Serendipity twisted and turned through the huge house. She was surprised that the Prince hadn’t put a stop to her running off but maybe he knew that she needed space to think about everything. As she passed wolf after wolf, and even the occasional human, she knew there would be no way she could escape the manor. There were so many thoughts racing through her head and not one of them made any sense. The Prince had her confused on every level.
Serendipity didn’t understand what being around him did to her, but she felt almost mesmerized in his presence. She wasn’t able to concentrate on anything other than him. It was as if his presence alone calmed her body into thinking she was safe when her mind knew better. Logically, she knew she should feel sick about having sat across from a killer. He was the very same one who was responsible for rounding up her people and ordering them to be designated salves.
He was responsible for her brother’s death.
Serendipity slowed her pace once she reached an unknown part of the house and her brain seemed to slow its erratic thinking. It was the red of the roses that caught her attention and the sweet aroma of flora that made her heartbeat calm and breath even out. Across from her, she saw two massive glass walls and just outside of them was what looked to be a garden. Serendipity trod towards the doors with light feet and slipped past one.
Moist, chill air snuck up on her and her body shivered against the black of the night. Serendipity gazed around the huge glass greenhouse in amazement. It was something out of a fairytale. A path wound its way through a little way of the garden and rose bushes covered every inch of the ground in front of her. Ivy wound together up walls that looked to have been erected to create a private garden. She looked up towards the sky and saw ivy growing across the ceiling as well. Moonlight had just enough room to peek through and light her way as she wound through the greenery.
The garden grew denser as the plants grew more diverse in color and species. Serendipity walked slow enough to give herself time to admire the flowers, or at least she thought she was. Her eyes may have been studying everything but her mind was still looking for ways out of the mess she had somehow gotten herself into. She could find a way out of the greenhouse and run, but a wolf would catch her and bring her back. Every possible scenario she ran through her head only brought her back to the manor.
Around the bend, the stream she had followed faded into a large body of water. The moon’s reflection shined up at her from the water’s edge and she paused her walk. The lake stretched back for yards and Serendipity knew the glass dome had to have been at least a football field long. In any other lifetime, she would have loved to have seen the construction of such a large project, but things had changed.
Serendipity walked forward another step and her lips curled backward in distress at the shock that her feet received. Bone-chilling water gripped her foot in an icy embrace and she yanked it back, taking a couple of steps away from the edge. Her arms hugged her chest. She was so cold.
Now at a safer distance, her gaze drifted back towards the water. Eventually, she knew she was going to have to go back inside and face her problems like an adult. She would beg for her freedom and hope that Prince Dominic had any semblance of compassion in him. If that didn’t work, she would have to risk running. If she was caught, she would almost definitely be killed, but that had to be better than being forced to love someone.
Something dark caught her attention in the water. It was light at first and she had to squint to make sure she wasn’t crazy. Then the figure grew darker in the water as it swam closer to the surface. She backed up several more steps and she watched as the blurry dark thing in the water stopped moving as if it had been startled. Her eyes narrowed again in confusion.
Then she froze. Two yellow orbs glanced up at her. It took her a moment to gather her bearings. Eyes were peering up from out of the water. She noticed them become larger and become more luminescent. Her head tilted. Something wasn’t right. They weren’t coming from the water.
Serendipity’s heart jumped into her throat as a silent cry went unheard. Her head snapped around and she peered over her shoulder. Her eyes grew as wide as saucers. The largest wolf she had ever seen in her life stood directly behind her, watching her as if waiting to pounce. The dark figure hadn’t been coming from the water after all.
It had been a reflection of something stalking her from behind.
This time when she stumbled, it was towards the lake. She could feel her heart in her throat and her ears rang loudly. The creature was taller than she was and terrifying. The wolf had a long coat, pitch-black in color. Its golden eyes peered at her almost mischievously. Her vision got a bit spotty and she swayed for a moment. Her hand traveled up to her head and she clutched it like it was her lifeline.
A low whine made her forget everything else around her. All she saw was the wolf. Unexpectedly, the wolf’s feet gave out under it and he laid out with his head on his paws. His head tilted sideways and presented Serendipity with its neck. Her mouth fell open. Was the wolf submitting to her? She backed up a few feet and the whining grew louder so she stopped.
The giant wolf then scrunched his legs up and rolled onto his stomach. His tail wagged and his tongue was stuck up. Before Serendipity could stop herself, a small smile replaced the terror on her face before it too faded. She didn’t understand what was happening. It would have made more sense if she had woken up inside of the twilight zone.
The wolf rolled back over but stayed on his stomach. She swallowed hard as she noticed him begin to wiggle his body forward. Her hands shot out when he grew to close. At first, she thought she was just going to stop the wolf. Then, with a shaky hesitance, she leaned forward with a leap of faith and her fingers stroked over the coarse fur that covered his head.
A soft rumbling startled her and she stopped for a moment before a slight growl had her jumping to start again. Her fingers embedded themselves into the fur as she continued her way down to scratch behind the wolf’s ear. She heard the wolf give a satisfied huff and he began to close his eyes. Her hand retreated once again and his eyes shot open. He stood and took the last step to her so quickly, she didn’t have time to react. She stepped back too quickly, tripping over a rock sticking out of the bank of the lake.
Her hands flew out as her body fell. She closed her eyes and tried to brace herself for the impact. Her body didn’t hit something hard as she expected. Instead, it hit something cold. Needles of ice prickled her skin as she was plunged underneath the depths. She didn’t have time to try and attempt to pick herself up from the shallow pool of water before she felt something snag her pants leg and pull up towards the surface.
Serendipity gasped in a lung full of air as she broke the surface. The air-filled her chest and she released it in pants. The wolf continued to tug on her until she was completely out of the water. She laid back on the muddy ground, too tired to move. Her teeth clacked together and her body almost vibrated in tremors as her body disapproved of the cold weather.
She arched her neck to look for the wolf, but she saw nothing. A loud, disturbing sound filled her ears for less than a second. It was as if thousands of limbs were being broken over and over. She turned her head to look at whatever it was only to be met with the sight of the Prince standing from the ground, naked as the day he was born. She closed her eyes and felt her face flame red, even wet and cold. Pulling herself into a sitting position, she shuffled back from him on her hands and knees to hide behind a tall tree.
The Prince sighed loudly. “If I had wanted to kill or hurt you, I would have just left you in the water. I just want to move you inside where it’s a bit warmer.” Serendipity stayed where she was and said nothing. “Please, let me do this for you.”
She squeezed her eyes together and cursed herself. His voice made her weak! She stuck her hands out from behind the tree.
Clothes, she signed. Serendipity was okay with a lot of things, but nudity in a public place wasn’t one of them.
“Serendipity, it’s almost below freezing out here. You are going to catch your death if you don’t come back inside,” the Prince muttered, annoyed.
Pants, she told the man again. She heard him groan.
“Alpha,” she heard someone mutter. She peeked back around the tree to see another wolf hand Prince Dominic a pair of sweat pants.
“Thanks, Ben,” her wolf muttered. There she went with her wolf again. “You can come out, Serendipity.”
She dragged herself out from behind the plant to find that the other man had already left. She sniffed as she looked at Dominic. She could only imagine what she looked like. She looked down at her feet and walked towards the Prince.
Serendipity could have yelped when he yanked her into his arms and began walking towards the manor. She glared up at him.
I’m not a child that needs to be carried around, she signed to the wolf.
“Then you shouldn’t have run off like a child. There are consequences for your actions Serendipity.” He said it lazily, with a confident look on his face.
She looked down embarrassed and, to her shame, gripped the warm frame of Dominic harder than she would have liked. It was just so cold! She turned her head into his chest completely, placing her lips against his bare chest to warm them. She felt a tremor beneath her and hoped he wouldn’t tell her to move.
Eventually, she felt him take the last few steps up to the door and they entered the manor. The warmth of the building surrounded her immediately and she relaxed into Dominic’s arms as they walked the hallways of the manor. They passed more than one wide-eyed, shocked human on their way up the stairs, but other than that she was glad that there weren’t as many people in common areas as there had been earlier.
They took the stairs two at a time and Serendipity finally recognized that they were headed towards the Prince’s private quarters. As they entered the room, Serendipity saw someone exiting the bathroom with a bucket full of cleaning products.
“Serendipity?” Paisley asked confused. Dominic looked in between the two girls.
Prince Dominic settled his gaze on Serendipity. “Do you know Paisley?”
Serendipity nodded before signing that they had worked together.
“Paisley, Serendipity will be staying with me from now on. You and your sisters are the only three humans allowed on this floor. Do you understand?”
Paisley curtsied and Dominic dismissed her. Serendipity didn’t have time to object before Paisley left and he carried her into his bathroom. He sat her on the edge of the tub before leaning over her and turning on the faucet. She felt his hand grab the edge of her t-shirt and she slapped him away.
What do you think you are doing? She signed quickly, offended by his actions. He stood up, towering over her. Fear began to replace some of the shock she was feeling.
Prince Dominic’s arms folded against his chest. “I’m helping you into the tub.”
Serendipity felt her blood begin to boil. Get out, she signed. If I can’t leave, then I don’t want you around me.
The prince stood frozen for a moment, almost if he was surprised Serendipity had told him no before his expression changed to that of anger. She watched him swing around. His fist met the mirror behind him and she heard the crack before it shattered, glass falling onto the ground. The Prince exited the room and she sat, still stunned about what had happened. He had seemed calm only seconds ago. Serendipity cringed at the sound of objects flying around outside of the bathroom. That wasn’t the case anymore.
How did he expect her to want anything to do with him after what he had done? Was she supposed to look over the fact that she was a slave because of a proclamation he had made? Even if she wanted too, she couldn’t betray her species like that. She would be taking the easy way out and watching those around her suffer, just like she would have been suffering if she would have been anyone else.
When it became quiet Serendipity padded towards the door and pressed her ear to the wood. Silence. She stripped and threw the cold and wet clothing to the ground. She knew the garments were ruined and her heart dropped in her chest. She didn’t have much and in less than two days, she had lost her only jacket and ruined an outfit.
She ran her hands up and down her arms and her lips quietly quivered. She turned her attention to the bath that was now ready for her. Her body instantly tensed at the sudden change of temperature. She slid back slowly and relaxed as the water surrounded her. The quiet surrounded her too, and with nothing inhibiting her ability to think, tears slipped down her face.
She perked up at the sound of a soft knock on the door and wiped the salty streams away.
“Serendipity, it’s me,” she heard someone yell from outside before the door was pushed open. Lindsey walked in holding what looked to be clothes and soaps. “His majesty’s guard sent me up with clothes.” A soft frown played with the edges of her mouth. Serendipity noticed the bags that had begun to form underneath Lindsey’s eyes and the stress lines on her forehead.
Serendipity hugged herself tighter as she realized how naked she was. Her face grew red. Lindsey didn’t look uncomfortable in the slightest and if she noticed Serendipity’s embarrassment, she didn’t say anything. Instead, she walked closer to the fragile girl laying in the tub. Lindsey grabbed the soaps from the things she had brought in before kneeling own. Serendipity hadn’t even thought to look for those, too concerned with getting warm.
“I’m not going to ask if you’re okay. I know you aren’t,” Lindsey said, pouring what looked to be bath salts in the water. It soon turned red and the smell of strawberries filled the air. Serendipity’s hands moved from the water.
The prince says I’m his mate, she confessed.
Lindsey’s eyes grew wide with surprise. She hesitated for a split second and Serendioipity knew there was something on the edge of her tongue.
Do you know what happened to the girl who used to clean the Prince’s room?”
Serendipity shook her head no.
“She had a mate from another territory who was visiting the Alpha King. He took her with him when he left and it’s how you ended up with her job,” she explained. Things began to click in place for Serendipity and a look of horror encased her face.
Lindsey attempted to calm her. “Anna is fine. She’s better off than the rest of us. She was my best friend. When she got taken away so suddenly, her mate set it up to where she would be able to contact me so long as I would reveal to no one that werewolves could have human mates.”
Serendipity’s eyes scrunched together. Lindsey knew so much more about werewolves than she had previously let on. A sense of betrayal filled her but she stifled it down. Lindsey wouldn’t have hurt her intentionally.
“What I am about to ask you isn’t going to be fair. It’s far from it, but I’m begging you to consider my next few words carefully,” Lindsey said. Her gaze never left Serendipity’s and the importance of the conversation dawned on her. She’d never seen Lindsey so tense before.
Lindsey’s voice was low when she continued. “Not everything is black and white. Your smart enough to know that there is nothing in this world that is pure evil and nothing that is pure good. We all are made up of shades of grey,”
“I can’t and won’t make excuses for what has happened to us Serendipity. Humans have been beaten down and killed for years. We’ve all lost those closest to us and if a family did survive, we were torn apart by age and gender like cattle,” Lindsey whispered as tears gathered in her eyes. Serendipity had never seen Lindsey cry. She had always thought the woman was too strong for tears.
“No human has been in any place of authority since the War. We’ve had no hope for a better future because no one has been in our corner. Now, through you, we have a fighting chance. If what you say is true and you are the Prince’s mate, then you are his equal. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Sis nodded. She understood exactly what Lindsey was saying. Serendipity had the chance to manipulate Prince Dominic’s emotions, and if she had the power to do that, then she had the power to sway his decisions.
Lindsey backtracked a bit. “I’m not saying that you have to run into the Prince’s arms like a lovesick fool. I’m just saying it would be good if you got to know him. At the end of the day, you don’t have a choice in this. Anna fought for days before it became easier not to, and once she stopped fighting it wasn’t long before she fell in love. With that love she held for him came compassion for all that he had been through. You can accept what has happened, or you can deny it, but only one of those things will help the rest of humankind. We are no more than slaves locked inside of cages. You have the power to change that now through your connection to him.”
Serendipity fumbled with her hands. Had the world fallen on her shoulders?
No, it hadn’t. The fate of humankind had.
“Wash and dress. I’m going to run down to the kitchen and get your food. It’s technically still early morning, but you deserve to eat and rest after the events of tonight,” Lindsey told her before leaving the room. Serendipity didn’t know how long she sat there, the weight of Lindsey’s words sinking in as they echoed throughout her head.
Whether you realize it or not, you have the power to change that now through your connection to him.
Serendipity scrubbed clean in a haze. She dressed quickly in the sweat pants and t-shirt Lindsey left her before exiting the bathroom. A couple of pieces of furniture were gone, but otherwise, everything looked the same as before. A single lamp in the far corner cast light into the rest of the large room. She listened for any sounds coming from outside the doors before strolling over to the bed she had accidentally fallen asleep in not long ago.
She paused two feet away from her destination. It was his bed. Did she want to sleep in it? She could always take the couch. Still, she didn’t think he’d be back anytime soon and she only planned on taking a little nap.
She pulled the cover back and slid in before melting into the pillow. She couldn’t help but notice that the bed smelled of Dominic. Tranquility she had never felt before took control over her body and the worries and stresses of the day floated away as she was taken to a place where she couldn’t be bothered by them anymore. She snuggled into the comforter, her body curling into itself as she hugged a pillow next to her.
As her eyes grew heavy Serendipity’s memories were dragged back to Lindsey one last time.
Serendipity would try to understand Dominic. It certainly would not be for him, but the greater good of her people. She would be brave.