A SOFT VOICE WHISPERED Aida’s name in her ear. She groaned, pushing moving the unruly hair out of her face, muttered something incoherent and slumped back against her pillow.
“Celeste wake up, Sweetheart.”
With a grunt she opened her eyes and stared back at her mate.
“Happy birthday,” he smiled softly.
She sighed, after Tyler’s death ten years ago she banned family members from celebrating her birthday, but they rarely listened. The big parties were thrown out the window, allowing a sliver of space for presents and dinner. “Thank you,” she mumbled, gripping his thick bicep as he kissed her forehead.
“I know you don’t like to celebrate.”
She snorted as his understatement.
“But I do have a few small things planned, so get dressed.”
Pushing herself off of the firm yet inviting mattress she stared at the clothes in her closet. There wasn’t much to her outfit; black boots, black pants, black shirt, and black jacket—this was after all, a day of mourning. “Where are we going?” Aida asked as the family of three and Catherine piled into a helicopter. “And don’t say it’s a surprise,” she warned her mate.
Draco gave her a cheeky grin and said, “It’s a surprise. It’s a long flight...” Aida nodded, he didn’t explicitly say she should go back to sleep, but that was the jest of his message. The flight was long for Draco, and it felt even longer due to the fact that the other three passengers were asleep.
Three hours went by before Aida woke up, her hand immediately beginning to play with the pearl choker Tyler gifted her six years ago. The beads were starting to show some wear and tear, but it made sense—she almost never took it.
“I uh,” Draco started and then stopped, trying to find the right words. “I talked to your parents about what you normally do on your birthday and they said you all are normally in Italy.”
“You flew us to Italy?”
Draco nodded. “We still have a drive to get to our first destination and then we’ll be staying here for the rest of the week.”
The drive was shorter than the flight. Aida continued to stare out the window, not really seeing the things that were passing by.
“I didn’t want you to not visit him today.”
Her head jerked up to meet Draco’s eyes, before they flickered out the window. He had taken her to the cemetery where Tyler was buried. Tears pooled in her eyes as she stared at her mate.
“We’ll be right here.”
With a nod, Aida slid on her sunglasses and stepped out onto the pebble covered ground. Some people talked to the headstones, sharing their life stories since their loved one had passed but Aida never did. Instead she would stand there, hair blowing in the wind, crying.
“Thank you,” she whispered into Draco’s chest, after an hour. “You and Doni are the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten.” Kissing her son’s forehead they climbed back into the car. “Where to next?”
Despite the sad day, Aida was all smiles for the rest of the drive to her grandparents house.
“How long have your grandparents lived here?”
“Nonna moved to Italy when she was 10, Papa was born and raised here. The house they live in is the one Nonna grew up in.”
Draco nodded and placed a hand on her thigh. “Do you want to stop and get coffee?”
With a grin, Aida pulled off into the lot and parked the car. Unbuckling Doni, she slid him onto her hip and shut the door.
“Celeste no,” Draco scolded. “You shouldn’t be carrying him.”
Rolling her eyes, Aida brushed off his comment and continued to the coffee shop.
“Would you like to go ahead of me?” A thick accented voice broke off her daydream and Aida looked away from the menu.
“You can go ahead of me if you would like,” the man smiled, awkwardly gesturing to her pregnant belly.
“Oh it’s okay, thank you though. I’m waiting for my partner. Do you want anything to drink or eat Catherine?”
“No My Lady,” Catherine shook her head and looked around the cafe.
Humming, Aida stepped up to the counter and ordered four drinks and some food. “Mango Dragon-fruit lemonade for you,” Aida smiled and handed Catherine her drink.
“Don’t worry about it. Our treat.”
Piling back into the car, Aida continued to drive through the streets of Italy until they came across the house she spent most holidays at. “Nonna!” She cried happily when she saw her grandmother standing in front of the front door.
“Oh wow,” Ana gasped, her eyes unwavering from Draco’s body. Subtly pushing her granddaughter away, Ana walked towards the Lycan God. A manicured hand wrapped around his bicep as she began to feel his muscles. “Wow,” she muttered again under breath.
Draco tensed slightly, and shot a look towards his mate for help. “Help me.”
The Queen giggled and placed a hand over her mouth.
“Celeste I swear to god, I will cane you 60 times if you don’t get me out of here in five seconds.”
Seven seconds went by before Aida finally pulled the plug, just shy of stopping her grandmother from orgasming on the spot. Taking Doni’s hand she helped him up the stairs and into the house. “Papa?” She called out when the smell of penne alla vodka hit her nose.
“Aida,” her grandfather smiled with open arms. “You look ready to pop!”
“I’m carrying twin boys,” she rolled her eyes. Turning on her heel she pointed a finger at her mate who had just walked into the room. “His twin boys.”
Stopping quite fearfully, Draco paled under the gaze of Aida’s stern eyes. “I’m sorry?”
Lorenzo laughed, causing the two mates to look at him as if they had forgotten he was there. “You must Draco?”
The King gulped, effectively displaying his nervousness. “Yes Mr…” He glanced over at Aida for help.
“Yes Mr. Rossi. It’s a pleasure to you.”
Aida was sitting in a wicker chair, watching her mate and son throw pennies into the water fountain. It was warm, the sun beaming down on her face as she drew patterns on her stomach. It was a gesture she did all the time now, the feeling soothing both her and her sons. Ripping open a warm bread roll, Aida smeared butter and jam over it and plopped it in her mouth. She groaned happily at the fruity flavors that exploded on her taste buds.
She opened her eyes and watched as Adonis ran through a crowd of people and straight into her legs. “Hi baby,” she greeted her son happily and placed him on her thigh. A flash of red hair caught her eye and Aida stilled.
Draco’s voice pulled her back to reality. Sending him an apologetic smile she went back to feeding Adonis, but she remained more quiet and reserved than before.
An all too familiar voice made her pause. Looking away from her son briefly she faked a smile. “Axel. Hi.”
“How are you?” He was still standing up, so his feet shifted awkwardly from side to side.
“I’m good, how are you?”
Hee scratched the back of his head, “I’m fine. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for not pushing harder to see you before you left. I should have set an alarm or something, I wasn’t expecting to be out so late the night before.”
Aida laughed sarcastically, “I see some old habits don’t die hard.”
He cocked his head to the left, his blue eyes boring into the ones he had found himself dreaming about since grade eight.
“Axel I think you forget that I know you don’t sleep. You can’t sleep because of your nightmares, and you want me to believe that you overslept? I know you were off fucking Amelia.” Aida was almost shaking with anger. Foul language slipping through her mouth as she forgot about the fact that her son was still sitting there happily munching away on bread and fruit.
He flinched. Axel wasn’t used to the new and improved Aida. He wasn’t used to her speaking her mind, he assumed she was still the submissive girl he had dated during the summer all those years ago.
“So don’t fucking lie to me.”
“I missed you.”
The Queen fought the urge to roll her eyes at his corny line.
“I never stopped loving you.”
Her posture went stiff as she felt Draco let out a growl.
Axel jumped and looked around at the other people at the table. He hadn’t noticed them until now. “Who is that?” He asked, his neck flushing with anger.
“My partner,” Aida stared at him.
He gestured towards the tall, dark, and handsome Lycan King. “He’s a bit too old for you isn’t he?”
Aida rolled her eyes, as she watched Draco stand up, with his back completely straight and his shoulders rounded.
Draco was doing everything he could to intimidate Axel, and based on the gulp, it seemed to be working. “She’s 22,” Draco’s velvety voice through his ears. “And in case you haven’t forgotten, she’s entitled to her own opinions. Now, I think it’s time for us to go, stress isn’t good for the babies, and you’re stressing my wife out.”
“Babies?” Axel’s eyes flickered to the three year old in her lap, and the protruding belly hidden behind a monochrome lavender outfit. “You have kids?”
Standing slowly, Aida handed Adonis off to Draco. “Why does it matter?”
“Because that was supposed to be us!” He cried, his hands flailing around.
“No. It stopped being us when the only times you wanted to truly define our relationship was when I was around for the holidays. You never once even considered the idea that we could try for a long distance relationship, and you know what? I’m glad, I didn’t cave, because then I wouldn’t have met an amazing man who lets me make my own decisions. I wouldn’t have adopted an amazing little boy or have two more on the way if it wasn’t for you cheating on me. So thank you,” she clapped mockingly. “Thank you for cheating, it changed my life for the better.”