It had been three weeks. Three weeks of trying to get Connor to listen to reason but he wouldn’t budge.
“Connor, we need to talk.”
“If it’s about this werewolf thing again, no we don’t.”
“If you don’t want to believe Caleb, fine. But I do believe him and I want his help. I trust him.” She couldn’t believe how stubborn he was being. “What do you have against him, anyway? He came all the way over here to help our son. How many people would do something like that? He’s been a good friend and you act as if you can’t stand him. I don’t get it!”
He sighed and got up and she followed him into the living room. “He’s more than a friend, Rae. He’s my brother.”
You could have blown her over with a feather at that moment. “He’s your what? I thought you only had one brother? What about David?”
“Caleb is our older brother. He left – was taken – when I was born.”
“Was taken? He must have been a child himself when that happened. Why didn’t you ever tell me?” Dear goddess, she’d been lusting after her husband’s brother? She was going to be sick. She sat down on the couch, feeling dizzy.
“I didn’t know. My parents never spoke about it. I only found out recently.” He looked over at her and frowned. “What’s wrong?”
She waved him off. “I’m fine, just a little overwhelmed. Why didn’t you tell me when you found out? When did you find out?” Had Caleb known who she was all this time? Even in Moonlight Falls?
“At our wedding. He just walked right up to me and introduced himself as Caleb London. I had no idea who he was – I thought he might be a cousin or something. But then he told me he was my brother.”
“Wait, at our wedding? That was four years ago! You’ve known for four years and you never said anything?”
“Why are you so upset? I’m telling you now.”
“You don’t keep secrets from your spouse, Connor. I can’t even begin – how could you not tell me?” She knew she was overreacting a bit, but she felt like such a fool. Caleb must have known who she was if he’d been at her wedding. He’d pretended not to know her, had flirted and let her flirt back. He was Connor’s brother! If someone had told her…
Rae placed her head in her hands. “You two must think I’m such a fool. How could you do this to me?”
Connor looked nonplussed. “What are you talking about? How could I do, what, to you?”
“I met your – I met Caleb when I was living in Moonlight Falls.” She looked up at him. “He goes by the name Romajin there. He never said a thing about being related to you. Not once.”
He sat down next to her. “Is he the guy you were talking about the night you got drunk?”
“What are you talking about?”
Connor laughed bitterly. “That’s right, you don’t remember. You said there was a man, a werewolf, in Moonlight Falls who wanted to be with you and you were going to leave me for him.” He took a deep breath, “You wanted a divorce so you could take my child and be with my brother.”
She didn’t know what to say. It was true. She’d thought about doing just that. “I – I didn’t know who he was.”
“While you two were – getting to know each other, you never told him you were married?”
“He never asked.”
“You never talked about the father of your child?”
“You didn’t think it was strange that a man was interested in you but never once wanted to know if there was someone else in your life? Or did you make it so clear that you were available, that there was no need to ask?” He was shaking with rage.
“Don’t. Don’t go there Connor.” She closed her eyes. She’d done nothing wrong, she would not feel guilty.
“Did you sleep with him?” He asked in a soft voice. Her eyes snapped open.
“No! How could you even ask such a thing? Even think it!”
He stood up and started pacing. “What am I supposed to think? You obviously trust him and like him -” He stopped to look at her again. “Do you love him?”
When she said nothing, he nodded once and walked out of the room.
Rae sat there and asked herself the question over and over again. Did she love Caleb? Did she want to be with Caleb…more than she wanted to be with Connor? They were brothers? Was her son going to die?
She was startled when Connor walked back into the room. “I think you should do whatever you think is best for our children. If that means giving Andrei to Caleb, then go ahead and do that. I won’t stop you.” He looked around as if he’d lost his train of thought and that was when she saw the bag on the floor.
“You’re leaving me. Again.” It wasn’t a question. They always left in the end. Connor was no different; he’d already proven it once.
“What? No, why would you think that?”
“What’s in the bag then?”
He looked down at the duffel bag. “I’m going to work. So I guess, yes, I’m leaving, but I’m coming back. I love you Rosie. Nothing will ever change that and I made a promise to always be there – “til death do us part,” remember? There has never been anyone else for me and there never will be.” He cleared his throat and lifted the bag. “It’s up to you to decide if I’m the one for you.”
“I love you,” she said.
He dropped the bag and walked over to her, lifted her from the couch and kissed her. She wrapped her arms around him and she felt tears sliding down her cheeks. She wanted him, needed his strength.
Finally he pulled away and brushed away her tears. “I know,” he whispered.
“You are going to stay the hell away from her!” Connor reared back and punched Caleb again. Pain flared up and out, he definitely just broke some fingers, the guy must have reinforced steel for a jaw.
Caleb growled. “Are you quite finished? I’m trying really hard not to get angry here.”
“You son of a –”
“Hey now, she’s your mother too.” Caleb spit out some blood. “I take it Rae told you about us?”
About us. Connor felt the shifting in his gut again, only this time, it didn’t go away. His vision became blurry but everything seemed brighter at the same time. He stumbled.
“Whoa there buddy. What the hell was that?” Caleb was suddenly in his space, leading him to a chair. “Your eyes just Changed, little brother.”
He pushed Caleb away. “I don’t need your help.”
Touching his jaw, where Connor had punched him twice, Caleb snorted. “You might need me more than you think. There’s wolf in you, bro.”
Connor closed his eyes, hoping the room would stop spinning. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Caleb dropped on the chair opposite him and grinned. “How are you feeling? A little disoriented; maybe a little aggressive – territorial of what’s yours?” He tried to smile wider, but winced as his split lip was stretched. “Damn, you punch harder than falling bricks.”
“Yeah, remember that the next time you even think about going near my wife.” Connor felt the surge of rage he’d been carrying since he’d spoken to Rae that morning.
“You can’t blame me for flirting with a beautiful woman, one you apparently had tossed to the side.”
“You’re an ass, you know that? Who flirts with another man’s pregnant wife?”
“A person who knows the value of a good woman. It’s not like she was turning me away.”
And there was the rub. Rae had flirted back. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t known who he was at the time. She’d accepted the attention of another man while they were still married…while she was pregnant with Eva. And that hurt like hell.
“What about that sister of hers? I heard there was a fire at her place last week. Is she alright?”
“Who, Adeya? Yeah, no one was hurt, why? You know something about it?”
“No. Just concerned about Rae’s family. She talked about them all the time.”
Connor stood up. “You don’t need to be concerned about anything that has to do with Rae. She’s not yours to worry about.”
“Except for the fact I’m the only one who can help her son.” Caleb leaned back, a smirk on his face.
“Rae might think you’re a good guy, but I know better. She wants your help with this, fine. But once it’s over, you stay the hell away from my family.”
“Why are you so hostile? You barely know me, CJ.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Why? I gave you that nickname. David and Lux call you that. I like it. Don’t be a curmudgeon.”
“Don’t be a jerk.”
Caleb stood up. “Listen, once I have Andrei, I’ll go and won’t bother you again. Although, I will miss our little tête-à-têtes.”
“Go to hell.”
“I’ve been there since I was three.”
“Hey, little one, let’s put on your coat. We’re going to meet Uncle Caleb.” Rae finished dressing Andrei and stood up with the toddler. Four years ago, she hadn’t even dreamed of having a child, now she had three. “Daddy and I did a good job with something at least, didn’t we, Dre?”
Looking up, she saw Connor standing by the doorway. “Hey.”
“You’re going over to see him?” No need to explain who “him” was.
“Yeah, he said he wanted to meet Andrei.”
“Are you sure you want to do this? We can find another way. There has to be another way.”
“We’ve gone over this. He’s the only person who knows what to do. He can help our son. What’s so bad about that?”
“How can you be so calm about this? Won’t you miss him, not even a little?” Connor walked over and stroked the toddler’s face. “I don’t want you to do this, Rosie.” He looked at her, his eyes pleading with her.
“I’m going to be there for the whole thing and when it’s over, I’ll bring him back home. It will be like we never left.”
Connor frowned and let his hand fall away from Andrei’s cheeks. “You’re going to leave with him? That’s not the way it works, Rae. He’s going to take Andrei away. He won’t ever give him back.”
“I – I don’t understand. Why would he keep our child?”
“That’s just the way it works, apparently. They come and they take them away and we’re just supposed to let them. Now do you see why I don’t want him here? We can find another way!”
“But why would he keep him? Brian said the Witch’s Moon happens rarely, so why…?”
Connor shrugged. “I asked my dad the same question. Caleb didn’t want to come back. They never do.”
“But he’s just a baby…” She looked down at her son.
“We don’t have to do this, Rosie.”
“I’ll just tell him – I’ll tell him…” She didn’t know what she would say to him. Did he really plan to take Andrei away? She adjusted the baby on her arm. “I’ll tell him he can’t have him and that will be the end of that.”
Connor looked skeptical. “That easy, huh?”
She glared at him. “Yes, that easy.”
“Rae. I was beginning to worry you wouldn’t make it.” Caleb let her in through the door. “Can I take your coat?”
Holding the baby, Rae studied Caleb. He didn’t seem like the man Connor described. He’d been nothing but good to her since she met him. Her eyes narrowed when she saw the bruises. “What happened to your face?”
“Your husband happened.”
“Connor did this to you? Why?” She had a feeling, but he’d never been violent before.
“You have to ask? I would have done the same thing if I found out my mate was involved with another man.” He moved toward her. “Here, let me take the child so you can take your coat off.”
“We were not involved, Caleb. You flirted, I let you. That’s it.”
“Is that how we’re remembering it, then? Alright.” When she didn’t hand over the boy he walked past her. “Do you want something to drink?”
“No, I’m fine. Listen, I came here because I have some questions and I wanted you to meet Andrei.”
“Interesting name, why Andrei?”
“It’s a family name. But you know that.” She put the toddler on the carpet and removed her coat. Sitting down, she handed Andrei a toy.
Caleb sat down across from her. “So, let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?”
“Connor said you wanted to take Andrei away.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Because he needs me. I’m the only person who understands what he’s about to go through and he’ll need to be trained on how to control the urges and how to control the Change. Don’t you want your son to be safe?”
“Yes, of course. But why can’t he learn those things while he’s with us?”
“Where would you have me teach him…in Appaloosa?” He laughed. “The wooded mountains of Moonlight Falls are a more suitable location.”
“Fine, then we’ll move. I’m not going to give up my child.” She could be just as stubborn as anyone else.
“He can’t get distracted. How will he feel, knowing he’s the only one that has this curse inside him? Meanwhile, even his twin is normal? Do you really want him to be an outsider in his own family? It’s better if he sees me as his father.” He looked at Andrei, “Although, every boy needs a mother. I had once thought you would make an excellent mate.”
She caught her breath, he wasn’t seriously asking what she thought he was asking…was he? “Caleb, you’ve been so good to me. I think of us as good friends…”
“Friends? I have enough friends. What I need is someone who will be my mate. I thought you may have wanted that too.” He smiled at her. “How can you still be with CJ after everything? All the doubts he has about you. He treats you like that other boy once did. You’re nothing but a fascination to him.”
She stood up and narrowed her eyes at him. “How do you know all this? Why do you know so much about me?”
He shrugged, “I hear things, people talk.”
“What people? Those are private things you’re talking about! Have you been spying on me?”
“Not spying, no. But you have people in your life that care about what happens to you. I’m one of them. I’ve tried to be so patient with you, nudging you in the right direction, but you just won’t let him go. I don’t understand it.” He said all this casually, as if invading her privacy was as normal as breathing to him.
Realization dawned, practically smacking her in the face. “It’s you. You’ve been trying to break us up! Why?”
“He doesn’t deserve you. He is nothing compared to me. No one understands you the way I do, no one can appreciate you the way I do.” His eyes flashed and the light seemed to be shining out of them, “You think Connor understands your aversion to the rain? He doesn’t. He probably pretends it’s a quirk and has never asked you about it, right?”
She shook her head. She would not listen to this. Connor loved her, flaws and all. “You’re wrong. He loves me.” That sounded weak, even to her.
“I don’t deny that he loves you, I’m sure he does. He’s very protective of you, even. But does he understand you? Does he know that you love the cold because your body temperature is higher than most? Or that the rain reminds you of when you were a ghost and it used to seep right through you, reminding you that you had no body for the water to fall on? Does he know how lonely it was seeing everyone growing up while you remained the same?”
He stood up and took her by the arms. “I know what it’s like to be the outsider. Connor, with his charming smile, his good looks, his normalcy, will never understand us. You don’t belong with him. You belong with me. You feel it, that irresistible attraction; I saw how you couldn’t keep your eyes off me, even while your husband sat next to you. We’re soul mates. Even Rebecca knows it!”
She’d been numb, crumbling under his persuasive words, remembering how lost she had felt as a child, abandoned, alone, never changing…until he mentioned Rebecca. “Wait, Rebecca? My Rebecca? How do you know about her,” she demanded, pulling away from him.
Laughing he walked towards a window and stared out at the growing snowstorm. “Rebecca is my ancestor. It’s her last name that I took, that Andrei will take – Romajin. I thought for sure you would recognize it.”
She stood there speechless. Caleb was Rebecca’s descendant? That meant so was Connor. Rebecca must have known and that’s why she’d pushed so hard to get Rae to be with him. “You lied. Rebecca wanted me to be with Connor, not you!”
“Rebecca wanted you to be with a London. She was drawn to Connor because that’s who he is. But she stayed with me once she found me.”
“She’s with you? That’s where she’s been all this time – in Moonlight Falls? But why?” She was getting a headache. This was all too much.
“Because she knew who I was the instant she saw me. She knew that our souls were connected. You belong with me!”
“This is insane. I love Connor. He is my soul mate, he is my husband, and he is the father of my children!” She needed to get out of there. She needed to go back home, where it was safe and she could curl up beside Connor and pretend none of this was happening.
“No matter what you tell yourself, you know in your heart that I’m right. So think about what I said. Andrei will lose everything; the least you could do is let him keep his mother. That’s all I ever wanted, after I was taken.”
She tugged her coat on quickly and picked up her son. “There has to be another way. You can’t have my son.”
“I can and I will. You don’t have a choice. Either give him to me before he Changes in five months or watch him suffer and die. It’s that simple.” He started to turn away, but looked back at her. “And Rae? The Change is a painful process.” With that, he walked away and left her to see herself out.
Choking back a sob, she whirled away and rushed out the door. How could he be so cruel and cold; how did she not see that before? And why did she find herself thinking about what he said? She couldn’t leave her family behind. What about Anthony and Eva? What about Connor? What about their vows, ‘Til death do us part’?”
But what about her son?
“Brian, there has to be something, a cure or treatment for this. How do other werewolves survive a Witch Moon?”
As soon as she got home, Rae called Brian Gates. She should have done that from the beginning!
“Most transformations occur after puberty. Caleb is the only wolf I know that has transformed so young. Your husband’s whole family tree is an anomaly. It’s quite extraordinary, actually.”
“Dr. Gates, please spare your fascination.” Now was not the time for scientific discourse, her son’s life was at stake!
“Yes, sorry about that. I’ve been following them for years and…”
She cut him off, “Excuse me? You’ve known about this from the beginning and you never once mentioned it to me? You didn’t think that this was information I would need to know?”
She couldn’t believe it, everyone was keeping secrets from her, even people who were supposed to be looking out for her best interests. The hand holding her phone started to shake, she was so angry.
“It was not my secret to tell, Rae. There are things that you don’t know about for a reason. Sups, as you call us, don’t appreciate humans knowing our secrets.”
“I’m sorry, did you just say us? Are you – are you a werewolf too?” This day was going from bad to worse. Her son was a werewolf, his uncle was trying to take him and her away from Connor and now her doctor was some type of supernatural being…probably an alien.
He laughed. “No. Not a werewolf. But we have more important things to talk about, like helping your son. As far as I know and I don’t really know much, mind you – the family has always been very secretive; I’ve only ever known the Romajin men. Every few years, there would be a new boy with the same last name. It wasn’t until your wedding, when I saw Caleb that I started to dig around. When Eva was born, I wanted to check and see if she’d inherited the same traits – from what I understand, it’s always the first born. I honestly didn’t know enough to warrant scaring you off. You deserved some happiness and Connor worships the ground you walk on. I couldn’t take that away from you Rae.”
She gave a very unladylike grunt. “Apparently, Rebecca knows Caleb. She’s spoken to him. He says we’re soul mates and wants me to live with him and Andrei. He wants me to leave his brother and my children!” She knew she sounded hysterical, but she needed answers. There were too many people who knew way more than she did about her own life. It was beyond annoying.
“I would not advise that, Rae. Caleb was raised by Dillon Romajin and let’s just say, he was not a good role model. He was a mean, evil man and the world is a much better place without that wolf in it. Caleb was raised by that man since he was three. I can’t imagine the kind of damage that must have done to his psyche. His sense of right and wrong – of what is moral and what isn’t – was cultivated by Dillon. You must not allow that to be the lessons your son learns. Dillon believed that those with strength should be allowed to do what they want; take what they want and consequences be damned. I thought with Kaylynn and Jack there now, Caleb would have softened a little, but it seems Dillon rubbed off more than we hoped.”
“Is Kaylynn his wife?” If he already had someone, why would he go out of his way to bother her?
“No. Kaylynn is actually his and Connor’s distant cousin. He watches over her and her son. You’ve met the boy before.”
“I have? When?” She shook her head. Not relevant. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter. What do I do about Caleb?”
“Give me a couple of days and let me call a few people, do some research on this. In the meantime, try to contact Rebecca again. She might have the answers you need.”
“Thank you Brian.” She hung up the phone and hugged Andrei. They would find a way out of this. She was not going to lose her son.