Over the course of the next few days Persephone had slept in the comfort and safety of Viktor's arms. She loved that he had wished her an early happy birthday. If she fell asleep in her own bed or even in the library she found herself waking up on Viktor's chest. Falling a little farther in love with him each day. Walking past his office after dropping off clean laundry in his room she heard him yelling into his phone.
"What the fuck do you mean her flight has been delayed?" He yelled slamming his fist on the desk cracking the glass on top of the desk.
"Viktor, I'm sorry there's been back to back storms here and I'm trying my damnedest to get them on the plane." A man said with a shiver in his voice.
"If she is not on that plane in two days by the god damned 15th I will reach through this phone and throttle you. The next call I get had best be that you have landed and the package is fucking with you. Do I make myself clear?" Viktor said between his teeth.
"Yes sir." Was all that was said before he broke the phone slamming it down.
Knocking softly Seph poked her head in and saw Viktor leaning against his knuckles on the desk. Setting down the empty basket she walked over to him pulling a clean rag from her apron pocket and dabbing at his knuckles.
"I'll ice these before it gets late so they don't bruise too terrible. I'll send Franklin to town so we can get your office phone replaced so that you don't have to use the one in the library, keep business to the study and leave the library unscathed. I don't think the tables can take such a hit. I'll call Caesar to have your desk replaced on Monday." She said tearing and wrapping the rag around his hand.
Viktor smiled at her talking about what would be done over the course of two days, she took such good care of him. Made him feel loved, as if there were purity in his dark dangerous world. She was his beacon in the dark. She always would be. Leaning down he kissed her softly. Persephone returned his kiss. They stood in the light flooding in through the window. Taking a deep breath Persephone whispered against his lips.
"I love you, Viktor."
He froze, had he heard her right, had she...said.
"I love you, too." He whispered pulling her closer.
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she kissed Viktor again, "I have more house work to finish, I'll see you shortly."
Leaving Viktor standing in his office alone he smiled at how she'd said it first. He could feel the words in his throat but something was keeping the words firmly stuck, his wife had been the first to say them as well, but that didn't mean they meant any less to him.
Persephone and Ms. Carthanis were moping the main room in silence. Later that night they went to bed without a word. Persephone wasn't sure, Ms. Carthanis was never so silent while they cleaned and worked.
Over the next few days Viktor kept to his office and would come and get her for bed, until one night she had to go find him. Opening his office door she saw him putting on a jacket and grabbing one of his canes.
"Viktor, are you coming to bed?" She asked smiling standing in the door way to his office.
"I have a matter to attend to I'm sorry my love, but my bed is yours to use as well as my pillows til I can return and be the pillow in your arms." He said walking up to her and kissing her softly.
"Viktor." She said softly.
"Can I make a request for my birthday tomorrow?" She asked twirling the ties of her sleep shorts.
"Of course, I will get you something shiny, something to wear. Whatever you like." He smiled, Viktor had told her if she wanted anything to merely ask for it, this had been the first she had asked something of him.
"It's been four weeks and you haven't, t-touched me. I- I-" she trailed off looking at his shoes.
Placing his finger under her chin he brought her eyes to his, "I am your gift my love. After I take care of this, I will ravish your body for hours."
Kissing her gently he sent her to bed and left for the air port.
Tossing in her bed she felt an overbearing weight on her chest, sitting up in bed she screamed covering her face. It'd been a year since she'd had a nightmare, covering her face she felt large arms wrap around her shoulders. Thinking it was Viktor she turned into his chest and froze when she smelled cheap whiskey and cigarettes. Viktor only smoked cigars or a Tobacco pipe. Looking up she saw black eyes, a sinister grin; fear caught in her throat as she looked into the Master's eyes. Screaming she fell to the floor and felt the dirt under her hands. Tears streaming her face, she couldn't stand, chains on her wrists she couldn't pull them off. Calling out for Viktor to wake her up, she watched the Master walked towards her carrying the whip. With the first crack she shot up into the waiting arms of a woman. Thinking it was Ms. Carthanis Persephone clutched her close, a perfume wrapped around her that she hadn't smelt in years. Pulling away she looked up into the celestial blue eyes that had began to tear up.
"My Kore." She whispered as tears fell.
"Mama!" Persephone cried throwing herself into her mother's embrace.
Tears fell between them as they spoke in unison, two decades since they had seen each other, between the separation and the pain that she had endured. Standing in the doorway Viktor had fought instinct to rush to Persephone when she'd started thrashing but Charise needed to hold her again. It was a bitter sweet moment that they were finally back together.
"How-how did you find me?" Persephone asked wiping the tears from her eyes.
"Viktor found me, told me you were in his care and has kept me updated since you arrived. Oh baby I can't believe how you've grown. And I...I missed it because I didn't take you with me when I knew I should have." Her mother said feeling remorse for leaving her child behind.
"Mama I don't blame you for what you did, he would of had both of us if you'd stayed. Dad just stopped caring, he came to his senses for a while after you were gone but all to soon the tables called him back again. When the Master took me, he-he-he."Persephone trailed off as tears began to fall again.
Pulling her back close, Charise held her tight and rocked her back and forth.
"I didn't want to wait until morning. The others are at a hotel for the night and Viktor brought me straight here." Her mother smiled.
"Others?" She asked pushing back.
"About five years after your father, I met someone, and I had two kids, Persephone you have a brother and sister." Her mother smiled.
Persephone felt a ping in her chest, feeling hurt that she not only had siblings but that they had her mother's love and attention while she was left alone and afraid. Smiling Persephone feigned excitement for her mother's sake as she explained who they were. Her half brother was named Nikolas and her sister was named Athena. As she listened to how perfect her mother's new life had been all Persephone could see was everything she had to go without and endure, looking back at the door Viktor was gone, they lay in bed talking into the early hours while Viktor make arrangements for the party.
Persephone yawned as she pulled plates and glasses down from the cupboard.
"Your mother and step-father are...something." Ms. Carthanis said folding napkins.
Persephone said nothing as she looking at her half siblings. Athena was 10 and Niko was 17. They were sweet and happy, Persephone had been robbed of everything they were when she was a child. She was kind, spoke excitedly with her sister, but in her soul she wanted them to know her suffering. Protected from the evil in the world, protected by loving parents.
"Seph?" Ms. Carthanis said placing a hand on her shoulder.
Turning back she smiled, "I'm alright, just so bitter sweet. I don't want to be near my mother's new husband, and the kids are so innocent that if they ask about my life and where I've been that they'll be traumatized. I have so many feelings inside and not one is pure happiness for my mother or myself."
Leaning back against the counter she crossed her arms and looked at the mother figure who has shown her so much love in a single year.
"You know for someone who hasn't seen their mother is so long you have not once called her mama or mom, just mother." Ms. Carthanis said as Thena walked inside.
"Sissy where's the bathroom?" She asked taking off her sunglasses.
"Upstairs past the library to the left." Seph said pointing.
Once she was gone Seph groaned, she hated that name. Taking a deep breath they finished getting plates together. Looking at her watch, Seph tapped her fingers on the counter.
"Where's Viktor?" She asked.
"His office I'd assume. Go and drag him down and I don't think I saw Thena come down yet." Ms. Carthanis said handing a tray of glasses to Charice.
Seph went up a back staircase that lead to the side of the house where Viktor's office was. Walking down the hall she saw the bathroom door was open and, unused?
"Viktor? Are you coming downstairs today?" Seph called opening his office door and saw one of his men with a gun to a very terrified Thena's head.
Seph froze as she looked at him, his name was Anthony, but she called him Tony. He was one of Viktor's heavy hitters, he was there when she was taken from the Mansion. Fear tore through her as she saw the gun and Thena's face stained with tears and her jeans were wet.
"Tony let her go. I don't know what you're doing but Thena has nothing to do with it. Let her go and Viktor won't find out." Seph said putting her hands out.
"I was hoping you would be the first to come up but this little bitch was. So I'll be taking both of you and receive a larger payment." He smiled turning his glock on me.
My watch buzzed sensing a jump in my heart rate.
"Both of you move it." He said jerking his gun towards a door that lead down to the library.
Holding onto Thena, Seph assured her everything was going to be ok. Though scared herself Seph kept her half sister close to her as they were rushed down the winding staircase. Once they reached the library Thena tripped and Seph knelt down to help her up.
"Keep going." Tony snarled cocking the gun.
"She tripped, have mercy." Seph pleaded tucking Thena under her arm and slowly standing up.
Pointing the gun towards a book case Tony fired a single shot, "Move." He demanded.
Seph screamed and Thena started crying again. He ushered them to a waiting car.
Ms. Carthanis stopped setting the table when she heard an audible pop from the house. Looking back she started walking quickly towards the house until she saw Viktor pull up and get out of his car with a bag and a bouquet of balloons. He saw his maid standing between the party and the house, but he didn't see Persephone.
Ms. Carthanis lifted her skirts and ran towards the house at the sound of a second pop and terrified screams. Charice and Viktor followed. The smell of gun powder was heavy in the air as they followed the sound of screams to the library with Viktor in lead.
The smell of the freshly fired gun burned Persephone's nose as she and Thena were pushed Into the waiting car and locked inside. Holding onto each other as the car flew down the dirt path. Looking back Seph saw Viktor standing there at the door and she screamed for him.
Viktor ordered two of his men to cut off the car, but not to harm the girls. As they rushed to obey his orders his own driver ran up to him.
"Sir that was Anthony driving." He said handing him a phone connected to the house's security system and showed Tony taking the girls.
Seeing red his nostrils flared when he saw the gun pointed at Persephone. Looking up he saw two black SUV's flanking the small hatchback. His future in the back.
Seph kept Thena under her as they plowed through the front gates and down a paved road. The SUV's had been lost from sight and she lost hope. The Bluetooth connected to the car rang through. Looking upfront Seph didn't recognize the number, but the voice turned her blood to ice and her heart stopped completely.
"Do you have the bitch?" The Master snarled through the speakers.
"Yes sir, I also got Charice's new daughter so my payment has doubled." Tony smiled.
"Very well. Just bring me the bitch and you can take the rest of your payment from the other one." He said and hung up.
Seph clutched Thena knowing full well what The Master spoke of. Pulling her phone out of her pocket she slid it into Thena's and held her close.
"At the first stop you and I are going to make a run for it, I don't want the Master getting his hands on you. Don't wait for me just keep running and tell them to track my watch." Hugging Thena tight she waited for Tony to take a turn because she knew he wouldn't be stopping.
As he took the curve Seph pushed Thena out of the car telling her to tuck and roll. Tony cursed but didn't stop. He knew Viktor was on his tail, the girl would cause them to stop long enough for him to deliver Persephone and disappear.
Athena stood from the ground clutching the closest tree as tears ran down her face. Screeching breaks made her fall to the ground in the fetal position until she heard her mother.
"Mommy!" Athena cried as Charice clutched her tight.
"Where's Persephone?" Viktor Demanded looking down the hill into the leaves and around the road while Ms. Carthanis called out for her.
"She pushed me out to save me, she said to track her watch." Thena said handing Viktor the phone, "she saved me. She said she didn't want the master Man to get his hands on me."
Viktor froze at the mention of the vile beast that he'd beaten within an inch of his life, broken his legs, arm, four ribs, and even his jaw. Turning back to the child he had the fires of hell in his eyes.
"Are you sure that's what she said?" Viktor asked as the gps on Seph's phone pinged that she was still moving.
"She was terrified, her whole body turned to stone and than she shook like she took a dive in an ice pond." Thena said clutching Cherice.
A calming anger took over Viktor as he turned to his men and divided them, two were to take the women home and the rest were to come with him. No one left clean of the Master's and Tony's blood. Climbing into the SUV's they followed the gps to Persephone, Viktor wanted blood and this time he wouldn't stop until he bathed in it.
Clutching her knees Persephone rocked back and forth as she tried to find light in the darkness. Her watch was buzzing on her wrist yet that gave her little comfort, she was back in his hands and terrified of each second. Listening to the footsteps she kept hearing the hit of a cane on the floor, Master was weak. The creaking of the opening door and the light flooding in blinded her.
"Welcome back. I must say you have done well for yourself, you are the whore I trained you to be. " He smiled leaning on the wooden cane she remembered so well.
Hiding her face she refused to look up at him, show no fear and refusal to look at him would end in a beating. He knelt down next to her and pulled her face from her knees, he took pleasure in seeing her tear stained face.
"You will look at me. Viktor will not save you, in fact when he finds you or if he does, it'll have been too late. You took my business, my home, everything and I plan to return the favor to the Alpha of the East." He smiled and slapped Persephone.
There was half the power behind the swing but it still stung a little, glancing back at the cane Persephone knocked it from under him and ran towards the door. Getting into what looked like a cabin she ran to the door and cursed at the padlock. Cursing she ran to the back of the cabin and started pulling on the door.
"Help. Someone help me!" Seph screamed yanking at the door.
To no avail the door wouldn't budge, a loud pop sounded and a blunt object went flying past her catching her arm, the burning of the bullet flying out of her arm. Turning she saw the Master clutching a smoking revolver. The evil smile told her he had been waiting a long time to shoot her.
"No one can hear you. There isn't anyone for miles." He smiled cocking the gun again.
Clutching her arm, fear gripped her heart, Seph couldn't breath, couldn't move. Running was futile he would just shoot her. Sliding to the floor she looked over and saw Tony with a bullet between his eyes. Shutting her eyes tight she heard two bangs of the gun and pain shot up from her leg, tears began streaming down her face as she screamed again, only this time she cried for Viktor.
The silence greeted her as she sent out a silent prayer, as she always had, to let it be quick. She was starting to feel cold, she was losing blood and quick. Her prayers often left unanswered. Persephone drifted as she heard squealing tires outside, opening her eyes as best she could Seph was able to see the human battering ram splinter the front door with his men in tow.
"Viktor." Seph whispered as the Master lifted the gun to fire a killing blow only to have one planted between his own eyes.
Viktor ran to her side and started tying off her leg to stop the bleeding. Persephone closed her eyes and slumped against Viktor. She was cold, but still alive. Wrapping her in his jacket he held her in the front seat while his men set the cabin ablaze with Master inside. The drive to the hospital was a blur. When they arrived Viktor was covered in Seph's blood, her lips were blue and she had stopped talking to him.
"Persephone." A doctor called after three hours.
Viktor flew from his chair and felt his heart in his throat when he saw the doctor covered in blood.
"Is she...?" Viktor trailed off.
"They are fine. It was close but mom and baby are fine. We have Persephone on a blood transfusion to replace what was lost, you can go and see her one at a time she's still weak and a few revelations are new so take it easy." The doctor said and left.
Viktor stood still as everyone else went to make a line outside Persephone's room. They? Mom and Baby? Persephone was..was...his mind melted as he looked at the line outside the room, it would be a while before he had his time.
Ms. Carthanis walked over to Viktor after she had made sure Seph was well, he had let her go first. At first she hadn't understood why he wouldn't want to be the only one in the room and than she saw the protective hand Seph had on her stomach and the glowing smile. Though still very pale she had a beaming smile.
"I haven't told my mom yet and I haven't seen Viktor to tell him. The doctor told me once I woke up." She smiled, "I'm still in the early stages, but there is a tiny ball of love inside me."
"And they are safe, that's what is important." Ms. Carthanis smiled placing her hand over Seph's.
After discussing to go look for cradles once she was released and strong enough Ms. Carthanis left and sat next to Viktor. Whom was still at a loss for words, his late wife couldn't conceive due to the chemo. They had tried so hard to have children, but instead the garden on the grounds was where her nurture was spent.
"She wants to see you. Everyone else has left for the night, Cherice left to make sure Thena was going to be ok. She wants to share the news of the fighter she's carrying." Ms. Carthanis said and left herself.
Viktor watched a nurse walk into her room and come back out and towards him.
"Viktor someone wants to see you." She smiled and went back to the desk.
Viktor stood and made his way to her room. He never thought he'd be hesitant for anything, in his life he would never wait, never second guess anything. Yet here he stood just beyond her line of site not setting foot inside.
"Ah! You must be the father. I was just about to set Persephone up with her prenatals and I wasn't sure if she had a doctor or not." A young nurse smiled behind him.
Turning around he saw the woman dressed in infant themed scrubs, lifting an eyebrow he followed her inside.
"Viktor." Seph shot up smiling.
His heart sank seeing her hooked up to all the monitors and her arm bandaged. To his amusement she was still holding her stomach where- where his child was growing. Pride fluttered in his stomach as he walked over and sat in the chair next to her bed as the nurse explained the vitamins and precautions to take.
"Persephone?" Another doctor called in wheeling a machine with a large screen.
"Ah! Just in time I was just finishing up. This is Dr. Haiver and she's here to check on baby and see how far you are so we can get a date set up for the little one's arrival. If we're lucky we can hear the heart beat." She smiled closing the door behind the dr.
Viktor helped Seph lay on her back, carful not to break the stitches or cause any discomfort. Her gown was moved up and the dr put the toggle on her lower abdomen and slide around waiting to hear. Viktor closed his eyes and held her hand, holding his breath he waited. He began to look back on today and how it could have gone differently, than he heard it.
Looking up he saw a small dot, around the size of a pea. And all he seemed to hear was their heart beat. He kisses Seph's knuckles as he kept his eyes on the screen, she had tears streaming down her face as she looked at the joy growing inside her. Viktor kissed her stomach and stood up. Setting up a dr to come to the house and calling Ms. Carthanis to move Persephone's things into his room, and to inform Charice that Seph would remain in his care from here on out. No arguments.
Seph was released two days later and was home going insane the following two weeks because Viktor refused to let her even lift a finger around the house. Even Ms. Carthanis refused to let her push a mop around. Standing in the kitchen Seph was cooking with Ian, one of Viktor's new guns, sitting at the counter eating just about everything she placed in front of him. Her body already showing the proof of pregnancy that Viktor seemed to like keeping his ear to as if the baby were already telling him secrets.
"Kore, have you found out what your having yet?" Ian asked playing with his coffee cup.
"Yes, I'm having a little girl but I haven't told Viktor yet. I'm leaving clues around the house to see if he can guess." She smiled placing her hand on her babygirl.
"Well I'll tell Mac because they wanted to buy baby clothes and they needed to know what gender otherwise they were going neutral colors." Ian smiled referring to his partner.
"Oh and let them know that I plan on doing a library theme in the nursery! Books and such." Seph smiled. She adored Mac, they was non-binary which meant that Mac had no gender identity. You referred to Mac as they/them.
He pulled out his phone and sent the text to his partner. Seph went back to cooking down the rhubarb and strawberries. Setting the filling in the fridge once it cooled Seph walked into the room across from her's and Viktor's, he'd made sure all her things were in his room when she got home, now the spare room across the hall would be the nursery for the little girl growing inside her. Sitting in the pink rocking chair Persephone looked at Viktor's back while he put the crib together.
"Tell me again why we need three cribs." Seph said calling his attention.
"One for the nursery for when the baby is old enough for their own room, one for our room while the baby is still small and the third is a bassinet for naps in the library with mommy." He smiled walking over and kneeling in front of her.
Seph ran her fingers through his hair as he cooed at her stomach. They had talked about children when she had come home, he spoke about the struggles he and his late wife had gone to to have some, but to no avail. He was over protective and made sure she did everything by the book, there were arguments, minor ones that were fixed later in bed.
"Do you have a name picked out?" Viktor asked reaching for a small bag.
"Brynlee Amilia." Seph smiled.
"A little girl? You will be so protected my lovely babygirl, mommy and daddy will love you. Till death do us part." He smiled pulling a small box out.
Seph was lost as she looked at the diamond staring at her, looking back at Viktor he watched her with expectancy in his eyes. Picking up the small ring she smiled.
"Till death and beyond." Seph smiled and he kissed her as they placed the ring on her hand.
Happiness was finally theirs, for now and forever. They would continue to grow the family and be there when the other needed it.