“You have to tell your Dad.” Shannon grimaced as the two of us sat on my bed.
“I don’t want to.” I shook my head stubbornly, knowing what had to be done.
Shannon rolled her eyes, “You knew beforehand you’d have to tell him. Don’t chicken out now.”
“I’m about to tell the Alpha King a man he hates is coming to dinner tomorrow.” I pursed my lips, “He’s not going to be happy.”
“And you’re not just anybody. You’re his daughter.” Shannon frowned, “Just be honest with him.”
“You’re right.” I admitted reluctantly, “Let’s do this.”
‘Dad?’ I called out in the mind-link.
‘Hey, Bella.’ Dad’s response was instant. Judging from the sound of his voice, he was feeling much better.
‘How’re you feeling?’ I smiled.
‘Much better.’ Dad chuckled, ‘I guess I could use another one of these days off pretty soon.’
‘I think so too.’ I replied, ‘Mind if I stop by?’
‘Not at all.’ Dad chuckled, ‘I’m in my suite, have Beta Devin follow.’
‘Be there in five.’ I forced my tone to sound care-free, when really I was a mess of nerves.
I ended the mind-link and grimaced. I’d be ruining his good mood and his first day off in years. Did I really do the right thing?
‘You and Shannon were right.’ Aela frowned, ‘You can’t get proof when they’re not here.’
Shannon, Beta Devin and I walked over to Dad’s suite. I knocked once and opened the door at the sound of his voice.
“You’re coming in with me.” I whispered to Shannon.
“No way.” Shannon shook her head.
“Too late.” I grinned, grabbing her hand to pull her in the room.
Shannon stuck her elbow in my side, making me grimace. Dad looked at the two of us, a suspicious look on his face.
Dad was looking much better. The dark circles around his eyes were nearly gone. His face had a healthy glow that eased my stomach.
“What happened?” Dad’s dark eyebrow lifted, his face growing stern.
“Nothing happened.” I stammered, shaking my head. “There’s just something I need to tell you.”
“Alright.” Dad replied slowly, sinking into his chair. His full attention was on me. “Go ahead.”
“So.” I started, “You know how Shannon said one of the shooters mentioned Nikolai Aslanov?”
“I do.” Dad nodded, waiting for me to get to the point.
“Well, I want proof.” I pursed my lips, “And I can’t get that proof with him at his Kingdom.”
“You didn’t.” Dad pinched the bridge of his nose.
“It’s just for dinner.” I rushed the words out of my mouth, “Just a couple hours. We’ll survive it.”
“Just for dinner?” Dad shook his head, “Bella, even if the Aslanov’s are behind the attack, why would you invite them to dinner?”
“Because we need proof.” I huffed, “We’ll have a better chance if he’s actually here.”
“Is the entire family coming?” Dad scowled.
“No.” I shook my head, “I only invited Nikolai.”
“When is he coming?” Dad sighed.
“Three days from now, six o’clock.” I nodded, “That gives us tonight, and all of tomorrow to plan his arrival.”
“Very well.” Dad nodded stiffly, “I will trust you with this, Bella. But next time, please talk to me before you make these decisions.”
“I am sorry.” I frowned. I hated disappointing my Dad. “It was a spur of the moment idea.”
“I understand.” Dad sighed, “You’ll be in charge soon, and I’ll no longer be able to tell you what to do. All I can say is, sometimes it’s wise to listen to the opinions of others. Especially those with more experience.”
“I will Dad, I promise.” I nodded.
After wrapping my arms around my Dad and squeezing tightly, Shannon and I headed back to my bedroom.
“You need to try and talk to Viktor again.” Shannon spoke the minute we made it to the bedroom.
“I know.” I sighed, hoping it would go better than last time. I had much more to worry about now, and the last thing I wanted was another horrendous fantasy with Nikolai Aslanov.
“Can you show me what stuff you put in the bath last time?” I grinned cheekily at Shannon who chuckled and rolled her eyes.
Once the bath was all set up, I stripped my clothes off and got in.
I positioned the pillow exactly right and leaned my head against it, focusing on letting go of my stress.
It was a little easier this time. My mind drifted peacefully, the hot water easing some of the tension in my body.
Viktor’s face had come to mind effortlessly. His deliciously tousled chocolate hair, his obsidian eyes, and the full lips I had only been able to see twice. I remembered how they felt against my own, how the emotion behind his kiss touched my soul.
The snap of the mate-bond was audible, clicking into place. I could feel it, as though it were a tangible chord that spanned from Viktor to me. It was a brilliant white thread, able to span the world if need be.
‘Viktor?’ I reached out with my mind.
I thought of the first time I got to feel his skin on mine, the delicious sparks that caressed my skin.
‘Bella?’ Viktor’s voice was small, yet my entire body shivered with pleasure. ‘Is that you?’
I lingered on the way his voice sounded. Rough and husky, but full of emotion. His voice grew a little louder.
A hazy image popped into my head. It looked like I was watching it through an old television. The picture was filled with static and random blurs.
I was outside of a building, standing in a damp alleyway. My eyes were looking down at my feet. The lifeless body of a man lay on the ground, blood staining my hands.
It took me a few seconds to realize this was what Viktor was seeing.
‘It me. I’m here.’ I breathed, smiling as I heard his voice in my head.
‘I tried to make the connection sooner, but I’ve been busy.’ Viktor’s voice held guilt. The picture moved as he averted his eyes from the body, clearly not wanting me to see it.
‘What happened?’ I asked, ‘Who is the man?’
I tried to keep my voice calm, trying to let him know he could show me. I trusted Viktor and knew he wouldn’t kill someone if he didn’t have to.
‘Black-market dealer.’ Viktor grunted, ‘Your Uncle sold the necklace to someone. Someone pretty high up from the looks of it.’
My horror made the connection waver, my mind flitting to Uncle Jaspar. I reminded myself to stay focused, there were things I needed to say to Viktor.
‘Where is it going?’ I frowned, forcing back the tidal wave of emotions.
‘The Aslanov’s Kingdom.’ Viktor grimaced, and I could feel his own personal hatred flaring to life. Viktor hated the Aslanov Family more than I could imagine. I had never felt such hatred before. His was a constant fire burning in his heart, fueled by memories he kept hidden.
‘Why would it go there?’ I thought to myself.
‘From the looks of it, it’s being sold to someone pretty high up.’ Viktor grunted, ‘One guess on who that might be.’
‘Nikolai.’ The word slipped from my mind without hesitation.
I was becoming distracted, thoughts pelting my mind like a hurricane. Uncle Jaspar had sold the necklace. It was a fake, but that didn’t matter. He told me he’d keep it safe for me, yet it was now heading into the Aslanov Kingdom.
‘Viktor!’ I called out, wincing as the connection wavered again.
My head was beginning to throb, and I knew I was at the end of my rope.
‘Can you hear me?’ I called out again.
The picture in my mind had gone blank, nearly scaring me half to death.
‘I can hear you, little Princess.’ Viktor responded, making my heart flutter. ‘You are exhausted, go to sleep.’
‘I can’t.’ I shook my head, ‘There’s one last thing I need from you, and I’m sorry to ask so much.’
‘Never apologize, little Princess.’ Viktor shook his head, his voice soft. ‘I would do anything for you.’
His accent was one of the things I missed the most. Rough, guttural and sexy.
‘I need you to come back to the house tomorrow night, undetected.’ I grimaced, hating having to ask more of him. ‘We need to get August Halifax out at all costs. Their family is leaving in three days. August will be dead after that.’
‘I will try, little Princess.’ Viktor nodded, ‘Where would you have us meet?’
‘I can’t leave the house but if you can make it to my bedroom window, I’ll let you in.’ I replied.
The two of us were rushing the words out, unable to get enough of each other’s voice. The connection continued to waver, but we tried to make the most of it.
‘I will try. Divert some of the guards on your side of the house.’ Viktor grunted, ‘This will help. I hope to see you tomorrow, my little Princess.’
‘Tomorrow.’ I breathed, capturing his voice in my memory. ‘Midnight.’
‘Midnight.’ Viktor repeated, the connection breaking.