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He laughed. “Very true.” Then he seemed lost in thought. He opened his mouth and closed it a few times before continuing. “Did your mother ever tell you about me? Did you ever question what you were?”
I shook my head. “No. I never questioned I wasn’t human, because I didn’t know anything different.” I still needed to talk to my mom. There were so many things I needed to say and ask.
“I see.” He turned back to the window. “Do you want a relationship with me?”
“Are you really asking that?”
“Is it not an appropriate question? From your tone, I think I can guess the answer.”
“Yes.” The answer came out suddenly, and it wasn’t the one I expected to give.
He turned to me. “Really? You want to know me?”
“Yes. I want to know more about you.” The reality hit me hard. As much as I wanted to turn my back on the Pteron world, and the Laurents, I needed to know more about the man who was 50% responsible for making me.
“After the wedding, I’ll give you all the time in the world.”
“So you want to know me?” I finally admitted my own doubts.
“I’ve always wanted a daughter.”
“Oh.” Was he just saying that? Did he really mean it?
“And I like your personality. I know Jared and Hailey have volunteered to work with you, but I’m going to do some myself.”
Jared volunteered to help me? Not exactly. “Did you teach Levi everything about being a Pteron?”
“No.” He wrung his hands. “I thought my other work was more important. I view it as one of my greatest mistakes.”
“The other one is obvious, isn’t it?”
My chest clenched. Was he going to say fathering me?
“Not making more of an effort to find you.” He cleared his throat. “Levi may have been raised in my house, but I wasn’t much of a father to him either. I took my anger out on him. He turned into a good man, but I can’t take any credit for it.”
What was happening? Why was this strong man revealing his deepest regrets to me?
“But there’s still time. With both of you.” He almost looked hopeful.
“Are you getting serious with that Blackwell?”
I told him the truth. “Yes.”
“Okay.” He looked back outside.
“Okay? Is that all you have to say?”
“I don’t know him well, but I understand he helped save Allie. He can’t be too bad of a guy then.”
“What about us both being Pterons?”
“Am I really one who has the right to harp on following rules?” The guilt behind his eyes was nearly shattering.
“Why did you do it?” The question slipped off my tongue without giving it enough thought.
“I don’t know. I don’t even remember it.”
“What?” I stepped back. “How is that possible?”
“I went to upstate New York to investigate a dispute between a bear clan and a wolf pack and the next thing I knew, I was back in New Orleans. I blacked out at least twenty-four hours of my life.”
“How? Were you drugged?”
“I don’t know. All I do know is I got a picture of a baby girl and a paternity test sent to me a year later. I spent three years trying to find you before I gave up.”
“But you knew about me? You knew about me all these years?”
“Did Helen?” I’d already opened up his wounds.
“Yes. I didn’t understand what happened and needed her help.”
“Did she believe you?” I thought of the sweet and gentle woman I’d just spoken to.
“Yes. She knew I wouldn’t have betrayed her or forfeited the crown.”
“I spent years waiting for everything to come crumbling down. Then I figured it out.”
“Allie? All that Enchantress stuff?”
“Exactly. Levi nearly ran away with all the pressure I put on him. Like I said, I took out my anger on him.” He straightened. “You were probably better off being raised by someone else. Maybe he was a better man.”
“I’m glad I’ll get a chance to get to know you now, but first, it’s time to watch your son get married.”
“Shall we?” He held a hand out toward the door. “Mother, I believe you can have your men open the door.”
“Have you said all you need to?” Georgina called.
“Yes,” I answered quickly. “And we’re going to talk more soon.”
The door flew open. “Good, because they need us for pictures immediately.”
“We wouldn’t want to keep them waiting.” Robert winked.
I’d almost said the same thing.
Allie glowed. She actually glowed as she walked down the aisle on her father’s arm. Casey smiled at me as I watched Allie glide past and take her place up front. I returned the smile. Casey didn’t need to worry about my feelings that day. I was with exactly the girl I needed to be with.
I’d never been to a beachside wedding before. Allie, Levi, and their attendants stood on the sand under a white archway decorated with tropical flowers. Rows of white chairs accented with large ruby red bows lined the sand on either side of the aisle. A flute and cello played the familiar melody of Variations on a Theme.
It was simple and elegant, and fit Allie perfectly. The only thing that would have made it more enjoyable would have been Casey sitting next to me, but at least I got to watch her looking irresistible in that dress. Her slight tan fit her well. She seemed more relaxed than she’d been when we parted a few hours before.
Casey and I had so much in common, and we were finally settling into something resembling a relationship. I would kill the next person who screwed with us. Casey had been through too much. No one was bothering her or taking her away from me again. Of course, my biggest enemy in keeping her by my side might actually be Casey herself. She was happy with me, but I worried she was still holding back. I knew there was more she still needed to tell me, but I’d wait until we found her sister first.
Casey seemed to tear up as she listened to the ceremony, but I tuned most of it out. I was too busy watching Casey.
I zoned back in when I heard them start the vows. “Do you, Allison Davis, take Leviathan Laurent as your lawfully wedded husband?” the officiant asked.