After my encounter with Adrian's army, several more armies came to Houston to see me, only this time they were warned in advance not to touch the humans. None of them wanted to fight, but they did want to make treaties with me, because they had heard how powerful I was. In addition to the warnings Adrian's army relayed about me, there were a few rumors going around from my first encounter with Emilio's army regarding just how powerful I was and that I was not to be messed with, although none of the information I had given to Rafael regarding time travel had been leaked; evidentially Emilio was keeping that to himself.
Between the rumors from the two encounters, none of the nearby armies wanted to mess with me, hence why they all sent ambassadors to arrange treaties. I was easy enough to deal with, because I had no army of my own to support and all I wanted was one tiny city, so the various leaders of the newborn armies mostly thought they were getting a good bargain. A few of them wanted to remove me, for moral reasons, but did not have the means to do so, so they signed treaties with me instead. And so Houston was safe from vampires for a time.
Years passed while I waited and bided my time in that city, before the event I had been waiting for finally occurred: my mother was born. Mariam had waited a few years after the death of her first son before getting pregnant with her second child. When that child turned out to be a girl, she named her Ashley. She had not wanted to name the child my mother's name, because as long as my mother was not born, Mariam would be guaranteed life. But then I pointed out that my mother was her only child to survive, so if this child was not my mother, it would die. The last thing Mariam wanted was another dead baby, so she caved and named her Ashley.
"Fine, but I'm naming her after your middle daughter, not because you said I'd name my daughter that," Mariam had said.
And so it seemed that my mother was named after my daughter, meaning that I had the original cause and effect backwards. Alice did not have to know my mother was named Ashley to name my daughter after her, because my mother would end up being named whatever my middle daughter was named. If Alice had chosen the name Amy or Amber, my mother probably would have been named Amy or Amber.
My mother was an adorable, healthy, happy baby. Now that Mariam was a new mother, I started visiting her at the plantation more often, so that she would not have to come out to see me. I was still relying on her to pull my twins out of their wormhole, but also I enjoyed spending time with my mother. I did not get very many years to spend with her in my human life and I made up for that by spending the first few years of her life with her. It was a little strange, because I was the adult and she was the baby, but by now I was very used to strange.
The birth of my mother marked a major milestone for me and not just because she would need to be born in order to later give birth to me, but also because it meant I was one step closer to going home. I could not take my grandmother with me to the future to serve as a host for one of my daughters until after my mother was born, or it would destroy the timeline. Now the timeline was ensured and all I had to do was wait for my other host to be born.
Kair and Kare had told me that the second host would be a son born to my grandmother after my mother, so all that was left to do was wait for Mariam to get pregnant again. This knowledge was bitter sweet, because I really wanted to go home and return to my family, but I had gotten used to it here and was really enjoying spending this time with my human family. In my many years here I had grown close to the Jacksons and the Allens and particularly little Ashley.
Ashley was a precious ball of three year old energy when Mariam got pregnant again. Her blond hair had grown in and framed her head in beautiful curly ringlets and her brown eyes lit up whenever I walked into the room. She was so precious that I could not bring myself to tear Mariam away from her by taking her with me to the future. I knew that it was dangerous to wait, because the date of Mariam's death was quickly approaching, but I had yet to discern just how or when she would die. She was young and healthy and unless she died in childbirth or in an accident, I could see no potential cause.
There was a chance that this baby was not the host I would need. There was a second possibility, although I knew he would not grow up with my mother on the Allen plantation, because he was never mentioned to me before. The second possibility was far more macabre, because Mariam may not carry this pregnancy to term. And although that would mean the loss of a second child, it would also mean that she could potentially gain another few years with my mother. This was not likely, because I was fairly certain that my grandfather had told me that my grandmother died when my mother was very young, but as long as I did not know the exact date, I decided it was best to sit back and wait.
By the time Mariam was seven months pregnant, it seemed inevitable that this baby would be the host I was waiting for, because if I were to take them to the future, it would be viable. Kare and Kair had refused to comment on the matter, insisting on keeping us in the dark, but when Mariam came down with a fever and a headache, they finally cracked and revealed that this baby was indeed their second host. They told us that he was a boy and that Mariam had contracted smallpox.
A smallpox vaccine was already in existence, but it had to be given before the disease was contracted and was powerless once the virus was already established and spreading in the body. Now that Mariam had it, it was only a matter of weeks, possibly even days, before she and her unborn child would be dead and there was no cure. And because the vaccine was so successful, no cure was ever discovered or invented, so even if I brought her to my own time, there was nothing that our modern doctors could do.
An egg was Mariam's only hope for survival, but I did not have an egg to give, because neither Kair nor Kare's eggs had been disgorged. They were still safe and secure within my egg pouch and I did not see how I could possibly be able to save my grandmother with them before the smallpox took her life. But I had to try and I must be successful, because otherwise my girls would not have had hosts and would not be alive and visiting me.
And so I decided it was time to take my grandmother and her unborn child to the future and try to save them. If I do not have eggs ready in the present, then the present must not be our destination, and we will just have to keep going into the future until we find the date of the disgorgement. And if that does not work, then maybe Carlisle and Edward can put their heads together and find a treatment for smallpox and extend my grandmother's life long enough for my eggs to emerge, so that I can save her.
Either way, the solution was in the future, so I organized my stuff and prepared for our departure, while I awaited Kair and Kare's return. I would not be coming back, so I gave all of my possessions to Monroe. I told Augie that I was returning home to Arizona and that he was free to make whatever use of my cabin that he wanted. And then all that was left was getting Mariam away and making it look like she had died.
I enlisted Monroe to help me get Mariam away from Augie and from Houston. The plan was to use her illness as an excuse to travel with her to a major city to visit a doctor. She started off with a fever and a headache, but within three days it was fairly obvious that she was incredibly sick, so our desire to get her medical attention was not unfounded. I had already planted the seed for my departure, but now I modified it by offering my help to Monroe. I would go with them to the city and once Mariam was better, I would continue on to Arizona on my own, while Mariam and Monroe would return to Houston.
That was what we told Augie when we loaded up the carriage for the trip, but what we really did was ride out of town and find a sheltered spot to wait for Kair and Kare. We were not even settled in when I heard their familiar voices calling for Mariam to break through the fabric of space-time for them. They were a little older than they usually were when they came to visit me here, but they still could not have been more than six or seven. I greeted them with the typical hugs and kisses and then we got down to business.
"How is this gonna work?" I asked.
"Simple: Mariam opens the hole as usual, but this time all four of us enter. She won't be able to breathe in there, so you have to pick her up and run her into the present as quickly as possible. If she looks like she needs a breath of air, we stop, have her open up a hole, and get out to take a breath. Then she gets back in and we continue until we reach your present," Kair explained.
"Shouldn't we go further into the future? To when I disgorge your eggs so that I can use the eggs to save her and the baby?" I asked.
"She's not going to die this week, so there's no rush for the eggs. First we'll go to when you're supposed to be and then if Grandpa Carlisle can't stabilize her, we'll do this again," Kare replied.
"Don't you already know what happens?" I asked.
"Yes and Grandpa Carlisle is able to stabilize her, but we find it makes people more comfortable if we pretend we don't know for certain," Kair answered.
"Alright, then how often do we stop for air?" I asked.
"Twice," Kare replied.
"Let's go," Kair said giving Monroe a farewell hug. "Take care of the Jackson family."
"I will little one. You don't have to worry, because I'll get that death certificate for Mary in New Orleans just like you said and Augie will never know the difference," Monroe replied.
"We won't be visiting any of you again. Thank you for all that you have done for us and Dad," Kare said taking her turn to hug Monroe.
"You won't even come to tell me how Mariam and the baby are doing?" he asked.
"No, because we already know," Kare replied.
"They're fine. They live very long and healthy lives and they're both very happy in the future," Kair supplied.
I hugged Monroe too and wished him well, before picking Mariam up in my arms. She opened the wormhole and the four of us entered. We journeyed to the present with two stops for air just as the twins had said. Kair led the way, opening the way into the future for all of us to follow, leading us up a steep slope and then back down, and choosing the exact right points to exit. Mariam opened the final hole once we arrived and then I was finally home.
I stepped out into my living room in Texas only two feet from where I had first fallen into the hole and Alice and the children were there waiting for me. The first thing I did was lay Mariam down on the couch and the second thing I did was to give in to the nausea that had been plaguing me since the moment I stepped into the wormhole. It seemed it got worse each time I entered and exited, so by the third and final exit, I was puking all over my living room.
Alice was right there holding a paint bucket under me, so I knew my girls had already been here to warn her of what would happen, but they did not warn her of everything. They failed to mention that my eggs would be prematurely disgorged during the puke fest and neither Alice nor I was expecting to look down and see the gleaming white eggs in the bucket of blood. My first instinct was to reach down, pick up an egg, and re-swallow it, because it was too soon and Allison had told me before that a premature egg could be saved if it was re-swallowed in time.
"Wait Dad!" Kair cried.
"Stop," Kare added.
I did not want to stop and risk the health of the remaining egg, but I had a feeling that my girls knew what they were doing, so I paused my actions and waited for them to explain.
"You have to give the egg to Mariam," Kare revealed. "That's how you save her."
"We told a little fib when we said Grandpa Carlisle would stabilize her, because we didn't want you to know all of the details before it happened," Kair added.
"If you knew, you'd try to stop the disgorgement and then Mariam and the baby would die," Kare revealed.
"But it's too soon," I protested.
"It's a little early, but our eggs are viable now. It's been longer than you think, because time flows differently inside wormholes," Kair replied.
"It'll be fine, trust us," Kare added.
I did trust my girls, so I kneeled down over Mariam, handed her my second egg, and said, "You have to swallow it and then you and the baby will be fine."
Mariam was weak from her illness, tired from her pregnancy, and weary from the journey, but she reached out, took the egg, and swallowed it.
I hugged and thanked her. Then I went and hugged each and every one of my loved ones and told them how much I love and missed them. It was a very happy reunion and I was extremely glad to be home. And by the time I had explained who Mariam was and where I had been, the miracle of the egg had kicked in and my grandmother was healthy once more.
Author's Note: Just one Jasper chapter left. Please review!