Beneath the Crown

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Chapter 2

Ash

Connie’s flat

Windermere

Earth

I couldn’t believe I was actually going to do this. Leave my life and everything I know, to fly off to another universe with my best friend and her super hot alien boyfriend.

We all sat in Connie’s lounge, talking about plans for the trip there. About how I should get ready.

They said I would need a communication ball inserted into my ear like Connie has, and my fear of needles fired up.

The two tall glowy guys left a few hours ago and Connie said she wanted to spend a little more time on Earth before we left. There were a few things she wanted to take with her. The only thing I wanted to take with me was a picture of my dad. Everything else, in my mind, was good residence.

When it started getting late, Connie and Raylon said they were heading to bed, and that I was welcome to sleep on the couch.

I wasn’t sure how these aliens worked, but I looked at the young one standing by the door and wondered where he would sleep. He had stood there, silent and not moving all day.

He must be exhausted. He can have the couch, I will go to sleep in the shop. Won’t be the first time I’ve crashed in the storeroom.

I said goodnight to Connie with a tight hug before they went to the bedroom and the door closed. Almost immediately I heard her giggle and rolled my eyes.

I got to my feet and grabbed my bag before making my way to the door. I paused by the guard, “You can have the couch. Get some sleep.”

“Where will you sleep?” He asked.

“I have a blow-up mattress in the shop downstairs. I'll sleep there.”

He frowned at me in horror, “You cannot sleep in a shop. I cannot allow you to give your bed up for me.”

“Relax kid, it’s cool. You stay here and do. . . whatever it is you do.”

“I am the Prince’s personal guard. My duty is to be at his side, always. That is what I do.”

I nodded at him then smiled, “Okay. You do that, and I’m going to bed.”

“Wait,” He said and shifted in his spot. He glanced up at the door to Connie’s bedroom then leaned closer to me, “May I be so bold as to ask for your assistance?”

I frowned, “With what?”

He took in a breath and I could see he was scared to ask.

“Hey, it’s okay. I will help if I can. I won’t tell the boss,” I said, gesturing over to the bedroom.

“I wish to purchase a souvenir.”

I smiled, “Ok, easy. But I need to know who it’s for.”

He sighed and looked away.

“Come on, I need to know or I won’t know what to get.”

He met my eyes and said, “It’s for the woman I love.”

“And who is this woman?”

“How is that important information?”

“It’s not, I just want to know. It’s someone you shouldn’t love, isn’t it?”

He let out a long breath, “Yes. It is for Laylar, the Princess.”

“Ohh, buddy, you are in so much trouble.”

He nodded, “I fear you do not realize just how much.”

“It’s cool, I’ll help you. What were you thinking?”

He shook his head, “I do not know. Something unique to your world. Something she will not find anywhere else in the universe.”

My eyes went wide as I thought about it. What could that possibly be?

“Let me think about it tonight. I will let you know tomorrow. Cool?”

He frowned at me but nodded. I gave him a quick pat on the arm and left the flat. Once downstairs, I stepped out of the entrance of the building and heard people’s voices somewhere on the street. I reached into my purse and pulled out the keys for the shop. Rolling up the metal gate, I stuck the key into the lock and as I pushed open the door, a forceful hand on my shoulder pushed me inside.

“Hey, Ash,” Kev’s sour voice said as he shoved me so hard I fell over, “Where is that asshole that nearly broke my hand?”

I stared down at the floor as my knees throbbed with pain from the hard tiles. Thoughts of Dave flooded my mind, sending cold shafts of dread through my entire body. All the times he did this to me, one would think I knew how to defend myself.

“I don’t know. I don’t know him.” I whispered, my scared voice betraying me.

Heavy booted feet moved around me. At least three other people were in the store with him.

“You are such a lying bitch,” Kevin said as a bottle smash behind me. I jerked with fright as the smell of Vodka carried to me.

“Tell me, Ash, and we will leave you alone.”

“I don’t know Kevin. Just leave, please.”

Another bottle smashed to the floor and clear liquid and glass scattered around me, soaking into my jeans.

I stayed frozen on the floor, my eyes turned down in a submissive posture. It always worked with Dave when he got drunk. If I stayed down, the beatings were not as bad.

“Maybe I should just trash this little shop of yours, huh? Teach you to never fuck with me again.”

The front door opened, the small bells chiming, then it shut again. I heard the keys turned in the lock... then silence.

Kevin’s boots moved away from me and he said, “You nearly broke my arm, you little bastard. I am going to mess you up.”

“I invite you to try,” Raylon’s deep, furious voice called from the front.

I risked a glance at the door and saw a small grin on Raylon’s face. His one silver eye glowed in the darkness, and the scars on his face would give anyone nightmares. He stood with his arms open, waiting.

Kevin grabbed a bottle off the shelf and smashed it in half on the counter. He held up the razor-sharp end to Raylon and stepped forward.

Raylon waited with his arms open at his sides as Kevin took a few steps closer. The other guys in the shop went to either side of Raylon, watching Kevin as he inched his way forward.

“Kev, let’s just get out of here,” one of them said.

“No! This asshole needs to learn a lesson.”

“And what lesson do you intend to teach me?” Raylon asked.

“A lesson in manners.”

“How do you intend to teach me of something you know nothing about?”

I smiled at his comeback but Kevin didn’t think it was as funny as I did. He threw the broken bottle at Raylon’s head.

Raylon moved out of the way as the bottle flew past his head and crashed against the front door.

“I suggest you and your friends leave this store. I am not bound by the laws of your planet. I will not hesitate to kill you all.”

I noticed the others got nervous, but Kevin persisted. He grabbed another bottle off the shelf and threw it at Raylon. This time Raylon’s arm flew out and he caught it in mid-flight without flinching. He looked at the label then up at Kevin.

“I will not waste good drink on you,” He said and carefully put the bottle of vodka down on the counter.

Kevin picked up two more bottles and began throwing them at him, but Raylon ducked the first two and with lightning speed, he darted forward. He grabbed Kevin by the neck and pushed him against the shelf. Bottles rattled on the shelves and some fell to the floor as Raylon lifted the man off his feet by his neck.

“You dare to treat a woman like that!?” He shouted into Kevin’s face.

The other guys panicked and ran to the door, but they couldn’t open it.

Kevin mumbled something incoherent as he smacked at Raylon’s hands. His face turning a sickly shade of blue.

“I should kill you. Rip your heart out of your chest and shove it down your throat. You have no respect for a woman. Not for Connie earlier, and not for Ash now. Men like you should not be allowed to live.”

Kevin slapped at Raylon’s arms more frantically as his eyes rolled in his skull.

Panic filled my veins as memories of Dave doing the same to me rushed my mind. I shut my eyes for a second, telling myself that this was not Dave, and I was not the one being hurt.

After a moment, Raylon lowered Kev to his feet and eased his grip so that he could take a breath.

Raylon stepped closer to him, “Consider your next move very wisely. Run or die. Those are the only two choices I give you.”

Raylon tossed him to the floor as Kevin gasped for air. He scurried away towards the door as the others tried to push it open.

Raylon took the keys out of his pocket and shook them.

“Looks like the door is locked,” He said and dropped them to the ground by his feet, “Allow me to make you an exit.”

He marched over to the men, all of them trying to move away from him and grabbed Kevin by the shirt. He pulled him closer to glare at him for a second, then threw him against the glass door, shattering it as Kevin fell out onto the sidewalk. The other men ran out of the shop, picked Kevin up and hurried away.

Raylon turned to me, “Are you alright?” He asked as he approached.

I still felt petrified at the violence I just saw. The memories of Dave and the years of abuse I received from him paralyzing me on the vodka stained floor. When Raylon reached out to help me stand, I jerked away from him and moved my eyes down.

He took his hand away and dropped to his haunches next to me, “Ash, I give you my word, I will not allow anyone to hurt you. You are important to Connie, and therefore important to me. They are gone, and I feel confident they will not return. Once we leave, you will never need to worry about them again.”

I met his eyes and saw the sincerity in his concerned gaze that I believed. He nodded and reached his hand out to me again. I looked at it for a moment, then took it. He pulled me up with great care, and I noticed blood on my arm.

He turned it to look and with gentle fingers, he pulled out the small piece of glass embedded in my skin.

I watched him do this and smiled.

I can see why Connie loves you so much.

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