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Aurelia & Rees 2

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

“Yeah and…I’ve been suspicious for about a month now so I’ve had a lot of time to think. I really want to seek out my parents. I’ve wanted so badly to introduce them to you, Pretoria and Brynmor anyway and now that they’ll have, well, sort of their first grandchild it’s time. I know you’re scared for me to leave but you three will be right with me Rees” She had returned to him almost three years ago and as frightening as it truly was she was right so he fought down his protective instincts and agreed they should journey to find her parents. “How will we find them though” she walked over to a nearby drawer and pulled out a necklace. read more

Wolfric & Merle 3

Chapter One

Wolfric and Merle had been happily married twenty four years now and had their winery for fourteen. It had taken a long time to pick the perfect location, find a good staff, get equipment and a long list of other things they hadn’t known about when they decided they wanted to do this. They hadn’t stressed along the way though. Getting it going was part of their enjoyment. Merle already had more money than they could spend and even though they moved to live on location Wolfric had easily gotten his business going in the area, due in no small part to Merle practically over advertising his dentist office. The winery was just fun, something for them to do as a couple so accomplishing things took however long it took.

Late one night a knock sounded at the door of their home while Wolfric was cooking dinner and his mate, Merle was in their library reading. Wolfric turned the bruners all down to low then went to answer the door, knowing his mate would be too into the book to hear the sounds of knocking. They hadn’t been expected company so he simply thought it was some sort of rush delivery Merle had ordered. Just the fact it was a nicely dressed young man with no package in his hadn startled Wolfric but then when he realized the young man had a strong resemblance to him his heart began racing with confusion “Um…hello” the man started nervously. He was the exact same height as wolfric at 5’11, he had his blue eyes and blond hair but at the same time he was starting to see Merle stance, his gaze.

Keoki could see the realization and panic start to set in “please, let me speak. I’m Keoki and by the look on your face I can tell you notice I look a lot like you and your husband. I’m actually kind of glad because I need you to believe me. I’m in a hurry and when my technical mother finds out I’m gone…especially where I am she’s going to lock me up so listen, please, I had to meet you.” Merle didn’t hear much when he was reading but his mates heart going wild was something he would never miss. Just as Keoki realized Merle was there he was being hauled inside roughly “merle” Wolfric started as Merle shoved him onto the couch “what’re you doing at our home so late at night” he growled but realization was starting to hit him too. “listen to him Merle” Wolfirc said and Keoki began nervously speaking again.

“I’m…I’m sure you heard my name is Keoki…I’m your kid and I know that doesn’t make any sense. You see my creator has always wanted to make a breakthrough in the scientific community by making gay couples able to have their true own children, nobody else involved besides scientists. You…you’d have to question her to know how she made me because she wont even tell me all the details but I do know I’m her first truly successful experiment. All her other ones wont grow or die before ten…there’s a five and nine year old still there but I…I didn’t want to be slowed down. I wanted to meet my parents and tell anybody about us…she’s doing what she’s doing in secret because well…I wasn’t made in the traditional sense…I dont know what to say I am besides I was made from yours and Wolfircs DNA sir”

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

“because you’re an Amarok?” Keoki asked, hoping he believed him. Last time he escaped she had convinced the people that found him he was crazy and managed to get him back into her care. “yes”

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

“No”

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

“Yes but she has strong magic. You wont believe me once we go. I didn’t make it here last time and the people that found me” Merle interrupted him “she isn’t fooling anybody anymore. We’re getting the two other children. We wont leave them to be hurt or leave her to experiment any longer. Technically what shes doing could make a lot of beings happy but the way she’s doing it sounds cruel. I can tell she’s hurt you, I believe you, we both believe you Keoki”

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

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

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

“You know about them?” Merle asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“she wont have you back, I promise.”

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

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

“The five year old but…I…I dont want to get your hopes up too high. She hasn’t been doing too well. My creator is expecting her to die, she doesn’t even teach her anymore. I think it’s because she’s so frustrated. She used the last bit of DNA she had of you two on that girl. The nine year old is from a couple in another world. My creator is a traveler. Their names are Alvah and Daray. He’s a straightforward vampire and he’s still doing well. She thinks he might be the second to actually live past ten. She’s apparently been doing this an incredibly long time though I don’t know precisely how long before I was her first success.”

“does sh eonly try with male couples?”

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

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

“what does she do with you guys when you…” Merle couldn’t say it. He had never met this little girl but his heart still hung heavy thinking she might die before he met her. Keoki gathered what he was asking “she’ll burn her body. She says she cant have people finding out until she has a strong success rate with making children” His voice cracked a little. “we’re just experiments. She doesn’t care” Guilt was starting to overwhelm Keoki “I shouldn’t have left them.”

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

“Yeah”

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

“still I”

“we love you Keoki, for me, don’t guilt yourself. You’re not responsible for how your creator treats you all. You did what you had to to get here” Wolfric walked by on the phone, going into the kitchen to continue the meal he had just remembered. He talked to his parents until the meal was ready then rejoined Merle and Keoki in the living room “they should be here soon. Why don’t you come eat Keoki. I was making dinner when you came to the door” Keoki stood “thank you”

~ Back where Keoki came from ~

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

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

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

“she hasn’t gotten up all day”

“because shes hurt”

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

“Please”

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

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

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

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

“No, she doesnt just get to decide you’re going to die. I need you to try, please…I don’t want to be alone” he started to sob and it gave Noma the motivation she needed to sit up “okay…okay Nephi I’ll eat” Nephi hugged her and Noma hugged back as best she could. She ate enough to satisfy him, feeling guilty for taking his food since she wasn’t sure she was going to make it. She felt tired all the time and she knew what that meant, Mauli said that was the first sign when there were signs she was going to lose one.

When they were done Nephi stood, holding out his hand to her “Nephi I”

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

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

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

At Wolfric and Merle’s:

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

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

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

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

“Yeah.”

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

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

Chapter Two

“what do you guys want to do? We need to handle this quickly if the woman who created Keoki has other children there and is mistreating them” Lombard said seriously, becoming instantly protective. “he says he can find his way back if we’re all ready to go. I don’t think we should get the law involved just yet. Keoki says she has strong magic to not only cover up what shes doing but to make beings think Keoki is making all this up” Fatima looked at Keoki “he is definitely yours and Merles, there is absolutely no denying that”

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

“she’s that bad off”

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

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

“I don’t think she fears anything more than someone else finding out about her work and getting it right faster than she can. If she told someone they might beat her to all the money this could bring the being who perfects it”

“Just have faith in your sister Keoki. Have faith in her and this family because we will get her the help she needs, we wont lose her” Merle said with such surprising confidence. Keoki didn’t know how he could think he could promise that. Fatima had a familiar question “so can you become a wolf?”

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

“how does she know an Amarok could have a mixed child with a vampire and zombie and be able to shift. I mean, sometimes mixed breeding doesn’t work out as well as others.”

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

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

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

~ Back with Nephi and Noma~

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

“is she okay”

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

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

“you’re going to shift”

“But even Keoki can’t”

“no he cant but I can push you farther than I can push Keoki since you aren’t going to last anyway. You’ll be part of history Noma. You’ll be another break through I need. Once I figure out how my future creations wont have to go through so much misery so not only will you be a part of something magnificent you’ll save others pain. It can be the one thing you do for this world, it’ll make you not so much of a waste”

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

“You could ahve let me say bye”

“No because who knows what Nephi may have gotten up to. Besides, even if you die he’ll be much easier to control if he thinks you’re alive somewhere and his behavior effects you” she had never hated Mauli until today. She finally realized how much of a manipulative liar she really was. It scared Noma how little face Mauli was trying to keep right now. It made her feel like she definitely wasn’t going to get to go back to Nephi. It made her glad Nephi had forced her to play yesterday because it may have been the last time.

Wolfric and Merle:

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

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

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

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

“We will, I promise.”

Nephi and Noma:

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

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

Nephi paced back and forth in their room. He knew something bad was happening, he could feel it. He went over to the door and pressed his ear against it. He couldn’t hear anything even with his superior senses, but he just knew Mauli was torturing Noma. He needed to get out and save her. He knew how Keoki had done it, but he wasn’t sure if it would work again.

Wolfric and Merle:

Keoki jerking awake startled both of them into wakefulness and him jumping out of bed and suddenly running for the room door had Merle jumping up and grabbing his son’s arm. “Where are you going?”

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

“What do you mean?” Wolfric asked.

“With one of the kids.”

“How do you know?”

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

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

“sorry” They were all back in the car in a manner of moments, only stopping now when they had to start going off road. Lombard and Fatima didn’t care about ditching their car, like Merle and Wolfric they just cared about finding those kids.

Nephi and Noma:

A strong current from her collar finally woke Noma who sat up with a whine “I’m sorry”

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

“I’m clearing out your system” she whined but didn’t say anything. That meant more drugs, more misery. She hoped maybe the clearing of her system would help her feel better. Noma still took her time eating but she had to finish eventually. Once Noma was done Mauli pulled out syringe and injected her before dragging her back into a room and shutting the door. Noma didn’t question being alone, she was grateful for it. Soon however Mauli came back with growling wolves “Mauli?”

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

“Mauli” Mauli walked out and the wolves began walking toward her. She looked one of them in the eyes, hoping if there was a wolf in there it would help her “Please, you don’t want to be on her side. Please don’t hurt me” She felt a connection but they still looked like they were considering hurting her “Please” her body began to tremble and she felt something rushing through her. She started pleading with herself to shift. Mauli watched on eagerly, desperate to get further with her work.

Noma tried to focus, focus on herself as a wolf like them. Just when she was expecting to be bitten one of the wolves licked her. The other nuzzled her “Thank you” Mauli rushed in, completely outraged “you’re holding out on me!”

“I’m not”

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

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

“I’m not doing anything” suddenly Noma felt the strongest surge she had felt in her life from the collar. She fell to the floor, screaming at the top of her lungs from the pain. Noma didn’t know what was happening, she couldn’t see or think. The only thing she could sense at all was pain until she felt adrenaline start to pump hard through her. Somehow in this moment she felt more alive than she ever had. She wanted to thank Nephi for never giving up on her, she wanted to see Keoki again one day, she wanted to be free of this place and this horrible woman, she wanted to shift. Next thing she knew she was a wolf and she howled in triumph.

She heard another howl and realized there was only one wolf left. Mauli had killed the one that had licked her face. Noma growled but Mauli just looked at her with wonder “you finally did it” Maulis face became smug as she instructed “don’t even think of attacking me little girl. You’re still wearing that collar and you’re not as big as you think you are.” Noma took another angry step and Mauli pulled out a gun, shooting the other wolf in the shoulder. Noma wasn’t sure if she missed or was just aiming to hurt it. “Noma, sit” the other wolf tried to bite Mauli and with a wave of her hand the wolf was sent flying into a nearby wall, knocked unconscious and bleeding badly.

Wolfric and Merle:

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

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

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, we’ll be right behind you.”

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

“Come on, Keoki.” Wolfric said and they followed Merle who was moving quickly over the rough terrain.

Nephi and Noma:

Nephi gripped the edge of the ventilation cover, his fingers hurting as he pulled at it. He knew he could get out, even after Mauli had reinforced it. He had to get out. He had been told his father’s were amazing, especially Alvah, he had been told that man was a terrifying force of nature. He gritted his teeth, letting out a growl of frustration. “Open.” He yelled. “Open you stupid thing.” He focused every ounce of strength he had on it and was so surprised when it actually bent that he let go and fell to the floor.

Chapter Three

He crawled through and pleaded “Please still be alive Noma” Nephi used his senses like he’d been taught to track Noma and Mauli, calling for Maulis attention when he was finally right behind them. Mauli turned with Noma in her arms. She was in human form again and the hell she had been through with their creator was evident all over her body. “what did you do” he was too angry to cry though his heart ached “I did what had to be done, she did it, she shifted but once she became a girl again she was gone”

“she’s not dead”

“she may as well be but I’m happy to see your senses are that good. I didn’t realize, I thought I could bluff. I’m so proud of you Nephi. I know how to make my creations shift now. It just has to be their only choice. Because of Noma I wont have to be so cruel again”

“You’re a monster Mauli”

“what happened to momma?”

“I hate you”

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

“why can’t you just try harder.”

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

“Because she’s our sister”

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

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

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

It was the first time Nephi felt his rage start to bubble over. After everything that had happened, it was unexpected, but it pushed his fear down. All that matter was Noma, it didn’t matter what Mauli did to him, as long as she never touched Nephi again. He was surprised to find his legs carrying him forward, surprised to feel any sort of power moving through him after being so powerless. He wondered if this is what had helped Keoki escape. He knew he wasn’t a strong fighter, but he would try and keep faith that Keoki was coming back.

Wolfric & Merle:

The scent Merle had picked up from his son became stronger and he let out a loud howl when the building came into view. He raced toward the front door, picking up speed when he saw it was made of metal. He twisted, letting out a loud grunt when slammed into it, nearly caving it in. He pulled back letting out a loud growl as he slammed into it again. Wolfric, Keoki, Lombard, and Fatima caught up with him and he shifted. Wolfric handed him his pants and he quickly pulled them on.

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

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

Nephi & Noma:

Nephis fingernails had inexplicably extended into long, sharp points. He hadn’t known he could do that so either the rage summoned an ability or it was just something that happened when he got mad. This was the first time he had felt like this so he didn’t know. He knew Mauli was way out of his league and could easily get the upper hand so he did the only thing he thought would matter. He tightly held his fingers together and jumped, shoving them as hard as he could into her eyeballs. She dropped Noma as she screeched and Nephi wished he had been quick enough to catch her. She was so barely alive, so obviously frail and clinging to life that the last thing she needed was to slam into the ground like she did.

Nephi picked her up and ran, unsure of what else to do beyond keeping Noma out of Maulis grasp. He was sure the jostling wasn’t helping Noma either but this was the only way he could protect her. Maulies eyes would regenerate and she’d be coming soon. Nephi thought about hiding as he ran “You idiot, she’ll smell us” he grew slightly hopeful as a room came into view he knew locked from the inside. She didn’t carry keys on her so it might not buy them much of it but it would buy them time. Nephi ran in, shut then locked the door before carefully laying Noma down.

“Noma” he said emotionally. If she could hear him she made no indication. Nephi decided to hide anyway, willing to do anything that might buy them even one more second. Mauli eyes were already mending as she walked angrily down the hall. Just as her eyes were fully working again she heard the alarm sound, the main door has been forced open. She groaned and with a wave of her hand she looked like a clean, well dressed human woman, would smell like one too. She had carefully crafted this face to be as innocent as possible. She abandoned searching for her rouge vampire and worthless pup for now, she needed to deal with whomever Keoki had brought back to her home.

She checked her pockets, happy to find the vials she had slipped into them the second she knew Keoki was missing. All she had to do was open them and her magic would waft through the air. Keoki would look like a liar yet again and she would be sure this time he wasn’t going anywhere. It actually threw her off when she saw the beings he had brought back, how the hell had he figured out where they lived. She just hoped she was stronger than them as she reached into her pocket “don’t you dare” Merle seethed “don’t I what?” she opened them and Merle chuckled, already knowing what it was “you really think thats going to work, we’re not going to be open to your suggestions on whats going on here. This is without a doubt my son and I’m here for the other two”

“sir I don’t know what he’s told you but he hasn’t been on his” Merle didn’t let her finish and tried to lunge at her but she was quick to counter, shifting right back into her true form “damn it I” she started again but he didn’t care nor did he want to waste time. His daughter could be dieing. Every second it took to get to Noma was one less seconds the doctors he trusted could be helping her.

Wolfric & Merle:

Merle jumped at Mauli again, his sharp nails barely missing her and he let out a savage growl when she managed to evade him again. “Keoki, take your father and find the children, your grandparents and I will deal with this one.”

“But, she…”

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

“Okay.” Keoki and Wolfric started the way Mauli had come from and when she tried to stop them, Merle shifted and snapped at her, driving her away from them.

She glared at him. “I’m going to kill all of you and the harvest every last bit of you. You have such perfect DNA Merle, all of you do, if only you understood.”

Keoki could smell blood and his heart hammered in his chest as he followed the scent to one of the rooms Mauli used for experiments. His fear only increased when he saw the two dead wolves and neither Noma or Nephi. They had both been in here, but not anymore. “Come on, they may be hiding Keoki.” Wolfric said as he pulled his son out of the room.

“She…she could have…”

“We have to believe they’re okay.”

They rushed on, eager when blood droplets lead them to another room, one she barely used but was still all too familiar to Keoki. He tried the door “they have to be in there. It’s locked” Keoki knocked gently on the door, his voice wouldn’t carry through but he knew Nephi would realize such a soft knock wouldn’t come from Mauli. Everything she did was demanding even when she was trying to put on a show. The sound initially made Nephi gasp and hold Noma tighter but then he realized it must be Keoki. Just incase he was wrong he left Noma where she was and cautiously approached the door, opening it slowly, relief flooding him when he was Keoki.

Keoki hugged him, relieved he was safe “where’s Noma?” Keoki asked with pain in his voice. Nephi moved to allow them in then pointed to where he had left her. Keoki went over, knowing he should rather than Wolfric. Keoki carefully picked her up and once Wolfric could really see her his heart trembled with emotion “what happened?” He asked in disbelief as he took in his little girl. Nephi wiped at his face “I don’t know but whatever Mauli put her through she shifted. I mean I didn’t see her shift but Mauli says she did. She’s ready to burn her, Noma gave her what she wanted so she’s ready to throw her away…She tried to tell me she was already dead but she isn’t…I can hear it…only a little but her hearts beating”

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

Chapter Four

Wolfric had Mauli cornered. Lombard was guarding the exit and Fatima had her gun drawn and was ready to shoot in case she even thought of heading back down the hall. Merle stalked slowly towards her, teeth bared. “Give up.” Fatima said. “You can’t force us to forget, especially Merle, the wolf won’t let him, so just give up or we will kill you.”

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

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

“Test subjects.”

Merle growled as he jumped on her and he clamped down on her arm as she brought it up to defend herself, angrily shaking his head and ripping her skin open so blood splattered all over the place. She pulled her hand away and his mouth was at her throat, his teeth pressing threateningly. It was a warning for her not to move or he would kill her. He could hear and smell Wolfric coming back and Fatima looked over her shoulder as her son came out cradling a small, beaten little girl.

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

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

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

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

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

It felt like an eternity to get back to their vehicle. Wolfric and the boys were terrified she’d quit clinging to life before they got her somewhere. When they finally arrived at the car Wolfric had Keoki get in the passenger seat then handed him Noma. Nephi had settled in the back and they were on the road again as quickly as possible. “for future reference son do you know how to drive?”

“she taught me but you know the outside world better than I do so I’m glad you’re driving” It comforted Keoki how distressed Wolfric looked over Nomas state. It gave him more confidence his parents really did care about them and would let them live a real life. He hugged Noma to him as he hoped she would be a part of that life. “you’re so close Noma. Hang on” he whispered to her. Wolfric would have loved to take Noma back home but they were too many hours away, it was too risky so they drove to the nearest hospital. Once she was stable they could get picky about who was taking care of her.

They parked and rushed inside, Keoki holding tight to Noma while Wolfric hastily filled the woman at the desk in about the situation. There was a lot of beings there waiting to be seen but Noma was taken back quickly, Wolfric, Nephi and Keoki following since Wolfric had already told her they’d be coming. He knew Keoki and Nephi wouldn’t have been able to handle letting strangers take her out of sight. He thought a lot of the fact they were able to trust anybody at all just based on what little he knew about them and their life.

The medical staff wanted to see if Keoki and Noma were truly Wolfrics since the story sounded so crazy. Even in todays world it was a bit mind blowing to think that you might not need two genders to create a baby. They drew blood from Wolfric and the kids, telling him they’d give him an answer for sure as soon as they could. “I know you two are ours Keoki” He looked over at Nephi “Merle and I are going to find your parents but you’re welcome with us and even if you do end up being with them we’ll make sure you see Noma and Keoki”

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

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

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

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

Merle moved back and let Lombard haul Mauli to her feet when Rick finally arrived. He had a shotgun slung over his shoulder and gave Fatima a smile. “Well dang, I missed a party.”

“Did you bring the big truck?”

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

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

“Must be to her research.” Lombard said.

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

When Merle, Lombard and Fatima were done handling Mauli they went straight to the hospital Wolfric had told them he was at with her. They found Keoki alone with her and Noma still barely holding on to life. She had been cleaned up and bandaged so she looked better but her heartbeat was still so faint. While Merle asked Keoki where Wolfric was Fatima couldn’t resist walking over to their new grandchild and gently caressing her face “Wolfric is getting Nephi something to eat. Apparently when he woke Mauli already had taken Noma away and whatever she was doing with her caused her to not think about feeding Nephi today”

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

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

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

“Thats what Wolfric said but he humored them”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“When you’re ready.” Wolfric answered.

“We’re going to have someone go through all of Mauli’s research and see if they can find their exact location.” Fatima added.

Noma was completely healed of her wounds two days later and the doctors there decided she could now be flown to any hospital Wolfric and Merle wanted so they had her moved close to their home. It was there Merle got into contact with the professionals he wanted working with Noma. He was willing to pay for anything to have her cared for and looked at by the best so whatever they wanted of him, weather it be an expensive hotel to stay at our ridiculous amounts of money he paid it and got her set up. They waited another seventeen days for one of her doctors to enter with a means of waking her up. “Merle, Wolfric, I can’t promise this will do what I’m hoping it will but I’m very very sure. As sure as someone can be working in uncharted waters. I just need your permission to try” he had the needle ready and as much as it scared them they allowed him to inject her. They watched eagerly and their hearts sank again when she still laid there.

It was a few hours later when she opened her eyes, first seeing Lombard who had come to visit again. She gasped and moved her head to look for Nephi or Keoki. They were there, Wolfric had gotten them from home just incase the doctors idea had worked. Nephi hurried over to her, climbing up on her bed “it’s okay Noma. Keoki found your family.” he pointed at Lombard “that’s your grandpa” he then showed her Fatima and then her parents. She seemed more taken in by Wolfric at first who just smiled gently at her. “he does look a lot like Keoki huh?” Nephi said and Noma nodded “so you know he found the right guys. This family loves you, us. We’re going to be safe now. You don’t have to be scared”

She lifted her hand “whats this?”

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

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

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

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

“does this mean she can be home with us now?” Wolfric asked and the doctor said “I’d feel more comfortable with her being here atleast through tomorrow. Then she can go home but we’ll still need to see her. I more treated a symptom, not the cause. We’re still reading through all of Maulis research and coming to understand Keoki, Nephi and Nomas bodies. I need time to figure out why some shut down while others, like Nephi and Keoki thrive.”

“We understand, thank you.”

“Of course.”

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

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

“Oh baby, of course we do.” Wolfric couldn’t help but move to sit by her and Merle stood at his side, his hands resting gently on his shoulders. Wolfric took her hand and she squeezed it.

“You’re all going to have a real life now.” Merle said.

Noma spent the rest of that day and the next in the hospital and everyone was happy that her color and energy had improved. They made sure to make another appointment for her and promised to make note of any changes in her. Wolfric and Merle got the kids moved in and Fatima and Lombard volunteered to locate Nephi’s parents for him so Wolfric and Merle wouldn’t have to leave them.

Their first night at home Wolfric woke in the night to find Merle gone. Wolfric got up and quietly walking to Nomas room, guessing he was there. Sure enough he was standing outside the door of her room. Wolfric smiled at him and Merle moved to hug Wolfric “I’m just a little worried about her”

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

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

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

~ The End

Aurelia & Rees

Chapter One

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

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

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

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

Rees hugged her “I’m sorry”

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

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

“Where am I?” She asked softly.

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

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

“My daughter did.”

“Thank goodness, I was so scared.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pretoria”

“Thats so beautiful”

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

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

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

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

“Good, I think.”

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter Two

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

“we were just talking, I think shes okay”

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

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

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

“Aurelia”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“it’s alright”

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

“are you sure?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’d really like that, thank you.”

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

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

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

“You too dad.” Brynmor said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What should we do with this one?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m happy to help”

“I’m feeling better this morning”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He wants to get to know you too”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“aw”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh jesus…where was your father”

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

Chapter Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“what if something happens again”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, I’ve never seen it before.”

“Brynmor. ”

“It’s an otrova mushroom.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So what now?” He wiped at his face.

“First, can I have your name?”

“Oh, it’s Oliver, sorry.”

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

“What do I do?”

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m just glad you’re okay”

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

Chapter Four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.”

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

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

“yeah?”

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

“Oh…that must be hard”

“Immensely”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“when do you want me to start?”

“Your first memories if you so wish”

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

“I loved every second of it”

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

“whats your first memory of your mom?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Truly?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“thats sweet”

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

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

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

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

“Are you alright?”

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

“Maybe we should go back to your room.”

“No, it’s fine, really.”

“Alright, but after, you should rest.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If I wouldn’t be bothering you”

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

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

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

“It’s alright.”

“I shouldn’t stare, it’s rude.”

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

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

Chapter Five

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

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

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

“Please call me if you need anything alright”

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

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

“Humble is busy”

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

“your work”

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

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

“but…how…what”

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

“but…thats me!”

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

“they…do they actually know”

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

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

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

“when she touched me…”

“she just helped you hear”

“it really lead me back here”

“You and Rees are meant for one another.”

“why didn’t they show me this”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m Amelia, I’m your wife.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I was trying to help you remember”

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

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

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

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

“Okay”

“I love you Aurelia”

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

“You’d want to?”

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

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

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

“It’s good to be home honey”

~ The End ~

Diya & Romanus 2

Chapter One

He was tired, especially after tonight, after he had found something far worse than he had imagined. The lamp in the living room switching on startled him and he was surprised to see Diya yawning and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “Diya?”

“You’re home.” She gave him a sleepy smile. She stood, stretching. “Are you hungry?”

“Why are you sleeping on the couch?” He asked. Had something happened?

“Hmm? Oh, just waiting up for you. I was worried.”

“Oh.”

She stopped in front of him, studying his face. “It was a hard one, wasn’t it? Harder than usual I mean.” He nodded. How could she tell? “Could I give you a hug?”

“I…I think I should shower first.”

“Alright, I’ll get you something to eat.”

“I don’t think I can eat. I will later, just not right now. Maybe we could watch something, if you’re not too tired.”

“Of course.”

Diya hated seeing such a distressed look on his face, like he was reliving everything he had ever been subjected to and she wished she knew what to say. She went into the living room and switched the TV on then clicked on Netflix. She went through the comedy section, wanting to find something to help calm him down.

Romanus wanted to hurry to Diya, to her warmth but he couldn’t do anything at first but stand under the hot spray of water. Sometimes when cases ended up this horrible he was tempted to quit, especially now that he had such a wonderful life with Diya and her now seven year old daughter. He wanted to drown himself in their warmth and forget his childhood ever happened to him. He wanted to forget such horrendous things were still going on in the worlds but he couldn’t. He remembered all too well what it felt like to be one of those helpless children, scared and willing to do anything to make them stop. He had to save them, he had to save as many children as he possibly could.

One of the best things to him about Diya was that she understood his need to do this and she was always here, ready to comfort him when he needed it. Finally his desire to be out there with her got him moving. He washed himself thoroughly, dried and put on something comfortable. Diya had settled on a movie and had made them both hot tea, knowing it helped. He sat down, taking a long swig of it before thanking her. “It’s no trouble Romanus. What else can I do for you? Want to lay your head in my lap while we watch the movie and I can rub your back?”

“Honestly…I think I feel like having you in my lap and just clinging to you”

“Okay” she crawled into his lap and he wrapped his arms tightly around her, kissing her shoulder “thank you” She had told him countless times he didn’t need to thank her so much so she just relaxed into him and pressed play on their movie.

Between the movie and Diya, he was able let go of some of the tension in his body. He never realized just how much he was holding until he was with her. “Feeling any better?” She asked as she ran her fingers through his hair.

“Yeah, thanks to you.”

She let out a soft laugh, her breath tickling over his skin. “I’m not doing anything.”

“You’re doing everything. Just being near you makes me feel better. I don’t know what I’d do without you and Melody.” He moved his head so he could press his forehead into her neck. “You’ve been such a gift, both of you have.”

“We wouldn’t trade you for the world, Romanus.” She kiss the top of his head. “I know you don’t like to, but why don’t you take a short break. It’s the weekend so Melody doesn’t have to go to school. We could all go somewhere.”

He took in her scent then breathed out “I think I really need one. Besides, you two are always so patient with how busy I am. You deserve my full attention for at least the weekend”

“You do plenty with us”

“where would you like to take her?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t think that far ahead”

“we could ask her I suppose. I’m happy anywhere as long as I’m with you two”

“are you ready to head to bed then? She gets up early, even on weekends”

“Yeah” he stood, still holding Diya. He carried her to their room and didn’t even take the time to get undressed before settling into bed with her. She didn’t mind, she preferred pajamas but she knew he had dealt with something absolutely stomach churning tonight and she was willing to do whatever he needed to heal from it. They both fell asleep fast and woke to an excited little girl “Mom! Dad! I’m hungry! Can I help you make pancakes mom?” Sleepily her mother answered “sure baby”

Romanus couldn’t help but actually feel whole and normal in these moments with Diya and Melody. He felt love and affection warm him as he followed them and still found it hard to believe how lucky he was. “I’ll make coffee.” He said as they started pulling things out of the pantry and fridge. “Orange juice for the princess?” He asked and Melody giggled.

“Yes please.”

“So what do you think baby? Chocolate chips or blueberries?”

“Can we do both?”

“Sounds perfect.”

Once Romanus had the coffee started and had a glass of juice on the table for Melody, he stepped up behind Diya and wrapped his arms around her. “I love you.” He said and pressed a kiss to her temple.

“I love you too.” She turned just enough to kiss his cheek then went back to helping make batter. “So, Melody, daddy and I want to take you out somewhere this weekend, do you have anywhere you’d like to go or something you’d really like to do?”

“I don’t know”

“Think about it over breakfast.” Romanus said and Melody nodded. Their seven year old happily made breakfast with her mother as she thought about something for them all to do. Meanwhile Romanus just enjoyed watching them, the only beings who had ever brought true happiness into his life. The two made far too many pancakes but Melody liked to have them as snacks anyway. They’d just put the leftover ones in a ziplock in the fridge. They were just eating and talking when Melody said “could we go to a beach?”

“I know the perfect one” Melody squeaked with excitement “when can we go?”

“Lets eat and then we can make a bag of things we will need” Melody began to eat just a little quicker causing her mother to laugh before she said “well we might have to stop by a store. I don’t know if she has a swim suit that fits her”

“That can just be a part of the fun. We can let her pick one” Romanus responded then Diya spoke again, an idea dawning on her “we can have a picnic there too for lunch. You can help me decide what at the store Melody”

Romanus helped Diya clean up and then gather things for the beach. Diya picked out an outfit for Melody and sent her to her room to get changed. They then went to get ready. He didn’t know why he still found himself getting nervous when they changed together. He knew she wouldn’t hurt him or force him into anything, but his heart still stuttered in his chest and he found himself looking away when she pulled her shirt off. “Romanus?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you need me to change in the bathroom?”

“No, sorry, I want to look, but I feel…guilty I guess.” And scared.

“Romanus, I’m gonna come closer, okay?”

“Okay.”

She moved over, one arm across her chest and gently lifted his head. “You don’t have to rush yourself, I’m not going anywhere, so please don’t worry.”

“Okay, I love you and you’re very beautiful Diya, truly.” She gave him a quick kiss then turned away from him and grabbed clean clothes out of her chest of drawers. He changed quickly and they left the room together, both of them smiling when they saw Melody waiting excitedly on the couch.

“can we go now?”

“Yes baby, we’re all ready”

When they arrived at the store Melody easily picked out a swim suit so picking out stuff for lunch was the only thing that took a lot of time. They ended up settling on different fruits they could keep in the small cooler they bought. “seems like we’re ready” Melody made that excited little noise again, bouncing even as they checked out. Melody put the swim suit on under her clothes in the store bathroom since there may not be a place to change at the beach Romanus was taking them to. They didn’t ask if it was in their world or another, both loving surprises.

There was one place Romanus had found after he had escaped from his father and the depraved people who had used him. It had been one of the most peaceful moments of his life until he met Diya and Melody. It was actually connected to the vortex near the actual beach and was the reason why reality sometimes seemed distorted there to the regular human. Melody gave a little squeal of delight when she saw the water, but looked at them in confusion when Romanus kept driving. “We’re not going here?” She asked.

“We’re going somewhere better.” Romanus said. “Somewhere kind of special to me.”

Diya reached over and grabbed his hand when she saw the look on his face. She could always tell when he was thinking of his childhood. Even if there had been any sort of good memory after what had happened, it always came back to his childhood. “What’s it like?” She asked.

“It’s peaceful and beautiful.” He turned onto a side road and pulled over after a few more minutes. They all got out, grabbing things and he lead them over to the center of the vortex.

He picked them both up, not wanting to risk anything happening to them as they went through. He carried them out onto the sand then carefully put them down. The two of them were amazed at the beach they were seeing. It was a thousand times prettier here than back in their world. Diya kissed him on the cheek “thank you” he gave her a small smile “I’m happy to have a family to bring here…as a child…I didn’t think I’d ever have happiness” Melody tugged on him “can I run into the water? Is it safe?”

“yes, just dont go as depe as your waste until your mother and I set up the blanket and picnic stuff”

“Yes sir” she said excitedly then ran to the water. Diya started setting things up where they stood, glancing over at her daughter every now and then to make sure she was listening to Romanus. Once their picnic was set Diya said “lets go play with her” He pulled Diya into his arms “just give me a few moments to hold you first” She glanced over at her daughter again then relaxed into the hug, wondering what he must be thinking about.

“Diya?” Romanus finally said.

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry I’m still so uncomfortable and nervous doing certain things. I don’t deserve your patience.”

“Hush, you have every right to be and you know you didn’t hurt my feelings right?”

“I know, it’s just…I mean what if you want another child or something.”

Diya pulled back enough to see his face. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but right now you need to just take your time. It just makes me happy hearing you say you might even want to try.” She gave him a kiss. “You’re making really good progress, you really are, so don’t rush. I’m perfectly happy.”

“I just want to give you everything, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to.”

“You’ve given me more than you know, you saved Melody and you’ve been so amazing to us. I love you, so don’t worry.”

“Okay.”

Diya looked back at Melody. “She looks so happy and that’s all thanks to you, baby.”

 

Chapter Two

She could see how much emotion that stirred up in him “lets go play with her” She gave Romanus another kiss and the two got up to play with Melody “Yes!” she said excitedly, instantly starting to go deeper. Diya laughed, seeing how eager her daughter had been. She went under and Diya instantly noticed how worried Romanus looked. When she popped back up Melody splashed him, he looked surprised a moment then she encouraged with a giggle “come on dad” He splashed back, taking awhile to really give her a good one. It was always sweet and sad to see him interact with her.

It showed all the time he hadn’t had any sort of a normal childhood. While playing at one point Romanus pulled Diya under, holding her against him then coming uip quickly “throw her throw her!” Melody said excitedly. Romanus looked at Diya who giggled “it’s okay” He threw her and Melody laughed. Diya came up laughing as well and Romanus smiled. He wished he could play with them more normally but he was still learning how to play.

They splashed and played until Melody asked for a snack. Romanus made sure she was out safely before following Diya over to their stuff. They sat down together and enjoyed the warm weather as they ate. “We should explore a little.” Diya said. “If that’s okay with you.” She added.

“Alright, but please stay close to me. It’s not really dangerous here, but just in case.” Romanus knew he probably sounded paranoid. “I mean feel free to explore, just don’t got to far.”

“Romanus,” Diya took his hand, “it’s okay.”

“Sorry, I know at some point I’m going to have to learn to let loose, especially as our little Melody gets older.” He didn’t want his little girl to hate him.

She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “You’re an amazing father, she won’t hold it against you.”

“You two never hold anything against me…”

“I cant think of anything we should. We’re happy with you. I mean it” The couple cleaned up their picnic then walked hand in hand as they followed little Melody. He would guide since he knew the area but he wanted them to see everything they wanted to see. Melody gasped as she drew near the water again, going in just to her ankles and collecting the shells that had grabbed her attention “these are so pretty. Can I take them home? Please” Romanus answered “yes, there are many gorgeous shells in that water”

Melody ran over to her mother “will you carry them please?”

“sure baby”

Romanus found himself able to relax near completely as they walked and watched Melody. It wasn’t until he saw his little girl freeze that the tension came back. “Melody, what’s wrong?” He asked as he moved up to stand behind her.

She pointed. “There’s a dog over there.” She said and he followed her gaze.

It wasn’t a dog, but a wolf, and he was surprised she had been able to see it with how well its fur allowed it to blend into the tall grass. He could tell it was young and skinnier than normal. He moved in front of her and it seemed to startle the young wolf who hadn’t noticed him. “Diya, take Melody please.”

Diya gently pulled her daughter closer, watching the wolf. “What does it want?”

“He and I think he’s starving.” Had the wolf been watching Melody because she was the weaker target?

“What should we do?” Diya asked. “Should we feed him?”

Romanus wasn’t so sure, but he couldn’t tell Diya no, not when he knew the creature before them was still a child, twelve at most. “I’ll do it, you two stay back.” They had plenty of snacks so he went through the bag, pulling a couple of granola bars out and and taking their wrappers off. The wolf’s eyes watched the food.

It started to shift and Melody held a little tighter to her mother. They were aware of other beings but Melody had never seen an actual wolf shifter before. The young boy then cautiously came over and took the food. Melody was embarrassed looking at the naked boy so buried her face into her mother. “why are you so thin and why are you alone?” Romanus asked and the boy looked up into Romanus’s eyes, swallowing down his food before saying softly “I’ve been alone as long as I can remember…I just…I just felt like coming to the beach today and then” he looked over at Melody again. He fell silent so Romanus gently grabbed his face, turning it back to him “Please stop staring at my daughter”

“she’s yours?”

“Her mother is my mate now so yes she is mine” The boy looked uncomfortable and Diya said “Romanus, we can’t just leave this boy alone.”

“what do you suggest we do with him?”

“well…our house is plenty big”

Romanus didn’t know how he felt about allowing a stranger into their home, but if he turned the boy away, then it would be a betrayal of everything he had worked for. Not only that, but he knew Diya would be disappointed. He turned his gaze back to the boy who had once again been looking at Melody. “Sorry.” The boy said.

“What’s your name?”

“Tormod.”

“Tormod, do you remember how you came to be alone?”

He shook his head. “I don’t, just that I was running and then it was just me.”

Romanus nodded. “My mate believes that you should come home with us, would you like that?”

Tormod glanced at Melody. “Yes.”

Romanus leaned closer to the boy, hearing his heart skip in his chest. “I am only going to ask you this once child, was it my daughter who brought you here?”

“I…I could smell her and I…I don’t want to hurt her or anything, I just found her scent and followed it from the beach. The wolf…the wolf wanted me to.”

Romanus nodded as he straightened up and released Tormod. “You do know that my mate and daughter are important to me and if anything were to happen to them…”

“I wont hurt them…I promise” the boy seemed harmless and had a healthy fear of him so Romanus decided they could take him home. Besides, he knew about wolves.It sounded as if his daughter might very well be this boys mate. If that ended up being so he knew weather she returned the feelings or not he’d be a protector for her and he still worried about Melody, about another pervert setting his sights on her. Once he got this boy healthy it would be nice to know a wolf was protecting his family and would do so even if it meant his life since he knew how serious wolves were once they found their mate.

“lets go ahead and get home home. I’ll bring you guys back here once he’s healthy” Tormond looked at Melody again “I’ll shift. I’m making her uncomfortable like this”

“alright, first thing we’ll do is get you some clothes for this form” Tormond nodded and shifted back into a wolf, following the family once they began heading back the way they came. Unsurprisingly he ended up by Melodys side but she seemed happy now. Once home Roamus mulled over how he wanted to do this trip. He couldn’t take this boy to the store naked and he couldn’t take a wolf into a store. He also wasn’t so sure he wanted to leave him alone with his family right away despite the fact Romanus was guessing Melody would come to mean to the world to this wolf.

“are you trying to think about what to do when it comes to shopping?”

“Yes”

“I can measure him and look up online what sizes he’ll need. Then you can just go. We’ll be fine alone with him. He’s a kid, a starved child who was just given a home. I don’t feel like he’s going to hurt anybody”

“could you just order him clothes online?”

“same day shipping is expensive but yeah. I really want him to be able to shifts back into a boy when he wants” He was curled up beside Melody who was petting him. Diya whispered “so scary, he totally cant be trusted if you go to the store”

 

Final Chapter

Romanus looked at Tormod and then back at Diya. She was teasing him. He let out a little sigh and she hugged him. “Diya.”

“At least get him a pair of sweats and a shirt. He needs something and it won’t take you long.”

“Alright, alright, I’ll go.” He leaned back and kissed her. “Just, if anything happens, call me.”

“I will, now go, we’ll be fine.”

“Alright.”

Diya got Melody to cover her eyes so Tormod could shift back long enough to be measured. The boy apologized and Diya did he rbest to reassure him it was alright. He shifted back quickly and went back to Melody, which caused Diya to let out a little laugh. She looked up his sizes and then gave them to Romanus so he could get something for him. Romanus left, knowing he shouldn’t be worried, but unable to keep his mind from wandering. Logically, he knew young Tormod was practically harmless. The boy was starved, but after everything he couldn’t help himself. Once he was at the store, he quickly found the right clothing and grabbed them.

He felt relieved when he finally got home and Diya gave him a hug once he was inside. “Sorry.” He said softly.

“Hush, you know it’s okay.” She took the bag from him and went to Tormod. “Here sweetie, why don’t you go put these on.”

He picked up the bag with his mouth and walked off to a room. He wasn’t going to shift infront of Melody any more unless he had to. When he came back he was a boy and seemed to fit perfectly in what Romanus had bought him “thank you”

“whatever you need will be taken care of for now on. You’re a part of this family now. Tormond walked back over to Melody who asked “do you like to color?” he seemed confused a few moments then said “create art?” Diya smiled “sort of, lets go get her coloring books” Diya quickly pulled the box she kept it all in and handed it to Tormod “I have to finish cooking dinner but she’ll show you what she means” He walked back to Melody and set the box down. She grabbed a coloring book then said “you pick one” he just grabbed the top one and she pulled out the crayons. Romanus watched them a few minuets before joining his wife in the kitchen.

“is he taking to coloring?” she asked in an amused tone and he said “he’ll probably take to anything she wants to do with him”

“why’s that?”

“he said his wolf wanted him to come to her. Most likely she’s his mate. You know about wolves right?”

“I don’t know what you mean”

“They are one of the very few beings that know when they’ve found their soulmate. The wolf inside them guides them to whomever they are meant for. I mean I might think the wolf just knew I’d take him in because they have instincts for more than just that but the way he keeps looking at her, I just feel like it’s a mate thing”

“He knows she’s seven right?” a small bit of her momma bear was peeking out. “I wouldn’t have brought him home for a second if I thought he might hurt her. He’ll protect her with his life, honestly if he does anything that hurts her it’ll crush him. Their mates are everything to them. He’ll protect her, always. I’m going to stay home awhile to be absolutely sure about him but if I’m right I’ll feel a lot better with him here to protect you two”

“is it going to be a problem though when she’s older? I mean, will he become aggressive about it?”

“No, like I said, the only thing at risk with those two if she’s his mate is her breaking his heart. He wouldn’t hurt her or anybody she loves”

“I’m really happy you’re taking a break with us” he could tell any concerns were eased. He could understand how that chat at first could be alarming since he was in his early teens and their daughter hadn’t even made it to double digits yet.

He set the table for her while she cooked, then looked in on Melody and Tormod. They were still coloring, Tormod going much slower than Melody and focusing much harder. He went back to Diya and wrapped his arms around her and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “What should we do for the rest of the weekend?”

“Get Tormod completely settled in, help him get used to living a normal life.”

“Normal, I wish I could truly give you all that.”

“You do just fine.”

“I’m sure Tormod can smell death on me, he’ll want to know why at some point.”

“Tell him when you’re ready, I’m sure he’ll understand.” She let out a little laugh as she switched off the stove. “Looks like we don’t have to worry about having a baby.”

“Diya.” She turned in his arms, smiling up at him. “I do want to give you children, I…I love you.”

“It’s okay, really and I love you too.”

He tucked some hair behind her ear “I…we should try…to at least have sex”

“but are you ready for that because I dont care. I’m happy to never have sex if you find you can’t”

“lets try tonight okay”

“Please don’t do this just for me”

“I want to, I want to experience what enjoyable…consensual sex is like”

“alright but we’re taking it slow and you need to tell me right away if you’re getting scared or uncomfortable” He held her tightly to him a few moments, both nervous and eager for the evening. They served the food then called Melody and Tormod in. They both came quickly, Melody holding a picture for each of her parents “thank you honey” Melody sat down in her normal spot, cheerful as ever and Tormod joined her. His eyes widened a bit when he saw all the food on the table and Diya felt bad for him all over again “try to take it slow Tormod” He nodded but seemed to struggle with actually following through with it as he ate.

Tormod let out a little whine after dinner and Diya realized his stomach hurt. “I’m sorry.” He said.

“It’s okay honey, but next time try to eat slow, okay? You’ll never have to go without and no one is going to take your food from you.”

“Okay.”

She patted his back. “Let’s get you to your room.” He looked back at Melody, who was taking her plate to the sink, not wanting to leave her. “Tormod, how about we give you the room next to Melody’s.”

“Really?” She could see him light up at the thought.

“Of course, that way, you know where she is.”

“Alright.”

Romanus sent Melody off to follow them and started cleaning up. As he rinsed dishes and stuck them in the dishwasher, he began to over think things. What if he hurt Diya? What if he got scared? She said it was okay, but was it? He hated he was so scared, it was ridiculous when it was Diya. He heard a cracking sound and looked down to see he had squeezed one of their glasses too hard. He took a deep breath, sighed, then threw it away.

She was still reading to Melody when he was done in the kitchen but he had heard her read this one before and knew it was nearly over so he leaned against the wall and listened. When Diya came out she smiled up at him, easing some of his nerves. She took his hand and guided him into their bedroom. Diya shut then locked the door before saying softly “theres no expectation of you Romanus. We’ll do what you can handle tonight, thats it. You can even still back out if you need to”

“I want to try”

“How do you want to start? You can undress me or I can undress myself” Roamnus nervously answered “I’m too nervous to be able to undress you…could you do it slowly”

“mhm” She took off her shirt first, happy when he didn’t turn away from her as he often did. She then took off her pants, now standing in just her bra and underwear “everything Roamnus or do you maybe want to touch me like this first” Saying Roamnus was traumatized from being a constant sex toy in his childhood was an understatement so Diya felt she needed to be incredibly careful about this, especially since this was their first attempt at doing anything sexual.

It took him awhile but he managed to finally actually touch her bare skin. He tuned his senses into her, feeling a bit of emotion tug at his heart that she obviously like him touching her. He knew she wanted him, logically anyway. All he had known this far was rapists and it made all this hard emotionally. He was mostly touching her arms, back and stomach, seeming careful to avoid her breasts so she tried to help him “Roamnus, you can touch me anywhere” He blushed, seeming a little shaky as he slowly moved his hands to her breasts. She smiled at him, her expression filled with so much love and patience he had to take a moment to hold her against him which she still viewed as progress. He was actually holding her while she was nearly naked. She wondered for a moment if he realized that.

“Are you okay?” She asked softly as she rubbed his back.

“Yeah, sorry, I just…”

“It’s alright.” He pulled back and she gently pulled him down to kiss him, her fingers running through his hair and over his neck to help calm him. “Would you like me to take my bra and underwear off?”

“I…” he took a deep breath to steady himself, “yes.”

She moved back enough to remove them, going slow, watching him as he watched her. He was scared and worried, but he wasn’t turning away. He reached out to her and she stepped into him, letting out a breathy moan when his hands moved over her. “Romanus.” She slid her arms around his neck and he pressed his lips into hers, parting them so he could deepen the kiss.

His hands slid over her warm skin, his fingers moving up her spine, causing her to shiver. He was surprised to feel desire tingling over him, slowly filling him. He wanted to be brave and made himself back her onto the bed. He pulled back and she smiled up at him, so loving and trusting, so patient as she waited for him. “You’re so beautiful.” He whispered, his voice shaking a little.

“and you’re so handsome Romanus. I love you” His heart trembled again and he kissed her. Diya tried not to look as surprised as she was when he began taking off his own clothes, worried surprise might be mistranslated by him right now and he was doing far better than she had expected this evening. They were skin to skin and while they were now not doing anything this progress meant the world to her. Not because she wanted sex, she did but what mattered to her was what this meant for him as far as healing went. On top of that she knew how much trust it took for him to be naked and exposed like this. He didn’t end up being able to do more that evening but he took her under the covers and held her skin to skin all night.

~ 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

Lachlan, Teague, & Kennedy 2

Chapter One

“Are you sure?” Teague asked as he read the letter Lachlan had received. The message was short, simple: I know who you are, please come see me. “I mean it could be a trick and what if they don’t mean what you think they mean?”

“I’ve thought about that, but what if we have a chance to learn how we happened, to get a better grasp of what we are.”

Teague sighed. “You’re sure you want to go?”

“We have too, even if it’s nothing.” Teague whined and it was Lachlan’s turn to sigh. “I don’t want to leave him either.”

“Who knows how long we’ll be, Lachlan. I want to bring him.”

“Me too.”

“You’re afraid it’ll be dangerous, so am I, but we…”

“Need him.” Lachlan finished. “I know.” Teague nodded. “We’ll discuss it with him in the morning, I don’t want to wake him.”

“Agreed.”

Lachlan put the letter away and he and Teague headed back up to the room they shared with Kennedy. He was still sound asleep when they entered and they both couldn’t help but pause and admire him. Even in sleep he was beautiful and they felt the stirrings of desire for him. He moved in his sleep, grabbing and burying his face in one of the pillows. “No…tired…bad…you’re bad.” He mumbled and they both chuckled as they both climbed in and wrapped an arm protectively around him.

Kennedy woke with a gentle smile when he noticed he was in Lachlan and Teague’s arms. It was his favorite way to wake up. He would have just enjoyed the closeness, but as always, him waking woke the two of them. They set to talking to him right away, Lachlan starting, “We got a letter.”

“A letter? From who?”

“We don’t know them, but they claim to know who we are, how we came to be and we want to check it out. Since we don’t know how long it will take we want you to come. ”

“Of course, you two know I’ll go anywhere you go.” They both smiled, one kissing the top of his head and the other kissing his forehead.

“Then let’s eat something, pack small bags and head out.”

Kennedy made sure they had his sketch book and pencils, getting chuckles from both of them. He insisted on making breakfast for them, blushing when they sat at the table and watched him. They flirted with him while they ate so he was bright red by the time they left. “So…so how far are we going?” He asked as he climbed into the passenger seat, Lachlan taking the driver seat and Teague shifted into a wolf and sat on the floorboard between Kennedy’s feet with his head resting on his lap.

“One state over.” Lachlan answered as he pulled away from their home.

“That’s not so bad.”

Lachlan smiled as he took Kennedy’s hand and brought it to his lips. “It’s the reason we’re taking the car, otherwise we would take turns carrying you.”

Teague huffed and nudged Kennedy’s free hand until he stroked the top of his head. “Don’t be upset, I love when you two carry me, but what if it rains or something.” Kennedy said. He was getting a lot better at reading them.

Teague relaxed, happy just to be close to Kennedy. It may not be holding him, but it felt amazing when Kennedy would stroke his fur like this. They were also on their way to finding out everything about themselves. Beyond Kennedy, there was nothing either of them wanted more than to know how they came to be what they were, two people sharing one soul. Traffic was especially annoying today. Not that it was worse than normal, they just wanted to arrive sooner rather than later. Kennedy was a bit more patient, taking in the scenery as his mind went through all the possibilities.

“We may have to stop at a hotel at this rate.” Lachlan glared at the cars in front of him, willing them to spontaneously combust or move faster. Teague huffed and they both knew he was laughing.

“You shouldn’t drive all through the day and night anyway, it’s bad to sit for so long.” Kennedy replied, his concern warming his mates’ hearts.

“You know we don’t mind as far as we go, it’s you we’re worried about. Neither of us would force you to sleep in the car.”

“Then if we have to, we should stop.”

Lachlan reached over and stroked Kennedy’s cheek and Teague pushed his head against Kennedy’s stomach. “We will, I promise.”

They wound up stopping at a rest stop after awhile so they could all use the restroom and Teague took the time to shift back and stretch. He climbed into the backseat, laying down and reaching between the front seats to make contact with Kennedy. Both he and Lachlan’s thoughts went between their mate and the person who had sent them the letter. They were both already planning an exit strategy in case it was a trap, ready to protect Kennedy and kill anyone who tried to stop them. “What do you think we are?” Teague asked.

Lachlan shrugged. “Perhaps we did something terrible in a past life and this was our punishment.”

Teague chuckled. “Oh yes, what a punishment. It backfired if that’s the case.”

Lachlan smiled. “Yes it did, after all we have everything we could ever dream of wanting.”

“I don’t think you two could have possible come from someone evil or bad.” Kennedy interjected. “You’re both too sweet and gentle.”

“With you.” They both said.

Kennedy smiled, his heart warming. “You two are incredibly good men. I’ve been with you long enough to know.” They drove on as far as they could, but the weather also started making the trip harder so they checked into a hotel with good reviews for the night, planning to leave as soon as they woke in the morning. “Thank goodness we didn’t walk.” Kennedy stated as he sat down on their bed.

“Why don’t we shower? It’ll make us feel better after all that time in the car. I hate we made such terrible time.” Lachlan said and Kennedy answered, “I’m eager to meet this person, but it’s alright. We’re together, that’s what matters.” He was irresistibly cute saying something like that and both men took a turn kissing him.

Kennedy stood between his mates under the warm spray of the water, thankful the heat of the water masked his blush. Lachlan and Teague let their hands move over him, unable to keep themselves from teasing and seducing him. “You…you two should get clean too.”

“But we want you.” Teague said and bit down on his shoulder, getting a soft moan in response. “You want us too.”

“Yeah, but…the shower…”

“Please?” Lachlan gently grabbed his chin and turned his head, his lips lightly brushing Kennedy’s.

“I do…want both of you very much.” How could he tell them no, especially knowing they would stop if he asked them to. They made him feel so safe and loved and he gave them his absolute trust. They moved from the shower to the bed, their bodies tangling together, hands and lips exploring.

It was mind blowing just how incredible they could make him feel. They were so lustful, seemingly endlessly hungry for him, but at the same time they made him feel like the most treasured thing in the universe. Once they were spent they cuddled up to one another, Kennedy in the middle as always and got some much needed rest to finish their trip come morning. The traffic wound up being much better and they made it to their destination in good time. Teague spoke as he parked, “Lachlan, just as a precaution why don’t you stay in the car with Kennedy while I check this out. Once I’m sure this isn’t some ambush you two can come.”

Lachlan nodded. “Know that I will come running if you should need me.”

“I know.”

“Why don’t we all go in together?” Kennedy asked worriedly.

Both Lachlan and Teague chuckled. “Because we refuse to risk your safety.” Teague answered.

“You are the most important thing to us so if anything happens, we want you to stay here and keep the doors locked.” Lachlan added.

“I’ll be back before you know it, I promise.” Teague unbuckled and leaned over, giving Kennedy a reassuring kiss. He was out of the car before Kennedy could further protest.

“Come sit back here with me.” Lachlan’s tone was gentle and Kennedy unbuckled and climbed back into the back seat, letting Lachlan hold him. He didn’t like when Teague and Lachlan separated. He had seen them fight side by side and it worried him that alone one of them may become overwhelmed.

Teague let his senses flare out as he cautiously approached the house. He took in every small sound, every subtle scent, searching for any signs of a trap. He felt a slight tingle move over his skin and his wolf alerted him to the magical circle surrounding the property. It didn’t feel dangerous, but he would make sure Lachlan and Kennedy were careful as they crossed that invisible line.

He wasn’t fully up to the door yet when it opened, but that wasn’t surprising, obviously the person was waiting on them. He came out, allowing Teague to take him in. “You came.” He stated then looked over at the car. “Good, you both came. I’m surprised you trust me enough to bring your mate.”

“We couldn’t leave him behind and know with certainty, nothing, no matter what it or you has up its sleeve is ever going to harm Kennedy.”

“Would you like to come in before they come out?”

Teague was silent a few moments, reading the being as best he could. He couldn’t find a trace of threat so he said, “I will bring them now, I want them to be careful of your magic line so I’ll walk back to the car.”

“If you’d feel more comfortable we can talk out here. I want you two open to what I have to say.”

 

Chapter Two

“We’ll decide together.” Teague backed towards the car, ready to spring out of the way should this man try anything. He didn’t turn until he was to the car and pulling the door open. “It’s safe as far as I can tell.”

“Alright, are you ready Kennedy?” Lachlan asked.

“Yeah.”

“Stay close to us.”

They got out and both Lachlan and Teague positioned themselves in front and to each side of Kennedy. “So, would you like to come inside?” Their host asked.

They both looked at each other and something seemed to pass between them as they nodded to each other. “Alright, but if you try anything, we will not hesitate to kill you.” Lachlan answered.

“Kennedy means the world to us and we won’t have you hurting him.” Teague added.

Kennedy took their hands. “It’s okay you two, let’s hear him out.”

They followed him in, both Lachlan and Teague scenting and listening, feeling the magic in this house. “Please make yourselves at home.”

Kennedy kept both their hands, stroking his mates with his thumbs to try to get them to relax a little. He knew it was just out of care for him, but he didn’t want them to come across as rude and have this man change his mind about helping them. He really wanted to know how their souls became split and he knew they would always regret missing this opportunity if they bungled this chance. “I guess we’ll get right down to it.” The man said as he sat down across from them. He settled in a bit then continued, “I hear things now and again, that’s how I came to find you two. It’s honestly exciting to see what happened with Merrik’s split soul, to think it could actually be reborn. It’s astounding really, Drake thought he was going to completely destroy Merrik, make him incapable of even being reborn into a new life but here you two sit, a testament to the souls resilience.”

“I don’t want to be rude but I’m still just as confused as when I opened the letter you sent.”

“Ah yes, I’m sorry, I’m letting how star struck I am get in the way. I’m sorry.”

“Who is Merrik?” Lachlan asked.

“He is who you are, well were, before his soul was torn apart. Merrik was intelligent, charismatic, he had a good sense of humor, yet a resolve of steel. He was a brilliant tactician and a lover of both books and nature. He was a curious young man and he and Drake got along very well. They were incredibly fond of each other, they studied magic together, Merrik helped him with the day to day of his hold, using spells to improve things. He was loyal to Drake until he came across a book of dark spells and incantations. He showed it to Drake, wanted his help in using them, telling him it would give them more power than they could possibly imagine, that their world would benefit from it in the end.”

“He was corrupted.” Lachlan said.

“Not at first. It happened over time. He studied the book on his own, started using the spells inside. He summoned demons and evil spirits and then he started sacrificing people and then he betrayed Drake. The only way Drake could stop him, was to kill him. Merrik died with Drake’s sword in his chest and Drake used magic to tear his soul apart. The fact the he was reborn in you two is amazing.”

Lachlan and Teague both swallowed. “Are you saying we’re evil?” Teague asked.

“Not at all. Being reborn doesn’t mean you will repeat the mistakes of your past life. Many people find redemption the second time around.”

Kennedy gave their hands a reassuring squeeze again “I’ve been with you two a really long time. I know you could never be evil.”

“I only reached out because you two seemed like good beings. I just wanted you to know who you were. Having half a soul had to raise a million questions and maybe I can take you to where you belong one day and maybe, after I talk to Drake, maybe you could meet. Merrik and Drake were so close for such a long time. It might mean a lot to him to build a relationship again.”

“We have no memories of a past life.” Lachlan said.

“That’s normal. Some people never do, they live life without even knowing who they were before. You may or may not start to remember. Even so, they have no bearing on the men you are today.”

“Do you have any stories about Merrik before he betrayed Drake?” Kennedy asked. He was curious.

“Of course. Why don’t you let me get us something to eat and drink and then we can talk.”

“I’ll help…”

“Warrick and you don’t have too.”

“Please? You’ve given Lachlan and Teague so much, I can at least give you a hand.”

Warrick smiled. “I’m guessing they’ll be joining us?” Kennedy felt a blush tint his cheeks and Warrick chuckled. “It’s alright, it’s to be expected.” He stood and they followed him into the kitchen, Lachlan and Teague sitting at the kitchen table while Kennedy helped make sandwiches and lemonade.

They all sat at the kitchen table once it was all prepared, each with a large, cold glass of lemonade and two sandwich’s a piece with a few stacked in the middle of the table. They were captivated by Warrick’s stories and while they couldn’t remember them themselves Teague and Lachlan felt they were true. Regardless, there wasn’t any reason for this man to lie that was apparent. It was adorable and sweet to them just how curious Kennedy seemed to be about their past life. He was always attentive though, caring constantly about their lives and feelings.

“So, do they look like him?” Kennedy asked.

“A bit yes. Merrik had really long hair, down to his waist and his eyes were blue rather than grey. He was also a bit shorter and he didn’t dress like them of course. The fashion in his home world isn’t exactly modern.”

“Now I’m going to have to draw him.” Teague let out a little growl and Lachlan sighed, the sounds drawing Kennedy’s attention. “What?”

“They’re jealous.” Warrick chuckled.

“Why?” Kennedy asked. “It’s you two.”

“Not really.” Teague answered.

“He’s who we were and…” Lachlan sighed. “How childish of us, Teague.”

“I know, but we can’t help it.”

Kennedy smiled and hugged both of them. “Don’t be silly, I love who you are now, it’s just the past you sounds so interesting and the more Warrick describes him, the more I can see him in you two. I can’t wait to meet Drake, I bet he has even more stories.”

“I suppose we could go if you’d guide us Warrick.”

“Of course,when?”

“Do you have any books on the world you’d be taking us to?”

“You’d like to read up on everything there first?”

“Yes.”

“Understandable, just a moment.” Warrick got up, coming back some time later with two books. “That’s all you really need to know. You’re welcome to read them here, but I can give you directions to a good hotel if you’d like. I can’t imagine you three are going to drive all the way home just to drive back when you finish two books.”

“Would we be an imposition here?” Kennedy asked.

“Not at all.”

Kennedy looked at his mates who seemed to speak wordlessly to each other before saying, “We will stay here, it seems Kennedy would be more comfortable. Besides, we can each read one so most likely we’ll rip through these two books before tomorrow even comes.”

Kennedy asked for some paper and a pencil and got to sketching a picture of Merrik. He did his best to capture both Lachlan and Teague’s temperaments in his face, giving him an air of authority, but making his eyes twinkle with mischievousness. “Warrick, can you describe the kind of clothes Merrik wore?” He asked as he drew in a long braid.

“Think fantasy mage.”

Kennedy nodded, drawing everything from his boots and pants to a loose shirt and even a cloak. He wanted to give the picture more life so drew magic swirling around him. Just looking at his picture, it was hard to believe the man he had created could have turned on his best friend. “So, what do you think?” He gave the picture to Warrick.

“Amazing, you’re incredibly talented and you’ve captured him perfectly.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, you’re an amazing artist.”

“Well you described him well and I just put aspects of both of my mates in him.” At breakfast the next morning Lachlan and Teague announced they had read up on the place and felt prepared to take Kennedy there.

“Wonderful.” Warrick answered then Lachlan added, “Do we need to warn anybody we’re coming?”

“Let’s keep it a surprise. I assure you I can handle the situation when we get there. I think he’ll honestly be happy. The only reason he tried to destroy his soul is he didn’t know the extent his old friend had dabbled into dark magic and didn’t want him coming back to life still corrupted.” Teague nodded and soon they were locking up Warrick’s home and following him. “We don’t have to walk far. I’ve made a special portal.”

“A portal?” Kennedy looked between his two mates. “There are portals?”

“It would seem so.” Lachlan replied and both he and Teague tightened their grips on his hands.

“You two have nothing to fear.” Warrick said. “It’s perfectly stable and safe. I wouldn’t ask you to go through anything I wouldn’t go through first.”

“I hope we’re not coming off as rude.” Teague replied.

“Not at all, I understand your need to protect him.” They followed him down a path behind his home and into a little wooded area. It was beautiful, everything was strangely in bloom and it took Kennedy a moment to realize it must be Warrick’s magic at work. His eyes were then drawn to the circle of white stones. Warrick stepped in first to show them it was safe and they soon followed, Lachlan and Teague moving so he was pressed between them. “Remember to breathe you three and since this is your first time traveling between worlds, you might throw up on the other side.”

Lachlan and Teague nodded and soon they were all pulled through. They managed not to spill their stomachs but Kennedy had to admit to himself he was certainly nauseous. Lachlan lifted him, Teague whining that he missed the chance to carry him first. Kennedy smiled, the adorable look on his face causing the wolf’s heart to dance, mostly forgetting his brief moment of jealously. Sharing was sometimes hard but Kennedy was worth it, he was worth anything. Both Lachlan and Teague felt confident in this place, feeling like they could take on anything they had read about should trouble arise.

“Everything’s so beautiful.” Kennedy itched to draw the environment. It was so wild and untamed, alive in a different way than the city. “Did Merrik ever visit these woods?”

“All the time, he and Drake collected ingredients, hunted, and hiked together. You would swear they were brothers. In a way, I believe they were soulmates.” He chuckled when they all three gave him questioning looks. “Not like you three. There are different kinds of soulmates. You three are lovers, but he and Drake were like siblings born to different mothers.”

“How do you know so much about souls?” Lachlan asked.

“Believe it or not I’ve spent centuries researching souls. I became curious about what happens when people die. I met Drake and Merrik before their falling out and afterwards, when Drake was sure he had destroyed Merrik, I kept my eyes and ears open, wanting to see if the soul could truly be wiped off the face of the universe. I was amazed that he survived, not just in one person, but two. Not only were you reborn, but you’ve managed to retain that part of Merrik that was kind and generous, that was curious and intelligent and mischievous. It’s fascinating.”

They continued admiring their surroundings, stopping when Kennedy wanted a closer look at something and letting Teague take his turn carrying him. He rubbed his nose against Kennedy’s making him laugh. “I know it’s stupid to be jealous of myself, but I can’t help it sometimes.”

“It’s not stupid.” Lachlan said. “I’ve felt that way when I have to go out and do things and you two get to spend most of the day together. I know logically that Kennedy would never put one of us over the other, but for just a moment I feel left out. Then I come home and he’s so happy to see me it wipes away all of those doubts.”

“You three are irrevocably bound, bodies, souls, and hearts. I can tell that there is nothing that will be able to separate you three.”

When they arrived at Drake’s home Lachlan and Teague finally felt the first stirring from their soul that they knew this place. They still had no memories, but this all felt so much more real now. “What is it?” Warrick asked and Lachlan answered, ” I suppose a soul never forgets a best friend. While I still hold no memories my half of our soul is stirring.”

“Yeah.” Teague said, taking in the outside of Drake’s home.

“Well lets knock and see what meeting Drake does, perhaps you will remember a thing or two.” Warrick knocked and Teague set Kennedy down so he could take both their hands again.

Drake answered, seeming surprised. “It’s been awhile.”

“It has, I’m sorry, I brought some people I feel you’d like to get to know once I explain them.”

 

Final Chapter

“Oh?” He smiled until his eyes rested on Lachlan and Teague, shock and confusion playing across his face as he reached for a sword that wasn’t there. He realized he was unarmed and started to backpedal when Warrick grabbed his arm.

“Easy my friend.” Warrick said.

“They…he…”

Both Lachlan and Teague’s hands tightened around Kennedy’s and he looked at them both. They both looked just as surprised as Drake, their eyes wide as they studied his face. “Guys?” He said gently and they blinked, that moment of revelation gone. They both looked at him, eyes warming, both of them apologizing.

“Drake, let’s go in and sit before you fall down, you’re pale.” Warrick said as he gently pushed Drake back into his own home and gestured for the three of them to follow.

They did, all still feeling the confusion that had settled in when their souls recognized one another. Warrick explained everything, how he found them and what they were. A tense silence filled the room until Lachlan spoke. “We don’t remember anything…we’re sorry for what happened though.”

Drake sighed. “He wouldn’t have brought you here if you still had a darkness in your heart…I am glad you’re on a good path…I pray you stick to it this time.”

“I don’t think we could ever go down a dark path, not with a mate like Kennedy.”

Drake nodded. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to be rude to people who don’t deserve it, but I need a little space to think. I’m going to go on a walk…make yourselves at home…Warrick should remember where everything is.”

Drake walked out and Warrick apologized, explaining, “This has to be really hard.”

“We get it, it’s alright.” Teague answered.

“Killing Merrik was probably the hardest thing he’s ever done. Imagine looking into the face of the person you trusted the most and no longer seeing them there.”

“I don’t think either of us could handle it.” Lachlan said, sighing.

“I think it would kill us.” They both rested a hand on one of Kennedy’s knees.

“You know I’d never hurt you two, not on purpose.” Kennedy rested his hands on theirs, hoping they felt reassured. He could see something in their eyes, a bit of pain beneath the shock.

“We know.” They said as one and hugged him.

“Anyway, are you three hungry or thirsty?”

“No.” Lachlan and Teague said then looked at Kennedy.

“Maybe some tea or water if he doesn’t have it?”

“Of course.” He left them in the living room and went into the kitchen.

“How does this make you feel, Kennedy?” Teague asked.

“It doesn’t worry you does it?” Lachlan added.

“Of course not, you two are amazing mates, I couldn’t ask for better. It’s just sad, the look on his face, how he almost looked like he had seen a ghost.”

“Yeah, I hope it’s good we came.”

Warrick was now re-entering the room. “It is good, I think this will be good for all of you.” He handed Kennedy a glass of sweet tea and Kennedy finally moved his hands off theirs, happy Drake actually had some. They waited patiently for their host, honestly surprised when he came back that he hadn’t stayed gone more than about an hour and a half.

“Once again, I’m sorry, you’re new…people now.” He had taken a short pause, still seeming in shock that the soul he divided hadn’t just vanished, but had gone into two beings. “It was rude to walk out, but I truly did need it to be able to deal with this…I don’t think I’ve ever completely stopped mourning my friend. I never wanted to kill him but he gave me no other choice so I did the hard thing for the sake of the many who live here.”

“We get that, truly.” Lachlan said.

Drake swallowed. “So, um, you found love in this life…Merrick never had any luck…”

“Kennedy means the world to us.”

Drake offered his hand and Kennedy shook it. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“It’s good to meet you too.”

“The two that Merrik’s soul chose as its vessels are Lachlan and Teague. Lachlan is a vampire and Teague a werewolf. Kennedy is also a vampire.” Warrick explained.

“I see.” Drake replied, shaking their hands. “Do you remember me?”

“It’s more an impression.” Lachlan answered then looked to Teague. “It’s almost like…”

“A familiar scent.” Teague finished. “Like even though we don’t know you, it’s still there.”

Drake nodded as he finally took a seat. “What do you three do then?”

“We hunt down and kill beings who harm others.” Teague answered. “That’s how we met Kennedy.”

“He had been forcefully changed into a vampire.” Lachlan said as he placed a hand on Kennedy’s shoulder. “He nearly starved himself into a blood lust, unaware of what was happening to him.”

“I didn’t even know creatures like them existed until then. They saved me and fed me, gave me a home.” Kennedy smiled at him and both Lachlan and Teague felt jealousy rear its head, but managed to push it down. “I know you’re worried, but they’re both incredibly kind and loving. I hope you can get to know each other again, I hope you can learn to trust them.”

“I can, your work sounds honorable and as I said, you share a soul with my old friend but you’ve lived a different life now, obviously have made different choices and I think it will help me finally find true peace if I can form some sort of relationship with you guys. Though, any crazy could have written you three, luring you into a trap, you’d really follow a letter?”

“We were cautious, but we’ve been so curious about how we came to be.”

Drake nodded. “Yeah, I doubt you’ve met anybody like you.” There was still a hint of awkward tension in the air, but they were in a situation that would take time to get truly comfortable.

“No, we were afraid to bring our mate, but we were also afraid to leave him behind. It’s also just hard to be away from him.”

“Is your world very dangerous?”

“In our line of work you get on the bad side of some nasty people. I doubt anybody is stupid enough to try anything, but Kennedy’s life isn’t something to gamble on.”

Drake nodded. “And you Kennedy, what do you do?”

“I’m an art student, I have a couple of years left at university actually. Some people have already asked me to do commissions for them. These two want me to get my work out there, so we’ll see how things go.”

“He’s incredibly talented.” Warrick said. “He drew a perfect likeness of Merrik.”

“If you would like I can take all three of you to places he and I used to frequent, perhaps you’ll find some inspiration while we’re out.” Drake offered.

“I might have to get me another sketch book. I left mine back in our world, but we’d love too.” He looked between his mates.

“Of course love.” Lachlan said.

“Whatever you want.” Teague added.

“Besides we want to know more, maybe even trigger some memories.” Lachlan said. “And if you don’t mind, we would appreciate it if you would let us see anything of Merrik’s.”

“Yeah…I’m sure I still have some things of his. Let’s work on getting Kennedy a sketch book first. An artist shouldn’t be without his tools.” He walked into another room, coming back with one. “I thought one was left here awhile back.” He said then also handed him a pen. “I once had a noble family stay with me, one of their children left it. It’s been here at least a year so I don’t think they’ll want it back.”

“Thank you.”

“Do you four feel ready to go? Hungry, thirsty?” They established all were ready to travel around so they went out back to the horses Drake owned. He got them all situated and they started on their way. So many memories were stirring up for Drake, it was painful but he really did want to remember the good times over the bad at the end.

He took them to a place where he and Merrik would gather plants for Merrik’s experiments. Kennedy took to drawing one of the plants, a beautiful purple flower with a yellow and red center. He had never seen anything like it. He reached out to touch it and was startled when Lachlan grabbed his hand and Teague pulled him back a little. “What?”

“Are you alright? You didn’t touch it before did you?” They both looked him over, concerned.

“No, I didn’t. Hey, what’s wrong?”

His mates looked at each other and then back at him, confused. “We don’t know.” Lachlan said.

“They’re toxic.” Drake said as he crouched down to look at the flower. “There is an oil on the petals that seeps into the skin. Merrik found that out the hard way. It nearly killed him.” He stood. “You remember.”

“Not a memory as such.” Teague replied.

“More an impression.” Lachlan added.

Teague nodded. “It was like something in us was giving off a warning.”

“Well thankfully for Kennedy you did. I’d hate for his first trip here to be so miserable.”

“It would have been my fault. I’m not from here so I shouldn’t have let my curiosity get the better of me without asking.”

“I’ll try to make sure to disclose more of that sort of information. I’m not accustomed to being with people not from here.” They moved on, taking in as much as they could until night had them returning to Drake’s home. Warrick made dinner leaving Lachlan, Teague and Kennedy sitting in the living room together while Drake tried to find the photos of them he still had. When he found the album he brought it out, his heart feeling a little heavy already. He would give anything to go back in time and keep his best friend from finding that book.

“This was you two.” He handed the album to Kennedy since he was in the middle.

Kennedy smiled. “Wow, Warrick wasn’t lying. He looks so mischievous.” He let his finger brush over the picture. He then let his eyes drift to Drake who was standing next to him. “Why do you look so irritated?”

Drake sighed. “Well, it was our first outing together and he may have gotten us into a bit of trouble. All he could do was laugh. At least he go the data he wanted.”

“He really is a perfect mix of you two.” Kennedy said to Lachlan and Teague as he turned the page. “What’s this?”

“We were tanning hides.” He reached over and flipped to another page, tapping it. “He made those boots.”

“Wow, they look nice. I bet because of it my mates would be naturals if they tried.”

“The soul does keep a lot with it.” Warrick noted.

“I’ve always known the soul was amazing but this…really makes you come to terms with how much we probably don’t even know about souls.” Drake said.

They spent their days continuing to go through things, discussing the past and how they spent their lives currently. Drake found it truly helping him as he grew closer to Kennedy, Lachlan and Teague. He had to destroy his friend, but at least he knew, in the end, he really did help him. His old friend was free of the evil that over took his heart, was living a happy life and had obviously found true, meaningful love this time around. It had all turned out as good as it possibly could have and Drake looked forward to the days to come for the first time since his old friend departed from his world.

~ The End

Albano & Beatrice 2

Chapter One

“Is this okay?” Biagio asked as he posed for Beatirce.

“Perfect, you look so charming.”

“As usual.”

She had him standing with his hands in his pant pockets, pretending like he was casually looking over the city. “You know, a lot of my female and even some of my male readers think you’re hot in that bad boy sort of way.”

“Really? Wow, I’m flattered. If only they knew the truth.”

She burst out laughing, shaking her head as she drew. “He looks more like a miscreant.” Albano said from over her shoulder. Her laughter had drawn him up to her studio.

“You’re just jealous brother, I’m the sweet one.” Albano snorted. “What do they say about Dracula over here?” Biagio asked, receiving a glare from his brother.

“They like how sexy and mysterious he is. They all just fall in love with his beautiful, brooding face. My dark knight.”

Albano leaned down and gently grabbed her chin and turned her face up to him so he could kiss her. He gave a satisfied smile when her face grew hot and she nearly dropped her pencil. “Seems you are the most susceptible to my charms, my love.”

“Mmhmm.” Was all she could manage then she cleared her throat. “Let me finish drawing him then I’ll do you.” Albano arched an eyebrow and Biagio burst out laughing. “Draw…draw you.”

“Wow, if you two need some alone time, I still have the newest issue of your graphic novel to finish.”

“No, it’s fine, please let me finish. I need it for the new cover.”

“Yes ma’am, always a pleasure to assist my favorite author and stop being so jealous brother, you were busy and you know I love her like a sister.”

Albano sighed. “I apologize, we’ve both just been so busy, it won’t happen again.”

“Well, maybe once I have all my drawings in, we can all go somewhere. Maybe Biagio will fall in love and you and I can just relax and forget about work.” Beatrice said as she continued sketching Biagio.

“That sounds perfect, I was going to suggest the same thing. We may have forever, but I do not wish to spend long amounts of time too busy for one another.”

“Aww.” Biagio said teasingly to his brother who groaned at him, causing Beatrice to nearly laugh. Beatrice finished her sketch then asked Albano to pose for her. He followed her direction, enjoying once again having a reason to simply stare at her. She was so incredibly beautiful and he constantly thought about how lucky he was. She started blushing but he kept a straight face to make sure her picture turned out how she wanted it to. When she was done he scooped her into his arms, needing to have her close.

“I still need to get these mailed in.”

“Later, I will even mail them for you. I’ve missed you.”

“I’m sorry, the cover really is the last thing. I’m done with my part for now. I’ll let my boss know I’m taking some time off, he won’t mind.” Albano pressed a kiss to her neck and then gave her a little nibble, causing her to giggle. “Albano.”

“You just taste so good, I can’t help myself.” He ran his nose up her neck to her ear, grinning at the goosebumps that rose on her skin. “I love everything about you, my love, the way you smell, the feel of you, the taste of you. You are my everything and I need you more than anything. Forgive my whining, I just feel like I’ve been neglecting you.”

“You’re being sweet, I don’t consider it whining.” He carried her into their bedroom, away from his brothers teasing so he could just enjoy Beatrice. Eventually she did have to urge him to mail the artwork, but once that was taken care of he kept her close to him, wondering how he ever let himself get too busy to hold her. They ordered take out for dinner and she called her boss once it was on the way. He was gracious about her taking time off and told her to have fun. “I’m all yours.” She said sweetly to Albano as she sat down next to him.

He kissed her head. “Good, now what exactly would you like to do?”

“I want to go somewhere we can relax, but where Biagio won’t be bored.”

“Him and his technology.”

She let out a little laugh. “You sound like such an old man.”

“At least I’m, what was it your fans said, sexy and beautiful.”

“Yes you are.” She kissed his cheek and he grabbed her chin so he could press one to her lips, causing her skin to heat. “So…um…”

“Where are we going my love?”

“How about Milan. It’s beautiful and there are a lot of things there that will keep Biagio entertained. It’s a bit of a drive so maybe we could stay there for a few days.”

“I will be happy no matter where we go, as long as I can have you and if Biagio gets too restless you can threaten him with spoilers.”

She gave a light laugh and he smiled, looking at her adoringly. “You need to let me get on the computer and set everything up.” Beatrice said and Albano sighed, “Well we aren’t in any rush are we? I want to hold you.”

“Okay, but after dinner.”

“After dinner…maybe.” Her smile at his words made his heart stutter and he wondered if she realized just how wrapped around her finger he was. Beatrice didn’t end up getting away from him a few moments until the next morning came. She found two nice rooms on the same floor then looked into some things to do until she heard Albano get out of bed.

“Sneaking off?” He asked as he scooped her up and pressed a kiss to her cheek then her neck.

“Just making sure everything’s in order. Let’s make breakfast so we can pack.”

He chuckled. “Are you worried I might distract you?”

“Yes, then we’ll never leave.”

“Alright, I’ll be good for now.”

He took her downstairs where Biagio was already waiting, fully dressed, a graphic novel in one hand and a bagel in the other. “Morning.” He said with a mouth full of food. “I thought I’d be down here longer.”

Beatrice blushed. “I wanted us to get going. I’m surprised you’re up so early.”

“Hey we’re going on a trip, I’m excited.”

It wasn’t long before they were all in the car, Beatrice driving, Albano at her side and Biagio reading in the backseat. Knowing him he’d go between that, sleeping, playing on his phone and day dreaming out the window. Beatrice inserted a thumb drive into her radio she kept in the car, going through folders until she found the one that contained violin and piano music. She liked soothing music while driving and she knew Albano enjoyed it as well. It put Biagio right to sleep before long so they managed to cover a lot of ground before the younger vampire was having them stop.

Biagio woke when they were about an hour away and looked around in confusion for a moment, looking more like a teenager than a centuries old vampire. It had Beatrice giggling and Biagio grinning. “Sorry I fell asleep, how much longer until we’re there.”

“A little less than an hour.” Beatrice answered.

“It’s that music of yours, it always knocks me out.”

“That’s because your brain can’t process good music.” Albano teased and Biagio stuck his tongue out.

“More like you’re brain is so old it can’t bear the thought of listening to something more modern. I suppose it’s fitting oh King of Darkness.” Albano glared at his brother in the mirror and Beatrice just smiled at their banter.

They continued to talk and joke around all the way there. They easily checked in and received their room keys. “So remember, my room is still near yours.” Beatrice blushed and both men chuckled. They soon set their bags in their rooms then went out to find something good to eat near them. They were tired of the car but they couldn’t wait to try the nearby food. Biagio left them early, stating he wanted to read and listen to music in his room.

“Alright, you sure you want to walk back?”

“Yeah, I can take in some sights on the way back.”

“Okay, just text me when you get there” Biagio gave an amused smile. She was always so concerned despite the fact Biagio could think of few things that would even give them a challenge.

“I will Beatrice”

“He may look like an irresponsible teen, but he is still a monster my love, just like me. Any mugger would have immediate second thoughts about attacking him.” Albano said.

“You’re not monsters and we’re a family, we look out for each other.”

“I know, but if anything it would be him calling to let the mugger tell you how sorry he was.”

Beatrice laughed at the image of Biagio holding a mugger in a headlock and forcing him to talk on the phone. “He would, he totally would.”

“We do appreciate it though, how much you care about us. It’s sweet and we wouldn’t have you any other way.”

“Meeting you two…well…I’m happy to have both of you.”

“Both of us?”

She giggled “You more and you know it you adorable, jealous vampire.”

“I was only teasing that time.”

“Suure.” He leaned over and kissed her, pressing his lips into hers like nobody else was watching since nobody else mattered. She was completely flushed once he pulled away so he decided to be nice for the rest of their meal. He’d soon have his beloved alone in their room anyway.

 

Chapter Two

“Do you think we could do a little shopping?” She asked once they were outside.

“You want to walk around the Galleria.”

“Yeah, if you don’t mind.”

He gently stroked her cheek, giving her a little grin. “What do I get for my patience?”

Her cheeks flushed, her heart tripping over itself. “Uh…whatever you want, I suppose.”

“That’s a bit dangerous my love, I want so much from you and I don’t even have to worry about you being too exhausted for work.”

“Albano.”

He chuckled. “I love you Beatrice.”

“I love you too and I promise, just a little shopping. I want some sweets.”

“Anything for you my love.”

Albano followed Beatrice around happily, taking in everything but mostly, just taking in her happy glow. She seemed especially happy when she found the sweets she had been craving. “Alright, I’m ready”

“Are you sure my love?”

“Yeah.” She blushed, seeing in his eyes how much he wanted her in their room. He lifted up Beatrice, taking her back to their car so she could get them back to where they were staying. They checked in on Biagio when they got there, finding him browsing the internet. It was a brief check in and Albano barely waited for their door to be closed before he started letting his hands slowly move over Beatrice, caressing her and starting to gently pull at her clothing.

He lifted her, her legs going around his waist, his lips against her neck, teeth teasingly scraping against her skin as he carried her to bed. She pulled his shirt off, her fingers brushing over his skin as she undid his jeans and pushed them off. His mouth found her breast, his hand moving to rub between her legs. “Albano.” Her voice came out in a little whimper and he trailed kiss up her neck to her lips, catching her breathy moans as she orgasmed.

He lifted her into his lap as he sat back, his hands holding her hips and pulling her down onto him, a moan escaping his lips as her heat completely enveloped him. She clung to him, her nails biting into his back as she rode him and his hips rocked into her. His fingers tangled in her hair, tugging her head back so his lips could play at her neck. His bite was gentle, his teeth sinking into her flesh wrenching a loud cry of pleasure from her throat.

Her loud moan caused him to release inside of her, but he didn’t pull out until he had finished feeding. When he was done he licked across the two small holes, effectively causing them to close so he could lay down with her. “I love you Albano.” She said softly.

“I love you too Beatrice.” He stroked her hair as he just took in her scent, letting it completely relax him. He wanted to have her again, but he had been so neglectful of her he decided simply to hold his beloved close, hoping she felt how cherished she was. It was enough to ease her into a short nap.

Biagio knocked on their door as they were showering and Beatrice couldn’t help but giggle when Albano groaned and got out. She reminded him to cover himself. Biagio might be his brother, but the rest of the hotel wasn’t. “Yes little brother?” Albano said.

“I want to go here.” Biagio handed him a brochure.

“Where did you even get this?” Albano looked at the cover. It was for the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology, something right up Biagio’s alley.

“The lobby. If you two are done doing…you know…we should go before the day’s over. It might give Beatrice ideas for her novels and I’ll get to see stuff that would blow your old man mind.”

Albano growled at him and Biagio laughed. “If it wasn’t for Beatrice, I might beat you up.”

“Come on, if you two come with me then I promise to give you a couple of days all to yourselves.”

“Then it’s a deal.” Biagio was smiling as Albano shut the door and returned to the shower. “He wants to go to the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology when we’re done with our shower.”

“That sounds fun, I can’t wait.” He kissed her forehead and they quickly finished, drying and putting on new clothes as soon as they were out. Biagio had been waiting in the hall so they were now on to the museum. Biagio and Beatrice talked excitedly all the way there and continued talking once inside, both eager to see everything. Albano was taking everything in too, it wasn’t necessarily up his alley, but he was here with Beatrice and he would make the most of the visit.

“Look at this ship.” Biagio said as he leaned over the railing.

“We have seen bigger brother.” Albano said as he examined the boat. “Amazing craftsmanship though, well preserved.”

“I’m beginning to think your brother is right, you really are Dracula.” Beatrice said with a laugh.

“Why?”

“Because of the whole riding in on a ship thing.”

Biagio started laughing. “Look at his face.”

“I have never drained an entire crew, merely ridden on ships.”

“Even then he acted all broody and dark, standing at the bow like some reaper or something.” Biagio teased. “I’m sure you’ve seen it in your head.”

“Some, he was standing in the rain during a storm and you were up in the crow’s nest.”

“He was up there whooping and yelling as we both watched for anything hiding in the water.”

“We could move around the ship better than the crew, not even the aggressive waves could throw us off balance. It was so exciting.”

“I bet, maybe at some point we should go sailing.”

“I’ll go anywhere you want my love.” Albano said, bringing her hand to his lips.

“How could we make that work? Do you want us to steal a ship?”

“No, of course not. I’m not sure how we’d manage it, especially being I doubt a cruise ship is Albano’s style and while he’ll follow me anywhere I’d prefer that he has fun too beyond the sweet sentiment of being around me.”

“We’ll think of something.” Biagio said with a grin.

Albano enjoyed the rest of their time at the museum and chimed in anytime she asked him anything or Biagio brought up another instance from their past. He had never stopped to think about those moments, all the things they had witnessed, the people they had met and Beatrice had practically documented it. “Did you get any ideas for your next installment?” Biagio asked when they finally left the museum.

“Maybe.” Beatrice teased. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

“But that’ll be forever.”

“All I can say is you’re really going to love it.”

“You could write about butterflies and puppies and I’d read it.”

“I know you would, you’re my biggest fan.”

She turned her attention to Albano. “So dinner my sweet vampire?”

“Of course, whatever you want.”

“And then for the next couple of days I’m going to be doing some exploring.” Biagio said. “You and Batman need some alone time and I have plans.”

“I don’t like the sound of that.” Albano said as they climbed into their car. “Don’t get into any trouble.”

“I would never.” He gave his sweetest, most innocent smile. “I’m the angel.” Albano snorted and Beatrice giggled. “Now, we should have pizza and beer.”

“Pizza?”

“You agree right Beatrice, pizza is everything.”

“Alright, pizza it is.”

They found a nearby place, ordering a pizza and a few beers for each of them before eating together in Albano and Beatrice’s room. Biagio didn’t dwell with them long before going to his own room. “See you two in a few days.” Biagio said cheerfully just as he exited. They continued to eat and talk, enjoying the amazing new beer they had decided to try. When they were finished they both cleared the bed, wishing they had a bigger trash can. They knew room service would get it in the morning so they just made it as neat as possible and relaxed.

 

Chapter Three

“Biagio is up to something.” Albano said.

“Mmhmm.” Beatrice had just started to doze off. “He’s always up to something.”

He huffed out a laugh. “True.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Sorry, you’re trying to sleep.”

“It’s alright, I’m just happy to be here with you.”

“Me too.”

“Let Biagio have fun, you know he might be mischievous, but he wouldn’t get into any serious trouble.”

The next morning they decided to go out for breakfast and ran into Biagio who gave them a little wink as he headed downstairs. Biagio headed off down the street as they climbed into their car. Biagio hummed to himself as he headed for the canals. He was going to find someone with a ship or at least who knew someone with a ship. He knew they would have to go to the ocean, but he wanted to surprise his brother and Beatrice.

Beatrice didn’t ask for much, she was the type to always be content so it was hard to figure out anything to do for her, but now he had something. She had made their lives so much better and Biagio had grown to love her like a sister. Beyond that she was still his favorite author, long before she realized it she was already bringing happiness to at least his life. He knew he could pull this off and they could have another grand adventure here beyond what Beatrice already had in mind.

After breakfast, Albano let Beatrice pull him around, just enjoying her joyful exploration of the city. He adored the look of amazement on her face and could stop himself from pulling her into him and kissing her. He received a blush in response and smiled lovingly at her. He had no idea what he had done to deserve such an amazing woman, but he was thankful for meeting her. “What was that for?” She finally managed to ask.

“For being so beautiful and perfect.”

“Hardly.”

“Don’t lie.” He brought her fingers to his lips as they continued on. “I’m surprised you didn’t spend more time here with your writing.”

“Well, the only time I came here was for work, book signings, stuff like that. I didn’t really get to explore. It’s so beautiful, I think I definitely want to base one of my novels here.” She smiled. “Maybe after the one with the ship.”

“You’re going to make me look like some dark harbinger of death and Biagio like some wild madman. At least Biagio’s character will be accurate.”

She giggled even as she nudged him. “Be nice, he’s not crazy, just energetic.”

“I suppose energetic is one way to put it.” Beatrice beamed as they continued about their day, all the while Biagio was running around, talking to one person then being sent to another, finally he found someone who could help.

“How much are you willing to pay?”

“However much you need, but you’re at our disposal as long as she wants to be out.”

“That’s fine as long as you’re sure it’s however much I need.” They began to haggle price. The next morning he knocked on their door, waiting patiently since it sounded like they had been sleeping.

Albano glared at his brother when he opened the door and Biagio smiled, holding up his hands. “I know, I know, I said I’d leave you alone, but before you kill me, hear me out.”

Albano sighed. “Alright.”

“Is Beatrice awake and appropriate?”

“Yes.”

“Oh good.” He pushed himself past his brother and grinned at Beatrice when he saw her.

“Hey Biagio, is everything alright?”

“I have a surprise for you two, well mostly for you and I had to tell you.” He cleared his throat. “I found a guy with a boat and he said he’d take us out for as long as we want. All we have to do is go to the coast.”

She gasped with excitement, quickly getting up to hug him. “Thank you Biagio, I never expected to be able to sail so soon.” They found their shoes and slipped them on before finding a good breakfast spot, eating their fill then setting off for the coast.

“So how did you pull this off?” Albano asked and Biagio answered, “Money, he wanted probably too much, but I figure he needed it and we have plenty as long as we’ve been around.”

“This is still so sweet, I’m so happy.”

“Just hurry on that next book.” Biagio winked and Beatrice lightly laughed.

The coast was gorgeous and Beatrice rolled her window down, enjoying the breeze coming in from the ocean. She couldn’t believe they were actually going sailing and her mind was already working on what she would write next. Biagio lead them to the docks when they finally parked and got out and introduced them to the man with the boat. “It’s nice to meet both of you.” He said as he shook their hands. “I’m Marco, and this is my ship the Gypsy Gem.” He gestured at the boat. It was an impressive piece of equipment and Beatrice couldn’t wait to board.

“Oh, hope this will be enough.” Biagio pulled out his wallet and handed Marco some money.

“This is more than what we settled on.”

Biagio shrugged. “A little extra for gas?” He grinned. “Permission to come aboard?”

“Of course, granted. Please be careful not to let your feet slip off the edge.”

Beatrice’s heart was beating even faster with excitement as she walked aboard, now a little in disbelief. She had trusted Biagio when he said he got a ship but it wasn’t until now it truly felt real. There was a deck beneath her feat and this ship looked amazing. She walked up to a railing, grasping it in her hand just to feel it. They both could see how happy she was, causing the two of them and even the captain to smile. “Well let’s set off.” The captain said and Albano walked over to stand beside Beatrice. He leaned down, placing a gentle kiss on her head.

“It seems we should have done something like this sooner.”

Biagio had already climbed up the mast before they were even out in the open ocean and clung to the very top of it, causing Marco to shoot him a concerned look. “This is amazing.” Biagio yelled and Beatrice giggled at the look of excitement on his face.

“He’s going to give someone a heart attack.” Albano said, but he found a smile tugging at his lips. It really did remind him of then. Even he felt that tingle of exhilaration as the boat cut through the water, as it hit a wave and kicked up water.

“You look happy.” Beatrice’s voice drew his attention back to her and he felt his cheeks flush in embarrassment.

“I can’t help myself.”

“It’s adorable. You pick on Biagio all the time, but he must have picked up some of his personality quirks from somewhere.”

“Not me.”

“He’s just acting like he’s never been childish.” Biagio said as he dropped down behind them, chuckling when Marco gasped. “Don’t worry, I’m light on my feet, like a cat.”

“There’s no shame in having some fun.” Beatrice stated, an amused smile adorning her face. He made a noise that was a bit of a grunt and grumble mixed into one that had both Beatrice and Biagio chuckling. The weather was even on their side to make this a perfect day. It was actually perfect outside, not too hot, not too cold. It was the kind of day you could purely enjoy and they took it for all it was worth. Their time aboard came and went too quickly and it made them want to figure out a real sea adventure with her sometime. Maybe they could hire a crew and everything, take her far and beyond anything she had ever seen.

“I need to draw.” Beatrice said, making Albano smile and Biagio chuckle. “Does that count as working?” She asked.

“No my love, draw whenever you wish, I know it makes you happy.”

“Sorry, I just really want to get my ideas on paper.”

He took her hand, bringing it to his lips. “Never apologize for pursuing your passions.”

“What he means is, he packed your sketchbook because he knew you’d need it.” Biagio said.

“Really?” Beatrice smiled lovingly at Albano, making his heart stutter.

“In the top pocket of our bag.”

“You’re so sweet my love and sneaky.”

“And you say I’m the mischievous one.” Biagio teased.

She was over flowing with ideas and set to work bringing them alive as soon as she had her sketch book. Biagio had gone off again and Albano just enjoyed sitting with her, admiring the amazing woman who had come into his life. It was adorable how concentrated she was. She drew until her arm was tired then once again wrapped herself in Albano’s waiting arms. “Thank you.”

“You should never leave your sketch book behind. An artist should always be ready to jot down her ideas in whatever form she creates.”

“We should do things like this more often.”

“We will.”

Biagio made good on his promise and left them alone for the next couple of days, exploring on his own and taking note of places they might like. Albano spent his time spoiling Beatrice, wanting her to know how loved she was. He was going to make more of an effort to spend time with her. “I’m going to have to get to work on my next novel when we get back, you know that right?” Beatrice said sleepily as Albano rubbed her back.

“I know, I’m sure my brother will be happy.” He pressed a kiss to her cheek. “We should spend more time together like this.”

She smiled. “I don’t feel neglected, Albano, what you and Biagio do is important.”

“But so are you. I never want to make you feel sad or lonely.” He pulled her into him, his nose rubbing hers, making her giggle. “Whatever I can do to make you happier, I will. Whether it be getting married or starting a family, maybe you want a different house or…”

She pressed a finger against his lips. “Do you want to have a baby with me?”

Albano grabbed her hand, pressing it against his chest. “I want whatever you want, I want forever and as many children as will make you happy. Though if they turn out like Biagio…”

“Albano.” She had to stop herself from laughing.

“I’m kidding, my love.”

If Beatrice hadn’t already been as sleepy as she was she would want to start trying right now, but given her body’s need to rest she just laid in his arms blissfully, elated they were talking about children. Names were already swirling in her head and images of taking care of her future little one. It brought her into a peaceful sleep, Albano soon fading after she was out. They told Biagio first thing in the morning and he seemed excited too at the thought he would become an uncle. He made jokes about corrupting a little boy into a life of being like him and teased about all the boys if the two of them had a little girl. Beatrice giggled as she listened to the two of them, feeling like her life couldn’t be any more perfect.

~ The End

Caine & Rajin 3

Chapter One

Caine was sitting on the couch when Rajin came in. Rajin had been over at his parents house most the day while Caine worked on one of his newest inventions. It was almost ready and when something was almost done, working on it seemed to be all Caine wanted to do. Rajin admired his mates passion so it never bothered him when Caine would go into such a deep focus but right now Caine wasn’t thinking of an invention, his face was too conflicted for that. Something was obviously wrong “what’s the matter?” Rajin asked as he sat down, worry on his own face. “one of my dads friends called me..”

“what for? Is he begging for money again?”

“He’s dead”

“are you okay?”

“I don’t know, I’m sad but not as sad as I should be…I sort of feel like a monster for not feeling worse”

“Your father abused you, he beat your mother to death. It’s only because he’s your dad your sad at all” Caine sighed “I’m angry at him too, for obvious reasons and for the fact he died drinking and driving…I looked up the accident….he took an entire family out with him….he passed out drunk at the wheel and caused a horrible wreck…even in his death he had to do something terrible. That families little ones were only four and seven”

Rajin took his husband in his arms “I’m so sorry Caine”

“I want to help all the families that got hurt. I want to pay the hospital bills and help the family of the ones that died pay for the funerals”

“Okay, where do we need to go. I’m completely on board”

“It’s back in my hometown.” He had never planned on going back, not for anything, but now he had too, he owed it to those people. He swallowed. “I hate it there, but…”

“I know and I’ll be with you every step of the way, you know that.” He gently stroked Caine’s cheek. “When do you want to leave?”

“As soon as possible, I have to get everything settled, even with my…with my father.”

There was a lot of bitterness in the last word, hatred even. Rajin didn’t even think Caine was aware of it. “Alright, how about we get everything set up tonight so we can leave in the morning?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m sorry Caine.”

“Me too.”

Caine pulled out their laptop and booked them a place to stay while they were there. He then looked into plane tickets to see if they could fly there tomorrow. If that way would cause them to need to wait they’d just drive but it turned out they could even nab first class tickets on a plane heading that way. Since they were flying he made sure they’d have a car waiting then he shut down the computer before he was tempted to look at the devastation his father caused again. It was only as he put the computer away he finalyl smelled that Rajin was cooking.

He walked to the kitchen, seeing he was almost done “are we set up?” Rajin asked and Caine answered “Yeah, thanks for cooking”

“You should have called me home sooner Caine”

“I think I needed to be alone at first. It’s easier for me to cry by myself and my heart broke when I saw he killed two little kids. I’m just praying everyone in the hospital heals and doesn’t die as well. I don’t really know their conditions”

“Still, call me when something bad happens. It’s my job to comfort you baby and I hate knowing I couldn’t.”

“I will next time something comes up, I promise.”

Rajin finished cooking and made their plates then sat down next to his mate. They ate, Caine not seeming as invested in it, but doing it anyway so Rajin wouldn’t worry about him. “Why don’t you go ahead and get in bed, I’ll clean up.” Rajin said once their plates were clean.

“I can help.”

Rajin lovingly stroked his cheek, his touch comforting and warm. “Go on, you need it, especially after what happened and we may not get much rest once we’re there.”

Caine nodded. “Alright, I love you.”

“I love you too.” He kissed his lips, lingering for a moment before letting him leave. Rajin let out a sigh. He hated seeing Caine so upset.

The only comfort in his head being this was the very last time Caines dad could hurt him. In their entire relationship the only reason that man ever called was for money and he couldn’t even fake like it was something else. The second someone answered the phone he’d ramble off an amount that they both knew he’d blow on alcohol, prostitutes and Rajin had suspected a few drugs here and there too. Caines father had been such a rotten man and Rajin felt it a miracle Caine grew up to be so good despite the childhood abuse that he had to face alone since his father had caused his mother to die in childbirth from the many injuries she suffered.

Caine went to the bathroom to brush his teeth, staring at himself in the mirror as he continued to think about all those poor people. He truly wished he could do more to help them beyond financial means but he knew all too well money couldn’t replace a life, money could never fill the hole not having a love one caused. He knew he could help but they would all still suffer because of this. When he was done he changed into a pair of pajama pants then settled into bed, longing for Rajin to come hold him.

Caine woke the next morning to the sound of his alarm going off. He hadn’t remembered falling asleep. Rajin shifted next to him, his arms tightening around him, his nose brushing the back of his neck so Caine got goosebumps. Caine reached over and switched off his alarm then turned so he was facing Rajin. “Good morning baby.” Rajin said, smiling lovingly at him. “Ready to get up?”

“Not really, but I know I have too. Those people deserve something for their pain.”

Rajin pressed a kiss to his lips. “It’s going to be okay.”

“I hope so.”

“It will and I’ll be right there.” He kissed him again. “Come on, we don’t want to miss our flight.”

“Okay, I love you Rajin.”

“I love you too.”

They got out of bed and took a quick shower together, Caine’s mind on his father and his victims the whole time. Rajin decided to drive, not wanting him distracted, but held his hand as they headed for the airport. He brushed light kissed to his fingers, letting him know he was still there if he needed to talk and was happy when he received a small smile from his mate.

Emotional exhaustion had Caine asleep about half an hour into their flight. Rajin asked for a blanket, happy when he quickly received one so he could cover him up. Rajin didn’t disturb him until the plane was descending “baby, we’re going to land soon” he said softly and Caine was instantly up “Oh, I’m sorry”

“for what?”

“Making you sit through the entire flight alone”

“I brought my ipod, I was fine, besides, if you need rest you need rest” Soon after getting their luggage back they found the driver that would take them to where they were staying and the car Caine rented. They checked in and dropped off their bags so they could leave for the hospital. Caine didn’t want to waste any time. He would arrange with the hospital to have all the debts the survivors incurred while healing taken out of his account then he’d face them, in hopes there was anything more he could do and then, then he’d deal with the harder part of dealing with family of the ones that died.

Rajin held Caine’s hand as they waited to talk to one of the women in billing. He could heard his mate’s heart thundering in his chest, could see the anger and sorrow in his eyes even as he forced himself not to show it. He knew what must be going through Caine’s head, that this was somehow partially his fault, that he should have done more. He couldn’t help but pull him into his arms and Caine immediately rested his head on Rajin’s shoulder, still exhausted. “How am I going to look into their faces?” He asked softly. “What am I going to say?”

“I don’t baby, but we’ll give them all of our support.”

“I still have to go have his body taken care of. I have no idea what he wanted done with it.”

“Maybe bury him next to your mother?”

“How can I after what he did to her? Wouldn’t that be like spitting on her grave?”

“Caine.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just so angry, I hate him.”

“I know, but maybe he wasn’t always a bastard. Your mother married him for a reason. I’m not saying it gives him a pass, he doesn’t deserve one, but maybe it’s what she would have wanted before things took a turn.” He gave Caine a gentle squeeze. “We’ll worry about that later, okay?”

“Yeah, okay.”

Once they explained the situation the woman helped Caine set things up for the families so they wouldn’t see a bill then she called someone in to guide them to the families since Caine wanted to tell them how sorry he was for what his father had done. No child picked their parents and he sure hoped his mother hadn’t actually picked someone so selfish and horrible to be his father but he still felt responsible for the lump of nothing that he shared DNA with. Caine had prepared himself emotionally for if they were angry with him but all the families he saw actually thanked him for taking care of things financially and some even assured him that none of this was his fault, uttering the same thing he already knew, nobody chooses their parents.

The hospital trip took most the day and they still hadn’t eaten so Rajin insisted they stop somewhere. Caine still didn’t even feel hungry but once again he ate for Rajin, not wanting to worry the man he loved. “are we still going to see the family of the dead today?”

“Yeah, I don’t want them to stress any longer than they have to about the financial side of this”

“You look so emotionally drained already though. Are you sure you don’t want to rest with me in our room and get at this again tomorrow”

“I can’t, my father….he took precious lives, lives of probably amazing people…I need to go to them. I can rest later”

Caine sat quietly staring out the car window once they were back on the road, his mind far away as he thought of what to say and prepared himself for the family’s reaction to his presence. After this he would have to go to the morgue to claim his father’s body, not something he was looking forward too, but he wouldn’t force the city to bury him. “Tell me what’s on your mind.” Rajin said and Caine sighed.

“Everything, how much I wish it had just been him. How horrible is that…wishing someone dead? I keep thinking why couldn’t he just…and those children, how scared they must have been. It’s not fair that he cut their lives so short.”

“I know, baby, it’s cruel.”

Caine swallowed the lump forming in his throat. “Sometimes it terrifies me that he and I are related. What if I change? What if I hurt you or someone else?”

“You won’t.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do, Caine. You have lived your whole life refusing to be him, you’re intelligent and funny and you have the biggest heart. I couldn’t ask for a better mate. You are everything he wasn’t and more.”

“It doesn’t help I look like him.”

“Maybe when he was younger, but drugs and alcohol took their toll on his body and besides, who cares if you look like him, you’re hot.”

Caine was unable to stop the smile that pulled at his lips. He couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have someone like Rajin there to help him through this. He wanted so much to break down, but Rajin held him together. “You dork.”

“At least I got you to smile.”

“Yeah.”

Chapter Two

They pulled up at the address they had found for the mothers parents and knocked. A man that looked to be in his thirties answered the door, an obvious emotional wreck. Caine spoke “is this Ed and Lane Harner’s home?”

“Yes, I’m their son, brother of the deceased. I know you mean well coming to wish your condolences but I don’t know if they can see anybody else today. If you have a gift or something I’ll take it for them”

‘They don’t have to see me…I’m…well I’m Caine Okada…I know my money can’t help the hurt my father has caused your family but I’ve come to offer to pay for everything you want to bury your sister and her family. You can bury them in anything, anywhere and I’ll pay the entire bill. It’s the least I can do for what my father has done and truly…anything else I can do to help I want to…I’m…I’m so sorry he did this.”

“That…that low life was related to the famous inventor. I barely freaking believe it. He was a nuisance to this town for as long as I can remember”

“I know…as soon as I was old enough I left and never came back. I don’t even know how he could afford his drinking habit once I left. He had been using my money since I was eleven. He quit his job as soon as I became successful”

“I’m sorry you ever had to live with him. Come in, sit on the couch, I’ll get my family”

Caine was nervous as they waited and stood as soon as Ed and Lane came into the living room. “I’m sorry to intrude.”

“It’s quite alright, please sit.” Ed said as he and Lane took seats across from them. “Our son told us who you were and we’re grateful you would come by.”

“I just want to help, I know there’s nothing I can really say or do that will ease your pain, but if you would allow me to pay for any expenses you have incurred and to do anything else you need me too.”

“You really don’t have too.” Lane said.

“Please, it’s the least I can do. Sorry if I sound pushy.”

“No, not at all. If you really want to then we would love the help.”

He felt relief that they’d allow him to do something to ease the guilt and pain he had over all this. He could go to sleep tonight and forever on knowing he at least helped on the financial side of what his father had done. They spent a few hours with the family, discussing their daughters life and then what they needed financially so far to cover the costs they were looking at “well…I have to go deal with his body now…if I don’t make myself do it right away I might not have the stomach to” Caine said, mostly looking at the floor “we’re sorry for your loss too. Knowing him he couldn’t have been much of a father but the loss of a parent is still a loss. I hope he was proud of you, he should have been. You’re obviously an incredibly giving person coming here like this”

“Thank you” it was all he could think to say before he left with Rajin.

Caine felt cold when they arrived at the morgue, that all too familiar sense of unfeeling coming over him when he was standing in the room next to the covered body. When the coroner pulled back the sheet he felt a small wrenching in his chest. Why did it hurt seeing him like this? Shouldn’t this have been freeing for him? He swallowed, feeling sad and angry at the empty shell in front of him. “Yeah that’s definitely him.”

The coroner nodded and covered him back up. “Would you like me to recommend a couple of places?”

“Sure, thank you.”

“I’ll give you a few minutes while I get the information for you.”

“Thanks.”

Rajin pulled him into his arms and Caine rested his head on his mate’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know how to feel. I don’t know if I should cry or scream or both. I hate him so why do I feel anything at all for him.”

“Because even though he was a complete bastard, he was still your dad.” Rajin pulled back. “It’s okay to feel sad.”

“I know, thank you for being here.”

“Of course, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

While he looked through the pamphlet he thought of what Rajin suggested, burying him next to his mother but he still couldn’t get past that he was the reason she was dead. Could it ever be right to bury a murderer next to his victim. She hadn’t left him but she may have if she had more time. Who knows if he had ever beat her THAT badly before but she went into labor with him from the stress the next morning so there hadn’t been much time to make decisions. In the end he couldn’t do it, he didn’t deserve to be buried near her. Not after everything he had grown up hearing about his mom. She had been too wonderful for him in life and was too wonderful for him in death so he picked somewhere nice since this was his dad but it was nowhere near his mom.

When they headed back to their room Rajin said “let me massage you baby”

“thank you”

“I know today was a nightmare for you. I’ll keep doing it until you fall asleep okay”

“I have to ask though, you said I should bury him next to my mom” Rajin cut him off “He was a deplorable man, absolutely disgusting and selfish. I understand your decision and we can never know what she wanted so maybe she wouldn’t want the man who abused her then used and abused you near her for eternity in the ground. Don’t think I think you made a bad call, it was yours to make and I understand just how terrible of a man he was”

Caine hugged him, glad to hear that. “come on, let me massage you so you can sleep my love”

Caine slept hard that night, so exhausted from everything that he fell asleep half way through Rajin massaging him. Rajin made sure he was covered up and comfortable before snuggling up to him and slipping into sleep himself. When they woke the next morning, Rajin suggested they get breakfast. Caine took him to a diner he used to go to when he was a boy, mostly with his father, but he couldn’t deny how good the food was. He was surprised to see the familiar face of one of the waitresses as they entered and sat down. She also seemed to recognize him when she came up, her eyes widening and a smile pulling at her lips. “Caine? My goodness.”

“Hey Yvette.”

“And who is this?”

“My husband, Rajin.”

“Well it’s nice to meet you then.” She turned back to Caine, her eyes turning slightly sad. “I am so sorry about what happened sweetie. If you need anything just let me know, okay?”

“Breakfast would be great.”

“Same as always?”

“Yeah, but coffee instead of milk.”

“And what about you hon?” Yvette asked Rajin.

“Same as Caine, ma’am.”

She smiled at Rajin then walked back to the kitchen to pour their drinks. “How much longer would you like to stay my love?” Rajin asked once she was gone “at least through the funeral service. I want to be sure that family doesn’t pay a penny.”

“Well, I know we don’t come here because of all the bad memories with your father but maybe we can make some good ones at your favorite spots, like this one”

“They do have some amazing food, it’ll be better eating it with someone who will talk to me about more than women he’s sleeping with or hurrying up with another invention or criticizing something about me” Rajin took his hand, wanting to tell him how sorry he was about his childhood again but deciding not to be a broken record. His mate knew so he’d just hold his hand to give him strength. “so I guess I can start with the stuff that’s nearest here and work my way out to show you everything I liked doing”

“good, I can’t wait”

Rajin was amazed at how delicious breakfast was and it took him a moment to realize it reminded him of the way Caine cooked their’s at home. “Did you learn how to cook by spending time here?”

“Well, just the eggs. I remember sneaking off to come here alone sometimes. I would nag the cook until he told me how he made his eggs so good. He told me the secret is lots of butter and a little bacon grease, not that my dad noticed, but it was fine. Kind of felt like my little secret.”

“I should thank the cook then.”

“He’s a nice guy, a bit rough around the edges, but he took the time to show me how to do something so simple.”

When their waitress came back Caine asked if the cook could come out for a second to meet Rajin. She hurried back and soon came out with him “wow, you’ve grown so much Caine. It’s good to see you” he glanced over at Rajin “and this is your husband, it’s nice to meet you” the cook offered his hand and Rajin shook it “thanks for teaching him to cook eggs. I love them at home”

“He was persistent and a lot of us felt bad for him back then. I don’t know how that man managed to keep Caine, so many of us called protective services on him”

“You never know, the system doesn’t always work” He may have added “but I come from a family who often fix’s things the law wont take care of” if this man weren’t human. It wasn’t always wise to brag about his family work to beings that may not understand you couldn’t always just go with whatever the law did. The law was too easily swayed by money, sex and other things it shouldn’t be swayed by. No doubt after Caine finally invented something he was using Caines own money to keep the authorities from taking him away.

“Do you know when you’ll be having the service?”

“End of the week.” Caine replied. “I have to pick up a suit for him and go through his house.”

“Yvette and I will be coming.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“Sure we do, not for him, but for you and if you need help with the house, let us know. I have a truck.”

“Thank you, really, but I think I’m just going to grab any pictures he has, especially of mom.”

“Alright, but remember, it’s no trouble.”

Caine nodded and they got back to work while he and Rajin finished breakfast. “Ready for me to show you around?” Caine asked once they’d cleaned their plates. “Maybe get you in some trouble.”

“You? Trouble? I don’t even think that’s possible.”

“Hey, you met me because I liked to travel to haunted places and blog about it”

“True, you’re just so sweet”

“Maybe to unwind after this we can find another haunted place”

“anything you want Caine. Do you have a specific location in mind?”

“Not yet, I only just thought of it”

“It might feel good to help a spirit move on or rid a place of a demon after all this”

“Yeah, thats what I was thinking. I love the feeling of doing either of those things, knowing we left some place better than we found it”

“You know you’re doing that today, by helping all these people”

“It’s not the same knowing my father caused all this pain”

“I disagree. You’re helping people heal and even though they can never completely move on, after awhile they’ll find some sort of peace. I don’t think you see what your presence in this situation has done for these families. They won’t have to worry about bills or anything, they can focus on healing and grieving instead of stressing over not having enough money.”

Caine swallowed, hating that he felt like crying. “You’re really amazing.”

“I know.”

Caine let out a chuckle as they headed out. He took Rajin to an old, abandoned mill. There were warning and no trespassing signs everywhere so he pulled his car onto an unused service road behind it. Rajin smiled as they climbed the fence, loving that exploring places like this seemed to ease the worry that had been plaguing his mate.

Caine thought he’d spend the week completely miserable but Rajin managed to make all of this fun. By the time the service came he had countless good memories in a place he only thought on in despair before. Better yet, though it still tugged at his heart a little because this was his father it was all truly over. No longer would an undeserving drunk call him only because he wanted something and no longer would this town have to deal with him in general. There would always be drunks and there would always be new abusers but his father had been one of the worst. He wished deeply in his heart the families his dad hurt would heal quickly and he hoped the family of the deceased would call on him again for anything because as far as Caine was concerned he owed them for the rest of his life. If he ever saw a way to help them in the future he would make sure to do it.

~ The End

Wolfric & Merle 2

Chapter One

Their plane finally landed and Wolfric couldn’t wait to get off. They were in Rutherford, California to tour their wedding location. They both agreed they wanted this place but they wanted to tour before Merle put any money down on it. The pictures they had seen online were nothing short of stunning so Wolfric could only imagine how it would look in person. Merle smiled, his heart warm with happiness and love as he looked at his mate. Wolfric blushed “what?”

“I just enjoy seeing you so happy. I hope Beaulieu Garden is everything you’re hoping it will be. It did look gorgeous in pictures and in the videos we saw of it”

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight with our appointment so early in the morning”

“theres much more enjoyable things than sleeping we can do in our suite tonight if you do not wish to sleep” Merle’s tone was suggestive and much too loud for Wolfric. Merle never seemed to care who heard them, even when talking about stuff like that. His red face made Merle chuckle. He leaned over to kiss Wolfrics forehead then said “I love you so much”

“I…I love you too.”

They sat in their seats, both of them even more excited when they were told to disembark. Wolfric was impatient as they made their way through the airport to where their car was waiting. Merle had made sure they wouldn’t have to take a taxi anywhere so they could move freely. He could easily afford them, but he wanted them to be able to take their time. As soon as they were loaded into the car, he punched the address for the Harvest Inn into the GPS and pulled out of the parking space.

“How long will it take to get there?” Wolfric asked.

“Not long baby, patience. We’ll be checked in before you know it then we can get something to eat and relax.”

“are we getting room service or going out?”

“room service, I want to eat then instantly be able to cuddle you. Then of course if you truly can’t sleep I have other plans” his eyes as he quickly glanced over to Wolfric said everything Merle wanted to do and it had Wolfrics heart pounding. Merle smiled triumphantly, happy he could still get his mates heart racing without even touching him. He hoped Wolfric didn’t change his mind about the location because he was immensely eager to marry him. They were mates but Wolfric wasn’t a wolf like him and he wanted it to be clear to everyone in their life that Wolfric was his.

Merle continued to flirt, even as they checked in, staying true to the fact nothing embarrassed Merle. Once they had their room keys he swept Wolfric off his feet and kissed him right there in the lobby before taking him to their suite. “Merle” He chuckled at his adorable mate “what? You know I can’t help it. I love you” Wolfric could only imagine how he was going to be once they were alone together. He was always affectionate but he was more so since they started planning their wedding.

They unpacked their belongings then looked over the menu in their room “Hm, I can’t decide what I want. Would you like to just order a few things with me and we’ll share it all?”

“that sounds good” Merle kissed his head, probably the hundredth time he had been kissed by Merle since they got on the plane.

Merle sat with Wolfric on his lap while they waited, kissing and nibbling at his neck, teasing him until their food arrived and Wolfric could only sit there and blush. Wolfric blushed the entire time they ate as Merle flirted with him and it was made all the more embarrassing when when Merle insisted on feeding him dessert and kissing him every other bite. “Merle, come on.” He said, his face bright red.

“But it tastes so much better from your lips. It makes me want to eat you up even more.” He dipped his finger into the semifreddo and pushed it passed Wolfric’s lips, chuckling when he heard his mate’s heart stutter.

He couldn’t resist him a second longer and wound up slipping his hands under Wolfrics shirt, feeling his sides then letting his hands explore his chest. When he could feel his once soft nipples become hard Merle began to gently tug at them, playing with his mates chest until Wolfric stuttered out “Mm Merle…do don’t you want to finish eating?”

“I need you” He pushed Wolfrics shirt over his head and tossed it to the floor, his mouth now finding his chest so his tongue could explore it. Wolfric whined, his breath shuddering every now and then, especially as Merle began to nibble at his sides, holding tightly to his hips as he did so. Wolfric slid his hands into Merles hair, locing the feel of it and knowing at this point Merle liked it. Next thing Wolfric knew Merle was eagerly undoing his pants “we just had a long plane ride..I…I shouldn’t shower first”

“You taste amazing” his hot breath and how lustful he sounded had more goosebumps forming on Wolfric. Soon Merle was licking and biting the most tender places on his legs as Wolfric laid back, already letting out little moans. When Merle moved, most likely to get lubricant Wolfric took his chance to push Merle down on the bed. Merle smiled, seeming more amused by his mate than anything else though the lust was still heavy in his eyes. Wolfric didn’t often push him down like this but it was endearing and fun when he did. His mate was still so nervous when it came to making love but slowly, over time he was getting more and more comfortable.

He of course was dominant by nature and enjoyed pinning his mate down but he hoped that it wouldn’t be long before Wolfric didn’t feel nervous about anything when they made love since he was better than he obviously thought at it. He had Merle moaning deeply even before he took his length in his mouth. Through a particularly deep moan from how amazing Wolfric was at working him with his mouth he said “sixty nine baby, I want you too”Wolfric slid Merles length out of his mouth slowly then moved so they could both take eachother at the same time.

Wolfric was the first to release, his body shaking and fingers gripping the covers as he flowed down Merle’s throat. He whimpered then jumped when Merle bit his inner thigh, letting out a growl as he drew closer to his own release. His hip bucked, his fingers tangling in Wolfric’s hair as he came. “Move forward baby.” He ordered gently and Wolfric slid himself up so he was straddling Merle’s hips and Merle could sit up. Merle retrieved the lube and dripped some on his fingers, warming it before gently pressing into Wolfric to loosen him.

“Merle, please, I can’t.” Merle rubbed more on himself then pulled Wolfric down onto him, filling him in one hard thrust. Wolfric’s loud cry excited Merle beyond reason and he held tightly to his hips as he lifted and lowered him.

“I love you Wolfric, my mate, my life, I love you.”

“Me too, I love you.”

When Merle released again he carried his mate to the shower where Merle just held him under the running water. “You truly are my life Wolfric” Merle said softly “I’m so happy we’re getting married” They soon began to wash then went to bed as they were. Merle loved cuddling at night and he preferred to be skin to skin with his mate. In the morning Merle was wearing that amused grin again when Wolfric woke to the alarm “what?”

“Your hair…” he chuckled a little. When Wolfric finally saw it in the mirror he blushed at how crazy it looked from sleeping with it wet. “why do you never have these problems?” he asked as he started trying to fix it. Merle chuckled again, now going to grab the clothes he wanted to wear today. Once they were both ready they walked out to the car and drove over to where they would be married and met with a cheerful woman in a suit. She was only a little shorter than Wolfric and her blue eyes were framed behind small, purple glasses. “Good morning, which one of you is Wolfric and which one of you is Merle?”

“I’m Merle and this is my mate Wolfric”

“It’s nice to meet you both, please, follow me”

The look of wide eyed amazement on Wolfric’s face had Merle chuckling. He was so adorable and he couldn’t help but pull him close and kiss his cheek. “Stop, I can’t help it, this place is so much more amazing in person.” Wolfric said with a blush. “I mean look at that vineyard, it’s gorgeous. I want pictures of us there.”

“Whatever you want baby.” Merle replied.

“You always say that.”

“What can I say, I love spoiling you. I’d throw my entire fortune away if it was for something that made you happy.”

“You two are just to cute.”

“Yes he is.” Merle said with a big smile.

They continued touring the place, Wolfric unable to contain his joy. “I love it so much.”

Having confirmation from his mate that this was the perfect place he arranged payment with the woman who then began talking to them about different options they had and gave them lists of the best photographers and anything else they would need for their wedding. “thank you so much”

“You’re welcome, I’d really go with these lists but of course you can have anybody. Its just these people can be counted on and have always done amazing jobs”

“I’ll look into them with Wolfric. For now I think we’ll just continue enjoying this place. Is there anything else fun I can take my fiance to while we’re here’

“Oh yeah, personally the heart shaped waterfall not too far is very romantic. My own husband took me there on one of our first dates. Then there are a few winery’s if you two would be interested in that. I’m telling you, if you ask google you will find a lot of stuff to do around here if you plan to stay a bit. I know you two had to fly in for this”

“We’ll be sure to look into a few places.” Merle said. “What do you think, Wolfric, maybe visit a few wineries, have a few drinks.”

Wolfric blushed at his change in tone. It was the way his voice was pitched. “Y…yeah, sounds good.”

“Alright, I’ll leave you two to it then, but if you have any questions at all please call me.” She said with a big, warm smile.

“Thank you.” Merle laced his fingers through Wolfric’s and gently pulled him away. “How about we check out the vineyard again then we can go act like a couple of tourists for awhile.”

“Okay, but you have to be good.”

Merle chuckled. “I’m always good.”

“I mean, at least while we’re in front of others.”

“Alright, my love, I can do that.”

Chapter Two

As they walked around Wolfrics mind kept jumping to different things for their wedding. He’d imagine where he wanted certain things and where the tables would go for their reception and where the best places were for different pictures. Merle just watched happily, loving how enthusiastic his mate was about all of this. They stayed a few more hours before heading away to eat somewhere. They picked the Simona Cafe based on reviews and weren’t disappointed in the least. The food was incredible and the staff were friendly. Merle left their waitress a good tip before they decided to rest a bit in their suite as they figured out what precisely they wanted to do next.

“Merle look, hot air balloon rides. Can we go?” Wolfric asked excitedly as he looked up tourist places on his phone.

Merle chuckled. “You don’t have to ask baby, if you want to go then we’ll go.”

Wolfric blushed. “It’s just, I don’t want to make you do something you hate.”

“Wolfric, my mate, my love, light of my life, there is nothing I could ever hate that you would want to do. You want a hot air balloon ride? Then we’ll go on one.” He leaned in and kissed him, grinning at how warm he was. “Too bad we won’t be alone up there.”

“Merle, be good.”

“You said I only had to be if we were in public.”

Wolfric grew even hotter and Merle chuckled happily again “don’t worry my love, I’ll wait until we are in our room again. I just adore seeing that red face when I tease you’ he left a meaningful silence then said “but I would gladly make love to you anywhere you’d let me” His voice had become the low, alluring tone that so easily seduced him when they were home. Merle got the number for the place from Wolfric and called to arrange a balloon ride for them. When he hungup Merle said “sadly we called a bit too late for something to be arranged today but we are scheduled for the morning. It’s pretty early so we might want to turn in before long but if there’s anything else you’d like to do today we’ll do it”

“could we just walk around and then maybe we could have dinner and then just go in our room and look over this list of people our venue trusts”

“riiight, go back to our room and look over lists” Wolfric blushed and Merle laughed again.

Wolfric was amazed at just how many wineries there really were around there, but even so he was fascinated by them. “If I wasn’t a dentist, I think I could definitely run a winery.” He said.

“Why don’t we?”

“Because I have work.”

Merle shrugged. “I don’t. You work and I’ll set everything up. Just tell me when you’re ready to begin and I’ll find the land.”

“Merle.”

“Yes my love?”

“You really don’t have to give me something just because I say I want it.”

“Why not? It makes you happy and besides, you know I love learning new things. We could learn how to make wine and create our own brand.”

Wolfric had to admit that sounded amazing and Merle seemed truly happy to start something like this with him “I guess we should start thinking of names for ourselves”

“as long as it doesn’t distract you from planning our wedding. Maybe we should actually hire one of those wedding planners to keep us on course” Wolfric softly smiled “you’re really sweet”

“I’m really happy Wolfric. I had no idea life could be this wonderful. I’m grateful every day that I found you and sometimes I still curse myself for not visiting my old friend sooner” Merle pulled him closer then gently began moving his lips against Wolfrics.

They continued exploring until they knew they needed to eat. Merle let Wolfric pick and they wound up going to a place called Rutherford Grill. Everything on the menu looked delicious and Merle couldn’t help but chuckle at how conflicted Wolfric looked. “Oh stop, I just want everything, but I wouldn’t be able to eat everything.”

“I mean we could always take it back to our room. We’ll probably need something to eat after we work it all off.”

“Merle, shush.” Wolfric glanced around, his face bright red.

“Sorry my love, I just can’t help myself.” He looked at the menu. “How about we both order something different and just share it all. I want the tri-tip and enchilada.”

“Alright, then I guess I’ll get the hickory burger with a big order of fries.”

When their alarm sounded early the next morning Wolfric was exhausted and even Merle was a tiny bit worn out from their passionate love making last night but they got up anyway and washed each other in the shower before getting dressed and heading out to the location they would begin their ride from. It baffled Merle they needed to be out here so insanely early but his mate had informed him balloons could only be flown at specific points in the day due to how they got the balloons in the air. Something about how stable the air was. If they weren’t both such resilient creatures Merle would be tempted to keep his mate safely on the ground but Wolfric seemed thrilled and he wouldn’t ruin this for him by being over protective.

“welcome, the champagne and Thai Fish Cakes are already on board”

“Merle” Wolfric sounded touched as he said his name “of course I was going to have something for our ride.” Merle said then lifted Wolfrics hand to kiss it.

Wolfric stood with his hands on the edge of the basket as takeoff started. It was slow, but he loved how things got smaller and smaller until the people and cars looked like ants and he could see the lines dividing the vineyards and farmland. “So, what do you think?” Merle asked as he wrapped his arms around his mate from behind.

“It’s extraordinary.” He pointed. “It’s like being in a dream.”

“I agree.” He rubbed his nose along the nape of Wolfric’s neck and chuckled when he blushed. It wasn’t like the man piloting could see what he had done, but Wolfric’s reaction was adorable regardless. “How about some champagne my love or maybe fish cakes.”

“I nearly forgot, sorry.”

“Never be sorry, seeing you smile is worth anything.”

The pilot smiled, always enjoying seeing happy couples. The two happily snacked, drank and enjoyed the view. Merle grew more comfortable as Wolfric grew more ebullient about the experience. This had been more than worth the money and people did this all the time, he was sure everything would be fine. Even if they fell he would make sure to somehow prevent Wolfric from getting hurt. He was a massive wolf in his true form after all and to add to that he was larger than most. There wasn’t even many places he could be himself without crushing something or destroying things in other ways, even if he was trying his best not to.

Even when their trip was coming to an end and the pilot was beginning to take them down, Wolfric was still excited. Watch the ground getting closer and closer and things starting to take shape was still amazing. He very nearly leaned too far over the edge, but Merle pulled him close, holding him a little tighter. “Careful love.” He whispered.

“Sorry.” Wolfric blushed in embarrassment and leaned into him. “I just got so distracted.”

“It’s okay, I’ve got you.”

“I know, that’s one of the reasons you’re so perfect.”

They stuck around a few more days and tried a few other things Rutherford, California had to offer before finally heading home. Wolfric needed to get back to his dental practice and Merle wanted to start studying up on how and where he should start their own winery. It was such an exciting prospect, making wines with his mate. With so much happening for them Merle went ahead and hired someone to help them plan the wedding as well now that they had a location and therefore a firm date for their marriage. Everything seemed to be falling into place but to Merle, it had been doing that ever since he laid eyes on Wolfric.

~ The End

Derrick & Mae

Chapter One

Derrick groaned as he lay there in the alley, his entire being a universe of pain. He clenched his stomach, wondering if his ribs were broken. He didn’t fight the waves of agony, he let them come, he deserved it. Sorrow washed over him and he curled up there, shivering and crying like the pathetic weakling he was. He heard the sound of footsteps and wondered if the men who had attacked him had returned to further punish him. He wouldn’t resist them, between the alcohol and his shame, he wanted to hurt. “Oh my god, are you alright?” The voice was soft, the tone gentle and warm. He barely manged to turn his head, his eyes colliding with those of a woman, those hazel orbs sparkling with concern and shock. “Who did this?” She asked as she reached out to brush his hair from his face.

“Go away.” He said, his voice hoarse.

“You don’t mean that.” She gently pulled him into a sitting position. “Let me help you.”

“No, just leave me.” He couldn’t have another beautiful woman near him, not after what had happened. She would get hurt too. “Just go, I’m fine.” He pushed her hands away and then started slowly to his feet. He stumbled and she grabbed him, pulling his arm over her shoulders. “Are you stupid or something, you need to leave me here.”

“Hush, no more of that. You can’t just lay out here, it’s getting cold and it’s going to rain.”

“Who cares.”

“I do.” She pulled him out of the alley and in his half drunk, beaten state he couldn’t resist her. “I’m Mae, what’s your name?”

“It doesn’t matter.” His legs gave out and she pulled him back up.

“Hey, no passing out until I get you in my car, okay?”

Her words made him determined to get there so he managed to walk with her aid the rest of the way. He still felt no better than the garbage people tossed in the dump, but this was another kind, incredibly beautiful woman and he was going to follow a simple request, especially since she was so insistent on helping him. He was surprised when she even took the time to strap him in. “Is it comfortable?”

“It’s fine.” Sometimes her belt locked on people pretty tight so she hoped he would have told her if it was hurting him. She was beyond grateful she actually had her car today. She had only brought it because the weather threatened hail today. It hadn’t come, but it turned out she needed her car anyway. Next thing he knew she was unbuckling him. “Where are we?” He asked and she answered, “The hospital.”

“I’m half vampire, I’ll be okay.”

“I don’t care what you are. I’m going to get you sobered up and tend to you.”

“You really shouldn’t help me. I don’t deserve it.”

“Everybody deserves care when they are hurt. I firmly believe that.”

Derrick had never known someone so stubborn. Her eyes were filled with compassion and determination and he had a feeling that if he refused to cooperate, she would drag him. The security guard at the front looked a little concerned when she walked in with him and she gave him a smile that told him everything was fine. “Don’t we have to fill out paperwork first?” He asked.

“I will once I have you in a room.” She said.

“Mae?” One of the emergency doctors said when he came out and saw her with Derrick. “Whoa, what happened?”

“I have no idea, but can you get a room set up for me?”

“Of course.”

“Thank you, Reed.”

Derrick was a little surprised at how smoothly that had gone and couldn’t resist asking, “What are you some kind of super hero?”

She laughed. “I’m a nurse, I work here.”

He couldn’t understand why the world would send a nurse his way. He didn’t deserve such care at all and even as drunk as he was all he could think about was repaying her somehow for wasting her time on a man like him, a man who hadn’t been there for someone else. Reed had a room ready quickly so she took him in and helped him lay down. “Please don’t waste supplies on me.” He tried again, but she just left and came back with paperwork.

“So, what’s your full name?”

“Derrick Rankin.” He answered, deciding he may as well just give her the information she wanted. He could tell she was stubborn enough to keep him in here all evening if that’s what it took.

“Age?”

“Thirty-three.”

She smiled. “Thank you for not being mysterious. A lot of vampires like to get cute when you ask that.”

“I know my match when I’ve met it. I’ll answer you honestly.”

“Still, I appreciate it. So, since you’re a half vampire, I’m guessing no allergies?” He shook his head. “No medical conditions I should know about?”

“No.”

“Insurance?”

“Don’t have it.”

“How about your address and phone number?” He rattled them off for her and she quickly wrote it down. “Okay. Now, how about you tell me what happened.”

“I was attacked.”

“By who?”

He shrugged. “Just some guys, I didn’t catch their names or really see their faces.”

“Should I call the cops?”

“No, don’t bother, there’s no point. I’m already healing and they’re probably long gone.”

She frowned and he looked away from her. He didn’t want her pity. “How much have you had to drink?” He shrugged and she sat the clipboard down and reached over, gently grabbing his chin and turning his head so he was looking into her eyes. “It’s okay, I won’t judge. You have a reason, especially when you’re drunk, banged up and didn’t want me helping you.” She gave him a warm smile that lit up her face and made his heart stutter. “Just a few more questions okay and then I’ll let Reed look you over while I clean your wounds.”

“They’re pretty much healed.”

“Then I’ll clean up the blood and make sure you make it home.”

“I promise you, you shouldn’t care so much about me.”

“You can say that to me as much as you like, but I’m going to care anyway. Something terrible has obviously happened to you. I’m so sorry for whatever it is, but you’re obviously a good man to let it burden you this much. Whatever happened, you deserve forgiveness, I’m sure of it.” He somehow managed to move his face in such a way that made him look even sadder. She went back to asking him the questions on the sheet, wishing he’d talk to her about whatever was burdening his heart. When she called Reed in she left briefly to get what she needed to clean the blood off of him. His body had almost completely healed itself, but she was looking for anything to keep him there longer.

“Nothing seems broken and it looks like any bruises or abrasions you had healed up nicely, not that I’m surprised.” Reed said as he finished his examination.

“See? I told you I’d be fine.”

“Physically maybe.” Mae said as she finished cleaning his face.

Reed sighed. “Well, you can go home if you feel up to it or you can spend the night here.”

Derrick waved him off. “I’m sure there’s someone else who needs this room.” He hopped down off the table and nearly fell over, but Mae grabbed onto him, steadying him.

“Still drunk.” She said.

“You should take him home, Mae.”

“I can make it on my own.” Derrick protested. He didn’t want to further burden her.

“Hush now, let me help you, Derrick.” Her sincerity and compassion were almost too much for him to bear. Why did he have to meet her? He couldn’t help but think of what might have happened if those men had returned while she was aiding him. What if they had attacked her? What if they had done worse? “Thanks Reed, really. I’ll get him home and then I’m going to crash.”

“No problem, just be careful, give Arges my love.”

“Who is Arges?” Derrick asked as he buckled his seat belt once they were back in her car.

“My dog”

“Any kind or a mix?”

“He’s a newfoundland, poor thing only has one eye. He was like that when I adopted him.”

“You’re a nurse, you helped and you have a rescue for a dog, maybe you are a super hero.”

“I try, the world is so ugly and full of hurting people. I want to help as many as I can. Anyway, you need to tell me how to get to where you live.” He gave her directions then sat there silently. Only speaking when they pulled up and she said, “I’m going to help you in.”

“Mae.”

“I’m helping you in Derrick then I promise I’m out of your hair for the evening.”

“Just for the evening?”

Her look turned more meaningful as she said, “You’ve obviously been through something terrible or caused someone else harm that you cared about deeply. I work in a hospital, you kind of get a feel for these things. You obviously push away anybody that attempts to care for you and I’m that stubborn, annoying, pest that’s not going to stop until you open up and realize you’re worth something, regardless of whatever happened.”

He huffed. “Maybe I’ll just lock the doors.”

“You can try, but I just happen to know a few cops and I bet they’d let me in if I told them how scared I was for you.”

“You’d ask cops to break in?”

“Most definitely.”

She slipped out of her seat belt and pushed her door open, getting out and hurrying over to his side when he started to get out on his own. “I can walk.”

“Oh hush, you’re obviously still unsteady.” She helped him to his feet and pulled his arm over her shoulders. “Keys?” He reached into his left pocket and handed them to her.

He hadn’t noticed until now just how strong she was for a human and he wondered if it had to do with being a nurse. He was sure she had had to help lift at least a few heavy people. She got the front door unlocked and he pointed to the stairs. “My room’s up there.”

“Okay, take it slow.”

“Bossy.”

She laughed. “Thank you.”

She helped him to his room then fetched him a glass of water. She may not live there, but cups and the sink generally were easy to find so she went down with confidence and returned with a glass of water. “I’ll be heading home now unless you want me to get you anything else.”

“You’ve done more than you should already.”

“Get some good rest okay? I’ll be over tomorrow after work.”

“There’s really no stopping you?”

“Nope.”

“Then get home safe.” She smiled, thinking again about how sweet he obviously was. She left his home and drove to hers, worrying about him even as she fed her dog. She knew she was going to think about him all day tomorrow too but she wouldn’t let it distract her from her patients. As a nurse she couldn’t afford to have her mind elsewhere when she was in the hospital.

Derrick lay there staring at the ceiling for what seemed like an eternity that night, his heart aching as he sunk into the mattress and his sorrow. As usual his mind drifted to his loss, to the pain and anguish that plagued his every waking moment. Why hadn’t it been him? Why was he still even alive? Could he even die? “Mae would probably just pull me back.” He mumbled to himself. He was surprised that his thoughts had gone straight to her. It was like her warmth and determination had seeped into his subconscious. “Why?” He whispered to himself. “Why didn’t you just leave me?”

“So, how was the patient last night?” Reed asked the next morning when Mae met him in the elevator.

“Fine, I guess. He’s suffering. Thanks for taking care of him for me.”

“It’s no problem.”

“Arges says hi, by the way.”

Reed chuckled. “What a good boy. Ezekiel wanted me to ask you if you’d like to come and have dinner with us some time this week. You can bring the big ball of fluff, I’ll even get him a bone.”

“Are you two going to make me that roast?”

“Sure.”

“Alright, assuming everything goes okay with Derrick, maybe I could bring him too?”

“Oh I see, you save a guy and now you’re in love.”

She punched Reed’s shoulder, causing him to laugh. “Oh hush, I’m just worried about him.”

“Well be careful, he was drunk when you brought him in.”

“I know, but I don’t think he’s the violent type.”

“Still, stay safe.”

 

Chapter Two

“I will.” While her thoughts did venture off to Derrick throughout her day at the hospital she stayed focused when she needed to and went about her day as normal as you could consider a day in the hospital. After work she jogged home like she always did then immediately got in her car to have dinner with Derrick. She wondered how well he looked after himself since most depressed people skipped meals far too frequently. When she arrived and knocked on his door it startled him out of a nap he had been taking. He knew who it was instantly since he hadn’t ordered anything and nobody came to visit him.

“Mae.” There was no indication from his tone if he was happy or not to see her.

“I thought I’d have dinner with you.”

“Why?”

“I said I was going to be a pest didn’t I?”

“That you did, well, I’m not sure what I have to eat.”

“Want to go out or order something then?”

“I guess we could eat somewhere.”

“Sweet Tomatoes?”

“What?”

“It’s the name of a place I was suggesting. They have incredibly good and healthy food.”

“Can’t we just get burgers or something?”

“We could, but you look like you need something healthier.” She looked him over. “That’s the shirt you wore yesterday.”

He sighed. “I know.”

“Alright, that’s it, inside.”

“What?”

“Come on, you’re taking a shower and changing clothes.” She took his hand and pulled him upstairs, leaving him too surprised to say anything until they were standing in his room and she was opening his chest of drawers.

“Hey, wait, I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”

“If that were true you would be half dead in alleys.” She pulled out underwear and socks then a clean t-shirt and a pair of jeans. She turned to him and gave him the clothes, giving him a look that said she wouldn’t be argued with. “Now, go bathe or I’ll undress and wash you myself.” She said with a smile. “Besides, a shower will make you feel better.”

He made a face, one of confusion and a hint of frustration, but he did as he was told, wondering what she’d do in his home while he was busy showering. She seemed to not be shy about going where she pleased. She waited until the water was running to try and figure out where he kept his sheets. Healthy, happy people sometimes wouldn’t change their sheets, depressed people were much worse about it and she didn’t want him laying in dead skin cells and other grossness at night. Not more than the average person at least. She found some stuffed into a closet them seemed clean so she changed his sheets and took his blanket down to the washing machine. Both the washer and dryer were empty so she just stuffed it in, threw a laundry fling into the washer and let it run.

She then went and checked his kitchen. He had a stack of dirty plates in the sink so she popped open the dish washer and put them in, found the soap under the sink and poured some in. She checked his fridge and frowned at how empty it was. She wondered what he had been surviving off of. Maybe he had just made whatever until he had run out of ingredients. There was a jug of expired milk that she disposed of and she made a mental note to take him food shopping. She went into the living room and picked up a little bit and noticed that one of the photos had been turned face down. She lifted it up, surprised to see Derrick smiling back at her and standing next to him a beautiful young woman. He looked so happy, a stark contrast to the way he was now and she was sure the woman had something to do with his depression. She let out a little sigh as she propped it up then decided to go and check on him before she cleaned his entire house. She tapped on his bathroom door and called out, “Are you okay in there?”

“I’m fine.” Derrick called back as he stood there with his forehead pressed against the shower wall and stared down at the water swirling around the drain. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

“You’ll call me if you need me right?”

“Yeah, just give me a minute. You’re not getting into trouble out there are you?”

“Probably.” She called back and he could hear the laughter in her voice. It was light and warm, something it felt like he hadn’t had in an eternity. It caused his heart to skip a beat and he suddenly felt embarrassment creeping in. He knew his house was a mess and she seemed like the type of person to clean it up.

Thinking of this he decided to stop procrastinating in the shower. He washed himself thoroughly then grabbed a towel to dry off. Once dry he dried the floor then dressed himself so they could get going. He noticed right away his blanket was gone and a new sheet was snugly on his mattress. He found her in his living room. “You didn’t have to clean.”

“I know, but you needed it. Your blanket is in the washer if you were wondering.”

“Thanks I guess, but let’s go.”

“Okay.” They went out to her car where he tried again. “Are you sure we can’t get burgers?”

“You’re eating healthy tonight. Maybe tomorrow because yes I’m coming back.”

He nodded, not wanting to argue with her. He wanted to chase her away, but he couldn’t be cruel to her. He followed her outside and into her car, finding himself staring out the passenger window once he was buckled up and she was pulling out. “So, how was worked today?” He finally asked.

“It was good, thank you for asking. How about your day?”

He shrugged. “Same as always. I just…” he sighed, “I just did nothing.”

He sounded so tired and distant and she wound up reaching over and taking his hand. “It’s okay, Derrick, one step at a time.”

“More like ten with you.”

She laughed. “Okay, ten steps at a time then. Either way, I’m going to help you, starting by getting you healthier. You aren’t eating right or sleeping right and going out and getting drunk and beaten isn’t good for you no matter what species you are.”

She let her thumb brush lightly over his skin and he hated to admit the contact felt good, that it helped ease a little of his suffering. He swallowed, still refusing to look at her. He couldn’t cry in front of her, she would just want to get closer and he was terrified of the implications.

When they had their food it proved to not be as terrible as he was expecting. If she was going to make him eat better he was glad some places could actually make that good. “We’re going shopping after this. I saw the inside of your fridge and you need food at home since I can’t come over for every meal. Plus, always eating out with you would be unrealistic.”

“Such a little snoop.” He was surprised at himself for trying to tease her and almost blushed over it. “I wont have time to snoop if you shower daily before I get there.”

“True, I guess that’s one way to make a man keep hygienic.” True to her word the next stop was the grocery store where she specifically bought certain things for recipes she knew by heart so she could cook for him on other nights.

They took the groceries back to his place and put them away, not wanting any of the cold food to spoil. Once everything was put away, Mae asked, “Want to go to the park or something?”

“Not really.”

“Come on, we can go to my place and get Arges.”

He sighed. “I…I don’t know.”

“Come on, please? For me?”

His heart stuttered at the sweet smile she gave him and he felt his face begin to warm. What was wrong with him? She was so hard to say no to. “What would we be doing?”

“Just walking and talking. It’ll be good for you to get out and breathe some fresh air.”

“Alright, of you really want me to.”

“I do. Also, Reed invited Arges and I to dinner this week, want to come?”

He chuckled. “Ten steps at a time like always…sure.” They went out to the car then drove to her place.

Arges was excited to see her and she hugged him. “I missed you buddy!” She stood, finding his leash. “Come on handsome.” Derrick blushed again despite the fact she was obviously talking to her dog. The park wasn’t far so it didn’t take them long to drive over. Mae would have just jogged with Arges, but she wasn’t sure how Derrick would have felt about that and he was already letting her push him quite a bit.

“Are you sure they want me there?” Derrick asked as they walked along a path.

“Yep, I already told them I might invite you.”

“You really seem to have everything covered.”

“Of course, I want to give you a chance to heal.”

He huffed out an unemotional laugh. “How do you know I need healing? Maybe I’m just some loser.”

“I don’t believe that. I can see it in your eyes, how sad and scared you are.”

“Maybe I deserve it.”

Mae reached over and took his hand, surprising him. “Please don’t say things like that, no one deserves to feel pain.” He started to pull away, but she tightened her hold a little.

“Mae.”

“Just let me, you need it, okay?” She smiled warmly up at him and for the first time in what seemed like forever, he felt butterflies.

“Okay, maybe just for awhile.” In truth he didn’t want to let go, he knew he needed her, even if it terrified him. It was hard to pull away from her. He began to wonder what she would think of his failure, of what he had done in retaliation, of how far he had fallen.

He knew she was eventually going to pry into that and he would tell her when that time came. There was no sense hiding it, she needed to know who she was around and maybe when she knew, she’d have the sense to move on and leave him behind. It would hurt, he was already growing attached, but he still felt like he deserved to be punished for eternity for failing his wife. She kept his hand the entire walk, not having to worry much about Arges since he was such a good dog. When Mae dropped him off she didn’t drive away until he was inside which almost made him chuckle. He was half vampire and this woman was merely a human but she was making sure he got safely in the house before she left.

Derrick moved his blanket into the dryer then went ahead and took a shower once he was inside so he wouldn’t get in trouble tomorrow. She had done far too much for him today and he wouldn’t have that again. Mae on the other hand kept thinking about that picture and wished she would have asked at the park. She guessed she was trying to give him a little more time before she tried tugging that out of him. She didn’t want him to pull away from her any harder than he already was.

 

Chapter Three

Derrick ‘s night was restless, he tossed and turned as his thoughts jumbled together. He hadn’t had a drink since meeting Mae so it was hard for him to get to sleep. His negative, depressed thoughts were countered by those of Mae, of her smile, of the warmth she offered, of her stubborness that allowed her to work her way through the wall he had erected around his heart. He knew he should run away, should lock her out, but a part of him wanted more. He let out a sigh of frustration and grabbed his pillow and placed it over his head. He needed to sleep so she wouldn’t be worried. He didn’t realize he had fallen asleep until he woke the next morning to sunlight seeping through his window.

He got up, feeling a little groggy, but at least willing to face the day. He pulled on a pair of sweats and headed into the kitchen, knowing that even if he didn’t want to, he should eat. He put on a pot of coffee then pulled out the bacon and eggs she had bought for him. Mae was helping in pediatrics today, drawing blood and changing seats or taking some of the children for x-rays or CAT scans. There were a few infants being treated for addiction that she took the time to comfort. This was one of the more heartbreaking parts of her job, but she wouldn’t change it for the world.

She wondered how Derrick was this morning, if he had gone of drinking when he was away from her or if he was still asleep. She sent a text to Reed asking him if he could get Derrick’s number for her out of his file so she could check on him. He agreed, teasing her a little by asking when they were getting married and when they would like to come over for dinner. She smiled as she thought of the park and holding his hand, knowing that if Reed had seen that, she would have never heard the end of it. She also suggested they have dinner Saturday since it would give her more time to work with Derrick.

Reed let her know they were good for that day and they quit messaging so she could check on Derrick. She’d try to text him first since she was still working. “Hey, This is Mae Stuart, the annoying nurse. I just wanted to make sure you were alright. Call me if you need to. If I can’t answer I’ll call back when I can. I’m hoping you’re giving up drinking and I know sometimes when urges come it helps to have someone to talk to so you’re not only thinking about your addiction.” She slid her phone in her pocket then went back to her duties around the hospital. There seemed to always be something to do and she didn’t want to stand idly by too long, especially if she needed to accept a call from him today.

Derrick was just watching television, his mind blank and not really consuming what his eye saw. His phone going off pulled him back out of his head. He was surprised to get a text at all but then saw it was from Mae. He liked finally knowing her last name, “Stuart”. He couldn’t help but think of the adorable little mouse Stuart Little. As much as he knew she deserved better thinking she was cute wasn’t something he had any control over. He decided to go ahead and let her know he was fine. “I’m just watching TV.” He resisted the urge to tell her she didn’t have to check in, knowing it might only annoy her and he found himself deeply caring if she was upset.

When Derrick realized Mae’s work day was drawing to an end, he made himself get up and check that he looked presentable. He brushed out his hair, realizing he needed a haircut and even shaved. He felt nervousness creeping in, his heart thumping quickly in his chest as he waited. When he saw her pull up, his heart stuttered and he had to force himself not to meet her at the door. He could see she had Arges and the dog happily followed her to the front porch. When she knocked, he took a deep, steadying breath before going and answering. “Hey, you’re up.” She said with that beautiful, warm smile.

“Yeah, I have been since this morning.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Come in.” He moved out of the way and she let laughed softly as she moved past him and Arges immediately went to investigate. “How was your day?”

“Good, hard. I had to work pediatrics today.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, the kids are always so enthusiastic even when they’re sick. How was your day?” He shrugged and she moved closer and reached up, brushing his hair away from his face. “Did you eat today?”

“Yeah, I knew you’d fuss.” She laughed again and it had his heart tripping over itself. “So what are we doing tonight?”

“I was thinking maybe pizza and a movie?”

“Okay.”

She took his hand, causing goosebumps to cover his skin. “You can say no, it won’t hurt my feelings.”

“No, you’re already here and I…I want you to stay…for dinner and a movie I mean.”

Her smile was once again gentle, even the way she looked at him. She had such a kind, nurturing nature. “Great, where do you like to order pizza from?”

“Papa Johns.”

“What do you normally get?”

“Extra cheese, pepperoni and sausage.”

“That’s perfect for me too.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I normally like mushrooms too but I can live without mushrooms.”

“We can put mushrooms on it.” She giggled and his heart stuttered again

“Okay, I’ll order one.”

“You’ve spent too much money on me already, let me.” Derrick insisted so she let him order while she browsed different streaming services on her phone.

When he was done she asked, “So how do you watch movies?”

“Netflix, Hulu, the normal stuff.”

“Want to rewatch Police Academy?”

“Police Academy?”

“Are you trying to tell me you haven’t seen it?”

“Possibly.”

“Pretty sure that’s a movie sin.”

“Sorry, do you think the god of movies will smite me?”

She cracked a smile. “I think he’ll give you a pass, but just this once.”

“I’ll try to be better about watching movies then.

Derrick switched on the TV, choosing the Netflix icon and then finding Police Academy. They went ahead and got it started and he was surprised when she sat right next to him rather than at the other end of the couch. “Arges, come boy.” She called and the dog came running and settled at her feet. His heart was beating a million miles an hour with her this close and for the first time since their meeting, he noticed just how sweet her scent really was. It was shocking the way his senses seemed to focus on her and he felt heat moving up his neck with embarrassment and shame. Did he even have the right to desire her? To want to selfishly keep her close to him?

He didn’t know those answers so he was glad she wasn’t giving him much of a choice so the guilt wouldn’t overwhelm him. He ended up enjoying the movie, along with the entire evening, but the next night when she came over Mae decided it was time to bring up the picture, to get to the bottom of his pain. “So Derrick, when I was waiting for you to shower the other day I saw that picture on your mantel…who is that?” His heart sank a little in his chest when just moments ago she had him smiling. She hated to see the pain in his face but this was something they needed to discuss.

“She…was my wife.”

“Was?”

He looked away but kept talking. He had told himself he would tell her the truth if it came up and he’d stick to that. “She died a few years ago…some man broke into our home to rob us. He hadn’t known she was still inside, her plans had gotten canceled that day so she ended up home and he killed her…”

“Oh Derrick…I…I’m so sorry.”

He sighed. “And while the topics brought up you should know the other reason why I hate myself.” She hugged him and he let her, feeling he should enjoy it before she was afraid of him. “I tracked him down and I tortured him to punish him for taking her life. I…I had so much hate in my heart. All I could think about was hurting him for taking her away. When I was done dragging him through hell I drained him….I drank his blood until he died…..”

Mae held him a little tighter and he pushed his face in her hair, too scared to look at her. She must be horrified, she must hate him. “I’m so sorry, so…so sorry.” She said softly. “I can’t even begin to imagine what you must have gone through.” She pulled back, taking his face in her hands and gently wiping away the tears he hadn’t even known were there.

“I’m a monster, Mae and a failure.” He choked out.

“Shh, no you’re not. You couldn’t have known what would happen.”

“I killed a man, I…”

She pressed her lips gently into his, making his crying worse and his arms pull her as close as he could. He knew he should push her away, but he needed her. “Hush now okay? It’s alright, no one blames you, I don’t blame you. I have no idea what I would do if the one I loved was killed. I might lose it too.”

“I hate I couldn’t protect her.”

“You can’t be at someones side every second. If you were there, you would have protected her, but you weren’t at the house and it’s nobodies fault besides the man that killed her. He deserved what you did to him. I really do feel that way Derrick, a life for a life. You tortured him, but she must have been so scared. You put him through what he put her through and there’s no shame in that. You’ve never drained anybody else right?”

“No.”

“See, you’re not a monster person or a failure. I think you’re so amazing I feel like I’m falling in love with you Derrick.”

“But…” She gave him another kiss and he hated he was being so emotional. It was so overwhelming talking about what had happened and having her here comforting him, loving him despite the darkness he knew lurked in his soul. “I don’t even know how to be a person anymore.”

“Then we’ll spend every day helping you rediscover what it’s like to live. It’s going to take time and patience, but we’ll get there. Ten steps at a time.”

He let out a little laugh as he wiped the tears from his face. It felt good to get everything out, to have that cathartic release of emotion. “Can you stay here with me tonight?”

“I have Arges at home, but if you want you can come home with me. We have dinner with Reed and Ezekiel tomorrow so it would be easier if we were in the same place.”

 

Final Chapter

“Alright.” Derrick grabbed a bag from under the sink and threw a couple shirts, pajama pants and another pair of jeans inside then they both went over to Mae’s. Feeding him, making sure he had his fill of water then giving him a long walk and treats for being so patient with her visits to Derrick’s. Once her dog was fully taken care of they went to her bedroom.

“If you think you can behave, you can share my bed. I like to go slow, as in you’re really going to upset me if you try to get in my pants.”

“I wouldn’t try anything.” The thought of holding her excited him, he wouldn’t dare ruin the chance to cuddle with her all night.

“Good.” She smiled, happy he seemed okay with that and was glad herself to have someone to sleep with. They both changed, her in the bathroom and him in the living room then joined each other in her bed. He was nervous to pull her close so was relieved when it was Mae who closed the distance between them and laid her head on his chest. “Can you sleep like this or will my head feel too heavy?”

“I’ll sleep better than I have in years like this, please stay as you are Mae.” Shyly he added a question, “May I kiss your head?”

“Mhm, I said no sex, kisses are fine.” He reverently moved to kiss her, taking in her scent as he did it.

“I…I love you Mae.”

She smiled. “I love you too.” She knew it had to be hard for him to say, but she was proud of him for taking that step. She snuggled closer then closed her eyes, allowing herself to drift off.

It took Derrick a little longer to fall asleep. He feared waking up and this being all some cruel, alcohol induced dream. He held her a little tighter, needing the reassurance as he drifted off. The next morning, Mae woke to Derrick spooning her. They had both turned in their sleep, but he had kept her locked to him, his nose pressed into the back of her neck, his warm breath causing goosebumps to crawl over her skin. She tried to move and he let out a little groan as he buried his nose in her hair. She couldn’t help but let out a little giggle and he finally opened his eyes to the sound of her laughter.

He still didn’t let go. “Let me brush my teeth and start breakfast.”

“How can you be ready to move so early?”

“I’ve been getting up early my entire life.”

He couldn’t resist asking even though he felt undeserving. “Just a little while longer.”

“My breath might stink.”

“Your scent is far too wonderful for that to matter.” He sounded so sleepy, but so sincere at the same time. He had her blushing as he tightened his hold a little.

“Alright, a little while longer.” She answered softly. He was once again showing her he wasn’t a monster at all. Just a man in tremendous pain, a man who had done something terrible but just. They laid there for quite some time before she was much more insistent on getting their day started.

Once she came out of the bathroom he asked, “Can I shower?”

“Of course, do you need me to help you figure out things?”

“I’m sure I wont have any trouble, towels under the sink?”

“Yeah.” He got up and hugged her, needing her close again to prove once more he was here.

He did take too long in the shower, wanting to get back to Mae. He blushed when she giggled at how overenthusiastic he was upon coming into the kitchen. “That was fast.” She said. “I barely even had time to start breakfast.”

“I just wanted to be with you.” He ran his fingers through his still damp hair, causing it to spike up in places. “I hope I’m not becoming too clingy.”

“Not at all, it’s actually pretty cute.” She wanted to do everything she could to build up his confidence and lessen his anxiety. Starting a new relationship was probably the biggest step he had taken and she didn’t mind his need to be close to her. “Come here.” She said and he moved closer to her. She took his arms and pulled them around her, making his heart flutter. “There, now I can cook and you can smother me in affection.”

“I’m not in the way?”

“Not at all.”

He smiled, happiness flowing through him as he enjoyed the closeness. He couldn’t get enough of her scent or how good it felt to finally feel like less of a monster. She understood his choices, another being actually understood when he thought he would receive nothing but condemnation for his choices after his wife passed. He was also blessed with a new relationship with an astounding woman way out of his league. She was perfect, he could see that plainly and he was determined to try and become worthy of her and this chance she was giving him. He held her all through making breakfast then gratefully ate with her when it was done.

Mae spent the rest of the day taking him out to different places, wanting him to get out more and breathe in the fresh air. Whatever he needed to live again, she would find a way to provide it. Whether it be a hike through the woods or a therapist, she was willing to give it all. “How are you feeling today?” She asked as they strolled hand in hand through the park.

“Better, happier.” He answered, giving her a warm smile. “I never thought I’d feel that way again. I was drowning before I met you Mae, really and truly drowning. I can never thank you enough for saving me.”

“You saved you, you chose to take those steps.”

“But that’s not true. If not for your stubborness, I think I would have finally given up.”

She stopped and pulled him into a hug when he looked ashamed and he pushed his nose into her hair, just letting her scent take him away. “It’s okay, Derrick, I’m glad I met you when I did.”

“Never leave me, Mae.”

“I won’t, I promise.”

When it came time to head over to Reed’s home she knew they were in for a ton of teasing since Reed had called the relationship before it blossomed, but it would be good natured and she told Derrick just to laugh since he would just be playing. Arges was excited when she let him in the back seat of her car, but when it began to move he laid down like the well behaved dog he was.

“Wow.” Derrick was surprised.

“Yeah, he never gives me much trouble. I can take him anywhere.”

“That’s amazing.”

When they got to Reed’s Derrick was a little surprised when he introduced Ezekiel as his husband. It got a laugh out of Mae that had a blush creeping up his neck. “Did you think he had a thing for me?” She asked as they made themselves at home.

“Well yeah, I mean I was drunk and you two seemed so friendly. I thought Ezekiel was just a friend or something.” Derrick answered, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Don’t worry, it’s not the first time. Mae and I have been good friends for awhile, we even go shopping together sometimes.” Reed said with a smile.

“Still, I apologize for assuming and also for making you take care of me. I won’t be drinking anymore, even if it can’t damage my liver or anything else, I don’t want to worry Mae.”

“A little’s fine, Derrick, just no getting drunk. What if something even worse happened to you.” Mae said.

“Man, I still can’t believe you actually fell for him. I must be some sort of magical matchmaker. Maybe I should test that out next time I’m watching TV.”

“Reed, be good.” Ezekiel said with a chuckle. “You’re going to embarrass him to death.

Dinner with them was over all light spirited and happy. Even though this was the first time he was meeting them Derrick felt like they were already good friends and he was actually looking forward to more dinners over here. They stayed late, to the point Mae was almost nodding off so Reed said, “Make sure you drive Derrick, she’s too tired.”

“I will.” He took her keys and soon they were on the way back to her place to rest for the night.

Mae smiled when he even wanted to carry her inside. “So sweet.” She kissed his cheek and he kissed her lips.

“I want to take care of you too Mae.” As he held her that night he actually felt blissful. He’d never forget his wife, but he had a new start with an amazing woman, a new place, new friends and a better outlook in general. He hoped that if his wife knew what he was still up to in this world she would be happy for him and she herself was happy where ever she had ended up.

~ The End