The three of us stared at Shannon. August and Geoff had identical looks of shock on their face, while my lips were turning up in a grin.
“Let’s do it.” I grinned at Shannon, her eyes sparkling with intelligence.
“Fake my death?” August sputtered, “There’s so many things that could go wrong with that.”
“We’ll plan everything out before Elena and Annalise get back.” I assured him, “Everything will be planned out.”
“First thing.” Shannon began, turning her honey eyes to Geoff. “We’re going to need your help directly. Elena and Annalise can’t see his body because there won’t be one. She thinks you’re clueless, so play the part.”
“Is this the human assistant I heard about?” Geoff turned his gaze to mine, giving Shannon a weary glance.
“I’m thinking she needs a promotion.” I mused, “But yes this is her.”
Shannon’s head lifted proudly, a confident smile on her face.
‘This could work.’ Aela grinned, ’Ton’s could go wrong, but if it works...”
I knew what Aela was implying. If it worked, August would be safe. No one would go looking for him, and we could focus on getting rid of Elena. It was a solution for only one of my many problems, but it was a start.
We spent the next hour forming a plan. It wasn’t foolproof, and there were plenty of things that could go wrong. Elena or Annalise could walk in on what was happening, they could catch us in the hallway heading back to my bedroom. Our plan had a lot of holes, but it was our safest option.
The first step in my plan was telling my Dad. I needed him as a distraction for Elena and Annalise.
‘Dad, mind if I stop by?’ I called out through the mind-link.
‘Sure, Bella.’ Dad took a few moments to answer, ‘I’m in my office.’
‘Back to working already?’ I chuckled.
‘Work never ends, Bella.’ Dad laughed, ‘Soon you’ll see that for yourself.’
Shannon, Beta Devin and I headed to my Dad’s office. Beta Devin didn’t mind waiting outside for a change. Dad told us to come in and I gestured for Shannon to follow.
My heart lurched when I noticed Uncle Jaspar standing by my Dad’s side. I tried to keep my gaze even, keeping what I knew to myself.
Uncle Jaspar had put a bounty on my head. His own niece. I grasped at straws, hoping there was some kind of mistake. The coincidences were too much to believe. In the world of Royal’s, coincidences could get you killed.
Until I knew otherwise, I couldn’t trust my own Uncle.
“Hey Dad.” I forced a grin on my face, keeping my eyes away from my Uncle.
“Bella.” Dad smiled, looking up from the large map he and Uncle Jaspar stood over.
“Having fun?” I smiled, walking over to look.
“If only.” Dad chuckled, “We’re looking over the Kingdom’s territory. Nickolai Aslanov has quite the journey ahead of him.”
Dad said the words with a slight sneer, something I instantly picked up on. I gave him a sympathetic smile but said nothing else.
“Bella, could you place this on the Aslanov Kingdom?” Dad handed me a small metal statue. I walked over to the far side of the map, right next to the Halifax Kingdom.
The Aslanov Kingdom was close to the northern edge of the Halifax’s territory.
“I’m getting word Nikolai Aslanov will be flying here, giving him an entire day before our dinner.” Dad pointed out, his eyes roaming over the map.
My interest peaked, and I let my eyes flicker over to Uncle Jaspar. I had never noticed it before, too clouded by my own emotions. Uncle Jaspar’s eyes held concealed interest. He was skilled at hiding his emotions, but not as skilled as some others I had met. Uncle Jaspar was much like my Dad, always wearing his emotions for the world to see. He wasn’t an expert at hiding them, but what did that say about me? Could he see through me as easily as I saw through him?
“What would he be doing for an entire day.” I murmured to myself. Shannon was quiet beside me, listening to the conversation intently.
“That’s what I want to find out.” Dad frowned, giving me a meaningful look. It made me feel proud how Dad accepted Shannon’s presence in the room. That meant her role in my life was slowly being accepted.
Humans rarely held high positions in the Kingdom’s. There had once been much prejudice against humans, many werewolves feeling them inferior to our way of life. Many allowed them homes inside the Kingdoms, but never gave them more than that.
Our Kingdom had been once of the first to break from that, to begin treating human’s as equals. We employed humans and werewolves for many jobs. Some were hired as gardeners or servants, others held different jobs in the community. Even with all these improvements, there had never been a human that directly aided Royals. I would be the first Alpha Queen in history, and Shannon would be the first human assistant.
“I’m going to send someone to follow Nikolai Aslanov.” Dad looked between Shannon and I, “I expect the two of you to keep this to yourselves.”
I couldn’t help but look at Uncle Jaspar and frown. Dad’s plan was already failing. He had no idea what Uncle Jaspar was doing behind the scenes. Uncle Jaspar had sold my necklace to the Aslanov’s.
‘He’s probably going to meet Nikolai.’ Aela murmured, ‘Look how invested he is in what Dad’s saying.’
Aela was right. Uncle Jaspar was hanging on Dad’s every word, whether he knew it or not. Dad’s plan was destined to fail.
“We won’t speak a word of this.” I promised.
For a moment, I had forgotten why we came here. There wasn’t a chance I’d mention our plan in front of Uncle Jaspar. If he was working with Nikolai Aslanov, then I could assume he was working with Elena Halifax as well.
“Bella, is there something you needed me for?” Dad inquired, looking up from his place on the map.
“I’ll catch up with you later.” I shook my head, pasting a false smile on my face. “I just remembered Caroline wanted to meet for lunch.”
The two of us headed back to my bedroom, feeling unsuccessful in our endeavors. Instead of sitting around moping, I sent Caroline a quick text about meeting for lunch. Her response was instant, telling us to meet her in the foyer of the mansion.
Caroline had arrived at the mansion quickly, tapping her foot impatiently as she waited for us.
“Got somewhere important to be?” I lifted my eyebrow at her.
Caroline sighed, flipping her blonde hair over her shoulder. “No, more like the opposite. Mom’s still completely overbearing. She’s taking it way too far.”
“We can talk about it over lunch.” I frowned; Caroline looked more flustered than usual. “We can head out to the gazebo.”
“Let’s eat on your balcony.” Caroline shook her head, “I need a change of scenery.”
I mind-linked one of the servants, asking them to bring a lunch cart to my bedroom. Caroline, Shannon, Beta Devin, and I walked back up to my room. Beta Devin left the three of us alone as we headed out onto the balcony. The sun shined down merrily, a cool breeze wafting in every direction. Days like today were my favorite. With everything going on, I hadn’t the time to deeply appreciate it.
I caught Jules out of the corner of my eye, bringing in the lunch cart behind her. She slipped out onto the balcony, tugging the cart along.
“Jules.” I grinned; I hadn’t seen her in quite some time. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been good, Princess.” Jules smiled, “Afraid I’ve missed quite a bit of work.”
“Why is that?” I frowned, “I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“The Alpha King had all of us interviewed.” Jules shrugged, not taking it personally. “After your birthday and all.”
“I understand.” I nodded. I should have figured Dad would have our staff questioned. “It’s good to see you again.”
“It’s good to be back, Princess.” Jules smiled softly and closed the balcony door, leaving my bedroom.
Caroline snorted, a gesture I thankfully ignored. Caroline had been in low spirits lately, making her snarky and just a tad insufferable. I couldn’t exactly blame her. Her life had been in danger two times because of me. Her Mom was practically suffocating her, forcing her to stay indoors for days at a time. Caroline didn’t handle inconveniences well; it was a miracle she hadn’t exploded on her Mom sooner.
“She needs to loosen her grip on me.” Caroline grumbled, shaking her head angrily. “I went out for coffee yesterday and she nearly had a mental breakdown.”
“She’s that bad?” Shannon frowned, biting into one of the sandwiches.
“Oh, she’s that bad.” Caroline nodded gravely, “Told me how I could’ve died, and she would have never found out.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” I frowned, “Assign you a bodyguard or something?”
“As much as I wouldn’t mind a stunningly handsome bodyguard, it’s not necessary.” Caroline shook her head, “Those men weren’t out to kill me, they were looking for you. She needs to get that through her thick head.”
“I’m sure it’ll just take some time.” I frowned. I couldn’t shake the guilt I felt. Caroline’s life was going to hell because of me. Sure, it wasn’t my fault her Mom became overbearing, but it happened at my Birthday Gala.
“I just need some time out of the house.” Caroline shook her head.
Caroline popped a strawberry into her mouth, a thoughtful expression on her face.
“I’m inviting myself over tomorrow night.” Caroline nodded, “For a good old-fashioned sleep over.”
“You are, are you?” Shannon raised her eyebrow at a sheepish looking Caroline.
“You wouldn’t mind, would you Bella?” Caroline grinned at me softly, her eyes wide and pleading.
‘Nikolai Aslanov is coming tomorrow, we don’t need to put another friend in danger.’ Aela grumbled. She had a love hate relationship with Caroline.
‘She can come over after dinner?’ I suggested, ‘Nikolai won’t be here all night. Dinner starts at six, he should be leaving around eight.’
“Of course, I don’t mind.” I smiled back at her, “Come here around eight tomorrow night.”
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