Chapter 19: Except For Her
“How’s everything going?” I asked as I averted my attention away from the trail Celic followed to exit the room. Wherever, for whatever reason, she left, it irritated me. I specifically told her not to leave my side…
This is what I get for trying to be nice.
I held the sigh that so desperately wanted to escape my mouth as my eyes fixated on Erebus. He handed me a glass of champagne and eyed me curiously as he responded, “All is well.”
A light hum emitted from the back of my throat, I nodding away as I brought the glass up to my lips to take a sip. I took a moment to savor the drink, satisfied at the warm effect it had on my throat and chest.
When I lowered the glass, my eyes landed on Erebus again and I noticed something was missing.
Whether I should be relieved or not is something that I’d have to wait to find out or fight my curiosity to. Perhaps he had already displayed her and had her thrown back in a cell before she could ruin whatever plans he had for tonight.
Knowing my brother, if the Silver I know is anything like the one I knew, she’d cause a scene and my brother very much hates that.
“So,” he clears his throat before nonchalantly adding, “ you and Tarlac’s daughter, huh?”
Although it did make my heart drop to my stomach, I pretended otherwise, admitting, “She’s just a friend.”
“You’re the buzz kill, little brother,” he chuckles. “You hardly bother to show up to these kinds of things, now with a date?”
He paused momentarily, arching an eyebrow. I was a terrible liar when it came to him—he knew me all too well.
“If I didn’t know any better…” his voice trailed off, “I’d say you like —”
“No,” I cut him off. I didn’t like her; I couldn’t. Well, perhaps as a friend. She was a good friend, but that was it. “She’s...pretty. I guess.” I shrugged.
“Pretty?” he mused.
“Beautiful,” I subconsciously corrected. I didn’t realize what I had done until I noticed the sudden shift in Erebus’ features and I was forced to explain, “But, her father would never allow it and she’s not into me.”
It was a truth I faced but didn’t bother me. Or, at least, I pretended it didn’t. There was just...something about her. She was all right. Physically, I’d take her any day, but everything else, she’s too much.
She cares and she can be friendly; a really good person. She’s predictable, but very much unlike so. Her entire being is complex, but simple. She makes me conflict myself.
She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met and it’s...it scares me.
With the final sip of champagne, I completely drew away from my thoughts of her. I had bigger problems than having to deal with useless emotions over some...girl.
“So,” I cleared my throat, earning Erebus’ attention from whatever he had found himself occupied with while I was occupied with my own thoughts. “Is the coven still threatening you?” I asked.
His muscles tensed at my question and for a moment, he seemed taken aback.
Didn’t expect I’d know?
“Rumors,” he chuckled off in a poor attempt to hide the obvious.
“Rumors have spread amongst all of us,” I acknowledged, thinking back to the meeting Angela called but a couple of days before this where the topic was mentioned. “They’re expecting your word, Erebus.”
As King of his race and running the rules in this realm, it is his responsibility to report any unwanted attention drawn by anything or anyone inhuman. Failure to do so will result in punishment that I have no say or control over.
That, he didn’t understand.
“I have it under control,” he brushed it off, as expected.
I shook my head, sarcastically stating, “Necromancers aren’t magicians popping rabbits out of hats.” I knowing, first hand, witches or warlocks bending magic of the dead are very dangerous, I tried to offer, “If you need help —”
“I don’t need anything, Hunter,” he growled in annoyance. “I said, I have it under control.”
I was already irritated with Celic’s misbehavior, now my own brother’s stubbornness was pissing me off.
Sometimes, I have to wonder...ya know? How fucking stupid are some people?
I narrowed my eyes on him, prepared to scold him as a child I apparently had to.
When I parted my lips, all that met my ears was the sound of a shaky voice, “Hunter…”
That all too familiar voice struck me but amused me at the same time.
This will have to wait…
My gaze snapped to the woman beside me, acknowledging her return in sarcasm, “Back so soon?”
Celic’s head was bowed, her hands held together in front of her as she shifted her weight from foot to foot. “What?” I taunted. “Did you not find anyone to keep you occupied?”
My words scalded her, her body flinching at my response.
I didn’t pity her. In fact, I didn’t care if I embarrassed her. Something or someone else must’ve been much more important seeing as she completely avoided everything I said to her in that car, and me.
She came here with me, to be with me. Not to run off.
“Hunter, I want to go home,” she mumbled.
“We just got here,” I brushed her off.
I didn’t realize something had been bothering her or had done so until she lifted her head to look at me and her eyes were filled with a sadness I had never seen in her before. I could see tears that strayed behind her eyelids, waiting to be relieved at any moment.
“Please…” she whispered. “Just, get me out of here.”
My eyes searched her for maybe a second before I realized exactly what happened. She didn’t have to tell me, I already knew.
“Is everything alright?” Erebus asked.
I had forgotten we were in his presence, and suddenly, I felt utterly anxious. I didn’t care about Silver’s stupid plan, I cared about Celic losing it here and blurting it all out loud. We’d all be killed or punished for merely knowing: every single person in this room, apart from Celic.
“Yeah,” she breathed out, avoiding any further contact with him. “I’m fine.” With that, she turned to me and urged, “Take me home.”
I wasn’t able to respond as Erebus was quick to pry, “What’s going on?”
He wasn’t buying her obvious lie, he knew something was up.
“Nothing!” she snapped and suddenly, all eyes were on us. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Genesee and Mardel getting ready to step in, doing their job as their king’s followers and guards.
Knowing that Erebus would be forced to punish Celic, all for an image because truly...she is beneath him regardless of who her parents are, I growled at her before he could, “Hey.”
The tears finally broke at the brim of her eyes and she simply stopped fighting it before she yelled, “Fine! I’ll get myself home…”
With that, she turned on her heels and headed for the doors we had emerged from. Mardel briefly stepped in her way, stopping her for typically, it would be Erebus to decide whether she could leave or not.
However, he didn’t stand for long as Erebus signalled him to let her go, and he moved before she had the chance to push him out of her way, herself.
Although I didn’t present her, I was sure all in the room had already figured out who she was. Nonetheless, I wasn’t sure whether to go after her or not; I’m a Seeker, I don’t run after anyone.
Luckily, another was here to answer the question for me.
“Go,” Erebus urged, taking the glass from my hand and nodding to the set of double doors Celic had just ran out from.
He didn’t have to tell me twice, and it really didn’t have anything to do with whether I’d be in trouble for letting her run off or not.
I knew she wasn’t okay, and for some reason...I wanted her to be otherwise. I didn’t want her to be hurting, despite being incompetent at listening.
I moved as quick as I could, using inhumane speed to get to her until I laid eyes on her once again. She walked silently to the car with her arms crossed just beneath her breasts and her sight on the pavement.
“Celic!” I called out for her. I had grabbed a hold of her wrist and pulled her back to me, stopping her from further distancing herself, despite her efforts.
“Are you going to take me home?” her voice cracked through the tears streaming down her face and dripping onto the ground.
Her heartbreaking sobs met my ears, stinging my heart with a bitterness that grew toward the one that I knew did this to her. Perhaps, I was a hypocrite because...I didn’t realize it also had a lot to do with me.
I should’ve told her.
“Hey...” I was gentle, cupping the sides of her face until she looked up at me. Her tears filled my palms in seconds and I wiped the stains on her cheeks with my thumbs as best as I could while her red and sorrow-filled eyes pleaded mine.
“I want to go home…” she cried.
There was nothing I could do, but the best thing was probably to do as she wanted by taking her away from here: it was best for all of us.
With a nod, I drew the car keys out of my pocket and opened the door to the passenger seat for her. Once seated, I shut the door and quickly moved to the driver’s side where I opened the door and sat in, closing it beside me.
When I turned to look at her with a sigh passing my lips, I noticed she held a hand over her mouth as she stared out the window, her body flinching with every sharp intake of breath she took.
Just...what did she do to her..?
“Celic,” I was apprehensive, “what happened?”
She said nothing. Not for a second did she bother to look at me, and after a while, I started the car and drove off. For a long while, it remained this way: silent and tense.
When she finally did speak, she asked the question I hoped she never would, “Did you know?”
It wasn’t like me to lie or sugarcoat shit to make anyone feel better. Maybe, at first, she was an exception. But, I knew the only reason she liked me was because I was brutally honest, even when I shouldn’t have been.
“I think you know the answer to that, Celic,” I admitted softly.
My attention remained on the road. Although we were in the middle of nowhere, I dared not turn my attention away from it. Not because I was a careful driver, because by frankly, I didn’t give a shit about my driving. I just couldn’t look at her.
I knew she was truly hurt, partially because of me. Why did it bother me? I didn’t know. Did I care for her feeling? No.
I lied to myself, because yes, I did care for her.
“Is that why you asked me to go with you?” her voice broke. “So tha—”
“No,” I responded coldly.
She scoffed, “Why then?”
I couldn’t tell her the truth.
I was offended because the truth behind it all was, I wanted to spend one night with her. Although I don’t dance, I just wanted her company. I liked being around her. I didn’t ask her to go with me because I wanted to hurt her nor because I wanted her to find out this way. I didn’t know what Silver told her, but whatever it was…
She’s something else...
If I had thought about it carefully, I wouldn’t have asked Celic to go with me. Hell, I wouldn’t have gone myself.
It wasn’t long before we arrived and I parked the car, turning it off and drawing the key from the ignition. I thought carefully about what I’d say to her and when I turned to her, I finally had to the courage to look into her eyes as she did into mine.
“I knew Silver was...or is whatever she is to my brother, and I didn’t tell you because I didn’t think it’d be a good idea for you to know,” I admitted.
“So, you lied to me...” she whispered. “I asked you if you had heard from or anything about her, and you said you didn’t. You lied to me.”
Whether I had an explanation or not, she wasn’t hearing it and she stepped out of the car. She wasted no time waiting for me to do so as well before she rushed into the house.
This time, no one had to tell me to go after her; I did.
“Celic,” I called for her, but she didn’t stop. She ascended the stairs, moved down the hall and into the room identical to hers in the second realm. As she had entered the room, she slammed the door, not welcoming me any closer to her.
Of course, I didn’t care. I opened the door and found her sitting on the edge of the bed, her head bowed and her hands resting on her lap.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!” she yelled, abruptly rising to her feet. “How could you let her stay there? You d—”
“I didn’t keep my mouth shut because I wanted to,” I loudly breathed out. “I have to. Besides the fact that she refuses to leave, I cannot tell anyone. My family could get killed because of her. Regardless of whether I speak up now or not, if they find out she has been enslaved to him, he’ll be killed along with the rest of my siblings.”
It almost seemed as if she didn’t care or simply wasn’t listening because next, she rose her hand and swung forward, attempting to slap me. Fortunately, for her, I was quick enough to catch her wrist in my hand before I could meet the impact.
I would never and never have put my hands on her, she had no right to do so to me.
“If you try to hurt me, I won’t hesitate to do the same to you,” I warn as calm as I could.
I meant it, and I know she knew because with that, she let out a shaky breath and loosened the strength she put against my own hand.
“Do you expect me to keep this to myself?” she muttered, and I let her go.
I sighed, “I hope you choose to do so, but I don’t expect you to do anything.”
No matter how much so I often thought she was, she wasn’t stupid. She was anything but so, and I was glad that though her actions came impulsively, she didn’t think the same way.
“I won’t say anything…” she whispered painfully.