Chapter 13: Frenemies
When Lyon gripped Xander with excess force, and led him down to the dungeon once more, Damien glowered at me with what I assumed to be anger. He gripped me by the forearm, dragging me in to the office. He slammed the door behind him so hard that it rattled on its hinges, and I cringed waiting for the blow.
I was surprised, however, when he pressed me up against the wall and smashed his lips into mine. I gave it a few seconds before letting the guilt wash over me, pressing my hand firmly against his chest before forcing him off of me.
“What are you doing?” I was confused by his reaction. The lust left his eyes as he accepted my rejection.
“You were finally leading,” he noted admirably.
“Or were you just happy that I was having your brother dragged away?”
“I am curious as to why you were with him in the first place,” he said.
“He looked distressed, so I followed after him,” I replied. I wasn’t completely withholding the truth from him, only tainting it.
“Then why arrest him?”
If I wasn’t mistaken, I saw fondness for his brother flicker behind his eyes.
“He threatened to leave,” I stated simply. “He was going to sacrifice himself so that the other rogues would follow him and Ella wouldn’t have an army.”
“That sounds like a perfect solution to our problem,” Damien frowned.
“What about the rogues that recognize Ella as their leader, and not Xander? What happens when they assassinate him in front of you to try and prove a point?” I said the words in an effort to scare him, but I knew he was conflicted. He was torn between reconnecting with the brother who served as his best friend for 23 years, and sending him out to the wolves—literally. “I’m not letting him sacrifice himself for a plan that might work.”
With a rough grunt, he turned and started down the corridor towards the dungeons. I followed closely, unsure if he was going to strike his brother across the face or console him. Somehow, he reached the exact cell that his brother was in, and glared at the guard before swinging it open.
“Is it true?” he hissed. Xander looked up with glooming eyes. “You were really going to sacrifice yourself, and leave your people behind again?”
We all knew he wasn’t talking about the kingdom.
“I was trying to save you,” Xander’s tone was laced with a warning that he was at the end of his rope.
“Was it me you were trying to save?” Damien hissed, nearing his brother further. He gripped the collar of his shirt, pushing him into the concrete wall. “Or were you trying to run off with my wife again?”
“Maybe you should ask her, brother,” Xander’s signature smirk emerged once more. “Why is it you never showed her where our parents were lay to rest? Ashamed that when she saw the tomb, she might see her own future?”
“We both know you’re the one who took after father,” Damien corrected.
“Are you sure about that?”
Damien let go of his brother’s collar, shaking as he backed up against the opposite wall. I looked down to Xander with extreme disappointment.
“Give me that look all you want, princess, but a man like me never changes.”
I couldn’t even bear the sight in front of me. I turned on my tail and ran, refusing to stop until I reached my old bedroom. It remained untouched, with a few dusty canvases in the corner. I hadn’t been back into this room since the night before the wedding, and it brought up a lot of previously settled emotions.
I had to convince myself that Xander was simply playing another game here. Maybe he had been mad the entire time, maybe the kiss was just a ploy to ruin me and Damien again. I couldn’t help but notice that his mad side only came out when he was with his brother. When we were alone, he was just a man again.
I couldn’t sit for long before I marched back down to the dungeons to get to the bottom of it. Damien was long gone, and I hadn’t seen sight of him in the palace. Giving a nod to the soldier on guard, I creaked open the iron door as slowly as I could. Xander was still on the floor, head between his knees as he folded his arms overtop his head.
“What was that?” I swiftly closed the door behind me with a loud clamor.
“That was me being the man I was designed to be,” Xander drawled.
“The man you were designed to be and the man you are, are two very different people.”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” he scoffed.
“So this is what happens? You get all pouty and mopey because I lock you up to keep you safe from yourself? Kings don’t act that way,” I twisted his own words against him. “Are you telling me that you’re weaker than Rapunzel?” I felt a smirk cross against my own lips, and his eyes darted up at me. He was angry; good.
“I know what you’re doing, and I won’t fall for it.”
“It sounds more like you’re trying to convince yourself than a true statement,” I taunted.
He growled, standing as he pressed claws into the wall on either side of my head. My eyes widened as I stared at his left hand.
“How can you…do that?”
“I’m supposed to be on that throne, Cyan. I’m the true Alpha, which leaves Damien much weaker, and without certain…perks.”
“So what’s your big plan then?”
“My plan was to save you, and if you think I’m lying about that, we’re in for a hell of a night,” he said. I heard the claws retract back into his hands, and cringed at the sound.
“What was with that stunt back there, with Damien, and your parents?”
“He was annoying me,” Xander rolled his eyes as he backed away from me.
“That doesn’t mean that you almost—” I bit my lip, looking towards the door. “That doesn’t mean that you almost give us away.”
“There’s an us now?” Xander wiggled his eyebrows, staring at my lips. “Don’t do that,” he warned. I furrowed my brow at him, unsure of what he was referring to. When I didn’t cease, his lips met mine and I was pressed flush against the wall. I scrunched my nose as I pushed him off of me. I was too angry for one of his weird sessions right now.
“You cannot do that,” I kept my eyes trained on the guard outside the cell, who hadn’t seemed to notice what was going on.
“Afraid we’ll get caught?” he suggested. “I guess we know who’s the fling, then.”
“Stop that,” the words came out more as a plea than a demand. “Stop implying things and making me…”
“Making you what, Cyan? Feel things? Are you not used to that?”
“The hell is going on?”
I turned, and we both saw Lyon standing in the doorway with an accusatory expression on his face. There was no denying our close proximity in addition to the conversation that we were having. He looked angry at first, but it molded into sadness. He turned to leave, and I gripped him by his sleeve, begging for him to turn around.
“I’m not mad at you, Cyan,” he lied.
“Nothing’s going on, I—”
“I think you need to sit down and have a conversation with Xander about how his mother was killed. If you knew the truth, you wouldn’t be doing this.”
Before I could interject my defense again, he was up the stairs and out of the corridor. I turned around and re-entered the cell, looking at Xander warily. I knew he had overheard our conversation, because his expression had turned serious and he was leaning against the wall, brooding.
“Do you remember when I told you that my father found my mother in a fit of rage?” the words came out soft. I nodded, not daring to step into the cell again. “My mother was the cause of that rage. I told you at the mausoleum that she wanted to get away from him, and even though she couldn’t do that physically, she could emotionally. She had an affair, with my father’s beta.”
“That’s why Lyon…”
“Why Lyon what?” he frowned.
“When I first got here, I was really unhappy. I said that I wished Lyon was my mate, and everyone looked at me like I had set a village on fire. They all warned me to never speak of it again.”
“Contrary to popular belief, infidelity is very prevalent in our species,” Xander sighed. “Damien has never showed signs of acting the way that my father did, but if he found out, I don’t know what would happen.”
“So you continue to risk leaking it and trying to…do things with me even though you know that it could land me killed?” I lowered my voice, scanning the corridor to see the guard coming back. He yanked me in, closing the door as he gripped my hand in his.
“I’m already as good as dead, either way. It will be my brother, or Ella. I’m a selfish man, Cyan. So as much as I know you want me to say no right now, yes, I did those things regardless of the repercussions on you. If you want to save your own head, go chase after Lyon and make sure this doesn’t leave this cell.”