AN: Okay, Tasha here you go. What you've been bugging me about forever. I will finish this, but keep in mind I am working on two other stories and going on vacation. But here's the first part


Rylan loved summer. This year she was working every other day at the antique store with Richie. They were switching off with Duncan and Tessa so nobody had to work everyday. On her days off she planned to veg at the beach and shop. She figured Richie would be working on his music locked in the basement for hours on end like always.

"So, how does it feel to be free?" Tessa asked handing Rylan another carrot to peel.

"I don't know; Duncan seems pretty vengeful right now. I think I'm going to miss school pretty soon."

"You have been picking on him."

"But it's so easy! I can't resist!"

"Then you deserve whatever is coming to you," Tessa told her. The doorbell rang.

"I got it!" Richie yelled since he was walking right past.

"Tessa MacLeod?" the man on the other side asked.

"Just a second. TESSA!"

"What is it?" she asked rounding the corner from the kitchen.

"For you."

"Thank you, go help Rylan." Richie went for the kitchen mumbling something about fixing whatever culinary wrong she had done. "May I help you?" she asked turning to the man on the doorstep.

"Are you Tessa MacLeod?"

"Yes, I am."

Rylan and Richie looked up from their half-peeled carrots as Tessa entered the kitchen.

"What's up?" Richie asked.

Tessa ignored him and reached for the phone. "Duncan, come home, now. It's important." She hung up.

"What's going on?" Rylan asked glancing from Tessa to Richie. Tessa answered in French then went into the other room. Rylan looked at Richie. "What did she say?" Richie's French was better than Rylan's. That wasn't saying much, but he could still translate for her most of the time.

"She said everything's gonna be fine. That means something's wrong."

"Who was at the door?"

"Some business looking guy. Wonder what's going on." Richie put down his carrot and went into the living room where Tessa sat staring at the papers in her hands. "What's wrong, Tess?"

Tessa looked up at the two teens that she considered her own. "Why don't you two go out tonight? Dinner and a movie, on me. Use the credit card and take my car."

"What's going on?" Rylan asked.

"We will discuss it later. Go."

Richie and Rylan looked at each other and silently agreed to go. They turned and left Tessa alone until Duncan came home.

"What's wrong, Tessa?" Duncan asked as soon as he walked in the door. "Where are the kids?" He seemed panicked by their absence. And with so many immortals lurking around he had a right to be.

"I sent them out for the evening. We need to talk."

"What happened?"

"I was served this afternoon," Tessa explained.

"As in a court date?" Duncan asked sitting next to her on the couch.

"It's Julie, she suing me for custody."

"Of Rylan? She's ignored her her whole life. What does she want with Rylan now?"

"She wants her back. We have to go to court next week."

"I was going to take her to the cabin next week," Duncan protested. "She's excited. I can't cancel on her because of her mother."

"We don't have a choice," Tessa told him. "If we don't show, they'll take her away for sure."

"Don't worry," Duncan put an arm around her. "Nobody's taking Rylan from us. Not now, not ever. We'll fight as long and hard as we have to. Besides, no sane judge would grant Julie custody."

"That's what we said about us, and she lives here," Tessa pointed out.

"Julie Kregson may be a good mother to her children, but not to Rylan. She's not going anywhere."

"How could she do this to us? She's been here. She knows what all we have done for Rylan and how much we love her. How can she think that Rylan would be better off with her? She has her children, and I have mine. Why can't we just leave it at that?"

"Because your daughter and her daughter are the same person. She doesn't want to share."

"Neither do I! She's gone this long without her, what does she want with her now?"

"I don't know. We'll leave that to the lawyer. I'll call her in the morning. In the mean time, how do we tell Rylan?"

. . . . . .

"She what?" Richie demanded.

"I'm not leaving!" Rylan yelled.

"Of course not," Tessa assured her.

"Especially to move in with her."

"Petite lapine, I promise you; you are not going anywhere. Ever."

"We had plans for the summer," Rylan continued. "And now she's ruining them."

"We can postpone the cabin, Rylan. We'll still go," Duncan promised.

"But what if she."

"There are no what ifs," Tessa interrupted. "You are ours. And that's all there is to it." She put an arm around Rylan. "We have an excellent lawyer; she won't let anything happen to you."

"I know." Rylan sounded less than convinced.

"Rylan, come here." Duncan gestured her over and sat her on his lap. "Have we ever not protected you?"


"Have we ever just stood by and watched?"


"Did you think we would get custody after George Douglas?"


"Did we say we would?"


"And did we?"


"I'm making you that same promise right now. You have nothing to worry about. Okay?"


Tessa stood and offered Rylan her hand. "Petite lapine, I think it's time for you to go to bed. Come." Rylan took her hand and Tessa took her up to her room.

"You've been awfully quiet," Duncan commented looking over at Richie who was silently building up rage on the couch.

"How can she do that?" Richie asked staring blankly ahead and shaking his head. "How can that bitch do this to Ry after all she's already put her through?"

"Hey, I know you don't like Julie, but watch your language."

"She's gotta want something from her," Richie continued oblivious to the interruption. "That's the only reason."

"Richie, be reasonable. Rylan's sixteen, what can she possibly have that Julie wants?"

"A kidney?"


"Bone marrow? Lung? Who knows?"

"Richie, the only thing Julie wants from Rylan is love. She hates that Rylan doesn't like her."

"So she's going to fix this little problem by steeling her away from her family?" Richie asked.

"She probably sees us as what's keeping Rylan from wanting and needing her. With us out of the picture Rylan's her's."

"Mac, you''re not going to let them take Ry, right?"

"Richie, I don't care what it takes; Rylan is not leaving this family," Duncan assured him. "I've promised her, I've promised Tessa, and I'll promise you. And you know I keep my word."


. . . . . .

A week later Tessa dressed Rylan up in yet another new dress and did the girl's hair. "There's nothing to worry about," Tessa reminded her as they along with Duncan and Richie walked into the courthouse. "You came with us and you're leaving with us." Rylan still looked worried. "We have promised you, non? Nothing will happen."

Inside they were sent into a conference room where Julie and her family were already sitting. Rylan held tightly onto Tessa's hand and refused to look at her mother.

"See the girl that looks like mommy?" Julie asked the kids that sat next to her pointing at Rylan. "That's your sister. She's going to come live with us."

"No she's not," Richie argued without thinking. One look from Duncan silenced him.

"I'm Brad Kergson," Julie's husband introduced himself to Duncan.

"Duncan MacLeod," Duncan answered firmly shaking Brad's hand. "You'll forgive me if I'm not in much of sociable mood."

"Of course. I just want to tell you that I know this is a dramatic move but Julie really misses Rylan."

Richie snorted and Tessa hit him.

"If this is what Julie feels she wants to do, that's fine," Duncan answered. "We don't mind fighting for Ry." He purposefully used the nickname only Richie used for her to prove how close they all were. "We did it before and we'll do it again."

Just then the lawyers came into the room.

"Monica, this is Rylan," Tessa introduced the lawyer to her charge.

"It's nice to meet you, Rylan," Monica said sweetly. "I've read all about you. And know you and Duncan and Tessa and Richie better than you know each other and yourselves. I know you are a perfect family. And I'm going to do everything in my power to keep it that way."

"Sorry we're late, Mom," a deep voice said from the doorway.

Rylan who had refused to look at anyone since she sat down jumped to her feet. "Kevin!"

The man in the Marine uniform grinned broadly and swung her into the air. "Lizzie!" he hugged her tightly. "You look beautiful. Just like Mom," he said not realizing that was far from a compliment in the girl's eyes.

"Thanks," she answered. 'Duncan's eyes,' she reminded herself. 'Tessa said you have Duncan's eyes and her lips.' "What are you doing here?"

"Mom wrote me and told me what was going on. I got leave to come help. You always were a little trouble maker," he smiled broadly at her and picked her up again. He held her on his hip as if she were three. Her feet dangled a good foot off the ground. Duncan guessed Kevin had to be at least six foot six.

"Hey, Mom," the twins stepped out from behind Kevin and took seats on the Fisher/Kregson side of the room. Julie's younger children climbed into their laps.

"So are you going to introduce me, or what?" Kevin asked putting Rylan down again. She took his hand and led him over. It was very easy to see that the only person in the world Rylan loved more than Richie was her oldest brother Kevin.

"This is Duncan and Tessa MacLeod."

"Pleased to meet you sir, ma'am," Kevin greeted.

"And Richie."

"Richie as in Richie?" Kevin looked Richie up and down smiling. "Last time I saw you were barely anything. Just this high," he held his hand flat around the height of Rylan's ribs. "Now you look like you could make a hell of a Marine if you ever wanted to."

"I think I'll leave the world saving to those capable of saving the world," Richie answered also seeming very comfortable around the giant Marine.

"If you ever change you're mind I'll put a good word in for you."

"I'll keep that in mind," Richie answered.

The door opened, the judge came in, and everyone took their seats. The two families on either side of the table.

"Since this is a very unique case I get to decided how we handle it," Judge Beal started. "I will see everyone in turn. First the lawyers, then Mrs. Kregson's children, then.Mr. Ryan, then the minor in question, Ms. Fisher then each set of prospective parents. Then I will make my decision. Is everyone clear on that?" Everyone said they were. "Good I will handle the proceedings in my office. Ms. Arden, Mr. Malcolm come with me." The lawyers got up and followed the judge into his office.

Rylan sat tensely as each one of her brothers went in turn to tell their opinion. "Oh, no," she whispered.

"What?" Tessa asked.

"I just realized.Skylar and I are the only one's who don't like Julie. The twins and Kevin love her. They think she's great. It's the four of us against all of them. We're screwed."