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The Hunter in the Family

Chapter Text

November 1

“Why can’t I tell them again?” Sunny followed Marianne from the kitchen to the living room. “You saw them! Atlanteans! My people!” Sunny had been asking this question repeatedly all morning, and Marianne was annoyed.


“Bog thinks we are all human, Sunny. We need him to continue thinking that.” Marianne sighed, taking a seat on one of the comfy couches.


“But that’s a lie! How long are you going to keep that lie.” Sunny persisted.


“Forever.” Marianne sighed. “What will he think of me if he knows?”


“You do realize he’s going to have questions when you’re still alive in a hundred years.” Sunny began poking holes in Marianne’s plan. “Or if you have kids and they do not turn into little wolves! They shoot fire out of their hands or begin parting the water in the bathtub.”


Marianne stared at Sunny sadly. “I can’t tell him. You should have seen his face when I showed him those awful photos. He threw up, Sunny. He was that disturbed.”


“But, you don’t hunt!” Sunny folded his arms and plopped down onto the couch next to Marianne. “You’ve never been on a hunt, and neither has Dawn! You’re just Arcadians!”


“Just Arcadians.” Marianne hissed. “People who destroyed Lycea and killed their Mother. That was a sin in itself. Destroying a creature that spawns whole species of familiarsis feralis.”


“You didn’t do that. Other people did.” Sunny pointed out. “Marianne. I’ve never known my own people. I was six when I got separated from my family. I don’t even know how to BE one of them.” Sunny’s eyes grew wide. He gasped. “What if my family is somewhere here in this town?!”


Marianne looked at Sunny. “Arcadians sunk Atlantis, Sunny. We robbed you and all your people of your city. Arcadians killed Atlanteans almost as indiscriminately as Lyceans and Vampires.”


“But, you didn’t.” Sunny frowned, then leaned forward to hug his sister-in-law. “I love you, Marianne, but your need to keep secrets from people you love is going to get us all into trouble.”


“I am terrified of what Bog will think.” Marianne hugged Sunny back. “I don’t want to lie to him. I love him so much. It hurts to even think about him finding out and what he will think about Dawn and me.” She paused in thought and sighed. “If he asks, I will tell him, but only then.”


“Marianne.” Sunny sat back beside her. “There’s one more thing you need to think about. Bog thinks you’re a human. He was most likely not going to tell you he was a Lycean until he was forced to. He was probably afraid of what you would think of him in the exact same way you’re afraid to tell him. I think he would understand if you told him. He loves you.”


“I can’t,” Marianne stated quietly. She was ashamed of what her kind had done. Marianne felt it was nowhere near the same. Arcadians had gone on a genocidal rampage against Lyceans and Atlanteans. They had almost succeeded in wiping them out. But then they found a use for the Atlanteans. Their presence boosted their allies’ abilities. They were forced to serve Arcadis in exchange for their lives.


As Arcadians, Marianne and Dawn were a great danger to a town full of Lyceans and Atlanteans. Peaceful Lyceans and Atlanteans with children who only wanted to be left alone. Marianne wanted to stay among them, and to do that, she could not let them know what she was.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Bog was on his hands and knees with a rag attempting to get blood out of the carpet in the living room of their house. “MA! Ye couldn’t have just killed the guy and left him on the porch?! What did ye do?! Fling him around like a cat toy in here?!” Bog sat up and sighed. The living room was covered in blood splatter that was on the walls, the ceiling and soaked into the carpet. He had cleaned up a good amount of it overnight, but there was still much more to clean up.


“I didn’t mean to kill him.” Bog’s mother stepped into the doorway. “The rest of them are alive, at least.”


“Uhm.” Bog paused for a moment in thought. “Mother. Where is the body?”


“Don’t you worry about that.” She replied with a grin.


“Mother.” Bog turned to look at her, giving her a questioning look. “Ye didn’t?”


“So when are you setting the wedding date, Bogdan?”


“Mother.” Bog made an annoyed face at her as she changed the subject.


“You know you can pull together a wedding in weeks, Son. Get started on enjoying life as a married man.” Her eyes twinkled as she sighed blissfully. “Or you can bring her over now and let her move in with you.”


“How is it that ye are my mother, and I am more traditional than ye are?” Bog stared at her. “I am not playing house. I want everything in order. Without order, there is chaos, and I will not have my house in chaos. There is an order, and it will be followed.”


“In my day, we didn’t bother with marriages and papers. We made off into the woods and were happy and squitching.” Zelda chuckled at the thought. “And we had kids. Lots of them.”


Bog groaned. He didn’t want to ask what squitching was but had a good idea. “I think I’m going to call someone in to finish this and replace the carpets. Now, please tell me I can call someone to remove a body discreetly.”


Zelda burped and walked out of the room.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

A clean-shaven Bog, without a scratch on him, showed up on the Summer’s doorstep. He came with a sheet pan in hand, holding three large homemade cinnamon rolls. They were saturated with a sweet cream glaze and chopped pecans. Dawn was ecstatic at the sight of them and immediately stuck a finger in one to taste the icing.


“Dawn, don’t you dare stick your fingers in all them.” Marianne grinned at her sister. “One of those is mine.” Bog smiled, handing the pan off to Dawn, who giggled and winked at her sister. She left to put them on the table, and find Sunny.


Bog was left with Marianne in the dining room. He stood awkwardly in front of her while she smiled at him. “Ye don’t want to come over to my house for a while. Going to have workmen in cleaning up the damage.” He didn’t want to go into detail on what that damage was for obvious reasons.


Marianne stepped forward and walked into Bog’s arms with a happy sigh, and a smile fixed on her face. Bog leaned over her, squeezing her tightly and kissing the top of her head. He sighed wearily and rested his cheek on Marianne’s head, holding the embrace for a few quiet minutes. “I am taking today off. I am too tired to get anything to done, and I imagine yer the same?”


“Oh, I slept like the dead last night.” Marianne kneaded her fingers into Bog’s back. “But if you want to go sneak off into your hammock for the day, I would like that. I’m caught up with my work enough to take a break. I even got paid.”


“Good.” Bog ran his hands through her hair. “I took care of your debt.”


Marianne blinked at Bog. How had he done that? “Bogdan.”


“Marianne, there are a lot of things I need to tell you about me and this town, but not today. It was taken care of by what we refer to as The Network. It’s a system that takes care of our movements and keeping us safe from Hunters.” Bog began explaining. “As part of wiping Roland’s mind, the name on the court record was changed, and I had money transferred, so it was paid in full. He won’t think to research it beyond what’s available to him.”


“You can do things like that?” Marianne was aghast. “I don’t want to owe you, Bog!”


“Yer going to be my wife, Love.” Bog kissed her forehead. “What is mine is yers. Ye need to start thinking of us as one and not two separate people.”


Marianne groaned. “You’re going to have to go with me when I tell my dad we’re getting married. What are we going to tell him?”


“We’ll discuss that on another day, now, why don’t ye go into the kitchen and get that cinnamon roll before Dawn eats them all.” Bog smiled and began walking to the kitchen. “I also need to make you an engagement ring.”


“Make me a ring?” Marianne looked at him in wonder. He was full of surprises.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Bog and Marianne sat on Marianne’s porch to watch various groups of people coming in to salvage the wood in Bog’s yard. “This was a good year.” Bog smiled.


“Your yard was set on fire. Hunters rampaged through your streets and tried to kill you. It’s a good year?” Marianne leaned against Bog.


“I have ye.” Bog turned and gazed at her with a big stupid grin on his face. “That is all that matters to me right now.”


Marianne gave him her own stupid grin. “So, what big thing do you have planned for Thanksgiving?”


“Taking it easy this year. Simple ordinary turkeys and cornucopias.” Bog licked his lips when he said turkeys. “Let’s go get some sleep. I’m exhausted, and I want to be with ye today.”


Marianne nodded as Bog rose to his feet and offered her his hand. She took it, and the pair of them headed to Bog’s side gate into his backyard and the hammock that was waiting for them. Marianne attempted to push the feelings of guilt down. She did not feel deserving of Bog’s love for her.


Worry was gnawing away inside about what he might do if he figured out she was an Arcadian.


If she told him, she wasn’t sure he would react any better than if he figured it out on his own. For now, Marianne chose to justify her choice with the mental note that she WOULD tell him if he asked her, but he had to ask.

Chapter Text

November 2

Bog sat in the Summer’s den in one of the two armchairs positioned in front of the couch. Marianne sat across from him. Sunny was sitting on the further cushion with Dawn sitting on his lap, playing with his hair and humming. Marianne watched her sister’s strange antics. She had been acting off for most of the week. Dawn had bizarre mood swings entirely out of the blue. She went from being her usual bubbly self to unusually sad then back again in minutes.

“I don’t know how much ye know about Lyceans and Atlanteans and Arcadians, but this town is a refuge from Arcadians. We live here at peace with our neighbors and away from human eyes to avoid catching Hunter attention.” Bog began. “My great grandfather founded this town with my mother. They came to America in the 1600s. My family fought in the revolutionary war. They were real patriots. They’ve always been the kind of people that don’t like being told what to do. When they came here, Lyceans and Atlanteans followed them.”

Bog ran a hand uncomfortably along the back of his neck. “Rex Regis attract them. It’s not an intentional thing, they come here and find my mom and me. Over hundreds of years, ye accumulate a lot of people. These people are my people to protect and watch over. I am their king.” Bog blushed in embarrassment as he said it. He could take charge, but he never felt like he deserved the adoration of his people. They tended to drive him crazy with their attention and love.

“So ye will be my Queen.” Bog gestured to Marianne. She looked at him nervously. All the little things she had noticed slot into place and drop responsibilities in her lap. “Uhm, they already think of ye as Queen, so do not be surprised if they address ye as such at first. Do ye have any questions?”

“If you control who lives here, how did I end up your neighbor?” Marianne ventured curiously.

“One human family is allowed to live in our town to keep everyone on their toes, and I choose good people to live here.” Bog explained. “Sunny and Dawn will fulfill that role when we are married.”

Dawn grinned happily at Bog. Sunny spoke up, “But we won’t be able to afford it.” Dawn frowned and looked at Bog in concern.

“Don’t worry about it.” Bog waved his hands at them dismissively. “Lyceans take care of their families. I’m in a position to do whatever I please. Marianne’s mortgage is handled by my bank.”

“Your bank?” Marianne blinked at him.

“I own all the land the town sits on and many businesses, Marianne.” Bog’s face turned redder. These things were embarrassing to talk about. He never spoke about what he took care of because he felt like bragging. Marianne stared at him incredulously. “I have trusted people who take care of most of my holdings. There are a few eximius Lyceans who hold adjacent land and businesses.”

“We, we get a house?” Sunny gaped.

“Yes. This house, unless Marianne has other plans.” Bog looked at her. She was still looking at him with shock written across her face. “Marianne?”

“Oh, yes.” She nodded. “I would love to do that for them.” Marianne turned and grinned at Sunny and Dawn. Dawn made a happy giggling noise and hugged her husband.

“Any questions?” Bog asked again, looking at Sunny and Dawn.

“When are you getting married?!” Sunny and Dawn asked at the same time with huge smiles on their faces.

“That will be determined soon, I’m sure.” Bog smiled at Marianne. They had not discussed this. Bog had a feeling once the Summers figured out that Dawn was pregnant, things would begin moving.

“Ye two can go now. I need to talk to Marianne privately.” Bog motioned to the door. Dawn bounced up and ran to Bog, throwing her arms around him and hugging him tightly. “Thank you so much, Boggy!” There were tears in her eyes as she pulled back to look at Bog, then giddily kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you.”

“Hey, hey, he’s mine.” Marianne grinned, poking her sister on the shoulder. “You already have a wonderful husband.”

Dawn giggled, bouncing back and then into her husband’s arms. The pair of them left talking happily about their future. Marianne smiled at Bog and sat on his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the mouth.

“So, my king, we’re going to have to discuss telling my dad about us.” Marianne pulled back with a sigh. “He’s not going to be happy that I’m marrying someone I haven’t known for very long.”

“I guess I’m going to have to put on a show then, My Queen?” Bog smiled and lifted a hand to her cheek. “I can do that. I assume he wants to see a lot of flashiness and everything I hate doing?”

“Obviously not everything you told me, but if he knows you’re financially stable, that will get you a lot of points. Being a good man will do everything else.” Marianne smiled. How Bog presented himself would be significant. Marianne had to do something far more critical. She had to keep her father from protesting her marriage to someone he assumed was human. He had caved to Dawn marrying an Atlantean because of Marianne’s arguments. Their father wanted his daughters to be happy among all else. But he had hoped one of them would marry an Arcadian and strengthen the bloodline.

Strengthening their already strong bloodline was ridiculous in Marianne’s eyes. At some point, years down the road, she would have to tell him what Bog was. That wouldn’t be anytime soon, and by then, there would hopefully be grandchildren in the mix. Her father was a kind, softhearted man. He would understand, given time. He would have to give in when he saw how much they loved each other.

“There’s something else I need to tell ye about Lyceans, Marianne.” Bog brushed a stray hair out of her eyes and smiled, that same blush that never seemed to leave his face rising up again. “Ye remember that stupid werewolf movie we watched? When ye commented about the psychic connection?”

“Oh please, do not tell me that.” Marianne made a face at Bog.

“Not quite like that. Two things involve family ye need to know. One, we’re meant to find our matches early in life. We are drawn to specific people, and once we have found each other, that bond can not be broken. Ever. We are infinitely loyal.” Bog whispered.

“I like that.” Marianne grinned in response.

“Because ye are a human, I did not pursue it.” Bog mumbled, looking sad. “I thought only that bond would overcome how I look and act. Maybe it’s even more special that ye chose me without it.”

“What are you talking about?! There’s nothing wrong with the way you look.” Marianne kissed him again, this time with considerably more passion. She ran her hands slowly through his thick wavy hair. She couldn’t help but feel he needed to be reminded that he was loved, and she wanted him.

“Ye are incredible, Marianne.” Bog chuckled, trying not to get too worked up as he still had more to say. “The other thing. The longer we are together, I will know if ye are in any danger. The same goes for Sunny and Dawn. We are all aware when family is in danger. My close friends and all the Lycean townspeople will come to ye if ye are in danger even without ye being a Lycean. They will protect their Queen.”

Marianne stared at Bog. “I never knew that about Lyceans. I didn’t know much, but all this is amazing.” She laid her head on Bog’s shoulder. “Is that all?”

“One more thing, my mom’s trying to get us married as fast as possible. Choose the date ye want, and don’t let her harass ye into two weeks from now.” Bog stated. “I am not giving her the satisfaction of possible kids anytime soon with her harping on me to get it done. That means I would prefer not going beyond what we’re doing right now. I am not ready for any of that. I’m getting used to having someone I can have and hold and kiss.” With that, he wrapped his arms around Marianne and hugged her tightly. “My mom’s trying to feed ye natural aphrodisiacs, by the way.”

“Wow, she’s really serious.” Marianne grimaced.

“Now, we’re going out into the backyard so I can make ye a proper engagement ring.” Bog grinned, indicating he was getting up.

“Make me an engagement ring?” Marianne slid off his lap and stared up at him. “How do you do that.”

“I’ll show ye.” He took her hand and led her outside.

=-=-=-=-=-=

Bog picked up a few pebbles and a handful of grass from Marianne’s backyard. Then he removed a handful of grass from his pocket. Marianne was sitting on the deck steps, watching curiously. She wasn’t sure what to expect. Bog sat down next to her and laid the handful of grass on his knee.

“How much do ye know about alchemy, Marianne?” He rolled the stone in his hand.

“I know it’s spoken equations kinda like magic.” Marianne smiled, wishing she could tell Bog everything she knew, which was a lot.

“To put it simply, yes.” Bog began speaking and manipulating the stone. “I wouldn’t call it magic. It’s a science, a spoken formula. What ye get out of it depends on yer genetics and emotion. The same equation spoken by me would have a different result if spoken by an Atlantean.” Chips of the stone fell away, revealing a golden orange jewel with perfect facets. A soft golden glow emanated from inside. “Lyceans, Atlanteans, and Arcadians can all create things like this. Atlanteans have the strongest creation ability, then Lyceans. Arcadians aren’t that great at it, because they are combat-oriented. Creation is the opposite of destruction. Arcadians are awful.” Bog growled. Marianne winced inside.

Bog began working on the second stone, a smaller one than the first. “Humans can do limited alchemy, so I can try to teach ye if yer interested. Would ye like to learn?”

“Yes.” Marianne smiled. Her stomach was churning at Bog’s words about Arcadians.

“I’m doing a warm-up before I get to the ring.” Bog grinned at Marianne. Bog put the finished stones into her hands. The gems were warm to the touch.

Marianne watched in fascination as Bog began working with the grass. He skillfully weaved it together and spoke his equation. The blades glowed with a golden light as they were manipulated. Soon he had formed an ornate coppery gold bracelet. He set it aside and began on the actual ring. It was amazing to watch his long fingers weaving and creating the ring.

“Let me see your ring finger so I can get it right.” Bog held out his hand, and Marianne placed her left hand on it. Bog slid the unfinished ring over her ring finger. It was too big. He began speaking, adjusting the ring to a perfect fit. He slipped the band up and down her finger to make sure it would fit, then took the stones from her.

Bog worked on the bracelet first, setting the larger stone in it. Then he worked on the ring. Bog divided the ring in half so that he now had two bands. He adjusted one of them and put it on his own ring finger to check for fit, then handed it to Marianne. She turned it over in her hand, examining the fine details he had created with the blades of grass. It was rustic and wild in its design.

Bog divided Marianne’s ring into three parts, then he put them back together to add the gem. He wound more grass around it to set it in place, then pulled the middle band out of the ring. It would slot into the wedding ring to complete it when they were officially married.

Then he turned and knelt on one knee in front of Marianne, holding out the ring he had created. She blinked at him, realizing what he was doing immediately. A huge goofy grin spread over her face.

“Marianne Summers, before ye, my life was a night that lacked the stars and a moon. My days lacked the warmth and light of the sun. I was a Fall without color and the Spring without rain. I can not imagine my life without ye. I love ye and want to spend my life pleasing ye and bringing that wonderful smile to yer face.” Bog smiled with a light blush over his cheeks, his bright blue eyes fixed on Marianne. “Will you do me the honor of being my wife? My Queen? My Love?”

Marianne laughed and ran the back of her hand across her eyes. She smiled at Bog for a moment, then got up, and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. “Yes.” Marianne laughed and leaned against him in a firm embrace. She was having a difficult time holding back her emotions. She was so incredibly happy. This was how it was supposed to be. She dropped to both knees in front of him and held out her hand.

“These stones hold healing energy.” Bog slipped the band over Marianne’s finger and then held out his left hand to her. Marianne had almost forgotten she was holding the other band. She opened her right hand and was glad to find she hadn’t dropped it. She slid it over Bog’s ring finger, and they both held them up together to see them side by side. “Would ye prefer diamonds? I should have asked.” Bog scowled.

“No. I don’t care about diamonds. I care that it came from you, and this is better than any dumb diamond.” Marianne grinned, running her fingers over the engagement band.

Bog got up and retrieved the bracelet to hand it to Marianne. He pocketed the wedding ring to put away in a safe place until it was needed. “I am going to teach ye the words to activate it. It is full of my energy. It doesn’t need anything out of ye other than knowing the right words and placing yer hand over it when ye say them.”

Marianne slid the bracelet over her left wrist. She held her arm in front of her and admired it along with her matching engagement band. They were beautiful but not flashy. They were nice and from the heart. Bog held her hand and began telling her the words.

Somehow, the presence of the actual engagement ring made everything more real. It signified what would be, and Marianne felt a joy that she had never felt before. She had thought it was impossible to feel more love for Bog than she already had, but she was wrong. It only seemed to grow with more intensity.

=-=-=-=-=-=

Marianne turned her chair so she could see Bog in his studio. He smiled at her and waved encouragingly. Marianne picked up her phone and selected her father’s contact entry, keeping her eyes on Bog. They had discussed what they would do. Bog had told Marianne to choose any restaurant she wanted to invite her father to. It would be her father, Bog, and Marianne having dinner.

“Here goes.” Marianne took a long look at her engagement ring and the matching bracelet on her wrist, then she dialed.

“Good evening, Marianne!” In two rings, she heard her father’s voice. He sounded excited to hear from her.

“Good evening, Dad.” Marianne smiled. “How are you?” They spent several minutes with friendly chit chat. Marianne felt sad that she hadn’t spoken to him for so long. He had been so worried when he had come to visit in October. Then Marianne had to get to the point of the call. “Dad, I’ve been dating someone, and I like him. He wants to take us to dinner Wednesday night at Prime. 7PM if you’re available.” That was Lucas’ favorite Brazilian steakhouse, and it wasn’t cheap either. They served expensive aged meats along with the regular fare.

“That’s wonderful, Marianne!” He sounded so happy.

“You’ve already met him.” Marianne smiled. He was not going to like this at all, and she had to choose her words with care. She did not want to lie to her father, but for Bog’s sake, she would.

“I have? Who is the lucky man?”

“It’s my neighbor, Bogdan Laird.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone, and she could hear her father struggling to find words. “But he’s a human.” He finally said with disappointment. “Marianne, you can’t get involved with a human. They live such short lives. It would be cruel for you, and I know how you are about relationships to begin with. Why would you do this?”

“I love him, Dad.” The words came without effort. “I love him, and he loves me. Does anything else matter?”

“Marianne.” Her father’s voice was full of sadness. “Do you intend to have children with him? Isn’t he going to have a problem when his kids start displaying abilities? You know how it works. Humans add nothing to the bloodline, and they will all inherit your abilities.”

“If that is what he wants, yes, I will.” Marianne scowled. She hadn’t actually had a conversation about children with Bog. She knew that’s what he wanted, and she was far more willing to give it to him than she had been when Roland brought them up. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

“You will have to tell him what you are, Marianne.”

“I know, and I will when I have to.” Marianne ran a hand through her hair. She did not like having to think about telling Bog anymore than she wanted to reveal to her father what Bog was. “I love him.”

“Do you?”

“I do.” There was silence again. “Dad, this is my life. You were the one who put Roland in my life. That didn’t turn out well, did it?”

“About Roland,” Marianne felt her pulse race as her father changed subjects. “He was picked up yesterday along with five other Hunters. Marianne, the last five years of their memories had been wiped.” Lucas paused. “Marianne, do you know how that happened?”

“I do, and I don’t want to talk about it, Dad. This is for the best.” Marianne couldn’t deny this. “Do not ask me about it.”

“Wiping memories is forbidden alchemy, Marianne.” Her father spoke with a severe tone. “Only Enforcers are allowed to do it and then only after a trial. What are you not telling me, Marianne?”

“Dad. Roland was after me. Nobody was going to do anything about it. He was going to hurt me.” Marianne took a deep breath. “He was going to rape me, Dad. What was done had to be done so he would stop coming for me. Dad, please, don’t pursue this. Let it be a mystery that keeps me safe.”

“Arawn is interrogating Roland today.” Her father sighed. “If anyone is going to figure out what happened to him, it will be him.”

“Uncle Arawn?” Marianne frowned, trying to dig up old memories of the man. He wasn’t really related to them, but he was a family friend and had been around a lot when she and Dawn were children. He had stepped in when their mother passed away to give their father time to mourn.

“Yes, Marianne.” Lucas sighed. “I love you. I miss you and your sister. I’ll have dinner with you and Bogdan on Wednesday, then we’ll talk again. I want what is best for you, and I do want you to be happy.” They spoke for a few more minutes, then Marianne hung up with conflicted feelings. She looked up at Bog, who was smiling at her. He was holding up a sheet of paper against the window with an ornate marker drawn heart on it in red. In the middle, it said: Love Ya Love! Marianne smiled and blew him a kiss. He was so sweet. She hoped her father wouldn’t dig too deep into his life. She had discussed that with Bog. He had been assured her that his records were as clean as hers were because they were originals. He was very young by Lycean standards. Marianne told him she was concerned because her father knew what to look for. He was wary about Lyceans due to his Arcadian contacts.

=-=-=-=-=-=

The moment Lucas ended the call, he began checking into Bogdan Laird. Marianne was a lousy liar. Dawn was an even worse one, and Lucas planned to call her later. He had a sneaky suspicion that Bogdan Laird was not human, and he was not Arcadian. He was definitely not Atlantean, because that would not have been something to be hidden. He was not a vampire because he had been walking around in sunlight without a problem. This left two possibilities. Bogdan Laird was a Lycean or a human.

“Marianne, Marianne.” Lucas groaned, running a hand over his face. He was going to have a serious talk with her about whether Bogdan was a human or Lycean. But first, Lucas would see what kind of a man Bogdan portrayed himself as. When they first met, Bogdan had come off as angry with a smoldering fire in his eyes like he was personally mad at Lucas. Yet, he had been polite and concerned about Marianne. That’s all Lucas could recall. He had been far more concerned about his daughter than the neighbor.

It was his house she had fallen asleep in, and as far as Lucas knew, Bogdan had been a gentleman about it. He had not taken advantage of his daughter. He had been helpful and seemed like an honest man. Bogdan was older than Marianne. Age wasn’t a particular concern but, Lucas did wonder if there was something wrong with him.

=-=-=-=-=-=

Ripples bounced against a boundary in Roland’s mind. It happened every time he looked at the investigator. They had spent hours trying to work out what had happened to Roland’s memory. They went around in a circle where Roland was continually triggered by this man he had never met before.

Arawn scowled, the lines on his face deepening in annoyance. He did not like this arrogant young hunter. He thought that whatever he had gotten himself into, he clearly deserved. A hunter that had been mind-wiped was a rare occurrence. There were only five Arcadians who could do such a thorough job, and Arawn was one of them.

The Enforcer had spent the last few hours scanning Roland and checking for any clues to who had done it. So far, he had picked up an exciting clue that was personal. He kept that one to himself. The continual disturbance Arawn had on Roland was curious. It made scanning him difficult. He could not find even the tiniest trace of a social memory from the last several months. Every personal connection in Roland’s life had been cleared back as far as five years. The memories weren’t actually gone but hidden somewhere deep in Roland’s mind.

Whoever had done this had done a fantastic job at it. Arawn was impressed. He looked into Roland’s eyes, a hand out on his shoulder as he spoke. “What are ye feeling right now?”

“Angry?” Roland stared into Arawn’s intense blue eyes. He was unable to figure out why he felt such anger and loathing toward him. Something was familiar about him. His features were sharply angled, framing brilliant blue eyes. Those eyes seemed to see right into Roland’s soul. “I don’t know. Jealous? It’s weird. I don’t understand why. I’ve never met you, have I?”

“Never,” Arawn grunted, settling back in his chair and steepling his fingers in thought. He crossed his long legs and stared at Roland. “Arcadis keeps me here. Ye know how it is with top-level Enforcers with the ability ta wipe minds.”

“Can you help me?” Roland looked desperate. “I want to know what happened.”

“I’m sure ye can piece together something about yer missing past, but that’s not my job. My job is ta figure out who did this ta ye.” A thin smile spread across Arawn’s face. “I get ta go hunting.”

“Can I assist?” Roland sat upright and offered immediately.

“I hunt alone.” Arawn snorted at the thought. He despised young hunters. Especially the kind like Roland. “I advise ye ta not go looking inta yer past. Ye might blunder inta losing yer entire mind. Go back to hunting and leave me ta my business. If I find something, ye’ll be tha first ta know.”

“Can I get a copy of the GPS locations my vehicles were at?” Roland inquired.

“No. Yer vehicles GPS were wiped.” That was true. Roland’s GPS had been wiped. But Arawn had a copy that had been uploaded from the vehicles to their servers. The vans and the men Roland had taken with him had not been out on an official hunt. However, their trackers were always on and transmitting locations. Arawn figured he was doing Roland a favor by not giving him any information. It could get him into an even worse situation than he had been in.

“Ye are free ta leave now. I’ve done all I can.” Arawn motioned to the door.

“Yes, Sir.” Roland got up, bowed to Arawn, and left the room.

Arawn picked up Roland’s folder thoughtfully. That tiny bit of exciting energy he had found? It had touched a memory he could not reach. He knew what it meant. Whatever stirred that repressed memory had the power to undo it. Arawn would backtrack Roland’s GPS route and find that person. He would find the woman who was responsible for his wiped memories.

Arawn was missing seven years of his life. That was 35 years ago, and while he had been disturbed about it when it had happened, he had found no clues. 5 years ago, the memory wipe had begun to weaken. He hadn’t given it much thought up till that point. He was busy with his work for Arcadis. Then one night, the dreams began.

There was this beautiful woman in his dreams, a tiny petite lass with a mass of red hair and brown eyes. At first, he could barely remember the dreams when he woke up, but he could feel the emotions that went with them. He could not remember ever having had what he awakened to. It immediately brought on a sense of loss and an ache for something missing.

He had loved someone, and something had happened to them. Arawn stared at the locations. He had a notebook he wrote whatever snippets of information he could glean from the dreams. He made it up as a list on multiple pages, so anyone who found it wouldn’t suspect it was a lost memory. Arawn was attempting to piece it together in private. He didn’t trust anyone and was paranoid; someone might find it.

So far, he knew that this woman was a Lycean. A Rex Regis. A true queen. He knew without a doubt that he had loved this woman since a good majority of the dreams were of them being intimate. He could not remember ever having done it, but it was in his dreams.

There was also a boy. He had a son somewhere, a skinny boy who should be a man now with the same blue eyes. Arawn dreamed of playing with the boy and teaching him things. He had brief moments in his dreams of seeing his son could also shift. Young Lyceans had problems with control when they began growing into their abilities at 5 or 6 years of age. He knew this, and yet he knew he shouldn’t know it. It was important for some reason. It wasn’t part of any Arcadian record. Arawn couldn’t figure out of they knew he knew they were Lyceans or even if he had told them he was an Arcadian.

Arawn did know that he had a wife and a son. He had a gold wedding band hanging from a chain around his neck. When he had awakened in the middle of a group of unconscious hunters, the first thing he had done was look at his hands. He saw the strip of white skin where a ring had been on his left hand. The ring was in his pocket. Before he had been wiped, he had taken the ring off and put it there to hide it. It was some sort of sign, but he was confused about why his memories had been wiped.

He had gone over various scenarios over the years. His Lycean family had been discovered? Maybe he had revealed who he was to his wife, and she had wiped his memories? She had grown tired of him or found out that he was a Hunter and cast him aside? That one was painful. Yet, every dream was happy. There were no bad dreams. That was why Arawn was desperately seeking a way to find his way home to his wife and son. He had to know what had happened. More importantly, he needed them. He was a lonely man with nothing but work in his life. If he had a family out there, he had to find them. They might even be looking for him.

=-=-=-=-=-=

Roland was on the phone the moment he stepped out of the building. “Coy, my interrogator is Arawn, and he refused to give me a copy of the GPS records. He said he’s going to investigate them himself. I need you and your brothers to follow him and put a bug on whatever vehicle he takes. We are going to figure out what happened to us.” Roland hung up and glanced back at the building.

Arawn could try to keep him out of the investigation all he wanted. Roland was going to do his own research by letting Arawn do all the work. If he followed him, at some point, he would run into a person that would lift the memory loss by speaking to them.

Chapter Text

 

 

November 4

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Bog grinned as he ran up the steps to Marianne’s house. He had come up with something fun to suggest to Marianne and was excited about sharing it with her. He knocked, and after a moment, Dawn answered the door. She was in tears and sniffling. Her face was red and blotchy.

 

“Oh, hello, Bog.” Dawn stepped aside. “Marianne is in her studio.”

 

“What’s wrong, Dawn?” Bog stepped through the door and gave her his full attention. He reached out and ran a hand through her short red-blond hair in a playful manner. It was a mess even before he did it. “Where’s Sunny?”

 

“He’s meeting with investors to see about launching a new game idea he had.” Dawn sniffled again. “I’m just , I don’t know.”

 

“Why don’t ye come upstairs with me to talk to Marianne?” Bog placed a hand on her shoulder.

 

“I don’t want to bother Marianne. She’s really snappy with me lately.” Dawn looked down at the floor, stepping away from Bog.

 

“What is wrong?” Bog leaned down to be at Dawn’s level, his hand still on her shoulder. He mumbled his equation to check on her. She was fine, just still pregnant. Bog wished there was some way he could help her out, but this wasn’t something he could do anything about. Her hormones were out of alignment, and it was best not to meddle with them.

 

“I haven’t been able to find a job.” Dawn finally whispered.

 

“Is that all?” Bog grinned, patting her on the shoulder. “I can fix that problem. Go make a copy of your resume, and I will give it to the appropriate people.”

 

Really ?” Dawn looked up hopefully . “I’ve been trying hard to find something, and nobody calls me back.”

 

“Dawn, I will find something right for ye.” Bog smiled warmly at her and gave her a quick hug, then wiped her tears away to find a more cheerful Dawn underneath. She hugged him fiercely then bounced off singing a happy little tune. Bog loved his future sister-in-law. She brought about the need to protect her in the same way Marianne did, which was normal. Dawn was family, and Bog liked the feeling that she was the little sister he had never had. He would find her something suitable.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Marianne jumped out of her chair and sent it spinning off into a cabinet when Bog walked into her studio. She ran up to him and threw her arms around him. It was becoming her standard greeting for Bog. She was so happy to see him when he walked into a room. Bog responded, in the same way, each time. He made a pleasant rumbling mmmm sound and wrapped himself around Marianne. Bog surrounded her with comforting warmth and his pleasant smell.

 

“Ye remember yer threat to cook me under a table?” Bog kissed the top of Marianne’s head.

 

“Yeah, and I’m going to do it!” Marianne pulled back to give Bog a grin that was surprisingly scary in its intensity. Bog loved that look. It was exciting.

 

“I thought we would make it a community event. We can use the school kitchen and cook a Thanksgiving dinner for those who don’t have families or aren’t as well off.” Bog let Marianne go and pulled up the chair he usually sat in. “If ye can really cook.” He added with slightly narrowed eyes and a thin smile.

 

“I can cook!” Marianne shot back fiercely , sitting on the edge of her desk so that she was next to Bog.

 

“I haven’t seen any evidence of it.” Bog smirked, leaning back in his chair.

 

“I can!” Marianne stuck her lower lip out. “It’s Sunny and Dawn’s job right now. I don’t want to take it away from them.”

 

“Would ye like to come over for dinner on Friday night? We should have a regular date night like that. What is your favorite meal?” Bog’s eyes twinkled, considering more playful teasing. He loved the variety of expressions he could get out of Marianne with a few well-placed words.

 

“I’m not picky, Bog. I like just about everything, but since we’re going to have a lot of steak on Wednesday, probably not steak.” Marianne grinned. She liked the thought of Bog cooking for her. She knew he was a great cook and would probably turn out something fantastic. “And I’ll cook for you on Saturday night at my house? What do you like to eat?”

 

“Meat.” Bog bared his teeth at Marianne, momentarily forgetting his self-consciousness. “I like meat.”

 

“Okay. Meat.” Marianne nodded with a smirk. “Right off the cow, or would you like it gently warmed in the sunlight?”

 

“Sounds great.” Bog reached out to take Marianne’s hand and pull himself closer to her.

 

“Bog. I have a little question about why I pay for things, and my bank account isn’t being debited anymore.” Marianne looked at him curiously .

 

“I told them they are not to charge ye for anything.” Bog shrugged. “I don’t technically pay for anything myself except tips, so I tip generously . Things do not work here quite the same as they do in other towns. I am their King. I gave up trying to pay for things long ago, and ye will get the same treatment.” Bog lowered his head for a moment, frowning. “I didn’t want ye paying THAT day when I was such an awful date.”

 

“But I wanted to take you out.” Marianne’s eyes drifted to the painting Bog had given her sitting over the windows.

 

“It’s not necessary, Marianne.” Bog shook his head and scowled.

 

“I don’t want you paying for everything.” Marianne’s eyes glimmered as a touch of anger began rising within her. “It’s not right. I should pay on occasion.”

 

Bog stared at her for a moment, still scowling. “That’s not how it works, Marianne.”

 

“I want to pay too. It doesn’t mean as much if you’re paying every time we do something, or it’s free.” Marianne slid off the desk and took a few steps away from Bog.

 

“It does not matter, Marianne.” Bog rose from the chair and unintentionally loomed over her lifting a hand to point a finger at her. “Ye do not have to worry about it.”

 

“It does!” Marianne stepped closer so that his finger was hitting her in the shoulder. She glared up into his face, inches away. “I want you to tell them to start taking money out of my account when I pay for things. I can’t treat you to anything if you’re the one paying for it.”

 

“That’s not how it works here,” Bog growled, not backing down. None of this mattered. Why couldn’t she see that none of this was important? The town accepted them as a married couple without any vows exchanged. That was how it was with Lyceans. They were at a point where they would not be separated by anything.

 

Except Marianne wasn’t a Lycean. Bog turned and left, stomping down the stairs and out the front door, leaving Marianne watching him go. He had to leave. He didn’t want to make it worse.

 

Marianne was stunned when Bog left. She remembered back to the last time she had lost her temper at him, and he had reacted in a completely different way. He was always quiet and shy. That was gone. He would stand up to her now that he knew where they stood with each other. Marianne sank into the chair Bog had been sitting in. The seat was warm, and she felt terrible about arguing with him and making him leave. Marianne couldn’t understand how wanting to give things to Bog from her own earnings was a bad thing. Why couldn’t he see that it wouldn’t be from her if she didn’t have to actually pay for it?

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Bog stopped on Marianne’s porch and sat on the steps to think. He slumped forward with his head in his hands, trying to work through a solution. He couldn’t understand Marianne’s point of view. The door to her house opened and closed. Bog could hear her stepping lightly on the porch.

 

“I’m sorry about that.” Marianne dropped to her knees behind him. She slid her hands over his shoulders and leaned her head next to his. “I just feel like I can’t show you I love you if I can’t buy you things too. I can’t buy you things if nobody takes my money.”

 

“I don’t need ye to show me ye love me like that,” Bog shrugged, leaning his head against hers. He lifted a hand to gently stroke Marianne’s arm. “Ye told me ye do. That is all I need.”

 

“You paid off my debt to Roland. I doubt anyone gave you a discount on that.”

 

“Because I love ye.” He paused in thought as he got what she was saying. “I’m not sure how to do what ye want. Ye have human notions about how relationships work, and I have Lycean ones. I’ve been trying to do what ye expect.”

 

“I’m not sure I understand.” Marianne stood up and moved to sit beside Bog.

 

“Humans date and get to know each other then decide if they want to get married, right? That’s why ye want to pay too and not have a man paying for everything?” Bog searched for the best way to explain it.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Lyceans do not need that. Dates are just for fun together. We already know we love each other.” Bog paused and hung his head as he was forced to say it, “Yer human. Ye doubt and want to prove things when ye don’t have to. I want to have fun with ye, not argue over who is paying for what when that means nothing to me.”

 

“Oh.” Marianne finally understood. “Does that bother you?”

 

“It worries me.” Bog looked her in the eyes, his own bright with concern. “I love ye so much. I,I worry that ye will decide ye don’t love me someday.” He looked away. “That doesn’t happen with Lyceans.”

 

Marianne scooted into Bog’s lap, grabbed him around the neck, and kissed him. He didn’t protest, but she couldn’t help but feel he was cautious as he kissed back. “I will never leave you, Bog. You are stuck with me.”

 

I believe ye.” Bog smiled, running a hand up her back and into her hair. “I never want to lose ye, Marianne. Doesn’t mean we’re always going to agree on everything, but I want ye to know I will always love ye, Love.”

 

“Okay.” Marianne sighed, leaning her forehead against his. “It still feels weird to me to be able to do things without thinking about the cost.” Then she laughed. “OH! I know a way around this! We have to leave town on occasion and let me pick it up!”

 

“I’m okay with that.” Bog grinned. “If ye insist. Remember, I’m paying for dinner with yer father.”

 

“Would you like to get your sparring equipment, and I can show you what I can do?” Marianne suggested.

 

“Sure! I can heal us if anything gets out of hand.” Bog gave Marianne a good firm hug. “Meet ya in my backyard in five minutes.”

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Bog stepped through the front door of his house to find his mother heading his way with his phone in hand. “Bogdan, you got a call from the Caretaker.”

 

“Huh.” Bog took the phone and turned toward the stairs. “Wonder what he’s calling about.”

 

“Amber is stirring, Bog. She has asked to see you.”

 

Bog stopped and turned back to his mother. “It’s only been 25 years since the last time she awoke and asked for us. Isn’t that early?”

 

“She’s waking up because of you and Marianne.” Zelda grinned. “She wants to see you and her. Not me.”

 

“Oh. No.” Bog groaned. “I’m going to have to explain to Amber that’s not going to happen. I don’t want to scare Marianne.”

 

“This is tradition, Bog. It’s also an honor that you can not reject. You make Amber mad, and you know what will happen.” His mother scolded him.

 

“Amber is a lot to take in, Mom. I don’t know how much Marianne knows about Familiarses Feralis.” Bog scowled at his phone. “I’ll see her by myself first.”

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Amber waking up? Asking for him? The last time she had woke up was when Bog’s great grandfather had died. She had known. That creature was frightening and had summoned Bog and his mother to her. And what had she done?

 

Nothing.

 

Bog went into his studio and prepared to call. Amber had denied him the gift that he had been told stories about since he was a small child. She had denied him that gift while accepting him as her master because he was 17 and had not found his match. Then Amber had slept. She woke occasionally to feed or take a walk through the surrounding forest. She was only asking for him because she had a bond with all the Lyceans and Atlanteans in the surrounding area. She had sensed when Bog allowed his feelings for Marianne to come out and sealed his connection to her.

 

Amber was the town’s biggest secret, a Mother that had come from the original Lycean Mother. Every decade one of those magnificent creatures would produce a single egg to replace them if they were killed . The Laird’s stole Amber’s egg when they left Lycea. The city fell shortly afterward to the Arcadians.

 

Bog remembered the stories. His family fled Lycea rather than defend it. They had been called cowards at first, but the Arcadians were too powerful. Lycea was led by overconfident rulers who could not face reality. Their constant twisting of alchemy was what had triggered the Arcadians. They considered their sciences an abomination, and what they created was no better.

 

The Lairds left, taking with them the greatest treasures they could carry. Knowledge. And one Mother egg. Amber had produced several small batches of eggs since they settled into their new home. 15 to 20 eggs were enough to start a new species of Familarses Feralis. It wouldn’t have been enough to maintain a breeding population of normal animals. The first generation had compacted DNA that varied genetics through the second generation.

 

The results of Amber’s prior clutches were spread throughout the town to those they chose. The Primes were special. They picked out their masters. Bog knew them all, but his family did not currently have one. He had never seen a hatching. The stories stated that he and his family would be given priority in this case. This was Amber’s gift. A new species to mark her master’s union.

 

He took a breath and grinned as excitement welled up within him. This would be a great honor, but it had to be handled with care. He would speak with Amber alone and hope she would not insist on meeting Marianne.

 

Bog set up the visit for early Saturday morning. He would have plenty of time to go out and speak to Amber and be home before Marianne even thought about getting up. Right now, he needed to go have some fun with Marianne.

 

The collection of protective padding and wooden weapons in Bog’s bedroom closet took up half of it. While he and his friends could heal, it took a lot of energy. Wearing padding meant they could spar for more extended periods of time. There were times where they did attempt to beat each other senseless without armor. He was not about to do that to Marianne. He didn’t want to hurt her.

 

Bog walked into the backyard with his arms full. He carried protective padding, two wooden practice swords, and a massive wooden staff. Marianne was sitting on one of the swings waiting for him. “Do we really need all that?”

 

“I would prefer it,” Bog grunted, setting everything onto the other porch swing. He picked up several pieces of padding and handed them to Marianne. “If ye don’t mind.” Marianne frowned and took them.

 

“This time, yer not taking me off guard.” Bog fixed Marianne with a serious glare. He stamped his massive oak staff on the ground, then he twirled it effortlessly . Bog cockily shifted his hand, and the staff spun around a single finger. He was showing off.

 

“It hardly seems fair that I have a sword, and you have a stick.” Marianne did a practice thrust and parry move in the air with her sword. Both were wearing padding over their chests, arms, and shoulders. Bog had also insisted on helmets.

 

“Have ye ever fought against someone not using a sword?” Bog began moving to the side.

 

“No.” Marianne turned her side to Bog, following him and looking for an opening.

 

“It’s not the same thing. Now show me what ye got, Tough Girl.” Bog sneered and struck out at her with astounding speed. Marianne stood her ground and countered with her wooden sword. It wasn’t the right move. The sword bounced off the hard wood, and the blade smacked into her helmet.

 

Then it was on. Bog danced around Marianne as she attempted to get close enough to hit him. He kept her at bay with well-practiced moves. He blocked every strike and smacked her in the stomach and shoulders a few times.

 

After a few minutes, Marianne realized that she needed to pay closer attention to what Bog was doing. He was somehow faster than she was. Was she giving him some sort of subtle hints about what move she was going to use? That had been one of Marianne’s weaknesses in competition.

 

Marianne smiled, dancing back a few steps and taking a breath. Bog began showing off, spinning the staff again and daring her to come in. The staff was only good when she was at arm’s length. If she got in close, she could hit him. Marianne cleared her mind and let instinct take over as she rushed Bog with her sword up.

 

“Whoa!” He laughed as he countered the sword up high. It made a pleasant thwacking sound as it hit. Then Bog crashed to the ground. Marianne had twisted beneath the staff. She slammed into his stomach with her shoulder. One of her legs had swept up at the same time to catch him behind a knee to help bring him down. Bog yelped and attempted to counter a flurry of blows coming at him. Several made it through before Bog growled and managed to get his staff back in control. Bog smiled and thrust the staff up as hard as he could, catching Marianne in the stomach and throwing her free.

 

Marianne found herself on the ground a moment later, her sword flying out of her hands. Then she laid there for a moment to catch her breath. Even through the padding, that had hurt.

 

Bog was up and coming at her. For a moment, Marianne felt a surge of panic rising through her at the sight of him. He was hunched forward and stalking toward her with a frightening leer on his face. The staff was held out in front of him, ready for action. Marianne didn’t want to play anymore. She wanted to run or actually fight.

 

“Marianne?” Bog stood up straight and dropped the staff like it was on fire. He rushed up to her and knelt on the ground. The look on her face was one of pure terror, and it was directed at him. “Are ye okay? Did I hit ye too hard?”

 

“I’m okay.” Marianne reminded herself as she sat up. This is Bog. This is not Roland. He was playing. “Don’t look like you really want to hurt me when we do this, okay?”

 

“Oh.” Bog nodded, wrapping his arms around Marianne. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. Usually, I do this with my friends.”

 

“It was fun.” Marianne smiled, leaning into the comfort of Bog’s embrace. “Keep it fun with me.”

 

“Want to do something else?” Bog offered.

 

“Give me a moment.” Marianne laughed. She had to get over this. She needed these scars that Roland had left on her to go away. Maybe confronting them was what she needed. “Let’s go again!”

 

“Great!” Bog grinned, helping Marianne to her feet. “Because yer impressive with that sword.”

 

“I’m not that good.” Marianne blushed.

 

“Ye just need practice. Ye figured out how to counter me and take me down, so that says something.” Bog retrieved Marianne’s sword and offered it to her. “My friends keep trying to disarm me and aren’t as fast or clever.”

 

“Thank you.” Marianne grinned, accepting it. “Let’s go!” She thrust her sword at Bog.

 

“I’ll get a sword this time.” Bog chuckled.

 

The two sparred for hours, working out the stress they were under. They switched weapons a few times. Bog showed her how to wield his staff and Marianne showing him better sword techniques. She had been taught some of them by Arawn. She recalled it only because her father had mentioned him a couple of days earlier. Bog caught on quick, and soon they were all over the yard trying to beat each other senseless.

Chapter Text

 

 

November 6

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Marianne had seen Bog driving three different vehicles and a motorcycle. She hadn’t been sure of where he kept them since he only had a two-car garage. Half of it was taken up by woodworking equipment. One vehicle, his mother’s sedan, was usually in the garage. Whatever vehicle Bog chose to drive at the time was always in the driveway.

 

“How many cars do you have?” Marianne asked. Bog was driving his truck, and she was along for the ride to pick up the vehicle they were taking to dinner that evening.

 

“Enough.” Bog kept his eyes on the road, embarrassed to admit it. He was only going to show Marianne one of his storage units. He had three more next to it. Most of them held old antique cars that had belonged to his family over the years. There was even a buggy in one of them. He was going to the one with cars that were his.

 

Bog hoped that Marianne wouldn’t know enough about cars to know how much money he had spent on one of them. It had arrived a few days earlier, and Bog hadn’t even seen it yet. He had bought it for the wedding and special occasions. Bog wasn’t even sure he could bring himself to drive it. It was the most expensive vehicle he had ever bought, and it was a gift for Marianne.

 

The storage place was outside of town. Bog parked in front of one of the large garages near the back. He pulled out a small garage opener, and the doors lifted. The lights automatically turned on, and Bog pulled his truck inside. Marianne got out before he could walk around to open her door. She ran out into the middle of the storage unit to look at what Bog had inside. There were four motorcycles parked in a perfect line in one spot. Marianne didn’t know a lot about motorcycles, but she knew they were expensive. The bikes were big and black with accents in coppery orange and amber. Two bore large Harley-Davidson logos. They were all powerful-looking machines and well taken care of.

 

Bog walked up behind Marianne and laid a hand on her shoulder. “Do ye like motorcycles? Can ye drive?”

 

“They’re nice to look at, but I’ve never driven one,” Marianne replied with a smile.

 

“I’ll have to take ye out on one sometimes. Now, we need to decide what we’re taking tonight. I doubt yer dad’s going to want to see me drive ye up on a motorcycle.” Bog smirked and turned Marianne to look at the cars.

 

There were seven vehicles in the garage, including Bog’s beat-up truck. There were two Mustangs. Both were black. One was a convertible. Then there was a black Challenger. This was one she had often seen Bog in. Next to it was an older looking black Impala. Bog chuckled, running his hand over the hood of the Impala.

 

Marianne stared at the car, then at Bog. “ Seriously ? You. Seriously ?” She began laughing, and Bog’s face turned bright red.

 

“Ye know why I have this one, don’t you? She’s my ‘Baby.’” Bog grinned.

 

“You are such a nerd sometimes.” Marianne giggled, running up to the car. She ran her hands over the hood, then walked along the side to try the door.

 

“What does that make ye if ye know what it is!” Bog walked after her, still smiling.

 

“Is it just the same model or one of the actual cars used on Supernatural?” Marianne slid into the driver’s seat and bounced excitedly . The interior looked like new.

 

“Actual car. It wasn’t in this shape when I got it. It’s been restored .” Bog leaned over the driver’s side resting his arms on the roof. “Like it?”

 

“I love it. Please tell me it runs and I can drive it!” Marianne giggled.

 

“Can ye drive a stick?” Bog gestured to the gear shift.

 

“I can.” Marianne nodded enthusiastically . “I would love to show up in this, but it wouldn’t give the right impression.”

 

“I know.” Bog stepped back. “I figured we’d take the CR-V.”

 

Marianne sighed as she closed the door to the Impala. “Out of curiosity, why would you watch and enjoy a tv show about Hunters?”

 

“The point of it isn’t that they are Hunters. The point is relationships and fighting evil. Even they don’t hunt indiscriminately .” Bog waited for Marianne to join him. “Hunters believe all Lyceans should die like your ex did. He hunted children, Marianne. He murdered children.” Bog made a disgusted face.

 

Marianne had felt elated, but then Bog had to bring up Roland and the photos. “He was awful.” Marianne sighed. Her secret began eating at her.

 

“Anyway, what do you think?” Bog motioned to the black CR-V, but Marianne wasn’t looking at it. Her eyes were locked on the beautiful satiny, dark purple vehicle next to it. She walked to it like she was in a trance. She couldn’t place why it drew her to it, but it was beautiful, with a style that hearkened back to another time. It was elegant and one of the most impressive cars she had ever seen. She wasn’t a car person, but this one was beautiful. She reached out tentatively to touch the hood.

 

“What is this?” Marianne ran her fingers over the hood and walked around it.

 

“That is a Rolls-Royce Phantom.” Bog followed her, pleased that she liked it.

 

“Wow.” Marianne walked around the car with her hand on it. “This isn’t a car I would expect you to have. It’s not you.”

 

“No. It’s not.” Bog grinned. “It’s yers.”

 

Marianne spun around and looked at him incredulously . ‘This is a Rolls, Bog. I KNOW they’re insanely expensive.”

 

“Yea, so please do not go and look up how much this one was online.” Bog grinned. “Do ye like it? It’s not an everyday car, of course. It’ll last a lifetime.”

 

“I love it!” Marianne looked from the car to Bog. She jumped into his arms, almost knocking him down. “Please stop doing things like this!” She laughed.

 

“I’m confused!” Bog grinned, hugging her back. “Do ye want me to send it back?”

 

“NO! I can’t wait to drive it!” Marianne snapped back in a hyper, aggressive tone, her smile lighting up her face.

 

“Another day.” Bog smiled. “I’d prefer ye not drive it until after the wedding.”

 

“I can’t drive in a wedding dress!” Marianne exclaimed.

 

“We’ll have a driver that day, Princess.” Bog took Marianne’s hand to lead her to the car they were actually taking out. “I promise ye will be the first one of us to drive it.”

 

Marianne squeezed Bog’s hand as he walked to the CR-V. It was a better choice. She came from a family that likely had a comparative fortune to Bog’s. They had that fortune because, like Bog’s family, they lived at a humble level. Their family home was a mansion and far bigger than Bog’s house. But the Summers also often had extended family staying with them. That was their biggest extravagance.

 

Bog smiled down at Marianne. He was going to spoil his lovely human wife like the Queen he felt she was. Bog was going to make sure she had everything she wanted out of her short life.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Bog pulled at his collar as he navigated the early evening traffic. He was wearing a black dress shirt and black slacks for the evening. The stiff shirt was annoying and distractingly itchy. Bog continually adjusted the stiff collar. Marianne was sitting in the passenger seat, fidgeting with the radio dials. She was wearing a simple button-up blouse. It was black at the top with an elegant, flowery design in purple, pink, and white spreading over the shoulders and chest . The black faded into a vibrant purple that went down past her hips. Marianne finished off her outfit with straight-leg black dress pants. She was also wearing the sandals Bog had bought for her.

 

“What do you like to listen to, Bog?” Marianne stopped on a station playing a current song.

 

“I like music.” Bog smirked. “I appreciate it all.”

 

“Even hip hop?” Marianne wrinkled her nose in distaste.

 

“I’ll never say I don’t like a whole genre of music because there is a lot of variety in them.”

 

“Okay, so anything I want goes!” Marianne pushed the scan button and stopped it on the happiest song she could find. A current-day remake of Sugar Pie Honey Bunch began playing through the speakers. Then Marianne sat back and smiled at Bog, wanting to see just how long he tolerated the peppy song.

 

“Ugh.” Bog made a face. “That’s not love. That’s a mental condition waiting to happen or a stalker in the making.”

 

Marianne laughed and moved to a different station, turning it down low. She sat for a moment, steepling her fingers. “Bog, can you tell me what you’re going to say to my father? How are we going to do this?”

 

“I’m going to tell him that ye proposed to me and wouldn’t stop pestering me to marry ye. So I just finally got worn down and gave in.” Bog grinned, not looking at Marianne as he spoke.

 

“No! Don’t you dare!” Marianne playfully punched his shoulder.

 

“Ow. Yer so mean!” Bog flinched back dramatically . “See, ye wore me down!”

 

“What are you really going to say?”

 

Bog’s face flushed a light shade of pink, and he made a face. “I am going to say, Sir, I love yer daughter. She is an extraordinary woman. Smart, talented, beautiful, and strong. I can not imagine life without her, and she has expressed the same to me. She has accepted my proposal. I would have liked to have done this the right way, being a traditional man, but that could not be helped . I would like to ask for your blessing on our union.”

 

Marianne smiled, a blush spreading over her cheeks as Bog spoke. Then she sighed, looking away. “He’s going to say no, Bog. I know he will.”

 

“Should I have brought my University transcripts and a printout of my bank account?” Bog scowled.

 

“We could do it together?” Marianne tapped her chin thoughtfully , looking out her window.

 

“Okay. You start.”

 

“I love this guy. I’m going to marry him!” Marianne turned and grinned at Bog. “Can we get your blessing?”

 

“Yeah, I think ye need a bit more.” Bog smirked.

 

“How about this.” Bog took a deep breather. “Sir, I love Marianne. She is the love of my life, and I am honored that she wants me in hers and has accepted my proposal of marriage. I will love her to my last breath and see to it that she never wants for anything. We would like to have yer blessing on our union.”

 

“Go with that one.” Marianne’s cheeks were bright red. When Bog spoke, it meant so much more than anything Roland had ever told her, because she knew he meant every word. She could hear it in his voice, and it sent warm shivers through her body.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Prime was a busy restaurant. Bog let Marianne off at the entrance to the restaurant. Then he went off to search for a parking spot in a very full parking lot. Lucas Summers was already there and waiting at a table. He had hoped he would get to have a few minutes alone with Marianne and was glad to see she came in unaccompanied. Lucas called Dawn the day after he spoke with Marianne and was unable to get anything out of her. She had seemed overly emotional and happy to talk to her father. He had gotten nowhere with her.

 

“Marianne.” Her father smiled, rising from the table to give his daughter a hug. She more than happily returned the gesture. She loved her father and had always been a daddy’s girl as a child. When Marianne left home, it had been on the worst terms possible. Her father had broken her heart by taking a step back from the situation with Roland. She wanted to mend their relationship. Marianne wanted him in her life again.

 

“Dad. It’s so good to see you.” Marianne smiled, patting her father on the back, “And under better circumstances.”

 

“Marianne.” Lucas sighed, gesturing for her to sit down. “We need to talk.”

 

“Dad.” Marianne frowned and remained standing in defiance. An uncomfortable cold prickling rippled through her back.

 

“Please sit. I don’t want to argue with you, Marianne.” Lucas held his hand, motioning to the chair again. “I like your new hairstyle. It looks nice.”

 

“Father.” Marianne hissed. “You are not going to tell him no. Do you hear me? This is my choice.”

 

“I’m afraid you’re rushing into this, Marianne. After the whole Roland thing, I would have expected you to take your time.” Her father remained standing and began whispering. “Are you really in love, or is it just that he’s available?” He touched Marianne’s shoulder gently .

 

“It’s been over a year.” Marianne didn’t move. She glanced back to the entrance, looking for Bog. “I don’t want to argue with you, Dad.” She sat down, and Lucas sat across from her.

 

“You need to tell me the truth, Marianne. Is Bogdan a human or a Lycean?” Lucas kept his eyes on the entrance.

 

“Tell me, Dad, does it matter if I’m happy with him?” Marianne scowled, not committing to an answer.

 

“I don’t know him, Marianne.” Lucas shook his head. “You and I need to have a conversation alone at home about Bogdan.” Lucas sat back and smiled at Marianne. She scowled back at him, not sure what he was doing until Bog walked by her chair to greet her father.

 

“Sir.” Bog held out his hand politely . Marianne couldn’t help but notice the tremble that passed through his hand. Her father rose and accepted the gesture.

 

“Bogdan.” Lucas smiled like he was perfectly okay with this, and Marianne felt a little ill. She knew where this was going, and she was helpless to do anything about it. Her father sat down, and Bog walked around to the chair next to her and took his place. Marianne turned in her chair and looked up at him. Bog smiled, completely unaware of what was going on. Marianne slid an arm up around his neck and pulled herself up to kiss him.

 

Bog was taken off guard by the gesture. He kissed back awkwardly and pulled back to reach for a menu. His cheeks were flushed again. He was uncomfortable with any displays of affection in front of Marianne’s father. Bog glanced at Lucas Summers. Then he distracted himself by looking over the meat selection that was offered . Lucas was giving him a distinct look of disapproval, and Bog wasn’t sure what he had done. This was all new territory.

 

Marianne turned and glared at her father, daring him to say anything. She scooted her chair a little closer to Bog so that she could touch him. She put her left hand on his leg. Bog stared at her from behind his menu and mouthed, ‘What are ye doing?’ to her. He was so confused.

 

After a few moments, Bog made up his mind to do something about what was going on. He set the menu down, sighed, and looked at Lucas. The man was watching him while pretending to go over his menu. “Sir, may I have a word with you?” Marianne kicked Bog’s leg under the table and shot a glare at him. Bog returned the glare.

 

I believe that would be appropriate.” Lucas nodded, setting his menu down and rising to his feet. “Outside. Marianne. Stay here.” The look on Marianne’s face could have killed a man. Bog glanced from her to her father. “I will not ask, Marianne. Don’t worry about it. That is a conversation between you and me.”

 

Bog and Lucas made their way to the front of the restaurant, leaving Marianne stewing behind them. They walked outside and stopped in front of a nearby shop to talk. “Ye know why we are here?” Bog asked immediately.

 

“I do, and I can not give you and Marianne my blessing until I know more about you.” Lucas sighed. “I am not saying no. I am not saying yes.”

 

“Is there anything I can do that would convince ye of how much I love yer daughter? I only have the best of intentions.” Bog kept his voice even. “She proposed to me, by the way. She didn’t want me to say that.”

 

“Sounds like Marianne,” Lucas smirked.

 

“I told her that we needed to wait.” Bog lowered his gaze. “I’m patient. I believe we are worth waiting for if that is what it takes.”

 

“Marianne is not going to wait.” Lucas reached out and patted Bog on the shoulder. “If you know anything about her, you know she is impatient. When she has her eyes set on something, she’s going to get it.”

 

“I do.” Bog nodded. “I like that. I uh, to be honest, I’m not rushing her. We haven’t set a date.”

 

“Good.” Lucas sighed and looked back at the restaurant entrance. “Let’s go enjoy dinner. Just a warning, but Marianne is going to be mad the entire time.”

 

“I know.”

 

“I’m sure you’re a good man, Bogdan,” Lucas walked past him. “I’ve made mistakes that hurt Marianne. I don’t want to see her hurt again.” Bog swallowed hard at that statement. He followed Lucas back inside, feeling deflated.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

In the few minutes that Lucas and Bog had been outside, Marianne had ordered two glasses of red wine. One was empty, and the other was half full. Her cheeks were flushed , and she had a scowl fixed on her face. Bog looked at her in concern as he took his seat.

 

“Slow down, Love.” Bog reached for the glass she was clutching in her hands. He didn’t want to make that move, but he was worried that she might have too much and slip up about him.

 

“Get your own.” Marianne scowled, clutching the glass.

 

Bog glanced at Lucas, then back to Marianne. “We can leave if ye want to.” He whispered, offering her an out from an uncomfortable situation.

 

“No.” Marianne sighed and put her wine glass in front of Bog. “I’ll get over it. Let’s eat.” She forced a smiled and flagged down a waiter.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Dinner started out with cold silence. Lucas ignored Marianne and started conversing with Bog. He knew his daughter well. She would loosen up if he showed a genuine interest in Bog.

 

Bog, for his part, was uncomfortable. He attempted to converse with Lucas. Bog continually checked Marianne’s mood. She was sulking and picking at her food. He didn’t dare touch her.

 

“I own several businesses.” Bog suddenly stated, deciding it was time to show off a little. “I don’t actually have to work at this point. I do it because I don’t believe in being idle.”

 

“What kind of businesses are you into?” Lucas inquired. “I run several myself. Mostly in security.”

 

“Restaurants and retail primarily .” Bog began enjoying the aged slices of beef on his plate. Good food helped to loosen him up. “I own quite a bit of land as well.”

 

“Where are you and Marianne going to live if you get married? I seem to recall you live with your mother?”

 

“She lives with me.” Bog grunted. “I have several houses. Most are rented out or occupied by families in need.”

 

“You do charity work?”

 

“You could say that. I help where I can.” Bog smiled. “Nobody goes hungry in my town. Has Marianne mentioned our Thanksgiving dinner plans? We’re going to have a cooking competition. We’ll be serving everything up to the residents who aren’t as well off or don’t have families.”

 

“That sounds nice.” Lucas turned his attention to Marianne. “Are you going to win, or is Bogdan a better chef?”

 

“I’m going to win,” Marianne smirked. She raised her eyes to look at her father. Bog was worried as he saw the intense gleam light up Marianne’s eyes. “You should come.”

 

“I’d be happy to.”

 

“Can she really cook?” Bog held up a hand between himself and Marianne to whisper to Lucas.

 

“She can.” Lucas held up a hand as well between himself and Marianne. “She hasn’t cooked for you yet?”

 

“I’ve cooked for her.”

 

Marianne frowned, looking from her father to Bog. She could only see their hands as they whispered loudly . Then her stubborn mood began to fade. The two most important men in her life were getting along fine, and she was the one being a problem. Marianne sighed and smiled. “I’m going to be cooking dinner on Saturday night.”

 

“What are you making?” Lucas dropped his hand to the table and turned his attention to Marianne. Bog did the same, smiling at her.

 

“It’s a surprise.” Marianne grinned, taking a big bite of the venison that was on her plate. Suddenly , she was hungry.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

The rest of the evening went well. Lucas felt better about Bog and Marianne when dinner ended, and they went their separate ways. The couple walked away arm in arm. Lucas still had questions, but he was more at ease with Bog as a person. Lucas had paid close attention to everything Bog did. The looks he had given Marianne were those of a man genuinely in love.

 

Bog had been polite, considerate, and patient with Marianne. He appeared to be a man who would stand up to her when it was necessary. He seemed like the perfect complement to Marianne. Lucas scowled as he realized that was exactly the kind of man she needed. He had sought out a man he thought would be a good match for her, a man who was confident, bold, and would challenge her. It was his fault that Marianne had ended up beaten by Roland. Lucas had let his pride in being a good judge of character get in the way of Marianne’s safety.

 

Marianne needed someone who respected her choices. Someone who would be there when her decisions might be too rash. A man who let her be who she was instead of confining her into a role. Lucas got a sense from Bog that he was that kind of person. He felt guilty that he was not. Lucas had tried to give his daughter the room she needed. But his desire to keep her safe often overruled what Marianne wanted. He had lost his wife by never saying no to her. He couldn’t lose his unique eldest child too.

 

Thankfully , Lucas did not have any problems with Dawn. She had no interest in hunting or alchemy. She had done her studies and had her eyes set on boys the moment she hit 13. Lucas had endured Dawn’s constant flirtation with EVERY boy over the following years. But she never argued with him. Dawn was so bright and cheerful. She could have ended up with a worse man than Sunny. Lucas wasn’t happy when Sunny came to him, asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage. He had been livid and almost chased him out of the house entirely .

 

Marianne had been waiting for him outside his office, along with Dawn. She had come ready for war with her father over Sunny. And she won. Marianne was amazing at negotiations. She came prepared with an array of reasons that Sunny was perfect for Dawn and how much Dawn loved him. In the end, Lucas felt good about the engagement. Why? Because his baby girl would be safe with Sunny. He would not drag her to the ends of the earth, looking for creatures to hunt and kill for a livelihood. They would settle in a lovely little house and have regular jobs. Nobody needed to know that his bloodline had become diluted with Atlantean blood.

 

Lucas still needed to talk to Marianne. But he was leaning toward giving his blessing based on the last few hours and knowing his daughter. It didn’t matter if Bog was a human or a Lycean as long as he loved Marianne. He could accept that. There were still a few intriguing things he wanted to look into about Bog. Like how he had stated that nobody went hungry in his town. He said it with pride. He said it as though he actually OWNED the town. Lucas was going to do a little more in-depth research into how much land Bog owned.

Chapter Text

November 8

 

-=-=-=-=-

Arawn had been on the road for days. He had rented an inconspicuous vehicle, a black Kia Optima, and was enjoying the drive. He had a map printed up of Roland’s route and was backtracking where he had been, driving the same path. Arawn had a list of names of Arcadians who lived near the route. He had already stopped and spoken to several of them.

None of the people Arawn spoke to had seen Roland when he passed through their towns. Arawn was wasting time. He had a name on the list that was a prime suspect, and he didn’t want to have to interrogate her, but she was the prime suspect. Marianne Summers. Arawn had forgotten that Roland and Marianne were to be married . He hadn’t given it much mind after it was called off. The reasons were none of his business. He had been invited to the wedding. He hadn’t known there was a lawsuit until he looked into Roland’s missing memory. The young hunter might not have figured it out, but Arawn had.

Knowing what Roland had done and the likelihood that she was involved did not sit well with Arawn. Being able to wipe memories was not in the Summer’s bloodline. That meant Marianne would know who did it, and he was going to have to ask who it was. Arawn had no intention of dragging Marianne or the person who did it into the Arcadis court. But he needed to give a warning to that person.

It was time to talk to Marianne. Her name had been redacted from the court documents and every associated document. Her name had been wiped clean of anything related to Roland.

-=-=-=-=-

Bog’s house usually smelled good. Both he and his mother cooked and baked a variety of food. Today the smell of smoking chicken permeated his house and yard. Marianne was stuck working in her studio. Bog had work of his own to do as well as preparing a delicious dinner for her. She would be over at 8 that evening.

It was just before noon when she heard her doorbell rang. Marianne thought nothing of it. If it were for her, Dawn or Sunny would come up and get her. She heard the door open and looked up at the sound of Dawn squealing happily . Did Dad decide to drop by? That was the only reason she could think of for Dawn to react like that.

“Marianne! We have company!” Dawn called up the stairs. “You need to come downstairs.”

-=-=-=-=-

Marianne reached the bottom of the stairs and felt the blood drain from her face the moment she laid eyes on him. At first, she thought Bog had come over, but it wasn’t him. Arawn was in her living room. He had an arm around Dawn and was smiling as he talked to her. She had not remembered how tall he was. For a brief moment, she compared him to Bog. He was a couple of inches shorter with a very similar build. Marianne stared.

Arawn’s black hair was cut short and sprinkled with more grey than she remembered. He had a trimmed beard that was also black and grey. His face was heavily lined with age. Arawn looked up, and Marianne stared into his brilliant blue eyes. There was no way. It was just a coincidence that he seemed to have the same build as Bog. Tall, lean, broad shoulders, narrow waist and hips. And the same blue eyes.

“Marianne,” Arawn smiled at her. “We need ta talk.”

The accent. It was more substantial than Bog’s but had a similar tone. His voice. It was Bog’s voice, older and more mature, but she could HEAR Bog in it. She hadn’t remembered he had an accent because she had grown used to it as a child.

-=-=-=-=-

Marianne hugged Arawn after closing the door to the spare bedroom. It was a good place to sit and talk. “I haven’t seen you in years, Arawn.”

“I’ve been busy.” Arawn hugged her back, then he settled into one of the two chairs sitting by the window in the small room. He waited for Marianne. It gave him time to study her body language.

Arawn had been a kind of ‘adopted’ member of the Summers family. He had lived with them on and off over the years. He had been a big part of Dawn and Marianne’s lives, and he knew them well.

“Why are you here?” Marianne asked innocently . She was trying hard to cover her nervousness and failing miserably . Marianne was gripping her hands so tight that her knuckles were turning white.

“Why do ya think I am here?” Arawn replied. Marianne was giving him odd looks that weren’t fitting with her nervousness. She looked like she was trying to figure something out.

“Roland.” Marianne met his eyes again.

“Aye. What are you going to tell me, Marianne?” Arawn’s gaze was intense, and Marianne knew he was examining her every movement.

“That you should keep going on your investigation.” Marianne stated, stubbornly maintaining eye contact. “And maybe come back around on Thanksgiving?” She smiled, trying to work the conversation in a different direction. “I would like you to meet my fiance.”

“Yer getting married?” Arawn’s expression softened, and it was there again. Marianne had seen that exact look on Bog’s face. This was bizarre. She was seeing things.

“I am. I would introduce you now, but he’s busy.” Marianne smiled. “His name is Bogdan Laird. He’s my neighbor.” She had hoped that the name might trigger a response, but Arawn didn’t react to it.

“He has an accent like yours.” Marianne wasn’t getting any reaction at all.

“Ah,” Arawn chuckled. “Yer marryin’ a Scot?”

“I’m guessing his dad was Scottish. We haven’t talked about it. He lost his father when he was a child. He’s lived most of his life here. He’s a good man.”

“I hope so. Ye deserve a good husband, Marianne. I am sorry for what happened to ye.” Arawn stated, reaching out and taking Marianne’s hand for a moment. He was still interrogating her. “Now, Marianne. Who wiped Roland’s memory, and why?”

“Arawn, Roland found me and tried to kidnap me. He wouldn’t leave me alone. I wasn’t safe. Someone else took care of it.” Marianne pulled her hand away and folded her arms.

“I understand. Ye know there is no way that I am going ta turn in a report that will endanger ye. Ye did nothing wrong. However , I need ta know who did it and issue a warning ta them.” Arawn spoke seriously . “I will not report them. I will not document it.”

“I can’t tell you. Can’t you just leave it?”

“No, I can’t.” Arawn shook his head. “I have ta know, so I’m doing my job. I’m giving ye a pass because I have that discretion. But I also have ta reprimand whoever wiped Roland and his friends’ minds.”

Marianne gave him another odd look. “Leave me a number you can be reached at, Arawn.”

-=-=-=-=-

Marianne stared out her front window as Arawn got into his car and left. She had a strong feeling that the impossible had occurred. The resemblance was uncanny. Arawn was either Bog’s father or a close relative. It was also possible she was imagining things. She would need to find an appropriate time to ask Bog to tell her about his father and get his name.

She had assumed that Bog’s father was a Lycean like his mother. She would need to approach this with care. Arawn was an Enforcer. He held a high position in the Arcadis government. There could be a valid reason why his family thought he was dead. Marianne could also be imagining things. She sighed. She had to err on the side of caution for Bog’s protection.

-=-=-=-=-

Marianne didn’t get a lot done between the time after Arawn left and when it was time to go over and have dinner with Bog. Her thoughts were full of trying to remember everything about Arawn she could. Most of the memories were good ones. Some were embarrassing. Such as the fact that Marianne remembered having a crush on him when she was a teenager.

If Arawn was Bog’s father, would that be why she had been able to trust him that first night she had fallen asleep in his arms? Subconsciously , had she known? Then she recalled the stories Arawn told. He was a hunter and a tracker who had taken down many problem Lyceans. How would he have ended up with Bog’s mother while he was doing that? He was still hunting! How could he justify that if had a Lycean wife and son?

Bog’s mother could wipe memories. There was a possibility there. What if Arawn never knew that they were Lyceans? What if he had found out and tried to turn on them, and his wife wiped his memories of them? No. That did not fit Arawn.

Arawn was the kind of man that would never harm an innocent. He had never joined in the hunts for random Lyceans and Atlanteans. He had spoken out against hunting those who were no threat to anyone and kept to themselves. He had argued to the public and to the Arcadis counsel. He was only tolerated because of his unique set of abilities and experience. Arcadis needed him more than he needed them.

As far as Marianne knew, he had never had a wife or any children. He had a few relatives in Scotland, but the Summers had been the closet thing he had to a real family. Still. He hunted and killed Lyceans.

Marianne had written down the questions she needed to ask and who to ask. She would ask Bog about what happened to his father and his father’s name, but not tonight. To line up the timeline, Marianne also needed to ask her own father questions. Then, she needed to make a decision on if she should forget everything and keep her secret or tell Bog or Arawn.

This was not going to be a fun decision to make.

-=-=-=-=-

Marianne arrived for dinner at Bog’s house a few minutes early. She was wearing the red sweater she had worn the first time Bog had asked her to his home for dinner as friends. Marianne also wore the sandals and river pearl necklace Bog had bought for her. She liked wearing something he had given her when she was around him.

Bog answered the door in one of his black dress shirts, grey slacks, and shiny black boots. Marianne had never seen him wear anything shiny before. It was a nice look. However , he also had a red apron on over his clothes, that had the words Hot Stuff printed on it over a plate of fajitas.

Marianne smiled as she was invited in. Bog had spent the day decorating. There were nets of tiny golden lights covering the ceiling giving off a warm, friendly glow. He walked her to the dining room, where the table was set for two. The only lighting came from strategically placed candles around the room.

“I’ll be a few minutes longer.” Bog pulled a chair out for Marianne. “Mom’s out for the evening, by the way.” Marianne sat down, and Bog pushed the chair in. He walked away, humming.

Marianne stared at the table. Bog’s mother was at home? She was always at home. Marianne was alone with Bog tonight. Anything could happen. Except Bog had been adamant about how far things would go between them until they were married .

Bog returned with salad and freshly baked breadsticks. He had removed the apron. “Dinner is resting.” Bog grinned, sliding into his seat. “How as your day been, Marianne?” He pushed the salad bowl toward Marianne, offering it to her first. Thankfully it was a Caprese salad with a little olive oil mixed in and not a leafy green one.

“Busy.” Marianne smiled, taking a little bit of salad then reaching for a breadstick. Bog immediately pushed the container closer to her, so she didn’t need to get up. “How was yours?”

“I spent the day thinking of you.” Bog helped himself to the salad now that Marianne was done .

Bog and Marianne enjoyed light conversation and each other’s presence. Bog brought out hand made gnocchi with cubed butternut squash in an alfredo sauce. He had even topped it with shaved Parmesan for their next course. Then he followed it with smoked rosemary chicken, a baked sweet potato covered in butter and brown sugar, and steamed vegetables fresh from his garden .

Marianne was impressed . Everything was delicious, but she wasn’t able to finish the main course. Bog took her plate, promising to send it and some of the other leftovers back with her. He came back with two small lemon souffles. Marianne was full, but she ate hers anyway and didn’t regret it.

Bog got up and made a little bow to Marianne. “I hope dinner was satisfactory.”

“The best dinner I’ve ever had, Bog.” Marianne grinned, getting up. She walked toward Bog to give him a hug and a kiss. Bog smiled and backed away, hands up between them. “Bog.” Marianne wrinkled her nose at him.

“Ye do remember the last date I took ye on?”

“We are not on a friends basis anymore.” Marianne stalked toward Bog. He continued evading her. We are getting married!”

“I did not invite ye over for dinner for anything more than serving my love a meal fit for a queen. No strings attached.” Bog grinned, and it was beginning to irritate Marianne. She hadn’t seen our touched him for most of a day! She wanted him, and he denied her. “The date’s over, Love. Time for ye to go home. I’ll walk ye?”

“Bogdan.” Marianne scowled at him. He smiled back, indicating he was not going to argue about it. He turned and headed to his front door. Marianne reluctantly followed him. “I am NEVER letting you take me on a date again, Bogdan Laird!”

The walk back to Marianne’s house was more of a dodging game of tag. Bog was enjoying making his point. It made Marianne angrier with each passing moment. Marianne lunged at him and almost caught him, but Bog shifted into his smaller wolf form. He bounded around her, laughing. She could catch him as a man, but as a wolf, he was too fast.

“Stop that!” Marianne growled, snatching for a handful of fur. She ended up falling on her face in the grass. Bog walked around in front of her and crouched.

“Out of curiosity.” Bog’s lips pulled back into a lupine smirk, showing off all his teeth. “Are ye seriously going to kiss me like this?”

“I was hoping you’d shift back.” Marianne glared at him. She pushed herself up on her hands and knees.

“Catch me, and I will.” Bog chuckled, splaying his forepaws into the grass. Marianne lunged, and Bog slipped through her fingers. She was up and seriously considering using one of her abilities. Instead, she followed him down the street at a run. He was heading to the grassy field and the trees across from his house.

Bog played chase with Marianne for a good hour in the trees until he began to feel guilty about it. She was persistent, but there was no way she was going to catch him. Yet she still tried. Finally, Bog decided to end the game.

Marianne scowled at Bog as he sat upright facing her. His tongue was lolling out of his mouth, and he looked like he was mocking her. She was breathing hard and sweating from all the running, but she wasn’t anywhere near giving up. She ran at Bog and expecting him to dodge to one side or another, jumped to his right.

Bog’s ears flattened back in surprise as Marianne crashed into the ground next to him. He cocked his head and made a face at her, then shifted back into his human form. Marianne grumbled, pushing herself up on her hands and knees. Bog wrapped his arms around her and picked her up the rest of the way. He hugged her tightly with her back against his chest.

“Good try, Love, but I’m just too fast for ye.” Bog nuzzled the top of her head. Marianne squirmed to turn around and face him. Her face was red , and she looked very annoyed. It began to dawn on Bog that he might have carried this on a little too long. “I’m sorry?”

Marianne grabbed his head in her hands and pulled him down to kiss her. Bog didn’t think kissing an angry woman could be that enjoyable, but he was wrong. It was like she was claiming a prize with the intensity she put into it. She slid her arms over his shoulders, and both went hands up into his hair. Her fingers were twining all over his head. Then she began doing some exciting things with her tongue.

For a brief moment, Bog considered making her mad like this more often. Then Marianne broke away. She shoved him backward with a deadly gleam in her eyes, turned, and walked away. She said nothing, but her clenched fists and the heated air following her said it all. Bog stared after her. Parts of him wanted to pursue her, but others were speaking more reason that he shouldn’t push it.

Then he noticed that during their chase in the dark, she had ripped her pants and sweater in several places. There were grass stains all over them, and one of her sandals was broken . There were smears of blood on her feet where she had stumbled over tree roots and run through bushes. Bog grumbled to himself as passion was replaced by guilt.

“I love ye!” Bog shouted.

“I love you too!” Marianne yelled back. She kept going.

-=-=-=-=-

Marianne slammed the front door. She glared across the room, unintentionally at Dawn and Sunny. They were cuddled up on the couch with mugs of steaming hot chocolate. The fireplace was lit. They looked up at Marianne with matching expressions of awe.

“Did you have a good time at Bog’s?” Sunny’s face cracked as he tried not to smile. “Or in his backyard?”

Dawn stared at her sister with wide eyes. “Doesn’t he have a couch and a bed? That doesn’t look like it was comfortable at all.”

Marianne froze and lifted her arms, taking a good look at herself in the brightly lit room. She was a mess. There were grass stains all over her clothes. Her sweater and pants were ripped , and there were smudges of blood everywhere she could see skin. Her feet were covered in green and red, with bruising showing clearly her and there. A broken strap of leather dangled off one sandal. Marianne touched her face, finding an array of scratches and several blades of grass. Then she ran her hands through her hair and pulled out a handful of leaves and a few twigs.

“It’s not what it looks like!” Marianne groaned. She began a quick account of dinner and what Bog had done that caused her to look like this.

Sunny and Dawn were in tears and laughing hysterically by the time she ended it. “You two are so weird!” Dawn wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, unable to stop giggling.

“You could have stopped at any time, Marianne!” Sunny grinned. “ Maybe before you tore up your clothes?”

“I’m going to take a shower and change,” Marianne grumbled. Then she smiled and added sweetly . “Any chance I can get some hot chocolate too?”

-=-=-=-=-

The first thing Bog did when he went home was pick up his phone. He called the boutique that he had taken Marianne to before and left a message to order a replacement pair of sandals . Bog also requested they pick out a new outfit that would be to Marianne’s tastes.

Then Bog walked into the kitchen and realized he had forgotten to give Marianne the leftovers he had prepared for her to take home . He quickly put them away and grabbed a bottle of root beer.

A few minutes later, Bog was sitting in his den with his laptop searching for red sweaters. Over the past few weeks, he had paid attention to what Marianne wore from day to day. He noticed she didn’t have a lot of variety. Bog was going to help fix that. His wife should have a closet full of nice things.

Bog wasn’t into fashion or buying a lot of expensive clothing. But even he had a closet with a variety of t-shirts, dress shirts, and a couple of costly suits. He might favor going barefoot, but he also had half a dozen pairs of shoes. Marianne should have more.

He began looking at light, flowy clothing that Marianne tended to favor. Nothing that appeared too tight or snug. He chose dark colors. No pastels or anything bright or shiny. He picked out a couple of things for Dawn in the process, guessing her sizes were close to Marianne’s. A few warmer sweaters and tops were added along with new jeans and pants that matched.

He went overboard, adding accessories. Scarves, thick and thin, shoes, and a couple of expensive bags were ordered . Where he could, he set deliveries to occur on different days so Marianne wouldn’t get flooded with packages all at once . The first few would arrive on Monday.

By the time he was done, he had deliveries going to Marianne every day for the next two weeks. He hoped she wouldn’t get mad about it.

Chapter Text

 

 

November 9

 

It was still dark when Bog arrived at the farmhouse the caretaker lived in. He had wanted to get out and speak to Amber before Marianne was up. Bog was usually at her house at that time, or she would come to his. He wanted to be back home by then.

 

The farmhouse belonged to Bog and was massive. The caretaker managed it and the land around it. At the moment, it  was allowed to grow wild without anything planted. Even the farm animals were being given this year to rest and not have any demands on them. They rotated fields and herds in this way to make them healthier.

 

Bog parked near a field that was closest to the woods that bordered the farm on three sides. He got out of the car and immediately walked into the field. A moment later, he shifted into the form of a large black wolf. It wasn’t his largest form for a good reason. The trees grew together too close in areas.

 

It was freeing to be in any of his alternate forms. There was a power and grace in them that Bog could not achieve as a human. He ran and enjoyed the cold dirt and leaves beneath his paws. The crisp breeze ruffled through his thick black fur, and he was able to stretch his legs.

 

Within minutes he reached a rock wall. Bog followed the wall to a massive gate. It was wood, framed with massive slabs of stone on all sides. There was a door set into the gate that was human-sized. Bog shifted back into his human form, complete with the clothes he had worn before. He pulled the door open and stepped inside, closing it behind him.

 

Bog  was surrounded by  darkness, but he knew the way. There was a dim light shining off sheer rock walls up ahead. A few minutes later, he entered a massive cavern. A fire was burning in the middle of it. There was an enormous pile of firewood along one wall. Chairs  were stacked up against a different wall.

 

A massive pile of colorful blankets and pillows  were stacked near the fire. That would be where Amber was sleeping. Bog walked toward the pile. “Amber.” He called out. The blankets immediately began shifting. A huge golden furred head with a mix of dragon and wolf features emerged. Amber blinked her blue eyes, yawned, then sat up, placing her forepaws on the pillows in front of her. Her long tail twitched out behind her. “Ye called for me?” Bog held up a hand, palm out to her. Amber stretched out to press her muzzle against Bog’s hand. She purred as Bog ran his fingers down under her chin.

 

“You have found your love.” Amber’s mouth parted in a toothy draconic smile.

 

“I have.” Bog nodded.

 

“I need to meet her.” Amber purred, sliding forward and shoving her head affectionately against Bog’s chest.

 

“Not yet.” Bog stated, running his hands over the sides of Amber’s head. “She is human. Ye will scare her.”

 

“I am not scary!” Amber recoiled and wrinkled her muzzle.

 

“To me, yer not.” Bog chuckled. “But to a human yer full of teeth.”

 

Amber lowered her head again to look at Bog at his own level. “When you are ready, I need to see both of you together. I will create something special for your union. I need you both here to do it.”

 

“I will talk to her and prepare her.” Bog nodded in agreement. “Be kind, Amber. Humans are not used to seeing creatures like you.”

 

“She knows you are a Lycean?”

 

“She does.”

 

“And she is okay with that?”

 

“She is.”

 

“Good.” Amber purred. “That’s all I needed, Bogdan.” She yawned and returned to her nest of pillows and blankets. “I will be waiting.”

 

“I’ll have food brought up.” Bog stepped away. “I’ll make sure yer well-fed.”

 

“Thank you.” Amber settled into her nest and yawned again.

 

Bog arrived home an hour later. The sun was up, and he had stopped and picked up a box of fancy donuts to bring with him to the Summers’. He  was stopped at the door by Marianne. She looked like she had awoke earlier than normal. Her hair was a mess, she hadn’t showered, and she  was dressed in a baggy gray sweatshirt and pants.

 

“You don’t want to come in. Dawn is sick and throwing up.” Marianne groaned, running a hand through her hair.

 

“I’m,” Bog almost threw it out there. He stopped himself from saying he was 100% immune to what was making Dawn ill. “Uh, I brought donuts?” How long were they going to avoid figuring this out? By now, Dawn should have known she was late.

 

“Thank you, Bog.” Marianne smiled, lifting the lid and looking inside. She closed it and sighed. “I hope I don’t catch what Dawn has.”

 

Bog was having a difficult time not commenting about how that wasn’t possible. He had to say something. “She’s throwing up in the morning, maybe it’s morning sickness?”

 

“Don’t you even joke about that!” Marianne smirked.

 

“I’ll go on to my house then. If ye need anything, let me know.” Bog turned and left.

 

Marianne closed the door and walked to the kitchen to put the donuts on the counter. She took one out of the box and headed to the den. She could hear Sunny talking to Dawn in the bathroom.

 

The idea was now in Marianne’s head, and she began counting. She made it to the den and stopped in the doorway. She almost choked on the bite of donut she had just taken. Arcadian women could only get pregnant once a year. She knew her sister’s cycle. Marianne had not seen any signs that Dawn had ended hers, and that should have been over two weeks ago. Her stomach churned, and she walked back to the kitchen. She tossed the remains of her donut into the box.

 

Marianne grabbed her keys and purse and headed for the door. “Sunny, Dawn! I’ll be back in a little bit. I’m going to get something for your stomach, Dawn!” Marianne bolted out the door in a panic and headed to her car.

 

Bog watched from his porch as Marianne’s car sped around the corner. He was glad he wasn’t going to be present for this fallout.

 

Marianne returned half an hour later with a small paper bag. She was on a mission, and part one of that mission was to get Sunny away from Dawn so she could talk to her. Dawn was still in the bathroom with Sunny hovering around her in concern.

 

“Sunny.” Marianne knocked on the door. “There are donuts on the counter if you haven’t seen them. I have medicine for Dawn, and I need to talk to her.” She spoke as sweetly as she could manage.

 

“She’s still throwing up.” Sunny opened the door and sighed. “I hope you got something good.”

 

“We’ll see. Why don’t you take a break, and I’ll tend to her.” Marianne stepped aside to let Sunny leave. He nodded and walked past her, wringing his hands. Marianne joined her sister inside and closed the door behind her. She locked the door. Then she turned to look at her sister.

 

Dawn was a mess. She was in a brightly colored nightshirt and sitting on the edge of the bathtub. Her hair was sticking up in all directions, and she looked a little green around the eyes.

 

“Dawn.” Marianne hissed, sitting next to her. She took one of her hands and squeezed it. “Do you need to tell me something?”

 

“Uhm.” Dawn stared at her sister through bleary eyes. “ I feel awful?”

 

Marianne sighed. “Dawn.”

 

“I’m late, and I think I’m pregnant.” Dawn sniffled. “It would explain a lot.”

 

“It would.” Marianne wrapped an arm around Dawn’s shoulders. She handed her the bag. “I’ll get you a cup.”

 

Ten minutes later, Dawn and Marianne were staring at 5 pregnancy tests. All were showing positive. Sunny paced up and down the hall with no idea what was going on. He wasn’t sure what necessitated his wife being locked in the bathroom with Marianne.

 

“I’m so sorry.” Dawn burst into tears. Marianne sighed and patted her sister on the back.

 

“It’s not anything to be sorry about, Dawn.” Marianne wanted to yell at her. But after the last few weeks of being irritated with Dawn’s bizarre behavior, she felt too guilty to d. “You’re going to need to tell Sunny.” Marianne grimaced. “I’m going to go shower and go over to Bog’s for the day. You two have a lot of talking to do.”

 

Dawn smiled nervously . “Thank you, Marianne.”

 

Marianne gave her one more hug, then got up and unlocked the door. “Yeah, so Sunny, Dawn has something to tell you, and I’m not going to be here for that.” Marianne rolled her eyes and walked past him. She wanted as far away from the two of them as she could get.

 

Dawn smiled, taking her nervous husband’s hand and leading him to the den. “I’m feeling better now.”

 

“That’s good.” Sunny was still confused about what was going on. “I was worried about you, Dawn.”

 

I am okay, but I need you to sit down with me.” Dawn sat on the couch and motioned to Sunny to sit next to her. He sat down and immediately leaned over to hug Dawn, pulling her close. She hugged him back and felt now was as good a time as any. “I got a message on my phone that I got a job with Main Interior Decorating as a consultant. I go in on Monday for orientation.”

 

“That’s good!” Sunny grinned, hugging her tightly . “You got a job!”

 

“And I’m pregnant,” Dawn whispered into his ear.

 

“What?” Sunny pulled back, sliding his hands up to Dawn’s shoulders.

 

“I’m pregnant,” Dawn repeated with a smile. Sunny stared at her. “I’m pregnant.” She said it again. A weird smile spread over Sunny’s face, and he began shaking.

 

“Are you sure?” Sunny whispered. A mix of emotions flashed over his face.

 

“There are 5 positive pregnancy tests in the bathroom.”

 

“You’re pregnant?” Sunny was still whispering. Dawn nodded. “We’re going to have a baby?” Sunny was slowly moving through what this meant. He leaned back with a goofy grin on his face. “ Really ?” Dawn shifted to sit next to him. Sunny jumped and began panicking, “We are so not prepared for this! How did this happen?! We did everything we were supposed to!”

 

“Sunny.” Dawn snapped at him.

 

“Oh, no!” Sunny winced. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded!” He grabbed Dawn in a firm embrace. “I love you so much, Dawn! We’re going to be great parents! I’m so afraid of everything right now!”

 

“We’ll figure it out. And if we don’t, Marianne will help us figure things out.” Dawn smiled, fully understanding her husband’s concerns. She had them as well.

 

“Can not believe them.” Marianne showered angrily . She dressed with annoyance, grabbing whatever t-shirt was nearby and jeans. The thought occurred to her that Bog had known Dawn was pregnant for weeks. He had been paying specific attention to her every time he came over. How had he known?

 

Marianne frowned, grabbing her sandals. The ones Bog had bought for her. The ones that were now broken, and she was going to have to throw away. She stared at them for a moment. They had been her favorite comfortable shoes to wear. She dropped them on the floor and opted for her usual pair of sneakers.

 

This news was going to change things. As much as Marianne loved her sister, the last few weeks had been awful. If that was a preview of things to come, Marianne did not want to be in the same house with her for the next 8 months.

 

She sat on her unmade bed for a moment, considering her options. It was time to set the wedding date, and the thought made her stomach turn. They were going to do this, and it was going to be soon. With or without her father’s blessing. Marianne sighed. She needed her father to be there. She was going to have to talk to him privately . She had to convince him that this was real in person.

 

Bog was sitting in the den, watching the morning news when Marianne came over. He immediately got up to greet her. “Good morning, Love. Doing better?” He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. Marianne smiled, sinking into it. Bog made everything better like no one else ever could.

 

“Okay, how long have you known?” Marianne poked Bog in the ribs. “And how did you know?”

 

“Couple of weeks.” Bog replied. “It was not my place to tell anyone about something like that. Figured it out that day Dawn came over here to tell me I shouldn’t be telling you I love you.”

 

Marianne winced. “I was so awful to her.”

 

“I’m sure ye can think of some way to make it up to her.” Bog stepped back and took Marianne’s hand. He sat down, pulling her with him. She ended up with her back to the arm of the couch and legs across his. She reached up and caressed his face. Bog smiled in response, then they kissed briefly .

 

“How did you know?” Marianne inquired curiously when they parted.

 

“Part of my Lycean abilities. I can scan a body for illness or injury.” Bog smiled. “I was concerned she was sick when she came over.”

 

“So, do you have a day in December you like?” Marianne sighed.

 

“For the wedding?” Marianne felt a tremble go through Bog.

 

“December 18th!” Bog’s mother poked her head into the den, and cheerfully proclaimed.

 

“Mother!” Bog snapped. “Stop spying on us!” Marianne giggled.

 

“Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for crosses, Friday for losses, and Saturday for no luck at all .” Zelda walked inside, clasping her hands in front of her. “Old Irish folk saying. The 18th is the Jewish word for life. It is a lucky day to be married on, and it so happens it also lands on a Wednesday.”

 

“Ye’ve put a lot of thought into this.” Bog glared at his mother. Marianne chuckled, running her fingers up the side of Bog’s neck and into his hair.

 

“December 18th. It’s not too soon, and I can tolerate Dawn for that long. I hope.” Marianne winced.

 

“Oh so you know about Dawn?” Zelda giggled happily . “That means I officially know too?”

 

“Mom’s a midwife on top of everything else.” Bog rumbled. Then he smiled mischievously . “ Maybe we can trade ye for my mom, and she can move into yer house when we’re married.”

 

“I’m going to go make some special tea for Dawn.” Bog’s mother turned, humming cheerfully as she left.

 

“December 18th?” Bog turned his full attention to Marianne, pulling her closer. “What are we doing about your father?”

 

“I hope he’ll come around.” Marianne turned her head and leaned toward Bog, so her nose was almost touching his. “I’ll talk to him, but I’m not asking him to pay for anything.”

 

“That’s fine. I can take care of everything.” Bog gazed into her eyes. “I want ye to go out today and take Dawn with ye. Go look at wedding dresses in the wedding boutique on Main. Go shopping. Buy some nice things to wear, both ye and Dawn. Have lunch.”

 

“I’ll do that. It still feels weird to not pay for things.”

 

“Eh, hand them yer card and pretend ye are.” Bog smirked, tilting his head to one side and kissing Marianne on the neck. She lifted her chin and sighed as Bog lightly kissed across her neck, nuzzling her affectionately . His breath was warm and comforting against her skin as he embraced her. “I love ye, Marianne.” He whispered into her ear, holding her for a moment longer.

 

“I love you too, Bog.” Marianne smiled, her face flushed and a pleasant warmth settling inside of her. She kissed him on the mouth, then reluctantly pulled back. “I’ll see you this evening at my house for dinner.”

 

Marianne figured out why Bog had not volunteered to come with her to take Dawn out shopping. Sunny had insisted on joining them and spent the entire time glued to his wife. Dawn was feeling much better and was more cute than usual with her husband. It was embarrassing and uncomfortable being around them. They constantly hugged, cuddled, and kissed everywhere they went. Marianne could not imagine being that sickening cute with Bog, especially not in public . It was revolting at times. There also seemed to be a double standard when it came to an adorable young couple like Sunny and Dawn. People smiled at them. When it was Bog and Marianne, there weren’t as many smiles, and they didn’t do half of what Sunny and Dawn were doing.

 

Dawn picked out a cute, brightly colored dress from the boutique on Main with a pair of shoes to match. Marianne noticed she didn’t even glance at the price tag. She picked out what she wanted, tried it on, and was done .

 

Marianne decided that since Bog owed her a sweater and jeans, she would pick something more suitable for the fall weather . She went with a fall patterned sweater in shades of orange, red, and brown. Then Marianne picked out a long burnt orange cardigan to go over it and cream-colored slacks. On a whim, she grabbed a scarf that looked like it would go well with it. She picked them out, knowing how much Bog liked shades of orange and gold.

 

“Hey, Marianne! Look at these cute shoes! I think they’re you!” Marianne was heading to the register as Dawn called her over. She walked over to where her sister was looking at a display of winter boots. Dawn held the pair she was looking at. They were dark brown leather ankle boots that looked heavy-duty and had a thick two-inch heel on them. They had laces on them and a couple of buckles around the top. They were perfect.

 

“Help me find my size, and I’ll try them on.” Marianne grinned, setting her items down on a chair.

 

Their next stop was a bridal shop. Marianne began shaking the moment she stepped through the door. She  was reminded about the last time she did this. The beautiful wedding dress that had been bought for her wedding to Roland had gone up in flames. She had sent the video to him.

 

Dawn bumped into her and broke her out of it. “Oh, look at this one!” She bounced past Marianne and started touching the lace on a nearby dress. Marianne smiled, looking at the dresses on display nearby. She wouldn’t have Roland dictating what she was wearing this time. It was going to be her choice.

 

“Can I help you?” The bridal shop owner greeted them.

 

“Yes.” Marianne smiled. “I’m looking for a wedding dress.”

 

“When is the wedding?” He smiled pleasantly .

 

“December 18th.”

 

He blinked, and the smile faded. “That’s just over a month away. That’s not possible. It takes four to six months to make a wedding dress, Dear. Unless you want something off the rack.”

 

“I am marrying Bogdan Laird.”

 

“It will be done .” The look on the man’s face turned deadly serious. He stood upright like a bolt of lightning had just passed through him. “Whatever you want, let me know.”

 

“Let’s start with something with color.” Marianne grinned. She could get to like this. Even though it was disturbing to see people react like this to her.

 

By the time Marianne got home, she  was exhausted . Dawn and Sunny left her to go relax in the hammock in the backyard. Marianne had a few groceries to unload for dinner. Bog had made an impressive meal for her, but she didn’t feel the need to try to outdo him. Being competitive wouldn’t be preparing a dinner from the heart. She had just the thing.

 

Knowing Bog’s appetite, she had purchased two racks of lamb. She wasn’t doing multiple courses; one main course with sides and a dessert. To go with the lamb, she had planned on glazed carrots and risotto. For dessert, she was making apple and pear tarts with persimmons. Marianne had selected a bottle of semi-sweet Cabernet Sauvignon along with the brand of root beer she usually saw Bog drinking .

 

Dawn and Sunny would be home, but they were going to keep out of the way. Marianne began some light prep work and thought about what she wanted to do. Turnabout would be fair play for what Bog had done the evening before. Yet she wasn’t in the mood to tease him too much. She had spent a total of ten minutes with Bog today. Marianne just wanted to sit next to him and enjoy a movie or do what Dawn and Sunny had been doing the evening before. Hot chocolate in the living room in front of the fireplace. She decided on the latter and washed her hands. She needed a little nap.

 

Roland followed the coordinates of Arawn’s GPS down the residential streets of a small no-name town . He had an address and someone to see. The Hunter turned a corner and checked the GPS. He had the right street. Roland’s eyes settled on the front of the homes he was passing.

 

There was a very tall man standing on the porch of one of the houses. He looked up, and their eyes met. Roland was lucky that he was going in a straight line and had chosen a car with tinted windows. He was  momentarily  flooded with memories and a sense of hatred directed at that man.

 

The car kept going, and Bog watched it. He assumed that the driver  was lost as it continued down the street and vanished around the corner.

 

Roland stopped the car around the corner to catch his breath and sort through the sudden rush of information . He knew his name was Bogdan Laird. There were other people that were fuzzy around him in Roland’s memories. Those people didn’t matter, because the most important thing to him was the fact that Bogdan was a Rex Regis Lycean. That meant he would fetch a large bounty if he took him out. Or he could do something even better with him if he caught him alive. Roland had a lot of plotting to do.

 

Bog headed to Marianne’s house a few minutes before he was supposed to be there. He  was dressed the same as he had the evening before. Black dress shirt, grey slacks, and his shiny black boots.

 

Marianne met him at the door in the clothes she had chosen earlier in the day. The fall sweater with the burnt umber long cardigan over cream slacks. Bog smiled, immediately realizing that these were new. They looked good on her. Then he noticed she was barefoot and wasn’t sure what to make of it.

 

Bog  was dragged inside the house, and Marianne was kissing him. “That’s for last night.” Marianne pulled back after a moment and grinned at Bog. She reached up and unbuttoned the top two buttons on his shirt. Bog blinked at her quizzically , unsure if his unpredictable fiancee was going to keep going or not and if he should stop her, or not . She stopped at two, and Bog breathed a sigh of relief. He turned and closed the door.

 

Dinner at Marianne’s was far different from what Bog had done. She had her table set up with candles as well, but everything was ready to begin immediately. She had even prepared their plates. The presentation was beautiful, and Bog’s mouth began watering the moment he saw the pink chops of lamb.

 

There was a glass of red wine already set out for each of them, along with a bottle of root beer on Bog’s side. They sat across from each other, and Marianne immediately began messing with Bog. Her table was a small round 4 person table. She started talking to Bog like she wasn’t up to anything.

 

“I made two racks of lamb. One’s a little more done than the other if that one’s too rare.” Marianne smiled pleasantly , taking a bite of a carrot.

 

“This is fine, fine.” Bog stammered in surprise as he felt Marianne’s toes brush against his leg. They curled and dragged down his pant leg. He gave her a questioning look. “I like it rare.” He wasn’t sure what to do.

 

“Good. When we’re done, if you’re okay with it, I was wondering if I could tell me about your father.” Marianne’s toes found the hem of Bog’s pants and slid up underneath of it.

 

“I can, can. It’s n’not a fun conversation.” Bog was having a difficult time keeping his focus on food. Her toes were tiny and warm and pleasantly stroking his leg. “I’ll tell ye now.” Bog took a breath as Marianne slipped her foot away.

 

“We were out of town for a weekend when I was six to celebrate my birthday.” Bog began, thankful for the reprieve. “My father was a good man, but he was a human who didn’t know our secret.” Bog looked sadly at Marianne. He had her full attention as she listened. “I wouldn’t want to keep a secret like that from ye. I am so glad ye know. Lycean children begin shifting around the ages of 5 and 6. It’s not easy to control when it starts happening. We were out, and these men in white armor surrounded us. Arcadian Enforcers.” Bog scowled, his blue eyes darkening with sadness. “They were talking to my father and mother, and I began shifting. They saw me. The Enforcers closed in on us, and my father pushed my mom at me and told her to run. She grabbed me, and I didn’t see what happened, but somehow, she got us away from the Enforcers.”

 

Marianne reached across the table and placed a hand on Bog’s arm. “We hid for several days, and mom tried to find him. There were no crimes reported in that area, no bodies, nothing. We hoped they had left him alone because he was a human, but he never came home. Mom worried they would make him tell him where he lived, and we had to go home and warn the rest of the family.” Bog took a deep breath. “Nothing happened. Mom believes the only reason nobody came is Dad tried to stop them from following us. She said they killed him, then disposed of his body.” Bog swore something about Arcadians, and Marianne felt guilt well up within her. “I still miss him to this day.” Bog mumbled. “36 years and I don’t go a day wishing my father was still with us. He was a good father for the whole 6 years I had him.”

 

“I’m sorry, Bog.” Marianne wished she hadn’t had to ask him this. “Have you tried to look into it on the internet? What was your father’s name?”

 

“I haven’t. I never thought to.” Bog shrugged. “His name was Arawn.” He smiled as he said that name. “He had an awesome name, didn’t he?” Then Bog laughed, remembering better memories. “Mom used to call him her Dear Reaper, Dark King, and Sweet Death. My mom is bizarre!”

 

Marianne laughed softly , staring at Bog. Arawn was his father. There was no question about it. Now she had to piece together what had really happened. That was going to take a trip to talk to her father. She did not want to speak to Arawn directly . From Bog’s version of events, Marianne thought that Arawn had been caught with his Lycean family. He had seen Bog shift, and he attempted to stop the Enforcers. Perhaps they had wiped his mind of them after he  was captured .

 

Arawn was incredibly  crucial to Arcadis. They would stoop to something like blocking a man’s memories to keep him from straying from their control . He might have even agreed to it to save them. That sounded more like the Arawn she knew.

 

Bog ate a bite of the lamb, savoring its taste. Marianne had a look on her face like she was somewhere else. “Marianne?” Bog smiled at her. “This is really  good.”

 

“Glad you like it.” Marianne shook herself back to where she was. She would look into it later. There was no hurry. She smiled at Bog, and her eye twinkled with hope. This would make it easier for him to see past her Arcadian bloodline. If his father were an Arcadian, that would change how he thought about them.

 

“Ye asked about my father. Can I ask about yer mother?” Bog felt it was only fair while they were sharing tragic backstories about their missing parents .

 

“My mother was killed by vampires a decade ago.” Marianne didn’t want to lie to Bog, so she told him the truth while omitting specific details. Like the fact that her mother had been leading a group of missionaries into a remote area. A place where there were rumors of feral Lyceans and a pair of vicious vampires. The missionaries survived. She did not.

 

“Oh.” Bog couldn’t help but feel her story was far worse than his. “Vampires.” He scowled. “I’m sorry, Marianne. Vampires are the only things in the world worse than Hunters.” Bog glared at the table. “That’s not saying much.” Then he went back to his dinner.

 

Marianne was silent. Every time Bog mentioned Arcadians and how much they disgusted him, she died a little inside. It hurt. She loved him so much, and she knew he loved her, but what would he do when she finally had to tell him? How angry would he be? Would it be the one thing that would make him walk away from her? It didn’t matter that Bog had explained what a Lycean bond was. She wasn’t sure if it would hold up against Bog’s disdain for Arcadians.

 

Then Marianne imagined telling him as she looked at his smiling, sweet face across from her. “Bog, I have to tell you something.” That’s obviously how she would begin. “I’m an Arcadian.” She would be ashamed to tell him that.

 

Bog dropped his fork and glared at her, those beautiful blue eyes that only held love for her would ice over. “Get out of my house.”

 

“This is my house.”

 

“Fine. Then I’m leaving. Do not follow me.” Bog would say tersely , shaking with anger as he rose and left the room. He would slam the door as he left, and Marianne would  be left staring at the table with a broken heart. That was her greatest fear.

 

She smiled at Bog, feeling the sense of pain lift as she looked into his eyes. If she brought his father back into his life, that would most likely not happen.

 

The rest of the evening went by uneventfully . After their conversation, Marianne didn’t continue messing with Bog under the table. Bog was a tiny bit disappointed that she didn’t. He drank the wine that Marianne poured for him, commenting that he wasn’t into wine or alcoholic beverages . Their mood lightened, and they ended up on the couch in the living room with hot chocolate. They snuggled up together and discussed their wedding plans.

 

Bog had several places in mind for them to look at. Bog’s mother would handle the invitations and get them sent out by Friday. She needed a list of people Marianne wanted to invite not to exceed a hundred. Marianne had laughed at the number while panicking inside. She was going to be inviting her entire family and family friends. Every single one of those people were Arcadians. They would not know they were entering a town full of Lyceans and Atlanteans. It would be okay, because Bog’s people would be on their best behavior and be expecting humans. But Marianne was still concerned about it.

Chapter Text

November 11 

-=-=-=-=-=-

Marianne was up earlier than usual.  Bog was going to pick her up for breakfast, and then they were going to go around town to see the best wedding venues and pick one. Bog set up visits to several restaurants, bakeries, and the local distillery. They were going to be busy eating good food throughout the day.


But before they left, Marianne called her father. He was an early riser like Bog, so he would be up while Marianne was still a little groggy. Her father answered immediately with a cheerful good morning to his eldest.


“Good morning, Dad. We set the wedding date for the 18th.” Marianne got it out immediately and heard her father inhale quickly on the other end of the phone.


“That’s soon.” He sounded concerned.


“Yeah. It is.” Marianne mumbled, realizing that she couldn’t tell him why.  Dawn and Sunny were planning on seeing a doctor and confirming everything before telling anyone else. “I’m going to need addresses for family, Dad, if you don’t mind? Uhm.”


“We need to talk, Marianne.”


“I know. I know. Would you like me to come by this evening? I have something  important I need to ask you about Arawn.”


“Arawn? What does he have to do with you getting married?”


“I will explain when I see you.” Marianne sighed, then she smiled as the thought entered her head. If her father knew about Arawn being Bog’s father, then he would give his blessing immediately. Marrying someone who was half Arcadian would make it easier for her father to accept their union. Arawn’s connection would fix everything.


“This evening will be fine. Is 5 too early?” Lucas offered.


“5:30 would be better.” Marianne smiled. 


“Okay.” Lucas then added. “Marianne, I only want what is best for you, and I want you to be happy. As long as you tell me the truth, I will give you and Bogdan my blessing to get married. I want to walk you down the aisle on your wedding day. I have looked forward to that day for a long time. I love you, Marianne.”


“I love you too, Dad.” Marianne was touched by what he had said and felt better about the whole thing.


“Marianne.” Sunny whispered, walking into the living room. 


“Why are you whispering?” Marianne shot him a wary look. She was sure that Dawn was still in bed. There hadn’t been any sounds coming from the bathroom that morning. 


“We need to talk.” Sunny frowned. “You need to tell Bog about us. Everything. We can’t live here under a lie. Especially not with Dawn being pregnant.”


“I know.” Marianne gave him a weak smile. “I am going to tell Bog very soon. I promise.” Her stomach turned and twisted. Even with what she knew, saying it would be awful. “I have some things I need to do first.”


A knock on the door interrupted their conversation. “It’s open, Bog.” Marianne called out.


“I’m not Bog. I have a delivery for Marianne Summers from Bogdan Laird.” Marianne got up to answer the door and was given a large cardboard box with Boutique on Main printed on it. She pushed the door closed with her foot and carried it over to the coffee table.


“They’re up early,” Sunny commented, curious to know what was in the box.


Marianne sighed and ran a fingernail under the tape holding the box closed. “Please do not be lingerie. I love you, Bog, but no. Do not do that to me.” There were more boxes inside. Two shoeboxes and several garment boxes. 


The first shoebox contained the same style of sandal that she had thrown away. Marianne smiled, removing one and turning it over in her hands. Bog had noticed they were broken and replaced them. She opened the second shoebox to find a pair of light brown leather hiking boots with a fleece lining. They looked comfortable. 


Marianne ripped through the other boxes, curious to see what else Bog had bought. She wanted to have them opened, knowing he was going to be showing up at any moment. There was a dark purple sweater with leaves and dragonflies woven into it and a pair of black boot cut jeans. The last garment in the box was a long plaid, purple, and black scarf.

“Sunny, can you take the rest of the boxes into the kitchen.” Marianne gathered the shoeboxes and clothes in her arms. “I’m going to change, so stall Bog until I get back!” She ran up the stairs to her room.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog arrived in time to hear someone throwing up inside Marianne’s house. He rolled his eyes and sighed, glad he hadn’t intended on staying for long. Marianne opened the door with a grimace on her face. “Dawn’s up.” She sighed, slipping through the door and right into Bog’s arms. “So, let’s go.”


“In a moment.” Bog murmured. “I need ta hold ye and kiss ye.”  They spent several minutes kissing before they heard another mood breaking round of Dawn throwing up. “I like yer new clothes. They look good on ye.” Bog complimented Marianne with a smile.


“Thank you, Bog. My winter wardrobe is kinda lacking.” She shivered. The weather outside was much chillier on the porch. Bog smiled and offered his arm. He was dressed in a black turtleneck and jeans with a suitable pair of black walking shoes on. A black checkered scarf wrapped around his neck. 


“I’ll keep ye warm.” Bog smiled down at Marianne with a mischievous glint in his eyes as he took her arm.  He leaned over to kiss her again, immediately sending a pleasant warm feeling through both of them.


“It’s hard to walk or drive if you’re kissing me.” Marianne giggled as her breath fogged up the air between them.


“Guess we’ll have to turn on the heater then.” Bog sighed, pulling her to his side and heading to his CR-V.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Arawn realized he wasn’t being tailed any longer when he was in the next town.  That meant whoever was tailing him, and he already suspected it was Roland, had found what they were looking for. He had not spotted Roland, but two vehicles were switching off following him. One was a sporty grey Mustang. The other was a non-descript black Corolla. There were three drivers between the two cars. They showed up and tailed him for a short time, then backed off. He had managed to identify them as the three Kane brothers. They had been brought in with Roland with wiped memories.


The hellhound in Arawn’s backseat told him they planted a tracker on the car shortly before they left and kept him updated. Titania was annoyed with being told she couldn’t be seen.  She usually looked like a sweet, friendly blue merle Australian Shepherd with blue eyes.  Titania was one of the few types of Familarsis Feralis that held a normal animal form even when looked at by someone who knew what a Familiarsis was.


In reality, she was a canine shadow filled with blue fire and smoke that served as a tracker and assistant. Arawn had been fortunate to get her from the Summers as a puppy a couple of decades back.  Her ability to completely disappear from view was one the Summers bred for in their Hellhounds. She was always nearby, watching.


“I told you I should have remained at Marianne’s house,” Titania grumbled from the backseat. “I smelled something off about that town.”


“Ye just wanted ta see Marianne and Dawn again,” Arawn replied. “We’ll be there in a few more hours. I want ye out and looking for any sign of Roland or his friends. Ye can join us when yer done fer belly rubs.”

-=-=-=-=-=-

The morning went by fast. Bog had Marianne on the move the entire time.  They didn’t sit down for breakfast, they picked up freshly baked breakfast croissants from one of the little coffee shops along with coffee.  From there, they went to the florist.  They were presented with an assortment of choices for centerpieces and floral decorations. It didn’t take long to choose a beautiful winter-themed display.


Bog and Marianne worked their way down Main street, which had a lot more little shops and restaurants than Marianne remembered. One of the wedding venues was an old church in the middle of the park that marked the center of town. It was a stone building with a solid gothic look to it. It would be big enough for their wedding, and Marianne thought it was perfect. Bog wouldn’t settle on it until she had seen the other available venues.


There were two bakeries to visit, three restaurants that did catering, and finally the distillery. Every place they went to was waiting for them with a variety of options and menus. When they got to the distillery, Bog turned to Marianne with a warning. “Sugar is awful. I’m only bringing ye here because she makes amazing drinks.”


“You don’t drink.” Marianne stared at Bog. It must be something if Bog liked it.


“Moderation.” Bog muttered. “It doesn’t matter that it’s out of my system fast, I can get drunk like anyone else and make stupid decisions. Sugar led to one of them.” He held the door open for Marianne.


Marianne wasn’t sure what to expect. She walked into an ordinary tasting room with a bar set up against the wall. The walls were a pleasant shade of orange with black fixtures. The bar itself was wood with a dozen black stools set up around it. There was an assortment of bottles sitting on the bar, along with a dozen wine glasses. A wooden serving tray was set nearby with a loaf of fresh french bread on it. There was soft music playing. A large white cat was sitting on the bar staring at them. 


It wasn’t really a cat. Marianne could see it for what it was after a moment. It was the size of a cat, covered in silky white fur. The eyes were massive and set into a smiling face that looked a lot like a possum’s, but broader. Huge ears that resembled a rabbit’s ears stood upright on its head. It had primate-like hands and a long prehensile tail that it was currently using to push napkins off the table. It was an imp.


“Do ye see that thing?” Bog asked, leaning over Marianne's shoulder.


“Yeah, I can see him for what he is.” Marianne smiled.


“That one’s Thor. There’s a black one around here she calls Loki.” Bog walked up to the animal and reached out to scratch it under the chin. It made a delighted chittering noise and leaned against Bog’s hand. “Their names should be reversed. This one’s always up to something.”
Marianne chuckled, climbing up onto the stool near the glasses. Bog took a seat next to her. Thor bounced off the table and hopped onto Bog’s shoulder.


“Thor. Get off.” A very tiny lady with a mass of platinum blonde curls heaped on top of her head came into the room carrying a stool. She could not have been over four and a half feet tall. She was dressed in a plum-colored dress shirt with a black leather vest over it. The logo for Sugar’s Distillery had been branded over the left side of the jacket. She had on jeans over simple black boots.


Thor clambered off of Bog and left the room with an annoyed hiss. “This is Sugar.” Bog grumbled, motioning to the woman.


“Hello, Dear, you must be Marianne!” Sugar stepped up onto her stool, so she was at eye height with Marianne. “You are just lovely.” Marianne blushed self consciously.


“What would you like to begin with?” Sugar picked up a bottle. “I highly recommend our mead.” She began pouring a glass. “It’s perfect for a wedding, and I will be sending you a case for your honeymoon.”


Marianne took the glass and swished it around, staring at the beautiful golden liquid. She had never had mead before, and it was delicious. “Oh. Wow.” She looked at Bog, who was glaring at his glass with suspicion. “Bog?”


He sighed and lifted the glass to try it. “I don’t know anything about wine.” He tilted it and took a little sip. His face immediately lit up, and he had a second sip. “This is good.”


“Oh, you’ve had it before.” Sugar gave him an absolutely wicked smile.


“Do not bring it up, Sugar.” Bog growled, setting the glass down harder than he intended. Marianne looked from Sugar to Bog and then back again.


“You are such a big baby.” Sugar groaned, picking up a bottle of red wine. “Have a piece of bread to cleanse your palate. This is our Pinot Noir. Another good wedding wine.” Marianne pulled off a small chunk of french bread and watched Bog. He had pushed the glass of mead back to Sugar.


“I only need a sip, Sugar. Don’t fill them so full.” Bog glowered at Sugar as he spoke.


“Pshh.” Sugar rolled her eyes at Bog, sliding a half-full glass of red wine in front of Marianne. She filled a matching one for Bog.


“So wasteful.” Bog grumbled, not taking any bread. He took the glass and sipped the wine. Then he gagged. 


“That’s no way to react to good wine, Bog.” Sugar scolded him. 


“We can have what Sugar is suggesting? I’m not picky. These are good.” Marianne smiled at Bog.


“Try the Sauvignon Blanc.” Sugar was already pouring another glass for Marianne.


“Ye really like trying to get people drunk, don’t ye, Sugar?” Bog grumbled, eating a piece of bread. “Can I get some water? Without anything extra in it?”


“Sure.” Sugar grinned, stepping off the stool. She walked over to a small cooler and pulled out bottled water for Bog.  “Bog has issues with alcohol because someone spiked the punch bowl at a high school dance, then kept giving him cups because he was nervous.”


Bog glared at Sugar. “That someone was ye.”


Sugar chuckled, getting back up on the stool. “If you would like these, I’ll need to know how many people are attending.” She began corking the bottles. “Why don’t you take these with you? No need for them to go to waste.” 


Marianne picked up the glass of mead, intending to finish it. Bog opened the water and began drinking. That was the moment that Sugar chose to make her move.


“So Bog got drunk and tried to ask this girl to dance with him that he liked and ended up dumping the whole punch bowl on her when he stumbled into it.”
Bog choked, and water spewed out of his mouth. Then he began coughing and trying to breathe. Marianne set her glass down and immediately hit him on the back a few times.


“And then Bog fell on top of her trying to help her up and ripped her dress, and I THINK he might have even groped her.” Sugar smiled, staring at Bog without any concern for what she was doing to him.


Bog’s face was crimson, and he was gasping for air. His eyes were bugging out as he stared at Sugar, fists clenched on the table. Marianne scowled at Sugar and grabbed Bog’s arm. She slid off her stool and pulled him as hard as she could to make his chair turn toward her.


“Bog was suspended for a week for drinking at a school function.” Sugar finished, tapping her fingers on the table. “I’ll get a bag for you.” She got up and left giggling.


“Bogdan. Bog?” Marianne tried to get his attention, but he had slumped to the side at that point, one arm on the table. He put his forehead on his arm and began swearing at the table as quietly as he could manage. “Bog.” She ran her hand up to his back, pressing her fingers in, looking for some sensitive spot to break him out of it. “That sounded embarrassing,” Marianne whispered as she found a spot that sent a shiver through Bog.


“Humiliating.” Bog groaned. Pulling his other arm up to grip the back of his head. He was still staring at the table.


“Well, it wasn’t your fault, and wow, how long ago was that?” Marianne was trying her best to calm him down. “Decades?”


“Yeah. And I forbade everyone there from ever talking about it again, but obviously.” He sat upright and gestured wildly in the direction that Sugar had gone. “Someone doesn’t listen to me!”


Sugar came back in the room in time to hear Bog. She began putting the bottles into wine bags while giving Bog a sneer.  “Why should I? You already punished me for it by forcing me to work here and having me under house arrest for the last 26 years. What more are you going to do to me?” Bog stared at Sugar as she slid the bags toward Marianne with a smile. “Enjoy your wine. Make sure he drinks all that mead, and you’ll have a good time with him tonight, I promise.” She winked at Marianne.


Marianne blushed, and Bog groaned. He got up and slunk toward the door. His shoulders hunched forward so far that his head was almost at Marianne’s level as she followed him. He held the door open for her, turning to glare at Sugar. “Ye need to stop messing with me, Sugar. Someday I’ll show ye how evil I can be.”


“Oh, whatever. You’re not still in that phase, are you? Seriously. If you were really evil, you wouldn’t need to go around TELLING people how evil you are.” Sugar giggled and began cleaning up the bar.


Bog growled and joined Marianne outside. He refused to look at her as he walked to the car and opened the door for her.  Marianne got in, and Bog gently closed the door, then he stomped around the car, jerked his door open, got inside, and slammed the door. He slammed his hands on the steering wheel and took a deep breath, staring forward.


“I am sorry, Marianne.” He glanced at her, speaking softly. His face was still bright red. “I am sorry.”


“It’s ok.” Marianne smiled and leaned toward him, reaching out with a hand to touch his chin and get him to turn and face her. He did so reluctantly, unable to meet her eyes. She kissed him briefly and smiled as he raised his head to look at her. “I would never judge you on something like that.”


“I judge myself enough. That is why I am not a fan of alcohol in general. I can’t risk stupidity like that.” Bog rumbled.


“I love you.” Marianne smiled.


“I love ye too.” Bog returned the smile halfheartedly, then kissed her again. It did a lot to shift his mood away from being upset and embarrassed back to warm and happy.  “Ok, we’re going to go look at two more venues, and I’m going to show ye the farmhouse my family lived in when there were a lot more of us. We live in town now, only because it’s just my mom and me. Most of my extended family lives in Ireland and Scotland.” Bog started the car.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Sunny and Dawn arrived back at home to find Arawn sitting on their porch with Titania lying at his feet. Dawn bounced up the steps and threw her arms around Arawn. “I didn’t expect to see you back!” She laughed, hugging him tightly.


“How long were you waiting?” Sunny joined them a moment later.


“An hour or so.” Arawn shrugged, reaching out to hug Dawn back. “How’s my favorite wee lass today? Bright and cheerful as usual, I see?”


“Should I tell him?” Dawn giggled at Sunny. Her cheeks were flushed, and she was absolutely glowing.


“Only if you think your dad won’t be upset.” Sunny replied with a grin. “We were out for Dawn’s orientation at her new job and to go see a doctor.”


“Oh?” Arawn was a little confused about how seeing a doctor would have Dawn so happy. She had always been a happy child, but doctors were never something that put a smile on her face.


“I’m pregnant!” Dawn giggled with glee. “Doctor said I’m due on July 7th.” It took a moment for the news to register. The Arawn laughed and rose to give Dawn a better hug.


“Congratulations! That’s great news!” Arawn let go of Dawn and held out his hand to Sunny. “Congratulations.” Sunny took his hand, and Arawn pulled him in for a congratulatory hug and pat on the back. 


“Thanks, Arawn.” Sunny chuckled nervously. Arawn had always been an intimidating man to be around, even though he had always been friendly to Sunny.  If he wasn’t around Marianne or Dawn, he was the type of person that walked around with a permanent scowl on his face, looking at everyone with suspicion.


“I came back because I need ta talk ta Marianne. Where is she?” Arawn focused on Sunny.  Dawn scratched Titiantia on the chest and belly so vigorously the Hellhound was kicking both back legs in the air with pleasure.


“She left this morning with Bog to go into town to make wedding arrangements and look at venues.” Sunny replied quickly. “They won’t be back for hours, and I think Marianne’s going home to talk to her dad.”


“I need ta talk ta Marianne,” Arawn repeated with a scowl. “I’ve been trying ta call her, but she isn’t picking up. Do ye have Bog’s number?”


“No. We don’t.” Sunny grimaced. “We should get it.”


“What are they driving?”


“I think it’s Bog’s black CR-V.”


“Ok.” Arawn nodded. “Titania, why don’t ye stay here?”


“Happily.” She grinned, snuggling up to Dawn.


“What’s his last name, Sunny?” Arawn had been given his name by Marianne but wanted to make sure.


“Laird. It’s Bogdan Laird.”


Arawn left in a hurry and got into his car.  He intended to pull up Bog’s license plates to find the number to make it easier to pick his car out from the multitude of other CR-Vs he had seen in town. The Hunter database had access to government databases. Arawn had a tablet with an application that allowed him to retrieve that information.


The license plate number was easy to get, then Arawn realized he had no idea what Bogdan Laird looked like. He pulled up his driver’s license and froze. It was like looking into a mirror. Arawn enlarged the image to pick out the features better.  He had the same bright blue eyes, sharp, high cheekbones, pointed nose, jawline, and even expression that Arawn often found on his face. The look of someone who was tired and going along with whatever life put in his way.


Arawn could feel memories trying to surface, but they would not be opened to him by a photo. Still, he was a step closer. Closer than a step. Arawn read through Bog’s information on file a then clicked on his mother. He got the same feeling looking at her image. Memories. Right there, but inaccessible. She had the red hair, freckles, and brown eyes that Arawn had written down from his dreams.


“They’re right here.” Arawn set the tablet aside and got out of his car. He shakily started toward the Laird’s house, breaking into a run as he reached the steps. He hesitated, then pushed the doorbell and waited. Nobody came to the door, and Arawn sighed. He would go on his original plan of finding Bog and Marianne in town.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog and Marianne were already out of town by the time Arawn was going down Main looking for them. “You need a charger in your car.” Marianne picked up her phone and saw that she had two missed calls from Arawn, but the battery was weak. The screen went dark.


“Or ye could make sure to charge yer phone at night.” Bog smirked.


“I need a new phone,” Marianne grumbled.


“I’ll get ye one.” Bog offered.


“No. Do not do that.” Marianne scowled. “I can get by with this one.”


“But what if there’s an emergency and someone needs to reach ye with life-changing news?”


“Nobody needs to reach me.” Marianne dropped her phone into the nice deep pocket on the side of her sweater. The pocket reminded her of a question she wanted to ask Bog. “When you change, what happens to the stuff that’s on you? Not just your clothes, but your phone and ring?”


“It’s a passive ability. Clothes dissipate and regenerate with practice. T-shirts, jeans, those things are simple and easy to do that with. I would take off an expensive suit or anything I wouldn’t want to ruin.” Bog began explaining. “My phone and ring go into a kind of pocket until I shift back.”


“Interesting.” 


“It is, but I don’t understand how it works. Most of that knowledge was lost.” Bog glanced at Marianne. “And I’m taking ye to see someone special if ye won’t be afraid of her.”


“Her?”


“Yes. Ye know what familiarses feralis are. Do ye know where they come from?” Bog kept his eyes on the road. They were nearing the farmhouse.


“Yes.” Marianne nodded, her eyes widening. “You, you have one?”


“The Arcadians have Arcadis and their great mother.  They attacked and destroyed Lycea and killed ours, scattering my people around the world.” Bog began. “Before they did, and I am trusting ye with this, Marianne, my family stole an extraordinary egg. One is laid by the Mother on occasion. It’s a duplicate of herself with all her memories in case something happens to her. It’s a fail-safe to make sure that they are never truly lost.”
Marianne stared, letting what Bog was saying sink in. She had no idea that this was something that happened. The Arcadis mother had not been awake in her lifetime. She never gave her much thought, because they lived outside of Arcadis. This was a huge secret.


“She’s bigger than an elephant and looks like an eastern dragon.” Bog turned onto the road that led to the farmhouse. “Would ye like to meet her? She has requested that both of us go before her. Together.”


This was an earnest request.  When the Arcadis mother awoke, any Arcadian that had been born while she was asleep would be taken to her to be examined and presented. It was never private. Only the highest-ranking Arcadians met with her in private.


“Yes.” Marianne nodded. This would be a great honor.

-=-=-=-=-=-

It took twenty minutes to get to Amber’s cave. The walk was a nice one. It was almost 4 in the afternoon, and there was a cool breeze, but it wasn’t too bad. They strolled was over mostly smooth ground, and they held hands the entire time. They didn’t talk. Instead, they enjoyed the sound of leaves rustling around them.


When they reached the cave, Marianne began to get nervous. This was the Lycean mother. It was not the Arcadian one. She began to think she should back out of the presentation for now, but then they stepped into the chamber.


Amber was waiting for them. She was lying in front of the fire, watching the entrance of the cave. The golden creature rose and stretched, her long body moving with a primal grace. She yawned and shook her head. “Good afternoon, Bogdan.”


“Amber.” Bog kept walking closer, and Marianne went with him, staring at the creature in awe. “This is Marianne.”


Amber made a low purring noise, laying down to let them approach. She was careful to keep her head at Marianne’s level so she could see her eye to eye. “Welcome, Marianne. I am glad that Bog finally found you.”


They stopped in front of her. Amber’s eyes were fixed on Marianne for the moment. Bog could see little flickers of fear in Marianne’s eyes as she regarded Amber. There was silence.


Ten seconds. Bog saw Amber’s eyes narrow, and her neck puffed out in anger. Her lips curled back, and she snapped at Marianne, but Bog had already acted. He grabbed Marianne in his arms and carried her out of Amber’s reach. Marianne had no idea what was going on.


“Amber!” Bog yelled, backing toward the entrance. “What is wrong with ye?!”


“Leave!” Amber roared. “I do NOT accept her! Get out of my sight!” A loud clap of thunder shook the cave. Every bit of fur on Amber was upraised, and her eyes had gone from blue to white. Electricity arced over her body, and she slammed a forefoot into the ground.


Bog scowled. He had not expected Amber to reject Marianne and could not figure out why. He had told her she was a human. She had seemed okay with that. Now, he needed to get Marianne out of here. Bog carried Marianne out of the cave. She didn’t protest until they stepped outside and walked into a heavy rainstorm.


“It was clear when we went in!” Marianne lifted a hand to cover her face.


“Amber can do this. She can alter the weather over our town. Normally, it’s not like this!” Bog set out in a run for his car, still carrying Marianne. He could make the distance much faster than she could.


What had she done? Marianne tucked her head next to Bog’s as water poured over them. She knew the answer to that question. The Lycean Mother had detected she was an Arcadian. She felt awful about it. Maybe if she had told Bog beforehand, this wouldn’t have happened.


Lightning flared overhead and crashed nearby. It took bog less than five minutes to reach the car. He was encouraged to move fast by the massive amount of lightning and heavy rain. Bog put Marianne down to open the door for her, then once she was inside, he closed the door and rushed to the driver’s side.


Marianne was shaking, and her sweater was soaked with water. Bog sighed and turned the car on. He set the heat on high and pulled off his scarf and sweater. “Marianne, get yer sweater off and get warmed up.” Marianne made a face at him. Bog nodded, seeing that wouldn’t actually help. “Ok.” He pulled the car as close to the house as he could get, then reached into the backseat to retrieve his sweater. “Go up on the porch. There’s power in the house and a dryer in the basement. I’ll be there in a moment.” Bog handed Marianne his sweater.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Marianne shivered uncontrollably as Bog unlocked the door to the house.  He had spent several minutes in the rain trying to figure out which rock at the side of the house the spare key was hidden under. Marianne walked into the darkness and the smell of a house that nobody had lived in for years.


Bog flipped the lights on. “Ok. Basement is this way. Ye get undressed and put yer clothes in the dryer.” Bog led the way, keeping himself distracted from what he was saying by talking. It also kept him from paying attention to how cold he was.  The wind had taken on a fierce chill, and he wasn’t sure if having a wet sweater on would be better or worse than freezing cold skin. “I’m going to turn on the fireplace, get some towels and a blanket so ye can get warm while I wait for the dryer to finish. Shouldn’t take long. It’s one of those industrial ones.”


“I’m sorry, Bog.” Marianne whispered, following him to the basement. “About Amber.”


“I’m going to have a talk with her later, Marianne.” Bog grumbled. “Don’t worry about it. I do not care what she has to say about us.” He pushed the door open to the utility room and pushed the door open. “I’ll be right back.”


Marianne nodded, stepping past Bog. He closed the door behind him, and Marianne sighed.  She tossed his sweater into the dryer and began undressing as fast as she could with trembling fingers.  Something that should have been special was ruined by her.  Marianne knew that Mothers were powerful, but what was going on outside was beyond her. Thunder shook the house, and even in the basement, she could hear the wind howling outside.


Bog knocked on the door several minutes later and slipped a couple of towels and a heavy furry blanket to her. They switched places with Bog, completely ignoring her in passing. Marianne wanted to say something but wasn’t sure what would help. She decided they would talk later. Right now, she needed a warm fire.

-=-=-=-=-=-

The farmhouse was massive, with at least three floors. It was clean and dust-free but still had that empty smell to it. She easily found the living room with a lit fireplace. Bog had pulled a loveseat closer to the fire. Marianne settled into it and stared into the warm crackling flames. She could still hear the storm outside.


She wasn’t sure how long it took to stop shivering. Part of her wished that Bog had joined her, even though she understood why he didn’t. He was a gentleman. Her eyes traveled around the room. The rest of the furniture was covered with plastic. Then she looked above the fireplace and stared.


There was a large portrait of a much younger looking Arawn, Bog’s mother, and a baby she assumed to be Bog. It brought a smile to her face. Arawn would fix everything.

-=-=-=-=-=-

“Marianne.” Bog found her asleep on the couch. He reached out to touch her exposed shoulder. She groggily looked up at him. “Marianne. Clothes are dry. We need to get out, so ye get to yer dad’s on time.” He laid her now dry clothes in front of her and turned. “I think there are raincoats in the hall closet. Call me when yer dressed.”


Marianne snapped awake and began dressing. She wasn’t sure what time it was, but she was sure it was later than she wanted it to be. It didn’t take long. She called for Bog, and he immediately came into the room with a raincoat on and offered one to Marianne. Bog turned off the fire while Marianne slipped the raincoat on, then both hurried to the front door.


Bog swung the door open and immediately began swearing. A foot of snow covered the porch. Big thick flakes were falling. The thunder had died down, but the wind was still howling overhead. “Careful. I’m sure there’s ice under it.” Bog growled, locking the door. He put the key under a corner of the doormat.

-=-=-=-=-=-

The drive back to town was slower than either of them wanted, but the roads were slick. The snow kept falling. It would have been pretty if they hadn’t known what was causing it. “Ye won’t have time to get yer car. I’ll switch out for one of my other ones and let ye take this one. It’s safer than yers anyway. The weather shouldn’t be as bad the further away ye get.”


Marianne nodded and smiled. “You trust me with it?”


“Don’t go wild. 4 wheel drive doesn’t mean ye go speeding.” Bog glanced at her and smiled. “I trust ye.”

-=-=-=-=-=-

Soon, Marianne was on her way to see her father in the CR-V, and Bog was heading back to the farm in the Challenger. He passed a single car on the road and didn’t notice the vehicle turn around to follow him. 


Snow fell gently over the city when Marianne reached her family home. She was a little late, but given the freak snowstorm, that was to be expected. She knew her father would understand.


He greeted her at the door with a hug and asked her how her drive was. Marianne happily hugged him back, letting him know that it wasn’t too bad. Then they went into his office to talk.


“What is this business with Arawn?” Lucas Summers inquired curiously as he settled into a leather chair in front of his desk. He motioned to his daughter to take the other one.


“I’m trying to figure out the best way to ask this.” Marianne ran her fingers anxiously through her hair. “Did he disappear 43 years ago?”


“Uh. He did. We don’t talk about that.” Lucas looked uncomfortable.


“Why?”


“He was gone for seven years, Marianne. When they found him, his memory had been erased of that entire time.”


“When did they find him?”


“I’ll have to check. I don’t remember the exact day.” Lucas began to get up to go to the computer that was on his desk.


“October 23rd.” Marianne smiled at her father. Her father stared at her, then a few minutes later, nodded. 


“How did you know? It was 36 years ago. He doesn’t talk about it.” Lucas frowned.


“Please don’t say anything until I’m done.” Marianne began telling her father the story Bog had told her of what happened to his dad.  Lucas’ eyes grew bigger with each passing minute as he realized where Marianne was going with the story.


“Bogdan Laird is Arawn’s son,” Lucas muttered in disbelief when Marianne finished. “The memory wipe was to hide that fact.”


“But why would anyone wipe his memory?” Marianne sought her father’s advice now. “Should we tell Arawn? I know I can’t tell Bog if Arawn doesn’t know. It would kill him to know his father is alive and doesn’t know who he is.”


“We didn’t wipe his memory, Marianne. There’s no record of anyone doing it, and it would be there. He wasn’t punished or anything like that. We were looking for him because he went missing.” Lucas looked back at his computer screen and the report detailing what happened that day. “And you know how Arcadians are with paperwork. It would be there. Someone else wiped it.” He turned the monitor around to show Marianne the report.


“Then I should go to Arawn and tell him he has a son and a wife and where to find them?” Marianne read over the report, skimming for the details. Everything matched what Bog had told her. Arawn was reported as a mystery case along with the group of Enforcers who tracked him down. There was no mention of Bog or his mother. 


The thought occurred to Marianne that it was Bog’s mother who had wiped his memory, but that didn’t fit with Bog’s account. She had left with him. Lucas Summers got up and walked back around the desk to sit in his chair.


“Bogdan Laird is half Lycean and half Arcadian, and he doesn’t know it.” Lucas smiled and sighed. “That’s really funny.” Marianne looked at her father in bewilderment. “I’m sorry, Marianne. You weren’t supposed to ever find out that your mother was a Lycean as well. You are the same as he is.” Marianne stared in shock. “I’m sorry,” Lucas repeated.


“What?” Marianne finally ventured.


“Arawn erased that part of you,” Lucas mumbled in shame. “You see, there is a lot of mixed blood in our bloodline. We don’t live in Arcadis for that reason. We don’t present ourselves to the Arcadis mother.”


“She didn’t reject me because I’m Arcadian.” Marianne gasped. “She rejected me because I was lying to Bog by not telling him the truth!”
“Who? Who rejected you?” Lucas scowled in confusion.


“The Lycean mother, Amber!” Marianne quickly explained and was gratified by the look of awe on her father’s face.


“That’s good news.” Her father smiled, then added. “You need to get home and tell Bog the truth, all of it. Then you need to tell Amber the truth, so she stops this crazy weather.”


“I will.” She got up and threw her arms around her father, squeezing him tightly. “I love you, Dad.” Marianne bounced back and froze. “Does this mean we have your blessing?”


“It does.” Lucas smiled, then frowned. “Marianne, while I’m telling you things I’ve been keeping from you. You and Dawn have Arcadian and Lycean abilities. Your mother had Arawn seal the Lycean side away while you were children for your safety.”


“Wait. Does that mean I can shift??” Marianne looked hopeful.


“No.” Lucas shook his head. “You can’t, but the things you inherited from your mother, they should not have come through at all. Arawn suspected it was because there had been so much Lycean blood in our genetics. I certainly don’t have any Lycean abilities.” Lucas glanced out the window at the falling snow.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog grumbled as he stormed into Amber’s cave. He would not have done this with Marianne nearby, but by himself, he would fight her if he had to. He hoped he wouldn’t have to. 


“Amber!” Bog entered the chamber and kept walking. The massive creature turned to face him, her ears back and muzzle wrinkled in annoyance. Then she lowered her head to his level. She remained in her nest of pillows and blankets.


“It’s cold outside.” Amber glanced aside.


“No kidding. Ye made it that way! How dare ye try to bite my wife!” Bog shouted.


“You haven’t taken her, so she’s not technically your wife yet.” Amber swung her head toward Bog. Her blue eyes narrowed on him. “That is the original way to seal your commitment.”


“I love how ye choose to say it that way.” Bog stood inches from Amber’s muzzle. “Take. I will not take what is freely given when the time is right.  I’m not ready for that.  Now, why did ye reject her?”


“Do you honestly want to know?” Amber recoiled and bared her teeth at Bog. “You can end it now and be better for it. She is a liar. Her entire family is full of LIARS. She has been lying to you, which means she does not trust you with the truth. If she were not a liar, I would have no problem with her. With her, you will be amazing.” Amber snapped her jaws shut with a click and looked like she hadn’t meant to say that.


“Amber. I want to know what she lied to me about. I want to know now.” Bog stood firm. He could take whatever it was. He would not leave Marianne. He had told her he loved her and would never leave her. He would keep his word.


“She’s an Arcadian.” Amber hissed. “She should have told you what she was when you told her you were a Lycean.”


Bog’s expression dropped. He had not expected that to be what the problem was.  Then a wave of prickly heat passed over him along with every single word he had said freely in front of Marianne concerning how much he hated Arcadians. He had said those words and hadn’t paid attention to her face or how she reacted to them. Bog had missed every clue that was right in front of him.


He took a deep breath, trying to push the image of Marianne’s face out of his mind. She had lowered her head every time and looked away from him, and it made him feel awful. “Amber. Ye don’t understand. It’s my fault. I have said some awful things about Arcadians in front of her. I should have figured it out on my own.’


Amber puffed up and looked annoyed that Bog wasn’t angry. “She still lied to you.”


“And I didn’t come right out and tell her I was a Lycean until I had no choice.” Bog pointed out. “I was willing to keep it a secret from her for the same reason she would keep that from me. I was afraid of scaring her away.”


“You’re making excuses for her.” Amber snorted.


“If I bring her here and she apologizes to you, will ye reconsider?” Bog held out his hand palm up, making a beckoning motion with his hand.


“Her family is full of liars.”


“What are they lying about?”


Amber lowered her head to allow Bog to rub her chin. “She identifies as an Arcadian. She is half Lycean and does not appear to know it.” Bog was silent, letting the words sink in. Marianne was half Lycean? “She is the start of something new to this world. An entirely new race.”


“Amber. You see the world in black and white. Sometimes it is, but in this case, ye need to understand that I love her, and forgiveness is a virtue.  Ye judge without any room to understand and forgive.” Bog scowled at her. “Ye know a lot, but ye could stand to spend more time in the real world among actual people. People are idiots. We make mistakes thinking we’re doing the right thing to save someone else’s feelings. There are people in the world who have to lie to save other people’s lives. I don't always know what's right, but I do my best with what I know.”
Amber snorted in response. 


“I’ll be back with Marianne another day. Ye better behave yerself.” Bog glared at her again, tapping his fingers on her nose. “I mean it. I’ll be sending up nothing but old chickens next time ye wake up.”


“I hate chickens.” Amber lifted her lips back in disgust. “Too many feathers.”

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog got out his phone to call Marianne the moment he stepped out of Amber’s cave and into the snow. Her phone rang and went to voice mail immediately. Bog grumbled, realizing that it was likely dead. He could leave a message in case she got it on a charger before he got home. He wanted her to know that he knew as soon as possible.


“Marianne. I love ye. I love ye so much. Nothing can change that, my love. I am so sorry for what I did to ye every time I said something about Arcadians. Amber told me the truth, and I wish ye had said something to me. I will never leave ye. I love ye.” Bog stopped speaking, catching an overpowering smell that immediately curled his lip. “Marianne. Roland is here. RUN!” 


The darts struck Bog in the shoulder and chest. He glanced down at them, bewildered by the fact that he had actually been shot. The effect was immediate and overwhelming. He felt heavy and dropped the phone. Bog plucked one of the darts out and tossed it aside. He began speaking an equation to counter them. Whatever was in them was strong, but he was not going to be taken easily.


Bog shifted into his hybrid form, preparing to fight. He glanced around for the people who were stalking him. He bristled and raised his hackles, unsure of where to go. These people were nearby, and he was at a disadvantage. His black fur stood out against the white snow, making him an easy target. He couldn’t go into his smaller wolf form, because he would be slowed down by the snow. In his hybrid form, a blend of man and wolf, he could move faster. The disadvantage was he was even easier to see.


With a snarl, Bog chose a direction and plowed through the snow on all fours. He was hit by more darts and still couldn’t see where they were coming from. He had to lead them away from Amber’s cave. That was a priority. They couldn’t find her.


One of the brothers grabbed Bog’s phone from the snow in his pursuit. His hunter gear was patterned to camouflage his form against the snow. He didn’t bother with the cave. Their mission was to capture Bog. Nothing else was important. He pocketed the phone and trudged after the fleeing Lycean, lining up another shot.


From a safe distance away, Roland had Bog in his crosshairs, and unlike his three friends, he intended to slow this beautiful prize down with a silver-tipped bullet. He had no intention of killing him. This was an attempt to capture a very rare specimen.


Roland took the shot.


Bog was thrown off his feet as the round caught him in the right side of his chest. He rolled into the snow gasping for air. Everything was on fire, and he knew he was about to die. He could see flecks of his blood on the snow and could feel the sudden warmth flowing over his chest. Bog could not speak to do anything about it.


“Get him now!” Roland yelled as the hunters converged on Bog. “Get that bullet out of him. We don’t want him dying.” The trio of brothers reached out to touch Bog, one after the other.


Bog’s world plunged into darkness, followed by silence. Then the last hand that laid on him froze him in place. He was dimly aware, slowly fading into a pain-filled sleep.  His final thoughts were hopeful that Marianne would get his message and be able to get away before Roland found her. He desperately prayed for her safety as he slipped into darkness.


“Keep your hand on him, Coy,” Roland ordered. 


“Don’t have to tell me twice!” The green-eyed brother was helping the others roll Bog onto his back. “Got more tranquilizers, Symon?”
“The bullet needs to come out first, Coy.” The brown-eyed brother grumbled, holding up a syringe. “He can’t heal until it’s out, and if I give him too much, he’ll die.”


“Can’t have that. Oran, get the bullet out.” Roland reached out to lift one of Bog’s eyelids. The eye had rolled back into his head, and he could only see white.


“Working on it, Boss.” Oran was running his hand over Bog’s chest. The bullet had entered in an angle and traveled all the way down to his waist. Oran hated to imagine what kind of damage something like that did, but he had to remove the bullet. He made a split decision to draw it directly out of his waist. It would tear a lot of muscle, but Bog would heal. This way would get it out faster. Oran spoke an equation to draw the bullet out, and it popped out in a spurt of blood. Oran caught it and held it up. “Got it.”


Bog’s body shuddered, and he sighed. Roland smirked, digging into a leather bag he had been carrying. “Let me get to his head.” The three brothers shifted around to let Roland get closer. He fixed a muzzle around Bog’s head, one which had strips of silver over and under the cage that went over Bog’s nose. It didn’t touch him as long as his mouth was closed.


Roland handed a set of cuffs to Oran and another to Symon. “Get his wrists and ankles. Then we’ll get him to the car.” Roland stood up with a satisfied smirk. The cuffs were engineered to keep a Lycean under control. Their hands and legs had to be held close together, or a bolt of silver would press against their skin. If he shifted, the cuffs would adjust on their own to keep him contained.


Bog had no idea what was happening. He was aware that he didn’t actually die. The bullet was gone, and he was healing, but he still could not see, hear, or move. Then he felt a pinch, and sleepy warmth overtook him.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Marianne shivered without reason. She was almost home and had the oddest feeling. Something was wrong. She couldn’t figure out what it was, but something was not right. She had an increased urgency to get home, plug her phone in, and try to call Bog. 


The trip through town took far longer than Marianne wanted it to. The snow had stopped falling, but the roads were awful, and it was dark. There were people out.  Marianne saw wolves, pumas, deer, and a variety of other creatures that she knew were not native running in the snow in a confused looking manner. What was going on? They looked like they were trying to find something.


When she finally arrived at her house, she was surprised to pull up behind Arawn’s car. The snow was piled upon it, and it appeared he had been there for a while. The lights in Bog’s home were out. The porch light was on because it had a light sensor on it, but there wasn’t another light on in the house. It was disturbing.

-=-=-=-=-=-

“I’m home.” Marianne stepped into the living room to see Arawn sitting on the couch, waiting for her. Sunny and Dawn where nowhere to be seen, but Marianne could hear the tv in the den. 


“Do ye not answer yer phone anymore?” Arawn scowled at Marianne. He didn’t get up, but Marianne noticed he was wringing his hands in frustration.


“It died.” Marianne held it up. “I’m going to go plug it in.” She walked through the living room and into the kitchen. “Want me to listen to the messages, or do you want to tell me what’s going on?” She plugged it in and held it, waiting for enough charge to turn it on so she could call Bog.


“Marianne. Can ye come here for a moment? I have something ta tell ya.” Arawn called from the living room.


“I have something important to tell you, too, Arawn.” Marianne sighed and set her phone down. It would take a few minutes.


“Ye first.” Arawn motioned for Marianne to sit next to him. She sat down and turned to face him.


“I don’t know if you want to know this or not,” Marianne began carefully. “If you don’t want to know who they are, I won’t tell you.”


“Bogdan Laird is my son, and his mother is my wife.” Arawn grinned, beating Marianne to the news. Marianne stared at him. “I always knew ye were a clever lass!” Arawn laughed. “Ye should come to work with me in investigations.”


“I’m glad you know.” Marianne sighed in relief.


“I know, but I can not remember them until I see them and look in their eyes. Neither Bogdan or Zelda have been home all day. I’ve been watching.” Arawn grumbled.


“Bog’s mom was spending the day out with friends, but Bog should have been home by now.” Marianne got up again and went back to the kitchen to check her phone. Arawn got up to follow her.


“Marianne, I have to tell ye something else.”


“One moment.” Marianne’s phone lit up. “I need to call Bog.” She waited a moment and saw a message. “I have a message from him.” She lifted the phone to her ear and listened.


Arawn watched with concern as Marianne’s face went from smiling because she was hearing Bog tell her he loved her to a sudden stream of tears. Then she began breathing in panicked gasps. “Marianne?”


“Roland. Roland has Bog. I just know it!” Marianne handed her phone to Arawn so he could hear the message. She grabbed a box of tissues off the cabinet and began wiping her eyes, trying to stop the tears.


“We don’t know that for sure.” Arawn scowled at the phone, then handed it back to Marianne. “Try to call him.”

-=-=-=-=-=-

Roland was sitting in a chair with a smug grin on his face. It was a small concrete room in the basement of a house the Kane brothers used in the city. There was an iron cage taking up half the room. The iron had silver mixed into it to contain what was in it. Right now, Bog occupied the cage, still in his hybrid form. He was asleep in one corner, laying on a cot that was too small for him. It was the only area that kept him from touching any silver.


There was a small table against one wall. On it was an electric prod, several bladed weapons, and a long rod with a silver spearhead. Bog’s phone had also been placed on it. It began ringing. Roland picked it up and answered the call, curious to see who was calling for his captive.


Bog groggily raised his head and growled. He was still suffering the effects of the tranquilizers. It wasn’t clearing his system as fast with the far worse physical injuries demanding his energy.


“Hello?” Roland answered the call. He heard a gasp on the other end.


“Roland. You need to let Bog go.”


“Who is this?”


Arawn grabbed the phone from Marianne’s hands before she could reply. He shook his head at her and took over the call. “Roland. This is Arawn. Ye need to let that Lycean go. Now.”


“Oh, hello, Arawn.” Roland chuckled into the phone. “Thank you so much for leading me right to a Rex Regis Lycean!”


“Roland. I am warning ye. That particular Lycean is under my jurisdiction, and I do not give ye permission to hold him.” Arawn snarled into the phone. “Do not mess with me, Kid, I will find ye.”


“Doubt it.” Roland dropped the phone and brought his heel down on it.


Bog closed his eyes and laid his ears back, momentarily trembling. Even in his sleepy state, he had heard that voice clearly, and he couldn’t believe it. He had said his name, and Roland had repeated it. His father was somehow alive, and he was coming for him. This had to be a nightmare. Arawn was alive.

Chapter Text

November 12

 

Zelda prowled around the outskirts of the city in her hybrid form. Being Bog’s mother, she had a stronger connection to him than any other Lycean. Zelda bolted in her son's direction the moment he  was darted the first time. She had been too far away to reach him, and the snow slowed her down, but her senses pointed her in the right direction.

 

First, she knew she was heading to the farmhouse. Then Bog’s position changed. He had to be in a vehicle, and it was going through town. Bog's direction changed, heading to Rock Castle. Zelda ran for over an hour and lost direction suddenly . She kept going, following her instincts. Bog was somewhere in the east side of the city.

 

She had to be careful. She knew there were hunters in the city. She had to keep out of sight and alert. She would find her son and kill anyone who harmed him.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Marianne played the message over and over until Arawn took the phone from her. “This isn’t helping. Try ta get some sleep. At least we know Roland doesn’t remember ye.”

 

“He has Bog.” Marianne sobbed. “And Roland is just awful! I know what he’s done to Lyceans he’s captured!”

 

“Try not to think about it.” Arawn wrapped an arm over Marianne’s shoulders. “Bogdan is valuable to Roland. He’s not going ta kill him.”

 

“No, but he’s going to torture him. We have to do something.” Marianne took a deep breath. “We have to go find him!”

 

“Sleep.” Arawn dragged his fingers over the side of Marianne’s head, and she slumped against him. “Sorry about that, Marianne, but ye need ta sleep, or ye won’t be any use when I need ya.” He got up and eased Marianne down on the couch. Sunny and Dawn had been told what was going on and had retreated to their bedroom for the night. Arawn leaned down to kiss Marianne on the forehead. “Sorry, Lass. We’ll get him back. I swear it to ye.”

 

Arawn turned off the light and walked to the room that had been prepared for him. He didn’t intend to get any sleep until he had worked out where Roland could be. The city would be the obvious place to look. The Summers had set up a Hunter hub there where Arcadians tended to gather.  The city  was made up of retired hunters, those with families or hunters wanting a safe place to live outside of Arcadis .

 

Roland was an idiot as far as Arawn was concerned . All Arawn had to do was research any property Roland had, and any that belonged to his three men. Since he had seen them, he knew they  were involved . Roland wasn’t nearly as smart as he thought he was.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

“Why isn’t he up?!” Marianne was down in the kitchen before 7 and annoyed that Arawn was still sleeping. She was full of anxious energy and had woken up on the couch in the den following a nightmare involving Roland doing awful things to Bog . She wanted to hear his voice, but Arawn had taken her phone with him into his room.

 

“He was up late last night.” Titania yawned, joining Marianne in the kitchen. She sat at Marianne’s feet. “If you’re making coffee, I would like a cup. Black. No sweetener.”

 

Marianne sighed and went to her coffee pot. She had to be patient, and patience was not one of her virtues.

 

Bog awoke to darkness. His body felt awful and stiff as he tried to find a more comfortable position on the cot. With a groan, he shifted from his hybrid form into his more natural human one. His mind was clear, and his body had healed the worst of his injuries.

 

Now, Bog was alone with his thoughts. He  was trapped . There was no way out. He attempted to remove the muzzle strapped to his head and managed to get it to slide off. He triggered the handcuffs several times in the process and was rewarded with sharp pain and blinding shock as the silver stabbed into both wrists .

 

He had shocked himself several times in the night on both his arms and legs while he was trying to sleep and heal. He had figured out how far he could move and was disheartened by how limited that distance was. Bog played with the cuffs, half shifting to test what they did as his forearms changed size. He figured out there was a delay in their size adjustment . They  were meant for common Lyceans.

 

Before he had time to put it to the test, the door opened. Roland stepped inside with a fast food bag in hand. He smiled at Bog. “Good morning.” Bog glared at him.

 

Roland opened the bag and placed a couple of wrapped sandwiches on the table and a box of hash browns. Bog began salivating immediately. Healing took a lot of energy, and he had not eaten since noon the previous day. Roland sat down, unwrapped one sandwich, and began eating. He leaned back in his chair and propped his legs up on the table.

 

“So, what’s it like being you right now? Are you hungry? Did you heal? How do you get your clothes to regenerate like that?” Roland took slow bites. Bog growled in response and turned his back to him. “What do you think I’m going to do with you?” Roland picked up one of the small daggers. He turned it in his hand and then put it down, making sure it made a loud clanging sound when he did.

 

Bog’s stomach began growling, and he smacked his fist into it to make it stop. He would not give Roland the satisfaction of an answer or a reaction. Bog was hungry and thirsty and realizing how spoiled he was. He had  been raised in a safe home, with a comfortable bed, and a refrigerator stocked full of good food. He worked for what he had and lacked nothing he wanted.

 

Right now. Bog wanted one of those sandwiches and a glass of water. There was no water in his cage. He knew better than to ask. Bog went over the list of things that he had  been taught as a child if he were ever in this kind of situation. Do not talk. Do not make eye contact. Do what your captor tells you to do and keep your mind on one thing and one thing only. Escape the moment you can. Fight if your life is in danger. Escape is your number one mission as a captive.

 

Roland started on the second sandwich. “When I’m done, you and I are going to have a little lesson in who’s the boss, because I am going to train you to be a hunting dog.” Bog scowled, clenching and unclenching his fists. There was no way out. He didn’t want to try to slip the cuffs until he had time to see how fast they adjusted. He would only have one chance to get free.

 

Roland finished his breakfast and picked up the electric prod in one hand and the long poker in the other. Bog heard him moving and readied himself. The door to his cage slid open. Part of him urged him to fight now. The smarter part told him there was no shame in allowing it to happen. Let Roland think he had the upper hand until Bog could make his move.

 

He was not prepared for the pain.

 

“Stand up and face me,” Roland commanded. Bog hated to, but he did it without hesitation. Roland lifted the electric prod and jabbed it at Bog’s chest. Bog staggered back with a yelp, falling against the bars at the back of the cage. His wrists and ankles  were jabbed with the silver points so hard that he crashed to the floor in further pain.

 

“Get up!” Roland poked at Bog with the spear. Bog couldn’t think. Smoke was rising from his body everywhere the silver touched. The rods on the floor were burning into his back.

 

Bog got up, doing his best to avoid stepping on the bars that lined the floor of the cage. He kept his eyes off of Roland and tried to think of better things to take him far from here. His father was alive. He was coming for him. Marianne and her sweet kisses. If he could survive this, he would have her for his entire lifetime, not just the short human years he had thought. Forever! He would have her forever!

 

Roland hit him with the electric prod again, grinning as he brought the larger man to his knees.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Marianne sat down in the living room with her second cup of coffee when the doorbell rang. She set it down and went to see who it was. The mail carrier waved to them from the sidewalk when she opened the door. Marianne looked down to see a box addressed to her from Bog. Marianne stared at the box for a moment. See his name on the label when he wasn’t anywhere nearby brought a fresh round of tears to her eyes.

 

The box was brought inside and set on the coffee table. Marianne sat down and retrieved the small dagger she kept on her out from under her pant leg. She slit the tape with care and lifted the cardboard flaps. There was a card on top of a garment box. Marianne sighed and picked up the card, flipping it over. It read: Sorry about the sweater, Love. Marianne sniffled and fought back the desire to cry.

 

Marianne glanced around the room and listened. Sunny and Dawn were in the den, and Arawn wasn’t up. Marianne lifted the first box out and popped it open to reveal a red sweater with gold maple leaves embroidered on the right side . She smiled at it, placed it back in the box, and set it aside.

 

The next box contained a beautiful gold and cream silk scarf with large maple leaves scattered all over it . Marianne set the box on top of the first and reached in for the last box. It was a shoebox. She lifted the lid and burst into tears. The box contained the exact style of shoe she had bought on Saturday from the boutique. The only difference was that they  were made out of red leather to go with the sweater. She lifted the shoe to her cheek and sobbed uncontrollably . It seemed like such a silly thing to be emotional about, but he hadn’t randomly chosen shoes. He chose something he knew she would like.

 

She made up her mind that as soon as they got Bog home, she was going to wear these for him and never argue with him about buying things for her again . He wasn’t here, and she was terrified about what could be happening to him.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Dawn stared at Arawn when he finally left his room after noon. “You really are Bog’s father?”

 

“I am.” Arawn yawned, helping himself to a glass of milk. He joined Sunny, Dawn, and a very sullen Marianne at the kitchen table. They were finishing lunch. At least Sunny and Dawn were.

 

“Want a sandwich?” Sunny offered, getting up. Arawn still made him nervous, and he was looking for an excuse to not sit by him.

 

“Yes.” Arawn nodded. “Whatever ye have is fine. I’m not picky.”

 

“Could I get my phone back?” Marianne ventured, still looking at Arawn with an irritated expression.

 

“Why? So ye can listen ta that message again and make yerself more depressed?” Arawn shook his head no. “I need ya focused, Marianne. I know where he is, and we’re going ta get him tonight.”

 

The doorbell rang, interrupting the conversation. “I’ll get it!” Dawn bounced up and out of the kitchen.

 

“I just want to hear his voice.” Marianne frowned. “I’m afraid of what Roland is doing to him.”

 

“I know Roland’s type. Young, ego-driven idiots who surround themselves with more capable people.” Arawn scowled.

 

“Uhm, Marianne.” Dawn poked her head into the living room. “We have company. It’s a bunch of Bog’s friends who are looking for him and his mom.” Marianne sighed and got up.

 

Brutus, his brothers, Stuff, Thang, and a couple of other Lyceans and Atlanteans were waiting in the living room . The front door was open, allowing the chilly wind in, and Marianne could see at least another twenty people outside on her porch and in the yard .

 

“Do you know where Bog is?” Brutus spoke up the moment he saw Marianne.

 

“I do. We’re going to get him tonight.” Marianne sighed, knowing what was coming next.

 

“Can we help?” That was Fang, always eager. He stepped ahead of Brutus and looked at Marianne with a look of desperation on his face. “We need to help.”

 

“I don’t know.” Marianne shook her head. “I don’t have all the details.” Their eyes lifted, and a look of confusion and wariness ran over everyone’s faces. Marianne didn’t have to look back. She knew Arawn stood behind her, and she stepped aside to let him speak.

 

“If ye want to help, get yer people to stop running around in their fur. Someone is going to see ya.” Arawn glared.

 

“Arawn.” Marianne smiled, turning to look at him. “Everyone in this town is a Lycean or an Atlantean.”

 

“Oh? I’m guessing I knew that at one time.” Arawn scowled, wishing he could remember. The assembled people were still staring at him.

 

“He’s Bog’s father, Arawn.” Marianne motioned to him. They continued staring in silence.

 

“Uh. We are handling this situation. If we need anyone, we will get ye.” Arawn waved at the door. “Ye should go fer now.” Everyone turned and began filing out the door in silence. Arawn closed the door and grumbled. He looked out into the yard to see the Lyceans had shifted and sat on the snow-covered lawn. The Atlanteans took up position on the perimeter of the yard.

 

“Wow.” Marianne stepped up beside Arawn. “They listen to you, but it looks like they’re very literal.” She figured out who was who easily . Three massive grizzly bears sat together with a small scraggly looking wolf, a stocky jaguar, fitter looking wolves, an eagle, and a stag . “It’s probably better that they’re here than wandering around like I saw them last night.” Marianne pulled the door closed and looked up into Arawn’s troubled face.

 

“If I had my memories, I would be far more help, Lass,” Arawn grumbled. “I have a feeling I would know what ta do with them.”

 

“Can I have my phone?”

 

“No.”

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Bog  was left on his knees with a fun new accessory. An iron collar with silver banding was around his neck. A steel cable connected it to a hook set into the concrete floor near the cage. He was out of the cage, but that was little relief. He was disoriented and hurt all over. If he moved from where he was, the collar would hit his neck and burn. He was too tired to waste energy, figuring out how to move without it hurting him.

 

Roland would leave him alone for a time, then come in for ten to fifteen minutes and taunt him. He would drink water in front of him. Delicious food sat on the table, out of reach next to a glass of water. It  was left there, so Bog could smell it.

 

The instruments that Roland used on him were all silver. Every cut and slice they inflicted took more energy out of Bog than usual to heal, and they hurt. Roland would spend several intense minutes talking down to Bog and strategically injuring him with whatever he had in his hands . The sweater Bog had been wearing was soaked in blood and in tatters. His jeans were in as bad of shape.

 

Bog had figured out what he was doing. Roland was trying to break him. He  was given time for the wounds to stop bleeding, then Roland would return to add more. Bog was stubborn, and he would continue refusing to speak or shift for his tormentor. He feared what new thing Roland would bring down next.

 

Roland was an idiot if he continued coming at Bog this way. Bog took every break to do what Marianne had taught him to control any feelings of panic. He could not lose it in front of Roland. Bog had to remain calm and keep his anger under control. Bog realized the number one reason he shouldn’t speak was that the moment he opened his mouth, he would not be able to resist talking back . He would swear, and inform Roland he had no chance of getting him under his control without killing him first .

 

Bog had to remain calm. He had to endure and let Roland think he was getting somewhere. Deep inside, Bog held himself locked down. He went over all the good things in his life. Things that he had taken for granted. There were many, many of those things. His mother. She was annoying, but she loved him so much. His friends. His people.

 

Then he would return to Marianne and his future with her. He would see that future. And his father. His father was coming for him? His supposedly human father? Bog had so many questions, and he filled his mind with everything that did not involve being held captive at the hands of a psychopath .

 

Bog sighed as he heard laughter coming from outside the door. Roland was back.

 

Roland had a huge smile plastered on his face as he entered the room. He flipped on the light and grabbed his chair. He twirled it around, slammed it in front of Bog with the back facing him. Roland straddled the chair and leaned his arms on the back of it, waving a sheet of paper in front of Bog.

 

“I figured it out.” Roland chuckled triumphantly , flipping the paper around to hold it where Bog could see it. “I can’t believe this. It’s an absolute scandal!” Bog stared at the ground. “Look up, Dog. I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do to your father.” Bog’s head snapped up, and he growled at Roland, fighting a surge of anger that broke free.

 

“Oh. That’s what I thought.” Roland grinned, waving the paper in front of Bog’s face. “Your father is Arawn, the head of Arcadian Special Investigations. That’s why he said you were under his jurisdiction!”

 

Bog began breathing heavily , his eyes fixed on the paper. There was a full-color print of a man who looked like him, but much older. Bog found that he couldn’t remember exactly what his father looked like. He thought it was because he had been a child the last time he had seen him. But there was something else going on in his memories. It was like searching for something you knew, and you just couldn’t reach it.

 

“Your father,” Roland began with delight at the reaction he was getting. “Hunts and kills Lyceans. Lyceans, just like you. He’s an Arcadian. He’s been doing this for hundreds of years. What are you to him? Some bastard offspring?”

 

“Shut up about my father! He was a good man!” Bog couldn’t take it any longer. He lunged forward, grabbing for Roland. The collar burned him, but the rage he had been holding in burst out.

 

Roland leaned back. He knew exactly how far the cable would reach. Bog’s hands fell short of reaching the chair. “A few months ago, he hunted and killed a rogue Lycean panther. Before that, it was a female wolf. This year alone, he has killed half a dozen Lyceans. Just . Like. You.”

 

“You’re lying!” Bog was up, on his feet, ignoring the pain in his neck. He wanted to kill Roland. If he could get his hands on him.

 

Roland got up and placed the sheet of paper on the table. Bog followed him, snarling. Roland smiled and picked up the electric prod. “Back in the cage, Dog.” He ordered, pointing at the entrance. Bog stood his ground, glaring down at Roland defiantly . “In the cage!” Roland jabbed at Bog with the electric prod.

 

Bog jumped back and made his decision. He lifted his hands to the collar and pulled on it as he shifted. Roland stared in astonishment as Bog broke the collar. The cuffs on Bog’s wrists and feet jabbed him but were forced to grow with him as his more lupine features burst forth. “Ye wanted me to shift for ye, so here it is!” Bog’s form filled the room with darkness, and Roland backed away.

 

Then Bog’s form almost seemed to dissipate, snapping down to his smallest form. The massive wolf shifted down into a smaller wolf. He jumped, leaving the cuffs on the floor. The delay allowed them to slip off his paws. Bog snarled and shifted again to his hybrid form. He was going to kill Roland!

 

Roland dropped the electric prod and vanished in a cloud of black smoke and tiny flashes of light. Bog slammed his forefeet into the floor where Roland had been standing, digging massive gouges into the concrete with his claws . Then he went for the door. He had to get out!

 

Roland stared at the door from the other side as Bog rammed into it. He was breathing hard with shock at how close Bog had come to him. That monster was much smarter than he looked. Bog slammed into the door repeatedly with his shoulder, snarling. He raked his claws over the metal, leaving deep gouges.

 

Roland scowled and hit a button next to the door. Then he stood in front of the door and smiled at Bog.

 

On the other side of the door, Bog snarled back. He wasn’t going to break through that door, and he knew it. There was a whirring sound of a fan coming on. Bog had a suspicion about what that meant, so he did the only logical thing he could think about. He turned to the table where there was a full glass of water and a hamburger. Bog shoved the cold burger into his mouth without bothering to chew, then shifted back into a human to down the water . He threw the glass at the door where Roland was still watching him.

 

Bog retrieved the photo of his father that Roland had dropped and walked into the cage. He sat down on the cot, glared at the door for a moment, then he looked at the photo. It was a printout of a screen from the Hunter’s Database. Bog was disheartened to see that everything Roland had said was printed right there.

 

The door to the cage slid shut, and the fans stopped, but Roland did not enter the room. Bog laid on his back, putting his feet on the floor between the bars. He was still a captive, but getting rid of the cuffs and the collar was an improvement. Now Bog had to deal with a churning sensation in his gut brought on by the photo. His father was a hunter. He was coming for him, and now Bog didn’t know if that was good or bad.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Arawn stared at the sword that Marianne had on display in her room. “The only weapons I have are plain long swords, Arawn,” Marianne called from her closet. She rummaged around for anything they could use tonight. “A few smaller swords.”

 

“What about this one?” Arawn removed the sword from the display rack and unsheathed it. He stared down the blade.

 

“Oh, Bog gave that to me.” Marianne poked her head out of the closet to see what Arawn was talking about.

 

“Ye realize this is a channel sword, Marianne?” Arawn held it out and sent a spark of electricity through it. The bolt danced over the blade. “A well made one too.”

 

Marianne stepped out of the closet. “You’re kidding.”

 

“No. I’m not.” Arawn held the sword up. The tiny bolt of blue electricity arced around the blade, traveling around it. Arawn reached out and flicked a finger at it, causing it to disperse a charge of static electricity that made Marianne’s hair stick upright .

 

“Hey!” Marianne reached up to flatten her hair back down and yelped as it shocked her.

 

“Bring it. Ye may need it.” Arawn put the sword back in its sheath and handed it to Marianne.

 

“Bog said he has a friend who makes these, but Lyceans don’t have a use for them.” Marianne stared at the sword in awe.

 

“No, they do not, but do ye know who forged the best of our weapons?” Arawn smirked. “Lyceans were master forgers, and they took that art with them.”

 

“What else do I need?”

 

Hopefully , ye won’t even need that.” Arawn scowled. “Titania is going to transport ye inside and help ye find Bog while your dad and I distract Roland and his friends. This sword should help ye get into wherever he’s being held faster than using your basic abilities.”

 

“If Bog is in bad shape, I’m not going to be able to carry him by myself. He’s too heavy.” Marianne began going through everything that could go wrong.

 

“You won’t have to. Once you have found Bog, Titania will be able to teleport the two of you out.” Arawn stated. “She won’t be able to move anyone else. We must do this with as few people as possible. It’s also important that Roland doesn’t see ye.”

 

“Roland knows who Bog is. He’s going to come after him again.”

 

“I’m going to take care of Roland. Ye are going to take Bog to yer family home, not his home.” Arawn walked past Marianne. “Our plan is simple. We need to keep it simple. Do yer part, and we’ll do our part.”

 

“Arawn. Dad told me my mom was a Lycean, and you locked away Lycean abilities I’m not supposed to have.” Marianne called after him. “Can I have them back? They might be useful.”

 

“Marianne.” Arawn half turned, looking over his shoulder. “They  were sealed for a reason. Now is not the time to explore that side of you. You would  be tempted to use them and could cause more harm to yerself or whomever you used them on than ye intend. When this is over, I will remove the seals.”

 

Marianne walked out into the hall. “What can I do?”

 

“Heal and create. It’s the healing that would be the temptation.” Arawn turned and walked away.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Sunny and Dawn stared at Arawn and Marianne when they prepared to leave the house later that evening. Both dressed entirely in black. Arawn geared up in hunter armor, which made him even more intimidating. Marianne didn’t have any armor on. She had on a black jacket, black fleece-lined leggings, and her broken-in pair of hiking boots. She was holding her sword belt and sword, ready to go. Titania sat at the door with a black vest wrapped around her chest and back.

 

“Good luck.” Dawn hugged Arawn, then Marianne. She wasn’t her usual bouncy self and shifted from foot to foot, biting her lower lip and fidgeting with the hem of her shirt .

 

“Yeah. Good luck.” Sunny hung back, not wanting to get anywhere near Arawn.

 

“We got this.” Marianne gave them an encouraging look.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

They walked out the door to at least a hundred pairs of eyes in the darkness. There were Lyceans and Atlanteans all over the place, waiting. “Uh.” Marianne glanced up at Arawn, who looked at her with a perplexed look on his face. “They listen to you.” She shrugged. Arawn scowled at Marianne and walked past her.

 

“We are going ta get Bogdan back now. Just me and Marianne. We do not need anyone else to accompany us. Ye would get in the way, and we’re going to a dangerous place for ye.” Arawn shouted to the gathered Lyceans and Atlanteans. A mournful cry rose up from them. “If we run inta any problems, I swear ta ye that we will let ya know, but let us do this.”

 

Arawn started down the stairs with Marianne close behind and Titania trailing. They left in Bog’s CR-V with Arawn driving. The gathered Lyceans and Atlanteans began dispersing, except for Bog’s closest friends. They remained by the house.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Bog faced Roland through the bars. He was covered in random slashes again, and his blue eyes were blazing with intense anger. Roland chuckled as he looked for an opening where he could shock Bog with the electric prod. Bog was breathing hard from the exertion, having already been hit by it multiple times. There wasn’t enough room to get out of its range. He had fallen into the bars numerous times and had burns all over his body from them. It was either that or get stuck by the electric prod, or a spear or whatever else Roland jabbed at him.

 

“I should have taken those cuffs off of you earlier. This is far more entertaining.” Roland chuckled as he made contact with Bog’s shoulder. Bog snarled and fell against the bars. The remnants of his sweater caught fire. Bog jerked the tattered garment off. The only reason he had kept it on was it provided some protection from the bars.

 

Roland whistled, stepping back to admire his handiwork now that it wasn’t obscured. Bog scowled and backed into the furthest corner from Roland. There were very few areas on Bog’s torso that did not have a bruise, an electrical burn, or a cut. His arms were covered in them as well. If Bog wasn’t trying to conserve his energy, he would have healed them all immediately.

 

“I’ve made arrangements to move you to a more secure location tomorrow morning.” Roland grinned, slapping the prod into his palm like a baton. “Once I get you registered in the system, there will be no running for you. Everyone will know who you are, so your best bet to survive will be to do as your told.”

 

Bog glared at Roland. “That’s fine. I’ll take my chances. Death would be better than being in your hands.”

 

“How about completely destroying your father?” Roland chuckled. “Imagine what would happen to an Arcadian who has fathered a Rex Regis? He would lose his position. He would be outcast.” Roland ventured down a new avenue, watching Bog’s expression as his words took hold. Even after what Roland had told him to make him angry, it was clear that Bog thought highly of Arawn. “Arcadis doesn’t tolerate traitors, Bogdan. They might even pass a death sentence on him and all because you won’t yield to me.”

 

“Is that too high of a price to pay? I’ll even let you keep your name if you agree to serve me.” Roland walked the length of Bog’s cage, dragging the end of the electric prod over the bars. “I will take care of your needs, and I will not continue what we’ve been doing. Your father will not be able to do anything. Maybe when I grow bored with you, I will give him the opportunity to buy your registration. In a couple hundred years. That’s not long.”

 

Bog kept his eyes on Roland. He didn’t trust him, but if he agreed, it was likely he would leave the area to show him off. He wouldn’t have a reason to stay here. Bog’s town would be safe and everyone in it, including Marianne. A sharp pain went through Bog’s heart at the thought. He would never see her again, but she would be safe.

 

“Think it over.” Roland smiled, striking out with the electric prod one last time. It came nowhere near Bog, but he reflexively jumped back against the cage with a snarl. The moment his back hit the bars, sparks flew, and he bounced forward. He tripped over the bars on the floor and fell across them, getting another shocking jolt. Bog ended up in the middle of the cage in a pained crouch, trying to catch his breath.

 

Roland shook his head and smiled. “I will also let you out of the cage and fit you with a control band with an injection cartridge. It’s an implant with a remote-controlled device that goes on the back of your neck. If you misbehave, I can pump liquid silver into your spine. I’ve heard it’s excruciating for Lyceans and will drop you in seconds.”

 

Bog scowled. His last hope was still his father, and he had a limited window.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

“Go over the plan again, Marianne.” Arawn kept his eyes on the road.

 

“You’re dropping me off a few blocks away with Titania. She’s going to lead me to the back of the house.” Marianne fiddled with a set of goggles in her hands. “Titania will be invisible. I’m wearing these so I can see her, and if I happen to run into Roland, he will not see my eyes.”

 

“No talking to him or touching him either,” Arawn added.

 

“Titania will walk me through the wall, and then we have to find the room they’re keeping Bog in.” Marianne went over the plan. “The room’s walls are made of iron and silver. Titania can not phase through the wall, so I’m to use my sword and abilities to open the door. We’ll get in, get Bog out into the hall, and then Titania can teleport us both outside. If Bog can walk, we’re to get away from the house as fast as we can. If he can’t, Titania is going to teleport him further away, then come back for me.”

 

“Good.” Arawn nodded. “Stick to the plan. On paper, we’re going in ta rescue ye. That’s why yer dad is with us. It will explain away the damage as well.”

 

Marianne nodded and stared out the window. They were in the city now, and in minutes she was going to be dropped off with Titania.

 

“Oh yeah,” Arawn took a moment to slide a ring off his finger. He offered it to Marianne. “This will hide ye from any surveillance. Cameras won’t see ye.” Marianne nodded, taking the ring and slipping it on. It was too big, but before she could slide it off, it adjusted to fit her finger. “One more thing, Marianne. Ye remember the Hunter’s Prayer?”

 

“Uhh, the long one or the short one, because it’s been over a decade since you made me recite it.” Marianne winced in embarrassment.

 

“Kids today.” Arawn sighed and rolled his eyes. “No respect for our traditions.”

 

“Well, to be fair, Dad forbade us from becoming Hunters. You do remember you taught me all that stuff just to make him mad?” Marianne grinned.

 

“I taught ye all that stuff fer yer protection. Lucas can go jump in a lake fer trying to stop me.” Arawn grunted. “I taught him everything he knows so he could be the best hunter of his generation. Ye could be the best of yers. I told ye, I’d like ye to work with me.”

 

“And hunt Lyceans like Bog?” Marianne looked away, worrying her lower lip against her teeth.

 

“No,” Arawn growled, pulling the car off to the side of the road. “That’s not what I do, Marianne.” He turned to look at her with a frown. “Ye know me better than that. Problem Lyceans only, like police take down criminals.”

 

“You’re the judge, jury, and executioner.” Marianne pointed out, getting ready.

 

“We’ll talk about that another time.” Arawn scowled. “Short Hunter’s Prayer, Marianne.”

 

“Fiat Voluntas Dei.” Marianne nodded, reciting the few words that Arawn was demanding. She opened her door and got out.

 

“Fiat Voluntas Dei,” Arawn repeated gravely . “I love ya, Marianne. Stick to the plan. Titania, ye know what ta do.”

 

“Fiat Voluntas Dei,” Titania barked, jumping into the front seat. She vanished from sight, and the only sign she got out of the car was the sound her nails made hitting the sidewalk.

 

Marianne slipped the goggles on, and Titania barked once to let her know where she was. Through the goggles, Marianne could see her, only her view was not of a dog, but a creature made of black smoke. Glittering blue broke through the smoke like cracks, and the form was still canine, but something far nastier . Hellhounds were a fantastic sight to behold in their real forms. They were also terrifying.

 

“This way.” Titania began walking. There was only a thin layer of snow, and her large pawprints singed into it and melted into the shape of a dog’s paw.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Arawn grumbled about kids and tradition and doing his part to see those traditions kept alive . He wondered if he had taught Bog anything along those lines when he was a child. Seeing the younger generation abandoning tradition had made him swear he would pass it on . But with Bog being a Lycean, he would only have taught him the precepts. He would also have had to leave out the ones that dictated their whole reason for being was to cleanse the world of Lycean impurities .

 

There were others, Arawn realized that he would have had to leave out and it made him feel like a hypocrite. What had he done that he could not remember? What had driven him to even be with a Lycean? What was so special about his wife that he had abandoned his life for 7 years to get married and have a son?

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Lucas Summers was waiting in his car in front of the Kane’s home. He had been looking over their file. Three brothers who hunted together, typically with Roland. They were all in their twenties. The two older brothers were twins. Coy had a paralyzing ability, and Symon could rob people of their hearing. The younger brother, Oran, could cause temporary blindness and could see through things. All three of them had enhanced agility. They came from a common family and were nothing special.

 

Arawn rapped on Lucas’ window and stepped back to allow him to open his door. Lucas nodded to Arawn and stepped out of his SUV. He  was geared up the same way Arawn was, in identical black hunter armor. “Surprised it even fits.” Lucas grunted.

 

“Yer fault fer getting fat and old,” Arawn smirked.

 

“How do you keep so thin?” Lucas scowled up at his friend.

 

“Bad genetics.” Arawn shrugged. “Let’s do this.”

 

The pair of them headed up the walkway to the front of the Kane’s house. It was a sizeable ranch-style house, like every other house on the street. It didn’t stand out in any way. Lucas noted that the mustang that had tailed him  was parked in front of the garage. He had the right place. These hunters were idiots. How did they manage to hunt down and kill anything?

 

Arawn and Lucas stopped at the door. Arawn tapped a plate on his left arm. It lit up with the time and showed a scan of the area in blue pinpoints. “4 inside. 2 in the back. 2 in the front. We’re ready.” Arawn slid his hand over the plate erasing the lights. He stepped forward and knocked with the back of his armored hand, loud enough anyone inside would hear . “Open up. Arcadian Special Investigations.” There were crashing sounds coming from the other side of the door.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Roland had been lounging on the couch in the living room watching a movie when the knocking began. Panic set in immediately. He couldn’t be seen here! He got up and ran through the house looking for one of the brothers to answer the door. He found Coy and Symon in the den playing video games. They had heard the knocking and were setting the controllers aside. “I’m not here, you got that!” Roland waved them down the hall.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Marianne walked through the wall and into a dark bedroom with Titania. “Hold on.” The Hellhound whispered. “We’re dropping ten feet into a hall.” Marianne thought she  was prepared , but when she sank through the floor, the sensation of falling into nothingness threw her off . She threw her hands out to send a gust of air around her to soften the landing but still landed hard on her butt. Titania chuckled.

 

They were in a well-lit hallway with several doors in view. Marianne scrambled to her feet and took a deep breath. She could feel Bog was here, nearby. She took a step forward.

 

“He’s this way.” Marianne spun around to face one of the sandy blonde Kane brothers. It was Oran, the one with blue eyes. Titania growled, and the Hunter looked nervously down the hall. “I am not going to stop you. Forgetting you was the best thing that could have happened to Roland. He’s back to being a hunter, and that’s a lot more fun and profitable than hunting you down. Less trouble too.” Oran stepped aside.

 

Marianne regarded him with caution, drawing his sword. Oran motioned to the door again, remaining completely still. Titania snarled, letting him know where she was. “Go, Marianne. We don’t have a lot of time.” Marianne took a breath and flicked her fingers over the blade. Blue and white fire engulfed the sword.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Bog sat on the cot in the dark when the entire room exploded with brilliant light. He looked up to see fire bursting through the door. That was new. Bog stood, eager to see who was on the other end. Within seconds, a huge hole had  been carved into the middle of the door. The metal slab burst inward, and Marianne stepped through the hole. Bog’s heart momentarily stopped at the sight of her, lit up by the flaming sword. He smiled, forgetting he was in a cage, mesmerized. Marianne had come for him, and wow, she was amazing!

 

“Marianne!” Bog called out.

 

“Get back!” Marianne ran toward the cage, lifting her sword. Bog backed away as far as he could and watched appreciatively as Marianne made short work of the bars. They crashed to the ground making a racket when they fell. Bog stepped into the opening, careful to avoid the rolling bars. Marianne hesitated, looking at the injuries covering Bog’s body. “We have to leave now!”

 

Bog nodded, heading to the door.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Zelda lifted her head and snarled. She knew where her son was, and everything told her that she needed to get to him. He wasn’t far. She took off in the direction she sensed he was in. She shifted with each step, growing from her hybrid form to the massive wolf one. She was prepared to fight for her son.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

“I need to speak to Roland.” Arawn glared at the two young men who were making excuses. “Lucas Summers is looking for his daughter, and we have had reports that Roland has managed to locate her.”

 

“I need to speak with Roland immediately.” Lucas scowled at them.

 

“I am not asking politely again before I enter. Make it easier on him. Right now, we just want to talk.” Arawn added. “Hesitate, and I will use force. He disobeyed my order and followed me. Ye do realize following an investigator on a case is grounds fer expulsion from yer guild.” The two brothers looked at each other.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Bog appeared back outside. Titania could only teleport one at a time. “Wait here.” She ordered, then was gone. Bog did not wait. He could hear Lucas and Arawn talking around the corner, and he couldn’t stop himself. He had to see his father. Marianne appeared with Titania a moment later, in time to see Bog running around the corner of the house.

 

“Oh, no!” Marianne and Titania immediately ran after him.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Arawn was preparing to barge through the door when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head and found himself staring into his son’s eyes. They both froze for a moment as memories immediately began filling in. So many memories. “Bogdan, get out of here!” Arawn shouted at him, gesturing for him to leave. He snapped his attention back to the brothers who were backing into the house now.

 

Bog took a step back, breathing heavily as a lot of things were filled in. Memories which made him increasingly angry. Then he saw what he needed to see and turned to the house. Roland was still inside. He was going to destroy this house with him in it, so he could never hurt himself or Marianne again. He lifted his hands and began speaking an equation his father had taught him as a child.

 

“Bog!” Marianne had almost reached him when Titania knocked her down from the back.

 

“Get back, Marianne!” Titania dragged her backward swiftly . Marianne grabbed for something to hold onto. Titania had heard these words before. They needed to clear the area. Electricity arced around Bog’s arms as he spoke, something which should not have happened. Marianne stopped fighting and stared as she was drug away.

 

Arawn glanced back at Bog and saw what was happening. His eyes widened, and he yelled, “Lucas, get away from the house!” Arawn charged at Bog. He had to stop him from finishing the equation! “Bogdan! STOP!”

 

Bog was focused entirely on what he was doing, enjoying the buildup of energy, and harnessing it. He was on the last word when Arawn slammed a fist into his jaw. Electricity exploded outward, rippling up the side of the house and into the ground. Everything it touched ripped open with a loud crack. The entire side of the house caught on fire. Bog went down, stunned. Arawn grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. “Bogdan!”

 

Titania let Marianne go. They were unharmed , but Marianne was shocked at what she had seen. She pushed herself up to her feet and ran toward them. Zelda beat her to them. She emerged out of the darkness with a snarl, leaping for the hunter holding her son, her mouth open. Marianne threw her arms up, sending out a powerful gust of wind that slammed into the massive red wolf and sent her rolling into the street . Arawn turned to look and caught Zelda’s eyes as she rolled to her feet and prepared to attack again. The snarl died in her throat as she recognized him. The rest of Arawn’s memories filled in, and he began laughing.

 

Bog groaned and stirred. “Why did ye hit me?”

 

“Arawn!” Zelda shifted into her human form and ran to him.

 

Lucas followed her, gesturing wildly . “The plan! Get out of here! There will be time enough for this later!” Lucas yelled at them.

 

“Right!” Arawn hauled Bog to his feet and pushed him toward the front of the house and his car. Marianne pushed her goggles up. They had fogged up when Bog set off the lightning.

 

It was a mistake. Roland had relocated outside the house and perched up in the branches of a nearby tree. Marianne glanced around as she followed Arawn and her father, and when she did, she made eye contact with Roland . His eyes narrowed on her and Bog as the memories flooded in. They weren’t going to get away with this.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

“I know I told ye to NEVER use an equation ye have never practiced!” Arawn yelled back at Bog. He was in the driver’s seat, and Zelda was sitting upfront with him. She was hanging off of his arm without a seat belt on.

 

Bog stared at the front seat in silent awe. Marianne was busy trying to get a seat belt on him. She finally managed and slid into the seat next to him, buckling her own. Arawn was driving a little faster than necessary, overcharged with adrenaline.

 

“Where have you been?!” Zelda focused on Arawn. Bog walked out on his own two feet and didn't need her.

 

At the sound of his mother’s voice, Bog absolutely  lost it. He tried to get up. He hadn’t noticed that Marianne had buckled his seatbelt. “Mother!” He struggled for a moment. Marianne put a hand on his arm. “Ye, ye, blocked my memories!” Bog was livid. “Ye took him away from me! How could you do that to me! Why would ye do that? And ye did it over and over and over again!”

 

“What is he talking about?” Arawn turned to Zelda and glared at her.

 

“Lyceans shouldn’t have Arcadian abilities.” Zelda shrugged. “I had to remove them every time he discovered them.” Arawn stared at her. “I told you if anything happened to me that ye were to raise him the same way we were.”

 

“And I did. But without those things that would have upset everyone in town.” Zelda continued smiling. “I ended up taking him to Amber to seal them from him. There was nobody there to teach him, Arawn.”

 

Bog was not satisfied with the answer, “Ye had Amber seal away my abilities?! Do ye realize how much it would have helped if I had them? I could have practiced on my own!”

 

“Please, stop arguing!” Marianne shouted. The car went quiet. She turned to Bog, gripping his arm. “Heal yourself. I don’t want to see you like this.” Bog nodded, mumbling his healing equation and running his hand over his chest. The worst cuts and bruises immediately disappeared. “I am so sorry, Bog. I didn’t want to lie to you! You just seemed to hate Arcadians so much.”

 

“They took my father from me, Marianne.” He gestured to the front of the vehicle.

 

“About that,” Arawn sighed. “That was my fault. They were never there fer ye or yer mom. They were looking fer me.” Then he grinned and laughed again. “I wiped my own memory! I did something that is considered impossible!”

 

“You wiped your own memory?” Zelda stared at him in awe. “How did you do that? You would never be able to finish the equation because you would forget it halfway through.”

 

“I had worked on that problem for years. I wanted to be sure that if I were ever caught, I would never give up what I knew. I figured out that all I had to do was create a force bubble, speak the equation into it, then break it over my head. It was crude and took everything, but it worked.”

 

“Wow.” Marianne slid her arms around Bog’s arm and hugged him. He smiled down at her, then grinned. His stomach made an annoyed, growling sound.

 

“Mom. Dad. I’m hungry. Can we pick up a happy meal or ten?”

 

“No. We don’t eat junk.” Arawn growled back in response. “Cute kid ye have there.” Arawn smiled at Zelda.

 

“He takes after his father.” She grinned back.

 

“He wouldn’t give in to us either.” Marianne laughed.

 

“What do ye mean?” Bog gave her a started look, his eyes widening. “Ye knew my dad?”

 

“I didn’t know he was your dad until a few days ago.” Marianne looked up at Bog, then snuggled against him, pressing her cheek to his arm. “I had to confirm it with my father before I told you, but then…” She trailed off, squeezing his arm. “I’ll tell you later.”

 

“This is all well and good.” Titania appeared, sitting next to Bog’s feet. He jumped and fell against Marianne. “But we can’t go to the Summer’s house now. Where are we going?”

 

“We’re still going to the Summers,” Arawn replied. “ I think after what Bog did, they aren’t going to come after him.”

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Arawn pulled the CR-V in front of the Summers’ mansion. Bog stared through the window at it. He had never seen such a large home. He glanced at Marianne curiously . She nudged him forward, seeing her father waiting for them on the front steps near the door. “Come on. You can get cleaned up, and I’m sure we can find something to eat.” Marianne grinned.

 

Bog and Marianne got out, followed by Titania, but Arawn and Zelda remained in the car.

 

They drove off.

 

Bog stared after them, completely baffled. “Where are they - oh.” Bog’s eyes widened. “OH! Wait, that’s MY car!” He turned to Marianne, gesturing wildly . “No! They are not! Are they?! Oh, crap!” Then he began swearing in a panic.

 

“They’re your parents.” Marianne shrugged with a grimace. “And uh. What is it, 36 years?”

 

Bog’s mouth dropped open in horror. “I’m never getting in that car again.”

 

“Come on.” Marianne sighed and grabbed Bog’s arm to lead him up the steps.

 

“Where is Arawn going?” Lucas asked when the pair reached the door.

 

“36 years,” Marianne replied with a smirk. Bog scowled, his face turning red in embarrassment.

 

“Oh.” Lucas turned to the door. “Inside. We need to keep Bogdan out of sight.”

Chapter Text

November 13

A hot shower had never felt so good as it did right now.  After everything Bog had been through, he enjoyed it.  There was also the fact that he stood in a huge rainfall shower with hot water falling all over him in soft waves.  The water swirled around his feet with red streaks in it, taking the last 24 hours down the drain.


Bog took his time, making sure he healed every injury.  He didn’t want to find any reminders of what Roland had done to him.  They needed to be wiped away.  The pain remained, like a ghostly afterimage.  Wounds caused by silver would hurt for days after they were healed.  Bog had a high pain tolerance, but every move made his body ache.


He dried off with what was probably the plushest towel he had ever used.  Bog took a moment to stand in front of the full bathroom mirror, turning around to check for any injuries he might have missed. Satisfied, he stood back to create a simple black t-shirt and jeans over his body.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog walked out of the bathroom and directly into Marianne’s arms.  She almost knocked him down with her enthusiasm.  He staggered back as she buried her head against his chest and gripped him as tightly as she could. “Careful.” He winced. “I’m still sore.” Then he reached down to hug her back with that comforting, familiar embrace, where he could cover her and smell her.


“I was so worried about you,” Marianne mumbled into his chest.  Bog was silent, running his hands lightly down her back, then back up again as though reassuring himself she was there.  Marianne felt him shudder.  He pulled her closer and made an awkward, snorting sound.


“I thought I was never going to see ye again, Marianne.” He mumbled into her hair. “Never see ye again after those things I said that hurt ye.  I never intended to hurt ye.” Bog clung to her, sobbing uncontrollably. “Why didn’t ye just say something?  I love ye.  Nothing ye could tell me would ever change that.”


“Because it would have hurt you.” Marianne couldn’t hold it in, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Maybe it was stupid.  I was going to tell you.  At some point.”


“When?” Bog chuckled suddenly. “Sixty years from now, when we would be sitting on our porch in rocking chairs with me wondering how ye still had the energy of a twenty-year-old in an almost 90-year-old body?” Marianne laughed at the thought.


“I know I was being stupid.” She looked up, and Bog immediately lifted a hand to wipe her tears away. “I didn’t want you to look at me differently.”


“Never.” Bog slid his hand beneath her chin, leaning in to kiss her. “Ye know that I felt the same way before ye found out what I was.” His bright blue eyes darkened momentarily with sadness. “I would never have wanted ye to carry that feeling for so much longer.  Ye accepted me for who I was.  Why did ye not think I would do the same?”


“Arcadians have always done worse things to Lyceans than Lyceans have done to Arcadians.” Marianne pointed out.  Bog kissed her on the forehead.


“I don’t think we’re in a competition for whose people have done the worst things.” Bog kissed the bridge of her nose, running his fingers alongside her jaw and into her hair. “We’re not responsible for people who were running things before we were even born.” Bog was back at Marianne’s mouth and interrupted whatever she was going to say, meeting her open mouth with this own.  He had been dreaming of getting to do this again.


“I don’t want to talk about this again.” Bog grumbled, reluctantly breaking the kiss after a few minutes.  His stomach growled, and he sighed, running a hand over it. “I need to eat something.  Healing takes a lot of energy, and I’m tired.”


“I’m good with that.” Marianne nodded, her head full of giddy lightness.  She took Bog’s hand. “This way to the kitchen, then we’re going down to the panic room, and we can get some sleep.  My dad and Arawn are working on the situation.” She wanted to continue kissing him, so glad to have him back.


“By the way, that was so awesome. The way you came in and rescued me with the sword and all the fire!” Bog walked with her, waving his free hand in the air dramatically. “What else can ye do?”


“My abilities are fire, earth, air, water, and shields.” Marianne held up a finger for each one, then her thumb.


“Impressive, so yer the Avatar plus ultra.” Bog grinned. “5 is rare.”


“It’s been consistent in our family for generations.” Then she laughed. “And my Lycean mom apparently gave me healing and creation too.”


“Ah, so ye know about yer mom now?”


“My dad told me when I told him about Arawn.” She smiled and stopped walking.  Bog looked down at her curiously.  She leaned against his arm and looked up. “You and I are the same.”


“Amber told me we would be amazing together.” Bog whispered. “She said ye were the start of a new race and now I believe she meant that as in ye and me.  Lyceans that can actually fight back.  Arcadians with the power to heal and shift.”


“That is an incredible responsibility.” The weight of Bog’s words fell heavily on Marianne’s shoulders. “That would change our world.” 

-=-=-=-=-=-

Oran was the only one who got out of the house with his phone.  The three brothers were standing across the street from their burning home as the fire department was finishing putting it out. “Look.  This is Roland’s fault.” Oran attempted to talk sense to his two older brothers. “That Lycean he had us go after, he is Arawn’s son, and we do not want to mess with him.”


“He threatened to have us removed from our guild.” Coy sighed.  


“We can’t do anything but hunt!” Symon groaned. “We can’t lose our guild memberships.  We lose all of our licenses and access to contracts and bounties!”


“Anyone see Roland?” Oran glanced around. “Maybe we could convince Roland to contact Arawn and swear to not say anything about his son?”


“He split for obvious reasons.” Coy scowled. “Look.  We want to hunt.  We don’t want all this drama.  It was bad enough that we saw Marianne and got all of our memories back about her and Roland.  He wasted a lot of our time trying to hunt her down, and for what?”


“A lot of trouble, that’s what.” Oran flipped his phone around in his hands, nervously. “I have an idea.  I can call Arawn and tell him that we are going to forget this happened.  We are not going anywhere near Bogdan Laird or Marianne Summers.  We will turn Roland over to him. I’m sure they would like to wipe his memory again.”


“Roland is our friend.” Coy grumbled, not sure he wanted to turn on him.


“He’s our boss.” Symon shrugged. “I saw we hand him over.”


“I’ll call Arawn.  I suspect he will want to deal to keep information about his son from being spread.  Right now. It’s only us and Roland who know.” Oran held up his phone. “Well?  Let me handle it. I’m the best one for negotiations.”


Coy and Symon looked at each other.  They were the older brothers, but their younger brother was always the one who got them the best deals and out of the scrapes that Roland often talked them into. “Let him know that if he wipes Roland’s memory, he can hand him over to us.  We will make sure he never comes into contact with Marianne or Bogdan again,” Coy stated. “We can do that.” Symon nodded in agreement.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Roland narrowed his eyes at his former allies.  He had been standing just out of their view, shielded by darkness and several bushes.  He heard everything.  They were going to turn him in if they caught him!  Well.  It looked like he was on his own.  He had planning to do.  Roland twirled his hair in frustration, then walked off into the night.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog carried a large plate of lasagna and breadsticks down into the Summers’ safe room.  One of the entrances was downstairs from the kitchen.  They passed a large open room that Marianne referred to as the Training Room.  He didn’t get a good look at it but did spot a few piles of charred straw dummies against one wall.  Bog munched on a breadstick.  The lasagna had just come out of something Marianne called the ‘Super Microwave’ and was too hot to try.  She promised it would taste like it came out of an oven and not a microwave.


The Summers’ safe room was more like a den than a place used for emergencies.  It had a heavy steel door with an intricate locking mechanism.  Inside, there were several comfortable couches and easy chairs, TVs, a bar, and a wall of monitors.  Bog stopped walking the moment he saw his mother and father were waiting for him, along with Lucas Summers.


Arawn sat on one of the couches talking on his cellphone.  Zelda sat across his lap with her head on his shoulder, gazing at him lovingly. Arawn’s free hand was playing with her hair.  But that wasn’t what caused Bog to stop and stare.  Arawn looked the same, but Zelda had dropped her age and now looked younger than Bog.  She looked younger than Marianne.  She had reset her age, and it made Bog worry.


“Bog?” Marianne noticed he wasn’t following her and whispered his name.  She walked to the couch across from Arawn and Zelda and sat down.  Bog sat next to her, holding the plate on his knees and staring at it.  He was lost in deep thought.  


What did it mean?  His mother reset herself.  You only did that when you were ready to start a new life.  His mother had been there for his entire life.  She could be annoying, but she had been the one constant he could always count on.  Was she going to leave with Arawn?  Were they both going to go and start a new life that didn’t include him?


“Good news.” Arawn set his phone aside. “It appears we do not have to worry about the Kanes.  They have agreed to assist us in apprehending Roland.  Smart kid.  Even suggested that we wipe all traces of Bog from his mind.  Mentioned making sure Marianne was still wiped out as well.  It seems they don’t enjoy that kind of hunting. They’ll keep Roland out of the area, which means that I don’t have to figure out a way to incarcerate the moron.”


“We can trust them?” Lucas looked up from his mug of coffee.


“I believe we can.” Arawn nodded. “I can hear lies, ye’know.” Arawn turned his attention to Bog. “I’m thinking we can get you two home. I’ll have Titania stay with Marianne for her protection.  Bogdan, I am going to be giving you a crash course in your new abilities, so ye can pass Arcadian registration.”


“What?” Bog stared at his father like he had just sprouted a second head. 


“Citizen registry, fer Arcadians, so ye get all the same protections as we do.” Arawn paused. “So ye can call yerself my son and come work with me and Marianne  in Investigations.” He grinned, looking from Marianne to Bog.


“I never agreed to that,” Marianne smirked. “I’m a graphic designer.  I can barely control my abilities.”


“Really, Arawn?” Lucas ran his hand over his face. “Investigations can be dangerous.”


“I’m a Lycean.” Bog grumbled.


“Nobody expects a Lycean ta have Arcadian abilities and ye had potential from a young age.  I want ta properly train ye like ye should have been.” Arawn pinched Zelda on the shoulder.  She yelped and then twisted around to begin kissing Arawn.  The conversation was replaced by an awkward silence.


“Mom.  Dad.” Bog reminded them that there were other people in the room beside themselves.


“I want ta train both of ye.  Ye need ta learn ta control yer abilities.” Arawn smiled. “Yer mom can work with Marianne too.  We can work with Dawn too after she has the baby.”


“B’baby?”  Lucas’ head shot up. “Dawn is pregnant?!  Why hasn’t anyone told me?!”

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog and Marianne ended up sleeping on the couch together.  There was just enough room with Bog lying on his side, holding Marianne in his arms.  She faced toward him with her head against his chest.  Despite people coming in and out of the room for most of the night, they slept soundly.  At one point, early in the morning, Bog woke to see his mother running through the room, giggling with his father right behind her.  They vanished into the adjoining room, and Bog grumbled, pulling a cushion over his head so he couldn’t hear what was going on.


After the ordeal of the last day, Bog just wanted to keep holding onto Marianne and enjoy her warm body against his.  His mind had other ideas.  The recovered memories had flashed by, far too many to see any in great detail.  The more important ones were the ones that stood out.  Now, he was dreaming about a time when he was barely able to walk.  Lyceans had the best memory recall of all the races, and everything was in great detail.


They were in the farmhouse, and Bog had been doing what many Lycean children do at that age, creating random things to chew on and roll across the floor.  It was the first ability that both Atlanteans and Lyceans developed.  The items were harmless.  They were always too big and squishy to be swallowed or hurt anyone.  He dreamed he was creating balls.  Creating simple shapes didn’t require alchemic equations.  Equations enhanced and focused their abilities.  A slightly younger-looking Arawn was sitting in front of him, urging him on to make them rounder.  The smile on his father’s face had encouraged him, and he kept at it.


Every time he created a better ball, Arawn rewarded him with a piece of banana.  Arawn was absolutely fascinated by what he was doing.  Even in his dream, Bog could feel just how proud and involved his father was.  But then, Bog had done something unexpected.  He was holding a piece of banana and dropped it.  He grabbed for it, and a transparent sphere popped between his hands, catching the snack before it hit the floor.


The look on Arawn’s face had been one of absolute shock and bewilderment. “That’s not possible,” Arawn whispered.  He held out a piece of banana. “Trade?” Bog hand happily handed the ball over for something he could eat.  Arawn turned the orb over in his hands, staring at it with wide eyes.  Then he held it up in front of Bog. “Again.”


Bog remembered trying and creating another ordinary solid ball.  Then Arawn held up his hand and created an exact copy of the ball Bog had formed around the banana. “Like this.” Bog tried again and was beginning to get frustrated with the attempt as another solid ball materialized in his hands.  Arawn smiled and handed him a treat anyway.  Then he held out a second one and dropped it between his child’s outstretched hands.  A clear sphere appeared around it, just like the first one.  Arawn laughed, slapping his hands on his knees.


“Zelda!  Ye need to come in here and see this!” Arawn excitedly called for his wife, and a moment later, she appeared in the door.  She wore a flowery apron and Bog could smell chocolate chip cookies all around her.


“Wow,  those are good balls.” Zelda came and sat on the floor next to Arawn, smiling at her boy.  Arawn held up the two transparent balls, and Zelda’s eyes popped open.  Bog remembered the sense that he thought he had done something wrong.  The look on her face was not proud or happy.  It was one of fear.


“Ye don’t create shields.  Does someone in yer family?” Arawn questioned Zelda.


“No.  And Lyceans don’t create that type of shield.  We create walls and Veils.  We can’t do that.” Zelda stared at Bog.


“He has my ability.” Arawn looked at Bog proudly, reassuring him. “A Lycean with an Arcadian ability.” Arawn reached out and ruffled his hair. “Aren’t ye a special boy.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing.”


“Probably for a good reason.” His mother frowned and looked at her husband in concern. “Wouldn’t that make him dangerous?  Parents would hide this kind of thing.  There can’t be that many families that allow bloodlines to cross.”


“I can’t wait to see what else he can do!” Arawn picked his son up and hugged him.  Then he turned to his wife with a huge grin, “When can we have more?!”


“Concentrate on this one first.” Zelda got back to her feet, chuckling nervously.  She hurried away.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog’s dream shifted, recalling something else.  Laying awake as an older child, listening to his parents having a severe fight in another room.  It was about him. “Ye can’t just not teach a boy how to use the things he’s born with and ignore them, Zelda. It’s his right to use everything he has.  This is a rough world.  Ye and I both know it.  Every ability he has will help him.”


“If he turns out to be able to shift, he is a Lycean, Arawn.  He has to follow that side of him.  My family and our people will be terrified of him if he displays Arcadian abilities!  Nobody knows you’re Arcadian!  Nobody can know that!”  Zelda’s voice rang out angry and full of frustration.


“Then we need to change that. He’s just a boy.” Then his father’s voice had dropped off, but he heard the next words clearly.  They were pained with a sudden realization. “Is, is this why ye keep yerself away when it’s your time of the year?  Ye don’t want to have any more children with me?  Because they might be like Bogdan?” The conversation was followed by silence, and then he heard his father walking down the hall.


He was sobbing loudly as though his heart had been broken.  Arawn stopped, noticing the door to Bog’s room was open.   He stepped inside, sat down on Bog’s bed, and reached out to lay a hand on Bog’s side.  Bog pretended to be asleep, but his father’s sadness was easy for him to feel. “I love ye, Bogdan.  Yer mom loves ye too.”


The words faded into an echo, and Bog’s dreaming suddenly changed.  He was back in the cage, laying there in the darkness in pain.  He was dreading Roland returning and momentarily, that’s where Bog believed he was.  He pulled his arms tightly to his chest and was suddenly jarred awake by Marianne squirming in his grasp.


“Bog?” She pushed her hands into his chest. “You’re squishing me.”


“Oh.  Sorry.” Bog immediately loosened his grip and found himself staring into her eyes.  Her beautiful concern filled brown eyes.  Her words from hours earlier filled his thoughts along with the dreams. ‘That’s an incredible responsibility.’ This was why he didn’t have any siblings.  When he was younger, he had wondered why he was an only child.  He had met much older siblings who shared a father, but not his.  Two years separated them in each case.  


Two years was his mother’s pattern. She had even commented on it before.  Two years to enjoy your spouse before the first child.  Two years for the next.  Two years for the next.  Only as far as he knew, there never was a third child.  Rarely were there two.  Her husbands were often killed young, except for Arawn.  He had been with her for seven years and he knew he was born shortly after their first year together.  She had been in a hurry to make sure she had a child with him but then didn’t have anymore.


It was his fault.


“Bog?” Marianne was beginning to get worried.  He had been looking into his eyes, but he was somewhere else.


“Good morning, Marianne.” Bog blinked and smiled at her, giving her a gentle hug. “I love ye.”


“I love you too.” She hugged him back and snuggled up against his chest.  Bog sighed contentedly, but the thought was still going through his head.  He should not have said what Amber told him.  It would be a massive responsibility, and he understood where his mother’s reactions. Bog also understood how much it hurt his father as a stabbing pain struck him in the gut and heart.  Marianne might not want to ever have kids because of what he had said to her.  He thought it was awesome.  She had looked worried.  The same look he had seen on his mother’s face when he was a child.

-=-=-=-=-=-

They had breakfast, then left the Summers house.  Bog and Marianne rode with Lucas.  Bog had scowled when Arawn and his mother got into his CR-V and seemed to expect him to join them.  He said nothing to them, just gave them dirty looks, and got into the Summers SUV.  Marianne shrugged at Bog’s parents and followed him.


Lucas was happy to have them riding with him. “How long have you known Dawn is pregnant?”


“Saturday.” Marianne sighed. “They went in on Monday to confirm it, and then this all happened.”


“I see.”


“Bog has known for weeks.” Marianne smiled. “I’m learning a lot about Lyceans.”


“It was not my place to tell anyone.” Bog mumbled.


“I can’t believe Arawn is your father, Bogdan.” Lucas smiled. “Arawn has helped raise three generations of Summers. I’ve always thought he would be a great father to a child of his own.”


Bog was silent, unable to say anything to that.  Arawn had been there for children who were not his own.  Bog had been robbed of an entire childhood with him.  He had him now, but there were so many times when he was a child and a teenager, when he needed a father and didn’t have one.  Did his father know that he still needed him in his life?  He still needed his mother too.  Now that they had each other, were they just going to leave?


“Thank ye for coming for me.” Bog attempted to change the subject. “I don’t think I said thank ye.”


“I can’t let anything happen to my future son-in-law.” Lucas grinned. “Marianne would kill me.”

Bog smiled at that, glancing at Marianne.  She was watching him with a smile on her face as well.


“Out of curiosity, where are you planning to live after the wedding?”


“My house, but I don’t know what my mom and dad are planning.” Bog glanced at Marianne. 


“Where are you taking your honeymoon?”


Both Marianne and Bog turned to each other and simultaneously said, “We never talked about a honeymoon!”


“We were just focused on the wedding.” Marianne groaned.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Dawn was overjoyed to see her father.  She squealed and threw her arms around him, immediately announcing that she was pregnant.  Lucas decided not to let her know that Arawn had let it slip.  Marianne ran past them to go upstairs to shower and get into clean clothes.  Bog went to his house and was surprised to see his friends had stayed the entire time he had been gone.  He thanked them and told them to go home.  He would have a party to thank them later.


Bog sat in the living room and waited for his parents.  He heard his CR-V pull-up, then the sound of his mother laughing.  She hit the front door and threw it open, racing inside and right past Bog.  Arawn was behind her, with his shirt halfway off and an absolutely predatory look on his face. “Bogdan.  Give me ten minutes.” He ran past him in pursuit of his wife. “Maybe twenty!  Have to catch her first!”


“Seriously?” Bog groaned and sank further into the couch.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Marianne hummed as she got dressed, doing precisely what she had planned to do when Bog came home.  She put on the red sweater Bog had sent her, black jeans, then the red ankle boots.  They were stiff, but that would work itself out throughout the day.  The matching fall scarf was wrapped around her neck loosely.  Then Marianne checked herself in the mirror.  She took a moment to attempt to tame her hair down into something that looked like she at least tried.  The purple and rose gold highlights still looked beautiful, and she had grown used to them.


“Marianne.” There was a gentle knock on her door.  It was her father.


“Come in.” Marianne smiled as he walked inside. “That’s a nice outfit.” He complimented her.


“Bog bought it for me.” She grinned and sat on the foot of her bed.  She wasn’t about to explain why.


“He has good taste.  It looks good on you.” Lucas sat next to his daughter and held out his hand. “I’m proud of the way you’ve handled yourself, Marianne.” Marianne blushed, placing her hand in her father’s.  He put his other hand on top of it and squeezed gently. “I love you and your sister so much, and I think you should all consider moving back into the house until we get the Roland situation taken care of.  Bogdan and his mother too.  I haven’t mentioned this to Arawn.  I want you safe.”


“That’s not realistic, Dad.” Marianne sighed.  Her father meant well.  She took a deep breath and began to explain why Bogdan shouldn’t leave. “This entire town is full of Lyceans and Atlanteans, Father.  Bog is pretty much their King.”


Lucas Summers stared at his daughter. “The entire town?”


“The entire town,” Marianne repeated. “We’re as safe here as anywhere.  Sunny and Dawn are taking my house. Bog’s giving it to them. It’ll be a great place for them to raise their baby. It’ll be safe.”


“You’ll be comfortable raising a family here as well?” Lucas looked a little concerned. “You’ll run into the same dilemma your mother, and I ran into.  We had to take away your abilities, which included taking away memories you built with your mother.  Considering that you and Bogdan both have Arcadian and Lycean abilities, there’s a good chance your children will take after both of you. That’s how it works, Marianne.  Two strong bloodlines will more often than not produce even stronger children.”


Marianne took a deep breath.  She had been thinking about this very thing when Bog mentioned what Amber had said about them. “Arawn is going to unseal my Lycean abilities, Dad.  How will that be different from having children who know what they can do and are trained through their entire lives on how to use them?”


“Marianne.” Lucas frowned. “You do not know what it feels like to actually have a child with abilities they should not have and worry that they might slip up and someone would find out.  At least if you had been pure Lycean or Arcadian, that possibility would never be there.”


“Dad.  They will be safe here.” Marianne gave her father a stubborn look. “Bogdan is a King.”


“And he didn’t know he was half Arcadian for some reason.  I suspect he also did not have that electrical power before he saw Arawn.  His memories were sealed just like yours were.” Lucas pointed out.  Then he sighed and gave Marianne a guilty look. “There’s one more thing you need to know, Marianne.  It was your mother who suggested that Arawn seal your Lycean side.  When Dawn began showing the ability to create like a lycean and manipulate air and water like an Arcadian, she asked Arawn to do it.”


“She did?” Marianne looked hurt. 


“Marianne.  This was when Dawn was 2.  You were 8.” Lucas looked into his daughter’s eyes, waiting for her to figure it out on her own.


“That was when Mom left on the extended hunter missions and never came home.”  Marianne’s lower lip quivered and tears began welling up in her eyes as she realized why. “Because she couldn’t be around us physically after the seals were placed or they would be broken.  She wrote to us, and we talked on the phone.”


“Your mother made a sacrifice that hurt her so that you could live a normal life as an Arcadian, not an Arcadian with Lycean abilities.” Lucas gently wiped away Marianne’s tears.

“That is what I want you to understand, Marianne.  You need to discuss this with Bogdan.” She could never come home, Marianne.  Then we lost her entirely.” Marianne nodded and leaned against her father, glad he was there for her even if she didn’t like what he was telling her.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog sulked on the couch.  It had been half an hour, and he did not want to go looking for his parents.  They were somewhere in the house doing who knows what, but at least they were doing it quietly.


Arawn walked into the living room a few minutes later.  He had a very pleased crooked smile on his face.  Thankfully, he was also fully dressed. “Bogdan.  Please stand up.  I haven’t greeted ye properly.”


Bog bit back the first thought that came to mind, not really wanting to know how many times he had ‘greeted’ his mother in the last 12 hours.  Instead, he warily stood and regarded his father.  He was much shorter than Bog remembered.


“Yer much taller than I remember.” Arawn laughed, placing his hands on Bog’s shoulders and patting him.  Bog smiled. “I missed seeing ye grow up, but I’m going to make up fer it.  I want to be a part of yer life if ye’ll let me.”


“Yer not going to leave with Mom?” Bog couldn’t hide his relief.


“Zelda has no desire to leave, and why would I want to be anywhere else?” Arawn replied, then he sighed, “However, this time, I’m not going to vanish from my work. I’m going to make arrangements to only take on special cases.  I was serious when I said I want ye to work with me, Bogdan.  Both ye and Marianne.”


“I don’t know how good I would be at what ye do.” Bog held his right hand up, letting bits of flashing blue light dance over his fingers. “This is new to me.”


“I will train ye.” Arawn grinned. “I have to train ye anyway.  I can’t leave ye to learn on yer own.  Ye might blow up yer house and my darlin’ Marianne with it.”


“Ye really helped raise Marianne?” Bog stared at his father, curiously.


“Aye.  Bet there aren’t many fathers who’ve changed both their son and daughter-in-law’s diapers…. And her father…. And his father. I’ve changed an annoying amount of diapers.” Arawn made a face at the thought. “I am not changing yer kids diapers.  Done my time.” Arawn realized he was rambling and stopped, staring up at Bog.  Then he stepped forward, wrapping his arms around his son in a tight hug. “I didn’t want ta leave ya, Bogden.  I never wanted ye to only have only one parent growing up, but I wanted ye to grow up. That’s why I did what I did.”


“I missed ye, Dad.  I missed ye every day.” Bog hugged him back.  He had never even dreamed this moment would be possible. “I’m glad to hear yer going to stay.  Yer going to be my Best Man, right?”


“If yer inviting me to, then yes.” Arawn leaned back and grinned happily. “When is the wedding?”


“December 18th.” Bog took a deep breath.


“Surprised ye’d wait that long.” Arawn stepped back and sat down in one of the recliners across from the couch. “Considerin’, who raised ya.  That woman has no patience.”


“She’s been after Marianne and me to go out into the woods and get started on kids.” Bog rolled his eyes and settled on the couch.


 Arawn looked startled. “I guess she did raise ye the way I asked her to. Ye’know we uhm, had arguments over how to raise ye.”


“I remember.” Bog sighed, then scowled, “And I’m still mad at mom for that.”


“She wanted to keep ye safe,” Arawn stated. “That was all.  She was afraid of raising a son, who was different.”


“And I’m why I don’t have any siblings.” Bog grumbled.


“Ye, ye remember that?” Arawn sat upright, glancing to the door that led to the kitchen. “Bogdan. Don’t blame yerself fer that.”


“But it’s true.  And I’m mad at mom for that too.” Bog scowled, “And all the other things she did to ‘protect’ me.”


“Bogdan.” Arawn began stubbornly. “Ye won’t understand these things until yer married and a parent. Don’t hold this against yer mom.  She loves ye.  She wanted ye to have the safe life she didn’t get when she was a child.  Lyceans have always had it rough.  Ye know that.  This place is a paradise fer Lyceans and Atlanteans.  She didn’t want to risk ye not fitting in.  I understood.  It was selfish of me ta want more kids after ye when it would overwhelm yer mom.’


Bog sat quietly, letting the words sink in. “Even now, ye accept that?”


“I do.  I love yer mom. I’ve been searching for ye and her for the last five years.  Yer so important to me.  Yer my only son.  She is also important to me.  I don’t want ta see ye mad at her.” Arawn went on. “Ye won’t always agree with yer wife and let me tell you now, Son, Marianne is a spitfire who has a stubborn streak ye won’t believe.”


“I’ve run into it.” Bog grimaced.


“When ye do, just remember ye love her above all else, but uh, I guess ye don’t really have to worry about that, do ye?” Arawn realized his advice might not even apply to Bog.


“No.  I love her so much.” Bog smiled. “I could never forget that.”


“Good.  Marianne deserves a good husband as much as ye deserve a good wife.” Arawn smiled, then stood up. “Speaking of wives, I’m going to go figure out where yer mom is hiding now.” Bog made a face at that, which Arawn ignored as he headed off into the house.
“I’ll be at Marianne’s.” Bog sighed.


“Have fun. We’ll begin training tomorrow.  Get some rest too.”


Bog sat for a moment longer.  Then he smiled.  His mother was happy.  He was still mad at her, but that was just on the surface.  Beneath it, he was happy for her.  She had told him stories about her husbands and how often she had been left without them after a few years to raise children alone.  She always did it with a cheerful, happy face, but it was all really sad when Bog thought about it.


Zelda had raised him alone with community support, but with how much she pestered Bog about having a wife and having children of his own, he couldn’t help but feel she wanted that for herself as well.  At least the having a husband part.  Then his thoughts drifted to Marianne.  He couldn’t pressure her into anything she didn’t want, and as much as he wanted children of his own, that would not have any bearing on his love for her.


Besides, children had a way of showing up on his doorstep every few months. They usually were adopted into a local family, but there had been several occasions when Zelda had chosen to keep them for a few years.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog smiled when he walked into the Summers’ living room and saw Marianne.  There were two cups of coffee set out, and a bottle of cold root beer.  Unfortunately, her father sat next to her.  He still smiled because she was wearing the clothes he had bought for her.


“If ye don’t mind, I’d rather be over here than in my house today.” Bog took the root beer off the coffee table and sat down.  


“Out of curiosity, did you know you had Arcadian abilities, Bogdan?” Lucas didn’t waste any time asking.


“Dad.” Marianne sighed.


“No.  I did not.” Bog shook his head, popping the cap on the root beer. “While we’re talking about uncomfortable subjects.  Why did ye have Marianne’s Lycean side sealed?” Marianne stared into her cup of coffee as Bog and her father discussed the same thing she had talked with him earlier.


“My mother’s fears are completely groundless.” Bog smiled. “Any child we have is going to be raised without sealing anything.  We have to be careful and that is why Marianne was allowed to buy this house to begin with.  To train children to be careful with their abilities.  Just because a child may have both Arcadian and Lycean abilities will not be a problem, however.” Bog looked at Marianne, who was still avoiding joining in. “When or if there are any children is completely up to Marianne.  If she never wants to have any, I will be okay with it.”

Marianne looked up slowly at that, fixing Bog with a critical knowing look. “You are a bad liar, Bog.”


“I will be okay.” Bog reiterated, meeting her look with a stubborn one of his own.


“No, you won’t. I’ve seen how you are with children.  You want them more than anything.” Marianne stated.


“Not more than ye.” Bog shook his head, but he wasn’t smiling.


“Dad, why did you have to force this conversation?” Marianne glared at her father angrily. “We would have had it on our own.”
“It’s important,” Lucas stated.  Bog began to feel nervous as the heated look on Marianne’s face intensified.


“And a private decision between the two of us.” Marianne turned and gave Bog the biggest, most disturbing smile he had ever seen. “YOU are getting kids.  Not soon, but someday.  When WE are ready.”


“Okaaay.” Bog tilted his bottle up and began quickly drinking it.


Lucas looked from Bog to Marianne and chuckled. “Wise man.” Then he turned to Bog and changed the subject, “Choose where you want to go for your honeymoon and when you want it to be.  Anywhere in the world for two weeks. It’s my wedding gift to you both.” Bog began to open his mouth. “No arguments.” Lucas got up and walked out of the room. “I’ll leave you two alone.  I need to go pester Dawn and Sunny now.”

-=-=-=-=-=-

“I feel sorry for Dawn and Sunny,” groaned Marianne running her hand over her face.  Bog remained where he was sitting, not quite sure if he should join her or not. “Bog.” Marianne scowled at him. “Why are you still sitting there?” She turned her head to the empty spot on the couch next to her.  


Bog immediately got up and sat next to her.  He set his drink down and opened his arms for her.  Marianne gave him a sweet smile and turned to wrap her arms around him and snuggle up close.  Bog dropped his arms around Marianne and squeezed her tightly up against him.


“I meant what I said.  Ye are more important to me than having any children.” Bog smiled affectionately. Marianne’s head rested on his shoulder, and she smiled back with a stubborn glint in her eyes.


“I promise, maybe after a year or two, we’ll do it.  I want to enjoy you first.”


“That’s good.   I want to enjoy ye too.” Bog leaned in to kiss her, but not for long.  He grimaced and was forced to lean back. “I’m sore all over.”


“You can’t heal it away?”


“Not the soreness, no. It’s not as bad as it was, so by tomorrow, I should be okay.  Maybe we should go see Amber tonight.” Bog suggested. “She stopped the snow after I talked to her, but she’s probably stewing right now.”


“I don’t know if I want to see her.  She tried to eat me, Bog.” Marianne grumbled.


“I’ll go with you.” Titania snarled from the middle of the living room.  She was sitting on the other side of the coffee table and materialized out of nowhere.  Bog jumped and winced.


“Titania, give us a warning you’re in the room.” Marianne scolded her.


“Doing my job.” Titania let her tongue loll out of her mouth.


“Let’s do that another day.” Marianne sighed. “Today, let’s just relax and not worry about anything.”


“I’m good with that.” Bog nodded in agreement.

 

Bonus Selection - The Full Scene of Zelda and Arawn

 

“We need to talk.” 


Those words shot a streak of cold up Arawn’s back. He had been sitting back, reading a newspaper, and enjoying a beer when Zelda spoke those words. She sat down across from him in a recliner. Arawn immediately put his newspaper down. When his wife wanted something, he made it a point to listen. “What about?” Arawn went over the day’s events. He couldn’t think of anything that would lead to any sort of serious conversation.


“You need to stop encouraging Bog to explore ‘those’ abilities,” Zelda spoke, her usually happy face set with concern.


“They are a part of him.” Arawn sat upright, feeling like this was a personal attack against what he was. That had been a point of contention for a while. Zelda was always frantic that he hide his Arcadian side and pretend to be a human. Arawn did what she wanted, but he couldn’t restrict his son. “He needs to practice to manage them.”


“I want you to stop,” Zelda stated. 


 “Ye can’t avoid teaching a boy how to use the things he’s born with and ignore them, Zelda. It’s his right to use everything he has. This is a rough world. Ye and I both know it. Every ability he has will help him.”


“If he turns out to be able to shift, he is a Lycean, Arawn. He has to follow that side of him. My family and our people will be terrified of him if he displays Arcadian abilities! Nobody knows you’re Arcadian! Nobody can know that!” Zelda’s voice rang out angry and full of frustration.


“Then we need to change that. He’s just a boy.” Arawn’s voice dropped off. His bright blue eyes dulled, feeling that stab again at what he was.  He stared into his wife’s eyes, feeling all the hurt and suspicions he had felt over the recent years demand a release. He realized something important. “Is, is this why ye keep yerself away when it’s your time of the year? Ye don’t want to have any more children with me? Because they might be like Bogdan?” 


Zelda’s face contorted into sadness, and tears began streaming over her usually rosy cheeks. She looked to the floor in guilty admission. Arawn only felt sadness at the response. He wasn’t angry. He was deeply disappointed. He rose shakily from his chair and left the room, barely holding himself in. 


Arawn loved his wife so much, the betrayal stabbed him in the heart. He reached Bog’s door and stopped, sobbing heavily. He couldn’t recall the last time he had shed a tear over anything.  Had it been the day his son had been born?  The door was open. Arawn pushed it the rest of the way, hoping that his son had not been awake to hear them arguing.


He stepped inside, sat down on Bog’s bed, and reached out to lay a hand on his son’s side. Bog pretended to be asleep, but his father’s sadness was easy for him to feel. “I love ye, Bogdan. Yer mom loves ye too.” Arawn sat there for a few minutes longer, making futile attempts to regain control of himself. He had one perfect son, and he had a wife he loved and adored. They had their problems, but they loved each other.


Arawn sighed and got up, giving his son one last look. The boy slept peacefully in his warm, safe, and secure bed. His room was filled with toys, books, and art. Bogdan was safe here and had everything he could ever need. Arawn’s Lycean family was safe from Arcadians. He was in a community that accepted him. Arawn had a shortlist of desires. He wanted a woman to love that loved him. And he had wanted children. He wanted a family.  That was all he ever wanted.


“Arawn?” Zelda whispered from the door.


“I’m okay.” Arawn closed his eyes and turned to join her in the hall. “I wanted a big family.” He pushed the door closed.


“I know you did.” Zelda placed her hands on his arms, standing in front of him. “I did too.”


“If this is what ye are comfortable with, then I will not bring it up again,” Arawn whispered. This was his desire, and it was selfish when it involved his beloved wife’s fears. This had been a hard decision for her to make. He wished that she had involved him in it. It would have been less painful.


“I love you, Arawn.” Zelda hugged him around the waist.


“But ye don’t love my Arcadian blood.” Arawn pushed her back gently. “I need to be alone for a wee bit.” Zelda followed him down the hall, wringing her hands.


“I love you, Arawn,” Zelda repeated. She hadn’t wanted to hurt him. It was rare for anything to bother Arawn, but Zelda knew what his biggest insecurities were. She had built on them over the years while avoiding them. “I love you.”


“I know ye do. To the ends of the Earth and back again.” Arawn grumbled. “I love ye too. This doesn’t change anything. I am disappointed that we couldn’t have talked about this. I am going to continue training Bog. He needs to know how to use everything he has. He will be the strongest King yer people have ever had.” Zelda was not happy to hear that. “And it’s time to let yer family know what he can do.” She was even less happy to hear that.


“One more thing.” Arawn turned to face his wife. “Promise me, if anything ever happens to me, ye raise Bogdan the same way we have been, knowing his Arcadian side. I have training books for him.”


“Don’t say things like that!” Zelda threw her arms around him and squeezed him. “Nothing is going to happen to you!” Then she began sobbing.


“Most likely not.” Arawn sighed, leaning down to hug her. “But I believe in being prepared for anything and making sure Bogdan doesn’t end up alone in this world. He’s a sweet kid. I would never have thought that such an innocent creation could come out of centuries of me.”


“He’s my favorite son.” Zelda chuckled.


“Ye aren’t supposed to play favorites with yer kids, Zelda.” Arawn grinned, then whispered, “He’s my favorite son too.” 

Chapter Text

November 14

Roland smiled gleefully as he accessed his hunter account, finding he still had access to the information he needed. He wasn’t having a lot of luck coming up with a plan to get to Marianne. His friends abandoned him, and he was fully aware that he had burned most of his contacts. He had no way to even get close to Marianne’s home. Arawn was there, and that man terrified him. Roland began his research, looking for ideas.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

“Eejit kid.” Arawn smirked, watching everything Roland looked through. It was early in the morning, and he sat in Zelda’s bed with his laptop out. Zelda was curled up next to him, half asleep.

“What was that?” Zelda yawned, pulling the blanket up over her bare shoulders.

“Roland is trying to work up a plan.” Arawn chuckled. “I’m watching him.”

“Bog won’t let me eat him,” Zelda muttered. “I offered.”

“Probably make ye sick.” Arawn set the laptop aside and joined his wife, snuggling up to her under the blanket. “I missed ye so much, even though I couldn’t remember what I was missing.”

“I missed you, and I knew what I was missing.” Zelda made a sad sniffling noise. “I didn’t believe you were dead. I would have felt it, but I had lost all hope of ever seeing you again. They took you so far away; I couldn’t figure out where you were.”

“Ye let Bogdan believe I was dead.” Arawn ran his fingers through Zelda’s hair, playing with the long wavy curls.

“I didn’t want him to look for you, because he would have.”

“Ye also told him I was an ordinary human.”

“Do we have to talk about that?” Zelda frowned, staring into her husbands bright blue eyes. “We don’t need to talk about it.”

“Why did ye have to lie to him? Why was the truth that bad?” Arawn looked back into her eyes, knowing he was upsetting her, but wanting an answer. “For over 3 decades. Why didn’t ye tell him when he became an adult?”

Zelda’s lower lip trembled, and she lowered her eyes, reaching out to embrace Arawn and pull herself closer to him. “Because I didn’t want to risk losing him.” She whispered. “He was the only part of you I had, and I wanted to keep him close.” She took a deep breath. “I regretted a lot of things I said to you, Arawn. I regretted things I did to you. I regretted.”

“Like what?” Arawn murmured, burying his face in her hair.

“Everything. I lost so much before I met you. You are the love of my life. I was awful to you, and then you were gone.”

“Ye weren’t that bad, Zelda. I think yer bein’ too hard on yerself. Besides, I’m here now, and I love ye every bit as much as I did then.”

“Can we stop talking about it now?” Zelda frowned.

“Yes, my lovely lass. There are other things I want to do.” Arawn took Zelda’s chin between his fingers and gently lifted it so he could kiss her fully. “Like making up for all that time apart.” He didn’t say another word, losing himself in his wife’s welcoming embrace.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Sunny, Bog, and Zelda sat on the Laird’s back porch early in the morning with plates of cinnamon rolls in hand. Arawn had Marianne and Dawn out in the yard, standing in over a foot of snow. Everyone was dressed warmly, except Bog who was in a black tank top and jeans. Arawn had told him it would be best to dress lightly for what they were going to practice with. “Okay, warm up time. Ye two clear and dry the yard so we can have room to practice.” Arawn directed Dawn and Marianne.

“Do you want to build a snowman?” Dawn giggled at her sister.

Marianne cracked her knuckles and flexed her fingers. “Biggest snowman wins.” The two separated to opposite sides of the yard. Arawn joined everyone else on the porch, sitting down next to Zelda on a swing.

“Hopefully, this doesn’t turn out like last time,” Arawn grumbled, helping himself to a piece of a cinnamon roll.

“What happened last time?” Bog stood between the two swinging chairs, watching Dawn and Marianne with interest.

“War,” Arawn smirked.

Then they began, simultaneously moving their hands in identical motions. The snow around Marianne rolled up into a ball, which she turned and manipulated to roll around her and gather up as much snow as possible. Dawn was doing the same thing, but a little slower and with less smoothness.

Marianne had Bog’s full attention. It was the first time he could watch her showing off her abilities. Soon, there were two massive snowmen forming on each side of the yard. Marianne’s was bigger … until a giant ball of ice smacked into the head while her back was turned. Dawn quickly turned around to her snowman, pretending to be focusing on it. Marianne froze as she heard the sound of a large ball of snow hitting the ground.

“Uh, oh,” Arawn chuckled. “Here we go.”

“Dawn, did you just attack my snowman?” Marianne turned slowly, seeing the missing ball, and her sister’s back turned to her.

“What?” Dawn was busy manipulating another ball of snow. She had a guilty smile on her face and wasn’t about to turn around and let Marianne see it. Marianne flicked her fingers, and a gust of wind grabbed the top of Dawn’s snowman, twisting it and destroying the top half. “Hey!” Dawn turned with a grin, flinging a snowball at Marianne.

The snowball made a direct hit, exploding over Marianne’s face. She hadn’t expected it and didn’t try to dodge it. Marianne blinked away the snow, then her eyes narrowed on Dawn. She lifted both hands, and a mass of snow from her own snowman began rising in the air. Dawn made a screeching noise and ran to get behind what was left of hers.

“Remember, Dawn is pregnant!” Sunny yelled, jumping off the porch and running to help his wife.

“Okay!” Marianne laughed, throwing the massive snowball into Sunny. He crashed into the ground beneath it, completely covered.

“Hey! Don’t crush Sunny!” Dawn whirled around, uttering a phrase that sent the bottom half of her snowman flying at Marianne. She did it a little too hard. Marianne yelped and dove to one side. The ball crashed into a section of Bog’s upraised garden and the fence, taking it with them. “Oops.” Dawn cringed seeing the damage she had just done. “I’m so sorry, Boggy!”

Bog stared at his fence, finishing off the cinnamon roll in his hands. This was just snow and wind. He chewed slowly, not sure how to respond. Marianne grinned, flexing her fingers and dragging half a dozen snowballs out of the destroyed section of the fence. She sent them flying at Dawn, who had no cover at all now. Dawn screamed, trying to get away from them. She threw her hands up and deflected the balls, sending them flying straight up in the air. Then she did the same thing Marianne had done and formed snowballs out of the pile of snow that was currently covering Sunny. She sent them flying after Marianne, who then realized that she also didn’t have anywhere to run.

Marianne took a stance and attempted to blow them back at Dawn, but there were too many of them. Several smacked into her chest, knocking her off her feet.

“If those were bullets, ye’d be dead!” Arawn shouted at the two. “Ye both have shields! Use them!” He stepped back to grin as both girls snapped up a transparent shield in front of them. This was an excellent opportunity to gauge Dawn and Marianne’s current ability level.

“Should ye be encouraging them?” Bog grumbled. “They already broke my fence.”

Marianne began sweeping the yard in front of them with wind, gathering up the last of the snow, then fire erupted in the middle of the yard. Dawn created a small wind funnel to take care of the fire, sending it whirling up into the sky along with the snow Marianne was attempting to throw on her. Marianne responded by sending a focused burst of wind at Dawn, which slammed into her shield and knocked her off her feet.

“Marianne!” Sunny shouted seeing his wife fall. “Don’t get carried away!” He was soaked and mad now. He ran to check on Dawn, who was giggling and picking herself up without his help.

“Yard’s clear! And I won!” Marianne grinned, walking up to the porch.

“Ye, good job, Elsa. So winner’s going to fix my fence and my garden bed, right?” Bog smirked at her, pointing to it. “Both of ye should take care of that.”

“No way. I was careful. I didn’t throw a big ball of snow into your fence!” Marianne protested with a smile, standing in front of Bog and poking him in the chest. She walked her fingers up Bog’s neck, then dragged one-up his cheek. “Winner gets a kiss.”

Bog lifted his chin, knowing she couldn’t reach him. “I dunno, ye-” Snow crashed down on top of Bog from the roof. He gasped, cold ice making its way beneath his clothes, and crouched. Marianne stepped back as it fell with a grin on her face. She moved forward and kissed him, then danced away.

“Sunny came out to help Dawn! You just stood there!” Marianne laughed. She gestured to the snow on Bog and pulled most of it off him, throwing it in her own yard.

“Okay, that’s enough.” Arawn chuckled. “I’m going to go and give Bog a quick lesson, then we’re unsealing yer abilities.”

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Marianne happily watched Bog practice the equation Arawn gave him. Watching that man working on something was always a pleasure. Bog created a small ball of blue lightning and rolled the orb over his fingers and along his arm, trying to control its path.

Arawn stepped onto the porch and sat down. “Before I remove the seal on your lycean side, ye need to know something important, Marianne.”

Zelda began giggling, and a huge smile spread over her face. “I voted for not telling you this.”

“I overruled her, fer ye and Bogdan’s own good.” Arawn groaned. “When a seal is removed, ye will be hit by overwhelming emotions and senses. It’s bad enough when it’s a Lycean who knows what it’s like to be a Lycean, but fer ye thought I should warn ya.”

“Okay, so I’m going to be able to see, hear, and smell a lot of things?” Marianne ventured. Dawn leaned in nearby, listening intently.

“Yes, better than ye could before, but that is not my concern.” Arawn smiled slightly. “I don’t know how many Lycean traits ye have, but because their genetic match instinct is so strong.” Arawn trailed off for a moment, staring at Marianne. “Zelda.”

“When you met Bog, how did you feel about him. Be truthful.” Zelda smiled, reaching out to take Marianne’s hand. “Could you get him out of your head, or were you drawn to him in any way.”

“I really liked him, but I wasn’t ready for a relationship,” Marianne explained. “But Bog wouldn’t get out of my head. I wanted to see him. I wanted to see him every day, and I would watch for him.” Her cheeks flushed as she admitted it. “I dreamed about Bog, and I didn’t even know him.”

“Yeah, that’s what it is, only you didn’t feel it as intensely as you should have because you were sealed.” Zelda nodded slowly. “So, you are going to get all of that emotion that you didn’t get over the last year all at once.”

“What?” Marianne stared at Zelda, then looked at Arawn. “Is that safe?”

“It will last for ten to fifteen minutes, but if ye want to go to yer house where ye can’t see Bogdan, ye won’t do anything ye might regret, because that’s MY worry,” Arawn stated. “Bogdan told me ye were waiting, and if I did this and let ye go, worst-case scenario, there would be no waiting.”

“Oh.” Marianne frowned. “Yeah, Bog would not be happy about that, and neither would I.”

“However, that’s why I’m telling ye this because it’ll be the only time ye get to feel exactly what Bog felt like and what ye are supposed to feel like when ye met. It’s just going to be concentrated.” Arawn explained further. “So if ye want to feel it, Zelda and I will be escorting ye to make sure nothing gets out of hand.”

“Wow. Is that going to happen to me too?” Dawn inquired in awe.

“Yer already married. We’re not stopping anything from happening.” Arawn chuckled. “But yes, it will be similar.”

“How do you know this?” Marianne stared at Arawn.

“I have to seal abilities for transporting prisoners, Marianne.” Arawn scowled. “I also do it to get dumb Lyceans out of trouble and relocate them to safer places.”

“Oh.” Marianne took a moment to think about it, then she looked up at Bog and smiled. “Think he would like that kind of surprise? Because I think he would.”

“I do. Within reason.” Arawn smiled. “He didn’t get the reaction from ye he should have.”

“I just want to watch.” Zelda giggled.

Arawn rolled his eyes. “I’ll keep ye from getting too carried away. I don’t have to worry about Bogdan. He will respond to ye, but he’ll keep his head. I think.”

Marianne took a deep breath, then looked at Arawn. “Okay. I’m ready. Do it here.”

“Remember, ye have full control of yerself, Marianne.” Arawn took Marianne’s hand and reached out to touch her head. He looked into her eyes and began speaking the equation to remove the seal. “Close yer eyes.”

Marianne squeezed her eyes tight as a warm sensation flooded through her head. Memories that had been hidden from her began rushing through her head. So many lost memories of her mother. She caught fragments of equations for healing and creation and how happy her mother had been at first. Then there were sadder memories where her mother stopped teaching her things and just looked worried and concerned. She even saw the day that Arawn came and took everything away.

Then there was a brief flash of white light and a strange lifting sensation in her ears, eyes, and nose. Marianne heard Arawn speaking clearly, even though he hadn’t changed how loud he spoke. She could smell everyone around her and it was overpowering. She didn’t dare open her eyes as a burning sensation went through them.

“We’re done,” Arawn whispered. “But don’t open your eyes immediately. Wait until you hear my voice at a whisper. It should only take a moment.” Marianne breathed in slowly, waiting for her senses to adjust.

“I’m going to be able to control this?” Marianne whispered. Her voice sounded incredibly loud.

“Yes. It will take time, but your body will adjust. You’ll never be able to do it as well as Bogdan, but ye will find it useful.” Arawn’s voice began dropping. Marianne smiled, hearing Bog’s name. The oddest sensation went through her body as she saw him in her mind. Her thoughts immediately ran wild, dragging her emotions with her. She wanted to open her eyes and look for him.

Bog stopped what he was doing and walked to the porch. He was hit with a sudden need to see to Marianne. There was more to it. She smelled different. The same, but different.

“Keep talking. You’re almost at a whisper.” Marianne grinned as a tremor passed through her body.

“How do ye feel, Marianne?” Bog’s beautiful voice called out next to her, and Marianne immediately opened her eyes and looked for him. Her vision was blurry until she blinked. She looked into his brilliant blue eyes and was drawn to him in a way she had never felt before. How had he managed to resist this? With it came amplified feelings she had always had for him.

“I love you.” Marianne grinned.

“I love ye, too.” Bog grinned back, unsure of what to make of the strange light in her eyes.

“Guess what.” Marianne gave him an even more worrying look. “I knew I loved you when I met you too, I just couldn’t feel it as strongly then.” Marianne moved so fast that even Arawn was impressed. She brought Bogdan down to the ground in seconds and ended up straddling his chest, her hands on his shoulders. Bog just laid there in astonishment as she covered him in wild passionate kisses.

“Here, I was worried his pants were going to come off.” Arawn sighed in relief. “This isn’t so bad.”

“Ahhhh.” Zelda gushed.

“Ooh, I’m next!” Dawn giggled, turning a flirtatious look to Sunny. He swallowed nervously in response.

Bog wasn’t sure what was going on, but he liked it. He completely forgot anyone else was nearby or that the ground was cold and hard. He wasn’t thinking at all. Marianne’s warm lips were on his, then she was kissing his neck, nibbling on his ears, and back to his mouth. Her hands were kneading into his shoulders, and she smelled so good.

“Okay, now, yer going to give my lad a heart attack.” Marianne was suddenly lifted off of Bog. She grabbed for his shirt, but Arawn was too quick for her. He took a few steps back and steadied Marianne on her feet.

Bog laid there for a moment, blinking unsurely. His face was red, and he was breathing heavily. “What was that?” He groaned, running a hand over his face.

“It’ll pass in a few minutes.” Arawn chuckled, keeping an arm around Marianne.

“Uh. Wow.” Marianne giggled, blushing.

Bog got up laughing. “So yer Lycean side was working through the seal? Ye chose me from the start!” He walked up to Marianne, arms out. Arawn stepped aside with a smile. Bog and Marianne embraced more reasonably, smiling, and sinking into each other’s arms.

“I love ye, Love.” Bog murmured, kissing the top of Marianne’s head.

“Mmm, you smell so good!” Marianne buried her face into his chest. “Oh this is amazing! I can’t describe it, but I like it! It’s YOU.”

“Yeah, Lyceans like to smell things.” Bog smirked. “I’ll help ye sort through those, but we should probably get on with our training now.” He let Marianne go. She turned and giddily walked toward Zelda, who was beckoning her to the house.

“Dear, I’ll teach you some interesting things.” Zelda chuckled, winking at Arawn.

“Bogdan, go back to yer practice. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Arawn motioned to Dawn and Sunny to follow her. Dawn bounced after Arawn with Sunny close behind, twisting his hands with a worried look on his face.

Bog couldn’t get rid of his smile as he was left alone. He went back to practicing, forming ball lightning on his fingertips and making it travel over his arm and up to his shoulders and down the opposite arm. He could feel it now, an unbreakable bond with Marianne. Before, he had only been able to feel his side, but now he felt complete like it should have always been.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

“What d’ya call a werewolf with a 5 o’clock shadow?” Arawn walked around Bog with a massive staff in hand. It had an ornamental hooked head with a golden orange gem in the center.

Bog turned to face him with an annoyed look on his face. In just a few days, he learned a lot about his father, and one of those things was he was full of bad dad jokes. He had been telling them to Bog in passing constantly. Bog was balancing an orb of ball lightning above each hand. “That’s distracting.”

“A barely-there-wolf.” Arawn chuckled, striking out at Bog’s left arm with the staff. Bog was too slow, and the orb exploded, sending a burst of electricity into his hand.

“Ow!” Bog yelped flinging his hand. Even the small orbs stung when he lost control of them. There was a black burn spot on his palm where it had struck. “Maybe ye should let me practice more before ye do that.”

“Pain is a powerful teacher, Bog.” Arawn twirled the staff and slammed it into the ground. A blast of energy exploded from it, sending Bog staggering back. Then Arawn took up a very intimidating fighting stance, beckoning Bog to try to attack him.

Bog wasn’t stupid. He wasn’t ready to spar with his father. Even though all of his memories were of a tender, caring father, he had been a small child then. The man standing before him was a hardened warrior who had seen multiple lifetimes worth of combat and training. Bog got the sense that if he took him up on that offer, he would wind up in a tree or smashing into a fence or the wall of his house. Arawn wouldn’t hold back, because he knew that Bog would just heal whatever he did to him.

It was not lost on Bog that his father was a dangerous man. If they met as Lycean and Arcadian Hunter, Bog would have run, and chances were Arawn would have been able to beat him into the ground. This man was a bogeyman in the mouths of Lycean mothers to their children.

“Let me practice more.” Bog offered up a crooked smile of deference.

“Good, Lad.” Arawn returned the smile with his own. “Don’t take on more than ye can handle until yer ready. Practice with the lightning fer now. Tomorrow we work on shields. By the way, I got an idea about how to take care of yer lack of defense when yer a wolf. Ye’ll like it, but I want ta see the Lycean who forged Marianne’s sword.”

“That would be Brutus.” Bog nodded. “I’ll introduce ye today if ye want.”

“I would.” Arawn nodded, flexing his hand to release his staff. It vanished.

“Will I be able to do that?” Bog motioned to Arawn’s empty hand.

“I hope so. The staff is a bloodline ability only linked to us.” Arawn nodded. “But it will take time to get to that point, and ye will need to be trained to use it.”

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

It was early evening when Bog and Arawn arrived at Brutus’ home. It was a few blocks away from Bog’s house, and they walked. Bog refused to ride in his CR-V and handed over the keys to his father without a word. They waited until Brutus had free time to talk to Arawn.

“Evening, Bog!” Brutus greeted with a huge smile. “Glad to see you’re okay. When’s that party?”

“The 22nd. Let everyone know I’m hosting.” Bog grinned as his friend patted him on the back so hard he almost knocked him down. “This is my father, Arawn.”

“We’ve met.” Brutus chuckled.

“That sword you made for Bog. Did you know it is a channel weapon?” Arawn inquired, curious to see if Brutus knew what he was making. The big man’s face went completely blank, trying to figure out what he was asking.

“I make them the way my father taught me, and his father taught him.” Brutus looked perplexed.

Arawn reached into his pocket and pulled out a small dagger in a sheath. He handed it to Brutus. “This is a channel weapon too. Look it over, then give it back and I will show you how they are used. Lyceans can’t use them as they are intended.”

Brutus took the dagger and pulled it from the sheath. He turned it over, noting the designs and faint inscriptions along with the fuller that ran through the center. Brutus handed it back to Arawn.

“Brutus, don’t be alarmed.” Bog stated. “Arawn is my father. Remember that.”

Arawn chuckled, holding the blade up. “This is how it’s supposed to be used.” He flicked his wrist and a bolt of electricity arced off his hand and hit the blade, lighting it up. It danced over the metal, arcing over it repeatedly. Brutus’ eyes widened, and he took a step back. He looked Arawn up and down, then looked at Bog. “It’s a weapon for Arcadians, Brutus. Ye forge a good one too. Marianne used the sword you created to free Bog.”

“You’re an Arcadian? Marianne is an Arcadian?” Brutus stared at Arawn in awe with a touch of fear on his face. Arawn flicked the electricity off the blade, making it dissipate harmlessly into the air.

“Oh, it gets better, and ye get to be the first one to see this.” Bog held out his hand, letting the same blue lightning that his father had flicker over his finger sand arc into a ball. “Isn’t this awesome, Brutus. I have Arcadian abilities.” Brutus stared, and Bog wasn’t sure if he was going to be happy about it or upset. He was one of Bog’s oldest friends.

“That’ s-that’s impossible,” Brutus stated in awe. Then he smiled. “You’re amazing, Bog.”

Bog grinned, snapping his hand closed to draw the energy back inside. “Great. I was hoping ye wouldn’t be afraid of it.”

“I know you,” Brutus stated enthusiastically. “I’ve never heard of a Lycean with Arcadian abilities! This is amazing! Can I tell the guys?!”

“If ye think they won’t freak out.” Bog nodded quickly. This was the way he wanted the news to get out. Word of mouth through his trusted friends first.

“Yeah, so the reason we’re here is I want ye to forge some weapons for me, Bog, and Marianne.” Arawn reached into his pocket and pulled out several sheets of paper. He handed them to Brutus. “We’ll be paying ye well for them. I also wanted to see if ye could make a few pieces of armor to test on Bog. He needs some sort of protection.”

“I can do this. I’d be happy to do this.” Brutus nodded quickly, glancing at the designs. “It’ll take me a while. What do you want me to start first.”

“This one.” Arawn took the papers back, went through them and put one on top. “Don’t let him see it.”

“What? What are you doing?” Bog tried to look, and Brutus turned around too fast for him to see.

“He told me not to let you look.” Brutus grinned.

“I know. I’m standing right here.” Bog scowled.

Chapter Text

November 16

-=-=-=-=-

Marianne opened her door to find Bog on the other side. He stormed inside, walked to the couch, turned, and plopped down in the middle of it with a loud groan. “I live here now!”

“You what?” Marianne turned, stifling a giggle as she closed the door.

“I LIVE on yer couch. Right here.” Bog threw his head back and put his arms out on the back of the couch and crossed his feet on top of the coffee table. “Forever. I’ll cook and clean, just don’t make me go home.”

“Uh, we’re getting married in a little over a month, Bogdan.” Marianne sat down next to him and kissed him on the cheek.

“I need to do something about my parents.” Bog dropped his arm around Marianne’s waist. He added in a whisper. “They’re having … relations … all over my house.” Bog said it with a scowl and an extreme look of disgust.

Marianne tried to hold it back. The way he said it. It was hilarious. She made it ten seconds before throwing her head back and howling in laughter.

“It’s not funny!” Bog scowled at her. “They were in my studio! MY STUDIO! They said they wanted to watch the sunrise, and then one thing led to another!” He groaned, running his hand over his face and into his hair. “I walked in on them in the den, in the kitchen, in the living room! We can not share a house with them, Marianne!”

“Yeah, you might have a point there.” Marianne sighed. It wasn’t funny anymore. “You have other properties? Maybe the farmhouse?” She laughed. “Just build them a house?”

Bog looked at her thoughtfully, then shifted so he could kiss her. “Ye might be on to something. I’ll be back.” He got up, then turned to Marianne, “Would ye prefer living in my house or a new house?”

“I’m fine living where ever you are.” Marianne smiled. “But if you want to build a house, I’d prefer we take our time and get what we both want.”

“Okay.” Bog nodded, darting out of the house with a mission.

-=-=-=-=-

Bog returned half an hour later with a confused look on his face and a handful of papers. Marianne sat in the living room with her laptop, working when he came inside. “So my mom and dad have already been talking about this. They want the plot behind my house. Dad apparently told mom to do whatever she wanted, and she uh. Marianne. Look at this.” Bog sat down next to her and held out the papers.

Marianne took the papers and flipped through them. The plans were for a two-story house with two master suites on the bottom floor and two bedrooms. There were four more bedrooms on the second floor. The layout looked a lot like the farmhouse’s layout, at least what Marianne had seen.

“Why do they need so many bedrooms?” Bog fidgeted with his fingers.

“Probably for when we have six kids and run out of room in your house,” Marianne suggested with a half-hearted smile.

“She just doesn’t stop.” Bog sighed. Then he turned to look at Marianne with a smile. “Yer going to see something amazing. I’m going to get a house built before our wedding.” He was up again and out the door.

Marianne shook her head and smiled. When that man got something in mind, he did it. This was going to be an interesting month.

-=-=-=-=-

Marianne finished up her work for the day before noon. She had a few small projects left but had decided to not pursue other work for a while. She had decided to only take on more work if it was offered to her, but her fingers were itching for something else.

Zelda taught Marianne how to scan and do simple healing equations. She was only to do simple things until she learned to manage what she was doing. Then, Zelda had her creating solid objects with increasing levels of complexity to see what level she was at to start with. Marianne managed to create basic shapes that were smooth. The next step was to manipulate them together and learn how to create different materials. It was a lot of work to remember the equations for each little thing.

However, with alchemy, the more times you used an equation and spoke it, the more it became innate. Eventually, she would not have to say the equations. She would just have to think them. At some point, she would be able to do it without thinking at all.

Marianne was beginning to consider Arawn’s offer. She came from a family of well-known hunters. Her father had forbidden her and Dawn from pursuing that as a career, for their safety. They were his only daughters, and he continually claimed he had no interest in ever having another wife or more children. That didn’t make sense to Marianne. He was only a little over a hundred. It was common for Arcadians to have one or two children every 50 or 60 years. Each time they reset their lives to avoid any normal human from figuring out there was something different about them. Her father was considered a young adult by Arcadian standards, and due to his family line, he would be expected to have more children in the future but wasn’t interested.

Lucas’ parents were raising twin girls. Marianne had lots of uncles and aunts. Even her great grandparents had a teenaged son. As Marianne was thinking about her family tree, a realization hit her. Her father said there was a lot of Lycean blood in her family, and she had not asked who else was Lycean. When he stated he didn’t have any Lycean abilities, did that imply that grandmother or grandfather was a Lycean? Great grandmother and great grandfather? Which ones were Lyceans, and which ones were Arcadians? Everyone in their family had taken the King’s surname as tradition dictated.

They were all invited to the wedding, and if they came, she might be able to find out. Marianne was deep in her thoughts when she heard the sound of a chainsaw starting up. She set the laptop down and stared at the far wall. He couldn’t have begun that fast. Marianne got up and went up the stairs to her studio. She went to the windows that faced out to the forest and stared out at the sight before her. A dozen men were walking through the trees, marking them. Behind them was a crew with a huge machine that was literally eating trees.

The massive yellow vehicle was one of the biggest pieces of equipment Marianne had ever seen. It was built like a tank, moving on treads. The machine had a towering arm outfitted with rotating blades at the end, and it rose over the top of a tree, came down, and turned it into mulch. Marianne stared at it in awe. The men on the ground were keeping well away from it.

There were other pieces of construction equipment parked nearby along with diggers and vehicles full of piping. Marianne checked the time. It was early afternoon, and Bog had gotten all these people and all these machines out, in the snow, in under three hours. He was seriously going to get a house built in a month.

-=-=-=-=-

Roland smiled. It had taken him several days, but he had a plan. Bog was a threat to his goal of getting to Marianne. Arawn was a far more significant threat. Bog could be taken down with silver, and Roland was already working on that. He had his gear, guns, and a few silver blades he could use. Roland needed one well-placed shot, and that monster would go down. Then his only obstacle was Marianne, and he would take her by surprise. There could be no mistakes. He had one opportunity, and if he failed, he would never get another one.

Roland had a plan.

It was a good one.

-=-=-=-=-

The doorbell rang, and Marianne rushed to answer it. For a moment, she thought it would be Bog, then remembered that he didn’t ring the doorbell anymore or even knock. He came inside. The front door was always unlocked during the day. She heard the sound of Titania’s nails across the living room floor as she reached the door.

Marianne opened the door to find herself face to face with a young woman she had never met before. She was a couple of inches taller than her and wore the fluffiest golden-white fur wrap Marianne had ever seen. The woman was fully clothed in matching fur. She was wearing a winter coat that went down to her knees and wore white knee-high leather boots. Piercing blue eyes shone out from a pale face, beneath a mass of wavy golden-brown hair.

“Good afternoon.” The woman didn’t wait to be invited inside. She stepped past Marianne and held out her hand. “Since you and Bog have not come to see me, I figured I would take his advice and ‘get out more.’”

“Uhm.” Marianne stared at the woman’s hand suspiciously and then out the door.

“Isn’t it rude not to greet a guest? I would like to be friends.”

“Who are you again?” Marianne wasn’t sure what to make of the strange woman.

“Amber.” The woman smiled and flicked her wrist, closing the door without touching it. “Now, you and I need to speak. Don’t be afraid. If you’re afraid, Bog’s going to run over here and try to rescue you.”

“I’m not-WHO, are you?” Marianne scowled at the woman. “It’s kinda rude to invite yourself into someone’s house like this.” She reached for the door to open it.

“Amber.” The woman touched Marianne’s arm for a brief moment, then she smiled. “Someone removed your seal. You know the truth.”

Marianne whirled around with her back to the door. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

Amber sighed. “And now he’s going to come. Look. I want to be friends with you. You are important to Bog, but the two of you need to respect me, and ignoring me is not going to work for anyone. I am not going to hurt you.”

Marianne heard Bog coming up the steps in a rush. She moved aside so she wouldn’t be hit by the door when he opened it. “Marianne?” Bog opened the door and entered the room in a slight crouch, looking around for whatever it was that was bothering her. His eyes settled on Amber. “Who are ye?”

“Amber.” The woman grinned at Bog. He stared at her for a moment.

“Amber?” He immediately moved to stand in front of Marianne. “What are ye doing here? I said I would bring Marianne to ye when she’s ready to meet ya. Ye remember trying to BITE her, right?”

“What?” Titania appeared out of nowhere and began growling at Amber.

“Oh, that’s cute.” Amber grinned at the dog. “Arcadian Hellhound? Maybe I should improve upon the design.” She looked at Titania curiously. “Want a dog?”

“No.” Bog shook his head. “That one’s kinda annoying.”

“What?” Titania turned her attention to Bog, gave a little snort, and vanished.

“Now you’ve done it.” Marianne rolled her eyes. “You’ve offended her.”

“How can I offend her? She’s not MINE. We don’t need one of those following us all over the place. I swear she sits outside the bathroom every time I come over.” Bog swung his arms where Titania had been.

“Try having two of them.” Marianne wiped a hand over her face. “Dad’s Hell hounds do it all the time, and they aren’t invisible. I still trip over them in the middle of the night. You’d think something with glowing eyes would be easy to see, but no. They aren’t.”

“Anyway, I’m taking your advice and getting out into the world more.” Amber grinned at Bog. “And I’m going to think about what gift I need to make… oh wait, you need to apologize to me first.” Amber shifted her gaze to Marianne.

“Uhm.” Marianne sighed. “I’m sorry I lied to you and Bog.”

“Is that enough?” Bog folded his arms and glared at Amber.

“Never do it again.” Amber grinned. “Now, I’m going to go walk around town and meet people.”

“Behave.” Bog sighed, turning to open the front door. Marianne scooted behind him. She did not trust Amber, in this form or any other. That creature was frightening.

-=-=-=-=-

The King’s ate dinner at the Laird’s home that evening. Zelda wanted them over for a lesson in scanning a pregnant woman. That pregnant woman would be Dawn, who was more than happy to participate. So far, Zelda taught her how to stop her morning sickness and queasiness. Now she would teach her and Marianne how to do a quick health check on the baby. Dawn was fascinated by it because she wasn’t even to the point that she was showing. Zelda assured her Lyceans could manage their own pregnancies and know if something was wrong before anyone else.

Zelda had Dawn sitting in the middle of the couch. Zelda was sitting on one side and Marianne on the other. Bog was sitting on the arm of the couch next to Marianne, attempting to look disinterested in Dawn. Arawn was watching from across the living room in one of the recliners. Sunny sat in the other, looking on nervously.

“You put your hand over your abdomen, right here.” Zelda moved Dawn’s hand to rest over her belly button. “Then you say these words exactly.” She uttered a short phrase.

Dawn repeated it and giggled. “Oh, wow. I can hear a heartbeat.” She turned to her sister, moving her hand away. “Marianne, do it.” Marianne put her hand in the same place and repeated the words.

“Wow. That’s so amazing.” Marianne grinned at her younger sister. It really was amazing. Her little sister was going to be a mother. Then she made a concerned face. “There’s something off about it.” She whispered, not wanting to worry her sister. “Or am I not doing it right?”

Zelda chuckled. “Very perceptive. Bogdan, your turn.”

“Me? Why me? I’m not a midwife.” Bog jerked his head around and protested. He didn’t want to touch Dawn there. It was just weird.

“You’ve assisted me in four births and are fully trained.” Zelda grinned at her son.

“Don’t tell them that.” Bog groaned, glancing at his father. “I was bored.”

“Impressive.” Arawn chuckled. “So ye can deliver babies if it’s needed? That could be useful. Regular mid-wolf.” Bog groaned louder at his father.

“Bogdan.” Zelda nodded toward Dawn. “Check her and tell me what you can detect, so they know what to look for.” Sunny watched in silence as Bog grumbled and knelt next to Dawn. He placed his hand over her abdomen. He spoke, then jerked his head in Sunny’s direction. A lopsided grin spread across his face.

“Oh. That’s going to be news.” Bog chuckled, tapping his fingers on Dawn’s abdomen and saying another short equation. “Do I get to tell them or you?”

“What?” Dawn looked from bog to Zelda in concern.

“Sunny. You do it now.” Zelda motioned to Dawn. “Dawn told me you’re an Atlantean. You have this ability.”

“Atlantean?” Bog stood up and blinked at Sunny. “I thought ye were an Arcadian too.”

“No.” Sunny got up and walked to his wife. “I just haven’t mentioned it.” Marianne got up to let Sunny sit next to his wife. He leaned over to put his hand on Dawn’s stomach. “What is the equation again? I lost my family when I was young. I don’t know how to do this.”

“You need to be learning this with Dawn and Marianne.” Zelda tsked him and repeated the phrase. “Listen carefully and tell me what you hear.”

Sunny took a breath and repeated the words. He listened for a moment, then looked up at Dawn. “Dawn. Do it again and listen.” He moved his hand, and the color seemed to drain from his face.

“What is it, Sunny?” Dawn looked worried.

“Stop dragging this along. Dawn, yer pregnant with twins.” Bog scowled at how long they were taking to reveal this.

“Twins?” Dawn gaped, folding her hands over her abdomen. She spoke, then smiled. “I hear it!” Then she looked at Sunny wide-eyed. “We’re having twins!” Then she burst into tears.

“What’s wrong with that? Two for the price of one.” Arawn leaned forward to watch the scene unfold. “Sounds good in my book.”

“Would you like to know if yer having boys or girls?” Bog grinned, rubbing his hands together eagerly.

Dawn stopped crying immediately and stared at Bog. “I want to know!”

“Uh, yeah?” Sunny looked at Bog uncertainly.

“Boys. Yer having boys.” He chuckled.

Dawn began crying again. “I don’t know anything about boys!”

“Yer married to one.” Bog was amused by the reaction.

“Not helping.” Marianne jabbed Bog in the ribs with her elbow. “I’m sure it’ll be fine, Dawn.”

“I’m going to be around all the time!” Zelda grinned, hugging Dawn. “I love babies, and there haven’t been any in our neighborhood for years!”

“Mah! Ye delivered one last year.” Bog pointed out with a groan.

“She wasn’t next door!” Zelda gushed. She patted Dawn on the back. “Don’t you worry about a thing. Everything is going to be all right. You’ll do fine.”

-=-=-=-=-

“I can’t believe Dawn is going to have two babies, and I’m not even married yet.” Marianne was sitting next to Bog on one of the swings in the backyard. It was almost too cold to sit outside, but their other options would have invited too much teasing from Zelda.

“I don’t think it’s a race or anything.” Bog wasn’t sure what to say to that. “We have all the time in the world.”

“Yeah.” Marianne nodded.

“There isn’t a rush,” Bog added, squeezing Marianne affectionately.

“August. It’s August.” Marianne stated.

“August?” Bog wasn’t following.

“The earliest we could try.”

“Oh. OH!” Bog trembled nervously. “No, Marianne. Just because yer sister’s pregnant and we’re getting married doesn’t mean we need to start a family right away. We’ll have our hands full helping yer sister.”

“Just letting you know.” Marianne smiled, glad to hear he wasn’t trying to pressure her into it. “You do need to know.”

“I do.” Bog nodded. “But we don’t need to even discuss that. My mom had a rule. Two years before any children. Two years between.”

“Why don’t you have any siblings?” Marianne did the math immediately. “Shouldn’t you have had at least one younger brother or sister?” She felt Bog sigh and regretted asking.

Bog told her about the conversation he had overheard as a child. Marianne listened.

“That’s not your fault, Bogdan.” She adjusted how she was sitting to put her arms around him and lay her head against his shoulder. “That was your mom’s decision.”

“Does it concern ye?” Bog kissed her on the forehead, enjoying her warmth.

“No. I’m not sure I understand why my mom and dad were concerned,” Marianne grumbled. “In our family, it’s expected that every generation is stronger than the one before it. That’s just how it is. Dawn and I can do more than Dad can. He can do more than his parents could.”

“But ye don’t just develop Lycean abilities out of nowhere, Marianne.” Bog shook his head. “Maybe the fear is that they would make yer family outcast?”

“Possibly.” Marianne sighed. “But that doesn’t matter now. Our family is going to grow up here, and it looks like your people are more accepting of what we are.”

“I’m sure there are some who are not happy.” Bog shrugged. “Just how it is, but they will accept it.” Marianne was silent for a moment. She was kneading her fingers into his back with one hand. The other was gently stroking his arm. Bog lowered his head with a contented sigh. “Ye have no idea how good that feels.”

“That’s why I’m doing it.” Marianne grinned, running her hand up the middle of Bog’s back. He stiffened, then shuddered with a low groan.

“Yer going to drive me crazy.”

“That’s the point.” She slid out from under the blanket and straddled him, rising up on her knees and beginning to kiss him on the neck. “Little over a month.”

“Probably shouldn’t be doing this,” Bog mumbled, not trying to stop her. “Ye smell so good.”

“I love you.” Marianne spent several minutes kissing Bog. He put his hands on her waist and held them there.

“I love ye so much, Marianne.” He whispered, turning his head. “So, we’re going inside now.”

“Probably a good idea.” She grinned, leaning her forehead against his and held it for a moment, gazing into his eyes.

Chapter Text

November 20th

-=-=-=-=-=-

It only took a few days for the house being built behind Bog’s home to begin taking form. A huge basement had been dug beneath it. Bog informed Marianne that it was going to be a tremendous training room Arawn requested. The foundation was poured soon after and using alchemy, it was fully cured in a fraction of the time it would usually have taken.

“There’s a Nightmare in the front yard.” Dawn gasped suddenly. She and Sunny were standing near the windows in the living room.

“Seriously?” Marianne rushed to the window. Bog and another man were walking across the lawn to her porch, and behind them was a massive winged horse. It was covered in a coat of dark red fur that glistened in the sunlight like velvet. It had a bright red sheen. The wings folded at its sides were massive dragon wings. Golden orange fire lazily licked along the neck where a mane should have been. The tail was the same. This was a Solar Draconis, and Marianne had never seen one before.

Bog opened the door and noticed the Kings all staring out the window. “He’s harmless. Unless yer carrying black licorice. That’s Brimstone.” He stepped aside, putting a hand on the shoulder of the young man who had followed him inside. “And this is Kyler Brennan, one of my Peacekeepers.”

“Hi.” Kyler smiled a smile which immediately brightened the room. It was just so friendly. It might also have been the fact that a solid black ferret-like animal sat on top of his head. The small animal raised its paw in greeting and smiled, flaring out a small set of black bat-like wings. These were the first two familiars the Kings had seen in Blackwood.

Kyler was a few inches shorter than Bog. He had a muscular build, lightly tanned skin, and golden brown hair that fell in neatly groomed waves over golden-brown eyes. Kyler had a rugged layer of golden brown stubble on his pleasant face. He wore a clean white shirt and blue jeans with a tool belt strapped over his hips, and he carried a tablet in one hand. “Which one are you marryin’?” Kyler chuckled, looking from the obviously energetic Dawn to moody looking Marianne.

“I’m sure ye can guess,” Bog smirked, closing the door behind him.

“Hi, I’m Marianne.” She stepped forward and offered her hand.

“You can call me Kyler, Ma’am.” He took her hand and grinned as Marianne made sure to squeeze tight. “Not necessary to try to crush my hand. Any girl who’s fit for Bog’s gotta have spirit.”

“Introduce me!” The creature on Kyler’s head fluttered his wings.

“This is Fudge.” Kyler waved at him. “He’s a spy.”

“Absolute best spy!” Fudge stated proudly folding his wings on either side of Kyler’s head.

“Yeah, so why don’t you get off and go make friends with that happy girl over yonder.” Kyler gestured to Dawn. The animal immediately bounced off of Kyler’s head and swooped into Dawn’s arms.

“Oh, good grief! It’s so cute!” Dawn wrapped her arms around it and hugged it like it was a plush animal. It squeaked cheerfully.

“It’s a spy?” Bog gave Kyler an odd look. “Why’d ye bring it here? Where did ye get it.”

“You know the Springer land.” Kyler turned to Bog, glancing at Marianne as he did.

“Yeah, we used to go up there and try to catch those little mini-oh.” Bog looked at the animal that was now crawling up Dawn’s shoulder and back to Kyler. “Ye caught one?”

“He followed me home to spy on me.” Kyler rolled his eyes.

“Did ye finally buy the land?” Bog asked. There were a few properties on the outskirts of town that were owned by human families. Over the years, they were purchased by Bog or one of the nearby Lycean families.

“No,” Kyler stated.

“Didn’t I tell you to buy that house months ago? What’s the holdup, Kyler?”

“The property is full of servant dragons and some sleepin’ Primes,” Kyler whispered. “It’s Emily Springer. She came home and remember, she’s not a human, and she’s not a Lycean, an Arcadian, OR an Atlantean. She’s something else, and she doesn’t know it. She doesn’t remember anything about Blackwood or me. She has kids.”

“I see.” Bog nodded in concern. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something, then stopped himself. He remembered Emily. He remembered a lot more about that than he wanted to admit to.

Kyler lowered his head, staring at the floor for a moment. “Funny how ya found your match and mine returned in the same year. I was afraid to tell you because I didn’t know what she is. I didn’t want you tryin’ to get her outta town.”

“Kyler.” Bog held out a hand to Marianne. “Marianne’s an Arcadian.” Kyler turned quickly to face Marianne, a look of fear crossing his face. “It’s okay!” Bog clapped his other hand on Kyler’s shoulder. “Kyler is an Eximius Lycean.” Bog was quick to explain.

“I’m not going to hurt anyone!” Marianne smiled, holding her hands up and stepping away from Kyler. He still regarded her with suspicion. “I am half Lycean.” She added. Kyler relaxed noticeably at that.

“Sorry.” He apologized. “You understand?”

“I do.” Marianne nodded.

“Ye should talk to my mom about her, Kyler. She knows stuff about everyone and might even know what she is.” Bog advised. “I’m not going to do anything about her. I trust yer judgment.”

“Yeah.” Kyler looked in the direction of Bog’s house thoughtfully. “That’s why I came early today.” Then he turned back to Bog and Marianne. “I apologize for the noise. You can’t build a house quietly, but we will be puttin’ up some sound barriers so it won’t be that bad. We will be workin’ 16-hour shifts from 6 in the mornin’ until 10 at night. We’ll keep the noise in between 7 and 9.”

“We can live with that.” Marianne nodded.

“If all goes well, we’ll have it done in two weeks.” Kyler grinned. “Should be move-in ready before the 18th.”

“Good.” Bog sighed. “My parents are driving me crazy. If ye come over, ye need to come to this house and not mine. Ye’ll regret going over there at the wrong time.”

“Good to know.” Kyler nodded. “If you could arrange for me to talk to your mom, let her know I know Emily is a Vanderian.”

“Vanderian?” Bog blinked at Kyler. “I’ll let mom know.”

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog and Marianne stood across from each other in the Laird’s back yard. They were ten feet apart, facing each other and dressed in clothing that was too light for the chilly day. The sun was shining, but everything was cold. There were still little piles of snow in the darker corners of the yard. Bog was in sweatpants and a black tank top. Marianne was wearing a white tank top and shorts.

Arawn walked around them with his staff in hand. “Bogdan, I want ye to throw up shields and block Marianne’s fire blasts. Marianne, ye need to do the best to hit him.”

“I don’t want to hurt him, Arawn.” Marianne scowled.

“Bah, he’ll heal.” Arawn gestured for Marianne to begin. “Or ye can practice yer healing on him. That would be good too.”

“I can do this.” Bog smirked at Marianne. “Don’t worry about it.” Arawn chuckled, continuing his walk around the pair. “Stop flirting and get to business.”

Marianne drew her hand up, and a ball of fire formed in her palm. Bog threw his hands forward, palms out to create a simple, transparent shield. She threw her fireball, and Arawn thrust his staff out at Bog’s shield, breaking it. The fireball smacked into Bog’s hands, exploding on contact, sending him crashing to the ground with a surprised yelp.

“Think faster,” Arawn grunted, twirling the staff while Bog patted his hands on the ground to put out the flames clinging to them. Marianne stared at Arawn. Bog scowled, healing his hands and rising back to his feet. “Yer never going tae be hit just by ONE thing at a time.”

“Again.” Bog prepared himself, keeping an eye on his father. Marianne created another fireball, and Arawn swept his staff into the back of her knees. The fireball exploded in her hands, catching her shirt on fire.

“Dad!” Bog yelled, lunging forward to help Marianne put out the fire.

“I have it!” Marianne held a hand up to Bog, reclaiming the fire in her other hand. She scowled, looking down at the burned cloth that was showing quite a bit more of her chest than she wanted on display. She flicked her hand to dissipate the fire.

“Give me a moment.” Bog sighed, placing his hand over her chest without touching her. He mumbled an equation and swept his hand over the burned cloth, immediately restoring it to how it had been. “Ye weren’t burned, were ye?” He asked, withdrawing his hand.

“I’m fine.” Then she turned to Arawn and began yelling at him. “We’re just practicing! You don’t need to create actual scenarios, Arawn!”

“What’s the fun in that?” Arawn leaned on his staff and gave them both a lopsided smile. “This is how I taught ye everything ye know, Marianne.”

“In a training room. With fireproof gear!” Marianne scowled. Then she turned to grab Bog by the arm. “We’re done!”

“She said we’re done.” Bog smiled at his father.

“Git yer numpty butts back here.” Arawn snarled, walking after them. “Bogdan, ye need tae practice.”

“Maybe later.” Bog was pulled up the porch by a smiling Marianne. “I think it’s time to practice something else.” The two of them broke into a run to the back door, leaving Arawn fuming behind them. He stomped up the back steps, fully intent on dragging both of them back outside by their ears.

Arawn’s phone rang, and he stopped on the porch to answer it. He spoke for a few minutes, then smiled. It was time to deal with the Roland situation.

-=-=-=-=-=-

“Roland’s meeting with the Kane’s tonight at 10 pm at a location north of Rock Castle,” Arawn told Bog. “I’ll be going up there to personally take care of him.

“Alone?” Bog scowled.

“I’ll take Titania.” Arawn nodded. “In case this is a setup, ye should stay here with Marianne.”

“Yeah.” Bog nodded slowly.

“I gotta go listen tae that Kyler lad now. Yer mom wants me to tae take a bigger role in dealing with issues here.” Arawn excused himself. He put a hand on Bog’s shoulder and looked at him quietly for a moment. “This will be over soon.”

“I hope so.” Bog scowled.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Dawn danced to a song on the radio in the kitchen. She was washing and rinsing a small load of dishes in the sink. Sunny leaned in the doorway, his eyes fixed on his lovely wife. Marianne was outside on the front porch with Bog. Bog had been over so often, that Sunny and Dawn were finding they didn’t have any private time together at all.

Sunny glanced at the front door, then he smiled and crept up behind Dawn.

“Sunny!” Dawn giggled as he wrapped his arms around her waist from behind her and gave her a hug. Sunny pressed his face against Dawn’s shoulder and smiled.

“Marianne and Bog are outside, and I thought we could go have a little fun.” Sunny ran his hands down to Dawn’s hips. “And I’ll even finish the dishes.”

“Now that’s some sexy talk.” Dawn giggled, quickly drying her hands. She turned around and leaned over to wrap her arms over her shorter husband’s shoulders. Dawn tilted her head, then leaned in for a kiss. Sunny enthusiastically met her, pressing himself against her, whispering her name, telling her how beautiful she was, and beginning a relatively long description of what he wanted to do to her once they reached their room.

The front door opened, and Sunny groaned, pressing his face against Dawn’s chest in annoyance. Why did Bog and Marianne choose to come in now?

“Sunny,” Dawn whispered, stepping back. “We have company.” Sunny turned around to see two kids and Marianne standing behind them, giving Dawn and Sunny a ‘knowing’ look. Titania bounded through the kitchen with a Belgian Malinois bouncing after her. The dog only had her right ear.

“This is Harper and Mason,” Maria introduced the kids. Harper looked like she was maybe 12 or 13. She was fair-skinned with shoulder-length blond hair and dark blue eyes. Mason was considerably younger and darker complected with short auburn hair and green eyes. “And this is my sister Dawn and her husband, Sunny.”

Dawn had no problem switching gears and stepped forward. “Hello!” Sunny forced a smile and waved.

“There’s an emergency,” Marianne stated. “We need you to watch them until it’s resolved. Maybe make them something to eat and find a movie?”

“Or just TV!” Mason piped up. “We don’t have a tv, and I miss it!”

“Movies are fine too,” Harper added. “I have homework.”

“We can do that!” Dawn grinned cheerfully. Sunny frowned behind her. He wasn’t even a father yet, and children were interrupting his private time with his wife.

“I’m going to Bog’s house to see what they’re doing. We’ll probably be back here shortly.” Marianne waved and excused herself.

“This way to the den,” Dawn cheerily motioned to the door the two dogs had just gone through. The two kids looked at Dawn and Sunny curiously and did as they were told.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Almost an hour later, Dawn was busy cleaning up the mess she had made in the kitchen. She’d made a whole pile of grilled cheese sandwiches. Sunny was sitting in the living room, watching the two kids. They were all watching a movie on TV. Dawn sang a cheerful little song as she brought in some empty cans from the den and tossed them in the trash, then she grabbed a broom.

There was a loud pounding on the front door. “I’ll get it!” Dawn bounced out of the room with a smile. She opened the door without a second thought to find Arawn standing there. He stood, fully decked out in black plated hunter armor, and a well worn black leather duster. He grinned at her and waved.

“Arawn’s got something to do.” Bog leaned into the door frame, whispering to Dawn.

“This is going to be awful.” Marianne groaned, trying to keep quiet. Arawn stormed past a started Dawn, stomping as loudly as he could through the house. Bog and Marianne stepped inside quietly, with Zelda trailing them. “Harper had some questions, and she sent emails out on the library computers to some paranormal groups,” Marianne explained to her sister. Loud shouting came from the den. “There are two hunters who are in Blackwood right now or coming in soon to investigate.”

“Oh, no!” Dawn gasped, lifting her hands to her mouth. She turned and frowned, walking back to the den with her broom in hand. The yelling was getting louder. Then the house actually shook. Dawn darted through the door and smacked Arawn on the back of the head with the bristled end of her broom.

“Arawn!” Dawn yelled. “Stop scaring the kids!” She glanced at them, noting Harper pressed up against the corner of the couch with her brother, both of them in tears. Her own husband stared at Arawn in horror.

“Hey! Stop hitting me!” Arawn turned to Dawn with a crooked smile. He smacked at the broom with his staff. Dawn flipped it around and hit him with the wooden end on the shoulder, then she jabbed at his gut. Arawn laughed and effortlessly smacked her away with the broad head of his staff.

The kids stared in complete bewilderment. Sunny peeked between his fingers, shaking more than the kids.

Bog, Marianne, and Zelda filed into the room behind Dawn. Harper’s face was white as she looked at them, then she burst into tears again. “I just wanted to know more!”

“She didn’t mean any harm!” Mason added defensively.

Arawn opened his hand, and the staff vanished back to where it’d come from. He strode up to the two kids and knelt before them. He spoke in a gentler tone, but still stern. “Do ye realize ye could get people killed by askin’ questions from tha wrong people or places? I know the two of ye have only known the human world, but if yer going tae live here, ye have tae understand. Everyone is responsible fer everyone else’s safety. Yer own included.”

“Now, ye two need to listen tae me.” Arawn reached out to wipe away Harper’s tears. She was looking at him fearfully and still crying with intermittent choking sounds. “I am an Arcadian. I’m going tae fix the wee problem ye created here, but ye can never do it again. Ye have questions, ask Kyler.” Then Arawn reached up to lay his hand on Harper’s head. He said a few words, then did the same for Mason.

Arawn stood up and gestured to the kids, “Go outside, we’re going tae see what ye can do with yer abilities. Yer one of us now.”

“Arcadians hunt Lyceans and Atlanteans.” Mason stared at Arawn.

“Aye, they do.” Arawn nodded. “I do when I have tae. The world’s more complicated than Arcadians are bad. Lyceans are monsters. And Atlanteans are weak. Arawn kicked Sunny’s chair as he walked past it. Sunny jumped and made a face at him.

“Ye got off easy,” Bog motioned for the kids to follow Arawn. “Last lesson he gave me set me on fire.” Marianne made an embarrassed giggling noise.

Sunny dove in front of his wife to stop her from following everyone else out into the backyard. “We have dishes to do!” He called out.

“Uh, yeah. Dishes.” Dawn giggled, leaning down to kiss her husband.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Half an hour later, Sunny finished the dishes in the kitchen. There was a knock at the front door. Dawn answered it, and Sunny looked up to see Kyler Brennan walk through the kitchen with Dawn behind him. He nodded to Sunny and passed through to the backdoor, with Dawn still following him in concern.

Sunny stared after them for a moment. Kyler’s white shirt was stained with blood in two distinctive spots in the front. Whatever happened, Sunny wanted no part of it. He sighed and took longer than necessary to dry the plate in his hand. Then he took his time putting everything away.

A few minutes passed, then Bog, Marianne, and Zelda hurried through the kitchen. Sunny noticed how they almost ran through. Then Arawn and Kyler passed through. Sunny dried his hands and waited. Everyone was gone, and that left him and Dawn with the kids.

The kids. Sunny froze and stared at the door, realizing they were stuck with the kids ALONE again. With a groan, he slumped against the counter. It wasn’t that he didn’t like children, it was a lifetime spent around Arcadian children, trying to avoid letting them know he was Atlantean.

The teasing that Sunny endured as a child left its mark. He embraced a cheerful attitude to deal with them. Arcadians had a tendency to pick at kids who showed fear, but someone who was happy to joke with them and showed no worries was embraced. Sunny figured that out quickly and then found Dawn.

Dawn gravitated to him, and they became best friends from the start. Sunny smiled at the thought of those early days when he was just glad to have a good friend. Dawn was the one who helped Sunny fit in. She didn’t care that he was a little different from her. She accepted him as equal and not lesser.

Sunny took a deep breath. These children were not Arcadian. He put on a smile and walked out the back door stopping on the porch. These children were not Arcadian, and they weren’t Lycean or Atlantean. They were something else. Dawn stood between Harper and Mason. They were both on their knees with little humanoid figures made out of grass and stones moving in front of them like puppets.

“Scirto!” Dawn stated. “It means dance!” The kids repeated the word, and the figures immediately began dancing. Sunny stared. Alchemy was always exciting to watch. Your own character fed into it on top of your emotions and your bloodline.

The two kids were brother and sister, yet their puppets were dancing in entirely different ways. Harper’s figure danced like a ballerina. Mason’s appeared to be doing something that looked more like martial arts. Dawn clapped her hands and looked up at her husband. “All those years of Latin are finally paying off!”

Sunny smiled at his wife. “Want me to order pizza for dinner?”

“Maybe wait an hour.” Dawn grinned.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Harper and Mason wanted to know about vampires. There was a vampire in Blackwood. Sunny and Dawn attempted to explain in a way that wouldn’t frighten them. Dawn cheerfully told them that Arawn was an experienced Hunter, and he would take care of the vampire.

That led to the kids asking about Arcadians and why Arawn, who was really scary to them, was a good Hunter. Dawn smiled at them and told them that she was an Arcadian. The kids were fascinated to hear all about Arcadians and then Atlanteans from Sunny. Gradually, everyone relaxed, and a little over an hour later, Kyler returned with the kid’s mother to pick them and their dog up.

They were assured the vampire had been taken care of, and no one was hurt. Kyler didn’t know where the others were but assumed they would be returning home soon. That left Sunny and Dawn with Titania. A little later, a very cranky Arawn showed up and took Titania out on his mission. He mentioned that they shouldn’t expect Marianne back until later. Bog had taken her and his mother out for dinner.

It was one of the few evenings that Sunny and Dawn had an evening completely alone. Sunny locked the door and smiled at his wife. “You know what.” Sunny’s smile widened. “I think we did a good job.”

“They were nice kids.” Dawn giggled.

“And now that they’re gone.” Sunny walked up to his wife and wrapped his arms around her. “I think we should have some playtime.”

“I’m all for that!” Dawn leaned down and kissed Sunny. “I love you, Sunny.” She pulled away for a moment, then kissed him again.

“Mmmm,” Sunny gently pushed his wife toward the couch. She sat down, and Sunny hesitated, sniffing the air. “Do you smell smoke?”

“Probably someone running their fireplace.” Dawn reached up and grabbed Sunny by the front of her shirt, pulling him down to kiss him again. “We should turn ours on in a little bit.”

“Yeah, in a little bit.” Sunny murmured, sinking into his wife’s welcoming embrace.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog was far more clingy than normal. Marianne didn’t mind, but she was a little concerned about him. Usually, when they were around his mother, he held back. Tonight, he had to have a hand on her at all times, and he would randomly lean over to her, kiss her, and tell her he loved her.

Zelda kept her comments to herself. Marianne found that odd as well. She was sure it had something to do with what they did to Kyler earlier in the day. The Lyceans were deeply disturbed.

They were leaving the restaurant when Bog’s phone began vibrating. He grumbled and ignored it, choosing to focus on Marianne instead. One emergency had been dealt with today, he didn’t need another one.

“Maybe you should answer it,” Marianne suggested. His phone began vibrating again. Bog scowled, and they stopped walking so he could answer.

“What?” Bog snapped into the phone. His annoyed expression immediately faded into one of horror. “No. No. No.”

“Bog?” Marianne squeezed his arm.

“Bogdan, what’s going on?” Zelda moved in on the other side, grabbing her son’s other arm in concern.

The phone went smashing down into the sidewalk so hard it cracked almost in half. Bog trembled and began stomping on the phone while Zelda and Marianne pulled at him from two different directions in an attempt to make him stop.

“My house is on fire.” Bog slumped forward, picking at the pieces of his phone. “Our house is on fire.” Then he put his hands behind his head and began shaking. “The fire department is there, but they’re saying it’s a total loss.”

“Oh, no,” Zelda joined her son, wrapping an arm over his shoulders. “It’s just a house, Dear.”

“At least nobody was in it,” Marianne added, dropping down on Bog’s other side, trying to comfort him and get him to snap out of it. “It’ll be okay.”

“I can’t replace yer painting.” Bog turned to look at Marianne, his eyes slightly glazed over.

“It’s just a painting. I’ll do another one.” Marianne smiled, leaning against Bog.

“It won’t be the same.” Bog snorted, obviously trying to hold back his emotions. “Ye put a little of who ye are into things like that, at the time. I know it sounds stupid, but it was the first gift ye gave me, Marianne.” She nodded, leaning forward to kiss Bog’s forehead. He sat down on the sidewalk and pulled Marianne to him and just sat there holding her. Zelda sat down next to him, trying her best to comfort him as people passed by.

It was going to be a long night.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Bog was a mess. The loss of his home struck him harder than his mother. He lived there for so long and was comfortable in it. It was his castle, and while it wasn’t the biggest or nicest place, it was home. Bog, Zelda, and Marianne arrived on their street to see flames flickering in the wreckage. Two fire trucks were still watering down the rubble. It looked like the walls were still standing on two sides of the house, the back and side facing Marianne’s home. Whatever had set it on fire was not natural.

Dawn and Sunny spotted them and quickly joined them. Dawn was in tears, apologizing for not investigating the smoke they had smelled until it became overwhelming. Dawn’s tears managed to snap Bog into some semblance of his usual self. He forgot about his own sorrow and concentrated on Dawn. There was no need for Dawn to be so upset about this. She hadn’t set the fire.

Zelda received a call several hours later from Arawn, informing her that Roland had not shown up. Then she told him what had happened and they made arrangements to meet in town. Zelda began making calls. Bog was trying to comfort Dawn along with Sunny. Marianne was trying to comfort Bog and her sister. Everyone was avoiding looking at the burning house.

“We don’t need to stand here all night.” Zelda reached for her son’s arm. “All this smoke isn’t good for babies. I’ve reserved us rooms for the night at the Blackwood Suites. Let’s all just go now and try to get some sleep. That includes Dawn and Sunny.”

“Okay,” Bog sighed in agreement. He took a deep breath, looked at the still-smoking remains of his house, then he turned away from it. “Marianne? Would ye mind staying with me?”

“Not at all.” She replied. “My sword’s still in the car in case we run into anything else awful tonight. I’ll fight it off.”

That got a smile out of Bog. “I love ye, Love.”