I was trying and failing to focus on what’s in front of me. I think I read the same page a dozen times. I might have been getting longer hours of sleep, but no quality. I still had nightmares and I couldn’t stop the growing weakness of my body and my mind.
My wolf has gone completely quiet since the run with the pack and I knew why. She was upset at me for pushing our mate away. She wanted to keep him safe as much as I did. After all, the deep instinctual need to protect my mate came from our bond. But she didn’t agree with my solution.
I understood why werewolves stayed with their mates for life. Separation was literally making me sick. I can’t imagine what it would’ve felt if I rejected Victor. I wanted to make amends and explain everything. I’ve called him several times and it went straight to voicemail. I tried a different phone to make sure he hadn't blocked me and it was the same. Everytime I chickened out and hung up without saying anything. The one time I could muster enough courage, I just asked him to call me.
I closed down the book with a groan of frustration. It wasn’t just my internal battles, but also Cassie’s frantic behaviour that was distracting me. Her incessant coming and going was going to make me cross-eyed. I took a breath to recollect myself and not snap at her before I called her.
“Cassie! What’s the matter?” She stopped in her tracks and turned her head towards me.
“Nothing, my Queen.” She often called me that and it felt like an endearment. Because of protocol, she can’t call me by my first name.
“Well, you’re still standing there. So there must be something.” I coaxed her gently. I didn’t want to use my Alpha voice unless it was necessary.
She blinked at me before looking at the door. She repeated the movement a couple of times as if she was trying to make up her mind. Then she took a few measured steps closer to me with her usual submissive posture. Eyes cast down, and head bowed, she spoke with a little voice.
“Actually, there is something.”
“It’s better if you see by yourself.”
I jumped from my seat and followed her to where Crystal and Ruby were running their little operation. I pushed the door open without knocking, This was my castle after all. The expression on their faces was enough to tell how guilty they were. That and the gowns they were wearing. I raised a brow at them before I spoke sternly.
“What’s going on here?”
“We can explain!” The two girls spoke in unison as their eyes flicked between me and Cassie.
“I don’t have all day!” I urged them to speak after a long moment of silence.
“It’s for the Website!” “To check the designs!” Their voices overlapped.
They exchanged a panicked look before they decided who was to speak.
“I mean..” Crystal cleared her throat before continuing, “we needed pictures of the gowns to put them online. It gives the potential buyers a better idea of the designs.”
It was a well fabricated lie. Not only I could hear her heartbeat increase and smell how stressed she was, I was their Alpha. Which meant that even if it wasn’t great treason, I could feel the dishonesty making a small ripple on the bond.
“That’s not what I heard.” I confronted them.
“What did your Majesty hear? May I ask?” Ruby asked while both of them were glancing daggers at Cassie who was shrinking next to me.
“That you were picking an outfit for a party?” I made an educated guess based on their current outfits. But mostly, I was curious to hear what kind of lie they will come up with.
The next thing I knew they were lunging at Cassie and I felt my blood boil at their actions.
“We were just borrowing them, you lying bitch!” Crystal yelled at Cassie and reached to grab her hair.
“You conniving snitch!” Ruby followed and raised her hand at the defenseless Omega.
With superspeed, I stood in between my handmaiden and her attackers holding both their hands away from her.
“How dare you?” I growled, making them kneel and expose their necks in submission.
“We weren’t stealing, I swear. We were going to return the dresses after the party.” Crystal said with a quivering voice.
I didn’t like them going behind my back and treating the merchandise as their personal closet. I would have forgiven that, even dismissed it as an honest mistake. But, this behaviour was unacceptable.
“You diss at my handmaiden and raise your hands at her, in my presence!” My voice rose with the last word.
“ We didn’t mean any disrespect.”
“Please, your Majesty!” "Forgive us!” They pleaded, looking at me with teary eyes and a terrified face.
“Your services are no longer needed. Go see Gardenia for your compensation.” I fired them unequivocally before turning on my heels and returning to my chambers, with Cassie following me like my ghost.
“What was that about?” I turned to Cassie giving her a pointed look.
“My Queen?” She had crunched her eyebrows in a quizzical look, feigning innocence as if she didn’t know what I was talking about.
“Spill it!” I was starting to lose my patience and she caught on. She knew she could do this the easy way and admit everything, or the hard way. I could invade her mind and find out what I wanted.
“I...I just wanted to help.” She stammered as tears fell on her cheeks. “I mean, with sorting, cleaning and organizing everything.” She sniffed before continuing. “They were talking about the party and how this or that dress will look good on them. I never wore anything so pretty before and they heard me wish I wanted to wear something like that.”
I knew there was more to it so I waved my hand in a motion for her to continue.
“I might have suggested that your Majesty was kind and you wouldn't mind letting them borrow a few things for a night.”
“Is that so?”
“With your permission of course!”
I narrowed my eyes at Cassie. She wasn’t lying but I found the whole situation suspicious.
“When I came back later, they were trying on the outfits. And when I asked if they had your autorisation, they said they didn’t want to bother you. I tried to talk them out of it but they wouldn’t listen to me. After that I came here to tell you about it.”
At this point Cassie was gasping for breath between sobs. Despite my anger at the two girls I was questioning Cassie calmly. And I had stopped the girls before they could hurt her. So I didn’t understand her state of distress at the moment.
“Why are you crying?”
“I’m so sorry.”
“I didn’t mean to cause any problems.”
“Maybe you should have thought about that first.”
“Instead of snooping and meddling with other people’s work, you should have focused on your own job.”
“Please forgive me, your Majesty! ” Cassie groveled at my feet.
I paused for a moment, wondering if the situation really called for this theatrics and why I was so insensitive to it.
“Please don’t fire me!” She implored.
I Sighed. “I’m not firing you. I don’t need you for the rest of the day. You can go now.”