Happy Valentine’s Day!
As a gift to celebrate the holiday of love, I am bringing you a short story of when the Lycan Volkov twins have their sixteenth birthday party. I hope you enjoy reading how the girls are on the cusp of womanhood.
Caryn Moya Block
“Sweet Sixteen? What does that even mean?” Katya asked. She lay on the bed in the room she’d shared with her twin sister since the day they were born.
“Mom says it means we are becoming women. She said the saying is ‘sweet sixteen and never been kissed’,” Karina said, sitting in front of the vanity mirror and putting on make-up.
“But we’ve been kissed before. Dedushka kisses us every night.”
“No, silly, kissed by a boy. Like on a date,” Karina sighed.
Katya laughed and rolled onto her side to look at her sister. “No one is left our age to date. Dad sent them all to America or England.” Her heart constricted when she thought of Illarion, her childhood friend. She hadn’t seen him for almost two years now.
“I know, but at least we get to have a party to celebrate becoming women. Babba Yallena is making all our favorite party foods and Uncle Kolya is gathering a band, so we can dance. It should be fun.”
Fun? Maybe. “Will be get presents?” Katya asked.
“It’s our birthday, we always get presents,” Karina said, making a face in the mirror.
Katya rolled back to stare at the ceiling. She hadn’t asked for anything special this year. What would her parents gift her?
“Katya, Karina, dinner!” Their grandmother called from downstairs.
“You better wash off that make-up,” Katya warned. “Dad won’t like it.”
“Mom said she was going to talk to him about it. How can we learn to be women if we can’t wear make-up,” Karina said, her voice rising in tone.
Katya rolled from the bed and headed for the door. Babushka didn’t like dinner to be kept waiting.
“Let’s go, Karina.” She glanced back to see her sister run a brush through her long hair.
“Right behind you.”
Several nights later, Katya daringly put on her fist ever dollop of lip-gloss. She puckered and spread the strawberry flavored goop across her lips before looking in the mirror to check her heavy dark hair hadn’t fallen from the pins holding it up on her head.
“You look beautiful,” Karina said, coming up behind her.
Katya laughed. “I think you might be biased.”
“Not at all, we both know I’m the prettier identical twin.” They both laughed at the old joke.
“I’m not sure about walking over to the meeting hall in these heels,” Katya said, looking down at the pale pink pumps that matched her ice pink dress.
Karina’s outfit was ice blue. They’d tossed a coin and Karina had won the right to pick her dress first. Katya didn’t really mind. She wasn’t sure about this ‘sweet sixteen’ party their mother had insisted they needed to celebrate.
“Dedushka is waiting downstairs with a cart. We don’t need to walk. Are you ready?” Karina asked her eyes sparkling. Her infectious enthusiasm made Katya smiled.
“Yes, let’s go.”
They both walked downstairs to find their grandfather waiting by the door. He bowed low and swept his arm out. “Your carriage awaits, ladies.”
Karina giggled and Katya rolled her eyes, but she smiled. Their family was going all out tonight to make this a special evening. Outside the Alpha’s lodge waited a beautiful open carriage with blue velvet seats waiting to be pulled by two white horses. Flowers and ribbons decorated the back.
“It’s beautiful!” Karina exclaimed.
“Only the best for you, princess,” their grandfather said, opening the door and helping them inside. Then he climbed in front and took up the reins.
The ride lasted less than five minutes, but it was fun waiving at the people along the way. Karina made sure Katya’s wave was properly regal. They pulled up to the meeting hall and their grandfather once more played coachman, helping them down. At the door, their father stood waiting. Katya smiled shyly at the man she loved the best in the whole world. He had dressed in a suit and tie for the occasion. His eyes looked suspiciously damp when he walked over and offered both his arms to his daughters.
“You two look lovely tonight. I can’t believe where the time has gone. Once you were gangly teens, now I see two beautiful women.”
“Thank you, papa,” Katya said, taking his arm. Karina took the other and Dmitry escorted his daughters into the building.
They both gasped when they saw how the meeting hall had been transformed. Paper flowers and streamers decorated the ceiling and festooned down the walls. Tables, filled with food, set against one side. Their uncle’s band sat on a small raised platform on the other side of the room. Someone played a trill on a horn and everyone turned to look at them. Their father stopped near the center of the space and dropped their arms. Their mother, Violet, joined them, kissing both girls before standing proudly next to their father.
“May we present our firstborn daughter, Katya, and her twin sister, Karina. Tonight we celebrate their sixteenth birthday. Join us in wishing them well.”
Everyone in the room clapped and Katya and Karina both curtseyed. The band began a dance tune. Their grandfather walked up and offered Karina his hand leading her onto the dance floor. Dmitry turned to Katya.
“May I have the first dance?”
“Of course, papa.” She placed her hand on his shoulder and her father swept her into a waltz.
Violet encouraged the guests and soon others joined them on the floor. Katya loved dancing and her father smiled and teased her while they glided along. The music was over too soon and they both stopped.
“I think I owe your sister a dance now,” Dmitry said. Katya nodded.
“She would be hurt if you didn’t ask her.”
It was Dmitry’s turn to nod. “Why don’t you try some of the food? Your grandmother made some of your favorite desserts.”
“Don’t worry, I plan to enjoy every morsel,” Katya said, eyeing the tables. Dmitry chuckled and walked away to find Karina.
Katya took several steps when a hand touched her arm. She turned and looked up into bright blue eyes that stared at her with a look that took her breath away.
“Illarion?” she gasped.
“I couldn’t miss your party. May I have this dance?”
Katya couldn’t speak. She was too busy looking at the boy she knew who had turned into a man. He wore a dark blue suit that set off his eyes. His blond hair was cut, but a lock still fell rakishly across his forehead. She nodded her acceptance and he took her into his arms. His scent of the forest on a summer day filled her senses. For a moment a golden light twinkled between them, but then it was gone. Katya’s wolf spirit wiggled in delight inside her.
Illarion smiled and Katya felt her knees weaken. He swept her along in the dance, his hands warm against her, holding her safe. She couldn’t think, she could only feel his nearness and drink him in like she was dying of thirst. When they approached a side entrance, Illarion took her hand and led her outside into the night. The stars twinkled in the sky. He put his arm around her shoulder and held her close as they followed the path into the woods.
“I missed you,” Katya whispered, finally finding her voice again.
“I missed you, too,” Illarion said. He stopped and turned toward her, his arm going from around her shoulders to around her waist.
“I didn’t expect this.” He glanced down her body, his eyes warming her insides. “You’ve become a woman.”
“Have I?” Katya asked. “I don’t feel that different from yesterday.”
Suddenly, she did feel different, her face warmed, her skin tingled. Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed. More than anything she wanted Illarion to kiss her. She licked her lips, tasting the strawberry sweetness. Did Illarion like strawberries?
“You look different. Last I saw you, you were just starting to mature. You still ran around like a tomboy, climbing trees and racing the wind. But now…”
“Now?” Katya asked.
Illarion pulled her closer until she pressed against him. Her hands went to his chest and she rubbed her fingers over the fabric. Illarion stared into her eyes, his gaze thoughtful and serious. Then he began to lower his head. Katya lifted her face wanting, no, needing his lips on hers.
“Katya!” Dmitry said, coming up behind them. Katya jumped in surprise. Illarion let her go, stepping back. “Go back inside. This party is for you and your guests are waiting.”
Katya looked at Illarion and then glanced at her father. He looked upset.
“Yes, papa,” she said.
She forced herself to turn away, when all she wanted to do was stay. Stay and feel these new things Illarion had stirred up inside her. Neither one of the men spoke as they both watched her walk to the building. Illarion looked resigned, while Dmitry stood vibrating in anger.
Katya sighed and stepped into the meeting hall. The party continued like nothing had happened. Everything was the same, but somehow it had lost its luster. Her mother waited at the door.
“Katya, honey,” she said, taking her hand, “come try the Russian tea cakes. You know they’re my favorite.”
Katya brushed at her face and pushed back the need to cry.
“Yes, mama,” she answered, as her mother ushered her to the tables across the room.
“Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed,” Katya murmured. Now, she wished she’d never understood what that meant.
Book one of the Volkov Family Chronicles
Katya Volkov is all grown-up and working in New York City. She has the unfortunate title of “Ice Princess” because she can’t get past friendship with a man. The only one she ever loved, Illarion Lebedev, left Siberia when she was sixteen and she hasn’t seen him since. Unwilling to return to Siberia, she worked hard for the last four years at Sunrise Advertising. Now a vice-president, she’s finally accomplished a level of success she’s comfortable with. But what does success really mean when you’re all alone at the top?
Illarion Lebedev has secretly watched over Katya since she came to America to go to college. He’s proud of everything she has accomplished. Now that his plans are coming together and he’s taking over as the new CEO of Sunrise Advertising, he’s ready to finally claim his mate. But wooing the “Ice Princess” will take more than his good looks and social position. It will take a love strong enough to thaw her wounded heart.