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Chapter 7

Xaria was nervous as she tied her hair up in a tight ponytail. She hadn’t expected to be told that the dinner was a formal one, which resulted in Cara dragging her to the mall so that they could get new dresses.

Her best friend insisted that a certain vampyre Prince needed to be swept away.

They’d searched for hours before finally finding the perfect dress. It’s a champagne coloured beaded dress that reaches all the way to the floor. They bought matching shoes and jewellery for it, before heading back to Xaria’s apartment to get ready.

She put the flower shaped hairpin on the side of her hair before touching up her makeup. When she was done, she couldn’t believe that she was about to do this. She’d been anxious to see Gabriel again, and she was excited to see what his reaction would be to seeing her again.

“Xar, are you re- oh my God! You look stunning!” Cara complimented.

“You think?” Xaria said nervously.

“Don’t take my word for it,” Cara said as she signalled for her to come out.

Jaime checked his watch and he knew they’d be late if they didn’t leave then. “Ladies, would you hurry up?”

“Sheesh, we’re done, or at least I am,” Angela said just as Cara and Xaria walked into the room.

Jaime’s eyes widened. “Xar, you look…”

“Damn woman, you really are out to make him work for you,” Angela joked.

Xaria laughed her nerves away. “So, I look good then?”

“Babe, good doesn’t even begin. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jaime went into protective brother mode,” Cara commented.

“Which he will not. We already have the rivalry on our hands, so cool it,” Angela threatened her husband.

“Fine, but if he tries anything, I won’t be held responsible,” he defended.

“He’s her mate. He’s going to try something,” Cara pointed out.

“And you’re not going to do anything about it because Xaria can handle herself,” Angela warned, making Xaria laugh at the look on his face.

“Man, why couldn’t you guys tell me the truth much earlier? I feel like this feels right,” Xaria said.

“It only feels right because Gabriel is in the picture, trust us. Without him in the picture, you’d think we’ve all lost our minds,” Cara pointed out.

Xaria shrugged. “Touché.”

“Anyway, let’s head out. Now that this is a formal thing, I’m guessing Your Highness would appreciate that we be on time,” Jaime mocked.

Angela smacked him upside the head as they walked out. “Behave.”

Xaria laughed, knowing that this would be an enjoyable night.

Gabriel found himself nervous for the first time in decades. He couldn’t even remember the last time he felt like that as he checked the time. His mate would be arriving within the hour, and he was more than anxious to see her again.

To hopefully kiss her again.

Just the thought had him thinking about everything else he yearned to do to her. He stopped his thoughts before they could go far. Instead, he remembered the excitement he had at being able to tell her that he would no longer be getting married.

He could remember watching her process the fact that he’d be marrying someone else.

Or rather her being unable to accept it.

She didn’t need to say it. He already knew that the part of her that acknowledged their bond hated that he was betrothed to another at the time, so he was looking forward to seeing her reaction to his news.

Danica watched on from the doorway, amused by what she was seeing. It’s very rare that Gabriel gets caught in moments much like this one, where he’s borderline second guessing everything. Judging from his pacing, she knew that he was either worried or excited.

Or maybe even both.

“This is a sight for sore eyes,” she commented.

He turned her way, smiling. “Is it obvious?”

“What? That you’re slightly freaking out?” she teased.

“Well yeah,” he replied.

“Oh, it is, and I’m curious to know why. What’s different between the last time you saw her and now?” she asked.

“I’m not engaged,” he informed.

She frowned. “Was she aware that you were?”

He nodded. “Olga had gone to get her to make the baked goods for the wedding. It’s part of the reason why I ended up there to begin with. Before that night, I’d passed by her bakery many times, but that night it stood out to me.”

“Fate made you go there Gabe, not Olga,” she argued.

“I guess. Anyway, the fact that I was betrothed to Olga came up and I could tell that it unsettled her a bit, besides her voicing her opinion on what kind of queen Olga would make,” he said, laughing at the memory.

“The fact that you’re laughing can only mean she gave the kind of analogy that will make me love her even more,” she commented.

“Let’s just say she’s got the interests of our world in her heart without even realizing it,” he replied.

“Yep, I like her alright!” she said approvingly.

“Ditto sis,” he responded.

“Well, you love her, but whatever,” she teased, making him laugh.

“I just don’t want this to go horribly,” he commented.

She raised an eyebrow. “Is this you accepting her?”

She was well aware of her brother’s unwillingness to find his mate.

“This is me accepting that everything about Xaria McLeod makes me question if not trying to find her was a good idea or not because a part of me understands that she’s young in any case, so our relationship would’ve only been normal now, but there’s also a part of me that feels like I wasted so much time by not bothering to find her. She’s everything I didn’t even know I wanted, let alone needed. She makes me smile Niki. Tell me when was the last time you saw me genuinely smile,” he pointed out.

She could even see it in his eyes; the way they lit up. She herself hadn’t found her mate, but she knew enough about them to know that her brother had not only found his, but that she was already changing him for the better.

Or at least she brought out the old him.

“You’re going to make me cry Gabe,” she joked.

“Sorry. I just, I never thought I’d ever be this happy again. I didn’t think I’d ever get my old self back, and she makes me feel like I can get back to that,” he said.

She smiled. “I know for sure that mom would’ve loved her.”

“I thought so too the first time I spoke to her,” he replied, smiling too.

“Well, I’m looking forward to seeing her again. I’d like to help her understand us better, and it would be great to finally have a sister,” she said excitedly.

“Maybe you can find out what she is,” he said thoughtfully.

“Yeah, no. I’m not doing your dirty work for you. You’re her mate, therefore you’ll find that out. If I happen to find out, I’m not telling you,” she replied.

“Niki,” he whined.

She laughed. “I can’t believe you’re actually whining. It makes this even sweeter.”

She didn’t give him a chance to say anything as her laughter echoed down the passage. She headed downstairs and just as she reached the last step, the doorbell rang. She knew that the security at the gate would’ve known to let them in.

She opened the door and she was blown away by how beautiful and regal Xaria looked. “Hi.”

“Sorry, excuse my speechlessness but you are gorgeous,” Danica told her.

Xaria blushed. “Barely, but thank you.”

“You’re humble too. I can’t handle it,” Danica said excitedly.

“Niki, would you please let our guests in and stop freaking them out,” Gabriel requested as he came down the stairs. He’d heard her open the door.

Xaria’s attention headed his way and her words caught in her throat. She’d seen many pictures of him in a tux before, but none of them prepared her for seeing him in a tux in person.

He too was dumbstruck at the vision before him. His walking had slowed as he took her in. She looked majestic, and it was like he was seeing her for the first time. He could feel his primal side growling in approval at the sight of their mate.

“Hey,” she said softly.

He shook his head slightly. “You look…”

“Amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, immaculate, majestic,” Cara taunted.

“All of that,” Gabriel agreed, laughing a little at the woman’s antics.

Xaria blushed once more. “Thank you.”

“Welcome to my home. This is my sister Danica,” Gabriel introduced.

“It’s lovely to meet you. You know Cara, and you didn’t get to formally meet my sister. This is Angela, and that’s her husband Jaime,” Xaria introduced.

Cara, Angela, and Xaria watched on amusedly as Gabriel finally caught Jaime’s scent.

“He’s a werewolf,” he linked his sister.

“I know. Play nice. We don’t even know if they know,” Danica replied.

“It’s lovely to meet you both. Let’s head to the dining hall,” Gabriel suggested.

“Is Leith here already?” Cara asked as they headed that way.

They arrived in the dining hall and Xaria, Cara, Angela, and Jaime were taken away with how beautifully set up the whole place was. It was then that they felt really important, and Xaria was curious about why Gabriel had put so much effort into the dinner to begin with.

“No, he isn’t. He’s out on an errand with my best friend,” Gabriel responded, indicating that they should take their seats.

Xaria happened to pick the seat closest to his without even thinking about it.

She raised an eyebrow, amused. “Really? You invite us all to dinner and you’re still making him work?”

“I had nothing to do with their decision to leave. I believe Zortan is the one who needed his assistance,” Gabriel defended.

Xaria looked to Danica, and Danica laughed. “He’s telling the truth.”

“Ok, I believe you,” Xaria teased.

Gabriel rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t fight off his smile. “Where’s the insecure boyfriend?”

Jaime chuckled at that. “You’re so blatant about it.”

“I take it it’s something we’re all aware of?” Gabriel asked.

“Oh, without a doubt,” Angela laughed.

Gabriel shot Xaria a look. “Stop it. So, what if he’s insecure?”

“Insecure people can be dangerous, especially with people they love,” Danica commented.

Xaria scowled. “Why would you say that?”

“I see everyone’s here,” Leith commented as he and Zortan walked into the room, effectively shifting the attention away from the awkward subject.

“Ladies and gentleman, this is my best friend Zortan Rizzo. Zortan, this is Angela and Jaime Kinley, Cara Palmer, and the beautiful Xaria McLeod,” Gabriel introduced.

“Ooh, she gets a beautiful,” Cara mocked, making them laugh.

Zortan was instead in a trance-like state. His primal side was taken by Cara. Much like Gabriel, he hadn’t met his mate in all these years, and only in that moment did he truly understand how deeply his bond with the Prince was.

“It’s lovely to meet you all,” he said as he and Leith took their seats.

“Is Miguel coming?” Leith asked.

“He said he wasn’t, so we’ll be surprised if he does,” Cara replied.

“Did he happen to mention why he didn’t want to come?” Zortan asked, even though he knew the answer.

“This should be fun,” Gabriel mumbled.

“He doesn’t trust Gabriel’s intentions,” Xaria informed.

“Why not?” Danica questioned.

“Your brother taunted him and made him paranoid,” Xaria informed.

“So, you’re saying that there’s actually nothing for him to be paranoid about?” Leith challenged his best friend.

Xaria glared at him, while Gabriel smirked. “I’m saying he doesn’t trust Gabriel.”

“Does he have a reason to truly not trust Gabriel?” Zortan asked.

Gabriel was enjoying himself, until a surge of anger passed through him. He gripped the table, and it took him seconds before he realized that the anger wasn’t coming from him. He looked up at his mate in shock but she was too busy glaring at Zortan.

Xaria could feel something dark in her brewing as she glared at Zortan. She was furious at all the questioning, especially because she was feeling personally attacked. The longer she stared at him, the more enjoyable the thoughts were of harming him.

Gabriel panicked when he realized that the anger wasn’t just anger but something darker as well. He reached out to hold her hands and try and calm her down, only to be zapped by a current.

“What the hell was that?” Leith asked. They were all staring at Xaria, while she was still lost in her thoughts.

Gabriel tried his luck again, except this time when the current hit him, he didn’t pull away. Instead, he held her hands while she shocked him. She turned slowly to face him and he was taken aback by the silver eyes staring back at him.

He was in pain, and he knew that Xaria had no control over what she was doing. He didn’t think she was even registering that she was doing anything. With her continuing despite his touch, he knew that he had to reach her some other way.

“Xaria, you need to calm down,” he linked her.

She didn’t say anything for a while, but her next words bowled him over. “Why?”

“Because I don’t know how much longer I can withstand what you’re doing to me,” he replied, breathless.

That seemed to knock her out of it as she quickly pulled away her hands. Gabriel collapsed onto the floor, and she bent down, panicked. Everyone else was too stunned to say anything.

“Gabe? Gabe?” Xaria called, shaking him.

That snapped Danica out of her trance and she rushed over to her brother. “Gabe! Gabe wake up!”

“His heartbeat is very faint. You need to heal him Niki,” Zortan told her as he too rushed over to the Prince.

Xaria’s tears were falling down her cheeks at this point. “What did I do?”

“You didn’t do anything babe. He’s going to be fine. Just let Danica do what she needs to do,” Cara said, pulling her away.

“What happened?” Gabriel groaned as he sat up.

Xaria got up and ran out of the room. She didn’t even know where she was going. She just knew that she needed to get out of there and preferably head outside. She found herself in the garden, but before she could break down, arms wrapped around her.

“Hey, I’m ok,” Gabriel said softly, bringing her into his chest.

“I don’t know what that was Gabe,” she sniffed.

“I know you don’t know,” he comforted.

At his words, she pulled away. “You know that I’m not human.”

“I do, but I also don’t know what you are. Neither of us do,” he replied.

“Us being?” she asked.

“Zortan, Niki, and I. Niki says that while she doesn’t know what you are, you’re very powerful. She felt it when you held hands,” he informed.

She scowled. “Held hands?”

He sighed, taking her hands in his. “We went to Trachba last night, and for some reason you don’t remember that. You fainted when we arrived, and when we returned. When we were there, you asked me to take you to my father. I was sceptical, but I did it anyway. You touched his forehead and his eyes shot open before you called for my sister. I don’t know how to describe what happened next, but you took her hands in yours and you told her how to heal my father. We came back soon after that, but like I said, you don’t remember any of what I’m talking about.”

“What the fuck?”

Xaria didn’t get the opportunity to respond to Gabriel’s words. Instead, she looked behind him to find a fuming Miguel standing there, dressed casually in jeans, a t-shirt and some dirty sneakers.

“What are you doing here?” she asked him.

“Apparently watching my girlfriend holding hands with someone I don’t trust,” Miguel spat.

She pulled her hands away from Gabriel, unknowingly pissing his primal side off. “Friends hold hands too you know?”

“Not with assholes with hidden agendas. You didn’t even care that I didn’t want to come to this place, and now I get here and you’re all dressed up for it,” Miguel said angrily.

“Don’t call Gabe an asshole when he’s done nothing wrong to you. Just because you have trust issues, doesn’t make him an asshole,” Xaria snapped.

Miguel laughed humourlessly. “Are you going to go ahead and fucking defend why you’re dressed up too? And why you’re all the way out here alone with him?”

“How dare you speak to me that way!” Xaria said incredulously.

“I can speak to you however the fuck I want to since you don’t seem to care about my feelings,” Miguel spat.

Gabriel growled, bringing Xaria’s attention to him as her eyes widened. “Calm down Gabe.”

“Can’t,” Gabriel managed to get out. He was fighting the urge to make Miguel pay for disrespecting his mate.

“Miguel, please go inside and I’ll come talk to you there,” Xaria pleaded.

Miguel scoffed. “Now you’re blatantly telling me that you want to be alone with this asshole?”

“I am begging you Miguel. I’m sorry that I came here and didn’t care about your feelings and whatever else you want me to apologize for. I just really need you to get out of here,” she begged.

“You know what Xaria? Fuck you!”

Gabriel moved at an unimaginable speed before he had Miguel in a chokehold. Xaria knew that if she didn’t do something, Gabriel would kill him. It didn’t take a genius to know that he was barely hanging on as is.

“Gabe, I am begging you to put him down. I know that he’s testing you, but you can’t kill him,” she begged.

“I actually can,” he replied, his voice deeper.

“I know you can, but I’m begging you not to,” she replied.

Miguel was struggling to breathe, not understanding how the man who had him in a chokehold had reached him that quickly. Gabriel squeezed even tighter. He already knew that if he wanted Miguel dead, then the man would be dead, which is why he had to keep his hold weak and balanced.

He hated it, but he knew that it would hurt Xaria if he went through with it.

“Gabe please,” she whispered. That was enough for him to release the man.

“If he comes around me again, I will kill him for sure. I tried to be civil, but he seems to be goading me. Not even you will be able to stop me the next time,” Gabriel told his mate, his eyes blood red and fangs showing.

“I’m sure he knows better now,” Xaria said, shooting a look at Miguel who was rubbing his neck, coughing and glaring at the Prince.

Gabriel picked the man up by his clothes and brought him to his eye level. “You are going to look at Xaria and call her a whore, before leaving here and forgetting about my strangling you.”

“You’re a whore!” Miguel spat in Xaria’s direction after Gabriel put him down, before storming off.

“Really? You compelled him to call me a whore?” she asked, confused.

He didn’t answer her. The urge to kiss her was greater, which is what he did. She moaned at the unexpected assault, before becoming a willing participant. She could feel his need to be in control, and so she let him be.

She needed him calm.

“Are you calm now?” she asked, breathless when they finally pulled apart. He was inhaling her scent along her neck, listening to her blood rushing through her veins.

“No,” he replied before unexpectedly piercing her skin with his fangs.

The last thing she registered in her euphoria before she met the darkness, was a shriek in the background before her eyes shut close.

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