One Month Later
I stood in front of my floor length mirror, my eyes narrowing suspiciously at the dress that flowed down my body. A nearly endless sea of deep green silk rolled down my body, my hair rippled down my back in dark waves.
Dad wanted to call the stylists for today’s events, but I refused. My stomach was a cocoon of nerves and knots. The last thing I wanted was a team of people fluttering around me. I had Shannon do my make-up, her steady hands putting my eyeliner on effortlessly.
“The dress looks amazing.” Shannon nodded, giving it a long look as I stood in front of the mirror.
“You’re only saying that because you picked it out.” I chuckled, giving her a playful eyeroll.
“And I did a damn good job.” Shannon huffed, fixing the straps of her own dress.
A wave of calming energy washed over me as Viktor stepped out of the bathroom. His chocolate hair was tousled, begging to have my fingers run through it. His suit was entirely black, clinging to his large form. While my eyes were locked on him, his dark ones roamed the length of my dress. A blush stained my cheeks as Shannon cleared her throat uncomfortably.
“If you don’t mind—I’ll be out in the hallway.” Shannon’s bright gaze flickered between the two of us, “Don’t take forever, your Dad will be pissed if you’re late.”
The moment Shannon left the room, I was scooped into Viktor’s arms. He had resumed being my bodyguard, even though he was so much more.
I hadn’t pushed Viktor about his past, letting him tell me as he’s ready. He had mentioned his childhood with Nikolai and their younger brother, telling me it was not pleasant. Viktor had renounced his place on the throne, exiled from the Kingdom by Nikolai himself. I could tell he wasn’t ready to give me more, and so I waited.
Viktor allowed me to see a side of himself he kept from others. The trained and hardened killer had a soft spot for only me, his mate.
My lips met Viktor’s feverishly, reveling in the softness of his lips. Our tongues met softly, entangling one another. While I tried to keep my fingers from Viktor’s hair, I ultimately failed.
“Little Princess.” Viktor chuckled lowly, “We are going to miss your coronation.”
“I’m sure they can finish without me.” I murmured against his lips.
Viktor’s eyes darkened, but his smirk remained. “I’m afraid I will be blamed if you’re late.”
I moaned against his lips in frustration, giving him a pout before he set me on my feet.
“You’ll have to find something else to call me once this is finished.” I flashed Viktor a grin, my arms still wrapped around Viktor’s neck.
“You’ll still be my little Princess.” Viktor chuckled, “That will not change.”
* * * * *
The ballroom was packed, filled to the brim. Guards stood at each window, looking over the crowd. There were more people here than on my birthday.
Dad was standing on a low platform, his eyes facing the crowd. I could see the vein protruding in his neck, frustration and nerves rolling from him in waves. Shannon and Viktor had to leave my side, standing just below my Dad. I looked over the balcony, my eyes scanning the crowd.
Swallowing my nerves, I walked down the stairs. I kept my mind busy as hundreds of curious eyes fell on me. I could feel Viktor’s eyes on me as I came down the stairs, his eyes were the only ones that relaxed me.
I took my place on the low platform with my Dad. There was still tension in his eyes as he looked at me, but he seemed otherwise relieved. While my Coronation would only happen once in my life, it was my Mom who enjoyed these kinds of events. She loved planning everything out, designing the ballroom for the entire night. She was supposed to plan my Coronation, an event she would never get to see.
Dad launched into his speech; my stomach twisted in knots at each word. Everything would change after today. Aela and I would be bigger targets than ever, an entire Kingdom under our rule. Dad would provide help as always, but the blame and glory were on me.
Viktor’s dark eyes stilled the torment within me, peering into my soul as though he knew how I felt. I wondered if Viktor had ever made it to his own coronation. I tried to imagine Viktor in my place, a crown on his head as he was named King. A sour taste filled my mouth as I envisioned Nikolai standing at his side, his younger brother.
I was ripped from my thoughts as the crowd of people erupted in cheers, the room filling with heavy claps. I reluctantly tore my eyes away from Viktor’s, facing the crowd of people who came today.
I could make out August Halifax’s mop of red hair, stylishly parted to the side. A smile formed on his face as we locked eyes, his Dad standing by his side. I wasn’t surprised to see Annalise Halifax missing, August had her on a tight leash after what had happened. August had kept in touch, giving me detailed updates on everything happening in his Kingdom. He was finally able to take the throne, his Dad proud at his side.
“As kindhearted, brave, and strong as her Mother.” Dad continued, making my heart flutter from the praise. “My daughter will usher in a new era as the first Alpha Queen.”
Dad motioned for me to step forward, standing in the middle of the small platform. We didn’t have a throne like you’d see in the movies. Throne’s were impractical and useless. My Dad was far too busy to lounge on a throne.
Dad lifted an intricate crown off a white pillow. The gold on the crown reflected the sun beautifully, casting rays of yellow around the room. The crown reminded me of the strange necklace that rested around my throat. Green gem’s glittered on the crown, sparkling merrily in the sunlight. The crown was mostly for show, a symbol of my rule. I would wear it when going to other Kingdoms but would rarely wear it in my own. Crowns were used for formal events and Royal visits.
My necklace had stayed cold for the entire month, never one heating. If I tried hard enough, I could’ve believed I had imagined the entire thing. Uncle Jaspar wasn’t a traitor, and Caroline wasn’t dead. Viktor stood off the platform to my side, reminding me something good had come of this entire ordeal.
The moment Dad placed the crown on my head, the entire room went silent. I watched Dad’s mouth open as he said something to the crowd, but I heard nothing. I was lost in my own mind. Placing the crown on my head was the end of the ceremony, the part where I was named Alpha Queen. The crown felt cool on my head, heavy as the responsibility now fell on my shoulders.
A knowing pair of dark eyes gazed at me from the side. Viktor stood silently, the whisper of a smile forming on his full lips. Viktor had a way of seeing right through me. I wasn’t sure if that was the mate-bond at work or not. His eyes were dark and intelligent, reading the surprised look on my face.
My ears weren’t successfully working again until my Dad pulled me into a hug. His arms were tight around me, a wide grin on his handsome face.
My stomach turned as it was my turn to speak to the crowd. I had been practicing for this moment my entire life, but that never prepared me for the real thing. I was capable enough to mask my nerves, letting my lips turn up in a smile.
Dad had gone over this part of the ceremony with me since I was seven. This was where I chose my Beta, and a Royal Adviser. I couldn’t help but remember how Uncle Jaspar served as one of Dad’s Royal Advisers. In our Kingdom, each new ruler can pick their own Beta. I could choose to keep Beta Devin, or name someone else. Luckily, it was an easy decision.
“I name Devin Woods as my Beta.” I stilled my nerves, hoping my voice would come out strong.
Some of the men in the crowd looked a little disappointed, but all clapped politely. Beta Devin smiled and gave me thanks before taking his place beside me. The knot in my stomach slowly unwound as I remembered what to say next.
“I name Shannon Adam’s as Royal Advisor.” My voice rang out into the confused crowd. “I also name my Dad as Royal Advisor.”
A knowing smile passed Dad’s face as we locked eyes. My Dad would help me rule, just as his Dad did. Shannon looked stunned; her lips parted in shock. I wanted to laugh at how quickly a determined look came over her face. Shannon came onto the small platform, standing near Beta Devin. Her chin was held high, but a smug smile was on her lips.
Shannon had taken the position long before my Coronation had been planned. She had stood by my side through everything, helping me along the way.
The entire ceremony had felt like hours, even if I only heard half of the words. After the ceremony finished, the rest of the night wasn’t as stressful. My Coronation was much like my Birthday Gala—minus the masked men trying to kill me. Everyone mingled and danced, copious amounts of food and drink were circling the room on platters.
Much like my Birthday Gala, all the attention was on me. At least the men weren’t trying to date me, that was an improvement. My heart thundered every time someone congratulated me, a smile working its way to my face.
I scanned my eyes around the crowded ballroom looking for an alluring set of dark eyes. Shannon and I had gotten separated from Viktor after the ceremony, and I had been looking for him ever since.
“You look like you spaced out a couple times during the ceremony.” Shannon chuckled, sipping at her champagne as she gave me an amusing smile.
“I did space out.” I nodded, chuckling with her. “It’s all a little overwhelming.”
“Tell me about it.” Shannon chuckled, “Let me know when were talking about my Holiday Bonus, because I didn’t forget about that.”
“How about a suite for you and your Mom?” I smirked, “And your own office, of course.”
Shannon lifted her dark eyebrow, “Does it have a nice bathtub?”
“The same as mine.” I smirked, thinking back on the number of times Shannon pined for my bathtub.
“When will it be ready?” Shannon’s lips twitched into a smile.
“It’ll be ready tomorrow.” I grinned. Dad had been the one who suggested the idea. We had the suite remodeled for Shannon and Sheila.
“Thanks, Bella.” Shannon smiled, her golden eyes glistening suspiciously.
A pair of dark eyes met my own through the crowd, a grin forming on my face as I finally found Viktor. Discomfort filled his eyes as two women approached him, each speaking very animatedly in his direction. Jealousy surged through me, but Viktor’s dark eyes put a halt to the emotion. With little more than a word to the two women, Viktor turned his back and walked over to me.
“Little Princess.” Viktor murmured, a smirk forming on his face as he read the heat in my eyes.
“You’re already popular.” I smirked, my eyes flickering over to the two women. Each gaped at me, their lips parted in shock.
Viktor wouldn’t be crowned until we married someday. We didn’t want to rush the inevitable, determined to enjoy every moment of our relationship. In truth, I wanted to know Viktor more before taking that step.
“Jealousy suits you.” Viktor smirked, running his hand along my reddened cheek. “Come with me.”
Shannon gave me an encouraging grin as Viktor took my hand in his own. I followed Viktor through the ballroom, even passing my Dad at one point. The stress from Uncle Jaspar’s betrayal was still etched onto his face, but his eyes didn’t look as haunted as they once had. We were both slowly healing. There would be scars, but that was inevitable.
Viktor led me to the backdoor, pulling me out onto the patio. There were some guests out here, walking through the garden. With Shannon’s help, Dad had completely remodeled the garden for my Coronation. Dangling lights hung on tree’s, looking like bright fireflies. Intricate fountains were sprawled out in the garden, trickling water sounding from every direction. The flowers were lit by the hanging lights. Hues of pink, purple, and yellow danced throughout the garden.
Viktor led me over to the gazebo, a place attached to many fond memories. Nearly all those memories involved Caroline, sending an ache throughout my heart.
“We will make better memories.” Viktor murmured, pulling me up the stairs of the gazebo.
Strings of lights wrapped around the poles of the gazebo, illuminating the white wood. It stood out like a beacon in the middle of the garden. White lilies were wrapped around the railing. I was nearly speechless with the beauty of the garden. It felt like a completely different place. I could only wish my Mom were here to see it. She would love the dazzling colors and magical lights.
‘She might not be here, but she is watching.’ Aela murmured, a smile on her face.
Viktor pulled me closer, his arms wrapping around my waist as he devoured me with his dark eyes. My hands found their way around Viktor’s neck, playing with his dark hair. The two of us swayed lightly to the faint sound of music emanating from the ballroom.
While everything was calm for the moment, I knew a storm was brewing. I could feel it in my bones, just as Shannon had. The two of us mourned for our lost friend and for the life she had lived. I mourned for my Uncle Jaspar, trying to work through the pain of betrayal. Throughout everything, Viktor had been there. He held me through the night when nightmares of the past threatened to devour me. Through every tear and frustrated word, Viktor had stood by my side. I knew that when the time came and the storm finally arrived, Viktor would face it beside me.
Viktor was right after all; we would make new memories.
Thank you all for reading this novel! I appreciate all the support more than I can explain. I know some things have not been explained in this novel, but I fully plan on making a second.
I will be focusing on my other novels, but I will let everyone know when I begin working on the second!
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