It was all over. Having sensed new presences, Adele had come to the Gray residence to see what had happened. She was overjoyed that she could talk to people from Moonlight Falls, even more curious about how they had all gotten through the walls of Fortitude undetected. “Magic,” Charlotte had told Adele. Obviously, she wasn’t buying it, but she was a patient woman. All she wanted to do was talk to the new arrivals. She needed to make sure that they would not put her people in danger, but also discuss any information they had both had. Alistair had said he’d talk to her about Altiere specifically. What would become of Declan, Charlotte didn’t want to think about. She didn’t care. He was a man she would never forgive. Even if his intentions were good, though she wasn’t sure they were, he had allowed his daughters to get into precarious situations (both Astra and Adeline, even her when she was younger) and had put her own kids in danger. Frankly, she didn’t even fully buy what Adeline had said, and Declan hadn’t backed up or dismissed her claims. There was no use trying to change the past, but it sucked thinking things were one way and then finding out they might have been totally different.
Jeff stroked Charlotte’s back lovingly. “Well…that was unexpected. Adeline? I didn’t see that coming.”
“I wanted my reunion with my dad to be happy. I don’t know what kind of shit show that was.” She buried her face into the pillow so Jeff wouldn’t see her tears.
“I know, I’m sorry,” He whispered. “But I think Adeline’s intentions were good. I’m not saying that’s the way to go about it, but…”
“We were supposed to be a unit. Dad and Ethan back in the Falls, you, me, Millie, Zayne, Ade, Erik, the kids…we had already lost Astra.”
“Well now she’s back, and with a cute son,” He said. “That’s something, right?”
“She supports Declan. She…” Charlotte clutched the bed sheets. “I expected it from her though, I’m even willing to forgive her because this has always been an Astra thing but Ade and I took so much time to get to where we are, were today. You know? I hated her, and I felt bad for years for dismissing her like some traitor, and I was right all along. How do you lie to someone and then look them in the face the next day, follow them to the other side of the world and then expect things to be okay? Let’s all just be a big happy family now? I can’t forgive her. Not now at least.”
“You don’t have to,” He whispered. His touch sent shivers up her back. “You have every right to be upset.”
She turned around to face him, her tear stained face breaking his heart. “I…I just want to be happy. Why can’t I be happy? My own family is just stomping on me left and right, and I have to stand strong and keep everything together. Millie is the only one who even called this morning, you know? Astra didn’t. Erik didn’t. He didn’t even apologize and I know he knew about this. Grandpa and dad would have been here if they weren’t carted off by Adele.”
“Zayne called me too,” He muttered. “They’re good people.”
“I know, we’re really lucky to have them both, aren’t we?” She grinned. “I mean, they did take the kids for a giant sleepover with Harmony. That’s been a live saver. I don’t want them to see me so upset. I want to be strong for them.”
“I don’t want Graciela near Declan, ever. Not after he kidnapped her,” He said. “But we have to explain to the kids what happened, they’ll have questions.”
“I know, but for now, can we please just lay here?” She shut her eyes, inhaling his scent.
“Yeah, after I ask you to marry me again,” He whispered.
Her eyes shot open. “What do you mean?”
“Before someone else comes out as a bad guy or someone gets sealed away, can we finally get married? A happy celebration for everyone to take their minds off of things? We’re in a safe place. I want you to be my wife.”
“And, I want to be your wife. Dad is finally here and that was the only reason I was still waiting. Why not?”
He kissed the top of her nose and grinned. “I’m gonna be a Gray.”
“You mean, you don’t want me to be a Bennett?” She asked, curiously.
“It’s not that.” He shook his head. “But I feel like a Gray already. We’ve been through so much with your family, well, they’re my family too.”
“My dad will be ecstatic to hear that. Really, it might be the one bright spot in his life right now.”
“I hope that he’ll be alright,” Jeff said. “Is he staying here?”
“He;s locked out of Moonlight Falls, which he isn’t happy about. It’s like they’re being quarantined, he feels liek crap that he can’t help them. Which means we have to solves things quickly so we can go back and save those people. But first…”
“You marry me and we figure out our family issues?”
She nodded. “Yeah. Exactly. I’m so attracted to smart men.” She let out a small giggle and kissed him, forgetting about the pain for a moment.
Alistair crossed his arms over his chest, looking to the others in the room with him. Astra hadn’t had to come with him, because Adele was sympathetic that she had a child to take care of. He was glad for that. While Adele seemed like a good woman, her questions were a little too intrusive. “My love life is off limits,” He said again.
“Will he be dangerous for us?” Adele asked finally, resolving to not having an answer to her previous question.
“I don’t think Declan can get access to any power without Altiere. He has powers, but I don’t know if he’ll try to take you down. I’m not sure where he stands if I’m honest with you,” Alistair said.
“Should I allow him to walk around freely?” She asked.
“Of course,” Alistair said. “You can’t lock him up.”
“And why not?” She asked.
“He’s a person. You don’t lock people up.”
“Do you think he can change?” Adele asked.
“I…I’m not so sure anymore.” He shook his head.
“Okay, thanks. You’re free to go.”
“That’s it…?” Alistair asked.
She nodded. “Yes, I will get the technical information about Moonlight Falls from Ethan. He seems very knowledgeable and a very agreeable man.” Alistair nodded. Yupp, definitely sounded like his dad.
Stepping out into the cool air, Alistair closed his eyes. The cold breeze felt nice on his skin. Fortitude would take some getting used to, but he was willing to make the effort. Everyone was back together, he just had to figure out how to get the family on the same page. He was hurt mostly, that Adeline would think to lie to him. Because, he expected it from Declan. He had seen that animosity in the man early on. Not with his little girl, whom he adored. He had just wanted to protect them all but he was oblivious to it all. “Hey! Look out!” Alistair opened his eyes, but it was too late. He was hit smack dab in the head by a Frisbee. “Ouch,” He muttered.
“Sorry about that!” The man jogged up to him, child in toe. “Braylen, what do you say when you hit someone?”
“Sorry,” The boy mumbled.
“Don’t make it sound like a chore. Is that how your mother is raising you?” He lightly smacked the boy upside his head. “Apologize like you mean it.”
“I’m sorry sir.”
“It’s okay,” Alistair answered. “It was just an accident, right? I don’t mind.”
“You’re new here, aren’t you?” The man asked. He extended his hand. “Everyone is talking about you outsiders. My name is Callen.”
“Outsiders?” Well, he understood but it still sounded cruel. He shook it off. “My name is Alistair.”
“Well, Alistair, welcome to Fortitude.” Callen looked down at the child who was tugging on his shirt. “That’s Leon over there, can I go talk to him?”
Callen nodded. “Sure, go ahead kid. But be careful. No mystery candy.”
“Dad!” Braylen whined. “Leon is my best friend.”
“Alright, alright. I’m joking. Run along, but know that I’m keeping an eye on you, man.”
“I know, otherwise mom would kill you.” He grinned, waving at his father as he ran off.
When Braylen was out of ear shot, Alistair asked curiously, “Best friend? How is this Leon boy? My grand daughter seems fond of his presence.”
“You have a granddaughter?” He tilted his head slightly. “How old are you man?”
“I dunno. I stopped counting after 50.” Alistair inspected his many tattoos and the two dot like piercings that were on the bridge of his nose. This man was someone he would assume would be hanging around Charlotte.
“Damn man, what elixir are you taking and where can I get some? You look great for an ancient man.”
“Hey now, ancient man is pushing it. I have grand kids not great grand kids.”
“Oh, sorry.” He held up his hands in mock surrender, his smile contagious. “But seriously, I’m sensing you’re a witch so you’re immortal?”
“Kinda, until I stop taking the elixir. Which, I have none of at the moment…huh.” He placed a hand on his chin. “I didn’t think about that.”
He chuckled. “We have tons of young again potions at the alchemist, you just have to get it approved by Adele if you want one because apparently they’re dangerous.”
“Oh, trust me. I know all about dangerous supernatural stuff…Anyway, I should probably get going. My daughter is waiting for me.”
“Hey, wait.” He lightly tapped Alistair’s arm. “You said your granddaughter is friends with Leon? Maybe she can hang out with him and Braylen one day. The boys know all the neighborhood kids, they can introduce each other. Is she a witch?”
“Oh no. It gets complicated with my family. I have four daughters, and two of them have kids around Braylen’s age. There’s my granddaughter Gracie, her brother Pax, their friends Nerissa and Camilla who live with them, and my other granddaughter Harmony. Only one of them is a mage.”
Callen’s eyes widened for a moment. “Oh. Wow. Your family is huge, and diverse. I love it. That’s great, man. Well, my offer still stands for any of them. The neighborhood kids usually hang out at my place on the weekends, when I get to see my son. I don’t want to brag, but we’re the party house on the block.”
Callen laughed. “Yeah, pizza rolls, video games and soda. They love it. But don’t worry, they’re supervised and I make sure that they don’t get into any trouble, contrary to what Braylen’s mother thinks. That woman irks me…” He let out a sigh. “Let me not bore you with that.”
“I know all about that struggle.”
“Oh, so you were paired up with a woman when you were born that you’re expected to make children with, for the preservation of your clan?” He asked.
“Oh…no.” Alistair shook his head. “I didn’t even know that was a thing.”
“Yeah, and we’re supposed to marry who we’re paired with. But I am not having that. I’m sure things were just as complicated for you and the mother of your kids.”
Callen raised a brow. “Oh no, it get’s complicated, doesn’t it? Hence the diverse children, ahh I get it now.”
“The mother of my vampire daughters was well…she wasn’t arranged, but I definitely didn’t choose her. And the father of my other two girls was a mage, so those kids were a product of magic.”
“Must be some strong magic then.” He stretched his arms over his head. “Damn man, I’m here complaining but you’ve been through it already. Can I ask what happened to the father?”
“He’s uh…not in the picture anymore.”
Callen nodded. “Fair enough, I know when to mind my own business. Anyway, I should go get my child. It was nice talking to you Alistair. Bray and I were planning on stopping by to welcome the newbies to town anyway one, day. He wanted to make you guys something but he wasn’t sure what yet so we’ve been hanging back. So you’ll see me around. It was great talking to you.”
“Yeah, you too.” Alistair nodded, a smile on his face.
“Oh, and tell your daughters about my raging kid parties! Bray will never admit it, but he loves new friends. Leon usually comes, well not yesterday’s but I can probably guess why. Your granddaughter perhaps?” He winked, then chuckled. “Okay, I’m done blabbering. See you around, Al!” And with that, he jogged off in the direction of his son.