Chapter 9 - Secret Haven
“Here we are.”
We’re outside a wooden door but the walls on either side of it are floor to ceiling length windows. The only problem is that it’s like they’re covered because I can’t see anything through them. I look to Asher for an explanation but he’s concentrating on the door.
“Revelati ce este ascuns.” He murmurs in a foreign language, I’m guessing Romanian. (Reveal what is hidden.)
He smiles and points for me to open the door. Staring at him in suspicion, I step forward and twist the handle. My jaw drops as I step in, slightly flinching at the bright light since my eyes had adjusted to the usual darkness. Everything is made from glass and steel with both the walls and the ceiling letting the warm sunlight in. There’s flowers and trees everywhere, bright green grass stretching out in front of me with a winding path leading to a white gazebo at the end. There’s a wooden swing tied to a tree branch and I can hear birds chirping and bees flitting from one flower to the next in search of nectar. Tucked away in a corner is a pond with water lilies, ducks swimming around on top of it. It resembles a greenhouse with its glass ceiling but it’s a huge garden.
“What...how?” I smile widely, tilting my head upwards so that the sun’s rays can kiss my face.
“The Fae and Vampire realms are two polar opposites.” He takes my hand and intertwines them as we walk around. “My mother hated the constant darkness and missed her home terribly, so my father enlisted the help of a witch to create this garden for her. Everything is magic yet it all feels and smells very real.”
“It’s amazing!” I laugh in delight, trailing my fingertips over the rows of tulips. “Thank you for sharing it with me.”
We roam around the garden, taking everything in until I spot a picnic basket on top of a blanket. Asher pulls me to it and we sit down while I watch him take out the food. There’s fruits, lemonade, chocolate and sandwiches. I peek inside the basket and chuckle when I notice the many other snacks he’s brought along.
“I didn’t know what you’d like.” He admits, a slight pink tinge to his cheeks.
“Everything looks great.” I admit, taking a chicken sandwich from him. “Will you eat too?”
“It doesn’t do anything for me but it’s not bad.” He shrugs, taking a sip of lemonade. “Tell me more about yourself, your family, your life back home.”
“Well, I’m Ivan’s twin. He’s older than me by a few minutes and we’re the eldest, then it’s Valentina and another set of twins; Misha and Mikhail.”
“Wow, your house must be crazy.” He chuckles, making me smile as I remember countless memories of my siblings and I wreaking havoc. “Does Valentina ever feel left out since twins are more connected?”
“No, we always make sure that she’s included in everything we do. But Valentina is like the life of a party; her energy is contagious and everyone wants to be around her instead of the opposite.” I laugh, thinking back on how many times my sister got scolded by my parents for doing something reckless or wild. “She’s really independent, which is a nightmare for my parents sometimes.”
“Is she a hybrid too?”
“No, Valentina is fifteen and she hasn’t shifted yet. There’s only two more months to go so, she’s pretty excited.” I laugh, taking a sip of lemonade.
“And how old are Misha and Mikhail?
“Eleven. Those two look exactly like our mom with their black hair and grey eyes.” I laugh, remembering how mom would always tease that she loves them more.
“Is it guaranteed that all of you will be hybrids, a werewolf or vampire even if your mom was a human before?” He frowns thoughtfully, setting his bottle down on the grass.
“Yes. My mom was kidnapped by a vampire who bit over dad’s mark. His own vampire came out to save her and marked her again along with his wolf. She then woke up with all the abilities of dad’s beasts. She can’t shift or anything but she’s just as powerful as my dad. A different kind of hybrid, I guess.” I shrug with a smile, my mom is a badass and it’s better to stay on her good side.
“That’s really interesting.” He hums, taking a bite of his sandwich. “And what about you? How was your life back home?”
“It was great, much like yours. I attended high school until sixteen, took a year out and when I turned seventeen my brother and I resumed our studies. We were home-schooled during that year. Dad wanted us to focus on training with our gifts and working with our beasts because we were extremely unstable at the start. Other than that, life was good. My parents always put us kids above anything else and we’ve gone on multiple trips around the world.” He pulls me in between his legs as he listens and I rest my head back on his chest as I eat.
“Any friends? Boyfriends?” His voice turns hard at the end, making me laugh and shake my head.
“None of each. I had a few friends in school and in the pack but they were just with me because of who I am. What about you?”
“I’m sorry, sweetheart.” He whispers, hugging me tightly and nestling his nose in the crook of my neck. “I have a few good friends that I trust my life with; Vito, Corbin and Dimitri being three of them. I’m also friends with a witch and a warlock; Astra and Fabian. The five of us met when we were young and have known each other since. As for girlfriends, none. I was...uh...I was waiting for you actually.”
I turn to see him blushing slightly, making me pinch his cheeks with a squeal. He groans, shoving me a little. Laughing, we continue to talk some more and when I check his watch, I find that two hours have passed. Eventually, we pack up and I’m sad to leave the garden but he tells me that ever since his mother died it’s been lonely and that I can make it my own if I wish. I thank him with a kiss to his cheek, appreciating it.
“I need to get back to work.” He rubs a hand over his face tiredly.
“Can I help?” I ask, wanting to take the load off his shoulders.
“I’m happy you want to but, until you’re officially crowned as my Queen I want you to get settled in and train with Corbin and Vito.” He smiles, caressing my cheek.
“Only if you promise to rest properly.” I cut him off when he opens his mouth to protest. “And I don’t mean resting in your office.”
He chuckles, pressing a firm yet lingering kiss to my forehead. I look up at him as he pulls away slowly, his chocolate brown eyes roaming over every feature of my face; as if committing everything to memory. The sweet moment suddenly changes to one full of desire as his eyes flicker to my lips. My breath hitches audibly and I suddenly feel a rush of heat, wanting to feel his lips against mine. Cupping my face with both hands, he turns to me fully. No words are spoken, instead the question lies in his eyes as they move between mine and my lips, silently asking if he can kiss me.
The action makes me smile and I nod without hesitation. Although this will be my first kiss, I trust him completely even if there are a million butterflies wreaking havoc in my tummy. His soft lips meet mine and I follow him as he guides the kiss. I feel like I’ve come alive and smile when I feel the tingles dancing on my skin. He pulls me closer to the point where I’m straddling him, making me blush over our position.
Suddenly, he bites my bottom lip hard which makes me groan in discomfort. I start to move away but he only pulls me back, catching my lip again between his teeth and pulling on it gently almost like he’s soothing it. His tongue tangles with mine, taking over the kiss completely. It turns frenzied and passionate, making me moan. I flush in embarrassment at the loud sound, avoiding his eyes when he pulls away chuckling.
“I love it when you blush.” He smirks boyishly, pressing kisses to my heated cheeks.
“Stop!” I laugh, trying to push him away when he starts peppering my jawline and neck with kisses.
He presses one last, lingering kiss to my lips before pulling away. I smile up at him as he grabs the basket, taking his free hand and following him towards the door. We walk down the hallways until we reach the floor where my bedroom is, turning towards each other. I almost laugh at how much this feels like the end of a date where the guy drops the girl off at her home, except Asher and I live in the same place and are right next door to each other.
“I had a great time, thank you.” I smile, melting when he brushes his lips against my knuckles.
“I’m glad. Does this mean I can take you out on a second date?” He grins cheekily, wrapping an arm around my waist when I laugh.
“Hmm...” He replies, resting his forehead against mine.
He doesn’t make any move to leave and instead, closes his eyes and nestles his face into the crook of my neck. I hug him back, amused over his actions. After standing there for a while, he eventually pulls away and sighs.
“I guess I better let you get some sleep.”
“Don’t work too hard, okay?” I smile widely when he nods in response.
“Sweet dreams, ingerul meu.” He murmurs, giving me one last kiss before backing away.
“What does that mean?” I call, watching him retreat further down the hall.
“My angel.” He replies, winking when I blush before he finally turns the corner and disappears.
I smile giddily before opening my door and walking in, finding Sage on my bed watching TV. She wiggles her brows at me cheekily which makes my blush return. I’m getting tired of feeling like my cheeks are on fire.
“You kissed!” She squeals, jumping up and down. I groan when she uses her speed to run over to me but in her excitement she ends up crashing into me and sending us both to the ground. “I don’t want any details because...gross, he’s my brother. But I’ll have you know that if I’m not your maid of honor and the godparent of your first born, I will kill you.”
Laughing, I push her off me and plop down on the bed. She follows me and lays on her stomach, staring at me expectantly and I know I have a dreamy smile on my lips.
“It was amazing, he took me to your mother’s garden for a picnic.”
“Yeah, mom would bring us there all the time.” She chuckles, swinging her legs in the air. “We would play while she tended to her flowers or relaxed on the grass.”
“It’s a beautiful place.” I agree, taking off my shoes. “Asher was very sweet, I’m glad we got to spend more time with each other.”
I turn to her only to be greeted with a sad frown as she stares at the duvet. Her cheerful personality has disappeared and she seems to be thinking about something, lost in her own thoughts. “What’s wrong, Sage?”
“Oh! Nothing, it’s nothing.” She brushes me off, sitting up. “So, do you want to watch a movie?”
I give her a knowing look. “Tell me.”
“I...I found my mate.” She whispers, biting her lip nervously. “When I was at the wedding, he was there too. His name is Helios Montgomery.”
“Sage, that’s amazing. Why don’t you seem happy about it?” I frown in confusion, wondering what the issue could be.
“Because Asher hates him!” She cries hysterically, slumping against the pillows. “He’s a council member and never fails to get on Asher’s nerves. According to him, he’s rude and objects to everything. There’s no way my brother will let me be with him!”
“Asher’s opinion of him shouldn’t stop you from being with Helios.” I chuckle, moving over to sit beside her. I draw her in for a hug and she happily leans into me, resting her head on my shoulder with a pout. “What matters is that you are happy.”
“I know but I’d like for them to get along, you know?” She replies in a small voice, drawing circles into the mattress.
“I understand and they’ll work it out knowing how much it means to you. I’ll help convince Asher.” I smirk, cheering her up.
“Thank you.” She murmurs, turning to hug me fully. “I’m happy I have someone like you, Ayla.”