Lievon & Amara

Chapter One

Lievon stood outside the all to familiar castle, his heart hammering in his chest, a knot forming in his throat. He couldn’t even remember how long it had been since he had been here last, but he remembered the day he had been cast out. His betrayal of his friend still twisted in his heart and he knew he had no right to be here, but he needed Chthon’s help. He forced himself to walk up to the front door and bang on it. He wasn’t expecting the beautiful young woman who answered, but he could see both Ruth and Chthon in her. read more

Ruby & Noxx 2

Chapter One

Noxx woke from his nap to the sound of his phone going off and he sat up from where he was resting in the grass and fished it out of his pocket. His heart jumped when he saw Ruby’s name. He quickly answered, worried she had had a panic attack or nightmare. He was generally pretty vigilant when it came to her. “Is everything alright?” He asked as he got up. read more

Antia & Andrej 2

Chapter One

“Do you think they had trouble on the road?” Antia asked as she and Andrej waited at the front door of their home for her brothers.

“I’m sure they’re fine my love.” Andrej couldn’t help but chuckle at how excited and worried she was. He could feel it. He pulled her into him and tipped her head back, adoring the blush that tinted her cheeks. “They’re grown men and I am sure capable.” read more

Aurelia & Rees

Chapter One

She hobbled as she ran but she went as fast as she could away from her attackers. As far as she knew she had killed them but she couldn’t be sure enough not to run. Two human men had tried to rape her, probably thinking she was a human woman since only her ears would give away she was an elf. It had still been difficult to get away, they had been so crazed and hungry to take her. She wondered while she ran if they had been on some type of drugs. Thunder crashed and rain poured, making it hard to know where she was going but she kept on until she saw a castle. She ran to the door, desperate for help.

Aurelia pounded and begged for help despite knowing the loud storm outside probably hid her wails. She choked on blood that was begging to pool in her mouth, her vision growing faint just as the door opened. She couldn’t make the being out at all but she could have sworn she heard the girl exclaim “mom!?” Rees Practically knocked over the table as he got up to rush to the door. His dates heart stuttered, it couldn’t be, his mate was dead, had been dead for a few hundred years. Brynmor has come running too, having heard his sister Pretoria yell.

He had already picked Aurelia off the ground when his father arrived at the door “It’s…” he looked like he might cry “It’s obviously not actually mom dad but we need to help her. She’s hurt really bad” Brynmor took her to the nearest bed while Pretoria grabbed a few things. Rees and even his date began helping her and a few hours later they knew she was going to make it through her injuries. It was then the woman that had been with Rees pulled him out the room and said “That’s your wifes reincarnation. She looks just like her and I may have just been her friend but even I can feel that that IS Amelia” Emotion played through his eyes “I know, I knew from the second I saw her in my sons arms”

She crossed her arms, not knowing what to do with them “It’s okay Rees, thats your soulmate in there…even before she showed up tonight I knew we were not that serious. I mean we’ve been dating a few years and I stay a night at most with you three. I mean, you were sweet and I when we began dating by taking down the family pictures with her in it and putting them in the basement but I know about that one in your nightstand. I’ve caught you staring at it with tears running down your face many times. She’s your soulmate, not me and I’m going to bow out gracefully okay. You two were so happy together, you had the kind of happiness you can only have with a soulmate and maybe this frees me back up to find mine.”

Rees hugged her “I’m sorry”

“It’s okay, I hurt right now but I’ll be fine. Even if we had been anything near serious I would have bowed out tonight. I always wanted what you two had. You need to focus on her, you need to help her remember you or atleast get her to fall in love again. She’s an elf this time, she wont have that intuition that tells some beings your soulmates but her soul has already found you once. It’ll know, even if its deep down, some part of her will know you guys” As she left Rees cried but not over the ex that was leaving It was over how emotionally charged he was and grateful to the universe it saw fit to give Amelia back to him.

Aurelia woke slowly, her body thrumming with pain as she blinked her eyes open. She could feel she was laying in a bed in a dimly lit room, that she was covered and warm. It took a moment for her ears to focus, but when they did, she picked up the sound of soft, rhythmic breathing. She wasn’t alone. She turned her head, groaning as she did and it woke the person sitting in the chair next to the bed. “You’re awake.” He said as he moved to sit next to her, his hand taking hers gently. She watched a myriad of emotions play across his face; sadness and joy, but mostly relief.

“Where am I?” She asked softly.

“In my home.” He let his fingers brush over her forehead, pushing some strands of her hair back. She felt herself warm at his tenderness and wondered if it was because he seemed to be the exact opposite of her attackers.

“You heard me.” She felt herself tearing up and he gently shushed her.

“My daughter did.”

“Thank goodness, I was so scared.”

Rees started to pull his hand away, wondering if him touching her was making everything worse, but she actually held onto him. “You’re safe here, I promise.”

She felt safe here, especially now that she was holding his hand in return. It was odd to her since she didn’t really know these beings but she felt in her heart she truly was safe as long as she was here in this castle. Rees’s heart was racing and it made him grateful she had come back as an elf. If she could sense how she effected him it would probably be scary, especially after being attacked since she had no idea she was a reincarnation. It was near impossible to resist the urge to lean down and kiss her but he fought it, telling himself he had one chance to do this right. If he scared her and she ran out of his castle he may never find her again. Elves were smart and incredibly resourceful. If she decided she wanted to hide from him she just might be successful at that. She was smart in her past life too and he wondered if that had effected what the gods chose for her to be in this life.

When she let him go he forced himself to pull his hand away, she probably needed to eat anyway. “I can make you a salad if you’re hungry. You were in rough shape and will still need to rest a day or two more. I think it would be smart to take it easy on your stomach”

“That sounds really nice. Thank you so much. Thank you for helping me. I promise, I’ll figure out something to do to thank you when I’m better” He stood “I’m going to call my daughter to sit in here while I’m gone.” he couldn’t risk her being alone so injured, he couldn’t lose her again. His heart barely made it through the first time. If they didn’t have two children he probably wouldn’t have. He had muddled through his pain for them, knowing she’d have wanted him to.

When Pretoria entered the room Aurelia was sitting up causing Pretoria to gasp “you should be laying down, your injuries” she seemed embarrassed “I just wanted less work for you when you came in here…I…well I have to pee and I wanted to ask you instead of one of the men here. I could barely force myself to run when I got here. I’m not sure how well I’m going to be able to walk”

“Just let me help you up next time okay. You’re no trouble, I’m a vampire. I can lift you and much more without struggle” Elves didn’t tend to hold any racial grudges so Pretoria felt it was safe to let her mother know what they were, even if she couldn’t quite tell her yet she used to be a vampire. Pretoria helped her mother to the nearest bathroom “there wouldn’t be any shame in it if you wanted me to come in with you”

“I don’t think I could go with anybody in there”

“alright then, I’ll be right outside the door” She couldn’t believe what good vampires she had stumbled upon. This woman had looked near panicked for a total stranger when she went in the room and her deep worry right now was obvious on her face. Aurelia went into the bathroom and shut the door. She realized it was a good choice to ask for help because she felt even more pain now than when she was laying down. It was hard not to make any sounds indicating how much she hurt but she managed, not wanting the female vampire to burst in here to help her. When she came out Pretoria looked just about as relieved as the male vampire had when she woke up.

Once back in bed she decided to ask your names “what’s your name?”

“Pretoria”

“Thats so beautiful”

“My mother picked it, it was her absolute favorite girls name”

“I think it’s mine too” Pretoria grinned with both amusement and sadness. “My fathers name is Rees and my brothers name is Brynmor” she felt emotion tug at her heart. She was about to speak again but a massive headache cut her off “are you okay?”

“My head” Pretorias mind was going a million miles a second with panic but she hoped maybe her soul was trying to tell her something, to remind her of who she once was. She had picked the name for her brother too. He was named after one of her mothers Uncles. He had raised her and died a few years before Brynmor was born so she had wanted to honor her Uncle by naming her son after him.

“How is she?” Brynmor asked his father as he helped him chop vegetables.

“Good, I think.”

“Is it really her?” Brynmor was hopeful that this wasn’t some fluke.

Rees nodded. “Yeah, it really is, I can feel it. Even if she didn’t look like her, I would know, it’s your mother.”

Brynmor swallowed and Rees put his knife down to hug his son. “I’m sorry, it’s just, she’s really back.”

“It’s okay, I feel the same.” He let him go and patted his shoulder. “We have to remember to be patient with her and give her time.”

“I know.” Rees wanted desperately for her to remember, but he knew he couldn’t push her to hard to fast or she might run. They put everything is a big bowl then he made one for Aurelia while Brynmor covered the bowl and put it away.

Chapter Two

When he returned to the room Rees could see Aurelia was in pain “what happened?”

“we were just talking, I think shes okay”

“I’ll be fine, its getting better. My head just really hurt for a moment”

“maybe we need someone more skilled at medical care to come here”

“No, please don’t do that. I couldn’t put you all through more trouble. It passed, I’m alright” They were talking, Rees too thought that pain might be her soul trying to tell her brain something so he didn’t push it further. Brynmor came in a few moments after his father, just wanting to see her “Hey. Brynmor right?” Aurelia asked, setting her fork down “yeah, um…what’s your name?”

“Aurelia”

“where did you come from?” Now he just wanted to hear her voice. It was slightly different but it was still his mothers voice. “son, she’s recovering. We need to let her eat” Rees said, trying not to sound too stern and make her uncomfortable.

“Oh…I’m sorry, yeah, I’m being rude sorry” he walked out too quickly for her to stop him. Aurelia looked at Rees “he was alright”

“You really should finish eating. I’ll go get him back when you’re done” Pretoria said. Aurelia picked her fork back up and finished her salad. Just as she said she would Pretoria took the dish’s, promising she’d get her brother as soon as they were in the sink. Meanwhile, Aurelia laid back down. “so whose room is this? I’m not taking one of theirs am I?” she asked Rees.

“No, this room actually hasn’t been used in an incredibly long time. The kids mother…well…she was very close to her an Uncle of hers. She even named our son after him which was fine with me. I didn’t care what we called our children and the names she picked meant a lot to her. He would come to see us so much we gave him his own room, which is this one. We didn’t put anybody else in it after he died, you’re the first”

She was curious about the kids mother. The way he said was had so much pain in it so she knew she had passed, not left. She wouldn’t hurt him by asking, it would be selfish. “what made her so close to him? What was he like?”

“He raised her. Amelia’s father didn’t treat her very well. When Brynmor realized she was being abused he took her in and told her father if he so much as looked at you ever” He noticed her weird expression and he realized he had said you “sorry, I meant her obviously. I’m tired”

“Oh my gosh yeah, you were sleeping when I woke. I’m sorry, we can talk later. Go to bed. Your son wanted to talk to me anyway”

“it’s alright”

“No, I feel so bad keeping you all up…you’ve done so much for me” The thought of leaving her side mangled in his heart “I’ll go to bed when Pretoria fetches my son.”

“are you sure?”

“yes…anyway…he told Amelias father he’d kill him if he looked at her again. He let her mother see her from time to time but when she finally left Amelias father she quit coming to see Amelia too. She was only seven when her mother completely left her life so Amelia didn’t remember much”

“That was really sweet of her Uncle, to protect her”

“He was a good vampire. I wouldn’t say he had lived a perfect life, before raising Amelia anyway but he had a good heart”

“different creatures have their own struggles.” Pretoria and Brymor entered the room and Rees stood, leaving as he said he would. Brynmor sat on the bed and Pretoria took the chair. “so, where are you from”

“My parents are nomads, I’m not really from anywhere.”

“why weren’t they with you when you were attacked?”

“well, you might think I’m crazy but one morning, a few years ago I woke up before my parents and saw a couple standing beside me. I jumped up and was about to yell but the woman shushed me. I don’t know, she looked so kind I just stood up, deciding not to wake my parents. She touched my heart, well, my chest above where it is and said “you need to listen to your heart sweetheart. You should go, see where it leads you. It’s been trying to take you somwhere a very long time but your parents always get you offtrack. Leave your parents and follow your heart. You’ll be so happy you did”

She sighed “I don’t know, my heart raced and all of me was ready to go. I know it’s nuts, they were two complete strangers but I felt like I had been ignoring my heart as soon as she said that to me. I made my parents breakfast then while they ate I told them I needed to have my own adventure for awhile. They weren’t for it at first, especially my dad. He was so worried about me traveling alone but they eventually saw I needed to do this…you know, because two strangers told me to” she sighed “and look where it got me, hurt and bothering you kind people. I was probably being dumb but I’ve had a great adventure coming here.”

“That doesn’t sound dumb at all.” Brynmor said. “They always say the heart wants what the heart wants.”

“Brynmor’s right.” Pretoria said with a warm smile.

Aurelia smiled back. “I guess you’re right. I’m just sorry we had to meet like this.”

“We’re just glad you’re alright and as soon as you’re feeling up to it, I’m sure our father would love to show you around.”

“I’d really like that, thank you.”

They continued to talk to her for awhile longer, doing their best not to give away who she was. They told her a couple more stories from their childhood then decided she needed to rest. She had been through a lot and they didn’t want to exhaust her. They both jumped a little when Rees opened his door and he called them over. “How is she?” He asked.

“You’re supposed to be sleeping dad and she’s good.” Pretoria answered.

“I know, but I wanted to talk to both of you first. Brynmor, tomorrow you and I are going out to try and find the men who did that to her. I want to make sure they can’t attack anyone else.” He then looked to Pretoria. “I want you to spend time with your mother,” he sighed, “with Aurelia I mean.” They both nodded. “You two get some rest, okay?”

“You too dad.” Brynmor said.

Rees was eager to get out and start hunting the men that hurt Aurelia so he barely waited for the sun to come up before waking his son. Brynmor didn’t have to be urged awake long before he was up and ready to go out with his father. Rees was an incredibly old vampire but he had long since went through grueling trial and error to make his body able to roam around in sunlight. Amelia had been able to do it and loved being out during the day so they hadn’t been together long before he wanted to be able to do the same thing. He wasn’t sure what happened but evolution seemed to still be taking place since the younger vampires were almost all born able to be in the sun.

“I think it’s important after what you did to the group that killed mom in her past life to ask what we intend to do with them? I mean I want to scare these guys but…you may have taken things a little too far in the past dad”

“I wont be burning any homes or anything like that. Even I know I went too far, had too many casualties of my anger. I turned into a monster when I lost your mother…I’m just glad Pretoria talked sense into me. I was still a father and I needed to get a hold of myself. I haven’t lost your mother this time so no, I wont be be turning back into that monster I regret you and Pretoria saw…I’m more thankful than ever she got me to stop…going down that path I would have ended up with every vampire hunter in existence after me…I may have died too then I wouldn’t still be here for your mothers rebirth.”

Brynmor made a face and his father sighed “don’t you think for a second I’m also not still around because of you two. Now that she’s back I know it wont alarm you to say this but you and Pretoria are the only reasons I raged instead of killing myself. I need you three, I mean it” Brynmor decided to tell his father what Aurelia had told them about her journey here then added “I think she’ll stay too. Her soul remembers enough it guided her back to us”

It was the smell of blood that brought them to where one of the men lay dead. This is where it had happened. They could smell Aurelia’s scent all over and around him. “She killed him.” Brynmor said.

“The other left him to die.” Rees replied as he followed more drops of blood into the forest. “He was wounded though, your mother made sure of that.”

“What should we do with this one?”

“Leave him, after what he did, just leave him. I want to find the other one.”

“Alright.” They continued on, leaving the first man’s body for the animals and the earth.

“Aurelia?” Pretoria said softly as she opened her mother’s door.

“Hmm?” Aurelia jerked away, disoriented and confused for a moment until she remembered where she was. She let her eyes move to Pretoria and for a moment, seeing the young woman’s smiling face, had her heart aching.

“Sorry, I just thought maybe you were hungry.” Pretoria said as she nudged the door all the way open and stepped in with a breakfast tray.

“Oh, sure.” She started pushing herself up and Pretoria quickly sat the tray on top of the chest of drawers and went over to help her. “Thank you.”

“I’m happy to help”

“I’m feeling better this morning”

“That’s good to hear, please eat. I know it will help you even more” Aurelia slowly ate her breakfast, enjoying it. “Have you already eaten?”

“Hopefully it doesn’t make you uncomfortable but I had blood this morning so I’ll be fine for awhile”

“animal or do you have someone to feed off of?”

“a friend of mine allows me to feed on him from time to time but I had animal this morning. Just to put it out there since some of our kind makes it so it has to be said but my father, brother and I don’t feed on anybody unwillingly”

“I wasn’t worried…I’m so thankful for you three. I would have died if not for you. Jeez if you wanted blood it would be the least I could do” Pretoria smiled “we truly expect nothing in return but getting to know you. You seem so interesting. Once you’re better are you going to stay a bit”

“If I’m welcome, your father would like me here?”

“He wants to get to know you too”

“where is he now” she felt this tug on her heart, like she needed to know. “He’s out making sure those men that hurt you are really dead or not going to do such a thing again”

“They were so crazed, especially for human men.”

“well my father and brother will see to it no other woman has to worry about them.” Aurelia finished her breakfast and Pretoria took her plate. When Pretoria came back she asked “why did you pick your tattoos?”

“I adore bees and I just thought it would be pretty to have the flowers going up my sides.”

“I didn’t get a good look at the flowers but I love the bee”

“well there aren’t any men here if you’d like to see them” Pretoria helped Aurelia with her shirt “wow, they are really pretty. You must have paid a lot to have them done”

“I didn’t pay with anything but my time. This particular tattoo artist needed help with his children. You see as I was wandering I ended up staying in this town awhile just because I thought it was beautiful. I became friends with him and learned, like your father, he was raising kids on his own. He wanted to go study under an artist a few towns away but he couldn’t take his children. He asked me to watch over them and that he’d pay me whatever I wanted when he returned. He also had more than enough money in his basement for me to take care of them so it truly only took my time. They were sweet girls. When he returned I asked he put that skill to work and give me flowers up my sides. I hung around a few more weeks then went on my way”

“what’s his name, I might want some one day. I’ve never thought about tattoos before but these are so pretty. It was well worth it for him to go study with someone”

“yeah, his name is Jolduc Khiz. His girls, should they still be at home when you go are Esmeralda and Prim”

“cute, did he tell you why he was alone?”

“she left him and the girls for another man.”

“aw”

“yeah, the biggest shame about it is she doesnt want to see her girls…I don’t have children so maybe I cant judge but how can anybody just leave their children”

“I know my mom would have never left us if she hadn’t been taken away”

“would it hurt too much to tell me what happened to her Pretoria?” Pretoria took a long breath in then let it go, looking uncomfortable. “I’m sorry, that was so rude”

“No, no its fine. It’s just still hard to talk about it. You’d think time would make it easier but…” There was a long, sorrow filled pause from Pretoria before she began her story “We were all always together besides my moms walks. She had been taking long walks alone since she was little. She needed that peaceful time to herself. I mean we would all go sometimes but every now and then she still wanted to go alone. It would always be a few hours but that day she had left right after breakfast and we still hadn’t seen her after lunch. Dad got worried, he told us to stay incase she came back but he was going to look for her for awhile.”

Pretoria tried to discreetly brush a tear away “then dad didn’t come home so Brynmor and I left…I wish we hadn’t” Pretoria couldn’t talk anymore as she could once again envision her dead mother”

“I’m so sorry, you don’t have to tell me” Pretoria clung to Aurelia, happy that they had atleast saved her in this life. She was back and she knew her dad would probably never let her out of at least one of their sights ever again if he could help it. “Theres this particularly nasty group of vampire hunters that aren’t just happy with killing vampires. They often humiliate and torture them. We don’t know what she went through but by the time we had went looking for her she was cut up. They had hung her body parts from different trees”

“Oh jesus…where was your father”

“He was on a murder spree. My dad, as most of the original vampires, have states similar to demons where they lose their mind to rage. Every man that had touched my mother died and sadly, so did their families. It was all Brynmor and I could do to get him back to normal…he did a lot of things I know he regrets” Pretoria could see a bit of concern on Aurelias face “don’t worry, only the men that hurt you will answer to my father today, You’re alive and I think it was pure grief and sorrow that drove him into that state…he did and still does love my mother immensely. They were together thousands of years and they were a pretty sweet couple. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two beings near that happy with eachother”

Chapter Three

The man panicked the moment he looked over his shoulder and spotted Rees and Brynmor. Both of them could see and smell it and Rees directed Brynmor forward. His son put on a burst of speed that had him suddenly standing in front of the man and as he skidded to a halt, Rees grabbed him from behind and slammed him to the ground. “Please.” He screamed. “Please, please, I’m sorry.” He was covering his head and crying his entire body shaking.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Rees snapped.

“No, please, I just woke up and…and Eli was…he was and I was covered in blood. Please, I’m sorry.”

“Dad?” Brynmor grabbed his shoulder. “I don’t think he’s lying.”

Rees let out a sigh as he pulled the man up. “Look at me.” He ordered and the man forced himself to look into Rees’s eyes. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I…we…” he swallowed. “Walking through the woods with Eli, we…we took a shortcut and then…nothing. Eli…did I kill him?”

Rees stood in thoughtful silence for a moment before saying “my wife killed your friend. You two tried to rape her. Maybe you walked into an enchantment and didn’t realize or any number of things but I can tell you aren’t lieing. You’re going to take me to the last spot you remember”

“what if something happens again”

“My son and I would never fall into something like that. I’ve trained him well and only the smart live as long as I have”

“I’m…I’m sorry for what we did to her…normally we’re nothing like that”

“you two didn’t get anywhere with her. She’s tough” Rees let the human man go “show me”

“I’m…I’m hurt badly too. Could I get tended to first?”

“so you can tell the other humans vampires are bullying you?”

“No, no I swear…we obviously hurt someone you love…I wont try anything funny…I just…I”

“dad” Brynmor said and Rees sighed “My son will go with you and I’ll wait here” He could tell the human wanted to ask why but held his tongue. It suited Rees, telling him honestly why might scare him into not cooperating and he didn’t want something else losing its senses and trying to hurt Aurelia or anybody else again. Brynmore wasn’t sure why his dad didn’t want to go into the humans village. Surely nobody was alive anymore who would remember him.

Rees decided to lay down and think up as many possibilities as he could. He wanted to go home, he wanted to be near Aurelia again. He was so lost in his head it seemed like no time atall had passed when Brynmor returned with the human male. Rees stood, staring the man down until the human moved to show them where to go. He took them to the last point he remembered “this is it. I hope I’m remembering right…I cant imagine what would make us dumb enough to mess with a vampire woman”

“She’s an elf” Brynmor said and the man said “I’m sorry”

“don’t be so scared. I’m sure she’ll even feel sad for your friend once she learns you two weren’t in control. A lot of mistakes were made…we’re just glad she found her way home” The man glanced over at Rees who wasn’t paying attention to them. He was absorbed in the environment as he careful studied his surroundings.

Rees could see where the two men had passed through and he squatted down, picking up the crushed cap of a mushroom. He sighed as he stood and held it out. “Do you know what this is?” He asked the man.

“No, I’ve never seen it before.”

“Brynmor. ”

“It’s an otrova mushroom.”

“The spot where you and your friend walked is covered in them. They’re an invasive species and incredibly dangerous.” He tossed the broken mushroom. “When they feel threatened, they release spores into the air and cause a temporary insanity in anyone who inhales it.”

“We didn’t know.” He dropped his head into his hands. “We always go out together, we have been since we were kids, but we didn’t know.” He swallowed then took a deep breath. “I have to bury Eli, I can’t leave him in the woods.”

“I will be able to get rid of these but it will take time. Brynmor, you may help the human while I do this”

“He…he doesn’t have to” The mans voice trembled. Brynmor said “I’d be happy to, we know it wasn’t his fault and my mother isnt a murderous monster either just so you know. She was terrified and just trying to” The man shook his head “I understand, really, I wont go telling anybody anything negative. We…we tried to rape her…I understand…I’m not sure what I’m going to say about his death to his family but I don’t blame her” Brynmor walked away with the human, hoping to get the burial done quickly so he could help his father.

When they were out of earshot the man asked “how can your father be sure he wont go mad with them”

“If he says he knows what he’s doing he knows.”

Rees had to burn them, all while being careful with the rest of the forest. He couldn’t risk anyone else happening upon them, not even one. He wanted to take the time to scour the rest of the forest, but he knew that would take ages and he wanted to get back to Aurelia and explain what had happened. He would have Brynmor accompany him of regular trips to scour the woods once everything was settled. He found his anger dissipating as he watched the fire burn out and when he finally caught up with his son and the man, he was calmer than he had been. They had just finished burying Eli and Brynmor was doing his best to comfort him.

“So what now?” He wiped at his face.

“First, can I have your name?”

“Oh, it’s Oliver, sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Rees sighed. “I cannot hold what happened against you, Oliver, it wasn’t your’s or Eli’s fault.”

“What do I do?”

Rees looked to Brynmor who answered, “Come back with us, talk to the woman you attacked, we’ll explain everything.”

“wont I just upset her…I” he didn’t know what to add, he seemed to be having an internal struggle so Brnymor spoke again “you didn’t manage to rape her. She’s hurt and might be a bit startled when she sees you but I have a feeling that once she knows your side of things she’d want to see you again anyway to tell you herself not to feel guilty” Oliver swallowed “alright, I will come. I still don’t know what I’m going to say to everybody anyway. I don’t want to give you three any more problems. I’ve seen in my village before the fact we tried to rape her which caused her reaction will mean little”

Rees and Brynmor took Oliver to their home where they found Pretoria and Aurelia in the living room, sitting down and talking. “she’s doing so much better” Pretoria said excitedly but her expression changed when she noticed the man “that scent” she said softly. “allow me to explain” Rees started then explained to them why the men had attacked Aurelia. Aurelia’s eyes dampened “oh my…I’m so sorry. I was so scared and you two wouldn’t let me get away…I killed him because I felt I had to in the moment. I’m sorry”

“I understand, I’m horrified about what we tried to do…that that could be in me at all, weird mushrooms or not”

“some things have great power. The mushrooms turned you two into something you weren’t. Don’t feel guilty”

“I’m just glad you’re okay”

“I know you don’t feel I have anything to make up for but I feel bad about your friend. I owe you, anytime you need something, please come back to us so I can repent for his death. I mean it, I really want to”

Chapter Four

He held up his hands. “Please don’t, no one would ever blame you, truly. You were alone, against two of us, it was justified. Eli wouldn’t blame you, he wasn’t like that, he was a good man, kind and honest, he would want you to know it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t know, we didn’t know. So please.”

Rees could see how heartbroken Aurelia was for him and he gently placed a hand on Oliver’s shoulder. “How about you at least come by then, as often as you like, we’ll get to know each other and move past this.”

“I’d like that, thank you.” Oliver took a deep breath. “I just don’t know what to tell everyone back home.”

“I’ll go with you and explain.” Brynmor volunteered. “I’m sure I can hide the fact I’m a vampire.”

“You don’t have to hide, no one would bother you, they know better than that.” He nodded. “I would appreciate your help, I just don’t want them to think Eli was a monster.”

“You should rest.” Aurelia said. “You spent all night in the woods and you’re wounded.” She looked to Rees whose heart jumped in his chest. “He can stay right? He shouldn’t travel until he’s better.”

“Of course.” He sat down next to her, gently taking her hand.

“Thank you.”

He wanted to tell her anything she wanted was his command but he knew how weird that would sound. “don’t scare her” he thought to himself. “it’s the right thing to do” He held her hand a few more moments before getting up “let me show him to a room” Rees knew he needed to speak to Oliver about their situation with her. Not only to let him know he had helped guide his mate back to him but so he didn’t say something he shouldnt since Brynmor had repeatedly refereed to Aurelia as his mother.

Rees walked the man to a room in another hall then said “this is where you can stay but we need to talk about something important if you’re going to be interacting with her”

“yeah?”

“she’s a reincarnation…my wife…Aurelia has no idea about her past with us and it shouldn’t come from you. If we as a family decide to tell her it should come from us”

“Oh…that must be hard”

“Immensely”

“maybe if you told her it would help her remember…I mean there’s things that can be done”

“what if I scare her, she might not believe me and think me crazy”

“that woman in there? She’s no coward, she just invited a man who tried to rape her to stay in the same castle as her. I mean, I think she’d face the possibility head on” Rees gave him a long look that semi frightened Oliver. He finally said “thanks for the input, will you be needing anything?”

“I just want a bath” Rees pointed a few rooms away “theres a bath in there. I’ll tell Brynmor to bring you clothing”

“Thank you” Rees left the man without another word, pondering what he had said. HIs Amelia…his Aurelia had never been a coward a moment in her life. Maybe he was over worrying but with something as important as having her in his life again he wasn’t sure that was possible. He wanted her back, in any way he could have her and he knew the kids felt the same. If he handled this wrong, if he made the wrong choices he’d be breaking their hearts all over again as well. He had more than just his own heart to consider in all this.

When he came back to the room Aurelia was happily talking with her two kids “Hey Rees” his heart stuttered at the sound of his name coming from her. “He’s settled…what did you and my daughter do today?”

“talked mostly, I’m eager to be shown around though…would you mind doing that tomorrow? She said it would be best if you did” he smiled gently “if you still feel up to it yes”

“I want to know everything about this place. I’ve never been in a castle before. How did you build this or did you find it?”

“I built this, most vampires lived in castles in my time. It was the thing to do” She smiled ‘you do look like a classic” she said it with so much affection it even surprised her. “I’m sorry, was that…weird” he nervously chuckled “never be sorry, I know I haven’t updated my style…ever…my wife didn’t mind though”

“You all seem so wonderful, I’m sure she just felt lucky”

“I have something to take care of” Pretoria said to excuse herself and her brother followed suit, leaving their parents alone. “you don’t have to stay with me if you want to rest or something. You’ve done so much for me. I mean, you were out all this time because of me” he gently smiled again “I want to get to know you. Thank me by telling me more about your life Aurelia”

“when do you want me to start?”

“Your first memories if you so wish”

“alright…” she paused for a time, obviously thinking “my very first memory is one with my dad. We were just running and laughing, I think maybe we were playing tag. Most of my early memories are of my dad. He was always playing around with me. My moms wonderful too but I’m extra close with him.” She had been treated well in this life and loved by her parents, he was glad to hear it. She had deserved much better from her birth parents in her past life. “so it wasn’t hard growing up as a nomad?”

“I loved every second of it”

“so…do you think you’d ever be happy staying in one place” she shrugged “I never say never, if the right situation arose I’m sure I could be happy settling somewhere”

“whats your first memory of your mom?”

“We found this bow and arrow in a shop that was made for little kids. She bought it right there and took me to a practicing arena for it. It was fun” he nearly chuckled “they sound fun”

“yeah, I’ll have to find them again one day but not soon. I mean. I don’t feel like I’ve found what I left them to look for…I think I just told Pretoria about this but” she proceeded to tell him how she came to leave her parents side.

Rees’s heart was skipping in his chest. Someone had sent her to him, he had to believe that. “That’s amazing, Aurelia, truly.” He sat down next to her. “Aurelia I…” he let out a sigh.

“What?” She could tell something was troubling him and she couldn’t stop herself from taking his hand in hopes of comforting him. “Is everything alright?”

“Yes, sorry, it’s just I’m really happy to have you here. I hope it’s okay to say that, after everything that’s happened.”

She smiled and his entire being warmed. “I’m happy too.” She said.

“Truly?”

“Yeah, you and your children have been so sweet, it’s more than I expected.”

He burned to tell her everything, but he couldn’t, not yet. He could wait until tomorrow at least. “I’m glad.” He gave her a smile. “Would you like me to get you anything? Food? Something to drink? We could have dinner together or if you haven’t eaten.”

“I imagine you must be starving, eating together would be nice. I’m feeling well enough to come to the kitchen with you” she could see the concern on his face even before he answered “you were bleeding internally from fighting those men when you arrived”

“and since then you and your children have done an amazing job of taking care of me. I really don’t want to keep you in this room. Besides, I’m dieing to even just see a little more tonight”

“well…if you start to feel weak, just let me know”

“alright” She couldn’t believe how sweet this vampire and his children were. They were constantly tugging at her heart. Rees helped her out of bed which was cute even though not needed. They walked to his kitchen where she saw they had leftovers from the salad she had been made “a salad is just fine with me again”

“I can make you something, I don’t mind. We…could even cook together”

“alright, but really let me help” Rees pulled out the last of the rabbit they had and decided to make Aurelias favorite soup in her past life. If what some people said were true and you really could make an old soul remember a past life then he wanted to try everything he could to help her soul tell her new mind what it remembered. He began, having her do the easiest steps possible. This would take awhile to cook but he wasn’t interested in resting anyway. He had lived without his wife so long, he needed to be with her as much as he could.

“I suppose as a traveler you eat rabbit a lot” he said, just wanting to hear her speak again. “yeah but I like it. This already seems so good. Where did you learn to make it?”

“My late wife” he said gently “Oh, gosh, I end up bringing her up a lot with you three. I’m sorry”

“It’s alright, she’s an incredibly pleasant memory for us all”

“It sounded from Pretoria it’s been a long time. I’m surprised you’re still single” he felt uncomfortable with what he was about to say but he wouldn’t lie to her “I ended up with someone eventually, a friend of hers…it was a bit selfish of me because most of why I was able to with her is she felt like a piece of Amelia. They hungout so much…I…I think she always knew but she just wanted affection as I did.” She didn’t ask why they parted, she supposed they just both realized they weren’t really helping eachother in being together. “well…I hope you find someone you can actually love again” his smile held so many emotions, mostly sad which made her feel bad so she changed the subject “so um, are you close to your kids…like do you do a lot together normally?”

“we’re pretty close, it’s why they still live with me even though they’ve been adults a long time”

“thats sweet”

“I wouldn’t be here without them, they saved me, even after…I don’t deserve them.”

“I’m glad you’re still here, for what that’s worth. I mean if you weren’t, we never would have met.”

Rees smiled. “I feel the same, truly.”

They continued talking, him getting to know more about her life, about her family and about her journey to him. He told her stories about his life, about their life, hoping maybe one of his fondest memories would help spark hers. Aurelia loved the smell of the soup as it boiled and when Rees finally made her a bowl and she took her first bite, she paused at the taste. She felt herself tear up and jumped when Rees touched her shoulder, a look of concern on his face. “Sorry.” She said.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, of course, this is really good.”

“Maybe we should go back to your room.”

“No, it’s fine, really.”

“Alright, but after, you should rest.”

She nodded, wondering why she suddenly felt so emotional. A lot of her emotional responses were seeming to become odd and she wondered if it was just because of her ordeal before meeting these people. She took another spoon fool and held the flavorful soup in her mouth a few moments, emotion hitting her again. It was like her soul was aching. She swallowed and looked back at Rees, her eyes meeting his for a few long moments “I’m sorry” she couldn’t help but say again, seeing how concerned she was making him. “what’re you thinking about?”

“nothing really in particular. I probably do just need more rest after this”

“Would it be alright for me to carry you back…you’re worrying me”

“that would be really kind, thank you Rees” something flashed in her mind, of hugging him and thanking him as they sat down at the table with young children, his children. At least they had looked so similar to them she thought it was. She quickly finished her soup and began to wash it “hey, you’re still getting better. Myself or the kids will get that” she was so thrown off by everything that had been happening in her mind and emotionally since eating with him she didn’t protest “alright, will you take me back to my room then”

Rees lifted her into his arms, happy to have her close, however briefly it would be. They were nearly to the room she was staying in when she asked him “do you have any pictures of your kids when they were children?”

“I’m sure I do, most of what I have are paintings. My late wife loved to have us painted. You’d like to see?”

“If I wouldn’t be bothering you”

‘not at all. I’ll go get one after I have you settled in”

“you can’t just take me to it” he couldn’t, they would be with all the pictures that had her in them. “you need to rest” she did so it wasn’t a lie. He tucked her into bed so lovingly, she couldn’t resist hugging him. It surprised Rees but his body instantly responded. He had her close once more and demanded himself not to cry. He didn’t know what to say about it so he didn’t and she didn’t say anything more as he walked out the door.It hit him once he was out he never told his son to bring Oliver clothes but knowing his children one of them had checked on the human.

He went to retrieve one of the paintings of his children, promising himself he would check on Oliver before he went to bed. He had been so wrapped up in Aurelia and everything that had happened, that he had been being a bad host. His eyes caught hers when he came back into her room and he couldn’t help but pause there for a moment. His heart thumped in his chest when she smiled and he had to force himself to move again. “Sorry.” He said as he crossed over to her.

“It’s alright.”

“I shouldn’t stare, it’s rude.”

“Then we’re both in trouble.” She teased and he couldn’t help but smile.

“I was going to bring one of the bigger ones, but I decided against it. This one though, is one of my favorites.” He sat down next to her and turned the painting so she could see it. He remembered that day very vividly because it had been so hard to get Brynmor to sit still.

Chapter Five

She tried not to let her expression change too much as she looked at this painting. She had seen those two as children. Could she have really guessed so accurately? It was weird but maybe that was all it was. Her mind just had shrunk the two down incredibly well. “they were so adorable” her eyes grew a little damp but she didn’t cry. “Yeah, Brynmor would not sit still for this picture. We almost gave up…my wife and I I mean”

“I’m glad you two got to capture it. He’s as adorable then as he is handsome now. Pretoria grew up beautiful herself.”

“They had a gorgeous mother, I guess that helped Brynmor aswell because he certainly didn’t get it from me. I just tend to scare people. I think one of the things I loved most about my late wife was that she never feared me for a moment” He noticed her gaze go from the children to him “I think you’re incredibly handsome Rees,don’t call yourself scary” she blushed, quickly looking away from him and wondering why she had said that out loud. “Um…you should get rest too Rees. You ran around all that time solving what happened and taking care of Oliver. I’m…getting tired” she felt awkward and was a bit overwhelmed with herself and thoughts in general.

“Please call me if you need anything alright”

“I will” he almost leaned down to kiss her head but managed not to “goodnight Aurelia” His voice was so loving and sad. He was such a sweet vampire, she could definitely see how someone could fall in love with him. When he shut the door she looked down at the picture again and whispered to herself “what did that couple want me to find…could it be…you three?” she almost felt stupid saying it. Amelia sounded so perfect, she could probably never fill her shoes here. She laid back against the headboard and prayed softly “Gods and goddess’s, please help me. If you can, give me some sort of sign. Is this where I was supposed to end up or am I just enamored with this family and want to think my heart was leading me here”

She looked at the picture awhile longer then settled down for the night, hoping everyone else slept well. Another violent storm woke her late in the night, just like the one she had found herself in the night she came to this castle. She gasped when she saw a figure in her room but relaxed when she saw the man who had come to her. She looked around and asked “where is the woman?”

“Humble is busy”

“are you a god, is that why you’re here again” he chuckled “No but I have a few assisting me now with my work”

“your work”

“thats not what I’m here to explain. You asked for more guidance…well, get out of bed.” she got up, hoping a head injury didn’t have her going insane. Those men had hit her quite a few times. Once they stepped out of the room he held a finger up to his mouth to tell her to keep quite so she did, following him all the way down to the final floor of the castle”why are we here?” she asked in a whisper. He started rumaging and pulled out a painting that made her legs so weak she almost fell “wha…what”

“I think you know what I’m telling you Aurelia…or should I say…Amelia”

“but…how…what”

“don’t hyperventilate on me, sit, please”

“but…thats me!”

“in your past life. You are the wife and mother they keep speaking of”

“they…do they actually know”

“They felt it, you feel it too, I know you do. That soul of yours was begging to come back. Even I felt it desperate desire to find Rees and your children as my wife and I were passing you by that night. You’ve wanted to run back to him from the moment you were born. Didn’t you used to draw a lot of vampire art Aurelia, didn’t you always make up games where you lived in a castle and wasn’t your very first make believe friend named Rees” she felt light headed as it all came rushing back. Childhood felt like so long ago but as she stood there she realized his words were true “what are you”

“what I am and the gods that help me aren’t important right now unless you don’t believe you’re Amelia” Tears started tumbling down her face “I…I think I believe you”

“Good, Humble, my wife loves a good romance story. I understand yours was particularly beautiful. You two meant the world to eachother and those kids have missed you immensely. You left a hole in their hearts and I think even if we hadn’t woken up your soul you would have never felt complete without them. The bond you all had in your previous life was much too strong”

“when she touched me…”

“she just helped you hear”

“it really lead me back here”

“You and Rees are meant for one another.”

“why didn’t they show me this”

“I dont think they want to lose you all over again. Not everyone believes souls are reincarnated. You might have thought them crazy even with these pictures. Go to Rees and I’ll return to my Humble”

“I’m grateful” she wiped her face before continuing “but you cant cliffhanger me like this. Will you two come back when you have time. I have to know more” he chuckled “well you are an elf this time, your kind is notorious for being hungry for information. Lucky for you Humble loves romances like the one you have with Rees. I’m sure she’ll lunge at the opportunity to see you two back together. She would have come now but she couldn’t”

“whats your name, I dont think you’ve told me”

“Jase” she had almost forgot about the storm until it scared her “easy now, hurt yourself again and you’ll break three hearts” Jase said in an amused voice. Aurelia ran up the stairs and Jase smiled, setting the painting back down and used the magic that brought him to return him to Humble. Suddenly Brynmor was infront of her, looking disheveled. “are you okay? I heard running. Did something happen?” he started looking her over for wounds. She hugged him “You’re my son…I cant believe it” His heart nearly stopped “Mom…do you remember”

“Not completely but…I saw that picture down stairs and…and…I dont know I feel its true. I’m your mom aren’t I” He held her crushingly tight “mom” his voice broke a little “Even without you knowing its been so good having you back. Life just hans’t been the same without you. You need to see dad.”

“I do” she was bawling and wished she wasn’t. She had always been such an ugly crier and that was the last thing she wanted to be when she made it to his room. Her emotions were just so strong right now she couldn’t help it. He was crying too adn that wasn’t helping. She felt this was her son and no loving mother wanted to see their son cry. He hugged her one more time “we’ll help you remember fully mom and even if you cant…I’m just so happy you know. We can make new memories” she nodded and he knocked on the door before leaving her.

Aurelia hastily wiped at her face, praying that she didn’t look horrible. He opened the door with confusion and concern on his face “whats happened? Why are you crying” Looking into his eyes she didn’t know what words to use so she grabbed his shirt, pulling him down to kiss her.

Rees was surprised by the sudden press of her lips and it took him a moment for his brain to register what was happening. He grabbed her shoulders and gently pushed her back. “Aurelia, what are you doing?” He wanted to keep kissing her, to pull her into him and into his bed.

Aurelia held his face in her hands, tears springing back into her eyes. “I know everything, I know why I’m here.”

His heart stuttered. “What…what are you saying?”

“I’m Amelia, I’m your wife.”

Rees swallowed, feeling a knot forming in his throat. “You remember.”

She shook her head. “I saw a picture of her and I know it’s me, I know I’m your wife, I can feel it, I’ve always felt it, I just didn’t know until I was pushed to leave.” She pulled him back down, giving him another kiss. “I’m your wife.”

His tears spilled over and he pulled her tightly against him. “Aurelia, I’ve missed you, you have no idea how much I’ve missed you.”

“Just the way you three talk about me…I can tell. I can’t believe how lucky I am, to not only have had you three before but that I was brought back in this life.”

“I know, I could have never met you again. I wish I could thank who sent you my way”

“You can, I saw one of the beings that told me to follow my heart tonight.” she went through every detail up until this moment “so I think he and Humble are coming back”

“Good…” he pulled her into his room and shut the door “even though you don’t have your memories…you’ll lay with me right?” she smiled as she wiped her face. Aurelia thought it was an adorable question given she had just kissed him “yeah, Id like to cuddle with you tonight” he made almost a squeaking sound due to how emotional and eager he was to keep her close. The sound and how he held her once they were laying down touched her heart again “you three are going to keep me crying constantly, in a good way” she whispered. He kissed her forehead “as long as they are good tears Aurelia…I. my heart has ached constantly for you. So has the childrens but they’ve always handled it better than me”

“well I’m here now and I wont leave you guys again” He held her a little tighter “It may be too much to ask but please, let at least one of us always be with you”

“Pretoria told me how I died…I think that need from you is understandable” he felt a little shame at the thought she might know just how insane he became for a few years. He had allowed himself to become a monster when he saw her body parts hanging from the trees and he wished he could go back and handle things more like she would have wanted him to. “did you make me that soup because it was my favorite?”

“I was trying to help you remember”

“It did stir something in me, as you heard from my story”

“is there anything you want me to tell you about Aurelia” his voice was so emotional “You can just hold me for tonight. It sounds like you need it” He gave her a long kiss to the head “thank you…I’ve missed this so much…even when I had someone else…it was never even near the same”

“can I know…if she ever lived here or anything?”

“No, she only stayed over once or twice a month for a night”

“Okay”

“I love you Aurelia”

“I love you too. She was my friend though right? Are you going to let me meet her”

“You’d want to?”

“she was my friend. I mean you two had a sort of relationship but I’m not upset at her or you. You were lonely and it sounds like she was too. I definitely don’t think if she came around you’d be doing anything with her on the side so I’d like to meet her at some point”

“Okay, but I want to be selfish with you for awhile. I’m sure the kids feel the same” she smiled “thats okay with me” The room fell silent besides a few sniffles here and there. Aurelia wasn’t sure when she fell asleep but she woke still in his arms the next morning. He had fallen asleep hard so she was able to get up without disturbing him. She wanted to see her daughter now, to embrace her as she had her son and husband. She wasn’t hard to find, it looked like she had been waiting in the hall for her to come out “Brynmor says…he”

“I know who I am, come here” Pretoria ran into her arms “Mom, its so good to have you home”

“It’s good to be home honey”

~ The End ~

Diya & Romanus 2

Chapter One

He was tired, especially after tonight, after he had found something far worse than he had imagined. The lamp in the living room switching on startled him and he was surprised to see Diya yawning and rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “Diya?”

“You’re home.” She gave him a sleepy smile. She stood, stretching. “Are you hungry?”

“Why are you sleeping on the couch?” He asked. Had something happened?

“Hmm? Oh, just waiting up for you. I was worried.”

“Oh.”

She stopped in front of him, studying his face. “It was a hard one, wasn’t it? Harder than usual I mean.” He nodded. How could she tell? “Could I give you a hug?”

“I…I think I should shower first.”

“Alright, I’ll get you something to eat.”

“I don’t think I can eat. I will later, just not right now. Maybe we could watch something, if you’re not too tired.”

“Of course.”

Diya hated seeing such a distressed look on his face, like he was reliving everything he had ever been subjected to and she wished she knew what to say. She went into the living room and switched the TV on then clicked on Netflix. She went through the comedy section, wanting to find something to help calm him down.

Romanus wanted to hurry to Diya, to her warmth but he couldn’t do anything at first but stand under the hot spray of water. Sometimes when cases ended up this horrible he was tempted to quit, especially now that he had such a wonderful life with Diya and her now seven year old daughter. He wanted to drown himself in their warmth and forget his childhood ever happened to him. He wanted to forget such horrendous things were still going on in the worlds but he couldn’t. He remembered all too well what it felt like to be one of those helpless children, scared and willing to do anything to make them stop. He had to save them, he had to save as many children as he possibly could.

One of the best things to him about Diya was that she understood his need to do this and she was always here, ready to comfort him when he needed it. Finally his desire to be out there with her got him moving. He washed himself thoroughly, dried and put on something comfortable. Diya had settled on a movie and had made them both hot tea, knowing it helped. He sat down, taking a long swig of it before thanking her. “It’s no trouble Romanus. What else can I do for you? Want to lay your head in my lap while we watch the movie and I can rub your back?”

“Honestly…I think I feel like having you in my lap and just clinging to you”

“Okay” she crawled into his lap and he wrapped his arms tightly around her, kissing her shoulder “thank you” She had told him countless times he didn’t need to thank her so much so she just relaxed into him and pressed play on their movie.

Between the movie and Diya, he was able let go of some of the tension in his body. He never realized just how much he was holding until he was with her. “Feeling any better?” She asked as she ran her fingers through his hair.

“Yeah, thanks to you.”

She let out a soft laugh, her breath tickling over his skin. “I’m not doing anything.”

“You’re doing everything. Just being near you makes me feel better. I don’t know what I’d do without you and Melody.” He moved his head so he could press his forehead into her neck. “You’ve been such a gift, both of you have.”

“We wouldn’t trade you for the world, Romanus.” She kiss the top of his head. “I know you don’t like to, but why don’t you take a short break. It’s the weekend so Melody doesn’t have to go to school. We could all go somewhere.”

He took in her scent then breathed out “I think I really need one. Besides, you two are always so patient with how busy I am. You deserve my full attention for at least the weekend”

“You do plenty with us”

“where would you like to take her?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t think that far ahead”

“we could ask her I suppose. I’m happy anywhere as long as I’m with you two”

“are you ready to head to bed then? She gets up early, even on weekends”

“Yeah” he stood, still holding Diya. He carried her to their room and didn’t even take the time to get undressed before settling into bed with her. She didn’t mind, she preferred pajamas but she knew he had dealt with something absolutely stomach churning tonight and she was willing to do whatever he needed to heal from it. They both fell asleep fast and woke to an excited little girl “Mom! Dad! I’m hungry! Can I help you make pancakes mom?” Sleepily her mother answered “sure baby”

Romanus couldn’t help but actually feel whole and normal in these moments with Diya and Melody. He felt love and affection warm him as he followed them and still found it hard to believe how lucky he was. “I’ll make coffee.” He said as they started pulling things out of the pantry and fridge. “Orange juice for the princess?” He asked and Melody giggled.

“Yes please.”

“So what do you think baby? Chocolate chips or blueberries?”

“Can we do both?”

“Sounds perfect.”

Once Romanus had the coffee started and had a glass of juice on the table for Melody, he stepped up behind Diya and wrapped his arms around her. “I love you.” He said and pressed a kiss to her temple.

“I love you too.” She turned just enough to kiss his cheek then went back to helping make batter. “So, Melody, daddy and I want to take you out somewhere this weekend, do you have anywhere you’d like to go or something you’d really like to do?”

“I don’t know”

“Think about it over breakfast.” Romanus said and Melody nodded. Their seven year old happily made breakfast with her mother as she thought about something for them all to do. Meanwhile Romanus just enjoyed watching them, the only beings who had ever brought true happiness into his life. The two made far too many pancakes but Melody liked to have them as snacks anyway. They’d just put the leftover ones in a ziplock in the fridge. They were just eating and talking when Melody said “could we go to a beach?”

“I know the perfect one” Melody squeaked with excitement “when can we go?”

“Lets eat and then we can make a bag of things we will need” Melody began to eat just a little quicker causing her mother to laugh before she said “well we might have to stop by a store. I don’t know if she has a swim suit that fits her”

“That can just be a part of the fun. We can let her pick one” Romanus responded then Diya spoke again, an idea dawning on her “we can have a picnic there too for lunch. You can help me decide what at the store Melody”

Romanus helped Diya clean up and then gather things for the beach. Diya picked out an outfit for Melody and sent her to her room to get changed. They then went to get ready. He didn’t know why he still found himself getting nervous when they changed together. He knew she wouldn’t hurt him or force him into anything, but his heart still stuttered in his chest and he found himself looking away when she pulled her shirt off. “Romanus?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you need me to change in the bathroom?”

“No, sorry, I want to look, but I feel…guilty I guess.” And scared.

“Romanus, I’m gonna come closer, okay?”

“Okay.”

She moved over, one arm across her chest and gently lifted his head. “You don’t have to rush yourself, I’m not going anywhere, so please don’t worry.”

“Okay, I love you and you’re very beautiful Diya, truly.” She gave him a quick kiss then turned away from him and grabbed clean clothes out of her chest of drawers. He changed quickly and they left the room together, both of them smiling when they saw Melody waiting excitedly on the couch.

“can we go now?”

“Yes baby, we’re all ready”

When they arrived at the store Melody easily picked out a swim suit so picking out stuff for lunch was the only thing that took a lot of time. They ended up settling on different fruits they could keep in the small cooler they bought. “seems like we’re ready” Melody made that excited little noise again, bouncing even as they checked out. Melody put the swim suit on under her clothes in the store bathroom since there may not be a place to change at the beach Romanus was taking them to. They didn’t ask if it was in their world or another, both loving surprises.

There was one place Romanus had found after he had escaped from his father and the depraved people who had used him. It had been one of the most peaceful moments of his life until he met Diya and Melody. It was actually connected to the vortex near the actual beach and was the reason why reality sometimes seemed distorted there to the regular human. Melody gave a little squeal of delight when she saw the water, but looked at them in confusion when Romanus kept driving. “We’re not going here?” She asked.

“We’re going somewhere better.” Romanus said. “Somewhere kind of special to me.”

Diya reached over and grabbed his hand when she saw the look on his face. She could always tell when he was thinking of his childhood. Even if there had been any sort of good memory after what had happened, it always came back to his childhood. “What’s it like?” She asked.

“It’s peaceful and beautiful.” He turned onto a side road and pulled over after a few more minutes. They all got out, grabbing things and he lead them over to the center of the vortex.

He picked them both up, not wanting to risk anything happening to them as they went through. He carried them out onto the sand then carefully put them down. The two of them were amazed at the beach they were seeing. It was a thousand times prettier here than back in their world. Diya kissed him on the cheek “thank you” he gave her a small smile “I’m happy to have a family to bring here…as a child…I didn’t think I’d ever have happiness” Melody tugged on him “can I run into the water? Is it safe?”

“yes, just dont go as depe as your waste until your mother and I set up the blanket and picnic stuff”

“Yes sir” she said excitedly then ran to the water. Diya started setting things up where they stood, glancing over at her daughter every now and then to make sure she was listening to Romanus. Once their picnic was set Diya said “lets go play with her” He pulled Diya into his arms “just give me a few moments to hold you first” She glanced over at her daughter again then relaxed into the hug, wondering what he must be thinking about.

“Diya?” Romanus finally said.

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry I’m still so uncomfortable and nervous doing certain things. I don’t deserve your patience.”

“Hush, you have every right to be and you know you didn’t hurt my feelings right?”

“I know, it’s just…I mean what if you want another child or something.”

Diya pulled back enough to see his face. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but right now you need to just take your time. It just makes me happy hearing you say you might even want to try.” She gave him a kiss. “You’re making really good progress, you really are, so don’t rush. I’m perfectly happy.”

“I just want to give you everything, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to.”

“You’ve given me more than you know, you saved Melody and you’ve been so amazing to us. I love you, so don’t worry.”

“Okay.”

Diya looked back at Melody. “She looks so happy and that’s all thanks to you, baby.”

 

Chapter Two

She could see how much emotion that stirred up in him “lets go play with her” She gave Romanus another kiss and the two got up to play with Melody “Yes!” she said excitedly, instantly starting to go deeper. Diya laughed, seeing how eager her daughter had been. She went under and Diya instantly noticed how worried Romanus looked. When she popped back up Melody splashed him, he looked surprised a moment then she encouraged with a giggle “come on dad” He splashed back, taking awhile to really give her a good one. It was always sweet and sad to see him interact with her.

It showed all the time he hadn’t had any sort of a normal childhood. While playing at one point Romanus pulled Diya under, holding her against him then coming uip quickly “throw her throw her!” Melody said excitedly. Romanus looked at Diya who giggled “it’s okay” He threw her and Melody laughed. Diya came up laughing as well and Romanus smiled. He wished he could play with them more normally but he was still learning how to play.

They splashed and played until Melody asked for a snack. Romanus made sure she was out safely before following Diya over to their stuff. They sat down together and enjoyed the warm weather as they ate. “We should explore a little.” Diya said. “If that’s okay with you.” She added.

“Alright, but please stay close to me. It’s not really dangerous here, but just in case.” Romanus knew he probably sounded paranoid. “I mean feel free to explore, just don’t got to far.”

“Romanus,” Diya took his hand, “it’s okay.”

“Sorry, I know at some point I’m going to have to learn to let loose, especially as our little Melody gets older.” He didn’t want his little girl to hate him.

She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “You’re an amazing father, she won’t hold it against you.”

“You two never hold anything against me…”

“I cant think of anything we should. We’re happy with you. I mean it” The couple cleaned up their picnic then walked hand in hand as they followed little Melody. He would guide since he knew the area but he wanted them to see everything they wanted to see. Melody gasped as she drew near the water again, going in just to her ankles and collecting the shells that had grabbed her attention “these are so pretty. Can I take them home? Please” Romanus answered “yes, there are many gorgeous shells in that water”

Melody ran over to her mother “will you carry them please?”

“sure baby”

Romanus found himself able to relax near completely as they walked and watched Melody. It wasn’t until he saw his little girl freeze that the tension came back. “Melody, what’s wrong?” He asked as he moved up to stand behind her.

She pointed. “There’s a dog over there.” She said and he followed her gaze.

It wasn’t a dog, but a wolf, and he was surprised she had been able to see it with how well its fur allowed it to blend into the tall grass. He could tell it was young and skinnier than normal. He moved in front of her and it seemed to startle the young wolf who hadn’t noticed him. “Diya, take Melody please.”

Diya gently pulled her daughter closer, watching the wolf. “What does it want?”

“He and I think he’s starving.” Had the wolf been watching Melody because she was the weaker target?

“What should we do?” Diya asked. “Should we feed him?”

Romanus wasn’t so sure, but he couldn’t tell Diya no, not when he knew the creature before them was still a child, twelve at most. “I’ll do it, you two stay back.” They had plenty of snacks so he went through the bag, pulling a couple of granola bars out and and taking their wrappers off. The wolf’s eyes watched the food.

It started to shift and Melody held a little tighter to her mother. They were aware of other beings but Melody had never seen an actual wolf shifter before. The young boy then cautiously came over and took the food. Melody was embarrassed looking at the naked boy so buried her face into her mother. “why are you so thin and why are you alone?” Romanus asked and the boy looked up into Romanus’s eyes, swallowing down his food before saying softly “I’ve been alone as long as I can remember…I just…I just felt like coming to the beach today and then” he looked over at Melody again. He fell silent so Romanus gently grabbed his face, turning it back to him “Please stop staring at my daughter”

“she’s yours?”

“Her mother is my mate now so yes she is mine” The boy looked uncomfortable and Diya said “Romanus, we can’t just leave this boy alone.”

“what do you suggest we do with him?”

“well…our house is plenty big”

Romanus didn’t know how he felt about allowing a stranger into their home, but if he turned the boy away, then it would be a betrayal of everything he had worked for. Not only that, but he knew Diya would be disappointed. He turned his gaze back to the boy who had once again been looking at Melody. “Sorry.” The boy said.

“What’s your name?”

“Tormod.”

“Tormod, do you remember how you came to be alone?”

He shook his head. “I don’t, just that I was running and then it was just me.”

Romanus nodded. “My mate believes that you should come home with us, would you like that?”

Tormod glanced at Melody. “Yes.”

Romanus leaned closer to the boy, hearing his heart skip in his chest. “I am only going to ask you this once child, was it my daughter who brought you here?”

“I…I could smell her and I…I don’t want to hurt her or anything, I just found her scent and followed it from the beach. The wolf…the wolf wanted me to.”

Romanus nodded as he straightened up and released Tormod. “You do know that my mate and daughter are important to me and if anything were to happen to them…”

“I wont hurt them…I promise” the boy seemed harmless and had a healthy fear of him so Romanus decided they could take him home. Besides, he knew about wolves.It sounded as if his daughter might very well be this boys mate. If that ended up being so he knew weather she returned the feelings or not he’d be a protector for her and he still worried about Melody, about another pervert setting his sights on her. Once he got this boy healthy it would be nice to know a wolf was protecting his family and would do so even if it meant his life since he knew how serious wolves were once they found their mate.

“lets go ahead and get home home. I’ll bring you guys back here once he’s healthy” Tormond looked at Melody again “I’ll shift. I’m making her uncomfortable like this”

“alright, first thing we’ll do is get you some clothes for this form” Tormond nodded and shifted back into a wolf, following the family once they began heading back the way they came. Unsurprisingly he ended up by Melodys side but she seemed happy now. Once home Roamus mulled over how he wanted to do this trip. He couldn’t take this boy to the store naked and he couldn’t take a wolf into a store. He also wasn’t so sure he wanted to leave him alone with his family right away despite the fact Romanus was guessing Melody would come to mean to the world to this wolf.

“are you trying to think about what to do when it comes to shopping?”

“Yes”

“I can measure him and look up online what sizes he’ll need. Then you can just go. We’ll be fine alone with him. He’s a kid, a starved child who was just given a home. I don’t feel like he’s going to hurt anybody”

“could you just order him clothes online?”

“same day shipping is expensive but yeah. I really want him to be able to shifts back into a boy when he wants” He was curled up beside Melody who was petting him. Diya whispered “so scary, he totally cant be trusted if you go to the store”

 

Final Chapter

Romanus looked at Tormod and then back at Diya. She was teasing him. He let out a little sigh and she hugged him. “Diya.”

“At least get him a pair of sweats and a shirt. He needs something and it won’t take you long.”

“Alright, alright, I’ll go.” He leaned back and kissed her. “Just, if anything happens, call me.”

“I will, now go, we’ll be fine.”

“Alright.”

Diya got Melody to cover her eyes so Tormod could shift back long enough to be measured. The boy apologized and Diya did he rbest to reassure him it was alright. He shifted back quickly and went back to Melody, which caused Diya to let out a little laugh. She looked up his sizes and then gave them to Romanus so he could get something for him. Romanus left, knowing he shouldn’t be worried, but unable to keep his mind from wandering. Logically, he knew young Tormod was practically harmless. The boy was starved, but after everything he couldn’t help himself. Once he was at the store, he quickly found the right clothing and grabbed them.

He felt relieved when he finally got home and Diya gave him a hug once he was inside. “Sorry.” He said softly.

“Hush, you know it’s okay.” She took the bag from him and went to Tormod. “Here sweetie, why don’t you go put these on.”

He picked up the bag with his mouth and walked off to a room. He wasn’t going to shift infront of Melody any more unless he had to. When he came back he was a boy and seemed to fit perfectly in what Romanus had bought him “thank you”

“whatever you need will be taken care of for now on. You’re a part of this family now. Tormond walked back over to Melody who asked “do you like to color?” he seemed confused a few moments then said “create art?” Diya smiled “sort of, lets go get her coloring books” Diya quickly pulled the box she kept it all in and handed it to Tormod “I have to finish cooking dinner but she’ll show you what she means” He walked back to Melody and set the box down. She grabbed a coloring book then said “you pick one” he just grabbed the top one and she pulled out the crayons. Romanus watched them a few minuets before joining his wife in the kitchen.

“is he taking to coloring?” she asked in an amused tone and he said “he’ll probably take to anything she wants to do with him”

“why’s that?”

“he said his wolf wanted him to come to her. Most likely she’s his mate. You know about wolves right?”

“I don’t know what you mean”

“They are one of the very few beings that know when they’ve found their soulmate. The wolf inside them guides them to whomever they are meant for. I mean I might think the wolf just knew I’d take him in because they have instincts for more than just that but the way he keeps looking at her, I just feel like it’s a mate thing”

“He knows she’s seven right?” a small bit of her momma bear was peeking out. “I wouldn’t have brought him home for a second if I thought he might hurt her. He’ll protect her with his life, honestly if he does anything that hurts her it’ll crush him. Their mates are everything to them. He’ll protect her, always. I’m going to stay home awhile to be absolutely sure about him but if I’m right I’ll feel a lot better with him here to protect you two”

“is it going to be a problem though when she’s older? I mean, will he become aggressive about it?”

“No, like I said, the only thing at risk with those two if she’s his mate is her breaking his heart. He wouldn’t hurt her or anybody she loves”

“I’m really happy you’re taking a break with us” he could tell any concerns were eased. He could understand how that chat at first could be alarming since he was in his early teens and their daughter hadn’t even made it to double digits yet.

He set the table for her while she cooked, then looked in on Melody and Tormod. They were still coloring, Tormod going much slower than Melody and focusing much harder. He went back to Diya and wrapped his arms around her and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “What should we do for the rest of the weekend?”

“Get Tormod completely settled in, help him get used to living a normal life.”

“Normal, I wish I could truly give you all that.”

“You do just fine.”

“I’m sure Tormod can smell death on me, he’ll want to know why at some point.”

“Tell him when you’re ready, I’m sure he’ll understand.” She let out a little laugh as she switched off the stove. “Looks like we don’t have to worry about having a baby.”

“Diya.” She turned in his arms, smiling up at him. “I do want to give you children, I…I love you.”

“It’s okay, really and I love you too.”

He tucked some hair behind her ear “I…we should try…to at least have sex”

“but are you ready for that because I dont care. I’m happy to never have sex if you find you can’t”

“lets try tonight okay”

“Please don’t do this just for me”

“I want to, I want to experience what enjoyable…consensual sex is like”

“alright but we’re taking it slow and you need to tell me right away if you’re getting scared or uncomfortable” He held her tightly to him a few moments, both nervous and eager for the evening. They served the food then called Melody and Tormod in. They both came quickly, Melody holding a picture for each of her parents “thank you honey” Melody sat down in her normal spot, cheerful as ever and Tormod joined her. His eyes widened a bit when he saw all the food on the table and Diya felt bad for him all over again “try to take it slow Tormod” He nodded but seemed to struggle with actually following through with it as he ate.

Tormod let out a little whine after dinner and Diya realized his stomach hurt. “I’m sorry.” He said.

“It’s okay honey, but next time try to eat slow, okay? You’ll never have to go without and no one is going to take your food from you.”

“Okay.”

She patted his back. “Let’s get you to your room.” He looked back at Melody, who was taking her plate to the sink, not wanting to leave her. “Tormod, how about we give you the room next to Melody’s.”

“Really?” She could see him light up at the thought.

“Of course, that way, you know where she is.”

“Alright.”

Romanus sent Melody off to follow them and started cleaning up. As he rinsed dishes and stuck them in the dishwasher, he began to over think things. What if he hurt Diya? What if he got scared? She said it was okay, but was it? He hated he was so scared, it was ridiculous when it was Diya. He heard a cracking sound and looked down to see he had squeezed one of their glasses too hard. He took a deep breath, sighed, then threw it away.

She was still reading to Melody when he was done in the kitchen but he had heard her read this one before and knew it was nearly over so he leaned against the wall and listened. When Diya came out she smiled up at him, easing some of his nerves. She took his hand and guided him into their bedroom. Diya shut then locked the door before saying softly “theres no expectation of you Romanus. We’ll do what you can handle tonight, thats it. You can even still back out if you need to”

“I want to try”

“How do you want to start? You can undress me or I can undress myself” Roamnus nervously answered “I’m too nervous to be able to undress you…could you do it slowly”

“mhm” She took off her shirt first, happy when he didn’t turn away from her as he often did. She then took off her pants, now standing in just her bra and underwear “everything Roamnus or do you maybe want to touch me like this first” Saying Roamnus was traumatized from being a constant sex toy in his childhood was an understatement so Diya felt she needed to be incredibly careful about this, especially since this was their first attempt at doing anything sexual.

It took him awhile but he managed to finally actually touch her bare skin. He tuned his senses into her, feeling a bit of emotion tug at his heart that she obviously like him touching her. He knew she wanted him, logically anyway. All he had known this far was rapists and it made all this hard emotionally. He was mostly touching her arms, back and stomach, seeming careful to avoid her breasts so she tried to help him “Roamnus, you can touch me anywhere” He blushed, seeming a little shaky as he slowly moved his hands to her breasts. She smiled at him, her expression filled with so much love and patience he had to take a moment to hold her against him which she still viewed as progress. He was actually holding her while she was nearly naked. She wondered for a moment if he realized that.

“Are you okay?” She asked softly as she rubbed his back.

“Yeah, sorry, I just…”

“It’s alright.” He pulled back and she gently pulled him down to kiss him, her fingers running through his hair and over his neck to help calm him. “Would you like me to take my bra and underwear off?”

“I…” he took a deep breath to steady himself, “yes.”

She moved back enough to remove them, going slow, watching him as he watched her. He was scared and worried, but he wasn’t turning away. He reached out to her and she stepped into him, letting out a breathy moan when his hands moved over her. “Romanus.” She slid her arms around his neck and he pressed his lips into hers, parting them so he could deepen the kiss.

His hands slid over her warm skin, his fingers moving up her spine, causing her to shiver. He was surprised to feel desire tingling over him, slowly filling him. He wanted to be brave and made himself back her onto the bed. He pulled back and she smiled up at him, so loving and trusting, so patient as she waited for him. “You’re so beautiful.” He whispered, his voice shaking a little.

“and you’re so handsome Romanus. I love you” His heart trembled again and he kissed her. Diya tried not to look as surprised as she was when he began taking off his own clothes, worried surprise might be mistranslated by him right now and he was doing far better than she had expected this evening. They were skin to skin and while they were now not doing anything this progress meant the world to her. Not because she wanted sex, she did but what mattered to her was what this meant for him as far as healing went. On top of that she knew how much trust it took for him to be naked and exposed like this. He didn’t end up being able to do more that evening but he took her under the covers and held her skin to skin all night.

~ The End ~

 

Paimon & Pellegrino

Chapter One

“Paimon, come on we should have left already.” Pellegrino said as he walked into the room Paimon was using at the castle. “What’s taking…” he froze, his heart jumping in his chest when he saw Paimon standing there naked, drying his hair. Paimon’s eyes collided with his and he swallowed. “I…sorry, I should have knocked, I…” He turned around to leave and Paimon was suddenly standing there, closing the door, the towel wrapped around his waist.

“Well hello to you too Pellegrino.” Paimon’s eyes twinkled with his trademark amusement. “Can I help you?”

“Uh, our trip…I just came to get you.” He hadn’t expected him to be completely naked. He often walked into Paimon’s house without knocking.

“Oh that’s right.” He chuckled. “I’m afraid I slept in. If you’ll just give me a moment to get dressed.”

“Of course, sorry.”

Paimon chuckled again, not seeming bothered in the slightest that Pellegrino had seen him naked. Paimon was confident in his body and if anybody was going to see him naked he wanted it to be the prince. Paimon dressed slowly, a wide smile on his face as he enjoyed teasing the very nervous Pellegrino. Once dressed he hugged Pellegrino from behind and whispered in his ear “I’m ready now” chuckling again at how he reacted. Paimon let his body go but took the prince’s hand and tugged him out. Pellegrino was once again left not knowing what to do. Paimon was a lot to be around but he enjoyed every second of it.

Paimon took a detour to the kitchen where he grabbed a bag he had packed the night before with snacks for the road. He wasn’t particularly worried about supplies, confident in his ability to easily provide for them. “ How long are we going to be gone?” Pellegrino asked.

“A few days. Why, are you scared to be alone with me? Afraid I might bite?” He chuckled at the prince’s stuttering heart. He truly did love teasing him, especially since he was so innocent.

“No, never.”

“Don’t worry, I promise to make every moment incredibly enjoyable my sweet prince.”

Paimon kept possession of prince Pellegrino’s hand even as they left the castle, wanting him to stay close. He knew the prince liked it anyway. He was often tempted to tell the prince that the feeling was mutual but Paimon enjoyed this phase far too much. They had forever so what did it matter how long they were here. Eventually the prince would admit their feelings and they’d still have eternity together. Right now, things were adorable but a part of him did hope maybe this trip would be what got Pellegrino to admit he wanted to be in a relationship with him.

“What are we going to be doing exactly?” Pellegrino asked.

“It’s a surprise my prince, or perhaps you’d like me to spoil it for you?”

“No, well maybe a hint?”

“Hmmm.” Paimon tapped his chin. “It’s fun and interesting and you get me all to yourself.” He teased and Pellegrino’s cheeks flushed. “It’ll just be you and me.”

“Oh, I see.”

“There’s going to be hot springs.”

“Really?”

“Mmhmm and you’ll love it there, I promise.”

“I’m surprised you’re not dragging me off to mess with someone.” Pellegrino said with a nervous chuckle.

“I’m not all tricks, my prince, sometimes I like to unwind and be “normal” for awhile.”

“so did anything keep you up last night?”

“Not really, It was just one of those nights I fell asleep particularly hard” Pellegrino didn’t say anything back so Paimon asked “what have you done this morning?”

“talked to some friends who stopped me on the way to your home”

“Oh, which friends?”

“Míos, Enfulid and Enfulid’s most recent fling.”

“He never does stay with anyone more than a few months. Were they just saying goodbye?”

“Mostly, Mios also decided to bring up again why we don’t just teleport where we are going.”

“Part of the fun is traveling there”

“That’s what I told him. He said if he had that ability its all he would do”

“That’s what you think but its not as fun when you’ve been able to do it all your life”

“Says the guy who likes to sneak up on people, me included, and scare them.”

“I prefer the term surprise and don’t pretend you don’t enjoy it.”

“I admit life would be boring without you.”

“True, I’m pretty amazing.”

“You are, I mean it.” He felt embarrassed so he cleared his throat and focused on the road ahead. Even so, he could see Paimon smiling out of the corner of his eye. It wasn’t fair how beautiful he was, how easily he wrapped people around his little finger. He had been captivated from the moment they had met.

Paimon couldn’t get over how sweet Pellegrino was and how adorable he was in his obliviousness. He was so innocent in comparison to himself, he wondered how he would react to being seduced. “Oh, would you mind if we took a little detour? It’s a shortcut, but I think you’ll like it.”

“Okay, whatever you want.”

“Keep saying that and I might just collect.” He winked and then chuckled when he heard Pellegrino’s heart quicken.

They were soon turning where the detour began, walking silently side by side due to the fact Paimon was now hooked into the idea of suddenly seducing him at some point during this journey. He just had to plan how and when. He didn’t mind this phase but the urge to actually mate with him grew stronger and stronger every time they hung out. If he kept just teasing Pellegrino and waiting for him to confess he didn’t know how much longer he was going to have to wait for sex, possibly years and that tipped the scales a little into how much fun it would be to seduce such a sweet, innocent man.

Pellegrino noticed small changes starting to occur as they walked. The grass was growing more vibrant but the trees, once green and full bodied were starting to look more like they belonged to fall weather. He began looking more intently at everything which Paimon noticed “Of course, he’s thinking of nature and I’m thinking about making love to him” he thought to himself.

“What happened here?” He pointed. “There’s snow back there.”

“My theory is a magic user may have been practicing changing the weather and it got out of hand. I call it the Forest of Seasons.”

“It’s magnificent.”

“You’re better.” He gently bumped into him.

“You’re teasing.”

“Am I? I think I’m being incredibly honest. If I had to choose between you and this place, I’d definitely choose you. You’re far to entertaining and pure to pass up.” He teased.

“I’m not pure.”

“Oh? Do tell sweet prince.”

“I…well…” he rubbed the back of his neck, “okay, so maybe I am more pure than I thought.”

Paimon chuckled. “That’s okay, it’s actually quite adorable.” He grinned. “Besides, I have enough experience for both of us.”

“Paimon, come on.” He looked away. “So, tell me more about this place? Are there any animals or anything?”

He really wanted to talk about anything other than Paimons previous exploits with lovers. He knew he meant that in other ways too but it still made him uncomfortable. Paimon easily transitioned over to a new topic, always feeling it was a subject that did nothing but make his mate uncomfortable. He had hoped at first it might interest him but it never so much as slightly peaked his interest though he couldn’t blame him. He knew from experience with others who had slept around just because someone had sex a lot didn’t mean they were good at it. When you get people in bed they don’t get a preview of how good you are so your skill in bed has nothing to do with how many you’ve been with.

He wasn’t sure how that idea even got started. Sometimes having a multitude of partners actually meant you were pretty bad at it, as in, beings weren’t coming back for more after they had you once so you had to bed someone new. “there’s actually an amazing variety of animals this way. Since there are so many seasons a lot can live in different areas of this place”

“Thanks for bringing me this way” Paimon smiled, charming as always “things like this is precisely why I enjoy walking with you instead of teleporting”

“can we stay for the night when we’re about halfway through? I don’t want to rush through here”

“That’s fine with me, just gives us more time together”

Pellegrino wanted to explore the different parts of the forest and Paimon happily followed, even pelting him with a snowball at one point. When Pellegrino went to retaliate, he was suddenly behind him and smashing another over his head. “That’s so unfair.” Pellegrino said with a laugh.

“The look on your face is always priceless though, I can’t help it.” He helped dust Pellegrino off. “Come on, we’ll stay in Spring.”

“Alright.”

He took Pellegrino’s hand again and pulled him through the woods, moving out of the snow to a more warm and vibrant area. He marveled at how brightly colored the plants were and also at the heat radiating from the area. It was like both Spring and Summer had taken up residence here and it was amazing. “This is perfect.”

“There’s no need for a fire when it’s like this.” He dropped his pack in the grass and stretched. “So, what do you think so far? Good trip? Bad?”

“It’s perfect.” Pellegrino sat down and leaned back against a tree. “So, have you come here often?”

“Of course, I love it here, why?”

“No reason.”

Paimon could see the question in his eyes. He was wondering if he had brought anyone else here. “You know, I used to travel alone, mostly following Jarius and making him angry. I spent time with others of course, but I never brought them to my favorite places.” He went and sat down in front of Pellegrino, taking his hand. “You’re the only one.”

He could see how much that meant to Pellegrino, the look he had on his face was so adorable he kissed his forehead. “You hungry?” he asked before Pellegrino could say anything. “It probably would be good to hunt before we’re too hungry” he semi stuttered and Paimon chuckled, come, lets hunt together. Paimon knew the area so Pellegrino followed his lead. They didn’t end up too far before nabbing and quickly killing an animal. They prepared it together, it producing so much they could eat off it for days if they kept it stored properly but Paimon had magic for that.

“Let me cook it, I found this particularly good way to use this meat”

“alright” Pellegrino watched Paimon, always eager to learn.

“How did you get it to taste so good?” Pelligrino asked when they were finally eating. “I watched you and I don’t remember you putting much on there.”

Paimon shrugged. “It’s a secret.”

“Come on, I want to be able to make it too.”

Paimon shook his head. “You’ll just have to visit me as often as possible to eat it. It’s a good excuse to have you over.”

“Alright, fine, I guess I can deal with it.”

“How else am I to entice you over?”

“By asking?”

“But food is an added bonus.”

Pellegrino chuckled. “I’ll give you that.”

They continued to make small talk as they ate, Paimon teasing Pellegrino at every opportunity and Pellegrino unable to hide his embarrassment or the fact he actually enjoyed it. He could see why so many found him charming and even loved him. He couldn’t help but feel a slight stab of jealousy and he hated it. Paimon paid more attention to him than anyone else and he knew he should be happy about it. “You’re making a face my sweet Pellegrino.” Paimon jerked him out of his thoughts. “Want to talk about it?”

“No, I’m fine, thank you for bringing me here and for dinner.”

“Well be prepared to be spoiled the whole time. I have a lot planned for when we get there.”

 

Final Chapter

Pellegrino smiled, snapping out of it. The past didn’t matter, just them, right now mattered. It felt good to know that he was the only one Paimon had brought here. Paimon got Pellegrino blushing again when they laid down for the night. Instead of just laying across from him Paimon pulled Pellegrino into his arms and almost instantly fell asleep, not giving Pellegrino much of a chance to say anything. Pellegrino swallowed down how nervous this made him and allowed himself to slowly drift to sleep. In the morning Paimon had such a smug smile on his face that had Pellegrinos heart racing. “good morning”

“good morning” Pellegrino quickly sat up and Paimon chuckled, happily starting to get breakfast going. Pellegrino still didn’t know what to say about Paimon holding him last night so ended up not mentioning it. He liked it and still couldn’t tell Paimon how he felt so he decided nothing was best unless he was ready to tell him he wanted to be with him.

“Do you think we’ll get to where we’re going today?” Pellegrino asked once they were on their way again.

“Tonight, that’s why I went this way. It takes us up and over instead of around.” He took Pellegrino’s hand. “Luckily, because of all this magic, it stays fairly warm on the way up. Are you excited?”

“Very.” And nervous, he thought. Paimon had such a way of throwing him for a loop. He was so forward and absolutely shameless.

Paimon could hear how hard his heart was beating and pulled him a little closer. He took them up at a leisurely pace, not wanting to rush his time with Pellegrino. A warm breeze blew through the forest, kicking up flurries of snow. When they crested the hill, Paimon pointed. “We’re going way over there where that clearing is.” He explained. “See the sun hitting the water?”

“This is amazing.”

“You need to travel more, my prince. I may just have to take you on a new adventure every couple of weeks.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“No, but I want to.”

“alright then, that sounds fun”

“as long as I’m with you I’m doing something I want to do” Paimon always teased but not this way. Was he trying to kill him? His heart going like this couldn’t be healthy. Paimon kept on the entire way, building up to what he was planning to do as soon as they reached their destination. It was amusing in itself that Pellegrino still wasn’t getting it. He was far too innocent and sweet. When they arrived that evening Paimon didn’t even give him time to finish talking about how much he liked this place too. Paimon pulled the prince into a hungry kiss. He couldn’t take it slow, he wanted this too bad and the shock value would be too amusing. Besides, he knew for a fact Pellegrino did want him.

Pellegrino was so shocked he couldn’t even kiss back at first but shyly, he did eventually start to. Paimon started feeling him, desiring all of him more than ever but Pellegrino pushed his hands away. Paimon groaned, pulling away completely “Too much then?”

“ye…yeah”

“I love you and I want you. I’ve been teasing you long enough”

“So all this time you’ve actually been flirting with me…”

“You mean more to me than anybody ever has”

“and this isn’t a joke? You’re serious”

“wasn’t that kiss serious?”

“It’s just, I’m not exactly, you know and you do enjoy messing with me so…”

“Do you trust me?”

“Of course.”

“Then trust that I’m being serious.” He pressed a light kiss to his lips. “I want you and only you, no one else, and I have for awhile.” He grinned as he leaned in, his lips close to Pellegrino’s ear. “Don’t you want me too, my prince.”

Pellegrino swallowed, his heart hammering in his chest, the tickle of Paimon’s breath sending desire dancing through him. “I do, it’s just…I may disappoint.”

Paimon pulled back, the look on his face surprisingly serious. “Let me tell you something, Pellegrino. The amount of people I have been with doesn’t matter, there is no comparison to be made between you and them. I love you and anything I do with you will be more enjoyable because I love you. There is nothing you could do to disappoint me. I am yours to do with what you wish, nothing will change that.” He smiled warmly. “You’re my first love, Pellegrino, my only love.”

“I am?”

“Yes and it’s something I never thought I would have or even want.”

Pellegrino didn’t know if it was foolishness, hopefulness or the way Paimon was looking at him but he believed him. He kissed Paimon, not half as sure of himself as Paimon. Soon he wasn’t thinking at all, just one with the moment they were sharing. “I love you too” Pellegrino said softly when their lips parted again. Paimon grinned “well lets stop this before I have you right now. You’re probably tired”

“tired? Right now?” The look Pellegrino gave him as he said those words made Paimon chuckle “so I can have you then?”

“yeah”

“don’t be so nervous, I mean it. I love you and that alone will make it amazing. People from my past should never bother you because they never meant a thing to me. You have chemistry in bed or you don’t and most the time how you feel about eachother determines that. Its like how mortals will sometimes act like sex in their marriage was suddenly terrible. Their sex life wasn’t different, how they felt was. Mates enjoy sex far more than people who whore themselves because we love eachother.” Paimons lust was getting harder to control but he didn’t want Pellegrino to be so nervous.

“I just don’t know what to do.”

Paimon smiled as he pressed another seductive kiss to Pellegrino’s lips, eliciting a little moan that sent a thrill of excitement through him. “Let me show you my love.” He kissed his chin, nibbled his way down to his neck where he gave him a gentle bite.

“Paimon.” He sounded breathless, needy, and maybe even a little scared, but he wasn’t pulling away.

He pushed at his shirt, lifting it up and off, allowed his hands to slide over his torso. “Can I have you, Pellegrino?”

“Yes.”

Paimon found his lips again as he pulled him down to the soft grass. They pulled at each other’s clothes, both if them letting out a sigh of pleasure at being skin to skin. He coaxed Pellegrino into touching him, enjoying the shy way he explored him. He rolled Pellegrino beneath him, his lips moving down the center of his body, his teeth biting down to mark him.

Each time Paimon bit down on Pellegrinos flesh to mark him Pellegrino moaned. When Paimon reached just above his length he began to lick up Pellegrinos body, stopping at his neck to gently nibble and suck. Pellegrino began touching Paimon again, feeling him, causing goosebumps to show up all over Paimons skin. This truly was better than any encounter he had ever had before. He hadn’t known if all that talk from Jarius was true but right now, he knew it definitely was. Sex was a million times better with someone you loved.

Paimon moaned loudly when Pellegrino nibbled at his ear then licked just behind it, something nobody had actually done to him before so he hadn’t known how sensitive he was to something like that. Pellegrinos heart flipped in his chest that he could cause such a reaction from him. It gave him a little more confidence already since he could sense how much Paimon was enjoying this in general.

Paimon hadn’t planned this but was always preparred, producing some lube so he wouldn’t hurt Pellegrino during their first time. Before he used it he checked again, his words husky with desire “are you ready for me to be inside you? I…don’t know how slow you need me to be…if I have to stop now it’s alright but I will need to go masturbate if I do have to stop”

“You can”

Paimon kissed him as he loosened him, excited by Pellegrino’s heavy breathing. He rubbed some lube on himself and slowly began to push into him. Pellegrino clung to him, his moan somewhere between a yell and a whimper. He could see he was slightly overwhelmed and paused, giving him a moment to breathe. “You okay?” It was a struggle to stay still, to not completely bury himself, but he managed, not wanting to hurt or scare him. Pellegrino nodded and he continued, letting out a relieved moan once he was all the way in.

“Paimon.” He gasped for breath, clinging tightly to him.

“It’s okay, relax, breathe.” He braced himself on his elbows, withdrawing and sinking back into him, his hips taking on a gentle, rocking rhythm. Pellegrino’s back arched and Paimon thrust into him a little harder, pushing him over the edge. He picked up the pace, unable to hold back any longer. A loud moan was wrenched from his throat as he flowed into him and he pressed his forehead into Pellegrino’s, the only sounds their labored breathes and thundering hearts.

Pellegrino’s eyes were damp with tears and Paimon pressed loving kisses to his lips, his fingers running through his hair and brushing back pieces that clung to his sweat damp skin. “Are you okay?” He asked.

“Yeah…just…wow.”

Paimon smiled. “Good then?” Pellegrino nodded and Paimon rubbed their noses together. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Pellegrino would have never believed when he was invited on this trip they’d end up like this. Kissing, exchanging I love yous and cuddling. Paimon barely seemed like the kind of man to be so sweet but Pellegrino couldn’t be happier. They were actually together now and if their first time together was any indication they were going to have amazing sexual chemistry. They made a long trip of things but nobody had worried when they came back. Everyone knew how capable they both were and were instantly elated for them anyway when they told everyone they were together.

~ The End

Malcolm & Shaw

Chapter One

Past:

Malcolm smiled despite the sadness clenching his heart as he approached his best friend Shaw. He looked so handsome in his tux and stood from the chair he was sitting in as Malcolm approached. “You look tired.” Malcolm said as they hugged.

“Yeah, I finally got a moment to just breathe.”

“I still can’t believe it…married.”

“I know.”

“Where’s the bride?”

“Off with her mother talking to everyone.”

Malcolm nodded, hating what he was about to do, but he had too. “Hey, can we talk away from all of this for a minute?”

Shaw gave him a concerned look. “Everything alright?”

“Yeah, I just have something important to tell you.”

“Of course.” Shaw lead him away from all the guests and deeper into the botanical garden he and his new wife had rented for their wedding. When they were out of sight he turned to Malcolm. “So? What’s up?”

Malcolm opened his mouth then closed it again, his heart hammering in his chest, his throat threatening to close up on his words. “I…” He took a deep breath, steeling himself. “Shaw I…I love you.”

“I love you too man.”

Malcolm clenched his fists, “No, you don’t understand, I love you, really love you. I know it’s shitty to say it now, but…it’s the truth.”

Shaw’s eyes widened in shock. “Malcolm…”

“I’m sorry.” He said quickly. “I’m sorry, I…” Shaw reached for him and Malcolm backed away, then turned and ran. He didn’t want to hear how much Shaw hated him for it or how disappointed he was, so he ran to his car and got behind the wheel, his eyes burning with tears.

Present:

“You coming out with us tonight Malcolm?” One of the women he worked with, Hannah asked as she leaned against the mop she had been using to clean up the restaurants floor.

“Sure, who all’s going?”

“Me, Lawrence, and Rowan.”

“Alright, where do you want me to meet you?”

“Bargarten.”

“Sure, I’ll be there.”

“awesome, I’ll add you to the group text we have going about it. Are you heading home now?”

“I was but let me help you dry the floor so we both can get going”

“You’re so sweet, thank you.”

“add me to the chat and I’ll put this away then grab the towels” He walked away with the mop and bucket, getting a text before he even had a chance to get what they needed to dry the floors. He checked it and responded, smiling when the rest of the group was excited about him joining. He knew he should join them more but didn’t dwell on that thought. He and Hannah had a floor to dry so they could lock up and leave. Their phones went off a few more times but they didn’t check them again until everything was put away and the restaurant was locked for the evening.

Malcolm texted everyone that he was going to swing by his place and change real quick. They all gave him an okay and he headed home. He was surprised to find a car sitting in front of his house when he pulled up and it took him a minute to notice the person sitting on his porch. He was shocked when he realized it was Shaw. He closed his eyes, shook his head, and opened them again. He was still there. He swallowed. It was Shaw and now he was standing and dusting himself off. Malcolm knew he needed to get out, but he was frozen. Shaw just stood there, waiting for him and Malcolm took a deep breath, switched off his car and got out. “Hey.” Shaw said with a smile.

“Um, hey.” He cleared his throat. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m not allowed to visit.”

“Oh.” He nodded as he forced himself to move toward and then past Shaw to his door. “Yeah, of course, but it’s…it’s kind of a bad time. I have plans with friends.” His hand was shaking as he unlocked his door. He could feel Shaw step up behind him.

“Need some help? At this rate we’ll be old by the time you open the door.”

“I go it.” He managed to get the key in and the door open.

“I can come in right?”

“Yeah, but I need to get ready, my friends are waiting.” He headed to his room and Shaw followed. “So, how are things?”

“They’re fine. It’s good to see you.”

Malcolm nodded again. “Yeah, you too.” He dropped his keys on his chest of drawers, as well as his phone. He didn’t know how he was supposed to act around Shaw anymore. He hadn’t talked to him since the wedding, far too embarrassed and ashamed.

Shaw grabbed his wrist gently “I wish you wouldn’t be so nervous…we were once so close…I’m divorced if you’re worried about my wife”

“divorced?”

“Yeah, things just didn’t work out. She was always thinking I was cheating which I wasn’t…I didn’t even pursue you…someone who meant the world to me because it would have felt wrong knowing…well…but I’m single again…I want more than anything to have you back in my life, even if you might not love me anymore I want to be a part of your life again” Malcolm swallowed “so you didn’t lose all respect for me because I confessed feelings for a married man”

“Of course not, you can’t help how you felt. It’s not like you hounded me or tried to get me to cheat, You just told me how you felt”

“I could have been more mature about it. Telling you on your wedding day was…it was stupid.”

“Just know, it’s alright.”

“Okay.” Malcolm nodded and Shaw let him go so he could get changed.

Shaw sat down on the bed and Malcolm’s heart jumped in his chest. Was he really going to stay there? He didn’t want to tell him to leave, afraid he might come off as rude or scared and it wasn’t like Shaw hadn’t seen him in his underwear anyway. He pulled out a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, trying to act as casual as he could. “So,” Shaw said, “going out with friends.”

“Yeah, just for drinks mostly.” He swallowed as he started undressing. “Um, do you maybe want to come with me or something? I mean, it’s been awhile.”

Shaw looked relieved he was being invited “Yeah, I’d love to come. I’ve really missed hanging out with you” He emphasized the word really and it had Malcolm’s heart stuttering in his chest. “well they are ready for us when I’m ready” Malcolm stuttered a bit which embarrassed him but it was worth the warm smile Shaw had on his face. He knew it was horrible to be happy his marriage had ended but it was now completely hitting Malcolm just how much he had missed Shaw. As nervous as all this was making him he couldn’t help but be happy it was finally going to be like old times. Shaw had truly been his best friend.

Malcolm dressed as quickly as he could and let his friends know he was on the way. He also made sure to add Shaw was coming. Once they were on the road Shaw asked “do I know these friends?”

“You only know Rowan, you know how much staff turns over in restaurants. Especially with my boss. He’ll fire someone over the smallest things”

“Is he doing alright?”

“yeah, he’s got a kid now. Things are touch and go with the mom but he adores that little boy”

“Must be a baby since its only been two years”

“Yeah, his son is only a few months old.”

“Is he actually helping her out with him?”

“Yeah, he’s watched him a few times already for her and he’s paying for diapers. He’s having some sent to her house every month”

“That’s good, what should I know about the people I don’t know?”

“Hannah is sweet normally but her inner tiger comes out, as she calls it when she drinks. It can be amusing but she’s gotten into some tense situations at bars. I like her a lot. She’s worked at the restaurant for about as long as Rowan has had a kid…Lawrence is coming too. He’s a year older than me. He has a channel on youtube that’s actually pretty amazing. He plays nothing but horror games. I try to stay caught up with it.”

“You’ll have to send me the channel name and I’ll check it out.”

“When did you get into YouTube and video games?”

“My manager likes to put my concerts up so I sometimes do live Q and A’s for the fans and as far as video games, I’ve been asked to record some songs for a soundtrack so I’ve been playing more to get an idea of what might work.”

“I’m surprised.”

“I used to watch you play sometimes.”

“You used to sit there with your headphones on and write music.”

“Okay, true.”

“But I did appreciate you spending time with me, even if it wasn’t your thing.”

Shaw shrugged. “You never missed a concert and you even wrote some beautiful pieces for me, well until what happened, it was the least I could do.”

“Sorry.”

“Tell you what, if you want to make it up to me, you can come spend time at my place and help me write the music for the soundtrack.”

“Really?”

“Your opinion has always mattered the most and your music always resonates with the audience and me. I missed our time together.”

“That sounds really nice, I hope you enjoy my friends tonight. They are really good people. I don’t go out with them as often as I probably should so I was kind of planning to make this a late night”

“Could I sleep on your couch then so I don’t have to drive all the way home after? I mean, hopefully things really can just go back to normal”

“we used to crash at eachothers places so much…yeah, you’re welcome to.” They easily kept conversation flowing between them until they pulled up to Bargarten “I’ve heard this place is nice. Kind of like a classy bar”

“yeah, I really like a lot of the food” He texted the group to let him know he was parked so was greeted by Rowan when they walked in the door “I volunteered to show you guys where we are sitting.” He smiled at Shaw “it’s been a long time”

“I plan to hang around Malcolm as much as I used to so you’ll probably see a lot more of me”

“cool”

“I’m surprised you have a kid.” Shaw said.

“Honestly, I was too. I mean can you imagine someone like me having a baby? I couldn’t until he was born and now I can’t imagine life without him.” He slapped Shaw on the back. “What about you?”

“I didn’t get the chance, things didn’t work out, I’m divorced.”

“I’m sorry man.” He said as they sat down.

Shaw shrugged. “It’s alright, really.”

Malcolm sat down next to him and gestured to his other friends. “Shaw this is Hannah and Lawrence.”

“It’s very nice to meet both of you. Hopefully you haven’t heard anything too terrible about me.” He replied with a smile that had Malcolm’s heart skipping in his chest.

“Not at all, Malcolm’s description was spot on though, you’re definitely pretty.” Hannah said.

“I didn’t say pretty.” Malcolm said with a blush.

“You did and he’s more than pretty, he’s gorgeous.”

Shaw chuckled. “Well thank you very much, it’s very high praise coming from Malcolm.”

 

Chapter Two

Shaw fit right in but that wasn’t surprising, he fit in with everyone. They talked, laughed, shared food and ordered drinks late into the evening, only leaving when Bargarten was closing. “do we need to call an Uber?” Malcom asked since he had consumed a few drinks. He wasn’t drunk but he never risked it. “No, I didn’t have anything alcoholic. Just give me your keys” Malcolm handed them over and allowed Shaw to take him home. Once they arrived and entered the house Shaw asked “you aren’t ready for bed yet are you?”

“I can stay up a little longer” Shaw smiled “good, lets watch something on Netflix. I hear The Haunting of Hill House is good”

“You know I’ve actually seen episode one and it does seem like it’s going to be good, lets do it. I’ll watch as many as I can. Let me get out all your bedding first though. I don’t want to drag myself off to bed and forget because I’m so tired.” Malcolm went to his bed and grabbed a pillow then took a blanket out of his linen closet. By the time he came back and set them on the couch Shaw had turned on Netflix, pulled up the show and gotten them drinks from the kitchen.

“I hope you’ll be comfortable out here.” Malcolm said as he handed Shaw the blanket and pillow.

“I’m sure I will, but if you’re that concerned we could always cuddle.” He teased.

Malcolm blushed and Shaw started laughing. “You’re such a jerk.”

“But you love me anyway.”

Malcolm gave a little laugh. “Yeah.” He cleared his throat and looked away from Shaw. He grabbed the controller and clicked on the second episode.

“I wasn’t trying to make you uncomfortable or make it seem like your feelings were a joke.”

“I know, sorry.” He smiled. “It’s true though, you could be the biggest jerk in the universe and I’d probably still tell you I love you while beating you up.”

Shaw chuckled and nudged him. “I don’t think you could.”

“I’m pretty tough.”

“Sure.”

They focused their attention on the show, talking every now and then about certain scenes. Malcolm found himself glancing at Shaw, still amazed he was actually there. He didn’t think he’d ever see him again and his feelings had only grown for him. He let out a yawn just before the next episode was about to start and Shaw suggested they go to bed. “We don’t have to.”

“That brilliant brain of yours needs rest if you’re going to be helping me write music.” Shaw replied as he poked him in the forehead.

“alright then…you’re welcome to anything in the kitchen if you get hungry or thirsty” Malcolm went to his room and Shaw sighed, settling himself on the couch. His mind played the memories of their day together as Shaw tried to sleep. He couldn’t help but think how amazing these past few hours had been and almost hated the fact he had let this man slip through his fingers for so long. The next thing Shaw knew it was morning. The sun was up and Malcolm was obviously cooking in the kitchen. Shaw groaned a little as he sat up so Malcolm wasn’t startled when Shaw entered the kitchen asking ‘what’re you making?”

“just pancakes and scrambled eggs”

“do you have to work again today?”

“No, that’s why I went out last night.”

“So, does that mean you’re free?”

Malcolm’s heart fluttered. “Yeah.”

Shaw rested his chin in his hand. “I see, then you can come over, right?”

“If you want me to.”

“I do, we can get started on that soundtrack.”

“Oh I see, you just want my music.” Malcolm teased.

Shaw chuckled, the sound sending a thrill through Malcolm. “Now you know that’s not true, we can do something else if you like.” At this point, the soundtrack was simply an excuse. He could finish it on his own, but he wanted the time with Malcolm. “Please? I’ll pout if I have too.”

“I know you will, I’ve seen it.”

“Is that a definite yes then?”

“Yes, if I must.”

“You really must, I’ll even treat you to whatever you want. All you have to do is name it.”

“hmm, I’ll have to think about what I want” Shaw sat down happily waiting for Malcolm to finish making them breakfast. They soon ate and were on their way to Shaws. Malcolm was curious the entire ride as to where his old friend would be living now. Divorce was tricky, Shaw had owned his own home before her but that didn’t mean she hadn’t gotten the house in the separation. When they did infact pull up into a new home Malcolm asked “did she get the house?”

“Yeah, I’m still making good money and I didn’t want any of the memories. We fought a lot, it kind of ruined the vibe of the house for me. Plus, she had just been renting before me and would have struggled getting into something else”

“thats sweet you gave it to her”

“I may not even like her anymore but I don’t hate her. I wasn’t about to keep it just out of spite since I didn’t want it anymore” As they got out Malcolm asked “how did seperating stuff go?”

“very different tastes so that was easy too. Honestly, I couldn’t have dreamed of an easier split. She was just as done with me as I was of her” Shawn really didn’t want to talk about his ex wife but he wanted to be an open book with Malcolm. If he said he didn’t want to talk about her Malcolm might think he wasn’t over her.

“I’m sorry, Shaw, really. I know how you felt about her.”

“I did love her, but she accused me of things I didn’t do, I couldn’t even talk to or hang out with any of my male friends.”

“Do you wish it had worked out?”

The truth was, he had thought about it at the time, but now, with Malcolm here, it was different. “No, it was for the best, for both of us.”

“Well, if you ever need to vent, I’m here.”

“I know, but I’m good, I promise.”

Malcolm turned in a circle. “I really like your new place.”

“You haven’t seen the most amazing part.” He took Malcolm’s hand, grinning when he saw him start to blush. “You’ll love it.” He pulled Malcolm through the house to the basement door.

“Oh I see, you turned into a serial killer while I was gone.”

Shaw laughed. “And I eccentrically kill my victims with music.”

“So poetic.”

“Come on.” The light came on the moment they passed through the door way and Malcolm smiled when he saw the room had been converted into a recording studio and entertainment room.

“This is actually perfect for us hanging out” Shaw chuckled and admitted “I sort of had you in mind when I did it Malcolm. Pretty much right when we set things in motion to divorce I planned to seek you out again.” Malcolm was even redder than before which made Shaws heart dance. He was so glad to be showing Malcolm this. He hadn’t known if the relationship had been mendable. People change, he could have moved on and decided they could never be friends but here Malcolm was, hanging out in the basement he designed so they could hangout and both do things they loved.

“should we game first or start composing?”

“lets game a bit so I can think”

“alright, your pick.” Malcolm easily picked a game and allowed Shaw to get it set up so they could play. Hours had flown by before they even noticed and Malcolm suggested “okay, fill me in on this game. We should really start working on it”

“alright, I’ll order chinese so we can just concentrate on work. Do you still like the same thing?”

“Yep” It took about another hour to get fully set up but once they got going the only thing that stopped them at all was when they decided to eat the food they ordered. Even that was a brief distraction. Leftovers were dinner, they were far too into their work to do anything else. Malcolm looked at the time on his cellphone when they finally finished their first song for the game “Holy crap, that has to be wrong” Shaw chuckled “Time has always flown when we are together”

“Yeah, I really like this song too”

“I’m sure they will all be this good. Hopefully the developer agrees with us though”

 

Final Chapter

“I’m sure they will, I mean it’s you presenting it.”

“Us, you have to come with me.”

“I…”

“You have to because you’re part of it. I can hear you in it.”

Malcolm nodded. “Alright.” He yawned. “I should probably get home.”

Shaw reached over and grabbed his hand. “Stay.”

Malcolm’s heart danced. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I have plenty of room and you know I don’t mind. My home is your home. I want you to stay. Please?”

“Alright.” Of course he wanted to stay, how could he not. “Could I borrow some clothes?”

“Of course.”

Shaw made sure everything was off before they leaved the basement then took Malcolm up to his room and pulled his closet open. “Holy crap, Shaw, you’re closet’s the same size as my room.”

Shaw chuckled. “It’s not that big. It gets even better though.” He walked to the other side of the closet and slid open another door. “The bathroom.”

“Can I just live here, I don’t take up that much space, I promise.”

“You can do whatever you want, Malcolm. I meant it when I said this is your home too.”

“Shaw.”

“I mean it, you’re the number one in my life again and this time, that wont change” Malcolm blushed and wanted to bring up the possibility of him falling in love again but couldn’t do it, even in a teasing way. Instead Malcolm picked out something to sleep in then stepped into the bathroom to change. “there, now let me show you to a room you can use. It can just be yours so feel free to bring some stuff over for when you stay the night”

“alright, thank you” Shaw gave him a long hug “thank you for letting me just step back into your life so easily. I know you felt bad for how you confessed but still. I’m glad we can just be us again” Shaw didn’t want to but he left Malcolm for the night, heading to his own room. Malcolm walked over to the bed, pulling back the covers and settling in.

Shaw was the first up the next morning and he made his way quietly downstairs to start some coffee before heading back up to the room he had given Malcolm. He pushed the door openly slowly, grinning when he saw him sprawled out, his blankets halfway off the bed and his shirt pushed up from his flopping. He had always been a restless sleeper. He crossed over to the bed and dropped down next to him, allowing himself to admire him for a moment and wonder how he had never noticed his friend’s feelings for him. He let out a little sigh as he reached up and gently shook him. “Malcolm, wake up.”

Malcolm groaned and grabbed his pillow as he turned on his side. “It’s too early.” He mumbled and buried his face in his pillow.

Shaw chuckled as he leaned down, bringing his lips close to Malcolm’s ear. “If you don’t get up, that means I’ll have to make you.” He whispered. He didn’t know if Malcolm had heard the suggestion in his voice or if he thought he was simply teasing, but it had him sitting up, his face bright red. “Good morning.”

“You’re so mean.” He said in a tired tone.

Shaw tipped his head to the side. “I asked nicely.” He reached up and brushed some hair away from Malcolm’s forehead. “Has anyone ever told you you look adorably unkempt when you wake up?”

“I don’t.” Sleepy eyes looked Shaw over. “Why do you look so perfect?”

“Magic and ponytail holders.”

“What time is it?”

“Ten.”

“I guess it isn’t that early”

“we had a late night and you’ve never had more than two days off in a row so I wanted to get you up while i had you”

“yeah, I have to work tomorrow. Should we work on another song today?”

“maybe after lunch, lets start our day with something else. We could play another video or go to Gamestop and buying something new to play”

“a lot of the tales games you play together. I didn’t see any in your collection. Do you have one?”

“Nope, so it looks like we’re going to game stop. I’ve already got coffee going. I’ll go down and start omelettes while you get changed. Just go back to my room and change in there” Malcolm rubbed his eyes “Okay” Shaw left Malcolm and went to make breakfast like he said he would. It felt like it took forever for Malcolm to get into the kitchen but Shaw knew it couldn’t have been that long. He was still cooking the second omelette.

“I don’t think your clothes are quite my style and they’re so nice.” Malcolm said and Shaw turned just enough to look at him. He was wearing one of his favorite sweaters, a dark red, knit turtleneck that somehow managed to still fit loosely on him.

“I think it looks good one you.” He reached over and grabbed his phone. “Strike a pose.”

“Shaw, come on.”

“Do it or I’ll take it anyway.”

Malcolm rolled his eyes and posed. “You look like a real tough guy.”

“Let me see.” Shaw held out his phone and Malcolm took it while he turned to finish the second omelette. “I look like a kid who stole his dad’s sweater.” He looked down at himself. “Why is is so big?”

Shaw shrugged. “It was the last one they had and I wanted it.” He transferred the omelette over. “Want to get the coffee?”

“Sure, but can I delete this?”

“No way.”

“Come on, I look like such a dork.”

“I happen to think you look absolutely adorable so let me keep it.”

Malcolm blushed, his heart giving a little stutter. “Well, I mean if you really want it.” He sat Shaw’s phone down on the counter and found the coffee cups, filling two of them.

“I happen to like how cute you are.” Shaw said as he reached around him to the silverware drawer, the closeness causing his entire body to warm.

“You do?” He couldn’t look at him, he was too embarrassed.

“Mmhmm.”

They were soon sitting at the table together, Shaw still occasionally admiring how cute Malcolm looked in his sweater. He realized over that meal that he had really always found his friend attractive but had never allowed those thoughts to flourish since they had such an amazing friendship. Few people could actually remain good friends if they tried something more and it didn’t work and he guessed the friendship had always just meant too much to him. Now that Malcolm had confessed his feelings and he was single there was no denying the chemistry,

He just didn’t want to spring it on him just yet. They had only just started talking again and he didn’t want Malcolm to feel like a rebound. For now he decided he’d wait until he had been divorced a year before outright telling Malcolm he felt the same way. For now, he’d just enjoy having him back in his life because that was all he truly needed.

~ The End

Gaspare & Iom 2

Chapter One

“Are you sure you have to go alone?” Gaspare asked as Iom shouldered his pack.

“This time yes.” He took Gaspare’s hands, pulling him close. “I’ll be back before you know it and I’ll make it up to you.” He leaned in, grinning as he kissed him, satisfied when Gaspare blushed.

“Just be careful.”

“But then it wouldn’t be any fun.”

“Iom.”

“Don’t worry so much, I’ve been there before. Two days there, two back, then you can do whatever you want to me.”

Gaspare’s face turned a deeper shade of red. “Stop.”

“I love you and I’ll be back soon.”

“I love you too.”

Iom left, heading away down the road. He usually brought Gaspare with him, but there was something special he wanted to get for him this time around. It was as he was as he was sleeping his first night out that he felt something cold pressing against his throat and he woke, blinking and bringing into focus the men standing over him. “Well he’s a pretty one.” The one who he was sure was the leader said.

“How much do you think that monster will pay for him?” Another asked.

“Wait.” Iom finally found his voice. “I don’t want any trouble.”

The leader kicked him in the stomach and Iom gripped his stomach as the air left his lungs. The man crouched down, gripping his hair and pulling him up so their faces were close together. “Oh it’s no trouble at all.”

Gaspare paced in the living room, worry eating at him. Iom hadn’t returned when he said he would and he knew something had to be wrong. “Gaspare?” Daray’s voice brought him up short. “Are you okay?”

“No,” he sighed, taking a seat, “it’s probably nothing and I’m probably being stupid, but Iom hasn’t come back yet. He was supposed to be back two days ago, but…”

“That doesn’t sound like Iom, he’s adventurous, but he wouldn’t make you needlessly worry.” He turned to Alvah.

“We’ll find him.” Alvah said.

Gaspare felt at least a little better knowing his Uncle would search for his mate, especially since he was doing it for Daray. Alvah had shown in multiple ways since they had been together there wasn’t anything he wasn’t willing to do or go through for him. Gaspare didn’t think anything said it more clearly than the day Alvah rushed into the sunlight knowing full well the horrendous effects it had on him because he felt Daray was in danger. No matter what it took to get Iom back he knew Alvah would help him do it.

They took only things to cook with and a single change of clothes for each of them before rushing out. They didn’t want too many things weighing them down. Gaspare took the lead since he knew the most about where Iom had been heading on his journey. Daray gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze “we’ll find him, even if he got into trouble he’s resourceful and strong”

Gaspare, trying not to get too much into his own head decided to push the conversation to Daray’s new abilities “you’re doing so well at controlling your new strength as a vampire. It takes most much longer to be so good at it”

“Alvah has been a very patient and persistent teacher but in good ways. I’m really happy with my progress too”

Iom fiddled with the collar around his neck, his fingers sliding over it, looking for any kind of line. He had been messing with it since it had been forcefully put around his neck and all he knew is it was covered in symbols and had a loop in the back for a chain. “You know, if you keep fighting, it’ll only be worse.” It was another one of the monster’s servants, a man about his age named Adan. His brown eyes were fearful, ashamed, his voice a whisper.

“I don’t care, I refuse to be his plaything. I have to get home.”

“You can’t leave, not with the collar and hounds. He’ll…he’ll punish you.”

The worst Iom had received so far was a beating, but that had been from the men who had captured him when he had tried to escape. He had managed to severely injure one of them. The monster though had only made threats and promises that Iom knew would be kept. He had seen it on the faces of the others here. When they served their master dinner, when they were forced to feed and bathe him, and when they would come back from his room. Iom shook his head, he didn’t care how much pain he was put through, he wouldn’t be that creatures toy and he wouldn’t die. “I’m getting out of here and I’ll bring help.”

Adan shook his head. “It’s no use, it’s easier if you just…”

“Don’t worry, I’ll get us out, I promise.” He turned to Adan. “I might need your help.”

“I can’t, if he found out…”

“He won’t and if anything happens I’ll tell him I forced you, so just listen to my plan.”

Adan looked like he might cry or completely shut down on him. By the looks of the poor man he had been here a long time, being abused and fearing for his life. Eventually a look of resolve came across his face “okay” His voice didn’t have the resolve his face did but Iom was glad he could get him to help. “you wont regret helping, I have an in with two pretty incredible vampires. My best friend also became one, not too long ago but he’s getting really good. Maybe we can even get Mabel to help. I don’t know what she is but she’s a woman you don’t want to cross”

“why don’t you know what she is?”

“I don’t pressure her. I think she’s embarrassed of what she is”

“Oh”

“I can tell you all about everyone I know once we’re out. I just want you to be confident in knowing that all we have to do is get to them and this monster will never have us or any of the others again. He’ll be lucky if he’s still breathing when they are done with him”

“Do you smell that?” Gaspare asked as he came to a sudden stop in the middle of the road.

“It’s Iom.” Alvah said.

“I can smell it too.” Daray added. “His soap.”

Gaspare turned towards the woods, spotting a smaller trail leading into its interior. “He went this way.” He headed off and they followed. “Why would the scent be so strong?” The thought worried him. Was he out here wounded? It was shocking finding his pack with everything turned out of it and scattered about. He bent down, picking up the book he had gifted to Gaspare. “He was here.”

“So were others.” Alvah said. “Men, four of them.”

“They took him, they had to have taken him. They can’t have…you don’t think they would…”

Alvah grabbed him by his shoulders and gently shook him. “Stop and smell the air, Gaspare, their scent heads further down the trail and there is no smell of blood or death.”

Gaspare swallow as he hugged the book to his chest. “I know, I’m sorry, I’m panicking. I just can’t lose him.”

“You won’t.” Daray said. “Iom has been to many dangerous places, he won’t let himself be killed, he’s too stubborn.”

Iom could tell that his plan terrified Adan, but it was the the best he had come up with. He knew the monster had to have some sort of key or spell for the collars. “I need you to find it for me, Adan. It must be in his room.”

“But what if he catches me going through his things? He’ll hurt me…he’ll call his friends in to hurt me.”

“I’m going to distract him. He’s had his eye on me since I’ve been here. I can keep him focused on me long enough for you to look through his things and he won’t think twice about your scent being in there so don’t worry about that. I’ll meet you in my room, get this thing off of me, and then go get help.”

“The hounds.”

“I’m a good runner, trust me. I’ll get away and I’ll come back, I swear. I won’t leave you all here. I need you to trust me.”

Adan nodded, he had already decided he was going to take this chance at freedom no matter the risk. This was such a miserable life and he knew if he let fear make him back down he’d never be able to forgive himself. Not only would he still have to deal with everything he was put through here but he’d have to feel like it was his fault for not even trying when a good chance presented himself. Iom was so confident this would work and his vampire friends would help. It was hard not to trust a man this sure of himself.

They both set the plan in motion, Adan going to their captors room and Iom actually seeking out their captor to flirt with him just enough to keep him busy awhile. If this didn’t work Iom knew this would come back to haunt him but he had faith in Adan. After however long he had been here he knew just the desperation of wanting freedom would drive him to find what they needed.

“We can’t just stop.” Gaspare argued. “He could be hurt, or…we have to keep going.”

“Just long enough to eat.” Alvah replied.

“We can’t, we have to find him.”

“Gaspare.” Daray gently interjected. “Let’s eat, okay? We haven’t had anything since we left, we’ve just been going. So let’s at least eat, then we’ll get going again. Besides, it’s night, a little break won’t hurt.”

“But…”

“Just for a bit.”

Gaspare swallowed down the lump of fear in his throat and nodded. He wasn’t hungry, but he ate what Daray made anyway. All he could think about was what Iom might be going through. Once they were finished and everything was cleaned up, they headed out again. The night was quiet as they followed Iom’s scent and that of the men who had taken him. It was the scent of blood that brought them up short a little while later and they were relieved to find it didn’t belong to Iom, but one of the men. “He must have hurt one of them.” Gaspare said.

“Pretty severely too.” Alvah added. “He must have bid his time, not revealing what he was until he attacked one of the men.”

“See? He’s alright.” Daray said as he squeezed Gaspare’s shoulder.

Iom had not slept, even though he knew he should have. Even Adan had stayed up with him, listening to him going over the plan a couple more times as if trying to hold onto his resolve. They had gone their separate ways before everyone woke and were both ready to do what they had to. The monster was outside behind the house waiting for his breakfast and Iom had volunteered to take it to him. It was still surprising how normal the creature looked and how charming he came off when he spoke, but everyone knew this was just a mask, that his human form was merely there to deceive. He could feel the creatures eyes on him as he stepped outside and he raised his own, making eye contact for a few heartbeats before looking away. The creature was more than interested in him, he could smell it.

 

Chapter Two

“I see you’re already getting used to being here. Bringing me my food, how sweet” Iom set his food in front of him and the creature took the opportunity to grab his hand “won’t you sit with me” Iom was proud of himself for not instantly jerking away. He even managed to keep the disgust off his face “sure” sure might not have been the best line but their captor might catch on that something was up if he appeared too comfortable anyway. The man smiled and kissed his hand which made Iom want to punch him. It was obvious this thing was used to being able to do whatever he wanted regardless of others feelings.

Iom sat as soon as he let him go “are you acquainted with my name yet?”

“No”

“Hm, It is Baikuntha” Iom nodded and Baikuntha began eating. Iom said “I guess I figured I may aswell get used to being here” Baikuntha swallowed “You will like me eventually”

“Oh?”

“I’m an amazing lover” Iom almost couldn’t stop himself from rolling his eyes.

Iom crossed his arms and legs. “You’re not the first to say something like that.”

“I am sure, but I mean it.” Iom huffed and looked away to which Baikuntha responded to by reaching over and grabbing Iom’s chin and turning his face back. Iom could feel his strength, but he wasn’t intimidated, he was irritated at being grabbed again. “I could show you.” He let his fingers slid down and hook into the collar around Iom’s neck, pulling him closer. “I’ve never had someone as beautiful as you.”

“I’m sure.” He forced an amused smile onto his face. “I don’t see a difference between me and the others you have here.”

“Then I want you in my room tonight, after all, I could have taken you the moment you arrived here.” He let Iom go, allowing him to lean back.

“And what happens if I refuse?”

Baikuntha chuckled as he took a bite of his food. “Now why would you do that? I want to see you tonight.” Iom could guess what would happen if he said no. He had a feeling this creature would lose his temper and if he wanted to escape then he couldn’t afford getting the crap beat out of him. He simply nodded and Baikuntha smiled. “Good.”

Iom wondered if Adan had found what they needed. He certainly hoped he was at least in the room searching. Iom knew Adan might need a lot of time so he needed to keep Baikuntha talking. He didn’t want to keep talking about sex, the more they talked about it the more chance he ran of giving away how repulsed he was by the idea but it was somewhere to start while he thought of something else “What sort of things are you into in bed, anything I should be worried about” Baikuntha grinned “It depends”

“depends?”

“On you, stay on my good side and it’ll be nice” He internally groaned thinking about what an asshole this man was. He couldn’t wait for Gaspare and Alvah to hand him his ass and free all these poor men being sexually abused and kept under threat of worse happening to them. Adan had even spoke of Baikuntha’s friends abusing them if they misbehaved too much and he could only imagine. Some beings could come up with some ridiculously twisted things to do to others.

“Define, being good. I mean, one man’s bad is another man’s good.”

“I think you know. You come to me when you’re called, you don’t disobey, and you don’t fight.” He shrugged. “It’s simple really. If you listen, you’ll be treated well.”

“I see.”

“You’ll be happy here as long as you follow the rules.” He smiled. “What about you? What things do you like?”

Iom shrugged. “This and that.” He didn’t really want to use the things he and Gaspare did together. “If I’m being honest, I haven’t done much.”

“We’ll have to change that then.”

“Perhaps I prefer vanilla.”

“No one prefers something so boring and lazy.” He pushed his plate away and turned more to face Iom, letting his hand rest on his knee. “There are so many exciting and new things to experience, things you couldn’t even begin to imagine. I can show you.”

Iom was hopeful this man wouldn’t have the chance to try and show him. His touch right now sent a terrible feeling through Iom. He wished there was some way to know what Adan was doing. He wanted nothing more than to get away from Baikuntha and quickly. Just in case Adan still needed time he decided to put his hand on Baikuntha’s, praying it wouldn’t push things too far forward. All he wanted was to keep his attention. Many things about Baikuntha told Iom he was growing more excited so he decided he shouldn’t touch him again once he managed to smoothly take his hand back.

Baikuntha laced their fingers but once Iom turned the conversation into something more normal he pulled away, happy Baikuntha didn’t protest. “I have things I wish to do before I see you tonight Iom. I am eager so don’t think about changing your mind.”

“I am too curious now” Baikuntha smiled, what a freaking sucker,or he was just that cocky., so used to having his way at this point.

“Someone tried to cover their tracks here.” Alvah said as he walked around the area they had come to a stop in. Iom’s scent had become weaker and it had taken him a moment to realize someone had tried to cover it up.

“With what?” Gaspare asked.

“Animal scent. Perhaps there was something they didn’t want anyone to find.”

“So which way do we go?”

“I’m not sure, give me a moment.”

“Uncle.”

“I know, trust me, I know, but if you want to find him, you must stay calm.” He squeezed Gaspare’s shoulder. “How about we branch out and see if we can pick his scent up again.

“Okay.” Alvah knew what Gaspare was going through. After nearly losing Daray, he understood that fear and desperation, but he also knew if they panicked, they might not find Iom.

Iom worked around the house, slowly making his way to the room he had been given. He could hear Adan’s quick heartbeat even before he entered and he quickly closed the door and turned to him. He looked terrified. “Are you alright, Adan?” He asked gently.

“I…I was nearly caught by one of the others, but I don’t think he saw me take anything.” He swallowed. “I…I found these.” He pulled a small book and small metal rod out of the waist of his pants. The rod was made of the same metal as the collars. “I think this is a key and the way to use it is in here.” He handed them over. “When are you leaving?”

“Tonight, as soon as everyone is sleeping. He asked me to come to his room.”

Adan’s eyes filled with concern “then you better hope you make it out…if you stand him up…he” He didn’t want Adan pulling up too many painful memories for himself so Iom said as comfortingly as he could “Hey, I’m going to make it and I’m going to bring my mate and his Uncle. Don’t worry about me. Even if I am punished, I can handle it. Just worry about you okay. Go ahead and leave my room before others start talking. I don’t want him running in here jealous because he thinks I’m flirting with everyone” Adan stood “if you end up needing help just come find me”

“Thank you Adan, I’m sure you’ve done plenty for me. Thank you for trusting my plan. If he finds this, as part of my gratitude I will not tell him who helped me, no matter what he does.” Adan shook his head “No, if he guesses you had help don’t do that…I’ll just face the music for what I’ve done.” Adan left and Iom got to reading, skimming more than anything to hurry things along.

The sun was nearly all the way down by the time Iom came across what he was looking for and his heart actually jumped in excitement as his eyes moved over the text. He wouldn’t leave his room until everyone was down. It would be better that way so none of them were hurt if worst came to worst. He read over the words again then took the rod and pressed it to the collar. There was a code phrase for each collar that he had written down and Iom said his as softly as he could. He heard the collar click and he pulled it from around his neck, looking it over for a moment before closing it and watching the seam seal completely. He hid the key and book under his mattress then went over to his door and cracked it open a little. He could hear people moving around as they got ready for bed so he stood there, listening to every creaking floorboard, breath, and heartbeat.

He knew he only had this one chance, that he would have to be sprinting the moment his feet touched outside the house. Baikuntha had three hounds as far as he knew. He took a deep breath and was relieved when the house finally fell silent. He stepped out, gently closing the door and listening. He wondered how long the monster would wait before coming to investigate. He move as quietly as possible, keeping his breathing soft as he made his way past each room.

 

Final Chapter

It was incredibly tempting to run but Iom continued to remind himself that being quite was key to getting out. Even when the door came into view he knew he wasn’t free, not yet. He had only made it through the beginning stages of getting out of this horrible place. He pushed the front door open, hating it made noise. He begged with the universe that Baikuntha hadn’t heard. If he did hopefully he continued not to suspect anything. As far as Baikuntha knew everyone was still wearing their collars which meant they could only get so far if they went outside.

Iom didn’t take the time to shut the door again. That would only add to the risk he’d be heard. He simply ran while he finally could, darting through the grass as fast as his legs would carry him. The very second he registered something slamming into his forehead he was out, not realizing what happened until he woke in what he assumed was Baikunthas bedroom “Iom, really?” It was Baikunthas voice. It was still as calm as ever but he could hear the fury underneath that tone. “what gave me away?”

“You really think you have any privacy as my new toy? You really think I’m an idiot, that I own all these men and have so many others out there collecting for me by chance?”

“you’re powerful, I can feel it coming off you. Some think they can be all brawn and no brain” Baikuntha was leaning over Iom who was chained at the wrists to his bedposts… He grinned a few moments though still, there was nothing amused about him now. “I was so looking forward to you Iom but you’ve left me with no choice but to kill you”

“You wont make me feel like anything is my fault”

“Oh? Really?” Baikuntha walked away, coming back with a severely beaten, barely even alive looking Adan. Baikuntha sucked air through his teeth “see, this is definitely your fault. I had completely broken this one. He’d do anything I asked, would endure anything at this point without a complaint and would even go out of his way to make sure I was happy…that is…until you. See, Adan is why you have to die. The fact you swayed him to do something against me tells me how dangerous you are to keep. Now Adan, Adan I’ll keep alive and he’s going to pay in so much worse ways for stealing from me than just the beating I gave him and I want you to die knowing that Iom. That you made this mans life a million times worse”

Some of the menace was seeping out, distorting that calm voice he always tried to keep. He could tell that this did infact hurt Iom and the triumph he felt was enough to make that facade falter just a bit. “why the fuck are you this way!? Its not like you’re even fucking ugly, you could have a real mate”

“I didn’t start this because I was lonely, I started this because I wanted to, because I can”

“How long has he been like that? Why did you wait so long if you knew what we were doing?”

“Why do I do this all? It can all be answered the same way, for my entertainment. It was amusing to see you think you could actually get away. To see if Adan could really go through with it, to see just how clever you would be with your break out. Even now, you aren’t dead yet because my fun would be much too short without this delicious dialogue. I’m also hoping this mate of yours finds us before I finish tonight so I can kill him in front of you” Iom laughed “You’re strong but Alvah and Gaspare could destroy you any day”

“I would love to see them try, I really, really would.”

Iom glared at him, angered that he had toyed with him and with Adan, that he had hurt Adan even though it hadn’t been his fault, and angry at himself for not thinking Baikuntha could be playing them. “Adan, I’m sorry, truly sorry for everything.” He said, his eyes never leaving the monster’s.

Adan laid curled up on the floor, his hands covering his head, his body shaking in fear, but Iom could hear him whispering, “It’s okay.” Over and over again.

“Hush now, Adan, once he’s gone, we can start your training over.”

Gaspare, Alvah, and Daray raced through the darkened woods, their noses locked on Iom’s scent. Gaspare had hated how long it had taken to pick it up again, but at least they were back on the trail and they had decided to follow it rather than rest. They were all worried about Iom and knew another delay could mean something bad might happen.

Iom thrashed and kicked, trying to use his legs to push away from the monster, but the creature kept him pinned in place by his throat, pushing down when he fought to hard. Baikuntha’s sharp nails dug into his skin, leaving rows of red, bleeding wounds. He felt one dig even deeper into his stomach and Baikuntha leaned closer. “What if I spilled your guts right now, Iom?”

Iom spit in his face. “Fuck…you.” He choked out. He knew the beast was getting off on his pain and if he could ruin it for him, he would.

Baikuntha growled at him, his eyes shifting to a bright yellow, the eyes of the monster. He started to slide the nail up and Iom’s cry of pain came out strangled. Baikuntha suddenly jerked back with a pain filled roar and it took Iom a moment to realize Adan had managed to get up and retrieve the decorative letter opener on Baikuntha’s desk. The monster spun, backhanding Adan so he flew back into the bedroom door, unconscious. Baikuntha twisted, trying to pull the letter opener out of his back.

Iom thought fast, he couldn’t break these chains but they were directly attached to the bed. He was vampire and it was just wood, strong wood but he knew if he tried hard enough he could break the bed and hopefully quickly while Baikuntha was distracted. Adan obviously couldn’t take much more abuse and that last stunt might make Baikuntha change his mind about killing him off. He wanted Adan to live for the freedom he would have as soon as they were found. He didn’t deserve to die in this place, he couldn’t let him die some monsters toy. you can do this, you have to Iom said in his head as he grabbed on to the piece of bed one of his chains was connected to and destroyed it “fuck yes” He actually said out loud.

Baikuntha growled again, lunging at him but one arm free was all Iom had needed. Iom hit him as hard as he could then used all the strength in his legs to make him stumble backward. The combination gave him enough time to break the other part of the bed. He was still attached but much more mobile and he’d use the pieces of wood instead of treating them as a hindrance.

Iom swung at him, furious, desperate swipes to keep Baikuntha at bay. He dared not turn to try and open the door so all he could do was fight him off. He wasn’t expecting the tail that came darting out from behind Baikuntha and barely manged to stumble to the side. The sharp tip scraped his side then punctured a large hole in the door. “I’m going to tear you apart mind and body.” Baikuntha growled. “By the time I’m done with you, you will be begging me to take you in.”

It was the sound of combat that grabbed their attention. The silence of the woods helped them pinpoint where it was coming from. Gaspare’s stomach dropped when he realized it was in the same direction as Iom’s scent. When they burst from the woods, they were immediately met by growling, snapping hounds, drool dripping from their mouths as they attacked the intruders. “Get to Iom.” Alvah ordered. “We’ll take care of the dogs.”

Gaspare didn’t protest, only wanting his mate back. The moment he entered the house he could smell fear, could hear the sounds of people whimpering, of their racing hearts. Most of all he could smell Iom and hear his voice and he ran towards it. He heard Iom scream as he reached the room at the end of the hall and ripped the door open. Iom was pinned face down on the floor, the tip of a tail driven through his shoulder, a man on top of him, Iom struggling and cursing at him. Gaspare saw red and was across the room, ripping the man off of his mate before he could even completely turn and look over his shoulder.

Iom quickly got up, ignoring his pain and going over to Adan to check on him. He was grateful to see Adan was still clinging to life. Iom briefly considered getting him out of the room but there was no telling when or if Baikunthas henchmen would stumble upon all this. They came at odd hours. There didn’t seem to be any kind of schedule. He could have even invited friends to come help him punish Adan so they couldn’t get far from Gaspare. He sat there, guarding Adan since his mate obviously had things under control.

This was the first time he had seen him in a fight that actually took a lot of effort for him but he was definitely winning. Soon Alvah and Daray were bursting in and Iom whispered to the still unconscious Adan “I told you they’d come. We’re going back to my home. I promise, we wont let anything else happen to you” It was almost embarrassing when Alvah destroyed the cuffs so easily they may as well have been made of paper but his mind was mostly taken with how much better it felt not to be attached to large pieces of wood. Gaspare hugged him and they both shed a few silent tears before Daray said “He looks bad, we brought some medical supplies but if theres any here we might need what we already have to tend to him on the way. Whatever he is he doesn’t seem to be healing very well right now”

Alvah spoke “He is a shifter, a Fossa to be exact and Daray is right Iom, do you know where in this house we can tend to him”

“He would have been the one to know but we need to stay and look. He’s like this because he helped me. That bastard punished him before bringing me in here. I wont leave until we know he’s stable enough to come with us. We also need to unlock everyone elses collars so they can go off where they need to go off” Alvah nodded “Gaspare, Daray, you two stay with Iom and this man. I will search the house. How is your collar off Iom?”

“Theres a book and metal key in my room.”

“I’ll grab that too” Gaspare just kept hugging Iom but that was more than fine with his mate. It felt so incredible to be in loving arms again. When Alvah came back he dropped off the supplies and asked Daray to start tending to Adan while he began freeing everyone else.

“I’m sorry I didn’t get here faster.” Gaspare said as he brushed his fingers through Iom’s hair.

“What are you talking about? you had perfect timing. I had him right where I wanted him.” He let out an exhausted sigh. “I can’t wait to get out of this place, to get Adan and the others out of this place.”

Gaspare hugged him a little tighter. “Did he…?”

“No, not that he wouldn’t have, but no, he didn’t.”

“Please never leave without me again or at least don’t sleep on the road.”

“Agreed.”

Alvah came back with the other men who all couldn’t believe they were actually free and some of them started crying when it set in they would be leaving. “I told them to come back with us and we would get them home.” Alvah said. “How is he?” He gestured to Adan.

“Still alive.” Daray said. “We’re going to have to go really slow with all of them, especially Adan.”

“Can you carry him?”

“Of course.”

“What about you Iom, are you okay to travel?”

“Even if I wasn’t, I would still insist we go. None of them need to stay here any longer.” He raised his head to look at the other men. “You should all grab as much as you can; food, clothes, water, even jewelry and money. That monster owes you everything, so take what you can for the trip.”

They all began to gather what they could and were soon off. If Baikuntha had called for others they made it out before they arrived. At home Alvah and Daray allowed Gaspare and Iom to go straight to their room while they took care of settling in their new guests. Gaspare and Iom were soaking their sore muscles in the tub when Iom said “I guess you can’t tease Alvah about this castle anymore. It came in handy, I’m glad we had space for everyone”

“I probably wont tease him about anything for awhile. I’m so glad he and Daray helped me get you back”

“Maybe after all these men are looked after you and I can both go where I was headed…I wanted to get you something special”

“We will definitely go, it’ll still be special even if you didn’t travel to get it alone.”

“I love you Gaspare”

“I love you too Iom” Gaspare held Iom a little tighter, his wounds were mostly healed and he was still struggling emotionally from everything. Gaspare had come much too close to loseing Iom and his only comfort was that Iom was willing not to leave his side for awhile.

~ The End

Violet & Dian

Chapter One

The gangly, curly haired youth bursting through Violet’s door nearly made her drop her book. She glared at the boy, telling him with her eyes that it was more than a bit rude to walk into a house uninvited and to do it in a way that nearly knocked pictures off the wall was even more reprehensible. The look took him by such surprise that he seemed to forget what he had been going to say and stood there frozen for a moment opening and closing his mouth like a fish on the bank of a pond.

Violet marked her place, closed her book, then took a deep breath to calm herself. “Can I help you?” She asked and he seemed to snap out of his sudden daze.

“Uh, ma’am…yes ma’am, sorry.” He collected his thoughts, wheels turning as he put words together to form a full sentence. “A dragon ma’am, there is a dragon and the mayor asked me to get you.”

She sighed, putting her book irritably down on the coffee table. “Of course he did.”

“Sorry Miss Violet, so sorry.” He bowed and then bowed again.

“Oh stop, how annoying, do I look like a princess to you?” She stood, straightening her dress. No, she thought as she moved around the coffee table to the coat closet, rather I look like someone took a witch and a librarian and mashed them together.

“No ma’am, sorry ma’am.”

She rolled her eyes. It was hopeless after all. She yanked open the door and pulled out her cloak and boots, shaking them both out before putting them on. “Come on then.” She walked past the young man and he quickly followed, head down. “Oh stop moping, I shouldn’t have snapped at the messenger.”

“Yes Miss Violet.”

“Where is this dragon then?”

“Outside of town ma’am, in that old cave ma’am.”

“How cliche.”

She walked on, ignoring the turning heads and whispered words of “Do you think the witch is gonna…” and made her way out of town and over rolling hills to the now occupied cave. She knew it was occupied because she could hear the breathing of the beast and noticed faint smears of blood here and there.

“What are you going to do ma’am? Turn him into a toad? Kill him?”

“How absolutely barbarous.” She said and picked up a large rock. When would they learn that she had as much magic as a thimble, unless the thimble had been enchanted, then that was a whole other story. She pulled back and threw the stone as hard as she could into the cave, hearing it make contact with something and then the breathing stopped. The boy cowered behind her as a roar echoed out from the cave, the ground shook dramatically and a red wedge shaped head detached itself from the darkness soon followed by a large scaled body.

“Oh shut up you annoying thing.” She snapped and the creature shut its mouth, seeming shocked. “Now go on and get.” It lowered its head and started to open its mouth when she slapped the tip of its nose. It drew back, shaking its head. “I don’t think so you very bad dragon. Go! Now! Find another place of residence and stop scaring the villagers. They come to me when things like you turn up and it can be quite nerve racking so go on, find sheep or cows elsewhere.” It opened its mouth again as if to protest and she planted her hands on her hips, glaring at it with death in her eyes. Its jaws shut and it launched itself into the sky, kicking up dust and knocking the young messenger boy over with the force of its wind. “There, now someone else can deal with him.”

The messenger looked in awe of her and she sighed. No matter how often they saw her handle things without any magic at all they still thought her a mystical being. If the others were braver they could handle these situations too. Violet walked away, happy she was successful again and not that dragons snack. Violet hoped that maybe she could finally finish this book when she arrived home. Maybe this town and the magical creatures around it could afford her the hours needed because she was incredibly into this book. Once inside her shoes were off again and she lifted her book before settling back into her chair. She was instantly taken right back in, not coming back to reality at all until she closed it.

Upon looking up she noticed it was night and smiled thinking this was the perfect time to get a walk in. The sky would be gorgeous and the villagers would all be resting. Gleefully she set her book back down and slipped back into her cloak and boots before going off into the cool night air.

It was always so peaceful at night, as if the countryside itself decided to relax. She breathed in deeply and let her breath out in a sigh. Even with all the trouble, she still loved it here. The road branched and she turned off onto the left path just as someone came tumbling out of the woods and into her. “Sorry.” He said, grabbing her to steady her. “Are you alright?”

It took her a moment to regain her equilibrium, but when she did, she looked up at him. He was tall, really tall and his eyes were a shocking shade of blue. “Uh…yeah…uh…”

His head suddenly jerked up and he looked at the woods then back down at her, his eyes searching hers for a moment. He then lifted her hand and smiled at her. “Hold onto this for me.” He let her go and took off running.

“Wait, who are you?”

“Dian,” he called back, “be sure to tell them where I went.”

“What?” She was confused and it took her a moment to realize she was holding something. She opened her palm, studying the silver medallion that rested there. It had beautiful, intricate designs carved into it inlaid with blue and gold. She had never seen anything like it before. The sound of snapping twigs pulled her back to reality and she turned to face the woods, her hand sliding into the pocket of her cloak as three more men came stumbling out of the woods.

Violet wondered what problem she had gotten herself involved in now but she wasn’t worried, even as she realized how tall these men also were. She faced down dragons, trolls and many more much more formidable creatures than simple men. “Has anybody else run by?” a man with red hair and incredibly intense green eyes asked. She didn’t skip a beat answering “No, I have been out here awhile clearing my head and haven’t seen a soul until you three.” Violet didn’t know who the unsavory party was yet but going by gut feeling she trusted the man who had given her medallion.

The man looked at her a short while, long enough for her to take in more of his face. He had light scars but they weren’t unattractive. In fact they probably served to get more women in his bed “You wouldn’t lie to me would you?”

“Why would I? I don’t know you so I’m certain I don’t know who else you’re looking for. I’d like to be left alone”

“we don’t have time to waste, if the broad says she ain’t seen him she ain’t seen him” the man to his left said. The word ain’t almost physically hurt to hear but while she wasn’t scared of them she still didn’t want to piss them off by correcting anyone. The men left her and she was glad to see they didn’t go the same way Dian had. Medallion in pocket she resumed her walk, knowing if she went home now she’d only pace anyway.

She turned back around when she reached the end of her walk, her eyes and ears open, listening for anyone approaching. When her home came into view, she was surprised to find that there was a soft orange light coming from inside. From the way it danced, she was sure it was from the fireplace. Someone was in her home. She approached as quietly as she could, moving around the back of the house and grabbing the wood ax propped against the wall there. She knew it wasn’t one of the villagers, they would have just left. She moved over to the back door, being careful not to stomp on the back porch. She gripped the door handle and pushed it slowly, glad when it didn’t squeak. She listened, not hearing anything but the crackling of the fire. She gripped the ax as she stepped in and gently closed the door.

She readied herself as she came closer to the living room, the ax pulled back, ready to strike if someone attacked her. She froze when she saw him, Dian, sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace. He gave her an exhausted smile. “You’re safe, that’s good.” He said.

She lowered the ax. “You…how did you find my house?”

“It’s a gift.” He pushed himself to his feet. “I hope you don’t mind me resting here.” He crossed over to her. “May I have it back please?”

She moved the ax to her other hand then reached into her pocket and pulled it out. “Tell me why those men were after you.”

“I stole this.”

“Why?”

His amused smile at her questions lit up his eyes. “Because I’m looking for the rightful heir to the throne.”

“If it’s so important why did you hand it off to me? They could have taken it” His smile lifted a little again “I knew you were too intelligent and brave for them to figure out you had it. I was worried they would catch up so handing it to you was the safest thing to do”

“But you don’t know me”

“If you sit with me by your fire I will explain everything and answer any follow up questions” His stomach growled and she said “Maybe I should feed you first. I have some leftovers that will be quick to heat up”

“Thank you” He began explaining as she heated up food. He was exhausted, would have been able to fall asleep that second if he laid down but he wanted to explain everything to her. Even if he didn’t want to explain she had given him a place to rest and helped him by hiding the amulet, he owed her an explanation. “so you’re descended from a powerful witch and you read my mind earlier which is how you knew you could trust me”

“Yes but don’t worry, I have to be touching you to do it” she shrugged “Not worried, I don’t have much to hide and nothing really embarrasses me” He looked so amused again “How are you so cheerful when you’re being chased and have such a big job to do”

“I enjoy every moment of life, always have and I’m enjoying your company. You’re a beautiful and interesting person” She seemed more surprised by his comment than anything as she asked “so, what gave you this job?”

“I worked for the previous king and queen before their deaths and doing this for them is only right. Their son deserves to rule”

“And where is he?”

“North. His parents thought if he’s in the snowy, icy reaches then it would give people less of a reason to go after him. He was put on a ship and put under the care of a merchant and his family.”

“I can’t imagine going from a prince to a merchant. It must have been hard.”

“He was always a good boy and, much like his father, a hard worker. It may have been an adjustment, but he wouldn’t have shied away from it.” He sighed. “I thought I had thrown them off my trail, by pretending to board a ship, but I guess they caught on.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“Resupply and continue my journey. I have to fulfill my duty and bring him home. If I don’t things could take a turn for the worst and no one wants that.” He sat his fork down and leaned back, truly exhausted. “Thank you, Violet, truly, thank you. I promise to repay your kindness.”

The words came tumbling out of her without a single thought “why don’t you repay me by allowing me to come with you” Despite the fact those words came unbidden she meant them. She had been tired of being here and maybe if she left the people would learn to take care of themselves. Dian sat upright, amusement playing over his exhausted face “That works for me.”

“wow, that easily?”

“You’d be helpful, I can tell. Even if I didn’t owe you I’d welcome you along”

“Then lets both get some rest” While Dian finished eating Violet brought a pillow and blanket into the living room, laying them both on the couch for him “goodnight Dian, you’re welcome to any food or water you need in the night. I’ll make us coffee and a descent breakfast in the morning”

“Goodnight Violet”

That night Violet slept with her ax near her bed, just in case the men who had been chasing him managed to find her home. She woke the next morning to the sound of footsteps and someone talking. It took a moment to realize it was Dian, already awake, and she wondered who he was talking to. She yawned as she got up and made her way into the living room, seeing him pacing back and forth and reading out loud from one of her books. He smiled as he turned, closing the book. “Sorry, did I wake you?”

“It’s alright, you should have woke me as soon as you got up.”

“I didn’t mind waiting.” He let his eyes move over her. She looked quite cute disheveled as she was.

“I look rough don’t I?” She asked and his eyes jumped to her face.

“Not at all, quite the opposite. I apologize for staring.” He cleared his throat. “Would you like me to help you with breakfast?”

She shook her head. “I can manage.”

“I’d feel bad if I made you do everything.”

She couldn’t help but smile at him. He was far too kind and generous. “Then how about you read to me, you have a really nice voice.”

He chuckled. “Do I?”

She felt her cheeks heat. “Well, yeah, it’s enjoyable enough.”

 

Chapter Two

He grinned again ‘well I was enjoying this book anyway, we will have to bring it on the journey so I can read aloud for you in the evenings. I always read out loud. It’s one of the odd things about me” She had been too sleepy to register what he had been reading so she asked “which book is it?” he lifted it so she could see the cover “Oh, thats actually a series. One of the villagers here writes it.”

“could we bring them all?”

“Yeah, if any get ruined I can always get another. She won’t even allow me to give her payment”

“why?”

“Because I take care of this village. If anything bothers them they come running. Just the other day I had to chase off a dragon”

“How do you think they’ll do without you?”

“Fine I’m sure, they just need to realize they don’t need me”

“You aren’t worried about them discovering that?”

“No, I’ll get more time on my own and I have enough skills I don’t need anything to be given to me…anyway, I’ll get the coffee started. That way it’ll be ready when I am” Violet started the coffee then went back into her room to get dressed in something comfortable for the road.

“You look good in that.” Dian said when she came back and she couldn’t help but blush.

“They’re just some old clothes.”

“They suit you.”

“Thank you.” He smiled and her heart jumped, causing her to look away in embarrassment and head into the kitchen to make breakfast.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

Violet shook her head. “You didn’t, I promise, just not used to someone saying something like that to me.”

“Well if they haven’t, they are obviously blind.” He sat down at the table, flipping the book open. “May I still read?”

“Of course.” She had to admit to herself once again that she really enjoyed his voice. It was surprisingly smooth and had an unexpected deep timbre to it. She could honestly listen to it all day.

The smooth way he read along with how skilled this author was at showing the reader a scene had her mind clearly seeing what was happening in the story within her mind as she prepared breakfast and enjoyed her black coffee. Violet was almost disappointed as she sat down with their plates and he stopped but her mind quickly reminded her that he planned on reading throughout their trip. They ate silently but when Dian was finished he said “that was incredible. I’ll be glad to read to you while you cook on the trip” she smiled “that’ll work amazing for both of us” She got up almost too quickly, not used to interactions like this at all.

Dian didn’t say anything, her nerves only gave him hope. People who didn’t react to your flirting weren’t interested and he was incredibly interested in Violet. She was beautiful, an a amazing cook, had a mind of her own and was brave. He could only imagine what else he might find to like about her during their journey to collect the prince. When she gathered the series together Dian insisted he carried it since he was the one who had wanted it. She didn’t put up too much of a fight having realized how heavy they would probably be after awhile.

“So, what’s your plan?” She asked as she shouldered the small pack she had made up with food and water in it.

“Make it to a bigger city and rent a horse and also buy warmer clothes. I wouldn’t want you to freeze to death.”

“Well I have you to make sure I stay warm, so I’m sure I won’t.” He grinned and she blushed. “I mean, with your magic. You can make fire right?”

“Of course.”

She swallowed and he chuckled. “So, what if he isn’t there?”

“Then we’ll wait.”

“It must have been awful for him, being forced to stay in hiding even after his parents died. I don’t know if I could have stayed, I think I would have raced home, he’s definitely stronger than me.”

“Now that’s not true, I’ve seen it in your head. That dragon didn’t know who he was dealing with.”

“You…how much did you see?”

“I didn’t have time for much, I just saw the past few days. I wont look at anymore unless you say it’s okay though. I just had to know if I could trust you and if you were up to facing those men should they come” She could understand that. He did have a huge responsibility on his shoulders. “I’ve found with most creatures all it takes is being brave. In our world you can’t judge a book by its cover so they probably think I’m more than just human”

“Probably, non magical beings do tend to just run or cower, especially in the presence of dragons”

“Have you seen many dragons?”

“I met a shifter once. He was a cool guy and as a dragon, well, he probably could have swallowed that dragon you met whole”

“wow”

“Yeah, maybe I can introduce you two one day”

“I would like that, maybe once we’ve brought the prince home.”

He nodded and they continued down the road, Violet looking back at her home as they got further and further away. She wondered how everyone would react once they realized she had left. She could only imagine. It was better not to tell them she was leaving, they would just try to make up excuses for why she couldn’t. “If you wish to turn back, now is the time.” Dian said and she turned to him, smiling.

“No going back until we’ve finished this. Besides, it’ll give them time to find their own courage and strength. They’ll have to rely on each other if another dragon shows up.”

“I’m sure they will.”

“And I get to go somewhere new thanks to you, even if it is dangerous and cold.”

“Speaking of dangerous,” He reached over, taking her hand, “allow me to give you a little protection.” He said a few words in a language she didn’t know and she felt warmth move from his hand to hers, up her arm, and into her chest. He smiled and let her go. “There, a ward of protection, just in case.”

“Thank you” Violet was surprised when he didn’t let go but she didn’t complain. She hadn’t held hands with someone since she was a little girl and the fact he was so handsome along with nice definitely contributed to the fact she didn’t mind. “Are you truly staying out of my head?” She had to ask. He smiled again “Yes”

“alright, I trust you”

“what would we have to talk about anyway if I went and looked at everything?”

“True, I mean, the books are only going to last us so long”

“I was trying not to think about them. I want to know what happens next” Violet smiled, filling with amusement of her own. “who is your favorite character so far?” He had to think “Cedric, I’m going to have to go with Cedric”

“Why?”

“Because he’s so relatable. He’s trying his best to do the right thing without hurting anyone, but he’s realizing things aren’t that simple.”

“Like you?”

Dian gave a little laugh. “Yeah, I don’t want to hurt anyone, I really don’t, but I know I’ll have to and I’ve made peace with that fact. These powers were passed down to me to defend myself and others and that’s how I’ll use them.”

“You’re a good man, Dian, you really are.”

“I owe the king and queen, they were good people and my friends. I couldn’t save them, even with all my power, so now I’ll bring their son home and help him take back the throne.”

“And I’ll help you.”

“Are you sure, you know there are bound to be swords and ill tempered mercenaries.”

She smiled, making his heart dance. “I’m sure, besides, you have my back.”

They chatted happily about their lives, Dian telling her stories of what it was like serving the previous king and queen, of how his magic worked. She felt her face heat as she asked if he had a wife or kids and her heart fluttered when he smiled in amusement and told her no.

Despite how embarrassing it was to ask him, Violet had to know. It came as a relief to know that her attraction to him could be felt without guilt. She wasn’t ready to confess to anything yet, it was much too soon and they had too far of a journey ahead of them but it was incredibly nice to know that if she fell completely in love it would be okay. The terrain they were currently in was perfect for getting to know one another. The path was smooth and there didn’t seem to be a wild animal with the mildest interest in them. They were able just to talk until lunch when Dian kept to his word and read to Violet while she heated up their food.

They were back on the road as soon as they finished eating and cleaning up and Dian decided to continue reading as they walked, even acting out some of the scenes much to Violet’s amusement. He grinned every time he got her to laugh and teased her when she blushed. Their first day passed without trouble and Dian started another fire when night fell so Violet could warm their food and to keep them warm. They settled in for the night after he finished reading and he was relieved she could so easily sleep outside. It was some time after midnight when they were woke by the sound of footsteps and whispered voices. Their eyes met past the fire and they both lay there as still as possible.

“Violet,” he said softly, “cover your ears, close your eyes and scoot back away from the fire.”

She nodded and squeezed her eyes shut, pretending to roll in her sleep, bringing her hands up to her ears as she did so. Dian could hear the men in the woods. They thought they were being stealthy, that he and Violet had not heard them, but they had been wrong. He heard them step out of the treeline and readied himself. One approached him from behind and he could see in the firelight another heading straight for Violet. He heard the whispered command of their leader and just as the one near Violet reached for her, he closed his eyes, covered his ears, and caused the fire to explode up into a bright pillar of blinding light.

 

Final Chapter

They groaned loudly and Dian quickly rose, punching the man who had been previously in position to grab Violet. They both heard bone crunch and knew the mans nose was going to be gushing blood. “fuck” Violet got up too, ready to fight alongside Dian but instead he grabbed her wrist along with the bag of books and began running, pulling her away. Dian knew this journey would require violence but he wanted to use as little of it as possible. The only reason he punched the man so near Violet was to make sure he couldn’t find his senses and grab her when she stood and if he was being truly honest with himself, he also did it because she was coming to mean a lot to him.

Violet couldn’t quite keep pace with Dian but she did her best. The two kept at it until they were both panting and sure those men were far behind them. “Oh crap our stuff” Violet realized they had the bag of books but not their items. He sighed “we have what’s important, our lives and the medallion. We can make due along the way”

“It’s good you keep it on you constantly”

“You didn’t get scorched or anything did you?”

“No, still have my eyebrows.”

He chuckled as he stopped and took her face in his hands. “Yeah, they look even to me.”

She blushed. “Um, your’s do too. You were closer than me so, that’s surprising.”

“Trust me, I’ve burned mine off a few times, back when I was first learning. There was a time I had to keep my hair extremely short because I kept burning it.” She laughed and he smiled back. “I’m glad you got to keep yours though, it’s too beautiful to burn.” He let her face go and took her hand instead. “Come on, let’s keep moving.”

Violet wasn’t sure how long they kept walking, only that the sun was suddenly starting to rise and she was getting tired. She was about to ask for a breather when Dian scooped her up into his arms. “What are you doing?”

“You’re tired right?”

“Well yeah, but you’re already carrying the books.”

“I’ll be fine, I promise.”

“If I’m not walking I could read to you so you can learn what happens next” He smiled again, it lighting up his face “thats a perfect idea” he set her down long enough to grab the book they were on and give it to her. “Are you sure this is enough sun for your eyes not to hurt?”

“Oh yeah, this is fine” Violet relaxed in his arms and began quietly reading, semi worried there might be others near who could be drawn by her voice. They had been lucky to get away from their last situation so easily. She didn’t want to roll their odds again anytime soon. Things were quite, almost concerningly so for Dian but he wouldn’t worry about it. He was finding he liked her reading voice too. Dian suddenly stopped a few chapters later, causing Violet to look up at him “whats wrong” he set her down so he could touch the ground. Violet stood there silently, gripping her book. He took her hand, still not offering any sort of explanation. She supposed they either needed to be quite or this was just a result of traveling by himself up until now. He might just not be used to explaining anything to someone else.

Either way she began looking around, only seeing different kinds of bugs exploring this place they called home. He was crouching again, feeling the ground. He looked up at her “you know I almost fell for it listening to you read. It might be dangerous for you to read while I hold you. I might not pay close enough attention”

“what’s wrong?” she finally pressed, eager to know what she should be worried about. “I can’t imagine anybody knew I’d be coming this way so this must be an old trap someone set for whatever reason and then forgot to get rid of it”

“that or were killed”

“yeah, I suppose they’d need some kind of reason to do this but come down here, feel” She crouched down beside him and felt in front of them. Her face scrunched up”what?”

“theres nothing there”

“but” she felt again “dear god maybe whoever set it forgot and walked right off”

“that kind of karma would suck. Since we ran in the dark we must have gone the wrong way somehow. I’m normally better than that. I’m sorry”

“You don’t have to be sorry.”

“I should be more aware.”

“Dian, you haven’t had to worry about someone else traveling with you, so don’t beat yourself up. You’re just trying to be a good protector and companion.”

He sighed then gave her a smile. “You’re an amazing woman, Violet.” They both stood. “I’m going to disarm it just in case someone else comes around then we can get back on track.” He had her step back and he held his hands out, closing his eyes, and whispering a spell.

Violet was amazed when his palms began glowing with pale light. Her heart danced in her chest as his voice became a little louder and more impassioned. She could feel his magic as it spread out around them and tingled over her skin. The light faded and he let out a soft sigh and opened his eyes. “Is it safe now?”

“Yes, everything should be fine and no one should get hurt.”

“That’s good.”

He nodded and reached over, taking her hand. His palm felt warm against hers. “Are you ready?”

She didn’t realize she was just staring at him until he cocked his head to the side and gave her questioning look. Her face flushed in embarrassment. “Oh, yes, sorry, let’s go.”

“He chuckled. “How cute you are my little warrior.”

“Oh hush, come one.” She started to walk off and he gently pulled her back.

“It’s this way.”

She nervously chuckled, wishing her face wasn’t so warm. People around her had always looked up to her back home but Dian was the first man to make her feel seen as a woman. He was so flirtatious and sweet. Her thoughts soon turned more serious as they walked back the way they came. She knew the two of them had gone far and wasted hours of time in a situation where every bit of time was precious. When he began guiding them to the left she grew concerned they were going the wrong way again “but we didn’t turn before? Shouldn’t we still go straight?”

“No, it’ll be quicker to get back on course this way. I know this area pretty well which makes it all the more ridiculous I did that and I see that face, it’s not your fault. You’re distracting but that doesn’t make us getting side tracked your fault”

“well”

“I wont hear of it. I’m a man with a job, distracting female companion or not I should be aware of where we are going” She gave him a small smile “so, can we talk?”

“Yeah, what would you like to talk about?”

“Well, what do you plan to do, after everything? I mean are you going back home or something else?”

He smiled. “Define something else.”

“Well, maybe settle down or something?”

He shrugged. “Maybe, I haven’t given it too much thought really.” He chuckled. “Okay, that’s not entirely true, I’ve been thinking about it more recently. I mean, what if I died never falling in love? What if I never had the chance to have kids and raise them around the castle and show them magic?”

“You would want to live there?”

“Well, I feel an obligation to continue my job, not just for the prince, but for his parents, my friends. However, if she wished to stay where she was then I would have no choice but to travel back and forth.”

“I think I would move if it were me, I mean it would be something new, an adventure.”

Violet was startled when he said “well good because you are the cause of my thinking of that recently…I know we just met Violet but I’d be a liar and an idiot to pretend you didn’t have a pull on my heart. You’re not only beautiful but you’re incredibly brave. That brief glimpse I saw into your history made me want to know so much more about you. You also have impeccable tastes in books apparently.” She almost stuttered but managed to speak normally “You can’t really think I’m pretty. I’ve never felt pretty” He took her hand, causing Violet to stop so he could look into her eyes “You’re gorgeous Violet. I mean that. How do you feel about me?”

“I like you a lot too”

“good, I really do hope by the end of this adventure you’ll truly want to live in the castle with me. We don’t have to rush into marriage or kids or anything. I was just being honest about the kind of thoughts you draw out of me Violet”

“I know, I’m happy, really. Are you sure you’re ready to live with me? I mean, I’m a bit hot headed sometimes.”

“No you’re not, you just get exasperated, I saw it.” He tipped her head back and bent down, his lips stopping a breath from hers. “You are so noble and beautiful, a true warrior and I love you for it, Violet.”

“Dian.” Her voice came out in a whisper and he smiled as he pressed his lips to hers.

He pulled back with a sigh. “We should go my love. Are you ready?”

“Yeah.”

Dian decided to take as many shortcuts as he could as they headed further North, wanting to stay as far ahead of the men chasing him as he could. He knew the journey back might be harder than the journey there while they were being followed. He could feel that it was starting to become colder the further they went and was relieved when the city came into view. Violet was shivering and he picked her up, hoping his own warmth would keep the cold at bay.

She snuggled into him “thank you” her voice was a whisper which concerned him even more. Dian picked up his pace, wanting to get her inside somewhere before she became sick. Dian walked into the first in, only setting her down to pay for a room. It didn’t take long, soon they were inside and he suggested “why don’t you run yourself a bath while I go out again and see if anybody around here sells clothing. Now that we’ve hit a city we really need a change of clothes, something warmer since most of whats left of our journey will be cold”

“You’re cold too though. You don’t need to get us warmer clothes right now.”

“I really want to, I can probably just ask the man at the front desk so I wont be outside long. Just relax here, warm up and I’ll be back before you know it” She could see the resolve in his eyes to go so she didn’t argue it any further. Besides, her body longed to be in a warm bath. Dian left as Violet entered the bathroom, making sure to lock the door so she wouldn’t get any surprise visitors. Just as he thought the man at the front desk knew a good place to go clothes shopping for them both so he didn’t have to wander to locate one.

Violet let out a sigh of relief once she was sitting in the tub and she was grateful that it was so big so the water rose up to her chin and covered everything. She rested her neck against the edge, just soaking up the soothing warmth. She hummed softly to herself, thinking of Dian and how much had happened in just the short time they had known each other. After everything she had had to face and scare away, falling in love with someone like Dian had been the most unexpected. She couldn’t get over how perfect and honorable he was and she hoped she wouldn’t suddenly wake up asleep on one of her books.

Dian bought clothes as quickly as possible, thanking the woman running the store for helping him find something suitable for Violet. He spent extra on a coat and boots for her, wanting her to be as warm as possible while they traveled North. He made a stop at another store to buy dry kindling, a small ax, and ask where the best firewood could be found in the direction they were going. He wasn’t going to make Violet travel through the night in the snow. He thanked the man there and hurried back to the inn.

The bathroom door was still closed when he entered the room so he knocked on the door, both to make sure she was really still in there and to let her know he was back “yeah? Dian?” her voice sounded from the other side of the door, obviously still safely in the bath “do you want me to set your new clothes in front of the door or to set them in there…I wont go all the way in”

“You can set them in here, thank you” Dian opened the door just enough to set the clothes on the counter. Violet pulled on the stopped so the tub would drain. There wasn’t a lot of heat left in it anyway and she was sure Dian needed a turn to warm his body. Violet was a little nervous about the clothes fitting since he didn’t know her measurements but to her glee they fit perfectly and were incredibly comfortable. As she looked in the mirror she decided they were even cute, he had good tastes, another thing to love about him.

The first thing Violet did upon leaving the bathroom was hug him. He just smiled, holding her tight “thank you”

“I was worried about you”

“Just not used to it being so cold. I mean it snows back home, but it’s much colder up here.”

He pulled back to look at her. “How are you feeling? Warm enough?”

“Yeah and I love the clothes.”

“They look good on you, but I have something even better.” He moved away from her and lifted the coat. “To keep you extra warm.”

Violet took it gently, amazed by how soft it was. “Wow.”

“It’s made from a bear hide. The interior is sealskin, same with the boots to keep you dry.”

“You’re so sweet, Dian.”

“I can’t have my beautiful love freeze to death.” He took the coat and held it open. “Let’s go out and get something to eat, we can talk about what we’re going to do while we do.”

“Okay.” She slipped the coat on and quickly buttoned it. “What do you think?”

“You look like you belong here, very cute.”

“are you sure you’re up to going out? You haven’t had a chance to warm up”

“I’ll be fine, just cuddle with me later” Dian said, bringing her hand to his lips to kiss it. The difference in their temperatures was clearly evident but he insisted he was fine so they left together. “this one place smelled amazing when I passed it” Dian said as he scooped her up outside. “I can’t wait” Violet was worried about Dian not being able to truly get warm yet so she was glad they didn’t have to go far to reach the place he was talking about.

Violet agreed, the smells coming from this place were amazing. They talked about the restaurant until their food actually came “so do you need us to take a break here for more than just tonight? We can stay a day or two. You’re not used to this and I don’t want to push you too hard” Dian said after his first bite. Violet finished chewing and swallowed “I definitively want to leave in the morning. I don’t think we should take a long stop unless one of us gets sick. You’re right, I’m not used to this but I’m really fine. Besides, you keep picking me up so how can it be all that hard”

Dian smiled “I like being close to you” Violet blushed and he was just happy she was warm enough to. She found herself thinking about how sweet and caring he was again. Traveling together was one of those things that could make or break relationships so she felt it showed how much promise this thing between them had that she felt this happy. They talked about where they needed to go and the best ways to get there until their food was gone. After Dian paid he took Violets hand and said “lets just enjoy eachother for the rest of the night okay? If we talk I just want it to be about normal life things, I want to get to know you more” Violet smiled “I’d like that too”

~The End

Ambrose & Demeter 2

Chapter One

Ambrose sat there drinking some water, sweat running down his face as he took a break and watched Demeter practicing. There was something wrong, he could tell, and there had been for a few days. She slashed and blocked, spun and ducked, but she seemed exhausted, her form off and it worried him. He could even hear that her breathing was off, like she was struggling. It was when the other soldier knocked her sword out of her hand, shocking the both of them, that he stood and went over to her. Demeter was gripping her wrist and the young man was apologizing.

“Are you alright?” Ambrose asked as he took her hand.

“I’m fine,” she turned to the soldier, “it’s fine, really, I was careless. Why don’t you go and practice with one of the others for a bit.”

“Yes ma’am.” He hurried off and Demeter retrieved her sword, slipping it into its sheath.

“Demeter, love, what’s wrong? You haven’t been acting like yourself lately.”

“I don’t know, I’ve just been so tired and…and I can’t focus.”

“Maybe you’ve been overworking yourself?”

“I’ve worked a lot harder than this.”

He smiled, pressing their foreheads together. “Just because you’re a mighty warrior woman, doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself too hard.”

“I’m alright.”

“How about we ask for some time off, I’m sure my cousin would let us.”

She sighed, “It does seem like I need it.”

“Then let’s see if she has time to talk to us.” As always Cantaly was more than happy to talk to them and didn’t mind them leaving for a bit in the slightest.

“Thankfully I don’t think anything or anybody is foolish enough to mess with our kingdom at this point so always feel free to take breaks. I never want you pushing yourself too hard Demeter.”

“I really enjoy what I do.”

“I know, but taking care of yourself is important. Besides, who else could put up with my cousin Ambrose if you pushed yourself too far?” She said with a grin.

“Hey.” Ambrose said with mock annoyance.

Cantaly laughed, causing her husband whom was standing beside her to smile. “Go on you two, take as long of a vacation as you need. We can handle things around here.” With her blessing they left hand in hand.

“First off let’s just finish our day at home. I could cook for you and maybe give you a massage.”

Demeter kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”

Demeter was relieved to get home and remove what armor she was wearing. She dropped down on the couch and Ambrose sat down next to her, lifting her feet into his lap and removing her boots. “You don’t have to do that.”

“Sure I do.” He rubbed her feet and she let out a little sigh as she moved to lay back on the arm of the couch. “You okay?”

“Yeah, just exhausted.”

“Want me to get my uncle to come check you? You know he will if I ask.”

“No, Irim’s probably busy or spending time with his family.”

“As long as you’re sure.”

“I am, thank you.”

He leaned over her, giving her a kiss then got up to make her something to eat. He was worried about her, but didn’t want to be too pushy and upset her. He hoped it was just fatigue from overworking and that once she had time to recharge, she would be back to herself. He peeked in at her, seeing she had fallen asleep. He decided to just let her nap until he finished cooking.

Ambrose kept telling himself that Demeter was okay and would be just fine. He had to think positively or he knew he’d ruin their time together. He was going to make her an incredible meal then rub out her tense muscles more. Those things combined with rest had to get her feeling better again. He tried to focus on other meals he could make for her during her time off so he wouldn’t get any more anxious than he already was. He wanted them to taste amazing but also be good for her.

When he was finally finished cooking he made them each a plate and set the table before going to gently wake Demeter. She woke easily, rubbing her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, the point is for you to relax.”

The smell of dinner hit her nose. “Let’s eat what you made before it gets cold…thank you for making it by yourself.”

He kissed her head as he took Demeter in his arms to carry her to the table. “You deserve a little spoiling Demeter.”

Ambrose’s cooking was delicious as always and when they were finished eating, he refused to let her help him clean up, carrying her to their bedroom instead and asking her to wait. He quickly cleaned up then came back to her, crawling over her and pressing a kiss to her lips, his hands pushing at her clothes. “Ambrose.”

“It’ll be easier to rub you my love.”

“Oh sure.”

“I mean it, I promise to be good, you need to rest, husband’s orders.” He added with a smile.

“Yes boss.”

He chuckled. “Be careful, I might start liking the sound of that.” His heart fluttered when she laughed and he continued pulling her clothes off. He moved her onto her stomach and let his hands run over her, savoring the softness of her skin. She let out a little moan as her muscles loosened and he felt the stirring of desire. “You make it hard to be good.”

“I can’t help it.” She let out a contented sigh and he pressed a kiss to her shoulder then moved next to her, pulling her close. “What should we do with our time off?”

“Stay home and have lots of sex?”

“Ambrose.” Her skin warmed.

“Alright, go out and have…” she put her hand over his mouth and he laughed. He pulled her hand down to press it against his chest. “I’ll talk to my dad, he knows about a lot of fun places. You just have to promise me if you start to feel too sick, you’ll tell me.”

“I promise.”

“Alright, we can go over to their home in the morning after breakfast. We haven’t spent any real time with my parents in a long time so I guess we can hangout there until we have lunch with them.”

“I’m excited, your mom is so sweet. She also always seems to have cures for everything so maybe she can send us with something that will help me feel better.”

“She’s certainly raised enough children to know remedies to everything.”

Demeter laughed at his words. “Your dad certainly can’t keep his hands off of her…they really are so sweet. I hope we’re together as long as they’ve been together.”

She blushed as she said those words and Ambrose smiled, moving to kiss her again. “You’re not getting rid of me, no matter what. I love you every bit as much as my dad loves my mom.”

“I love you too.”

Demeter fell asleep snuggled against him and he just laid there brushing his fingers through her hair. He was truly lucky to have her and still didn’t know how he had got so lucky. He didn’t deserve her at all. He turned a little, pressing his forehead against hers and closing his eyes, letting himself drift off. Demeter woke a couple of hours later, her movement stirring him and he smiled lovingly at her. “Good nap?”

“Yeah, sorry.”

“It’s okay. Still feel like crap?”

“Fatigued, a little sick to my stomach, but other than that I’m alright.”

“Tell me if it gets worse.”

“I will.” They spent the rest of the day relaxing together, Ambrose fussing over her, making sure she didn’t do to much. She couldn’t help but smile at how adamant he was about her just relaxing.

The next day they were both up early, so much so Zane and Belle hadn’t even finished breakfast when they arrived but Belle was over joyed to see them when Zane brought the couple to the table. She quickly got up, hugging each one of them “How are you two?”

“We’re okay, myself more so than Demeter. She’s been incredibly fatigued lately. She’s taking some time off work so we wanted to spend the day with you guys and I wanted to talk to dad about possible places to take Demeter.”

“Oh no.” Belle said and Zane put a hand on her shoulder. “Demeter just works hard is all. She’ll be fine with rest. Come sit with us, are you two hungry?” He asked and Demeter answered, “We already ate. I feel bad about interrupting your own breakfast though.”

“It’s no trouble, just sit with us and we will all talk.”

“How long have you been feeling off?” Belle asked.

“About a week, just tired, felt a little sick to my stomach yesterday, but nothing really serious. It’s been making training the recruits hard.”

“Why don’t I make you something to help settle your stomach.”

“Thank you.”

“It’s no problem, you know that.”

“Do you know any good places we can relax?” Ambrose asked his father. “Hopefully somewhere we won’t be bothered.” He took Demeter’s hand. “I really want her to rest.”

“You could spend time in the Shadow Wood. There’s a cave there Irim helped me fix up. It’s protected by magic. There’s also the place I sent your brother and Tawny.” He named off a few more and Belle soon returned with a cup of ginger tea, handing it to Demeter.

“That should help.” She said with a warm smile.

“Thank you so much.” Demeter said then took a small sip. It was hot, but she was ready for any kind of relief.

“Why don’t we let them plan. I have a few things I want to show you around here. Zane and I have been busy again redoing a few things.”

“Sure.”

Belle looked at her son and said, “You know if she gets too tired I’ll bring her back here.” Demeter smiled as her husband blushed. Taking her drink she followed Belle out of the kitchen. They were in a newly renovated guest room when Belle spoke again, “So there really are things to show you, but are you sure you’re not pregnant?” Belle looked so eager. Even all these children and grandchildren later she was still all about babies.

Demeter almost laughed. “I didn’t even think about that.”

“You’re an incredibly fit woman and obviously not actually sick so that’s the only explanation to me.”

“I mean, if you’d like me to take a pregnancy test I will.”

“I’d love that.”

“That’s the first thing that came to your mind isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but what’s the point in working up Ambrose if you’re not. If you’re not though you should really let someone look at you because I can’t imagine why else you’d be getting exhausted when you’re used to a lot of physical activity.”

 

Chapter Two

Demeter didn’t know why she was suddenly so nervous now that she was about to take a pregnancy test, but she let Belle stay with her as she did, her mind racing as she sat the stick on the counter and waited. “It’s going to be okay.” Belle said.

“I know, it’s just do you think Ambrose will want kids?”

“He’s grown a lot since he was a kid, I think he’ll be worried, but happy.”

“Worried because of what happened between you two?”

“Yeah, I think he’ll be scared of a child winding up like how he was.”

“I don’t think that would happen, he’s been so sweet.”

“I know and you have no idea how happy Zane and I are.”

They continued to chat until Demeter had to check the test and her heart jumped when she saw it was positive. Belle had to cover her mouth to keep from screaming with happiness. She wanted Demeter to tell Ambrose in her own time. “I…I’m pregnant.” She rested her other hand on her abdomen. “Do you think that baby’s okay, I mean with all the physical activity?”

“Of course, it takes more than wrestling and sword fighting to hurt a fetus and you probably haven’t been pregnant that long.” Belle whispered. “I’m so excited, another grandbaby.”

“I think I should wait until we’re gone to tell Ambrose, he’ll start to fuss about us traveling is I don’t. Could you wait to tell everyone until we get back, except for Zane I mean?”

“Of course sweetie.” She hugged Demeter. “Are you happy?”

“Yeah, just surprised.”

“It’s amazing being a mother, it really is” Demeter smiled with both amusement and warmth. “I’m so glad just to know whats going on with me.”

“Yeah, it can be scary the first time but you can talk to me anytime about it and I can teach you how to make drinks and things like that to keep yourself feeling good.”

“Thank you so much.”

Belle hugged her. “Thank you for marrying my son and for now giving me another grandchild.” Belle let go then continued, “We should finish up this tour and get back before we seem suspicious.”

“Good thinking.” Belle showed Demeter a few more things around the house then they rejoined Zane and Ambrose

“He’s decided on a place.” Zane announced when they came in and Demeter said, “Let me guess, it’s a surprise?”

Ambrose smiled. “Well you know if you hadn’t run off with my mom it wouldn’t be a surprise. So you’ll have to deal.” Demeter smiled then kissed his cheek.

They spent most of the day with Belle and Zane and when they finally left, Zane pulled Belle into him, smiling at her excited face. “She’s pregnant isn’t she?”

“How did you know?”

“Because you always make that face when you find out about another baby.”

Ambrose insisted on carrying Demeter home even though she said she felt better. She relented and rested her head on his shoulder and he pressed a kiss to her forehead which made her heart flutter. “I love you Demeter.”

“I love you too.” And she couldn’t wait to tell him the news. “When are we leaving?”

“As soon as we’re packed, my dad said the place I picked is the prettiest at night and if I fly fast, I’ll get us there in no time.”

“I take it you plan on carrying me there?” She said in an amused tone.

“I can tell you’re still tired, just let me fuss, it’ll make me worry less.”

Her heart warmed as she looked up at her mate. “Alright, I’m so happy we’re getting away together.”

“Me too, we should make time for trips more like my parents do.”

“We really should, at least once a year.”

“We’ll do it, I promise. I won’t have you getting this tired again.” Her grin widened as she thought this may just happen a few more times. She hadn’t spent a great deal of time thinking about kids but the few times she had she felt four would be a good number for her. She even hoped that she would be lucky enough to enjoy two girls and two boys, in any order. She’d love whatever the universe granted her though even if she had all of one gender. They were soon home and packed with a few changes of clothes along with essentials before locking up and heading outside so Ambrose could shift.

Ambrose held Demeter protectively in his claws as he soared through the air, keeping the wind off of her. When he glanced down at her, she was laid back with her head resting on their pack, her eyes closed and even over the wind he could hear her humming. He dipped his head down, gently nuzzling her and her laugh made his heart flutter. He hoped she was feeling better, that his mother’s tea had helped her stomach. She fell asleep halfway through their journey and he only pushed himself to go faster, wanting to get her somewhere comfortable. When his destination came into view, the top of the mountain trail breaking through the woods, he slowed and started circling. His father had told him it was easier to come down the trail than it was to try landing in the thick wood.

Demeter woke when he landed and he shifted back, taking the pack and lifting her into his arms. “You don’t have to carry me silly.” She said with a yawn.

“You know I don’t mind, I love having you close, so let me.”

She nodded and looked around. “Wow, it’s so pretty here. Where are we?”

“Silverwood, but it’s not our true destination.” He started down the trail and Demeter marveled at how truly beautiful their surroundings were.

They weren’t much further when she said “I really love this place. Can we explore a little instead of going straight through? I mean…we aren’t in a hurry right?”

“Not exactly right here because of some creatures here, but if we go a little further we can stick around here awhile.”

She kissed his cheek. “You’re the best Ambrose. What sort of creatures live here?” She asked out of both curiosity and just wanting to talk to him.

“They are a lot like bears, but curved blades come out of their bodies.”

“Really?” She asked in almost a gasp. They sounded so interesting.

“Yeah, their bodies just make them and they can send them flying at you. They are razor sharp too.”

“They don’t cut up the bears coming out?”

“Nope and few blades can harm them.”

“That’s crazy.”

“Please don’t tell me you want to see one.”

If she wasn’t pregnant she would have, but she couldn’t take that risk with a little one in her stomach. “Maybe not right now because I know I need to relax.”

He kissed her head. “I was so worried you’d ask to see them now.”

“I know how worried you are. I don’t want to make you ill now with stress.”

He gave a sigh of relief. “Sorry, I don’t mean to act this way, but…”

“It’s okay, it doesn’t bother me. It’s actually cute seeing you all worried.”

Ambrose felt his face heat and he let out a huff. “I’m not cute.”

“Just like your dad when he’s around your mom.” She rubbed her nose against his cheek and he turned his head, pressing his lips briefly against hers, causing her to flush.

“I’ll show you cute once we’re in a safe place.”

She smiled, snuggling into him. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Ambrose kept himself alert as he walked, hoping any predators could sense he was a dragon and that if they attacked them he might make an exception and eat one of them. Once they finally made it through the dangerous part of the forest, he lowered her feet to the ground and laced his fingers through hers. “Stay close please.”

She laughed. “I will, I promise.”

Ambrose was glad this trip was already getting her to relax. She seemed so happy as she walked around and took everything in. Demeter had this amazing way of appreciating everything. She wasn’t rushing through to get to their destination, she saw something beautiful and wanted to take a break and experience it as well. Ambrose knew after all the years his parents had been together they must of stopped in here a time or two but he still hoped he might find something to tell his father about in return for his father telling him about this. He had such amazing parents, willing to help whenever he asked. They were genuinely good people and sometimes the embarrassment of who he used to be was unbearable.

Thankfully nobody ever brought it up, his family wasn’t the type to hold things in the past over your head forever. The fact everybody basically acted like his youth didn’t happen was the only way he could live with himself. They ended up spending the rest of the day there. Demeter suggested sleeping where they were but he was too worried about those bears coming over here. They generally didn’t but that didn’t mean they were safe.

“I’m fine just to carry you the rest of the way.”

“I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

“Sweetheart I wont be able to sleep here and I promise I’m fine. I know I can finish the trip or at least get to a spot I could sleep in.” She took his hand

“I’m not all that tired yet so lets walk together. The sky is so beautiful here. I want to enjoy it and yes if I get too tired you can carry me.” She kissed his cheek then tugged him along.

Demeter yawned as they walked through the twilight and Ambrose pulled her closer, his arm slipping around her waist. She knew it was just the baby exhausting her and she couldn’t wait to tell Ambrose so he wouldn’t have to worry so much. She let him pick her up once the sun had completely fallen and snuggled into him, letting her eyes drift closed and her hand rested on her abdomen. Ambrose picked up the pace, wanting to get her to their destination so she could rest comfortably.

He was glad she was asleep when they arrived, thinking it would be more of a surprise this way, and gently woke her. She blinked her eyes, smiling up at him. “We’re here.” He said softly and she turned, her eyes widening and a little gasp escaping her lips when she saw the tree house. “What do you think?”

“It’s beautiful.” She gently pushed until he lowered her feet to the ground. “Did your father build it?”

“He said he repaired it. Apparently fairies and elves build them sometimes and when they move on, they leave them.”

“Can we go up?”

He chuckled. “Of course.” He laced his fingers through hers and took her up the spiral staircase to the top.

Demeter even admired the staircase as they went up. Someone or a family obviously took great time and care to build this. It was beautiful and covered in designs. It made her all the more excited to look inside. If they took this much care with just the stairs she could only imagine the care they took in there. Demeter didn’t let her eagerness make her rush. The last thing she needed was to take a tumble down the steps with a baby in her stomach. She had fast reflex’s and Ambrose was right there but she couldn’t risk it. She already loved this baby too much.

 

Final Chapter

“My dad told me there’s a special word for lighting the interior.” Ambrose said as they stepped inside.

“How did he figure that out?”

“Irim, there’s nothing he doesn’t know.”

Demeter heard him say a short phrase in a language she didn’t understand and she let out a little gasp at the little dots of light that came to life, looking almost like shimmering stars as they hovered near the ceiling. “Oh wow.” She said softly then her eyes swept down and around the room. Everything had been carefully crafted from the forest surrounding the area and she stared in awe as she turned, trying to take everything in. “Oh Ambrose, it’s so beautiful.”

He pulled her into his arms and brushed a kiss to her forehead. “I’m glad you like it.” She teared up and he leaned back to look at her. “Are you alright, my love?”

“Yeah, sorry, I love it, I promise.” She wondered if it was the baby making her emotional.

“Maybe you just need to rest.”

“I’m fine, really, let’s look around first then we can eat.”

“Alright, but you have to promise to relax while I cook for you.”

“I promise.”

He couldn’t resist kissing her again before they both started looking around this amazing tree house. Demeter was surprised it was left vacant for people to visit. Surely someone would want to claim this for their own. Then again, there were risks involved with claiming a vacant home another creature built. They could come back eventually and they may or may not be sane. One morning you could wake up with some lunatic standing over you, angry and wanting answers about why you took up residence.

As promised, when they were done Demeter relaxed in an armchair while Ambrose prepared something for them to eat. She didn’t even realize she had fallen asleep until he was waking her to eat. She wondered if it was normal to be this tired right off the bat. She’d have to ask Belle when they returned home. “Sorry.”

“I was happy to find you getting more rest my love.”

He took her hand and pulled her gently to her feet and to the kitchen table. “How are you feeling?” He asked as they ate.

“Just a little tired, but other than that I’m fine.” She wondered when would be a good time to tell him. She hated that he looked so worried. “It’s okay, I promise, I’m alright.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Ambrose. You really are the sweetest, most adorable man I’ve ever seen.” She had to tease him a little, wanting to get his mind off his concern over her sudden exhaustion.

“Be good, you know I’ll pay you back.” He replied with a grin.

“My big, sweet, strong, cute husband wouldn’t.”

“I would.”

She let out a little laugh. “Then I guess I’ll have to eat slow.”

Demeter did eat slow, smiling here and there. Ambrose finally seemed amused rather than worried which was perfect. Demeter decided she would tell him tomorrow. He was fussing over her anyway so he may as well know the real reason she was tired. As Demeter ate she thought about different ways to tell him, settling on right when he woke up. She imagined he’d wake hilariously fast but most of all she hoped he’d be just as happy and excited as she was.

After dinner Ambrose carried Demeter to the bedroom and began kissing her as he laid her down. It was slow and passionate, the entire evening was and she woke eager for him to get up as well. He slept hard, she guessed it was because of the travel here and all the worrying but Demeter enjoyed admiring him as he slept. She gently ran a hand through his hair, sometimes trailing his skin. When he woke she smiled, almost deciding not to tease him by telling Ambrose first thing in the morning.

Ambrose turned into her, his arms wrapping around her as he snuggled close. He pressed his forehead against her chest and let out a contented sigh. “What are you doing awake my love, it’s far too early?” He asked drowsily.

“It’s actually late for us.”

“How are you feeling then?”

“Happy, a little tired, pregnant.”

“Mmm, that’s good.” She waited a moment and nearly laughed when he pulled back to look at her slightly confused. “Wait, say that again.”

“I’m happy and tired.”

“Demeter.”

“Pregnant, I’m pregnant.” She said with a laugh.

He took her face in his hands. “You’re sure, really sure? I’m not just dreaming?”

“I took a test at your parents.”

He smiled then and crushed her to him, his lips excitedly meeting hers. She started laughing and he pulled back to look at her. “I can’t believe it.” His eyes suddenly flashed with concern. “You’ve been practicing with swords with a baby and then you let me fly you all the way here. Are you okay? Is the baby okay? Maybe we should…”

She kissed him, cutting him off before he got himself too worked up. “Ambrose I’m fine, we’re both fine. I’m not even that far along.”

“Still, if I had known I wouldn’t have flown so fast.” He brushed his nose against hers. “I can’t believe I’m going to be a father.”

“I take it you’re happy?”

“And nervous and terrified, but yes, incredibly happy.

“This is going to be an amazing thing in our lives, I know it. You’re going to be such a good dad and your family is amazing. Your mom is so happy.” Demeter giggled at the memory.

“I bet, I’m surprised she could keep from telling me. I know she told dad the second we left.”

“Yeah, probably, but she promised not to tell anybody else. She wanted to let me be the first to let you know.”

“I promise to be a good dad.”

“You’re a good man, I know you’ll be. Just behave if it’s a girl. I don’t put it past you to strangle some young man.”

“Now that I can’t make promises on.” They both laughed and kissed again, completely wrapped in bliss about their situation.

Just as Demeter knew he would, Ambrose fussed over her even more, often talking to the baby and making sure she was getting enough to eat. He stayed close as they explored the forest and made sure she didn’t push herself to hard. “We’re going to have to ask my mom and aunts how to get your energy back up.” Ambrose said as he carried her back after a hike through the woods. “I don’t like you being so tired all the time, it’s concerning.”

“I’m sure it just depends on the baby.”

“Sorry if I’m being ridiculous.”

“You’re not.” She pressed a kiss to his cheek.

“And what about work, would you take time off? I know you love what you do, you’re amazing at it, but I don’t want either of you getting hurt while you’re pregnant. I know you like being active, but…”

She pressed a finger against his lips. “I will.”

“Thank you. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“I just know stress can cause all kinds of problem in pregnancy. I want you both to come out of this healthy.”

“You’re so sweet.” Their vacation was a peaceful one, filled with nothing but talk of the baby, wonder and laughter. They made sure they left the tree house clean, possibly cleaner than before they arrived. When they arrived home Zane and Belle arranged for a big family get together so they could easily share the news and Demeter would have a house full of experienced women to ask questions so she’d feel confident over the course of her pregnancy. Right away everyone started making their guesses about the gender of their first child. It was fun to think about not only that but what kind of personality their little one would have.

They walked home together that night, Ambrose seeming more at ease after having talked to everyone, having received a list from Irim of foods he had made for Ariel to help keep her healthy, and had been told if there were any complications to come to them right away. They didn’t want them going through anything like what Gabriel and Tawny had gone through. “So, boy or a girl?” Demeter asked and Ambrose pulled her closer.

“Healthy and ready to use a sword.” He answered, making her laugh. “I’ll have my dad teach them how to be terrifying.”

“Ambrose, be good.”

“I am, I’m going to create little warriors. They’ll be beautiful and strong like you and have my charm.” She laughed again and he picked her up and pressed a kiss to her lips. “I love you Demeter.”

“I love you too, you silly man.”

He pressed his forehead against hers. “Thank you for everything, for being my mate and for giving me the gift of a child.”

“Ambrose.” Her voice was soft and she felt herself tear up.

“I can’t wait to meet our little one.” He carried her the rest of the way home and they fell asleep that night wrapped in each others arms, both of them looking forward to this new stage of their lives.

THE END