All day long, Delilah refused to cry, stubbornly burying her emotions under a fake, plastic smile, but now, after hours and hours of brutal silence, she finally lets go and allows the grief to wash over her. Not wanting to wake up Beau, Lila sneaks out of bed and makes her way to the nursery, but the sight of her babies, blissfully innocent and unaware, does little to soothe her broken heart.
“Delilah?” A sleepy voice echoes down the hall, and within seconds Beau appears in the doorway.
Delilah turns away from him, hoping to hide her red, tearstained cheeks, but Beau doesn’t need to see her face to know that she’s been crying. Coming up behind her, he slides his arm around her waist and pulls her in for a close embrace.
“You’re sad,” he murmurs in a worried voice.
Delilah shivers as his hot breath grazes against her neck, but she doesn’t move away or push aside his hands. “I’m fine,” she whispers, barely loud enough for him to hear.
Beau pauses, watching her uncertainly. He knows that someone died, a close friend of hers he presumes, but she refuses to tell him anymore than that. Indeed, Delilah pointedly avoided him all day today, practically running from him whenever he tried to talk to her, and the distance between them, the lack of trust in their relationship, bothers Beau more than he would like to admit.
With a heavy sigh, Beau brushes aside her hair and begins to kiss her neck, showing her that he loves her the only way he knows how, but Delilah tenses at the touch of his lips and squirms out of his grasp.
“Are you okay?” Beau asks as she turns around to face him.
“I’m fine,” she replies. Taking a deep breath, Delilah shuts her eyes and tries to regain control of her emotions. “Fine. I couldn’t sleep, and I wanted to check on the kids.”
Beau doesn’t look convinced, however. “You can talk to me, babe,” he tells her gently. “About anything. Ever.”
“I’m going for a walk,” she announces. “I need some fresh air.”
“I’ll go with you,” Beau offers, but Delilah just shakes her head and quietly slips out the door.
The brisk autumn breeze sends chills down her spine, biting at her bare skin and blowing straight through her thin clothes, but she doesn’t even notice. All that matters right now is that Kieran is dead, gone forever. The words feel so final to her, so terrifyingly absolute. She’ll never see him again, never hear the gentle hum of his voice or smell the soft scent of his skin. She’ll never talk to him again or laugh at his goofy smile, never kiss him or run her fingers through his charmingly unkempt hair. He’ll never meet her kids, never know their names or see their faces.
And I’ll never get to tell him how much I love him, she thinks with a sharp pang of regret.
After coming all the way to Jericho to break the sad news to her, Luca, Emily, and Atticus decide to stick around for a few more days to get to know Beau and the triplets. While Emily babysits the kids, Luca decides to interrogate his daughter’s boyfriend. Fortunately for Beau, the two men hit it off quite well, and they spend the better part of the afternoon engrossed in an enthusiastic discussion about the economics of the movie industry.
Delilah quickly grows bored of the conversation, however, and silently sneaks away to join her stepmom in the nursery.
Of everyone in the family, Emily seems the most broken up about Kieran’s death. Lost in her thoughts, she barely even glances up when Delilah enters the room, and her eyes, red and swollen from shedding so many tears, appear vacant and empty when they look upon her stepdaughter’s face.
Not knowing what to say, Delilah quietly shuts the door behind her and settles down on the floor at Emily’s feet. The two women sit together in silence for a while, taking what little comfort they can from each other’s presence, before Emily finally ventures to speak.
“They boys, they look like you,” she says softly. “I think they’ve got your coloring.”
Delilah nods in agreement, surprised by Emily’s choice of topic. “Fable seems to have Beau’s eye color though,” she replies with a sigh. “They have much more blue in them than either of her brothers’.”
“I’m not so sure,” Emily furrows her brow pensively. “They seem a bit too light to me. In fact,” she continues, watching Lila out of the corner of her eye, “they remind me of a pair of eyes I used to know. A pair of eyes I miss very much.”
Delilah looks up sharply. “N-No,” she stammers, suddenly feeling dizzy and out of breath. “She has Beau’s coloring. Whatever you’re suggesting, Emily, is wrong. Kieran and I- We didn’t- They’re not his! You’re wrong. That’s… That’s ridiculous.”
Emily’s lips curve into a worried frown, but her gaze remains kind and sympathetic. “You two have been in love since you were teenagers, Delilah,” she tells her bluntly. “Only a blind man could miss it. I’m not upset with you, Lila dear, if that’s what you think, but you can’t continue to string along another man like this. It’s not fair to him. It’s not fair to the kids.”
“No,” she snaps as a fresh wave of tears begins to stream down her face. “Kieran is dead, Emily. He’s gone, and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that. Just- Just leave me alone!” Then, rising to her feet, Delilah turns around and storms out of the room, desperate to escape Emily’s knowing glare.
She wanders around outside for a while, enjoying the numbing chill of the cool afternoon breeze before finally collapsing onto a rickety old bench in a fit of tears. She feels worn out, stretched and exhausted. She doesn’t even know what the point is anymore. Living seems utterly meaningless without Kieran at her side.
“You loved him?”
Delilah jumps, startled by Atticus’ sudden appearance. “How did you-”
Atticus waves his hand impatiently. “Did you love him?” he asks again.
Lila hesitates. “He was my best friend,” she replies guardedly.
“I didn’t realize that,” the old mage frowns. “I knew that the boy had feelings for you, of course, but I wasn’t aware that you felt the same way about him.”
“You’d be happy to know that he died well,” Atticus continues. “Valiantly, fighting for something he believed in.”
“But- I thought… You said there was an accident. That he was driving, and a-”
Atticus shakes his head. “I only said that to satisfy your parents,” he explains solemnly. “They aren’t mages like us, and the truth would have hurt them worse than my lie.”
Glancing up, Delilah wipes a tear off her face and sits back. “What happened, Atticus?” she asks quietly.
Atticus sighs and carefully examines his granddaughter over the top of his glasses. Then, with a curt nod, he launches into his story. “Kieran was a special mage, Delilah, far stronger and more powerful than he had any right to be, not only adept at the art of magic but possessing a keen sense of intuition as well. I believe he inherited his gifts from his father, an old acquaintance of mine who died when Kieran was just a toddler, but that, my dear, is a tale for another time. When Kieran moved to Arundel, he got involved with a bad man, a professor at the university who claimed to be Kieran’s real dad. I tried my best to save him, but Cyrus, the professor, filled the boy’s head with lies and turned him against me. Nothing I said or did could stop him.”
Delilah’s eyes grow wide. “So what happened?” she breathes.
“Cyrus brainwashed Kieran into believing that magic, our magic, has started to run dry, and he convinced him that the only way to fix it was to open a portal for him, a hole in the very fabric of time. The spell calls upon some of the most potent and volatile forces in nature, and Cyrus needed Kieran’s raw power in order to control such violent magic. By the time I found out about their scheme, it was too late. Kieran had already cast the spell and torn open the portal, and when I went to shut it he jumped in and sealed it closed behind him.”
Delilah frowns, confusion written all over her face. “So he’s not dead?”
“No, that’s not what I said,” Atticus tells her gently. “After Kieran vanished, Cyrus tried to flee the scene, but I managed to capture and subdue him. That spell requires more than a little law breaking, and he will spend the rest of his life behind bars if I have anything to say about it. Anyway, once I had the situation under control, I headed to my library and started looking through my old archives, and eventually I found some interesting information about a rogue mage that died almost a thousand years ago. It’s been so long that I had forgotten all about it, but I left myself a note at the time, a note for you actually. Kieran loved you very much, Delilah, and he died trying to return to you.”
“What?” Delilah shakes her head in disbelief. “You’re telling me that he died a thousand years ago? And you knew him back then? But-”
Atticus sighs and rubs his head. “I’m immortal, Delilah. I thought your mother told you that. I knew him very briefly at the time, yes. As I recall, he was an enemy of the king and a highly sought after criminal. He was killed for stealing some precious artifact, I believe, and was buried near the town of Alderney. I can show you his grave if you don’t believe me, Delilah.”
“I just…” Lila trails off into a stunned silence. “It’s a lot to take in,” she mumbles.
The following evening, Beau corners Luca in the kitchen with an important question to ask him about his daughter. Atticus left Jericho yesterday to return to his house in the distant forests of northern Sim Nation, and Lila and Emily are out visiting Delilah’s stepbrother (Emily’s son) Rigby right now, so they are the only two adults currently at home.
“I want to marry Delilah,” Beau blurts out, seizing upon the rare moment of quiet to bring up the sensitive subject.
Luca eyes the boy warily. “Have you spoken with Lila about this?” he asks.
Beau shakes his head. “I feel that a man should always ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage first. It’s only proper.”
“It’s not my hand to give,” Luca retorts with a frown. “Have you thought about how you’re going to ask her?”
“No,” Beau sighs, “but I want to do something special. She seems so down lately, and I’d like to give her something to smile about again.”
Luca chuckles and grins at him encouragingly. Beau really seems to care for his daughter, and Luca likes the boy’s old-fashioned sense of etiquette.
“Walk with me,” Luca says as he puts his arm around Beau’s shoulder. “I think I have a wonderful idea of how you can propose.”
“Where are we?” Delilah laughs, her lips curled up into a crooked smile. The flight had been long and uneventful, but Lila was so caught up in her excitement that she barely even noticed. Beau, for his part, had stubbornly refused to tell her where they were going, saying only that she should pack “light and bring a swimsuit”.
“You’ll see in a moment,” he tells her affectionately.
Delilah gasps as they reach the overlook at the bottom of the hill.
“Wow!” she breathes. “The view… It’s stunning!”
Sweeping her into his arms, Beau twirls her around and playfully kisses her neck. “You like it then?” he whispers.
“Yes, I love it,” Delilah exclaims as she runs her fingers through his neatly trimmed hair. “I’ve never been any place so beautiful before. But… Why?”
“You seemed so sad after your friend died, and I hated to see you like that,” Beau replies, carefully skirting the true reason for their spur-of-the-moment vacation. “Besides, your parents offered to stay with the kids while they were in town, and I thought that you might enjoy some peace and quiet for a change. They’re such a handful,” he adds with a doting smile.
Delilah feels herself melt at his words. He’s so perfect, she sighs. So handsome and charming and considerate. He’s everything I should want in a guy.
Except he’s not Kieran, a small voice rips through her mind like a gunshot, and Delilah’s face falls slightly. Kieran’s dead, she reminds herself sternly, pushing his face out of her thoughts.
“I love you,” she tells Beau in an almost defiant tone of voice.
Oblivious to her internal struggles, Beau nods and gently brushes a strand of hair out of her face. “I love you too, babe.”
“I have an idea,” he whispers seductively as he traces his hand down her arm. “Why don’t we go check out our hotel room now? I booked the honeymoon suite, so we have the entire second floor to ourselves.”
For the next few days, Beau and Delilah split their time between the beach and the bedroom. Before they left, Luca and Emily emphatically assured them that they loved looking after their grandbabies, so the couple feels no rush to get back home any time soon. Indeed, Lila finds the relaxed pace of island life a welcome change from the hectic, nonstop job of mothering three newborns.
Running her toes through the silky soft white sand, Delilah’s face suddenly grows hard and serious, and her fingers tighten uneasily around Beau’s hand.
“What’s wrong, darling?” he asks as he props himself up on his elbows.
Lila sighs and crawls into his lap. “Do you love me?” she demands in a pouty voice.
“Baby, you know I do,” Beau chuckles. “Why do you even need to ask?”
“Then kiss me,” she breathes.
Beau happily obliges, but the intensity with which Lila returns his kiss alarms him. “What’s going on?” he asks when they come up for air.
Delilah hesitates, her gaze never once leaving Beau’s face. “You know my friend?” she whispers. “The one who died?”
Beau nods, his face unreadable under the bright tropical sun.
“He wasn’t just a friend,” she tells him quietly. “He was my lover, my love. I- I loved him.” The words slip from her lips like sand through her fingers, escaping her grasp and scattering into a million tiny pieces.
“You cheated on me?” His voice sounds pinched and tight.
Delilah shakes her head. “No, of course not. He left town after you found out about my pregnancy. It’s just- He meant a lot to me, Beau, and I want to be completely open with you.”
Beau shuts his eyes for a long moment before nodding and pulling her close. “I can live with that I guess,” he mumbles, more to himself than Delilah. “But no more secrets, alright babe? You’re my girl now, and if this is going to work then I need to know that I can trust you.”
“You can,” Delilah assures him with a forced smile. “I have nothing else to hide.”
So, uh, was that clear? Cause I honestly have no idea. I’m specifically talking about the part with Atticus and Delilah, when they are discussing Kieran. It sounded alright in my head, but I realize it’s a lot of information to dump on you guys all at once and sometimes I forget to include little (big) details. If you need any clarification AT ALL, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or whatever, and I will get back to ASAP. I’ve been trying to foreshadow that whole series of events in previous updates, but I kind of got distracted by Delilah’s love life. Anyway, there will be more about what happened to Kieran next chapter (a lot more, actually).
So, I’ve never seen this happen before…
Apparently, even Delilah’s dad doesn’t like Beau. LOL…