A.N.: So, some of the reviewers wanted me to continue writing for the category. Instead of posting a different story for every one-shot I write, I decided to combine them all in one place. First story the same, so go to the next chapters for new stories. Hope you all enjoy.
Nicholas is no longer on the run. But how will his family react to his return and the council's verdict? Set after 'The Renegade Hunter' when the Argeneau family congregates.
Strange, bizarre, weird, odd but oh so wonderful; Nicholas could not help smiling at his current predicament. He had spent fifty years on the run as a rogue away from family and friends after his wife, who was also his previous life mate, had died and now... He took a deep breath. 'Now you get a chance at redemption,' he told himself as he continued to dress in front of the body length mirror.
"Everything okay?" a feminine voice called from inside the bathroom. Nicholas grumbled as he leaned closure as if that would gain him the ability to be able to fix his tie. "I think in the last five decades I've lost the ability to tie one of these damn things," he admitted with frustration.
A laugh soon erupted from the bathroom along with a fierce brunette. "Mr. I can do anything is defeated by a tie? Are you still the same man I promised to marry?" Jo asked as she walked over to him.
"Well, I hope so," Nicholas smiled as Jo came over to help him. "You nervous?" she asked as she straightened his tie. "Of course, I know what my family probably thinks of me after fifty years," he stopped and looked down at Jo as she continued to straighten his tie unnecessarily, "Are you nervous?"
"Nervous? Why should I be nervous? I'm just meeting your family for the first time, and on top of that, most of them thought you were a murder and a rogue so I don't even know how they are going to think of me? Nervous? No, of course not." Jo responded as she tightened his tie a little too tight. "Jo," he gasped as he loosened the tie, "They will love you despite everything. As for my guilt, Uncle Lucian has already talked to the council on my behalf, remember?" Jo nodded as she moved back to the mirror to fix her hair.
"Have I told you that you look beautiful today and I love you, Jo?" he asked as he moved behind her. She simply shook her head in response.
"You're beautiful, gorgeous really, and I love you. Everything will be fine. My brother and sister already love you, which is all that matters to me," he informed her as he lightly kissed the back of her neck up to her ear.
"Ready?" he asked taking her hand in his own. "As I'll ever be," she smiled warily and the couple headed down the hall and down the stairs to where the Argeneau family waits.
Thomas and Jeanne Louise were downstairs with their aunts, uncles and cousin as they anticipated their older brother's arrival. "Father isn't here," Jeanne stated as they waited for Thomas's life mate, Inez, to appear with their aunt, Marguerite. "Yea, well…if he wouldn't appear for my wedding, why would he appear for this?" he replied with a sour tone. "You should not be so hard on your father," a sweet female voice stated behind them.
"Aunt Marguerite," they say in unison. "Your father is not here because he was not informed," Marguerite informed the siblings. "Why wasn't he been informed?" Thomas asked her suspiciously. "Well, your uncle, Lucian, has sent an enforcer to see…um…him," she stopped herself. "Who?" Thomas continued his line of questions as his sister just stared at their aunt.
"Eshe d'Aureus. Oh look, I think your brother is coming down," she said as she drew their attention to the stairs and quickly walk away to find her husband and life mate.
"Think she's hiding something?" Jeanne asked her brother. "Probably," he replied as he waved to Inez.
Nicholas stared down at his family with mixed expression, yet when Jo grasped his hand he instantly relaxed. He continued to remind himself that as long as Jo was with him, everything would be alright.
Even if every single pair of eyes focused with hate upon him, he would be able to stand tall with Jo by his side.
Yet as they descended the stairs, Nicholas noticed that they were not greeted with expressions of disgust and shame but with relief, hope and…love. Nicholas was taken back but continued to the bottom of the stairs as a smile broke out of his face.
The first people Nicholas spotted were his two siblings and he could feel his heart ache. Nicholas never imagined he would miss them so much in the short period of time, short for his people anyway. Nicholas even missed his sister, who usually caused his a great deal of annoyance when he was first married.
Now, he could not help but smile and almost weep to see their faces. "Nicholas, you've met my life mate, Inez, already. Inez, my long lost brother, Nicholas," Thomas introduced. "I'm not your long lost brother," Nicholas corrected him. "Yes you are. No one knew where you were for about five decades, so you are my long lost brother," Thomas grinned.
Nicholas rolled his eyes then turned to his sister, "Jeanne…" but was cut off as she leaped to hug him. "We've all missed you so much!" she exclaimed while speaking for the whole family.
"It is wonderful to have you back in the family. We have missed you these past years and so much has happened," Marguerite said cheerful as she appeared at the front of the group with a tall dark haired man behind her.
Nicholas smiled and pulled Jo closer, "Everyone, this is my life mate, Josephine Willan," he announced as he rubbed her arm. She winced when he introduced her, Jo really did hate when people used her full name.
"Another life mate so soon? Wow, you're lucky," another voice called out. Nicholas did not need to locate the speaker to realize that it was his cousin, Vincent Argeneau.
Yet he was surprised to see a blonde woman with her arms lovingly around his waist. "You have a life mate too?" Nicholas asked his cousin.
"Yes, this is Jackie Morrisey, my life mate and wife," he smiles, all too proud at the statement. "It's nice to finally meet you, Nicholas," the woman, who was introduced as Jackie, said with a cheery voice. "Nice to meet you too," Nicholas replied with a smile.
Marguerite smiled as well as she introduced the dark haired man behind her, "And this is my life mate, Julius Notte." Nicholas stared at her for a moment, "Julius…" he mumbled as the name sank in. "Your dog?" he asked while a little confused.
"Well yes, they share the same name, but it turns out…oh! It's such a long story. You really have missed quite a lot while you were gone, dear," she said with a worrying expression. "Like, oh, almost all of my children have found their life mates!" she said with the natural enthusiasm of a mother.
Nicholas was about to say he knew from information he heard over the years, but then realized she said 'almost' when he was informed that all of them had indeed.
Probably reading the confusion in his mind as well as on his face Marguerite answered, "It turns out I have a fifth child. I had a fourth son with Julius born five hundred years ago while Jean Claude was assumed dead the first time. Well, you might remember that, I'm not sure. Anyway, his name is Christian and he is over there with his siblings," she informed her and Nicholas immediately spotted a tall auburn haired individual with Lucern, Bastien, Entienne, Lissianna and all their respected life mates.
"Yet, there is plenty of time now," she stated while drawing his attention again from his new questions, "but I think the rest of the family is ready to hear what we were all assembled here for," she said with a smile as she turned to a couple that just entered.
The room fell silent as Lucian Argeneau and his life mate, Leigh Gerard, entered the room. Every one's gaze was upon the two as they made their way through the crowd, and Nicholas could not help his reaction as he stiffened. Jo hugged him gently as she brought him back to reality.
He was being foolish, he already knew the verdict and how this would all turn out. Yet, he could not help but feel the fear the millenniums old man seemed to strike into almost everyone.
When Lucian reached his nephew he gave him a supporting smile as his uncle before turning to the rest as head of the family, "Well, I know you are all curious about Nicholas's return and his fate decided by the council. It's hard to pass judgment on anyone, even more when they are family. So, I'll be quick. Based on evidence discovered over the last month the council ruled that Nicholas Argeneau is innocent of all charges he was accused of roughly fifty years ago."
The mood of the room suddenly lifted as sighs of relief could be heard. "You all may go back chatting and catching up with each other since we do not usually have gatherings like this," and with that last sentence, Lucian went directly back to Leigh.
Nicholas smiled thoughtfully the rest of the night as member after member of his family came up to chat with him. Most welcomed him back and some surprised him when they stated they never thought of him as disowned or rogue but always a part of the family.
He could not ask for a better day, one he dreamed of and never thought it would be possible since he was always sure of his guilt. Yet, it was possible and it had happen, all thanks to Jo, who never gave up on him despite hardly knowing him or the circumstances.
Nicholas looked down at Jo as she loosened his tie while they sat on a couch. It was an hour till morning as most of his family needed to get home before the sun rise. He smiled down her lovingly and whispered, "Thank you." "For what? Loosening your tie?" she laughed.
"No," he stated in a low husky tone with all seriousness. "Thank you for giving me a future. I love you so much but you have given me a chance at a life with you and my family. I am forever in your debt," he finished as he leaned closer to her. "Oh really?" she smiled with interest.
"You two aren't going to go at it right here and now, are you?" Thomas asked as he plopped down on the couch next to them. "Leave them alone. We were once as bad as them," Inez slapped his arm as she sat next to him.
"Yes, but they had two weeks of nothing but alone time. It should be out of their systems by now," he retorted. "You make it sound like it was a vacation," Nicholas glared at his brother. "Well, wasn't it?" Thomas smirked. Nicholas rolled his eyes.
"Nice to have you back," Thomas smiled as he smacked Nicholas's arm. He nodded in response as he held Jo closer, "How is Jeanne?"
"I'm doing just fine, thank you very much," Jeanne answered him as she took the arm chair next to them. "That tone is kind of scary. Maybe you should stop hanging around Uncle Lucian so much," Thomas spoke with mock concern.
"Shut up," she snapped back then turned to Nicholas, "He thinks he is so hilarious because he makes Inez laugh. Thank goodness you weren't here when he kept using his surfer dude lingo."
"You've seemed to grow up since I last saw you," Nicholas told Jeanne, meaning it to be a compliment.
"Yea, I had to when you decided to go on the run," she informed him as she stood up and smacked the arm Thomas previously hit, "Never do that again, by the way! Just because we're half sibling doesn't mean we love or worry any less."
Nicholas nodded in understanding and began to say something when Jeanne softened. "We're also glad to have you home. I'm sure everyone has told you that," Jeanne smiled.
"Yes, it is great to be home," he agreed as he leaned back. For the first time in fifty years, Nicholas took a deep breath and completely relaxed.
A.N. Thank you for reading.