“Kiss me,” I said.
After leaving home, I‘d headed straight to where I knew they would be. Somewhere I knew that I definitely shouldn‘t be.
But there was no hesitation as I‘d confidently walked up and knocked on their door. And when Cai had answered, I‘d ignored his confusion and demanded the one thing I knew could make me feel better.
Because if it felt anywhere near as good as the first time, then maybe it would be enough to make me forget for a moment that everything was falling to pieces around me.
“Kiss me,” I repeated.
His eyes were wide, stunned at my request, but he wasn‘t moving. I could see he was still in the same attire he‘d been in earlier; the formal clothes making his body somehow look even more fitted.
I quietly sighed impatiently whilst his head tried to comprehend exactly what was happening.
However, I didn‘t wait for him to finish his sentence. It wasn‘t words I wanted right now… it was him.
I walked up and pulled on the collar of his shirt until his face was within reach of my own.
“Please, Cai…,” I whispered, as I looked up slowly from his lips to his eyes.
He was so close now that it caused a shiver of anticipation to run through my body. I needed this, I needed him, and I could see in his eyes that he wanted me too. The tension between us was becoming so intense that it felt tangible. 1
The cold night breeze swept around us and it only made the warmth coming from him even more inviting. I loosened the hand I had h****d onto his shirt and ran it all the way along his chest, feeling him under m y touch, until it rested on his broad shoulder. I wanted him closer, his body still feeling too far away.
My heart jumped a little when I saw him finally lean in closer and place his hand on the side of my head, his thumb resting against my cheek tenderly. And instinctively, I closed my eyes as I moved towards him, preparing myself for what would happen next.
But instead of feeling him against my lips, I felt him shift away… and kiss my cheek instead.
“No,” he said quietly. “Not like this.”
I snapped my eyes open to look at him.
“No… no, please, I need this,” I said and grabbed onto him tighter. “Please, Cai… I want you.”
He closed his eyes and looked pained, almost as if he was internally having a battle within himself.
“No, you said you wanted me,” I said, my voice becoming more frantic. “Why are you doing this now?”
“Because I honestly don‘t know if it‘s me you want right now, or if it‘s just you finding an outlet for your grief.”
I could feel as my cheeks began to burn in humiliation, my eyes tearing up, and instantly I dropped my
side as if he‘d just stung me. His words left me embarrassed and hurt over his rejection, and… angry. Angry that everyone was choosing to disappoint me today of all days.
Chaptei Hity Out
“Don‘t give me that c**p… I‘m sick of hearing people saying that to me today. I‘m fine! This isn‘t about Мута.”
‘Aria,” he said sternly. “You couldn‘t even stand to look at me today and yet somehow you‘re now on my doorstep begging for me. Excuse me if I‘m a little sceptical of the sincerity here.”
“Why do you even care? This is what you wanted, right? You just wanted to sleep with me?” I argued.” Well, here I am, Cai!”
I tried to grab at his hands but he took a step away, creating a small distance between us. I couldn‘t help but flinch at his movement to get away from me.
“I said I wanted you, Aria. You as a whole. Not… whoever the hell this is right now. And I honestly think that maybe, deep down, you do actually want me too… but the way you‘re acting right now just tells me that you‘re in too much pain to think clearly.”
I gritted my teeth. “There‘s nothing wrong with me…,” I whispered.
“The fact you can‘t even see it is part of the issue here.”
He sighed, calming himself down.
“Look,” he said. “I promise I‘ll be there for you, even if that’s just as a friend. But I have more self–respect than to sit back and let you use me because of the feelings I have for you. Because I do want you… and I honestly want nothing more than for you to tell me right now that I‘m wrong about all of this. But from what I can see, you need help, Aria, and I‘m happy to oblige… but not like that. Not if it‘s just temporary to help you deal with what‘s happened.”
I was silent. I wanted to speak, to tell him he was wrong, but I couldn‘t find the words.
“Aria?” he pressed. “Tell me that I‘m wrong and it‘s me you actually want. Or tell me that you want my help, and I‘ll help you.”
I could feel my heart racing as I tried to think… but ultimately shook my head. This wasn‘t the sort of on the spot decision I had expected to deal with when coming here. I wasn‘t ready for that sort of pressure right now.
“…I thought so,” he said quietly.
“I can‘t deal with this right now. I… I need to go.”
I took several steps away but Cai called out to me. His expression changed to one of worry and I could feel he was about to chase after me, but I held up a hand to warn him to stay away.
“Aria, wait, where are you going?”
I didn‘t reply and instead spun around, walking off into the night away from him. There was no point in staying any longer. I was already at the point of feeling humiliated and confused enough.
“Aria, promise me you‘re going home?”
But I didn‘t stop. I kept walking. I kept walking not really knowing where I was going but I knew I needed to keep moving.
However, after several minutes, I couldn‘t help it anymore, unable to hold it in. I screamed out into the sky; my frustration finally getting the better of me.
Aleric, my father, Cai… everyone that I had hoped would act one way, had ended up doing the opposite when I‘d needed them most. I had needed Aleric to believe me, to take my side. I‘d needed my father to push for Thea‘s arrest, or at least confinement until it was safe to find more evidence. And I‘d needed Cai… I‘d needed… 1
I shook the thoughts out of my head.
No, this was all Thea‘s fault. Everything had been fine before she‘d shown up. Myra would still be alive and I wouldn‘t be fighting with Aleric and my father. I wouldn‘t have to feel so messed up inside.
Everything was beginning to crumble around me, signs of the past starting to repeat.
And I realised then that if Aleric and my father weren‘t willing to do what needed to be done, then maybe would just do it myself. 1
I started moving again, walking with purpose towards the one place I could get my hands on somethingt o inflict as much pain to someone as I was currently in.
Because I was going to make Thea pay… and I would do it slowly, piece by piece, with the silver blade she used to kill Myra. I would make it agonising for her and ensure that she‘d suffer an even worse death poor Myra.
But I felt it the very second I thought of my plan to go see Thea; the Alpha command Aleric had placed on me. It wasn‘t happy with my intention to defy the order given to me. I winced, crying out in pain as it constricted itself around me, forcing my movements to stop.1
The ground then suddenly came rushing towards me as I fell, and I began to crawl even as the pain got worse; I was determined to keep going no matter the cost. It was as if a car was thrown on top of my body, crushing me slowly the more I fought against it
But it was too late to stop me.
In my head, I repeated the words I needed to tell myself; that I was marked by the Goddess, chosen, a Saintess, and no order should be able to contain me. If I wanted to go kill Thea, then goddammit, I would go kill her.
And so, I violently shoved at the restraints in my head, screaming against the unbearable pain it caused, until they finally broke off me like chains… and, instantly, I gasped with relief when the weight was lifted. It was as if an immediate sense of liberation filled me and I felt like I could suddenly do anything.
…I was free.
Without wasting any time, I picked myself back up and continued on my journey, my new freedom only coercing me onwards faster. I kept going until, finally, I came to the building where the evidence was kept locked up. The silver knife would be in there I knew, guarded by at least one warrior, but I wasn‘t concerned. Given how little time had passed since Aleric‘s decision, I was fairly sure that, as far they probably knew, I was still a part of the ongoing investigation.
Upon entering the building, I looked around. I‘d been here many times before during my Beta heir rounds but it felt like I was seeing it in a completely new light given how dark it already was outside. The entire place felt too empty and quiet but I knew there would be someone around.
I weaved through the hallways, remembering the way easily until I saw the room up ahead. A room guarded by only one warrior named Ray. Unfortunately, I didn‘t know him that well.
“Evening, Ray.” I greeted cautiously in a flat voice, approaching him slowly to gauge his response.
He looked confused as he saw me enter. “Beta heir? Why are you here so late?”
“Aleric asked me to pick something up. It‘s for the ongoing investigation.”
This wasn‘t necessarily a lie. It was definitely going to help with solving the issue of Myra‘s murderer on the loose.
He hesitated, looking uncomfortable, and probably realised that something wasn‘t right here.
“He most likely meant in the morning, Ma‘am. The evidence locker is kept shut until daylight hours. The warriors are Alpha ordered to stand guard for the duration of the night duty so I can‘t bypass that.”
“Oh, I understand, but this order comes from Aleric himself. I need to get in at his request, you see… which would be considered the same level of authority as your orders. It really is important, so if I can just
I tried to sidestep him to get closer to the door but he took a step in front of me, blocking my path.
“You should know as well as I do that I can‘t just let you in, Ma‘am. You‘ll need to leave and come back with the Alpha heir if the matter can‘t wait until the morning.”
“Ray,” I said, gritting my teeth. “I need to get in there. Just… move aside, please. Don‘t make me hurt you.”
His eyes narrowed. “Is that a threat?”
“It doesn‘t need to be.”
The words escaped my lips quickly before I could stop them and I knew right away it was a mistake. He could act out in defence is verbally threatened and a physical altercation with him would only make the situation worse. But the anger of being stopped for something so ridiculous was only fuelling my frustration more. Frustration caused by everything that had happened recently.
I needed to act quick before he could do anything and so I lunged towards the keys on his waist. He was faster than I expected though as his hand shot out, quickly encircling my wrist to stop me.
“Ray! Let go of me! Now!” I demanded, trying to pull my hand out of his grasp.
“I‘m keeping you detained here until I can call for assistance or get ahold of the Alpha heir himself. Threatening a member of the pack without just cause is punishable.”
I tried to pull my wrist away again but he held on tighter, his body now shuffling to compensate for the increasingly more aggressive attempts I was trying to do in order to escape.
But no, I wouldn‘t be taken down like this.
I hadn‘t just broken out of excruciating Alpha orders to be stopped like this. I‘d come too far already to back out now.
...And then it was like something overcame me.
My whole body went still and completely silent; an energy bursting itself inside me as if the pressure had finally snapped. It was like nothing I‘d ever experienced before as my body moved on its own.
I quickly wrenched back the arm he was holding with enough strength that his face was suddenly right in front of my own… and I spoke…
…However, the voice didn‘t feel like mine.
“I said… Let me go. NOW.“.
Instantly, his hand slackened and I watched as his eyes glazed over. The authority level in the command I‘d just thrown at him had hit him hard. Harder than anything I thought was physically possible.
...And yet it had come from me.
I stood frozen for a few seconds until the shock of what I‘d just done finally hit me and was enough for reality to kick in. But it wasn‘t without consequence. With it came intense vertigo; one that required me to brace myself against the wall stop myself from falling. The whole room spun as I tried to gain control, my heart racing quickly.
Was this the ‘ultimate authority‘ I‘d read about when someone marked by the Goddess had higher power than an Alpha? This entire time I‘d thought it was a ranked title honoured out of respect for a deity, not something actually enforceable with real ability. But then why did it make me feel so sick? Was it because I wasn‘t shifted yet? Perhaps my younger body couldn‘t compensate for the level of power required to control it.
Ray was naturally bewildered by my command that prevented him from doing his duty. He started to take several shaky steps backwards away from me… but I realised too late to help him when his foot suddenly caught under him. With a sickening thud on impact, I watched in mute horror as his body fell backwards against the door behind him… and stop moving.
My head had luckily cleared enough to be able to run and check on him. He was alive, thankfully, but he‘d taken a pretty bad hit to the head.
Being as strong as he was, I knew he would be okay in a few hours after healing and so I proceeded to drag him out of the way to gain access to the door.
After acquiring the keys from his waist, I quickly ran into the evidence room, not wanting to waste any more time. I searched everywhere until, finally, I found my old silver dagger glaring at me from a shelving unit to the left.
Seeing it again made me feel queasy, but I‘d already made up my mind to kill Thea with it. When the light was about to fade from her eyes, I‘d make sure it the last thing she‘d see. Right next to me, smiling down a ther. It‘d be poetic in a way.
I stomached any remaining uneasiness I had as I quickly grabbed the dagger, leaving before anyone else showed up to check on the evidence lock–up or find Ray.