Chapter Six: Home
“Your Grace, there are people here to see you.” Maggie informed King Jesse. When he just sat there staring off into space, she turned to the people at the door and motioned them forward. When they were standing in front of him, he finally focused on them.
“Who are you?” he asked gruffly.
“This is Damon and Kira.” Maggie told him. Owen didn’t mind not being introduced. This visit wasn’t about him so he went to stand next to his aunt. He found out when they arrived that Maggie was his mother’s older sister and therefore his aunt.
King Jesse snapped his head up to look at the two people in front of him. He stood up slowly and hesitantly took a step toward them.
“Do you see them too?” he asked Maggie.
“Yes Your Grace. I see them.” She reassured him that they weren’t just another one of his hallucinations. He walked toward them, reaching his hands out on the way. Damon and Kira mirrored his movement and the instant their hands touched the king let out an exasperated gasp and grabbed a hold of their hands tightly, afraid they would disappear.
“My babies.” He whispered, tears of happiness and relief flooding down his face. Kira felt tears of her own flow across her cheeks and in a sudden rush of emotion she threw herself at him; wrapping her arms around his frail waist she pressed her face against him. He wrapped his arm around her, holding her against him and grabbed the back of Damon’s head, pulling him to his chest also. They embraced like that for what seemed like forever. After finally finding their family again, they never wanted to let go. However when they eventually did, they didn’t stray far from each other. Seeing that their father wasn’t very strong, they guided him back to his chair and Kira kneeled on the ground by his side while Damon stood on his other side. They couldn’t keep the smiles off of their face and King Jesse looked more alive than anyone had seen him in sixteen years. His smile faltered slightly when he caught sight of the tattoo on Kira’s wrist.
“What’s this?” he asked, tracing it with his fingers.
“It’s the mark of the Hillshines. After we were kidnapped we were raised by them.” Kira explained.
King Jesse’s eyes flared with anger. “Those bloodthirsty monsters were the people that took you in the first place!” he nearly shouted.
“No, they didn’t. Arris did.” Kira said quickly. “Not all Hillshines are as vicious as people believe.” She told him thinking of Jonathon’s family.
“I’m glad you are alive and that I have you back.” Their father told them. “I just wish your mother could be here.”
“We feel the same way.” Damon told him.
For the first time since he knew his children were alive, King Jesse turned to the other occupants of the room. “And who are you?” he asked Owen.
Owen walked over to stand in front of the king. “My name is Owen, Sir. I’m Maggie’s nephew and a friend of Kira and Damon.” He said bowing before standing up and looking straight into King Jesse’s eyes. “I also wish to marry your daughter.”
Kira gasped and the king raised his eyebrows at the boldness of this young man. “And why do you think I would allow you to marry my daughter? You aren’t a royal so why should I say yes?” He was clearly amused.
“Because I love her Sir. I may not be able to give her a lavish castle or fine dresses or a life filled with everything money could buy, but I can give her one rich with love and laughter and all the things money can’t buy. When I met her, I knew she was special, but I had no idea how special she would become to me. I can’t imagine my life without her and I don’t want to have to. So please Sir; may I have permission to marry Kira?” Owen pleaded with the king.
King Jesse didn’t answer him, but instead looked at his daughter who was looking at Owen with the most beautiful smile. The look she was giving him was a look he knew well. It was one that his beloved wife had given him so many times before she passed; one filled with unyielding love and adoration. He couldn’t help but smile at that and he turned back to Owen ready with his answer.
“If she’ll have you, I give my permission for you to marry my daughter.” He told the young man.
“Thank you Sir.” Owen said politely before turning to Kira. “What do you say Kira? Will you be my wife, Princess?” he gave her his cocky smile as he waited for her answer.
“Yes.” She said as she stood up smiling at him. Owen’s smile got impossibly bigger and he rushed over and pulled her into his arms, pressing his lips against hers. She smiled into the kiss and laughed when she felt him doing the same.
Two Years Later
“Kira!” Annabella squealed, running to embrace her friend. Kira laughed as she hugged her. “Owen.” She greeted him with a hug. The last person of their group she was less comfortable with. “Damon.” She said, nodding her head at him.
“Princess.” He kissed the back of her hand and she tried to ignore the electricity that shot through her at his touch. However she couldn’t hold back the slight blush at the look he gave her.
“I’m so glad you could come.” Annabella told them, returning her attention the Kira. “Ralene and Darius are here already and Kinsey and Aaric should be here later today.” She said. “I can have a maid show you to your rooms. Oh, I almost forgot that your mother wanted me to tell you to visit her in her rooms when you arrived.” She told Owen.
“Thank you Annabella.” He said smiling at her.
When Annabella had taken over the castle a year ago, she had asked Abigail to come live in the castle. She asked her under the pretense of Abigail training the female staff, but it also gave Abigail a full time helper which is what she needed, but was too stubborn and independent to ask for.
After Owen and Kira visited with his mother they joined Damon, Ralene and Darius until Kinsey and Aaric arrived with their one year old twin boys, Will and Ricky. There were hugs and greetings all around before Annabella ushered them into the dining hall where she had her servants prepare a magnificent feast for them.
This was the first time in a while that they had all been together. A little while after Owen and Kira got engaged they traveled with Damon to Anthel for Kinsey and Aaric’s wedding and then to Revens for Ralene and Darius’ wedding. There they decided to have their wedding in Revens instead of Quintan so they sent word to Kira’s father and Maggie in Quintan, Jonathon’s family in Hillshire and Abigail in Pyrius, who was accompanied by Sariah. Everyone they invited came except for Cody, but Kira understood why he didn’t. After the ceremony, King Jesse made Owen an official Prince of Quintan so if something happened to Damon, Owen would be able to rule with Kira as King and Queen of Quintan. A few days later they all went their separate ways; Kira, Owen and Damon to Quintan and Kinsey and Aaric to Aveno Castle in Hillshire, leaving Ralene, Darius and Annabella in Revens.
“We have an announcement.” Kinsey said during a lull in their conversation. She clasped Aaric’s hand in hers and smiled before speaking. “We’re pregnant again.” She told their friends. There was a chorus of congratulations before Ralene spoke up as well.
“We’re expecting also!” She said in a rush of excitement causing a louder chorus of congratulations for the expectant parents.
Throughout the meal, Annabella could feel Damon’s eyes watching her. She didn’t know what to make of it so she tried to ignore him, but that was easier said than done. More than once she caught herself locking eyes with him and being drawn deeper into those blue orbs, completely forgetting about everyone else in the room before being snapped back to reality by a loud noise or an elbow from Ralene.
The next few days Annabella tried to avoid Damon as much as possible, always making sure that there was someone else in the room with them and avoiding any places he might be wandering alone.
One day she had her guard down, believing him to be with Kira and Owen in the gardens, and was walking down the corridor by his rooms to get to the library. Before she knew it, she was being pushed against the wall and trapped there by a pair of strong arms on either side of her head. She gasped before getting lost in a very familiar pair of blue eyes.
“Why have you been avoiding me Princess?” he asked her, his rich voice floating around her and causing a strange fluttering in her stomach.
“I... I don’t know.” She had meant to deny his allegations, but there was something about the look in his eyes that made her tell him the truth. Her head felt muddled and she couldn’t pull her gaze away from his. She felt like he was looking right into her heart and knew everything she felt, even if she didn’t.
“You feel it too don’t you.” It wasn’t a question, but a challenge for her to deny it, to deny the tangible attraction between them. “Whenever you’re in the room I can’t take my eyes off you. You haunt my thoughts all day and my dreams every night. Ever since I first held you in this very castle, the feel of your skin on mine is all I want to feel. Your delicate hand clasped in mine, your perfect lips pressed against my own and my arms wrapped protectively around your warm body, keeping you safe from everything. I want to be the cause of your laughter and I want to be your reason to smile. I want to know that I’m the one who holds your heart because I’m in love with you Annabella.” At the end of his speech Annabella realized that she only had to lean forward a few inches and their lips would touch. She searched his eyes and saw everything she ever wanted reflected in them. In that moment all the confusion she had dealt with since his arrival disappeared and she knew exactly what to do.
Annabella reached up and cupped his cheek with her hand before replying. “I think I’m in love with you too Damon.” She whispered before closing the gap between them and pressing her lips against his. He immediately wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her body against his as the whole world stopped around them. They melted into each other with a burning intensity that consumed them and bound them together in a kiss that would be envied by humans, creatures and gods alike until the heavens crashed down upon the earth.
And they all lived happily ever after.
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