"Wake up, Sebastian," Richard said.
Sebastian opened his eyes. He was curled up behind Atalanta on the couch. She was sound asleep. "This isn't what it looks like."
"You know, that would be a lot more convincing if your hand wasn't halfway up her shirt."
Sebastian withdrew his hand, sheepishly. "I can explain."
"Honestly, do you think there's a need? I was sixteen once too, you know. But I think you and I should have a chat, nonetheless."
Sebastian nodded and sat up, moving carefully so as not to disturb his girlfriend. He covered her with a blanket before padding into the kitchen after his father.
"Sure." They sat at the table and drank in silence for a while.
"You took a hell of a chance, having her here," his father said finally. There was mild reproach in his voice.
"She wouldn't take no for an answer," Sebastian said.
"Ah, the things we do for love. So, it went all right, did it? She certainly looks fine."
"Yes. I even remember most of it. Having her with me helped."
Richard regarded him for a long moment, but said nothing.
His father shook his head. "Your mother wants you to come home. She keeps calling me."
"I think you're ready, son, and things are about to get . . . complicated here. But first, I want to thank you."
"Thank me? You're the one who--"
Richard held up his hand. "Please. Let me continue. If you knew me better you'd know how hard it is for me to truly thank anyone for anything. But I owe you."
Sebastian bit back his reply and let his dad take his time.
"I want to thank you for letting me just be myself. For letting me be your dad, without judging or recrimination. I've enjoyed having you here."
"Why would I judge?" Sebastian said with a shrug. "You've never been anything but decent to me."
"You're a good man," Richard said. "Your oldest brother is one, too, but he has his wife to thank for that, in part. You seem to come by it naturally, and you have no idea how rare that is, in this family. We tend to eat our young."
Sebastian raised an eyebrow.
"All right, I'm exaggerating, but not by much. You hold onto that, son. You hold on to what makes you, you. And it seems," he said, looking up at the doorway and smiling, "that you have someone to help you with that."
Sebastian turned around to see Atalanta, looking adorable, wrapped in the blanket and leaning against the doorway.
"What do you say I make you kids breakfast and then I'll take you both home," Richard said, and went into the kitchen, leaving them alone.
"He doesn't seem like a bad guy," Atalanta said.
"I know," Sebastian said. "I think maybe werewolves aren't the only ones who are misunderstood around here."
"We can't be together in the open," Atalanta said, sliding her arms around his neck. "My dad will see to that. But at college, and afterwards . . . "
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, my love, I'm sure."
He pulled her into his lap and held and kissed her until a loud Ahem pulled them apart.
"Breakfast is served," said Sebstian's father.Next Chapter