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Chapter 3: Jason

The sky is a silver gray as I sit on my couch, just staring out the window. It was Saturday, and I had no work to occupy my time with, so I was aimless. I tried to play some video games, but there was only so much of a first person shooter game that I could take, not to mention the other people on the mics before I gave it up. I was bored and it left my mind free to wander, and of course it was wandering into territories that I would rather have stayed out of.

Halloween was fast approaching, and I could feel snow on the air. I don’t know why the time seemed to keep rushing past me, but I chose not to care. Every second knowing that Victoria was not at my side was pointless anyway, so I was content to let it fly by me. I still had not been able to come up with a plan to try and contact Victoria. She was just so out of my reach, and it made me feel pathetic. In my isolation though I was able to think a little. My thoughts revolved around Victoria as always, and I wondered if she thought about me too. I doubt they would have been good thoughts if she spared any for me. I couldn’t even be mad about it because this was the bed that I had made, and now I had to lay in it.

I don’t know how much time had passed as I sat there, when a knock on my door startled me out of my reverie. The sky had darkened, and when I looked at my phone it was after 6 o’clock and my stomach rumbled at me, reminding me that even though I didn’t have much of an appetite, my body still needed food. The knock sounded again.

“I’m coming!” I would have been annoyed if who ever it was left before I got to the door.

I stretched, my joints popping from sitting in one position too long, before I jogged over to the door to pop it open. There was Pete. He grinned at me when he saw me. He had cut his hair short and his skin was a touch paler due to the lack of sunshine. I was genuinely happy to see him. It would break up the monotony of my day, and I welcomed the distraction.

“Hey, Pete, how’s it going? You want to come in?” I moved back and waved my hand for him to enter. He slid past me with a nod and a grin and went and plopped himself on my couch.

“Hey man. You’ve been couped up in here, so I figured I come check up on you. I was thinking about going out and getting a bite and a drink you want to come? Be my wing man?” He was giving me his best puppy dog stare and it made me crack up. The first genuine laugh I’d had in months.

“Right now?” I asked him, my hands waving towards the crumpled sweats and t-shirt I wore.

“I’ll give you time to get showered and dressed but you better hurry it up or all the finest ladies will already have been swooped up before we get there.” He gave me a stern look and pointed to the bathroom, “hurry up man, go now.” I laughed again and it felt good. I raised my hands in mock defeat and turned toward the bathroom. Taking my shirt off as I went.

I showered quickly, washing my hair and taking the time to shave, the stubble that had been forming on my chin was enough to cover my whole sink counter, which I quickly wiped off. I put some curl wax in my hair and styled it into soft waves pulled away from my forehead. I dressed in all black, since that was my frame of mind most of the time these days, and not to mention the fact that I was aware that I looked good in black. Victoria liked me in all black.

I shook that thought out of my head and wanted to smack myself for having it in the first place. I knew she wasn’t thinking about me so why was I so stuck on her? My mind screamed back at me that she was my mate and that I would always think about her. I angrily buttoned my shirt, leaving 3 undone, hoping that it looked sexy and not like the desperate fool I felt like.

“Damn, I said shower and get dressed, not shower and get sexy bro. All the ladies are only going to pay attention to you.” Pete sulked for a moment while I laughed at him.

“You know there is only one girl I want man, so all others I will send your way.” I tried to keep the grin on my face, but I saw the look of pity that had crossed Pete’s face before he was able to mask his thoughts, and I felt my grin fade.

“Let’s go man I’m starving.” Pete clapped me on the arm, and I followed him, grabbing my keys and wallet before closing the door behind me.

We ended up in a little bar that served food about a block from my apartment. I felt ridiculous because every time I looked out of the window I was hoping that maybe I would catch a glimpse of Victoria, hell I would have been happy to catch a glimpse of Marcus or Daemian, because I knew that she would be close. I shook my head forcefully, annoyed with myself. I had come out with Pete as an attempt to get her off my mind and here I was looking for her and her lovers. Bile rose in my throat as the word lovers crossed my mind, but I swallowed it down, along with the lump that had formed in my throat.

Pete stopped talking and just looked at me, realizing that I had not been hearing a word he said. I felt bad and apologized, asking him to repeat himself. He was talking about a woman at his job that was going around the office and sexual harassing all of the men. It made me laugh because you don’t usually hear stories of women doing that, it’s usually men that get called out for that kind of thing.

“I’m serious man, she’s a total babe too. She hasn’t approached me yet, but I am patiently waiting my turn. I’m a little offended that it had taken her so long too. I’m an attractive man.” He pouts like a little kid and it cracks me up, my laugh booming across the room. Pete looks pleased that he got me to laugh and honestly it makes me feel better. He had me laughing so hard with his antics that my face started to hurt with how much I was smiling, the muscles having not been used in quite some time.

I was mid laugh when I looked up at the window, not with the intention of looking for anyone, but because I saw movement and me eyes naturally turned towards the movement. It was Margo, and my laughter died in my throat. I was up and out of my seat and moving for the door before my brain really had a chance to catch up to my body. I heard Pete call out to me, but I just waved at him and kept going, I didn’t know what I was going to say to her, but I knew I had to do something.

“Margo!” I called to her, hoping that she heard me on the crowded street. I was still in the door way of the bar, but when she turned to see who had called her she made direct eye contact with me. Her eyes grew cold and I could feel the chill of her stare over the chill of the October air. She had been walking with a tall willowy man and when she started to walk back to me, he followed behind her.

“Jason. What did you want?” Her normally warm and open voice was a blast of ice in my face, with ice cycles practically dripping from each word. Her cold tone did not match her appearance though, her make up was warm orange and gold tones that made the gold flecks in her eyes stand out, and her lips were a chocolate brown that looked lovely on her coffee and cream skin. Her hair was piled up in a neat bun, with loose curls framing her face. She was dressed in a tight fitting dress that matched her lipstick and high heeled boot that were also the same color. She looked beautiful, and it made me think that maybe I was interrupting a date.

“Oh, sorry, I… I don’t want to interrupt your date. We can talk some other time.” I sheepishly rubbed the back of my neck and looked away from her and the tall man that stood to her right and behind her.

“I’m not on a date. Did you finally want to come clean about what really happened to my best friend?” she folded her arms over her chest, and I saw the man behind her tense. It was an unusual reaction and I felt myself tense up in response. The man was tall, at least six foot seven, making me have too look up to meet his eyes. They were almost like Victoria’s eyes, except where hers were green fading into blue fading into purple, this man’s eyes faded from a bright, almost neon green to a deep forest green to an ultramarine blue. His hair was a deep black and it was long and straight as a pin, pulled back into a tight high pony tail, and wisps of shorter hair framing his face. His jaw was angular, and his whole presence made me think of a large jungle cat, but not in a shapeshifter kind of way. His body was muscular in the way that a swimmer would be muscular, and he was dressed in a simple black dress shirt and tight fitting black dress pants. He was intimidating.

“Uh, yes,” I said hesitantly, “but it’s a conversation that I would prefer to have in private. Since it’s a sensitive topic.” The man who stood with Margo cocked his head to the side, almost like a bird, and I saw the air waiver around him. I blinked my eyes in shock and tried to refocus my eyes. He was producing a glamour. Not like the ones someone like me would have to do a ritual for, but like it was an innate skill, like Victoria being able to force truth from people or me being able to create protection fields. He felt my eyes lock on him, trying to see past the glamour and he narrowed is eyes at me, trying to figure me out.

“You have the sight?” The man’s voice was a deep baritone, and it almost vibrated in my ears at its pitch. I knew what sight he was talking about, and it dawned on me. He was Fae. And he just asked me if I could see all Fae. My heart hammered in my chest and I looked at Margo, who had turned to look at both me and her companion back and forth with a look of astonishment on her face. Margo was walking around with a Fae. Was he high court? How did Margo know this man? Did she know what he was?

“What did you see Jason?” Margo was dead serious and by the tone of her voice and the way she was looking at me, she knew what the man was, and what he was talking about.

“Let’s go inside and talk.” I motioned for them to follow me into the bar, and I went to Pete, wanting to warn him on what was about to go down, and give him a chance to leave if he didn’t want to be involved. Before I had the chance to say anything, both Pete and Margo called out to each other like long lost friends. I was at a loss for words as Pete hopped up and went to give Margo a hug. The man that was following Margo tensed again but did not stop them from embracing.

“Jason, you didn’t tell me that you knew the princess!” Pete called out to me as the trio made their way to the back table that we were sitting at. I was confused as hell, but I answered him.

“Margo is best friends with Victoria,” I had to swallow the lump that was trying to form there, and watched as the knowledge sunk in.

“Oh,” was all Pete said, the silence at the table becoming very heavy.

“Yeah, so we were going to talk about Victoria, and explain everything.” I looked at Pete hard and his eyebrows went up in understanding.

“That’s fine with me. Margo and I go way back and knows a lot about me. She’s good at keeping secrets.” He cocked an eyebrow at me, and I understood what he meant. Margo knew that Pete had power, and that she was trust worthy. It made the racing of my heart quiet a little. I sighed in relief.

“That’s good to know.” I turned and looked at the man that had sat across from me, and then at Margo. She knew about Pete, and his power, so I didn’t hesitate when I did a muffling cast around our table. I didn’t want anyone passing the table to overhear something they shouldn’t. The man jerked his head to face me, but Margo sat completely still and watched me, unfazed.

“You have power, that’s why you could see my glamour.” The man said. I nodded and turned back to face Margo. Her face was blank, and she just watched me, waiting to see what I would do next. I addressed the man at her side first, since he had made the first statement.

“Yes, and that’s how I also figured out that you are Fae, and with based off of what little I’ve seen, you are Margo’s guard.” I turned and looked Margo in her face, trying not to feel as triumphant as I was. “That makes you Fae Royalty. Wouldn’t it, Margo?”

“Yes, it would. Smart boy. This is my guard, Fenix.” Margo was still giving me the evil eye, and I didn’t know what to say for a moment. The Fae have very strict laws about telling people about their true natures. If it were discovered, the Fae that gets caught can make the choice to either trust the person that has discovered them and bare the full truth or use a power similar to glamour that can wipe the discovery from someone’s mind. It was rare for a straight human to discover the true identity of a Fae, but having power gave some of us a leg up. I turned and looked at Pete, because he knew and for the life of me I could not figure out how he would have discovered a royal Fae’s true nature. He caught the look I was giving him and rolled his eyes.

“Margo and I dated a couple years ago. I ended up walking in on her while she was un-glamoured.” He looked at her with wonder in his eyes and smiled at her. She smiled back and he blushed. “Her skin glows, like she has a fire lit beneath her skin, and her eyes are a beautiful mix of gold, orange and red.” I turned back to her, and she was blushing.

“Stop looking at me like that, Pete.” Margo turned her head to face away from him. Avoiding Pete’s look of longing. It made me curious as to why they would have broken up, but I figured if Pete wanted to talk about it he would tell me.

“She told me everything, but we broke up because she is royal, and is expected to marry someone in the royal court.” Pete’s eyes were filled with regret, and I could tell that he had real feelings for her. I was surprised at how small the world was. I wondered at how Margo and Victoria became friends, being as they come from different worlds.

“How did you meet Victoria?” I asked Margo, and her eyes snapped to mine, anger blazing there for a moment before she schooled her features. I almost regretted asking her, but I didn’t take the question back.

“I was sent by the unseelie queen to keep an eye on her. We met in college, and we became friends. She had already been touched by darkness and the queen wanted me to report back to her if anyone came looking for Victoria.” Margo looked at me, pointedly, and my mind was going a mile a minute. Why had the unseelie queen wanted tabs kept on Victoria. What did it matter to them? Was it because Victoria was so powerful?

I know I was concerned with her being dark now. There were a lot of unknow factors and Victoria was powerful enough that any decision that she made could affect the magical community dramatically. I guess even the Fae were concerned about her. Another thought came to me as I looked into Margo’s eyes. Pete had said that Margo’s eyes were gold orange and red. Fenix had two shades of green and one of blue. Victoria’s eyes flashed in my mind, the green fading into blue and then purple. Three colors.

“Oh, my god. Is Victoria part Fae?!” I blurted out the question. Margo actually laughed out loud and covered her face before she tried to look serious again.

“How did it take you all of 10 minutes to deduce that when Victoria hasn’t figured it out for herself in almost eight years?”

“Well how was she supposed to know? I only figured it out by the little bits and pieces of information that I’ve learned in the last ten minutes.” I wanted to laugh, but I knew that I had to tell Margo about what happened to Victoria, I didn’t think that it was going to go over well.

“She is also royalty, and I was to be passed on to her for protection, and as potential husband.” Fenix watched me as he stated that, and I was floored. So Victoria was royalty, and this guy was supposed to be her potential husband.

“Not anymore, Fenix,” Margo said, and she nodded at me, “This is her Mated.” Fenix turned to stare at me, and I saw fire start to burn in his eyes. The instant hate that I saw burning there was almost enough to burn me to ashes. He had the potential to be paired with a woman that was both incredibly powerful and beautiful, and I was standing in his way. I had to gulp down the baseball sized lump of actual fear that formed in my throat. Fenix was a warrior, as in skilled in combat, and magic. I knew that I wasn’t a match for him. I saw Margo grin, because she saw it and was thinking the same thing I was. I must have been extra slow because it took me a moment to realize that she knew I was Victoria’s Mated.

“How did you know that we are Mated?” I asked, confusion coloring my tone, and I felt stupid after I asked. The Fae could feel power. She probably felt it that first time we shook hands in the lobby at work. “Never mind. I know how you knew.” I was slightly ashamed of myself because I was sure that Margo had felt what I tried to do to Victoria the first day. It made me flush with embarrassment.

“So, are you going to tell me what the fuck is going on with Victoria and why I am unable to contact her?” Margo had turned to face me, her eyes angry again.

“As far as I know she’s cut off everyone that she had been close to. She cut off me, you, even her mom. It’s my fault. I should have done more.” I hung my head, ashamed of myself. Pete thumped me on the back. He knew what it was like to be at the mercy of my father, and not being able to fight back.

“Explain, Jason.” Margo’s voice was full of anger and accusations and she was right. It was all my fault. I lifted my head and looked her in her eyes. she was angry for sure, but I also saw concern there. She was worried about Victoria.

“Do you know who Christian Dimitri is?” I watched the knowledge flash through her eyes. She knew who he was, and I watched the disgust and loathing bath her face in a dark light. “So you do know, I’m not surprised. He is widely known for how foul he is.” She nodded her head and squinted her eyes at me, studying my features. I knew she could see it. I looked like my father.

“He’s your father, isn’t he?” She looked disgusted and leaned back away from me as if I shared in my father’s treachery.

“He is, and Victoria fell victim to him.” I couldn’t meet her eyes anymore. Whatever she was thinking about me could not have been any worse than what I was thinking about myself. A pit of self-loathing had opened within me ever since I had turned from her that night, and every day I found another thing that I could toss into the pit, filling it up more and more.

“So, she went dark?” the tone of Margo’s voice threw me off. It was relieved, and almost gentle. I jerked my head up to meet her eyes and then looked at Fenix.

“Why do you say that like you’re relieved?” I asked, unable to keep the incredulity out of my voice.

“Because I am relieved, Jason. Victoria is royalty of the Unseelie court. We are made of darkness. It’s good that she let go of the hypocrisy of the light.” I was astonished and could not find words for a second. I turned to Pete and he looked shocked as hell too. Victoria was a member of the dark court. She was meant to be dark. That’s why it felt good to her. Did that mean as her mate, was I meant to be dark too? My whole life felt like it had all been one huge lie. I couldn’t find the words to say anything back to Margo. She had just dropped a huge bombshell on me, and I couldn’t quite pick up all the pieces of my mind yet.

“This doesn’t make any sense. Her mom is the Grand Mistress, and she was meant to take over that mantle when her mother was ready to pass it on.” I tried to reason, as if that would really change anything. I was still questioning myself and all of the choices I had made up until this point. “And speaking of her mom, does she even know any of this?”

“No, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, the Grand Mistress is not aware that the man she had married, and her own daughter are Fae.” She looked down at her hands like she wasn’t sure what to say, not meeting my gaze, but must have figured out what to say next because she continued. “The unseelie queen is my grandmother, and Victoria’s grandmother, on her father’s side. He was the eldest son of the queen and was meant to receive the throne after the queen died, but he met Victoria’s mother, and abdicated his royal status, completing a ritual to become fully mortal.”

“Holy shit,” Pete said with feeling, taking the words right out of my mouth. “We need to get her the hell away from Christian. If he found out that she’s Fae, and not only Fae, but royalty, there’s no telling what he would do to her.” I nodded in agreement, trying to think. How was I going to contact Victoria? She cut me completely off.

“You are correct, Christian is evil, and though we may be dark, we do not taint ourselves the way he does.” The look of disgust returned, but she looked at me and a new emotion formed in her eyes, I just couldn’t figure out what it meant. “I’m glad that you don’t take after him. He is truly evil.”

“I know. He used coercion on Victoria to commit a human sacrifice.” Margo looked unfazed by that, as if it didn’t matter to her. I guess being dark meant that you cared less about the powerless humans around you. It seemed to be that there was a big difference between just being dark and taking it further as my father had to the realm of evil. Maybe there was still hope that things would work out for me and Victoria.

“As long as she does not become demon touched, she would still be part of the royal court, which is why our grandmother sent me to keep track of her, and because of this, misunderstanding, I am currently failing my mission.” Margo puffed out an angry sigh.

“Why couldn’t Victoria have been told about this? I know the Fae have laws about telling outsiders about things, but she’s not an outsider,” I was still confused about how Margo could have been by Victoria’s side for so long and not tell her about this huge part of herself.

“She technically is an outsider. Her mother is mortal, and her father had thrown away his life prior to meeting her mother, so he was no longer considered and insider. He was bound and could not talk about it with her. And honestly, I didn’t want to add to everything else she was going through. She had just been left by her first love that she had been turning dark for and then practically forced back into the light where she doesn’t belong. It was a lot to deal with, and all I wanted, as her cousin, was to help her get through her pain.”

I was speechless again. There were no possible scenarios that I could think of that would have ended up with things different at this point. I cradled my head, I had so many thoughts going through my mind, and it was giving me a headache. I didn’t know what else to say to Margo, or if I even had anything else to say. I decided to tell her about Daemian and Marcus, because maybe Margo knew them.

“The night that my father got is claws in Victoria, she took two men, and now she’s with them. I don’t know if she’s ever told you about either of them, but their names are Daemian Dezuli and Marcus Chekophski.” My heart pounded thickly and painfully and the mention of the men that Victoria preferred.

“Are you fucking serious? It’s going to next to impossible to get her back then Jason.” Margo held her head in her hand and was shaking it. My stomach felt like it was falling out of my body. “Daemian was her first love. Now that they have each other back, he’s not going to let her go without a fight, and she’s not going to just give him up again. And Marcus you said? The only thing that I will say about him is that I was not the only person that was sent to keep track of Victoria. You fucked up. You should have stayed with her.”

“Don’t you think I know that? I regret my decision every day. I thought that if I left then I could come back for her and save her. But now you’re telling me that she’s meant to be dark, and she’s with her first love who was dark from the beginning? She doesn’t need me.” I felt the tears creeping up behind my eyes and start to fill my waterline, but I kept my eyes wide so that they would not spill. Maybe I really wasn’t her Mated. Maybe it was all a mistake. “Maybe I’m not really her Mated, then.” And that’s when the first tear fell, sliding down my face feeling like fire, marking the trail of my sorrow and regret.

“No, you are her Mated. I felt it. There is no denying that. But has it occurred to you that maybe you had always meant to be dark too? You father is evil, and your Mated has royal dark unseelie Fae blood in her veins. Maybe you should think about that. I see the way you cling to the light, but really what is light with out darkness. You choose how deep into darkness you go Jason, but I think that was always meant to be your place.”

My mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. She was saying that she though I was always meant to be dark and I didn’t know how to respond to that. she was right though. Because of how evil and malicious my father was, I rebelled so hard and always clung to the opposite spectrum from him, doing everything in my power to keep from making the same choices. I wanted to reach out and talk to Victoria, to tell her what I found out, but I had no idea on how to do that.

“If I can some how get into contact with Victoria, could I tell her about you? That wouldn’t be breaking the law because I’m not Fae, and she would know, and we could figure things out from there.” I tried not to let the hope i felt in my heart show on my face but I’m pretty sure that Margo saw right through me because she rolled her eyes and nodded.

“It’s a good idea, so if you manage to get into contact with her please let me know as soon as possible. Gram has been breathing down my neck for losing contact.” Margo stood and Fenix stood with her, his face sullen until his eyes met mine. His eyes burned like a forest fire, and I felt scorched. He must have really had his eyes set on Victoria. “Don’t fuck this up, Jason.” And with that Margo turned and walked out of the bar, throwing a a kiss and a wave over her shoulder to Pete.

My mind was in overload, trying to think of some way to get into contact with Victoria. Pete and I paid for our meal and left the bar, he was no longer interested in picking up a girl after seeing Margo, so he was fine with heading home alone. We talked a little bit about the conversation, but I could only think that about how to try and contact Victoria. If she knew then she would understand why things turned out the way they had. I knew that it was selfish, my wanting to tell her everything so much, because a part of me didn’t want to feel as guilty about my decisions. It was immature and did not excuse what I did, and it brought me back to my question from before. Did I really love Victoria, or was it my power that was telling me I should? The cynical part of my brain told me that if I had really loved her, I would have stayed by her side no matter what the cost.

We made it back to the apartments and I waved to Pete as I was about to go in, and a thought came to me. My eyes locked on Pete as a plan formulated. Victoria had only met Pete the one time, so she wouldn’t think to magically block him too, would she? I must have had a weird look on my face because Pete looked at me like I was crazy.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

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