It’s time for Writing Prompt Wednesday. This week, we’re going to visit a couple that has been haunting me for longer than I should be admitting. Braeden and Aria.
When we first meet them, it’s is Dragon’s Awakening. I’ve never gotten around to their story. But here is a start to it….
This week’s sentence: Sometimes the person you would take a bullet for is the one behind the trigger.
*****(c) Dawn Ibanez 2017 All right reserved*****
Sometimes the person you would take a bullet for is the one behind the trigger. It was a song lyric that made his mind go around in circles. He would have done anything Aria asked of him. He still would. But all she asked of him had been distance. He granted it, knowing it was what she needed. Now, over a year later, he was beginning to rethink his position. He looked at the pictures in front of him and felt his mood sink..
His mate. The one he loved since they were children eons ago. Was now out of his reach. Possibly forever.
Braeden tried to throw the photo away. There had been many times when he put the 4 x 6 photograph in the bin. But each and every time he would pull it out. It wasn’t her fault she finally found comfort. He was happy she was able to move on beyond what his cousin did. His beautiful Aria was slowly becoming the woman she had always been destined to be.
And she did all of it without him.
Braeden held the picture of her and her teammate, Simon. They were sitting shoulder to shoulder. Her head was tilted towards his as he spoke to her. Braeden was sure his brother’s mate took the candid image, not realizing it would rip out his heart.
Then again, Chance still hadn’t completely forgiven him for sleeping with another woman while Aria had been in danger.
He hadn’t forgiven himself either.
“Gods, not this brooding again,” his best friend commented. Braeden turned and looked at Drake. The vampire crossed the room and went straight for the wine on the refreshment tray. “You really need to make a decision,” he said as he poured a glass.
His father and brother said the same thing. Neither really understood what it was like to have pushed the woman you loved away. Christobal has his mate in Chance. A dragon that was more than capable of handling both his nature and his mood swings.
Things had never been simple between him and Aria. Life sent them down different roads. Every time they saw each other, something would drive a bigger wedge between them. He finally thought they had a shot. Her obligations to both Merlin and her dead father were met. She was finally starting to break out of the unfeeling shell she encased around herself.
And then his idiot cousin defiled her.
Braeden held up the picture in his hand. “Aria has already made it.”
Drake looked at the image and snorted. “She only allows him that close because he’s human and isn’t a threat.”
“I know that.” Braeden sighed as he exchanged the image for one that made him smile. Aria holding her small daughter. “Simon is safe and he knows enough to try to protect her and the baby.”
Drake sipped at his wine. “Chance says that they are starting to plan her Naming. Aren’t you also going to go?”
Braeden shook his head. He remembered how terrified she was that day he and Simon rescued her. “She wouldn’t want me there,” he said.
Drake was silent for a while. Braeden knew the vampire was only holding his tongue because he was waiting for the right moment to comment. He always did.
Braeden continued to flip through the pictures Chance sent him copies of. “Aria has a good eye,” he commented. He sent his mate the camera for Christmas and she had been taking pictures of everything she could ever since. Christobal said it was almost like therapy for her.
Another picture caught his eye. It was the baby. Her cherub face was all eyes and gums as she smiled for the camera. He touched the side of her face, knowing that the child was going to be a magnet for danger. “She’s going to be a heartbreaker,” he commented.
Drake snorted. “She already has your brother and Simon falling over themselves to keep her smiling and happy.”
“What about you?”
The vampire’s grin was unrepentant. “I am clearly her favorite uncle,” he joked.
Braeden laughed. Drake always had a way with women. It didn’t matter how old they were. He looked at her picture again and sighed. “I won’t make Aria uncomfortable by showing up where I’m not wanted.”
“Did she said she didn’t want you?” Drake asked. When Braeden looked at him, he folded his hands behind his head. “If the words didn’t leave her mouth, then there is still hope. I think this self-imposed exile is a lot much. But if it makes you feel better, then who am I to judge?”
Braeden frowned as he put the pictures back in their envelope. “You didn’t have to watch her flinch every time you stepped closer to her.” He remembered the way she moved away from him and into Simon’s arms. “You didn’t watch your mate cling to another man while you could do nothing to ease her pain.”
“That is a hell of a thing for you to say to me.”
Braeden looked at Drake and sighed as he realized what he said to his friend. Drake had met the woman that could have been his more than once. And each time, she was entangled with someone else. He was finally starting to realize that she wasn’t meant for him. “I’m sorry,” he said before running his hands through his hair. “This whole situation is just…”
Drake finished his drink and poured another. “It sucks,” he said raising his glass to his lips.
Braeden nodded as he moved to turn to the serving tray. Before he could say anything else, his phone started to ring. He went over to his desk and picked up the slim device. His eyes widened when he saw Aria’s name on the screen. “Aria, are you okay?” he asked as he looked at Drake.
“I didn’t want to catch you at a bad time,” she said nervously.
Braeden shook his head as he walked to the patio doors. “No, never,” he said going outside so he could talk to her alone.
“Did you get the pictures?” she asked.
His eyes widened as he thought of the pictures. “Yes,” he whispered. He swallowed as he remembered how Chance just dropped them off. “I hadn’t realized they came from you when Chance gave them to me.”
She was silent as he looked out at the night sky. “I don’t know if I can be around you,” she confessed.
His eyes closed as she put a voice to his fears. “I understand.”
“He… he turned into you towards the end. Before you got me out.”
It was a shame that he would always carry. The vacant look in her eye as he untied her. The soft plea in her voice to just get it over with and not wear his face anymore. The broken look that crossed her face when he called her Gemstone. “I know.”
“I can’t hold off Aubrey’s Naming anymore. My grandmother says that it will make both clans look weak.”
Braeden opened his eyes at the mention of her grandmother. “You aren’t weak,” he told her. “And if that old bat says anything to the contrary, I’ll…”
A soft huff of amusement came from the other end of the phone. Braeden froze at her next words. “I think I need you here.”
Braeden swallowed as his mind processed what she told him. “You want me there?” he asked.
“Only if you want to come,” she answered quickly. “I don’t know how to handle the courts or my grandmother. I know I’m the Heir, but what if the Clans reject her because of… everything.”
Braeden leaned against the patio doors. On a good day, he was defenseless against her. When she was confused and unsure, he was willing to become the Demon his father raised him to be. “Don’t worry about the Clans. Or anyone else for that matter.”
Her breath was shaky over the phone. If he knew she was this much of a mess, she was on the verge of breaking down. “Thank you,” she said in a whisper.
He slid down the doors and sat on the cold stone of the patio. “I want you to try,” he told her. When her breath hitched again, he pushed on. “I’m not talking about anything intimate. I won’t push you any further than you’re willing to go. But damn it, I need my wife,” he confessed.
Over the phone, he could hear the soft rustling of tissues. A part of him was pleased that she just as emotional as he was. But then again, she could just be upset with the idea of her grandmother being so close to her daughter.
“I don’t think I can be what you need.”
Braeden shook his head. “That’s for me to decide.” He looked at the sky and smiled at the shooting star. “Who knows, you may decide that you don’t want me for your mate.”
Another snort. “I told you when you bound us I didn’t want you.”
He smiled. “But you have to admit, I was wearing you down. It only took a thousand years.” Braeden could hear her soft chuckle and felt like he conquered a kingdom. “Text me when and where. I’ll be there for both you and the baby.”
“Her name is Aubrey,” she told him. “I don’t think anyone told you.”
No one had. He caught it earlier in the conversation. “It’s beautiful.”
“I still don’t know if it will be De’Winter or Grayworlds. Grandmother wants me to give her to the De’Winters.”
Braeden frowned, knowing he was about to overstep bounds again. “She is a Calvolcanti and will be raised as such,” he declared.
“Brae,” she started.
He jumped to his feet and started to pace. “I will stand by your side, I will be the husband that you need in every way. Albert already robbed us both of so much, I won’t let him take your daughter too. If we have to lie to the world and let them think she’s mine, so be it.”
She was silent for a long moment. She then inhaled as if gathering strength. “Thank you,” she said again. “I’ll see you next week.”
“If you need me, call,” he told her before she disconnected the call. Braeden looked at his phone as her picture went dark. He looked at the shooting star again and smiled sadly before going back inside.
Aria needed him. And she was still terrified of him. At best, she would get over her fears of him and they would find their way to each other, finally. At worse, he could damage her permanently. And he would rip off his own arm before he allowed that.
Hope you enjoyed this entry!!! Again, let me know what you think.
See you next time!!!