Chapter 43: Out of Luck
“I’m so sorry, Hope.” Erebus whispered.
I could tell that he was being sincere, but I didn’t want to believe him. I couldn’t even look at him. I felt sad, angry, and disgusted—more at myself than at him.
“What happens now?” I asked lowly, briefly glancing up at him as I sat on the edge of the bed.
He sighed with exasperation, shaking his head in what I assumed to be denial.
He mumbled, “I don’t know. I don’t even know if it’s mine.”
He doesn’t know?
I scoffed and rolled my eyes. As I stood from the bed, I shook my head and did everything possible to avoid looking at him and speaking to him. I wanted to hate him. I wanted to hate him with everything inside of me, but I couldn’t. I hung onto the hope that maybe the child wasn’t his, and for that, I refrained from slapping him and storming out of the room—or, at least, trying to.
In the brief moment that I took to glance back at him, I thought of the millions things that I could say and do to him had he known the truth about me. Had I not been the liar that I was then, I wouldn’t have been so powerless and felt so hopeless. But now, if it was true, there wasn’t anything I could do.
I prepared to go back to being the slave that I was before this night had happened. I mentally prepared myself to have my heart and hope broken, or so I thought I did.
For the moments that I swore I’d stop looking at him with hate or stop looking at him at all, everytime I did stare at him, I hoped that he’d look at me with something that’d reassure me that things would never go back to being as they were. However, just as I expected, Erebus stood there thinking about other things.
There wasn’t any way of telling what he was feeling. There were too many emotions written on his face to pinpoint the one he felt strongest. Despite the situation he put me in, somehow, I felt like I didn’t have a right to feel the way that I felt. If anything of what he had said to me was true, he must’ve felt it all, in that moment.
Nonetheless, I couldn’t help it.
“Hope, say something.” He stated, looking at me with pleading eyes.
“What, Erebus?!” I snapped. “What do you want me to say?”
I felt a burden in my chest and a knot form at the edge of my throat, and no matter how much I wanted to, I wasn’t going to let myself cry. I’d never give him the satisfaction of watching me break before him, even if it wasn’t satisfaction to him at all.
I’d never let him see me broken.
“I-I didn’t mean for this to happen.” He breathed out.
He seemed desperate, and I knew that he wasn’t acting. Erebus never faltered—not with his eyes and not with his words. However, this time, it was clear to me that he was struggling to maintain his composure. I wished that I could read his mind, because maybe then I’d know where we stood.
“I didn’t mean for this to happen either, yet here we are…” My voice trailed off.
I hated myself for the heart that I had. If the child was indeed his, I knew that I’d never forgive him for abandoning it if he’d plan to do so. Unfortunately, even that woman—Cam—knew that Erebus would never leave his own. For that, even if it wasn’t his child, I knew that she’d do everything in her power to make sure that Erebus believed it was so. Then, she’d have the power that I’m sure she’d been desperate for.
Power isn’t everything, love…
“I’m sorry.” He repeated with deep repentance in his voice.
“I know. I heard you the first time.” I mumbled.
As angry as I may have been, I knew that the reason I was where I was was because I wanted to be there. Physically, emotionally, and mentally, it’d all been my fault. Even then, as I stood in the same room as him, it was my own doing that landed me there.
With that in mind, I swiftly moved to the door, leaving Erebus behind me as I exited his bedroom and shut the door behind me. As I averted my sight away from the ground, my eyes landed on the very being that I’d hope I’d never see again: Cam.
The sight of her, alone, made my blood boil and my nostrils flare. I had learned a great deal of how to control my temper, but I had never came across a person who made me forget all of the beatings I took as a child to learn to restrain myself.
“Something wrong, slave?” She mused with a smirk plastered on her face.
There was many people that I had to respect and there were many people that I’d never have a chance of beating; however, Cam was not either of them.
Subconsciously, I had balled my hands into fists, my knuckles turning pale. My jaw was clenched tightly, fighting to keep my fangs from elongating in my mouth.
Before I could so much as attempt to get closer to her, intended on merely scaring her, Genesee stepped in between us, leaving nothing but a couple of inches between her and myself.
“Trust me, you don’t want to do that.” She stated in a very cautious tone.
“Trust me, I really do.” I protested.
My glare on Cam never faltered; not even as Genesee closed the distance between her and myself and tucked my hair behind my ear. She had grabbed my arm with her unoccupied hand and leaned into me. Her cheek brushed against my own, her breath fanning my ear.
“I know, and I’m sorry. But, I can’t defend you as Hope.” She whispered.
As she slightly pulled back, shifting her gaze to meet my own, the door behind me opened, revealing what I knew would be a very frustrated Erebus.
“What’s going on?” He asked with caution in his own voice.
I reluctantly shifted my sight to Genesee. In doing so, I gently nodded, reassuring her that I understood that a fight between Cam and I meant also meant a fight between Genesee and me—for her sake and my own.
With an apologetic smile on her face, Genesee backed away from me and turned to Erebus.
“Sir, your guests have arrived.” She said.
I couldn’t tell whether the sigh that passed Erebus’ lips was of relief or exhaustion, and frankly, I was too distracted by other things to care to think about.
“Have Zeus escort them to my office.” He told Genesee, lowering his voice to add, “Keep her out of my sight until I say it’s okay to let her in.”
With this, Erebus took my hand in his own and pulled me away with him, leading me down the opposite way of the hall that Genesee had taken Cam.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked as I attempted to tug my hand out of Erebus’ hold.
He didn’t say a word. Instead, along with his intended actions, he kept his thoughts to himself and continued to drag me down wherever he had planned to go. I was hesitant to go with him, and not because I was afraid of what he could and might do. I was more skeptical of being beside him for the simple fact that I knew too much to peacefully stay silent and trust whatever his plans were.
I couldn’t trust him.
Once we had gone up the stairs down down another long corridor, I knew exactly where we were headed: his office. I wondered by he’d chosen to guide me down the longest route to this room, but as we entered, I quickly came to realize that he was buying time to think about what he’d do and say once his expected “guests” arrived.
Once we’d completely emerged into his office, he shut the door behind us and turned to who I was surprised to see: Hunter and Celic.
Why are they here..?
“Erebus, what’s going on?” Hunter asked with uncertainty.
His eyes spoke little words, but his actions spoke plenty. He did his best not too look at me, only every-so-often glancing at me to make it seem as if it wasn’t obvious that he knew me. That was not surprising at all; however, what was was watching Celic do the same.
Have you already forgotten about me..?
I was happy that she could be in the same room and me and have been so over me that she could pretend that I wasn’t but a few feet away from her. Childishly, it also bothered just as much. It wasn’t until I noticed Celic’s hand clinging onto Hunter’s that I realized everything that I had missed the day of the ball: Hunter was and would be able to make her feel the way that I could never make her feel and the way that she could never make me feel.
She was in love with him.
Tarlac would never a—
“Cam’s pregnant.” Erebus breathed out.
Hunter’s eyes widened as he spat, “What?”
He waited, hoping that Erebus would say something to disregard what he doubted he’d heard correctly. After a while, however, he knew an “I’m joking” was too good to be true and flared.
“Don’t you know how to use a fucking condom?”
I knew that Erebus was just as embarrassed as he was hopeful of I what I hoped: it wasn’t his.
“I don’t know if it’s mine.” He admitted.
Hunter scoffed, shaking his head in disappointment as he furrowed his eyebrows at Erebus.
“Is that why you wanted me to bring her here?” He asked, nodding at Celic.
As little as I thought about it, I was just as curious as Celic was about why she was standing there. That was until Hunter questioned Erebus’ demands. I thought about Celic and the gift that she inherited from her father: Perception.
Alike her father, Celic could see and feel what other, even those alike myself, could not. Celic wasn’t just cursed with the gift of a Traveler, but she was fortunate enough to be gifted what even I wished I could have instead of Tolerance.
At least she doesn’t have to nearly kill herself to perfect her talent.
“Can you?” Erebus questioned as he took a step closer to Celic in anxiety.
“I-I don’t know.” Celic breathed out as she shook her head. “I don’t use my gift very often, so I don’t know if it’ll allow me to see that much.”
Why does she care?
“Try.” Erebus pleaded.
Does it mean that much to him..?
With that, Erebus cleared his throat and in came Genesee alongside an awfully confused and nervous Cam and a stoic Zeus.
“What is this?” Cam quickly asked, resisting Zeus as he pulled her completely into the room and Genesee shut the doors behind them and herself.
It’s not his.
“Who are you?” Cam snapped at Celic as she snatched her arm away from Zeus’ hold.
I knew that I wasn’t the only one irritated by her. To Hunter and Celic, more than likely never having known her, they didn’t feel the same sort of frustration that I did toward her at the mere sight of her; however, as soon as she opened her mouth to speak, I could tell that they had quickly learned why I loathed the woman.
Celic flinched, watching Cam as she brought nothing but an unpleasantness to the atmosphere. All the while, Hunter studied her cautiously until he grew annoyed with her.
After Cam realized that no one was going to answer her question or so much as speak to her, she turned to him as if waiting for him to reassure her.
“Erebus?” She called out to him.
“Can you shut the fuck up?” Hunter snapped, completely cutting off whatever was going to come out of her mouth next.
Oh, please...say something. I dare you.
“Celic.” Erebus called calmly as he continued to ignore Cam.
Once he’d gotten Celic’s attention, he took hold of Cam’s upper arm and pulled her closer to him. Celic had merely glanced at me before releasing Hunter’s hand from her own and taking a single step closer to Cam.
Please, tell me it’s not his…
I couldn’t breathe. As I watched her try to connect with her gift, I held my breath in my lungs and hoped that, for once, I’d have some luck—just a little bit of it. When I saw the color of Celic’s orbs darken a deeper shade of blue, my mouth went dry and my blood ran cold. I watched as her eyes slowly shifted from Erebus to Cam until her attention locked on Cam’s belly. But a couple of seconds later, she inhaled a deep breath and her eyelids fell shut.
She remained still, so much so that she had completely stopped breathing. The moment her eyes flickered open, her expression changed completely. She shot me an apologetic look before returning her attention to Erebus and nodding.
My heart sank and my lungs constricted.
“Celic?” Erebus called with urgency.
“Congratulations.” She whispered.
The moment she spoke, a knot formed at the edge of my throat and the tears I had been trying so hard hold back quickly built at the brim of my eyes.
My vision became hazy and my senses went numb. I could practically feel Cam’s smirk as she walked to Erebus and planted a kiss on his still lips.
Erebus must’ve been in just as much a shock as I was, because when he heard the answer I wasn’t sure he wanted to hear, it was as if his own senses had grown numb.
I can’t breathe…
I turned away from him, shifting my sight to Hunter. I could see lips moving, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying—that was just it. I couldn’t hear a thing.
That was until Erebus spoke.
My eyes slowly shifted to him as he looked at Zeus, referring to Cam when he said, “Get her away from me.”
This isn’t real… This can’t be real…
Cam shot me one last smirk before turning on her heels and walking out of the door as Zeus followed behind her. I clenched my jaw, fighting the tears from falling, and I succeeded. That was until Erebus’ voice met my ears again.
“Hope, I didn’t know this was going to happen.”
This isn’t real… This can’t be real…
I didn’t want to speak to him, but all at the same time, I wanted to scream at him. I was so angry, so hurt that in the mix of it all, I somehow managed to hold my temper still.
“But I should’ve. I should’ve known just as much.” I whispered. I waited until the tears dried from my eyes and I shook my head at him, holding so much disappointment in my face for him to see. “You made me regret it.” I mumbled.
He knew that in me saying those words, I was done with him. I didn’t want anything to do with King Erebus Dubois anymore.
I’d never be his Hope again.
“You don’t want to do this.” Erebus whispered, a threat lingering in his choice of tone.
“You’ve given me no choice, and I rather be a slave ten times over than ever be whatever it is that you expect me to be after this.” I spat.
I knew that I had hurt him, but I didn’t care. He didn’t care about how I felt, so I wanted him to believe that I cared so little that even if he treated me as poorly as he had before, it would never do what he always wished it would.
He waited silently, thinking to himself as I assumed that he stood patiently to hear me say I didn’t mean it. Unfortunately, for him and myself, I’d never say it.
Finally, he reacted with a mere scoff and chuckled.
“Actually, I expected exactly this.”
Taken off guard by that, I furrowed my eyebrows at him. My lips had parted to speak, but I never got the chance to.
“Genesee, escort my slave to her bedroom.” Erebus stated as he coldly stared into my eyes.
There it was again. That word.
Then, my eyes instantly grew wet and the tears I that had been holding back so much began falling uncontrollably as the burden in my chest only grew. I felt as if my heart had been ripped out, and what was worse? He walked away. He walked away as if I had done something wrong.
The only thing that I was grateful for was the word that I managed to keep to myself as I watched him walk out on me: he never saw me break. However, through the blur in my eyes, I saw that Hunter and Celic did.
Celic’s voice was merely above a whisper, and before anyone could say another word, I stormed off.
I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to hear anyone. I wanted to be left alone. I thought about how I was fine before I had came here—everything was just fine. I took it all for granted. I had someone. I had her—Celic. I was happy. We were happy. And I threw it all away, for what?
When I finally processed my physical surroundings, I found sitting on the center of my bed, hugging my knees to my chest. I had grown tired of trying to hold on, so I allowed myself to cry as I buried my face onto my arms.
In what seemed like only seconds, the sound of the door being shut forced my attention to the doorway. Genesee stood there, staring at me with so much sadness in her eyes.
“Don’t.” I cut her off. “There’s really no need.”
I took only a moment’s time to gather myself, not wanting to show anymore than I had to. I told myself that I had had enough, and my feelings had been poured out with my tears. Though in that little moment, I realized that I had disgustingly grown love for my King, I let it go.
I rose to my feet, wiping the last wet tears away from my cheeks.
“Um…” My voice shook. “Her name is Doraime Amore. She is the oldest witch and one of the first to ever walk both worlds. Does the name Mercy Xae ring a bell?”
Genesee didn’t answer, and I didn’t wait for her to.
“He was her coven leader, and he was also known for being the only one strong enough to take down a Seeker. She’s not far behind, but Hunter is still strong enough to kill her.”
Again, I cut her off.
“She brought me here in hope that Erebus would kill me and my father would kill him. Then, her coven would be free from his reign, and whoever became King after that doesn’t matter. As long as the man sitting at the throne isn’t kin to a Seeker, vampires have no control over her or her witches.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Genesee whispered. She had furrowed her eyebrows at me, her lips slightly parted as she came into realization of what I had to unfortunately spell out for her.
“Because after today, you will never see Hope again.”