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Lievon & Amara

Chapter One

Lievon stood outside the all to familiar castle, his heart hammering in his chest, a knot forming in his throat. He couldn’t even remember how long it had been since he had been here last, but he remembered the day he had been cast out. His betrayal of his friend still twisted in his heart and he knew he had no right to be here, but he needed Chthon’s help. He forced himself to walk up to the front door and bang on it. He wasn’t expecting the beautiful young woman who answered, but he could see both Ruth and Chthon in her. read more

Aurelia & Rees

Chapter One

She hobbled as she ran but she went as fast as she could away from her attackers. As far as she knew she had killed them but she couldn’t be sure enough not to run. Two human men had tried to rape her, probably thinking she was a human woman since only her ears would give away she was an elf. It had still been difficult to get away, they had been so crazed and hungry to take her. She wondered while she ran if they had been on some type of drugs. Thunder crashed and rain poured, making it hard to know where she was going but she kept on until she saw a castle. She ran to the door, desperate for help.

Aurelia pounded and begged for help despite knowing the loud storm outside probably hid her wails. She choked on blood that was begging to pool in her mouth, her vision growing faint just as the door opened. She couldn’t make the being out at all but she could have sworn she heard the girl exclaim “mom!?” Rees Practically knocked over the table as he got up to rush to the door. His dates heart stuttered, it couldn’t be, his mate was dead, had been dead for a few hundred years. Brynmor has come running too, having heard his sister Pretoria yell.

He had already picked Aurelia off the ground when his father arrived at the door “It’s…” he looked like he might cry “It’s obviously not actually mom dad but we need to help her. She’s hurt really bad” Brynmor took her to the nearest bed while Pretoria grabbed a few things. Rees and even his date began helping her and a few hours later they knew she was going to make it through her injuries. It was then the woman that had been with Rees pulled him out the room and said “That’s your wifes reincarnation. She looks just like her and I may have just been her friend but even I can feel that that IS Amelia” Emotion played through his eyes “I know, I knew from the second I saw her in my sons arms”

She crossed her arms, not knowing what to do with them “It’s okay Rees, thats your soulmate in there…even before she showed up tonight I knew we were not that serious. I mean we’ve been dating a few years and I stay a night at most with you three. I mean, you were sweet and I when we began dating by taking down the family pictures with her in it and putting them in the basement but I know about that one in your nightstand. I’ve caught you staring at it with tears running down your face many times. She’s your soulmate, not me and I’m going to bow out gracefully okay. You two were so happy together, you had the kind of happiness you can only have with a soulmate and maybe this frees me back up to find mine.”

Rees hugged her “I’m sorry”

“It’s okay, I hurt right now but I’ll be fine. Even if we had been anything near serious I would have bowed out tonight. I always wanted what you two had. You need to focus on her, you need to help her remember you or atleast get her to fall in love again. She’s an elf this time, she wont have that intuition that tells some beings your soulmates but her soul has already found you once. It’ll know, even if its deep down, some part of her will know you guys” As she left Rees cried but not over the ex that was leaving It was over how emotionally charged he was and grateful to the universe it saw fit to give Amelia back to him.

Aurelia woke slowly, her body thrumming with pain as she blinked her eyes open. She could feel she was laying in a bed in a dimly lit room, that she was covered and warm. It took a moment for her ears to focus, but when they did, she picked up the sound of soft, rhythmic breathing. She wasn’t alone. She turned her head, groaning as she did and it woke the person sitting in the chair next to the bed. “You’re awake.” He said as he moved to sit next to her, his hand taking hers gently. She watched a myriad of emotions play across his face; sadness and joy, but mostly relief.

“Where am I?” She asked softly.

“In my home.” He let his fingers brush over her forehead, pushing some strands of her hair back. She felt herself warm at his tenderness and wondered if it was because he seemed to be the exact opposite of her attackers.

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

“My daughter did.”

“Thank goodness, I was so scared.”

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

She felt safe here, especially now that she was holding his hand in return. It was odd to her since she didn’t really know these beings but she felt in her heart she truly was safe as long as she was here in this castle. Rees’s heart was racing and it made him grateful she had come back as an elf. If she could sense how she effected him it would probably be scary, especially after being attacked since she had no idea she was a reincarnation. It was near impossible to resist the urge to lean down and kiss her but he fought it, telling himself he had one chance to do this right. If he scared her and she ran out of his castle he may never find her again. Elves were smart and incredibly resourceful. If she decided she wanted to hide from him she just might be successful at that. She was smart in her past life too and he wondered if that had effected what the gods chose for her to be in this life.

When she let him go he forced himself to pull his hand away, she probably needed to eat anyway. “I can make you a salad if you’re hungry. You were in rough shape and will still need to rest a day or two more. I think it would be smart to take it easy on your stomach”

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

When Pretoria entered the room Aurelia was sitting up causing Pretoria to gasp “you should be laying down, your injuries” she seemed embarrassed “I just wanted less work for you when you came in here…I…well I have to pee and I wanted to ask you instead of one of the men here. I could barely force myself to run when I got here. I’m not sure how well I’m going to be able to walk”

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

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

“alright then, I’ll be right outside the door” She couldn’t believe what good vampires she had stumbled upon. This woman had looked near panicked for a total stranger when she went in the room and her deep worry right now was obvious on her face. Aurelia went into the bathroom and shut the door. She realized it was a good choice to ask for help because she felt even more pain now than when she was laying down. It was hard not to make any sounds indicating how much she hurt but she managed, not wanting the female vampire to burst in here to help her. When she came out Pretoria looked just about as relieved as the male vampire had when she woke up.

Once back in bed she decided to ask your names “what’s your name?”

“Pretoria”

“Thats so beautiful”

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

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

“My head” Pretorias mind was going a million miles a second with panic but she hoped maybe her soul was trying to tell her something, to remind her of who she once was. She had picked the name for her brother too. He was named after one of her mothers Uncles. He had raised her and died a few years before Brynmor was born so she had wanted to honor her Uncle by naming her son after him.

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

“Good, I think.”

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

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

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

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

“I know.” Rees wanted desperately for her to remember, but he knew he couldn’t push her to hard to fast or she might run. They put everything is a big bowl then he made one for Aurelia while Brynmor covered the bowl and put it away.

Chapter Two

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

“we were just talking, I think shes okay”

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

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

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

“Aurelia”

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

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

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

“No, this room actually hasn’t been used in an incredibly long time. The kids mother…well…she was very close to her an Uncle of hers. She even named our son after him which was fine with me. I didn’t care what we called our children and the names she picked meant a lot to her. He would come to see us so much we gave him his own room, which is this one. We didn’t put anybody else in it after he died, you’re the first”

She was curious about the kids mother. The way he said was had so much pain in it so she knew she had passed, not left. She wouldn’t hurt him by asking, it would be selfish. “what made her so close to him? What was he like?”

“He raised her. Amelia’s father didn’t treat her very well. When Brynmor realized she was being abused he took her in and told her father if he so much as looked at you ever” He noticed her weird expression and he realized he had said you “sorry, I meant her obviously. I’m tired”

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

“it’s alright”

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

“are you sure?”

“yes…anyway…he told Amelias father he’d kill him if he looked at her again. He let her mother see her from time to time but when she finally left Amelias father she quit coming to see Amelia too. She was only seven when her mother completely left her life so Amelia didn’t remember much”

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

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

“different creatures have their own struggles.” Pretoria and Brymor entered the room and Rees stood, leaving as he said he would. Brynmor sat on the bed and Pretoria took the chair. “so, where are you from”

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

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

“well, you might think I’m crazy but one morning, a few years ago I woke up before my parents and saw a couple standing beside me. I jumped up and was about to yell but the woman shushed me. I don’t know, she looked so kind I just stood up, deciding not to wake my parents. She touched my heart, well, my chest above where it is and said “you need to listen to your heart sweetheart. You should go, see where it leads you. It’s been trying to take you somwhere a very long time but your parents always get you offtrack. Leave your parents and follow your heart. You’ll be so happy you did”

She sighed “I don’t know, my heart raced and all of me was ready to go. I know it’s nuts, they were two complete strangers but I felt like I had been ignoring my heart as soon as she said that to me. I made my parents breakfast then while they ate I told them I needed to have my own adventure for awhile. They weren’t for it at first, especially my dad. He was so worried about me traveling alone but they eventually saw I needed to do this…you know, because two strangers told me to” she sighed “and look where it got me, hurt and bothering you kind people. I was probably being dumb but I’ve had a great adventure coming here.”

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

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

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

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

“I’d really like that, thank you.”

They continued to talk to her for awhile longer, doing their best not to give away who she was. They told her a couple more stories from their childhood then decided she needed to rest. She had been through a lot and they didn’t want to exhaust her. They both jumped a little when Rees opened his door and he called them over. “How is she?” He asked.

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

“I know, but I wanted to talk to both of you first. Brynmor, tomorrow you and I are going out to try and find the men who did that to her. I want to make sure they can’t attack anyone else.” He then looked to Pretoria. “I want you to spend time with your mother,” he sighed, “with Aurelia I mean.” They both nodded. “You two get some rest, okay?”

“You too dad.” Brynmor said.

Rees was eager to get out and start hunting the men that hurt Aurelia so he barely waited for the sun to come up before waking his son. Brynmor didn’t have to be urged awake long before he was up and ready to go out with his father. Rees was an incredibly old vampire but he had long since went through grueling trial and error to make his body able to roam around in sunlight. Amelia had been able to do it and loved being out during the day so they hadn’t been together long before he wanted to be able to do the same thing. He wasn’t sure what happened but evolution seemed to still be taking place since the younger vampires were almost all born able to be in the sun.

“I think it’s important after what you did to the group that killed mom in her past life to ask what we intend to do with them? I mean I want to scare these guys but…you may have taken things a little too far in the past dad”

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

Brynmor made a face and his father sighed “don’t you think for a second I’m also not still around because of you two. Now that she’s back I know it wont alarm you to say this but you and Pretoria are the only reasons I raged instead of killing myself. I need you three, I mean it” Brynmor decided to tell his father what Aurelia had told them about her journey here then added “I think she’ll stay too. Her soul remembers enough it guided her back to us”

It was the smell of blood that brought them to where one of the men lay dead. This is where it had happened. They could smell Aurelia’s scent all over and around him. “She killed him.” Brynmor said.

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

“What should we do with this one?”

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

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

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

“Hmm?” Aurelia jerked away, disoriented and confused for a moment until she remembered where she was. She let her eyes move to Pretoria and for a moment, seeing the young woman’s smiling face, had her heart aching.

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

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

“I’m happy to help”

“I’m feeling better this morning”

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

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

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

“a friend of mine allows me to feed on him from time to time but I had animal this morning. Just to put it out there since some of our kind makes it so it has to be said but my father, brother and I don’t feed on anybody unwillingly”

“I wasn’t worried…I’m so thankful for you three. I would have died if not for you. Jeez if you wanted blood it would be the least I could do” Pretoria smiled “we truly expect nothing in return but getting to know you. You seem so interesting. Once you’re better are you going to stay a bit”

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

“He wants to get to know you too”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I didn’t pay with anything but my time. This particular tattoo artist needed help with his children. You see as I was wandering I ended up staying in this town awhile just because I thought it was beautiful. I became friends with him and learned, like your father, he was raising kids on his own. He wanted to go study under an artist a few towns away but he couldn’t take his children. He asked me to watch over them and that he’d pay me whatever I wanted when he returned. He also had more than enough money in his basement for me to take care of them so it truly only took my time. They were sweet girls. When he returned I asked he put that skill to work and give me flowers up my sides. I hung around a few more weeks then went on my way”

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

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

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

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

“aw”

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

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

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

“No, no its fine. It’s just still hard to talk about it. You’d think time would make it easier but…” There was a long, sorrow filled pause from Pretoria before she began her story “We were all always together besides my moms walks. She had been taking long walks alone since she was little. She needed that peaceful time to herself. I mean we would all go sometimes but every now and then she still wanted to go alone. It would always be a few hours but that day she had left right after breakfast and we still hadn’t seen her after lunch. Dad got worried, he told us to stay incase she came back but he was going to look for her for awhile.”

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

“I’m so sorry, you don’t have to tell me” Pretoria clung to Aurelia, happy that they had atleast saved her in this life. She was back and she knew her dad would probably never let her out of at least one of their sights ever again if he could help it. “Theres this particularly nasty group of vampire hunters that aren’t just happy with killing vampires. They often humiliate and torture them. We don’t know what she went through but by the time we had went looking for her she was cut up. They had hung her body parts from different trees”

“Oh jesus…where was your father”

“He was on a murder spree. My dad, as most of the original vampires, have states similar to demons where they lose their mind to rage. Every man that had touched my mother died and sadly, so did their families. It was all Brynmor and I could do to get him back to normal…he did a lot of things I know he regrets” Pretoria could see a bit of concern on Aurelias face “don’t worry, only the men that hurt you will answer to my father today, You’re alive and I think it was pure grief and sorrow that drove him into that state…he did and still does love my mother immensely. They were together thousands of years and they were a pretty sweet couple. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two beings near that happy with eachother”

Chapter Three

The man panicked the moment he looked over his shoulder and spotted Rees and Brynmor. Both of them could see and smell it and Rees directed Brynmor forward. His son put on a burst of speed that had him suddenly standing in front of the man and as he skidded to a halt, Rees grabbed him from behind and slammed him to the ground. “Please.” He screamed. “Please, please, I’m sorry.” He was covering his head and crying his entire body shaking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“what if something happens again”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“dad” Brynmor said and Rees sighed “My son will go with you and I’ll wait here” He could tell the human wanted to ask why but held his tongue. It suited Rees, telling him honestly why might scare him into not cooperating and he didn’t want something else losing its senses and trying to hurt Aurelia or anybody else again. Brynmore wasn’t sure why his dad didn’t want to go into the humans village. Surely nobody was alive anymore who would remember him.

Rees decided to lay down and think up as many possibilities as he could. He wanted to go home, he wanted to be near Aurelia again. He was so lost in his head it seemed like no time atall had passed when Brynmor returned with the human male. Rees stood, staring the man down until the human moved to show them where to go. He took them to the last point he remembered “this is it. I hope I’m remembering right…I cant imagine what would make us dumb enough to mess with a vampire woman”

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

“don’t be so scared. I’m sure she’ll even feel sad for your friend once she learns you two weren’t in control. A lot of mistakes were made…we’re just glad she found her way home” The man glanced over at Rees who wasn’t paying attention to them. He was absorbed in the environment as he careful studied his surroundings.

Rees could see where the two men had passed through and he squatted down, picking up the crushed cap of a mushroom. He sighed as he stood and held it out. “Do you know what this is?” He asked the man.

“No, I’ve never seen it before.”

“Brynmor. ”

“It’s an otrova mushroom.”

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

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

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

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

When they were out of earshot the man asked “how can your father be sure he wont go mad with them”

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

Rees had to burn them, all while being careful with the rest of the forest. He couldn’t risk anyone else happening upon them, not even one. He wanted to take the time to scour the rest of the forest, but he knew that would take ages and he wanted to get back to Aurelia and explain what had happened. He would have Brynmor accompany him of regular trips to scour the woods once everything was settled. He found his anger dissipating as he watched the fire burn out and when he finally caught up with his son and the man, he was calmer than he had been. They had just finished burying Eli and Brynmor was doing his best to comfort him.

“So what now?” He wiped at his face.

“First, can I have your name?”

“Oh, it’s Oliver, sorry.”

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

“What do I do?”

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m just glad you’re okay”

“I know you don’t feel I have anything to make up for but I feel bad about your friend. I owe you, anytime you need something, please come back to us so I can repent for his death. I mean it, I really want to”

Chapter Four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.”

He wanted to tell her anything she wanted was his command but he knew how weird that would sound. “don’t scare her” he thought to himself. “it’s the right thing to do” He held her hand a few more moments before getting up “let me show him to a room” Rees knew he needed to speak to Oliver about their situation with her. Not only to let him know he had helped guide his mate back to him but so he didn’t say something he shouldnt since Brynmor had repeatedly refereed to Aurelia as his mother.

Rees walked the man to a room in another hall then said “this is where you can stay but we need to talk about something important if you’re going to be interacting with her”

“yeah?”

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

“Oh…that must be hard”

“Immensely”

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

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

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

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

“Thank you” Rees left the man without another word, pondering what he had said. HIs Amelia…his Aurelia had never been a coward a moment in her life. Maybe he was over worrying but with something as important as having her in his life again he wasn’t sure that was possible. He wanted her back, in any way he could have her and he knew the kids felt the same. If he handled this wrong, if he made the wrong choices he’d be breaking their hearts all over again as well. He had more than just his own heart to consider in all this.

When he came back to the room Aurelia was happily talking with her two kids “Hey Rees” his heart stuttered at the sound of his name coming from her. “He’s settled…what did you and my daughter do today?”

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

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

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

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

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

“when do you want me to start?”

“Your first memories if you so wish”

“alright…” she paused for a time, obviously thinking “my very first memory is one with my dad. We were just running and laughing, I think maybe we were playing tag. Most of my early memories are of my dad. He was always playing around with me. My moms wonderful too but I’m extra close with him.” She had been treated well in this life and loved by her parents, he was glad to hear it. She had deserved much better from her birth parents in her past life. “so it wasn’t hard growing up as a nomad?”

“I loved every second of it”

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

“whats your first memory of your mom?”

“We found this bow and arrow in a shop that was made for little kids. She bought it right there and took me to a practicing arena for it. It was fun” he nearly chuckled “they sound fun”

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

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

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

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

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

“Truly?”

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

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

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

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

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

“alright” She couldn’t believe how sweet this vampire and his children were. They were constantly tugging at her heart. Rees helped her out of bed which was cute even though not needed. They walked to his kitchen where she saw they had leftovers from the salad she had been made “a salad is just fine with me again”

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

“alright, but really let me help” Rees pulled out the last of the rabbit they had and decided to make Aurelias favorite soup in her past life. If what some people said were true and you really could make an old soul remember a past life then he wanted to try everything he could to help her soul tell her new mind what it remembered. He began, having her do the easiest steps possible. This would take awhile to cook but he wasn’t interested in resting anyway. He had lived without his wife so long, he needed to be with her as much as he could.

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

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

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

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

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

“thats sweet”

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

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

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

They continued talking, him getting to know more about her life, about her family and about her journey to him. He told her stories about his life, about their life, hoping maybe one of his fondest memories would help spark hers. Aurelia loved the smell of the soup as it boiled and when Rees finally made her a bowl and she took her first bite, she paused at the taste. She felt herself tear up and jumped when Rees touched her shoulder, a look of concern on his face. “Sorry.” She said.

“Are you alright?”

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

“Maybe we should go back to your room.”

“No, it’s fine, really.”

“Alright, but after, you should rest.”

She nodded, wondering why she suddenly felt so emotional. A lot of her emotional responses were seeming to become odd and she wondered if it was just because of her ordeal before meeting these people. She took another spoon fool and held the flavorful soup in her mouth a few moments, emotion hitting her again. It was like her soul was aching. She swallowed and looked back at Rees, her eyes meeting his for a few long moments “I’m sorry” she couldn’t help but say again, seeing how concerned she was making him. “what’re you thinking about?”

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

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

“that would be really kind, thank you Rees” something flashed in her mind, of hugging him and thanking him as they sat down at the table with young children, his children. At least they had looked so similar to them she thought it was. She quickly finished her soup and began to wash it “hey, you’re still getting better. Myself or the kids will get that” she was so thrown off by everything that had been happening in her mind and emotionally since eating with him she didn’t protest “alright, will you take me back to my room then”

Rees lifted her into his arms, happy to have her close, however briefly it would be. They were nearly to the room she was staying in when she asked him “do you have any pictures of your kids when they were children?”

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

“If I wouldn’t be bothering you”

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

“you can’t just take me to it” he couldn’t, they would be with all the pictures that had her in them. “you need to rest” she did so it wasn’t a lie. He tucked her into bed so lovingly, she couldn’t resist hugging him. It surprised Rees but his body instantly responded. He had her close once more and demanded himself not to cry. He didn’t know what to say about it so he didn’t and she didn’t say anything more as he walked out the door.It hit him once he was out he never told his son to bring Oliver clothes but knowing his children one of them had checked on the human.

He went to retrieve one of the paintings of his children, promising himself he would check on Oliver before he went to bed. He had been so wrapped up in Aurelia and everything that had happened, that he had been being a bad host. His eyes caught hers when he came back into her room and he couldn’t help but pause there for a moment. His heart thumped in his chest when she smiled and he had to force himself to move again. “Sorry.” He said as he crossed over to her.

“It’s alright.”

“I shouldn’t stare, it’s rude.”

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

“I was going to bring one of the bigger ones, but I decided against it. This one though, is one of my favorites.” He sat down next to her and turned the painting so she could see it. He remembered that day very vividly because it had been so hard to get Brynmor to sit still.

Chapter Five

She tried not to let her expression change too much as she looked at this painting. She had seen those two as children. Could she have really guessed so accurately? It was weird but maybe that was all it was. Her mind just had shrunk the two down incredibly well. “they were so adorable” her eyes grew a little damp but she didn’t cry. “Yeah, Brynmor would not sit still for this picture. We almost gave up…my wife and I I mean”

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

“They had a gorgeous mother, I guess that helped Brynmor aswell because he certainly didn’t get it from me. I just tend to scare people. I think one of the things I loved most about my late wife was that she never feared me for a moment” He noticed her gaze go from the children to him “I think you’re incredibly handsome Rees,don’t call yourself scary” she blushed, quickly looking away from him and wondering why she had said that out loud. “Um…you should get rest too Rees. You ran around all that time solving what happened and taking care of Oliver. I’m…getting tired” she felt awkward and was a bit overwhelmed with herself and thoughts in general.

“Please call me if you need anything alright”

“I will” he almost leaned down to kiss her head but managed not to “goodnight Aurelia” His voice was so loving and sad. He was such a sweet vampire, she could definitely see how someone could fall in love with him. When he shut the door she looked down at the picture again and whispered to herself “what did that couple want me to find…could it be…you three?” she almost felt stupid saying it. Amelia sounded so perfect, she could probably never fill her shoes here. She laid back against the headboard and prayed softly “Gods and goddess’s, please help me. If you can, give me some sort of sign. Is this where I was supposed to end up or am I just enamored with this family and want to think my heart was leading me here”

She looked at the picture awhile longer then settled down for the night, hoping everyone else slept well. Another violent storm woke her late in the night, just like the one she had found herself in the night she came to this castle. She gasped when she saw a figure in her room but relaxed when she saw the man who had come to her. She looked around and asked “where is the woman?”

“Humble is busy”

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

“your work”

“thats not what I’m here to explain. You asked for more guidance…well, get out of bed.” she got up, hoping a head injury didn’t have her going insane. Those men had hit her quite a few times. Once they stepped out of the room he held a finger up to his mouth to tell her to keep quite so she did, following him all the way down to the final floor of the castle”why are we here?” she asked in a whisper. He started rumaging and pulled out a painting that made her legs so weak she almost fell “wha…what”

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

“but…how…what”

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

“but…thats me!”

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

“they…do they actually know”

“They felt it, you feel it too, I know you do. That soul of yours was begging to come back. Even I felt it desperate desire to find Rees and your children as my wife and I were passing you by that night. You’ve wanted to run back to him from the moment you were born. Didn’t you used to draw a lot of vampire art Aurelia, didn’t you always make up games where you lived in a castle and wasn’t your very first make believe friend named Rees” she felt light headed as it all came rushing back. Childhood felt like so long ago but as she stood there she realized his words were true “what are you”

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

“Good, Humble, my wife loves a good romance story. I understand yours was particularly beautiful. You two meant the world to eachother and those kids have missed you immensely. You left a hole in their hearts and I think even if we hadn’t woken up your soul you would have never felt complete without them. The bond you all had in your previous life was much too strong”

“when she touched me…”

“she just helped you hear”

“it really lead me back here”

“You and Rees are meant for one another.”

“why didn’t they show me this”

“I dont think they want to lose you all over again. Not everyone believes souls are reincarnated. You might have thought them crazy even with these pictures. Go to Rees and I’ll return to my Humble”

“I’m grateful” she wiped her face before continuing “but you cant cliffhanger me like this. Will you two come back when you have time. I have to know more” he chuckled “well you are an elf this time, your kind is notorious for being hungry for information. Lucky for you Humble loves romances like the one you have with Rees. I’m sure she’ll lunge at the opportunity to see you two back together. She would have come now but she couldn’t”

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

“Jase” she had almost forgot about the storm until it scared her “easy now, hurt yourself again and you’ll break three hearts” Jase said in an amused voice. Aurelia ran up the stairs and Jase smiled, setting the painting back down and used the magic that brought him to return him to Humble. Suddenly Brynmor was infront of her, looking disheveled. “are you okay? I heard running. Did something happen?” he started looking her over for wounds. She hugged him “You’re my son…I cant believe it” His heart nearly stopped “Mom…do you remember”

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

“I do” she was bawling and wished she wasn’t. She had always been such an ugly crier and that was the last thing she wanted to be when she made it to his room. Her emotions were just so strong right now she couldn’t help it. He was crying too adn that wasn’t helping. She felt this was her son and no loving mother wanted to see their son cry. He hugged her one more time “we’ll help you remember fully mom and even if you cant…I’m just so happy you know. We can make new memories” she nodded and he knocked on the door before leaving her.

Aurelia hastily wiped at her face, praying that she didn’t look horrible. He opened the door with confusion and concern on his face “whats happened? Why are you crying” Looking into his eyes she didn’t know what words to use so she grabbed his shirt, pulling him down to kiss her.

Rees was surprised by the sudden press of her lips and it took him a moment for his brain to register what was happening. He grabbed her shoulders and gently pushed her back. “Aurelia, what are you doing?” He wanted to keep kissing her, to pull her into him and into his bed.

Aurelia held his face in her hands, tears springing back into her eyes. “I know everything, I know why I’m here.”

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

“I’m Amelia, I’m your wife.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pretoria told me how I died…I think that need from you is understandable” he felt a little shame at the thought she might know just how insane he became for a few years. He had allowed himself to become a monster when he saw her body parts hanging from the trees and he wished he could go back and handle things more like she would have wanted him to. “did you make me that soup because it was my favorite?”

“I was trying to help you remember”

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

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

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

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

“Okay”

“I love you Aurelia”

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

“You’d want to?”

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

“Okay, but I want to be selfish with you for awhile. I’m sure the kids feel the same” she smiled “thats okay with me” The room fell silent besides a few sniffles here and there. Aurelia wasn’t sure when she fell asleep but she woke still in his arms the next morning. He had fallen asleep hard so she was able to get up without disturbing him. She wanted to see her daughter now, to embrace her as she had her son and husband. She wasn’t hard to find, it looked like she had been waiting in the hall for her to come out “Brynmor says…he”

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

“It’s good to be home honey”

~ The End ~

Elowen & Birch

Chapter One

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

“Great! Is mommy home yet?”

“Just two more nights” He just continued to smile as he began to look out the window so she put in one of his CD’s and put her attention back on the road. Mei was his live in nanny, had been since he was four and it was the best job she had ever taken. Tod was the sweetest boy anybody could ask for and his mother paid her far more than any other live in nannies she knew, especially when she took business trips. She had grown so fond of Tod over the past five years she’d probably even watch him for free at this point. She loved him like he was her own. The nice room, comfortable life and amazing income were just perks now.

Elowen was more like her friend than employer as well. She was a wonderful, warm woman and while she worked a lot she was an amazing mother. She had never seen Elowen miss a single school event and when Todd was sick, if he wanted his mother she stayed home. Anytime Tod needed her she was there and Mei had never met such a driven working mother that was so good at balancing things like that or to put in better words, so good at telling her job to fuck off when her child needed or wanted her.

As Mei pulled into the driveway Tod gasped “Mommy’s home! Her car wasn’t there so she shut off the car and turned “I’m sorry baby she isn’t.”

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

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

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

“You think somethings wrong?”

“I don’t know but lets be safe okay” Birch was one of Elowens close friends, someone Mei knew wouldn’t mind if she came unannounced with Tod. She wanted to call Elowen through the car but Tod would be able to hear and she didn’t want to upset him. There might not even be a problem and her own fear might work him up for no reason. Once there she sighed when his car wasn’t in the drive way. She parked, calling Elowen who answered quickly “Hey Mei, i can’t really talk, I had to step out of a meeting”

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

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

“what did Birch say?”

“He isn’t home”

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

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

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

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

“yeah” Tod said cheerfully. Elowen felt better hearing her son in good spirits and she especially felt better that Birch was helping Mei with the situation.

They sat in the driveway until Birch and he made sure they were okay before letting them into his home. “I’m going to go check Elowen’s place.” He said.

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

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

“Can Bane come over?” Tod asked.

“Of course, he’s always welcome.”

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

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

“Maybe you should call the police?”

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

“Still, stay safe and call me after.”

“I will.”

They got off the phone, Elowen a bundle of nerves Birch readying himself to check her home. Tod was young with an active imagination so this may be nothing at all but he wanted to go in there ready for anything. He was glad Mei had come over instead of trying to go in there herself just in case. Birch decided not to pull into the driveway. He parked in front of the neighbors house, slid his gun into his jeans and approached Elownes home. He could already hear their dog Bane going nuts which could mean there was somebody there or it could be the animals frustration that he had seen Mei come home and leave.

Either way Birch went to the front door and opened it with the spare key he had. Whenever Elowen took her son on vacation somewhere he would always be the one to come feed their dog since Mei went everywhere they went. He had expected the dog but Bane still startled Birch a little when he near instantly jumped up on him “hey, calm down buddy” Birch whispered as he began to pet him “is there anybody else in there?” Bane ran in and Birch followed.

Once inside everything looked alright, he walked all through the home, checking every closet and under the beds. Nothing seemed amiss until he realized Bane had stayed in Meis room the entire time “is there something I’m missing?” he asked the dog who continued to sit. Birch stood there a few moments before asking “are we in here for a reason buddy?” Bane moved around a little bit before sitting back down in the same spot he had been in when Birch entered. Birch decided maybe the window. He checked it, finding it unlocked.

He knew it was possible someone had tried it and found it open. Nothing seemed missing but as frequent as he came over he didn’t live here so he could be missing something. In any case the house seemed safe for now. He locked the window, checked everywhere one more time then grabbed Banes leash before going back to his car with him. He started it up then called Elowen to update her.

“You didn’t find anyone?”

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

“Thank you so much Birch.”

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

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

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

Elowen smiled down at her phone a few moments before returning to the meeting that had apparently ended. She couldn’t tell how her boss felt but he seemed to have gotten used to the fact that if her son needed her she was going to answer the phone or go to him and if he didn’t like it she’d find another job. It wasn’t likely he’d fire her since she’d risen so far up in the company and always worked hard but she still knew one day it might bite her in the butt. She’d figure it out if that ever happened though.

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

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

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

“Yeah”

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

“sure!” Birch looked over at Mei “If you’d like Mei I can handle Tod the rest of the day. You can go out and have some fun. I saw some of your friends on Facebook had wanted you to go out with them but you had to remind them Elowen isn’t home”

“are you sure?”

“I don’t have any plans”

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

“By yourself?”

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

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

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

“alright, have fun” Mei sent a text to Elowen. She knew it was most likely okay but she still wanted to be sure Elowen wouldn’t mind her taking an unscheduled afternoon off.
She got a text back immediately so messaged her friends before going and getting ready. She gave Tod a hug goodnight and thanked Birch again before heading out. “Want pizza tonight, Tod?” Birch asked.

“Yeah, can we have pineapples on half?”

“Of course.” Birch went ahead and ordered, getting bread sticks and cinnamon twists as well. He hung up when he had everything he wanted then locked his front door and went to quickly change out of his work clothes. Tod was still working on his homework when he came back, Bane curled up next to his chair barely glancing his way. “Do you need any help or anything?”

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

Birch pulled up a chair and began helping Tod. He took the time to make sure Tod knew what to do instead of just helping him quickly so they could play something. They finished his homework just before the pizza arrived which surprised Birch since normally it took much longer. He guessed it must be a slow evening for them. He paid the delivery man and brought the pizza to the table. He received a hug from Tod “I’m so happy I’m hanging out with you tonight. Mei would of made something healthy again” Birch chuckled “Mei and your mother just want to make sure you’re healthy. I can spoil you because I know they take such good care of you at home”

“Yeah…is my mom coming back soon?”

“Hopefuly it wont be too much longer” Tod smiled “you miss her a lot too huh” Birch fought down a blush “yeah, well, she’s my friend” Tods smile grew a little which could either be because he was now grabbing a slice of pizza or the nine year old realized the feelings he had for his mother. He wasn’t sure it was appropriate to talk about with her son so he didn’t try to. Hopefully it was that Tod realized and would approve if anything did finally happen between them. Birch was a straightforward guy but he still didn’t know what happened with Tods father and worried she might be too wounded from her past to have any desire to be with anybody again.

As far as he knew she never dated and she was far too warm, along with beautiful for nobody to of asked. Elowen just worked, spent time with her son and the few friends she had. She never so much as mentioned a guy being attractive and given the fact nobody spoke of Tods father made him even more concerned with what may lay in her past. Weather he died or was an abusive prick or his worst fear had raped her and made her swear off dating the last thing he wanted was to let her know how much he wanted to be more in her life than a friend and have her push him away because she couldn’t handle a romantic partner in her life. Sometimes he wanted to ask Mei. If anybody else knew she would but still, would Elowen get upset about him prying?

They got her settled in so late that evening he didn’t ask when she returned to his house but when the next night came, his last chance to ask her without Elowen being around he took it as soon as Tod was sleeping “Mei, care to have some wine with me and talk?”

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

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked”

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

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

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

“because I want to be with her, thats all. I just felt I should know first if shes been through anything traumatic I mean his father has never been mentioned one time and she doesn’t date, she doesn’t even mention being attracted to anyone. I I’m sorry for asking” Mei sighed “jesus you scared me Birch.”

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

“The deal is he’s a monster, a literal monster and I never want to hear you ask about him ever again understand? Don’t you dare hurt her or Tod that way. Elowen has already moved twice to keep him away from her son.” Mei shook her head, lifting her hands a moment in an obvious storm of emotions “I can’t have you asking Elowen about this so lets get on your computer. I need to show you something” He took her to his computer and he waited as she typed something into the search bar. What came up took him back and he asked what even he knew was a stupid question “what does this news article have to do with Tods father”

“he’s the one who was doing this. He’d kill people by slowly removing their organs or simply just playing around inside them, doing everything he could to also keep them alive as long as possible” Birch read the article then said in horror “but this says he was never caught…how”

“Tods father is a literal monster. Elowen didn’t know until she became pregnant. He finally told her, showed her what he was and she accepted that until one day she founds him hunched over a dead body, innards in hand. He confessed everything to her, begged her to stay and run off to a different world with him where they could start over but being Elowen she couldn’t just act like he wasn’t a murderer, even if he was claiming he would stop for her. She figures if he could have stopped for her and their son he would have before she caught him”

“He didn’t take that well”

“He tried to kill her Birch. She moved, changed hers and Tods names and when he found her she did it all over again. I promise you after that scare at the house if you bring up Tods father she will be gone and we will never see her again…I mean she might take me. I know all this because once we got close she told me and asked that if he ever did kill her that I do everything I can not to let him get his hands on Tod and corrupt or hurt him”

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

“she didn’t suddenly become a racist Birch, she’s changed her name twice and she cant be completely honest about her past. Damn it Birch she’ll kill me for saying this but she loves you too. She’s not an idiot, neither are Tod and I but she wont be with you if she cant be honest with you and the more people that know the more likely she is to be found by him again. Her mistake the first time she changed her name was getting romantically involved and telling the truth about herself. You and Elowen just cant be and you can’t bring this up”

“But I’ll protect her”

“You can’t promise that Birch. She’s fine being single, especially because that comes at no risk of having to uproot Tod now that hes old enough to realize he has to leave his entire life behind.”

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

“But…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“we will all go”

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

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

“was?”

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

“I see, so her parents did die”

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

“I believe that…what’s Tods name?”

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

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

“I hope you’re right”

When Elowen landed the next day she was elated to be home, especially knowing both Birch and Tod would be coming to the airport. She was practicly glowing with happiness until she saw Meis face “whats wrong?”

“Nothing really”

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

“Hey hadnsome, I missed you so much”

“I missed you too.”

“did you have fun with Birch and Mei”

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

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

“Oh…Okay”

“yay!” Tod exclaimed gleefully.

Chapter Two

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

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

She could see the determination on his face, could tell he was thinking hard about something. She was afraid of what that meant. Had she done something wrong? Had Mei? Surely it couldn’t be Tod. She shook her head. He would have come out with it right away if that were the case, and Birch had never lost his temper with any of them. He was so patient and kind. She was surprised when he reached over and took her hand and gave her a small smile.

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

“Okay.”

It felt so good to hold his hand it almost hurt. Once they were finally home with the toy open and her son shut in his room the three adults sat on her couch. Mei was sitting beside Elowen while Birch took up a seat across from her. “I’m sorry about the tension you’ve felt about this talk. Your life has apparently had enough tension in it. Please, just listen to me before you react okay?”

“Okay…” she looked at Mei again and in her heart she knew Birch knew. Hers sunk as she listened “I know that your ex is a murderer and that you caught him and hes one of those if I cant have you nobody will types but you don’t have to be afraid anymore Nadja, you or Cailean. I’m not human either and I can protect you. I promise I can. I refuse to lose you and Tod. I’m happy to keep calling you guys whatever names you prefer but I love you and Mei says you love me too…I get why you haven’t gone out with me and I get why you’ve kept stuff to yourself. I know you’re really only thinking of Tod but please don’t run, allow me to love and protect you”

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

“I know I…I’m sorry”

“It;s okay, I don’t hate you I promise” now Mei was bawling so Elowen hugged her a few moments before wiping her face again. She looked Birch in the eyes, seeing that same determination “you really want to get involved in this Birch? You should think about if we’re really worth it”

“I dont have to think about it. I knew the second she told me I wanted to protect you guys. I love both of you and Mei has become a good friend too. I can’t even picture my life without you”

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

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

“I love you, I really do so much.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, if you ever feel like staying home, you two can always move in with me.” She opened her mouth and he shook his head. “You don’t have to worry about answering now. I just want you to know you have the freedom to move in whenever you want, if you ever want to. Mei too, I have plenty of room.”

“You’re too kind, Birch.”

“It’s easy when it’s you.”

Even though she knew Birch wasn’t far, Elowen still spent two months looking over her shoulder. She knew what her ex was capable of and she didn’t want him surprising them. The only thing that kept her from going into a full panic and running was the fact she had Birch, Tod, and Mei with her. Tod was oblivious to the fact his biological father could be around and she appreciated Birch and Mei keeping it that way. She wanted him to be able to grow up happy, without having to move all the time. She knew it was unfair. Summer Camp seemed to come up far too quickly and she couldn’t help but reiterate to Tod that he should never go off alone and that if anyone approached him he didn’t know, he should run and get help.

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

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

“I know, this will just be the longest we’ve ever been apart and I’m nervous about…you know.” Once she couldn’t see Tod any longer she finally made herself walk away, knowing the counselors here were more than capable. When they got on the road Elowen said “I cant believe you even did this drive with me”

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

“really?”

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

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

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

Elowen was nervous as they headed back to her house. Birch had explained the best place to lure him out was somewhere that smelled mostly of her. It would mask his scent and allow him to ambush her ex. “Remember the plan?” He asked as he took her hand.

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

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

“I know, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

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

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

“Okay.” He leaned over and pressed a kiss to her lips. It helped her calm down and gave her the strength to let him leave her.

Elowen walked toward her home, trying not to shake as she entered. If he wasn’t already there he would be soon. With the help of Meis friends multiple posts had been made about her and last time he had swooped in scarily fast. Elowen made a quick cup of coffee using her keurig, poured just a splash of creamer in it then went outside as though she just wanted to relax on her porch and enjoy the weather outside. “Birch wont let him hurt you. It’s going to be okay” she told herself, now looking at her phone. Her min wasn’t really registering anything on it but she wanted to look busy.

Birch had gone through so much trouble getting her home ready for this set up. She didn’t want her ex to get wise to the fact she was waiting and make Birch take bigger risks later. Elowen could still see that body, those eyes, all that blood. She was getting sick to her stomach so tried to actually look at her Facebook. She knocked over her coffee she was so startled when she heard his heavy breathing. She looked up, a scream caught in her throat she was so terrified.

Her ex was about to say something when what she guessed was Birch.ran long claws quickly across his throat, causing blood to gush. He was giant now, standing at least ten foot tall and his body, what on earth was he? His head resembled some sort of bird, maybe a rooster. As Birch wrapped his long tail around him and slammed him into the yard she could see wins and jesus how long was that tail. Her thoughts were all over the place. She was shocked when he ex was still able to shift, not quite gone yet.

Birch hissed as he attacked, claws slicing into the infuriated monster. The creature tried many times to get past him, wanting Elowen more than he wanted to save himself. He could hear Elowen’s racing heart and knew this must be terrifying for her. The monster’s nails cut him and he drove forward, snapping his teeth down on its throat. The monster thrashed in his grasp, scraping at him with his claws as he tried to free himself. He squeezed harder, feeling the crunch of bone and cartilage as he crushed the monster’s throat and broke his neck. He didn’t let go until his body went limp, then he let it drop to the ground.

He shifted back and turned to Elowen just as she slammed into him, her arms wrapping tightly around him. She started crying and he held her tightly, doing his best to comfort her. “It’s okay now, baby, everything’s okay.”

Elowen looked past him at her ex. His body had shifted back and it was hard to believe it was really him. For a moment, she could almost see who he had been before everything and she briefly wondered what could have made him into a monster. “Is he really dead?” She asked. “Is it really over?”

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

She started crying again and he understood. He had just killed somebody in front of her and not just anybody. Somebody she had once loved, someone she shared a child with before she found out he had been the one killing people where they lived. Even though he had intended to kill her too, the shock of his death and the fact he was dead at all had to be hard. “let me get you inside.” He picked her up and took her to the sofa since it was nearest. “let me handle calling the police. Want me to turn the tv on?’”

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

“I have his claw marks on me and with dna they will tie him to the murders. He’s also on your property when you haven’t been together for some time. The police will believe us honey” he hated how stressed she now looked but he was right, calling the police is what they should do. Everything only took a few days to sort out before they were completely off the hook with the police. Elowen couldn’t believe she could actually have a normal life now and an amazingly happy one at that. Birch was such a good man and had more than proven his devotion to her and Tod. She knew she was lucky in so many ways. Lucky to have survived her ex and lucky to find such a brave, amazing man to share the rest of her life with.

~ The End

Sylvie & Jarius 2

Chapter One

Sylvie laughed with her cousins as they continued to play their game. She was out to celebrate one of them getting married soon while Jarius was out with one of his Uncles. The old dragon had come wanting Jarius to help him with some artifacts he had found. Doing something like that was hard to do with a four year old, especially a little girl as wild as theirs so one of Sylvies brothers had offered to take care of little Xeja. Jarius had almost taken a break from working with his Uncle so Lefan wouldn’t have to watch her but at the last second changed his mind. He felt it would be better to try to finish so it wouldn’t take time from his family any more since his wife was out anyway. Lefan had watched her a few times before so they could have some time alone so they trusted him today.

Suddenly Sylvie had a bad feeling and her cousins could read it on her face “Sylvie, whats wrong?”

“I think I need to go home”

“is something wrong with Jarius?”

“No, I know it’s not that. I just, I feel like I need to check on Xeja”

“Okay, don’t ignore those mommy senses. I understand”

“I really am sorry though” her cousin waved her off “go if you feel like you need to check on her. Just find us if everything is okay” They figured it would be. It wasn’t like Sylvie spent a ton of time away from her daughter so they chalked it up to separation anxiety. Sylvie shifted, flying home as fast as she could. She burst through her door, startling Lefan who had been reading one of Jarius’s old books “woah, whats up?”

“Where is Xeja?”

“I ran her around outside, I wore her out so she’s napping”

“where?”

“em, in her room” her brother said in a confused tone then walked with Sylvie to find Xeja wasn’t in there “I swear she was just here. I’ve been checking on her every time I get to a new chapter”

“Xeja?!” Sylvie called, trying not to panic. To her horror she saw the room Jarius worked and stored things he wanted near by but Xeja couldn’t touch was opened “Lefan…”

“oh my god…I thought I locked that back I swear” Sylvie ran into the room, her brother behind her. Once inside Lefan was shocked by how far they could run in it, their home didn’t seem this big. Sylvie’s ears caught her daughter laughing and she ran to it, loseing her brother in all that was stored here. “Sylvie!” she heard her brother yell but finding Xeja was more important so she rushed on. Her daughter was messing with something on her finger “Xeja, baby” Sylvie was tearful and just as she noticed it was a ring it began to glow. She grabbed it, wanting to take it off but next thing she knew she felt twisted, sick to her stomach and then she suddenly wasn’t home anymore.

Sylvie felt like she couldn’t breath so she was gasping as she clutched her little girl to her chest. She wondered if she was just panicking so she concentrated on calming down and taking in her surroundings. It was dark and nothing was around besides trees and the stars above. She wondered if she was even in her world anymore because it certainly shouldn’t be night. Her daughter pushed away so Sylvie let her go, starting to apologize for possibly hurting her when her little girl began vomiting. It made her even more sure they had gone to a completely different world.

Sylvie pulled her daughters hair back, holding it until she finished. She then lifted her again, determined to find somewhere to now clean her up. Xeja began softly crying “You’ll feel better soon Xeja”

“where are we momma”

“I dont know” the girl started pulling at the ring but it wouldn’t budge “its stuck” she whined, no longer amused “then dont tug at it for now. I’m sure some being lives here. Maybe I can find someone who can help us get back to daddy and Uncle Lefan”

Lefan spun in circles, searched the room, looking under tables and behind shelves, but they were both gone. The sudden silence had been so shocking and now they were gone. He ran his fingers through his hair, starting to panic. What should he do? Jarius, he had to get Jarius.

“Well that looks pretty.” The voice startled Jarius and his uncle, causing the former to sigh a roll his eyes.

“Paimon, can I help you?” Jarius went back to the circlet he and his uncle were examining.

“No, not really?”

“The prince out?”

“What does that have to do with anything? Maybe I just missed your angry face.”

Jarius huffed. “Sure. Well if you’re here, might as well make yourself useful.” He pointed to some of the artifacts they had already examined. “Why don’t you take those and sort them onto the tables and shelves.”

Sylvie didn’t want to walk aimlessly so tried to put her nose to good use to search for water. She couldn’t smell any in any particular direction but she was determined to just keep walking and scenting the air until she found that or a person. She’d give anything right now to have wolf in her bloodline. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to find any either but they had a much better chance than her. “I can walk mom” her daughter said about a half hour later “are you sure?”

“yeah, I know you don’t mind but…if something tries to hurt us or if I really need it later I dont want to have already worn you out”

“do you promise to tell me if you need a break?”

“I promise” with that assurance Sylvie set her daughter down “stay near me okay. I know nothing about where we are”

“yes momma” Xeja took her mothers hand. Sylvie held on tightly, ready to protect her. Sylvie considered turning into a dragon so she could soar over these trees but that could potentially be risky and she certainly didn’t want to draw the wrong attention to her and her four year old.

Mommy are you scared?”

“A little, how about you?” Xeja nodded. “Well that’s okay, everyone gets scared.”

“Even daddy?”

“Yeah.”

“And uncle Paimon?”

Sylvie actually cracked a smile at Xeja calling Paimon her uncle. Jarius would probably have a heart attack. “I’m sure he does.” Sylvie wished she could discern where she was going. In this world of night everything looked the same, even the stars.

Lefan bursting into the room nearly made Paimon drop what he was holding and both Jarius and his uncle twisted around, ready to fight. All three of them became confused when they saw how terrified Lefan was. “Jarius…Jarius, my sister and…and Xeja…”

Jarius’s heart jumped in his chest as he crossed over to Lefan, grabbing his shoulders. “What happened?” Paimon was suddenly standing there next to him and Jarius’s uncle had crossed over, a mask of worry on his face.

“I’m sorry, it’s all my fault. Xeja got in your storage room and…and then they were gone, just gone.”

Fear gripped Jarius’s heart and he opened himself up to Sylvie. When he worked and felt there was no reason to worry he blocked the part of himself that could feel what she was feeling. She could so easily take his attention he normally couldn’t get anything done if he could feel her and now she was in danger and it took him however long it took her brother to come for help to be aware of it. There was a reason that room stayed constantly locked, many reasons to be more exact and there was no possible good explanation for his family vanishing in there. He could now feel her fear and worry so he said “come! I need him to show me about where they were when they vanished. I know everything in there. I just need a place to start”

They still hadn’t found a single thing by the time Xeja needed to rest. Sylvie decided just to stop for now “why don’t you take a little nap sweetie”

“I don’t know if I can”

“I’ll tell you a story like I do at home for bed time”

“But daddy isn’t here to sing to me after”

“I’ll just do the singing too” Xeja’s lower lip trembled “Baby” Sylvie said in concern. “I just miss dad”

“we’ll see your father again soon. I wont rest until we’re back with him and I bet you anything he’s already looking for us. I still feel him and I can tell he’s worried, he knows we are missing. He’s almost as old as time itself and his Uncle is even older. Between them and my side of the family they are going to figure out where we are” Sylvie began to rub her daughters face and stroke her hair to comfort her. “I’ll tell a really happy story okay?”

“Okay” Sylvie retold one of the happiest fairytails she knew and the poor thing was so exhausted from fear and the travel here she was out before Sylvie could even sing. Sylvie didn’t rest there long before carefully lifting her daughter and walking on. She didn’t think it was wise to rest any longer than she absolutely needed since she didn’t know at all where she was.

It was almost an hour later when she finally found a lake “thank god” she whispered before setting her daughter down and testing the water to make sure it was safe for Xeja. Now that she had found water and her daughter was resting anyway Sylvie took another chance to lay down and regather strength for anything that may occur. Jarius had been completely spoiling her over the years so she wasn’t as used to just walking constantly like this.

“Mom?” her daughters voice woke her some time later “yeah baby?”

“you found water”

“see, I’ll make sure we have everything we need until I figure out how to get home”

“can I go wash in it please?”

“run right in, give me your clothes and I’ll clean them” Xeja stripped down then ran into the water while Sylvie opened her senses up to any perverts or potential dangerous animals. Once their clothes and Xeja were clean they were off again, Sylvie now keeping her nose out for potential food. She could tell her little one was hungry but besides this lake there still didn’t seem to be anything. It seemed impossible that a place could truly just be trees.

It was just as those thoughts were passing through her head a womans voice caught her ears but it was obviously another language. Sylvie pulled her daughter behind her protectively and said “I’m sorry, I don’t understand” saying that may have been completely pointless but she felt it would be better than being silent or trying to run. They had been hoping to find someone after all. The woman tilted her head, seeming to think hard. Her voice came out unsure, like it took great effort but what came out this time was English “you…lost? You smell of…elsewhere”

Relief rushed through Sylvie for many reasons. Though it would be hard to talk she could in fact talk to this woman and the fact the woman was even trying made her feel more comfortable. A person trying to harm them likely wouldn’t care if they understood what they were saying. That may or may not be true but it was comforting logic “I’m very lost, I came to this world by mistake. I want to go home but I don’t know how” Xejas stomach loudly growled which had the little girl blushing, especially when it made the woman notice her. She motioned for them to come so Sylvie picked up her daughter and hoped she wasn’t making a huge mistake by following this woman. She might never get home if she didn’t put her trust in anyone here.

The woman lead them only a short ways off from where they had been headed before she stopped and held her hand in front of her, palm facing the ground. Sylvie held her daughter tighter again, wishing they could communicate more easily. Sylvie guessed the reason they had walked in complete silence was due to the fact english seemed to be hard for her to speak and Sylvie couldn’t even begin to try hers. She had learned so many from her husband but of course she didn’t know the one she needed now.

When they managed to get home she was going to have Jarius teach her more. A door appeared in the grass. The woman motioned for them to follow again as she opened it. Sylvie had expected to drop into a home but it was almost as if the world tilted so they could walk right in. It was honestly a little trippy and had Sylvie confused “My…home” The strange woman strained again. Sylvie wondered if the difficulty was from how different her home language had sounded. Her mouth and tongue were probably nowhere near used to the movements it took to speak to her.

Chapter Two

“Are we safe?” Sylvie asked.

“Very…sit…rest?.”

“Thank you.”

The woman nodded and gestured toward a pile of animal hides. Sylvie sat down with Xeja in her lap, finding the makeshift couch incredibly comfortable. The woman moved off and Sylvie heard things being moved around. “Hun…hungry?” The woman asked.

“Yes, thank you.” She didn’t know if it would be rude to say no and the woman had been so kind, she didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

The sound of sizzling and the smell of meat soon filled the silence and after a few minutes, the woman came back with some meat and steamed vegetables on a large plate. She sat down across from Sylvie and Xeja and put the plate between them. She gestured to it, then her mouth, then to all three of them. “Share?” Sylvie asked and the woman nodded. “Thank you so much.”

Jarius felt almost frantic, he couldn’t figure out what his daughter could have possibly gotten into. So much had been knocked over between Xeja getting in here and Sylvie running around that things were mixed up “Jarius, you need to breath” his Uncle Saeran said seriously “we’ve been in this room for hours, hours”

“yes we have but you need to keep a clear head. You need to think as your daughter does. Think of what she likes, colors, toys, everything and that will help you decide what is missing” as Saeran finished speaking Paimon interjected “It’s honestly a little surprising you still have this habit. I guess dragons hoarding is a thing that dies hard”

“it’s…it’s my fault…Jarius having all this hasn’t been a problem until I wanted a book from here…” Lefan said sadly, still spending most his time looking at the floor. Jarius sighed “Paimons a pain in my ass Lefan but what he’s getting at is right. I shouldn’t have something that could harm my family near our home, especially not while Xeja or any other children we may have are here. Sylvie is an intelligent woman who will listen when I tell her about things but a child can’t be expected to always do the same…you are not the only one responsible Lefan.”

“ever noble, I’ve never seen you so distressed. Others”

“Paimon not right now” Jarius cut off the speech before it got away from Paimon. He needed his family back and he feared every moment they spent gone was a moment he could lose them forever. Paimon also took Saerans advice and started thinking “Jarius, she’s been wearing rings a lot lately.” Paimon suddenly said and Jarius’s normally pale skin actually turned whiter. “No…” he walked over the area again, even looking inside things “you know what Xeja did don’t you Jarius? Just tell us and stop looking for whatever you’re looking for. We need to help your family”

Jarius held a hand over his mouth, looking as if he might cry then shook his head hard “they’re not there, they’re not there. I’ll find it and it’ll be something else”

“Jarius, you know, I know how much your family means to you and thats why you need to admit what you already know”

“do you remember the book I wrote about Casis”

“The cannibals…” Saeran said knowingly and Lefan’s horrified voice asked “what?” Jarius cried “they’re in a world of cannibals. Its so bad they actually hide from one another there. Their homes are all cleverly put into the ground and mountains and such. They seem normal when you meet them…she might follow one home…”

“why on earth would a portal to that be here Jarius” Saeran reprimanded “when I first met Sylvie I had gone on another trip there for the fruit. They have the most amazing fruit and I gave her some. She loved it … I wanted her to like me. I kept making trips back so I could give her some and I just never took it out of here…I forgot it was in here until Paimon mentioned rings”

“How’re we going to get there?”

“I dont know, thats the only portal I know of”

After they ate the kind stranger put a hand on her chest “Gazit” Sylvie felt that was her name so she touched her daughters head “Xeja” then touched her own chest “Sylvie”

“You stay here in my home”

“do you know how to get me back where I’m from?” Gazit shook her head and Sylvie slightly frowned “a little bit then, I really need to get home as soon as I can” After a few hours passed with little talking or indication this kind woman could be any more help Sylvie said “we should go, I need to find my way home”

“need to…stay”

“why?” The woman just stared at her and Sylvie felt shitty about it after she had been so kind but it creeped her out. She hoped maybe she just didn’t know how to explain and wasn’t trying to be creepy. “do you have maybe a friend I could meet? Maybe they can help” still nothing and it just made Sylvie want to leave worse. The next time Gazit went to the bathroom Sylvie picked up her daughter and walked back to the door or where the door should have been because it was gone. Dread filled her but she didn’t want to panic Xeja so she kept walking, acting like she was just toting her around until Gazit came back out. “its rest time” she informed them then motioned to her couch “Okay, thank you”

Sylvies heart was pounding but she worried if she yelled, asked about the door or did anything that let Gazit know she was panicking she might make the situation worse. She also still didn’t want her four year old to know there was any reason to be scared. Sylvie just settled down with her daughter and Gazit left them, closing herself in her bedroom. Sylvie had intended to stay awake and figure something out but it was almost if something was dragging her eyelids closed and her mind to rest. She fought the urge, she had to get out but next thing she knew Gazit was kneeling beside the couch, her face inches from Sylvies and it took every ounce of self control not to jump.

Once again she prayed this was a misunderstanding since it was hard to commuincate and they were from different worlds. For all she knew it was normal for their doors to vanish, maybe it wasn’t so weird to stare creepily here and maybe personal space wasn’t a thing here either. These among other things Sylvie kept telling herself for comfort as they sat at Gazit’s table. She had already made breakfast and was just putting in onto plates. “why lap?” Gazit asked since Sylvie was holding Xeja “she’s homesick for her dad. I’m trying to comfort her” It wasn’t a complete lie, Sylvie could see how sad her daughter was.

“I’ll be okay mommy, thank you” Xeja got out of her lap and sat on the chair next to her. Sylvie wanted her little girl as close as possible but at least she was still closer to her than their host. Sylvie went to tie up her hair with a band she had in her pocket when she noticed one strand was much shorter than the others suddenly. Maybe she shouldn’t have but her eyes went to Gazit, who the hell else woudl have cut off some of her hair. Gazit sipped from her cup, her eyes once again locked on Sylvie which now Sylvie could only see as predatory due to how scared she was. There was no door any longer, Gazit was insistent they stayed and she knew she wasn’t crazy, someone had cut off some of her hair last night.

Keeping her voice as calm as possible Sylvie said “Gazit, we really need to leave after this meal.” Gazit was silent and next time her mother spoke Xeja heard the fear in her voice”Please, I dont want to stay any more”

“Mommy, is everything okay?” Xeja asked. Gazit began eating again and that was all this panicked mother could take. Gazit’s focus seemed to be on her but if this woman was crazy she was capable of anything. Sylvie shifted into a dragon in the small home and it obviously scared the hell out of Gazit who was pale, trembling as she looked up at the crampt dragon that had destroyed multiple things in the dining room just by shifting. “we’re leaving if I have to eat you to do it” Sylvie threatened and suddenly, there was the door again. Xeja shifted too and they both left, flying away as fast as they could.

Chapter Three

Jarius had Paimon, Saeran, and Lefan help him collect all of his books from storage and take them over to one of the tables. Maybe, just maybe he could find something in them. “Paimon, take Lefan and gather all of the books from the library on other worlds and spells for making gateways.”

“Yes sir.” Paimon grabbed the dejected Lefan by his arm and pulled him out of the room. Jarius was surprised Paimon was being so helpful. He always seemed to revel in Jarius’s loss of control, but now he was working hard to help. He didn’t know what to make of it, but he wasn’t going to question it to much right now.

“Jarius, you must lock up that ring once you have it back.” Saeran said as he started going through books.

“I don’t even want it in the house.”

“Then I’ll take it.”

“I think that would be for the best. I’m such an idiot, an irresponsible idiot. I should know better at my age.”

“We all make mistakes, Jarius.”

“Not like this, not with Sylvie and Xeja.”

“Sylvie has a good head on her shoulders Jarius. You’ll see them again so stay calm. You picked an amazing mate and your daughter, I see so much promise in her future”

Sylvie and Xeja flew until Xejas little wings could carry her no further. Sylvie began to descend right away and was grateful that where ever they were now seemed nice. They shifted back into humans bodies and Xeja hugged her mother “Mom, what happened?”

“there was something off about her baby. I realized it the night before but I didn’t want to scare you”

“what are we going to do now?”

“I’m going to gather firewood, make you a nice fire and we’re going to relax. You should have said something sooner baby. You look so exhausted. After the fire is made I want you just to lay down”

“okay mommy” Sylvie shifted back into a dragon and pushed over a tree to make wood small enough for their fire. Once it was burning Sylvie was in her human body again and patted her lap so Xeja would lay her head down. Sylvie hoped her following words would bring her daughter any comfort “there has to be some sort of city sweetheart. Once you’re feeling rested I will find it”

“what if it’s underground, Gazit’s home was underground”

“while you sleep I’m going to be sitting here thinking about all the ways we could possibly handle this. Don’t stress okay baby, trust your mommy and close those beautiful brown eyes”

“I’m sorry” She almost couldnt bare to hear her daughter apologize. A four year old breaking a rule shouldn’t have these type of consequences. “don’t you be sorry about anything. I’m not mad” Sylvies eyes were damp but she was still trying not to cry. She knew she needed to stay strong and she didn’t want to waste her energy crying. “I promise to always be good when we get back to daddy”

“shhh sweetheart” Sylvie began lightly rubbing her daughters face and arms, grateful when she finally went to sleep so she wouldn’t fall apart.

“You said Casis correct?” Paimon asked.

“Yes, have you found something?” Jarius moved to look over Paimon’s shoulder.

“It looks like the information is old, but old is probably good.” He tapped the part of the page he had been reading. “It looks like opening it takes a few things, namely the blood of the one opening it, but it’s not impossible.”

“I wish I could just open it damn it.”

Paimon shrugged. “So we’ll each take a part of the list and gather what we need. You might have some of it around here. Just know, I’m definitely coming with you, wouldn’t want you getting eaten before you can rescue the girls.”

“Alright, we’ll split up and try to gather everything, but hurry, I need to get to them.”

As Sylvie sat there she noticed the ring again on her daughters finger. It could obviously change in size since it still didnt’ come off when Xeja shifted into a dragon. Sylvie rubbed the hand that wore it, wishing she knew how to work this ring. She was half afraid if she tried to do something with it, without knowledge of how it worked they could end up further down the rabbit hole in a whole new place. They could end up even further from home with less hope of returning to her husband. Sylvie sighed, her eyes now going to the fire as she asked nobody in particular “what do I do” Things remained peaceful until Xeja woke.

“morning baby”

“Morning”

“you ready? I can carry you if you want to wake up more before walking”

“No, I can walk momma”

“Okay sweetheart, don’t let yourself get that tired again. I still don’t know where to begin so truly, we can rest all you need” Xeja nodded and Sylvie put out the fire before taking her daughters hand and walking on in the direction she had already determined they’d try. They found some fruit along the way and it clicked with Sylvie, she remembered eating this a lot with Jarius when they first met. She wondered what besides this he got up to in a place as odd as this one.

They couldn’t have gone another full hour before Xeja gasped “baby what” she started to ask when she saw a dart in her daughters neck and heard another coming for her. Sylvie shifted after jerking it out of her daughter , hoping her scales would be too strong for the darts to get through. She heard deranged cackling “a dragon, I can deal with you” the voice was creepy and even more startling her little girl passed out.

Sylvie roared at the top of her lungs, beyond pissed at this point. The cackling started again and in her rage she started spreading fire indiscriminately. Normally she’d care about possibly hurting things that had done nothing to her but she was scared, she was exhausted, she was hungry, and she wasn’t about to let some crazy make her feel trapped again. The fire caught quickly and Sylvie took Xeja in one of her claws for safety.

Sylvie flew straight up, glad when nothing else happened. I can deal with you she scoffed as she remembered his words. He was going to be dealing with the grim reaper if he came near her child again. It didn’t hit her until she had flown a fairly good distance the being had used English easily. Maybe some people here did speak her language. Sylvie’s current plan was to fly as long as possible so that hopefully her daughter would stay out of harms way until she woke up.

Jarius felt his wifes fury and it terrified him as to what may have caused it. She was far from an angry person so he worried what might be happening to his daughter. Suddenly it was as if she slammed into an invisible wall. It disoriented her and she slightly plummeted before lifting herself back up. “what?” she was confused, why couldn’t she fly further. She was too scared to land with her daughter still recovering from whatever drugs were in the dart so she tried to fly in another direction but to her horror she hit another wall, she was being boxed in somehow.

She roared as she hovered there. “I will burn this entire world if you don’t let us go.” It was a bluff, but she didn’t want anything else to happen to Xeja. The laughter seemed to be coming from all around her and her heart danced fearfully in her chest.

“It’s only a matter of time, dragon.” The voice said. “Aren’t you tired? I wonder how long your wings will carry you.”

“How much more do we have?” Jarius asked as he looked down at the things everyone had gathered.

“Lefan is off gathering a couple of hard to get plants and your friend went off to find this amulet.” Saeran answered.

“She’s scared uncle, angry, something bad is happening and I need to get to them.”

“I know, but you must stay calm, keep a clear head.”

“If I lost them I would go mad. Even Paimon understands.”

“Talking about me behind my back?” Paimon asked as he stepped in and Jarius shot him a glare. “I got it.” He held up the amulet.

“How did you…you know what it doesn’t matter, thank you.

Sylvie’s wings began to ache, she knew they might give out and there was obviously some sort of trap waiting below. She figured it was best to rush down and try to escape than to simply let herself get exhausted and fall right into whatevers clutches. She took a deep, mind clearing breath then said calmly to her unconscious daughter “I love you so much Xeja” before flying down. She flew straight as soon as she was able and just as she went straight a large, metal contraption tried to clamp down on her foot, almost taking off one of her toes but she had managed to evade it. The wound stung and blood poured down onto the earth but she still kept forward until something wrapped around her neck, instantly tightening so that she could barely breath. She tried to roar in fury again but it was too tight, having no give whatsoever.

Chapter Four

She wrapped herself tightly around Xeja as she hit the ground, taking trees down with her massive body and kicking up dirt. Her vision swam, her body aching all over, her blood soaking into the ground. She couldn’t breathe, but she refused to shift back to her human form. She knew if she did, they would take Xeja. Her mind was a whirlwind of emotion and Jarius could feel everyone, could feel the pain reverberating through her and he growled, wanting to kill whoever had dared touch her.

“I’m back, I’m sorry, there were…complications.” Lefan said as he came running in, one hand holding a bag, the other clutching his shoulder. He was scraped and bruised pretty bad, but he had managed to get the plants they needed.

“What happened?” Paimon asked.

“Just…it doesn’t matter.” Paimon opened his mouth to argue and Lefan interrupted, “Pellegrino’s back, he’s probably heading this way.” Paimon’s eyes went from concerned to dancing with delight in an instant, something that he quickly shoved down.

Lefan handed Jarius the bag. “Are you sure you’re alright?” Jarius asked.

“I’m fine.”

If Sylvie wasn’t obviously getting hurt he would have insisted to check his wound but Lefan felt he was fine and they needed to hurry to Sylvie. By the time Pellegrino got there they were almost done “Just in time” Paimon said “I had to finish taking care of the thing that attacked Lefan. It was a persistent son of a bitch. I’m happy I made it” Lefan looked awkwardly at the floor, hating he could seem to do nothing recently but cause trouble. What was he going to do if his carelessness cost his sister her life? He couldn’t imagine telling their parents or their other siblings or even the rest of the family.

As Sylvie’s vision began to get hazy she told herself over and over in her mind “don’t let go” hoping sheer will would keep her claws clutching her daughter when she was no longer conscious. Xeja regained consciousness as frustrated men tried to get to her “what the fuck! The damned mother passed out!” Xeja gasped, pushing herself as far away from them as he confined space allowed. They seemed to be struggling to get her mothers claws open “mommy”

“dont whine, I cant stand whining children and I’m already frustrated kid”

Though Jarius was impatient he and his uncle made sure everything was placed perfectly and that the plants they had all collected were perfectly measured and mixed. He put the amulet around his neck and sat down in front of the circle of items. The bowl was placed in the center, the book open in front of him. “Make sure you get enough in there to soak the ground up plants.” His uncle said as he handed him the dagger.

“I know.” He sliced his palm open and held it over the bowl, his eyes moving over the spell, lips speaking the words clearly as he called the doorway that would take him to his wife and child.

Xeja screamed when they managed to get one of her mother’s claws pulled back far enough that they could reach an arm in. She pressed herself further back, but one managed to snag her clothes. She bit whoever it was and they yelled as they released her. “You little bitch!” Another arm reached in and she moved away from it, crying for her mother and father.

She closed her eyes, still pushing herself back as hard as she could when suddenly she heard her father. Xejas eyes snapped open and she cried harder at the sight of not only her dad but her Uncles and Pellegrino. She knew they were safe now so she crawled out of her mothers claws and began to try to wake her “mommy” Xeja grabbed the lasso around her mothers neck and tried to break it “mommy” she whined. Paimon suddenly appeared on top of Sylvie, pulling out some sort of dagger and easily breaking the enchanted rope. Xeja noticed they had the men that were trying to hurt her unconscious on the ground so they were all coming over to help Sylvie.

Lefan lifted Xeja into his arms “they have her okay, your mom is going to be alright”

“we need to get this bleeding stopped first” Saeran said. They did their best with her toe, they could get her proper help back at home. “she’s not awake yet” Xeja whined and Lefan held her a little tighter. They took Sylvie home, they didn’t know how much blood she had lost so far and Jarius didn’t care where they landed at home. They could buy new things, he couldn’t get another Sylvie. By the time Sylvie woke days had passed and her little girl, much to her relief was the first to greet her. She had been refusing to leave her mother so Jarius was currently gone getting them something to eat. “Oh my baby”

“we’re home mom” Sylvie noticed she was in human form again “they were able to make you shift back and they got the ring off, see” Xeja wiped tears away then showed her mom her hand “Oh that’s such wonderful news honey”

“I’m sorry mommy.”

“Oh baby, it’s okay.” She hugged her daughter. “Where’s uncle Lefan?”

“He’s upset.”

Sylvie knew her brother had to be beating himself over what had happened and was probably ashamed. She wanted to see him and tell him it was alright, that she wasn’t mad. “We should go see him, let him know we’re okay.”

“You need to stay in bed, my love.” Jarius said as he stepped into their room. “You’re too weak to go wandering around. I’ll bring him here.”

“Jarius.” She could see and feel he was exhausted and scared and once Xeja had her food, she held out her arms. He said his own plate down, forgetting his food and just gathering her into his embrace. He buried his face in her hair and his relief and fear washed over her, his tears dripping onto her shoulder.

“I love you Jarius…we both missed you” Sylvie said softly, trying to bring him comfort. It only seemed to make him struggle more to keep tears at bay. “I’ve already started clearing that room…I’m so sorry I was so…something like that should have never been in there. I am so so sorry, I feel all your misery in that world is my fault” He wanted to apologize a million times over. “I was never mad at you or my brother. Neither of you would ever lead us to harm on purpose. I hope you weren’t mean to him” Jarius shook his head “as I said, I feel it’s more my fault than anybody elses. I told him as much but he’s your brother, he loves you and little Xeja immensely. I’m glad I didn’t scold him because he’s punishing himself enough as it is”

“as it seems you are Jarius. However, I’m happy to hear you’re getting rid of the dangerous things”

“it’s irresponsible until Xeja is grown. I…I can’t even think of what I was thinking…a locked door or not she was bound to get in there unattended” He held her a little tighter then made himself let go “are you hungry? I was going to eat light anyway so take my plate if you are. I’ll grab something else while I go get your brother for you”

“are you sure” with damp eyes he nodded. Jarius handed Sylvie his food, kissed her forehead then made himself leave again. He had been dyeing to talk to and hold her while she was actually conscious but she wanted to see her brother. Now, of all times, he would not be selfish. He at least knew at this point she wasn’t angry at him and that in itself lifted the weight of worlds off his shoulders. As soon as Lefan came to the door Jarius said “she’s awake and wants to see you”

“she does?”

“she’s not mad, at me or you” Lefan gave a sad sigh “still herself I guess…shes never held a grudge…I’ll get my shoes” Lefan was ready in a few moments then the two of them headed back to the waiting Sylvie.

Sylvie smiled when Lefan came in and her brother looked about ready to cry. “Come here, silly.”

He sat down on the bed and he really did start crying when she and Xeja hugged him. “I…I’m so sorry…I should have…”

“Hush now, we’re both fine and I’m not mad.”

“I should have known better.” Jarius said. “I filled my home with dangerous things and paid for it.”

“It’s really okay uncle Lefan.” Xeja said.

Once Lefan was able to calm down, he sat and chatted with them. He was relieved she was still her old self, that what had happened hadn’t traumatized her or Xeja and if it had, they weren’t showing it. He stayed until he noticed his sister getting exhausted and promised her he would stop worrying so much. “You should get some more rest, baby, both of you.” Jarius said as he sat down on their bed and gave Sylvie a kiss.

“I’m alright.”

“You need it, I can feel it. Rest, okay? I’ll stay here with you two.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll go to my bed. I missed my bed and my stuffed animals” Now Sylvie felt a little emotional. Her mind had definitely gone to what all that may have done to her daughter but she was still her bright, beautiful little girl “you’re welcome back in here if you need it honey.” she gave Jarius a gentle nudge “go tuck her in, she missed you singing to her. I promise to lay down” Jarius had to kiss her again before he stood and lifted his daughter. Sylvie sighed, looking around her bedroom. They were home, she was really and truly home. Paimon suddenly appeared and she smiled “Paimon”

“You doing okay?”

“Yeah, just tired”

“How’s my little niece?” Sylvie weakly giggled “you know she called you her Uncle while we were there” He smiled, it seemed to bring him immense joy “good, I love that little girl and despite what you may think I do have a heart in here”

“I know you do”

“I’ll let you rest”

“thank you”

“for?”

“talking to Lefan I learned you helped” He looked like saying this made him uncomfortable “I feel like I have a family…I wasn’t about to have that family broken up” Sylvies eyes grew even heavier as she smiled again, he could see it so he vanished, especially since he felt awkward anyway. Awkward was far from a feeling he was used to but family was far from something he was used to. Sylvie laid down, falling asleep before her husband returned. Jarius was quiet when he returned to their room,still worried over her.

He continued on clearing out the room he worked in then refilling it with treasures that were safe over the next months. He could have lost his beautiful mate and his wonderful little girl and he wasn’t sure he’d ever get over the shame of being so blind and selfish, no matter how forgiving Sylvie and Xeja was. They meant to much to him to forgive himself too quickly and no amount of time would have him forget the lesson he learned.

~ The End

Diya & Romanus

Chapter One

Diya hated that she was late yet again. The man who had offered her a place to stay was always understanding but he had been giving her and her daughter a home rent free purely out of the kindness of his heart and she hated it ever looking like she was taking advantage of his kindness. She still didn’t know why he offered to help a homeless mother or watched her daughter without expecting a penny but she planned on making him a nice dinner to make up for the rude customers that had stayed so long after the restaurant closed. When she walked in there was blood everywhere and a strange man talking to her daughter. The mama bear inside her took over and she ran at the man. She heard her daughter Melody yell “mommy no!” but she still tried to land a blow. The man seemed to catch her with ease, taking her by the wrists firmly but still not hurting her “listen please”

“yeah mom, listen” Melody said a little shakily. Diya looked over at the destroyed corpse of the man who had shown her so much kindness when she needed it most. She felt selfish but a dominant thought in her head was where would she and her daughter stay now? Back on the streets? They certainly had nowhere else to go and they couldn’t afford this apartment. “Diya, thats your name right?” The strange mans words made her look back at him “yes, who are you and why…why have you done this. Why is my daughter on your side?”

“I spend my time finding, following and killing pedophiles…this man…this man was a monster. Normally I like to make these cases missing person instead of leaving a murder scene but I had to act when I did. His behavior was escalating, he was going to go through with raping your daughter. I found him online, hes been making your daughter pose nude and sharing them with the other disgusting people on the web. Thats how I found him. I hate those places but I’m in them to stop monsters like him. I’ve been watching a few days, waiting for the perfect time to cause him to go missing but then I saw him trying to force himself on Melody so I had to kill him right here. Ask your daughter”

“Melody baby…is this true?” Melody nodded, tears in her eyes “but honey…why didn’t you tell me he was taking pictures of you”

“I didn’t know he was doing something bad. You have me smile for pictures all the time. I didn’t know being naked made it different” A tear slipped out of Diyas eyes “let me go, let me hug her” Romanus did and Diya scooped Melody up into her arms “Oh baby, I’m so sorry”

“Diya?” Romanus said.

“What? What’s going to happen to us?”

“I need you to come with me.”

“What? Why?”

“Because I need to call the police and I don’t want them to think you killed him. You can stay with me and when they get in touch with you about your daughter, you can tell them you were visiting me.”

“But…”

“Mom, please?”

“It’s alright, I promise you’ll be safe. You can tell them I’m your boyfriend, it’ll make the visit more believable.”

“You’d really do all this…for complete strangers…” Diya asked emotionally, her mind reeling. “I will gladly tell you my story when you two are in my home. I know you may have a harder time trusting seemingly random kindness now that you know why he let you two stay with him. I want you to stay in my home without stress that I’d ever hurt you or even think of hurting your daughter”

“Mom lets go, I don’t want to be here any more” Her daughters voice was so pleading that Diya finally went with him, no more questions or resisting. Her daughter needed to leave and this man had just murdered someone on their behalf. He had already made them both a bag so he took them to his home straight away then made the call before saying “I apologize for the blood on your daughter. Please, use my bathroom. I know she’ll feel better clean. I would have cleaned her up while we waited on you but I assumed she was done with men touching her for the evening”

“Thank you”

“would you like my story before you go? That way you can stay here without worry as to why I’d help people I don’t know”

“I want to know” Melody answered so Diya said “if you would like to tell us”

“My father saw me and saw a means to make money. I’m more beautiful than handsome and even was so as a boy. My father would sell sex with me for any price so I spent my life being molested over and over until I got strong enough to kill my father. It was truly the only way to make it stop. I made it my life to try and spare other children the pain I suffered at so many mens hands. Nothing can erase what happened to me but I’m happy I can spare children like Melody…so she’ll never feel as broken and scared as I did. I promise, the second I saw him forcing her down I intervened. I didn’t allow a thing to happen”

Diya stood there with her hand covering her mouth, feeling a sick twist in her stomach and an ache in her chest at the innocent little boy he had been. There was a brief flash of shame in his eyes and she wanted to hug him, but wasn’t sure if she should. “I…I’m so sorry…”

“Romanus and please, I’m fine, really.” He gave her a smile, but it looked almost sad. “Go and get your daughter cleaned, I’ll make you something to eat.”

“Alright, thank you again.”

“Of course, no child should suffer at the hands of a monster.”

Diya lifted Melody and took her to the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the tub and starting the water. She tested it then switched on the shower. She put her down, getting the blood soaked clothes off of her as quickly as possible and helping her into the tub. “I’m okay momma.” Melody said.

“I’m so, so sorry baby, I should have known something was off, I…” She wanted to curl up and cry, wanted to scream, wanted to go back and kill that man herself. She helped her daughter get clean then switched off the water, dried her, and wrapped her in a towel. “Come on baby.” She said as she lifted her daughter.

Melody already seemed alright and it bore hope in Diya that she was young enough to not fully understand what might have happened to her if Romanus hadn’t been watching them. She wanted her to understand that nobody should be taking naked pictures of her but a five year old didn’t need to know about rape. Diya grabbed the bag Romanus had made them then pulled out pajamas for Melody since her bedtime had already passed. She needed to eat dinner then get some rest. Melody hugged her mother after Diya slid her pajama top on “don’t look so sad, he only hurt me a little bit” Diya could barely hold back her tears “I know baby…please, if anybody asks to take naked pictures of you tell me right away. Nobody should see you naked besides me”

Romanus set dinner on the table then called the police. He wanted them to have as little involvement as possible in the cover up so he was glad the two of them weren’t in the room yet. With Melody being such a young child he also didn’t want her making noise in the background during the call.

Diya took Melody to brush her teeth once she finished eating then took her to bed, sitting with her until there was a tap on the door and Romanus pushed it open. “Sorry to intrude, I just wanted to tell you the police are on their way over there.”

Diya looked down at Melody who was already sleeping so got up slowly and she and Romanus stepped out. “Are they going to know you’re the one who tipped them off?”

“No, but they’ll probably call your cell once they find his body.”

Diya swallowed. “What do I tell them?”

“That I’m your boyfriend, that you’ve been here visiting me with Melody. Just let them know how shocked and horrified you are. I’m sure they’ll want to question you both in person, but it’ll be alright, I promise.”

“I can’t believe this is happening? What are we going to do?” She felt tears in her eyes again and Romanus hesitantly reached out, wanting to comfort her. He was a little surprised when she stepped into him and he hugged her.

“You two can stay here for as long as you need.”

“Thank you…I…I can’t stand the thought of what might have happened to her and she doesn’t deserve to be homeless. I promise, we’ll leave as soon as we can. I’ve saved a good bit of money. I wanted to have more so we wouldn’t end up right back where we started but” she was bawling too hard now for even Romanus to understand her so he just held her, hoping he was giving Diya any comfort at all. He tried to offer comforting words “Nothing happened and nothing ever will happen to her okay. I’ll always watch out for you two” He was surprised at his own words. He normally didn’t stick to watching one particular family once the threat was gone but he felt a need inside him to protect the two of them.

Even when they left his home he knew he wouldn’t be able to help going to check on them every now and then, making sure they were living a secure life. Romanus stroked her hair and she slowly dried her tears “I’m so sorry” Diya said when she stepped back “its alright, you just love your little girl. It seems the two of you had already been through so much when that predator offered his help Diya nodded “but what we’ve been through is nothing compared to your past so don’t worry about us. I’ll try not to break down like that again”

“Cry as much as you need to, I don’t mind, it’s understandable. You’re scared of what happened to Melody and of being tossed out onto the streets, but I promise that no matter what, you won’t have to live like that again. I’m not much, but I hope we can be friends at least.”

She sniffled. “You’re too kind, thank you so much.” He gently stroked her hair again, unable to help himself. He started to say something else when her cell went off, startling her. She pulled it out and answered it. It was the police. They had apparently found her number on the list pinned to the refrigerator. She looked up at Romanus who gave her a reassuring smile. It wasn’t hard to act shocked at what they told her and she started crying all over again so Romanus had to take the phone from her. He spoke to the officer and suggested that they come to his home where both Diya and Melody could be comfortable while they talked. He thanked the officer after a few more minutes and hung up.

“They’ll be over tomorrow afternoon. They want to give you guys a bit of breathing room, but they want to make sure Melody’s okay.”

“They’re not going to take her are they?”

“No, of course not. You didn’t know and I won’t let that happen, I promise.” He handed her her phone. “Would you like to go relax or maybe something to drink? I could make you some tea and put on a movie?”

Chapter Two

“Tea would be so nice, a movie probably would too just so I can stop thinking about it.”

“Come look at the different teas I have. I have quite a few so I’m bound to have one you particularly like”

“You must drink it a lot then” she said as he began to guide her “It’s calming for me, sometimes I need it to continue my work. Going through those sites can be hard. Tea is also the calm that helps me wait to normally make things like that a case for the missing person department” They were soon at the cabinet he kept his tea. She looked them over, deciding on black cherry. He took it down and spoke again “I actually have some cake in the fridge that goes really well with this”

“do you want some too? I can cut off a slice for each of us”

“sure”

It made Romanus feel normal making tea and sitting down to cake and a little awkward as he wasn’t really sure what to talk about. They sat there for a few minutes in silence until Diya asked, “So, do you do anything outside of catching bad men?”

“Not really, I read, but I don’t really have any friends and as far as family, well…you know.”

“Yeah, sorry.”

“Please don’t apologize. If there’s anything you’d like to do though, please let me know. I’ll take you anywhere.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“I want to. Besides, friends hang out right? I’m sure you don’t want to spend all day every day in here.”

“That would be really nice” Diya felt the smallest pang of happiness at the thought. She got along with the people she worked with and had acquaintances but Romanus would be the first real friend she had had outside the internet in a long time. They actually stayed there in the kitchen with their tea and cake instead of going to watch a movie right away. Diya was curious about her daughters savior and Romanus found himself more and more curious about this beautiful human woman and her daughter. He kept the topics light despite his curiosity of how a woman so obviously kind and warm could end up so alone that her only place to stay was with a complete stranger.

He had only been watching for about two weeks and only just started talking to her today but he had always been able to tell what sort of being everyone was when he met them. It was an intuition he guessed he had been born with or was brought to him by abuse since he had read in several books a common trait abused beings acquire is the ability to read others. He knew Diya was a good woman and good people didn’t deserve to be so desperate someone like that man could take advantage.

Diya was starting to worry she had done or said something wrong. His face seemed a little more serious now so she spoke “Um…would you like to pick a movie now?” He gave her a small smile that settled some of her anxiety. “sure”

She followed him into the living room and he gestured to one of the bookshelves. “Those are all the dvd’s I have, but I also have Netflix and Hulu if you want to look on there instead.”

“Thank you.” He nodded and she looked through his movies, pulling down Tropic Thunder. “Is this okay?” She asked. “I kind of need funny right now.”

“Whatever you want, Diya, I want you comfortable and happy.”

“But you’ll be watching too.”

“Whatever it is, I know I’ll enjoy it.”

She gave him a smile and for a moment he was frozen by how it lit up her face, how her eyes seemed to dance with amusement. “You’re easy to please aren’t you?”

“Yes.” He managed, trying to get his heart under control. What was wrong with him? “Would you like more tea before we sit down?”

“If you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.”

Romanus was glad to have a reason to walk out and take a moment. Another being had never made him feel like that before. Due to his childhood he had spent his life not even thinking he would be capable of having a relationship but somehow, this woman he had only just met was making him feel something. He poured each of them more tea, took a couple calming breaths and returned to her. Diya already had the movie in. It was playing through the commercials before you get to the main menu “thank you” she said gratefully as she took her cup “you’re welcome” he wanted to sit close so he did his best to be near her without being uncomfortably near her on the couch.

It felt good to sit there and laugh, to just for a few moments forget everything that had happened. Romanus had to force himself to keep his eyes on the TV. Her beautiful laughter caused his heart to dance and every time she accidentally nudged him he felt his skin heat. When the movie was over, she let out a little sigh and actually dropped her head on his shoulder and he swallowed nervously. “Is this alright?” She asked.

“Yeah, of course.” He didn’t know how he managed to sound so normal.

“I’m just tired. Thank you for being so sweet.”

“It’s nothing, really. Would you like to go to bed?”

“I should, I don’t want to, but I know I need to.” She had her eyes closed. “You just…make me feel so safe.”

“Come on Diya, let’s get you to bed.” He got her to her feet and lead her to the room Melody was sleeping in. “My room is right next to yours so if you need me, please come and get me or call for me and I’ll come running.”

“Thank you again, Romanus.”

He wanted to thank her in return for making him feel this way but he knew it would sound weird. He also didn’t want to explain it quite yet. Her daughter was almost raped not twenty four hours ago, turning her world upside down. She needed a friend and he’d be that as long as she needed. “I hope you rest well” Diya hugged him, lingering in it before going to lay with her soundly sleeping daughter. Romanus went straight to his own room and settled in for the night. He often had nightmares but she had brought him so much calm that it was her that occupied his dreams, not the attackers of his youth. It was only when Melody dropped a glass in the kitchen the next morning that he woke. He didn’t know what had happened at first so he raced out, worried about the two of them.

Melody looked almost scared of him “I’m sorry” he looked at the floor where she stood “oh, no, it’s alright. I was just worried something happened. Dish’s are easily replaceable”

“go sit down Melody, I’ll clean that up”

“yes mam”

“No, I’ll clean it” Romanus said now that he noticed she was cooking “are you sure? I feel kind of crappy having you clean up one of your dish’s that we broke”

“she is little, it happens and you’re making breakfast. It will only take me a moment and I don’t want either of you getting cut”

Melody looked like she felt bad as she sat waiting for breakfast and once Romanus was sure he had every sliver off the floor and dumped in the trash he went and squatted down in front of her, giving her a gentle smile. “Did you see how many glasses I have, Melody?” She nodded. “So one broken one isn’t so bad, it’s okay, I promise. Glasses can be easily replaced, all I have to do is go to the store.”

“Okay.”

He stood back up and turned back to Diya, his face heating when he realized he was being watched. “Um, would you like me to pour drinks?”

Diya snapped to attention. She had been so amazed by how good Romanus was with Melody that she had gotten distracted. “Oh, yeah, thanks.”

“It’s no problem, really.” He pulled down two coffee cups and another glass for Melody. “Are you ready for the police today?”

“Yeah, I was explaining to Melody that we’re going to have to not tell them about you saving her. I hate having to make her lie, but I know I have to.”

“I know, but once you’re in the clear, then you can start over without worry.”

Diya concentrated on breakfast, not wanting to let her mind wander again through all the things that might have happened to her daughter because she had been too blind to see that she was living with a pedophile. She served all three of them some then sat down, readying herself to talk to the police. Once the cops arrived at Romanus’s home they all sat in the living room, Melody in Diya’s lap. The cops were gentle with Diya and Melody as they questioned them, obviously feeling bad for them based on what they had discovered so far. When the meeting came to an end the older cop gave Diya a card “Although he didn’t assault Melody, some kids can still struggle emotionally based on the pictures he made her pose for. Call us if she’s having any trouble, we know a good kids psychiatrist”

“we’re glad you two weren’t in the home the night he was murdered.” the younger officer added. They left and Diya felt relief “they believe us, yay!” Melody said cheerfully. Diya kissed her head “thank goodness they do.” she looked at Romanus “I’d hate for your kindness to be repaid by them taking you off to jail”

“lets do something fun. You two shouldn’t think about this any more”

“can we go to my favorite park?” Melody asked.

Diya looked at Romanus. “Of course.” He answered.

“Would you mind taking me to the store so I can get us some cookies or something? I think we need something sweet after all that.”

“How about we go to a bakery, I’ll buy you whatever you want.”

“Romanus, you don’t have to do that.”

“I want to, please?”

She smiled and his heart danced. “Alright.”

Diya helped Melody get ready as Romanus waited nervously, trying to process his emotions. He had never felt such warmth, such kindness, he had never felt anything but fear and shame, but with Diya he felt so normal, like he wasn’t a freak, like he wasn’t tainted.

His day out with them only cemented in his heart that he needed Diya and her little girl in his life. He truly had fun, even when he was just sitting with Diya as Melody ran around playing. Romanus noted “she’s such a bright little girl”

“Both in mind and spirit. I haven’t given her the best start but I just know she’s going to be great when she grows up.”

“You’re a loving mother, that’s as good a start as anybody needs” Diya blushed, not knowing what to say. Eventually she asked “Until I find a sitter for Melody while I work would you mind keeping her. My next shift is tomorrow”

“I wouldn’t mind at all”

“thank you so much”

“It’ll be good for me not to be alone so much”

“and you were a natural earlier. I could see how upset she was and scared when she broke something but you settled all her concerns”

“well…I want more than anything for you two to be comfortable in my home” Diya blushed again at his words. The next day was Diyas first shift and she was surprised just how alright Melody was about being left with a man after their last host “so you’re sure mommy can leave you with Romanus?”

“Yeah, he’s really fun” Diya gave her daughter a gentle smile, a kiss then hurried off, not wanting to be late and miss any tips.

“Is there anything you would like to do, Melody?” Romanus asked.

“Could I watch cartoons?”

“Sure, does your mom have a limit? Is an hour or two okay?” Melody nodded and he went and switched the TV on, going to Netflix and finding something he though was appropriate for her age. “Do you want a snack?”

“Please.” He surprised himself when he actually chuckled and went into the kitchen. He got her a bowl of yogurt with bananas and took it back to her.

Eva smiled happily as she worked, doing her best not to worry. She knew Melody was safe, but she couldn’t help it. She wanted to call Romanus on her break, but she had forgotten to ask for his number. She sighed, knowing she should have, especially when they were supposed to be pretending to be a couple. Her cheeks warmed at the idea and she took a deep breath. He was kind and sweet, but she was sure he wouldn’t appreciate his guest throwing herself at him, especially after all he’d been through.

That night she made sure to get his number and put it in her phone then asked “how was she today?”

“very well behaved”

“good”

“He’s the best babysitter” Melody said and Diya smiled. They all talked happily and the next weeks went by faster than Romanus could have imagined time was able to go. Diya mentioning looking at apartments was the first time since they first came reality hit again they might leave him “You…you found something…” he looked as heartbroken as he felt, unable to contain his emotion. “Hey, Romanus” she said comfortingly before hugging him “whats wrong” He was scared to tell her but he did “I…I dont want you two to go”

Diya could barely believe her ears “…what…”

“I feel happy…for the first time in my life I enjoy living and it’s because of you two” His words touched Diya and she emotionally said “we like it here too…I was only looking to not be a burden”

“Please stay”

“Okay” That day Diya offically gave up looking for another home and started looking at Romanus as a truly permanent part of their lives. She had grown completely in love with him but despite his words she still wouldn’t pursue anything romantic unless he tried first. Too many people had put their wants first when it came to him and she wasn’t going to be on that list. She hoped one day he would confess romantic feelings and ask for more but until then, she looked forward to sharing a home with him.

~ The End

Lillie & Cory 3

Chapter One

Lillie sat in the bathroom of the studio she worked at, her eyes wide as she stared at the pregnancy test in her hands. Her heart was beating quickly in her chest, equal parts excitement and fear. Was she even cut out to be a parent? Would Cory be happy? It wasn’t like they had really discussed children in depth or anything. She wondered how her mother and brother would react. Would they be excited too? There was a tap on the bathroom door and she nearly dropped the test. “Lillie, are you okay in there?” Her best friend and co-worker’s voice brought a measure of calm to her.

“Yeah, just a second.” She said back as she capped the test and wiped it off. She then washed her hands and unlocked the door, slowly pulling it open. “Can you come in here please?”

“Are you alright, you look a little pale.” Destiny asked, concerned.

“Yeah, I think so.” She gave her a weak smile as she let her in. “It’s…it’s this.” She handed her the test and she started to yell in excitement, but managed to stop herself, quickly closing the door.

“Oh my god.” She whispered. “Is this real?”

“Yes.”

“Oh my god, congratulations.” She hugged Lillie. “No wonder you’re always so exhausted.”

Lillie blushed. “Come on Des.”

“Cory’s going to flip, good flip I mean.”

“Really?”

“Totally, this is amazing. Don’t show anyone else until you show him. You should surprise him, make it special.”

“Like what?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you out. This is so exciting. Do you need anything?”

“I think I’m okay.”

“Are you sure? I’ll run out and literally get you anything as long as it’s something possible.”

“How about those milkshakes you and I love so much?”

“Coming right up!” Destiny seemed so cheerful about this it made her a little more confident about talking to Cory. She knew lack of confidence often had her thinking things she shouldn’t so if her friend thought Cory would be happy, she’d trust his heart would be filled with nothing but love when she told him. Destiny had apparently spent the entire time she was away thinking up ways Lillie could tell Cory the amazing news. She started rambling off different things including special ordering chocolates that would read “You are going to be a daddy” or special ordering an infant onesie reading “hello dad” with a little note reading along the lines of “The only thing better than having you as a husband is knowing our baby will have you as a dad.”

“Wow, your mind was really going.”

“Yeah, the internet while I was waiting on our order helped too.”

Destiny gave her more ideas as they worked until Lillie had decided to just take multiple ideas and put them together. “I think I want to get Oscar involved, maybe get him a little sweater that says baby’s guard cat or something.”

“That would be so cute. What about something football related, he played in high school.”

“I bet he’d like that and I could buy some books for him to read to the baby.” She rested a hand on her stomach. “I can’t believe I’m actually pregnant, I mean I can, but I can’t. Does that make sense?”

“Yes.” Destiny said with a giggle, then lowered her voice. “But to be fair, you two do go at it like…”

“Destiny, be good.” She laughed as her face turned bright red.

“Hey that’s a good thing, it keeps things alive and shows how beautiful he thinks you are.” Lillie’s blush became brighter, causing Destiny to giggle. “So you going to keep working?”

“Yeah, I love my job. I mean, I’ll probably take at least two weeks off when they are born, but I plan to keep working.”

“Cool, I’d miss seeing you so much otherwise. I’m planning your baby shower by the way.”

“Oh, I don’t need a baby shower.”

“Sure you do, every new mom does. I hear it’s fun to make the registry too.”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Getting rid of my anxiety.”

“You know it’s not a problem. I can’t wait to hear how Cory reacts.”

“Me too.”

Cory hummed along to the music in his ears as he fixed the issue with the bomb disposal robot. He put it back together, happy when he booted it up and moved it around and it worked. He switched it off, turning off his iPod and then checking his phone. Lillie was supposed to be getting off work soon and he wanted to make dinner for her. She had seemed so exhausted lately and he wondered if she was overworking herself. He switched off the robot then went to let the technician know he had found the issue.

“You’re a lifesaver man, literally. I feel stupid not being able to figure it out.”

“You would have had to take it completely apart to find it. There were some wiring issues, but it’s working perfect now.”

“Well thank you.”

“No problem, I’m always around to help” Cory walked out to his car and drove to the store, picking up everything he would need for one of her favorites, herb-garlic crusted flank steak with pan-roasted grapes. He also planned to make something he particularly liked which was roasted butternut squash and shallot soup. He quickly found the ingredients then happily drove home to begin preparing their amazing meal. Lillie had felt a little nauseous from the drive home, but when she walked inside and the smells of dinner hit her nose that all fell away and her stomach rumbled with desire for what he was preparing. “Cory, you started dinner.”

He walked away from the stove to hug her. “You always seem so tired. I wanted to treat you.”

“Thank you, let me help, please?”

“But its a treat.”

“At the risk of sounding corny it’s a treat to do anything with you so dinner will still be something sweet from you.”

“Alright baby, but I really don’t mind.”

“I know, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Lillie kept thinking about the baby as she helped him cook, wanting to tell him, but managing to keep herself from saying anything. She was going to order everything tonight once he was asleep and have it sent to Destiny, that way they could wrap everything without him accidentally picking them up. “You seem far away.” Cory said when they were finally able to set down.

“Sorry, just thinking about a project I’m working on.”

“Stressful?”

“Just a lot of work. How about you?”

“I got to work on another bomb disposal unit. I’ve been thinking of trying to develop one, see if I can make any improvements.”

“You should.” She yawned. “Sorry.”

“Are you sure you’re alright? You’ve been so tired lately.”

“I’m fine, I promise.”

“I can take you to a doctor”

“No, really, I just need a good nights sleep okay?”

“Alright.”

It was sweet how concerned he was, but she definitely didn’t want to end up at a doctors office. She had plans and he only had to wait a little while longer. Once dinner was ready they sat down and enjoyed it. Everything was delicious. “Thank you for going to the store for all this.”

“Maybe a good meal will help too my love.”

“Yeah.”

“I love you so much Lillie.”

“I love you too, I’m truly fine.”

After dinner they cuddled on the couch and watched a movie until Lillie started yawning and Cory insisted they go to bed. They showered, him insisting he wash her and she let out a little moan as he massaged her back and thighs. “Be good, baby, you need rest.” He said as he ran his hands over her to rinse the soap off.

“I’m really alright.” She took her turn washing him. “I’m just a little exhausted, it happens.”

“Still, I don’t want to wear you out.”

A blush tinted her cheeks and he chuckled. “You’re so mean.”

“Sorry, it’s just you still act so shy, it’s cute.” He brushed a kiss over her lips. “It’s not my fault is it, you being so tired?”

Kind of. She thought, but she said, “No, not really.”

“Don’t be afraid to tell me to back off, you know I will. I love you.”

“I love you too, now stop worry so much silly, you’ll stress yourself sick. If anything changes, I’ll tell you.”

Once they were finally in bed and wrapped around one another she realized what a struggle it would be to stay up until he went to bed. In Cory’s arms like this she felt so safe, so loved, like nothing bad could ever touch their lives. It was a blissful feeling that made her eyelids heavy. The comfort did it’s best to make her fall asleep, but she managed, carefully moving him away from her before getting out of bed to use the computer. The house felt frigid suddenly without him around her so she glanced back at him and smiled, feeling like an incredibly lucky woman to be so loved merely sneaking away for maybe an hour seemed like such a mission to her.

Lillie dared to kiss his cheek then hurried over to the computer where she turned on the screen, smiling again at the picture of the two of them. She couldn’t wait to set it to a picture of her little one and in time, a picture of the three of them. She typed in their password then opened up their browser, quickly making her purchases so she could hurry back to bed. She had selected next day shipping to minimalize the risk of Cory seeing their bank account and asking questions before she could surprise him the way she intended.

Lillie carefully coaxed Cory into laying with her how they were before she left and sleep instantly took her. When she woke to him gone it only startled her when she realized he wasn’t in their home at all. She went for her phone, relaxing a bit when she saw texts from him. She opened them. “I am bringing you something special. Don’t worry, I figured it was safer to text my message than leave a note the cat might drag off.”

 

Chapter Two

“Hear that Oscar, he doesn’t trust you at all.” The cat blinked his eyes open and lifted his head, letting out a little meow from where he was curled up on the bookshelf. She smiled as she got up, pulling on a pair of sweats and a tank top then twisting her hair into a bun. She headed to the kitchen, Oscar trailing behind her and put on a pot of coffee then went and grabbed one of her sketch books off the shelf Cory had bought just for her to store them on. She sat down on the couch, her pencil moving over the first blank page she could find. She sketched two cute little teddy bears and used her color pencils to make one blue and one pink. She wondered which they would have and what they would name him or her. She was thinking so hard, she didn’t even hear Cory come in until Oscar jumped up into the middle of her sketch book and she quickly closed it.

“Hey baby.” She said.

“Hey, close your eyes real quick.”

“Okay.” She closed them and he walked past her and into the kitchen.

“Okay, but stay there.”

“Alright.”

She heard him set his bags down and grew excited, what could he have gone out for so early in the morning? He came back into the room. “Can I open them yet?”

“Just a few more moments my love.” When he allowed her to open her eyes he had set his surprises on the couch. “So the food may be confusing, but I was up a lot last night and decided to research things that are good for people who are having low energy problems. So I bought your favorite kinds of nuts, some yogurt and you love salmon anyway. Not only is salmon good for your heart, but it’s also high in protein, vitamin B6, niacin and riboflavin.”

She laughed. “You were reading internet articles?”

He chuckled. “But I didn’t want to just bring home food so I bought some of your favorite pods for our Keurig and a few of the shirts I’ve seen you look at. I thought me doing something just to make you happy might help with your energy too.”

“Cory, I really love you, you know that?” She hugged him and he pulled her tightly against him.

“I love you too.” He pulled back, his hands coming up to frame her face. She smiled and his heart gave a little stutter. “I love you more than anything. Start feeling better okay?”

“I will.”

He pressed a kiss to her lips then took the food and coffee to the kitchen. “How about I make you something to eat.” He said.

“If you want to, I can help.”

“You just stay there and relax.”

She smiled at how sweet he was and pressed a hand to her belly. She couldn’t wait to tell him, she was so nervous, but she couldn’t wait to see how happy knowing she was pregnant would make him. She grabbed her phone and shot a text to Destiny about the packages, asking her to let her know when they arrived so they could wrap them together. Destiny texted back immediately and Lillie let out a little laugh at all the exclamation points.

In this moment, Lillie couldn’t think of any way her life could be better. Oscar jumped up, nuzzling against her belly. He undoubtedly knew since animals seemed to just sense pregnancy. Lillie felt their little ball of fur was going to make the best guard cat. She got lost in her head as she stroked Oscars fur and scratched him all the places he liked best. When Cory was done cooking he brought her food to the couch then said, “Get down Oscar, let Lillie enjoy her breakfast.”

“What is it?”

“A recipe I found last night. It’s called crème fraîche scrambled egg and smoked salmon sandwiches.”

“It looks amazing, please tell me you have a plate too.”

“Yep, I’ll be right back with it.” He soon came back with his own plate and glasses of orange juice for each of them.

“This is amazing, baby.” She said, happy that she hadn’t yet developed any sort of nausea. She knew if she started throwing up, he would insist she go to the doctor, even if she tried playing it off as the flu.

“How about I cook for you every day until you feel better.”

She laughed. “I’m fine, really, you don’t have to. Everyone gets tired sometimes.”

“I know, but I can still take care of you.”

“You have to at least let me help you, I don’t want you to do all of the cooking. You work just as hard as I do, probably harder since you’re always repairing things.”

“It’s not that hard, mechanical engineering is a lot easier than you’d think.”

“I think that’s just because you’re such a genius. Really Cory, I can still help.”

“Alright, alright, but if you get too tired tell me, don’t push yourself.”

“I will, I promise.”

When Destiny texted to let her know the packages were there she had been smart enough to pretend she was having family problems and needed emotional support, just in case Cory was near her when her phone went off. Destiny knew that even for a surprise Lillie wouldn’t want to lie to Cory if he asked what she was reading, this way she could be honest and get over there by herself. Lillie, for a good show, pulled ice cream out of the freezer and a new bottle of wine of a shelf. She could give them to Destiny as a thank you anyway so it worked in many ways. Cory kissed her goodbye and waved her off from the porch until the home he shared with her was out of view.

It wasn’t a long drive so soon she was at her friends door, hugging her tightly. “Nice touch with that message.”

“I didnt want to risk ruining the surprise. What’s in the bag?”

“Ice cream and wine, thought bringing it would be a good touch.” Destiny giggled, being her ever bubbly self.

Lillie ate ice cream while they wrapped, leaving the wine to Destiny and chatting happily about the baby and how she would surprise him. “You should set everything up while he’s sleeping so he has the is it Christmas already, reaction.” Destiny said with a laugh. “I bet he’ll look so surprised.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“You have to get a picture of his face.”

Lillie giggled. “I definitely will.”

“I’m so jealous. Why can’t he have a really hot older brother?”

“But he’s already really hot.” Lillie said with a blush.

“You know what I mean and of course he is, that’s how our sweet little jelly bean happened.” She teased.

Lillie covered her face. “You’re so mean.”

“I can’t wait to see what the little one looks like, I wonder if he or she will have his eyes. Oh and your hair.”

Lillie stayed about an hour after everything was wrapped then put Cory’s surprises in her trunk. She knew it would be out of sight there since there really couldn’t be any reason for him to just walk out and check the inside of it. The girls hugged, Destiny expressing her excitement yet again before Lillie drove home to Cory who was at their computer. “Hey honey.” He said as he walked over to kiss her.

“Sorry”

“Your friend needed you, it’s alright.”

“Is there anything you’d like to do?”

“Well with no energy I think a good day of rest will be just what you need so let’s play a board game or cuddle and binge something.”

“Alright, maybe we can agree on something on Hulu and maybe when dinner rolls around we could order Chinese?” He smiled, his eyes shimmering with such adoration she almost couldn’t breath. He picked her up, carrying her into their room to get Hulu started.

 

Final Chapter

She felt so comfortable and secure laying there in his arms, her head pillowed on his chest as they watched Treasure Planet. It was one of their favorite movies and Lillie couldn’t wait to watch it with their little one. Cory let his fingers brush gently through her hair and massage her scalp, causing her to relax completely and let a little moan push past her lips. He chuckled as he tipped her head back and kissed her, smiling against her lips. “Feeling any better?”

“Now that I’m actually relaxing, yeah.”

“Good, I’m glad.” He gave her another kiss. “Once you’re finished with this project, you should ask for some time off. I’m sure your boss would let you, he doesn’t seem like an unreasonable person.”

She planned on it once she was further along. “I’ll think about it.”

“You know I’ll beat him up if he’s working you too hard.” He teased.

She giggled. “Cory, be good.”

“I’m kidding. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They spent the rest of their day relaxing and when morning came her deep desire to be up before Cory had her up and running out to her car, quickly taking everything out and bringing it into their room. She then decided to attempt a nice breakfast for the two of them. He had been going out of his way to make incredible meals for her lately, she wanted to return the favor before he was aware she was carrying a baby. Pregnant women cooked and even worked all the time, but Cory was so sweet, she knew he’d fuss. She turned to her phone, googling recipes involving ingredients she saw in her kitchen. She finally settled on throwing together scrambled eggs, fresh corn, goat cheese and tomatoes since they both adored that, but seldom actually made it. She felt he deserved a side too and pulled everything out for ham biscuits with red-eye gravy. He had made it for them before, but this would be her first stab at it.

Things seemed to be coming together perfectly and she couldn’t have been more proud of herself as she put it all on a plate then a large tray to take up to him. Last she made him a large cup of coffee, preparing it just how he liked it and setting that in the tray as well. Quietly she reentered their room, setting it on the dresser before waking him with a kiss. “Mm.” He sounded happy and she smiled.

“I brought up breakfast.”

“Is that code for you?” He said as he pulled her down, his arms going around her and holding her close. His lips found hers, his hand sliding up to the back of her head.

She giggled and he pulled back with a questioning look. “Not me, actual food and something else.”

“Oh?”

“You have to let me go if you want it though.”

“If I must.” He replied with a smile. She gave him another kiss and moved off the bed as he sat up. “What’s all this?” He asked when he saw the presents.

“It’s a surprise, but you have to eat first.” She sat the tray on his lap then sat down next to him.

“This looks amazing. How are you feeling?”

“Better so don’t worry.”

He kissed her cheek. “Thank you for this.”

“You’ve cooked so much for me lately. I was excited to get a turn treating you.”

He was eager to see what was inside all this wrapping paper, but he still took the time to savor his breakfast, immensely enjoying it. He finished before she did, but Cory still waited. “I can open them now?”

“Yeah.” She felt a little breathless, a small tinge of worry about his reaction building back up inside of her. He ended up opening the guard cat gift first and he got it before touching anything else.

“Are you…this is real?”

“Yeah, I’m pregnant, a good ways along too.” He looked like he might cry as he hugged her.

“Lillie. Oh my gosh. How long have you known?”

“We’ll talk once you open everything else. I’m excited for you to see.”

Cory adored the little football onesie with the words “Daddy’s little quarterback” written on the front. The books were adorable and he couldn’t help but take a moment to leaf through them, wishing their little one was already here so he or she could enjoy them. There was also a box of chocolates that he almost didn’t want to eat. He sat everything aside and took her face in his hands and kissed her. “You’re happy.” She said, feeling relieved.

“Of course I am, why wouldn’t I be?” He replied softly, gently stroking her cheek. “I’m going to be a dad, I’m really going to be a dad.”

“I was so nervous.” She teared up a little and he gave her another kiss.

“Don’t be, I’m ecstatic. Thank you, baby.” He smiled. “Not that I’m surprised.”

She blushed. “You and Destiny, I swear.”

He chuckled and hugged her tightly. “I’m glad you being tired wasn’t because you were sick. We need to make an appointment, I want to make sure our little one’s healthy, that you’re healthy.”

“We can find somebody now and set a date to go in.”

“Alright, let me bring the laptop in here.” Cory happily got up, searching in their closet for the bag that contained their laptop. He pulled it out and settled on the bed with her, reading reviews of places their insurance covered until a place seemed perfect for them. They called, surprised when they had time for her that day. Lillie glanced at the time, astounded she’d be hearing her little ones heartbeat in only two hours.

“How are we supposed to wait two hours?” She said and he chuckled. “Let’s put that outfit on Oscar and take some pictures. I know we shouldn’t upload them yet, but that’ll be a fun way to spend some time.”

“Okay.”

Oscar was a good sport about being put in a shirt and made little meowing and chirping sounds when they started taking pictures on him. “Sit still silly.” Cory said, scratching the cat’s head.

Once they got a few more pictures they let him go about his business and they looked them over, smiling at how cute he looked. “What a sweet boy.” Lillie said. “Do you think he’ll like the baby?”

“Of course, he’s a good cat, I doubt he’ll be jealous. Curious, but not jealous.” He pressed a kiss against her lips. “I wonder what your mom’s going to think.”

“She’ll probably be stressed. She’s not as bad as she used to be, but I’m sure she’ll worry.”

He smiled as he took her in his arms and kissed her then pressed their foreheads together. “You’re going to be an awesome mom.”

“Really?”

“Yeah and any time you’re scared or unsure, I’ll remind you how amazing you are.”

He laid her back on the couch, causing her heart to flutter when he lifted her shirt. He smiled as he leaned down and pressed a kiss to her abdomen. “You be good for your mother.” He said softly. “I can’t wait to meet you.”

They both left their home eager for the appointment when it was time. The OB/GYN office felt comfortable and even had a little kids playing area for children whose mothers weren’t doing this for their first time. Another relief was how friendly the staff was, they even went ahead and let her head back before Cory was completely done with the paper work. It wasn’t too much later she was hearing her baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Tears welled in both their eyes, especially when they were told they were having a little girl. Hearing all this made it truly sink in she was going to be a mother. Their next stop was to see her mom and then they let her brother know. Everyone was incredibly happy for them. Lillie knew this baby was going to grow up incredibly loved and that gave her a burst of assurance. They would be raising a child and she felt they would grow up to be something incredible with all this love and good people in their life.

~ The End

Nila & Guy 2

Chapter One

Guy walked at a leisurely pace down the road between home and one of the major cities. It was one of the biggest trade routes and had been plagued by bandits of late. His father and cousin covered his flank and all three of their senses were wide open, taking in every smell and sound. The sound of rustling brush on either side of them caught their attention, but they continued onward, pretending like they were nothing more than travelling merchants. They had disguised themselves accordingly, not wanting the bandits to realize who they were attacking. When the leader stepped out into their path, they all came to a stop, standing tall even when bandits circled them.

“We’ll be asking you to hand over your bags now.” The leader said.

“If you want them,” Guy said as all three of them dropped their packs on the ground, “then take them.”

The leader laughed, his men joining in. “Looks like we have us a band of heroes boys. You know what to do.”

Guy pulled the scarf wrapped around his head and face off as he moved forward, wrapping the cloth around the face of the first of his attackers and slamming him into another. He wanted to end this quickly and return to Nila. She had so much responsibility these days and he wished to take as much of the burden as possible, especially since she was pregnant. He knew what stress could do to his pups and he refused to risk them or her. He was sure she wasn’t resting as he had suggested, so hard working and stubborn, his beautiful, beloved mate. He would have to think of something to do for her when he returned.

They handled the bandits easily, making the road clear for people to travel safely. Guy tied them up and his father dragged them behind so they could lock them in jail for their crimes. They’d be further marked up by path, but they had hurt and stolen from so many people the wolves didn’t care and didn’t want to waste their efforts carrying them all the way back. His father spoke when they were near home, “I’ll take care of these miscreants, you go find your mate son.”

“Thank you.”

“She’s carrying my grandpups and I know she doesn’t rest unless you make her so hurry up.”

Guy ran off, only slowing when he entered the castle. He followed her scent, finding her in yet another meeting. Seeing him home she wrapped it up then asked, “How did it go? You don’t have a mark on you.”

“My father is locking them away as we speak. The way will be clear now for your people.”

“Thank you.”

“Anything to make your life easier. Speaking of which, come with me to our room, I’ll massage you.”

“Still worrying about me?” She asked with a loving smile.

“Always, especially since you’re carrying twins.” He reached up and gently tugged on the end of her braid. “You have so much responsibility, I just want to make things easier for you.”

“You go out and fight bandits and go on patrols, I just run meetings and sign papers.”

He rubbed their noses. “Keeping a kingdom running smoothly is much harder than what I do, trust me.” He picked her up and carried her to their room, hoping everyone in the castle knew to stay away unless it was absolutely necessary to interrupt them. He laid her gently down, unable to keep himself from pressing his lips into hers.

“I thought I was getting a massage.” She teased.

“There are many different kinds of massages.”

She laughed, rubbing their noses together. “Well maybe you’ll have to show me later.”

“Maybe, but first,” he said as he leaned back and pulled her feet into his lap, “let me rub you down.”

She smiled, soon feeling the tension of carrying twins and walking so much release from her feet. “Thank you Guy.”

“Thank you for giving me pups, I’m so eager to meet them.”

“These babies are the only thing that could possibly make my life more amazing. I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever.”

“I think that’s normal, especially for first time mothers.” He moved on to her legs, hating when she’d wince but kept on since he knew she’d feel better after. When he was done with her legs he laid down beside her. “Do you have anything else you’ll need to do today?”

“That meeting is the end of it.”

“Good.”

“Did you have any plans?”

“Just spending time with you.” He rubbed his nose in her hair, inhaling her scent. He let his hand slide over her belly, amazed at how rounded she already was. He tuned into their heartbeats, relieved that they sounded strong. “I miss you when I’m out working.” He let his lips brush her neck, grinning at the goosebumps that covered her skin. “I just want to come home and lose myself in you.”

“I miss you too.”

Her skin warmed and his lips moved up to her cheek then she turned her head so he could claim her lips. She turned fully into him and his hand cupped her breast, his thumb brushing her nipple through the soft material. Her breathy moan sent heat straight to his groin, hunger rising instantly in him for her. She was so much more sensitive in her pregnant state and had stopped wearing bras because they made her uncomfortable. Even though he enjoyed the easy access, he couldn’t help but feel a little jealous and territorial at the thought of other men knowing she was without one.

“I thought I was supposed to be relaxing.” She teased.

“You can’t relax under me?”

“Guy.” She giggled, her face bright red.

“Nila.” His voice was adoring and seductive, his hands gentle yet possessive as he slid them under her dress to squeeze her bottom. “Let’s go on a date, just us. It’s been awhile since we’ve actually been on one. I’ll take you anywhere my beautiful queen.”

“I’d like that a lot Guy.” He kissed her hungrily, his final attempt to seduce her. She smiled a moment then lost herself in the kiss. Guy could so easily seduce her, especially since he was amazing at making love. He kept it short and sweet, the two taking a nap together then heading for the library to find a good book to read together. On their way he said, “So our date, what should we do?”

“Hm, something far from the castle. That way work is far from our minds.”

“Alright, as long as you take traveling easy and allow me to carry you.”

“Of course I will.”

“Should we bring a healer just to be safe? I know you don’t like being fussed over, but if anything went wrong with our babies it would kill me.”

“One of the wolves then since they’re not, you know…”

“Shy?” Guy finished.

“Yeah, it’s not like they’d get too embarrassed about nudity or anything.”

He chuckled. “I’m surprised you’re not used to it. What are you going to do when the little ones are running around the castle naked, refusing to get dressed?”

“Hope I can catch them before they flash too many people.”

He laughed as he brushed a kiss to her cheek. “Maybe we’ll make you moon born and then you can be naked all the time.”

“Guy, stop being a perv.”

“I can’t help it, I love seeing you and feeling you, you’re the only one who can tame the beast.” He rubbed his nose against her ear, giving her goosebumps. “Thank you for letting me fuss. We’ll only bring the one healer, I promise. Let’s go somewhere beautiful and peaceful, there are a lot of lakes and waterfalls we can visit.”

After they had their book they prepared a fire, stoking it until it was burning bright and warming their library. Guy fetched a blanket as well which had her laughing. “Guy, its not freezing in here.”

“I want you comfortable my love.” They cuddled up to one another and Nila took the first turn reading out loud. Their night was peaceful and when Nila was sleeping Guy approached one of his wolves about coming with them the next day. “Sure, I’ll lay low too so it’s still like a date for you two.”

“Thanks.”

“We’re all eager to meet those pups. I’m honored to have the task of making sure she and the babies come home just as healthy as when they left.” Guy returned to his mate, pulling her into him protectively as he rested. The next thing Guy knew she was pushing away from him to rush to the bathroom, another wave of morning sickness hitting her.

He was close behind her, one hand rubbing her back as the other helped hold her hair back. The vomiting was one of the things he hated the most about her pregnancy. It came on so quickly, almost violently and the times she puked until she was dry heaving worried him the most. Once she had everything out and the toilet flushed, he helped her to her feet and she quickly brushed her teeth and washed around her mouth. “That sucked.” She said with a little laugh.

“Are you alright?” He lifted her and took her back to bed. “Want me to get the healer?”

She smiled. “Silly, just some water and crackers would be nice.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah and maybe you can see if we have some of that candied ginger.”

“Of course my love, anything you want.” She pulled him down for a kiss and he pressed their foreheads together for a moment before moving down to her belly and pressing a kiss to it. It nearly moved her to tears how sweet he was. “I’ll be right back.”

He hurried off to the kitchen. First he poured her a glass of water then grabbed a pack of crackers before searching the cupboards for candied ginger. Happiness rushed through him when he discovered some. He picked it up and began walking back to their room. “Oh you found some.” She said happily as she sat back up in bed.

“We’ll need more, but I was glad to find some for this morning.” She ate a few crackers, drank her glass of water then popped one into her mouth.

“You should tell the wolf coming with us we’re up.”

“Alright.” He kissed her temple then left the room again. By the time he returned she was dressed and ready to go. “I didn’t get to see you change, how unfair.”

She giggled, “Maybe that was to make sure we left this morning.”

He smiled, finding his own clothes he wanted to travel in and tugging them on. “Do you have an appetite?”

“Not yet, but I can sit with you while you eat.”

“I’ll make sure the cook packs you something light.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I want to.” He scooped her up and made his way to the dining room where their companion was already sitting and eating.” He smiled at them and gestured at the other plates sitting across from him. “I’ll take yours back real quick.” Guy said as he lowered her feet to the floor and pulled her chair out for her.

She smiled, shaking her head. “How are you feeling this morning, my queen?” The healer asked.

“I had a little morning sickness and please call me Nila uh…” She frowned. “I’m sorry, I’m drawing a blank on your name. I should spend more time with the wolves.”

“It’s quite alright, I am Galenos or Galen if you prefer, I was told it means calm.”

“It’s very nice to meet you then.”

Guy returned and sat down next to her, quickly pressing a kiss to her cheek before picking up his fork. “The cook says she’ll make you grilled chicken and salad to pack with us.”

“Thank you.” She rubbed her belly.

“If you like, once I’m finished eating, I can make you something for your morning sickness.” Galen said.

“Thank you, Galen, that way Guy doesn’t have to worry so much.”

 

Chapter Two

“It’s no trouble.” Galenos quickly finished his food then excused himself from the table.

“Thanks again Galen.” Nila said and he smiled.

“It wont take me long.”

When it was them she said, ” He seems so nice, I really want to spend more time with the wolves when we get back.”

“You wont be able to keep them away once our pups come.”

“I’d like to see them more before that though.”

“Alright, we will then. They adore you, they really do even though they haven’t seen you much. You’ve been an amazing leader. A few have expressed they are glad I found a good mate to help me if my parents ever want to step down and let me guide the pack.”

“Do you want that?”

He shrugged. “I’m happy just helping you and my dad keeps me very involved in what he does too so I don’t much care if things change. I don’t see them ever wanting to regardless, especially since they had to take such a long break from this life when we ran with your family.”

Nila frowned and he quickly wrapped his arms around her. “Sorry.”

“Hey none of that Princess Nila, it’s not your fault.”

She felt her face warm even as she giggled. He hadn’t called her that since she had been crowned. “Stop, I’m not a princess.”

“Oh sorry, Queen Nila, forgive your King, he’s a bit of a dunce.”

“Guy, you dork.”

He grinned as he brought her hand to his lips then pressed it to his chest where she could feel his racing heartbeat. It still amazed her that she did that to him. “That’s better, laughter suits you so much better than sadness.”

“You’re really the sweetest.”

When Galen returned, he was carrying a bag with two containers in it as well as a cup with steam curling off of it and a white ceramic container. “The cook said one of these had your chicken and salad in it and the other has pastries.” He sat the bag on the table then put the cup in front of her. “That will help with your nausea, I also made extra so you can drink while we’re gone, it’s tea.”

“Thank you.” Nila said as she lifted the cup and took a sip. “It’s good.”

“I’m happy to make it any time.”

“You could always teach me too.” Guy suggested and Galenos said, “Alright, when we get back I will.” They waited for Nila to finish her cup before they headed out and she found herself ready to eat about an hour later.

“I love our kitchen staff, this is so good.” She noted and Guy smiled. “I’m just happy to see you eating.” Nila glanced around, sighing happily as she took in her gorgeous, now peaceful land. There were problems here and there but nothing that her amazing wolf and his pack couldn’t manage. They lingered, even after she finished her meal. They weren’t in a hurry and she stayed so busy she didn’t often just get to sit in the beautiful world around her.

“Do you two have an idea of where you would like to go?” Galenos asked.

“Not really, we just wanted to go.” Nila answered.

“I guess we got a little ahead of ourselves.” Guy added with a chuckle.

“Why don’t we take her to Hiwot Valley.”

“What’s that?” Nila asked, curiously.

“It’s also called the Valley of Life.” Guy said. “Healers like Galen often travel there to collect plants that are out of season. Anything can grow there and it gives off a very warm, peaceful energy.”

“I was told that sometimes couples who were having trouble conceiving would go there.” Galenos added. “It’s an amazing place.”

“Then lets go.” She agreed happily. Guy helped Nila to her feet, keeping her hand so he could hold it as they walked. He wanted to carry her, but she looked so happy. He’d let her walk for a short time then he’d lift her. After awhile she laughed, knowing that look. “Just pick me up.”

“You wont mind.”

“It’s sweet that you want to so much and I suppose I shouldn’t wait until I’m actually hurting.”

“How’s your stomach?” Galenos inquired and she answered, “It’s fine, I’m lucky in the fact its mostly only a problem right when I wake up.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen some women just ill constantly from carrying babies.”

“They’re good little pups.”

“Do you know what their names will be yet?”

“We both just want to be inspired when we look at them.”

“Do you know the sex yet?”

Guy nodded. “Luol said a boy and a girl. I’m hoping the latter isn’t nearly as beautiful as her mother or might have to kill someone.”

“Guy, be nice.” Nila giggled. “She’s not even born yet. Besides, they’re both going to be strong.”

“I know, I just also know how some races view their women.”

“She’ll have you and her brother and an entire pack of wolves and even guards behind her.”

“She’s right, we’d tear someone to pieces if they hurt your children.” Galenos said.

“I wouldn’t think a healer would hurt anyone.” Guy replied, his tone teasing.

“I may be a healer, but I’m also a wolf and part of the pack, I would defend your pups with my life. I’ll also make sure to keep my supplies fully stocked for any accidents they might have.”

Nila didn’t know if Guy felt comforted yet, but she for one had absolute faith that both her children would grow up safe and happy. They would probably be the most well protected children in the land and incredibly loved. She would give anything for them to come today so she could have them in her arms if it would be safe for them. She would never wish them early, she hoped they’d stay inside her the entire time they needed to so they’d be healthy. Giving birth of course made her nervous too. It was hard to imagine humans could actually fit through there, but obviously they could, countless women before her had done this so she’d just trust nature to do it’s job when her water broke.

It was noon by the time they got to Hiwot Valley and Nila immediately let out a surprised gasp. She could feel the warmth coming off of this place. It tingled over her skin in a wave of serenity. “Has this really been here the whole time?” She asked as Guy lifted her.

“Since before we were born and even before our parents. As far as I know it dates back to even before there were beings inhabiting this place.” He answered then brushed a kiss to her temple.

“It’ll do you and the babies good to spend time here.” Galenos said. “The life giving energy will ensure the health of your pups.”

“Everything looks so much more vibrant and that’s saying something. Can we look around?”

“Of course we can baby, but would you let me rub your feet first. You walked all the way here, you must be sore.” Guy said with an almost pleading look.

She wasn’t, but Nila couldn’t tell him no when he was making that face. He was so loving and attentive. “Alright, sounds good.”

He seemed so happy and it touched her heart that he would feel so eager to do something solely for her comfort. He was always like that, but it never warmed her heart any less. He sat there and rubbed her feet until he was sure they didn’t carry the slightest amount of pain then went onward to enjoy the beauty they had traveled to. He wanted to see it all with Nila and hoped in some small way his pups were enjoying this too. Maybe they were enjoying the smells through their mother or maybe even her happiness due to being here was giving them comfort in her stomach.

“I’m going to set up my sleeping area in the trees on the other side of the valley so you two can have privacy while we’re here. I’ll also be gathering herbs so if you need me, please call for me.” Galenos said. “You two take your time here.”

“You don’t have to separate yourself.” Nila replied.

“Please, you two need to spend as much time together as you can. When the pups get here it will be awhile before you will want to leave them with anyone.”

“He’s right, my love.” Guy said as he brought her hand to his lips.

“And please don’t worry, I won’t avoid you two. I just know that you both work hard for our world so please spend time together.”

 

Final Chapter

With that Galenos walked over to the trees he was talking about so his sleeping area would be ready for him as soon as he was ready to rest for the evening. Guy ran his fingers down Nila’s arm. “It is good to have you to myself, mostly anyway for the moment.”

“What’re you thinking?” She asked, amusement in her voice.

He chuckled. “Nothing sexual my love.” he pulled her into his arms, giving Nila a long hug. “You’re my world Nila.”

“And you’re mine Guy.”

They cuddled together, hidden by the tall, soft grass, surrounded by the scent of sweet smelling flowers and the soft buzz of honey bees. Guy swept his fingers through her hair, reveling in its softness and the loving smile that pulled at her lips, lighting up her beautiful face. He loved moments like this where they could just be together uninterrupted. It didn’t happen often at the castle so he soaked up every second of it. He could hear Galenos moving around the other end of the valley and appreciated the healer giving them as much privacy as possible. He rested his hand on Nila’s belly and gently rubbed, hoping their little ones could feel how loved they were.

“What’s on your mind?” Nila asked softly.

“You and our pups. It’s nice getting this time with you. No meetings, no bandits, no one waking us up for any reason. Just us and this place.”

“And one very sweet healer.”

He chuckled. “I may get jealous at this rate if you keep acting so sweetly towards him.”

“Guy.”

“I’m kidding my love, I promise. Even if I do want to watch over and protect you, I know no other wolf could take you from me.” He snuggled closer, pressing their foreheads together. “How are you feeling?”

“Wonderful. This place is just so calming.”

“We should bring our children when they are old enough to enjoy it.”

“I’m sure even as babies it could bring them calm, it’s truly not that far from home. They just have to be old enough for us to camp.”

“There are so many good places we can take them to play and explore.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to think of names?”

“We can if you like.”

“I was just asking, I’m happy to see their faces first.” They talked to one another as they laid cuddled up until Nila fell asleep. Guy covered her up before kissing her head and settling down to rest with her. In the morning they gathered some eggs and soon had breakfast.

“I can’t believe I didn’t throw up this morning.” She said with relief.

Galenos smiled before he spoke, “Would you like more tea anyway? Just to be sure?”

“I should be fine.”

“If you change your mind, please say so.”

“I think being here has been helping honestly.”

“It’s all that healing energy. May I check the pups?”

“Of course.”

Galenos moved to sit next to her and rested his hand on her stomach. He closed his eyes, listening for their heartbeats and also feeling the life beneath his palm. He nodded, a smile pulling at his lips. “They’re very healthy and they seem to be enjoying this place.”

“That’s wonderful.”

“So, find any names that stuck?”

“Not yet.” Guy chuckled. “Not for lack of trying.”

“Well, if it helps any, the girl’s energy is wilder than her brother’s.”

Guy groaned. “Oh please no. Why can’t she be shy?”

Nila laughed. “Guy, be good.”

His expression only made her laugh more. She was delighted to hear her daughter had a wild energy. She couldn’t wait to experience life with her and their little boy. Now she only wondered what he would be like. He may be wild too, just his sister’s stood out more for now. She could see Guy stressing over the two now while they performed daring stunts around their world. They talked about the babies a lot that day and over the rest of their visit, even as they started home, hoping their journey back would be as uneventful as their journey there. Nila was glad they had finally had some alone time and wasn’t sure she wanted to jump back to work when they returned, maybe she’d take it easier until they pups came.

Guy stayed closer as the months passed, making sure she rested when she needed too. As she drew closer to the end of her pregnancy, he asked Galenos to stay in the castle and his wolf became more protective, sometimes even whining to him. Even his parents and cousin came, wanting to be there for the birth of the pups. She was in the middle of a meeting when she went into labor and his heart nearly exploded with her first contraction. Galenos was calm and collected, directing him to get her up to their room. He was grateful for the wolf’s help and would find a way to repay him. Abeni, Brogan, and Luol came to the room once they had been alerted and Abeni sent her husband and nephew to get towels, water, and blankets while she assisted.

Guy sat behind Nila, his fingers laced with hers so she could squeeze his hands through the pain. He brushed kisses to her temple, coaching her through each contraction and push. Brogan and Luol stood at the ready and as soon as the first of the twins was out, Abeni getting her breathing and crying while Galenos clamped and cut her cord, Brogan had her in his arms and took her to clean her up.

“You’re doing so good, Nila, can you hear our daughter?” Guy said softly. “Now our son and then you can rest my love.” He could tell Nila was already exhausted, but she was so strong and had their son out after a couple of pushes. The little boy was handed to Luol and Abeni and Galenos started the process of cleaning up. “You did it baby, I’m so proud of you.”

Brogan and Luol brought the little ones over and Guy helped her hold them. Nila started crying as she pressed kisses to both of their heads and Guy felt himself tear up at how beautiful they both were. Their little boy was smaller than his sister and quieter than she was. She fussed and made little crying sounds while he slept. “I think I like the name Shula for her.” Nila said softly.

“That’s beautiful baby.”

“What about for him?”

“Stellan. I think it suits him.”

“The pack is going to be so excited.” Brogan said.

“I’ll say a blessing over them when you two are ready.” Luol said. “I know you’re all exhausted.”

“You can while my mother and Galen are cleaning up.” Guy replied.

Luol began his blessing, his face soft as he admired the adorable new pups. They waited a few days then began showing off their babies to everyone in the pack and the area around who wanted to come spend time with the little ones. Still emotional from being pregnant not long ago it brought Nila to tears just how happy everyone truly was about her little ones. She knew they would always be well loved and protected. This first week was going amazing and she would treasure every moment to come being their mother.

~ The End

Julian & Lucius 4

Chapter One

“Do we really have to do this, I mean I have other family we could see.” Julian said as he walked side by side with Lucius, their fingers laced together.

“You said anything.” Lucius replied with a warm smile.

“Yeah, but I didn’t think you would pick my parents.”

“I’m sure your mother misses you.”

“It’s not my mother I’m worried about.” He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. “You know I could…”

“Don’t you dare use one of your tears to get out of this, you know I’d be pissed when you get back. I’ll cut you off if you do.”

Julian chuckled. “You wish you could.” He leaned in and pressed a kiss to Lucius’s cheek, grinning at how his heart raced. “See, that’s all it takes and you’re jello.”

“Shut up jerk, you can’t seduce your way out of this. I want at least your mother to meet me.”

“Alright, alright, just don’t be surprised if my dad says something stupid.”

“You know I’ll be fine. I’m one of those beings that I have to truly care about your opinion for it to bother me. Unless of course they are rude to you, then I’ll set them straight.”

“My entire pack sucks except my mother. Sometimes I feel it’s a shame wolves mate for life. She deserves better than that pack.” Lucius took his hand in hopes it would make his wolf feel better. It did, Julian held on tightly to his mate, hoping this all went at least okay. He knew good was completely out of the question but he could dream of a not wholly terrible visit. He took comfort in the fact his mate truly had the thickest skin of anybody he had ever known. It had been hard to even get into his heart when they first found each other so he knew Lucius really could take whatever his father did.

Julian became more tense as they drew closer to his parents home, every muscles was wound tight and ready in case he had to jump to his mate’s defense. He wasn’t surprised to find a couple of his father’s pack members wrestling on the front lawn and they both stopped as soon as they noticed him. The older of the two shoved the other one off of him and they both stood, dusting themselves of and meeting them as they crossed the yard. “Well, well, if it isn’t little Julian.” His eyes moved to Lucius. “And who is this?”

Julian moved in between them so the other wolf had no choice but to look into his eyes. “He’s my mate, I would move back if I were you.” The wolf growled, but Julian held his gaze, not intimidated in the least. “How about you tell me if my mom’s inside.”

The wolf huffed. “Yeah, making lunch. I’m sure she’s excited to see her wayward, homo son and his freak vampire lover.” Julian grabbed him by the throat and slammed him onto the ground to Lucius’s surprise. “You forget who you talk to, I might not spend every moment humping every female that looks at me sideways as some proof of manhood, but you can bet your ass I’ll send you into a dimension so dark not even your night vision will save you.”

“Julian, that’s enough, you made your point baby.” Lucius said as he rested a hand on Julian’s back. “Let’s just go in an see your mother.”

“You’re lucky today, Terry, if it wasn’t for him I would have made you apologize.”

The wolf didn’t even dare to growl as Julian let him go roughly and began walking with his mate inside. Julian’s father was sitting on the couch when they walked in. “Julian.”

“Father.”

“This is your mate?”

“Yes, his name is Lucius.” The wolf on the couch looked him over then went back to the magazine he had been reading so Julian guided his mate into the kitchen to see the one wolf around worth seeing. She was wiping off her hands when they entered so she wouldn’t get anything on them.

“Julian.” She said happily, a far different demeanor than everyone else.

“Hey mom.” He held her tightly, wishing deeply he could see her more without seeing the other wolves. She hugged Lucius next which surprised him even though he had heard so many pleasant things about her. “Welcome, I’m so happy he’s finally letting me meet you. I can tell how happy he is when I talk to him.”

“It’s nice to meet you too. I hope you’re well.”

“Very well, especially now. Lunch won’t be long. My name is Xin, in case my son hadn’t told you yet.”

Lucius smiled “I like that name, it’s really pretty.” These wolves had such bad attitudes he wondered how often she heard something nice so he wanted to compliment her and he truly did like her name.

“So, how was the trip?” Xin asked as she went back to cooking.

“Uneventful, but it usually is.” Julian answered.

“Staying out of trouble?”

“Define trouble.” She gave him a look and he cracked a smile. “The only trouble I get into is work related, but other than that, yes, I’m not doing anything illegal. Lucius would try killing me.”

“Try?” Lucius said.

“Yes, try because you and I both know it would be nothing but a tongue lashing.”

“I heard your scuffle outside with Terry.” Xin said.

Julian shrugged. “He was being rude, I just put him in his place.”

“I know you don’t get along with them, but please try not to get into any fights. I talked to your father too, hopefully it won’t get too out of hand. You know how he is and I can see what you’re thinking, I stay because I love him and he loves me, he’s never raised a hand to me.” She smiled lovingly at her son. “I know it’s hard for you, but I’ll try to help keep the peace.”

“Well I love you, I know nobody around here ever hits you..I just…I want you to be happy.”

“I know, you’re the best son a mother could have asked for.” They continued talking to his mother until food was served. His father joined and Julian was grateful no other wolves were coming to eat. It was nice eating his mothers cooking again. He had amazing meals with his mate and Uri, but there just wasn’t anything like eating a meal your mother made. He knew most people felt that way, people that grew up close to their mother anyway. His father was mostly silent as they ate but that was another win. His mother truly must have spoken to him because normally there would already be tension between them. It seemed silence was his way of trying to make things peaceful so Xin would be happy.

“So what is it you do again, Lucius?” Xin asked.

“Solve crimes dealing with the occult and preternatural. There’s generally some sort of magic involved, sometimes ghosts and demons, or shifters running amok.” He glanced at Julian.

“It’s how he met me mom, remember my old job?”

She sighed. “Not until after you had stopped.”

“I know, I know, but that how we met.”

“I can only imagine how that went.”

“He got upset when I pushed him into a clown.” Lucius said.

“Oh, I see.” She gave a laugh.

“What’s that all about anyway?”

Julian grumbled and Xin looked to Julian’s father. “Would you like to tell him, Ivan?”

“It may make our son mad at me all over again.”

“Oh Julian, that was years back, don’t hold a grudge alright?”

Julian sighed, “Just tell it dad. I guess my mate has been asking for the story long enough.”

“I was just trying to have fun with the boy. It was a little after Halloween so everywhere was clearance out costumes and I bought a few scary clown costumes along with one regular one. My Betas and I dressed up as the scary ones and we got another male to be the normal one. For about a week , the wolf with the normal costume would just pop up, in costume where my son was and then eventually we set it up to where one second he saw the nice looking clown and the next he saw the scary one holding a severed head, then of course my Betas joined me. He was never okay with clowns after that.”

“It was terrible and it scarred me for life. I started having nightmares. Anytime I saw one after it was like walking past hell personified.”

Lucius had to clear his throat to keep from laughing at such a dramatic description. “Now I feel really bad.” He finally managed to say. “What would you do if you walked into our room and I was dressed like a clown?”

“Send you through the same tear as last time.”

“Come now son, it wasn’t that bad. They’re just clowns.” Ivan said. “It could have been worse.”

“Worse would have been better. Those wigs and the faces.” He shivered. “I just can’t.”

“And I of course gave Ivan hell for it. Poor Julian was shaking and crying and when Ivan tried to explain to him that it was fake by showing him the masks he nearly hurt himself trying to get away. He was maybe ten at the time.”

“It wasn’t the most fun I ever had.” Julian added. “I guess if anything it taught me to run fast.”

“See, there’s a silver lining.” Ivan said.

“Oh yes, very silver dear.” Xin replied. “Anyway, that’s the clown story. So are you two planning on staying here?”

“If it’s not too much trouble mom, can we use my old room?”

“You know you don’t have to ask baby, that room will always be yours.” She cleared her throat. “Just um you know, keep it down.”

“Come on mom.”

“Well, you are an adult and you’re are mates.”

Julian glanced at his father who was looking at his plate and not saying anything even though Julian could tell he wanted to. “Yeah, alright.”

“Maybe after we eat we can look at some old photos. I’m dying to show your mate how adorable you were when you were little.” He really didn’t want to let her do that, but Julian could tell how happy it would make her and it was a normal thing for a mother to want to do.

“Okay but promise me you wont let him take any home with us. I don’t want his brother teaming up with him to tease me.”

Xin smiled, “I think Julian said you two were twins right?”

“Yes mam, we look basically identical. It’s why I have to wear this collar. Your son can tell us apart but besides him, nobody outside our family can.”

“Have you tried to trick him?”

“My brother tried once, just to see if he could, curiosity gets away with him sometimes, but Julian didn’t fall for it for a second. He should have known, wolves are hard to fool.”

“It’s more than just because I’m a wolf. You two are different, I’ve spent enough time looking at you to know without doubt who is who.”

“Like what?”

“The way you walk when you approach me, your brother doesn’t have that shy hesitation, your speech patterns are different and Uri never loses his temper. You should see him try to cross his arms like he’s irritated, he looks so awkward. Then there’s your scent, even though you’re identical, your scents differ. He even tried wearing some of your clothes, but it didn’t mask his scent and the fact mine wasn’t on him at all.”

Lucius blushed and glanced at Julian’s parents. “So how about we finish eating and I tease you for a bit.”

Julian chuckled. “Awe, but I’m enjoying how embarrassed you are.” Lucius shot him a little glare and Julian leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Alright, I’m sorry, I’ll be good.”

They continued to chat with his parents, mostly with his mother who included Ivan in the conversation when she wanted him to add to any storied she told. Lucius could see that Ivan was holding a lot back and he had to give him some credit for it. Julian had been worried his father would explode the moment he saw them together, but he was actually keeping his thoughts to himself. It wasn’t like Lucius didn’t get it. He understood that it was sometimes hard for people to accept that their child was gay, but Ivan hadn’t thrown them out or badmouthed them like the wolf outside had.

He knew he might get his head bitten off for it later, but he felt like he should point out how much his father was trying to Julian. If not for that relationship, for the relationship he had with his mother. If Julian didn’t feel so bitter when it came to his father they would come more and Lucius could tell it would make both him and Xin much happier. Lucius could see how badly Xin wanted this visit to go well so her son would come around more. His father would still be head of a pack of man whores and assholes but he knew if the relationship with his father could be mended the other wolves wouldn’t hinder Julian’s relationship with Xin.

 

Chapter Two

Once they were finished eating, Julian helped his mother clean up then he and Lucius sat down in the living room with Ivan while Xin went upstairs to grab the photo albums. Julian and Ivan were silent, not looking at each other and Lucius cleared his throat. “So, Ivan, you’re an alpha, that must be hard work.”

“Not particularly.” Ivan replied.

“You never have anyone fight you for your position?”

“Every now and then, but it’s easy to put them in their place. Wolf packs understand dominance and once you show the more wily of them that you won’t be pushed around, the others tend to fall in line.”

Lucius cracked a smile. “So that’s where Julian gets it.”

“Gets what?” Julian asked.

“That dominating nature of yours.”

Julian huffed. “I do not.”

“Found them.” Xin said as she came down and let her eyes move over all three of them. “What did you say to embarrass them so bad?”

“I’m not embarrassed.” Julian and Ivan said at the same time, causing both Lucius and Xin to laugh as she came down and sat next to Lucius.

“So, baby pictures first then?” She asked.

“Yes, absolutely.” Lucius replied as she flipped the first album open.

Julian was soon glad he hadn’t fought his mother when it came to showing his mate these pictures. Lucius looked so happy and it was rare for him not to look serious so while Lucius studied the pictures Julian just admired him. Xin seemed happy too as she talked about what was going on when she took each photo. Another note Lucius took was Ivan looked at Xin much like Julian looked at him and knew his mate probably didn’t see his parents relationship for what it was because he had such bad feelings towards his father. He knew he hadn’t grown up with them but Ivan did seem to love Xin quite a bit, just the way he looked at her said that clearly.

“He really does look a lot like, Ivan.” Lucius said when they got into the pictures of Julian’s teens. “I mean look at that scowl.”

Xin laughed. “That’s what I told him.”

“Come on you two, you don’t have to rub it in.” Julian said.

“But you look so cute.” Lucius teased and Julian arched an eyebrow.

“You just wait, I’ll show you cute. My parents can’t keep you safe forever.” He gave Lucius a devious grin.

“Hey, be good.” He felt heat crawling up his neck and into his face, turning his pale skin red.

“I’m always good.”

Once they were finished looking at pictures, Xin said. “Why don’t you take Lucius on a tour of our property, I’m sure he’d like to see where you used to play.”

“What about you and dad?”

“We’ll stay here baby, besides, I’m sure you need a break from all of this embarrassment.”

“Alright.” Julian walked over and kissed his mother’s forehead before giving her a long hug.

“I’m so happy you’re here Julian.” She told him again because she truly was.

They walked out and Julian sighed, “Sometimes I wish cameras didn’t exist, but you and my mother seem to be getting along well.”

“She’s wonderful and maybe your dad isn’t so bad either.”

“Okay, I know that last part was a joke.”

Lucius sighed, “We’ve never been a couple who didn’t talk about things or point out when we thought the other was wrong Julian. I mean, I can see you’re right about your dad’s pack. From the two I’ve met it’s clear you don’t have to be any kind of a decent wolf to be accepted into this pack but maybe, your dad himself isn’t as bad as you feel he is.”

“He was horrible to me, I mean you heard the clown story.”

“Maybe these kinds of wolves are what he grew up around so he had a hard time learning how to play with you without doing something like that.” Julian was obviously frustrated and feeling defensive but Lucius was proud of how well he was managing to talk without yelling.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Well at the very least you should accept your mother is happy with him. He looks at Xin the way you look at me and even she says she’s happy. You can look at her and see she’s happy.”

Julian sighed. “You keep comparing us.”

“You have a lot of similarities, Julian and there’s nothing wrong with that.” He laced his fingers through Julian’s, letting his thumb brush over his skin to soothe him. “He hasn’t said anything negative to us, in fact he’s been incredibly civil. I know you’re mad about some things, the way he traumatized you as a child and how he and his pack treated you over being gay, but can’t you just forgive him.” He smiled. “Please try?”

Julian let out a grumble. “I should just shift and hide in the woods.”

“You wouldn’t do that.”

“I know.” He sighed again. “I’ll try, for you and my mother, okay?”

“I know it’s hard, but if I can come to terms with your constant need to show me affection and your sarcastic mouth, then you can do this.”

“You like my sarcastic mouth, it’s very good at what it does.”

“Julian.”

He chuckled as he brushed a kiss to Lucius’s cheek. “I love you and I’ll try, I really will. Now, come on, I have somewhere special I want to take you.”

“Oh? Where?”

“It’s a secret, I used to go there when I wanted to get away from my dad and the pack. I’d cover up my scent and tracks so they couldn’t follow me.”

Lucius happily let his mate guide him along. He couldn’t believe how well that went and was relived Julian was willing to try to forgive his father. His mother deserved more visits and living with hating a parent was a burden Lucius couldn’t wait to see lifted from the wolf’s shoulders. Julian eventually pulled them deep into the woods where he started feeling the ground. “There we go.” Julian pulled open a door that even up still looked like a piece of ground. “Who knows what’s in there now, but I know little critters and bugs wont bother you…as you know…sometimes I just needed to disappear.”

“I bet your dad would be proud of this.”

“I guess we could tell him about it now that I don’t need it. For now let’s go in, I’ll go first and take the cobwebs that might be around. I haven’t entered here since I was a teenager.” They went in, Julian touching what looked like little stones that glowed when he pressed. There surprisingly wasn’t many intruders but moles had obviously been through a few times.

“This is really cool.” Lucius had to note again.

“I worked hard on it.”

“How old were you when you started this?”

“Seven.”

“I’m sorry.”

Julian shrugged at Lucius’s apology. “I really am going to try to let it go.”

“Still, it sucks you were this unhappy so young, but it also shows how smart and resourceful you were even that young.”

They continued further in until they came to a room. There was a pile of old blankets and pillows in one corner and a small bookcase in another. There was a rug in the center and some old toys in a box that had Lucius smiling. It was a little dusty, but everything was surprisingly dry. “Wow, look at this place.” He said.

“I used to play here when I was a kid. I’d just get lost in my imagination and forget about everything. Sometimes I would open tears just to see where they went.”

“Such a daredevil.”

“I just wanted to escape. When I was a teen, I started to get a sense for where they all went and I could step into any world with ease.” He looked around at everything. “I need to shake all of this stuff out, maybe get some new blankets down here.”

“Do you plan on escaping again?”

“Only if I get to do it with you.” Lucius felt a blush crawling up his neck and Julian smiled. “I could patch up the walls with something more durable like stone or brick, I could get more lighting and some flooring. We could just hide here all alone for awhile.”

“I have a feeling we’d never leave.”

“That wouldn’t be so bad.” Julian said with a chuckle.

Julian pulled Lucius close to him, hungrily moving his lips against his mates then spoke amorously, “I don’t want to have sex in my old bedroom, but here would be perfect.”

“I swear there can’t be a moment that is ever far from your mind.” Julian began to kiss and gently nibble at Lucius’s neck. It caused goosebumps to already start forming on his skin. After this long together he knew the perfect way to do that. Julian had learned just the right way to do everything with Lucius to make him putty in his hands. Lucius gave in without any more prompting and began taking off Julian’s pants. Julian bit his shoulder, hard, marking what was his before sliding his hands into his pants. Julian felt his soft skin and reveled in the feel of squeezing his bottom.

He pulled him up, making Lucius wrap his legs around him as they kissed. Julian sat down on the old blankets then jerked Lucius’s pants down so he could work him loose, all the while still hungrily kissing his mate. He relished the slow change in how Lucius kissed him and when he was obviously ready Julian plunged himself inside, his heart going wild with Lucius’s first, deep moan. Julian bit his other shoulder now, feeling more territorial than normal now that he was around his pack. It wasn’t rational since none of them were gay like he was, but he still wanted to make sure any wolf around knew Lucius was his and his alone.

Julian kept him right on the edge of release, wanting to prolong their lovemaking as long as possible. He couldn’t help himself, losing himself completely to his need for his mate, even making Lucius unbutton his shirt so he could mark his chest. Lucius whimpered when Julian turned him around, the fingers of one hand coming up to hook in his collar, the other sliding between his legs to stroke him. Lucius’s body shook with his release, his loud cry filling the room as tears filled his eyes at the overwhelming pleasure. Julian’s teeth clamped down on his shoulder and he let out a growl as he came. Lucius collapsed back against him, panting loudly, unsure if he would ever be able to walk again.

“I think we should stay away from here.” Lucius finally managed to say.

Julian chuckled as he pressed a kiss to his shoulder. “Oh? Why?”

“I won’t be able to move if we keep coming here.”

Julian lifted him and turned him so he could kiss his lips. “Good, that means you can’t get away.”

“Be good.”

Julian grinned. “You know I can’t when I’m with you. I need you always, it’s a craving that can never be sated.” He ran his fingers gently through Lucius’s hair. “You’re just such a temptation, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

 

Chapter Three

Julian held Lucius until Lucius insisted they had been gone too long and needed to head back. “We can just go home you know, we saw them.”

“Julian, you said you’d forgive the past and try to just see him as he is now. We’re going to stay and give this a real chance. Just keep telling yourself how happy your mom will be if you were able to come more.” Julian kissed Lucius, mostly for strength then they walked out together, making sure the door looked as natural as it always had before Julian swept Lucius off his feet. He was going to carry his mate back to his parents house and he dared any of his fathers rotten pack to say a word to him. This would be part of him coming more. They would have to learn that he wasn’t going to hide how much he loved Lucius to make them comfortable.

“Did you two have fun?” Xin asked when they walked in, causing Lucius to blush.

“Yeah, I showed him my hideout.” Julian said.

“Hideout?” Ivan asked.

“Yeah, I built it a long time ago. It was a home away from home, clubhouse sort of thing.” He was doing his best not to let the real reason it had been built slip out, but he could see the knowing look on his father’s face regardless.

“Hmm, I had no idea.”

“I hid it. Maybe later I’ll show it to you or something.”

“You don’t have to, it’s your place, I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

Julian shrugged. “I mean maybe you could look it over for me and help me rebuild some stuff. A few moles dug into it so, you know, it might not be up to code.”

Ivan nodded. “If you want me to.”

“Just, could you maybe keep the other wolves away from it. You can use it for emergencies, but can you not let them trash it.”

“Sure.”

Xin wore a grateful expression as she looked over at Lucius. She knew that had to have something to do with him. When they did return to Julian’s old hideaway Ivan noted, “This is very well made son. These stones, I’m impressed you were able to collect them. I know where they come from and therefor know it was no easy task.”

“I needed a good source of light. They’ve been worth the effort.”

“I wish I could have helped you with this place back then, but I know this was a hideaway from me too.”

“Well, you can help me with it now.” The way his father almost steered the conversation made Julian too uncomfortable. He knew they’d have to talk about it at some point but not yet, he had only just gotten home.

His father took the hint and just continued inspecting. “Ah, I see what you mean about the moles”

“What can we do?”

“We can reinforce the walls with wood and then brick over it. We can also lay stones into the floor and make a venting system to fresh air can get in here.” He looked around and noticed the box of toys. “Look at this. I thought you lost all these.”

“No, I just brought them down here.”

“They’re still in good shape, a little dusty, but there’s no mold or anything.”

“Yeah.”

“Anyway, I could also look into some bedding, maybe some cushions or animal hides, a new bookshelf. I mean if you’re going to escape to somewhere then it might as well be comfortable. I’m sure your mate would appreciate it.”

Julian was surprised at how much his dad seemed to truly want to help and thought of this as a good way for them to attempt to get along. “Do you want to maybe start now working on it?”

“Sure, your mate can hangout with your mother right or would you prefer them stay with us?”

“That’s up to him.”

“I’d love to spend time with your mom. Hopefully there’s more pictures somewhere.”

“Oh there is.” she said cheerfully.

“Then it’s settled. We will work on making this place more comfortable and our mates can get to know each other better. Your mother has been eager to spend time with the man you’ve chosen to spend your life with.”

Soon after the four parted ways Xin hugged Luciu.s “I hope hugging you is okay..I’m just so grateful to you.”

“Why?”

“I’m not stupid, you’re pushing him to hangout with his father”

“He doesn’t seem so bad”

“He’s not, he did mess up quite a lot as a father but it was never because he didn’t love Julian. You have to be loved to know how to love and before me his father never had that. His parents were as cold and selfish as the rest of this pack and truly at this point, he’d make a great father. I think we just had kids too fast. We should have waited but then again who knows, maybe he had to push Julian so far away to really learn how to be better. He’s missed his son and even though I tell him not to he feels guilty over the pain it causes me that Julian won’t come very often due to his childhood. I want us to be a normal, close family so badly and because of you that might actually happen.” She had let him go now so he could see her tearing up.

Lucius wiped the tears away. “I’ll do my best if there are any bumps to keep Julian’s heart open to him.”

Julian started to feel a little more comfortable around his father while they worked on fixing his hideaway and they even chatted a little here and there, though it was awkward. “So, you and Lucius, planning on kids or anything?” His father asked without looking up from what he was doing.

Julian shrugged. “Don’t know, we haven’t really discussed it. Our jobs are pretty dangerous and I don’t even know how he feels about kids. Besides, I probably wouldn’t be a good dad.”

Ivan raised his head then and turned his gaze on his son. “That’s probably the stupidest thing you’ve ever said.”

“Really? I’m sure I’ve said worse.”

Ivan sighed as he rubbed the back of his neck. “We need to talk.”

“Why?”

“Because, your mother would want us to and I’m sure your mate would too.”

“There’s nothing to talk about. I’m the gay son of the alpha, the disappointment.”

“Julian.”

“Can’t we just save it for later? I don’t want to end up getting in a fight with you. Lucius would get upset if I lost my temper after I promised I’d try.”

Ivan nodded. “Alright, once we’re done fixing this place up then.” He turned back to what he had been working on, but added quietly, “You were never a disappointment.”

His father had backed down but Julian couldn’t let that comment sit “The way you treated me said I was. The way you’ve never stood up for me with the pack said I was! You let them talk to me however they want.”

“I always knew you could handle yourself.”

“I could, but if you didn’t agree with them you would have said something. They are your pack, you’re the alpha.”

“If I would have stepped in it would have only gotten worse. You needed to defend yourself.”

“They won’t change and they are who you are. Mom may buy your crap and maybe even my mate now, but you choose to stay in this pack and you repeatedly choose to let them, for lack of a better term be dogs. I’ve met many packs in my travels and wolves or not there’s no excuse to be as horrible as this pack is.”

“I grew up in this pack. They are family.”

“You’re just as cowardly as they are.”

He didn’t even hear his father move. One moment he was facing the wall, the next he was eye to eye with his father. “You have no idea what the burdens of my responsibilities are. You think I don’t control my pack? You’re wrong. Trust me when I say that they could be a hell of a lot worse. They may be dogs, but I have lines that will never be crossed. You don’t know how many I’ve had to put in their place.”

“Then you should have done it when I was a boy instead of letting them push me around, instead of telling me to mate with some woman and have puppies.”

“I’m sorry I made you feel isolated, but you didn’t have it nearly as bad as you could have. Do you want to know what kind of man your grandfather was? He was the kind that beat his son when he was disappointed, who let bigger wolves beat me up to teach me a lesson, who left me out in the wild to fend for myself because I was weak and incompetent. He was the kind of man that threatened to rip my throat out during a training exercise. He had his teeth right here, clamped down on my throat. I may have been a bastard, but at least you grew up tough enough to stand up for yourself instead of letting some…some animal threaten you. I didn’t do the things I did because I was disappointed, but because I wanted you to able to walk through this world without worry.” He stepped back, taking a deep breath. “I said some things to you I should have never said, done things no father should ever do and I am sorry. So stop avoiding this place because of me, hate me if you wish, but at least visit more often for your mother.”

“I don’t want to hate you anymore, I’m trying.”

“Good because I love you. As hard as it might be to believe I have always loved you son.”

“Well…I guess I’m starting to see that now…this place is going to look good…I can already see it.”

“I want to make things right between us Julian. I want to do much more than just fix up this place for you.” They didn’t talk much as they continued working. Neither knew what else to add since they both felt so awkward after their heated discussion but the tension had faded by the time they went to the house for something to eat.

“How’re things going?” Xin asked hopefully at the table.

“Good.” Julian answered and his father nodded, “Yeah.”

“How did everything really go today?” Lucius asked that night after they were showered and cuddling in Julian’s old bed.

“It went good. We had a discussion and my dad told me a few things that I wasn’t aware of.”

“Like what?”

“That he was severely abused by his father.”

“Oh, your mom mentioned his parents weren’t exactly the best.”

Julian sighed. “I want to forgive him, I want to be understanding, but it’s still hard. On one hand he had it a hundred times worse, but his methods with me were wrong.”

Lucius propped himself on one elbow and let his other hand run gently up and down Julian’s chest. “I know, but look at it this way, you’re strong and stubborn thanks to him and if you had never left, we would have never met.”

“That’s a little unfair, you don’t know that.”

“It’s just a thought.”

Julian huffed. “Yeah I know.” He reached up stroked Lucius’s cheek. “He asked me something today that I wanted to run by you and see what you think.”

“What?”

“Just know, you’re under no obligation to say yes, I don’t even know if I…”

“Julian, tell me.”

“He asked if we ever planned on kids. Do you maybe want to adopt a couple or maybe find someone to carry a couple or something? I mean I don’t even know if I’d be a good father, but if you want kids then I’d be more than willing to try.”

 

Chapter Four

“I think I’d rather adopt. In my line of work I’ve seen so many children who ended up in horrible situations due to being cast into the foster system. If you want kids I’d rather save some than pay a surrogate to help us make more. Beyond that I know you’d make a good dad because you don’t make any excuses for how your dad treated you. You know you didn’t grow up right so you won’t make those same choices with your children. People that continue the abuse normally made a bunch of excuses for their parents but I’m struggling to get you to forgive him at all.”

“How many would you want to adopt?”

“With our lifestyle? I’d say no more than two. We live such dangerous lives. I think it would be too stressful to have more than one or two to worry about.”

“Then maybe after this trip we can go to an orphanage and see what we have to do to adopt a child or two. I wonder how your brother will feel about kids in the house.”

“He’s a softie, he’ll like it.”

“He’ll probably spoil them rotten.”

“With knowledge more than likely.”

Julian huffed out a laugh as he pulled Lucius down to kiss him. “You’re lucky we’re in here or I’d make love to you again.”

“Maybe I’ll stay here forever then.” Lucius teased as he rested his head on Julian’s chest.

“I’d just toss you over my shoulder and carry you out to the woods. I might not even take you into the hideout.”

“You better be good.”

He kissed the top Lucius’s head. “As long as you don’t tempt me my sweet little vampire.”

Over the following days Julian and Ivan worked on their relationship along with the hideout as Lucius and Xin grew closer. Their final day there he let his parents know they were going to look into adopting which excited Xin even more than Julian expected it to. “Please bring them as soon as you have them, please. We’ll make sure the pack doesn’t come around.” She said, knowing that would be a big concern of Julian’s with a child.

“We’ll bring them, don’t worry mom. I’m going to be coming back a lot more in general.” She looked like she might cry and Ivan just looked relieved.

First thing they did upon arriving home was talk to Uri about the addition of children. “That sounds amazing, I’d love to see some kids around here. I can go ahead and start looking into nannies that can keep them when we’re working. I’m going to be picky as hell with who we trust and they’ll be my nieces or nephews or whatever so I do get to be picky.”

“Of course, choose whoever you want, we trust your judgement.” Lucius said.

“Come on baby, I want to go to the orphanage before it gets dark.” Julian said.

“Alright, would you like to come with us Uri?”

“Sure, it’d probably best they know all three of us. I wouldn’t want you bringing any children home and them get confused by there being two of you.”

“I doubt that would ever happen. Like I told Lucius, you two are very different, it’d be easy to tell you apart.”

“Still, better to be safe and sorry.” They headed out, Uri deciding to hold off on the nanny until they knew the exact ages of the children they would be adopting. “What age were you two thinking anyway?” Uri asked.

“Possibly older children. I know they don’t get adopted as much as babies do and I would like to give them a good home.” Julian answered. “Though if I’m not careful I might adopt enough to form my own pack.”

Uri chuckled. “That sounds more terrifying than an actual pack of wolves. Can you imagine a bunch of kids just running and jumping on you. Lucius would be taken down in an instant, you could just step through a tear, and I’d have to lock myself in the library.”

They discussed different scenarios happily until they arrived at the nearest orphanage. They were spoken to right away and were given all the paper work they’d need which the woman told them to start filling out after they finished speaking with her. They explained Lucius’s twin lived with them and then proceeded to tell her about their house and how they were financially. The entire conversation seemed to go well and they arranged a visit to their home by a social worker. It felt like the process took forever but all the while they were getting to know the kids and knew precisely who they wanted by the time it was all over. The one or two Lucius was originally talking about turned into five but they truly felt like they needed those children in their lives.

Weldon was eight and the youngest child they adopted. They were told he was incredibly smart and it showed because he had a robotic dog that even the adults there attested to he built himself. He was human and had shoulder length brown hair that they were told he was very attached to. Terina would be the second youngest of their children. She was a cat demon who frequently kept her cat ears out when she was in human form. She had tugged at their hearts with her constant need to show them her paintings and talk to them when they’d come. The third youngest they’d be adopting was Taryn. She had been dropped at a police station when she was only days old and they eventually figured out she was a Naiad. They warned them about the fact she liked to take multiple baths a day so she might run up their water bill a considerable amount but they didn’t care about that and assured the staff they wouldn’t bring her back because of it.

They were already planning where to put a swimming pool for her and guessed if she had one she might not be wanting to sit in a bathtub most of her day. Aban, the second oldest was an interesting mixture of things. He apparently had panther, wolf and fairy in him. Eline was just shy of being seventeen, only just old enough to be considered older than Aban and she was a pure blooded fairy which was mostly important information due to how she came to them. She had apparently been sold as a baby to an underground group that imprisoned fairies for vampires to feed on. Learning this surprised Lucius since he was a vampire, she’d be living with two vampires and she had never seemed afraid of them. She had even seemed happy when they asked her if she wanted to go home with them. The orphanage seemed to try to talk them out of her as they had Taryn but that only made Julian want her more “she wants to go home with us and we’ll take good care of her” They understood though, people returned children all the time like they were some toaster they didn’t like from Target and they knew the pain that must cause these children.

Uri got to work on hiring a nanny, making sure to find one that would work well with the children, especially the oldest who they all wanted to have her independence. “I can’t believe we adopted five.” Lucius said as they relaxed at home. “But just looking into their faces and reading their files, I just couldn’t leave them.”

Julian chuckled as he wrapped him in a tight hug. “You’re really more of a softy than I am.”

“Am not and now I have to work even harder because we both know you’d probably let them get away with anything short of murder.”

“What? Me? No.” He brushed his nose against Lucius’s cheek. “We’re finalizing everything tomorrow.”

“Mmhmm.”

“Are you nervous?”

“Yeah, a little. I want everything to be perfect for them.”

“It will be, you’re already an amazing father.”

Lucius huffed out a laugh. “You too, the kids already really like you. I knew they would, you have such an easy going nature, it’s hard not to like you.”

“I plan on working extra hard for them. I want them to always feel loved and like they can come to me if they need anything.”

“You’re going to be perfect, Julian, no matter what you might think and now you’re on better terms with your father so the kids can know both of your parents.”

“My mom is going to be ecstatic when she finds out she gets five grand kids.”

The next day they went into the orphanage and were happy to see all five of their children waiting eagerly for them in one of the offices. Terina instantly ran to Julian and asked if she could ride on his shoulders for the walk home. The social worker smiled as they signed off on everything and set up a date for their first visit to ensure the children were adjusting well. Walking home together felt like such a wonderful dream, with Terina riding on Julian’s shoulders and Weldon chatting nonstop with Uri. The others chatted about their new home and asked questions about their new parents and uncle. When they finally got home, they showed the kids all the things they had bought for them based on their interests. Taryn was the most excited about the swimming pool and wanted to get in immediately. The rest of the day was busy and by the time it was over, they were all exhausted.

“I hope every day is this crazy.” Julian said when they settled into bed that night.

“Me too, I’m so happy and Weldon seemed extremely excited with the library. I think he and Uri spent most of the time going through books.” He snuggled close to his mate. “Thank you for bringing up kids, I don’t think I would have given them a thought if you hadn’t.”

“Thank my dad.”

“I definitely will, count on it.”

Julian let out a blissful sigh as he pressed a kiss to Lucius’s forehead. Everyday with his love was a new adventure and he had never been happier for this new chapter in their life. He planned to make the most of it and he swore he would never fail his family.

THE END

Aadi & Remus 2

Chapter One

Remus growled at the male, his teeth bared, his body placed directly between him and Aadi. He could smell the wolf on him and he didn’t like the speed at which he had approached. “What do you want?” He asked.

The young wolf stepped back, his hands coming up in a placating way. “Please, I wasn’t trying to frighten you.”

Remus growled again. “I am not afraid.”

“Of course, s…sorry.”

“Who are you?”

“My name is Titus and I…I’m your son.”

Remus’s eyes widened and Aadi grabbed his arm. “His son?” She asked.

“Yes, I’m sorry.” He bowed. “Titus of Rome, I…I’ve been looking for you, sorry.”

Remus swallowed. “I…Aadi, what do I do?”

“Invite him in?”

“But, how did you find me?”

“I researched. Once I was of age, I found out where you went and started from there. There have been stories of a man who never ages so I just followed them.”

Remus didn’t trust him, especially around Aadi. What if he tried hurting her? He hadn’t even changed her yet, so any injury could be potentially fatal. His heart was beating far too fast. “Remus, let’s let him in.”

He whined. “But…”

“It’ll be alright, you’re here.”

He was worried she was actually disappointed in him. He had told her all about his past and the women who had been in it, but now it was staring them literally in the face and he worried she wouldn’t be able to look at him the same. “Fine, but do not dare touch my mate.”

“I wouldn’t even think of it. I know how important she must be to you. I can feel your protectiveness coming off in waves. I doubt anybody would be dumb enough to hurt someone so cared about when they are so cared about by such an old and powerful wolf.” Titus wouldn’t hurt anybody who didn’t deserve it regardless, but he was going for what would be most comforting to his dad. He understood the mistrust but he really wanted to get to know him.

Titus walked in when they moved out of the way and Aadi asked, “Can I get you anything? ”

“I’m alright.” He was thirsty but he felt so awkward and worried he’d do something wrong when it came to her he couldn’t ask her to get him one.

“If you change your mind let me know. I want you to be comfortable.” Titus was surprised how at ease she seemed. She didn’t know him and on top of that he was a pup of Remus from another woman but he felt no bad feelings or worry at all coming off of her.

“I will, thank you so much.”

“So is it just you?”

“Just me?”

“Do you have any family still?”

“No, my mother was human until the end. I have some friends I’d consider family though.”

“I’m sorry for your loss.” Aadi said.

“It’s alright, but thank you.” Titus shifted nervously. He didn’t really know what else to say. He had so many questions, but he was afraid to offend his father.

Aadi could see he was having a hard time and rested a hand on Remus’s knee and nodded towards him. “So, what did your mother tell you about me?” Remus asked.

“Just that you and my uncle were Gods, that you were a good man, that you blessed her with me, that you blessed many women.” He held up his hands. “Not that I’m mad or anything, it was normal back then when you were face to face with the Gods.”

“I’m not a God.”

“I…I know, but she never spoke ill of you. I don’t even think she wanted me to meet you, probably thought you wouldn’t want to see me. I’ll understand if you want me to leave.”

“Nonsense.” Aadi said. “Please stay for as long as you like.”

“I’m sorry if I’m coming off as rude, Titus, it’s just a lot for me to wrap my head around. Aadi is right, please stay, we’ll find something to do together.”

Titus felt relief, he hadn’t hunted down his father for nothing and his mate seemed okay with him. He wouldn’t have blamed her for feeling uncomfortable with his presence, but she seemed absolutely fine. If anything she seemed to want them to talk. “You’re fine, I understand, really.”

He nervously sat down with them. “How long have you two been mates?”

“A few years now, she’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

“Having a mate is an amazing feeling I hope to actually experience one day.”

“Do you date at all?”

“Not really, I mean, I don’t see the point. I’ll know when I find the one so why bother until then. I mean, I know some wolves never find their soulmate just like any other species, but I just don’t want to settle, I want to find the one meant for me eventually. Though, for now my main focus has been finding you Remus.”

“That may be smart, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. I may not have been so bitter for awhile.”

“Bitter?”

“All that meaningless sex, maybe some of them like your mother weren’t trying to lead me on but, I still wound up hurt a lot. I thought things were more than just sex, but time and time again they just wanted babies.”

“Oh, well, I know at least with my mom she wasn’t necessarily trying to use you. By her you already had a reputation so she thought that’s just what you wanted.”

“I believe that, I do, I was an idiot back then. I was an idiot for a long time. My brother found his brain much faster than me.”

“It’s understandable, really.”

Aadi let out a little laugh. “I don’t think I’ve seen two people look so nervous and awkward. You’re even making the same face.” She pressed a kiss to Remus’s cheek. “How about we take him out hiking tomorrow and have a picnic. We can show him our favorite spots, I think he’ll love it.”

Remus couldn’t help the smile that pulled at his lips. While he was still trying to play catch up, Aadi was making plans, wanting them to really get to know each other. “Alright, is that okay with you Titus?”

“Yes, of course.”

“You should also give your brother a call.” She said. “I’m sure he’ll want to know his nephew’s visiting.”

“Of course love.”

“Now, how about I make us something to eat.”

“Could I help while my dads on the phone? I’m actually pretty good in the kitchen.”

“Sure, thank you so much.” She could tell he was really asking so he could get to know her too. She was relieved when Remus left them in the kitchen. She hadn’t been sure if he’d trust his son enough for her to be alone with him and it would have broke her heart to see him hurt Titus’s feelings like that. “I really need to use the two rabbits we have. How do you like rabbit?”

“I love rabbit and dumplings.”

She smiled, looking amused. “Remus likes that too, he asks for it quite a bit.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“So how did you two meet, if you don’t mine me asking?”

“Well, I was attacked by a couple of men. You know the type.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright, your father rescued me. I’m thankful he was there that night, it could have been so much worse than a couple of bruises and scrapes.” She smiled. “Everything’s fine now though, it seems like nothing more than a bad dream.”

“That’s good. Um…how come you two don’t have any kids?”

“We haven’t talked about it really.” She answered as he helped her make dumplings.

“Do you want any?”

“I do, but I don’t want to rush your father.”

He didn’t have to ask farther, he wasn’t an idiot. She didn’t want to ask because he had been used for children for so long. Most likely she didn’t want to risk hurting his feelings or wondered if he even wanted kids anytime soon due to all that. When Remus came back he asked, “You don’t mind that he’s coming for dinner do you Aadi?” He walked over and put his arms around her from behind, placing a gentle kiss on her head.

“Of course I don’t.” She answered as she continued to make their meal.

“Good, he and his mate are excited to actually meet one of my children.”

“Can I help?”

“No, why don’t you two go and just talk. I have it from here.” Remus still felt a bit awkward but they weren’t going to move past the awkward phase if they didn’t talk so the two men went back to the couch and sat down.

“So your mate says you like rabbit and dumplings too.”

“Yes, but you’ll enjoy anything she makes.”

“So, what else do you like.”

“The woods, it’s the only other place I feel at home when I’m not with Aadi. I’ve also developed a fondness for books.”

“What kind?”

“Older books like the Count of Monte Cristo and Moby Dick and even Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.”

“Do you think I could borrow a few, I mean if Aadi says it’s okay? I know some people are pretty particular about their books.”

“Oh? Did you meet someone like that?”

“A librarian, a long time ago. He didn’t mind you reading them, but he was very uptight so it was hard to get immersed in the stories.”

Aadi smiled as she listened to them talking. She was proud of Remus for being so kind to Titus. The boy didn’t look much older than nineteen and it seemed that even though he was far older, he was still in that mindset. A child stuck in time, looking for his father. It was a little sad and she was glad he didn’t resent Remus.

Aadi was well into cooking by the time Romulus and Isobel showed up, their own child in Isobel’s arms. She was only two, but she already resembled her mother. Aadi felt like little Zarya was going to look identical to her when she grew up. Moments later the little one wandered into the kitchen, Isobel following, “Could I set the table?”

“Sure, thank you.”

Zarya ran up to Aadi and said adorably, “Hiiii.”

“Hello beautiful.”

Zarya put her hands over her own eyes and Aadi said, “She’s too cute.” Isobel laughed as she pulled down plates. They talked about Isobel’s daughter and how their life had been going while they finished up then called the men in to eat.

“It smells amazing Aadi, thank you for letting us join you.” Romulus said.

And Titus chimed in, “Yeah, it really does smell good. Thank you.”

 

Chapter Two

Zarya seemed fascinated with Titus and Aadi found herself laughing at the little girl’s perplexed look. Her eyes kept moving from Remus to Romulus and then back to Titus like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “I think she’s a little confused.” Aadi finally said when she could stop the giggling.

“Why?” Titus asked. “Is it because I’m new?”

“It’s because you look like us.” Romulus said.

“She’s seeing triple.” Isobel added.

Titus looked right at Zarya and pointed at himself. “Titus.” The little girl blinked at him then started grinning. Titus smiled back. “She’s cute.”

“Unfortunately.” Romulus said and Isobel nudged him. “Sorry, but I’m going to be scaring men left and right.”

“Be good.”

“I am, I’m doing exactly what I should be, practicing being scary. Right Zarya?” He raised his hands, forming them into claws and growled at her. She did the same and growled back, making everyone laugh. “That’s right, that’s what we say to those pesky boys when they come sniffing around.” He tussled his daughter’s hair then looked at Titus. “So, has my brother been nice to you?”

“Yes, this whole thing has been quite the experience for me so far. Would it be alright if I ask you a few questions?”

“Of course, I am an open book.”

“Have any of your children come to find you? The ones you had way back when.”

“Nope, but if any ever did want to meet me I’d happily accept them into my life.”

Titus smiled. “I’m glad you two are as nice as my mother said.”

“We weren’t intending back then just to father tons of children and leave the mothers to themselves. As your dad has probably pointed out given how badly it hurt him that that’s what they wanted and we just weren’t that smart. I mean we should have put two and two together after the first couple children, but we were men thinking with our penis’s with women throwing themselves at us for babies.”

“You’re so honest.”

“No point in not being honest…I’m just glad I ended up blessed with Isobel and he with Aadi. This is a much better way to live and I love actually being a part of one of my children’s lives. We were stupid and caused our own hurt by not thinking with our brains instead of our lower parts. It’s the past and we can only live a better future.”

Remus seemed to relax more over dinner, finding himself enjoying the stories his son told them of his journey to where he was now. He knew that he himself would have never gone so far for his biological father, but then he hadn’t abandoned his son in the same way that he and Romulus had been abandoned. It wasn’t even that he had never wanted children, he had just wished for more and in the end it had left a bad taste in his mouth, until Aadi. “So, are you two planning on having any?” Isobel asked and Remus realized the conversation had drifted to babies.

“Oh I don’t know, I mean now we have Titus.” Aadi joked. “I got a pup and full grown too.”

Titus blushed. “You really see me as yours?”

“Of course I do, you’re Remus’s son and that makes you my son too. I would never try replacing your mother, but I want you to know you can talk to me about anything and you’ll always be welcome here.”

“Thank you.”

Remus’s eyes met Romulus’s and he frowned. Romulus’s eyes flicked to Aadi and then back to his brother and Remus nodded. He hated the apprehension he felt. It was Aadi, not some woman wanting him for breeding. She was kind and patient, always giving him time and space when he needed it. “Are you alright?” Aadi asked.

“Hmm? Oh, yes, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, just got lost in thought. It’s this ancient brain of mine, it can be kind of slow.”

She kissed his cheek. “Alright.” She didn’t press him, always willing to give him whatever time he needed to talk about anything. She really did want children, but it wasn’t worth upsetting him. She didn’t need children to be happy and she knew Remus leaving her would be a wound that would never heal. Now they also had Titus and she couldn’t wait to get to know him. After dinner they simply set the dishes in the sink so they could spend time together. “Why don’t we take Zarya outside so she can tire herself out for bed?” Aadi suggested, always eager to play with her.

“Okay.” Isobel agreed so they went outside to play with the little two year old.

“She looks truly happy brother.” Romulus said as he sat next to his twin.

“I try to keep her that way.” They sat for a moment in silence, just watching their mates and Titus playing with Zarya. Remus sighed. “Am I broken brother?”

Romulus slapped his back. “Don’t be stupid. You took things harder than I, you were always the more sensitive of us.”

“Shut up.” He shoved Romulus, getting a laugh out of him.

“You’re a good mate, Remus, she wouldn’t smile like that if you were not.” He stood stretching. “You should consider a pup or two, it’s such a joy watching them grow.” He ran over and scooped Zarya up, tossing her into the air, leaving the little girl laughing and Isobel, Aadi, and Titus all looking worried.

“Hey Romulus, toss her up again, I want to try something.” Remus said as he got to his feet to spend time with them.

“Try what?” Isobel asked.

“Trust us.” Romulus said. “You know there is nothing in the world that could hurt our daughter.” He looked at Zarya. “Ready?” He asked. “Want to go up?” She nodded excitedly and Romulus tossed her much higher this time as Remus sprinted toward his brother. Romulus cupped his hands and launched his brother into the air where he caught Zarya and landed on his feet.

“I still got it.” He held Zarya up in the air. She giggled at him. “See, a little daredevil just like her dad and uncle. You’re going to scare the pants off your mom aren’t you sweetie?”

“That was amazing.” Titus said. “Could you teach me how to do stuff like that?”

“Sure.” Remus lowered Zarya and handed her over to Romulus. “Just not with my niece, I think Isobel might kill us.”

That night his brother’s words were still on his mind. He turned over, watching Aadi sleep. She probably did want kids and he felt a little guilt. It wasn’t fair to punish her because of his past. It had hurt him greatly, but she obviously wanted him for more than children. If she didn’t she would be gone. He sighed, seeing the obvious solution in his past would have just been to stop having sex with all the females who wanted it. None of them had raped him, he had had the ability to say no to sex, but he had kept just making love to them from the get go and expecting a different result besides them moving on. Even his son had said his mother just thought that was what he wanted because that’s what he had been engaging in. Aadi loved him and she deserved children if she wanted them. He had to stop letting the past make him sour towards having a child.

In the morning he wasted no time asking, “Aadi, do you want kids?”

“What?” She was just waking up and felt she must have heard the question wrong.

“Do you want kids?”

“I’m okay, I said so over dinner.”

“But are you just saying that because you think I’ll be hurt you want them?”

She knew this was the time to be honest. “Well…yeah, but I love you more than I want children. I’m fine never having them. I can just enjoy Titus and my niece.”

“You deserve kids Aadi, you’re amazing.”

“I want you to be happy.”

“Then let me give you a baby.”

She let out a soft laugh and took his face in her hands. “Silly wolf.” She pulled him down into a kiss and he wrapped his arms tightly around her.

“Is that a yes?”

“Is that really what you want? You can’t be worried for nine months that I’ll just up and leave you. I don’t want to have to ask Romulus to beat you up.”

“I do, I want to give you a child, as many as you like.” He pressed their foreheads together. “I’m scared, but I want to make you happy. I want to be with you forever, so would you let me change you and give you a baby?”

She nodded, feeling a lump forming in her throat. She didn’t know why she was suddenly feeling so emotional and she wound up kissing him again, not wanting to worry him. His hands pushed at her pajamas and he let out a little whine that she found adorable. “What?”

“Stop wearing clothes to bed, they always get in my way.” She giggled and he growled, his teeth biting down on her shoulder so she moaned and clung to him. It was easy to get lost in her, in the way she moved and the sounds she made. She was breathtakingly beautiful and he couldn’t help but admire her, his hands sliding over her to explore every inch of her. “I love you, Aadi. I love you so much it drives me crazy.”

“I love you so much too Remus. Thank you for trusting me enough to have a baby with me.” He let himself get lost in making love to her, ejaculating into her warmth multiple times in hopes he would definitely get her pregnant. She deserved this, she deserved everything. When they were done he cuddled her until they felt like getting up to shower. They wound up making love in there as well. He simply couldn’t resist her when she was naked, her gorgeous, flawless skin exposed to him.

She giggled when they got out. “You know that’s why I wear pajamas right? It’s so I can get some sleep, but I do love you find me so irresistible.”

“After breakfast I’m going to go ahead and talk to my brother about arranging for us to change you. We can do Isobel at the same time since I’m sure he never wants to lose her either.”

The smell of food hit their noses as they started downstairs and they were surprised to find Titus in the kitchen when they came down and he gave them an awkward, nervous smile. “I thought I’d make breakfast for you two.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I hope that’s okay.”

“Of course, but you didn’t have too.” Aadi said.

“I wanted to, I mean you’ve both been so kind. I wanted to thank you. I learned a little bit in my travels doing odd jobs for money.”

“You’re incredibly sweet, Titus, just like your father.”

“I made coffee too.”

Remus reached out and tussled his hair, surprising him. “Thank you.”

“Y…yeah, you’re welcome.”

They enjoyed breakfast together Remus made a quick call to his brother who said he’d arrange everything and how proud he was of Remus for finally moving on from the past. When he hung up the phone they took his son to one of their favorite places, planning to take him to a new one every day as they got to know him. “So what brought you to this place?”

“Just walking around.”

“I’m sure you two do that a lot.”

“Wolves definitely weren’t meant to be kept inside.”

Titus laughed, “Nope, they definitely weren’t.” They showed him the best things about this area, heading home when lunch came around. He cooked for them again and it was just as delicious as breakfast had been.

“You’re definitely going to make your mate happy.” Aadi said when they finished cleaning up.

“Really?”

“You’re kind and considerate and you can cook. I mean that’s a big plus, especially if she’s sick or pregnant.”

“Can you cook uh dad?”

“I can, but Aadi’s food tastes better. I can never get the seasoning right.” Remus answered as he put the last dry dish away. “And please call me whatever you wish, there’s no reason to hesitate.”

“Sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize. Now, we are going to be changing Aadi soon, have you ever seen the ritual?”

“No, but I’ve heard of it.”

“Then it will be a treat for both of you.”

“Don’t you usually have to have a group of wolves to pull it off though?”

“Not for Romulus and I, but since this is a special occasion, I’m sure he’ll gather a few.”

“Are you excited Aadi?”

“Incredibly so, I’m glad I get to be with your dad forever and with my children.”

“Are you two going to be trying?”

“We are.” Remus answered.

Then Aadi added, “You ready to be a big brother?” Titus smiled, feeling blessed to be a part of this family. He truly already felt like he belonged. They all made him feel like he had grown up with them instead of only finding them yesterday. A few days later Romulus and Remus were ready to change Aadi and Isobel. Titus was eager to watch, this wasn’t something that happened all the time so there was a chance this would be the only time he witnessed such a thing occur.

Titus’s eyes were riveted to the beautiful ceremony, the way the wolves howled, calling their brethren to them for Aadi and Isobel. It stunned everyone, but Romulus and Remus when Aadi’s wolf turned its gaze on him. There was a warmth there as it turned away, going to Aadi who sat between Remus’s legs. Titus’s heart danced when the wolves howled as both women were made moon born and some of them started laughing when little Zarya joined in, dancing excitedly around. He had truly never seen anything so beautiful and the wolf within himself rejoiced at the sight.

“Why did her wolf look at me like that?” Titus asked once they were on their way home.

“She was acknowledging you as her child.” Remus answered softly since Aadi was sleeping on his shoulder. “Have you ever seen an animal take on the responsibilities of caring for one that has been orphaned? It’s like that, you are her pup no matter the blood that runs through your veins.”

“That’s…wow.” He was touched by the gesture and had to clear his throat to stop the knot forming there.

When they arrived at the house Remus spoke gently again. “I’m going to lay with my mate so I’m there when she needs me. Help yourself to anything.”

“Okay, don’t worry about breakfast in the morning, I have it. Do you want me to make a snack for you now?”

“No, I just want to lay with her.”

“Goodnight then dad.”

“Goodnight son.” Remus watched over Aadi through the night. He knew it had all gone well, but she was his mate so he couldn’t help but worry over her with what she had just been through. It was a painful and taxing experience. He had no doubt his brother was fussing over his mate the same way. When those beautiful green eyes fluttered open he kissed her then asked, “How do you feel?”

“A little sore for some reason.”

“Then I’ll let Titus know we’re up so he can start on breakfast so I can just massage you and we can soak.”

“He shouldn’t have to cook again. I can do it after the bath.”

“He specifically said he wanted to last night Aadi.”

“Okay, if he wants to.” Remus left the room, finding his son in the living room. “She’s awake if you want to start cooking. We’ll be awhile though. I’m going to massage her then get a hot bath drawn so she can soak.”

“I’ll make one of my favorites then. It takes a long time, but I have it and I really want to do something nice for her…”

Remus smiled then returned to Aadi. “Lay on your stomach sweetheart.” she did, groaning a little as she did it. He started on her legs then worked out the tension in her back before kissing between her shoulder blades. “I’m going to run the bath now.”

“Mhm.” It was so faint he happily chuckled, he loved he could relax her like that. Soon she was in his arms. Remus carried her to their tub then settled them in it so she was laying against him “We shouldn’t stay in long if Titus is cooking.”

“He said he was making something that would take a long time.”

“What a sweetie.”

“He adores you already.”

They relaxed there until the water began to cool then drained the tub and got out. Remus dried both of them and Aadi giggled when his hands lingered on her, surprised when he a light blush tinted his cheeks. “Sorry, you just drive me crazy. All I want to do is keep you to myself for awhile.”

“You’re amazing, Remus, I love you.”

He let his hand slide over her belly and she rested hers over his, smiling lovingly at him. “I cannot wait to see you pregnant.”

“You mean fat and hormonal?”

“You’ll be the most beautiful pregnant woman in the world.” He pressed their foreheads together. “Just try not to have any girls.”

“Remus.”

He chuckled. “I’m kidding, I just want a healthy you and a healthy baby, that’s all.”

She felt herself tear up. “You silly wolf.” She pressed a kiss to his lips. “Let’s get dressed and get downstairs to Titus.”

Their days with Titus were amazing and filled with laughter and smiles. A few months later Aadi was with child and incredibly excited. Everyone was happy at the news and eager to meet the new little one when they came into this world. There was so much change recently but it was all incredible.

~ The End

Antigone & Paruush 3

Chapter One

Antigone was out with a few of her relatives, a girls day one of her cousins had put together. On top of that their older son, Kiral was away at a summer camp he had begged them to go to. Antigone had struggled the first few days of it, not used to not having one of her babies with her but she seemed fine now, just happy her son was off and having fun. They had recently had another baby boy but he was still breastfeeding so even though it was a girls day they had one little male guest. However, Paruush was sure the other women loved it. That left Paruush completely alone. He couldn’t stand the house without his family in it so he took his guitar and the sheets of paper he used to write his own music, deciding to go sit somewhere on their vast property. He hadn’t left knowing what sort of music he’d be writing today but he hoped the nature around him would inspire something.

He walked until he came across the river his wife and son Kiral favored, coming here often when it was warm enough to play in the water. He had also fished around here a few times with them so it brought him comfort while he missed his family. Paruush sat the paper down then got comfortable under a tree with his guitar. Now all there was to do was sit and let something come to him or at least that’s what he thought. A woman popped up out of the water and it quickly became apparent to Paruush she was naked. He looked away and she laughed “it’s okay to look at me because I’m completely taking in you”

“I’m married and happily so” he heard her get out of the water, looking again because he could tell she wasn’t human and he didn’t know what she’d do. “is she on her way here or something?”

“No but that doesn’t change anything”

“Please you sexy little fang boy, of course it does. You mean to tell me you, a vampire is faithful? Come on, I’ll let you drink a little blood, it actually turns me on. Vampires are my favorite treat” He got up and began gathering his things and she sighed “come on, you’ve seen me completely naked. It’s not fair if I don’t see you”

“I didn’t ask to see you naked” his voice portraying how annoyed he was. He had wanted a peaceful day to write his music and now he had to apparently deal with some whore. That’s when he began to feel it and he knew what she was “You’re a succubus” he snapped and went to walk away. She giggled “half, the other half of me is Kumiho, come on. Sex is best with a succubus. The stories are true”

“leave me the hell alone” she followed as he walked away saying “really, no temptation at all?”

“None, I love my wife and I wouldn’t risk what I have with her for anything” he felt her magic come over him much harder, much more persistent but there wasn’t enough magic in the world to make him cheat on Antigone. He turned, grabbing her roughly by the hair in his anger that she was trying so hard to pull him against his will when he had already said no so many times. She disgusted him “I am married and I will hurt you if you make me. Go the hell away, stop following me” he emphasized each word, wanting her to understand he meant it because he really didn’t want to have to hurt a woman, even one as obviously immoral as this one.

She moaned and he rolled his eyes, casting her away and into a tree before he took off flying. He heard her yell “I love it rough!” he didn’t go home in case she tried following, he didn’t want her to know where his family was. He landed at a coffee cafe he and Antigone really liked and wanted to call her about what had just happened but he felt bad even considering it. She really deserved this day out, their new baby was only four months old and this was the first time she had gone out to do anything since his birth. Having a new baby was hard, especially for her since only she could feed him and he didn’t want to ruin it for her. He decided just to talk to her about it when she got home tonight.

He sighed, pulling out his phone and texting that he loved her and had something to tell her. She sent a message back asking if he was alright, if she should come home and he told her no, that it could wait, to enjoy herself. She told him if he changed his mind, to just tell her and she would be right there. “Is everything alright?” Kifa asked as Antigone looked worriedly at her phone.

“Just the message Paruush just sent me.”

“Is everything alright?”

“He says it can wait, that I should have fun.”

Kifa patted her arm. “I’m sure if it was serious he would have said so, honey.”

“Maybe, you know how he is. He doesn’t want me sad or upset. I think he thinks I’ve been cooped up.”

“We all need some time out. How about you stay for another hour and then go home, that way he doesn’t feel bad about you leaving us.”

“Alright.”

He sighed again as he got up to order something. He knew just a message like that would keep her from just having fun without any worries but he couldn’t help but at least let her know they needed to talk. Succubus and Incubus didn’t tend to take no very well since they hardly had to experience it. With a lot of them it was like saying no to a spoiled child, they simply weren’t used to it and often gained a sense of entitlement to anything they wanted, especially lovers. He just needed his mate to know incase the succubus kept hanging around the house. Just like a spoiled child you didn’t really know what petulant way they were going to react.

Paruush lingered at the coffee shop, slowly consuming his beverage and snack before walking out, stretching his senses to find her. He had undergone quite a bit of training with Antigones family so when he couldn’t sense her he felt confident she wasn’t anywhere near. He hoped maybe that meant he was over worrying and thinking this entire situation. He stayed vigilant as he returned to his home then quickly went inside. Antigone didn’t seem to be home yet but he hadn’t expected her to be, even with his text since he told her to stay out.

Paruush decided to take care of some laundry. There was a large pile in one of their guest rooms, large enough to possibly keep him busy until his mate returned. He’d be able to help Anigone out and not simply pace around, alone and worrying. About half an hour later he heard Antigone come through the front door. Having his senses still working as hard as they could he could tell their baby boy was sleeping so he quietly began walking to baby Larsens room.

Antigones smile when she looked at him made his heart stutter as he instantly smiled back at her. She walked past him, laying their baby down then quietly creeping out. “so, whats up baby? Do you mind talking to me in the kitchen? I’m starving”

“That’s fine” she began walking down the stairs “do we have any chicken salad left?”

“yeah, only enough for one sandwich though I think. Do you want me to make more?”

“No” she laughed a little as she said it then added “you seem so tense baby. Are you sure it’s nothing bad?”

“well, I went outside to write some music today and there was a woman out there, a succubus”

“oh?” it was such an unassuming no, like she didn’t worry a bad thing at all happened but then again her family was like that. They held their judgement instead of just assuming things about creatures based off their species. “she was naked and she came on to me but I promise nothing happened…she even tried to use her magic when I said no…I ended up having to throw her off of me” she had been in the fridge pulling the chicken salad out so Antigone set it on the counter with her bread then asked “did she hurt you?”

“you don’t sound worried at all”

“nothing happened right? I mean, did she hurt you”

“Of course not. I’m not hurt and nothing happened”

“then thats that, you’re attractive, of course she tried. Just because she was around here doesn’t mean she knows about our children and myself”

“I told her about you and thats when she used her magic” Antigone could feel how tense he was so she put the butter knife down and hugged him “were you actually worried I’d think anything or what?”

“I was worried about a lot of things. What if she wont go away”

“I’m sure she will and if she wont we’ll take care of it.” He kissed her head “I just love you so much.”

“I know you do and thats why she couldn’t force you to change your mind. You love this family just as much as the boys and I love you. It’s all going to be okay Paruush”

He tucked her hair back. “Just promise me if she confronts you, you’ll walk away, especially if you have the baby with you. I don’t want either of you getting hurt, it would kill me.”

“I promise baby.”

Paruush let her go so she could make herself something to eat, relieved their talk had gone so well. He never wanted her to think he would cheat on her or leave her, he loved her more than life and he refused to ever be the reason she cried again. Once she had her sandwich made and everything put away they went and sat in the living room. Paruush switched on the TV, keeping the volume low in case their son needed them.

“So, what were you working on before you got attacked?” Antigone asked.

“I didn’t really get to start. It would have been nice to be able to write another one for you.”

“You’re too sweet and don’t worry about it, you’ll have plenty of other chances to write.”

“I also want to work on a lullaby.”

“I be it’ll be beautiful.”

He smiled. “So, did you have fun? I didn’t ruin it did I?”

“I did and no, you didn’t. I’m just glad that you’re okay and nothing bad happened.”

Chapter Two

“just another case of me over worrying I guess”

“You want to keep us safe and happy, nothing wrong with that. You were also raised to be more cautious than me. I mean, I’ve been getting myself out of tight spots since I was a child”

“that time you, your brother and your mother got pulled underground into that labyrinth?”

“yeah, as a mother myself now though, I can’t imagine how my mom felt before she found us. I know our son Kiral is having fun and is in no way in danger and its hard”

“I’m happy you were able to let him go though. I can’t wait to hear all about it. He was so excited when he left” she yawned and Paruush smiled “we should get you to bed”

“I want to be with you a bit longer”

“Larsen is going to wake up and I promise to get up with you”

“hey, you turned down a succubus for me today. I want to stay up with you” he chuckled “she wasn’t even tempting my love” he lifted her off the couch “come on, a short nap at the very least”

“will you lay with me?”

“of course and by the way I took care of that mountain in the guest room”

“Oh no way, thank you”

“its my laundry too”

“still, you’re a sweet man” he was now tucking her into their bed, smiling down at his gorgeous mate “I just love you so immensely Antigone” He got in beside her and kissed Antigones cheek before he began to lightly rub her to get his beloved to drift while she could. He waited until she was completely out before checking the protective spells on their home. There wasn’t any reason their protections should be messed with but he had to be sure. Once he was confident they could sleep safely he looked in on their son. Seeing he was soundly out Paruush returned to Antigone, ready to rest so he would be awake enough to spend time with her later tonight when their son was up.

Next thing he knew Larson was crying and Antigone was already out of the room. He was just out of their bedroom when the crying stopped. He found his mate in the rocking chair, feeding their little one “you’re so fast” Paruush said “you just take longer to wake when he cries” she answered softly. “he actually might go right back to sleep. Look at his tired little face. He’s going to grow soon, especially how hes eating”

“he does look exhausted”

“he had a big day too getting passed around. They were practically fighting over him at points” When he was done she attempted to lay him back down, singing to bring her little one comfort. Larson went right back to sleep so they returned to their bedroom. Now that Paruush had talked her into laying down she could feel how tired she was and was ready to get more rest “do you want me to stay up” she asked in her sleepy voice. He kissed her “No, you’re tired too and I’d love nothing more than to hold you while we both rest”

Antigone woke a little while later, her stomach growling. She was amazed at how hungry breastfeeding made her. She started to get up and Paruush held her tighter. “Where are you going?” He asked softly.

“To get a snack.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“Baby, it’ll be fine.”

“But what if she shows up or something?” He sat up and yawned. “Just let me go with you.”

“Alright baby, calm down.”

“Sorry, I did my best to make sure she couldn’t find our home, but just in case.”

As they walked to the kitchen she said “Maybe we should go somewhere for a bit. My Aunt and Uncle, Ella and Atticus have been begging us to go explore..gosh what was that place called again…”

“They wanted us to go visit some demons with them in a land called Barense. Nigel and Vina I believe, Ella has been going a lot”

“I think she likes someone around there. It’s weird for her to go anywhere without her twin Atticus, I mean they even have lived together their entire adult life. Aren’t you curious? We could get away and see why she goes there” he chuckled “you think the baby is ready to travel like that?”

“My grandpa, Declan can make sure we get through okay while we let this succubus nonsense blow over. You know I wouldn’t consider going to another world if I wasn’t completely confident our son would be okay. We still have two weeks before Kiral comes home too and if he’s sent home early for some reason I have a ton of family here who would mind him until we got back. You’re such a worry wart, you’re just going to be tense if we don’t go somewhere” They ate together and when morning came Antigone called her Aunt and Uncles home. It was Atticus who answered “No way, you want to come”

“yeah, we need to get out of our house. Some drama happened and I think a fun trip would be perfect. We’d have a place to stay there right? Our son is still too young for camping out”

“yeah, we can sleep at Nigels or Mered’s”

“Ohhh who’s Mered?” Her Uncle chuckled at her question “most likely the reason my sister will even go there when I don’t feel like it. Thats why you want to go isn’t it?”

Antigone laughed. “Now why would you think that?”

“Because I’m your uncle and I know you.”

“Maybe that’s part of it and I’ll explain the rest once we see you.”

“Alright then. Why don’t you two go ahead and pack then head over. We were planning to leave after lunch.”

“Sounds good, we’ll see you soon.” She hung up and turned to Paruush. “They’re leaving today so if you get Larson bathed and changed, I’ll pack.”

“If you need my help, call me okay?”

“I will, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Once they were ready they went over to her grandparents house. Declan was already ready, saying a protective spell over their little one to be sure going to another world wouldn’t harm him in any way. “thanks grandpa”

“anything for you and my great grandchildren. Be safe and kick ass if you need to but more importantly let Paruush handle things on his own if its real danger so you can get the baby far away. Don’t be stubborn. I know Cleary women weren’t built for letting a man handle it but still, I can’t imagine life without little Larsen”

“I know, I always put my babies first. Please make sure to check in at our place incase something happens with Kiral”

“your grandma and I can just stay over there”

“Oh you don’t have to”

“it wont be trouble sweetheart. It’ll give you peace of mind”

“Just be careful of the succubus. One was bothering Paruush. It’s why we want to go somewhere for awhile”

“a succubus is no match for your grandmother, my self or your grandmothers clan”

“I know, I just needed to warn you”

“Hurry on to your aunt and uncle.” Antigone kissed his cheek then left with Paruush. “everythings going to be great Paruush. I’m so glad my grandparents are going to be over there” When they arrived at her relatives place they were ready to go so they almost immedietly set off “Oh my gosh, how is he even more precious than he was the other day?” Ella asked and Antigone smiled “I don’t know either”

“so whats this drama?” Atticus asked and Paruush filled them in on everything “good thing you didn’t cheat on our niece.”

“there would have been hell to pay” Ella added, causing Antigone to say “guys”

“what?” Atticus asked and Antigone shook her head. They had made their own portal close by, it was how they were coming and going so easily and so often. “are you three ready?” Ella asked “yeah, lets go” Antigone answered so they stepped through, instantly finding themselves in a new world. All being vampires they took off flying, Ella excited to show off her family to her friends here. She also felt Antigone would love it around this area.

As they passed things Ella made sure to tell Antigone all about it which she appreciated. Paruush was already starting to relax, happy to be far from that terrible woman. He really didn’t want to encounter her again, he didn’t want to risk her magic somehow working and causing him to hurt the love of his life. They went straight for Mered home but he wasn’t there much to Ellas surprise “did he know you were coming?”

“I thought so but he could have thought I meant later since most the stuff we talked about would be after sunset”

“Ohhh I see”

“shut up Atticus. I told you I don’t like him”

“riight”

“I don’t and he doesnt like me like that..I dont so much as speed up his heart beat”

“eh, what does that mean with a demon like him? I’m pretty sure if he didn’t want you to know he had feelings for you he could manage to control even things that would happen naturally”

“we’re just friends we’ll always be friends.”

“well lets see if he’s at his daughters home. Tahairah goes crazy over babies so we might aswell let her meet Larsen first”

“okay, so Tahairah can meet Larsen” her brother smiled and she elbowed him “stop it, he likes Tamlin. I’ll bet you he’s with her right now. I’m happy just being friends. I’m friends with lots of men and you only tease me about him, why?”

“because I know you like him and you can lie to me all you want but you’re different now”

“I’m not”

“you are Ella, you almost never went anywhere without Atticus your entire life until now”

“well…I” she was blushing and Atticus chuckled, receiving a light slap to the back of the head “you guys are mean” she said as she tried to stop. She wished they’d leave her alone about it, especially since he really wasn’t interested and she was fine with it. Friends was fine, she’d find someone else to be attracted to eventually. She had to since Mered wanted someone else. They arrived at Tahairahs and the twins introduced them “Oh my gosh, may I please hold your baby. It’s okay if I cant, I know it might be weird since you don’t know me”

“It’s fine by me. I trust my Aunt and Uncles judgement with people” Tahairah squealed, letting them in so they could all sit down and she could get her hands on that adorable baby in Antigones arms. “come here sweetheart” Tahairah said as she gently took him “so his names Larsen?” she checked and Antigone nodded. “Do you have any others?” Cadoc asked “yeah, Kiral is at summer camp. He’s nine”

“summer camp?”

“it’s something kids like to go to in our world”

“cool”

“so where’s your dad?” Atticus asked and Tahairah said “with Tamlin, they are gathering something or another again” Ella looked over at her brother with an expression that said “see” she then actually spoke to Tahairah “well we’ll stay here a little bit then head over to Nigels then”

“you dont want me or Cadoc to tell him you’re here. He’s not far I don’t think”

“Oh no, I’m here earlier than he expected I’m sure. I don’t want to mess with his other plans. It would be rude”

“he wouldn’t care” she waved her hands “seriously, it’s okay.”

“we don’t even have to pull him away. We can just show you where he is and spend time with your niece, her husband and baby” Ella smiled “you’re so sweet but I really don’t want to be rude or intrusive. I come here all the time. He needs to spend time with just his other friends too”

Cadoc glanced Tahairah who shook her head. They would let him know later then. Cadoc almost had the urge to go and do what Mered had done to him, but he resisted the urge to shake sense into him. Besides, Tahairah knew her father better than he did and he was sure she would say something. “So what brings you three here?” Cadoc asked Antigone.

“Paruush was worried about this succubus that threw herself at him. He didn’t want her trying to hurt us and I knew he would stress about it so I recommended we come here.”

“Well you don’t have to worry about her getting to you here or at my father’s house.”

“He’s right, Nigel is quite powerful and then there’s my father.”

“He’d probably threaten to throw her off a cliff or something.”

“He would not.”

“Yes he would. I’m not saying he’d let her die, just that he’d throw her off of one.”

Chapter Three

Atticus chuckled “that sounds like Mered alright” They talked and laughed for a few hours before Ella said “I really want them to meet NIgel and Vina really quick too. Do you guys want to come?”

“we’ll meet you at my dads later okay? There’s something I need to do” Tahairah answered so they all hugged then parted. “You guys are going to love Nigel and Vina. Vina is a bunny too”

“I’m jealous of those cute ears” Antigone said and Paruush spoke “you’re perfect the way you are”

“you two are so sweet” Ella pointed out. Nigel and Vina seemed excited to see them and once more Ella introduced everyone. “well welcome to our land. Do you like it so far?”

“what I’ve seen yes. Your son is sweet, I met him and Tahairah”

“where’s Mered? He’s normally with you when your here” Nigel asked and Ella answered “he’s somewhere with Tamlin. I think he might not have understood when I was coming but it’s fine. You all are my friends too you know” Nigel smiled “I know” Before she had to argue with someone else about getting him or not she said “why don’t we show them that beautiful valley with all the honeysuckles”

“sure” Vina said and Antigone agreed it would be a good idea. When they arrived Larsen seemed to love it there, he was so alert and seemed to want to be set down. They all sat with the little one, enjoying the sweet smell of the air here as they talked and hungout together. “that white hair seems to be pretty prevalent in your family Antigone”

“Yeah, we get it from Ellas dad”

“it’s pretty, my daughter has white hair too and I know you’ve seen my son does. I’m not sure where they got it. I never met my parents so maybe from them. Anyway, How long are you staying?”

“I don’t know, at least through tomorrow”

“We’ll have to make sure you meet Luca and Panya before you leave”

Mered looked up as he caught wind of his daughter’s and son-in-law’s scents, his posture going from relaxed to protective. “Did something happen?” He asked as he dropped a handful of wild carrots into his basket.

“Ella and some of her family is here. They stopped by your place, but you weren’t there.” Tahairah said.

“I missed her?”

“Only just. She went to Nigel and Vina’s. Antigone and Paruush came with them. They have their little one with him. He’s incredibly cute.” Mered glanced at Tamlin. “Well if you are otherwise engaged then I can just tell her so.”

“Engaged?”

“We don’t know how long she’s staying, but if you’re busy we’ll make sure she knows.” Cadoc had to force himself not to laugh at the look on Mered’s face. Tahairah never spoke to him like that and he looked so confused and a little surprised.

“No, I can go back. Tamlin, you can gather the rest on your own right?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“Alright then, I’ll get cleaned up then.”

Vina gave Larsen back as soon as he started fussing and Antigone started to leave to feed him when she was stopped. “You don’t have to run off, you can feed him here if it’s more comfortable.” Vina said with a warm smile.

“Thank you, I never know with some people. My family’s pretty open, but I wasn’t sure.”

“It’s the same for us.”

He took off as fast as he could for home, feeling terrible she was already here and he had missed her. He hadn’t thought she was coming until sunset. Now he had apparently missed all this time with her because he had been out trying to get things done while she wasn’t with him. He wondered why his daughter hadn’t come for him right away, she knew how much he cared about Ella and his time with her. He guessed he should have asked before taking off but he needed to hurry. Mered quickly cleaned himself up and changed before going to Nigels home and following their scents to the honeysuckle field. There she was, his beautiful goddess Ella. She had taken his breath away yet again but he got himself together before she saw him flustered.

She hadn’t noticed him coming until he was right beside her “Ella, aren’t you early?”

“I think we had a miscommunication but I’ve been having fun. Where is Tamlin?”

“still gathering vegetables for our pantries”

“ah, why did you leave her to do it? You could have finished” He shook his head “why didn’t you have my daughter show you where I was”

“I come here all the time.” he looked just as confused as when his daughter had talked to him earlier “well maybe you want to be alone with Tamlin sometime”

“why?” Ella sighed “well its good to see you” he didn’t let it drop “If I’m not home when you get here I misunderstood when you’re coming. Please, next time have her get me or have her lead you to me. I enjoy your visits, the more you come the happier I am. You come because I invite you most the time”

“Okay” Mered frowned, feeling guilty and hating how she seemed a little hurt. He had made her something to give her later but he wanted to make her happy before her sadness made him lose too much control over himself so he asked “could we go back to my place, please, just us?”

“I can’t leave my niece”

“Of course you can, go, Atticus is with us” Antigone quickly said. Ella looked back at Mered “Okay then” he smiled, then walked away with her. “so you know him well?”

“I’ve known him a very long time”

“does he love my aunt?”

“Yes, he’s just never actually cared about a woman, besides his daughter of course. He’s a good demon now but he used to be completely self centered. Women were for sex if he wasn’t killing them because he thought killing in general was fun. He stopped thinking like that long ago but still, it’s basically like a preteen boy with his first crush”

“as long as he loves her thats all I care about. Ella doesn’t have a ton of experience from what I know either with relationships. It’s almost always been her and Atticus in my dads old house” Atticus nodded “she’s not a virgin but there’s only ever been two men and one was when we were fourteen. The last one was when Antigone was a baby”

“really?”

“we’re always out doing something, neither of us had time to date until she met Mered and suddenly started making time to be with someone else. I’m happy for her, maybe I’ll find someone now”

“Maybe you and Tamlin would hit it off, get rid of this imaginary competition Ella seems to think she has” Nigel suggested. Aticus smiled “Maybe, do you think she’ll come around?”

“No idea, it depends on what they were out there doing. She’s finishing up alone”

“I’ll go help her if you are comfortable with these people Antigone”

“I’m comfortable”

“good, I’ll find Tahairah so she can show me”

“Is everything alright, Ella?” Mered asked as they walked.

“It’s fine.”

“You just seem mad at me. I’m sorry that I missed you.”

Ella sighed. She was acting so immature. “It’s alright.”

“As long as you’re sure.”

“I am.”

He just nodded, but wondered what he had done wrong. If it wasn’t him not being home then what was it? Had he said something bad? The rest of their walk was in silence as he tried to think of any mistakes he had made. When they made it to his home, he invited her in and asked that she wait for him in the living room while he hurried to his room to grab her gift.

He came back with a gorgeous necklace made of many different stones. They were all different but he had arranged them in such a way they looked perfect together. “thats really for me?”

“well, remember the first time you spent a week here with me?”

“yeah, I wanted to really see this place. It was also the first time I came without my brother” he nodded “well everywhere we went you’d see some sort of stones you liked and you proceeded to tell me how much you had always loved different kinds of rocks because they are such unique things..well” he was starting to actually look nervous which surprised her. He never looked nervous, he was always collected, like nothing in the world truly effected him in any way. His emotions were showing because he was scared she’d think he was weird “when you weren’t looking I made sure to grab every rock you pointed out to me. I wanted to save them for you but then when we were back at my home after our week…well..it went so well and I thought you might think I was some sort of creep for doing it so I just kept them. I was cleaning up recently and found them again. I couldn’t just let them sit again, I guess I was hoping if you thought it was weird at this point you had known me long enough that you wouldn’t quit seeing me”

She gently took it from him, feeling tears trying to climb out of her eyes. “How would that be weird…I think that’s sweet. It’s so beautiful Mered. How did you even do this to them?”

“it would take awhile to explain but I’m happy to explain it to you. I can make us coffee and we can sit on the couch together for a bit. We still have at least an hour until I thought you were getting here” She hugged him and he had to mentally steady himself so he wouldn’t shake from the nerves “calm down” he commanded of himself as he held her close.

“Oh, hello.” Tamlin said when Atticus walked up. “Everything alright?”

“Yes, I thought I’d give you a hand, if that’s okay.”

“Of course. Did Mered make up with Ella?”

“I hope so, the poor idiot.”

Tamlin laughed. “He is kind of dense isn’t he?”

“Maybe a little. So what are you picking?”

“Wild carrots.” She pulled one out of the ground and walked over to him, showing him the plant. “They look like this, but if they have purple on them toss them out.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re actually a toxic look alike.”

“Alright, good to know.” She smiled and he felt his heart skip a beat. Even covered in dirt she was beautiful.

He got to work helping her, chatting about different plants and their uses. She even got him to take a bite of one of the carrots which he was amazed tasted and smelled like the ones they often bought from the store. “So, does Ella think Mered and I are in a relationship?”

“Yes.”

“How silly. I couldn’t see myself ever dating him and Ella is all he can talk about.”

“Really?”

“He truly loves her, I only wish he would say something.”

Atticus chuckled. “It’s not easy telling someone you love them and it’s a million times harder for someone like Mered.”

“yeah, when I push him about talking to her his past comes up a lot and fear he wont make her happy. It’s honestly sweet how much he worries about that. He’s been with a lot of women but he’s never cared if they were happy or not so he feels like its the same as having no experience since he only cared about himself. He’s just over thinking it though as people often do. I mean, she already enjoys her time with him. I’ve even told him that she wouldn’t come as often as she does if he wasn’t capable of making her happy. In his years raising his daughter he became much softer and kinder than he realizes. I think once they get together they are going to be really happy but he needs to be the one to tell her so theres nothing I can do but encourage him to confess his feelings”

“well they are immortal, it will happen”

“So you’d be happy for them if they were together?”

“yeah, why wouldn’t I be? He can’t help his past and he’s good to her. Besides, even if I did want to get in the way I couldn’t. Women in my family don’t take kindly to being told what to do. She’d listen to what I had to say but in the end if she didn’t want to listen she wouldn’t” Tamlin laughed and Atticus’s heart stuttered “yeah, Ella is awesome. I can’t wait to meet your niece and her husband too”

Chapter Four

“Well maybe after this you can come back with me?”

“As long as you walk me home first to drop everything off.”

“Deal.”

Antigone and Paruush followed Nigel and Vina as they showed off a little bit of their world. They both had to admit it was a gorgeous place and wondered why they had never taken the time to come with Atticus before. Larsen slept soundly in Paruush’s arms, enjoying the sounds of nature around them. “He’s so content.” Antigone said.

“He knows he’s safe.” Paruush replied softly. “I wonder how everything back home is doing? I hope that woman hasn’t been bothering anyone.”

“You know my grandfather would get rid of her in an instant.”

“I know, it’s just such a bother. It’s almost like I had a neon sign above my head that said please harass.”

Antigone laughed. “I don’t see one, maybe the bulb went out.”

“I hope so.” He smiled because he couldn’t help himself. She was always good at lightening the mood.

When evening came Ella felt she should go see if her niece wanted to come with them and Mered agreed. He glanced at the necklace he made her as they walked out. He was so relieved he had actually made her happy. It was hard not knowing what to do at all now that he had fallen in love. He had already upset her once this trip and that was once too many. She brought so much happiness to his life and he had barely been ready to feel this new emotion, the intense love that comes with finding your soulmate. Mered was sure he wasn’t ready to experience what heartbreak felt like for the first time and losing Ellas attention would definitely break his heart. He could hardly stand it if she went a few days without coming.

“Hey, what’re you two doing here?” Antigone asked when her Aunt and Mered stepped through the door “would you like to come with us tonight? We’ll be going too far to come back so we’ll be sleeping outside but I still wanted to invite you. You guys could come just for the first two things, those wont be too far to come back”

“Thats so thoughtful Ella but we’re having fun with Nigel, Vina, Tahairah, Cadoc, Atticus and Tamlin”

“and all of us feel like relaxing in here so go have fun you two.” Ella blushed as Tahairah finished talking at the thought of going alone with him. They hadn’t gone out alone together over night since around the time she first met him. Taking his daughters old room in his home was one thing, sleeping right next to him outside just felt different. She was surprised not even Tamlin was getting up to come “Okay guys, if everyone is sure”

‘we are, have a good time and Mered, you keep my sister safe” Atticus added. “I guarantee you. I’d have to be dead for anything to harm her and I’m an impossible thing to kill”

“Impossible to kill?” Atticus couldn’t resist asking. Mered nodded “There is only one way to kill me and it’s a multiple step process. Many have tried but I’ve never told anybody how, not even my daughter so nobody besides creatures like me know how. Tahairah doesn’t know not because I don’t trust her but because I don’t want anybody to ever even think to harm her to find out. Sadly such was the fate of my fathers mate. He told her and it eventually cost her her life. He killed the man who killed her but that didn’t bring his mate back” Nigel nodded solemnly “He still looks for her doesn’t he?”

“yes, he always will unless he finds her reincarnation. Relationships are never the same once you find your mate. He tried and tried to move on with different women, including my mother but you can’t just be with anybody when you find them” He naturally looked down at Ella, blushing when he noticed his daughter stareing at him. He cleared his throat “she is safe Atticus, I promise” Ellas heart was pounding at all this talk of mates. She felt like Mered was hers but she also still felt like he didn’t feel the same way.

When they were gone Atticus said “being that hard to kill is cool, shame about his dads mate though”

Nigel answered Atticus “I think thats what messed his father up and in turn messed Mered up. Mereds father only cared about finding his mate one day and the anger he had over her loss made him a terrible, wicked thing. Theres never really an excuse for murder and for teh other things we did but if you really knew Mered’s story I think you could all understand why he was so bad for such a long time. I’m just happy he found a reason to be better when he found you Tahairah”

She now spoke “and now he has his mate, well, at least has her in his life.”

Nigel and Vina were both happy when Panya and Luca showed up and they immediately introduced them to Antigone, Paruush and little Larsen who Panya fell in love with the moment she set eyes on him. She would up looking at Luca as she rocked the baby and everyone could see the want in her eyes. It actually had some of them laughing at how suddenly embarrassed Luca looked. “I hope the trip here was uneventful.” Panya said.

“Oh yes, very quiet. It’s been nice all day.” Antigone said.

“Daddy, we should take them to see the unicorns. They should be done giving birth and I bet they’d love the foals.”

“Tomorrow baby, especially with the little one, I don’t want to exhaust them too much and it’s a little bit of a hike.”

“we’d love to tomorrow” Antigone said cheerfully then Vina suggested ” for now, how about we figure out dinner”

“I’ll help, you all just stay in here with our guests” Nigel said as he got up and walked with Vina into their kitchen. “Your baby is just too precious”

“His older brother is adorable too. He doesn’t like to be called adorable any more though” Panya lightly giggled “little boys always want to be seen as so tough. How old is you older son?”

“Kiral is nine”

“bring him back here soon. Your Aunt and Uncle come all the time”

“and maybe you will have babies for mine to play with soon” Luca was blushing again but seemed happy as Panya took his hand in hers “Hopefully” Dinner came surprisingly fast, time whizzing by as they continued to hangout with this amazing family. They just clicked so well and it made Antigone hope all the more things worked out between Mered and her Aunt Ella. Late that evening as Ella began to get drowsy Mered spoke and she could hear a faint hint of nervousness in his voice. “you know, it’s just us this time…maybe I should hold you to make sure you’re safe and warm through the night” she blushed “Oh, um, okay”

They cuddled up to one another and Mered was finally unable to stop his heart from fluttering or able to stop goosebumps from forming at how amazing it felt to even just hold her. She noticed it right away “you…you do like me?”

“what?” He knew he sounded like an idiot but he had to try and play it off “I…I was just trying to make sure you were safe and warm”

“The way you reacted to me cuddling up to you like that says otherwise. Has my brother been right? Have you been trying to hide it?” he swallowed, holding her just a little tighter “yes..”

“why would you hide that from me?”

“sometimes I know and sometimes I don’t Ella” She got out of his arms, wanting to look at him as they spoke so he sat up with her “what does that mean?”

“It means I’ve done a lot of really terrible things and while I know you know some of it you don’t know all of it and it wouldn’t be right to be with you if you don’t know everything”

“then just tell me everything”

“You say that like it’s simple….do you realize you’d obliterate my heart if you stopped coming to see me?”

“I’m not going anywhere so just talk to me Mered.” He cupped her cheek, staring into her eyes. Ella could see the worry and inner turmoil so she raised her hand, gently placing it on his “Please talk to me, I love you…I want us to be together…I…all this time I thought you liked Tamlin” his face scrunched in confusion “Tamlin, why?” even the way he asked made it sound like he thought that was absolutely absurd. “I dont know, you spend a lot of time with her and…I guess insecurity”

“I’m about as interested in her as I am in Nigel. You are who I love I just worry over a lot and it makes me afraid to talk to you about my feelings. I never actually dated a woman before so even if you could forgive my entire past I might be terrible at being a mate even though all I ever want is to be the reason you’re happy. I just, I never cared about women really. I only bothered at all when I wanted sex and you deserve so much Ella. I wouldn’t be able to stand myself if I made you miserable with me”

“Tell me, I trust you and I won’t run away.”

He swallowed, his heart tripping over itself as he gathered his courage. “Alright, but let me apologize for everything. I know that there are things I have done that are unforgivable.”

“It’s alright.”

He pulled her into his lap and she ran her fingers gently through his hair as she waited patiently for him to speak. He took a shaky breath and began, starting at the very beginning. He didn’t want to make excuses for himself, but he felt that if she knew what his childhood was like then maybe it would give her some context. His stomach was in knots and he wondered if this is what it had been like for Nigel. It was hard to look her in the eye as he spoke, afraid of what he might see there if he did. Horror? Disgust? He would deserve it, but he didn’t know if he could handle it.

When he finished she said softly “even knowing all that I still love you Mered. As long as you’d never do any of those things ever again I’d love to be your mate”

“I wouldn’t, raising Tahairah made me see how horrible of a being I was. As she grew so did I”

“I see that which is why I still love you and want to be with you”

“May I kiss you? I’ve been wanting to for so long” Her heart trembled as she moved to kiss him. Mered actually moaned against Ellas lips it felt so good to finally be kissing her. When she pulled back he said “please say something when I’m being an ass or doing something selfish. I really do want to be a good mate.”

“You make me so incredibly happy already Mered. You’re sweet and fun and thoughtful…I’m happy this is finally happening…I really thought it was Tamlin you wanted to be with” He kissed her again, a little more passionately this time. “There is no other woman for me than you Ella. Would you stay here with me? I know Atticus is your twin but…my daughter is here. She has a mate now but I of all people know how cruel and vicious creatures can be. I’d worry all the time being another world away from her. If you have to think about it thats okay and if you want to just keep seeing eachother how we see eachother now thats okay too…and if it does mean a lot to you I can start to come to terms to moving to a different world for you because you mean everything to me…I just really hope you’d come here so I can continue to look out for my daughter.”

Ella’s heart fluttered in her chest and she felt herself tear up a little. “You really want me to live with you?”

“I do, if you’ll have me, I want you here always. I want to hold you when I fall asleep and wake up to this beautiful face every morning.” He stroked her cheek. “Please don’t cry.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just so happy. I’ll talk to Atticus.”

“Do you think he’ll be alright with you leaving?”

“He’ll be sad I’m sure, but I know he’ll be happy for me and he also knows he can visit me as much as he wants.”

He pressed their foreheads together. “I love you so much Ella, thank you for staying, I don’t know what I would do if you had left me.”

“I love you too.”

When the sun rose over the horizon to light up the world around them Antigone had already been up with Larsen. She was happy to get to witness just how gorgeous the sunrise was. She could see it perfectly out of their window as she comforted her little one. “soon we’ll get to see unicorns. I wish you were old enough to remember but I wager we can come see them again when you’re big enough to enjoy it”

“Good morning” Panya said cheerfully “Oh, did I wake you? I’m so sorry”

“No no, I’m just excited about the unicorns too…um…may I hold him again?”

“Of course, he’s a little fussy right now so don’t let it hurt your feelings if he gets upset” She took him and he readily went, causing Antigone to smile “you’ll make a good mom. I saw the way you looked at my son and then your mate”

“Lucas on board to start trying, we talked about it last night”

“even when mine keep me up I couldn’t feel happier. They bring a joy to your life that’s indescribable” The two women talked until the rest of the house was up and ready to head out. Paruush knew Antigone had been up again so he carried his mate while she held their son. He’d honestly take any excuse to have her in his arms. When they arrived Paruush and Vina did and went precisely what and where they were told, soon getting the gift of seeing the unicorns and their babies “Oh my gosh” Antigone said quietly and Paruush smiled, kissing her on the cheek. He loved seeing her this happy.

The beautiful creatures were lively, some happily playing with their young while others were still gently teaching their babies to walk. It was heart warming to see. It made her miss her older son again but she reminded herself like always, he was having fun and completely safe. They stayed until lunch time rolled around then went to a group of trees that were bountiful with fruit. “everything in these trees is safe to eat but if you see any snakes or bugs ask us first before interacting with them” Paruush nodded, getting some down for himself and his mate.

“How do you think Ella’s doing?” Antigone asked Atticus as they relaxed and ate.

“Good, I can feel it.” He chuckled. “I think I’m going to tease her for the rest of her life.”

“Be good uncle.”

“You know I can’t help it. I told her he was in love with her, but she didn’t believe me so I have to mess with her a little.”

“We have to tease Mered just as much then. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone tip toe around something so hard in my life.” Nigel said with a laugh.

“I’m just glad he finally found the courage to tell her, that is if he actually did.” Tamlin said.

“He definitely did.” Atticus said with a smile.

“it must be cool to have a twin, to be so in sync with someone”

“yeah, she’s been my best friend all our lives. Do you have any siblings Tamlin?”

“No, how many siblings do you have besides Ella?”

“Four”

“wow, are you all close?” Antigone just enjoyed listening to the two of them get to know eachother. It was obvious there was something already growing between them which was good to see. This way her Aunt and Uncle could both move on with a mate at roughly the same time so neither would have to adjust to not being with the other all the time on their own. When they saw Mered and Ella a few days later they announced they were together then Ella took her brother to the side to talk to him. “you want to live here with him” she smiled, he always knew “yeah, I thought we should talk about it alone.” He set a hand on her shoulder “I saw this coming and I’m happy for you. We may be twins but we couldn’t stay attached to eachothers hip forever..besides”

He spoke a little lower “I like Tamlin so it’s a good time”

“really?” Ella asked excitedly. Atticus chuckled “I gave you time so give me time, don’t go telling anyone”

“I wont”

“I love you sis”

“i love you too”

Antigone and Paruush stayed until the day before their son was supposed to come home from camp, happy to find the succubus had shown up but Declan had insured she wouldn’t return “what did you say grandpa?” He kissed her head “I just made it clear what happens to people who try and mess with my family, especially my grandchildren. Did you have a nice trip?”

“yeah, Ella and Atticus have mates. Ella is with Mered and Atticus hasn’t told Tamlin yet. Everything there was amazing too. I want to take Kiral sometime”

“we should all go since two of my children have found mates there” Declan and Rylan spent the night, eager to see their great grandson when he got home tomorrow. Antigone and Paruush laid cuddled peacefully in their bed, feeling their life couldn’t possibly get better.

~ The End