Hello everyone! I thought it was past due for a new chapter. I hope you enjoy it. A lot of Taranee and Cedric action in this one to make up for the lack of it in the past chapters. Story on!

Chapter 6: Dinner

Taranee paced back and forth in her room, her scarlet red dress wisping as she moved. She wore a red dress that snapped around the neck leaving her back exposed and stopping at her knees, allowing her toned legs visible. She wore red stiletto shoes that snapped around the ankles. She glanced over at the clock and growled. Cornelia looked at Taranee pace in the mirror while she did her hair and became bored,

"Um . .honey you're going to wear a hole in the floor. Especially with those shoes on." She said brushing her hair.

"It's 6:57. He suppose to be here at 7:00. I mean what is taking him so long?" She fell back on her bed staring up at the ceiling.

"I don't know? You said he had a meeting, maybe it ran over or something?" Cornelia remarked putting the brush back on the vanity. She got up walking over to her friend. Cornelia wore a dress equally as stunning as her friends. She wore a soft pink tube dress the fit all the way down to her waist then flowered out with mint green flowing in it design, stopping at her calves. She wore matching soft pink and mint green shoes. Taranee propped herself on her elbows when she heard a knock on her door.

"Who is it?" Taranee said in an annoyed tone

"It's your brother." He said in an equally annoyed tone. "Can I come in?"

"We aren't done getting dressed Peter. We'll be out in a minute." Cornelia said glancing a Taranee.

"Alright. I'll be in the living room." With that Peter walked away. Taranee looked at the clock again and sighed,

"It's 6:59."

"Maybe he likes to make a grand appearance." She said sitting beside Taranee.

"Come on Cornelia time to face the music. Rick isn't coming." Just then the doorbell chimed. Cornelia looked at Taranee,

"Or like I said, he likes to make a grand appearance." Taranee smiled from ear to ear. She was about to take off out of the room but stopped,

"How's my hair? Do you think the head band is too much and should let my bangs hang? Because he's never seen me without the bangs."

"I think you look great. Let's go."

Cedric entered the house baring gifts. He wore a navy blue suit with a pastel yellow vest underneath, navy designer shoes, and pastel and navy tie and handkerchief. He was definitely dressed for success. He handed Mrs. Cook a bouquet of flowers and kissed her cheek. Mr. Cook received a bottle of Brandy and a handshake with a wink. He still held an orange rose in his hand as he waited for Taranee to come down. Peter looked at him with a sly smirk on his face,

"So you know my sister's favorite flower." Cedric looked over at the young man that emerged from the living room.

"Oh yes. I make it my job to know what puts a smile on your sister's face. By the way I'm Rick Hauffman and I've heard quite a few tails from your sister about you." Cedric said extending his hand to Peter,

"All good I hope." Peter said shaking his hand.

"You already know it bro." Taranee said she from the top of the stairs. She and Cornelia were standing at the head of the stairs before they began their descent. Peter and Cedric's mouths both hung open as the girls walked down the stairs.

"Wow." Cedric said as he took Taranee's small hand in his own helping her down the rest of them. "You look smashing."

"Thank you."

"This is for you, your favorite. I hope I didn't worry you. My meeting took a little longer than I anticipated, but everything went great." Cedric said thinking about the nearly botched job the Hellions did getting the Talisman of Ignominy.

Peter stood with his mouth hanging open as he stared at Cornelia. She placed one hand under his chin closing his mouth.

"You were about to drool sweetie." Ignoring her statement,

"You're looking beautiful."

"Well thank you."

"Okay if everyone is ready we can go into the dining area." Mr. Cook said patting Cedric and Peter on the shoulders. Taranee and Cornelia waved goodbye to the guys as they were led into the Dining Room. Taranee, Cornelia, and Mrs. Cook went to the kitchen to bring out the food.

"See I told you he would be here." Cornelia said giving Taranee a wink.

"What!" Taranee said getting a harsh stare from her mother.

"You doubted my future son-in-law?" Mrs. Cook said placing her arms across her chest.

"Wait mom. Let's get through this dinner before you go planning my future for me, okay." Cornelia shook her head,

"Mothers you just have to love them. Um. . .right." Cornelia said as she got the mama look from Mrs. Cook as well. The ladies brought out the food and took their places and they all began to eat. Cedric's eyes bulged a little at how wonderful the meal tasted,

"Congratulations to the chef. I don't think I've ever tasted something so delicious." Mrs. Cook smiled broadly before saying,

"Why thank you Rick. I am glad you approve."

"If you think this is good you should try Mrs. Cook's homemade peach coppler. Cornelia said winking at Mrs. Cook. Peter looked over at Cedric then asked him,

"So. . . what kind of meeting were you in?" Cedric looked up swallowed what was in his mouth before saying,

"A business meeting. More like a merger."

"The bookstore is merging with something else?"

"Oh no. I have other companies." Mr. Cook looked up then asked,

"I didn't know you owned other companies."

"Of course. I usually get a board of directors to run things for me, so I don't have to get involved. I'm a simple man, who likes books. Besides if I were off running a company I would not have met the lovely Taranee here."

"You've made quite a lot of accomplishments to be so young, Rick. I am proud of you." Cedric looked up at the older lady at the head of the table with admiration in his eyes.

"Thank you, Mrs. Cook. That means a great deal to me. If you'll excuse me. . ." Cedric said rising from the table, Taranee looked up at him with a questionable face. "I was wondering if I could use your bathroom?"

"Sure honey. Taranee show Rick to the bathroom."

"Yes ma'am. Follow me." Taranee took Cedric's hand leading him to the bathroom. They came to the base of the stairs, she looked up at him then pointed around the stairs to a door.

"Right through there."

"Thank you."

"Wait a minute. Are you alright?"

"Of course darling. Why do you ask?" Taranee took his face in between her small hands searching his violet iris for an answer. She stroked his face and he closed his eyes enjoying the feel of her touch.

"Why do you ask questions for which you already have the answers. When you're ready to tell me, I'm ready to listen. I'll be right here when you get back." She let go of his face and pointed behind him. He looked over his shoulder then walked over to the door opening it and going inside. Cedric walked over to the sink staring at his own reflection after staring for awhile he bowed his head turning the water. He splashed his face he reached over grabbing a paper towel as his mind began to drift back to his own mother,

A young Cedric of 13 years of age, held his mother's hand as she laid on her death bed. The doctor that was in the room shook his head patting Cedric on the shoulder.

"I'm sorry son. We did all we could do. She only has a couple of minutes to live." Cedric looked back at the man with tears brimming his eyes. "I'll give you a few moment alone with her." The doctor gave him a nod before leaving. Cedric bowed his head trying his best not to cry.


"Yes mother?"

"Come here." He leaned forward she wrapped him up in his arms pulling him into her arms. She kissed his cheek then held on tight. "I'm sorry." She whispered in his ear. He looked at her curiously as if to say for what? "For not protecting you from your father better." Cedric nodded his head in acceptance. His father's cruelty was unbelievable. "I'm proud of you Cedric, and I love you. Be safe my beautiful son." her eyes rolled back into her head and she passed away. Cedric looked down at her and burst into a fit of tears holding on to her corpse tightly.

Cedric continued to stare in the mirror he sighed throwing the paper in the waste basket. He left the bathroom to find Taranee leaning against the wall with her back to him. He walked closer to her leaning down in her ear,

"Hey you."She jumped slightly then smile up at him,

"You scared me."

"We need to talk."

"What about?" When he didn't answer she shrugged her shoulders, "Okay. Let me tell my folks, and I'll be right back." She walked away and returned shortly. She walked over to a closet grabbing their coats. "We can talk in the gazebo. That's my favorite place to think." She took his hand and together the walked outside.

The moon shone brightly from up above as well as the stars casting an eerie glow. They sat down in silence at first just raveling in the beauty around them. Taranee was first to break the silence.

"So. . .what did you want to talk to me about?" Cedric took a deep breath before beginning,

"Where did go when I dropped you off?"

"Why? I told you I was with my friends at the Silver Dragon."

"You left your purse in the car. When drove back to give it to you, Mrs. Lin said you weren't there."

"Oh. . .We had to run an errand for the Lin's. The girls needed my help."

"Oh." He said. Cedric knew she was lying. He looked surprised when she asked,

"So how did your meeting go really go?"

"It was a success, but a couple of bumps along the way, but a success nonetheless."

"I have a confession to make."

"What would that be?" Cedric hoping against hope she wouldn't reveal herself as the fire guardian, but also hoping she would.

"I thought you weren't going to make it."

"Oh. I made you a promise remember. I never break a promise." Taranee shivered. "Come here." Cedric took her into his arms rubbing her arms through the coat. He sighed pulling her to him, "I want to tell you something."

"You can tell me anything." No I can't tell you everything. Cedric thought to himself,

"I want to tell you why I got upset at the dinner table." He stopped looking down at the ground. Taranee massaged his hand with her own,

"It's okay, Rick. I'm here for you." Cedric looked her directly in the eyes and saw her sincerity and something that looked like it could have been genuine love. And he thought her more beautiful for it. I wonder if she knew how many people I have hurt, how many times I've tried to kill her and her friends, and all the terrible things I've done would she still have that look in her eyes for me? He cleared his throat,

"I got upset because when I was 13 years old my mother died, but before she died she told me she loved me and that she was proud of me." He said looking into Taranee's eyes once more. She brought his head to the crook of her neck and held his head stroking his blonde hair gently he wrapped his arms around her tightly.

"I'm so sorry, Rick."

"It wasn't your fault."

"But I'm sorry you had to suffer. No one deserves to loose their mom." Cedric lifted his head to see her. Can she be serious? I haven't experienced empathy since my mother. No one has ever shone me compassion like this before, and I know she is honest in what she is saying. Could she still feel the same way if she found out I am her life long enemy?

"You mean that don't you?"

"Of course I do."

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For listening."

"Whatever you need to get off your chest I'm here for you. I know you had a hard life. Even though you told us your uncle was a good man. It isn't the same as a mother and a father, but it is better than no one at all. And sometimes uncles and aunts might be better for you than parents. In fact I believe they become parents."

"You are very wise."

"So I'm told." They chuckled together he pulled her back into his arms sighing in contentment,

"I truly care about you Taranee. Never forget that." He kissed her head holding on to her tightly.

"And I care about you too, Rick."

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