My stomach was in knots the entire walk down stairs and into the massive dining room. All traces of the usual warehouse appearance had been wiped away. While the outside of the warehouse looked run-down and desolate, the inside was completely remodeled.
A long table sat in the center of the room, a couple of clear vases with blood-red roses sat on top. I kept my eyes forward, letting them glaze over as I ignored my surroundings. The silver cuffs were back on my wrist, cutting me off from my wolf and my pack.
I noticed my Father at the head of the table, with Holly sitting off to the side. Her eyes held just a flicker of fear within them as she noticed my presence. I pretended not to see her, pretended not to care.
Tristan pulled back a chair for me, and I sat almost robotically. I could feel my Father’s eyes on me, narrow and assessing. If he had any suspicions, he didn’t voice them.
Tristan pulled out a chair across from me, sitting down beside Holly. I kept my eyes straight ahead, focusing on an oil painting that hung on the wall.
“Has she been fighting your control?” My Father asked, turning to look at Tristan.
“She did at first, but I expected as much.” Tristan nodded, playing the part of the dutiful soldier well. Part of me wanted to let out a dark laugh.
My Father had clearly been furious at Giovanni’s betrayal, but had no inkling that another traitor sat in his midst. “Since the traitor and his bitch were let go, she’s calmed down quite a bit.”
“Very good.” My Father nodded, his eyes drifting over to me. I resisted the urge to stiffen as I wondered if he planned on testing me. I felt as though I were playing the part well, but I had no idea if my Father could see through my act.
“She will soon learn it is all but pointless to stand against me. That in time, I will win. The sooner she cuts those pesky ties to her pack, the better.”
I could feel my anger spike, but regained control before my sporadic heart rate gave me away. While I pretended to be under Tristan’s complete control, my Father knew I could still hear everything around me. Tristan had entered my mind multiple times, each time seeking to gain a foothold, but always failed.
I could only wonder what it would have felt like if he truly managed to latch himself onto my mind, embedding himself in my thoughts. How would it feel to lose all control, to be forced to sit and listen to my surroundings, unable to do anything?
“It seems with Lola completely under your control, I have no need for my other daughter.” My Father shrugged, as though this were just a normal occurrence.
My Father’s cold eyes were on me the entire time, gauging my reaction as his words settled in my ears. “Dispose of her for me, Tristan. Make it slow.”
“Yes, my Lord.” Tristan murmured, and in a flash, he was out of his chair.
His movements were a blur, and when I blinked, he was standing. Tristan held Holly in front of him, her mouth gaping as his hands gripped her slender neck.
I could see her pleading with me, her eyes wide and full of terror. Pain echoed within me as I fought the urge to leap from my own seat.
He wouldn’t actually kill her, I tried to tell myself. She’s his daughter, I repeated like a mantra. I knew my Father held no qualms with killing the two of us. He would do so once we lost our use, wanting nothing but our power and our ability to take the throne.
With all the strength I had inside of me, I kept my head straight, my eyes blank. My hands were relaxed as they sat on my lap, my breaths slow and even. Holly visibly trembled from the corner of my eye, shaking as Tristan’s hands gripped her neck.
“Lola, please.” Holly whimpered, but the sound was quickly cut off as Tristan squeezed her throat.
“Continue.” My Father nodded, never once taking his eyes off my face.
Holly’s whimpers turned into a low croak, and I watched as her eyes began to widen and bulge.
My control was slipping with each passing second, with each garbled gasp for oxygen that would never come. Just as I began to break, and my fingers started to twitch, my Father turned his eyes back to Tristan.
“Good, that’ll be enough.” My Father nodded, never once glancing at his other daughter, the one who desperately gasped for air.
‘You did good.’ Tristan’s voice drifted through my mind.
I wanted to respond, I really did, but I was shaken to my core. I couldn’t ignore the hurt look Holly gave me, nor could I ignore how I almost watched my half-sister die.
Our Father held no remorse, no sympathy for his wheezing daughter. As though this were a normal occurrence, Holly sat back down in her seat, her eyes down on her lap.
A few moments later, a silver cart rolled into the room. One of my Father’s servants placed a plate in front of me, along with a tall glass of blood. I had grown used to the taste of blood, had come to anticipate it with every meal. Blood had become more fulfilling than food, sending a surge of strength and bliss through my veins.
A thick steak sat in the center of my plate, along with some steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes. The scent of the food wasn’t nearly as appealing as the blood. Neither my Father nor Tristan had a plate in front of them, only a tall glass of blood. Just as my Father lifted the glass to his lips, Holly began cutting into her steak.
I followed suit, lifting my own glass as robotically as I could. The blood washed down my throat, chasing away the lingering fear I had felt as I watched Tristan choke Holly. My muscles relaxed, my brain clearing as the blood coursed through me.
After I drained the glass, I moved onto my steak. I cut the piece of meat into little cubes, all whilst keeping my eyes glazed and uninterested. The steak tasted like ash in my mouth, as did the rest of the food.
Dinner finished shortly after, and Tristan escorted me back into my bedroom. He lingered in my room for a few moments, making sure no one had followed us. His lips were turned down in a frown, his eyebrows pressed together in irritation.
“Did you enjoy nearly killing Holly?” I laughed dryly, “How you can pretend to be so loyal is beyond me.”
“We both played our parts well tonight.” Tristan replied, his tone hard and cold. “That girl deserves better. She’s been through far more than you.
If you don’t remember, your Father took her from her home months ago. She’s endured him much longer than you have. I’m not a good person, I never claimed to be–but I am nothing like your Father.”
As Tristan turned to leave my room, and errant thought crossed my mind. Tristan had become an unlikely, and somewhat unwanted, ally. I wouldn’t have the information I did without him. I needed to know where he would go after this, what he would do.
“Where will you go after this?” I asked, my voice low. “I’m sure you have no intention on sticking around after Asher gets me and Holly out of this place.”
“What will I do?” Tristan murmured thoughtfully, “I have no idea, Lola. That’s been the question all along.”
“Come with us.” I suggested, flinching at the tone of my voice. I still felt the lingering effects of his mark, but I no longer held any romantic feelings towards him. Asher’s mark had all but scorched the emotions from me, only leaving room for him.
Regardless, it wouldn’t hurt to have another ally on our side. Tristan was clearly my Father’s right-hand man. With everything he knew at our disposal, we had a much better chance at winning this war.
“Come with you?” Tristan scoffed, “I’d be executed the minute I stepped foot in your pack. If your precious mate wouldn’t do it, then Alpha Bran would.”
“I wouldn’t let that happen.” My answer was immediate, and I felt the weight of my words as I spoke them. I would never leave Asher for Tristan, but if he truly wanted to change sides, I would give him the safety to do so. Asher would be rightfully pissed, but I’m sure Tristan already knew that much. “I’d make sure of that.”
“You would vouge for me, even against your own Alpha?” Tristan quipped, one of his blonde eyebrows raised. “Even after all I’ve done?”
“If you help us, if you leave my Father behind and change sides, then yes.” I nodded, “After all you’ve done, Asher will be pissed, but I know he’ll understand.”
“I’ll think about it.” Tristan replied, catching me by surprise. I half expected him to deny the offer outright, but I found myself glad he was thinking it over. In a strange way, we made a good team. Even though it was hard to look past all the bullsh*t he put me through.
“One last thing.” I called out just as Tristan turned away. “Could you find a way to bring Holly to my room tomorrow? It’ll be easier to escape if she’s already with me.”
“I will make sure she’s here tomorrow.” Tristan nodded, “I won’t apologize for the things I’ve done, but I will admit, you continue to surprise me.”
“Thank you, Tristan. I’m far from actually trusting you, but you’ve helped me more than I care to admit. If you want to change sides, come to my room tomorrow.” I replied, “You can leave with us. As long as you don’t betray my trust, no one will harm you.”
“Spoken like a true Luna.” Tristan smirked, closing my door behind him.