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

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32a. - A Love Like This Pt. 1

Leo shot his head up gasping for air as he struggled to breathe.

“Leo! Leo, calm down! It’s okay!” Alexander said quickly, kneeling next to him and grabbing him by his shoulders. “Breathe, Leo! Breathe!”

Leo clutched his chest. It felt like tons of pins and needles were penetrating him at once. “Fuck! Holy shit! That hurts like hell!” Leo gasped.

“The feeling will subside in a few seconds. It’s just a side effect,” a voice said. Leo looked up to see Gina standing in front of him.

“What’s going on?” Leo asked, frantically. “What-” He searched around him to see that they were still in the forests, but everything looked frozen. “What the hell,” Leo said, staring at Kiara’s still form. He eyed Elijah and Cole with their arms folded, looking as if they were in mid-conversation as Peter sat on a rock without blinking. Rhea stood in Levi’s arms frozen in place, and Akamu and Nick looked as if they were in the middle of a handshake.

“What the heck is going on?” Leo asked, standing to his feet.

“It’s a bit challenging to explain...” Gina sighed. “Frozen in time might be the best explanation.” Leo and Alexander both looked at her confused.

“Before I was reborn as a vampire a long... long... LONG time ago. Don’t even ask me how long, because it’s rude to ask a woman her age. I was a witch. I had practiced magic from one of the best teachers, my grandmother, back in Kyoto. As a mortal witch, there were many things I could do. As a hybrid... a vampire witch... my powers were multiplied exponentially. One of those powers being the ability to manipulate time.”

“That’s incredible!” Leo said.

Gina smiled. “It was incredible... until it wasn’t... I was pretty foolish back then in my early days as a hybrid. I abused my powers. I went back in time manipulating history so much that I started erasing people’s existence...” She looked at Leo and Alexander and frowned. “There’s a balance to everything. And the punishment for abusing this power is to lose it altogether... along with other things...”

“The power to manipulate time?” Alexander asked.

“No, Alexander... I... I lose my magic entirely... my connection to my ancestors... my family...” she said. She looked up at them, reading the question in their eyes. “I haven’t used this power in a long time for obvious reasons, but... if there was ever a time to risk losing my magic... it’s now,” she said, glancing at Makiko who was frozen still.

“I can’t lose her... I can’t lose Makiko...” Gina said more to herself. She looked at Alexander and Leo again. “So, I went back as far as my power would allow me... which happened to be here... a mere 15 minutes,” she scoffed. “Pathetic... and I brought back as many people as I could. But that too was limited, so I had to choose wisely.”

Alexander suddenly noticed Evangeline unfreeze. “Evangeline!” he rushed towards her, pulling her into his arms.

“Alexander!” Evangeline said startled as she hugged him tightly. Evangeline looked at Gina over Alexander’s shoulder. “Gina?” Evangeline asked, confused. “What’s going on?”

“I chose the only people who I knew could change the outcome. The only people who can reach both Melissa and Kiara,” Gina said.

“Change the outcome of what?” Alexander asked.

Gina deeply exhaled as she hugged herself. “The outcome of every single person here dying...”

Leo’s eyes bulged as Alexander looked at her in shock. “WHAT?!” Leo blurted. “But how?!”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Alexander said. “We finished this. We ended the fighting. Evangeline stopped William. Kiara saved everyone.”

“Kiara kills everyone,” Gina corrected.

Alexander looked at her shocked. “What?!”

“She would never!” Leo said angrily. “Every single person here is important to her. There’s no fucking way!”

“In her defense, she wasn’t necessarily in her right mind...” Gina said, glancing at Evangeline.

Evangeline looked at Gina and felt her heart sink. “...Mellie...”

Gina nodded. “Melissa possessed her, Evangeline...”

“But why?!” Alexander said angrily. “Why would she do that?!”

Evangeline looked at Gina as her brows furrowed. “... because... because I die... don’t I...”

Gina’s face fell as she nodded. “...William...”

“Then let’s kill the son of a bitch!” Leo growled. “He’s right there.”

“You kill William, you kill all the Blackbournes including Alexander, and then you die anyway,” Gina said.

“Shit...” Leo groaned, holding his head.

“Then we stop him,” Alexander said quickly. “We stop him from killing you.”

Gina shook her head. “That’s not enough, Alexander. Melissa is bitter. Angry. That spell she told Kiara didn’t just break the curse, it released her spirit into Kiara, making her body a vessel for her to harbor. It was always her intent to possess Kiara. It was always her intent to seek her revenge. Evangeline’s death just... expedited things.”

“Then what the hell do we do?!” Leo said with exasperation.

“I saw her,” Evangeline said suddenly. “I saw Mellie in Kiara’s eyes...” Evangeline pondered for a moment before she turned to face her son. “...Alexander...”

Alexander’s eyes widened once he figured out her intent. “No, no, Evangeline, no!”

“She needs me,” Evangeline insisted.

“I JUST GOT YOU BACK!” Alexander shouted angrily. Evangeline’s face fell as she saw blood tears stream down Alexander’s cheeks. She quickly pulled him into her arms, resting his head on her shoulder as she rubbed soothing circles on his back. “I can’t lose you again. I can’t,” Alexander sobbed as he clutched her tightly.

“Oh, my Alexander… my sweet, Alexander...” Evangeline sighed, tenderly kissing the side of his face. “You were always so special to me. Your soft heart. Your kindness. Your empathy. I’m so grateful that you never lost that after all these years. After what he did to us.” She pulled back and held him by his shoulders as she looked him in the eye. “You are the strongest person I know, Alexander. Did you know that?”

“Don’t,” Alexander said, shaking his head. “Just stop.”

“I’m serious, Alexander,” she said. “You are the reason I was able to push past the pain and endure so much. It was your love, your protection, your comfort. Your brothers did not fall into complete darkness because of you, Alexander. You brought so much joy and life through your art. You never lost your humanity. It only grew.”

Alexander tried to swallow down his sobs as he looked at his mother with sorrow. “I’m so proud of you, Alexander. I’m so proud of the man you have become. I need you to take care of your brothers. Be there for them. Hold the family together. Can you do that for me?” she said. Alexander looked at her and slowly nodded as she pulled him into her arms again. “I love you dearly, Alexander. Always. Tell Elijah, Peter, and Cole that I love them as well,” she said, kissing his forehead.

Evangeline pulled back and glanced at Leo standing behind Alexander. He had a remorseful expression on his face. “Well, aren’t you cute!” she blurted.

“Mother!” Alexander said startled.

Leo immediately flushed over as he jammed his hands into his pockets. His cheeks became bright red sending Evangeline into a fit of laughter. “Just trying to lighten the mood,” Evangeline winked. “Take care of my boy, will you?” Leo nodded and gave a small smile. Evangeline turned to Gina who looked as if she were trying to hold her own tears at bay. “Oh heavens, Gina, not you too!”

“I’m sorry,” Gina said, trying to regain composure. “You’re the bravest, most selfless woman I know, Evangeline...”

Evangeline smiled at her warmly. “What do I need to do?”

“Your time is short, I’m afraid,” Gina sighed. “Talking to Kiara won’t work much, but you can try to do what you can to connect with Melissa. You must touch Kiara and think of one of the fondest memories you’ve had with Melissa. Kiara has the power of premonition. With Melissa in her head, she’ll see what Kiara sees. You’ll have to do it before William...”

Evangeline exhaled deeply. “Alright...”

“And what about us?” Leo asked.

Gina looked at Leo and Alexander and hesitated. “I’m... I’m afraid you have the most difficult task of all... you need to stop Kiara...”

“Okay? How do we do that?” Leo asked, impatiently.

Alexander noticed the way Gina’s shoulders fell and immediately felt his heart sink. “No!” Alexander blurted. “No! No, we can’t!”

“What’s going on? What am I missing?” Leo asked, frantically. Alexander looked back at Leo who immediately read the concerned look in Alexander’s eyes. “NO FUCKING WAY!” Leo blurted. “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! NO! THERE’S GOTTA BE ANOTHER WAY!”

“There is no other way!” Gina said.

“There’s always another way!” Alexander said angrily. “What if... what if we put her to sleep or something?”

“Evangeline needs to be able to reach Melissa. Kiara needs to be awake for that,” Gina said.

“Maybe Kiara won’t freak out! Maybe Evangeline will get through to Melissa, and it will all work out,” Leo defended.

“Is that really a risk you’re willing to take?” Gina asked. “Are you willing to risk the lives of every single person you love?”

“But we also love her! Her life matters too!” Alexander snapped.

With a sigh, Gina looked at Evangeline who nodded in kind. She walked up to Alexander and Leo who were practically vibrating with rage. “I know this is difficult,” Evangeline said. “I know that you love her more than anything. I know that very well. A love like yours is rare... special... unique. But it’s also sacrificial. How do you think Kiara would feel if she killed everyone without intending to?”

Leo swallowed hard and clenched his fists as he tried to hold back his tears. His mind couldn’t comprehend what Gina and Evangeline were asking him to do. He couldn’t imagine putting his hands on Kiara in any way but to love her.

“We... we can’t hurt her,” Alexander insisted. “We could never.”

“We’re not capable of it,” Leo added. “There’s no fucking way.”

“It’s either her... or your brothers...” Gina said regretfully. “Cole, Levi, Nick, Elijah, Peter, Marshala, Rhea, Ava, Makiko. Your entire family. Gone.”

“Kiara would not want that,” Evangeline said softly. “She would want you both to do whatever it took to save them.”

“She would want to save everyone...” Alexander said, looking down. “This... this would break her.”

Leo felt anguish and pain in his heart as his own tears fell. “Fuck!” he growled angrily. “Goddammit! Shit!”

~*~

Alexander’s jaw tensed as he locked eyes with Leo. “Are you ready?” Gina asked them. Evangeline nodded and in seconds everything was set back into motion.

“Are you hitting on me?” Kiara asked, blushing.

Evangeline looked at her startled, trying to remember where they had left off in their conversation. “No... I... there’s... only one woman that has my heart...” Kiara’s face softened as she smiled at Evangeline.

“How the hell did you get over there?” Cole asked Alexander who was standing next to Leo. “Alexander, you pulling some Houdini shit?”

“Mellie,” Evangeline said, grabbing Kiara’s wrist suddenly.

Kiara looked at her confused. “No, I’m Kiara.”

“Mellie, listen to me,” Evangeline continued. “You are the most important person to me. I have always loved you. I have never stopped loving you. You will always have my heart, my dove. Always. I need you to remember that.”

Elijah looked at Evangeline and Kiara confused. “Evangeline,” he said. “Are you okay?”

“Mellie, please hear my heart,” Evangeline said, ignoring Elijah as she held a confused Kiara’s hand to her chest. Kiara’s mind suddenly flashed as her eyes rolled back.

~

“O, Romeo! Romeo! Wherefore art thou, Romeo! Deny thy father and refuse thy na-!”

“Am I the Romeo in this relationship because of how much time I love spending between your legs,” Evangeline grinned as she pinched Melissa’s thigh.

“AH! Evangeline!” Melissa squealed as she slapped Evangeline’s hand away. Melissa eased backward on the soft linen bed, further into the large fluffy pillow behind her. Evangeline’s naked form hovered over hers, nestled comfortably between her dark mocha thighs. “You would be Romeo because you’re reckless, foolish, and impulsive,” Melissa teased as she playfully pulled Evangeline’s dark brown locks.

“Only when it comes to you,” Evangeline smiled. She tenderly kissed the inside of Melissa’s thigh. “Shakespeare is quite overrated anyway.”

Melissa ran her fingers through Evangeline’s silky raven hair. She moaned softly as Evangeline nuzzled her pelvis. “Evangeline...”

“Yes, my dove?”

“Tell me a love poem.”

Evangeline looked up from between Melissa’s legs. “I was kidding about Shakespeare, Mellie. He’s a literary genius... well... sort of... I mean better than me,” Evangeline teased.

“Just try, Evangeline,” Melissa insisted.

Evangeline pondered. “Hmm... How do I love thee, let me count the ways,” she laughed.

“Evangeline!” Melissa said, shaking her head. “Stop it. I want to hear something from your heart.”

Evangeline softened her gaze once she noticed the serious, almost desperate look in Melissa’s deep brown eyes. They were full of emotion, showing faint fatigue from constantly being on the run. Trying to live a life no one else seemed to want them to live.

Evangeline could see it. Melissa was tired. She was desperate. She was scared.

“Something from my heart...” Evangeline said as she brushed her pointer finger over the curve of Melissa’s bent knee. “A love like this... comes once in a lifetime...” Her plump lips left a small kiss on the knee she had just touched. “A love like this conquers hate, fear, sadness... pain...”

Evangeline looked up to see Melissa’s eyes already welling up with tears as she took small breaths. “A love like this is perfect because the key ingredient... is you,” Evangeline smiled. Melissa quickly wiped the tear from her eye before it could escape as Evangeline crawled up next to her.

“A love like this does not perish with our bodies,” Evangeline continued as her finger gently traced up Melissa’s stomach. “It lives on forever... as you will live on in my heart.” Evangeline turned Melissa’s head with her pointer finger so that their eyes were locked with each other. Melissa could no longer hold back the tears that were now wetting her cheeks. “I will never leave you, Mellie. I will always love you. And I will always be here. Because a love like this...” Evangeline glanced down at Melissa’s quivering lips peppered with teardrops.

“...never dies...” Melissa breathed out.

Evangeline smiled warmly. “Never dies,” she repeated before she leaned forward and kissed her softly.

~

Kiara’s head jerked forward as she looked at Evangeline in surprise. A blood tear slipped down Evangeline’s face before her body jerked. Kiara shrieked to see a bloody hand jutting out through Evangeline’s chest.

“You will always... belong... to me...” William seethed in Evangeline’s ear. Kiara screamed as William ripped Evangeline’s heart out through her back. Cole looked on in shock as Peter screamed in horror. Elijah tackled William to the ground as Nick and Akamu jumped in as well.

Alexander and Leo exchanged frantic looks. “We can’t,” Leo said, shaking his head as tears streamed down his face. “Alexander, we can’t. Please!”

“No! No, no, no!” Cole shouted as he ran towards Evangeline. “WE JUST FUCKING GOT YOU BACK!!! EVANGELINE!!! NO!!!”

The skies thundered loudly in sync with Kiara’s screams as a hard rain fell. Lightning hit several trees, catching them on fire. “Kiara!” Marshala shouted. She ran to Kiara but she immediately went flying back as a huge blast of energy permeated from Kiara.

“We have to,” Alexander said, running towards her. “At least try to subdue her.” Leo and Alexander ran straight for Kiara, but the energy surrounding her sent them flying backward again. “Kiara!” Alexander shouted, scrambling to his feet. “Please, Kiara, look at us!”

“Angel!” Leo shouted as he clawed at the barrier.

Kiara screamed out, tears streaming down her face as she held her head in her hands. Several people went flying in the air as energy rippled around her. The wind around them violently picked up as trees became uprooted and split into pieces.

“What’s happening?!” Rhea panicked.

“The aether...” Lillian muttered, stepping back. “She’s... she’s losing control...”

“Kiara!” Leo shouted. “You have to control it, baby! Please!”

“I can’t!” Kiara cried as trees started flying in the air. “I... I can’t contr-” She let out a bloodcurdling scream as she threw her head back. Everywhere around her, people screamed trying to dodge the flying rocks and trees. Her eyes opened and a bright jade green shined bright as tears fell down her face.

Alexander felt his heart tearing into pieces as he watched Kiara fall apart. He could feel her anguish deep inside him like a gaping wound.

“We’re… we’re losing her, Alexander,” Leo choked out with regret and grit in his broken voice. The two of them locked eyes with each other, sharing the same feeling of despair. “We’re losing her.” Leo looked back at Kiara, his eyes glowing amber. “I can’t do it... I can’t... I love her...”

“Then, I will,” Alexander said suddenly. Leo looked at Alexander surprised. He read the intent in Alexander’s eyes. Leo swallowed hard and nodded his understanding before he set his eyes back on the devastatingly broken woman who owned his heart.

Alexander’s jaw tensed as he took a deep breath. He held his hand up as his sharp nails elongated like daggers while he kept his blood-red eyes on Kiara. His fangs descended in anticipation. Kiara’s screams immediately ceased once she felt the sharp pain in her chest. Like several knives at once dug deep into her heart. It was the most intense pain she had ever felt in her life.

She stared across from her to see Alexander’s hand deep inside his own chest. The pain and fear in his eyes was nothing she had ever seen before. “...with every breath I breathe,” Alexander said to her. “I love you...” Kiara and Leo both jerked as Alexander tore his own heart out of his chest.

“I would dig my nails into my chest... rip my heart out of my rib cage and give it to her if she asked. I know you would do the same...” Alexander’s words echoed in Leo’s mind as he watched Alexander’s body fall to the ground.

Everyone stared in shock as Kiara’s screams pierced the air. She ran towards Alexander’s body, and her vocal cords nearly tore with the agony of her hysteria. She leaned over his corpse, sobbing into his chest until she felt Leo wrap his arms around her from behind. She looked up at Leo to see tears streaming down his face.

“Come here, Angel,” Leo choked out as he pulled her into his comforting embrace. He rocked her in his arms as she sobbed into his chest. They both watched Alexander’s body start to disintegrate.

“I did this!” Kiara cried hysterically.

“Hush, Angel. Don’t say that. It’s not your fault. Alexander and I knew this was the only way. He would have given his life for you no matter what,” Leo said.

Kiara felt her heartbeat starting to slow down as Leo’s own breathing became more erratic. “Leo...” Kiara sobbed. “I’m... I’m so sorry. For everything.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Leo said, kissing her temple. He turned her chin so that she was looking up at him. He looked into her dark brown eyes welled up with fear and pain. “I love you so much, Angel. I love you more than you can possibly imagine. And I will never stop loving you,” Leo said, stroking her cheek wet with tears.

Kiara struggled to breathe as she choked out what words she could. “I... I love you too, Leo,” she sobbed. Leo gave her a warm, comforting smile. He lowered his lips to hers and kissed her like the last kiss it was. Entangling his fingers in her hair, he pulled her closer to intensify the kiss as their tears mingled with their tongues. Kiara desperately grasped onto Leo’s hand that soothingly caressed her wet face as she struggled to inhale her last breath. Her chest tightened and she could hear her dying heartbeat loud in her ear.

“Don’t be afraid, Angel...” Leo said, tenderly caressing her lips with his. “I’m here... I’m not leaving you...”

Marshala looked in shock as she watched Leo and Kiara’s bodies collapse on the ground next to Alexander.

~*~

Elijah stared at a spot on the floor. He wasn’t sure how long he had been looking at it or how long he had been sitting on Marshala’s couch. It was one of the few and rare times in his life when he had no idea what to do. There was a huge gaping hole in his heart that felt as if it were swallowing him whole.

Peter had been in such a state of hysteria watching Evangeline, Kiara, Alexander, and Leo die in front of him that Makiko had to give him a sleeping draft. It knocked him out long enough for Cole to take him home. Cole had barely uttered a word unless it was to curse something out. Ava made it a habit to visit him as often as possible to check up on him and make sure he was okay.

Ben agreed to keep William restrained and locked away until the spell binding Cole, Elijah, and Peter to him could be broken.

Nick sat on the far end of the couch opposite of Elijah with his elbows on his knees and his hands in his hair. He had never felt so hollow. Images of a young, laughing Leo flashed in his mind. The looming weight of regret hung over his head. He felt depression and anger. Anger towards himself for always being so hard on his younger brother. He knew that Leo understood Nick had many responsibilities to take on that kept him from being the brother he wanted to be. But he still hated it. Leo’s death left a cavern-sized hole in his heart that was impossible to fill.

Nick had struggled between dealing with Leo’s death as well as managing the grief that Levi, Rhea, Ava, Marshala, and the rest of the pack were going through. The death of Kiara, Leo, and Alexander had been so sudden and unexpected that it left everyone feeling empty and distraught. Their bodies were placed in a tomb, together, until Marshala could gather her bearings enough to give them an official burial.

Nick and Elijah both looked up from the couch as Marshala walked into the living room with Gina. Marshala’s hand was trembling as she held a small cup of tea. “Sit, Marshala,” Gina said, motioning to the couch. Marshala placed her tea down and sat down on the couch between Nick and Elijah. They felt miles apart. Nothing but empty space filling the void.

Gina sat down on the armchair in front of them as she looked at the three broken souls in front of her. “I owe you an explanation,” Gina said to them. “In another version of this... all of you are dead.” The three of them looked at her startled. “Marshala, Elijah... You’re aware of my... power to manipulate time,” Gina said.

“I thought you lost that power,” Elijah said.

“I have now...” Gina sighed.

“What are you saying?” Marshala asked.

“Melissa possessed Kiara, and Kiara ended up killing everyone. So, I went back a few moments in time, and Evangeline, Leo, and Alexander agreed to stop it from happening,” Gina explained.

“So you sent them to their deaths!” Nick said angrily.

“They would have died regardless,” Gina said. “The casualties are just four instead of hundreds.”

“THEY ARE OUR FAMILY!” Nick shouted angrily.

“Nicholas,” Marshala said, touching his hand to calm him. Nick shot up from the couch and distanced himself as he started pacing.

“You should have sent me,” Nick said angrily. “I could have stopped this. Or die trying. But not Leo! Not my fucking brother!”

“Only Leo and Alexander had the means to stop, Kiara,” Gina said. “I had told them to kill her to save everyone else. In the end, they still couldn’t do it. They couldn’t bring her harm by their own hands because, well... they loved her that much.”

Gina sat up straight and looked at the three of them. “The soul bond is key here. The death of a witch in a soul bond is not enough to kill the vampire or the wolf. But if either the wolf or the vampire dies, then everyone in the soul bond dies. Alexander and Leo both chose to die with Kiara rather than to live their lives without her.”

Marshala suddenly looked at Gina. “Why do I feel like you convinced me to have them complete the soul bond as a contingency plan?”

“Do you really think so little of me, Marshala?” Gina asked.

“You’re a HYBRID, Gina. You’ve lived for centuries. You’re one of the smartest witches I know. Tell me you didn’t foresee this! Tell me that’s not why you had them complete the soul bond!” Marshala begged.

Gina sighed as she averted her eyes. “I didn’t foresee this exactly... I knew that Leo and Alexander would not be able to kill her themselves in the end... Just as I know Elijah and Nicholas would not be able to do so with you...” Gina looked at Marshala regretfully. “There are some fates... you just can’t avoid, Marshala...”

“YOU SET THEM UP!” Marshala growled angrily.

“We have a responsibility as witches to keep the balance!” Gina snapped back. “You know the sacrifices I’ve personally made! Kiara HAD to break the curse! I didn’t want them to die, Marshala, but be rational here! How many lives were saved at the sacrifice of a few?!”

“Then why do I still feel like I’m the one who died?!” Marshala blurted. She put her face in her hands, sobbing with deep anguish.

Elijah deeply exhaled as he scooted closer to Marshala and pulled her into his arms. “It’s alright, mon coeur...” he said softly.

Gina slowly exhaled as she looked at Elijah. “I am sorry for all of your losses. If there was a better way...”

“I know...” Elijah said remorsefully.

“I failed her,” Marshala sobbed into her hands. “I brought her into this life, and I sent her to her death. I failed her!”

Nick quickly walked over and sat down next to Marshala. “Don’t do this to yourself, Shal,” he said, rubbing her thigh. “If anything... we all failed them...”

Gina stood to her feet looking at Marshala regretfully. She headed towards the door before turning back around. “Kiara, Leo, and Alexander gave their lives so that you can have your own... including the life inside of you. Grieve, mourn... but also celebrate the life you’re bringing into this world,” Gina said before quickly slipping out.

Elijah and Nick both had confused looks on their faces as Marshala’s eyes widened in shock. “What does she-” Nick started before he jumped up. “ARE YOU PREGNANT?!”

Marshala shrunk back. “I… I was going to tell you both... eventually, but I-”

“OH MY GOD, SHAL!” Nick shouted. He picked her up in his arms and spun her around excitedly. “HOLY SHIT, BABY! YOU’RE PREGNANT!!”

Elijah looked up at them fondly as a small smile came to his face. He silently stood to his feet and headed towards the door. “I’ll... give you two some privacy,” Elijah said softly.

“Just where the hell do you think you’re going?” Nick said, placing Marshala back down on her feet.

Elijah looked back at Nick. “...I just assumed-”

“You’re part of this family too, Elijah. We need to be there for each other. We can’t afford to be apart right now,” Nick said. “I just lost a brother. I’m not trying to lose another.” Elijah looked at Nick surprised. “Plus, you’re in my damn head, Blackbourne. I mean shit, your emotions are all over the goddamn place,” Nick smirked.

“I’m certain that’s just you, Nicholas, father-to-be,” Elijah grinned back.

Marshala let go of Nick’s hand and walked up to Elijah whose blue eyes immediately landed on her. “There’s too much grief for me to hold onto this anymore,” she said to him. “For you... to hold onto this...” Elijah swallowed hard as he searched her eyes, anticipating her next words. “Kiara told me that... forgiveness is for me... and this life we live... we lose people,” Marshala said, trying to hold back a sob. “And... I don’t want to lose you, Elijah. I don’t want my brother’s death to keep us apart. So... I forgive you...”

Elijah felt an overwhelmingly warm sensation bubble up from his stomach to his chest and completely flood his body. He quickly grabbed the back of Marshala’s neck and slammed his lips into hers. Marshala grabbed onto Elijah’s shirt as he flushed his body against hers. She felt Nick move behind her as he sandwiched her between them. They only stopped kissing for Elijah to lift her arms as Nick tugged her shirt over her head.

Elijah kissed down her chest and over her stomach until he was kneeling in front of her. He tugged at the waistband of her pants, pulling them down off of her hips and down her legs. They moved synchronously as Elijah stood to his feet and slipped his hand beneath her panties, stroking her softly. She gasped as Nick cupped her breasts from behind and sucked on the soft flesh of her neck.

“We’re not doing this in the living room!” she said, quickly moving out from their grasps.

“Bedroom it is,” Nick said crouching down and picking her up in his arms. Nick exchanged a fond look with Elijah before they headed upstairs to make love as a bandage to their grief.

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