Compete with a Chameleon
For the sixth time, I checked to see if the corridor was empty. Nobody there. Make a move already! I silently shut my room door, creeping out like a criminal in the middle of a crime. With my credit card and room keys in hand I ran towards the elevator hoping that when it came, no one would be in it. The wait at the doors was strenuous. I kept moving around, unable to stay still, my only focus was on the sole intention of sneaking away undetected. My eyes kept shifting to every corner, every shadow.
Xena had been supportive over the phone. She was surprised at the sudden phone call because back in Greece it was nearly midnight, but she spoke to me long enough for me to calm down. I really needed to appreciate her more, nobody else could keep up with me. I eventually decided that it would be best if I checked out. I didn’t know why I was sneaking around like it was something I wasn’t allowed to do, but I knew for a fact that if I met Reece again he would convince me to stay in a heartbeat.
There, that was what my problem was. My inability to put up any resistance whatsoever when it came to my ex.
20, 21, 22..the lift seemed to be moving at a slower pace than usual right now. A room door far at the end of the corridor opened and two gentlemen stepped out. They immediately caught my attention and I subconsciously moved closer to the button panel. Who were they? They didn’t look like anybody I knew. But then again, I couldn’t believe anyone after Atticus.
They walked closer to me, seemingly engaged in their own conversation and I felt a little at ease. I was just fine with not getting any attention right now. One of them was thinner, less built than the other. He had blonde hair and was taller to the muscular one, who had a darker complexion and light brown eyes. They looked at me once in acknowledgement and I nodded politely as well, hoping that my nervousness didn’t show. Hoping that they were tourists here, just like I was.
The ‘ping!’ of the lift’s arrival brought my attention back to my mission. We stepped in and the blonde guy pressed the button for us all, giving me a small smile. The three of us stood in complete silence as we crossed various floors.
The lift halted at the 20th floor and two more people entered, both men, both considerably muscular. One of them glanced at the button panel to check if we had indeed pressed ‘G’. The other one was hunched over his phone, his messy locks falling forwards as he looked down into the handheld device. The steady tune of the elevator continued to play as we once again moved down.
It was obvious that my behavior was cowardly. His words rang in my head like a song on repeat. He was never letting me go? I wasn’t his. The delicate yet powerful feeling of hope rose in my chest and I squashed it. I couldn’t be his, not after everything. I couldn’t even be friends, because I knew how I still felt about him.
He was like junk food, delicious but not good for you.
Which is why it made perfect sense to sneak away undetected. Have no further exposure. I shook my head roughly, trying to dispel the thoughts away. I had to stay away from him, how else was I going to remain sane?
The young man looked up from his phone, locking the cell and putting it in his pocket. He glanced at his friend once and I felt a shiver run down my spine. Were they Reece’s men? Was I being too paranoid? I mean, he wasn’t some high profile celebrity or something, but...
I wouldn’t put it past Reece to try and stop me. Once he set his eyes on something he always found a way to get it.
“Can you push the button for the 8th floor please?” I spoke with as much innocence as I could muster, hoping they didn’t see past my facade. My voice was smooth, hesitation free, and I even managed to plaster a polite smile on my face. The only way anyone could tell that I was nervous was if they could hear my racing pulse. So imagine my surprise when the four of them turned away from the elevator doors to face me instead, forming a barricade between me and my escape. They didn’t say anything, and kept as much distance possible between themselves and me. It was freaky.
I immediately pressed my back to the cold metal wall of the elevator, my hands held in front of me on instinct. “What is this? I said stop the lift!” I yelled with as much authority as possible but they didn’t even budge.
“Sorry Lu-ma’am, but Alpha Reece has given us strict instructions.” The muscular man from my floor told me with a helpless shake of his head.
He looked wary himself, the other three wore matching expressions of guilt - as though denying me anything was physically hurting them. They didn’t even try to look menacing. Deciding that they wouldn’t hurt me, I took a deep breath, before I jumped between them towards the buttons.
Needless to say, one tiny person against four, steroidal men was not helpful to the singular party. With movements faster than my eyes could process, two pairs of hands were on each of mine, restraining my movements. The third man stood right in front of me, trying to calm me down unsuccessfully. They made sure that my back didn’t bang the elevator wall as they held me back.
Stupid men! I swear they were all the problems in my life!
“Luna please! We don’t want to hurt you!” The central man said with a tensed look. His friends gave him a warning glance but I’d already caught on. “Luna?! Tell Reece that he can’t do this! It’s not legal!” I yelled loudly and they all cringed, but they held their position regardless. My shoulders slumped after a few seconds as I fumed silently.
Reece was in a shit ton of trouble when I caught up to him! What was he doing utilizing men for such tasks?! The whole scenario felt shady as hell!
Then my eyes went to the button panel that the fourth boy was trying to discreetly hide from my line of sight.
“Where are you taking me?!” My renewed struggles were cut short by how strong they were, not to mention that I was outnumbered. “Police! This is crazy! You can’t do this!” The man in the middle kept trying to appease me but I only got more agitated as we crossed the ground floor...and went straight down to Basement 3.
The second I felt the lift came to stop, all four of them relaxed and let me go, but this time I chose to stay back. They were not going to push me out! Now our roles had reversed, I stood there in the elevator while they tried to ease me out. “Nope! Not happening! I refuse to leave this-”
And as the doors opened I was (gently by them, rebelliously by me) deposited at the elevator doorstep and not allowed to enter back inside despite my screaming.
His arm came around my waist as casually as if it were a regular occurrence and not a complete disregard of my personal bubble.
He pulled me out of the doors’ reach easily and I could only stare helplessly as they shut in front of me, the four men inside actively avoiding my gaze.
Reece left me and I felt him step back. Anxiety, defeat, vulnerability, so many emotions crossed my mind as I heard him call my name.
“Flora.” His voice made my knees weak - I hated it. I was still glaring at the elevator doors, refusing to turn around when he spoke again.
“Flora.” Something inside me broke and I spun around in a flash. He was standing a few feet away from me, his face full of concern. He was wearing the same clothes as this morning, but somehow he looked even more amazing. It was impossible how he managed to look so picture perfect, it made me so mad.
“Now you look here Reece! You cannot do this, you understand me?! This is illegal! You cannot man handle me, make your goons kidnap me, or force me to stay here! Seriously take the hint - I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE - I just want to go home. Why don’t you understa- Where are we?!” My attention shifted to our surroundings. We were standing in a grand hall, with classy looking furniture and exquisite chandeliers. The place was right out of an interior decor magazine! I could see three other doors - supposedly to the bedrooms. and right in the far end of it, was an indoor pool. The blue water was gleaming under the artificial light, completely still. It was like an underground palace, and I was sure that each and every room beyond the doors was going to prove equally stunning.
“This is The Wolf’s best suite.” He said carefully, but with a hint of pride. “It was custom made only for the owners of this chain of hotels. Every Wolf hotel has one in its basement.” I just turned to stare at him. It was hard to admit, but the place was massive!
“I had you upgraded to this room.” He added after a second. Huh?
“Reece, I’m checking out.” I told him and he sighed. His hands reflexively raised to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I’m really trying to apologize here, Flora.” Something in his voice forced me to look at him. He seemed calm, composed, holding a sad smile, but his hands seemed to be shaking slightly, and his eyes, they looked....crushed.
Nope. Stay stubborn.
I took an involuntary step forward, and then another, before I realized what I was doing and stopped abruptly.
Whatever happened to staying strong?!
This did not go unnoticed by him. “Don’t let me ruin your vacation Flora.” He continued and I could feel something tearing at my heart. “After everything I’m guilty of, I don’t want another thing added to my list. I’m trying to fix things.”
I stepped closer still, my feet were moving of their own accord until I stood close enough for him to touch me. He was really trying, I could see that.
Ugghh. How do I say no again? I looked at the room once more. It was a nice gesture. Even if he did kidnap me - sort of - to give it. Xena’s words from before echoed in my head -‘I can see why you might not want to face him before. But he knows he was wrong, and he’s admitting it.’
‘But he hurt me!’
‘I know that. That’s why I’m not contesting your decision, but I think everyone deserves a chance at forgiveness.’
‘B-But he -’
‘Flo, I know you. You’d forgive anyone in a heartbeat if you saw their sincerity. So why are you fighting this extra hard?’
He’d merely broken up with me, not murdered my dog. And yet the severing of that relationship had hurt me more than I could put into words. But how do I explain it to her? That what we had had been equivalent to divine? Like he was my other half?
And the words were out of my mouth before I knew it, “okay.”
He was as shocked as me at my sudden agreement and before I knew it, he was hugging me. Sparks shot up everywhere he touched, blazing me from the inside, making my entire body lean further into him greedily. His tall, strong frame engulfed me completely and I let out a little sigh. A sigh because I was content, and a sigh because I was so helpless.
What on earth possessed me to agree to this?
“Reece, I can’t breathe.” I spoke after a moment, clearly this was getting out of hand. He squeezed me even tighter for a moment before he let me breathe again. My face was slightly red as I avoided looking at his crooked smile.
Aaah! Why was I so confused?!
“But we are NOT friends!” I made it known immediately, with whatever shred of dignity I could muster.
God, I was so fickle I could compete with a chameleon.
His smile faltered the slightest bit before he was beaming again.
“Don’t worry, that’s not what I want anyway.” He spoke so softly that I almost thought I’d imagined it.
My heart beat sped up.
Oh god how am I going to survive this with my body wanting to throw itself at him all the time?!
I groaned in annoyance as the reality of the situation dawned on me; I’d basically consented to stay in the same hotel as him for-
“How long are you staying here?” The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them.
Reece eyed me speculatively before he said,” don’t know yet. Depends on a few things. Could be a day could be a month.”
Vague answer then.
“Well I’ll go to the reception and have them shift your luggage before you change your mind.” He told me as he made his way to the elevator door.
It was weird that the elevator opened right into the suite. How do you stop people from walking in?
“Hey Flo, One more thing. Your reservation of the above room is made for two people. Who is this other person?” I could see, even from afar that his jaw was clenched. How long had he waited to ask me this question?
“I think that’s private information.” I informed him, feeling slightly annoyed. I knew it wasn’t a big secret, but how did he get access to this? A vague feeling settled over me. How powerful was Reece?
“I’m aware,” He didn’t even sound ashamed. Brat.
“Well since you found that out, find out who it is as well.” I challenged, miffed at the poor confidentiality that the hotel provided, but also enjoying his curiosity.
A coy smile rose to his lips, he would find out soon.
“I will.” He promised and I hated to admit that he was right, yet I did not divulge. After a moment, he nodded his head just as the doors opened wide, and stepped inside. He turned to face me, with a genuine smile this time, that knocked my breath away.
She’s melting, I can see the bond start to work it’s way again. I need it to.
How else am I going to get her back? She needs to see how much she matters to me and I’m not going to hold back. I’m going to show her exactly what she is to me. How much I love her.
When I touched her last night and felt the familiar sparks that I’ve longed for all my life, the bitter truth crashed into me.
Horrifying waves of guilt and anguish that I knew I would never escape from, drowned me. I’d caused my mate so much pain, so much hurt. I’d denied the kingdom it’s Queen. Granted I was clueless, I thought she was the gold digging woman who wanted the throne. But there she fought, against me, in my arms, every bit as innocent and oblivious as that day two years ago.
I would protect her from the people who framed her in the first place. I would protect her with or without her consent! I would .... protect her from myself. Never again was I going to make decisions in arrogance.
I’d waited too long for this! To have my mate in my arms! And I could have had her two years ago, I should have trusted my instincts instead of trusting the loyals of my father’s court!
I knew what I had to do now. I opened a mind link to my Beta, Grey.
Open the investigation again. Make sure Brianna has no idea about this. I will deal with her myself.
I could hear Grey’s relief at my words, and his own determination fueled by mine.
Yes, Alpha King Reece.
He spoke my proper title this time, with honor. Grey was happy about this. He’d fought for Flora’s innocence all along, only to be thwarted by my orders. I should have listened to him. My Beta was the second in command, my right hand man and I disregarded his opinions completely in my uncontrolled rage. Never again would I rule only with my mind, I’ve paid the price for that.
Rule with your heart and head, Alpha.
I’d not tuned him out yet. Damn he’d hold this over me for really long.
Get to work, Grey.
His informal attitude was back, and I smiled. It seemed that I’d lost out on a lot of people when I lost Flora. Maybe now, I could fix a lot of other mistakes.
Oh, and I told you so.
Cheeky Beta. I’d get him back soon. But I couldn’t help but smile at him. I’d been given a second chance by the goddess. And I’d be damned if I let her get away from me again.
She was MINE!