Cracked Open: book 3

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“Kaia, I really don’t think it’s a good idea.” Ciro weaved his fingers through mine, stopping my advance on the wooden door of Kallan’s cabin.

I sighed harshly and turned to face my mate.

“Ciro, I know I had a meltdown. But we can’t just stop visiting. Kallan needs all the support she can get.” I rested my opposite hand on the side of his neck ñ feeling his pulse ñ a reminder to both of us that he was there to calm my rumbling emotions.

“I just feel like we need to be here. Like something is going to happen today.”

“That’s exactly my point, Blossom. Last time she had tears on her cheeks and you couldn’t handle it.”

Ciro was unmovable.

I glared over his shoulder, trying to figure out how to make him understand. I inhaled deeply, finding the speech within me.

“Look, baby. I have a weakness, and it’s you.” Ciro’s eyes were now securely on mine, and his veins pulsed green with passion across his cheeks. “But are also my strength, the other half of my soul.” I tried not to gasp with his overwhelming emotion, but my voice cracked anyways. “I-if you can’t stand by my side while I try to help my family heal...If you choose to leave while I fix this,” I indicated the closed door, “I don’t know what I’d do.”

I was forced to look away and deal with my constricting throat before I could face Ciro again.

“If I lose you, Ciro, I lose who I am. I lose the woman I became because of you. I would lose us, our future. Ciro, I can see our future. It’s just over the horizon.” Ciro’s warm hand cradled my cheek as I finished. “I don’t want to lose myself again to what I was. I was cold and it almost hurts to think I was ever like that. I love who you have molded and shaped with your own hands ñ your own patience and love.”

At my last words, both of his hands embraced my cheeks tenderly and Ciro caught the single tears that trailed down my pale cheeks. It was impossibly hard to think about no longer having him with me. It was dreadful to wrap my mind around Ciro no longer in my bed, in my thoughts or his fingers wrapped around mine in a firm show of support and love.

“Please come inside with me.”

Ciro leaned forward, resting his forehead on mine and just breathed ñ like I had taken all the breath out of him with my speech. His lips were like the whisper of future promises, and my heart began to settle. Then his lips pushed away every doubt that tried to fight for attention with a gentle touch, and they moved across mine with a single word, “Always.”

We walked in after a moment of calm silence, just standing in each other’s presence. Camira and Kenna were there with Dagon and Calder, and I realized they had probably just heard every word. They tried to look on with innocence, but we all knew better.

“Hey guys.” I sighed, and slouched down into the couch cushions as I was too tired to care about what they heard and what they felt they needed to share because of it.

Everyone gave their own hello, mostly nods and smiles. Then Calder spoke up and directed the question towards Ciro.

“How is she?” He pulled Kenna’s pregnant body closer and I knew where this was going. “Do we need to leave?”

Kenna interfered immediately. “We are not leaving.”

Calder snapped back. “We are if your sister is going to be a danger to my baby.”

His tone was so out of place we all just stared at the couple for a few seconds.

“Calder, I’m fine.” He looked at me with doubt ñ like the answer didn’t hold any truth because it was coming from me –‘the danger’. I huffed leaning further into the couch, waiting for Ciro to back me up.

“She’s going to be fine. I’m here if she needs me, and if something’s off we’ll leave. We aren’t making you guy’s leave. I promise your daughter is safe.”

Ciro had been standing at my back, and now both hands were holding onto my shoulders. His hold was bordering on touching the subject they were discussing ñ not just another loving caress. I was a subject.

Yeah, I was getting annoyed.

“So how are you really?” Dagon inquired with a softer tone.

“I feel like I need more sleep, honestly.” I was starting to relax, realizing not everyone was out to push me away.

Then: “Well, maybe that’s what you need most right now.”

The sound that came out was a cross between a growl and an infuriating scream. Then I voiced my frustration.

“I’m fine!” I shot to my feet. “I’m completely fine. I can’t believe you guys don't trust me.” I realized they were all staring at me with eyes laced with minimal fear.

“Why are you all looking at me like I’m a bomb! I’m not going to explode any time soon.” I quickly left the room, heading for Kallan’s bedroom.

Before I could shut them all out, maybe even Ciro, I heard a few voices all at once.

“I didn’t mean it that way.”

“I wasn’t anything personal.”

“Babe, I would feel better if we left.”

Then Kenna calmly responded: “No, Calder, we have to stay. It’ll only make everything worse. It’ll be fine.”

I would have felt a searing guilt if not for my rumbling anger – more because of my own outburst than with my family for trying to protect themselves.

“Kaia, wait!” Ciro caught up in three strong strides. “I’m coming with you.”

“Just so you can protect them?” I spat; apparently my anger wasn’t ready to crumble away.

Ciro’s retort was just as equally menacing.

“No! I’m coming to protect my mate.” We kept walking as he finished. “I’m here to support you, remember?”

I shoved open Kallan’s door and we slipped inside. The door clicked shut with finality and it felt like the rest of the world no longer existed. My anger was sucked out of me, and I slouched against the wall. For the first time in the thirty minutes that we had been here, I took a cleansing breath. Ciro stood to my right still ready to snap at me – to make me feel my own fire.

I looked up, body still leaning into the wall, and found Ciro’s eyes finally calming as well. “Okay.”

He nodded slowly; studying me and feeling my emotions flow through him.

“Okay.” Ciro also took in a quick relaxing breath.

I brushed my fingers over his and then moved to Kallan’s side. I sat next to her talking for so long that I ran out of things to say. I got so desperate that I ending up talking about the idea of spring coming soon. It was pathetic.

A few times I dosed off under the protection of Ciro’s watchful eyes. I jumped awake what seemed like minutes later when the entrance door boomed open.

I shot up and gasped, “Ciro,” out of instinct, and found him opening the door.

“Wait, Ciro! What are you doing? You can't leave us in here.”

“I’m not, Blossom,” his pet name calmed my racing heart.

Waking up from a deep sleep like that was unnerving.

“I’m just trying to see if I can tell who it is that barged in.”

And that’s when we heard the low growl that reached every corner of the house.

Camira’s voice rose above the growl as she tried to calm him.

“You think it’s her mate?”

“I do. But I don’t think he’s in any kind of playful mood.”

I ignored his warning and breathed a sigh of relief.

“Thank the gods! It took him long enough.”

At that, the door was pushed out of Ciro’s fingers, and he cursed under his breath when a big mass rushed passed him. All I saw was black and two globes of fierce golden eyes. I was so shocked at the werewolf’s sudden entrance that I never moved from the bed. I squeezed Kallan’s hand as if to protect her from the threat.

The wolf didn’t stumble or hesitate when he leaped onto Kallan’s bed. He positioned himself precisely over her still form and his snout wrinkled in a menacing aggression towards me.

I swallowed my own breath harshly, and stared back into his golden irises. They were so hypnotizing. It was the worst thing I could have done. The firm eye contact made the wolf vocalize his dominance.

“Kaia,” came the throaty voice of my mate. “Kaia, move off the bed. Get away.” There was movement while Ciro talked. “Slowly; don’t give him your eyes.”

“But Kallan.” When I spoke my sister’s name the tension in the room intensified. I had unintentionally looked up into his deadly eyes again. The black dog’s roar cracked through the air and I scrambled to move away.

“Kaia, get over here. And please don’t challenge him like that again.”

The hostility around us subsided drastically when I was no longer near the bed. The wolf huffed out a final warning, his teeth clicking together, and then his hot breath puffed along Kallan’s neck like she was his territory. I was never a threat, but what he thought was one evaporated. He now gave his attention to Kallan.

I stood against the wall, watching from a distance. It was the only protection I could give my sister who lay under the mercy of a giant, territorial wolf.

After many moments of tense silence, most of it fed by the obsidian beta, he made the bed squeak as he flopped down next to Kallan. We both watched as his nose pushed at her hand so that it lay limp over his muzzle, pale skin almost brightly standing out against his jet fur. My eyes grew wide when I watched as Kallan’s body shifted closer to the wolf, and for once, after so many rainy months, seemed to settle into a quiet comfort.

“Ciro, maybe one of us should stay...just in case.” I tried to voice my worry and how uncomfortable I was leaving my sister with a wolf that thought he could just barge in.

“Blossom, do you see any threat at all in this room right now? The wolf has obviously come from far away to save her, and he may be her mate.” There was a long pause as Ciro felt my worries and anxiety rush though him. “Just leave them alone for a few hours, and when either of them wakes up we can talk. I know all of us have questions.”

I turned my full attention on the resting pair, and the wolf answered with a warning rumble in his chest. Even in sleep he responded to threats towards his mate.

I sighed, knowing Kallan was safer with him than she ever was with any of her sisters close by. I nodded my response to Ciro and pulled him towards the door.

All we could do was wait.

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