“It’s strange to see you here Lucas.” Angel crossed her legs. “It’s even stranger to see you here alone. No Xepher?”
“Xepher?” Lucas scrunched up his nose in disgust. “You know relations within the occults have been strained. You leaving didn’t help much. You left the fairies without a leader. They’re the easiest prey to Damian’s attack.”
“They don’t need a leader. If they can’t handle themselves, they don’t deserve to call themselves fairies. The same thing goes to the witches and the werewolves. If they can’t stand up to the vampires, are they really worthy of inhabiting Moonlight Falls?” She pushed some hair behind her ears. “You may want to coddle your little mages or whatever you call them, but I have more important things to worry about. The future is in my hands, and I don’t plan on letting it slip through my fingers.”
“Since when did you become such a bitch?” Lucas turned to her, losing all sense of properness. He hated her so much. She abandoned them. Her leave is what left Damian open to taking over. Lucas and Zepher by themselves couldn’t stop Damian’s massive uprising. She could have helped, he wouldn’t have dared to try anything if the three of them were together.
“Is that how you talk to someone who you want a favor from?” She titled her head and looked at Lucas in disgust.
“I’m not here to talk to you. I’m here to talk to Emit, but someone thinks that she needs to be in everyone’s business all the time. And Xerxes, I eed to have a word with you as well, as Alistair’s guardian and all,” Lucas said.
“Anything you ask them goes through me anyway, so we’re saving you the trouble. If you’re here to ask about turning time back for Alistair, the answer is no. It is not an option. We have garunteed ourselves two potential heirs.”
“Why?” Lucas asked angrily. “He can marry later on and have kids.”
“No, that doesn’t matter. These kids are special. Besides, your grandson signed an agreement with Xerxes, to do as the guardians tell him. So there,” She said.
“What are you going to do? Take him to supernatural court?” Lucas eaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. “That contract means nothing.”
“No Lucas, you mean nothing. You couldn’t even stop Aria from taking your grandson. If you could, he wouldn’t have thought he needed to distort time. But, you never were good at saving your family. How many is it now? Three? Dax, Ethan and now Alistair?”
“My family is none of your damn business!” Lucas roared.
“Hey, everyone calm down,” Emit said.
Xerxes chuckled. “Let them fight, Angel will tear him to shreds.”
“To hell with all of you. I’m just asking if you could help my grandson. He’s a human being, and the ends do not justify the means! When are you going to realize that by interfering you’re doing worse for the Grays!” Lucas reached into his bag and pulle dout the book Alistair had let him read. “Athena did wonderful, because you guys weren’t involved! You had Levi! He did an amazing job, because he left you guys. Noah? He went to jail for ten years! Apollo nearly got killed! Now, look at Alistair! He’s a young man missing out on his life because he has to raise two vampire children! DON’T YOU GET THAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE HELPING? WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU!?” Lucas boomed.
“Do you think you’re going to get anywhere with that kind of tone? Listen to me, and listen to me well, Lucas. You are powerless against us. Know your damn place. You’re losing magic faster than Alistair can speed up time. How much longer do you think it will be until you lose everything? Your focus should be on training Declan. Alistair, is the least of your worries.” She inched closer to the man who stood his guard, flaring his nostrils.
“Are you just going to toss him away now that you have his kids? Is that it?”
“We’ll do as we damn please. Now, it’d be wise for you to leave before I zap you Lucas. Go back home to your perfect little wizarding lifestyle, and mind your damn business!” She roared.
Taking a step back, Lucas glared at her. “Fine, I’ll just go to Mason. He hates you guys, and I’ve really got nothing to lose anymore.”
“Why is it that you care so much?” Xerxes asked. “What are you trying to accomplish? What gain do you get from us turning back time? Alistair is completely safe and healthy. He just has some children now. What’s the big deal?”
“He just graduated high school. He was excited to go to University with his girlfriend, but was told that he couldn’t because he had to come with you here. You told him that he’d be able to find his siblings, but you lied to him. So, Xerxes, I think the real question is why is it that you care so much?”
“Enough,” Emit said. “The timeline for the next generation of Grays is a messy one. It’s because of Alistair’s entire genetic makeup. He wasn’t supposed to exist, and so his timeline was writing itself as he aged, but once he went turned 18 years old, his true path became clear. I know this is hard to believe, but trust me, Alistair needs a vampire in his lineage. It’s a matter of life and death?”
“For who?” Lucas frowned. “For you guys? How is this helping him?”
“I can’t tell you the future. It’s against my jurisdiction, but just know that these forces that are going to be hurled at the next generation are going to be much more powerful than Mason and Damian combined. The Grays need this more than anything.”
“You planted Altiere into his genes,” Lucas said suddenly. “Aria was right. You guys are twisted.”
“You won’t be saying that when your descendants have a nice place to stay in the future! A place that isn’t completely and utterly destroyed!” Angel screeched. “You don’t get it. I’m doing this for all of us. For a better future! I’m sorry that you can’t see that. Remember Lucas, before her, there was me, and you remember how we used to talk about making Moonlight Falls a great place for our kids. Well look now, is it? Did you succeed?”
“Why are you still bringing this up Angel?” Lucas frowned. “It’s been over a century since that happened! Why can’t you leave well enough alone?”
She looked at him, anger and frustration boiling over. “You’re still such a huge diappointment. Get out of my face. Somebody escort him out.”
“Alistair!” Sienna’s piercing screech burned my ear drums.
“Do you have to be so loud? You’re going to wake the babies,” I groaned.
“I’m happy to see you after three years too.” Sienna rolled her eyes and pulled me in for a quick hug. “Where have you been? And did you say babies?”
I ran my fingers through my hair trying to figure out the best way to explain. “Sienna, how long have you been here and where is everyone else?”
“A couple of us have been staying here,” She said quietly. “Now, it’s just me.”
“What do you mean-” I began but she cut me off.
“There really are babies! Is she your wife, Aly?” Sienna looked at Pepper who was cradline one of the children, I think Adeline.
“I’m his imaginary friend, come to life,” Pepper admitted. “Not his wife.”
“Are these your babies?” She asked Pepper.
“No, they’re mine,” I said.
Sienna nearly choked. “Yours!? What??”
“Everything is clear. Now, Sienna please shut your mouth before you alert the whole neighborhood to our whereabout,” Declan said.
“Dec!” She thre herself into her brother’s arms. “What the heck, you guys have been gone for three years!”
“No, actually-” I began but Declan shook his head and cut me off.
“Yeah, sorry about that. We had something that needed our attention. It took a lot longer than expected unfortunately.” What the hell? Was it necessary to lie to her? This was Sienna we were talking about!
“You’re hiding from Damian, aren’t you?” She crossed her arms over her chest. “This is the absolute worst place to be.”
“Si, it’s just for the night. Alistair has to babies with him, we can’t just go anywhere like I would have wanted to. We have no choice. I’m going to keep a high alert for anything suspicious,” He said. “What’s happened here in three years? The house, it’s completely vacant. Where is everything and everyone?”
Now that he had mentioned it, i did notice how desolate this place was. What was once a hangout for my friends and I, turned out to be an empty and lonely place. The walls weren’t torn down or things laundered, no…it was just eerily quiet. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was definitely wrong.
“They’re all gone,” Sienna whispered. “Damian came looking for Alistair, he took down Patrick, Miles and Kat while searching. Hayden and Robin are hiding.”
Sienna looked to Pepper. “Do you think you can hold fort for a few minutes while I talk to the boys?” Pepper only nodded, snuggling Adeline into her arms as if she were her own child.
I impatiently sat down. The whole way down the spiral staircase, Sienna had been tightlipped. What had she meant they were taken down? It didn’t mean, what I thought it meant, right? Collapsing onto the couch I exclaimed, “Tell me what you have to say Sienna.”
“They’re gone,” She repeated. “I don’t know what happened. One day, you, Declan and Lucas disappeared and I called Patrick, Miles and the gang. We looked everywhere for you guys with no luck. FInally one day, Damian comes over and demands we give you up. We told him the truth, that we didn’t know where you were. He didn’t believe us and tried to shoot me but Patrick-” She stopped and wiped the stray tear from her eye. “Patrick jumped in front of the magic blast, and I think he died.”
“What do you mean, you think?” Declan whispered.
“He took their bodies!” She began to shake violently, trying to withold the sobs that were threatening to rack her whole body. “Miles and Kat went willingly and he agreed to let me stay here. He took Patrick’s body with him. RObin and Hayden couldn’t take it so they left right after the incident. I’ve been alone ever since.”
I felt my heart rate quicken. This sounded like a really terrible joke. How could this happen? How could I let this happen? What the hell was wrong with me!? I stood up frantically. “I need to go.”
“Go where?” Declan demanded, eyeing me.
“To Damian!” I practically shouted. “He wants me, right? Then let’s just give me to him. It’ll stop all of this.”
“This won’t stop anything,” Declan growled, now standing in front of me. “The damage has already been done. You throwing your life away isn’t going to help anyone. We need to come up with a plan.”
“A plan?” I shoved his arm off of me. “No plan is going to work. How long until he comes after Pepper, Sienna, Lucas? Even you! I won’t have that. I’m going to Damian.”
“The only place you’re going is upstairs to take care of your children. NOW!” Declan boomed. “You leaving that night was what got you into trouble in the first place.”
I let out a sharp breath, ready to fight when I saw Sienna crumpled on the floor, tears draining from her eyes. “I’ll do it, but not for you. For her.”
“That was uh…explosive,” Pepper whispered.
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that, did I wake them up?” I asked.
“Charlotte’s up, but she usually wakes up in the middle of the night. She’s a vampire, so she likes the night, you know?” She turned to me with a hesitant smile.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked quietly. She gave me a small nod. “Why are you so distant? I understand that we’ve grown apart but Pepper, we were best friends. You just don’t forget a bond like that-”
She held her hand up to silence me. “I don’t care about that. I did that first time we met while I was in this form. But, not anymore. I-” She stopped herself.
“It’s something else?” I asked fearfully. “Is it something I did within those three years? You know I don’t remember any of that, and I wouldn’t be a jerk to you intentionally-”
She placed Charlotte in her crib and turned to me. “I know you didn’t mean it, that’s why it hurts.”
“What do you mean?” I blushed watching her come closer to me.
“I didn’t think that touching lips could make you feel a certain way.” She placed her finger on her upperlip. “You humans feel funny things, right in your tummy. And then, you can’t control your thoughts anymore and you only have that one action on your mind all the time and it makes you feel all different things that a doll could never ever feel!” She covered her mouth realizing her exclamation. “Forget I said anything.”
“Touching lips?” My eyes widened. “Not our lips, right?”
“No,” She mumbled, looking away. But I had known she meant me. It would explain why she was so nervous around me.
“How?” I hadn’t realized that I whispered it out loud. But, that’s all I could think about. How was all of this happening? “Pepper.” I grabbed her arm. “We kissed?”
“I didn’t say that-” She frantically whispered.
“Just tell me, please,” I begged. “I need to know the truth. I need to know what I’m capable of. What I did during those three years was still me. I don’t remember it, but it was me. I sped up time, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be held accountable for my actions because I don’t remember them.”
“What do you want me to tell you?” She asked, eyes tearing up.
“Please don’t cry,” I said softly. “I don’t mean to upset you. I’m just sick and tired of all of this. I wish I could control things.”
“It’s not your fault you don’t remember,” She answered. “I can tell you that you didn’t love Aria. You never did. You just pretended to, so that she’d never hurt the babies.”
“Pretended?” I whispered. “I mean…even the sex?” I blushed.
“That was probably real, I mean you have kids, right?” She finally let out a small laugh.
I looked at her in disgust. “How the hell did she pull me into that one?”
“It has to do with a connection,” Pepper said slowly. “At elast that’s what I think. You know that we’re connected because I’m your imaginary friend?” I nodded. “That’s why we kissed that time. Because we both felt that pull within our souls. The same thing, I think happened with you and Aria. She said something about Altiere, he was her old lover. I’m not sure about the details but if he’s inside of you, like Mason told her then-”
“Wait, what?” I asked. “Mason and Aria had contact? No fucking wonder.” I hit my palm against my forehead. “Just continue. What were you going to say?”
“If Altiere is inside of you, then you and Aria have that connection because of him. Nothing else, at least that you’re conscious of. You don’t love her.”
I let out a small breath. “That’s a relief. I knew I’d never be able to love someone like that.”
“But Altiere does, and that’s dangerous,” Pepper warned. “Please be careful.”
I opened my mouth to say more but Pepper headed to the door. “I’m hungry, we can talk more later.”
I wanted to know more about that kiss she was talking about, but I knew I had missed my chance. Something was off about Pepper, smething much more than a simple kiss, if that’s all it was.