Camilla stared down at the pink haired boy sleeping on HER couch. She didn’t like strangers. Especially not ones that were like this kid. “Hey, wake up!” She snapped her fingers in front of his face. It was no use, he was out like a light. With a groan, she took a step back from his sleeping figure. “With all that noise they’re making up there, how could you not wake up?” She scrunched her nose up in disgust. Normally she’d have no problem staying in her cat form but there were things about that form…take for example the amplified hearing. She didn’t need to hear the things going on upstairs. She wasn’t born yesterday, she knew about things of that nature. Maybe not how it all worked, but enough.
Finally, having enough, she grabbed the boy’s hair and yanked on it. “Ouch!”
“Oh, now you’re awake.” She glared at him.
He let out a yawn and stretched his arms over his head. “That was rude.”
“If I had a dime for every time I was rude, I’d have enough to leave this place.”
Pax blinked and rubbed his eyes. “Hey! Wait a minute, what are you doing here? Dio! Intruder aler- mrph!”
She placed a pillow over his mouth. “I’m not an intruder. I live here with Dionysus.”
“He didn’t say anything about another person!”
She rolled her eyes and morphed into a tiny black cat. She crawled onto his lap and lay there. “You’re…ew! Gross! Get away from me!” He shooed her from her spot.
Returning to her normal state, she rolled her eyes. “Grow up.”
“I’m totally grown up! I bet I’m even older than you!” He glared at her.
“How old are you?” She pressed. “What was your name again?”
“My name is Pax. Jeez, I remembered your name. Camilla, I’m 10 years old.”
She smirked. “I’m eleven, which means you have to listen to me. I’m older than you.”
With an exasperated sigh, e launched himself from the couch and onto the floor. “No! This can’t be! A girl, older than ME! A cat girl too! Ew!”
“Cats are great.”
“Yeah, great for being annoying and scratching people.” He wanted to ask her why she had scratched Astra earlier, and why she was a cat in the first place, but his thoughts were interrupted by the growling of his stomach.
“Well, Pax. Come on, let’s get some food in that stomach. Normally I hide the good sweets, but since I’m way cooler than you, I’ll share some ice cream with you.”
Pax stood frozen in front of the fridge. “What?” She asked, spoonful of Strawberry ice cream. “I said you can have any flavor you want.”
“That is A LOT of ice cream…I’m getting brain freeze just looking at it.”
“I don’t work for free you know. Dionysus is lucky that he knows where to get all the ice cream from, otherwise I might be gone.”
“You must have all of the ice cream in Moonlight Falls in here. I don’t know if there’s any left.” His eyes glazed over each flavor. There were so many!
“Don’t just stare at them, take one.”
He shook his head firmly. “Mom says no ice cream for breakfast, and I’m a vampire anyway so I don’t really need to eat any…”
She raised a brow. “You mean your stomach was growling because…” She grabbed her arm. “Oh no, I offered you ice cream from my stash. Don’t even think about taking my blood!”
Dionysus stared at Astra’s sleeping figure. She was so beautiful. But, the wave of regret had already washed over him. Thinking with a clearer head, he realized the severity of the situation and just how stupid he had been. A bitter laugh escaped his lips. “I’m so stupid.”
How the hell could he let himself fall into a situation like this? There was no way that Astra was unattached from Audric. The man hadn’t made a big enough fuss. Her family…they would kill him for trying to take advantage of her. Even though this was what she wanted…His head was pounding. But, there was something else entirely that weighed down even more heavily on him.
“I love you,” He whispered as he watched her chest rise and fall with each rhythmic breath. But she hadn’t said it back to him last night. He had many flings in his day, even hanging out at that supernatural lounge on weekends…Then, he met Astra and realized he could relax. He didn’t have to look to fleeting one night stands to feel alive. He had lived for thousands of years. It was his curse, but never had he actually been in love. It was all fun and games to him. He loved her, and she slept with him…what? To get back at Audric for something? Though not blood, at least conventionally, Dionysus considered Audric his brother. At one point in time. He despised the man but he never wanted to take what was his.
Anger was written on his face. “You used me. I would have given you anything you wanted, and you used me. The worst part of it, was that I knew and I let you use me. I let it freaking happen because I thought you were so perfect.” He headed to the dresser and put some clothes on. The kids were probably awake by now and he’d have to make breakfast for them. He looked at Astra one last time, an insurmountable pain rising in the pit of his stomach.
Camilla looked at Dionysus. She could sense that something was wrong, but she knew not to ask. “Really Camilla? For breakfast?” She nodded, stuffing more ice cream into her mouth. “You’re going to have so many cavities, and we can’t exactly go see a dentist.” He opened the cupboards for some plates. “How about a real breakfast? What would you like Pax?” There was no answer. He looked to Camilla.
“Don’t look at me, he’s still sleeping.” She shrugged. Dionysus peered over the couch, to see the boy huddled up nursing his thumb.
“Dio, she bit me!” Pax cried, a tear staining his cheek.
“Camilla!” He tried his hardest not to yell. “Why would you do that?”
“He was going to bite me, even after I offered him ice cream. I did it before he could do it to me.”
“I wasn’t going to bite you!” Pax cried from the couch. “I don’t drink from living things.”
“Oooh…” She rubbed the back of her neck nervously. “I uh…sorry. You were walking towards me, I thought…”
“Not everyone is out to get you,” Dionysus cut in. “You need to be nice. These people are on our side.”
“Yeah, that girl is really on your side.” She didn’t mean it maliciously, but it stung Dionysus. He tried to ignore it, she was eleven and had no idea what was going on between them. Did she hear the two of them last night? “She seems like a really good friend of yours.”
“What?” Astra had come down the stairs and was staring at Pax who had easily forgiven Camilla and was sitting across from her. He wasn’t one to hold grudges. He saw the good in everyone.
“She’s the cat that bit you,” Pax said. Camilla seemed unphased. Astra frowned. It was all too much for her to take in right now.
“You and Dio are good friends, huh? Like reaaaaaally good friends.”
“Camilla,” Dionysus said angrily. “That’s enough, leave Astra alone.”
Astra’s face was red and she was looking everywhere but at him.
“Of course they’re good friends. They knew each other even before I was born. Thats like ten years,” Pax said. “Maybe more.”
Camilla rolled her eyes at his innocence. “I hope this isn’t going to be a habit.”
“It’s not,” Dionysus said quickly. Sometimes her maturity even amazed him. “Astra and Pax are good friends of mine but I have to put us first.”
Astra let out a deep breath. “We should probably leave, Pax. Your mom must be worried.”
“Aww, but Dio was going to make breakfast! He makes the best plasma pancakes. You have plasma in this house, right?”
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” Astra began. “Your parents must be worried sick.”
Dionysus stood up. “Ten more minutes won’t kill you. Let me make the kid some pancakes. Have a seat, I can make you some breakfast too.”
“No thanks. I’m not hungry.” He walked passed her, into the kitchen. She couldn’t look at him and he wouldn’t gaze at her. She regretted it, he could tell by her demeanor. it had meant so much to him. He thought that by giving up her first time to him that she was invested in it. He hadn’t capped Astra for the cheap thrills kind of girl. But hey, he guessed that’s what this world did to a person. Just look at how mature Camilla was. It was because she was forced to grow up.
Astra sat, drumming her fingers against her exposed thighs. She needed to get back home. The anxiety of everything had been creeping up on her. That passionate night…was it worth all this? She could tell by Dionysus’ demeanor that she had hurt him. He could see right through her, yet he still tried his hardest to make her comfortable. He treated her like a queen when all she thought she deserved was to be treated like some mistress that would be thrown away later. She felt the seat shift and looked to see the man in question. “You want to talk about last night?”
She looked down. “Not really. No.”
“Just tell me one thing. I think you owe me that much.” She didn’t answer. If he asked her if she loved him, how could she look him in the eye and say that when she woke up she was thinking of Audric? “What’s going on between you and Audric? I want the truth, not some lie.”
She felt her throat closing. This was too much for her. She attempted to get up but he grabbed her arm. “Don’t do this to me and walk away.”
“Why not? You did it to me,” She said coldly.
“Don’t pretend that you’re a saint in all of this.” He felt his voice rising. “I left to protect you and your family. You were the one who made it clear that you wanted Audric. What happened? He turned out to be everything I told you he was? Or, are you just sleeping with me to get back his attention?”
She yanked her arm from his grasp. “Don’t pretend like you know me.”
“You have no right to play with someone’s emotions because my brother is doing it to you.” But he wouldn’t get any more out of her.
She walked over to Pax. “Come on, we have to leave”
Jeff held Waverly tightly to him. “We’ll find him, Char.”
“He’s with Astra, he should be fine,” Alistair said, trying to hold back his own worry. “She’s become really good with a wand.”
“Dad, I know tht you’re trying to help but my son is missing!” Charlotte tried to reign in her breathing but it was impossible. “No, this can’t be happening. I can’t lose him.”
“Babe,” Jeff reached out to her, stroking her cheek with his hand. “It’ll be fine.”
“Fine? It won’t be fine! Stop acting so damn calm!” He was just as worried as she was, but Charlotte expressed enough for the both of them. He was more level headed, thinking of the possibilities of where he could be.
“Ok, I’m going to look for him,” Jeff said.
“Me too,” Charlotte agreed.
“No.” Alistair shook his head. “Not both of you. Graciela and Waverly need their parents. Let me go.”
“You’re the one with the biggest target on your back,” Ethan interjected. “Absolutely not.”
“This is my fault. I should have been protecting you all. It’s my job. I’m still the keeper,” He answered. “I will find Pax and Astra. It’s my job. You guys keep an eye on Graciela and Waverly. Our efforts should be concentrated on Declan.”
“Daddy…” Charlotte grabbed his arm. “I get it, I really do. But that’s my son and I will not sit back while he’s out there!” She tugged on his arm. “Let’s go.”