The news hit her hard. She would meet Daniel’s parents tonight. The alpha king and luna queen! What was she to do?! Her heart went into panic mode and she had to take several deep breaths before she would speak again.
“The king and queen?” she squeaked, Daniel reached a hand over to squeeze hers.
“My parents. They promised to be only my parents and not the king and queen,” he explained. It did nothing to make her feel better. They were still his parents and would scrutinize her as the next luna queen.
“Doesn’t do much to make me feel better,” she admitted and heard Alex huff a laugh in the back seat.
“They will love you because you are my mate. We are meant to be,” Daniel promised, reaching over to take her hand and kiss it. Tingles shot through her body, and she took a deep quiet breath through her nose.
“I promise it will be okay,” Daniel told her again, and she gave a slight smile. The rest of the ride back to the capital was quiet. Amelia took the time to think about how much her life would change. She couldn’t stay hidden from the country as the alpha prince’s secret mate. Kylie had Nick. After looking over their lease, they could break the contract at the end of the month. They only needed a month’s worth of rent to break their contract since their lease was up in two months.
“Kylie told me she and Nick are mates,” she shared once they had pulled onto the streets of the capital.
“He told me after Savannah’s baby reveal party. Thank you for the cookies, they were a big hit.” She looked over to see he had an authentic smile on his face, not the practiced one she’d seen the first time she met him.
“My business page blew up. I have so many orders, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get them all done in my small kitchen,” she replied laughing at the surprised look on his face.
“You can’t be surprised that news traveled so fast?” Amelia gave him a skeptical look, and he shook his head.
“No. I am happy to hear you are getting more business. I was shocked because you were saying you would try to do all your orders in that compact kitchen of yours,” he replied and she frowned.
“Where else would I do them?” she asked curious to see where his train of thought was headed.
“You are my mate. I have a massive kitchen you can use,” he offered, Amelia smiled and patted his hand.
“That is sweet of you, but driving into the capital every day to cook is impractical. Besides, I have all my baking things at my apartment,” she replied as they pulled into a massive garage. She’d missed how they made it behind the palace.
“This place is so big,” she whispered, looking at the palace in awe. The day she’d met Daniel she’d been too nervous to admire the building. Today she took in the western end of the palace. The outside was a white stone with pillars every six feet holding up the overhang. Daniel parked his car and Alex slipped out soundlessly. Amelia turned to see him walk all around the car before giving Daniel a nod.
“Come,” he said turning the car off and stepping out. She followed, wondering why Alex needed to check for dangers.
“Are you not safe in your own home?” she asked as he took her hand and led her into a side entrance.
“Alex is taking his job seriously. Terrorists will strike where you are least expecting. We’ve had no attacks in the palace, but better to be safe than sorry,” Daniel explained, catching her eye. She could see the alpha prince shining in his eyes. This was something all new to Amelia, and worrying about her safety had never been a big concern. Yes, she lived in a sketchy part of Doyle, but she and Kylie took the necessary precautions.
“I’ve never had to think of an attack when I got home,” Amelia admitted looking around and admiring the artwork on the walls.
“I’m surprised, I worry about you being attacked in your apartment complex,” he answered pulling her close and placing a small kiss on her lips.
“Kylie and I have lived there for years. I guess I am used to how it looks,” she explained with a shrug of her shoulders. That got a laugh out of him and he kissed her again, this time harder. When they pulled apart, she saw the desire for her flare in his eyes. A tingle shot down her spine, settling in her core. She wanted him, but wouldn’t throw herself into his bed just because they were mates.
“Here is my place. Alex will leave us now,” Daniel announced, opening an ornately decorated door with his initials on it. Amelia felt butterflies erupt in her stomach as he opened the door. Ushering her into the room, Amelia took it all in. The walls were a warm cream color with racing posters and photos all over the walls. She walked into the living room area and to her right an enormous kitchen. Her eye honed in on the double oven and high-end appliances. Instant jealousy raged through her at the size of just the two rooms. They were the same size as her apartment.
“Do you like it?” Daniel asked, closing the door behind them.
“This is bigger than my apartment,” she shared her awe and walked over to the kitchen. That’s when a delicious smell hit her nose. Looking around she saw the oven was on and two covered plates were sitting inside the top one.
“I had the cook prepare us dinner. I hate to say it but I never learned to cook,” he explained. She looked up to see a blush on his cheeks.
“It smells wonderful,” she replied and saw a table set for two. Daniel took her hand and led her over to the table. Pulling out her chair, he helped her sit down. She smiled and settled, enjoying the attention he was giving her.
“Do you want help?” she asked when he walked into the kitchen to get their dinner.
“No, you sit there and let me spoil you. You’ve had a busy day I can tell,” Daniel replied, getting the two covered dishes from the oven and placing them on the table. He went back and brought out a bottle of wine. Amelia looked down at her plate, recognizing chicken parmesan with noodles underneath.
“What makes you think I’ve had a long day?” she asked once he settled across from her at the table.
“You mentioned having a farmer’s market this morning. I can’t imagine that it is relaxing,” he replied, pouring them both a glass of red wine.
“I went extremely well. I sold out of many of my top sellers.” She cut into her chicken and took a bite. The food was amazing, she felt as if she were at a restaurant.
“What are your top sellers?” he asked her, biting into his own dinner.
“Always the decorated plain sugar cookies. I usually make an assortment of flowers. You saw them the other day when you returned my platters. I also make decorate your own cookie kits. Those sell out every single time.”
“Tell me about racing cars. I’ve seen a few races on television but never been to an event live,” she probed. Amelia didn’t want the night to be all about her, she wanted to get to know Daniel better too.
“I’m not allowed to race anymore. This was my last season. My father will be stepping down as alpha king by the end of next year and I need to focus on being the next king,” Daniel replied and she sensed his sadness.
“Are you allowed to drive them still?”
“Yes, but only as practice,” he answered.
“That must be hard,” she replied, sipping her wine. The liquid slid down her throat, warming her stomach.
“I’ve found something far better than cars to occupy my time these days,” Daniel whispered and she felt a shiver race down her spine and settle in her core.
“What would that be?” she asked, her voice husky, how had she done that?
“you.” His answer floored her. How could she be that to him already?
“How is that possible?” Her heart fluttered in her chest. Could she mean that much to him?
“You are my mate. Ever since that day, we played soccer you’ve been on my mind. I asked if you remembered anything else besides playing soccer with me that fateful day. I never forgot what you said to me before I left.
What did I say?” She didn’t remember much of that day.
“You said you only ever wanted to belong. For someone to love you. I know you meant for a family, but I’m telling you I am that someone to care for you. Last night I couldn’t sleep. My wolf whimpered to be close to you again. I loved spending time with you at the beach, I never wanted it to end.” His eyes shone with the truth. She felt it in her bones.
“We are mates. My wolf didn’t enjoy being away from you. This doesn’t mean things will not be hard Daniel. I’m from an unknown background. No one wanted me, ever. Kylie, Trish, and I had to stick together or risk being placed somewhere worse,” she shared. He needed to know about her time with the Naustin family.
“I know things will be hard. No one said being mates was a walk in the park. You have your cookie business, something we must decide together how to move forward with it,” he explained, and she frowned.
“Once you become my mate, you’ll be a princess. As a princess, you can’t have a job like a normal person. It would be a conflict of interest.” Her heart stopped and rushed to her cheeks. She had to stop baking?
“Meaning?” Amelia didn’t want to fly off the handle unless he said something stupid.
“Meaning baking cookies is your life and I won’t make you stop. You just cannot keep your business the way it is,” he explained. Tears pricked at her eyes. It had taken a lot of hard work and many years to get her business and now she had to give it up. Being his mate was something she wanted, but her business was important to her too.
“I don’t want to give it up,” she finally responded. Daniel nodded his agreement, and she gave him a confused look.
“I don’t want you to. We just have to rethink your business strategy,” he replied, draining the last of the wine from his glass.
“I’ll need to think about this,” she answered knowing if she chose to be his mate her business would need to change.
“Okay. Would you be willing to tell me about your time with the Naustin family? Every time it comes up I can see your eyes dim. I can’t say I got good vibes from them when I went to ask about you.” Amelia gaped at him.
“You went to see them? What did they tell you?” If they said terrible things about her, she’d burst.
“I went to see them in August ten years ago. I started at the orphanage and they directed me to the Naustins. When I asked about you Gigi Naustin spouted something about you being ungrateful for their care and you’d disappeared.” Amelia growled and stood to pace around his living room. How dare she!
“Ungrateful? She really said that about me?” she demanded livid that woman said anything rude about her.
“Calm down sweetheart and tell me what happened,” Daniel coaxed, coming over to wrap his arms around her and set them onto the couch.
“When I turned eighteen, she threw me out. The government only gives them money until we turn eighteen. Then we have to pray our foster families will help us. I turned eighteen and at the end of the month, she told me I had to get out. She wasn’t running a free bed-and-breakfast. If I wanted to stay I had to get a job and pay rent.” The way Gigi Naustin threw her out had been the scariest day of her life. She had nowhere to go and still needed to finish high school.
“Wait, weren’t you still in school?”
“Yes. My birthday is on March twentieth.”
“What did you do?”
“I stayed at a homeless shelter for a week until I could come up with a plan. Kylie and Trish were both turning eighteen in April and I knew they’d suffer the same fate. I went to school during the day and waitressed every night at the local diner. I found a studio apartment for Kylie, Trish, and me to share. When they were kicked out, they moved in and we shared the rent. Trish moved to the Aubrun kingdom for college. She is the smartest out of all of us. She got a full ride on an academic scholarship. Kylie went to design school, and I saved up for culinary school. All of us worked our way through college.” Amelia told her story, staring off into space. Her body became stiff from holding back her tears. She made it through and never had to see the Naustin family again.
“Amelia ” he whispered, she looked up and saw a sadness in his eyes.
“Is it like that for all foster kids?”
“I don’t know. Trish, Kylie, and I were the only ones in our town. I have no idea where the others from the orphanage are. Many of us were placed all over and we lost touch,” she shared leaning into his warm body.
“Do you want to find them again?” His voice a soft whisper. Looking up into his hazel eyes, she shook her head.
“Kylie and Trish were my genuine friends at the orphanage.”
“What was it like living at the Naustin’s?” Amelia shook her head hard. She did not want to relive that god awful place.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she refused and buried her head in his chest.
“Amelia, sweetheart.” Daniel lifted her chin and kissed her lips with the faintest of touches.
“Please.” His simple plea pulled at her heart. Maybe if she told him about her time, then she could help other foster kids.
“It’s hard to talk about,” she moaned and his powerful arms wrapped her in a comforting hug.
“Let’s start small. Tell me one thing about living with them.” She contemplated what to say. She didn’t want to horrify him.
“The Naustins had two boys of their own. Both of them were younger than us. They each got their own room and shared a playroom. We stayed in the smallest room on bunk beds with a pull out trundle. All our clothes were from a thrift shop. That’s how Kylie learned to sew. She altered our clothes to make us less freaks than we already were. For holidays we never were given anything new. All our things came from donations from the local church. The boys got brand new toys, clothes, shoes you name it they got it.”
“What did they do with the money given to them for caring for you?” She felt his anger rising as she spoke of her experience.
“Spent it on vacations we couldn’t go on. When I turned sixteen Gigi told me I needed to get a part-time job. She didn’t take any of my earnings, but the money I made went toward school things and bus fare.”
“This is outrageous. How did they hide it from the social worker visits?” Daniel stood to prowl around the room. She watched in surprise. No one ever got mad on her account.
He is our mate. Of course, he is mad they mistreated us. Her wolf made sense, but it still surprised her.
“They made for a convincing family on the surface. They were the only foster family in town, so the social workers didn’t come to visit often. You’ve been to their town, it is far out in the middle of nowhere,” she explained and got up to stop his pacing. Taking his hands in her own, she leaned up to kiss his lips.
“It is the past. I don’t want to dwell on it,” she told him, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him harder this time. He relaxed in her arms and swiped his tongue across her lips. She opened and let him in to duel tongues.
An extra-long chapter just for you all. Let me know what you think! If you haven't please like my story.