Chapter 4: Captive Once More
When I awoke, I was met by cold, clammy walls on all four sides. There was a smidgen of light filtering in through the tiny window at the top of the room, but other than that, I was lost. I raised my hand to cover my eyes when the door opened, and saw a familiar tattoo-covered frame in the doorway. I was bewildered as to how I got here.
“I’m sorry about that,” he said softly.
“Are you kidding me?” I rose to my feet, beating against his chest. “You drugged me and locked me in a cage like some sort of animal?! Who the hell helped you, was it Lyon?”
“He can’t reject orders from his Alpha,” Damien defended. I refused to stop banging until he gripped my wrists so hard I feared they would crack. I stopped, boring holes into his chest with my eyes. “I can’t have you fraternizing with my brother and ruining everything I’ve created for us, Cyan.”
“Don’t you see it, Damien? Your kingdom is on the verge of tumbling to the ground.”
“Because of you!” He roared. His voice thundered so loudly I felt myself crawl back into my skin a little bit. No matter the fights, no matter the blame, he had never said something like that. “If you had never been my mate, if the Moon Goddess had never brought you into my life, my brother never would have come back, and I would still have my kingdom.”
“You don’t mean that,” I croaked, feeling dizzy. My hand grasped the back wall as I tried to steady myself.
“Lyon will bring you food.” He turned and closed the door before I had a chance to squeak out a vowel, and I slammed my fists against the wall.
“Let me out of here! You can’t do this to me!” I screeched. I continued punching the concrete over and over until blood streaked down the walls. I let out a final cry as I slipped to the floor, watching the blood seep onto my sleeves. “You can’t keep me captive like the night we first met.”
When I awoke, a blurry Lyon was tending to my wounds. I winced as he put more rubbing alcohol over my knuckles, pulling my hand back. He kept sending me looks of pity, and it was starting to piss me off. I didn’t want pity, I wanted to get out of here.
“Everyone else out there is on your side, you know,” he muttered.
“Then why am I still in here?”
“Damien has lost his temper again, and it’s not something anyone wants to enable.”
“Having me run free like a normal human being enables now?”
“You want to make change, and that’s a good thing, Cyan. It’s a really good thing.”
I frowned, pulling my bandaged hands back as I tried to stand up, grasping the wall for support. I turned and saw that during my period of unconsciousness, someone had brought in a bare mattress. If I had to guess who it was, I would guess Lyon over Damien any day.
“Where am I, anyway?”
“It’s a lockup meant for disobedient guards. He only put you here because it’s under constant lock and key. I’ve been keeping watch since you’ve gotten down here.”
“Damien thinks he’s being safe keeping you down here, but how do you think that person got those mannequins inside the gate for the display? Xander, or someone that he knows has been putting people on the inside over the past couple of months. While he’s not in his right mind, I’ll keep you safe so that he doesn’t have to clean up a mess later.”
“You need to get me out of here,” I pressed.
“That’s like trying to break out of a military fortress, or a state prison,” he frowned.
“In prisons, they generally care more about the prisoners walking in than they do the officers walking out.”
“You want me to smuggle you out of here looking like a guard?” I could tell he found the idea nearly laughable. “There are so few women working in the force that I could count them on one hand. I’m not the only one watching this room; Damien has at least four men on rotation.”
“He’s going to try and kill his brother out of anger, and he doesn’t realize that’s going to start a war. I have to talk sense into one of them,” I pleaded.
He put his arms out as he rested his hands on my shoulders, pulling me close.
“Talk sense into your husband. You need to look strong right now, you need to look like the better option if this ends up happening.”
“That’s not going to be very doable if he keeps me caged up like an animal,” I felt my voice grow weak. Pulling back from him, I tucked my hair behind my ears. “We both know that this is exactly where he would have put me if I hadn’t run away from him at the coronation ball. He’s turning into the man that I felt the need to physically run away from over a year ago. I can’t do this; I can’t go back to who he was.”
“Just…let me talk to him.”
I was left encased in darkness following our encounter. The wedge of light at the top of the room told me when day came and night passed, but a man other than Lyon had been bringing me my food. No one spoke of the mattress, and I was happy that it hadn’t been removed from my cell. Two nights had passed when the door finally opened again. I expected to see Lyon, but instead it was Evan. He didn’t say much, just waved for me to follow him.
I followed through a maze of cells just like mine. How had I never seen this before? How many of our own men were down here, and how many of Xander’s? When we finally made it what appeared to be above ground, he led me back to my bedroom. When he was gone, I saw the sight before me. Damien must have had fit after fit; the sheets were thrown everywhere from sleeplessness, and there were tears in the carpet and the perfectly regal wallpaper. It was far past dusk, and my captivity had left me lethargic.
Stepping into the shower, I felt hot water ricocheting off my back after days. I scrubbed my skin red until it was raw, and clothed myself in one of Damien’s many oversized t-shirts. Emerging back into the bedroom, I tidied up what I could, pulling side tables upright and smoothing out the sheets on the bed. Finally crawling between the sheets, I settled into a comfortable position before hearing the door open.
I knew it was Damien, but he didn’t seem shocked by my presence there, so I knew that he had ordered my release. I thought he was going to come over and try to wake me up, but he disappeared into the bathroom to shower as well. He left the door ajar, and I could make out the steamed silhouette of his body. After hearing the squeaking of the faucet turning off, I shut my eyes again, tracing the sound of his footsteps with my mind. I felt the side of the mattress dip as he got into bed, and soon the warmth of his body pressed against mine. His arms wrapped around my torso, pulling me close. I felt my body shiver as his lips pressed against my mark, gasping as he nibbled on my skin.
“I knew you were awake,” he said huskily.
“And you aren’t forgiven,” I grunted, pulling myself away from him. Trying to no avail, he pulled me back, rolling me onto my back as he hovered overtop of me.
“I let you out,” he said.
“You put me in there in the first place,” I retorted.
“I had to keep you from doing anything rash.”
“I want to make peace, how is talking to your brother rash?”
“There are still people in this kingdom that are wondering what side you’re on to begin with, and you making house calls wasn’t going to look good once it got out to the public.”
“You can’t just restrain me and lock me up when I’m not the Luna you want to be. That’s not how this works, not anymore,” I mumbled.
He rolled off of me, standing up as he started to pace.
“We’ve been distant for so many months, this curse wasn’t just placed on my brother and you know it.”
“If we can make peace with his people, wouldn’t you want that? This would stop, and then we could try to get back to what we used to have.”
In all honesty, I’m not sure if what we used to have would be enough. Between a semi-forced marriage and a nearly all out war, and being on the brink of another, I was beginning to understand why there was constantly dwindling love between ancient rulers. This occupation wasn’t meant for the kind of person that believed in love and happily ever after; not when an entire kingdom depended on the shoulders of two people.
Damien seemed to be eating it up, though. It was clear that this was hurting him beyond what he had been showing.
“Alright, I’m willing to play this out theoretically. We’re on the brink of war, what are you going to do to pull us back from the edge?”
“His people are angry, and understandably so. Even though his curse and his captivity are his own doing, they don’t see it that way. They blame us, and our marriage. We need to see what they want, and try to give it to them. Like it or not, their leader is incapacitated right now, so we’re the closest thing they’ve got. We need to help them as much as we can even while still keeping boundaries.”
“You want to invite them into our home, after the display they put on earlier this week?” He looked at me like I had six heads.
“We increase security; we search all of them when they come into the building. As long as they’re on our turf, if something happens we’ll have the upper hand.”
Surprisingly, he had agreed to my plan. During the next two days, we had organized pleasantries, and a little while later I was watching them come into the palace. We had invited three delegates that Xander had informed me to be the most important following his period of inability to rule. Just from eyeing them up, the leader of the three appeared to be a girl who went by the name of Ella. She had obnoxiously silky white hair, and an attitude. She did, however, put on a nice face as soon as her eyes dazzled across Damien.
It didn’t matter that he had married; every single werewoman and human girl was still batting their eyelashes and offering to be his mistress. I wasn’t even worried, because his eyes never strayed from mine, not now.
After shaking their hands, the others were ushered into the throne room, where Damien and I sat. He always exuded confidence when he sat there, like he belonged there. I, on the other hand, was doing the whole ’fake it ‘till you make it’ charade. After much objection, they stopped making me wear a crown.
“Your Majesty,” Ella smiled as she curtsied despite her wearing pants. I wanted to scoff, but I had to keep my cool. I already didn’t like her.
“I’m glad that you agreed to this meeting,” Damien smiled. I wanted to blink a couple of times to make sure that what I was seeing before me was real; was my husband, the stone cold killer and harsh ruler of this realm smiling? He hardly smiled at me anymore.
“It’s been a long couple of months without our King.”
Damien’s smile faltered at the mention of a ruler other than him, but I squeezed his hand to remind him of why we were doing this.
“I need to know who launched that demonstration inside the palace walls, and how they were able to do it.”
“That’s a lot to ask for,” Ella replied. “I didn’t come here to talk about the demonstration. It wasn’t organized by us, so as far as I’m concerned, our people didn’t do it. It was either a group of extremists or one of your own, so I suggest you launch an internal investigation.”
“I need to know,” Damien reiterated.
“I came here to get my King out of his prison that your little fling created.”
“She is not a fling,” he growled.
I stood, gathering surprise from the lot of them.
“We can’t do anything to save Xander and you know that. The curse was the Moon Goddess’ doing, not ours. I don’t know what you could expect us to do.”
“You’re right, she was the one that did it. Who is the only person within a hundred-mile radius that has a direct link to her?” Ella shot back.
“I haven’t been able to contact her since she set the curse on him. Believe me, I’ve needed her.”
“So she deserts her precious Luna that she spent so much time protecting and bargaining for?” Ella raised an eyebrow. “I find that a little hard to believe.”
“If she says she can’t contact her, she can’t contact her,” Damien boomed, standing beside me.
“I suggest that she tries a little bit harder, because in three weeks another full moon is coming, and it would be a shame if another innocent girl landed inside the walls of Xander’s mansion,” she suggested.
“If you even—”
“Do not accuse her,” I whispered.
“I’ll work on it.”
“Then we’ll meet again next week, and see where you’ve gotten,” Ella shot me the fakest smile I’ve ever seen.