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Girl Talk

 
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Marissa
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 25 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:03 pm    Post subject: Girl Talk Reply with quote

Four months pregnant. Marissa could hardly believe it, even as her body was changing shape. Though she couldn't feel the baby growing inside her yet, the proof was irrevocable. There was no real cause to believe anything might be wrong, but she was still worried. It wasn't Emrys' bloodline that worried her so much as her own, though she'd had a hard time explaining it all to him and had left the more confusing elements of her history out. She could have chosen to live a life of luxury, but instead, she had chosen a simple life with simple pleasures. Uncomplicated. For the most part, she was happy with the choices she'd made, well aware of the choices that some of the other Marissas had made in other timelines and realities. She hoped that some of them had found some measure of happiness, but none of them had found anyone like Emrys. As much as she wanted to share everything with him, there were some things a woman needed to do on her own, some things that would only confuse and upset him. Though she may not have explained everything, she had not kept any secrets from him. Not really, but now that she was with child, she needed to make sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that the child or children growing inside her were healthy before it was too late.

There were a number of ways she could accomplish that, either through magic or mystical means or by way of technology. Rhy'Din had its share of healers and midwives and doctors, and then, there was the tribe with its shamans and medicine women; but Marissa rejected them all in favor of the kind of technology that was only available at the Spaceport. It would be expensive, to be sure, but the cost would be worth it to make sure her children were healthy. And so, she asked Demeter to accompany her, knowing that the sights and sounds of the Spaceport would only shock and confuse Emrys. It was a seedy place, but no seedier than some areas of Rhy'Din, so long as one was careful. She had carefully chosen the place where she was going, feeling just a little bit guilty for not taking Emrys with her.

Demeter had been more than happy to come with Marissa, though she was not as frequent a visitor to the Spaceport as others might have assumed. What need did a 'shifter have for the superior technology available here, after all? Still, warned ahead of time, she had dressed to fit in reasonably well, more than capable of protecting both herself and Marissa if it became necessary.

This was a place where Emrys would have experienced culture shock; where people from all across the Nexus converged. It was a dangerous place, too, but Marissa knew it well enough to take all the proper precautions, and she had made sure Demi was prepared likewise; but if there was anyone in whose company she felt safe, it was that of the white tiger. Asked to wait outside while Marissa endured some poking and prodding for the sake of her child, Demi was witness to some interesting views. While Rhy'Din City struggled with the rights of humans and non-humans, it seemed the Spaceport was teeming with a variety of races, some of whom were rarely seen outside the Spaceport. Rhy'Din's so-called diversity was nothing compared to the Spaceport.

It was certainly an experience to be flirted with by a two-foot fruit bat with only stumps for wings and the dirtiest laugh she'd ever encountered, but Demi found that little fellow more amusing that anything. She was subconsciously on guard, however, and that brought out one troublemaker who just wanted a good fight. Apparently she was too clean, too well dressed, too human-looking. Just too everything for this one. He wasn't exactly an oil painting himself, and he smelled worse. A carrion-feeder, she determined with one delicate sniff in his direction, adjusting her stance as he threw a fist in her direction. Sighing, she caught his fist, twisting his arm up behind his back until she felt something snap. Her other hand wrapped about his gnarled face, nails extending into claws as she growled into his ear. Whatever passed between them was enough to send him lurching away, whimpering at the pain in his shoulder, as Demeter resumed her lean against the wall. No one else bothered her after that.

Thankfully, neither Neville nor Emrys was there to witness any of this nor were they likely to find out. Marissa was cautious, taking most of what she saw here in stride. It was nothing new to her, after all, though the trip to the Spaceport was nothing more than a necessary evil today. She had no intention of visiting it again, for more reasons than she had bothered to share. It wasn't long after Demi's encounter with the alien that Marissa exited the clinic, a relieved expression on her face quickly glimpsed before she drew the cowl of her cloak back up over her head.

"Did you have any trouble?" she asked as she rejoined her friend.

And being what they were, there was no need to even glance at one another as Demi pushed out of her lean. She knew Marissa by scent alone these days. "All done?" she asked, apparently to the street at large. Her lips curved in a laughing smirk at Marissa's question. "Apparently I have just the right hips for a Zoronian to suckle, and there's a bottom-dweller seriously rethinking his life choices somewhere around here, too. But trouble? Nah."

"Scumbags," Marissa muttered, not having to ask what a Zoronian was or what the so-called bottom dweller wanted. "Sorry about that," she apologized, as though it was her fault somehow, but she had deemed Demi capable of taking care of herself. They were alike in that way, anyway.

"Oh, don't be." Demi smiled. "I quite enjoyed it. I haven't had much opportunity to be properly scary for a while, I'd forgotten how much fun it is." She flashed Marissa a grin. "Where to now?"

"This place is weird. Emrys would hate it," she said, taking hold of Demi's arm. Let people think what they wanted - that they were lovers or sisters or friends - Marissa didn't much care. "I know this place ... Best burgers on Rhy'Din. A little seedy, but ..." She shrugged her shoulders, as if it was nothing they couldn't handle. Who really wanted to piss off a pair of weretigers, after all?

"Emrys would have left a trail of bodies behind him by now," Demi agreed. "Neville wouldn't have been much better, either." She let Marissa take her arm, falling into step beside the younger woman easily. Seedy didn't bother her, despite her usual outward appearance of preferring the finer things. She had been raised by a pirate, after all. "Oooh, red meat. You're spoiling me."

"Why do you think I didn't bring him?" Marissa asked, not expecting an answer. "So long as you don't mind not having to hunt it down first," Marissa remarked with a smirk. They had hunted together on occasion, a natural bond growing between the two women, as tigers amidst a small pack of wolves. She led Demi away from the clinic, down a street paved with shops, not unlike that of the Marketplace. It wasn't the seediest part of town, but it wasn't exactly tame either, the smell of broiled burgers leading them to a bar and grill that was only just a little less seedy than the infamous Stars End.

Inside the decor was less than cozy, but it was the smell of the burgers that had drawn them here. She ignored the looks they received from those already there, leading Demi to a small corner booth where they had a clear view of the entrance and a quick escape route out the back. They ordered lunch without incident and settled in with a wary eye for those around them.

"It's probably silly of me to have come here when I could have just gone to Rhy'Din Hospital," Marissa mused aloud. "Emrys would have a cow if he knew what this place is like."

Demi had deliberately sat herself with her back to the back exit; of the two of them, Marissa was the more precious if anything untoward should happen, though she was more than capable of looking after herself. The comment on the general hospital made her smile faintly. "They're good enough, if you're human or mostly human," she shrugged one shoulder. "But there's a reason most of the non-humans have their own clinics and healers. If this is where you can get the answers you need, this is where you come. And I promise not to tell Emrys or Neville about how rough it is."
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Marissa
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I'm probably too much like my mother for my own good," Marissa remarked offhandedly, referring to her birth mother, not the mother who had raised her. "She loved this place, or so I'm told. I can kind of see why. There's a certain ... excitement to it, isn't there?"

Demi's brow rose curiously at the mention of Marissa's mother. "I used to love making planet-fall with Roland," she offered in return. "I don't think we ever landed anywhere there wasn't a fight going on." She laughed, shaking her head. "It seems as though you and I have more in common than we first thought."

"Roland?" Marissa echoed, crossing her arms against the table as she leaned forward, curiously and eagerly waiting to hear more of the story. She'd felt a connection to Demi right from the start, but had always attributed it to the fact that they were both tigers. Could it be they had more in common than that?

Demi chuckled at the eagerness in her companion to hear the story. "After my pride rejected me, I was taken in by a pack of wolves," she explained. "And when I was old enough, they sold me to Roland. He was a pirate - a Han Solo type, you know? Always out for himself, but he was loyal to the people he considered to be his family. When I hit puberty and started shifting, he started taking me on trips with him. Apparently there are quite a few aliens out there who don't know how to react when the little girl they thought was in irons suddenly turns into a tiger and killing everyone."

"Oh!" Marissa exclaimed, sitting back in her chair at her friend's story, which was a little too much like a confession. She wondered how much of this Neville knew, but then Emrys didn't know all of Marissa's secrets either. "They sold you ... like a slave?" she asked, wondering what Demi's relationship with this Roland might have been like. Was he a friend, lover, father figure, or did he merely use her for his own purposes?

"Not really." Demi shook her head with a smile. "They couldn't afford to keep me, and they were running out of supplies themselves. Roland offered to take me with him as payment for the shipment he'd liberated for them, and they didn't argue. He made sure I got a good education, but he did make use of me. He's the one who recommended I go to Earth when we parted ways; said it would suit me better, and less people would be inclined to look for me there."

"What kind of people?" Marissa asked, wanting to know more. She had not realized before what kind of background Demi had come from; she had more in common with Marissa's birth mother, it seemed, than with Marissa in many ways.

"People I pissed off," the other woman said mildly. "Neville doesn't know anything about this, but uh ... Well, I may have blown up a space station during a hasty exit once, and the corporation that owned it wasn't that happy with the loss. I had a bounty on my head for a while."

"For a while?" Marissa echoed again. Bounties didn't usually go away, until they were paid, one way or another. "Rhy'Din is a good place to blend, I guess. So, you're originally from Rhy'Din, then?" she asked further.

"As far as I know, yes," Demi nodded. "I know the wolf pack hugged the mountains near Yasuo; not sure where my pride ranged. As for the bounty ... I was off the radar for almost fifteen years, and this is the first time I've stepped into the Spaceport since I got back to Rhy'Din. With luck, it's turned cold. If it hasn't ... I guess I'll have to go and have a word with the CEO."

"I doubt you have to worry. Anyway, we won't be here long," Marissa assured her. They could have been gone already if the smell of grilled burgers hadn't drawn them here. "Have you and Neville talked about having children?" she asked abruptly, out of the blue, completely changing the subject.

It was worth the risk, in Demi's mind. And speaking of burgers, here they were. Leaning back as they were served, she waited until they were in relative privacy once again before speaking. "We have, actually," she admitted. "It's something we'll have to plan, though. I won't be able to shift while I'm pregnant - it's weird, but if I do, there's a chance that we could end up with human-shaped and cat-shaped, and they'll all develop at different speeds. It doesn't seem fair to do that to them."

Marissa frowned thoughtfully. Whether they were both tigers or not, their physiology was different. Marissa could shift without having to worry too much about the safety of her children, but it was more mystical than physical, as far as she knew. Still, she was reluctant to shift while pregnant, for fear some harm might come to her children. "There are two of them," she confessed, allowing Demi to be the first to know, before she'd even had a chance to share that news with Emrys.

Demi's face lit up in a warm smile as she leaned closer, reaching over the table to touch her friend's hand gently. "Good," she said, her voice reflecting the warmth of her smile. "You'll have a litter of your own. And you won't worry about doing this again, with two this first time."

"I do nothing but worry lately, it seems," Marissa confessed with a further frown, comforted by Demi's understanding and friendship. "Am I doing the right thing? Are Emrys and I ready to be parents? It's such a big responsibility, raising children, and I don't ..." She trailed off, uncertain she wanted to follow that train of thought. "I know I'm an adult now. I need to get on with my life, but I'm scared."

"You know, humans worry like that all the time," Demi offered, hoping she could help. "I have never met a new parent, of any species, who did not worry that they might not have done the right thing, that they weren't ready for the responsibility. I don't anyone is ever ready to have children. It's something you grow into, and it's easier when you have a partner to lean on. You and Emrys have this, I'm certain of it, and you're not alone."

"I know," Marissa replied, knowing Demi was right, but it was a little more complicated than that, at least for her. "It's just ... I don't know ..." She sighed, her gaze drifting to the window and the view outside the bar. "I received a letter the other day, from someone I care about. She's not my mother. She's not even my foster mother. I know she's going through some stuff of her own right now, but ..." She turned back to Demi with a hint of some sadness in her eyes. "I know she's out there somewhere. My mother. Both my mothers. I'd give just about anything to have them back, but I can't. I can't do that. I can't mess with the natural order of things. Not anymore."

Demi was silent for a moment, watching her friend thoughtfully. "This may not be what you want to hear, but ... you do have your mothers with you," she said softly. "Not physically, perhaps, but they're always with you. They're a part of you. The memories you made with them, the little voices in your head that offer their opinion on whatever you choose to do, the habits and skills they taught you ... It isn't the same, I know, but they're still here, Marissa. Without them, you wouldn't be you."
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Marissa
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"One of them, maybe," Marissa admitted, but as far as her birth mother, well, she had never met the woman. She did have her journals though, and she had read them so many times she almost felt as if she'd known her. "I've often wondered what she would think of me. Would she be proud of how I turned out? Would she like Emrys? Would she be happy for us?" Marissa tugged on a chain that she wore around her neck and pulled out a small pendant in the shape of a pair of hands clasping a heart. "It's just like the one my mother used to wear," she explained. "It was a gift from ..." Now that was hard to explain. What was it someone had once told her? Family wasn't only about those who shared your blood.

"You know people who knew her," Demi pointed out. "Do they say she would have been proud of you? You can trust them, if they love you, to be honest with you. I know it's hard, but it can help." Her eyes flickered to the pendant Marissa showed her, curious and enchanted by it all at once. "It's lovely," she complimented the piece without dishonesty. "A sweet part of her to keep."

Sometimes thoughts and memories got muddled in Marissa's mind, crowded out by the thoughts and memories of all those other Marissas whose lives she touched, and yet, in all her travels, she had never dared tempt Fate by searching out her own mother. She closed her fingers around the pendant a moment before tucking it safely back beneath her shirt. "I've found so many things of hers around the cabin. When I first went to live there, I could almost smell her scent still lingering there, even after so many years."

"Things you can pass on to your children," Demi suggested gently, swallowing a mouthful of what was, admittedly, the best burger she'd had in a very long time. "You're lucky to have such things, Marissa. You can build a storybook picture of her for the next generation."

She wasn't sure about Demi's mother and she didn't want to cause her friend pain by dwelling too much on the subject of mothers, but she was right and Marissa was luckier than most to have had three mothers in her life - one who had birthed her, one who had raised her, and one who still loved her as a daughter of her heart. "I'm sorry. I don't know what's gotten into me. All this talk about motherhood has me thinking about my own mothers. I just ... miss them, I guess," she tried to explain with a shrug, as if it was nothing.

"Of course you do," Demi agreed in her gentle way. "You're becoming a mother yourself, of course you're going to think of them more often. But you haven't lost them. They're in you, and they'll be in your children through you."

"I know," Marissa admitted quietly, feeling suddenly guilty for laying all this on her friend. "Well, at least I know they're healthy. That's a relief," she told her, pushing past the subject of mothers, past and present. She took up her burger at last and took a bite, moaning in ecstasy at the taste of it. "Told you - best burgers in Rhy'Din."

Demeter chuckled at the sheer pleasure rolling off her friend. "I'm not arguing," she agreed cheerfully. "So you know there are two, that they're healthy. What else did you scan for, I'm curious. And you can tell me to mind my own business, I can take it."

A smile tugged at Marissa's lips a moment, as if she had a wonderful secret she was keeping all for herself. "Well, you can't expect me to tell you everything before I tell Emrys, can you?" she teased her friend, eyes dancing with unexpected playfulness.

"Oh, so you know what sex they are as well, then," Demi laughed, glad to see her friend brightening up. "Very exciting. And I do solemnly swear not to tease your mate too much when I deliver you back to him. Only a little bit. And only because he seems to be scared of me, and it's just too funny."

"I don't think he's afraid of you, so much as he's wary. He's been alone for too long, Demi," Marissa explained with that small worried frown again. Emrys had, in fact, made great strides since she'd first met him. The fact that he had been reunited with his sister had helped. He was part of a pack again - a strange pack that included three tigers among them. "It's been a long time since he's been part of a ... a family," she said, understanding that kind of loneliness from her own experiences, though her own exile had been a self-imposed one.

"Marissa ... he's my brother now," Demi pointed out, her smile absolutely without shame. "I reserve the right to tease him mercilessly, and one day, he'll be brave enough to do the same back to me. Try not to worry so much. Life has a way of flipping you back on course, whether you're expecting or not."

"I suppose," Marissa admitted, falling silent to take a few more bites of her burger before it got cold. She could not really speak for Emrys or answer for him, and she was a little nervous about how he'd take the news that they were not only expecting one child, but two. "Do you think he'll mind?" she asked further. "That we're having two, I mean?"

"Hasn't he said anything about it?" Demi asked her in return. "Most 'shifters expect more than one. He was one of five, wasn't he? I was one of four. Multiples are more common among 'shifters, especially the wolf and cat varieties. I doubt he'll be unhappy with one, or with several."

"I was the only one," Marissa admitted, though she'd had brothers and sisters that had been born after her in other litters. "Emrys doesn't seem to care how many, so long as they're healthy, and neither do I." She sighed a moment, that thoughtful frown on her face again, as if she was unsure just how much to share with the other woman. "You can't imagine how relieved I am to know that things are moving along normally."

Demi's smile softened. "No, I probably can't," she agreed. "But I can celebrate with you. That's what sisters do, right?" She toasted Marissa with what was left of her burger, winking mischievously.

"Sisters?" Marissa found herself echoing her companion again. From the look on her face, it was obvious that Marissa had not been expecting that.

The dark haired head opposite her tilted curiously. "Of course we're sisters," she said, her tone as matter-of-fact as it could get. "Even if we were not related via a very convoluted set of marriages and matings, we've formed a pride, a pack of our own. I would kill and die for you. You are a reflection of me, a part of what makes my home mine."

"Oh, please ... Don't say that," Marissa said, reaching forward to grasp Demi's hand. She didn't want anyone to kill or die for her, even if it was a well-meaning thought. "I didn't bring you here for protection, Demi. I brought you with me because ..." Why had she asked the other woman to join her? "Because I didn't want to do this alone," she admitted, and she hadn't wanted to bring Emrys for fear he wouldn't be able to handle culture shock of the place.
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Marissa
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I know you didn't bring me for protection," Demi assured her, squeezing her hand. "But that's how I feel about my family. I lost three families before I found Neville, and through him, I have a family that means more to me than I could ever have imagined it might. I'm not saying I'm about to go on a killing spree if you skin your knee, but if you are ever threatened, I will stand with you to the bitter end, without question. That's what family is, to me." She smiled gently, squeezing Marissa's hand once more. "Like I said, never alone."

What could she possibly say to that? It was not only a promise of protection but of kinship. "Thank you, Demi. That means a lot to me, really. I only hope I am worthy of your friendship," Marissa replied, seriously.

"You're worthy of a lot more," Demi told her sincerely. "I'm just stubborn enough to ignore you telling me you're not." She flashed her friend a grin, wiping her mouth as she leaned back in her seat.

"I hear you're a therapist," Marissa found herself saying. "You're not going to send me a bill later, are you?" she teased her friend. Oh, what a field day Demi would had if she ever dug deeper into Marissa's brain.

"Oh!" Demi laughed aloud at that, covering her mouth to muffle the sound as she glanced around. "Yes, I fully expect to be paid in babysitting duties and some of those amazing raspberries you and Emrys produce on your little farm," she told Marissa in amusement.

"Just as well you don't want any bacon," Marissa teased further. It was no big secret that she'd formed an attachment to the pigs she and Emrys had brought to the homestead to raise. What possible use they could have outside of providing food was a mystery, but despite the fact that the pair were both predators, neither seemed able to take them to slaughter. On the other hand, given her condition, Marissa was unlikely to be doing much hunting in the months to come.

"And deprive you of the joy of watching Emrys trying to catch them when they get out of their pen? Never," Demi giggled, shaking her head. "We'll have to come out and camp around you as the weather improves. I have yet to convince Neville that we don't need a tent anymore. He's still a little uncomfortable in his fur."

"Give him time, Demi. He wasn't born to it, like we were." Or like Emrys was. Even Seren, though born with the blood of a wolf, had become able to shift only recently. "I wonder if the children will be tigers or wolves," she wondered aloud, one hand moving protectively to settle against the small swell at her waist.

"Perhaps you'll have one of each," Demi suggested thoughtfully. She had no idea how the biology worked here, simply pleased for her friends that they had been able to conceive at all. It boded well for when she and Neville made their attempt to become parents, at least.

"Perhaps. My parents had some of each, but these two are human," Marissa explained. "I could have chosen to be a wolf, but I chose the tiger instead," she told her further, revealing her history in little bits at a time.

"Out of curiosity, why?" Demi asked the inevitable question. It wasn't that she didn't understand the allure of the tiger - she was one herself, and an apparently rare colouring, too - but more that she wasn't sure why Marissa chose one over the other.

"Honestly? I don't know," Marissa replied, furrowing her brows thoughtfully. "My mother was a tiger. My father was a wolf. I could have chosen either, but when the time came, I just felt more drawn to the tiger. It was almost ... almost as if I let her choose for me, if that makes any sense." She shrugged. "And ... it helps me feel closer to my mother."

"Of course it does," Demi assured her gently. "I wasn't asking to be difficult. I find it genuinely fascinating that you had a choice. If I'd had a choice, I'm not sure whether I would have chosen to be a tiger. But then, tiger or wolf, I would always have been white, and that was enough to see me rejected when I was born."

"Tigers tend to be solitary creatures," Marissa added. "Perhaps that was why I chose it." She puzzled over that a moment before picking up on something Demi had said. "You were rejected because you were white. I have always feared rejection because I am of mixed blood. Wolves and tigers do not usually make good friends, much less mates, but if anyone proved that wrong, it was my parents. And now it seems, Emrys and I are doing the same. Repeating the past, as it were." Marissa fell silent a moment before continuing. "Demi, you are from Rhy'Din ... You know about the Nexus. You know there are countless worlds out there somewhere. You've probably been to some of them. What would you say if I told you that there other dimensions ... other realities ... other times and other places? Other Demis, other Nevilles, other Marissas."

"I'd say ... sounds like a dangerous place to visit," was the white tigress' practical response, and it was not so surprising. Most people who had traveled the stars knew there was universe enough out there without looking at what might have beens as well. She considered Marissa for a long moment. "But that's the edge to your scent, isn't it?" she said thoughtfully. "You have traveled those paths."

"I don't really belong in this time," Marissa admitted, perhaps for the first time to anyone outside her family circle. Even Emrys only knew bits and pieces of her story, mostly because it was too hard to explain and too much for him to understand. "I'm from a few years in the future." Not so many years now that time was catching up with her, and yet, she would always be a few years older than she should be, but not by much. "I have traveled many paths, but I'm content here. Happy even. Emrys is a big part of that."

"If you're happy here, then here is where you should stay," Demi said simply. And it really was as simple as that. For someone who had studied the human psychology, she still tended to look at the world like a tiger. "I knew there was something different in your scent. I didn't like to ask, though."

"That, and my mixed blood," Marissa added, taking a quick look around as if to make sure no one was taking any interest in them. "You said you were rejected because you are different. I know white tigers are rare," she said, the question there but not spoken.

"As far as I know," Demi said carefully, "if you're a wolf born white, it's considered good luck. But we were tigers. I don't know how they knew I'd be white, I was years away from my first shift, but ... they abandoned me when I wasn't more than a few months old. If the wolves hadn't found me, I would have died. They believed that the pride had rejected me because I was white, and none of them were. Who knows what the real reason is?"

"But your parents ..." Marissa said, without finishing, realizing Demi must have never known her birth parents anymore than Marissa had. Marissa, however, knew that her parents had loved her; while it seemed that Demi's had rejected their daughter.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I never had parents," the dark-haired woman said quietly. She had long since come to terms with this. "The people who bore me ... they wouldn't welcome me back, even if I thought to look for them. The wolf pack allow me passage through their lands only because some of them remember me as a child. Roland was the closest thing I had to a father, and he all but abandoned me on Earth. You think you're afraid of being a mother? There's little I want more than to be a mother, but I have no idea what kind of mother I will be. I have no example to look to."

Marissa looked at her friend with compassion and sympathy, sad and even a little bit angry that she had suffered such trials and injustices for something that was no more her fault than was the color of her eyes. "The answer is simple, Demi," Marissa replied without hesitation. "You be the mother you should have had, the one you would have wanted for yourself. That way, I do not think you could ever go wrong."

"We'll see." Demi smiled, years of practise pushing the uncertainty away as she nodded to her friend. "Shall we head back? I'd rather your mate didn't try to disembowel me for keeping you out too long. It might bruise his pride to realize he can't actually beat up a tiger."

Perhaps, Marissa realized, she should take some of her own advice, but she, at least, had people she could look to as examples of good mothering, while Demi might not. She reached across the table again to give her friend's hand a soft squeeze, a warm smile on her face. "I am sure you will make an amazing mother someday, when you are ready," she assured her. How could she not when she made an amazing friend?

"Just as I'm sure you are already an amazing mother," Demi countered fondly, squeezing her hand. "C'mon, before any of these louts decide we're worth trying to rob."

Marissa chuckled a little at her friend's remark. "They can try, but I'm pretty sure they'd be sorry." Her smile softened with fondness for her friend and "sister". "Thank you, Demi. We will have to do this more often. But in a better neighborhood," she added with a smirk.

"Mmm, with clean tables," Demi agreed, daring the owner of the place to disagree even as she flipped him a tip to cover their service and apologise for her comment. "Let's go and put Emrys out of his misery."

Because, make no mistake, Demi intended to see the look on Emrys' face when he found out his mate was expecting two healthy little cub pups. It was worth any amount of discomfort to be able to deliver Marissa safely back into his arms. They fitted together perfectly, and in just a few months, two would be four. That was definitely something to celebrate.
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