Chapter 18: Ugly Truth
It’s safe to say that I’d be irrelevant if my name wasn’t my name, or if my family wasn’t my family. It’s also safe to say that if it wasn’t for him, this pretty dress would’ve gone unnoticed. However, as Hunter and I emerged through the entrance of the ballroom, every breathing being had turned their utter attention to us and wouldn’t bother to so much as blink.
The music had stopped as had the chatter, and if you were to drop a pin on the floor, it would more than likely be very much audible through this deafening silence.
I didn’t like it.
I’ve never been quite fond of being the center of attention, in fact, I was quite used to and happy living in the shadow of my brother and my father, alongside my mother. Well...perhaps not alongside my mother.
So long as she stood beside my father, she too stood with all eyes on her.
Considering this, I supposed that as of right now--this moment--I was Hunter’s girl. That was what it seemed like as I stood beside him, at the top of the staircase descending to the ballroom floor with my arm intertwined with his and my side pressed against his for a sense of comfort in this great tension of anxiety.
Although I am frozen in my spot and my eyes are glued on the crowd before us, I noticed Hunter leaned into me. He whispered in my ear, “Are you alright?”
My lips parted to respond, but the words never did find themselves past my lips. Instead, they halted at the tip of my tongue as the presence of a silver-white haired woman caught my sight and utterly paralyzed me.
I hadn’t gotten a clear look of her face as...before I could, she turned to the man standing beside her and stated something that I didn’t catch. The man gave her a long look before nodding, and with that, she stepped away.
My heart dropped to my stomach, my breath catching in my lungs as I watched her walk away and my sight subconsciously averted to the man who she once stood beside. His hazel eyes reflected Hunter’s beautiful irises as his strong features did as well.
I found my King.
An undeniable urge to respect the man who began his approach toward Hunter and I settled in my chest. Yes, for a moment, the man distracted me, but my curiosity over the woman I had spotted still lingered in my mind and I had every intention on finding out who she was.
I looked up at the man standing before me, drawing a shaky breath at his presence. It was strange...feeling the same strength that radiated from Hunter also radiate from this man. Aside from Isabelle, Silver’s mother who was also my Queen, I wasn’t used to feeling instinctual inferiority to anyone who wasn’t a Seeker.
My gaze swiftly fell to the handshake Erebus exchanged with Hunter, however, the intense stares were still not ignored. If they bothered me before, they sure bothered me even more now that I had two superiors standing but inches away from me.
Luckily, Erebus’ arrogance was there to save the day by taking my hand in his and distracting me from them.
“And, who may this lovely lady be?” he asked Hunter, but refrained from looking away from me. His eyes bored into my own, his hand bringing mine up to his lips to plant a tender kiss. A smirk played on his lips and a hard string of chills shot up my spine.
He’d done it on purpose, knowing he’d have an effect on me at fault of the beings that we are and his position in our race.
“Erebus,” Hunter began, “this is Celic, Tarlac’s daughter.”
Here we go...
Erebus’ muscles tensed at Hunter’s words, realizing in whose presence he was in. He was careful in releasing my hand from his hold and his voice trailed off as he stated, “I see...”
The smirk once plastered on his face faded away, but his eyes continued to stare into me as if he expected something from me.
At this, after a while, I snapped, “Why are you looking at me like that?”
I felt Hunter’s arm untwine with mine and his hand slid around the small of my back, stopping at my waist and tightening. His actions had taken me aback, but I caught myself before what would’ve been a very audible gasp emitted.
“You remind me of someone,” Erebus admitted.
“My father?” I sassed. “Yes, I know, I’ve been told.”
I gave Hunter a mere sideways glance in acknowledgement, I understanding that his actions were of a result from my own. He didn’t want to have to remind me how to behave, as he mentioned in the car.
“Actually,” my attention reverted to Erebus as he added, “I was going to say you remind me of my little slave. Your attitude, looks...it’s quite strange how similar you are to each other.”
Slave..? That woman was his slave..?
It was true that I didn’t get a very good look at her, but I was sure she was no human. Not just the unique color of her hair told me that she was gifted, but her entire demeanor...that woman was a pureblood vampire.
A hard knot formed at the edge of my throat at the single thought of how strong he truly must be to have belittled a vampire of the highest ranks within our race.
I finally understood why Hunter must have been acting strange the past few days: he was worried of me meeting his brother.
He didn’t have to be though. Erebus couldn’t touch me even if he wanted to.
Although I knew this, I didn’t take advantage of the fact that I carried my family’s and the Seeker’s last name. I respected him for who he was and when my thoughts returned to the woman who he claimed was his slave, I respectfully bowed my head to him as I stated, “Excuse me.”
Now that I had introduced myself to the King and he to me, I was prepared to go and find her.
“Where are you going?” Hunter took my arm under his hold, pulling me back into him.
I had taken but a step down the stairs when he did this, having me step back onto the same step he stood on. My head snapped to him, my eyes catching his own. Long looks were exchanged between us and sometime within those few seconds, the music had been turned back on and half of the crowd went back to whatever they had been doing before we gained their attention.
“None of your business..?” I hesitantly retorted as I awkwardly shifted my gaze.
“It is my business,” he protested. “Your father gave me specific orders not to let you out of my sight.”
I arched an eyebrow at his final statement, and the look he gave me that followed was enough to know that he knew he should’ve stopped at ‘it is my business’.
A scoff passed my lips and I snatched my arm out of his reach, “Like you haven’t for the past few days?”
If there wasn’t any tension between us before, there was now.
His once soft gaze instantly turned to a glare and he growled, “We will not do this here.”
“Then let me go.”
I was persistent: everything that I needed to be in front of a crowd. I knew Hunter wasn’t looking to make a scene, and by frankly, neither was I. However, I wanted to go see that woman. I wanted to find out who she was.
If a scene is what it would’ve took, a scene is what I was prepared to make.
Thankfully, that wasn’t necessary as, in the next moment, Hunter gave in and I swiftly turned back and away from him. I faced Erebus for no more than a couple of seconds, his hard gaze lingering on me until he stepped aside and allowed me to descend the long staircase.
Once having planted my feet on the beautiful marble floor, I did my best to avoid eye contact and ignored the few that continued staring at me even as I walked past them and kindly asked them to move out of my way. When I met the door that I had seen the woman exit through, I glanced back at Hunter only to find that the glower hadn’t faded on his features.
This is probably the last time he’s taking me anywhere with him...
For a moment, I regretted my actions. I truly did enjoy spending time with him; he was nice company to keep, under the rude mask he wore.
Whether my actions would greatly affect our relationship or not, it didn’t matter anymore. There was nothing I could do to change it and, although he stood across the room, we stared at each other for a while.
When I saw that the hard look he gave me wasn’t going to change, I decided to go on about doing what I had intended to do since I spotted that woman.
I pushed the double doors open, stepping into the long corridor that was revealed. At first, I was in awe at the sight of the beautiful silver figures in the black carpet floor and the silver-painted walls.
It’s very difficult to make those colors correlate on walls and floors, but it was very well done in this hall.
When my eyes finally fell away from the walls, they instantly landed on the back of a woman who’s silver-white hair hung just above her waist and concealed her bare back. I noticed the hem of her dress lightly brushed against the floor as she paced back and forth, and there was nothing but the sound of her heels clicking that met my ears, until the sound of my own mixed with hers.
She must not have noticed this. How could she? Judging by the way she brought her hands up to her head and ran them through her hair, she was utterly distressed.
Could it be..?
My still heart nearly pounded in my chest, fear, anxiety and excitement overwhelming me. I wanted to believe that I had found my love; that I had found the one person that had broke me down so hard when she left but made me feel so much before she did.
“Silver?” I called.
My hand had lightly gripped her shoulder. I felt her tense under my touch, her movements completely ceasing as she froze on her spot.
“Silver?” I called again.
This time, she apprehensively turned to me, and when my eyes caught hers...tears welled at the brim of them.
It’s her...my Silver... I found my Silver...
She parted her lips and when she spoke, they moved so slow and I couldn’t processed her voice; I couldn’t hear a thing. I didn’t want to hear anything. All I wanted...
My hands cupped the side of her face and I embraced her in a passionate kiss. Her hands slid around my back, pulling me into her as well as she kissed me back with the same emotions I delivered to her.
I knew she wanted me too...
My heart fluttered with happiness. The taste of her lips on mine were, by far, what I missed the most, and all that mattered was that I had her in my arms again and she had me.
Unfortunately, this didn’t last very long as within a matter of seconds, she gently pulled away from me and I heard her voice trail off, “Celic...”
I was stupid, and too happy to care that she seemed utterly disappointed and unhappy. All I cared about was having her back, or believing that I did.
The smile on my face couldn’t have been wiped away by anything and I cheerfully stated, “I’ve missed you so much!”
I had thrown my arms around her, embracing her in a tight hug that she never returned. However, at that moment, it didn’t bother me that she didn’t hold me back. In fact, I hadn’t even noticed it. All I noticed was the sound of her beautiful voice calling my name, even if it was in pain, “Celic...”
“You can come home,” I chirped as I tightly gripped her hands in mine. “Right now, you can leave with us. Your parents miss you. I miss you. You can leave with me!”
My eyes searched her sad ones, not seeing through her, but merely seeing a reflection of my own happiness as I tried to convince myself that she was happy to see me too.
“Or we don’t have to go home if you don’t want to,” I suggested. “I’ll come with you. I’ll stay with you. We can be together, just us two.”
I cut her off, “I’ll run away with you. I--”
She had silenced me...looking at me with eyes that I couldn’t understand. The anger in her voice had snapped me out of my state of utter happiness...and nothing could have prepared me for what followed.
“I-I’m not going back and I don’t want you to stay with me,” she admitted.
At first, I wasn’t sure what she meant or why she said the horrible things she did.
“W-Why not?” my voice shook.
I wanted to believe it was a joke.
But, it wasn’t.
What was a joke was the way I was jumping for joy before I realized I was merely dancing with myself.
It felt as if my heart had split right down the middle and sent burning shocks of pain to my throat that spread through my chest. The air had vanished from the atmosphere; I was left to suffocate in the remainings of the little that I felt I was.
“You don’t want me..?” my voice cracked.
The bridge of my nose stung, but the tears strayed until I heard the words that would utterly break me, “No. I don’t.”
Silver sighed and I searched her eyes in hope that I’d find some sign that would tell me she was merely saying this because something or someone had upset her.
“What you and I had was just fun, you knew that. That’s all it’ll ever be: fun. I don’t love you, Celic. I never did,” she meant every word.
“Go home,” she harshly demanded.
My whole world came crashing down on me, and all I could do was try to cry out, “Silv--”
“Don’t call me that,” she growled. “Go. Home. Celic.” She paused to eye me in disdain before adding, “And I’d appreciate if you didn’t tell anyone about this.”
With that, my heart couldn’t decide whether to be angry or simply hurt. So, it did what it never should have: allowed my anger to dance with my pain.
All in a matter of seconds, I hated her. For a moment, I was glad that she was what Erebus treated her as.
“And why is that?” I finally responded. “You enjoy being Erebus’ bitch?”
She flinched at the words I shamelessly spat at her. I could see the pain in her eyes, but at that moment, I didn’t care. I wanted her to feel what I felt.
“You pick this over us?” I motioned at all of her, referring to her title as Erebus’ slave, pet, whatever she was to him.
“It’s okay,” I cut her off, “I get it.”
But, I didn’t. I couldn’t understand how she preferred this life over one with her family.
How could she prefer a life like this over one with me..?
Did I mean that little to her..?
Tears not only slid down my cheeks, but also slid down hers. I couldn’t understand why she was crying as...this is what she wanted. And gladly, I left her be. I walked away, knowing that I may not see her again, and I said to her, “Have fun being his new little toy.”
Nothing made sense to me. Not a single thing. However, I understood one thing: she didn’t want me the way I wanted her.
She never did, and deep down, I always knew it.
I’ve been lying to myself...
I didn’t realize it then, I was too busy trying holding myself together as I emerged back into the room, but...if I hadn’t lost my temper, I would’ve never let her go.
Not even if she didn’t want me anymore.
However, it was too late to go back. I had to get out of here before I did something I’d regret.