I couldn’t believe what had just gone down. From the moment Jayce and Cameron had appeared in the Kingdom with Obi, to the scene that confronted us on Kyan’s terrace - my heart hadn’t stopped racing.
I stared down at Quinn as she sat on her bathroom floor. I’d just finished picking the last piece of glass out of the bottom of her foot, she hadn’t moved a muscle the entire time.
Nothing. She stared blankly ahead, no ounce of emotion on her face. I sighed and sat down next to her.
“He’ll come around Quinn. He’s just hurting-”
“What?” I asked, confused.
Quinn turned to me, sadness and hurt in her blue eyes.
“You knew he was my mate, didn’t you? That’s why you invited me here...”
My eyes widened and I shook my head frantically.
“No! Oh no Quinn. I promise you that’s not why I invited you. I did know, yes. But Kyan told me after you were already on your way here”
I couldn’t tell if she believed me, her face giving nothing away.
“How did he know?”
“I’m not sure. He was furious when I told him you were coming here, he tore his office apart in a rage. This is all my fault, I should have listened to him”
I placed my hand gently over Quinn’s and gave it a little squeeze.
“I need to help fix this. What can I do to help?”
“Jayce will never forgive me...”
“But you didn’t do anything” I said, “did you?”
“I wanted to”
I had heard about how strong the true mate bond could be. It started with lust and then built from there. It’s was the god’s way of ensuring that the mating bond would be sealed, that a new line of shifters would be created from that pairing; a pairing that was fated.
“That’s not your fault” I answered, trying to make her feel better, “Jayce knows how strong the pull is, he’s been through it...with you”
Quinn groaned and closed her eyes, dropping her head between her knees.
“Exactly. He knows how much I wanted him...how much I still want him. He’ll know that I wanted your brother just as much”
“Do you though?”
“I love Jayce, with all my heart. The Prince, on the other hand...I despise him, maybe as much as he despises me”
My brother was an idiot. Of course she hated him, there weren’t many people left in this kingdom that actually liked him. He didn’t deserve Quinn, Jayce did.
“You need to go speak to Jayce. Just tell him what you told me. My parents have him in a room down the hall, it’s guarded but I can get you in”
Quinn looked up at me, fear in her eyes. After a moment of silent contemplation she nodded.
“Ok. Let’s go”
I took a deep breath and stood outside Jayce’s door. The guards had no issue with me going in, they were there to prevent Jayce and Cameron from coming out.
Good luck to them, they’d need it.
I knocked on the door but there was no answer. I could feel Jayce’s presence inside and I knew he’d be able to feel mine, he was ignoring me.
Jayce. Please. I need to speak with you.
I waited a moment but there was no reply. Part of me wanted to turn around and walk away but I knew this conversation had to happen, there was no moving forward if it didn’t.
I’m coming in.
I opened the door slowly and stepped inside. My eyes were drawn immediately to Jayce. He was sitting on the side of the bed, facing away from me. He had no top on and my breath caught in my throat as I saw the extent of the injuries on his back. The Prince had really done a number on him. I took a step towards the bed and stopped as I saw Jayce’s body tense.
“His wounds aren’t healing”
I turned to face Cameron, he was standing near the bathroom door. The white marble floor in the bathroom was no longer white but now red, stained in Jayce’s blood. So much blood.
“Why?” I asked, my voice barely audible.
“His wolf is in a bad way. A rejected wolf can’t heal their human, they’re too busy trying to stop themselves from going feral”
My hand flew up and covered my mouth. He thought I’d rejected him!
“Jayce, No!” I cried and ran over to him, grovelling on my knees and pressing my face against his thigh.
His whole body flinched but he didn’t look down at me. My stomach turned as I saw his wounds up close, many still actively bleeding.
“Jayce. Please look at me, if you do you’ll see the love in my eyes. Love I have for you, only you”
Still there was nothing, maybe the slight clench of his jaw but nothing else.
“Jayce. I had no idea. If I had known, I wouldn’t have come here. You need to believe me. I don’t want anyone else...I don’t love anyone else. It’s only you”
Cameron. You need to help me. Please.
I looked to Cameron with pleading eyes but he turned away, not even replying to my mind link. My heart hurt, I’d really fucked up. My mate wouldn’t look at me and my being there appeared to cause him physical pain. I dropped my head down on to Jayce’s knee, a sob tearing through me as tears fell from my eyes. If I could take all the hurt from Jayce’s body and heart and put it in mine, I would. There was nothing that I wouldn’t do to have him forgive me. I could imagine how I would be feeling if Jayce looked at another woman the way he had seen me looking at Kyanite - I would be inconsolable too.
Another sob escaped my mouth, my body shuddering as the tears refused to stop.
“I’m so so sorry. I didn’t know. Please forgive me. I didn’t know” I cried.
I stopped, wiping the tears and snot from my face, before looking up at Jayce. He looked into my eyes. Where I expected to see hate, I just saw pain...so much pain.
“Excuse me?” I asked, maybe I had heard him wrong.
My body went numb. I could hear the blood pumping in my ears. Everything around me stopped. I was in a fog, a haze. He knew? He knew.
“The scent around the back of the compound, it didn’t take long once I went out into the forest to figure out what it was. An unmated male panther...one of royal blood, not unlike an Alpha”
I stared silently at Jayce as he spoke. His face was pale, his lips chapped, his eyes dull.
“To begin with I didn’t think much of it, but then I kept finding you...at the back perimeter. You...part panther. You were drawn to the scent. It was designed for you, after all.”
I took in what Jayce was saying. I didn’t know how to take it. How did he know and I didn’t? Why didn’t he say something? Didn’t her trust me?
“I...I don’t understand...if you knew, why didn’t you let me know?” I stood up and took a few steps away from Jayce, his closeness clouding my mind, “you kept leaving me. Were you...were you testing me? Seeing if I’d go running off with him?”
Jayce sighed and shook his head slowly, the movement causing him to wince in pain. I wanted to go back over to him, comfort him; but I was frozen to the spot.
“I wasn’t testing you, Quinn. I was hunting him. I was going to kill him”
My eyes darted over to Cameron. He looked at me then down at his feet, shuffling his weight from foot to foot uncomfortably.
“You knew too? That’s why you were acting so strange around me”
Cameron didn’t look at me. I glared back at Jayce, anger creeping into my tone.
“You had him spy on me? Making sure I didn’t run off like some hussy while you went behind my back to try and kill my mate that I didn’t even know existed!”
There was guilt written all over Jayce’s face. Maybe it wasn’t me that she was so angry with, maybe he was angry at himself.
So he fucking should be!
“Quinn. I knew you weren’t going to run off but only because you didn’t know he existed. My plan was to kill him before it got that far. His death wouldn’t have affected you, you wouldn’t have felt it. I was trying to protect you”
I clenched my fists at my sides. My panther itching to break free and add to Jayce’s injuries, my wolf desperately trying to hold her back.
“How fucking dare you?” I spat.
Jayce’s eyes widened and he looked up at me.
“Excuse me?” He growled.
“How dare you make a decision like that for me? I don’t even know how to express how...how betrayed that makes me feel. Severing that connection was not your decision to make. You should have told me!”
I was furious. The gods had, for whatever fucked up reason, fated another mate to me. It was not Jayce’s place to decide to sever that bond before it even had a chance to exist. I was not his possession. This was not his choice.
“I should have told you? Why? So you could go run off with him the second you got the chance?” Jayce growled, pushing himself to his feet.
I watched as Cameron made a move towards Jayce as he gripped the side of the bed for balance. I’d forgotten Cameron was still in the room.
“You know I wouldn’t have done that” I answered.
“But you did!” Jayce gripped the post of the bed tightly, his knuckles going white and the wood splintering under his grip.
“No! You left me! You kept leaving me. You were the one that ran away, not me. I stayed at Fern Creek. I played the good little Luna and did my duty. So you could go out in the woods and hunt my mate that I didn’t even know existed”
I saw something change in Jayce’s eyes. He clearly hadn’t thought of it from my perspective. Fucking typical.
“What if I had met him first?” I asked.
Jayce stood there for a moment. He said nothing. Then he closed his eyes and sat back down on the edge of the bed.
“What if I had met Prince Kyanite first and then you had come along? Imagine if he chose to kill you and I never got to meet you, never got to feel what we have together. My heart hurts thinking of a life without you in it. I don’t love the Prince. Hell, I don’t even like him. But I love you”
I stared at Jayce. He was taking in everything I was saying and I could tell from his face that it wasn’t a perspective that he had thought of before. I also noticed that his wounds had started to heal, which meant his wolf was forgiving me and knew I hadn’t rejected him.
“I would have done everything in my power to have you” Jayce answered after several minutes of silent contemplation, “that’s my concern. I know what he is feeling right now, because I’ve felt it. He won’t back down. The connection is there now and it will continue to intensify until something gives...like what happened today”
Jayce was right but I had been caught off guard. I knew now who Kyanite was and the way my body would respond to him. I knew what had to be done.
“That won’t happen again” I said.
I stepped over to Jayce and sat next to him on the bed. My wolf whined, wanting all of this to be over, wanting her mate to adore her again.
“We will sit down with the Royal family. We will discuss their issues that they wanted to raise. We will talk about how best to bridge the gap between wolves and panthers; and we will do it as a team. Alpha and Luna. Then we will go back to Fern Creek, away from here. Amicable...but distant. We never have to see the Prince again”
Jayce reached his hand across and squeezed my knee gently. His touch lit a fire in my soul. It was more than just a touch, it was an understanding, it was an apology, it was forgiveness. My wolf stirred inside me and my skin heated, my breathing laboured.
Jayce looked to me and I could tell he was feeling the same way. We had fought and now our animals needed to make up, reconnect.
Cameron cleared his throat from the side of the room, reminding us of his presence.
“Don’t you two even fucking think about it” he groaned.