Chapter Twelve: The Truth Isn't Always Pretty
“Serena,” Seb said rather calmly. “I’m trying very hard not to explode right now. Would you mind repeating to me what you just said?”
I swallowed, “My sister is coming to the castle with an army of wolves to bring me back to my pack,” I repeated, my voice shaking. I watched as Seb’s eyes darkened and his hands balled into fists.
He shut his eyes and tilted his head to the side, “I was hoping I heard you wrong.” His voice was tight, restricted. “Goddess, Serena!” he screamed, “Why do you have to be so much trouble!” He threw the flowers to the ground; his breathing was now heavy as he tried to control his outraged wolf.
“How could you betray me like that?” he yelled. Seb darted to the side and picked up a nearby statue in the garden. He heaved it over his head and threw it twenty feet away where it smashed on the ground. The outburst scared off a few maids, they all went running into the castle leaving Seb and I completely alone.
“I—I didn’t know!”
He turned to me, his nostrils flaring, “You knew, Serena. You knew no one was supposed to know the location of the castle.”
I felt my hands start to shake and twisted them together nervously. “I—I’m sorry.”
He shook his head and kicked the fence, “You know what, Serena? Sorry and a few tears just isn’t good enough. Not this time.” I bit my bottom lip and looked down, feeling intensely guilty.
“I didn’t know she would come,” I tried to amend.
“And now she’s bringing other wolves with her? We’ll have to relocate! Move the palace! There’s going to be blood spilt and a whole bloody mess to clean up! How could you have been such an idiot!?”
I watched as he stormed around the garden, smashing things and knocking things over. He was upset, more so than I had ever seen him before. “Seb maybe I can just tell her to leave.”
“Yeah? After she’s travelled across the country? She’s coming for you and I bet she’s not leaving without you. I’m almost tempted to just let her take you, I’m that disappointed.” I felt a tear roll down my cheek and nodded. I understood. I had went behind his back and broke one of the biggest rules here.
“I’m sorry, Seb. It was b-before, when things were b-bad,” I blubbered. The guilt and worry had been suffocating me for days and now that the truth was out there, I could breathe. But now Seb was angry and that in turn made me upset.
“First my father, the threat of losing the throne, and now this? There is no way I’m getting the position now!” he screamed. Seb kicked a chair and it went flying. “Goddess, Serena! What were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t,” I answered, “I was desperate, and to hear her voice again—I just, I don’t know.”
“Serena, you have jeopardized our entire future together,” he said.
I frowned, “I spoke to the Queen, I tried to convince her that it was you who was right for the throne! Seb I know you can do it I just—”
“Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter anymore because once my father hears about this he will freak. You know about Morgan, you know why we can’t have people know where the castle is. You knew and you still went ahead and... I can’t even look at you the same way.” Seb rested his hands on his hips and dropped his head.
“It was b-before!” I cried, “I don’t want you to be upset with me, Seb!” I heard footsteps and turned to see Cal. He looked around the garden and whistled.
“Mom is going to kill you, Sebby. She liked that statue,” Cal pointed to the statue Seb had smashed only minutes before. Seb shook his head and walked right past me, not sparing me a glance. He stormed past Cal and walked right into the castle. Cal looked to me, “What’s his problem?”
I bit my lip and shook my head, “Oh, Goddess.”
“Serena?” Cal questioned, “Were you crying?”
I turned to look at Cal and said, “I messed up, Cal. Really bad.”
His smiled dropped, “Oh, Serena. What did you do?”
“I—I told my sister where the palace is.”
His face went pale, “You didn’t! Serena, you know how much that goes against the rules here. Only the royal family, guards and service people are supposed to know. That information is not supposed to be privy to everyday citizens.”
“I know,” I blubbered, another wave of guilt washed over me. “I was just desperate, I don’t know.” I ran my hands over my face and continued, “She’s apparently went and gathered other packs, they’re coming, here. For me.”
“Shit,” Cal muttered, “Seb is going to go crazy.” I felt a few more tears slip down my face.
“He’s so angry, Cal. He can’t even look me in the eye. I—I don’t—I didn’t. Oh, Goddess. Now he thinks this will lose him the throne.”
Cal’s eyes clouded over, “He doesn’t realise the responsibility that comes with the throne. I don’t want him to have it.”
I shook my head, “He can handle it! Cal, he has all these plans to improve the werewolf community, he’s ready. He’s been training since you left!”
Cal’s eyes darkened, it was the first time I had ever seen his wolf side emerge. “No, Serena, you don’t understand. The crown will make him hard and calloused, both of you. I can’t put that on him. Just look at what it did to my father.”
“Seb isn’t your father! He’s different, he has me.”
“I’m sorry, Serena, I love you like you are my own sister. But how good have you really been for him? I mean you resisted to the point where it nearly drove him to insanity, you trashed his room, defied him in front of everyone and now you’ve went and done this.”
I felt a rush of hot tears, “I was lost in the beginning, I know. It was too much. Okay? And I have that stupid prophecy and I’m just trying to figure it all out here. I’m nearly crazy myself! But I—I care about Seb. And I know he can take on the throne, I know it.”
Cal frowned, “Serena, you’ve been here for a month and a half. You barely know anything about being a royal. The responsibility will drive you two apart. I can’t let that happen. I’ve hurt Seb a lot in the past, and taking the throne off his shoulders is the only way I can repay him. You have to understand where I’m coming from.”
I decided to let the talk of the throne drop. “What do I do now?”
Cal shrugged, “Give him space, and time.”
“Do you think he will forgive me?”
Cal looked doubtful, “You’re his mate, I’m sure he won’t stay mad.”
“You don’t sound too sure,” I said.
“I’m not.” Cal turned and walked back into the castle and after a long moment I followed him. I went upstairs to Seb’s room and paused. I heard Seb in the room, he was most likely pacing.
I knocked on the door and the footsteps stopped, “Seb?” I called, my voice shaking. “Seb, can I please talk to you?” Seb didn’t move and I felt a sharp pain across my chest when I realised he was deliberately not answering me.
I left the room and walked around the castle, not sure where I was going. I ended up at the piano and sat down on the bench. I lifted the cover off of the keys and stared down at them. I lifted my hands and hovered my fingers over the starting keys to the song Seb had taught me.
I tried to play, but the song came out wrong and twisted. After a few more tries I gave up and moved on. I wandered to the library, not finding any books that appealed to me. I tried the media room, but all of the movies seemed dull. I walked the gardens, but Seb had made a mess and they didn’t hold that same mystical quality. I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t want to swim, I couldn’t keep my thoughts focused on any task.
In the end, I went and stared out the large bay window in the front of the palace. It overlooked the front path. I stared out over the grounds, watching the guards trot from post to post. Suddenly, a hand clamped over my shoulder and I jumped, letting out a small squeak.
“I’m sorry to have frightened you,” the King said as I turned to face him.
I stretched a fake smile onto my face, “It’s alright, sir.”
The King nodded, “I was wondering if I could have your company for a moment?”
I bowed my head, “Of course.” It wasn’t as if he was really giving me the choice. The King started to walk and I followed. I quickly realised we were heading to his study. We came to a set of heavy mahogany doors and slipped in. Everything in his office was either dark wood or gold. He sat behind his desk and a large sculpted chair and motioned for me to sit as well.
“Now, Serena Hope, I think we both know why I called you here today,” the King removed the crown from his head and set it on a golden pedestal where it glistened.
I swallowed nervously, “My sister.”
The King furrowed his brows, “Your sister? I was under the impression we were going to discuss the future of the throne. But now you have peaked my interest.” I swore mentally and felt sweat collect on the surface of my palms. But there was something in his eyes that seemed almost challenging.
“N—no let’s talk about the throne. I think that Seb should have it,” I said quickly. The King twisted his hands together and leaned back in his chair.
“It belongs to Calvin by birthright,” The King countered.
I nodded, “Yes but Cal can’t handle hard times, and I’m sure as King hard times are unavoidable.”
The king nodded, seeming to take my words into consideration. “Yes, that is true. And the Goddess has warned me about the upcoming war.”
I shivered, “About that—”
“I will hear nothing on your prophecy, that will be fulfilled and that is final,” the King was quick in dismissing me. I lowered my head and tried not to cry.
“Very well,” I whispered.
“Now, the throne. I want to be sure that you can handle it, my dear.”
I looked up, “Me? What do I have to do with it? Seb would be King—”
“And you would be the Queen. A good King needs a good woman, a strong woman. Are you strong enough to take on the responsibility, Serena? You have not shown the best behaviour over the course of your mating with Sebastian.”
I sighed, “I know I did not act the best, but I was afraid. I was afraid of Sebastian, of the palace, of mating. I missed my sister terribly and my pack. I acted childishly, but I think I’ve grown since then. Maybe not by much, but I intend to keep growing. I—I care about Seb, and I want to see him excel, I want to be there for him when he triumphs and when he loses. I think—I know I can do it.”
The King nodded and a small smile flashed onto his face, “That is what I like to hear; you need to be dedicated to Seb if you want to see him excel. He will need your support to be a good ruler.”
“I know that ruling must be hard, and I want to help share the burden with Seb. He has such a good heart when he lets you reach it. I know he will do a great job on the throne, he will not disappoint.”
The King leaned forward, “To be honest, Serena. I don’t think Seb will disappoint me, I trained him myself. I think it will be you who will disappoint me.”
I swallowed, “I won’t.”
“Have you already, my dear? You smell guilty,” The King stared at me, his eyes blazing.
I felt my hands start to shake, “I—I—”
“What was that you were saying about your sister?” The King titled his head down, his eyes boring into mine.
“I didn’t s-say anything about h-her,” I stammered.
“You were going to,” the King insisted, “I would love to hear what it was you were going to say.”
I shook my head, “I was only going to say that she’s coming for a visit.”
The King shook his head and sighed, “Serena, I was hoping you would come clean to me. Do you really think I wouldn’t know what was happening in my own castle? Sebastian trashed my wife’s garden and screamed and yelled. Do you not think one of the maids would tell me what you two were fighting about?”
I licked my lips nervously, “I just—”
“What you said before, about your faith in Sebastian was heartwarming, Serena. But I’m afraid having you basically lead an attack on the castle would more or less but Seb out of the running for the throne.”
“I never asked my sister to come,” I argued.
“But you told her where to march. You have disappointed me, and you have disappointed your mate. When were you planning on telling me there was a force coming to attack us?”
I looked down, “I—I don’t know.”
“Serena,” The King said as he stood, “I feel betrayed.”
“I’m sorry, I never meant to—”
“You never meant to but you did!” The King screamed. His temper was similar to Seb’s. “And now what? I must put my wolves on the line to defend you? You’ve not even been here a year and you have already brought dishonour to this family.”
I felt my eyes water, “I didn’t mean to betray your trust or anything, Sir. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time.”
The King walked forward and slapped my across the cheek, leaving me stunned. “Trying to plead ignorance will not help you, girl.”
The doors flew open and Seb stormed in, looking murderous. “Father,” he boomed, “Step away from my mate.” Cal strode in after Seb, looking equally as angry.
The King stood up and puffed out his chest, “Sebastian, I need to have words with you about your mate’s misbehaviour. How dare you not tell me that we are under siege?”
“I needed time to process what she told me. But before we speak about Serena’s sister, would you please explain why I heard a smack from down the hall? Did you dare hit my mate?” Seb’s eyes were no longer green but an inky black. I lowered my head, not wanting him to see the cheek that was surely red.
The King’s own eyes darkened, “I shall do as I see fit, you won’t discipline her so I have to.”
“Hey! She’s a person and deserves better than to be abused, you’re supposed to be the protector of wolf kind, not the one who abuses femme wolves!” Cal yelled.
Seb’s chest heaved as he panted, trying to reign in his wolf, “Serena, look at me,” he demanded. I shook my head, knowing what he wanted. He wanted an excuse to fight with his father. And that was something I could not give him.
“No,” I whispered.
“See! Even now she disrespects you!” the King yelled, “You have no control!”
“She’s trying to stop him from ripping your head off!” Cal yelled, “She’s a person, she’s not to be controlled like a pet!”
“She needs to learn her place!”
“And you think hitting her will teach her that!” Seb screamed.
The King laughed, “Isn’t it what you were doing a few months ago, Sebastian?” Seb’s eyes seemed to go from black to bottomless as his lips curled and his teeth were bared. He growled and crouched slightly as his wolf took over.
“Seb,” Cal warned, “You don’t want to do this.”
Seb laughed darkly, “Actually I do. Serena, show me your face.” I closed my eyes and turned my face towards him. There was a sharp intake of breath and I knew that my fears were correct, Seb wanted the confirmation. A loud growl filled the room and I opened my eyes as clothing tore apart and shredded.
Before me stood a large, black wolf with shaggy fur and green eyes. Those eyes were fixated on the King as he growled and snapped his teeth. Within seconds The King had shifted as well into a greying wolf who looked as though it had a nasty streak.
“Well crap,” Cal muttered as the two wolves danced around each other, growling and snapping.
“Cal! We have to stop them, they can’t fight.”
Cal looked up at me as if just remembering I was there, “Crap, you can’t shift can you? Serena you have to get out of here, it’s going to be messy.” Cal removed his shirt and shoes and grinned at me when he saw my facial expression.
“I like this shirt and these shoes were fifty dollars, I don’t want to wreck them,” Cal told me.
I swallowed as Seb lunged at his father but was relieved when the King rolled to the side, avoiding the attack. “Leave Serena, we can’t have you in the middle of this,” Cal said. And then Cal was shifting, his body forming into another.
I back up against the far wall and surveyed the scene in front of me. Three wolves ready to duke it out over myself and the throne. If that wasn’t enough things got worse when a guard wolf rushed in and said, “My King! They are here! The army is here!”