They had been home for a couple of months now. Khryssa was still basking in the glow of the honeymoon. Three weeks of privacy was just what they both needed. There had been no cell phones, computers, tablets, or anything else that could disturb them. Only Greta and Khryssa’s parents knew how to get in touch with the newlyweds. It had been bliss.
The return had not been so much fun for Khryssa. She had spent the first four weeks at home with some sort of stomach problem. It had finally ended, thank goodness, and she felt fine. Just to be on the safe side Xavier talked her into going to see her general practitioner. Signing her name to a few papers, and throwing them into an envelope for her assistant to send off, she set the pen down and considered something for lunch. The phone beeped then, with a single touch, she punched the intercom.
“There is a call for you Dr. Harcard.” Khryssa smiled hearing her new name. “It is a Julia Pracknower”
“Send it through please Amelia.” Julia was her general practitioner as well as a good friend.
“Hi Julia, how are you?” She said upon lifting the phone.
“Good, busy as usual. Khrys we got some of your test results in and I wanted to talk to you about them.”
“Is there something wrong?”
“It depends on how you look at it. Your wbc and rbc counts are perfect. Your glucose, thyroid, and well everything else is within the midline.”
“Okay.” She replied cautiously. “So what do you think is the problem?”
“You know I rather discuss this in person, but for you I will make an exception. Khrys, I really hope this is good news for you. You are pregnant.”
“WHAT? That is impossible. Xavier can’t give me children.” Nearly dropping the phone she stared out the window shaking.
“You told me that before, so I double checked the blood sample, and re-ran the test. I re-ran the test three times Khrys. I used different vials of your blood to do so. You are pregnant.”
“Oh dear god, this is impossible.” Khryssa could feel herself go pale.
“Khrys, is there something you need to tell me? Do you need to have any other tests ran?” Julia spoke gently to her friend. She needed to know if perhaps her friend had been assaulted or had an affair and needed more checking.
“No. No I don’t. Thanks Julia, I appreciate this. Uhm. Please don’t say anything to anyone about this?”
“Of course not Khrys, doctor patient confidentiality still applies.”
“Thank you. I will give you a call this weekend so we can go to lunch.”
“Talk to you then.”
The women both hung up the phone. Rising from her desk she walked out of the office and to the elevators. Going up to the top floor she was nearly stopped by Greta.
“Dr. Harcard, Mr. Harcard is in a meeting.”
“I don’t care right now Greta. I need to see him.”
She kept walking. Entering Xavier’s office at a fast pace she stopped in front of the group of men seated. They were just as startled to see her as she was them. The seven men seated just stared. Until one of them spoke up, looking to both of the Harcards.
“Well Alex, I didn’t know you scheduled your noon time quickies.”
Khryssa glared at the man that had just spoken. “Xavier I need to speak with you. Now.”
Perhaps it was his wife’s tone of voice or perhaps it was that she was visibly shaken but Xavier smiled tightly at the men. “You heard my wife, get out.” Then turning to the one that spoke up, he stated. “And Corbin, clean your desk out. You are fired. Never refer to me as ‘Alex’ again.”
The men left quickly after that. Xavier turned to his wife and sat down beside her. His brow raised in curiosity. This was only the second time she had ever just barged in to his office. She would have called first if it was important. This was apparently extremely important.
“What is wrong Khryssa?” He took her hand in his.
She didn’t know what to say. So she just blurted it out. “I’m pregnant.”
Xavier was flustered. He knew this could not be true. He would have been able to catch the scent of another man if someone had touched her. He also knew that he couldn’t have fathered a child himself.
“Khryssa, you must be mistaken. I know that you have not lain with another man. I would be able to sense that. I could not have fathered the child either.” Xavier spoke gently.
She shook her head. “Julia ran the test four times. The first was the preliminary and then three more tests. All of them came back positive. She used different vials of blood for the three re-tests. I am pregnant.”
“How far along are you?”
“Without an ultrasound, I am not sure. My guess is that the stomach problem was actually morning sickness. So maybe one to three months?” “She shook her head. “How can this be?”
“I think I might have an idea what happened. First things first, we need to speak with Henrik Helsing.”
Xavier let go of his wife’s hand and picked up the phone. “Helsing, it is Harcard. Khryssa and I have something to discuss with you.”
“Is everything alright with Khryssa?” Henrik Helsing sounded terse with concern.
“Yes, I believe so. We need your help Helsing.”
“Are you sure Harcard? She is not in any danger?”
“She is in no danger that I am aware of. Will you come by our home tonight at six?”
Neither man said good bye. There was just a brief silence before they each hung up.
Xavier returned to receiver to the cradle. Turning to his wife, he frowned.
“Is he coming Xavier?”
“Yes my love, he will be there tonight at six. Perhaps you would like to go home and rest for a while?”
She nodded. Coming over to her husband, Khryssa slid into his waiting arms.
“I will see you in a couple of hours then.”
He kissed her good bye. Only returning to the day at hand after she left, Xavier could feel the tension rise within him.
He had modernized part of the estate for her. The bedrooms, a living area, kitchen, and family dining room were part of the creature comforts that he felt she needed. Xavier was rather enjoying them as well. He went up to their bedroom expecting to find his wife resting. She wasn’t there. Taking a tour around the castle, he finally found her in the kitchen.
“I thought you were supposed to be resting Khryssa.” He chided.
“I did for a little while. But since we are expecting company, I thought dinner would be in order.” She leaned over the stove top, tasting something in a large copper pot. Watching her with a smile, he moved towards his wife. Brushing a thumb against the corner of Khryssa’s lips and placing it in his own mouth.
“Yes, I am impressed. It is one of Uncle Henrik’s favorite dishes. Well, after schnitzel that is. He will just have to do without the garlic.”
He shook his head fondly. The timer dinged loudly. Xavier caught the oven mitts that had just been thrown at his chest.
“Take out the bread from the oven, please?”
Doing as she bid, he set the fresh baked bread down on to a wire mesh baking rack.
One of the staff came into the kitchen to let the couple know that Mr. Helsing had arrived.
“Thank you Angelo. Would you show him in please?”
“Yes Mr. Harcard.”
“You do realize that we have an executive chef to do all of this?”
“Yes Xavier, I realize this. I like to cook though.”
He smiled indulgently. “I know my darling. I know.”
Taking off the apron, she paused to wash her hands. Offering a freshly washed hand to her husband, the pair walked to the living area to see the waiting Henrik Helsing.
“Papa!” She greeted him warmly. Giving her great-grandfather a warm hug upon seeing him, she pulled back to smile. Henrik could see the strain around her eyes.
“Helsing.” Xavier nodded to his former nemesis.
Henrik replied in kind. “Harcard.”
“That would be wonderful Khrys, thank you.” Henrik spoke, still looking at Xavier warily. There was a truce, that did not mean they had to like each other.
The three of them went to the family dining room and sat down for a fresh pasta dinner. After a couple of glasses of wine, which Khryssa abstained from, and good food, they started a very important conversation. Khryssa told her great-grandfather what happened today and finding out that she was pregnant. She went on to explain that yes it was Xavier’s. Henrik Helsing looked at Khryssa, stunned.
“There has been one account of such an event that I know of. The woman was like you Khryssa.”
She tilted her head to the side and looked at her uncle. “Like me? What do you mean?” Khryssa was utterly confused.
Henrik glanced at his grandson-in-law and Xavier winced. He never told Khryssa about the conversation that he and Henrik Helsing had ages ago.
Henrik sighed and began to explain to Khryssa what she was and why. When he finished she exploded with anger.
“Why in the hell am I just finding out about this now?”
“Khryssa, we were never sure. Even now, we are not completely sure.” Replied Henrik.
“Xavier did you know about this?”
He closed his eyes, opening them only to answer. “After I proposed, yes I found out.”
“Why did you not tell me?”
“I didn’t want to worry you Khryssa.”
“Worry me? Worry me? I am pregnant now. Something that could have been prevented if, if I would have known about my ‘condition’. Both of you and your altruistic ideas did more damage than good.”
Xavier felt cold. He now had the chance to be a father and his wife was not wanting a child. He spoke quietly to her. “There are options Khryssa.”
Holding her hands up in surrender, Khryssa looked at her husband. “No. There aren’t any options.” She shook her head. “I want this child. I want for us to be parents. Xavier, I love you. I love you with everything that I am and everything that I ever will be. I am angry at both you and Papa for hiding this from me. Oh hell. Angry doesn't even begin to explain.”
Xavier gathered his wife in his arms. He ached with her fury. “I am sorry. I am so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I was trying to protect you.”
Henrik came over and placed his hand on Khryssa’s back. “I am sorry too Khrys. We should have told you when we figured it out.”
“Do Mom and Dad know?”
“No my darling child, I never told either of them.”
She nodded. “Please, both of you, keep it that way.”
The discussed the possibilities for why she was pregnant a little longer. Khryssa asked questions that neither man had an answer for. The most important one if the child would be healthy and normal. The discussion lasted for a while, but nothing was settled. Except, that somehow Khryssa became pregnant with a vampire’s child.
“I should be going. Thank you for dinner Khryssa, Xavier. “Henrik paused to look at the couple. “I am truly sorry if this caused you any concern Khryssa. If it matters, I think this is wonderful news. I remember quite well what it was like to be a father.” He turned to look at Xavier.
“I think you will be a fine father Harcard.” He swallowed hard, choking back the emotions. “You both will be wonderful parents. Congratulations.” He shook hands with his grandson-in-law and gave his niece a tight hug. “Good night.”
Both of them noticed the tears wetting Uncle Henrik’s cheeks. Khryssa laid her cheek to her husband’s shoulder. He clasped her tight to him. “I’m sorry Khryssa.”
She simply nodded before speaking. “We cannot turn back the hands of time; all we can do is press forward.” Neither of them knew if it was in reference to the situation at hand or to the long ago past.
The weeks passed and seasons changed. It was winter once again. The halls were decked and their home was decorated. In approximately eight weeks, Khryssa and Xavier Harcard would become parents. They had gone for another ultrasound earlier in the day.
“Dr. Harcard would you like to know the baby’s gender? The baby has finally moved into a position that we can tell.”
“I can tell already Maria.” She smiled at the ultrasound tech.
“Well I cannot! Are you going to inform your husband, eh wife?” Xavier chided Khryssa playfully.
Maria giggled softly at the banter between the two. She had actually worked for Khryssa. She quit and started this position after learning that she was pregnant with twins over a year ago. She was still fond of her former employer.
“What do you think Maria? Should I tell him or let him wonder until the baby is born?”
Xavier mock glared at his wife, while Maria giggled once more.
“It might be a good idea Dr. Harcard. Mr. Harcard seems to be getting a wee bit anxious.”
Khryssa looked at the screen and then at Xavier. He slid the back of his hand along her cheek. “I suppose I can.” Winking at her husband, she finally told him. “Xavier you are going to be a father as you well know.” She tried dragging it on but gave up when she saw the frustration in his eyes. “You are going to have a son.”
Xavier raised his chin and stared at the window to the outside. He wasn’t sure if he wished to smile or to let the tears that threatened to fall be released. His normally smooth voice was choked with emotion.
“Thank you. Thank you Khryssa Harcard for being my wife, for giving my life a new meaning, and making me something I never thought I would be, a father. I love you.”
Tears did well up in Khryssa’s dark eyes, they spilled warm and salty down her cheeks. Xavier kissed them away. He savored them, because they belonged to her. She traced a fingertip along Xavier’s jaw, only to brush the single digit over the curve of his sensuous mouth.
“I love you. Oh how much I love you.”’
The sun poured in, warmly, in spite of the chill in the air. Their driver was returning the couple to their home. Khryssa was curled up beneath Xavier’s arm. They looked exactly like what they were; a couple in love.
“I can’t believe I am going to be a father.”
“You would believe it if you were carrying this belly around for the past few months.” She laughed gently.
Xavier put his hand on the swell of her stomach. He could feel the baby, his child, kicking. He looked at the woman next to him. He was still amazed how beautiful she looked. Even pregnant, nothing changed that. It quite possibly made her even more beautiful as she was surrounded by the glow of happiness.
“Do you know what you are wearing tonight?”
“No matter what I wear, I will look like a beached orca whale.” There was jest in her voice. Khryssa deeply loved being pregnant.
“Perhaps then you should wear a white dress instead of black? That way you would look more like the beluga variety.” He tapped the tip of her nose with a smile.
“Oh you are going to pay for that later!” Looking up at him, she grinned. "Wait. Was I just nose booped by Xavier Harcard?"
“Pay? Why my dear, I already paid my dues with putting together the crib! And yes. You were just nose booped.”
“Oh now that was just bad!”
Xavier inched closer to her lips, after kissing them with much affection, he smiled again.
“I thought you liked bad boys.”
“Ach! I give up! There is no winning this one for me.”
“You are correct my darling.”
Returning home, they both got ready for the evening. A simple black gown with a fitted bodice that flowed into an empire style of dress for Khryssa and a winter cashmere tux for Xavier, and they were ready.
“You look delicious Xavier.” Khryssa drank her husband in. Dark eye were lit with desire. His gaze matched his wife’s.
“That is only because there will be a beautiful woman on my arm tonight.”
“Flattery will get your everywhere.”
“Well I already have everything I have ever desired. I suppose going everywhere with it is simply good fortune.” Xavier put his hand on his wife’s belly and stroked the sweet swell that was there. “Are you ready?”
Nodding, she spoke. “I would rather spend the evening undressing you and reminding myself that every inch of your body is mine to explore. Though, I suppose we should get going. It would not look good to be even fashionably late to your own party.”
“Before we go, I have something for you.”
“Turn around my wife.”
She turned her back to him. Xavier stepped forward to rest Khryssa against his chest. He brushed her long dark curls back from her neck and kissed the pulse point there. Lips lingered against the warm intoxicating skin; he just breathed her in. He so badly wished to drink from her. Yet, he had never fully given into that desire. He was too afraid of what might happen. Even on their honeymoon, he fed as little as possible on a few of the staff members.
Something was pulled from his pocket. It was a short, single strand of pearls. Against the side of the necklace lay two rubies. Taking time to fasten the jewelry around Khryssa’s neck, Xavier adjusted the necklace into its proper place. The two rubies rested against the side of her neck, rather than in front. It gave the appearance that she had been fed from. To him it was wholly erotic. He turned his wife to the mirror so that she could see.
“They are beautiful. Thank you Xavier.”
“No, you are beautiful. They are merely a lovely adornment to what is already perfection.”
Kissing her husband, Khryssa shook her head. “What am I going to do with you?”
“You can do to me whatever you want to.” Xavier gave a mock leer before starting to laugh.
Picking up her wrap off of the bed, she extended her hand. He took it, squeezing gently. They walked out and to the waiting Maybach. The journey was a short one. The ballroom was part of the old theater in the downtown area. When the driver opened the door, Xavier swept out into the velvety night. Helping Khryssa out of the car, they walked arm in arm into the majestic theater. Greeted in the lobby by the flash of cameras and the ever growing questions from the press, Xavier strode past the paparazzi with his wife.
Once inside the ballroom they were greeted in a much more normal manner. Friends and coworkers mingled. The soft clink of champagne glasses filled the air. The tones of the orchestra streamed quietly through the gathering. Khryssa was no longer the topic of the cruelest conversations. It had been four years now since the first Winter Ball. Her staying power was granted by the others. Besides, Mr. Harcard was much easier to get along with now. A few did pity her. After all she must take the brunt of Harcard’s wrath. More than a few envied Khryssa Harcard for the way that Xavier looked at her.
Khryssa was talking to a few members of her staff that she was close to. Smiling and laughing, she was having a wonderful time. Xavier was across the room, speaking to his new financial director. He caught the sound of his wife’s laughter he looked up.
Seeing her across the room, the conversation stopped between himself and the new man on board. Smiling, he simply watched her. She was unreserved in the moment, completely at ease. Khryssa looked up, feeling eyes upon her, only to see her husband. Beaming at him, fingers were drawn upwards to her full lips. She blew a kiss in his direction.
“Excuse me Michael. I need a moment with my wife.”
Michael Aaronson took a step back and nodded. Smiling to his employer, he went off in search of his own wife. Xavier walked quickly to Khryssa. Pressing up against her back, he wrapped arms around her. Hands rested upon her swollen belly, touching her lightly. He pressed a kiss to her cheek, and then smiled.
“Hello my wife.” Turning to the others, he smiled broadly. “Ladies, it is good to see you here tonight.”
The women that Khryssa had been talking to murmured their hellos to their employer. It was often easy to forget that Khryssa was married to the owner of the company. With her friendliness and casual attitude over most things, she was just like everyone else in some sense. On the other hand, it was impossible to forget who Xavier Harcard was.
Xavier rocked her in his arms. Swaying to the music that played, he whispered in Khryssa’s ear.
“Dance with me my love?”
“Of course, I would be honored to.”
“Ladies if you will excuse us, Khryssa owes me a dance.”
The women smiled at the couple who was so obviously in love. They said their goodbyes and watched their employer sweep their boss off to the dance floor.
Xavier pulled Khryssa close. The swell of her pregnant belly brushing against him, he put his arm around her and reached for Khryssa’s hand.
“I think the baby is coming between us Handsome.” Khryssa smiled at her husband and kissed him lightly.
“You know, we have yet to figure out a name for my son.”
He turned her on the dance floor, and the laughter started. “Your son? I believe that I may have had something to do with this as well Xavier.”
“Maybe just a little bit.”
He brushed a kiss to her lips, speaking quietly. “I love you, oh how I love you Khryssa Harcard. I would swear on my life that the sun and stars were made to celebrate your beauty.”
She blushed beautifully. “Thank you.” The song ended and Khryssa started to leave the floor. Xavier pulled her back as ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’ started to play. The gentleman singing it was incredible. Khryssa sang softly with the gentleman on stage. The words whispered across Xavier’s skin. The vampire actually shivered with delight.
When the song ended a spotlight appeared over Xavier and Khryssa. The man that had been singing spoke into the microphone. “Ladies and Gentlemen, may I give you Mr. and Mrs. Harcard!”
The Harcards smiled and dipped their heads in unison. The gentleman on the microphone began speaking once more. “I was told that Mrs. Harcard has an incredible voice. I would like to extend an invitation to her to come sing with me. Mrs. Harcard?”
Applause started and Khryssa shot Xavier a look. He shook his head, this was not his doing. With a bit of urging from friends, family and her husband, Khryssa climbed up on the stage. Her hand slid over the mic, to muffle anything she had to say. The band and the singer nodded. They knew the song, quite well. Getting into place, the band started to play. Khryssa’s voice threaded through the waiting crowd with beauty. Her voice had just enough of the smokey quality to touch the skin of those who were lucky enough to witness.
And I'd give up forever to touch you
'Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't wanna go home right now
And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
When sooner or later it's over
I just don't wanna miss you tonight
And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am
And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
Yeah, you bleed just to know you're alive
And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am
The applause rang out loud then louder. Xavier ran up to the stage, sweeping her off and into his arms. The man took the mic again. “Thank you Dr. Khryssa Harcard, that was beautiful! For those wondering, the song was ‘Iris’ by the Goo Goo Dolls.” He put the microphone back onto the stand and the band started to play once again. Khryssa and Xavier started to laugh.
“Did you plan this?” He asked her. The song was very special to him.
“Not at all. I had no idea that was going to happen.”
Members of the staff came up to the pair, clapping Xavier on the back and giving Khryssa a hug or a kiss on the cheek. The hour was growing very late and the crowd started to thin out some. Xavier and Khryssa decided to head home. In the ride back they spoke about their soon to be born son.
“We need to figure out a name.”
“Mhm, I know.”
“Any ideas my wife?”
“No, none at all to be honest Xavier.”
He curled her closer to him, kissing the crown of Khryssa’s head. Holding his wife snugly in his arms, Xavier’s thoughts began to drift. Remembering his childhood and the imprisonment by the Turks as a young lad, he lost his mother and his father while having to serve the Ottoman Empire. He knew that things were not the same as they were centuries ago. The thoughts did make him wonder about what fate had in store for his unborn child. Long fingers brushed along his wife’s belly. He stroked the swell gently.
“Penny for your thoughts Xavier?”
“I am just marveling at what the future has in store for us my Khryssa.”
“It will be a lifetime of wonder and delight. Have no fear.” She leaned to kiss him when the car came to a halt at their home.