Chapter 17: New Leaf
After Lyon finished the rest of his speech, I watched him get dragged off again. There was no question about where he was going; he was destined for the dungeons. My eyes scanned the corridor, looking for Damien’s body. I was about to up and start searching for him when one of Adonis’ men interrupted my field of vision and directed me towards Damien’s old office.
When I emerged through the doors, I saw Adonis stretched out over his chair. My fists itched to curl up and make contact with his face; none of this was what Xander had proposed.
“Good, you made it,” Adonis smiled.
“I want to see my husband,” I blurted immediately. His smile faltered a little as he shifted to sit up straight, and I did my best not to make eye contact with Xander. I could feel the glare that he was shooting my way from the other side of the room.
“Your husband is dead, Cyan. You need to start acting like it.”
“I can’t act,” I corrected.
“Really? Because you’ve been pretending that you actually like the man for over a year now, and it was pretty convincing to the rest of the world. Whatever you were doing then, do it now.”
“What happened to Xander sweeping me off my feet and riding me off into the sunset?” I could feel the attitude dripping off my tongue, but I didn’t care. I was unhappy.
“You need to look like you’re mourning for your husband, and for that exact reason, you won’t be seeing him. Not anytime soon, anyway. If I’m being entirely honest, you should be thinking about whether or not he’ll want to see you after he learns of the truth. There is a funeral to arrange.”
“You’re kidding,” I drawled.
“Welcome to politics, sweetheart.”
I folded my arms, plopping myself into the seat in front of him. I ached for Lyon’s sidekick protection right now, but I was all on my own in this chess game.
“How does this work, then? After we bury an empty coffin.”
“I don’t think you need to worry about that until next week,” he said dismissively.
“I’m the Queen—”
“You’re no Queen of mine,” he shot out. Now, his eyes were boring into mine. He leaned over the desk, and I felt the wave of intimidation rolling off of him. “You are not like us; you are not one of us. The only reason you became Queen was because of some romantic notion the Moon Goddess had for humans. You serve a purpose, you keep the peace between us and the humans, and for that I will keep you around.”
I had nothing left to say, and I rose and turned from the desk. I exited the room, and heard the soft footsteps of Xander following hesitantly behind me. When I passed the library I halted, turning around with my hands on my hips.
“Are you going to be my shadow now?”
“I do still have to keep you safe, you know. You never know who’s lurking around,” he shrugged.
“I highly doubt that Adonis leaves the patrols to the wind,” I scoffed. “Widows sleep alone, goodnight, Xander.”
Before he had a chance to object, I slipped inside my room and closed the door firmly behind me. I turned, leaning my ear against the door as I listened for the sound of him walking away. Adonis and the rest of his men were housed on the other side of the castle, I only had a guard sleeping in Lyon’s room down the way.
After a couple of moments listening to an empty corridor, I peeked out into the hallway and started my way down to the dungeons. The guards patrolling downstairs were still loyal to me, so they didn’t question as I paced along each tiny window, searching for him. When I saw a tuft of dirty blonde hair, I jerked back. I creaked open the door, and when he peered up at me he simply looked tired.
“I was wondering when you’d come,” he said.
“I didn’t want them to take you,” I urged.
“But we both know they had to. I’m a threat to Adonis, and to Xander. I’m the only living piece of Damien’s legacy besides yourself.”
My eyes darted back towards the door left ajar, and I pushed it closed. I sat beside him on the bed, folding my hands into my lap.
“Damien isn’t dead,” I said.
“Don’t hurt yourself like that,” Lyon pleaded, partially for himself. “You have to let him go if you value your life.”
“It was staged,” I whispered. His eyes widened as they looked from me to the door. He knew that I wasn’t supposed to be telling him this. “I know that telling you puts him in danger, but I need to know where he is. They’re holding him, and I don’t know where to even begin to look.”
“You need to look where he used to keep Xander’s leaders when they cross the border. It’s behind the dungeons, but higher security. I’m sure that Adonis has his closest guards in front of that place, good luck getting in there.”
“You’re going to help me,” I said matter-of-factly. He looked down at me, brow furrowed.
“My mobility from this jail cell is a little limited,” he frowned.
“It looks like we have to get you back into Adonis’ good graces,” I patted his knee before rising. I stood, going to the door as I signaled in the guard. “Get him upstairs.”
“Your majesty, Adonis has said—”
“Who do you address as ‘your majesty’, me or Adonis?”
He held his breath, and I began to walk from the room.
“You’re testing him,”
I looked up from my mixing palette to see Xander leaning in the doorway, looking moody and disgruntled.
“You’re referring to me bringing Lyon back as my personal guard,” I concluded. “Adonis will get over it.”
“He’s used to ruling, Cyan,” Xander sighed.
“Adonis is a ruler, but he isn’t the Alpha King. Why are you bowing to him when you’re going to take the throne in a few months’ time?”
“I wish he was only a ruler, but he isn’t,” he strolled over as he sat gently on the bed. I set my palette down on the table beside me as I turned to him. He looked distressed, and for a brief moment he flickered through the emotions of a King.
I found the concept of Xander as King strange, but that was how things would have gone; perhaps how things should have gone. Maybe, if Xander was King to begin with, Damien never would have been injured. Ace would still be alive, Alessia would be Queen. What if, what if, what if. Snapping fingers in front of my face attracted my attention back to the present.
“He influences every independent King and Queen in the European countries.”
“Damien influences his rulers by law, by faith. Adonis pays people off and threatens the ones that can’t be bought. Are you telling me that when you rule, you’ll answer to him?”
“Look at you, talking all confident. I hardly recognize you,” he smirked.
“How’s the faux funeral coming along?” I frowned.
“That’s not what I came here for. I wanted to invite you on a little getaway after the funeral.”
“You want me to vacation after celebrating my husband’s very staged death?” My frown wasn’t lightening.
“My story was that you were going home to your family to mourn, maybe take a week off and go to a place of your choosing? That way you get away from all the cameras and nonsense that Adonis is bound to stage.”
“It sounds like I’m not the only one who wants a little break,” I wiggled my eyebrows.
“Ella has been…persistent about visiting my chambers,” he admitted reluctantly.
“Oh,” I didn’t know how to react to his words. I couldn’t help but notice the flicker of jealousy in my chest, but I buried it down while I tried to stay in character. “A trip sounds good then,” I smiled softly.
My gaze was ripped from Xander when I saw Lyon in the doorway. Instead of his usual disapproving stance, he looked beyond exhausted. Xander smiled at me, before greeting Lyon and removing himself from my room. Lyon stared at him questioningly.
“I remember him with his head a lot further up his ass,” he observed.
“He’s keeping your ass out of the dungeon, so I think you should show some appreciation,” I pointed out as I folded my arms.
“You’re the one who got me out of that cell though, so my allegiance lies elsewhere,” he smiled. “Come with me to get some food,” he pleaded.
I nodded, pulling myself up off my stool as I headed down to the kitchen with him. It was empty from the usual staff preparing meals for the guards, and I couldn’t help but notice how eerie it felt compared to what it was a week ago. I trailed my fingertips over the granite countertops while Lyon pulled out ingredients to make sandwiches. Yanking my body weight up, I sat on the counter while I swung my legs.
“Chef Lyon, I like it,” I grinned.
“It has a nice ring to it,” came a voice.
I spun around and saw Ella leaning against the threshold of the door with a grin plastered across her face. She was in a yellow sundress that was cut a little too short, and she was a little too comfortable.
“Make me one?” she said, batting her eyelashes.
I looked at Lyon quizzically; werewolves didn’t flirt. He shifted uncomfortably at the counter, keeping his eyes locked on the bologna. She crossed the kitchen tiles, throwing her arm around him as she smiled into his shoulder.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at the new Council election today?” I questioned, trying to sound as nice as possible.
“We’re on lunch break, and the caterer was no good,” she scrunched her nose. “I’ll be off at four,” she was talking to the air, but I sensed that notification was directed towards Lyon. Grabbing half of his made sandwich, she was out the door, and I finally let my jaw drop to the floor.
“The hell was that?” I hissed.
“She’s kind of sort of my mate,” he muttered.
“How did you not tell me?” I yelped, jumping up from the counter.
“Because I’m not going to take part in it, obviously,” he replied back, a bitter tone laced in his voice.
“Werewolves can’t resist their mates, even I know that,” I rolled my eyes. “If they could, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“If I don’t mark her, it will fade to a platonic level. She’s a play thing of Adonis’, and I don’t want to be associated with someone who took part in the assassination of my best friend.”
“Doesn’t Adonis have a mate?”
“Adonis has whatever he wants,” Lyon said bitterly. I knew that he wasn’t happy about this situation at all.
“I’ll keep you away from her,” I promised. I hoped.