Declan moved silently through the house. He stayed low as he moved into the living room. He heard giggling and smiled. It was coming from behind the curtain. He snuck over and yanked it aside.the two five year olds screamed and he scooped them up before they could get away. “I found you.” He said and kissed them both on the cheek.
“You’re so smart dad.” His son Gregory said with a bright smile.
“I hope we’re as good at playing hide and seek as you some day.” His little girl Dania said and hugged him.
“I’m sure you will. It takes practice.”
Rylan came into the living room and the twins squealed. Dania wriggled and he sat her down so she could run to her mother. She picked her up and gave her a kiss. “Hello angel, did you have fun?” She asked.
“Daddy’s really good at finding us. I thought we’d lost him for sure this time.”
“Daddy will have to teach you all his secrets.” She looked at her husband and their little boy. “Lunch is ready.”
They all went into the dining room and sat the kids in their chairs. Declan helped Rylan grab the plates of spaghetti and forks. He noticed she had been acting a little distant lately. He wondered of it had anything to do with his work. He had killed many vampires since their children had been born. They ate and listened to the kids talk. They really wanted to see Uncle Zander. He had been spending a lot of time with the Matron lately, had come home many a night with a big grin on his face. When they noticed he blushed the brightest shade of red. After dinner they took the kids upstairs and bathed them. They had spaghetti sauce all over. They took them out, dried them and carried them to their room. They dressed them and put them to bed. Once the door was closed and they were alone Declan pulled her into his arms and kissed her.
“Are you alright?” He asked.
“I’ve been thinking and Zander and I have been talking. We want to visit where we came from, our home and our parents’s graves.” She looked away. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want too.”
He grabbed her chin between his thumb and index finger and tilted her head back. “Why did you have to hide this from me?”
“Because it might be dangerous, especially now that we have the kids. They’re special. I think they may be starting to develope psychic abilities like Zander. I have seen them talking to each other, but never with their mouths like Zander does with me.”
“That’s wonderful.” He kissed her again and brushed her hair away from her face. “We can go. I would love to see your home.”
She smiled “I’m glad you want to.”
“You don’t have to worry about talking to me about anything Rylan. I’m glad it’s just that though. You’ve been making me worried you were unhappy with me because of how you’ve been acting.” He picked her up as he spoke. Declan carried her to their bed and layed her down crawling in beside her. “Aw, you’ve really been worried? I’m sorry. You still make me very happy.” She said as she wrapped an arm and leg around him.
“Don’t worry about it. I feel much better. I guess I should’ve just asked you sooner.” He relaxed and enjoyed the closeness until he drifted to sleep.
They woke to banging on the front door. It was four in the morning. They ran downstairs and Rylan pulled the door open. It was Zander. “The kids are sleeping Zander.” She snapped and moved aside so he could walk in.
“I’m sorry sis. I tried knocking normal, but no one answered. Then I tried climbing up the lattice, but the windows are all locked. I forgot my key.” He said and sat down on the couch.
“Please don’t forget again. How’s the Matron?”
He blushed and looked at his feet. “Uh, she’s good. I was wondering if it would be alright to bring her with us when we go back.”
Rylan and Declan couldn’t stop themselves from laughing. He glared up at them, but it only made them laugh harder. “Zander you’re a grown man not a teenager, if you want to bring her then just bring her.” Declan managed to say.
“I thought it would be polite to ask.”
“She’s the Matron of my household. She could order me to let her come. Just bring her.”
“Uncle Zander?” Dania’s little voice said and they all turned. Gregory was right behind her and rubbing his little eyes.
“Hey you two.” Zander got up and picked up his niece and nephew. He felt bad for not spending as much time as possible with them. “Sorry I woke you.”
“Can you come read us a story?” Gregory asked and rested his hea don his uncle’s shoulder.
“Yes sir, I sure can.”
“We’ll start packing in the morning Zander. Call the Matron after you’re done reading and tell her we’re leaving the day after tomorrow.” Rylan said with a smile.
“I’m really sorry I woke everyone. I promise I won’t forget my key again.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
He disappeared upstairs with the twins. “Twenty-three years old, highly intelligent with psychic abilities and he can’t even remember a key because of a beautiful woman.” Declan said and picked her up.
“Sounds like you just younger.”
Declan smiled “I was sort of a mess when we first met.” She laughed as he carried her back to their room. He layed down with her holding her close. Rylan wasn’t sure if she would be able to go back to sleep. She was excited about going home along with worried. She hoped nobody would try to harm or take her children like they had with Zander. She had faith in hers, Zanders & Declans abilities but she didn’t want her little ones to go through anything like her and Zander did.
It would’ve been comforting to talk with Declan but she could tell by his slow breaths he was sleeping. She just layed there still and silent until Zander popped in her head “Go to sleep Rylan. Everything will be ok.”
“Thanks Zander, I’ll try.”
The next morning was hectic. Rylan and Zander packed while Declan got plane tickets. Gregory and Dania were running around trying to figure out which stuffed animal to bring. Rylan had told them one each. Declan also made arrangements for one of his cousins to feed and play with Sacha while they were gone. She was eight years old and slept more than anything unless she was giving the kids rides around the yard. She was their nanny. Declan remembered when Dania had wandered into the forest and Sacha had found her and carried her back by her pants. He finished with plane and panther preparations and went to help the kids pick out their toys.
“Here, why don’t you both take your panthers?” He suggested. They had messed up there room. There were stuffed animals everywhere, a small army of them.
“But what if we get them mixed up?” Gregory was dead serious.
“How about we by different colored collars for them on the way to the airport. Until then you can just hold them.”
“Good idea dad.” Dania said and ran into his arms. He carried them down the hall to his and Rylan’s room.
“Did they finally pick one?” She asked.
“They both decided on their Sacha’s. We have to get collars for them so they don’t get mixed up.” He winked and she laughed. There was a knock on the door and Zander yelled he’d get it.
“It’s Caroline.” He yelled the Matron’s name up the stairs.
Rylan smiled teaseing Zander in her head. He picked up on it and told her to shut up. Everything was finally packed so now all there was to do was to wait until the next morning when they’d be leaving. Rylan came downstairs Declan and the children. Zander and Caroline were sitting beside eachother on the couch talking. Rylan wondered why they wouldn’t just go out already. She’d ask Zander later. He’d get mad right now even if she asked within his mind.
The kids were happy to see Caroline. They ran and jumped on her. She hugged them and gave them both Eskimo kisses. “My how you’ve both grown.” She said happily.
“Did you bring us anything?” Dania asked.
“Well let me check my bag.” She got up and unzipped her suitcase. She pulled out to small boxes and handed them each one. They quickly opened them and pulled out the matching necklaces. They both had panthers with amber eyes. They slipped them on and showed their parents.
“Those are beautiful. What do we say?” Rylan loved how excited they were.
“Thank you Aunt Caroline.” They said in unison.
“You are very welcome. So a trip to you home. Should be exciting. Where are we going?”
“Wyoming. You’ll like it there.” Zander said with a smile.
“Of course I will. After all I plan on traveling more after your sister takes over. You could keep me company.”
Declan started to laugh and Zander shot him a dirty look. Rylan teased him some more and he blushed. She knew he had always wanted to travel and if he didn’t take Caroline up on her offer she would slap him in the back of the head. “I was about to make lunch, are you hungry?” Rylan asked.
Caroline laughed “always starving” Zander blushed again. Rylan walked into the kitchen with Declan close behind. The children stayed in the living room with Zander and Caroline. She started making parmesan broiled tilapia. As she stood in front of the stove Declan wrapped his arms around her resting his head on hers. “It’ll be hard to cook with you holding me. Just give me a minuet and I can put them in and you can hold me all you want.”
“Ok” he said as he let go. She finished prepareing it then put it in turning into her husbands arms. “I can’t believe you’re still so cuddly after all this time. I’d think you’d be getting bored by now.” She looked up at him winking then giving him a smile. He leaned down to kiss her lovingly. “I’ll never get bored of you.”
“Between being a mom and feeding a twenty-three year old who believes he’ll turn to dust if he doesn’t eat every hour I can’t say I’m much fun.”
“I seem to remember having fun with you on almost a nightly basis.”
“Declan.” She covered his mouth and blushed. She heard Zander laughing in her heard. She sent him an image of her strangling him. He laughed really loud from the other room. “Shut up you or you won’t get lunch.”
“Sorry, please don’t let me die.” He said dramatically.
“He’s lucky Caroline is here or I’d dumb a bucket of ice water on his head.”
“You could always embarrass him.” Declan said.
“I could couldn’t I.” She sent her brother thoughts threatening to embarrass him so hard that he would have to hide and change his name to get away from it.
“I’ll be good.” Zander stuck his head in the kitchen.
“You better.” He stuck his tongue out at her and she threw an oven mitt at him. He ducked and laughed. “Why don’t you go find that cat of yours.”
“Yes ma’am.” He saluted her and she heard him get Caroline then go outside.
She rested her head on Declan’s shoulder and savor end the feel of him. She could hear the kids playing upstairs, their giggling brought her such joy. She wanted at least one more. “Would you be up for more children?” She asked softly.
“I’m up for whatever you want. If you want three or a million, it’s fine with me. I just want you happy.” He kissed the top of her head.
“I’m always happy. You have done so much for me and Zander. We have a home thanks to you and a family and Zander gets to go to college and follow his dream all thanks to you. He may not say it, but he appreciates everything you’ve done. He’s grown into such a loving and honest young man because he looks up to you. He’s very much in love with Caroline, another thing you did for us. If we had not met you then he would have never known her.” She looked up, her eyes glowing bright with her love and adoration. “I love you so much and never forget it.”
“You are worth more than I could ever do for the two of you. I’m so happy. You already know I was depressed all the time before you. You brought happiness into my life and two amazing children. Coming home is a gift now instead of a torture. All I can think about when I’m gone is coming home to my family.” He kissed her slowly hoping she could feel his love. Zander wanted to tease her but didn’t want to be embaressed in front of Caroline.
Lunch was ready so they both set the table. Zander ran in “Oh thank goodness! I was almost a gonner!” The matron started laughing really hard. Declan had never heard her laugh like that. He really hoped the two of them would get together soon so they could be as happy as he was with Rylan. Dania said “You make the best food ever mommy.” Her brother nodded his head in agreement. “Thank you.” Zander said “Thanks for cooking. I’ll clean up when we’re done.”
“That would be great! Thanks Zander!”
After lunch Zander and the Matron cleaned up. Rylan and Declan put the kids down for their nap then went outside. Declan loved the sun, loved that he could walk freely with Rylan in it. The walked hand in hand through the woods, Sacha accompanying them. The big cat rubbed against their legs, almost knocking Rylan over. “Sacha, easy kitty.” Declan said and reached down to rubb her head. They found a clearing and sat under the sun holding each other. “What’s your home town like?” He asked.
“Very country. Cowboys, cattle, horses, and fun nights drinking and barbecuing with friends. I didn’t do any drinking.” She smiled at the good memories she had before the loss of her parents. “We had a ranch with sheep. Dad taught our border collie to herd. It was so much fun watching Augie work.”
“Maybe no one has moved into you old house. We could always buy it if it’s empty.”
“I would like that very much.” She smiled up at him. “You always know what to say.” He leaned down and kissed her. They relaxed in the quiet woods for an hour, letting the sun warm them.
“We should get back to the house. I bet the kids are up and driving your brother bonkers.”
“He would spend forever with those two, but you’re right.” They stood and walked back to the house. Sacha came with them and darted inside when they opened the door. Gregory and Dania were so excited to see her. The cat rolled onto her back and the kids scratched her stomach.
Sacha purred like a kitten. Zander said “Did you two enjoy yourselves?”
“Yes thank you for cleaning up.” Silently she added “I bet we didn’t enjoy ourselves as much as you enjoyed being with Caroline. You should tell her how you feel and not be a baby.” He blushed again “Stop that Rylan, I know she enjoys my company but she probably doesn’t see me that way and I can’t see into her head to tell. She keeps me out well.” She sighed. They couldn’t stand silent forever or it would seem weird so she’d have to continue that later. Zander spoke up “What would you guys like to do?”
Dania and Gregory spoke at the same time “Hide and seek!” Declan said “ok” he covered his face. It warmed her heart how he was always willing to play with them. Even if it was hide and seek nearly every time. The matron grabbed Zanders hand making him turn almost compleatly red “aren’t we going to hide too?”
“Yeah, come on!” Rylan ran to hide too.
“Here I come.” Declan yelled. He heard giggling, but wasn’t sure from which direction. He moved silently through the house. “Come out, come out wherever you are.” He heard laughing coming from the kitchen. It was little voices. “I wonder where Gregory and Dania are?” He heard more laughter. He pulled open a cabinet. “Nope, not in here. I guess I’ll just move one.” He hid behind the island and watched as his children and Sacha came out of the pantry and ran into the living room. He’d let them keep hiding. He walked right past their new hiding spot like he didn’t see the big cat’s tail twitching from behind the curtains. He followed Rylan’s scent up the stairs. He opened a closet door and was surprised when he didn’t see her standing there with a big grin on her face.
Rylan looked down at him from the ceiling. She was hovering above his head and he didn’t even see her. He looked perplexed then closed the closet door. She waited until he moved off then opened the door and crawled out. She felt a hand wrap around her ankle as she climbed the wall to the ceiling. She looked down and he was grinning up at her. “Gotcha.” He said and pulled her down into his arms. “I found Rylan.” He yelled.
“Now you have to find the others.” She kissed him and he moved off. She went back downstairs and the kids peeked out from behind the curtains. “Stay quiet.” She whispered.
“Daddy walked right past us.” Dania whispered back.
“We’re the best hiders ever.” Gregory whispered.
They were trying not to giggle but couldn’t help it. Declan looked for Zanders scent. He was going to find his children last. He found his and the matrons in the spare bedroom. He dropped to the floor and saw Zander under the bed. Zander laughed “Found Zander!” Zander got up and ran down the stairs to sit with Rylan. Declan thought he could feel Caroline in the room but she was skilled and could be misleading him. He looked on the cieling and didn’t see her.
He quickly opened the closet and not there either. He then quietly approached the huge chest where they kept blankets. he opened it and there she was “Found Caroline! I’m coming for you now Gregory and Dania!” Caroline could hear the children laughing as she came down the stairs. She had so much fun being with everybody,especially Zander. Sometimes she wished he was a vampire too but couldn’t steal his life from him. Rylan was happy in her new life but she wasn’t sure if Zander would be so she just couldn’t ask. It’s why she worked so hard to keep him out of her head.
“Now where could my babies be?” Declan came back downstairs. He looked in closets and under furniture. He scratched his head and turned in a circle. He could here their muffled laughter and moved slowly over to the curtains. He threw them open and Sacha jumped on him, knocking him flat on his back. The children jumped up and down, clapping their hands.
“We won, we won.” They kept saying. Declan pushed Sacha off of him and scratched the cat under her chin.
“Yes you did. I had the hardest time finding you guys.” He lifted them off the floor and hugged them tight. “Looks like mommy’s it.” They all played until dinner time. Caroline helped Rylan make dinner. It was a nice shepherds pie with salad. Zander had three helpings and grinned sheepishly at everyone when he noticed them staring at him.
“Uncle Zander must be hungry.” Dania said with a giggle.
“He’s always hungry.” Gregory said, repeating what he had heard his parents say many times.
“Hey it’s not my fault. I was born with a rare disease called musteatalotus. If I don’t eat I will turn to skin and bone.” Zander said with mock seriousness.
“At least you’ll look cool come Halloween.” Rylan said and everyone laughed. He blushed and took another bite of food.
When everyone was done eating Rylan & Caroline started to clean up while Declan and Zander started getting the kids ready for bed. When the boys and children were upstairs Caroline said “You and Declan seem so happy.”
“We are. We have such a wonderful life. I don’t think it would be possible for me to be happier.”
“You seem to have fun with Zander. You two are always together it seems.”
“Yes, I really enjoy his company” Rylan wanted to continue and ask how she felt about Zander but she decided it wouldn’t be appropriate. She was nice and did hangout with them but she was the matron and deserved her respect. They started to listen to Zander read to the kids. Declan came downstairs. “They wanted Zander to read instead of me.”
“Are you jealous?”
“No, that just means more time with you.” He winked.
“Lets watch a movie. I’m thinking Marley and Me.” Rylan said.
“That movie always makes you cry.” Declan hated when she cried.
“I know, but it’s so good.”
“What do you think Matron?”
“Declan please call me Caroline. You must get used to it. I won’t always be your Matron.” She smiled. “I say Marley and Me. I’ve never seen it.”
Zander came back down and they announced what they were watching. He rolled his eyes, but agreed anyway. They popped in the movie and sat down. Declan sat in one of the chairs and Ry┼éan sat cradled in his lap. They let Zander and Caroline have the couch. By the end of the movie both women were bawling their eyes out. “I told you.” Declan kissed her cheek and wiped away the tears. He stood with her in his arms. “We have to get up early tomorrow so goodnight you two.” He carried Ryaln upstairs and into their room.
Zander sat staring at the movie credits. He glanced at Caroline then away. She was so beautiful and very intelligent. He loved spending the day with her. They talked about everything. Five years and he still had not got up the courage to tell her how he felt. “You can bunk with me if you want.” He said.
“If it won’t be too weird with everyone here.” She said with a smile.
She followed him to his room. They crawled in bed together. Zanders heart was racing but she just looked so comfortable. Caroline fell asleep fairly quickly leaving Zander staring at the ceiling. When he noticed she was out he rolled on his side to admire how beautiful she was. He wanted to enjoy the time he could look at her without worrying about making her uncomfortable.
Declan and Rylan layed laced together. “I wish you’d stop watching that movie. It kills me to see you cry.”
“But you know I’m fine”
“It doesn’t matter. It still hurts me when you cry.”
“I’ll quit watching it when you’re home then”
“The kids just tell me about it.” She laughed “Yeah, they seem to want to tell you about every moment of every day when you come back after being gone.”
“I love it. You and the children always seem so happy to see me.”
“Why shouldn’t we be? Everything’s better when you’re home.” He held her tighter “Is there anything I can do to make you happier? You know I’d do anything in the world for you.”
“It really isn’t possible for me to be happier Declan. Go to sleep or we’ll be tired tomorrow.”
Caroline woke before the sun was up. She had the worst feeling. She looked down at Zander. It was coming from him. Some times she knew things whether they be good or bad. Something bad was going to happen and he would be part of it. She lay back down and just watched him. She loved him so much and refused to let anything happen to him. His alarm went off and he jerked awake. He switched it off and turned to face her, smiling when he saw her looking at him. “Hey you. How long have you been awake?” He asked.
“A couple of hours. I couldn’t go back to sleep.” She smiled back.
“So you watched a very handsome young man sleep. Nice, I’ll sleep more often.”┬áZander brushed his fingers over her cheek. She was always so soft. He loved her eyes, could get lost in them for hours. “Can I kiss you?” He asked.
“Yes.” Her voice sounded shaky. He tangled his fingers in her hair and pulled her closer. His lips moved over hers feather light. He pulled back, leaving them both gasping and wanting more.
“We better get up before Rylan starts banging on my door.”
Declan and Rylan showered quickly, dried and dressed. They woke the children and got them dressed. They yawned so Rylan decided to let them go back to sleep. Zander came out of his room with Caroline and blushed. He helped Declan put the bags in the van while Rylan and Caroline threw together some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a quick breakfast. They handed the boys theirs when they came back in and they all ate. Declan and Zander got the kids and managed to get them to eat before getting them strapped into the van. Rylan made sure all the lights were off and locked the door behind them. The kids were back asleep and everyone just smiled happily at how cute they looked.
Zander and Caroline sat on the very back row of the van. Since she had allowed him to kiss her he decided to be brave and try to hold her hand. It may crush his heart but the most she could do is pull away. He slowly and gently put his hand on hers. He saw her smile then she grabbed his hand pushing her fingers through his. Zanders heart fluttered. He sat there hopeful that he could have something with her. He decided he’d quit being such a baby and really talk to her about it the next time they could be alone.
When they were pulling into the airport Zander let go of Carolines hand. He couldn’t believe it when he noticed she actually looked a bit sad. When they got out he grabbed her hand again. “If you didn’t want me to let go you could’ve said something rather than look so disappointed.” he smiled at her and she blushed. Rylan smiled as she picked up her daughter. Declan grabbed Gregory and they walk to their plane.
Dania and Gregory sat quietly next to their parents. Declan loved how well behaved they were. He thought it might have something to do with the in flight movie being Ice Age, but believed they would probably be good anyway. They both held their stuffed panthers with their new collars. He smiled when he thought about having more kids. He knew his children would love any sibling they had. Rylan rested her head on his shoulder. She had never been much of a morning person. He kissed the top of her head and laced his fingers with hers. They would only have to switch planes once and then they’d be in Wyoming.
“I definitely want more babies.” He said softly and she jerked her head up to look at him.
“I love you so much.” She said and kissed him.
“I love you too.”
“Mom, dad gross.” Gregory said. They laughed and watched the movie with him and Dania.
Zander noticed Caroline gripped his hand and the arm rest really hard when the plane hit a bit of turbulence. “If you don’t calm down you’re going to break my fingers and rip the arm rest off and scare a bunch of people.” He whispered in her ear. She relaxed her grip and looked at him.
“Sorry, I’ve never been on a plane.” She whispered back.
“You fly everywhere, how is this different?”
“I can control where I’m going when I fly. I have to count on a complete stranger to keep me up in the air now.”
He chuckled and rubbed his nose against hers. “Don’t worry, I’m right here.”
She smiled wanting to kiss him again. Zander tried in vain to read her thoughts. It was impressive to him how she was always able to keep him out. She still looked so frightened. He put and arm around her gently pulling her into him. She layed her head on him as he held her. Being close to Caroline made the time zoom by. Caroline had fallen asleep because she had relaxed so much against him. It made Zander happy. “Caroline” he said softly. She woke up quickly
“Don’t be you’re welcome to sleep on me again any time you’d like.” Gregory turned around “Are you two going to get married like mommy and daddy?” Rylan shushed him “Don’t ask them stuff like that” The matron laughed as Zander turned red. They switched planes and once again Zander held Caroline. Rylan said to Zander in his head “Look at you being all brave with her. Are you going to ask to be with her?”
“When you want the alone time let me know.”
They landed in Wyoming a half an hour later. The kids were bouncing up and down, ready to be off the plane. They rented a car and drove tow hours to reach the town where Rylan and Zander had gone to school. They rented two rooms and Declan handed Zander his key. They got everything unloaded and upstairs. The kids wanted to go out. It was only noon. “We can all go to the park.” Rylan said. Zander smiled. It had been forever since they had seen it and he wondered if it had changed. They all piled into the car and Rylan drove them to the park. It was still the same, with the same swings and slides.
Some men watched them play from a van. They had hoped she would come back. They had received a tip from one of the brother of the scientist they had killed that Rylan and her brother were coming home. They were particularly interested in the two small children. They would need them as leverage to get Zander.
Declan and Rylan pushed Gregory and Dania on the swings. Zander walked with Caroline, telling her about when he and his sister were kids. They had a lot of good memories in that park. He pulled her behind the large center pole that held all the slides together and kissed her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he pressed her against the cool metal pole. “I need to talk to you.” His voice sounded husky, needy.
“I’m listening.” She cleared her throat.
“I love you. I want to be with you. You’re so beautiful and intelligent and beautiful.”
“You said beautiful twice.”
“Because I can’t put into words how beautiful you really are.”
She smiled up at him. “I love you too and I would love to be your girlfriend.”
“I’m talking marriage, not just dating.”
Rylan and Declan grinned at each other. He’d finally told her. They were happy for them. Zander was such a loving guy. “I hope she says yes, he deserves to be happy and so does she.” Rylan said.
“Me too. They’ve been giving hints on and off since the twins were born. Talk about some awkward silences.” Declan replied with a smile. Rylan lifted Dania off the swing when she said she wanted to do something else. Declan grabbed Gregory and let him run around with his sister while he and Rylan sat under a tree. He had the strangest feeling, like they were being watched. He glanced around, but didn’t see anything but a plumbing van. He shook his head and decided it was because they were in a new and unfamiliar place.
“Zander, you can’t be with me forever. You’re human.”
“Declan made Rylan into one. Please make me a vampire too so I can always be with you.”
“But Zander” He interrupted her “No buts, please. I mean would you like to be with me forever?”
“Yes, it would be amazing.”
“Then will you please?” she nodded and he hugged her “Not now though. Tonight I will.”
“Ok” he said happily then added “All that made me hungry! We should go eat at Steak & Shake. Rylan and I went there all the time.” Declan and Caroline nodded there approval and they all started walking. The men in the van waited until they were well on their way before following. They had to be sure not to be noticed by Declan again. When they got to the restaurant they all sat down. Zander seemed to get annoyed. Ryaln was worried and asked in his head “What’s wrong?”
“The bus boy over there had some pretty on gentlemen like thoughts about you and Caroline. I’ve blocked his mind out now but I’m still annoyed.” She thought it was sweet. He never liked men seeing her as an object but he was never quite this upset. She knew it was because of Caroline and couldn’t help but let a huge grin cover her face. Declan didn’t ask. He figured she was just happy to be there.
The waitress came over and smiled at them. “What would we like today?” She asked.
“Four bacon double cheese burgers with cola and two kids burgers with apple juice please.” Rylan ordered for everyone since she knew what Zander liked and everyone else had never been there. The waitress smiled and walked away. “I missed this place. Still has the same heinous aqua walls.”
“How many times did we tell Phil he needed to repaint?” Zander asked.
“Probably about million times. Stubborn old man thought this color was the second coming.” They both laughed. “He always had the best food though.”
The waitress came back with their order and everyone ate. Dania and Gregory finished first and spotted the play area outside. They begged to play. “Alright, just be careful and stay together.” Declan said and they jumped up and ran put the door to the little jungle gym. “They have more energy than all of us combined.”
“You must be so exhausted by the end of the day.” Caroline said.
“Sometimes, but it’s worth it.” Rylan smiled and took a sip of soda. “We’re thinking of having more.”
Zander looked so happy. “Hell yeah. More nieces and nephews for the greatest uncle in the world.”
The men in the van saw the children come outside. This was their chance. They made sure Declan, Zander, Caroline and Rylan were all looking at eachother to approach the children. “hi there! It’s so nice to finally meet you two.” They looked at him confused “We don’t know you.”
“I know your mommy and daddy. We were best friends when they lived here and your mommy asked me to take you guys to the biggest park here that gives away free ice cream to good boys and girls.”
“Really! Lets go tell mom bye”
“No no kids we’ve got to go now before they run out of icecream for the day.”
“Ok” They walked to the van with the man. He was glad he was able to get them without a fuss. He strapped the little ones in and got in his car. Zander could always feel the twins and he suddenly couldn’t feel their minds atall. He jumped up quickly not saying anything. Rylan┬ácalled “Zander what’s wrong?” He ran to the playground and didn’t see them anywhere. Caroline, Declan and Rylan followed. Rylan gasped “where are they?” Declan called their names and no answer. Caroline somberly said “This must be it.”
Declan turned to her “what must be it?”
“I had a horrible feeling this morning. I thought it had something to do with Zander though but it must have been about the children.”
“Declan we have to find them. They can’t have gone far.” Rylan’s heart was beating so fast. “Who would have taken them, they’re just babies.”
“Calm down love, we’ll get them back I promise.” Declan said. His brain was screaming at him to find the children. “Zander you and Caroline go ask the people inside if they saw anything. We will take to the sky.” They nodded and he grabbed Rylan’s hand. They flew together, their eyes searching for any sign of their children. Rylan started to cry and he held her against his chest while he continued to look. He would kill whoever had taken them. They went back and Zander and Caroline were waiting for them. “Anything?”
“The only one who saw anything was the idiotic bus boy and I had to rip the information from his mind. Two men one bald and kind of big with a tattoo on his neck, looked like a dragonfly. They other guy was lanky, dark hair and green eyes.” Zander answered. He clenched his fists at his sides, shaking with his rage. He did not pity the men who had touched his niece and nephew. They would pay.
“I felt like we were being watched and I said nothing. This is my fault.” Declan said and Rylan wrapped him in a hug.
“Stop it, not it’s not.” She comforted him the way he had comforted her.
“There was a plumbers van at the park. That could be their vehicle.”
Dania and Gregory glared at the two men. “We want our mom and dad now.” Gregory screamed as the big man carried both of them into an old house. “Now, now, now.” He punched and kicked and screamed. The man sat them on a bed and closed and locked the door. Gregory beat on the door, screaming as loud as he could. Dania started crying and he stopped to hold his sister. “It’s okay sis, mom and dad and Zander and Caroline will come.”
“I’m so scared.” Dania said and held tight to her stuffed panther.
“It’s alright, it’ll be alright.”
A few painfully slow hours passed when Zanders phone began to ring. “Hello” Zander said angrily. “we haven’t hurt them don’t worry.”
“Where’s Dania & Gregory?”
“Only if you promise to trade.”
“You for them. The children will remain unharmed as long as you come with us willingly. You agree to this and then back out they will die. You don’t agree right now and they’ll die. What’s your answer?”
“Give me the damn adress.”
“Good choice Zander.” Rylan looked at him “Where are they?”
“It’s all about me again. You were always getting hurt protecting me and now. Now because of me they’ve taken my niece and nephew.”
“Zander it isn’t your fault there are terrible people. Right now you need to tell us where they are so we can get them back.”
“The man said if I gave myself willingly they’d let the children go. If I dont theyll kill Dania and Gregory” His voice broke as he said their names. Zander gave them the adress and they all ran. Declan was consumed with anger. First they take his children and make his wife cry and now they threaten to kill his babies. They arrived at the adress and went inside. Another call came into his phone “I see you’ve entered the building. Only you come up the stairs. We will send the children when we have you.”
“What if they kill you?” Caroline asked.
“It’s a small price to pay compared to the lives of two small children.” He could feel them upstairs. They were scared. He kissed Caroline one more time and walked up the stairs, his fists clenched at his sides. When he made it to the top of the stairs the skinnier of the two pointed a gun at him. He sent that information to Rylan.
“Hands up and don’t even think about using your powers or we’ll kill the kids.” He said.
“Where are they?” Zander asked. The man thrust his chin toward a door. Zander moved slowly toward the door and opened it. Gregory and Dania jumped up and he warned them to stay. They froze and waited. “Let them go, you have me.”
“I’m betting the man who payed us will double our money if we just bring all three of you. It seems these little brats have some powers of their own.”
Zander closed the door again. “Just let them go.” He told Rylan what room the kids were in and exactly where the two thugs were.
Declan climbed up the outside of the house and slid the window open he whispered to the kids and pulled them both out. He hid them next to the porch. He climbed back up and into the window. Rylan went up the other side of the house and peeked inside. The big bald headed guy was standing right in front of her. Caroline was ready on the bottom of the steps. Rylan sent Zander an image of where everyone was. Zander built energy around him, a large invisible ball. “Now.” He screamed. He thrust the energy out, knocking the men back. Rylan broke through the window and grabbed the larger man, pulling him out. Declan burst through the door and Caroline came up the steps. Declan jumped out the window to held his wife and Caroline punched the other man hard enough to knock him out. She looked out the window and saw that the other man was also unconscious. She ran over to Zander and hugged him.
“I’m so glad you’re okay.” She said. He was about to tell her he loved her when he noticed the man on the floor aiming his gun at her back. He spun around, shielding her as the gun went off and he felt a hot pain slice through his back. He just stared at her for a moment before coughing up blood and collapsing. He heard her scream then he heard the man scream. She was suddenly yelling for Declan and Rylan.
They came back up, each one of them holding tight to a child. Rylan sat down her daughter and ran over crying. “What happened!?”
“One of the men wasn’t really knocked out and he tried to shoot me. Zander moved in front of it and took it himself.” Zander spoke in almost a whisper “No time like the present to decide to be with me forever.” He smiled “He’s right Caroline he’s losing a lot of blood really fast.” Rylan said concerned. Caroline sighed and then bit into him like Declan had done to Rylan. It caused Zander to pass out. When he woke again he was in a hotel room with Caroline. She was holding him close. He was in so much pain.
Caroline stroked his face. “It’ll be ok. I’m sure Rylan told you how much it hurts to change. It’ll pass soon I promise.”
“Where’s everybody else?”
“At the pool, the children needed some fun” He couldn’t speak any longer through the pain. He hated being such a baby in front of her but he couldn’t help it. When the pain stopped he said “Thank you Caroline.”
“Why are you thanking me?”
“For choosing to be with me forever.” He smiled at Caroline and she kissed him. “You just sleep now ok?”
“As long as you stay here with me.”
“Of course.” She said happily.
Rylan was so worried about Zander that she could barely focus on the happy children playing in the water with their father. They would yell for her to watch as Declan took them under the water on his back one at a time. She forced herself to smile even though she felt like crying. She planned on hitting her brother with something the next time he was in front of her. She was a good throw, she just had to make sure the object wasn’t something edible like an apple.
“I can hear you.” His voice sounded of in her head, startling her. He sounded so weak.
All that mattered was he was still alive. She had been so afraid it had been too late, that she would watch her brother bleed to death despite Caroline’s efforts. She felt tears slipping down her cheeks. The sound of running feet came toward her and she was being hugged by both of her babies. “It’s okay mom.” Gregory said.
“Uncle Zander says not to worry.” Dania kissed her cheek. She wrapped her arms around them and held them close.
Declan got out of the pool and kissed her cheek. “Come on, lets go up and see your brother before we go to bed.” He said and lifted Gregory in his arms. She picked up Dania and they took the elevator up. They knocked and Caroline opened the door, smiling at them. They put the kids down who immediately ran to Zander and crawled on the bed.
“Hey you two. Look how much you’ve grown since yesterday. You’ll be grown before I know it.” Zander said and hugged his niece and nephew. He was so relieved they were alive. The kids kissed him on the forehead and got off the bed so Rylan could sit next to him.
“You ever try to leave me again and I’ll kick your scrawny little ass.” She said, trying not to cry.
“I love you too and I’m not scrawny, you feed me too much for me to be scrawny.” He smiled and she broke down. He hugged her close and let her cry into his chest. “I’m alright, I promise. I would never leave any of you.” She sat up and wiped her face then leaned in and kissed him on the forehead.
“We’ll let you get some sleep. Tomorrow we can all go out to the ranch and see if it’s still vacant. Declan said we can buy it if it is.”
“Sounds fun. I love you.”
“I love you too.” She hugged Caroline and whispered a thank you before leaving.
Caroline put a hand on his cheek. “You really better never do anything that stupid again Zander.”
“Well then you keep yourself out of harms way and i wont have to. Regardless i wanted this anyway. Now I can be with you, my sister, niece and nephew forever.” he kissed her pushing her down into the bed. Zander then layed down beside her holding her in his arms. He had wanted this so badly for so long. Caroline was so relieved she hadn’t lost him. In Declan and Rylans room they got the kids dried off and in bed. Rylans was so proud of them. They were acting like nothing happened atall. Declan realized she wasn’t going to lay down on her own. She just stood there staring at her children.
He came up behind her “They’ll be fine honey. Come to bed please.” He lifted her into his arms then got in bed holding her. Rylan clung to Declan. It had been such a long and tough day. Her children had been kidnapped and Zander almost died. Declan ran his fingers up and down her smooth back “I promise I wont let anything else happen. I’m so sorry I was careless and didn’t become alert when I felt someone watching us. I failed you guys today and it wont happen again.”
“It’s not your fault Declan. I love you.”
“I love you so much Rylan” Between all the tears of the day and the comforting touch of her husband she nodded off quickly.Declan just held her awhile after she was out. She had cried so much that day. His heart almost couldn’t take everything that happened. He was so glad Zander and his children were safe. He fell asleep looking over at Dania & Gregory.
The next morning Zander was feeling a lot better. He had a few cramped muscles, but other than that he was fine. He showered, washing all the dry blood off his skin. “Looks like you missed a spot.” He jumped at Caroline’s voice and very nearly slipped in the tub.
“You almost gave me a heart attack.” He flicked water at her face and she jerked back. “If you’re so keen on seeing me naked maybe you should get in here.”
“Are you sure?” Her voice sounded shaky so he pulled the curtain back to look at her. She was bright red and twisting her fingers nervously.
“Have you ever been naked with anyone?”
“Of course I have and it’s not that.”
“Then what is it?”
She swallowed and took a deep breath. “In the age I grew up in it wasn’t against the law to beat your wife and children if you thought they deserved it. My husband came home in a drunken rage, tied me to a post and beat me with a horse whip. I have scars. They’re not pretty.” She said.
“I’ll be the judge of that. Please join me.” He smiled and she pulled off her close and stepped in the tub. “Turn around.” She turned and he inhaled sharply. The beating must have been severe. The scars criss crossed over her back all the way to her tail bone. He pulled her back against him and kissed her shoulder. “They are far from ugly my love.”
Rylan and Declan showered while Gregory and Dania watched cartoons. Declan was proud of his children’s ability to bounce back from the trauma of being kidnapped. It was also very fascinating. They had not had a single nightmare since being back with their parents. They had left the bigger man alive to report back to his boss what happened when you tried to hurt a family like theirs. If it had not been for Rylan’s presence he would have ripped the bald man’s throat out then delivered the corpse himself. “What are you thinking about?” She asked as she grabbed his face and made him look at her.
“How lucky I am to have you and the kids, how terrified I was of losing our children, and how angry I am that I don’t know who sent those thugs after our family. Will it ever stop or are we cursed to be hunted and harassed for all eternity?” He answered.
“Sooner or later they will learn not to mess with us. Maybe at some point we will have to show them our true nature and give them nightmares for the rest of their lives. Perhaps Caroline would agree to putting together a hunting party and tracking these men and women down.”
“I feel soon that will be your decision. I can feel she is almost ready to step down. She need only make the final preparations. She chose you because you are unlike any other. You are loyal and honest. She has no children. She will show you everything you need to know and then ou get to decide what is best for the whole clan.”
“She must have a lot of faith in me. I was thinking of gifting the old ranch to her and Zander. They deserve their own home. I was also thinking maybe we could move over here and get our own land and raise horses or cattle or sheep.”
He nodded his head. A change of secret would be nice and they all loved this place. “We’ll talk more when we see the ranch.”
They got out and put their clothes on. Dania and Gregory were excited about seeing the ranch. They ran to Zanders and Carolines room. Zander answered with a huge grin on his face. “We’re coming little ones.” Soon Caroline was behind him so they came out. Rylan was so happy for her brother. She was also glad he wasn’t covered in blood any longer. Dania climbed on his back and Gregory grabbed his hand. Declan was surprised he was able to carry Dania only the morning after changing but Rylan handled it well so why shouldn’t Zander be able to.
They made their way down to the car and set off. Zander seemed to be the most excited. Dania said “I can’t believe we get to see where mommy and uncle Zander grew up!”
“I know!” exclaimed Gregory. Soon the arrived at their old address. Rylan got really excited too especially when she saw it was for sale. Zander took off running “Zander where are you going?!”
“Come on! I bet it’s still there!” She then realized he was going to the box they had placed in the barn before they went on the run because of the people after Zander. It was a little box of memories incase one of them died. That way they’d have somthing to go back to to remember. She ran after him not saying anything to Declan. She forgot what all they had put in it. Declan picked up the children and follow. Caroline following closely. Zander got in the barn and climbed up a ladder. “Be careful Zander!”
“You’re one to talk Rylan. It was you not me that broke your arm falling off this thing.”
“Is it there?” Just then Declan and Caroline were coming in. “Yes! Yes it’s here.” He grabbed it then came down the ladder. “What’s that?” The twins asked at the same moment. “Bad men like the ones who took you guys used to attack your uncle and I all the time. Before we went on the run we made this little box so that if one of us died the other could come back when they could and look at these things.”
“You were scared you’d die?”
“Oh yes, barely a day went by that we had any peace.”
“I couldn’t imagine going through that every day. What changed?” Dania asked “Your daddy” she smiled and so did Declan. Zander added “yeah I guess we don’t have to worry about that now huh Rylan?” He winked and it made her laugh as they opened the box. Zander pulled out a bunch of pictures and looked through until he found one of Rylan when she was 5 “Look at this. This is your mommy at your age.”
“Wow! What are the rest of the pictures?”
“Just more pictures of ourselves much younger.”
“We want to see them all!”
There was a picture of Zander back when their dad thought he looked cute with a mohawk. He had never liked it, but he couldn’t tell their mother that. There was one of twelve year old Rylan hanging upside down in a tree and reaching down to help Zander up. He was grasping her hands. She had pulled him up so he could sit with her after an argument she had had with their parents. It was taken from a distance and from the angle it was probably from the back porch. It made them both tear up. There was a small doll with black hair and big green eyes that had belonged to Rylan and the collar from their dog Augie that Zander insisted on keeping. They had written a letter to each other and exchanged them now.
“I knew you were the one who took my turtle.” Zander said with a smile. “How could you?”
“He deserved to be free.” She laughed and kept reading. “You’re the one who scared Paul off?”
“Who’s Paul?” Declan asked.
“Some kid I knew in school.”
“He was a two bit loser who wanted to get into your pants so I sicked Augie on him and he never came back.” Zander grinned wickedly.
The folded up the letter and placed them back in the box with the pictures, doll, and dog collar. Zander climbed back up and slid the box back into its hiding place. He slid down the old ladder like he used to when he was a kid, but with more grace. Rylan’s heart still stuttered though. “We wanted to tell you two that the ranch is for you.” Rylan said to Zander and Caroline. “We are also planning on moving over here.”
“Really?” Zander was overjoyed.
“We were talking about it this morning and when we get home we’ll begin preparations. I love this place, the kids love this place and I think it’ll be a nice change of pace.” Declan said as he hugged Rylan from behind.”
“Do you want to stay here Caroline, on this farm with me?” Zander asked.
“Of course I do.” She said happily. “I love the country. We can do so much with this place. We could get married here,raise a family, have animals.”
“What ever you want.”
They went into the house. They were a little disappointed to see it was empty. They went through each room laughing about memories. Declan enjoyed seeing his wife so happy. He finally felt better after everything that had happened. He was glad this place was empty. The kids started running around outside with Caroline while Zander and Declan kept reminiscing in the house. Declan walked out to make some calls about buying it. When Declan came back inside he said “well it’s yours Zander.”
“Wow already” He hugged Declan then Rylan got up and did the same. Zander layed down on the floor. “Now I just have to try not to die from hunger. My eye sight is starting to go and I can barely breath”
“Zander!” He let out a light laugh then started coughing. “Ok you idiot” They all got in the car and went out to eat. “So are we going to mom and dads grave Rylan?”
“Yes I still want to.”
“Please don’t cry again. You always cried when we used to go. Just remember they want us to be happy and we finally are.”
“I’ll try but I can’t make promises.”
They bought a bouquet of purple lilies and babies breath. Rylan placed it between their headstone and started crying. Zander put his arm around her shoulder and kissed her cheek. “No tears, they’d want you to smile. Be happy.” He said softly.
“I am happy Zander, so happy. I’m not really sad anymore.” She smiled at him, her arm around his waist as they looked down at the graves. She closed her eyes and remembered the day of the funeral. They had stood just like this, holding each other as they mourned the passing of two of the greates people in their lives. They had made a promise to live every day to the fullest. She had almost broken that promise while Zander had lived in the moment from then on. She never said it, but he was her biggest hero. He pushed her on, always making her smile and laugh even when they were running. His lopsided smile and ability to push the right buttons made it all worth while. She opened her eyes and they turned back to the people that mattered the most. Rylan hugged Declan and the children while Zander pulled Caroline into his arms. They left the cemetary together, keeping their promise to always live each day like it was their last. She clasped hands with her brother as they walked to the car. They smiled at each other, knowing now they could continue to move forward and no matter what they would always be together.