“Pleaseeee let me hold him,” Dionysus begged. “He’s my god son.”
“Fine.” Jeff rolled his eyes.
“Thanks Uncle Jeff!” Dionysus hit him in the back playfully. “I’m going to be the best god father in the entire universe.”
Jeff looked at Charlotte, who wore a big grin. “You almost chose him, Char. That could have been your boyfriend.”
“Dio is sweet,” Millie said. “He’s being a good god father, I think.”
“Thank you Millie, someone appreciates me,” Dionysus said.
“Shouldn’t we be singing happy birthday now?” Burke asked. “Let me start it. Happy Birthday to you-”
Everyone joined in, including Charlotte, who was more than ecstatic to be celebrating her child’s birthday. She looked to Jeff. ” I can’t believe its been so long that we’ve been together.”
“Best years of my life, honestly,” He said, kissing her forehead.
“Who’s so handsome?” Charlotte hoisted her son up into the air, admiring his pink hair.
“There hasn’t been pink hair in the family since my grandfather,” Alistair said. “Wow, I’m shocked.”
“Your grandfather had pink hair?” Charlotte asked. “Oh good, I thought this was like some sort of birth defect or something because I’m a vampire and Jeff is human.”
Alistair laughed. “Granted, it’s strange to see it so late, considering it was a few generations ago. But, it’s kind of refreshing.”
“If I’m being honest with you, dad,” Charlotte said. “I’m happy it’s not my hair. Every time I look at it in the mirror, I see Aria. It makes me sick.”
“Jeff, what do you think of Pax’s hair?” Charlotte asked.
Jeff smiled, being reminded of his neice’s Emmaline’s hair, and her father, Caleb’s hair. It was the same shade of bright pink. It made him feel nostalgic to see the signature pink hair. It made him wonder if it was a product of the generation he was brought from. Somehow, did his involvement with Caleb Gray make it easier for their child to get pink hair? He didn’t know, and he didn’t care. As long as his son was healthy, he was happy.
“You made this?” Burke asked Astra. She nodded slowly. She was still weary of him, but he seemed really nice. If Jeff insisted he come to all of the family outings, she wouldn’t stop him. Millie seemed to trust him, as well as Adeline. She was angry at Charlotte and Dionysus. Charlotte for questioning her about Audric and Dionysus for taking up a large space in her mind. This was some kind of test, she was sure. Audric was testing her, and she would not fail. Because if she fell for Dionysus, she’d never see Audric again.
“Right Astra?” Millie asked. Astra looked up at her sister, confused. How could she be smiling so much when Zander had broke her heart?
“Huh, what?” Astra asked. She clearly wasn’t paying attention.
“I said that you were almost on television for cooking so well,” Millie repeated.
Astra poked the cake on her plate. “Yeah, but, that was the past. I don’t want to talk about the past.” The past reminded her of Thad, a life she would never know. What if she had tried harder? What if she hadn’t let him say no? Would things be different? Would her father have felt the need to leave? She didn’t know, she had the feeling that things might have been better if she had tried harder to tell Thad how she felt. As if the fake human life would be the best course of action for her life.
Millie nodded in understanding. No longer there was the happy go lucky girl who saw love in everything. Now, Millie didn’t boast it. She simply shrugged when she saw it, given a frown even. “Anyway, guys, can I have your attention?”
Everyone had slowly put their fork down. It was the first time in a few months where Millie attempted to speak her mind. It was what a lot of people where waiting for her to do.
“I’m pregnant,” Millie said slowly. “Obviously its Zander’s baby, but…I don’t know. That’s it, I don’t know.”
Dionysus nearly choked on his cake. “Pregnant?”
“Yes, thats what I said,” Millie replied. “I’m pregnant, and I don’t know what to do.”
Alistair put down his fork and looked at his daughter. “Don’t you worry about anything. I know, it seems scary. When I found out I had daughters, your sisters, I was so at a loss of what to do. I thought my life was over because I had two vampires that suddenly needed to be taken care of.”
“What did you do, daddy?” Millie asked.
“I turned to Declan, and he helped me through it. Declan was a phony, but I won’t lie and say that he wasn’t my security blanket for most of my adult life.”
“I don’t have that, dad, Zander left me!” Millie looked shaken up, as if she was about to burst into tears any moment.
“You don’t need Zander, you have us. Charlotte just had a baby herself, and I know what its like to have children. We’ll help you. If you want to move back in with me for the time being, you can.”
“Is that really okay?” Millie asked.
“You can stay with Astra, just like old times.”
The wooden chair slid across the floor, making a loud noise. Astra had stood up suddenly, and headed for the door. Away from the table, away from the mess, away from her now crying sister. She couldn’t take it anymore. She didn’t feel like she belonged anymore. Just like old times. That had set her off. She didn’t want to return to old times. Those were the worst times of her life. Times where Millie would hang out with cute boys and popular girls, and Astra would stay locked up in her room playing with her toy oven. It was times when she couldn’t even get a single person, not a guy, or even just a friendly face, to be kind to her and talk to her. She was always alone, with people who didn’t want to bother to take the extra effort to get to know her and her pain. But now, Millie was pregnant. She got her heart broken…and all attention was on her again. Nobody cared enough to push passed Astra’s exterior to get to the root of the problem. She was crying out for help, but nobody was there. Why couldn’t it be so easy for her to command the attention of an audience?
Even Dionysus seemed intent on listening to Millie. The guy, who when she walked into a room, made her feel like she was the only one around. He was hanging on Millie’s every word. Pregnant? She didn’t know why she was so mad, but it infuriated her. “Comfort me,” She wanted to yell at him. “Let me be angry at you.”
She had blown him off, hoped he’d leave her alone. And when it worked, and he had, she felt utterly destroyed. The one person who wasn’t all about Astra and her baby, or Adeline and her boyfriend, was now part of that family. The family, who even though they welcomed her with open arms, could never understand how much she knew and how much she had grown over the years. It was utterly frustrating, and suffocating being in that room.
“Astra Gray, when will you stop storming out?” Dionysus asked. “Not that I mind the exercise or anything, but it’d be so much easier if you didn’t run away from your problems.”
“I’m not running away,” Astra mumbled. “It takes me longer to process things.”
“No. Something else is on your mind, and it has nothing to do with your sister’s pregnancy. What is it?” He asked.
“Nothing,” Astra said coldly. She wanted the attention, but she kept pushing him away. It was a vicious cycle, and she didn’t know why she kept doing it.
He sat down on the love seat next to her. “Who do you think you’re fooling? I’m the elven tribe leader. Reading people is kind of what I do.”
“I just want to be left alone, okay?” She asked, trying to turn away from him.
Dionysus reached out and grabbed her face, tilting it toward him. She gasped, shuddering at his touch. She couldn’t move if she tried, paralyzed by the mere proximity of their faces. “It’s rude to look away when someone is speaking to you.”
His seriousness made her even more nervous, and she couldn’t speak. “Tell me,” He urged her. “What’s wrong?”
But she still didn’t speak, eyes transfixed on his warm cheek. So, he continued. “Astra, I feel a part of me die inside every time I see you upset. I hate when pretty girls are upset. It drives me mad. I have this urge to punch whoever made you feel this way. And it kills me even more to think that it might be me causing you all this pain.”
“I…” What could she say? Nothing, her mind was drawing a blank.
“Have I hurt you?” She could muster up a small shake of the head. “Don’t lie to me. I did something to you, didn’t I?”
She shook her head again, but he still wasn’t satisfied. “What did I do to make you so angry at me? I’m on your side here. I’m not the enemy.”
She spoke slowly, and in broken words. But, it was a start. “You…I ju-st…He…never…I-” She wasn’t even making sense, or coherent thoughts. She was so nervous, she couldn’t.
“Your sister told me about Thad,” Dionysus continued. “I’m not him. I’m not leading you on. When I flirt with you, it means more than just a joke to me. I like to see the red tint on your cheek, and hear you stutter. I like to know about you. I want to know more about you. Is that wrong? Do you hate me because you don’t think I mean what I say?”
I don’t hate you. She wanted to say. I’m angry that you won’t pay any extra attention to me. I’m needy. A terrible, needy person. She could feel his hot breath on her neck as he moved closer to her. “Let me show you just how much I mean it when I call you beautiful.” He pressed his lips firmly to hers. It was her first kiss. Her first real kiss. She felt the sparks, and she felt the butterflies. She felt the heat rise up in her cheeks. It was magical.
Dionysus slowly opened his eyes to see the flustered girl. He couldn’t muster up a smile, not until he knew how she had felt. He laid it all on the line. “Astra, you mean more to me than you think. You’re important to me. You matter to me.”
“St-op talk-ing!” She jumped from her seat next to him and turned her back. She didn’t want him to see her blushing face. She didn’t know what to do. It felt so good, yet..Audric. This was what he meant. She’d have to choose who meant more to her. Dionysus or Audric. If it was Dionysus, she’d never see Audric again. Was she ready for that? Her head was spinning, and she was even more confused than before.
“Astra…” His voice trailed off.
She was nearly shuting at him, back still turned. “Why do you do this! Why do you insist on making me some kind of trophy piece? Why? Just stop flirting, I know what you’re doing!”
“What am I doing?” Dionysus asked, standing up. “What am I doing other than telling you exactly how I feel? I’m not lying to you.”
She knew he wasn’t. She just needed an excuse, to make it hurt less. The tears stung her eye lids. She didn’t know what to tell him. That kiss was nice, but I can’t stop thinking about some elven mage who probably shouldn’t exist? She exhaled. “I…I ne-ed to thin-k, okay? Dont f-ollo-w me.”
Dionysus sank back into his seat and watched her walk off. He hoped the last thing he saw of her, would not be her back turned to him. Had he messed up somehow?