Millie steeled herself to talk to her twin. Weren’t they supposed to be on the same page? She couldn’t feel further from it. Astra was her sister, she wanted them to have the relationship they did before she had met Audric. She approached the black haired girl, and tapped her on her shoulder. “Hey, Astra. You didn’t bring Knox?”
Astra shook her head. “The noise would irritate him. He’s finicky.”
“Oh, that makes sense,” Millie said. “I’d like to see him one day. You know, I’m due soon.” She pointed to her own stomach. “I don’t know why my belly isn’t getting big this time, with Harmony I was like a balloon.”
“Adeline either,” Astra commented. “She’s still like a twig. You can’t even tell that she’s pregnant.”
“Our kids are all going to be the same age. I hope they have the relationship that Harmony has with her cousins. Look at them.” Millie smiled fondly at the girls who were trying to get Pax to dance with them.
“I’d like that,” Astra said. “You know, I took this whole mother thing for granted. I wanted so desperately to be a mom because I saw how happy it made you and Charlotte and I was jealous.” Millie waited for her to continue. “I love him so much. Knox is my whole world. I didn’t think it was possible for me to love someone as much as I do now. I just want to do everything I can for him. I want to stop making mistakes that could hurt him. I want to be a better person.”
“Oh, Astra…” Millie placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’m so happy right no. What you just said was beautiful. It’s something I had to learn when I had Harmony. I hated Zander, I wanted to crawl into my bed and just stay there day and night. But, I knew it would hurt her to do that so I pushed and pushed to be my very best so that she could have the life that she does now. Safe and healthy.”
“I…” Astra bit her lip. “I feel like a terrible mother sometimes. I see his orange eyes and I think of Dionysus. All of these angry feelings rise up in me, and I want to be rid of both him and Audric. I know it was my fault, but I’m not ready to face him, wherever he is.”
“You don’t have to,” Millie said. “If you really think it’s what’s best for Knox.”
“What if he asks about his dad?” Astra asked. “What if he wants to find him?”
“You can worry about that when the time comes,” Millie said. “Take a deep breath, you’re doing great with him so far.”
“And…” Astra’s voice trailed off. She was s happy to finally talk to someone about all of her pent up feelings. “I don’t even know her name…”
“Whose name?” Millie asked.
“My daughter,” Astra said. “Remember, I was pregnant with Audric’s child too. I left her with him because I was angry, but I lay awake at night thinking about what she will look like when she grows older, and what she would be like.”
“Is there a way to get her back?” Millie asked. “Maybe dad or grandpa know a way.”
“Dad was mad that I gave her up so easily, and thinking back on it, I’m angry at myself too. I want to know my daughter, but I don’t want him having any part of her life. I know I can’t do that, and that he needs her power to save this dimension or whatever it is he claims. But she’s my daughter…”
“The only person you can talk to this about would be Audric himself,” Millie said.
“And how do I get him to listen to me? His channel is closed off to me, I don’t hear him probing my thoughts anymore. It’s silent. I think he knows that I’ll want to see her, but he shouldn’t be this way when he acted the way he had towards me.”
“Is it true what he said about Declan?” Millie asked quietly. “He was forced to do what he did?”
“At first he was,” She replied. “Audric blackmailed him, but Declan won’t tell us why he did what he did afterwards, and Adeline…” Astra scratched her head. “I’m not one to judge. I’d want a second chance, in fact I’ve asked for more than one. So, I’ll be giving them the benefit of the doubt.”
“Adeline may be redeemable, but I don’t think Declan ever will be.”
“He’s my dad,” Astra said finally. “I won’t stop trying to get him back.”
Alistair felt the chair sink next to him. “Following me?” He teased the fairy.
“Maybe.” Callen grinned. “I’m trying to figure you out, beyond what you told me.”
“You’re so…peculiar,” Callen admitted.
“Gee, thanks,” Alistair replied.
“I mean it in a good way. You and your family are some of the nicest people I’ve met. I can feel the love between you guys, just being here. And, you’ve been more than inviting to Braylen as one of your own.” He gestured with his head to the group of kids, now running around and playing tag. “For a long time, he had only Leon. I don’t know if you noticed, but Leon is drawn to people who are looked over. Braylen had no friends until Leon came along and introduced him to their classmates. It’s what Leon does. I’m not sure he even realizes it. I owe a lot to him for getting Braylen to open up and adjust to his surroundings. It’s been tough for him, having those white wings.”
“What’s the difference in wing color mean?” Alistair asked.
“Right, I don’t imagine you having fairies of my caliber in Moonlight Falls. The colors could be different denominations and powers. White is special. There aren’t many of us. Only me and Braylen here, and I don’t imagine there being much more out there. White makes us Angels of death.”
“I didn’t want to bring it up at your daughter’s wedding. It’s a happy day. But I…I can convene with death. Or, so the legend has it. I haven’t been actually able to, but it scares people. And before you ask, there are other reasons the people here hate me. But, this doesn’t help.”
“You wouldn’t know anything about the darkness, would you?” Alistair asked suddenly. “I mean…death and darkness seem like they’d kind of go hand in hand.”
“Fortitude exudes darkness,” Callen said. “It doesn’t happen as often or as long as it used to, but there are sometimes dark periods where the only light we have are manufactured.”
“Like…complete darkness?” Alistair ran his hand through his hair. This did not bode well for Graciela. He didn’t know what she was so scared of, but it had to be real. Why would fortitude get random periods of darkness if not magical or acted upon by other forces?
Callen nodded. “Why do you ask? Darkness is very specific.”
Alistair looked up at the sky. Luckily the sun hadn’t dropped all the way yet and the venue was well lit. “Is it possible that something could cause darkness? Like, I don’t mean night and day kind of darkness. I guess I don’t know what I mean. I’m just wondering what you know about it.”
“This is where things get tricky, Alistair.” Callen stretched his arms over his head. “Come back over my house sometime next week and I can show you some books, artifacts even. i won’t ask why you care about the darkness, but I know more than the others here would.” He pointed to his wings. “You’re right, it comes with the territory. But for now, it’d be great if we could lighten up a bit. Pun intended.”
Marriage was exhausting. Or, maybe it was just the wedding ceremony. Charlotte’s stomach was doing flips. Every time she looked at Jeff, she couldn’t help but smiled. Married. They were married. Would it ever stop feeling this way when she saw him? She doubted it. With or without the title or ring, Jeffrey Bennett made her heart sing. She adored him with everything she had.
She took a look at her kids. Pax and Camilla were…dancing? They were attempting to, at least. Their giggles could be heard from across the venue. She was glad they were having fun. Nerissa had a pen and paper out and was sitting by Harmony, Leon, Gracie and Braylen. They were playing a game of some sort. She was glad to see Graciela and Nerissa talking again. Gregg was with Ethan and Waverly with Jeff. The two little ones were teetering off to sleep, not used to staying up this late. Charlotte smiled. She was blessed with a big family, one that she didn’t even know she had wanted. Her kids, blood or not, were everything to her. She would fight to protect all of them.
She watched Millie dance lovingly with Zayne. Her sister’s arms were around his neck, and his arms around her waist. Zayne was what Millie had needed to open up again. He was a rock for her sister, for her kids, for her husband, and for her. He had come here as a tool meant to be used against them, and instead, became one of the few to remain loyal by their side.
She saw Erik and Adeline, not socializing with the others, still a sore spot for them. But, they still stood by each other’s side. She was hesitant about them, but could feel the bond between them both very strongly at least.
And her dad? He was with Callen. She invited him because he reminded her of a mix of Dionysus and her grandfather, Ethan. He was easy to talk to, but also very in tune with what was happening around him. She was enthused to see her dad opening up to someone besides a family member. His behavior had been scaring her as of late. She was sure that Declan’s presence, though strictly monitored by Adele, was getting to him. She was grateful to know that it had not.
Today, this night…it was everything that she had ever wanted. It was one of the happiest days of her life, with people she cared about and loved. She had been gifted a person as wonderful as Jeff, and would cherish him forever. She was truly blessed.
Enjoy some extra shots from the wedding! [Special thanks to Dandylion240 for Jeffrey Bennett who has been a pleasure to write about. She also gave me Zayne and Nerissa. Phyrcracker93 gave me Camilla Kearns and Wannabecatwriter/ViolinCat gave me Erik Holloway]