She smiled as June hugged her. Dimitri stood just to her side and nodded his head toward his Queen.
“We are glad to have found you, Queen Luna,” Dimitri said.
“Believe me, you and I both.” It was only now Eve realized everyone around her was naked. Her eyes accidentally went down Dimitri’s torso and reached the rather sizable package he was carrying.
Adalric growled and pulled her to his side. “Stop gawking at my Beta like you’re in heat.” Evangeline gasped and looked at her mate. She giggled, pulling away. Now, she definitely took her time analyzing the contours of Adlaric’s chest all the way down to his...She stopped herself before she could see.
“You’re the only one I want. Don’t be so jealous.”
“My King, our troops are ready to leave,” Darius said.
“Where are Maya, Tim, and Elizabeth?” Evangeline didn’t wait for a response. She left her friends and surged through the masses of wolves, screaming for those who made her time in a cell much better.
“Elizabeth! Tim!” Dimitri, June, and Adlaric followed behind her as she searched.
Eve gasped as Maya ran into her legs. “Eve! You’re alive! Mommy was looking for you. So was Tim.”
“Who the fuck is Tim,” she heard Adlaric ask Dimitri. Maya led the royals to a section of prisoners getting examined by royal doctors. Eve smiled and hugged Tim, causing Adlaric to growl in warning.
“Be careful, my Heart, I am still very territorial.” He cautioned
“I understand,” she responded to Adlaric. “This is Tim. We shared...We...he...” How does one explain the situation she had found herself in not two hours ago?
Tim bowed to his King. “My name is Timius Tronner, your majesty. Evangeline was put in the cell I shared with Elizabeth. Your mate is very kind.” Tim looked at Eve and bowed at her too. “My Queen.”
She shook her head. “Just Evangeline.” She could tell by the look on his face that he was hurt by her deception. He had always been lied to and hurt, and he felt Evangeline did the same thing by negating her title. “Where’s Elizabeth?”
“She’s being looked after by a doctor, Queen Eve.”
Eve sighed and looked for Elizabeth. She found her sitting on the ground having her blood pressure checked. She smiled when she saw Eve. “So, you survived?” She said. Her nose crinkled as she sniffed the air. “But you’re still human?”
“He never had a chance to give me the final dose,” Eve explained.
“T–” Elizabeth stopped as she saw Darius. Darius stilled next to June before walking toward Elizabeth. Quickly, he placed his palm on her cheek. She flinched but then gasped from the contact. Eve looked at Adlaric who simply smiled.
“They’re mates,” he explained.
Eve turned to Maya, so did Darius. He looked like he just took a bullet to his chest. “She’s your daughter,” he whispered. “You’re mated?”
Before she could speak, Darius turned and walked away. Elizabeth’s breath went shallow. Eve followed Darius and she was followed by the other royals. Somewhere deep in the forest, sometime away from the facility, she finally yelled his name in annoyed rage.
He was loyal to his King and Queen. He wouldn’t disrespect his Queen, but he was furious. He was livid. Someone mated with his mate. His betrothed. Elizabeth was his, but she was already someone else’s. He turned around. “That child is hers.”
“That child,” Eve spat, “is Maya. She is the daughter of Elizabeth.”
“She didn’t wait for her mate.”
“Did you?” Eve asked, pointedly. “Dimitri hadn’t. I’m sure Adlaric has had thoughts about women who were not his mate. June has kissed others and so have I.” This caused the Beta and King to growl in annoyance. “How can you be so hypocritical?”
“She has a child!”
“She was one when she had her!” Eve went silent, breathing heavily. “That girl spent the last five years in that facility. Maya is four.”
Darius stopped talking. She could see the thoughts in his head going rapid in his mind.
“She has a child, yes, but she didn’t choose to.”
“What are you saying?” He asked.
“I’m saying you drew your conclusions far too quickly. You are far too ignorant and arrogant to even stop and think perhaps not everything is what you believe it to be. And because of this, you may have lost your mate forever.” Eve turned around and began walking away. She stopped once again to look at Darius. “She dreamt that one day her knight-in-shining armor would save her from years of torture. Not only have you destroyed that dream, you also made her feel like something that has been used.”
When all of them returned to where Elizabeth was frantically pacing. She went to pick up Maya to which Tim stopped her.
“Where are you going?” He asked. Elizabeth was busy hoisting Maya on her hip and walking through the crowd. “I have family in New York. We can stay with them.”
“You must eat and rest. So does Maya. Stay for a few days. The King has offered us respite.”
“I can’t,” her voice broke, “I can’t stay here.”
Tim reached for her, to which Darius grabbed his arm. And suddenly, in fright and self-defense, Tim promptly elbowed Darius in the face. As soon as Tim hit him, Darius grabbed his arm and turned him around, shoving him to the ground
“Stop!” Elizabeth shouted.
Darius looked at Tim from above him. Darius held his hand out for him. “You’re an warrior,” Darius concluded.
Adlaric stepped forward. “No one can get a hand on my enforcer. No one is trained like that, except warriors of course. Which pack did you fight for?”
Tim cleared his throat. “I was a warrior for Pack Valrys, my King.”
“Would you like to return to that pack?”
“I’d rather start a new life, my King. I have no family there.”
Adlaric nodded. “Your training starts in three weeks after you have been rested and fed.”
“Training, your Majesty?”
“You have an invitation to join Lycanthrope Enforcement, if you wish. Now you,” he said looking at the redhead. “Elizabeth, yes?”
“From which pack do you come from?”
“Pack Easton, your Majesty.”
“You said you had family there? What house?”
“Easton, my King,” she answered.
Dimitri interrupted, “You’re Alpha Easton’s daughter?” Elizabeth nodded.
“I insist you return with us. You will be fed, housed, and I will invite your father. Both of you have a room with us, if you wish. My Betas, June and Dimitri, will take your requests.” Adlaric finished, grabbing Eve’s hand.
Adlaric looked around, he nodded appreciably at his pack medics caring for those wounded. The scent of blood was thick in the air and Adalric wanted to grimace at the awful stench. “There are brigades of vehicles on their way. Those who need priority care will be transported first to safety. All of you who were in this facility will be provided for.” He stopped for a moment. The wind growled across the trees, but Eve knew that everyone here could hear him. “The chains that bounded you to this place are now broken. You are your own person, and as of today, the rights that were taken from you are returned. If you wish to be educated, the Kingdom will fund it. If you wish to travel, we will provide the locations. You are no longer prisoners of war; you are free agents. I have failed you all. Failure has never been in my blood. I apologize. I will work endlessly to heal the wounds that grace your skin, but I know this task is futile as your wounds are everlasting.”
“Those severely wounded are in vans one through five with a red flag on their hood. Second priority are in vans six through ten with orange flags, followed by third priority in eleven through fifteen with yellow, and so on. Adriel has been arrested and is now waiting in his cell for your command,” Darius explained.
“How many vehicles were needed?” Asked Adlaric.
“Twenty-seven for priority and roughly about one-hundred buses.”
Eve watched as Darius and Adlaric spoke about their logistical plan to transport all the victims. Darius was finding it difficult to focus on his King as Elizabeth was busy patching the wounds of others. He knew just from watching her that she was entirely empathetic and took care of others before herself. He was angry with himself, but nothing mattered when he thought his mate had nurtured and carried the baby of another wolf.
“How many days do you think it will take to find housing?”
Darius turned to his King again with a small, charming smile. “There were 3,567 prisoners here. 3,566 families have offered rooms to those who need them. One family said they would house two.”
“That’s great news,” June said. “Are there any casualties?”
“Doctor Lopez suspects thirty will not survive the night, unfortunately,” Darius states. Quietness looms over the royals for a moment of respect.
“Everyone should either be in the medical ward or with their host families by dusk. I’ll stay the night and make sure all goes as planned. Dimitri and June, please take Eve and make sure she is fed and bathed.”
Eve looked at Adalric, startled. He didn’t want to stay with her? Why?
Adlaric wanted her more than anything, but he also knew that she would need time to readjust after the turmoil she was put through. He was only trying to go as slow as she wanted. When he was taken and tortured, his return to his life was not easy.
He clearly remembered not wanting to be touched, talked to, or bothered. He didn’t trust anyone except Dimitri, but even Dimitri made Adlaric shake with deep fear. Of course, on the outside, everyone thought he was perfectly fine and still the King he was previously. On the inside is where a storm truly churned; nights were filled with nightmares, days were filled with unrelenting rage.
Her time spent in this facility made her submissive. She hung her head low as June led her to the car. Eve didn’t turn back to look at him, but Adlaric watched her the entire time she walked away.
Dimitri and June both walked Eve up to her room. June smiled as she walked to the bed nestled int he corner. “Oh, look! You have a king bed and look at the view! It’s beautiful!”
June looked at Eve who stood by the door with her head down. Eve simply nodded, but besides that remained absolutely apathetic. June bit her lip and looked at Dimitri. He looked at back her and then toward Eve.
The atmosphere between all of them was...odd. No longer was it bubbly; it was dense with an impenetrable layer of awkwardness.
June tried to lighten the mood again. “And look, there’s a book shelf and everything! You have a grand bathroom too.” Eve simply nodded again.
“We’ll leave you alone.” Both of them went for the door. June stopped for a moment and turn toward Eve once again. “I’m glad you’re back.”
Eve smiled. She tried to make it as believable as possible. “Believe me, I am too.” Eve’s smile dropped when the door closed. Soon, the silence and solemness consumed her. She didn’t like being alone anymore. Before she was taken, she reveled in solitude. She would always say being alone was a class for yourself. You never truly know yourself until you know how you are when no one else is around.
Eve began to shake as the walls closed in on her. Her breath quickened and thickened in her chest. She looked around the room, turning in circles, grabbing her chest as it became harder to breathe. She heard their voices again, she felt their dirty hands on her, and most of all she remembered how the moments when she felt safest we’re when she was in the most danger.
She wheezed and fell onto the bed, tears soaking her cheeks. She cried. She couldn’t be alone anymore, but she also knew that she didn’t want to bother those around her. She didn’t want to be a nuisance. She didn’t want to be a hindrance to Adlaric’s success.
She shook violently as the truth hit her with such force. Adlaric kept her away because she wasn’t who she used to be. He didn’t feel the same way about her. He still consumed ever part of her heart, but she? She was tainted goods. She was touched. She was wounded. She was scarred. She was looked at and embarrassed. She was an embarrassment for the Kingdom and Adlaric knew that.
She would spend the rest of her nights quaking in fear and her days putting on a facade.
She didn’t sleep that night. She took five showers trying to remove their touch from her skin, but to no avail. When the sun finally poked through the curtains, she got up and got dressed. She sat on her bed, waiting for her orders of the day. She didn’t feel like her own person anymore. She felt like an object.
Around eleven that morning, June knocked and entered her room. “Eve? What are you doing?”
“I wasn’t allowed to leave my room back there,” Eve explained. June’s lips parted in shock.
“Eve you are no longer there. You are here. You are a Queen. You are free here.”
“No one’s free,” Eve said, standing up.
June went quiet, looking at her friend. Another moment passed before she spoke again. “Let’s go home, Eve.”