Malkom raised his head to the sky for the third time in as many minutes. Rain dripped down his face. After so many years here in this new land he still marvelled at the water falling carelessly from the sky. Turning his face back down, Malkom resumed hoeing his vegetable garden, enjoying the process of tending the food he grows to feed his family. Providing for them brings him great satisfaction. He could smell the popcorn Carrow and Ruby were eating while watching the late night movie. The stones on the driveway crunched under the weight of a car driving up to the house. Malkom carried his hoe around the side of the house to investigate their late caller.

"You there, gardener, does Carrow Graie live here?" Malkom frowned at the imperious tone of the well dressed male who was climbing out of the car, but inclined his head in affirmative, waiting to see what this couple wanted before informing them that she was Carrow Slaine now. Though his wife's friends had accepted her marriage to a vemon, he didn't want other people to judge her. The couple moved away from him and towards the grand front door. Not sensing danger, Malkom allowed them to do this and moved back around the house and inside the back way, hearing Carrow's footsteps as she went to answer the knock. Malkom moved through the house to more closely assess what these people wanted with his wife.

Carrow sighed, knowing that any visitors at this hour who had to knock probably weren't worth the trouble of getting off the couch. Her friends would just stroll on in, or have their husbands trace them into the house.
"Mother? Father?" Carrow's eyes widened as she recognised the couple on the step. "What are you doing here?" Mental note, next time definitely trust instincts and stay on the couch!

"Well I can see you've managed to make something of your life even without college Carrow," her mother sniffed as she stepped into the foyer beside her husband. Her eyes were assessing Carrow's house, her outfit, her jewellery. "Lost your ring I see. I can't say I'm surprised." The haughty voice brought back memories of parental abandonment and for a moment, Carrow lost her voice. Malkom moved silently behind them from the side hallway and she felt renewed strength.

"Actually I threw it into the ocean. What are you here for? Obviously not familial reconciliation." Still not taking any shit, Carrow wouldn't allow them any further into the house. Stupid handbag matching shoes bullshit. Stupid suits even on a rainy Sunday night. They were nothing like her and never would be. Unbridgeable gaps between them.

"We've decided it's time you married. We've made an arrangement with family friends. Their heir is a likeable man who will come into an excellent fortune. You couldn't do better." Malkom's fangs slipped free of his mouth. I will put their heads on pikes! As if they could take his ara away. His growl exploded from his throat, making her parents jump and spin around. Carrow walked quickly towards him and wrapped her hands around the muscles in his arm. They would finish this together.

"Well thanks for the offer, but I already have a husband and I definitely could not do better. You coming here tonight for this only makes me feel justified for never bothering to seek you out to introduce him or our children to you!" Carrow's eyes glistened with the ire boiling in her stomach, her hands glowing as power inadvertently rushed into them, Malkom's growl resonating through his throat. "I love my husband, heart and soul, and he is the only person on the earth who is allowed to tell me what to do! What were you thinking, that I would jump at the chance to please you still? Those days are long gone!" Malkom rubbed his thumb over the pulse in her neck, trying to slow her racing heart down. He murmured, "Shh ara, be calm, the baby doesn't like it when you get worked up."

Agape, her father could only stutter, "Th-the demon gardener is your husband? And you have even borne him children?"

"I am Carrow Slaine, married to the strongest male of the Lore, his destined mate. We have four children, and another on the way. They consider Elianna their only grandparent and it's going to stay that way. That is all you need to know. Now get out." Carrow walked away, leaving Malkom to loom over them until they walked out the door.

"She is mine, forever. Do not come back unless you are invited." Slamming the door in their face, Malkom felt a small sense of satisfaction. His ara loved him, and she had told them so forcefully. Their family was everything to her, as it was to him.

Following her scent, Malkom discovered Carrow curled up on their bed, shivering with the after effects of her confrontation with her parents. Wrapping his big body around hers, Malkom stroked her hair and kissed her shoulder. "Carrow is Malkoms." He rubbed her belly where their fifth child was growing slowly and Carrow sighed with renewed contentment.

"You always know how to make me happy. I love you," Carrow kissed her husband's lips and sat up. "Let's go tuck in our babies and finish that movie." Hand in hand, they walked across the hall into their son Gabriel's room. Malkom steadied her hips before she tripped over Gabe's toy swords. His perfect night vision saves her once again! Carrow pushed the dark hair back from her little man's growing horns and Malkom pulled the blankets over his shoulders. In the next room, their twin daughters Emerald and Sapphire slept in their adjoining cots. Wild blonde curls spread over their pillows, their hands reaching towards each other showing their unique bond even in sleep. Malkom picked up their bottles from where they'd thrown them to the floor, and marvelled for the millionth time that he could be so lucky. Three perfect children sired from his own seed, another on the way, and teenaged Ruby, his secret favourite who had grown into the image of her adoptive deela had been calling her stepdemon 'dad' for years now.

Still holding hands, Malkom led his pregnant wife into the media room to enjoy the rest of his night with their eldest daughter, popcorn, and a movie.