We stepped into a courtyard I had never been in before. My heart nearly stopped when I saw Ester tied with her hands chained above her head to the wall. Her clothes were torn at the back from where the whip had slashed her flesh. However, the wounds were healed, and she panted. Kyson growls, and anger coursed through the bond. Peter stood with a whip in his hands that he swiftly dropped, shaking his head and looking at Kyson pleadingly. Clarice stood off to the side, nibbling her fingernails. The skin on her face had tears trekking down it and dripping off her chin.
Though Trey’s expressionless face as he sneered at Peter shocked me the most. This was his sister, and he showed no care for her at all. It was shocking.
“Again! You have twenty more, Peter.” he snarls, stalking over to him and snatching the whip from the ground. He thrusts it at Peter, who flinches away from him. Bile rose up my throat, and I looked at Kyson, squeezing his hand, and he turned his head, looking at me.
“It’s only twenty,” I tell him, and Ester glances over her shoulder at me. Her face flushed red, and she panted before looking at Kyson.
“Hurry up, Peter. Finish it!” Kyson snaps.
“Prick.” I hiss under my breath, and Kyson growls, leaning down to whisper in my ear.
“Watch your tone,” he whispers next to my ear.
“Watch yours.” I retorted, ripping my arm from his grip. I make my way over to Clarice, who explains Ester was taking it rather well, and Kyson overhearing that, did not sound impressed.
He walked over to Liam and talked to him before Liam walked off. Though I was quite shocked at how fast Ester was healing. The moment the whip pulled away, her skin closed. Being whipped was one thing. Seeing someone else made my skin prickle and itch.
I couldn’t stand the sound of the crack being made, the way it whipped through the air, the sound of tearing flesh. Flashbacks smashed me as I tried to block them out, and I wanted nothing more than to run. At this moment, I truly hated Kyson. Hated who he had become.
Yet once Peter finished, her skin was red and angry but no longer bleeding. That seemed to bother Kyson. He wanted blood, and plenty stained the stone ground, yet he was not sated by it. For the most part, I stared at the rose bushes, blocking out what was going around me until I heard Ester shriek when Liam walked in with a bucket. The potent scent of Wolfsbane reached my nose, and Clarice whimpered beside me, and I sat up straighter.
“Kyson!” I hissed. He growls, I know they need to be punished, but this seemed excessive even for him. I watched in horror as he dipped the whip in the bucket, and my heart lodged in my throat, and tears sprung to my eyes as he pulled it out. The cracking sound sent spray everywhere, and her scream I felt to my core.
One scream and it sent me back to a dark place and had me twisting where I sat on the edge of the garden. The contents of my stomach spewed out into the garden. Kyson, though, was almost rabid, not caring he made me sick.
Not caring for her screams or Peter’s begging. He wasn’t present, lost in his anger, and by the 100th one, Ester hung limply in the chains, yet still, he didn’t stop. I was trapped in the darkest parts of my mind. The darkest places I thought I would never be trapped in again. Only this time, my mate’s actions trapped me there until Clarice shrieked beside me.
Her hands that held me gripped me tighter and Peter’s blood-curdling scream made goosebumps rise, and my ears rang loudly, ripping me out of my own head that was tormenting me. Peter lay on the ground, and Kyson stood over him with the whip in his hand. Ester was a bloody mess, and I could have sworn that some of the white meaty-looking bits of her back were exposed down to the bone.
“Leave him,” Ester breathed. Yet she couldn’t move to lift her head. I gaped at the scene before me. Peter clutched his face. That was bleeding profusely. Kyson was enraged and, at some time, had shifted.
| swallowed as he breathed heavily, and the nearby gardener was pale as a ghost as he looked at Peter and Ester. He reached forward, gripping Peter’s arms.
“Please, no more! She can’t take it anymore! Let me take her place.” Peter pleaded.
“No!” Clarice shrieked.
Kyson snarled, his upper lip pulling back over his teeth, and a sinister glint was in his black obsidian eyes. He tilts his head to the side.
“I’ll allow it,”
“He is a boy!” The gardener defended. I had no idea when he got here, but he obviously cared for Peter.
“He can’t even heal!” Kyson shrugs, turning back to Ester. The whip cracked in the air, and her scream made my blood run cold when Peter
escaped the gardener’s clutches and tossed himself in front of his mother. Trey clenched his jaw and looked ahead, the only sign that he disagreed with Kyson’s actions. He was controlled solely now by his rage and hate for the pair. I saw him raise the whip, and I never even registered the movement as I tossed myself in front of my brother.
Peter couldn’t heal, I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t allow Kyson to kill them. The sentence he gave Ester turned lethal when he had Liam bring out the Wolfsbane. Enough was enough.
I felt the sharp tendrils of fiery pain split up my back and tear my dress and shoulder. I hissed, and my back arched, but I gripped Peter, managing to stay upright as my own scream reverberated around the area.
Pain licked up my spine, and I clenched my teeth when I heard a roar. Gold flecks flitted brightly, tainting my vision, and a collective gasp was heard when suddenly Trey smashed into the wall beside Ester. I turned to see Liam trying to hold Kyson back, and I realized Trey had attacked my mate. Trey got to his feet, and my command rolled over him moments later.
“Stand down!” I snapped at him, and he whimpered, yet just that simple command made me s*ck in a harsh breath as I turned to face my mate, who was now staring in horror at me. He takes a step toward me with outstretched hands before shaking his head.
“She has suffered enough!” I seethed through clenched teeth.
“When I say she has,” Kyson growled, challenging me, but I refused to move. I nod toward the gardener, who comes over a grabs Peter, dragging him away when I start undoing the front of my dress.
“Fine then. I take her place.” I tell him, popping the buttons on my dress.
“No!” Kyson snarls.
“You would have allowed Peter but I won’t allow that. Therefore, he takes his mother’s place, and I take his. So which is Kyson?” I tell him, letting my dress fall to the ground, leaving me in just my undergarments. Everyone averts their gaze, as I knew they would. Ester groans, and I glance at her and swallow when I see her flesh sizzling. It must hurt. The one lashing down mine seared up my spine like wildfire, and I wanted to douse my back with water.
“Azalea, move!” and I do. I turn around, offering my back to him, and he gasps where he had struck me instead of Peter. I knew what he saw. Years and years of healed lash marks and one like Ester now had carved in her back.
“Azalea!” Kyson snarls, and I hear him come behind me, his long furry fingers wrapping around my arm as he grabs me and spins me to face him.
“What is Kyson? Can’t bear to see your mark on my flesh yet revel in hers? No! I won’t allow it!”
“Then I kill her.” he sneers, and Peter screams.
“You said lashes! You are already killing her. Look at her!” I screamed furiously in his face. He seemed taken aback but did look at her back, her flesh torn open and blood pooling at her feet.
“Enough or I take her place,” I tell him, and he looks at me. His eyes narrowed, and I could see the fury behind them, the argument I knew that was coming, but here with witnesses, he refused to give a show to them. He wanted us a united front, but I would not stand by this a moment more. I never agreed in the first place but understood it had to happen, but he said he wouldn’t kill her and any more lashes would.
We stood off, neither of us willing to bow to the other, and the air between us became tense.
“Know your place, My King. Landeena’s word is final.”
“Not over me it’s not, My Queen. You may be Landeena, but I am your mate, and Alpha hierarchy still holds weight,” he snarls.
“Want to test that theory?” I asked him, though it was a test. I had come to notice he would back down when my title came into play, making me realize I was so much stronger than him. He seemed surprised, and his eyebrows rose, yet my assumption was correct. With hierarchy, the Alpha was always most assertive, the most dominant in a mate bond but not against a Landeena, and that realization was eye-opening when he took a step back from me.
“Just remember, you may have power. That doesn’t mean you know how to use it.”
“Yet, Kyson. Not yet. But I think you and I both know you are dreading the day I do,” I tell him, and he growls.
“Release her!” he snaps before turning his gaze back to me. “Cover up!” he snaps, turning on his heel and storming off.
I shouldn’t be here, I should be down there watching that bastard take his punishment, paying for his sins, yet at the same time, Abbie and I have done nothing but argue. I could see if I went down there and stood by my king’s side she wouldn’t forgive me.
Yet sitting here I felt useless, and Tyson’s crying was beginning to give me a headache.
“He wants his blanket,” Abbie tells me and I ignore her. I loved her to death but she babied him far too much and he was spoiled rotten,
“Gannon, he won’t sleep without it.”
“He can go one night without it Abbie, it won’t hurt him,” I tell her.
Hearing a knock at the door I glance over at it and so does Abbie. She looks back at me, and I sigh, forcing myself up from the bed and moving toward the door. I answered the door, and Abbie got to her feet to move toward the door before freezing mid-step when she spotted Azalea. Abbie groaned, unable to go to her, yet the longing on her face was evident..
“Man, you need to find a way to remove the command,” Abbie says, flopping back on the floor next to Tyson, who was playing with some wooden blocks, Azalea walks into the room while I remain frozen, unable to myself, not expecting the visit. Azalea leans down, kissing his head and messing Tyson’s hair before sitting beside him. I glanced at the door, half expecting Kyson to be with her, but he was nowhere in sight. Turning back to face them, I move toward the bed, having to take a wide berth so as not to step toward my Queen.
“I heard the King made you watch?” Abbie asks as Azalea chews her lip and nods.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t watch that. I could kill him for making you!” Abbie growls, and I growl at her, annoyed because I should have been down there, not Liam, though he would have come just to watch regardless, nothing that man loves more than seeing the pain in another’s eyes.
“Mind your tongue, Love,” I tell her, and Abbie rolls her eyes at me and I lay back on the bed trying to ignore them and offer them some form of privacy
They talked for a little while, but I could tell it was straining on Abbie because she couldn’t move toward her and had to consider her intentions when moving around our own room.
“Can you go into town for me?” Abbie asks me. I sigh and force myself to get back up.
“He needs to learn to sleep without it,” Abbie shoots me a look.
“Fine,” I growled, leaning down to take Tyson. I prop him on my hip.
“What’s in town?” Azalea asks.
“That microfiber blanket. It tore in the wash.” Abbie tells Azalea. Tyson has sensory issues, and certain things irritate him. To Tyson, it was a comfort thing. Yet he can’t cart a blanket around all the time and needs to learn other coping mechanisms.
“I think there is one in the room Kyson made up for a baby room for me, across from his old quarters” Azalea tells me. Yet I didn’t want to ask her to retrieve it and was about to tell her I would go into town when we all looked toward the door as it was pushed open, and Kyson stepped inside.
“This is where you disappeared to,” he says, looking at Azalea; he stops behind her, and she looks up at him as he reaches down, offering her his hand, and he pulls her to her feet.
“Are you okay?” he whispers, burying his face in her neck. Azalea sighs, leaning back against him.
“Yes, now you’re here,” she tells him, and he kisses the side of her neck.
“Where are you off to?” Kyson asks, looking up at me,
“He was heading into town to get Tyson a blanket, but I think there is a microfiber one in the room across from your old quarters Azalea told him, turning her head to look at him. I shake my head.
“No, it’s fine. Gannon will buy one,” Abbie quickly says, and I hum in agreement.
“No, it’s fine. I think Az is right,” Kyson says, pressing his lips to her cheek.
“I will ask Matt to bring it over,” Kyson says, and set Tyson on the bed.
*Are you sure?” I ask him.
“Yeah, not like anything in there is getting used.” Kyson says, and guilt washes through me. Here I was worried about Tyson and his blanket when they would do anything to have their son back.
“Come on, we should go. Besides, I am sure Abbie is sick of trying to move around the room without intentionally walking in my direction” Azalea laughs and I see Abbie watching her with concern.
“Or I could show you how to drop your command,” Kyson whispers behind her, and she looks up at him.
“You’ll show me?” Azalea asked, and Kyson leaned down, bumping his nose against hers before brushing his lips on hers. I smirk, loving seeing Kyson be affectionate with her, he was almost an entirely different person with her, and I wondered if I was the same with Abbie
“Yeah, I think if I don’t, my Beta may quit” Kyson laughs, making me chuckle.
“About bloody time!” Abbie says excitedly.
“I can only use it when I’m angry,” Azalea tells him, chewing on my lip, and he sits down, pulling Azalea into his lap on the floor. Abbie sits on her butt across from her where she stood.
“I can explain it to you but I know you will hate it, but I can command you to drop it. Which will be easier, and you can feel the pressure behind it.” Kyson says. “If it works, I will try anything. I would like a proper hug.” Azalea says with a chuckle, looking at Abbie excitedly, who I knew was desperate to get her hands on her too.
“And I would like to walk toward you without having to do the one, two-step,” Gannon I tell her.
“So it is similar to a command. A command you add pressure, force you will on them,” Kyson says, letting his slip out slowly, though I found it wasn’t as discomforting or maybe because he didn’t intend it to be.
“To rescind it, you pull it back into yourself. So reabsorb your aura and command,” he tries to talk her through it and it was hard watching him manipulate his aura with her. The oath liked it despite there being no ill intention behind his actions.
“So you can try, or if you want, I can try to command you to drop the command, though I am not sure if I actually can command you now.”
“What do you mean?” she asked him and I knew he would have a lot of answering to do. Azalea was inquisitive.
Kyson sighs and looks at me, and I smirk; raising an eyebrow at him. “Landeena command can kill. Your command is more potent than mine. I just know how to use mine. You don’t,” Kyson tells her, and she appears rather shocked,
“Wait! I could have hurt all of them?” she stammered, glancing at us nervously.
“Yes, but not before you had awoken your gifts,” Kyson tells her.
“Cedric said something about awakening my gifts,” she admits.
“You spoke to Cedric?” Kyson asks her, and she nods her head.
“He was showing me how to use the mind link.” Kyson presses his lips in a line but adds nothing on the subject.
“Here, feel for my aura, and I want you to push on it and force it back, okay? If you can do that, you un-command them,” he tells her while Abbie waits patiently.
“Yeah, but I don’t want to hurt you,” she argues with him.
“You can control it, Azzy. How much force you put behind it is something you can feel. You will know when to stop or if I am resisting it,” Kyson says.
They practice a few times before she finally figures it out and can lift the command. She removes Abbie’s first and then mine. The relief felt upon the weight of it lifting off me was refreshing. Knowing I was pact oathed to her yet unable to go to her, my skin constantly crawled with unease.
“Practice enough, and you will be able to do it via a mind link without having to be in front of them.”
Just as Kyson and Azalea were getting ready to leave, a knock was heard on the door, and Matt, one of the guards, handed Kyson the blanket, but he shook his head, pointing to Tyson, who had his hands out for it.
“More than my life,” Azalea says, turning toward Abbie.
“Always, more than my life,” she says while clutching her face between her hands. Abbie kisses her cheek.
“Come see me tomorrow, or I can come to see you now,” Azalea laughs, and I avert my gaze to the King.
“I sent Liam, Damian, and Dustin to the brothels to investigate the rogue trafficking and the council’s involvement,” I nod.