Chapter 23 - The Queen
I go back to her place just after midnight. I can’t sleep and I can’t stay away. I sense nobody is in the house with her. She looks like she’s wide awake when she opens the door for me.
I take her hand and she silently leads me into her room. There are two beds in her room. The other bed is empty.
Her bed is tiny but we don’t need a lot of space between us. We lie there facing each other. I run the back of my knuckles over her soft skin and let her hair fall between my fingers. I’m content just watching her and touching her like this. Very soon, her eyes begin to flutter shut.
I leave the warmth of Quincy’s body and bed before the dawn breaks.
I sit at the edge of her bed, unwilling to leave. Everything else ceases to exist in her presence. I find peace in her amazing scent. I’m addicted to it. She looks so beautiful, lying on her side with her black silky soft hair loose. Her long sooty eyelashes fanning out above her pale pink cheekbones. Her cushy red lips look very inviting but I don’t wish to wake her up from her peaceful slumber. This feeling I have just by looking at her, I’ve never felt before. I watch her sleeping and commit the mesmerizing sight before me to memory.
The last twelve hours or so spent with her was the most unforgettable hours of my life.
The urge to mark her is very strong. I am a selfish creature but I will not mark her without her consent.
I lean down and press my lips softly to her forehead while taking in a deep breath, breathing in her scent. Then I silently leave.
I get home with enough time for a quick shower and clean up. Our transportation, our drivers, and my security details are already waiting when I get downstairs. We leave early in the morning on the Royal Army jet instead of our regular one. It doesn’t have the bedrooms or the comfort and luxury of our jet but it’s safer for now.
The mood is somber. The aircraft is taking me further away from the one that I love. The thought of what’s waiting for us back in Russia is daunting. It weighs heavily on our minds.
When Darius informed us that one of the Royal family members might be involved in building an army or a rebellion and killing the mates of Commanders who were leading the investigation, we were quite livid. Since Darius is now the leading commander, Penny as his mate is the main target. The thought that the traitor is one of our own was hard to swallow at first. Loyalty means the world to me.
Now we’re going back to Banehallow Palace for my parents’ Godovshchina celebration with Penny posing as my mate. We know that she would still be in danger as my mate but we’re hoping to flush the culprit out. As the future queen, the palace will provide her with better security on top of our own. Besides, killing the future Queen and the mate of the Crown Prince is declaring a full-fledged war on the Palace. My father would have to deal with it instead of sweeping it under the rug and outright denying it like what he is doing now despite being made aware of the circumstances a few years ago.
I’ve been sitting on this chair since we take off, just staring out the window at nothing but the cloud.
Quincy. I’m missing her already. I wonder if she’s awake now to find that I’m no longer there beside her.
“Hey,” says Penny. Her eyes moving from me to the back of the plane where I know Darius is still on the phone, giving instructions to his men in Russia then back to me again. “I saw her a couple of days ago,” she informs me. “I have a good feeling about her. I like her.” Her. Quincy.
“You do?” I ask her before I run my hand over my hair and shift my gaze back to stare out the window again. I’m not really surprised. How can anybody not like her? She’s amazing. “How can I bring her into this, Beany? I can’t bring her life into danger.
“I used to be so mad at Darius for keeping you at arm’s length, but now I understand where he’s coming from. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost her.” No, I can’t lose her.
“She should be informed. She should not be kept in the dark,” she tells me. “Don’t cut her off or ignore her even if you think it’s for her own good. You’d hurt her more than anything. It’s her choice. Let it be her choice, Caspian.” I know she’s speaking from her own experience with Darius.
I did not tell Quincy much about our trip to Russia. About the danger. Technically I’m not lying, but I withheld information from her.
“Well, right now she doesn’t want me.” It’s hard to admit but what do you do when your erasthai refused to let you mark her?
“Good things are hard to get,” she tells me.
“When did you get to be so wise?”
“Since forever,” she sasses me, ruffling my hair before she saunters away to bug her own mate, I’m sure.
Once we reach Russia, I’m being kept busy with my duty. I am very grateful to have my cousin Constantine shouldering some of my responsibility as usual.
Despite being busy, I still miss my erasthai. I wonder if other men are making a play for her. The thought is enough to fill me with rage. I would fly back to her this second if I didn’t have this duty to fulfill.
My announcement of my mating to Penny to my parents manages to keep Lady Celeste away from me. Unfortunately, my father decides that it’s time for me to be crowned King with Beany as my Queen.
The Godovshchina ball and our coronation ceremony go off with a bang. I mean, literally. The palace goes under attack. Beany goes missing.
We gather our men and swarm the premise where we thought she’s taken to. In the end, the whole place is destroyed, a lot of the rebels are killed. Robert Vitsin, the man behind the attack on the palace and the killing of Darius’s men and their mates is also killed. We lost a few good men and Beany is found. She was never taken. The crafty devil was hiding in the kitchen pantry. I couldn’t have been happier.
I’m being summoned to my father’s office as soon as the ringing from the blast in my ears stops and the doctor finished his thorough check up on me.
Both my father and my mother are waiting for me behind the closed doors of the office. Queen Sophia and King Alexandros, standing side by side as a united front. Against me.
“Son, you made a fool out of me,” says father gravely.
“Surely you could see that we did what we had to do because of the circumstances?” I reason with him.
“Yes, I can see that now,” says father calmly enough, though there is still a hard edge to his voice. “That is why none of your friends are now facing trial for treason.”
“How could you have gone into the fire with the rest of them?” demands mother. “How could you act so recklessly? Surely you can see that you’re not only putting yourself in danger, you’re putting the whole future of our world in danger. If you were killed out there, can you imagine what would happen?”
“I couldn’t stay and hide behind our guards while my pack mates were out there risking their lives for us,” I argue. “My pack mate, Penny was missing---”
“It doesn’t matter now. It’s done,” she snaps. “I knew you weren’t really mated to her. I will announce your upcoming mating to Lady Celeste.”
“I told you I have found my erasthai, mother. I will not mate with anyone else.”
“Do you think we would trust you after what you just did?” she all but yells. “You pretended to be mated to your friend’s mate! It’s obvious that you would say and do just about anything to get out of your responsibility. It’s time to grow up and do what’s right, Caspian! Be responsible for once and being mated to Lady Celeste is a responsible thing to do.”
Yeah, responsible like my parents’ mating to each other. Out of responsibility instead of love. They are not each other’s erasthais.
“I have to admit that the timing and the circumstances are dubious, but I have met my erasthai,” I tell her. “And I will not have your kind of mating. You think I don’t know about your secret dalliances? About your indiscretions?”
Mother’s face paled. Her lips thinned and pressed together tight. “You know nothing!” she growls. “Do not go back to the United States.”
“I have found my erasthai there. That’s where she is, therefore, that’s where I’m going to be.”
“Enough with this nonsense!” she snaps. “I will send Lady Celeste to you and you will entertain her and treat her like you would a future mate and queen.”