“What the hell are you doing here?” Magnus is screaming from the door.
“Working out,” I do not even look at him.
I hear Magnus sigh.
“Everyone is waiting.”
“As they should,” I punch the heavy punchbag again and again. “I am their King.”
“And that means you can be rude to everyone? Good to see that the throne is in capable hands.”
I stop and eye him. If was any other than my cousin, he would face the full extent of my wrath right now. But I owe him more than that. Besides, he is the only person I trust in this world. Him and his mate. I cannot afford to lose them.
I drop my hands and work to undo the wraps around my fingers. What I must do today has me tense and I needed a little venting. I need a little venting almost every day. Ever since the day I was caught unprepared and weak.
“Is Antiope in?” I demand.
Magnus looks at me with squinting eyes. From the moment he claimed his Luna, Magnus has been what everyone expected from an Alpha with Royal Blood. Ferociously possessive and overprotective of her and their twins.
They had a bumpy start. Well, that is the understatement of the century. I was there to witness their not-so-cute-meet-cute. But in time and Goddess really knows how, those two were revealed to be true mates and Magnus is happy man. Finally.
“Don’t give me that look, Magnus,” I hiss. “I want her to help with my decision today. I trust her instincts. Though, looking at her choices I am not so sure.”
Instead of getting pissed, Magnus cracks a light smile of both surprise and delight. Hurtful banter and trash talking was our way of showing affection after all. All that before... I swallow hard.
Before I learnt the truth about my family’s story. Before I realized that being who I am draws enemies to me like flies to shit. I always need to guard myself so that I can protect my realm, the people under my care. For that, I had to change. And change I did.
“Is she here?” I growl with Alpha command.
Magnus frowns at my imperative tone.
“You did order her, Min Kung,” Magnus bows.
There was a time I would have given him Hell for calling me that. Now, I relish at the respect. Even Magnus needs to remember that I alone am the Alpha King.
“Good,” I grab a towel. “I will get ready and we will make an appearance together.”
“Antiope is already waiting for me and-”
“Together!” I order. “I will show up with the Butcher on my side. You are the next in line for now and we need to show a united front, a union like no other. Our enemies shall know that we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Magnus imperceptivity takes one small step back away from me. I haven’t been using the full force of my power and authority to anyone, let alone my only and best friend. But now? Now it comes to me naturally. I demand respect and obedience and I will have it.
I walk out the personal gym I had built next to my room. It has changed a lot. I used to have a bar here, a comfy sofa, some other extravagant luxuries. Things that made me soft. Weak. Now, I have a simple double bed to fit me, an office, screens to watch news, a wardrobe and nothing else apart from the built-in-bathroom.
I go to the bed and look at the two suits laid there. One for before and after. Before and after I unleash the beast within me.
“I am ready,” Leif says simply.
Many have gathered just for this. It’s not often the Alpha King lets his wolf take the reins amongst others. Things might turn... ugly. For one simple reason: there is no one to stop him. Even Magnus would be facing certain death trying to stop Leif and me.
“A Queen’s Hunt,” Magnus shakes his head while I get ready. “You sure have a thing for reviving old rituals.”
“You want me to leave the decision on who will be Luna Queen to some old, toothless wolves?” I throw at him while I make for the shower shedding my clothes.
“I remember a time when you-”
“When I was a hopeless romantic who got himself captured, had his family die and almost let the fate of the realm in the hands of some lunatic!” I growl. “That foolish man is no more. I am the King and I say we are having a Queen’s Hunt tonight. The strongest and most agile, the most cunning female will stand by my side.”
Magnus looks at me sternly through the foggy glass of the shower cabin. Relax, man! I would smile at seeing him so tense. That was before. Now, his unyielding look irritates me.
“Whatever you wish, Min Kung,” he says. “You didn’t get all your family killed by the way,” I hear him murmur.
“I could dispose of him,” Leif suggests.
My eyes linger on Magnus and my anger softens. No, not all my family is gone. I still got him. And he always had my back. He will always have my back.
“No, we like him remember? And most importantly, we need him.”
“If he continues to look us in the eye, that will change rapidly.”
How things have changed. How things are as they are supposed to be now. I almost disliked Leif before. It was like having my father’s voice in my head. A ruthless, bloodthirsty animal focused on dominating. Now, I am grateful for him. He completes me and makes me stronger.
I get out, dry myself and I put on my suit while Magnus is looking out the window. I secure my engraved cufflinks and check myself in the mirror one last time. Still too young, too soft, too... good-looking, I am furious at what I am seeing.
I guess that’s what happens when your own spitting image is torturing and taunting you. Still, my “brother” looked nothing like me in a way. Yes, you were identical but still he managed to look older, harder, hardened, seasoned.
“He was fucking crazy,” Leif says.
I smirk at my reflection. Leif is right. The usurper had lived as a beast for most of his life. He was crazy. And he served his purpose. He taught me a valuable lesson.
“Let’s go! I have a Queen to find,” I say and storm out of the room.