Chapter 46 - No Longer Sleeping Beauty
Aurora Maxwell’s P.O.V.
Darkness surrounds me yet I’m aware of my surroundings; I can hear noises. I feel restless. He has yet to come see me again and perhaps that is the reason why I feel so agitated. I long to hear his voice but it feels like I must wait years before I can hear the familiar husky, deep sound of him talking. To know that he is near, reassures me that I’m okay. As if floating in nothing but darkness is fine.
I wait, like every other day when I feel like this. My restlessness would increase to a point where I would get frustrated and then, he would be here. I feel angry over the fact that I can’t move and speak no matter how much I want to. Often, I feel like crying out in frustration only for no sound to escape my lips nor reach my ears.
A longing ache blooms in my chest and for the first time in so long, I can feel something in my body. I know he won’t be visiting me today but I don’t want to wait any longer. I crave to wake up and find him, not the other way around.
I try moving my fingers and my legs, only for them to remain still. Anger rises within me at my own incompetence to move. I struggle to say something or release a sound only to hear nothing. Growing frustrated, I try again and again, feeling my chest tighten in panic over the thought of being sucked back into darkness again.
I try with all my might, pushing against some sort of barrier that makes me want to scream as I will myself to open my eyes. Feeling like giving up, I breathe out a sigh of relief when light hits me, making me flinch in surprise. I groan, covering my eyes with my hand. When they finally adjust to the light, I look around the white room with blue decor.
With a startling realization, I can now see every particle of dust in the air around me. Glancing around, I can see every detail that was once not as defined but is now clear and sharp. I sit up, my body thrumming with renewed energy. Getting off the bed, I walk into the bathroom, hearing every little sound outside this room; from footsteps to the little chattering of people in the waiting room, a coffee machine working and pen hitting paper.
A shocked gasp escapes my lips when I see my reflection in the mirror. My skin has a healthy glow, the blue specks in my eyes are now brighter and more noticeable than before. Instead of my hair being the shoulder length I always keep it to, it now falls to my waist in soft, loose curls. It’s shiny and healthy, silky soft as I run my hand through it.
I’m definitely a few inches taller and my body looks slimmer. My skin is flawless, not a spot in sight. The scar I used to have on my right arm from when I was younger has also disappeared. I run my hands down the hospital gown I’m wearing, the movement causing it to reveal my mark. My fingertips caress the new mark, the indentation of teeth much deeper than before.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath, wondering what had happened. Images of being in Texas, in the car where Vulcan had marked me again all came back to me. I still, feeling around in my mind for him. I can’t feel his presence but I do feel our mate bond.
I whimper suddenly, hunching over when I feel excruciating pain through the bond. I must grip onto the sink to steady myself. Vulcan, I think, anger rising within me at the thought of someone hurting him. I make my way out of the bathroom and swing the door open, nurses and people freezing when they notice me. Natasha stares at me in shock before she jumps up from her seat, pulling me into a tight hug.
“Aurora, I can’t believe you’re back! Let’s get you inside while we call the doctor for a check-up.” She smiles with tears in her eyes, trying to lead me back into the room.
“Where’s Vulcan?” I ask, taking a seat on the bed.
The joyful expression on her face drops and she looks away, shaking her head. “I’ll tell you everything after the check-up.”
Doctor Petrova and two nurses rush into the room at that exact moment. She too is shocked when she sees me sitting up on the bed, greeting me and immediately running some tests. They tell me that I have changed significantly, noticing what I had too in the bathroom. I nod in agreement, feeling restless with every minute I spend in here and not by my mate’s side. She tells me that I’m going to have to come back to see how Vulcan’s bite affected me and that I need to rest now, making me shake my head vehemently.
“I need to find Vulcan, why isn’t anybody telling me where he is?!” I stand, frustration evident in my tone.
Natasha sighs and takes a seat on a nearby chair. “Vulcan...his beasts have taken over completely. Usually, he would be able to visit you after two or three days but every day that you didn’t wake up, he would lose a part of himself. He’s being kept in a special holding cell in the pack prisons Aurora.”
“I need to go there.” I rush, taking the clothes she had brought me before walking into the bathroom to change into them.
“Aurora,” Natasha calls once I’ve stepped out and am heading towards the door, her baby blue eyes swimming in sadness. “Vulcan isn’t present anymore. You have to make his beasts give back control for him to return.”
I take a deep breath before pulling open the door. “Well...I guess today is the day then.”
I race down the hallways of the infirmary, seeing pack members stare at me in shock and surprise before I finally exit the building. Taking a left, I run as fast as I can towards the prisons, seeing it in the far distance surrounded by thick trees.
“Open the door.” I gasp, the guard nodding and unlocking it immediately.
I run down the long corridor before taking some stairs, the exact route the guard had described to me when I asked where Vulcan was. I see a heavily guarded door up ahead, the guards recognizing me instantly and opening the door for me. I thank them as I run in, noticing only one familiar face in the room.
“Indigo!” I shout, stopping him from pulling a lever.
He turns, violet eyes widening in shock when he sees me walk over to him. “Aurora?!”
“How is he?” I ask worriedly, my eyes wandering to the glass screen.
A beast lies in one corner of the large cell, the concrete walls lined with long scratches and splattered with blood. The metallic scent is overpowering and I try to ignore the way it makes me want to recoil in disgust.
“Uh...” I have to shake Indigo to snap him out of his shocked state. “Sorry! Um, he’s not doing so well. Usually after two or three days of dousing him with silver and Wolfsbane, his beasts are subdued and let Vulcan take over. He hasn’t been present since the past four days.”
“Let me in.” I state, watching as Indigo immediately shakes his head.
“That’s a death wish Aurora, I don’t even know if his beasts will recognize you.”
“Let me in, please.” I beg, watching him swallow harshly before nodding.
He points to a door and I make my way over to it. There is a loud ringing sound before the door of the cage opens enough for me to squeeze in and then it closes behind me with an echoing slam.
Indigo is watching me with a worried look, his eyes flitting between the beast to my figure as if watching tennis. I focus on the large form lying on the floor, black fur torn out and red in places. My chest aches in sadness and my eyes fill with tears as I think about how much he must have tortured himself.
Vulcan has shifted into both his beasts, half morphed into a werewolf and half into a vampire. He looks dangerous, like he can rip me from limb to limb. The sudden movement of the beast has me freezing on the spot. I hold my breath as he sniffs, eyes opening to reveal obsidian orbs streaked with red. A thunderous growl escapes him which makes me tremble with fear slightly. His lips pull up into a sneer as he stands on two legs.
I pull my hair back, exposing my neck and the new mark for them. Stepping forward, I slowly make my way towards the center of the cell and take a seat on the cold, cement floor. The deadly beast walks around me, now on all fours, sniffing my skin and invading my personal bubble. I sit still, letting them try and recognize me.
“Mate.” Two deep, husky voices finally state, their voices echoing inside my mind.
The beast moves so that he is now standing right in front of me and I assume it’s Vladimir because his eyes are now completely red. Whenever Ruxin is present, Vulcan’s eyes will turn black.
“Mine!” Vladimir roars in a deep voice, eyes blazing red.
I let out a squeal of surprise as he pulls me onto his lap, his mouth inching closer towards my neck. I pull away, my hand on his furry neck as I push him back slightly.
“No!” He growls, the sharp warning tone echoing in the quiet cell.
From the corner of my eye, I see Indigo pushing Vulcan’s siblings out of the room, shaking his head as they probably protest in return. I release a shuddering breath, focusing on the beast in front of me. I feel scared because I have no idea how to handle Vulcan’s beasts. They have never taken over and been around me long enough so I don’t know what will set them off and how protective they are. Whenever Vulcan shifts, he is always present and controlling Ruxin.
“Vladimir,” I start, my voice soft in contrast to his. “Calm down. I’m not going anywhere, I’m right here but I need you to control yourself.”
“No. Need to protect mate.” He growls, burying his face into the crook of my neck and inhaling deeply.
“You did protect me. You saved me, Vladimir.” I smile, watching as his red eyes meet mine. “I’m alive because of you.”
“What if someone hurts mate again. I need to be there for mate.” He mutters, playing with my hair.
“Nobody will. I’m safe now.” I reply, watching as his red eyes roam over my figure with fascination and awe. “You will always be able to protect me, Vladimir.”
“How? He keeps me locked away, I don’t get to be around mate. I just get to see her through his eyes. Why does Ruxin get to see mate and not me?” He grumbles bitterly and I stifle the laugh threatening to escape at his pouty expression.
“Don’t worry, I’ll tell Vulcan to let you free sometimes so we can spend time together. Would that make you happy?”
He nods eagerly, making me laugh. I look back at him to see that he is staring at me with adoration. I smile, wrapping my arms around his neck in a hug. He embraces me in return, stroking my long hair.
“Does mate love me?”
“Of course, I do!” I chuckle, hearing him hum in satisfaction.
“Mate looks so beautiful.” He breathes as he pulls away, his large hands trailing over my t-shirt and jeans I had pulled on before leaving the infirmary. “Vladimir’s angel.”
“Always.” I whisper, pushing up to press a soft kiss to his cheek.
He buries his face into the crook of my neck, pressing kisses to my mark. I giggle, feeling ticklish when his fur meets my skin. He pulls away and smiles, a mischievous look in his gleaming red eyes before he starts tickling my sides making me shriek with laughter.
I’m flushed when he decides to listen to my pleas for him to stop. His eyes glaze over for a moment before he snaps out of it, turning to me with a sad expression. “Ruxin wants to meet mate now.”
“Aw, it’s okay. I’ll tell Vulcan to let you out sometimes remember?”
“I promise, Vladimir.” I smile reassuringly, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
“Goodbye, angel.” He murmurs, kissing my forehead gently.
The red in his eyes darken to black, alerting me that Ruxin has taken control now. He scans the length of my body, looking for any injuries before nodding to himself when he sees nothing. Brushing my hair away from my neck, he traces my mark. His onyx colored eyes meet mine and I smile slightly, letting him wrap his arms around my waist.
“Mate.” He growls softly, leaning forward to inhale my scent deeply.
“Hi, Ruxin.” I whisper, hearing him purr in satisfaction.
It almost makes me want to laugh at how a dangerous beast is purring in front of me. He nuzzles my neck, stroking my back in soothing circles. He is much quieter than Vladimir and I assume he just wants to hold me to reassure himself that I’m okay. I caress his fur, deep growls of satisfaction escaping him as I do so. Not once does he take his eyes off me, he’s watching every movement of mine with tenderness. He cups my face in both paws, black meeting grey.
“I’m sorry for what happened, we couldn’t save you in time.” He speaks, voice a little deeper than Vladimir’s.
I rest my hand on top of his right, tilting my head slightly. “It’s okay Ruxin, I’m here now.”
“Mate doesn’t hate me?” He asks, a hopeful look in his eyes.
I chuckle in disbelief, shaking my head. “I never could.”
He lets out a sigh of relief, pulling me into a tight embrace. I smile softly, taken aback by how Vladimir and Ruxin need a lot of reassurance and love. I guess it’s understandable considering how Vulcan is the one who is around me every day. They just get to see me through his eyes.
“I missed you a lot.” He mumbles into my hair, making me mentally coo at how adorable this big, bad beast of mine is being.
“I missed you too, Ruxin.” I press a kiss to his cheek, pulling away to look up at him.
After letting him hold me for a while more, he finally sighs and pulls away. I stare at him expectantly, waiting for him to say something. He takes a strand of my hair and starts playing with it, twisting it around before letting it unravel.
“I guess we should give control back to him.” He states with a dejected look, like he wants to do the exact opposite and stay here with me.
“That would be the right thing to do.” I nod, squeezing his paw when he frowns. “He probably needs medical attention, Ruxin. I need him too.”
“Mate will always need me too, right?” He asks, playing with my fingers now.
“Of course.” I murmur, staring down at our hands.
He stands to his feet, putting me back on the ground so that I’m standing right in front of him. Leaning close, he caresses my cheek and presses a gentle kiss there before whispering goodbye. I do the same, smiling at him when he lets go of me and steps back.
I watch as the obsidian black gives way to the forest green I love so dearly. Ruxin and Vladimir let Vulcan shift back into human form, his beastly form disappearing and muscled flesh appearing in its place. He grabs a nearby blanket and wraps it around his midsection before he looks at me.
I choke on the emotion rising within me, running the few steps to him and wrapping my arms around his waist. I feel my own eyes well up with tears when I hear a strangled sob escape his lips, his face buried into the crook of my neck. I hush him, stroking his hair as he cries into my shoulder. His body trembles, hands shaky as they roam over my figure. Green eyes scan every inch of my body to see if I’m alright.
He drops to his knees, hugging my waist as he cries against my stomach. I hold onto him, feeling our mate bond twist with so much sadness and longing. I feel the pain he went through, his thoughts running through my mind. I bite my lip hard as I discover how much anxiety he had during the time I was in a coma, wondering if I would ever wake up and losing hope every single day that I didn’t open my eyes.
“I thought I was going to lose you.” He croaks, a tear slipping down his cheek.
I crouch in front of him, cupping his cheek. “I’m here now Vulcan, everything is okay now.”
He sits down on the cold, concrete floor and pulls me onto his lap in one quick motion, pressing kisses to every inch of my face as he speaks. “I missed you so much, Aurora.”
“I missed you too, Vulcan.” I smile, brushing my lips against his.
As he starts to lean in for a kiss, my eyes wander down to the numerous bruises, welts, burns and gashes on his skin. Everything looks so painful and I feel my bottom lip quiver as tears well up in my eyes at the sight.
“I-I’m so s-sorry.” I inhale sharply, a sob escaping me as my fingers hover over his injuries. “If only I had woken up sooner I –”
“No.” He warns sternly, shaking his head. “This isn’t your fault Aurora, don’t ever think that. You needed time to recover from what happened.”
“We need to get you to a doctor.” I brush away the tears from my cheeks, standing up.
“Aurora –” He starts to speak but I cut him off as I call for Indigo to help me.
“Come on, let’s get you to the infirmary.” I state, pulling him to his feet.
Forgetting about my newfound strength, he crashes into me when I literally pull him to his feet. He stares at me in shock whilst I smile sheepishly. I guide his right arm around my shoulders, beginning to lead him to the door.
“I uh...I think the bite did a lot more than just heal me.” I scratch my head, nodding at Indigo to open the door of the cell.
He suddenly pulls me flush against him and dips down, his tongue licking my mark before his lips press against it. I gasp in pleasure, trying to push him away.
“Whoa there, none of that until you’re better.” I scold, watching him pull away and stare into my eyes.
“Y-Your eyes...they have a red ring around them.” He murmurs in a dazed tone, cupping my cheek.
“Oh...well, shit.” I mumble, watching as he smirks tiredly at my reply. “We’ll figure this out later, right now it’s all about you.”
Indigo finally walks over and opens the door, rushing to us and draping Vulcan’s other arm around his shoulder. Together, we help him out of the prisons and into the infirmary, a male doctor rushing up to us with nurses behind him pushing a bed. He helps us put Vulcan onto it before Indigo and I follow him down to the Alpha suite.
“Okay, we’re going to get started on cleaning up those wounds right away.” The doctor mutters before turning to us. “I’m going to need you two to step outside, please.”
“She stays.” I hear Vulcan growl as Indigo and I start making our way towards the door.
The doctor starts to protest but one steely glare from Vulcan has him quiet. Indigo opens the door and steps outside, telling me he’ll come visit later. I bid goodbye to him before closing the door and making my way back to the bed, grabbing a chair and taking a seat in it.
Vulcan comes out of the bathroom in the same colored gown I wore, getting on the bed and immediately taking hold of my hand. I rub my thumb in soothing circles on his skin as the doctor and nurses run various tests, disinfecting and cleaning his wounds to ensure that they heal properly without the risk of infections.
Sometime later, the nurses leave with the doctor advising Vulcan of strict bed rest for at least a week. I thank him, walking him out the door before going back inside the room, closing the door behind me. I rest my back against the hard wood, inhaling quietly. Vulcan is quiet, staring at me as I make my way around the bed and take a seat on it. His eyes wander to my long hair, a confused frown on his lips as he takes a strand and starts playing with it. I myself don’t know what is going on with me but I’m too tired to find out right now.
A second later, there is a knock on the door. I call out for the person to come in, smiling at the sight of Damon and Sophia. Their worried expressions fade into ones of relief and Sophia is the first to step forward and give me a bone-crushing hug. She pulls back just as quick, looking at me in panic.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t hurt you, did I? Oh, my Moon Goddess, I did –”
“No!” I chuckle at her behavior, patting her shoulder in reassurance. “I’m completely okay, trust me.”
She breathes out in relief and grins, pressing a kiss to my forehead and telling me how worried everyone was and how much they all missed me. She looks at Damon from the corner of her eye and nods at him subtly, mouthing the word ‘Nina’ to me. I understand immediately as she pulls away and pushes Damon forward, who stands stiffly beside the bed.
I look up to see him equally a mess like Vulcan. Both resemble the same worn out changes to their features except Vulcan is far worse because I’m his mate and his beasts had taken complete control.
“Do I not get a hug, bro?” I smile cheekily, holding my arms out.
I hear him choke on air as his eyes fill with tears before he gathers me up into a hug. His arms wind around me tightly while he hides his face into my neck, his body wracking with quiet sobs. I hush him, murmuring soothing words as I rub his back. I know very well that he must have thought it was Nina dying all over again while I was out. Where hers was instant, mine was uncertain.
“I’m here, Damon. You won’t lose me.” I whisper, gripping his shoulder tightly as he pulls back and kisses my forehead and cheek.
We hear a quiet sob and look to Sophia who is silently crying, she chuckles before walking over into the outstretched arm Damon holds out, hugging us both as we cry and laugh together. I glance at Vulcan who winks at me, an amused smile on his lips.
“Guys, I can’t be wiping everyone’s tears. I’m too lazy for that, so stop it. I’m alright.” I whine, trying to lighten the mood. And it works. We all laugh and pull away.
“How long had I been out?” I question with the startling realization that I never asked, frowning in confusion.
“Almost three weeks.” Vulcan murmurs, looking at me sadly.
Gasping, I look at Damon and Sophia who are both nodding in agreement. I was out that long? No wonder everyone looks so surprised to see me awake and sick with worry at the same time.
“The shock of the vampire biting you was too much and the side-effects you went through exhausted your body. You almost died in the car when I marked you again. My bite exhausted your body even further as it tried to flush out the toxins and repair our bond. It took a lot on you and you needed time to heal.” Vulcan explains, rubbing his thumb across my knuckles soothingly.
“Oh...” I trail off, not knowing what to say.
We talk for a while, catching up on what happened while I was in a coma before Damon and Sophia leave and let the rest of the people waiting outside to visit us. Theia and Darius are the next to follow, fawning over Vulcan and I, repeatedly asking us if we are comfortable enough.
Next up are Christian and Lily followed by Natasha and Nero who had all traveled over the minute they heard what had happened. Caia, Nikolai, Vanessa and Indigo are the next bunch of visitors and there is a lot of hugging involved, everyone asking if Vulcan and I are doing okay and if we need anything.
Kaden is the last one to walk in and I meet him halfway, embracing him in a tight, bear hug. Both men greet the other with a small smile and a nod, making me wonder what had happened to make their hostility towards each other disappear. After everyone has come and gone, I start to feel overwhelmed and am relieved that our pack members are thoughtful enough to keep the infirmary free. There were some who wanted to visit us but Indigo had kindly asked them to come by another time.
Slipping off my flats, I let Vulcan pull me towards him and lie down on the space he has made for me in the double bed. I curl into him, wrapping an arm around his waist, careful to avoid a healing gash. I cover us with the blanket, making sure he is comfortable and doesn’t need anything.
He presses his lips to mine to silence my questions of concern, giving me a short and sweet kiss that I have missed so much. Pulling away, he pecks my forehead before a loud sigh escapes his lips. I cuddle with him, closing my eyes and letting him rest his head on my chest. We are silent for some time, content with just being there for each other. Eventually, he pulls me closer so that we are facing each other. Sleepy grey meeting exhausted green. It’s ridiculous how tired I feel even though I have been in a coma for almost three weeks.
“I heard you. Everything that you said to me, whenever you would visit and just talk...I-I heard it all.” I murmur, cuddling into his chest as his hand grips my hip in realization. “I would crave to hear your voice but...I would only be able to hear it after what felt like forever.”
He sighs heavily, pressing a kiss to my cheek. “I’m sorry, my moon. As soon as you were brought to the infirmary, my beasts went crazy and wanted to take over. I couldn’t let any more harm come to you and jeopardize any chances of you getting better so, I stayed in the dungeons, chained up and withheld from coming up here. The only time I would be allowed to visit you was when my body and beasts were exhausted from over-exertion and weakened from Wolfsbane and silver.”
“But we were already marked and mated.” I frown, pulling away to look up at him in confusion. “Why would they want to take over completely?”
“Because of this.” He taps my neck, where he has marked me again. “Vladimir wanted to take over because he felt threatened that some other vampire marked you and that I had not done enough to protect you. He’s the more wild and irrational part of me that’s hard to control when he comes out. That’s why I have been suppressing him all these years.”
“It hurt, didn’t it? That’s why you look so exhausted?” I whisper, cupping his cheek and looking at him sadly.
“Being injected with Wolfsbane and doused with silver didn’t hurt near as much as not being able to hold you did.” He whispers back, giving me a chaste kiss.
I know something has happened to me, something big. But right now, everything can wait. I want to focus on my mate first and make sure he is okay before worrying about myself. He matters most right now, my top priority. I smile gently as I feel emotions of relief and love in the bond, knowing it’s coming from Vulcan. Our mind link had returned as soon as his beasts had given him control and I felt at peace when his presence entered my mind once more.
Everything is okay now but all hell will break loose if someone ever tries to tear us apart again. I will make sure of it.