“Then I stroked a hand through Benedict’s brown hair. Benedict was looking rather dashing in a gray tuxedo. Gratitude washed over me as I reflected on the family I had been gifted, a family that seemed to be growing larger with each year that passed. My heart felt like it was expanding with each new addition. When I was younger all I’d ever wanted was a family. My life now wouldn’t have appeared in my wildest dreams back then. No matter what tough periods we had been through, they had always been surmountable because of my family. They were my support system. My life blood.
“Oh, look who it is,” Derek said, pointing to the jetty.
Lucas was moving toward us with Marion, who was carrying her baby girl. Lucas had one arm around Marion as they walked, and he looked happier than I’d seen him in a long time. So did Marion. Apparently Claudia’s trick to get the two to share an apartment had paid off. Lucas’s face flushed a little beneath our gaze as they neared. He seemed to be deliberately avoiding making eye contact with any of us. I thought he and Marion were adorable together. She clearly doted on him, and after many years of, ahem, maturing, I felt that Lucas would make a good man for her. The fact that she had a baby would force him to take on an extra responsibility— which I felt was a good thing to help ground Lucas.
This was the first time I was seeing my brother-in-law for quite some time. He hadn’t come with us to America, which I didn’t blame him for. He deserved a timeout after his misadventures in The Dewglades, though I suspected he’d come with us when we returned for our next round of adventures.
“How are you, dear brother?” Derek asked, clapping a hand against Lucas’s back. Lucas grinned rakishly. There was still a cute flush to his cheeks. “Haven’t been better in a while, actually,” he replied. Cameron, Liana and their son Cedric, along with their daughter Poppy and Jeramiah, approached behind Lucas and Marion. Then came Ashley and Landis with their teenage human son, Julian, followed by Mona and Kiev with Brock, Helina and Matteo, and Erik and Abby. They stood with us among the rows of seats, congratulating Xavier and Vivienne.
Ben and River arrived next. Grace and Lawrence walked behind them, hand in hand—Grace without her wig. Shortly behind them walked Field and the other four Hawk-boys, and then Orlando, pushing his sister in a wheelchair. As Claudia approached with Yuri, she threw Lucas a wink, which he not-so-subtly tried to pretend he hadn’t seen. Kira and Micah strolled over with their new baby, Saira walking next to them with hers. All of the wolf cubs were in their humanoid forms now. Both looked as cute as Aiden and Kailyn’s. They appeared to be siblings.
When Brett and Bella arrived from the direction of the caves, they were with the ogre babies they had agreed to take on. Brett carried the one who apparently had a thing for grabbing body parts —as it was trying to get hold of his ears and nose —while Bella carried the other, who was being a bit more well behaved. He sat in her arms, distracted by the crowd up ahead of them. Bella and Brett still weren’t officially a couple, though they were practically inseparable. They ate and roamed the island together, kept each other company in their caves; the only thing they didn’t do was sleep together. I wasn’t sure what was really happening, whether there was anything at all romantic going on between them, or if it was purely platonic. But if those babies didn’t bring them together, I wasn’t sure what would.
Speaking of babies, we still hadn’t figured out what those odd gray scaly ones were. I suspected that we were going to have to take them to see The Sanctuary’s witches to see if any of them had an opinion on the infants. Maybe we’d take one with us as a sample when we returned to America. More and more people arrived on the beach as the next hour went by, until it was almost standing room only in the area where Corrine and her team had set up chairs. They had to magick more to accommodate everyone.”