The After Effects

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Don't Call Me That

"Hello, Acer." I felt my toes curl in my boots at the retched title.

"Don't call me that." I tried to bite back my words, only because of Harper's presence.

The King chuckled, knowing he had already managed to get under my skin.

"I heard you were in town." The King stated simply, basically setting himself up for my retort.

"Did one of your harlots see me?" I smiled and batted my eyelashes, the look of innocence.

I knew my retort had worked when I saw his jaw tick. "Lady Bjerke, you make bold accusations." He straightened in his seat, realizing I came to play today.

"And you take bold chances by screwing those walking STD bags." I fired right back.

Harper gave my hand a hard squeeze as the King's attention turned to her.

"Who is this?" The King asked. Studying her small form, he was probably wondering how she got unlucky enough to get stuck with me.

And although his words held no malicious intent, I felt a possessiveness of her. "Why did you summon me?" I changed the subject smoothly.

Harper took a steadying breath as the King's dark blue eyes went back to me.

"My guards reported to me that a Lady covered in blood rode into my capital yesterday on a black steed. I knew it had to be the Acer." The king slipped the title in, making me glare hard at him. "Tell me, who's blood were you covered in when you entered my town yesterday?" He tilted his head at me, the crown staying steady on his dirty blonde locks, as he baited me.

"You called me here for this?" I rolled my eyes, faking boredom.

"Yes. Now answer the question." The King demanded, raising his tone a bit and leaving no room for question.

Harper jumped at his raised voice, her hands wrapping tightly around my thigh as she buried her head inside my cloak and into my side. Naturally, my hand came down to pat her head and back as she trembled around me.

Both of my hands came down to either side of Harper's head, covering her ears while I spoke. "The Vikings left a mess of a family and I decided to grant the family a final rest by burying them. The blood was from their mutilated and beaten bodies." I said dully.

The King's eyes widened in shock and they darted to Harper.

"That's the cloths shopkeeper's niece." The King realized as he watched her body tremble.

I just nodded as I removed my hands from Harper's head, leaving just one to rest against her back, rubbing soothing circles on her back.

"Where was this?" The King asked, his dark blue eyes meeting mine.

"In a neighborhood on the outskirts of Pery," I stated, watching as the King mentally mapped that.

He narrowed his eyes. "That's south of the Divide."

"That's way south of the divide. I was an hour walk from the Black Forest." I explained.

"Did they go in Pery?" Worry pulled at the King's features.

The Vikings crossed the Divide and butchered survivors on the Southern King's territory. That was nearly an act of war from the Northern territory. Even though technically the Northern King isn't a part of the Viking group, he's typically associated with them, because he lets them do whatever they want. Pillaging and Plundering at no cost or consequences.

I shrugged, while drawing some circles on Harper's back.

The King glanced at Harper then back to me. "It seems I need to speak with the Northern King." He thought out loud.

"Good luck with that." I scoffed, trying to hide my utter disgust with the horrible man.

The King smirked, "I'll send him your love." Once again, the King glanced between Harper and I. A thoughtful expression crossed his face. "My offer still stands." He said.

I rolled my eyes. "And why would I want to stay in the Castle?"

Harper tensed under my hand, obviously overhearing the conversation.

The King chuckled. "Besides the obvious free food and board, which includes warm showers, you can help me control this situation." His offer was tempting, especially the warm showers.

Suddenly the body wrapped around me moved and Harper peered up into my face. "Can we please stay here Ivy."

We. It was my turn to freeze. we. When was the last time I was ever considered a part of we?

I met this girl hours ago.

Have I adopted her already?

Am I ready for this kind of responsibility?

Can I handle this? Can she handle this?

Many questions ran around my head, but one thing was for sure, I couldn't let Harper return back to her Aunt. Not to the pain and suffering that would come from that. I have to keep Harper safe, and to do that she needs to be near me.

Gray eyes burned into me. Begging and pleading.

"Fine." I blurted, breaking underneath the weight of those adorable gray eyes. "Fine," I faced the King. "I accept your offer, only if you let me help you. No secrets, no bull. It's important that I help you make decisions."

The King grinned at me, a beaming grin.

Wonderful... What have I gotten myself in too?

The King dismissed us, along with a guard to lead us to our "new quarters". Thankfully the guard was female, and Harper was a bit more relaxed around her.

A good fifteen-minute walkthrough grand hallways finally led us to the East Wing. Where royalty and court members stayed. The Wing is split by a large sitting room, the royal family have the right rooms and court members get the left rooms.

Ten doors stood on the left side and Harper and I were led to the farthest door. Which meant we got a corner room, therefore nicer quarters.

I could feel the excitement rising in Harper as we got closer and closer to our quarters.

The guard opened the door for us and Harper was instantly gone, running and gawking at everything.

I shook my head at her behavior and shut the door.

Man, I hope this day doesn't get any crazier. I sighed...

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