I was still processing the fact that Margo was a dragon and that I had a twin sister who she had killed. I was still processing the idea that I was considered powerful by the dragon’s council. That fact alone would send anyone reeling.
I however was grateful that Dorian had made me stay away from work to process all of this. I missed my first appointment in my entire life with Margo this past Monday. Sage was a doll and took my mind off of it. I suspect Dorian and Jace had a hand in tempting him to take the day off.
The three of us, Drake, Sage and I, went to the Natural History Museum and we walked the entire place. Sage and I have been spending most days apart even though I was staying at his place and he worked from home. It made living together a bit easier. I will admit to enjoying the living arrangements right now. Being able to sleep through the night has brightened my mood. I’m not looking forward to returning to my lonely bed in a few days.
But today, Sage is introducing me to his extended family on his father’s side – the whole human side of his family. Special Agent Danny Morgan was bitten by a werewolf when he was a rookie on the Police force in NYC. Thankfully Adrian had found him, and he met Rosales, a full-blooded werewolf and they started their happy little family. They have one daughter Carla who has a eight-year-old daughter, and they adopted Sage when he was just a boy.
The Morgan’s are human – completely. And they are having a Fourth of July barbecue at Danny’s mother’s house. Today I get to pretend to be human. Which isn’t quite so hard to do for me – but for Drake – that means hiding his orange eyes. Three-year-old kids just do not wear contact lenses. Thankfully he can glamor. But the beautiful boy looks different with those dark brown eyes blinking back at me.
“What’s wrong, Daddy?” I smiled at the term of endearment. The first time he’d called me that I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t had custody of him for more than five days when he called me daddy. I guess that’s the easiest term to say when you are three. He didn’t like calling me Nox or Mr. Nox. Or whatever his friends did – he claimed everyone else had one, he needed one too. I wasn’t going to quibble over something so simple as that – I was going to be his father. I was going to be the best damned father I could be to him and he wasn’t even blood. Just proving blood doesn’t make family.
“Nothing’s wrong, Drake. I’m not used to the brown eyes. You are doing a great job.” I said. We were sitting on a train heading out to the Bronx to meet Danny Morgan’s human family. Sage was staring at me while he pretended to look out the window I was sitting next to. I smiled, “I’m alright, Sage.”
He chuckled in my ear as he put his arm around my shoulders and leaned his head against mine. He whispered, “I know. I think I’m more nervous than you are.”
“Why?” I asked. He knew these people he had no reason to be nervous.
Sage kissed my check and sat forward leaning his elbows on his knees and then looked back at me. “I’ve never brought a guy home before. A few girls. You are the first guy.”
“Are you worried I’ll embarrass you?” I asked with concern. I didn’t want to alienate my boyfriend’s family because they were that – family. And I didn’t want to make things unbearable in the future.
Sage laughed out loud and we got stares from nearby passengers. Sage toned his laugh down with a few of those stares and put his hand on me before he spoke. “God, no. I’m afraid they are going to embarrass themselves. I’ve not actually been open about my sexuality with the extended family.”
“So they don’t know you don’t care about gender or identity?” I asked.
Sage nodded. “Yeah. I can say I’m glad you aren’t like my last partner. That would have been a nightmare. Terry probably would have worn drag just to spite them.”
“So the eyeliner, nail polish and hair is toned down from your ex?” I grinned at Sage. “I would have toned down if you wanted me to.”
Sage shook his head. “No fucking way.”
I covered Drake’s ears and Sage rolled his eyes, “Like he hasn’t heard that word coming out of your mouth.”
I stuck my tongue out at my boyfriend and his eyebrow rose in question. I did it again just to goad him on. Sage crooked a finger at me requesting I come closer. I moved into his space. Our lips were millimeters apart, Sage laughed, “You are going to make me say it?”
I nodded. “That’s part of the fun of it.”
“Give me it.” He breathed out. There was so much lust in those three words I could feel parts of my body react.
I did as he instructed and stuck my tongue out again. It brushed his lips before he parted his own and latched on to it and started sucking. His teeth held my tongue in place with a bare pressure meant to elicit pleasure in that small amount of pain. Sage had been working on his technique and I couldn’t help the small moan that escaped my lips.
Drake was squirming in my lap, “Ew,” he exclaimed.
Sage chuckled against my lips and smiled. He rubbed his hand over Drake’s hair and pulled the little dragon into his lap. He leaned down and whispered in Drake’s ear. “He will learn not to stick his tongue out at me.”
Drake giggled and shook his head. “Nuh uh, Daddy likes when you do that. He does it on purpose.”
Sage giggled in Drake’s ear. “He does? Doesn’t he.”
Drake nodded emphatically. I rolled my eyes playfully and I put my hand on Sage’s leg and squeezed. I was quickly falling in love with him, and my life was going to hard when he broke up with me. It was difficult but I pushed the bad thoughts away. I wasn’t going to dwell on them. I would sabotage my own relationship long before Sage dumped me for my issues. I sighed and looked out the window as we rattle down the rail into the Bronx.
Sage drapped his arm around me and pulled me close. He whispered, “I’m not going anywhere, Nox.”
I laughed. “I’m transparent. I’m sorry.”
Sage laughed. “I like knowing what you are thinking. I’m glad you show me even if you won’t tell me.” My boyfriend hugged me tighter to him as the train stopped. Sage stood up and took my hand after he picked up Drake and started out of the car. “My Dad adores you, so the rest of the family should love you.”
“Except I’m not a girl you can have babies with.” I grinned at him.
“You have the same problem.” Sage grinned as he pulled my hand closer and wrapped his arm around my waist. “We’ll manage. Already got one on my hip.”
I smiled. “He is pretty great.”
Sage nodded in agreement. “He is.” Sage purred into Drake’s ear as the little dragon curled his body around him. “Grana will like you cause you cook. Dad’s sister, Hannah, will probably talk nail polish with you. Dustin will like your tattoos.”
I nodded. “He can only see one.”
Sage turned and blinked at me. Then nodded in understanding. “Right. I probably shouldn’t mention the Venatori stamp then.” He grinned.
“Probably a good idea.” Sage walked into a front yard. The house was a two story with a basement apartment. Similar to what Sage lived in, except we were in the Bronx now.
Sage put Drake on the ground and knocked on the front door. I heard shuffling on the otherside and a familiar face answered the door. Rosales greeted us. “My darlings.” She picked up Drake and hugged him before shifting him to her hip. Rosie gave Sage a quick hug as she ushered him into the house. She took my hand and squeezed it. “They will love you, Nox.”
I laughed. “Everyone loves me, Rosie.”
She smiled. “Come.” Rosie lead me through the living room where Danny gave me a nod before he was cuddling with Drake on the couch and Sage was joining him to watch whatever show that was on. They were the only ones there so far, which was probably a good thing. I ran my fingers through my blue tipped hair to push the fallen fringe from my face.
There was a small gray haired women moving from pot to pot on the stove and the small island in the kitchen. She looked like she was in heaven, her dark brown eyes sparkled as she dropped a few fresh herbs into a pot. “Grana.” Rose interjected. “I’d like you meet Sage’s partner.”
The older woman looked up from the cutting board where she was cutting carrots and onions. She frowned and looked back down. Rosie continued. “This is Nox, Grana. Nox, this is Grana.”
I took a step forward and smiled. “It’s a pleasure Mrs. Morgan. Can I help you cut the vegetables?”
Rosie smiled and chuckled to herself as Grana looked up with a frown. “You know how to julienne?”
I nodded. “Yes, ma’am. I can also brunoise, paysanne and chiffonade. Or waltz, cha-cha or salsa if you like.” I danced a two-step in place with a smile.
Rosie was chuckling to herself and Grana grinned before it quickly turned into a disapproving frown. “Come round here, boy, let me see you work.”
I grinned. “Yes, ma’am.”
I continued cutting the vegetables as she had been. Mrs. Morgan nodded and turned to do her own thing while I continued to cut vegetables. Rosie patted my shoulder, “Grana, if you need anything just call me. But I’m sure you and Nox will get along just fine.”
Grana just grunted. There were onions, peppers, celery, carrots and tomatoes on the island in front of me. I asked, “Do you want everything diced?”
The gray hair bobbed on her head in ascent and I continued to cut every vegetable in front of me. I was finishing the last pepper when Grana took the knife from my hand and checked me with her hip. “Go stir the pot.”
I looked in the big large pot and took the wooden spoon she handed me. I took a deep sniff of the boiling liquid in the pot. She was making salsa or some Mexican type stew. It smelled fabulous. “Can I ask what you are making, Mrs. Morgan?”
“Menudo. It’s good for all the drinking the men will be doing.” She looked up at me. “Are you a drunkard?”
I grinned. “No, ma’am. My vice is not drinking.”
She shook her head. “Just blasphemy.” She grunted and started dropping in the vegetables into the soup stock next to the pot I was stirring.
I sighed, but I stirred the pot until she took the spoon from my hand. “The burgers need to be pattied. Danny will be grilling in a bit. Ground meat is in the fridge. Pepper and salt to taste. Half with the chopped peppers and onions and pattied long not round.”
“Yes ma’am.” I started pulling out the preparations and the doorbell rang. I heard shuffling in the living room as someone answered the door. I heard lots of voices and they were heading the direction of the kitchen. I continued to do what I’d been told. Though I figured I was just about to get kicked out of the kitchen.
Rosie came in with her daughter and another woman that looked like Danny in a much more feminine way. I cleaned my hands and walked over to the chatting trio. Rosie smiled and introduced me, “You remember Carla, Nox?”
I took her hand and kissed the third knuckle, “A pleasure, again.” I smiled at the older woman who looked like Danny. “You must be Danny’s sister.”
The woman blushed and took my prooffered hand. “Hannah.”
I smiled. “A pleasure Ms. Hannah.”
I got back to making the meat patties as instructed. Hannah yelled into the living room. “Sage. You didn’t say Grana liked him enough to let him help.”
Sage laughed. “As Nox would say, everyone loves him.”
Grana grunted again and everyone but me laughed. I continued with the job I was given as Hannah and Carla floated back into the backyard with Rosie.
Grana stopped next to me and whispered. “Most boys wouldn’t help me. Why you?”
I smiled. “I like to cook, Mrs. Morgan. I will gladly help however you need me.”
Drake came into the kitchen and climbed up onto the wooden stool out of the way of things. “Daddy, can I help?”
“It’s not my kitchen, baby. Why don’t you go outside right here and ask Mama Rosie if you can help set up outside?”
Drake hopped off the stool. “Okay.” He opened the door and stood in the doorway. “Mama Rosie, can I help?”
I heard Rosie chuckle, “Of course, my little dragonling, come help.”
Mrs. Morgan hip checked me again. “Go take care of your boys.”
I smiled. “My boys are fine. Sage is with his dad, and Drake is with Mama Rose. But if that’s your way of getting rid of me that’s okay too.” I sighed and washed my hands in the sink before I went out the back door to join Rosie and the others.
Rosie frowned as she saw me stepping down. “Did she say anything?”
“Nothing out right, only that I indulged in blasphemy. She told me to go take care of my boys.” I smiled. “I think she wanted me out of the kitchen.”
Rosie nodded. “Highly likely, but she also might have seen you with Drake and decided you needed to spend time with him.”
Drake skipped up to me and handed me a table cloth. “You can help me, Daddy.”
Rosie laughed. “I love that he calls you that so easily.”
The door to the back of the house opened and I could smell my love before he wrapped his arms around me from behind. He whispered, “Grana told me to make sure you were alright. Said you left abruptly.”
I shrugged. “She told me to go take care of my boys who were perfectly fine. I figured she wanted me gone. So I’ll come out and help out here instead.”
Sage kissed my cheek and turned me around. “I think she just wanted to make sure you weren’t neglecting Drake. He did ask to help you.”
“It wasn’t my kitchen, so I told him to go help Rosie who I knew would give him something to do. If she were so concerned she could have offered to give him something to do before he left. It’s not like Drake ran too fast or something. He’s three and gets distracted easily.”
Sage hugged me close. “I know, love. But one thing at a time.”
“She doesn’t like that I’m with you. It’s blasphemy. Straight from her mouth.”
Rosie whispered. “She’s highly Catholic.”
I nodded. “I’m aware. But it’s not going to change anything by telling me I’m living in sin. I didn’t say anything, and I don’t plan to, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy being talked down to.”
Carla laughed. “Grana is an old woman set in her ways.” She wrapped her arms around me and Sage and squeezed. “She’ll love you two just like the rest of us. How could she not? You two are perfectly in love.”
Sage laughed and wrapped his sister in the embrace pulling her in tighter. I wrapped my arm around her too and hugged her. “Thanks, love.” Drake jumped into the mix and wrapped his little arms around our legs and both Sage and I lifted him up and held him close. But he was squirming away when a butterfly flew past. I followed my little dragon as he chased the insect from the yard to the edge of the street.
There was a car flying through the narrow side street and my little dragon didn’t look like he was going to stop. There was no one around and I wasn’t going to be fast enough to pull him from the road so I flung a web of air to stop Drake from flying into the road after his butterfly. There was a strangled cry as my son whipped
back towards me and the car zoomed past him. I hadn’t stopped following him and I was there wrapping my arms around the now frightened dragon. I could see the patterns around him oscillating in fear as I hugged him close. “It’s okay. It’s just me. You have to watch where you are going, baby. You could have been hit and then I’d be devastated without you.”
Drake turned in my arms and wrapped his arms around me whimpering a little. “I sorry.”
“It’s okay, buddy.” I hugged him tight. “As long as you are all right.”
I stood up and I felt arms wrap around me and Drake. “I saw him run to the edge and I couldn’t move fast enough. My father was about to tear off the door hinges until we saw Drake ripped back.” Sage whispered into my ear. “I knew you wouldn’t be far behind.”
Drake was in sobs now. “I won’t do it again.”
Sage hugged him tight against us. “We are just worried, little man. We love you.”
Drake grinned up at Sage. “Wuv you, too.”
The three of us went into the house together arm in arm. Sage tugged me into his lap on the couch and plopped Drake in my lap. Danny smiled. “I wondered how long it would be before you three were attached at the hip. I figured Grana would have kicked you out of her kitchen much earlier. ”
I snuggled against Sage with a grin. “She didn’t exactly kick me out. I took offense, I think.”
Danny laughed. “I’m sure that’s not hard. ”
I shook my head. “No, not really. I’m pretty easy to offend. ”
“You ask for it though. ” Danny snickered
I flashed my blue nails and ran my fingers through my hair pulling the blue fringe up and dropping it down on my forehead. “What, the blue is too much? ” I grinned.
Sage hugged me. “It’s perfect. ”
The doorbell rang and several people walked in the door. Danny got up and shook hands with a man that looked like a younger version of him except for the three days growth of beard. Danny led him over and introduced me, “Dustin, this is Nox, Sage’s partner.”
Dustin offered his hand and I took it with a smile. “A pleasure.” I said as he turned my hand to look at my nails. “What no red and white to go with it?”
I laughed. “Nah, I toned it down for Sage. I didn’t want to embarrass him too much.”
Just as Dustin sat down in the couch next to us a little girl ran over and plowed into me to wrap her arms around my comfortable lap, essentially knocking me from my perch into Dustin’s lap.
The man wrapped an arm around me as if it were a normal thing to do and Sage was laughing while he was splayed with kisses from the tiny little girl who had to be his niece.
Dustin laughed. “This is Nichole, Carla’s daughter. As you can tell she’s in love with your boyfriend.”
I chuckled and crawled out of the other man’s embrace. While I’m not opposed to touching other people, I found the situation a little awkward from Sage’s uncle. I sat down on the floor and leaned against Sage’s leg. I commented, “Who wouldn’t love Sage? He’s rather cute and those gorgeous blue eyes – yeah, I can see it. My best friends daughter is only 9 months, but she does the same thing to me.”
Dustin laughed. “Must be the little girls and the older gay men thing.” He waved his hand to shove away my comment that was sitting on the tip of my tongue as he continued, “I know the lot of you aren’t ‘gay’ but if I said pan or bi someone might think strange things about you.”
I turned to look up at Dustin. “So you know Sage’s preferences?”
He nodded. “Who do you think he talked to when he discovered them? He was all freaked out.” Dustin leaned back against the couch, “Danny told Sage stories of my college experiments.”
I nodded, “Just experiments?”
Dustin nodded. “I had a few on again off again boys in college but nothing much since.”
“And you know my preferences how?” I asked.
“Sage and I had a conversation recently.” Dustin winked.
“How recent?” I asked.
“Yesterday, actually. While you were in the shower I believe. Or maybe it was out for a run. I think it was out for a run. But there was a shower mentioned.” Dustin chuckled. “He wanted to know if he should bring you here or not. He was going to sit home with you and Drake and start your own tradition. I talked him into coming. Told him Grana would accept you eventually and that starting now while it’s young love would be best. I told him not to hide you from us. Besides, I wanted to meet the man who claimed the boy and makes him ask silly questions.”
Sage leaned over and covered my ears. “He doesn’t need to know what I asked Uncle Dusty, and neither do the kids.”
I looked up at my love behind me and grinned, “You know I’m going to ask now. Right?”
Sage pouted. I wanted to pull that lip into my mouth and suck on it such that my body reacted and I had to readjust my position. His pout quickly turned into a grin as he saw what my reaction was. “I suppose I can tell you.” Sage turned to the girl squirming in his lap under the death glare that Drake was giving him. “Nicky, why don’t you take Drake out back and throw the ball around.”
Nicky pouted, “I don’t think he likes me, Uncle Sage.”
Sage waggled a finger at Drake and the little dragon scurried over to him and his frown deepened. “He’s just mad he thought you were taking his place.” He ruffled Drake’s hair, “Your daddy is mine, baby. No one can take your place.”
Drake beamed and hugged Sage. Drake offered his hand to Nichole and the two kids went out the backdoor. Sage pulled me back up into his lap. I wasn’t going to deny him my presence, though I probably should.
Sage whispered in my ear, “I was asking about a few things you are into I’ve never tried.”
I quirked an eyebrow at my boyfriend, “You are asking your uncle who experimented with boys in college about things you’ve never tried that I’m into? Why didn’t you just ask me?”
Sage blushed brighter than I had seen him. His voice was low and only in my ear. “I don’t want you to think I’m unqualified to satisfy you.”
I turned to Sage and pulled back to look him fully in the eyes without having to cross my own. “You will never be unqualified, Sage. I don’t care if you were a fucking virgin when I met you. If there is something you want to explore, or even something that terrifies the shit out of you, just tell me. You are enough. I don’t need any of that other stuff as long as I can come home to you.”
I pulled Sage in for a long deep kiss and we both gasped for breath when we parted. I whispered so low only Sage could hear me. “Sage, love, we’ve not even gone all the way and I’m completely satisfied with our sex life. I so fucking love you, I have no idea how to tell you without freaking you out.”
Sage chuckled against my cheek. “Did you really just say those three little words first?”
I chuckled, “It was five actually.” I kissed Sage’s neck then whispered in his ear. “I love you, Sage Morgan.”
I felt the shudder run through my boyfriend as he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close and whispered back, “I love you, too.”
Dusty laughed from his ring side seat on the couch. “Like I said, the one who claimed the boy.”
Danny was chuckling from his corner in the recliner. “I told you they were affectionate.”
“Public displays of affection seem the pretty boy’s thing, not so much our shy little Sage.” Dusty grinned and ducked as Sage threw a pillow from behind me at him.
I guffawed, “Sage is so not shy. He’s easily embarrassed but he’s not shy. First time we met, he very openly watched me dancing with one of his friends, the second time knowing who I was and I didn’t have any clue who he was, he was bold enough to remove the two condoms I had in my back pocket and pocket them.” I grinned across at Sage who turned bright red at the story but he never said anything to deny it. “See easy to embarrass, but not shy. I mean he’s asking his uncle about sex – how shy could he be?”
Sage pushed me out of his lap and I slid to the floor with ungraceful like thud. I rolled my eyes at Sage now towering above me from where he stood. “I would have moved.”
Sage grinned. “It wouldn’t have been as fun.”
I stood up and pressed my body against his side, “Oh I could have made it worth your while.” And I turned on my heel and headed into the kitchen.
I heard laughter from behind me but turning and looking would ruin the whole storming off drama queen thing I had going on right then. I felt Sage’s fingers snake in between mine as I entered the door to the fragrant kitchen. I smiled over at my boyfriend as he tugged me towards the bar stools in front of the kitchen island I had worked at before.
Sage’s Grana never looked up as we sat down. I was hesitant but Sage pulled me down anyway and I really had no choice other than to sit down. Sage smile at me reassuring that everything was fine. “Grana, so why don’t you like Nox?”
She turned around with a stunned and grump expression on her face and I wanted to hide my face at the directness of my boyfriend. She looked at me, no, she studied me. I watched her eyes take all of me in. A thin smile stretched her lips as she turned to look at her grandson. “I like him. His hair however I do not.”
Sage laughed. “What’s wrong with his hair?”
She looked at me again then wiped her hands on her white apron and walked around the island to stand next to me. I obliged her and turned on the bar stool so I faced her. She ran her fingers through the front of my hair. “What’s with the colors? Not strong enough to pull it all off?”
I grinned at her. “It takes more practice to dye just certain parts of it without a foil cap and holes and such. I do it all free style Mrs. Morgan.” Granted I used magic to do it, but I wasn’t about to tell Sage’s completely human grandmother that I believed in and used magic.
Sage chuckled at my words but said nothing. He’d watched me change the color from blue to orange to red and back several times that morning before I had finally settled on a color. Blue seemed to be my go to color since meeting my mysterious blue-eyed boy.
Mrs. Morgan rolled her eyes. She ran her finger over the scar on my left cheek. “Who would ruin such a handsome face?” She moved around to the other side of the kitchen. “Besides, ” she continued without letting me answer the question. I had a lie to tell, because the truth was so much stranger. “He can cook. He’ll make sure you don’t wither away and die.” She grinned at me, “He needs to get out in the sun more too – and moving. Tap, tap, tap in that basement of his.”
She went back to her cooking. I grinned at Sage. “I’ll see what I can do.” I slide off the stool and took Sage’s hand in mind. “I think I’ll drag his pale butt outside now. I need to check on Drake anyway.”
She nodded and continued her work and Sage dutifully slid from his perch and followed me out the backdoor into their backyard. The yard itself was set up with tables and chairs, a grill was warming in the corner of the cement patio they had everything set up on, and a small corner of grass in the backyard housed the little dragon and Nichole kicking a ball across the yellowing grass.
It was warmer than a typical July which was no problem for me, but I was behaving and not chilling the air like I typically do. I was going to be sweating by the end of this holiday event.
Rosie and Carla and several other women I didn’t know were setting the tables up and decorating the yard with red, white, and blue and other patriotic things. Rosie grinned across at us as we made our way down the steps hand in hand.
Hannah smiled at me and pulled another woman over. “This is Marjorie. She’s Sage’s thrid cousin.”
I smiled at her and offered my hand. “Nox.” She took it shyly and I pulled it to my lips and kissed it softly. “A pleasure, Marjorie.”
She giggled and her and Hannah went off whispering. Sage called out after them, “Aunt Hannah.”
Both of them turned around and Sage pulled me close and laid an aggressive kiss on my lips that left me wanting in my surprise. I licked my lips and bit my bottom one out of desire and Sage turned backed to them breaking eye contact to taunt them, “He’s mine.”
Hannah laughed, “Well played, Sage, well played.”
I looked at my love and shook my head. “Can I go play now, or do you need to show me off?”
Sage waved his hand in front of him, in the classic be my guest fashion and grinned up at me. “Go play. You can be such a child sometimes.”
I laughed. “What? I get along better with kids my own virtual age.”
Sage chuckled as he moved to where Rosie was setting up things on another table which I assumed was for the food as I went and sat down in the middle of the yellow square of grass. I plopped down smack dab in the middle of the kids games. Drake grinned down at me as I laid back on the grass. “Dad!” he said with excitement as he jumped onto my stomach. Nichole was soon to follow and both were climbing on me as I laid my hands on the dying grass.
Drake giggled at me. “Do it.”
I laughed at his exuberance, and I couldn’t deny him the miracle of my magic. I spread my fingers into the dirt and I sent the earth and the grass every resource at my disposal. The yellowing grass perked up, and started to green. It was nearly undetectable but Nichole gasped and leaned down and whispered in my ear, “You can do magic?”
The pure joy in that statement alone was enough to make me smile. Drake quickly hushed her, “Shhhh. You can’t tell anyone.”
Nichole nodded, “What else can you do?”
I sat up on the now very pliable green grass and both kids huddled in front of me blocking the view from outside our bodies. I formed a small flickering flame, and a tiny rain cloud with thunder and lightning included, the wind swirled underneath it and on the ground I spun my finger and a tiny dust tornado picked up tiny particles and flung them around.
I felt Sage approaching and when I looked up to see him, he was grinning. The kids on the other hand were surprised and dashed away all my pretty objects when Sage towered over them. He giggled and I leaned back on the green grass and stared up at the clouds past my loves head. “Are you cheating?” he asked
I shook my head. “Never.”
Sage sat down next to me and pulled my head into his lap making me adjust my position. But I enjoyed the feeling of Sage’s legs underneath my head. Dirty thoughts rolled into my head as I thought about all the things I could do later. A smile spread on my lips and Sage was chuckling down at me. “To be a fly on the inside of those thoughts.”
I laughed. “I’ll let you in on all those thoughts later.”
Sage grinned down before planting an upside down kiss on my lips with a gentle caress of his lips against mine. I let out a soft sigh of pleasure. I was in heaven with my boys.
Drake was pawing through my hoodie looking for my phone and when he found it he sat on my stomach. “Umph” I spat out between breaths. The little dragon wasn’t heavy but he was far from light when he was unexpected.
He flipped through my phone like it was nothing and found my Spotify playlists and picked his favorite. The small speaker sounded off instantly with a big band song. Drake tugged at my hands. “Dance!”
I asked him, “You gonna dance with me?”
He shook his head and I laughed, “You want me to dance by myself?”
Drake shrugged. “Sage, or Mama Rosie?”
Sage shook his head, “I don’t think so.”
I pouted at my boyfriend from the ground and he smiled at me. “Dance with Carla.”
Carla turned and frowned at us, “What about me?”
I asked as I stood up and dusted off my jeans and hoodie from the lingering yellowed grass. “Do you want to dance with me?”
Carla shook her head no way. “Go make Aunt Hannah.”
I sighed, but I complied and I didn’t ask this time. I shouted to Sage, “Restart the song, please.”
The music started and I grabbed Hannah’s hand and I pulled her towards me in a graceful spin and she looked up at me with a furious grin. I coaxed her into dancing with me by moving to the music. She dutifully watched my feet and my arms as I started teaching her how to do one of the many 20’s era dances that went with that particular song Drake had chosen. Halfway through she was doing pretty well. I started to add a little flare and she laughed at my antics as I spun her around and lifted her up and tossed her from side to side.
By the end of the song Hannah was panting and laughing which meant she was gasping for breathe as she tried to speak, “That was fun. You are good.”
I smiled. “I try.” The next song started and I didn’t bother with the dance partner and just showed off. I had learned many variations of dances as child and could do which ever part was required but I enjoyed free styling as they said – going wherever the mood took me.
There was an unexpected pause of the song that had me stopping to look up as the music blared out of a much large speaker. I sighed. “Fine. But you are dancing next song.” I looked to Sage and he shook his head. I nodded. “Yes, you are.”
Drake was giggling as he picked the next song. I wasn’t sure what that would mean. It could be a lovely dovey song or it could be something far more erotic for the two of us if he chose poorly.
The next song started and I crooked my finger at Sage and he reluctantly came to me with a mock frown on his face. He was so cute when he pouted I sucked his bottom lip into my mouth and kissed him softly and I pull against me and just let the music take us where it went.
It wasn’t what Sage and I would dance like in a club in the darkness and throng of people around us. It was a lot more tame than that but it wasn’t a prescripted dance either, more like we knew what each other would do and reacted. There was no leading and following. But Sage’s arms were around my waist and I had one arm slung around his neck and the other on his hip.
Dusty yelled from the backdoor, “Getta room!”
Sage turned a pretty shade of red and I kissed him deeply to make it worse. He bit my lip in retaliation. I couldn’t help but grin at him as the next song started to play and he left me to go talk with Dusty. Drake and Nichole joined me on my make shift dance floor – which really was just a clear spot of the driveway that wasn’t covered with tables and chairs. I always enjoyed dancing with the kids they liked to copy what ever you did. It was fun.
Danny and Dusty were both out in the backyard now standing around the grill. I was noticing a definite separation of duties here and it was annoying, but I wasn’t human so I supposed that I would find it so. Sage and everyone else seemed to accept the division of groupings. But I was soon distracted by a few older kids who joined us from down the block. It seemed the music and the now cooking meat was pulling in more people.
Sage was lingering in a corner by himself. I watched him from the dance floor. He would speak to Danny or Dusty, but few others spoke to him. He looked bored. I wasn’t being a very good boyfriend. I patted Drake on the shoulder and knelt down and whispered to my boy, “I’m gonna go keep Sage company.” He nodded and continued his wiggling. He was enjoying himself.
I walked past the women and the few men gathering near the grill to stand in front of Sage who was tapping away at his phone completely oblivious to everything around him. “Should I take that away so you’ll spend time with your family?” I asked him with a wide grin.
Sage looked up and tapped one last time and tucked his phone into his pocket. He shook his head. “No.” He stared past me, but I didn’t turn to look and see. Sage sighed. “Want to meet my last girlfriend?”
I frowned and turned to look at the girl who was standing just the other side of our makeshift dance floor leaning against the corner of the house chatting with Carla. She was wearing a pair of daisy dukes and a red halter top that left little to the imagination. She was definitely sex in that outfit and her hair pulled up into a high pony tail. Her make up was well done though the lipstick while it matched her shirt was a bit to dark for my liking. I extended my ear to hear what was being said – not a trick I liked to use often.
Carla whispered, “Jeanie, you shouldn’t be here.”
Sage’s ex smiled, “Grana invited me. And it’s a block party, isn’t it?”
“G, he’s got someone with him.” Carla exclaimed probably louder than she meant to as she looked around to see who was listening and she frowned at me when she saw me. I took a few steps towards her and Carla shook her head. Too late I mouthed to her.
I could feel Sage’s eyes on me as I skirted the dance floor and stood next to Carla. “Who’s this pretty thing?” I asked.
Carla sighed with exasperation. “This is Jeanie. She was just leaving.”
Jeanie rolled her eyes but I gave her a welcoming smile. “I’m Nox.” I offered her my hand.
She looked down at my painted nails and laughed. “Is this who Sage brought?”
I grinned at her, “And if I am?”
She stood up straight and looked me up and down assessing me in whatever fashion she thought fit. Her frown gave more information than I needed, but I waited for her response. “You know he’s not gay, right?”
I nodded. “I’m perfectly aware of that fact. Neither am I.”
“Oh so, you fuck girls, too?” She spat out bitterly.
I smiled. “Such a vulgar mouth from such a pretty thing. You kiss your mama with that mouth? I’ve enjoyed the company of a woman or a hundred.” It was perfect timing to see a blond with purple highlights strolling down the driveway with her equally blonde sister who turned on her heels when she saw me. I grinned at her. “Alice, don’t run.” I called after her. “Come prove a point for me.”
Alice sighed, and I heard Sage stop next to me. He wasn’t showing any emotion what-so-ever and that was troubling. Alice stood next to me and I offered her my hand which she took. “Sweet Alice.” I put her hand to my lips and kissed gently. “Do I enjoy the fairer sex?”
She blushed and hid her eyes behind her hand but nodded. Alice took a deep breath and looked over at Jeanie. “He and I had a good time several months back. Though I will say I was highly intoxicated.”
I smiled. “I wasn’t. But for some reason, I didn’t remember your good friend until he enlightened me.”
Alice snorted. “You fucking flirted with him more than me.”
I laughed. “Are you surprised?”
She rolled her eyes. “No. Sage is cute, if a little bit too much of a wallflower for me.”
I turned to Sage. “That seems to be the consensus – though I will admit to not seeing it.”
Sasha laughed and ran her fingers through the bright blue tips on my head. “You purposefully match to his eyes, don’t you?”
I grinned. “It’s one of my favorite colors, now.”
Sasha grabbed Alice by the arm and Sage by the hand and they wandered away from Jeanie and I. Carla had left when the conversation turned to my sex life. I guess she hadn’t wanted to hear the stories.
I smiled at Jeanie. “You are welcome to stay. There is plenty of food and loud music for everyone.” I left Sage’s ex trying to find a way to be insulting to my invite. It wasn’t my party and she was welcomed by Grana, who was I to renig such an offer.
Sage was chatting away with Sasha and Alice and looking a lot more comfortable so I went to the dance floor and lifted my little dragon up on to my shoulders and took Nichole’s hands and we did the jitterbug to the same song I’d danced to before, either the playlist was repeating, or it had just randomly gotten to that point after we’d set up to play without Drake selecting songs. Either way it didn’t matter as I twirled and tossed Sage’s 8-year-old niece around the dance floor.
The dance floor filled and emptied several times before dinner was on. Tables and chairs were full of people, even the sidewalk and patch of newly greened grass was occupied. I was happy to see that Sage and his friends had taken refuge on the grassy green. Drake and Nichole were sitting behind the group of four friends. Somewhere alone the line Sasha’s boyfriend showed up and the four of them were chatting while eating. I was one of the last people to get food – mostly because I’d been dealing with Drake and Nichole’s plates and neither one of them were being cooperative. I gave up and had just put things on their plate.
It gave me the opportunity to decide what I was going to eat that would cause the least anxiety. There wasn’t much I would consider healthy. The table was loaded down with wonderfully smelling Mexican foods, dips and various chips, tons of bread and tortillas, hot dogs and burgers. The vegetables were mostly raw platters and toppings. The salads were pasta and potato and other things that looked like jello and whip cream delights.
I was going to be eating when we got home, I could foresee that already. Until Danny stood next to me with a chuckle. “Can’t find anything your delicate stomach can manage?”
I shook my head. “I can see a night in the bathroom, or an empty stomach in my future.”
Danny lifted the tin foil of the platter he was holding and there was grilled chicken, and steak. I smiled at him. “Sage said you’d have issues. So do Rosie and I. The moon is close.”
I nodded knowingly as I stabbed a chicken breast and dropped it on my plate with a sigh of relief. “The rest you’ll have to deal with I’m sorry, vegetables aren’t par for course in my house for obvious reasons.”
I smiled. “Thank you, Danny.” He went off to share his plate with Rosie and Carla while I finished putting a dab of everything short of the sticky sweet things on my plate. I probably wouldn’t touch it, but I’d at least attempt to make an effort. I had a staple I could manage and plenty of raw vegetables to eat – I would be good.
When my plate was finally finished I made my way over to Sage and his friends. My blue eye boy looked up from the ground with a great big smile and made room for me almost literally in his lap. He crossed one leg under him and the other he bend with his knee pointing up to the sky so he could keep me close. He patted the grass in front of him and I folded neatly down into the spot he’d made for me leaning in to give him a small kiss before I returned to my seat.
Alice groaned, “Get a room.”
I grinned at her with a knowing look. She blushed even before I said, “Why, we didn’t.”
She bowed her head and hid her face behind her hair. “I was drunk!”
I laughed, “I wasn’t.” Sage’s fingers slayed across my back just above my waist but he’d wormed his way under my shirts to rub small circles against my back and tracing the outlines of the deep scars at my back. I froze mid bit while I adjusted to his touch. He leaned forward and placed a kiss on my cheek and hummed softly in my ear to comfort me. He whispered, “Do you want me to stop?”
I shook my head, but I couldn’t manage to say anything. Sage chuckled softly in my ear before he kissed my cheek again and returned to his seat and his hand continued play with my back. I focused on the tender touch and relaxed slowly into it. Sage hummed softly to himself when I started to eat my food again. Such was the affect my boyfriend had on me. My biggest don’t touch me place was actually a place of comfort once I got past my own issues with it. I trusted Sage implicitly, I knew he would never hurt me physically or emotionally on purpose. It was a topic we’d covered a great many times this week while I stayed with him, it was sad it was coming to a bitter end. I was going to miss his constant companionship.
The conversation around me flowed easily between him and his friends and I was able to stay in my own little world until Sasha said something and Sage had to tap me on the back to get my attention. I turned to look at him and he smiled at me. “He didn’t hear you, Sash, he was off in la-la land.”
I turned to Sage’s purple haired friend, “I’m sorry.”
She only smiled. “What exactly do you do? Sage is so cryptic about it.”
I smiled. “Technically, you’d call me a bounty hunter, but I do a lot of private investigation. It’s actually how I met Danny a few years back.”
Sasha’s boyfriend asked, “So you met Sage through his dad?”
“God, no.” I laughed. “I met Sage at Aspect. I was using him to get away from a girl who had been following me around. A little homophobia to scare away the annoying chicks. I didn’t recognize who he was, though I did remember him from somewhere. Can’t forget those eyes, though. We danced until Sasha came to take him away from me. He gave me his number, and took something from me. I probably wouldn’t have called him back except my best friends wife texted Sage and when he responded I was forced to hold a conversation. We’ve spent a good deal of time together since then.”
Sasha laughed. “Yeah, you are like staying with him for the past week.”
I nodded. “More of a prescribed vacation from my guardian. I recently was informed of some earth shattering news regarding my family history and the people who raised me and I was a mess. Dorian insisted I leave home for a few days and relax. And Sage has been very therapeutic.”
“You call your guardian by his first name?” Alice asked.
“Well Dorian isn’t exactly my guardian. He no more raised me than Margo did. They were the two adults short of my mentor, Dae’lin, who made sure my simple needs were met. I didn’t meet my father until I was 18 and our relationship is a little strained.”
Sage added, “It’s getting better now. And Drake is helping that.”
“You adopted a kid already? Doesn’t that get in the way of your lifestyle?” Alice asked.
I laughed. “You mean the hook ups?” Alice nodded and I shook my head. “I’d been wanting to settle down for a while. Drake’s parents were lost to the legal system and his mother insisted I look after him since he and I had similar circumstances. We are still figuring things out. My place isn’t meant for the two of us. One day soon hopefully I’ll be able to move to someplace bigger and I can have the family I want.”
Sasha grinned and added, “Or you could just move in with Sage.”
I smiled. “As much as I’d like that, I don’t think either of us are ready for that level of in each other’s space. But it’s always a possibility for the future.”
Sage finished chewing and whispered, “You can stay if you want to.”
I smiled at him and leaned over and kissed him softly, “We’ll talk about that when we don’t have prying ears.”
Sasha laughed. “Oh come on, you two kissy face and you don’t let us her all the good gossip!”
“It’s not something you need to be privy too right now Sasha.” Sage added. “Nox and I need to talk it over.”
I was pretty sure that Sasha’s boyfriend’s name was Bryan but I couldn’t be certain. But he grumped at us, “He eat anything other than rabbit food and healthy crap?”
Sage laughed, “Absoultely not. Occassionally I can get him to share a chocolate milk shake with me. But I do have to hide any choclate in the house or I won’t get anyay.”
“A typical girl.” Bryan laughed.
I rolled my eyes. And Sage just shook his head as he moved his empty plate to the side and pulled me closer and more into his lap. He hid in the crook of my neck and kissed the exposed skin under his lips. He was taking comfort in me and providing it as well. He was attempting to keep me from making any comments about being a girl. I really hated people who stereotyped. I’d rather be called a fag than something he considered a girl.
Sasha elbowed Bryan. “Bry, behave. They are cute together.”
“I’ll never get used to Sage’s choice in partners, Sasha.”
I stuck my tongue out at Bryan. “We’ll just have to remember not to invite you to any dinners.” I tilted my head back and reached up behind Sage’s head and pulled him down for a kiss. “We’ll talk about that later. I’m going to go mingle.”
Sage nodded and smiled while he watched me move through the labrynth of tables.
Danny and Rosie were dining together and I sat down with them. “Thank you for having me here, Danny. It’s interesting seeing a normal family getting together. I’ve spent dinners with the Vega’s but they aren’t normal. Though I think they mostly get along better now. Was hard with Dorian being their black lamb and he was the reason I was there.”
Rosie smiled, “Nox, you are always welcome with us. I know it’s difficult to be normal since you are very not. It’s a matter of pride with you”
“I’m alright. I cheated a little. Nichole and Drake were awed by the greening of the grass. Sage scared them coming over and they broke all my pretty toys.”
Danny laughed. “I’m sure you can make them all over again.”
“I can. ”
Carla sat down next to me. “Nicky likes you.”
“Everyone likes me.” I bragged.
She laughed and wrapped an arm around me and hugged. “This your last night with Sage?”
I nodded. “He said I could stay if I wanted to. We need to talk about it still. But, yeah, it’s supposed to be.”
Carla smiled, “Let me and Mama take Drake so you two can talk then and make a decision. Nicky is always wanting a little brother, but one is hard enough being a single mom.”
I smiled. “If he wants to that’s great. And I’ll repay the favor with a sleep over one night, so you can have a girls night out or a date or something.”
Carla smiled and offered me her hand, “Deal.” Which I took with a smile.
Drake was running past the back of my chair with Nichole in tow and I scooped both of them up in my arms. “Hey Drake, you want to spend the night with Nicky and her mama?”
Drake looked at me hopefully. “I tired. I can’t hold it all night.”
I smiled. “When you go home with Ms. Carla you can let go okay?”
Carla leaned down and whispered into the little dragon’s ear, “I love your eyes. They are so pretty and unique.”
Drake beamed. “Okay.”
“We’ll come get him in the morning so we don’t worry about clothes, and I’ll bring some to keep at your Mama’s house since it might become a usual thing.”
Carla nodded. “Sounds good.” She leaned over and whispered. “I’m sorry about Jeanie. Grana’s always liked her, said she should be Sage’s wife. But she’s a bit too self centered for Sage.”
“I’m self centered, are you saying I’m too much for Sage?” I grinned playfully at her, but she frowned and paled at my comment before she saw my smile.
“No, that’s the thing. You aren’t. Sure you play at it. When he was with G, she never let him out of her sight, he was on a short leash, he couldn’t even talk to another girl. If he looked like he was going to go after a guy she did it first. She was always center stage. You distract people from Sage, but you don’t want to be there. You want to be in his arms alone and curled up in bed with your family.” Carla smiled. “He’s never been happier.” She laughed. “He keeps stealing glances at you.”
“I am pretty to look at.” I bragged as I looked over at my boyfriend with a grin. His smile brightened and he looked away shyly. “But I’m the lucky one.”
Carla smiled. “I’m glad you think so.” She stood up with her hand on my shoulder and leaned down to whisper. “Or I might have to beat you up for my little brother.”
I laughed. “Bring it baby.”
She kissed my cheek and wiped it off as she walked past. Sage unfolded from the ground and walked over to me and sat down with his back to the table. I turned myself sideways and draped a leg over his and pressed myself close to him. He leaned back surveying the scene with his arms on the table perched. We chatted with his parents, and his family the rest of the night. Only moving a little when Drake and Nichole came by, or to make room for more people at the table.
It was a good night. Sage wasn’t quite in his element, but he relaxed and I got to know his human family a little more than before. It was an interesting case study of family life, and of being human. I wasn’t sure I could do it everyday, but I was willing to try with Sage. I’d do anything for him.
The fireworks that ended the night were nothing short of spectacular – both the ones outside and the ones in the bedroom.
This was a second contest that AJ entered. However, we can’t find any record she ever did. Though we both swear to it.
The musty smell of the cavern mingled with the apple pie Nox was licking off of his fingers. His mother insisted on going first, “This my hunt. My rules.”
Nox rolled his eyes as he followed after Leanna Sétanta musing over how much he hated apple pie. His current partner and handler, Michaela, insisted he eat it to play nice. It didn’t sit well with Nox.
Michaela stayed outside, keeping watch. It was his hunt but his mother refused to let it be. It was her inability to catch this rogue beast that landed him here. The werebear had mauled at least three humans in nearby towns. The action violated the Clandestine Providence, the law by which all supernatural creatures existed. And it was the Venatori’s job to upload that law.
The law said Nox had every right to slay the once human. He had no intentions of doing so but he would defend himself. An invisible weave of air settled in front of him and a fireball hung in the air just out of reach.
Leanna scolded him, “None of that magic shit, boy. Use your damn weapon.”
Nox sighed and dropped the shield of air and drew his gun from the holster at his back. The fireball hung in the ether still waiting for his final touch before release. His mother would never know.
Leanna hummed with satisfaction at Nox’s apparent obedience.
They walked deeper into the cavern and the scent of musk grew stronger. A deafening growl echoed in front of them. There was no time to react as the human-in-bear-form lunged at them.
Its muzzle latched on to his mother’s arm and shook her like a rag doll. Teeth sank into flesh. A bone breaking crunch echoed through the cavern. The bear lashed out at Nox behind his mother. Razor-sharp claws raked across his chest leaving three long ragged wounds.
The wounds healed but the poison coursed through his body.
Nox completed his fireball as he fought through the pain.
The ball of fire flew to its target only a few feet away. The bear yowled in pain, backing up several paces.
Nox grabbed his mother by her now free arm and yanked her to safety ignoring the screams of agony.
The bear charged Nox with flaming fur and a too human scream echoing between the rock walls.
A flaming sword appeared in Nox’s hand.
The glowing blade impaled the bear as the momentum carried Nox and the beast into the cave walls. The impact crushed the air from his lungs.
Nox gasped for a breath.
Michaela had rushed in yelling undefinable words as the weight of the beast crushed his chest. The bear’s lifeless form fell to the floor.
Nox fought for air as he thanked his Venatori healing. The tender burns from the beast-on-fire faded and the poison left his system. Nox stood up and felt the ache of broken ribs knitting together. He searched the area and found Michaela helping his all-too-human mother.
Leanna’s cradled her broken arm. Her veins were black with werebear venom as her body shook from the shock to her system.
Nox knelt down next to them and pulled at his power to create a split of air.
The moment it touched his mother’s skin she cursed, “Don’t touch me with that fucking shit!”
Nox ignored his mother and tried again.
This time his mother backhanded him with her good arm. The blow landing square against his jaw.
With a heavy sigh, Nox stood up and left Michaela to tend to his mother. Outside in the cool autumn air Nox’s thoughts drifted to the only times he remembered of his mother. The pain from his abandonment washed over him. And when she finally made the effort to see him again he was 18, a requirement for his graduation. Both of his parents had to be present. He hadn’t even known his father lived in the same building as he did his entire life.
Michaela came out of the cavern mouth carrying his mother over her shoulder. “She passed out,” she said with a humorous lilt to her voice, “Care to help me?”
Nox didn’t hesitate as he made a litter out of air.
His partner laid his mother down with care. Michaela smiled up at him then brushed a blue lock of hair out of his face. “And only one hair out of place,” she teased. Her thumb trailed under his eye as she frowned. “Though it looks like you’ve been crying.”
Nox turned away from her and wiped at his eyes – smearing eyeliner across the backs of his hands. He hadn’t noticed the sting of his tears that the memories of his mother brought on. Nox laughed to hide the pain and poured all the humor he had into his words. “My perfect record. Tarnished.”
Michaela laughed as she picked up the litter. “You’ve only had two hunts. Both were excellent kills.”
Nox heard the pride in her voice. It was good to know she was happy with his progress thus far. He picked up the litter and they walked towards the Jeep parked half a mile north of their current location.
He sighed. “I wasn’t talking about that record. No deaths. No injuries.”
“Your mother knew the price.” She smiled at him. “All hunters know the price.”
“I know,” Nox replied, “But I don’t have to like it.”
The rest of the walk was in silence. Michaela rode in the backseat with his mother and he drove to the Infirmary. They couldn’t take her to a human hospital. They wouldn’t be able to do anything there.
Nox looked in the rear-view mirror.
Michaela caught his eye and asked, “What’s the problem between you two?”
Nox gave an uneasy laugh. “She sent me to New York when I was five because I sparked. She spat at me and called me a monster. I caught the curtains on fire – it was an accident but she didn’t care.”
Michaela frowned back at him. “She was just upset. I’m sure she only sent you away for the best training. She loves you. She even made you pie.”
Nox laughed. “At any point did it sound liked she loves me? She sent me away because I made her afraid. I reminded her of all the weird shit in the world and that monsters murdered her family. I’m a monster in her eyes. Not her son.”
By the time they reached the Infirmary his mother was barely holding on to her life. They rushed her into the Infirmary and medics took over from there. The venom of the werebear bite would either claim his mother, or it would turn her into one of them. At least she wasn’t Venatori; she at least had a chance to live.
They managed to stabilize her and when she was lucid she asked for Michaela.
Nox stood outside watching through the window of the door because she’d not invited him in. The pain skirted his mother’s face as she spoke with Michaela. His mother only spared him one glance filled with disgust. She spoke to Michaela and waved her hands in a shooing motion meant for Nox.
He took the hint and started walking around the compound. The same crushing feeling he had when he was five overwhelmed his being. He thought he’d worked through this aspect of his childhood. He had been wrong, this hunt only brought the feelings rushing back.
The chaotic din of the cafeteria brought Nox out of his pained thoughts. The smell of bitter coffee wafted his direction. Nox bought a cup before continuing on his aimless walk. The only thing left to do was wait.
When Nox returned to his mother’s room, Michaela was standing outside. A team of medics tended to his mother’s convulsing form.
Nox watched as the werebear venom claimed his mother’s life. It was a pain filled death, and Nox wished she wouldn’t have died this way – the pain and hatred combined.
Her body stilled and the doctors left the room. One asked him, “Do you want to see her?”
Nox shook his head. He had nothing to say to her. She meant nothing to him, but memories of making apple pie with his mother crept into his mind. It was so long ago, he’d almost forgotten. It was a simpler time – a happier time.
Michaela joined him as he walked out the door.
Nox plastered a fake smile on his face and joked to hide the pain. “There will be no more apple pie.”
AJ wrote the first time I met Dorian. I’d provide you the link where it’s published, but it reveals too much information so instead I’ll repost it here. Pretty sure it’s not any where here yet.
My mother was angry at me and I didn’t know why. The airport was a long way from home, but I could still see the tiny purple snow-capped peaks where we lived. The open space around us only made my fears grow stronger. It raged through me as I clung to my mother’s legs. Burying my face in my mother’s jeans the only thing I could smell was the harsh scent of tobacco smoke and dirt. It had been hours since her last cigarette, and her mood only grew darker.
A woman called out again over the intercom system, “Last call for Flight 1105 to JFK – Last call.” My mother attempted to pry me from her legs. But I held on with one arm wrapped around her knee, and the other held on to my little, stuffed dragon. He came everywhere with me. “Let go Nox. We have to get on the plane.” Her voice was as harsh as her smell. It hadn’t always been like that. It had only recently filled with hatred and disdain. She used to love me but now she hated me. I cried even harder. What had I done to make my mother hate me?
The memory rushed into my mind. I could see the fire on the curtain. I had stared at it, but I wasn’t exactly sure how. It just happened. I saw things shift and take form. My mother yelled at me. “What the fuck!” Then she grabbed me by the shoulders and shook. “Did you do that?”
I shook my head. I didn’t know. I was quaking in fear, terrified of my mother, of the fire, and of what I had just done. I hadn’t meant to. My mother rushed into the kitchen and grabbed the fire extinguisher. The large red canister let out a fog of white and the flames went out. All I could do was cough as she threw the red tube past my head. I remembered the look on my mother’s face as she spat at me and yelled, “Go to your room.”
And now, the next morning, we were at the airport. My mother took my arm roughly and pulled me from her. I yelped at her grip on my arm. The pain added to my fear as she dragged me towards the plane. My sobs were still shaking my body. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want a new home.
Inside the plane was full of people. The countless smells of the other passengers bombarded my senses. Everything was mixed and mingled together, I could smell wood and musk on top of sickly sweet perfume with hints of rose petals in it. But I couldn’t tell what smell went with what person. It made my skin crawl with so many different things happening at once. We sat down in empty seats in the front of the plane. My mother buckled me in, and I curled up in my seat. I cried to myself I didn’t want to leave.
A woman came on over the intercom as the plane jerked forward and my heart caught in my throat. I cried harder. The plane tilted and the world spun out of control. My body shook with silent sobs. My mother gave me a juice that tasted horrible. As my mind went fuzzy I heard her say, “Finally, peace and quiet,” as I drifted off into the bleakness of my own mind.
When the blurred world started to become focused again I was in the terminal, waiting alone. I start to panic as I look around. Relief settled my panic as I saw my mother was standing at the door talking with a man. She touched his arm with a soft laugh. I was still alone and I didn’t dare move because my mother was already angry with me.
The knuckles on my hand were white with the strain of clenching the arms of my chair. I was still feeling a little strange from the juice my mother had given me. I don’t know how long I sat there. I didn’t move. I waited and waited. It felt like forever.
I watched as people went by. I could hear my mother’s anger getting stronger, “Where the fuck is he? I have a plane to catch.” I could feel the tears welling up inside me. She was leaving me here, in this strange place, alone.
A man rushed past the terminal and then he doubled back. He looked at me with piercing blue eyes like he could see straight through me. He smiled at me, but I didn’t know him. I hugged Mushu to me for comfort even though Mushu was such a small dragon; he could not hurt a cricket. The man walked towards me. He looked at the black watch on his wrist and then back at me.
When he stood in front of me he asked, “Are you Nox?” I only nodded. I was afraid to speak.
He knelt down to my level, pulling the black dress pants up revealing black sock to go with his black shoes. He offered me a hand, “Hi, I’m Dorian. I’m here to pick you up and take you to your new home.”
My mother left the other man and rushed over. I felt her grab my shoulder and push me down into the chair. “You must be Dorian Vega? You’re late! I’ve been here an hour.” I was glad my mother wasn’t aiming her anger at me, but her fingers were digging into my shoulder and it hurt. I started to whimper.
The man stood up and looked down at me then back up to my mother. “You said 11 am, not 10.” He didn’t look happy. “You’re hurting the boy. I have it from here, Ms. Sétanta. You can return home. I’ll send you notice of Academy visitation days.”
My mother removed her hand and I was free of her grasp. I pulled away from her, but she was already walking away. She left without a good-bye – nothing. I didn’t know what I had done that was so bad and tears started streaming down my cheeks again.
I wanted my mother. I didn’t want a new home! I tried to slip further back into my chair, but I was already as far back as I could go. I pulled my legs up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them squishing Mushu. It was uncomfortable, but I didn’t care.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up. Mushu’s head popped up where my chin had been resting. “Who do you have there?” He asked and pointed at the stuffed dragon peeking over my knees.
“Mushu,” I whispered through my tears.
“Well. Mushu, can you and Nox come with me?” He held out his hand. I nodded and put my hand in his. He helped me get out of the chair, but I my body didn’t quite work and I stumbled into him. I felt his arms wrap around me; I could smell cinnamon and vanilla. Dorian whispered in my ear, “It’s going to be okay.” He smelled safe and comforting and I believed him.