“The moon is awfully bright tonight. It’s as if it’s glowing straight through the walls. We barely need the lamps on,” Rae remarked to Brian as he sat down on a dining chair.
“Yes, there are legends about nights like these. My mother used to call them a Witch’s Moon.” He grinned, “Superstition was as good as religion back then.”
Rae closed her book and looked at Brian in interest. He’d never spoken about his family before. It might have something to do with the fact that before coming to Moonlight Falls three months ago, he was her doctor. Now he felt more like a close friend. Something she’d never had before, not counting Ade, of course. “Your mother? What was the legend? In all the classes I took at University, I never heard that one.”
Brian’s grin softened to a wistful smile. “My family was very religious and believed in God, but they were also very aware of the world around them. I believe I have an aunt who says she can see faeries.” He paused as Rae snorted. “I take it you don’t believe me?”
“Fairies aren’t real Brian. Everyone knows that.”
“I see you are still blind to the world around you. The fae are just as real as ghosts and genies.” He stared pointedly at her.
“So you’re saying that everything that goes bump in the night actually exists? But that would mean vampires and werewolves and even aliens are real!”
Brian grinned, revealing even, white teeth. “Precisely.”
Rae snorted again and went back to reading her book.
Rae sat in front of the fire at Maud’s Elixirs & Things Consignment Shop. After speaking to Brian, she’d found this little shop and visited practically every day after work. She loved it; there was a ghost that hung around pointing people in the right direction. She didn’t know if most of the customers realized it, but they usually went the way shown to them although they couldn’t possibly see the ghost.
“This is a quaint little place. Do you have eye of wart?”
Rae’s eyes widened. She knew that voice. Damn! Maybe Layla wouldn’t notice her and leave without causing a fuss.
“Well, look who we have here.” Damn it, she saw her.
“Hello Layla.” Rae stood up from the rocking chair and forced a smile onto her face. Layla’s eyes widened at the sight of Rae’s pregnant body. It was nice to be able to surprise the woman, even if it was with a secret she knew was going to come back to haunt her.
“You’re pregnant,” Layla stammered.
“Yes, I am,” Rae responded sardonically.
Layla looked at her sharply, “Did you know you were pregnant when you left your husband?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but yes, I knew.”
“Do you know what you’ve done to him? Don’t you think he has a right to know? If you didn’t want to be with him, why did you go through all that trouble to marry him, to keep him away from those that would love him for four years? Now he won’t even see anyone. You’ve ruined a good man, you evil little –”
“You better watch your mouth,” Rae interjected, “I am not in the mood to explain my love life to anyone, let alone you. You’ve been downright nasty to me since I met you and I put up with it for Connor. But don’t think for a minute that I wouldn’t love the chance to smack you. Do not push me!”
Layla laughed, “You think I’m scared of you? Please, if it wasn’t for the fact that you’re carrying Connor’s child – wait, it is his right? Or is that why you left him? Were you cheating and found out you got knocked up? You were only married for a few weeks; no way did you have time to get pregnant. You little whore!”
A loud crack sounded and Layla gasped. Rae’s eyes widened. She hadn’t meant to do anything, it just happened. She’d felt flushed and the next thing she knew, a burst of light came out of her hands and slammed into Layla.
Both women stood there daze, looking at each other, before Layla let out a little moan and doubled over, vomiting. Rae stood there for a moment longer before she rushed to help her. Layla held a hand out, warding her off. “Don’t come near me you witch!”
Layla straightened and pointed her finger at Rae, “You take one step closer and I’ll call the police. I knew there was something wrong with you the moment I met you. I told Connor he was too good for you, that he deserved better. I was right, you’re nothing but a witch and you aren’t worthy of carrying that man’s child. I hope for his sake that it does belong to someone else!” She doubled up again, a grimace of pain on her face. After a few minutes it seemed to stop and Layla turned away from Rae, calling the proprietor of the shop, Maud, for help.
Rae stood there and just watched things unfold. She had no idea what was happening and as much as she hated Layla, her words rang too close to the truth. Rae didn’t know what she was, but it obviously wasn’t human. Connor’s words came back to her. …we shouldn’t have gotten married.
Rae practically ran out of the shop into the parking lot. If the man she’d given her heart, her body, and her soul to thought being tied to her was a bad idea, did she even have the right to force a child to be bound to her? This baby wouldn’t be able to leave; it would be stuck with a mother who couldn’t control the power she had inside her. She would be a danger to her child. Rae got into her car and wept.
As she was driving home from work, Rae decided to go to Mansfield Park. She rarely went out and going back to Brian’s home just didn’t appeal to her. She had a decision to make and it had kept her up at night. Ever since her encounter with Layla, she’d wondered if maybe it was time to tell Connor about her pregnancy. Layla had been right about one thing, he deserved to know the truth.
As Rae walked into the park, she headed for the wishing well that was situated in the center. She’d found this the first time she’d visited, but had avoided it because she knew how powerful a wish truly could be. But standing in front of it now, she felt desperate and so alone. She had yet to tell her family she was expecting a baby and Rebecca hadn’t said a word to her since she came to Moonlight Falls. It was as if the ghost simply vanished.
Taking a quarter from her pocket, Rae closed her eyes and wished for happiness. She laughed to herself for a moment. She had everything but the one thing that mattered. She was a princess, had a career she loved, had family that loved her, and was expecting a beautiful child. But there was no one to share all this with. Her heart felt so empty. As she threw the coin into the water, she whispered, “I want to be happy, in whatever way you deem fit.”
She didn’t know who she spoke to or if this wishing well was as powerful as the one in Lucky Palms, but she would try anything. As she turned to leave she spotted a ghost that looked vaguely like Rebecca, except she was…different. “Rebecca?” Rae called out. Maybe her wish was already coming true.
As she walked over to the ghost, it turned around and Rae saw that it was Becca. “Where have you been and why are you dressed like that?
The ghost frowned at her. “I’m sorry do I know you?”
Rae laughed, “You’re not still upset with me, are you? I haven’t heard or seen you in three months Becca, I’ve been lonely.”
“I really have no idea who you are and I have somewhere to be, so if you’ll excuse me…” Rebecca turned to go but Rae grasped her arm. Something she knew was pointless because Rebecca had never been solid enough for her to tou—whoa. Her hand actually found purchase! “Becca, I can feel you! Oh my God, how – when did this happen? Did you tell Brian, I mean, Dr. Gates? This is great news!”
Rebecca pulled her arm from Rae and scowled. “I have always been like this. Dr. Brian said there was nothing he could do.” As she walked away, Rae just stood there staring after her. Something was terribly wrong.
“You can’t be serious! Aliens? And mankind has just been oblivious to all this?” Rae exclaimed. Brian had just handed her a scientific research paper about the existence of supernatural beings on the human plane. He’d promised it to her weeks ago, after their conversation on the night of the witch’s moon.
“Not at all. The fact that you even know of them proves their existence. How many books and movies have been written about them? How many legends and myths exist? When you have people citing the same stories across cultures and religions, it stands to reason that some of those fables must be based on facts.”
Rae was speechless, even vampires? “But why is there no proof? Why do they not show themselves?”
“Survival. There are billions of humans in this world, but only about a hundred million Supernaturals, combined. Nature has a way of balancing the scales.”
“How do you know all this? Have you met a vampire or a werewolf before?” Rae had to sit down, this was too much.
“Yes,” he said simply, following her lead and sitting in the chair across from her. They’d just moved from a ridiculous, theoretical conversation to an intense discussion about things that went beyond her comprehension. This was really happening! But if what Layla had accused her of being was true, she needed to know. The only thing that would keep her child safe was knowledge about what she was and a plan on how to cope. Alone.
Rae opened her mouth to ask more questions but he changed the subject. “Now, the legend of the Witch Moon is an interesting one. Werewolves are secretive by nature, as are most species of Supernaturals, so I can’t confirm this, but my mother told me once that a Witch Moon is extremely rare, no one knows when they will appear. Apparently, all mated wolves will undergo a forced change into a half human/half wolf hybrid.”
“Like the American Werewolf in London?” Rae was part fascinated and part skeptical. Academically, she was fascinated by the legend, but if she allowed herself to believe it, then what else was she ignorant of? What other dangers were out there?
“No. A lot less hair, a lot more teeth,” he replied dryly. “Most werewolves are born, not made. Anyway, the legend says that these mated wolves must present themselves to their mates and if their mate rejects them, they will be forced to stay in that state; never really man or beast. Most wolves live in fear of that happening and tend to mate their own.
“So what about those that have no mate?”
“They are not affected.”
“Why would something like that even happen?”
Brian shrugged, “Another way to control over-population. Werewolves in that state have very little control. You must understand, the man and the wolf are both battling for dominance. If you have chosen the right mate, they will see your duality and accept you regardless. It is not such a difficult thing to do if both are werewolves but you can imagine if one did not know of the other’s secret. It is a good way to prevent cross-breeding.”
“So there has never been a human/wolf mating? How did they become the way they are? Isn’t the very definition of a werewolf, half human, half wolf?” She was sucked into the story, regardless of how skeptical she had been in the beginning.
“I’ve only ever heard of it happening once.” He stopped and looked over at her. “It’s all very complicated.”
“It doesn’t sound complicated to me. Werewolves are cursed. But what about other Sups? Does the, uh, witch moon, affect them?”
“Sups?” He raised an eyebrow in question.
“Supernaturals,” she said sheepishly.
He laughed. “I like that. Sups.” He started to get up. “I have to head out for the rest of the day, but I’ll see you in the morning. Have a great day Rae Rose.”
“Same to you, Brian.”
It wasn’t until she started reading the book he gave her, written by a Dr. Siobhan Stoneheart, that she realized he never answered her question. She also forgot to mention her encounter with Rebecca. After that brief sighting in the park, she hadn’t heard or seen Becca.
Rae walked out of the hospital’s solid front doors. She was in her third trimester and needed permission from her doctor to travel. She had to go see Connor and tell him about the baby, if he didn’t already know, thanks to Layla. She’d dragged her feet for weeks, but this was something that had to be done.
With the okay from her doctor, she headed back to the house to start packing. Everything seemed to take twice as long to do. She couldn’t see past her belly, she couldn’t bend down, and her feet had swollen up so much that even her sneakers wouldn’t fit anymore. Maybe she would create a clothing line for expectant mothers because all the current ones sucked.
As she cut through a small park, she saw Caleb. Waving, she walked over to him. “Hey, how are you?”
“I’m doing well and yourself?” He gave her stomach an amused glance before looking back up at her.
She had to laugh, “I was just thinking how awful it was to be a fashionable mother.” When he raised an eyebrow, she explained, “I look like a beached whale with horrible orthopedic shoes.”
He laughed at that, “I think you look quite lovely, even in those shoes.”
She felt herself start to blush. Maybe she was imagining it, but she thought Caleb was flirting with her. And as much as she appreciated the attention, the only other person who ever flirted with her was Connor. “Umm, thank you?”
He inclined his head. “Are you heading back home?”
“Yes, I have to pack and that will take all day.”
“Should you be travelling in your condition?” He frowned and looked down at her belly again. “You have to be at least six months.”
“Thirty-one weeks actually. But my doctor gave me the okay and it’s an important trip.”
“I see. Well, I must go attend to some business.” He took a step towards her, as if to kiss her and her mind started screaming for her to move away, but her body refused to listen. But instead of kissing her, he whispered, “Have a safe flight Rae.” Then winking at her, as if he knew what she’d been thinking, he walked away. She felt her face flush again, what was wrong with her? She wasn’t even divorced yet!
Rae walked up her parent’s front porch; she’d left her suitcase in the car. Before she could reach for the doorbell, her mother came bursting out…and stopped dead in her tracks. “Oh my God!”
“Hi mom, surprise,” she said tiredly. She still hadn’t told her family about the baby. “Before you say anything, can I come in and sit down? I’ve had a long day.”
“Of course, sweetheart.” Aaliyah looked beyond Rae. “Is Connor coming with the bags?”
That was all it took. Rae felt the tears start to slide down her cheeks. “Oh, mommy, he left me!”
Aaliyah stood in shock for the second time in as many minutes. Then she wrapped her arms around her crying daughter and led her inside. “We’ll make you a cup of tea and you can tell me all about it.” As Rae stood there, brushing away her tears, Aaliyah bent down to feel her tummy. “Grandma will make it better baby.” Rae gave a watery laugh and stroked her belly too. She sure hoped that was true.
Her mother sat her down in the kitchen and listened to her story while making the promised tea. When Rae finally stopped for air, Aaliyah asked, “You haven’t spoken to him at all? He’s never once tried to contact you?”
“Oh, he calls, I just never answer. I love him but he had doubts and waited until we were married to share them. Four years mom, and not a single word, then right when it would hurt the most, he tells me it was all a mistake. He can’t ever take those words back and I’m not ready to forgive and forget.”
“So what do you want to do honey?” Aaliyah placed the cup of tea in front of her.
She took a sip. Her mother made the best tea. “I’m going to go tell him he’s about to be a father.”
She woke up early the next morning and after eating breakfast with her parents – her father had some words for her – she headed to her car to make the three hour drive to Appaloosa. As she walked into the house a sense of foreboding washed over her, but she shook it off, attributing it to nerves. She was just about to call out when she heard the sound of laughter coming from the living room.
As she walked through the arched opening of the living, the sight of Connor in pajama bottoms hugging Layla stopped her short. It was ten in the morning and Layla looked as if she was dressed to go dancing. Why would – unless she’d been there all night. Rae felt her insides turn cold. In her own home! He’d wanted space to think! Yeah, Layla was probably more than ready to help him. Clearing her throat, she stepped into the room.
At that sound, Connor and Layla broke apart, turning in surprise. “Rosie! What are you doing here?”
She raised an eyebrow, “This is my house, remember? What is she doing here?”
As she moved forward, his eyes traveled to her belly and widened. So Layla hadn’t told him. Why was that?
“You’re pregnant,” He said in a shocked voice. If she wasn’t so angry, she’d have laughed at the look on his face. Walking past the bookcase, she fingered a horse statue and looked around the room. They’d lived here for such a short time together, but she loved the place, had always thought they would work things out and spend their lives here together. Aside from the bookcase and the couch, everything else looked unfamiliar to her, he’d been busy decorating. Layla had probably helped him.
Turning to them she said, “I thought you’d want to know we were having a baby. But now that I’m here, I wonder if it even makes a difference.” Looking at Layla but still talking to him, she continued, “Didn’t she tell you? She saw me just a few months ago. I’ll admit, I thought maybe when you found out, you’d come see for yourself, otherwise I would have been here sooner.” She turned back to him then, “I guess I thought you’d care.” No matter how much she tried, she couldn’t prevent the hurt from coming through in that last sentence.
“I had no idea or I would have, I swear it Rosie.”
“Don’t bother, it doesn’t matter anyway.” But it did matter and it hurt. Why didn’t he come anyway?
“So, are you home for good or did you just stop by to tell him the news?” This came from Layla, whose eyes Rae would gladly have scratched out if she was the violent type.
“Layla, do you remember our last encounter? Please don’t push me. In fact, I think you should leave now.” Connor started to say something and Rae turned to him, “You need to choose your words carefully because this is still my house, no matter how you’ve redecorated and who you now let sleep in our bed!”
“How could you say – how could you even think something like that?” Connor asked. “You left me to go to some godforsaken town up north and I’m the one who’s suspect? Four years Rae. I spent four years getting you to trust me and everything I’ve done for you; every sacrifice I made meant nothing. You leave without a real reason and I’m the bad guy? What did I do to you to make you hate me so much? After waiting for so long, you think I would just throw it all away? You don’t know me at all!”
“Connor, you asked me to give you some space, not the other way around. You got drunk and you said our getting married was a mistake. I’m sorry you can’t remember that conversation, I wish I could forget it too, but this is what you wanted, not me. You are the one standing here with this woman early in the morning, not me. You don’t love me, not the other way around. I gave you everything, every single thing I am.” Rae felt a sudden sharp pain in her stomach and her eyes went wide. What the –
Connor took a step toward her, concern evident on his face.
Layla stepped back and said, “The baby’s coming.”
Rae stared at her. No, it was too soon, she still had close to ten more weeks before she was due. She doubled up in fear. “It’s too soon. The baby can’t come now, it’s too soon!”
Connor ran out of the room without saying anything. If she wasn’t so scared she would have been amused. He was a firefighter, weren’t they supposed to be calm during crises? Ignoring Layla, who just stood there, staring at her, Rae made her way to the front door. Maybe she could drive to the hospital…except this was horse country and she’d likely end up getting stuck behind pickups at this time of day.
She reached for her cell phone to call for an ambulance when Connor came stomping downstairs, fully dressed, his car keys jingling in his hand. He picked her up and walked to the door and shifting her, opened it with one hand. When they reach his pickup, he put her down and unlocked the back, helping her get in before running to the driver’s side and sliding in.
“We’ll get you to the hospital in no time, ok baby? You’re going to be just fine.” She didn’t know whether he was saying that for her benefit or for his own and she didn’t care. He was here, she wasn’t alone in this and that’s all that mattered.
“And this is your room right here, sweetheart.” Rae cooed at the small bundle in her arms, her little miracle. After Connor rushed her to the hospital, she’d been admitted immediately. The baby had been in distress and needed to be delivered as soon as possible. But once they were ready to do an emergency cesarean section, the pain had stopped. That had been the most terrifying moment of her life because no pain meant no distress which could mean all sorts of things, like her losing the baby. But after another round of tests, they’d discovered that the baby was fine.
She’d had to stay in the hospital for the reminder of her pregnancy – a fact she attributed to her being connected to a lot of important and very famous people and not necessarily because she needed to, but she didn’t complain. If it meant her baby could remain comfortably inside to continue to grow, then she was all for it.
Well, she came two weeks early anyway, a much more reasonable debut and on October 31st, Eva Louise Torres was born. The baby was given her last name and Rae didn’t bother to change it.
Connor spent the eight weeks that Rae was in the hospital worrying. He tried to visit every day, but sometimes she refused to see him. It was the most frustrating thing in the world. He loved her so much, but she refused to see that and he couldn’t get their fight out of his head. Had he really said those things to her while he was intoxicated? He’d gone home the night she gave birth to his beautiful baby girl and thought about her words. Did he really regret marrying her? His immediate answer was no, but dismissing his impulsive response, he tried to think about the question dispassionately. Yes, there were times when he had wondered if he was doing the right thing. Particularly when she’d told him about the ghost bit, that had thrown him for a loop. But he’d gotten over it, hadn’t he?
When she shared her secret about Rebecca, he’d had another moment of worry. But to have her entire family and her doctor confirm what she was saying – and he’d looked up Dr. Gates, he was legitimate and well thought of by the medical community – he believed them about that. So what could possibly have triggered his doubts? And he could have sworn he’d only had two drinks. That would not have been enough to explain his headache the next morning, his tattoo and his callous words to his wife. He did not regret marrying Rae. In fact, he’d been worried that she was unhappy with him! And to wake up and have her say she was leaving him had been a blow.
He walked up the stairs to their bedroom – or Rae’s bedroom, he’d moved into a guest room. She was up there putting the baby to sleep. Knocking on the door, he stuck his head inside and saw Rae leaning over the crib. “Hey,” he said.
She looked up and over at him, her face immediately closing up. “Hey.”
“Is she asleep?” He moved into the room toward them, his wife and child. He was still amazed by that. Three months ago, he didn’t think he’d ever see his wife again and hadn’t even known about the baby.
“Almost, I think. Did you need something?”
He looked at her and wanted nothing more than to pull her into his arms and hold her. “No. Just wanted to check in on you two.”
“Are you sure?”
She just looked at him. Yeah, that’s how he felt too.