Bear: Dante’s Plan
I know what Emmi said, but I know she didn’t mean it. Somehow though, it’s got into Zane’s head, and now, well, now he feels like he needs to be punished. In the first fight, he didn’t even hit the guy for ages.
I saw the pure terror on the guy’s face with every hit as Zane just took them. Everyone was shocked, watching as he just stood and took hit after hit. Usually, the other guy is lucky to get a few hits in. Ten minutes into the fight and Zane hadn’t lifted his fists once.
Then it happened, the need to be hurt burned down, and in its place was rage. The poor guy died quickly. Usually, they stop the fights before anyone dies, but by the second punch, the guy was unconscious. By the third, he was dead. So, I sit and watch the next four fights. Zane blocks their hits and hits them back, the men getting dragged out quickly before they can die too.
I just sit and watch, and by the time Zane is finished, he looks normal again. Bloody, but normal. I know all it will take is that one thought, and he will need to do this again and again. He should know Emmi fucked him because she chose to and wanted to. Sure she is limited with choices, but no one said she had to fuck us.
“I have some news.” I hear a man’s voice beside me.
“Well, spit it the fuck out.” I lean back more in my chair, watching as Zane finishes up.
“Candice was never pregnant with twins.” Turning, I look towards him, confused.
“I think Emmi and Jamie are proof she was. You’re wasting my time.”
“You saw some documents, but where is the actual proof? Look, from what I’ve been told, Eric and Candice had been trying years, and she didn’t get pregnant. So, Candice had an affair with Dean, hoping he would get her pregnant and act like the baby was Eric’s. Only Eric had tests done, which proved he couldn’t have kids. Hence he found out about the affair.”
That doesn’t explain Jamie, though. “Go on.”
“As you know, for ages, they kept everything to themselves about the pregnancy. Eric wasn’t sure of the way forward. When they found out the baby was a girl, things changed. Eric wanted a boy. I have seen the notes to give up the Princess, take a boy and pretend he was the baby, but getting rid of Emmi wouldn’t have been easy with your parents around. So, this woman from outside the city, Mandy, she was pregnant. They paid her to give them her son when he was born.”
I laugh slightly. “Don’t call her Princess. Anyway, it seems a bit of a big dream that you expect me to believe that.”
“Think about it. Who would take over the city when Candice and Eric died? They believed that girls were weak. They needed a boy. No one knows. It took a month, a full month, for either of them to announce the twins were born. That is because Emmi was born three weeks before Jamie.”
“Where is the proof?” I need the proof.
“Mandy is in the city. I heard she regrets giving up her son. Apparently, though, her son doesn’t care because he knows the truth and has since a young age. That’s why he doesn’t care about the Princess.”
“I said, do not call her fucking Princess. Her name is Emmi.”
“I need to see this Mandy, along with her proof. Send the details to Dante. We will be in touch.” I stand as Zane walks towards me. It’s time to go.
I stay quiet as we drive back. I know getting into everything now will cause him to flip again, so for now, I won’t mention it.
Walking in, I see Dante and Gunner arguing, and I roll my eyes.
“Can we not have one day without this shit?” I ask impatiently. Before it was every day, then Emmi came here, and it seemed to calm down. We got closer, but now, we’re arguing again, and it isn’t often Gunner and Dante argue either. I look at them, waiting to find out why they are arguing before telling them about what I found out.
“He’s letting Emmi go!” Gunner screams at me.
I turn to Dante, as does Zane.
“Look, if she wants to be here, if she is meant to be here, she will stay or come back. At least then she chooses!”
I laugh. “You’re joking, right? So, we bring her in, all get used to having her living here, and you decide to let her go. The decision isn’t just yours.” I stare down at him.
“I got the info that he told you, and it is true. It is coming out, Bear, and when it does, it will destroy her. At least this way, she isn’t here when it falls down. At least this way, she is deciding if we are worthy of her fucking time.”
“What info?” Zane looks at us confused, as does Gunner.
“The whole pregnancy was a lie. There were never two babies, only Emmi. They paid a woman from outside the city to give up her son, to play the part of Candice having twins. Jamie knows. I have seen a letter from him to his real mother saying he knew from a young age,” Dante explains, and I sit quietly.
“She isn’t going.” Gunner looks at Dante, then towards me.
“Call me a cunt, but I agree. Zane will always be thinking is she agreeing because she has no other choice? We will all be on guard because once Candice falls, which she will, that city is no longer Jamie’s. It’ll be Emmi’s, and that brings war to her.” As much as I love having her here, if she chooses to stay, it will help Zane.
“Do what you want. So much for fucking family.” Gunner storms off.
“Who is in the room?” I look towards Dante.
“Just some guy, so if he kills him quick and gets no information, it doesn’t matter right now. The fact is, we never wanted to do this. We all agreed it was wrong to try and force her to marry one of us. If we go through with it, we’re just as bad. So, the story is, we took her, we used her, got bored and told her to stay the hell away.”
“And if she doesn’t stay or come back?” Zane looks at Dante.
I watch as Dante shrugs his shoulders.
“You never wanted her here! You were just waiting for an excuse to throw her out. Fuck you, Dante, so what, you fuck her, and now you have she isn’t worth it.” I watch as Zane storms out with tears in his eyes.
“Are you sure this is the right thing to do?” I can’t help but wonder if it will make this family worse. Gunner and Zane clearly don’t want her gone.
“She will come back.” His words are quiet.
“You don’t even fucking believe it! If she doesn’t, have you considered that? Zane, back to fighting every night, Gunner, back to drinking, me back on drugs, and let’s not forget you fucking every woman to try to fill that fucking hole.” Maybe it was too blunt, but after our mother's death, then our sister and father’s suicides, we were barely even alive.
“We will survive, just like we did last time. We’re monsters, just like her own family, if we do this. So, she walks. I’ll get a car sorted tomorrow, a bank account, everything.” His words are quiet as he stands and walks out. I walk through to my room and lie back on the bed, but I can’t sleep. If she leaves, then what?
Dante: Freeing Her
Soon after waking, I make breakfast and we sit quietly to eat as I work through the things she needs. I have a car sorted for her, along with a bank account. I just need a few more things in place then I will let her walk.
“This is fucking stupid!” Turning, I look towards Zane. “She belongs here.”
“She belongs where she wants to be. Over twenty years she has been locked up, Zane, to keep her here without her approval is just as bad as her parents.” If I could, I would choose to keep her here with me. That is fucked up, though, and part of me is hoping she doesn’t walk out, or she turns around and comes back before she gets to the border.
“You’re an arsehole. Treating her just like every other woman, fucking her, using her, then dumping her!” he shouts at me. I look over at Gunner, who isn’t even eating.
“You can hate me, but it’s the right thing to do.” My words are quiet, and I hear her walking through. She sits down, smiling across to Gunner, but he avoids looking at her.
“So, what are the plans for today?” She looks between us.
“No plans, Emmi. I have work to get done from here. Same as them, pack a bag. We may be taking a trip out of the city.” She will have a bag ready then.
“So, if you’re working from home, you will have more time to play.” She looks at Gunner and smiles. I watch as he stands and storms out. “Did I do something wrong?” She looks towards Zane, his eyes staying off her.
“I have calls to make.” I watch as he walks off, followed by Bear.
“You did nothing wrong. They’re just tired, that’s all. We found out some more truths, and it’s hard to get our heads around. They’ll be fine later. You go pack a bag.” I smile at her and watch her walk off as I take out my phone to make a call.
“The Princess will be coming through. Let me know when she reaches you if she passes by or turns back. Don’t stop her,” I say.
“Yes, the Princess, and no one is to hear about it.” I hang up and stand, taking out the keys, phone, and bank card and placing them on the table. This needs to be done. Sitting I wait, ten minutes later, she walks out with her bag, her eyes looking at me as I stand holding the door open.
“So, where are we going?” She smiles up at me. I swallow back the sob that threatens to escape.
“We’re not going anywhere.” My voice is quiet.
She looks at me, hurt. “I get it. You guys want me living in the hotel away from you.” Her head lowers.
“No. Here are keys to a car in your name, a bank card, and a phone. Here is the card to get out. You’re free to leave. The guards on the border have been told to let you go.” I place the items in her hand and step back, my eyes and mind both begging her to stay.
“I can leave?” She looks at me, confused.
“Yes, you can leave both cities, go wherever you want. There's enough money in that bank for you to buy a house and things.” I watch as she glances around, hope building in me. She isn’t leaving. I feel myself smiling slightly.
“Thank you, Dante.” I watch as she turns and walks out. My body stood in shock. She left, she fucking left! I hear a noise and turn, watching as Bear walks through and slams a door. Zane stood looking at me.
“It was the right thing to do,” I say quietly.
“You fucking fool! You really thought she would stay! That she would choose us, I would rather have lived with the worry she was fucking us because she had no other choice than never see her again.” His words are quiet as I walk to the kitchen and pour a drink. I was so sure she would stay.
“Dante.” I look towards Zane. “Go get her.” He looks at me, waiting.
“That is fucked up, Zane, here, take your freedom, but I am going to hunt you down and drag you back. Clearly, she didn’t like us as much as she thought. She left.” She had said she felt like she was falling in love with us all. Was that a lie?
“Fine, I will! It’s been twenty minutes. I’ll get her.” I watch as he storms out, my head shaking. Ten minutes later, my phone rings.
“She has just passed through the border.” I hang up, not wanting to hear it. There is no way Zane can get her back now. Maybe that is for the best. She left. She clearly didn’t want to be here. Standing, I walk through to her room and stand by the door. It is a mess. She took her frustration out on the room, after the bag in the gym. I’m a fucking fool for thinking she would choose us.
Waking up, the bed is empty, and glancing around I see the room is still trashed from my frustrations last night. Getting in the shower, I quickly get ready, then walk out. They all stop talking as I do. Sitting down, I smile.
“So, what are the plans for today?” I have got used to living with them, working with them and everything else.
“No plans, Emmi. I have work to get done from here. Same as them. Pack a bag, we may be taking a trip out of the city.” I nod to Dante, so no work means more fun.
“So, if you’re working from home, you will have more time to play.” I smile at Gunner, remembering last night. He stands up without looking at me and walks out. “Did I do something wrong?” I look at Zane. His eyes are also fixed away from me. I have. I know I have.
“I have calls to make.” I watch as he walks off, followed by Bear.
“You did nothing wrong. They’re just tired, that’s all. We found out some more truths, and it’s hard to get our heads around. They’ll be fine later. You go pack a bag.” Dante smiles at me, but I still feel like something is wrong. Nodding, I walk through to my room. I pack a few things into a small bag before going back out. Dante is stood by the door, waiting.
“So, where are we going?” I smile at him, but he shakes his head.
“We’re not going anywhere.”
I look at him, hurt. This must be because of what I said to Zane. “I get it. You guys want me living in the hotel away from you.” My head drops.
“No, here are keys to a car in your name, a bank card, and a phone. Here is the card to get out. You’re free to leave. The guards on the border have been told to let you go.” He places the items in my hand, and I look at him in confusion as he steps back away from me.
“I can leave?” This is a joke, right?
“Yes, you can leave both cities, go wherever you want. There's enough money in that bank for you to buy a house and things.”
I look around me. I love it here. I felt less restricted here than I did at home. But I am still restricted. I quickly consider choosing one of them to marry, but how can I choose? I can’t, and they will hate me for that.
“Thank you, Dante.” I turn and walk to the lift and swipe the card. On the lower level, I find the car and start driving away.
I follow the satnav to the border and stop at it, watching for a minute. If I pass over that line, they can’t get to me. Not easily anyway.
I drive forwards and put the window down, smiling at the man as I wait. This is where he refuses, drags me back. But he doesn’t. Instead, he nods and removes the blocks. I drive forward, and suddenly I’m outside the city. I crossed the border. Something makes me turn the car around; I drive back and stop. I look at the city. I’m out. They actually let me out of the city. They let me leave. Why?
I glance around me. This morning, they were all quiet and weird. They knew Dante was telling me I could go. They were hurt. I sit and stare at my hands, feeling myself ready to cry. I have got so used to life with them all. How do I live without them? How do I just ignore that right now, I feel empty, and all I want is them to hold me?
Maybe I’m crazy. Something is telling me I am. I don’t want to leave them. I don’t want to lose them. My head falls forward. I feel like I love them all, which is fucking crazy and stupid. How can I? I hear the car door open and turn.
“You’re not fucking leaving! You’re not allowed to leave.” Zane stands looking at me, crying.
“Don’t, please, Emmi, just consider staying. Anything you want you can have, just stay, please.” He looks at me. I step out of the car and face him.
“Zane, I was coming back.”
He stares at me, shocked. “So, you left just to fucking hurt us.”
I laugh slightly.
“Don’t fucking laugh. You left. You honestly fucking walked out and left!”
“At that moment, I had no plans to stay. But as I got closer and closer to this checkpoint, the more I wanted to turn around. Once I got outside, I realised my life is with you guys.” I can’t leave. I just don’t know how to fucking choose either. Then what? What happens when I can’t decide?
“Good.” His hands push me against the car as he kisses me. “I just want to fuck you right here and now.”
“Then do it, let’s go, big guy.” My hands move to unfasten his shirt.
“Later. We should probably let the others know you’re staying. Maybe try to save the guy Gunner is no doubt skinning alive. Get in the car and follow me back.” His words are stern, then his lips are crushing against mine against causing me to cry.
I feel his hand pull my skirt up, his fingers sliding between my legs.
“Zane.” He said we should get back. Now he’s trying to fuck me?
“Shh, I just need to hear you scream in pleasure.” His fingers push inside me, his other hand gripping my hair as his mouth consumes mine. He kisses down my neck as his fingers continue to move. “Please don’t leave, Emmi, ever,” he pleads.
“Never.” My reply is soft, barely even a whisper, as I feel my head fall back in pleasure, the orgasm flooding my body and drowning me.
“Drive, get in the car and follow me because I swear, I won’t stop all night.” His eyes burn into mine. I slip into my car and watch as he walks back to his.
We drive off, and I follow behind him. Why the hell did I even consider leaving? Part of me knew it was so I could be sure I was free. That it wasn’t a trick, but they let me go, they let me choose.
Back at the house, I climb out of the car, and he guides me towards the lift, his hands pushing me against the wall.
His lips find mine, and I feel the tears falling from my eyes. “Don’t let me go, ever.” I need them to fight for me to stay because it feels so much easier to run and hide from these feelings.
“Never. I will chase you across the world and drag you back, baby, even if you say no.” His mouth kisses along my neck. “Let’s get upstairs before I fuck you here.” He turns and steps into the lift, pulling me with him.
“How much shit am I in?” I know I will be.
“You may not survive this.” That is the only warning he gives as the lift opens and we walk out. All three turn to look at us, Dante looking at Zane disappointed. “I didn’t kidnap her. She had turned around,” Zane explains.
“So, you’re not fucking leaving?” Dante looks at me frustrated, and I shake my head. “So, you picked Zane, is that it?”
“I don’t pick anyone! How the hell can I?” I can’t decide.
“You know we all want you, so choose,” Bear says.
“If you want me, earn me!” I scream, looking at them. “I’m not a freebie, someone you can just decide to fuck! Fucking prove you want me!” I’m done with this.
“You want proof, little kitten?” Gunner pulls me to him, his hand ripping my top off, but I punch him.
“Fuck you! By earn me, I fucking meant it! Stop trying to win me around with fucking sex and orgasms. You’re men! You had a sister and a mother, you know how to fucking treat a woman, so treat me like one, not just someone here to fuck.” I step back, taking in a breath. “I feel like I love you all, and I have no idea if that is real or just because I am fucking you all. I can’t choose based on how many orgasms you give me. I need more.” I turn away and walk through to my room. Why the hell did I stop? Why did I come back?
I won’t let them touch me, not even once. But if I need to choose, I will, and I will choose based on genuine feelings, not the high of orgasms and naked men.
“Emmi.” Turning, I look towards the door, Zane trying to smile at me. “I’m sorry. I guess you were here, so we all figured we could just fuck you. Not once have we taken you out, not once have we bought you a real gift or done anything to show how we feel.” I look at him, realising his words.
“I don’t need spoiling. I don’t need dinner dates, Zane. I need to know how you all feel about me, really feel, because I feel like I love you all, and you all know that, but I have no idea how you guys feel about me. I’m going to get some sleep. Leave me alone, please.” I remove the ripped top and trousers before climbing into bed. Last night’s late night and excitement and then today's events have tired me out.
I find myself quickly falling asleep while considering if everything I did was the right choice. I came back. I had freedom and agreed to come back. I know living in the city requires some sort of lockdown, which means I’m restricted, but can I survive been restricted?
“Wakey, wakey, Queen.”
I hear Gunner’s words and groan. Opening my eyes, I see him leaning over me, smiling, and way too fucking much.
“You’re smiling way too much right now, considering how close you are to having your cock chopped off for waking me!” I was enjoying the sleep.
“Sorry, but you need to get up. We will be waiting.” Nodding, I move, my eyes falling on the clock, six-thirty am. I slept straight through! Groaning, I get out of bed and see some clothes folded on a chair with a note on top.
For you, to feel comfortable.
I smile at the note and walk through to the shower. After getting washed and dried, I pull on the lounge clothes and walk out, hearing them talking. I walk through and sit at the table, everyone smiling at me. I’ve missed something. I know I have.
“So, why did you all wake me so early?” I look at them, waiting.
“To show you how we feel and prove it,” Dante’s says matter-of-factly, as if he’s stating the obvious.
“You could just tell me.” That would be quicker.
“Words are cheap. Also, words don’t translate into actions. Once you’ve eaten, a car will pick you up. We will be getting work done,” Zane explains, yet something feels weird or off.
“Where will the car be taking me?” That I need to know.
“Somewhere, or rather some places. Keep the phone I gave you on you.” Dante smiles at me and walks off as I look between them.
“Don’t ask, little lamb. I won’t say anyway, we have work. You have five minutes until the car arrives.” I watch as they walk off and leave me alone to sit and eat, still trying to figure out what the hell their plan is.
“Ready, Miss?” Turning, I look towards the guy, my eyes glancing to where they disappeared. “They let me up. The car is waiting downstairs.” I stand and follow him down. Getting in the back, I sit down, my eyes glancing down, seeing a box and a note with a rose on top.
The first of many to come.
I smile at the black rose and open the box. My eyes widen; inside is a pair of earrings.
“Red diamonds.” The man’s words cause me to look up. “Sorry, I was warned how those earrings are worth more than my life, my family and my home.” He laughs slightly. Slowly, I put them back into the box.
“So, where am I going?” I ask, but he doesn’t answer. Soon after, the car stops, and he opens the door. As I step out, he goes to stop me, his hand falling quickly before he touches me.
“Sorry, I was under specific instructions to stand outside, so you need to take the items with you.”
Nodding, I reach in and pick up the rose and earrings. Walking into the shop, I glance around, a woman smiling at me.
“Emmi, these are for you.” She holds out a rose, another box, and a note. Taking them, I read the note.
Something to help you relax and recover from all the fun
I feel my eyes rolling. Opening the box, I stare at it. A ring, like the earrings, so again, red diamond, yet there is something else surrounding it, they look black.
“Serendibite and red diamonds. I was-”
I cut her off. “Told how it is worth more than your life and everything else, I get it.” Laughing, I close the box and look at her.
“We’re closed, so you can place the items there. Your guard will be able to see them from where he’s standing.” She watches as I place the items down and follow her through, then passes me a robe.
“A massage, and other things, including a facial,” she explains, then gets to work.
Hours later, she’s finished, and they were right. I do feel refreshed, relaxed, and re-energised. After picking up my gifts, I walk out and get in the car.
“Back home?” I look towards the driver, and he shakes his head. Great, so not home. After a short while, he stops again and points to a shop. I once again carry my gifts through.
“Emmi, I’m guessing?” The woman’s eyes look to the roses. Nodding, I smile at her. “These are for you.” I once again take the items and read the note.
Just because you deserve it.
Well, that tells me a lot, although looking around, I can see this place will be doing my hair. Opening the box, my eyes widen. The necklace is fantastic, red diamonds and whatever that woman said. It is stunning.
“Let me guess, you know what the blue one is and were told how much more this costs than your life?” I look at her, and she laughs.
“They said you would likely ask. The blue ones are Grandidierite, and yes, I was told about the cost.” She smiles and leads me to a chair. Placing the items down, she begins to do my hair. It has been too long, I will demand to go somewhere for food after here. Half an hour later, she is still doing my hair.
“Emmi?” I hear a man’s voice and turn watching as he walks towards me and hands me a bag before walking out. I’m not sure if I should open it.
“It’s food. They suggested small bites, like crackers. I told them if you were really the lady they claimed you were, you would want real food, not a snack.” She smiles and laughs slightly. Opening the bag, I can’t help but smile.
“Thank you! I’m so destroyed by all the home-cooked meals! Finally, something with fat.” I take out the burger and eat while she does my hair. She talks to me, but most of the conversation falls short as she realises there are things she shouldn’t ask or talk to me about.
Looking in the mirror, I smile. I look good. Far better than I have in ages. The hairdresser my family required me to use was old-fashioned, always going for a ‘safe’ option. Once again, I collect my items and go back to the car. This time, I refuse to ask for information and just sit quietly. And not long after, it stops again.
I watch as he opens the car door for me.
“How many more stops? Can you at least tell me that?”
“Two more after here.” Well, at least I’m near the end. Walking in, I am again greeted by a woman, this time holding a box with a bracelet in and another rose.
Not even all this is enough to show how we feel, you deserve the world, and this is just the start.
I smile at the note as she guides me across to where I am getting my nails done. After that, the woman leads me through to someone who does my make-up. Then once again, I walk out and sit in the car.
“Surely now is home? What more is there?” I’ve had my nails done, hair, a message, makeup, what else? He doesn’t respond, and I don’t blame him. If he tells me, no doubt Gunner will kill him for ruining the surprise.
The car stops, and he guides me into the store.
“Emmi.” The woman holds out a box, a note, and another rose. I decide to read the note first, knowing the box is likely jewellery.
If you’re to stand by us, you need to show you’re with us. You need to be equal.
Well, that’s different. I slide open the box, and a gasp escapes my mouth. A dagger, a beautiful dagger, covered in gemstones and diamonds, which means I don’t want to stab anyone with it. Still, at the same time, I do. I smile, seeing the small pouch and holster for my thigh.
“You need a dress, shoes, and bag. This side is suitable dresses.” She points to the clothes. Walking through, I pick a dress and everything else.
“You get ready here.” She points through the back. So, not going home after here either? Walking through, I go into the small room, finding a rose and note and yet another box.
Put everything on. All of it! Your final destination is next.
Instead of rushing to open the box, I get dressed, careful not to mess up my hair, slowly putting on the jewellery and attaching the knife to my thigh. Opening the final box, I smile. This one is a hath-pool. Putting it on, I place my other items in a bag and walk out. The woman is simply smiling at me.
“You’re a bit late, but you’re worth the wait, I’m sure.” She smiles, and I walk out. Sitting in the car, I hold the roses in my hands, my legs shaking. Glancing up after a while, I panic.
“Where are we going?” Why the hell are we in Solace? He doesn’t answer, just continues to drive. “Let me out!” I am not going home. I watch as he drives closer, the panic rising within me. Are they really sending me back home? I feel tears fill my eyes, hitting the glass between the driver and me.
“Please! Just stop, please.” I watch as he ignores me and continues driving to my parents' place. “Look, I get they tell you, and you do, but please! I can’t go back there. Please just let me the fuck out!” I scream, fighting against the door, but it’s locked. He simply continues driving, his eyes fixed forward, yet every now and then, he glances behind at me.
They’re sending me home. All this was to put my guard down. I hadn’t even realised where we were going or that we stopped at the checkpoint for the city! I watch as he stops the car and gets out, my hand grasping the roses in one hand. Reaching down, I pull out the dagger. I don’t care who I need to kill. I will.
I watch as the door opens, moving out quickly. I feel the tears fall from my eyes. Dante stood before me, smiling. Screaming, I hit him with the roses, his eyes widening as I place the dagger against his neck.
“Okay, so we weren’t expecting this reaction, was the day that bad?” He looks at me, amused.
“It was great! Until you decide to send me fucking home! I should never have come back.” I shouldn’t have.
“Sugar, you’re not getting sent home.” His hand grasps my chin to force me to look at him, moving forward slightly, so the knife pushes harder against his neck. “Your family is throwing a ball, and they requested your presence. So you are leaving here, Emmi, with us. I promise you that this is in no way us giving you back.” His eyes stay fixed on mine as my chest heaves. Slowly I lower my hand with the dagger in it. “I told him a dagger was the wrong gift.” He laughs slightly, his eyes glancing down at me.
“Sorry.” I panicked.
“I should have thought, don’t worry. Except you killed some of the roses, so it’s a good job that I have another one here for you.” He winks and holds out the rose making me laugh. Taking it from him, his arm wraps around mine. “You look stunning, by the way.” He leads me forward. Zane is stood waiting, once again with a rose, holding it out as he fights back the laughter.
“Thank you.” I smile at him.
“You’re welcome, Emmi, it was amazing to see how quickly you could have cut him.” He winks and steps behind me as we walk forward. Gunner and Bear stood there holding a rose each. Okay, so this rose thing, while it is sweet, is becoming annoying now. Taking both of their roses, I watch as Gunner grins.
“Did you like your final gift, little kitten?” His question makes me laugh.
“We will see how much later when I use it.” I smile at him, looking over to Bear. His eyes are fixed on my body. He moves to stand on the opposite side of me, his arm linking mine through his as I walk in with Bear and Dante on either side of me, Zane, and Gunner behind us.
“We’re late, but it will make the entrance even better.” I turn and look at Dante.
“I thought you said we were invited?” What did I miss?
“You were, sugar. Your mother requested that you come alone, private apparently. She didn’t want us here.” Finally, the door is opened, and I watch as everyone turns and stares, the room falling quiet.
“Well, I think that worked.”
“Oh, that isn’t us, little lamb. They are mesmerised by you. Believe me, we are nothing with you standing here like this.” Bear leans down and presses a kiss on my forehead as I see my mum and Jamie. I hate been back here, but what choice do I have? Stepping forward, we walk in.
“Where would you like to start?” Dante looks at me.
“My brother.” That is where I will start. Nodding, they step back. I turn to look at them.
“We’re here for you, not to ensure you behave, but to support you. You have the freedom to walk around and speak to people. We will watch from a distance to keep you safe. No guards to listen to what you say.” Dante leans down and kisses me before walking off. I look at them, confused. Gunner leans down, his mouth pressing against my neck.
“Use the dagger, little kitten. If you get the urge, just use it.” He smiles and walks off.
Bear presses a light kiss on my cheek before walking off too.
“Are you leaving me as well?” I look at Zane. Everyone is staring confused, and I know why: I’m meant to choose one. This is fucked up.
“Your choice.” He looks at me, waiting.
“Then you will accompany me for a short while.” I wrap my arm around him, and he kisses me lightly. Turning, I walk to my brother. Stopping before him, his eyes go to Zane, and he looks annoyed.
“I’m sure we said alone,” Jamie states, looking at Zane.
“Well, I am sure you can understand why we decided to come. To send our Queen to another city, even if it is her family’s, alone, unprotected, isn’t what we do,” is Zane’s only explanation.
“How are you, Emmi? Can we talk alone?” Jamie asks, looking at me.
“I will be close by, don’t worry.” Zane kisses me and steps away. What am I missing? I know I’m missing something.
“So, how are you doing?” Jamie asks.
“Good, thanks. How have you and mum been?” I will be polite.
“We’re fine. You were meant to come alone, Emmi, not with the Wolversons.” He looks at me, then glances towards them.
“Why? What is the point in this ball anyway?” Surely they should be welcomed here?
“People have been asking when the wedding is, who you’re marrying. We had hoped tonight you would tell people. Then sort out with mum when you can come here to marry them.”
I laugh. Is he serious?
“You have to understand, Emmi, tradition needs to be followed. Mum was taken home for a week before she married dad. She spent the week with her family, without dad, to say goodbye.”
I nod. I know their traditions. I also know this is them trying to get me alone and away from the guys.
“I don’t know who I’m marrying, Jamie.” I have just as little of an idea as him.
“Have they not told you who?” He looks towards them, confused.
Laughing, I shake my head. “Oh, you and mum thought that you would send me there, and they would choose? No, Jamie, they have given me the freedom to choose. To have time to decide who I marry.” I step back slightly.
“I’m amazed by how calm and cool you’re acting when you know the truth, and you know that I know!”
“Mum and I decided on a different course. So you marry them, and rightfully, both cities are joined. Both cities belong to us like they will the Wolversons.”
He actually thinks I’m a fool.
“How can you stand there and act so damn cool? After everything you two planned, now you’re just acting like this is life.” He doesn’t even seem bothered.
“What would you know about life? You didn’t have to do a thing, free to do what the hell you wanted. Once you have some real responsibilities, you will realise. In life, the real world, you do anything to get by.”
“I’m going to go speak to Mum.” I turn to walk away, but he grasps my arm.
“You speak to me now, Emmi, not Mum. Everyone is here expecting an announcement about who you will be marrying. Mum will then explain how you’re going to help both cities connect and release the border.” His voice is quiet.
“You want me to announce here tonight who I plan to marry?” I look at him, waiting, watching as he nods. “Fine, let’s get it over and done with.” Of course, I have a plan that they will hate because it will undoubtedly make them look bad. So I simply smile sweetly. I watch as he walks over to our mother and talks to her, yet part of me is now wondering if this is the right thing to do.
Turning, I smile at Dante. What is happening? I don’t know, really.
“Apparently, tonight, I am meant to be announcing who I am marrying. Not only that but my mum seems to want to follow tradition, where I stay here for a week. Apparently, she has realised that it is better for me to marry one of you than her killing me.” Okay, so I sound pissed off, but who wouldn’t be? They are just both acting like there is nothing wrong with it all.
“Can I have everyone's attention, please?” I turn, hearing my mother’s words, Dante looking at me. He will see and understand, I hope.
“As you know, tonight is the night that my daughter announces who she will be marrying. The cities have been divided for some time now. This marriage is set to bring the cities together, maybe even a chance to remove the border.”
I hear Dante’s gasp next to me. Yeah, she is trying to make decisions for both cities, I’m guessing in the hopes that I’ll agree. But she’s wrong. How can they just assume I will forget everything they planned to do to me?
“So, I would like you all to hear from my daughter, Emmi, exactly who she will be marrying.” My mother points to me. I watch as all four stares at me, shocked. Yeah, yeah, no one knows.