“Please,” Justine begged. “What is one more child going to hurt?”
Jeff stared at the woman, trying to figure out her angle, if she had one. “There are four kids, a toddler and three adults here. I cannot take anymore people into my house.”
“He’s a baby, same age as Waverly. It’s not fair to him,” Justine said. “He deserves a good family.”
“You can take care of him,” Jeff argued.
“He’s a supernatural, from Moonlight Falls. It’d be best if he grew up in the company of other supernaturals,” Justine answered.
“How do you have a baby from Moonlight Falls if it’s sealed off?” Jeff asked.
“Gregg has been living here for months. He was abandoned by his pack. Do you know what happens to a werewolf who has lost it’s pack?” Jeff shook his head. “He has no one left to turn to. If I left him there, he’d be on his own. It’s like exile.”
“Who would exile a toddler?” Jeff asked. Though, he was sure Justine was trying to pin that on him, by not accepting the boy into his home.
“Some idiot,” Justine muttered. “Probably mad at the kid’s parents or something. All I know is that Audric said he stays here and I think he’d be best in this household.”
“Absolutely not. I can’t do it. We’re cramped as it is.” Jeff shook his head.
“Where is Charlotte, I bet she’d-” But the blue haired woman was cut off by the loud ringing of the bell.
“I got it!” Caleb called out.
“Astra, right?” Caleb gave her a warm smile. She returned it with a nervous one of her own.
“Yeah.” She nodded and tugged at the sleeves of her shirt. “Is uh…Charlotte home?”
Caleb shook his head. “No, I’m sorry. She took the kids out for some bonding time today.”
“Oh…” Her voice trailed off. “I just wanted to talk to her about something. That’s all.”
“Can I help?” Caleb asked. “I know I’m new here, but I’ve been alive for awhile, so I kind of have some experience.”
“Oh, yes. Audric explained everything to me. I’m sorry this keeps happening to you, you must not be too thrilled about it, huh?”
“You’re the first person to assume that. Everyone thinks I’m glad for another chance, and I suppose I should be.”
“For what reason? You must have had a family before this, and you were torn from them. Twice.” She shook her head. “I don’t see how that’s a good thing that you get to live on but your family is gone.”
He sighed. “It’s not like that. It’s never that simple, you should now that.” He shook his head. “Please, come in. Jeff is home. Maybe you’d like to speak to him?”
She shook her head. “No. It’s okay. I’ll just give Charlotte a call later. Thank you.” She gave him a small wave and stepped away from the house. Caleb frowned. She was so cynical.
“What is he doing?” Jeff asked in shock. “How can a toddler move like that?”
“He’s a werewolf. Audric thought it best not to suppress his instincts. I’m not equipped to deal with something like that,” She answered. “I am more than willing to stay here, or come around as often as you’d like me to.”
“We have no werewolves here,” Jeff answered. “What good will we do? Ask Adeline, she’d be excellent.”
Justine shook her head. “Gregg and Waverly are about the same age. It’s good to keep them together, because they’ll both need to socialize. Look around you, we’re isolated.”
Jeff sighed. “Why do you do this to me, Justine?” He ran a hand through his hair. “Charlotte is either going to be really happy, or really upset.” He looked at Justine. “You better be here evryday to help with the kids.”
“Of course, until Madam Astra’s children are born. Then, I believe Audric would have me stay there,” She replied.
“Madam Astra?” Jeff tried to process that. It was so strange.
“Oh right. Well, Audric is in charge here, and Astra is like his first lady of sorts. No? I just want to show her the proper respects.” Justine shrugged. “I can see how that’d be weird to you. I shall introduce the children to each other, yes?” Jeff nodded. “Thank you! This will mean everything to this young man’s life.”
“More kids?” Caleb grinned. “That’s exciting.”
“Is it?” Jeff rubbed his forehead. “It’s like an orphanage in here.”
Caleb let out a laugh. “I thought you wanted a big family?”
“Yeah, of humans.” He turned to his friend. “I just don’t know how to deal with vampire urges, and werewolf instincts. Sometimes, I feel so inadequate because I don’t know these things.”
“The children adore you, especially Graciela. She would be devastated to hear you say this” Caleb responded. “But I understand you wanting to feel more in the loop. Why not take the time to learn more about their supernatural qualities?”
“Charlotte was teaching me, but she’s angry with me. I blew it big time.”
“Mason has been causing trouble in my family for a long time,” Caleb said. “When my younger brother graduated from college, he went missing. It turned out that Mason kidnapped him and wiped his memories. He brought my imaginary friend to life. It was a mess. But, we got through it. We pulled together as a family and stopped it.”
“It’s not that simple. How can I get through to Charlotte? Lisa was different. We fought, but I talked to her and we got through our problems. Charlotte is guarded. I can’t get passed that wall. Damn it, Caleb! I can’t live in a world where she wants nothing to do with me. I need her in my life.”
“Well, then just tell her that,” Caleb answered, as if it was so obvious. “It’s what I told your sister when we fought, and we were so strong.”
“Thank you,” He mumbled. “For never giving up on my family when we needed you most.”
He shook his head. “No. Thank you for allowing me into your family. Even now.”
Jeff smiled at his kids. He missed them, even if they were only gone for a few short hours. “Did you guys have fun?”
“Yeah, but I don’t think that Camilla did, dad. What should I do about that? I tried to make her smile, but she didn’t seem like she wanted to be there with us,” Pax replied.
“It’s not us,” Graciela answered, sticking her head under the bed to make sure the darkness wasn’t there. She saw small shadows, but nothing too monstrous. She could deal with the small ones. “She misses Dio, can’t you tell?”
“Well yeah, I miss him too, but it’s okay. Mom said so. He’s doing something really important.” Jeff admired Pax’s optimistic personality, but wondered if it would get him into trouble one day. He hoped not.
“We just have to work extra hard to make her feel welcome, alright?” Jeff asked. The kids smiled and nodded.
“Nerissa too, right dad?” Pax asked and Jeff nodded.
“Of course. Gregg too.”
“Gregg?” Graciela asked. “Is that the baby that Justine was playing with? He’s weird.”
“He’s a werewolf from Moonlight Falls. He’ll be staying with us, so be nice to him, okay?”
“A werewolf?” Graciela groaned. “Gross, more people in this house.”
“He’s a baby,” Pax said, sticking his tongue out at her. “Now Waverly can have a best friend like me and you do. That’s so cool!”
She shrugged. “As long as he doesn’t bother me when he’s older, it’s fine.”
Jeff kissed Graciela’s head. “Thank you, dear. He is just as lonely as Camilla and Nerissa. You all have family here, but they don’t. We’re here for them, right?”
“Right dad.” She nodded. “It’d be cool to have a werewolf to kick Declan’s butt! I hate that guy! Payback for kidnapping me, jerk.”
“I’m going to protect you this time,” Pax answered. “And Nerissa too.”
“Mr. Gray!” Nerissa held a book up. “Can you please read me a story? Mrs. Gray went out and Caleb is playing with Waverly.”
Charlotte had went out? For what? He couldn’t go after her when he had the kids to worry about. He took the book from her hands. “You can just call me Jeff, and my wife, Charlotte. We’re family now.”
She nodded. “Okay, Jeff. That sounds so weird!”
“Right?” Graciela hopped onto the bed and motioned for her friend to join her. “Staying for the story, Pax?”
He shook his head. “No. I’m going to find Camilla and see what she’s doing.”
“You’re worried about her, right?” Nerissa smiled sadly at him.
He nodded. “But don’t worry, I’m going to get her to smile for all of us.”
“It’s ok, Ner. Really,” Graciela whispered to her and squeezed her hand tightly.
“Hi girl!” Pax kneeled down to pet Camilla, but she backed away from his touch. “Aww come on, I was just joking.” Camilla curled up into a ball and laid on the floor. “The silent treatment is no fair! “Please change so that we can talk.”
“What?” She looked up at him expectantly.
“You mean…you don’t have to change to talk!?” His eyes widened. “Woah!”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course not. I just choose not to in case I have to stay incognito for something,” She replied.
“You’re safe here,” Pax said.
“Am I?” Pax reached out and pet her head, this time she didn’t move away. “I have to turn into a cat to be left alone.”
“We don’t want to leave you alone,” Pax said. “Why would we? You’re so awesome to hang around with. But, if you want to be alone you can just say it. You don’t have to turn into a cat. I want you to be happy.”
“Well, I just want to take a nap.” She shut her eyes, and Pax stood up.
“Okay, well when you wake up we can read this new comic book that Audric gave to mom for me. It looks really cool. The main character is a vampire!”