Chapter 22 - A Walk Down Memory Lane
Vulcan Romanov’s P.O.V.
I burst through the open doors of the house and race down the driveway, heading towards the forest. A snarl escapes me in anger over what has just transpired minutes ago. I curse Ruxin; my wolf, and Vladimir; my vampire, angry that they had taken over and caused me to hurt her, hearing their whimpers in reply.
Pumping my legs faster, I bound into the dark forest, my sight adjusting to the night which allows me to see clearly. I jump over fallen trees and increase my speed with every minute.
How could I hurt her? I ask myself in disgust like I have been doing ever since I left the house. After seeing Aurora hug another man and letting him touch her, something just snapped within me. This morning, I had woken up to a blood lust and yelled at Indigo to chain me up in the dungeons until a nearby witch recast the spell on my pendant to keep my vampire side at bay.
I had convinced Aurora to spend the night with me, but as soon as I pulled her close to me in bed, the pull tightened and urged me to mark her. It didn’t help that her hair was swept away from her neck which revealed the area where my mark would soon lay. It took a lot of self-control to restrain myself from hurting her. The pendant was doing very little to keep my beasts at bay this morning and I knew I had to get away from my sleeping angel as soon as the sun came up before I lost control.
“She’s ours! You should’ve killed the boy!” My beasts roar at me from inside my head.
Not wanting to deal with them right now, I block them out and ignore their protests. Jumping over yet another log, my thoughts return to, Aurora. She has accepted me for who I am and I hurt her. The only person who I’m supposed to care and cherish for the rest of my life.
I remember how she kept trying to tell me that it’s okay but it isn’t! I hit her, a woman who I care about; my woman. I have never been so angry and ashamed at myself. I should have listened to her, should have seen her but I didn’t. I was too busy being an ass. I’m going out of my mind knowing she probably hates me right now and wants to leave.
Would she have left already? I skid to a stop, making dirt fly up underneath my paws as I turn back to race to my house. She won’t leave me. I will grovel at her feet, beg for forgiveness but I won’t let her go. Aurora Maxwell, my light, is the only thing in this world keeping me sane.
I push myself harder, making it back to the house in no time. Running upstairs, I find myself unable to shift out of my wolf form because of how tense my beasts and I are. As I draw closer to my bedroom, I hear Aurora’s soft, even breaths and normal heartbeat.
Sighing in relief when I see that she has left it open, I slip in. My eyes adjust to the dark room, the only light being the lamp on the bedside table. But that’s not what I’m looking at. My attention is solely on my sleeping mate, curled up into a ball on the bed with my sweater covering more than half of her body.
Ruxin and Vladimir both whine lowly when I see the dried tears on her cheeks. I step back and pull up the hem of my sweater slowly, using my teeth. I want her to wake up and give me the cruelest of punishments when I see what I’ve done. My beasts whimper even louder at the sight of angry, red scratch marks and dark bruises littering her once perfect skin. I push myself closer to her and start licking her wounds, hoping I’m not hurting her.
A soft groan escapes her pouty lips making me want to kiss the pain away. I continue, content in tending to my mate whilst she sleeps, pain free. Suddenly, her stunning, grey eyes snap open and she shoots up. Gasping at the sight of my wolf, she scoots back making me whine and graze my paw against the floor. Looking back at me in surprise, she recognizes me and jumps off the bed. Rounding the corner of it, she stands on her tip toes and wraps her arms around my large neck. A strange, choking sound leaves my lips as I laugh at how small she is.
″You came back.″ She whispers, running her hand through my fur. ″Don’t do that ever again! I w-waited for you...for s-so long but...″
I cut her off with a nudge. It kills me to see her cry, especially when it’s because of me. I nuzzle my large head into her side, pawing at the ground in restlessness. She hiccups adorably before leaning against my body and clutching onto my fur.
″Don’t ever leave me again.″ She mumbles before covering up her yawn with her hand.
I stand there on the carpet as my mate cuddles into my warm body, sighing softly. My wolf continuously purrs and licks her cheek which makes her shriek in surprise, her small hand gently smacking my fur.
″Can you change back?″
I nod, nuzzling my snout into her neck and hearing her giggle before walking to my wardrobe. Shifting back, I put on my clothes and just stand there, hesitating. I’ll try and control my beasts, even if it means hurting myself. I’ll do anything for her and I’ll accept any punishment she gives me.
Letting out a deep breath, I step back into the room only to stop and stare at my mate. She’s on my bed, her legs crossed and tracing some pattern into the covers aimlessly. Her shoulder-length, curly, black hair is now a sexy bed head, eyes dim grey and her baby pink lips look very kissable.
After what had happened in my past, I became depressed and angry at how my life had turned out. I had lost my parents, people were after my title and when I thought I had one shot at happiness, I came out scarred like I had never imagined. I’m reluctant to trust anyone ever again, especially when I found out I had been given a mate.
Aurora Maxwell means everything to me now, even when I have tried so hard to let her be. My insecurities over relationships cloud my mind daily, but Aurora has managed to break through the walls I have worked so hard to put up and show me what having a mate is actually like.
I snap out of it when she notices me. Smiling reassuringly, she holds out her hand and gestures me to come forward. I, however, seem to have lost my tongue. Unable to form words, I walk over to the bed slowly and pick her up. She curls up on my lap, her head resting on my shoulder and a hand stroking my arm.
″I’m sorry.″ I breath out and I guess that’s when the dam breaks. ″Fuck! I am so sorry, Aurora. I didn’t mean to hurt you - I just - he was touching you and I just lost it. I know saying that my vampire side has awakened would be a shit excuse, I’m such a monster.”
She leans up to wrap her arms around my neck, hushing me as I tighten my hold on her. Kissing the curve of her neck, I breath in her delicious scent. Her soft, melodic voice soon fills the air, just as sweet as her scent.
″I know you wouldn’t hurt me intentionally, Vulcan. It’s alright, I forgive you.″
″No, it’s not! I threw you into a chest of drawers Aurora and my hit is much stronger and painful for a human. Look what I did to you!″ I growl, pulling up her sweater.
″Well, what do you want me to do?″ She pulls away to frown up at me.
″Punish me! Why are you not angry?!″
She rolls her stormy, grey eyes before shaking her head. ″Fine, you must make it up to me.″
I nod, unknowingly rubbing her back. ″I’ll do anything.″
″Okay um...you have to tell the whole pack that you love the wolf I got you and that I’m the coolest person in the entire world, let me buy video games because your place is boring. Also, you’ll let me give you a makeover and you have to walk around the pack house -″
″What about just our house?″ I ask with a pleading face.
If any of my men see me, I’ll get teased for days not to mention I will lose all my manliness. Maybe setting punishments myself was a better idea.
″Then that’s not a punishment, now is it?″ She grins up at me, wickedly. ″You also have to entertain me and take me out to have my favorite food!″
I sigh, these aren’t punishments at all, rather like spending more time with her than usual. Relaying my thoughts to her, I grip the back of her thighs as she leans up and gives me a long kiss. My fingers dig in to her waist tightly, holding her close to me as she causes my lust for her to rise within.
Pulling back, she smiles down at me. ″But that’s exactly what I want. Do you not want to spend time with me?″
I stare down at her, incredulously. How can she think that I don’t want to spend time with her? ″If I had my way, I’d clear my whole schedule. Aurora, please forgive me.″
″I already have, Vulcan.″ A soft laugh escapes her lips, making me want to pin her under me and kiss her until she begs to be let go.
Aurora Maxwell’s P.O.V.
The next morning.
″I’d like to officially introduce you all to your Luna and my mate, Aurora Maxwell.″ I smile down at the crowd of 800 plus pack members shyly and wave, receiving cheers and hollers in reply.
Vulcan and I had held a private meeting with the Council and the elders of this pack where I pledged my allegiance to them; to be loyal, to protect and to stand by them all in hard times. Next, I had repeated my pledge and made my vow to Vulcan, just like he did to me. I had a tiny cut on the inside of my palm that’s in the process of healing, it’s where my blood had been drawn from to seal the vows.
″I’ll get you anything you want. I’ll even be your slave for the rest of my life but please, don’t make me do this.″ He murmurs, looking out at the bonfire.
I chuckle before patting his cheek. ″If I remember correctly, which I do, you are the one who wanted me to punish you and it’s long overdue.″
I place the stuffed wolf in his hand and step away, grinning at him. He grips the toy and glares at me like an angry kid, jaw clenched tightly. Wiggling my eyebrows, I gesture for him to step up to the mic. Indigo chuckles beside me when he sighs and walks slowly, obviously stalling. I wink at him when he looks back at me one, last time before speaking into the microphone.
″And one, last thing. This present from my mate,″ He shoots everyone a glare when the crowd snickers as he holds the wolf up high. ″Beats any other gift I’ve been given and... Aurora Maxwell is the coolest person on the planet.″
Everyone becomes silent for a moment before we all burst out laughing. I clutch my stomach and hold onto Indigo’s shoulder when I see Vulcan roll his eyes and shout at some members to start the barbecue. He then turns towards me with a predatory look in his eyes. Squealing, I hop off the large rock and disappear into the crowd.
The evening passes with him introducing me to members of the pack and making small conversation with them before I’m whisked away to be greeted by another. It’s almost overwhelming had Vulcan not been by my side to calm me down whenever I became too flustered.
As I’m making my way to the table of food, I spot Alex sitting by himself on one of the logs placed around the large bonfire. Vulcan had invited Damon’s pack to the bonfire also, so everyone from home is with me. I pick up a plate and stack it up with food before walking over to Alex.
Sitting beside him, I take a bite out of my delicious burger. ″What’s up, stranger?″
″I should be saying that, where were you today? You didn’t show up in school.″ He smirks knowingly, taking a massive bite of his burger.
″Something important came up.″ I shrug and look away, dragging a piece of pepper off the skewer and popping it into my mouth.
He bursts into a fit of chuckles. ″Yeah? Like sleeping in?″
I wink at him with a huge grin, both of us breaking out into laughter at how many times I have been late to school because of this. Alex shakes his head in amusement before I see his hand sneak onto my plate and head towards the skewer. Slapping it, I roll my eyes when he cries out in shock and pouts before wrapping me up in his tight bear hug that I hate because I can barely breath.
I’m trying to push him away with my hand when a thunderous growl echoes through the air. Alex instantly pulls back as if I’ve burned him, making me shoot him a disbelieving look. He snickers under his breath, knowing how possessive my mate can get before standing and walking away.
I glare at Vulcan before huffing and turning to eat my food again. I cuss him out as I eat, only stopping whenever a group of pack kids would run past. Damon and Sophia sit down on a log on the opposite side of the bonfire but I can still hear their chuckles which are aimed directly at me. I then feel him take a seat beside me but I keep my gaze on the burning wood.
Eventually, I can’t take the silence anymore and face him. ″For once, can you not be a possessive male?!″
″I’m a Lycan, it’s in our nature.″ He deadpans making me imitate him in a low, deep voice that sounds nowhere near close to how he speaks, making him shoot me a glare.
″We are just friends. Why do you have to growl every time I’m with him or any of the boys?″
″I don’t like him. He touches you too much.″
″All he did was give me a friendly hug, Vulcan. That’s nothing to - stop stealing my food!″ I shove him, pouting down at the empty skewer left on my plate.
I’m pulled onto his lap and held in a tight grip while he puts the plate beside him and away from me. A crowd of people are obviously listening in to our conversation, or argument more like, making me blush in embarrassment. Vulcan taps my lips whilst holding out the last piece of chicken, making me narrow my eyes at him and cross my arms.
″You. Are. Ridiculous! I do have hands you know.″
He shrugs indifferently. ″I know. Now eat.″
I’m yanked forward and his lips brush against my ear making me shiver at the tingles that follow right after. ″I swear to the Moon Goddess, I will force you into the longest make-out session if you don’t open your mouth right now.″
I open it, immediately. He smirks at me smugly, knowing that it will embarrass the hell out of me. I turn into a bright red tomato if Vulcan so much as pecks my cheek with people around us. As I chew and glare at him, he places a kiss on my forehead and gestures to a pack member for more food. When he turns back to me, I swallow the bite before speaking.
″I don’t like you.″
″Well, I’ll have to change that tonight, won’t I?″ He murmurs, bright gold flashing through his eyes.
″You will do no such thing.″
″Oh, I will.″ He replies, huskily. ″And you’ll love every second of it, I guarantee you that my little mate.″
Everyone is crowded around the bonfire, listening to Vulcan tell the story of this pack’s history. I’m still on his lap but he’s turned me around so that my back meets his chest and his muscular arm rests across my collarbone. As the fire dims, the air turns chilly. I cuddle into him more, causing him to wrap the blanket around us tighter.
His voice is a deep rumble that has the ability to soothe me to sleep yet make me hang on to every word all at the same time. The pack sits around us, some on logs and some on the ground. Some with their friends or their parents or their mates. I look up at Vulcan to see a constant glint of pride in his darkened green orbs as he talks. Shadows flicker across his face yet he’s still as handsome as ever.
Sighing, I lean my head back to rest on his shoulder and look up at the stars. It’s so beautiful. Something about a clear sky at night filled with a thousand stars is just so serene. I can sit here forever. Tears well in my eyes when I think of how my parents would tell me that my grandparents were one of those stars up there; that every person who passes away becomes a star.
And now, they’re one of them too. Sniffling, I clear my throat as quietly as I can so as to not draw any attention to myself. But of course, I forgot that one man’s eyes will always be on me.
I tune back in to Vulcan talking about how this pack came to be, the very same story he has told me but, only a couple of trustworthy people know about him being a hybrid. I understand the discretion, there could be a snitch in the pack who might rat him out and cause the pack to be in danger and nobody wants that happening.
We sit there and listen until 12 a.m. turns into 1 a.m. before bidding goodbye and heading back home. I had fun catching up with my friends and meeting everyone in the pack today. The ladies are so nice; inviting me to events and such that are being held. Vulcan and I walk back on the pathway to his house, our hands intertwined, both lost in our own thoughts. It’s crazy how much my life has changed in a short amount of time.
“What are you thinking so hard about, Малышка?” He speaks, snapping me out of my thoughts as he tucks me into his side. (Little one)
“Everything.” I sigh, wrapping my arms around his waist in a sideways hug. “I had fun today.”
“Then why were you on the verge of crying in the clearing?”
I stop walking, making him turn around and cross his arms. I should have known he will notice, regardless if the guards don’t have their eyes on me; he definitely does. Sighing, I pull his hand out and intertwine them again, guiding us forward.
“I was just thinking about my parents. That’s all.” I smile up at him softly before looking at the swaying trees of the forest.
“I heard they passed away. I’m sorry.” He murmurs, squeezing my hand.
I don’t respond, only nod. The feeling of them being absent is still there, still aching, still raw. I will often wonder how long it will take before I can finally breathe properly when I think of them, instead of my breath hitching in my throat and my heart growing heavy.
“Damon was the one who told me, he also said you haven’t talked about what happened with anyone. Why are you bottling things up, Aurora?”
I laugh humorlessly and shake my head. “I’m not bottling anything up. It’s just that...I don’t know what to say. I can’t do anything that will bring them back nor can anybody else, so what’s the point of telling anyone of how I really feel?”
“When my parents passed away...I was chained up at the time. I didn’t know until I got out a year after their death and the news hit me like a truck. Instead of grieving for them, I threw myself into finding my siblings and creating this pack again. When I had everything sorted out, I sank into depression. I closed myself off from everybody and only communicated if it was anything pack related. I can understand why I reacted that way but you...”
I lift my head to look up at him, our hands holding onto each other tightly for support. “What?”
“Damon told me that you saw his sister, Nina, being murdered.” I freeze at his words before nodding hesitantly and looking away to the trees. “Soon after, your parents passed away. Doesn’t it hurt? I mean, witnessing a murder and losing your parents should have torn you apart but here you are, walking alongside me in one piece.”
I shrug, looking ahead at the warm glow from the windows casting onto the lawn ahead of us. “It does hurt. My heart aches when I see other kids with their parents and I think, I could have had that still if the crash never happened. Nina was killed the summer I spent here last time. I knew one of us was going to die when Nina hid me in the attic and made me promise her that I wouldn’t come out until I heard Damon’s voice. It was so hard; to promise her that I wouldn’t help her whilst she fought for her life, but I did and she died protecting me. It gets really hard to just put on the act that I’m okay when I’m not some days but, I made my parents a promise to stay happy and I intend on keeping it.”
I give him a shaky smile, squeezing his hand tighter and releasing a slow breath. Admitting that has lifted the weight I have been carrying around on my shoulders and now I feel lighter. I guess I was bottling things up, but I’m glad that Vulcan is the person I admitted this too.
“I just...I want them back. I want to feel them hug me again, I want to cook with mom or scream at the TV with dad as our favorite team loses. I want to sing along to the radio with my mom or attend dad’s boring business meetings with him, whine about how it’s not fair that they’re grounding me for something I am totally at fault for or go places with them - anything!”
I suck in a large breath, realizing that I’ve just rambled and revealed what I truly feel about their absence. We’ve come to a stop again but this time we have reached the house. Vulcan pulls me down onto his lap on the steps leading up the doorway.
“I thought - I thought they would attend my graduation, see me off to college, be there when I got married and now...they’re just - gone.” I whisper, tears welling in my eyes and escaping from the corners to roll down my cheeks.
“Oh, sweetheart.” He hushes me when I shake my head, releasing the first sob. “They may be gone but, you can keep your memory of them alive in your heart.”
I nod, a shuddering breath escaping my lips as I look up at him. “Okay.”
“Okay.” He affirms, holding me to him tighter.
There’s a long silence, both of us just looking out at the forest before us and the pack house in the distance to our left. “Maybe okay will be our always.”
Vulcan groans in annoyance, his head dropping on my shoulder whilst I giggle. He pulls away and rolls his eyes before standing up and pulling me inside. Closing the door, I follow him upstairs whilst he grumbles.
“Do not quote The Fault in our Stars to me just because I replied with okay.”
I gasp and clutch his arm. “That means you read it?!”
“Caia and Natasha made me when I could have just watched the movie or something. I hate having sisters sometime.” He mutters while gripping my hips to stop me from bouncing on the spot in excitement.
“Sweet baby ducklings, we are so watching the movie! Come on!” I yell, racing up the stairs, hearing him curse loudly as he follows me up, albeit a bit slowly this time.