It was late evening before she was released to go home. Isabel had wanted to go home with Largros, but her mother insisted otherwise. Now Isabel was lying in her own bed trying to sleep with no success. After a couple of hours, she gave up and headed downstairs for something to drink.
She hadn’t expected her dad to be having a restless night, too. Grabbing a glass of milk she moved to take a seat beside him, “I know why I’m up, but I doubt you have the same reason since I know mama is in a bed right now and that you should be with her. So what has ya up?”
“The webs we have woven,” Uscias grinned for his daughter and continued drinking the hot toddy he’d made for himself.
Resting her chin in her hand, Izzy looked at him as confused as she really was, “What web? You aren’t a spider, you’re a dragon and if mama thinks there are spiders she’ll freak. So dad, what web are you talking about?”
“Well, when you weave a tale and … or go along with it, it keeps growing from the center out like a spider web. It clings to things, catches other people up in it, and when even the tiniest piece of it breaks, the entire web shivers and everyone attached feels it. I believe, recently, that one of my webs took a huge hit and it may affect people I love more than I thought at first. I think maybe, after so long of weaving this web, it’s time to start dismantling it.”
Leaning to slip her free arm over her father’s shoulder, Izzy pulled him close until their foreheads touched, “Well I’m a firm believer that my daddy will never go down without me fighting by his side. Let’s take on the spider, then. Let me hear it? Tell me what we’re facing together this time?”
“Oh, you’re going to face it with me, are you? What if my web has caught you in it, little fly?” He chuckled and lifted his head to kiss the tip of her little nose.
Easing back she smiled for him and drank more milk, “Of course I’m helping you, your my dad and I love you. You are always protecting me, I am really pretty capable though the thing with Terry screams otherwise.” She stared at the glass again as a feeling of unease washed over her. Before she thought to hard on it, though, it was gone and she smiled at her dad again. “Let me help you.”
“I am your dad.” He smiled and took another drink.
Her brows drew together, “I just said that. Are you feeling okay?” she asked with a little feminine chuckle.
“No, Isabel… what I’m saying is, I’m your father. I helped make you. And you were made from love,” Uscias waited to let it sink in and to get the questions he was sure would follow.
It took her only a few moments to grasp what he meant. Isabel stared silently at her empty glass again for the next few minutes before saying anything.
“How’s that possible? I mean you’re a dragon and mom’s human so.. not possible. At least that’s what you’ve told us through the years.”
“It’s very possible. Why do you think I warned you to get that magical tattoo? I didn’t want you to enjoy yourself and come home with someone’s child before you were ready for it.”
Isabel stood up and paced as she chewed the nail of her thumb. Uscias or as his legal human name was Nathan – he looked up from his drink and watched her. This was what he had not been looking forward to.
“You started working here when I was a baby. My siblings say our father died.. You and mama weren’t a thing until I was a toddler. You were managing this place when John died.” She paused and looked at her true father, “Did he know? Does anyone know?”
“Your mother and John were estranged and she came through the portal to get away from everything. We met over there. There was an instant connection. But I couldn’t replace John and her children and her sense of family. I…I didn’t even know about all of it until we were already lovers. I hadn’t thought about her beliefs at the time. I was being selfish and she was having a crisis of identity … of… guilt… and she still loved John. So she came back. And even though we parted ways in anger and resentment, it only took a few days before I realized I loved her. So, I came through and re-established a human life. I found out as much as I could about her; her family and the ties to it. I began working with the lycan in Pack Weylyn for the first time in many, many years. And then when a job opened at the Matthews’ Farm I was there. I didn’t realize she was pregnant until she was already past her first three months. I guess… when she and I first got to speak since the other side, she was near on six months along. And boy did she have words for me. But I didn’t care. You needed me. John was a good man for the most part, more like Gabriel than me. So I agreed to manage the place for him, when he knew his treatment wasn’t working. He started pulling away more and more from all you kids, I think because he knew what was happening. But your mama and you kids, you needed help. I guess he just meant well. When you were born, I was the one ta catch you. As soon as you were breathing, you took energy from me and I knew for sure you were mine.”
“How could you lie to me all these years? Both of you? I thought that somehow I was bad because I didn’t miss John like my siblings did. I thought I was a horrible daughter for forgetting him. When the truth is he was never anything to me.” Her hand pressed against the top of the table as tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. “Why didn’t you tell me?” She’d been run through the mill. Mentally and physically she was tired and sore. Yet now her heart ached.
“Because he came back to you, Izzy. Your mama loved him. He was still your father by all those rights. I was the villain in this. I didn’t want any undue drama happening. So I was here to help, to support, to love – only as it was needed. Once John had passed, Rose needed time. You were too young to comprehend it. But the others needed time, too. It’s not that you’re a bad person for not feeling anything for him and forgetting him, baby, you were just a toddler. Most toddlers don’t remember much of anything from that age when they’re older, either. Don’t hold that to just our connection. That’s just natural.”
Right then Isabel looked every bit like her mother just a younger version as her lips pressed together in a thin line and she glared at him, “Stop avoiding the question. Why didn’t you tell me before now?”
“No, I’m not forgetting the question. Why didn’t I tell you?” He shook his head. “I was already your daddy, pumpkin. After a year or so, I was more to your mama than just support. I was helping her raise her kids, my kids…” He looked at the table and shook his head. “I guess I didn’t want to single you out and on the flipside, I didn’t want the others to think I was being partial to you. I love them all. You’re all my kids so far as I’m concerned. It was only this last situation you wound up in that… I realized you need to know what you are. You need to start learning, for your own good, and maybe even though you only had a few scales on the middle of your back when you were born to even hint you were half dragon – maybe you’ve got some energy in you that can help you.”
“Because I was taken.. You think if I’d known this before I was taken I could’ve stopped it.” It was more a statement then a question. Her head bowed and she took a breath. Isabel knew she could fight this out to the bitter end and they’d both feel miserable or she could try something else.
“I don’t know. I don’t know if it would’ve helped. But I know that if you had known and you do have some talent in you, you might’ve been able to call out to other dragons for help. And no matter which scenario runs through my head,” He fought his tears. He didn’t like to show that. He swallowed. “I regret not telling you, Izzy. I’m sorry.”
Moving from the table she walked to the man that had been with her through everything and had always loved her no matter what. “I’m upset and I’m hurt, but I love you dad.” Isabel wrapped her arms around him and just hugged him as her head rested against his chest.
“I love you, too, pumpkin.” He just held onto her for as long as she’d allow. He wasn’t sure what else he could say. At least not on what had just happened. “And it’s your right to be upset and hurt. I ain’t saying anything against that at all, baby. In trying to protect you from one thing, I denied you of another. I’m so sorry.” He prayed to the stars right then that whatever had happened on the other side would not affect her. Being dragon blooded meant many things. Sometimes, it meant magic didn’t always work on you the way people intended. He just hoped it wouldn’t make Mira’s magic be useless. If Izzy couldn’t handle the memories, maybe it was best if they were suppressed. But would her genetics allow that to continue?
“Do I have a lost twin or something?”
“No… I mean, I suppose how humans see the world through familial graces, you have several half-siblings. But dragons don’t generally look at things that way. I really need to teach you. Now that you know, maybe that dragon of yours can also help teach you some things.”
“How long is mama gonna stay miffed at Largros? She can’t keep him away forever.” She glanced his way and sighed. He looked like he was considering something, which meant, “Well is there more? Just come out tell me dad.”
“Yer mama’s gifted with insight, Izzy. But sometimes it’s not full on-target. It ain’t that she doesn’t like Largros, it’s that he did what he did and also she still thinks he’s hiding something or not saying something. But… see,” He sat back down and motioned for her to sit in front of him. “The way divination works is, sometimes you see things, but you’re not sure about how to understand what you feel and see. Your mama… I know pot calling the kettle black – and she’s gonna beat my ass for telling you before she was ready, but I’ll handle that… Your mama doesn’t want him to do you wrong. She can see there are things about him that he hides from people. She just doesn’t know what he’s hiding from you or what you’ve talked about between you and so… maybe he’s just hiding them from the rest of the world? Divination is rarely exact.”
“Okay, but we’ll talk it out just like you and I do. Dad, I love him and I just need him, if that makes sense.” Isabel smiled for him. Her mom had always been gifted so that wasn’t surprising. She felt that there was something more that meant in all this and her head tilted in a very Kennedy way right then.
“One thing, that’s very important for you to remember as you learn more about what you can and can’t do as a half-dragon,” He leaned in a bit closer to her and he made sure she was definitely paying attention. “Sometimes things that work on humans won’t work for us. Same goes for you. And sometimes, even things that are done or affect your human side? Things that may be permanent for a human? That dragon side of us will find a why through it, even if we’re not trying. Does that make sense? Because, I know it’s a general statement I’m making, but it’s pretty damned important to understand that, no matter what you get yourself into. Spellwork, or sports injury – same difference.”
“Dad.. you.. are beginning to freak me out just a little.” Isabel looked down and the back up at him. “Did I do something?” She just had this feeling that said she had and this was what he was talking about.
“No. Nothing but be a hero and help get Eva and her pups out of danger and put yourself into it,” Uscias chuckled. “It’s a lesson I want you to remember. It’ll make sense as you learn more about yourself. I promise.” It was true advice. It was true teaching. Besides, he didn’t want to push at the actual worry he had. Izzy might never remember anything and live her life to the fullest.
That made her smile and feel dread at the same time.
“Go to bed dad. I’m going to step out on the porch so Largros can come see me.”
“He held you for as long as we would let him. I thought he’d put up a fight at the clinic when ya mama told him, no… I appreciated him letting you come home with us and giving her just a moment to mother you. And I appreciate you doing that, too.” It was Nathan’s way of saying, he didn’t mind. He’d even given Largros a small totem to allow the dragon into his wards.
With one more smile and a kiss to her father’s cheek, Isabel walked out to the front porch and called out to her dragon mentally.
~ Hey handsome you going to sleep all evening or you going to come enjoy porch time with me? ~ She moved to the porch swing and took a seat to enjoy the evening air. She had no desire to look at the sky though, as odd as it sounded.
~ I thought I was banished to the nether reaches until breakfast. ~ Largros’ humor showed through just a bit.
The swing swayed as she laughed softly, ~ Mm that would be true except mama’s in bed asleep and I’m wide awake. Besides if she wakes up I’m assured daddy’ll keep her well occupied. ~
~ I have to extricate myself. So you can talk to me, but give me a moment. ~ he was happy to hear from her.
Her gaze moved around as she spoke mentally to him, ~ Oh yeah and just what are you extricating yourself from at this time of night Mr. Falias? ~ Isabel listened to the squeak of the chains of the swing as she moved it and her eyes closed a moment.
~ You said, last time I tried to tell you more about my life and my clique of dragons that… you weren’t ready for such talking. I respect your wishes. Unless… ~ Largros appeared on the porch in front of her in jogging pants and a tank shirt. “…unless that’s changed?” He smiled before walking the rest of the way to her, his head canted slightly. “I would love it if that’s changed. But it’s a lot, to be sure. And I won’t push.” He waited for her to show him where she wanted him to sit.
Isabel sat up so that he could sit where her head had been on the seat. She drew one knee up to wrap her arms around it as her chin set atop it. She was thinking over what he’d said. Once Largros took a seat beside her, Isabel turned her face towards him and her cheek rested on her knee, “By such talks you mean that you were with him don’t you.” Somehow she already knew the answer, but Isabel figured she’d give Largros a chance to answer.
“Him?” Largros thought about it, but the look on his face was one of passing confusion for a moment. “Oh, no… I can see why you thought that. But no.” He smiled and reached out to her to lovingly move her hair so he could look at her face better. “I have a feeling he’s got his hands full, because I don’t even feel him right now. Not that I’d be able to feel much from him, anyway.” He sighed. “Nobody wants to be kindred or connected to me. Guess I’m not that kind of dragon, eh?”
Isabel dropped her leg and moved into her boyfriend’s lap. “Don’t say that. It isn’t like that with me.” She brushed her hand over his cheek and stared at his lips a moment before looking up to hold gazes with him. “So tell me then, if it’s not that then where were you?”
“At a lair,” Largros replied easily enough. “Why? Want to be jealous of somebody?” He cradled her easily, one of his legs staying down so he could push the swing. “You shouldn’t be jealous of anybody, Isabel.” He enjoyed her presence in his life and there in that moment. His calm, tender expression showed that much.
“You say that like it’s such an easy thing. I mean I know I can’t scratch your itches in your true form, but I should be able to fill such wants and needs for you in this form. The fact that I can’t.. well it stings.” Isabel’s chin lifted as she held his gaze as she tossed back, “It’d be like me saying that you don’t fill all my needs. Wouldn’t that sting a bit? Or would you be perfectly fine with sharing me with others without being jealous?”
“It would depend on the others. If it were with others of your same sex, I would ask that I could watch, as that has always been something of an enjoyment for me. And seeing someone pleasure you like that? Well, let’s just say it’s hotter than cayenne?” He chuckled and moved his fingers over her bare shoulder. Below her, just the thought had stirred him. But he said nothing of it.
“I suppose, if he were male, I would be bothered. But maybe not so much that I would deny you. I would just want my time with you. I would not want him to take you away from me.” He kissed the side of her head.
“My point is I can’t help how I feel anymore than you can.” Her fingers moved into his hair as she played with it while the talked.
“I am only with Dante – as you call him – when our lives collide. And you know him, he is safe. He wants no claim on me over you, my dear. I have no others that I am interested in for such things. Do you think there are others?” Largros was wondering if that’s what she thought, or if Isabel was truly jealous of Angelus and if so… was it such that his relationship with the demon would cause trouble?
“Well I don’t know, you say you weren’t with Dante and yet say it’s something I don’t want to discuss. What else other than someone else would I not want to discuss? Were you with a dragoness?”
“And you would think that because…”
“I say a dragoness because you said you left a lair, not that you were leaving your lair.” Isabel wondered if maybe, just maybe she were wrong. Dropping her gaze Isabel rubbed her forehead and closed her eyes. “You don’t have to answer that.. maybe with everything that recently happened I’m just feeling insecure and.. and paranoid.”
“You are. I can affirm that,” he watched her face.
She gave just the softest hint of a laugh as she held his gaze again, “Who knows, maybe I’m going crazy. Have anything against being attached to a nutjob?” After everything that she and her dad had just discussed insanity seemed like a good possibility.
“No. I love this nutjob. And I love that she’s nutty. She fits with me. Sometimes, I take myself too serious.” He took a deep breath. “Ahhhh, my Isabel…” He shook his head. “Before all of this you and I had a falling out and a coming back together, remember?”
“And in my heart, I thought you were needing me to be more serious with you. So, I took you to my lair. And when you realized what I meant to do, you did not want to talk about it further. You did not want to be bonded to me. And so, here we are. I could not find you. I could not give you my strength to boost your own. I could not keep others from your mind. But… you have your freedom from the bond. And that is what you wanted.” His eyes were very serious, now. She needed to understand. “I will never share everything with you or with Dante so long as there is no bond in play. Not because I do not trust you or him, but because I do not trust what may happen to you or him… that could lead someone to places, things, and souls that I am responsible for. So, you have me. You have my heart. But that is all I can offer you.” He knew it would likely be something that made her angry, but it was the truth. And this latest set of circumstances proved his point. There was no telling what her captors found out from Isabel before they were forced to turn her over to the djinn.
Isabel stood up and tossed her hands up, “Well, you don’t have to worry about rescuing your poor human girlfriend. Because as I just found out I’m not fully human.” she moved to the stairs and started to step down only to shuffle quickly back as her heart raced a moment. Just as quickly as she looked on the verge of panic, Isabel calmed and looked confused instead.
“Is, are you okay?” Largros asked. She had been upset, obviously, but she seemed scared right in the middle of her rant.
“My…My dad is Uscias.”
“I know, he’s made it quite clear…” He put his other foot down so that he was sitting on the swing, elbows on knees facing her.
Rubbing her forehead as it was obvious Largros didn’t understand.. but then why would he, she had called Uscias dad or daddy her entire life! She shook her head and sighed as she stared at the steps going from the porch and tried to figure out what her fucking problem was, “No I mean he’s my actual biological dad..” Her gaze lifted to Largros, “He wants to teach me and see what I’m capable of so I won’t get snatched so easily again.”
“I won’t demand you tell all your secrets Largros, they are yours to keep. I just hope one day they won’t bite you in the ass like my dad and mom feel theirs did. He wonders if it could have been avoided if I had known and been able to at least call for help from other dragons around me.” She walked back to the swing and sat back down. Was she going crazy? For a minute there the thought flitted across her mind.
“That’s valid.” He looked aside at her. “I knew on the other side. He pushed energy into you. That’s not possible unless your bonded or a relation. And you’re not bonded to your own father. So that meant he was a relation. It made sense then. A lot of it. How he knew the djinn that had gotten you, how he was able to get good with the dragons in Iona and people weren’t bothering you. A lot of it made sense. Including why you’re resistant to bond with me.” Largros heard the sound of thunder and then the sound of rain moving over the fields toward them. He got up and walked down the stairs to be in the yard when it came to him. He looked back at her. “Want to dance in the rain with me?”
Izzy chewed her thumbnail as she looked at Largros and then looked out at the yard. She loved the rain.. and she even stepped to the edge where the steps started. It was here that she stopped as her stomach clenched tight. The girl that feared nothing looked nervous. She’d teased her cousin Gabriel with no fear of his retort or of the dragon’s ire that she may stir. She was known for teasing and pushing boundaries, yet she bit her lip and swallowed back the wash of terror that threatened as she took the first step. “I want to Largros.. I do but..”
“But what?” They’d done this a thousand times. It was something they both loved. It was something in a saying… a quote on a beautiful little painting… Don’t worry about the storms, learn to dance in the rain? Something like that. So they always danced in the rain. And she seemed to need that reminder.
She had made the mistake of looking up and when she saw the stars she quickly stepped back up on the porch. She shook her head and muttered to herself, “Get a grip.. don’t be stupid..” Isabel squeezed her eyes shut and rushed down the steps and across the ground to reach her dragon.
“Whoa!” Largros laughed as Izzy made it out to him just as the rain began to pour on them. “What’s wrong, beautiful love? Did you forget how to dance in the rain?”
Moving into his arms Isabel breathed him in and forcibly relaxed. With her face buried against his chest Isabel mumbled, “Bond with me…”
“What?” He held her tight and rocked with her in this summer rain.
“I said.. bond with me.” She had tipped her head to look up at him as her hands clutched the material of his shirt.
He stopped and pulled back to look into her eyes through the steady downpour. ~ Are you sure? You seemed so against it before. ~ He was completely serious. His eyes searched hers. ~ Will you be my kindred? Will you protect me and mine as I would always protect you and yours? You above all others and me above all others? ~ he put his hand on her cheek.
~ Yes Largros.. I will be your kindred and protect you and yours as you protect me and mine.~ She blinked and licked the rain from her lips, ~ You above all others and me above all others.~ Lifting onto her tiptoes she kissed him then.
“ISABEL ROSE MATTHEWS! What in the world! You are going to catch your death of a cold!” Rose’s voice rang out from the front porch.
Largros muttered mentally, ~ Busted. ~