The blinding white light makes me flinch.
I close my lids to relieve the pain, the sting making my eyes water. I have been laying here on this white medical bed for hours. Cords hooked to me everywhere, a large headpiece that emits a blue light.
They are in the process of wiping my mind of the intolerable romance Ajax and I experienced, it’s not enough just to erase Ajax’s. I get it. I could just tell him what happened, right? Act like I was still in love, heartbroken even. Not that he would believe me once his mind has been altered, but it’s a risk they do not want to take. I was also told that any member on our team is not permitted to speak about the past romance to any of us or they would be swiped as well. They are very serious about this. But our team does not know the extent of our relationship. I think they have observed some tension maybe, but that’s it. Lila does not count; she is one of us.
Pierce told Flix that the Fey are in panic mode, the humans yelling and forming protests against the superior race, wanting equality. What a shocker. That part made me smile, the public isn’t stupid, probably guessing what is happening behind closed doors. Mind control. F mind control. When I think about Ajax, I feel so much pain and anger.
But here’s the kicker.
Fairy Godmother Inc. is stepping in, apparently the morbid act of wiping a player’s memories goes against code X-001. So, I must lay here and pretend this is working, when it’s not. I am not sure what power Fairy Godmother Inc. has, but that’s pretty bad-ass.
No one is touching my brilliant brain.
I feel someone beside me, and I tense. I have been laying here alone for about thirty minutes and finally someone is here to complete the process. Flix is somewhere in here, in his super-bug form. Earlier he was buzzing about talking to me, keeping me company with his obscene tales of back on his planet. Flix is quite the wild child, one of seventy siblings. Apparently, it’s a great honor to get chosen to be an agent for Fairy Godmother Inc.
“Red,” I woman’s voice says, devoid of emotion, almost like a robot. “Tell me what you feel or remember about Team Leader, Ajax Leocaryn. Be specific, go into deal, think very hard.”
“Red, tell her Ajax has a really big penis. Please, just for me, I just want to see the look on her face.”
I fight a grin.
I am not saying that.
“Kidding. Say he is your team leader and he is the eldest son of Theodlum and Myrrh Leocaryn.”
I try and sound as indifferent as possible. “Well, he is our team leader. Eldest son of Theodluin Leocaryn and Myrrh Leocaryn.”
“Good,” she says. “Do you recall anything else about him?”
I think I am hooked up to a lie detector test. Fairy Godmother Inc. must be manipulating it somehow. “Nope.”
She sounds distracted. “Very good. I think you are free to go. I am being told that you need to go straight into training. Your team leader Ajax and Leon are concerned about your lack of practice for the competition tomorrow.” She pauses, “You’re under probation for your treasonous actions, having to wear a monitor so we can keep track of what you say. Your whole team will be in possession of monitors.”
I sit up and itch my head after she removes the headpiece and all the cords from me. My short hair feeling foreign and weird. I feel like a mental patient sitting here, having tests run on me all day. I bite my lip as I glance at my hands. What will Ajax think of my black, short hair? Maybe he only liked the bright red? I hate running bad scenarios through my head, but I can’t help it. I am so nervous to see him. I feel sick. It will kill me if this time around he does not fall for me, but the opposite. I don’t know what they implanted into his mind, but I bet it’s not good.
I am escorted to the training arena by their military, as if I am a criminal. Which, according to them, I am Thunia’s Most Wanted.
I don’t mind.
I don’t mind because I will have my revenge. It’s time to put the pacifier away and replace it with a very dirty martini. I smile at that; I am going to play dirty. I get changed into my black suit while I am being watched by female Fey soldiers.
“I think they just want to see you change.”
I roll my eyes.
“Probably,” I whisper.
“What did you say Feno?” One soldier snaps at me.
I glance at her. “I talk to myself, sorry.”
She glares at me, eyeing me suspiciously.
I glare back, hating how they have to watch me. I stand up with a big breath. I am changed and looking hot, or so Flix says. I will trust him; any sort of confidence I can get I will take. I walk out onto the arena and immediately see Aaron—whose hair is now dark like mine, not blue.
He walks over me but does not say anything. I can see the glowing blue bracelet on his wrist, his voice monitor. I want to cringe; this is really all my fault. His eyes widen as he takes in my new look, and then an expression of worry crosses over his features.
I mouth, “I’m okay.” Then I point to my head, ”I remember.”
His eyes widen, and he mouths. ”How?”
He looks very shocked, shaking his head. Aaron then reaches for me and gives me a hug mouthing, ”I’m sorry, Red.”
I burry my head in his arm, and I feel more hands on me. I turn to see McFolas, Alok, and Lila. They all gaze at my hair, and looks of sadness cross over their features.
McFolas stares at me then. “I think I am allowed to say this, you look beautiful, Red. Keep your head up girl.”
I smile, and Aaron glances at my hair and nods at me with a wink.
“You guys are sweet,” I whisper, feeling the despair.
Lila touches my hand, and I glance at her with a sigh big.
She sighs too.
“Team! Line up!” Comes Leon’s voice.
I tense, following Lila to line up. It’s then I see about five Fey men walk in through the far door. The tallest one takes my breath away yet again. Mercy. I look away for a second and I feel Lila squeeze my hand, and I squeeze it back.
They bleached Ajax’s hair, the bastards.
He now has silver spiked hair to match his eerie eye color, and his hair is longer too. Flix did say something about how they are now viewing dark colored Fey as rebellious because of Ajax and his mother. Unbelievable. I try not to stare at Ajax, but it’s hard. This man can not look unattractive, ever. He wears all his dark gothic jewelry dressed in black suit coat and leather pants. He still has that dark rocker vibe that makes girls scream and faint. Panties will be thrown at him, numbers on perfumed paper chucked at him desperately. It’s wild how in this world, even though they are way more advanced, still have similar styles.
I swallow, feeling my skin tingle.
And now he probably hates me.
It’s very weird to think that he has no idea what I was to him. Our history erased, gone, and forgotten. I glance back to Ajax as he runs a hand down his face. He is looking at Aaron’s wristband, then to McFolas’s wristband. He walks closer in my direction, and my heart wants to take flight like a flock of doves, but I keep an indifferent expression. I can see Leon looking at me as the other Fey are, probably trying to see my reaction to Ajax.
Face of steal, bitches.
At least for now.
Ajax’s gaze lands on me, and I freeze. I really prayed he cannot see the pulse in my neck pounding. His pale gaze stares at my face then to my hair with a thoughtful expression, then a slight smirk spreads over his features as he glances away.
"It would seem,” Ajax murmurs with a wink to Aaron, “That we all got in a bit of trouble.”
I see Aaron glance at McFolas in question.
Does Ajax know?
I see Leon look at the other Fey members, clearly wondering the same thing. I think the Fey didn’t count on Ajax being incredibly intelligent. He knows what short hair with monitoring wristbands means, we f-ed up.
Leon cleared his throat. “As you are aware of Ajax, this team is being watched for inspiring an underground uprising.”
Nice cover, I thought.
Except he forgot the part where me and Ajax were the catalysts.
Ajax nods. “I gathered that much, thanks Leon,” he says sarcastically, his voice harsh. He sighs as he glances at all of us, his gaze flicking over me. “My father is quite upset over this, so much that I had to go through metal training, but I believe it’s more of punishment. He is taking his anger out on me. I’m sure you are very much aware of this. Personally, I don’t give a Fuck what my father says. I will fix this because this is my nation, Thunia is my responsibly. I will not have any more issues with this team, we will focus and finish strong.”
His intent gaze lands on me and I thought he was going to call me out, but he didn’t. I raise my chin and level him with a classic Big Red look. This look made men think twice about me in the business world, it had the power to intimidate. I know he can feel me, the waves of resistance, the push back. The under currents are here, and I am going to challenge his broken memory.
He looks down then back up to me, almost confused, a scowl.
Did this look trigger something?
I look away from Ajax because I can see the other Fey watching everything. They go on talking about how we are being watched and this is our last warning before serious and lasting repercussions happen. I roll my eyes as they spilt us up, going into fire training.
Apparently fire and heat training will be a big part of our next competition
We must train in high heat; they have small training rooms to get our bodies adjusted to the hot temperatures.
I don’t mind the heat if it involves Ajax.
My spirits fall when I am partnered up with a tall Fey man that I have never seen before. Ajax leaves with Aaron to somewhere, and I want to pull a tantrum. I want to throw up the Clueless sign of a W. Whatever. I sure I will see him again today, or at least, I hope. I must get him alone; I am running out of precious time here.
I walk into a red room with equipment in it, blood-colored lights fill the room. The heat is like a heavy, wet blanket being wrapped around me, my skin is prickling with the temperature. My legs feel heavy, and the pressure on my chest is concerning. I gasp and look at the Fey man starring at me. “So what now?”
“Stretch. This is a gravity training chamber, builds muscle faster.” He says like he can read the question of, WTF on my face.
“Right,” I say as I can already feel my forehead perspiring.
I sit down and tense as the door swings open, and in walks Ajax in different clothing. He is in black body armor looking like some Japan-animation hero with his white spiked hair and dark skin. This room is not very big, and he seems to take up a lot of it. He didn’t look at me but went straight to the other Fey in the room.
I continue to stretch when an idea pops into my head. I am very good at yoga and some poses might, ehem, work to my benefit. I have a killer ass, so might as well use what my momma gave me!? Right? Flix would have pounded me for that one.
“Red,” Ajax hisses making me jump. “Get stretching.”
That tone is not nice.
“Sure,” I murmur with a slight grin. I stand up, and with my back to them, I spread my legs to touch the ground. So innocent and so not. I make sure I am really stretching as far as I can, back arched like a cat.
I hear both of their voices stop.
I hold that pose and morph it into a downward dog, still hearing nothing from them. I turn like I am minding my own business and lay on the ground. Bringing my arms up over my head to stretch, back arching.
No one ever stretches like this unless they are up to something naughty. I slightly unzipped my top to where you can see just a little more of my cleavage when my back is turned for another stretch. What?! I am trying to seduce this man who now hates me. Slow and steady wins the race, and with a dash of nice tits.
“Red, stop fucking around and stand up,” Ajax orders in a low voice.
I want to hiss at him like a cat.
I stand and lock gazes with him, looking innocent. “Ajax, how would you like me then?”
Ajax’s eyes widen slightly, and then he glances at the Fey man. “Deon, bring me the spinners. I will start her out with muscle training. She is the weakest link, so she needs the most attention.”
I roll my eyes.
The man nods and leaves the room. We are alone, and I am now nervous, not even knowing what to do or say. The heat is heavy, making both of us glisten with sweat. I shiver even in this high temperature; he looks so sexy that it takes a lot for me not to attack him. He is looking down then finally back up to me. “Come here,” he orders.
Why is he so hot when he is bossy. I slowly walk up to him and he grabs my wrist, eyes now glowing. I almost gasp as he bends the metal, removing the bracelet from my skin.
Ajax takes it off and then he leaves me, throwing the wrist band into another room. When he returns his expression is that of stone. “Tell me what you know, now.”
I look around, not sure what to say. “About?”
“Cut the shit Red,” he hisses.
“You want the truth?”
He gives me a dry look, walking up to me, backing me into the wall. “I know you are full of lies and that I should not trust anything that comes out your mouth. But I can see that you might be the only one brave enough to tell me what happened.”
I take a breath of hot air, noticing how close he is to me. I smile up at him and decide to go with the brutal truth. “All of this happened because you could not keep your hands from me.”
“What?” he says, frowning, chest rising and falling, looking shocked. “Bullshit.”
I am a little hurt by that, I realize. “You loved me; they didn’t like that.”
He laughs and turns, cursing, rubbing a hand down his face. “I knew talking to you would be a fucking circus.”
I stare at him, panic setting in. “I am not lying.”
He looks at me. “I would never fall for someone like you, Red. Not in a million years. A deceitful woman who is the cause of this rebellion, it makes me sick. You put Thunia in jeopardy. And, if you were telling the truth, they would have swiped you. You would have no recollection, Red. You’re full of shit.”
They did but it didn’t work.
I feel like I can’t breathe. “What did they do to you? Implant horrid lies about me?”
“If I ever hear you talking this way again, I will turn you in myself,” he threatens. “I can’t even believe you would say such things.”
“You asked me for the truth,” I hiss back, wondering how I am ever going to get out of this unscathed. My memories should have been swiped, I can explain that away, that thought never crossed my mind.
He stares at me, eyes lowering to my breasts then back up. I didn’t miss the way his jaw set when looking at me, like he is having some inner battle. “I would never mess with a human when I am in love with someone else.”
My eyes widen. I can feel trickles of sweat sliding down my neck. “You’re in love?”
“It’s none of your damn business Feno, but I am marrying Sarya, finally joining our nations. And I will have control over my father,” he says and glances away.
I feel my eyes sting. “You don’t love her Ajax, they implanted that.”
He looks pissed, jaw clenching. “Nice try. I have been with her for years, it’s time I do the right thing.” He pushes me into the wall, hand at my neck, hurting me. “She will be my Queen, and I will not have you putting doubt in my head.”
“You’re brain washed,” my voice breaks.
He smiles, eyes searching my face. “Maybe, but I know what I want now.”
“Or what someone else wants,” I say back and brace myself. I am angering him; I can see the doubt flickering across his features.
We stare at each other, seconds tick by. I feel a trickle of sweat trail down my neck, and his eyes follow it to my cleavage. He looks back up to me with a curious expression. “Something tells me that you use your body to get what you want. To make your lies believable.”
I take a breath. “Is it believable then?”
He looks away and shakes his head, leaving me at the wall. “I will get your bracelet; I see why they gave it to you now.”
“You do not want to admit that you’re attracted to me,” I blurt, feeling anger boil with this hot temperature.
He turns and exhales. “That has nothing to do with it, Red. Thunia is in trouble, and you are not helping matters by creating lies. You are charged with treasonous acts, Red. That’s a big deal.”
I wipe my forehead, feeling my hair wet. “Fine, live your lie Ajax, you’re just a puppet to them.”
“I am not a puppet. I know what I am doing,” he hisses. “And on some small chance that you are telling the truth about us, then that was a very dumb move on my part.”
I stare at him.
This is not going to be easy.
“You will be making a big mistake Ajax,” I whisper.
“It seems I already made that mistake, Red. If I were you, I’d train hard and get focused, because tomorrow could be your last.”
I expel a breath. “Maybe Ajax, this time around, I don’t want you either. We can both agree then; the Ajax I knew fought for the humans and their rights. Not fed power into the Arrogant Fey that so lovingly brainwashed you.”
Two can play this game.
He retrieves the wristband and walks up to me, taking my hand in his. I don’t say anything as he puts back on the monitor. We stare at each other, and something unspoken passes between us. His pale gaze sears me, pinning me.
The gauntlet is thrown.