Freebie Shorts #16 The Things I Do For Love
(Warning: This story takes place almost fifty years ahead of the Graveyard Shift Series timeline. Even though the remaining characters haven’t officially gotten mates yet in the series and mate names aren’t mentioned, all the guys from Phantom Creek Mortuary are mated off in this story. It also contains Mpreg elements.)
The Things I Do For Love
“Fuck it’s hot,” I wheeze to myself as I lean against a tree and try to catch my breath. I’ve been hiking straight up the side of this mountain for hours now. In this heat, it’s like walking through the fires of hell, only hotter and without the pain. If I didn’t have my magic to keep me in a constant supply of water, I’d have keeled over by now. I’d use it to cool myself off, but I need to protect myself from bugs and other creatures one might find in the jungle more. I also need to conserve energy if I’m going to get back before sunset. Chugging another bottle of water, I make the empty plastic disappear and continue on my journey using a machete to cut a path through the thick jungle vegetation.
Doubling over after another mile, I rub my left side trying to alleviate the cramp there and suck in a deep breath. “Holy hell, I’m out of shape.” Why did I think doing this was a good idea? Because I love my mate and our friends are pushy romantics who think relationship milestones deserve a grand gesture. They’re right of course, but maybe I should’ve chosen something a bit more practical. Like a blender. Snorting to myself, I shake my head. If I got Zephyr a blender for our fiftieth anniversary I’d be sleeping on the couch for a month. He’s already pissed at me for knocking him up again. The man loves our kids but he hates being pregnant because a kelpie pregnancy takes a year and he always seems to go past his due date. After this baby is born, I’m getting a vasectomy. It can be reversed if we decide to have more children later on, but I want to give us the chance to have some time to ourselves once all our kids are grown and out of the house. We didn’t get to enjoy each other before we became parents. Don’t get me wrong, I love our children and wouldn’t trade them for anything but it would’ve been nice to have a few years with it being just us before we started our family. It didn’t happen like that though but I have faith we’ll get our chance soon. Nineteen more years and our youngest will be off to college.
Sucking down another bottle of water I keep walking. Only a couple more miles to go and then it’ll be time to head home and get ready for the anniversary party our friends are throwing for us. Not paying attention to my feet, I trip over something I assume to be a small downed tree and fall face first into the dirt. Stupid fucking jungle. Standing, I dust myself off and turn to glare at the offending piece of wood…only it isn’t a tree. Trees don’t have scales. Seeing the head of a ten-foot-long snake coming towards me, I take off running up the side of the mountain as fast as I can. Logically, I know a snake that size can’t hurt me but I watched way too many of those anaconda movies to consider logic. Not when I’m deep in an unexplored section of jungle hiking up a mountain because what I need is at the summit. Zephyr loves flowers and plants. For years, he’s talked about the one flower he wants the most. With him being fully in the morning sickness -that should really be called all the time sickness- stage of his pregnancy and unable to keep much down for most of the day on top of running our flower shop and taking care of our rambunctious nine-year-old Zephyr couldn’t make the trip himself. He’s been walking around with a dark cloud of disappointment over his head as a result of thinking he’d miss out on getting this flower.
It’s a magic blossom that supposedly looks like a fuchsia tiger lily moon flower crossbreed and glows with magic. It can be used in a number of things from medicines to magical potions and spells. The problem is it only blooms once every thousand years under the light of a full moon during the summer solstice. Once it blooms it’ll last for three days before going dormant again. Those three days are the only chance anyone has of getting their hands on the flower because when it goes dormant it disappears from the mountain side. However, once a bloom is plucked it’ll stay in bloom for two weeks before dying but if it’s dug up and replanted somewhere else, it’ll bloom every year on the summer solstice regardless of the moon’s phase like a normal flower. At least, that’s what the books Zephyr has on magical plants and flowers says. Hopefully, it’s true. I’d hate to have it disappear for another thousand years after giving it to Zephyr.
Today should be the first day of it being in bloom. I’m hoping to be able to dig up around six to twelve flowers and put them in a planter box so Zephyr has a good start to his collection. I know he’ll harvest the seeds and grow some for the shop. We started out only doing flower arranging but, Zephyr got the idea to grow and sell magical plants that paranormals can use. Though it’ll mostly be witches and warlocks who need it vampires and shifters have been known to try magical remedies for their human mates at times. Being able to offer this particular flower that no one else around has will bring in a lot more business. Not that we need it. We’ve already had to expand the shop twice and hire some more people to keep up with the demand. Luckily, three of our kids inherited Zephyr’s love of plants so, they help out in the shop when they aren’t doing their own thing elsewhere. Our first three kids all have dual degrees with different majors but a minor in botany. Our fourth, just started his second year of college and inherited my love of the ocean. He’s studying to be a Marine Biologist.
When I finally reach the summit of the mountain the jungle turns into a clear field of Draconium Moon Blossoms yet to bloom. The name Draconium comes from the magic in the flower being the equivalent of a dragon’s and of course moon is in the name because it blooms at night under the light of the moon. After doing a little dance, I magic up the tools and planter pot like the ones flowers come in when you first buy them from the store and get to work. If I time this whole thing right, I’ll get to the party just in time to watch Zephyr’s face as the flowers bloom under the light of the moon when I hand them to him. I can’t wait.
“Come on dad we’re going to be late,” my oldest son Lecroy calls out from downstairs.
“I’ll be right down!”
Flushing the toilet, I pick myself up off the floor and brush my teeth to get the nasty taste of vomit out of my mouth. Pregnancy always kicks my ass which is probably why there’s nearly ten years between each of our kids. Trance should’ve been our last. Finn and I discussed it in length after he was born and decided to use condoms until we were ready to have another but sometimes accidents happen. One broken condom later and here we are with baby number six on the way. I wouldn’t change it though even if I could. I believe everything happens for a reason so this baby was meant to be. I hope it’s a girl. There’s just too much testosterone in my life after having five boys. With the way my children act -even the grown ones- having another boy would be a nightmare.
Hearing a crash from downstairs followed by the words, “Dad’s going to kill you,” and “It wasn’t my fault. You started it,” then, “Did not,” and “Did too,” with more crashing a few seconds later. It’s quickly followed by “Look what you did,” “It wasn’t my fault,” and “Fix it before he comes down or we’re all dead,” then, “I don’t think I can,” and “Do it!” then a shouted, “Damn it Lecroy, you know I crack under pressure.” Shaking my head, I sigh. Fate give me the strength to not strangle my children. Once I finish getting ready for the party Gideon and the guys are throwing for Finn and I, I head downstairs to find all five of my children standing in the living room looking guilty as hell and blocking my sight from whatever is behind them.
Folding my arms, I raise an eyebrow and say, “What’d you break?”
They step aside revealing the coffee table I asked Triton to carve for us when I decided to redecorate the house once Xander left for college. I try not to let my anger show on my face but fail. The coffee table was a beautiful work of art featuring a mix of marine life carvings and woodland carvings. Some of the animals represented myself and my friends as a nod to the family we’ve become. As soon as they see my expression my two older boys Lecroy and Shane start pointing fingers. “He started it!” They’ve always had a sibling rivalry thing going on. It doesn’t matter how small the infraction is they’re always fighting about something. Despite that, I know they love each other and would always be there if something happened. As proven by all the times all five of my children have presented a united front when one of them broke something because they were doing something they weren’t supposed to like running in the house or fighting. Half the time when they were growing up I had no idea something had been broken because they fixed it with magic before I could catch them. All five of them are hybrids so they’re shifters like me and kelpies with magical abilities like Finn.
Pinching the bridge of my nose as the boys continue to argue and try to explain what happened at the same time by talking over each other I tell myself orange isn’t my color and if I strangled two of my children I’d be wearing it for the rest of my life. Keanu, Alex, and Trance move out of the way as the other two continue rolling around and hitting each other in a silly cat fight way while yelling about who started the fight. Feeling a headache coming on I rub my temples to alleviate it. When that doesn’t work, I shout, “Enough! I don’t care who started it I’m finishing it. Both of you get in the car. I’ll have your Pops fix the table tonight.”
Lecroy and Shane look sheepish as they stand up and head for the door. As I follow my other three children out of the house Keanu asks, “Where is Pops by the way?”
I shrug and say, “I have no idea. He left in the middle of the night. The note he left on the pillow said he had an errand to run and would see me at the party.” Not knowing where Finn is or what he’s doing is worrisome but I’m trying not to let it get to me. Our mind link isn’t blocked so we can communicate and I can peek in to see what he’s thinking but he’s taken great pains to keep his activities hidden from me.
Keanu asks, “You guys aren’t having problems right,” with a terrified expression on his face.
Smiling, I shake my head. “No, we’re solid. I think he’s planning something. I can tell that he’s keeping a secret because of little blocks he’s been putting up whenever he’s thinking something he doesn’t want me to hear.”
Keanu laughs. “That sounds like Pops. We all know he hates keeping things from you and you’re the master at figuring things out, so anytime he wants to surprise you with something he has to work extra hard to hide it and keep himself from giving it away.”
“That is true. I’ve never been a big fan of surprises but your Pops doesn’t care. He likes surprising me and I don’t object because it makes him happy. Relationships are all about compromise.”
Once we’re in the car, I drive us over to Gideon’s where the anniversary party is being held. Not everyone has arrived yet. Triton and Nyx are sitting at one of the tables while their children run around playing. Ethan, Gideon’s mate is manning the grill while Gideon takes their two-year-old daughter around the pool in a floaty. Darius and Jirga are relaxing on the double lounger that’s the size of two regular ones pushed together with their six-month-old twins napping between them. I didn’t think they wanted to have kids since they’ve been together for a little longer than Finn and I and never mentioned it. Until last year when they announced they were looking into getting a surrogate.
Greeting everyone, I take a seat at the table with Triton and Nyx. Trance joins in the game the other kids are playing while my other kids strip to their swimsuits and jump into the pool.
Triton asks, “Where’s Finn?”
“I have no idea. He said he had an errand to run and would be here for the party.”
Hearing the sound of arguing, I turn towards the noise and spot Dimitri and Miles coming towards us trailing behind their two teenagers. They were another couple I wasn’t sure wanted kids until they decided to start fostering orphaned paranormal children thirty years ago. In that span of time, they’ve adopted eight kids. The rest are grown and either studying at college, in the military, or living and working elsewhere. Following behind Dimitri and Miles are Stefan, Jericho, Draco and their mates and kids. Not seeing Finn with them I can’t help but wonder if he’s going to get here in time. It’s only ten minutes past the time when the party officially starts so there really isn’t a reason to worry yet. However, if he doesn’t arrive within the hour I won’t be held accountable for my actions. He won’t know what hit him.
It took longer than I thought to get back down the mountain with the added weight of the flower planter pots and to the island’s shoreline. Once I reached the shore, I magicked a protective waterproof bubble around the flowers so the pressure of the ocean wouldn’t crush them then swam the whole way home. In my kelpie form I can swim long distances quickly so I was able to get back to Phantom Creek using the river system in a record amount of time. It’s sunset when I arrive thanks to the time zone change and I know I’m later than I wanted to be. Hope Zephyr isn’t too upset with me.
The house is empty when I walk through the door so, I know Zephyr and the boys have already left if the lack of vehicle in the driveway wasn’t already an indication of that. Seeing the splintered coffee table in the living room, I shake my head. Lecroy and Shane at it again I see. Magically fixing it, I put the planters on it then go upstairs where I shower and dress. I could’ve magicked myself clean but, with how much sweat I produced today that didn’t get washed off during my swim on top of all the junk I had to swim through in the ocean -damn trash piles- I needed a good scrubbing. Magic would’ve worked fine but I’d probably still not feel clean even though I am. It’s easier to scrub myself so I know I’m clean and don’t smell like the jungle and the ocean.
Once I’m ready, I go back downstairs, magically create a present box around the planters and carry it out to my vehicle securing them in the passenger seat. Then, I drive to Gideon’s where the party is being held. Parking next to Zephyr’s car, I grab his present and get out then circle around the house to the backyard following the sound of laughter and music. I’m nearly taken out by a tiny mob of shifted children as I make my way toward the table where Zephyr, Triton, Nyx, Dimitri, and Miles are sitting. Gideon who is in the pool spots me and shouts, “Finn! You made it! We were starting to think you wouldn’t.”
Smiling, I say, “Sorry, getting Zephyr’s present took longer than I thought.”
Walking over to the table, I place the present on the ground next to Zephyr’s chair and lean down to give him a kiss. “Hello, honey, sorry I’m late.”
Zephyr grins at me and says, “Better late than never, Blue. So, what did you get me?”
Making a motion to mime zipping my lips, I say, “I’m not saying a word. You’ll find out soon enough.”
“Can I open it now?”
I shake my head. “Nope. Later. I’ll tell you when.”
Zephyr sticks his bottom lip out in a pout -the man loves getting gifts- and says, “Party pooper.”
“Trust me, honey, it’ll be worth the wait.”
Winking, he says, “It had better be or the couch is yours for the next week.”
Laughing, I take the seat next to him and kiss him again.
Ethan calls out, “Meat’s done, come and get it,” making everyone old enough to understand the innuendo in that statement laugh.
Ethan makes a sweeping motion with his spatula and says, “You’re all bastards,” earning another round of laughs.
When their toddler Lucy says, “Bassard,” Gideon glares at Ethan.
My son Shane doing his best Scooby-Doo impression says, “Ruh Roh.”
“Paws off the present, honey. You can open it soon.”
Damn…foiled again. I’ve been trying to sneak a peek at my gift ever since Finn put it beside my chair. Every time Finn is distracted I reach for my gift but he keeps catching me. After dinner we had cake and I thankfully managed to keep it all down. Most of our friends and the children who can shift are all going for a run in their animal form but Finn and I are staying behind. I’d go with them but flying in my pterodactyl form is out of the question until I’m past the morning sickness stage. I don’t think my friends would appreciate having tons of vomit dropped on them so it’s best to sideline myself. Ethan is officially in the doghouse and is wisely staying behind with us while Gideon joins the others for a run. Knowing Gideon, he’d probably bite Ethan on the leg even though Ethan is immune to his venom because killing Ethan for teaching their kids curse words isn’t an option. As it stands, I’m sure Gideon is going to have him on the couch for a week after tonight since bastard seems to be Lucy’s new favorite word. Over the course of dinner she’d squeal ‘bassard’ happily and clap her little hands. The scathing looks Gideon sent Ethan’s way every time she said it had us all fighting not to laugh. If I remember correctly all their other children said a curse word first before learning to say anything else thanks to Ethan.
After everyone going on the run has taken off into the woods I turn to Finn and ask, “Can I have my gift now?”
Finn sighs and smiles at me. “Not yet. You have to give me mine first.”
Grumbling like giving him his gift first is such a hardship, I pull the envelope from my pocket and hand it to him. Finn looks disappointed when he opens the envelope and pulls out the card inside. “A card? That’s all I get?”
Biting my lip to keep from giving away the surprise, I say, “Read it.”
Finn reads the front of the card then opens it. The piece of paper I tucked inside falls out and Finn finishes reading the card before unfolding the paper. Finn looks at me with wide-eyes and says, “You got us tickets to Hawaii?”
I nod. “I rented a beach house and everything. We’ll have it for a week. I want to go before I start to show. Lecroy is going to take care of Trance for us so we can enjoy a vacation just the two of us before the baby comes. I should be past the morning sickness stage in a week or so.”
Finn presses his lips to mine and says, “I can’t wait to spend a week in paradise with you,” then after tucking the card into his pocket he picks up my gift and puts it on the table in front of me.
When I lift the lid off the box the sides fall away revealing the plastic planter boxes full of flowers in front of me. Before I can ask Finn why he got me tiger lilies when I already have them in my greenhouse the moon moves from behind the clouds and shines on the flowers. I watch in awe as the flowers begin to glow and bloom under the light of the moon. Feeling tears prick my eyes I reach out and gently touch one of the soft petals. “They’re beautiful, Finn. But how did you get them?”
Finn visibly shudders and says, “I swam to Madagascar in my kelpie form and trekked through the jungle all day to reach the mountain where they’re known to grow.”
“That’s the errand you had to run?”
Finn nods. “You’ve been talking about these flowers for years and had been so excited when you discovered this was the year they’d bloom again. I saw how disappointed you were when the morning sickness hit and realized you’d miss your chance. You know I hate seeing you unhappy so I decided I’d get them for you.”
Wrapping my arms around him I pull him onto my lap and kiss him hard. “Thank you, Blue, I love them. Best gift I’ve ever gotten aside from our children of course.”
Finn grins at me and raises an eyebrow. “Was it worth the wait then?”
“Definitely worth that and more,” I say with a smile.
Hugging him close, I whisper in his ear. “What do you say we leave one of the cars here for the kids to drive back after their run and you and I go home so I can thank you properly?”
Finn grins wickedly. “I like the way you think, honey.”
Standing, we wave goodbye to our friends amidst catcalls and after grabbing my flowers, head for Finn’s car. I left the keys in mine so our boys have a way to get home. A decent run can last a while so I expect we’ll have a couple hours to ourselves which is plenty of time to have my way with Finn.
On the drive back to our house, I ask, “Have I told you lately how much I love you?”
“Always but you know I love hearing it.”
“I love you, Blue and I can’t wait to spend many more years with you.”
“Ditto, honey. Ditto.”
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this short. If you want to see how Finn and Zephyr get together check out The Florist, book four in The Graveyard Shift series. If you're wondering who Draco is since he wasn’t part of the original lineup of guys then check out book six in the series titled The Ghost.