The next morning, I was so sore. When I pulled myself from my bed, I thought I would have to crawl to my bathroom just to take a shower. I wound up taking a bath and scrubbing every inch of myself raw.
The entire time I wished that what happened the night before had been a dream. But there was too much evidence to prove it was real. Bruises on my hips where his fingers had held me tight, and a bite mark on my neck that had almost gone too far.
And that had been my first time. With any male. Ever.
My first had been a Lycan.
Gods, how could you be so stupid, Elle?
Over and over, I berated myself while getting ready for the day. I had to wear a turtleneck dress made of a thin material to hide my neck in case I saw anyone else.
Although Rhett made it clear he didn’t want anyone to see me while there were guests in the house. It was still early now, and I hoped that I could sneak into the kitchen while the rest of the house was still asleep from their drunken stupor the night before.
When I opened my bedroom, I looked down and saw my feet were bare. Remembering my last conversation with Rhett and Octavia I rolled my eyes and pulled on a pair of ballet flats. Then I snuck through the silent halls and into the hidden servants’ stairs that would take me straight down to the kitchen.
The kitchen staff were busy preparing breakfast for the guests and I slipped inside. No one said anything to me, and I didn’t say anything to them. They were kind enough to turn a blind eye as I slipped my hands into a basket of fresh blueberry muffins.
After a muffin I was nibbling on apple slices and staring out the kitchen window when a booming voice echoed down the hallway outside. Every member of the staff in the kitchen went on high alert. Working faster and cleaning as they went.
I tossed my untouched apple slices and made a break for the stairs near the walk-in pantry.
“I’d say last night was a success.” Rhett’s reverberated through the kitchen as he walked in just as I was shutting the door to the servant’s stairs. I kept the door opened a crack as curiosity got the best of me.
“It certainly was. So many yummy Alphas right under our roof.” Octavia’s voice was shrill as she giggled.
“Octavia, gross.” Rhett admonished. “I know we’re trying to secure an alliance and find you a mate, but I don’t want to hear you talking like that.”
The air froze in my lungs as I heard that. Rhett Prescott always had some plan up his sleeves when he invited other Alphas for meetings and grand parties. But I didn’t know he was using Octavia to secure an alliance. From the sound of it, she was excited for their plan.
“Sorry, Father.” Through the crack in the door, I could see the smirk on her face as she twirled her blonde hair around her finger.
“We’ll have the formal dance tonight. So, after breakfast we can go into the city with some guards and find you a new dress. My tux needs a stitch fixed anyhow.” He loudly slurped at a mug of coffee and sniffed at some bacon.
“Of course. There are plenty of good werewolves staying with us…” she started.
“Hmm, try to sway a Lycan if you can.” Rhett interrupted.
Her eyes went as wide as dinner plates, and I thought I heard Octavia’s jaw hit the floor. “The Lycans are terrifying, Father. I swear last night I thought half of them looked at me as if they literally wanted to eat me!”
“Oh, Octavia, grow up. They aren’t really that bad. Plus, if we can get one of them as your mate, the alliance and power that we could get through them would be immense. Alpha Calderon seems promising.”
“He’s attractive, but he’s scary,” Octavia huffed. “Plus, his pack is so far north I’d be under snow most of the year! The Lycans might be able to stand arctic winters, but I am not built like that.”
“Ugh,” Rhett groaned. “Stop complaining before I pick one of them for you. You have the dance tonight to pick one and the rest of the weekend to charm an Alpha into agreeing with my proposal.”
“Fine! Don’t even think about talking to the ugly ones!” The kitchen door slammed shut as Octavia stormed out.
One last glance through the crack I peeked through, and I saw Rhett leaning over the kitchen sink and ignoring the staff as he stared into his coffee mug as though it held all the answers in the world. I silently shut the door and snuck up the stairs mulling over this new information.
What happened last night slipped my mind and I wondered how the rest of the weekend would go with Octavia trying to spread her legs for every Alpha staying with us. If she could snare a mate this weekend, then she might be out of my life for good in the coming weeks.
But what would that mean for me?
My bedroom was on the same floor as some as the spare guest rooms and recreational spaces. Dipping my head out of the secret stairway and down the hall showed me that no one was out. It was safe for me to make the run to my room.
I was under orders not to be spotted so I needed to get back before anyone saw me…
“Ah!” I yelped when a firm grip wrapped around my elbow and jerked me around a corner. My back slammed against a hard chest and a hand clamped over my mouth.
“Hush, little nymph. You were trying so hard to be stealthy. I’d hate for you to be caught now.” Over the sound of blood rushing through my ears and my heart thumping madly in my chest I heard two men chatting and laughing walking down the hall I’d just been pulled from.
His hand dropped from my mouth but trailed down to my neck and lingered there.