Darius finished getting dressed as Arabella worked on getting their four young children fed and dressed and ready to go.
He unknotted his bow tie and tried again to make it come out straight.
“Eduardo!” Arabella launched into a long Spanish-filled speech as she led her four-year-old son back to his bedroom.
“But, Mama! I din’t do it!”
Darius stopped and listened to the sounds of his household.
Arabella’s fluid Spanish.
Eduardo’s childish declarations of innocence.
His three other children all yelping and yelling and laughing and running amuck.
It’s a ruckus.
But oh! What a glorious sound. My children. My wife. A splendid tangle of noise and life. They are why I hunt vampires. They are the ones I most want to protect and I will protect. Even if it means getting another facial scar and another blood transfusion.
Even if it means leaving them so I can undergo further training with Master Shinowa.
Darius walked out into the adobe arched hall with his bare feet and half-done bow tie. He followed Arabella’s voice to the children’s shared bedroom and stopped in the doorway.
Arabella continued to scold Eduardo as she dressed him.
I’m being a sentimental sop, but I love this. I love my family, my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
“And you are done.” She looked over at her husband. “Darius.”
Her voice saying his name was a magic spell. It compelled him to come forward and he didn’t resist.
She stood and completed his bow tie.
“Thanks.” He kissed her. “You know what? Given a choice, I would gladly marry you again.”
“And I you, mi corazon.” She walked behind him.
He closed his eyes as she took his hair down and ruffled it into a semblance of order. “I love it when you fuss over me like this. It’s relaxing.” He chuckled. “I know it’s a silly thing to say.”
“Not at all. I understand.” She wrapped the top half of his ponytail in a ribbon and tied it in a bow. “I love it when you do the same to me.”
He turned around to face her. “When we get back home, we should—”
“Moooooom!” Emeren, their seven-year-old,, marched into the bedroom. “Rudy’s trying to eat his bow tie again!”
Eduardo charged at his older brother, barking like a small Pomeranian.
“Stop it! Moooooom, Ed’s barking again!”
“Eduardo!” Arabella kissed her husband. “Go get your shoes on. I’ll rescue Rudy.”
He regarded her with simple wonder.
After all of these years we’ve been together, she is still the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.
How did I get so lucky?
“Moooom! Make him stop barking!”
“Don’t worry, Ara. I got it. Take care of Rudy.” Darius grinned and swooped his son up into the air.
The little boy shrieked with delight.
“Good. He stopped barking.” Emeren followed his mother out of the room.
“HA-hahahahahaha! At last, I have you in my clutches!”
“I shall take you to my lair.” He tucked the four-year-old in the crook of his arm as if he were a non-regulation sized football. “Arr! To my lair we go!”
“Yay! Lair! Lair! Lair!” Eduardo happily kicked his feet.
As Darius returned to his room, his thoughts turned to his weapon choices.
I want to bring my usual DevilsDare weapon to the wedding, but it’s still being repaired. I should bring my flamethrower.
Wouldn’t that be a sight? But I’ll go with the DevilsDare ShooDarter. That one’s in good shape and it has a nice holster to put it in.
He entered his room and twirled his son into the air.
They both laughed out loud.
It’s so good to be home again.