Chapter 16: Paratus
“Going?” I ask him. Alpha Kaine nods, a hairbrush in his hand as he works through his brown locks carefully. I catch his eyes through the mirror and cross my arms, tilting my chin down.
“What?” he asks, annoyed.
“Where are you going?” I expand. He puts the brush down and reaches for the gel. He unscrews the cap with one hand and dips three of his fingers into the gel. He brings the goo up to his hair slowly, watching me watch him.
“The palace,” he tells me. I try to keep my eyes from falling to his. My eyes move in and out of focus as I look at him. I am dizzy with happiness. If Alpha Kaine is going to be leaving for several days that gives me my much-needed opportunity to escape from his home.
“How long will you be gone?” I ask, wringing my hands together. I shift my gaze to look at the decor inside his bathroom. It was one of the few things in his room I hadn’t really had the chance to look at. I had cleaned this bathroom a few times but I’d never taken the time to look around.
“Why, are you going to miss me?” he teases. Alpha Kaine hadn’t said much to me but in the few times I had spoken to him I got the sense that he was a very confident person. He was someone who always got what he wanted when he wanted it.
And it showed.
“No,” I let the irritation affect my words. It had quickly become a game that we played. He would tease me, I would bite back. Alpha Kaine loves this game. “I just wanted to know. That’s all,” I say.
“Does it matter?” he asks. Yes. It does matter. I’m going to run away while you aren’t here and be long gone by the time you get back and realize I’m not here.
“No,” I repeat. “I just didn’t know if you were going to be there until the ceremony was over or if you were going to drop in and say ‘hey’ then turn around and come back.” He sets the gel back down and runs his fingers through his hair once more, checking to see if he had added enough of the substance to it so it lays just the way he wants it to.
“We’ll be there a few days.” I nod in understanding. He didn’t answer my question. He gave me exactly enough information to tell me he already answered my question but not enough to actually tell me the information I needed.
“Do you need me to pack your things?” Please say yes. Please say yes. If I pack his things I’ll figure out how many days he’ll be gone so I can disappear into the night like I was never even there.
“No, that’s alright,” he says slowly, turning from side to side to admire his reflection in the mirror from every angle possible. “I have people for that.”
I frown. When I was first captured I was under the impression that I would be Alpha Kaine’s servant, here to obey his every command without question, at no cost to him or the kingdom. What sort of servant am I if I don’t do any work for him? Am I even a servant at all?
“What will I do while you’re gone?” I ask, dumbly. He pauses and turns his head only enough to look over his shoulder at me, curiosity dancing in his eyes.
“While I’m gone?” I nod slowly. Did he not already mention to me that he was going somewhere?
“Yeah,” I respond. “Do you want me to do dishes or help with the laundry? I can work wherever you need me, really, but I’d prefer to work as far away from the servants who do the laundry if that is possible...” I trail off when I notice his eyes narrow in the reflection of the mirror. My head drops in submission.
“What makes you think I’m going anywhere?” He drops his hands to the edge of the countertop and pushes himself away from the mirror. He doesn’t turn his body to look at me, though.
“Are you not going to see your brother? Don’t you think it’s a bit rude to send someone with a fruit basket to tell him congrats?” Alpha Kaine laughs and turns to me, placing a finger on my chin, lifting my head to look at him.
“Of course I’m going to see him, Anita, but I will not be going alone,” he murmurs. Visions of the girl crawling into his bed fill my head as I nod in understanding. “What are you thinking?” he asks me a moment later.
“Do you need me to help you pack a bag for your friend?” I try not to sound completely upset with him. The notion of packing her panties into a suitcase so she can go on the trip of a lifetime to have sex with an alpha sends a shiver down my spine.
“My friend?” he asks, coming a bit closer to me. His tall frame towers over mine and I find myself gulping down the bile in my throat at being this close to him.
“Yeah, your special friend whose panties I ripped. Don’t worry, though. If I have to pack another pair I’ll be more careful about protecting the lace.” He sighs and pulls his hand down the front of his face with a soft groan. News of my mishap spread around the District like a wildfire. Everyone said I was some sort of power-hungry human who only wanted the alpha’s love and had it out for any other Lycan who stood in my way.
“I’m not taking her," he tells me, seriously. His face is shielded by a mask of amusement. I can tell he’s trying not to laugh at me, the thought of taking that girl must be so outrageous that he can’t possibly stand to think about it. But he usually takes any chance to belittle me that he can.
"Are you taking someone?” I ask, awkwardly.
“Yes,” he tells me, pushing me aside so he can get to his dresser.
“Do I have to get their things ready for the trip? I haven’t done anything in a while and I feel kind of useless around here...” I trail off. I don’t love working for him but I’ll take any chance I can get to do something and not waste away due to inactivity.
“Unless you want someone else packing your things,” he says with a smirk. I gape at him and grimace.
Me in a palace? Absolutely not. I’m already on thin ice with the Lycan’s as it is. I’m not going to push it by meeting their queen and bowing in a manner that is unfavorable to her. That would be treason. I like my head attached to my shoulders. Not rolling about in a basket to be burned for the light at the next feast.
“Are you insane?” he shakes his head quickly.
“I’m allowed one servant to assist me there. I don’t want to be surrounded by someone that I don’t know. They won’t know how I like my things, Anita. You do.” I back away slowly, still baffled.
“I don’t. I’m a horrible worker. What are you going to do to me anyway? Leave me there to tell the king that I’ve committed countless crimes against the monarchy? All because your system is unfair?” Alpha Kaine purses his lips together tightly as he drums up a response.
“I just think it would be nice for me to bring a little piece of home with me to the palace. That’s all. If you don’t want to go, that is your choice. You can let me know later if you need time to think about it,” he says.
I shake my head quickly. “I don’t think I need time. I’ll go,” I tell him.
If he wanted to take me to the palace to be his worker girl I would oblige happily. There was bound to be more information about the layout of the kingdom and the Districts inside of it. I’m not going to be Alpha Kaine’s bitch forever. That’s for sure.
“Excellent. I was hoping you would. My mother would very much like to meet the human who has so much to say about the treatment of her species by the Lycan’s. Wouldn’t you love to tell her all about it?” I don’t think I could have stopped my mouth from falling open.
Of course, I remember all of the times I screamed that he wouldn’t be treating me the way he did if I was a Lycan but I didn’t think my points actually interested him in any way. I always assumed that whatever I had to say always fell on deaf ears. Apparently not.
“Why?” I ask. Alpha Kaine shrugs as he mindlessly plays with the clothes in his drawer. It’s refreshing to be the one asking all of the questions for once.
“She needs a new task as queen,” he says. “She doesn’t have any big projects that she is working on right now and my father is sick of having her hover around him while he discusses military strategy.”
“She has nothing to do with her life but she can’t be bothered to go down the list of couples applying to be mated and match a few of them up?” I blurt. “If she cared about anything other than pairing up her sons then she would address that and make that her project. Sure the mistreatment of humans is a huge problem but your species is dying.”
It was true. Lycan’s were dying left and right because the queen refused to use her gift of the mate bond to save them. When Queen Elara met King Slethius, she did not come to him in the form of a mate or a wolf. She came to the land as a Daughter of the Moon to help Slethius protect the wolves from annihilation at the hands of the Moroi. Legend has it that she fell madly in love with King Slethius and refused to return to the moon. So her father granted her an unbreakable bond and the gift of transferring the same to others.
The unbreakable bond would increase fertility within couples, but over time the queen stopped giving out these gifts and the population dwindled. The Lycan’s had grown to rely on the queen’s gift-the mate bond. Without it, bonds soured and Shifter’s died of disease, suicide, or a broken heart.
I expect him to defend her from my words. I thought he was going to grab me by my hair and drag me out of the room back to that old cell I used to inhabit once upon a time. He simply smiles at me.
“This is why you need to meet her, Anita,” he continues. “She wants to know all about your mother, how you got employed, and what happened to make your family so far down the ranks of the Kaine District.” I was born human, that’s what.
“How does she know so much about me?” Alpha Kaine shrugs.
“I told her,” he tells me as if it were natural. I never really pegged Alpha Kaine as the kind to sit down at night and write little notes for his mommy about how his day went but it wouldn’t surprise me if he used her as an outlet to vent out his frustrations.
“When are we leaving, then?” I ask. I was trying to make conversation but Alpha Kaine eyes me strangely like he’s trying to read every single one of my emotions as they register in my brain.
“Two weeks,” he says. My eyebrows knit together in confusion.
“Why did you tell me about the trip so early? I thought we would be leaving by tomorrow or something by the way you were talking about it...” I trail off awkwardly. I would have to remain on decent terms with him if he was going to kart me off to the castle. If he took me there I might at least be able to steal a few of the queen’s jewels to pawn off once I got back to the village. It would go quite a long way in the slums of the District.
“I wanted to give you enough time to think it over properly. I didn’t think you would say yes so quickly.” I try to think about what it would have been like if I was confused about going or staying. Maybe he would sit in his bed, twiddling his thumbs and staring at the ceiling, thinking of ways he could convince me to be his plus one on this little vacation.
“Thanks for thinking of me,” I say.
“Always,” he tells me, walking away quickly.