“It was a trap,” she whispered. Adlaric simply nodded as he gripped the steering wheel.
Eve looked at him, startled. His head leaned to the side as he continued. “You are mine as I am yours. I swore to goddess that I would cherish, love, and protect you, and yet you were stolen. They took the most important thing in the Kingdom. I–”
“It wasn’t your fault,” she interrupted. She turned her body in her seat and reached for his hand. He recoiled away from her. Her heart hammered in her chest as sadness filled every part of her body. She took back her hand and held it against her chest, wounded by his reaction.
“I’m sorry I shouldn’t have,” he apologized.
“It’s alright,” she responded, half-heartedly.
The rest of the drive was silent. When they arrived at their home, he got out of the car and opened her door for her.
Eve smiled as she led Elizabeth to her room. “This was my old room,” she explained.
“Where are you now?”
Eve’s eyes flickered, sadness covering them for a moment. “I sleep in the King’s room.”
Elizabeth went silent. She walked into the room with Maya on her hip, sleeping against her shoulder. She laid Maya down on the bed and smoothed her hair back. She smiled at Maya with such love. “You called him the King.” Elizabeth looked at Eve for a moment. “In the cell you called him my love, sometimes my King. It’s funny that you were more affectionate there than you are here.”
Eve stuttered on her feet before crossing her arms and moving her hair behind her ear. “He doesn’t want me.”
“I never took you as an idiot,” Elizabeth said. Eve looked offended. The mother smiled and shook her head. “You aren’t one. The hell you went through in there was far worse than the one he went through out here. But it was a hell nonetheless. Both of you fear the other needs something that you cannot provide and you are wrong. You two need each other more now than you ever did.”
Eve stayed silent as she listened. She smiled. “Goodnight, Elizabeth. There are fresh towels and linens in the closet. I am just down the hall if you need.” Eve left and walked slowly down the hall. She stopped at the girls’ room and opened the door, peering inside. She smiled, happily, watching them sleep soundly in their beds.
Shutting the door, she went to the boys’ room. She paused for a moment when she saw Adlaric holding Morpheus in his arms and a book between his hands. The boy was asleep in his arms. Adlaric looked up, immediately hearing and smelling his mate.
Adlaric laid the boy back down and stood up. He left the room and shut the door behind him. It was just him and her standing face-to-face in complete silence. “Let’s sleep.” He walked toward their bedroom and Eve followed. They both laid down, after changing, and faced opposite directions. She clutched her blanket in her fist as she dreaded her sleep to come.
Adlaric sat up once Eve’s breath evened out. She was asleep. He stayed in the dark, watching her body rise and fall with calm breaths. He couldn’t sleep, not while she was here and enemies still lurked in the shadows. The facilities and the doctor were gone, they weren’t threats anymore, but still...she was taken and he didn’t stop it. He couldn’t stop worrying and he definitely couldn’t sleep. Every moment of his life he would spend looking after her.
After hours passed, he stood up and walked to the chair in the corner. He watched her from there. He never took his eyes off her. She was his heart. She was his soul outside his body. He didn’t know how to react now. Before they were just two people in love, but now? Now he was the monster who brought all this hell on her. If he had let her go, she could have gone on living. She could have gone to college, married a human, and had his children. She could have been happy and not hurt.
Of course, that would mean he would have died. He scoffed to himself. He would have rather died before the ball than to have the love of his life go through the pain she had. Her happiness meant more than his life. Hell, one smile of hers was worth more than every breath he took.
Adlaric couldn’t think of any way he could make it up to her. He didn’t understand how she could ever look at him and not see a monster. Eve didn’t realize, but whenever he stood next to her, or went to touch her, she would recoil or smell of absolute fear. It made him sick to his stomach. Eve had no reason to fear him, but then he realized he probably resembled every man who had hurt her in that damn facility.
He wanted to shift right here and kill everyone locked away in his cells. He wanted to watch her sleep just a little more, though. Five weeks he had lost his mate, and five weeks he hadn’t slept. He needed her. Fuck, he needed her so badly it hurt.
He hadn’t slept before and he certainly couldn’t sleep now. Not when he had his Queen to protect.
Eve stirred in her sleep, then she whimpered. Adlaric leaned forward on his chair. Eve’s chest began to shake and she thrashed against the sheets.
“No! Please...stop!” She cried out. “Don’t hurt me, please! Adlaric! Help!”
He stood up from his chair and went to her side. “Evangeline.” She thrashed still and only stopped when he laid his hands on her shoulders and lifted her into his arms. Her eyes opened and she gasped for breath.
She gripped his chest and cried into his neck. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. I didn’t mean to be such a burden,” she sobbed.
“Stop,” he ordered, setting her in his lap. “You have never nor will you ever be a burden to me, my dear Evangeline.” He soothed her in his arms and whispered in her ear.
“You won’t touch me,” she whispered. “You can barely look at me.” She shook in his arms but eventually slowed down and looked him in the eyes. “I’m sorry they saw what was born to be yours,” she whispered.
“Did they touch you?”
“Sexually, you mean...” She shook her head. “No, but they...they hurt me. They hurt me badly. I have scars and I’m so scared.”
“You have nothing to fear anymore,” he said, sternly, looking her in the eyes. “They can’t hurt you. I won’t let them. My love, I won’t touch you because every time I step near you, you smell as if you’re terrified of me.” His voice was hoarse and he rasped out his words.
“I smell like that because I’m so afraid you don’t want me anymore.” She licked her bottom lip. “You are right. I do fear you.” His eyes hallowed from her confession and he looked away. She continued. “I would take any amount of physical abuse instead of thinking about you leaving me. My greatest fear isn’t going back there; it’s me returning and you finally realizing I’m not good enough for you.” She cried into her hands before looking up again. “I have so many scars, Adlaric, emotional ones and physical. I’m not who I used to be.”
He didn’t answer right away. He simply stared at her and watched how the moonlight shone upon her skin, illuminating her bright features. “I promise to love you for who you were and who you will be, Evangeline. You’re my world. To leave you would be to wound my heart. You are as beautiful to me as you were before. One day you will realize you are far better than me. ”
“Stay with me, please? Lay with me... I want to return to how we were before.”
“My darling Queen, it’s alright if what happened to you changed you. It doesn’t matter if you change a thousand more times. I love you. Nothing is ever going to change that and I hope you will learn how to love the person you have become.”
She smiled softly up at him. “You know me so well. I love you. I love you so much. You’re the only reason I never gave up.”
He picked her up and pulled the sheets back to lay her down. He pulled them back up to tuck her in and went to the other side. He laid down beside her and pulled her into his stern chest. She slept, listening to his heartbeat.
He stayed awake, playing with her hair.
The next morning, Eve woke up to Adlaric walking out from the shower. She sat up and rubbed her eyes before looking at the clock. “Adlaric, it’s six in the morning. Why are you up so early?”
He shrugged, walking over to her. He planted a soft kiss on her lips. “I just woke up. I’m sorry if I woke you.”
Eve looked at him skeptically before watching a small droplet of water run its course down the curves of his abs. She licked her lips as the drop hid itself under his towel. She quickly looked up at his eyes so that he couldn’t smell her arousal that was threatening her core. She smiled and shook her head.
“No, I’m glad you did. I wanted to make breakfast anyway.” She lifted the covers off her and got out of bed. She stopped when Adlaric grabbed her arm gently and pulled her back. His hands slowly, almost dreamily, slid over here shoulders.
“Wait for me. I’ll get dressed quickly.”
Eve raised an eyebrow before nodding. He stood up and walked into their closet coming back out in a dark red-button down and black slacks. Eve took the time he was in there to get dressed as well. When they both were ready, hand-in-hand they walked downstairs together.
Eve was hyperaware that his eyes followed her wherever she went. If she reached for a pot, his eyes would also, if she walked to the fridge, he would lean forward just a bit. She wanted to say that she was independent; that his protectiveness annoyed her because she could look after herself, but it would be a lie. Honestly, she felt safest and was most comfortable knowing he was always right by her side. She was powerless against wolves. Adlaric was not. She enjoyed how he didn’t seem to mind how dependent she was.
Once the pancakes and sides were done, she smiled happily when she saw the table was set. Adlaric always set the table for them while she cooked. The sounds of laughter and playful banter made her look toward the door. The kids all sat around the table, followed by the Royal Betas, and then Elizabeth, Maya, and Tim.
She smiled as Elizabeth and Time eagerly ate the food she made. Back there, they were fed regularly, but one could hardly say it was edible. Eve could remember Tim saying one of the things he missed most was his mother’s cooking.
“Ms. Elizabeth, you said you come from Pack Easton, correct?” Asked Adlaric. She kept her gaze toward the ground; it was disrespectful to look any Alpha, especially a King, in the eyes.
“Yes, King Romanov.”
“I hear he is quite strict with following Selene. What was your position?”
“Yes, he is. He cares greatly for the Goddess. I was the eldest daughter,” Elizabeth explained as Darius walked in. She paused in her sentence.
“Go on,” Adlaric encouraged.
“It was my responsibly to make alliances with other packs. I was betrothed to the Beta of Pack Dalton, your highness.”
Adlaric held his hand out toward Darius who was about to growl dangerously low. “Arranged marriages are illegal, Elizabeth. Did you know this?”
She nodded. “Like I said, he cared more for divine law than Lycanthrope. He believed my marriage to another pack that valued religion as much as he did was the will of the Goddess. He said I could either marry the Beta or,” she stopped again, hesitantly. Her breath hitched.
“Or what,” Darius asked, biting his growl.
“He told me he would sacrifice me to the great Goddess.”
Darius stood up abruptly, making his chair scrape across the floor as he dashed for the door. Elizabeth jumped from his outburst of sudden rage. She quietly watched her mate take off before lowering her head and folding her hands in her lap. “I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I didn’t mean to start anything.”
Adlaric looked at Dimitri. Dimitri nodded and stood up to follow Darius. June smiled, attempting to lighten the mood. “After we eat, I thought we could show you around. There’s a Starbucks nearby.”
“Starbucks?” Elizabeth asked, unaware of what a big franchise it had become. No one here probably was aware, but she was taken when she was fourteen. She grew up in that facility. Her first encounters with the opposite sex were through violence and force. She didn’t know what silly bands were or who the latest rappers were. She didn’t know how to do advanced math or how to write an academic essay. Elizabeth never took biology or chemistry, nor had she gotten her driver’s license. Ultimately, fundamental years were spent wishing they would just kill her.
She always dreamt of getting out of the cell, but now she feared perhaps it would have been best if she stayed. The world continued to move while she laid wasting in that facility. Perhaps becoming a part of this society would be a harder task than getting the injections.
“It’s a great coffee place!” Eve answered, unaffected by her answer. Elizabeth didn’t know what Starbucks was, so what? Eve was more than aware that Elizabeth would have to acclimate herself back into society, but she wasn’t worried. She knew Elizabeth and Eve knew she was far stronger than she appeared to be. Elizabeth would need help, and she would struggle, but Eve would always be there for her and so would Darius. Elizabeth looked at Eve for a moment before smiling and kissing Maya’s head.
Hours passed and the girls returned back to the house, carrying bags on their arms. Most of them, besides June, were careful with how much they spent. Everything Eve bought was on Adlaric’s card, and everything Elizabeth bought was on Darius’ card, unbeknownst to her.
They all smiled as they set their bags on the coffee table in the living room. “Do you think I could color my hair purple?”
June laughed and nodded her head. “If you wanted to color your hair orange, go ahead. Wanna know why?”
“Why?” Elizabeth encouraged.
“Because you’re a badass independent fucking woman!” June shouted. Eve and Elizabeth both laughed and began sorting their clothes. They all went back upstairs to their individual rooms to put their things away.
Eve threw the plastic bags out and folded her new clothes, putting them in her dressers. Her hands lightly glided over the white linen of the lingerie set neatly on the bed.
After they had left Sephora, Eve had seen Victoria Secret and paused in her steps for the briefest moment. June smiled and dragged them all in. If Eve remembered correctly, June said “one of these days you’re going to be ready to have dirty sexy sex with your mate and you do not want to be in your average underwear when that happens.”
The set in front of her had no underwire, but had lace around the bodice of the bra. She remembered trying it on and being thoroughly impressed with how her breasts looked, bulging out of the intricate detailing. The underwear were lace as well, although there were strings of silk on its outline. The set, although not completely see-through, was sheer. It left everything yet nothing to the imagination.
One day she would surprise Adlaric with it. One day she would show him just how much he meant to her.
She lifted the outfit– or lack thereof –and placed it into her underwear drawer. She jumped when she heard Elizabeth’s scream. Eve ran back downstairs to see Elizabeth cowering and grabbing her head in absolute terror. The Luna looked around the room, and furrowed her eyebrows when she heard an annoying buzzing sound coming from one of the guards’ phone.
Immediately, she was sent back to the arena where she saw Tim battling for his life. “Turn that off!”
Eve went to Elizabeth and stood in front of her with her hands out. “Elizabeth breathe,” she said calmly. Eve continued to try to calm her down, but nothing seemed to work. Nothing had too because in a few seconds, Darius pulled her into his arms. She thrashed for a moment, but he continued to hold onto her, his arms encompassing her tightly.
“Breathe, my love,” he whispered in her ear. He shushed her and held her even when she fought so violently against him. Some moments passed until she finally calmed down and she went slack in his embrace.
Eve thought his response was far too aggressive, but somehow his dominant strategy calmed her down more so than any softer attempt could. Eve raised her eyebrow at the scene. She read an article before about how some women craved dominance; they enjoyed being looked after and cared for. Some women loved being independent, others wanted to be controlled because being controlled was safe. Succumbing to that safety, however, was far harder.
Elizabeth cried in his arms, clutching onto him as if he was the only safe thing around her. He ran his fingers through her hair and whispered sweet nothings into her ear as she was seated between his legs.
Eve’s breath hitched in her chest. She looked to her right and locked eyes with Adlaric. He held out his hand and she went to him. He picked her up bridal style and carried her back upstairs, seating her on their bed. He closed their door and knelt in front of her. “What happened down there? What sent you back?”
“That alarm. T-that sounded l-like the o-one in the facility–”
“Shh,” he whispered, pulling her into his arms. “I’m here with you. You were so brave, Moya Koroleva.”
She looked up at him with tears still in her eyes. “What?” She asked, confused through her tears. He pushed a strand of her hair behind her ear and smiled softly.
“I know you were affected by that sound too, yet you protected and helped Elizabeth. That’s a type of strength that cannot be taught. You were scared, but your instinct to protect your Kingdom was stronger.” He sat beside her on the bed and laid his forehead on hers, breathing in her lovely scent. “Cry, my darling Queen. I’m right here.”
She shook her head. “You’re a King you have duties! Responsibilities! You can’t waste time with me.”
He placed his hands on either side of her head and pulled her in close to him, kissing her soundly. His lips softened from the touch of hers. Slowly he leaned both of them down on the bed. He pulled away, staring at her as he dragged his finger lovingly down her arm. “A King would be nothing without his Queen. When the Queen falls, the Kingdom falls. You are the only reason why I’m still here.”
She looked at him. “What do you mean?”
He swallowed, staying silent as he trailed his finger back and forth on her skin. “Do you remember the ball?” She nodded her head. “You wore a beautiful light purple gown. It hung off your shoulders and it had lace on the train of it. You were absolutely ravishing.” She blushed underneath him.
“You’re delaying,” she grinned.
“I’m explaining. It’s rude to interrupt a King when he speaks.” She rolled here eyes as she smirked. “What did your father tell you?”
“He said we were going for your birthday.”
He stayed silent again. “When a Lycan lives too long without their mate, they turn feral. Happens at different times for different wolves.” He stopped again, testing the words that were about to leave his lips. “A week before that party, I had gone feral and killed a prisoner in my jail. I knew then it was too late. The day after the ball, I planned on attending the council. I was going to kill myself before my beast did it for me. ” Evangeline gasped. Tears sprung to her eyes again and she shook her head. Her heart almost shattered from his confession. She felt sick to her stomach. What if she hadn’t gone? What if she never met him? What if she never got to feel the unwavering love she felt everyday?
He looked at her before smiling. He brushed her hair with his hand again. “Then I found you. I found you, Evangeline,” he whispered, leaning closer to her. “You saved me even when you didn’t know you did. Without realizing, you kept me afloat when I was so close to drowning. Now let me take care of you.”
“Talk again,” she ordered.
“What?” He asked, laughing.
“Say something,” she repeated.
“I don’t know wha–”
“I like orchids,” she interrupted. He looked at her with blatant confusion in his eyes. She sat up and nipped his lips. “I interrupted the King. Don’t I need to be punished?” A teasing grin took over her face. He growled sensually into her ear as he captured her lips with his once more.