Chapter Eight: Chlorine and Claims
“No, put that finger here,” Seb instructed me. I bent my pinky finger to the right key and smiled at Seb. He was teaching me how to play the piano better. Compared to him, I was barely mediocre.
“There you go,” he encouraged as I worked on the bridge again. We had been working on this piece for most of the day. It was called River Flows in You by Yiruma.
I grinned, “I got it!” At the last moment, my finger hit the wrong key and I sighed heavily. I really had to stop jinxing myself.
Seb laughed in my ear and I let his hands replaced mine as he played the piece for me again. It was intriguing to watch him play, it was like his playing the piano was a sixth sense, he had a real talent for it.
“I wish I was as good as you are,” I said heavily. Watching him play made me happy but made me feel hopeless. How was I ever going to get that good? Seb laughed again, the sound warmed me.
“Have more hope Miss. Hope,” he joked. He liked making puns with my last name. We had spent the last three days together, joking, laughing, talking, playing.
I snorted, “Okay, fine. Let’s have another go then.” I replaced his fingers with my own and concentrated as I played. Again, I made the same mistake.
Seb thought for a moment and then nodded, “I’ve identified the problem.”
I cocked and eyebrow, “Really? And what’s the problem?”
“You’re over thinking it, you’re not letting yourself feel the song. Stop reading the sheet music and feel it.”
I rolled my eyes, “You have no idea how corny you just sounded.”
Sebastian smirked down at me, his green eyes playful. “I’m serious! That’s how all the best piano players get good, they stop reading the music and they feel it instead. Let it consume you, feel your way around the keys.”
I bit my lip, not sure if he was playing me or not. But when I looked at his handsome, chiselled face, I saw nothing but sincerity. He was being honest. The very thought made my heart flutter. These past three days I had seen a totally different side to him.
I took a deep breath, “You better not be screwing with me,” I chided.
Seb smiled, “Never,” he breathed. With that small bit of reassurance, I closed my eyes and went for it. I played the piece perfectly which made me laugh and smile. Seb too, celebrated and bragged about his amazing skills as a teacher.
I found myself hugging him in joy and froze when I realised this. He froze too, his breathing stopped and then we both kind of melted at the same time. Enjoying the nearness of each other, my whole body was alive from a simple hug.
“To celebrate,” Seb said as he started to play. I was lost in awe as I watched his fingers move impossibly fast across the keys. I couldn’t move as he played, I was lost in it.
“What was that?” I asked after he had finished.
“All of Me By Jon Schmidt,” he said.
I grinned at him, “That was awesome!” Seb grinned back and stood up from the piano bench, stretching out his long body.
“Let’s go do something fun,” he said. I nodded and accepted his hand, letting him pull me to my feet. We walked through the castle side by side. We were close but not touching. I saw Cal on our way upstairs and caught the look he sent me. He was happy and proud that I was giving Seb another chance.
As we were walking outside I looked out of the window and grinned. I reached out and grabbed Seb’s arm, hauling him to a stop. “Please?” I asked, pointing out of the window. He took a step back and leaned to see what I was seeing.
He raised an eyebrow, “You know it’s going to be cold right?”
I shrugged, “We’re werewolves for a reason. Come on, don’t tell me the future Prince of Wolves can’t handle a cold swimming pool.”
Seb puffed out his chest, his wolf rising to a challenge. “Fine, swimming sounds good. Can you swim?”
I felt my heart sink, “Not well.”
Seb smirked, “I guess I’m your swimming instructor as well as your piano tutor then.” I snorted and pushed past him into his room. I walked into my closet and pushed around piles of clothing. Surely the maids had brought me a bathing suit if the palace had a pool.
Sure enough, I found a blue bathing suit and rushed to shut the closet door. It was a large walk in which left me with a lot of space to change. I tugged on the bathing suit and stepped outside, aiming to get to the bathroom without Seb seeing me.
Of course, he was sitting on the bed, waiting for me. And as soon as I stepped out of the closet his eyes were soaking me in. I blushed and headed for the bathroom. But his arms caught my waist making me jump.
“You can’t wear that Serena,” he breathed.
“Why not?” I challenged.
Seb growled playfully, “It’s far to revealing for the future Queen.” I rolled my eyes and unwound his hands from my bare flesh. Yes, we had gotten closer, but not that close.
“I can wear whatever I want,” I said confidently.
Seb’s eyes darkened by a few shades, “Serena, don’t do this.”
“Sebastian, don’t do this,” I mocked petulantly. I knew I wasn’t supposed to push his buttons, but I had to see how far he would go before reverting back to his old ways.
Sebastian grabbed my wrist, not hard but hard enough. “Seriously, don’t ruin this Serena. It’s already hard to keep my wolf in check without you challenging me. Please change.”
I shook my head slowly and took my wrist back, “You’re not winning this one.” I moved past him and headed to the bathroom. I pulled a towel off of the hook and wrapped it around my body.
I headed back outside to where Seb was sitting. He looked calmer, more in control than before. He looked me over and grumbled something before walking over to the door and holding it open for me.
I silently rejoiced knowing that I had won this battle. I slipped past him and we walked to the backyard. My feet were cold as I padded down the stone floors and I wished I had thought to slip on a pair of flip flops.
We passed Cal in the living room, sitting and reading an old book. The title was worn so that I couldn’t make out the flaked gold lettering. “Hey Cal,” I called.
Cal looked up from his reading and sent us both and easy smile, “What’s up guys?”
Before Seb could answer I spoke, “We’re going swimming, do you want to come.”
Seb growled, “No.”
Cal chuckled, “As much as I’d love to see you in a bikini, I don’t think my brother wants me to join you.”
Seb snarled, “Shut it Cal.”
I snorted and slapped Seb’s chest, feeling at ease. “He was just joking around. Are you sure Cal?” Cal never got the chance to answer.
“No Serena, he shouldn’t be joking about that stuff. You’re my mate. It’s disrespectful.”
“Lighten up,” I chided him, he was always so damn serious.
Cal smirked at Seb, “Yeah Sebby, take it from your mate. Don’t ruin the fun now.” Seb took a few deep breaths and managed a smile. Although, it looked like the smile you get right before you hurt someone.
“Alright, are we done here? The sun doesn’t last forever,” Seb noted. I nodded and sent Cal one last fleeting look before following Seb to the pool.
The pool itself was beautiful. It was kidney shaped and the tiles were an icy blue colour, a giant, golden sun was painted at the bottom. Along one side was rough rocks that provided privacy, a little trickle of water slid down them making it a water fall. Of course, you could jump off of them too since the pool was ten feet deep.
“Wow, this is some pool,” I commented. I dropped my towel on one of the many longue chairs and instantly started to shiver. The cold Alaskan air nipped at my exposed skin; I watched as the tips of my fingers and toes turned purple.
“Maybe it’s too cold,” Sebastian said as he watched me shake and shiver. He looked worried, a small crease sat between his eyebrows. He was concerned for me.
I shook my head, my teeth chattering, “N-no I just-t have t-to get in-n.”
Seb frowned and dropped his towel, he didn’t seem to be as cold as me. “Are you sure?” I nodded and pushed past him. I hesitated at the top of the pool, unsure how to approach the water. A part of me wanted to dip my toes in first, but I knew the best way was to just emerge yourself totally.
I squeezed my eyes shut and jumped. I hit the icy water with a loud slap and instantly the water rushed over my head. My muscles froze as the icy water seeped into my skin. Water rushed over my head and foolishly, I breathed in. Heavy chlorinated water stung my nose, mouth and throat as it filled my lungs.
I choked out the water and on instinct, took another breath. More water filled my lungs as I sunk to the bottom like a boulder. I was frozen and choking on the water. All of this happened within seconds.
I looked up and caught Seb’s distorted figure leaning over the pool side. The ripples and bubbles in the water disrupted his image. And then the water calmed and I could see him perfectly, he could see me as well.
Just as the water calmed, it was raging again as Seb dived in after me. I felt two strong hands clamp down on the tops of my arms and then I was being dragged upwards. My head broke the water and I felt even colder as the air attacked the icy water that clung to my face.
I started coughing as Seb dragged me to the poolside. He ran and wrapped both his and my towel around my frame. He was swearing and cursing as he worked to warm me up. I was still hacking up the chlorinated water.
“What the hell happened?” he demanded, he sounded more afraid than angry.
I took a deep breath, my nose and eyes still stung. “My muscles froze up.”
Seb shook his head and dragged me to him, “Are you alright?” He asked urgently.
I nodded, “I’m fine, my eyes sting that’s all.” He grabbed my face and turned so that he could look at me. His eyes wracked my features, drinking them in. When he was satisfied that I was alright he leaned back.
He was shivering now, he too was dripping wet. I felt bad and opened up my arms for him to crawl into, we could share the warmth the towel together. Seb surprised me by shaking his head.
“I’m f-fine,” he said, his teeth chattering together. He was so cold I could here the snapping noises of his jaw as he shivered.
I shook my head, “You’re freezing, come here.”
He shook his head again, “No, Serena you don’t understand, I can’t.” He looked to be in physical pain.
I rolled my eyes, “You’re being stupid.” I moved over to sit beside him and wrapped my arms around him so the towels were around us both. His skin was cold and wet but I felt it gradually start to heat up.
And then I felt a piercing hot pain in my shoulder and screamed. I looked left to see Seb’s jaws clamped around my shoulder. Small rivers of blood streamed down my shoulder, soaking the towels.
I felt woozy as Seb unclenched his jaws from my skin and stared at the mark he had just made in horror. My head started spinning as I too stared at the bite marks.
“What the hell?” I mumbled. And then I was consumed by darkness.
“I cannot believe you Sebastian!” I heard a voice yell. It was high and shrill, it must have been his mother. “How could you be so irresponsible!”
“It was an accident,” another voice argued. Seb.
“It was about time,” a deep voice boomed. I assumed it was the king who was speaking.
I heard Cal sigh, “She’s going to be angry.”
Seb let out a nervous chuckle, “Well, technically speaking she won’t be able to get angry at me for at least a week, maybe longer.”
Cal laughed, “She may be different, you’re such an idiot man.” I heard two set of footsteps leave and I assumed the King and Queen had moved on.
I tried to lift my eyelids but found it to be an impossible battle. Not only was my shoulder aching, but I still felt chilled down to my bones. I felt warmth in my right hand and knew that Sebastian was holding it.
A part of me flared in agitation, how could he touch me after marking me against my will. But the anger only last a moment before it dissolved. I could only manage and small taste of what I wanted to feel, anger.
Seb sighed and he let go of my hand, “We were swimming. Well no, we weren’t really swimming. She jumped in and nearly drowned so I jumped in after her. And my wolf just went crazy, he was howling at me to mark her. To protect her. And then she moved closer to me, I told her I couldn’t but she moved close to me and I couldn’t stop myself. Before I knew it my teeth were in her skin and I was staring at a fresh mark.”
Cal sighed, “Oh Goddess.”
“A part of me doesn’t regret it though, I’ve wanted to mark her since the moment I met her. Now, everyone knows she’s mine.” Seb sounded proud, it made me feel a little warmer.
Cal laughed, “That’s another thing Seb, you have to stop treating her like an object.”
Seb growled, “I don’t treat her like an object, but she is my mate. Keep your paws and thoughts off of her.”
Cal sighed, “This is going to get interesting. Now that you’ve marked her your possessiveness will be off the charts. Oh Goddess help us all.”
This whole time I was fighting against my eyes. Finally, I managed to wrench them open. I realised then that I was in Seb’s bedroom and underneath five blankets. Although surrounded by warmth, I still felt cold.
“Serena!” Seb cried, relief was so strong in his voice it sounded like he was close to tears.
I licked my lips, they were cold. “You marked me.”
Seb nodded, looking guilty. “I’m sorry Serena, I didn’t mean to.”
I felt my eyes water, “Now, I really can’t leave can I?” I didn’t realise I felt this until I said it. But it made sense, now that Seb had me marked, I would never get to leave and live with my old pack and sister. Thinking of my sister sent a pang of pain through me, what would she think of all of this?
Seb’s face went pale, “What? You were thinking of leaving?”
“I’ve wanted to leave since the moment I got here!” I said, exhausted. How could he not know this. A few tears dribbled down my cheeks.
Seb’s face went from pale to red in seconds, “You are not leaving, you are mine now.”
I shook my head, “Seb—”
“Have these past few days meant absolutely nothing to you? I thought we were getting along?” he demanded. Cal looked full of sorrow as he watched the exchange.
“Just because we played the piano doesn’t mean I want to spend the rest of my life in this castle! I can’t just forget about everything that happened before Sebastian.”
Seb’s green eyes went black, “I guess your feelings don’t matter. You are staying here, with me, no matter what. Even if I have to chain you up myself. You’re not leaving.”
With that he walked out of the room, Cal trailing behind him. A look of pity on his face. I reached my hand up to my shoulder and felt the grooves where Seb’s teeth had cut into my skin. The mark was swollen and raised off of my skin.
A sob got caught in my throat as I felt the mark that would tie me to the Prince forever. There was no escaping now.