Worse Than That

Darwynn growled.  I rummaged in a cabinet the kids didn’t usually look, it wasn’t where we kept any of the sugared stuff.  I had some granola, and some dried fruits, which really only Rider ate.  He knew where it was but no one else really cared for it.

I poured a portion of granola and dumped some of the dry fruit in it, added some sugar and handed the were lion the bowl.  He looked at it like it might bite him but he took it tentatively in his large hand.  “Is it any good with milk?”

I nodded, “Rider will eat it like that on occasion.”

Ryan pushed the nearly empty gallon of milk towards Darwynn for his own pouring.  “Why are you here Darwynn?”  I asked again.

He lifted his spoon to his lips and eyes me over the top of it.  I rolled my eyes and turned to my own plate of chicken and roasted vegetables and a side of something mushy.  I looked at Ryan and he grinned at me, “Just eat it.”

“I don’t like mashed potatoes, or anything that looks like someone masticated it already.”

Ryan chuckled, “Big word for saying baby food.”

“What is it?”  I asked.

“Mashed potatoes, cauliflower and parsnips.”  Alex’s head snapped to Ryan and he glared.  

I smiled, “Unless it’s in a pie I’m not a big fan.”  I said.

“So pureed food needs form – gotcha.  Double baked potatoes.”  He grinned at me.

Ryan didn’t hesitate to scope the offending vegetables and starch from my place with a bigger spoon and dropped it on his own.  His was covered in gravy and he just mixed it all in together anyway.  Alex added another helping of the vegetables I would eat.  I leaned over and kissed his cheek with a muttered thank you.

“Only taking care of my babe.”  He said with a smile.

Darwynn was watching the three of us with interest.  “I’d say you ran a tight ship here.  I’m not sure where the lines cross though to who’s family and who’s not.”

I shrugged, “If friends can’t tell then maybe the enemy can’t either.”  I said hoping they’d leave me alone.

Darwynn sighed.  “That’s why I’m here.”

I looked at him over my fork and waited for him to keep going.  “Always to the point?” he asked.

“It’s a Venatori thing.” Ryan said simply.  “They expect you to keep going when you state the obvious – expecting responses like really and go on was never taught.”

I gave Ryan a dirty look.  He smiled and stuck his tongue out at me which made his youth look even more like the sixteen year old boy he truly was.  It would suck to be sixteen forever.

Alex interrupted, “Wait, what?  You’re sixteen?”  Alex looked at Ryan trying to figure things out.

“I was when Cari took me as Chevalier.  In my time, sixteen was adult, my sister was still a child but only barely.”

“Why have I never met your sister?”  Alex asked.

“She doesn’t like people.  She’s in today’s terms autistic, and my parents were unable to marry her off so instead of letting her live with her the rest of their lives the staked her for the wolves and other nightly creatures to feed upon citing she was possessed by the demons.  I begged Cari to save her.  And in return we became her food – forever.  And then a few years later when Tony was banished from her live we became bound by our very lives.”

Alex shook his head, “We’ll talk later.” He looked to Darwynn and smirked, “Sorry, Nox’s thoughts get away from me sometimes.”

“Hey, don’t blame that on me.”  I said.

Alex wrapped his arms around me, “But they do.”  He kissed my neck then sat back down leaving me cold and wanting.  His free hand strayed to my leg and he squeezed comforting me while we ate and listened to Darwynn.

“I’ve been speaking with a lot of your allies since you found me and rescued me.  Most recently I was speaking with your father – Kai Viddens?  Venatori, salt and pepper hair, and honestly looks like you but older now that I see you again.  “

Darwynn laughed, “Anyway, he tells me he left the Venatori, and that you knew that.  But he didn’t tell you why did he?”

I shrugged.  “If you are mentioning it I’m guessing it’s not what he told me then – but something bigger.  Like maybe they wanted him to come kill me.”

Darwynn nodded, “Yeah.  They wanted the best of the best to kill you, but he refused.  And since then they’ve been contacting contract killers like myself.”

“Wait?”  Alex interrupted, “You are a contract killer?”  He looked at me , “We don’t want him around the kids.”

“Everyone here is a contract killer but you in technical terms.”  I said softly.  “Ant is an Enforcer with his mother.  Ryan too.  It’s what I do even if I choose not to kill.  Jae and Seraph where too to some degree.”

Alex sighed, “Alright, but if you bring harm to my family cause of what you do I’ll kill you myself.”  He threatened the were lion.  

Darwynn nodded.  “Absolutely expected, Mr. Kennedy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  But I’m loyal to your man, 100% you can count on it.”

“They are just going to keep sending people after me.” I sighed.  “Unless I do something. How many contracts you think they have against me?”  I asked Darwynn.

“No telling.  But the Venatori bounty is pretty high.”

“How high?” Alex asked.

“I’d rather not say.”  Darwynn said.

“That high.”  Alex whistled.  “So what are you going to do Nox?”

“You could challenge the big cheese.  That’s how it would work in the packs.”

“Vampires too.”  Ryan said.  “Official challenges can be pretty epic.  Ones like you and The Dragon slightly unconventional but works just the same.”

“I’m not Venatori anymore.”

Ryan laughed, “And you aren’t a dragon either are you?”

I sighed.  I looked at Alex and he frowned, “Do whatever you have to do.  They don’t know you can’t die, so as long as they don’t chop off your head we are golden right?”

“Fire doesn’t do much for you either, I don’t think it would even take anymore now that you are what you are.  I mean you are pretty bullet proof now too.”  Ryan added.

“You aren’t going alone.”  Alex said.  “You need to take Ant with you too.”

“And you too Dad.”  Hunter said climbing into Alex’s lap.

“Why do I have to go?”  Alex asked.

Hunter shrugged, “I don’t know, but if you don’t it’ll be bad.”

“You aren’t just human anymore.”  I tried to reassure Alex.

“I’m not a fighter.  I won’t be any use.”

I laughed, “Except you can manipulate my power too.”

Alex looked at me and frowned.  I added, “What if just having you there helps me help myself?  What if that’s part of my control issue.  My power base isn’t present?”

“All of it.”  I said.  “You and Ant together with me and …”

Ryan laughed, “The triumvirate of power.”  He nodded emphatically, “I’ll get Ant.“

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