Chapter 17-No violence be damned
"Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is timing. It waits on the right time to act, for the right principles, and in the right way."
-Fulton J. Sheen
The memory of my previous night with Tobias still lingered in my mind, as did the remnants of his kisses against the skin of my neck. The echo of his breath against my lips still continued to ravage my senses. The trail of where his hands roamed my body still left me longing for more. My heart surged with the anticipation of seeing him again, causing my lips to hold an unyielding smile.
“Need a moment to uh collect yourself?” Cane asked, taking a sip of his wine.
Embarrassment washed over me, but my smile held, even though, his false attempt at courtesy irked me nearly as much as the smirk on his face. I brushed off the discomfort and narrowed my eyes. “No. I’m fine. Thank you.”
“Good night last night?” he asked.
I ignored his need to continue that particular topic and asked instead, “who is running Terra in your absence?”
“I like a woman who gets straight to the point.”
I rolled my eyes. I missed the days when he wasn’t as brazen with his actions and words and preferred the Cane who was content to peruse the many books in the palace library.
He grinned and continued. “My uncle, Khan.”
“Khan?” I asked, trying out the sound of his name. “Can he be trusted?”
“I trust him with my life,” he stated resolutely.
“Could he be responsible for the faction in your territory?”
His easy smile fell from his face. “I take a lot in stride but accusations against my family I do not take lightly.”
“I didn’t accuse him. I’m merely asking your point of view. As we both know, the faction has proven itself to be backed by someone with power in your territory.”
He played with the cuff links of his shirt. “I understand your line of thinking, I do, but I refuse to believe it’s him we’re looking for. He basically raised me. My father didn’t place parenting high on his list of priorities.”
I chewed on my lip, contemplating his thoughts. “I see you are reluctant to cast blame onto your uncle, but when it comes to power, it’s always hard to know who we can trust. I am sure you know this. All I am asking is that you look into it for the sake of my parents. Please.”
His eyes searched my face until he made his decision. “Very well, but when, not if, when you’re wrong, I expect an apology.”
“Deal,” I agreed all too happily.
For his sake, I did hope I was wrong.
The rest of our lunch went fairly easy enough. We made casual conversation about our territories and it made me realize how little I’d seen of my own. It made me long to know more of my people and to experience how they lived.
“You know, if you give yourself the chance, you might find yourself falling for me,” Cane said, smiling genuinely.
I laughed. He was right though. He was funny, kind, attractive, and life with him wouldn’t have been dull, but in my heart, I knew I was already taken. I should have been jumping for joy at the realization but in all honesty, I was terrified. My heart had been proven to be untrustworthy and not only did I not trust myself but was I sure I trusted the person who’d burrowed their way into it.
Cane chuckled, pulling me from my thoughts. “Even now, I see you with another man in your thoughts and it only makes me want to pursue you even more.”
I chuckled. “I’ll see you later, King Romulus.”
“Maybe in your dreams,” he winked.
King Romulus Cane Goldrian, a presumptuous name, one that befitted the man.
The rest of the afternoon had been spent on meetings with the council, Trixie, and the purse strings of the territory. I was exhausted and nearly missed the whispered conversation coming from around the corner. The hall was dark with only the moon giving a few rays of light through the nearby window. I should have kept walking but women’s intuition kept me listening at the end of the hall, hidden in the shadows.
“Tobias,” a voice whispered seductively. “I know you remember how good it was between us, how good I could make you feel. Give me the chance to make you feel that way again.”
The blood drained from my face and a weight fell on my chest. It was Olivia and Tobias around the bend. My head screamed at me to run, to get away from what it knew could possibly hurt me, but my legs were dead weight. They anchored me to the hardwood floor, needing me to hear his response.
I sat in my black marble throne with its white pair empty at my side. Georgiana had sent a team to oversee my look today and again I was grateful. I wanted to look fierce. I needed the protection that the clothes and makeup offered me. They were my armor and war paint. Georgiana left specific instructions to have my hair slicked back into a high ponytail and to dress me into a white pantsuit and heels.
Viktorya stood behind me, ready to execute any orders I had for her, even though she had no idea what was about to happen. I’d distanced myself in the last week until I was ready to discuss what I’d learned. She’d picked up on the difference but refrained from asking too many questions. Once today was over with, I would figure out how to talk to her about Thomas.
Killian and Georgiana walked in, hand and hand. Both bowed before moving to stand near my left. They both knew what was to come. I nodded at diamond and Opal to open the main throne doors. They pulled open the heavy oak doors and motioned Olivia and Tobias inside.
For a moment I was unsure of what I was about to do, but Olivia’s lack of regard for the throne only fueled my rage. She didn’t bow or make any gesture of respect towards the crown. Her lip curled as her eyes narrowed further as she continued to watch me.
“Why are we here?” she asked.
“It’s common knowledge that it is a crime to meddle with the tradition of the Game or were you not aware of that when you propositioned Tobias?”
Her eyes widened as she stared from me and back to Tobias. “You told her?”
“The palace has many eyes and ears at my disposal,” I answered coldly.
She moved closer to Tobias and gripped his arm, hoping he’d protect her from what was about to happen. and it took all I had not to beat her into the ground for the small action. He shook her hand away.
“You violated the freedom I gave you as a guest in my home. I allowed your presence because of your connection to Killian and Georgiana. You came here with the pretense of family but from what I’ve heard and seen, you’ve done nothing to support that claim.”
She clenched the material of her violet dress in her fists as she fumed over my words.
I continued, “Pack your things and get out.”
Olivia laughed, letting her dress fall flat against her thighs once more. “I tasted his lips again and they are just as I remembered,” she boasted.
I laughed, matching the cruelty of her own. “And you thought I didn’t know? He told me himself.”
Thankfully, Tobias had sought me out on his own to explain what had happened before I was even able to accuse him of anything. Not that there was anything to accuse him of. I had seen it all, how she forced herself on him, and how he’d rebuked every single one of her advances. Her lips had slightly grazed his for a second before he was able to push her away. She went so far as to follow him all the way to his room where he was able to finally get away from her. If the Great Mother hadn’t blessed me with divine patience that night she would have seen the end of my fists, Madame Lorell’s rule of no violence be damned.
“Interference in the Game carries a heavy punishment and I should know,” I said, grazing the scar on my chest with my fingertips. “Be grateful I’m doing this without the council present.”
Olivia’s eyes widened a fraction of a second.
“Leave,” I said, giving her no room for a rebuttal.
“Killian,” she whined.
He refused to look at her.
She took one last pleading glance at Tobias before hurrying from the room.
A/N- Hi! I try not to leave too many author’s notes but I just wanted to say a quick thanks to my loyal readers. I can’t keep a regular update schedule and I appreciate ya'lls patience with me like you have no idea. I'm beyond grateful for you guys. <3<3<3