The Queen in Shadows

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Chapter 14

I sit down at the table and nervously pick at my nails.

“I’m just going to start from the very beginning” I take a deep, nervous breath.

Then, I just spill the whole story, sharing every detail, except for a few things, like the way that he makes me feel. They would never trust me again if they knew about that. I’m sure they would think I’m insane.

My uncle has been pacing through almost the entire story.

“Wait,” he stops suddenly “so... the boy that was nice to you... the vampire that gave you pastries...was the Prince? Prince Phoenix ? The vampire prince? Heir to the throne?”

“Yes.”

My aunt brings a cold wet rag from the sink, “put this on your cheek, it’s bruising horribly.”

“You have to go and spend time with him tomorrow,” Orin declares, his tone laced with authority. He definitely isn’t asking me.

“What? No! Absolutely not!” My uncle says frantically, “she can’t go spend time with him! What if he finds out? It’s way too dangerous!”

“Well, what if he comes looking for her, here, because she didn’t show up. That’s dangerous too. With everything that’s going on with the Queen he is probably just looking for a friend right now.”

“Oh, yeah, sure,” my Uncle cuts in “he’s looking for a special friend and my niece is not going to be that for him!”

“She has to go,” Orin says, his voice getting angry, “if she doesn’t he will come poking around looking for her. We can’t have the vampire Prince and his guards snooping around.”

“Are you comfortable doing this, Noelle?” my aunt asks.

I don’t want to seem overeager, so I hold back my answer and think for a minute.

“Yes, I can do this if you guys think it will be helpful.”

“See, that settles it!” Orin says.

“You’re going to have to be really careful and can report back to us when you get home.”

“I understand, I’ll be careful and I’ll tell you about what happens.”

They send me to my room so they can discuss this new development. Orin seems to think that it might be exactly what we need. An inside man kind of deal. That doesn’t feel great to me, it feels like I am betraying Phoenix. I am aware of how crazy that sounds. I hardly know him. It doesn’t feel that way though. It feels like he is the only person that knows me, the only person that sees me. My wolf trusts him over Orin, over my uncle, even. The thought of spending the day with him makes me more excited than I’ve ever felt about anything.

I hardly sleep all night. I am nervous and excited to spend the day with him. I get up early and take an extra long shower and spend a little bit more time than usual on my hair. He called me beautiful yesterday. I blush just thinking about it.

My aunt came in last night for a little “chat.” I almost choked when she started having “the talk” with me. We definitely already did this, years ago, but she wanted to remind me that vampires and werewolves could have kids together. I guess that was her way of telling me not to get too cozy with the Price. Subtle as a brick to the face.

I see him, sitting in the trolley, waiting for me as I approach the entrance.

“Good morning,” I say to him and the guards. Before they can answer he grabs me and pulls me onto his lap, speeding up the hill.

“Phoenix!” I laugh as I scold him.

“I’m trying to get back to bed before I wake up too much. We’re going back to sleep.”

My mouth is dry. Last night’s conversation with my aunt runs through my head.

“Relax, Ellie. I can hear you thinking from here. We have a few hours before I can take you to do the thing... I haven’t been sleeping well at night and I have a feeling I’ll sleep well if we take a little nap.”

He insists on carrying me up the long flight of stairs again. When we get inside I squeal as he runs up to his bedroom after throwing me over his shoulder. He lays me down gently and gets in bed beside me. We’re both on our sides, facing each other. We aren’t talking but we don’t need to, the silence feels pleasant. His bed is the most comfortable cloud I’ve ever laid on. I fall asleep quickly, staring at his relaxed face.

Consciousness comes back to me slowly. I’m in a hazy state, in between, waking up but still floating. I’m so warm. I can feel sweat on my neck, my whole body feels sticky. When I try to move, I can’t. Slowly opening my eyes I’m able to turn my head enough to see the golden top of Phoenix′ head. He has his arms wrapped around my body, his head on my chest, above my heart. His leg is hooked up, over my legs. I can only move my right arm. The rest of my body is pinned down. I run my free hand through his silky hair and he groans in his sleep. A few blissful moments pass like this.

“Ellie,” his voice is gravelly and disoriented, “I’m squishing you.”

“Just a little bit,” I chuckle as he slowly pulls himself up, untangling his arms from around me. There is a mark from the seam of my shirt across his cheek. He looks less like a prince and more like a boy with his wild hair and tired eyes. He sits up, quiet for a second before turning to me, grinning.

“I knew it.”

“Knew what?”

“That I would finally be able to sleep with you here.”

“I actually slept really well, too,” my face feels hot.

He reaches out and gently touches my bruised cheek. His expression darkens and he purses his lips.

“Does this still hurt?”

“No, not really.”

“No one will ever touch you like that again, Noelle. Not as long as I’m alive.” There is a finality in his voice that makes me believe him.

“Come on, lets go” he rolls out of the bed and I reluctantly follow. He looks nervous as we walk to the trolley parked in the courtyard. He keeps turning to speak but always stops himself. The silence between us is tense because I can feel his hesitation.

“Phoenix? ”

“Yeah?”

“What’s wrong?”

He’s quiet, his hair falling forward, covering his face from me. I scoot closer on the trolley seat slipping my hand into his.

“What we’re about to do is special to me. I really want you to do this but I don’t know how it will go. It might not be...fun. It might be emotional. I... I just want you to be prepared for that.”

My mind is racing. Special but emotional.

“I trust you.”

He finally looks at me. He still looks nervous but he’s smiling now.

He drives to a part of the castle grounds I haven’t seen yet. When we stop the trolley we are in another small courtyard surrounded by high walls. He takes my hand and we walk to the single, large door, guarded on both sides by particularly angry looking vampires. As we approach they bow.

“Has lunch been delivered?”

“Yes, your Highness,” their voices are robotic.

The door is held open for us as we step into a dimly lit hallway. Squeezing my hand he leads me to a door at the end. He opens it and ushers me in first. The room is light and warm. The windows on one side are open, letting in the sunlight and a cool breeze. The terrace is set up with food to feed ten people. The view is gorgeous, we’re on the opposite side of the castle looking out over a lake. I step further inside and freeze when I see her.

“Noelle, this is my mother.”


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