Corrine smiled again and squeezed my hand. “She’s back. With her baby. She’s with Kyle in the Catacombs.”
Her baby… I dreaded to think how traumatic that must have been without her family there to help her through it.
Derek and I were stunned silent that Kiev had indeed helped Anna. But the truth was, no matter what outside confirmation we got, we still found it impossible to trust Kiev. We were still looking for excuses why we shouldn’t trust him.
I thought back again to the Kiev I’d spent time with almost two decades ago. He had surprised me by letting me go back in Aviary. I also remembered Kiev had struggled with himself sometimes while I was his captive in The Blood Keep. But unlike Derek, he’d always given into his darker tendencies. He’d seemed to take pleasure in his darkness. And that was the main difference between that red-eyed monster and the monster I’d ended up marrying.
But now that he stood before me, green-eyed, having saved us from the dungeon as well as returned our dearest Anna to us… I just didn’t know what to make of the situation any more.
I wondered whether maybe after all these years, Kiev really had changed.
I was dying to hear his whole story. I hoped that it would make it easier for me to accept his behavior now with gratitude rather than with suspicion. I wanted to know everything that had happened to him since he left Aviary, how on earth he’d come upon Anna, and why he had returned her to us. But I guessed that this would be a story far too long to hear now.
Until now Kiev and Mona had displayed no sign of being anything but allies. I decided to put thoughts of Kiev aside for the moment, since I was burning to find Anna and my children.
Shooting one last glance Kiev’s way, I grabbed Derek’s hand and pulled him away. He followed me reluctantly, looking back over his shoulder at Kiev and his siblings. Looking around the clearing, I spotted my father a few feet away. I led Derek toward my father and we all got up and ran into the woods. We didn’t slow until we reached the entrance to the Catacombs. I could barely contain my excitement as we hurried from chamber to chamber greeting all the humans who cheered as we entered. It wasn’t until we reached the fifth storage chamber that I saw the faces I was looking for.
“Ben! Rose!” I exclaimed as we made our way through the room. They leapt up as soon as they saw us, smiles splitting their faces. Derek and I took turns hugging each of them. I kissed their heads, breathing in the smell of their hair.
I turned to face Griffin, still holding Rose’s hand tightly in mine. “Griff,” I said, placing a hand on the redhead’s shoulder. “Your mother has returned. Go home and see her.”
Relief washed over his face. “Thanks, Sofia,” he said and rushed out of the chamber.
Derek turned to face the other humans. “It’s safe to go back to your homes now,” he said, his baritone voice echoing off the stone walls. “The storm has passed… for now.”
We walked from chamber to chamber informing the rest of the humans, and as everyone began leaving the Catacombs, we followed.
“Where’s Anna?” I asked, failing to spot her among the crowds.
“There,” Ben said, pointing toward the crowds nearing the entrance. I spotted her in time to see her head disappear out of the entrance along with Kyle.
I rushed ahead with Derek, the twins following closely behind. “Anna!” I shouted.
She turned around, beaming as she spotted me. I gushed to see her cradling her sleeping newborn. Kyle’s warmth had returned to his face as had Ariana’s and Jason’s. I bent down to kiss her baby boy’s soft head.
“He’s beautiful,” I whispered. Anna looked terribly thin for a mother who’d just given birth, although her baby appeared to be a healthy weight. “What happened?” I asked, unsure whether she’d want to start talking about her ordeal now, but unable to keep in the question any longer.
She averted her eyes to the ground, then closed them. “Sofia,” she said, reaching for my hand. “I really don’t want to talk about it just yet. It’s such a long story. I promise, I’ll tell you everything later, but I just need to be with my family. I need to recover, and I don’t want to think about that right now.”
“Of course,” I said, squeezing her hand. I looked at her baby again whom Kyle had now taken in his arms. “What’s his name?”
Anna paused a moment, shooting a sideways glance at Kyle, who rolled his eyes even as a small smile crossed his lips. “Kiev,” she muttered, averting her eyes to the grass.
“What?” Derek blurted out, his voice rising to soprano.
I was speechless.
“Why would you damn your baby with a name like that?” Derek looked at Kyle this time, as if hoping he would listen to reason even if his wife wouldn’t.
Anna chuckled and looked up at us, grinning. “You can bet it wasn’t easy for me to convince Kyle either.” She shot Kyle another teasing glance. Then her face became serious, her lip trembling. Her voice dropped to almost a whisper. “But you don’t know what we went through, this baby and I… You don’t know how close the two of us came to death’s door.”
She paused and shut her eyes tight. I was now dying even more to hear her story. “Let’s just say,” she said, clearing her throat and trying to steady her voice, “that I owe Kiev—and his girlfriend—more than any of my family can repay.”
My throat had dried out.