Anger pulses through her as she lays in her bed, thinking about the day she had. Jacob wanted to be nice and give her a tour, though she was being difficult the first half. Julius takes over and he makes a comment, that makes her cheeks flush with anger. The audacity the male had to even mentioning that this is an adventure. She takes a deep breath, the tavern ceiling staring at her. Lights flicker from the crack under the door. It indicates people coming and going, but it is always the same graceful footfalls.
She had Julius drop her off, after the intense awkward moment they had after he quit talking. That was hours ago. The way his emotions were clear on his face as he looked at her, like she was something to be figured out, but there was the moment, when the emotions were slammed behind shutters. The rage that flickered in his eyes as he leaned down to whisper the threat in her ear. She shivers, pulling the thick cover over her. The warmth surrounds her and she closes her eyes.
A creak from outside made her sit up on her elbows. She watches the crack and the light through it, as it weaves when footsteps go by. The day seem to go by fast, so she guesses that it was late at night. She hears a low murmur as the footsteps continue. She recognizes the voice, it belonging to Julius. Alice sits up, her head turning to the door. Where could he be going this late at night? Shrugging, she lays back down and has a hard time falling asleep. The air around her darkens and pulls her to sleep, the dark swallowing her.
Alice opens her eyes and she looks around her, cool air hitting her skin. The sky around her darkens with orange and red on the horizon. White and grey falls around her, getting stuck in her hair. She stands up, her knees wobbly as the ground shakes. Swallowing, she takes in a deep breath, breathing in smoke. Coughing, she spins around, the air stuffy with heat and ash. She squints toward the horizon, the sky splotching with orange and red, like a sun rise, but a thick blanket of ash fogs the sky.
Coughing, she bends closer to the ground, too scared to move. The field around her came into her vision, ash a thicket on the ground. Corpses scatter all over the field, blood spreading through the ash. Alice feels her breath leave her all at once, as the fire spreads toward them. The heat sears her and she reels back, sucking in a breath of stuffy air.
A lone wolf limps toward her, a feline grace about it. Alice freezes, her eyes taking in the size of the wolf, the size of a horse. The she-wolf stalks closer, her paw bloodied. She lowers her head, growling. Alice scrambles back, terrified.
“You caused this, girl,” the creature snarls, baring her long sharpen canines, “now pay the price.” The wolf lunges and Alice knock back into a heap of ash. She screams, pulling more particles of ash into her.
Alice sits up, her heart hammering in her chest. She feels nauseous and scrambles out of bed, letting the cold ripple through her, calming her stomach. She breathes in, allowing the air to race through her. Alice stands in the middle of the room, with her hand against her stomach. Nodding, she slowly sits back down, the soft blanket rubbing her legs.
The light below her door had died, meaning it was night fall. Beside the door are two food trays. Her eyebrows furrow in confusion and she stands, walking to them. They were cold, and left there, will warm milk. Had she slept through a whole day? It makes sense, the nightmare she had gotten sucked into. She reaches for her arm, when she hisses in pain. Pulling back her sleeves by her shoulder, a patch of red, angry blisters formed. Shuddering, she pulls the sleeve down. She blinks rapidly, thinking of her nightmare, when she was harmed by the fire.
But it never happened, the dream is just a nightmare. She shakes her head and heads back to the bed, when a long creak sounds outside her door. She stops cold, too curious to move. She knew who it was, he did its last night as well. Julius is on the move again, and Alice feels a shot of curiosity flow through her. She creeps toward the door, avoiding the creaks hiding in the floorboards.
Alice stood by the door; the footsteps receded. Taking in a deep breath, she reaches for the doorknob, praying to whatever God that existed, that it is unlocked. Her breath hitches as it turns and almost sobs when it turns with her hand. She has the image of running, escaping. Then a clear image of the guards’ float to mind, the way they looked at her and she knew no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get passed the guards on her own. Julius and Jacob are her only chance of making it back to her life. If she makes it out alive.
She opens the door and lets it creak a little, but no other further movement came. She takes a step out and hears low murmurs below her. She recognizes Julius’s and Jamie’s voices. Tip toeing as quietly as she could, she goes the steps without making a sound. She stands by the corner as their voices grow louder. Keeping her emotions in check, Alice leans back and listens.
“—her space,” Jamie is murmuring quietly, “Letting a secret of her kid was hell for her. She loved you. Hell, she still does. Jamal may be an arranged marriage, but he loves her.”
Julius lets out a sigh. “I guess so. But I don’t understand why it bothers me so much. That she lied to me or used me.”
Jamie lets out a snort. “She didn’t use you.”
“You would know. You used Mason to make your point to Jacob.” Julius snaps, a chair screech back.
“Stop bringing up against me. It was five years ago.” She hisses.
“Five years ago, and yet, you flirt with Mason in front of him like a teenage female,” Julius snaps back, “We can sit here and talk all we want about what happened between me and Leilani, but what you did to Jacob is much worse. You knew the shit Mason put Jacob and Davis through when he was the ambassador for the Fae Legions.”
“God dammit, Julius!” Jamie spits, “I fucking know. I was there. I saw everything. Why do you think it was Mason, I choose to sleep with?”
Footsteps echo away, Julius walking away. They stop, and a noise like rubbing a sandboard on the wood echoes. “Jamie, stop antagonizing him. You made your choice, forcing his. He loved you and you cut his trust.” The door opens and closes, signally his exit. Jamie spews words and stalks to the hallway.
Her blonde hair turns the corner and her orange eyes finds her, lurking in the dark. A dark smirk twists her lips and her eyes flare with unchecked rage. “Eavesdropping?” she asks, leaning her hip against the wall across from her. “Bet you have your own opinions from the stories.”
She stands straighter, her cheeks heating. But the female merely raises an eyebrow. Alice raises her eyebrows and crosses her arms over her chest, embarrassed to have gotten caught. “I don’t know you enough to judge you based on people’s assessment.”
Jamie shrugs, losing her smile. “Unfortunately, Julius is correct. I did hurt Jacob intentionally. He had potential in making progress in helping Julius become king.”
Alice tilts her head in confusion. “Julius to be king?”
The other female smiles, leaning toward her. Her breath hit Alice’s hair. The tangled mess hangs in messy curls. “He would be better than his father. You’ll figure that out when you meet him face to face.”
Alice feels her moment of following Julius slipping away. She turns slightly, watching the door. She wouldn’t even know where he would be at this point. Jamie follows her eyes and sighs. “Be careful who you trust,” the Fae warns, her eyes darkening, “sometimes the kindest people have the most deceiving act.” Jamie kicks off the wall and climbs the stairs leading the rooms above. At the top, she freezes. “He is at the gym, right around the lake.”
Alice opens her mouth, but she disappears into the hall connecting the rooms. Shew briefly thinks about the ache they have, being rooms apart and can’t do anything. Shaking her head, she slips outside, the dark bearing down on her. The moon flickers above, stars glittering around it. She smiles, allowing the trees to block her view further. She looks down and makes her way to the small pond in the center of the village. The little torches flaring enough for her to see. Alice watches as the shadows of the trees sway on the surface and the rippled image of the moon.
At the far side of the lake, two bodies launch themselves into each other. Grunts and swearing echoes the quiet village. Alice stops, content to stay concealed. The moonlight hangs off each body, blood glistening. At first, she thought the other male is attacking Julius, but then the male laughs and pats him on the shoulder. They stop fighting, the other male panting, his breathing heavy.
“I still don’t know how they train you,” the other male pants, his voice gruff, “it’s hard to keep up with you.”
Julius laughs, stretching. “It is good to see you, Mikael.”
Mikael’s eyes flicker in the dark, bright blue like the sea. “Gabriel made me stay here, while he went off to war. I train the new recruits and he’d fight the war.”
Julius’s back is to her, so she couldn’t see his facial reaction, but she saw his shoulders slump. “Damn,” he whistles lowly, “he knew something and didn’t want to lose you.”
Mikael clamps his jaw. “What about me losing him?”
Julius puts a hand to his trainer’s shoulder. “Gabriel was Chief, you know his duty—”
“—is more than family.” Mikael spits, his eyes glowing, “I know.”
Julius lets his hand drop, heaving a breath. “You are the best goddamn trainer of the Fae, and everyone knew that, including Gabriel. Instead of having you fight by him, you were better training those coming in to help us.”
“And we still haven’t won, Julius. Thanks to your father, every time we recruit, they die within months.” Mikael snaps. Julius doesn’t respond, just staring at the male before him. The male glides towards him, his anger like a tidal wave that Alice feels from where she is. “It was crucial when I heard about him. That I did not get to say a goodbye. The last time I saw him was three months before he died, three months.” The male is sobbing, and Alice finally realizes what kind of family they were. She believed they were brothers, but the pure love radiating from Mikael’s face shows it was his husband that died.
“I cannot stop my father, Mikael. I have tried and lost each time. If I challenge him now, I will not be prepared enough and will lose my life. Then no Heir will take your side.” Julius says in a calm manner.
Mikael nods, his face falling. “I know that. Truly, I do.”
Julius slaps his shoulder. “Good. Now go back to bed. I’ll continue to train.”
The other male nods and grabs his shirt off the ground and starts walking toward her. Alice holds her breath, but Mikael’s eyes snap up and meet hers. He doesn’t stop moving, instead his lips twitch into a smirk. He passes her and nudges her toward Julius, moving her into direct moonlight. Her eyes find his, and his land on her. Grey eyes that shines in the moonlight darkens with rage as he takes her in. He strides to her, his skin rippling with muscle of his lean body. The grace of lion or a panther, and it lives in this male’s body.
“What the hell are you doing out here?” he snarls, grabbing at her arm. She yelps, surprise radiating through her.
“I—I followed you,” she admits, her voice stuttering as his piercing grey eyes watch her, “I wanted to see where you have been going.”
He raises an eyebrow at her, his lips turning into a smirk. “Jealous?”
Her cheeks flare red and his eyes darken with hunger as his nostrils flare delicately. “No. I was just curious. I assume you didn’t need any more training.”
He lets go of her arm, and she pulls it back to rub where his fingers dug in. “I always need to train, sweetheart. War has been part of my life since the moment I was born.”
Alice nearly snarls at the word ‘sweetheart’ the moment it left his lips. She feels the attraction between them, though she doesn’t know why. He kidnapped her, even if she ran away at first. She never had the moment to turn back and go home. But what home? It was built on lies and now her ‘parents’ are supernatural hunters. Julius catches it and strides forward, making her step backwards. Her feet slip close to the end of the pond and she slides. Julius snakes an arm around her waist and pulls her upright. Her head snaps up and his breath hits her face. She sucks in a sharp breath, her heart pounding like a drum in her ears. Julius’s eyes have a blue haze to them, sprinkled in the grey. His lips brush hers, a shock reverberating throughout her body. His eyes go wide, his pupils blowing.
Anger made the color leak from his eyes and put pressure on her waist.
“No, this—” he gasps out, “can’t happen.” Julius pushes her away, his hands clenching and unclenching. He swiftly turns around and takes off. Leaving her alone, in the middle of the town.