“I’m telling you,” Charlotte said angrily. “What other choice do we have? it’s getting too dangerous out here, grandpa. We can’t stay.”
“You want to leave?” Alistair asked, coming into the room. “We’re so close to ending this war, and you want to abandon it?”
“Dad,” Charlotte said. She reached out to grab his hand. “The war is just beginning. I don’t know if we see the same thing at all. We were preparing to end Altiere. But dad…his army just keeps growing bigger and bigger.”
“We can handle him,” Astra said fiercely. “Today was a victory.”
“Because of Dio,” Charlotte answered. “Don’t act all tough and mighty. Okay? I have three children to worry about. I can’t keep living like this, whenever I turn around something bad is happening to someone I love. I will not lose my family over some petty war. Let them have Moonlight Falls.”
“No, absolutely not,” Alistair said forcefully. “I don’t now what Altiere wants, it’s obviously more than just Moonlight Falls…we’ve been underestimating him. if he can assemble so quickly now, imagine if he claimed Moonlight Falls? This is our home, we can’t give in. I promised my grandfather that I’d take care of Moonlight Falls.”
“Lucas would be proud of you, son.” Ethan ran his hand through his red hair. “But I think even he’d agree that it’s time to jump ship.”
“Grandpa, not you too. We can handle this,” Astra cried. “Why can’t you believe that? I’m going to defeat dad and-” Her voice dropped as she let out a strangled cry. Declan was her father. She wouldn’t ever give up on him, even if she had decided to wage war on him. She still loved him, even when he did everything that he had. He was still down there somewhere…he had to be! “We have to stay.”
“Can you give us a moment?” Alistair asked. Dionysus and Ethan nodded, taking a step back to coo over Waverly in his crib.
“Daddy please,” Charlotte begged. “Just listen to me. You and Astra are holding on to some pipe dream! Declan isn’t going to change his mind and come running back into our lives. He’s a traitor. He made his intentions clear.”
“He raised us,” Astra said. “You have to feel something…”
At one point, Charlotte had considered Declan more of a father to her than Alistair himself. He was there for her, when Alistair was locked in the lair. Now, he was her enemy. She didn’t have the luxury of contemplating it. He was an unforgivable beast. “No. I don’t. He’s a piece of shit. Okay? He stepped on us. He stepped on dad. You weren’t there! He led Altiere right into our house. He was going to let him take Adeline, if Altiere hadn’t decided she wasn’t worth the trouble anymore. And you dad…you have this great guy behind you.” She motioned to Burke in the back of the room. “He has never left your side…for 10 years. And what do you do? You’re holding on to some stupid hope that Declan will change his mind. He won’t.”
“Enough!” Alistair boomed. Charlotte shrunk back, startled. he had never lost his cool like this. “Do not act like you know everything, Charlotte. I have been here way before you were even born. I dealt with Damian, I dealt with the coming of Altiere, I married Declan. Okay? There is far too much invested here for me to just up and leave. I refuse it.”
“Then maybe I’ll leave on my own, with Jeff and the kids. Whoever wants to come will come, that’s it. I can’t look over my shoulder anymore to save some place that is way passed redemption.” She shoved passed her father and walked away.
“What was that all about?” Caleb asked Jeff. “You pretending to not know me, I mean.”
“My wife doesn’t know about you, or my past. She knows about me having a deceased wife, but she doesn’t know anything about me being from another dimension,” Jeff said quietly.
“Your wife?” He asked. He couldn’t blame Jeff for moving on, he had done it himself too in another dimension. He was just curious who he had married.
“Yeah, the vampire. Charlotte. You were in that cage with my daughter, Graciela. And if you haven’t noticed, my son Pax has the same hair color as you.”
“Graciela is your daughter?” Caleb chuckled. “She’s quite the character. I like her a lot.”
“Thanks, she gets all of that from her mother. They’re both so tough. I just…I can’t tell Charlotte because she’d get angry at me for lying.”
“You have to be open and communicate in a relationship,” Caleb said.
“It’s different here. You married my calm and level headed sister. Charlotte is not like anyone I have ever met before. She’s intense. And besides, I lied to protect her. This Mason guy brought me to life and wanted me to destroy her family, well your family too I guess. It was never my intention to do that, but how would she take that information?”
“Oh, I see…” Caleb racked his brain for that name. Mason…Mason…where had he heard it before? Even the guys back at the castle were talking about him. “So what now?”
“Looks like Zayne granted my wish. I thought having you here would be the best course of action. You know bout this dimension stuff better than I do.”
As Charlotte walked passed the bathroom, Dionysus grabbed her arm and dragged her in. “Dio,” She huffed. “What the hell do you want?”
“To talk to you. You seem like the only rational one right now. I have the utmost respect for your dad, but he and Astra are holding on to some false hope about Declan. Even if they won’t admit it.”
“Yeah, well, I’m done. I have to move on. This is getting ridiculous.”
“Don’t give up, Moonlight Falls is worth protecting. We fought so hard for so long. One day, it’ll be a safe place to live again. But to save yourself, you’re willing to abandon these other people in need?” He waited for her to answer but she remained silent. “I trust that you’ll make the right decision, but there are other things I need to talk to you about. The first is Mason Moon.”
Charlotte groaned. “I hate that guy. He told me to say hi to Jeff or something. What does that mean?”
Dio frowned. “That’s the truth that he confessed to you about Jeff, so then…Astra could really be?” His hand flew up to his neck nervously. “He’s the one who brought Jeff here. that’s why.”
“Excuse me?” Charlotte demanded. “He brought Jeff here, and why is that?”
“Beats me,” he muttered.
“No it doesn’t Mr. Information Broker!” She glared at him. “Don’t lie to me, now.”
He seemed hesitant for a moment but answered anyway. “Mason wanted him to destroy you. That guy doesn’t like the Grays, all information points to that conclusion.”
“Excuse me?” She could feel the rage boiling inside her. “You mean to tell me that Jeff was sent by Mason? No. I refuse to believe that.”
“It’s the truth,” Dionysus said. “But as you can see, he didn’t act on it. He loves you. That’s why I hated him early on, because I knew he was a fraud. But he’s proven to me that the past doesn’t define who you are.”
“He lied to me, is what you’re saying?” She could feel the tears now forming at her eye lids. “And you did too, because you knew and didn’t say anything?” She took a step back. “I have been with him for more than a decade and he hasn’t told me at all? I need to go lie down before I walk up to him and seriously hit him.”
“Wait.” he grabbed her arm. “Don’t leave yet. One, Jeff truly does love you more than anyone in the entire world. That’s a fact. Two, I want to talk to you about some other things.”
“What?” Charlotte demanded. “What do you want from me?”
“Your sister,” He said carefully. “Do you know about what she and I did?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty obvious at this point. You two slept together. She’s 31, she can make her own decisions.”
“She doesn’t love me, but I love her. I’m not here asking about advice or anything, simply telling you that we didn’t use protection and the chances of her being pregnant with my child is very high. You know right now, it’s too early, but she may be.”
“What the hell?” She rubbed her temple. “I don’t really want any part of this.”
“You have to have a part,” He said. “Because I’m leaving. You won’t see me again. I have to do something. It’s complicated, but it’s for the betterment of everything. I don’t want my child to know about me. I don’t want them questioning where I went, none of that. Please.”
“So you’re just going to run away from your responsibilities?”
“No. Char, you don’t get it. I have something important I must do. I have to go home. Home home, not the forest with the elves…and besides Astra doesn’t care for me. She can’t even look at me anymore. I’m not going to be a part of this child’s life. it’s just impossible at this point. If you need me to be the bad guy, then fine. Pain that picture in their head.”
“This is all hypothetical, isn’t it?” Charlotte asked. “You don’t know for sure.”
“Well Mason told me that in the Castle, so excuse me for being cautious.” He fixed his shirt, by pulling it from the hem. “One more thing. It’s Camilla. She can shape shift into a cat.”
“She’s been travelling with me all this time, since Declan came. Her parents lived in the castle with Damian. They snuck her out, and told her to run. She found me, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. I can’t take her with me. It’s as impossible as having a family with Astra. Please, take care of her for me.”
“I have 3 kids, you have to be joking. I can’t take care of any more children. I just can’t.” She shook her head.
“Please,” Dionysus was near begging. “She’s a little hard to get used to, but hey, so are you…Camilla is a great kid. She’s smart, resourceful, can definitely handle herself. The most she’ll ask for is some ice cream. It’s her favorite dessert. And, she likes Pax a lot.”
“Can’t we just find her parents?” Charlotte asked.
“They’re dead,” Dionysus said. “She has no one, please Charlotte. You know what it’s like to feel alone. Don’t do this to her.”
She shut her eyes tightly and nodded. “Okay. Fine, she can stay with us.”
“Thank you. That’s all I ask.”
“He hugged me,” Astra whispered.
“Declan, you mean?” Alistair asked.
She nodded. “He said I was the only light he had and he was sorry for dragging me into this whole thing.”
“He did?” Alistair asked. He could feel his heart beating faster.
“Daddy, what if he’s still in there? What if he’s just doing this to protect us?”
“We can’t assume that.” His body was rigid as Astra leaned on him. But what if she was right? Declan had shown emotions…human emotions when he was with Astra. She was always his favorite, and he’d spoil her. Of course he would react to her. He felt the emptiness in his heart growing. For every terrible thought about Declan, he had a good one. Deep down, he still loved Declan. That was why he couldn’t say I love you to Burke. It wasn’t fair. “But, maybe that’s the case. But then what?”
“We can’t give up on him,” Astra said slowly. “I told him that this meant war, and I really meant it. If he hurts my family, I won’t hesitate to hurt him back. But I still think he’s there,deep down inside.”
“I don’t know Sweetheart.” He stroked her hair and kissed her forehead. “But it’ll all work out. I promise.”
Burke could feel the pit in his stomach growing as he overheard Alistair talking to his daughter. He knew it. The one thing stopping Alistair from letting Burke in was Declan. But, it was the opposite reasoning. He had thought that Alistair was scorned and didn’t want to get hurt again. It was because Alistair still had feelings for Declan. He could see how he tensed up, and the small glimmer of hope he got in his eyes as Astra told him that he had acted like the man they once knew. After ten years…Alistair would crawl right back to Declan? Burkke had been there for him the entire time. What about all of the times they had slept together? And just earlier as he lay with Alistair in his arms? Had it meant nothing to him? “I have to go,” Burke mumbled quietly as he pushed his way out of the bedroom and into the harsh cool air of the night.
As Dionysus rushed out of the house, he looked over his shoulder to make sure that Camilla had still been sound asleep. He didn’t want her to see that he had run off and left her. She’d hate him for it, he knew. But it was safer fr her in the long run. She couldn’t get mixed up in his business. “Dio, wait.” He heard her voice and he wanted to bolt. But his feet wouldn’t move and he looked at her.
“I just ant to say that I’m sorry. For what I did. I was being immature and stupid. I took advantage of your feelings for me and I threw myself at you. Part of me wanted to know what it felt like to be touched by someone who loved me. The other part of it was to get a rise out of Audric. Which is wrong, I know.”
“Well, has he contacted you? Scorned you for sleeping with his enemy?” Dionysus spat.
She shook her head sadly. “No.”
“So all of that wasn’t worth it, then?” He asked.
She let out a deep breath. “If I could take it back, I would.”
“You see, you just don’t get it. Having sex with you didn’t hurt me. I would let you use me all over again, whenever you wanted to. Because I love you and I can’t control my body when I’m near you. What hurts me is that you’d give up what we had in a heart beat, when I keep replaying the moment over and over again in my head.”
“Dionysus,” He corrected her coldly. “Dio is for people who actually care to know who I am.” he turned to leave. “Don’t worry. You will never see me again. That’s a promise.”