Chapter 12: Heart to Heart
Isaiah sat in the back of the car with Ashley soundly resting on his lap. Lazarus drove home as fast as he could get them. The sound of her breathing had calmed down to an even pace letting him know that she was more relaxed than before. Isaiah’s mood was still seething with anger though. On the other hand, his wolf was comfortably sitting at the back of Isaiah’s conscious the moment Ashley had calmed him down in the gas-mill. Isaiah glared his wolf aspirated that he wasn’t as angry as Isaiah for wanting to hunt Vito. But apparently at this moment, his wolf only cared for his mate.
“I’m getting blood on your clothes,” Ashley soft voice broke Isaiah’s trance.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said.
“Am I too heavy?” she then asked.
Isaiah wrapped his arms tighter around her. The weight she deliberately didn’t put on him, he gathered her fully on top of himself. “No,” he said. “Never for me.”
For the rest of the ride, Ashley laid her head on his shoulder. She didn’t speak or fidget with anything. He found it pretty unusual that she wasn’t feeling the strain of what happened. She was calmer than him, but he knew that something wasn’t right with her. Isaiah could feel it in his bones that she was locking it all down to deal with later or alone. However, the last thing he was going to let her do was go through this alone.
They arrived at the house, when Ashley stood onto her own feet, they all rushed to help her but she shrugged them off telling them that she was fine. Zeiden had gotten a towel and wrapped it around her battered body. Ronin quickly got the first-aid and met them in the living room. They seated Ashley on a stool to fix up her exposed stitches. Isaiah had given her ice for the bruise and Ibuprofen to help with the pain as Ronin stitched her up again. They were all well trained with wounds like these, since they’d always get in dangerous fights. Ashley quietly sat on the couch. Her mouth held in a tight grimace and her eyes were looking at everything, except what Ronin was doing.
“That was some badass plan, Ashley,” alleged Ronin. Isaiah knew that Ronin was trying to distract her.
“We couldn’t believe it when you first called us,” added Zeiden. “Plus, you had the guts to reveal your location.”
Ashley chuckled. “That was pretty badass,” she admitted.
“I can’t believe you calmed Isaiah’s wolf down,” admired Lazarus. “Isaiah’s wolf is one tough son of a bitch.”
Isaiah scowled. “Thanks, Lazarus,” he remarked, “I’ll make sure to set him loose on you next time.”
“Bring it on,” dared Lazarus, “you know my wolf isn’t to be trifled with either.”
“We all know you’d both lose against Adrik,” joined Zeiden.
Lazarus scoffed. “Please,” he crossed his arms, “I can take both of them on, at the same time and still win.”
Adrik came over to Lazarus with amused expression. “We all know that’s not true,” he said calmly, which unnerved the beta. “I can beat you and everyone here knows it.”
Isaiah looked at the two guys. “Are we seriously discussing this?” he reprimanded. “We’ve fought in pack fights before, and we all used to kick each other’s asses.”
Zeiden came over and smacked Isaiah’s shoulder with a hearty laugh. “But we all know that you guys are getting slow,” he continued to smack Isaiah and laugh, “old age must be getting to all of you or something.”
“That boy’s done it now,” mumbled Ronin from the side-line. Ashley managed a short laugh from Zeiden’s tease or truth, they didn’t know with this man.
Isaiah, Lazarus were bad enough, but Adrik stood with them too. Their matching scowls dared Zeiden to repeat what he had just said to them. But of course, he hadn’t. Isaiah sat down in his seat. They all tried their hardest to get Ashley’s mind off today’s incident. But deep down they all felt guilty to the point it made them feel sick to the stomach. It was all of their faults they couldn’t protect her, and now, her smile had fallen weak. The boys didn’t notice because she held a good face for them because she knew they’d worry. But Isaiah could tell. His wolf could tell too that she wasn’t herself.
Ronin stitched the wound and the bleeding had stopped from his exceptional work. Isaiah took Ashley up to their bedroom, so she could freshen up, get in comfortable clothes and eat a good meal, which Lazarus was cooking of course.
Ashley walked over to her suitcase in the closet after Isaiah closed the door behind him. She dug through the clothes with her working arm, taking out a pair of shorts and a tank top. “I just need a long soak in hot water with bubbles,” she said as she sauntered into the bathroom. “I got really lucky that you guys were able to find me so fast. Otherwise, I would’ve just bled out and…” her lips froze and the words fell. She shook her head. “It’s all in the past now, I guess.”
Isaiah followed her to the bathroom. He turned on the hot water in the large marble basin for her. Adding the flowery soap, she placed here last time, the water created foam at the top like clouds that smelt of roses and lilies. Ashley’s fingers skimmed across the bruise right above her left cheek-bone.
Isaiah came over to her. His hand replaced the one she had on the purplish, blue bruise. He leaned in and replaced his hand with his lips. “I know you were scared,” he said even though he didn’t really know how to comfort someone because he never had, but he needed to help her. “You were scared but you got through it with guts, Ashley,” he whispered, “but you don’t have to hold it in anymore. You can let go when you’re with me.”
Ashley looked up. Her big blue eyes had a thick line of tears. She blinked them out of her eyes and they slipped down her cheeks. She wrapped her arm around him and laid her head on his heart. “I was trying not to be scared because I knew you’d come and get me,” she sniffled, “but-”
“I know,” he said, “anyone would be scared if they’re aren’t used to this kind of thing.”
“I tried my hardest not to panic,” she said, “and then when all of you came for me, I was so relieved, so happy that you didn’t abandon me.”
Isaiah held her tighter. “Your family now, Ashley,” he said. “I always protect my family.”
“I know you do,” she mumbled. “I love you, Isaiah. I love you so much and I love all boys too-” She suddenly let go of him and wiped her tears- “I should go tell them.”
Isaiah chuckled but stopped her. “Take a bath first and change your clothes,” he said as he guided her back into the washroom.
Ashley stripped out of her clothes with his help and then stepped into the tub. The wound stung terribly, but she endured and sat within the bubbles and spring scented water. “I could sit in here forever,” she moaned as she laid her head back.
“You’ll miss out on all the fun out here then,” he said as he disposed of her torn, blooded clothes once again.
“Fun?” she asked genuinely. Isaiah raised his brows indicting to her that she was talking about him. “Oh,” she chuckled at him. “You do bring me a lot fun.”
The amusement on Isaiah’s face fell. “I brought evil in your life too,” he said.
Ashley frowned. “Why would you think that, Isaiah?” she asked.
“It’s true,” he said. “You lived a normal, good life before you got wound up with me and all I brought you was trouble and fear.”
“Others brought trouble to us, Isaiah,” she told him. “They don’t deserve you taking the blame for them, so don’t.”
Isaiah came over to her and sat on the floor near the tub. He soaked in her scent, her warmth with every fibre of his body. Isaiah dipped his hand in the water, when Ashley came forth and skimmed her fingers across it. She lightly grabbed onto him, before she rested back and relaxed for a couple more minutes.
Isaiah eased Ashley get out of the tub, dry off and helped put fresh clothes on her too. Ashley practically ran down the stairs to the boys in the kitchen. They were all standing around as Lazarus prepared to cook fried noodles and saucy chicken. Ashley ambushed them with her eyes full of tears announcing that she loved them and thanked them for saving her. Isaiah pitied the guys because they had no idea what to do. Isaiah had never seen Lazarus panic that much in his entire life. They simply pulled together in a group hug around her.
“I really do love all of you,” she whimpered as she was huddled in between Lazarus, Ronin and Zeiden- Adrik stood on the side but Ashley made sure that he heard her loud and clear too.
“Stop the tears already,” said Lazarus. “Or else the noodles will get soggy and it’s not going to taste good.”
Ashley smacked his shoulder. “I was trying to have a moment, Lazarus,” she said as she grabbed the tissue from Zeiden and wiped her eyes.
Lazarus towered over her small figure. He held her gently by her nape when he laid a chaste kiss on the top of her head. He surprised all of them before he went back to cooking near the stove.
The weight of the kiss lingered over Ashley’s head. She confessed her true feelings to all of them, not really expecting a response. Not that she thought it was important that everyone felt the same way about her. Ashley knew how hard it was for these guys to admit how’re they’re feeling, not because they were shy but because they didn’t know how to. So, when Lazarus hugged and kissed the top of her head, she was taken aback to the extent that she couldn’t move. Ashley had realized that they all truly become a family to her. There was no turning their back on one another or leaving someone behind. Ashley had lost her family once, but now, she had been gifted another. And she would cherish this one too.
Dinner still had a long way to go before it was done. But Ashley was kept occupied by the truck that arrived at the property with her belongings from the hotel. As Lazarus cooked alone, the rest of them carried each box up the stairs to a spare bedroom. Zeiden made sure each box was safely taken and nothing was left behind. The truckers left her with the bill, that was quite hefty but Ashley paid it with a knowing smile because she was aware that she had a lot of stuff. She returned to the house, into the spare room where her stuff had crowded the spacious bedroom.
“How do you have so much stuff?” astounded Zeiden.
Ashley chuckled. “Years of shopping,” she patted his shoulder. She looked around the boxes, the tape would be hard to get through, when she got an idea. Ashley marched over to Isaiah. He tilted his head. Ashley laid her hand out to him, but he didn’t understand the message. Ashley touched the pockets of his jeans when she found what she required. She took out the silver blade he had on him at all times. “I need this,” she said.
“Oh. Yeah okay,” he sounded bemused. He helped switch the blade open when she struggled for half a minute.
“Thanks,” she kissed his cheek before she got busy with the boxes.
Everyone left to do their work after Ashley ushered them away. Zeiden stayed back to help her through Isaiah’s explicit instructions; to not let her put strain on her arm. Ashley and Zeiden got her stuff fitted into the massive closet, which she was thankful for that it was big enough to fit all of her things. Zeiden arranged her jewelry in the center glass island for her. After an exhausted hour, Ashley sat on some of the emptied boxes with Zeiden who was possibly dead on the floor.
“I never thought moving clothes could be this hard,” groaned Zeiden.
Ashley laughed as she pulled out her cellphone. “Hey, I have an idea,” she whispered. Zeiden lifted his head and looked at her phone screen.
“Can we even get it today?” he asked.
“Sure, we can,” said Ashley. “I just need express delivery and it’ll come before midnight.”
Ashley worked quickly to order a Christmas tree and tons of ornaments and lights, which was her original plan before she got kidnapped. She wasn’t upset about that incident anymore, because now she felt more irked than ever, that Vito disturbed the plans she had for the entire day. That stupid man wasted her precious time with his lame vendetta, that got no one nowhere. Her thoughts were interrupted by a phone call from the store she had just placed a massive order from. Zeiden grabbed all the empty cardboard boxes after they were done with arranging her closet. They went downstairs and joined the others who were scattered around the house. Lazarus sat in the kitchen with his laptop and Ronin was in the living room watching TV and eating a chocolate bar.
“Do you want me to help you take that?” Ashley asked Zeiden.
“Nah, I got it,” Zeiden answered before he walked past the kitchen and out the back-door to the trash bins.
“We have a surprise coming home soon,” announced Ashley with a grin.
Ronin lifted his head. “What is it?” he asked her.
“You’ll see,” she smiled slyly. She made her way to the kitchen where Lazarus always was if he wasn’t with Isaiah. “Is dinner ready?”
“Yeah,” said Lazarus. “I’m just waiting on everyone.”
“Where is Adrik and Isaiah?” asked Ashley.
“They’re in the gym downstairs,” said Lazarus.
Ashely tilted her head. “There’s a gym downstairs?” she asked.
“A gym and a swimming pool,” answered Lazarus nonchalantly.
Ashley gaped at the beta. “We have a swimming pool!” she astonished. “What other crazy things do we have here, that I don’t know about?”
“Er-” Lazarus contemplated for a whole second before he told her- “we also have a theatre.”
Ashley was about to drop to the floor. “A theatre,” she repeated.
“The theatre and the swimming pool came with the property,” said Lazarus. “We kept the pool but no one knows what to do with the theatre though.”
Ashley laid her hand on Lazarus’s shoulder supportively. “We will have so much fun in that room,” she promised. “Let’s eat dinner and christen that theatre this Christmas.”
Lazarus chuckled. “That’s if Adrik and Isaiah finish up downstairs,” he said resignedly. “They don’t get out of that gym fast.”
“How do I get to the basement?” she asked resolutely.
Lazarus pointed behind her. “It’s the door near the gaming room,” he told her.
Ashley sauntered over to the closed door and made her way down the series of stairs. The further down she went, the colder it got and the music got louder. The light brightened and a massive gym was revealed. She spotted Adrik through a long window, he was busy swimming in the enormous pool alone. Unlike her, who enjoyed to soak back and drink Pina colada. Adrik was vigorously practicing his full strokes ahead. He swam across the long pool touching each end before he turned and swam over to the other end to repeat the same process.
Ashley opened the glass door to the gym where she found her mate seated at the bench press, dressed in only a pair of dark shorts, his upper body completely exposed, which was covered in a sheen of sweat. Ashley bit back her grin when she caught herself staring. Ashley marched on over to him. Right on the other side, she took a seat facing him. Don’t you look so delicious, she thought to herself.
“Dinner’s ready,” she told him.
Isaiah looked back at the clock. “I still have to clean up,” he told her. “You guys can start without me.”
Ashley shook her head. “It’s not fun without everyone,” she told him. “And we have some tasks to do after dinner-” Isaiah frowned- “Oh, it’s nothing to get serious about, Isaiah. It’ll be fun, trust me.” Isaiah resumed his seated bench press, whilst she idly sat in front of him. “So, do you always train?”
“Yeah,” he told her.
“More than the others?” she asked.
“I think so,” he told her. “Not more than Adrik though.”
Ashley got off her seat. “I saw him swimming earlier,” she told him. “He’s really good.”
“Adrik’s been swimming since he was a little kid,” Isaiah shared. “It’s the only thing that he likes to do on his spare time.”
“That’s why you kept the pool,” she said. “You kept it for him.”
“More like he didn’t let us expand the gym there,” chuckled Isaiah. “Zeiden pushed to change it into a sauna, but Adrik didn’t budge.”
Ashley made her way next to Isaiah. “Pool is much better than a sauna,” she shared.
He froze when he noticed her prowl over to him. “Adrik would love to hear you say that,” jested Isaiah.
Ashley came in front of Isaiah. She leaned down and rested her hand on the handle he used to lift the weights. “Am I distracting you?” she asked. “I can leave.”
Isaiah’s eyes darkened. “I don’t think that’s what you truly want,” he remarked.
Ashley tilted her head. “And what do I want, Isaiah?” she asked with an innocent smile, hiding the mischief in her eyes. She leaned over and rested her knee between his opened legs, that straddled the seat.
“I can show you,” he dared, “but I don’t think you’re up for it.”
Ashley’s smile slightly fell when the scent around her darkened. It ignited the heat in her body to latch onto her mate’s scent, which caught her by surprise. She wasn’t going to take it this far, but now she couldn’t avoid it. Isaiah stood up from the seat. Ashley didn’t want to but she stepped back. Her stomach fluttered with nerves, that made the arousal of her body heat up more.
Isaiah caught her scent heightening and he grinned. “Just like I said,” he jested. “You aren’t up for it.” Isaiah brushed a strand of her hair behind her ear. “Are you, Ashley?” Isaiah lowered his head, his lips hovering over hers.
Ashley nudged him back. “I’m game for anything,” she told him proudly.
“Mm-hmm,” he smirked and sauntered away.
“Why is it that I always set out to do one thing, but then something else happens?” Ashley asked as she followed him through the gym. They entered a smaller locker room, that was kept tidy and smelt of fresh lemons. Isaiah tossed the white towel he carried into a basin on the side. The locker that had his name on it was the one he opened, which had spare clothes.
Isaiah pulled out a black shirt and a pair of black jeans. “You challenge me of all people, Ashley,” he answered smugly. “And I’m not an easy opponent.”
Ashley crossed her arms. It felt like she was trying to protect herself from him. A nerve in her was challenged when he idly walked around the locker completely unaffected by her. Ashley pushed off the lockers she had slumped against and approached Isaiah, cornering him to his locker. “Does everyone know how talkative you actually are?” Isaiah smirked at her making her heart slip right within her. “Or is just with me?”
Isaiah put his hand on the locker behind her. “You’re the only one that talks so boldly with me,” he said.
“That’s true,” she chuckled, “everyone else is too scared.”
Isaiah inched closer. “And you’re not?”
A smile crept up her lips telling him clearly that she wasn’t. But in her heart, Ashley couldn’t help but feel nervous because Isaiah had a cavernous spell on her. His misty grey eyes captured her soul, enough to make her weak to her knees. Isaiah circled his hand around her neck, he pushed her head back for his lips but he never touched her. Ashley waited for him to take her into his all-consuming world of intense passion, but it never happened. Ashley opened her eyes to find Isaiah smiling down at her. “You’re such a tease,” she smacked him.
“I’m just getting even, baby,” he said as he opened the door that connected to the showers.
“Even?” she questioned. “For what?”
Isaiah raised a brow. “You think I didn’t notice what you were doing earlier,” he said. “You come in here and cut my workout short with your flirting.”
“I asked if you wanted me gone,” she stated.
Isaiah crossed his arms. “Don’t give me that,” he said. “Teasing me is only going to lead you into trouble.”
Ashley stopped him from leaving into the shower with her hip and arm. “I like getting in trouble with you,” she grinned. “It’s the most fun I’ve had in years.” Isaiah strode around her with a scowl creasing his face. She wondered if she went too far and instantly regretted it. Ashley turned to tell him that she was just kidding, when she heard the lock of the door click in place. “Why are you locking the door?” she asked. But Isaiah didn’t answer her, instead he showed what he had planned in locked room.
Hot. Fast. Needy was what drove them to strip their layer of clothes off without hesitation. Isaiah laid her down on the bench. Ashley’s body was already aroused for him, she didn’t need anything expect the burning angst to feel his hands all over her. Isaiah covered her with his own body, that was sweaty from his workout but she loved it. She pushed her fingers through his hair and pulled him down to her lips. Ashley was eager to taste his fire and blazing arousal she could smell all over the room. Ashley raked her nails over his sturdy back, marking him to her. She claimed him to herself.
Isaiah pulled away when they were both out of breath. He kissed and bit down her neck marking her like she had to him. His mouth locked onto her breasts and he licked over the hardened peaks. Heat pooled between her legs. She could feel the coil of nerves growing in her stomach as Isaiah’s hands inched to her legs. He opened her legs wider for him as he settled between them. Isaiah separated the folds. Ruthlessly his fingers dove into her wet and hot core that was throbbing for him. She gasped when he put his mouth where his fingers were savagely pounding into her.
“Isaiah…” she moaned his precious name, “don’t stop.” Ashley’s body ruptured from the exhilarating release that was so strong that it hurt her.
Ashley slumped down against the bench. Isaiah kissed her as she felt his shaft fill her up pleasantly. Her body was satisfied by the invasion that aroused her again. Ashley licked over the skin on his neck, that was salty, sweet and burning hot. Her teeth grazed the skin and she aggressively marked him. Isaiah pulled out of her slippery core, the separation pained her whole entire body. But it wasn’t before, he slammed right back into her giving her pleasure like none other. Isaiah deepened his thrusts like he had their kiss. Ashley’s heart quickened in her chest as Isaiah twirled his tongue with hers. His teeth nipped her bottom lip, before he soothed it with his tongue.
“Are you still mad I interrupted your workout?” she asked with a grin.
Isaiah thrusted inside her and his speed increased. “Fuck, woman,” he growled, “you can come for me anytime.” Ashley gripped his hair and kissed him, until he found his release with her. Isaiah laid his lips on the bandaged wound on her neck. “I’m getting used to having you around me,” he whispered. “Your touch and scent are leaving an imprint on my body.”
Ashley melted under him. “I feel the same way,” she kissed his cheek when her eyes landing on the clock. “We should probably head upstairs.”
Isaiah sighed. “Let me freshen up,” he said.
Ashley got off the bench. “Should we take it together?” she asked innocently behind him, when he didn’t object, she followed him into the shower room. Although, it didn’t go as either of them planned. Ashley got carried away and Isaiah gave her what seeked even if they got late. They walked out of the shower and made their way up the stairs into the kitchen. Adrik had joined too, his hair wet from swimming.
“You took forever,” rebuked Lazarus.
Ashley pouted as she took the seat between Lazarus and Isaiah. “It took me a lot of effort to convince this guy to stop,” mocked Ashley. Even though she was the one who brought the trouble to Isaiah.
“You took a shower?” asked Zeiden.
Ashley bit back her blush. “I did some exercise downstairs too,” she said. Isaiah smiled beside her because only he knew the truth.
Suddenly, the doorbell rang. Lazarus pulled out his phone. “There’s a truck at the gates?” his face fell grim wondering what it was at their door.
Ashley poked her head up from her bowl. “It’s for me,” she said eagerly. “Let them in, will you, Lazarus.” Lazarus opened the gates with a button on his phone. And the truck pulled up to the front. Ashley and Zeiden left the table in a rush.
“Does she have more clothes?” asked Ronin.
Lazarus got out of the seat next and he followed Ashley and Zeiden to the door. The truck entered the driveway, but the workers faced Lazarus first, even though Ashley and Zeiden had reached the door way before him.
“Is it the tree?” asked Ashley behind Lazarus’s massive build.
“Yes, ma’am,” said the worker.
Ashley nudged Lazarus to the side. “You can bring it in here,” she said. Ashley handled the workers with ease, unlike Lazarus who just scared them. They dropped off the tree near the fire-place in the living room with her instructions. The third worker busied himself with the heavy load of ornaments and lights. The boxes rested on the porch and Ashley got Zeiden to bring them inside. Ashley pulled out Isaiah’s knife she still had on her, which was more convenient than she thought.
“You bought a tree?” asked Lazarus.
“What came?” Ronin questioned as they all left the kitchen table and come to the living room.
“We’re going to decorate a tree and the house,” said Ashley chirpily. “I wanted to put lights outside the house too, but I didn’t think you’d like that idea. So, we’re going to go crazy inside.”
After dinner had passed, Ashley got working on the tree with Isaiah. On the dark pine tree, the golden lights circled up to the top reaching the golden star on the crown of the tree. She gathered the boxes with the round ornaments of red and gold, she tied the string onto each one before she passed it to Isaiah who hung it where she told him. Zeiden and Ronin were putting lights on the stair’s railings. Adrik was helping Lazarus clean the kitchen up.
In good spirits, Ashley and Isaiah finished the Christmas tree just as Ronin and Zeiden finished putting up the lights as well. The house was looking ready for the holidays. Much more was still to be added, like a wreath on the front door. But Ashley could get to it later. For now, she enjoyed the glimmering gold lights and the beautiful cozy tree.
“Looks good,” believed Ashley.
Isaiah lifted his head from behind the tree. “Yeah, it does,” he agreed with her. Isaiah plugged in the lights and clicked the switch. The tree lit up to its full glory looking even more tremendous than before.
“I can’t believe we got it done,” held Lazarus as he came from behind.
“Looks great,” said Zeiden.
Ashley beamed. “Good job, everyone,” she clapped her hands together.
“It’s snowing,” Adrik revealed.
Ashley’s eyes widened. “Oh, how perfect is that,” she sighed dreamily at the fluffy white flakes that fell slowly behind the window. It started to pile up on the ledge of the window, which grew foggy from the icy breeze. By the warm fire, the tree glowed golden in the darkly lit house. Everyone gathered around the chairs and drank some beer, but Ashley steered clear and had a warm glass of milk.
“I would offer to watch a movie, but you boys look exhausted,” Ashley chuckled over the rim of her glass. Zeiden was already knocked out on the sofa, his head leaning on Ronin’s shoulder. Isaiah was even more quieter than usual, same went for Lazarus and Adrik. “Come on, let’s go to bed,” Ashley got off the couch ushering everyone to head to their rooms. But deep in Ashley’s heart she sensed a weariness in Isaiah and Lazarus. Ashley’s wolf was more alert than normal too.
“Everything alright?” she asked Lazarus. His green eyes were stern when he simply nodded and patted her shoulder supportively.
Ashley laced her hand in Isaiah’s and took them to their bedroom for the night.