Cracked Open: book 3

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Twenty-four

Ciro

Walking up to her sister’s door, I began to feel Kaia’s nerves radiate through her fingers. While I held them, her fingers trembled and loosened their grip on mine. I tightened my grip, giving them a squeeze, and I could hear her breath rush out. When we stopped in front of the entrance, Kaia extended her other hand towards the doorknob and stopped.

I had stepped to the side so that she could open the door, but her hand froze on the knob. Coming up from behind her, I crowded her space and reached around her. I laid my palm on top of her hand and gave her a kiss on the temple before helping open the door.

Because we were bonded now, I could feel her heart’s echo pound in my chest. Pulling away, I whispered, “I’m right here, blossom.”

Kaia visibly swallowed and nodded, stepping over the threshold of Kallan’s house. We were noticed immediately. I couldn’t tell if Kaia thought that was a good thing or not. But it was painful to see her pull in on her emotions ñ her face completely blank. It was like after taking a million steps forward ñ getting her to open up and feel free to express feeling ñ she took just as many steps back.

“Kaia, oh my Gods! You’re -” This was Camira as she stood up from her spot on Dagon.

“Alive?” Kenna finished for her shocked sister as they glanced between us with different levels of astonishment.

There was a moment of silence as we all took each other in. I gauged Kaia’s reaction and felt her physically inch closer into my side. The attention was unwelcome. My fingers put pressure on her outer hip instinctually, and I simultaneously smiled at our family.

Then, with an exaggerated sigh, Kenna proclaimed, “Well, finally. Lets get this party started.” Kenna was kind of half-on half-off Calder with her stomach being supported by her thighs.

I nodded to both guys in a gesture of hello, and they returned it with a half smile and a slightly lifted drink. Their amazement seemed to be nowhere in sight.

“Come in, guys. Come sit down. I honestly don’t know why I’m inviting you in. The house is Kallan’s.” Camira was waving her hand in the air towards us. She seemed flustered because of our surprise entrance. Dagon tried to get her to sit back down.

Kaia inched her way in and I decided to pull her the rest of the way. I sat down first and smiled at our company, trying to visibly display relaxation to try and calm Kaia’s racing blood. Looking up at Kaia I noticed she still stood by the arm of the couch I was sitting in, still contemplating what she wanted to do.

“Kaia, come sit.” I grabbed her hand and tried to pull her onto my lap.

“Um, actually.” She looked around the room at everyone staring at her. Kenna held a firm gaze, Camira’s was expectant, Calder was smiling knowingly, and Dagon still tried to calm Camira down. I wouldn’t be surprised if Camira’s curiosity chased my blossom away. And that’s what she seemed to have done as Kaia stated, “I was going to go say hi to Kallan first.”

“Yeah, no problem. I’ll be out here, okay?” I watched as she nodded quietly and strode away. Then she turned sharply with a quick change in mood, and stared at her family.

“Do not give him trouble. Do not make him uncomfortable. Or ask any stupid personal questions.” She gave the room a glare, and I smiled at my mate.

She left quickly and I turned back to the other four.

Calder spoke first with a whistle. “Wow man, I don’t think I’ve heard her talk that much in one breath before. You did something right.” He chuckled and Kenna jabbed him as well as she could around her pregnant belly.

I smiled. “I don’t know. She’s been really nervous about me meeting you guys. Even though I’ve met you guys like five times.” I paused, breathing in and feeling Kaia’s emotion in the other room. She was happy. I cracked a smile again before finishing. “She’s acting like this is the first time we’ve all met and that this is really important.”

Kenna spoke up. “Yeah, I can tell.”

Camira said something very similar at the same time. “I could tell the minute you guys walked in.”

I nodded. “Yeah, I tried to help.” I didn’t realize what I said until both girls blushed and the guys smirked. “That’s not -”

Dagon chucked and helped change the topic. “So how have you guys been? We’ve all been worried. After the girls got really sick, we weren’t sure what was going to happen. Kaia practically kicked us out.”

“Yeah, it didn’t sit well with my daughter and me.” Kenna complained and Calder politely shushed her.

“Well, we’re doing perfect now. It was hell for those few weeks. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after we bonded.”

Both sisters nodded again with a light in their eyes. Of course they knew. They knew that a bond was stronger than anything ñ even death. Why would they not? For a moment I wish one of them had told us.

Camira spoke up. “Well, not all relationships are fairy tales. Kenna pulled Calder from the underworld, after he was attacked by demons. I had to be imprisoned in order to find Dagon. There was another Horned One who persuaded me to kill him.” Camira shivered and Dagon wrapped her in a hug from behind. She sighed. “And now you and Kaia almost died as well.”

Kenna finished Camira’s summary of all our relationships. “The only one in a fairy tale seems to be Kallan.” For some reason she seemed to be annoyed by this realization.

Calder responded, “But babe, she’s seeing visions and if either of them are killed during a vision they won’t ever wake up.”

The room was filled with wordless glances, and that’s when Kaia came out. Immediately, at the sight of the noiseless room, she converted back to her nervous state. She walked into my arms and seemed to hide in them, like they were barriers, from the judgment she thought was close behind.

Instead Kenna spoke up, for once making no comment directed at Kaia that would make her burrow deeper into my side. “So, we were thinking that once Kallan wakes up, we would go back to the warmer region."

Camira had her response ready. “Kenna, please. You guys can’t leave. Itís almost spring and you’re about to birth Serena.”

Kaia perked up as I played with the end of her braid lazily. “You found a name?” She had calmed down significantly, and it showed through her slack spine against the back of the couch.

“Yeah.” Kenna responded quickly then gave the room the other answer most of us wanted. “And I can’t stay here and birth my daughter. It’s still too cold. It’s just going to be easier on Serena and me to be in a warmer climate.”

Dagon asked the next obvious question. “Where will you go?”

“Well, Kenna wants to go back to the underworld,” Calder answered and squared his shoulders like he was ready for battle.

Kenna stroked the back of his hand, which rested on her belly. “It’s going to be fine, babe. We won’t be going back to where I found you.”

We all pretended not to notice Calder’s shiver.

“Well, I’m really excited for you guys. Calder, I know you’ll be a great father, and Kenna, there’s no doubt about what a great mother you’ll become.” Kaia stunned us all as she spoke quietly, yet firmly from the heart. She spoke from her memories of those short days with Seraphina.

I nuzzled her neck, and Kaia sighed like my response reassured her that opening up was the right move.

The extra skin contact soothed the itch that was crawling across my skin. It had been there since she left twenty minutes ago to go visit with Kallan. We both seemed to relax after the intimate brush of skin.

Kaia

The rest of the night none of us ventured into Kallan’s room. I understood why too. When entering the bedroom, it was like the atmosphere had shifted drastically. I had to pause and readapt, like her room was a whole new world. Her world. The room was so thick with Kallan’s emotions from her visions that it worried me. I tried talking to her through the vision she was having. I told her everything.

But like I said, we stayed there in case...something happened. We all had a reason to protect her unconscious body.

But as we continued to talk I felt alone in my constant worry, and my mind was split in half. One side was trying to listen for Kallan. The other half was directed at the conversation of our family. Kenna continued to talk about the way they were preparing for their daughter, and Camira was like a magnet to the information the couple was spewing. We all knew she wanted children.

I was distracted and I could almost feel Ciro rooting inside my head, trying to find the source of my diverted attention. His constant presence, physically and mentally, helped me feel not so alone. His mind caressed mine in a way that made my breath easier. His fingers traced my markings precisely without looking and it started to calm my growing worry. My heart trembled like the beginnings of an earthquake, and Ciro tried to whisper into my ear without looking too obvious.

“Blossom, it’s going to be okay. Shhh.” He silently took my fingers and pressed my palm over his beating heart, trying to help calm mine.

“Ciro.” In his name I pleaded for his help. There was an earthquake building and if I didn’t calm it, the house’s skeleton was going to shake fiercely.

I turned into him, nobody noticing, and placed my other hand over the strong pulse in his neck. Looking into his fierce eyes, I tried to focus all of my attention into them. Ciro’s green irises deepened as he tried to help me quietly calm down. His breath deepened, trying to help me feel the rise and fall of his diaphragm against my own stomach.

It was working, and through all of this we had only spoken seven words and a sound of comfort.

The feeling that an earthquake was on the brink of shaking through me dissipated. I looked again into Ciro’s strong gaze, after resting my head against his shoulder.

He smiled with love, and I realized he was it. Ciro was the other half that I had needed all this time. He was it for me. He was my soul mate. Mine.

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