Chapter 5: House Call
I rolled my eyes for the millionth time. I had spent the last hour and a half trying to convince Damien to go let me see Xander again, but he remained steadfast in his decision.
“He might have insight on who was a part of the demonstration,” I pleaded.
“She’s right, you know,” Lyon agreed.
Damien’s eyes darted from mine to Lyon’s before he finally let out a sigh that told me he was caving in.
“You bring Lyon with you, and have other guards waiting in the car. I’m not having you sit there like a waiting duck again,” he insisted.
I nodded, turning to follow out the door behind Lyon when I strong arm pulled me back. I twirled into Damien’s chest, and he traced my jawline before pressing his lips firmly against mine. He tangled his hands in my hair, pulling my body as close as he possibly could. An awkward cough came from Lyon, and I finally pulled away, blushing.
“Still blushing after all this time,” Damien smirked. I rolled my eyes, playfully hitting him as I stepped back. “Be back before dark,” his tone was pleading this time.
“Okay, dad,” I scoffed.
He gripped my arm, pulling me close as he pressed his lips against my ear.
“Save it for the bedroom, my queen,” he taunted.
I felt my blush deepen as I headed out the door with Lyon.
The car ride seemed like it ached on forever, but when we finally reached the front steps, I held out a hand to tell him to stay inside. He gave me a look that told me Damien wouldn’t be a fan of this arrangement, but Damien wasn’t here, so I would wait to be yelled at later.
I placed three soft knocks on the door, and heard a gruff ‘come in’. Peering slowly around the edge of the door, I made sure that he didn’t have any half naked mistresses before I entered. He was laying in a hung-over stupor on the couch, sitting up to the best of his ability as I entered. He looked distressed, and I guessed that he had been crying, but neither of us were going to bring that up. He swung his legs over so I had room to join him, and I sat beside him.
“A little birdy told me that my brother put you in lock-up when he found out about our liaisons,” he smirked.
“You have spies in the palace now?” I suggested.
“Unfortunately, I am not the magical fountain of answers that you wish I was.”
“So you do,” I affirmed.
“I have friends in the palace, yes.”
“Do you have any friends that would string up a fake version of me and tell me that I was going to be killed by you on the next full moon?” I kept my voice as chipper as possible.
He frowned, catching on to what I was asking.
“You’re as safe as you could possibly be up in your ivory tower, what are you worried about? I’m trapped in here. I could literally be killed by anyone who walks in that door.”
My eyes flickered out the window to see Lyon still pacing in circles around the town car. I lowered my voice so that he couldn’t hear before leaning in a little closer.
“I haven’t been able to contact the Moon Goddess in nearly 9 months,” I whispered.
“You’re telling me this because?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Do you want out of this mansion or not?”
Xander erupted in laughter as he laid back in his seat, looking over at me in amusement.
“If you think for a second that she’s going to let me out of this little contract she struck up, then you’re going as mad as I am.”
“If I could talk to her, maybe I could find out how to undo it.”
“You’re worried,” he corrected. That all-knowing smirk came back to his face, and for a moment, he looked like the man I first met on the palace steps all those months ago. “You met Ella at the meeting, and you realize just how ballistic she is. You’re a smart girl, Cyan. You should be scared. She’s more outlandish than I am.”
I finally let my eyes graze over his figure. He hadn’t taken care of himself at all, and what reason did he have to, truthfully? His hair had grown out a little bit longer than it used to be, and his facial hair was thicker than when I saw him last. He had even given up on working out judging by the atrophy in his muscles.
“If you think that I wanted this for you, you’re wrong, Xander.”
“What did you want, Cyan?” He asked, coming closer to me. I shimmied back into the couch cushions as far as I could, but he caged me in underneath him. “You made your choice very clear, you practically signed my death sentence.”
“I wanted you to be safe. I wanted you to be able to walk away and live in peace, and feel okay, or whatever,” I murmured, not letting my eyes meet his.
He sat up, finally releasing me as he tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. His eyes raked over me with pure adoration, and I was beginning to wonder just how far his madness was stretching. Was he beginning to get delusional?
“I would have felt a lot more okay if I had you by my side in this mad house.”
“I couldn’t rule with you—”
“Who said anything about ruling, Cyan? I would have given Damien all of it. I would have given him the palace, and the kingdom, and anything else he wanted. I would have moved to the other side of the realm in a cardboard box if it meant that I had you all to myself…”
I rose from my seat, beginning to feel uncomfortable. I flattened out my skirt against my legs, but he yanked me back down onto his lap.
“I think it’s time we head back.”
I turned to see Lyon standing as a shining savior in the doorway. Scrambling up, I got into the town car faster than I thought was humanly possible for myself. Lyon said nothing, but kept giving me shifting glances across the car. I couldn’t take another fatherly lecture from him.
When we got back, I headed straight up to my room like an angry teenager. Slamming the door behind me, the canvases that sat on the wall rattled with dust. I looked at them in pain. They were from such a different time. It didn’t matter how deep Xander was buried in that mansion, or into that mountain. He could have been held hostage on the other side of the planet, but he would always worm his way in; into my head, into my dreams, and now look at me. I’m making house calls like some sort of doctor for the man. My hands gripped the windowsill firmly, and I watched my knuckles go white.
“I’m disappointed, Cyan.”
I turned and watched my own jaw drop as I saw Artemis standing in my bedroom. She was as ageless and glowing as usual, and at the current moment all I was interested in was strangling her with those white curls that fell so gracefully to her hips. She should have matched the way I felt. She should have had bags under her eyes from late nights and wrinkles on her forehead from worry. She should have been tearing herself up, but instead she was the same superior being that I knew and loathed.
“Now you pipe up?” I snapped. “Where have you been for the past nine months, huh? Floating around on some magic celestial island on a little vacation?”
“You’re starting to sound like your husband,” she observed.
“What is it that you’re disappointed about today, your majesty?” I mocked, folding my arms over my chest.
“You went back to him. I thought you had made your decision.”
“I had,” I corrected. “I sat up here in my special little tower with Damien for months on end, and now we’re farther apart than ever. Xander wormed his way back into this castle like he always does, except this time he’s literally using other pawns on the chess board.”
“You could have let Damien kill him,” she shrugged. “In all honesty I thought someone else would have beat him to it by now.”
“Do you hear yourself? The family you’re supposed to protect and lead is turning in on itself, Artemis. There isn’t going to be a Royal Family left standing by the time the next full moon hits. By then, your people will be in beastly ruins.”
“That’s the problem,” she said matter-of-factly.
“What?” I looked at her, confused.
“You continue to call them my people when they’re supposed to be our people,” she guided.
“My people got slaughtered and evicted from their homes because they’re terrified that their children will get snatched up by your people. I should have gone with my parents; they were always right. Werewolves aren’t civil, they’re beasts and they always were.”
“You know if you left with them I would have found a way to bring you back here,” she smiled.
“You act like you’re my mother or something, like you actually care about me.”
“I do, Cyan.”
“Maybe you should care a little less about everything else and a little bit more about the civil war that is about to rage between your people.”
I was beyond heated, with my hands sitting on my hips. She was just smiling at me like a dumbstruck idiot, and slowly it crept in. The Cyan that was at the Coronation Ball a year ago wouldn’t have talked to someone of her importance like this. I was changing more than I was realizing, and I couldn’t tell why she wanted me to see this. She had instigated the argument, tried to push me to see if I would keep going, and she was right.
I was angry, but that wasn’t what I wanted to be. Anger only lead to suffering, that much I knew. I wanted to go back in time and make everything stop, I wanted to fiddle around in Artemis’ mind and have her choose another human girl for Damien to be mated to; one that would have sit back and let him kill his brother. Why couldn’t I just let Xander die? There wouldn’t be even a sniff of a civil war if his head had been chopped clean off at the wedding.
As if reading my mind, Artemis’ smile grew wider.
“I don’t need to save this family because I already chose someone who will do it on her own. You were pure of heart when I chose you, Cyan.”
“I’m not anymore,” I scoffed.
“I chose you for Damien not because I thought he needed a human mate, and certainly not because I thought you were fit for the job. I chose you under the impression that he would have none of this responsibility. I chose you, Cyan, because you and Damien are the perfect combination of beauty and pain—just enough to help each other evolve. You’re putting the pressure of a kingdom on your shoulders without taking into account that there is a whole other half of you that is waiting to help at your beck and call.”
I turned to look at the window again, but when I opened my mouth to try and rebuttal, I turned and she was gone as quickly as she had come.
She was right. I had been so busy worrying about the life of another that I had stopped worrying about my own. I had been pretending that the only thing that was depending on me was a kingdom, but I was wrong.
I pushed my way out the door down towards the kitchen, where Damien was talking to a few of his guards. Ignoring their presence entirely, I wrapped my arm around his neck and leaned him down to me as I crashed my lips against his. At first he was rigid, not used to this kind of outward affection from me. I heard the uncomfortable footsteps of the guards marching away, and once I knew we were alone, I inched him back to the bedroom in between kisses.
“What’s going on—”
He couldn’t get more than four words out before I started tugging at his shirt, pulling it up. Once he had it off, he ripped mine down the middle as he let it fall to the ground. I didn’t leave myself any time to feel embarrassed as he pinned me underneath him on the bed.
“Don’t ask questions,” I panted.
“As you wish,” he smirked.