“When do you leave?” Kemp asked his father.
“As soon as we say our good-byes. I have responsibilities at home that cannot be ignored any longer.” Rian looked his son over carefully. Kemp was definitely no longer a boy. His body was lean and muscular and there was a maturity in his eyes that hadn’t been there even a few days ago. There was also a deep sadness in them that Rian bemoaned. Someone so young should not be carrying such a weight of pain.
“Will you come back when you can?”
“Definitely. I do not plan on being a stranger in your life the way I have been in the past.”
“That was my fault as well,” Kemp admitted. “If I hadn’t left…”
“You wouldn’t have grown up into the admirable young man that you now are. I’m very proud of you Kemp Ethelred Marston, you are exactly what I prayed you would become the day I found out that your mother was pregnant.”
Kemp groaned when he heard Trevor give a soft snort of laughter and mutter, “Ethelred?”
Rian turned to the dhampir with an admonishing look. “Ethelred was an ancient and noble British king and Kemp is living up to the name.”
Kemp’s face turned red at the compliments from his father. “I’m not that…special…” he stuttered out.
Cupping Kemp’s face in his hands Rian shook his head. “You are a very special person in more than just that you are a dhampir. At the moment you don’t see it but in time you will.” Dropping his hands, taking just a step away, he continued to look at his son. “I’ve lived a long life. I’ve seen the evil and the tragedy than men have endured. Those that are weak crumble apart and become mere shells of their former selves. The strong ones learn to bear their burdens and use what they’ve learned to mature into good, caring, brave men. I know that you are one of those.”
A tear rolled down Kemp’s cheek and he brushed it away as he looked up at his father. “I’m going to do my best to live up to your faith in me.”
“No, Kemp, do all that you can to live up to the faith you will have in yourself. Trust your instincts, never harm another unless it is necessary, love truly when you can, and…” Rian shook his head. “I think that is enough of a lecture. When did I turn into such a … father?”
“The first time you looked at his face and saw all your hopes and dreams come true,” Trevor replied softly.
“So very true.” Rian smiled before encompassing Kemp in a tight hug. “Now it’s time for me to leave.” He turned to Trevor. “I place him in your charge. No need to thank me,” he said grinning evilly.
Trevor chuckled. “I’ll do my best not to kill him.”
“I suppose that’s all a father can ask.”
“I’ll miss you,” Kemp said softly, drawing Rian’s attention back to him.
“And I, you,” Rian said just as softly before vanishing.