The Kingdom of Archer Book I: Bloom

By J.Rose All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Scifi

Her Choice

(Lyric)
The room remained as it had been for the last couple of minutes, dead silent. Had a needle been dropped, there would have been a sound equivalent to a bomb exploding.
*Bump, Ba-Bump, Bump*
Parker or Maxwell? Bad or Evil? Fear or Terror?
I couldn’t look at them. Not Parker or Maxwell. I was too afraid to look in their eyes. I needed to make a choice. I needed to pick someone that I could live with, someone I could be comfortable with. But right now, right this moment, I was too afraid.
“Lyric,” Councilmen Green called out to me. Snapping me out of my thoughts.
“Your decision,” He said.
*Bump, Ba-Bump, Bump*
“Make a decision. Now!” My mind screamed feeling my heart race and adrenaline running through my veins, my body felt so cold.
“Lyric your-”
“Parker,” I say; interrupting Councilmen Green.
“Parker,” I say again afraid that I had not been heard. At the same time, my answer taking me off guard. I don’t have time to process what I’ve said because the minute that name escapes my lips a loud screech is heard cutting the silence like a knife.
The screech terrifies me almost bringing me to my knees with fear. I know that screech, I know that it’s Maxwell.
His eyes are blazing red with rage. His mouth almost foaming. I can see it in his eyes. He’s going to kill me. A loud growl is heard as Maxwell is ready to attack only to be knocked away by a large brown wolf… Parker.
“I’ll kill you! She’s mine Archer!” Maxwell says. His voice in my head low and angry-making a gasp escapes my lips. My hands instinctively going to cover my ears.
“She chose me Cray! Back off! Or I’ll kill you!” Parker growled out.
“Kill…”
Those words ring in my head. I’d never seen Parker so angry. They were going to kill each other, and I was the cause of this. Had I not been put in the middle of all this, maybe things would have been different. I was the person in between two kingdoms that was causing chaos.
“Lyric, stay behind me,” Parker spoke his words startling me awake from my thoughts.
“Don’t do this please,” I want to beg both of them.
Growls and hisses are heard before they engage in a fight. It’s all a blur, their fighting. Paws flinging here and there, growls of anger, hisses of rage. My heart is clenching as I see what I’ve caused. A howl of pain sounds off like a bullet ricocheting into my heart when Parker cries out in pain. I don’t notice that I’ve moved forward until I’m pulled back by King Thomas.
“He said to stay back. He’ll be fine,” King Thomas says though there is concern in both his voice and eyes.
“Parker,” I want to call out.
“Enough!” Councilmen Green shouts his voice firm as he stands up from his place calmly. At the councilmen’s voice, Nova guards immediately run into the large room. Bobcats, panthers, jaguars, all hissing and circling around Parker and Maxwell.
“Retreat. Now. Both of you or I will be forced to use our power,” Councilmen Green threatened though his voice was calm and composed.
Growling but not turning his back to Maxwell, Parker slowly retreated and somehow I felt relief when he came back to me. Though he growled out his eyes ferocious as he looked at Maxwell, Parker moved closer to me, nuzzling his head to mine. The feeling only confusing me more. A hiss or rage is immediately heard from Maxwell only making me pull myself closer to Parker out of fear. Maxwell’s red eyes turning to look at me with hate and rage.
“You cannot choose him! I will not let you go with him!” Maxwell hissed out.
“She’s made her choice Cray” Parker growled back at him.
“She has no choice!” Maxwell hissed out, his words filled with rage and hate.
For a second my mind instinctively flashed back to that place. The Fire. My right shoulder burning; that feeling fresh in my mind taking me back there. My father standing before me ready to kill me.
“She has a choice, and she’s made it!” Parker spoke his voice breaking me free of my trance once more.
“I will not stand for this!” King Charles spoke his tone outraged.
“The girl is coming with us,” He hissed out, emitting an angry growl from Parker.
“She’s made her choice Charles. And that choice was not your son, but mine,” King Thomas spoke calmly.
“Enough,” Councilmen Green spoke up.
“The girl has made her choice,” He said his eyes landing on me, and I could see something flicker in them… Understanding.
“And we will respect it. King Thomas, Prince Parker,” Councilmen Green began turning to look at them.
“You may leave with her now. Though I hope this is a choice you can live with,” Councilmen Green spoke, his gaze directed toward me once more.
“Me too,” I think to myself.
“You are going to regret this,” Maxwell hisses out angrily, his gaze not leaving mine making my breath lack. I can feel my knees wanting to give out, the only thing keeping me steady is Parker who I’m clinging onto as we watch Maxwell and his father leave.
“We should go,” King Thomas says before he turns to the council.
“Thank you,” He says quietly, only receiving a nod of approval.
My legs seemed to stay glued to the floor. It wasn’t until I felt Parker give me a soft nudge, still in his Nova form, that my feet began to move. He stayed like that, in Nova form until we reached the car. His eyes shifting from side to side and his posture rigid. Shifting back to his human form only when he was sure Maxwell was gone. Parker’s eyes seemed to be expressing so much too fast that I could not seem to read him. Then again, I never could. Maybe it was my own fear that did not allow me to read him clearly. Still, I could not look at him at the moment. Not now when I knew what I had done. Getting into the car while King Thomas handed Parker new clothes I couldn’t help but feel guilt weighing me down like a ton of bricks. I’d caused all of this. Maxwell’s words resonating in my mind.
“You are going to regret this!”
And I knew he meant it…
Hearing the car door open Parker came in sitting next to me though my eyes remained glued to the window outside. Slowly the car began to move and with the silence from King Thomas and Parker, my thoughts began to drift.
I’d forced him… Parker… I had made myself permanently stuck to him knowing full well he did not like me. I knew he did not love me, much less care about me. Even so, he had fought for me. Even if there was no need to do so. He could have retreated. He could have handed me off to Maxwell Cray without a second thought, but he didn’t… Why?… And then… there was me.
Why had I chosen him?... Even after so long, even after what happened between us so many years ago I was not afraid of him. Not the way Maxwell Cray made me shake with terror. Maxwell was too much like my own father. I knew if I had chosen him I would somehow find myself back in that basement, in that fire, with no Parker to save me… Parker. His eyes… confusing, much like his actions have always been. There was fear yes, but the kind that I could only explain as being disarmed. All the flaws, the bad, the ugly. Every single thing that was wrong with me he knew about. My past, my pain, everything. That scared me. I’ve always done a good job at hiding who I was. I’d always known how to hide how I felt, and yet, Parker Archer could see past all that and understand it. With him I never feared for my safety or that he would harm me.
Though his words back then, five years ago had hurt me far more than I would like to admit to myself, there had been no real malice in his words. That part I could never understand. Had he meant what he had said back then? Had he not? There was so much confusion regarding him, Parker. I was only sure of one thing. I do not nor have I ever been truly afraid of Parker Archer.
***
The next few days back to Archer were a blur. I found myself moving when and if we ever did stop though my memory is completely blank as to what I said or did. My mind had shut itself down from anything else that did not include the previous days. It seemed like seconds had only passed as I stood in front of the council. Then again time had stood still for me because I had solidified my own fate alongside Parker and had sealed my death with Maxwell.
“Lyric.”
Hearing my name caused me to jump having been deep within myself concentrating only on my thoughts.
“We’re back at the castle,” Parker says, his voice soft and calm, almost comforting. Without a word, finding myself unable to speak to him I exit the car and head inside the castle with him and King Thomas, who is walking ahead of us. As soon as we enter the living room, I can see Spencer and Crystal. Relief in both their eyes and though I can see Crystal and Spencer both wanting to ask questions Parker speaks up.
“Father can explain. I’d like to speak with Lyric alone,” Parker says, his words making me tense.
“I. Sure,” Crystal speaks up but I can feel my heart plummet at his words. Talk? Was this where he would tell me to leave? Make me go away? Would he yell at me with anger for choosing him?
He doesn’t say anything more to them. Instead, takes my hand and leads me upstairs to what should be our room. Closing the door behind us he simply let go of my hand and I found myself moving toward the large desk; while he himself drifted to the window to look out at the courtyard. It’s dead quiet once more. For what seems like hours. All I could do was wait. Wait until he exploded and yelled while looking down at my hands fidgeting nervously.
“Lyric,” He spoke. His voice only making my nerves increase.
“I’m sorry,” I heard myself say my heart racing. Still, I could not bring myself to look up at him.
“You didn’t have to fight for me,” I heard myself saying. At my words, he remained quiet and I could no longer speak. For what felt like hours, but was only minutes, we remained in silence until Parker spoke up.


“Lyric look at me,” He began. His voice soft as he reached his hand up to my chin in order for me to look at him. His eyes connecting with mine. His expression something that I could not recognize. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. Everything from today and from so many years ago flooding up to resurface.
“Why?” I questioned him.
“You don’t care about me. So why help me? Why save me when you could have just let me die or let me be taken by Maxwell?” I asked feeling myself break down in tears. It was the first time I had ever let myself cry in front of him. The first time I had willingly let him see the weakest and most fragile part of myself.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” He spoke up and for the first time, I could hear the pain in his voice.
“What I did. What I said to you all those years ago. I was wrong. If I could take it back, I would. Because I didn’t mean what I said back then. I never did,” He said. His words sinking into my head slowly though I couldn’t look at him. Not while I was still crying.
“I. I was an idiot who didn’t know how to react to what you made me feel, and when I realized who you were the damage had been done. I. I know I can’t take it back,” He spoke.
“What I made him feel?” I thought to myself. His words making me confused as to what that was. Reaching his hand for mine he pulled me away from my thoughts making me finally look up at him. His eyes were filled with pain and unshed tears.
Why? ... Why was this his reaction? I couldn’t understand him. His words almost felt unreal.
“But I want to make it up to you,” He says, his voice calm.
“Why?” I want to ask and somehow he seemed to understand because he then spoke. His next words paralyzing me.
“I love you.”
“I love you and I know you don’t feel that way. Maybe you never will. And I know it’s my fault,” He says looking down unable to meet my eyes.
“I promised myself that I would respect your decision. If you chose him. Then… Then I’d let you go,” He says. His words linger between us. His eyes are filled with so much grief as he looks at me once again. His expression is of someone who he had lost something, a part of himself, maybe something more. I could see the pain in his eyes so clearly at the moment only making me want to look away unable to withstand that look in his eyes. My own chest tightening the pain in his eyes familiar to me.
“I know you’re afraid of me. I know you hate me, and I know I don’t deserve you. But all I’m asking for is a chance Lyric… A chance with you…” He says. His gaze penetrating my own. Though I’ve heard everything he’s said to me my mind drew a blank. I could not comprehend what he had declared. I felt so confused, there were so many contradicting thoughts running through my head. I felt a twister of questions and jumbled emotions rise within me. I couldn’t phrase words much less a sentence to answer something that I could not yet comprehend.
“I don’t expect you to answer now. I just hope you consider it,” He says. Letting go of my hand Parker silently leaves, closing the door behind him, leaving me to linger in the quiet of the night. His words resonating in my head.
“I Love you.”


(Parker)
There was such a calm at the moment. The way things usually are before a storm. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else but her. Lyric. What would her decision be? Would there really be a decision to make?… The worst thing she could do for herself would be to choose him. Then again, maybe being with him would give her some sort of peace. I could be wrong about him, but I knew I couldn’t be. Maxwell Cray was as despicable as his King and father. King Charles Cray.
“Parker.”
Turning to face the voice that was calling for me I saw Brad’s mate Jane. Her eyes showing disdain and hatred though whether that was because of who I was to Lyric or because I was friends with Brad I really couldn’t tell.;
Her eyes were fierce, somehow reminding me of Crystal when she was angry, and her mouth was pressed into a thin line while she looked at me.
“Brad’s waiting for you downstairs,” I tell her, but she doesn’t respond and only turns to walk down the hall. Jane’s rather tall, though she should be, seeing as Brad is a good six feet tall. She doesn’t move from where she’s standing on the stairs. Her shoulders are tense while she clutches the stair rail tightly. She doesn’t speak nor does she move from her place. Instead, she shakes her head slowly before she turns to look at me, her eyes blazing with rage.
“No. This isn’t right,” Jane speaks walking back towards me almost stomping and reminding me of a child.
“You and Brad are both the same. You’re selfish and you don’t care about what we think? If we hurt? Or if what you do is going to cause us pain?” She says before silence overcomes her.
I could see her facade crumble, the anger evaporating from her eyes and only leaving hurt and tears.
“She doesn’t have a choice here does she?” Jane whispers, her tone melancholic. It takes me a while to realize Jane is no longer talking about her own feelings but of Lyrics’.
“She has a choice,” I hear myself say, and the girl scoffs, her eyes once again filled with hate.
“Not very good ones. This isn’t about good or bad. This is about bad or worse. They’re both not good options. You’re not a good option!” Jane snaps in anger. Her words don’t make me mad and they don’t offend me because I know she’s right.
“She should have been mated to someone else. Someone who does love her like-”
She doesn’t finish whatever she wants to say instead, Jane shakes her head once again.
“People like you and Brad don’t deserve soulmates,” Jane says walking away from her, words still lingering in my head.
“Maybe I don’t deserve her. But I already love her.”
***
We’re all waiting for Lyric to come downstairs now. No one says a word, an air of worry and melancholy that stiffen the room leaving no room to breathe fills the room. Everyone knows there’s a high chance I might lose her today. Father is the only one who seems relaxed, the expression on his face calm. Soft footsteps are heard before Lyric is downstairs. When I take her in, there is a second where I forget to breathe. Every single time. Even five years ago. This had always been my reaction. Just like that the house is gone and we’re in that school hallway. I find myself not wanting to look but my heart already knows she’s coming.
*Bump Ba-bump, Bump*
I have the urge to fidget, to fix my jacket and look at her. Only this time; when she stands next to me, I can see her eyes. Her face has changed and once again. I’m reminded of today and where we are going.
“Parker,” Crystal speaks her voice interrupting my thoughts. She grabs a hold of Lyric first hugging her tightly her blue eyes lingering with worry
“Do what you think is best for you,” She whispers to her, for just a second my eyes and Lyrics’ meet before she turns away.
“Be safe. Both of you,” Crystal says taking Lyrics’ hand and lacing it around my arm. She doesn’t say anything and neither do I, nor does she pull away. Instead, Lyric allows this small contact and I feel my own heart race, not only for love but with worry.
“We should go,” My father speaks up and all I can do is follow him out with Lyric to the car.
***
The ride there is quiet. No one says a word as we travel for the next few days. I can see Lyric looking out the window her face emotionless. At times I can see flickers of fear in her eyes and just like that they’re gone, replaced with that void expression once again. Over and over this cycle continues until finally, we arrive. I know that she’s just as afraid as I am because her hands don’t stop shaking while she clutches them tightly on her lap. I want to hold her hand, to try to ease some tension but I know not to. Because I know she wouldn’t want me to touch her, much less comfort her.
“We’re here,” Our driver announces.
The gates are large, extended for miles and miles and the building seems to be taller than both Kingdoms castles. Neutral ground. This was supposed to be where things would be worked out fairly. But I found myself questioning how fair this would actually be.
So many things were running through my head but I realized that there was nothing I could. All I had left was to hope that the council somehow decided she was better staying with me than with Cray.
“Trust the council. Whatever decision they make should be the right one for all three of you,” My father says but I could see uncertainty in his eyes and so could Lyric.
The creaking of the large gates was heard and I could see fear flickering in Lyrics eyes once again, her hands tightly clasped together shaking.
She walks behind us trying to hide her own emotions and there was nothing that I wanted to do more than to take hold of her. Still, I complied with what I knew she wanted and kept to myself. In the distance, I could see a Nova guard standing in front of the large door. His face showing no emotion as he simply bowed.
“Wait here,” He spoke his voice firm but polite as he entered the large doors closing them behind him.
“Parker,” My father spoke up motioning to Lyric who was a few paces away lost in her own thoughts.
I could see the terror in her eyes and I knew that she was afraid. Whether she was aware of how much she was shaking I wasn’t sure, but I knew I wanted her to be okay.
“Don’t be scared,” I spoke to her. Her eyes looking up at me in question.
“Nothing is going to happen to you,” I managed to say but then I saw it. The terror in her eyes. Her body tensing. Though the shaking had stopped her eyes portrayed horror. Instincts kicking in I didn’t have to turn around to know who was approaching. Only confirming what I already knew when he spoke.
“I’m glad to see you brought her Archer. I was starting to think you’d keep her away from me again and I’d have to go into your Kingdom to get her back.” Maxwell spoke. Based on his tone I knew he was trying to get a rise out of me. However, I realized doing so would only push the council to hand Lyric over to him and I wasn’t going to allow him to take her from me.
Watching Lyric from the corner of my eye I could see her hands begin to shake once again at the way Maxwell was staring at her.
“Don’t let him see you like this,” I thought to myself taking her hand and giving it a squeeze to try to calm her down.
“Cray,” I spoke not missing the anger that flashed in his eyes as he looked at my hand and hers.
“You could try. But I’m sure the council wouldn’t approve.” I continued to say.
He was quiet after that, his eyes fixated on my own hand that was tightly holding on to Lyrics’. His eyes flashed with rage before he spoke venomously.
“I don’t need the council’s permission for anything!”
Whether it was because of my words or because of that single gesture with Lyric I knew Cray was beyond angry.
“Then why are you here?” I questioned.
“Enough children,” My father spoke firmly, and I knew it was time to stop talking knowing the council would be taking every single detail and event into consideration.
“Now, now. It’s all in good fun,” King Charles spoke though he put his hand on Maxwell’s shoulders trying to calm him as well.
“I suppose so. But I don’t think you want my son to use yours as a chew toy,” My father spoke. I could see the anger in King Charles eyes at my fathers’ words.
Somehow I had almost forgotten there was also a rivalry between the two kings but their actions reminding me that this was a cycle both kingdoms always had.
“We shall see what the council has decided. Not that my son has anything to worry about. We always get the women of our choosing, don’t we son?” King Thomas spoke turning to Max whose eyes landed on Lyric possessively. Moving in front of her, I glared at him and Cray simply smirked.
“Yes,” He said. Though he hadn’t said much, the message was loud and clear. He was not going to allow me to take her. Even if that was what would be decided.
For what seemed like hours but was only mere minutes, silence and tension ruled us. We knew what this was. We knew what this meant. One of us would go home with Lyric. The other wouldn’t. The screech of the large hall door was heard once more and the guard from before appeared, his face tight as he spoke.
“The council will see you now,” He said firmly before allowing us to enter. I could see her tense again. Lyric. But I knew I couldn’t speak and at the time knowing what we were about to face I could not seem to find my own voice. Instead, I opted to comfort her in the only way I could at the time. The only way she allowed me to do. Giving her hand a light squeeze.
The hall was large there was nothing but empty space around it. Except for large podium like stands at the back where the twelve council members stood tall. Though we were Kings, and Prince’s I knew the council needed to be respected much like they needed to respect us. Everything was about being equal and fair to the people. Something that the Nova council had to always oversee. Because this was a “peaceful event” they were all in their human form in order to be diplomatic. Had they wanted to use force and show their power they would have no doubt been in their Nova form.


“Thank you for coming,” Councilmen Green spoke once we were standing a few feet below them. He was the most powerful of the council, the most outspoken, the fairest, the strongest, the bravest, and the wisest.
“I know this situation is uncommon almost unheard of. It certainly did take us off guard. However, we did some investigating and Councilmen Jacobs has indeed heard of this situation.” Councilmen Green continued and at his words, I grew confused. How was that possible? More mating’s like this happened?
“I’m sure you’re all wondering why it is that no one has heard about it.”
“There have only been four other cases. They’re rare maybe every five hundred if not one thousand years. We’ve been around for quite some time. Centuries, millenniums. Some of the old council members before us found the double mating. Disgraceful,” Councilmen Green answered though I knew he was trying not to offend us I could tell it had upset both my father and Crays.
“However they never thought this would happen in both Kingdoms at the same time,” Councilmen Green spoke trying to appease both kings for his words.


“Then how do you suggest we resolve this Councilmen? They cannot share her. And I will not allow my son to share anything let alone his mate with an Archer,” King Charles snapped angrily.
“They will not share her,” Councilmen Green assured.
“Councilmen. How was the situation resolved?” My father asked finally asking the question we had all been wondering, hoping that the outcome would favor us.
“From what we gathered there were two solutions used. One of you Prince Parker or Prince Maxwell can retreat. Allow the other to take her. Give her up.” Councilmen Green spoke looking between Cray and I.
Councilmen Green didn’t have to ask either of us to know what both our answers would be. Still, he spoke.
“Do either of you chose to retreat?” Councilmen Green asked.
Give up Lyric?... Did I deserve her? No. But I was selfish enough to admit that I still wanted her, needed her. She was like the air. I needed her to breathe, to live.
“No.” Cray and I both answered.
“That is out of the question. They are both unwilling. So what is the other option?” My father quickly asked knowing things would surely escalate if a proper decision and a fair one was not made soon.
“The other way things were handled was a fight. To the death. The winner keeps the woman being fought over.”
I could see Lyric tense at my side as well as both Kings. I knew that if there was no other way to protect her and keep her by my side, I would do it. I would fight Cray for Lyric or die trying.
“However. Because they are both Prince’s we realize that is a drastic measure that will only cause chaos between both kingdoms. From the four double mating’s we were able to learn that none of the matings were successful when these strategies were used. The female did not have a happy mating nor did the two males,” Councilmen Green explained.
“Then what do you suggest councilmen?” My father asked.


“We can’t have them stay like this!” King Charles snapped angrily and I could tell they were both losing their patience now. Both Kings wanting to end this situation as soon as possible.
“Would the girl please step forward,” Councilmen Green spoke up.
Lyric. I could feel her hand shake in mine. Her eyes expressed fear. Even though I didn’t want to let go of her hand, afraid I would no longer have her at my side I knew I had to comply. Letting go of her hand, she stood beside me for what felt like hours before moving forward slowly in order to stand in front of the council on her own. More silence ensued and then Councilmen Green turned to look at her staring down at her. I could almost feel her fear as I watched her shrink away. She looked so small in front of all of us. She looked so vulnerable. I wanted nothing more than to pull her to my side again but knew I couldn’t do that.
“This is a very odd situation to be in isn’t it?” Councilmen Green spoke though his tone was firm there was an added softness to it that I suppose was the effect Lyric had on people with her innocence and gentleness.
“Yes,” She squeaked out her voice barely audible reminding me of a fearful mouse.
“How do you feel?” He asked her calmly.
“I can’t breathe,” Lyric answered the full stress of the situation flickering on her face. For a second I thought of pulling her away from everyone so she could breathe again. Though I doubted she could have been able to breathe easy since coming back to Archer.
“Are you afraid?” Councilmen Green asked her, though there was no need to, everything was clearly written on her face.
“Yes,” She whispered quietly clutching her hands tightly in front of her while Councilmen Green replied back with a nod before.
“This situation is uncommon and by the council’s past mistake and because of the shaky treaty between both Kingdoms we’ve decided on this… The choice is yours Lyric. Do you choose Prince Parker or Prince Maxwell?” Councilmen Green asked.
For a second I felt like his words had rung for miles in my head. Part of me was glad that she would get to choose, the other part... The other part felt like sinking. Had the council chosen maybe then I couldn’t blame myself. I could blame them if they chose Cray for her. But now, now I knew that if she chose him I couldn’t push the blame on anyone but myself.
“You’re just a joke.”
“The world would be a lot better if you weren’t in it.”
I could see myself in that hall again. Speaking all those untrue cruelties to her once more. Then the fire. Her eyes. The fear. The hospital. Her room. Everything came flooding back all at once. Not that I had ever forgotten, and I knew that she’d never forgotten either. I was preparing for it, hearing her say Cray’s name. Everything was lost for me that much I knew. But if, No, when she chose him. I knew I had to live with it.
“You made your bed. Now lay in it Archer,” I thought to myself
“Lyric. Your decision?” Councilmen Green asked her snapping me back to reality. I could feel my chest tighten and I clenched my fist realizing this was it. I was going to lose her. I could have had her all this time. All these years. I wasted so much time being stupid. Choosing to ignore my instincts. Being careless, and now this was it. This was-
“Lyric your-”


“Parker.” She spoke out quietly silencing the room and for a second I too went blank. Unsure if my mind was playing tricks on me or if this was real. Had she really called my name?
“Parker.” She repeats once more though she’s looking down away from everyone’s eyes as she says my name. I don’t have time to smile or to rejoice in what I’ve heard because Cray screams out in fury at what he too has just heard. She has chosen me and not him. I can see it in his eyes. The rage just before he shifts ready to attack me and her, ready to kill both of us. He runs toward us in his Nova form ready to take her, to kill her, but I don’t give him time. My own instincts kick in and somehow I feel stronger today.
Her words, her voice speaking my name still rings in my ears. I tackled Cray away from her both of us getting thrown to the side though I land standing, he falls. He struggles up his large red hyena eyes glaring at us but I don’t care. Right now I feel stronger.
“I’ll kill you! She’s mine Archer!” Cray growls and I can hear Lyric gasp in horror while she cowers, covering her ears. I know she can hear him. But at the moment it doesn’t matter all that matters is that I protect her.
“She chose me Cray! Back off! Or I’ll kill you!” I threatened him, standing in front of Lyric trying to shield her away from his eyes. Every single part of me is screaming to protect her while my heart, mind, and soul all scream the same thing.
“She’s mine!”
“Lyric, stay behind me,” I tell her.
I can see the fear in her eyes. Whether that’s for the situation or for me I don’t know and I don’t have time to assess things further because Cray is already coming at me. It’s like my instincts go into overdrive and I growl out concentrating only on my enemy. Knowing that if I lose. If I die, he’ll take her away. Hurt her… Kill her…
“She’s mine,” I think to myself and I know Cray thinks the same because he attacks with just as much anger as I do.
“I won’t let you have her Archer!” Cray hisses out as we engage in battle. Throwing our paws around biting trying to inflict as much injury on each other as possible. He manages to grab on to my right shoulder biting off a large amount of flesh and fur. Howling in pain I keep fighting ignoring everything else around me and managing to pin him down once again.
“Enough!” Councilmen Green shouts his voice firm and breaking both Cray and I from our murderous trance.
Before long Nova Guards have shown up hissing and circling around Cray and I, ready to attack if we do not retreat. I can see Lyric out of the corner of my eye. My father standing behind her, a hand on her shoulder, both of them concerned. I could see the fear in her eyes while she looks at the chaos in front of her.
“Retreat. Now. Both of you or I will be forced to use our power,” Councilmen Green threatened his voice firm and on edge. I knew any stupid sudden movement would no doubt get me killed by either the guards or Cray. Keeping my eyes on him I slowly retreated toward my father and Lyric. My instincts still high, I realized part of me needed to make sure I claimed her in front of everyone. I wanted them to know who she had chosen and that she truly belonged to me. Moving toward Lyric, knowing that if I shifted back Cray would no doubt kill me I settled for nudging my head toward her. It was the only way in which I could offer comfort to her at the moment without putting her in danger. When she clung on to me part of me felt elated as did my ego. The rage in Cray’s eyes was visible. Though Lyric had chosen me I knew Cray would never accept it.
“You cannot choose him! I will not let you go with him!” Cray spoke angrily confirming what I already knew.
“She’s made her choice Cray,” I growled back.
“She has no choice!” Cray hissed out and hearing him say that made me want to fight him once more.
“She has a choice, and she’s made it!” I yell firmly tough I knew it was no use.
“I will not stand for this!” King Charles spoke his voice angry.
“The girl is coming with us,” He hissed out.
This was why Maxwell was like this. Just like his father both of them believed their mates to be objects to possess not people to love and care for.
“She’s made her choice Charles. And that choice was not your son, but mine.” My father spoke up. I could tell that he was on edge as well. Any sudden movement would no doubt not only cause a fight today but a war soon after if this continued to escalate.
“Enough!” Councilmen Green spoke out having realized this himself. His eyes calm though the edge in his voice noticeable. Trying to keep his composure and the peace between both kingdoms he spoke,
“The girl has made her choice. And we will respect it. King Thomas, Prince Parker. You may leave with her now,” he says. Although I should feel relieved at his words I don’t, because the tension is still there, as are both Crays.
“Though I hope this is a choice you can live with,” Councilmen Green says to Lyric. For a second her eyes meet his before she settles her sight back on the ground.
“You are going to regret this” Maxwell says causing Lyric to look back up at him their gazes lingering on one another.
“We should go,” My father says to us before turning to the council and thanking them. Though we turn to leave Lyric seems to be stuck to the floor and only moves when I gently push her forward.
She clings to me while we exit and I feel at ease about this. I know she means nothing by it but it’s a way for me to protect her at the moment, something I need to do at the moment. When Lyric goes into the car there is a look of fear that can’t seem to leave her eyes. My father notices this as well but doesn’t say a word. Instead, he hands me clothes after I’ve shifted back to change into before going inside the car. The ride back is silent. Lyric doesn’t speak and there’s such a lost look in her eyes that I can feel her sadness radiating from her and making my chest tighten. She chose me but I realize it’s also something she did not want.
“Son,” My father spoke quietly.
“Maybe it’s best if you two talk when we reach the castle. Try to calm her down,” My father suggests. Looking at Lyric, I could see hurt in her eyes, pain. Maybe it was because she was stuck with me now. Maybe she did want to choose Cray. So many thoughts ran through my head but there was nothing I could do at the moment other than speculate and worry about her.
***
The ride back home felt more worrisome than the ride before. Lyric remained robotic for lack of a better word. This was something I had only seen once in her. I felt as though I was back in those horrible last days five years ago. She had digressed to that shell of a girl. Her movements robotic and looked physically tiresome; while the void in her eyes remained. Father himself had kept a worried eye on Lyric and he himself was starting to fidget. By the time we arrived back home, Lyric had still not moved on her own will or consciously at all.


“Lyric” I call out to her causing her to jump in fear.
“We’re back at the castle,” I tell her and for a second she looks around disoriented realizing that the car has stopped. She doesn’t say anything instead she remains quiet and without a word, exit’s the car.
When we walk into the castle both Crystal and Spencer are there waiting. The relief in their eyes is obvious and so is the curiosity but I don’t have time for that. For now, I need to be with her alone. I needed to talk to her. Before either Spencer or Crystal have a chance to speak I interrupt them.
“Father can explain. I’d like to speak with Lyric alone,” I tell them and I can feel Lyric tense at my side. Begrudgingly Crystal agrees and lets us go; though her eyes tell me she wants to talk to Lyric to. For now, all I can do, all I really need to do, is talk to Lyric. As confused as I was at the moment feeling like this was not real, having her there certainly confirmed this was the reality. She’d chosen me. Part of me did hope that she at least felt some sort of pull toward me other than hate. Taking hold of her hand I lead her upstairs to our room to talk closing the door behind us for some privacy.
It’s a bit disheartening but like opposite energy’s - and + we drift away both of us to opposite sides of the room. Lyric towards the bed and I towards the window. Thinking back to all those times I’ve been in here with her I realize it has always been the same. Neither of us has been comfortable enough to talk so close to the other, so we drift apart in order to do it. Too lost in my own thoughts I let silence take us.
“I’m sorry,” She spoke first, her voice cutting the mist of silence that had surrounded us.

Her words catch me off guard. What was she apologizing for?
“You didn’t have to fight for me,” She continued her eyes downcast. Her words confusing me even more and I could not understand what she was saying. Why would she think I didn’t need to?
Making my way to her I reached for her hand first. Reaching to raise her head gently I lifted her chin up so our eyes could meet again. But she refuses to look up.
“Lyric. Look at me,” I say to her, but before I could speak again she’d cut me off once more.
“Why?” She questioned, and I was unsure now once again of what it was she was asking.
“You don’t care about me. So why help me,” She asks, tears rimming her beautiful chocolate orbs.
“Why save me when you could have just let me die or let me be taken by Maxwell?” She finishes crying and making guilt overcome me. I couldn’t look at her after hearing her say that, her words digging into my chest giving me a feeling of agony.
Was this what she thought? That I didn’t care about her? That I could just walk away and let her get hurt?
“You’re just a joke.”
“The world would be a lot better if you weren’t in it.”
There it was again. The past coming back to haunt me. This is what I did. What I’ve been making her feel for the past five years. I’d made her feel unworthy and scared.
“I’m sorry,” I tell feeling my throat tighten as if I was being choked.
“I’m so sorry,” I say again. Part of me wants to break down in tears pathetically but I know I have to finally tell her everything I feel and make things right.
“What I did. What I said to you all those years ago. I was wrong. If I could take it back, I would. Because I didn’t mean what I said back then. I never did.” I try to explain to her. She looks at me in tears, a mixture of both pain and confusion in her eyes as she gazes back at me. Even if I want to turn back now, I know I have to tell her how I feel about her. How I’ve always felt since the first day we met five years ago.


“I. I was an idiot who didn’t know how to react. To what you made me feel and when I realized who you were the damage had been done. I. I know I can’t take it back,” I tell her feeling my throat tighten again. I’m afraid of what she’ll say to me, part of me wants me to stop talking, but I can’t. I need to tell her everything today because it might be the only chance I have to tell her how I feel.
“But I want to make it up to you,” I say and I hope that she can see and feel my sincerity. My heart races faster with each second that flickers by and I can’t help but finally say what I’ve always wanted to tell her.
“I love you,” I say to her.
At my confession Lyric remains quiet, her eyes flickering with something that’s too fast for me to catch. Even so, I can’t help but continue to speak what I feel for her.
“I love you and I know you don’t feel that way. Maybe you never will. And I know it’s my fault,” I tell her. Once again I can feel the guilt weigh my shoulders down and my heart tightens with a familiar pain that I have caused both of us. My mind flickers back to that broken Lyric of five years ago and I found myself looking away from her unable to meet her eyes again. Lyric had been lost and broken and I broke the dam that already had way too many cracks with just a whisper of poorly chosen words.
“I promised myself that I would respect your decision. If you chose him. Then. Then I’d let you go,” I tell her.
Though I realize walking away was going to be hard had she chosen him, I would have retreated if she’d asked me to do so. Simply because I knew more than anyone, I had no right to demand anything of her. Still, I was selfish and for now, I would make my plea to her even if she did reject me in the end.
“I know you’re afraid of me. I know you hate me. I know I don’t deserve you. But all I’m asking for is a chance Lyric. A chance with you,” I tell her.
For the longest of times, she remains quiet and though I try to decipher what she’s thinking by gazing into her eyes I find no answer.
“I don’t expect you to answer now. I just hope you consider it.” I say to her. Part of me wants to reach to place a kiss on her lips but I know I can’t. Not when she has not given me an answer which I know will take time. Moving away from her I know there’s nothing I can say anymore. Not at the moment so instead I turn to leave closing the door behind me and hoping that she gives me a chance even if I don’t deserve it.

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