I’m surrounded by my pack mates at all time and I know Darius has planted his men all around us.
My mate agrees not to stay too close to me as not to make it obvious how my appearance is bothering him. I know it pains him to do so, but we can’t afford to have our plan to blow up in our faces. I reach over and grab Eva by the hand before she moves away with Darius.
“Where are you going?” asks Caspian as soon as I step away from his side.
“We’re at a ball. I’m going to dance,” I tell him as I lead Eva to the dance floor. I just need to talk to Eva. I can feel my mate’s eyes burning holes through the side of my skull. If it’s up to him, I would be chained to the wall in a locked room, up in a tower. Never to be seen or heard of again.
“Is this the first time you’ve ever attended a party here?” I ask Eva as we both glide to the dance floor. I don’t stray too far from my pack and my mate, though. I’m not stupid…well, not too stupid.
“Party? This is my very first time at Banehallow Palace. Ever. I don’t know if you knew this, Penny but very few commoners like me ever step foot in this palace.”
Funny, I never thought of that. “Really?” I twirl her around then pull her right back.
I know my mate is watching me so I put my hand on top of my his mark on my chest, then I lightly touch my ear.
“How do you like it so far?” I ask her. I caught the sight of my mate rubbing his nose and I stifle a laugh. Yup, he’d like to rip some men’s head off just for looking at me.
“It’s magnificent. Better than I ever imagined,” answers Eva as she tilts her head up to look at the glimmering chandelier above our heads.
She places her hands on my hips and lead us to the side where it’s more private. She leans in and whispers very quietly, “I know you’re not really mated to the Prince and I don’t know what’s going on, but I trust you know what you’re doing.”
She looks worried. If this gets out, I don’t know how much trouble I’m going to be in. If the king and the queen found out, I’d probably be rotting in the dungeon seven levels underground for hundreds of years until I turn into a prune. I’m already in enough trouble as it is. There are people out to kill me.
“Yes,” I whisper back. I hope we do. “We’re trusting you, Eva. I hope this wouldn’t get out.”
“No, it wouldn’t. I already had a talk with your mate, Commander Rykov. My loyalty is with the Prince and my General commander.”
I stand back and look at Eva. She is very straightforward kind of person, almost like me. Sure, I felt like killing her before when she propositioned my mate for sex as a physical release, but I always knew that I could trust her.
“And don’t worry, I don’t offer physical release to men whom I know are taken. I always draw the line where I seek my…pleasure,” she says, smiling. I almost laugh. This woman is almost like a man when it comes to sex. I know I could never do that.
“Good, otherwise we might have a big problem,” I tell her, with a grin. I’m not kidding, though. I really meant what I just said. We’ll have a huge problem if she ever made an offer to my mate again.
“He’s not interested in my offers anyways,” she says, shrugging her shoulders dismissively. She seems not at all bothered by it. “Besides, I spent enough time to know your brand of crazy not to get on your bad side. So, I say no to a big problem with Penny.
“I have to say, though…that dress is giving my commander…uh, a bad case of a… err…uhh..headache.”
“Headache?” I whisper-squeak. I was so sure she’s about to say something else.
“Yes,” she says firmly. “He’s totally unlike his cool self. He’s been growling the whole night and I feel like a guard trying to hold him back from hurting men who even look at you tonight,” she explains. There’s a glimmer or amusement and mirth in her eyes. “Please go easy on him.”
“Tell him to behave. He might get a reward for being a good boy later tonight.” I give her a wink.
“You’re the devil, I swear.” She laughs softly. “Anyway, I’ll be across the room with him. I’ll try to keep him from charging in and snapping the neck of the next male who looks at you.”
“Yeah, I can see that happening,” I say, remembering how he was touching his nose earlier. That’s our sign for when he’s feeling like ripping the heads off some men for just looking at me. His expression was so serious, I’m not too sure if he was just kidding.
“I’ll try to keep him from killing anyone,” Eva promises, patting my arm before we both take a step back away from each other and I nod my head as she curtsies.
I become aware of someone stepping closer to Eva and me before I hear his voice. “Your Highness.” I raise my eyes to look into a pair of dark brown eyes on a face so familiar yet so alien. “We meet again,” says Æmilius.
He gives Eva a little dismissive wave of his hand while keeping his eyes solely on me. Well, that’s kind of rude.
Eva seems hesitant and reluctant to leave my side. She stares at him in bemusement then she looks at me as if asking me if I’d rather she stays.
I smile and nod my head, assuring her that it’s okay for her to leave even though I’d rather she stays. Why wouldn’t it be okay, he’s Darius’s cousin, right?
As soon as Eva leaves, he steps in closer and suddenly he’s much too close. The intense look in his eyes makes me feel a little uneasy.
He leans in and whispers, “I know your little secret, Princess.”
What? My body stiffened and my heart stops beating for a beat before it starts to pound uncontrollably fast. I try to even my breathing and regulate my heartbeat while keeping my eyes on him.
My heart is still beating fast as I shift my gaze beyond Æmilius’s shoulder to scan around the room and encounter my pack mates’ eyes watching me intently not far away. All five pairs of them. I don’t see Darius anywhere so far. I’m sure he has moved further, but I know he is watching me closely somewhere in this room. I can feel it. Caspian is staring at me with that cold look, but as he’s about to step towards us, Æmilius takes my hand with a little bow and says, “Dance with me, my princess.”
He proceeds to steer me to the dance floor then pulls me close. He places one hand on my hip while tightening his grasp on my hand. I have no choice but to put my other hand on his upper arm.
What secret does he know? Does he know that I’m mated to his cousin?
I give him a tiny smile and school my features to look bored and amused. “What secret, sir? I’m an open book.”
“Please, call me Æmilius, Princess,” he says, with a smile that would’ve charmed countless of other women. The way the word “Princess” rolls off his tongue makes it sound like an endearment rather than a title. “On the contrary, you’re hardly an open book, Your Highness. I think you’re exotic, mysterious, and absolutely fascinating.”
“Do you really now?” I lift an eyebrow. I don’t really want to be dancing with him now but I need to know what it is that he knows about me.
His lips lift up at the corners while his eyes are watching me closely. I’ve seen that similar smile and that intense gaze from my mate so many times…it feels strange.
“I know that you’re attracted to my cousin. I’ve watched you during dinner last night. I didn’t see much reaction from my cousin, but I’ve got a feeling that it’s not one-sided,” he says.
“That’s absurd,” I tell him. “I’m mated to Prince Caspian.”
“That doesn’t mean anything,” he says, shrugging his massive shoulders as if it’s not a big deal or a big secret.
“I intend to stay faithful to my mate,” I tell him.
“Do you? For how long?” He smiles skeptically.
I watch him with narrowed eyes. “You’ve done this before…you’ve slept with mated women,” I hiss.
He throws his head back and laughs as if I just said the funniest thing he’s ever heard.
“Oh, goddess…you and my cousin have more in common than you know. You two should be perfect for each other. Noble and honorable…or very naive,” he says after he’s done laughing. “Pardon me, Your Highness, but everybody knows that you and the Prince are not each other’s erasthais. Mates who aren’t erasthais cheat on each other, all the time, Princess.
“With a fiery temper like yours, I doubt you can stay loyal to your mate for very long when you’re attracted to another,” he muses.
He’s so close to the truth that I don’t dare say a word.
“But then again, I know my cousin well. I know he’s very loyal, especially to his royal highness Prince Caspian, so I don’t think anything will come off it,” he observes. I shift uneasily. I don’t know whether to feel relief or worried. At least he still thinks that I’m mated to Caspian. On the other hand, it might be just a matter of time before he figured it out.
“I’m being told I look a lot like my cousin, maybe even better looking,” he says, lightly touching the side of my face as if he’s pushing a strand of my hair behind my ear. Now I can feel the heat of Darius’s gaze burning the side of my face and I almost flinch.
He suddenly leans in close…much too close. His breath is fanning my skin, his lips almost touching my ear. His hand moves from my hip to the small of my back. I can feel the brush of his fingers through the sheer fabric of my dress.
“So why don’t you take it up with me, Princess?” he whispers smoothly. “I’m interested and very….willing.” Oh, wow…and very brazen. My breath caught in my throat and my eyes flicker up over Æmilius’s shoulder to encounter a pair of glacier blue eyes staring coldly back from across the room.
***************** I want to let you know that I’m putting my chapters on my blog right now because I know a lot of you are having trouble reading them on Wattpad. This is just a temporary thing. If you have trouble reading my updates in the future or want to read more chapters, just go to https://inkitt.app.link/RA_NicoleRidd3y
You’ll find my latest updates there.
My Rant, Vent, Words of Wisdom (Yeah Right) or Whatever You Want to Call it.
My neighbors run out on the street yelling Happy New Year at midnight….in their underwear out in the snow. Hoards of them. Every year.
Some of them even do “Polar Bear Dipping” in the frozen river nearby in minus something degrees Celcius, early morning on 1st of Jan. They would jump into the frozen river in their swimsuit or some in nothing at all, swim across, then back again.
See, I don’t have a problem with this, in fact, I’d cheer them on. It’s all in the name of fun. However, I could never see myself doing it. Being cold equals torture to me.
If I didn’t go anywhere on a New Year’s Eve, I would sit in front of my window with a warm mug of tea in my hand, watching people running by. They look like they’re having a lot of fun.
On 1st of January, I would sit in my warm car, waiting for my crazy friends who decide to join the Polar Bear Dip.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out…maybe I should try it. Once. Maybe not…brrrr.