Note: This chapter has skipped a few years.
Her hand lay on her stomach. Audric’s words echoed over and over again in her mind. “We cannot have a conventional relationship.” She had shut her mind off to him, not wanting him to tease her any longer. It was like saying, “we can be together, but we have to be apart.” Why? Why was life so difficult when it came to her? She was shutting down, because it was much easier than facing the truth. Shortly after Audric’s leave, Charlotte announced that she was pregnant with Graciela. The name was chosen carefully, after Jeff’s mother Grace, who had passed away. Graciela was Jeff’s entire world, I could see it the moment he came out of the hospital room beaming. His little girl, looking just like her mother. It didn’t matter to him that she wasn’t human, because he saw that light that her mother had in her eyes when they had first met. Now, Charlotte had three beautiful kids. Pax, Graciela and Waverly, a vibrant little boy. All three were vampires, but not once had Jeff ever mentioned it, probably because it didn’t matter to him. He was the perfect gentleman and her sister was so damn lucky.
She loved her sister’s children. So much. But, the idea of never having her own made her sick to her stomach with jealousy. Not that it mattered much anymore. Things had gone to complete and utter shit in just a few short years. It started when Audric had first arrived. While he made good on all of his promises, his secrecy proved to be dangerous. She couldn’t vouch for a man she knew nothing about. Still, she held on to her hope that everything was alright. Occasionally he’d enter her thoughts and tell her about how much he loved her. She believed him…still did. After Astra’s many questions, he told her that he couldn’t intervene with Moonlight Falls and had simply disappeared. She couldn’t contact him and he wouldn’t contact her. There was a time that she would happily allow him to whisk her away into the isolation of his castle. But now, she didn’t even want to think about him anymore.
Things had resumed as they always had. Erik proposed to Adeline and they had a private wedding with her family and Erik’s. Millie gave birth to a beautiful girl, Harmony, who was around Graciela’s age. Something sparked between her and that Zayne guy. Millie claimed it wasn’t anything serious, but they had moved in together. Astra watched her family bloom around her while she simply wilted. She should have known that happiness was never her strong suit. Soon after, there was a breach and things began to change…
“It’s uh… kinda nice?” Charlotte looked at her grandfather. “I mean, I like it a lot. Really, I do.”
“I know it’s cramped, but we have no other choice. If we have anything more lavish than this, Declan will find us.” Ethan ran his hand through his deep red hair. “I’m sorry that this is how it has to be.”
Charlotte frowned at her grandfather. He would never be the same again. Not after grandpa had died. Ethan was increasingly becoming hostile despite how he tried to remain calm. Without Apollo, he was falling apart. “Grandpa. I love you.”
“I know you do, and I love you too. It’s the only reason I haven’t given up yet. I want those kids of yours to have a good life.” He looked around at the small cramped apartment. “The kids can stay in one room with Astra. You and Jeff will have to say with Al and I in the other room.”
“We should have stuck together,” Charlotte said. She just couldn’t make the best of it. She had three children now. She couldn’t just accept what was happening. “We shouldn’t be running from that piece of shit!”
“Charlotte, you have kids here.” Ethan tried to silence her. “I hate him as much as you do, but there is no other way right now. There’s barely enough room as it is in this place, we couldn’t have the others here.”
“Are they safe?” Charlotte asked.
“Ade and Erik have the best chance of survival on their own. They’re decoding the seer’s tale and will get back to us when they find something out.” He leaned against the faulty sink. “Zayne is keeping a close eye on Millie and Harmony. Declan doesn’t know about Zayne, we have the advantage.”
“What advantage?” Charlotte demanded. She could feel Waverly getting antsy in her arms. “He is a human. Declan will tear him apart! With this new magic he has, he could probably even tear dad apart.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he got that power from some ancient forces. He was able to slide right in under our noses and take power over Moonlight Falls.” Ethan could feel the anger rising within his chest. “This must have been Altiere’s plan all along. He probably couldn’t take the power, so he needed a blank slate.”
“Damn it, grandpa! Why didn’t we see it sooner?” She could feel the tears biting the corner of her eyes. “We can’t run forever.”
“We won’t, but for now we have to. Who knows what Declan will do if he finds you? Or your dad? We can’t let him have his way.”
“What about dad’s forces? They all promised to help! This was supposed to be our victory.”
“They were most likely threatened, or scared. Anyone with ties to the Grays are wanted, you know that,” Ethan said.
Charlotte wanted to cry but she held it in. Things were bad and there was no sign of it letting up.
Jeff pretended his head was buried in a book, but his attention was on Charlotte’s conversation. Everything had literally been taken from him in the blink of an eye. One day, Charlotte was announcing that she’s pregnant with their third child, and the next they’re fleeing from their home. He had never met Declan, but seeing the signs around town and the wanted posters hanging, he just knew that his family wouldn’t be safe around him. He wanted to abandon Moonlight Falls for a safer area, bu Alistair refused to leave until Altiere was dealt with. Charlotte would not go anywhere without her dad, and she didn’t exactly play nice with humans, so their options were limited. Then, her grandfather had passed away and all structures holding the family up had crumbled to the floor. It was as if they lost the will to be resilient. Even Charlotte seemed to be holding on by a single thread, and that thread was going to snap soon. Jeff felt utterly powerless. He couldn’t do much to help. In a previous life, he was a private investigator, but here it was nearly impossible to dig his nose somewhere it didn’t belong. He didn’t want to get his family killed.
“I am all powerful!” Pax boomed, climbing onto a chair. “Feel the wrath of the vampire king! I will destroy all evil doers!”
“Pax…” Jeff warned. “What did I say about volume?”
“I have to be quiet, I know.” Pax rolled his eyes. “Dad, this sucks. I like our old home better.”
“This is only for a little while,” Jeff said. “Things will be better soon. I promise.” But for once, he didn’t know how true that actually held. “Just think of it as a really big sleepover.”
“Yeah, one where we all get killed.” Graciela rolled her eyes as she passed her older brother and father. She was just like her mother.
“No one is going to die, El.” Jeff reached out and ruffled her hair. “Your mom is ascary vampire, remember?”
“Oh shut up Jeff!” He heard her annoyed voice from the kitchen. This place was so small that everything was practically in one room.
“Ooo, mom is totally gonna smash the bad guys!” Pax hopped down from his chair, slamming his fist onto the table.
“You’re an idiot.” Graciela rolled her eyes and headed for the door. “I’m going to sit outside.”
She wasn’t exactly the most tolerant of people and Jeff often found his daughter sitting alone. She didn’t seem to mind, she preferred it that way. “Someone needs to watch you. You know the rules.”
“Dad.” She walked over to him and kissed him on the cheek. “I will be careful. I promise.” For such young kids, Pax and Graciela were really mature. He didn’t know if it was the circumstances forcing them to grow up quickly, or something in their genetic makeup as vampires that sped up the mental processes. It was probably a mixture of both. “I will yell and scream if anyone tries to take me.”
Jeff was reluctant but a small nod from Charlotte had told him enough. “Grace,” She warned. “Five minutes only. I know you want fresh air, but it is really dangerous out there.” When she turned her attention to Jeff, Graciela took her leave. “We can’t shelter them from everything. I know you want to protect her, but she can’t live in fear. I refuse to let that man do that to my family.”
Pax ran up to his mom and hugged her. “Don’t worry mom, I will protect my little sister and brother. Promise.”
“You’re here!” Graciela threw her arms around her best friend. “I knew you’d come.”
“Of course, I’ll always come if you ask me to.” Nerissa gave her a thumbs up.
“Did anyone see you?” Graciela asked.
“No. I don’t think so. Not even my parents know that I’m gone.” She paused before speaking again. “Are you going to be taken away?”
“I don’t know,” Graciela answered truthfully. “Things are scary now.”
“My parents are really angry at the whole thing,” Nerissa confided. “They don’t even know you guys, but they keep talking about wanting to help you if they can.”
Graciela’s eyes widened. “You can’t tell them about this! They can’t find us!”
“They want to help,” Nerissa said. “Nobody likes the bad pink man and the vampires.”
“You have to promise me that you won’t tell them that you know me.” Graciela was now glaring at the girl. She had met her accidentally on one of her excursions through the wilderness. Nerissa was different than the other kids in town. She didn’t know who Graciela was at first, and when she found out she didn’t once treat her differently. Not even because she was a vampire. Often times, she scared people away because of her skin and fangs.
“No buts Nerissa! I won’t be your friend anymore if that bad man finds my mom. I don’t want her to die, okay? Do you want your mom to die?” Nerissa shook her head slowly. “Then don’t let mine die, please.”
“Ok. I promise, I won’t. I still want to help. Is there something I can do?” Nerissa asked.
“Stay away for now. You can get hurt. Didn’t you see the signs?” Graciela asked. “If you’re seen with me, they’ll hurt you.”
“I’m not scared of them! I won’t let them hurt you!” She stomped her foot down. “I don’t care what you say, I will find a way to see you again.”
“You’re as stupid as my brother is.” She shook her head. “You’re ging to get yourself killed.”
“No.” She shook her head. “I’m going to help you, I’ve already made up my mind. I’ll be back tonight with some supplies, okay?”
“Be careful,” Graciela said. “I don’t want you to get into trouble.”
“Tell your parents about my parents,” Nerissa said. “We have a big house and lots of land hidden in the forest. I think we can keep you safe.”
“Don’t make false promises. It’s mean.” Graciela frowned.
“I will be back tonight, okay?” She said.
“Fine, but don’t bring anyone with you, and make sure you aren’t followed. Oh and don’t bring too much. I can’t explain it to my parents otherwise.”
“Anything else?” Nerissa was already making a list of things she would bring Graciela, including a fluffy pillow from her room and a stuffed doll. It always helped when she was scared. Graciela shook her head. “I promise I’ll be back.”
“Be careful!” Graciela waved her off just before she heard the door lock click. it was her mother calling her back inside.
Nerissa Pine and her parents were made by Dandylion240!