”
“Just rest, it’s a long drive.” He brushed a kiss on top of her head. “I’ll be fine.”
“Then wake me if you need me, I won’t get mad.”
“I know.” She closed her eyes and he tuned his ears into the beating of her heart and her soft breathing. He wondered if she knew how much he had come to rely on her, how much he adored her and how much he needed her to keep the monster leashed. He let her sleep until they were nearing his parents house and gently roused her. “We’re close.” He said softly and she sat up, yawning and stretching.
“Oh good, are you okay?”
“Not really, but I’m trying.”
“Everything’s going to be fine.”
His parents lived on a private road out in the country, away from others. It wasn’t that they couldn’t control themselves, but get togethers like this could prove dangerous for regular people. When they pulled into the driveway, the front door of the large house burst open and his nieces and nephew came running out to greet them. “Those are my sister’s kids. The twin girls are Rosalee and Curie and are six and the boy is Finn, thirteen.”
“It’s nice to meet you”
“Who are you?” Finn asked and Delia introduced herself, now wondering if Jubal hadn’t told his family about her. They went inside and Jubal gave quick introductions. They all seemed so friendly, it was ridiculous to her Jubal was so worried. She knew she didn’t have a healthy fear of anything but still, they seemed like good people. Even now, even with how happy they were to meet her and how nice they were being she could see how on edge he was.
“She’s a lot prettier than you let on.” Jubal’s cousin, Alton said as he dropped an arm over Jubal’s shoulders. “And she smells fantastic.” Jubal growled and Alton laughed. “Lighten up, it’s not like I’m going to carry her off into the night.”
“Be good, Alton.” Jubal’s aunt said.
“Alright, alright, sorry.”
“Please make yourself right at home, we have all kinds of drinks in the refrigerator, there are things to snack on until dinner is ready.” Jubal’s mother, Kenna said.
“Thank you.” Delia replied.
“Alton, would you please help Jubal with the bags?”
“Sure thing, come on grumpy, she’ll be fine with the other adults.” He grabbed Jubal by the collar of his shirt and pulled him back. By the looks of things, Alton was the older of the two.
“Delia, can we see your teeth.” Curie asked.
“That’s not polite sweetheart.” Her mother said softly.
“It’s alright, I don’t mind.” Delia said as she squatted down and bared her teeth so they could see her sharp canines.”
“Wow, uncle said they were like cat teeth, that’s cool.” Curie turned to Finn. “Come and look.” Finn just crossed his arms and looked at the floor.
“Is he okay?”
“It’s because of what happened last year.” Kenna said and Delia stood back up. “We want to be honest with you since you’ve helped out son so much. Finn had an episode last year and spent most of the time sleeping. It was upsetting for all of us, but especially him.”
Delia went over to Finn, this boy who looked a lot like his uncle, and rested a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I’m not worried, so you don’t be scared either.” He moved away from her, still not making eye contact. She wondered if Jubal had been the same way when he was learning to control his urges.
She continued talking to them all, feeling absolutely comfortable in Jubals parents home. When he returned to her side he took her hand, glad to see she was alright. Altons joke had done nothing to help how comfortable he was having Delia here. Atleast she had found that he had talked to them about her. Despite any protective reason he may have had it would have hurt her feelings if he hadn’t brought her up at all to his family.
“We’re going to go on a walk mom, I’d like her to see the grounds.”
“Alright sweetie, but please try not to hog her, we’d love to learn more about her and spend time with her ourselves.”
Jubal pulled Delia out of the house and out into the cool air. It was getting colder and Delia was sure they would be getting snow at some point. She was excited to be spending Christmas break with him and his family. “They’re all very sweet.” She said as they walked along the house to the back yard.
“Are you still mad about Alton’s remark.”
He growled and she laughed. “It’s not funny, Delia, your smell already drives me crazy, I can’t get enough of it.”
“That explains a lot.”
“Do you always have to joke?”
“Yes because you never joke so I have to joke enough for the both of us.” She kissed his cheek. “So tell me about Finn’s episode.”
“He attacked a hiker, tore him up pretty good, but the guy survived. He was out the door before anyone could stop him. He even attacked me and Alton when we pulled him off the hiker. Even young, my kind are extremely strong, especially during a blood lust.” Jubal sighed. “He didn’t want to come this year, at least that’s what Alton said. He’s terrified since you’re here that he might do something bad. We all go through this and it’s hard fighting the hunger when you get to a certain age.”
“Then you and I will have to show him that it’s okay. We’re fine and I’m still alive.”
She could see the for now in his face and groaned “Your attitude wont help him Jubal. Lighten up, they’ve been really kind to me”
“Delia, you don’t understand. Even adults lose control and if that one person caused you to bleed the smell and sight of your blood might make them all freak out”
“Lots of things could happen. I could go to school and the room I’m in could collapse, I could be attacked by some random asshole creature while I’m out walking, so many things could happen no matter where we are or what we’re doing. Trust your family, they love you and they seem like good people. They won’t hurt me and I’m sure if I get hurt it’ll be an accident” He sighed “I’ll try to lighten up for my nephews sake.”
He showed her his family’s land, telling little stories about how he and his sister’s and cousins used to play here when he was little. They only went back when Jubal’s dad, Jeremy, along with Finn and the twins came for them. “Dinner time.” He looked to Delia. “You’re alright with meat right?”
“I’m alright with food. Contrary to popular belief, most elves eat meat. My ancestors were very adept at hunting.” Jubal scooped her up as they walked, wanting her close.
“Interesting, what weapons did they prefer?”
“From what I’ve read and what my parents and grandparents told me, they used a bow and arrow, snares, or they built traps. One of my great uncles was really good at chasing down prey with a knife.”
“Fascinating. I also noticed your blood is oddly colored.”
She laughed. “I’m a Hugtandalfer, our blood is a silvery color.”
“Does it taste different? Not that I want any.”
Delia looked up at Jubal. “Well, does it?”
“It’s sweeter, thicker than human blood. I can taste her magic, her land, it’s like heaven.” Delia blushed and Jubal cleared his throat. “That may just be me though, everything about Delia is perfect.”
Jeremy smiled, glad his son was so happy. At the table Jubal was on one side of her while his mother then father were on her other side. Jubal was glad, his parents had amazing control so if anybody was going to be that close he wanted it to be them though he was thinking about what Delia said. They weren’t thoughtless monsters, they were his family and they loved him. He knew even if they started to feel a craving they would probably just get some air awhile and wouldn’t risk hurting someone he loved. He needed to try and trust them more.
“So what made you want to study magic?” Kenna asked.
“Well my kind are good at magic, but it gets better with age. I was told I showed promise in that field since I was already very powerful at such a young age. My parents sent me to school so I could learn more about how to control my gifts and put them to use. I’m not as good as Jubal though, he’s such a natural at everything.”
“I’ve offered to tutor you.” Jubal said as he ate.
“It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I wouldn’t be learning much.” She winked at him and he looked away, fighting down the blush that threatened to redden his cheeks.
“Wow, I didn’t think anyone could embarrass you.” Alton teased. “How cute.”
“I will come over this table, Alton.”
“Not in front of your mate you won’t. You’ll protect me right Delia?”
“Only at the table, I’d hate to ruin all of Kenna’s hard work. This food is really good.”
“Thank you, Delia. I was wondering if you’d mind sharing some of your favorite foods for Christmas. I’ve never had any Hugtandalfer food.”
“Sure, but only if Finn and the twins help me.”
The twins seemed excited but Finn seemed tense and worried again. “come on Finn! She wont do it if you don’t help” Rosalee urged and he agreed “Yay” both girls said and Delia smiled at Finn who still wouldn’t look at her if he could help it. He didn’t know why she wasn’t afraid of him. She had to know what he had done. She knew Jubal would have told her. He was dangerous and he still hated himself for hurting that man. He wished his kind wasn’t this way, that it wasn’t so hard for him not to hurt people. He still couldn’t forgive himself over the hiker, if he hurt another person he didn’t know how he was supposed to live with himself.
After dinner Delia tried to help clean up, but everyone shooed her. Jubal happily lifted her and carried her upstairs to his old room, wanting to rest. “Wow, look at all these books.” She said when he sat down on his bed, cradling her in his lap.
“Reading helped to distract me when I was having a hard time. It was a nice way to escape when I couldn’t go running.” He pushed his nose into her hair and kissed her neck. “Now I have you.”
“You’re still worried aren’t you?”
“Yeah, but I’m trying to trust them. They already like you so much, especially the little ones and I don’t want to push them away.”
“I want them to know that it’s okay to be who they are, just like I showed you. Finn is terrified, it’s the same look you got when we became roommates. You acted angry, but you were really just scared.” She leaned back to look into his eyes. She loved them, how dark they were, like two beautiful polished stones. “I really love you, Jubal, and I will no matter what.”
“I love you too.” He pressed their lips together, letting her scent consume his senses. “You’re mine, Delia, only mine and I would be devastated if something happened to you.”
“I know baby, I would just really like us to alternate holidays so we can see your family too.”
“If this goes well that sounds good to me. For now no more talking about them. I just want to enjoy you and get some rest” She smiled at him, loving how even just that small action seemed to make him feel better. He was an amazing man and the girls that left him before she came along didn’t know what they were missing out on. Was he always perfect? No but he was worth those rough moments with him. They just laid intertwined until they were both asleep.
They were woke the next morning by two excited little girls who were followed by their mother. “Girls, that’s rude.”
“It’s alright Selene.” Jubal said as he sat up and lifted Curie above his head. She squealed in delight and he sat her down on the floor. “You two should learn to knock, okay? What if Delia and I were making out?”
“Gross.” The girls said in unison and both Delia and Selene laughed.
“So what’s up?”
“Grandpa wants you to help him pick out a tree.” Rosalee said.
“He said we could come too.”
“You go and spend time with your dad and nieces, I’ll hang out here with everyone else.”
“Alton is going as well as some of the others. Dad said you would form teams and each of you would find a tree then we women get to decide the winner.” Selene added.
“Well then I should get up, wouldn’t want to disappoint my love.”
“Yeah and trust us to keep her safe lug head.”
He kissed Delia, feeling much more comfortable with her being here today than he did yesterday. He changed his clothes then went out to join his family while Delia stayed behind with the women. “I’m happy he’s leaving you alone with us. We can tell he’s scared but really, we’d never hurt you Delia”
“I’m not worried at all”
“we can see that too. Thank you”
“Nobody should be feared simply because of their race and you all have been so welcoming”
“You make him happy, truly happy. It’s the first time. We hope you never leave him”
“I’m too stubborn for that. He’s mine until we die”
“Well that would be a really long time, we don’t age and I hear your kind is pretty much the same.”
“Then we’ll make it forever. No matter how hard it gets or even if he one day actually loses it, I won’t leave. He can go all black dog on me, I’ll just get a collar.”
Everyone laughed as they imagined Jubal wearing a collar. “You really are very sweet. No wonder he’s so smitten.” Jubal’s other cousin, Trisha, said.
“Oh yes, I’ve never seen my son look at someone the way he does you.” Kenna added. “You would think we didn’t even exist when you’re around.”
“And he talked about you quite a bit when he was here last year, though he didn’t really do you justice. He must have wanted to keep you mostly to himself.”
“He can be pretty possessive, but I think it adds to his charm.”
Jubal held his nieces hands while he followed his father and Finn. Alton walked on the other side of Curie, grinning and glancing at Jubal. “Is there something on your mind, Alton?” He asked.
“So, you going to marry her and have kids or what?”
Jubal glanced at him then away. “I’d like too. I want to give her her own ceremony, elves do things differently, I just don’t know how she’d feel about being tied to someone like me. If we’re just mates, then she won’t have to feel all this turmoil inside me, but I want to give her everything.”
“So give it to her. From what I’ve seen, she’s no push over. I bet she could handle it. She smells strong.” Jubal growled and Alton laughed. “I can’t help but study her scent and it was a compliment, you picked an incredibly strong woman.”
He thought about it as they walked, deciding he would ask her when they got home. She was brave enough to meet his family, maybe a lifetime with him wouldn’t scare her away. When the men came back with the trees they didn’t say who found which ones so nobody would pick based off bias. Jubal knew it was dumb but he knew it would make him a little sad if Delia didn’t pick the one he found. He chastised himself for being so stupid but his heart actually stuttered when she liked his the best. She smiled, noticing his delight. It made the other women in his family pick his too so they took it inside so they could all decorate it.
“So, have fun with your dad?”
“Yeah, it was better knowing you’d be here waiting for me.”
Delia leaned over and kissed his cheek. “You’re so sweet and the tree you picked is beautiful.”
“Delia has to put the star on.” Rosalee said.
“But grandpa always does it.” Curie replied.
“I don’t mind, this year I’ll let Delia do it since she’s new.” Jeremy said and handed her the star. It was beautiful and obviously very old.
“Thank you.” Delia said with a big smile. She laughed when Jubal lifted her onto his shoulders and stood so she could reach the top. The twins clapped when the star was settled into place and hugged her as soon as she was back on the ground.
“You’re so cool.” Curie said.
“Stay forever.” Rosalee added.
When Delia needed to start on dinner that night she got the twins and Finn to help her in the kitchen. Finn was tense for about the first half of cooking but once she got him to relax around her he had a good time. Delia made cooking her peoples food fun for the kids and they got to take multiple tastes as they got it ready. Everyone ended up loving the meal so she cooked a few more times over the break, each time insisting that Finn help. Over all the vacation went amazingly well and left Delia wanting to see them again soon. They were just as eager to see her again so Jubal promised to set something up.
In the car on their way home Delia said “see, wasn’t that perfect?” He smiled “you make everything perfect Delia” she took his hand “you sweetie” The day after they arrived home he gathered the strength and told her how he felt “I want to marry you Delia. I want to have a family and everything with you…I want to get married in the way your people get married if you would have me that way…”
Delia smiled as she took his face in her hands and kissed him. “I love you and yes, I’ll marry you.”
“Really? You’re not worried?”
“No way, if anything knowing my every emotion, my pain, my joy, would help you feel more secure. I want everything with you.”
He hugged her tightly. “You’re so amazing, Delia, I love you so much and we’ll start planning right away so everyone can be there.”
“I’m really so happy you asked me Jubal” They got staright to planning and managed to have their wedding eight months from that day. It was a gorgeous ceremony and pretty much everyone from both sides of their families made it. It meant a lot to both of them. Jubal didn’t even care about the pain from the dagger as it came down, he just wanted to be married to Delia, to be closer to her in this way. Elven marriage was truly special and beautiful and he felt extremely lucky. He had the perfect woman and the perfect way to be even closer to her. Once he could feel what she felt for him in that moment it brought him to tears and he didn’t care or even think about who was watching him cry. “Oh Jubal” she said softly and kissed him. They spent a week visiting with all the family that had traveled to see them then were off to their honeymoon. Jubal had enlisted his mother and sister in planning something truly amazing for his bride. As they traveled down the road he hoped she would enjoy it as much as he expected her too but even more so, he hoped she’d always be this happy with him.
~ The End