This is it everyone. I am pretty emotional about the finale. I know that's kind of crazy, but these two have been my favorite pair I've ever written. So please join me while we end the tale of Dan and Rowe.
The Songs Used For The Wedding Scenes:
(Getting Ready) The Middle East - Blood
(The Ceremony) To Build A Home (feat. Patrick Watson) - The Cinematic Orchestra
If you have not read Part 1, please do so here:
Also, do not forget about the giveaway in celebration of the ending. You can enter here:
Another fun addition:
I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for riding out this journey with me. It has been a lot of fun and you guys are the best. Look forward to the next vampire tale soon.
~Lots of love~
DAN AND ROWE: THE FINALE PART 2
Back at the compound, Dan screamed and fell to his knees in his bedroom. He felt Rowe, felt everything done to his body, felt the rage coursing through his mate. It hurt so badly, but he could feel Rowe fighting it. Dan scratched his nails against the floor, his teeth clamped together with a growl. He pushed his strength into Rowe. He didn’t know what was he was doing or how, but that didn’t stop him in the least.
Tethered to his mate as if he were there, Dan saw what Rowe saw. “Get up! Get the fuck up,” Dan roared. Tears rolled down his face. The enemy right in front of Rowe with a gun pointed to his head. “Get up!” Dan threw his head back with a growl. He threw everything that he was at Rowe like a bolt of lightning.
His mate’s eyes stared back—red mixed with violet, a predator that would not be taken down. A mate with a debt to settle, Rowe struggled to his knees. He was filled with Dan’s strength, his love. “Yes,” Dan’s voice boomed. “Yes!”
A blade swept out, slicing the gunman at the ankles. Rowe kicked out, sending another assassin flying into a tree before pouncing on the gunman—teeth sinking deep into his throat.
Pulled out as if someone had grabbed him, Dan came back to their rooms with a gasp. He was shaking, sweating, scared shitless. He was about to get up, trying his best to wipe the sweat off his palms and plant his feet on the floor, when the door burst open and Chloe appeared.
“I don’t have time to ask if you’re okay.” She took a deep breath. “You have to come with me, now!”
“Oh God, what is it?” Dan shook from head to toe. “Rowe was just…”
“We don’t have time for that. Hill just took to the floor and Nina is screaming bloody murder. She threw Theo into a wall and won’t even let Maggie near her. You have to talk to her, damn it!”
“What is her problem? What the fuck is wrong with Hill!” Dan stood. More like he was yanked up by Chloe.
“Her problem?” Chloe shook her head, dragging him along. “Is that she’s in labor.”
Dan raced along with Chloe. He hadn’t even thought about Nina, the time that would eventually come. But did it have to be right now! Upstairs in a flash, he yanked his wrist from Chloe’s grasp and took a deep breath for air. Adrenaline still coursed through his body, juice he didn’t know what to do with.
Guards huddled away from the door. Little Prince barked and growled in the hallway. Suarta paced back and forth while the twins watched her with amusement. Glass broke accompanied by a demonic scream from behind the door. Dan didn’t hesitate for even a second before gunning it for Nina’s rooms.
The guards watched on, better him than them, they shared a look. Unprepared for what he was going into, knowing that Rowe would want him there, Dan pushed open the door and ducked as a metal tray went sailing over his head.
“Don’t touch them!” Nina was pressed against the headboard in a crouch. “They aren’t ready yet!”
“Nina,” Theo pleaded. “It’s time. You know this, I know this, and your mate on the floor knows this.”
“Hill?” She sobbed, scampering to the end of the bed like a demon. Her rage contorted, going limp with a wail and haunting moan. “What have you done to him?”
“You hit him when you were going for Nick. He’s weak as it is. One blow could knock him out for a while.” Suarta’s assistant squeaked when the queen narrowed her eyes.
A contraction took her by storm. Nina doubled over on the bed with a hiss. Her teary eyes spotted Dan. Her arm reached for him. “Make them stop. Please, make them stop this.”
Dan slowly approached the bed, knowing full well he had to calm down. Everyone looked freaked, even Theo who normally kept his cool was shying away from the crazed queen. Dan gulped, swallowing back what had just happened upstairs for the greater good and held his hands up in defense. “Nina, listen to me. Okay?”
“Okay,” she whispered in the fetal position.
“A lot is going on right now. I know you’re scared about the babies and worried about what’s going down in the city, but you have to take a deep breath and relax.” Dan bumped into the bed. He crawled on it like a cat, watching her every move. He had to be very careful. He was obviously the last link she had to sanity. If he fucked this up, the babies could be in for some trouble.
“It’s not time.” She shook her head quickly. Her lip trembled with a sob. “I still have two months.”
“No, you don’t. The babies are coming now and if you don’t let Theo help you, they could be in trouble. Do you want the babies to be in trouble?” He kicked his shoes off, kneeling behind her.
“No,” she sobbed. The queen fit into his spread legs, trying to hide from the others.
“Twins are usually born a bit early. I remember when Jess had the girls. They were almost a month ahead of schedule. Yeah, they were small, but they were okay.” Dan soothed Nina against him, pressing his chest to her back until she started to breathe normally. “You aren’t human either, remember? Theo said you would most likely deliver a few weeks early compared to a human birth. I know you haven’t done this for a while and they didn’t have the same care back then, but Theo knows what he’s talking about. Let him help the babies. Let him take care of you. Hill and Rowe would want you to do this.”
He kissed her damp curls, stroking her hair away from her face, allowing himself to relax as she did. “You ready to do this?”
“I’m scared,” she whispered. Another cramp made her clench against Dan, but he held her tight.
“It’s okay to be scared. Nothing is going to happen though. We’re all here for you. Aren’t we?” Dan looked around the room at the apprehensive crowd. A few nods and mutters replied.
Theo crouched next to Hill. “Hill, it’s time to wake up now.” He gave the vampire a few shakes to the shoulder.
Golden eyes opened slowly. Hill groaned at the bright lights above him. “What…”
Chloe crouched next to Theo. “Hey there, daddy. Your mate is in labor and we need you up here.”
“Labor?” He struggled to sit up. The Guardian gripped the bedding to support himself. “Nina?”
“Hill!” She screamed through her teeth, holding Dan’s hands to either side. “Get your ass up here. Now,” Nina bellowed.
“Shit, shit, Nina!” He snapped to. As weak as he was, his babies were coming. His hand slid over a wet spot on the bed and he shuddered. He had seen blood and other bodily fluids, but whatever this was didn’t suit him at all.
“It’s just from the water breaking. Take a deep breath,” Chloe coached. “And let it go.”
“Yeah, I can do this. Hill slid onto the bed where his mate had her knees up to her chest. He went lightheaded at the view, choking slightly at the back of his throat. What was that, he cocked his head, completely mortified at the sight between her legs.
“Nothing you haven’t seen before, you prick! You did this to me!” Nina grated her teeth with another contraction.
“I’m so sorry,” Hill clenched the covers in his hands, still afraid to go into the land of no return. “I didn’t mean to.”
Chloe urged Hill onto the bed to take Dan’s place. “Nina, let go of Dan. Hill is gonna help you through this. Aren’t you?”
He caught the look from Nina, sending him into a panic. He pushed Dan out of the way. “What do I do?” He pulled Nina between his legs—her sweaty hair now against his chest. “What do I do!”
Nina began a slow moan that turned into another burst of pain. Her hands grabbed Hill’s, cutting off his circulation.
Theo lifted Nina’s gown all the way to survey how far dilated she was. He checked on Hill to make sure he didn’t freak out, but when he saw Hill had his eyes closed, he snapped on his gloves. “Nick, get ready. She’s already crowning.”
“Seriously? Her water just broke.” The nurse couldn’t believe his eyes.
“They are coming. Do you see this,” Nina growled. “They’re fucking coming!”
Having helped his sister with Lamaze before, Dan got to his knees. “Okay, Nina. Take a deep breath and let it go.” Hand gestures attracted her eyes to him. “That’s right. A nice, deep breath, and let it go,” he cooed.
“Ah!” She screamed. Hill’s face went pale, his fingers already losing color.
Chloe shook her head. “She’s not going to listen. Think about this honey.” She maneuvered to the other side, avoiding Theo working below. “Think about that nice margarita you can have afterwards in a bubble bath. A few days sleep with the babies. You can do whatever you want…”
“Margaritas!” Nina shrieked.
Theo had a hard time not laughing below. He could see the first head coming and felt around much to Nina’s hatred. “Yep, we’re almost there, Nina. Nice and easy. Take a deep breath and push as hard as you can.”
“It hurts,” she whined. “Give me drugs. Those human bitches get drugs!”
Dan slapped a hand over his mouth to stifle a laugh—the humor and wonder of this moment calming him to the core. He was about to meet his brothers-in-law. How weird was this? He thought to himself. Rowe, he closed his eyes, I wish you could see this. On second thought, he smiled. It’s probably best you don’t see your mother give birth.
Filled with power and the hole in his lungs long gone, Rowe punched his blade right through an assassin with a smile. “Fuck. You.”
His gun whipped to the male’s forehead, blood splattered against his face with the impact of the bullet into the enemy’s cranium. Down another one, the prince took on yet another. Knox and Blaze kept up with him to the left. Yuri and Micah were working to the right. But Cade and King still had yet to make an appearance.
“I have to get below. This much…” Rowe grunted, kicking out behind him, raining lead on two enemy males. “…security means were close.”
“Found it!” Yuri called. A body flew through the air and landed with a thud down a tree. Micah stood there with a shotgun in his arms and a grin on his face.
“The entrance?” Rowe yelled back.
Yuri gave the prince a thumbs-up. Rowe leapt over a fallen assassin, joining the Russian by a grouping of trees. “What the fuck is this?” He eyed the metal door embedded in the tree trunk.
With a knock to the tree, an echo sounded. “Hollow, bro. They’re fake as fuck. Micah, take this lock out.”
“With pleasure.” Micah grinned wickedly. He pumped the shells from the gun and aimed at the door. It blasted off with a loud bang and a little smoke.
Amidst all the fighting around them, a subtle flicker warmed Rowe’s heart and he looked about. It took him a few seconds to realize it was Dan in his head. Something was making his mate emotional, but in a good way. He was filled with joy, love.
“Rowe?” Yuri snapped his fingers. “Uh, bullets and shit, or did you just forget?” He flattened Rowe to a tree, sheltering his prince from an airborne blade whisking past them.
“Something is happening at home,” Rowe grunted, shucking Yuri off of him.
“Good or bad?” Knox gasped, wiping blood from his face.
“Good.” Rowe nodded.
“Well we don’t have time for a chat!” Yuri swung the door open. “The secret lair awaits boys.”
Even though he wanted to find out what was happening in his head, the prince stepped closer to the door. He inhaled the musty stairwell, a lingering cleanser scent, and… “He’s here.”
“Who?” Yuri peered down the stairs.
“Anton.” Rowe’s fangs itched for the Royal’s death.
“Well, let’s take him down then.” A familiar voice made them all turn. They hadn’t noticed the silence of Knox and Blaze, the silence of the woods suddenly. No gunfire, no clinking of metal, or dying breaths.
Standing in the middle of the ground littered with enemy bodies were Cade and King. Behind them were a large group of familiar faces—men from the compound, not just guards, but Royals.
Rowe was stunned. These were the men that had stayed back in the last battle with Thomas, acted like it was above their station to pick up arms and fight for what was theirs. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “Where did they come from?”
“We’re sorry, my lord.” One bowed. A regal, stately male who had been quite the warrior back in the day was now bowing before him. The rest followed suit, lowering their heads and weapons in respect. “We would have been here sooner, but we debated about leaving the compound while the queen was…screaming.”
“What! Screaming and you left her!”
“Your mate told us to go. That you needed us, and we needed to…step up to the plate. He said…” The Royal cleared his throat. “He said he loves you and to make it quick. Your brothers are waiting to meet you.”
“My brothers are here, you fool. Why would Daniel send you here when…” Rowe caught the Royals smiling, their eyes happy with emotion. “My brothers?”
“Two healthy males, your highness. They are beautiful.”
“Brothers,” Rowe repeated. “I have brothers.”
“Not to be an asshole or anything. But if you could continue the heartfelt crap later, that would be great.” Knox raised his brows. He didn’t want to talk about babies or beautiful anything. He wanted to lay the smack down upon Anton and his cranked out guards. “Congrats, I guess.”
Shaking off the emotion that begged to come out, Rowe straightened. He looked out at the Royals who his mate had sent as back-up with pride. He couldn’t imagine the speech Dan had given to bring these males here, but whatever he said, Rowe loved him that much more for it. When he got home, oh yes when he got home…
Fueled with good news and a craving for his mate’s body, Rowe growled with a smile. “Alright, let’s do this.”
Yuri went first down the stairs. Beams of light bounced around the concrete walls from their flashlights. Water dripped from the ceiling, slicking the railing under their hands.
“This is a lab?” Yuri snorted. “More like some backwoods meth operation.”
A Royal pushed past them, determination in his eyes. “While your jokes are humorous, we have a job to do.”
“Well, excuse the fuck out of me.” Yuri made a face.
The other Royals followed the first, going before their prince into the darkness—shielding him from whatever was behind those doors. “Human blood,” one whispered. “A lot of it.”
“What is that other smell?” A Royal stopped and sniffed the air.
Rowe smelled the almost charcoal like scent rolling their way, combined with a sweet tang of human blood. “Rush.”
“This is it.” Cade nodded. “Get to either side of the door.” He waved the Royals to get ready. “Knox, you and Blaze man the stairwell, I have a feeling this is the only way out. If someone decides to close it topside, we’re fucked.”
“Roger that,” Knox replied. He and Blaze took up residence on the first stairwell platform and aimed their weapons.
“Ready?” Rowe whispered to his men. Dozens of eyes in agreement, he nodded. “Open it.”
The locks were shot off, the keypad blown to kingdom come, and they filled the brand new lab behind the scummy doors. Pushing through, Rowe came to a stop. In the middle of the room, three boys were laid out on metal tables. On the other side, Anton and his men smiled, their weapons pointed at the Royals. Anton wasn’t as concerned with them. His weapon was pointed at Jacob’s head.
“If you come any closer, I’ll take them all out, right in front of you.” Thierry’s mate licked his lips. “Not that I would mind. His blood is so sweet I wouldn’t mind being covered in it.”
Loud growls and shaking metal caught Rowe’s attention. Covered in red, a group of vampires were enclosed in a cell in the wall. They were hungry, almost starved, and looking to feed. “What are you doing, Anton!”
“I had to make them do as I asked, you see. My lab rats were full of ethics and morals in the beginning. They refused to do the work, said they would rather die than make our serum. They changed their tune once they were turned.” Anton ran his hand over Jacob’s barely breathing chest. “Give them a little drink and they crave it. When you are the holder of said drink, you control them completely.”
“You are a monster!” Rowe raged. “A fucking piece of shit! Let them go, now!”
“The humans or the vampires?” Anton laughed. “You can’t have both. That would be greedy.”
“You’re dead.” Micah stepped forward. “You are so dead.”
“I don’t think so. Adam, call Thierry.” Anton flicked his hand to the guard nearest him. “Tell my sweet we need a ride.”
“You think you’re just going to walk out of here?” Rowe laughed. “You are crazy.”
“Hmm, we’ll see about that. Make the call, Adam.”
Just as Adam reached for the phone on the wall, it exploded—bits of concrete pebbled to the floor from a hole in the wall. Micah lowered his gun. “Yeah, we will see about that.”
Anton smiled. “Now that was just rude. You made such a mess. Oh well…” He nodded to the cage where an enemy waited stoically. “Guess it was going to get dirty anyways.”
The assassin at the cage pressed a button and a hiss filled the domed room. Over a dozen new turns poured out of the cage, headed for the humans. Rowe realized the distraction being created. He threw himself in front of the first human boy.
“Cade!” He roared. “Don’t kill them! He wants us to kill them!” He kicked a newly turned vampire in the chest, using his limbs instead of weapons. “Anton is mine!”
The prince’s men broke into two. One half trying to hold back the new turns and guard the humans, the other half going after Anton’s men who were trying to get the traitor to the stairwell. Knox flicked his eyes down, seeing Anton gunning it through a tangle of bodies in battle. He squared his shoulders, lifted his gun and pointed it into light brown eyes.
“Why hello there.” Anton grinned. He kicked off the wall. The first bullet from Knox’s gun embedded into the concrete instead of his face.
“Hello indeed,” Rowe replied from behind. “Just an FYI, this my city, and nobody fucks with my people.”
He whipped Anton around, punched him in the face until his back hit the railing. A roar from his lips and the crack of bone underneath him made Rowe smile—the enemy’s back bending over the metal like a towel out to dry. He raised his sword.
“I think it’s time we sent your mate a message. Don’t you?” Rowe hissed, the sword piercing Anton’s chest.
The physical pain was nothing compared to the pain Anton felt in his heart. He could feel Thierry on the other side. He could hear his screams of agony in his head. He could feel the love his mate felt for him, the madness that encompassed his other half as Thierry felt him die. With a tear slipping from Anton’s eye, his dying gaze fell upon Rowe, even if his last words weren’t meant for the prince.
“I love you, Thierry. Always…love you…” Blood leaked from his mouth and his arms went limp.
Rowe took a step back. The battle in the lab tuned out, he stared at Anton’s lifeless eyes. He couldn’t shake the emotion he had just felt from the other man. He couldn’t help the twinge of guilt that weaseled its way into his chest. Despite the monster that Anton was, he had really loved his mate—Thierry. Rowe couldn’t imagine feeling Dan die like that. Shaking his head of the image, Rowe wondered why he was still standing there.
“That was quick,” Knox commented down the stairs. “A little too quick actually.”
“Yeah, something isn’t right.” Rowe looked around. He knew Thierry was still home. They’d had eyes on him all day. It couldn’t be Anton’s mate waiting for them, so then why did Rowe feel a nagging sensation in the back of his head.
Cade pushed another vampire off his chest, trying to wrangle him into the cage. It was like herding sheep while bullets were flying at you—damn near impossible and Anton knew it. Where was that son of a bitch anyway? Pushing with all his strength, he sent the new turn flying into the cell—their back hitting the concrete hard enough to give them pause.
“One more!” Micah held up the wall blocking the assassins from getting through the lab doors. One of the tables holding a human had been turned on its side—the boy left limp on the ground, the last lab rat crawled to him. “Get the kid, Yuri!”
Cade held the bar down to the cage until Yuri could snatch the last new turn. His eyes flicked around, a familiar feeling taking hold of him. His eyes were forced to look up. Whispers urged his gaze from point to point around the ceiling. Little red dots blinked furiously under each light fixture, not the kind for security purposes either.
“Micah, there’s explosives!” Cade shouted and Micah gave him a penetrating stare. They were all busy. Cade held the cage closed to keep the humans safe. Yuri was shielding the human boys behind a table, firing back at the enemy opposite him. Micah and King were double teaming the guards that were trying to get past them. The Royals were taking down the assassins one by one. Anton had done this on purpose. He’d rigged this from the beginning. Should any of the queen’s guard find this place, he could blow them all up and run.
Rowe stared down at Anton’s body. He heard Cade shout explosives from the open doors. His hands found Anton’s blinking phone in his coat pocket. A countdown of less than two minutes was on a roll. He turned the screen to Knox.
“Let’s grab the humans and go. We don’t have time to try and grab the lab staff.” Knox made for the door.
“They’re our responsibility!” Rowe roared. “We will save them too!”
“Humans first,” Knox countered before blending into the dying battle. “Get the boys out of here, Yuri. This place is gonna blow!”
“Fuck,” Yuri spat. He eyed the three boys that he wasn’t sure were going to make it. None of them were conscious, they’d lost so much blood, been starved. They were barely a shell of a real being, but he knew these kids were important to Rowe, to their race. Saving these boys would inspire the Royals who had showed up to live for the cause, to keep the humans safe once more. “Damn it, you lot are trying to soften me up! Micah, cover me.”
While Micah sprayed lead above them. Yuri tossed one boy across his shoulders and grabbed the other two under each arm. “I’m moving.”
“I hear you.” Micah flicked his hand. His guards formed a wall to the door, protecting the boys from harm.
Rowe watched Cade struggle to keep the cage shut. He suddenly had an idea. “Knox, take your boys up stairs! Catch them when they come out.”
“What!” Knox dug his blade deep into his opponent’s throat and flicked his long bangs back. He caught on real quick as Rowe pulled the bar out from under Cade. The new turns would follow the scent of the humans. He and his boys would catch them topside. They could save them both. He wanted to smile at Rowe, tell him how smart he was, how proud he was to call the fucker prince, but you didn’t smile at a time like this.
Instead he yelled at his crew, letting the other Royals handle the dozen assassins left to their forty. Knox, with Blaze hot on his heels, ran up the stairwell—past Anton’s dead body and into the fresh night air. They had less than a minute now. With Yuri dragging the humans to the gazebo across the way, Knox had his boys form a circle around the door and waited for an epic game of catch.
The new turns tore through the lab and up the stairs so fast, Knox gasped at the sight of them.
“Leave them! Get out and seal the door!” Rowe kicked an assassin back, cranking one’s neck in the process. “I said get the fuck out!”
His Guardians and Royal warriors obeyed, letting him end the party with his gun pointed at the enemy leftovers. “You can all rot in your own destruction. No one fucks with me.” He shot the assassin nearest him in the head. Cade and Micah slammed the lab doors shut and barred them with Rowe’s rifle.
Anton’s phone read twenty seconds. Boots pounded up the stairs, the sounds of hand after hand hitting the swinging metal door above made Rowe’s heart race. He was the last one to leave, the last one to glance at Anton’s body and those eyes that he would never forget.
“Rowe, come one!” Cade shouted, grabbing his arm to pull him through the door. The second the metal slapped closed behind him, he was rushed away from the woods, through the garden and then it happened—a slow rumble beneath them before a loud blast made them all dive for cover.
Oliver and Tate stood at the gates to the parking lot. They crossed their arms with twin grins. Big white vans and a few borrowed federal vehicles surrounded them. Guards dressed in hazmat suits wandered the lawn, going back around the building while guards in black suits with federal badges waited with them. Police cars, fire, and rescue pulled into the lot of the Botanical Gardens, but when they got out of their cars, they were forced back.
“I’m sorry,” David, the Long Island manager, told the police officer who approached first. “This is a federal matter. We’ve got a major gas leak and the area is contaminated. We’re going to have ask you to evacuate the area.”
“Feds? We didn’t get a call about no feds coming!” The lieutenant steamed. “Always with the fucking feds coming in here and taking our turf!”
“Sir, Pritchett is it?” David pulled his glasses off. “I think you being rather disrespectful.” His eyes swirled and Pritchett went still. “I think it’s time you all went back to work elsewhere. Don’t you?”
Pritchett nodded. “Yeah, sounds good.”
“You take care of all this.” The manager waved at the cops arriving. “We’ll be in touch.”
“Sure, yeah. I’ll do that.” Pritchett turned around with hazy eyes and began making his rounds. After many, many angry looks and a few fingers, the NYPD took off.
David turned to Oliver and Tate. “Well, how bad is it this time?”
“The entire rose garden is gone. There’s a gaping hole in the ground and enough vamp blood to create a small pond. I’d say pretty dirty.”
Tate shrugged. “Guess we better get to cleaning then.”
Oliver smiled. “You’re right baby. Boys!” He called. From behind the vans, two cement trucks began to back up to the giant hole where the garden had been.
As the others made their way back to the compound, Yuri hauled ass to Montefiore, the closest emergency room he could think of. The kids in the back looked half dead and he knew they didn’t have much time. The guards wrapped them in blankets, tried giving them water, but they were out cold.
“Still have a pulse back there?” Yuri slammed on his brakes for another asshole who didn’t know how to drive. “Come the fuck on!”
The driver gave him a finger and he snarled. He wrenched open his door at the man taking his sweet turn at the blinking red light and went to the window. He pounded on it. The driver was a middle aged man with an attitude problem. He promptly rolled down his window with a roll of his eyes.
“Look asshole, I don’t know what…” He was cut off with a hand to his throat.
“Move. The fuck. Out of my way.” Yuri’s eyes swirled.
The man went slack when Yuri moved his hand and kicked the car door. “Now!”
The car roared into the other lane, forgetting that he had to turn and went straight instead. Other cars honked around him and Yuri threw his hands up. “Welcome to New York, mother fuckers! That is how it’s done!”
He received a thumbs up from the boys in the car next to them, a flash of a smile from some blonde across the way, but he ignored them, got back into the vehicle and turned on barely two wheels.
“Yeah,” one guard muttered in shock. “We still got a pulse a piece back here.”
The two guards shared a look of what the hell before Yuri slammed the brakes again. The emergency door was a few yards away. He turned to the back seat. “Leave em by the door and I’ll honk the horn.”
The guards picked up the boys. One by one they laid them in their blankets on the street. A nurse on a smoke break frowned and waved her hand, throwing her cig to the wind. “What ya got?”
The guards froze and looked up as the last boy was put on the ground. “Found em in an alley. They were barely breathing,” one guard spoke up, wiping his face to signal the other. The other one licked his fingers and wiped off the blood from his cheek.
“Shit.” She looked down. “I think I’ve seen that kid somewhere.” She studied for only a second before running to the doors.
When she returned with the doctor and a crew of stretchers, the men and their vehicle was gone. Jacob and his best friends were admitted, identified, and their families were called. It wouldn’t be until later that night that the three men who had brought them in would be called angels by the media. The boys had no clue to where they had been or who saved them. To them it was a miracle and to Yuri and his boys, they were just doing their job.
Thierry threw his head back with a window shattering roar. He picked up his desk with his self-inflicted bloodied arms and threw it into the wall. Tattered remnants of his clothes flapped around his body. His computer sailed through the broken window. His heart was gone. His mate was dead. His lab was nothing more than a sunken hole.
“Anton,” Thierry screamed to his knees.
He would rip this entire building apart. Burn it down before he stormed that compound and ripped Rowe’s throat out with his very fingers, fed on his blood until he burst from it. He would kill them all.
The man with the fedora opened the door behind Thierry. He watched the carpet shred between the dark skinned vampire’s fingers. He watched Thierry crawl along the floor to the window and plant his hands on broken glass. He waited until Thierry’s now red eyes turned to him in a rage.
“Get out!” The scream was so loud, it vibrated through the man’s body, but still he was unmoving. “Are you deaf!”
The man slowly brought his arm up from behind his back and aimed the Desert Eagle Hand Canon at Thierry. “My job here is finished.”
“Your what!” Thierry lunged in a rage.
“Goodbye, Thierry.” The man pulled the trigger.
Thierry’s red eyes followed the bullet all the way to his face in slow motion, leaving him cross eyed, or well, what was left of his eyes were crossed. A giant hole made up the middle of his face and smoke poured from the wound. Making sure his gloves were secured, the man walked to Thierry and twisted his neck right off his shoulders. He slowly and ceremoniously set the head on the window sill, letting the tiny clacking braids sway down the wall.
“Much better,” he whispered. The man pulled his gloves off carefully, set them on the window sill like an offering and dialed a number on his phone.
“Yasha?” He asked.
“Did you find him?” The other end replied.
“I have all the information we need. Thierry will not be a problem any longer, for us or them. We leave no traces of the boy to chance.”
“Have you cleared all of Grenier’s information from their databases?”
“Yes. I cleaned his apartment out too. The Cartel left his things behind as well as a few of the boy’s.”
Silence relaxed between them. “You have some of his things?”
The man buttoned his coat with one hand. “Mm hmm, there is a picture as well.”
“A picture…” Yasha breathed in interest.
“I’m certain it’s older, but it is the boy. He looks like Ofira, but...has your eyes.”
“Come home now, Ker,” Yasha replied, keeping his emotions in check. His eyes? He was overcome with guilt.
“But there is one more thing that might interest you.”
“What is it now?”
“It seems Henri has been here and if the source I spoke to is correct, he has Gabriel.”
Yasha growled into the phone. “Henri has my son! That slippery asshole has my blood!”
“Yasha, Henri didn’t take him. He went willingly.”
“What!” Yasha roared. “Get home at once, Ker. Forget the other traitors. Our plans have changed.”
“But of course,” Kerobos replied calmly. He ended the call and gently shut the door to Thierry’s office behind him.
Enemy guards lined the halls, waiting for news of their boss’s meltdown. They were terrified, even for vampires.
“Did he shoot you?” One rose from his chair. “I thought I heard a gun.”
“He tried,” Kerobos stated with a shrug as he walked past them. “He is in mourning. Leave him be for a little while.”
“Where are you going?”
“Out.” Kerobos pulled the neck of his coat up high over his tattoo with a smile. “Keep an eye on things, will you?”
“Yes, sir.” They settled back into their posts, unknowing of the Royal snake among them.
“Because I’m not coming back,” Kerobos whispered to himself. “For a while that is.” He smiled and went out to his car. He had a plane to catch.
Nina was passed out cold. Hill lay next to her completely drained of all his energy. The two were in a lock of arms and legs with a thick cover laid over them. In a chair across the way, Dan held newborn Axel in his arms. Wisps of hair so blonde, they were always clear, were soft to his touch. Eyes the color of winter skies fluttered closed. Dan bent, pressed a kiss to Axel’s forehead with love. He hadn’t stopped crying for over two hours.
Now they were silent tears. He could feel Rowe coming to him, knew he was healthy and alive. Holding Rowe’s little brother didn’t help either. Axel was so soft and warm, smelled so wonderful that Dan could barely stand it. He was a mess of emotion all around.
A small cry interrupted his blissful moment. He looked over to where Chloe was half passed out with Axel’s twin brother Gage against her chest. She sputtered awake, made a face that only a mother could for the newborn, and sighed.
“Time to wake up your mama, huh?” She cooed to Gage. “I think someone’s hungry.”
On cue, Axel wrinkled his face and started to cry. “Think your right.” Dan yawned. “We could just feed them you know?”
“No, they need their mother right now. Even if she can’t literally feed them for a more days, it’s about the bond, D.” Nick let out a yawn of his own from across the room. He got up and went to make some bottles.
Hill sat straight up in bed, looked around in a panic at the sound of tiny cries, before clutching his chest to breathe. “Bring em here.”
Dan got up and handed Axel off to his father. He noted the soft look of wonder Hill got every time he now saw the babies up close or even thought about them for that matter. He would sigh, with a smile, and you just knew how much he loved them already.
“Nina?” Hill used his free hand to caress his mate out of her slumber.
She opened an eye, found the baby in Hill’s arms, and smiled. “Hi there papa.”
“Hey there mama,” he replied, bending to kiss her.
Chloe and Dan shared a look. They had never seen Hill so relaxed, so smiley, or gentle. It was weird. With a shrug, Chloe handed Gage, who was now screaming, off to Nina. The little family lost their surroundings, nestled in the bed, just the four of them. Chloe reached for Dan’s hand, nudging her head in the direction of the door.
As soon as they turned around, Dan had a moment to feel Rowe very, very near before the door opened. He let out a cry of his own and flew into Rowe’s opened arms. Freshly showered before leaving the city, Rowe smelled like cinnamon and home. No blood or Rush, no traces of explosion lingered on his body. He had insisted they stop at one of the safe houses to clean up before returning home. He hadn’t wanted for Dan to have a heart attack at the sight and he wanted to hold his…brothers.
“You’re okay,” Dan sobbed. “I knew you were, but I…”
“I know, pet.” Rowe tipped Dan’s head back with a toe curling kiss right in front of his mother. “I know,” he breathed over his mate’s lips. “We did it, love. We really did it.” Joy consumed Rowe. Bliss and love took hold as he looked over Dan’s shoulder. “Is that…”
“Come here, Rowen.” Nina smiled as Nick prepared a bottle for each of the parents.
Theo had thought it a better idea for Nina to save her strength for a few days until it was alright to feed the babies herself. The twins had taken a lot out of her and although she had healed from the delivery, the energy would take some time. Nick handed the bottles to Hill and Nina before waving his way to the door.
He stopped before he walked into the hall. “Be sure to thank, Theo. Done passed out by now, but…” Nick looked at Rowe. “He was a rock star tonight.”
Rowe grinned. “I’ll do that, and Nick?”
“Thanks.” Rowe nodded.
Nick blushed a little with a polite wave. “Don’t thank me, if Dan hadn’t talked your mother down from the ledge, those kids would have been in for it. He and Theo are the stars, not me.” Winking at Dan, Nick shut the door behind him.
“A ledge?” Rowe paled. “She didn’t.”
“He meant that figuratively, baby.” Dan threaded his fingers with his mate’s, needing to touch him anywhere he could. “She was a little hysterical in the beginning, but she isn’t now, and everything is just fine. You’re here.” Dan’s voice cracked. “The babies are fine, everyone is okay.”
Leading Rowe to the bed, Dan melted at the look on his mate’s face—endeared, confused, but completely enamored. “That one there is, Gage.” Dan pointed to the one with darker blonde hair in Nina’s arms. “He looks like Hill I think. You should see his eyes, they’re gorgeous.”
Hill snorted. “Why thank you.”
Dan sniffled through his dying tears and smiled back with a shake of his head.
Rowe crawled onto the bed, kicking his shoes off behind him. “Mother?” His heart beat so fast in his chest he didn’t know what to call the emotion he was feeling.
“I’m okay, darling. Really I am. How could I not be?” She looked down into Gage’s sharp golden eyes. “Isn’t he beautiful?”
Rowe didn’t realize he was crying until Nina wiped his eyes with her free hand. “Yeah, he is.”
Dan snuggled into his back, resting chin to shoulder. "You should hold Axel. He looks like you.” Dan bit his lip then rolled his eyes. “And Gage is such a mama’s boy.”
“That’s the truth.” Chloe snorted. “I’m out of here guys. I take it my man is home?” You could tell she was trying to be reserved, but inside she was dying to run to King.
“Downstairs and already looking for you.” Rowe smiled at her. “Thank you, Chloe, for everything.”
She took in how sincere Rowe was, how overwhelmed the poor guy looked. She hugged him tight. “You’ll get used to being a brother in no time. Congratulations honey.”
She was gone before he could speak and Hill was putting Axel in his arms—a warm little person that fit perfectly in the crook of his elbow. Immediately he was in love. “I don’t even know you,” Rowe argued out loud. “How do I already…”
“Love him so much?” Hill beamed. “I have no fucking clue, but you just do.”
“Hi baby,” Dan cooed, reaching around to hold the bottle to Axel’s lips.
Rowe turned his head, saw the look on his pet’s face and became very hard. Dan stilled behind his mate, scenting an explosion of cinnamon up his nose. Nina and Hill shared a look before settling back on the couple before them with a baby in their arms. Hill knew what Rowe saw, he couldn’t blame the guy in the least. Your mate with a newborn could do things to a man.
“Mother,” Rowe growled. He flicked his eyes to Axel as he was gently pulled back to his mother’s chest—a baby in each arm as Hill snuggled in close. She winked and Hill laughed. Dan still had no clue.
“What’s going on?” He looked between the three of them. He couldn’t read past Rowe’s lust for him, which he loved, but was confused by at the moment. Sure he wanted his mate, had all night, but why all the sudden?
He was about to find out though. Rowe threw his mate over his shoulder, listening to Dan shriek all the way to the door. “We’ll come back tomorrow.” Rowe cleared his throat. “To visit the babies.”
“What the hell, Rowe? Put me down.” Dan slapped a hand to Rowe’s ass. “Don’t you want to see them now? You just got here!”
“We’ll see you tomorrow darling.” She picked up a tiny hand from each baby and waved goodbye to their big brother with a giggle.
Dan was pushed into the wall, his shirt torn from his chest with a shudder. “Rowe!”
The prince was mindless to anything else, but the sex running through his veins. Fangs dropped dangerously, eyes swirling madly, and the image of Dan with Axel in his arms drove him crazy.
“Rowen!” Dan’s cry turned into a moan as he was hoisted up the wall. His drawstring pants were pulled down over his ass, ripped down the middle until Rowe’s hand roughly pulled his ass cheeks apart.
Naked as the day he was born, Dan growled into Rowe’s ear. He was finally privy to the images running through Rowe’s head. The twins had affected him to the point of insanity—Dan holding Axel had brought forth a maternal flair in his mate, a possession that most males always carried with them. Never wanting children in his life, Dan was a little taken a back, but Rowe’s need lit him up from the inside.
“You know I can’t get…” he growled.
Rowe groaned as his own shirt was torn from the bottom of his back between Dan’s fingers. “Don’t fucking care, gonna try. Need you so much.”
“Take me,” Dan gasped between his fangs. “Ah fucking take me.”
With a mighty roar, Rowe clutched Dan to him, brought them to the chair in the corner. He threw Dan down, hauling his ass into the air so he could taste. Belt whipped off, pants discarded somewhere else, Rowe bent to Dan’s ass. His tongue licked up the sweet skin along Dan’s backside until he came to the place he craved the most.
Dan arched, clutched the back of the chair—stuffing popped out from under his fingers. “Don’t care about that, need you now!”
Rowe continued to go at Dan like a hungry man, holding those legs in his vice-like hands. It wasn’t until Dan was indecipherable, stark raving mad with need, that Rowe licked up Dan’s back and pushed his way inside. They came together with a groan, a none-too-gentle thrust until Rowe bottomed out.
“Fuck me,” Dan bit into the back of the chair with a snarl. This side of Rowe was intoxicating. The beast within suddenly craving everything Rowe subconsciously wanted.
Covering Dan completely, Rowe gave his pet all that he was. He held back the tears, spoke with his heart, and slammed into his mate over and over. “Whatever you like, my little diva,” Rowe growled. “Mine.” He sank his fangs into Dan’s shoulder.
Dan came off the chair with a scream of Rowe’s name. Forever and always he lived to call for his mate. Amidst the carnal pleasure, the love he felt from Rowe, a small sliver of something else brewed in his heart. People changed right? That meant ideals changed as well—things he thought he didn’t want because he thought he’d never have the chance. Dan melted into his mate, letting Rowe take him over the edge and again, and again. All night long.
Three weeks later, Dan was staring at himself in the mirror. Not because his hair looked amazing with the brushed in wave, or because he knew it would stay that way, but because he couldn’t stop trying to reassure himself with his eyes to calm his nerves. Jess walked into the bathroom with a shy smile. A long silvery gown fit to her body like a second skin. A white rose tipped in silver was pinned into her long curled hair. She was truly beautiful and Dan almost burst into tears.
“You should be getting married, not me. Look at you, Jess. You’re gorgeous.”
His sister did a small twirl—the gown glittering in the light. “Maybe one day, but tonight you are getting married.” She sighed, meeting him at the mirror. “Here, your tie is wonky.”
Her face of concentration made him laugh—tongue poking out of her mouth, eyes determined. She almost screeched when two little girls came running into the bathroom.
“What did I tell you both about running inside?” She put a hand on her hip.
“Sorry, mommy,” they replied.
Hannah and Emma were wearing matching dresses with full silver skirts and little crowns made of white roses. Chloe almost tripped over her dress into the bathroom, a look of murder for the twins.
“Maggie is on her way up. She says the show is about to start and you two are supposed to come with me.” Chloe looked to the twins who giggled, playing with their skirts. “Come on,” she pressed, but finally looked at Dan.
“Oh wow, Dan.” Chloe covered her mouth. “You look amazing.”
He blushed, his nerves creeping back to the front of his mind. “You think he’ll like it?”
His hands brushed down his snow white tux. His eyes looked up unsure.
“Are you crazy?” Jess turned his chin to her. “Five dollars says he starts crying.”
Dan snorted. “I hope not. Then I’ll start crying and we’ll never get anywhere.”
Jess palmed either side of her brother’s face and kissed his forehead. “You look incredible and I am so happy for you, Danny. When it’s time to go out there, just look at him, only him. You’ll forget why you were so nervous in the first place.” She thumbed a tear from Dan’s cheek. “More than anyone in the entire world, you deserve a happy ending. I love you, baby brother.” She pulled him into her arms and squeezed.
Chloe was on the settee with a twin to either side. Hannah handed her a Kleenex and leaned over to look at her twin. Emma covered her mouth with a giggle.
“I want to get married too.” Chloe looked between the twins. “Why hasn’t King asked me to marry him?” Having watched too much television and with all the dust settling, she longed for the romance that King lacked. He actually was romantic, just not the kind she wanted.
“I’m being silly. How is he supposed to know if I don’t tell him?” She wiped her eyes.
“It’s gonna be okay, Aunt Chloe.” Emma patted her arm.
“Yeah, have some of this stuff. Mommy likes it a lot.” Hannah handed her a half consumed glass of champagne from the table.
“Hannah!” Jess pointed a finger to her daughter.
Dan laughed it off, wiping his eyes while taking a step back. “You better get going. Maggie will be here soon right?”
“Yeah, you’re alright though?” Jess leaned in. “You know you look better than chocolate cake and Rowe is gonna eat you alive, right?” She laughed when he swatted her away playfully.
Dan beamed at his sister. “Get out of here.”
With one last kiss to his cheek, Jess snapped her fingers and pointed to the door. The girls grabbed Chloe’s hands and led her out the door. “Bye, D!”
“Bye Uncle Dan!” The twins smiled. God, they were cute in their little dresses and they knew it too. He blew them a kiss and they ran out of the bathroom in a fit of giggles.
Dan took a deep breath once they were gone. He walked into the bedroom that was filled with roses—every one of them from Rowe. In reflection, with his fingers running over the soft petals, he thought of the journey that had led them here. He smiled when he remembered the first time he had ever seen Rowe.
Cade’s ex Damon had tried to kidnap him for the assassins, not like he knew it at the time, but he’d escaped and ran to Cade’s house. He’d burst in the door, a complete mess, freaked out and unstable. Only to walk into a dining room full of vampires. Dan smiled wider, he’d had no idea about their big secret, but he could remember Rowe sitting there all suave with his leg crossed over the other. He’d felt it back then too.
There had been a moment when their eyes locked and somewhere deep inside. Dan fell in love at first sight. From then on, he lived to fight with Rowe. The arguing, the name calling, the heated looks—he had loved every second of it and only a man like Rowe could have loved it back. A tear escaped him and he brushed it aside.
He could remember when Rowe thought he was sound asleep. Every night he would come to Dan’s room while they had stayed at the Wharf. Rowe would crawl into his bed and stroke his hair, hum to him to show how much he cared. Even if he would have never admitted it out loud back then.
He remembered that night that Rowe had left to go fight Thomas. Dan had thought his future mate would never come back. His one regret in his entire life, and he meant every minute he had ever known, was that he didn’t go to Rowe that night. He had wanted to so badly, but he had been scared, walled in his own head. If he had gone to Rowe, he’d have known this kind of love sooner. The amazing, powerful kind of love that only existed in fairy tales was his to keep forever.
Dan sat at the window and watched the chairs fill in the back gardens—hundreds of guests here to watch him wed the love of his life. He leaned against the wall. The moon was high in the night sky. A canopy of small white lights covered the gardens. It was all so beautiful, but it suddenly clicked with Dan, what Rowe had felt all along. Despite the traditions of a normal wedding, they didn’t need stuff to tell each other how much they were loved. They just wanted each other. No black or white cards, no roses were needed. All he needed was Rowe.
The urgency to be by Rowe’s side, feel his hands, see his eyes was strong. Maybe this was what they called wedding jitters, Dan mused, this feeling that he needed to take Rowe and escape all the watchful eyes. To just be with each other as they were meant to be from the beginning. His hands were sweaty. His heart started to race.
Like a breath of fresh air, Maggie opened the door and smiled. “Hi baby.”
“Mags,” he whispered on the brink of losing it.
She shut the door. A strappy midnight blue gown flowed to the floor. Diamonds dripped from her ears and lit up her eyes. Dan had never seen Maggie look so young in his entire life—she was radiant. His eyes drifted down, seeing she held a shiny mahogany box in her hands as she approached the window.
“How are you holding up?” She sat across from him.
He stared back. This woman, his Mags, had always been like a mother to him. Even Melaina, despite the fact that he had loved Cade’s mom very much, never held a candle to Mags. Now here they sat, getting ready to wed him off like it was a dream.
“I feel like I’m going to cry every other minute,” he admitted. “I just want this to be over with. I want to be with him.” He looked out the window.
She laughed. “You aren’t alone on that, honey.”
“You’ve seen him?” Dan snapped his eyes back to her.
“Yes.” She nodded. “And he’s just about out of his mind as you are, but honey? He wants nothing more than to show his people how beautiful he thinks you are.” She lifted his chin. “He is so proud to belong to you.”
Dan felt the tears coming again. “Yeah?”
“Of course he is.” She patted the box. “Would you like to see how I know that?”
He looked down at the box in her hands with a nod. Slowly, Maggie turned the box to face him and opened it up. Dan looked down open mouthed. His fingers skimmed over the white gold with emeralds that matched his ring perfectly.
“You didn’t honestly think you’d be the only princess without a crown, did you?”
Dan’s heart swelled as looked to Maggie and lost it.
On the other side of the compound, Rowe paced in front of the large open window. Cade and Knox watched him silently. They had no choice, but to let him work out the jitters for himself.
“He’s crying again.” Rowe suddenly stated. “I have to know if he’s okay. I can’t read him well enough!” He went for the door, only to be stopped by King and Yuri.
Knox rolled his eyes. “He’s fine, bro. He’s nervous just like you are. From what I gather, that’s normal.”
“I can’t stand here and feel him so distraught. It’s killing me.” Rowe paced some more.
A black tux perfectly tailored to his large frame was complete with a silky silver ascot pinned with a diamond around his neck. A royal sash in a midnight blue draped around one shoulder and across his chest. He was missing one last thing. He knew his mother was on the way and that by now, Daniel had seen his. That realization made him stop. This was really happening. He was getting married to Dan tonight—a day he thought would never come, not so long ago.
“I’m getting married.” He stopped pacing. “Me. I’m getting married.”
“Duh,” Knox offered. Cade elbowed him with a look. “I mean, yes, yes you are. Bro, have a seat and I’ll get you a drink. It’ll calm your nerves. You want a smoke or something?”
Rowe growled at his best man. “No, Knoxtian. I do not want a smoke. I want him, here, now.”
“It’s about the anticipation,” the queen spoke to the room. Hill glided in behind her—a decked out twin in each arm. They were fast asleep, oblivious to the luxury they were attired in. “So that when you see him, you’ll fall in love all over again.”
Rowe exhaled at the sight of her. She looked every bit the queen she was. The midnight blue they had always claimed as theirs ran down her body in folds of silk and tiny crystal beads. Her hair was twisted up and on her head sat a glimmering crown with blood red rubies—the Blood Queen had truly arrived.
“Darling,” she greeted him.
Her eyes were watery with tears at the sight of her son. He was so handsome, so grown-up that it broke her heart. Today, she was giving him up to Daniel Walker. If she was being truthful with herself, she had given him up the moment Dan walked into that house on the Wharf. But today, today was different. Today she said goodbye to the immature, selfish little brat that she loved so much, and welcomed a prince, a man into the world.
Nina looked down at the box in her hands with misty eyes. “Rowen Gerard,” she cracked a little. “My son, my little love, the Blood Prince of our people, kneel before these witnesses so that I may give you your right.”
Rowe looked around at the men that slowly gathered around him. King and Hill who was also dressed in the sash of his Queen’s mate, Micah coming to join Cade, Blaze all decked out, Yuri trying not to smile, Knox who he noticed had a trembling lip, but it was when the last unexpected guest walked into the room that Rowe felt his cheeks wet with tears.
Ghost wiped his hands down his tux with a grin. “I hope I’m not too late, had to catch a red eye from Greece.”
Everyone smiled at him. Knox slapped him on the back with a big inhale. “Right on time, bro. We were just about to crown a prince. Good of you to come back.”
“And miss out on that sexy little blonde in a tux? Never,” Ghost teased, looking at Rowe who shook his head despite the tears.
The doors closed behind them and Nina took a deep breath. “With your brothers gathered and your family surrounding you.” Nina opened the box to reveal the crown of old, her father’s crown—the first of its kind. “I formally acknowledge you as Blood Prince and mate of Daniel Gerard, your husband, your responsibility, and your everything. I give you this crown to seal the bond with your people.”
Knox held the box as she pulled the crown out of the velvet lining. “I put it upon your head, so that you will feel the blood that runs through your veins and know that you are a leader, a true prince with a heart that beats with love and just. Today, my son…” She lifted his chin as he wept on his knees. “I let you go into the arms of your one true love, so that you may rule together, forever.”
Rowe bowed his head, truly moved by his mother’s grace. Her acknowledgment of him in this way, there were no words. As if they were on the same wave-length, he felt his love across the compound. He felt Dan’s heart beat in sync with his and he wiped his eyes with a smile.
A hand extended down to him and Rowe looked up into Knox’s dark teary eyes. “Need a hand, my Prince?”
Rowe fought not to cry again and grabbed Knox’s hand with a smile. “Always.”
Dan watched the twins blow bubbles in the doorway before heading down aisle. He watched his sister give him one last smile before she disappeared out of sight with Knox on her arm. Down the aisle to the music they went, leaving Dan and Maggie alone to the side of the door. His hands were shaking—Maggie keeping him on his feet. He had to walk out there in front of hundreds of Royals, their families, their friends. What if he wasn’t what they wanted in their prince’s mate? What if he wasn’t good enough for them?
“You are more than they could ever imagine.” Maggie read his mind. “Any man that could bring a prince out of the prince is a word beyond worthy. They love you, Daniel. They truly love you already.”
She adjusted the crown on his head with a smirk. A guard on the other side of the door nodded. “It’s time, your highness.”
Dan took a deep breath, clutching to Maggie for dear life. “I can do this.”
“You can do this,” she affirmed. “Come on honey. Let’s go get you married.”
She made the first step into the doorway and he followed. A mass rustle made his heart thud—hundreds of vampires standing for him to either side of the aisle. The music tuned out in his head as Dan saw Rowe.
“Keep going baby. Just breathe,” Maggie whispered as his eyes watered.
He wanted to run to his mate. Throw his arms around him and hold on. Rowe was the most beautiful man he had ever known. His heart raced at the sight of his true love. An emotion beyond love made him keep walking. He could do this. For Rowe, he would do anything.
Rowen lost his breath as Dan appeared in the doorway. Knox stopped him from taking a step towards his pet. He wanted to race down the aisle and take Dan to the ground. Whisper his love to his mate before claiming Dan’s lips in an unholy kiss. Daniel was stunning to put it mildly. A pristine white suit with a matching silver ascot, hair waved to one side to show off his gorgeous green eyes. But what melted Rowe’s heart was the crown sitting on his mate’s head. The crown that symbolized this was for real and together they would rule their people forever. Fate could not have made a better choice for him.
Everything else forgotten, Dan took step after step towards Rowe. There came a point when he felt he really couldn’t breathe. He felt the kiss to his cheek, Maggie’s hand across his back as she bid him goodbye. Rowe’s hand replaced hers and the two looked at each other as if they had never seen the other before. Nothing else existed. Not the twins giggling in the corner. Not the fact that Knox was actually crying into Nova’s shoulder and not even Nina who stood behind them waiting until they noticed her. Rowe choked out a breath before he sealed his lips over Dan’s.
The world spun out, a tiny clink of their crowns, and a gasp from the crowd didn’t stop him. Hands steadying his mate, Rowe breathed Dan into himself. It was if Dan was the water he was dying to have. Once he was filled again, good enough to let go, Rowe straightened with Dan and pulled back.
Dan finally noticed Nina and blushed crimson. She looked to her son and smiled. “Better?”
“Much,” he declared. He winked at Dan. He truly did feel better with Dan near. Always had and always would.
“Then I believe we can begin.” She smiled out over the crowd. “We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Rowen Gerard, the Blood Prince to his mate in all things, Daniel Walker.” A tear slipped down her cheek as she continued. The way her baby was looking at Dan was enough to melt her into a puddle of goo.
Fifteen minutes later and cheers so loud you could barely think filled the night. Rowe kissed Daniel before it was time and Nina just sighed. “I now pronounce you Mr. and Mr. Rowen Gerard.” She closed the book with a laugh as Rowe tipped Dan backwards—two brand new white gold bands fitting to their antique ones. “I think we covered the kissing part.”
Ghost handed Knox a tissue with a grin. “You’re leaking.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Knox growled with an elbow to the side. “Never been to a wedding before.”
Ghost laughed, thinking of his own mouse out their roaming the world. One day, he thought, he’d catch Gabriel and maybe have they’d wedding of their own. The fact that he thought of them together so naturally kind of scared him, but he knew it was his fate and he would accept it. Didn’t mean he couldn’t like his fate right?
Knox shot him a look and Ghost waved him off. “Whatever bro. Don’t get all weird on me,” Knox sniffled.
“You are the one crying,” Ghost countered.
Rowe came up for air with a side splitting smile. “Shall we go dance, Mr. Gerard?”
Dan wiped his eyes and laughed. “Yes, Mr. Gerard. That sounds wonderful.”
Thousands of hand blown bubbles filled the night as they walked past their family and friends and down the garden path. Their wedding party followed with the queen and Hill plus baby twins in tow. A band played jazz music over the small pond and the adjoining dance floor that had been erected. Rowe immediately spun Dan under the lights as the crowd watched around them—not a care in the world filled his body. He pulled his pet close to his chest, watching his eyes swirl with happiness.
“Your crown is crooked pet.” Rowe bit his lip and twirled Dan again. “Rule number one of being a princess, always...”
He was cut off with a kiss to the lips. Dan came back laughing with lust filled eyes. “Rule number one of being a princess is that I make the rules. Rule number two is…”
“Rule number two is to forget the rules.” Rowe spun him softly, grabbing his hand again and twirling them both—forgetting anyone was watching.
“Do you always live on the edge, Mr. Gerard?” Dan bit his lip shyly looking up into Rowen’s eyes.
Rowe bent down, his breath whispering over Dan’s. “Only when I’m with you, Mr. Gerard.”
It felt so good to know Dan was his in every which way under the sun. Same last name, the rings, mated, consummated, in every way they were each other’s.
“I live to love you, Daniel. Always and forever,” Rowe choked up.
Dan closed his eyes to feel the love Rowe sent him. It flooded his very core before he opened his eyes. His palm to Rowe’s cheek, his rings glinting under the lights from above, he sent the love right back. “Forever and always, I will be right here, loving you back.”
He pulled Rowe down for a searing kiss. The crowd went wild around them. Every person privy to witness this beautiful occasion felt a change within themselves. Their future would be a better place because of their prince and his mate. A new dawn was on the horizon and they couldn’t wait.
Ten years later, Isaac watched from the sidelines of the field with Axel and Nanette. Gage kicked the soccer ball into the goal and Knox cheered enthusiastically. Isaac frowned and looked back down to the ground. He picked up a piece of grass and twirled it between his fingers. He knew from a very early age that Knox didn’t like him, but he would forever struggle with the why. He was the smallest of them all. He knew that, but he was good at soccer. Knox liked soccer and that was why he coached their territory’s team. It was why Isaac played—to try and make Knox like him.
But the big male hadn’t wanted Isaac on their team to begin with. Said he was too small for the other kids and he would get hurt. His da and pop had argued with Knox until a fist fight almost broke out. In the end Knox had let him play, but he was never going to be happy about it.
Yuri and Katrina’s son Jaska waved at them from the other side of the field. His blue jersey for the other team a little loose for him, but he looked just happy to be there. Isaac waved back, but Axel shook his head.
“He wasn’t waving at you.” He looked to the side.
Isaac followed his eyes and saw the little red headed girl that lived at the compound waving back. She was some new transfer from Europe with her family. Isaac nodded, searching the crowd for his parents. At least he had them to wave to. Micah and Cade waved back at him. Micah whistled between his teeth with a grin. That always made Isaac smile.
“Hightower, you’re up.” Knox appeared before them. “Get in there.”
Isaac spared a look at Axel who shrugged. He was only here because Hill made him do something on the weekends. Otherwise he’d be in the library, a hermit.
“Did you hear me?” Knox growled. “Come on!”
“I heard you,” Isaac replied quietly, scrambling past the hulking vampire and onto the field.
The other team was pretty good, but Isaac and Gage together were always better. Gage kicked the ball to Isaac and as little as he was, he squeezed right past the opposing players, and kicked the ball right past the goalie. Their side erupted in cheers. His parents jumped up and down on the sidelines and Isaac smiled from ear to ear. His smile fell when he turned hopefully to Knox. Just the smallest bit of praise from the man he looked up to, just a little bit, he prayed.
Knox only stared at him. His arms crossed, he glared at Isaac. There was no pat on the back or a job well done like with Gage. Only hate. Ten minutes later, the game was done. Their team winning by three points, but Isaac didn’t care. He and Gage walked to the public restrooms in silence. His parents were letting him ride with Nina and Hill to the pizza parlor, meeting them their later.
“Izzy, you okay?” Gage stopped on the sidewalk.
Isaac spotted Knox across the parking lot and shook his head. “No.”
“What’s wrong? You can tell me, Izzy.”
Gage was younger, but he would always protect Isaac from anything. They were best friends. There for each other through thick and thin and brain freeze headaches. But Isaac couldn’t tell Gage about Knox. He would sound crazy. He didn’t even know why he cared so much, but it hurt every time.
“Nothing, it’s nothing.” Isaac shook from head to toe as Knox sneered his way and got into his sports car, slamming the door shut behind him. Isaac tried to bite back the tears and lost. He sucked in a breath and ran for the restroom, leaving Gage completely confused.
In the car, Knox gripped the steering wheel for dear life. His entire body shook with emotion, but he had to be this way. He couldn’t do that to himself, not yet, maybe not ever. He would have to deal with this for the next eight, maybe ten years. But even then, would he have guts to tell the person he cherished the most, but acted like he hated, that they were destined to be together, forever?
Knox swallowed back his self-hatred, slamming the car into reverse and taking off out of the parking lot. Leaving the little boy that needed him the most behind.