The Queen in Shadows

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Chapter 16

I cry all the way home. Repeating to myself over and over again “it’s better this way.” He’s getting married. He will hate me if he finds out what I am. I need to end this now. I’ll hold the sweet memories of him in my heart forever, untainted by the hate he would have for me if he ever knew the truth. My lungs burn in my chest and my heart pounds wildly, each beat bringing a sharp, painful ache.

It’s better this way.

It’s better this way.

It’s better this way.

I burst through the door to find my aunt and uncle with Alex, crying at the kitchen table.

“Oh, Elle! You heard!” My aunt jumps up and hugs me.

“Um, heard what?”

“Orin was killed this morning” she cries.

“What? Why?”

“An advisor to the King came to the stone mill today, gathering works to build the Queens funeral pyre. There was some kind of disagreement and the vamp hit him. He hit his collar directly, the silver capsule shattered.” Alex says, sadly.

“Oh, Alex! I’m so sorry.” I pull him into a hug.

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I wake up on Friday morning and do what I’ve done every day since Sunday. I pull my covers over my head and cry quietly for a few minutes. This is the only time I allow myself to cry all day. Phoenix never leaves my mind all day but I force the tears down. His gala is tonight. He will find his most beloved and be happy. My wolf is distraught. She doesn’t understand the complexities of the situation. She just knows that she trusts him, that she loves him.

I know it seems impossible and I try to convince myself over and over again that it’s insane but I can’t shake it. He is the vampire Prince. He is not for me, he has a destined partner, someone who will be his most beloved. The thought is a dagger through my soul, it’s an all consuming, crushing crack in my heart that grows by the minute. I don’t understand these feelings, I’m afraid to talk to my aunt or uncle about them. I want to be his and I want him to be mine.

I cry into my pillow, trying to silence the sobs that rip through my aching chest. The grief I feel over the loss of him, someone that was never mine to begin with, is so heavy I can’t breathe.

My pity party is disturbed by a knock at the door.

“Elle? Can I come in?” It’s Alex. He’s been staying here since his dad’s death. We’ve been grieving, so we haven’t really talked. I feel guilty for not grieving Orin. Sure, I’m sad, I feel bad for Alex, but my heartbreak has nothing to do with him.

“Um, yeah, come on in,” I try fruitlessly to wipe the tears from my swollen eyes.

He comes in, closing the door behind him, then just stands there awkwardly.

“Did you...need something, or..?”

“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk about something with you. It just got pushed aside for a while. My dad told me about the Prince. Is he the reason you’re so sad, Elle?”

“Yes,” I look down at my blanket covered legs, ashamed.

“I know someone, I have a...friend, let’s say, that knows the Prince.”

“You do?” My face twists in confusion. Who could he possibly know that knows Phoenix?

“Yes. What happened between the two of you? You’re moping around here and I know it’s not because of my dad.”

“Alex, I-I think I love him” the dam breaks again as I heave out a broken sob. The words just slipped out, I couldn’t stop them.

“Then why are you sitting around here? Go see him.”

I stare at him for a moment, not sure what to say. I wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction if anyone found out about how I’m feeling about Phoenix.

“It’s not that simple. He’s getting married. He’s picking his bride, tonight! There are two hundred beautiful vampires primping themselves right now! And you know, the whole wolf thing. He will hate me when he finds out I’m a wolf. It puts everyone in danger.”

“Look, I’m not going to get into this right now but I think that, maybe, there is a different way to handle things, different than how my dad did it. I don’t think you should shut him out.”

“What about his wife?”

“Just go talk to him, Elle. He doesn’t have a wife yet.”

“I’m not sure if I can, Alex. I don’t want to jeopardize everyone else’s safety because I can’t seem to control the way I feel about him.”

“Listen, go see him. Talk. Don’t tell him that you’re a wolf, ok? I need more time to figure some things out.”

“Wait, you want me to go talk to him but keep lying to him?”

“Unfortunately, yes, for a little while, I need to figure a few things out. Just go talk to him about your feelings.”

“An equally terrifying conversation.”

“I know, but I think it will be worth it.”

We’re both quiet for a moment before I blurt out, like an idiot, “Do you feel stronger since your dad died?”

He furrows his brows at me.

“Shit. Wait, that came out wrong. I mean, your Alpha aura is insanely strong lately. I always knew you were an Alpha, and it makes sense that it would get stronger, now that you would be the pack leader but, I can’t explain it. It’s so strong, so much stronger than anyone else.”

“Really?” His chest puffs out a little bit.

“Yeah, my wolf is freaking out.”

“I don’t really feel different. A little bit maybe but not much.”

“No one else has said anything?”

“You’re the only uncollared wolf I’ve seen since my dad died. Maybe collared wolves can’t feel it. Or...maybe you’re crazy,” he laughs.

“That’s a definite possibility.”

When he leaves I lay in my bed, thinking over and over the conversation we just had. It can’t be as easy as just going to talk to him. I am a wolf, a wolf that beat the system and lives as a human. He is vampire royalty. I don’t see how talking to him could help.

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