“Tell me again, word for word, exactly what he said,” Sloane demands. So, I do, for the third time.
Mercer is sitting in his signature stressed out position, his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. Occasionally, he lets out a sigh.
“Mercer,” Phoenix gets his attention, “we need to move faster. We need to spend this week removing collars in town. Then the following week, when our guard is in place, we’ll clear the prison, if we even have that long...”
“Can’t we start the prison after?” I ask.
“No,” Mercer answers, dejected, “when we move to take down the King, Miles is going to release the prisoners. And Sloane is going to open the Hyde street pedestrian entrance for everyone else to enter.”
“Kill the guards if necessary.” Sloane shrugs.
“We need the prison, that’s over two hundred wolves already inside the castle grounds.”
I nod, understanding how that might be useful.
“There is something that we haven’t considered,” Sloane sighs, “Alex needed a few days to get his wolf under control. It took nearly forty-eight hours to be able to shift on demand, and his wolf is incredibly powerful. I can’t imagine that it will be such a short process for everyone else.”
“Shit, We need more time.” Mercer resumes his stressed position.
"Something else we haven't considered," Phoenix sighs, "We’ll need Alex to be present when removing collars, they will feel his authority and listen to what he's telling them, they will likely turn on us otherwise,” he rubs his hand over his eyes.
"That's not a problem when we remove them outside of the grounds but what are we going to do, sneak him in every night when we start at the prison?" Sloane points out and Mercers shoulders slump further.
“You could be there, Sloane,” Phoenix says after a moment, “she’s marked. You felt her authority as your Luna Queen as soon as she came into the room, right?”
“That’s true! I did!” I jump up, “I can feel it now, if she commands them to do something their wolves won’t be able to fight it. Even if Alex isn’t there his mark carries his authority.”
"We won't have to sneak you in," Phoenix looks at her.
I see her hesitation, I know she wants to help but she doesn't want to be away from Alex ebery night. These mate bonds are intense. She reluctantly nods her head.
“Ok, that’s settled then. I’ll start removing collars in the city tonight,” Mercer doesn’t look confident.
"How are we starting this? Alex commanded the Alphas not to tell anyone about removing the collars, are we planning to just bring wolves into the wolves with no information?"
"Yes," Sloane answers simply, "We can't risk word getting out or people getting over eager. Alex is having the Alphas pick whoever they think will be strongest, then at times when they aren't working, we will bring wolves out to have their collars removed."
"How can we be sure that they won't shift by mistake, they aren't being given much time to practice controlling it?" I ask nervously.
"There is nothing we can do about that..."
I stand and start to pace. I don't know how we're going to pull this off. No wonder it has taken this long for any kind of change to occur. There are a million little details that need to fall into place perfectly.
I feel Phoenix' hand on my neck, his fingers gently pressing into my skin. When I turn to look at him he's looking down at me already.
"It's going to be alright, Ellie, things might not be moving at the pace we wanted but we will have to adapt."
I press my forehead into his chest, breathing in his scent. He pulls me gently, leading me to the terrace overlooking the forest.
"I know it feels impossible, but we're together. We have out friends with us, the Alpha King is back. We can make this happen."
His voice sounds confident but I know he's feeling the weight of everything, too. I can feel the tension in his body.
"I know," I whisper, "it's just hard to wait around, knowing that Arius is lurking around."
He nods his head and pulls me to stand in front of him, pressing my back to his chest and laying his head on my shoulder. I can feel him breathing against my neck, using my scent to calm him the same way I use his.
"I wish you could mark me again," I can feel him smiling against my skin.
"I liked feeling my heart beat, even once, it was... strange..."
"I liked it too. Is that normal? Does that happen whenever a vampire marks their beloved?"
"I've never heard of it. It might just have happened because you have a beating heart."
We stand together for a few hours, mostly quietly enjoying the silence, the calm. Who knows how much longer there will be moments of calm like this.
Slowly that others have left, gone to tie up any ends they need to spend the next several days removing collars.
"I'm so nervous but I can't help but be incredibly excited," I tell him as we lay down in our bed, "thinking about all the wolves that are going to be freed starting tomorrow. It makes me feel... I can't even describe it."
He pulls me into his arms, "I'm excited too. My mother worked for this for so long, to be able to actually start putting her plans into place makes me so happy, like her legacy will live on and she didn't die in vain."
"She didn't die in vain, we will make sure that everyone knows her sacrifice, everyone needs to know what she has done."