Warning: Profanities ahead.
“Charlotte?” Jeff asked, watching his wife frantically toss clothes into a suitcase. “What are you doing?”
“Get the children. NOW. We’re leaving,” She told him.
“Leaving? Leaving to where exactly? And how are we doing that?” Jeff asked. “Oh, and why?”
“He’s here,” Charlotte said angrily. “Mason Moon is here. I don’t want him near my kids. Audric is working with him!”
“No, that’s not right. Why would Audric be working with Mason?” Jeff asked. He could feel the anger washing over him. He would not allow that man to ruin his marriage anymore.
Charlotte crossed her arms over her chest defiantly. “Because he’s a fucking asshole and a liar who doesn’t care about us. I had that meeting with my sisters earlier. We all think it’s time to leave. Even Adeline.”
“And Astra agrees with you?” He asked.
“Of course not, why would we tell her?” Charlotte asked. “Do you know what she would have said if she was there this morning? She would have told us that we were wrong for mistrusting Audric. She would tell us that he’s perfect and everything he does is for our own good. She’s like brainwashed or something. I don’t know who Astra even is anymore.”
“Babe,” Jeff pulled her close to him. “She has a right to know that we’re leaving, doesn’t she?”
“If we tell her our real reservations about him, she’ll tell him and he’ll try to stop us,” Charlotte answered. “We have kids to worry about. We can’t play this game with him any longer. I don’t want to.”
“She’s your sister,” Jeff tried again. “What if she’s in trouble?”
“I don’t…I don’t know. I’m sure she wouldn’t listen to reason. To just give up Audric and walk out of his life like that? No, she wouldn’t.” She cupped his face in her hands. “It’s like her telling me to leave you behind. I won’t.”
“If I was hurting you, I’d want you to leave,” He whispered back to her. “I wouldn’t be able to stand it.”
“But Audric is not you,” She answered softly. “And I’m not Astra. Adeline, Millie and I will be paying him a visit later. We’re telling him that we’re leaving, because he did say if we ever wanted to we could. We won’t be here tonight, so get the kids ready.”
“Charlotte, don’t be hasty.” He held her tightly. “I know you don’t like Mason, but where can we go? Do you know? Don’t make rash decisions when we have 4 kids, 2 toddlers and Caleb relying on us.”
“I want to go to Moonlight Falls, but I know Audric won’t allow it,” She replied. “So, somewhere with other people. Where our kids can talk to other kids their age and where supernaturals are accepted.”
“Does a place like that exist?”
“Somewhere, it does. Jeff, please.” She leaned up and captured his lips with hers. “We fought too hard to let Audric dictate what we do. We need to get out of here in order for our kids to have a decent shot at life. I promised Dionysus that I would take care of Camilla, and I promised Nerissa’s parents that I’d take care of her. I know this is a place where it seems safe, but the isolation can’t be healthy. Just look at Astra. Okay?”
“Okay,” Jeff whispered. “I’ll have the kids pack up. Anything else?”
“I won’t argue with Audric,” She promised. “I’ll play nice. I’ll ask to leave and then we’ll be gone by nightfall. In and out. And when we’re somewhere safe, like really safe….” She bit her lip and looked up at him. “We can get married.”
“I’m looking forward to that,” He whispered, as if saying it any louder would prevent it from coming true.
“I just…I want my dad there, you know? And Ethan. Dionysus, too.” She hugged her arms around herself.
“Maybe there’s a way to get your dad and Ethan there,” Jeff replied. “There must be.”
“I don’t know, Moonlight Falls is sealed off.” She walked over to the suitcase and threw it on the bed. “Pack this up, okay? Tell the kids too. I’ll be back.”
“Don’t do anything stupid, Charlotte,” Jeff warned.
She waved him off. “Ade will be there.” That wasn’t reassuring to him at all.
“Dad?” Pax asked. “Why are we leaving?”
“Because he’s smart,” Camilla answered. “We can’t stay in this place.”
“Why not?” Pax asked. “I like it here.”
“There are no other people, nimrod.” She glared at him. “I don’t like that Audric guy either.”
“Your mom feels the same way, Pax. We think it’ll be better to go somewhere with more people. Your cousins are coming too. It’ll be fine.”
“Harmony too?” Pax asked.
Jeff nodded. “Everyone. We’re leaving.”
“Does everyone include that lilac haired freak?” Camilla asked.
“No, Audric is not coming,” Jeff replied. “And Astra might not be either.”
“But Aunt Astra…” Pax looked up at his father sadly. “Why not?”
“I don’t know, bud.” Jeff ruffled his hair. “One day it’ll make sense.”
“We’re all packed,” Graciela answered, coming into the room followed by Caleb.
“What about Waverly and Gregg?” Jeff asked.
“I packed everything I thought Charlotte would need,” Caleb answered. “But about leaving, I wanted to talk to you.”
“What?” Jeff asked. “I know it’s hasty but it’s the right choice.”
“I’m not saying it’s not the right choice.” He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “It’s just not the right one for me. I belong here.”
“You’re family,” Graciela said, coming to Caleb’s side. “You have to come with us.”
“Ela,” Jeff said, with a stern look. “Why don’t you go help Pax pack?”
She shook her head. “No, I’m mad at him.”
“Why now?” Jeffrey rubbed his temple. Why couldn’t being married to a vampire and having three vampire children be easy?
“Because,” She answered as if it was obvious. “Everyone rather hang out with him than me. So forget him. I have uncle Caleb. And he can’t stay!”
She grabbed onto his arm. “Please uncle Caleb, pleaseeeeee. Don’t stay!”
“Ela,” Jeffrey began again, but Caleb gave him a look that shut him up.
“Gracie,” Caleb told her. “I love you. I really do.”
“Then why aren’t you coming with me?” She asked.
How many times did this same scene have to play in his life? There was always someone begging him to stay, and every time he ended up disappointing them. He held her hand, willing her to look into his eyes. “Gracie, honey. My dad is here.”
“Your dad?” Both she and her father answered at the same time.
Caleb looked up at Jeffrey and nodded. “Mason Moon is my father. Biologically at least.” He bit his lip thinking about it. He couldn’t for the life of him remember where he had heard it, but deep down inside he knew it was true. Levi wasn’t his biological father. It didn’t mean he loved him any less.
“Mason Moon?” Jeffrey grabbed hold of the dresser behind him to steady himself. “I’m going to need a minute to process this.”
“That mean guy?” Graciela asked. “That doesn’t matter! Mom doesn’t hang around her mom.”
“I don’t know anything about that,” Caleb told her. “But Mason has always been around. I think it’s time I get to know my dad.”
“He’s evil,” Jeffrey told him. “You know that. You know what he did to my family. How do you not write off a guy like that? Frankly, my daughter is right. Mason and Aria are the same. We don’t want anything to do with him.”
“So I shouldn’t?” Caleb pondered. “He’s my dad.”
“Uncle Caleb…” Graciela cried out. “But the darkness!”
“It isn’t real,” He told her calmly. “You can fight it off on your own. You don’t need me.”
“You don’t need Mason,” Jeff replied. “Do you?”
“I’ve lived two lifetimes without ever knowing who he truly was,” Caleb answered. “I hate him more than you do. That man erased my brother’s memory and kidnapped him. The thought of being related to him churns my stomach. But it changes nothing. Avoiding him won’t make him go away. I just want to understand him and why he does the things he does. So, if he’s here. I’m staying. I’m sorry.”
“Mom is going to flip,” Graciela said. “I’m just saying that now.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll explain it to her. Maybe she’ll understand if she hears it from me.”
“Uncle Caleb,” She said. “I love you okay, and if this is what you want to do then fine but I better see you again.”
“You will,” He promised. “I’ll be around.”
Charlotte crossed her arms over her chest. “All I’m asking for is a way out of here with my family.”
“And I will give you that,” Audric answered. “But you have to promise me that you and your children will not abandon the cause. Any of you.”
“What cause is this exactly, hmm?” Charlotte demanded. “Is it that pointless work you have Adeline and Erik doing for you? Or, is it us mindlessly following whatever you say?”
“You wanted a safe place, and I gave it to you,” He replied. “I’d hardly call that brainwashing.”
“Guys, please,” Astra begged. “Don’t fight. We can work this out.”
“We can’t, Astra,” Millie replied. “Not anymore. We’re passed that point. All I want is a place where I don’t have to look over my shoulder. Where my kids can grow up without having to sell their soul to someone or other!”
“She is correct,” Adeline asserted. “While we toil here, the threats of the guardians, Mason and even the vampires are still at large. Being here has put us to work on tasks that make absolutely no sense. I am pregnant and I will not sit back any longer if the world my child is born into is not changing.”
“I thought we would raise our kids together,” Astra said. “I’m having twins, and my sisters are pregnant. Your kids would get to hang out with my kids, Charlotte. We would do all of these family things together.”
“We can’t because of your fucking husband,” Charlotte spit out venomously. “Mason Moon, is where I draw the damn line. But hey, let’s not forget about the fact that he sealed us away from our father and grandfather! I want to get married with Dad walking me down the aisle. That can’t happen now!”
Adeline stood firmly by her sister’s side. She didn’t care for conflict, but there was no way around this fight. It was going to happen sooner or later. If only Astra could see it their way. “Settle down,” Audric replied. “Mason will not be a threat any longer.”
“He brought my husband from another dimension in order to destroy me. I don’t care what kind of power you have, he is twisted. He has this sick obsession with my family and I will not stay here with him.”
“See?” Astra said. “I told you that Mason would be a problem. Char, I fought him on that too.”
“Obviously it didn’t work, did it? Because his family doesn’t come first. Audric, when you come into this family, you get all of us. Not just Astra. You become the uncle to mine and my sisters’ children. You go to bat for us. You fight for us. Jeffrey, Erik and Zayne have. You?” If looks could kill, Audric would have been slain already. “You’re fucking pathetic. You can’t even keep a dimension under control, especially if you need help from someone like Mason.”
Astra watched as Audric fought with himself to remain calm. She stepped in front of him. “Don’t talk to him that way. Look at what he’s done for you. We have a safe place to live. You saw what we were in before.”
“We’re thankful for that,” Millie cut in. “We really are. But Charlotte is right. Now, he isn’t doing anything to help us. He has Adeline and Erik working like dogs, ignoring me and Charlotte completely. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of how you act now because of him.”
To Astra’s befuddled expression, Charlotte shook her head bitterly. “You’re so wrapped up in Audric land that you don’t even see what’s happening, do you? Pax is always asking me when you’re going to come and visit. He’s too afraid to come over here and deal with Audric and whenever we ask for you to come over, you have an excuse. Audric isn’t even here half of the time. But you rather stay in your massive house waiting for him than come and visit your nieces and nephews. Graciela? She’s given up on you. She doesn’t even ask how her Aunt Astra is doing anymore, but she always has questions about Adeline and Millie.” The room grew silent, and Charlotte could see the tears forming in her sister’s eyes. She didn’t regret going that far, because Astra had to see what was happening. “I don’t even feel like you’re my sister anymore.”
“Enough!” Audric boomed. “That is absolutely enough. How dare you come into my home that I offer so kindly to you and belittle my beloved.”
“Oh, boohoo. She doesn’t like to hear the truth? It hurts, doesn’t it? Imagine how my kids feel. How me, Millie and Adeline feel. You’re going to sit here and baby her.”
Astra sniffled. “I thought you changed, Charlotte. But you’re as big a bully as ever.”
“Are you fucking serious right now?” Charlotte demanded. Adeline put a hand on her shoulder, but she shook her off.
“Leave,” Audric commented. “Don’t come back to my safe haven. I’ve opened the doors of my world for you and you thank me by doing this? I apologize Astra, dear.”
“That’s all I fucking wanted, was a way out of this damn place.” She took a step backwards, sick with the image in front of her. “We’re all leaving tonight, Astra. You still have the opportunity to leave.”
“I’m not leaving him,” She responded.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Charlotte looked to her sisters. “Let’s get our stuff and head to the portal. You know where you want to go, right?”
Adeline nodded. “I know just the place.”