Millie let out a short giggle. “I can’t believe it.”
“Shut it,” Charlotte snapped. “I don’t like this whole dress shopping thing.”
“Oh, come on. It’s been literal years that you’ve had to wait to get married, don’t you want to go all out? If anybody deserves this, it’s you,” Millie told her older sister.
“What about you and Zayne?”
“You know how I feel about marriage, now don’t deflect. You’re getting married, and you are going to look amazing. We need to discuss how traditional you want to be. Brides maids? Maid of Honor? Ring Bearers?”
Charlotte sighed, running her hand along the dresses. Fortitude had dress makers that did stunning work. She was taken aback by the beauty of some of the dresses she saw. She couldn’t imagine herself in one. “None of that. I don’t know enough people here.” The older girl bit her lip. “Actually, tell me what you think about this.”
Millie nodded. “Go ahead, I’m all ears.”
“I want the kids to be in the wedding. I don’t know if I’d call them bridesmaids and groomsmen, but instead of those fancy titles, I’d just like my family there. Pax, Gracie, Camilla, Nerissa, Waverly, Gregg, even Harmony.”
Millie’s face broke out into a huge grin. “I love it. That’s a great idea!”
“And uhm, I want yo to be my Maid of Honor.”
“Wait, Char.” She lightly touched her sister’s arm. “Me?”
“Yes you,” Charlotte said, as if it was obvious. “You have been here for me since day one. Magic lessons in the lair, to listening to me rant about Ade when we were teenagers. Throughout all of this, people have turned to me but you’re the strong one here. You didn’t let anything bring you down, and you acted as a beacon of hope. There is nobody else I’d want, and I know Jeff is going to ask Zayne.”
“That would be so cute,” She replied. “I didn’t know you felt that way about me. You know, I always looked up to you. I mean, life has literally tossed everything it could at you and you’re still going strong. You and Jeff are perfect together and I would be honored to stand by your side at that altar.”
“Ok, enough mushy talk for today.”
Millie chucked. “Oh, no. There is never enough mushy talk. Nu-uh. You don’t get to get away with it so easily.”
Jeff let out a loud laugh. “I hate you.”
“You have said that to me about a million times,” Zayne said. “Should we make this one million and one?”
“If you didn’t do stupid things, I wouldn’t have to say it,” Jeff teased, looking in the fridge for some food.
“Giving you some brotherly advice is stupid?” Zayne shook his head. “Nice.”
“Aww, come on now. I didn’t mean it like that,” Jeff said. “But, I don’t want to hear about the cons of marrying a vampire. I love Charlotte.”
“That’s not my intention,” Zayne said, seriously. “But I wouldn’t be your friend if I didn’t warn you bout what’s going to happen.” But Zayne didn’t have to, because he already knew. One day he’d grow old and Charlotte would still be as young as ever. With Zayne and Millie, they both had average lifespans. Not Jeff. He’d watch his family stay the same as he aged. But, that was no reason not to marry Charlotte.
“Thanks, but I don’t need a warning. I’m sticking by her side regardless, marriage paper or not.”
“I’m not saying that you shouldn’t marry her. But, now that this is going to be official, think about it.”
Jeffrey headed over to the counter where he started cutting up the vegetables that he had taken from the fridge. “I have thought about it.”
“I don’t care,” he stated simply. “Am I supposed to make plans? Write a will?”
“No. Of course not.” Zayne shook his head. “But isn’t there a way for you to keep your youth? Magic or something?”
“I don’t want that,” Jeff said. “When it’s my time to go, it’s my time. I won’t fight it. I love my family, but Charlotte doesn’t need me. She-”
“Needs you,” Ethan finished, coming into the room. “Waverly and Gregg have been put to sleep.”
“Thanks,” Jeff mumbled. He put the food into the oven and then came besides the two men in his kitchen. “She is powerful. She can handle herself. I just think it’s selfish to hold onto something you don’t need.”
“You don’t want to be alive with your wife?” Ethan asked. “I would give anything to be with Apollo again. Think of what she would do without you.”
“Move on,” he stated simply. “I would want her to move on. Magic comes at a great cost, one that I won’t afford my family.”
Astra glared at the child who was crying. “Please stop,” She said. “Don’t cry.” When Knox didn’t quiet up, she let out an exasperated sigh. “Come on. I’m your mom, you’re supposed to listen to me.”
“He’s a baby not a dog.” She heard the intense male’s voice and looked away. So much for laying low in Fortitude.
“Whatever. Mind your own business.” She turned away from him, cradling her son.Rude.
“This is my business. I’m trying to do some light reading and I can’t concentrate with the sound of an incompetent mother arguing with a newborn.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t aware that you owned the whole damn park.” Astra maneuvered her arm, so that she could bob Knox up and down softly. But, even that wouldn’t calm him down.
“Instead of fighting with a stranger in the park, why not take care of your kid?”
She rolled her eyes. “You started it.” She looked down at Knox. “It’s okay, baby. Mommy loves you. Mommy is here.”
The man shook his head at the woman in front of him. How could she be so maladjusted? Was she one of the newbies? Adele had told them all to be nice to the new ones, but he wouldn’t be able to if that was what they were like. He sent a look at the child one last time before stalking away back to his seat on the cold grass.
Alistair peered through the doorway, eyes on the group of children playing in Pax’s room. Well, it was almost like a group. Nerissa, Pax and Camilla hung out in the middle of the room, while Graciela and Leon sat in the corner. Was this Leon boy always here? He was starting to wonder if he had a house of his own. He thought back to Callen’s words the other day. A play date would indeed be a good idea to get everyone to meet their classmates before school started up officially. “Leon,” Alistair called. The purple haired boy looked up from his play “session” (Al couldn’t tell what the kid was doing but could see that Graciela was enthralled in whatever it was) and gave the man a short wave. Alistair took that as an opportunity and headed over to where Leon and Graciela were sitting.
“Hello, Mr.Gray. Man, that’s so weird. There’s so many Mr.Grays here!” Leon grinned. “Should I call you Mr.Gray 2?”
“You can call me Alistair.”
“Is that okay?” He looked over to Graciela who nodded her approval. Alistair couldn’t help but smile. He had noticed that Graciela had become increasingly withdrawn in the years that he had been away from her. He wondered why that was. While the other children played excitedly, she’d withdraw into a corner. Often, silently, she’d sit and watch. He was hoping that Leon’s tenacity would allow his granddaughter to return to the vibrant girl she used to be. Even Nerissa, who used to be around Graciela all the time, was keeping her distance. What had he missed? “Alistair,” Leon said, practicing the pronunciation. “I like it.”
“Me too kid.” Alistair carfeully sat down besides the two of them. “Can I ask you something?”
“Yes sir.” He placed the teddy bear he had been holding, down onto the floor. “How can I help you?”
Graciela giggled at his informal tone towards her grandpa, and Alistair smiled. “I met a man named Callen, Braylen’s dad. And, he tells me that every weekend or so, Bryalen’s friends sleep over. You included.”
“Oh, yeah! Braylen is the best.” He grinned. “His dad let’s us come over, play video games and watch movies.”
“Well, Callen invited Graciela, Pax, Nerissa and Camilla over. So I was wondering what you thought about that. Would they like that?”
Leon seemed to be in thought for a minute but nodded. “Yes. Because, school starts soon and they can meet my friends before. I think it could be fun. Gracie, do you want to come to Braylen’s sleep over?”
She shook her head. “No thank you.”
“What? Why not? It’ll be fun!” Leon cried.
“No.” She pulled her knees up to her chest, sending her grandfather a pleading look. “I don’t want to sleep over.”
“How about you go and hang out for a few hours? I will be there, I won’t leave you alone,” Alistair said. “It sounds like it will be fun.”
“Yeah, me too,” Leon said. “I’m going to be there. So, it will be totally awesome.”
“I don’t know,” Graciela whispered. “Maybe if the others say yes. Pax too.”
“Let’s ask them.” Alistair stood up and motioned for Graciela and Leon to join him in talking to the others.
It was just a tiny walk away, a few feet and when they got there, Leon tossed himself in the middle of the group. “My best friend Braylen is having a sleep over and you should totally come!”
“A sleep over?” Pax wrinkled his nose. “With you?”
Alistair chuckled. “Okay kids, no one has to sleep over if they don’t want. But I think it would be fun to meet some other kids in town. Plus, sources tell me that Braylen has video games.”
Pax looked up, excitedly. “Like, real life video games? I haven’t played them in so long!”
Leon nodded. “Yes, video games. What, have you been living under a rock?”
Camilla shrugged. “Kinda. Some of us aren’t as lucky as you are, okay?”
“I didn’t mean anything by that,” Leon said.
“It’s okay,” Alistair said. “Leon didn’t know. Do you guys want to go?”
“If everyone else does,” Nerissa added. “Sure.”
Pax nodded. “Okay, I’d like to meet some other people.”
Camilla seemed indifferent, but Graciela didn’t seem to want to join the others. “I don’t know…”
“Come on,” Leon said, grabbing her hand. “I won’t leave your side, okay? Promise.”
Graciela looked at her siblings, who all seemed really excited. Why couldn’t she be so carefree? “Uhm…okay.”
Pssst…the new guy talking to Astra is Waldorf made by Francothecitysimmer.