Louise Ch. 16bykalamazoo707©
Louise breathed a sigh of relief as they drove away from the airport. It had been a good week in many ways, but also an exhausting one. She was thrilled that Gene was finally going to get the help that he needed and that both Leon and Juliette had found their mates.
She worried for Celeste and decided that she would call her at least once a day even though Hans would be there. It was important that Celeste know and remember that she wasn't alone. She gave kudos to Hans for being willing to relocate just to be with Juliette and the kids and wondered if Hans told her about Barb. Her suspicion was that he had and that Juliette hadn't been bothered by it.
Louise smiled when she thought about Leon and Nadine. She would have given her right arm to have been a fly on the wall when Nadine told him what she was. From Leon, her thoughts wandered to Barb. She wasn't surprised when her older sister didn't make it to the airport. She almost reached into her pocket to call her and remembered that Barb had changed her number.
"We have a program that would find her number." Nathan told her.
"I know, but she doesn't want to talk to us." Louise replied. "And all she would do was change the number again."
"Would you like to stop by and check on her?" Nathan asked.
"Yes but I won't." Louise replied. "She's made her position clear. She doesn't want anything to do with us."
"Lou, what do you think that was back there?" Nathan asked after a brief hesitation.
"I don't know." She replied. "It's like you said. It was there and gone before I had a chance to process it. Maybe it was a fluke."
Even as she said it, she didn't believe it and neither did Nathan although he didn't say anything; he didn't have to.
"Do you know what I would like to do?" Louise asked. "I would like to sit on the beach and make s'mores. Can we do that?"
"We can do whatever you like." Nathan replied.
"Nathan... thank you for what you did for Gene. It means a lot."
Nathan took Louise's hand and brought it to his lips.
"He's trying. What he did took courage and I respect that. I'm not investing a large amount; I want to see how he does with a small investment. If I'm satisfied, I'll invest more."
"You didn't have to do that, but thank you." Louise replied. "Leon says that you're going to do the design for the house so I owe you another thank you."
"Lou, anything I do it's because I love you and your family is now mine and talking about designs, we need to talk about the nurseries."
"That sounds like a subject to be talked about over s'mores." Louise replied.
She put her head against the headrest and closed her eyes only to open them again.
"I know." He replied, "I felt it too but once again, it was gone before I could get a handle on it. Were you able to pick up anything?"
"No, but I don't think that it's a fluke whatever it is. What do you think we should do?" she asked.
"I think that we need to let Ethan know." Nathan said after a few minutes. "It may be nothing, but I don't want to take any chances. I'll give him a quick call when we get home."
"It feels funny not having them here doesn't it?" Kevyn asked as she soaked in the Jacuzzi with Patrick. "I miss them."
"They'll be back." Patrick assured her. "I think that this would be a good time to sneak away for a few days."
"That sounds good." Kevyn replied. "Can I ask a question?"
"You can ask me anything, you know that." Patrick replied.
"What did you say to Gene?"
"I just told him that I understood." Patrick replied. "I also told him that it wasn't that long ago that I put the same look of shock, pain and horror on your face. I gave him my card and told him to call if he needed someone to share the burden of guilt."
"But you don't even like him." Kevyn said sitting up and turning around to face him.
"That's what he said." Patrick replied. "How I feel about him doesn't change the fact that we have something in common. Both of us have hurt you and that's something that we will both always feel guilty about."
"Did you tell him what you did?" Kevyn asked.
"No." Patrick replied. "That isn't his burden to bear but who knows? One day I may."
"You sound like you're starting to like him." Kevyn said as she lay down beside him.
"Maybe I am." Patrick replied. "At the very least I admire him for telling you what he did. That took courage."
"It did." Kevyn conceded. "And I'm glad that he told me. Thanks for reaching out to him."
"Kev, I want you to understand why I didn't like Gene. It was all about the way that he treated you and Louise and nothing more. I didn't need to see or know more than that to form an opinion of him. I also know for a fact that it was the same for Nathan."
"I understand." Kevyn replied, "But still... thank you. I have an idea." Kevyn said. "Why don't we make sure that Leon's house is ready for him when he comes back?"
"I like the idea." Patrick replied. "But I want a few days alone with you before we get involved with family things again. And I mean my family as well."
"That's fair." Kevyn replied. "So where are we going?"
"I think that now would be a good time to take you to that place that I told you about when we first mated." Patrick said. "We can even leave now if you like."
A few minutes later; they were on their way.
"Where are you taking me?" Kevyn asked as she looked out of the car window.
"You'll see." Patrick replied. "Just relax and enjoy the ride."
Patrick turned on the CD player and turned the volume up.
"Meatloaf?" Kevyn asked surprised. "You don't like Meatloaf."
"But you do." Patrick replied. "And there are a few songs on there that I like." He added.
Kevyn held Patrick's hand, rested her head against the head rest and listened to the music. By the time the CD was over, Patrick was pulling up into a driveway.
"We're here." He said turning off the engine.
Kevyn looked around, her mind searching for the reason why the place seemed so familiar to her. It wasn't until they were at the front of the building that she recognized it. It was the little condo that was similar to the one that was a screen saver on her laptop.
"I saw the screensaver and I knew that you wanted a little place by the water. Sweetheart, this is your place. I only come here by invitation."
"Do you really think that I would come here without you?" Kevyn asked.
"All I'm saying is that if you ever need a place to get away from the craziness of both of our families, and that includes me; here's your place."
"I don't know what to say... "
"You don't have to say anything." Patrick said hugging her. "Let's go inside."
The condo was exactly the way she had envisioned it. It was big enough for two people especially if the two people liked being together. The ocean could be heard from every room in the condo and was just a short walk away.
"About a mile down the beach is one of the best sea food places in the state." Patrick said.
"I love it, but you didn't have to do this." Kevyn said.
"That's exactly why I did it." Patrick replied. "Are you hungry? We could walk to the restaurant."
Kevyn took Patrick by the hand and led him to the bedroom.
"Tomorrow." She said. "Tonight I want to stay in."
Gene looked out of the jet window into the darkness. His conversation with Dana had been short, but at least she hadn't hung up on him. To his relief, she hadn't remarried nor was she seeing anyone. She politely listened as he explained the reason for his call.
"I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry for everything. You were right to leave when you did and... I'm trying to become that person you said that I could be."
There was several long seconds of silence before she responded.
"I'm happy for you. Good luck."
And then she hung up. He didn't get the chance to ask if he could call her again and decided that maybe it was for the best. She had no reason to believe anything that he told her. He wanted to be able to go to her proof in hand to show her that he was trying.
In his mind, he began to do one of the things that he was good at, that's when he did it. He made a mental list of his goals and how he planned to get there. At the top of the list was himself. He realized that none of the other things would happen unless he fixed himself first.
Gene took the envelope containing the letter from Nathan out of his pocket and looked at it. He wouldn't call until he had been sober for a month. The investment would be his reward and another step back to Dana. He was amazed at how light he felt even though he was scared of failure.
He looked over when he felt someone sit in the seat next to him.
"How are you doing?" Leon asked.
"I'm hanging in there." Gene replied. "I talked to Dana."
"How'd that go?"
"She didn't hang up on me." Gene replied.
"That's good." Leon replied. "Are you planning to try and get her back?"
"That's part of it."
"Gene, just make sure that the change is for you and not for her or anyone else. If it's just for her, it won't work."
"I know... I already called ahead for a group that meets close to where your apartment is." Gene said. "I'm going to a meeting in the morning and I have the number of someone I can call tonight if I need to."
"Good... and you know that you can call me at any time."
"I know... Leon thanks for everything."
"We're family aren't we?" Leon asked. "I already talked to Barry about you staying in the apartment so don't worry about that. Once I'm packed, you'll have plenty of closet space."
"I can stay at the house until you leave." Gene said.
"No need. Hans has a house that he's using and invited me to stay there. I'll be over tomorrow to start packing up my clothes and personal items."
Leon moved back to his seat a few minutes later leaving Gene alone with his thoughts.
Leon sat next to Nadine and took her hand in his. A part of him still found it hard to believe that the petite woman sitting next to him was a vampire; but he didn't care. Nadine was what he had been missing in his life; someone to share things with and someone to love.
The invitation to stay with her and Hans at the house had come as a surprise to him; but he accepted the offer without hesitation.
"You and Nadine are mates." Hans explained. "It's only natural that you stay together."
Leon thought about the week in California and wondered how much of what happened was coincidence and how much of it was otherworldly. For Gene to admit that he needed help was nothing short of miraculous. That two of his sisters were married into the same family and that he was with someone whose father was a friend and employee of the same family was just uncanny.
"It's our fates." Nadine said softly. "Our meeting was predestined as was the meeting of Juliette and my father. If we hadn't met in California, we would have met somewhere else just as my father would have met Juliette. All of us who have mates are predestined to be with that person."
"What about Gene and Barb?" Leon asked.
"I can't answer that." Nadine replied. "The fates don't tell us about others."
Leon didn't reply for several minutes. He was thinking about what Nadine told him and about who he wanted to turn him.
"Can I have more than one person turn me?"
"You can." Nadine replied. "If they are of different families, you will be tied to both of them. It isn't like on television where they'll be able to control you. The difference is that you're volunteering. If you were turned against your will, then yes you could be controlled by the one who turns you."
"Tell me about the process and don't leave anything out." Leon said.
An hour later, Nadine was finished.
"Damn! That sounds like going cold turkey." He said. "Do you think that your father would do the honor?"
"I think that he will be pleased." Nadine replied. "Who else are you going to ask?"
"Nathan." Leon replied without hesitation. "By the way, you mentioned something about his family history, what's that about?"
"That's best not discussed here." Nadine replied. "When we get to the house and get settled, I'll tell you everything. Their history is well known in our world."
Leon wanted to ask more questions but decided that he could wait. Instead, he brought up their living arrangements.
"I'll move in with you." Nadine said. "Your home will be closer to where you will be working."
"Will you keep working at the hotel?" Leon asked.
"I doubt it now that I'll have a mate at home." She replied.
"You don't have to give up your job for me." Leon said. "I'll be working nights too."
They continued to talk quietly among themselves. The only things that they decided on were their living situation and who would turn him.
Juliette still couldn't believe that Hans was going back with them. She hadn't believed him when he told her that he would and there he was sitting next to her with a very content Celeste in his lap. Victor and Wanda were speaking to her again and she couldn't deny that she was relieved and happy that he was with them.
"What worries you?" Hans asked.
"Angel." She murmured. "How do I tell him that I met a man and in less than a week I decide to pull up roots and move to California?"
"You're coming back with me?" Hans asked surprised. "What about the human dating ritual?"
"Yes, we'll go back with you, but it can't be right away. We need to do what you call the human dating ritual and I think it will help if Angel meets and talks with you."
Hans was speechless with happiness. This had gone much better than he had anticipated.
"How long do you think that we'll need to stay?" he asked.
"A month or two... can you be gone that long?"
"I can be gone for as long as I need to be." Hans replied. "I don't have to work, but I enjoy it. My time is yours."
Juliette, like Leon wondered what it was about California that seemed to affect them all. Prior to the past week, she had only dreamt of moving away from Pittsburgh. Places like California, Hawaii or Florida were places that she fantasized about in the dead of winter as she scraped the ice from the windshield of her car.
She had never imagined that she would find a man who could not just hold a handle to Angel, but who loved her kids. He wasn't pretending, she knew that the Hans she had come to know was the real thing. The love and caring that he had for her and the kids wasn't pretend. She also had never dreamed that she would actually be moving to a place in her wintertime fantasies.
She felt Hans' arm tighten around her. She snuggled closer and laid her head on his shoulder. With a start, she realized that she hadn't experienced the anxiety that she had with every takeoff and landing prior to this one. To her it was a confirmation of what Hans told her.
"I will always keep you safe."
What he could do if the plane crashed she didn't know, but she knew that he would do his best to keep his promise. She looked at Wanda and Victor. They sat in the seat across from her and Hans talking quietly amongst themselves. They looked both happy and relieved. She had to wonder how much they really knew about Hans even if they didn't understand it. Celeste was a no-brainer. She had known from the beginning who and what Hans was to them.
"Celeste is very special." Hans told her. "She is what is known as an empath. She is able to feel the emotions of others. It is why she was always so quiet and frightened. Louise and Leon are also empathic, but of the two of them; Louise is by far the strongest. I believe that Celeste will be as strong if not stronger than Louise is."
"How do we help her?" Juliette asked.
"Before Louise taught her to shield, she was protected by Louise or Leon. When Louise moved away, Celeste lost part of her protection. Leon didn't know what she was or what he did for her so he didn't pick up the slack. Because I accepted her as my child, she is shielded by me as are you and the other children. Part of her education will be teaching her how to build strong shields."
"Are the others gifted?" Juliette asked.
"They may be more intuitive than what's considered normal." Hans replied, "But sometimes gifts don't manifest until later in life. It could be that Wanda and Victor will be the mates to vampires and whatever gifts they have will awaken at that time."
That conversation seemed surreal. In many ways it still didn't seem possible, but it was. She was in love with a vampire. Her youngest was empathic and the other two would either be turned or mates to vampires and then turned. It sounded like something that would earn her a few days in a psych ward somewhere.
She looked over at Gene who was staring out of the window deep into his thoughts. Her mind still fought to reject what he told her.
The words "I was going to kill Kevyn" Reverberated through her head. When he apologized for not leading the family better, she had her own apologies to make and her own guilt to bear.
"Gene, you shouldn't have had to tell me to help Louise. I knew that she needed help and instead of helping her, I dumped the kids on her when I thought I needed a night out. I never thought that she needed a night out or that she might have been interested in dating or meeting friends. She was so convenient and never said anything... that doesn't make it right." She said. "All I'm saying is that I share in that guilt with you. We all do with the exception of Leon and Kevyn."
She took a deep breath and continued.
"Louise called me that morning. She wanted me to sit with mom while she was at work. I.... I told her that it was my first day off in a week and that I wanted to sleep. I ended up agreeing to check on mom for lunch and that's when I found her on the floor. Gene, she was... if I had gone like Louse asked me; maybe she wouldn't have fallen. But do you know what makes this worse? Louise never threw it up in my face. Not even when we tried to make her take mom home did she blame any of us."
"That was never her way." Gene replied. "That's why it was so easy to push things onto her, but your right; it would have been easier to take had she screamed at us. As to whether mom would have fallen or not, we'll never know. But I do think that it'll do you no good to agonize over it."
He had been right, but even so the thought that their mother may not have died had she been there weighed heavily on her.
"Juliette." Hans called softly, "Tell me what is troubling you."
"Ummm later." Juliette replied. She wanted to languish in her guilt for a little while longer. She had to wonder what Hans would think about a woman who had for all practical purposes abandoned her mother and sister.
"I will love you no matter what you tell me." Hans whispered.
"Were you peeking?" Juliette asked.
"No." Hans replied. "I know people and I can tell that you are worried. I just wanted you to know that you never have to be concerned about my feelings for you."
Juliette intertwined her fingers with his and silently said another apology to her mother.
"Why don't you get the supplies for the s'mores while I call Ethan?" Nathan said when they got home.
"Ok, but I want to change clothes first." Louise replied. "I won't be long."
"No hurry." Nathan replied. "In fact, it's been hours since I made love with you, can the s'mores wait?"
"Gee... I don't know." Louise teased. "S'mores or making love... hmmm..."
Nathan laughed. He loved her sense of humor and how free she was becoming with something that had been a source of anxiety for her.
"I think... s'mores!" she exclaimed.
Louise laughed at the surprised expression on Nathan's face.
"I'm kidding!" she said still laughing. "Make your call and I'll see you upstairs."
"Brat!" Nathan shouted after her as he picked up the phone.