“Dad, she’s back again.” Lispin’s ten year old son Savitri said as he walked into the library where his parents were.
Lispin sighed. “Alright buddy, stay here with your mother, I’ll be back.”
Lispin got to his feet, tussling his son’s hair as he exited the library and out the back door of the castle. He could see her even before he got to the edge of the magical barrier, his mother, the woman who had used him and lied to him. His heart wrenched in his chest every time he saw her, still feeling the sting of her betrayal. “Mother, what are you doing here?” He stood just on the other side of the barrier and she did the same.
“I just wanted to see you.” She answered.
“Have you been talking to my boy?”
“No, but I’ve seen him playing. He looks just like you.”
Lispin crossed his arms. “Stay away from my family.”
“I’m serious, I can’t trust the woman who almost made me hurt Rika. You poisoned me, I could have seriously hurt her.”
“There is no excuse in the world that would make sense of your actions. Just…just leave us alone.” He turned away, going back inside, feeling both anger and sadness. He could hear Rika and Savitri laughing in the library and he took a deep, calming breath before pushing the door open.
“Hey buddy can I talk to mom alone?”
“Sure, I’ll go play in my room.”
“Thanks little man.” Once Savitri was gone Lispin flopped down in one of the chairs and Rika moved to sit in his lap.
“Tell me.” She said softly as she stroked her fingers though his hair.
“I wish she’d leave me alone. I don’t understand why she keeps coming back.” He rested his head against her chest, his arms wrapping tightly around her waist.
“Maybe she wants to apologize.”
He snorted. “She’s had years to do that, instead she keeps skulking around and making excuses.”
“She poisoned me, I almost…I…” He pressed his forehead against her chest. “How can I forgive that?”
“I forgave you after you had everyone kidnapped. I forgave Thorn for raping and torturing me. If I can forgive those things then won’t you at least give your mother a chance?”
“You’re right, I just still hate myself somtimes for letting anything make me hurt you. It makes me so angry at her”
“You stopped yourself Lispin. If she’s still out there let her in. With how sad she always is I don’t think she’ll hurt any of us and you know what that stuff tastes like now”
“I need to prepare myself for letting her in. Next time she comes, I promise”
“Okay, it may help to think of her point of view. I mean, she was Zeus’s lover for a long time so of course when she became pregnant with a male heir she thought she would be queen. What she saw was Lucy coming in and stealing him. Granted she still acted horribly but it wasn’t out of pure cruelty. She was just confused and became petty and thoughtless.”
“How are you always so understanding Rika?”
“The worlds a better place when you do your best to understand others”
“She only gets one chance Rika”
“and thats fully understandable Lispin” He kissed her chest “I love you so much”
“I love you more than life”
“I’ll talk to Chthon about taking the barrier down later, right now I just want to be with you and our son.”
Rika smiled and kissed him. “We should have another, I bet he and Kandara love more siblings.”
“As many as you want my love.”
“You’re so wonderful baby.”
“Not as wonderful as you.” He stood, keeping her in his arms. “We should find Aether, I hate I practically kicked him out to talk to you.”
“Don’t say sill things.”
“Sorry, I just feel like I rushed him out.”
“You’re a wonderful father baby and he would never think that. He knows that sometimes we need privacy.”
Lispin followed his sons scent, finding him in his room “Hey” Lispin said as he set down his wife who was holding Aether. “Hey”
“sorry we kicked you out”
“it’s okay, I know grandma stresses you guys. Can I hold Aether?’
“of course baby” Savitri held out his hands and Rika gently placed his little brother in them. “would you like another sibling?”
“yeah, that would be awesome” Savitir answered without looking away from his little brother. Rika smiled up at Lispin who pulled her into him and kissed her temple. They let Savitri enjoy his brother for awhile longer then told him how much they loved him before going back to their room to unwind. Rika knew it would be hard for Lispin to forgive but she knew that he could, especially since he had been forgiven for so much more wrong.
Lispin held Rika close, his lips brushing against her forehead in a feather light kisses. “I guess I should stop delaying the inevitable and talk to Chthon about taking down the barrier.” He said, still feeling unsure.
“It’s going to be okay baby.”
“I don’t trust her Rika and even that kills me. Every time I think of her, I think of almost hurting you. It doesn’t matter if I stopped. If you had looked at me the way you looked at Thorn the first day he came here, I would have killed myself.”
“Lispin, don’t say that.”
“It’s the truth, hurting you would have been my undoing.”
She raised up and pressed her lips against his then pulled back to look into his eyes. “I will never be afraid of you, you have to believe that. I know you think I would have hated you, that I would have been afraid of being touched by you, but you were drugged. Even Chthon could be turned by such a thing if he did not know the taste of it. No one would blame him just like no one blames you, just like I don’t blame you. You’re a good man, a wonderful husband and father, so please stop needlessly worrying.”
He hugged her tightly to him, burying his face in her hair and inhaling her scent. “I love you baby.”
“I love you too, now go and talk to Chthon and don’t worry, everything will be just fine.”
“okay” it took him a few moments to make himself let Rika go but he did and walked out to find Chthon. He was laughing and talking with Ruth when he stumbled upon them. Chthons attention left her and focused on him “yes?”
“My mother is outside again and Rika has convinced me to try and forgive her”
“Good, forgiveness makes this world a better place. It’s safe to forgive her since she can’t poison you again and has most likely learned her lesson by now. I’ve seen how depressed she looks without you”
“so you’ll take the barrier down?”
“of course, just give her a real chance. You were given one by me and my family”
“It’s just hard because I almost hurt Rika”
“it is but you almost raped one of my daughters and that was very hard to forgive. You would have allowed many of the women in my family to be violated if we hadn’t stopped and turned you” Lispin nodded and Chthon kissed Ruth before walking out of the room to let Cynthia in. Ruth got up and hugged Lispin “always know nobody holds anything against you. Chthon was only reminding you that you have been forgiven for a lot and should pass on that forgiveness. Most of this amazing family we have wouldn’t be if he didn’t practice such forgiveness and get his family to.”
“I am sorry.”
“It’s okay Lispin, you just needed a push in the right direction. Why don’t you go and greet your mother.”
“I need Rika first.”
Ruth smiled and patted his back. “Go on then sweetie.”
He went back up to his and Rika’s room, making her set up when he opened the door. “Hey, is she here?”
“Chthon is taking the barrier down, I wanted you to be there with me. You’ll keep me from getting too angry.” She smiled and got up, lifting little Aether gently out of his crib. They left the room, making a stop at Savitri’s room first.
“Is something wrong?” Their son asked.
“Chthon is letting my mother in, would you like to come down and greet her with us?” Lispin asked.
Savitri shifted nervously back and forth. “Well, not really, but I will if you want me too.”
“We won’t force you baby.” Rika replied, giving him a small smile.
“I’ll do it, I don’t think I’ll say much, but I’ll go.”
“Maybe Kandara will help you. She had to forgive Thorn for actually raping me so I’m sure she can help you look past what your grandmother has done” Rika said and her son answered “can we go get her too then”
“of course” They found Kandara and went down to see Cynthia. She actually looked nervous and scared, far from the woman they had seen before “hey baby” she said barely containing the want to run up and hug him. She knew he hated her now though and well he should after what she did out of jealous that Zeus, that callous asshole that abandon, struck and threw her out had her son. She knew what she had done hadn’t been right anbd all she wanted now was her son back in her life, even if that meant being around Zeus and his family.
“Mother, you remember Rika, my mate.” He held tightly to Rika’s hand, not wanting her to get too close to Cynthia, but she simply held out her other hand.
“Yes, I remember.” Cynthia gave her hand a brief squeeze, not wanting to further upset her son.
“I’m sure you also remember Kandara, my daughter or step daughter, which ever she prefers.”
“Daughter is fine Lispin.”
“And these are my son’s Savitri and Aether.” Savitri stayed behind his parents, peeking between them as he held his brother.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you.” Cynthia said.
“I’ve seen you around.” He replied, his voice soft.
Cynthia gave a sad smile. “So uh, is your father and his wife here?”
“Lucy, her name is Lucy mother and not today. They’ll be back tomorrow. I would ask that you refrain from glaring at them and acting like they’re the scum of the earth. They’ve been good to me in spite of me hurting them before. I know why you hate father, but he wasn’t raised in a loving and understanding environment, that can have negative repercussions on a person. If it wasn’t for Lucy, he would have been my bastard of a grandfather.”
“I understand, I’ll be nice.”
“It’s good being able to actually spend time with you again.”
Lispin just nodded. “Please also refrain from making fun of my son’s powers, he takes after me in that aspect and has been doing an amazing job mastering them.”
“Among other things.”
“I…I’m sorry if I ever…you know if I ever made you feel bad about that.”
Rika could see Lispin was having an even harder time now that he and his mother were in the same room and could also see how sad Cynthia was so she said, “You look hungry, why don’t we get you something to eat.”
As Cynthia followed she mentally kicked herself over how harshly she had raised her son. She had always loved him but she had mixed up values, trying to hide traits she thought weren’t manly and try to make Lispin feel bad about them so he wouldn’t use his powers. She wished she hadn’t been so foolish for so long. Rika tried to sit near Cynthia but Lispin was nowhere near ready for that to happen so she ended up sitting by Chthon and an empty seat. Lispin had to admit having Chthon sitting right beside his mother made him feel much safer around her.
Chthon was on guard. He was a forgiving man but not a foolish one. He would be mindful of Cynthia until he was sure she was a safe member of the family and wouldn’t harm some of the younger ones he hadn’t had time to teach certain things yet. Lispin and Rika knew enough he didn’t have to worry so much but the children of the family kept him on guard.
“So, you look just like your dad Savitri.” Cynthia said, breaking the tense silence.
“That’s what everyone says.”
“You could be twins, except for your eyes.”
“Yeah, they’re my mom’s.”
“I like them.”
“Okay, thank you.”
Cynthia gave him a sad smile. “And your brother sure is cute. May I hold him?”
Lispin opened his mouth to deny her request, but Rika spoke up first. “I don’t see why not.” Lispin clenched his jaw and Rika gave his hand a quick reassuring squeeze before taking Aether from from his brother and standing to hand her the baby.
“He’s cute.” Cynthia said as she took her grandson gently in her arms.
Rika sat back down next to Lispin and took his hand, feeling how tense his muscles were as he watched his mother holding his son. His eyes were full of fear and he was ready to pounce at any show of aggression. Chthon sat there, completely relaxed, but ready to stop Cynthia if she dared to hurt the child. He was much closer and much faster than Lispin and would have the baby away from her faster than they could all blink. Cynthia could tell how upset her son was and stood, moving over to Rika and handing the baby back. “Thank you Rika.”
As Cynthia sat back down she nervously tried “You’re looking gorgeous Kandara. Do you have a mate yet?”
“Oh, so are you going to live here until you do?” Kandara shrugged “I don’t know, I’ve always lived with my mom. Before Lispin it had been just the two of us for quite a long time. I only ever leave her now if I want to visit my dad”
“he isn’t far?”
“Not really, if they know I’m coming they meet me halfway despite the fact I was an adult already when he first met me. It’s sweet though and I enjoy traveling with them”
“do they have kids yet?” Cynthia didn’t care a lot about Thorn and Gloria but sombody was having a real conversation with her so she was rolling with it. “They have a daughter.”
“is she nice? Does she get territorial with her dad?”
“Not at all, she likes when I visit”
“Thorn Hardisons daughter?”
“don’t forget I am too”
“Oh, sorry, it’s just you werent raised by him so”
“well he’s a good man now. My mother forgave him a long time ago and he hasn’t done anything to another woman since he apologized to all he wronged”
“Most people would seek revenge for their loved ones being wronged.”
“One woman did, but when she realized he wasn’t the same man, she let it go. Her daughter had long forgiven him.”
“I’m surprised Lispin didn’t kill him.”
“Rika wanted to give him a chance and I would not go against her wishes. She was right to forgive him, he’s a good man. Besides, I had no right to judge him after what I did.”
“You mean what I made you do.”
“I made my own choice, you only fueled the flames.”
“Lispin I…I’m really…”
“Sorry? I can forgive the lies, I can forgive you judging my powers and making me feel inadequate because of them, I can forgive you for turning me into an instrument for your revenge, but what I am having trouble getting around is what you almost made me do to Rika. That is something that will take me a long to time to get over.”
“I understand and I’ll do what I have too to earn your forgiveness.”
“Apologize to my father and Lucy. He feels bad for leading you on, but it’s not like he meant too. He’s not a bad person, he was raised wrong, his perspective on how relationships work was severely skewed from the moment he was born. Every sister who came before him was murdered from the moment they left my grandmother’s womb. Apologize and forgive him for his mistakes. It’ll be a start and I will try to let things go. It’s hard when someone you love was almost hurt, but I will try.”
“thank you” she said and wished he wasn’t so closed off when it came to her side of things. He could think of her fathers upbringing but not even consider hers. She hadnt been raised kindly either and what she told him as a child was honestly her point of view but she wouldn’t try and make him see her side, his heart obviously wasn’t open to it. If he would let her in his life that was all she needed. They finished their awkward meal then Kandara asked Cynthia to view some of her paintings. Rika smiled proudly, Kandara had one of the most open, forgiving hearts of them all. Just as easily as she forgave her father she was opening her heart to Cynthia.
“I’m sure you’re disappointed in me.” Lispin said with a sigh once his mother and Kandara were out of earshot.
“It’s hard and I understand.”
“She committed the ultimate betrayal when she poisoned me.”
“I know, but you have to give her a chance, let her explain things.”
“So she can put the blame solely on my father? I know he was a bastard, I get that he was cold and unfeeling and could have cared less for her feelings. I know all these things and I know it must have been hurtful, I know she must have felt betrayed, but there is no excuse for doing such a thing as poisoning your own child simply because you can’t let the past go.”
“She’s trying now baby, just try and open up more, I’m sure her childhood was far from perfect.”
“I know, I’m trying, I just feel so conflicted when I look at her. She’s my mother and I love her, she could have rid herself of me the day I was born, but she didn’t and I am grateful for that, but it’s just hard to look at her and not think about what happened.”
“I know, but it’ll get better, I promise.”
“I will forgive her Rika, I just need time”
“I know, luckily Kandara took her away so you can get a break.” Chthon cleared his throat “if you two want some alone time I could keep an eye on your boys” she smiled “thank you”
‘she has not fully gained my trust either so I’d honestly feel better if I was the one watching them. Theres nothing she can pull in my sights” Rika looked at Lispin “want to go on a nice walk and get some air?”
“sounds good, thank you Chthon”
“I get to be with my great grandchildren, it’s a treat”
“you sure Kandara is okay?”
“I’ve taught Kandara all she needs to know and shes an impressive fighter.” with that Lispin and Rika went outside and breathed in the fresh desert air. Rika took Lispins hand and kissed his cheek “air should help”
“Hopefully” Lispin said with a sigh. Kandara came to a fourth painting in her room “I think this is one of my best works. Its a birthday present for Ruth”
“How is she?”
“good, shes a pretty upbeat person”
“as Chthons mate I’m sure.”
“whats that mean?”
“she can have anything she wants”
“her family makes her happy, not that she can get whatever she wants. She barely asks for anything”
“its not about things with her. Its probably how she is such a happy person”
“No one here cares for money. Family is the most important thing to us, blood or not we stick together.”
“Maybe that’s why both Lispin and Zeus hate me.”
“Lispin doesn’t hate you Cynthia, he’s just pissed off and Zeus just wasn’t in love with you, he fell hard for Lucy. You weren’t the only one he ignored, he did the same with his daughters when they were kids. He didn’t earn their forgiveness until after he was resurrected. What Jeremiah made him do, especially to Lucy, broke him. I am very fortunate to have been welcomed into Chthon’s family, to have so many wonderful people joining it almost every day. Most female demons grow up being lorded over, but not here, it’s so amazingly wonderful here.”
“But I’ll never be accepted here if Lispin doesn’t forgive me. Even my grandson avoids me.”
“Everything will be fine, just hang around and give it time. Lispin still loves you, he just feels conflicted.”
Lispin sat with Rika under a tree, his arms holding tightly to her. It always felt good having her close, her fingers stroking through his hair so he felt himself relax. “Better?” She asked and he lifted his head to kiss her, getting lost in the sweetness of her lips.
“Much better.” He replied as he parted their lips.
She smiled “why don’t we try and be social with your mom then?’
“can’t we stay right here a little longer”
“I guess, I’m sure real progress wont be made until tomorrow anyway when Zeus and Lucy come”
“Lets hope my dad doesnt attack her right off the bat”
“if shes in the castle he’ll know Chthon is letting her be there”
“true, are you worried about her with Kandara?”
“No, Kandara can take care of herself and Chthon is only a yell away I’m sure. You know how fast he is and right now hes on his toes” They sat in the comfortable heat of the desert for awhile longer then Rika convinced Lispin to go inside and see what his mother was up to with their daughter. They found them both still in her room. Kandara was teaching Cynthia how to paint. “Oh hey guys” Kandara said cheerfully. “hey, what’re you two doing”
“she’s never tried anything like painting before so I was teaching her”
“It’s not as easy as I thought.” Cynthia added.
“It just takes practice, Kandara has been doing it for a long time.”
“If anyone can teach you then she can.” Lispin said, trying his best to be nice.
“She’s been great.”
He cleared his throat, feeling a bit awkward standing there trying to think of something good to say. “So, I hope you’ll be joining us for dinner.”
“I plan on it, I hope everyone else in this castle will be fine with it. I’m sure they’re all pretty upset with me.”
“Well it’s Chthon’s house so no one will raise too big of a fuss.” Rika said with a smile.
“He’s the big boss then?”
“Yeah, he’s the Patriarch of this family, his word is law.”
“Dad will be back tomorrow, with Lucy.” Lispin suddenly said since it was the only thing he could think of.
“Oh, I’m sure that will go well.”
“I’m sure Zeus will be fine, Lucy’s pretty good about keeping him calm and he’s not like he used to be so he’ll probably forgive a lot easier than he would have back then, he’ll probably have some things to say, but I doubt he’d yell at you or anything.” Rika explained.
“yeah, people have forgiven way worse in this family anyway” Kandara added. The rest of the day and dinner was spent awkwardly between everyone. The only people who seemed at ease atall were Ruth, Kandara and Rika. The next morning Zeus and Lucy arrived shortly after everyone had finished breakfast. Zeus wasn’t far into the castle at all when he picked up Cynthias scent and growled “how did she get in here?” Chthon seemed to come out of nowhere “I have let her in. Your son wishes to try and forgive her. In fact she’s willing to apologize to you and Lucy. You may not have wanted your son all those years ago but she didn’t need to egg him on in adulthood to attack this family and she realizes that”
“It’s alright Zeus.” Lucy said softly, her hand squeezing his.
He looked at his mate then let out a sigh. “If Lispin says okay then it’s okay with me.”
“Thank you love.”
“She’s spending time in the library with Kandara, Rika and Lispin. The boys are there as well. She’s trying to get to know Savitri and having a bit of a struggle, he’s a bit closed off from her.”
“He’s probably feeding off his father’s energy, he can sense how Lispin feels and he thinks she should be avoided.”
Savitri sat on the library floor, a book in his hands, worried about his little brother being with their grandmother. He was nervous and stayed as close to his parents as possible He didn’t know what to expect from Cynthia and he wanted to do is best to be nice. Rika touched his shoulder and he looked up at her smiling face. “Why don’t you ask your grandmother to read to you and Aether.” He looked at his father and Lispin nodded so he got up and walked over to Cynthia.
“Would you read to me?” He asked, looking at his feet and holding up his book.
“of course sweetheart” Cynthia was only a few pages into the story when Zeus and Lucy stepped in. She paused and looked at them then decided to finish one chapter for her grandchildren before apologizing. When it was over she said “I’ll read more after I talk to your grandma and and grandpa”
“okay, mom can take over anyway” he took the book to his mother and Cynthia stepped out with Zeus and Lucy “I’m not sure what to say but I am sorry. I’m here in peace and wont ever try to harm anybody again. I just want my son and grandchildren and to do my best to fit into this family”
“we will forgive you Cynthia. It may take awhile to fully trust you but this family has been built on forgiveness. Welcome to it” Zeus offered his hand and they shook “thank you both” They went back into the library and Cynthia took over reading again after Lucy finished the second chapter. They all stayed together like this until dinner and had another awkward meal though this one was a little easier to get through. Over the weeks she soon became more and more comfortable and really felt she had a spot in this family as long as she never went against them again. Lispin even found himself enjoying this new woman. She was his mother but she was far different from the mother he had known growing up. He was glad his wife convinced him to give her a chance or he wouldn’t have experienced what it was like to have the humbled Cynthia as his mother.
~ The End ~