Chapter 11 [and I suppose this might be the ending... or maybe chapter 12] is already half way done. It's quite interesting actually as I try to fit the puzzles in... like finally. I'm still waiting for my editor to send me back chapter 9 n 10 drafts then hopefully it'll be up by the end of the week. *cross fingers*
Then of course, there's the little side track I did with the children. It's good that I am starting on something and building it up so that by the time I'm halfway through, I could probably upload them all up in one shot. Authors do that all the time don't they? They write so many stories at the same time I wonder how their minds handle all the ideas!
Anyway, after I've written eight paragraphs introducing the main protagonists in the story, I'm suddenly left with the choice of deciding to pair whom with whom.
Alex [Pearl and Mike's youngest boy] is well... the only male character and there are three females. It could go either way of course and I'm sure I'll be able to come up with something regardless of the pairing.
I've decided to post the draft here and hopefully I'd get some views on whom you'd like to see get together eventually. They're still young at this age so I'm going to need to fast forward another 5 years or so before anything happens.
Alex was ten years old and he hated to play tea parties with his sisters and their silly girlfriends. Why oh why had Aunt Sydney and Aunt Fiona both had girls?
“Come on Alex, stop being such a baby,” said his eldest sister Clara. Alex pursed his lips as an answer. That was another thing he didn’t understand. Why was it being born ten minutes after Clara and three minutes after Mira meant he was the youngest? They were all ten years old and he was much much bigger than both his sisters!
“But you’re still a baby. You carry that stuffed panda everywhere.” Alex turned towards the voice and shot out a chilled look –one that he had learned from Uncle Alaron.
“You shouldn’t be reading people’s minds. It’s rude,” he stuck out his tongue and hugged his panda closer.
The blonde girl with sharp green eyes simply shrugged.
“Just ignore him Keona. It’s a girls party anyway,” said a strawberry blonde girl.
“Faith! You’re supposed to be my cousin. You can’t side with her!” said Alex in exasperation. Faith was Uncle Dominic’s and Aunt Sydney’s daughter and by blood relation alone should have been in his camp.
But before she could reply, the door opened and two more girls came shrieking in, jumping on the beds with glee. Alex wrinkled his nose in disapproval. Girls shouldn’t behave like that.
“Oh, I’m sure you know all about girls, Alex,” sniggered one of the new addition to the group. This one was called Naira and her giggling cousin was called Marine. The two of them often came to visit to play with Keona, their other cousin. Alex didn’t mind Marine; she was nice for a Vampire but he hated the other two to the guts. They were younger than him by three years but he got bullied by them all the time.
Almost on cue, Naira bobbed towards him and peered at his face with her big blue eyes -eyes she inherited from her mother. It winked at him as wolf eyes usually do but Alex didn’t like it one bit… even if her mother was the one who’d always patch him up when he was injured.
“Papa won’t like hearing you say such things,” warned Keona unapologetically. Alex snarled at her for he knew she was reading his mind… again. Alpha pup or not, Alex stuck out his tongue at her.
Alex was ten and he hated girls.
He really hated girls… okay, maybe not all girls but just two of the most annoying little brats in the entire world.
Alex was sixteen –almost a man, in his opinion –and he just had his ass thrown into the lake behind Uncle Dominic’s house.
It really sucked to grow up with girls for he had no male peers to spar with. They were learning hand to hand combat for god sake! He’d never dare lay a hand on the girls and of course they used that to their advantage… like now.
Dominic was frowning when Alex finally pulled himself out of the water.
“You’re not going to learn anything if you only block attacks,” he lectured.
“But Uncle… she’s a girl!” he cried, pointing to Keona who was rolling her eyes at him.
“She’s a girl who can obviously read your attacks even before they happen. And you were so obsessed with blocking her that she literally pushed you until the edge of the bank.”
Alex heard a giggle. Why are girls always giggling?
“And you… you know you’re not supposed to use your abilities during sparring sessions,” warned Dominic; his lips set in a straight line of disapproval. He knew that Naira was the one who had mentally ‘pushed’ Alex into the water. Keona on the other hand, never displayed her abilities outside the confines of her home.
“But he’s not my sparring partner. Faith is. That doesn’t count,” Naira said defiantly, grinning to the other girls.
Alex heard his own two sisters giggling. They were such traitors.
When Alex was eighteen, he decided he had enough of girls to last him a lifetime. That was why he was going to beg his Alpha not to send him to the same university as them. He’d die.
After knocking on Eian’s door, he waited for it to open and was surprised when cool green female eyes greeted him from behind the screen.
“I’m here to see your Dad.”
Keona didn’t answer him but lifted the latch then disappeared. Alex always wondered how she could be so cold when her parents certainly weren’t. Or maybe she reserved that only for him.
“Alex baby is that you?”
He winced. Fiona had been calling him that since forever. He was not a baby!
“Uh, yeah. I’m here to see Uncle Eian…”
A minute later, Fiona appeared; a warm smile on her face. “Come, have a sit first. I want you to try something I’ve been experimenting with.”
Alex froze. If Fiona was experimenting in the kitchen, that was always bad. She seemed to have picked up a liking for cooking but somehow cooking didn’t like her back. But when she handed him the tray of cookies, he took one so as to not hurt her feelings.
The sweet, buttery cookie melted in his mouth in an explosion and his hand reached out for another.
“Good?” she asked excitedly. “Kiki helped me with it. I think it’s wolf magic or something coz every time I do it myself it turns out terrible!” she laughed.
Kiki? Alex laughed out loud in his head and instantly regretted it. The hand holding his cookie suddenly decided to feed the cookie to his nose instead.
“Keona…” It was a warning tone.
Alex looked up. Alpha, his savior! Immediately the hold on his hand was gone.
Eian took a seat beside his wife, opposite Alex and looked warily at the tray of cookies on the table. Sending a furtive glance to his wife, he picked up a cookie and dared himself to eat.
“Keona helped her make it,” said Alex; that statement alone sufficient to answer Eian’s unspoken question.
The two males grinned.
“So why have you come here today Alex?” asked Eian.
“I’d like you to consider sending me to another university… preferably out of the country.”
Eian raised his eyebrow. That was a very daring request, for Eian never let the pups wander further than the UK.
“Are the universities here not of your standard?” he asked calmly, aware that his protective vibe was brushing on the young wolf.
“No they are not.” That was a direct challenge but the Alpha wolf admired the boy for his spine. “They do not offer me independence from my sisters and most definitely do not distinguish me from any other packmates. I will have the same education as them and the same experiences as them. I want more.”
Eian leaned back against the sofa and observed the boy before him. What had he been doing when he was eighteen? Eian paused to think… oh yes, he had been in one of the many territorial wars in France. But back then, children became men at a much younger age. This boy… was still a pup and against all his logic, he knew he should not allow him to leave the country.
But instead he asked, “Where?”
“What! No! That’s so unfair Daddy!” this came from the fifteen year old teenager stomping down the stairs; her blonde hair flying in her face. “I asked you first and you said no!”
Eian didn’t bother to turn. They had this conversation many times and she knew his stand on the issue. She was his baby and since Fiona was a Vampire, she had to abide by the 100 year rule to have another child. There was no way in hell ever that he was going to let Keona out of sight.
“Sweetheart… don’t raise your voice like that,” said Fiona, getting up to calm her daughter. Alex watched with interest at Keona’s sudden outburst. She wasn’t one to display emotions so openly and if his ears served him right, he could hear her sobbing.
One point to Alex.
Satisfied, he looked back at his Alpha and waited for the verdict.
“Since you’re now eighteen and officially an adult; you do not need to consult your parents on your decision. However, you should let them know… but I say yes.”
Alex’s smile was so wide that Eian couldn’t maintain his stern look anymore. The boy’s warmth as he hugged him melted whatever controlled anger he had for his daughter.
“Thank you Alpha… you don’t know how much this means to me. I won’t let you down.”
Eian smiled. “Prove it to me first then I’ll believe you.”
Of course Eian wasn’t going to let one of his pups live in a strange land all on his own. He knew there were wolf packs in America; some of which were probably part of his step-family but they held no loyalty to him.
Picking up the phone, he called Alaron; hoping to entice his brother-in-law with a plan.
“Hello? Give me a minute… Marine! You better clean up this mess before your mother gets home or else!”
Eian could hear Marine shouting something and stifled a laugh. The girls were entering the puberty age and as Pearl warned him –PMS.
“Oh hey Eian. What’s up?”
“I have a proposition for you.”
“No can do puppy. I’m married and happy.”
“Thank god for that,” teased Eian. “Well, actually I called to know what you’d think of a full sponsorship for Marine to study in the US?”
Alaron was silent for a while, clearly thinking. “She’s only thirteen Eian…”
“Yes I know,” he sighed. “Actually, it’s like this –Alex wants to study in America and although I said yes, I really would prefer if he had family with him and I don’t mean his sisters. God knows they drive him insane.”
“I thought since Marine’s about to enter high school, it won’t be as traumatic as asking Faith, Keona or Naira to transfer schools. They’ll probably claw my eyes out if I suggest it to them.”
“And you think Marine won’t? Her friends are here Eian…”
“Marine has a very soft personality so my eyes are safe. Besides, Alex is most comfortable around her. Plus, he has this thing for you so maybe it’s a spillover to your daughter too you know?”
Alaron rolled his eyes at that comment for he knew it was true. Alex, by some weird logic was very attached to him and looked up to him as much as he looked up to his own father.
“So you want me to move to America?”
“I have to be honest Alaron. It’s easier for Vampires to uproot but Weres live in packs. Draven’s living in the compound only because of Amber and I can tell it stifles him. On top of that, he’s on the board of Elders. He can’t leave Europe. And since Vampires prefer to go solo that makes you the best option.”
“Yeah yeah… okay. I love that brat anyway. I’ll speak with Erika and pray she won’t sucker punch me. She keeps forgetting she doesn’t have human strength now.”
Eian laughed. “Thanks Alaron. I owe you one. Give the ladies my love.”
4 years later
The rumble of his Suzuki GSX-R1000 came to a quiet din. With its sleek black body and aerodynamic cut, the motorcycle isn’t over the hill, baggy, overweight or gutless. It was built for speed, a little thrill but with the benefits of comfort. Plus it was a chick magnet.
Not that Alex needed it to attract the girls but it was an added bonus.
“You are such a show off,” said Marine, punctuating every word as she rolled her eyes at him. “All my friends are going to think you’re my boyfriend!” she accused even as she turned her head cautiously to make sure no one was looking. “And you’re late.”
Alex threw the spare helmet in her direction and shrugged. “Thirty minutes isn’t late. And if I were on time, your friends are going to start rumours that I’m your boyfriend… and that’s bad why?”
“Because you’re not…” she replied. “You’re like the most annoying big brother ever… like ever.”
When she crossed her legs to ride pillion, Alex nodded and concurred, “Damn right I am and you’re not having a boyfriend till you’re thirty.”
“What the…” her words were drowned by the sudden speed at which he accelerated the bike.
Alex could feel Marine gripping his waist, holding on for dear life but even with her body pressed against him, he didn’t feel anything other than brotherly love for her. Sure, he had been annoyed when Eian told him Marine was going to study in the US too but somehow he had been relieved that he had a friend.
Alex was aware that he was the only Werewolf in his school and while his human half disciplined him within the walls of the university, his feral side demanded release once in a while and the only person to understand that were Marine and her parents.
So every Friday, he’d pick her up from school and they’d go running in the many national forests of Idaho. He knew she was just keeping his wolf company but he appreciated it and in return, he watched over her. Of course she’d accuse him of scaring boys away and would get back at him by trying to outrun him… like today.
His tongue was flapping out; gasping for air as he continued chasing her. He’d learn from a young age that Vampires were really fast and that’s before you put Keona and Naira into the mix. They moved like lightning, it was scary at times.
“Aren’t you worn out yet?” asked Marine, running backwards to face him. She was grinning, knowing that she was taunting him but she didn’t care. She enjoyed her runs with him and it helped hone this new skill she’s discovered –moving faster than the speed of particles around her –literally stopping time. Of course, her parents didn’t know this and she intended to keep it her little secret.
Her cousins, Keona and Naira were exceptionally talented at copying other people’s abilities and she didn’t want to share hers with them. Being the only girl in the Culzean line that was not of mixed blood, she envied their ability and was so happy when she found out she was going to move to US. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her cousins; she did but sometimes they liked to treat her as a second class citizen and she didn’t like that.
“Goddamn it Marine! Where the hell are you?” Alex’s voice cut through her thoughts and it occurred to her that she was moving so fast that he couldn’t see her anymore. Alex must have shifted back or otherwise she wouldn’t have heard him. Her Uncle Draven said that only mates or pack members could hear each others’ thoughts. And she did not qualify for either.
Slowing down, she came into view and threw his bag pack with his clothes in front of him. She’d always tease that he made her carry his bag for him when she was the girl but really, the weight was negligible.
Alex tugged on his jeans and slumped himself against a tree trunk, obviously worn out.
“Good run,” he said, panting slightly. “I didn’t know you could run that fast.”
“Oh… it’s a secret,” she said with a smile, sitting down cross legged opposite him. “So, have you made your decision?”
“Yeah,” he snorted. “I’m continuing to law school. That’s another three years of freedom.”
They smiled at each other. Freedom was their little secret too.
“But I’m finishing high school… I don’t know if Daddy wants me to go back to UK. But I don’t want to. I mean I don’t even sound English anymore!”
Alex grinned. Losing their accent had been the first thing they did after their running sessions in the first year. For Alex, it was to fit in but for Marine, it was to create a new, more confident personality.
A sudden movement in the trees wiped the smile off his face; predatory instincts on full alert. He sniffed the air but nothing was unusual and after a long while, he relaxed. It was probably just a squirrel or something. Still, his instincts told him it was time to leave.
“Let’s go home,” he said, curling a protective arm around the seventeen year old he considered his younger sister.
“The two younglings are problematic,” this was voiced by a low, baritone-like voice… belonging to a woman.
“Have you tracked their abilities yet?” said the man opposite her; his eyes flashing in the dark. But his words were not directed at the woman but at another man seated beside her.
“They seem to display almost every possible ability that runs in their family,” the man replied.
Silence surrounding them.
“The lab will need blood to confirm that.”
“But you don’t think so. Why?”
“The introverted one –the Alpha’s youngling –she doesn’t use any abilities outside her home. It’s like she knows I’m watching. I cannot ascertain what she can or cannot do.”
“Then you’d have to be careful. The other?”
“Full display of mind reading, mind control and healing manipulations but has trouble with foreseeing and reading emotions.”
“Ironic… she has stronger ties to the grandparents providing the blood. What about their… other ability?” Disgust was apparent in his voice.
“None. Data collected over five years proved no significant change.”
“Good work soldier. This means the younglings are one of us. They belong to us,” said the baritone voice woman.
The other two men kept quiet.
“What of the other girl?”
“No known manifest or latent ability Sir.”
The man referred to as ‘Sir’ nodded in understanding. “As expected. It will take time for the ability to express but I want to know her status as soon as you find information on her ability.”
“The other two subjects sir?”
“Keep an eye on the extrovert but do not approach subject without authorization.”
“As for the Alpha’s girl, she is an unknown and therefore potentially dangerous. I want feelers out there. Report to me once you have more data. Is that clear?”
Marine was sitting guiltily in front of her father and Alex; eyes darting desperately now and then to her mother seated beside her for support.
“Who was that boy?” asked Alaron; his annoyance leashed only by Erika’s warning face.
“He’s twenty Daddy not a boy! And he’s just a guy!”
Alex bared his teeth at her. “Just a guy would not maul you at the front of your doorstep.”
Marine stared at him in disbelief. “He was not mauling me! It was just a kiss! Mom…” she turned with pleading eyes towards her mother. Erika was laughing; amusement flashing in her eyes.
“Okay you two, cut it out. She’s going to grow up stunted if you two don’t back down.”
“Thanks Mom…” smiled Marine, moving closer for a hug.
“Geez Honey, you spoil her rotten,” said Alaron accusingly.
“Yes I do and I will for the next eighty years.”
Alaron raised his eyebrows at her. “Then?”
“Then we can have another one for me to spoil rotten.” The adults proceeded to make googly eyes at each other.
“Oh man… you guys…” moaned Marine in embarrassment. It was bad enough that the Weres in the pack were all touchy-feely but you don’t usually think of blood sucking Vampires as anything but cold and distant…
“Oops, sorry baby,” said Alaron, swooping down on his daughter to plant a kiss on her cheek. A minute later, he had scooped Erika off the sofa and went upstairs. Marine didn’t want to imagine anything that’d make her throw up.
“Gross…” she said when she heard the door slam.
“Oh please. Have you seen my parents?” said Alex in amusement. “After all those years and they still can’t get enough of each other.”
Marine smiled. “That’s nice isn’t it?”
Alex smiled back. “Yeah.” He let a pause hang between them before continuing. “So this boy…”
“Drop it Alex.” It was a command.
“I can’t. It’s instinctive,” he grinned. Marine wrinkled her nose at him haughtily.
“I don’t remember sniffing around the girls you take around that silly contraption of yours.”
“Sure you do or you wouldn’t have known that I take them on my Suzie,” he replied, referring to his Suzuki motorcycle.
Her eyes flared open in curiosity and shock. “You don’t really mean take them… like take them do you?”
Alex shrugged and flashed her a charming grin. “Maybe.”
She threw a pillow at him. “At least I’m not the one who still sleeps with his stuffed panda!”
Alex’s eyes widened.
“Now I’ve got to strangle you to keep my secret safe.”
Back in Culzean’s Castle…
“Grandmama… do we really have to do this?” cringed Naira as she sat in front of Josephine; her back cradled in the ancient Vampire’s lap.
“Yes. You’re becoming too absorbed with sharpening your attack abilities. I don’t like that.” Naira knew what her grandmother was referring to. At eighteen, Naira had almost honed her mental offence capabilities to knife points. She had no idea why her grandparents insisted on teacher her ‘soft’ skills of sensing emotions or interpreting the future. Both were weak and useless in combat.
“You might see your opponent before they attack and you think that’s useless?” Draven’s voice interrupted her thoughts. The young girl scowled. Somehow her father didn’t seem to want to teach her how to put up barriers to protect her mind from being read.
“Serves you right,” he said warningly. “I’ve told you many times not to read others’ mind without permission and still you do it.”
“Oh baby boy, you know she can’t help it,” Josephine defended. Draven paled at his mother’s words.
“Mother, you’re going to spoil her if you don’t instil discipline in her.” His face was grim when she didn’t reply him. “Alright, she’s yours for now. Don’t stress yourself out. There’s still Gabriel to run after,” said Draven, referring to the six year old terror of a brother.
After Draven left, Naira lifted her face to stare at her grandmother. She’d always considered her mother the most beautiful of all but her grandmother was second on the list and both of them adored her.
“Are you angry at me?” she asked innocently.
“Of course not baby. But don’t you go giving me that puppy face now.”
Naira laughed and cuddled close to Josephine’s body. Puppy was a reference to her status as a wolf pup within her mother’s pack but in truth, Naira couldn’t shift; not even to draw claws… and it bruised her ego.
Her mother, Amber, had been trying to figure out the problem; obviously worried why her daughter couldn’t shift. It was as if Naira only expressed the Vampiric blood in her genes and while she knew her mother didn’t judge her for not being able to shift, she still felt the deep sadness in her soul. Maybe that’s why she didn’t like picking up on others’ emotions. It sucks.
Eian was standing with his arms crossed, staring at his daughter sitting on a chair opposite him. He didn’t like doing this disciplining but he had no choice… especially when his daughter had just fought off a couple of the twenty-something year old male wolves. Okay… fought was too tame a word for she had throttled them and sent them landing on their ass. Eian sighed.
Keona was only eighteen and she was already being challenged by the older wolves for dominance. He understood their curiosity. They wanted to ‘test’ this half-breed –oh he knew about the name calling –and rub it in her face that she wasn’t able to shift. They weren’t aware that by doing so they rubbed humility in his face too. He was the Alpha and if a group of young kids started questioning his genes, he was sure that sooner or later, some of his own Beta wolves might take up the hint and challenge his status.
Not that it was a problem. A good display of dominance was always necessary to adjust to shifts within the pack hierarchy. It just so happened that no one in this pack had shown enough strength to take on an Alpha status… except now.
Eian didn’t want to think of himself as supporting nepotism but the fact was clear: Keona carried the scent of a very strong and very dominant female… except that she could never be a wolf… and by default would not earn the absolute trust or loyalty of the other wolves.
As a father, it broke his heart.
“You’re supposed to be angry at me Daddy…” his daughter pointed out, in that cool, flat tone of hers. Apparently that was something she inherited from him. Girls were supposed to be bubbly and feisty like Fiona… but then again, Eian didn’t think he’d like his baby girl so girly.
“Did you use your abilities?” he asked; knowing that while he was expected to ask the question, it was a great insult to his daughter that he even had to ask.
“I never use my abilities outside the home. You know that. You made up the rules.”
Eian’s lips thinned to a line. Yes, he made rules… even more stringent one specially imposed on his daughter and yet she heeded every one of them. He had to be harder on his daughter because he didn’t want anyone in the pack to think he favoured one pup to another… but of course, he loved her the most as much as he loved her mother.
Keona smiled –a rare delicacy –and Eian knew he couldn’t stay angry with her for long.
“Did you kick their ass good?” he asked, watching her drop her guard and smile even wider as she nodded. Eian smiled back. “Want to spar with me?”
The smile widened into a laugh and Keona leaped off the sofa to jump onto her father.
PS: Why are my two favourite girls sounding more like brats? Lol. But I'll make sure they grow out of it... hopefully.