It was the next day and Clarice could not deny the jitters that she had been feeling throughout the length of last night, that had only progressed to this afternoon.
She had eaten her breakfast with the men silently this morning and she had most definitely sat in her own seat because she refused to anger the King again.
Yesterday - after their little kiss - he had made a plan for them to talk in his office at exactly five in the afternoon the next day - today - and she did not want anything to block them from having a sincere conversation for once.
She straightened out her sweater nervously, she knew that it was close to five pm and that made her anxiety grow.
She eyed the rack that was holding the dresses Rettacus had purchased for her in the corner of her room and sighed.
She had wanted to see the dresses and choose one right away in hopes of sending the rest back, but she decided to settle for tonight since she was surprisingly busy today.
The door to her bedroom unexpectedly opened making her stand from the edge of her bed and narrow her eyes at the person who had entered so abruptly.
Her eyes revealed a smiling Rettacus and she smiled back at him politely.
“Hello again Claire.” Rettacus stated while shutting the door behind him, Clarice cleared her throat wondering why he had joined her in her bedroom.
She did not mind, but it was getting strange for him to keep popping in every second.
“Hello.” She replied softly, he walked towards the rack in the corner of the room and her emerald eyes followed his movements.
Her brows were furrowed and she watched as he used his index finger to trace the outline of a burgundy colored dress.
“Have you seen the dresses?” He asked her with his gaze still on the burgundy dress.
Clarice slowly neared him with her hands on her hips, “no, I have not had the time to.”
He shook his head, “Come on Claire, I was excited for you to see them. Especially this one...”
She noticed as he trailed off and took in the twinkle in his eyes - he had absolutely loved that dress.
“This one is my favorite.” He told her honestly before ripping his gaze from the dress and looking directly at her.
Clarice pursed her lips before taking a good look at the dress - it was a beautiful dress, but not really her style.
All of the dresses were long, but she did not like their colors. They varied from blue to burgundy to black to a shade of dark pink.
“What do you think?” He asked her curiously, she could feel as his gaze roamed the length of her body and took a subtle step back.
She favored Rettacus over everyone in this castle, but she did not appreciate the way he had suddenly began to act towards her.
The way he ogled her.
“I believe this would look astonishing on you.” He confessed before dragging his gaze back to her eyes - his cheeks slightly pinked.
Clarice cleared her throat - shaking away the strange thoughts from her head. Maybe he meant it in a friendly way, he knows she has a mate, and that man is his own King, so there is no way he could pine over her.
“Thank you. I will let you know after trying them on which one I choose.” She told him awkwardly, trying her hardest to hide the discomfort that she had felt earlier.
Rettacus chuckled while shaking his head in disbelief.
“Why do you have yet to try them Claire? Did you not like them when I had given them to you?”
She instantly shook her head before rubbing the back of her neck.
“No, I have just been a bit busy.” She told him, the way she had said the word ‘busy’ made Rettacus furrow his brows.
“Oh, that is correct. You left abruptly yesterday to find the King. I am sure that took time.” He said that statement with a hint of distaste in his tone but Clarice ignored it.
“Yes, indeed it did. I had to speak to him about something, and I must join him for another meeting today.”
She watched as his face fell and swallowed roughly - since when had he despised the King so much?
“Well I am sure that that meeting will be later today, so you should try on these dresses now and let me see what they look like on. That way you get two opinions!” He suddenly stated making her face scrunch up in confusion.
Why on earth would he want to see the dresses on her after she tries them on? Is that not intimate?
“No, I believe the time for the meeting has come. I apologize, but I should not keep him waiting.”
Clarice tried to persuade Rettacus to allow her to leave the room and avoid trying the dresses on for him but the way his lips fell made her heart clench.
After everything he had done for her, he had only asked her for one thing and she had declined - she felt utterly terrible.
“I understand that you must speak to him, but he can wait. You are his mate, he can wait for you. I just really want to see what you look like in this dress. At least try this one on. Please, for me...”
He pulled out the burgundy dress that was entirely made of sequins before moving to hand it to her.
She grimaced and pondered over what he had said before shrugging - maybe this will not take long.
The King knew she was adamant on having that conversation with him, so she hoped he would not believe she was ditching him if she ends up being late.
She shook her head, Goddess was it a struggle to say no to Rettacus - especially after seeing the look he was giving her.
She sighed in defeat before taking the dress from him, “alright, only this one and then I have to go. Stay here.”
Rettacus chuckled, “alright, alright! Go.”
She shook her head while biting back an amused smile before walking towards her bathroom.
“You can even change in the room if you wish. I can always turn around... I mean, that might be the quicker option” He suddenly stated from behind her making her freeze.
Her eyes widened at how unexpected his words were before she cleared her throat - maybe he meant it in a friendly way.
“No, thank you. I prefer dressing in the bathroom.”
And with that she opened the door to the bathroom the second she had reached it and swiftly shut it behind her - not forgetting to lock the knob.
Her heart was pacing and she could not help but notice how flustered she was looking in her mirror.
She tried to ignore Rettacus’ suddenly odd behavior because she knew he had no ill intentions, yet she could not help how uncomfortable his new statements and behavior made her feel.
She instantly shrugged those feelings away, deciding it was best to compose herself.
With that, she hung the dress by the hanger onto the little holder that was imbedded into the door and began to undress.
She only hoped this would not take too long because she really needed to have that conversation with the King - especially after how much she had struggled to even get him to agree.
She shook her head while sighing, if only Rettacus had not forced her to do this - she would have probably already started the conversation with the King by now.
Once her clothing was off, she took the dress off of the hanger and carefully began to put it on - the burgundy sequins instantly making a mess on the ground as they fell off.
She had unzipped the side zipper and easily wiggled into the dress - once she had her hands through the short sleeves she zipped it up and turned to look at the mirror.
She eyed the dress with thin lips - trailing her gaze across the square neckline to the sleeves and then down to her torso.
The dress was slightly looser on her but that was not Rettacus’ fault for she had yet to tell him her proper size.
She did not really like the dress but she kept a blank face when she went to open the door to reveal it to Rettacus.
Once the door opened and she stepped out she heard as he gasped in the distance and that made her cheeks flush - she hated being the center of attention.
“Goddess I was correct. You look marvelous.” He told her happily while his eyes trailed from the top of the dress to the bottom - she held herself back from squirming.
She looked down and took in the dresses length - it hit the ground and it fell a lot more bulkier than she would have liked.
“What do you think Clarice?” He asked her, she took in the admiration in his wide eyes and the way his face was gleaming before clearing her throat awkwardly.
She could not tell him that she did not like it, especially not after the way he was looking at her.
“I love it.” She said - absolutely lying through her teeth, but he did not notice.
He clapped his hands before placing them on his hips and huffing out with a wide smile on his face - he looked mesmerized and Clarice only lowered her gaze in response.
She had forgotten that she had to quickly change out of the dress and in her clothes to meet the King and the second she realized, she snapped her head up with wide eyes.
“Well, I am glad you like it, but now I must change. The King is awaiting my presence.” She stated frantically while shaking her head.
Rettacus’ eyes narrowed at the mention of the King before she noticed his eyes glue on her shoulder making her brows furrow.
“What?” She asked while dusting the shoulder he was looking at, he chuckled.
“Your hair is stuck on the sequins, wait.” He told her before walking closer towards her.
She gulped nervously while nodding her head warily - he reached her in a second and bent his body so he was leveled with her.
She tried to avoid his strong gaze as he used his hands to separate the strands of her hair that were caught in the sequins - it tugged at her scalp but she did not say anything.
She just wanted to finish quickly but it was clear the the world was utterly against that.
If anybody were to enter the room right now, she realized that it would seem as though they were kissing and that made her breathing pick up nervously.
“Are you done yet?” She asked softly, hoping that she did not sound pushy.
He looked up at her from under his lashes before opening his mouth, but before he could say anything the door to her room abruptly opened making her wide eyes instantly snap upwards.
Her knees wobbled when she noticed who had barged in and she absentmindedly roughly pushed Rettacus away from her.
She watched as his eyes narrowed into thin slits as the dark orbs took in the closeness of his mate and Rettacus.
She knew he must have thought they had kissed and that made her heart begin to hammer against her skin.
She looked nervously at Rettacus who had a sheepish look on his face before she trailed her gaze back to a fuming Cerberus who looked about ready to kill.
He stalked closer towards them and she knew he was targeting Rettacus - especially as she took in the way he was glaring at him.
Rettacus noticed as well and scratched the back of his neck before gulping - he had not meant to be seen by anyone as he helped her, especially not by the King himself.
“Rettacus I suggest you leave.” Clarice stated frantically, her eyes remained on the King whilst she analyzed the way he angrily neared them.
Rettacus looked at her, “he is mad, I can not just leave you-”
“Leave.” Clarice ordered and it did not even take him a second to scurry out of the room - swiftly around an enraged Cerberus - and slamming the door shut behind him, leaving the two mates all alone.
Clarice swallowed roughly before taking in Cerberus’ clenched fists and the way his chest was rapidly rising and falling.
“It is not what it looks like.” She told him softly, hoping he could see the honesty that was swimming in her wide orbs.
He curled his lip up in disgust, “not what it looks like?”
She flinched at his tone and could sense how betrayed he had felt no matter how badly he was trying to cover it up with his anger and it made her heart plummet down to her stomach.
“You had begged me to talk to you, and when I finally agreed, you do not show up and instead you decide to shamelessly frolic with one of my men.”
Clarice exhaled shakily at his words - they hit her like a punch in the gut and made her face scrunch up.
“No. That is not true, I was going to join you-”
“Save it. I should have known how you women are. I had my suspicions and I should have deemed them the truth from the start... I know you have my book, read it and learn. Do not come to me for any more.”
He stormed away from her after that leaving her all alone with an endless amount of tears streaming down her cheeks - why the hell do they always take so many steps back?