Over the course of the next few months I spaced out my visits to Hog Island more than I had before Mac’s return. I had been going to see Eliza every other weekend, partly because I knew she wouldn’t let herself get close to any of her neighbors since she was supposed to be lying low and partly because I was lonely in Salem and craved being with her. It was a need that I had always felt and one that I could never fully explain or understand.
I remember how angry I had been with her when I was little and she had first gone off to work for the vampires, leaving me behind with my parents on the farm. Of course I hadn’t known the reason for her leaving then, all I knew was that I wasn’t the same without her and that I hadn’t wanted her to go in the first place. It seems silly and selfish to look back on it now, but I think it’s because even then I knew I was linked to her and needed her in my life.
I wasn’t taking a full class load since I was splitting my time between college and my magick studies. I had thought about quitting all together like Sam had, but part of me still loved psychology and I thought that maybe I could still get some use out of the degree, even if it took me longer to get it than I had intended. I could have easily kept up my studies in both and go to the island every other weekend, but I used my need to stay in Salem as an excuse to give Mac and Eliza more time to adjust to the new status quo. Neither of them had really changed since his return, but the demands of their relationship had change dramatically now that he was no longer a vampire and I knew they needed time to be alone and see how those changes affected them.
So I knocked my visits back to once a month or so. It was amazing to see the routine Eliza and Mac created for each other. A couple of weeks after they left Ireland, Mac became friends with the local sheriff, Cliff Hammond, and got a job with the small island police department as a result. He was now using the name Brendon McAllister and he and Eliza told their neighbors that they had been a couple before Eliza had moved. They had some troubles and she had gone there to get some space. After realizing how much he loved her, Mac had followed and now that they had made up, they had decided they both loved the island so much that they wanted to stay.
The new Mac was really different from the man I had first known. He was a great deal more tolerant toward things now. He had developed a ‘live and let live’ attitude and spent a great deal of time in meditation or silent discussion with Gwrhyr on how to use his new found abilities.
He also instituted some subtle, but major changes around the house. To an outsider, it looked as if some general improvements had been made to increase the value of the property, but I knew better.
He was tightening security in case the vampires ever found them.
A dog door was added to the back door that was big enough for the wolf to use, as well as Eddie. A better security system with motion and thermal sensors was next, then a sturdier gate at the end of the driveway. A reinforced chain link fence was put up along the three land based sides of the property as well as a three-and-a-half-foot stone fence, complete with spikes on top, between the outer fence and the house. A boardwalk was put in the sand between the beach and the house that completed a circle of stone and iron around the structure. A rock garden was added inside the stone fence with a range of rock sizes that would alert Mac or Eliza to any would be intruders who had to cross it to get to the house itself. Holly, roses and other thorny plants were added for their extra alert causing properties as well.
Mac bought a twenty-five-foot-long speedboat that he named Daisy. The craft could make it to the mainland in all but the worst of storms and was parked in a boathouse near the house for easy access.
Neither Mac nor Eliza ever said a word to me about the changes around the property, but I knew it was to give them an advantage in case they were ever found and I really couldn’t blame them for the precautions they were putting in place. I just hoped that they never needed them.
Glenn added a portal to their house like the one I used in my apartment so Mac and Eliza could travel freely between their home and Ireland, as well as to Nashville and my apartment in Salem, whenever they wanted.
I noticed that Eliza became more tolerant of Mac, not letting herself get as angry at him as she used to. If she saw a fight coming, she would walk away before she lost her temper with him instead of going off heatedly and saying things she might regret later.
As someone who watched them, I could see that Eliza was still very vulnerable and it was a hard pill to swallow, seeing her that way. I was used to the raw, in your face Eliza. In the time since Mac’s death she had shown all of us that she was breakable. That she was human in a sense and could take only so much, just like the rest of us.
The best news came when Mac finally asked her to marry him. I’ll never forget the phone call from Eliza in early June and how calm she was when she told me the good news. Underneath, I could hear the happiness and excitement in her voice and I was really pleased for the both of them. They hadn’t set a date yet, but just knowing it would finally happen was a great relief to the whole family.
The time when I was on the island was spent doing things as a family. There was a put-put golf course in town that we went to a couple of times. Ice cream cones always followed the fun filled contests of chasing around a little white ball from the stand next door to the course and the laughter that happened on those sunny, summer afternoons were a delight for all of us. We had picnics on the beach and played games at night after dinner.
I did stuff one on one with each of them, too. I was trying to teach Eliza how to cook, which she felt was a good thing since Mac needed to eat food now and she claimed that she didn’t want to accidentally kill him. We started off with simple dishes that my Mom had taught me to make when I was young, but the lessons were slow going. Eliza didn’t have a natural ability in the kitchen, but she was determined to learn and that was half the battle. There were many times when something, usually the main dish, was burned beyond recognition and had to be tossed in the garbage. Mac was always there to tease her just enough so that she didn’t get too angry and he was the one to suggest take out of some kind in the end.
I spent more time learning about home security and how I could apply it with my magick to protect myself with Mac. He would take me to the shooting range that the members of the police department used so I could get more practice with the gun that he had given me back in Salem when he was still a vampire. I still didn’t like the idea of using a gun, but I was convinced that it could be useful in slowing someone down enough so that I could get away if I had to. Mac taught me where to aim in order to accomplish the desired effect as well. A bullet to the knee would incapacitate someone, even a vampire, long enough to give me a running start that could save my life.
I loved the nightly games we played at either the kitchen table or on the living room floor the best because it reminded me of similar times that Eliza and I had shared on cold winter nights on the farm with Mom and Dad. I always felt a tinge of guilt after those evenings, however. It reminded me of the time that I wasn’t spending with my parents. It had become so easy to develop a close bond with Mac and Eliza because I knew that I could tell them anything and not have to worry about explaining what I was to them or that they might judge me for it.
Mac was always the one to give rational advice, like which classes to take or how far I should push myself when trying magick experiments on my own. Eliza had always been a natural nurturer, even though she never saw it that way. She was the protective one that always wanted to hold back and see what came at you before reacting.
I was thinking more and more about telling my Mom and Dad what I was. At the very least I wanted to tell them that I knew Mac and Eliza were my parents, but I didn’t know how I would explain everything. I kept thinking about the conversation that I had with Uncle Angus and I knew that there was truth to what he had said. One evening after dinner, while Eliza and I were doing dishes I decided to bring the subject.
“I’ve been thinking about telling Mom and Dad the truth,” I said as she dried a large mixing bowl. Mac was in the living room reading the paper so I thought I would approach Eliza alone first.
I watched as she visibly tensed at my words, her strokes with the towel becoming slightly jerky as she finished drying. “What were you thinking of saying?” she asked.
I shrugged as I took the bowl from her and put it away. “I’m not totally sure, but I think that they deserve to know the truth, don’t you? I mean, they were honest with me the whole time I was growing up, right? About being adopted?” I turned to face Eliza again. “I guess I’m asking for your opinion. How do you think they will take it? The whole truth?”
She thought a moment. “Mac would say that ‘Knowledge is Power’,” she replied, clearly not liking it herself. “I’d have to ask if you’re sure you want them to have that power over you. I’m not saying they couldn’t handle it, just that it’s a lot for anyone to handle. Remember what it was like when you found out?”
I leaned against the counter and thought about what he has said. “That’s what’s holding me back. Uncle Angus said that telling them about Mac and his family would be enough. That way they could at least know each other without being straight about the magick and the werewolves and all that. I’m asking for your opinion on what would be best. Make it a tell all? Or the bare minimum?”
Eliza sighed heavily, then said, “I don’t know, Corrine. How are you going to explain that Mac came back? What if the vampires go see them looking for me? I’d hate to have them find him again, Gaia only knows what they would do…”
I had never told Eliza about the strange visitors that my parents had after Mac’s death. I hadn’t wanted her to worry about them on top of everything else she was dealing with at the time. Then time had passed and I just never mentioned it. “The vampires have already been to see them,” I told her quietly. “Hopefully they are satisfied that they don’t know anything. I don’t know what else to do. Eventually they are going to get suspicious of something or I’m going to slip and mess up the whole story. You know I don’t lie very well and Dad said something last time I was home about not seeing me enough.”
“You have to do what you think best, Corrine,” Eliza told me as she picked up a stack of plates and put them in the appropriate cabinet. “Maybe you should start out with ‘here’s my birth family’ and see how it goes.”
I folded the towel she had been using and hung it on the rack. “I’m sorry to put more on you,” I said absently. “I’ll think about it some more and we’ll see what happens, okay? I don’t want them in danger and Lord knows I don’t need a repeat performance of how Brian took the truth. I’m going to my room to read, maybe meditate a little, okay?”
At the mention of Brian, Eliza came over and laid a comforting hand on my shoulder. I had finally told her and Mac about our break up on a previous visit and it had been really hard for me. They had both taken the admission well, saying that if I was okay with it, then they were, too. “Oh, honey, I’m sure they wouldn’t react the way that Brian did,” Eliza told me. “They love you, no matter what you do or what you are, they will always love you, just like I do, like Mac does.” She pulled me into her arms then for a hug that made me feel much better.
“We’ll see,” I whispered into her hair.
“Luv, don’t let your experience with Brian screw you up with everyone. Just because he couldn’t handle it, doesn’t mean no one will.”
“I know. I just need to figure out what I’m going to do.” I pulled back a little to look at her, then kissed Eliza on the cheek. “I’m going to my room,” I repeated as I stepped away, giving her hand a squeeze before leaving the kitchen and heading upstairs.
Once there I tried to meditate, but I couldn’t seem to concentrate long enough to get anywhere. I knew that my best course of action was to talk to Mac about the situation, but for some reason I hesitated. He always seemed to know the right way to go, even if it was the path you were dreading, but I held back going to him. I think I was afraid of what he would say.
Part of me worried about what he would think of me wanting to let my parents know what was really going on in my life. He and Eliza and I shared this little world that was all our own. Of course my grandparents and aunts and uncles knew about all that had happened to all of us, but in the end it was the family bond that I shared with Mac and Eliza that the three of us ‘came home’ to the island. In the back of my mind I worried if Mac would be jealous of my desire to be truthful with my parents. To be honest I think I was hesitant to pop the bubble on the family unit we shared and I was fighting myself in the need to be honest against the worry of changing our relationship.
Besides, Mac seemed preoccupied of late when he didn’t think anyone was watching him. I noticed that he had a couple of long conversations on the phone with Grandfather and that he tried to keep it hush-hush. I didn’t try to eavesdrop, but I did overhear him say something about a Curse Belated and I was reminded of the conversation we had on The Point about it. Obviously he was working with Grandfather to do whatever was necessary to get rid of it, so I didn’t want to add to his worries anymore than necessary.
In the end I decided to set aside the idea of telling my parents anything for the time being. When I felt the time was right I would talk to Mac, ask his opinion and go from there. I knew that I could talk to my grandparents as well, but I wanted to get Mac’s take on it first so everything else would have to wait. There were more important things to think about anyhow, namely the wedding and how to get the two of them to set a date. The rest could wait for now.
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