A/N: here’s the first chapter of Part2. To understand the story, read part1 on Dreame.
The drive to the Royal pack went like a blur. I was knocked down the whole way. I felt that my energy was drained after the fight and I couldn’t help but fall asleep to Severin disarray. He had so many things to talk about but I was too exhausted to listen to any word he said. I woke up to the sound of honking. We left in the evening but when I looked around, I noticed that it was already morning and we were at the werewolf village outside of the castle.
“What’s going on?” I asked, muffling a yawn with my hand.
“Pack members are blocking the way.” Severin answered as he turned from the front passenger seat.
“Why?” I asked feeling stress and anxiety. I hoped that it wasn’t because I killed their Alpha and they’re after my head.
“I guess they’re excited to meet their new Alpha and Queen.” Severin said. “The late King was distant and detached for long years. They’re curious to know what your Majesty is like.”
His words eased my fears but did nothing to my anxiety. I wondered what kind of expectations they had. I’ll probably disappoint them, because I wasn’t raised or prepared to be a Queen. I accepted this role as a duty and a way to honor my family. Despite my anxiety, a fluttering feeling in my guts made me open the car door and step out.
Severin was alarmed by my sudden action and the guards were surrounding me as soon as I put my feet on the ground. I wondered if I could trust them though. Only hours before they were the King’s men. How could their loyalty shift so quickly? Or maybe they couldn’t help it?
I made my way between two guards to be swarmed by a group of children. The guards started pushing them away and I growled at them in response. Those kids were far from dangerous and I felt instinctively protective over them. I certainly didn’t feel like I needed to be guarded around them. I couldn’t say they felt the same with me because my growl scared the little ones.
“The Luna is scawy.” Whispered one of them. She looked like 3 or 4 years old.
“She’s the Alpha.” An older boy next to her corrected her.
“But she’s a giwl.” She whisper-yelled.
The exchange made me chuckle and the kids relaxed seeing me laugh. They started firing questions at me. As I moved forward, the crowd became bigger and even the adults wanted to talk to me and greet me. By the time I made my way through the town, my throat was dry from all the talking and my cheeks were hurting. I didn’t realize that I was smiling all the time. I felt like they were one big family. I didn’t meet any of them before, and I definitely didn’t catch all their names, but I felt a connection to each one of them. It wasn’t as strong as the pull I felt towards Victor but I was overwhelmed by their love and affection.
I stood at the main entrance of the palace for a moment, reminiscing about the last time I came here. It was a bumpy ride since then, but I regained my freedom and I survived a deadly fight. I knew that being responsible for a large pack won’t be an easy task. Hopefully having Victor at my side will increase my confidence and make me feel like I can take on the world. He didn’t give me a straight answer and I thought I should give him some time. After all, he was beyond patient with me and I owed him at least that.
What I needed now was a nice shower and a good meal. But I had to hurry because I got dragged in a series of meetings, fittings and rehearsals for the coronation. I didn’t understand the rush to do it in such a short time though. I thought that there was some kind of protocol to mourn the dead monarch before crowning the next one. Werewolves seem to get over it quickly despite having a pack connection to their Alpha.
Less than two days after I arrived, the biggest event of my life was about to start. I was standing in a room adjacent to the throne hall. I was dressed up, hair & make-up and all, and waiting anxiously for the ceremony. To add fuel to the fire, apparently other Royalty of the shifters and supernatural community had invited themselves. I was hoping that everything goes as planned and I wouldn’t make a fool out of myself in front of everyone.
“Your Majesty. It’s time.” Severin interrupted my thoughts before I started making up scenarios for all the things that could go wrong.
“Just put a foot in front of the other and don’t trip on the gown’s hem.” I told myself.
I straightened my back and lifted my chin as I walked through the double door to the large hall. I was surprised to see that so many people had come to see my coronation. I was beyond nervous but I wasn’t allowed to show any emotions. I was told that I had to keep a blank expression, remain poised and composed like a proper queen should be. It didn’t matter that I had only two days to prepare, but there is no walking back now, and at least I could remember some of my princess training. I made the choice to perpetuate my family’s legacy and I must take on this role with dignity and humility. The rest I hope I get to learn with time, but for now I needed to get through with this ceremony.
After I made my entrance, the guests took their seats in silence. I stood in front of the table that was set on the stage. I never liked crowds to begin with, and having hundreds of eyes staring at me and watching my every move didn’t help my nerves. The elder started a lengthy speech about the importance of unity and loyalty in the pack, the duties of the Alpha and the pack members to each other. While he talked, I kept reciting in my head my vow. Then he began chanting in Latin. It was my queue to take one step closer to the table where was a golden bowl with a rock. A moon rock, I was told and I wondered if it was a real one. In that case did NASA know about a missing rock from their volt... FOCUS! I scolded myself. This was not the moment to be distracted. Everything was timed to the second and there was no room for error. I took the dagger next to the bowl. This was the part I dreaded the most. I took a deep breath and slashed my palm. Clenching my fist, I held my hand above the little rock.
“Voveo praedonis servire et tueri, Pro iustitia insuper misericordiae, mea usque ad extremum spiritum” (I vow to serve and protect, uphold justice and mercy, until my last breath) I said my oath with a clear voice and the most confidence I could muster. As I watched the blood drops fall and stain the grey with crimson, I felt the power of the Alpha grow within me. I felt my mind being invaded with a cacophony of voices and cheering. Despite the quiet atmosphere in the room, it was loud and noisy in my head with all the pack members establishing the mind link. I have learned a few things about the mind link, but since I grew up without a pack, experiencing it for the first time was exhilarating and unsettling at the same time. I will have to learn how to build mind barriers and open the link only when I want to.
When I was done with my oath, the elder helped me tie a handkerchief around the cut. Severin walked to me and put a long blue cape on my shoulders. Then I was given a sword in my right hand and an orb of moonstone in my left hand. I took measured steps to the throne and sat on the throne still holding the sword and the stone. Severin came holding the crown on top of a red velvet cushion. The elder took it and hold it above my head. Chanting in Latin, he slowly lowered the crown until he placed on my head.
I felt that the most difficult part was over. I didn’t trip and fall on my face and I didn’t mess the wording of my oath. I felt a little proud of myself. However, I couldn’t stop my heart from beating in my chest in expectation of what’s coming next. I was supposed to unveil my aura, then my subjects had to bow in allegiance and say “Long live the queen!” and I will be done with this ceremony. I feared that they might not recognize me as their true Alpha because I was a female or a stranger to the pack.
I unveiled my aura and I watched as an invisible wave swept through the crowds as they kneeled before me. What happened next left me stunned and bewildered. Not one, not two, but three different voices yelled “MINE!”. I have scanned the faces looking for Victor before, but I couldn’t see him among the guest. In fact, I knew he wasn’t here because I would have sensed his presence. My mate wasn’t here, so who could it be? Soon enough, the three men claiming me stood tall.
“This was not part of the rehearsal!” I told Severin after we walked into the council room. I tried not to be rude towards him because he was old and treated me with respect, but it was so difficult to hide my frustration. “I thought we could have only one mate! How could there be three other men claiming me?” I needed answers and I needed them now.
“Your Majesty. Please calm down. I wasn’t expecting it neither but I think that I can explain.” Severin told me with pleading eyes.
I took a deep breath and took a seat at the meeting table. The cape and the crown were getting heavier by the minute. “I’m listening.” I said urging Severin to explain.
“Werewolves can have only one destined mate, and the concept of a mate is different for the other shifter species. As far as I know, they don’t have a mate bond as we do, but that doesn’t stop the alpha males from being possessive and territorial over the female they chose. I suppose they sensed how great your power was, when you unveiled your aura, and they saw you as a potential mate or partner.” Severin sounded genuine and he seemed trustworthy in the short time I’ve come to know him. His reasoning eased some of my worries. It was already difficult for me to deal with the mate bond and my feelings for Victor. We’ve been through a lot and I don’t think I can do it again with someone else. My love life was already complicated enough with one mate let alone three additional ones. However, I was suspicious of the potential suitors’ intentions. They voiced their interest in me just when they realized how powerful I was, which was not a good sign.
“I there anything else I should be aware of?” I asked Severin.
“There is an old peace treaty between shifters. To consolidate the truce, they initiated interspecies pairing.” Severin said and I arched my brows at him. This meant there was a precedent to give the suitors legitimacy to their claim. “However, most of those pairings were unable de conceive. For the few who did, the pregnancies were unsuccessful. It could be your leverage to justify your rejection, if that’s what you plan to do.” He added sensing my disapproval.
“I do plan on rejecting them.”
After discussing a little bit with him, I was ready for giving a major royal rejection. I stood from my position on the table to welcome my “suitors” as the valet introduced them by name.
“His Royal Highness Nikolai Vasili Zverev, the third Prince of the werebears Kingdom.” He was a well build man with wide shoulders and arms thicker than my waist. He had blond hair and ice-cold blue eyes. He had strong features and his face didn’t show any emotion. He was wearing an olive-green high collar vest with a red sash and he had stars on his shoulder straps.
“His Royal Highness Henrique Geraldo Ramos, the heir of the panther shifters Kingdom.” Henrique was the epitome of a Latino heartthrob with his golden skin, brown eyes and wavy long hair. He was wearing a blue-navy formal suit. He was muscular but not as beefy as Nikolai. The hint of a smile on his lips made him less intimidating and a little bit charming.
“ Ma..Man..” The valet was struggling with the third name and the man in question saved him the embarrassment.
“Mandlenkosi the Lion King. For you a beautiful Queen like yourself, just Kosi.” He said with a deep voice as he kissed the back of my hand. I pressed my lips together to prevent myself from laughing at the cheesy yet chivalrous gesture. Kosi was the tallest among the three of them. He was sporting a wide smile showing a set of pearly teeth contrasting with his dark skin. He was wearing a long black coat with golden embroidery that enhanced his slender and athletic figure.
I was sure that any girl will be spoilt for choice, but my heart was already taken.
“Your Royal Highnesses, your Majesty.” I slightly nodding at them being careful not to drop the crown from my head. “With all my respects, I’m sure any woman would be thrilled to have you as suiters. But I’m afraid I cannot accept your courtship.”
“May I ask why?” Henrique questioned.
“First of all, it has been proven in the past that this kind of union can’t produce an heir. Which will be unfortunate for both parties, especially since I don’t have any living relatives.”
Henrique lowered his head and his face took a more serious expression. I knew that I stroke a cord there because having heirs is the quintessence for perpetuating a monarchy.
“That won’t be a problem for me since I already have children from my other two wives.” Kosi retorted while beaming his million-dollar smile. I recoiled internally and swallowed a gasp at this revelation, not in a million years I would be someone’s second or third choice. Polygamy is accepted in other cultures so I couldn’t use it as an argument. However, I had one more card up my sleeves.
“Going forward with this union means that one of us will have to give up their throne. I said earlier that I don’t have relatives, so it’s impossible for me. And I suppose that it isn’t an easy choice for you neither.”
This time, it was Kosi’s turn to drop his smile. The last thing men of power will be willing to do would be to give up their power willingly. Nikolai, however, didn’t speak a word as he kept staring at me, unmoving like a marble statue.
“I hope that this won’t undermine the peace treaty between our kingdoms.” I said, having in mind the wellbeing of my people. The last thing I wanted was to wound the ego of these powerful men and risk starting a war in retribution. Even though they were rejected, I had to maintain a friendly relationship with them at least.
“I couldn’t wish for a better queen at my side.” Henrique said looking disappointed.
“At least, we tried.” Kosi followed. After saying their goodbyes, they were escorted outside.
Then I turned my attention to Nikolai. I was expecting him to leave like the other two, but he was still frozen in his place.
“Prince Nikolai, I...” I was going to tell him that I already had a mate, which was the last argument on my list.
“I don’t care about any of what you said before.” Nikolai interrupted. “I want you and I will have you.”
I threw a side-glance to Severin hoping that he will come to my rescue as Nikolai took heavy steps in my direction.
“If I can’t have you, no one can.” He whispered in a low threatening voice.
Up to this moment, I was confident and proud of myself. I thought that I’ve been tactful about the rejection and that I would be able to resolve it peacefully. When Nikolai got closer, I felt a sinister shiver run through my spine and my hackles rise. This man was dangerous, evil and determined to get what he coveted no matter the cost.
“I need time to think about it.” I was out of reasonable things to say and thought the best would be to stall him. Let the situation cool down and then reject him officially later on.
“Let me be clear, if any other man touches you, I will rip him limb for limb and offer you his head on a stake.” He added looking menacingly before storming away.
After he left, the tension building in my body became too unbearable to keep standing on my feet. I collapsed on the chair and removed the crown from my head. Suddenly it felt too heavy to bear. Now I understood the meaning of “the weight of the crown”. It wasn’t the object on itself that was heavy, but the duties and responsibilities that came with it. How was I supposed to balance my personal life with my obligations? What should I tell Victor now? Would he understand if I told him to stay away for a while for his own safety? He would be too proud to let me be the one defending him. He would probably think that I’m breaking up with him again. I let out a long-suffering sigh as I held my head in my hands. I massaged my temples as I could feel the beginning of a migraine from overthinking.
“Your Majesty.” I lifted my eyes to look at Severin. “I think you did well. You approached the situation with grace and tact.” He said kindly.
“Maybe I should’ve told him that I have a mate. It would throw him off my case.”
“The other shifters don’t understand the meaning of the mate bond that we have. How it is sacred and valuable. Even if you did have a mate, it would only put his life in danger. Prince Nikolai has a terrible reputation. He’s feral and bloodthirsty. He won’t hesitate to execute his threat, or start a war for that matter.” Severin confirmed my fears about Nikolai.
My heart constricted in my chest and I found it difficult to breathe. All I could think about was how to keep my people and Victor safe. I couldn’t be selfish and risk someone’s life so I could have my happy ending. I didn’t have any other choice but to keep him away. No matter how difficult that might be I had to. For his own sake.
I’ve sent Severin away so I could have a moment to relax and reflect on what to do next. After a while I heard a knocking on the door.
“Come in!” I said feeling annoyed. “I couldn’t have a minute of peace in this place.” I mumbled to myself.
“Alpha Victor Rinaldi wishes for an audience with your Majesty.” The valet declared. My heart started beating at the sound of his name. I wanted to have more time to prepare before facing him, but nothing in my life went as I desired and today was no exception.
“Let him in.” I told the valet as I stood up and straightened my gown. I put on the mask like I had for the past few hours. I needed to be strong and keep my emotions deep down inside for what I was about to do next.
“Congratulations!” The sound of his voice and the sight of his face made me all mushy and my stomach was doing somersaults. His hair was mussed and had bags under his eyes but looked as gorgeous as ever. “I’m sorry I missed the coronation, the …”
I had to clench my fists until my nails dug in my palms to remind myself of the dire situation that I was in.
“Why are you here?” I sounded cold even to myself.
“To be with you.” Victor said with a waning smile.
“You can’t stay here. You have to leave.” I told him trying to sound calm.
“I just gave up my pack for you!” Victor revealed with an incredulous expression on his face. He was expecting me to welcome him with open arms but instead I was sending him back home.
“Watch your tone. And I never asked you to do that.” I picked the crown and started heading upstairs to my chambers.
Victor was right behind me as I made my way up the stairs and through the hallways. Obviously, the proud Alpha that he was will not do as told unless I gave him a good reason.
“Please talk to me. Is this about me missing the coronation?” Victor said. “I already apologized, transferring pack leadership took more time than I expected. I …”
I turned around and held my hand in front of me to stop him from speaking.
“Victor. You have to leave.” I repeated my voice shaking.
“Am I a joke to you? Is the bond,” He said pausing for a second “is my love a joke to you? Why do you keep running away?” He reminded me of all the times I failed him and our mate bond. I felt my resolve breaking under his smoldering gaze. He looked at me with so much love and longing that I couldn’t take it anymore.
“I can’t do this right now.” I told him my voice quivering. I was already reaching my limit because I couldn’t hide from him how I really felt.
“Can’t what? Talk? Fight? What is it exactly that you want? Because I can’t figure it out.” Victor fired at me.
“Us. I can’t do this.”
“You know what? Just reject me and let’s get over with it. I’m tired of you pushing and pulling as you please. I’m done playing these games with you! You’re too immature and full of yourself to commit to a real relationship!”
I knew I was pushing him to the limit, but I didn’t expect him to say those hurtful things to me. I turned away from him. I couldn’t look at the pain and hurt on his face when he asked me to reject him. I couldn’t believe that he went as far as that.
“Could you at least have the decency to look at my face when you do it?” Victor sounded calm but dejected.
I looked up pushing back the tears and took a few breaths as I held my hand above my chest, where the pendant he gave me rested beneath the fabric of the dress. Then I turned around, and my wolf started howling and whimpering in my head because she figured out what I was going to do.
“I...” I swallowed hard. “I…” Victor tensed like if he was preparing to take a physical blow and I felt the last of my determination faltering. I couldn’t reject him. I couldn’t sever our bond and forget about him. He will go crazy. I will go crazy too. Was it really worth it to put an end to our love like this?
“I, Queen Alexandra Kaiser, Alpha of all the werewolves,” If I was going through with this, I had to do it as Alexandra. Because Claire was deeply and madly in love with Victor. My wolf’s whimpering grew louder as a last resort to stop me from saying the fated words that will end our mate bond.
“I don’t have a mate.” It was as painful as if I had actually rejected him, but our bond was still there vibrating between us.
“No!” Victor yelled startling me, that I almost dropped the crown. “Just do it! Reject me already and end my misery!”
The guards have rushed at the sound of shouting and looked between me in Victor. With a nod of my head, they went on to subdue him but they couldn’t. Victor kept fighting against their hold as more guards came to help restrain him.
“It was all about power, isn’t it! It wasn’t enough to be just a Luna! I wasn’t enough for you! You had to be more!” Victor yelled as he struggled against the guards.
I couldn’t listen anymore to the sound of hurt and betrayal in his voice, so I turned on my heels and went to my room. As soon as I closed the door, my knees gave beneath me and I slid to the floor. Holding the crown in my arms, I sobbed uncontrollably, letting the tears roll on my cheeks. I felt like I have ripped my heart from my chest and crushed it with my own hands.