Julius slides into the tavern, the Fae murmuring to each other, their whispers full of talk about Jacob and the human girl. Jamie is in the back, talking quietly to a Fae male. Julius notices with humor, it is the male she slept with to push Jacob away. Mason turns his head and greets the other male with a hint of anger. The Fae male clenches his jaw, knowing who he is looking watching his words. Jamie senses his discomfort and looks up, meeting Julius’s eyes. Her orange coloring darkens, losing the usual spark.
“Not what you were expecting, huh?” she growls, flinging Mason’s hand off her arm as she prowls closer to him. The other male rolls his eyes and stalks outside, leaving Julius with the pissed off Fae.
“You told me the truth, but held a detail,” he snipes back, “that she is married.”
Jamie smirks, stopping her movement to him. “Business arrangement. The Chief needs an heir and a male beside her. You know the laws.”
Julius frowns, leaning against the door way leading to the bedrooms above them. “Leilani wasn’t supposed to become Chief.” he spits, “She is the first female Chief in Silver City.”
Jamie’s eyes burn bright as the sun, anger a constant storm. “And for the first two years, this village and city rioted. She put the city back together, only to have your father declare war.”
He bares his teeth, his fangs sliding out gracefully. “You cannot put his mistakes on me, Jamie. I had no business to try and stop him. The king does as he pleases.”
“He shouldn’t even be king!” she snaps, thunder boiling above them as her emotions get the best of her. Her orange eyes brighten like a flame.
“I am the Heir, Miss Nadolski.” He replies in a calmer voice.
Her face twists with anger and she takes a threatening step towards him. Both of them knew each other’s strengths and who would win if it came down to it. “You have the right as any Heir to challenge him for the title.”
“And I would lose.” he breathes, his jaw tight and painful as he mutters the words, “He is powerful, Jamie. And I need time to train and become better.”
Her eyes die to their normal dim orange color as she acknowledges his defeat. The room quiets, the Fae dispersed while they argued. The crackle of the fireplace washes over him as he puts his head against the wall. The next question rises to the tip of his tongue and he tries to drown the curiosity that burns him when it comes to her.
“Anneth isn’t five years old.” The words left his mouth and her eyes meet his again when he tips his head up to gather her reaction.
Jamie sighs, the sound long and exasperated. “No. She is seven.”
Anger darkens the room as his heart speeds up. “So, what was I?” he hisses between clenched teeth, “A distraction? Adultery?”
Jamie shrugs, a foul smile on her lips as she starts to wipe down the counter. “I do not know. The child is Jamal’s. They’ve been put against each other for ten years now.” she explains, “Jamal was the one Gabriel was apprenticing.”
Julius holds in a flinch as the information sits in. The sky is lightening as the sun starts to reach it’s peak. Leilani’s face emerges and he reaches to scrub his face in distress. Sighing, he changes the subject. “Where did Jacob and Alice go?”
“He took the human girl on a tour of Silver City.” Jamie growls, her voice dark. “Your king is on very dangerous ice by taking a human child, Julius.”
A pinch of jealousy rises within him, but he shoves it down. Alice is a human girl his father is interested in and nothing more. He rolls his eyes at Jamie, making her face flush with anger. “Of course, he did. Such a gentlemen.” he drawls, hoping to hide the jealousy that rises within.
“Get out of my tavern unless you are going to your room.” she orders, her eyes staying glued to the counter as she cleans.
Scoffing slightly, Julius straightens and then walks out the door, letting the sun hit him. The roads are full of people, and for a moment, Julius feels like he is back in the kingdom. A little girl separates herself from the people and stalks over to him. Dark black hair cascades down her shoulders and the dark blue eyes of her mother stares at him. His heart contracts, the spitting image of Leilani stands before him, but the firm jaw and pursed lips comes from her father.
“Mother sent me. The War Conference is starting at eight o’clock today and tomorrow,” the little grins, her eyes widening, “Daddy says you cannot be trusted due to who you are. Mother says her sister claims you brought a human to suffice your father.”
Julius stares dumbfound at the little girl, Anneth. “Why were you there?”
She smiles mischievously. “I eavesdropped.”
Groaning, he looks away from the little girl. He knew he had to make sure Leilani knew where her daughter is, instead of being dragged into war politics. He glances at her and reaches out a hand, his eyes trusting. Giggling, Anneth takes it and places a looping flower bracelet against his skin. Vibrant blue with a yellow center. He turns around, toward the tavern of her aunt’s. Crossing the threshold, Julius places the little girl at the counter, with a meaningful glance at Jamie. The smirk that floods her face makes him want to smack her.
He takes off out of town, toward the City. The jealousy of Jacob subsiding, but something animalistic inside of him, wants to hurt his best friend for showing her around. He waves it off inwardly, saying it is only anger he is taking the time to show her around when it might not matter. The sun flares, highlighting the path around him. Many more people are walking the path, heading towards the Village. Crates and bags are filled with items and a small smile comes to his lips. Trader’s Day.
As he continues to make his way, a few Fae wave at him, knowing who he is. A female smirk at him, winking when her male wasn’t looking. He flinches, as dark and twisted as he is, cheating felt wrong. Shaking his head, he continues to move, ignoring the people beside him.
The trees open and he sees the scene of stalls, laughter and selling. Trader’s Day is something every village looks forward to. He and Jacob always did at Outlaw Village, the last stop for the merchants and traders. There was almost nothing left after village scourged them dry. He and all the teens waited the days for the traders, just to buy the last few things that were left to offer.
By a stall of books is Alice and Jacob, a smile on their faces. Her shoulders shake as she laughs, when the merchant gives her a blue cover book. She takes it and smiles, something that lights up her whole face. It is odd, a smile so breathtaking from someone who is kidnapped. He is content from watching afar, the jealousy a green-eyed monster. His best friend glances over his shoulder and catches his eyes, widening as he reads the emotions lingering in his face.
Swallowing harshly, he manages a nod and whirls toward the nearest stall. He hears footsteps quickening as they near him. A hand falling on his shoulder, keeping him from continuing. Jacob sucks in a sharp breath, before whirling him around to face him.
“What’s going on?” he asks.
Julius flushes, the remnant of blood rushing to his face. “I don’t know.”
Jacob knows better than that, the emotions written along his face, hidden by years of training. “No. If you want to give her the tour of the Silver City, I will tell her I have business elsewhere.”
He opens his mouth to decline, but something made him stop. An inner feeling of wanting to show her a city he helped build is extraordinary. “Sure.”
Jacob nods and heads over to the book stall and speaks lowly. Alice glances over her shoulder, her pitch-black hair rippling. The matted hair is smoothed out and Julius wonders if she even notices. Her silver eyes pierce through him and makes him want to shift, but he remembers the version he showed her in the forest. He wants to maintain that version, to keep them apart.
Alice breaks her stare and gives the other male a nod. He smiles at her, gesturing to Julius to continue the tour. As he takes his best friend’s place, a scent of roses filters his senses. Blinking rapidly, he turns to the side away from her, the scent disappearing.
“What has Jacob shown you so far?” Julius asks, his voice deepening as they walk.
Alice hums, her voice soft. “Just the stalls. He wanted to show me Trader’s Day.” Her voice is airy, like she didn’t want to speak to him that much. He is curious if it is because he slapped her in the forest and forced her on the horse after her failed attempt to escape.
“Do you like books?” The question left his mouth in a hurry, like he is nervous.
She blinks, as if startled he would ask. Her lips pull into a frown, and her eyes drift away. Julius senses the change in her and he lets his mask fall into place, no emotion hints on his face. Her eyes flicker before them as they walk through the celebration. A child about three looks at her with chubby cheeks and pointed ears looks at her, giggling. The mother blushes and sends her husband away with the child.
“Yes, I love books,” Alice answers, her voice light, “I read a lot back home.”
Julius doesn’t look at her, keeping his eyes in front of him. The human girl irks him, but he doesn’t know how to deal with the feelings. He still sees Leilani in the back of his mind, the little girl beside her mother. He clenches his jaw, reminding himself it was a fling for him, no matter the feelings he left behind.
“Follow me, then.” He says, turning sharply to the right, circling the needle point building of silver. Less Fae are down this way, a far building from Trader’s Day. The building Julius takes them to, a two-stories high, surrounded by cement. An old wooden sign hands from rope at the entrance, Fantasy Bookshop. The memories that fill his head, contain laughter and anger with his best friend. Wicked schemes were drawn here, and to this day, Julius has never stepped in here after the last scheme they have done.
The bell dings as he pushes the door open, allowing the smell of old, musty books swirl around them. The library is warm, the fireplace near the door wafts over them. Alice’s face lightened and familiarity changes the dark spots. Swallowing, he walks to the counter to the lady managing it. Her outfit is a series of color, changing from one to another as the light reflects it. Her eyes are a pale green, like the sky before a storm, a nasty storm. Her white-grey hair is pulled into a tight bun. She glances up, her smooth Fae face tightening at the vampire, but her eyes slide pass, latching onto Alice. Her eyes with interest at the human, surprise glittering in her depths. Alice bites her bottom lip in thought as her silver eyes take in the surrounding book cases that took three fourths of the space. The librarian’s eyes greedily take in the sight of the hunger that sharpens the human’s face.
“Prince Julius,” the female snarls, her voice dripping venom, “what a pleasure.” The sarcasm radiates and bites him. He scowls darkly, letting her hear the warning. Her jaw clenches and faces Alice again.
“Diana, this is Alice,” Julius introduces, ignoring the supernatural greetings, “She is with me on a business arrangement and then we go to give he to my father.” The room starts to cool, the air hard to breath. Only Alice and Diana seem unaffected. Clearing his throat, he steps away from the female and toward a familiar book case.
It is filled with all his favorite books, when he has time to read. The last few years have been harder and the palace has no books in the walls beside his cottage back at Outlaw Village. He takes off a book, a novel about a warrior and hands it over to the girl beside him. The cover is brown, the title in gold. It has torn edges and worn paper as people have read it many times before him.
“To start of your adventure.” He jokes, but the joke dies as she looks up, her eyes bright with anger. Her adventure is being kidnapped and taken to another world against her will. He swallows harshly, and smooth out all emotions. “You know, for the ride to the kingdom.”
Her eyes harden to stone, no emotions flicker through. “You need to stop acting like I am friend,” she snaps. He opens his mouth to protest, but she interrupts him, “You and Jacob. we both know where this path ends, me in the throne room with your father. I have no idea what is going to happen and you guys can’t be nice about it.”
Julius closes his mouth into a hard line, his eyes on the book in her hand. The hand not holding onto the book is at her side, clenched into a fist. “You are right.” He sneers, “Why bother with a human at all?”
Alice rolls her eyes and shoves the book back into his arms, stalking outside. He scoffs and carefully puts the book back and takes off after her. She tries to lose herself in the crowd, but he has long legs. In a few strides, he grabs her arm and pulls her to stop. Leaning towards her, his lips brush her ears.
“Do not make me be cruel, Alice. I can make sure you are under lock and key at the tavern.” He whispers, his breath fanning her hair.
Her body tenses and hears her heart pick up speed. He grins and releases her, stuffing his hands into his pockets. Surrounding people had stopped to watch, their eyes wide and hateful. But all of them keeps their mouths shut. Most of them are soldiers, visiting families. Some has tears streaking down their cheeks. They were called home, due to Julius’s input to their Chief. They won’t risk cutting the new alliance, not even for a mere human.