Thirty Five | Cleo
We were surrounded.
There was no way out, or rather no way in.
Those surrounding us suddenly turned around, their backs to me and my two males, forming a foreboding barrier around us, daring the Lunars to attack.
I smirked as Coda's reinforcements dispelled any desire to take up arms against us, the dead body of Camilla just off to the side, a grim reminder of what would happen to those who dared to cross me.
I stepped up to the edge of the circle, the hunters parting for me to pass. Once I was outside of my protective barrier, I eyed the Lunar forces that looked between me and my forces uneasily. Turning my head less than a centimeter I asked to no one in particular. "Where is Coda?"
The hunter directly behind me instantly replied, "doing as you requested alpha."
I nodded once then turned fully to the male. "Take Sebastian with you and do a full sweep of the building. I want Camilla's hybrids contained and I want you to pull the plug on the ones who have not yet completed the transformation."
My tone left no room for argument and the male seemed to hold a fair amount of respect and power among the others so his obedience saved me from making my day worse.
He nodded, "yes alpha."
He signaled for the rest to follow him, Sebastian stepping up to my side.
He looked at the dead body of the leader of the Lunar forces and grimaced. "She would have gotten us all killed." He murmured to himself as if validating his alliance with me and carrying out my plan.
I too looked at Camilla's corpse. The female was unhinged, although seemingly put together, her thirst for Hakota's blood had blinded her and easily let her fall into my staged trap. "Just carry out the rest of the plan and we can discuss details later." I was blunt and brisk with my words. There was still much to do and I was no fool to think that Camilla's death signaled the end of the resistance.
Sebastian looked from me to the Lunars I was left alone with. He clenched his jaw but instead of telling me it was too dangerous for me to be here by myself he just closed his eyes and sighed. Opening them he looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Just," he glanced at Hakota for a second, "just be careful."
I gave him a tight smile that held no warmth but it seemed to be good enough for him because with one last exhale he met up with the hunters who were waiting for him.
Once it was just Hakota and I, I addressed the rest of the Lunars still standing around, unsure of what was happening or what course of action to take. "Your leader is dead," I told them plainly. "You all know Sebastian, you know he is practical and loyal. He saw as well as I that Camilla was driving the Lunar Kingdom into the ground. He and I are going to save it. And if you don't want to end up like her," I said gesturing at Mila, "then I suggest you make yourself scarce until your officers call you back together. The Lunar Kingdom has fallen today, but I will begin rebuilding it at this very moment." At the mention of their officers they visibly relaxed. Knowing that there was still some sense of order allowed them the luxury of not having to come up with a plan of action on their own. Now they just had to wait to be told what to do and what was going on like they were accustomed to. "You will not fall to the lycans, this I promise you," I added, giving them some assurance that I had no plans to kill them all as the lycans would have.
My final words seemed to spur them to a decision because the Lunar soldiers departed and with their disappearance the Lunar citizens also dispersed, no longer under the security of their dwindling number of soldiers.
Not it was just Hakota and I. The lycan had gotten to his feet a long time ago but he had stayed silent up until now, not daring to interrupt me, still wary of what exactly I was doing.
One second I had been about to hand him over to the enemy and the next I had killed Camilla.
I looked at him with cold and disinterested eyes, the half truths from before still burning on my tongue. Had I been consumed with revenge like Camilla, I would have handed him over and meant every word I uttered. Most of what I had said was true, but I was stronger than feelings. I wouldn't let grudges and emotions control me and dictate my actions. That had been Camilla's downfall and my father's and I knew better than to make that same mistake.
Hakota still had nothing to say even after our moment of silence so I snatched up his hands and pulled out the key to his chains. Uncuffing him with jerky movements, the moment the cuffs were off and in my pocket I turned to walk away but he said the words I didn't want to hear, forcing me to halt.
"Thank you, Cleo. I--" He dropped my gaze, unable to hold the intensity in my orbs. "Thank you," he finished quietly.
His gratitude meant nothing to me. All it did was show that he recognized the fact that I could have easily made true on my acting and biting words. "I didn't do this for you," I stated coldly, "I did it for Coda. I did it for myself."
The lycan cocked his head, "What has Coda got to do with this?"
And my next words were exactly why his previous thanks meant nothing. I knew he would not agree with what I was going to tell him and his thanks would easily be retracted when he heard of my plans. But I told him anyway so that there was no mistaking my intentions. "I'm giving what's left of the Lunar Kingdom to the hunters and werewolves who would rather be under their rule than yours."
More silence blanketed us. I kept my blank expression in place while I watched Hakota's face flicker from shock to disbelief to anger to confusion. And after he was finally able to make sense of my words and form a coherent thought he began the argument I was expecting. "I can't let you do that Cleo. Everything that I've worked for, the things I've sacrificed," he looked at me with mournful eyes, and I knew he was referring to me in this instance, "will all have been for nothing if I just allow the hunters to take the Lunar Kingdom."
I was ready with my rebuttal, "You don't need it Hakota, you've already reduced the Lunar Kingdom by half. You can keep what you won but you will not have another inch of this territory."
"You don't get it Cleo!" He tried to fight my declaration. He wouldn't be changing my mind though. I had long since decided this, knowing that this appeasement would make all of our lives easier. "The hunters still hate lycans--"
I scoffed, "of course they do," I rolled my eyes, "There are centuries of bad blood between our races, do you think that's just going to evaporate into goodwill and friendship now that I am their alpha?" I demanded making air quotes around my title.
His blue eyes glowed with annoyance, "They why don't you understand that as long as we don't have complete control that we will always be in danger? If we rule it all, no one would dare stand against us. The lycans need the security to raise their families. Hell, Innoko refuses to conceive until all signs of conflict and potential danger are virtually gone."
Innoko would receive no sympathy from me. I did feel bad for Roshan but more so because of the fact he was mated to her. Innoko was no friend of mine and she had made every effort to show me that. So in regards to her childless situation I couldn't care less. As far as I was concerned she was the only one standing in her way. As for Hakota's delusion, well...
"Stop living in a dream, Hakota. It doesn't matter if you rule the whole world or a pile of rocks. People hate you, they will always hate you. People want to kill you, so they will try to kill you. There is always danger but lucky for you, you have the advantage of being a lycan, the most powerful race on the planet. By handing this small pocket of the world to the hunters, I'm helping you. Those who despise and resist your rule will fall under the hunter's domain. They will sympathize and be pacified because they know that the hunters hate your kind every bit as much as they do."
"And you accuse me of living in a dream," Hakota shook his head. "Cleo, their level of hate for us will not allow them to just settle for what you propose. They will continue coming after us, worse than before if they can convince the hunters to aid them." He tried to reason with me but it was pointless because I had already made my decision long ago and would not be swayed.
"And I told you that people still hate you and will want to kill you. I never denied that fact but I have full faith in the lycans to deal with it. If you could raise an army from nothing and take over the world, you will be more than capable of killing a few measly assassins and patriots. If they cross into your domain, you have free rein over them." I easily dismissed his protests. What he wanted was impossible, what I was going to do was achievable and the best outcome for everyone.
"This is what is going to happen Hakota. You aren't going to change my mind so just stop. I'm giving what's left of the Lunar Kingdom to the hunters. Coda will rule as alpha in my absence and you have my word that the hunter pack will make no move against you and yours. Any hunter that seeks to harm your pack acts on their own and will be considered expelled from the pack. You have the right to do what you will with them if this so happens. Same goes for the hunter pack. The lycans will not move to annihilate the hunters and any lycan that attempts to assassinate a hunter will be prone to whatever actions the hunters decide to take against them. The hunters will have their kingdom and you will have yours. This is what I have decided and if you don't like it than you can challenge me in a fight to the death because I will not budge and you'll have to pry my decision out of my cold dead hands to change it."
Hakota flinched at the mention of my death, his eyes falling to the crook of my neck that was thankfully covered by my light jacket. I cleared my throat so that his attention returned to my face. He frowned, "You speak as though you are not going to be part of any of this," he called me out. "You refer to the lycans and hunters as parties seperate from yourself."
I gave him a hard look, "That's because after this I'm going back to my previous life. All of this pack and alpha business has been nothing but a pain in my ass so I'm removing myself from the equation."
The male paled, "You're going to leave...again?" He breathed.
I was on him in an instant, snatching up his collar and yanking his head down so that we were nose to nose. "I never left!" I snarled in his face. "You almost killed me you stupid prick!" With one hand I yanked down my own collar so he could see the mangled mess of scars on my neck. "Look at what you did Hakota." The male did not let his eyes move from mine. "I said look at them!" I howled, shaking him. "Look at what you did, take responsibility!"
Slowly, so very slowly his eyes trailed down to my throat. He shuddered, I could feel the shiver run through him, watched as his throat bobbed.
"This is your fault. You left me to die. I didn't leave, you did." I let go of my collar, the jacket falling back into place.
"I'm sorry," he croaked, his blue eyes hesitantly meeting mine. "I'm sorry Cleo, I don't know what else I can say. You and I both know that no number of apologies will ever make up for what I did, ever earn your forgiveness."
"So then why do you keep trying?" I demanded.
His hands came up to rest on my cheeks, his thumbs caressing the corners of my lips, "because it's the only way I deserve to be around you. Even if I have to spend the rest of my life apologizing just so that I have an excuse to seek you out, I will take every chance I get."
"And if I decide to start a family of my own without you?" I asked coldly. "When you finally see that you are dead to me, that you will never have a second chance? You will still continue to persist?"
Hakota swallowed thickly, I could see the inner turmoil in his eyes, how hard he was resisting to show me the emotions my words had encouraged. "Even," his voice was hoarse and caught in his throat, "even then."
I just stared at him, his palms scorching my skin with his heat. "You've always been good at saying things Hakota but I have yet to see you stick to them where our relationship is concerned." I pulled out of his hands, "So you'll have to excuse me if I don't believe a goddamn thing you promise."
With that I turned my back on him but he seized my arm and forced me to face him. "Tell me," he pleaded, "tell me how I can make you believe."
His eyes were burning with determination, and I knew he would not let this rest so I gave him my answer. "You want to know when I'll start believing you? When I might even consider the fact that you're worth a second of my time?"
I mirrored his previous action and placed my hands on his face. Then leaning in I whispered, "I will believe you when you live my hell and can come back and forgive me."
With that I sank my fangs into his neck and tore out the flesh under my teeth as he had done to me.
I shoved him away from me and he staggered back before his knees buckled and he crumpled to the ground.
"You are nothing to me," I told him monotonously. "You are a horrible mate and I can't believe I was cursed with you. I hate you Hakota, you're a liar and deciever. You let your emotions get the better of you and you forgot who your enemy was." I stared down at him as he flopped onto his side, his hand on his neck in an attempt to stop the bleeding. "I'll see you in two years Hakota. We'll see how you feel about me after two years on your own without a pack and knowing your own mate despises you. We'll see if you can truly be anyone other than Hakota Blackwaters, alpha of the last of the lycans."
Hakota reached for me, his lips moving but no words coming out so I turned on my heel and walked away from him, turning my back on him as he had done to me.