Clouds hover around us in the blue sky, as if we are floating above the world. I don’t know if it was my choice or hers, but I do know it’s beautiful.
“I love you, Althea. I need you to remember that. Whatever is to come, remember that. Remember that I love you. Remember that I made this choice, not you, so do not feel guilty. It is time for you to stand on your own now, but if you ever need me, I will always be deep in your soul.”
“I know,” I murmur. I want to tell her I don’t want her to go, but that’s selfish. Why should I get more time with my loved one when no one else does? I want to beg the gods to give her back to me and tell them I’ll do anything, but again, that’s selfish. She is right. These are our paths. Mine takes me away from her, but it will always lead me back in the end.
When the sun sets, she will be waiting.
“I love you,” I tell her, squeezing her hands tighter. “Thank you for being my mother. Wait for me.”
Her hands start to fade, and I step back as she smiles at me.
“You and your father,” she promises, placing her hand over her heart. “Forever, Althea.”
Our god appears at her side, and with a smile, he takes my mother’s hand. “I will look after her for you, Althea, if you look after my children for me.” I know he means our race.
“I will,” I vow.
“Goodbye, Althea,” he murmurs, and hand in hand, they walk towards the clouds. She only looks back once, wearing an expression so filled with love, it staggers me, and when I awake, my heart still bears the strength of her love.
I have to keep her wish and live a long, happy life to make everything she gave up worthwhile . . . and maybe I can forgive the man who is my blood.
“Althea?” Azul rumbles worriedly, his voice thick with sleep. “Are you okay?”
“Yes.” I turn my head and meet his sleepy eyes. “Yes, I am. I will be.” I take his hand and close my eyes once more, trusting in this brilliant, flawed world.
My mate is still sleeping, her back pressed to my front. My head is buried in her neck, and I inhale her scent to calm my heart. My soul is locked with hers, just as my arms are draped around her body, holding her close. My cock hardens, but I ignore it, just enjoying the moment between wakefulness and sleep where I am at peace.
There are no duties, jobs, regrets, or memories.
I am just in love and happy with my mate asleep in my arms, my brothers wrapped around her. A family. A home. A future.
She buries her head deeper into the pillow with a sigh. Her dress is ruched around her, and dried blood flakes on her skin. I should wake her to bathe her so she is more comfortable, but I don’t want to disturb this moment. Besides, none of us care about a little blood.
“What time is it?” she murmurs, inadvertently rubbing her perfect ass against my cock. Groaning, I try to shift my hips back, but Lycus snores and turns, throwing his arm and leg over Althea and me, making me grin.
“Early. Go back to sleep, mate,” I murmur into her neck, feeling her shiver. The beautiful scent of her desire slowly drifts through the air, and when she moves again, it’s with purpose. “Althea,” I growl in warning. Unable to resist, I grind my hips into her ass, and we both moan at the friction.
I drag my fangs along her nape, making her moan loudly, and I stiffen, not wanting to wake the others when they need their sleep, but her moans are just too good, so I do it again.
“Either fuck or shut up, I’m trying to sleep,” Reve mutters, waving his arm in the air before it flops down across Zale, and then he starts snoring. Althea and I freeze before she giggles softly. The sound sets my heart alight like nothing else. It’s the sound of happiness, of my present and my future, and I crave it.
Osis, she says down our bond, her tone resonating with a need so deep, I could never deny her, not that I want to. I always want my mate. Even covered in blood and stained with the souls of our enemies. Even with death in her veins and a god in her heart. Nothing could ever turn me away from my mate, but her need undoes me, because she needs me just as desperately.
Turning her slowly, I cup her chin and lift her head so I can kiss her lips. It’s a slow kiss, not urgent like usual. Grabbing her hands that try to explore, I slow them down. “We have all the time in the world, love.”
Tasting her love, I deepen the kiss, our bodies melding together as one. She whimpers into my mouth, and I look through my brother’s eyes to see Azul sliding his lips along her neck.
He freezes.Is this okay?he asks me, seeing if I want privacy.
Always, brother, I reply.She is ours, all of ours, and she needs us all.
That wakes the others up. The whimper of our mate is loud in the dark, and once sleepy vampyrs turn feral and possessive as they slide up the bed to worship their mate.
She nips my lip, and it makes me feel like a god.