“Why can’t I come with you mother? Two weeks is so long to be without you.” Jude clings to his mother’s arm, his head resting against her shoulder as he displays a big pout.
Nora caresses his shoulder with her free hand, comforting him, before replying with, “It’ll go quickly Augustus, I promise. This trip is for your father and I only, but maybe we can go on a family trip next time; the three of us. What do you think about that William?” Nora waits for his response, but it doesn’t come. She looks at him directly and sees that he’s texting rather happily, as he has been the entire ride. Nora scowls slightly, knowing who it’s with. “William?”
Finally snapping out of it and upon hearing his name, he looks at them and replies, “Yes, we will definitely go on a trip together next time. We can go anywhere you want Jude, ok?” He smiles at him and gives his head an endearing rub. “I’m going to miss you though buddy.”
Jude’s eyes light up as he smiles. “Really father? I’m glad. I’ll miss you too. Maybe, when you come back, do you think we can play my game together? We never were able before.”
“Sure, I’d love to. In fact, we’ll be sure and bring it along with us to New York. That way, you and your sister can both have fun with it. She’s been loving the ZBOX I bought her.”
Jude’s smile fades slightly. He’d meant for it to just be he and his father, but as usual, he always seems to bring his unknown sister into it. It seems like she’s all he talks about anymore and it kind of makes him feel angry. He doesn’t understand why he feels this way and knows it’s wrong to blame others when you’ve never even met them, but every time he thinks about her, he feels a feeling he’s never felt before and wishes she would go away. Rather than say any of this, he simply says, “Yes, father, I can’t wait,” and fakes a smile. He can’t let this feeling show.
Nora looks at her boy with remorse, understanding his grief. William is oblivious to it, but she can see it clearly, the feeling he’s finally coming to know for the first time, jealousy. She’s felt it many of days since she learned of the existence of the woman named Jenevieve Barlow and even now, she still feels its sting, though it’s admittedly not as strong as before. She holds no malice for her as it’s not as though she knew of Nora either and has likely felt the same kind of jealously for her. She also has no hatred for their daughter, who had no say in being born to the situation she finds herself in. However, she does hope that Will can find a way to channel his newfound parental energy to August too, as he’s been patiently waiting for it to arrive.
“Aren’t you excited to spend some time with your grandparents August? Surely Grandpa Richie and Grandma Mellie have a lot of fun activities planned for you while we’re gone.”
“Unlikely.” William is sarcastic on reflex, earning him a glare from Nora. “Just saying.”
“Don’t pay your father any mind August, he’s just being pessimistic. Your grandparents have much more time on their hands now that they’ve retired, so surely they’ll have time.”
“I’ll be ok mother, I don’t mind being with Grandpa Richie and Grandma Mellie, they always make sure I’m entertained and even bring me along to the country club, which is fun.”
“Oh wonderful, I’m very happy to hear that. See William, things can change in time.”
William rolls his eyes, knowing that’s a crock of bull, but he simply says, “Of course.”
“If you’d like August, I can see if your Grandpa Steven and Grandma Becca can have you for a week as well. That way you can split the time between both sets of grandparents.”
“No!” Jude blurts out without thinking, his inner thoughts projecting against his will. He can see the surprised faces of his parents and quickly corrects. “I’d rather not, if I may please.”
William laughs out loud. “Wow, even Jude is distressed by the thought of spending time with them. He really is like your clone Nora; I’m surprised you even suggested it considering.”
She’d suggested it as merely a formality; expecting he’d refuse, but she hadn’t expected him to react as strongly as he did. Will may think it’s funny, but she’s not amused in the slightest and looks at Jude with worry. Her anxiety builds, as her worst nightmare becomes a possibility.
The car suddenly comes to a halt. “We’ve arrived at the airport, Sir, Madame.” A mature, suited gentleman announces this before getting out the car and opening the door on Nora’s side. He takes her hand and assists her out the car, followed by Jude. William has already exited on the other side and joins his family on the curb. Deacon has already exited the vehicle and surveyed the area before they even stepped outside the car. The driver removes their luggage from the trunk and places it on the curb. He then turns to the two. “Please enjoy your trip.”
William shakes his hand and replies, “Thank you Joseph, we appreciate the ride.” Nora nods, echoing his sentiment. He nods respectfully and gets back into his car, driving away.
Almost immediately, couriers come and haul their luggage away, on the fast track to their exclusive gate, where their private jet awaits. The remaining process is just as fast, having elite access to a personal security check and private club to pass the time while they wait for boarding.
Jude talks their ears off for nearly an hour, but they don’t mind, as he’s usually reserved; befitting of a loner. He talks about random things; games, movies, and more. Anything he can that gets him the attention of his parents, specifically his father. He talks so much, his eyes start to get heavy, as sleep threatens to overtake him. He lies against his mother’s shoulder and she wraps her arm around him and positions his head against her side in response, caressing his hair as she does. She lives for these moments and prays that they will always retain this happiness.
“Excuse me Sir William, your plane is nearly ready to depart. I’ll have an attendant come fetch you once it’s ready to board.” The club manager interrupts the quiet lull, but it is welcome.
“Thank you, Sal, we’ll prepare ourselves.” He leaves, and Will turns to Nora. “I’m going to make a quick call to Tessa and ensure she’s got everything she needs to run the company in my absence. I’m not worried if she can do it, but I don’t want to leave her stranded either. The phone is getting turned off promptly after however and will remain as such the entire trip.”
Nora nods. “It’s fine Will, I understand. It can’t be helped sometimes. We’ll be here.”
“Thanks Nora, I’ll be right back.” Will leaves the room and soon after, Jude begins to stir; awakening from his cat nap. He rubs his eyes, but makes no move get up from his mom’s lap.
Nora caresses his head affectionally and in a gentle voice says, “Sleep well little prince?”
He smiles and with still half-closed eyes he sleepily responds with, “Yes Mother, very.”
“Wonderful.” She continues to caress him, and his eyes start to droop once again, but she has a thought. She hasn’t been able to get August’s reaction out of her head from earlier and decides she must know for sure. His drowsy state provides the perfect conditions for questions.
“Hey Auggie, is there a reason you were so adamant about not spending time with your Grandpa Steven? I was a bit surprised by how intensely you responded to the idea.”
August rubs his eyes and looks up at his mother. “I’m sorry if I reacted distastefully mother, I didn’t mean to make you worry or cause a scene. I love Grandpa Steven and Grandma Becca but staying with them for an extended time is…uncomfortable. That’s why I’d rather not.”
“Why is it uncomfortable? Do they mistreat you somehow? It’s ok to tell me anything, I won’t be mad, and I’d never let them know what you tell me. Please be honest with me Auggie.”
August becomes a bit more conscious of the situation as his sleepiness dissipates and he has the realization that his mother is worried about something and is trying to fish for answers. He doesn’t want to tell her, not because he fears she’d turn away from him, but because he knows once he says it, it’ll make it real. He won’t be able to hide it anymore or run from it.
“Augustus?” Nora calls out to the boy, concern saturating her voice and worry etched on her face. “Is there something you feel you can’t tell me? You can tell me anything, I promise.”
August finally sits up and settles beside his mother, but no longer faces her. He stares at the floor and twists his fingers together nervously. Sensing his anxiety, Nora reaches down and takes his hand in hers and rests them on his lap. This instantly calms him, and he finally finds the courage to speak up. “I think Grandpa Steven hates me now, or at the least is disgusted by me.”
“Why would he hate you August? He can be a strict man, but to hate his own grandson? I doubt he hates you, but tell me, what makes you think this? Did he ever say he hates you?”
“No, he didn’t say it, but I feel he does because he sometimes says mean things.”
“Like what? Tell me exactly what mean things he says to you? Is there a reason why?”
“We were watching a movie one time I stayed with them and it ended with the man and woman getting married in the French countryside. Grandpa said he wished his wedding could’ve been there too, rather than in a traditional chapel. I said that I wanted to get married on the beach, in a simple ceremony with my close friends and family. Grandpa looked interested and asked me if I had someone in mind for that day. He didn’t specify and so I guess I thought it was ok. I thought it was ok to be honest, because surely my Grandpa wouldn’t think less of me. I said I did and mentioned George’s name. He suddenly looked so angry and slapped me. He told me to get that sick fantasy out of my head and sent me to my room. Since then, he’s been a bit mean.”
“So, he hasn’t done anything physically to you, but has just been slightly mean-spirited?”
August nods. “I understand he’s just reacting based on the values he was raised to have and so it’s not really his fault, but it still hurts sometimes and makes me feel very sad.” He pouts.
Nora’s face relaxes, her entire body becoming limp with relief. Her main worry has been alleviated, but just as quickly, she frowns, thinking about her father mistreating her son in any manner. She pulls August close to her in a firm hug and softly replies, “Oh Auggie, I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this all alone. Your grandfather was raised in a very strict, traditional household and so he is indeed conditioned to be closed-minded and unyielding in his principles. However, that is no excuse for denying your own grandchild. He and my mother raised me the same way they were, but I would never turn my back on you or chastise you for being yourself. He is simply just an evil and selfish man, who cares for only himself. I’m sorry to say such things to you about your grandfather, but I believe you must learn it now, before he makes you feel that there’s something wrong with you or that you should be ashamed. You are perfect.”
August starts to get teary-eyed and gently returns his mother’s embrace. “You won’t hate me if I never marry a girl? You won’t be disgusted if only ever like other boys?”
Nora smiles warmly and pushes August back such that they are face to face. “I will love you no matter who you choose to love August. Girl, boy or otherwise, I’ll be happy to see you with someone who will respect you, protect you and love you the way you deserve to be loved.”
August returns her smile, feeling a wave of relief wash over his body. He didn’t realize just how significant it’d be to know his mother will be on his side when the day comes that he must face who he is. He hugs her again, tighter now and she returns it lovingly. However, dread begins to creep up again as he has a thought. “Mother, do you think father will also accept-.”
“Alright! The bags are loaded up, the crew has stocked the cabin and the captain is ready to take flight.” William enters the room again with an excited tone. “My phone is off and to show my seriousness, I will be passing it off to Deacon. He’s promised to not give it back until we return no matter what I say. Finally, Klaus is waiting for you at the gate Jude, and will drive you right to my parents. In other words, everything is going exactly as planned. So, you guys ready?”
Nora smiles slightly at his enthusiasm and sitting them upright again, she whispers to August, “We’ll talk about it once we return, all three of us.” She gives him a wink and then stands, proceeding to get their personal items in order for departure. “Just a moment Will.”
August simply nods, deciding this is best, as he’s not sure he was ready to take that step just yet. He’s still not certain how he’d classify himself, but he knows he has time to do so. He hops down from the sofa and slips his knapsack on his back. His mother holds out her hand and he gratefully accepts it, wanting to absorb as much of her warmth and inhale her scent as much as he can. Two weeks without her will be difficult, but he’s resolved himself to be strong, so she won’t worry. He knows things between his parents have been rocky for a long time and that this trip is meant to help them find happiness again. He knows this instinctively. He hopes it’ll be a success and that it will usher in a new dawn for their family and lead them to lifelong happiness.
It’s for this reason that he doesn’t cry as he watches their plane takeoff and fly up high into the sky. He instead wishes them safe travels under his breath and prays for their safety.
“Are you ready Young Master?” Klaus approaches from behind with a gentle smile.
Jude nods, before finally responding, “Yes Mr. Klaus, I’m ready. Would it be ok if we stop and get Mother and Father a present on the way back? I want to surprise them when they come back with something nice. Something that will show them how much I love them.”
“Of course Young Master, I think they would love that. Come along, we have a bit of time before your grandparents are expecting us.” He smiles kindly, and taking his hand, they go.
“Oh, how beautiful!” Nora proclaims with glee as they step into their luxury suite. As soon as they walk inside, they are greeted with a bird’s eye view of the city; the glass stretching wide across one end of the main suite to the other. The room is adorned with all manner of seating and other furniture, the center housing a marble fireplace and an impressive entertainment center hanging above it. Through the arch on the right is a kitchen, equally as elegant. It’s a space that William secured mainly for himself, no doubt. Finally to the left, the door to the master bedroom is present. It contains a similar decoration to the main suite, but most of the seating is replaced by a massive king bed with more pillows than one can imagine. Walking further in, Nora observes there is a balcony and on it an outdoor jacuzzi and love nest. Finally, to the left side of the bedroom, there is the extravagant master bath, which has a complete spa within it, along with the typical shower and bathing facilities. There’s a jet tub, which she can already imagine soaking in for hours. With or without Will is to be determined.
“So…did I do good, or did I do excellent?” William is beaming with self-satisfaction.
Nora looks at him with such an intense expression of gratitude, even Will is surprised. “Yes Will, this is more than I could’ve ever asked for. I love it so much. Thank you!”
He smiles, feeling validated by her approval. “Well, if you think this is great already, then you’re going to be blown away by the rest of our trip. For now though, what do you say we order in some room service, relax a bit and then get dressed for dinner tonight? Sound good?”
Nora smiles brightly. “Yes, that sounds wonderful Will. I’d like that very much.” He nods and calls for the suite attendant. She arrives within minutes and after brief introductions, she writes down their orders and delivers it promptly to the kitchen. She returns about fifteen minutes later, accompanied by a food attendant, and assists him in laying out their dishes.
“Anything more I may do Mousier, Madame?” Her accent is thick, but neither have difficulty understanding her as they are both overly fluent in the language.
William shakes his head in response and follows it up with, “Merci, Mademoiselle.”
She bows and excuses herself, her cheeks slightly flushed, as the cheeks of most young woman who encounter William Kale Argent usually are. It used to frustrate Nora, but now she understand that it’s just a part of his natural charm and he has no intentions of straying. She never thought that it’d be she herself who would commit the unholy sin in his stead and taint the sanctity of their marriage. She loses herself in silent shame, until she hears his voice call out.
“Nora?” He looks at her with worry. “Everything okay? Your expression was pained.”
She shakes her head in an effort to clear her mind and returns a wide smile to her face. “Yes, I’m wonderful William. I was just thinking for a moment, but it’s nothing to concern yourself over.” She finally notices the spread of dishes they were given. “Oh my, these all look absolutely scrumptious! Shall we dig in? I’m so famished I could eat this all myself.”
Will still feels a bit uneasy, worried that something negative is lurking beneath her cheery manner, but he decides he won’t brood on it now. This is the first step towards their future, so he’s going to go all in right from the start. “Yes, let’s eat. I’m feeling rather ravenous myself.” They help themselves to their feast, both excited for the promise of their coming adventures and potential happiness; as they work towards finding the love they lost long ago, once more.