Chapter 41 - A Game
That’s it! “Hey!” I slam my hand on the table. The plates, cups, and cutleries rattle. Serena grabs my hand like she did Lazarus.
“She’s taunting us. She’s just looking for a fight. Don’t indulge her,” says Serena.
Too late. “Hey what?” Lady Celeste faces me. Her expression is full of challenge.
“You don’t talk to her like that,” I growl through gritted teeth.
“Or what? What are you going to do?” she challenges. The corners of her lips curl upward into a sneer. “Are you going to kill me?”
I jump up from my chair. “Yes!” I hiss in her face. I want to smack that smirk right off her. The lycan in me still crave her blood for the remarks about taking my mate away from me. Never come between a werewolf or a lycan and their mates, they say. She should know better than keep goading me. Is she stupid or does she have a death wish? The tight reign I have on my lycan since last night isn’t very strong. I can feel its fragile threads snapping. Selena tightens her hold on my hand. Lazarus is tense, waiting for me to pounce.
I hear Jorden’s light footsteps before the wind from the ocean blows his scent in.
I grip Serena’s hand tight for strength. “Watch your mouth and stay in your lane if you want to keep your precious spine,” I warn Lady Celeste before I sit back down.
I have just enough time to take a deep breath and compose myself before Jorden walks in through the open door. He abruptly stops on the threshold and looks around assessingly as if sensing the tension in the room before he cautiously steps in. His eyes find me before they land on Lady Celeste.
The woman actively avoids his eyes. Two lines appear between his brows as he watches the cook and Celeste’s nurse scampering around, cleaning the floor.
His sharp gaze once again falls on Lady Celeste. She immediately busies herself with a scone, slathering one half of it with clotted cream and the other half with jam as if her life depends on it.
“Good morning,” he says, as he takes a seat beside me.
Serena and Lazarus return his greeting while I’m too preoccupied with being pissed and observing Lady Celeste’s behavior since Jorden got in.
“Morning, Q,” he says, turning to me with a tentative smile. I know Jorden is extending an olive branch after last night. I could never stay mad at Jorden for too long and he knows that. Heck, I can never stay mad at anybody for too long. Well, unless they killed my Nana or took my mate or hurt someone I care about. Just give me a cookie and we’re good.
I sigh and say, “Morning, J.” Jorden bumps my shoulder with his and the tight spiral inside me uncoils. He steals a scone from the big tray and drops it on my plate and I fight a smile. He does it again and I lost the fight. I smile wide and bump him back. I see a scowl on Lady Celeste’s face from the corner of my eye.
Surprisingly, not one annoying peep comes out of Lady Celeste’s mouth after that, so we manage to have our breakfast in peace.
Caspian comes downstairs with Darius and Penny. Genesis staggers in with Constantine not long after.
Caspian greets everybody cordially enough except for Lady Celeste. The burning anger and almost hatred he’s harboring for her bleeds through our connection even when he’s trying hard to conceal it from me. There’s only so much you can hide from your mate. Strong emotions always find a way to make itself known to your other half.
Caspian sits on another side of me. His face is stone cold. He drops a kiss on my cheek and I search his expression. Something feral and a barely controlled rage are swirling in the depth of his green eyes. He straightens up, looks away, then clenches his fists around the table. Not a second later, he leans back down and buries his face in my hair, breathing in my scent deeply to calm his raging lycan. He grabs my hand underneath the table and places it on his lap. His grip is tight. His nostrils are flaring and there’s a determined set to his jaw.
I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something deeper bothering him that he’s not sharing. There was a certain quality of desperation in the way he took me last night too that left an uneasy feeling in my gut. I let it go last night but I can’t ignore it forever. I won’t. I just need some time alone with him to talk about it.
Nobody talks to Lady Celeste except for Jorden. In any case, she doesn’t stay too long. She looks tense and her nurse helps her to get back to her room.
The air seems lighter after she left. Even my mate seems to be more relaxed. I know none of them trusts Lady Celeste. The threat that she made on me and the way she’s behaving isn’t helping her gain any friends in this tight-knit little pack.
I look around the table at the beautiful people around me. This is a family. I don’t know how, but the bond that I feel for them is very strong. I have a deep certainty that this pack of lycans has my back no matter what. I never had anyone who cares about me before, except for Jorden. So, this is what it’s like to feel belonged. How did I get to be so lucky?
“You are so getting punished for what you did this morning, minx,” Caspian whispers in my ear, suddenly. It doesn’t take very long for him to be back to his playful, flirty self. His brilliant green eyes held a hint of naughtiness and menace. There’s something in his cocky smile that says he knows something that you don’t and it used to drive me crazy...it still does.
“We need to go back upstairs so I can show you that nothing is broken,” he continues to murmur into my ear. His lips graze the shell of my ear and his warm breath dances across my skin.
“No can do, lover boy,” announces Penny loudly. “We’re taking her shopping today.” Darn lycan ears.
“Well, that’s good then. I’m going shopping too,” announces my mate.
“Nope. You’re not coming with us, especially when we’re going to La Perla or Agent Provocateur,” chimes in Genesis. She then turns to me. “In case you haven’t noticed, your mate has a strange fascination with women’s underwear and lingerie.”
His eyes grow big as he slides his gaze from Genesis back to me. “I do not!” he denies vehemently.
“What?” I shriek, pretending to be shocked. “Now I know what happened to my missing bras and panties. I’ve been wondering where they went to.” I bat my eyelashes to my appalled looking mate. “Are we sharing panties and bras now, baby?”
Penny and Genesis howl in laughter while the men snickers.
Caspian shakes his head in disbelieve. “I can’t believe you’re joining the dark side,” he says to me.
“We girls stick together,” says Genesis with a sweet smile.
“Revenge is sweet, Your Royal Highness,” quips Penny. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.
“Constantine, Darius, Lazarus?” says Caspian, turning to the men.
“Hey, leave me out of this, man,” says Constantine.
“Yup! I’m out,” says Darius immediately after he received a death glare from Penny.
Caspian lifts his fork up and resumes eating his breakfast in silence. He’s clearly brooding. I think he looks adorable and totally sexy when he’s pouting.
“I’m not going to be shopping with you anyway,” he says, moodily after a while. “I have an appointment with the House of Bijan.”
“Your mate is impossible and very high maintenance,” announces Genesis. “The store is by appointment only. You need an appointment just to get through the door of Bijan.”
“Mr. Fancy Pants,” says Penny.
“Mr. Fancy Pants or not, we’re taking Jorden to shop for a suit,” announces my mate.
“What?” Jorden lifts his face up from buttering his toast. “No, you’re not. I don’t need a suit,” he argues but I can see that he’s fighting a losing battle.
Right after breakfast, I rush upstairs to change before we go out. To be honest, I’d rather be around my mate doing nothing than going shopping.
“I don’t mind not going shopping. I’d rather spend time with you,” I tell him. He’s leaning against the walk-in closet door, watching me getting dressed. One hand is in his pants pocket while another is slant across his chest towards his face. His fingers curl under his chin while his index finger is pressing on his full bottom lip.
There’s lust and possessiveness in the way that he’s looking at me. There’s also something else swirling in his gaze. I want to know what he’s thinking, but his feelings are closed off.
“You go have fun with the girls, Moya Printsessa,” he says as he pushes off the door frame to step in close to me. He pushes a few strands of my hair back and caresses my cheek. “The men and I will take Jorden shopping, then I have some things to attend to this afternoon. You come back with the girls. I’ll see you back here later.”
I nod in disappointment. He takes my hand and leads me downstairs.
We join Penny and Darius in a black Mercedes.
“We’ll see you there,” says Genesis to Penny and me, as she, Constantine, Serena, Lazarus, and Jorden climb into a shiny silver Cadillac Escalade.
Caspian kisses me while slipping a black Amex card into my palm when we're dropped off at Rodeo Drive. Genesis and Serena are already waiting for us there. I sigh as I slide out of the car. I’m fine with Target or Walmart, but guess you can’t find Target or Wallmart at Rodeo Drive.
After I got over my shock at shopping without looking at the price tags, it’s actually quite fun. I never shop with girlfriends before. I usually shop by myself. Nana never liked shopping. She used to get in the store, grabbed the items from her list, and got out.
Penny and Serena certainly know fashion. They help me find something out of my comfort zone- items of clothing that I never consider wearing but actually look good once I put them on. Genesis though...she keeps wanting to stop for food after every couple of stores. But since I love food too, I have no complaint.
The steam rises from the hot tub we’re in. Serena, Genesis, Penny and I are in our new bathing suits. My hair is up in a messy bun.
The sun is bright but the wind that skitters across our skin and swirls through our hair from the ocean is quite chilly.
I sit in the corner between Penny and Serena with the back of my head resting on the edge of the tub, listening to them talking.
My gaze finds its way to the outdoor clock on the wall of the pool house. It’s been five hours and twenty-seven minutes since I last saw Caspian. I had fun shopping with the girls today but he’s never far from my mind. Not even for a second. I’m so consumed by him. I wonder if this is more than love. It’s an obsession.
My eyes wander to the far end of the main house, on the second floor where a curtain falls back as if it had been pulled aside, then let go. Lady Celeste’s room.
I look back at the girls who now have stopped talking. Their eyes are also locked on the same spot I was looking at.
“I wonder what game she’s playing,” mutters Penny, still staring at the darkened window. Her eyes wary and untrusting.
“I wanted to kill her,” I tell them. I still do.
“Frankly, I’m surprised that you haven’t. You are very strong. You have so much control over your lycan,” says Genesis. I remember Gideon Archer said the same thing to me a few days ago. I don’t feel strong. I'm struggling with my lycan. Some days I don't know if it's my will or if it's my lycan's that I'm submitting to. Most of the time now, I feel confused.
“But it’s wrong...even just to feel this way. Jorden thinks I’ve turned into a monster.” Some of Jorden's words still sting.
“He’s not wrong,” replies Serena. “Beneath all this,” she says, gesturing towards her flawless beautiful self and all of us. “We are all monsters. To humans, we are their worst nightmare.
“Unfortunately, they can only see us this way. Or rather, we only show them this veneer. So, like a moth to a flame, they are drawn to us when they should’ve run. So it’s our responsibility to stay away from them. It’s for their own safety as much as for our own good.”
“We are possessive and we are quick to anger, especially when it comes to our mates, our families, and the members of our pack,” Penny says. She's a werewolf before. I know she hasn’t been a lycan that too long ago. “A month or so ago, I was trying to juggle my time with my lycan family and my human friends. I was determined to keep my human friends in my life.
"Do you remember the first time I went to see you at the cafe you’re working at?” At my nod, she continues. “Well, you might have saved that woman’s life that day by dumping water on her. We are most fragile when we first changed. I was just marked the night before and I was about to swipe her head off her shoulders when she wouldn’t stop flirting with my mate.”
“It’s our instinct and lycan protecting what’s important to us. Don’t expect humans or werewolves to understand it because they won’t,” informs Genesis. “Our erasthai mates are our lifeline. If you die, he’ll follow soon after. If someone killed you, Caspian would go on a rampage. He’ll destroy everything and everyone on his path to get to your killer and not much could get in his way. A lycan on a rampage is very deadly. He could destroy a small town in less than an hour. The Palace would have to send in their best warriors to destroy him.”
“Fortunately, or unfortunately, we as his pack wouldn’t let anyone harm him,” adds Penny. “Which would mean they would have to kill the whole pack.”
Serena pats my hand. “We’re all in this together, Quincy. You’re not alone.”
Genesis nods in agreement. “That’s why we’re all fighting against our lycans not to kill Celeste last night....maybe less so than you but---”
“Speak for yourself. I wanted to kill her yesterday. If there was no consequence, she’s already dead,” mutters Penny with a scowl on her face.
“Do I need to ask who’s on your hit list today, Malyshka?” Comes a deep, amused voice from beside the pool. Darius moves so silently, you don’t hear him coming. Like a shadow. His fair, blond hair ruffles in the wind. He’s beautiful, fierce and scary, but he’s such a putty when it comes to Penny.
A smile breaks through her frown as if it was never there. She lifts her sexy body, covered only by her new multicolored striped bikini and his eyes narrow and smolder.
“Bye, Penny! Good to see you too, Darius! Bye Darius!” Genesis calls out as Penny sashays towards her mate.
Serena laughs as she reaches for her drink. “As if you’re any better,” she says teasingly to Genesis.
The air changes a minute later. More charged.
I lift my gaze and watch him approaches with languid but elegant and graceful steps. "I'm here to pick up an errant mate," he says.
*(2500 words) I try not to leave you with a cliffhanger today. I'm also trying to update more often. I truly wish I had more time to write. My next update will be this Thursday evening (est).