The drive to the castle was long, and I fell asleep along the way, only to be awoken by Ivy as we pulled up. She shook my arm, jostling me awake to my surroundings to find we had stopped. The castle was something out of fairy tales, and for a few moments, I forgot about the man who had got in the car with us after the King became annoyed and pulled over. It was the man I had seen smoking earlier. He was quiet and didn’t say much, but it gave me a chance to look at him.
He had dark hair and equally dark eyes, or maybe that was just because of the dim lighting with the tinted windows. He was built big and had sharp features. His lips were full and seemed to sit in a permanent frown. I wondered briefly if he ever smiled, if this cold stony face was his usual demeanor, and if it suited his personality. One thing for sure was he was a man of few words.
He didn’t speak, just stared off. His job was clearly to watch us, not tell us where we were going. However, neither of us was willing to ask either. Ivy, I knew, was focused on her breathing as she tried to find a comfortable position to sit in without ripping apart her wounds more. I offered her my shoulder so she could press hers against it, so she didn’t have to lean back against the hard leather chair, though every movement she made. He watched, scrutinizing her every move or twitch.
His scent filled the space we were in though it didn’t creep me out the way the butchers did. His scent was rich, yet the smell of cigarette smoke hung heavily in the air along with a smoother fragrance underlying it, kind of how the forest smelled after it rained. He remained so silent, and a few times I was startled when he moved, having forgotten he was there sitting across from us, which was ridiculous because the man was huge, still he just stared.
Yet once we had been driving for a few hours and I realized he wasn’t going to m****r us, I dozed off until Ivy woke me.
It was the first time he spoke, and it was to her. He asked which of us were injured though I had a funny feeling he already knew, though when Ivy hissed in pain, he seemed to become angered after she denied it.
Neither of us knew how to answer, so used to the punishments Mrs. Daley would give us, we didn’t know how to respond. However, once we got out of the car, he quickly spoke to the King, who said he would handle it. Ivy had glanced at me just as unsure as I about what to expect. I kind of expected the King to dump us on the side of the road, so why would he bring us to his home? Either that or k**l and dispose of us along the way. Either I would have been okay with. Anything is better than the unknown.
Yet, following the King, we were introduced to the head woman in charge of the servants. I looked at Ivy, unsure of what was happening. Clarice seemed nice, but most people do until you get to know them, know their intentions, and if one thing I learned over the years is no one’s intentions were ever pure in nature.
The King even proved that when he forced Ivy to change in front of him, I half expected him to order me to be k****d when I begged for her. Though it shocked me when he tended to her wounds, I could tell Ivy did not know how to react, and neither did I. Seeing him care for a rogue’s wounds, who he made a servant look absolutely bizarre, yet if it helped her, I wasn’t going to question. I did, however, question Clarice when we were separated.
“Can’t I stay with Ivy?” I asked, watching as Ivy walked in a different direction.
“No, the King asked for her specifically,”
“Why?” I blurted before I could stop myself. Clarice didn’t answer, and I dropped my gaze as she showed me to the other side of the castle. Most of the day was spent in the kitchens while Clarice showed Ivy where she was being placed, and now I was being led to new quarters, though I instantly became nervous when I found out it was for the Beta.
I hoped to stay with the other female servants, and learning only the Beta and the King’s guard resided on this side of the castle made me nervous, knowing I would be surrounded by only men.
Clarice had explained to me it was the closest quarter to Ivy, yet it felt further away than the servants’ quarters. We climbed the stairs to what appeared to be some sort of loft.
“This is Beta Damian’s room. You won’t have to do much, Beta Damian is quite clean and hardly stays here, mainly just changes and leaves, yet the floor below you will be in charge of cleaning, but stay out of everyone’s rooms, especially the far two,” Clarice explains, showing me around the quaint room.
It had a bathroom and wardrobe, yet the Beta didn’t seem to have much in the way of belongings besides clothes. Everything was clean, and the bed looked unslept. Heavy dark blue drapes hung from the windows, and a huge white rug lay on the floor, not a speck of dust in sight. Was I expected to keep it this clean, or was Clarice right that he hardly came here because the place definitely didn’t look lived in? In fact, it almost looked empty.
When she showed me around, she took me back down the stairs, and twelve doors lined the floor before a separate area with a small sitting room containing three armchairs, a TV, and some artwork before two more door’s right at the very end.
“Now, the other rooms you can clean except these two. Don’t go into these two rooms unless asked and maybe stay away from that one completely. Liam can be a little unhinged at the best of times,”
“Oh, you won’t see much of him. The man is as silent as night, but this one,” she points to the other door. “Gannon likes his privacy. You met him in the car earlier,” Clarice says, and I nod. So his name was Gannon. I hadn’t paid much attention to names beside Clarice’s since she was in charge of us.
“Gannon is moody and temperamental, so steer clear and don’t speak unless spoken to,” Clarice says. Well, I had no intention of speaking to anyone of the opposite s*x, so that was okay with me.
“So, how many people stay in these quarters?”
“Just the King’s guard, so Beta Damian and the King’s Gamma’s,”
“Shouldn’t there only be one Gamma?” I ask her, trying to remember how the pack hierarchy worked.
“All the King’s guards are Gamma’s, but they still have rankings. Gannon is third in charge, while Dustin and Liam lead together as fourth. It depends on the trials; those I mentioned are the highest ranking in the royal guard. Trey is a little touchy so try to avoid him too, but the rest come and go depending on their shifts, but yes, they are all Gammas. The only ones you need to worry about are Beta Damian, Gannon, and Dustin. They will probably be the main ones you run into.”
“And I should avoid all of them,” Clarice nods. Great, not only was I the only female, all the men on this floor appeared to be unapproachable and anti-social. Great!
“So everything is understood? I need to get back to the kitchens,” Clarice asks, and I nod.
“Great, well, dinner is at 6 pm for the servants, so make sure to head down then, and your room is this one,” she says, wandering down the hall. She points to the door we didn’t go in, which I assumed was a cleaning closet, so I have to clean this floor and share it with the men here. I would have preferred the bunked servants’ quarters.
Clarice cups my cheek with her hand. “You’ll do great. They are a friendly bunch. Just stay out of their way,” she says before turning.
“Wait, when can I see Ivy?” I asked, and Clarice stopped.
“When the King allows it,” Clarice says, and my brows furrow. Wait, what was the King doing with her?