Disclosure: This is my idea that I have sweated, cried and worried over for almost 10 years. So Mine.
Pre-Edit Count – 2,830 Words
Song I listened to for this chapter: Daughters by John Mayer.
Richard stayed and watched this family of his ex-wife falling apart. And while his family was not much better, but then they had been falling apart from the Stroggins for a long time. His youngest brother being the sanest and pulling the rest of the family with him as they distance themselves from the insanity.
He feels for Adam as he watched him holding the newborn, David in his arms. A newborn is not easy to take care of, and out of everyone in this fucked up mess, he understands the feelings of Adam the most. There is just no way for Adam to take care of Stella and David. It will take the help of his family and Dianna’s to pull off raising David.
No, it is to Dianna’s family is who reason for most of his anger. He cannot believe that they lost Stella for an entire day and no one realized it. He wonders what would have happened if Mark had not asked where Stella was. He also wonders if Dianna would have survived, what would have become of Stella?
Dianna had not been the most put together person out there. He had been relieved when he found that she had gone home. He had been most surprised when she remarried, but then, with her mother, she would have been one way or the other. It is not done to divorce your husband. Nope. Nor is a woman to have a life without a man in it.
But Adam had been ideal for Dianna, he made enough to allow her to do what she wanted. And she needed it. If she had been alone, well he knows that Stella would have raised her mother. What kind of life would that have been like for her? For her self-esteem?
The worst part is that Richard doubts that anything would have changed unless it had been this drastic. The matriarch of Stroggins family would have made sure Stella stayed with her mother. And no one would have questioned her. Certainly not him who believed daughters should be raised by their mothers.
But now, he, a confirmed bachelor, will be a single father. He will need to learn to cook, clean and the rest of the household duties. And he rubs his hands over his face as he thinks about the changes he will need to do to make sure his daughter is firmly encompassed into his life. And ensured of his love.
He had already arranged for someone to come in and clean house for the two of them. As much as he would like to say that he could do it all when it comes between time with his daughter, and time spent trying to keep up a house, well, he would rather spend the time with his daughter. The death of Dianna taught him that time was finite, and he will be good to his daughter.
He will also be taking lessons on cooking. The lady whom he contacted to clean house for him, agreed to teach him how to cook, and the wives of his friends also decided to help. He may not know much, but a steady diet on the Diner and pizza just doesn’t seem it would be good for her.
No, he is starting to see raising Stella is going to be more than he ever gave thought to. And it ashamed him. He would have been one of those distant fathers. How would that have affected Stella?
He is also making plans to see if she will need help with a therapist for dealing with this upheaval. Nothing is too much for his daughter.
The last thing he will need to take care of is making sure Stella is taken care of if something happens to him. But here he has a problem. Richard has no one he thinks would take care of his little girl. And now that this is an issue for her and his family to take care of Stella to the point he had to step in, well it isn’t something he is looking forward to.
Looking down at his little girl, he sees her playing with the pendant that she had received as a baby. His eyes narrow in thought. Even that stranger had done more for his little girl than her family when she was born. He sent something to commemorate her birth. Something he has kept up with, buying her a new charm each year. But now he flinches with the realization that had not that stranger done that, he wouldn’t have thought of it.
No, it is bad when a complete stranger would be better for her than her family.
His attention is brought back to the funeral, holding Stella close as the preacher closes the ceremony. Stella had been quiet all day, only fingering the pendant when it seemed to be too much for her.
Then a flash of anger vibrates through him as he watches her grandmother give her a rose to put on her mother’s grave. The touch is right for an older child, but not a four-year-old! But he didn’t want to make the moment worse and picked her up. He will be there for her, he slowly walks to the grave. And giving her a kiss on her forehead, watches as she drops the rose onto the coffin. He holds her closer as he hears her say, “Bye-bye Mommy. I sorry.”
He glares over her head at the matriarch and takes Stella out of the area. They have all heard the little girl blame herself for Dianna’s death over the last couple of days. He had corrected her each and every time. Telling her it had nothing to do with her. An accident was made, and it took away her mommy. Nothing Stella did could have caused the circumstance to change.
And truly there was nothing. If Stella had been in the room, she wouldn’t have known what was going on. No one would have unless it were another medical personnel.
But Stella persists on blaming herself, and that is why he is thinking of a therapist.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a black raven watching the two of them, the only thing making it stand out in his mind is the blue eyes.
The following day, no matter how much Richard didn’t want to, he had to leave Stella with his father and brother. But Mark swore for the couple of days that Richard is gone, she will be safe and cared for. Then he reminded his brother that the worst may be from their father feeding her black licorice. That had made Richard laugh.
His father had wanted to see his granddaughter walk. So he put out bowls of her favorite candy that was not the favorite of her uncles and the rest of the family. But himself.
But he would watch with bright eyes as she would sniff and then look at him. Then the sly grin, and she would crawl to the bowls. And get her reward of one piece.
Then as she got older, he put them higher, and Stella would rise to the occasion. She would slowly, walk to the end table that each had a bowl, and eat the one licorice in each.
And this was not the black licorice that you buy at the store, no a friend of his made this out of his wife’s recipe. So it was very fresh. She would come home with black teeth, and just giggle.
So Mark promised to make sure she will not be on a sugar high the entire time. And Richard nodded, knowing that when he got her, it will take days if not weeks to get her off the sugar high. But that is what a grandfather and godfather/uncle do. Spoil the princess of the family.
And Stella is the little princess of the King family. As she told him when she got older, she had received a bear that called her exactly that from THE family in Pittsburgh. Afanasi Kaschei had met her one day when she had been at his father’s fire station. He had fallen in love with the little girl, remarking that she reminded him of his own Gwen.
It had shocked the King’s. But Richard would not be surprised to find out that a lot of the strange things that had befallen their family would be from being the benefactor of the Kaschei family. And as anyone in Pittsburgh knows, if one of the family approves of them, things fall to the good side of life to them. No one will cross anyone who had received the stamp of approval from that family.
And every so often, gifts would show up for the Princess of the Kings. That was her name from him, and it stuck. Except for her Uncle, he called her kitten. He said she reminded him of one, and to be truthful, Merlin the cat had been a gift from him.
Richard smiles as he walks into his home in Kingston. Yes, his life will be different with a little girl, a dog, and a kitten. He wonders how many times one would chase the others. With that, he shrugs off his jacket, and with a look at the clock, knows that he will be receiving the help he had been promised from the station and the surrounding Townships in getting his home ready for his daughter to come home.
Afanasi sat in his chair, watching the children playing in the yard below him. “Is she doing any better?”
Armando is sitting in a chair with his legs kicked up and resting on the desk in front of him as he swallows another mouthful of scotch. “No. She is still blaming herself. And from what I gathered from Richard before he left, he is worried about her. He also is concerned if something happens to him.” He snorts.
Afanasi turns in the chair and raises an eyebrow.
Armando smirks at him, “According to Richard, I would be a preferred solution to being a guardian than any of his family or Dianna’s.”
With a shake of his head, Afanasi nods his head in agreement. “Why haven’t you taken her from them?”
With an odd look to his face, Armando tells him, “I am not set up to care for her in the way she needs. I cannot raise my Mate. Spoil her, adore her, making her the center of my universe, yes. I can do all of that and have done so as well as I can. But raise her to have the strength to survive in this world of ours? Particularly with these False Ones making their appearance. No, I want her to have a healthy life, and to be a strong woman when I come in and will swipe her off her feet. She will be my dark princess.”
Afanasi stares at the young man in front of him and then shakes his head. “I can’t stand not being part of Gwen’s life.”
Armando raises an eyebrow. “Oh, I am part of Stella’s life. When she moves to Kingston, I will be there with her. I just won’t allow her to see me, nor allow her family to remember my interference. I know my weaknesses, Nash. And Stella is my biggest and my strength. I can understand how you want Gwen close. But like I said. Let her parents have her to teach her right from wrong and do the hard parts of parenting. Or I shall say let her father do that part.”
Nodding he stares at him. “You still want to introduce Stella to…”
Nodding, he sits up and leans forward. “Everything is ready. Stella will be upgraded to first class, and she will be there. They will make sure that Richard and everyone, including Stella will consider her as family. In case anything happens, that will be the end of her with humans. She will need to be protected, and they both have already fell in love with her.”
Leaning forward to his desk, he looks up to Armando, “Are you ready to discuss business? If you are going to be in Michigan, I want you to take care of some things for me.”
Armando smirks as he finishes off his scotch. “I’m always ready. What do you have for me?”
The two creatures of the night, work to make sure plans are ready for humans to be ready for them to reveal themselves in the future. All the while, both of them paying attention to the sound of children playing in the yard, and one of them concentrating on his bond with his little mate, getting ready to move in with her father tomorrow.
The following day, Stella is standing in a busy airport, standing beside the crate that holds Noel in it as she furiously barks at anyone who gets too close to her mistress. Merlin’s crate is in her uncle’s hand as is her hand. She is shyly looking up as her uncle is checking her in.
“Oh!” The pretty lady says surprised. She looks up at the handsome young man in front of her and tells him, “She has been upgraded to first class.”
He looks down at his niece and shrugs. Things like this have happened since she gained Kaschei’s attention. He looks back up, “Does this mean anything different for her?”
The lady reads her screen, and she tells him, “One of the animals can be in the cabin with her. The other we will see if the person who sits next to her will mind the animal. Other than her boarding first, which she will anyways as an unaccompanied minor, there will not be much of a difference. Let me print out her new boarding pass and have you fill out the information, and I will let you guys head on back to the gate. Will you need help with the animals?”
Mark just shakes his head, bemused in spite of himself. Stella has no idea how much of a charmed life she leads. Then his smile fell away as he remembers why she is here. No, having first class won’t make a speck of difference in her life, not right now.
Soon, the two are heading to the gate, Stella carrying her kitten’s crate with both hands as Mark carries Noel, her miniature schnauzer. He offered to take Merlin, but Stella has been adamant that she can carry the tiny kitten’s crate. He had grinned, and walks beside her, knowing that once Stella has set her mind on something, she usually achieves it.
They are soon at their gate, and Mark makes his way up to the desk, letting them know that they were there. After watching her uncle talking to the lady for a little bit, Stella clues out, staring out the window at the big silver airplane that would be taking her to her father. Then she is startled out of her thoughts as a very pretty lady makes her way over to them.
Natasha stares at the tiny human child in front of her. She and her husband had come at the request of Armando and Afanasi to see the child earlier. Both of them had fallen in love with the child and agreed to the plan to have them be her surrogate parents in case something happens to Richard.
Without a thought to her clothing, she drops to her knees in front of the adorable child. “Oh my, are you not adorable!!”
Stella blushes and says, “Hello.”
Natasha blinks then tells her, “Oh! You are adorable too!! I was talking to your kitty there.”
Not able to help herself, Stella laughs. “He is a pretty kitty. He’s my Christmas present.”
Grinning at her, she looks up at the adult holding her hand. She extends her hand to him to shake, “Hi! My name is Natasha. I guess that you two, well, four, are the reason they called me up here?”
Mark grins at her. “My niece is traveling by herself. They said if the person next to her is willing, she can have both of her pets with her.”
Looking shocked that they had to ask, “Of course! I wouldn’t mind at all. Now, who gets to travel with me, the adorable little girl or the dog?”
Stella giggles softly. “The dog. Her name is Noel.”
Sighing, Natasha looks to the dog and unseen by the humans, her eyes shine and she smiles at Noel. Noel sat down and grinned. Armando had made sure that the animals knew their jobs, and who Natasha and her husband are.
Mark shakes his head. “Noel never is calm for anyone but Stella.”
Natasha grins up at him, but her eyes are drawn back to this little girl in front of her. “So we will be seat buddies?”
Stella nods. “You sure are pretty, Lady.”
Grinning at the frank openness of the child, Natasha asks, “Is that my name now?”
Looking down and her toe rubbing on the carpet. She nods.
Natasha’s smile gets wider. “I don’t think I have ever been given a name before. I like it!”
With that Stella grins. And it is the start of a wonderful relationship.
Final count, 2,932 words.