To Love

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Chapter 24

NEARLY HALFWAY THROUGH THE BOOK OMGGGGGGGGGGGG-ALSO vote :)

“Checkmate.”

-literally anyone, could even b u... go be that bitch ;)

“Your majesty,” I say as I enter the large office the King has been working from and he looks up from the papers situated on his desk, his eyes locking onto me like I hold all the answers he needs.

“Luna,” he says casually, looking back down at his papers and waving a hand to the seat in front of him, “take a seat.”

I do as he says, moving through the room to sit right in front of him and once I am seated, he places the paper into a file and gives me his undivided attention. I didn’t notice it from a distance, but up close like this… I notice slight bags developing under his eyes. His entire demeanour looks more tired-deflated, even. But he is still as daunting as ever.

“Thank you for coming on such short notice,” he says and the pleasantries also take me by surprise, even if they are common practice in a setting like this. I expected the first time we talked after everything that went down to go much differently than this.

“It’s no trouble, my days have been pretty boring as of late,” I say, testing the waters and luckily-the shark doesn’t bite. He just gives me an acknowledging look, a touché almost.

“Well, you and I have much to discuss so I’m sure today that cycle will be broken. I’d like to wait for your mate to be present before we come to any conclusions about what to do concerning the hunter situation but I want you to know that the events of last night didn’t end there,” he says and I nod.

“I understand.”

“Good, because I’m sure by now your mate has filled you in on every little detail you want to know, if you didn’t already figure it out for yourself,” he says, a clear edge to his tone and it makes my face blanch.

“I don’t-”

“Save the theatrics, Luna, you’ve got my strongest superior wrapped around your finger and we both know it so there is no point in lying to one another. However unfortunately for you, your mate has been very bad- your influence has apparently began rubbing off on him and he seems to find it completely acceptable to defy his king which simply won’t do,” he says and I feel a protective flare light up inside me.

“That was a mistake, your majesty. He didn’t mean to betray your wish-he was just thinking of the pack and it clouded his judgement. I can assure you he regrets it deeply,” I say and his steely gaze doesn’t change a fraction.

“That is very interesting seeing he’s already been in here this morning pleading the same case for you and your betrayals.” Roman came to defend me today? I try to mask the shock on my face and the realisation that whatever web the king is weaving-he is doing a seriously good job of it.

The king shifts ever so slightly in his seat to lean back in a casual manner. “If these last few weeks have anything to show, it is that both you and your mate have little to no respect for me as a leader and are unwilling to follow even the simplest of orders. No matter how many times I remind you of my knowledge, you doubt me and continue to scheme. Surely you can see my predicament here?”

I nod and he raises his brow. “Yes, your majesty,” I say forcing the words from my mouth.

“If this were an ordinary day in an ordinary situation, you’d both be severely punished. But luckily for you, it’s not,” he says and I honestly wish he just cut to the chase sooner but him drawing it out gives me an edge-one I cant pass up.

“At least you and your mate can agree on that,” I say and I can practically feel a shift in the room-the shift of the cards coming into my hands. The kings face visibly changes at mention of Lynn, a sort of expression that can only be described was longing overtaking the power that once was there before vanishing entirely.

“You spoke to her?” He asks and he doesn’t even bother to hide the desperation in his voice.

“We spoke briefly this morning, in fact I was set to go and see her before I was called here to you.” I know I have his interest now, he doesn’t need to mask the fact that his mate puts us on a whole different playing field.

“What did she say?” He asks the question as if he has a god given right to know, like he is entitled to it.

“Not much, she wanted to speak to a friend and invited me to eat.” The vagueness of my answer makes his jaw tick but what did he really expect? That I’d share how she confessed to regretting everything from yesterday and all she wanted was to be in the kings arms? Because it is far from the truth-for someone who becomes so incensed by lies, deep down-it’s all he wants.

“It would only make sense that you are her friend here,” he snarls. “You must have talked her into despising the bond, despising me.”

“You did that one all on your own. The last time I talked to her about mates, she seemed excited to meet hers-hopeful to have a long and happy life full of love and company,” I give him a look, “but that’s not going to happen now, is it?” I ask, before giving him a fake look of sympathy. “Such a shame, I’m sure at one point you both had the same ambitions and if Roman had’ve intervened sooner… perhaps her dreams would’ve come true,” I say and his lip raises in a snarl.

“What is it you are getting at?” He asks and I shrug.

“That Roman and I only want what is best for you and best for the pack and, despite your better judgement, sometimes what we think should happen-really just should,” I say because the plan always was to get Alani out, from the get go that was the goal set and the king knew of that.

He betrayed us just as much as we betrayed him.

“So you believe that Roman tackled me all with the intent to save my relationship to my mate?” He asks and I shake my head.

“He did it to save an innocent girl. You don’t know your mate, I do,” I say and that in and of itself makes a slight anger develop on his face. “And if there is one thing she hates more than anything it is people being unjustly harmed. Not to mention the fact that she herself aided Carter after his wound and she knows how much Alani means to him, to me.”

“And you think that is enough for me to exempt the two of you for your crimes against me?”

“I think that we both have something to offer each other,” I say, not missing a beat.

I know I’m enjoying this too much and I should probably reign it in but if the king wants to play dirty-then I’ll play dirty. There is nothing more to this conversation than moves and counter moves and the more power I have-the less he can revoke of it.

“You’ve really thought this all out, haven’t you,” he asks, his jaw clenched and I have to fight the smirk that threatens to reveal itself.

“Like I said before, my days have been boring as of late. There is only so much I can do with the workloads Roman brings for me. Of course if I resumed my usual role all this thinking would be focused on something else,” I say and he narrows his eyes at me.

“So that’s what you want? The right to work back?” He asks and I give him a steely look.

“I want my power back and I don’t want you to take it ever again. I want Roman and I to be given an equal and influential voice in the matters of the war that is to come and I want to be assured that neither of us will be punished for doing what we deem best for the pack,” I say and the demands shouldn’t be difficult to make. In fact they shouldn’t have to be made at all. But, unfortunately I’m dealing with an autocratic dick and that means doing a lot of things that I don’t particularly want to for the greater good.

“And what will I get it return for this?” He asks, only slightly amused underneath all the irritation.

I shrug. “I’ll talk to Lynn,” I say, noticing the way he stills for a brief second at her name again.

“That seems like a rather long list of demands. I don’t see why you think you’re in a position to make them, either. There is nothing stopping me from speaking to her myself, she is my mate,” he says and I call his bluff the moment he makes his call.

“If that were true you wouldn’t have asked me in here,” I say and his eyes narrow, giving me all the affirmation I need. “The truth is, your mate is not going to want to be in the same room as you-much less anything else for quite some time after the your little fling with that girl. Now I’m not going to pretend to be in her mind but I’d also guess that she won’t particularly want to share a certain part of you that will give you that heir you so desperately need,” I say

“What, exactly, can you offer that would change any of that,” he asks, eyes still narrowed into thin slits. Inside I am honestly a lot more nervous than the calm, demeanour I present-he could torture me for the things he wants and no one could stop him.

“Help,” I suggest casually, leaning back into the chair.

“I don’t need your help,” he says and I give him a look, one of sympathy and realism.

“Again, we both know that’s not true. We said no lying remember?” I ask and he looks like he wants to rip my throat out at my sheer audacity to taunt him. But I’m not passing up this opportunity-pay back is a real bitch.

He lets out a chuckle but there isn’t any humour to his laugh. “So what help can you give me then, Luna,” he asks.

“Like I said, I’ll talk to Lynn. Put in a good word for you, find out just how much she really hates you. Give you the information you need to win her back,” I say and he folds his arms.

“You’d betray your friend?” He asks and though it strikes a nerve, I don’t let it show.

“I learnt the hard way that there is no evading the bond. I don’t want that for her,” I say and though our circumstances are different and what I preached wasn’t the full truth, he nods-accepting it. “I wouldn’t call it betraying. I’ll tell her that I’m trying to help you-and her.”

“No,” he says immediately and I furrow my brows. “I don’t want her to know. Talk to her and whatever information she gives you regarding me-any information that I ask you to retrieve, you will tell me. Do that and I’ll grant you your immunity and give you the demands you make,” he says and though it’s a win, it still feels like a loss.

“And there is nothing else to the deal?” I ask, because when you make a deal with the devil, you have to expect to be stung.

“What we’ve agreed upon is what it will be-on my crown,” he says and I hold my hand out to him.

“I’ll find out what you want to know and I’ll see you around the offices I suppose,” I say and he reaches over the table, shaking my hand firmly-setting our agreement in place.

“I’ll let you get to your breakfast, Luna,” he says with a taunting edge and I rise from my chair with a equally fake smile.

“Oh, and before I forget,” I say, reaching into the bag I brought with me. I pull out a thick book labelled mates, their roles and everything you need to know on pleasing your souls other half. A book he so kindly gifted to me with the big slap to my face when he revoked my rights.

I place the book on the table in front of me and he reads the title, looking at it shocked. “I think you’ll be needing it more than me,” I say softly before giving him another smile and walking from the room, preparing myself to meet Lynn and Avery.

-

“Hey,” I announce as I approach Lynn and Avery as they sit around a table with breakfast items sprawled over it.

Avery looks at her watch. “Guess this is a brunch then,” she says and I take a seat.

“Sorry, I got caught up,” I say, my eyes flicking over to Lynn. “The king wanted to speak with me,” I say and her attention snaps to me, her brows furrowing.

“The king?” She asks, “what did he want?”

I shrug, tiptoeing around the deal as best as I can. I can’t explicitly tell her of our deal but I can let her draw her own conclusions-hint at least. I would’ve wanted someone to do it for me if I were in her position. “He needed to speak with me about a few things,” I say and I can’t tell if she is catching on or not and I hope that the emotions running through her don’t cloud her vision-but there is only so much I can do.

“Oh,” she says and I reach my hand over the table, placing it over hers.

“How are you coping with it all?” I ask, sincerity in my tone because no matter my ulterior motive, I do care.

Her gaze flicks to the table and I notice her untouched plate of food. “I- I don’t know,” she mumbles, pain lacing her tone. “Part of me just wants to go home, honestly,” she says and Avery’s face mimics mine, sympathy clear.

“Maybe that would be a good idea,” she says and Lynn laughs dryly.

“He’d never let me and if he did he’d want to join- I don’t want someone like that anywhere near my family,” she says before looking up, unshed tears glistening in her eyes. “Besides, I can’t leave-not with all my patients needing me. He’d probably kill Alani just to spite me if I managed to get out of here,” she says and it breaks a little part of me-the part that will always feel trapped to this place no matter what.

“Maybe if you tried talking to him about it, he react differently,” I suggest, pulling my hand back and her eyes snap to me shooting me a look.

“I can’t talk to him,” she says, like it’s so painfully obvious and me even bringing it up is plain stupid. She wipes a tear away from her cheek. “I don’t even want to look at him,” she says and realise very quickly that the king is not going to be happy to hear what I have to tell him. And my work, is most definitely cut out.

“Has he tried…” I start and she shakes her head.

“No, but I see his men every so often-he’s keeping an eye on me. They walk through the hall I’m living in, through the hospital and-oh look there are some more, just conveniently patrolling the area I’m in,” she says looking to two men that walk a safe distance away from us before letting out a dry laugh. “Why don’t you just lock me up, hey?! It’d make your job soooo much easier!” She yells at them and they turn around, unsure of what to do. “You can tell that pr-”

It’s Avery that touches her forearm in warning, a serious look on her face. “Careful, he’s still king and from experience, angering your mate in a situation like this will only make things worse,” she says and Lynn crosses her arms her lip quivering like a small child.

“I don’t care,” she mummers, fighting back the tears of frustration.

“You will if he decides to take you up on your offer and come out here for you himself. That kind of attitude is what got me marked, Lynn, don’t say something you’ll regret,” Avery explains and Lynn looks at her, slightly guilty.

“What difference does it make?” She says, her tone slightly snappy. “He’s probably already sunk his teeth into that girl and goddess knows how many others-what’s one more?”

“Lynn…” I start and the look she gives me is slightly judgemental, like her brain can’t help but think of my husband.

“Look, who cares about him anyway, from what you told me you’ve already scared him off a least for a while. I say enjoy your freedom while it lasts-live a little,” Avery suggests and I want to slap my hand over her mouth. I feel like we are the devil and angel on her shoulders and whilst being the former isn’t a role I particularly like, its what I am.

“Do you think you’ll ever be able to forgive him though?” I ask and her eyes flick back to the table but the slight pause gives me hope.

“I don’t know,” she mummers. “I just don’t want to have to think about him, I need time and space and-goddess I just really want to see my family,” she says, her voice breaking once more.

“He wouldn’t hurt them Lynn, you know that,” Avery says and I’m glad for the help she doesn’t know she’s giving. She looks at Avery, sceptical.

I nod my head. “She’s right, he wouldn’t touch a hair on their heads-if your thinking about Alani…” I start before giving her a look. “It’s not the same-at all,” I encourage because not only would meeting her family potentially aid her stability, it’s an opportunity for the king to prove her wrong.

“How can I be certain?” She asks, wiping away another tear. “He’s ruthless, he always has been to get what he wants and he always will be.”

She’s not exactly wrong-what I want from the king might seem like a lot to some but honestly, the task I have to do is near impossible.

“Pack law,” Avery says and we both look to her, slightly confused by the proclamation.

Pack law says he can certainly do whatever he wants with no repercussions,” Lynn replies in an obvious manner.

“No, it doesn’t,” she responds, “under pack law the king can do many things, yes, but if you were to get the Alpha Superior to sign an exemption-he is able to protect wolf citizens by holding them to the laws of this pack only-not the kings. Even if the king could punish them, he wouldn’t be able to.”

Lynn looks both surprised and hopeful at the news and turns to me immediately. “Really?” She asks and I shrug.

“I mean I’ve never heard of it but Avery’s-”

“It’s true,” Avery interjects. “When Christopher offered for me to see my parents I wouldn’t accept until he got the decree from the Alpha of the pack they lived in.”

Lynn looks doubly surprised-probably from having only known Avery and Christopher to be two peas in a pod but she is still hopeful all the same. “Would the Alpha write one for me? For the members of my family?” She asks me and I pause for a moment-thinking about just how wise it would be for Roman to hand the King a decree stating he isn’t allowed to enact his wishes as king, after everything that has gone down.

“I’m sure I can work it out, it’s your family-if I asked the King for you I’m sure he’d hand Roman the sheet of paper,” I say, trying to somehow bring her mate back into all this with a shred of positivity.

“Please don’t,” she says and I wish she just put two and two together but I can’t yell the fact that I’m helping the king at her.

“He’ll find out eventually,” I broach carefully, “Maybe if I tell him of it first…” I say and she turns her attention to Avery.

“Could the Alpha Superior write one for me?” She asks and Avery’s eyes widen and she furrows her brows, beginning to sift through her mind.

It makes my stomach coil. “I mean… I guess he could. Theoretically he could use the decree to surpass the King’s power as your mate and protect you as a citizen of his pack. It’s possible but I’d have to double check,” she replies and they both turn to me, my face blanching with the movement.

“Lynn, I…” I start, but how can I refuse someone something when they have put their life on the line for me countless times. Besides if what Avery is suggesting is true then it might be a way to both protect Lynn and uphold her wishes of being left alone. But the King… “Roman is lucky he isn’t being punished as we speak, I mean I can try to talk with him and see what I can do but I can’t make any promises.”

“I understand that, I do. And if you could just ask, just put the proposal on the table Mae that would mean so much. I just…” she lets out a deep sigh. “I feel like he is going to just appear around any corner or be waiting for me in my room and I don’t want that-I don’t want to speak with him right now. Every time I think about him I just think about that girl and how many girls there were before that and it just-” she lets out another choked sob and it breaks my heart a little more.

The king will be an issue. I’m sure he wants to give her time, but convincing him that letting Roman write and sign a decree stating he can’t unless on our terms might be a tad harder. It takes more power from him and if there is one thing I have seen that man hold onto, its power.

But there could be a way to spin it, if I make it seem imperative. I’d have to put every last drop of acting I have left in me to do it but deep down, I think it could be done-and if not, well then I tried.

“I’ll do everything I can,” I assure and it’s true, I will do everything I can. Everything that I can to get around the deal with the king and somehow make him think that this is a good idea.

“Thank you, Mae, I really mean it,” she says, looking at me with sincerity before turning to Avery. “And you too, Ave. I’ve never really had close girlfriends and I’m just glad I’m not here all alone in this.”

“You can count on us,” Avery responds, smiling at her. “Always.”

I nod, though the movement is hard to do through the big lie that it is. “Always,” I say and she smiles at both of us in response and it feels like a dagger to the heart. Like a sealing strike that says she isn’t picking up what I’m putting down and in her mind-clouded with the intensity of her thoughts-she won’t ever.

I feel bad, wrong but I’ve had to sacrifice my entire life, put everything that I want and everything that I aspired to have away in a deep dark place of my heart all because of a bond. It isn’t a choice that I wanted to have to make but I did, because that is how life works out and this isn’t any different.

I don’t want to include Lynn in any of this, I really don’t want to push her towards a bond she’s reluctant to accept. Out of everyone here, I’d think that I would be the last person making her feel it is her duty to be with the king. But I need the things that I agreed upon with the king- if I don’t have any influence or any power then everything that I have sacrificed is for nothing.

My goal is and always will be helping those that are suffering under injustice, and right now, though it may be getting better-that’s still the humans. And it isn’t an issue that will just solve itself, especially with the tensions between the rebels and wolves rising up.

I can’t do shit if the only power I have is being arm candy at Roman’s side and privy to whatever scraps he remembers to tell me of. And I’ll do whatever it takes to get that done.

authors note

Pls go look at the latest meme on my instagram story highlights bc it links to this chapter and boy am I proud :) But omg I am so flipping tired I just keep falling asleep every time I try to write this eeeeek my feet r sore, my arms r sore, my fingers r sore, my brain is sore-send help.

Khalesi

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