Chapter 22 - Together Again
Vulcan Romanov's P.O.V.
I walk up the steps, ensuring that my face is expressionless. The castle of the vampire kingdom is a new design since I destroyed half of the building the last time I was here. Yet, it still has the Romanian architecture and gothic features to it. I scowl as the large double doors come into sight, numerous guards standing straighter once they catch sight of Aurora, Ivan and I.
I want to leave already. Being back in this realm reminds me too much of the pain and destruction I had caused long ago. My mate squeezes my hand, drawing my attention to her. I've always loved her stormy grey eyes and to see them shining with happiness reminds me why I can't just turn around and leave.
Our daughter, Ayla, is here.
After months of wondering where and how she is, we'll finally see her today. Ever since Asher broke the news of her comatose state, we've prayed to the Moon Goddess to heal and protect her. I'm hoping my little girl is awake, it hurt me to see Aurora in that state so I don't know what I'll do if I see Ayla like that.
"Come on!" Ivan urges, bounding up the steps in excitement and anticipation.
A smile tugs at my lips over seeing my son healthy and full of life again. He scared me as much as the news of Ayla did, but now that he's feeling better I'm hoping Ayla is too. I think back on the memories of when they were little pups. If one was hurt, the other would feel it too. So, it was no surprise that Ivan felt what was happening to Ayla even if she was realms away.
Nodding to the guards as they open the doors, Aurora and I step into the foyer after Ivan. A redhead with light green eyes stands there waiting, a smile on his lips as he greets us. His name is Corbin and he's entirely too cheerful for my liking; like an energized bunny. Of course, my mate loves him immediately as she's just like him. Even after all these years and being the mother to my pups, she's still the same woman I fell in love with.
Corbin guides us upstairs and through the hallways, anxiousness filling me as I think about how my daughter is. Aurora squeezes my hand and looks up at me, soothing my mind with a gentle caress. I press a grateful kiss to her lips quickly while Corbin's and Ivan's backs are turned. Although I can feel her intense emotions over wanting to see our baby again, she's the only one keeping me calm right now.
We stop outside a wall of glass windows, an endless amount of relief filling me when I see Ayla laughing as she throws a grape at Asher Antonov. She's safe. My beasts that have been on edge ever since we lost her finally settle down. It's been extremely difficult and distressing for our family over the past few months.
"She's lost so much weight." Aurora whispers, a worried frown on her face.
"We're all doing everything we can to help Ayla become healthy again. Her wolf used up a lot of nutrients and energy during the coma so Ayla is a bit weak right now." Corbin's smile falters, a reminiscent look in his eyes.
"Why the fuck is he holding her like that?!" I growl furiously, my eyes narrowing on Asher's hands that are on my daughter's hips.
His eyes widen before he grimaces slightly. "Uh...I think it's best if they explain it to you."
We look back to see Asher pulling Ayla into his lap and that's when I see red. I snarl protectively and step forward, only to be yanked back by my mate who glares at me murderously. Ivan snickers under his breath, looking elsewhere as soon as I growl at him. I grumble in protest as I look back at them, wanting to rip his hands off for even touching my daughter.
"Are they..." Aurora trails off, a knowing smile on her lips.
"Ayla is Asher's beloved." Corbin grins, guiding us towards the door at the end of the hallway.” He found her on her second day in the kingdom and brought her back to the castle."
"No fucking way." Ivan breathes in shock, making both Aurora and I smack the back of his head for cursing.
Opening the door for us with a laugh, Corbin bids us goodbye. I'm itching to get in there and hold my pup, wanting to find out exactly what happened to her. Aurora takes my hand and smiles up at me as I press a kiss to her temple and breathe in her delicious scent to keep me calm. Turning the doorknob, we enter the room and I lock eyes with Asher.
He daringly ignores the furious glare I send him, whispering something in Ayla's ear. She looks up and her eyes widen, tears brimming them instantly. Asher helps her stand, stepping back to give us a moment with our daughter. Aurora hugs her tightly, their cries audible as Ivan and I wrap our arms around them both.
"Missed you, princess." I whisper, pressing a kiss to the crown of her head.
"I missed you guys so much!" She cries, turning to embrace me fully.
"It's okay, we're here now." I murmur, stroking her hair.
"I shouldn't have been practicing without supervision, I'm sorry!" She sobs into my shirt, making me wrap my arms around her.
"It's okay darling, you're safe. That's all that matters to me." I stroke her back, calming her down.
I see Aurora scanning her for injuries with a worried look, relief shining in her eyes when she finds none. But we both know that mentally and emotionally our baby could be struggling.
As soon as we step away, Ivan tackles her into another hug which makes me growl at him to be careful.
"Missed you, sis." Ivan whispers, rubbing her back as she sniffles.
"I missed you too." She whispers back, pulling away slightly to look up at him with guilt ridden eyes. "Are you mad?"
"Why would I be mad?" He frowns down at her, wiping her tears away.
"Because I left and -"
"I would never be mad at you!" He rolls his eyes playfully, a grin tugging at his lips. "I'm just glad you're okay. I felt what happened and I was really worried about you."
Her eyes widen before they roam over his figure. "A-Are you okay?"
"Just like you are." He nudges her with a reassuring smile.
We take a seat at the picnic bench in the garden, Asher and Ayla sitting opposite us. He grins down at her and winks when she thanks him for the surprise, draping an arm around her shoulders.
I want to rip his arm right out of its socket.
"Can you tell us what happened in detail, please?" Aurora asks, watching as they both nod to each other with a heavy sigh before turning to us.
"I wanted to practice teleporting and I was just going to do it from my room to the library. But I didn't do it properly or lost concentration and ended up in the woods here. I don't really know what happened. The first night, I stayed in an abandoned home in the woods and then set out early morning to ask someone for help. I was in the countryside when Asher found me, he was driving through." Ayla gazes at him and I can't help but notice how her body is slumped against his. Just how weak has my pup become?
"My cousin had pissed of an elder witch and she was out for revenge, killing any person she came across. She had found a way to manipulate the way we use our gifts and attack us during it. I refused to let Ayla leave until I took care of the situation but, we couldn't trace her. When we visited the courthouse, that's when Blithe attacked Ayla."
"Apparently, the witch got into my head and forced me to teleport just so she could kill me. She had a vendetta against Asher and his cousin, so she planned to kill me to exact her revenge on him. Back home you were training me on how to teleport shorter distances but Blithe forced me to study how to teleport longer distances. Eventually, she trapped me during the process and appeared right in front of me." Asher holds her tightly and I can feel her fright rolling off her in waves.
"Ayla was acting different and I would hear her murmuring to herself in her room late at night when she thought everyone was asleep. I found her teleporting one day and realized what was going on. One night, she suddenly ran off and before she teleported I used my gift of invisibility and grabbed her dress. Blithe was waiting for her but she didn't expect me. I fought her off as best as I could but she got to Ayla. Her wolf then took over to fight her alone and the witch struck her." He explains, staring down at her in sadness.
"I could feel the pain my wolf was in, my body shut down and I slipped into a two-month coma. Ivanna can't shift anymore or heal me, I can still feel and talk to her though." She sighs, her eyes shining with acceptance.
Aurora and I comfort her, telling her to stop blaming herself. Ivan looks down at the wooden table, a mix of emotions running across his face. Before she went missing, I had only just started training her and Ivan on how to work with their hybrids. They both had discovered their gifts straight after shifting so it was added pressure to make sure they were trained in both aspects, and quickly. She wasn't ready to fight a witch and what happened was understandable.
A knock interrupts us and I watch as Asher stands to talk to a guard outside. Making my way over to him, I nod for him to step outside with me. As soon as he closes the door, I ask the question that has been running through my mind ever since I saw Ayla.
"How is she really?"
He sighs heavily, leaning against the wall. "Not great but she's recovering steadily. She's terrified to travel, refuses to get into a car or a plane. I don't know if she'll ever want to teleport anymore, she has nightmares about it. That's why I said that you would have to come over."
I rub my face tiredly, wishing that I could do something to help my little girl. She doesn’t need me anymore though, she's found her mate and I know she won't be coming back home as I had originally planned. I stare at Asher while he's instructing a maid to prepare dinner and ensure that it's healthy for Ayla.
From the moment I saw him with her, I could tell he cares for her deeply. Maybe more than I do. My heart aches slightly at the thought of my daughter leaving home; starting a life with someone. But I know she's more comfortable here and that she'll be taken care of. But I'll be damned if something like this ever happens again. Asher needs to know that I'm willing to do everything in my power to keep my pup safe, even if it means taking her away.
I watch as he turns back to me, frowning at whatever he sees. "Is everything okay?"
"Just perfect." I drawl, stepping up to him. He tenses, eyes narrowed as he watches me with anticipation. "But if I hear that you upset or hurt my daughter in any way, I will make you beg for death. I'm sure you've heard the stories of my ruling?"
"Yes, sir. I promise, I will keep her happy here." He nods, determination shining in his eyes. I'm impressed when there's not the slightest hint of fear.
"Stop it, Vulcan." Aurora warns, shooting me a knowing look when I lock eyes with her from the glass window.
I obey, albeit reluctantly. My wife and pups then join us outside and I watch as Ayla instantly curls into Asher's side. He drapes an arm around her shoulders to support her, both in their little bubble as he whispers words of encouragement in her ear.
"Dinner's ready, come on." He starts to lead her down the hallway, Aurora and I following behind.
"But I already ate." She groans and I listen to them argue about how she hasn't been eating full meals.
I hear Ivan whispering to her that he'll finish her food for her if she can't eat it, grinning cheekily at Asher when he frowns down at him. I smirk when Ivan pushes Asher's arm off Ayla's shoulders, guiding his sister through the hallways instead. Asher huffs and follows behind like a lost puppy, knowing he can't fight back. I'm glad my son's protectiveness is coming through right now, Asher would be a fool to anger him especially when it concerns his twin.
"You think she'll be okay?" I look down at my mate before staring back at Asher who manages to sneakily slip his hand into Ayla's as he walks behind the siblings.
"I trust him, our daughter will be just fine." Aurora smiles up at me, her eyes bright with happiness.