Trigger warning!!! Read at Own Risk!!! Or skip the Next two Chapters!! Azalea injured!!
The Next Day
I woke up, and it was already the middle of the day. Light breaking through the open drapes and lighting up the back of my eyelids made me open them and squint around the room, peering at the windows; the sun looked pretty high in the sky and a cold draft caressed over me, making me shiver. The heavy drapes shifted with the breeze.
I inhaled deeply; the scent was wrong and I couldn’t pick out why I felt that way until I realized Kyson was no longer in the room and it was missing his intoxicating scent. My den was quiet, and the scents blew away with the breeze. It unnerved me and made me restless. Chucking the blanket back, I forced myself out of bed, and I rushed toward the window, slamming it shut with a growl.
Why would he open it? I snarled, catching my reflection in the glass. My hair was a mess, and I was naked, yet I could still smell Kyson’s faint scent on my skin, but my nest smelled nothing like him, just me. My skin itched, and I missed my mate already; with a sigh, I stared past my reflection before jumping back when I spotted the grassy patch on the hill.
The kids were all playing and rolling down the hill, racing each other to the bottom. I chuckle when I see Abbie and Clarice watching over them. Abbie was sitting at the top with Tyson in her lap. Clarice was playing with the kids and rolling down the hill with him. Laughter rang out loudly outside. They all seemed so happy and I wanted to join them while they had fun.
Turning around, I moved to the closet and grabbed a dress from off the hanger. It was a loose-fitting long sleeve dress, and I tugged it on after finding some undergarments. I was just pulling the dress over my head as the mind link opened up, and Kyson’s voice flitted through my head.
“You’re awake, I will come back up,” Kyson tells me.
“No, you don’t have to. I am going to play with the kids outside. What are you doing?” I asked him while tugging the dress down over my little bump. I caress it with my hand. My skin was feeling harder as the life within me grew each day.
“Going over the files with Gannon. Are you sure I will come back to be with you if you like?” Kyson says.
“No, unless I should I come help?” I asked him. I suppose I should; the children could wait, and Clarice and Abbie had everything under control by the look of it.
“No, just take Trey with you. And you have an ultrasound appointment this afternoon. I will come to grab you just beforehand.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, slipping some sandals on my feet.
“Positive. Have fun. I love you,”
“Love you too,” I tell him, cutting the mind link. I pull my hair into a messy bun on my head before walking out and finding Trey and Liam by my door.
“Afternoon, Azalea,” Trey says from where he stands.
“My Queen,” Liam says with a slight bow.
“Hey, Liam, Trey. I am going to see Abbie and the kids, and Kyson wants you to come with me,” I tell Trey, and he nods, offering me his arm, i looped my arm through his, and we headed for the stairs leading to the ground floor. Halfway down, I spot Peter kneeling on the steps and scrubbing the wooden beams of the guardrail with a toothbrush.
“What did you do now, Peter?” I asked. The boy seemed to be getting into an awful lot of trouble lately. Peter looks up at me and grins, showing his pearly white teeth.
“I was mucking around with the gardener, and I threw a mud pie at him but missed and hit Clarice and her white sheets,” Peter laughs.
“And why were you throwing mud pies?” I asked, trying not to laugh.
“He threw one first! So he should be helping me clean the damn stairs! I swear she punishes me, so she doesn’t have to do it.” Peter pouts.
I shake my head and continue down the steps when Liam comes up behind us.
“My Queen?” he calls from the top. I stop on the middle landing, looking back up the steps toward him.
“I want to go shower and eat. I have been on duty since last night. I have called Dustin to take over for an hour. Is that alright?” Liam asks.
“Just go. He won’t be long anyway. Besides, Peter will tell him if anyone comes up here,” I said, looking at Peter, who nodded his head.
“You’re fine. I will keep watch,” Peter says, and Liam’s eyes narrow at him on the stairs.
“It’s fine. I will wait for Dustin. I was just letting you know, My Queen,” he says.
“Seriously. Liam. Just go. Dustin will be here soon. What could happen?” Liam, for some reason, looked very indecisive and was staring at
Peter weirdly like it was the first time he was truly seeing him.
“Why does Clarice send you to clean these stairs?” Liam asks.
“Huh?” Peter said, looking up from his scrubbing.
“Why were you up here yesterday?” Liam asks him while tilting his head to the side. I have no idea what he was talking about, but Peter’s brows furrowed in confusion as he peered back at Liam.
“Pardon? I don’t understand. Clarice sent me to clean the stairs,” Peter says to him before glancing at me. He tosses his toothbrush into his tool bucket and his can of polish and rag while staring at Liam with fearful eyes. I walk back up the steps, wondering what got into Liam because I didn’t like the way he was watching Peter.
“Yes. But why these stairs?” Liam growls, pointing at them. “There are plenty of stairs in the castle,” Liam says to him while stepping down a step, and I look at Trey, who seems just as perplexed at Liam’s strange behavior, making me wonder if Liam was drunk.
“I dirtied Clarice’s sheets,” Peter stutters.
“That wasn’t the question I asked,” Liam says; his ice-cold tone of voice sends a chill up my spine when I feel his aura slip out. It wasn’t like Kyson’s. It was weaker, but as one of his Gammas, it was a lot stronger than a normal Lycans, and Peter whimpers under the pressure of it.
“Liam!” i hissed, rushing to Peter. Sweat glistened on his forehead, and his hands clenched into fists on the steps.
“Did you remove the scents from the King and Queen’s room?” Liam asks, and I gape at him.
“Liam! He is a child! Drop your command!” | snarled at him as Peter gripped my arm, looking at me pleadingly with tears in his eyes. “Kyson!” I call through the link before Liam’s voice pulls me back when he addresses me.
“My Queen, every day he cleans the same stairs. Why would Clarice send him to do the same ones every day?” Liam says before his eyes move to Peter again.
“No. No. I didn’t.” Peter gasps.
“Didn’t what? Why were you up here yesterday?” Liam asks, motioning for me to come to him, but Peter clutches me tightly. “Don’t let him hurt me. I did nothing.” Peter begged, clutching my dress and arm like I was his lifeline.
“What’s going on?” Kyson asks through the link, sounding frantic.
“… I don’t know. Liam is accusing Peter,”
“Peter?! Accusing him of what?” but Liam’s booming voice made me jump before I could answer. Trey growls at him behind me.
“Answer me!” Liam commands, taking another step down. Liam’s eyes go to Peter’s hands clutching onto me.
“Liam, calm down. He is just a boy,” Trey says.
“And the boy will answer,” Liam growls back.
“To bring lunch up and help Clarice with what you asked of her. I didn’t touch the clothes or anything in the room. Clarice wouldn’t let me. She made me stand at the door while she passed me baskets,” Peter blurts out under the command, unable to fight his aura any longer.
“Why the same stairs?”
“Clarice said to clean ones where she could see me,” Peter blurts.
“Clarice said to clean them?” Liam asks.
“Well, not specifically these stairs. Just where she could see me if she left the kitchen. These are the closest steps,”
“So, why did you choose these steps?” Liam asks, stepping down another step toward him.
“Liam! Enough!” I tell him.
“No. I was just thinking. And out of everyone that has been questioned, Peter never was,” Liam says, his eyes darting to Peter holding me again and then to the tool bucket on the step in front of him. The closer he got, the stronger the scent of liquor I could smell emanating off Liam. He was drunk.
“He is a boy!” i tell him, outraged that he would take his drunk ramblings out on Peter. Peter looked petrified, and his hands shook as he clutched me, tears trekking down his face.
“I was a boy once too, My Queen. And I had already killed someone long before I was his age,” Liam says, his steps calculating as he takes them one at a time. I glanced down at Peter, who growled when I heard the mind link open up. And Trey’s voice flitted through it.
“My King, was Peter ever questioned?” Trey asked, and I tried to focus on my surroundings as Liam stalked down the steps toward Peter, and the savage gleam in his eyes frightened me when Peter whimpered.
Prying Peter’s fingers off my dress, I stand and take a step up. I got halfway up the steps, blocking Liam from him.
“Ah, no. Why? Has something happened? And Azalea answer me? I am on my way.” Kyson growls, and Liam reaches for me to jerk me to his side when I feel a sharp pain in my side that steals the air from my lungs before I hear Trey’s ear-piercing scream behind me. And it was like time slowed right down. I saw Liam’s hands reach for me, and his eyes widened, but I staggered back, my hand going to my side when I felt the pain twist through my abdomen, my eyes going to my side to find a dagger in my flank and Peter’s hand holding the hilt, my hands soaked in my blood.
I gasp, choking on my breath that I couldn’t seem to catch, when a snarl tore out from behind me. “That’s for my mum!” Peter says when I am slammed against the banister. I tried to grip it to stay upright, but the entire thing gave way as my weight touched it. My scream is stolen by the heart-stopping realization that I am falling. My stomach plummets somewhere deep within me. I felt the blood drain from my face, turning me cold at the sensation. Just as Liam nearly impales himself trying to catch me, Trey tackles Peter, who just stared vacantly at me as I grasped for something to hold and only grasped air.
My body hit with a loud thud. Pain enveloped me, and I felt my head hit the stairs on the ground floor stairwell. The wooden railing crashed down on top of me, and I couldn’t move. I just stared at the ceiling and the floor above, where Trey had knocked out Peter.
Liam jumped off the second floor after me, his feet hitting the ground only seconds later. But it was too late. I felt the warmness of my blood trickling down my neck, my head pounding, and my back throbbing. The coppery taste of blood filled my mouth, and I tried to breathe around it, but only choked. It was like when you knock your foot when it has pins and needles, that strange sensation, yet my entire body felt like that. My eyes felt like they were pulsating in my head to a rhythmic beat in my skull.
My vision is also throbbing and so was my surroundings. I could see Liam was putting pressure on my side, and I could fuzzily see his lips moving fast as he screamed. Or I think he screamed because I heard no sound leave him. No sound other than my heart beating in my skull.
I was fading, my vision becoming tunneled and I couldn’t move, yet the oddest sensation warmed between my legs as if I wet myself. I had no idea why I felt that above all the pain. But for some reason, it was all I could focus on. Like that was the most important sensation above all the pain. My mind was transfixed on the warmth leaving me when everything went black.
We had found a few things in the documents from the Alpha Dean’s pack, such as Mr. Crux’s name linking to multiple brothels in the state. It looked like he was helping traffic rogues because sizeable sums of money had been sent to Alpha Dean’s accounts when they suddenly stopped abruptly a few years ago and enormous debts started accumulating. Debts from Crux’s casino.
As we sifted through the boxes, we found other strange things that didn’t add up, which had me going down to the underground storage. Gannon and Dustin were pulling everything we had on Crux from the archives, and we set them on the huge wooden table in the storage room.
“While we are down here, pull all the staff records for me,” I tell them, and they move back to the storage boxes and start bringing them over, dropping them at my feet.
I dig through the boxes looking for council records, anything really. “You two start on the staff files. Go as far back as 14 years when the Landeenas were killed.”
“So before Azalea’s fourth birthday?” Dustin asks and I nod.
“There has to be a reason someone is targeting her and it has to be someone on the castle grounds. Check all the guards, under oath or not. Also, all the cleaners, gardeners, everyone that has been on the payroll,” I tell them and they both start sifting through files.
We had only been sorting through stuff for a few hours when Gannon pulled Trey’s file again, and another file with his medical records confirming everything he had told us. We really needed to come up with some sort of electronic filing system. This was ridiculous.
It was a couple of hours later that I felt Azalea wake up. She told me she was going to play with the children, and I told her to take Trey with her.
“Did you know Ester had spent time in the Landeena Kingdom?” Gannon asked me abruptly, making me look up as I closed the link.
“What?” I asked, and he held the file out to me.
“A year. Her parents reported her as a runaway, she was located in the Landeena Kingdom and granted the right to stay by Garret,” Gannon tells me.
“What year was this?”
“The year before Azalea was taken. Says she left a month before the attack after a fallout with Queen Tatiana,” Gannon says and I flick through the files. I read it thinking it was odd because why would she go there and return a year later?
Yet we found nothing else and she started working here two years later, I knew her grandparents. They worked for my father, but I hadn’t seen them in years.
So when her grandfather called me asking for a job for her, I gave her one. Her parents were very strict people apparently, and she spent most of her childhood being raised by her grandparents. I am pretty sure that was where she was living again. I tried to pick my brain about
why she had an odd relationship with her parents, trying to remember what their falling out was for, but I didn’t really involve myself with her.
I felt the mind link open up moments later and Azalea called me through the link, only to cut it off like she had dropped it when Trey opened it up.
“My King, have you looked into Peter?” Trey asks and I open the link to her, too, trying to get a hold of her.
“No. Why? And Azalea, bloody answer me!” I snarl as my eyes roam over another of Ester’s files, and I was only half-listening to what Azalea was saying when I remembered something and started flicking through the files. Trey mentioning Peter while going over Ester’s files made me remember something about her having a brother. I knew she had an estranged relationship with her parents since they had adopted Peter! Peter! My eyes widened in realization.
“It’s Peter!” I growled when Azalea screamed through the link, and I raced to get to her. My heart is hammering in my chest.
Dustin and Gannon were chasing after me, and I skidded across the floors as I smashed out of the cellar, my shoulder smashing against the doors, and into the kitchen’s pantry before I raced out of the kitchen. I lost my footing as I twisted to head for the stairs at the same time. I heard someone scream.
My heart felt like it stopped when I saw a figure shoved off the staircase, and I registered that figure was Azalea. Her arms flailed about just as the entire banister railing came down after her. My feet tried to get traction on the floor just as Gannon and Dustin burst out of the kitchen doors. I raced to catch her when Liam jumped after her. Her body hit the stairs with a thud before I could reach her.
I froze and blinked in shock. I was too late. Trey tosses Peter into the wall, and his body falls limply on the steps. All I could do was stare in shock as Liam turned his head, screaming for help, his hands pressed down on the knife in her side. Azalea chokes, blood spurting out her mouth and dribbling down her chin, ripping me from my shock when I see Gannon and Dustin trying to move but are both unable; I race to Liam’s side as her eyes roll in the back of her and I move to her. I grip her face.
“Azalea!” i choked as she passed out.
“Get a doctor!” I scream the order, and Gannon and Dustin rush off.
“Stay with me. Stay with me, Love,” I tell her when I feel my knees warm, making me glance down to see her dress turning red. Blood pooled and ran down the steps from between her legs.
“No. No, no, no. NO!” I panicked, sliding my arms under her before I took off running toward the doors. I clutch her to me, and Liam races ahead, shoving doors open and screaming for the guards to open the gates.
Blood coated my arms from her head and from it gushing out between her legs, my clothes becoming drenched as I ran down the bitumen road, shifting while running. My ears picked up the heart beating inside her starting to slow, but she was still much too early for any life to be born and viable.
My legs falter when I hear it stop, and her pulse weakens. Seeing the doctor’s surgery ahead, Lycans looked around, shocked, as the doctor burst out his surgery doors with his gear before spotting us, and his mouth fell open. The next second, he raced back toward the doors, forcing them open and screaming at his nurses to get a gurney.
Moving through the old brick building, the nurses rush out, and I place her down, Doc sets his bag on it before rushing off with her, and I go to follow when Liam’s hand grips my shoulder.
“You’ll just get in the way.” Liam says, but I could heal her. I was about to say that when Liam spoke, seeming to know what I was going to say.
“Some things can’t be healed, my King. Let Doc work,” Liam says, and moments later, Damian bursts through the surgery doors. He looks at me, his eyes then moving to Liam’s hand holding my shoulder.
“Come on, let’s wait outside. There is nothing you can do right now,” Damian says, and I shake my head.
“Come on. Come have a smoke,” Liam says, pushing me toward the doors, and I am forced to take my eyes away from where Doc took her through the double doors to the day surgery area. Liam pushes me out the doors, nudging me, and I reluctantly step outside. And he shoves his smoke packet in my hand, yet I don’t light one when he pulls two from the packet and lights them, keeping one for himself and passing me the other.
“Azalea will be okay.” Liam says, blowing smoke into the air. She is tougher than she looks,” he says.
“The baby?” I ask him. Neither of them says anything. Even though I knew that if she was alright, the baby wasn’t going to be. Which made me wonder if Azalea would be alright after all.
The doctor confirmed that when he stepped out the doors twenty minutes later. He tugs his gloves off.
“Azalea?” I asked.
“Alive. She is still unconscious. I stitched her up. The bleeding stopped, but you could probably help that healing process,” Doc says, and I nod.
“Our baby?” I ask, grasping on to any form of hope.
“I’m sorry, My King. The fetus didn’t make it,” he tells me. Fetus. I hated the way he said it, but she wasn’t quite near her second trimester yet. My legs buckled under me, and I hit the ground hard at his words. My heart sank, and my stomach dropped at the information.
I failed her! I should have figured it out earlier. Peter was a child and the last person I would have suspected! I failed her, and it cost us our baby and nearly her life! How do I tell her that?
“Azalea needs you, Kyson. Get up,” Damian says.
“We lost the baby,” I murmured. Trying to wrap my head around everything.
“I know, but if you don’t get up and get in there, you may lose her, too. Now up.” Damian says, gripping my arm, and Liam grabs the other; they haul me to my feet.
“One foot in front of the other. Come on, big fella. Your Queen needs you. Break later, not in front of her,“ Liam says, pushing me towards the doors.
It took hours for her to wake up, and Damian went back to the castle to retrieve some clothes, so I wasn’t walking around in just a hospital gown. I had just walked back into the room to find that she was sitting up. I felt nothing through the bond to tell me she had woken, and I only stepped out a minute to change quickly. As she pinched the front of her gown, I watched her look inside before rubbing her thighs.
Her lips quivered, and she looked at her hands. Doc and I had cleaned her up so she wasn’t soaked in blood, but the way she looked at her hands was like that was all she saw. Moving closer, her head lifted, and she looked at me. Her voice held no emotion, and I felt nothing through the bond at all, like the bond no longer existed.
“Did you feel it?” she asked, and my hand stopped beside her face as it reached toward her. I swallowed and stepped closer, cupping the back of her neck and messaging my fingers through her hair. Still, no reaction through the bond.
“I could feel it, feel it leave me,” she whispered, staring vacantly at my chest.
“I know, love,” I whispered, and she sat frozen, staring off.
“How about we get you home?” I asked her, and once again, she said nothing, didn’t move, not even blink. She was an empty shell, and I fought the urge to growl. I would kill him, but first, I needed to take care of her, but he would die for doing this to her once I found out why.
Azalea had no reaction when I picked her up, none at all. I took her home, sat her in her nest, and laid down.