SIX MONTHS LATER
Rina turned around and smiled at Colt and Kat playing cards at the table while she got dinner together. They had come a long way the three of them. They were a family, still baffled her that she was "mommy" to two little somebodies. But she loved them with all her heart.
"Alright space monkeys." She said as she carried three plates of food to the table. "Cards away, time to eat."
Quickly the cards were gone and they had dinner in front of them. Just as she was about to join them the ships computer announced a new email. Standing she went to the screen and read the email. It was from her mother. The family wanted to get together the following night and she was expected to be there. Her mother made sure to point out that it had been almost nine months since either of her parents had seen her. Sighing she typed in a reply apologizing for the lack of contacted, informing her mother that tomorrow night would be fine for her, and that she'd be there with two other guest, her children.
She then brought up the autopilot and typed in the coordinates to her home planet. After which she placed a call to Terek telling him that they'd have to reschedule, that she had a family thing.
Returning to the table Colt was the first to speak. "Where we going mommy?"
"To meet your grandparents, assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins." She had barely finished the sentence when she was peppered with a million questions from each of them.
The next day Rina smiled as Colt and Kat skipped down the street toward her family home. They were talking about all the things they would do with their family. How big their grandparents' house was. How long until they would get to swim in the pool Rina had told them about.
She chuckled when they walked right past the gate to the house. "Hey monkeys you're both so excited you walked by the entrance." Pivoting around, they both ran for her. They grabbed the gate with their little hands and all but stuck their faces through the bars. Laughing out right Rina went to the keypad and punched in the code.
Smiling she grab their little hands in hers and lead them into the house. Following the sound of her family Rina took them to the living room. Rina stood in the doorway with Colt on her left and Kat on her right. Within seconds the family had stopped speaking and all eyes were on the three of them. Putting a hand on a shoulder of each child she looked over her family.
"Everyone I would like you all to meet Colt and Kat, my son and daughter."
The family just starred at them after her admission. The children were shuffling from foot to foot as they stood there, clearly nervous. Rina squeezed their shoulders and then her father moved from the couch toward them. He got down on a knee a few feet in front of them.
"Do you both know who I am?" He asked them gently.
Both children nodded. Rina ran a hand over their heads. She recognized this voice of her father's. He used it often while she had been growing up. Kaitlyn suddenly began backing up closer to Rina.
"Don't worry little one, you're safe. You will always be safe from now on. That I promise you, you and your brother."
Kaitlyn straightened and looked at him questioningly. "Can I hug you?" She asked him softly.
Rina watched as her father nodded and spread his arms wide. Kaitlyn smiled and ran to him. Colt stayed behind with her and Rina looked down at him. He looked unsure of the situation. With Kaitlyn safely in his arms her father turned to Colt. "What about you bud? Would you like a hug as well?"
Colt nodded before walking slowly over and allowing his grandfather to wrap him in his free arm. Rina stayed standing in the doorway with her arms wrapped around herself. She didn't notice Dev had moved beside her until he spoke.
"Crazy how easily it comes isn't it? How quickly it's like they had always been there?" He asked.
Rina looked over to where Omarian sat beside Alex holding his little sister and then back to her father with the children. "I can't imagine not having them with me."
Dev hugged her close. "I'm happy for you, all three of you. Although I'm sure your brothers are going to be more than willing to fill the part of male role model if you need one let me know."
"Thanks." She kissed his cheek. Rina looked back to her father. He was still holding both children and was walking up to Adron.
"This is your uncle Adron and your cousin JJ. Your aunt Livia is over there with your aunt Alix."
"Welcome to the family kiddos." Adron smiled.
Next her father took them to Jacyn. At the site of his uniform Kaitlyn began to curl closer to her grandfather and away from Jacyn. Rina knew what was wrong right away.
"Jac, take off your jacket." Rina said as she approached and Jacyn complied. Once she made it to them she grabbed Jacyn's wrist and held his arm out so Kaitlyn could see his forearm. Rina pointed to the tattoo that she had and that they had seen on Kasen when they'd stayed with her. "See the tattoo Kaitlyn? You remember what I told you that means?" Kaitlyn nodded but Rina knew it wasn't enough. She pushed a little farther. "What does it mean?"
"It's the symbol of the Sentella, the one no one but members know. The words mean 'innocent before evil family above all else'."
"That's right." Jacyn smiled. "And you and your brother are family." Jacyn held his hand out flat and when Kat put her smaller one on it he kissed hers. "I will always protect you both. Always."
Kaitlyn nodded and Rina's father moved on to Tiernan and Taryn. Rina turned to Jacyn. "I'm sorry. I forgot you'd probably be in uniform. They've been in prison most of their lives. She sometimes has a hard time with the uniforms. It's not you, really, it's just her memories. I'm hoping after some time and self-defence lessons she'll heal, but-"
Jacyn cut her off with a kiss to the forehead. "It's fine. Omarian was the same way when Dev first brought him home. I understand. But how anyone could hurt anyone as innocent as a child is beyond me." Jacyn shook his head.
Kaitlyn's giggle caught Rina's attention. She turned to find Tiernan holding her on his hip and dipping her toward the ground. Taryn was holding Colt up in the air as if he were flying.
"Alright boys, they've met their uncles, now I want to see my grandbabies." Rina smiled as her mother came forward and the twins put the kids down. Her mother bent down and held her arms open. "Come here babies."
Both children ran to their grandmother and hugged her. "Oh my, you're both so small."
"We were smaller before we spent two weeks with Kasen." Colt said.
Rina groaned and fought the urge to hide behind Jacyn as her mother glared at her. "Care to explain why Kasen saw my grandchildren before me?"
Rina went to answer but Colt beat her. "Mom had just gotten us all out of a Rit prison. She had pushed the engine of the ship we stole too hard to get us out and it failed. She managed to contact Kasen and she came and got us."
Rina groaned again as her mother's zipped to her again. "You infiltrated a prison to get them out?"
Rina was just about to tell her that that was not exactly what happened when Colt beat her again. "No, they arrested her for pretending to be someone else and then tortured her to make her tell them where the other people were. She was thrown in the cell with us. That's how she met us."
"COLT! How about we curb this story before everyone starts yelling at me?"
Colt looked at her apologetically. "Sorry mommy."
"You were arrested by the Rits?" Dev asked.
"Well not me exactly." Rina shrugged.
"RINA!" Her father growled.
"Alright. I was docked and I heard that there were Rit ships looking for Dev and or uncle Syn. I knew Dev was headed that way to switch loads with me and it was a little too close for comfort for me. So I changed all the computer signals for my ship to match the Talia's. I dropped all my cargo and logs with Kasen, lying by telling her I had a league tail to deal with. Then I set out and led the Rits in the opposite direction of where Dev would be coming in. I was captured, tortured, and escaped. No big deal." Rina shrugged again.
"WHAT?" All her brother yelled.
"What do you mean tortured?" Taryn grounded out.
"Oh Taryn it was awful. They made me dress in these frilly gowns!" Rina mocked and rolled her eyes. "What the hell do you think I mean by torture? I'm damn certain in one capacity or another you are familiar with the damn concept."
"Names now!" Jacyn ordered from behind her.
"I'm sorry I was only introduced to their fists and shoes. No names." Dev came up to her and slap her upside the head before pulling her to him into a hug. "OWW!" She cried out.
"Don't ever do that again. If you had bothered to check you would have found out that I had to change course and go home because of engine problems Alix couldn't fix en route. I was never within spitting distance."
"I could not and would not take that chance." She hugged him back.
"Oh Colt sweetie what's wrong?" Rina whipped around at her mother's words. Colt stood there with his hands fisted and his expression was both fearful and angry. Rina knelt down and held out her arms for him. He came to her but he eyed Dev as he moved. Rina wrapped in her arms and hugged him close. "What's wrong baby?" She asked. She knew everyone was watching and listening.
"He hit you. He hurt you." Colt said, staring at her with tears in his eyes.
"Colt sweetie he didn't hurt me."
"But you cried out."
"Okay, yes it hurt but not in the way you mean. Dev just wanted to make sure I was listening. See, and this goes for all of us, we rough house a lot. We always have. We hit, punch, push, kick, shove, and shake each other. And yes sometimes we get hurt, I've broken bones playing with your uncles, but never do we set out to intentionally hurt each other." Rina watched as Colt eyed Dev. "He looks big and mean huh?" She smiled, at his nod she moved behind him. "He's one of the best fighters in the galaxy. But he's a big teddy bear."
Dev raised an eyebrow at her. "A teddy bear?" He got down on his knees and looked at Colt. "Hey, I would never, ever hurt your mommy. She drives me up the wall more often than not and I'd give anything to be rid of her when she does but never would I hurt her. You understand?"
Colt looked at him. "You really didn't mean to hurt her?"
"I would cut off my arm before hurting her." Dev said.
Colt nodded. "I believe you."
Dev held out his hand and Colt stepped closer to shake on it. Smiling Dev used their joined hands to pull Colt into a hug, stood and swung him around.
Rina smiled. She looked over to Kaitlyn who was standing in front of a happy looking Manshee.
"He's fuzzy." She giggled.
Omarian came to kneel beside Manshee. "He's really friendly too." He said petting his head. "Want to come pet him?"
Kaitlyn nodded and Omarian snapped and patted the ground. Manshee laid down. Kaitlyn went closer and patted his head. Manshee showed his appreciation by licking her face chin to forehead, causing Kaitlyn to erupt in a fit of giggles. Rina had to fit back her tears. She had been nervous about her family's reaction to the children. They had all accepted Omarian immediately but there was a distinct difference between Dev being a single parent and her being one. Seeing them all with the children made her so happy.
"I won't lie, I'm not happy about how you found them. You should have called Dev to find out if he knew and not entered the line of fire. But those two, they need you and they love you." Rina turned to look at her father who was now standing behind her.
"I thought you may be upset because of how this looks to everyone." Rina said softly.
"My daughter adopts two children who were not her responsibility. Willingly became responsible for two lives. She does all this and on her own no less. She's helping these children overcome their pasts and fight their demons. I don't give a damn what everyone thinks, I am damn proud of you." He answered before hugging her tightly.
"What will happen to my eligibility?" She laughed.
"If the man lucky enough to have your attention doesn't approve of those two then he's not worthy of you three." He replied. "Your mother and I want to make a formal announcement tomorrow to announce the new additions to the family. I want those two recognized for who they are now and their positions in this family."
Rina looked up at her father, tears falling down her cheeks. She knew he understood what that did to their safety. The Rits could never come after either child as possible heirs to the Adarian throne. "Oh Daddy, thank-you." She squeezed him tight.
"Mommy? What's wrong?" Kaitlyn asked from where she sat playing with Manshee and Omarian.
"Nothing's wrong. Mommy's just really happy." Rina turned to her mother. "Do you still have some of my old dresses and the boys' outfits?"
"Of course, after dinner I'll pull out some of your old dress and a few of the twins' outfits."
"Perfect, thank-you." Rina turned back to the children. "Alright you two space monkeys, go get changed into your swimsuits and we'll go out for a swim. The bathroom's the last door on the left."