“Well honey, what do you think?” Millie asked her daughter.
Harmony looked up with a vacant expression. This place was so much nicer than what she was used to. She should have been happy, but she wasn’t. “It feels kind of lonely. There’s no bad man, but there isn’t anyone else either. I miss grandpa and Ethan and Burke too.”
“Oh honey!” Millie began to stroke her daughter’s dark brown hair. The same hair that her father had. “You’ll get to see everyone again.”
“When?” She asked.
“Soon.” Millie nodded quickly. She hoped it would be soon… “Look at the bright side honey. We have a roof over our head, and we don’t have to hide. You can visit your cousins whenever you want and Camilla is here too. You’ll have a lot of fun, and you can go to regular school too.”
“School?” She tilted her head. She had read about it in her books but never attended it. Zayne and her mother had taught her everything that she thought she had needed to know. There was more? What more could she possibly learn?
“Yes.” She nodded her head. “Your Uncle Erik is going to teach you guys all at once, just like a real classroom. It’ll be fun.”
“Gross!” Harmony stuck her tongue out as Zayne came up behind Millie and hugged her tightly.
“Kiddo, don’t look at me like that. One day you’ll find someone that you’ll want to hug and kiss too,” Zayne said.
“No way. Not at this rate anyway. There’s no one here, not even some stupid boys. The only good part of being alone in the middle of nowhere,” Harmony grumbled.
“Sweetheart,” Zayne began. Harmony was like his own daughter, and he’d do anything for her. He loved her and her mother. “There is something about this place that will make you really excited.”
“I’m not convinced.” She shook her head.
Kneeling by her side, he began to talk quietly. “See mommy’s belly?” Harmony nodded, eyebrow raised. “There is a baby inside of it. This is where you get to be a big sister.”
Her eyes lit up, unable to hide her excitement. “Are you serious?” When Zayne nodded, she launched herself into his arms. “Yes, I get a baby sibling and a dad!” She covered her mouth once she uttered those words. “Zayne, I didn’t-”
“You want me to be your dad?” He whispered, shocked. He had never thought she would ever ask. She had called him Zayne, always. If he knew she had felt this way…
“I…” She bit her lip nervously and shot a glance at her mom who nodded encouragingly at her. “Yes, I always wanted you to be my dad.”
“Harmony, I love you and your mom so much. I will always be your dad, and a good one. I promise, okay?” Zayne kissed the top of her head and then pulled both her and Millie into a hug.
“Charlotte, listen to me!” Jeff’s shouts were lost to the angry vampire. How many times would he have to hear her yell at him? They had only just arrived and already she was attacking him. “I told you I would explain when we got here safely, right? We’re here, and I have a lot to say-”
“You have a lot to say?” She demanded. “You have a lot to say now! How many freaking years has it been Jeff? You were quiet this whole freaking time! The time for talking is over. You shut up and listen to me you son of a bitch!”
He had often gotten into arguments with Charlotte, that sort of came with the territory. but, never like this. She was livid, and he couldn’t really blame her. But they had a family together and kids to worry about. “Charlotte, I-”
“I said shut up!” Her glare was intense, enough to stop him in his tracks and they had been together for over a decade. “You really messed up this time, Jeff. How…how could you even do this? Mason Moon has been trying to destroy my family for years…I just…” How could she word this? She felt the frustration building up inside her. “You know what Declan did to my family, don’t you?”
“I am not Declan,” He said. “I’m not going to turn on you. I couldn’t do that to Pax, Graciela and Waverly. I love you and the kids.”
“Declan said that too. But he left anyway. Now dad is stuck in Moonlight Falls because he doesn’t want to give up on the man who destroyed us!” Charlotte could feel her hands shaking. “The signs were all there, and we were too naive to see it. I’m not going to fall for it again. I won’t allow you to… ” She couldn’t say it, because she knew Jeff would never hurt her children. Maybe her, but not her…their kids.
“Please don’t finish that sentence, Charlotte. You’ve known me for a long time. I would never hurt you or our family,” He said. “Just let me explain.”
“There’s nothing to explain.” She took a step back from him. How could she let herself fall for that trap again? What did she do to deserve the endless betrayals? A mom, step dad and now husband, who wanted nothing more than to hurt her.
“Yes there is! I never worked with Mason. Okay? He brought me to life, and told me that if I did what he said and destroyed you and Adeline, that he would reunite me with my family…from the other dimension.”
“Other dimension? No. Nobody said anything about that. Dio said that Mason brought you here! I thought he meant from Lucky Palms or something. You had another family, before this and you didn’t move on from them? You were forced to…it makes sense.”
“Charlotte, I fought my feelings for you as hard as I could. I didn’t want to have another family. I didn’t want to go through losing them all over again. But, you made it so damn hard! I wanted to be there for you, and I fell in love with you. It was never my intent to hurt you or your family, but you know what Mason is capable of! I didn’t…imagine being in my shoes, waking up in a world..not, a dimension that you don’t know about. Your family exists, but not as you know them. I was planted into this supernatural war zone. Do you really think that hurting you was on my mind?”
“I believe that you’d want to see your wife again. And kids.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Tell me you wouldn’t.”
“I care for Lisa.” Charlotte could feel the pieces of her heart shattering once again. The glue he so carefully used to put it back together had come undone. “But I love you. There’s a difference. I was happy with her, but with you…I’m scared. I’m angry. I’m excited. She made life easy for me, but you…you make me feel alive. I wake up every morning worried…not that you can’t handle yourself and some evil vampires are going to destroy you. But that, this will all be just a dream and I won’t have you in my life anymore. That I’ll wake up next to Lisa again. I don’t want to go back. My kids and my family meant the world to me, but that book is closed and I have no intention of revisiting it. I love where I am, and who I’m with.”
Unable to sort her feelings, Charlotte was simultaneously angry and ecstatic to hear him say those words. She wanted to throw her arms around him and tell him to make things better, but she just couldn’t. She needed time to think, and Jeff made that so hard. She couldn’t hear her thoughts over her beating heart. “I need to see my sister. We can finish this discussion later.”
“Char! Don’t leave!” He called after her, but she ignored it and kept walking.
“Well look who finally decided to visit,” Adeline said. “I thought we were reliving our teens when you hated me for no reason.”
“No reason? It’d be cool if you told me that you were working against Altiere the whole time. You and dad keep a lot of secrets.” She shook her head. “I’m getting really tired of that.”
“Cheer up. Look at this place. it’s amazing. We can raise our children here, and have a real family.” Adeline rubbed her stomach. “I’m so happy that I have a place where my daughter will be safe.”
“Your weird powers let you know you’re having a girl?” Charlotte snickered. “What can’t you do?”
“Rush into dangerous situations head on without getting scared. You do that pretty well. I heard you were fact to face with Damian.”
“Yeah, he was spewing some nonsense about darkness that Graciela sees. It’s just a small fear that she’ll outgrow. I don’t trust a word he says.” Charlotte shook her head.
“Yeah you do, that’s why you’re here.” She motioned for her sister to come in. “Erik is making lunch, why don’t you join us. He used plasma in all sorts of foods so that I can enjoy the foods that he eats.”
Charlotte followed her sister inside. Adeline and Erik were really happy together…being apart for so long, she hadn’t realized it. She was oblivious to a lot of things, but someone had to take care of the Altiere threat. it seemed like no one even gave a damn. Astra was playing hookup with Audric and Dionysus, Millie was playing house with Zayne, her dad was playing hard to get with Burke, Ade was playing the newlywed game with Erik. it was ridiculous, the burden was too big to fall just on Charlotte’s shoulders. “Hey Erik, how are you?”
“Charlotte! Fancy seeing you here. it’s good to see you. How are the kids?” Erik turned around and waved before going back to opening the plasma pack laid out in front of him.
“You don’t eat the plasma, do you?” Charlotte scrunched her nose up.
“Of course not. I feed it to Ade, and since she’s pregnant I don’t want anything to happen to our daughter. Did she tell you it was a girl? And a fairy like me?” The excitement on his face brought a smile to Charlotte’s.
“Ade is a purebreed vampire. Altiere must be pissed that she’s quote, wasting her genes. She wouldn’t have had the problem I would have had with my kids if they were humans. Her body is physically stronger than mine, she can withstand more.”
“More than you?” Erik laughed. “Damn, she must be indestructible then, because you are tough.”
“Well, someone has to be,” Charlotte replied.
“Why are you really here?” Adeline asked. “You know I love you, but you have a habit of showing up when you want things.”
“You got the good powers, so stop complaining.” Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Have you found anything with those seers tales?”
“No. It’s impossible to find the endings,” Erik said. “It’s really frustrating. 10 years, and still nothing.”
“We have to keep at it, babe,” Adeline said. “Don’t worry, we’ll get it. We have Audric on our side now.” She turned back to Charlotte. “I’m going to look into this darkness that Graciela is scared of. It’s probably just a fear like you said, but if Damian noticed it, it wouldn’t hurt to double check.”
Charlotte nodded. “Thank you.”
“What else is bothering you, hmm?” Adeline didn’t have to use her powers to sense the gloom coming from her sister. “You and Jeff fought…about Mason.”
“Leave me alone,” Charlotte mumbled. “I don’t want to talk about it. I just came here to forget.”
“Forget what? Jeff? You can’t do that. He loves you.” She grabbed her sister’s hands. “Remember that day we first met him, and you couldn’t read him? I could tell that he had a connection to Caleb Gray. I could tell that he didn’t belong here. But as time passed, you made him belong here. You strengthened his confidence and purpose. He made you happy. He loves you, with all his heart.”
“You knew too?” Charlotte pulled her hands out of her sister’s grasp. “You freaking knew since we were teenagers?” But she didn’t want to face this right now either. So she did what she had wanted to do from the beginning and ran. She ran from her problems. It was tiring having to face it all the time. Adeline had no right to keep this from her, but if Charlotte stayed things would get really bad.
It wasn’t until late at night that Charlotte returned home. She had spent her day roaming around her new home. She’d have to ask Audric what he officially called it. She doubted it was just referred to as Safe Haven. It didn’t matter, she guessed. “How are you doing Camilla?” Charlotte asked the young girl.
“I’m trying to sleep, leave me alone,” She mumbled.
“No she’s not mom,” Graciela called from the top bunk. “She was reading some comic book or something.”
Camilla pulled her covers up, covering whatever Charlotte may have been able to see. “Am not!”
“Comic books are so cool,” Charlotte said. “I love to read them with Pax.”
“That’s why she’s doing it,” Graciela said.
“I am not!” Camilla cried. “It’s boring being in this stupid house all day! I don’t even know anyone here.”
Charlotte pulled the covers back, and Camilla watcher her in anger. But she didn’t stop the woman. “How about I take you girls out tomorrow. We can bring Nerissa too, and have a girl’s day out.”
“That would be good mom,” Graciela said. “Nerissa is sad about leaving home.” Charlotte looked over to the girl who was nestled on a bean bag chair in the corner, fast asleep. Her home had quickly become an orphanage. Nerissa’s parents had begged Charlotte to take their daughter. They claimed that if it would save Moonlight Falls in the long run it was worth it. But frankly, Charlotte just questioned their skills as parents (though she could understand not wanting a child to grow up in a world run by someone like Declan).
Charlotte reached for the comic book and smiled. It no doubt belonged to Pax, she could see his name scribbled across the top in black marker. “There’s three parts, and it’s so much more fun to read together.” She smiled at the two girls. “We can each read one section.”
“No thanks,” Camilla said.
“No thanks? What? Aw man, I so wanted to know what happens at the end but Pax much rather read these books with his dad now. Not fair.”
“Mrs. Gray.” Camilla reached over and closed the book in Charlotte’s hands. “I’m not an idiot. I know you’re doing this because you were yelling at your husband this morning.”
“It’s not like that,” Charlotte said.
“It’s okay. My mom used to do that with my dad all the time. before all of this.” She smiled at Charlotte despite herself. “I don’t like it when it’s quiet around here.”
“Neither do I,” Charlotte mumbled.
Then Camilla leaned up and began to whisper in her ear. “Graciela and Nerissa are like sisters. I don’t want to hang out with them tomorrow, I’ll be by myself.”
Charlotte frowned for a moment, but then grinned again. “Easy peasy, sweetheart.” She looked up at Graciela who was staring at the ceiling. “Gracie, Harmony is coming out with us on girl’s day tomorrow.”
“That’s a good idea too.” She nodded. “I’ll remind you to call Aunt Millie in the morning.”
“thank you dear.” She kissed her hand. Then, she knelt by Camilla’s be and kissed her forehead. “If you ever want to read comics with me, I’m here. Good night girls.”
“Don’t turn off the lights!” Graciela called after her mom, before hearing the door close.
“I can see in the dark when I’m a cat,” Camilla said. “Nothing will get passed me so relax.” She tossed a pillow up at Graciela, barely making it the height of the bed. “Go to bed.”
“You too,” Graciela replied. “Goodnight.”