15 - Back Home
“Ay Dios mío! Okay... hold on... just wait... “ Kiara ran her fingers through her hair and tugged relentlessly at her long brown locks.
“You’re going to go bald if you keep pulling at your hair like that,” Rhea joked. She pulled Kiara’s hand away from her ruffled hair.
“Oh, you’re so funny, Rhea! I’m on the verge of having a mental breakdown and you’ve got jokes!” Kiara said frantically. Rhea looked at Marshala nervously before folding her hands back on the table and staring at Kiara. The three of them sat alone at the Volkov kitchen table.
“...But witches...witches don’t exist,” Kiara said to herself, shaking her head in disbelief.
“Yes, we do,” Marshala said to her.
“Are you guys playing with me? Is this a joke?” Kiara asked.
“Again... you made fire with your hands, Kiara,” Marshala reminded her.
“Did she?! Holy crap! She’s nearly halfway there!” Rhea said excitedly.
“HALFWAY WHERE?!” Kiara exclaimed frantically.
Marshala looked at Rhea sharply and she immediately lowered her head. “Halfway to... understanding who and what you are,” Marshala said, looking at Kiara again.
“This is so freaking trippy,” Kiara said. She got up from the table and started pacing. “I can’t believe I’m a... a witch. It sounds weird saying it. I feel stupid saying it. Kiara, you’re a witch! Kiiiiiaaaaraaaaa... you are a wiiiitch. Nope! Still sounds utterly ridiculous.”
“Well it does when you say it like that,” Rhea laughed.
Kiara looked at her with a smirk before her face fell again. “Oh my god, what is my life right now?!”
“Kiara this is a good thing. Everything else should start to make sense now. The dreams and the visions you’ve been having. The way you defended yourself against that creature. They’re because of your powers,” Marshala explained.
Kiara stopped and looked at her. “I’VE GOT POWERS?! What like Luke Skywalker or something?!”
“You’re a witch, Kiara, not a Jedi,” Rhea snickered.
“So like Harry Potter? Do I get a wand? Do witches use wands? Is there a Lord Voldemort?? Do I have to face Lord Voldemort?!” Kiara’s panic escalated.
“Oh my god, Kiara! Calm down, girl!” Rhea said bursting into laughter.
“Let’s try to leave pop culture references out of this, okay, Kiara?” Marshala said, trying to mask her smirk.
“Right... I’m sorry. But what else am I supposed to think of when I hear the word ‘witch’? I mean I’ve always imagined getting my acceptance letter to Hogwarts but I wasn’t expecting... this...”
“Please don’t mention Harry Potter again...” Marshala groaned. “We need to focus on you.”
“Focus on me... right... okay...” Kiara said, leaning against the counter. Rhea and Marshala could hear her groaning with anxiety as she got lost in her thoughts and bit furiously at her nails.
“Kiara...” Marshala stood up from the table and walked towards her. “I know this all seems... really scary and overwhelming. But that’s what Rhea and I are here for. To help you.”
Kiara looked between the two of them. “But why? Why are you speaking as if... this was all planned? Did you know I was a witch?” Marshala and Rhea looked at each other before nodding at Kiara. “For how long?”
“Since you were 15...” Marshala said.
Kiara’s mouth dropped open. “WHAT?! BUT HOW?! AND WHA-”
“Kiara, please try to calm down,” Marshala said smoothly. “I will explain everything as best I can.”
Kiara’s hands were trembling uncontrollably. She sat down in the kitchen chair and stuffed them between her thighs to keep them from shaking so much. “O-okay... I-I’m listening,” she stammered.
“You come from a long line of witches, dating back as far as the 1800s,” Marshala started. “Your bloodline derives from a series of French covens, just like Rhea and I.”
Kiara tapped her lip with her finger. “Right... my last name is LaFleur. Yours is Toussaint. Rhea’s is Moreau... I guess it makes sense. Are we... related?”
“In a way,” Marshala smiled. “Not by blood, but by spirit in the way that our families have been linked. Your ancestors were well acquainted with mine and with Rhea’s many generations ago. Though they all originally trace back to different parts of Mother Africa, they were drawn to each other and communed as one in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.”
Kiara immediately perked up. “That’s... that’s where my family is from.”
Marshala nodded as the wheels started to turn in Kiara’s head. “Do you know that woman in your dreams, Kiara?” Marshala said, catching her attention.
Kiara looked at her with shining eyes. “Mellie? I mean... Melissa?”
“Yes, Melissa LaFleur. She was your ancestral great grandmother. And one of the most powerful witches of her time.”
Kiara’s eyes got as big as saucers. “Melissa LaFleur?? I’m... I’m related to her?!”
Marshala nodded. “You’re her direct descendant... making you potentially one of the most powerful witches of our time.”
An awkward silence lingered in the air before Kiara burst out laughing. “Marshala... listen, Linda, Linda, listen. I am an orphan. I was so unwanted as a child that I nearly aged out of the system until my estranged aunt picked my raggedy black ass up out of some inexplicable family guilt. I just barely graduated nursing school while trying to hold down 2 jobs trying to feed and clothe myself. Now... I’ve always been content with accepting that I have no family and that this is my life. I’m just barely grasping this whole “witch” thing but you’re out here making me the equivalent of Gandalf the Grey-”
“Gandalf the White would be more accurate,” Rhea cut in. Marshala gave Rhea another sharp glare and she rolled her eyes as she rested her chin on her palm.
“Now you’re buggin’. May I remind you that Gandalf had to die to become Gandalf the White so are you trying to tell me I’m gonna end up dying?!” Kiara said frantically.
“Kiara,” Marshala said, butting in. “I understand that you’ve had a rather tumultuous life, but we’ve always been watching over you, protecting you, and waiting until the time was right to bring you to the next level.”
“Protecting me?” Kiara asked.
“Do you ever remember moments where you were in danger and it could have turned out really bad... but it didn’t?” Marshala asked.
Kiara sat back and tried to think. “I just chalked it up to bad luck, clumsy feet, and an overworked and underpaid guardian angel,” she chuckled.
“It was a little more than that, hun,” Marshala smirked.
Kiara shook her head and put her face in her hands. “None of this makes sense. Why did you wait so long to reach out to me? I needed someone back then more than I need anyone now!”
Marshala looked at her with guilt laced in her eyes. “As much as we... I... wanted to intervene... I couldn’t. There were too many unwanted lurking eyes that we had to keep away from you. And the time wasn’t right. Our presence in your life could have been detrimental if we weren’t careful. We had to wait until we knew you were ready.”
“Ready for what?” Kiara asked.
“...to embrace your true self...” Marshala said.
Kiara sighed as she rubbed her hand over her face. “No offense, Marshala, but you sound like a fortune cookie. I’ve been played by enough people in my life to know that if anyone helps me it’s because they want something. So... what do you want from me?”
Marshala looked at her confused and a bit hurt. “Do you not understand that you are part of our family? It’s not what we want from you. It’s you that we want. You’re part of us, Kiara.”
Kiara blinked at Marshala as if trying to comprehend her words, but they still didn’t register. “Marshala...I’ve never had a family. I’ve never known what it is to be loved that way. It’s always been me, myself, and I. You think I’m amazing ’cause I’m related to some ancestral witch I knew nothing about. But in all honesty? I’m not that special. Plus, you barely know me. Why... why would you want me?”
Marshala sighed with sadness as she glanced at Rhea. They felt the tension and dejection emanating from Kiara in waves so deeply it affected their own emotions. They both grabbed Kiara’s hand before quickly grabbing each other’s until they were all joining hands together in a circle. A fast, gentle breeze picked up around them that whipped around Kiara, sending her hair flying about her face as the kitchen lights started to flicker.
“Do you feel that?” Marshala asked, locking Kiara in an intense gaze. Kiara shook her head furiously and wanted to pull her hands away but Marshala and Rhea held on tight. “You grew up without a family, had to learn to survive on your own, and could have wallowed in that misery for years. But instead, you nourished the passion inside of you to help others. You think becoming a nurse was a coincidence? You have always had the gift of healing, Kiara. We know all about you. How wonderful and amazing you are. You went through so much, but you endured. The things you’ve done to save others you consider simplistic but in the grand scheme of things, you saved countless lives. Because that’s who you are. It was always in you...”
Kiara was completely overwhelmed with a flurry of emotions she had never felt before. It made her uncomfortable. Her heart ached, her mind was fuzzy, she felt sweaty. She couldn’t stop the tears from cascading down her cheeks as she quickly pulled her hands out of Rhea and Marshala’s grasp. She put her face in her hands as she started to cry.
“...Kiara?” Rhea said concerned as she touched her shoulder.
“I have never... had anyone say the things you said to me just now...” Kiara choked out.
Marshala got out of her chair and knelt down in front of Kiara. She grabbed her trembling hands between hers. “It may sound a little weird since you’ve only known us but for so long, but... we’ve watched you grow into this amazing woman. You never let trying times get in the way of your compassion for others. Rather... they helped shape you into something stronger and more resilient. You are loved, Kiara. And we would love to be your family, your sisters... if you’ll have us...”
Kiara looked into Marshala’s eyes with tears filled to the brim before an emotion-filled smile broke out on her face. “Of course!” she exclaimed. she wrapped her arms around Marshala’s neck and held her tight.
“I want in on this group hug!” Rhea said, getting up from her seat.
“Girl, get over here,” Marshala chuckled as she waved Rhea over. All three of them knelt on the floor in one big embrace as Kiara cried out her last tears.
Kiara sat on the floor and leaned back against the cabinet, trying to catch her breath and compose herself. Marshala folded her legs underneath her and Rhea stretched out her legs in front of her. “You feel better?” Rhea asked.
Kiara nodded. “It was a good cry. Thank you,” she said, wiping her face. “So... what’s next? Do Nick and Leo and Levi know I’m a witch too? That we all are?” she asked.
“Yes,” Marshala said. “They know. So does your home-stay family, the Blackbournes.”
Kiara looked at her startled. “Wait really? Elijah, Alexander, Cole? They know I’m a witch?”
“And Peter,” Marshala smiled. “They all know. It’s one of the reasons they agreed to host you.”
“Are they witches too?” Kiara asked.
“No,” Marshala said quickly. “Just...friends. The Volkovs and the Blackbournes are... ‘allies’ to our cause. They have promised to help support you on this journey.”
“‘Our cause’? What is ‘our cause’ exactly? What journey are you talking about?” Kiara asked, confused.
“There’s a lot for you to learn, Kiara. But I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much at once. We’ll pace your learning. From now on, you’ll start practicing magic with Rhea and I. You’ll continue to go to school for your studies, work with Evangeline-”
“About Evangeline. Those dreams I have about her and Melissa-” Kiara said quickly.
“We’ll get to that. For now, just keep writing them down and we’ll go over them later. Okay?” Marshala said.
“Yeah, okay...” Kiara said a bit frustrated. “So, I’m practicing ‘magic’ with you and Rhea? Do I need a wand?”
“We don’t use wands!” Rhea laughed.
“Dammit... I really wanted a wand,” Kiara pouted.
Marshala smirked. “Sorry, hun, no wands. This isn’t Hollywood. There are other people in our coven for you to meet. Perhaps you should move in with me or Rhea with regular visits to Evangeline.”
“No!” Kiara said quickly, startling them both. “I... I like living with the Blackbournes. They’re like my family too. And ... I miss them.”
Rhea frowned while Marshala looked at her surprised. “If... that’s what you want...” Marshala said.
“It is. In fact, I feel like I should be getting back to them now. They must be so worried about me,” Kiara said. “Especially Alexander with the way I left him last night...”
Rhea groaned, causing Kiara to roll her eyes. “Seriously, why does everyone hate them so much?” Kiara said exasperated.
“They’re just... misunderstood,” Marshala frowned. Rhea scoffed, garnering the umpteenth sharp glare from Marshala. “I’ll drop you back at their estate,” Marshala said. She stood to her feet and extended her hand for Kiara to grab. “Go get your things.” Kiara bounded off to Leo’s room to grab her things, leaving Marshala and Rhea alone.
“You’re seriously letting her stay with them? Marshala, it’s too dangerous!” Rhea freaked.
“Rhea... they’re just as much a part of her life as Leo and Nicholas.”
“Except Leo and Nick won’t kill her!”
“Rhea,” Marshala said sharply. “They would never hurt her. You know that.”
“DO I?!” Rhea said angrily as a mug on the table exploded, shattering into pieces. Her eyes widened, surprised by her own outburst and she immediately stepped back in submission. “I’m... I’m sorry, Marshala, I...” Tears brimmed in her eyes before she quickly shook her head and stalked away.
“Rhea, wait! Rhea...” Marshala sighed as she watched her briskly walk out of the house. She bent down to clean up the pieces of the shattered mug.
“We’ll head out East later on tonight. I want to make sure there’s not a single one of those damn ferals left,” Nick said with his arms crossed, stroking his beard.
“Are we bringing the whole pack?” Levi asked. He leaned back against a large moss-covered tree with his hands casually folded behind his head.
“No. You and Leo go and take Gedeon and Adrian with you,” Nick said. Nick heard Leo huff with agitation. “Is that a problem, Leo?” Nick asked.
Leo sucked his teeth as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. “I’m just tired of you trying to keep me away from her... which is the only reason why you’re sending me and not Denis. I’m in love with her, Nick. I can’t help that. You know that I can’t. I’ve been trying so hard to stay in control and follow your lead, but... how I feel about her sometimes seems... more than I can handle...”
Nick deeply exhaled and locked eyes with his brother. “I know you love her, Leo. I want nothing more than to see my little brother happy and with the love of his life. Trust me, I want that for you more than anything. But if you keep coming at her the way you have, you’re gonna fuck everything up. I need you to relax... Give her some damn time to figure shit out. Stop trying to fuck her and just be her friend right now. Can you do that for me?” Nick said with a raised brow.
Leo twisted his mouth as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Yea... yea, I’ll try, Nick...”
Nick grabbed the back of his neck and pulled him close as they touched foreheads. “Every time you get the urge, just go for a run… and run as far away from her as possible... before that ass lures you back in,” Nick smirked.
“Shut the fuck up,” Leo snickered as he shoved him.
Levi grinned, watching them. He perked up when he saw Rhea speed-walking out of the house. She locked eyes with Levi and he could see that she was on the verge of tears. “Princess?” he said, walking straight towards her. He cupped her face in his hands and looked into her watery eyes. She writhed her head in his grasp as she tried to avoid his gaze. “Rhea, look at me,” he ordered her.
She took a quick breath and looked into his sharp blue eyes. “What’s wrong?” Levi asked.
“I just... I remembered that night again and... and... I just want to go home,” she whimpered.
“Again? But it’s been months since the last time. What triggered it?” he asked, not letting her go.
“Baby, please. Can you just take me home?” she said desperately.
Levi looked at her with concern. “... Yea, sure, Princess...” He wrapped an arm around her waist as she leaned on him for support. “Leo, I’ll meet up with you around a quarter to 8,” Levi said.
“Yea, sure, don’t worry about it...” Leo said, looking worriedly at Rhea.
Marshala walked out of the house just as Levi and Rhea were leaving. She watched the two of them walk off before she turned to Nick and Leo. “I owe you a mug,” she said to them.
“What happened?” Leo asked. “She hasn’t thought about that night in months.”
“We were talking about the Blackbournes. Kiara wants to stay with them rather than move in with either Rhea or I. Think that triggered her...” Marshala said somberly with her hands in her jean back pockets.
“She seriously wants to stay with them?!” Leo said angrily.
“Leo...” Nick said with warning.
“Why can’t she just stay with us?” Leo asked.
“You know why,” Nick said, rubbing his hand over his face.
“Leo, don’t take this as a slight against you,” Marshala said. “Kiara needs you and will need all of us as she learns to deal with all of this.”
“Does she know?” Nick asked.
Marshala nodded. “But, I didn’t tell her what you guys are... That’s a bit too much for one day...”
“Great, so I have to keep lying to her,” Leo said in frustration.
“Just for now... give it time, Leo,” Marshala said softly.
“I’m tired of everybody telling me that!” Leo snapped.
“Guys?” They all looked up to see Kiara at the door with her bag over her shoulder.
“Kiara,” Marshala smiled. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yea,” Kiara said, walking towards them. “So you guys knew I was a modern-day Glinda all this time and still treated me like I wasn’t some crazy-ass weirdo,” she chuckled.
Nick quirked a brow as Marshala shook her head. “I’m slowly trying to wean her off the pop culture references,” Marshala said.
“Hey! My pop culture references are the only thing helping me to digest this madness!” Kiara scolded. “I’m still convinced I’m in a Black Mirror episode.”
Nick snickered with a shake of his head. “You’re not a weirdo, Kiara, you’re special. And I’m glad you’re finally on the way to embracing who you truly are,” Nick smiled.
“Marshala 2.0. You both sound like fortune cookies,” Kiara joked. “Do you guys finish each other’s sentences too?”
“Sometimes,” Nick and Marshala said in unison. Kiara smirked, looking between the two of them. Nick grinned at Marshala who was running her hand over her face in exasperation.
“We should go,” Marshala said finally.
Kiara looked at Leo who seemed to be lost in his own unhappy thoughts. “Can I... talk to Leo first?” she asked.
Leo raised his brows as he looked at her. “... sure, Angel...”
Marshala and Nick watched them stroll off together. “What am I gonna do with him,” Nick said, shaking his head.
“Don’t be so hard on him... He’s in love,” Marshala smiled.
“Was I this bad with you?” Nick asked.
Marshala immediately burst into laughter. “Are you kidding?! Nicholas, you were worse! Leo is rather tame compared to you.”
“Give me a break,” Nick snickered. “Times were different back then. Every day was a fight for survival. If it was our last day alive, I had to make sure my last moments were spent with you.”
Marshala rolled her eyes. “I think you took that ‘end of the world’ thing a little too seriously. You nearly got me pregnant.”
“Correction. I was trying to get you pregnant,” he smirked. “Shit, I still am...”
“Nicholas!” she shoved him as he laughed.
Kiara and Leo walked in silence as Leo carried her bag over his shoulder. “You okay?” he asked, finally breaking the silence.
“Yea... I just... am trying to take everything in,” she said quietly with her hands stuffed in the back pockets of her jeans. She mumbled to herself, trying to find the right question to ask.
“...When we were kids... did you know? That I was...”
“A witch?” he said, looking at her. “... in a way... I knew you were special...”
She scoffed with a shake of her head. “Special? Leo, I’m even more strange than I was the first time you met me...”
“Angel,” he said, stopping her. He grabbed her by her shoulders and looked into her eyes. “There is nothing ‘strange’ about you. You’re amazing, intelligent, kind, caring, beautiful... Angel, you’re incredible. And I’ve been in love with you since the first time I lay eyes on you all those years ago...”
Kiara felt her cheeks get warm as she shyly averted her eyes away from him. “We were just kids, Leo...”
“So? A daughter doesn’t need to be an adult to know she loves her mother.”
Kiara stared at him surprised. “... damn, Leo...”
He smirked at her as he wrapped a hand around her waist and pulled her body against his. He lifted her chin with his pointer finger and stared deeply into her eyes. “I’m not asking you to say you love me back, Angel... I understand you need time. I just needed you to know how I felt. And that I will always be here for you. No matter what...”
Leo felt his heart expand as he saw an enchanting smile cross Kiara’s beautiful face. He felt her lean in only slightly before he immediately took her lips with his. Kiara felt heady from Leo’s intense kiss. Her body temperature skyrocketed the way it has been doing every time he would kiss her. Their kiss quickly escalated as she felt his hands descend to her backside and squeeze possessively before he lifted her onto his waist. She never got tired of the way his strong arms would easily lift her body. She wrapped her arms around his neck and panted helplessly. His lips scoured her face before sucking her tongue back into his mouth.
“Oh, Leo...” she moaned out as she felt his tongue lick the curve of her neck. His lips tickled her skin before sucking the soft flesh hard enough to leave a small mark.
“What’s taking them so long?” Marshala said as Nick held her in a warm embrace.
“You should know,” Nick sighed as he let her go. He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted. “LEO!”
Kiara chuckled as Leo groaned, putting her back down on the ground. “Your brother is an expert buzzkill,” she teased.
“He’s an expert annoying ass cockblocker is what he is,” Leo grumbled.
“Are you sending her in a cab or something?” Nick asked.
“I’m dropping her off,” Marshala said.
Nick nearly gave himself whiplash as he looked at Marshala. “You’re going to their estate?! No fucking way, Shal!”
“Nicholas...” Marshala groaned. “I’m only dropping her off. That’s it.”
“Yea, ‘that’s it’ until he trips and his dick falls into your pussy again,” Nick scoffed.
“Nicholas!” she said, shoving him. “You’re absolutely ridiculous! Here!” She took off her necklace and said a quick incantation before she put it in his hand. “If I’m around a vampire for more than 30 minutes, it will quickly heat up till it’s nearly glowing red. You can come tear down his door and drag me out if that’s the case,” she said mockingly.
“He’s got super speed, Shal. He could probably fuck you in 10.”
“I’m done with you, Nicholas,” she said, waving him off. She turned to hear Kiara and Leo re-emerging. “Ready?” she asked when suddenly her eyes widened. “Oh, jeez... Leo...” she sighed.
“What?” Kiara asked.
“You have...” Marshala said, gesturing to her neck.
Nick looked at Kiara’s neck and shook his head in blatant disapproval while desperately trying to hide his smirk. Kiara touched her neck and felt that it was a little swollen and sore though not a bite. “Leo! Did you seriously give me a hickey?!” she blurted.
Leo smirked, trying to hide his grin. He leaned down to give her a peck on the cheek. “Just something to remember me by, Angel...” he said in her ear. He backed away from her to stand next to his brother.
Marshala gave Nick a tired look. “He did that to piss off Alexander... didn’t he?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, babe,” Nick said innocently with his arms crossed over his chest.
“Sure, you don’t. That’s literally your move, Nicholas,” Marshala said, shaking her head. “Come on, Kiara,” she said out loud as she took out her car keys.
“I look forward to seeing you in class, Kiara,” Nick grinned. Kiara huffed and rolled her eyes before following Marshala to her car. “You’re such a fucking asshole,” Nick snickered to Leo. “I’ve taught you well.”
“So... you and Nick...are a thing!”
“Um... in a way... yes...” Marshala said as she pulled into the fast lane of the parkway.
“In a way?” Kiara said, confused.
“... It’s complicated...” Marshala said, keeping her eyes on the road.
“Is that your relationship status on Facebook?” Kiara joked.
“Sorry... Is it because you’re a witch?”
Marshala sighed. “To be honest... yes. Being a witch comes with a lot of responsibility. Especially in this town. It is our duty to protect not just this planet but the people who inhabit it. Sometimes... that can put a strain on a relationship. It’s hard to give someone all of you when you’re constantly giving to others...”
“So, your responsibilities as a witch are impacting your relationship with him... That sucks. But at least he seems to be understanding,” Kiara said hopefully. Marshala cracked an ironic smile. “I’m just gonna ask... Do the Volkovs have a thing for black women caaaaaause I’ve noticed a pattern...”
Marshala couldn’t help but laugh. “The Volkovs are very close to my... well our coven. They’re our biggest allies. Considering the origin of our ancestors as Franco-African, the majority of people in our coven are black. Thus...”
Kiara nodded. “Makes sense. And how do you know the Blackbournes?”
A small smile crossed Marshala’s face. “We go way back.”
“Really? But Alexander and Cole are like... my age. Unless you mean Elijah?”
“Let’s talk about something else,” Marshala said quickly. “How are you adjusting to all this?”
Kiara anxiously exhaled as she played with her fingers. “A little better than before. I’m kind of nervous to see the brothers knowing that they knew what I didn’t... I don’t want them to feel differently about me...”
“I’m certain they won’t, Kiara. In fact, I think it might be a bit of a relief to them now that you know.”
Kiara smirked. “Conspirateurs!”
“You know French?” Marshala asked, surprised.
“Elijah has been teaching me a bit here and there,” Kiara smiled. “That man is so well-traveled and cultured. Sometimes it feels like he knows everything.”
“You have no idea...” Marshala grinned.
They pulled up to the side of the Blackbourne Manor before they both stepped out of the car and headed up to the house. “Wait,” Marshala said, handing Kiara a scarf. “For your neck.”
Kiara rolled her eyes, remembering the hickey Leo gave her. She tied the scarf around her neck, covering the small mark. Her hand hadn’t made contact with the door by the time it swung up.
“Kiara!” Elijah exclaimed with a wide smile.
“Elijah!” Kiara squealed as she quickly jumped into his arms. Marshala raised her brows in surprise to see how enthusiastic both of them were to see each other again.
“I am so grateful to see that you are in good health. We’ve been worried sick about you,” Elijah said, letting them both in.
“I’m sorry. I meant to call you guys, but I lost my phone and a few other important items,” she said, dropping her bag. “Sorry, Elijah. I think I forgot some of my medical equipment including your blood sample and Evangeline’s back at the hospital’s parking lot.”
“Don’t fret, Kiara. I’ll make sure to check it out myself,” Elijah said, giving Marshala a knowing look. Kiara smiled gratefully and quickly searched the living room until she spotted Cole descending the stairs with Peter behind him.
“Kiara!” Peter screamed as he ran to her.
She quickly picked him up in her arms and hugged him tightly. “Dude, even Peter missed me? I must be in the Twilight Zone,” she chuckled.
“You actually came back,” Cole smirked. “Thought you ran away from us, little thing. You get sick of us already?”
“Never,” she said, running up to him and hugging him. Cole held his arms out, startled by this awkward and rare gesture of affection. He hesitantly wrapped his arms around her, causing Marshala to chuckle in amusement.
Marshala could feel eyes on her and glanced sideways to see Elijah casually leaning back against the wall with his hands in the pockets of his slacks. His bright blue eyes slowly raked over her body before he locked her in a heated gaze.
“Is Alexander here?” Kiara asked, catching both of their attention.
“Em... he should be returning home from a... run... any sec-” But before Elijah could finish his sentence, Alexander had opened the door and walked over the threshold. His pale blue eyes immediately locked onto Kiara and she could have sworn she felt her heart skip a beat.
“...Kiara...?” His voice was soft and wanting and it nearly made her melt.
“Alexander...” For a moment it seemed like they were the only two in the room before she quickly walked over to him and threw her arms around him. Alexander felt all of his emotions come flooding back to him at once as he instinctively wrapped his arms tightly around her body. She felt so warm and soft and she smelled so good. He desperately wanted to kiss her, but knew better considering his company.
Kiara settled into his embrace, inhaling his piney scent for just a second before she reminded herself she was in a room full of people. “I really missed you... all of you,” she said, pulling back from him. She tried not to be obvious with how much she stared at him. Alexander smiled at her tenderly, already missing her in his arms again.
“So...” Marshala said, clapping her hands together. “Kiara knows she’s a witch.” Kiara cringed with how abrupt Marshala was. She still wasn’t used to it.
“WHAT?! SHE’S A WITCH?! GET OUT!” Cole said, pretending to be shocked.
“Cole, shut the hell up,” Alexander snapped at him.
“How do you feel?” Elijah asked her.
“A little weird...” she said, giving him an awkward smile. “I can’t believe you guys knew all this time. What else are you keeping from me,” she chuckled.
“Oh, little thing, if you only knew,” Cole smirked.
“Kiara will learn more in time. I didn’t want to overwhelm her with too much at once,” Marshala said, giving all of them a knowing look.
“Does it bother you?” Kiara asked apprehensively. “To know that I’m...”
“Of course not,” Elijah reassured her.
“We always knew, Kiara,” Alexander said. “We just... didn’t want to frighten you...”
She gave him a bright smile and shook her head with a chuckle. “You guys could never frighten me. And I’m really glad you’re okay, Alexander...”
They locked eyes, sharing a moment before Elijah cleared his throat. “Kiara, why don’t you go get something to eat in the kitchen,” he said, gesturing. “The boys made you something in anticipation of your arrival.”
Kiara’s eyes bulged in shock. “Really?!”
“...Really...?” Marshala said skeptically.
“Really!” Peter said excitedly. He grabbed Kiara’s hand and led her to the kitchen.
Cole and Alexander waited for Kiara to enter the kitchen with Peter before they both turned to Marshala. “Marshala, can you try it before she does?” Alexander asked.
“Why?” she asked.
“Because we don’t know how it tastes. Anything that doesn’t taste like blood tastes like shit to us,” Cole groaned. “And let’s hope that what we actually made doesn’t taste like... well shit.”
Marshala threw her head back as she laughed out loud. “You guys are too much. I’m afraid I can’t stay, but I’m sure she’ll love it regardless,” she said, wiping a tear from her eye.
Cole rolled his eyes as he headed toward the kitchen. “Thanks for nothing, Marshala. I don’t wanna be associated with Alexander’s bad cooking.”
“You added like 15 spices!” Alexander scolded as he followed him.
“Spices are good! They add flavor.”
“Not that many at once, Cole!”
Marshala chuckled as she watched them leave. “I’m guessing you got rid of those blood samples she took of you and Evangeline,” Marshala said.
“Post haste,” Elijah smiled. “Can’t have vampire blood lying around now, can we?”
Marshala nodded. “Well, I should head out,” she said, heading for the door.
Elijah stepped in front of her, blocking her path. “Stay for dinner,” he said to her.
She gave him a sarcastic look. “Elijah, you don’t eat food.”
“Then keep Kiara company while she eats whatever concoction the boys made her,” he smiled charmingly. “Or you can have some yourself. The boys made more than enough,” he smirked.
Marshala chuckled as she shook her head. “I’d love to but I can’t. I really need to go, Elijah,” she said, trying to walk around him.
“Are you trying to avoid me, Marshala,” he said, blocking her again as he took another step towards her.
“Elijah... please...” she said apprehensively, taking a step back from him.
He gave her an inquisitive look. “You’ve been thinking about me... haven’t you, mon coeur?” he asked her as he took another step closer. “About that night... the way I touched you... kissed you... made love to you... did you miss it?”
She went to take another step back before he wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close. “Elijah... I’m sorry... I shouldn’t have- it was a mistake,” she said, shaking her head. She pressed her palms against his chest, trying to push him back.
He raised a sharp, curious brow before a dazzling smile decorated his perfect face. “It’s never a mistake, mon coeur. I’ve memorized the number of times your heart beats per minute when you crave me the way I crave you.” He lifted her chin with his finger. “122 beats per minute... when I look at you...”
He gently caressed her shoulder with the back of his finger. “137... when I touch you...” Marshala sucked in her breath when he lowered his eyes to her lips. “153... when I kiss you...” She saw him lean in and quickly moved out of his grasp.
He looked at her with disappointment in his eyes as she frantically ran her hand over the top of her head. “I’m sorry... I... I will come back for Kiara... tomorrow. Goodnight, Elijah,” she said, heading towards the door.
“Marshala,” he called out before she could leave. She looked up at him and noted the wanting look in his eyes. “Tu m’appartiendras toujours, mon coeur... toujours,” he said softly. (“You will always belong to me, my heart...always”). Marshala swallowed hard. She looked down and quickly left, closing the door behind her.
Kiara looked up at Cole, Peter, and Alexander, anxiously waiting for her reaction to the stew that they had made for her. The chunky strange mixture of food contents had been sitting in her mouth for a minute as she contemplated if she really wanted to swallow and risk food poisoning.
She released her throat little by little, letting the slimy, strange variety of food slide down her throat. She mustered up the best smile she could so as not to hurt their feelings. “It’s... so... good,” she choked out. “You guys should be on the Food Network.”
“SHE HATES IT!” Cole said exasperated as he threw his arms in the air.
“I don’t hate it!” she said quickly.
“Was it the spices? It was the spices, wasn’t it?” Alexander said annoyed as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I told you not to use so much Cayenne Pepper, Cole!”
“Fuck the Cayenne Pepper! You should have added more Cajun seasoning!” Cole snapped.
“Guys!” Kiara chuckled. “It’s fine. Really. I can easily alter the taste of this with a few other spices,” she said, getting up from the table. “If you guys want, I can teach you how to properly mix spices,” she teased.
“You know what, little thing? That kinda sounds like an insult. So I’m gonna leave while what’s left of my pride is still intact,” Cole said, picking Peter up with one arm.
“Wait! I want to learn how to mix spices!” Peter screamed.
“No, Peter. You really don’t,” Cole said as they both left the kitchen.
Kiara smirked as she looked at Alexander. “He’s not even subtle,” she said, stirring spices into the stew in the pot.
“No, not at all,” Alexander smiled.
Kiara’s face warmed over as she took at the details of his face. “I like seeing your smile, Alexander. You should do it more often...”
Alexander blushed a little as he approached her. He looked over the contents of the pot. “Was it really that bad?” he asked.
She scrunched up her nose and tried not to laugh. “... a little...” she said meekly as he snickered.
“Sorry about that. We tried. We’re not very good cooks.”
“It’s okay,” she said. She put the spoon to her lips and tasted the stew. “Mmm, that’s much better. Want a taste?”
Alexander looked at her for a moment before he grabbed the spoon from her hand and placed it back into the pot. “The stew is not what I want a taste of...” Kiara felt her heartbeat quicken as he backed her against the counter. She looked into his shining blue eyes laced with hunger and want. “I missed you...” he breathed out, his lips just barely grazing hers.
“I was only gone but a day, Alexander,” she chuckled softly, unable to look away from his gaze.
“It felt like a millennium...”
Kiara felt herself being lured in, lost in Alexander’s intense blue gaze before she felt his chilly soft lips on hers. She was hesitant about kissing Alexander since their last encounter. But this time around, he seemed more passionate about having her than he was before. Things moved quickly as he grabbed her waist and lifted her onto the counter. His lips refused to leave hers as he nearly sucked the breath out of her. He lifted her shirt slightly and she gasped, feeling the cool chill of his palm caress her warm skin.
He kissed her jawline, his lips roaming down her neck as he tugged at the scarf. Kiara’s eyes immediately popped open when she remembered. “Um!” she said, abruptly pushing Alexander back. She quickly tightened the scarf around her neck.
Alexander looked at her confused. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she said quickly. “Just a little chilly.”
He eyed her curiously before he pulled back. “We probably shouldn’t do that here anyway,” he said.
“You’re probably right,” she chuckled nervously.
“Um...” he said a bit embarrassed as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Walk you to your room?” She eagerly nodded. After covering the pot and placing it in the fridge, she headed out of the kitchen with him behind her.
“Goodnight, Elijah,” Kiara waved before heading up the stairs.
“Goodnight, Kiara,” Elijah said, watching her. “Alexander... a word, please.”
Alexander looked at Elijah before looking at Kiara who stared back at him with concern. “Go on, Kiara. I’ll see you in the morning,” he told her.
She frowned for a moment before smiling again and nodding. “Goodnight, Alexander,” she said.
Alexander waited until Kiara disappeared before he walked up to Elijah. “Yes?”
“I know you’re quite relieved that she is back,” Elijah started. “Even more relieved that she knows she’s a witch.”
“I’m glad she’s starting to learn the truth,” Alexander nodded, feeling apprehensive about Elijah’s next words.
“Alexander...” Elijah sighed as he put his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Let me be clear... your safety is important to me. Not just physically but... emotionally...”
“Elijah, you don’t-”
“She may care for you now,” Elijah said, cutting him off. “But do not trust to hope when she discovers what we are... what you are... do you understand?”
Alexander swallowed the dry lump in his throat as he looked at his brother. “Yea, Elijah... I understand...”