Family Ties - (Book 3 of the Marvelous 3 Saga)

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30a. - Down in New Orleans Pt. 1

“Elijah...”

Elijah held his bleeding head as he anxiously searched for the faint voice of his brother. “Peter! Come to me, little one. I am here!” Elijah said, trying to see through the blood clotting his eyes. “Peter!”

Elijah searched the hard ground before he felt cold, soft flesh. He looked down to see Peter with blood tears cascading down his pale, petite face. “Elijah, I’m- I’m so scared,” Peter cried faintly as his nose and mouth welled up with blood. “Please make it stop, Elijah... please...”

“It’s okay, Peter. I’m here, just-” Elijah looked in shock as the life disappeared from his brother’s eyes.

Marshala’s eyes popped open as she looked up at the ceiling of Nick’s truck. She could hear playful laughter and the sound of birds chirping as a cool breeze blew across her skin.

“Heyyy! You’re awake!” came Leo’s voice. Marshala struggled to sit up and saw Leo doing push-ups on the ground outside in a black t-shirt and jeans.

“Are you okay? You’ve been sleeping quite a bit,” came Alexander’s voice. He sat in the front seat of Nick’s truck with a book in his hand.

“Yea,” Marshala yawned. “Just... tired...” She looked around. “Where is-”

“She’s with Elijah and Nick. Showing them how much she’s improved since their last training,” Alexander smirked. He gestured to the fields across the freeway. Marshala looked outside the truck to see Kiara running and laughing as she easily dodged Nick and Elijah.

~

“Alright! Alright! Goddammit, Kiara...” Nick groaned. He pushed her off of him from pinning him to the ground.

“AYYY! Did I just outsmart an alpha wolf?! Better, faster, stronger, baby!” Kiara squealed. She jumped up and down, causing the trees to shake.

“Okay, Kiara, let’s not get supercilious,” Elijah smirked, instantly appearing behind her. But she quickly blew him backward, smashing him into a tree.

“Just call me, Kiara: THE LAST AIRBENDER!” she said as she twerked down the path.

“Well... color me impressed,” Elijah said. He got up and dusted off his jacket.

“Do I get a cool superhero name now? How about Captain Marvelous or Wonder Witch,” she said, twirling the leaves around her with her magic.

“No superhero names,” Nick said, grabbing her arm. “I want you to practice that takedown ag-” But Kiara had already grabbed Nick’s arm and used her magic to throw him flat on his back before he could finish giving her instruction. “Shit, Kiara...” he said, looking up at her stunned. “How the fuck did you progress so much so fast?”

“Magic steroids, Obi-Wan,” she said, grinning down at him. “At least that’s what it feels like ever since I connected with Melissa. That aaaand Leo and Alexander have been helping me.” She hopped off of Nick and used her magic to spin the leaves around her as she squealed with delight.

“It’s nice to see her taking ownership of her powers,” Elijah smiled as he watched her. “She is so much like her mother.”

“She reminds me of a younger Leo. Excited. Cocky. Annoying as shit,” Nick smirked as he stood to his feet.

They both glanced to the right to see Marshala getting out of the truck. She stretched her arms before Leo walked over to give her a hug. “She seems somewhat... off...” Elijah said softly.

“She was stabbed, kidnapped and nearly killed by your fucking kind,” Nick said tensely. “I’d be a little off too.”

Elijah furrowed his brow. “I... may have been a little rough with her too...”

“You mean you fucked her,” Nick snarled. “I could smell you all over her at the hospital.”

Elijah let out a deep sigh. “I’m not getting into it with you, Nicholas. She was mine long before she met you.”

“And yet she still ended up with me. Now, why do you think that is, Elijah?” Nick mocked. “She doesn’t need the kind of fucked up shit you bring into her life.”

“I have only ever protected her!” Elijah snapped.

“And to what end?!” Nick shot back.

“So, have you guys ever seen this movie called Savages,” Kiara interrupted. “Actually, Nick, I think you’d like it. Er... maybe not the end.”

“Kiara, what the fuck are you going on about?” Nick said agitatedly.

“Well, it’s about these two guys who share one woman. Y’all should try it sometime,” she shrugged.

“That’s probably the most absurd thing I’ve heard you say this whole trip, Kiara. And you’ve said quite a few,” Elijah said.

“Damn, Elijah, with the shade,” Kiara laughed. “You guys are out here arguing over Marshala, wondering why she’s so stressed when you’re probably the reason she’s feeling so down. I mean... Do you hear yourselves? You guys sound like a twitter feud.”

“Twitter?” Elijah said, confused.

“... you don’t have twitter? Let me set you up, ’cause you’re missing out,” she said, taking out her phone.

“Please don’t,” Elijah said, pushing her hand down.

“Are you on drugs, Kiara?” Nick smirked as he felt her forehead.

Kiara rolled her eyes and smacked his hand away. “Why do you guys have to sound your age? Polyamory is not that uncommon, you know. Besides, neither of you are human. You’re a vampire and you literally turn into a huge cuddly wolf. Which is way weirder. You have no room to judge.”

“I am NOT cuddly!” Nick snapped.

“... just a little... would you be mad if I pet you?” she teased.

“I would throw your ass in the bushes,” Nick threatened as she laughed.

“Well... two of my kin are sharing a woman with another man...” Elijah said thoughtfully.

“Wait, forreal?! Three guys?! Can she walk straight anymore?” Kiara asked.

“KIARA!” Elijah said wide-eyed as Nick burst into laughter. “What has gotten into you?”

“Sorry...” she said sheepishly. “I just mean... if you guys are so worried about her, try to stop arguing so much. I get you have your issues but, she clearly loves you both. If your soul bond is anything like the one I have with Leo and Alexander, then I can guarantee your constant arguing is taking a toll on her.”

Nick sighed. “...It’s not that simple, Kiara...”

“Then make it simple. Rome was built in a day, Nick,” she said.

“The saying is Rome WASN’T built in a day, Kiara,” Elijah grinned.

“Oh... well see, this is why I went into the medical field and why I’m not a historian,” she shrugged as Nick snickered. “And that’s not fair, Elijah, you’ve been around for like a bajillion years! You were probably there!”

“I’m not THAT old, Kiara!” Elijah laughed.

“I should fail you for that,” Nick teased.

“WHAT?! Oh, come on!” Kiara said, pinching him.

~*~

“And you guys haven’t had any weird side effects?” Marshala asked. She massaged the nodules behind Leo’s ears for irregularities.

“You mean other than this asshole being in my damn head,” Leo muttered, sitting on the hood of his truck.

Alexander leaned back against the side of the truck with his arms folded across his chest. He rolled his eyes. “You have nothing to worry about. Not like there’s anything in there,” he said with heavy snark.

“Boys...” Marshala said with warning as she checked Leo’s irises. “Tell me what happened after the final link was made. Did Kiara do the spell to lessen the potency?”

“She did a spell,” Alexander said as Marshala moved on to him next. She began to examine his eyes. “Several times. Not sure it worked, however. Our connection is... very strong for some reason.”

“It’s been a nightmare, to say the least,” Leo groaned. He glanced at Kiara laughing with Nick and Elijah.

“Well... can’t be that bad if she’s still alive. That means you guys put your differences aside to put her first. That’s very mature of you both,” Marshala said.

“It just... takes some getting used to,” Alexander sighed. “I can feel him, he can feel me... she can feel us and we both can feel her.”

“Have you both felt her physically?” Marshala asked.

“At the same time?!” Leo blurted. “No! Well, yes-! I mean- we tried not to be too rough but she-”

“Leo!” Alexander snapped, shutting him up. Marshala looked at them both confused. “Yes,” Alexander sighed, directing his attention back to Marshala. “When Kiara gets hurt, we can both feel her...”

“I expected that,” Marshala sighed. “I’ll talk to Kiara about lessening the potency.” Alexander glared at Leo who had a distraught look of embarrassment on his face. “There is one other thing,” Alexander said. “She’s been... acting kind of strange.”

“Strange how?” Marshala asked.

“She’s just not herself,” Leo chimed in. “Can’t really describe it... But something feels different about her.”

“Any examples?” Marshala asked.

“Don’t!” Alexander said sharply before Leo could speak. “We don’t really have anything concrete, Marshala. It’s just a feeling.”

“Well, she is coming into her power and with that may include some... personality enhancements,” Marshala said.

“Yea, I guess...” Leo said, rubbing the back of his neck with uncertainty.

Marshala eyed the looks of uncertainty on their faces as they exchanged glances with each other, lost in their own thoughts. It almost seemed as if they were having a non-verbal conversation with each other. “Listen,” she said, catching their attention. “I wasn’t sure how I wanted to tell you both this, but... I saw William Blackbourne.”

Alexander immediately tensed up as his nostrils flared. “Did he hurt you?” Leo asked.

“No,” Marshala said, looking at Alexander who was steadily getting angry. “He didn’t hurt me- Alexander, calm down.” Alexander averted his gaze and tried to relax. “I just wanted you guys to be aware. William is coming for her, and he won’t stop until he has her. I’m glad she’s discovering her powers, but still, I wonder if it will be enough. She’ll need you both to get through this,” Marshala said.

“We’ll be there for her,” Leo said. “No questions asked.”

“We’ll protect her,” Alexander added. “With our last dying breath.” Marshala smiled, noting their use of ‘we’ rather than ‘I.’

“Marshala!” Kiara screamed, tackling Marshala to the ground with a hug. “You’re up! That means we can continue to New Orleans! Are you okay?”

“Yes,” Marshala smiled. “Just a little tired is all.” She glanced up to see Nick and Elijah watching her with looks of deep concern.

~*~

“Shal! Shal, look at me, baby!”

Marshala struggled to open her eyes as she saw Nick crawling towards her. His face looked badly bruised as blood streamed down his nose and from his mouth.

“Nicholas...” Marshala breathed out. She could hardly move without feeling the excruciating pain in her chest.

“Stay with me, baby,” Nick said, grabbing her. He lightly smacked her face to keep her awake. “Come on, Shal! SHAL! FUCKING STAY WITH ME!”

“Nich-”

“NEW ORLEANS!” Kiara squealed with excitement, startling Marshala out of her slumber. “I can’t believe this is where my family is from! It’s even more beautiful than I imagined!” Kiara plastered her face to the car window, looking at all the sights as the sound of bluegrass jazz floated in the air.

She flew out of Leo’s truck, dragging Marshala with her. They walked up to the hotel they would be staying at. “Afternoon,” the woman at the front desk smiled as Kiara and Marshala approached. “First time in New Orleans?”

“No,” Marshala said.

“YES!” Kiara said excitedly.

“First time is always fun,” the woman smiled. “How many rooms can I getcha?”

“Three. Double beds, please,” Marshala said.

“Three?” Kiara said, turning to Marshala. “I can just stay with Leo and Alexander in one room and you can stay with Nick and Elijah in the other.”

Marshala looked at Kiara like she had lost her mind. “Kiara, that’s an awful idea,” she said quickly. “You’ll stay with me. Leo and Alexander can stay with their brothers.”

“But, Marshala,” Kiara said. “Don’t you think it’s more cost-efficient if we just got two rooms?” The woman at the front desk looked at them confused before she saw four guys loitering behind them.

“It’s not happening, Kiara,” Marshala said, turning to the woman. “Three rooms,” she said sliding over her credit card. Kiara looked at Leo and Alexander and mouthed ‘sorry’ before Marshala dragged her away. Alexander smirked and Leo chuckled.

Leo felt his brother tap him on his shoulder. “Come on,” Nick said, leading him to another room.

Alexander quickly grabbed Leo’s shoulder. “I shouldn’t have to say this but I will.”

“Relax! I won’t say shit. Not like I need my brother knowing...” Leo muttered.

“I’m serious, Volkov. You may be a warrior, but I swear you can’t lie for shit. Don’t say anything about what we did with her!” Alexander snapped.

“I didn’t tell her I was a wolf for years. I can fucking handle it. Damn!” Leo said, slapping Alexander’s hand off.

~

“YOU GUYS DID WHAT?!” Marshala blurted. She leaned back against the dresser of their small hotel room, gawking at a giddy Kiara laughing on her bed.

“It was seriously the most amazing sexual experience... I’ve ever had. Alexander’s sensual passion combined with Leo’s dirty roughness... honestly... I’m just waiting for it to happen again. I might be dick-whipped. I honestly feel like... their dick game could cure all my problems. I might be aDICKted. Nick asked me if I was on drugs before. The answer is ‘yes’, sir. And it’s in your brother’s pant-.”

“KIARA!” Marshala said, shocked.

“...Sorry...”

“Oh my god...” Marshala groaned, covering her face. “No wonder they were acting so strange...”

Kiara chuckled as she lay back on the bed, staring at the ceiling. “They’re a little embarrassed, but... the bond among the three of us has only gotten stronger. That’s why it’s hard for me to be apart from them. I feel like they’re a part of me. I’ve never felt this close to anyone before. It’s weird like... there’s this tugging... Sometimes I feel like I can’t live without them. Breathe without them. It’s almost as if we can’t survive without each other. And I know the guys feel the pull towards each other. They’re way less argumentative.”

“I noticed that...” Marshala pondered.

“Is it this strong for you with Nick and Elijah?”

“Sort of...” Marshala sighed. “The soul bond happened when Nick marked me. Elijah had marked me first. But Elijah and I were broken up when Nick and I met. Still... it was difficult to stay away from Elijah, especially after the blood treaty...”

Kiara waited for Marshala to finish her thought but she merely stared at the ground. Kiara could feel there was a heavy burden on Marshala. Much more than she was letting on. “Marshala... I know you and Elijah have issues because of your brother. I don’t need to know the details... and I’m not telling you how to feel, but... forgiveness isn’t for the other person. It’s for you.”

Marshala gave Kiara a pleasantly surprised smile. “Thank you, Kiara. That’s... insightful.”

Kiara smiled. “You guys should try a threesome.”

Marshala looked at Kiara startled. “Kiara LaFleur!”

“...was just a suggestion...” Kiara said hesitantly. “The guys and I have been so much closer since then.”

“Well, I’m glad you guys are getting closer... threesomes or not,” Marshala said, shaking her head. “But I need you to focus on this curse. What did Melissa tell you?”

Kiara sat up and leaned on her elbows. “She told me a spell to recite over the ashes where my ancestors lay.”

“Then we must go there at once. You will meet the Durand Coven of New Orleans,” Marshala said.

“Can we explore New Orleans a little first?” Kiara pleaded. “It’s an amazing feeling being here. Knowing this is where it all started for my family. I want to rediscover my roots.”

Marshala smiled fondly. “Well... Alice isn’t expecting us until tomorrow. I think we can make time for a few stops.”

~*~

Marshala stared at herself in the mirror of the small bathroom of their hotel room. She could hear Kiara humming a sweet melody as she changed her clothes outside the bathroom. The melody was the same lullaby her mother, Candace, would sing to her when she was a child. It fascinated Marshala that even though her mother had passed when she was just a toddler, Kiara still remembered that song.

Marshala softly hummed the lullaby as she rubbed her bare stomach. She still couldn’t believe that she was pregnant. It was a terrifying feeling and the timing couldn’t be worse. A small blue light emanated from her fingers as the lullaby she sang transitioned to a quiet incantation.

Nick and Elijah could sense a shift in her. They could smell it or hear it. But she wasn’t sure if they knew. And she wasn’t ready to tell them. She wasn’t ready to tell anyone. For she was still trying to process the news herself. She swallowed hard as the blue light glowed around her stomach.

She reflected back on Kiara’s words of advice. “Forgiveness isn’t for the other person… it’s for you…” Every time she thought about forgiving Elijah, it was like there was a wall there that wouldn’t allow her to move further. Her mind reflected back to that fateful night. Elijah had come to see her despite her warnings of her brother’s threats. Her brother’s hatred for vampires was understandable but misdirected. And it interfered with her relationship with the vampire that owned her heart.

She remembered the argument she got into with her brother. It was the last argument they ever had… He had threatened to kill Elijah and send her away. But Elijah was so protective… too protective. Sure, her brother may have provoked Elijah, but it was like a small fish provoking a shark.

Marshala still remembered the way the life drained from Matthew’s eyes. It gave her the same feeling when she saw the look of dread and guilt in Elijah’s when he realized what he had done. The pain she felt from losing her brother was only surpassed by the pain she felt turning Elijah away.

A tear slipped down Marshala’s cheek as she tried to blink the horrible memory away. She looked back down at her belly and continued the incantation of masking her pregnancy. They couldn’t know. Not yet.

~*~

“Oh! Can we stop here!” Kiara said, pointing to the window of a bakery shop. Alexander looked inside to see a tray of fresh beignets.

“That does look good...” Leo said with a quirked brow.

“What is this? The Food Network?” Nick said flippantly.

“Nick, come on! I’ve always wanted to try one,” she pleaded, giving him puppy eyes.

“Fine...” Nick groaned.

Kiara ran inside the store dragging Leo by the hand. “Come on, Alexander!” she said.

“Did she forget I can’t eat?” Alexander wondered.

“Most likely. Mortals are so easily amused,” Elijah smirked. “Her excitement is refreshing, however.”

“As long as we stay focused,” Nick said. He looked back at Marshala who was staring down the road. “Shal?” Nick said.

Marshala turned around and realized Elijah, Nick, and Alexander were staring at her with concern. “Sorry,” she said quickly. “This town... the witches that died here long ago, I... can feel them. It’s so heavy...”

Elijah furrowed his brow. “Do you want us to leave?”

“No,” she said quickly. “I want Kiara to enjoy this right now. I’m okay.” Nick and Elijah exchanged uncertain glances as Marshala walked into the bakery.

~

Kiara spent the afternoon leading the exploration of the quaint town as she reveled in its history. It escaped neither Elijah nor Nick how close their brothers seemed to be getting not just to Kiara, but to each other. On one of their many stops, Elijah watched Leo hug Kiara as she nuzzled her face into his chest.

“Did you know that I love you...” Elijah heard Leo say as he played with her hair.

“Tell me again...” Kiara smiled up at him, brushing her lips against his.

Elijah didn’t understand how Alexander could tolerate his mate in the arms of a man he despised. He knew Alexander’s obsession with Kiara was just as strong as the obsession he had with Marshala. Elijah eyed Kiara’s face again. It seemed to glow especially when she was looking at Leo. He glanced at Alexander approaching them and noticed not only that his face didn’t tense up to see them kissing but also that Alexander was focusing solely on the smile on Kiara’s face. As if it were all he needed.

“Do you hear that?!” Kiara said excitedly. Marshala’s ears perked up as bluegrass jazz floated in the air.

“It’s coming from over there,” Alexander said, pointing to a small dark bar full of people. The smell of sweet liquor and smoke floated in the air.

“One more stop,” Kiara pleaded.

Nick groaned as Leo smiled. “Last one, Kiara,” Elijah smirked. Kiara let out a ‘whoop’ before she grabbed Marshala’s hand and dragged her inside.

~*~

Alexander sat at the bar watching Kiara talk excitedly to the saxophone player on stage. A small smile came to his face. Kiara had become the light of his life. The joy that was missing in his heart. Her very presence brought him much-needed peace. She let out a giggle that echoed around them and warmed his chest. Her laugh was infectious.

“Okay, listen,” Leo said, sitting on the stool next to Alexander. “I think I’ve been doing really well.”

Alexander looked at Leo who seemed anxious. “Doing what well?”

“Controlling myself. With her,” Leo breathed out as he ran his fingers through his dark blonde hair. His eyes flickered amber once he caught Kiara in his sight. “But I feel like... I’m going through withdrawals or some shit.” Alexander’s jaw tightened. “Fuck...” Leo muttered when Alexander didn’t say anything. “I was hoping it wasn’t just a wolf thing,” he said. He attempted to hide his hard-on as he glanced back at Kiara.

“... I feel it too,” Alexander said. “I just have more control than you.”

“Fuck you, Alexander.”

Alexander smirked. “I’ve had to train myself not to succumb to my bloodlust for decades. It’s no surprise I’m better at controlling my urges.” Alexander waved the bartender over. “Just have a drink.”

“What can I get for you gentlemen?” the bartender asked.

“Whiskey, thanks,” Leo said. The bartender looked at Alexander who shook his head. “Seriously?” Leo said.

“I’m not a drinker,” Alexander shrugged.

“Bullshit. Make that two whiskeys,” Leo said to the bartender.

“You know it takes 5 times the average liquor to get even a buzz for a vampire,” Alexander said with a raised brow.

“Now you’re just fucking showing off,” Leo smirked.

“Here you go,” the bartender said, bringing back their drinks. “Your tab was already paid for.”

Alexander looked confused. “By who?”

The bartender pointed to two beautiful women in short mini-dresses approaching them. “You know,” the blonde said, walking up to Leo. “I was just asking my girl Lisa here... when this trip was finally going to get more fun...”

“You owe me 30 bucks, Aly,” Lisa smirked. She eyed Alexander flirtatiously and grabbed the side of his jacket. “Are you guys here on vacation too?”

“Uh.. no,” Alexander said, peeling her hand off of him.

“Hmm. Leather jacket. Firm biceps. Tight chest. And hot as fuck. Let me guess,” Aly said, eyeing Leo up. “You’re the rowdy jock type... probably a monster in bed.” She perched herself on Leo’s lap. “You look like you could absolutely destroy a girl in bed.”

“There’s only one girl I plan to destroy in bed, and it sure as fuck ain’t you,” Leo said irritably, pushing her off his lap.

Aly stumbled off of him, knocking into her friend. Alexander caught her before she fell on her ass. “Leo...” Alexander said annoyed.

“Aren’t you a perfect gentleman,” Lisa smiled. She grabbed Alexander’s arm before he could pull away. “I like the sensitive type. I hear you guys are usually the best lovers. Is that true?” she teased.

“I think you have the wrong idea,” Alexander said politely. He pulled a few bills out of his wallet and handed them to her. “Thank you for the drinks, but we’re actually here with someone.”

Lisa pouted. “Well, that sucks. I was hoping you could join us for dinner.”

“And then some,” Aly smirked. She leaned over the counter, giving Leo a bird’s-eye view of her cleavage. “I’m not wearing any panties...” she whispered. Leo rolled his eyes in annoyance. “See? You’re already hard,” Aly teased, noting his bulge through his jeans.

“This isn’t ’cause of you. I’m just sexually frustrated,” Leo muttered. “See what the fuck I mean, Blackbourne? It’s been too damn long since I’ve fucked her. Now I have randoms thinking I want them cause I can’t keep down a damn erection.”

“Randoms?” Lisa said, offended.

“Fuck who?” Aly said excitedly.

“So, we’re gonna go,” Alexander said, getting up. “Pleasure meeting you, ladies.”

“Wait,” Lisa blocked him. “What about breakfast then?”

“I have a girlfriend,” Alexander said impatiently.

“Must not be a very good one if she’s not here,” Lisa snarked.

“She’s actually right over there,” Alexander pointed.

Lisa and Aly followed the direction he was pointing and saw Kiara still talking excitedly to the saxophone player. “Ew,” Aly said, making a face of disgust.

“... you’re kidding right?” Lisa scoffed.

“Man, fuck you,” Leo said, getting up annoyed.

“Oh, come on! I’m sure you have better tastes in women,” Aly said quickly.

“That’s my woman!” Leo snapped.

The girls looked at them confused. “You’re both dating the same girl?” Lisa scoffed. “And that girl? Low standards, I guess...”

“Alright, little lady!” the saxophone player said to Kiara. “Next song is for you!”

“Thanks, Louie! You’re the sweetest!” Kiara smiled brightly. She started shuffling back through the crowd when she caught two sparsely-dressed women talking to an unnerved Alexander and an angry Leo.

Alexander cursed furiously in Romanian as he ripped Lisa’s hand off of his jacket. “I’m trying to be nice here, but you’re being really disrespectful! Find someone else to latch on to.”

Lisa’s nose flared as she grabbed her drink to throw it in Alexander’s face. But the liquid abruptly changed direction and splashed into her own face instead. “Oh my god!” she screamed.

Aly’s own drink exploded in her hands, getting all over her dress. “What the fuck?!” she screamed angrily. A strong wind blew as the two girls slipped to the floor. The girls looked up with mascara running down their faces from their drinks to see Kiara glaring at them.

“You can leave now,” Kiara said calmly. The girls went to protest when they saw a disturbingly strange green flicker in her eyes. Kiara watched them scramble to their feet, slipping on their heels as they ran outside.

“Holy fuck that was hot,” Leo grinned. He grabbed Kiara’s waist and pulled her back against him.

Alexander shook his head with a smirk. “You shouldn’t be using your magic in public like that, Kiara.”

“I’m sorry... are you going to discipline me, Alexander?” she teased, biting her lip. Alexander felt his jeans tighten as his throat dried up.

“Goddamn, Angel...” Leo groaned as he softly kissed the back of her neck. “It’s fucking hot when you get like this. Let’s just get out of here so I can fu-”

“You guys are ridiculous!” Marshala blurted. She grabbed Kiara’s arm and yanked her out of Leo’s grasp.

“What’d I do?!” Kiara said as Marshala dragged her away.

~

Leo perched himself on a stool, sitting at a tall table across from Nick. “Nice show you guys put on,” Nick smirked, sipping his beer. “Seems Kiara is just as possessive of you as you are of her. You need to control your girl.”

Leo eyed Kiara being scolded by Marshala. “We know how to handle her,” he grinned.

Nick raised a curious brow and leaned back in his seat. “...We?”

Leo looked at Nick surprised. “I meant... me. I know how to handle her.” He looked down at his drink, hoping Nick wouldn’t bring it up.

“What’s up with you, little brother,” Nick said. “You’ve been acting strange.”

Leo took a deep breath as he tried to find his words. “It’s this... soul bond shit. I’m close to Kiara, but... I’m close to him too. I don’t know... I feel like I, uh... care about him... a little more than I want to admit...”

“Well, fuck me,” Nick said surprised. Leo groaned as he covered his face. “You of all people?” Nick continued. “Who hated the Blackbournes. Was ready to rip out Alexander’s heart just for looking at Kiara. And now you’re telling me you care about him? The stars have collapsed.”

“Shut up, Nick.”

Nick smirked as he sipped his beer. “Listen, Leo. I get it,” Nick said, leaning over the table. “As much as I can’t fucking stand Elijah, that pompous asshole... I’m still tied to him. That soul bond is a bitch.”

Leo glanced at Kiara and then at Alexander who was also looking at her. “I don’t know, Nick... I feel like... it’s more than that...”

~

“Alexander...”

Alexander tore his eyes away from Kiara and looked into the big blue eyes of his brother sitting in front of him. “You’ve been staring at her all night,” Elijah chuckled.

Alexander blushed as he looked down. “I’m so in love with her, Elijah.”

“I know...” Elijah said. “But I feel there is something you’re keeping from me.”

Alexander glanced up at Elijah and sighed. “Just this... soul bond. The pull I feel towards Leo is... stronger than I expected. Sometimes I feel like I know what he’s thinking. Sometimes we don’t even have to talk to each other to understand how the other feels. It’s strange to me to feel so connected to someone I used to despise.”

“Used to?” Elijah said curiously.

Alexander shrugged. “I’d be lying if I said I hated him. He and I have one thing in common: Kiara. I love her. I would die for her. And I know he would too. Which is why it’s so easy for me to well... tolerate him. Almost... like him.”

Elijah pondered Alexander’s words. “I understand that pull very well. It is the same I have with Nick.”

“It really isn’t though, is it,” Alexander said quickly. Elijah looked at him surprised. “Elijah...” Alexander sighed, trying to pull the right words. “Marshala is going through something. I don’t know what it is... but I can see it on her face. And if I can see it, then I know you feel it. She needs you. Both of you. Yes, there was a time I hated Leo, but the reason I don’t now is because I respect that he’s willing to put his life on the line for Kiara. Just as I would. There is no one else who feels about her the way I do... except him. And we get that she’s far more important than anything else.”

Elijah looked at Alexander surprised. “... you have a fair point... Alexander...”

Elijah glanced at Marshala who was smiling brightly as she hugged Kiara tightly. The music changed and Kiara forced an embarrassed Marshala to dance. His lover was indeed going through something. And it was Kiara who proved to be the best of them, bringing a smile to her face.

~

“What do you mean it’s more than that?”

“I mean that Kiara is the reason we’re tied to each other. Not just this fucking soul bond. Nick, I can’t live this life without her. I refuse to. And I would do anything, anything to be with her. Even if it means accepting Alexander. I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I get you guys have history. But I just think you should start putting Marshala first. She deserves that much.” Leo heard Kiara squeal as another song came on. He immediately got up as she waved him over.

“Guess the conversation’s over,” Nick sighed as he watched Leo walk up to Kiara. He eyed Marshala sitting down at a table by herself. She seemed lost in her thoughts as she stared absentmindedly. “Baby... what the hell is going on with you...” he sighed.

Suddenly, Elijah flashed in front of him. “HOLY SHIT, ELIJAH! The fuck! There are people around!” Nick said aggravated.

“Everyone here is inebriated,” Elijah said. “We need to talk.”

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