Chapter 8 - Sage
When I venture out of the kitchen with Vito the next morning, we head to the sitting room where loud voices are coming from. I see a blonde-haired woman sitting in a chair, talking with Corbin and another man in hushed tones. She’s stunning with her angelic features and heart-shaped face, her light blue eyes reminding me of the sky. A bright smile graces her full lips when she spots me. Standing, she rounds the table quickly and embraces me, murmuring that she’s so happy to finally meet me.
“I’m Sage, Asher’s sister.” She grins when she pulls away, my eyes widening in realization when I notice the similar features. “I’m so happy to meet you!”
“I’m Ayla.” I smile, loving her bubbly personality. “I’m glad you’re here, it’s been very quiet since Asher left.”
“My brother’s no fun anyways.” She winks cheekily before introducing me to the man who comes up behind her. “This is my guard, Ben.”
“Your highness.” He bows, making me flush slightly.
“Just Ayla, please.” I smile, watching as Sage rolls her eyes at him playfully.
He nods and we all sit down on the armchairs and couches, the maids bringing in wine glasses filled with blood. It doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.
“Asher told me you were attending a wedding, did you have a good time?” I turn to Sage, watching her eyes light up.
“Yes! It was amazing, I just wish I didn’t have to come back so early.” She pouts before looking to Vito and Corbin. “Any update on Blithe?”
“She has her hiding spots, I’ll give her that.” Vito mutters, taking a sip of his drink.
“Have you guys heard from Asher?” I ask, watching them shake their heads.
I’m worried about him, especially after Corbin told me that the sighting in the northern part of the city was a trap and the whole place blew up. Nobody knows if Asher and his warriors were near it; if anyone is hurt. We’ve tried calling and texting them but received no reply. We also can’t ask other realms for help as the magic has been cut off and sending someone with a message is not worth the risk as Blithe is on a killing spree. I wish she would stop, killing people just because someone hurt you is a senseless act.
“Well boys, if you’ll excuse us we have some much-needed girl time planned.” I’m brought out of my thoughts when Sage grabs my hand and pulls me up.
Laughing at her energy, I follow her out of the room and down the hallway. She leads me back to the library and closes the door, but not before our guards take up post outside the room. Running over to one of the shelves, she pulls out a rectangular book. Bringing it over, she opens it up and I realize that it’s a photo album. It’s filled to the brim with pictures of them and their parents.
“So, you’re two years younger than Asher?” I murmur, the question coming out as more of a statement.
“Yes, although I’m 238 years old and Asher is 240 in reality.” She smirks and I nod in understanding.
She goes on to tell the stories behind every picture, a soft smile on her lips and a reminiscing look in her eyes. Just like Asher said, their childhood was sweet, full of adventure and family time. Sage is the spitting image of her mother and Asher is a mix of both his parents. Julius Antonov had dark brown hair and light blue eyes with a muscular build and he looked to be in his forties when I know he was probably way older. Sage received those angelic, soft features from her mother, Claire Antonov. Her mother had beautiful golden blonde hair and warm brown eyes, freckles smattered across her nose. She looked delicate yet strong at the same time, seemingly in her mid-thirties when these pictures were taken.
I remember my father telling me how Julius Antonov was the lost heir to the throne. The previous king had an affair with his mother but banished her as soon as he found out she was pregnant. Years later, when the king was on his deathbed, Julius forced him to make him the successor since he had no heirs to give the position to. Eventually, Julius found Claire in the Fae realm and claimed her as his beloved.
“We have albums with pictures of just us and Asher’s one has the most embarrassing pictures of him. Hold on, let me go and look for it!” She giggles, running out of the room.
I turn back to the pictures in front of me, smiling softly at baby Asher playing with his toys on the carpet. Turning the page, a chuckle escapes me when I see a picture of Sage crying and Asher smiling as he holds up a doll. I assume she wasn’t too happy about her toy being taken away from her. I flick through the album, taking my time to look at every picture of their childhood.
However, my attention is soon captured by the familiar scent of orange and chocolate. I look up to find Asher leaning against the door frame, a soft smile on his lips as he gazes at me. He’s dressed in a white button up shirt with black slacks, the first few buttons undone allowing his dark chest hair to peek out from underneath.
“Asher, you’re back!” I breathe in surprise, smiling widely.
I can’t help myself from jumping up and embracing him tightly, blushing furiously when my actions catch up to me. Pulling away slightly, I avoid his eyes as he grazes the back of his knuckles across my cheek. His touch sparks heat within me, making me go crazy and I must bite my bottom lip to stop myself from making an embarrassing sound.
“Someone’s excited to see me.” He chuckles, a tender look in his eyes.
“You left me here for weeks and I had nobody until Vito, Corbin and Sage came.” I huff, crossing my arms as I take a seat on the couch again.
He rubs the back of his neck in a sheepish manner, a guilty look in his chocolate brown eyes. “I’m sorry, I just want to get rid of Blithe and it’s taking longer than I thought. She’s clever at hiding herself.”
“It’s okay, I understand.” I smile softly, finally noticing how stressed and tired he looks. I shouldn’t be complaining when he has an entire kingdom to think about.
“Let me take you out on a date.” He states suddenly, making me frown.
“Where will we go? I thought you said I can’t leave the castle.”
“There’s hidden places inside this castle.” He grins boyishly, crouching in front of me. “Please?”
I melt at his pleading tone, nodding shyly. He beams at me in response, excitement rolling off him in waves as he kisses my cheek. Almost running out of the room, I’m still able to hear him tell me to be ready by six. My eyes widen when they land on the clock, it’s almost half four. Marking the page of my current read, I leave it on the table before making my way towards my bedroom. I groan when I’m faced with the decision of what to wear for the date.
“What are you doing?”
I scream, jumping out of my skin as I turn around to see Sage standing in the doorway of the walk-in closet. Her eyes are sparkling with humor as she takes a seat on the white ottoman. Pressing a hand to my chest to calm my racing heart, I glare at her playfully when she wiggles her perfectly arched brows. For a hybrid with stronger senses I need to be more aware of my surroundings.
“I-I have a date with Asher.” I mumble, my cheeks turning scarlet when she squeals loudly.
“I know.” She grins excitedly, pushing me out of the way as she searches through the racks of clothes Asher had bought me. “He’s going to drop dead when he sees you!”
She pauses before snickering under breath, muttering that he’s already dead. I chuckle at the pun, leaning against a wall of shoes as she picks out some outfits for me to wear. I frown in confusion when they’re all summer clothes. She catches my expression and smiles widely, telling me to trust her and that I’m going to love where he’s taking me. Apparently, they had bumped into each other and Sage forced it out of him.
We eventually decide on a striped denim dress with spaghetti straps. It has a sweetheart neckline and the bodice laces up in the middle. The skirt seems to be about mid-thigh and it has pockets. I pick out a pair of white converses, much to Sage’s protests, and some jewelry. When she closes the door behind her, I put the dress on with the shoes and accessories. Walking over to the mirror, I bite my lip in excitement when I like how it looks on me.
Knocking, Sage peeks in and grins when she sees me all dressed. “You know what? I actually like how the converses go with the outfit.”
She then sits me down on a seat, taking out all the makeup that was bought with the clothes. My eyes widen at the number of things stuffed into the drawers. Turning to me with an excited smile, she reassures me that she’ll do a natural look. We chat about anything and everything as she helps me get ready, I love how comfortable I am around her. She reminds me of Valentina and Misha back home, a dull ache growing in my chest at the thought of my sisters.
Without letting me look at my finished makeup, she starts on my hair. I feel her braiding pieces on each side before tying it in the back. Then, she steps around with a curling iron and proceeds to style my hair. I feel her run a brush through the strands afterwards, loosening them up but still holding a soft curl.
I hop off the chair when she says she’s finished and step towards the floor length mirror. The butterflies in my stomach flutter like crazy when I see my reflection; I love everything about my look. It’s relaxed and playful, not too over the top for a first date.
“I love it!” I grin, turning to hug her tightly.
My eyes widen when we hear the knocking on the door, realizing it’s six already. I suddenly feel nervous, what if he doesn’t like what I’m wearing? What if this date doesn’t go well? I think to myself in panic.
“I’m so happy for you two.” Sage smiles gently, squeezing my hand with a stern look. “You’re going to enjoy it, don’t worry so much.”
“Okay.” I reply shakily, following her out of the closet to the door.
“Good luck!” She whispers, making shooing motions with her hands.
Taking a deep, albeit shaky, breath I open the door and smile nervously up at Asher. He looks handsome as ever in a white shirt, blue denim jeans and shoes. My nerves calm when I see how relaxed his outfit is; like mine. I shut the door behind me, clenching the hem of my dress as I wait for him to say something.
“You look beautiful.” He breathes, making me blush.
“Thank you, you look very handsome.” I reply, letting him take my hand and guide me down the hallway.
“Excited?” He grins down at me but I find it hard to focus when his thumb is rubbing circles into my skin.
“Yes, you didn’t tell me where we’re going though?” I question, frowning in confusion when we climb the stairs to the third floor.
“It’s a surprise.” He winks as we go up yet another floor. “You’ll have to wait and see.”