“It’s possible.” Uncle Theo said quietly, his words a mere whisper. All heads turned to him. He simply shrugged.
“Don’t look at me like that, they were forgotten, never dead.” He put it so bluntly, I almost blew a fuse. How dare he talk about death and my mate in the same sentence?
Grey, as if sensing my unease placed a hand on my shoulder, more for restraint than for comfort but it did the trick. Sienna broke the silence first and asked, “How is it possible?”
“Well, they didn’t go extinct, it must be the only explanation. Hidden away for generations to come and the knowledge dies away but the powers still remain. And her specific powers - she was just...lucky.” I spoiled my face.
“Lucky?! Lucky! She can’t even use a fourth of her energy without passing out! She’s just learned of us, just forgiven me, had to accept so much and now I have to tell her that she is one of the very very few people in the world who has powers? And not just that! The powers might kill her if she doesn’t understand how to control them!”
“Calm down, King.” Sienna’s sharp tone comes from across the room and I want to break something. I settled for staring at the wall behind her, and reigning in my anger.
“Can we find someone who can help us with this?” Daniella spoke up after staying silent for a long time and Hank nodded, “I already called one of the subjects from court, his grandfather met a few of them, from the third era and he thinks he can help us.”
“He thinks or he is sure?” I grit out, I didn’t need people from my court right now.
“I don’t know, but at this point anything that can help is welcome.” Hank answered.
“They don’t know she’s my mate yet.” I blurted out, feeling more and more agitated by the minute. All heads turned to me and I spun around in a groan, putting my head in my hands. Nobody spoke a word, nobody breathed. Nobody moved. Everyone just waited for me to explain myself because good Kings are answerable to their people.
“I haven’t told the rest of the council apart from you guys that she is my mate.” I told them, repeating my earlier words.
“Why?” Theo asked, breaking the silence and I turned around to face them again.
“I just - I wanted to give her as much time as I could before she was thrown into my world. Do you not know what will happen once they find out? There will immediately be a coronation, the elders will want her to shift, she will have to handle pack matters and everything that comes with being my mate.”
“Surely she knows this? You have told her that she must turn into one of us, haven’t you?” Sienna whispered, looking at me through wide eyes and I looked away.
“I’ve told her it’s an option, should she choose it.”
“Oh, Reece.” Daniella whispered, shaking her head.
“Reece, we get that you want to protect her, but this is not the way. She needs to know everything. She needs to know the full story. Her life is going to change and this is not a change that you can ease her into!” Theo scolded me. Even though I was the King, Uncle Theo had raised me to be who I was today.
“I know!” I barked, I felt like I was losing my grip on reality.
“Even if you didn’t, don’t you think that after the whole Brianna situation she might have gone and blabbed?” Grey asked me and I shook my head. ” I know her, she probably wanted this news to be as contained as possible, for damage control.” At this Grey nodded. At least I had one thing right.
“I have got to tell her soon.” I mumbled finally, falling back onto the couch and looking up at the bedroom where my Flora was with Noori and Nate.
“She’s a strong woman. She’ll handle it well.” Hank supplied, coming and falling in next to me. “I will make something up about who she is, till you talk to her.” He added and I gave him a nod.
“We’ll say that she just happened to cross paths with us and that is how we found out about her powers or something-”
“But they’ll be suspicious. The council remembers her for sure. It’s too big a coincidence. They might think she’s back to manipulate you into her life again.” Theo told me and I felt my nostrils flare.
“DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR QUEEN LIKE THAT!”
“All I’m saying is that it isn’t going to be believable. Calm down, Alpha, I’m only trying to help.”
“THEY DON’T HAVE A SAY IN WHO SHE IS! THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE HAD A SAY BEFORE EITHER!” I didn’t even hear him.
“Yes King, Elder Theo is just trying to-”
“SHE IS MY MATE AND NOBODY QUESTIONS IT THIS TIME!” The small things in the room began to shake. The small painting at the door was the first to fall off the hooks. I could feel my anger in my hands, oozing out through my fingertips and moving into the things around me, shaking them. I wanted to tear something apart, break things into pieces, shred stuff. I wanted to vent.
Noori knew exactly what she had to say to make me forget my anger. Ignoring them all I was about to head up the stairs when my werewolf ears picked up loud footsteps and some shouting in the far end of the corridor. Everyone’s head turned to the sounds - like me they had advanced hearing too. And we knew who was coming. The doors burst open and a very angry person barged in, followed by two of my guards.
“Where is she?!”
I groaned again, giving my guards the stink eye.
“She’s right here Xena, in the room upstairs.” I said as calmly as possible, which wasn’t much.
You couldn’t hold one tiny human away from this room?! I yelled at the guards through mindlink.
“What have you done to her?!” The accusation hit a nerve and everyone in the room stiffened.
We’re sorry, King. She just made a scene in front of everyone and we couldn’t do much. They did sound terrified.
I tried to be polite again, out of respect for my mate. “Nothing, Xena. She fainted, so we got our best doctors up there with her.” Without another word, she dashed up the stairs, shoving past Grey, who’s hand was still on my shoulder. He gave a little growl, but otherwise let her up the stairs. I was sure that Nate and Noori would have heard it all and knew she was coming.
And then the single worst possible thing happened. Suddenly one clear voice was ringing in all our ears just as Xena made it to the topmost step.
The door to the room whipped open and Nate stepped out, his pupils dilated and his nose in the air. His eyes were black and he was not Nate. Behind him, Noori moved quickly, but it was not quickly enough. It all happened so fast. None of us knew how to react. If our movements were too quick then Xena would suspect something. If they weren’t fast enough the Nate, who looked almost at the edge of his control would spill something like-
“Mate. You’re my soulmate.” Nate whispered, but it might as well have been a shout in this silent room. Luckily for us, Xena didn’t give him one second of attention. Instead, she pushed past him, and Noori, and ran straight into the room. No second look behind at the guy who no longer resembled a human.
Everyone unfroze. Noori turned her brother towards the stairs just as he was about to follow Xena into the room. Hank was halfway up the stairs already, and together the two of them managed to get him to the bottom of the room. From there Grey and Hank pulled him away, one of them keeping a firm hand on his mouth to prevent him from screaming.
He wouldn’t be reasoned with right now. Werewolves were illogical when it came to their mate. Some had even lesser control on their wolves, and for them there was nothing in the world except their mate. I could understand his frustration. I could feel his pain and agitation as they pushed him out of the room, and dragged him elsewhere. When he calmed down he would thank them for not freaking Xena out. From the looks of it she had no idea that we were werewolves and this would definitely have her running for the hills.
I made my way up the stairs, just as Noori entered the room herself. Xena was leaning over my mate, concern marring her features. She turned her head when we entered and her expression immediately morphed into one of anger. “Why is it that every time she’s with you, she’s either sick? Hurts her hand? Faints?” The accusation was clear.
I felt a sharp stab at her words. It wasn’t because she was such a close friend and I wanted to win her approval. But because of how accurate her words had been. Was I only hurting Flora with my presence? I took a step back.
Noori sucked in a sharp breath. “Don’t talk to him like that! This isn’t his fault!”
“Sure doesn’t seem that way! When I first met her she was such a mess too! And then she got so much better. Now it’s back to this again!” She was trying hard to stay mad, but I could hear the underlying sadness. I took another step back.
“What do you mean by that? How was she before?” Noori’s voice came from behind me.
Xena took a deep breath, composing herself. Even though Noori asked her the question, she looked straight at me as she said the next words.
“She was a mess. She was in pain randomly throughout the day. Sometimes it would go away for a week or two, before it came back. And Flora being Flora would continue with her work, her life. You are your word she would say. She went to so many therapists, doctors, but nobody could figure out what it was. Eventually she just learned to live with it. Over time it reduced. She felt it lesser and lesser. I swear sometimes I thought that it was actually because she got close to someone who wasn’t a woman. Crazy, I know, but it really seemed like that. It was brutal, she’d fainted on several occasions from the pain, and sometimes I’d find her crying and trying not to make scene. It took me so long to get her out of it. Maybe it was a psychological thing. A heartbreak so brutal. I thought that’s good she might finally move on, once she started getting better. But honestly she never was, completely. There was always small tinges of pain. In fact she had one just before she met you. The first night she was here. She told me about it the next day - she’d almost fainted in the elevator-”
I remembered this. I remembered her entering our room by mistake. I was so angry at that time that I didn’t notice how watery her eyes were, or how she was staggering to get away from us, and to her own room.
“-and now she seems to be back to it.” Xena’s words brought me back.
I took another step behind, I was nearly at the door now, my morale shot and my pride hurt. My soul...destroyed.
I knew I had caused her a lot of pain but hearing Xena recount those memories opened up a set of wounds I never knew existed. I could feel my eyes watering, tears building up. How was I ever going to get redemption for this? I turned my head to look at my mate, sleeping peacefully under the covers. Only her head was above the blanket and she had a small smile on her face, as if she was having a good dream. I knew I didn’t deserve her after everything I did. She was fucking amazing.
“But, I have to admit she’s not in pain anymore. ” Xena added, almost as though she didn’t want to say it. I gave her a questioning but hopeful look.
“She’s smiling a lot more. She doesn’t look healthier but she feels healthier. She faints and has these physical injuries but, her head, her heart, they seem better.” Xena admitted reluctantly. “That is the only reason, I feel like you might be good for her. But Reece, what is going on?”
“You have to tell me what is going on because she is my best friend in the whole world! I love her. I’m so worried and I know she’s keeping something from me! I know it. I know you know it. I just - I just need to know that she’s not in any trouble.” Towards the end of her monologue, her voice broke and I tore my eyes away from my beautiful mate. Xena was almost in tears and in that moment I had nothing but respect for her. People like her were who my mate needed. People like her were important. I now understood their bond. Once in a while, human bonds were as important, and perhaps even more potent than ours - and they made them all on their own; no moon goddess to help in it.
“She’s not in any trouble, I promise.” I told her, my voice returning. I took a step forward.
“She is safe, and I will always make sure that she is safe.” Another step.
Xena’s eyes scanned me from top to bottom, debating if she could trust me.
“Trust me, I love her. I won’t let anything happen to her.” I was almost standing before her now, she had to crane her neck to make eye contact.
Xena sighed. “I don’t have much of a choice do I? She’s chosen to be with you. I go on another project in three weeks and she will be on her own again. But mark my words. If you hurt her, you’re a dead man.” At that moment, I knew she was genuine. In that moment, my respect for my mate’s best friend, and her loyalty was almost envious. I knew of several royals in my court who would switch sides in a blink. People I wanted to protect Flo from.
“So, are you going to tell me what happened to her?” she spoke finally, and the tense atmosphere relaxed.
“Nate just went to test some blood samples, so we won’t know for sure until then.” Noori improvised and I gave her a grateful mindlink. I was usually so quick on my feet, but not today.
At the mention of Nate my mind went back to him. This was going to get so complicated. How would we get her to stay?
Pull up everything we have on Xena Marin. I instructed Daniella.
“What assignment?” I asked, pulling up a chair next to her, as I looked at Flora.
“I’m a journalist. I take interviews and write articles about interesting things across the world.” She replied, her hand gently caressing Flora’s forehead.
Across the world? Dammit. Nate was in for a ride.