“She did WHAT?”
“I’m standing right here, Reece,” I said dryly and he turned to give me a hopeless look.
“You shouldn’t have gone in there.” He swore, glaring between Grey and I.
“Why not? I was of more help than anyone else.” I shot back. The world was in danger and all he could think about was what I had risked. Reece scoffed,” And what if it was a trap huh? What then? Did you think about that? The risk that you were putting yourself in?”
“I did.” My voice was measured.
“And it was a calculated risk.” I tried my best to not look patronizing but he was making it so easy.
“Reece, you haven’t even heard what we found out. Just listen to that first.” Grey tried reasoning with his King and Reece only let out a growl. He then began pacing.
“One day - no, half a day. I leave her alone for half a day and this is the kind of decision you make. I don’t know what to do. And you ordered them? How did she even know that they couldn’t deny her?” He spoke between the two of us.
“We did just-”
Both Grey and I spoke at once. He immediately stopped, and I gave him a small, wry smile. I really didn’t want to deal with Reece in this possessive phase right now. We were in one of the conference rooms, it was nearly dinner time and everyone was busy doing whatever they had to do.
Cole was looking for Brianna. Atticus and Hank were looking at Deta’s old correspondences from three years ago. Sienna and Daniella had shifted now to the rogue attack that had taken place at The Wolf earlier. They said something about it all possibly being connected but nobody really knew what was going on. Isla..had slept. She was finally sleeping in her own bed and tomorrow promised a better appetite. Noori was busy.. avoiding me. Apparently my bloodwork had come back and she didn’t want to give me the answers she knew I would order her to tell me if she met me. This newfound power was like a drug.
The doors swung open and a huffing Nate entered the room. I looked over his shoulder and then at him. He looked over his shoulder too. Before I could ask, he said, “Xena’s sleeping.” But the way he said it, he had to look away. I raised an eyebrow, narrowing my eyes as I got all elder sister protective. “What’s going on?” My voice was firm and he automatically moved towards Reece. I caught a sight of his collar and my eyes widened.
“Nate! WHAT IS THAT ON YOUR COLLAR?!” I don’t know what happened exactly but I lunged for him. Reece stepped in the middle and held me back. “NATE! Answer me where is she?!” I screamed but he looked so alarmed that all he could do was stare at me.
“Flora! Flora calm down!” Reece murmured into my ear as I fought against him. Did he not see the red on his collar?!
“No! Reece why is there blood on his collar!?” I struggled with him but he held me back. Surprisingly, he seemed to be having quite the challenge in keeping me at bay.
“Queen! Queen I promise she is fine!” Nate said suddenly, finding his voice. He raised both his hands in front of him like I was a cop and he was a guilty criminal. Grey was watching at our exchange in horrid fascination.
“Flora! He just marked her! That’s all! Calm down!!” Reece said louder this time. I stopped struggling. Reece let go off me immediately and stepped back, blocking Nate from my view.
“Oh.” I whispered, and then looked away from their wide eyes to my own hands. Had I really just lunged at Nate? What was I going to do? Attack him?
“Flora...are you okay?” Reece asked me and I raised my head to look him straight in the eye. “Something’s very very wrong with me, isn’t it?” It was barely a whisper but because they stiffened I knew that I was right.
“Answer me, Reece.” I instructed, every second more terrified than the next. “I’m...scary.”
Immediately, warm hands engulfed me and I was comforted by the familiar sparks. “No! No this is fine, it’s normal.” He told me immediately and I shook my head, creating space between us. “Explain. All of it. Because I am very very scared.”
“You’re..changing. I marked you. I told you you would get some of our abilities.” He told me carefully and I nodded, urging him to go on, looking at Grey for answers as well. Nate had left the room already. Guilt bloomed in my chest like a meadow in spring.
“So, you’re new to this. Werewolves..we rule with heart, with instincts. You got protective and..you got aggressive.” He continued, not moving even the slightest, but his eyes were trained on me.
“It happens, but you will learn to control it.” Grey spoke from the other end, his words wrapped in warmth. I nodded at the two of them. “Is this how you guys feel all the time?” I asked them and Reece let out a laugh. “Suddenly yelling at you for meeting Isla doesn’t seem so unreasonable does it?”
I gave him a sheepish smile. Grey let out a low whistle, “Fuck, Queen. You’re going to be so strong.” He told me, gesturing towards Reece’s arms and I let out a gasp.
He had small hand prints on his arms - mine. I..I did that? “Why didn’t you stop me?!” I yelled, frantically moving closer to him and inspecting the bruises. Reece scoffed, “I did stop you. You’d have made Nate run for his money.” He gently pushed my fingers away and rolled his sleeves down.
“I mean stop me from hurting you! You should have knocked me out or something!” I yelled and he gave me a blank stare. Then, he turned to Grey who seemed amused at our exchange and asked, “Did she hit her head or something?” and he burst out laughing. I glared at the two of them before looking away. “I guess I best find Nate and apologize..”
“Don’t worry about it. He already knows. I linked him.” Grey told me and I nodded. This time, there was a definite knock on the door and Reece rolled his eyes. “Come in, Nate.”
A pale looking Nate entered the room, his shirt was now a different , fresh one and Grey coughed as a meek cover for his laugh. “King, Queen.” He acknowledged both of us formally and Reece just shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“I am so sorry!” I yelled, unable to bear the awkwardness. Nate looked startled but shook his head adamantly.
“No, no. I am! Don’t apologize to me, Queen!” He said and I suddenly felt like laughing. He was actually adorable when you thought of it.
“No, I am! I shouldn’t have jumped to such baseless conclusions!”
“Or jumped on him.” Grey snickered and Reece threw him a hot glance that shut him up. My cheeks reddened and Nate began again, “No, Queen! that’s fine-”
“This might go on forever so I’m going to interrupt here.” Reece announced. I nodded. I felt like I had so much energy all of a sudden. I needed to let it out of my system.
“When that happens to us, we go on a run.” Reece supplied gently, reading my mind. I nodded. “I might go for a swim then.” Best to get this nervous energy out before I hurt someone else. Reece’s eyes narrowed before he sighed. “Take April.”
I left immediately.
April was waiting for me in the same spot I had met her yesterday. Was it only yesterday that he had marked me? It felt like a million days ago. She sat there, like she had yesterday, looking bored but with a magazine in her hand. When I walked up to her, she shut the glossy paper and gave me a small bow.
“Don’t do things like that!” I persisted but she shook her head. “Get used to it my Queen.”
“Flora.” I insisted yet again and April let out a small laugh. “Queen Flora then.” She bargained and I sighed. Without another word I slipped out of my robe and dove into the water. The cool water felt wonderful against my hot body (wink wink) and almost immediately, I caught onto routine laps. The exercise was proving to help my frazzled nerves. I felt my body calm down and the restlessness died away after seven laps.
“How come the pool always gets empty when I come to swim?” My question surprised her and she gave me a tilted look, “Well, the Alpha does it.”
“I know he does it, but how does he do it?” I asked her, leaning against the ledge of the pool and craning my neck to look up at her, curled on the lounge chair. April got up from her chair and moved to sit on the ledge, putting her feet in the water.
It’s his presence. He can project it out to make people feel intimidated or uncomfortable.”
“So he moved a whole bunch of people just so I could swim in privacy?”
“He moved them so that you could swim wearing that and nobody would die.”
“So if I wore something else, other people could swim with me?”
“I doubt it, Queen Flora.”
Five more laps later, I paused to take another break.
“This was more than your usual, Queen.” She observed and I nodded. But then a new thought struck me.
“You’ve literally seen me swim once before this, how do you - OH.”
She gave me a wry smile.
“How long?” I asked her, my voice wavering.
“Since the second day you reached here.” Her words weren’t comforting.
“So you’ve been shadowing me since that day?” I asked and she nodded, but then frowned. “I lost you once.” she told me and I raised my hand, gesturing to her to continue. “It was the day you went to the town. Cycling. We were four of us following you till we lost your scent. Lucky for us you bumped into Atticus and were safe.” She admitted, her head hung low.
“Reece must have been mad.” I chuckled and she shook her head. “Alpa Reece was, but then he found out it was because of the masking that we lost you, so he didn’t take us off your detail.”
“You remember buying a certain perfume?
It was a pretty thing, with a delicate gold pattern swirling across the dark green glass. Inside was a transparent liquid that smelled like heaven.
“It’s a perfume, why?” I gave the bottle in his impatient hands and he looked at it closely, turning it over.
He then took the cap off and sprayed a little in the air, sniffing it. His eyes went wide for a long second before he schooled his features again.
“Where did you get this?”
“In the local market. What’s going on?”
“Yeah..one of the street vendors - I bought it from him.” I told her.
“Apparently, it contained an ingredient that helps mask a werewolf’s scent. We lost you after that.”
“I’m sure he took it away! I haven’t seen that thing since that day!” I exclaimed, suddenly it was all coming together. April nodded in confirmation. “I have it, actually. I was given the responsibility of tracking him down and figuring out how a human happened to have it.” She said, but her face wrinkled.
“What happened?” Concern flooded my features and she gave me a comforting smile. “Oh no, you’ve misread me. It’s just that the day I went looking for him was the day you and Ms. Marin decided to venture into the forest. I feel like I failed you by not being there.” I rolled my eyes at her, “You had another thing to do - it wasn’t like you were frolicking around.” I placed a wet hand on her thigh in assurance and she gave me a half hearted smile.
“Still. It sometimes happens that humans use those ingredients. It really wasn’t that big a deal if I didn’t go after him. I could have helped you out there, you wouldn’t have had to see that.” She told me, sounding sincere and I shook my head. “If you had, then maybe I wouldn’t have gone to see her and we wouldn’t get the answers we have today.” I reasoned and she finally met my eyes. “Well, that’s true...”
“Exactly! See.” I said cheerfully and she smiled, a stoic smile, but a smile. “You shall be a great Queen.”
“And that’s my cue to leave.” I sassed and spun around to start a new set of laps.
Five more laps passed by and I was tired at the end of it. But the water felt so great, that I didn’t want to leave just yet. So I just floated in the pool, looking up at the sky. The sun had already set, and the stars were shining dimly in space.
“Yes. Queen Flora?”
“What was that stone that you guys gave me? When I first met you?”
“You mean the Locci?”
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“It’s a tracking stone. We had one of the witches enchant it so that the holder of the stone could always be found.” I was quiet for a minute and her hesitant voice came through again, “You knew there were witches, right Queen?”
“It’s no big deal.” I told her, mostly to put her at ease from my internal awe/shock.
“Alright,” she whispered unsure. I knew I wouldn’t get very much out of her now. I decided to continue the conversation.
“So that’s how Reece found me that night. I had the stone -although I dropped it in the forest somewhere.”
“Alpha King would have found you regardless, but that was more of a back up.” she supplied and I nodded.
“He doesn’t need to give me the stone now, though. Since I’m marked.” I gathered and I didn’t have to look at her to know that she nodded.
“You must be really good if you’re assigned to my personal safety.”
“Best of my training class, Queen. You are safe with me.” She assured, her tone almost proud.
Suddenly, a brilliant idea came into my head and I broke my floating to look at her.
“Queen?” She asked, as I approached her with renewed conviction.
“I need you to train me.”