The Queen in Shadows

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Chapter 29

We lay awake, holding each other tightly. It’s early, still dark, on the day of our wedding. We didn’t get much sleep last night, too wrapped up in each other to even think of sleeping.

A sharp knock from downstairs startles us both.

“Stay here!” He jumps from the bed and begins running from the room.

“It’s Mercer,” Dannon calls from downstairs.

The tension eases some, at least it’s not Arius.

After changing, we go down together, meeting Mercer in the sitting room.

“I’m sorry to come here so early and on your wedding day but it can’t wait. I need your help.”

We nod intently, whatever he needs, we will do.

“I need a distraction. I’m going to remove the first collar today but... I have to do it here, in my lab. We’ve been searching for a sterile, safe place to do it and we can’t find one. Your wedding will be a big distraction but I need more. I need to be able to sneak him in unnoticed. If we can clear all of the guards from the pedestrian entrance on Hyde street, I can get to my lab without passing any other security checkpoints. It would be the gate with the least number of moving parts to try to control.”

“Call Sloane and Miles,” Phoenix points to Dannon.

I bring a pot of coffee and a bottle of warm blood to the sitting room. Phoenix notices and quirks his brow at me. He still hasn’t had any blood in front of me. When I asked him about it he told me he’s been drinking, quickly, while I shower. The fact that he hides it is touching. I appreciate that he wants me to be comfortable. I think it’s time I get over it. I’m marrying him today, no part of him should be hidden for my comfort. He is what he is. Oh, the irony...

I take one of the mugs and pour some blood into it, holding it out for him.

He takes it with a small chuckle “I’ve never had blood from a mug before.”

Mercer is laughing too.

“Is that frowned upon for some reason? I just...I thought maybe you would want coffee instead and I only have two hands, so I thought I would just bring mugs, they’re more multifunctional. I can go get glasses if....” he pulls me into his lap.

“It’s fine, love. There is no rule against. We’ve just never done it before.”

“The handle is nice though!” Mercer chuckles, “maybe I’ll always drink from a mug now.”

“Don’t tease me,” I blush.

The door clicks open and a disheveled Sloane walks in. Miles is right behind her, looking equally exhausted.

“Sorry about the hour,” Mercer waves them over and explains the situation.

After a moment Miles stands, “each gate and security checkpoint are broken into sections. The Hyde street pedestrian entrance is in zone.... three?” He turns to Sloane.

She nods a confirmation.

“If you think of the grounds like a pyramid, with the castle being the tip, there are seven vertical lines, running from the top to the base, breaking the pyramid into slices. Each slice is a zone. In the event of an emergency in a specific zone, all the guards within that zone are supposed to lock down their posts and respond.” Miles explains.

“So, we need an emergency in zone three?”

“Yes. Something big enough that all the guards will be called to respond.”

“What is considered big enough to warrant a response from all the guards in a zone?” I ask, I have an idea but I’m afraid they’ll think it’s too much.

“There are several things that would need a whole zone response.” Sloane answers.

“Like... a fire?”

A huge smile spreads across her face, “you want to start a fire, Your Majesty?”

“It would definitely get their attention.”

“Where?” Phoenix asks “what else is in zone three that we could set on fire?”

Sloane and Miles laugh. They clearly know something we don’t.

“If the part of the castle that is in zone three caught fire, they would definitely be distracted.” Miles chuckles “It’s the security main office.”

“That sounds perfect,” Mercer laughs. “Let’s set the plan. I think we’re going to need Celine for this one.”

“Setting a fire, she’ll be thrilled!” Sloane laughs.

We sit for another hour working out every detail. This has to go off without a hitch.

------

I’m pacing around our room.

I can’t do this anymore... I can’t. I physically can’t walk out the door to meet Celine.

I know Sloane called Phoenix. They think I'm having pre-wedding jitters, that I'm nervous.

When he bursts into the room, his chest heaving, I know he ran all the way here.

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t do this, Phoenix...” my voice cracks and tears flow down my face.

“Can’t do what? M-marry me?” his face is panic-stricken.

“You really love me?”

“Of course, I really love you.”

“I have to tell you something. I was told to wait but... I can’t wait anymore. I’m afraid you won’t love me when I tell you. Not just because of what it is I have to say but also because I kept it from you.”

He lightly pushes my back by my shoulders so he can see my face.

“You can tell me anything. I will love you no matter what, Ellie.”

I look down at my shaking hands.

“I’m a wolf,” my voice is a quiet, trembling whisper.

I peer up at him through my lashes. He has a small, crooked smile on his face.

“You thought that would make me not love you?”

“I mean... yes? Plus, I’ve been lying to you all this time. I've been keeping secrets from you, lying to you about what I am. I... I couldn't marry you without telling you first.”

“I wouldn’t call it lying. Maybe...withholding the truth until you knew it was safe?”

“I...t-this can’t possibly be your reaction to this. How are you so calm? How are you making excuses for my dishonesty?”

“Ellie, I love you. I’m not mad, not at all. So, you’re a wolf, that changes nothing.”

"Phoenix, it changes everything... you're my mate. You are the other half of my soul. I don't just love you, I need you to survive. I have wanted to tell you for so long... I wanted to explain the deepness of my devotion, of my love, I more than love you, you're everything." I rush out in one breath.

He smiles down at me, "I'm very glad to hear that, when things settle down, remind me to show you something, " he pulls me into his chest.

He knows... he knows and he still wants me.

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