She hadn’t gotten out of bed in three days, she hadn’t slept, and she hadn’t eaten. Doc came and checked her yesterday and said it was to be expected, and I was too frightened to leave her side since I still felt nothing through the bond. It was like she wasn’t there at all, yet she was because I was staring at her.
I brushed her hair back before trying to move her up the bed so she could rest on me, but she slid straight back down into her nest, burrowing back beneath the blankets as if they would somehow protect her from the world.
Sighing, I place the book down I was reading to her and wander off into the bathroom. I ran a bath. She needed to get moving, something. I would take anything at this point. Not even my calling roused any reaction from her. Even the mind link was blocked. I filled the bath with bubbles and lavender, it made me crinkle my nose, but I knew she liked the smell. Walking back out, I retrieved one of my shirts from the closet. She was still in the hospital gown, but I was determined to get her into something else. Hopefully, get her to eat or speak.
Once I had towels and a shirt for her, I checked the water and waited for it to fill before shutting the water off. Stepping into the room, she was still in the same spot, and I had to untangle her from the blankets. I grabbed her, and she remained still as I removed her gown while she sat on the edge of the bed.
Goosebumps covered her skin, and I stripped my clothes off before grabbing her and climbing into the bath with her. I set her between my legs, and she remains motionless while I wash her hair and clean her. We stayed in the water until it went cold, and I pulled her back out, drying her off and tugging my shirt over her head. Yet it angered me when she just rolled back into her nest that had no order.
Clarice had sent up soup for me to try and get her to eat, but she just rolled over. Reaching for my whiskey, I swig from the bottle. It was the only thing that kept me from losing my damn mind. The silence was killing me; not feeling anything through the bond was lonely. I just wanted a reaction. Any reaction would do, so I knew she was still with me.
I eye the nest, pissed off with how it obscured her from me as she hid under the blankets when the bottle slipped from my hands and shattered on the floor. I snarl at the mess I made.
My anger became too much and forced the shift. I stormed over to the bed, ripping at her nest, trying to fix the damn thing, yet I only managed to tear apart the mattress. With a growl, I dropped onto the bed. I was about to mind-link Damian to ring Doc again when I felt movement on the bed before feeling her hand run across my fur to my chest before she laid her head on my chest.
Astonished, I stared at her. It was the first time she had moved toward me, and it had to be when I wasn’t in human form. I was tempted to change back, but I didn’t want her to slide away in case she didn’t move back into place.
I turned my face and sniffed her hair. I let my calling wash over her. She snuggled closer, and I sighed. Well, it was something, I guess.
When she woke a few hours later, I shifted back, and she immediately burrowed back under blankets. For the next few days, I noticed she only came to me if I was shifted and not in human form, so I had spent most of my time in this state.
Hearing a knock on the door. I moved off the bed. Azalea had helped me fix her nest today; we changed the sheets and fixed it up, but she didn’t rebuild it like I hoped, which saddened me; I had gotten used to the thing, such a bizarre thing for she-wolves to do, but still, I hated not curling up in it with her.
Liam enters with strips of raw meat, cubed cheese, and crackers Clarice had sent up.
“Still the same?” Liam asks, and I nod. It had been over a week, and still, she hadn’t eaten. She was dropping weight like crazy. This time struggled as I was going to try to make her eat while in this form. The claws would make it a real pain, yet she seemed more comfortable with me in my Lycan form.
“I was thinking,” he said as I went to turn away from him. I stop and turn to look at him.
“About what?” I didn’t want to hear about Peter or his theories right now. I only cared about Azalea. Peter was locked in the cells, and I would deal with him when I could.
“About why she won’t go near you when you’re not shifted,” he says. My brows furrow when I feel him open up the mind link.
“You can’t mate with her,” Liam says, and I growl, looking back at the bed before looking at Liam again.
“Something to think about,” Liam says, and I nod, making me wonder if he was right. Yet I couldn’t live in this form. I missed wearing clothes and using my hands properly. Claws and buttons don’t mix.
Liam walks out, and I move toward the bed and sit on it before propping her up on pillows so she is sitting up. My claws nick her arm by accident when I grab her, and I sigh, leaning down and licking the spot where I broke the skin. I watch it heal.
“Sorry.” I tell her, and she just stares at me, but she doesn’t even flinch. I pinch a beef strip between my claws only to drop it. I growl, trying to pick the damn thing up again, only to drop it again when she moves to pick it up herself.
Her movements were robotic-like. She was on autopilot. Though excitement bloomed in me, she managed to eat half of what was on the plate, and despite me insisting she eats more, she wouldn’t. I set the plate aside and laid down with her again, eventually falling asleep. It felt like all we did was sleep and read. It felt wrong.
I wanted to hear her voice. Yet it was Trey talking to Abbie outside the doors that woke me. I jumped to my feet and saw that it was late in the afternoon, the sun slowly going down out the windows. I could see the kids playing on the hill as I stood; I moved toward the door. Maybe Abbie could get her up.
The last few days have been chaotic. The entire castle was tense, and I couldn’t imagine what Azalea was going through as I peered down at Tyson playing with his blocks. For days I tried to wake her, or get any reaction out of her. Kyson would bring her to me since she still hadn’t been able to remove the command, half the time when I would see her, I don’t even think she was aware of me being near. Though the command over me to not follow her, we had found loopholes after Clarice and Gannon had been teaching me ways to approach that I found quite confusing but nevertheless seemed to work.
I learned with Azalea’s command as long as I didn’t think of the intention to go to her, only the action, I could sometimes bypass it, but it was extremely difficult to do. Kyson had told me she was barely functioning and I was his last resort to pull her out of it. He seemed so sure it would work and the disappointment on his face when I couldn’t speak volumes of how much he wanted and needed her back.
Yet I knew as soon as I saw her she was catatonic. As if she was trapped within the confines of her own mind. Yet I knew that feeling, and until she wanted to come back to us, I knew she wouldn’t. One thing I learned over the years was that slipping away was all too easy.
Switching it off and not feeling was sometimes the only way to survive and I knew that was what she was doing. Azalea wouldn’t come back to us until she was ready until her walls came down and let her feel again, but I worried for that moment, the moment reality crashed her back to her surroundings and forced her to live with the agony of her loss.
It wasn’t until the last visit that I managed, after hours of navigating the stairs and walking around the castle that I was able to get to her room without her command forcing me back. Only all that time and effort was wasted when I suddenly had to help Clarice which forced me to leave Tyson in the hands of Trey only to return and find Tyson on the bed with Azalea and she was awake. I didn’t realize the weight ! was carrying without her by my side until it lifted and I saw her sitting up. She was okay, or as okay as she could be given the circumstances.
Maybe it was the familiarity of Tyson or longing for the child she lost that had her react to his presence. Kyson then asked me to leave Tyson with him a little longer because it was the most reaction we had had out of her in days.
During the time Azalea was lost to us, we had learned so much, we learned who was behind poisoning her, and I was shocked to learn it was Peter. He was the last person we would have suspected. I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact he was capable of such a thing Gannon and all the royal guards wanted to kill him, yet it made me want to know the reasoning behind it. No one is born a monster, and I struggled to see him as one. I knew Peter as a funny, energetic boy, and I struggled to differentiate between his two sides.
Peter’s hate stemmed from Ester being kicked out of the castle, he had some twisted plan that if he got Azalea out of the picture, his estranged mother would be allowed back. I found Peter’s story quite sad, longing for a mother that never wanted him. So Azalea was not the only victim but so was Peter. He was just a boy, lost, craving for the affection his mother never granted him. I just hope Azalea would recognize that within him because I know the King wants to kill him.
I wasn’t sure what was more shocking; Peter being responsible for Azalea losing her baby or that Ester was his mother. It seemed, in some way, that everything and everyone were linked. And just to make things more confusing than learning that Peter was also Azalea’s half brother and Ester was a half-sister of Trey.
I knew that with the King’s anger, it would be any day now that he delivered the punishments bestowed on Peter. It sickened me, knowing what he would have to endure, something Azalea and I were all too familiar with, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.
Gannon and I fought over different opinions on what should become of Peter. Gannon was loyal to the King and was oathed Azalea, which I believed clouded his judgment, nothing I said or did in defense of Peter got me anywhere with him. It saddened me because besides me, Clarice, and the gardener, he had no one on his side.
Though it put me in a terrible spot, Azalea was my sister, and I know I will never be able to forgive Peter for the heartache he caused her and caused all of us when he did what he did. Yet, at the same time couldn’t wish ill will on anyway, not after the childhood Azalea and I were forced to live, not after seeing firsthand what pain and suffering it causes.
I look up as Gannon walks into the room. He leans against the door. “Why aren’t you ready? Azalea is down there, Abbie,”
“And she wouldn’t expect me down there. What am I supposed to do, Gannon, take Tyson down with me just so I can watch you force Peter to whip his own mother from an inch of her life?” Gannon growls, not seeing reason. Only seeing his need to break the boy that broke his Queen.
Yet I knew deep down that Azalea wouldn’t want this and had only agreed to save her half-brother from imminent death had she not suggested a different punishment.
After a while, Gannon realized I wasn’t going anywhere and sighed, moved toward the bed, and laid down. Glancing, I watch as his mind links someone before looking at me.
“Liam said he would take my place. Ester has been taken to the courtyard along with Peter already,” I swallow, knowing that while I sit here, someone else was suffering, and that didn’t sit well with me.