I looked at the piece of paper that Uncle Harry had just handed me still shaking my head. Inside I was still trying to keep my tummy in order. I wasn't happy but at the same time I knew it was true.
He'd handed me a birth certificate dated the same day I was born. It was from Florida and had a baby girl born to Kelly Crimson and father unknown. The mother had been a mere sixteen or so meaning she had been knocked up when she was fifteen -- lovely, no? Probably by a much older supernatural, given my nature -- and it hurt me to my core. I doubted she had been truly willing, but probably stupid enough to think the creature was her one-and-only.
"Uncle Harry, I thought I was found on the Church steps or something? Where was this found?" I was stunned.
"Emma, we always knew that you were out there -- it was known through out the entire supernatural society -- dark or light, no matter. Penny did research years ago for me and I had over a half dozen possibilities, but once you surfaced I knew it was you. I saw the news reports and your face and it wasn't even a battle. Your eyes were deep and complicated like your very existence. Then you showed up on my doorstep -- so to speak -- not once but twice." Uncle Harry grinned, making me feel safe while I was still frightened by my newfound world. I'd never realized that many people and creatures had been following my every move for what seemed to be my entire life.
Still reading the information on the page that Penny had supplied I finally asked, "Why didn't anyone try to save my parents?"
Okay, they weren't my 'real' parents but they had been the only folks that I'd ever known. I was sick in my stomach at the idea that everything had been watched and observed without anyone trying to intervene. Uncle Harry had mentioned how the fey played the 'long game,' but this still struck me as wrong. Maybe they didn't bother rescuing humans as a rule. Uncle Harry set me straight while shaking his head softly at my obvious thoughts.
"Because, I am sorry to admit, we all thought we had more time. I'd done research, as had probably more than a few other supernatural creatures, but you weren't expected to meet your maturity until twenty-one -- not sixteen. And time for us is different, we live such long lives that a half dozen or so human years is little more than a blink of an eye." Uncle Harry met my gaze and I could see his discomfort at having to tell me that he'd pretty much failed. I could see it etched in his face and it gave me a small measure of comfort. He'd admitted that he'd miscalculated the time, and yet I was still in front of him. I hadn't been compelled to pop out of his home to some other random place. No matter what he said, I knew it hadn't been intentional on his part and I doubted anyone else had really expected me to 'mature' so fast. I kept coming back to the idea that there had been so many people, both human and other, observing me for so many years. It was more disturbing than I wanted to explore.
"Well, apparently you all were pretty much wrong. So where does that leave us?" I quipped, while actively holding my thumb in my lap to avoid chewing. I was more than a bit stressed, but I was now an adult so I couldn't continue to chew on my thumb like a baby.
Uncle Harry grinned, "Here with me. I'll help where I can. You won't be harmed."
Then I watched as it further dawned on him that my parents were dead despite his efforts, and I was now on the other side of the country due to all the chaos. He met my eyes and said, "I am sorry that we were so wrong. I can't help your parents but you are no longer alone. I will guide you and answer any of your questions."
It was a heartfelt promise that I knew was sincere, and it made me feel a bit safer. At least while I was inside his home. I worried about the day or night I'd have to leave.
Angus lumbered back to the doorway and said, "Okay, Harry, so Penny's now sprung and the asshole attorneys are busy trying to complicate the charges they'd drummed up with that fey piece of crap, Owens' help. Your top attorney is laughing and telling them to fuck themselves in polite legal-speak. They should drop everything by tomorrow from what your lawyers said. If not, they are going to give the court some time stamped footage from various traffic cameras and bank ATM shots that prove she wasn't anywhere near his house the night he claimed to have slept with her. She'd been on the other side of town stalking some loser for a paycheck. Not that she told the cops that, just the lawyer and me." Here he did grin slightly, which was beyond disturbing, since I was pretty sure he liked Penny. Again, I was sixteen not stupid.
We nodded and let him vent. He was stomping back and forth in the doorway just outside the room, not breaking past the threshold, obviously waiting for Uncle Harry's permission to come inside the bedroom and talk to us. Uncle Harry gestured with his hand and gave Angus the freedom to pace in a larger area. His agitation was visible but I knew it wouldn't last for long. He just wanted to get Uncle Harry's approval for whatever wing nut idea was percolating inside his head.
"Angus, what do you need?" Uncle Harry wasn't dismissive but very close to it.
"Can I fly out to Florida to get her back?"
It was a heartfelt plea that both Uncle Harry and I recognized. Watching Uncle Harry thinking about it for a minute nearly caused Angus to blow a gasket -- we both could see it was that important to him -- and then he said, "Of course, use the main company jet, okay?"
Angus looked extremely relieved by that and sighed deeply saying, "Thanks, Harry. We will back before you know it."
Uncle Harry laughed and said, "Who's going to fill in while you are gone?"
That was the real question, I could see.
"My cousin's kid, Bobby. He's a good guy."
Even I knew that Angus would say whatever he thought would let Uncle Harry cut him free.
"Okay, Angus. If you vouch for him, we will go from there. You go and rescue Penny from the swampland called Florida and then get your ass back here. Paul Owens won't give up simply because Penny's out of jail. Make sure to fly into Bakersfield and rent a car to drive home. He's going to have someone on your tail, private jet or not. If you sense you are being followed, drive up the coast and sight-see for a day or so." Uncle Harry was being serious.
"I know, Harry, it's not my first rodeo, and if need be, I'll call in some of my friends to eliminate the problem." Angus was itching to jump on the plane.
"All right, have a great trip and be safe," again serious, but they both laughed, obviously forgiving each other for whatever missteps that had occurred between them. It seemed that was all it took. Men -- supernatural or human -- were different creatures than women.
I had returned to my semi-folded position in the chair next to Uncle Harry's bed. My knees were drawn up to my chin and my wrists were wrapped around my shins. I wanted to feel safe, but with Angus leaving, I worried about when Uncle Harry slept or went out hunting or whatever it was that vampires did when humans weren't watching.
Sensing my fears, Uncle Harry simply asked, "How soon is Bobby coming?"
Tilting his head, Angus answered, "I hear his motorcycle pulling up now."
We were nowhere near the front of the house, but I didn't doubt that Angus heard something. His whole body had tensed for a second before it relaxed, as if he'd identified the sound and dismissed his duty as gatekeeper. No, I knew that Angus wasn't the average mountain man but something more. He spurned fey and wasn't a vampire. Neither Uncle Harry nor he seemed inclined to fill me in on what species of other he was, so I just bit my tongue and waited.
Angus headed out of the room and towards the door with massive strides. Uncle Harry caught my concern and said, "I'll explain."
It was tough but I resisted quipping back, 'When exactly?' just barely.
There were loud voices in the distance that I couldn't hear, but Uncle Harry's face split with a large grin and he said, "This ought to be good."
I heard thumping and then suddenly there was this boy in the doorway with his head dipped and Angus just over his shoulder. If Angus hadn't been right behind him, I would have thought that Bobby was large, but since Angus was so massive he looked like a teenager. His hair was dark russet and his build top-heavy like Angus. Uncle Harry bid him to enter. I found that quaint, then it dawned on me that there could be something to the idea that various supernatural creatures had to be invited into homes and rooms. Keeping my thoughts to myself, I waited.
Then Bobby lifted his head and looked directly at me. It was like I was standing in front of a cage at a crappy zoo, and the animal inside was trapped and ready to rip out anyone's throat who got too close. Feral and frightening -- I pulled back and looked to Uncle Harry.
"Angus!" Was all he said and Angus picked up one of his huge fists and simply clubbed Bobby to the ground. Bobby tumbled surprised and boneless to the floor and curled into a submissive position with his throat jutted out towards Angus. Understanding uncurled and dawned on me. Angus was a werewolf, or something like that, and he'd just exerted an alpha stance. Again my worldview shifted.
Bobby turned over and slowly rose. Looking at Angus he said, "Sorry. She's not what I was expecting."
Like that was a good reason for looking at me like I was on the menu. Uncle Harry tried to defuse the situation by asking calmly, "What exactly was it that you were expecting?"
Glancing first at Angus, he waited for the nod then said, "Something weak. She's not weak."
Uncle Harry laughed, "So you thought it was smart to challenge her in front of me and Angus?"
Angus looked disgusted and said, "Forget this. I'll send him away and get Penny later."
Looking at Bobby, I saw something they both were missing. He hadn't meant to be disrespectful, but had been curious about me and confronted me because it was part of his nature. I couldn't fault him for that. There was a changed aspect to him that made me recognize that he would now protect me to the death.
"Uncle Harry?" I made it a question but my tone wasn't quite that. He caught my gaze and lifted an eyebrow with a slight smile.
"Yes, Emma?" His voice held a hint of laughter that both Angus and Bobby missed as their stances were squared off against each other.
"Bobby's fine. He just was curious. I'm not what he expected. That is good, isn't it?" I made it seem like a teenager's mocking question, but it served the purpose. Everyone literally relaxed. The tension that had been slowly poisoning the room evaporated.
Bobby's eyes flew to mine. He was confused but relieved. I knew then that he'd do anything to keep me safe. I'd won over a supernatural creature to protect me when Uncle Harry couldn't. That was valuable. I knew instinctively that I had to keep finding stronger creatures to protect me while I learned my way in life. Bobby wasn't going to let me die. Uncle Harry looked at me and grinned, "Very good, my dear Emma. Very good."