“She loves you, And you know that,” Lyanna whispered in his ear as she held him in her arms on top of her.
“And you like her as well. I have seen it in your eyes.”
“Lyanna, I can’t just…”
Lyanna interjected his words.
“She grew up with us, Shazan. She grew up believing that she will be your bride. And you will not disappoint her. Mother wished it as well.”
“I know that, but…”
“Tell me what you are worried about, My Love.” Lyanna planted a kiss near his ear.
Shazan propped up on his arms and looked at her in her eyes.
“You.” He answered. All he cared about in this world was her happiness.
“You think I will get jealous of her?” Lyanna laughed at his words.
“You get jealous… I know that.” He planted a kiss on the tip of her nose.
“I can deal with it. It isn’t much. I know that your love for me will never fade. And besides, I will be sharing you with Arianna in the future. So, it doesn’t matter.” She whispered her words and stared in his eyes. Her words were resolute, and she wouldn’t take another answer from him.
“Why are you doing this?” He asked her helplessly.
“You like her, don’t you?” She asked back, gently smiling at him.
“I do,” He could never lie to her, she knew him better than he knew himself. “But that’s because I am a man, and men are ungrateful creatures.” He said embarrassedly.
“If you call it ungratefulness, then so be it. But I want my brother to be a man, and never shy away from his desires. I want my husband to be strong enough to make things that he desire belong to him.”
“Jen is not a thing, Lyanna.” He whispered. “She has every right to seek the happiness she deserves in her life.”
“Do you honestly believe that a man can love a single girl with all his heart?”
He wanted to say to her that he could love her forever, and only her. But he knew that his heart already belonged to Arianna as well. He knew that he would never be able to let his princess leave his life. His selfishness scared him every time he felt possessive of her. He wanted to blame it on Lyanna for filling his head with such thoughts, but he knew that he desired such a fate. He wanted to live with Lyanna and Arianna as his wives. He wanted to live with them far away from the rest of the world. And he could see it in Arianna’s eyes, that she could never live without him. She was just five years old, but he knew that her resolution would never change.
“No,” he answered her.
“And do you think you are not capable of providing Jen with the happiness she seeks in her life?”She said and giggled. “And you know, she loves you. And if you reject her feelings, she will never be whole again.”
Shazan nodded to her and buried his head back in her bosom. He listened to her heartbeat. It was serene, and he could feel the rhythm of her heart connect with his. She was a part of him. She was his, and he didn’t know a second of his life where he was not in love with her.
“I love you.” He said as he planted a kiss in her bosom.
“I know.” She said with a gentleness that somehow constricted his heart. And her next words proved his fears right. “You slept with Marilyn last night.”
His heart thumped hard as he remembered what had transpired last night.
“I know why you did that.” She sighed. “And I allow it. But since you have touched her, take responsibility for her. Cherish her, as she is now your woman.”
Shazan nodded his head as his heart calmed down. His eyes drooped in peacefulness her arms provided him, and he was on the verge of falling asleep, but fate had different plans for him.
“Jenaira is waiting for you in her room. I talked with her earlier, and you will be accepting her as your bride, tonight. I promised her that. She is, after all, my best friend.” Lyanna chuckled.
“You did what?!” He pushed himself up in disbelief. This sister of his was too mischevious. She already knew that he wouldn’t refuse her suggestion, and so she had already given her promise to Jen.
“The tide of time is changing, My Love,” She said to him and captured his lips. “Be strong.”
The scene before him turned hazy, as it evaporated in red smoke.
He felt a gentle push on his shoulder. And when the voice called out his name again, a lump formed in his throat. He felt the wetness, and warmness of his tears again.
His eyes opened, but he closed them back again. His tears wouldn’t allow him to see anyway. He helped himself up and got out of the car. He staggered as his mind wouldn’t let go of the memories. But she was already by his side and holding him. Her heart was restless, and her body was shivering.
“I will be fine, my love.” He told her. “This pain wouldn’t kill me.” He assured her.
“Shut up!” Ilsa cried out. “You are burning in fever…” Her anger couldn’t contain her care.
Fever was a rare occurrence for Azeros. And when they got it, it was either a bad sign or a really good sign. In both cases, it meant that the person was suffering from immense pain.
Ilsa led him inside from the backdoor. She didn’t want to scare everyone in the house. But she failed as there was already someone in the corridor, observing the paintings on the walls. Her feet stopped.
Shazan opened his eyes slowly. His vision was blurry, and his senses were in disarray. He didn’t have a grasp on what was happening around him. He was with Ilsa, and he felt safe enough to allow his senses to rebel against him.
What greeted him when his vision cleared a little, was a young girl, looking at him. He knew who she was. Her pretty face was blooming with a smile. But his mind focused on her wavy platinum hair. And a face appeared in his mind. A face so innocent, any man’s heart would melt in care.
“Janaira…” He called her name. But before he could walk to her, he was hugged by a pair of arms.
“Shazan…” Her gentle voice called out his name, and his senses returned to him.
It was Renesme. His eyes met her wine colored eyes. Eyes that made him appreciate their beauty every time he looked in them. And his hazy mind sobered.
“Thanks…” He whispered before turning his eyes back to the girl before him.
Kaiya was standing there looking at him, she was still smiling, but her smile had paled a little. Her brows were lightly frowning.
He walked to her and picked her up in his arms.
“How’s my little bride?” He asked as he planted a kiss on her head.
Kaiya buried her face in his chest as her heart raced.
“I am fine…” She whispered. “Why are you crying?”
Shazan didn’t know how to answer her. His heart was aching, and even though his mind was not hazy anymore, it was being run by the memories flooding in it. He had forced his tears to stop. He had called her out with a name that he shouldn’t have.
“I’ll be fine…” He said to her and put her down on her feet. “I was just missing someone dear to me.” He nudged her nose.
Kaiya was curious. She failed to hide her curiosity on her face, but she didn’t inquire further and nodded her head.
“You have fever…” She worriedly said.
“I’ll take care of that.”
Renesme walked forward and supported him as she placed his arm on her shoulder. She gently smiled at the little girl.
Kaiya could only nod to her, and her cheeks bloomed in a blush. Renesme was too pretty, and her charm worked on girls too.
“Arianna,” Renesme said to Ilsa before she led him to his private section on the ground floor.
As soon as they arrived in his bedroom, Renesme activated her aura and wrapped him in it. She helped him sit on the bed and then took off his jacket. She didn’t show it on her face, but she was hurt seeing him in pain.
Shazan had no clue what the mystical bond he had with Renesme was. He could feel her even when she was away, and he could feel her heart resonating inside of him. And somehow, he could feel every emotion of hers, and he could read her mind if she would allow it. And all his emotions were bare before her, and she could read his mind too if he allowed it. It had happened the night he had consummated his marriage with her, and the bond seemed permanent now.
He had once asked her about what this bond was, but she had only told him that her life was now his, she had bound her soul to his. He had no clue about what she had done, but he believed her words, as he felt that she could never lie to him from then on. And when he had insisted her to explain more, she had smiled at him, and said that he was not ready to hear what she has to say. She would tell him about it when the time has come.
“You knew that woman might say something like that,” Renesme finally talked to him, her eyes not hiding away her hurt. “And you allowed her to hurt you.”
“The pain wouldn’t go away, Esme,” He said as he laid back on the bed.
“It’s because you wouldn’t allow it to go away,” She crawled up the bed and rested his head in her lap. She caressed his hair lovingly and lowered her head to plant a wet kiss on his forehead. “You have the power to make it all go away.”
“I can’t steer away from this pain,” He said as his tears slipped out of his eyes. “It’s mine. This pain is the only thing I have left of them. And I never want to let it go.”
Renesme could only helplessly sigh at his words. She understood him. She knew every thought in his mind. She knew every emotion that he felt.
“You know what she said, Esme?” He closed his eyes. “She said that I killed them. She said that I killed my beloved Jen. She said that I killed my Lyanna.”
“Shush…” Renesme tried to stop him thinking about it, but she had no power over it.
“And I couldn’t refute her words.” He whispered as his heart ached in immense pain.
Renesme said nothing to comfort his pain. She knew that she had no power over it. But her resolution was clear to him through their bond. His pain was hers, and she would suffer with him if he wished to drown in his sorrows. And she had no complaints about it.
The selflessness of her love had always scared him. She was happy just knowing that he had her in his heart. She would never complain if he would spend less time with her, and she would never complain if he wouldn’t see her for days.
His pain was hurting her, and so he fought hard to find solace in his pain. He could not steer away from his pain or memories. Steering away from these memories meant that he would be letting go of them, forever. And he didn’t want to let go.
He turned over and buried his face in her lap. He shed his tears there, in peace. And he remembered the ones he had lost that day.
Jenaira Freston. The girl that he had met when he was two years old. And she had grown up with him and Lyanna. Unknowingly, she had become the favorite of their mother. And everybody loved her. She was so pure. She could never think badly of anyone, and she would feel sad when she saw others in pain. But the only thing in the world that she could fight for, the one she could lie for, or the one she could hurt someone for, was her love for him and Lyanna.
She loved him as if he was the light of her life, and she loved Lyanna like they were sisters. And when she had grown up, she had tried to distance herself from him. She didn’t want to fight Lyanna over him. Her silly decision had made his sister furious, and so she promised her that she would share him with her. Jenaira Freston turned Jenaira Silverstein on her 16th Birthday. She was his first official wife and second wife after Lyanna. The wedding was held here in the Palace, and only a few family members attended it. And she looked dazzlingly beautiful in her snow white wedding gown.
Gina Michaelson. The girl his grandfather had gifted him on his 14th birthday. She was a year younger than him. And what a fiery temper she had held. He was her master but she didn’t seem to care about this fact. She would always fight with him when she felt like it. And cling to him as if he was not her master but her lover. She never cared about what Lyanna or Jenaira thought of her actions. She was never shy of kissing him or making love with him even in their presence. She was bold, she was beautiful, and she had earned his love. And he would always love her until his last breath.
Arnold Ragzar. He was Ezio’s firstborn. A boy whose talent was praised by everyone. He was respectful, loyal, and the best of the men there could be. He was his friend. He was his loyal steward. Arnold had proudly chosen to serve him when he was only nine years old. He had expressed his desire to leave the Silverstein Palace, and live to protect Shazan in the House of the Second. His decision had upset several people in the Palace. Damien had wanted Arnold to serve as his hand. And he had flatly refused him in the presence of everyone. He had chosen him over the apparent heir of the Silverstein Palace. Arnold was three years older than him, but he never looked down on him. He was respectful to him just as Ezio was respectful to the head of the Silverstein Palace, Rysar Silverstein.
Shazan had discovered his first male friend in Arnold. And he had been elated when Arnold had told him that if his lord wishes to see him as a friend, then he will be honored to be his friend. That day, he had shown Arnold all of his abilities. He had taught Arnold the ancient language of Amazeros, the little he himself knew. That language was an invaluable treasure and had been the inheritance of the Silverstein Palace. Ezio had earned the right to learn it after years of his services, but Shazan had taught Arnold about it just because he had been accepted as a friend. And Arnold, until his last breath, never betrayed him.
The Old Man named Black. He was the steward of the House of the Second. Despite his snow-white hair and beard, everyone addressed him as Black. Lyanna had once asked him why he was called Black when all his hair was white. And they had seen the old man laugh heartedly for the first time. He remembered what Black had answered to them that day. “Young Master, Little Miss, I was young once, and had lustrous Black here too, just like yours. But that is not why I am called Black.”
Black never told them why his name was Black until they had learned about it in a certain book in the Library. Black was a name given to those that had killed their own Family. And out of remorse, abandoned their name to embrace this one. They understood that day why his eyes were always sad.
Shazan respected the old man’s strength, his capabilities, his loyalty, and the care he held for them. Black was like a guardian to him and Lyanna. And he had laid down his life protecting the House of the Second.
Several faces appeared in his memories. They were of the loyal guards of the House of the Second. The guards that had protected him all their lives. And then there were images of the maids of the House of the Second.
Maria Ragzar. She was Karen’s and Arnold’s Mother, and she was Ezio’s only wife. She had transferred to the House of the Second when she had gotten pregnant with Karen. She never explained to anyone why she had come here. And she had told him when she had handed the newly born Karen in his hand, “I had a dream, Young Master. In that dream, I saw you tell me that I was going to give birth to your beloved.” She was a woman who believed in such things. And surprisingly, no one in the room that day mocked her words or even laughed at them. Nobody even thought of her words as a lie to only gain his favor. That was because everyone knew how honest of a woman she was. Everyone respected her for that. All of their eyes were locked on him as he held the little girl in his hands. And then Maria had asked him to name her. And Maria had loved him as if he was her own son.
Lilian. Her name was as pretty as her. And she was his mother’s maid. And after his parents passed away, she became his sister’s maid. Lilian was a graceful lady. She was hardworking and loved doing things to perfection. She had been mad at him when he had asked her to be his woman. She had told him that she had changed his diapers. She was too old for him. And so he had forced himself on her. Lilian had begged him to stop, and he hadn’t. She had cried too, as she felt him tear through her maidenhood. But that night she had peacefully fallen asleep in his embrace. There was no regret on her face. And there was a sweet smile on her lips that he still soundly remembered and held dear. She was a part of his family, she was his woman, and he loved her.
Then the face of his grandfather appeared in his mind. And the benevolent smile on his hardened face warmed his heart and made it ache at the same time. He never respected anyone as much as his grandfather. Rysar Silverstein was a man of his word. He was powerful enough that even the secret orders respected him, and never interfered with the matters of Italy. Rysar was a man of determination, and a man capable of making decisions. He was a man capable of taking his son’s life for a sin he should have never committed. And Rysar had lived his life at large, and loved his family as it meant everything to him.
He could still recall that day when he had stood before his grandfather and told him that he wouldn’t allow his sister to marry another man. He was only thirteen then, and he had never been so scared in his life, but he had to voice his determination that day, and he had voiced it and braced himself for its consequences. Contrary to his expectations, his grandfather had benevolently caressed his head. “You are a man today,” he had told him. His grandfather always knew about his relationship with Lyanna. And he had silently approved of it. “Even if it had never happened in the Family before, I would have still fulfilled the wish of my beloved grandchildren,” He had told him and Lyanna on their wedding day.
And then there was Lyanna. His life, his twin, his sister, his wife, and the woman who was the light of his life. She was wise, she was bold, she was beautiful, and she was strong. He always knew that Lyanna loved him more than he could ever love her. Her life was centered on him. And she always put his happiness before hers. “I can only be happy if you are happy, My Love.” Her words still lingered in his mind.
The tears continued slipping out of his eyes. His fever strengthened, and he sobbed in his Esme’s lap. All of them were gone now. All of them were taken away from him in that one day. His body shivered, as he sobbed more, but at that moment he felt a pair of hands turn him over. Just the touch of her hands had eased his pain. He opened his blurry eyes and saw Arianna looking at him. She was there standing by the side of the bed, in her pajamas. His tears stopped when he saw the anger in her eyes. And then she climbed the bed and laid down on top of him.
Arianna buried her face in his chest and then closed her eyes. Time passed, and his heart eased. His felt safe and peaceful in the lap of his Esme, and he felt complete having his Arianna in his arms. The pain couldn’t win against his love for them.
“Arianna…” He whispered but got no reply from her.
She was mad at him. And it was her way of expressing her anger. She would stop talking to him whenever she would be mad at him. But she would never stay away from him. She couldn’t. He was her peace, and he was her life. She could stay mad at him for as long as she willed it, but there was no way that she could stay away from him.
“Forgive me, My Love.” He said as he felt the weight of her sadness in his heart. He planted a kiss on her head. “I know I hurt you, but I didn’t mean to do it.”
She was still mad at him for keeping away the secret about Asaya. He never kept any secrets from her, he never lied to her in his life. He couldn’t. But he had still kept this one thing from her.
“I know, it’s my fault,” He sighed. “There’s no excuse.”
He wrapped his arms around her protectively.
“The only reason why I had never told anyone about Asaya was that I had decided to allow Helen to live her life as she wanted to live it. I never wanted to force anything on her or Asaya.” He sighed as he remembered the decision he and Lyanna had made when his grandfather had revealed to them that Asaya was their little sister. “If I had told you about her… Would you have allowed her to stay away from us?”
“You said that there was no excuse…” Renesme chuckled at his words and stopped caressing his head. “It’s your fault, and Arianna has every right to be mad at you.” She stroked Arianna’s head tenderly and started caressing it like a mother would caress her daughter’s.
The gentle smile on her face mystified him. He could never understand why Renesme loved Arianna so much. And surprisingly, Arianna always treated her with respect and care that only sisters would hold for each other. It was not like how Arianna usually behaved with other girls. She was close to Karen as well, but with Renesme, Arianna was different in a way that couldn’t be explained. They laughed together and talked a lot. Renesme never talked with anyone so much. She was like this only with him and Arianna. And recently she has been getting talkative with little Rose as well.
He didn’t linger much on his thoughts as he drifted off to sleep. He was tired. He was very tired.
♛ Author’s Note:
This chapter was not easy to write. It was not easy at all. It burned my brains.
I had to take into consideration several things in writing this chapter. I had to make sure I was revealing things, but not revealing too much. The Chapter is very significant, as it finally reveals some details about our MC’s past. And reveals the people who he has lost in his life.
His relationship with Renesme and Arianna is shown as well. And how much meaning they hold in his life.
It’s more of a character introduction to Shazan. And I hope that readers will have by now a sound image of what kind of a man he is. I hope you were not bored reading it. I couldn’t do much there to make it interesting.