Jeff didn’t want to feel this way about the mother of his unborn child, but he did. Feelings of his past rose within him, and he began to think of the life he used to have. A beautiful wife, children (even having to take care of his nieces and nephews), a good job, and surrounded by family and friends at all times. Neither he nor Charlotte had to work, the Grays were rich. Being in power, Alistair had a steady income from potions and other miscellaneous jobs, and the rewards came in abundance. Jeff felt useless at home, he wasn’t allowed to go anywhere by himself because he was a human. It was stifling, and being near Charlotte made him hate himself. It wasn’t that he couldn’t handle her onslaught of verbal attacks. He had become used to them by now. It was the silence that made him feel inadequate. Why didn’t she feel like she could turn to him? They had been through so much together. In his previous life, he and his wife had shared everything. Charlotte was completely different. The more in love he fell with her, the further and further away from him she seemed. Up until now, he had never questioned his family. He had been the head of the Bennetts for some time, guiding the newer generations and making sure they were alright. He didn’t feel like he belonged in the Gray family. Charlotte’s words echoed over and over again in his head. “You will never be my family!”
He wondered if that was true. Would he always just be that human? He was having a child with her. A freaking child! He”d never abandon her, but he felt hurt. He had just began to feel like he could see himself as a Gray. Adeline, Millie, Alistair, Ethan and Apollo had treated him like he was a brother, a child and a grandson. But his girlfriend…he kept telling himself there was more than met the eye with her. That she needed a steady hand, but it was wearing him down. When was it his turn to be the weak one? He was becoming exhausted.
Yet, whenever he thought this way, he couldn’t rationalize his emotions. He knew he wasn’t wrong in the relationship. He had done everything right. But, he beat himself up because Charlotte was unhappy and for some reason he couldn’t stop thinking about her and her smile. He sat at the edge of her bed, watching her. He didn’t know what he was looking for.
He saw her peaceful figure. She was calm as she slept. A different person entirely. He could swear he saw a hint of a smile on her face. What was she dreaming about? Did she dream about him as often as he dreamed about her? When he was around her, everything went out of the window. His old family? It didn’t matter, because he was thinking of his new one. Someone had given him a chance to live a new life, and make a difference. He loved her. That was the only thing he could say when he saw her. Love. It was a torturous love, but it was love. His only wish would be to have the family dynamic that he once had. Family was everything to him. Did Charlotte care at all, or was this child going to be a burden for her? He lightly crawled onto the bed, peering over her figure. From the bottom of her pillow, he noticed a small book sticking out. He tried to be as careful in his movements as possible, not to wake her and grabbed it. The book was called, “So you’re going to be a mother?” The cover was littered with artwork of supernatural babies. There were werewolves, fairies and even vampires. A smile made it’s way onto his lip. Was she reading this book?
He flipped through the pages, glancing at each notation she had made in the margins. One caught his eyes. The heading of the section read, “What makes a good mother?” She circled the word good in red pen. He read what the book had said. “A mother is the lifeline of her child. Without them, their child could very well suffer, and in extreme cases, die from physical neglect. The first step in becoming a good mother is realizing that your child will look to you for all the answers and they will follow blindly in whichever path you lead them. Picking the right one for them is whats important. At the end of the day, YOU are their mother, and will be the one who has to take care of them. No matter what the sacrifice is.” She underlined the last line three times. Her small handwriting read, “sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.”
He kept flipping through the pages, stopping at another section. “Is the father in the picture?” He read further on. “If the father is going to be involved in the baby’s life, it’s important to set some ground rules in the beginning of the pregnancy. It is important that you be on the same page. Chances are, you’re both new parents, and if that’s the case, he’ll be just as confused as you are. Mistakes will be made, and that is okay. Good communication is everything. You will be doing this together.” The entire passage was circled. Charlotte wrote herself a checklist under the passage.
- Trust Jeff
- Talk to Jeff
- Apologize to Jeff
- Love Jeff
He hadn’t realized he was crying until he felt a light touch on his arm. It was Charlotte. She didn’t say anything, just watched him wipe the tears away. “This is your book?” He murmured. He knew it was, but he wanted to fill the silence. Her gaze was too much for him to handle right now.
She nodded meekly. She didn’t yell at him for going through her stuff, or waking him up. She looked…content. “I’m sorry, I meant to tell you earlier that I was pregnant. I just…” She squeezed his arm. “I was scared. The news came at a bad time.”
“How did you know?”
“Ade said she could feel another heartbeat, so I got a pregnancy test and it came out positive. I threw everything out so you wouldn’t see. I just thought that if you knew, you’d stay. Not because you cared, but because you felt like you had to. I didn’t want you to look at me differently.”
Jeff reached out and stroked her hair. “Of course I’m going to look at you differently. You’re the mother of my child.”
“But that’s not all I want to be,” She said quietly. “I want more than that. It’s selfish. I know.”
“It’s not selfish,” Jeff whispered, coming close to her face. He gave her a tiny kiss on her lips. It felt real. He had felt he way he had when he first kissed her two years ago. “I want you to think of me as the father of your child, your best friend, your protector, your lover…”
“I’ve never been good at showing it,” She mumbled. “But you’re the only thing thats ever on my mind. Not my sisters, not my dad, not even this war sometimes. Its just your laugh, your smile, your ridiculous jokes…”
Jeff laid down next to her, and held her in his arms. “You know, my jokes are really funny. But, I get the point. You’ve been my everything from day one. I just wish that you’d see it.”
They had fallen asleep in each other’s arms. It was a nice peaceful rest, but he knew he needed to let her get some sleep. When he actually looked at her, he could tell how much the pregnancy was taking a toll on her. The bags under her eyes were getting bigger, and her stomach looked like it was getting bigger while the rest of her body shrunk. He didn’t know what it was like to carry a child, but he knew it must have been painful. She needed all the beauty rest she could get. He took the book from the side of the bed stand and began to read some more. At least, he tried to. He couldn’t get passed the page where she had written rules about him. Charlotte cared. She didn’t know how to show it, but she cared. He felt like he was walking on air. They were going to be parents. He hoped it was a sassy little girl like Charlotte, who would scare all of the boys away. But, he wanted her to have his courage. He wanted his children to feel confident in who they were, he didn’t want them to ever feel like Charlotte did. They would be loved and cared for. The only thing he worried about was the war. He knew Charlotte would try to insert herself back in as head of the effort. And he knew that it would be a terrible life for his child now, as the political situation stood in Moonlight Falls. A child with human blood…but where could they go? Was there any place that supernaturals and humans could live harmoniously? Would Charlotte want to go? He didn’t want to take her away from her family. He just didn’t know. It was early to be thinking about it, but he wanted Charlotte to have the best life as a mother. She truly deserved it, even if she acted like a spoiled brat at times.
He pulled his chair out, and placed the book on the nearest shelf. He was going to see if he could surprise Charlotte with some dinner in bed. Then, he was going to call Millie and see if she and Ade were coming home, or staying at their father’s place. He collapsed onto the seat, exhausted. He had been researching “raising a supernatural baby.” He didn’t know the first thing about vampires. Would it be human, or was that not possible? He felt that gentle touch on him again and he looked down to see Charlotte in between his legs. “I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Sorry,” She said sheepishly.
“No, don’t apologize. I wanted to see you.” He smiled at her. He felt as worn out as she had looked. “How are you feeling?”
“Good,” She said.
“Please don’t lie to me. If you’re in pain, let me know. Okay?” Jeff asked.
She nodded. “I was earlier. But, not now. The pain comes and goes. But, I guess that’s what it’s like to be pregnant.”
He stroked her cheek lovingly. “No more secrets. We’ll tell each other everything. I’ll go first. There’s something I’ve been wanting to discuss with you.”
“What is it?”
“What does family mean to you?” He looked down at her with a serious expression on his face. “It’s everything to me, but…”
Charlotte let out a small sigh. She somehow knew this was coming. She felt bad about what she had said to Jeff earlier. “I know this isn’t fair to say, but I never knew what it was like to have a family. My dad and sisters are great, but it’s not..we’re not the conventional family.” She struggled to find the right words. It didn’t mean that she didn’t love them. “You now about my mom. You know how I feel about that. I spent my whole life wondering if she ever wanted me. Something deep deep down inside was yearning for her to look at me an say how proud she was of me. But, then I saw her and she tossed me aside. My dad..he’s trying his best. But, this war has been looming since my grandfather was my age. I didn’t get to grow up, not knowing hate existed. It was always there, smack dab in my face. Then Ade, I hated her for a long time. Almost my whole life, I’m only no getting to really know my twin. You don’t know my youngest sister, Astra, but she was quiet and kept to her self. Millie has always tried to get us all together, but there’s just too much going on. And we accept it, hoping that one day, it’ll be a nice enough environment where we won’t have to look over our shoulder, or worry what species we’re talking to.”
Jeff listened, absorbing every word she had said. He leaned down and engulfed her in a tight hug. “I love them,” She continued. “With all my heart. They’re very important to me, I just…I don’t know how to do a family. I don’t want that for our child, and I know they’re going to have to endure this hateful place.”
“They won’t,” Jeff whispered into her hair. “They won’t ever look over their shoulder and not have someone there for them. I’ll always be there.”
“What if you can’t be?” She murmured. “What if something happens?”
“I don’t ever want to think about that, but if something happens to me. They’ll have you.”
“And if something happens to me?” She whispered.
“Even when I’m dead, I’ll be protecting you,” He said, holding her even tighter. “I’m not letting anything happen to you when you’re so close to seeing what it’s like to be part of a loving relationship. One day, we can be that big family that I know you want.” He pushed her hair out of her face and kissed the top of her forehead. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”