“How old?” Aari asked, not giving in.
“Seventeen,” he said quietly.
“That’s not too bad. All those times you went for a sleepover at Zeke’s...?”
“We shared a bed but nothing happened.” He muttered something else that definitely sounded a lot like ‘Most of the time’.
Aaralyn judiciously ignored the last little bit.
“Does Henry know?” she asked.
He nodded. “Yeah, he does. I had to beg him not to tell you.”
“How did he find out?”
“You know how Zeke is with his dad; they tell each other everything.”
“So it wasn’t anything... awkward...” she trailed.
“What? Gods, no, not at all. That would just be weird.”
“Okay,” she nodded slowly. She seemed to be done with the questions for now.
Caelan was still tense.
“Are you done yet?” he asked quietly, his shoulders set squarely.
“No. I’ve got one more question but it isn’t... relevant to this.”
His eyes narrowed a little. “Go on.”
“Do you want to find out about your birth family?”
This surprised him, quite obviously; his eyes suddenly went wide as he stared at her in surprise.
“No,” he said after he’d recovered. “You are my family, and I don’t want any other.”
Aari let out a breath she’d been holding – seemingly out of relief.
“Don’t tell Kallie and Ellie,” Caelan said quickly.
“I wasn’t planning to.”
“Good,” he said quietly, nodding.
All was silent for a few minutes as everyone just sat. It wasn’t an awkward silence, not really. Caelan had relaxed, his shoulders sagging, making him look exhausted.
“It’s time for dinner anyway. We’re probably late,” he said, moving to stand.
Aari didn’t move, just staring at her mate’s slack face.
“Mum? Are you staying here with him?” he asked.
“No,” she replied immediately. “I’m going to stay with your grandparents for a little while,” she said, looking up at her son.
He looked at her for a few seconds. “If that’s what you want. Are you coming Beth?”
Beth shook her head. “I’m not hungry,” she admitted. “I’ll get something later.”
After a few moments, he left.
“You okay?” Beth asked the woman beside her softly.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I just want to see my dad.”
“Why don’t we go and pack some things for you?”
“Yeah, let’s do that.”
Beth stood and waited for Aari, who stared at Onyx for a few moments more.
“I want to claw my name out of his back,” she murmured.
“No you don’t, Aari.”
It took a few moments before she replied, “No. I don’t.”
She stood slowly and walked past Beth, so Beth strode to catch up with her.
“How long do you think you’ll be gone?” Beth asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, if you need to talk, you know where I’ll be.”
“Thank you, Beth.”
The lab was empty, though Zeke seemed to be done doing the blood test. There was a clipboard beside the microscope that had notes on it and a file beside it that had “ONYX SWIFT” in large letters on the front on the manila.
“Zeke keeps notes on everyone he treats,” Aaralyn said, noticing Beth’s gaze.