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Chapter 23

Around the Palace, things have been uncomfortable, to say the least, of late. I’ve been trying my best to avoid Rex at all costs. Not because I don’t want to see him... in fact, it’s the complete opposite. Every time I see him I want to fuck him until I have no concept of time, yet also strangle the life out of him.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been doing a pretty good job of it. I’ve rescheduled my combat sessions, so I’m no longer in the same group as him and will either come down at the crack of dawn or just before midday for breakfast. The only time I can’t escape his presence is our Sunday night meal together as a dysfunctional family… and guess what… today is Sunday… yippee for me.

I’ve been wandering the halls of the Palace aimlessly for some time now, too afraid to leave the walls of safety knowing that a hot, sweaty and sexy as hell Lycan is out there, somewhere, training in the Palace gardens.

I’m just about to round the corner which leads to the Beta’s and Gamma’s offices when I hear hushed whispers walking further away from me.

Straining my hearing, I attempt to listen in on what’s being said. I can tell from the deep baritones and the characteristics in his tone that it’s Idris - having yet another private call. I’ve noticed them happening more and more of late, to the point he’s beginning to get sloppy hiding them.

As I hear Idris’s voice growing further and further into the distance, I brave peeking around the corner, catching a glimpse as he turns off at the other end of the hall, heading towards his nearest exit for some privacy.

I’m about to continue with my walk when my eyes hone in on the office door, open just a crack.

Do you think we should? I ask, looking for someone to tell me this is a bad idea.

Go in there and turn the place upside down until we have found whatever we need? Hell yeah! Sierra yips enthusiastically.

Let’s face it… I should’ve known I was asking the wrong being to slap some sanity back into me.

Creeping down the hallway, I listen out, just in case his call is brief. As I finally reach the door, I slip in silently, breathing out the breath I was holding onto as my heart beats wildly in my chest.

Start at his desk. Sierra supplies helpfully.

Nodding in agreement, I get to work opening his drawers.

One by one, I route through each and every one.

Nothing but boring pack treaties, pack border plans and notes about conflicting packs.

I try the next drawer… it’s locked.

With a frustrated huff, I immediately start the search of the top of his desk for a small drawer key. I move picture frames, checking the back of each of them, in case he has hidden them there, under and inside pen pots, and even an emerald and gold coloured box he has filled with stationery and pens.

As my arm moves backwards, I accidentally catch one of his picture frames. Swiftly I grab the frame just before it hits the floor. From my crouched position, I look back to the desk, when a shimmer catches my eye.

There, hiding under Idris’s desk... is the key I’ve been searching for. Stuck in place with some blu tac, for crying out loud.

As my heart hammers in my chest, I reach out with shaky hands, slowly inserting the key into the lock. My eyes are transfixed on the drawer, half expecting something sinister to throw itself at me from inside the drawer… but when I finally slide it open, all I see are papers… lots and lots of papers.

My shoulders sag slightly with disappointment, I don’t know what I was expecting, but some old papers weren’t it.

Reaching inside, I pull out a wadge of the files, eyes scanning the contents meticulously.

It has something to do with when the Royal Lycans were overthrown from power around two hundred years ago.

From the document, I learn that it was one of the Royal’s most trusted advisors, Elias Wraithe, who betrayed the Royals, before executing their entire bloodline and taking over the pack. Looking at newer documents, it seems he is still in power to this day.

There are a number of documents from just after the betrayal suggesting The Lycan King was searching for something, but whatever it was he was searching for has been redacted. There are no newer documents that indicate he has found what he was looking for.

Why is this important enough to be locked away? I furrow my brows as I contemplate the information before me.

I don’t understand… why is Idris hiding this? Am I missing something? Something that might make this all make an ounce of sense?

He’s coming back, Sierra erupts my whirling thoughts.

My heart skips a beat as a bead of panic drops into my gut.

Grabbing the papers, I hastily put them back as I discovered them. Quickly locking the drawer, sticking the key back into the blu tac and racing out of the office, I don’t stop until I am safely around the corner.

Leaning against the cool wall, I release a breath as my frantic heart tries to calm itself.

I peer around the corner in time to spot Idris rounding the corner, pushing an exasperated hand through his onyx hair, a look of irritation and stress stamped onto his face.

Rushing away, I head down the grand staircase, hoping to hide somewhere… the kitchen, perhaps?

As I reach the bottom step, someone stops me in my tracks.

“Mae”, I hear a deep rumble in a tone that tells me I’m in big trouble.

Gradually, I turn to face Idris, an innocent smile plastered onto my face.

“Pops! How can I help you?”

His scowl burrows even further, “Mae, don’t take me for a fool. I know you have been in my office”.

The jigs up, run! Sierra panics, leaving me a spluttering panicked mess.

“U-uh, h-how… how did you know?”

“Your scent is all over my office, Mae. Not to mention that the blu tac I use to secure a key has your scent all over it. Care to explain?” He says, cocking an eyebrow at me.

Ah, so that blu tac is more helpful to him than I gave him credit for.

“I just… I don’t understand why you’re hiding those documents? What do they mean?” I ask.

“That’s my business, Mae. You will find out when it concerns you”, he states simply.

He turns around to head back up the stairs. Before he leaves, he turns ever so slightly over his shoulder.

“Oh… and stay out of my office, yes?” He dismisses me harshly.

The way he says it flares my anger to life again. I feel as though I’m being scolded like a child. If this were a cartoon, steam would be pouring out of my nostrils and ears, my face glowing a vibrant red. I try to hang onto my last remaining piece of self-control, physically biting down on my tongue to stop me from saying something I will come to regret later on.

I stand in the lobby for god knows how long, eyes shut, focusing on my breathing when I hear the familiar clip-clop of Mindy’s feet echoing towards the foyer.

Snapping my head in her direction, I see her carrying a medium cube-shaped package.

“What have you got there?” I ask inquisitively.

“Package for Beta Idris”, she chirps.

“Oh, hey! I was about to go and speak to him, want me to carry it up for you? I’m sure you have better things to be doing!” I say, already hatching my plan.

She narrows her eyes at me thoughtfully for a moment, then, with a quick nod, agrees, “Thank you, Mae. That’s very thoughtful of you”.

Taking the box wrapped in brown paper from her, I begin to ascend the stairs.

I feel awful about lying to my sweet, mother goose Mindy, but I need something on whatever Idris is hiding... and my instincts are telling me this box could be a clue.

Have I gone insane? Probably.

Is my anger towards Idris fuelling me on? Yes, it certainly is.

This is what happens when your mate all but formally rejects you and you can’t even trust your own pack members... it drives you to insanity.

This is just a bit of spy work, I think to myself, attempting to reason my actions.

A small spring in my step begins as excitement and adrenaline fire up my nerves.

I stop when I reach my hiding place from earlier, just around the corner from Idris’s office. I had to at least make it look like I was taking it to Idris after all.

Crouching down, I place the box on the floor in front of me. I observe it for a moment, imagining what glorious clues could be inside.

Will I finally find out what Idris is hiding? I gleam, barely containing my excitement.

I tear off the paper like a child on Christmas morning.

A plain white box sits before me. Picking it up, I examine the box, half expecting it to blow up in my face.

As I’m examining the box, something else on the brown paper catches my eye. A deep red stain.

My brows crease as I take in the liquid. It looks like…

I pull one hand away from the box, only to realise the red… blood… is all over my hands.

My insides churn as my gut threatens to empty itself in the hallway.

The memory of Rex’s blood on my hands flaring to life in the back of my mind. Nausea swirls in the pit of my stomach as my head spins, my breathing becoming more rapid, more broken.

Dread finds its way into my bones. My heart is stuck in my throat as I lower the box down onto the wrapping paper.

With trembling hands, I swallow my fear, reaching slowly towards the lid. With my eyes shut and holding my breath. I carefully lift the lid.

When I know it’s no longer sealed, I crack open my eyes, edging forwards to look at the contents.

I slap the pit of my elbow to my mouth as I let out a small squeaky gasp -subconsciously remembering there is blood all over my hands.

Inside of the box is the head of a young man, seemingly around my age.

His mouth lolls open, wide cloudy eyes stare back at me, telling me he’s been dead for quite some time.

I can tell from the jagged edges of what’s left of his neck that his head didn’t receive the clean cut of a blade, it was more than likely torn off by force... likely to prolong any agony this victim endured.

I scoop up the box, marching to Idris’s office. I don’t bother knocking. I simply barge in.

“Care to explain this?” I demand.

Without thinking, I fling open the lid, throwing the head onto the hardwood floor. The head thumps to the ground, filling the silence as it rolls once before coming to a halt.

Idris looks over his desk, his face losing all colour as he stares open-mouthed at the vacant eyes peeing in his direction.

A long silence stretches before me, as Idris takes in the scene in front of him.

“No…” Idris whispers, anguish dominating his tone.

“No, no no no no no no no!” He repeats over and over again, his hands reaching into his hair as he yanks on the ends.

All I can do is look on in bewilderment. All anger I had previously felt vanished just as quickly as it flared to life. The look on Idris’s face... he cared for this man.

Gently he stands, quietly walking to the head on the floor.

I can see the glisten of unshed tears in his eyes; something within me breaks. All confidence I had about unravelling the mystery of Idris was now shattered... now I just felt like a nosey bitch, lead by childish curiosity.

What have I done?

Idris crouches down, carefully stroking the head’s face to close his eyes.

“I’m sorry I got you involved with this, old friend”, he murmurs.

“Idris, I-I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have” I say, trying to backtrack a little.

He raises a hand, still staring at the lifeless head in front of us.

“Don’t be. I should take some responsibility for pushing your curiosity”, he states.

After some time, he sighs, “You know, I had known Will here since I was in school”, he starts.

“He was always good at uncovering gossip on the playground. He always knew who was with who, who wanted to be with who and who was cheating on who”, he chuckles.

“I always joked that he used the birds to be his eyes and ears… truth is, he was just at the right place at the right time or knew the right people”.

“I’m sorry I left you in the dark, Mae. I know I shouldn’t have done it… I just wanted to protect the pack, the more loved ones that knew, the more likely we would’ve become a target… but I fear it’s too late for that now”.

“Pops… tell me”, I say, crouching down to him and reaching to rest a comforting hand on his shoulder... but thinking better of it when I see the blood once again.

He takes my forearm in his and leads me to the sofa.

He sighs, “Oh Mae… I don’t even know where to begin”, he says exasperated.

“I suppose the only logical thing to do is to start from the beginning”.

I stay quiet, allowing him time to piece together what he needs to tell me.

“I’ve always known that Rex was special, ever since the day he was born. When I first held him and he looked to me with those beautiful vibrant amber eyes of his, something triggered in my memory, something bad, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was, I just knew his eyes meant trouble for us, I needed to protect him”.

Idris hangs his head, looking at his hands that are clasped in front of him.

“I began researching what it meant, pulling out any old files I could. I didn’t have much to go on… but, I did find something… curious”.

“The deeper I looked into the history, the more it confirmed my suspicions that Rex was special. You see, all destined rulers to the Lycan Kingdom all had one thing in common… Amber eyes”.

I can’t help but blurt out, “Like dad and Hunter’s wolves have golden eyes?”

He nods gloomily, “Yes, just like that”.

“So, that means…” I freeze.

“… Rex is the next destined King of the Lycans”, Idris confirms.

“Oh”, I breathe out, throwing myself back into the couch, trying to take this new information in.

“Wait… but I don’t understand why you would hide this?” And just like that, as I asked my question, pieces of the puzzle began to fit into place.

“Elias Wraithe”, I breathe. “He’s looking for him, isn’t he? He has been for two hundred years, yes?”

Idris only nods, verifying my suspicions.

“But, I don’t understand, he’s only twenty-five years old?” I question.

“Did you know I was adopted?” he throws out there.

I nod, encouraging him to continue.

“I was born just before the demolition of the Royal family line”, he admits.

“I looked into my birth records, but there wasn’t a trace anywhere of my family. All that was left in the box that arrived with me was a note. It simply stated to look after me, along with a name, R . Lamberhurst. I had always presumed this was my father, but the more I looked, the more I found… Robert Lamberhurst was an advisor to the royal family”.

“R . Lamberhurst”, I whisper as Idris nods, confirming my thoughts are on the right path.

“The Royals had recently welcomed a baby boy to their family… the boy was me”, he confesses.

“Lamberhurst must have been given the order to remove me from the palace for my own protection. The reason I was never found... is that I was never destined to be King. I was born with blue eyes. The eyes Elias Wraithe searched and searched for didn’t match my own… they skipped a generation. I tried to protect him, I really did, but now...”. Idris’s eyes start to gloss over, tears brimming at the edges.

“…I fear he has found Rex”.

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