A cleansing is the last thing I want to have, right now. Especially one where my mother is the host. It’s already bad enough Alaric got King in on this. Fuck, I think I’m just going to drown myself in the hot water. It was my eldest sister-in-law, Julie, whom I chose to assist me with the ceremony. As I sit down in the skimpy black dress my mother gave me to wear, Julie runs her hands through my hair.
“You have long and beautiful hair, d’you know that?”
“Nothing. I just don’t want to do this.”
“Then why do it, hun?”
“It’s a long story.”
It isn’t. I just don’t want to tell anyone I’ve been manipulated. It doesn’t matter what Alaric said, this whole situation is embarrassing and not getting out to anyone. Julie respects my secrecy, standing up to escort me to the room where the cleansing will take place.
I walk next to my sister-in-law and fidget with the dress, hoping no one approaches us in the hallways. This cleansing is against everything I am. It’ll hurt my demons, but it’s the only way to get a definitive result.
Sensing my distress, Julie takes my hand and gives it a light reassuring squeeze. I bit down on my lip and let her have the honour of opening up the heavy door. The overhead lights are on, bathing everything in a pale white glow. In the middle of the long room is a large pool of heated water. The vents at the bottom of the basin filters in the heat to keep the water nice and hot.
As I slip over to the corner of the room with Julie, I notice the other people in the cleansing room. My mother is carefully setting up the candles around the edge of the basin and lighting them with a flame brush. Alaric and another warlock with greying brown hair and blue goat-like eyes are standing by the wall, conversing deeply.
I notice him last as his head pops above the surface of the water, my legs beginning to quake at the sight of him. He shakes his head and runs his hand through his wet hair before leaning against the rim of the pool to talk with Alaric. A smile draws across both warlocks faces as King’s laughter rings out across the room. He has a contagious laugh; it can bring a smile to anyone’s face.
I watch the water slip from his bare back and yearn to trace his muscles. The way his biceps flex as he folds his arms and rests his head on them ignites the wicked fire in me. I picture myself surrounded by all of him. His scent of cologne and ashwood lingers in my nose as I take all of him in.
“Aszurya, I’ve never seen you fidget this much!”
I turn my attention to Jules as she places her hand on my bouncing leg. I try to calm my nerves by crossing my legs and pulling the hem of my dress down. Cleansing ceremonies require little to no clothes at all. So the only thing I get to wear is this stupid black dress. There’s no coverage at all. I feel naked in front of so many people. And for the first time in my life, I’m uncomfortable with my body.
“Sorry. I just feel uncomfortable.”
“Because of the dress?”
“Yes and the number of people here. I thought it was supposed to be small.”
My sister-in-law laughs lightly and gives my hands another squeeze. “Honey, this is small. If it helps the warlocks and I will be leaving when Blithe says she’s ready to start. It will only be you, Blithe, and Theodore, okay?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
I pull my hair out of its ponytail and stand up as my mother notices us in the corner. Making an unwanted scene, she gasps loudly and walks over to us, embracing both Julie and me.
“Oh, you look so beautiful! I keep telling you, you look gorgeous in a dress.”
“Mom, please stop. The attention isn’t desired.”
“Hmm? You don’t want the attention of your tall glass of sweet wine? Well, I think it’s too late for that. Let’s just say, I noticed you because of his staring.”
I blush harder than I’ve ever before as my mother fidgets with the small straps on my bronze shoulders. Looking up at the ceiling, I feel his eyes on me, ravishing my body, making my thighs wet. Once my mother’s done fixing me up, she pushes me towards the pool, warning me not to touch the water until she tells me to. Standing by the edge, I cross my arms and frown towards my family. Julie sticks out her tongue at me before winking, confusing me.
“You look… devilishly gorgeous.”
My hearts jump up to my throat as a distinctive deep voice rolls through me like thunder. I bite my lip and look down to see a pair of mismatched eyes watching me. King’s large muscled body leans against the edge of the basin. I can tell he’s having fun in the water or rather fun making me uncomfortable.
“Are you supposed to be in the water?”
“How else am I supposed to stabilize you? Plus, the cleansing isn’t for me.”
Is that why he’s here? To stabilize my demons once we get started?
I shrug my shoulders and glance over my shoulder over to my mother. Sensing my distress, she holds up two fingers. Two minutes until we can finally start. The elder warlock says something to Alaric with his eyes on me before leaving the room. Alaric walks over and hugs me tightly before releasing me and whispering in my ear.
“Don’t be afraid to let him near you. He’s here to help.”
I nod my head, wishing my anxiousness wasn’t so obvious to the people who’ve watched me grow up. Looking away, I sit down and watch as the room clears up. Now, it’s only me, King, and my mom.
“Aszurya. Theo. Are you ready?”
I nod my head, lying to both myself and her. She smiles before turning off the overhead lights with her hand. My body begins to shudder as my mother starts the ceremony.
“Theodore, will you assist Zurya in getting in the water. Take it slow. We don’t want her to get riled up.”
“What? Why would I get riled-”
My voice cuts off as Theodore gets out of the water to kneel on the edge. His hands wrap around my waist as he nudges me forward. As soon as my feet touch the water, I instantly take a step back, remembering my elusive fear of water. I’ve never liked pools, ponds, or any bodies of water. Being submerged sparks fear in both me and my demons. I always feel like my fire is going to get doused.
My eyes widen as I look at King, wanting him to stop this. I shake my head and open my mouth to say ‘no’, but nothing comes out. King stands and takes me into his arms, embracing and protecting me from the lurking danger.
“It’s alright. I’m here. Nothings going to happen to you. I’ll protect you no matter what. Alright?”
I bite my lip and close my eyes, taking in his heavy scent. I let his embrace take control of my body and calm it down. He runs his hand through my messy hair and plants a small but securing kiss on my lips, asking me if I’m ready. Finally, I nod my head and let him lead me to get back into the water. As I stand at the edge once more watching him slip back into the water, I give King my hands to lead me into the water.
“Close your eyes. I’ll guide you.”
“To my death?” I ask, doing as he says. I picture his lips pulling into a cocky smirk as he places his hand on my calf.
“To your salvation.”
My muscles tense up as my skin hits the water. The only reason I continue against my will is King’s helpful hands. I feel him slip up my legs as he guides me into the water. As soon as I’m in his arms, he holds my waist as I wrap my legs around his middle. I begin to calm down as his hands slide beneath my dress cupping my ass.
“Mm, you’re vulnerable here, aren’t you?”
I let my eyes flutter open as King continues to whisper dirty things in my ear, low enough so my mother can’t hear what he wants to do to me. I let King take the lead and try not to pay attention to the water lapping against my body ready to steal my flame if he lets me go.
“Theo, lay her out on the water so I can begin the actual process of the cleansing.”
With King’s guiding words, I manage to loosen up and float against the water. I close my eyes and hold on to King’s belt loops until my fingers begin to tingle. Instinct takes over as I begin to wriggle in King’s arms.
“Aszurya, don’t panic, okay. Just hold your breath and keep holding onto my hand, alright.”
“King…” My breath turns ragged, my fear returning as his body slips from me. “I’m… s-scared,” I whisper in one breath. King brings me into his arms and kisses me with reassurance. I slip one hand around his neck, burying my fingers into his hair and resting my forehead against his as I take a deep breath. A whimper escapes from my throat as the water pulls us underneath its surface.
“You’ll be fine. I promise I’ll be with you.”
King’s voice filters into my mind as we slip deeper into the water. I feel his presence with me even as his body slips away from me, keeping me calm as I float in the water. He manages to keep my demons calm as the water begins to bubble with my mother’s magic.
You’re my warrior
I’m here for you, keeping you safe
So don’t worry, I won’t let the water
Take you from me
We’re almost there
You’ve overcome your fear with me
Someone’s strong arms wrap around my waist, pushing me up and above the water. Taking in a deep breath of fresh air for my burning lungs, I open my eyes and stare into the eyes of my blooming man. He smiles and lifts me out of the water onto the edge of the water. My mother claps in the distance but the only thing I can hear is our hearts beating together.
I lean into him, licking the water from his lips, trying to thank him in the only way I know possible. I run my hands down his muscled body, parting his lips with my lips. As I run my tongue over his own, I slip my fingers in his pants to stimulate the sexual longing we’re both feeling. King groans and leans into me with his waist, parting my legs and pushing his pronounce hardness against my throbbing flesh.
King quickly switches the tables as he hardens by my hand. His hand finds my tender flesh and strokes, evoking a long moan from my mouth. My spine arches as I move along with the rhythm of his slender fingers. The water around us doesn’t phase me as my flesh continues to swell, taking him deeper. Pleasuring me even more, King leans closer and kisses my perked breasts through the wet cloth clinging to my body.
I relinquish my body to my fallen King and sigh, rolling my eyes back as he curls his fingers forward. Running my hand through his hair, I tug and feel my fangs lengthen. King runs his own fangs against my body, making me feel a way no male has ever been able to invoke from me.
The gears in the door turn slightly, sobering me as I push King back away from me. Gripping the edge tightly, I lower myself under the surface to calm my nerves. As soon as I pull myself back up, I’m met with the quizzical gazes of my mother and the Elder. Alaric appears next to them with two towels for myself and King, who’s just resurfaced.
“Thanks,” I whisper to my companion as he helps me out of the basin and wraps a towel around my shoulders so I can dry off.
“It’s a good thing this room is soundproof, eh?”
I roll my eyes but nudge Alaric playfully before walking over to my mother as she talks with the Elder.
“Aszurya, I’ve already placed my protection gyens on you while you were in the pool. Now it is time for Elder Jiraiya to place his own protections on you.”
“Hello, young Death-Rose. Would you prefer to stand or sit?”
“Should I sit?”
“Well, you may feel a bit fatigued after.”
I shrug my shoulders and gesture for him to begin. Elder Jiraiya’s voice becomes omnidirectional as he casts his spell on me. A white glow begins to surround me as his magical words are sewn together and draped over my body in protection. As soon as his voice stops, my knees buckle from their sudden tiredness but luckily King is there to catch me. I bring his hands higher on my body when my mother eyes how low they were.
I can barely keep my eyes open as King lifts me up in his arms, saying something to the others around us. We move forward, that much I can tell, and then we are not. It’s like a roller coaster I’m not aware of. The only thing I can sense is King as we lie down somewhere soft and familiar. My eyes close and my consciousness slips away from me.
I’m awoken with a bunch of kisses on my face. Some light and sexy, others small and slobbery. I open my eyes to see my baby brother and King playing with each other. James lets out a loud laugh as King whispers something inaudible to him. I scrunch up my face and pinch both of them softly.
“Great, you are up.”
“Mommy wants to talk to you!”
“Oh, really? And did she send you as her messenger?”
“Yeah! I volunteered!”
“Well, go tell Mom I’m up.”
“Huh?” James pouts, little fingers clinging to King’s shirt. “But I want to play with Uncle Teddy.”
I do a double-take and gawk at my little brother. Did he just say ’Uncle’ Teddy? How did he get ‘Uncle’? Sitting up, I realize that I’m naked, only being shielded by the covers. King tickles James once more, distracting him as I get up and reach for some clothes. I barely have time to put on a bra and underwear before my mother opens the door without any preamble.
“Good, you’re up.”
“Yeah, I just woke up.”
“Theodore, will you take James and give the two of us a moment.”
I watch from the corner of my eye, as King nods his head and lifts my brother so he is sitting on his broad shoulder. They walk out of my room leaving just me and my mother. She makes herself comfortable on my bed, after making it up for me, as I dress in some sweatpants and a T-shirt.
“So… what do you need to talk to me about?”
“Why do you insist on wearing such baggy clothes?”
“Because they are comfortable.”
“But it’s hiding your beauty.”
“I’m okay with that.”
“But I’m not.”
“Yeah, that sounds like a ‘you’ problem.”
My mother glares at me so I just shrug my shoulders. I lace up my cross-trainers and stretch my legs waiting for my mother to stop staring so hard at me. Finally, I take her hint and lean against my dresser levelling my gaze with her.
“What is the real reason for the cleansing ceremony?”
So that’s what this is about? The reason behind the sudden cleansing ceremony. So she’s curious enough to ask me. I wonder if she’s asked Alaric first. Leaning my head down so my hair covers my face, I smirk and chuckle lightly.
“It was needed. That’s all.”
“Along with protection spells and gyens? I know something is up and Alaric respects your privacy.”
“Well, at least one person does.”
My mother’s face sobers as she narrows her brown eyes at me. I watch through my hair, wanting to get a reaction from my usually calm mother. Unfortunately for me, she sees right through my plans and puts up a blockade.
“Well, if you won’t tell me, then I’ll just have to ask your father to talk to you.”
She did not just bring my father into this?
I grit my teeth together and clench my hands into fists, trying to keep my cool. My mother gets up and begins to walk towards my door. I try not to give in but she brought my father into this. I can’t let her do that. Instead, I slam the door with a gale of infused wind, trapping her inside with me.
“Aiden had me under his control through a gyen.”
I bite my lip and look away from my mother. The truth is finally out. Within seconds, my mother is standing in front of me with her cool hands on my face. She wants me to look into her eyes and tell her that it’s not true, but I can’t. I can’t face the hurt or the fury in her eyes. Instead, I shove my hands into my pockets and look to the floor.
“Aszurya, tell me it’s not true.”
“You taught me never to lie.”
“Oh, ey parf doni! I knew he was no good! But why would he put a gyen on you?”
“He might want to ruin our clan. Alaric and I are still trying to figure it out.”
“Okay…. What do you know?”
“Well, he’s actually Adrian Nagatory of the infamous Warlock-Siethen clan. Alaric even got a DNA test done. Everything matched up.”
“I see,” My mother says, calmer than I thought she would be, hearing this news. “Well, we’ll keep this on the low and I’ll see what I can do.”
“No, Mom. This is something I have to deal with alone.”
“I understand he used you, Aszurya. But he may be targeting our family. I can’t have that happen. We’ll work this out together, as a family.”
“Can we not tell Father or the boys yet. There’s still some things I need to figure out before anything else happens.”
My mother nods her head and walks out of my room. Is this really who my mother has become? There’s no way that she would have been so calm about the possible danger to her family. But then again, she’s always been able to take control when everyone’s in panic. And she’s become calmer and collected ever since taking on the job of VP.
Obsidian’s government has always been run by descendants of the Death-Rose or King clans. The past few centuries have been run by my clan, but it has gone downhill. Even now, with Father’s brother, Lucifer, sitting on the head chair, they’re struggling to rule over the entire realm. Sick of the constant complaints and pressure, my mother took the seat of Vice-Patron away from a distant relative and took things into her own hands. A portion of my immediate family is starting to take over and better the realm. There’s been too much civil unrest.
Then, there’s the fact that we have no definitive police force. Under the Vice Patron is the Economy Instructor and Police Force Head. About a year before I found King, William took over for the Police Force Head and has been working hard, trying to improve our force. He’s always telling us it’s like starting from scratch.
I think that’s why she’s okay with not telling the others. It’ll just add to their stress. Before now, I’ve never thought of how good it is to be a guardian of the realm. To keep the power balanced, us guardians are not allowed to partake in the government activities.
I like not having so much stress on my shoulders. Now, the only thing I have to worry about yearly is my demons and keeping them in check. Even then, I have King with me now, so it shouldn’t be as hard as before. He just might be my saving grace. Whatever it might mean for a Siethen.