Chapter 5: Lani

Fox had promised to take me to a faraway palace, a promise I hadn’t really believed. But then my new parents brought me to a real palace instead…

“You live here?” I said.

“And now you do too,” Benny said.

They’d told me I didn’t have to call them Dad or Father until I got to know them better and felt comfortable, and I couldn’t tell if they were hoping I would right away. I had to be careful not to call them by the wrong names: Benny was the one with the glasses and the nervous smile, and Finn was the one with the kind blue eyes.

The trees and plants were different here, and the weather was much hotter than it was at the orphanage. I had to fly through the sky in a plane to get here, something I’d never done before. Was the fairy world like this too?

Their house looked like a palace on the inside too, and I was afraid of breaking anything. Would they send me back if I did? Maybe they’d choose a less clumsy daughter instead.

I was relieved when they brought me into what they told me was my own room.

“Who else sleeps in here?” I asked.

“Oh–we don’t have any other children, Lani,” Benny said. “It’s yours and yours alone. And even if we did, we have plenty of room here. You wouldn’t have to share.”

Wouldn’t have to share? But we shared everything at the orphanage. It was really their room, not mine, but they were kind enough to let me use it.

“We’ll let you settle in and unpack,” Finn said. “Please let us know if there’s anything else you need and I’ll be happy to add it to our shopping list. It’s been two men in this house for so long–we have a lot to learn about having a little girl around, but we hope to learn fast.”

“I don’t need anything…” I lived in a palace.

“Still,” Finn said, “we’ll take you shopping tomorrow for new clothes, at least. And we weren’t sure what kind of toys you liked, or if kids even like toys these days, but we got you a computer and a tablet.”

What was I supposed to do with those? But I smiled, because I could tell he was nervous too. “Thank you,” I said. An adopted child was always supposed to be grateful.

And then I was alone with my thoughts and my stuffed bear. Miss Hudson had given me my first-ever new dress before the trip here (Finn and Benny had paid for it, but she picked it out) and it itched. I’d never worn something so fancy, and I was worried about spilling something on it.

My room was so quiet… It was never quiet at the orphanage. But if I went to look for Finn and Benny, what if I got lost in their palace? Or maybe they’d think I asked for too much when they wanted time to themselves…

I looked at the computer Finn and Benny had bought for me. Computers were expensive, weren’t they? That’s what Miss Hudson said. She had a really old one for important orphanage and adoption things, but we weren’t allowed to use it.

But I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on, or what I was supposed to do after I did. Did they want me to do the same kind of things Miss Hudson did on the computer? I’d have to ask tomorrow…

And what was I supposed to do once I unpacked? I didn’t have many belongings. Did they want me to clean? But everything was already so clean. Everyone was supposed to keep busy at the orphanage…there was always work to be done, or even just looking after the younger kids and helping them until they learned to help themselves.

It was dark now, so maybe I should go to sleep…

The bed could fit at least four of us in it. And it was all mine? Which part was I supposed to sleep on?

I had so many questions to ask Benny and Finn tomorrow…but right now, I couldn’t stop myself from yawning.

The darkness made the silence worse. At the orphanage, I would’ve heard other kids whispering or coughing or scratching or crying, even after lights-out…normal night-time sounds when you’re surrounded by so many others all in one room.

But here, I was all alone…

It would’ve been nice to have Fox and Griffin to talk to. Would they find me again? Maybe I’d dream about them tonight.

But when I finally fell asleep, I only dreamed of storms.

The next day started off better. Benny and Finn told me they had a surprise for me, even though I didn’t think they needed to give me anything else, not when they were nice enough to adopt me.

I wondered if Finn taking my hand was the surprise, but maybe he just thought I’d get lost.

“We heard how much you liked gardening,” Benny said, “so we hoped you’d like this. We don’t usually have much to do with the outdoors–a landscaper takes care of everything–but it was one of the things Miss Hudson told us while we waited to meet you…”

“We should probably explain,” Finn said. “I know it’s probably hard to believe, and it might be too soon to tell you, but…Benny and I are both vampires, so too much sunlight is painful for us. But we wanted you to have a place that makes you feel comfortable and reminds you of home.”

I’d already met fairies, but even if I didn’t believe them, I would’ve pretended. “I believe you,” I said, without adding that the orphanage hadn’t been my home, not really. I wouldn’t mind if they’d adopted me just for my blood, if it meant I could keep having parents and living in a palace.

I let go of Finn’s hand and took a couple steps forward. “This place is so pretty…”

Fox and Griffin would’ve liked it too, especially Fox.

I wouldn’t say so, but I liked this little garden even more than my huge bedroom… The tall, flowering hedges made me feel safe in a way that the walls and locking door didn’t.

The palace was nice, but this…this felt like home.

I gave them both a hug, so they’d know that I was grateful.

It seemed to make them both happy, like it had made Fox happy.

I wanted to stay, but Finn really wanted to take me shopping, and I didn’t want to disappoint him and Benny.

But it was an even bigger surprise than the garden…

My eyes couldn’t take in the whole thing…

“Is this a factory?” I asked.

“Most of its products were probably made in factories,” Benny muttered, “but you wouldn’t know by the prices.”

“Benny,” Finn said before smiling down at me. “Don’t worry about the prices, Lani.”

Was I supposed to worry? I didn’t know anything about prices or money…I’d never had money of my own or paid for anything myself. Miss Hudson did that.

But they’d already started walking and I didn’t want to lose them…

“Let us know if you see anything you can’t live without,” Benny said. “We have a gift card to burn.”

I’d already tried to tell them that I could live without most things…and what was a gift card? Should I ask, or would it make me sound stupid? Did they want me to help them burn it?

But then I realized how much I stood out next to them. There were so many people here, and one of them would notice that I didn’t look like Finn and Benny. Would someone think they kidnapped me and call the police? Would Finn and Benny decide it was too much trouble to keep me?

The lights were so bright… I was sweating in a way I never had under the sun. Would Finn and Benny think I was smelly?

“Should we get a grill?” Benny said. “To grill human foods?”

“I don’t like the idea of you near open flames,” Finn said. Did that mean they really did want me to burn the gift card? Maybe they adopted me to do the things vampires had trouble with. Why else wouldn’t they adopt a baby when everyone wanted a baby? “And we’re here for Lani, not new toys for us.”

They moved on, and I followed. “How about toys for you, Lani?” Benny said.

I just wanted to go back to my garden. “I don’t need anything…”

“Uncle Benedict!” came a child’s voice.

“Uncle Finn!” came another.

“Oh, Benedict,” a man said. His voice sounded a lot like Benny’s. “What a pleasant surprise. Daisy had me take the boys out while she works on a new menu.”

Finn rested a hand on my shoulder. “Lani, this is your Uncle Leopold, Benny’s twin,” he said. “And your cousins, Anders and Caspian. We wanted to introduce you once things settle down, but…” He laughed. “We have a lot of family between the two of us, so maybe it’s best to get started early.”

I stayed close to Finn when Benny left to go talk to his brother–and was tempted to take his hand when one of my cousins approached. “I’m Anders,” he said. “The eldest. It’s very nice to meet you, cousin Lani.”

I could feel Finn looking down at me like he expected something of me…but what? How was I supposed to act around a cousin, especially one I’d never met? Especially one who wasn’t a real cousin?

“H-hello,” I said. “You look a lot like your father…”

“Everyone says so,” he said right away. If everyone said so, was it stupid of me to have said it too? But he sounded proud, so maybe it wasn’t a bad thing to say…

I didn’t realize my other cousin was right next to me until he spoke. (His father had said boys, despite the long hair, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made with Fox and Griffin.)

“Oooooh, so you’re the adopted kid?” he said. “What happened to your parents? Do you like Uncle Finn and Uncle Benny better? Aren’t you glad they picked you?”

Caspian,” Anders scolded. “Don’t mind him,” he said to me. “He’s only reached Level Three in Lyons Etiquette.”

What level was I? What level was I supposed to be? Finn and Benny had said they still had to fill out paperwork to change my name to Lani Lyons-Straud, so Lyons Etiquette was probably something I needed to work on…

Luckily, Caspian got Anders’ attention again and they didn’t seem to expect any answers from me. Even if Caspian didn’t look like his dad–he didn’t have the sharp teeth or the pale skin and his hair curled wildly–he still had the same eye and hair color, and his mom probably had hair like his too.

What if someone in this huge place did look like me? Could my real mother or father be here? Or maybe I had brothers and sisters, ones I could talk to as easily as Anders and Caspian talked to each other.

But no one came up to us when Benny and Finn took me to look at clothes…

The only reason I picked anything out was because Finn insisted and I knew it would make him happy. I didn’t mind having only one dress, but maybe it was a good idea to have less fancy clothes so I wouldn’t get it dirty, especially in the garden.

This place even had food–so much that there was no way people could eat it all before it went bad.

When I asked what happened to the uneaten food, Finn said that it got thrown out. If you weren’t chosen and brought home, you ended up in the trash…

But I was chosen. I’d make sure Finn and Benny didn’t regret it. I just had to try harder, which is why the one thing I asked for was a journal.

Benny’s full name was Benedict, and he had a twin named Leopold. Leopold was married to a woman named Daisy who probably had curly hair. Their sons were Anders and Caspian, and Anders was older.

I’d have to take more notes when they introduced me to more people. I wouldn’t forget their names or embarrass Finn and Benny.

Benny sat down at the table, protected by the shade of the umbrella. “You like to write?” he said. “My sister enjoys writing as well–she’s a novelist. I haven’t read many of her works aside from the ones involving butlers–do you like butlers, Lani?”

I could tell he wanted me to like butlers by the way his face lit up when he asked. I didn’t know what a butler was, but… “I love butlers,” I said. Would he believe me…?

“I knew you were meant to be our daughter,” he said. It was the right answer.

I just had to keep learning what they liked and wanted…

Finn seemed surprised when I set the dinner table without them asking. “You don’t have to do that, Lani,” he said, but he sounded more surprised than unhappy. “But thank you.”

“I don’t mind,” I said. “You’ve done so much for me, and you took me shopping…”

“You’re our daughter,” he said. It was nice to hear, even if he was just pretending.

But I could tell that he and Benny didn’t have to pretend to love each other. I’d never seen two men touch each other like that before, but I hadn’t seen a man and woman touch like that either. This was probably how most people’s real parents touched…

I’d never been able to choose what I wanted to eat before…

For some reason, them eating “blood noodles” didn’t bother me at all. And we could all pretend we were the perfect family, one who ate all their meals together…

But I wouldn’t forget that I was only here because they let me be. I took the dishes away without being asked.

Benny said I could just toss everything in the dishwasher, but I didn’t know what a dishwasher was. But I’d learn.

And then maybe someday they really would love me, instead of having to pretend.

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38 thoughts on “Chapter 5: Lani

  1. Aww, Lani is gonna experience her first dishwasher!

    Love Leo and Daisy’s kids! And I love Lani but part of me now wants to see which kid will be the most Daisy-like (we collectively need a favorite this gen after all) But dang, poor Lani needs a crash-course about this family. I guess it’s about time the interconnected family web had a newcomer.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Dishwashers are a necessity imo. Life without a dishwasher, NEVER AGAIN.

      And aww, I don’t think there needs to be a collective favorite! I loved finding out who people’s favorites were last gen, and seeing the less popular characters get some major love too. Also good luck to Lani with that family tree, RIP.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There doesn’t need to be but forgetting other readers’ differences and coming together as Daisy fans? Truly a great experience. Lightning can strike twice. 😈

        Liked by 3 people

      1. I remember when I went to my stepdad’s house for the first time and we’d eaten dinner and I was like, “Where’s your dishwasher??”

        He held out his hands and was like, “Done got me the only dishwashers I need right here.”

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Poor little Lani 😦 It’s so sad to see how submissive she is and eager to please. But for someone who’s been alone her whole life and never had a family, it makes sense that she would feel that fear of messing up or disappointing her new family — for all she knows, they can send her back or something if she does the wrong thing!

    I just hope she grows out of trying to please everyone else all the time, or lying just so she can give an answer she thinks the other person wants to hear. Be your own person, Lani! ❤️

    It was so interesting to see the culture shock of going from having nothing to living with millionaires (billionaires? Probably lol) and literally wanting for nothing! And then of course Benny and Finn navigating having a female, human child… adjustment for all! But they’re both so sweet and eager to be great dads.

    (And speaking of dads, I loved the glimpse of Leo, Caspian, and Anders! ❤️)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As much as people would like to believe that adoption is an automatic Happily Ever After, that’s not usually the case, unfortunately. Older kids who are adopted tend to the roughest time adapting afterwards, with potential for a lot of behavioral issues, developmental delays and anxieties, and the people-pleasing thing is pretty common.

      But if Lani had stayed in the orphanage until she grew up, it’s almost certain she’d be completely unprepared for life afterwards. But Finn and Benny will try their hardest to ease her fears–of course, fears are rarely rational.

      LOL, Benny and Finn are wealthy, but I’d only say Graham is a billionaire out of all of them, with his centuries to amass his fortune (and all his sketchy dealings).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh god, I can’t wait until grandpa Graham tries to lavish her with over the top expensive gifts for the first time 😬

        Of course Lani will smile and be grateful, but how overwhelming for the poor kid haha

        Actually… that whole side of the family. Meeting Bianca and Belle will be something 😂 Brace yourself, little Lani! (And start taping together several more pieces of paper for that family tree haha)

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Poor Lani! Here’s hoping she settles in and realizes those two lovable vampires truly chose her TO love her. A done deal.

    Loved this line: “And we weren’t sure what kind of toys you liked, or if kids even like toys these days, but we got you a computer and a tablet.”

    LOL!

    Priorities! They got them right. I bet it takes two seconds for Lani to figure out how to use both!

    And so she meets her cousins! Of course there’s a Leopold 2.0 and maybe a Daisy 2.0? I like both of the boys. Cute!

    Aww…her little drawing was so cute! And sweet. She’s so adorable, always trying to please. Here’s hoping she’ll figure out that all she needs to do is be herself and bask in BINNY’S love!!! ❤

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Finn and Benny absolutely chose to love her. It probably won’t happen right away, but she has to realize it eventually, right? She really doesn’t have to do a thing, but she doesn’t know what it’s like to be loved.

      Man, DO kids even like toys these days? When I see kids’ wishlists for holidays, birthdays, etc. they’ll want like, iPhones and these kids are nine years old.

      Leopold 2.0 and Daisy 2.0 isn’t too far off. ❤ Anders inherited his dad's sense of propriety and Caspian his mom's gregariousness.

      What an adorable child's drawing, am I right. *coughs* ❤ ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Dark WitcHazard: No one will ever dethrone Velvet, but Lani’s skepticism to everything makes me glad that this love triangle is going to be off the wall! Hehe

    Lover WitcHazard: Eeeeekkkk Look at Leo and his handsome boys! Looks like Ander is going to be our Leo duplicate! Caspien better keep the hair so he can look fabulous!

    Shipper WitcHazard: Aw Leo’s sons are so adorble I’m with Lover the hair must stay for Caspien!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Lani is way too pure and sweet for the world! I hope Benny and Finn realize how lucky they are; anyone would be to have a daughter like her. It’s definitely a new perspective, too, seeing someone who had nothing suddenly thrust into the large, wealthy and totally abnormal family of the Blackwell-Lyons-Straud-Strider… Oh man, she has a lot to learn 😱 Good thing she has that journal! I love that about her, too, that all she asked for was a journal to keep a record of her new family and life in. I used to love writing in journals when I was a kid (even though I never actually used them for real diary/journaling, lol).
    Also Benny-bb, I don’t think Lani should really know much about O’s stories yet. I have a feeling this little girl who doesn’t even know what a dishwasher is would be very very very confused by the (metaphorically) dirty dishes strewn throughout a romance novel by our Ophelia!

    I’m starting to wonder about Lani’s parents now. Maybe they weren’t significant, but maybe they were; these sorts of mysteries are always fun! But no matter who they were they probably suck major ass compared to two super rich vampire dads.

    ALSO CAN’T WAIT FOR DAISY’S KIDS AAAAHH I love them already!! Caspian especially with that hair 😍

    Liked by 5 people

    1. ❤ ❤ They are really lucky to have her for a daughter. She’s very sweet. And it’s a new perspective for me too, since almost everyone has been born into this giant, weird (and often wealthy) family, but Lani came from so little.

      I can totally see you having a journal as a kid! LOL. I never could use mine as a journal/diary either though, I’d get too embarrassed and shred the pages I used and flush them down the toilet. (What kind of secrets was I hiding?)

      Hmm, who were Lani’s biological parents? It’s hard to say how much it matters and in what regard. I’ve had friends who had closed adoptions though and they still tried to get access to sealed records all the way into their 30s–it hurt so much that they couldn’t find out about their bio parents even though they loved their adoptive ones.

      Aww, little Caspian is already popular. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Holy shit, Lani, no! Don’t try to scribble down that family tree, you will tear the fabric of the universe 😮 (omg, those glasses tho; nailed it)
    WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DRAWING. O.O

    She looked so cute in her fancy (itchy) dress, and holding Finn’s HAND (eee)… her room is so cute, and like, I know she’s all fish out of water, deer in the headlights, still trying to get the lay of the land etc, BUT, I feel like this all went pretty well?
    I mean, no one is crying or yelling… yet.

    What a sweet little garden! Aww, you guise! I just *know* everybuddy gonna get along ok in the end (even tho she a bit overwhelmed) but maybe this nice garden space will help her retreat when she needs to, and carve out something for herself!

    EEE. Daisy spawn (I die) omg. Leo, you look amazing, wat is on ur face.
    Those boys are perfect, I gasped when they appeared out of no where like a dreamy (daisy) haze of manners and not-manners (and I feel like maybe Caspian would chew on my ankle, despite the nifty suit).

    Anyway, Lani; yes. 10/10
    I can’t wait to see her interact with more cousions, omg…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If Lani scribbles down that family tree (which she will), it’ll be off-screen because that was torturous enough for me. ROFL. THANK you for the compliment on Lani’s art, her dads are very proud.

      I think her room is cute too (but I’d still be afraid to sleep in it, it reminds me a little of a fancy guest room). And things have gone pretty well so far, considering!

      I knew you’d like the garden best. ❤ And your predictions about it are spot-on…

      Daisy spawn! ROFL. Man, I kind of wanted her to have a daughter because she'd be so pretty, but I love the adorable sons. Caspian 100% would chew on your ankle.

      I don't know how soon it'll be before Lani interacts with more cousins tho because of Age Differences and Lack of Preteens and me trying not to show certain ones in the same room at the same time, ngl. But when they're older…!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s so interesting to see things from the perspective of someone who wasn’t born into this crazy family! And aaaaaaaa Lani 😦 It hurts my heart to see her so out of touch with being a kid, I’m really looking forward to see how life with her new parents turns out.

    (Also my first comment! I bingeread everything in like a month, more or less, I feel like a loyal lapdog religiously checking for your updates, lol!)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. ❤ ❤ ❤ Welcome to the comment section!! So glad to have you here, and thank you so much for following this huge crazy story with its huge crazy family.

      Lani really acts more like a mini adult than someone her age, so she really needs to learn how to be a kid. She’s not there to work for fulfill a certain, she’s there to be loved! It may come slowly, but she should eventually discover that for herself…

      Liked by 3 people

  8. What a humble little lady. ❤ She doesn't know what to do with a computer or tablet, but plop her in the garden and she's right at home! My theories about Lani grow, now seeing her affinity with plants, but early days yet…!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I wanted to gush and cry simultaneously over this little sweetheart! I hope she gets more comfortable with her new family and outgrows this pressure to people-please. I understand why she feels like this but I’m 100% sure Benny and Finn love her already so she shouldn’t worry so much.
    Caspian and Anders are giving me Benny and Leo childhood rivalry vibes. It’s also nice to see that Benny and Leo’s relationship has improved over the years.

    But DAMN Leo! Looking fine like wine! Mmmmm. The facial hair does him justice. What has he and Daisy been doing to get it to grow like that? Hmm….😈

    Liked by 4 people

    1. OMG, I died at your Leo comment. ROFL. (Daisy would be happy to tell you! Too bad she doesn’t get a PoV this gen. 😉 )

      And you’re absolutely right, Finn and Benny already love Lani–they probably fell in love even before they got to meet her. They’re so ready for a daughter in their lives.

      And who knew Benny and Leo would actually get along better someday? Daisy and Finn probably helped mediate sometimes, but still, progress!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I love them all!!!! Every last one of these kids is sooo adorable. Caspian and Leo! Awesome!

    I hope she is soon reunited with Griffin and Fox. It will make her happy to know that in a round about way she is related to them? Thank goodness for new blood.

    You draws good Lobster! I loved the beginnings of her family tree! It was awesome. I feel like she will connect with Finn first just because he’s Finn. Benny can be kinda scary.

    It was sad seeing her trying to hard to please and saying or another saying what she was really feeling for fear of upsetting someone. She wants them to love her and she will eventually love them too and I hope, not be afraid of losing their love. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ❤ ❤ I'm having a lot of fun with these kids. I always worry that people will get sick of them and be like "omg when do they grow up and bang already????????" but I genuinely love writing them.

      LOL, I wonder how Lani would draw Griffin and Fox into that family tree. And thanks for the compliment on my ~mad artistic skills~. *coughs* You may be right about Finn–as sweet as Benny can be when he tries, Finn has a lot more emotional intelligence, or at least did last gen. Hopefully he's rubbed off on Benny? (SHHHH.)

      It's all too easy to fall into the trap of trying to say and do what we think people want us to, but Lani deserves for her parents to get to know the real her.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Well, one thing Benny and Finn likely never have to worry about, is spoiling Lani. I don’t think she’ll ever feel anything but grateful. But then again, several years of this lifestyle can spoil just about anyone. The secret is making sure your child doesn’t get everything they want…only thing they need, and a few things they want. Unlike another (very spoiled) child, who shall remain unnamed, who would do well to learn a few valuable life lessons about being grateful and not putting yourself above others.

    Anyhoo, I’m really enjoying this generation so far. I can’t wait until all the children start interacting with one another. It’s bound to be entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmmm, is there another very spoiled child yet? 🤔 I can’t seem to think of one…! Maybe it’ll come to me. 😈

      But that’s a very good point–and I’ve heard of that exact thing happening, where years of that lifestyle completely changes a kid. Guess we’ll see if Lani’s personality prevents that! And at least she doesn’t have Graham as a dad. 😉

      So happy to hear you’re enjoying this so far! ❤ ❤ I can't wait for them to interact more too, though it might be a while for some of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh, Lani! Little sweet doll, she is so adorable! 😍 I feel so many feels for her, she is so sweet. I hope she adjusts to her new life soon, and is able to become her own person. I think that person, with her early start unique to this family, will make her a force to be reckoned with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ❤ ❤ Lani really is a sweetheart–and sadly one that doesn't give herself enough credit. This is a major life change, but definitely one for the better–she finally has a family and people who are prepared to put her front and center. She just has to be careful about letting her fears get in the way…

      Liked by 1 person

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