Belle heard a knock at her door and got up from the puzzle she was doing with her two youngest children to answer “Morning Mrs Koopmann. I have a letter from your husband.”
“Have a wonderful day”
“You too” Belle opened the letter as Ryan and Ediva ran into the kitchen where she sat down, both eager to hear what their dad had said. A smile soon flitted across Belles face and she closed the letter “Guess what?”
“Dads coming home!?” Ediva answered. Belle smiled “we’re taking that trip we’ve been talking about.” Ediva gasped “really?”
“Yep, he says that he’s much closer to Hitoeu than he is to here so he wants us just to fly there ourselves and he’ll meet us there”
“Yay!” Ryan said excitedly then asked “do we need to pack clothes mommy?”
“It’ll be hard to carry our bags in dragon form so we’ll be just fine without them.”
“I wish Gabriel and Tawny could go” Ediva said and Belle smiled “well they’re visiting Tawnys parents right now. We’ll have fun with just the four of us. I do want your bellies full before we fly so how about some sandwiches so we can get on our way?”
“Can we help?” Ediva asked and Belle nodded. They made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which proved messy with a seven and nine year old. Belle knew it would be and didn’t mind. She always had fun when the two little ones would try to help her with things. Gabriel made his fair share of messes growing up in the name of helping her. “are we going to invite Ambrose?” Ryan asked “No sweetie, you know he has to give advanced warning to leave the knights” Even though Ambrose was still abrasive Ryan had seemed to grow really attached to him and loved when he came over. It made Belle feel a little bad since Ambrose had made so much progress in being a better person but it frightened her a little bit how much Ryan looked up to him. She just prayed he wouldn’t corrupt little Ryan in any way before he himself got better.
They ate then Belle cleaned the kitchen, ridding it of dishes and trash since there was no set time they were going to be away. Zane had been really wanting to spend some time with his children so they had been planning to take them somewhere and just have fun until they felt like coming back. “Ok, bathroom break or a drink before we take to the sky?” Belle asked and both kids ran to the bathroom. When they came back Belle said “You two know the rules. You stay with me, no wandering off just because somthing catches your eye. If you’re tired let me know and we’ll land for a bit.”
“Yes mam” They both said at once then locked up the house before shifting into their dragon forms. As Zane landed in Hitoeu he only had the small bit of worry he couldn’t help as he waited. Belle wasn’t quite so defenseless against people with real skill now that she was a dragon. She had even mock fought with her siblings quite a bit and it had really helped her tone her abilities. Fighting as dragons was much more beneficial to her than wrestling, especially because they played rougher since they no longer saw their girly sister. Zane stood happily when he finally saw his wife and his two youngest children. He had been away from them a week and a half and craved hugs from them all, especially his wife.
Belle felt her heart give a leap of joy when Zane embraced her and held her like he always did, almost too tight. She squeezed him back and he pulled back, kissing her lips. “I missed you.” He said softly.
“I missed you too, you look tired.” She replied.
“I’m fine, especially now that my family is here.” He broke away from Belle to hug his children then lifted Ryan onto his shoulders while he picked Ediva up and rested her on his hip. He laced the fingers of his free hand with Belle’s, giving a contented sigh.
“Where are we going dad?” Ediva asked.
“First, we’re getting something to drink because I’m thirsty.”
“You get too caught up in the hunt sometimes love, you should be taking care of yourself better.” Belle said.
“I know, I’m sorry. I also need to shave.”
“Yeah, you get so hairy when you leave us” Ediva said and Belle giggled. It was easy for Zane to find water and food sources now that he was part animal so they soon found a river. Zane let his wife go and set his children down so they all could drink. “you don’t have to waste your time shaving Zane. Shave when you get home” Belle said just before Zane could start “You know it only takes me a few moments. Who knows when we’ll go home and you know I dislike my beard getting long”
“less aerodynamic” she said in a teasing way. He just smiled, delighted to be back with his family. Zane quickly shaved then asked “when did you all last eat? It’s a long flight from our home to here.”
“we’re fine until dinner, right guys?’ Ediva asked, excited to play with her father. you and Ryan alright Belle?”
“Yep” Belle answered and then Ryan. “over dinner I have to tell you about Ambrose and I going camping dad” Ambrose added after his yes. Zane smiled “your older brother took you camping?”
“Yeah, we had man time. No girls allowed”
“what did you girls do since dinner will be occupied with what Ryan did”
“You know how addicted Ediva is to putting together puzzles. I bought her some new ones and we did them together while making sweets”
“they were the best dad! Ambrose and I had some of what they made when he brought me home” Ryan said excitedly mere seconds after his mother finished her sentence. Zanes face somhow glowed even more “All of your moms food is delicious and Ediva is learning pretty quick”
“I’m glad Ambrose let me know cooking is for girls. They can have fun with that all they want”
“I cook” Zane said to his son. “well your an assassin. Theres no way you can unmanly yourself so cooking for you is fine” Zane chuckled “I wouldn’t follow Ambroses advice on the world son.”
“Ambrose is cool dad” Zane sighed “well enough of that for now. Why dont we all play tag and I’m it? The tree with almost all red leaves is base”
‘where was that?” Ediva asked and Zane pointed “Oh, ok”
“You three get your head start”
Zane closed his eyes and started counting and he smiled at the sound of retreating footsteps and the giggles of his children. He could tell that Ediva and Ryan were running together because Ryan, though younger was protective of his sister. When he reached one hundred he opened his eyes and looked around, spotting Belle’s trail first. He followed it slowly, smiling when he saw she had hopped a stream in the hopes of eluding him. “Dearest love, I know you’re close.” When no answer came he inhaled the air. “Belle, I can smell you.”
“You’re not playing fair.” She said, but still didn’t come out.
“I’m using all of my skills to find you, it’s completely fair.” He walked slowly toward where her voice had come from and found her hiding behind a boulder. “Gotcha.” He said as he grabbed her arm.
“You totally cheated.”
He pulled her to her feet and kissed her. “I tried taking my time. Sorry, next time I’ll go really slow.” He kissed her again then lifted her into his arms. “Come on beautiful, lets go find the children.”
She gave a happy smile as he walked, pretending it was harder to find Ediva and Ryan. Ediva and Ryan never got tired of this game so they all took turns being the seeker until dinner time came. “Can i help you dad?” Ryan asked then Ediva stood “Me too daddy!”
“Of course you two can.” Zane and his two children shifted into dragon form and flew off, the little ones following their dad. Belles heart felt warm as she softly smiled at her leaving family. Everything felt so perfect and happy when they were together. She was glad Zane wanted to take some time just to be out and have fun with eachother. Soon she would have to plan a trip where Amborse, Gabriel Jr and Tawny could come along. Belle even considered having Tawny invite her parents so they could have the opportunity to get acquainted. Tawnys had been around for years but they still hadn’t met her parents yet.
Belle decided she would run by Zane if he wanted to include them in a family trip like this. When they came back Zane was carrying a boar. “I spotted it mom” Ryan said proudly once he was in human form. “good job”
‘I need to be observant if I’m going to be a knight like Ambrose”
“Thats very true” As the food began to cook Zane asked “So, tell me about this camping trip you had with Ambrose.” Ryan rambled on about how fun it was and all the impressive things Ambrose showed him and did with him. Ryan was still talking in his adoring way long after they finished dinner. Zane was resting his head on Belles as he listened intently to his son. He had both Belle and Ediva resting against him in his lap.
When Ryan had nothing more to tell his father they all laid down. Zane would have loved to hold his wife but when they were out like this their two children slept between them to be sure they were safe during the night. Zane knew he could protect them no matter what but he felt better knowing his two children were between him and his wife.
It was the snapping of a twig that woke Zane the next morning and he laid perfectly still, his hand on his dagger, his breathing even and shallow. The sound of boots approached him from behind and stopped about a foot from him. He could sense the person leaning down and he turned, grabbing the arm of the man and pulling him while planting his feet in the man’s chest and sending him flying over Belle, Ediva and Ryan. The sound of the man hitting the ground woke Belle and the children and they sat up, finding Zane crouched between them and the stranger, ready to pounce.
“Who are you?” Zane asked as the very surprised man rolled over and pushed himself back so he was sitting.
“That was fast.”
“Did you hear what I asked? Tell me who you are and why you were skulking around the forest or I might have to assume you are my enemy and do more than throw you.”
“I wasn’t skulking I has flying and my name is Caerus. I saw you four laying on the ground and I stopped to make sure everyone was alive. This forest can be pretty dangerous.”
“Not to my dad, he’ll tear anything in half that tries touching us.” Ryan said.
“Thank you for your concern, but I don’t appreciate being snuck up on. I could have easily killed you.” Zane stood and held out his hand to Caerus. He took it and Zane pulled him to his feet. “These are my children Ediva and Ryan.” He gestured to his children who shook his hand politely. “I am Zane and this is my wife Belle.” Belle slipped her hand in Caerus’ and smiled up at him. She felt he lingered a little to long on their handshake so gently tugged her hand away.
He gave her a smile that she couldn’t quite read then Ryan asked “can I see what you look like in dragon form?”
“Of course little one” Caerus moved away and shifted into the deep red dragon he was. “awesome! you’re red like me!” Ryan said excitedly and Caerus shifted back. “Nice, what color are you Belle?”
“You don’t want to show me?”
“I guess” Belle shifted, only staying in that form a few brief moments before shifting back. “Beautiful. How are you all dragons? I can tell you and Zane were born human”
“My sister Ariel married Irim and she didn’t want to lose her family so he changed us all for her”
‘wow, Irim. Hows that old man?”
“great, very happy with my sister”
“Mom, talking is boring. We want to play like we came here to do” Ediva said as she grabbed her mothers hand. “I’m sorry sweetie.” Belle looked at Zane “what’re we doing today?”
“I thought we’d go on a nice hike since Ryan and Ediva love them so much”
“Yay!” Ediva said which was immediately followed by and awesome from Ryan. “Could I come?’ Caerus asked and Ryan said “yeah! He’s awesome! Let us hangout with him. Maybe dad will get the chance to show off how cool he is” Zane smiled at his son “alright then, he didn’t have any ill will sneaking up on us like that so he’s welcome” Zane said, once again ignoring his dislike for males around his wife for the happiness of his family. They had plenty of decent men in their lives and he knew it was wrong to judge them all based on the bad men in the world.
It wasnt even real work any longer to make himself accepting to male friends around his wife. They all shifted and flew to the path Zane guided them to before shifting back into humans. “so, have you always been a dragon?” Ediva asked and he smiled at her “Yes, I’m pure breed and incredibly old. Irim is but two years older than me”
“wow, I’m glad I get to live my life as a dragon. Its so cool”
“you are a lucky young woman in many ways Ediva” They enjoyed nature and talking to eachother as they hiked the long trail. This was the first time he had taken Ediva and Ryan here. Gabriel had been with them on this trail a few times and loved it himself. Now the only child that hadnt come here was Ambrose. He often refused to go on family trips growing up and when they forced him he was a bigger ass than normal the whole time so as he grew older they just left him home so he couldn’t ruin everyone elses fun.
“So is it just you three?” Caerus asked Belle.
“Today it is, I have two older boys. One took after his father and the other is knight.”
“You bear strong children.”
Belle cleared her throat. “I guess, but I would love all of my children no matter their strengths or weaknesses. It’s a mother’s job to love unconditionally.” She moved a little closer to Zane and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
“The strong get ahead in this world.”
“Not always.” Zane interjected. “Sometimes it is those you see as weak that have the greatest strengths and the biggest hearts.” He went back to enjoying being out with his family, beginning to feel uneasy about Caerus. All of his alarms were going off and he hoped it was just his uneasiness with Caerus being male.
“You okay love?” Belle asked with a warm smile.
“Of course, happy as can be.”
Ediva and Ryan became tired so Zane carried them until they came upon some large rocks they could sit on. As they sat Ryan began bragging about his older brothers, Ambrose more than Gabriel as always. Caerus listened, occasionally glancing at Belles beauty. She had such pretty children and her older two had grown up to apparently be strong men. As Caerus listened to Ryan talk he was becoming more consumed with the childs mother. Belle was everything he was looking for in a mate and he felt he deserved her more than Zane since he was a pure bred dragon. She wasn’t pure but that shortcoming was far from made up for in her beauty and the children she produced. He decided he would even be willing to let her have the children she had birthed for Zane because they seemed to be such amazing creatures themselves.
Caerus could only imagine the children she would bare for a pure bred dragon. “I’m ready if to go on if you are Ryan” Ediva said and Ryan stood “Ok, how long is this hiking trail dad?” Ryan asked Zane. “It’ll be nearly night when we reach it’s end. As we did with Gabriel I thought we would just rest up there. Afterwords we will all fly down to the bottom of this mountain.”
Talking about doing this with Gabriel made Belle think of wanting to have a big family trip soon but she wanted to discuss it in private just incase Zane didn’t want Tawnys parents to go. She didn’t want the children telling Tawny or Gabriel jr Zane didn’t want to spend time with her parents”
They started walking again, stopping to eat black berries and drink water as they went along. They let Ediva and Ryan run ahead, delighting in their giggles and excited talking as they found something interesting on the ground they had never seen before or noticed an animal jumping or soaring through the forest. Belle yawned and Zane lifted her without missing a step. “Silly man, you don’t have to carry me.”
“I like carrying you.” He kissed her cheek and she giggled.
“You’re always so sweet. I have to admit, I missed this.”
“As did I, not having you close was torture.”
Caerus wrinkled his nose at their flirting. He didn’t understand what Belle saw in this man who smelled of death and blood. He himself was stronger, older, and far wiser than any creature that had been made into a dragon. To him Zane was still only human and pathetically weak compared to himself. “Dad, look what Ediva found.” Ryan yelled and Zane hurried up the trail.
“What is it buddy?” Zane asked.
“An egg, I found an egg.” Ediva said and held out her hand. It was a small blue egg with white speckles. Zane looked up and could see the nest it had been knocked from. He put Belle down and took the egg gently in his hand then began climbing the tree. He sat the egg gently in its nest and dropped down.
“There, now the mommy bird can find her baby. I bet she was worried sick.” Zane said with a big smile.
“You’re so awesome dad.” Ryan said and Zane tussled his hair.
It was sunset when they arrived at the top and the children were absolutely covered in dirt from their trip so far “Zane, why don’t you and Caerus find food for dinner tonight while I find water to bathe our children”
“alright, anything you want?”
“No, anything will do” They all shifted and went their separate ways, the kids with Belle and Caerus with Zane. Belle found a nice body of water then stripped her kids down to their underwear. “this water is so cold” Ediva said so her brother began breathing fire on it. “thank you Ryan” Ediva said when it was warm enough. “that was sweet of you Ryan” Belle added as she guarded her children while they bathed. When they were clean the two put on their wet clothes their mother had washed then began playing. They knew Zane and Caerus would just come to them with food.
Zane couldn’t help but notice how competitive Caerus was being during the hunt. He had even caught food for himself, not wanting to eat a kill Zane made. Before they took off Zane turned to human form and Caerus did the same “what?’ Caerus asked Zane. “I understand being a man and all and wanting to catch your own food but i feel like you’re competing with me. You’ve made me very uncomfortable.”
“male dragons often compete”
“why compete with me though if we’re supposed to be friends?”
“you can’t handle friendly competition? Are you that afraid Belle could see another mate more desirable than you?”
“No, Belle loves me and the way your acting doesn’t seem friendly atall”
“I’m sorry, you just havent been raised among true dragons like myself. Males compete, especially when one has such a good mate. Did Irim not teach you of the ways of dragons?’
‘He taught me the ways of archaic dragons”
“Your offspring and mate will be getting hungry. I think it’s best we go. Sorry to ruffle you young one”
“I might be young in dragon years, but I’m far older than you in human and far more skilled so don’t think you know all.” Zane shifted back to his dragon form and grabbed the game he had caught before taking to the air.
Belle could tell Zane was irritated when he and Caerus landed. She came to her feet, crossing over to him as he shifted back to his human form. Even when he smiled at her, she could see in his eyes that he was mad. “Zane?”
“Don’t worry about it right now baby, lets just get this food cooked for you and the kids. I’m sure you’re starving.”
She smiled and kissed him. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Zane took his kill a little ways away then skinned and gutted it. He cleaned of the hair in the water then made a fire to cook it over. “Why don’t you blow fire to cook it, it’s a lot faster.” Caerus said snidely.
“We do it like this so the kids can keep playing and we can spend time together.” Belle replied, not liking the way Caerus was speaking to her husband. “We humans enjoy our time together.”
“But you’re not human.”
“At heart we are who we have always been. Even Irim and Barnum know this and enjoy being with their mates.”
“I would enjoy my mate if I had one. I just wouldn’t have to be cooking to do it” Caerus said with slight irritation to Belle. “when you have kids you have to create time together” Belle answered. “so you have to figure out ways to be with your mate? He should keep you at his side Belle”
“You are just being pig headed and honestly rude to my husband.”
“Because he isn’t a suitable mate for you” Caerus said, standing as an act of challenge. Zane recognized it and stood. He pulled Belle behind him and rested his hand on his blade. Ryan took his sisters hand, worried he might have to run with her. “you are not welcome with us any longer. You will leave right now while you can.”
“Not before i challenge you for your mate Zane Koopmann.”
“Belle isn’t somthing to be fought over. It’s insulting to my wife to do this. it’s not even somthing recent dragons do. That was left behind”
“ah but I’m sure Irim informed you that by dragons law you have to accept my challenge. You are dragons and have to go by our ways. You will fight me dragon to dragon. Thats how this challenge is meant to be waged and we’ll do it as such unless you are too much of a weakling to defend your mate with your dragons skills” Zane growled “baby, you’ll win. Get rid of him” Belle said and started walking to her children. Ediva ran into her mothers arms ‘sh, you know daddy wont let him take us away”
“Dad can do anything.” Ryan added and rubbed his sister’s back.
“We’ll see won’t we?”
“So how do we do this?” Zane asked.
“We fight, using all of our dragon skills, and whoever is left standing is the victor.”
“Fine, I’ll play, but away from my family. I don’t want them getting hurt. There is a clearing not far from here, lets use that as our battleground.”
“Awe don’t want your mate seeing your defeat, I guess I understand.”
Belle watched as they shifted into their dragon forms then took to the sky, their wings kicking up dirt. She knew her husband could beat Caerus, knew he would never lay down even though he wasn’t as skilled a dragon as people like Irim. It just wasn’t his way. “Mom, what do we do?” Ryan asked.
“I don’t know sweetie.” She answered.
“What about Uncle Irim, he’s scary sometimes.” Ediva said.
“I can’t leave your father, he’s going to need me here to cheer him on.”
“Then we’ll go mom. We’re tough enough and smart enough.” Ryan replied, completely serious.
“Mom, please. Dad would let us go.”
She sighed. “Alright, but fly fast and don’t stop for anyone or anything unless you know them. After you talk to Irim I want you to go directly to Ambrose.”
“You two stay close together.”
“Yes ma’am.” She didn’t know how long it would take them to get to Irim, but she had to trust in their abilities as dragons even though they were so young. Irim himself had said they showed promise.
“Okay, go before I change my mind.” She kissed them both on the head and they shifted then pushed off the ground.
Belle shifted into her dragon form and flew close enough to them to see the battle. She didn’t enjoy fighting but she wanted her husband to see her and be able to see how he was doing. Ryan and Ediva flew quickly, hoping it would even matter they were getting their Uncle. He lived so far away it would be the next day by the time they returned. Ryna hadn’t thought of this when he first suggested getting him but if Caerus somhow won and took their mother Irim would atleast be able to get her back.
Ryan hoped his dad wouldn’t be hurt atall by their lack of faith but Ediva felt much better this way. Belle roared happily everytime Zane would manage to pin Caerus or get a nice bite in. The night was filled with frightened wildlife as their flames filled the sky and rushed across the field. Belle hoped they didn’t cause a serious fire. Countless animals could lose their homes if it spread too much.
Zane growled at Caerus as they circled each other, teeth bared in rage. Now was the only time he would thank his father for all the training he had put him through. It kept him on his feet, stopped him from giving in to exhaustion. He could ignore it so easily, the pain, the labored breathing, it was nothing compared to what Belle meant to him. He would walk through the fires of Hell if it was what she wanted, there was no way he was letting another dragon have his wife. He and Caerus came together again, all slashing claws and gnashing teeth, drawing blood that ran down their scales and into the dirt. Caerus grabbed him by his neck and hurled him to the forest, knocking down trees as he rolled.
“You should just give up Zane, you’re not skilled enough to defeat me.” Caerus’ voice was a deep rumbling growl, his tone pretentious.
Zane pushed himself up and growled. “You can’t have her. She’s not a possession.”
“You are a weak willed mate, letting a woman control you.”
Zane roared at him and attacked. Belle wanted to help, but didn’t want to make it worse. She knew if she got hurt Zane would blame himself and she also wasn’t willing to make him split his focus. She dropped down, shifting and landing in a tree. She felt herself tearing up, a knot forming in her throat. She hated seeing him bleeding and hurt. Her tears slipped down her cheeks and she quickly wiped them away. Caerus threw Zane again and she couldn’t take it anymore. She climbed down out of the tree and ran between the two of them.
“Stop.” She screamed.
“Now, now Belle, that’s cheating. Get out of the way.” Caerus replied.
“No, leave us alone you pompous idiot. I don’t want you, I don’t even like you. How dare you come here and threaten my family.” He shifted to his human form.
“Get out of the way, now or tell him to admit defeat and come be with me.”
“I’d rather die than be with you.” She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see Zane back on his feet. “Zane.”
“It’s okay Belle, he’s had his fun so now I’ll have mine.” He spit out the blood in his mouth. “You can use your dragon form if you want, I could care less, but I’m going to be using my human one as well as my blades which I think count as claws.”
“That means you’ve broken the rules and Belle is now my mate.”
Zane chuckled. “I’m not breaking the rules, I’m rewriting them. Belle I want you to go on and go back to where you were. I don’t want you getting hurt because this moron could care less abut where he breathes fire or when he throws me so please go back.”
“I’ll be okay baby, even if I don’t win, I’m going to do him a world of damage.”
“I know you’ll win. You’d never let anything take us away” Caerus growled and Belle gave him a quick glare before shifting into a dragon and flying away. “she wont be so mouthy when she’s mine” Zane smiled in almost a psychotic way “Belle cant be tamed and thats part of why i love her. She is a good woman who stands up for what she believes in. She’s amazing and you don’t deserve her. Not when you’d treat her like shes your property instead of your equal. She’s far better than you’ll ever be”
Caerus shifted and tried to spit flames at Zane but he was too fast. His reflexs had been honed as a human and now he could really use them. Caerus wasn’t the first dragon he had fought and he was determined this wouldn’t be the first time he lost to one, not with such high stakes. Zane pulled out his specially made blade for fighting dragons. It was still hard to cut them but would still do damage unlike other blades as he tried to get to the spot on his head that would kill him. This was a death match so Zane had no other choice.
Irim sped through the air, furious, smoke curling out of his nose. He knew of the dragon Caerus, of his idiocy. Going against Zane was pure idiocy, especially when it was over Belle. He went at top speed, wanting to get there before it was too late. He knew what Zane would do. Belle watched in terrified silence as Zane rolled, dodged and jumped, his knife slicing through Caerus’ scales and causing him to roar in pain. She knew what Zane was trying to do, that he wanted to kill this man who had challenged him. She knew the dragon was stupid, but she didn’t think he deserved to die. Watching her husband was scary, the way he attacked without remorse. She never saw this part of him, he hid it from her, always washed the blood from his hands before he came to her. She hadn’t realized how brutal it actually was until that moment.
“Zane.” She yelled as Caerus snapped at him and Zane jumped, landing on the dragon’s head. He stabbed down, missing the soft spot as Caerus threw him off. “Zane stop.” She ran toward them as Zane slashed Caerus’ face. She came in between them, grabbing Zane’s arm. “Stop, please stop.” She yelled, her voice shaking.
She felt the heat of Caerus’ breath on her back and she braced for impact, but the ground suddenly shook beneath them and a loud roar filled the forest. Belle turned around, her heart speeding up when she saw the huge black dragon, its amber eyes burning with fury. Irim was so much bigger than Caerus and far more terrifying, smoke coming out of his nose and mouth.
Caerus actually seemed smart enough to be afraid “back off you imbecile!” Irim said angrily. “I want Belle. This is between Zane and I”
“You’re a pathetic lowlife. Challenging for a mate? We dragons ahve moved passed that nonsense! it’s time you do too caerus! Stay away from my family!” caerus growled, feeling his injuries from Zane. He also knew he had no chance of winning a fight with irim “I dont like her mouth anyway” Caerus flew off, badly injured but he would live. “Zane and Belle, get on my back and I’ll carry you to your children. i left them with Ariel” Belle walked away from Zane worldessly and Zane took her hand “love, are you ok?’ he asked since she looked so sullen. “Lets just get to our children Zane”
Belle climbed up Irim then Zane settled behind her, pulling Belle against him. “honey, the way you looked at me” he said sadly into her shoulder. She had seen him fighting. She had seen the heartless place he went to when it was time for him to kill. This was a point in time he never wanted to happen and he was terrified Belle was afraid of him. He swallowed some of his own blood as she said “lets talk about this once you’re tended to and we can comfort the children”
He held tighter “I love you so much Belle. You are my everything. He was trying to take you away” Upon arriving Ryan and Ediva ran out with their Aunt Ariel to give hugs. Irim shifted back to human, hugging his mate while the kids hugged their parents. “daddy, you ok?” Ediva askd and he gave her a sad smile “I think so beautiful. Daddys in a lot of pain and needs your mother to tend to him.”
“is that man coming?”
“No, Uncle Irim and I took care of him”
‘Thank goodness” Ariel gathered the children to get them in bed now that their parents were there. Irim gave them a first aid kit then guided Belle and Zane to a room.
Zane sat there looking like a whipped dog while Belle tended to his wounds. He neither spoke nor flinched, just looked sad and terrified. “I never knew what it meant to be an assassin until tonight.” Belle finally said and he swallowed nervously. “I never understood what lurks beneath this face until now, the dark place you must go to too be what you are.”
“I’m not done.” He closed his mouth and she went back to cleaning his wounds. For the first time in his life he could not read her face and it shook him to the core. She took a breath and continued. “It was scary watching you go at Caerus like that and I know you were planning on killing him. I could see it on your face.”
“I never wanted you to know that part of me. I never wanted you to see the monster that I have to be.” He kept himself from crying, not wanting to guilt her into anything. He held up his hands. “Now you know what these are used for, now you know that they are covered in so much blood it still stains them.”
Belle took his hands between hers and gave them a gentle squeeze. “I have always known what these hands are for Zane. They are for loving me, holding me and wiping away my tears. They are for bringing our children into this world and cradling them gently, but protectively against your chest. They are used to protect not only me, but many innocent lives, they are tools of vengeance and retribution. You hold my heart in them and keep it safe, keep it whole. These hands are not stained with blood, they are perfect the way they are and they do exactly what they must.” She kissed his finger tips and he swallowed the lump in his throat.
“And what of the cold blooded killer I must become?”
“I was scared and shocked simply because I never expected it to be like that. I think I may have deluded myself a bit. I know you have to kill, though I never really understood how it was done and that is my fault. I don’t like violence, but I know it is necessary in your line of work. I won’t run from you Zane, I promise. I love you more than life, you are my heart and soul, the very air I breathe and nothing will change that.”
He crushed her to him, his tears finally breaking free as he pressed his lips into hers. “I love you, I love you so much.” He said between sobs and kisses. He pulled her onto the bed, his kisses frantic and needy, his heart hammering against his chest. “Stay with me always.”
“I will baby, I promise.” His tears were breaking her heart. She held him lovingly in her arms, giving herself over to him completely, showing him that she trusted him with the entirety of who she was. His hands pulled at her clothes and his, slid gently but possessively over her body, his lips following where his fingers lead so she was moaning and writhing uncontrollably on the bed. She could feel his tears fall onto her skin and she pulled him up, kissing him as he thrust into her and found solace in the warmth of her body. She danced and quivered around him and his hoarse cry filled the room as he climaxed. He sat back, taking her with him so she sat straddling him and held her tightly against him, his forehead pressed into her shoulder as he cried.
“I love you Belle.”
“Shh, I love you too always and forever.”
“I can’t ever lose you”
“and I can’t ever lose you Zane. I truly love you with all that I am” Zane held her this way until she said softly. “we should get some sleep”
“I’m still bloody”
“You can shower in the morning with me”
“You really don’t mind?”
“Not atall Zane” He kissed her again before cuddling with his mate under the covers. It was Edivas knocking that woke them the next day. “Mom! Dad! Aunt Ariel made breakfast!”
“let us shower and we’ll be right down” Belle said sleepily. They heard Ediva run away so they got out of the bed and walked over to the bathroom. Zane pulled Belle into another hug once they were standing in the shower. She kissed his bare chest “I’m not going anywhere Zane”
“I know, yesterday was just so hard”
“This wont set you back when it comes to men right?”
“No, we have plenty of nice male friends. I’m not going to take off everyones head out of fear a man might come onto you or challenge me as Caerus did. Nobody can take you from me. I wish I could control my feelings and not get jealous atall but atleast i can control how I behave” Belle stroked his cheek lovingly before moving so he could be directly in the water. She scrubbed him then he her. By the time they arrived at breakfast everyone was sitting and greeted them with smiles “You feel alright Zane?” Irim asked. “Yeah, a little sore but I’ll be alright”
“good, I was worried when the children arrived here. Caerus is strong but he is also stupid.”
“He’s a jerk” Ediva added as she put her fork into a piece of pancake much too hard. “thanks for laying clothes in our bathroom for us” Belle said to Ariel. “I figured you two would need somthing else to wear. Just keep those when you go home”
“Can we visit here awhile since we were having a family vacation anyway?” Ryan asked and Zane answered “If irim and Ariel have no plans”
“Please stay, we’ve missed you guys” Ariel quickly answered. “then we’ll hang around here awhile” Belle said as she sat down with Zane. They spent what time they would have spent out there having fun with Ariel and Irim. Belle eventually talked to Zane about the next trip she wanted to make and to her surprise he was willing and happy to even after the events of this outing. She was proud of Zane and admired him more than he knew. He had been there since the day she was born and Belle knew he would be with her until the end of their days.
~ The End ~