The following morning as Eve slept, June and Eve’s parents were planning how they would wake her.
Jessica made Eve’s favorite food; chocolate chip pancakes and her dad would sing the ‘black’ happy birthday. June was excited to just wake her friend up at the crack of dawn.
“Shh,” Austin whispered in the kitchen. “We do not want to wake up the Alpha and Beta.”
“Too late,” Dimitri muttered, sleepily walking into the kitchen.
“We’re sorry we thought we were being quiet,” Jessica apologized.
“You were being quiet by human definition,” Adlaric added, walking in behind Dimitri. He was already up and dressed in his usual business attire. It was clear that he was the morning person while Dimitri was the night owl, although both had to endure both times. “To us, it sounds like construction work.”
Austin and Jessica apologized emphatically.
“Don’t worry about it,” Dimitri sighed, glancing at June before continuing. “Alpha Adlaric has been in a very good mood lately.” Adlaric rolled his eyes and walked over to his Beta as he fixed his cuff link.
“Believe me Dimitri, I’m not the only one in a good mood, isn’t that right June?”
To Jessica and Austin it was just banter, but it was clear to all the wolves what was going on. Adlaric was well aware that they were mates and he also knew that June had spent the majority of the night with Dimitri. Adlaric was slightly jealous; he wanted to spend eternity with Eve.
“We are about to wake the birthday girl up. Would you two like to join us?” Austin asks.
“Actually, I think Eve would hate to have Adlaric see her when she just woke up.”
Jessica hummed in agreement at June’s words and nodded. “My daughter seems to think she isn’t the most beautiful girl in the world.”
“We think she is, but we guess we are biased,” Austin chimes in, sipping his coffee.
Adlaric didn’t think Eve was pretty; he thought she was gorgeous. She was the Aphrodite of this world.
“What makes her think that she isn’t? Beautiful I mean.”
“No one, besides us, really told her any differently, I guess. I mean the first date she went on, the guy forgot her name and asked her for–” June suddenly stopped mid-sentence. She knew her parents did not know this story. She quickly adjusted her statement. “money. Eve hasn’t been treated like she wants to be. She’s dated a lot now guys who were complete dicks to her.”
Adlaric had a hyper awareness of how people acted. He also was Alpha and because of that could sense his pack-mates uneasiness. He made a mental note to find out the real story later.
“Would you like some pancakes, King Romanov?” Jessica asked, holding up a fresh batch in front of her. Austin smiled at his wife and kissed her cheek.
“Call me Adlaric. We are family now. And no thank you, I’m quite full. What do you mean dicks?” His mind was still consumed with Eve’s history. Jessica had to stop herself from grunting at the thought of her daughter’s exes. Austin on the other hand did not hide his emotions so well.
“You know, I had half a mind to march over to that little shits–”
“Austin language,” Jessica reprimanded. Adlaric’s eyes narrowed at the outburst. Him and his wolf both itched to know.
“He asked for more and she said no. He responded in a really poor way,” is all June said before she sipped her coffee. “It’s not my place to tell. I’m just saying, date her like you would have back in the olden days. You know, late seventeen hundreds?”
“There was no dating. The met and got married that’s it,” Dimitri joked.
“And no way in hell is that happening!” Austin all but shouts. He was still having a hard time adjusting to the idea that his daughter would be married to someone four times her age.
“How old are you, Adlaric?” Jessica asked, setting a plate in front of her husband.
“I’m over three-hundred years old. I haven’t kept count, truthfully.”
“I’m going to have a heart attack. This is how I go,” Austin exclaims as he grunts into his hands.
“Let’s go sing before we start asking Adlaric about his bodycount, shall we?” June says ushering everyone out of the kitchen and upstairs.
“Bodycount? What does she mean?” Jessica asked puzzled. Austin simply placed his hand on her back and helped her upstairs, not wanting to tell her the definition of the term.
Eve liked birthdays. She liked feeling special for a day. Today was far more special than other birthdays, even though when she was sixteen she had a sweet sixteen that girls talked about for days after. Today was her day, but she also shared it with her family. They enjoyed surprising her, so when she woke up earlier than her family was ready for, she quickly brushed her teeth and laid back down in bed, pretending to be asleep.
“Happy birthday to ya!” Austin shouted as he opened his daughter’s door. Every year, instead of traditional ‘happy birthday,’ he sung the version that his family celebrated. “Happy birthday to ya, happy birthday!” June immediately ran into the room and jumped on her best friend.
Eve happily nodded and sat up in her bed. She looked around quickly to spot out the man who invaded her dreams the previous night. Gladly he wasn’t there; she had wild bedhead.
“So what would you like to do today?” Jessica asked, sitting on her daughter’s bed. Eve was just happy to spend the day with her family. She shrugged, although she wouldn’t mind seeing Adlaric again.
“Here, sweetheart, why don’t you go and get dressed. We’ll meet you downstairs to have breakfast and open gifts.”
“You brought the gifts from home? I thought we were going to be home by tomorrow.” Eve asked, confusion lacing her words. They were only supposed to be in Russia for a day. The idea of leaving Adlaric made her feel sick to her stomach, but she knew it was silly teenage feelings. She had a crush on the guy she couldn’t have, ironic right?
“We will explain it when you get downstairs,” Austin said, placing his hand behind his daughter’s head to kiss her forehead. Eve’s parents left and June was left smirking at Eve.
“Do you know where Adlaric is?” Eve attempted indifference, but June knew better. June also wanted to see just how affected Eve was by the bond.
“I think he left for the day,” June lied.
Eve tried to hide her dissapointement. She played with her braid and nodded. “Oh,” she hummed.
“But I think he’s gonna try to come back a little later,” June added, clearly seeing Eve’s sadness. Within a second, Eve was smiling again as she jumped off the bed. The girls got dressed in the clothes that were left in the bathroom and did their hair and makeup before walking downstairs. Eve smiled brightly when she saw Adlaric sitting at the table, but quickly put her head down to hide it as she made her way to the table.
“I can’t handle this,” Austin muttered to his wife, sensing his daughter’s burning attraction to Adlaric. Jessica laughed and kissed his cheek before setting a plate of pancakes in front of Eve.
“Thanks mom.” Eve grabbed the syrup and poured it over her pancakes, trying not to look too after at Adlaric. She was relieved when she heard his cooling voice.
“How did you sleep?”
Eve was wrong. His voice was warm and soothed her soul. She looked up at him and gulped as she looked at his beautiful dark eyes. For a second, she forgot how to speak. “I slept well, thank you. You have a lovely castle. How did you sleep?” Adlaric stiffened for a moment before curtly nodding.
“I slept well, thank you. And this home belongs to my family.”
Eve nodded as she ate some more of her pancakes. She felt awkward. She wanted to flirt, but it was vastly inappropriate and even if it weren’t, she was sure she was not his type. Her hair was too unruly, her nose was too small, her eyes were far too dark, and her face looked childlike. A man like Adlaric would desire a woman, not a girl. Her mood quickly went sour at the thought of him being with someone else. She finished her pancakes and brought the dish to the sink, washing it.
“So what would you like to do today,” Jessica asked, sipping her coffee. Eve turned around and with a sly grin replied.
“Oh, I figured June and I could just go to a male strip club and drink until we couldn’t walk straight.”
Austin sputtered over his coffee and Jessica looked like she could murder her daughter in cold blood.
“Young lady!” Jessica scolded.
Eve laughed and kissed her mother’s cheek. “I’m just kidding, mom. It was a joke, jeez.”
Adlaric’s eyes brightened to a bright gold at her statement. He had never felt so connected, yet disjointed from his wolf. They were both equally jealous that their mate even fathomed the idea of going out to see other men. She was his. He wanted her all to himself. Feeling the impending growl threatening his throat, Adlaric abruptly stood up and walked out of the room. Eve couldn’t miss the scowl on his face. The entire kitchen went quiet as they watched the man leave. Dimitri cleared his throat and stood up.
“He got a message this morning that some of his interests were shut down,” he lied. He needed to make an excuse that Eve would believe. Eve nodded as her mom shoved a wrapped present in her hands. She was still distracted, even with gifts in her hands, about Adlaric. He was a wonder and she wanted to be marveled.
Deep in Eve’s stomach, she knew it was something else. Something had told her that Dimitri was lying, but he had no reason to. One by one her family members handed her gifts and she appreciatively marveled over the new foundation, airpods, and shoes she had gotten. She was entirely thankful but she missed him. She missed his presence that was thick with dominance. She missed seeing him smile. She missed his Russian-filled accent as he spoke English.
“So you still have not told is what you wanted to do for your birthday?” Austin asked, once the wrapping paper was thrown away.
Eve furrowed her eyebrows, thinking about what she would like to do.
“Can we explore Russia today? See cool buildings and go to town?”
June groaned and rolled her eyes. “Of course that’s what you want to do!”
Jessica nodded and clapped her hands happily. “If that’s what my baby girl wants, that’s what she gets! I’ll ask Mr. Romanov for suggestions!”
Eve spoke before she could control her lips. “Actually, may I ask?
Austin only nodded. He could never understand the connection his daughter had with he king, but if she were happy, that was all that mattered. If she ever told him she wanted to get as far away as possible from the mighty Alpha, he would take her word and take her someplace far far away.
Eve stood up and made her way out of the kitchen to the large foyer. It suddenly occurred to her that she had no idea where to look first. The castle was large and she doubted she would be able to find her way, but adventure was the key to her heart and she wanted to find Adlaric. Her hand gripped the railing as she ran up the large castle steps onto the second level.
She found another set of steps deep within the stone wall and her curiosity got the best of her. She hesitantly strolled up the dim lit stairwell and found a grand room, fixed with bright drapes, large windows, and a wooden floor. It saddened her when she realized the room had not been cleaned or dusted in such a long time. There was dust covering the floor and fabric over the furniture. Even the windows seemed to dull the moonlight that melted into the room. She pouted; the room had so much potential it pained her to see it so lackluster.
She walked to the largest covered object in the room and dragged her finger across the velvet fabric. With a swift tug, she ripped off the sheet. She smiled brightly when the grand piano made an appearence. Why was it up here? Who played? Her eyes went to the walls and saw portraits of people who looked rather important in old-fashioned garbs.
“That’s the royal family.”
Eve jumped at the sound of his voice. She turned around and smiled brightly, looking back at the portrait. “It’s your family, right?”
Adlaric stepped forward, his hand in his pocket. He nodded, making the small tendril of hair bounce against his forehead. “Distantly, yes. The royal family lived here and when they died, I was bestowed it. You like it here, I take it?”
“Oh, I do!” Eve smiled, her heart racing as she spoke to him. “Mr. Romanov, may I ask a question?”
“Only if you’d call me Adlaric.”
She smiled, nervously, and pushed a piece of hair behind her ear. “Adlaric,” she tried. “Why is this room unused? Everywhere else is so clean and...loved.” She wasn’t quite sure what she meant exactly, but Adlaric understood. He took a step forward to the piano and smiled subtly.
“It has served no purpose to me. I suppose I got busy.”
“Do you play?”
Adalric looked at his mate and nodded once.
“Will you play for me, Adlaric?” She blushed at how ignorant the question was. When she saw his expression, she quickly shook the idea away. “Never mind. It was silly.”
Adalric didn’t like to see her frown. “Yes, I will... I’m just not sure if I remember...”
“That’s okay; music wasn’t meant to be perfect.”
Adalric stared at the girl beside him and smiled at her words before sitting down on the piano bench. His hands were stiff as he placed his fingers on the keys. He played a wrong note and winced slightly. Eve walked over and placed her shaky hand onto of his. She was nervous being so close to him. As soon as they touched, her hand naturally melted onto his. Her hand felt relaxed touching him and she smiled from the foreign tingles once again.
“You’re stressed,” she commented. “Relax.” Instantly, at her words, his stiff hands relaxed somewhat. “Try again,” she encouraged. His hand hesitantly glided across the keys. His movements were slow and unconfident at first, but as he looked up at the smiling girl, his confidence grew and soon he was playing a melody. Eve pushed away from Adlaric and turned on the lights. She giggled when the room brightened and she danced around, enjoying the music Adlaric made.
“Oh, you’re wonderful!” She exclaimed. “Never stop playing!”
Her laughs could brighten up anything, even a broken soul like Adlaric’s. He smiled as his mate pranced around the ballroom and around the piano. He could feel their connection growing and suddenly what she had said in the kitchen disappeared. He was happy. He could stay and watch her for days. Eve was sure she had never heard such a beautiful song played in her life. Adalric was stiff and always professional. He lacked fun and excitement, but he excited her to no end.
She was klutzy, her steps uneven, and her pace changed from slow to fast every step, but he enjoyed watching her. She wasn’t grace, but she was beauty and he smiled at her unevenness on the dance floor. All she needed, he thought, was a good partner to lead her.
Eve knew she was an awful dancer, but she didn’t care. She felt comfortable with Adalric even though he seemed like a virtuoso on the piano.
The dancing girl paused as she heard her mother’s voice. For a moment, she was sad because the music stopped and her dancing would have to come to an end. Jessica was out of breath when she entered the dusty room. “Oh there you are! Have you asked?”
Adlaric looked expectedly at Eve. She shook her head as June, Dimitri and her father entered the room. Quickly, she turned to face the pianist with a red glow to her. Her chest heaved with anxiousness.
“For my birthday I asked to go see the sights in Russia. Unfortunately, none of us are very familiar. I was hoping, maybe, you could show us around?” What was she thinking? He was probably busy. He was a CEO after all. “Or perhaps Dimitri or someone else? I understand if it’s not possible but I–”
“Of course,” Adlaric interrupted. “It’s only kind, as a host, to show you around our great country.” Eve paled at his explanation. He was doing this because of hospitality, not for her and definitely not because he wanted to. Her heart fell into her stomach and she nodded. She was smiling, but everyone could see how her eyes dimmed.
“Come on, let’s go find some coats. It’s freezing out there!” Jessica ordered, pushing her daughter out of the room and downstairs. June sighed at her Alpha. Be respectful, she reminded herself.
“Alpha, if I may say something?” Adlaric nodded.
“Of course you may, June.”
“To you, she’s your mate, but to her you’re a high class, wealthy, handsome, bachelor she has a crush on. You know you two were made for each other, but she thinks you’re far too wise and handsome to go for a girl like her. My point is, my King, showing her around because it is your duty didn’t exactly make her feel special. I have a feeling you’re the only person she wants to think that she’s important.” June finished just as her phone rang and she quickly answered.
“How’s the palace! Is it big! Did you meet the King? What about the Beta? Oh, tell me everything!”
June smiled at her younger sister’s enthusiasm. She hadn’t even told her family about her finding her mate and Eve finding her’s. “Hey, is everyone with you? Can you put me on speaker, I have some news.” Her sister quickly put the phone on the table for everyone to hear.
“Hey baby girl!” Her mom cooed. “What’s going on?”
June took a big breath. “The King found his mate–” Before she could finish her family erupted in chaos and happiness.
“Oh, thank goddess! He’s gonna live,” her father exclaimed. “Long live the King,” her mother added.
“Well, who is she? Or he? Oh my god, is the King gay! It would be awesome to have a gay King–”
“Libby,” June growled, knowing full well that both Dimitri and Adalric could hear the conversation.
“Jeez, I’m just saying, it would be a plus for the LGBTQ+ community! Well who are they?“′
“It’s Eve. Eve’s the King’s mate.”
“No fucking way,” her sister cursed. She winced when she heard her mom scold the girl. “Wait wait wait, this is even more enormous than him being gay! You mean your best friend, Eve, the nerdy girl who’s a little afraid of her own shadow, happens to be the most important person within the Kingdom?”
“Yes, Libby,” June responded.
“Oh my god! We met the Queen!” Libby exclaimed over the line. She was so loud June had to move the phone away from her ear.
“You can’t tell. She doesn’t even know yet!”
“Of course, sweetheart. I’m glad King Alpha is finally happy. And I am thrilled Eve Is officially a part of our family. None of us will tell,” her mom assured.
“There’s something else I have to tell you,” June started, immediately turning around from the royals’ penetrating gaze.
“What could possibly be more exciting?” Her mother asked, skeptically.
“Dimitri Volkov...he’s my mate.” The line went silent after her announcement. “Hello?”
“Oh, my baby girl met her mate! I’m afraid I don’t know a Volkov. The only person I’m fairly familiar with is Royal Beta Volkov,” her mother sighed on the line.
June gulped and shakily took a breath. “Mom...”
“In fact,” the mother continued, “the only person with the last name Volkov has to be royal. Are you sure that’s his last name...”
“Mom,” June tried to interrupt again.
“Maybe Vikrov or Vitrov?”
“Beta Volkov is my mate, mom,” June groaned in the phone. She sighed with her hand on her forehead at the silence.
“What the fuck! She’s mated to royalty!” June groaned again as her sister screamed over the line.
“Oh my god, oh my god! I-if you’re mated to him that means...we’re mated to him!”
“Mom, that’s not how that works...”
“Everyone, start packing now!”
“Mom!” June yelled into the phone. “Please, calm down I’ll be home soon and explain everything.”
“Is he cute? Is he sexy? I heard his smile was bright enough to lore any bitch to her knees. I heard that he was so good in bed that–”
“Libby!” June wasn’t sure if she was angry over the vulgarity or the fact that she too has heard the rumors of the Beta’s exploits. She was angry at him on some level; he knew, just like she did, that he had a mate. He should have waited like she had waited. Their time together was supposed to be special for both of them.
Dimitri as if sensing his mate’s anger, stiffened and looked at Adlaric who gave him a sympathetic look. Both royals knew that Dimitri was gonna get a rough ass kicking from his mate. Hostility radiated out of June, they both smelled it. They could also smell her innocence; she only held her scent, no one else. Unlike Dimitri, his scent was a muddled mess.
Adlaric was suddenly very happy he had waited.
“Oh, my god!” June sighed once again in exhaustion from her mother’s voice. “My daughter is mated to the Royal Beta!”
“I knew she was bound for great things,” her dad said softly. June’s heart warmed, although she wasn’t sure how to feel about the fact that she was only special because of who she was mated to, not for what she has done. It seemed superficial and a little sexist in her opinion. Still, she wouldn’t change her mate for the world.
Being mated to Dimitri not only made her heart race, but it meant that her and Eve would stay together. Quickly, the dark-haired girl said her goodbyes and turned around. A light redness took over her features and she immediately turned to leave the room.