Bloodlines, p.36
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       Bloodlines, p.36

           Trisha Lynn
 
Chapter Thirty-Four

  She and the handsome, extremely nice Guardian, whose name was Ahern, walked away from the castle and the village, into the opposite direction. Towards the Grandmother willow, Gh'ehelila. She assumed maybe her parents wanted to speak to her there, so they could finally show her the sacred tree.

  When they continued to walk passed it a trickle of unease passed over her. Where the heck was he taking her, and why?

  The forest beyond the willow was dense, but soon the trees broke apart and a huge expanse of crisp, lush green grass met them and then it seemed to just drop off to nothing. As they walked closer she came to realize that it did just that. It dropped completely off, no warning. There was no railing, no sign, nothing. She could see the other side of the earth jut up and continue on, a few miles away. There was no land bridge, like the one they used to get to the old willow. Here was nothing, you literally needed to fly to get to the other side. She guessed this was probably the best kind of kingdom defense to have. She could hear the rush and bubble of cascading water, and peaked over the edge to see hundreds of waterfalls below them. The sounds and view were mesmerizing and peaceful. Beyond the grass that met the other edge of the land were mountains. Mountains as far as the eye could see, snow-capped and huge.

  “This feels like the edge of the world.”

  “Maybe it is, Princess. Maybe it is.”

  Loki's voice had her whipping her head towards him. He looked better than he had when he'd left them. Some of the light was back in his eyes, the gold more prominent.

  She rolled her eyes. They stood a few feet from each other, both lost in their own thoughts. She could imagine this place was majestic, serene and even a little frightening at nightfall. The sheer drop off, sound of water cascading down below. The sheer expanse of nothingness. She guessed the star gazing in this particular spot was incomparable and wished she could see for herself. She felt like there was still so much to see here. So much she would miss by returning to the human realm. 

  She decided to try to make sure the subject of what happened didn't come up. For many reasons; like not wanting his wrath for her execution of his invaded privacy, and because it was damn near embarrassing as to what the circumstances were. She did not want to talk about his lover or ex-lover, whatever, trying to seduce him with drugs and naughty magical stones.

  “I can't stay here, Loki. I have no idea how to broach the subject to my parents. I had a life before this. I had hopes, dreams, and goals. I can't just give up on that, can I?”

  “You can. This is a hope and dream that's far beyond anything you could ever obtain in the human world. Your future reign may change things, save things, progress things in ways we never thought possible. You never know.”

  She squinted her eyes nearly closed and ran a hand along her temple. “Or I could ruin everything my parents worked so hard to accomplish.”

  He began to speak but she cut him off. “I had that life before this one. Maybe I was born into these bloodlines, this birthright, but I didn't ask for this. All my memories are in the human realm. I owe myself something out of how far I've come. At least give me time, Loki. Time to digest all of this, figure things out. Time to discover myself. Time to figure out who I really am.” She looked sideways at him. “You know I appreciate everything you've done and shown me, but I need to find my own way. It very well might lead me back here. Maybe sooner then I think, but I want that to be my decision.”

  His gorgeous, golden colored eyes found hers and what she saw in them surprised her. Empathy, understanding, maybe even respect. So maybe he wasn't spitting mad at her after all.

  “I understand Adeila, I do, but your father is not going to. He has lived all his life in this world; he knows things are not safe for you out there. They may not be completely safe here either, but at least here he can monitor, he can protect you.”

  Under her breath she said, “Control me.”

  Loki just sighed in frustration. She knew they all wanted what was best for her. But what did she want? She looked out over the open landscape and smiled. “Maybe I can find someone to teach me to fight.”

  He laughed that throaty deep masculine laugh she'd learned to enjoy because it happened so infrequently.

  “Maybe someone will take you as their student, but you can damn well plan on getting your little ass kicked.”

  She laughed and resisted the urge to bump her shoulder against his. It just seemed too friendly a thing to do. “I would expect nothing less.”

  He smiled down at her and lifted his hand, as if to touch her, and then with a swallow, he let his hand drop and turned to the castle that was just visible to the left of them beyond the tree line. “Well, I guess we better get back and tell your father. I'm sure he's going to be just thrilled with us.”

  Her eyebrows pinched together. “Us? Why, are you coming with me?”

  “I made an oath that I would protect you, so I guess that leaves me little choice, does it, Princess?”

  “I'm sorry! I will make sure that my father takes back that oath for you. You shouldn't have to come back with me. Especially after... Well. I really broke your -”

  He smiled briefly and cut her off. “I doubt your father will take back the oath, even if it wasn't a binding one, and honestly I'd rather ensure your safety, personally, before returning anyway. I have nothing better to do then spend my days in a human high school. With all the drama and teenage hormones raging around. Plus, what you did, while completely ridiculous, did prove to be worthwhile. You need to learn to trust your own judgment and the “vibes”, as you said, that Fae give off. Marla hid hers from me for a very long time, and only recently had I picked up on it. For you, someone who has only been in Fae a short time, to see right through all her glamour? That's impressive and I wouldn't be surprised if it's part of your magical abilities. I guess, I owe you a thank you. Although it doesn't seem really fitting since you had my belongings gone through by my own trusted agent.”

  She blushed but looked sidelong at him. He was forgiving her. He was the most noble, respectable and honorable man she'd ever come across and she hated the fact that she was actually beginning to like him and even depend upon him. Not that he needed to know that. Ever.

  .~.

  .... Loki ....

  The betrayal and trickery seeped into his every pore. He could feel the flame of anger in his eyes. Like a predator seeking out his next meal he stalked through the village. When he finally zeroed in on his target the glimmer of panic that shot through her eyes upon seeing him sent him a tremor of pleasure.

  “What the fuck is this all about, Marla?” He spat the words at her, and produced the pink stone.

  Marla masked the surprise and panic with a flirtatious smile. “That is but a token of an amazing night together, lover.”

  “What?” But the truth of exactly what happened that night seeped into his intelligent brain and he instantly felt sick to his stomach. “What the hell did you do to me, Marla?”

  “Oh, nothing you weren't a willing companion for.”

  “You drugged and used me! Why?”

  “I missed you. We're so good together, Loki. I don't mind if you say her name during it.”

  Bile pushed its way up his throat, the acid of it burning a trail all the way up, and he fought it back. He pushed his fingers into his eyes. He was so confused, and frustrated, and pissed. Really pissed.

  “That's so fucking sick and twisted, Marla. I told you I was done.”

  She set a childish pout across her blood red lips. “Well, I'm not.”

  Once he'd found the shape of her lips seductive, the taste delectable, now just seeing them made the bile rise again. Her voice made shivers touch his flesh, and not the good ones. “You can't just drug people to get what you want from them. I must inform my King of your wrongdoings.”

  Gone was her childish pout to be replaced with a very malicious and feline like smile. “He's not my King.”

  “Punishment can still be handed to you for what you'v
e done. I am an agent of the realm. Do you understand the trouble you face for this?”

  Her malicious smile widened and she flipped her long hair back over her shoulder.

  “I'm quite sure he'd be interested to hear whose name you called while we made love.”

  He growled. “Your word against mine, and sadly for you, mine's always has been an honest one.”

  She rolled her eyes and the childishness was back. “Whatever. I'm leaving today anyway, so you can live out your little fantasy until I return in a few weeks. Then we'll talk.”

  “There will never be anything between us again, Marla.”

  “We'll just see about that.” And she blew him a kiss over her shoulder as she swayed her hips as she walked away.

  He tapped his hand on his thigh, and then ran both hands across his forehead and through his hair. There was only one person he could think of that could help him.

  First he went back to his room. He decided to do his own little check and ensure that Kami was thorough. He didn't want any more surprises. It bothered him enough, the fact that he'd had no idea that Marla had been a physical thing in his room. The drug, alcohol, stone; no doubt a combination of the three, had completely fogged his senses, and he just could not have that. He was a warrior, he was trained better than that.

  He decided the alcohol had been his first mistake. It had loosened him enough to begin missing things, which was a mistake he'd never make again. Even for toasting with his beloved King.

  As soon as he entered the room he saw the note from one of the castle keepers on his bed with a red stone on it.

  We found this in the pocket of your black slacks.

  Thought it may be of importance to you. - Kimber

  More stones! Really? He knew without a doubt that this was in connection to the other stone and Marla. Loki sighed and went about a meticulous search of his entire space, including his clothing, as clearly that was not safe either. After the search wielded no more surprises, Loki sat defeated on his bed. Note and stone in his hand.

  The black slacks were what he had worn to the party last night, so how the hell did the stone get into his pants, and how did he not notice the added weight?

  He held the stone in his hand; it was extremely light, as if he held nothing more than a crumpled bit of paper or a small coin, but still. He liked to think his senses were better than that. That he could notice when something was within his own clothing.

  Marla must have someone on the inside, a castle staff member, working for her. She had to. How else would she be able to do all of this?

  He decided when he came back from the human realm he would make it his mission to discover this person, and the reasons why they were working with Marla. What was she paying or bribing them with?

  He turned the stone over in his hand again. It's blood red color was clear all the way through, unlike most polished stones where you could still see some kind of imperfections and other colors of other elements mixed into it, this one was entirely blood red and polished smooth and perfectly circular shaped, whereas most stones were more of an oval. This was more like a marble.

  He'd been wearing those pants to the dinner party, which means he must have been in possession of the stone as well, since when he'd come into his bedroom afterward he'd taken off the pants and what good would it have done Marla to place the stone in dirty pants after he'd already taken them off?

  So he inferred that it had been placed in them before or during the time he had them on. A shiver of unease went through him. This was so not happening.

  All throughout that dinner he had, had a very hard time concentrating. Something he never had a problem with. Ever. He knew this stone must have had something to do with that. The worst part was the only thing he could concentrate on all night, was Adeila. Every lustful thought he'd ever allowed himself to think, and some he hadn't even allowed himself to think, had surfaced and crashed in on his senses. At the time, he'd thought maybe it had been stress related, or alcohol induced. He tried to put the thoughts from his mind all night but they'd been rooted there, well into the night and into his vivid dreams. Now he saw the truth. Those vivid dreams had been real. Just not with the person he'd been envisioning. The thought made him sick. He had a sinking feeling in his gut that this stone had been Marla's first attack.

  He'd already questioned the guards about Marla, and all of them had no idea how she'd gotten in. They all said they hadn't seen her come into the castle, which seemed completely ridiculous considering guards and Guardians were placed everywhere, especially on a night where the King and Queen would have guests. None of it made any sense, and he was gritting his teeth with the frustration of it all. Marla was a complete mystery. Once he'd liked that about her, now he found it outright dangerous. The woman was far more ruthless, conniving and cunning then he had ever imagined. He needed to find the person within the castle walls that was working for her.

  What he really should do is bring Marla herself in for questioning. He knew he should really bring the entire situation to his King and allow him to dole out a consequence, but could his conscious handle the fact that he would have to lie about the man's daughter’s involvement? The fact that the entire time Marla and he had been physical that night, he'd been thinking it a dream involving the Princess, would not bode well with the King. Especially with the fact that the girl was betrothed to his older brother.

  Loki ran a shaky hand through his hair and decided he might as well get some of this over with at least, and worry about everything else later. He knew right where he needed to go.

 
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