Chapter 1 - The Future
Ayla Romanov’s P.O.V.
Both Ayla and Ivan are 16 years old in this chapter.
“One of you will lead the kingdom some day soon, I want you two to be ready. Now concentrate harder and do it again.”
I’m brought out of my thoughts at the sound of Ivan calling my name. Looking up, I see that he’s already climbed into our run-down tree-house and is waiting for me with his arm outstretched. His eyes that are identical to mine reflect worry, a frown on his lips.
“I’m scared, what if I can’t control my vampire and end up hurting everyone? I’m not fit to lead.” I bite my lip in worry, taking my twin brother’s hand so he can pull me up.
Ivan is older than me by two minutes and the only feature we share are our green eyes. He got our mother’s jet-black hair while I received my father’s dark brown. Because of our parents, we too are hybrids and ever since we shifted into our beasts six months ago, we’ve been training rigorously. Ivan grew out of his lanky build and is now tall and muscular with broad shoulders, just like Dad.
“Come on, Ayla. Dad can’t even control his and he still ruled over two kingdoms.” Ivan chuckles, draping an arm across my shoulders. “Fine, if you don’t want to lead then I will. And I’ll make you my queen.”
I stare up at him with a smile, shaking my head in amusement. “You have to find a mate and make her your queen. You can’t just pick your sister, dork.”
“Screw that! Think about it, we can do whatever we want.” He grins, swinging his legs into the air lightly. “Endless amounts of food and candy, cars to take us anywhere, no curfew –”
“And parents that will murder us when they find out through our guards.” I deadpan, pushing his arm off me to stand up.
“Not if we order our guards to keep what we do a secret.” He smirks deviously, joining me at the window that overlooks the lake.
“You’re crazy!” I giggle before resting my chin on my crossed arms with a sigh. “Thanks for cheering me up though.”
“Anytime.” He smiles softly, nudging my arm with his elbow. “You’re not the only one who’s struggling to control their beasts you know.”
I stare at him in silence and worry. “You are? How? You make it look so easy!”
“It’s draining, trying to get them to work together is like hitting into a wall...repeatedly.” He shrugs halfheartedly, tracing his initials that he carved into the wood when we were younger. “Have you noticed how I always disappear after our training sessions?”
“Yeah, where do you go?”
“Sleep.” He laughs, staring down at the water. “It’s enough to knock me out for a few hours.”
My jaw drops, I thought I was the only one who was having a hard time. “I’m sorry, I always thought you had it easy.”
“It’s okay, I always thought you had it better than me though.” He admits, sitting against the wall.
I slide down beside him, bringing my knees up to my chest. “You can’t be serious.”
“It’s true, at least you can fully control your wolf and your vamp sometimes listens to you. Mine argue all the time, it’s a miracle if they even agree on something.” He huffs, picking at the hem of his t-shirt. “How good of a leader will I be if my beasts can’t even agree on something and rage instead?”
“We’ll get through it.” I sigh, resting my head on his shoulder.
“We’re the Romanovs, we can do anything!” He mocks in a girly voice, fist pumping the air.
“You’re such an idiot!” I shove him, squealing when he puts me in a headlock and ruins my wavy hair. “My hair!”
“My hair!” He attempts to imitate me in a high-pitched voice, snickering at the sight of me when he lets me go.
“Ivan Romanov, I told you to clean your room three hours ago!” We hear our mother shout from outside, my brother’s grin dropping instantly.
We make our way to the door and peek to see her standing by the treeline, a fierce glare in her eyes as she stares at my brother. He groans and yanks me back inside. A loud yelp escapes me when my head hits off the wooden wall, making me rub the sore spot and grumble under my breath angrily.
“Five bucks if you do it for me.” He turns to me with a pleading expression.
“Please, Ayla!” He begs, pulling out the note and waving it around.
“Make it ten.” I cross my arms with a smirk.
“No way! I’m saving up for a video game, I need the other five!” He frowns, growing panicked when our mom threatens to come up here.
“Fine.” I mutter, needing the five dollars so that I have enough to buy more paint supplies from the store.
“Yes, I owe you!” He hugs me tightly before handing me the money and disappearing down the ladder.
Smiling softly at his antics, I climb down the ladder and head towards them. My mom stares at him suspiciously as he falsely promises to clean up right away. I shrug innocently when she looks at me, making her shake her head with a heavy sigh.
“You two are going to be the death of me someday.” She mutters, tucking me into her side as we walk back towards the house.
“Vee, dinner’s...shit...” I trail off, my eyes widening when I notice my sister.
“It is? But I’m so hungry!” She whines, pouting at me.
“Forget that! What did you do to your hair?!” I yell in astonishment, staring at her brown hair that’s dyed a bright orange.
“I just wanted to try it out!” She defends herself, avoiding my eyes. “I didn’t know it was going to do...this!"
“Did you even read the instructions? Mom’s going to kill you.” I mutter, reading the back of the box of dye.
“I know, help me Lala!”
“Don’t. Call. Me. That!” I glower, turning to her. “There’s nothing we can do, it’s going to take a few washes to come out.”
“Do you think they’ll notice when we go downstairs?” She worries her bottom lip, her stormy grey eyes filled with panic.
“No, of course they won’t notice that your hair is ginger.” I mock sarcastically, chuckling when she groans dramatically. “Let’s go.”
Valentina and I are the last ones to reach the dinner table, with me walking in front of her so that she can hide the monstrosity that is her hair. Dad is helping Mom bring the dishes and Ivan is scrolling through his phone in disinterest. Misha and Mikhail, our youngest siblings and the second set of twins are chattering away, blissfully unaware of what is about to unfold. They are nine-years-old, so I doubt they would understand anything.
As soon as we take our seats and Valentina has nobody to hide behind, everyone becomes silent. I bite my lip to stifle the laughter threatening to escape as I notice Valentina refusing to look up and my parents and siblings staring at her in disbelief.
“You look funny, Vee Vee.” Mikhail mumbles, frowning at her in confusion.
Ivan can’t take it any longer and bursts out laughing, raising his fist to his mouth when Dad glares at him. I kick his leg under the table when I see Valentina’s eyes filling with tears, warning him to knock it off. He stops abruptly, coughing to hide his fading chuckles.
“I-I’m sorry, daddy.” She looks up, her bottom lip trembling as she struggles not to cry. I see my Dad literally melt, his green eyes becoming tender.
“It’s okay, sweetheart.” My mom hushes softly, crouching to wrap an arm around her shoulders. “It’ll come out with a few washes, don’t be upset.”
“I w-won’t do it a-again, I-I promise!” She cries into mom’s dress, hugging her tightly.
“I know, don’t cry baby.” She rubs her back soothingly, rolling her eyes at my dad who wants her to ask Valentina what made her do it. “But you’ve got beautiful hair, why would you want to dye it?
“I like Aunty Isla’s red hair, she looks like Ariel. And I wanted to be pretty like her.” She sniffles while my Dad and I punch Ivan’s arm for snickering.
“You are the prettiest girl I know, and I love your beautiful hair. Don’t ever change yourself based off someone else’s looks, okay honey? Everyone’s beautiful in their own way.” Mom smiles, wiping her tears before giving her one last hug.
“We should’ve stopped at two.” Dad mutters with a heavy sigh as soon as mom takes a seat beside him, making me chuckle.
Continuing with dinner, we spend our time chatting about what we’ve been up to this week. Mom hates talking about work or our training and has forbidden dad from mentioning it. If he starts, he won’t stop until an hour later. After food, we move to the large sitting room where we have our weekly board games night. Because Ivan and I have become busy managing school and our training, we don’t see much of everyone else except our dad. So, one day, mom announced that we would always spend quality family time every Wednesday night no matter what and it’s been like that ever since.
“Checkmate!” My wolf, Ivanna, shouts gleefully in my mind as I beat my dad in a game of chess. She has been helping me throughout the game and thankfully, dad doesn’t know it yet.
“This is boring.” Zoya, my vampire, mutters and I sense her yawning sleepily.
Both my beasts are very different to each other but I love them equally. Unlike dad’s beasts; Vladimir and Ruxin, mine and Ivan’s can talk a little better than them. They kind of sound like little kids sometimes, who haven’t developed their language and speech properly. I correct Ivanna and Zoya from time to time as they’re speaking to me and they have become significantly better. Being around other kids in school helps too as they stay quiet and listen while I focus on my studies.
Ever since Ivan and I shifted, we got taken out of the local high school that we used to attend with other werewolf kids from our pack. Dad told us that the safety of everyone else was too risky as we are unstable right now, learning how to control ourselves and harnessing our power. It was sad to leave my friends but I still see them from time to time. We’re now both being home-schooled instead so we can balance our routine better. Mom said that once we have control over ourselves, we can go back for senior year which is reassuring and I look forward to that.
Sighing, I tune back into the present and hear Ivan challenging dad for a game of chess. Grinning, I push up from my seat and make my way over to the couch where my mom is cuddling with Mikhail. Both him and Misha are identical to mom with their black hair and grey eyes. They’re slightly tanned because of our father and they’re the cutest babies.
“Lala!” Misha mumbles sleepily, making me sigh at the nickname everyone’s caught from Valentina.
“Hey.” I kiss her cheek, letting her cuddle into me with a yawn.
“I think it’s time for bed.” Mom whispers from above, making me turn to see Mikhail and Valentina fast asleep. “Boys –”
“One more game! Dad, please!” Ivan whisper-shouts, grabbing his arm with a pleading look.
“Alright, prepare to lose again.” Dad rolls his eyes playfully, sitting back down.
Chuckling, I hand Misha over to mom who disappears up the stairs into their bedroom. Picking Valentina up, I look over my shoulder one last time before heading to Vee’s room. I wish dad all the best because Ivan won’t let him sleep until he’s won at least one game.
And Ivan never wins at chess.