The Crown that Was Never Meant to Be

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Chapter Six

Nyx perked up at the mention of a game, excitement blooming in her eyes.

"What sort of game?" Maroon asked, a devious smile on her lips.

"One where we write down facts about ourselves and guess who wrote it," Diamond replied.

Angelica paused. Biting her lip, she realized one tiny issue.

"What?" Maroon asked, raising a brow, "You got a murderous past you want to hide?"

"If she did, I doubt she'd reveal it now," Amber said.

Angelica frowned. "I never left my house up until less than a year ago."

"And?" Maroon asked.

Angelica just stared.

"Anyway, what's the issue," Maroon asked, waving it away.

"I can't read," Angelica said.

The room paused.

"You can't read?" Domino asked.

She shook her head. "I was never allowed to. Damon started teaching me, but we haven't gotten very far."

"If I may interject-,"

"No," Amber cut her off, "Keep your mouth shut."

Maroon grinned and opened her mouth, likely to make some stupid pun, but Amber growled, "I hear one more shit pun leave your mouth and I'll stuff your tail down your throat."

Nyx blinked. "That sounds mean."

"Thank you, Nyx," Maroon said, "Just because one can't read-sist making puns doesn't mean they should be threatened."

Domino snorted at the pun. A small smile quirked onto Angelica's lips.

"You," Amber announced, "Are dead to me."

Maroon grinned, "Why, thank you."

Amber frowned.

"It still doesn't fix the issue that she can't read," Diego pointed out.

"I can do it for her," Nyx offered.

Angelica paused.

"You can write?" Angelica asked.

Her sister nodded, a wide smile on her lips. "Big brother says my handwriting is shit, but I can write."

Angelica gasped at the foul word leaving her six year old sister's mouth, and Domino gaped. Then she turned to Amber and exclaimed, "This is why you watch your gods-forsaken mouth!"

Nyx blinked. It clicked, then, what she'd said, and her cheeks flushed. Lowering her head, she murmured, "I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault, love," Domino replied, glaring at Amber.

Amber glared back.

"Anyway," Maroon said, dragging the conversation away, "What sort of facts shall we be guessing?"

"Hobbies, favorite animal, the like. Really, whatever you'd like," Diamond, "But no ages. Nyx would be really obvious."

Nyx blinked, as if she knew not why.

"You could join in, too, if you'd like," Diamond said, looking to Cazriel, "Gwen, too."

"Ah, now, that would be a bit of an issue for me, seeing as I'm blind. And know just about everything about you lot," Cazriel stated.

Diamond blinked. Amber snorted. "You don't act blind."

"When you've been someplace for thirty years, you tend to be able to travel without needing sight," Cazriel replied, "Gwen will likely find herself too busy with overworking herself to play."

"I do not overwork myself," the old woman replied, slipping into the room, a stack of paper and a handful of pencils in her hold.

Cazriel gave her a look that said otherwise.

"Don't give me that," she snorted, handing Diamond the paper and pencils.

"I only say it because I worry," her husband said.

She huffed and rolled her eyes, a smile quirking onto her lips, her eyes bright. Walking to her husband, she kissed his cheek, murmuring, "I know. And I love you for it."

They exchanged a nuzzle, and he eased his wife into his lap. For a moment, they were quiet, simply enjoying each other's embrace.

"I think I'll sit this out," Gwendolyn said, "I've got dishes to do."

"Absolutely not," Cazriel said.

"That wasn't a request," Gwen said, meeting her mate's unseeing gaze.

He almost seemed to stare back. A silent, impossible staring contest proceeded. It didn't take long for Gwen to yield.

"Fine. Later," she said, laying her horned head on his chest.

He pressed a kiss to her hair. "Later."

Again, the woman smiled, and she allowed her husband to hold her.

It brought both a smile to Angelica's lips and an ache to her heart.

She wished Damon was here. Wished it, but was glad he wasn't. Glad because he was with Ember, and he was healing, and she was glad of it.

Diamond passed the paper around the table, the pencils with it. Each of them wrote something down, even Lilac- well, Nora and Aron didn't- and Diamond then re-collected the pages. Crumbling all of the papers, she tossed them into the center of the table.

"Take one," Diamond said, "If you get your own, then oh well. Can't throw it back or we'll all know it's yours."

"We keeping score this time?" Domino asked.

"I don't have prizes," Diamond said.

"We didn't then," Jackal replied.

She paused, then nodded. "Alrighty. We're keeping score. Whoever wins doesn't really get anything except bragging rights."

"Thank goodness Jewel isn't here, then," Jackal snorted, "None of us would have a shot, then."

Diego raised a brow, "Oh? She didn't seem very... welcoming towards others. I wouldn't guess she'd know much about anyone."

"She doesn't," Angelica admitted, "But she seems to be able to guess anything about anyone just by observing them for a few hours."

Diego nodded, understanding flashing in his eyes. Understanding and something else. Something almost like... rapport. As if he understood why and could sympathize.

Angelica almost missed it, but Serafina took her husband's hand under the table. A comforting gesture, if anything.

Diamond plucked one of the crumpled up papers out of the middle of the table. Angelica followed suit, and soon, they'd all picked a paper.

"Who wants to go first?" Diamond asked, pulling out another paper to keep track of the score.

"Well, I know who mine is," Jackal said, "So, I suppose I will."

"Go on, then," Domino replied, in her eyes a challenge.

"Napping. Rabbits. Loves children, especially her own. Disapproves of swearing. Would look like she's twelve because she's short as hell if she wasn't pregnant," Jackal said.

Domino snorted. "I did not write that last one."

"It's still true," Jackal said.

"I do not look like I'm twelve," Domino mumbled.

Jackal disagreed.

"I've got way too much momma fat to look twelve," Domino stated.

"Fair point," he said, and she punched his arm.

Nora's head snapped up from her plate, and Jackal gave her a small smile. "I'm just teasing your momma. Don't worry about it, love."

With a nod, the girl returned to her food. Jackal kissed his wife's cheek, murmuring, "I love you, momma fat and all."

She smiled, and he nuzzled her cheek. Straightening, he said, "So, yeah. It's Domino's."

Diamond scribbled something down on her page, then looked at Domino and said, "Your turn."

"Fluffy things. Making friends. Making flower crowns," Domino said.

Most of the table's gaze turned to Angelica and Nyx. Domino studied the two, as if trying to figure out which one of them it was.

Both of them stared back with a blank face.

"Nyx," Domino guessed.

A grin broke out on the girl's face, and she nodded. "Yep."

Domino let out a relieved sigh. "Good. I was hoping I picked right."

Diamond again scribbled something down on her paper. "Your turn, Nyx."

She looked down at her page, took a second to sound out the words in her head. To her credit, she got through all of them easily, only tripping up on the last one.

"Traveling. The ocean. Swimming. Dol...dolphins?" Nyx said, and looked to Diamond for approval on the word.

She glanced at the paper and nodded. Nyx grinned.

"Now, who do you think it is?" Diamond asked.

She pointed at Serafina. "She smells like the ocean."

Angelica blinked. "We've never been to the ocean."

"It's not far from here," Serafina said, "She can probably smell it, and associated the water with the ocean. Then she probably associated it with me."

Nyx nodded. "It smells salty."

"That it does," Sera agreed, "Good job, little Nyx."

Again, the girl beamed. Diamond scribbled something on her page, and Serafina said, "Reading aloud. Cats. Sitting on the couch and cuddling."

Domino glanced at Jackal, who did not react. Serafina, however did not miss Domino's look.

"Jackal?" Serafina looked at the man.

"Yes?" Jackal replied.

"Is it you?"

He nodded. "Mino gave it away, I take it."

Serafina answered with a nod of her own. Jackal sighed. "I suppose I deserved that."

"I mean, that wasn't my intention, but okay," Domino said.

"Oh? And what was your intention?" Jackal asked.

"It was more of a 'That would be Jackal, Mr. I-feel-like-reading-to-you-so-suffer-through-this-year-long-book."

Jackal snorted. "I've been reading shorter books recently. I do not make you suffer."

"You make the kids suffer, then," Domino said.

"Nora," Jackal said.

The little girl's head snapped up.

"Do you enjoy it when I read to you?"

She nodded, beaming. "It's fun."

Jackal snorted at his wife. "See?"

Domino huffed a laugh. "Oh, alright."

He grinned and planted a kiss on his wife's cheek. She would have returned the kiss with one of her own, had Diamond not interrupted.

"Jackal. Your turn."

"I happen to have already read mine," Jackal said.

Diamond paused. It took all of two seconds for her to decide, "Alright. I'll read mine."

"Birds. Singing. Running," Diamond said, pausing.

She looked up, scanning the others seated around the table. She blinked, at a loss.

"I don't know a single person that likes singing," Diamond said.

Maroon grinned, a knowing light in her eyes. Diamond raised a brow, asking for answers.

"Oh, that's for me to know. Good luck figuring out who it is, though," Maroon said.

"Is it you?" Diamond asked.

Maroon shook her head. "I sound like a dying cat."

"Then who?" Diamond questioned.

"Maybe," Maroon said, "You shouldn't be asking who. Maybe you should be asking how."

Diamond raised a brow.

"How I know, that is."

It took a moment. Then it clicked. "Amber. You'd be the only one who knows because you're the only one who knows Amber."

Maroon nodded.

"Does she sound any good?" Diamond asked.

"Oh, her voice is pretty as a bird's," Maroon replied.

Amber flushed.

"Maroon," she warned.

She shrugged. "Just telling the truth."

"I'd appreciate it if you didn't," Amber murmured.

"What? Afraid we're going to ask you to sing?" Diamond asked, raising a brow.

"Yes," Amber admitted.

"I don't think any of us are stupid enough to ask," Lilac said.

Amber hissed at him, and he held up his hands in defeat.

However, he did not seem to be done.

"I wouldn't mind hearing it though," Lilac said.

"You deserve it least of all," Amber spat.

Maroon whistled. "Well. Harsh."

"You don't either!" Amber exclaimed.

"Someone's pissy," Maroon said.

Amber opened her mouth to swear at the girl, then paused. She took in a calming breath, picked up her paper tightly enough that she re-crushed it, and almost snarled out, "Hunting. Snapping turtles. Traveling."

Then her angry eyes shot to Diego, and she spat, "You."

"Yes. Me," he confirmed.

Amber let out a satisfied huff, crossing her arms. Diamond updated the score sheet.

"My turn," Diego said. "Tiny fat birds. Not getting killed. Hanging out with my sister."

He took a moment, considered who hadn't yet been picked, and who might fill the criteria. He then said, "It's either Angelica or the boy, but I'm going to guess the boy, seeing as I'd assume Angelica would have something to do with her mate."

He then looked to Lilac, apologizing. "I don't know your name. Sorry."

"Lilac," he said, "And you're right."

Diego smiled. "Well, I agree. Not getting killed is great."

Lilac chuckled lightly, then read his own paper. Or would have, had a look of pure confusion not spread over his features.

"What?" he just said.

Amber snorted. "What? Can't read?"

"No. This is literally just a grocery list," Lilac said.

The room paused. Then, collectively, the entire table said, some laughing, some annoyed, "Maroon."

She grinned.

"What the hell, Maroon?" Amber questioned.

"As it turns out, I have no favorite animal. Nor do I have hobbies. And my life is terribly bland, so I figured I'd just write the essentials," Maroon said.

Lilac snorted. "Ice cream is not an essential."

"I should like to disagree," Maroon said.

"No wonder you're so fat," Amber mumbled.

Maroon grinned. "Thank you. Although, I should like to point out that I'm not quite as fat as you should like to imply."

She wasn't, truly. She had a bit of a stomach, and her thighs were a little thick, but she was by no means unhealthy.

"Whatever. Just read your damn paper," Amber said.

"Language," Domino said.

Amber ignored the woman. "Read."

Maroon sighed. "You're no fun."

"Read."

"Alright, alright," Maroon replied, cleared her throat, and began reciting some poem.

Amber slapped her over the head with a plate. Maroon hissed, leaning away from the woman.

"Read."

"Fine. My goodness," Maroon huffed. "Wolves. Making flower crowns. Annoying a certain someone with said flower crowns."

Half of the table's gaze shifted to Angelica. She managed to hold back a smile.

"I take it this certain someone is Damon?" Maroon said, looking to Angelica.

"Possibly," she replied.

"Just saying, I'd gladly help next time you want to annoy him," Maroon said, setting her paper on the table, picking up her plate, and continuing to eat.

Angelica laughed, and read her own paper. "Playing games. Cats. Hanging out with my brother, when he isn't being an ass."

Lilac frowned. "That had better not be Diamond."

"I do believe it is," Angelica said, raising her eyes to Diamond.

She grinned. Lilac snorted. "I'm offended."

Maroon held a hand to her chest. "Excuse me? That's my thing."

He threw Maroon an amused glance, and asked, "Is that everyone?"

Diamond nodded. "And Maroon won, because she knew Amber's when I didn't."

Maroon grinned, her red-orange eyes flashing.

Amber frowned. "I should have written something more obvious."

Maroon's grin just widened.

"So, bragging rights, then?" Maroon asked, a gloating smirk on her lips.

"I would not give her bragging rights," Amber said.

"Oh, come on, Amber. I'm not that cruel," Maroon said.

"No."

Maroon opened her mouth, but Gwendolyn cut her off. "How about another piece of chicken."

Again, Maroon's smile widened. "Oh, I am not opposed to that at all."

Gwendolyn sprang up to retrieve the girl another plate, despite her mate's protesting.

The rest of the meal, thankfully, passed by peacefully.
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