T W E N T Y - S I X
“Where are we going?” I asked Zephyr after we left Charon and the entrance to Hell behind us.
“Put this on” he handed me a...beanie?
I blinked up at him.
“It’s like eighty degrees out here” I stated “And the sun’s beating down on my head. There’s no way I’m putting that thing on now. Maybe later?”
Zephyr took the beanie from my hands and gently placed in on my head, making sure that it looked okay first before grabbing my hand and practically dragging me through an unknown forest.
“Hey!” I yelled “I said I didn’t want to wear this!”
“You will if you want to see the surprise I have planned for you.”
“So if I don’t wear the beanie, you’ll take me back to Hell?” I scoffed “Seems a little dramatic to me. Not to mention, such a waste of time.”
“You need the beanie” Zephyr said, walking faster.
I raised a brow “Care to elaborate?”
Zephyr halted his footsteps and turned to face me.
“Do you know about the gifts the Cyclopes gave to my father and Uncles?” he asked, biting his lip.
I thought about his question, trying to recall my very limited knowledge about Greek Mythology.
“The Lightening Bolt? And Trident?” I answered hesitantly.
Zephyr nodded “And my dad’s Cap of Invisibility.”
My eye brows rose “This thing?”
“But it’s a beanie?” I questioned “I thought Hades gift would be more...ornate and flashy.”
“It’s a Cap of Invisibility Princess, what says invisible more than something that looks like a plain piece of clothing” Zephyr smirked “Plus, the Cap fits to the wearer’s needs. And you most definitely don’t need something flashy that can draw attention.”
Zephyr pinched my cheeks “It’s all part of the surprise.”
I slapped his hand away and glared at him “I swear if you tell me that one more time, I’ll...”
“You’ll what Short stuff?” He grinned “Injure my shins? Tickle me to death?”
I snorted, walking past him “You wish.”
Just Ignore him Sin.
Do what Mom does to Dad whenever Dad’s being an obnoxious jerk face.
“The more you ignore them, the more they’ll think about what they did and realize their stupidity.”
I remember my Mom saying to me after their last fight, when my Dad literally couldn’t stand five hours without talking to her.
It was hilarious to me considering that my Dad, one of the Coldest and Scariest Alpha’s in the world, was down on his knees, begging his HUMAN wife for forgiveness.
“I know what you’re doing” Zephyr caught up with me “And just to let you know, silence doesn’t work on me.”
15 MINUTES LATER
“UGH!” Zephyr groaned “I’m sorry for insulting your height.”
I glanced at him, motioning him to continue.
“And for insulting your frog’s name.”
I bit my cheek, tampering my smile down, and continued to motion for him to go on.
He groaned again “And for forcing you to wear the beanie in this...mild heat.”
I raised an eyebrow and he held his hands up.
“I’m not sorry for the surprise” He defended.
I gave him a goofy grin and kissed his cheek.
“I wasn’t really mad at you” I whispered in his ear “I just wanted to see if my mom’s groveling method worked.”
I dashed away quickly, dodging in and out of the trees gracefully.
“YOU LITTLE MINX!” He cried out, giving way to the chase “AND HERE I THOUGHT I FUCKED UP ROYALLY!”
I laughed, nearly tripping over a tree root as I did.
When I went to jump over the root, the tree’s branches came down and trapped me against the tree trunk.
“NO FAIR!” I laughed, trying to wiggle out of the tree’s grasped “I FORGOT ABOUT YOUR STUPID POWERS!”
“Don’t forget next time Princess” Zephyr appeared out of nowhere, grinning down at me, revenge lighting his bright violet eyes.
“Zee” I laughed, using his childhood nickname “We can talk about this. Just please let me go.”
“It’s too late for talking” He smirked, wiggling his fingers at me “What I want now is sweet revenge.”
“NO!” I squealed when he lunged at me, tickling my sides until I was cry/laughing “ZEPHYR!”
“Fifteen tickles for the fifteen agonizing minutes you had me thinking you were pissed at me” He growled, playfully nipping my neck “I should double your punishment to fit the crime.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” I said breathlessly, from both the tickling and his proximity.
“Oh but I would” he stopped the tickling for a few moments and just left his face in the crook of my neck.
I sighed and relaxed against the tree, feeling the branches release me into Zephyr’s hold.
“Serenity” he mumbled quietly into my neck.
“I’m going to kiss you now” he said softly “While I’m, you know, sober.”
My breath caught and he pulled back.
I smiled when my eyes met his crimson and violet ones.
“Okay...” I breathed out.
He smiled and cupped my jaw before leaning in and giving me a light kiss.
I closed my eyes, sighing with contentment.
When he pulled back after a few seconds, I almost frowned.
He laughed softly before kissing the corner of my mouth “For now, yes.”
“Why?” I nearly pouted.
“Because if I kiss you again, we’ll most likely spend whatever time we have left making out instead of enjoying your surprise.”
“I’m okay with that” I reached for him “Surprises are overrated anyways.”
He laughed, taking a step away from me.
This time, I did pout and (I’m not ashamed to admit it) whine a little.
He didn’t let me finish, choosing to grab my hand, and lead me towards the edge of the forest.
“Come on,” He said excitedly “We’re almost there!”
“Almost whe-..” The words died in my mouth the moment my eyes found an achingly familiar brick home.
“What...How...Why?” I wheezed out, catching my sobs before they broke free.
“I know how much family means to you” Zephyr whispered quietly “That’s why, I’ve been keeping tabs on them. When I found out your Aunt Kassi had her baby, I knew that you had to see him before we left on our mission or else...”
He was going to say more but I cut him off, lunging at him and covering his face with kisses.
“Thank you Thank you Thank you!” I sniffled “You don’t...I can’t...How do I repay you?”
“Just smile” He cupped my cheek “You’ve hardly smile, a real smile, since we’ve been down there.”
He took a deep breath before exhaling it slowly.
“I know our situation is ideal, and for that, I’m truly sorry” He gave me a weak smile “But I want you to know, that no matter what, I will always do whatever’s needed in order to see that beautiful smile of yours.”
I swooned, nearly melting into a pile of goo if it was humanly possible.
I kissed him on the lips quickly before jumping up, ready to go meet my Godson.
He wrapped his arm around my waist, pulling me to a stop.
“Before we go in there, I just wanted to remind you of the rules.”
I scrunched my nose and looked up at him “What rules?”
“Well the first one being that, in order for that Cap to work, you need to keep it on at all times.”
“Figured that” I smiled “What else?”
“And in order for me to be protected to, I need to keep my hands on you the whole time.”
“And finally, we need to remain quiet. While the Cap cloaks our appearance, it can’t cloak our voices. So we need to stay vigilant about our surroundings and make sure we don’t speak out loud.”
“Fine” I said, walking excitedly towards the house “Is that all?”
He caught my elbow and I glanced at him.
“And not matter what,” He said softly “We can’t let them know we’re here.”
I glanced away “I understand.”
He tilted my chin up so our gazes clashed “I know this isn’t the ideal way to meet the newest addition to your family, but-”
“It’s better than nothing” I cut him off, kissing his cheek “Thank you.”
He nodded “Ready when you are.”
I took a deep breath in “Ready.”
I was almost at the back gate when I stopped him.
“Wait!” I whispered.
“What is it?”
“How are we supposed to get in there without anyone noticing?”
“Your Uncle invited the whole family to see the baby as a way of extending an olive branch.”
“Why?” I questioned “Is my family fighting?”
Zephyr remained quiet for a few seconds “Kind of?”
I narrowed my eyes “What’s going on?”
“Oh look!” He pointed above my shoulder “The baby!”
I whipped my head around and found my Aunt siting on her gorgeous patio swing.
I nearly ran to Aunt Kassi’s side, wanting to cry at the sight of her new little nugget.
“Remember, we can’t make a sound” Zephyr whispered in my ear.
I gazed down at the little guy, tears streaming down my face.
He had tiny little features and puffs of blonde wisps on his head that made me want to reach out and see if they felt as soft as they looked.
His eyes were closed and he was sleeping, which left me curious to see what color eyes he had.
“Did he respond?” Aunt Kassi asked her husband, biting her lip as she rocked her son back and forth in the chair.
“They’ll be here” Uncle Rhys said softly, his eyes betraying his uncertainty “Trust me, no matter how angry he is, he’ll want to meet his new nephew.”
“That’s not what I asked” she said softly.
“If he doesn’t, than it’s his loss” My uncle said softly, sitting next to his wife “But we all know how much Azriel meant to Serenity.”
My Godson’s name was Azriel.
They went with the name I suggested.
I clamped my hands around my mouth to keep myself from sobbing out loud.
Who knew I could cry this much? Me? The so called Ice Queen?
The slamming of a car door sounded from the front of the house and my Aunt perked up.
Suddenly her wolf,Valkyrie, was by her side.
“Can you go see who that is Ky?” Aunt Kassi asked softly.
Valkyrie nuzzled the top of Azriel’s head and nodded, taking off towards the front door.
When she passed us, our gazes locked, and she faltered in her steps.
I panicked, shaking my head frantically, and begging her with my eyes to keep my presences a secret.
She shook her head slowly before treading away.
I let out a whoosh of breath I didn’t realize I was holding.
“He’s not coming” Aunt Kassi said and smiled when Azriel let out a yawn “I can feel it.”
“And I don’t blame him” Aunt Kassi rushed out “If our children were taken and he was responsible for it, I would be extremely angry too.”
Uncle Rhys made a frustrated noise in the back of his throat.
“Baby, it’s not like you sold Serenity out for your own personal gain” Rhys said roughly “You didn’t even know who Hades was going to take when you made that deal! A deal, might I remind you, that saved everyone’s lives! Including Kaden’s!”
I winced at the angry tone Uncle Rhys used for my father’s name.
Uncle Rhys rarely yelled, if ever, and absolutely respected my father.
I knew that if he said my dad’s name with this much disdain, than whatever was going on between the two of them must have been bad.
My cousins walked in, looking exhausted, and my heart nearly burst out of my chest at the sight of their faces.
I missed them so much and wanted to run to them but knew I couldn’t.
“Kaden?” Aunt Kassi asked, biting her lip.
EJ shook his head “Him and Tristan decided to stay home.”
Aunt Kassi deflated “Oh.”
“But Aunt Sky’s here” AJ said cheerfully, eyes darting back and forth between my mother and Aunt “And she brought her famous lemon cookies that you like so much.”
Aunt Kassi stood up and handed baby Azriel to my uncle.
In five quick strides, both my mother and her were in each others arms, crying like it was a funeral instead of a party.
“I’m so sorry!” Aunt Kassi wailed “I didn’t...mean...to...hurt...you!”
“I’m sorry too” My mom sniffled “For not coming to see you sooner.”
“Don’t apologize” Aunt Kassi said “I understand.”
“I was being selfish, not taking into account your feelings too.” Mom shook her head “Its just...I...we... miss our baby so much.”
I winced at the pain in my mother voice and Zephyr rubbed circles on my wrist soothingly, letting me know that he was there if I needed him.
“Anyways,” Mom dried her eyes “I knew how much this baby meant to Serenity and how upset she would be if I didn’t see him.”
Aunt Kassi laughed, taking my mother’s hand and leading her towards a smiling Uncle Rhys.
“Sky, I would be honored if you met our newest addition” Uncle Rhys said, beaming down proudly at his son “”Azriel, this is your Aunt Sky.”
Mom cupped her mouth, looking at Kassi in shock “You went with Serenity’s suggestion?”
“It seemed appropriate considering the manor of his birth” Aunt Kassi smiled at her son “Plus, it was the prettiest name I’ve ever heard.”
“It is” Mom said “Thank you.”
“Your girl’s got taste” Uncle Rhys commented, cradling Azriel closer to his chest “Before she suggested it, we were panicking because every name we tried just didn’t fit him. I swear Kassi was about this close from losing her mind.”
I smiled when Mom laughed.
I was momentarily distracted when my cousins walked by, whispering harshly to one another.
I followed them, eavesdropping on their conversation.
“It’s rude to listen in on someone else’s conversation” Zephyr whispered in my ear.
I shot him a look and waved him away.
“...Wants to leave tonight.” EJ whispered “Is he out of his mind?!”
“He has to do something” AJ said softly “He said he’s going insane not knowing what’s happening.”
“But we barely have leads” EJ argued “And the one we do have is sketchy as hell.”
“What can we do?” AJ asked “He’s our Alpha right now until Sin comes back. We have to follow his lead.”
“If she comes back.” EJ whispered underneath his breath.
AJ reared her head back in shock “What does that mean?”
“Maybe we should go...” Zephyr said softly but I waved him off.
My own breath caught, waiting for EJ to explain his comment.
EJ shrugged “Do you really believe that Sin is coming back?”
“OF COURSE I DO!” AJ hissed “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Come on Sis,” EJ said “The freaking God of the Underworld took her with him. To the land of the dead. To do something for him that either gets her killed or forced to be taken as prisoner. I believe in our cousin but this task is nearly impossible to accomplish.”
“So you’re just giving up on her?” AJ yelled “Just like that?”
“I’m not giving up on her!” EJ barked back “I’m just saying that we need to be rational about this. We can’t keep taking chances and risks on someone whose fate was sealed the moment she went with Hades.”
I gasped before I could stop myself but luckily, my Mother’s gasp was much louder.
“ETHAN JAMES!” Aunt Taylor’s voice rang out, from behind us “HOW DARE YOU TALK LIKE THAT!”
EJ at least had the decency to look embarrassed.
“Apologize” Aunt Taylor demanded “Now...”
“Taylor,” Mom interrupted softly “If I May...”
Aunt Taylor nodded warily as mom took a step forward in EJ’s direction.
EJ looked away, his eyes cast downwards.
“EJ,” Mom called softly “Do you truly believe that Serenity is lost to us? Forever?”
EJ remained quiet for a few seconds before answering “No.”
“Then why would you say something like that if you don’t believe it?”
EJ looked into my mother’s eyes and for the first time since we were kids, I saw fear in his teary eyes.
“My Mate’s pregnant” he whispered softly, shocking all of us “And the more leads Tristan makes us follow, away from home, the more stress my mate is put under. She’s already stressed enough with being pregnant at seventeen. I can’t put her, or my pup, under any more stress. I just can’t.”
“Why didn’t you just tell us?” AJ asked, her tone immensely softer “We would have understood.”
“Because I was scared” EJ sniffled “We just found out a couple of days ago and I didn’t want you all to think I cared more about my own family than about my cousin. I love my cousin and want to do everything I can to help bring her back but I can’t stress my mate out anymore. I refuse to stress out my mate with these unnecessary trips that lead back to square one.”
There was more said, including congratulatory’s, but my brain couldn’t process it anymore.
I walked right out of the back yard and ran deep into the woods, ripping the stupid beanie off my head and tossing it aside, knowing that Zephyr was behind me to catch it.
“Sin wait” Zephyr caught my elbow “Just wait!”
I shrugged him off, walking into an open clearing before pacing like a madwoman.
“He’s right” I said, pulling at my hair “I’m either going to get killed or captured on this stupid mission. My cousin’s absolutely right.”
I let out a incredulous laugh.
“And did you see how much pain I’m causing them? How much time and moments I’m missing with them? If I return, I’m lucky if they’ll even remember my name!”
“Serenity” Zephyr grasped me by the shoulders “Breathe. Inhale. Exhale.”
He demonstrated breathing in-and-out and I copied his motions.
I grunted when he asked me to repeat it.
“This calming shit doesn’t work” I muttered “And whoever said it did is a liar.”
Zephyr’s lipped thinned and I could tell he was holding in a laugh but didn’t want to let it out for my sake.
His eyes, however, lit up like a Christmas tree.
“It got you to freak out less” He said, amused “At least that’s a start.”
I sighed “I miss them so much.”
He engulfed me in a hug “I know you do.”
We stayed like that for a couple of minutes, just enjoying each other’s embrace as the sun set.
“I’m never leaving, am I?” I asked softly, so soft that I was afraid he didn’t hear me.
“You will” His embrace tightened “I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep Zephyr”
“I don’t” he said, pulling back slightly from our embrace “So you have to believe me when I say you’ll go back to your family.”
I raised an eyebrow and was about to say something when a familiar ′Ribbit′ sounded out.
I turned and found that we were in our meeting spot, the one Zephyr and I would meet each other at when we were younger.
And, a few feet away from us was my frog.
It was him because he had a unique pattern on spots on his back that lined up like a star.
I started laughing, bending over when it got to hard to breath.
“Well, I’ll be damned” Zephyr snorted, his shoulders shaking with silent laughter “See, he believes in you too.”
I just laughed harder, letting all my worries go.
For now, at least.