She brushed her hair absentmindedly.
Her dark auburn colored locks moved softly whilst she dragged the small comb downwards and then repeated.
Her doe-like eyes gazed back at her through the mirror.
Due to the window she had slightly opened, the cool night breeze entered her room and sent some of her baby hairs swaying wildly.
She did not mind the goosebumps that decorated her olive skin, nor the way strands of her hair slapped against her cheek.
She licked her pouty lips before closing her eyes shut.
Memories flooded her mind that made her cheeks tinge pink.
The change in mood was evident even to her as the goosebumps on her skin instantly disappeared and a wave of heat suddenly hit her.
She was broken from her train of thought when the door to her room gently opened.
She did not flinch. Even at the realization that she had forgotten to lock the door.
“Sorry to barge in Clarice. But you seemed a tad bit tense during dinner earlier, and I wanted to see if it was the result of your meeting with the King.” Rettacus stated while shutting the door behind him.
Clarices eyes slightly widened but other than that she showed no reaction. She had not even stopped dragging the comb through the part of her hair she had brushed already.
“Had he hurt you? Verbally or physically?” Rettacus asked in concern, she sensed his worry and quickly set the comb down before tilting her head to face him.
“No Rett, he did not hurt me.” She answered softly, trying to hold back the blush that so badly burned her cheeks.
Rettacus furrowed his brows before crossing his hands over his chest, “are you utmost positive about that? You seemed off earlier Claire, you know you can tell me anything.”
Clarice cleared her throat before rising from the small chair and turning to face him - she crossed her arms over her chest.
“Yes Rett. He did not hurt me. I promise that that is the truth.” Clarice repeated, this time a lot more genuinely than before to show him that she was being honest.
He nodded before raising a brow, “so, what was your tenseness the result of? Did you have a bad conversation with him? Did you manage to discuss what you had planned to?”
Clarice scratched the back of her neck before a nervous chuckle escaped her lips, “I honestly forgot that I went to him to speak about something.” She whispered, but more so to herself.
Rettacus furrowed his brows and stepped closer to her, “what? I apologize, that was entirely inaudible.”
Clarice shook her head, “nothing. Nothing. All I had said was that all went well.”
Rettacus had not believed her and that was obviously evident on his face but Clarice was thankful that he did not urge her to continue.
“Alright. But, you would tell me if he ever hurts you correct?” Rettacus asked softly, his warm brown eyes gazing intensely at her with that familiar brotherly warmth she had gotten used to.
Clarice smiled while nodding, “of course I would. Who else do I talk to anyway?”
She chuckled at that and followed before shaking his head, “ok, I will dismiss myself now. I had just wanted to let you know that you will have a shipment of clothing coming in tomorrow morning, and that if I am not around, not to fear if you hear a knock on your door.”
Clarice furrowed her brows, “A shipment of clothing?”
Rettacus nodded his head slowly.
“I never ordered any clothing.” Clarice stated in utter confusion whilst Rettacus smiled brightly at her.
“I know you did not. However, I did.” Rettacus confessed happily making Clarice raise her brows.
“Why would you spend money on me? That was entirely unnecessary. Anyway, how on earth do you know my size?” Clarice spluttered in shock.
Rettacus chuckled, “I hope I did not go too far and make you uncomfortable with my statement, but I ordered clothing for you because those old pairs you were given were not suitable and only temporary. Also, I just took a wild guess on your size and ordered everything in a petite.”
She let out a soft laugh before nodding, “alright. Thank you so much. It was highly unnecessary, but thank you nonetheless.”
Rettacus nodded, “no need to thank me Claire. Now, I will be taking my leave. Goodnight.”
Clarice smiled at him, “Goodnight.”
She watched as he turned around and slowly left her room, shutting her door softly behind him.
She walked towards the door and quickly locked it.
No matter how much courage and bravery she had suddenly gained through her mark, she was not leaving her room unlocked.
Especially not while she slept.
The next morning, Clarice had been abruptly awoken by the sound of a curt knock on her door.
She woke up with a start and her eyes were wide, “um...yes?” She called out while hugging her covers to her chest.
“I just want to give you your shipment.” A foreign voice stated from outside.
Her brows furrowed due to how suddenly she was awoken and how lost she was until Rettacus’ conversation with her last night replayed in her head.
“Oh. One second.” She said before pushing her covers off and hopping out of her comfy bed.
She flattened out her hair before walking towards the door and opening it.
It revealed a large bulky man who wore a familiar outfit as the other guards in the castle - all of their outfits were stone gray, as if to mock a knights armor.
His face was entirely stoic - as expected - and his bushy brows were furrowed in annoyance.
He had a bunch of bags in each hand that made Clarices eyes nearly bulge out of their sockets.
“Please, step out of the way.” He told her making her clear her throat awkwardly before opening the door wider and moving to the side - giving him enough space to walk in.
He dropped all of the bags and when she looked back to where he previously stood she noticed even more bags that his large body had hidden.
“Is this all for me?” Clarice asked in confusion while eyeing all of the bags in shock - there was way too many for just her.
He grunted while going back and forth, to retrieve the rest and bring it inside properly.
“I believe so. I had been given strict orders by the third in command to bring all of this to your room. If it is not, you address that with him.” His voice was husky and hoarse, and he had a more southern accent in comparison to the rest of the people she had heard speak in the castle.
She licked her lips while nodding.
When he finished he dusted his hands off and eyed the bags before giving her a curt nod.
She opened her mouth to thank him but he left abruptly giving her absolutely no time to even get the words out.
She sighed while shrugging before shutting her door and locking it.
She was sure it was a lot earlier in the morning than she was used to.
She usually tends to wake up exactly at ten, but she knew it was a lot earlier than that because she felt tired, however all the other times she felt well rested.
She looked at all of the bags in wonder. Why on earth had Rettacus gone out of his way to purchase all of this for her?
She shook her head before bending down to retrieve some bags and pull out what was inside.
She turned bright red when she pulled out a bunch of undergarments before the bag fell out of her hands in shock - how on earth was it not awkward for him to buy her underwear?
She struggled to keep her face from blushing whilst she emptied every bag and began to fold everything nicely.
The least she could do was put everything where it belonged, then she would confront Rettacus about all that he had purchased for her and why he had purchased her such an absorbent amount.
About two hours later, Clarice had finished folding all of the clothing and putting everything where it belonged.
Now she had finally managed to attend to herself and brush her teeth and have a quick shower.
She dressed herself in a new outfit and was utterly surprised at how well Rettacus chose clothes.
He had bought her everything that was both her style and trendy. She loved it all.
She put on a cute knitted set consisting of a knitted gray shirt, knitted gray leggings and a knitted gray cardigan that had sleeves that reached above her elbows, leaving her forearms bare - she thought it would be perfect for the weather.
She noticed that Rettacus had bought her a thick necklace and she had placed it on her neck - even though it did not match whatsoever - just to hide the mark that was so strategically placed where everyone could see it.
She had pulled her damp hair back into a messy bun and noted in her head that it was more than time to get a haircut, she just needed to figure out how and where.
She sprayed some perfume on her skin before putting everything back in its place and leaving the room.
She figured Rettacus would not be escorting her to the dining room today so she had decided to walk to it herself.
She no longer feared anyone bothering her, especially when something inside of her managed to help her fight back.
For once she felt content in the castle. But she still felt homesick.
She walked down the staircase while holding the railing and with her head raised absentmindedly.
She watched as the guards below walked through the hallway, and walked into the rooms that she had yet to investigate.
She had noticed even on the battlegrounds how organized everything was. Nobody was doing nothing, something was always going on.
When she reached the bottom of the staircase she had decided not to go directly to the dining room - instead something urged her to enter the room directly to the side that was not being guarded.
She gulped before turning her body to face it and hesitatingly opened the door before stepping inside.
She did not know why she had such an urge to enter this room. Especially when it revealed something like an office and large bookshelves that were placed nicely on each wall from floor to ceiling.
She walked towards the large wooden table placed in the middle of the room - a book that was left open caught her attention and her eyes narrowed as she tried analyzing it whilst nearing it.
The book was huge.
Bigger than any book she had ever seen and she was intrigued to find out what it was about and why she felt as if a force was pushing her closer to it.
When she reached it, the large cursive letters that were in thick black ink caught her attention.
LYCANTHROPE - THE DARK AGES
She tilted her head in confusion while squinting her eyes. She knew she had heard of that word before - Lycanthrope - but she was unsure.
She bent her head to see the words better but was shocked to feel as a large hand enclosed around her forearm and swiftly spun her around.
Her forehead slammed against a broad chest but she did not yelp in pain because sparks immediately appeared directly where it would have hurt.
She closed her eyes when his scent consumed her nostrils and she was brought back to last nights events making her toes curl.
His plump lips moved wildly against hers. Rough against soft, yet Clarice remained still until a low growl emitted from his throat that coaxed her to follow.
She was pulled out of her thoughts by a warning growl that made her eyes snap up.
The King was glaring directly at her with that familiar look in his eyes.
The look he had given her before nearly choking her in the cabin.
That deadly glint in his eyes.
His grip was tight around her forearm and no matter how many sparks erupted on her skin she could not deny how painful his hold was becoming.
Her face contorted into a grimace and she tried to pull her hand away from him but his hold only tightened.
“Let go. You are hurting me.” She gritted out, the pain of his hold making her stomach churn.
His eyes only darkened while they narrowed.
His lips curled up in distaste and she noticed how his canines had long elongated.
“Let go!” She told him while tugging her arm roughly - trying her hardest to get away from him.
Her eyes welled up when she felt his sharp claws pierce her skin - she had not expected him to hurt her.
Especially not after everything that had happened between them, and she deemed herself an idiot for allowing her all of her walls to fall.
She gazed at him pleadingly but she noticed that the deadly look in his eyes and the malicious smirk on his lips were not going away anytime soon.
“Let go!” She croaked out in pain, she could feel as her blood slowly trickled out from where his claws had pierced the skin of her forearm and the punctures were beginning to burn.
Yet he was not letting go, in fact his hold only tightened and he seemed to enjoy it. Especially when his eyes landed on the warm tears that began to trail down her flushed cheeks.
“You’re hurting me!” She cried out loudly when she felt the entire length of his sharp claws enter her skin, nearly hitting her bone.
She let out a strangled sob-like scream and she noticed as his eyes suddenly widened in shock - as if he was entirely unaware of what was going on.
Due to this she managed to pull away from him and bring her injured hand protectively to her chest - she used the palm of her other hand to cover the holes he had punctured in the skin of her forearm and cried out when she felt the warm liquid immediately coat her palm.
She looked up at him in fear - her back hitting the table behind her when she cowered away.
His eyes were glued on her bloody forearm before he slowly looked up at her - his eyes were still as dark as ever and she felt her lips quiver as more sobs tickled the back of her throat.
“Get the hell out of this room.” His ordered boomed in the office and she felt her heart skip a beat.
She did not waste a second to stumble out of the room while holding her bloodied forearm to her chest, her heart hammering under the layers of her skin.
She could not help but run up the stairs all while crying, she would not join them for breakfast, she could not.
She would go to her room, attend to her painful wound and make plans to leave the Kingdom.
She had to leave. She no longer had any will to wait around until they finally allowed her to see her parents.
And she no longer had a deathwish.
Especially now that she knew that no matter how many steps she took forward with the King, he would always make them take ten back.