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Always Gotta Make it Complicated

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"I don't like it," Whitley said with a scowl. "They've been too boisterous, too happy."

The table of men and women around him all spoke up simultaneously in agreement. This was a meeting of the entire North American heads of the Order; the largest meeting head since Whitley Rezza announced the identity of the Uniter some months ago.

"And yet nothing has happened," Simone commented. It seemed like some sort of odd mystery. Something was clearly going on and yet there have been no indications of activity. Given that the excitement was centered around San Francisco, there was a good chance that the Uniter was behind it all. "What can they possibly be celebrating?" she mused, her hands tapping thoughtfully.

"Sir!" a younger male, rushed in clutching a handful of papers. "I need to talk to you!"

"This is a private North American meeting, boy," a gruff voice said. The voice belonged to Howard from the Houston branch. "You can't just waltz in here and interrupt-"

"But, sir!" the boy protested loudly, shaking his papers. "It's not just North America." He paused as he suddenly had everyone's undivided attention. He swallowed at the pressure. He was just an assistant; a glorified secretary who fetched the mail and read the faxes. "These are reports in from all over the world. The supernaturals have been acting up everywhere," he said weakly, handing his handful of papers over to the nearest member before quickly rushing out.

Everyone began speaking in surprise as the memos went around. Simultaneously, a small shiver of fear went down every member's spine. What had happened that affected the entire world's supernaturals?
~
"Shut up!" Amy cried out as she simultaneously reached out to grab a handful of popcorn. "They're coming up next." The room quieted as every eye glued itself to the television screen.

"Next up we have Chloe King and her date, boyfriend Reid Garwin. Chloe is a model and recently has branched out into singing. Her single "Work" has reached a high of #4 on the Billboard top 40 list, a very respectable position for a newcomer. Her album is due out in less a month I believe," the announcer spoke as the camera followed Reid and Chloe up the red carpet while they occasionally posed for pictures.

"That's right, Sam. And on her arm is the ever handsome Reid Garwin. Reid is the heir to billionaire Scott Garwin and a current student at Stanford. He's a double major in English Literature and Studio Art, I believe. His family made their name in the logging industry before switching to coal in the late 1800s and more recently to diamonds in the '70s. Reid and Chloe have a long history together, don't they Alex?"

"That they do." Alex laughed. "Those two have been on and off more times than I can count and for years." As one, every eye in the living room all looked at Alek out of the corner of their eye. Alek's lips were pursed, but he made no other gesture of unhappiness at the announcer's words. He and Chloe had broken up a little over two months ago and had agreed to remain friends. They were still bound together, after all. She was the Uniter and he had promised Valentina he would protect her. Add to that the fact that they still went to school together and Jasmine was still one of Chloe's best friends and they honestly couldn't escape each other. "Oh, and here they come," Alex said, drawing everyone attention back to the television. The camera finally flashed to the small podium where Alex and Sam were conducting their interviews. "Chloe, Reid! How are you today?"

"We're great," Reid replied, an easy smile on his lips. Reid had been attending events with Chloe for years and was well used to the invasive interviews and red carpet events.

"I love what you're both wearing. Who made them?" Sam asked, turning the mic onto the couple.

"I'm wearing Alberta Ferretti (IMAGE)." Chloe gestured down at her dress. It had nude lining with vertical black stripes down to the waist. The waist had a thin pattern made to emphasize the smallest portion of Chloe's frame like a belt before returning to vertical stripes down to the floor. A line of gauzy fabric went down the outside of each leg and the top of the dress was sheer. With dark smoky gray eyes and bright red lipstick, she had clearly gone vamp for the event. "My shoes are Prada (IMAGE) and my clutch is Zuhair Murad (IMAGE)." Here she used one hand and brought up her black lace clutch while the other lifted her dress enough to showcase simple nude suede peep toe pumps. "And lastly, my only piece of jewelry," Chloe finished, holding up her wrist, angling her hand down so that the bracelet was shown prominently, "is a diamond bangle from Tiffany's (IMAGE)." The bracelet was white gold with five rows of diamonds.

"I love that dress. And that bracelet." Amy whispered in the living room before getting shushed by the others as they all focused on the interview on tv.

"Thanks," Caleb replied in a whisper so that he wouldn't disturb the others. He had bought that bracelet for Chloe's eighteenth birthday several months ago.

The mic soon turned to Reid, who pressed a hand down on his crisp one button black suit. "Everything I'm wearing is Armani (IMAGE), or at least it says so on my tie (IMAGE)," he said, adjusting his silver tie that matched his gray eyes. True enough, the tie was embossed with the words 'Emporio Armani' over and over again in small, delicate print. "Even my boxers," he winked with a smirk causing the two announcers to laugh. Chloe hid a smile, but her eyes danced with amusement.

The boys laughed as well at Reid's joke. Tyler even toasted his friend with his beer. Only Reid had the balls to say something like that on live national television.

"So, Chloe, your first single was released several months ago with very nice success. How do you feel about your upcoming album, set to be released in just two weeks?" Alex asked.

"To be honest, I'm super nervous." Chloe laughed as she self-consciously tucked one of the strands of her curled hair behind her ear. Her strawberry blonde hair was done up in a low side bun with soft strands pulled out and curled around her face. "I just hope people like it."

"What's this album about?" Sam questioned next.

"Well, it's titled 'Notorious' and it's about my life in the spotlight. It's a pretty in depth look into my head and I think the heads of a lot of celebrities," Chloe replied honestly. "There's stuff about love and life, success and failure; I mean, it's got everything. No holds barred."

Alex nodded with a smile. "Sounds exciting. Reid, you have a lot of creative talent yourself and word on the street is that you helped Chloe put this album together."

"I assisted with the technical aspects," Reid spoke up. "I helped to produce it and refine the sound from an artistic standpoint."

"Alright, last question and then we have to move on. Chloe, what made you start recording an album to begin with?" Alex asked.

"Honestly, at first it was something that my agent pushed. She knew that I had some musical talent, but it was never something I intended to show the public; it was something I did for me. But, as my agent, she was focused on expanding my career and exposing me more. I really love acting, but because I'm a student, focusing on that just didn't seem feasible right now. My family has always emphasized a strong education which meant staying in school until I graduated. So, she convinced me to record some of the songs I wrote. I could put my album out while I finished school and then I could tour during the summer before my senior year," Chloe explained. "But it became something that I really enjoyed and did because I loved it."

"Wow, that's a really surprising story. Well, thank you for talking with us. I really appreciate it and enjoy the ceremony," Sam bid farewell as the cameras followed Chloe and Reid off stage. "And there you have Chloe King and her boyfriend Reid Garwin. Chloe has a notorious reputation – that album is rather aptly named isn't it – for being a bit of a wild child party girl, but she has remained rather quiet for a while now. She has only just begun showing her face now that her album is coming out, don't you think?"

"What? That's completely untrue," Amy cried out as she threw a popcorn kernel at the tv screen in protest.

"I disagree," Alex replied, unwittingly echoing Amy's opinion. "She transferred out of a prestigious private boarding school in Massachusetts to attend a public here in San Francisco. She became the center of a media frenzy when people found out several months ago after she attended another awards ceremony and got recognized. I don't think she's out and about just to promote her album."

"Well, I suppose only time will tell, Alex. Next up we have the much loved Baker twins…"
~
"What are you doing?" Reid asked, his head resting tiredly on Chloe's shoulder as they enjoyed the quiet limo ride home.

"My album is coming out in exactly thirteen days," Chloe replied absentmindedly as she continued to mess with her phone.

"…" Reid paused, waiting for more, but when nothing came, he prompted her, "And?"

"I have thirteen tracks on my CD," Chloe spoke again, her answer almost as unhelpful as her last.

"Sometimes talking to you is like pulling teeth," Reid grumbled teasingly. "At this rate, we'll be old and gray by the time you get to the point."

"What?" Chloe asked in confusion, finally looking up from her phone.

Reid sat up and rolled his eyes but with a good natured smile on his face. "I said it's a good thing you're pretty. What are you doing? And this time use just sentences that explain entirely."

She blinked in surprise before mentally back-tracking her words. She gave a small laugh as she realized how vague her responses were. "I thought it would be fun to tweet and facebook a different line from each of my songs every day until the release date."

Reid looked at her, impressed. "Nice," he replied. "What did you say?"

"I'm going in order of the CD, not that anyone would know that. So today's lines are from 'Puppet' and on twitter I wrote 'I'll push to see how far I'll make you go/Then pull you back when I'm craving more/You know that I'm the kinda girl you need/So prove how much you wanna be with me.' And on facebook, I posted 'I know you like it, you'll be my everything/If you don't fight it, relax and come with me/I control your body and mind/Look into my eyes, I got you hypnotized/Like a puppet on a string/Make you dance, make you sing/Buy me fancy things/I can make you do just anything/What I want, what I dream/I just pull the string, you'll come back to me," she read aloud.

"Good choices," Reid commented, reaching out to lazily run his fingers through her hair, which had been unpinned the moment Chloe had left the view of the cameras after the award show. He gently drew her head into his body to rest on his chest. He could feel her relax against him, the tension almost literally oozing out of her. "You need to relax more. You're too tense, too high strung."

"I can't help it," she murmured against his tuxedo. "My album is coming out in less than a week. What happens if it's a complete disaster?"

"It's not going to be a disaster," he reassured her, his hand leaving her hair to comfortingly rub her arm. "It's going to be a success. A great big success."

"You're my boyfriend. You're a bit biased in the situation," she replied, but there was a happy smile on her face at his words.

Reid shrugged lightly, careful not to displace her head from where it was resting. "I also helped to produce it so if it flops, it's on me too," he pointed out logically as the limo slowed to a stop in front of their house. Reid climbed out and offered Chloe his arm to help her out as well. Their fingers twined as they headed inside. Once they reached their hall, they split up to get undressed. Over the last few months, this had become habit with them. They would get ready for bed and whoever was done first would come to the other person's room for the night. It was no surprise that Reid usually wound up in Chloe's room that way and this night was no different.

Reid, in low slung burnt orange sweatpants and a black wife beater, climbed into Chloe's bed. He could hear her still in the shower and turned in bed to face the bathroom. Chloe still had the habit of keeping her bathroom door open, even when she was in it. Personal privacy wasn't a big deal in their house and it wasn't unusual for them to waltz around in other people's rooms unannounced, regardless of what that person was doing. He knew for a fact that every single one of them had been walked in on in the shower by each other at least once this month alone.

His head perked up when he heard the shower turn off and the sound of a towel being moved. A second later, he spotted Chloe climbing out of her shower, a towel wrapped around her body and her hair up in a large clip.

She saw him watching her from the bed and smiled at him before returning to her nightly ritual. She quickly put on her moisturizer for her face and then slowed down to sensually smooth on lotion to her legs and arms, smirking lightly at Reid, who smirked back.

While she waited for that to dry a bit, she dropped her towel with a flirty wink to her boyfriend, and put on a pair of soft cotton underwear. She and Reid had long since gotten past the point where they felt the need to cover up around each other. They had seen each other naked enough times that it was completely unnecessary (although, the entire Covenant had seen each other naked enough times that she felt comfortable dropping her towel in front of any of the boys). They were also long past the point where they needed lingerie between them all the time. Sure, it was nice and she did wear them during the day under her outfits, but at night, she preferred to sleep in something comfortable.

She then slipped on a pair of blue and brown plaid pajama pants and a brown tank top. It was hardly cold in California, despite it being late January, but it was no longer warm enough for her to switch her pajama bottoms for boxers. If they were still in Massachusetts, she would be wearing a long sleeved shirt instead of the tank she was wearing now, so she supposed she should be grateful for the weather she had.

Finally ready, she slipped into bed next to Reid, curling into his side naturally. "Hey," she said softly.

"Hey," he replied quietly with a smile before leaning down to kiss her. "You looked beautiful today," he whispered, tucking a wayward strand of hair behind her ear.

"So you said this afternoon." But her pleased smile said that she didn't mind the compliment. To illustrate this, she leaned up to kiss him more thoroughly. It didn't take long for Reid to take advantage of the opening his was given, turning the kiss more lustful and longing. Soon the restful night she had planned to have after the awards ceremony was quickly scrapped in favor of a more passionate, energetic.

Chloe rolled on top of Reid, straddling his waist as she broke away long enough for him to yank her top off. Soon, both of them were naked and connected. Chloe shut her eyes tight, the sensory overload too much for her. Reid obviously felt the same way as he reached out his hands and pulled them from his chest. She had been using him to lever her body against his, but when he took them, her pace faltered. Chloe opened her eyes to look down at Reid in surprise. Reid had a small smirk on his face but his eyes were lit up. She blushed under his gaze. Sometimes, the way Reid looked at her… it wasn't like a man looking at a woman, it was like a man worshipping at the altar of a deity.

She looked down when she felt Reid twine their fingers together. He gave her a nod and she began to use his hands to leverage herself once more. But this intimate moment, their twined hands, made everything more intense and she began to ride him harder, chasing the orgasm that was so close.

She felt him shift under her and knew that he was close. "Reid," she whimpered softly, her eyes shut once more.

"I know, baby," he muttered, thrusting his hips up to meet her, no longer patiently allowing her complete control.

He let go of one of her hands to reach down and rub at her clit. His eyes flew to her face – this was his favorite part. He heard her gasp as her eyes flew open in surprise. The pleasure flowed over her causing her to shut her eyes once more and throw her head back, arching her body. The only thing she could liken it to was a trip she took to Hawaii with the boys for her fifteenth birthday. She had gone surfing and had wiped out pretty bad. She had gone up to the surface only to get crushed by another wave and then another and another. For a moment, she had genuinely believed she would die. That was the only thing she could liken sex with Reid to. It was like waves crashing over her again and again, never letting up even when she thought she could no longer take it.

She collapsed on top of him in a sweaty tangle of limbs, panting harshly to catch her breath. Underneath, he muttered, "I think that was a new record."

"Mhmm," she murmured in response. "I give it a 2."

"Definitely," he agreed. It was fantastic, but nothing could top their first night after getting back together. It was… the word amazing wasn't even strong enough. There were no words powerful enough to describe that. To have her underneath him moaning his name, knowing that after all this time she was finally his again. Completely his and no one else's.

No, nothing could top that.
~
Alek grit his teeth as painful tears ran down his cheek. He hated this. He absolutely hated it. Wasn't it bad enough that he still had to see Chloe all the time? The woman he loved but no longer had. But he was her protector; it was his job to watch over the Uniter always. And that meant being forced to do things or in this case hear things he didn't like.

The first time he had heard Chloe and Reid have sex, he had thrown up in the bushes. The second time, he had gone home and seduced Mimi in an effort to forget. Now, Mimi was his girlfriend, but he still didn't feel any better. How could he when every night he was forced to return to Chloe's home to hear the same torture over and over again? This was truly hell.

Chapter Text

Chloe moaned as she stretched out in her comfortable bed, unwilling to get up. Shaking her head with a pout, her eyes still firmly shut, she snuggled back into bed and into the arms of her boyfriend.

Reid chuckled in response. He had been awake for a couple of minutes already and was just waiting on her.

“Shh!” she murmured, burrowing her face into the side of his chest, throwing one arm around his torso.

“Are you forgetting something?” Reid asked softly, reaching down to gently lift a strand of hair off her face and tuck it behind her ear. Chloe’s response was to turn her face into his chest stubbornly. “You have a talk show interview today.” He grinned when he felt her lower lip stick out in a pout against his skin.

“Bah!” she replied but threw herself out of bed, almost falling down because her eyes were still glued shut. He pressed his lips together in an attempt to stop himself from laughing, but allowed it out when he watched her accidentally walk into her wall in an attempt to navigate her way to the bathroom without opening her eyes. “Shut up!” she grunted, finally opening her eyes and making it into the bathroom.

Chloe gave a small sigh. She was not in the mood for more publicity and schmoozing. The awards last night were tiring and she wanted nothing more than to stay in bed and cuddle with her boyfriend all day. But Chloe was a working girl and sometimes that meant kicking herself out of bed at the ass-crack of dawn in order to do what needed to be done. On the bright side, it also earned her credit in the industry as a professional, which was worth a lot what with the excess of Lindsay Lohans in the world.

Stepping out of the shower, she wrapped a towel around herself and walked out toward her closet. Reid was gone, probably in his room getting ready himself.

She gave a fond smile at the thought. He didn’t have to go with her. It was a Saturday. He should be sleeping in and relaxing or doing his homework for Monday, but instead he was waking up early to go with her to an interview, purely to keep her company.

Reid may act like a jerk sometimes, but he could be the sweetest boyfriend on the planet.

Perusing her closet, she pursed her lips and headed toward her ‘publicity’ section. Normally, she had her clothes divided into ‘pants’, ‘jackets’, etc. but there was a corner in the back that was mixed and those were the clothes that she bought purely to be used during publicity events like tv interviews or talk shows.

Idly fingering the expensive clothes, she looked for something to catch her eye. She was doing the interview to talk about her new album, so she wanted something that reflected “Notorious”. But at the same time, she was exhausted from last night’s awards show and didn’t want anything too difficult or eye-catching.

With that in mind, she went to the back of the rack which held her admittedly rather miniscule pant suit collection. A smile tugged on her lips the minute she spotted the Antonio Berardi outfit. It was exactly what she was looking for. She slipped the green pants on and the sheer shirt over top. Then she put the small green jacket on. The jacket was purposely designed small so that it couldn’t close. She used double sided tape to stick it to the sheer shirt underneath, effectively covering her breasts but leaving everything else (her chest, the v of her breasts and her stomach) to show. She finished off with her Chica sparkly black lace up booties.

Exiting her closet, she found Reid in his typical outfit of loose jeans, a hoodie and his black beanie. In his hand was his favorite black jacket. “You might want to grab one too,” he said, noticing her odd look. “It’s cold this morning.” Ducking back into her closet, she returned with a floor length dark coat. “Ready?” he asked, waiting a minute to take in the view her outfit offered before holding out his hand.

With a laugh, she accepted, but she ended up being the one to drag him out the door. They made a quick stop in the kitchen to pick up an apple for breakfast each and then hopped into his Aston Martin to drive to the airport.

“Did you get a chance to turn on your radio this morning?” Reid asked.

Chloe shook her head. “No, why? Was it on?” The reason why her interview today was so important was because it was also the day her second single was released.

“No. At least, I didn’t hear it while I was showering, but I only had the radio on for like fifteen minutes.”

Chloe hummed in response but didn’t say anything more. She was tired and a little bit nervous. She was used to the spotlight, but she still felt nerves in the pit of her stomach each time. Her label had chartered her a private jet to fly her to New York where she would be filming her talk show interview which would then be aired that night.

She and Reid parked their car at the airport and passed through security before skipping through the many lines and making their way straight to the tarmac to board their plane. Chloe quickly nestled herself into the comfortable overstuffed chairs and pulled out her laptop. She was determined to keep herself busy before the nerves got the best of her. She vaguely felt Reid sit next to her and noticed out of the corner of her eye as he pulled out his computer as well, presumably to get some of his class work done.

The pilot interrupted them to let them know they would be taking off and soon enough they were in the air.

It took an hour before Chloe noticed something odd. Reid was listening to something on his computer. That by itself wasn’t weird as Reid frequently did his work while listening to music. What was weird was that he didn’t appear to be working and whatever he was looking at amused him.

Taking a not-so-subtle peak over his shoulder, she gasped and slapped him in the arm.

“Ow!” he whined playfully, taking out an earbud to give her his full attention.

“You’re watching all of my past interviews!” she cried out in horror. “Why?” she asked, her cheeks turning red. There on his computer screen was a barely thirteen year old her on a news station giving an interview on her modeling career. She didn’t wait for an answer and reached around him to grab at his computer, intent on shutting it off. But Reid was too fast and they ended up grappling rather uncomfortably. She twisted and he must have twisted as well because they both fell to the floor with a heavy thump. The duo stared in surprise at each other before bursting into laughter.

He stared up at her softly, reaching out to gently tug a strand of hair. She had straightened it for the interview so it did not spring back like her curls, but it was the familiarity of the gesture that mattered.

With a happy smile, she leaned down and kissed him, her hands braced on his chest. He reached up, tangling a hand into her hair as the kiss became more enthusiastic.

“Ahem. Ms. King, Mr. Garwin.” The couple looked up in surprise to find the attendant in the doorway, face impassive and looking ahead, instead of down at their inappropriate tangle of limbs. “We are circling JFK as we speak. We should be departing shortly, if you would please take your seats.” Not waiting for a reply, he returned to the cockpit.

The duo looked at each other wide eyed before bursting into laughter. She rested her forehead on his shoulder as she struggled to catch her breath. Once she’d mostly calmed down, she turned her head, her lips lightly tracing his skin as she went. “I love you,” she whispered fondly in his ear before pulling back slightly to look him in the eyes.

He held a fond smile as well, his eyes soft. He reached out to gently tuck the same wayward strand of hair from earlier back behind her ear. “Me too,” he replied, leaning in for one last kiss before getting up and returning to their seats.

The landed and quickly made their way through security. Private planes had their benefits and lessened security lines were definitely one of them. At the welcome area, stood a chauffer holding a white board with the name “Garwin” on it. It was easier to book things under Reid’s name than her own because of her fame. They followed the man out to the idling limo and were quickly on their way to the studio to pre-film her interview.

“Nervous?” Reid asked. Chloe had been taking extremely deliberate breaths and he knew that to be a technique she used to calm nerves and a racing heart.

“No matter how many times I do this, I am still terrified I’ll say something stupid,” she replied, clenching and unclenching her hand. This was Part Two of her routine, if her breathing didn’t work.

Reid shrugged and simply reached a hand out to gently skim the back of her head before reaching under the curtain of hair at the back of her head and resting his hand on her nape, thumb caressing her skin soothingly.

Chloe let out a small breath, closing her eyes and relaxing into the comforting sensation. One of the benefits of dating someone she’d known her entire life was that he knew her; he just got her.

She slowly felt the tension in her shoulders drain away as she focused solely on Reid’s caress and the timing of her breaths. Soon, she felt him shift closer, his breath caressing her cheek warmly as he whispered, “We’re here,” into her ear.

When her eyes opened, she felt determined to get in there, do what she needed to do, and get done. Seeing this, Reid removed his hand and exited, reaching down to help her out. Immediately, there were paparazzi around them, snapping photos of her. She wished she could reach out and walk with her arms around Reid or even just holding her hand, but she knew she couldn’t. Sure, the paparazzi would get photos of him and they’d mention their relationship in the articles, but this was about her and her interview.

She made sure to take graceful steps, smiling lightly and waving at the cameras as she entered the building, but the minute the door closed behind her, she released an annoyed sigh and reached out her hand to take Reid’s immediately.

He gently led her to her dressing room where a makeup artist and hair stylist were there to touch up her look. Soon she was on her way to the stage where she’s be filming. She shifted nervously as she waited behind the curtains for her cue.

Reid squeezed her hand in comfort, well used to this. The boys had been helping Chloe through her nerves for years and each one was well used to the routine. “You’re up,” he murmured, letting go of Chloe’s hand as she walked out on stage.

Chapter Text

“Was that so bad?” Reid asked with a grin.

“Shut up,” she returned, a wide grin on her face. The interview was done, her nerves were calmed and all that was left was her nervous adrenaline. She had answered questions about her album, talked about her personal life a little bit and then she had performed her brand new single “Notorious”. On television. It was quite possibly the most nerve wracking thing she had ever done, but she had done it and if Reid’s hoot had been any indication, she had done it well.

The label had chosen to schedule the interview on the day of her second single precisely because that song was the one the album was named after, so it seemed like good timing. And she really did love that song (not that she didn’t love all of her songs); it was upbeat and fun and the perfect first song to perform on television.

“You ready to go?” he asked, wrapping an arm around her shoulder, leading her toward the door.

“Sure,” she replied, still heady with excitement. “Where are we going?”

Reid smirked, looking down at her from the corner of his eye. “Oh, it’s a surprise.”

Chloe nearly stopped moving. Reid had a surprise? Half of her was filled with excitement, half dread. Reid’s surprises were either absolutely amazing or utterly terrible. “Yey,” she replied weakly, clutching at the hand around her shoulder tensely.

Knowing what she was thinking, he gave a chuckle. This was going to be fun.

They exited the building to find a small horde of fans waiting for her. They waved photos of her from old magazines, runway shoots and covers of her first single. The minute they saw her, they let out screams, their movements turning even more frantic.

Automatically, the duo made their way over to where the fans were sectioned off. Reid fished a sharpie out of his pocket; a habit he had started while traveling with Chloe, but that he maintained when he took up art. Chloe quickly made her way down the line, taking pictures with fans and signing her autograph on whatever they put in front of her. She even signed some guy’s forearm, which he promptly said he was going to get tattooed. She gave the man a funny look, but appeared flattered.

Soon enough, she got tired of the excitement and waved goodbye to her fans, ignoring the disappointed groans as she climbed into the limo, Reid right behind her. She gave a small sigh as she leaned her head back against the headrest.

“Headache?” he murmured.

“I love my fans,” she replied instead. “But do they have to be so loud? Why can’t they just line up neatly and quietly?”

He gave a low chuckle. “Don’t fall asleep,” he advised, changing the subject. “We’re not far from our destination.”

Chloe perked up at the reminder of her surprise. “Oh? Where’s that again?”

“Haha,” he replied sarcastically. “Don’t even, darling.”

“Love you,” she replied cutely, a saccharine smile on her face before turning serious. “It’s not… something bad, is it?”

This time, Reid chuckled genuinely. “You’ll love it. I promise,” he swore to her honestly. And with good timing, the car rolled to a stop. “And here we are.” He stepped out and helped Chloe out as well.

“A restaurant?” she wondered in confusion. “It looks closed, but it’s like two in the afternoon.”

“Patience,” Reid taunted, tugging her hand toward the entrance, which was unlocked. They wandered through the empty restaurant into the private rooms in the back.

The minute Chloe walked through, she just about had a heart attack.

“Happy birthday!” a small crowd shouted at the stunned strawberry blonde.

“But it’s not my birthday,” she replied stupidly, blinking in surprise at the sight, unable to correlate what her eyes were telling her with what her brain was thinking.

“No, but we missed your actual birthday” Elizabeth Simms cooed, walking over for a hug before taking her time in looking at her adopted daughter all grown up. It had been over six months since she last saw her baby girl and Chloe seemed so much older already.

“We missed all of your birthdays,” said Samantha Garwin, her hands full with the brand new addition to their family; a two month old baby girl named Valiance, while she simultaneously looked at her only son fondly.

“Hey!” Tyler shouted out in faux indignation from where he stood next to his father, Alexander.

“Almost all of your birthdays,” Elizabeth corrected. Her son’s birthday was in May, although he was typically more sensitive about being born so much later than the other boys; a full five months after Reid, the third born. “Sorry, Baby Boy.”

Tyler scowled as the rest of the kids snickered. Elizabeth had been calling him Baby Boy since they were born and what had started out as teasing by the others had become a genuine nickname for the youngest boy… But they still laughed whenever his mother called him that. They weren’t that mature after all.

“I just wish your Jasmine was here,” Evelyn murmured quietly to her own son, Caleb, while the others all began talking to their families.

Caleb winced. “Yeah, I know. But it’s hard. Because she’s also Mai and her job is to guard Chloe. It gets stifling sometimes, always being followed around, knowing our every move is watched, so we didn’t tell them we were leaving. But I wish you could have met her too.”

“Next time,” Evie replied. She was certain that this Jasmine girl wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon; her son didn’t date casually. “Next time,” she repeated, patting his hand comfortingly.

Across the room, Chloe allowed her adoptive parents to coo over Tyler alone as she moved toward the nearest brother. “Hey.” Pogue nodded his head in greeting. “So when did you guys even get to New York?” she asked, having been wondering the entire time.

Pogue smirked. “We landed with you.” She looked at him in incomprehension. “We all know that you get super nervous before an appearance. Counting on that, we all stayed in the jet’s bedroom in the back because we knew you’d be too wired to sleep. We boarded before you and then waited until you and Reid left before exiting.”

Chloe gaped at the sneakiness of her family before closing her mouth with a clack. A light blush stained her cheeks at her obliviousness. “I’m surprised that your dad didn’t bring one of his girlfriends,” Chloe said to Pogue, changing the subject as he began perusing the lunch buffet table.

“Mm, me too,” he replied absent-mindedly. “But apparently Aunt Sam got Uncle Scott to convince, or very possibly threaten, my dad into coming alone. Said it was a family affair.”

“Hmm,” she murmured, eyes tracking said man. Uncle Reynold was on the far left and on the right, as far as she could get, was his ex-wife, Pogue’s mother, Aunt Victoria. “Hey,” she said, realizing something. “Where are the girls?”

Pogue blinked in surprise before figuring out what she was asking. ‘The girls’ could be either the two oldest in the family, Rebecca and Essence, or the three youngest. Given that Essence was in England, it was a safe bet to say she was asking after the youngest; Honor and Justice Garwin and Victoria Danvers. “Justice had a dance recital this morning so Uncle Scott’s bringing them up after. Actually, they should be nearly here,” he said, checking his watch. “You know, Rebecca was supposed to come.”

Chloe blinked in surprise, a startled smile on her face before her brain registered the key words ‘supposed to’. It had been almost a year since she saw Pogue’s older sister. “Oh, yeah. How come she’s not?” she asked, disappointed.

“Why else?” He rolled his eyes. “Work stuff.”

Chloe frowned. “I thought she quit her old job.” Rebecca had been getting sexually harassed at the last paper she had worked at and although she had tried to bring attention to it, the higher management were the ones who were doing it, so there was nothing that she could do.

“She did,” a feminine voice said from behind them, surprising the conversing couple. Behind them stood Pogue’s mother Victoria, a tall sandy haired woman with strong bone structure and bright blue eyes. She had clearly gotten tired of waiting for her son to finish putting his lunch plate together. “She is searching for another job and has an interview today. But it’s hard because they want to contact her old job as a reference. Obviously anything those bastards say about Rebecca will be nothing but rancid lies. But all those big shot journalists know each other, so who will believe her word?”

Pogue nodded in agreement at his mother’s assessment while Chloe just sighed at her sister’s hardship. “I thought mom said she was planning on moving?”

“She was,” Victoria replied. “But she only moved to Toronto less than a year ago and she had only just gotten used to the city, so she doesn’t want to have to do it all over again if she can help it. Unfortunately, it is seeming more likely that there will be no other choice.”

The trio sighed in sympathy for the poor girl who was having such a rough time of it. Chloe took a second to scan the room when her eyes spotted a singular figure hunched against the wall, far from the others. Bidding her goodbye to the two Parrys, Chloe made her was to her oldest brother.

“Hey,” she murmured, passing Chase a plate filled with cake. She had intended the dessert for herself, but he clearly needed it more.

“Hey,” he muttered back, sullenly taking the food.

She was silent for a moment, thoughtfully chewing on her grapes. She and Chase had the most in common, family wise. Both of their biological parents were dead. Both of their adoptive parents were dead. The only difference was that Chloe had been given the chance at another set of adoptive parents, the Simms, whereas Chase was on his own.

Chloe should have spotted him sooner, should have realized how awkward this must be for him. Everyone was catching up with their family, even her. Meanwhile, he had no family and no one to catch up with. No wonder he was sulking in the corner.

And okay, so maybe he had killed his adoptive parents and one could argue that he didn’t deserve family after that, but that was something he did while still under the addiction. His actions weren’t his own any more than a jonesing druggie committing a crime in their desperate need to get high.

“Can I ask you something?”

Chase blinked at her in surprise. He had gotten used to the companionable silence. “What’s up?” he asked.

“What was your family like?” she wondered.

Chase froze mid-chew. He shifted, clearly uncomfortable with the question, before harshly swallowing, grimacing when the icing stuck in his throat and realized that he hadn’t chewed enough. “My adoptive father, Arthur, was strict. They were god fearing Christians and they raised me to be one too – at least until I was thirteen.” Chloe nodded at this point. Thirteen was the age when they received their magic. Christianity didn’t tend to do well with witches. “He was hard on me. Always wanted me to be the best. I loved making him proud, but I hated the disappointed look he’d give me whenever I just didn’t quite meet his expectations.”

Chloe looked at Chase in surprise. This was more information, more honesty, than she had truly expected from the man. Chase typically kept things close to the vest, even from his own siblings. This family gathering must have really gotten to him for him to be willing to be so open and honest about his past and his feelings.

“My mom though… She was sweet; the nicest woman you’ll ever meet. If she’d been anyone else, I would have said she was too sweet, but she was my mom…” Chloe could understand that. Everyone was more forgiving of family’s weak points than strangers’. Chase swallowed hard. Clearly his mother was a soft spot. “She was weak, though. She caved underneath my father. Never made a real decision in her whole life.”

“What was her name?” Chloe asked softly.

He blinked in surprise, like he had forgotten Chloe was even there. “Gillian,” he replied, stuffing another bite of cake in his mouth to avoid talking for a little bit. Chloe allowed him a moment to pull himself back together. “I’d kept my magic from them. But then… My eighteenth birthday…” Again, he seemed to need a moment. “I mean, there were fucking lightning bolts coming from the sky, hitting me over and over. How the hell was I supposed to hide that?” he asked sarcastically. “My parents… When they found out, they thought that the lightning was a sign. That God himself was trying to strike me down.” He scoffed at the idea. “That night? The newspaper said they were driving when they had a car accident.” Chase waited for her nod of acknowledgment. “They were running away. They were abandoning me. On my birthday. Because I was evil. Because I was doing ‘Satan’s work’.” He smirked, but it wasn’t his typical smile. This was dark and grotesque, his eyes filled with bitter pain. “So, yeah. I killed them. And I made it look like an accident.”

Chloe took a moment to process this. She had no idea; none of them did. All they knew was that Chase had killed his parents; they had no idea about the dark truth of the event. “And your biological family?” she wondered.

Chase froze again. “I grew up knowing about my mom. My father wanted to make sure I knew all about the druggie whore who overdosed and died for her sins before I was even three. My dad though… That was harder. After my birthday, I spent the summer tracking down my mom’s old friends. Prostitutes and drug addicts mostly. There was one woman who had gotten clean. She was the one who pointed me in the direction of Jacob. He was living in Las Vegas, an old man. He didn’t even know he had a son, let alone one with an ex-prostitute.”

Chase paused. At first, Chloe thought that he was just taking another moment to collect his thoughts. It took a second for her to realize that he wasn’t going to say anything else. “And then?” she asked.

He turned to give her a sharp glare. “And then I found out the truth about my family, about the addiction and then I manipulated him into Willing me his powers in exchange for a promise of revenge on the other families. You know all this.”

She nodded thoughtfully. She did. But she thought that maybe there was more to the story. If she was honest, Chloe still thought there was more to the story, but Chase had shared enough for one night.

She reached out and gently clasped his hand. He tried to tug it away, but she held tight and he gave in. “Have you considered other family?” she asked. He gave her a blank look of confusion. “Did either of your parents have any siblings?”

“Mom had a housewife sister in L.A. Father had a priest cousin somewhere in Eastern Europe. Prague, I think. That’s it,” he replied.

“And Jacob and…” she trailed off. She didn’t know what Chase’s biological mother’s name was.

“Candy,” he supplied, shrugging at her look. “No one knew her real name, just her working name. And I don’t know about her.”

Chloe gave him a pitying look. He didn’t even know his mother’s real name. “So, you might have family.”

He gave a careless shrug. “Maybe.” But there was something in his eyes that he didn’t have before. There was a curiosity there, mixed with a bit of hope and determination.

With a knowing smile, she leaned up and gave him a kiss on the cheek before releasing his hand and walking toward her boyfriend, who was sitting alone at a booth.

“Hey,” she murmured, wrapping her arms around her boyfriend as she sat beside him. “I can’t believe you arranged all this for me.”

He wrapped an arm back around her, tucking her into his side. “You’ve been under a lot of pressure lately. I thought you could use some relaxing family time.”

“I love it,” she said, smiling fondly before leaning in to kiss his cheek. “I love you.”

“Only the best for the best,” he replied. Reid wasn’t one for over-emotion and he didn’t throw around the words ‘I love you’ very often. But Chloe could read between the lines and she knew that was what he meant, even if those weren’t his words.

Chapter Text

"Ugh," Chloe groaned, an arm flung over her eyes.

"Don't you think you're being a little dramatic?" Reid asked teasingly as he sat at her desk working away. He didn't bother looking over at her prone form.

"Ugh," she repeated. He chuckled in response. "I don't remember them being that energetic," she mused aloud, rolling over onto her stomach to watch her boyfriend work. He had his turn-in coming up. For his studio art class, he was required to submit twenty sketches at the end of every month. There were two days left and he was still half a dozen sketches short. "Were they always that energetic?" she asked.

"Yep," he replied, lips smacking at the end. "Worse, actually."

"No way," Chloe replied, eyes wide in disbelief. There was no way they could be worse.

"Hey," he said, finally turning to look at her. "I lived with two of them. They can get worse." The duo were of course talking about the three youngest children in their family (not counting the baby); Honor, Justice and Victoria.

Chloe took a moment to ponder her next words very carefully. She debated whether or not to say anything. If it was anyone else, she probably wouldn't, but she and Reid had known each other nearly their whole lives, they had dated on and off for years and they knew what their family was like. "You know… mom called me on Skype a couple of months ago…" she trailed off. Did she want to bring this up?

"And caught a glimpse of a naked Alek?" he asked. A few months ago, that thought would have probably made him jealous; even if it was just a little bit. Now, though… now, Chloe was his again. He had no reason to be jealous. "I remember."

"Mom mentioned… She said that Honor looks up to us. That she wants to be like us." Chloe nibbled on her lip. Reid, sensing that there was something else, took his attention away from his book to focus on her entirely. This only made Chloe more hesitant. "Mom says that… it makes the families dread us ever having kids."

Reid blinked in surprise at that before leaning back in his chair to contemplate it. If she had told him that story before, the duo would have laughed it off, but now that they were dating, stories like that took on a different meaning. "Yeah. I guess our kids would be super wild," he finally replied. The funny thing was he could absolutely picture it. A girl with her strawberry blonde locks and his grey eyes or a boy with his blonde hair and her blue eyes… or any combination of their looks. It was easy to picture. Maybe too easy. They had been known each other for so long, Chloe was honestly the only person Reid had ever been serious about. But at the same time, they were young. Reid had just turned 20 less than two months ago and Chloe 18 six months ago. Then again, their families married early. With the addiction, it was hard to know how long a witch would live. His parents married at 19 and had both him and Essence before they turned 22.

Luckily, a phone ringing drew them both out of their thoughts. Simultaneous sighs of relief echoed the room, causing them to look at each other first in surprise, then in amusement. It was clear that they had both been contemplating their future and, with a shared look, mutually agreed that they were still too young to be contemplating anything of the sort and tabled the conversation for later. Much later.

"Hello?" Chloe asked, picking up her cell phone.

"Chloe?" a male voice asked huskily, like he thought someone might overhear.

"Kai?" she replied in response, recognizing the familiar voice. Kai was a Jackal, a friend and a former lover. She noticed out of the corner of her eye that Reid startled at the familiar name. "How are you?"

"Fine," he answered quickly. "Look, I hate to bother you, but you said that if there was ever a conflict, I should call you, right?"

Chloe's spine straightened immediately. This obviously wasn't a social call. "What's wrong?"

"There are some Mai and they've been hassling our Pack. I don't recognize them so they might be from an out of town Pride… But then, I don't really keep up with the San Francisco Pride members, so maybe not," Kai explained. "Nothing's happened yet. Just insults, but they're really riling my dad up. I think they're trying to get us to attack first so they can claim self-defense and dad probably knows that too… But you know how dad can get."

Chloe nodded although she knew he couldn't see her. Jackals had a notorious temper and Kai's dad certainly got that end of the gene pool. Kai, on the other hand, seemed to be the exception to the rule. It was what had once drawn her to him. He was calm and gentle; sweet even.

"Okay, I'm on my way," she replied, reaching out for a hoodie. Today, she was dressed to relax and lounge around the house. She wore an old pair of blue jeans with rips in them at the knees and thigh and a baby blue tank top. Her hair was a curly mess – she hadn't bothered to do anything with it but dry it – and tied into a messy knot that hung low at the base of her neck. The hoodie she slipped on was old and well worn, a heather gray Hollister sweatshirt that she got when she was thirteen or fourteen. It had been slightly large on her then, but now fit fine, if a little on the tight side. Still, Chloe loved it too much to get rid of it and still wore it on days where she lounged around the house.

"We're still down by the docks," Kai replied. "Hurry, the Mai have been coming down in the early afternoon."

"Got it." She nodded seriously, taking a quick glance at her clock to confirm that she had to rush if she wanted to make it on time.

"Oh!" Kai startled. "And, uh, please don't tell my dad how you heard about the conflict. You know how he feels about asking for help."

Chloe rolled her eyes, but agreed and hung up. Kai's father had to be one of the most obstinate people she had ever met… and she was mature enough to admit that she included herself on that list.

"Should we get the others?" Reid asked as they exited her bedroom. Chloe hesitated for a minute. It might be a good idea… Who knew how many Mai there were and the Jackals had a history of taking down anything that stood in their way, friends and enemies alike.

Chloe made her way down the hall and wrapped sharply on a wood door. "Chase?" she asked softly.

The door opened to reveal a rumpled, half-dressed boy. "Hey," he said drowsily. "What's up."

"Treaty problems," Reid replied from behind the strawberry blonde.

Immediately, Chase straightened up, his eye clearing in focus. "Give me one second." He turned around and threw on jeans and a t-shirt, barely pausing to grab his favorite brown leather jacket before joining the couple. "Let's go."

They trooped down to the cars and took Chase's Mercedes. "I'm texting Caleb and telling him what's up, just in case we end up needing them later," Reid declared from the passengers seat.

"He's out with Jasmine, right?" Chase asked.

"Yeah," Chloe replied. "But considering the problem is between Jackal and Mai, I really don't want her to know about this. Kai said that he didn't recognize them, but they could still have been part of the San Francisco Pride."

Reid nodded and sent a second text, requesting that Caleb not inform Jasmine about the problem because it might involve her Pride. He quickly received a text back agreeing and warning that if he didn't hear back from them for over a half hour, he'd round up the cavalry.

"Caleb says to keep him informed and to text every half hour. Any longer than that and he'll know we're in trouble," Reid reported as Chase pulled into the docks near where the Jackals lived.

Chloe and Chase both nodded in understanding before exiting the car. "What's the plan?" Chase asked, looking at Chloe. It was hard for him to ask her, she knew. Chase was the oldest and he had enough issues with Caleb who, despite being the second oldest, was leader of their Covenant. Still, Chloe was the Uniter and sometimes, that meant that she took the lead.

"We split up," Chloe decided, her eyes surveying the area. "Chase, I want you up high, on a rooftop. Reid, I want you shadowing me from a distance." Both boys nodded, splitting off immediately. Chloe took a deep breath, trying to calm her heart. This was her first official conflict since the negotiations completed. How she resolved this would set a precedent for all future conflicts. She had to be firm, but not cruel. "Let's do this," she whispered into the air before making her way to the warehouse she knew the Jackals lived in. She settled into a discreet spot in the narrow alley next to it. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Chase on the roof on the warehouse across from her, giving him vantage of the front door and any vehicles that might come up from the rear. She couldn't spot Reid, but bet that he was somewhere behind her, watching her back.

Minutes past as the trio waited. Looking at her watch, she realized that it was almost time to text Caleb again. She looked up at Chase, wanting to indicate her watch, hoping that he'd get the message and send their check-in text, but Chase wasn't paying attention to her. His brow furrowed, he seemed to be tracking something with his eyes. Chloe tensed. She had a feeling it was go-time.

Soon, she could hear the roar of a car speeding down through the docks. She sent a quick text to Caleb letting him know that things were starting up before pocketing her cell phone. She watched with a critical eye as Jackals began pouring out of the warehouse before anyone even stepped out of the car. Clearly, they already knew what was going to happen.

Sure enough, a small group of Mai exited the vehicle, smirks on their lips. Two girls took the lead; dark skinned, dark haired with equally dark looks in their eyes. "What is that reek?" one girl asked another.

"Smells like wet dog," the other replied with a snicker, ignoring the growls of the Jackals.

Chloe frowned as the taunts began to worsen and the Jackals began to get visibly angrier. She started when she felt a light touch on her lower back. She automatically lashed out, but her fist was caught.

"Woah," a male voice said lowly, surprised.

"Kai?" she breathed in surprise before relaxing. She should have known. There was no way Reid would allow an enemy to sneak up on her.

"Hey," he replied, reaching out for a quick hug. "I thought I caught your scent when I left the warehouse, so I tracked you down. My dad didn't even notice."

Chloe frowned, nodding knowingly as she turned back to the taunting fight in front of her. "I don't recognize those Mai so I think you were right about them being from out of town. And they are definitely trying to trick your dad into starting something." She scowled. This felt like a test. Someone wanted to see how she would react. If it was just a disagreement, the Mai would have attacked by now. Instead, they were forcing the Jackals to make the first move. And it couldn't be a coincidence that an outside Pride came all the way to San Francisco, the city she lived in.

A roar distracted her from her thoughts, drawing her attention back to the fight. Behind her, she could feel Kai rumbling, body shaking with anger. Chloe didn't catch what the Mai had said, but if it was enough to piss off calm, sweet Kai? It was no wonder Raoni attacked, his son Neco right next to him, throwing themselves at the two Mai women. Kai bolted into the fray, heading straight towards his father and brother, Chloe barely a step behind. She could feel Reid behind her, his longer legs quickly catching up to her. By the time she arrived to the fight, the entire Pack was fighting with the Mai.

"Enough!" she yelled, forcing her magic out of her in a ripple of pure magical energy. She staggered slightly from her own force; it had been a while since she last Used and her magic was eager for the release. Forcing her attention back on the fight, she looked around. Every single Mai and Jackal was frozen, staring at her. She wasn't sure if her magic literally froze them or if they were simply stunned by the interruption. She didn't care. With a wave of her hand, she magically separated the two warring factions.

Raoni growled at the interference, but she simply turned her pure black eyes onto him with a scowl and soon, he gave a tiny whine of submission. She then turned her attention to the two female Mai, clearly the instigators of this mess.

"Who are you?" she asked strongly, glaring.

The two girls shared a look, communicating silently, before smiling at her. "I am Lilah, this is Nikki. We are from the Sao Paulo Pride."

Nikki smiled too. "The rumors are true. You are as powerful as they say."

Chloe's left eyebrow twitched slightly. She knew it. This was a test. "What do you want?" she asked angrily.

"To meet you," Nikki replied like it was obvious. "We have heard so much about you; the legendary Uniter. We wanted to see you in person." Chloe didn't appear to believe her. "Truly," the brunette said imploringly.

"Then why attack?" Chloe scowled.

"To see you in action," Lilah replied, awe visible in her eyes.

Chloe hesitated, wondering what to do. With a wave of her hand, she released everyone from their freeze. "Raoni… It's okay, you can all return to your home, now," she said absent-mindedly, focused completely on the Mai.

"They attacked us! We demand retribution!" the Jackal leader roared.

"You attacked us!" Lilah snarled back.

"Because you-"

"Enough," Chloe barked out. "I know what happened. I will deal with it." Her eyes finally turned on the Pack, flashing between their normal blues and her magical black. "Return to your home."

The Pack instantly did as told, acknowledging Chloe as their leader, above even Raoni, but he still lingered. Chloe scowled, having Raoni disobey her was making her look weak in front of the Pride… She needed to nip this in the bud. "Kai," she called out, the boy one of the last to leave along with his brother Neco. "Your father seems to be worried. You may stay since your father has proven his inability to control himself."

Raoni growled at the insult, but Chloe's warning black eyes forced him to finally enter the warehouse, his oldest son following right behind.

Chloe finally turned back to the Mai, unsurprised to find that Reid had taken to watching them while her back had been turned. "Shall we go some place more civilized?" she asked calmly.

Chapter Text

The air was tense as the five occupants of the table alternately stared and glared at each other. They were sitting outdoors at a nearby café and, other than to give their orders, had not said a word to each other. The Mai were offended that they had to be near a Jackal, Kai was angry at the Mai for instigating problems with his Pack, Reid was angry that the situation was even happening and Chloe… Chloe was just puzzled.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Chase casually walking down the street, pretending to be just another pedestrian heading toward the nearby street market. He was her ace in the hole in case things got complicated. Chloe hoped that he had been checking in with Caleb because she hadn't had the chance.

It appeared the two Mai had reached the end of their ropes. "Why is the dog here?" Nikki snapped out.

Kai growled. Literally growled. His eyes turned yellow as his teeth began to grow into fangs. Chloe subtly reached out a hand under the table and put it on his thigh, trying to calm him. He was changing in public; who knew who was looking? Seeming to realize this, Kai calmed down and shifted back. "You attacked us," he replied, considerably calmer, knowing that he had Chloe on his side.

Lilah sniffed indignantly. "We did not. You attacked us."

"Because you-"

"Enough," Chloe interrupted, her tone mild. She didn't need to hear this; she was there, she knew what happened. She turned her full attention to the two Mai girls. "Why are you here?"

"We told you." Nikki smiled. "We're here to see you."

"Then why were you at the Jackals'?" Reid asked, taking a sip of his black coffee.

"The Uniter is closely guarded by the strongest witch coven in the world," Lilah replied, looking at the blond boy pointedly. "All we knew was that she currently lived in San Francisco. So we created a situation so that she would come."

"And what would you have done if I hadn't come?" Chloe asked curiously, sipping on her soy caramel macchiato.

"We knew you would," Nikki said with a shrug. "We asked around. The rumor mill told us all about you and what you've been up to here. Originally, we planned to start something with that Mai boy you dated, but reconsidered when we realized that he was Valentina's nephew. So we turned our attention to the other one, the Jackal boy." She sneered at Kai who glared right back.

Chloe gave a small sigh. It was a clever plan. They knew that Kai had direct access to her and so the minute the Mai began causing problems for his Pack, they knew she would be called.

"And we come back to the why. Why do you want to meet me?" she asked.

"Because you're the Uniter!" Lilah grinned. "The most powerful supernatural in the world, destined to unite our kind under your rule. We had to meet you. We had hoped that you would come to Sao Paulo during one of your international trips, but you never did. And then you moved to San Francisco, the supernatural mixing pot city, and we realized that you wouldn't come to us. So we decided to come to you."

"But why!" Chloe cried out in annoyance. "You want to meet me just because I'm the Uniter? That's it? There has to be more to it than that."

"Not really," Nikki replied. "You're our leader now. Why shouldn't we want to meet you first?"

When put like that, it did seem to make a good amount of sense. But at the same time, Chloe couldn't help but feel that it wasn't the total truth. She gave a small sigh. "Please apologize to Kai for instigating a fight with his Pack."

Nikki and Lilah shared an incredulous look. "What?" they demanded in unison.

"You caused problems with their Pack for no legitimate reason. Apologize," Chloe replied, enunciating her words clearly.

Again, Nikki and Lilah shared a look before sighing. "Sorry," they said with a grumble.

Chloe turned to look at Kai. "Satisfied?"

He shrugged. "Eh." He gave the two Mai a searching look before standing up. "Guess so. They're your problem."

Chloe stood up and gave him a tight hug before he left. She then sat down, looking at Reid out of the corner of her eye. She wondered if he was jealous. If she were still with Alek, she knew that he would have been. Alek would have pitched a huge fit at her seeing her ex, especially if that ex was a Jackal. But Reid seemed calm, completely at ease with her and Kai hugging in front of him.

Chloe gave a fond smile. That's one of the things she loved about Reid. He had complete trust and faith in her. He knew he had no reason to be jealous. She itched to lean forward and plant a kiss on his cheek, but knew she couldn't in front of the Mai. Later, she promised herself.

"So what now?" Reid asked. "You've met Chloe. Mission accomplished. Are you heading back to Sao Paulo?"

"No way!" Lilah replied. "We met her, but we still want to get to know her." Lilah turned to face the strawberry blonde. "Come out with us tonight," she invited.

Chloe blinked in surprise. "What?"

"Yeah!" Nikki spoke up. "We'll go to dinner, hang out, go out clubbing… It will be fun!"

Chloe hesitated. "Sure," she agreed, surprising even herself.

"What?" Reid hissed lowly despite knowing that the Mai could hear him.

She shrugged casually, but there was something in her eyes that said she would explain later. Reid gave a small huff, but settled back down. "I'm going too," he stated.

The two Mai glared slightly. They wanted to be alone with Chloe, get to know her without outside interference. "Fine," Chloe agreed, standing up. "We'll meet up tonight at Escalate. It's a restaurant and a club. Nine pm?"

"We'll see you there," Nikki replied, a satisfied smile on her face as she and Lilah left.

Chloe and Reid meandered down the road. As soon as the two girls were out of sight, the duo were joined by Chase and Kai. "So what are you thinking?" Chase asked curiously.

"Nothing. They're up to something. I'm just gonna play it by ear until they give it up."