She was ready to take her last breath. Life was meaningless. She has never known what happiness was. She was tired of always being afraid. Death was going to be her peace.

He has waited long enough for her – his mate. She never came, so he replaced his longing for her with hate and anger. He has learned to live without her. He didn need her now. Not after rage has become his fuel.


I don want to be here, and sure as hell don want to see his face. The chronically smug look on his face would irk anyone. On top of that, the business season always irritates the shit out of me. The dragons want to make certain their prince will be safe, the elves on my territory need reminding to keep their boundaries. Lion, the piece of shit of a cousin, keeps badgering me to attack the dragons. The vampires want an alliance, but the council hates them. Now, there is father, requesting a meeting. Few more days of this bullshit, and I am done. I legally have the right to kill anyone who bothers me outside of the season.

”What a pleasure to see you, son. ” Fur, my father, plasters a fake smile on his face.

I hate the man. He spreads his arms wide, as if to welcome me into his temple. The large, marbled building behind my father is muddled by the darkened smoke coming from the pits, covering the shine of the grey stone. It is a magnificent building, but it is the only thing left from his glory days.

”What do you want? ” I bark at him.

Thats as civilized as I can manage to be today. My father just glares at me, unfazed by my approach towards him. He did raise me after all. Well, not really, but he did leave a lasting impression.

”Liont point, I need space for the Elves. ” He gets to the point.

Its always more land. Thats where my fathers fall will be. The elves are resourceful, they are good at finding valuables, but they cannot be trusted. Yet, he continues to buy land for them. A greedy fool can be helped.

By the looks of it, I mustve interrupted his weekly sacrifice into the pit. A few humans are lined up along the cliff ready to be shoved off. My father is a lord in the underworld, not as strong as he used to be, but still a lord, and he makes sacrifices. To who? To Hades? Hades doesn give a shit. When will everyone learn that such traditions are long forgotten?

The idiocy of this situation irritates me even more. I am tempted to slice off the humans heads just to spite him, and leave him to his own issues with those damned elves. The elves are in fact cursed by the old witches to forever be greedy, hence they cannot be trusted.

I am about to tell him to piss off and leave, but a soft wind blows, and it carries the most intoxicating scent. I smell strawberries with a touch of jasmine. What the actual **? What are strawberries and jasmine doing in this dump? Its not the scent itself that is getting to me, its what the scent is doing to my brain. Its making me foggy and mushy – its addicting. I want more of it. I want to be closer to it. This feels like a prank of a witch. Best not be, I am in no mood.

I take in a deep breath to get a hold of my mind, but instead, get my lungs full of that scent. My lungs tighten as I long to find it, to hold it, to have it near me forever. Its coming from the cliff, that is the only the direction the wind will blow from. I walk over to the humans standing about ten feet away from the edge, smoke from the pit below lazily creeps to the top, as I observe them casually. I can let him know whats happening, so I pretend to think over his request.

Liont point is a swap, but I will not be doing business with father this year. Or any year, for that matter. He showed me no mercy or kindness when I fought alone to survive. Everything I have is because I fought for it with my own bare hands.

”Whats your price? ” I ask absent mindedly.

I don care about the price, I want to know where the scent of coming from. I crave it. I am desperate for it. I feel if I leave without the scent, heads will roll.

I walk past the first two humans. They smell putrid, vomit and shit combined. Fear oozes out of them, as some of them shake uncontrollably. They are about to die, so I suppose that is understandable for a human. Disgusting.

Next. No fear, thats interesting. Shes a petite thing, her head is covered in a brown hood, breathing is steady, heart is beating so calmly one could think she was sleeping.

”What do you want? ” My father asks in the distance.

He is getting annoyed I am inspecting his property, but he is restraining his frustration to get what he wants.

I ignore him. Needing to see what is under the hood, I lift it, to find her head bent down and hands calmly held together. Her heartrate has not changed, and her breathing has not escalated. Well, this is frustrating, usually people hear my voice, and they immediately panic. I want to grab her chin firmly to cause her pain as I lift her face to mine, but my body won let me grab as roughly as I wanted to. I force her face up, but she looks away from me, staring somewhere in the distance.

”Look at me, slave, ” I demand.

She looks me directly in the eyes, daring me throw her off the edge. Her eyes are the color of the sky during a clear summer day, beautiful and alluring. Her face is a bit pale, eyes sunken in with black tired circles underneath. Her cheek bones stick a little, as if her hasn eater her whole life. My heart tightens with discomfort at the sight of her in so much misery. Maybe with some food in her she would gain some color. I can tell the color of her hair with the layers of mud in it. She looks terrible, why doesn she smell like it?

A slight spike in her heartrate, but no fear. This is very irritating. Why isn she afraid? I take a breath in, and all I smell is her – strawberries and jasmine. Her smell, her eyes, lack of fear. I am drunk of the bits and pieces of her. In a perfect word, I would love to leave her here to be sacrificed by the idiot of a father, but I can seem to let her go. It is as if thought she had tied a rope around my heart.

”Ill take her. ” I decide. ”And fifty percent of what the elves find. I know how your elves are, ” I state my terms nonchalantly.

I have to force myself to leave her behind, while I talk to my father. I already miss her scent, her eyes, and just her existence.

”That thing? ” My father points to her with an insulting laugh. ”Why? ” He snorts.

His insults infuriate me, but I ball my fists to the point where my claws start to extend into my palms. I take a pained slow breath in an attempt to control myself. I am not going to kill my father today, that would be frowned upon by the council. I may be the strongest of the underworld Lords, but I have no desire for a war.

”I haven had a toy in a while, ” I state casually.

The puny humans heart rate shoots up so fast, I have to turn around to make sure I am hearing things right.

Fuck me! She is running towards the edge of the cliff and without hesitation she jumps into the pit of fire. As soon as I lose sight of her, the strawberries and jasmine disappear, and I find my myself suffocating.

Shit! I let my wings come out and I dive after her.

Luckily the fall from the cliff is long, so I have plenty of time to grab her before the fire consumes her. I, the lord of the largest part of the dark world, have to save a **ing puny little human. My ego is bruised, but for it felt right saving her, as if it is my job to protect her. The hell it is.

I am holding her in my arms, her small body snug against mine, as I turn us back to cliffs, away from the red inferno underneath us. Her scent is driving me into serenity, but my frustration wants to shake her senseless. I want to hurt some beings. I want to punch some things. So much rage, but because of this irresistible scent, I can seem to lay a finger on her. Witchcraft. I will find the witch and I will behead one.

I land in front of my father with a loud thud, placing her next to me, but the girl decides to run for the cliff again. Youve got to be kidding me. I don think so. I grab her by the waist and throw her over my shoulder.

”Let go, ” she sobs as she hits my shoulders with her tiny human fists.

Thats bold considering no one dare lay a hand on me, especially a human. The underworld in no place for a human, but it gives a sense of power to the underworld lords, so they take them as slaves. Now, I am forced to deal with one.

”I will be leaving now, ” I tell my father through gritted teeth.

I am in such frenzy that if I stay here any longer, I might actually kill my father and the humans at the cliff. But killing during the business season is against the law. I may be one of the strongest Lords in the world, but I am not interested in a war.

”Ill – ” he starts.

I don let him finish. Yes, hell send a messenger for the contract. I know.

Ive got bigger problems right now, like this girl and her power over me, than my father and his stupid elves. She continues to brazenly hit me without taking a break. She would rather die than go with me. Might have to cut her hands off for hitting me. I create a travel port to my castle with the fairy stone, the bright blue light shining in front of me, and step through. Having ferries as allies comes with its benefits, such as getting a handy travel port.

The portal arrives in my room at the castle, and I toss her off my shoulder like a sack of potatoes on to the oversized bed. She whimpers in pain in the process, but doesn look up or move anywhere. Good. Stay that way. Somewhere deep in my soul I feel a tinge of guilt for making her cry and whimper, but I have too much rage cursing through my veins to pay attention to that.

Now, I need to let my fuming furry out. My anger issues are never a pretty sight, so I step out of the room, leaving the girl on her own. She could try to leave the room, but no way would she be able to leave the castle.

Fuck! I forgot to tell Alyas she is here. He will eat her if he sees an intruder in the castle. He may be ridiculous at times, but he doesn respond well to uninvited strangers at the castle. Maybe I should let Alyas eat her, that way the problem will be gone. Sky blue eye, strawberries, jasmine…Damn it. I turn around to march back inside. Why does today have to be such a shit day?

Deep breaths, just like buddha recommended. That guy always has everything figured out. Always calm and happy. Fuck that shit. Maybe if Buddha tried punching people to free his soul, he would agree with me. I didn leave a good impression when we crossed paths, but the guy has my respect for having enough people believe in him to become a deity.

I turn the corner of the hallway to my room and my heart about stopped. She is running down the hallway directly at Alyas, who has his teeth are bared. He is ready to attack, but she doesn stop, she runs directly at him. She wants to die, and that sting a small corner of my heart. I want her happy and safe.

I am about to yell at Alyas to stand down, but he bows and nuzzles his head at the puny humans chest, stopping her in her tracks. What is wrong with him? Did the dog go stupid?

”What are you doing? ” I bark at him.

Shes can harm him, but she is a stranger in the castle. Then again, I sometimes forget Alyass tendencies around females. We have been friends for a very long time, and he is not the same person he used to be. Sometimes I miss the old Alyas.

”What? Shes harmless, ” Alyas complains, still in his wolf form.

She turns around at the sound of my voice, terrified. Her eye go wide, her pale face goes completely white, and her chest rises heavy from panic.

”Where are you going to run now, kitten? ” I mock her attempt.

Without saying a word, she starts running towards the large glass window at the end of the hall. Youve got to be kidding me. She is going to jump through the window. I rub my temples in frustration and teleport myself right in front of her. She hits my body hard and tumbles backwards on her ass, handing on the dark hardwood floor.

”Get up, ” I demand impatiently.

She wraps her arms around her legs and tucks her head in, creating a small ball out of herself. Shaking her head vigorously, as she holds herself tight.

Fine, if she wants to do this the hard way, hard way it will be. I peel her arms away and toss her over my shoulder. She starts screaming and hitting me with those tiny human hands of hers. It doesn hurt, but the fact she thinks that does any damage is annoying and insulting.

”Stop squirming. ” I turn to look at her.

Her butt cheeks are right there, next to my face. I am caught off guard at how round they are. They are perfect for me to palm.

She continues her attempts of escaping me to no avail. She unmistakably has a death wish, so I do what seems like would get her attention. I palm both of her ass cheeks in my hands and give them a good squeeze. That felt good, as a jolt of electricity shoots into my groins, making my cock responds by growing slightly. Shit. For how thin and bony she is, her ass sure feels nice. I wonder what would happen if she was healthy and fit. They would jiggle nicely. Hell, where are these thoughts coming from?

”Please don . ” She sobs as her body goes completely limp.

I pass by Alyas with the crying girl still on my shoulder to get a judgmental look from him.

”Im not going to **** her. ” I glare at him.

He clearly doesn approve of my treatment of the human.

She stops sobbing at my words and simply lays still. Her face bounces against my back and arms hang low, as if she is a dead body. Lifeless and motionless.

As soon as I get in my room, I toss her on my bed and stare at her in suspicious contemplation. She looks dirty and disgusting.

”Take a shower. The door across the room. ” I point to the bathroom door behind her.

She stares at me without moving a single muscle, her blue eyes capturing my soul.

”Do you need me to drag you over there as well? ” I am annoyed, both at her unwillingness to listen and the fact that her one look makes my heart ache.

She shakes her head aggressively and bolts to the bathroom door, walking around the white fur rug I have laid out in the middle of the room. I watch her scrawny form, dressed in torn up, oversized hoodie and some old black pants, disappear into the bathroom. Finally, she listens.

”Get her some fresh clothe. ” I mind link Alyas.

”Yes, because we have the same size, ” he responds with sarcasm.

”Just find her some clothes, ” I snap back.

”Fine. Ill go to the market. Meanwhile give her your clothes, ” he retorts.

I know for a fact he is rolling his eyes at me.

”Fine. ” Was my annoyed answer.

I place the plain white shirt and black sweats, I plucked out of the closet on the marble countertop of the bathroom, while she continues to shower. Thick steam covers the whole room, as the hot water runs over her body. I look at the muddled shower door to see the silhouette her body frozen, her heart rate escalated. Shes waiting for me to leave, as if she is still enough, I won notice her.

Sitting on the black covers of the bed again, staring into the floor to ceiling balcony doors, I wreck my brain as to who this human might be, until a knock snaps me out of my thoughts.

”Since when do you knock, Alyas? ” I yell towards the door.

”Since we have a guest. ” He cracks the door open.

The smell of muffins, sausage and eggs attack my nostrils, but nothing can get the strawberries and jasmine out of mind. It has embedded itself into every fiber of my body, into my heart, into my soul. I feel helpless against it. It is infuriating.

”What do you want? ” I snap at him.

I am not upset with him, I am annoyed with the predicament I am in. Alays being the better man, ignores my snappy mood and enters the room with a large smile on his face.

”Food for the girl. ” He walks into the room in his human form, a tray of food in his hands.

I roll my eyes at him. Always the thoughtful one.

”Why is she here? ” He asks the burning question, as he sits on the large chaise placed a few feet away from the bed.

”I don know. I think its the witches are playing a dangerous game. ” I am convinced it is them. ”I will get this curse broken tomorrow and she can jump into the pit all she wants. ” I glare at the bathroom door.

As I say those words, a wave of nausea washes over me. I need her near.

”What curse? ” Alyas asks, a bit perplexed, his green eyes reflecting the light coming in from the balcony.

I have no desire to tell him everything she makes me feel, but this mutt is older than dirt. I call him a mutt out of anger, but realistically, Alyas grandfather was Fenrir. He is no wolf to be messed with. As much as it pains me to admit, he is incredibly wise. But I won be telling him that anytime soon. This **er is overly confident as it is. He knows he is strong and knowledgeable.

”Her scent is intoxicating. Stupid strawberries and jasmine, ” I spit out.

Alyas stares at me as if I have suddenly become slow in the head. I don like his glare. Its like the answer is obvious, but I don see it.

”Wow. And here I thought you still had some brains left, ” he mutters in disbelief.

I pinch the bridge of my nose. I can murder my best friend today, but I just might.

”I have one word for you, ” Alyas starts, and I glare it him. ”Mate, ” he finishes.

My heart stops for a second. Thats not possible. I have been without one for a thousand years. I don need one now, especially not a weak little human.

Mates, a funny thing. We, demon hellhounds usually meet our mates in the first few hundred years of our lives. They are our soulmates, our other half. They make us stronger. At some point I was eager to meet mine. I wanted someone to rule with. I wanted someone to share my power with, but it never happened. I was considered weak, because I wasn as strong as I couldve been with a mate, but I proved them wrong. I didn need her then, I do not need her now.

The door of the bathroom opens, and the girl stands still, my shirt hanging to her mid-highs and the pants look like they could fit three of her in them. The steam from the hot shower seeps out behind her, creating a soft hue around her frail body. Her face is now clean, it is pale, but her cheeks have a pink tinge to it and her eyes don seem as sunken in. Her lips are the color of strawberries, and her hair is so black it reminds me of ravens. She needs food, but she is so perfect.

Fuck me, the mutt is right. It doesn matter. I don need a weak human as a mate, no need to get attached and sentimental.

”Sit. ” I point to the velvet chaise across from me.

She stares at me uncertain, then looks at Alyas and back at me.

”Ive got food, ” Alyas sings with a wide smile.

She looks at the platter of food and then back at me, rooted in her spot.

”Come sit, or I will drag you over. ” I warn her.

She swallows hard and rushes over to the chaise.

”Muffin? ” Alyas has a stupid smile on his face.

Alyass changed perception on life is irritating, to say the least. He used to be just as angry as me, but shit happened and he changed. Good for him. Annoying for me to deal with.

She doesn say anything, but her stomach grows with hunger. She looks down at her hands and shakes her head, saying no to the offered food. Are you kidding me? She is starving, and is she is saying no to food? Is her plan to die from starvation now? I wouldn put it past her at this point.

”Here, Ill unwrap it for you. ” Alyas chirps ignoring her denial. ”Say ah. ” He opens his mouth wide after breaking off a piece of the muffin.

He looks ridiculous. Compared to his huge, muscled body, she looks like a small child. I watch the scenario unamused. She better take that muffin out of his hands and start chewing, but of course she doesn . So, Alyas being the obnoxious giant that he is, lifts her chin with his thumb as gently as he possibly can, squeezes her cheeks to open her mouth and places the piece in her mouth.

”Now chew. ” He makes chewing motions with his mouth, as if he is teaching a small child to eat.

”Name? ” I ask her.

She flinches at my words and looks at Alyas.

”Romana, ” she answers after Alyas gives her a small nod with a smile.

Why is she listening to him?

”Alyas, get out. ” Im done watching him dote over her.

”Be nice. ” He glares at me.

I don bother with an answer. I continue glaring at her after Alyas has left the room, as she holds the muffin in her hands without bothering to eat it. She is scared. Not death, but of something else.

”Keep eating, ” I tell her.

She needs to eat, at least to get rid of the sunken-in eyes.

She slowly eats the muffin without looking up at me. She is terrified of me, she wants nothing to do with me. I feel the same way, or a least used to. Now that I met her, her scent has etched its way into my heart, I can do anything but keep her around. She makes me stronger, I can feel it already, but she is a weak and human. I don need her.

”Do you know what mates are? ” I carefully watch her reaction.

She nods without looking up at me. Why won she look at me?

”You are mine, ” I tell her blankly.

Her face shoots up in terror and she shakes her head vigorously, but all I can focus on is her mesmerizing blues. I am getting lost in them and I don want to escape. But I snap out my trance when she gets up and books it for the balcony doors. Not again, this is getting old. I wrap my arms around her waist before she makes it halfway across the room and hold her tight to my body. In the process I inhale deep and her scent hits me full force, her warmth attacking every cell of my body. It feels right holding her like this. She belongs with me. I realize a terrifying thought. If I could no longer look into her eyes, feel her, touch her, smell her, know she is alright, I would go mad.

Fuck me.

”Stop doing that, ” I whisper into her ear, and she goes still, her breathing heavy. ”I am not planning on hurting you, which you don seem to be afraid of. I am not going to **** you, I have plenty of women who would love to sleep with me willingly, ” I add, and she relaxes in my arms – alright, I guess thats her biggest fear. ”Now, if you try killing yourself again, there will be punishment, do you understand? ” I wait for her to answer.

She nods and I slowly let her out of my arms. She jumps out and I already miss her closeness. I am royally **ed.

”You get to stay until I decide what to do with you, ” I tell her.

She nods in return.

”I will be gone all day tomorrow. Alyas will be here to babysit you, don do anything stupid. Do you understand? ” I clarify.

She nods again.

I wish I was strong enough to have her sleep in her own room, but as pathetic as it sounds, I need her proximity. If don have her close, I won sleep all night and the meeting tomorrow will be a shitshow.

”Because we are mates, you will sleep with me. ” I decide.

Her eyes go wide with terror again. Her heart is beating so wildly, it is slightly concerning. I half expect her to start running again, but stays rooted in her spot.

”I told you, I will not be forcing you to have sex with me, ” I remind her as I release a long frustrated sigh.

She nods, but her heart is still hammering. Honestly, most women would go out their way to have sex with me, why isn she interested?

”You can wonder about the castle and do what you want otherwise. ” I continue to watch her face, as if memorizing every part of it.

She nods again without saying a word. Not such for words, is she?

”Alyas, show her around. ” I mind link Alyas.

I leave the woman alone in my room to deal with my anger issues. Yes, it is a problem. I am aware.

”Of course. ” He chirps a bit too joyfully for my liking.

Fucking mutt and his joyful perspective on life.

I try taking a few deep breaths, but it doesn seem to be helping. Fuck it, chaos it is. I let my rage free, by smashing everything surrounding me. Courtesy of the hellhound gene, and then burn everything in the gym to dust. Courtesy of the demon gene. Ash floats around the room like snowflakes around the now empty room, with some metal bars sticking out here and there. Not a pretty sight, but this happens frequently enough where I will have everything replaced by tomorrow evening. Much better. Now I can take a few deep breaths to collect myself. Eris was right, chaos feels good. It feels satisfying.

I recognize the emotional issues I have. But these issues, have gotten me this far. One does not become the strongest Lord by being kind and friendly. Frankly, anger tends to eat away at a soul. Anger makes one forget of better things in life. Anger isolates.

I close my eyes, attempting to think of what to do with the girl. She is human and weak, which makes her a liability. If someone were to find out I have a mate, everyone would try to kill her to weaken me. If I were to get rid of her, I would go mad, so the most logical thing to do is just to keep her around and maybe isolate her from the world in my castle. But if I keep her around, she might try to escape or kill herself again, she isn exactly fond of me.

I try to think of a reasonable plan, but my thoughts betray me and wonder off to her alluring eyes, her pale skin with that soft tinge of pink on her cheek, her raven black hair laying to her hips. And then my mind goes to the feel of her ass on my palms. After that I lose any common sense because I start imagining what it would feel like to train kisses from her lips down to her neck, what it would feel like to run my fingers against her bare skin… this is problem.

If I focus on the meetings for tomorrow, I won have to think about her, so thats what I do. I head into my office and I put my energy into work. At this point it is late, so she is probably sleeping. Let me rephrase that, I hope she is sleeping. I don have the energy to deal with her fear and her constant need to fight me.

”Mia, I sent you some emails, make sure everything is set up for tomorrow, ” I tell Mia over the phone, as I walk out of my office.

Alyas is leaning against the wall. The giant looks like a creepy statue, looming, waiting to crush your soul.

”So, shes sleeping in your room? ” Alyas smirks at me.

I rub my face to refrain from punching that smug look off his face. Maybe I should. Another way to let my anger out. I can hurt him that much, he is just as strong as me, if not stronger.

”Yes. ” Is my short response. I am not falling into his traps.

”Shes sweet, you know. You could be a bit nicer. ” He follows me down the hall, that is dark by now, just a few lights on the wall turned on.

”Im sure she is sweet, Alyas. But she is a weak human, she is a liability. What would happen if someone found out my mate is a weak little human? They would kill her easily to ruin me, ” I explain the inconvenience she is.

”She makes you stronger. Are you telling me you, Lord Lucian, can protect his own mate? ” He mocks me.

The bastard knows how to push my buttons. That is what I get for being friends with him for so long. Damn the wolf and his wisdom. Why can my anger and annoyance be justified. Yes, I can protect her, but I waited for a millennium.

”It took her a thousand years, ” I grit through my teeth, as irritation and resentment boil over.

I have learned to live without her. I have accepted her absence. Why now?

”Yes, and thats her fault, ” Alyas responds with sarcasm. ”Shes been alive for barely twenty years. ” He points out.

”Shes nineteen? ” For some reason her age surprises me.

”She turned twenty yesterday. ” There is sadness in his voice.

I suddenly feel guilty. Shes so young, with such a strong desire to die. What happened to her to want to die so badly? I want the ones who failed her so terribly to hurt.

”Fine. Ill try to be nicer, ” I grumble.

The truth is, I don know how to be nice to her. Where do I start? She hates me. She probably knows my reputation and wants nothing to do with me. Fate is cruel, isn it? I wait a thousand years for her, and she turns out to despise me. I didn help the case, but still. Wouldn it be easier to hate her as well?

I open the door to my room and I am greeted by her sweet scent, sucking away the anger, rage, annoyance, hate. I look at the bed excepting to see her small body tucked under the sheets, but the bed is untouched and empty. Panic starts to settle as I frantically look for her around the room. She better not have jumped out of the balcony. I look towards the balcony for my eyes to stop at the loveseat-couch next to the balcony, her body curled up like a small kitten, probably cold without a blanket. I breathe out in relieve.

I take a moment to be a creep and watch her face. She looks so peaceful and perfect. I run my finger against her face and move a strand of her raven hair out of the way, but she tucks her knees closer into herself. Shes cold, so I slide my arms under her and scoop her into my arms. I expect her wake up and start screaming, but instead she mumbles something incoherent and nuzzles her nose into my chest.

Now that she is not kicking and screaming in my arms, I can feel the warmth of her proximity. I can feel her curves and the softness of her skin. She weighs nothing and that worries me a little bit, but food can fix this problem in no time, as long as she stops refusing to eat.

”Sleep tight, kitten, ” I whisper.

I place her on the bed and cover her with a blanket. I want to kiss her strawberry lips. They are calling my name, but if I do that, I am afraid I will want more.

I am **ed.

”Mama! ” I hear a piecing scream. ”Mama, don go! ” Another scream echoes through the room.

I open my eyes, startled, ready to kill at sight only to be met by a thrashing Romana. She is screaming in her sleep, her face tear stained.

”Mama, papa, please don leave me! ” She begs in her sleep.

Her voice is broken, as tears pour out of her closed eyes. What am I supposed to do to make her stop? Her pained screams make me want to hold her until everything is okay. I never had the urge to comfort a crying woman until now, so I do know how do to this right.

”Shh… its okay. ” I try scooting closer to her.

”Mama, please! ” She sobs even louder, begging.

I can feel her agony and despair, as her face contorts, tears staining that beautiful face of hers. This might make it worse, but I grab her flailing arms, wrap my own around her, and hold her tight.

”Its okay, kitten. No one is leaving you, ” I whisper into her ear. ”No one will ever leave you. ” I hold her tightly in my arms.

In that moment I realize, I was making that promise to myself. I can leave her, no matter what. I can let her go, no matter how hard she tries to leave. She is mine. She can hate me, but with me, in my castle, she can live comfortably. She will be safe. I realize I am an angry asshole, but at least she will be safe. And maybe, I will be able to let go of my anger to love her.

”Its okay, ” I repeat.

She slumps into my body, pressing herself closer, as if to make sure I don go anywhere.

”Don leave me, ” she whispers.

Her breathing evens out as he leans into me, and I inhale her scent letting it become a part of me.

”I won . ” I close my eyes and hold her tight, letting her know she is safe. No one is leaving her, especially not me.

So much for me keeping my distance and getting rid of her. Stupid mate bond has me wrapped around her finger. I am helpless around her. She is my weakness and my strength. I keep holding her until her sobbing disappears, her breathing becomes even, as her arms lazily hang on my shoulders.

This is what serenity feels like.


I am simply tired of always being afraid. I am tired of feeling worthless. I am tired of being beaten. I want it to be over. I want to fall asleep forever. It would be amazing to finally be at peace. Nothing can hurt me if I am dead. Someday I will have my peace.

”Did you sleep well, princess? ” Alyas asks me, as I walk down the very long and curved flight of stairs.

This castle is so grand and beautiful, with intrigued art and specious rooms. A mixture of the old and modern interior designing. It feels strange walking around and having to do any work or have to hide at the sight of any Royal.

It is early in the morning and I am still wearing Lord Lucians shirt and sweatpants. I look silly in the oversized clothing, but at least they are clean, so I can complain too much. I haven had clean clothe for as long as I can remember.

Alyas keeps calling me princess and I don know how to respond to that. I am the furthest thing from a princess. I am nothing, less than nothing. So, I lightly smile, but the oversized man, with well-defined muscles, smiles even more. His blue eyes sparkle with life, as his short blonde waves accentuate his tan. Where one gets a tan in the underworld, I don know.

He has been kind and doting ever since Lord Lucian dragged me here. No one has ever been this kind to me. I don understand why he is so nice, but I am happy to accept such treatment. I haven had much of it.

”So, how was your sleep? ” he asks again.

That larger-than-life smile is still on his face. It is eerie to see a man his size have such a joyful persona.

”Well, thank you, Alyas. ” I attempt to smile back at him.

For as long as I remember, I was not allowed to smile, or speak for that matter. All my life the only thing I have known was hate and disgust. I am tired of living like this.

”Lucian is out until later today, so we can go to the market, buy you some clothes, and maybe some ingredients for a cake to celebrate your birthday? ” He rambles off a plan.

Thats why Lord Lucian wasn there when I woke up, he only left a note saying, e good. By telling me to be good, he means not to try to hurt myself or run away, I assume. I have thought about it before going to sleep, but it seems to be difficult to escape him. But if he will be gone for the day, maybe I can try again. Especially if we are out in a market, Im sure it will be easy to step in front of a moving vehicle. Just one step.

”Unless you want something else for your birthday? ” He waits for me to pitch in an idea.

I never celebrated my birthday before, even when mama and papa were around. Cinnamon rolls always sounded so good. Sometimes I dream about them, but a cake is fine as well, so I stay silent. This will be my first birthday celebration, I don want to spoil it by being ungrateful. Plus, it doesn matter. I am planning on leaving anyways. The land of the dead awaits me, it has for a very long time now.

”Romana, you can have anything you want. ” He dramatically spreads his arms.

Anything? I am skeptical of such kindness, but it is so easy to believe him. His smile will make any worry disappear.

”Cinnamon rolls, ” I whisper, and I hold my breath, afraid I mightve ruined my opportunity with cake.

”Ooh! ” he exclaims with excitement. ”Do you have a recipe? ” he asks. ”Because apparently my recipe is disgusting. ” Theres defeat in his voice.

Alyas sees my discomfort and awkwardness, but he ignores it. Instead, he pretends we were friends chatting. I like that about him, he treats me as his equal. He doesn growl at me or boss me around. He simply talks to me. No one has ever done that before.

I nod. I used to bake them everyday, and they smelled so heavenly, but I was not allowed to taste them. It was a punishment for being clumsy.

”Awesome! ” He pumps his arms in the air ready to go.

I smile at his enthusiasm. What a strange man he is. Such an old werewolf, but yet, always so happy. I wish to be as happy as him. I wish to have reason to be happy as him.

”Now, lets go have fun, ” he sings enthusiastically.

I nod in response. I don want to speak out of turn, but he looks at me quizzically. Did I do something wrong? I mustve, there is reason why I was not allowed to speak.

”I know that Lucian is bit of an asshole, but don be afraid to say what you want, do what you want, to feel how you want. If you want to tell him to go take a hike, then do so. In fact, I will pay you money to do that. ” He watches me carefully. ”My point is, you are free to do as you wish. He may stomp around all angry. He has his issues, but he would never hurt you. ” he explains.

I would like to believe Alyas. I really want to, but it is not as easy as one might think after all these years of suffering. How do I accept freedom when all I have known is betrayal and pain? How do I make myself believe I can be happy when my own parents sold me into the underworld? When all my life I have been beaten, starved, told I am ugly and worthless. And now, the universe has granted me a mate, uncommon for a human, but he despises me. Just like everyone else, Lord Lucian hates me. I see people smile and I wonder why. What do they feel when their lips curl into a smile?

I am free. I am free. I am free. If I remind myself enough, will I finally believe it? I could start by trusting Alyas. If it turns out my freedom is a lie, I have already come to terms with death. Maybe just for today I can believe in this illusion of freedom.

I am free. Maybe there is hope for me yet. Maybe I can learn to live. That is such a small chance, that it is non-existent.

”How much would you pay me? ” I try my voice. It feels strange, to speak openly. Freeing.

”Thats the spirit. ” He bursts out laughing.

I smile in return, that felt good. I am free. I am free. I have to believe that. It maybe a mistake, trusting so easy, but what do I have to lose? Just for today. Just a few hours. Until I find a way to my peace.

”No, I am not paying that. ” Alyas haggles with a creature I am not familiar with.

Brown skin tone, smooth and perfect, but the eyes that are completely purple. If it wasn him hissing at me, I would think he is fascinatingly pretty, but the creature continues to hiss at me while Alyas is trying to get a better price for the cinnamon. I take a step away to look at something else. I don want any trouble.

The thought of running away has crossed my mind, but the note said to be good, reminding me of punishments. I had enough of punishments. I am tired of being afraid. Even though Alyas says Lucian won hurt me, I am still terrified of him.

Every time he sees me, he either growls or glares at me. Even though he is utterly handsome – dark brown eyes, black hair, wide shoulders, tall, and the olive skin tone I would kill for, he is still incredibly intimidating. He said we are mates, but he won even bother looking at me, he thinks I am ugly and thin. My ribs do stick out a bit too much, but its not my fault I wasn allowed to eat. My eyes are also a sunken in, and my hair are plain black. Nothing special about me.

So, running away isn really an option, unless I had an exceptionally well thought out plan, which I don . Instead, I chose to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, while I can. Which at the moment involves looking at a random stand with necklaces and bracelets. Not that I would ever dream of buying one, but that creature hissing at me is unsettling.

A flashing movement catches my attention and I turn to look at a man in red pants and sweater, throwing swords, moving them smoothly, as if fighting an imaginary enemy. I stare and wonder if I should just step in front of him. His sword would go smoothly through my abdomen, blood would pool out of me quickly, my body would drop to the ground, and everything would fade away. Now, that would be freedom guaranteed. I like that idea. Lord Lucian is not here to stop me.

”Hello. ” A voice startles me out of my thoughts.

”Hello, ” I respond cautiously.

Others acknowledging me is still a new concept. I am used to being invisible.

”Can I interest you in something? ” A green elf asks me.

The elfs smile grows, as his yellow eyes stare at me intently. I don like his stare, it feels deceiving. Hoping he could save me from the elf, I look at Alyas, but he is still in a heated conversation with the creature.

”No. ” I try to give him a polite smile, but his stare is making me uncomfortable.

”How about a sample of perfume? ” He insists, still staring, as if I have something he wants. Creepy.

”Alright. ” I agree, even though there are no perfume on the display stands.

I have this inkling feeling I shouldn trust him, but I brush it off. Maybe there are creatures out there just as kind as Alyas.

”Ill be right back. ” He hustles off into his tent, his short frame wobbling, as he does so.

I should go back to Alyas, but he is still arguing. How hard is it to bargain for cinnamon? I never bought anything so I wouldn know, but still.

”Here we are. ” The elf huffs out of breath.

He opens the bottle and places a few drops on my wrist. It smells like almonds, it is a pleasant smell, but I feel a light tug in my chest as soon at it hits my skin.

”Opomi dou, ” he whispers while looking down at my wrist and I look at him confused. ”A charm for good luck, ” he answers to my puzzled look with light smile. It wasn a kind smile, like Alyass, it was almost deceiving.

”Thank you. ” I try to smile back, but it feels awkward and forced, as the suspicion won leave my mind.

”No talking the elves. ” Alyas gently tugs me away from the stand, as he snarls at the green, little man.

”Why not? ” I ask.

The strange little man was unsettling to talk to, but he seems harmless. What can he possibly do to me? The cinnamon was the last thing on the list, so we start heading back. I steal a glance of the man in red, still throwing his swords, the blades creating a mesmerizing shimmer against the sunlight. It wouldve been such a swift end.

”Greedy bastards, ” he growls from the distance at the elf I was talking to. ”Did you have a fun day, princess? ” He changes the subject with a playful smile.

”Why do you call me a princess? ” I have to ask, I have been no one for so long.

”Because you are. ” He winks at me playfully.

His easy-going spirit make me feel safe and comfortable. For the first time in my life, I feel as if I am a real person with at least a speck of value.

”I had a wonderful day. ” I return his wide smile.

A smile this wide on my face feels foreign, but it makes my heart swell with warmth. It is a pleasant feeling, to smile, and mean it.

”I told him we would have so much fun you won try to run away or harm yourself, ” he says with pride. He genuinely seems satisfied with himself, drawing me to trust him more.

”Well, I thought about it, but it is his land, he would find me in five minutes. I may be no one, but I am not stupid, ” I tell him half of the truth.

”So, its not because you had a great day? ” His feelings seem so hurt that strings of guilt tug at my heart.

”Since I am being honest… ” I start. This will be painful to admit. ”This has been the best day of my life so far. ” And I meant those words.

I have clean clothes, I ate, I wasn yelled at or beaten, I slept on a comfortable bed, even though started on the couch. Alyas stops in his tracks, so start to panic a bit. Was I too honest? Shouldve I just stayed quiet?

”Well, more to come then. ” He recovers from his shock and smiles at me.

I let out a breath of relief.

I never thought about finding happiness or freedom. I always looked for a permanent way out, but now that I have only spent one day with Alyas at the castle, I see a glimpse of something beautiful that can happen in my life. That is, if Lord Lucian doesn kill me first.


My father is talking again, as this meeting continues to drag on and on, but my mind wonders off to her. The soft pink on her cheeks. Her plump lips. The curve of her hips. Her raven hair spread like a black sea behind her.

I woke up this morning to her curled up next to me. Her arm was splayed across my abdomen, her cheek smooshed against my chest, her mouth slightly opened as she lightly snored. I couldn get enough.

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