Louise Ch. 10bykalamazoo707©
Louise was finally completely relaxed. She laughed as she talked to Rachel, Nathan's mother about the mischief that he used to get into.
"I know that he's on the quiet side now but he could sure get into things." Rachel said. "So could Joseph for that matter. Maybe this one will be quieter." she added rubbing her stomach. "You know, you've been good for him." Rachel said.
"I think that it's more the other way around." Louise replied blushing.
Rachel gave Louise an appraising look before she spoke again.
"I know that you're aware of the family history and even though Nathan didn't rape, it had to be difficult for you to hear about it. I just want you to know that if either you or Kevyn want to talk about anything you can come to any of us."
"Thank you." Louise said taking Rachel's offered hand. "When is the baby due?"
"Hopefully after the wedding." Rachel replied. "Speaking of weddings, do you think you and Kevyn will have one?"
"I know that I don't want one." Louise replied, "And I'm pretty sure that Kevyn doesn't either."
"That's alright, Martin and I didn't have a wedding either. By the time we reconnected with his family, we had been mated for several years. But what about your family? I know that your sister Barb is here, what about the others?"
"They're back in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and they don't know about Nathan yet. I'm still trying to get used to it myself and I really don't want to deal with them while I do it." Louise replied.
"Understood." Rachel said. "Being in this family is a big adjustment and unfortunately, your arrival coincided with a pretty intense event. As I said, any of us are here and willing to talk or just to go out to have a good time."
Louise liked Rachel and Martin. When she looked at any of the Sinclaire men who had raped, she understood what Kevyn meant when she said that she had a hard time seeing Patrick in that light. As she looked around the yard, she saw Ethan and Katrina who reminded her of herself in her shyness. She watched Ethan and the way that he treated Katrina and saw that it wasn't much different from the way that Nathan treated her. These men, as flawed as they were, loved their wives and their children.
"How are you doing?" Nathan asked as he sat down beside her.
"I'm good, just getting to know your mom... you were quite the trouble maker weren't you?" Louise teased.
"She's been telling stories I gather." Nathan said smiling at Rachel.
"Of course I have! It's my privilege as a mother-in-law to do so." Rachel replied winking at Louise. "Nathan, she's beautiful and I'm happy for the both of you."
"Thanks mom and I agree. She is beautiful." Nathan said as he kissed Louise's temple.
"By the way, I know that you've had your hands full but have you talked to Joseph yet?" Rachel asked.
"No I haven't but I'll do it soon. Did you see Winston?" Nathan asked.
"Yes... I'm so proud of him!" Rachel replied. "I saw him talking to Joseph awhile ago. Maybe Joseph will hire him."
Louise saw Joseph and Winston talking in a corner. Joseph looked happy but it struck her as a fake happiness. The only thing that he seemed genuinely happy about was whatever it was he and Winston had been discussing. It was then that she realized that she hadn't seen Barb in quite a while.
"Nathan, have you seen Barb lately?" she asked looking around.
"No but maybe one of the others have, stay put, I'll be back." he replied kissing her.
As he walked away, Louise felt a nervousness that had nothing to do with meeting the family.
Barb was somewhere getting into trouble.
Thorne's first order of business was to replace Allen. This time he would choose someone easier to deal with and he wouldn't keep him around as long. His green eyes glittered as he brushed his dark shoulder length hair and tied it back with a black tie that matched the black suit that he was going to wear to the club. He ran down his list of male employees eliminating those who he wouldn't use as Allen's replacement. It came down to two vampires, neither of whom he liked but until he had time to find someone else, one of them would have to do. He chose Billings because he had the least irritating voice and he knew that the timid vampire would do as he was told without question.
Before he left for the evening, he called Noel. It tore Thorne up every time he talked to him but it helped calm Noel down when nothing else did. He needed to go see him and soon because when he did, Noel would be at peace for six to eight weeks. During Thorne's visits, they did whatever Noel wanted to do which was usually paint. In spite of his mental condition, Noel was still a very accomplished artist with his paintings very much in demand. Thorne owned several of them himself but his favorite one was the one of him and Noel together. The second favorite was of the family minus their father.
It wasn't until after their father died that Thorne noticed that Noel had never painted a portrait of him. It was something that he had always wondered about and finally asked his mother Samantha about it.
"I don't know." she replied. "The only thing that I can think of is that your father was always so hard on him about his art and Noel was too afraid to ask."
"Maybe," Thorne replied, "But Noel has an excellent memory for detail; he wouldn't have needed father to sit for him. He painted that portrait of the two of us together and I wasn't here."
"I don't know then." Samantha replied.
Thorne hadn't believed her but didn't press. It didn't seem important anymore. He finished the phone call with the usual admonishments and a promise to visit soon.
"When?" Noel asked his voice tight with anxiety.
Thorne closed his eyes; he heard the signs that were pointing to a breakdown in Noel's soft tenor voice.
"I'll tell you what." Thorne said. "I have to work the weekend but how about I come on Monday? Can you be good until then?"
"Do you promise to come?" Noel asked.
"I'll promise if you promise to be good for mother." Thorne replied.
"I promise." Noel replied some of the anxiety gone.
"Good, I'll see you then and I'll bring some canvases and paints with me."
Thorne hung up hating his father and the Sinclaires for what they had done to Noel. He also realized that Noel was the only person that he really truly loved and cared about and wondered if he wouldn't be better off living with him. However, that meant that his mother would have to come too. He didn't hate her exactly but he couldn't say that he loved her either.
"What?" he snapped when the phone rang. "I'm on my way."
He vanished from his bedroom to the club pushing the issues about Noel out of his mind to think about later.
"Nathan! Wait!" Louise called after him, "I'm coming with you!"
She gave Rachel an apologetic smile.
"It's alright." Rachel replied. "I understand."
Louise rushed over to Nathan and took his outstretched hand. They found Patrick and Kevyn still talking with Ethan and Katrina. Kevyn's stomach dropped when she saw the worried look on Louise's face.
"Lou? What's wrong?"
"Maybe nothing... have you seen Barb lately?" Louise asked her voice filled with growing anxiety.
"The last time I saw her, she was sitting in a corner eating but that was before the dancing started." Kevyn replied.
"Same here." Patrick said looking around.
"She waited until she knew we would be preoccupied." Louise said quietly.
"Sweetheart, we'll check the house, Patrick and Kevyn you start searching the grounds...."
"We'll help." Ethan said. "Call your security team and have them start looking too."
Victoria saw Barb leave and started to follow her. She hadn't gotten very far before she was stopped by Jamie.
"Hey squirt! Where are you off to?" he asked.
She was so intent on Barb that she didn't notice that Jamie had called her by the nickname that she claimed to hate.
"I'm just making sure someone doesn't get lost." she replied and ran off before Jamie could say anything more.
It took her a few minutes to catch up because she wasn't as familiar with Nathan's home as she was with Patrick or Martin's homes. She caught up in time to see Barb go into the gazebo. She carefully lowered her shields and felt Barb's intent even if she didn't understand the ramifications of them. What she did know was that it spelled trouble. She was about to run up to the gazebo but someone was already approaching it. When she realized who it was, she did the only thing that she could think to do.
"Papa! Come quick!" she screamed telepathically and then she ran toward the woman approaching the gazebo.
Barb couldn't believe her luck. She looked up at the tall handsome man and wondered why he was unattached. Her vow to be more careful had flown out of the window as soon as she saw him. In her mind, if he was somehow related to or a friend of the Sinclaires, then he was safe. As far as she could see, he had it all. Looks, money and a sexy accent.
"Are you lost?" Rik asked again as he took a small step back.
"Not anymore." Barb replied. "What are you doing out here all by yourself?" she asked as she smiled up at him.
"I am w..."
The next thing she knew, a woman was telling her to get away. Barb turned and faced the woman fully prepared to argue with her.
"I said move away from him." Veronica said quietly but there was no mistaking the fact that she was angry.
"Who are you?" Barb asked hoping that the woman was just an overprotective relative.
Veronica stepped into the Gazebo, her blue/brown eyes blazing and fastened onto Barb's dark ones. Victoria rushed to Veronica's side and took her hand.
"Ronnie? She didn't know."
Veronica looked down at Victoria and back up at Barb who stared back at her.
"Do you always approach the mate of another woman?" she snapped as she stepped closer to Barb.
Instead of backing off, Barb fought back. She was tired of people telling her what she could and couldn't do. All she had to do was apologize and it would have been over. But she didn't.
"I don't see a ring on his finger and he sure as hell didn't say that he was with anyone!"
"You did not give me the opportunity." Rik said softly. "Ronnie, no harm has been done. She is just a silly human woman..."
Rik realizing his error tried to cover it up but it was unnecessary. Barb wasn't listening.
"Ronnie!" Victoria called again, "She really didn't know!"
"But she knows now but yet she still stands here and argues with me." Veronica replied taking another step toward Barb.
"Veronica, listen to me." Rik said his voice firm, "she doesn't matter. She is the sister to Patrick and Nathan's mate... we know of her."
"I don't care who she is." Veronica said as she advanced on Barb.
Now that Veronica was close enough for Barb to get a good look at, she could see that the woman was a Sinclaire. She took an involuntary step back, suddenly frightened. Veronica Sinclaire was now in her face and staring down at her.
"Veronica!" A baritone bass voice said from behind her, "Stand down!"
By this time, Louise, Nathan, Patrick and Kevyn had arrived. It didn't take long for Louise to piece together what happened. She pulled away from Nathan and walked up to the two women.
"Veronica, I know that my sister overstepped her bounds but she didn't know that Rik was your mate. I also know that it's well within your rights to handle this but could you please let me do it?"
"I don't ...."
"Barb for once in your life shut up!" Louise snapped.
Veronica didn't respond for several tense minutes. Every time Barb opened her mouth, Louise silenced her with a glare.
"Alright." Veronica said and then looked at Barb. "It's only because of your sister that I don't beat your ass. A word of advice, watch yourself, the next time you may not be so lucky."
Louise waited until everyone except Kevyn, Patrick and Nathan left to address Barb.
"What is wrong with you?" she said. "You promised that you wouldn't come here looking for a man!"
"I thought that he was single! " Barb replied.
"Use your head!" Louise yelled, "This is a family gathering! What does that mean? It means that almost everyone here is either mated to a family member or is a family member and if you weren't sure you should have erred on the side of caution!"
Barb blinked in surprise. She had never seen Louise this angry.
"What is it going to take in order for you to change? You're my sister and I love you but I don't know what to do for you or about you. And before you start with the I don't have anything crap, save it. I don't want to hear it. I am sick and tired of you blaming everyone else for what happens to you. Everything that has happened to you has been you're doing! You keep looking for someone to care for you but you don't want to care for them. All you look at is what they can give you but what are you offering? It's always been about you and you know what? I agree with Nathan, you're a selfish, stupid bitch! There was someone for you if only you had... you know what? Forget it because you won't listen anyway. Do whatever you want and when you decide that you need help in changing some things, you know where I am."
Louise ignored the tears that ran down her face. She hated talking to Barb as she had but it needed to be said.
Barb couldn't speak. Somehow, hearing Louise say the very things that others had said to her hurt far more than she ever could have imagined. She realized it was because of all of her siblings; Louise had always been the kindest to her even when she was being unreasonable or how badly she was treated by the people who were supposed to have her back. She had just lost the one person that she knew cared about her.
"What Barb?" Louise demanded. "Are you going to tell me that this is my fault because I didn't pin a label on the eligible men? This is our family! Notice that I said our and not mine! However, as always, family doesn't matter to you but let me ask you this, you could have been killed when you went with Thorne Blackwell. You could have been hurt just now... what in god's name is it going to take for you to realize that money isn't everything? But you know what I think? I think that even if you had everything that you think you wanted, you still wouldn't be happy. There would always be something else so ask yourself, what is enough?"
"Lou." Barb said her voice tight, "I'm sorry."
Louise looked at her and shook her head. "For the moment, yes you are but... it won't last. Look, we have guests to attend to, stay if you want but please no more trouble."
Louise turned away leaving Barb alone in the gazebo. Barb watched her leave still shocked that Louise had spoken to her as she had. She had felt the anger, frustration and love behind every word spoken and still she couldn't bring herself to admit that there was truth in Louise's words. She sat in the gazebo for a long time before deciding that she should at least apologize to the woman whose man she had hit on. It wouldn't be a sincere apology but it would have to do.
Nathan pulled Louise into a cluster of trees and held her as she shook. Anger at Barb flared and was gone before Louise had a chance to realize that it was there. He tightened his hold when he felt her tears wet his shirt. He felt how much it had hurt her to say the things that she said to Barb even though they needed to be said specifically by her.
He closed his eyes and took some of her pain onto himself not knowing if she would be angry about it or not. He didn't care if she was; he wasn't going to let her suffer. Fifteen minutes later, Louise was calmer but still upset.
"What's going to happen to her?" she asked Nathan.
"I don't know but we'll try to keep her as safe as she'll let us." he replied.
"But you don't like her." Louise said sniffling.
"No I don't." Nathan admitted. "But you care about her and she is family. Lou, I know that you've never spoken to anyone in the way that you spoke to Barb but she needed to hear it and it needed to come from you. In spite of how she's treated you, she loves you and maybe you reached her."
"Maybe... but I don't think so. Nathan, she's still going to need us. Something is going to happen..."
"We'll deal with that when and if it happens." Nathan said kissing her temple. "Are you alright?"
"I think so and thank you for doing whatever it is you did. I feel better." Louise replied.
"I just took some of the emotional pain from you." Nathan replied. "Are you ready to go back?"
Louise snuggled into him. She didn't want to go back but they had to and there was no point in putting it off.
"I'm ready." she replied giving his waist a squeeze and kissing his chest.
They walked back to the party hand in hand. As soon as Kevyn saw them, she ran over to them.
"Lou! Are you alright?" she asked.
"I'm fine, a little tired but I'll be alright." Louise replied.
"Shit!" Patrick swore as he looked across the yard.
"Wh... Damn it!" Kevyn said as she saw what Patrick was looking at.
Barb left the gazebo and went back to the party intending to apologize and leave. She spotted Veronica and Rik in the far corner of the yard. She noticed that both of them tensed when she approached so she put a conciliatory smile on her face and continued her approach.
For a moment, she questioned the wisdom of what she about to do when she saw Veronica's cold glare. She squared her shoulders and kept walking not stopping until she was standing in front of Veronica and Rik.
"I'm getting ready to leave and I wanted to apologize for the misunderstanding. Had I known that he was taken, I wouldn't have approached him."
"You're lying." Veronica said quietly "but for the sake of family peace I'll accept your apology as well as offer a word of advice, just because a man isn't wearing a ring it doesn't mean that he's free but then you know that. One of these times you're going get into a mess that Louise won't be able to get you out of so have a care. Have a nice evening."
Veronica and Rik walked away just as Kevyn and Louise reached them.
"What did you do?" Kevyn asked.
"Nothing! I just apologized." Barb protested. "I'm done here, I'm leaving. Have a nice life."
She stomped off without saying another word. An hour later, she was in the apartment trying to figure out where put things when she realized that she had no space for most of what Juliette was going to send her. It would have to go into storage. She sat down on the small sofa that would double as her bed and started making a list of what she needed to do. At the top of the list was calling Juliette and then her realtor.
She showered in what she thought had to be the world's smallest shower and changed into her nightclothes. Louise's words still hurt no matter how much Barb tried to minimize them.
"Fuck it! I'm done with them." she muttered as she lay on the sofa and fell asleep determined not to contact her sisters again. She didn't need or want their help. That she was living in Kevyn's apartment rent-free didn't cross her mind. It was something that she was entitled to just because they were sisters.
The party ended just before four am. What little leftovers were left was packed up to be taken home by whoever wanted them. Veronica found Louise in the kitchen wrapping up loaves of bread for people to take home.
"Hey, I'm sorry about earlier. I guess I'm still in what Uncle Patrick calls the new mate syndrome. I wouldn't have hurt her."
"Apology accepted but Veronica, you would have hurt her. You would have felt bad about it later but you would have hurt her." Louise said.
Veronica smiled, "I guess I would have but just enough to scare her."
"Can I ask a question?" Louise asked.
"Sure, what is it?"