Charlotte groaned as the bell rang throughout the house. “Make it stop.”
“It’s only going to stop if we go and answer it,” Jeff mumbled, still half asleep. “You stay, I’ll go.”
“You’re barely awake.” Charlotte stretched her arms over her head. “I’m a vampire, I don’t need as much sleep as you. Besides, could be dangerous.”
“I can handle myself.” He buried his face into his pillow. Sleep felt so nice, it was definitely what he needed after staying up with Pax, who had his very first fever that night. “Who rings the bell if they’re going to attack?”
“Someone really smart, that’s who.” She kicked off the bed and headed for the door. “Whoever it is won’t get my warm welcome. That’s what they get for waking me up.”
“Play nice,” Jeff warned.
“I’ll think about it.” She held the door frame with her left hand. She didn’t turn around. “If things start feeling suspicious, don’t come down. Pick up Pax and hide. If our son gets hurt because you want to play hero-”
“How many times do I have to tell you that I know how to safely diffuse a difficult situation?” He tossed a pillow at her. “Be careful.”
Charlotte begrudgingly opened the door. If it was Altiere, she’d slam her fist into his face. But it wasn’t. She was met with a stranger she had never seen before. “Hello ma’am, I’m here to sell you some car insurance.”
“Get the hell out,” She growled. “You woke me up for car insurance?”
The man began to rub the back of his neck nervously. “I was joking. My name is Zayne Thompson. I’m a friend of Jeff’s, is he here?”
“A friend of Jeff’s?” She gave the man a good look over. “You’re human. How did you…? How are all of you humans getting into Moonlight Falls? It’s hidden for a reason.”
“It’s complicated, but I really would like to speak this over with my friend.”
“No,” Charlotte said angrily. “Absolutely not. I have no proof that you’re his friend, and I don’t really like humans.”
“You’re sleeping with one, so I just assumed…” Zayne smirked.
A loud clap could be heard as Charlotte’s hand made contact with Zayne’s face. “You shut your damn mouth. I don’t know who you are, or how you know so much stuff, but you better leave. Now.”
He held his face in his hand. It stung a little. Maybe he was being unreasonable, but for some reason, with certain women he wasn’t the softest around the edges. “I’m not leaving until I see Jeffrey Bennett. That’s it. End of story. I can wait here all day.”
“You’re a human, I can vaporize you with my eyes closed. Do not test me. I’ll tell Jeff you came and you can come back later, yeah?”
Normally, that would be reasonable. Zayne would leave and come back another day when the girl wasn’t home. But she was rude, and he didn’t like that about her at all. What the hell did his friend get himself into? She was no Lisa that was for sure.
“No. You’re going to tell Jeff I’m here and if he tells me to come back, I’ll leave.”
“Don’t leave, Zayne!” Charlotte looked over to Jeff who held Pax close to him.
“What the hell is this?” Charlotte demanded. “I told you if our son gets hurt that-”
“Relax.” Jeff rubbed her back soothingly. “Zayne is my best friend. He’d never do anything to hurt me or my family.” He turned to Zayne. “I see you’ve met my girlfriend, Charlotte. This little guy is Pax, our son.”
Zayne smiled at the boy who giggled in return. Charlotte crossed her arms over her chest and huffed, not happy with the situation at all. “Babe, he’s harmless.” He kissed the top of her nose. “Mom mode can turn off.”
“I’m a mom, I’m always going to be in mom mode. Have you been contacting him? He knows about us, and we’ve kept hidden.”
Jeff looked at Zayne who was shifting his weight uncomfortably. “Yeah. I’ve been emailing him. I didn’t know how you felt about humans still, so I kept it to myself.”
“Yeah but you said young again, what does that mean?” She pondered.
Jeff shook his head. “Its a uhm…inside joke. Please don’t worry about it. I’ve known Zayne for an immensely long time. He’s like family.”
“And frogs legs. Where are the frog legs?” Alistair scratched his head. Not having Burke around was difficult to get used to. Alistair would misplace his head if it wasn’t attached to his body. “Damn it.”
“You did the right thing.” Alistair shut his eyes tightly trying to block the voice from his mind. “Your focus should only be on the war.”
“Just because my daughter thinks she loves you doesn’t mean you get to bug me.” Alistair tried to keep his thoughts to himself so that Astra wouldn’t hear him.
“You don’t approve, sir?” Audric asked.
“Of course…” He paused. “I want her to be happy, but you just so conveniently show up out of nowhere in the midst of trouble.”
“You don’t realize just how much trouble you’re in, Mr.Gray. You’re in no position to question my help. Besides, I know your loyalty lies with my brother.”
“Dionysus has helped us from the very beginning.” Alistair spoke those words aloud.
“Yet, he just so happens to be romantically involved with two of your four daughters.” Alistair felt a tap on his shoulder and he turned around, startled.
“Leave my house.” He glared at Audric. “You know nothing about my daughters-”
“I’m just saying that maybe, I’m not the bad brother.” Audric crossed his arms over his chest. ” I assure you, sir, I have nothing but Astra’s best interest in my mind. I care deeply for her.”
“I hope so, because if my daughter gets hurt in the process of all of this, you’ll wish you never came in contact with us.”
“Sir, with all due respect, I already wish that.” Just like that, he was gone. Alistair ran his hand through his hair. This Audric character was powerful, but Alistair could never just accept someone’s help so willingly anymore. But one thing he was sure of, Dionysus could be trusted.
“Frogs legs,” He repeated to himself, trying to steady his breathing.
“To the left, in the cabinet.”
“Get the hell out of my head!” Alistair slammed his hand onto the table, knocking over his potion. “Damn it!”
“Daddy is an idiot,” Charlotte cooed to her child. “Yes, your dad is going to get us all killed one day with his reckless behavior.”
“Dada?” Pax looked up at her with his sparkling amber eyes and she hugged him tightly.
“He doesn’t mean to.” She let out a heavy sigh. “I don’t mean it, either. Maybe I’m the one at fault, maybe I should trust him more. Do you think that’s a good idea?” He only looked up at her and she hugged him again. “I don’t want to lose you to that maniac. I don’t know who is working for him. You understand that, right?”
She could feel Pax snuggle closer to her and all of her walls came crashing down. Having a child of her own was…interesting. She never thought she could love someone so much. She wondered how it was so easy for her mother to cast her aside as she had. Charlotte looked towards the door. “Daddy said to give him some privacy to talk to his friend. But humans don’t belong here and I’m going to find out what the big secret is.”
“What secret?” Charlotte’s eyes widened at the person standing in front of her.
“I said nothing of the sort!”
“But, you did. You totally did.” Millie’s glowing face made Charlotte sick to her stomach. Literally. She gingerly handed her child over to her sister before bolting into the house.
“Is Char okay?”” She could hear Jeff’s concern as he spoke to Millie in the other room.
“It’s probably just something she ate, she’ll be fine.” Millie hugged Pax closer to her. “I can check on her though.”
“Please.” Jeff nodded. “That would be great. She’s been really stressed out lately with all of this.”
She had just noticed the man standing next to Jeff and made a mental note to probe him later. This was what had Charlotte so worked up. “Char-”
“Oh god…no.” She wiped her mouth with a nearby towel. “Not another one.”
“It’s not something you ate, is it?” She asked.
“It’s tearing my insides up, I can feel it. I don’t know if I can do this again. Millie.”
“Charlotte. You’re a great mom.” She could feel the vomit rise in her throat as her sister spoke. “Another child is great news.”
“Not here. Not now. Not where I have to look over my shoulder constantly. No. I want my family to be safe.”
“They will be safe.” She laid a hand on her own stomach. “All of this will be over soon, you just have to trust dad.”
“I can’t believe it’ll be over in my child’s lifetime. Altiere is too powerful. He almost killed me. He’ll know that my kids are the best way to hurt me.”
“He won’t make it that far.” Millie tried to comfort her sister, but she knew Charlotte was right. “You can’t be scared to live your life.”
“I’m scared of bringing more people into this shit hole of a world, Mills. Do you want to raise your child like this? Now, imagine how I feel. I’m prime target number two for Alitere. He’ll take my babies like he took me and Ade.”
“Listen,” Millie’s voice was now low. “I will talk to the new guy. He’s human, yeah?” Charlotte nodded. “I will find out information, if that will ease your mind. He won’t tell you.”
“He’s not going to just tell you either.”
“I have other ways of persuasion in my arsenal. Trust me, okay? I want to help make this safe for my child, and yours. Okay?” Charlotte could only nod. If they wanted a safer world, they’d have to make on themselves.