Best read after Chapter 2.14 and Side Story 2
Time: A few weeks after the events of Chapter 2.14 and immediately after Side Story 2
Characters involved: Canderous Rand, Sion Rand, Natalia Stevens, Asala Karam, Alexandra Stevens, Catherine Stevens, Vivian Stevens, Richard Stevens, Charles Stevens
Summary: Canderous, Sion, Asala, and Natalia go to the Stevens estate in Monte Vista for a few weeks after the end of term.
The plane ride to Monte Vista was long and boring. But it gave Natalia some time to prepare Sion and Canderous for her family. Well, mainly her sister Catherine. Luckily, they were on a private jet and so this was easier than it would be on a commercial jet.
“Sion and Canderous, I should warn you guys about some things about my family,” Natalia said.
“Oh?” Sion said and Canderous perked up.
“Yea, you should be able to guess by now that my family is filthy rich. I’m not the stereotypical kid of a rich family. You guys also know I do not get along with my father very well at all. He’s super proper super formal, et cetera, et cetera. My sister Catherine is the same way. She’s 15. My sister Vivian is 14 and is as cool as can be. When we’re here in Monte Vista she invents things. Because she can’t at home. This is the house my father has promised he’ll never come to unless invited. And he never never never breaks a promise. And my father frowns more upon tattle telling than doing things like inventing so we have no fear of Catherine spoiling things. But she can make things unbearable.”
“Alright,” Canderous said, “I think I can handle Catherine. I’ve got a snobby teenage aunt. Anything else?”
“My eight year old brother Richard is very shy. He’s like your father though, Canderous, a gifted musician. My father frowns upon us cultivating it, though. At least anything beyond the piano. But we cultivate it when were here in Monte Vista. And my mother. She’s one of those people born outside of rich society that want in but then don’t realize what all comes along with it. My mother loves most of it. She just doesn’t love my father’s controlling nature. And most rich husbands have it.”
“Sounds like my birth mother,” Canderous suddenly said, “Alexandra Alto I believe is her name. Or was, she got married to some rich dude some time after I was born.”
“I don’t know my mother’s name. Or my father’s. I don’t hear anyone call them that. It’s always Mr. or Mrs. Stevens.”
The group continued to talk for the remainder of the flight.
~ ~ ~
“This is it. The Stevens Family Estate in Monte Vista,” Natalia said.
“Dang, Nat,” Sion said, “Your family must be really rich and influential to have a mansion inside of the walls and then not have this place be your permanent residence.”
“It was when I was younger,” Natalia explained, “But then my father got a better job offer. And because his work was more important than my friends or my mother’s friends, we moved to Bridgeport. And yea, I knew our family was going to be in Monte Vista when I asked. I know you two aren’t super willing to risk yourselves more than is necessary with Darius.”
The group walked up to the door and Natalia used her key to unlock the door and let her guests enter first. “Mother! Catherine! Vivian! Richard! I’m home! And our guests have arrived!” Natalia yelled.
“You really should learn to mind your inside voice, Natalia,” a blonde teenage girl said.
“And you should remember that Father says it is not proper to admonish people while guests are present, Catherine,” Natalia said.
Catherine gave an exasperated sigh before catching glimpse of the guests, “You, you, you brought one of those green freaks here? To our house?”
“He’s not a freak, he’s a person,” Natalia said before turning to the two who had not met her family and said, “Sion and Canderous, this is Catherine. Catherine, these are Sion and Canderous Rand.”
A blonde boy peeped around the corner before going wide eyed and slipping behind Natalia quickly. “Why hello, Richard. These are my friends. Sion and Canderous. They can’t meet you properly if you’re hiding behind me.”
“Oh, just pull him in front of you, Natalia. Stop babying him,” Catherine said.
Natalia rolled her eyes and coaxed her brother out and introduced him, “Richard, is Vivian in her work shop?”
“Can you go tell her I’m home with guests? You can run along and play once you tell her.”
Richard ran off and Natalia turned to Catherine again, “Mother is?”
“Out shopping for groceries. I don’t see why she doesn’t hire staff for when we’re here to tend those needs like we do at home in Bridgeport.”
“Did it ever occur to you that she might enjoy shopping?” a black haired teen said, “I’m Vivian. You two must be Sion and Canderous. I’ve heard so much about you two. All good stuff. And there the boring introductions are over. I heard Richard head for the game room, let’s go there and join him.”
“I’ll pass,” Catherine said, “I’d rather go practice my piano piece for Father for when we go home for Christmas.”
“Mind if I join you, Miss Catherine?” Canderous asked, “I’m not the natural my father is, but Natalia says you have two pianos.”
Catherine appeared in thought for a minute before saying, “Well, Father always wanted me to learn a duet. And the only sibling I have who is good enough hates playing duets. And one minute. You’re a Rand. Atton Rand is your father?”
“Yep. And Sion is Atton’s half-brother,” Canderous said, “Now are we going to go and find a duet to learn or not?” He gave her a smile and waited for her to lead the way to the music room.
Canderous and Catherine were finally getting the hang of the beginning of a duet when they heard a car pull up.
“That would be Mother,” Catherine said, continuing to play.
“I suppose I should go out and offer help with bringing in whatever she’s come with,” Canderous said and got up. He walked to the front and saw that Sion was just getting there as well.
“How did it go?” Sion asked.
“We’re getting there. She’s good. She doesn’t have that natural talent that Dad does, but she’s worked hard and getting good.”
The two stepped out to help Mrs. Stevens bring in the groceries. When Mrs. Stevens stepped out and turned to face the pair all three of them froze.
“You…. you couldn’t obey one simple request,” Mrs. Stevens started.
“What are you talking about, Mrs. Stevens? Your daughter Natalia invited us here,” Canderous answered.
“You… you two are her room mates along with Asala?”
“Shit,” Sion said.
“Shit what, Sion?” Canderous asked.
“I don’t think everyone at school saying you and Natalia are related are wrong,” Sion said and turned to Mrs. Stevens, “Are they, Alexandra?”
“I didn’t know you were my mother,” Canderous said, rubbing the back of his head, “Nat and I have been denying that we’re related when people ask. We probably would have declined coming had we known, though I would have wanted to come more.”
“Why would you want to come more knowing that I’m your mother?” Alexandra asked.
“You’re my mother. I only have vague memories of you. And I wanted to hear you tell me why you left Dad the way you did. I know why you left with me and then later gave me to my father. But I don’t know why you left and why you left the way you did,” Canderous answered, “But mostly, I wanted to meet my mother and have more than vague memories of you before you died. And do you want my half-siblings to know or do Sion and I need to keep quiet?”
“I had been trying to find an opening to tell your siblings of my lie to their father. You being here gives me the perfect opening,” Alexandra said.
The three worked quietly to bring in the groceries before Alexandra called everyone down for a family meeting.
“Why are we having a family meeting?” Catherine asked, “I was hoping Canderous and I could work on the duet more before dinner.”
“They’ll still be time if you’re wanting to after the meeting,” Alexandra said, “Now I’m sure you have all noticed how much Canderous and Natalia look similar to each other. Like they could be related.”
She waited for the group to look between Canderous and Natalia before continuing. “When I was much younger I fell in love with a man named Atton Rand. At the time, I wanted to be high society. Desperately. Atton Rand wasn’t high society material, but at the time, I thought I could mold him to be. I pressured him into doing things he might otherwise have not done and I ended up pregnant.”
“But you told Father you were a virgin when you married him?” Catherine asked.
“I lied,” Alexandra said and continued, “Atton’s family knew what I was doing and knew it wasn’t having a good effect on Atton. Heck, even I knew it. Between that and calling Atton’s alien half-brother a thing, you can imagine how Atton’s family treated me. Well, six months into the pregnancy I decided I was going to leave. Now being a single mother would kill most chances at entering high society. But I didn’t feel like leaving my unborn child with Atton was safe. I also knew that traveling while pregnant wouldn’t be very good for the baby. So I waited until I gave birth to Canderous. At the time I was happy that it was when Atton’s siblings and friends had dragged him off on a vacation. It meant I could get away easier.”
“If you left with Canderous why are we just now meeting him?” Catherine asked, having pieced it together.
“Well, a few years went by. I had ended up in Bridgeport…” Alexandra started.
“You didn’t take him there, Mother!” Natalia stated.
“She did, let her continue,” Canderous said, “I heard this part of the story from my father’s explanation of why I don’t look like my step-mother.”
“Canderous is right, I did. I didn’t believe Atton when he told me Bridgeport was dangerous for him and his family. One of the members of the Immortal Council of Moonlight Falls, came to explain the situation to me. Lucian Dracule, a vampire.”
“Vampires aren’t real,” Catherine said.
“Tell that to Lucian Dracule and Darius,” Alexandra said, “Now please stop interrupting. While he was trying to convince me to hand over Canderous, Darius showed up. Lucian told me to barricade myself and Canderous in the bedroom. Lucian and Darius fought and Lucian won but had been injured. I used Lucian’s phone to dial Alistair as I recognized the name. Three more of the council appeared and secured the apartment, healed Lucian, and interrogated me as to what happened. It was then that I realized that maybe Atton had been right and I decided to let Atton raise Canderous. Shortly after that, I got the offer to marry your father with the only catch being that I was a virgin.”
The group talked about the realization for several hours and discussed it over dinner before the broke apart into groups. Canderous told his mother that he wanted a word in private with her.
“I didn’t want to ask those questions I mentioned earlier in front of my half-siblings,” Canderous said, “I get that you realized that doing what you did to Dad was wrong and that was why you left. But why didn’t wait for Dad to get home? Why did you send your mother to fetch your things?”
“I knew it would be easier for me to break away if I didn’t have to tell your father to his face. And I was scared of facing your grandfather. I knew my mother could feign sympathy enough to not get killed by your grandfather.”
“If your husband promised to never come to this house, why didn’t you extend an invitation at some point for us to meet?”
“I didn’t want to be the one to break it to you that you were adopted by Bailey and I couldn’t be sure your father would have given the invitation to you. And I suppose I was a bit scared at how you would react.”
“If you left without any trace how do you know I was adopted by Bailey?”
“When Lucian and the other council members returned you to your father your legal guardian never changed. I could have demanded your return and they would have had to comply. Bailey wanted to show you that she did love you and contacted me in order to facilitate the adoption since I had to give up my parental rights. I had neglected to change my phone number and never thought that your father would still have it after I left him.”
Canderous thanked Alexandra for answering his questions and went off to join the other kids playing video games.
They played games for a few hours before Alexandra shooed Richard to bed and told people to get quiet so that people could get sleep if they wanted or needed sleep.
Canderous wasn’t tired. His mind was dwelling on the divorce again. He stepped out onto the upstairs balcony and just let the tears flow.
“I heard from Natalia that your parents got divorced. I’m sorry,” Alexandra said, stepping out onto the balcony and gave her son a hug.
Canderous put his hands in front of his face and cried.
The next several days went by smoothly. Soon, the family was exchanging presents and opening gifts. “Why do you do this exchange early?” Sion asked.
“Our father doesn’t believe that the spirit of the holiday includes gift giving and has therefore banned it. We do it here when we’re in Monte Vista.”
Canderous slipped off for a moment to go fetch something from his room. Sion wondered what it was. It was then when he noticed someone new in the house. “Greetings, Mr. Stevens,” Sion said, after standing up to greet him politely.
“Finally, Natalia, one of your friends has manners,” Mr. Stevens said, “Honey, what did I say about no gift giving?”
“You said we couldn’t do it as part of the holiday. Today isn’t the holiday and therefore the gift giving isn’t part of the holiday. And I thought you promised to never come to this house?”
“I did, but I have a reason for breaking that promise…” Mr. Stevens started but stopped when he spotted Canderous, “Do you have any siblings, dear?”
“No siblings, why?” Alexandra answered.
“Then why does he look like you?” Mr. Stevens asked, angrily. When Alexandra didn’t answer Mr. Stevens continued, “He’s yours isn’t he? He looks older than Natalia. How old are you boy?”
“Twenty.” Canderous answered, having returned downstairs with a present.
“Richard and I are going to go get fresh air,” Sion said, “Come on, Richard.” Sion knew a fight was about to break out and from personal experience he knew Richard did not need to hear it. Sion guided Richard outside.
“YOU LIED TO ME?!” Mr. Stevens yelled.
“What was I supposed to say? Every offer I got required me to be a virgin. I knew for a fact that his father and his father’s family would not seek me out for any support of any kind. His grandfather drew the hatred of a crime lord and keeping me out of the picture would be safest for all of them. I was a virgin when I woohooed his father and I only woohooed him once. And his father was a virgin at the time. So I knew I did not have any WTD’s. And I knew that those two things were the reasons. You didn’t want to get saddled with a kid that wasn’t yours and you didn’t want any risk of a WTD.”
Mr. Stevens grew angrier but all he said was, “This better not get out. And if it does, so help me, I’ll divorce you in an instant, Alexandra. You have broken your agreement in the prenuptial so I have free reign to divorce you any time I please. Now I was going to take everyone, including the guests, out to dinner to celebrate a promotion I got, but I’m too angry to do that. I’m getting on a plane and heading home, immediately.” He then stormed out of the house.
“I’ll… I’ll be in my room,” Alexandra said, tears going down her face, and she ran off to her room.
Vivian started to follow but Natalia pulled her back, “You know how Mother is.”
Canderous decided to go comfort his mother, Natalia grabbed his arm, and before she could speak, Canderous pulled his arm free and said, “I won’t stay if she truly pushes me away, but I don’t think she truly wants to be alone right now.”
He walked to his mother’s room, knocked, and entered. He saw his mother crying on the bed. “I’m sorry. If I had known…”
“Don’t be sorry, Canderous, I had been wanting for years to tell him but couldn’t ever find out how to bring it up. I didn’t want him to throw the prenuptial in my face like he did. I don’t love him and I never have and I never will, but he’s my kids’ father.”
“So my father is the only person you’ve really loved since you became an adult?”
“Yes. I still love him to some degree. If my husband divorces me, I wouldn’t turn down a second chance with your father. But I’d also understand if he wasn’t willing to take the risk.”
Canderous just let his mother cry into his shoulder for awhile before saying, “Here’s my gift to you.”
“You’re giving me a present under these conditions?”
“I think it will cheer you up.”
Alexandra took the present and opened it. It was a book. The title of the book was: The Life of Canderous Alto Rand.
Alexandra flipped through the book and tears flowed. The book was filled with pictures of Canderous and family as he grew up and short little captions. “Thank you.” She continued to flip the book and when she got to the end she found a letter addressed to her in Atton’s handwriting. “You… you got him to write a letter?”
“I did. I told him I intended to try to find you once I got out of college and I wouldn’t mind having a letter from him to you in response to the letter you wrote him. I haven’t read the letter he gave me.”
Alexandra opened the letter. It read:
I really do not know what to say. I do not regret our relationship. I wouldn’t have the son I have if not for our relationship. But I can’t say it is a relationship I look back on happily. I have, however, forgiven you for your treatment of me during the time we were together.
I hope you were able to adjust to high society life well and that your husband treats you well and that you have wonderful kids.
If you ever need anything, you know where I live.
Alexandra finished reading the letter and cried.
Canderous, Sion, and Asala stayed for a few more days before they each left for their respective homes.