That hour was one of the longest I’ve experienced in my short life. My brain came up with every possible scenario that left Viktor permanently wiped from my life. It was selfish to ask this of him, but he was my only hope. I couldn’t trust anyone else with the task, and I knew Viktor could come and go easily without being spotted. There was no way I’d be able to complete the task myself without getting noticed.
Viktor came silently through my bedroom door and I released a sharp breath. Viktor had come back after all. My eyes raked over his towering form, looking for any injuries. Viktor looked as good as ever, with his tousled chocolate hair and piercing eyes. It seemed as though there wasn’t a single scratch on his body.
“You underestimate me?” Viktor was the first to break the comfortable silence. His tone wasn’t mocking or condescending, simply curious.
I shook my head, “After watching you kill four guys by yourself, I think I’m past underestimating you.”
Viktor nodded, seeming pleased with my answer.
I wanted to ask about the task I had sent him on, wondering what information he might’ve picked up on his trip. I knew anything we said out loud could possibly be overheard. Shannon was right after all, there were people listening. Especially with the other Royals in our Kingdom. One could never be too safe. The Aslanov family was easily the biggest threat, with the Halifax family coming in second. While Bryton annoyed me to no end, I couldn’t possibly see him as a threat. It seemed he didn’t have the brains to plot all on his own. His gift was following orders, no matter who they come from.
Viktor left me to my thoughts for the rest of the evening.
A dinner cart was brought to my room and I devoured the food hungrily. Stress did funny things to the body. My mind ran over the details of my plan, and the potential factors that could go wrong. My mind flitted back and forth between my hastily thought out plan, and my conversation with my Uncle. I was sure he’d expect a decision tomorrow, one I was determined to come up with.
I slept well into the morning, only opening my eyes when a hasty knock sounded on my door.
“Come in.” I called out groggily, glancing at Viktor as he stepped into the room.
Shannon popped her head in my bedroom, a startled looking August behind her.
“Get in here.” Shannon hissed, yanking August in the bedroom by his wrist.
August looked at her sideways, his orange hair a mess on his head. It seems he too was ripped from sleep unexpectedly.
“Quite an assistant you have there, Princess.” August grunted, looking away from Shannon as she glared daggers at him.
“Listen here Royal boy, I’m only stuck with you cause Bella asked.” Shannon snapped, and August narrowed his eyes.
“Best friends already?” I raised my eyebrow at the two of them.
I couldn’t help but admire Shannon. Royal or not, she truly didn’t care. Shannon was all about personality and how you treat other people.
“You’re funny, Bella.” Shannon rolled her eyes, slumping down on the couch.
“How’d you manage to get him away from his family?” I frowned, my eyes flickering to a disgruntled August.
“By ripping me from my bed.” August grunted.
“And you’re damn lucky I did.” Shannon snapped, “Your Momma and sister haven’t left you alone for even a minute. You’re lucky they don’t consider me a threat.”
Shannon sounded more irritated than usual, making me wonder if she had her own conversation with some members of the Halifax family.
“Consider that a blessing.” August mumbled, “One less person to kill.”
“A blessing.” Shannon scoffed, “They think I’m some stupid little servant who happens to have a crush on the mighty Halifax heir.”
I couldn’t help the snort that came from my lips, and Shannon gave me a look that expressed the true levels of her irritability. It was kind of refreshing to find moments like this in the midst of all the deceit and chaos. Just a moment to laugh and enjoy someone else’s company. Of course, that couldn’t last forever.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s best we let them make their own assumptions.” I gave Shannon an apologetic look.
“Y’know, I’m thinking I deserve a pay raise in addition to my promotion.” Shannon huffed, crossing her arms over her chest.
“I don’t pay you though.” I chuckled, practically anticipating Shannon’s response.
“Exactly.” Shannon huffed, “If I’m gonna be in the middle of all this, I deserve a decent pay with benefits.”
“That can be arranged.” I nodded, a smile forming on my face.
Shannon wasn’t asking for much. After all, she had already done so much for me. Why couldn’t her title as assistant become permanent? I couldn’t think of anyone better to fill the spot.
“Good.” Shannon nodded, looking a little less irritable. “Now tell Bella what you told me.”
August sighed as though this entire thing inconvenienced him, but the fear was leaking through his gaze.
“My Mom and sister are up to something.” August’s eyes flickered around the room. “As I’m sure you’re already aware of.”
“I am.” I nodded, “It’s not like their exactly trying to hide it.”
“Their only acting that way with you.” August frowned. “They want your alliance. You’d be their most powerful ally.”
“I have no plan’s on letting that happen.” I assured him, “I don’t think my Dad does either.”
“They could care less for your Dad. It’s you they want.” August responded.
“Me?” I frowned.
“If they had you, another woman, they could easily be rid of their other allies.” August continued, “Your Kingdom has been the biggest for the last thousand years. You’re the first Alpha Queen in history, that mean’s something.”
“Their other allies?” I asked, ignoring the rest of what he had said.
“The Aslanov family.” August answered in a hushed tone.
I could feel Viktor stiffen beside me. I’m sure no one else noticed, but I did. Just the slightest movement gave me insight on what he truly thought of the Aslanov family.
“They were at my Gala.” I pursed my lips, “Seems like they want me on their side too.”
“Don’t underestimate that family.” August looked truly afraid, “They may only be second biggest, but they’ve been winning the game for hundreds of years. Their son’s are ruthless, but it’s not you they want. Just your land, throne, and life.”
“I’ve met the sons.” I nodded, “They can try, but they will take nothing from me.”
“I think they’ve already been trying.” August pursed his lips.
“What do you mean?” I frowned.
“A month ago I caught my Mother and sister speaking of a planned attack.” August replied, “It was orchestrated at a nightclub directly in your Kingdom.”
The night I went out with Caroline flashed into my mind. Viktor had been the only thing standing inbetween the men and I.
“I remember that.” I frowned, “They failed, and they will continue to fail.”
“I hope that for both our sake’s, Princess.” August replied, “The Aslanov family will not stop until they have what they want. They know my Mom and sister want you, and their determined not to let that happen.”
“Why do they want me?” I huffed, “Why can’t they simply be happy with what they have?”
“Spoken like someone whose never craved power.” August smiled grimly, “Those clawing for power will always crave more. It’ll never be enough.”
“You sound as though you can relate.” I pointed out.
August shook his head, “Not personally, but you’ve met my Mom and sister. I’m sure you can relate as well.”
Shannon glanced at the clock on the wall and let her eyes meet Augusts, “We need to leave. Your Mom and sister will be suspicious.”
“Wait- what were you trying to tell me earlier?” I frowned.
August turned to meet my eyes, “If anything happens to me, know my Mom and sister are responsible. Avenge my death. Never let them see the throne.”
“You have my word.” I nodded. My heart clenched at the thought of August meeting a terrible fate at the hands of his family. It was unbelievable that flesh and blood could betray eachother that way. I couldn’t imagine betraying my Father for the throne.
“Lets go.” Shannon grunted, using her fingers to rattle the curls on her head.
“What was that for?” I frowned, giving her messy hair a pointed look.
“They believe August and I-” Shannon paused, a deep grimace forming on her face.
“They believe we are sleeping together.” August rolled his eyes, strolling from my bedroom as if this entire thing was normal.
“One last thing.” Shannon murmured, her face close to my own. “I overheard your Uncle and a guard talking. They captured one of the masked men who attacked at your Gala. I think they’ve been torturing him. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but they think their really close to finding out who orchestrated the attack.”
The two of them left in a hurry, but the knot in my stomach refused to leave. I truly hoped nothing happened to August. We needed another Kingdom on our side, especially with someone like August in charge. It wasn’t a huge surprise to learn that the Aslanov family made an attempt on my life while Caroline and I were at the club. I knew from the moment I met them, that there was something shady about that family. August’s words simply confirmed my own suspicion.
Shortly after Shannon and August left, I made a visit to my Uncle.
I had finally made my decision, one I knew I wouldn’t regret. I knocked on my Uncle’s office doors and entered at the sound of his voice.
He was hunched over a pile of paperwork, his curly hair a mess on his head. I could practically feel the frustration rolling off of him in waves. It was clear him and Dad were still stressed.
“Bella.” Uncle Jaspar grinned, his eyes flickering back down to his papers. “What brings you here?”
“Well- What we talked about yesterday.” I gave a small chuckle. It wasn’t surprising Uncle had already forgotton our conversation.
Uncle’s attention was pulled from his paperwork, “You’ve thought about what I asked?”
“I have.” I nodded, “I think you might be right. I don’t want Aela at risk again.”
“It is for the best, Bella.” Uncle gave me a sympathetic smile. “It took your Mother ages to finally gain control over the necklace. ”
“I expect the necklace safely returned when the time comes.” I nodded, giving my Uncle a polite smile.
“Of course, Bella.” Uncle Jaspar’s eyes were shining with affection. “You’re strong like your Mother. I have no doubt the time will come when you are more than ready.”
I reached my hands behind my neck and unclasped the intricate jewelry that had been adorning my neck for weeks now. There was no heat, no familiar tingle emanating from the necklace. It was cold in my hands as I set it gently on Uncle Jaspar’s desk.
“Where will you keep it?” I frowned, “I don’t want anything to happen to it, especially with all these other Royal’s staying in the house.”
“It will never leave my side.” Uncle Jaspar nodded, wrapping the necklace in a thin cloth and placing it in his pocket.