“…and so I have to leave,” Ethan finished.
Declan looked up thoughtfully at tthe red haired male. “And does Alistair know about this?”
“Of course he does,” Ethan said. “I’ve told him that I have to leave, but you know that he isn’t fond of the idea.”
“I’m not either, actually,” Declan said. “Alistair needs you here. More than you know. He’s adjusting.”
“He doesn’t need me,” Ethan said. “He has you. You can stand by his side through all of this. Through whatever hardships come his way. You know all about magic, about being a protector, a brother, a lover, a steady figure.”
“I can’t replace you, you’re his dad,” Ethan said.
Ethan nodded. “I know that, but he doesn’t need a replacement. He needs a partner, and so far, you’ve done a hell of a good job keeping things under control while we were gone.”
There was a moment of silence before Declan spoke up again. “I want to ask him to marry me, but I wasn’t sure when a good time would be. This is all so sudden, what if he turns me down?”
Ethan smirked. “He won’t say no. It’s been this long. He loves you.”
“I love him too.”
“Daddy, there’s some old guy at the door,” Charlotte said.
“Grandpa,” Adeline said. “It’s grandpa.”
“What do you mean?” Ethan asked.
“She thinks that it is our other grandfather,” Charlotte said. “But who? You’re right here.”
“Damian?” Ethan asked, turning to Declan. “Could it be?”
“What would he want here?” Declan stood up. “Stay here, I’ll scope it out.”
“Absolutely not!” Ethan stood up.
Declan crossed his arms over his chest. “Protect my girls. I have no powers. Remember?”
With a grunt, Ethan stood down.
“You’re not Damian…” Declan’s voice trailed off. “Thank the watcher.”
“Declan, lovely to see you again,” Apollo stated. “Don’t recognize me anymore?”
“Sir!” Declan said quickly. “I’m sorry, you look so different.”
“Older. I look older. My hair is all grey.” He let out a bitter laugh. “It happens.”
“Alistair will be happy to see you, and so will Ethan,” Declan said. “Let me get them-”
Apollo held his hand up. “Behind you.”
Declan turned to face the little girl that had been tugging the hem of his pants. He picked her up. “Astra, darling.”
“Who is that little princess?” Apollo asked.
“Our daughter, Alistair’s and mine I mean. Uh, long story short, Lucas cast a fertility spell on me before he died, and well, we had twins. This is Astra, and our other daughter is Millie.”
“And you have Charlotte and Adeline right?” Apollo smiled. “When I last spoke to you, you said they were infants. They’ve gotten big. They’re so gorgeous.”
“Do you want to hold her?” Declan asked. “Astra is a little touchy with who she trusts, but…” He handed her to Apollo. “Wow, she’s not crying.”
Instead the girl was looking up at him with wonder and awe dancing behind her eyes. “She has my black hair.”
“Mhmm.” Declan smiled. “She’s going to be stunning when she grows up.”
“I’ve felt old before, but this really tops it,” Apollo said. “Grandchildren, from my youngest child.”
“Wait until you meet Alistair,” Declan said.
“Scarlett’s son, right?” He beamed. “I’m excited to catch up with everyone. But, I want to say thank you, for keeping things in check.”
“Of course,” Declan said. “I love Alistair. I want to be part of your family.”
“We want you as part of our family,” Ethan said, coming into the room. “I sensed no danger, so I sent the girls upstairs to do their homework.”
“Thats fine. Altiere gets pissy when they don’t do their assignments anyhow. Though, I will leave you two alone.” Declan took Astra from Apollo’s arms and walked towards the kitchen. “It’s nice seeing you again, Mr. Gray.”
“You too Declan!” He called after him.
“Apollo…” Ethan murmured. “What are you doing here?”
“Don’t look at me like that,” Apollo said. “I’m not a child. Stop sheltering me. Alistair is my son. You’re my husband. I’m not just going to sit back while all of this crap hits the ceiling. I stepped into your time machine and came here. My children are safe at home. They told me that Pandora was safe. Now, I’m checking up on you.”
“You should be home,” He said. “I know you want to help, but this is dangerous. You’re human. Damian is dangerous. Remember last time? He nearly killed you. I can’t lose you.”
“Look at me,” Apollo said. “I’m not going to live forever. All of my hair is grey and I’m getting old. I want to spend the last of my days with you, wherever you may be.”
“I love you,” Ethan mumbled, pulling his husband close.
“Who the hell cares?” He asked. “I love you. No matter how you look. Besides, you age well.”
“I wouldn’t say this is well.” Apollo frowned. Ethan ignored him and placed his lips against Apollos.
“You know,” He muttered. “I can’t let you stay. There’s something I have to do. I have to go back-”
“What did Rickie tell you?” Apollo asked.
“How did you know?” Ethan frowned.
“Are you serious?” Apollo hugged him. “I know you. You’re trying to be the hero again. Scarlett and Bailey told me about him. He said he wanted you, and I know that you’d do anything to protect the kids. Well, guess what? I’m not letting you go.”
“It’s too late,” Ethan said. “I made a promise to him. he’s going to come after the kids if I don’t comply.”
“Dad!” I ran to my dad and threw my arms around him. “I’ve missed you so damn much.”
“I’ve missed you too, son. How have you been?” He asked, rubbing my back.
“Things are stressful, but otherwise, I’m happy. I have an amazing boyfriend, amazing kids, amazing dads.”
Apollo laughed. “You are lucky to have us.”
“Extremely,” I agreed.
“We need to talk, all of us,” Apollo said. “About this Rickie business.”
“Pollo-” Ethan began.
“I came all the way here, risking my safety, to see you. You’re not going back to Rickie. You’re mine, not his. I’ll fight him for you if I have to.”
We all sat down in the living room, where a happy Millie was waiting for us. “The other twin?” My dad smiled warmly. “She’s so precious.”
“I’m so proud of my girls, all of them,” Alistair said. “I know that they’ll grow up to do amazing things. WITH their grandfathers. Both of them.”
“I have to go,” Ethan said. “It isn’t safe.”
“Isn’t it?” I asked. “I’m going to be the keeper of magic. I’ll keep you safe. You’re a legend here, dad. Your magic, my magic, I’m sure Altiere will comply with us…together we can make sure that he doesn’t come in here.”
“He’ll go after the triplets, and Pandora,” Ethan said. “I can’t let that happen.”
“We appeal to the guardians,” Apollo suggested. “Emit will help.”
“You know how they are,” Ethan said. “I want the Grays to wash their hands with them.”
“Dad, I think it’s a good idea,” I said. “Mason told me that he was able to get to imaginationland because of Rickie. That means they’re working together and the guardians want to stop Mason. They’ll help us.”
“At what cost, the girls?” Ethan asked.
“They’ll be fine,” Apollo said. “Alistair will equip them with the knowledge and power to overcome. Like we did to him.”
“Look at what happened to you, AListair.” He looked at me. Do you want a repeat of that?”
“It’s time I come clean,” I began. “Mason asked me to help him. He wants me to end the Grays.”
“What?” Apollo furrowed his brows. “You aren’t considering that, are you?”
“He told me that by the tenth generation from Athena, that if the Grays are still there, he’s going to do something that will change time and wipe us from ever existing. He said that he was gong to do it anyway and nothing could stop him. So, it’d be in my best interest to help him. He wants me to raise my girls away from the guardians and any other influence. He said he’d help me destroy every obstacle in my way. Four the next few generations. The ultimate price is our lineage.”
“I know you’ll hate me for saying this but,” Ethan said. “It sounds like a good plan.”
“What?” Apollo exclaimed. “Have you forgotten what Mason did to me?”
“He led you right into my arms. I can’t blame him for that. Without him, you’d be with Tommy.” Ethan played with his thumbs. “If you trust Mason, he can get rid of the guardians and then there may be a way out of destroying the lineage. We have Pandora working behind the scenes.”
“Ethan-” Apollo began but I cut him off.
“No, dad. I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to the guardians. It’s either them or Mason. At least with them, I know that you’ll be safe. With Mason, our entire family will be destroyed. We’ll be wiped out from EVER existing. It’s a risk I’m not willing to take. We need the guardians to protect you, and us. But this time, we’re doing it differently. We present the deal with Mason to them and they’ll be more apt to help us, knowing we could easily switch sides. We want two heirs this time. One here, to make sure Damian is taken out of power. One in Sunlit Tides to protect the rest of our family.”
“I can’t argue with that,” Ethan grumbled. “Must you always stop me from being the hero?”
“I can’t let yo give up your second chance,” I explained. “Declan gave up a lot for you. This is a struggle we’ll face together.”
“So you’re our other grandpa?” Charlotte asked. “You’re a human.”
“Yes, I am,” He said. “I married Ethan. He’s a witch. So, that’s why Alistair is a witch. My other kids are humans, because their mother is human.”
Charlotte’s mouth opened in shock. “So, we’re not the only ones who have two dads and a mom?”
“No.” Apollo shook his head. “Some things happened, but I realized that I loved Ethan so much. So thats why we’re together and I’m not with the triplet’s mom.”
“Like daddy and daddy,” Adeline said. “Mommy is not nice. I can sense it. But we have our daddies.”
“I love our dads,” Charlotte said. “And grandpa seems cool too. You’re also very nice. I feel…happy.”
Adeline jumped from her chair. “Thats a good thing, grandpa.” She told him. “Charlotte never admits that she is happy.”
“Why not?” Apollo smiled. “It’s okay to have feelings.”
“It’s hard,” Charlotte admitted.
“Why?” He asked. “Can I help?”
“Charlotte feels like I am more important than her,” Adeline said. “Because I am a purebred vampire and she is part human.”
“Ade!” Charlotte exclaimed.
“It is the truth, that is how you feel,” Adeline said.
“Sometimes I wish you weren’t so intuitive,” Charlotte muttered.
“Well, now that you know that I’m human, that makes your father half human as well, Apollo said.
“And,” Adeline said. “Declan has no magic anymore either. It is okay to be different.”
“But Altiere-” She frowned. “He always says that you will do great things. But what about me?”
“You will do amazing things sweetheart.” Apollo said.
“I can feel it,” Adeline said. “You will.”
I was sitting alone, watching the stars from our porch. A lot of things had hapoeed and there was no doubt in my mind that they would continue. I had to prepare my girls for the coming journey. Two of them would be plagued with the fate of our lineage. It wouldn’t be an easy thing. I dreaded passing this curse down to my children, but I had no choice. They were strong, they could do it. I kept telling myself that. We were Grays. We could overcome any obstacle thrown our way. We did not need to take the easy way out.
“Daddy,” Adeline said. I hadn’t noticed she was next to me. “It will be okay.”
“Hmm?” I looked over at her.
“I can feel things,” She said. “Purebreed vampires can read minds, but it isn’t like you think. If you have a lot of emotion, like if you’re really sad or really happy, I can sense why. I can also sense connections between blood, thats how I knew you were our dad.”
“So you can tell what I’m thinking about right now?” I asked.
“Vaguely. I know that you are upset over a choice you have to make.” She looked at me with her big beautiful golden eyes. “You are smart, and you are caring. You will make the right choice.”
“Sweetheart.” I couldn’t stop the huge grin from spreading across my face. “Thank you for saying that.”
“I love you daddy.” She kissed my head. “Can we talk about something?”
I nodded and slid to the floor. I motioned for her to join me. “Whats up, pretty lady?”
She slid to the ground next to me. “I want you to know that I am not afraid. I know that I have to do thngs because I am a purebred vampire.”
I stopped her. “I don’t want you to talk like that. It makes no idfference to me whether you are purebred or not. Even that you’re a vampire. None of that matters to me. You’re my daughter. You don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do. I’m your dad, and I will always protect you.”
“And Charlotte too?” She asked.
“Of course.” I patted her head. “And Millie and Astra. I love you all. Can you do me a favor?”
“Anything,” She agreed.
“Take care of your sisters. Always. I’m going to tell the same thing to Charlotte. You two are the big sisters, look out for your younger sisters and each other.”
“Of course daddy. You know I will.” She stood up and kissed my forehead once again. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Sweetheart.”
“Alistair,” Adeline began. “You feel out of place, don’t you?”
“What?” He asked. “No. That’s not true.”
“You do,” She said, taking a seat across from him. “I can feel it.”
“My mom and dad are not here,” He muttered. “Or my sister.”
“Do you want to see them again?” She asked.
“Of course I do, but at the same time, I don’t want to leave Uncle Al.” He placed his pencil down. “Its tough.”
“Well, I like hanging out with you,” She said softly. “I know that Charlotte loves your company as well. I wanted to know if you’d like to come trick or treating with us after the Halloween festival.”
“Trick or what?” He asked.
“Trick or treating,” She said. “Its when we dress up in costumes and ring people’s doorbells. We get free candy. Dad takes us every year.”
“Oh yeah?” He smirked. “Free candy? I’m in!”
“Oh, but you have to dress up in a costume or you won’t get any candy,” She said.
“Aww man, where am I going to get a costume?” He asked.
“From dad’s closet,” Charlotte said as she walked by. “Declan has some really intersting things in there.”
“Why are you in dad’s closet?” Adeline asked.
“I knew that he was going to need a costume. I’m a vampire too, you know.” She rolled her eyes. “So you’re coming?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there.” He smiled. It was nice to have other family besides his mom, dad and sister. To have other kids running around would be great, not to mention that he’d make new friends in school. Maybe Moonlight Falls wasn’t so bad after all.