Chapter 6 - Key to My Heart
I wake the next morning in slight disorientation before everything hits me all at once; using my gift, ending up in the vampire kingdom, finding Asher. Sitting up, I look towards the window to find it dark still which makes me frown. Does the sun even come out here? I wonder to myself. I climb off the bed and make my way into the en-suite bathroom. All I remember from yesterday is talking to Asher in the kitchen before he noticed that I was getting sleepy. He gave me the spare room next to his, telling me that I can move into his whenever I’m ready. I found it incredibly sweet that he always thinks about my comfort before his.
The room I’m in is quite nice with brown and cream paint on the walls, a queen-sized bed in the middle with a bathroom to the right and a spacious wardrobe to the left. There’s dark brown, wooden bedside tables on each side of the bed with lamps on them. A television screen hangs on the wall in front of the bed and there’s a chest of drawers by the window. The mattress is the softest with its cosy blankets and although I woke up confused this morning, I can’t deny that I had the best night’s sleep.
Quickly brushing and washing my face, I take a long shower before dressing in a red hoodie and black jeans. Tying my hair in a ponytail after blow drying it, I slip my shoes on before opening the door. I nearly jump out of my skin when I see Asher standing there. He chuckles, taking my hand and intertwining it with his before leading me down the hallway.
“Like a baby.” I grin, loving the sound of his laughter. “The bed felt like I was sleeping on a cloud!”
Asher guides me into a dining room where it’s only us, a delicious breakfast spread set out on the table. Taking a seat to his right, he tells me to have whatever I want. There are waffles, pancakes, fresh fruit, smoothies and so much more! A maid comes out with a glass of red liquid, making me watch as Asher takes a few sips. He stares back at me, licking the drop of blood from his lips before nodding at my plate as if telling me to start eating.
“What are your plans for today?” I ask, pouring myself some orange juice.
“I have paperwork to do and a lot of meetings.” He replies, making me wonder what I can get up to in the castle.
I didn’t want to spend my time here being bored out of my mind, but I’m not going to be selfish and take Asher away from his duties either. Maybe I could take a walk and explore the castle. Although, when I glance at the windows in the dining room and see the gloomy weather, I doubt there will be much to do outside.
“Why is it so dark here all the time?” I ask suddenly, wondering why I haven’t seen any sunlight since the day I arrived in this kingdom.
“We’re vampires, remember?” He smiles boyishly, draining the glass. “The sun will burn our skin, so when this realm was created at the request of whoever the king was at the time, he asked for there to be no sunlight. Why, you don’t like it?”
My nose scrunches in dislike which he chuckles at. “No, it’s kind of depressing.”
“I’ll figure something out to make you happy, my queen.” He murmurs teasingly, grinning when a fierce blush graces my cheeks.
“You don’t have to. Just because I’m not fond of it now doesn’t mean I won’t get used to it.” I smile shyly, popping the last bite of waffle in my mouth.
He sits in silence, staring ahead with a faraway look in his eyes. When I finish and a maid takes my plate for me, he seems to snap out of his trance. Looking at me with a smile, he stands and asks me to follow him. Puzzled, I slip my hand in his and let him take me wherever it is he plans to go.
After climbing the stairs, he stops on the floor where our bedrooms are outside a wooden door with an intricate gold handle. I gaze at him in curiosity to which he just smiles secretively in return. Asher opens the door and I follow him in, my eyes widening at the sight in front of me. It’s a large library with floor to ceiling length bookshelves lining most of the walls. Metal stairs curve in a spiral to the very top with the most intricate patterns. Armchairs and couches fill the space with coffee tables and lamps, making it seem extremely cosy.
“I love this!” I breathe, my fingertips tracing the spines of familiar novels.
I pick out The Great Gatsby as soon as I spot it, smoothing my hand over its cover. By the end of my admiration of the countless of books in this library, I’m carrying over five different ones to start reading immediately. The bookshelves are filled with both classic and modern tales, all of which I can’t wait to read.
A husky chuckle snaps me out of my thoughts and I look up to find Asher’s eyes trained on me with humor dancing in those chocolate brown depths. I flush under his gaze, realizing that I completely ignored him in all my excitement.
“Sorry, I’m a little book crazy.” I mumble, tucking a piece of hair behind my ear out of nervousness.
He walks up to me, rounding the coffee table and crouching in front of the armchair where I sit. His gaze is soft and flickering with something unbeknownst to me. My breath hitches slightly when he cups my cheek, rubbing his thumb across my cheekbone. His eyes stare directly into mine; as if looking into my soul. The intensity of it makes me squirm slightly, curious to know what he finds there.
“No need to apologize, I’m happy you love the library. You’re free to spend as much time as you like in here.” He laughs when I perk up in excitement.
“Yes,” He nods, standing again. “Although I can’t let you leave I don’t want you to feel like a prisoner here.”
My mood deflates when I’m reminded of how I’m stuck here for a while. I know that I belong here as Asher’s mate anyway, but my parents are probably worried sick right now and I just want to let them know that I’m okay. I wince as I think about how angry dad is going to be with me and knowing how overprotective he is over me, he’s going to be furious to find out that I’ve found my mate. I don’t realize I’ve zoned out until Asher tilts my chin up, bringing me out of my thoughts.
“It’s only for a little while, I’m trying my best to find the witch.” He murmurs, making me smile and nod.
“I understand but, can we not send messages or call people?”
“She’s destroyed the lines of communication between the vampire realm and others. It’s essentially magic that allows us to communicate with the outside world; magic that witches have the power to manipulate. I had two warlocks making sure that nobody abused our system but...” He sighs heavily, staring at the carpeted floor with a clenched jaw. “They were murdered two weeks ago when this all started.”
I remain silent, mostly due to shock, but I do take his hand and squeeze it. He smiles fleetingly, appreciating the small gesture. I can see the worry in his eyes and the tenseness of his shoulders, he’s no doubt tired of it all. I can’t imagine the immense amount of pressure he feels to fix the problem right away. But he’s only one person, I hope his people are patient and understanding.
“Would you like to stay and read with me?” I ask hesitantly, wanting to take his mind off things.
Surprisingly he agrees, sitting next to me on the couch. He asks me to read to him and so, I spend the next while reading chapters of The Great Gatsby. We talk some more too, finding out pieces of information about the other. I find out that he loves to cook but doesn’t do it often because of his duties, his favorite color is blue and he likes sports and activities that are adventurous and jam packed with adrenaline.
Pretty soon, we’ve completely forgotten about the book and are more focused on getting to know each other. Sadly, his parents passed away in a car accident soon after he turned eighteen and he’s been ruling the kingdom ever since. Grace is the only parental figure in his life and no matter how many times he’s asked her to stop working, she continues to do it anyway.
“I had a great childhood though,” He smiles, a faraway look in his eyes. “My parents would spend as much time as possible with Sage and I, and Dad would always put his family first. We used to have family trips twice a year.”
“You mentioned a sister yesterday but I forgot to ask you about her.” I look up at him in curiosity.
“Sage Antonov. She was spoilt by our parents and I.” He chuckles, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. “She’s two years younger than me and a nightmare to take care of.”
I giggle when he rolls his eyes in a playful manner, knowing that he loves her very much judging by the tenderness in his voice. “Where is she now?”
“She was attending a friend’s wedding in the northern lands but I’ve sent out some of my warriors to bring her back safe. Hopefully, she’ll be here in the next few days. I can’t risk her being out there and potentially getting hurt.” He explains, making me hum in agreement.
We’re both interrupted by sharp knocking and a man peeking in. He has jet black hair with hazel eyes, a muscular build that only emphasizes his toned body. He’s quite tall, just like Asher. But unlike Asher’s sharp features, this man has softer ones and looks more approachable. He’s wearing a pair of black jeans with a white t-shirt and combat boots on his feet. When he starts walking towards us, I notice around five daggers on him which makes my eyes widen in surprise.
“Ayla, meet Dimitri. He’s my second in command.” He introduces us, pulling me up with him. “Dimitri, this is my beloved Ayla Romanov.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Ayla. I’ve heard many tales about your parents.” He grins charmingly, shaking my hand.
“They are quite the formidable couple.” I laugh, remembering the bedtime stories my parents would tell Ivan and I to get us to sleep. It was only when we grew up that we realized they were all real.
“We’ll have to chat more some time, Ayla. For now, Asher is needed in the conference room.” He states, looking at him with a serious expression.
“I’ll see you at dinner?” Asher turns to me with an apologetic look.
I smile, squeezing his hand to let him know that it’s okay. “I’ll be waiting. Bye, you two.”
Dimitri all but drags Asher away when he makes a move to hug me, muttering about how they are going to be late if he doesn’t stop acting like a lovesick puppy. I watch them leave, chuckling at the pair as the sound of them arguing echoes in the hallway.