Chapter 14: Winter Wedding
The acres of land behind the manor drowned in mountains of snow. The dark night light didn’t stop the snow from glistening like the stars in the sky. The winter wind had swept away all the leaves from the trees, but the tall mighty pine-trees stayed strong in the forest around them. With the night settling in quietly and the animals preparing for a restful sleep, the Iron Blood pack had different plans under the full moon.
Ashley finally got to enjoy the snow that piled up on the entire pack property. As her icy white gown trailed behind her, she carried a bouquet of grey roses. Silently, soft snow fell in front of her, which calmed the coiled nerves in her stomach. Wedding for wolves was a little different than the ones for humans. Besides the white dress and tuxedo attire, this wedding was held at night under a full moon. So, their goddess Maya could bless the couple abundantly, like she always has been for centuries.
Pale as the moon was Ashley’s dress, that adhered to her body and hugged all of her curves pleasurably. The silk glistened like the snow that was pure and untouched. She decided to keep her hair open, the heavy gold locks fell free and curled as they bounced behind her. Ashley had just finished putting in the last flower clip securing a few of the strands behind her head and away from her face. The last step were her shoes, which she gladly made sure had all the diamonds and crystals she desired. The diamonds encrusted on her heels winked at the light, like the icy glitter on her eyelids. The nerves from tonight made sure her cheeks were adequately coloured to a pink-rose, that matched her glossy lips too.
The door behind Ashley opened and Veronica Bacardi sauntered inside with her arms wide open, and in the most stunning burgundy velvet gown.
“You look beautiful!” she exclaimed as her kind blue eyes filled with tears. “I can’t believe you’re getting married.”
“Don’t cry,” Ashley scuttled over to Veronica and hugged her when Czar sauntered inside. “Czar-” Ashley called out pleadingly- “please, help me.”
“She’s going to cry through the whole ceremony,” he alleged casually. “So, just let her be.”
Veronica smacked her husband’s shoulder. “You’re so mean,” she sobbed. “I’m getting emotional, I can’t help it. Your parents would have loved to see this day.”
Ashley looked down at her hands. “I bet they would,” she mumbled. “But thank you for coming and supporting me in their place.” Veronica and Czar exchanged a loving glance before they hugged Ashley close to them. “It means a lot to have you both by my side tonight.” Veronica’s sobbing grew and Ashley couldn’t understand a word though all the blubbering.
Czar laid his hand on Veronica’s shoulder supportively. “There are some guests here to see you,” he told Ashley. The door opened again and Ashley recognized the woman who strolled inside. It was Viola Centauri.
Ashley’s smile grew wider. “Viola!” she squealed from excitement. Viola was dressed in a simple icy blue dress that was strapless. She was taller than Ashley and her silver heels looked brutal. Viola’s warm green eyes overflowed with happiness and excitement.
“I can’t believe I’m at your wedding,” said Viola. “This is perfect. You look perfect, Ashley.”
“Thank you,” Ashley smiled with all her teeth. “Is your whole family here?”
Viola nodded. “The rest of the packs have arrived as well,” she told Ashley. “But you don’t worry about that. I’m here, we’ve got it all under control.”
“If your brothers are here, then nothing is under control,” remarked Veronica. She looked up to Czar. “We should go to see if everything is ready.” Veronica and her husband left, but a few other women walked inside. Viola brought them to Ashley.
“This is my brother’s mate, Hailey Swan,” introduced Viola. Ashley was taken aback by the flaming red hair and sterling blue eyes. This woman looked gorgeous in the baby-pink dress, that this woman adorned for the wedding.
“Congratulations,” Hailey said earnestly. “You must be so nervous?”
Ashley took a deep, faltering breath. “Just a little,” she confided truthfully. Ashley didn’t know if it was because of the aura Hailey had or because she was mated like Ashley. But she felt like she could tell Hailey anything and everything.
“This is Evangeline North and her adorable son Dimitri,” said Viola. “They’re from the Crimson North pack.”
Dimitri’s blue eyes glared up at Viola making Ashley chuckle at his smug pout. Evangeline looked nothing like her son; Evangeline had copper hair and jade green eyes, but her son’s eyes were wintery-blue and hair was as black as night. Ashley then guessed that Dimitri probably resembled his father more.
“Isaiah told me about your husband and pack,” said Ashley. “It’s great to have you here tonight.”
Evangeline’s smile matched Ashley’s. “You look gorgeous, midear,” she said putting her hand on Ashley’s shoulder. “I remember my wedding like it was yesterday. So, make sure to have fun tonight, that’s the only important thing.”
Ashley nodded. “I really needed to hear that,” she chuckled. “Thank you for coming tonight,” Ashley said to all of them. “I don’t have many friends, so your support means a lot.” All the woman gathered in the room hugged Ashley close. She didn’t know what came over them, maybe it was just the mood of the wedding, but it felt good to have this unexpected and pleasant bond with everyone.
Suddenly, both the doors opened and a woman stood tall and proud. Ashley knew who the woman was from the chocolate brown hair, that was styled perfectly. Those regal green eyes were intense and resilient. In a navy-blue gown that resembled the night sky, the woman sauntered inside revealing more of her defined features. Particularly, those dimples. It was Ashley’s close friend and famous supermodel, Sabrina Sinclair.
“You said you couldn’t make it,” astounded Ashley because she was completely bewildered by the sudden presence of her old friend.
Sabrina flashed her dimples with her renowned sweetheart smile. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” She rushed over and hugged Ashley tightly. She pulled away and shook the wits out of Ashley. “You’re getting married! When did this all happen and so fast?” Sabrina announced.
Ashley pouted. “I didn’t get to tell you since you’re always travelling.”
Sabrina’s mouth fell open. “Is a phone call so hard?” she asked.
“Well-” Ashley winced.
“Forget about it now,” said Sabrina. “Let me get a look at you-” Sabrina fanned her face to stop the tears making the other girls around them giggle. “Ugh! Why are weddings so emotional?” Everyone whole-heartedly agreed on that statement.
“Okay, ladies-” Veronica waltzed back inside the big room- “the ceremony’s about to start, so all of you need to be in your seats.” Everyone made their way out after congratulating Ashley, except Sabrina who stayed behind.
Sabrina’s eyes warmed as she kissed the top of Ashley’s head. “I’ll be right at the front with you,” she said. “Don’t be nervous and you already look beautiful, so there’s nothing to worry about.” Sabrina grew quiet for a moment. “And if anyone gives you trouble tonight, I’ll handle it personally.”
Ashley chuckled at the resolve in her friend’s eyes. “I’ll be fine, Sabrina,” she said confidently.
Sabrina guided Ashley down the stairs to the temporary white tent arrangement at the back. Golden lights danced like fairies over the guests who were orderly sitting in their seats. The Iron Blood pack all came to support this union for their alpha and his mate too. Many other packs also came, which wasn’t Ashley idea. Isaiah offered to invite all his friends from the packs, which Ashley would never deny him. Snow gathered around them, but the warmth in the banquet didn’t let Ashely feel the cold.
Sabrina left Ashley standing alone at the end of the aisle. She could visibly see Isaiah dressed in a dark tuxedo with Zeiden, Adrik and Ronin lined up behind him. Czar offered to be the officiator, which Ashley couldn’t be more grateful for tonight.
“Ready?” Lazarus appeared beside her, dressed in his own suit looking extremely handsome, like his brothers. Unlike when they first met, he had a smile on his face tonight. His green eyes gazed into hers warmly, supporting her like the pillar that he was for his brother too.
Ashley laced her arm in his. “I’m nervous,” she whispered with a breath that was stuck in her throat.
Lazarus regarded her stumped. “You’re the alpha-female of the Iron Blood pack,” he affirmed, “you don’t get to be nervous.”
Ashley giggled. “I, apologize that I forgot that fact for a second,” she said as she straightened her shoulders like Lazarus had.
“And I’m right here with you,” he added after.
Ashley looked up into his steady gaze. “Thank you for walking me down the aisle,” she said. She didn’t feel it before, but the threat of tears started to show up now. Ashley couldn’t help it, Lazarus had a soft spot inside her heart, just like the rest of the boys did.
Lazarus sighed. “You think of me as a family,” he said. “And this is officially my first task as your brother.”
Ashley softly laid her head on his shoulder. “I love you too, Lazarus,” she jested sweetly making him grin.
Everyone saw the bride had arrived. They quieted and stood to their feet respectfully. Lazarus bit back his smile and he safely guided Ashley down the aisle to the one they both loved.
Under the full moon, Ashley stood proudly in front of Isaiah. They held hands as Czar tied a ribbon purified by lunar light. The white silk tied around Ashley’s left wrist like it had for Isaiah. Czar spoke in their ancient tongue calling out to Maya to sanctify the union of Ashley Hartling and Isaiah Iron.
The winter wedding broke into a spectacular party. Chairs cleared, dinner was served and everyone ate around the long tables. Ashley and Isaiah had shared their first dance with the ribbon still tied around their hands. All the other couples had joined after making it one heck of a party.
“Congratulations,” a man with domineering gold eyes appeared in front of Ashley. “I’m Gabriel Centauri.”
Ashley’s smile widened. She shook his offered hand. “Thank you for coming tonight. I know it means a lot to Isaiah.”
Gabriel’s stern lips lifted into a grin, which was definitely striking. “Isaiah’s had it tough these past years. So, I’m glad he’s found a mate like you.”
Ashley’s heart fluttered. “I’m glad to have found him too.”
“Ashley-” Sabrina came up behind her, but she froze when her eyes found Gabriel.
“This is Gabriel Centauri,” said Ashley. “Gabriel, this is my friend, Sabrina Sinclair.”
Gabriel shook Sabrina’s offered hand. They were interrupted by the rest of Gabriel’s pack mates. His brothers were the same as Gabriel, they all looked just as intimidating and wickedly handsome, except the youngest Klaus who looked charmingly sweet. Vincent instantly recognized the famous supermodel activating a conversation with all of them. Ashley knew that Sabrina could handle herself with the Centauri pack mates. So, she quietly slid away and joined her new family. She sauntered over to the boys who accepted her with open arms. Adrik stood with Isaiah as Zeiden and Ronin laughed over something, which was clearly bothering Lazarus.
“What are we joking about now?” she asked as she merged with them.
Zeiden put his arm around Ashley. “Lazarus and Adrik don’t want to admit that they had fun tonight,” he told her.
Ashley looked up at Lazarus bemused. “I know you both had fun,” she said to them. Adrik looked away from her firm gaze and drank his beer silently. Lazarus crossed his arms, but so did she. “You don’t need to say it,” she said. “I can see it in those eyes.”
Lazarus blinked a few times. “There’s no need to say it,” he told her. “It’s fun with you around.”
Ashley smiled up at him. “Did you guys eat?” she asked. “I don’t want you in the kitchen later eating the leftovers.”
They all frowned. “That’s the best part though,” remarked Ronin.
“I don’t know about food,” said Zeiden, “but I could definitely do some more cake.”
“Me too,” added Adrik before he followed Zeiden to the dessert table.
Lazarus and Ronin were joined with members of the Crimson North pack. When quietly, Isaiah circled his arm around Ashley’s waist. He pulled her away from the rowdy crowd into their own space to be alone.
“What are you doing?” she asked. “Someone will see.”
“Who cares,” said Isaiah. “Besides, we just got married. They’ll understand.” He took her to the vacant house, since everyone was outside.
“You keep getting cheekier each day,” she teased.
Isaiah pulled her close to his body, bunching up the skirt of her dress between their legs. “I can’t help it, you just have this effect on me,” he mumbled against her lips.
Ashley smiled. “Only for me,” she giggled before she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed Isaiah until both of their hearts become one. As a tease, Ashley lead Isaiah through a dance again. Isaiah was a bit out of practice but she’d make sure that he was fully trained for the next time. They both swayed side to side, his arms around her holding her close to his body.
“There you are,” said Zeiden bursting their bubble with a sharp needle. “Lazarus said to greet the guests before they leave.”
Ashley groaned and laid her head on Isaiah’s chest. “Never a quiet moment with these boys around.”
“It’s too late to back out now,” remarked Isaiah.
Ashley circled her arm with her husband. “Are you kidding,” she retorted. “I think I fit right in. None of us can stay quiet for too long or we’d go crazy.” Isaiah chuckled and kissed her once more.
Ashley and Isaiah rejoined the crowd and greeted everyone before they left for the night. Her friend Sabrina was the last to leave after she gave a bunch of gifts for Ashley and Isaiah. Everyone had left the party and the packs had returned to their homes after congratulating the couple.
Ashley looked down at her heeled feet. “They’re beautiful-” she looked up at Isaiah- “but my feet kill.”
Isaiah pulled his bow tie loose and had discarded his jacket on the couch. Ashley took his offered hand that helped her stay on her feet. “Where’d they all go?” Isaiah inquired when he noticed that Lazarus, Zeiden, Ronin or Adrik were nowhere to be seen.
Ashley unfastened some of the clips that held her hair, easing the tension that coiled around her neck. “They’re probably eating in the kitchen,” she told him confidently. They closed the door behind them before they made their way to the kitchen, where everyone stood around the counter of food. “See,” she glanced at her mate. “Told you they’d be here.”
“We got hungry,” said Zeiden.
Ashley sauntered over. She slipped over on the stool that Adrik pulled out for her and took a seat after the long day and night. She plated some food for herself and joined the impromptu dinner with the boys crowded around the kitchen counter.
“Have you guys decided where you want to go for your honeymoon?” asked Ronin.
Ashley looked up from her plate. “Not yet,” she said. “Do you have anywhere you want to go?” she asked Isaiah, but he shook his head in response. “A warm place is preferable, but I like enjoying winter to the fullest.”
“You should hit some ski-resorts this winter or maybe enjoy the mountain range,” suggested Zeiden.
Ashley’s interest perked. “Why don’t we all go?” asked Ashley. “Going on vacation with all of you will be a lot more fun.”
The guys looked at each other perplexed. “You want us to come with you on your honeymoon?” asked Ronin.
“Why not?” she retorted with a smile. “We’re all family now. Wherever we go, we all go together.” She didn’t notice it at first, but her eyes caught the flustered expressions on their faces. “I didn’t mean to make you boys blush so sweetly,” she laughed on her seat. “We’ll think of a honeymoon trip after Christmas-” Ashley slid off her stool and put the plate in the sink. “For now, let’s just enjoy the holidays together.”
“Let’s make this clear right now, Isaiah,” said Zeiden. “We’re not crashing your honeymoon, Ashley is the one taking us.” The men around the table chuckled at Isaiah who didn’t really have a say in the matter.
Lazarus came around and laid his hand on Isaiah’s shoulder. “Have fun,” he patted his brother’s back before he sauntered to his bedroom for the night.
“Good luck,” Ronin teased with a grin before he left with his jacket hooked on his finger behind him.
Zeiden hugged Isaiah. “Don’t be nervous and fuck up.” He laughed openly and dodged before Isaiah could punch him. Adrik followed next and he laid his hand on Isaiah’s shoulder, he mustered the tiniest smile for his cousin before he marched off to his own room, leaving the couple standing in the kitchen alone.
The silence around them thickened but so did the scent of their bond. Ashley looked down at the ribbon tied around her wrist. The butterflies in her gut coiled into a storm. She looked up to meet those misty grey eyes that were beautiful and still a mystery to her. His erotic scent flooded over, surrounding her body to bloom like a rose during spring. Ashley stepped forward next to Isaiah, she laced her hand in his and they went to their bedroom to consummate this bond for eternity.