Once back inside the underground palace we all decide to take a break. Darrius and Maximus had explained how they still needed to blindfold me when I was taken into the palace through the main entrance as it was custom to do so to all non-vampires. They had taken off the blindfold just now and I take in the living area we were now occupying. Claudia and John were both reclining on a couch together while Maximus and Darrius stood near me.
“Where did Owen and Leah go?” I ask, looking around the room. I remember Darrius had shown me this room on his quick tour of the palace. I remember that he said it was a royal family living area, where they could relax. There were many book shelves, a massive fire place, a flat screen TV three times bigger than the one I had at home, many couches and a snooker table at one end. It was empty except for us.
“Those two like to keep to themselves,” Claudia explains while resting in Johnathan’s arms. Darrius has his own arms crossed over his chest, a vacant expression on his face as he thought of something deeply. Maximus leans back against the armrest of a chair close by and gives me a smile as I look around the room, feeling a little light headed and hungry again. I decide to sit on the couch opposite Claudia and Johnathan.
“Owen and Leah were pissed off they didn’t get to make a surprise attack against the werewolves,” Maximus explains to me, “They like action. But it’s good it all ran smoothly. Are you feeling alright Jennifer, darling? You look a little pale.” I bring my legs up onto the couch and curl them under me, I hug a pillow to my chest, getting comfortable. Darrius scowls at Maximus before looking down at me curiously.
“I’m fine, I just gave a lot of blood in the last two hours,” I explain, “I need some food. I feel like chocolate, actually. I think my blood sugar level has dropped.”
“Darrius,” Johnathan says calmly, giving his brother a stern look, “You need to be more careful with Jennifer, she’s only young and I believe you keep on forgetting to feed her. Did she even get lunch today?”
“No,” Darrius looks at me with a bit of guilt, “Would you like to eat now?” I nod and Darrius un-crosses his arms from over his chest and comes to sit down next to me. I look up at him questioningly as he settles in close beside me and puts an arm around my shoulders, his hand almost unconsciously starts patting my head, his fingers running through my hair. I turn to glare at him but he has his attention focused on Maximus.
“Since you are so interested in what’s mine,” Darrius drawls off to his best friend, “Why don’t you go get her some food?” Maximus winks at me and I blush as he leans up from off the arm rest.
“I’ll let the King know everything went as planned,” Maximus drawls back to Darrius in the same tone, “Then I’ll come back with something for her, since she is a sweetheart. It’s funny she was paired with you, Darrius.”
“Piss off,” Darrius snaps, “You know she is my life-mate from the prophecy, go find another human girl to capture. You’re just jealous that she is mine.”
“How many times do you have to say she’s mine?” I ask, exasperated, trying to swat his hand away from my hair.
“Because you try to deny it,” Darrius growls back, “It’ll be better for you if you start accepting it.”
“It’s not true,” I stand up off the couch, still holding my pillow to my chest. Darrius lets me stand reluctantly. I stalk my way over to another couch and plunk myself down onto it with a sigh. I lie down the length so Darrius has no space to join me. I hear Claudia laugh and I look over to see that Darrius is still seated on the same couch, glaring at me.
“You’re looking lonely there, buddy,” Maximus smiles at Darrius, who scowls in return, “I’ll be back with some food,” Maximus farewells and leaves the room with long strides. I stare at Darrius, but I don’t glare this time. I liked having Darrius’ arm around me but I needed to prove that I wasn’t a pet. He had a bad habit of stroking my hair like I was his pet.
“What’s going to happen now?” I ask Darrius.
“We’ll see,” he replies simply, leaning forward he puts his elbows on his knees and clasps his hands in front of him.
“You said in the car that others would want to meet me as well, who exactly?” I ask him, hugging the pillow tighter to my chest.
“Jennifer, I’ll be handling it. And when the time comes, you’ll do what I say to stay alive,” Darrius evades the question and I narrow my eyes.
“Tell me who else wants to meet me, which supernatural creatures?” I ask again.
“Don’t worry about it now, Jennifer,” Claudia tells me, looking sleepy in Johnathan’s arms, “You should rest now. The werewolves were just the start,” I huff out a breath, annoyed. This was my future we were talking about but everyone wanted to protect me by not telling me anymore than I needed to know. Darrius gives me a raised eyebrow at my annoyance, and I stare up at the ceiling instead. Bloody hell, he was so damn arrogant.
“I thought I was staying here willingly, because it is now too dangerous for me to be outside in the open, since so many people may want me dead. Am I really still seen as a prisoner here?” I ask aloud to no one in particular.
“You’re my willing human slave, that’s what the vampires here think, it’s what the King needs to believe. Otherwise he’ll think you are a threat to us all, that’s why you have to do what I say without defiance. I know you won’t harm anyone here, you have no reason too, but the King is not convinced,” Darrius explains for me.
“Why can’t I just be seen as your partner? I don’t want to be known as the slave of Prince Darrius,” I snap.
“It’s necessary for your survival,” Darrius says firmly back, “And regardless of whether the King trusted you here or not, whether you were welcome here or not, you should do what I say anyway. I have more power and influence than you. I can keep you safe,” he softens his tone a bit but I don’t reply. I was starting to feel very hungry now and tired.
“Darrius, Jennifer is still an individual and you should treat her with more respect,” Claudia says, “She’s been doing everything we’ve been telling her to do. Give her a break.”
“Why don’t you two get a room so I can be alone with my lovely Jennifer?” Darrius asks instead, glaring at Claudia. Johnathan laughs and shakes his head at Darrius, amused.
“You two will never get along, will you?” John asks Claudia and Darrius. Neither answer, they just glare at each other. We all jump in surprise as Maximus bursts into the room, the door slamming open. He has a big grin on his face.
“Catch!” He throws a chocolate bar towards me and because I’m too slow, it hits me smack in the middle of my forehead.
“Ow!” I rub my forehead, glaring at Maximus as I reach down onto the ground where the chocolate bar landed.
“Be more careful!” Darrius snaps at Maximus, who is looking guilty he hit me in the head accidentally.
“Sorry, darling,” Maximus apologises to me, “But I have some wonderful news to say to you and Darrius,” he winks at me again for the hundredth time today, and comes up behind Darrius. He puts a hand in Darrius’ hair and mucks it up until it is really messy before Darrius shoves his arm away, snarling with fangs showing. I sigh and open the chocolate bar, sitting up now instead of lying down. It was dark chocolate, my favourite. My mouth starts watering as soon as I smell the aroma. Oh god I was starving, it was just what I needed. I look to see Maximus still grinning.
“Why are you so happy?” Claudia asks, and the suspicion in her voice suddenly makes me worried.
“The King said there is too many threats towards the palace because of Jennifer, so –”
“That’s not good news,” I interrupt, frowning. I bite into my chocolate bar and Maximus’ eyes glint with humour.
“No, no, Jennifer, darling. Let me finish. There are so many threats because everyone thinks you are an incurable weapon. So the King has decided to announce the bond Darrius has with you. He is going to tell everyone that we also have a cure to your blood, but he won’t reveal what the cure is.”
“What’s the point of all this?” Johnathan asks, curious.
“He isn’t just announcing that Darrius is also a part of the prophecy, the life-mate to Jennifer, he is going to make sure people believe it. He has announced that Darrius and Jennifer are going to personally and officially announce their bond together. That means you two are getting married!”
I swallow some chocolate and try not to choke. Maximus is still grinning, Claudia smiles and so does Jonathan. Darrius immediately breaks out into a grin.
“Did you just say what I think you said?” I ask Maximus, the colour draining from my cheeks.
“You heard him, sweetie,” Darrius says, looking quietly pleased with this turn in events, “You understand what this means, sweetheart?” I shake my head.
“Please, explain,” I say, giving Maximus a funny look. Claudia looks back at Johnathan, still smiling, before she looks to me.
“I expected that this would happen soon, it was only a matter of time,” she says, and I just stare back blankly.
Everyone didn’t seem too phased by this news. In fact, they were relishing it. As happy as Larry. Except me. I clench my chocolate bar harder, the blood rushes back to my face. This time in anger. I could only take so much of this. This was my future and my life.
And it seemed my choice was being taken out of my hands, again.
Not if I could bloody help it!
This time I was not going to compliantly say yes.
This time, Darrius was going to see what real defiance looked like.
“Jennifer,” Claudia prompts, “Are you okay?”
I stand up suddenly, dropping my chocolate bar to the ground. I start stalking my way to the door.
“Where are you going?” Darrius growls.
“I’m getting some god damn space, back to my room where I can think,” Before anyone can reply I open the door and turn to slam it shut. Just before it closes I see Darrius jump up from the seat to start following me but Claudia tries to stop him.
I turn and run down the hall in the general direction back to my room, tears already starting to cloud my vision.
Me… marrying Darrius?
Space, I needed some space.
Then surely, I’d find some way out of this.