The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Six - Part 6 (A)


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The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Six - Part 6 (A)

  1. 1. Welcome back to the Devereaux Legacy! First, please excuse the over-brightness of the first two or three slides. I found out that batchediting in Paintshop Pro is a crock and it brightened the pictures to where they almost look like a Saturday morning kids cartoon >.<Anyway, in the last chapter, Bella carried out her mission from Lillian to seduce Quinn (which really didnt take a lot of arm twisting onQuinns part). She also gave Quinn a list of story links where Rhys is shown in the worst possible light. Seeing as Quinn was alreadyupset with Rhys when his father forbade him to be engaged to Bella...well all that information just made things worse.Erin feels strangely drawn to Puck, but she doesnt know why yet. Puck, on the other hand, obviously does but hes avoiding his fate forthe time being because he feels guilty over his choice, his choice which he thinks led to his fathers banishment to the Punished Realm.Thats pretty much the main highlights of what happened in the last chapter. If you are a new reader, I really, really suggest you at leaststart at the beginning of Chapter 6 because otherwise none of this will make sense. For everyone else, I hope you enjoy!~*~*~
  2. 2. The summer after graduation was filled with a flurry of weddings.
  3. 3. And, of course, a flurry of "other things" as well, most notably bringing in the next generation.
  4. 4. Unfortunately, while everyone else in Pleasantview seemed to be happy, 100 Legacy Lane, the Devereaux house, was filled withtension.
  5. 5. Shortly after graduation, Quinn moved in his fiancée, Bella Goth. When Eden tried to gently say something about perhaps waiting untilit was a bit closer to the wedding, Quinn threw in her face that she and Rhys had always stressed that they always said that he couldhave a live-in lover.
  6. 6. And so Bella moved in, and she didnt waste any time making digs towards Eden about her age and reminding everyone that shes youngand fertile and that she would be the mother of the next generation.
  7. 7. Bella moving in made things around the house a whole lot more tense. Quinn hovered over Bella whenever Rhys was around, and evenwhen Bella wasnt present, Quinn could be found glaring at Rhys.That made things rather difficult as he worked at the stores with his father.
  8. 8. To be fair to Rhys, he did try to find out, on multiple occasions, what was wrong with Quinn, but his attempts were constantly shotdown.Needless to say, this usually put Rhys in a foul mood, which led to Rhys and Eden bickering, and downright fighting, far more often.
  9. 9. Unfortunately, the results of the more frequent fighting led to hurt feelings lasting longer and amends even longer in coming.
  10. 10. Erin, for her part, managed to avoid a lot of the tension at home due to the fact that she did everything she could to be out of the house.Between her new job as an intern at the Pleasantview courthouse and socializing with her friends, she was a busy girl.
  11. 11. Of course, when it came to socializing with her friends, she found herself in Pucks company more and more as the days went by. Notthat either of them minded.
  12. 12. She did do what she could to help with her brothers wedding preparations, which is why she, Eden, and Bella were at the weddingboutique picking out new dresses for Eden and Erin to wear...
  13. 13. Erin clapped her hands as Eden stepped out of the dressing room wearing one of the many red dresses she had selected for Quinnswedding. "I think I like that one best."Eden smiled. "Youve said that about every dress Ive tried on."
  14. 14. The red head laughed. "And I mean it. Im jealous. As a red head, Im banned from wearing red and pink. It is my curse."Eden rolled her eyes with a smile. "Okay, Anne Shirley, dont let your father hear you talking like that." She turned back to the mirror. "Ireally do like this dress. Maybe--" she was cut off by Bella making a sound in her throat. She turned to her future daughter-in-law. "Ofcourse, seeing as it is your wedding, you get the final say on everything. So, what do you think of this dress?"
  15. 15. Bella slowly looked Eden up and down before saying, "Oh, well, I do think it is a very nice dress and I think that youre so incrediblybrave to wear such a bold color."Eden raised her eyebrows. "Brave?""Oh, yes, you see, whenever I see a woman your age wearing such a striking color, it always looks so desperate. Like its a woman whorefuses to age gracefully and so they attempt to cling to their youth in such an undignified manner. But..." she looked at Eden up anddown again and smiled sweetly. "Well, of course you seem to pull it off."Eden unconsciously ran her hand over her glossy black locks, thankful that she had just had her hair dyed recently.
  16. 16. "What the--" Erin began to say but Eden made a slight gesture with her hand to cut her daughter off before nodding her head slightly atBella."You know something? I believe you are right. Red is a very bold color to wear and it probably isnt appropriate to wear to someoneelses wedding. It is about the newly married couple and I wouldnt want to be the person who takes attention away from them. It istheir day after all." She turned to the mirror and plucked at the skirt. "I like this style, though. Maybe a different color would suffice."
  17. 17. "Blue would bring out your eyes," Erin said. Her lips were pressed into a line when Eden glanced at her in the reflection of the mirror."Green," Eden said decisively. "For years your father has been coordinating with me by wearing a red tie to go with my red dress. But healways looks good in green. Maybe I should coordinate with him."
  18. 18. "No matter what age he is, Rhys will always look good in green," Bella gushed. "I dont know who else can look as good as him in thatcolor!""Uh, there is Quinn of course. You know, my brother? The one youre going to marry?" Erin said slowly.
  19. 19. Bella faltered for a moment before smiling widely. "Well of course he does," she said cheerfully. "That just goes without saying!"
  20. 20. Erin and Eden exchanged another look in the mirror but didnt say anything else on the matter.~*~*~
  21. 21. Eden wiped the tears from her eyes as she stared at the hateful green dress in the mirror. She had never thought of herself as old.Granted, elder hood was still a couple of years off, but her twenties were long gone. She had thought that she was aging well, but theremark that Bella had made about women Edens age looking desperate by wearing bold and bright colors struck a chord with her.Oh, she knew that Bella was only saying that to make Eden look bad. Eden was a very perceptive woman and her perceptiveness was abig reason why she and Rhys got along so well and why they had been, for the most part, happily married for over two decades. If shewould have been a more high strung person she probably wouldnt have been so lucky. But she wasnt, which is why Eden knew not topress certain issues no matter how nice it would be to hear certain things from time to time.
  22. 22. But Edens perceptions about Bella were more troublesome. She knew what Bella was trying to do, and she didnt appreciate it. Shedidnt appreciate that the woman was trying, in a very pathetic attempt of course, to steal Rhys away from her. She wasnt worried, notat all. Even without Rhys earnest declaration of "I wouldnt fuck Bella with a stolen dick," she knew it wouldn’t work. She trusted Rhys,and she knew he appreciated her trust and would do whatever he could to maintain it. Having someone trust him was still something ofa surprise to him, even after all these years.The troublesome thing was Quinn and his feelings. Quinn refused to talk to her, or Rhys, about the "Bella Issue" (as she and Rhysprivately referred to it). Quinns animosity wasnt subtle and that was adding more stress upon an already stressful situation. All Edenwanted was to have a peaceful household where everyone got along and loved each other. And they had that for a while, especiallyafter her mother died.
  23. 23. But now Bella was threatening to be even worse than Mary. Worse because it wasnt just her and Rhys she she was attempting to harm,but Quinn as well. And there was nothing Eden could do about it, not while Quinn was acting the way he was. And so, Eden did whatshe could to maintain the peace, but she found herself breaking down in private tears more often. Especially when Bella said and didwhat she could to make Eden feel like garbage.
  24. 24. The sound of the front door slamming and heavy footsteps stomping up the stairs caused Eden to run into the bathroom and wash thetears from her face. She took a few deep, calming breaths as she heard Rhys stomp into their bedroom and slam the door."Ede? Are you in there?" he called out.
  25. 25. "Yeah, just give me a second," she called back. She took one final glance in the mirror, regretfully realizing that she didnt have any timeto reapply her makeup. She bit her lips in an attempt to bring color to them and she walked back into the bedroom.
  26. 26. Rhys was leaning against the door with a fierce glare. "If that woman dies in a fire tomorrow, I swear I will be the happiest man on theface of the planet. I actually got Quinn to say more than three words to me at the store today, and then she comes in, makes fuckinggoogly eyes at me, which caused him to start slamming everything around and leaving early. I swear, shes worse than your mother everwas and let me tell you, I danced a pretty jig on her grave when she kicked it.""Rhys..." she said gently."Yeah, yeah, okay, whatever, sorry," he said waving off her chiding tone. "You know what I mean though. And the worst part about allof it is that shes going to outlive me. I have to deal with her for the rest of my life and it pisses me off."
  27. 27. Eden sighed. "If she died tomorrow, you would be sad for Quinn.""It would only be for show. I really, truly mean that. Gah! I just know she said or did something that gave Quinn his fucking attitudetowards me. I just wish I knew what it was.""We both know what it probably was.""Well, if he would just let me explain--" his words cut off as he noticed what she wearing. "Whats up with the dress?"
  28. 28. She looked down and plucked the skirt. "This...this is the dress Im wearing to the wedding.""Ugh, dont remind me of that. Why is it green and not red? You always wear red."She shrugged. "Change of pace. You have that nice green vest and tie, I figured it would be a shame to waste it."
  29. 29. She looked away from him as he held her arms and looked at her face. "Youve been crying," he stated."No I havent," she protested feebly.He rolled his eyes with a disgusted sigh. "Yeah, okay, whatever. Fine. Dont tell me. Thatll just be two people in the house who donttalk to me. Whatever. I dont care." He flopped down onto their bed.
  30. 30. Eden stood next to the bed and sighed. "I was just feeling a little old is all. I was realizing that were probably going to be grandparentssoon and..." she trailed off with a weak laugh. "Well, I actually had this strange wish to have more kids and realized that wasnt going tohappen." She shrugged. He made a noncommittal sound and she plucked at her skirt again. "Rhys, do you wish we would have hadmore kids?" she asked hesitantly. Talking about kids, and the act that creates them, usually perked him up.
  31. 31. "Why are we even discussing this? We cant have more kids even if I wanted them, so theres no point in wishing that I could have tenkids and twenty grandkids. I have bigger things to worry about than past disappointments that I cant change," he responded peevishly.
  32. 32. She jerked her head back as if she had been slapped. She swallowed heavily and she willed the tears not to fall from her eyes. "Well,"she said, her voice cracking. She cleared her throat and began again. "Well Im so sorry that your life has been such a disappointmentfor you here, Rhys." She spun on her heel and marched to the bathroom, locking the door behind her.
  33. 33. "Oh what-fucking-ever, Eden. Thats not what I meant and you know it," he said from the other side of the door.When she didnt respond, she heard him stomp away and slam the bedroom door behind him.
  34. 34. They didnt talk to each other again until the next morning.~*~*~
  35. 35. Cassandra knocked on the door hesitantly. She had debated long and hard whether or not to come to the Devereauxs house. She wasconvinced that it was they who had persuaded Bella not to invite her to the wedding. After all, Alexander had been invited, why hadntshe been?Of course, she could have just as easily called the house, but she was also rather curious to see what the place looked like inside.
  36. 36. She grew irritated and knocked again, surprised that nobody had answered the door yet. She thought the house would have beenteeming with servants, or at the very least a butler. When still no one answered the door, she gave a vexed sigh, convinced that theyknew she was standing on their porch and were just avoiding answering it. She knew they were the type. Hadnt Alexander always saidthings like that about them?
  37. 37. As she was about to leave in a huff, she saw, through the windows, someone walking around in the back of the house. Determined togive the person a piece of her mind, Cassandra stomped her way to the backyard.
  38. 38. When she got there, all she saw was the gardener digging around in the dirt and playing with the flowers. She watched her for a bit andrealized that the gardener wasnt doing anything particularly useful with the flowers and she spent more time sniffing the blossoms anddigging around in the dirt some more.
  39. 39. "Im assuming that nobody is home then?" Cassandra asked the woman. "Ive been pounding on the door for quite some time."The gardener gave a start and jumped swiftly to her feet, a guilty look flashing across her face. It was then that Cassandra realized itwasnt the gardener at all, but a rather dirty and unglamorous looking Eden Devereaux.
  40. 40. "Oh, Im so sorry," Eden said. "Ive been back here all afternoon. I didnt hear you knock." She gave Cassandra a friendly and hopefulsmile. "Cassandra Goth, right? Its very nice to actually meet you." She held out her hand to shake Cassandras but immediatelywithdrew it and hid her hands behind her back, the guilty look appearing on her face again. "Sorry, my hands are kind of dirty.""Is my mother here?" Cassandra asked abruptly.Eden shook her head apologetically. "No shes not," she said as she habitually adjusted her glasses. It explained the smudge of dirt onthe movie stars face. "She should be back soon though. Youre more than welcome to stay and chat if you would like. Just, uh, just letme finish something real quick and then I’ll make us some tea."
  41. 41. Eden knelt down and smoothed out the dirt in the flower bed. Cassandra watched in confusion and asked, "Dont you have a gardeneror something?"Eden laughed slightly. "Yes, but he only comes once every three days. Of course hes the one who is responsible for how nice the placelooks. I just..." she trailed off with a shrug." just like playing in the dirt?""Well, that makes me sound childish. But I will admit that I find it soothing to putter around with the flowers, even if I am just movingaround piles of dirt," she said with a grin.
  42. 42. Cassandra couldnt help but grin back. She found Edens candor refreshing. Then she remembered that this was not just anyDevereaux, but the head of the entire Devereaux family and she schooled her face back to neutrality. Shes probably the one whomade sure I wasnt invited to my own mothers wedding, she thought vehemently.
  43. 43. A few minutes later, Cassandra was in the kitchen as Eden served the two of them tea, biscuits, and preserves . Unable to restrainherself, Cassandra asked, "I thought you had maids and butlers and stuff. Why are you doing all of this?"Eden let out a very undignified snort. "Do you want the truth? I always tell magazines and stuff that I value my privacy so thats why wedont have much hired help other than the gardener. And thats actually true. But the real reason why we dont have them is becausemy husband and children are, and I use this term lovingly, neat freaks. The butler that we did have quit in frustration after he had walkedin on Erin, Quinn, and Rhys all crammed in the bathroom fighting over whose turn it was to clean the toilet."
  44. 44. Cassandra smiled and for a moment wished that she could be friends with the other woman; she didnt have any friends outside of herfamily. She gave an inward, reluctant sigh. "Ms. Devereaux--""Please, call me Eden."Cassandra dismissed Edens interruption. "I would like to know why you and your family insisted on not inviting me to my motherswedding. You invited my brother and his wife, why didnt you invite me? Why have I not been included in any of the weddingpreparations? Shes my mother. And I know that she doesnt remember who I am or anything like that, but I really would have liked toget to know her again."
  45. 45. Eden looked surprised. "You werent invited?""No I wasnt."Eden sighed. "Im sorry, Cassandra. Im not in control of the guest list, Bella is. I..Im sure it was an oversight. She should be home withQuinn in a bit. Maybe you can ask her then?"Cassandras face fell. "Every time I try to talk to her, she gives me this blank look. You dont know what its like to have your parent rightthere and have them not recognize you."
  46. 46. She looked down in surprise as Eden placed her hand on her arm in a comforting manner. When she looked up, she saw that Edensface looked both sad and sympathetic. "Actually, yeah I do," she said quietly. "I know the feeling very well."
  47. 47. Before Cassandra could respond, there was a commotion at the backdoor and Rhys Fitzhugh strode into the kitchen. He threw his armswide and called out in loud, boisterous voice, "Honeeeeey, Im hooome!" And then he grabbed Eden around the waist and dipped herdown for a kiss.
  48. 48. "Ah, I see youve been gardening again," he said in a teasing tone when he released her. "What has that woman done now?""Rhys..." Eden said as she glanced at Cassandra.
  49. 49. Cassandra had remained tactfully silent during the outward display of affection, but when Rhys looked at her blandly, she clenched herjaw. "I was asking why I wasnt invited to my mothers wedding," she said.
  50. 50. He slung his arm over Edens shoulder. "We have had absolutely no say so in their wedding plans even though we are the ones who arepaying for everything. Cant get married here, oh no! Its not good enough, gotta have the huge reception hall and the gigantic guestlist. So instead of harassing my wife--""She wasnt harassing me, Rhys," Eden interrupted gently, but he carried on."--maybe you should ask our sons fiancée." He didnt notice that Quinn and Bella had entered into the kitchen behind him and hadheard Rhys rant.
  51. 51. "Ask my fiancée what?" Quinn asked. "And why shouldnt she want to have a nice wedding. And its my wedding, too. Dont I deservesomething nice once in a while?""What is that supposed to mean?" Rhys shot back.Quinn glared at Rhys but before he could retort, Bella gave Cassandra a disgusted look. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
  52. 52. Cassandra fidgeted with her hands nervously as all eyes turned towards her. "I was told that you are in charge of the invitations to yourwedding and I--""And she came over and we cleared up a misunderstanding," Eden said smoothly as she moved to stand next to her. "There was anoversight, but we made sure that she is indeed invited. You invited Alexander after all.""Alexander Goth?" Bella asked with her eyes wide. "But of course I invited him; hes the mayor. Im sorry, are you his assistant orsomething? Either way, Im sorry. But the seating arrangements have already been figured out and there isnt any more room."
  53. 53. Cassandra felt her throat tighten. "Alexander is my brother, remember? Youre our mother."Bellas face crumpled. "Why does everyone insist that I have children when Im not old enough? Do I look that old? Am I so old andworn out and frumpy looking? How positively awful that I should be confronted with this sort of thing right before my wedding!"
  54. 54. She turned towards Rhys in an attempt to cry on his shoulder and Cassandra noticed that Rhys visibly cringed away from her and took astep back. Quinn glared at him and gathered her mother into his arms.
  55. 55. "Come on, Bell," he said gently. "Youre tired from shopping and dealing with all the wedding preparations. Lets go lay down."As the younger red haired man led a sniffling Bella out of the kitchen, Rhys made a disgusted sound and stormed outside, leavingCassandra and Eden alone once again.
  56. 56. Eden sighed softly and turned to the other woman. "Theres plenty of room at the reception hall, Cassandra, you can sit with us if youwould like," she said with a smile."No, it would be wrong. If there is no room--""Nonsense. The number of place settings we paid for is greater than the amount of people who are showing up. Theres plenty of roomfor one more.""That..thats awfully kind of you, but now that I think about it, it probably wouldnt be right for me to go. I havent a thing to wear, no hairappointment, and I especially dont have a date. I..okay Ill be honest. I came here angry and I was going to demand an invitationbecause I thought it was your fault I wasnt invited. I wasnt planning on showing up or anything, I just felt that it was my right. That..thatjust seems really silly now. Im sorry."
  57. 57. "Why are you apologizing? You do have every right to be there." Eden looked her up and down with a contemplative look, which madeCassandra feel uncomfortable. "You know what? Youre about my size," Eden said. "You can borrow one of my dresses because I havea ton of them that I can never wear again because Im too old to wear such a bold color. But I think you would look really nice. Andas for a hairstylist? Well, let me tell you about my very good friend Achilles who, if I recall correctly, is also in need of a date for thewedding..."
  58. 58. Cassandra grinned happily as Eden threaded her arm through hers and led her upstairs.~*~*~
  59. 59. The day before her brothers wedding, Erin found herself at Pucks apartment. The two of them had spent a companionable afternoontogether, but the more she talked about the upcoming wedding, the more irritated she became."I feel like such a failure at this entire legacy heir business.""Why is that?" Puck asked as he idly perused the internet. "You have the drive and determination to do what it takes to see your familysucceed.""Well, except for the getting married and or having a kid part.""The entire thing sounds so archaic."
  60. 60. "It is," she agreed. "Well, except for the and or have a kid part. I think thats an addendum that my parents added because they dontwant to force us into unhappy marriages. But either way, my parents are still insisting that I dont step down from being an heir quiteyet.""Well thats a good thing, right?""I suppose, except for the fact that I feel like Im drifting.""What do you mean by that?""Well, like, I feel like Im supposed to be with someone, but because Im not, I feel sort of out of balance. It sounds so weird to say that,like Im all dependent upon some guy. But its like everyone Ive been with feels sort of off. Not right. Do you know what I mean?"
  61. 61. A brief look of guilt flashed across his face. He cleared his throat and asked, "Nobody felt right?""No. No one! I was told, by my mother, that when I found the person Im supposed to be with that it would feel right. Like a good fit.And I thought I found someone like that, once, a long time ago, but at this point I think it was only my imagination. Ugh! And now Imstarting to sound like one of those sappy women in a romance novel. A badly written one at that! Its incredibly frustrating, especiallywhen theres someone that really like, but I dont know if he likes me back." She gave him a pointed look, which he didnt seem tonotice.The two of them were silent for a bit, the only sound was the clicking from Pucks mouse. Finally Erin heaved a huge sigh. "Puck, werefriends, right?""Id like to think so, yes," he responded hesitantly.
  62. 62. "Okay, then as my friend, can you do me a huge, huge favor?"He looked over at her warily. "Whats that?""Oh my God, you look like Im asking you to be my baby daddy or something! Of which Im not, unless of course you would like thatbecause then I think we might be able to work something out--""My God, Erin!"
  63. 63. She moved to a kneeling position and continued on as if she hadnt heard his protest. "Anyway, the huge favor Im asking you is can youplease come with me to my brothers wedding? I know you hate going to huge social functions, which is why I didnt ask you before,but my usual standby, Matt, who was always cool about doing these sort of things with me, is know who hes with.""Hes with Christina. You can say it. It doesnt bother me because I want her to be happy.""Okay, good. But I just cant be the only person there who doesnt have a date. Weddings are depressing enough, this one especially!Im asking you, as one of my best good friends, to please come with me so I have someone to talk to. Please?"
  64. 64. He glanced at his work calendar, blinked, and laughed ruefully. "You know, I originally had to work tomorrow. But now I remember thatsomeone asked to switch days with me and now I have both tomorrow and the day after off." He shook his head and chuckled again."Fate works in mysterious ways," Erin said with a nod."No, not that mysterious. Fate is being very obvious about what she wants right now.""What?"
  65. 65. "Nothing." He sighed and looked at her with a smile. "Yes, Erin, I will accompany you to your brothers wedding as long as I dont haveto do the chicken dance or anything like that."
  66. 66. She squealed with delight and planted a kiss on his cheek. "Oh thank you thank you thank you thank you! Youre the best, Puck!"He ducked his head shyly, but he couldnt hide his pleased expression.~*~*~
  67. 67. The day of the wedding Puck found himself standing in front of Erins house fidgeting nervously with his fingers. He was half tempted tohail the taxi that had just dropped him off but he fought against it. Part of him was glad that he was going to this wedding with her, butanother part felt a twist of guilt in his stomach. If only Papa would have told me, he thought, maybe we could have figured somethingout.He heaved a sigh and squared his shoulders. Its only a wedding. Its not a date, he told himself firmly. He pushed his guilt to the side,determined to think about it later, and walked up to the front door.
  68. 68. Before he could knock on it, the door was thrown open and a red haired man, who Puck assumed to be Erins father, stood before himwith a scowl."Who the hell are you?" the man asked gruffly.Puck swallowed. "Uh, I, um," he stammered and looked down at his feet. Because he did so, he didnt notice the other mans lips twitchin amusement."Well whatever it is youre selling, we dont want any."He was about to protest when he heard Erins voice call out, "Dad! I told you not to tease him! Leave him alone!"
  69. 69. The man turned and shouted up the stairs, "Well maybe if you and your mother were done getting ready, I wouldnt be left to my owndevices. Idle hands and all that." He stood back and allowed Puck to come inside. As Puck walked passed him, the man whispered,"Im watching you."Puck chuckled nervously but he saw that Erins fathers face looked very serious.
  70. 70. Thankfully both Erin and Eden came out of one of the upstairs rooms and appeared at the top of the stairs.Puck felt his eyes drawn to Erins long legs as they disappeared up into her short skirt. He suddenly realized that he knew exactly, indetail, what her dress was covering. He also became acutely aware that that wasnt really a revelation he should be having whilestanding next to Erins father. Before he could stop himself, the word, "Wow," exhaled out of his mouth.
  71. 71. "Yeah," the other man said. Puck looked over at him and saw that he was staring at his wife with a fond half smile.
  72. 72. The brief moment of camaraderie between the two men passed when Erin said, "Damn, Puck, when did you get so hot?"Erins father looked at him with a smirk. "Yes, Puck, please do tell. When did you get so hot?" Puck hung his head with a sigh.
  73. 73. "Rhys..." Erins mother said as she stepped into her husbands arms."What?""You know what." She turned to Puck and gave him a warm smile. "Puck, its nice to see you again. I see youve grown up very well.""Thank you, Ms. Devereaux, its nice to see you again, too," he responded politely, very aware that Erin had threaded her arm throughhis.Eden waved her hand. "Please, just call me Eden. And this is my husband, Rhys Fitzhugh, and Im sure hes properly introduced himselfto you, yes?"Puck glanced at Rhys and said, "Its nice to meet you, Mr. Fitzhugh."
  74. 74. With another smirk, Rhys responded with, "Its nice to meet you too, Puck. You can call me Mr. Fitzhugh.""Oh my God, Dad! Stop! Youre not funny," Erin protested, her arm tightening around Pucks.
  75. 75. Rhys began laughing. "Yes I am. Im friggin hilarious. You just dont appreciate my sense of humor." All laughter suddenly disappearedand he said, "But Puck does, dont you, Puck? By the way, would you like to see my gun collection? I have a lot and I like to clean them.Often.""Okay, Dad, enough. We have to get going! Because if we dont, I know youre just going to do this all day." Erin began to pull Pucktowards the door."Youll understand when you have kids someday. Are you planning on having kids, Puck? Are you planning on impregnating mydaughter?""The limos here, Dad. Lets go!"
  76. 76. As Puck walked out the door with Erin, he heard Eden whisper, "Why do you tell boys that you have a gun collection? You know youdont.""Yeah, but they dont know that!" Rhys said with a laugh."Is you dad always like this?" he whispered to Erin."Only with guys he thinks I like," she said as she slipped her hand into his."Oh..."
  77. 77. As they walked towards the waiting limousine, he heard Rhys saying, "Erins got a boyfriend. Erins got a boyfriend," in a sing song voice.He had a feeling that it was going to be a long and uncomfortable day.But he also didnt let go of Erins hand.~*~*~
  78. 78. "Wait, so youre saying that the dimension, mini-verse or whatever you call it, the place you came from, youre saying that Im a manthere?""A good looking man if it helps any.""I..I dont know how I feel about that."
  79. 79. "Are you going to be okay?""Yeah, Ill be fine.""I really wish we could tell people.""Just a couple more weeks and then we can, I promise."
  80. 80. "Well you want to know what the worst part about playing Edmund Cummings was? I was actually a real and for true vampire while Iwas filming the movie, but it was determined that I didnt look realistic enough, so they liberally applied glitter all over me. After theseries was complete, I was forced to take the Vamprocillin-D potion because the rest of the real vampires thought I was a disgrace totheir kind, like the dumb ass glitter was my fault or something."
  81. 81. "You know, I never noticed this before but Alexander looks an awful lot like my Dad.""Oh man, Ede, lets not even joke about that ass being related to you more than he already is. Bella is his mother, which makes Quinnhis step-father, so Alexander would be like a step-grandson or something about that. I would rather think of far more pleasant things.""Oh? Like what?""Well, like the empty coat check area and the fact that I could have sworn I saw you putting on thigh high stockings earlier..."
  82. 82. "So...this isnt going to be all weird or anything like that, is it?""Nope. Chris and I are happy together, much like Im sure you and Puck are happy together.""Um...we arent together.""Oh. Well this is awkward..."
  83. 83. …Fun times were had by all at the reception. And if there were people who were not happy by the thought of Quinn and Bella gettingmarried...
  84. 84. They had the decency to either pretend to be happy for the sake of appearance...
  85. 85. Or at the very least, they kept their grumblings and glares to a minimum.
  86. 86. After the dinner, toasts, cake cutting, and first dance of the bride and groom, Spencer, who had designated himself as the unofficialemcee of the event, grabbed the microphone and said, "Alright ladies, you know what time it is. Can we get the lovely bride out herefor so she can toss the bouquet?"All the single women let out playful cheers as hey rushed out to the dance floor.
  87. 87. Erin went out on to the floor good naturedly. She wasnt terribly anxious to go for the bouquet, but tradition was tradition and she was,after all, a single female.She gave a wry grin to no one in particular as Bella shut her eyes, spun around, and tossed the flowers over her shoulder.A moment later, Erin was quite surprised the the flowers had landed directly in her hands without her even reaching for them. Sheshrugged it off with a smile as the other women gave her a few playful hisses.
  88. 88. As she walked back towards Puck, she noticed a peculiar expression on his face that she didnt understand. "Well, it looks like Im goingto be the next person who gets married. Now all I need is a guy who wants to marry me and Ill be set."Before he could respond, they heard Spencers voice calling for all the guys to come out onto the dance floor for the garter toss. Puckgave Erin a panicked look. She rolled her eyes and gave him a nudge. "Itll only be for a second. I had to go out there, so you do too.Hey," she said in a teasing voice, "maybe youll get lucky. Most of the single guys out there are my mothers ex-boyfriends, who I doubtwill fight very hard to get the garter seeing as it would mean that theyd be hooked up with her daughter.""Wait, what?""Nothing. Never mind. Just go!"
  89. 89. Puck looked incredibly unenthusiastic as he stood behind all the other men who were waiting for Quinn to toss Bellas garter belt.When it was thrown, Erin watched it sail through the air. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, it seemed to shift in midair and it landeddirectly upon Puck, who was one of the only people in the room not watching it. As all the men pounded him on his back in acongratulatory manner, Erin could have sworn that she saw his lips move, forming the words, "I knew it." However, when she walkedtowards him with a grin, he returned it and held out his hand to begin their dance as the next bride and groom.
  90. 90. "Well there, now that wasnt so bad, now was it?" Erin teased after they had danced for a bit. "And you even got to dance with your dateand not someone you barely know. Like I said before, Fate works in mysterious ways."Puck gave her a skeptical look. "And like I said before, its not terribly mysterious. Fate is being very obvious about what she wants.""You act like you know her personally."He gave a nervous laugh. "Maybe I do.""Oh really?"
  91. 91. Suddenly he dipped her down for a kiss. "Yeah, I do," he said huskily. He then abruptly stepped away from her and off the dance floor.
  92. 92. Erin was convinced that people were looking at her as she watched Puck weave through the tables and out of the ballroom. Sheabsentmindedly touched her lips as she watched him go through the door, then, avoiding the gaze of other people, she followed him.
  93. 93. When she entered the lobby, she saw him sitting on one of the couches, his head in his hands. "Thats twice!" she said as she placed ahand on her hip.
  94. 94. "Whats twice?" he asked, looking up at her."Thats two times now that youve surprised me with a kiss!"
  95. 95. "I didnt know you were keeping count," he muttered. He stood up and walked towards the door."Well, yeah, I am, and whats worse is that both times I never got a chance to actually kiss you back! So its not like either of them countas a real kiss."
  96. 96. Puck turned around shyly. "You..uh..""Yes, I actually want to kiss you back," she challenged. "I like you, okay? I have for a while. I think we would be good together and Illadmit that I was a little bit jealous of your girlfriend. But were both single and were already friends, so we know that were good in thatdepartment. I am more than curious to see what were like at the next level. Arent you?"
  97. 97. In two steps, his lips were upon hers and as she kissed him back, that click, that feeling of rightness, went through her stomach.
  98. 98. The next thing she knew, she was leaning against the fish tank running her hands up his chest and through his hair. When their lipsparted, she whispered, "Come home with me. Or hell, we can get a room here. Theres a whole floor reserved for the guests. We--"
  99. 99. A panicked and guilty look crossed his features and he pulled away from her. He took a deep breath and whispered, "No. I cant.""What? Why not? Okay, maybe--"
  100. 100. "No, Im sorry. I cant," he said again as he turned away from her and walked out.She stomped her foot in frustration. "Why not?" she called as the door shut behind him.~*~*~
  101. 101. Puck breathed the brisk fall air with a shaky breath and he walked to the curb, hoping to catch a cab back to his apartment. However,despite the fact that it was a Saturday and it wasnt even midnight yet, there wasnt a cab to be found. He waited a few moments, halfhoping that Erin would come out, but at the same time he was dreading her to come out. He knew if he saw her again that his resolvewould break.He was also at the point where he wasnt sure why he had such resolve to stay away from her.
  102. 102. He sighed again, realizing that he wasnt going to find any sort of transportation, so he began walking. His apartment was only a mile orso away. He thought that the walk might be able to clear his head a bit.
  103. 103. As he walked down the road, there was a rumble of thunder. He cast a glance up at the sky, jutted his jaw forward and continuedwalking.
  104. 104. The sky suddenly opened up and rain started to pour down. He stopped in his tracks and shouted up at the sky, "I thought I had freewill!"The only response he received was a bolt of lightning touching ground near him. He began to walk faster.
  105. 105. He was outright running by the time the hail began to fall heavily down upon him.
  106. 106. By the time he reached his apartment, he was completely drenched. As he stepped inside, he flicked the water that was dripping fromhis sodden hair off of his face. Before he could even think to change out of his wet clothes, he was confronted with a couple of visitorswho, of course, didnt need to pay attention to the locks he had on his door."Ugh, yeah, it figures youd be here," he said somewhat irritably.
  107. 107. "Im so sorry, Puck," the woman sitting on his counter said contritely. "I owed your mother a favor from a super long time ago. Ihonestly thought she was going to ask for something more than just a simple thunderstorm.""Its okay, Gaia," he said as he eyed his other visitor who had yet to acknowledge his presence. He sighed and turned on the lamp nextto him.
  108. 108. "Okay, well, then Im going to go back home. I just wanted to let you know again that Im really sorry. I didnt know that they weregoing to use me to force your hand in something. I hope your clothes arent ruined.""They arent ruined," Atropos said serenely. "And you arent forcing his hand."Gaia looked at the older man, then glanced at Puck. She shrugged and disappeared, leaving the two men alone.
  109. 109. Atropos stood up and smiled. "You think youre being difficult," he said."I think Im being difficult?""Yes. You think. You arent being difficult. Youre being predictable. But we are curious as to why you would want to deny your ownhappiness."
  110. 110. "But I did defy you. I didnt hook up with Erin. I dated Christina instead despite all the ways you were throwing Erin at me.""You are wrong. We planned for you to date Christina. How else would she have met Matthew Grunt if not while on a double datewith him and Erin, hm?"
  111. 111. Puck rubbed his forehead. "I really wish you guys would butt out and let me live my life.""So then live your life, child."
  112. 112. "Oh my God. You know what will make everything so much easier? You guys just telling me everything so then Id know what kind ofthings I can expect!""You know we cant. Life would cease to be an adventure if you knew everything. Not to mention that it would be a rather horrible fateto know--""But I already know it!""To a point--" Atropos cut in."--And whats worse, the path that I chose ended up causing my fathers banishment to the Punished Realm!"
  113. 113. The old man cocked his head and gave him a curious look. "Is that what you think? Is that why you seem so insistent in your attemptsto defy us?""I cant think of any better reason."Atropos sighed. "Puck, child, your choice isnt what caused your fathers banishment. It was Oberons choice. He did it for you. Andnow you are attempting to let his sacrifice be in vain."
  114. 114. Puck stared at the old man, his mouth agape. "Yeah..but..I...""You do not have to feel guilty. Besides, this path is a lot happier. In the long run, of course. It wouldnt be a journey if it did not have itsups and downs. If you would have chosen the other path, you still would have gotten married to Erin Devereaux. But both of youwould have been pawns of the Reaper office. And Erins life would most certainly not have been happy, as Im sure you can imagine.Neither would your childrens lives."" I--""So you should stop worrying about what you know. There was a reason why you could only see so far. Had you chosen the otherpath, then, yes, more would have been revealed. But now you dont know everything that Mortality has in store for you. Live your life,Puck. Be happy. And by the way, your mother wants does your father."
  115. 115. Puck looked away, embarrassed. "I think it might be a bit too soon to be discussing grandchildren. Erins probably mad at me and--" hiswords were cut off by the sound of someone knocking at his door.
  116. 116. Atropos simply smiled at him before disappearing.
  117. 117. There was another knock at his door and he hesitantly walked over to it, his heart racing. He turned the doorknob and opened thedoor, not needing to look out the peephole to see who it was.
  118. 118. He took note of Erin standing before him, her hair and clothes both perfectly dry. "How did you get here so fast?" he asked.Erin raised her eyebrows and glanced at his damp clothes. "I took a cab. Why didnt you?""Because there wasnt a single one in sight during my entire walk home. The rain was a nice, ironic touch.""Really? Because as soon as I stepped outside, there were like ten cabs. As for the rain, well, it must have only lasted a couple ofminutes because the skies are clear now."
  119. 119. Puck looked up at the ceiling. "Alright! Alright! Fine! I get it. Ill do what you want!" When he looked back at Erin, he saw that she wasviewing him askance before she stepped inside.
  120. 120. "Youre crazy. Thats what it is isnt it? All this time, that enigmatic part that always intrigued me about you was just plain insanity.Figures.""No. Well, yeah, kind of, but not in the way you think." He sighed. "Okay, can you please sit down? This is going to take a long time toexplain."
  121. 121. "Well so long as theres an apology in there for ditching me at the reception like you did," she said as she sat down.He leaned against the wall across from her as he tried to think of the best way to start. "Do you believe in fate and destiny?""As in our lives are scripted and we have no choice? No.""Well, youd be wrong.""You know, this is a really crappy way to begin an apology," she said idly.He sighed. "Alright, let me explain."
  122. 122. He talked for a long time. He told Erin about the Reaper Offices experiments and how they wanted Living Reapers to get rid of therequirement of death to become one. He told her about Oberon, who was a Reaper, and his mother, who was one of the aspects ofFate. He told her that while his sister, Bottom, mainly inherited Reaper powers from Oberon, he himself had gained abilities from bothof his parents. He told her how when he was younger, he never had to worry about getting hurt and how he could see symbols overpeoples heads and he could somewhat interpret what those symbols meant. He told her that he had two paths to chose from, andbecause the Grim Reaper, when he came to collect his friends the night they all died, scared him, he ended up actually choosing adifferent path than the one the Reaper Office wanted him to take, which ended up leading to his fathers banishment and his guilt overthat. He told her about how he went to Titania and had everything stripped from him: his immortality, his elven lifespan, his LivingReaper powers, as well as the ability to see images over peoples heads.Erin, who was normally a very chatty person, remained fairly quiet and only asked questions to clarify some points. When he was donehe looked at her hesitantly.
  123. 123. "You do realize that all of this is among the craziest things I have ever heard," she finally said."Yeah, I know," he whispered. "I knew you probably wouldnt believe me.""Oh, I didnt say that I didnt believe you. Come on, just try wrapping your head around the Multi-Verse Theory and how mygrandfather, father, and half-brother are all the same age and married into the same generation and how I have an aunt, a niece, and anephew who are all the same age as me. You want to talk about weird, well there you go. And thats just the tip of the iceberg." Shelaughed when he raised his eyebrows. "Yeah, youll get used to the idea. Anyway, you arent immortal anymore then?""No, Im just human.""You do realize saying just human is rather offensive."
  124. 124. "Im sorry," he said. "Its just, well for all my life theres been a certain mindset. The way my sister talked, I could tell that becomingessentially human was a worse crime than giving up all my super special powers.""So...did you see things over my head?"He looked away and nodded. "Yeah. A lot of it was the same as everyone elses. Tombstones, meaning the death of loved ones, Imassuming grandparents. Green smiley faces meaning you made friends. Things indicating youd do well in school. They were alwaysmuddled together but there was always one very clear and certain one that shone brightly.""Oh? What was that?""Wedding rings."
  125. 125. "So I am going to get married! Good to know. But now after youve explained all of this crazy stuff, it still doesnt explain why youvebeen so hot and cold with me."Puck cleared his throat. "Because, well, those rings shined bright and, uh, well, there was a face next to the rings, which usually wasntvery common for me to see."Erin cocked her head. "You know who Im going to get married to? My God, Puck! Ive been complaining to you about how I know Imsupposed to get married but the guy is taking his sweet ass time about showing up in my life. Why couldnt you have just told me?"
  126. 126. "Because I think it would have been really weird for me to come right out and say, Hey, Ere, Ive known since I was about ten years oldthat we were going to marry each other. Thats why youve been drawn to me, and me to you."
  127. 127. Erin jerked her head back in surprise. "You? Im going to marry you?" A pleased smile spread across her face for a moment before itturned angry. "You mean youve known all this time that we were going to get married and yet you did your best to avoid me, datedsomeone else--""Which was apparently supposed to be planned--""And now that were both available and Ive made it very clear that Im interested and it seemed to me that you were also interested, youstill push me away."
  128. 128. "Im sorry," he whispered."Is the thought of being with me all that horrible? Do you hate your so-called Fate?""No," he said feebly. "Not even close. I just--"His words halted when she stood up. "I need some time to think. This is a whole lot to take in, you know.""I understand," he said as she turned towards the door.
  129. 129. Suddenly she turned around and planted a huge kiss on his lips. When they broke away she said, "Surprise kisses, while exciting, arentnearly as good as one that involves both people kissing, are they?"" No theyre not," he admitted.
  130. 130. When they pulled back from their shared kiss, he smiled. "I thought you had a lot to think about.""Im very smart and I can think very fast," she replied. He smiled, but shifted uncomfortably. "Whats the matter?" she asked." clothes are still sort of damp, but now theyre also becoming kind of itchy.""Ah. Well have to figure out what we can do about that," she said with a grin.
  131. 131. ~*~*~(To be continued in Part B.)