Chapter 26: Explicate
“I’m sorry, Anita,” the Queen says slowly. “I didn’t mean to spoil his surprise for you,” she continues. I shake my head and step away from her. I couldn’t be around her anymore.
“I don’t think it was going to be a surprise,” I tell her. It was never Alpha Kaine’s intention to ask me to be his mate. He was going to force me to be with him eternally. And for what? So that he could show everyone that even he, an Alpha, could truly best a mistreated criminal?
“I’m sure he meant to talk to you about all of this, my dear. I don’t think Kaine is the type to just spring this on someone.” I back away to avoid the hand she reaches out to attempt to stroke my cheek. It was exactly like Alpha Kaine to spring something as big as mate-hood on someone. Hell, he even sprung this trip on me like it was nothing.
“Do I get a choice in this?” I ask her, looking away awkwardly. How do I even tell her I don’t want this? Here she is, Queen Elara with her perfect son and perfect life thinking that her son is genuinely in love with me and wants me to be his forever. I”m sure in her mind he’s the perfect husband for any woman, well established, wealthy, handsome, physically fit.
Visions of unhappy nights being forced to put a hoard of children to bed with him fucking some girls brains out in our bedroom flash behind my eyes. She senses my discomfort and swallows nervously to break me from my thoughts.
“Of course you get a choice, I don’t just give the matebond to someone without them loving each other. That would be cruel. You’d be hopelessly devoted to someone you didn’t like to be around.” She laughs nervously as she says it but I see the flash of awkwardness behind her eyes.
She knows. Deep down she knows that Alpha Kaine’s plan was to force me into this bond without my permission or general knowledge of the fact.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you two hadn’t reached a decision,” she said softly. A decision? A decision? Hell, we’d never even talked about it. I came on this trip as his servant, not his betrothed!
“I need to go find Alpha Kaine,” I tell her, pulling up my skirt. “I need to discuss this with him. I will see you later, your majesty,” I say politely. She nods kindly, offering me a warm smile before letting me go on my way.
I knew he would be in his chambers. Isolating himself from anyone - even his family - seemed to be second nature to him. The rage I felt in this moment was something I don’t think I’ve ever felt before. Not even in my thieving days. Not only was he micromanaging my every move but he suddenly wanted to act as if he had a claim on me.
Maybe his mother was pressuring him to find a woman to be his Luna and settle down. Maybe he thought if he picked me he could pawn off his bachelor lifestyle on me and my unwillingness to work with him on a long term relationship. That way when he broke the news that we weren’t a couple he could just take me back to his District and execute me publicly like he should have done ages ago.
I raised my fist and knocked on his door, tapping my foot as I waited anxiously for him to come open the door for me. What do I even say to him? “Hey dick, your mom thinks we’re getting married what the fuck is wrong with you?” doesn’t feel like it’s enough for this situation.
I heard him bump into the nightstand and curse softly to himself. A feminine giggle followed the swear. Of course he had a girl in there with him. What else would anyone expect from the most eligible Alpha of Slethia?
“I can hear you in there,” I tell him, rolling my eyes and crossing my arms. “I’m not going to keep waiting out here for you to decide you’re ready to talk. Stop hiding in there like a two year old,” I tell him through the door, raising my voice.
Someone passed by me in the hallway, turning around to watch me awkwardly while I waited for Alpha Kaine to open the door for me to come in and give him a piece of my mind. “Hey loverboy! Open the door and talk to me instead of acting like a-”
The door opened and Alpha Kaine stood in the open doorway with a confused look on his face. He ran a hand through his hair and gestured for me to come in awkwardly. “I heard you the first time,” he mumbled like a scolded child.
“It didn’t seem like it,” I countered. I took in his half dressed appearance with disgust. “Put a shirt on, no one wants to see that,” I tell him angrily. The girl on the bed giggles again, tracing the pattern on the fabric beneath her absently.
He doesn’t even look in her direction, maintaining his eye contact with me. His breaths seem quicker as he waits for me to address her. I can’t tell if he’s nervous, amused, or embarrassed by her presence.
I turn my head and point to the door. “Get out,” I say to her. “I need to talk with Alpha Kaine.” She makes eye contact with me before her eyes dart to Alpha Kaine for a split second before coming back to me. ”Alone,” I emphasize. She leans back against the headboard and crosses her arms over her chest.
She doesn’t say a word but her body language tells me everything.
“Well,” I say to Alpha Kaine. He sighs and nods to her, jerking his head to the door. She doesn’t even put up a fight, getting up and walking up to him to place a gentle kiss on his cheek before leaving the room with a slight skip in her step.
“Do you have anything to say about that?” I ask him.
“What do you want me to say, Anita? I’m not going to apologize for having a sex life.” I shake my head. “It’s not like we’re in a relationship or anything,” he mumbles.
I can’t tell if he’s saying it more to me or himself but I grind my teeth in frustration. “That’s not what your mother seems to think,” I say, cocking my head slightly. “When were you going to tell me about that?” His eyes widen and he moves behind him to shut the door.
“So you do know about that? How can you justify that now? You’ve been hanging out with every woman within a five mile radius while maintaining the lie that you’re in any sort of relationship with me? What the hell?” The more I thought about it, the more the lie made sense.
Not being able to carry in my own bags, not being allowed to help with anything, sharing a room with him. The Queen might not have been the most traditional person she’s ever met but she doubted someone like that would turn a room into a co-ed situation unless she felt that everyone was comfortable with it. Why would I object to sharing a space with her son if I have relations with him?
“Were you ever going to tell me?” I ask him. “Or were you just going to let me live this lie while we were here? I bet you were going to let me just go around getting to know your mother and blame all your life problems on me. Were you going to force me to go back to the District with you as your partner and tie me up in the dungeons to keep me compliant? Maybe feed me once every blue moon to keep me alive to be your little show pony? All so you could run a District on your own? What the fuck!”
He sits down on the bed, putting his head in his hands. “I have a life too you know. Not everyone is here to bend to your will and be your little puppets. I have a job. I have friends.” Well, had, now that John is probably dead.
"Had,” I say aloud, trying to make him react in some way that isn’t trying to gain my pity for the situation he put himself in. “I had all of those things. You’re the one maintaining that humans are criminals and leaving us on the streets. You don’t care about any of us. You teach the Shifters that we are trash and that they shouldn’t take us seriously. Then you wait for us to turn to a life of crime because it’s all that’s left and you lock us up. You murder us. Violence doesn’t solve anything. Killing my people in the streets is not going to make them want to obey you. It’s just going to make them hate you. And now you just want me to turn around and be your bargaining chip so you can maintain that you are the best Alpha in Slethia?” I stagger a bit, my legs becoming unsteady.
“Did you bring me here and dress me up to help you get ahead in the competition for the crown?” I sit on the bed next to him without thinking about it. “You left my friend to die and you want to use me to help you win the crown...” I mumble.
“No,” he says. “No, I didn’t.”
“So you can prove John isn’t dead?” I stand, putting my face right in front of his so he can’t miss the unmistakable look of fury on my face.
“Typical Alpha Kaine, just trying to cover his own fucking ass! Is everything all about politics to you? Do you think if the people love you that you’ll feel better about yourself? Will that help you sleep at night Alpha Kaine?” He huffs and scratches an itch behind his ear. He then rubs at the corner of his eye with his index finger. “What? Nothing to say?” I ask.
“Then talk! Defend yourself! Don’t just sit there like an idiot while I’m calling you out. If you want to be taken seriously you need to start fighting your own battles instead of having your employees do it for you...” He chews on the inside of his cheek and clasps his hands together. “What are you waiting for?” I ask him.
“I’m waiting for you to stop yelling at me so we can have a discussion,” he says, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head.
“And I’m waiting for you to dispute my claims,” I fire back.
“No, you just want to fight with me. If you want to fight with me then fine. But I’m not going to fight with you because you’re right. It doesn’t fix anything and it doesn’t change anything. You want answers and you have every right to have questions for me but you have to give me some time to respond. You can be kind of aggressive, Anita,” he tells me, chuckling to himself.
"Protective then. You know where you stand on things and you aren’t afraid to tell people just exactly where that is. You’re a great leader for your people and you were a great friend to John.” I look down at my feet. Compliments are new from him. I don’t quite know how to respond to them.
“Why did you bring me here?” I ask him. “Why did you lie to the Queen?” He looks away again, patting the bed beside him.
“Sit,” he tells me firmly.
“I’m not going to sit down until you give me some answers,” I say, stepping back and crossing my arms. “You can’t talk your way out of this.”
“I’ll tell you everything you want to know. Just sit down,” he says, patting the bed next to him once more.
I huff and dramatically sit down, crossing my arms and facing him. “Start talking,” I tell him.
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