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Chapter 17

Cain had glanced out a window, as he was walking down a hall. He saw Scarlet slowly strolling through the gardens, the sun bouncing off of her. He paused at the window, his eyes following her. Through the brick and glass; he could smell her. He still smelled faintly of her, of jasmine. There was something in him, something out of his control, which drew him to her. He had been able to sustain whatever it was, so far, with their daily lessons. Some nights they had dinner. They were never alone, of course. Despite their uneasy friendship, Renee was faithfully there for Scarlet. If it wasn’t Renee, then she was under the watchful eye of his cousin Claudia. This was the first time, since he pulled her from the cell in his basement, that he had seen Scarlet truly alone.

He had to go to her. To spend some true time with her. So he went to the attic, and dug out a gift that Dolra had given him a few years prior. Photography had never been a true interest to him, but Dolra had still given him the gift. After a point of time where the thing had gone unused, it was moved into the attic. Now, for the first time ever, it was seeing the light of day. He didn’t approach her at first, instead he watched her. Even as she fumbled after the mother duck, he could only see her beauty. When he did finally speak to her, she jumped. Instant regret flooded him, and the same feeling returned after he took her photo. He deeply hated seeing her unhappy.

She took his offer to take a photo. He offered her his hand, and she took it. Her hands had smoothed in areas, while hardened in others. The warmth her hand offered seeped through his whole arm. And he didn’t wish to let her go. She did, and she also took his camera. She held it up, he silently watched her. She moved it along the horizon, as he explained how to use it to her. He hadn’t expected her to turn and take a photo of him, but she moved at the pace of a human. He at least had the time to pose for the photo. She returned his camera, claiming they were even. She would have left. He could see it in her eyes, but when he asked her to stay… she did.

Though he originally had no real place in mind, his feet took him to the small dock. The same one that he once found Scarlet at during the peak of her friendship argument. He hadn’t paid attention to dock before, he rarely did to his home anymore, but it was in a rather ideal place. Secluded on a small round bend, always in the perfect amount of shade. The sun seem to glimmer perfectly from their spots on the dock. Setting her basket down, Scarlet lowered herself to take a seat on the dock.

I love this lake. It’s pretty.

“It is. I’ve lived here for thousands of years, I stopped looking after a while.” He took a spot near her, and held up the camera. “Here,” he held it out to her, “you take it. You see more beauty in the world than I do.” She took the camera, looking at it. She shook her head, sitting it back down.

I see no more beauty than any other.

“I don’t think that’s true.” He picked up the camera, aimed it at the tree tops and clicked the button as a flock of birds went through the sky. He lowered it, and set it back on the docks.

Why do you suddenly have faith and interest in me?

He let out a small chuckle, toying with the camera. “I’ve always had interest in you.” She hadn’t been facing him, he could only catch a glimpse of her jaw. She moved just slightly at his response and he caught a pink flush on her cheeks. Looking up, their gazes met. They both smiled.

Returning back to the mansion, the first worker he saw Cain handed off the used film to them. With strict instructions to get it developed at once, they rushed off as he headed off to a meeting. He had said his farewell to Scarlet in the gardens, leaving her to go to the basement as he went up to the second floor of his home. Through the maze of hallways he worked his way to the meeting room where the war meeting was waiting to take place. Approaching the door, a guard swiftly stepped forward and open it for him.

Stepping into the room, the door closed behind Cain. Every being sitting at the large oval table stood and bowed. He waved for them to sit, and took his spot at the head of the table. “Good afternoon, thank you all for being here.” Cain glanced at the papers already sitting in front of him. “First order of business, what is the current status at the boarder? Anything new General?”

“No sir,” General Rey, who sat three seats down to Cain’s right, stood up. His hair was nonsexist on his head, and only had a few crowfeet in his sun kissed skin. But his neatly trimmed white beard gave away the werewolf’s true age. “Beyond the current attacks, which we’ve always neutralized, there has been nothing new.” His voice was gruffly, set so from too many years of smoking. “I do have men deployed, my best majors leading them.” Cain nodded, making a note and General Rey sat back down. Cain took another glance to his list. “Major Deaeque, please share your latest update.” Pals stood, her eyes scanning the group. “Sire, I am pleased to announce that our flower is budding much greater than we could have first hoped for.” The group of high military leaders looked among each other, clearly lost. Only General Pirtle, Cain’s cousin, seemed unaffected by the werewolf’s new.

“Pals, please share with your fellow soldiers of our secret weapon.” Pals nodded. “Of course sire.” Picking up the folder that she had been quietly been guarding with her own life, Pals walked to the front of the room. “Before I go on, I trust you all to remember that you swore an oath on your life to keep these meeting confidential.” No one said anything, a few had even stopped breathing; their chest immobile. Giving a single nod, Pals opened her folder and tossed out small stack of papers and photos. “Over the past four months, Major Claudia Pirtle and myself have been secretly training this nation’s secret weapon to defeating Muis.” General Rey picked up a newspaper clipping, exclaiming out loud. “By the power of Fate- are you telling me the Bless Human lives?” The Command Chief of the Air Ship fleet snatched the newspaper from his neighbor. Frowning when the General snatched it back. “Yes, the Blessed Human indeed is alive. She has been living under this roof, under an alias. She was injured badly, but she is now not only healed but thriving. With training from Major Pirtle and myself, she has become a solider within her own rights.”

“So she is prepared to fight, today?” Pals casted her eyes down for a brief moment before looking Chief Dowdy. “Yes, she might not be the strongest or the fasted but her mind is sharp. She can throw and hit the aim near perfect with a knife, her thin frame is perfect for hand to hand and if she must she can swing a sword into the right spots.” Cain nodded, and Pals gathered her papers. “The fact that the Blessed Human must be our most well-guarded secret. At least until we strike Muis down.” The military leaders all nodded, and Cain thanked Pals.

“Next, Admiral, how is… Captain Kerns, where is Admiral Wiles?” At the sound of her name, the Captain grew stiff and her eyes wide. “Well sire,” Captain Kerns stood, her uniform looking far too foreign on her lanky body. “Admiral Wiles refused to come.” Cain frown, adjusting himself in the leather seat. “Why?”

“The Admiral believes you are lacking on your duty to the fleets,” As she spoke, Captain Kerns’ body went from awkward to powerful. “He respectfully sent me in his place so that the men and women wouldn’t feel abandoned once more.” The anger rose slowly within Cain’s chest. To prevent injuring anyone or breaking anything, his hands gripped the chair arms. “If you and Wiles were not so perfect at your job; I’d have you both put on trial for treason and mutiny. To defy any order given by me by law is punishable by death. I have gotten your updates, and have acted accordingly. Now sit down.” The Captain sat, her chest remaining puffed out, but her muscles tight. “If Wiles wishes to have my presence there so badly, consider it done. I shall arrive Monday. I expect you and your seamen to be ready.”

“Monday? That is almost a week from now? Why can you not arrive sooner?” Cain, who had been making another note, paused. “Because I have a wedding to go to. I shall be there Monday.” Captain Kerns scoffed, and leaned on the table. “A wedding? Really sire? We are in a war and you prioritized a wedding higher than visiting the mass of your naval fleet?” Cain finished writing and sat his stylus down. “For this particular wedding? Yes, next matter.”

“Oh no, no, no. Who the hell is getting married who’s so important that they delay a whole naval fleet’s inspection?” the human was suddenly cut off, not by Cain but rather Pals. “Mine. It is my wedding.” Cain could sense that the human was fighting the urge to cower back. Instead she kept herself straight but leaned back in the chair. “Honestly Major Deaeque, of all the being. I never thought you to be one to place her own self so selfishly over the wellbeing of this whole nation.” Pals went on, her scarily monotone voice laced with anger. “Normally I refuse to make such a fret over a simple ceremony but because my fiancée has been secretly planning this event for two years I shall fret. So excuse me for feeling no pity on the subject of our currently nonsexist war for just a few days in exchange for the happiness of the man I love. I have served this nation, have given everything I can offer, for well over 200 years. And over that time King Cainwen has become a dear friend to us both and I am honored that he would place us both so high. Get over yourself.” Gathering her papers, Pals calmly stood. She turned to Cain. “Excuse me sire but I believe my presence is no longer required here. If you require a Major, I shall send Major Pirtle up at once. I have a Blessed Human to teach.” Bowing, Pals then left. Captain Kerns watched her, taking a deep breath. Once the door closed, the slam shaking the whole wall, the room was left with a tense silence. “You’re one hell of a lucky human, Ericka.” Klaus sat back in his chair, bitterly laughing as he dug the crevices of his teeth with his tooth pick. Captain Kerns frowned. Cain rolled his eyes, picking up his stylus and made another note. “Next order of business.”

“I must apologize for yesterday afternoon. I never meant to lose my temper. The full moon is next week, though, and my wolf is much antsier than she’s been prior.” Cain changed the hand he held the phone receiver, crossing his legs as he leaned against his desk. “I understand, Pals, all is forgiven and well.”

“Thank you. Have a wonderful day sire.”

“And you, I hope your dress is everything you wish for.”

“Thank you.”

Hanging up the phone, Cain pushed himself up. He left his office and headed towards the library, sure he would catch Scarlet there on her day off. He had been told by a few maids and guards that she often spent time in the large chamber. Though Cain would never admit it to anyone out loud, he was very fond of the human. Even if you were to remove the strange pull he felt to her, he genuinely enjoyed her company. She had been so quite when they first met, like a scared child. Slowly she found herself and begun to trust him. That was when he realized how much he enjoyed her company, despite her lacking voice. Positivity was her strong suite, she could find beauty in the ugliest blade of grass. If she viewed something negatively, she told one so but was not willing to fight upon any subject. There was a grace that surrounded her, and wrapped her like a blanket. Walking she seemed to glide across the floor, her movements fluid. She had to be expressive, and many made Cain smile. Which often times made her blush and slyly smile. Oh her smile! When she smiled, her teeth more perfect than pearls, deep dimples formed on each cheek and her eyes gleamed. They seemed to always gleam, as if she was just told an exciting, forbidden secret. There was no denying the fact that whenever he touched her, their body parts fitting with the other, that there was a current that shot through him. It was like nothing he had ever felt before, and something he wanted to feel until the day his existence ended.

Turning a corner, Cain paused. He pondered upon his feelings, realizing that the only woman who had ever captivated him in such a way was his wife. Those feelings, though, did not form quickly. The two had known each other for a few hundred years before entering into courtship. Thinking about his wife, Cain tried to conjure up the emotions. He got nothing. Even though it never would, Cain felt as if his heart should be speeding up. He should have been worried, been nervous for his lacking feelings for his wife. He wasn’t. He couldn’t remember the last time his wife had captivated him in such a way- if she ever had. The thought should have bothered him, should have encouraged him to reach out to Dolra; but it didn’t.

Coming up to the library, Cain slowed and stopped at the cracked door. Peaking in, Scarlet stood over the chess table, picking up one of the knights. He opened the door slowly, to keep it from making any sounds and silently moved towards her. “Do you play?” The human jumped, shaking the whole table. Cain smiled and laughed to himself, dropping the smile when she turned to face him. She looked to the black knight in her hand, and then back at him. She shook her head no. “I can teach you, if you want to learn.”

You teach me?

“Yes. May I?” She nodded her head, watching him as he took a seat. Following his lead, she sat down and begun to place the pieces back on the board. After placing all the pieces back into their proper square, Cain begun to slowly explain the game to Scarlet. She seemed confused by the rules at first, but she soon caught on. They began a simple game. “You’re catching on quite well.” She thanked him, making her second move.

It’s not checkers, but enjoyable.

Cain smiled, laughing as he made his next move. Scarlet bit the corner of her lips, pondering her next move. “Are you prepared for Pals’ wedding on Sunday?” Scarlet moved a piece, her face whiting as she did. She shrugged, leaning back in her chair. “You don’t know? Why not?” She casted her eyes down, and moved her hands quickly.

There will be dancing. I don’t know how to dance.

“You don’t know how to dance?” She shook her head no, her hands moving slower than before.

No. I never went out. I was never invited out. I worked and helped my mother.

“So you’ve never been to a ball or even a barn circle?” She shook her head no once more, still refusing to look up to him.

I learned a few folk dances from Renee, but nothing fancy that is performed at balls or weddings.

He face flushed with colors of embarrassment. “Then allow me to teach you.” Her head shot up, and she shook her head in a refusal. Scarlet looked absolutely appalled by the idea. “Why not? I may not be the best dancer but I’m sure I could teach you a thing or two.”

I couldn’t.

“Please? Pals tells me you’re training is going wonderfully and you deserve to have some fun.”

I do not consider stepping on toes and tripping on skirts fun.

Cain stood, and reached for her hand. “Come with me.” It was more of a request rather than a demand. She rose from her seat. The two left the library, their hands still intertwined. Glancing around, and seeing there was not one guard in site, they began walking. He led her through the halls, stopping in front of double doors. Opening one, he ushered her into the small ball room and followed after. Closing the door, and locking it, Cain then walked over to the corner of the room. Resting on it’s own small pedestal, was the most impressive gramophone. Scarlet followed after him, leaning over his hunched back to see the machine. Picking up a record, Cain stood and Scarlet stumbled back. “This is a gramophone, it plays music. Watch.” Flicking the machine on, Cain placed the record down. There was no sound for the first few seconds the needle rode on the spinning disk, and then suddenly a whole symphony filled the room. Grabbing Scarlet, Cain led her to the middle of the room. “I’m going to teach you the simple box-waltz.” He placed one of her hands on his shoulder and kept the other in his own grip. They came close, closer than they had ever been. He could feel her blood, it flowed quickly through her racing heart. “Follow my lead.” He stepped to the right, then back, to the left and lastly forward. Scarlet stumbled but followed him. “Now spin clockwise. Repeat. Side right, back, side left and forward.” They repeated this process a few more times, a small smile forming from Scarlet. “We’re going to change it now, instead of turning together this next time around I’m going to spin you out.” Her body grew rigged as he spun her out, her feet stumbling. When she stopped, Cain pulled he back, twirling her once more. She caught herself with a tight grip on his shoulder, looking up to him as they begun to move back in rhythm. He met her gaze, and found himself falling deep into the glorious wonders that were her onyx eyes. Scarlet seemed to be feeling the same, because her body relaxed more; allowing Cain to full lead her. His gaze on her eyes was broken when she moved her eyes down towards his lips, her own parting. Scarlet looked at their hands, and the little space between them. Looking back to him, it was if she was almost to say something.

There was a sudden knock at the door, and the moment between them ended. Scarlet leapt as far as she could get, breaking their hold on the other. As if she had just been burned. Cain looked to the door, realizing that the gramophone had stopped playing. “Your majesty.” Glancing over to Scarlet, who looked as if she was trying to shrink, Cain moved towards the door. “What is it?” Unlocking the door, he opened it just enough to stick his head out. “Sire,” Isos bowed to him, “this telegram message just came from the coast. It’s from Admiral Wiles, sire.” Cain looked at the out stretched folded paper. With a small noise of disgust, he took the paper from his guard. Opening it, he scanned over the note, rolling his eyes once finished. Crumbling the paper, he stuffed it into the pocket of his tailored pants. “Get in contact with my cousins, have them meet me in my office in ten minutes.” Isos gave a nod, a bow and then left. Closing the door, Cain looked back to Scarlet. She had remained where he had last left her. “I’m sorry.” He returned to her, resisting the urge to reach out and bring her eyes back to his. “A matter has risen, I must go. Our dance lesson must be cut short.” She gave a small wave to tell him it was okay. “Do not worry, Pals’ wedding is still four days away.” Grabbing her hand, he brought it to his lips. At the contact of their skin, Cain felt as if a bolt of lightning had been shot through him. “We have time yet.” Releasing her hand, he gave a small smile. Unable to help himself. Scarlet had felt something as well, the color in her cheeks and the wideness of her eyes told him so. And that thought, that she was feeling something as well, thrilled him.

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