Prey

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Taking Control

Leanor watched as everyone took a seat around the conference room, waiting patiently for them to settle down before she began the meeting.

To her left sat Aric, Liberty, Emily, and her guard captain, followed by several of her most vocal and fervent supporters.

To her right sat a line of Lothaire’s sycophants, nameless flunkies her husband had assigned over the years to fill in rolls he was too busy enjoying himself to take care of.

These would creatures would have to prove their loyalty to her son.

"Lord Lothaire is dead," she proclaimed, standing tall and proud, "Lord Aric in now the rightful ruler of the Northwest Territory."

"Mom," Aric hissed, his words almost lost under the outburst that followed.

Standing quickly, he press his mouth close enough to her ear so that no one else could hear.

"What the hell?" he demanded, only loud enough for her to hear. "I told you I didn't want this!"

"You don't have a choice," his mother replied through the side of her mouth, her gaze never wavering from the table in front of her. "If you refuse to take control, the territory will fall into chaos and there will be complete anarchy.

"It has to be you," she said with decisiveness, finally looking at him.

Seeing the sadness and fear in her eyes, Aric understood how difficult he had made things for her by striking the killing blow.

He'd let his rage at his father take control over his better sense.

Looking down the table at the many eyes staring up at him, Aric realized the truth of it. It was his lapse in judgement that had lead to this. He needed to face the music and accept responsibility.

Stepping back from his mother, Aric turned and assumed the most regal posture he could.

"I, Lord Aric, do hereby claim the throne of the Northwest Territory," he declared.

Reaching down, he took Liberty's hand and pulled her to his side.

"My first act is to proclaim my engagement," he declared, ignoring the look of concern that crossed his mothers face.

"My next act is to suspend all laws past by my father in the last fifty year years, up to and including the age requirements regarding slave disposition," he added.

"You all knew that Lord Lothaire was insane," he said looking at the vampires across the table, "and you did nothing! You let him pass law after law that has all but destroyed this once proud territory, while you all took advantage of his depravity to exploit your own perversions."

The supporters on his side of the table nodded in agreement. Looking back at his fathers men, he could see a few who actually seemed ashamed of what they'd allowed to happen while others look mutinous.

"Until a decision about your continued existence has been made," he ordered, "you will each be held in confinement while I consider each of you on a case by case basis."

Nodding to his men, he waited until the room was empty before collapsing into his seat.

"Why did you do that?" his mother hissed, turning angrily on him.

"Do what?" Aric asked confused. Hadn't he done what she asked? He'd stepped up and taken the crown.

"You announced your engagement to Liberty!!" she yelled, waving her arm at the young woman. "She is a former pet! And your father's plaything! You cannot make her your lady!"

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