The three of us took our time on the balcony, sitting out there for what felt like hours. Caroline clearly needed the time away from her Mom, and I was happy to oblige. We talked and laughed like we used to, like we had before all this drama started.
I couldn’t help but feel that Caroline was slowly drifting away from the two of us. I hated the feeling and wished I could suppress it but instead it remained. We had been best friends since birth, growing distant never crossed my mind before.
Around two hours later, Caroline stood from the table. Her Mom had been blowing up her cellphone, even though Caroline told her she’d be hanging out with me.
“I still have to convince her to let me leave tomorrow.” Caroline huffed, “But don’t you worry. I’ll be here tomorrow night.”
“Good.” I chuckled, “I hope your Mom relaxes a little bit.” I added the last bit in to make Caroline feel better. I’d deal with the overbearing protectiveness if it meant my Mom could come back to life. That was a trade I would take any day.
Caroline left my bedroom, leaving Shannon and I alone.
“We still need to tell your dad.” Shannon frowned. It was growing later into the afternoon. The window of time we had was growing smaller. Our plan wouldn’t be able to work without Dad’s distraction.
‘Dad?’ I called out, ‘You still busy?’
‘What’s wrong, Bella?’ Dad’s voice responded instantly.
He was sounding so much better from his bout of fatigue a few days ago. I had almost forgotten he felt sick to begin with.
‘I just needed to talk with you.’ I responded, ‘Alone preferably.’
Dad could hear the severity of my tone, and his response was instant.
‘I’m still in my office if you want to stop by. I had to send your Uncle on an errand.’
‘We’ll be there in five!’ I stood from the chair and ended the mind-link.
Beta Devin waited patiently outside of Dad’s office. Shannon and I stood side by side, ready to explain our plan to my Dad.
“So, I made plans with August Halifax.” I kept my tone light. My skin was still crawling as I thought of Uncle Jaspar and the danger he might pose.
“You have?” Dad lifted his eyebrow. Instead of saying anything more, Dad slid a pen and paper towards me. He mouthed the word ‘write’ and shoved the pen in my direction.
“Is someone listening?” I kept my voice quiet.
“I don’t think so.” Dad’s smile was wary, “But one can never be too careful.”
It was almost humorous how Dad was more paranoid than I, and yet I knew his brother was a traitor. How Uncle Jaspar had hid under my Dad’s radar for so long was beyond me. Perhaps Uncle Jaspar had never slipped up before, not until now.
Instead of commenting, I grabbed the pen and paper. I kept my words short and to the point.
‘Going to fake August’s death. His Dad is in on the plan. We need you to distract Elena and Annalise. Come up with something to bring them to your office, I’ll handle the rest.’
Dad read the note, his eyebrows lifting in surprise.
“Will this work, Bella?” His voice was hushed, his eyes regarding me in a different light.
“It will.” I nodded, becoming more confident in my plan. I couldn’t hold onto negativity and fear. Doubt was contagious, seeping out into the world and sabotaging what it could. I wouldn’t let my own doubt ruin our plans. Come tonight, August Halifax would be safe.
“Then I will do my part.” Dad nodded, his eyes filling with pride as he looked at his only child.
“There is one more thing I need to let you know.” I gave Dad a grin.
I took the pen in my hand once more, writing my last bit of information on the page.
‘Viktor’s coming tonight. He’ll be taking August away. Get the guards to leave their post, just for an hour to avoid suspicion.’
Dad’s eyes ran over what I had just written.
“That’s risky, Bella.” Dad murmured, “If he’s caught, I won’t be able to help.”
“He won’t be.” I shook my head. Even if I doubted my own plans, I was confident in Viktor. He would get away safely, I was sure of it.
Dad read over the entirety of what I had written one last time before tossing the piece of paper into his lit fireplace. The flames crackled as they devoured the paper.
“Bella?” Dad called out as Shannon and I were about to leave. “I have a question of my own, if you don’t mind.”
Dad’s eyes were twinkling, flashing back to the past as he remembered his own youth.
“What is it?” I frowned. I recognized the look in his eyes. Any time he thought of Mom, his eyes would glaze over. He’d remember their long, but much too short marriage.
“Do you intend on letting Viktor rule by your side?” Dad questioned, “There is much you don’t know about the man.”
I paused for a moment, genuinely thinking over my Dad’s question. It wasn’t hard for me to answer. I had already made my decision. Viktor earned my trust, whether he knew it or not.
“Then I will let him tell me.” I nodded, positive in my decision. “But yes Dad, Viktor will rule by my side.
Shannon and I went back to my bedroom, a place we had been spending far too much time in. I promised myself that once this was all over with, Shannon and I would be going to the mall. As materialistic as it sounded, I wanted some way to repay Shannon for everything she had done. Naming her my assistant didn’t feel like a good enough reward, it felt like a formality. Shannon had always been by my side. In truth, she had always been my assistant.
“I sure hope Caroline doesn’t sneak out tomorrow night.” Shannon shook her head, “Gonna give her Momma a heart attack.”
“I think her Mom’s going to have one regardless.” I shook my head.
“You’re right.” Shannon nodded, flashing me a look. “Now go talk to Viktor already, I can tell you want to.”
My face filled with blush at Shannon’s words. I had spent the day thinking about Viktor, eager for the next time I could speak with him.
“I’ll be out soon.” I grinned sheepishly at Shannon, not even trying to deny the truth.
“Take your time.” Shannon called out, “I could use a long nap.”
I scoffed at my tired friend and went into the bathroom. My routine was the same as Shannon’s. I placed some bath oil into the hot water, inhaling deeply as I tried to get Viktor’s earthy scent just right. The body wash Shannon stole from his old room helped, reminding me of how he smelled the night I snuck into his room.
‘We should’ve just jumped in his pants then and there.’ Aela groaned, pining for her mate.
‘I’m beginning to agree with you.’ I mumbled, stripping my clothes from my body.
It was easy to push those kinds of thoughts from my head when Viktor wasn’t here. I had almost forgotten what we had done in the dark, back when his identity was a secret. It seems he was battling with his own self back then, fighting the urge to claim his mate. I only wished he had done so sooner, but I was also to blame. The signs were in front of my face, all of which I had written off.
When I sank into the bathtub and closed my eyes, it wasn’t Viktor’s face I pictured.
I pictured the way his hands felt against my skin, igniting the sparks that licked down my body. His husky smell swirled in my mind, coupled by the scent of his hot breath as it fanned across my face. The way his mouth felt on my sensitive flesh, his tongue lapping at me hungrily.
I was so lost in my own memories, that I hadn’t noticed the connection between Viktor and I forming.
‘Bella.’ Viktor growled, his voice calling out in my mind. For just a second, I had forgotten what I was doing. ‘Now is not the best time to have those thoughts.’
Viktor’s emotions swirled through my body. His passion was raw and untamed, new to even him. He had felt lust in the past, but nothing like this. His lust threatened to consume me, begging to take me without mercy.
‘Bella.’ Viktor repeated, I was being sucked into his own emotions.
‘Sorry.’ I smiled sheepishly, pushing those tempting thoughts from my mind. ‘I can’t help it.’
‘Calm your mind.’ Viktor grunted.
I could feel his willpower flicker, his wolf clawing at his mind. He was fighting against his own temptation. I could feel what he wanted, his own thought flitting into my head. He wanted to climb into my bedroom window a few hours early, using that extra time to explore my body. He wanted to make me scream, to see the bliss on my face under his touch.
I stifled my own thoughts. As much as I wanted the same thing, it was a risk neither could afford. August’s and Viktor’s life hinged on tonight, and I was willing to risk neither.