Reads: 25

“Ouch!”. My eyes pop open from the stinging on my arm. I sit up, rubbing it, already annoyed by the annoying woman.

“Get up. The family will be down in a few.”.

My glare follows Annette as she strolls away before I scan the room. The basement is like a second living area…without a TV. I don’t know what they would use the space for since the bar is the only source of entertainment. My arm is still aching, thanks to her. I look back at Annette. “Why do you feel the need to wake me up that way?”. Yeah, I can’t keep the hostility out of my voice.

“Why can I not?”…...... Annette settles at the bar, sipping her drink.

Throughout this trip, that damn woman has hit me awake countless times! That dumbass ‘why can I not’ thing is starting to piss me off! Deep breaths…deep breaths. I don’t want to unbalance myself first thing in the morning, but Annette...stares at me with amusement, playing in those damn green eyes...she’s provoking me and is enjoying it! Why is it that 1 parent was so loving and protective, and this 1…I look over at her. Annette continues watching me sipping on that drink. Yeah, something is fucking wrong with her.

I sigh and get up to freshen up in the little hidden bathroom. A little later, I hear footsteps descending the staircase.

“The rumors are sort of true, seeing that my Sister made it home.”.

“Aunt Annette, welcome home.”.

Firstly they all have that dark red hair, and secondly, they all look like some kind of mercenary killers. Since he called Annette his sister, I take it he’s her brother. He’s a little older than Annette, with some bulging muscles.

The second person is a woman, and she looks my age...maybe a little older, but she has 1 of those smiles on her face...that doesn’t exactly scream...happy.

The third is a man who didn’t offer any kind of greeting. He looks the oldest of them and resembles 1 of those cooled hair-combed-straight-backed psychos.

Again they all are wearing jumpsuits, but not extravagant ones. I’m a little hidden...the 4 of them are emitting a dangerous killing aura. Almost like they’re having a stand-off...this is Annette’s family? She sips on her drink, casually eyeing them over...it feels like a fight will break out at any moment.

“Well, the drunk Queen wasn’t rumored after all.”.

The woman grins at the death glare Annette shoots her. Again, not 1 of those happy rainbow sunshine smiles, but the oh, you’re stuck in my web, and I’m ready to eat smiles.

“Paula, not now.”. Paula bows her head to the older man. “Where is she?”.

Must mean me, I step out so they can see me, and the 3 of them look at me like they just witnessed a miracle. Bonds. I see they exist for extended family members. As our eyes meet, I can feel a pulling waking inside me, but it’s not the same as with Vincent, Annette, or those siblings, but something is there.

Annette rolls her eyes at their reaction. “Thought I was lying?”.

Annette’s brother finally manages to close his hung open mouth. “She...is alive.”.

The 3 of them continue to gawk at me…I’m not sure what’s going on. Why do they have this damn reaction?

After a short silence, Annette sighs, setting her glass down. “Who is occupying the throne?”.

Her brother tears his eyes away from me, looking at her. “Officially, no 1, but as you can see, someone has enough power to mobilize the royal guard.”.....…..

“I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone, and she.”. I make sure to point my finger at Annette. “Doesn’t seem inclined to offer introductions.”. Annette rolls her eyes. The woman irritates the hell out of me, and I don’t know why! She grabs her glass and moves to the couch, still not offering introductions! Deep breaths...she’s sending my rage rapidly up that ladder.

“I apologize. I’m your uncle Anthony, Annette’s older brother.”. He then points to the old man. “This is Kent, our uncle. And –

“Paula. You are quite the mixture of Moon and Lux.”, Paula says, interrupting Anthony.

“Happy?”.

I roll my eyes at Annette, dropping down in the seat next to her. I’ll let that go...since I got what I wanted. Anthony, Paula, and Kent begin whispering...among themselves, so I turn my attention to Annette. After miming gagging, I grin up at her before she smirks, mushing me into the couch with 1 hand.

“You 2 are close then?”.

I sit up, looking over at Paula. “I don’t know. She’s kind of weird.”.

“What does that make you?”…...

Annette is baiting me for something I can’t fucking figure out. As I think it over she burst out laughing. “Like I said…fucking weird.”. I think I lost somehow, so I do the most logical thing. Change the subject! “Annette, tell me about Leon.”. She lifts her glass to her lips, silencing that annoying chuckle, but her eyes remain on me as she takes a hearty sip…it’s –

“That old man’s advisor.”.

How the hell does that...okay, stay calm. Let me ask in another way. “Why is he so insistent on me marrying that Knight?”.

“Marrying?”.

“What Knight?”.

Kent and Anthony wonder closer.

“Davidson.”.

They seem to know who Annette is referring to. An identical rage fills their features. “What does it mean?”. Seriously these fucking people forget I don’t know any of this shit!

“Your siblings each have backers pushing them to the throne, leaving you as the only 1 still unaffiliated with anyone. Leon is probably trying to prevent one of them from gaining control or -

“He has a backer of his own placed on that Knight.”, Kent says, interrupting Anthony.

“So many moving pieces.”. Paula taps her chin, and I agree with her.

At this point, I think Leon had something to do with Vincent’s death, but I don’t know about the other stuff. Since he wants me to marry Tyler, I don’t think he had anything to do with the fires, but that attack on the royal family confuses things, and if you add the rumors of Dangr on top of all of it...I think Goranous is about to become livelier. I slump against the couch. Good thing I made it to my destination.

“Uncle Kent and Father, an official from the castle just delivered a notice.”..............

We all stare at the young man that just ran into the basement. His eyes immediately fall on Annette and me…. I’ll say this, every time I meet a blood relative, I become aware of that bond.

Anthony sighs, leading us out of the basement. “Let’s go see what it is. We don’t need to hide you from the family.”.

Why do I feel like I jinxed myself again? Anthony leads us to the main floor, where a nice size of the family awaits. All of them have that dark red hair, and...I think that ‘wrong side of the tracks thing’ is genetic, and I’ve somehow skipped it. They’re all muscularly built and at least 6ft and up...minus me. I think I’m barely into 5ft...I hate this body. A few murmurs go around from the sight of Annette, which she ignores, but otherwise, everyone ignores me.

This room is like a massive open foyer. I don’t know about the rest of the house, but this room alone can easily fit 100 people. I would say it’s about 50 of us currently inside. Anthony signals to someone holding some papers by the main entrance to start.

“His Royal Highness issues a royal decree to the Moon family. We know that you are loyal to us, as you’ve proved this in the past. Because of this, we have to call on your aid to deal with a sensitive matter. The Royal Princess has been taken by Queen Annette Moon-Lux against our wishes, thus declaring Queen Annette an enemy of the crown. It’s suspected that she’ll return to the Moon Residence, and if she does, you’re ordered to report her to the royal guards. We know of the strength the Moon Family holds, so if possible, detain her, but your main priority is to get the Royal Princess away from her. Furthermore, any rumors about my death should be disregarded, but report those you deem a danger to our country. This is the end of the decree signed by King Vincent Lux.”.

I’m already on the ground, coughing by the time she reaches the end. Who the fuck do they think they are using Vincent’s name like this?! I’m too fucking unbalanced, making stronger pulses shoot out of me. “This...is...bullshit!”. I gasp for air fighting through the waves. That damned aching is mixing with my anger...no, I’m fucking livid! That trembling returns...great! I don’t know who’s behind this...I never pictured myself being sucked into this...powerless position. Toying with my life for their own selfish reason isn’t something I can just fucking swallow!

Annette’s pressure suddenly falls over the room, pushing everyone flat to the floor.

“…Annette...calm...down!”. Anthony struggles to remain on his knees, but it doesn’t look like he’ll stay up for long.

She doesn’t respond, and her eyes are trained on me. It’s then I notice the pressure...it’s aside from my rage, I’m not hurting as much as I’m used to. Like it’s dull vs. that usual sharp stabbing deep inside my chest…. It’s helping to stabilize me!? I rein in my anger...it took a good few minutes before her force lifts, and sighs of relief go around the room.

I look at Annette. What the hell was that? I’m glad something helped, but what did she do exactly? In the past, I just had to roll with it until it knocked me out or I regained control. Nothing is flowing from Annette, but her eyes have glossed over. She’s fucking thinking again.

“I had no idea she was so strong.”.

I glance at the younger Moon as he climbs to his feet. All those around his age are focused on that, while the older ones focus on what was read. My little attack has thankfully been forgotten...or overlooked for now. A pair of Moons next to me are around my age...why do they look so scared?

“What does all this mean?”.

“What’s going to happen?”.

My anger flares again, but I restrain the hell out of it. Whoever is responsible for this is a dead piece of shit! “My Father is dead, and they tried to fucking kill me but got Ezra. Now they want to kill my Mo...Annette and make me some damn pawn. I’m not a fucking coward! I’ve never run from a fight in my entire life, and I don’t care if I die. I will never do what they ask.”. I get to my feet, locking eyes with Annette, who shares my rage. “And for my Father, whose name they want to use, I’ll kill the piece of shit with my bare hands.”.

The male on my other side dangerously grins at me. “I’ll give you this sickly Princess you got heart.”.

“If the King is truly dead, then this is only a taste of what’s in stored for us. I fear someone meant to ruin our entire family.”. Everyone in the room looks at the older woman, prompting a few beats of silence to pass.

They...seem to catch her meaning...but I don’t see it.

“Do you want us to go?”.

A few tense seconds of hush settle in, and they all look hesitant to answer Annette.

“Regardless if you leave or not doesn’t seem relevant.”.

Anthony nods, agreeing with Kent as he steps up next to him. “They’ll find a reason to bring us down by whatever means.”.

Those words spark another round of murmurs throughout the family. This time they all are focused on the same topic. I picked up a little...well enough to register that this family has many enemies.

“The events the night the King disappeared stumps me.”.

Hush immediately falls as everyone turns to Paula. Annette must have filled them in while I was asleep. The group seems to be waiting for her to elaborate.

“Why?”.

She looks over at me. “Aunt Annette was confined that day, but not by the King. Those Concubines made sure she would have been locked away while the castle was attacked both times.”. Paula turns her eyes on Annette. “I’ll bet they figured she’d just stay put since the attack wasn’t directed at her.”.

I was meant to die that night, and if the second attack didn’t include Annette, I’m absolutely sure the royal family would be dead. Would Annette just have ignored all that fighting? Apparently, she didn’t care that part of the castle was burning.

“Had the Princess not showed up -

“Are you suggesting the Queen would have been blamed?!”, someone yells, interrupting Anthony.

“Not just her.”. Kent gazes around the room, drawing everyone’s eyes. “Our strength rivals that of an army. It wouldn’t be impossible for us to seize the castle within a few minutes.”.

“They were too weak. And even with all those dampers, they still failed.”.

I look at Annette, remembering the little things. One was all they thought they’d need, but the bundle that came in after was meant for her..... How powerful is Annette? “Because you were there.”.


Submitted: September 12, 2022

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