"Back up!" The airport security guard thrust his hands forward, chest puffed and back straight as he advanced forward, creating a path for us to follow. His hollering blended in with the noises of the many excited paparazzi surrounding us, the bright flashes from cameras leaving me no choice but to stare down at the floor in an attempt to shield my eyes from the glares.
Xerxes' hand traveled from my back to my waist in a secure hold as we advanced hurriedly to the exit. Harold was unbothered by the attention and instead, seemed to revel in it, answering a few questions tossed his way.
My teeth clenched together as he responded to some questions about my personal life. Xerxes didn't seem pleased either and leveled him with a stare, one that had Harold shutting his mouth quickly.
A vehicle provided by Arthur Swiss was waiting for us once we exited the airport, and the noise behind us died away as the reporters became more interested in another highroller. Nonetheless, Xerxes kept his arm around me until we reached the parked vehicle. I got inside, catching my breath and rubbing sweaty palms on my jeans.
When we finally reached the house which Arthur had been kind enough to allow to stay in during our time here, I was not expecting the many werewolves standing on the lawn, others leaving and entering the house. Night was approaching and most of the women who wandered out of the home wore what looked like satin nightgowns, faces full of makeup. The men were dressed a bit too...fancy. The clothes they wore gave the impression that they were attending some sort of masquerade or ball, which instantly had both Harold and I confused.
There were no smiles in greeting, no words exchanged between myself and them. Disdain and what looked like utter revulsion wrinkled the faces of the werewolves when our gazes met, the crowd parting as if by me merely brushing by them, would make them catch some dangerous incurable disease.
But once Xerxes, Flynn and Penelope emerged from the vehicle, faces lit up with excitement, curiosity. Lips which had initially been pursed at the sight of me and Harold were curved into smiles, a handful of men and women walking forth to greet the newcomers. Handshakes were exchanged and the sound of laughter floated in the cold air.
Harold and I stood from afar, watching the interaction. Fingers clenched tightly against the metal handle of my suitcase when I saw that the others had clearly forgotten about us, as they became lost in conversation.
"Maybe we should find our rooms." I suggested, already turning. Harold followed me into the home, where an elderly woman waited by the door. She smiled politely as she inhaled our scents.
"You two must be Rebecca and Harold. My name is Destiny Iniss." She told us. I grinned tiredly, glancing down at the paper in her frail hand. Chimes could be heard somewhere in the house and the smell of something delicious baking caused my mouth to water. The bright chandelier above lit up the entire area where we stood and my eyes roamed, examining a few pictures, the thick red carpet beneath us and the neutral colored walls.
"Yes. Will you be showing us where we'll be sleeping?" Harold's words were rushed, voice coated with deep impatience. The woman's face remained soft and sweet as she faced him.
"Please follow me." She told us. It took us a total of ten minutes until we were reached our room. There were many hallways we walked through and passed by many closed bedroom doors and seating areas.
A woman moved towards me, the smell of baked goods increasing as a tray was shoved under my nose, cupcakes sprinkled with chocolate frosting resting on it. The young lady serving it offered one, which I gladly accepted.
The room I was directed to afterwards was much larger than what I had predicted, the carpet soft under my feet as I crossed the room, shoving my suitcase to the side and running my hands along the quilt of the king sized bed. Destiny waited expectantly by the doorway when I eventually faced her.
"I believe Xerxes will be joining you soon." She chirped, ignoring the piercing glare from the antsy Harold, who was still waiting to be walked to his own room.
"Joining me?" I questioned, blinking slowly. Destiny nodded.
"Arthur knew you two were mates, so he arranged that you both share a room." She paused, looking a bit confused. "That shouldn't be a problem, right?"
"No." Xerxes entered the room, his large bulk blocking the view of Harold, who I heard let out a long, exasperated sigh. Destiny's cheeks flushed. She bowed low and excused herself.
"Had fun talking to your friends?" I drawled to Xerxes, crouching to my suitcase and unzipping it. His footsteps echoed as he came to stand behind me once I straightened, looking at him over my shoulder.
Taking a few steps away from him, I watched as his expression morphed from uncertainty to annoyance as I created some distance between us.
"They were acquaintances, not friends." Xerxes said, shoving his large coat off, tossing it behind me and onto the bed. "Why the attitude?"
Shaking my head, I gathered the clothes that I would be sleeping in. I knew that more than likely, the werewolves would be more welcoming towards Xerxes and his Beta, than Harold and myself. But the blatant way they showed that only increased my frustration on how most of the high-ranking werewolves regarded humans.
"Nothing," I answered, not allowing myself to stare into Xerxes' searching eyes for too long. "I just noticed that your...acquaintances weren't so happy to see Harold or I."
I passed him before he could say anything, slinging a towel over my shoulder and walking into a room, which I hoped was the bathroom. Once I switched on a light, I sighed in relief at the sight of the shower and bathtub.
A long, blissful, hot shower was needed. Perhaps that would put my underlying anger at bay.
The morning the next day was chaotic. I was still half asleep when I reached the kitchen, my long pajama pants dragging against the floor as I shuffled over to a counter, only to release a pained groan when an elbow jerked into my stomach.
A female reached across, lifting a waffle with a fork and placing it on her plate.
"Well aren't you just peachy." I muttered, watching her walk away. Sighing, I rubbed on my sore skin and took up a plate of my own, taking up some waffles for myself and moving on to a couple fruits resting in a bowl. My lips pressed together tightly as I saw how many women and men enter and leave the kitchen, other milling around and admiring the food.
Despite there being many persons in the kitchen, I found it easy to leave. They were all grudgingly swift to make space for me as I walked by. Once again, frustration began creeping in and I stilled, inhaling deeply, my eyes moving to the full dining room. Looks of warning were sent my way and I rolled my shoulders, debating whether or not to sit with the werewolves or retreat to my room.
A decision was made for me, however, when Xerxes stood from the table, silence falling over the room.
"Join us, Becca." He smiled cautiously, as if expecting me to deny his request. A lady, with thick red hair and deep blue eyes leaned back in her chair, arms folded.
"You are inviting your maid to eat with us?" She giggled softly, which only earned her a growl of warning from Xerxes. I tilted my head, assessing her silently. Most of these werewolves knew who I was to Xerxes and I knew she had only spoken those words in an attempt to make me either uncomfortable or insulted.
"I'd love to join you." I spoke through gritted teeth to Xerxes, maintaining eye contact with the woman whose smile had now disappeared, her frown growing when I seated myself beside Xerxes.
No one spoke for a couple minutes, tension crackling in the air as I began eating.
"So, Rebecca." A man spoke from the opposite end of the long table. "How are you enjoying your stay here so far?"
I swallowed the tasty waffle, dabbing at my lips with a napkin. "It's been wonderful. You all sure do know how to make a girl feel comfortable." My sarcasm was not missed. The man's expression mirrored the blue eyed woman's.
"We were not expecting you." The man said. "And many of us are, as you can see, not pleased by you being here."
Xerxes fork clattered loudly against his platter, silver eyes narrowing onto the man. "Watch your mouth, Nicholas." He spat, his body stiffening in his seat. Nicholas' head bowed slightly, although the contempt in his eyes remained.
I chuckled lowly, arching a brow high at the now silent glowering werewolf, deciding to carry on our little spat. My body leaned forward as I spoke to this Nicholas, "Then I guess it's a good thing I don't give a flying f-"
"Well look at all of these lovely faces!" A deep voice thundered, the sound making me recoil in surprise. Heads turned as a man walked inside, his long white hair tumbling down his shoulders, his strides confident and strong. His smile grew as his eyes landed on Xerxes.
"How was your flight?" He asked, arms outstretched. Xerxes stood, giving him a warm hug, giving him some response which I couldn't hear as a result of them walking away, to stand at the doorway of the dining room.
Nicholas' head immediately jerked up at their departure, his fingers clenching into fists as he snarled, "It would be in your best interest, Rebecca, that you keep your sly comments to yourself. The Alpha won't always be able to protect you whilst you are here, little human."
"I don't need his protection, little wolf boy." My words carried a dry, taunting tone and I watched as anger hardened his features. He had a short temper and I was prepared when he struck, a glass tossed by my plate, crashing into pieces and sprinkling onto the floor. When he launched, I jerked backwards, falling out of my chair and onto the tiled floor.
His heavy weight crushed my body and I groaned, my back burning. With a twist of my hips he turned slightly, and I managed to sit up, fist slamming hard into his face, blood cascading down his mouth. He healed quickly, but appeared dazed and I pushed the rest of his body off me completely, standing and preparing my stance for any of his possible attacks.
Hands grabbed at me and Nicholas, dragging us apart. Somewhere in the room, I could hear the booming noise of Xerxes' voice as my chest heaved, inhaling deeply and exhaling. Blood trickled down my neck and into the cotton material of my shirt.
I managed to see Xerxes minutes later, after the werewolves who had stepped in to break up the fight released me. Silver eyes were glittering dangerously as his thick hand grasped Nicholas' shoulder, whispering harsh words which I couldn't pick up.
Something damp pressed against my skin, halting the dripping of my blood and I stared into deep black eyes.
"And you must be Rebecca." The white-haired man who had greeted Xerxes said. His hand pressed the cloth harder and I winced.
"The name is Arthur." He continued, his eyes drifting to stare where his hand rested. "Arthur Swiss."
My lips twisted into a humourless smile. "Nice to meet you."
Arthur and I watched a seething Xerxes storm into his office, the door slamming shut behind him, pictures rattling on the walls.
"Perhaps it would have been best that you stayed back home, Rebecca. Unwanted stress has grown amongst some of the people here." Xerxes finally spoke after sitting in one of Arthur's comfortable chairs.
My eyes narrowed. "Perhaps." I bit out. "However, your acquaintances will need to learn how to live amongst humans like myself, because I can guarantee that they are many who won't put up with their shitty attitudes."
There was a low growl, but Xerxes said nothing else. Arthur sighed, lifting a bottle of brandy to his lips and taking several long, gulps. My eyes dropped to Arthur's desk, taking in the many papers, a couple small bowls filled with skittles and a map resting on his desk. Arthur looked towards me when I reached forward to scoop up some of the sweets.
"How is that neck?" He questioned, glancing at the bloody napkin which now rested on my lap. Xerxes eyes lifted towards me, a hint of bewilderment settling in their vibrant gaze. Thick lashes lowered as he glanced down to the soaked red paper. His once agitated expression disappeared, easily being replaced by one which was more feral, dangerous.
Neither Arthur and I were expecting him to suddenly leave, his movements so swift that it appeared as if he was a blur. The door remained open after he left, the chattering noises of werewolves outside drifting into the room.
I glanced towards the clock and stood, chewing on one of the skittles. "I believe you are hosting a meeting in a couple minutes." I said to Arthur, who nodded, his hands straightening his slightly creased shirt.
"Indeed. Will you be joining us?" He asked softly, putting away his bottle. I scoffed at the question.
"No. I need to...unpack a few things."
Arthur hummed, his eyes following me as I left to go upstairs.
For most of the morning, I stayed in my room, plaiting my hair and watching television. A maid passed by to clean the room and I immediately perked up to assist her, but she was quick to refuse my help. So instead I watched from a distance, perched on a wooden table and pushing my plaited hair away from my face and into a high bun.
"Would you like anything to eat? I can have the cook make you anything you desire." The maid, Gabrielle, told me after smoothing out my pillow.
My mind went blank and I wanted to smack myself. There'd been so many times that I had fantasized about food I would eat if I had the chance, and now that I actually did, I couldn't name one dish.
"Um...how about you tell the cook to surprise me, I guess..." My voice trailed off, but Gabrielle didn't appear unhappy about my slightly confusing answer. She nodded politely and departed.
Noon soon approached and I had finished up the delicious meal that was given to me a few hours after the maid had left. After I walked downstairs to wash up my empty plate, my body stiffened at the sight of a woman, a woman I instantly recognized. Hate flooded my body as I neared her, the plate I held slamming hard onto the table which she stood by.
Her body shifted, her head lifting slowly, her silver eyes, so much like her son's gleaming as she looked me over, before settling on my face. Lips twisted into a harsh smile as she spoke, "Hello, Rebebcca."
Hope you enjoyed the chapter. 💕