The Queen in Shadows

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Chapter 26

I’m almost to the top of the steps when I hear a loud crashing sound from inside house. I look at Sloane who looks equally confused and panicked. We run the last few steps and quickly jerk the door open. She stands protectively in front of me as we try to see what’s happening inside.

Mercer is sitting in a chair with his head in his hands and Phoenix is pacing, running his hands through his hair. A few feet from where Phoenix is pacing there’s a glass top table that’s been overturned and shattered.

He stops and rushes toward me, crushing my body against his.

“What’s going on? I heard Arius was here.”

Phoenix lets out an angry laugh. He picks me up and carries me away from the glass, setting me on a chair near Mercer.

“My father and Arius are trying to change the laws,” he laughs again, it’s like he’s in shock. “It’s so fucking insane that it’s comical! Their plan is to rewrite the rules so that my father can continue to be King without my mother!”

Sloane and I gasp into the silence.

“He can’t actually do that can he?” Sloane beats me in asking.

“It seems like he is going to do whatever he wants. Legally, they don’t really have a leg to stand on, of course no one will vote for this but I’m not even sure they plan on using the counsel. They are just...refusing to step down.”

“We need bodies, numbers,” Mercer looks up from his hands, “we need to remove the collars and cross our fingers that the wolves will be on our side.”

“We know some of them will be,” Phoenix says, exhaustion clear in his voice.

“We need all of them,” Mercer stands up, “we need every wolf, every Alpha needs to be on board. We need vampires too but we can’t possibly know who is on our side until we’ve started, until it’s too late to back down.”

“The Alphas?” I whisper, mostly to myself. They all turn, like they forgot I was there.

We all stare at each other, trying to figure out who knows what.

“How many Alphas do you have?”

“Definitely, only four,” Mercer says, rubbing his face.

“Four!?” I shout, throwing my hands into the air, “there are fourteen! You only have four? What the hell!”

“How do you know that there are fourteen?” Mercer asks with a raised brow. I see Sloane and Phoenix looking at me curiously.

“Umm... well... I know.. a few things,” I stutter. “I need to go back to my uncle’s house. I need to speak to a few people.” I try to sound authoritative.

Phoenix rubs his hands over his face. I’m not asking permission, I need to talk to Alex.

“I’ll go with Sloane and Miles. We’ll leave now and be back in no time.” I stand from my seat and give a stunned Phoenix a quick peck before walking toward the door. “Let’s go, Sloane.”

“Yes ma’am!” She laughs and follows behind me.

As we jog down the steps I see her pulling her lips into her mouth, trying to keep from laughing.

“I don’t think anyone has ever talked to him like that.”

“Well, that’s because he didn’t know me before.”

She snorts “I’m so glad you’re here.”

We pull up in front of my aunt and uncle’s house.

“We will be right here,” Miles says as I slide from the trolley. I give a quick nod before rushing inside.

“Elle?” My uncle jumps up as I enter.

“Look, I don’t have much time and I have questions.”

“Ok...” he says, taking his seat again.

“Ok, first things first, what is marking and why does my wolf want to do it?”

My uncle coughs, surprised and my aunt and Alex laugh.

“Marking is a wolves way of claiming their mate. It’s a permanent bite mark on the neck. It serves both as a visual marking that a wolf is taken and as a way to cement the bond.”

“That would have been nice to know...”

Alex snorts, “you told her about mates and left that part out?”

“We were taken by surprise!” My uncle quips.

“Um, Alex, will you come upstairs with me. I need to talk to you privately for a moment.”

The room is suddenly tense. All hints of amusement disappeared from my uncle’s face.

“Why private? What can’t you say in front of us?”

“Look, this involves other people. I’m not sure how much to say or to who. You know I trust you but I need to talk to him.”

“You’re keeping secrets from us, now? What do you mean “how much to say?” All of it, to us, you should be relaying everything! You’re on our side in this!”

Alexs tands quickly, “this isn’t about sides, you should trust her. She is not a spy that we sent in to infiltrate the Prince’s life. She loves him. She is in an impossible situation and she’s trying to keep everyone safe. Don’t try to force her to tell you things that could be dangerous. You, of all people, should be understanding about the need for privileged information. Let’s go upstairs. ”

Without another word he walks out of the room. An uncomfortable silence hangs over us as we stare at each other.

“When I can share things, I will, I promise,” I turn and run upstairs.

“Thanks, Alpha,” I nudge his shoulder lightly and he laughs.

“You’re in a tough spot, Noelle. I know it must be hard for you to lie to your mate. Soon, I promise you can tell him soon.”

“Lying to him is killing me.”

He sighs “I know. Look, we’re afraid that if he knows about you being a wolf he’ll be too afraid to let you be a part of this. We need you, if he hides you away it’s a huge loss for us. You’re an uncollared wolf living on castle grounds. I know I just said you’re not a spy but you are our inside man, so to speak. There is also concern that if he knows about you he will make stupid emotional decisions. Right now, he’s part of this because he’s a good man. He wants to do what’s right. If he has a very personal, beloved, reason to be in this fight, he might not make rational decisions.”

“That makes sense...” I hang my head, I was hoping he didn’t have any legitimate reason to keep lying.

“What did you need to talk about?”

“Umm... I need you to call a meeting with the others, with the Alphas.”

“That’s...a tough ask, Elle,” he shakes his head, “they will be skittish. All of them gathered together in one place, if something were to happen, that’s it, that’s everything we’ve done, wiped out.

“I know but, we need it,” I sigh, unsure about how much of this I should be sharing, “something is happening. The King might not bow out. Getting him off the throne might take physical force.”

“War?” He asks wearily

“Maybe...” I whisper.

“Fuck,” he rubs his hands over his face, roughly. “I guess I always expected it to come to this. I’ll gather them together and make it happen.”

“Thank you.”

When we re enter the kitchen my uncle still looks angry but slightly less so.

“I have to go,” I tell them, “I’ll see you all soon. Things feel like they’re moving quickly. I’ll try to update you about whatever I can, whenever I can.”

My aunt jumps up to hug me before I go.

“Be careful,” my uncle says gruffly from his seat.

“You too.”

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