“What about the green one with the ruffles?”
Serendipity turned to look at the dress in question that hung on the rack of clothing that had been brought to her. Emily stood combing through the rack beside her sister while Heather held the bundle of emerald lace up so that Serendipity could see it better. The garments had all come from one of New Nation’s best designers who was local to a territory adjacent to Dominic’s. If she was honest with herself, however, every single dress she had looked at had just been atrocious. She scrunched up her nose at the dress that looked to have been pulled out of someone’s grandmother’s closet and shook her head. She wasn’t even going to attempt putting it on over her cast as she had a few others. Paisley snatched the dress from her Heather’s hand and threw it into the floor along with a pile of others.
Watching the triplets together was interesting, to say the least. Each seemed to know what the other was going to say or do before they did it and watching them work or interact was kind of like watching different cogs that were a part of the same machine. She could tell that they were all very, very close and she knew it was because, unlike most siblings who had been split up, they had grown up together in the manor. In a world where humans weren’t allowed to have any sort of close connection, Dominic had allowed them to stay together and the triplets valued that they got to keep each other around.
They were alike in many ways, but different in just as many. Serendipity was pretty sure she could pick each one out distinctly when she saw them, even in a crowd. Emily, who had once been the sister that had been the coldest towards her, was now the one that Serendipity was closest too. She had a dark sense of humor and had the uncanny ability to make even the worst situations seem like they were no big deal. She was also the sister that woke her up every morning by whipping open the thick curtain in Dominic’s room, something she knew Serendipity hated. The woman was fierce and sassy and had Serendipity she was a bit more like her.
Paisley was a lot like Lindsey. Soft-spoken and infinitely patient, she seemed to always be making everyone’s life around her easier. Heather was a bit of an enigma. She could be just as sassy when she got upset with one of her sisters, but any fire in her was quickly extinguished once she snapped off at someone or something. She kind of reminded Serendipity of someone who had been kicked one too many times. Still, the more she got to know the triplets, the more she liked them. They were also very handy to have around, especially with her leg as it was. The only downside was that they didn’t know sign language, but if she needed anything she could always write it down.
Serendipity stood and grabbed her self dubbed walking sticks. Only a day had passed, but already she had been able to graduate from wheelchair to crutches and she was hoping that when Dominic took her to see the healer tomorrow she would be in the clear for the cast to come off and for a brace to go on. As upset as thinking about Dominic mark on the side of her neck made her, she was very happy that it was helping the speed of her recovery. As soon as she was able, she was going to the gym to run for miles! It felt like she had either been sitting or laying down for forever and she wanted to stretch her muscles.
Emily moved to the side of the rack so that Serendipity could move through the clothing pieces herself, but she noticed the woman stayed close enough that she could reach out for her if she needed help. She had almost fallen a few times that morning so she wasn’t surprised that Emily didn’t trust her to stay upright for long. Bright, gaudy colors stuck out like sore thumbs in the pick of formal wear and most were either way too short, even for her height, or had plunging necklines that she would never be able to pull off her breasts of her size.
Finally, her hand caught sight of a beautiful light blue material. The feel of the material made her stop and pay attention to the simple slip, but once she caught sight of the beautiful dress her heart skipped a beat. She had probably never seen anything so elegant in her life and she hadn’t owned anything like it. The neckline was shallow, but not enough that she thought she’d had any problems with it. She held it up to her and turned so the sister could see it.
“That one? It’s a little plain, don’t you think?” Heather asked skeptically. Serendipity looked down but tugged it with her over towards the closet so that she could try it on anyways. It took her a lot longer than it probably should have, especially because she wasn’t letting anyone help her get dressed now that she could manage to stand, but eventually it slid on. She zipped it up the side and hobbled out to look at herself in the mirror.
“Well, hot damn! I think we may have just found the one. Can’t say I’ve never been wrong before,” Emily muttered with a small smile. Serendipity would have to agree. The dress molded to her body perfectly. The waist was a tight fit and but the train of the dress flowed to the floor, when she moved, it resembled flowing water. Even to her eyes, she looked confident and graceful, something Serendipity had certainly never considered herself before. She smiled at herself, imagining Dominic standing next to her in one of his perfectly tailored suits the man was so fond of. Dare her to even think it, but she could imagine herself looking just as regal as him.
A knock of the bedroom door had her spinning around just as Beckham made his presence known by sticking his head in. “You’ve been trying on clothes for the past hour and a half and I’m very hungry, Princess. Do you think we could go down for lunch sometime this week?”
Serendipity gave him and tight-lipped smile, something that made the man all the more annoyed and he shut the door without waiting for her response. As if in agreement with her guard, her traitorous stomach growled at that moment and she rolled her eyes as she turned back around to look into the mirror. She took a few more seconds to look herself over, if for no other reason than to make Beckham wait a few more moments on her before she went to slip the dress off. She dressed back into her high waisted, long skirt, dress shirt, and tan flats. Recently, the outfits that had been laid out for her had gotten more and more formal, something she didn’t mind considering she was now royalty and should look the part.
When she was finished, she took the dress to Paisley who told her that it would be altered to her exact measurements, even though Serendipity thought it had been a pretty close fit, and then she bid her goodbyes to the triplets so that they could finish up their work for the day. She slowly but surely made it to the hallway where Beckham was waiting along with the other two wolves that constantly shadowed her. She had inquired about getting their names once, but Beckham had shut her down by letting her know that she didn’t need to know their names. The only thing she was supposed to know was that they would track her down and forcibly detain her if she became ‘restless’ again and tried to run off. So she had given them the nicknames meathead number one and meathead number two which, while she wasn’t exactly proud of her creativity, she did think they aptly described the beefed-up wolves.
Beckham frowned at her and groaned as they began the long track down to the kitchen and dining area. “I honestly don’t know what was worse. Pushing you around in that wheelchair or walking at a snail’s pace because your too stubborn to use the wheelchair.”
She looked over and glared at him for a moment, using her elbow to stab him in the side. She was glad to note that the scar which had disfigured his face just days ago was now completely healed. There weren’t even scars where he had been slashed open. He laughed at her poor attempt to damaging him before turning to look at one of the men walking behind him. “Go grab her wheelchair from the room.” When she started to protest, he gave her a sharp look. “Don’t even think of arguing. It’s obvious from the way your sweating that your in pain and exhausted. I know you and Dominic are having a bit of trouble in paradise, but I have no problem mind linking him to let him know just how stubborn your being and I am sure he’d just hate to miss a summit meeting to see to your care.”
She ground her teeth in frustration but didn’t say anything as the guard came back down the hallway moments later with the chair. After Dominic had spent time with his father yesterday and Alpha Gabriel had assured him he wasn’t going anywhere just that minute, he and Serendipity had talked very briefly as he escorted her back to her room for the day. It wasn’t even much of a conversation. Not one word was spoken other than a sweet goodbye from Dominic and a kiss on her forehead before he left. He hadn’t come to bed that night either, or, if he had, she had woken up alone. Her mate was a busy man, even more so now that he had to pick up everything his father had been doing on top of his duties. Eventually, sometime soon, she knew that they were going to have to have a big heart to heart conversation about everything that had transpired, but it wasn’t looking like it would be until after the New Nation week of celebration and meetings were over.
One of the guards took her crutches from her and she settled into the chair. Admittedly, it was much more comfortable. She was being stubborn with the crutches and she knew it, but the healer told her that the faster she got used to putting weight on that leg, the faster she would heal. Her biggest fear was not being able to walk during the New Nation celebration party that was only a few days away. It was bad enough that she was human and most wolves thought of her as less than themselves, but if she had to show up temporarily crippled it would be embarrassing for not just her, but Dominic. She didn’t want to make her mate look weak.
The hallways weren’t as busy as they had been, but when they reached the dining area she knew it was because everyone was eating lunch. There wasn’t a table in sight that looked open. Beckham seemed to think the same because he paused in the large corridor before rolling them right into the kitchen. Off to the side of the preparation area, one of the large utility closets had been converted into an area for human dining. The door had been taken off and a large table sat in the middle.
The fit was a bit tight with the wheelchair, but once she was settled in, her legs tucked underneath the table, she found the space to be comforting. It was much more comforting than dining with wolves she didn’t know and she shot Beckham an appreciative grin. Not even a few seconds later, she saw Anna wobble through the kitchen doorway. When the pregnant woman caught sight of her, she raised a hand and waved in greeting. To Serendipity’s surprise, Beckham rushed off from behind her to help Anna over to the table. Anna swatted him away, but the wolf didn’t budge in his escort of her. Beckham was starting to grow on Serendipity, though he was more like a wart.
“I feel sorry for you, Serendipity. I can’t imagine putting up with Beckham all hours of the day. Look at what a mother hen he is, helping the poor pregnant and very human woman over to the table. You’d think he’d realize I’m not as fragile as I look after knowing me for over a year,” the woman complained. Beckham growled lowly at the teasing but Anna just elbowed him in the same spot she had moments ago as he pulled out a chair to help her sit down across from Serendipity.
“I’ll be right back with whatever the chef has prepared for today. Anna, please make sure the Princess doesn’t move from her pedestal. She has a bad habit of taking off and getting herself into trouble,” Beckham grumbled before taking off through the large kitchen. Serendipity took out her notepad and pen from her pocket.
It’s good to see you again. Your mate let you come eat alone? She scribbled the note down before passing it over the table.
“He can be reasonable sometimes,” Anna laughed before peering over her shoulder. “Though, I never get to go anywhere anymore without some sort of protection.” Serendipity followed Anna’s gaze and suddenly realized there was a wolf, a particularly big and scary one, standing just outside of the little dining area. He had been so quiet and had practically blended in with the chaos of the chef’s and severs around him that she hadn’t noticed him before. At first, she was a bit weary but she realized that even though she hadn’t noticed the dangerous-looking wolf, it didn’t mean that Beckham hadn’t. As much as Beckham didn’t like her she didn’t think he would just leave her with someone who could potentially be a threat.
Anna shrugged her guard wolf off as if he was no big deal. “I see that you’ve been marked. Should I be saying congratulations or should I offer to help you castrate Dominic? I could probably get away with it since I’m pregnant. Hormones are a bitch.”
Serendipity blushed a deep shade of red. The teeth marks had already healed. The once angry, red teeth impressions had healed to a light shade of pink. She had run her fingers over the mark in the mirror that morning when she had finally found the strength to look at what her mind still considered a mark of betrayal. She had to admit that it was pretty in a way. The two rows of curved indents perched on top of her collar bone. It wasn’t as visible as she first thought it was going to be, but it was still prominent enough that if someone knew what they were looking for, it wouldn’t take them long to catch sight of it.
Serendipity couldn’t stop the bashful smile that formed as she gave Anna an answer. Both? Well, maybe not castrating. That seems a little harsh considering I did go and break my leg doing something he told me not to. Maybe we can just bash him over the head with something.
Anna laughed as she read the note, but her tone was full of sympathy. “I know it won’t help how you’re probably feeling, but from what Xander had told me, Dominic is a good guy. Well, he’s a good wolf. He practically saved werewolves from total extinction, which doesn’t make humanity’s enslavement any more moral, but I find that looking at things half-full instead of half-empty make things a bit easier to swallow.”
Serendipity swallowed the lump in her throat as she wrote her next note. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m surprised that he’s more human than I thought, or more wolf. I know he’s both, but most of the time I’m with him I completely dismiss that animalistic part of him. Then he loses his temper and he does something instinctual to him and I’m reminded that I’ve chosen to shack up here and live a nice life while the rest of humankind is suffering. It’s hard to be happy when everyone around me is still miserable.
Anna read the note carefully and Serendipity watched her face as she did so. There was no judgment in the woman’s eyes, only understanding. When she did look up to respond to Serendipity, she didn’t immediately respond. “You live in the thick of royal wolf rule, so it’s harder for you than it is for me in Xander’s district. Human’s have many more freedoms there, but I’m the one who has worked for nine months to get them in place. If Xander had never found me, the humans in his district would still go hungry and cold and they wouldn’t be able to apply for special permissions to visit other territories within the district to see friends and family. My point is, you can do more good in a position of power than you could as a slave. Dominic is just something that comes along with it and you shouldn’t feel guilty for trying to make the best of your life, especially if you are actively trying to make changes in the way humans are bring treated.”
Serendipity nodded. What Anna was saying made sense. Already she had gotten the humans at the manor a steady supply of food which, considering she had been there a week, was a pretty big achievement. If she hadn’t been there, things would have stayed the way they were. If for some reason she was ever able to convince Dominic to let her go, things wouldn’t ever get better. Honestly, she’d probably leave such a bad taste for humans in his mouth that things would get a lot worse. Her heart lurched in her chest at the mere thought of separating herself from her mate and the mark of the side of her neck burned fiercely for a moment. Her hand flew up to the mark and she rubbed it, trying to cool warm tingling.
“So, are you nervous about the New Nation celebration? Have you picked out your dress?” Anna asked, changing the subject rather abruptly.
I just came from picking my dress out. It’s a pretty blue one. I’m not too nervous. She wrote as Beckham sat down a tray of food in front of both of them loaded with what she was sure was everything the kitchen had to offer. She signed a thank you at him as Anna took a ketchup bottle that had been laying on the table with other condiments and poured what had to be half the bottle on her green beans and mac and cheese. Serendipity tried not to stare, but her nose turned up at the sight.
Anna, not oblivious to the mess she was creating for her tastebuds, just laughed. “Before Xander knocked me up, I couldn’t stand the taste or smell of ketchup. I got a cheeseburger a few months back and someone had made it with ketchup. It’s was so good that now it’s all I ever crave.”
Serendipity shook her head in mock disgust as Anna began to eat the mixture of cheese and tomato sauce before looking down at her plate. Her dish was piled up with carbs and fried items and she picked around it, her stomach to queasy because of her pain medication. The fruit Beckham picked out for her looked good so she started with that.
“Who in the Goddess’s name prepared this?′
Serendipity froze at the sound of the icy voice that flowed into the dining space from the kitchen. It was a high pitched, beautiful sound, but she knew that the musical tone Sapphire’s voice took was the epitome of deceitful. She didn’t know why she hadn’t expected it. They were only a few days away from the New Nation party and since her old employer was the Prince’s cousin, she was going to attend. She dropped the silverware in her hand as the she-wolf stalked past the little dining area to confront the cook who seemed to have taken the blame for preparing the dish she held in her hands.
“I said I wanted my eggs over easy. Does this look over easy to you?” Sapphire asked the poor cook.
The human looked at Saphirre with wide, apologetic eyes as he stuttered to get an answer out. Serendipity wanted to tell him that giving Sapphire an excuse would do nothing but anger her further. She had been Sapphire’s personal lapdog before being given the position in the manner and when the she-wolf got mad, there was no reasoning with her. Her back ached just thinking about all the times Sapphire had ordered her tied down and whipped until she was broken and bloody. Tears beaded up in her eyes when she saw Sapphire throw the plate at the man’s head. He ducked at the last minute and it hit the wall behind him, shattering into pieces. Everything and everyone was quiet as they watched the wolf, waiting for her to make her next move.
“Sapphire, is it? You’re coming undone over a few eggs? Leave the poor human alone and go make someone else miserable. I was having a good morning before you graced us with your presence,” Anna muttered, annoyed. Serendipity looked over at her pregnant friend in surprise. Anna was still eating, acting as if the she-wolf wasn’t a threat to her at all.
Sapphire turned her glittering green eyes on the two of them and her mouth twisted up in a twisted smile when she saw Serendipity sitting there. She took a few steps towards them and Serendipity looked towards Beckham for support to find the wolf watching the situation play out with a large smile on his face. Sapphire was tall and thin, her body that of models. She had thick brown hair that fell in curls down to her waist. Her features were pronounced and sharp and Serendipity couldn’t deny that the wolf was physically pretty, but the she-wolf’s fondness for cruelty twisted up her features in a way that kept her from being truly beautiful.
“I was wondering where you had run off to. Your replacement is more clumsy than you are which I didn’t think was possible,” she addressed Sermnedipity with a practical snarl. Then she turned her attention to Anna. “I don’t know you, human, but your friend can attest to just how unfavorable I can get when I get upset.”
Serendipity shot Anna a look, begging her with her eyes to just let the situation die. Sapphire took a few steps closer to the table and Serendipity felt the blood drain from her face. She held her breath, too petrified to move. Sapphire smiled evilly at the reaction she prompted from Serendipity and it frightened her all the more. She was tempted to reach out to Dominic, but she knew he was busy and that Beckham wouldn’t let anything happen to her. She hoped.
Anna sat her fork down and looked over at Sapphire as if arguing with a wolf was the most mundane thing she had ever done. “I’m sure you are a big bad wolf and everyone should be afraid. Let me cower underneath the table in fear so you can get your rocks off. Oh, wait, no, I’m not going to do that because we aren’t in high school and I’m not afraid of you. Neither is Serendipity and if I were you I would find something else to do before you upset me.”
Sapphire looked shocked for a moment, her mouth agape. Then, that surprise was replaced with anger and the wolf growled loudly, stalking forward with her hand raised as if she was going to hit Anna. Serendipity felt her anger spark up and she watched, helpless in the wheelchair she was sat in as the woman advanced on her very pregnant friend. Before the woman could lash out, Anna’s mate seemed to appear out of nowhere, his large hand wrapping around Sapphire’s as he twisted it back until she shouted in pain.
Sapphire turned with glowing eyes to growl at the wolf that had her apprehended. “What is your problem! The human disrespected me. It’s my right to show her her place.”
The voice that came from Alpha Xander didn’t sound like anything from planet earth. It was so loud and animalistic, yet so low and gravely that she was sure it was more his wolf than him. “The human you are threatening to hit is my mate. My very pregnant mate. Serendipity, the human you seem to know, is mated to Prince Dominic. You can be sure that I’m letting him know exactly what you threatened to do. Family or not, I don’t think our Alpha will be pleased with you.”
For the first time that Serendipity’s could remember, she saw the smug expression that Sapphire always wore fall from her face to be replaced with fear. The she-wolf sunk into herself and Xander drug her by her wrist to where Beckham and Anna’s guard stood, putting himself between his mate and Sapphire.
“I have a few active treaties and contracts with your father. Maybe, it’s time that I reach out to other contacts and annul any business dealings I have with your family. I have more than enough money to do so and I would much rather deal with someone who hasn’t tried to harm my mate,” Alpha Xander drawled, his anger still radiating throughout the room.
“No, no, please. I’m very sorry. They are sitting in the servants quarters. I had no way of knowing that they meant anything to anyone. Please don’t let this mar your opinion of my father, Alpha Xander. We rely on our pacts with you,” she apologized rapidly, almost whining. The wolf finally let go of her wrist and when he did, Serendipity could make out the deep purple bruises that had been left there. Sapphire attempted to turn around and scurry away, but Beckham and Anna’s guard stood directly behind her and turned her back around to face Xander.
“Apologize to my mate and the Luna and I will consider your request,” Alpha Xander demanded. Sapphire turned to face the two women. Anna was still eating, happily at that.
Sapphire ground her teeth together, her eyes flashing with equal parts embarrassment and anger. “I am so sorry for interpreting your meal, Anna. I’m sorry to you as well, Luna,” the she-wolf choked.
Xander stood there for a few moments longer along with the two guards, making Sapphire sweat, before he nodded to the two guards and they let her slip from the kitchen. She ran as fast as she could and as soon as the woman was gone things in the kitchen picked back up.
Xander sat down beside his mate, pulling Anna close to check on her. Serendipity looked towards Beckham who looked very entertained as he bit into an apple. She pushed her tray of food away from her, no longer hungry. She knew that Sapphire wasn’t going to just run with her tail tucked between her legs. Her previous boss was a lot of things, but she wasn’t someone who took well to not getting her way. Serendipity couldn’t help but feel like she had just made her first real enemy and she didn’t doubt that come time for the New Nation celebration, she would make many more.
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