Chapter 18: The Prodigal Daughter Returns

Bleary red eyes slowly fluttered open.  A hint of sunlight managed to sneak past the closed curtains, across those same eyes.  With what could have been a yelp, an arm was thrown up in self-preservation as pain exploded behind her eyes and lanced through her skull.  “Kill me now,” she murmured pitifully.

A quiet chuckle had her peeking carefully, her eyes narrowed to the tiniest slits.  “This is your fault,” she moaned, closing her eyes tightly and throwing the pillow over her face, hiding from the light, trying to keep the pounding in her head down to a dull roar.

Jeff leaned over, lifted the pillow just enough to kiss her cheek.  “I have something for you.”  He grinned at her.

Aurora just moaned.  “Unless it’s something to put me outta my misery, go far far away!”

“You sure?  You sure you don’t want this?”  He waved his hand over the cup in his hand, wafting the scent of its contents toward her.  When the glorious aroma of a triple caf vanilla latte hit her nose, she moaned again, this time throwing the pillow off.

“Gimme gimme!”  She actually sat up, crossing her legs, and greedily took the cup from him, taking in the heavenly scent, her eyes closed .  “Oh Thank you Watcher!”

“Hey!” Jeff objected, though he was still grinning.  “Don’t forget me.”

She opened one eye and looked at him.  Aurora slowly smiled, her expression going gooey as she looked at that face.  She leaned over and kissed him slowly.  “Oh, I haven’t forgotten you.  Thanks.  Now… if I can only get rid of the sand that’s coating my tongue.”

Jeff laughed.  “The hangover will pass.  Well, I guess that answers that question… how much you can drink before feeling the effects.  I gotta hand it to ya, you make most frat boys look like featherweights.”

Aurora cringed, shaking her head, a motion she instantly regretted.  She let out a noise and fell back, burying her head under her pillow again.  After a moment, a muffled, “How bad was it?” came from underneath the pillow.

Jeff cheerfully pulled out his cell phone.  “Well, Ash sent me this a couple hours ago.”  He put his phone in front of her face.

Aurora froze for a moment, and slapped a hand over her eyes.

The last few days of classes had flown by.  Aurora couldn’t get enough though.  She found her classes fascinating.  Even if some of her classmates didn’t…

Still, she learned as much outside of class as she did while in her classes.  She found a new hobby.  There was a rush about doing something that she wasn’t really supposed to do.

Luckily, she was never caught.  It wasn’t a rebellion so much as it was a way to discover herself.  She had gone her entire life feeling other’s emotions; sometimes, she lost who she really was in all of it.  But going to University had done wonders for her, had shown her who she really was, inside.  Jeff had quite a hand in that as well, of course.

Her last final was a bit bitter sweet for her.  It meant she’d have a degree in her hand when she left, but she’d been enjoying her time here and that would be at an end soon.  She was done with her final in record time, though.

Once finals were over, she and Jeff met up at his dorm room for a little end-of-term bash they were throwing.

They played a little pool and did what they normally do.

Then they said goodbye to their friends in the fraternity, and went to the Tri-Fuhm Sorority house for another party.  Their friend, Ashley DeSorrento, was also throwing a party.  That one was a bit more lively as more of the students cut loose to celebrate the end of term, and for many, the end of the journey in University.

Jeff and Aurora took the opportunity to dance.

And then Aurora went off with Ashley so they could talk and say their goodbyes.  “Thanks Ash.  For everything.  It’s been great.  You’ll visit Monte Vista, won’t you?”

“Of course!  Once I get settled in back home in Starlight Shores, we can make arrangements.”

After that, the fun began.  Aurora had had her share of juice had some of the gatherings on campus, but she was always fairly careful about drinking too much.  As it was, she seemed able to absorb more alcohol than normal, especially given her size.  She suspected it had to do with her family’s bloodline.  Still, when one starts helping their friends do keg stands…

It was inevitable that they’d help you do the same.

Eventually, the party moved outside.  There, Aurora found Jeff.  The juice had loosened her up enough that Ashely had talked her into changing.

Then she talked Jeff into helping her with another keg-stand…

A few more later of those later, that’s when Aurora really decided to cut loose.  Running around campus, after slipping out of her swim suit, she was heard shouting, “It’s our time now!  It’s our time!”  Jeff calmly waited for her to run past him during one of her circuits and he grabbed her to him.  He’d carried her back to her place so they could crash.

Aurora’s eyes twitched as Jeff told her what happened.  She looked at the picture again, then sighed.  Giving him a sheepish smile, she said, “Well, you told you to relax more, right?”

Jeff laughed and leaned forward to kiss her forehead.  “You have a point there, darlin’.  How’s the head?”

“Better.  The caffeine’s helped clear it out a bit.  Another cup should do it.”

“I thought you’d say that.”  He retrieved the second cup he’d already made and gave it to her, then he sat back down on the bed next to her.  “All packed and ready to go for tomorrow?” he asked her, running a hand up and down her back.

“Yeah, I think so.”  She lay back and then scooted over to lean against him as he too stretched out.  “You’ll come to the house once you get your things from home right?”

“Yup.  Soon as I pack my things, I’ll hop the first plane to Monte Vista.  Your parents are ok with it?”

Aurora nodded.  “When I talked to them yesterday before we left for the party, they were surprised, but happy.  My mom especially.  My dad was just more surprised, I think.”  She grinned.  “I imagine he’s a more or less typical father.”

“Yeah, I figure I’m in for quite the interrogation,” Jeff told her with a laugh.  “That’s ok, though.  I don’t blame him in the least.”  Aurora snuggled against him and closed her eyes, sighing in contentment as she slid into a more restful sleep.

The next morning, the moving truck came bright and early for Aurora.  It was raining.

Jeff saw her get in and then left to get his own things together.  Aurora stared out the window, watching the scenery go by.  It was good to be going home.

Monte Vista was covered in a layer of snow.  A last bit of winter before spring hit, Aurora supposed.  A smile wiped out the pensive look on her face as the house came into view.  And there, outside the house were two of the people she loved most in the world.

She ran up and they enclosed her in hug.  Then her dad then lifted her up and swung her around.  “Welcome home, Rora,” he murmured, holding her tight.

“It’s good to be home, dad,” she murmured back, squeezing him tightly back.

After the movers put her furniture into storage and she unpacked her suitcase and her things, Aurora settled back into the routine of being home.  She walked through the hallway, peered into the familiar rooms.  Memories of her grandfather at the stove, or at his painting easel, her grandmother seated at the kitchen table, her parents stealing kisses in the living room, and of course, watching her Uncle Falkor propose to Faye.  Yes, it was definitely good to be home.  There was only one thing missing…

A few days later, there was a knock on the door.  Aurora had already jumped up from where she was sitting at the kitchen island and was outside in a heartbeat.  Soon as she got outside the door, she stopped and could only stare with a goofy smile on her face.

“Hey beautiful,” Jeff greeted her softly.  She launched herself at him and they both held on.

The meeting between Jeff and her parents went well.  Her mother seemed quite taken with this young man and was exceedingly happy for her daughter.  Her father was harder to read, though it didn’t take any special skill or power for Aurora to figure out that he was torn.  He couldn’t begrudge his daughter happiness, but he wasn’t quite ready to let her go just yet, let her go to another man.

So while she and her mother caught up at a girls only spa day, Draco entertained Jeffrey.  The two sat down for a game of chess.  “So,” Jeff murmured nonchalantly as he surveyed the board.  “Rora tells me you’re a cop, right?”

“That I am,” Draco replied in the same nonchalant tone.  He brought his gaze up from the chess board to hold Jeffrey’s for a long moment.  Looking into the deep red irises was… disconcerting, but Jeffrey didn’t break the eye contact.  Draco had to respect him for that.  “I have one question for you.  Do you love my daughter?”

“With everything I am,” Jeff told him, sincerity in every line of his face and the tone of his voice.

“Good.”  That was all Draco said as they continued their game.

Jeff’s move into the house went smoothly.  He changed his hair a bit, letting it grow out and chose clothing that was a bit more professional considering what he had chosen as his profession.

Jeff applied and was given a job at Doctor Simano’s Sanitarium.  He dreamed of becoming a world-renowned surgeon.

The house fell into a routine.  Jeff and Draco could often be found playing chess together.  It was impossible to mistake the slight tension that still surrounded the two, but they seemed to get along well enough.

Family dinners were definitely… interesting, to say the least.

“In a couple days, it’s Snowflake Day again,” Sophia reminded everyone.  “Falkor and Faye are coming, the kids.  Even my brother Eli said he’d try to make it.”

“Mmm,” Draco murmured.  He’d made a sort of peace with Sophia’s family.  The fact that Eli had made overtures to actually get to know his sister was a good thing, or at least he hoped so.  He was looking forward to seeing his brother and his brood.  Faye had been keeping him current with the kids of course, but he hadn’t actually gotten to see them in ages.

Looking around him, the patriarch of the Wyverns smiled slowly.  His wife, beautiful as ever.  His daughter, with her eyes shining as she looked at the man across from her.  And Jeff… he was a man that Draco held a grudging respect for, though there was still a part of him that wanted to kick him to the curb, the happiness he brought out in his daughter was enough to keep that impulse at bay.  So he smiled.  “It’ll be good to see everyone again, to have a holiday as a family.”

The others agreed and Aurora gave her father a bright smile.  The look she gave him spoke volumes.  And it was enough.  His family was happy.  That was all that mattered.


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