Taking the last pin from my hair and throwing it onto the vanity, the fun, nostalgia and alcohol continues to swim in my system. Tonight could not have gone better if I had cast a spell myself to control it.

After leaving the Mansion we headed to the clearing. Calling the four elements with Haley and two other sister witches we created the perfect summer night to party it up in. After igniting the fires to light the night and pulling down stars to shoot across the sky, I was able to conjure the best summer night for my friends on the night before Christmas. After the Weres returned from their run the party began again and just like Ethan promised, it was exactly like old times.

Some Weres ran free in their spirit forms, while others changed back and decided to take advantage of my summer warmth and run about without clothes. Witches we grew up with called and casted together, spelled and charmed freely and in the open with no worry or fear of discovery. Tonight was the epitome of the true magic that is Camden, the freedom to be with no threat of persecution. Lucian even found someone else to share his bed tonight, my only request having been to change the sheets and cleanse the room when he was done.

Having the limo finally drop Haley and I off at my father's house when she finally did become tired, I have since tucked her away into my bed. Still in my party dress, I pull a few things together in a huge tote bag and grab my party purse, throwing it in as well.

My night is not yet over. Exchanging my stilettos for military style boots, lacing them quickly, I grab my big down winter coat, zip it and make my way to the huge bay window that opens up to a wide ledge on the roof. Keeping with the theme of the night, I thought it would be fun to sneak out of my parents house, just like I used to. Stepping out onto the ledge I inhale deep and the icy night air fills my nose, then my chest, finally settling in my belly. Smelling the burning embers of fireplaces lit on the cold night in the air I look up to the moon from this spot as I have so many nights before, and my body tingles from the power, from what was shared tonight and excitement in me for what is to come.

Securing the strap of my bag across my chest, letting the bag hang at my butt, I take the first step over the edge, and descend down the trellis one step at a time, slow and surely. Like navigating the woods, this is a trek I have made many, many times and could possibly do in my sleep. When my feet finally hit the ground, I walk around to the front of the house and the drive way where Roxy is waiting for me.

"Nice dress." A familiar low baritone tells me sarcastically.

Startled beyond belief, I turn to see my father sitting on the porch, small tumbler that I know contains Johnny Walker Black whiskey resting on the table beside him. "Daddy!" I exclaim, "what the hell?"

"I had a feeling when you came to say good night you weren't really headed for bed. At least not the one upstairs anyway," he says with a smile. "I just wanted to talk to you for a minute. I didn't get the chance to earlier."

"But how did you know…"

"Do you really think I didn't know all the times you snuck out to go see Ethan or Nathan, or meet up with one of the girls? I'm your father Jayde. It's my job to know. Your mother used to sit with me, and we'd be quiet as mice, but we've watched all of you sneak out of this house a time or two."

"And you never stopped us? Grounded me? We really do have the best parents in the world," I mumble.

"The knowing was enough. You all weren't bad kids and it wasn't often enough to be a problem. I'm sure there were times you got out without us knowing but it was fun to know something you all didn't." Smiling to his self for a moment looking back to me, "I just wanted to tell you that you looked beautiful tonight and also that I was proud of you. Mother was very pleased with you. She won't tell you that, but I wanted to be sure that I did. Your Mama would be so proud of you and the woman you have become. I thought you should know that too."

Heart filled, I walk over to the porch and gathering my skirts I climb the stairs and crawl in his lap. "You always know how to make a girl feel special."

"Not always but when I do I try to do it as often as I can. That's how I won your Mama. She was this wild fire and I was a slow storm. She always told me I made her feel special. It wasn't hard because she was." Stroking a hand over my back, his comfort warms me more than the heat of a thousand suns. "This life that was chosen for you Jayde, I know it's a hard one. Mother is a difficult woman to deal with on any level; being the one groomed to take her place, that seems impossible. On top of that you have to deal with not only the disappointment that Mother feels for you being a witch, but also all the disappointment she carries for me. I do sympathize."

Lifting my head from his shoulder, I look into his face confused. "How could you be a disappointment to her? To anyone? You are an accomplished doctor, an extraordinary father and grandpa, a dutiful son. What could you have possibly done to disappoint her? Luna on a crutch, does anything make that woman happy?"

Laughing a little, "Oh Jay Bird…I, and others have often wondered the same thing. Mother was the betrothed to Daddy back in a time when things were a lot harder, a lot stricter. There was no choice, no freedom to wander, not that she would have wanted to but there was no chance. The mate of the Alpha did as she was instructed. Mother was dutiful and took her breeding seriously. It's a huge responsibility to be mated to the Alpha and she refused to fail at what is the greatest honor a Were bitch can receive. She bred her children, all sons. Seven of us to carry on the Preston name. Six of them all married wolves, and eventually bred more wolves, ensuring that our line would carry on for another generation. But the seventh son, the one that came to her by surprise took forever to mate. She let him roam the world and go to school; wait to take a wife and pass up on all the good little wolf girls he was introduced to in favor of his studies. A family could wait for the seventh son; becoming a doctor was important work. And then he finally found her, a young witch that had just moved to town that was the bastard daughter of a lounge singer from the Bayou. Eloping with her the night she turned seventeen and returning with her very pregnant a year later his line was made not only uncertain but impure. Lily and I gave her four strong grandsons all wolves and for a time she was content; with me, with Lily and with them. When your Mama was pregnant with you, Mother somehow knew it was to be a girl. Ethan had just been born and his place as the next Alpha chosen. She knew in her heart you would be born in time to be his mate and rule at his side so she began preparing she began planning."

Even knowing the rest of the story well, sitting on my father's lap listening to him talk has always been one of the best things in the world to me. Not wanting the moment to end, I let him continue, snuggling in again. "When you were born, it was under a moon none of us had ever seen before. The moon had turned red and we swear it bled as the fourth of July fireworks lit the night sky. Lily and I knew then you would be special."

The blood moon Rex told me about. The same one his Jana was born under more than two thousand years before.

"Lily and Claudia knew right away that you were Witch, not Were, and that you were powerful, signs of it showing in infancy. Lily thought it was best to let Mother continue to have hope that you would be Were. We all thought it would be easier for you; to let her have her way, to let you become Queen. You were blessed by the High Council to mate Ethan and that was that. Over time it became clear that you would not phase as Were and your powers were growing too fast to hide, but by this time there was nothing anyone could do. You had been chosen and blessed. The law states that the Alphas mate must be born from a line of The Five, it says nothing of her having to be Were. With you being at Ethan's side the Prestons would remain in power and for that she was again content. But as you grew older, and your powers grew and the privilege was more a burden to you than a blessing, she became harder on you. She knew her control was slipping so she tried to make the reigns tighter. She knew she was losing you and with it she would lose her power."

Lifting my head up from his shoulder, "That's not my fault or my problem Daddy. Maybe if Ethan and I had been able to grow up normally we could have found each other and fell in love naturally. But because my whole life I have been told that I have to love him, now, when I'm really supposed to, I don't know if I ever really did."

Cupping my cheek in his palm, "I know that you did. When you believed that he loved you as much as you loved him you were okay to be his mate, even though being Queen was not what you wanted you carried the life well. Once you felt he betrayed you, you no longer felt the loyalty to him or the weight of the duty. Then Lily…" pausing, "then everything changed, for all of us. You went to Claudia and came back with Nathan, a human blue collar boy who you chose above your duty. When you refused to send him away, refused to go back to Ethan, Mother knew then she had lost. When you left again, she demanded we find you and bring you home. She even went to Claudia to call to you so she could find you. You had no right to leave Camden, you had a duty to fulfill and you would."

"But you didn't come after me." Knowing Claudia wouldn't give Gwen two shits much less use my magic to locate me.

"No baby, I didn't. And I never would. The day you were born shouldn't get to determine your entire life. All my children get to choose who they love. Mated at birth or not," tucking a stray curl behind my ear, "and I will always stand by them, love them, no matter who they choose. I always knew you would come back to us. Maybe not back to Ethan or the throne, but always to us. The boys and I, we are your home, your heart. You are never stronger then when you are here with us and we are never as strong without you."

Feeling choked up but not wanting to cry I throw my arms around his neck, "Good grief Daddy. Turn down the emotion," I tell him as I hold him a little harder.

Squeezing tight in return as he laughs, "Some things need to be said. Now," he says pulling back. "I should let you get going. He's not going to wait forever."

Smiling and standing, I walk back down the steps. Turning back to him, "Actually Daddy, I think this one just might."

As I open the door to my car and climb in pulling my skirts in with me, I hear my father say, "Me too, baby. Me too."

Pulling Roxy right up to the front door of Rex's home, no nerves bother me, only confidence and purpose. I've had a lot of time to think about what I want to say to Rex, things that I need him to know before we can move forward. This thing between us is new to me. He's had a few centuries to process and I deserve the time to catch up. Grabbing my bag out of the passenger seat, I get out of the car and climb the front steps to the large double door entrance. Not wanting to knock I grab the knob and concentrate on the lock. Hearing the click of entry immediately, I enter the house quietly and use my night eyes to navigate the dark foyer. No lights on in any room, but hearing low music play in the distance, I take off my coat, boots and socks and leave them at the front door. Gathering my skirts and moving silently down the hall remembering the first floor layout, I realize where I would be in this house on a night like tonight. Turning the corner I see the low burn of the fire glow against the walls in the living room and can make out the soft croon of Etta James wail about Stormy Weather.

Coming up behind Rex on the couch, he has a short tumbler of amber liquid resting on his knee and his gaze directed on the fire. The large deep couch, empty except for him, his feet on the ottoman a man deep in his thoughts. The glow of the flames dancing of the walls; the drapes on the large window open to the night sky, the sad old music playing low, it's like a scene out of an old movie. Brooding leading man, alone in his house, sitting by the fire after a night out. His tuxedo shirt open at the collar, coat thrown lazily over the chair. Untouched glass of alcohol sat forgotten his only company. Then his lady enters, stage left.

As if on cue he rises and turns quickly, stopping, stunned at the sight of me.

"Hi," I say to him, watching him go from surprised to relaxed slowly.

"Good evening your highness," he says, bowing at the waist in royal acknowledgement. Rising, "I have known many Queens over time Jayde but you, you could rival them all. You were very busy tonight, always engaged, and I didn't get a chance to be alone with you. I wanted to tell you how stunning you looked. When you came in you took my breath away."

"I kept the dress, ditched the shoes…and the tiara," I tell him pointing to my head. "Tonight was exhausting, like work. I get paid in Gwen points and right now I'm stock piling those bitches like a 401K. The less I make waves, the less she feels she needs to talk to me. We all win."

"I can understand that. You were quite the talk of the party. Everyone was amazed to see you there. On Ethan's arm no less. Saying you two looked civil. There was speculation on where you've been and what you've been up to, who the pregnant mid-western girl with the big laugh was. Some women think it's amazing you're making him wait. Doing what you want to do before you tie yourself to the Alpha. Others, mostly men and old women think you're being stupid. What will happen to you if he abjures you, then what will you do? What will you be?" He says exaggeratingly. "Come, sit with me," he says taking his seat again.

Making my way around the couch to sit on the ottoman in front of him, "Nothing gets the party moving like a good bit of scandal. I'm sure I provided that in spades."

"I imagine it was Haley they spoke of. She's as pretty as you said she was, just like a beacon of sunshine. Great laugh. Very pregnant."

"Yes, to all of the above. She's going to stay here with me for a while until we get some things figured out. That's where I've been, why I left."

"I figured that as well. And the tall man with the accent, another old friend of yours?"

"That was Lucian and yes, he's an old friend, a witch from Nicaragua that I grew up with. That's not jealousy I hear is it Rex?" I ask innocently, leaning backwards when he sits upright, crossing my legs at the knee in the small space.

"Not at all actually," his eyes focused on my face, I can see nothing but the dancing fire that burns and crackles behind me and myself reflected in his eyes. Taking my hand from behind my back and pulling me forward so my legs fall apart, holding at my wrist, he says, "I like your hair better down; wild and free, not confined by pins. I like you better wild and free too."

Slowly, methodically grazing his thumb over my wrist setting my skin to flame where he touches, igniting a slow burn in the stomach, the passion in the air is so thick it steals your breath. Swallowing hard, my heart begins to race, "there are things that I came here to say to you Rex; a lot of things. I had everything lined up all nice and tidy and sassy just ready to lay it all out for you, but..." my thoughts trailing off as my temperature spikes and I bit down on my bottom lip. My mind filled with only him, our eyes locked together, the fire growing, glowing hot. Not stopping the flow of power, the flames are high and hot, I feel them at my back and see only him in front of me, "but frankly I'm all talked out," I tell him, breathless, "and the only thing I can think of with you staring at me like that is that I want your hands on me, all over me. Your mouth tasting what I feel for you on my skin. I want to feel you move inside me. See what we can do to each other. For the past few days since I left here, all I could think about was you. And I've missed you. Past, present, or future; none of that matters tonight. It's you that I want right here and right now. So take me or turn me away but dearest Luna, let me know your touch first."

Making one lightning strike grab for me, he pulls me into him and immediately our lips meet, crashing together and a war begins between us. Each fighting for more, lips, tongue and teeth begin that age old dance, desire led and primal, hands gripping and needing, squeezing in wild abandon for more. Needing to get him as naked as possible as quickly as possible, I rip his shirt from his body in a thought, "I'll buy you a new one," I tell him as he works his way down my face with greedy kisses and begins the same assault on my neck.

With one bite, quick and hard, "Fuck the shirt, lose the dress," he says moving back onto the couch relaxing so that I have room to undress and a moment for him to catch his breath.

Standing and walking to the open space, I remove my dress strap from my shoulder, and let the fabric peel down to my waist. Rolling my hips, it pools into puddle at my feet. Standing there before him in my corset and lace boy shorts and garter, high on my thigh, watching those greedy eyes take me in like I am the first meal after a long fast, I feel the heat of arousal rise at my center and spread through my entire body. His eyes fixed on me and only me, tracking each movement, I go back to him seated on the couch and straddle his lap, positioning his erection in just right spot to make us both ache a bit, I lean into him, "The pre-game has been fun, but I'm ready for the main event."

Rearing up and capturing my mouth again, he dives his hands into my hair, the battle is back on. Running my hands across his bare chest I feel the muscles bunch and quiver under my touch, his heartbeat racing, matching my own thundering in my chest. Rocking back and forth across his straining erection, riding him slow the friction I'm creating is driving us both a little mad with the teasing, only making the touching and tasting more intense. Ripping the front of my corset down to let my breasts explode from the top he takes one into his mouth, gently biting down on the nipple until I cry out and fist my hands in his hair. Moving my panties to the side, he plunges two fingers inside of me, resulting in twin groans from both of us. Feeling my muscles instinctively tighten around his fingers, I begin to rock once more, faster more urgent, riding wave after wave of pleasure. Panting, groaning unable to talk, I take his mouth again, rocking harder, grinding on this hand while his digits plunge over and over into me, his thumb massaging the sweet spot, I cum in his hand, hard, intense and thrilling.

Leaving no time to recover, Rex flips me quickly onto my back on the couch. Standing he takes off his pants and underwear, positioning in between my legs, looking down on me, reverently, amazed. Feeling the sense of urgency leave the room, the mood becomes slower and time begins to wait for us; the fire itself that was just snapping and alive calming to a low intense burn. "I've thought of this moment for over two thousand years. I've lived a long time Jayde, imagining how it would be, when it would be," lifting one leg, starting at the arch of my foot he begins to trail kisses up to my ankle, then long slow kisses up to my calf, "I don't want to rush," now in the dip at the back of my knee to my thigh, "I too have missed you." Working his way, up my belly to the center of my chest over to my neck, taking his time, going back and forth between quick bites and soft kisses, he explores and plays until the full expanse of his body lays over mine. Finally reaching my lips our bodies have molded together like puzzle pieces and he finally slides into me, slow and deep.

Feeling the connection hit home, being aware of it from the last time, I feel what was begin to take over what is. Before I can even begin to fight the vision, Rex's voice grabs me, pulling me back, demanding, "Stay with me Jayde. This is you and I here. You stay in the now with me." Kissing me again, long and deep I have no choice but to do as he commands. His slow strokes building a fire inside me that is ready to pool over like lava, his kisses drugging me so all there is, is him. Feeling his rhythm quicken, his muscles straining to maintain control, I meet his pace, beat for beat, wanting to feel him release, working him until finally we climax together.

Collapsing on top on me, the weight of his body pining me into the couch in the lovely afterglow, I begin to make lazy circles on his back. "Glad I came by?" I ask him.

"I wanted to give you space, but I was on my way to you when you was I getting up. Just to say hello, just to see you," lifting up to rest on one elbow, looking down at me with a satisfied smile on his face, "I'm glad you're not mad at me anymore."

Raising one eyebrow, "I didn't say I wasn't mad at you anymore. You get a pass on this time, because well, shitty situation all around, but no more lies Rex, no more secrets. Reincarnation or not, fate or not, I will walk away from you. I cannot and will not be with someone I don't trust."

Leaning down so his forehead rests on mine, "I will never keep anything from you again Jayde, anything you wish to know I will tell you. There are many things you need to know. So much that I need to tell you."

Laughing, pulling his face back down to mine, kissing him, "I'm sure. You have 2000 years worth of history locked in this pretty head of yours. But now, in the last hours of moonlight on what turned out to be a really awesome fucking night, I want you to make love to me again. Just like you did before, and then do it again as the sun comes up until I have to leave for Christmas at my Dads. Can we do that? Just for tonight, leave the past behind and the future to be found. I just want you, right now."

Taking my lips again, in a kiss that makes my toes curl Etta sings about how at last, her love has come along.

"As you wish your highness, after all, it is Christmas."