Claudio searched through the entire house looking for Cullen and Genevieve, he had just gotten home from the studio, again, and he wanted to tell them the big surprise he had planned. He’d been planning it for a while and nobody knew about it except for Clara. What he ended up finding though was the two of them sneaking some more tiaramisu that their Grandma Harley had made for dessert that night.
Claudio chuckled and shook his head as he slid into the chair between them,
“What do you think you two are doing?”
Genevieve giggled as she kicked her legs under the table,
“We know we weren’t supposed to Daddy but it looked so good!”
Cullen quietly finished off the rest of his as Claudio looked over at him and said jokingly,
“Well what do you have to say for yourself son?”
Cullen looked up and pointed accusingly at him,
“You don’t have any say in what I eat and what I don’t eat since you’re never here!”
Genevieve looked nervously between the two,
“Cullen I don’t think-”
Cullen turned around and snapped at Genevieve which caused her to shrink in her chair,
“I wasn’t talking to you!”
Claudio grimaced and glared at Cullen,
“Listen Cullen, you can’t talk to me like that I’m your father and you definitely shouldn’t treat your sister like that either.”
Cullen scoffed and crossed his arms angrily,
“I thought father’s were supposed to be home every night to tuck their kids into bed and read them stories and spend time with them? Instead you just come home and boss me around!”
Claudio raised his eyebrows in shock but held his tongue. Cullen had a point, a very painful point at that. Claudio saw how Cullen looked at him most of the time, the kid was a giant ball of anger. He also saw how his family looked at him. Clara rolling over in bed, tears in her eyes, when he finally came home from a night out, his Mom finding him passed out on the front porch, and his Dad shaking his head disapprovingly when he sees his bloodshot eyes. Claudio cursed himself silently. Why couldn’t he be like his father? His Dad fought to get back to his family. He knew his Dad must of gone through some really bad stuff the way his eyes glaze over when he hears something that triggers him. No, Claudio thought, you can’t be a superhero like your Dad. You’ve tried to come back but when you get around your fans, your roadies, the cameras? You turn into a totally different person. A monster that the media created to flash smiles, melt girls hearts, and perform. God the performing was the best part. The feeling, the rush you get when you see all those people filling up a stadium just to see you! It’s the worst kind of drug there is, and he knew he was addicted.
Cullen was staring at his father expectantly, he was waiting for yelling, slamming doors, something! But his Dad was in some kind of trance, like he was thinking too hard about something. Just as he thought he could sneak away Claudio cleared his throat and blinked rapidly,
“Uh...Cullen if you do not stop back talking me I will cancel all plans I have for your pool party! The one that you keep telling me you know you won’t get? Well I’ve been planning it secretly hoping to surprise you and your sister. In fact that’s what I came down here to tell you both!”
Cullen faltered and shook his head, confused,
“Pool party? But...I thought you were going to forget about that and break another promise…”
Claudio sighed and lowered his voice after he realized he was yelling,
“No kiddo. I’m sorry I raised my voice but you gotta give me a chance here. I’m trying okay?”
Cullen shuffled his feet and mumbled an apology before he slinked back upstairs to his room to go to sleep.
Cullen's sleep was full of nightmares of tentacles coming out from under the bed and taking him away from his family and sister, punishing him for how he treated them. He woke up violently and when he leaned over to turn his lamp on and check under his bed he could have sworn he saw the tentacles receding back into the darkness.
He jumped out of bed and ran down the hallway to his parents room and shook his Mom awake,
“Mom, Mom, Mom! There’s a monster under my bed and it’s going to take me away from you guys. I saw it in my dreams! Please you have to come and get rid of it!”
Clara laughed and smoothed out Cullen’s crazy bed head,
“Alright calm down sweetheart. Let’s go face this monster together, okay?”
When they got back to the room Clara politely asked the monster to leave and that it couldn’t take Cullen away. Even though Clara couldn’t see anything she made a show of it just so Cullen would go back to sleep.
After assuring him that everything was going to be okay she kissed him on the cheek,
“I’m very tired sweetheart and there’s no room in my bed for you to sleep with us so if you’re still scared go sleep in Genevieve's room.”
“Pfft. I’d rather deal with a monster than sleep in a girls room!”
Cullen was lying to himself. He couldn’t spend one more minute in his room, so he grabbed his blanket and stuffed bear and headed to his sisters room.
He paused outside of the door, looking up at all the ridiculous girly stickers that had accumulated over the years on it. What did Grandma say? This door had been here for 3 generations right? Cullen shook his head in disgust before he quietly slipped in and whispered towards the lump in the bed,
“Genevieve... pssst... Genevieve!”
He saw her stir and make a groaning noise before she sat up and rubbed her eyes,
“What is it Cullen? Are you having bad dreams again?”
“No...I think there’s a monster under my bed…”
Genevieve sleepily pointed to the extra bed in the room,
“You can sleep in here with me then. I don’t mind, don’t worry too, I won’t tell any of your friends.”
After a few quiet hours of sleep Cullen woke up to the sound of his sisters scream. When he rolled over he saw the tentacles had gone under her bed and were grabbing at her ankles, trying to take her away!
Cullen pulled her back,
“Genevieve watch out! It wants to take us from Mom and Dad!”
Genevieve shook out of Cullen’s grasp, and got on her knees beside the bed,
“Genevieve I don’t think that’s a good idea!”
Genevieve huffed and started to yell at the monster,
“Who do you think you are?! You can’t just come into little kids rooms and try and take them from their Mommy and Daddy! You better get out of here or I’m gonna go get my Daddy and once I tell him that you’re trying to take us away he’ll have you arrested and you’ll go to monster jail!”
Cullen nervously stood back and watched the whole encounter and was surprised when he saw the tentacles shrivel and recede under the bed, the black smoking going along with it.
“Did you just…”
Genevieve stood up and turned around to look at him with a stern face,
“No monster is gonna separate our family Cullen. I won’t ever let it happen.”
That was the night that Genevieve the Monster Hunter was born. Anytime the monster came back for Cullen she would be right there to scare them away. Cullen had a newfound respect for his sister, sure she still sucked at Voidcritters, but she could defeat monsters in real life!