Chapter 8: Unexpected but Cozy
Ashley was finally discharged from the hospital after long tests in the terribly hospital gown, which Ashley despised until she was finally able to rip it off her body. Although, the wound on her shoulder and neck still hurt, she was feeling a lot more stable on her feet. Isaiah and Lazarus were in the car with her as they drove to the Plaza hotel. More than the wounds, Ashley was more upset about the dress that was ruined in the crossfire. Ashley had tried her best to clean off the blood that seeped into the velvet material. But when she rinsed off the suds, she had a gaping hole through the dress where she had vigorously rubbed together. The first thing Isaiah had gifted her was ruined and it irked her.
They arrived at Ashley’s penthouse pretty late. She opened the door and the guys followed her inside. “Do you guys want anything to drink?” she asked them.
“No, it’s fine,” said Isaiah. Ashley slumped on the couch. “What are you doing?” he asked her.
She looked up at him befuddled. “Sitting-” she gave a stumped answer.
“Get your stuff,” said Isaiah.
Ashley tilted her head. “Why?”
“You’re coming to live with us,” answered Isaiah. “I can’t let you live here all alone.”
Ashley bit back her smile. “I’m living with you?”
Isaiah nodded. “Just get enough clothes for a couple of days,” he said. “We’ll come back for the rest when your injuries heal.”
Ashley winced when she hastily made an attempt to move.
“Be careful,” schooled Lazarus.
“Yeah, I got too excited,” Ashley dashed to her closet upstairs and packed a bag as quick as she could. Extra clothes, underwear and her necessities stuffed into two bags. “Lazarus, catch!” From the top of the stairs, she tossed the first bag, which Lazarus caught swiftly. Isaiah climbed the stairs to help her with the second suitcase.
“I think I should carry them,” she said as they entered the elevator again. Lazarus and Isaiah didn’t budge, but Ashley couldn’t hold back her laughter any longer. In the elevator, Ashley giggled until her eyes watered. “You two look adorable carrying pink suitcases.”
“We’re only adorable in your eyes,” muttered Lazarus.
Ashley clearly understood what Lazarus was indicating towards. Whether it was on the streets or even in the hotel, Isaiah and Lazarus got all the attention because of their intimidating built, tattoos and those piercing glares. Ashley shrugged off all the eyes on them, like the brothers had managed to do.
They returned to the car and her luggage was put in the trunk. Isaiah and Lazarus sat in the seats at the front. As the car glided through the streets, Ashley observed their profiles wondering how she got caught up in this family. They were a group of male wolves who had no idea how to lead a normal life, like how she had all these years. But despite their upbringing, she was comfortable around them. They showed her kindness even though she was a lone wolf, a rogue belonging to no pack. Isaiah had never once made her feel that she wasn’t in their circle. Ashley silently wondered in the back of the car, that it was possible that Isaiah was her mate… No, it wasn’t just possible, it was becoming inevitable.
The car pulled up on the pack’s territory. She absolutely adored the manor that rested in front of a rounded drive way. Behind the old manor rolled acres of acres of land, where the Iron Blood pack resided. A fence surrounded the property cutting off all civilization from them, which allowed the pack to roam freely in their wolf forms.
Lazarus and Isaiah carried her luggage inside the house that she would call home for the time being. The entrance of the home was massive. On the left was the spacious living room with big comfy couches that surrounded a brick fire place, which she absolutely adored. The kitchen was directly on the right and it was efficient enough for all the guys who lived here. Ashley climbed the massive marble staircase that had a burgundy carpet rolling down the steps.
Ashley followed Isaiah to the end of a long hallway, which had two double doors. They walked into a bedroom, which she recognized all too well. In the centre sat, the king size bed that had a dark ebony headboard and it faced a mini lounge area. Ashley inwardly smiled when she realized that Isaiah wanted her to stay with him in his room. She grabbed both of the luggage from Isaiah, but he helped her place them on the round coffee table.
“We should change your bandages soon,” said Isaiah as he looked at his watch.
Ashley looked around and found the clock, which told her that then minutes had passed since eight o’clock in the evening.“I’ll do it later,” she said. “It’s a hassle taking it off and putting it back on.” Ashley rummaged through her luggage so she could change into some comfortable clothes. She grabbed a silk dress that had spaghetti straps, which wouldn’t impede on her bandages. “We should get something to eat,” she told Isaiah. “I’ve been getting hungrier ever since I got this surgery-” Ashley opened the door to the bathroom- “Is that normal?” she asked behind her. Ashley placed her bag of makeup, creams and toothbrush neatly on the side of the counter. The door behind her opened again. Isaiah waltzed inside with a medical kit in his hands. “I told you I’ll change it later,” she told him again.
Isaiah placed the kit on the counter. He ignored her protests when he circled his arm around her waist. Isaiah hoisted Ashley off her two feet and positioned her on the counter. Ashley stiffened when Isaiah stood between her legs.
“Undress,” affirmed Isaiah.
Ashley gaped at him. “Don’t you think we’re moving too fast?” she asked astounded by his brazen mood.
Isaiah raised a brow. “I’m just going to change your bandages,” he told her.
Ashley swallowed the tightness in her throat. “Can you at least turn around?” she asked bashfully.
Isaiah tilted his head. “Why are you feeling shy all of a sudden?” he asked her. “What happened to the spontaneous girl who kissed me?”
Ashley opened, and then, she closed her mouth. “I blame the alcohol,” she retorted calmly. “I may not look it but I’ve get very shy around you.” Ashley nudged his shoulder so he could turn away from her. Ashley worked quickly when he had. She took off the sweater she had on and her bra, before she put the silk dress over her body, but since she was sitting, the dress bunched up around her hips. “Okay, I’m done,” she said.
Isaiah turned around with the same stoic expression. But she found it reassuring because he seemed unaffected. The butterflies in her stomach seemed to dissipate. Isaiah had large hands and his finger were long, but they skilfully worked to get her the patches off her shoulder and the juncture of her neck. Both spots had multiple stitches, that were still red and badly bruised. Ashley looked away from the stitches, which made her gut lurch. She was glad she was sitting, otherwise her knees would have slackened from the gruesome sight of the thin, black zigzag stitching pattern.
Isaiah pushed the strap of her dress down as he moved to clean the wound on her shoulder. Thoroughly, he cleaned the wound and quietly worked. “Does it still hurt?” he asked her.
Ashley moved her head back. She found it easier to forget the pain on the left side of her body, when she simply shadowed Isaiah’s grey eyes. “Yes, it does,” she told him. “What will you do to make it feel better?”
Isaiah’s eyes shifted from under those dark lashes. “I can’t do much expect make you forget for a moment,” he professed.
Ashley smiled. “I’m going to keep you to that,” she accepted.
Isaiah smoothed down the beige bandage on her shoulder. And then, he moved to clean the wound on her neck, which was much worse than the one on her shoulder. Dr. Stone had told Ashley that her artery was scrapped, that’s why there were more stitches. Ashley walked out guaranteed some nasty scars at the end of all this.
Ashley winced back when the antiseptic spray stung her skin. “That hurts, Isaiah,” she wanted to cry out, but she held it in by almost biting her lip off.
Suddenly, her vision was blocked by Isaiah. His eyes locked onto hers by alarming surprise. Ashley was taken a-back when Isaiah leaned in and laid his lips on top of hers. Her mind blanked and she reeled back from the mere touch of his lips. Ashley leaned into him and fell into the mesmerizing spell of his kiss.
Ashley knew that Isaiah placed the bandage right over her wound, but she didn’t care about the pain at all. The only thing she could feel was the heat of his lips and the slickness of his tongue. Ashley felt her wolf awaken inside of her. The need in her body was strong to claim him, but she didn’t act on it. Although, more than anything she deeply craved to mark Isaiah. Before she got carried away, Ashley pulled away from his kiss. But his lips lingered right over hers, making her regret that she ended it.
“All done,” he announced.
Ashley’s body felt like someone had ignited her on fire. The last thing she was worried about now was god awfully wound on her neck. Isaiah walked out of the bathroom to give her some privacy. But how could he just leave her in such a desperate mess? she speculated as she got off the counter.
Ashley closed the bathroom door to create a barrier between them, so she could compose herself. Ashley stripped out of the rest of her clothes with her working arm. She tried to clip her hair, but she failed miserably. After a few exhausted attempts, she just let her hair tumble around her, even though it was inconvenient. Ashley gathered her clothes and took them to her luggage, putting them on the side.
Isaiah walked out from the single door in front of her. “I made room for you in there,” he said. Isaiah grabbed her luggage’s and took them inside the room. Ashley sauntered into a walk-in closet, which had suits lined up in rows. Shoes were on the side and the centre glass table had rings, watches, cuff-links and neckties. She found Isaiah take her to a column just for her stuff, for now it would work, but needed a much bigger closet if she was going to stay here. Isaiah quietly helped her put her stuff up, making Ashley smile sincerely for him.
“They started cooking,” said Ashley as she smelt warm spices fill the air in the house.
Isaiah turned over. “Lazarus and the guys are cooking a meal for you as a surprise,” he said.
Ashley’s big eyes warmed. “Really, for me?” she pointed at herself.
“Yeah,” he said. Ashley almost bumped into the wall when she eagerly moved to go downstairs, but she managed to save herself. She strolled down the stairs with Isaiah forgetting that she was barefoot, she entered the kitchen where Lazarus cooked on the stove.
“That smells delicious, Lazarus,” she said. She looked around his shoulder into the large metal pot, that he was diligently stirring in, like some mystical witch from a storybook.
“I’m making beef stew,” he said proudly.
Ashley sighed from the heavenly scent of meat and vegetables. “Where’d you learn to cook so well?” she asked.
“No one,” Lazarus said. “I learned all on my own.” He dipped a small spoon into the boiling broth and brought it down to her. She blew on the steam before she devoured the thick, spicy broth that tasted beyond delicious. Words weren’t enough to describe the rich taste of the savoury meat that thickened the red pasty broth.
Ashley laid her hand on Lazarus’s shoulder. “It’s perfect,” she said. “I could eat it all myself.” Lazarus chuckled at her stern expression, that was telling him she wasn’t joking when she said that. “Do you need any help?”
“No,” said Lazarus. “You just take a seat and don’t move.”
Ashley opened her mouth to dispute him, but Lazarus raised a brow like he knew fully well what she was about to say. “I’ll be right over there, if you need me,” she said. Ashley slid on top of the stool, when she saw Isaiah walk past the kitchen over to the other room. But she couldn’t see him leave because her eyes were blocked. Zeiden and Ronin had entered the kitchen with large bags in their hands.
“Did you get everything?” asked Lazarus.
“We think so,” believed Ronin.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed, Ashley?” asked Zeiden.
Ashley shook her head. “I’m more hungry than sleepy,” she shared.
Zeiden placed the grocery bags on the counter and rummaged through them with haste. Suddenly, he pulled out a clear box and opened it. “Here-” he presented a box full of buttered croissants. They all grabbed one to enjoy before dinner began. Lazarus made Ronin and Zeiden get to work as soon as they came. Pots clacked and the heat of the stove warmed her as she enjoyed the company. Isaiah returned after he had changed out of his suit. He had a simple shirt, that displayed his tattooed arms which was paired with faded blue jeans. The rugged combination looked dangerous on this man who was built to perfection. Ashley almost swooned when she admired his broad shoulders, that lean waist with those long legs of his.
“How long is it going to take?” Isaiah asked the boys.
“Don’t rush me,” barked back Lazarus.
Isaiah shot an icy glare at Lazarus, which made Ashley and Zeiden chuckle.
“I saw that,” grumbled Lazarus.
“You were supposed to,” retorted Isaiah. Lazarus flicked a dirty table cloth at him, but Isaiah swiftly caught it.
Everyone moved over to the round dining table in the kitchen. Adrik had arranged six bowls, drinks and a plate of warm loafs of buttered bread. Ashley and the others gathered around the table to eat the amazing stew. They all commended Lazarus for cooking the stew to perfection. It wasn’t something that wolves could easily just roll over, because they took their meals very seriously. Ashley was so absorbed with them, that she would keep using her injured arm. She instantly let out a wince alarming all of them. Ashley told them not to worry, but that didn’t stop them at all.
Dinner passed and everyone got ready to clean the dishes. Zeiden avoided doing the dishes and pretended to help Ashley, so Lazarus or Ronin wouldn’t catch him. Ashley tried her hardest to help, but they all just kept her to the side. To keep her occupied Lazarus prepared a white bowl full of strawberry flavoured ice-cream. She didn’t know how he figured out that strawberry was her favourite flavour.
“Want a bite?” Ashley held a spoon full of ice-cream to Zeiden. He gladly took the offered bite. “Who else wants a bite?” she asked and Ronin came over and took one for himself, she also helped him take a bite for Lazarus. Ashley looked over to Adrik who was resting on the side. She met his gaze, but he didn’t budge for the ice-cream. It was only until she made an attempt to get off the stool that he rushed over to her side. The last person was Isaiah who was on the cellphone in the other room. Ashley slid off the stool and sauntered over to him.
“I need to meet you tomorrow,” said Isaiah. “Okay. Bye.” Isaiah cut the phone after a curt discussion.
Ashley came over with the bowl and sat on the ledge of the couch. The bowl in her hand and the spoon playing on her lips. When she noticed his eyes on her, she asked him artfully; “Do you want some?”
Isaiah’s eyes were definitely not on the ice-cream. They were focused on her lips. “I’m thinking I’d enjoy something much sweeter,” he said.
Ashley smirk fell when the side of Isaiah she wasn’t prepared for made its debut. “Flirting with me, are we?” she asked. “And here you said you didn’t know how.”
“I never said I didn’t know how to flirt. I just never cared to try,” said Isaiah. Grabbing the spoon from her fingers. He dipped into the strawberry ball of cold cream and put it in his mouth. “Mmm, strawberry is my favourite.” He took the spoon again and dipped into the ice-cream. He suddenly swiped the melted cream on Ashley’s lips, before he dove down to her and kissed the cream off her lips.
Ashley would’ve dropped the bowl if Isaiah hadn’t taken it from her weakened hands, that lost their grip from his heated kiss. He pulled away from her and sauntered off with the finished bowl leaving Ashley blushing all on her own. Ashley turned and threw him a scowl, and like he sensed her eyes on his back, he turned and smirked at her. He was getting just as spontaneous as her, which could mean that Ashley was in deep trouble if she didn’t stay on her toes.
Isaiah reached out to her with one step and now she was going to take wheel. The desire in her to stay by his side was overwhelming. It wasn’t in her to fight this feeling or overlook it because she knew that no one would make her feel this way apart from Isaiah. He may not be fully prepared, but she was ready for this bond because it felt right to her and her wolf.