“That’s your big plan? A party?” I didn’t even bother to keep the incredulity out of my voice. Reece’s expression turned smug, instead of offended. “You’re just saying it like that because you don’t want to meet my parents.”
“I- That’s not true!” I sputtered, annoyed that he was taking this so lightly. “I just think we should be playing things down! Not inviting the possible people into our world! Or did you forget what happened the last time a Nihl and a King threw an officiating party?” I said icily, half terrified and the other half dubious.
Grey shook his head at me, “I think it’s a great idea. We take the fight to them!” He spoke with renewed energy and I was left stupefied. These people had death wishes. “Why are you worried Flo, we won’t let anything happen to you!” Dani added, supporting her mate and her King. I narrowed my eyes at them, and then turned to my last hope, “Surely Sienna, you don’t agree with them? You’re a practical person. You know this is a stupid, stupid idea.” I was literally feeding her the words.
“Sorry, Flo. But we’ve been far too long under their control. They’re always one step ahead of us and I’ve had enough of that. If they think they can threaten our Queen’s safety, then they’ve got problems coming!” She blazed, her hand tightening around her mate’s.
“Actually, I think this is a bad idea.” Surprisingly, Nate was the one who spoke up. All heads turned to him and Xena, but nobody thwarted him. Everyone waited for him to give his explanation patiently.
“Like sienna said, they’re a step ahead of us every time. We already considered that there’s a mole outside of this room, but we don’t know who. Are we really willing to take such a big risk to lure them out? We have a few leads, a pool of suspects from the Elders – with the help of Mr. Staple – but besides them we just know pawns in their game. Isla, Alpha Deta, Brianna, how many more will get sacrificed if we do this?”
His words halted everyone. Xena was looking at him in awe while everyone else’s gaze was downcast. I could feel their minds collectively processing this information. Pitting odds against one another and trying to come up with the best possible solution. There was none. I moved a little in my chair. This dining table, which now served as a makeshift meeting room was full of tension and somehow, I felt like I was in the middle of it. I knew that if I put my foot down, they’d never go through with this plan, because whoever these people were, they were ideally only trying to get me out of the equation.
Initially, I thought that they wanted the throne and wanted to get Reece out of the equation, but if that were true then they had plenty of occasions to poison him with more than just a love potion of sorts. But they didn’t. Maybe because if he died then there would be another King somewhere and they’d have to kill him too. Or maybe because they didn’t care about the throne, but just had an intense hatred for me, a…Nihl. The word felt strange against my tongue. I had identified as a human all my life. Then I find out that there’s so many more things and I belong to the population that was supposed to be extinct. Life sure knew how to throw me a curveball.
“Although it seems like Nate has a point, I feel like it really boils down to this; we don’t have any other option.” Noori broke the silence in the wake of Nate’s speech. Slowly, everyone looked up, listening to her. Her gaze met mine and I nodded, as if to say, ‘go on, change my mind.’
She swallowed, not used to having so many important people listen to her with a hundred percent attention.
“The point is that we don’t have much choice. They’re obviously closing in on us. They know we know since Brianna’s death, since we have Isla, since there is an APB out on Alpha Deta. There’s not much longer they can hide, and the best thing we can do is let the showdown happen in a controlled environment – ours.”
“But why don’t we have a choice? We can just wait, see what they might do next. See where they strike while we fortify our walls and vet our people one by one, comb through all their history with a fine tooth. We’re bound to strike some gold.” Xena spoke up for me and everyone else looked between the two of them, waiting for Noori to launch her volley.
That’s when it struck me.
“We can’t wait because there might be others.” I blurted out, stealing her punchline. But Noori didn’t seem mad, her face just held a grim smile. Smile because I figured it out but grim because it was a scary, highly possible truth.
“Exactly. We don’t know much about the origin of the Nihls, but the fact that Flora stands here, as one of us, but also as one of them leads any biologist to believe that there must be more. They may have come back, and as clueless people such as Flora, with no one to help them and no one to protect them, we can’t wait. We’d be horrible if we didn’t learn from our past and let them get slaughtered again.” Noori finished. I could see her hands shake slightly from nervousness, but nevertheless, her face held conviction.
Everyone was quiet as they mulled it over in their head.
“It’s settled then,” Reece said, looking over everyone for agreement. She was right; I wasn’t the only priority here.
The thought got me excited. And suddenly, I wasn’t alone anymore. I had the interests of a whole new species to look after. After all, I was one of them.
Reece’s hand intertwined with mine in a firm, possessive grip, “I won’t let anything happen to you.” His words were a promise. Everyone else matched his expression, and I was no longer scared. They’d protect me - I’d protect them.
The kingdom was beautiful. Or so I’d been told. For the sake of security, the officiating party was going to happen at one of the lesser used, but also surreal properties that were owned by the King. It was a short flight, on Reece’s own private jet that got us to the palace. I was too excited to sleep in the flight even though it was nearly midnight and kept glancing out the airplane window as we neared the ground.
“Every time there is a new Alpha King, he demands to have a palace built in his name. the succeeding King’s may use all or any of those properties or build their own. Few Kings, conceited as they were, chose to use their resources to make themselves even grander, and larger homes. Because of this reason, there are a total of fourteen palaces spread across the globe.” Dani explained to me and I nodded. It made sense, since the Kingship wasn’t inherited but randomly chosen by the goddess from the general population.
“What about Reece? Has he gotten anything made?” I asked curiously and Dani shook her head. “He never had the time, nor the interest. Said something about using all that money to give his people across the globe something else that they can use, like a chain of hotels that were a safe refuge for werewolves. Only somehow the hotels grew popular among humans as well, and for the first time we had a King who is rich not because of the werewolf community, or because of the wealth left by the Kings before him, but because of himself.” She spoke with such pride that I could feel my own heart swell. Reece had always been such a giver.
“So, whose palace is this?”
“It’s the second King’s palace, one of the grander pieces of property. The Elders manage these properties and keep them well maintained for any and all future Kings.” Sienna piped in, turning around in her seat to face us.
“You should be able to see it now, we’re right above it.” Cole added, and himself looked out the window.
It was gigantic. The whole palace, with its walls and castle grounds and everything rounded several thousand square meters for sure. I felt like a tiny spec of dust in comparison to the high grounds. It wasn’t traditional or anything. There was a helipad, several swimming pools that could be spotted, and large lawns that surrounded the property. I gasped in surprise at its sheer magnificence. The walls were stark white, with delicate swirls of colors here and there. Several towers raised between shallow walls, the highest of which was somewhere at the back of the property. It looked like a watchtower of sorts.
“Whoaaa…” Xena mimicked my thoughts aloud and I nodded at her. Nate was smiling fondly at his mate and I felt a surge of love for the two of them.
The pilot turned the seatbelt sign on and the two of us settled back, excited to land.
Reece stirred from his sleep. I was glad that he had gotten some since he seemed to function on barely any. “If only I knew you were so rich.” I joked into his ear, and he gave me a lazy smile, “Wait till you see the inside.”
The inside, as Reece had put it, was everything you’d expect it to be, and then a lot more on top of it. It was beautiful. The whole theme was white and blue, and it reminded me of Santorini, and a trip I’d taken with Xena to the islands of Greece.
The place was so large that they’d split it into sections – the wings were all under different names. All of us were kept in the West wing, which was the largest and the closest of the central grounds where the officiating party was going to be held. The beautiful weather demanded that we have the event outside.
My room, or rather our room was a grand event of its own. The doors were double my height, and the ceiling was as high. The bed was massive. The room was twice the size of B3, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around the lavishness of the place. Behind my shoulder, Reece’s voice floated across, “Like it?”
I had the audacity to laugh. “Like it? I love it! Oh god, Reece! This seems amazing!! I can’t even…”
His light chuckle filled the air and made my insides warm. It was so good to see him like this, even if it was for a short amount of time. Instead of going inside, I turned around and hugged him at the door. He was surprised but returned the hug rather immediately.
“This is amazing, you’re amazing.” I told him, before giving him a light kiss on his cheek. And then another, and then another, and then another. The mark on my neck singed and a whole new sensation came to light.
As if noticing this, Reece’s arms tightened around my waist. He maneuvered my body, pushing it up and to the side as if to swing me. Next thing I knew, I was in his arms, bridal style. We stepped into the room and went straight for the bed.
He gently laid me down on the mattress and then stood back to look at me. “You have no idea how much I want you right now.” He breathed out and I swallowed. “Ditto.” I shot back, feeling the fire in my veins in both anticipation and nervousness. His eyes changed color. I swallowed once again, beginning to think that maybe this was a bad idea. He did look like he was about to devour me…
“Careful what you wish for.” Reece swore, his tone nothing but a warning and I moved a little behind into the bed, suddenly hesitant.
And then he was on top of me. His one hand held both of mine above my head, caging them immediately. I wriggled underneath him, reacting to the sudden weight but otherwise didn’t protest. The second his lips found mine I was gone.
I felt the heat from his kiss reach my very toes. It was a maniacal kiss, going from a gentle one at the door to this beast-like version in mere seconds. I was drowning in him - cocooned in his frame, surrounded by his scent, and attacked by his lips. They were working their magic such that nothing I could ever say or do would break past this assault. Not that I ever would; I loved it. I loved it so much. Now, if only he would let go of my hands, but no, he had to be the dominant.
Deciding to change that, I met his lips with my own, putting force behind my kiss to show him that I would not yield to him. He didn’t falter. And suddenly we were at each other like hungry wolves. Not getting enough of a taste of our prey.
My entire body yearned for him. It felt like it had been forever since we’d done this. If we broke apart even for a minute, I was going to be a goner. With alacrity, I prodded my tongue into his, and we fought for dominance. I mentally blamed gravity for my loss, but nevertheless kept challenging him.
He broke apart, using his other hand to settle himself directly on me and warned, “Careful, I might enjoy bending you to my will.” His words lit a fire in me that couldn’t be satiated. I kept my face clear of any nervousness as I said, “The only one bending is going to be you.” My words would have had more power if I wasn’t struggling under his hold, with both my hands still trapped in just one of his, but I would die before I admitted that.
A smug expression mixed with something akin to desire washed his features at my words. As if he had been issued a challenge, he raised himself, so he was straddling me, and let go of my hands. I gave him a cautious but triumphant look. I tried to spin, so that I could be on top of him, but it was as if he was anchored to the bed. And he was anchoring me to the bed as well.
“Tell me, my Queen, what affects you the most?” His voice was a lazy drawl, but only a fool would think he was playing around. His finger moved behind and traced a light line from my knee, moving upwards every so slowly, deliciously. I froze, understanding now that I may have gotten a little overconfident.
“I-I” His finger moved inwards and upwards, reaching mid-thigh. The dress I was wearing rose up with this movement and I gulped loudly. “I’m going to take my own sweet time to figure it out.” He smirked evilly, leaning forward again, and dragging his hand above the side of my thighs, to my hips and then waist. But the cloth would ride up no more, for his body weighed down on it.
I took this chance to move my hands to his chest, hastily attempting to unbutton his t-shirt before his hands came and clasped mine tightly.
“Let me do the honors,” He spoke, his voice slightly strained and I smiled in satisfaction. I was affecting him too.
I released the grip on his shirt and in turn he let my hands go. But instead of unbuttoning his own shirt, his hands swiftly reached for the collar of my dress and the next second, I heard a loud RIIPPPP.
“REECE!” I shrieked and watched him look down at me in satisfaction and lust. “The dress wasn’t coming up.” He mumbled with mischief, trying to seem innocent. I lay there in front of him, my entire upper body bare, except for the lacy bra I was wearing. My hands immediately moved to cover me, out of outraged modesty, but he moved forward and pinned them down to my side.
I felt a strong blush rush across my features at this. I had never ever let a man get this far. And now here I was, lying beneath the King, on open display. I felt conscious. I felt…insecure.
But the look of pure love and daze on his face told me otherwise. His eyes shone as if he hadn’t seen anything that could be more beautiful and that made me feel better. He looked like he was hypnotized. “Don’t hide yourself from me.” He instructed, his voice dark. I turned my face to the side, to avoid his penetrating gaze.
“Flora?” His words were gentler this time, and yet I didn’t look at him. “Love? You’re so beautiful.” He said, his words were tender and loving. “Look at me, my Queen.” He said once more, and I slowly turned my head to face him. I think my complexion matched that of a tomato’s.
“Don’t be shy. You’re perfect.” He whispered, mesmerized. But that only made me blush further. His dark eyes told me that it wasn’t only him on the surface, and that thought made me gulp. He was quick to notice. “Don’t be scared. I would never hurt you.” He continued, looking at me protectively. I nodded, hesitant but sure. “I know.”
And then playful Reece was back. He leaned forward to give me a kiss, but instead went for my earlobe. I let out a fit of laughter, unable to take the nibbling and unable to do something about it as my hands were still captive under his. “Reece!” I breathed, trying to wriggle beneath him. “Mhhh…keep moving like that, baby.” He whispered into my ear and that was enough to cease my struggles. His mouth went to the crevice of my neck, kissing, sucking, licking every inch of that sensitive skin, turning my insides liquid under his assault. I moaned, unable to stop his attack and this only seemed to encourage him further.
“I’m going to make you scream, soon.” He continued talking, inspiring greater reactions, and more anticipation from my side.
But then his head dipped lower, below my collar bone and my eyes that had welded shut opened again. “Reece! I-stop!” I murmured weakly. I didn’t even know why I was stopping him. Surely this feeling was unbeatable. My inner conscience wanted him to continue this forever.
“You don’t really want me to stop,” He said, calling my bluff and then his lips met the center of my bra. He wasted no time shredding the material at the center and both halves sprang to the sides. I gasped at his audacity, but before I could say anything reasonable, the mouth that had torn the material so savagely latched itself onto my nipple and I was gone.
But it was not savage at all, no. It was amazing, it was teasingly painful. I felt myself writhing beneath him once again, mindless in my pleasure. He wouldn’t stop. He moved between the two but never stopped.
“I’ve only begun,” He told me.
And just like that his battle was won.