Read Changing Fates: A Sons of Satrina Novel (The Sons of Satrina Book 3) Online
Authors: Kristan Belle
Kelton frowned. ‘A romance’? That was stretching it a little. It was a spell induced sleazy one night stand that he sorely regretted the moment he came to his senses. However, the girls didn’t need to know that. Just because he couldn’t stand their mother for what she had done to him, he didn’t have any intention of trying to turn her daughters against her by telling them the truth. He’d rather they think he was a total dog who knocked up their mother and hit the road.
“Do I really need to sit here and listen to this?” Rhian turned her nose up. She had no interest in speaking about it and didn’t care about Kelton or what he was to them. A sperm donor. That was what he was in her mind.
“Yes. You do.” Kelton was trying desperately to keep his temper in check, but it wasn’t easy. Rhian was really pushing his buttons. “I need to talk to you about this. It’s not something we can brush on the carpet. Do you realise how important this is?”
“It’s not important to me. I couldn’t care less either way.” Rhian retorted.
“What do you need to know?” Cala asked gently. At least she seemed more inclined to talk about it rationally and get it all out in the open.
“There’s no sensitive way to put this so I’m just going to say it.” Kelton paused, “I would like for us all to take a DNA test.”
The room was so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop. Cala looked a little crushed and Rhian still continued to look bored and unmoved by the conversation. It was Cala’s reaction that made him keep speaking.
“Please understand that I knew nothing of your existence before you came to the academy.” He looked over to Marion, lost for words. “It was just as much a shock to me as it was to you.”
Marion stood up, moving over to sit in the unoccupied chair in the corner of the room. “It’s a very simple, non-invasive test. I can get the ball rolling now if you’d like.” She didn’t think there was any point in pussy-footing around it anymore. Cala looked upset but Rhian was never going to be very agreeable. If they could get it done while they were both in the room, the easier it would be.
Cala sat up a little straighter, trying to be adult about it. “I understand why you would want to know for sure. I get it.” But, she looked shattered by the request. Kelton couldn’t help that, no matter how sorry he felt for her. He needed to know.
“Well. What are you waiting for? Get on with it, then.” Rhian snapped.
Marion chose to ignore her rudeness and moved forward with the swabs still in sealed bags. She’d already contacted a colleague who would be able to determine the results of the tests.
“Can I go now?” Rhian said as soon as she’d done it, shoving the bag back towards Marion.
Kelton sat back down. “Don’t you want to discuss what will happen when we get the results back?” He had no idea how he wanted to move forward with the situation, any ideas that the girls could give him would have been welcomed. He had no idea how to be a father or what they expected of him.
“Why? What’s the point in that?”
“These results are life changing, Rhian.” Marion said gently. She wasn’t sure if the girl was play-acting or if she really didn’t care. It was a sad situation in any case.
“No. They’re not. I don’t care one way or another. I don’t want a father. I don’t need a father. Especially not you.” Rhian got out of her chair and stormed over to the office door. “Cala? Come on!”
Cala glanced over at Kelton as if she wanted to say something, but Rhian stood tapping her toe, urging her to leave. It was almost like she had an invisible leash around her sister’s neck, keeping her close and under her thumb. Kelton knew that if the tests came back positive, it would be Cala who needed his help the most.
“Cala, please think about it. We are all here for you if you ever need to speak, about anything at all.” Marion tried to reassure her. The poor girl clearly didn’t share the same view as her sister, but didn’t dare speak up. She felt so sorry for her and hoped that Kelton would have a bit more luck talking to her on her own in the future.
The door slammed shut behind them. Marion turned to Kelton and raised an eyebrow. “Well, I think that went well, don’t you?”
“It went as well as I had expected.” Kelton replied ruefully.
“It could have been a lot worse.”
“This is such a mess.” Kelton rubbed a hand over his tired eyes.
“Cala seems like a very sweet girl.”
Kelton nodded. At least out of the two of them, he knew that if the results came back positive, he’d have a shot at getting to know one of them. Rhian was a whole different matter. It was hard to wonder if he even wanted to get to know Rhian. She was too much like her mother. “At least now we have the samples to know for sure.”
“I’ll get those straight over to my friend at the lab. The sooner he has them, the sooner you’ll know the answer.”
“Why don’t you get Sol to drive you over there? It’s a bit icy out there.”
“Good thinking.” Marion waved a hand at him as she left his office. It was obvious that he needed some time to himself to process his thoughts. He had just come face to face with two girls that were possibly his daughters. That was something he hadn’t wanted to face before. Marion didn’t want to push him into something that he wasn’t ready for, but this wasn’t a situation that he could wait around on. They all had to know. Plus, it kept him busy. The busier he was, the less he would fret over Kayleigh. The warriors were all doing as much as they could to find her and him moping around and worrying about it wasn’t going to help anybody.
Kelton welcomed the silence. That had been more than difficult, especially with Rhian being a carbon copy of her mother; stubborn and self-absorbed.
How the hell would he feel if this test came back positive? At the moment, he didn’t even like Rhian. She was a spoilt little princess. How would it feel if she was his daughter? Would he come to love her? Cala was a sweet girl and he could imagine getting on well with her, but as a father? He didn’t know how to do that.
His head was banging and he knew that the horrific pain would persist until the results returned.
His life had turned into a royal mess and he couldn’t see a way out of it. Burying his head into his warrior work wasn’t doing it. Kayleigh and his other problems were playing on his mind constantly.
Kelton slammed down the phone. The goddamn council just weren’t getting the hint.
Since their beloved leader, Bartholomew, died, they were still no closer to appointing a new leader. The council were doing all they could to try and persuade him to take the position, but luckily, they had not pulled any more stupid stunts, like when they insisted on the field exercise for all the trainees. It proved that they were a bunch of pencil pushing pricks who didn’t know the first thing about protecting their community.
He couldn’t even think about something like that at the moment. They were neck deep in training and Kelton’s mind was constantly distracted with thoughts of Kayleigh and the impending paternity test. He wasn’t in any fit state to lead their race. Not that he wanted to, anyway. He’d told the council over and over again that he was happy to remain at his position at the academy and that they’d have to find someone else, but yet they were still badgering him. It was getting ridiculous.
At the moment, with how he was feeling, all they were doing was driving him further away. If they pushed the point too hard, he was going to send them up a shit storm and pull out from the academy. Then they really would be stuck.
Walking through the mansion, his muscles were tired from the excruciating work-out they’d all just gone through. Kelton was a firm believer in not asking the trainees to do something he wasn’t willing to do himself. So, he was running them all into the ground. It was a surprise that the trainees were managing to keep up with him, but a pleasant surprise. He knew that he was working them harder than even the graduate class were being put through, but sitting around and doing nothing was driving him nuts. So, he was working himself and his group harder than ever before.
Verynai had tried to talk to him about it, to advise him to pull back a bit and ease up on the students. Kelton was willing to listen, but while ever the students were keeping up with his punishing routines, he was going to keep pushing them. It was a little much for them to take, but they were rising to the challenge and he was proud of each and every one of them.
“Come on.” Ash pleaded. “We’ve got to do something.”
Jackson rolled his eyes at her. “No one cares. We’ve got more important things to think about than that.” He’d been going along with this Christmas stuff so far, but now she was pushing it.
He just didn’t get it. On the whole, Jackson was the perfect boyfriend, especially in this insane place that they lived, but he was just so single minded in his pursuit of becoming the perfect warrior that he often forgot that other things in life mattered too.
“Fine. If you won’t help me, I’ll go and find someone that will.” Ash snapped as she turned on her heels and stomped away from him.
“Don’t be like that.” Jackson called after her, but she didn’t stop. Once Ash got an idea in her head, there was no stopping her. Usually, Jackson loved that stubborn streak in her, but right now? It was infuriating.
Ash continued to grumble under her breath. This was a big deal for her, even if it wasn’t for him. If he wasn’t willing to help her, she’d go find someone else that would. And if not, she’d do it on her own.
Christmas was a time of year that was supposed to bring everyone together, raising spirits and a time for fun. That was something they desperately needed around the place at the moment. Moral was at an all-time low.
The mood was black. The trainees were exhausted from the extensive training schedules and they were all ready to drop on their feet. Aisline had never felt this level of tiredness in her entire life.
Since Kayleigh had disappeared off the face of the earth, a black cloud had descended over the academy. Kelton’s dark mood had tainted the whole place. It was amazing how much a single person could affect an entire place, but that was just how Kayleigh was. It wasn’t until she wasn’t around anymore that you realised quite how vital she was to the fine workings of the place. Aisline was taking her disappearance particularly hard. Kayleigh had been there for her every single step of the way since she had entered into this crazy new life and now that she wasn’t there, it felt to Ash like there was a piece of her missing. In this world of intense training and surrounded by the male warriors and trainees who were fighting to be the best at what they did, Kayleigh had been her life-line. Someone she could count on for support and to lend an ear when she needed a good old moan about things. Sometimes, it felt like an uphill struggle without her there, but Ash knew that she’d have to muddle through it regardless. Kayleigh wouldn’t want her to let it get on top of her.
The same couldn’t be said for Kelton. They had never seen this side of him before. It was obvious that Kayleigh leaving had broken something inside him. He worked them harder than ever before, to the point of exhaustion. It was true that he never asked them to do anything that he wasn’t prepared to do himself, but Kelton clearly had demons of Kayleigh leaving chasing on his tail and pushed himself to the limits. He’d had years more training than the students and they were finding it hard to keep up with the machine that was Master Warrior Kelton. It was clear that he was in the mind-set that if he kept busy, the thoughts of her wouldn’t cripple him. Well, it may be working for him, but he was working the recruits to the bone and soon enough they’d crumble.
Aisline in particular was finding it hard to keep up with the punishing routine Kelton was setting for them. Luckily, the guys had her back and helped her make it through. She didn’t know what she would have done without them. There had been times that Denver had sat back and watched while she struggled, not that she would have ever asked that douchebag for any help, anyway. She was lucky and grateful that she had such good friends in her life.
When the twins first came to the academy, Ash had been hopeful that she would be able to make a couple of new female friends. It was all well and good having the guys around her, but she missed someone her own age and sex just to have a girly chat with. Kayleigh had always been there for her for that, and Lana, her best friend that she’d grown up with, was always at the end of the phone if she needed her, but it wasn’t the same. It would have been nice to have someone there with her, going through the same training and knowing first-hand what she was talking about and how difficult things could be at the academy. She’d hoped for that kind of bond with the twins. That wasn’t to be, though. Far from it.
And now this. She wasn’t asking for much, but Jackson just didn’t understand. He didn’t get why Christmas was so important to her. To him, the whole season was just one big waste of time. It was a stupid glittery tree and a fancy meal that they could all happily do without. It infuriated Ash that he couldn’t see it as a possible way to make the academy a happier place to live.
Christmas was supposed to be a time for sharing. Sure, Ash didn’t give a crap if she didn’t receive a single present, but it was the rest of it that meant something to her. She loved spending time, admittedly over the internet, finding the perfect gift for each of her friends to make them smile. She loved the magical feeling in the air on Christmas Eve, with the tree decorated and the anticipation of Christmas day. Nothing could beat that feeling. It meant something big to her.
She wasn’t looking at Christmas from a religious point of view. After all, that was the human perception of that time of year, or at least it was. These days, the humans and the Lamia seem to share the view that it’s a time for giving and receiving, loving and being with family. Ash loved the thought of everyone coming together at a time of peace, enjoying one another’s company and bringing everyone together. They may not be blood, but these warriors and trainees were one big family and Ash thought that Christmas was the perfect time to celebrate that.
This was the day before Christmas Eve! There wasn’t much time to get things started, but Ash had been hitting a brick wall every time she asked her friends to help her out. They didn’t see the point in it, declaring it a waste of time. It wasn’t even like the warriors or trainees got the day off at Christmas. For them, it was business as usual.
She knew that it was going to be a close call and it was entirely possible that they wouldn’t get anything sorted in time, but she was determined to try at least.
Not that Ash was going to let that stop her. She wanted to do this and would do it all by herself if she had to. The ideas that were swimming around in her head weren’t unachievable, but pretty damned difficult to do on her own. But, she was determined to do this. They needed this. She needed this. They needed something to lighten the mood and make them remember that there was more to life that being exhausted and covered in bruises.
Christmas Eve was her favourite day of the entire year. All that joy and anticipation. It was way better than Christmas Day, which was always a bit of a let-down now that she was older. When she was little, the excitement of waiting up for Santa and listening out for the sound of reindeers and bells was better than anything in the entire world. Now that she was older, it was different, but she still loved the season. Ash was just a big kid at heart and didn’t want to let go of the magic of Christmas.
Thinking of Christmas led to thoughts of her family back home. It wasn’t an easy thing for Aisline to think about. Things were still difficult between her and her family. Luckily, things were getting less awkward between her and her father, but they were still strained. The whole ‘having a warrior for a daughter’ thing was a big problem for them, but after the abduction, her father was coming around to the idea. They still only shared weekly phone calls and a few visits, but at least that was better than nothing.
Things were so easy with her mother or sister. They refused to accept the situation, knowing that the life of a warrior wasn’t fit for a girl. Not that Aisline thought that. She’d always been the kind of kid that had gone out looking for trouble, searching for what adventure lay around the corner. She and her sister were nothing alike in that respect. They were like chalk and cheese. Her sister was the perfect little lady that made her mother proud. Aisline training to be a warrior wasn’t something they agreed with or would ever accept. It was such a shame, but Ash was learning to live without her family. They’d abandoned her on the day that she’d received the mark and she’d made it this far without them. Jackson always told her that it was their loss.
That’s what Christmas is supposed to be all about. Family. Back home, before this drastic change to her life had come about, Aisline’s family had celebrated Christmas like royalty, no expense spared. Only the very best would do when you are out to impress the social elite. It was all about showing other people how much they had and how well they could do things. In all honesty, Ash knew that her parents would have probably preferred that she hadn’t been involved in their ‘family Christmas’. She refused to dress up in the flouncy dresses and pretend to be a meek and mild princess just to put on a show for people that she didn’t know and didn’t care about. At those kinds of events, it was her sister that made their parents proud. Ash was too much of a tom-boy and too rebellious. Too unpredictable. Her parents always fretted that she would do something to embarrass them.
That was why she wanted to do this here and now. Finally, she felt like she belonged somewhere. Finally, she felt like she had a real family that looked out for her and that she cared for. That, alone, was why she wanted to celebrate the season.
When she had first received the mark of the warrior, Ash had no idea whatsoever which direction her life would take her. Looking back over the long period she had now been at the academy, it was amazing how far she had come. That was something to be proud of, even if her family wouldn’t acknowledge it.
This warrior business was the best damn thing that had ever happened to her. She had always craved something more, something just out of reach that she couldn’t describe and this fulfilled that craving. When the warrior mark appeared on her temple and she was thrown into this new life, it was like she’d found that missing piece of the jigsaw of her life. Training to be a warrior was a perfect fit.
It hadn’t been all roses. Far from it. The training was brutal, she’d made it through that horrific abduction by the Lamia Mortuorum and she’d cut ties with her blood family. The warrior-hood status came at a price, but it was one that Aisline thought was worth paying.
Not all ties were cut, though. Lana, the girl that had been her best friend for most of her life, thought that the whole thing was simply amazing and was waiting with bated breath for Ash to introduce her to some strapping warrior trainee, whom she would marry and live happily ever after. Bless her, the hopeless romantic that she was. Where Aisline’s mother and sister couldn’t accept her new lifestyle, Lana lapped it up. The thought of her roughing it with the rest of the male warriors was almost too much for her to bear. Lana may be waiting for the perfect man to sweep her off her feet and marry her, but she hated missing out on all the fun that Ash was having. Lana couldn’t cut it in the academy and she readily admitted that. It was drooling over the warriors hot and sweaty bodies that she hated to miss out on.
Ash just didn’t have it in her to be the pretty little lady who sat at home knitting and waiting for Mr Right to come along and do her the favour of marrying him. She’d rather go for a big, burly warrior who’d fight alongside her. Even if she hadn’t ever received the warrior mark, that kind of life held no appeal for her. She wanted more. She wanted to live her life.