Chapter Eighteen: Divided
“Repeat to me what happened, Goldstein,” Seb said as he paced back and forth in his new office. His crown gleamed cruelly on top of his dark hair. As he walked my eyes followed the crown.
“I was escorting Miss Serna and Miss Rayne to their home pack. And when we got there, the whole village was destroyed and people lay everywhere. I exited the carriage and was thrown fifty feet away by an invisible force where I was knocked out cold.”
Seb pursed his lips, “I sent you with them to protect them.”
“It wasn’t his fault, Seb,” I argued.
Seb’s eyes were distant as he looked to me, “I didn’t ask for your input Serena.”
Cal rolled his eyes, “Come on now, Sebby. Stop being so sour, she’s the queen by right.”
“She’s not my full mate, Cal. So technically she’s not the Queen,” Seb shot back. I looked down, feeling a pang in my chest.
“It was the Black Luna,” Rayne said, “We saw her, she’s real.” Cal rubbed her back, looking concerned. I suddenly felt cold and wished Seb would display some sort of affection towards me.
Seb looked towards Rayne, “Were you conscious?”
Rayne shook her head, “No, I got knocked out. Only Serena knows what happened.” Seb sighed heavily, he had wished to avoid talking to me. But if he wanted the story, he had to get it from me.
“Serena, what happened?” Seb inquired.
I straightened up, “I exited the carriage and we spoke. She knows about the prophecy, that’s why she was tracking me down, so she could kill me before I killed her.” Seb swallowed and looked down, his face going pale. “She was going to do it too, but this guy ran out of the forest.”
Seb looked up at me, “Who was it?”
I shrugged, “I don’t know, but I think his name was Lance or Logan or something with a ‘L’. Anyways, he came out and tried to talk to her. They argued and then she was going to do it, but he tackled her and saved my life. Then we ran.”
Seb walked over to his desk and took the crown off of his head, he placed it in front of his seat and let his shoulders sag. He dragged a chair in front of me and took my hands in his. “I’m sorry,” he murmured.
I smirked, “It’s alright.”
“I’ve been acting like a jerk just because you were honest and shared your feelings with me; which is something I told you to do. I’m sorry Serena,” Seb said.
I smiled, “It’s alright, you’re forgiven.”
He smiled wryly, “Two days of this King stuff and I’m already tired, I need you.”
I chuckled, “Why don’t you ever listen to me?”
He smiled sheepishly, “I usually do listen to your advice after I’ve already pushed it aside and then realised you were right.”
I laughed, “You’re an idiot.”
Seb’s smiled sobered into a frown, “Now, what did the Black Luna say?”
I looked down, “She’s looking for her child, that’s why she’s tearing North America apart. Daryn Reynolds—her dad and the Alpha of the Black Luna pack—took her kid. She’s trying to get it back.”
Seb looked down, “Why doesn’t she get help from the White Wolves?”
“Apparently she’s been looking for seven years,” I said.
Cal nodded, “Tate Peters died seven years ago, if she had asked for help then they would have been too disorganized to help anyone.”
Seb folded his arms across his chest and leaned back, “We need to find Daryn Reynolds obviously. I don’t understand why she wouldn’t go to father.”
“She did,” we all looked to see Seb’s mother standing in the doorway.
Cal sat up, looking startled. The old King and Queen hadn’t left their wing of the castle since Seb had taken the crown. The Queen walked in and placed herself on the white couch. She was not wearing as big a dress as she usually did, and her jewelry was not so eye catching.
“Haven Mathie came here six years ago. At that time, she wasn’t so bad off, she was struggling with the dark side of herself, but I could tell it wasn’t long until she was totally gone. Haven and Alpha Logan Evers had been looking for their daughter for a year with no luck. They came to your father to see if they could get the help of the King’s guard to find their daughter, Ebony.”
“What happened?” Seb growled, he sounded outraged.
“Your father knew about Daryn Reynolds, he knew about Haven. He had since she was born. When Haven’s parents were admitted to the mental asylum, he had her moved in with her Aunt before Daryn could get to her. Your father didn’t know for sure if the Black Luna legend was myth or fact, but he looked over her. And then, she met her mate and things got messy. Somehow Daryn got to her, and changed her into a monster.”
“Why didn’t Dad do anything?” Cal yelled.
The Queen looked down, “Your father was worried now that she had power she would become destructive. Haven somehow managed to drive off her father and then she fell pregnant. Your father did not want to take Haven away from her child. The Moon Goddess came to your father in a dream and told him that her child would bear the same curse as her. Your father tried to add protection to their ranks, he sent in Clause Samuels to be their pack doctor. As you both know, Mr. Samuels is actually part of the King’s guard. He got close to Haven and was to report back to your father whenever her powers escalated.”
“What happened to him?” I asked.
“He was murdered by Daryn Reynolds; such mayhem broke loose following his death that no one but a human woman was watching over the child. She was stolen by Daryn himself. When Haven and Alpha Evers came begging for help, your father turned them away. He was disappointed in himself and quite frankly, he was afraid of what Haven had become. Of course, he didn’t know that his saying no would cause her to lose herself completely.”
“She needed his help!” Seb cried, “How could he turn her away?”
“Six years of destruction followed. Every time a pack was destroyed by the Black Luna, your father swept it under the rug, embarrassed by his failure. Now Seb, you and your mate have to pay for his mistakes and for that I am sorry.”
Seb shook his head, “It’s not right, our people should be able to come to us for help and get it! The connection between the royals and the people is just too flimsy, half of them don’t even know the names of us in the royal family!”
Cal looked at his mother, “Now what?”
“We wait until the Black Luna comes to the castle, whether it is now or later she will come.”
“And I’ll have to fight her,” I said numbly, “I will have to kill her.”
“You’re not going to be able to!” Goldstein cried, “She flung me through the air without touching me. Serena, you’re a stunted wolf! What are you supposed to do?”
Seb growled, “Watch it, Goldstein.”
I looked up at Seb and smiled half heartedly, “It’s okay, I know I’m stunted. Obviously, I’m never going to shift.”
Rayne looked determined, “I will fight her,” she vowed, “I’ll take your place.”
“You can’t,” the old Queen hissed, “The Goddess was precise in saying it was our youngest son’s mate who would fight the dark one. That is Serena, not you Rayne. That is why we sent out searching parties for her and not you.”
“Well she’s my sister, and I don’t want her to be slaughtered the same way our father was,” Rayne’s voice was like a dagger as she verbally attacked Seb’s mother.
Cal touched her arm, “We won’t let her be slaughtered.”
Rayne pushed his arm away, “How is she supposed to beat her? She hasn’t even shifted! She has no training! She’s soft hearted! I should be the one to do it.”
“It’s my prophecy,” I mumbled numbly, “It’s something I have to handle.”
Rayne stood, “You shouldn’t have to!”
I shrugged, “You shouldn’t of had to take care of me when mom and dad died. But you did. You shouldn’t have had to attack the castle to get me back. But you did. I shouldn’t have to fight the Black Luna. But I will.”
Rayne narrowed her eyes at me, “No, Serena. It’s not happening. I won’t let you—I won’t—”
“Won’t what?” Seb asked lowly.
Rayne looked at Seb with a fiery glare, “You! You did this to my sister! I hate you! You stupid mutt, I hate you.” Tears fell from Rayne’s eyes and to my astonishment she didn’t try to wipe them away. I had never seen Rayne cry.
“Don’t talk to your King like that!” Seb’s mother yelled.
Cal stood, angling himself in front of Rayne, “Don’t speak to my mate like that.” The old Queen looked like she had been slapped; her eyes were as wide as saucers.
“Don’t speak to your mother like that,” she retorted briskly.
“Don’t speak to Cal like that, mother,” Seb ordered quietly.
“I won’t lose you, Serena,” Rayne whispered, “You’re all I have left.”
I looked up at her, my mouth falling open, “I—” Rayne didn’t wait for me to say any more. Instead, she pushed past Cal and stomped out of the room.
Goldstein stood beside me, blowing out a long withheld breath. I looked at my own reflection in his shiny, golden armour and frowned at it. I was a complete mess. “Well, with your permission, Sir, I would like to leave to recollect my troops.”
Seb nodded his head and the Golden man left the room. “Mother, please return to your quarters, I need to speak with Serena.”The old Queen’s eyes flashed to me before she nodded, kissed Seb’s forehead and left. As soon as the heavy mahogany doors clicked shut Seb was moving.
“What are you doing?” I asked. I watched as Seb darted to the closet and pulled out a large duffel bag. He scrambled around his office, throwing things in it; a cell phone, a wad of money, credit cards, books.
“I’m packing,” he answered shortly.
“For?” I inquired.
He turned around slowly, his green eyes blazing. “Do you really think I’m going to let you be slaughtered?”
I was at a loss for words, “I don’t understand.”
Seb threw what looked like a passport into the bag, “I will not stand by and watch my mate be torn to pieces by a lunatic. You’re leaving.”
I raised an eyebrow, “Am I?” Seb heard the challenge in my voice and froze. He slowly raised his eyes to meet mine.
“Serena, don’t fight me on this.”
I stood and walked over to him, picking up the passport; beside my picture read the name; Maria Collins. “I’m from Florida? Cool, I’ve never been.” Seb reached out and took the passport from me; he then began to play with the pages with his fingers.
“When I heard what happened to you, I began preparing. I had these maid, and have already booked your flights and arranged places for you to stay. You will move countries every two months.”
I smiled and put my hand on his cheek. A slight amount of stubble had grown there, telling me he was too stressed to consider shaving. It was then that I noticed the dark groves underneath his eyes.
“I can’t do that, Seb,” I told him softly. He closed his eyes, and looked down; my hand fell from his face.
“Please Serena,” he begged, “I need to keep you safe.” I looked down and spotted a map in the bag, I pulled it out and flattened it. I looked to the first circled destination and shook my head.
“Switzerland? Do you really think that I’ll be safe there? She’ll find me, no matter where I run. It’s inevitable.”
Seb took the map from me, and refolded it. “Going into hiding will only be temporary, I am going to track down Daryn Reynolds. I’m going to get to the root of the problem. I’ll get her kid back, and maybe she’ll leave you alone.”
I smiled, “You’re sweet Seb. But do you really think you can out play the Mother of Wolves? She’s a Goddess, Seb. She plans our lives, and if she’s told us I will have to kill the Black Luna, than that’s what I have to do.”
“I won’t let you kill yourself in the process,” Seb growled, his eyes going an inky black colour. I put my hands on his shoulders and dragged him to me, hugging him tightly.
“We just have to spend time together until she comes,” I whispered.
He pushed me away, “Are you really so ready to accept your death?” I opened my mouth and snapped it closed again, not sure what to say. “You will not be fighting. You will not be dying. I don’t care if I have to lock you up again, I will keep you safe.”
Seb turned and stalked away, but before he reached the door, he turned around, “Start packing.”
I knocked on the door lightly, my knuckles just grazing the wood. “Knock, knock,” I said, my voice thick. Rayne was hunched over on the bed, staring at the intricate patterns on the duvet. I could see she had pulled a thread loose and had begun to play with it.
“Serena,” she said dryly.
I came and sat beside her, leaning against the headboard. “Can we talk?”
“Isn’t that what we’re doing?” she pointed out. Usually, Rayne took pleasure in calling me out on stupid things like this, but she didn’t seem to be amused.
“Do you remember when Mom and Dad used to take us to that little frozen pond in the winter?” I asked distantly.
Rayne peeked up at me, “Yeah, sure.”
“Remember those skates you gave me? The one with the flower that was half falling off?”
Rayne sighed, “Why does this matter?”
“I remember when we were skating, I skated over a thin part and I fell through the ice. I was barely holding on, my fingers were digging into the ice, desperate to hold on.” Rayne stayed silent, so I continued on. “Mom and Dad were too far away, so you came to my rescue. You grabbed my hands, dug your skates into the ice and pulled me out of the water.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Rayne sounded tired.
I smiled at her, “As much as I loved Mom and Dad, I only really remember you taking care of me. When I fell down and scraped my knees you picked me back up and dusted me off. When one of the other pups were mean to me, you would kick them. You’ve taken care of me my whole life.”
Rayne looked down, “Serena I—”
“But I don’t need you to take care of me anymore, Rayne. I’m old enough to take care of myself now. I can make decisions for myself. I know it’s hard, but you have to let me do this, okay?”
“I can’t let you be slaughtered,” Rayne said icily.
I reached out for her hand, “The thing is, I don’t think I’m going to die. I—I connected with her—the Black Luna I mean. I understand her, I think I can help her. I don’t think our battle is much of a battle at all.”
“You’re delusional,” Rayne spat, “You’re going to be ripped apart like Dad was.”
I tightened my grip on her hand, “Please Rayne, I need you with me.”
Rayne looked down, “Serena, I’ve been looking out for you my whole life. I’ve only ever wanted you to be safe and happy. If you want to throw all that away, then fine, do it. But I won’t watch.”