Chapter 20 - Without You
Two Months Later.
Asher Antonov’s P.O.V.
“How are we on the construction of new homes?” I ask, looking over the file Reggie handed me.
“Right on track, the survivors have formed a new clan. They’ve sent the paperwork for approval and we can work on moving them into a new building.” He replies, setting down another folder.
“And the people that were in our guest home?” I mutter, signing the papers before handing it back to him.
“We’ll have them all moved into the eastern region within the week.”
I nod in satisfaction, taking another page from the pile of paperwork that’s pending for me. Silence ensues and Reggie sits there as I sign some documents. I can tell that he wants to say something but I also know what it will be and the answer, like always, will be no.
“Why do you try, Uncle?”
“They’re relying on you, they need reassurance from their king.” He argues, making me frustrated.
“I am not leaving Ayla’s side! End of discussion!” I growl, slamming my fist down onto my desk.
“It’s been two months Asher, next week will be the third. Don’t you think it’s time to move –”
“Get out!” I snarl thunderously, standing from my seat. “It’s been two months, not two years!”
“She isn’t responding to the healing anymore, I’m just saying –”
“Leave!” I roar, my guards running in and taking him out of the room.
Slumping in my seat once the door closes, I lean back and look up at the ceiling in defeat. My eyes burn and I struggle to keep my emotions at bay, wanting to remain positive for the sake of my Ayla. It’s almost the end of two months now and she still hasn’t woken up. Everyone around me is holding onto hope but I can see it in their eyes that it’s waning.
Sage is still at the castle and although Helios came and tried to convince her to go back home, as per my request, she refuses to leave me. As a result, Helios stayed too which pisses me off beyond belief. We aren’t exactly buddies and seeing him roam around my castle infuriates me.
However, Reggie is the only one who’s been getting on my nerves and today he exceeded all limits. Telling me to move on from Ayla! I scoff, my fists clenching. I should’ve ripped his heart out then and there but his history with my parents stopped me. I took over again after the first month, so it’s not like I’m ignoring my duties to my people. I believe Ayla will wake up soon and until then I will not be leaving the castle. It’s not selfish in my mind either, she matters much more to me and I’d give up my title in an instant for her.
A knock sounds on the door and Sage peeks in with worried eyes. I groan out an “I’m fine” but she doesn’t believe me, like usual. She closes the door and places a glass of blood on my desk, my nose scrunching in distaste at the smell of it. I haven’t been drinking enough and it’s been taking a toll on me, but all I want is my beloved’s vein instead.
“Drink.” She glares at me, sliding it over.
Huffing, I take a few sips while she halves the paperwork. Ever since I regained control over everything, Sage has been helping with my duties as much as possible so that I can spend more time with Ayla in the evenings. She isn’t responding well to healing anymore, it was late at night yesterday when Sasha reported to me about it.
I’m terrified about Ayla, not knowing what will happen. She was healing quite well because of Sasha’s help, I don’t want her health to worsen. What if she doesn’t ever wake up? I wonder, ridding the thought from my mind as soon as it enters. I won’t think of such things, I must stay positive that she will wake up soon. And when she does, I’ll never let her leave my side. I’ll make her so happy and show her everyday just how much I love her and how much she means to me. I’ll take more measures to protect her from all sorts of harm.
“What did Reggie say?” Sage asks quietly, her eyes scanning the letter before her.
“Told me to move on from Ayla since she isn’t accepting Sasha’s healing anymore.” I reply, a slight edge to my voice.
“What the fuck?! How dare he?!” Her eyes meet mine, swimming in shock. She’s quite close with Reggie, he’s almost like a second father to us but even she can’t believe that he would say something like that.
“Exactly my thoughts.” I laugh humorlessly, shaking my head. “He’s worried about the people, saying they want reassurance from their king.”
“A king is nothing without his queen!” She states firmly, disbelief in her eyes. “Word travels fast and by now, everyone knows what happened to Ayla. I’m sure they understand.”
“I hope so.”
Five hours later, when the paperwork has all been completed and I’ve finished with several meetings, I walk into the hospital wing. Doctor Ilias brings me into his office for an update before I leave to see Ayla. Everyone stares at me in pity, trying to be as subtle as possible but failing. Ignoring them, I open the door of her room and step in.
She lays perfectly still on the bed, a baby blue blanket covering her body to keep her warm. She’s in a new gown today, her arms on either side of her. Her long brown hair is splayed across the pillow, making my fingers itch to run my hands through it. It’s always silky soft and her shampoo reminds me of fruits.
“Dragostea mea.” I murmur in greeting, kissing Ayla’s forehead before taking a seat beside her on the bed. “I hope you can hear me.” (My love)
She doesn’t respond like usual and I struggle to stop it from breaking me like always. Taking her hand in mine, I brush my lips against her knuckles. The monitors are steady, a reassuring sound to my ears. They remind me that she’s still here; still breathing. Doctor Ilias had reported that everything is normal but as we all know, it’s up to Ayla to wake up on her own. There’s nothing more we can do.
“You sure do like your sleep, huh?” I chuckle, lying down next to her. “It’s been two months, angel. Don’t you want to wake up?”
I curl up to her, nestling my nose into the crook of her neck. Her pulse thrums enticingly underneath her skin, my gums aching to embed themselves into her slender neck. A sharp hiss escapes me as I control myself, I can’t afford to hurt her more than she already is. And the thought of drinking from her while she’s unconscious disgusts me.
“Please wake up, Ayla.” I whisper, letting the tears fall freely. “I’m so lost without you. Don’t torture me like this, baby. I need you.”
When I’m alone with her is the only time that I let my guard down and cry the pain and longing out. I’ve said the same things repeatedly and promised to do so much for her only to receive no response. I’ve hoped for a miracle day in and day out while feeling her still body against mine. No matter how hard I try to be positive, I can’t take it anymore.
I want her to wake up and tell me that everything is alright. I want to see her smile again and hear her melodious laugh that can take away all my frustration in a heartbeat. I want to feel her arms around me, comforting and warm in contrast to my cold skin. Most of all, I want to see her beautiful emerald green eyes again.
“I hope you’re not in pain.” I mumble against her skin, wiping my tears. “I’d take it all if I could, you know that.”
I’m met with silence but comfort myself with the sound of her heart beating away. Peppering kisses over her face, I play with a strand of her hair as I stare at her. She sleeps peacefully, nothing worrying her or causing her distress. Her skin is flawless with the lightest hint of color on her cheeks, dark lashes hovering above her skin. I could spend days admiring her beauty without getting tired.
“Wake up soon, Ayla. Because if you don’t, I don’t know what I’ll do.” I breathe, pressing a kiss to her cheek just as someone knocks on the door.
Frowning, I call for them to enter as I sit up on the bed. Dimitri peeks in with an apologetic smile which I wave off. “There’s a call for you from The Renascence Pack.”
I make my way to my office, confused when Dimitri relays that the caller won’t reveal who they are to anyone but me. Thanking Dimitri, I dismiss him as I reach my office. I pick up the phone, expecting it to be Vulcan Romanov. However, I’m surprised when it’s not his gruff and cold tone that greets me in return.
“I’m Ivan Romanov, Ayla’s twin brother.”
My eyes widen in surprise but then I sigh inaudibly. “Hello, Ivan. I’m guessing you’re calling about Ayla.”
All I hear is silence and I almost think he’s hung up, but then he speaks. “I heard Mom and Dad talking about her being in a coma today.”
When I received word that the letter had reached Vulcan Romanov, I called him to explain what happened to Ayla. Aurora Romanov also joined the call and both reacted furiously, which I fully understood. I didn’t go into much detail, just the basics of Blithe possessing her and the moments leading up to Ayla slipping into a coma. I still didn’t know the real reason behind Blithe’s actions but I’m hoping she told Ayla something. When I entered the room, invisible, I saw that the corners of Ayla’s eyes were white and she had asked Blithe aloud why she targeted her.
Naturally, Ayla’s parents demanded to be let inside the kingdom at once to see their daughter. But after explaining how volatile the portal is right now, I assured them that she’s responding well to the healing. Fabian and Astra have been working themselves to the bone so that the shields and the main portal of the realm can be restored. Thankfully, we are set to allow people to travel through next week.
“She’s still asleep, Ivan.” I almost whisper, feeling pain blossom in my chest.
“It’s like she’s not there.” He murmurs, as if he’s lost in his own thoughts. “I don’t feel our connection anymore.”
Aurora revealed that whatever happened to Ayla also took a huge toll on Ivan as they share a bond. She talked about him doubling over in pain and feeling immense pain in his head which I immediately knew was because of the many times Blithe took control over Ayla. When she slipped into a coma, apparently Ivan’s energy drained completely and he collapsed. Last I heard he was bed ridden, until now.
“I’m sure she’ll wake up soon.” I reply, not knowing what else to say. It’s like I’m reassuring myself at the same time.
“But you told them someone was healing her -”
“She stopped responding last night.” I sigh heavily, hearing him whisper out a small “oh.”
“Maybe she doesn’t need it anymore. I was on bed rest when she slipped into a coma, today I’m better. Maybe it’s because she’s feeling better too.” He replies positively, making my lips quirk. “Maybe she’s all healed.”
“I hope so, Ivan.” I chuckle, the weight on my shoulders lifting just a bit.
“Can you promise me something?” He asks, almost hesitantly.
“Will you take care of her? I know you must have other responsibilities as king and may not have time, but could you check up on her as much as you can just to see if she’s okay?” He asks, making me smile widely.
One thing that still remains a secret from the Romanov family is that I am Ayla’s beloved. I plan to introduce myself properly when I meet her parents and I’m hoping that Ayla is with me when that happens. So to hear Ivan requesting for me to take care of her is slightly amusing. I would do anything for her, if only he knew.