After a while, characterized by an icy and uncomfortable silence, Daina couldn’t stand, to be left alone with her thoughts anymore.
After almost half an hour, during which she sat in a tense and uncomfortable atmosphere with Darius in the car, she broke the silence.
“What will happen now?”
Darius looked at her annoyed from the corner of his eye. It was obvious, that he didn’t enjoy being around her.
With a shrug, he replied, “I don’t know. I just know that James and Maggie deserve some time off, after all they had to endure because of you.”
Now, he grinned diabolically and added: “By the way, I’m supposed to tell you, that you don’t need to expect James’ presence in the upcoming week. He mentioned something about distance and a long overdue date.”
Darius chose these words on purpose, to hurt Daina. He just couldn’t help it.
Daina felt visibly offended, which lifted Darius’ mood a little.
Her thoughts circled through her head. James’ behaviour, who in normal circumstances always prioritized his duty as ruler, was extremely unusual. How could James just unwind and go into hiding for a week, after such a terrible event?
A person had died, of which, admittedly, she might not have been entirely innocent.
So much had to be organized. So many questions had to be answered. The engagement ball was just around the corner and the clans got into an uproar over the information about the contract between James and Maggie, which slowly but surely could no longer be kept under wrap.
How could he leave her alone in this situation?
One thing was definitely clear. She could not tell anyone the truth about what had happened in Ignis today, otherwise she would be immediately ripped of her position. To stand so openly against the ruler and as his advisor at that, was high treason. She didn’t doubt for a second, that James was serious about his threat, to let her and her entire clan go down, when she didn’t go along with his plan.
Darius ripped her out of her thoughts by continuing to speak.
“While the two lovebirds take a break, we just make sure that everything continues to run smoothly. This is actually your job, Daina. That I even have to remind you of that...”
He made a disapproving sound by clicking his tongue and shook his head in disapproval.
“You will need my help. Difficult times are ahead of us.”
He didn’t care what Daina replied. He didn’t listen to her as he reviewed the past few weeks and months in his head.
It all started with Niklas’ perfidious plan, to introduce Maggie to the Aristocracy’s fine society, at the debutant’s ball.
Weeks of training and endless preparation ended in a complete disaster on the day of the debutant’s ball. Fortunately, James had come to Maggie’s rescue, probably more out of politically motivated, calculated reasons, than out of love.
Then, the most unlikely of events occurred. Niklas’ absurd claim, Maggie being a Fleur de Lys, turned out to be true. So she was now standing in line to the throne before James and challenged him in his position as ruler. To remedy this situation, James and Maggie signed a contract.
Darius remembered the highly explosive content of this contract, when Maggie gave it to him to read, as if it were yesterday.
This treaty would have a huge impact on the balance of power within the Aristocracy, but it also had a huge impact on Darius directly.
He was now head of the most powerful clan of the “House of Warriors” and with this position, certain obligations were expected. A powerful head of Clan had to ensure powerful successors. Thus, as a half-breed, Amie could not remain by his side as his official partner, but he also did not want to make her his mistress. She didn’t deserve that. He’d rather be officially alone, than break her heart.
At the thought of Amie, an honest smile appeared on his face and his eyes shown warm. He was madly in love with Amie. For him, there was only her, period.
He let his mind wander from Amie to the events, which were following the contract:
The burglary into Maggie’s and Amie’s apartment, which he now also knew, had the sole reason to steal Maggie’s blood-serum vial.
Maggie’s heartbreak over James’, alleged cheating with Daina and the sad finale:
The failed transformation of Soraya and her resulting death.
Adrian, the psychopath, actually managed to escape. God knows where he hid and waited to cause the next disaster...
Now, that Darius pondered over all of these events, they all had one thing in common. Pretty much everything bad, that had happened, had been engineered by Daina. Niklas had a hand in a few things, Daina couldn’t be blamed for, as well.
Darius could at least partially understand Daina’s motivation. One-sided, unrequited love for someone, who is around all day, could do strange things to you.
It was a mystery to him, what Niklas wanted with his constant attempts at conspiracies.
After Darius had reviewed all the events and their possible effects in his head, he turned to Daina once more.
“When I think about it, it can’t be wrong for someone to keep an eye on you.”
Daina looked at him indignantly.
Darius just shrugged his shoulders in boredom, while concentrating on driving and countered:
“We live in very interesting times. There is still a lot to come in the near future ... I trust James and his judgment. I just hope he’s not mistaken about you.”
His thoughts wandered to the things and events, that were still to come: James and Maggie’s engagement ball and their wedding, the inevitable changes in the power-balance between the royal houses and the intrigues, that went with it. Who knows which power-hungry cockroaches crawled out of their dark cracks, next.
He really couldn’t complain about his life being boring.
This time Daina no longer silently put up with Darius’ insults and his subsequent disregard for her. Her bitchiness turned into a counterattack.
In a voice dripping with poison, she remarked:
“Mr. high and mighty seems to have forgotten a little something: you too have a weak spot, my dear. Amie, your little, innocent and completely uninvolved half-blood. And if you know what’s good for your sister, then you should leave her out of this. What actually happened in Ignis today and why, should better stay with the people, who were there and that’s not just my opinion.”
These words made Darius swallow a few very malicious words and made him realize his dilemma. He wanted Amie to be involved in every aspect of his life and not to keep a secret from her. But this secret seemed bigger and more important, than his love for Amie.
After Daina had splashed her poison again, the two drove on, in icy silence and they tried to ignore each other, again.
They sat side by side in the car, actually hostile, but still connected by a common, cruel secret.
At the same time, two old friends were talking on the phone: Alexandre Rophos and Elisabeth Arone.
Alexandre Rophos had wasted no time, calling his former lover and ally, after throwing his informant’s letter from Castle ‘Green Willow’ to the blazing flames.
Elisabeth didn’t seem particularly surprised by Rophos’ call. It had its advantages to be able to look into the future.
“Alexandre, good to hear from you. It’s been so long since our last conversation. What can I do for you?”
Alexandre laughed heartily, but with a slightly ironic undertone into the phone.
“Elisabeth, my love. It’s been too long, indeed. My obligations keep me busy, I can hardly breathe.”
Elisabeth replied ironically, while scribbling a little hangman with a ballpoint pen, on the notepad in front of her.
“Of course, your obligations Alexandre. We both know how important these are to you.”
Now, Alexandre laughed heartily and held his stomach. Elisabeth knew him too well, for him to be able to fool her.
After a short time Rophos grew quiet and conspicuously serious.
“Regarding the obligations. These will be significantly less for me to worry about, in the near future.”
Elisabeth frowned. “How come?”
Alexandre snorted contemptuously.
“Sit down first. What I have to say to you now is extremely ugly.”
Elisabeth grinned at his theatrical manner.
“An informant from Castle ‘Green Willow’ sent me confidential information about a contract, which had already been signed between James Stuart and this Margarete Fleur de Lys. It’s serious.”
He took a deep breath to build up the drama a little more.
“The little Fleur de Lys renounces her claim to the throne, but in return Clan Romanova rises to become the most powerful clan of the ‘House of Warriors’. Ridiculous! Just ridiculous!”
He literally spat the last words into the phone, then continued indignantly.
“I’m losing my position at the top of the ‘House of Warriors’, because of a stupid brat! James could have just killed this woman, but apparently she has some qualities, that he wouldn’t want to miss. Slut! And then I have to give up my power to this young boy, Darius Romanova. He can’t do anything but to screw around, either!!!”
Elisabeth rolled her eyes at Alexandre’s verbal outburst.
“Get to the point, dear!” She replied gruffly.
Another scornful snort came from Alexandre’s throat, before he spoke again.
“My point, dear Elisabeth, is that when we last met at the castle, James Stuart lied to my face without batting an eyelid. I didn’t think he was that fucked up…”
Elisabeth rolled her eyes at his choice of words. Alexander was good with guns of any kind, but eloquence was not one of his strengths.
“Anyway, I’m not calling you to complain, I’m calling you to warn you, my dear. Obviously, at the moment, James Stuart doesn’t exactly know whom he owes loyalty to. You could very well be the next one, he throws under the bus for his slut’s clan. Note, that Clan Romanova now has a direct family relationship with the ‘House of Regents’. Even Clan Arone can’t keep up with that, no matter how often James fucks Daina...”
By now, Elisabeth rubbed her right temple.
Listening to Alexandre talk, was sometimes like going to the dentist, uncomfortable and painful, but necessary. He was too powerful to be ignored.
After regaining his composure, he continued.
“For the sake of the good old days, we should sit down and talk about how we can help each other. It has always been extremely productive and intensive to work with you.”
Now a little grin crept onto Elisabeth Arone’s face. There was something else, the two of them were good at together, besides plotting.
However, Elisabeth’s physical desire for Alexandre subsided. He just wasn’t as well built as he used to be, when he was 500 or 600 years old. His now more than 800 years of age made him unattractive to her.
Like hell would she tell him this. She still needed him...
So she replied in a euphoric, high-pitched voice: “With pleasure, Alexandre. When will your busy schedule allow you, to visit me?”
She could literally hear his triumphant smile through the receiver.
They made an appointment for the upcoming week and ended their phone call.
They would discuss the rest in person.
After Alexandre Rophos had finished the call, he sat brooding at his desk.
He would show James Stuart what the most powerful general, in the Aristocracy’s history, was capable of. This incompetent young Regent would not see what was coming, until it was too late.
His little ‘Lisa’ was a tool to help him, with the downfall of the young Stuart. Then, he would get rid of her, as well.
Ironically, she would be last, to stand in the way of his intended military regency.
It would be very difficult to withhold this plan from her. But his old buddy and ladykiller Angus Marqouise came to his aid for that matter.
The nick name Ladykiller could be taken literally for Angus’ masterful ability to manipulate.