Fireflies. There were so many of them. In the field glowing, leading me away to something great and beautiful. They lit up. But in the middle of it all, I saw a beautiful pink orb. The one I had seen so many times glowing at me.
“Come on,” It spoke to me. So I did, following her onto a field until I saw him, Parker. He was in his Nova form. A brown wolf, strong and powerful. Parker moved over to me laying on the empty field, fireflies around him while I followed after him, sitting close to him with the pink orb on my lap.
“You and Parker have so much in common,” she said.
“Who are you really? Why are you here?” I asked her. Based on the voice I knew it was Angel, but there was so much I wanted to know.
“I can’t tell you. He’s going to trust you more than Parker. More than anyone. I want him to love you too,” Angel said to me.
“Who?” I questioned.
“You’ll know when the time is right. Tell him I’m sorry. You understand more than you know. And you don’t know how lucky you are to have found your soulmate. I wish I would have been stronger like you,” Angel said.
“I’m not s-”“You’re stronger than you know. Be there for him. He’s going to be there for you too.”
I hadn’t stopped thinking about it. Not since I had that dream a week ago. I couldn’t understand what that meant. Who did I also need to love? Parker? I already agreed I would give him a chance that I would accept his love. It seemed like a good idea at the time. That night had felt so magical. Something that I never thought I could experience with anyone. Much less Parker Archer. Crystal said it was what falling in love felt like. A feeling that makes you feel breathless, nervous, happy, confused, afraid, all at once. Love. It seemed laughable to think that I could ever fall in love. It seemed out of reach for such a long time. I’d learned never to wish for anything, never to want anyone. Why was it that I now felt hope? Parker had always ensued such confusing feelings from me. Why had I said yes?
“Because you felt hope again,” The little voice in my head spoke up.
When I first saw him back in high school that feeling I had when he looked at me. Maybe deep down I knew who he was meant to be. However, the shield I had put up for myself had been so high up that like him, I unintentionally hurt us both. I couldn’t love him. Not right away because that wall was still up, but it seemed to lower since that day in the sky with him. I needed to open up if I was willing to give him a chance that much I knew. I needed to give myself that chance to be happy.
The brushing of the bushes moving caught my attention first. I could only offer a smile at Olive whom stoically stood in front of us. Parker had been gone for the past few days. He was taking care of things I assumed had to do with the kingdom. In the end, it was Oliver who was left in charge of me. He never left my side.
“I’m fine Oliver. Just thinking,” I said to him.
If there was really one thing I loved about this giant mansion that made me feel a bit out of place it was the garden. There was a fountain of two babies. Small little birds bathing in it. Playing in the water. There were so many flowers of multiple colors, trees around it that led to the forest. Of course, everything was protected by a large wall and the guards. There had been a lot more lately since I chose Parker and rejected Maxwell.
“He’s not going to stop is he?” I questioned. My words lingered in the air with the breeze to a soft silence that we both knew assured what I already knew. Still, Oliver said nothing and chose to sit next to me on the small bench.
“You shouldn’t be here protecting me. Maybe you should be helping Parker.”
“He cares about you. A lot,” Oliver spoke up smiling.
“He wants to keep you safe.”
“He can take care of himself Princess,” Oliver spoke.
“He has troops with him. His father would never leave him unprotected but I don’t think Parker needs it,” Oliver spoke, slipping from his usual firm and retreated demeanor.
“What do you mean?” I asked, causing him to chuckle.
“Both Spencer and Parker are naturally stronger because of the blood that runs through them,” Oliver spoke up.
“That doesn’t make me feel any better,” I admitted to him, emitting a natural laugh from Oliver.
“It’s not supposed to make you feel better. You’re his mate. It’s natural to worry about him, to care for him,” Oliver explained.
“But. I… Is that normal? I mean.”
“Yes,” Oliver said, a smile on his lips.
“He doesn’t talk about it, what happened between you two. At least not to me.” Oliver spoke his words making my stomach churn.
“But he feels guilty. He’s an average idiot like the rest of us guys. Just don’t hold it against him too long. He does care,” Oliver said. Somehow his words felt reassuring that giving Parker a chance was definitely the right decision.
“Which is why he sent me to take care of you while he’s not here.” Oliver ended.
“Thank you,” I said to him.
“It’s my job Princess,” He said.
“Lyric. Just Lyric,” I said to him.
I didn’t want people to be so formal with me much less call me Princess. For such a long time, even now I still did not know who I was, but it didn’t feel right to be called Princess.
“Lyric,” Oliver finally said.
Once again silence ensued, but a tranquil one that brought a bit of peace in the air. For a second I closed my eyes enjoying the summer breeze on my skin, the soft little breeze that still remained from the past season. It was like a soft symphony, a guitar strumming in the wind the soft wind carrying beautiful notes. The notes felt familiar like in a dream but when I opened my eyes, I realized that they were real. The sound of a guitar playing was real. He was standing there, blonde sandy hair that fell just above his eyes, a pair of green colored olive eyes, that 500-watt smile. It was Andrew.
There was immense relief that I felt upon seeing my friend. Beside Andrew stood Jane, with a smile on her face as bright as his. A few feet away Crystal and Spencer both stood with similar expressions on their faces. Something kept flickering in both their eyes that I could not understand but for the moment I was happy. Andrew who had been seamlessly been playing the same tune we had met stopped the strumming of his guitar and set it down. Turning back to me he simply walked towards me and hugged me. His arms tight around me and I found myself smiling more so when Jane ran toward us in order to join our embrace.
“Andrew. What are you doing here?” I asked quietly once he pulled away from both Jane and I.
“We,” Jane corrected happily.
“Came to see you,” Andrew spoke up cutting Jane off though there was a look of anger that crossed his features when he spoke.
“Right,” Jane spoke up before Spencer and Crystal made their way toward us.
“Andrew,” Spencer spoke. Immediately Andrew tensed upon hearing Spencer’s sharp voice but otherwise nodded in acknowledgment.
“I don’t mean to be rude but I’d like to talk to Lyric on my own. Catch up with her,” Andrew said.
“That’s totally fine,” Jane said her voice filled with excitement.
“Oh. Okay,” Crystal spoke her voice quiet.
“I’m not sure that’s a very good idea,” Spencer said his eyes meeting Andrew’s both of them showing anger towards one another.
“My brother made arrangements for Lyric to be kept safe.”
“Were on Archer grounds. There are Nova guards everywhere. Besides. I’m sure I can keep her safe. I may not be Archer ranked but I come close to being as strong as you. Wolf,” Andrew spoke his voice low and threatening. His tone confused me, I’d only ever heard that voice a few times. Something that Jane herself registered because a look of worry crossed her features.
Whenever Andrew felt the need to protect Jane and I Andrew completely changed from happy to angry. It was also why Jane secretly liked to call Andrew Dr. Jekyll.
“It’s alright,” I spoke up, not wanting for things to go further. I couldn’t really understand why the atmosphere was so tense.
“Princess.” Oliver spoke up, the tone and the way he was looking at Andrew made me realize he was not using the title for my sake but for Andrews’. I realized then that everyone had already figured out the way Andrew felt about me.
“Prince Parker instructed I stay by your side until he returns. Forgive my forwardness but I will not break that promise. Your safety comes first even if you are being. Protected by a cub,” Oliver said calmly.
“Alright. You can join us. Just keep your distance,” Andrew said, his jaw tense.
“We’ll be inside. Just. Call if you need anything,” Crystal spoke up. Offering a tight smile before everyone walked back inside and leaving Andrew, Oliver and I alone.
“Take a walk with me,” Andrew spoke after a few moments of silence. His voice sounding calmer and gentler now that we were almost alone.
“Alright,” I answered, and he simply smiled back extending his arm out to me to intertwine with my own.
We walked along a small little-pebbled path around the small forest. I could hear the small birds’ chirp happily knowing it was because of Andrew’s song. Their soft little calls sounding like a soft encore of Andrew’s song which floated through the soft breeze like a beautiful after echo.
“You didn’t tell me it was the Prince,” Andrew spoke after a few moments. His tone sounded accusing and caused my throat to dry.
“They didn’t tell me. You know how this works.”
“I know,” Andrew spoke sighed.
“Are you happy? Afraid?”
“I’m alright,” I said to him.
“Parker. How does he treat you?” Andrew asked.
For a moment I was unsure of what to say. Not for my sake but for his. Andrew had always been perfectly clear as to what his emotions for me were.
“He’s nice. He’s. Not like before. I-”
“You like him already don’t you?” Andrew questioned, pain evident in his eyes.
“I’m not sure. I. He asked for a chance and I said yes,” I admitted to him.
“Why? Because of Cray?” Andrew asked.
“No. I. He’s my mate Andrew. I want to be happy and. Is it wrong to want that?” I questioned, and though his eyes reflected pain, there was also understanding in them. He sighed, shutting his eyes tightly for a moment before opening them again and speaking.
“No,” He whispered.
“But Lyric. He hurt you, he-”
“I know,” I said to him.
“But he also saved me. We talked and he. We. Both deserve a chance. I. I want to be happy Andrew.”
“Maybe if I-”
“You’re my friend,” I said to him.
“One day you’re going find her. But that’s not me. I value your friendship Andrew but you need to understand.”
“I know,” He admitted, more to himself than to me.
“But that doesn’t change how I feel right now. For you,” Andrew said taking hold of my cheek gently.
“I know you’re right but. What if it was me? I keep thinking. Wishing-”
“But it’s not,” I tell him.
“You can’t change what was already written,” I say to him.
“Besides one day when you find her you’ll think this conversation was silly,” I say to him.
“Maybe. But it doesn’t feel that way,” Andrew says.
“For now. You need me. And I’m not going to leave until you no longer do,” he says.
“What do you m-”
His voice makes it clear to me. Parker. I turn to look at him but he’s not looking back at me.
His face is completely emotionless and cold. For a moment I felt nervous, maybe even a little intimidated. This isn’t the Parker that I had given a chance to but the old Parker. Only he wasn’t looking at me that way but at Andrew.
“Parker,” I spoke up to him, his eyes shifting toward mine softening upon looking at me and offering me a lopsided smile.
“Lyric. Can you wait inside? Oliver can go with you. I. Have a few things to discuss with Andrew.” Parker spoke up his eyes shifting toward Andrew once more, who now had a similar expression.
“Come on Princess,” Oliver spoke up startling me.
Oliver had indeed kept his distance so much so that I had failed to notice him until now. He didn’t say anything more but placed his hand on my lower back to push me along gently. When I turned to look back at Parker and Andrew, they were no longer there.
“Don’t worry. This isn’t about you. They have things to discuss, important things,” Oliver spoke. I knew Oliver’s words should have put my worries at ease but they did nothing to calm me.
This wasn’t something I was going to stand for. Not anymore. The council had let far too many things slide when it came to the Crays. The worse had been the attack they had planned. It had been a clear threat to the kingdom and a clear threat to Lyric
As much as he wanted to stay with her and talk for the night. Maybe even stay in the same bedroom as her Parker knew that wasn’t an option. He’d asked Oliver to meet him in the courtyard after talking to his father about his next step.
“I want you to stay here and protect her while I go talk to the council,” Parker told Oliver while they stood outside the courtyard.
“Parker. Cray made it clear that-”“I know… War isn’t too far away. But I want you to stay behind and take care of her for me. She can’t know what’s going on. Otherwise, she’d blame herself for this,” Parker explained to Oliver, who for a moment remained silent unsure if he should speak or not.
“The Princess… Is quite fragile.”“Yes,” Parker spoke guilt eating away at him.
“But she is not quite as fragile as you perceive.”“Maybe. But. I can’t lose her. I need you to protect her should Cray decide to attack while I’m away. It will only be a few days’ trip but even so. I need the best to protect her,” Parker said to him.
“I’ll send some of the best with you to the council,” Oliver said to him.
“Though I doubt Cray will attack right when we have our guard up even if he’s desperate to take her,” Parker said to him.
“She means a lot to you. Doesn’t she?” Oliver questioned him.
For a moment Parker found himself contemplating this. Of course he loved her and cared about her and somehow there really wasn’t a way to describe everything she made him feel.
“The world,” Parker answered him.
“I’ll do my best to protect her. Prince Parker,” Oliver spoke to him.
“Thank you,” Parker said to him.
“But Parker. You should not act drastically because of Cray,” Oliver said to him.
“Like my father, I don’t want to start a war. But I won’t stand for Cray taking Lyric from me.”“The council can only help so much but there’s really nothing they can do,” Parker reasoned.
“Then why do you-”“To inform them of this simply. But it’s become obvious that Lyric will probably cause this war,” Parker thought realizing that this would only distress his mate.
“I don’t understand what you feel right now. But. Fear of losing someone you love is quite torturous… Losing someone you need. It’s like never being able to breathe again,”
Parker couldn’t really say much to Oliver about it. Sure he had lost his mother, and while that was a great loss, Oliver had lost both his parents and there was nothing Parker could compare to.
“I leave tonight,” Parker spoke to him after a few seconds of silence.
“Stay outside her door and at her side at all times,” Parker said to him before walking away.
Traveling to the Nova council was much easier to do in Nova form. There was no need for stops only to run and let instinct take you as fast as you could. When it came to the matter of Lyric, the faster the better. Flanking me in my run there were two Nova flyers, the best in Oliver’s army, along with one Nova wolf, and a wildcat. The trip only took a day and a half and by the time we reached the council the guard was already awaiting my visit.
“Stay here,” I ordered the Nova officers who only answered with “Yes Sire” and stayed outside to wait for me.
It took less than a few seconds for the council guard to allow me inside to meet with them. So there I was, standing in front of the council once again feeling irritation aside from anger and frustration. Still, I realized there wasn’t much they could do with what happened between Cray and I. Even so, there needed to be a line drawn. And if they couldn’t draw that line then I had to do so.
“They have not crossed through to Archer and unless they,”
“What do you suppose we do Councilwoman Jameson,” I spoke up to her.
It was useless to reason with the council to go against the Crays. Just like it was unreasonable for them to go against us. Though I realized it was their job to remain neutral against both Kingdoms, sometimes their so-called “Neutral line” became nothing but useless to both kingdoms.
“Cray’s threatened my Kingdom. And he’s threatened my mate.” I spoke anger slipping through my voice and echoing loudly across the room.
“How much longer will you continue to look the other way? They have killed hundreds of our people in futile attacks to take over the Kingdom of Archer. Not to mention the conditions of poverty that their people live in.”
“We realize you’re frustrated Prince Parker,” Councilmen Green spoke up.
“But you must understand that our hands are tied,” He spoke. His words only confirming to me that he really couldn’t understand the frustration I was feeling. Because this wasn’t just about Lyric. It was also about a Kingdom that should have never been dispersed into two sections in order to avoid war and bloodshed. The bloodshed that had still happened because of the Cray’s who craved power.
“As long as he did not go through Archer there is nothing we can do. We could punish the Novas of Cray that passed the line but it would only anger his people more,” Councilwoman Jameson spoke up.
“Then what do you suppose I do? Should I wait until they attack my Kingdom? Should I have to wait for more bloodshed?” I asked.
“For now I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do.” Councilmen Green spoke. Unlike Councilwoman Jameson who kept her cold composure as did the rest of the Nova Council, I could hear sympathy and understanding in Councilmen Green’s voice.
“And if a war is to start?” I questioned them.
“Then what would you do?” I asked.
“We would remain as we are Prince Parker. There is a reason why we were chosen by the first Novas and why your father himself has kept his trust in us.” Councilwoman Jameson said.
“I guess I came to waste my time,” I said to them.
“All we can do is give the Cray’s a warning and try to negotiate a new treaty with them in order to avoid war.”
“Unless I hand Lyric off to Cray, he’ll never stop. And even If I were to do so, he’d still want the Kingdom.”
“Are you declaring war on Cray?” Councilmen Green questioned.
“No,” I answered them before walking out of the room.
“But should the time come I will.” I thought to myself.
It was frustrating to think that when it came to what was right, there wasn’t much the council could do. Maybe it was fair of them to keep things the way they thought was best. Still, things could only get worse after this.
Going back to Archer though I felt relief simply because I needed to make sure that during my time of absence Lyric was alright, there was also frustration. Part of me afraid when I realized that any moment there could be a chance of Cray hurting her or trying to take her away. I could see the mansion in the distance and somehow that made me speed up knowing I could see her again. However, it was the Nova council flags on the side of a large car that rang alarms in my head. Had someone come and given news to my father ahead of time? Had Cray already decided to attack?
“Sire,” One of the officers spoke up while he ran beside me tension somehow high around them as well once they saw the flags of neutral ground in Archer.
“We’ll go straight in. Should anything seem out of place then we move, otherwise, there’s no need,” I said to them. However, there seemed to be no need because from outside in the courtyard I could hear a guitar playing.
“Son,” My father spoke coming out of his study.
“What’s going on?” I questioned him. After shifting back, my father simply waved his hand at the Nova officers who quickly retreated away leaving us alone.
“You should go change and come downstairs afterward. We have a few things to discuss,” My father spoke, something in his voice sounding strange but yet, not enough to cause an alarming worry.
“Go change son. We’ll talk afterward,” He spoke.
“And Lyric,” I wanted to ask but instead I headed to the guest room where I had placed all my belongings in and changed. Call it instinct maybe, the pull that was Lyric. But somehow I could sense her near and simply approached the window after I’d changed.
She was standing there with her friend Jane, and there was also Spencer, Crystal, and Oliver. That’s when I saw him. Andrew Green. I’d seen him simply because whenever my father had some sort of gathering there was always the Nova Council that would be invited. He was the son of the Lion in the Council and in my opinion, the more reasonable in the ranks among them. Still, I couldn’t quite understand why it was he was there. It was only when Green hugged Lyric and her friend Jane; that there was something deep inside my stomach that churned. Almost like I’d seen something I was not supposed to.
He seemed to be talking with Spencer or rather arguing, then he proceeded to do the same with Oliver. Still, in the end, I saw Green reach for Lyrics’ arm tangling it with his own and then, she smiled at him. Maybe it sounded possessive, maybe even immature but at that moment I truly did feel jealous. Had she smiled at me? Yes. Had she allowed me to hold her even once? Yes. Even so, there was something about all this that told me there was more to it. I realized Lyric had to force herself to like me, or even want to try to be with me and that bothered me. I knew that nothing would ever erase the past fully between us. Our life and our connection together would always be tainted with specs of the past that were unerasable. I was aware of who he was, of what he’d done or rather what his father had done for Lyric and her mother. They’d given them sanctuary at a time that I couldn’t provide comfort to her. During a time that I had been part of what had been causing her such great pain.
I couldn’t look at the scene in front of me, not at the moment. Even if I wanted to go after Lyric and she’d agreed to give us a chance. I wanted Lyric to love me and jealousy would not work in my favor. There was not much I could do other than let her be. For now, I would simply go talk to my father who was waiting in his study as he always did when he needed to talk.
As always, my father sat patiently at his desk reading a book only to close it once I’d sat down in front of him. Only this time, there was a long pause before he actually set the book down, leaving it open to the page he’d been reading.
“I suppose the council has called you father,” I said to him.
“They haven’t but. I suppose they will,” He answered back calmly.
“Though there’s not much they can say that I don’t already know son.”
“What’s the point of having a council if-”
“To keep the peace. Maybe right now you don’t believe there is peace. And it is true that the way we live isn’t perfect. But the council does its purpose which is to keep The Kingdom of Cray in line. At least until there can be a fair solution,” He said. Still, I couldn’t quite understand it and maybe that conveyed in my eyes because my father simply chuckled lightly.
“You may not understand it son. In fact, maybe you’re still a bit young to do so. But in time you’ll learn to see the purpose of what the Council is for. In the meantime, I suppose you’ll have to wait.”
“And the Cray’s?” I questioned him; because I couldn’t understand his calm. There were times like when mother left, or when Oliver’s father and so many of our people died that I could see the distress in his eyes. At the moment, however, his eyes were calm which only confused me.
“In due time. I’ve learned that what should happen shall eventually take its course. But for now, something else needs your attention.” He spoke, his tone shifting from calm to stern and professional.
“Mr. Green. Would like to have a word with you. Regarding your mate,” He said. At the mention of Lyric, I could automatically feel myself tense.
“What does he want with her?”
“He wouldn’t say only that. He wanted to discuss her with you in private,” My father spoke.
“Fine,” I told him. Standing up to walk out of my fathers’ study I was stopped by his words once I opened the door.
“Allies are always good son. Don’t let your own insecurities and desperation cloud that,” He spoke. His words stuck in my head as I made my way out of his study.
It was easy to know where Lyric was. It was always easy for me to find her. My heart always did know the direction her own heart went. Though I realized I should have been comforted by the fact that Oliver had accompanied them on their walk; that didn’t much ease the tension in my heart that I felt or the nervous tingles my fingertips felt thinking about the way Green had looked at her. They hadn’t gone that far into the small woods and I could hear Green speaking to her. The closer I got the more I could hear what they were saying.
“One day you’re going find her. But that’s not me. I value your friendship Andrew but you need to understand,” Lyric spoke to him. Part of me couldn’t quite understand what it was she was telling him but his next words to her confirmed what I had already felt.
“I know. But that doesn’t change how I feel right now… For you… I know you’re right but. What if it was me? I keep thinking. Wishing-”
His words to her were clear. By any means, he was declaring his love to her. Somehow as jealous as I felt in that moment I also felt inadequate of the feeling. Could I really feel that way? Did I deserve to feel that way? I realized that the time spent between them had been the time I had not spent with her. Five years. Would things have been different?
“But it’s not,” I hear Lyric say, her voice breaking me out of the insecure trance I had set for myself.
“You can’t change what was already written. Besides one day when you find her, you’ll think this conversation was silly.”
Thought I know her words should bring me comfort, they don’t, instead, they bring forth more insecurities of the past and now the present.
“Maybe. But it doesn’t feel that way. For now, you need me. And I’m not going to leave until you no longer do.”
His words to her trigger my father’s voice to remind me about allies. Although this should make me feel a bit at ease, knowing someone else cares about her just as much as I do. I can’t. Not wanting to hear much more of it, I call out to her.
She’s standing there wearing a frilly blue skirt and a white spaghetti strapped blouse, as always she has a cardigan to cover her arms. Her hair let down to cascade past her waist. As beautiful as she was my attention moved from her to the person beside her who is holding her hand. His eyes meet mine and I can tell he’s sizing me up. There’s a look of anger and jealousy that crosses Greens’ eyes. Something I myself feel at the moment, but try to conceal it.
“She’s mine,” I want to say to him. I want to demand that he let go of her but when she calls my name out I realized she’s afraid.
She’s looking at us assessing the situation herself quietly. It pains me to know that Lyric is afraid of me, not of him. There’s concern in her eyes and I try my best to maintain my composure and offer her a smile. He, on the other hand, remains the same, his expression hard and collected.
“Lyric. Can you wait inside? Oliver can go with you. I. Have a few things to discuss with Andrew.” I tell her. Though I realized that was all that would happen. In the back of my mind, I knew there would be a lot more to discuss than what he was doing there.
“Come on Princess,” Oliver spoke coming out of his hiding place and leading Lyric away from us.
For a moment, neither Green nor I spoke until we were sure Lyric was gone.
“You haven’t told her? Have you?” Green asks, making me realize he’s been well informed of the entire situation.
“That Cray’s threatened her life?” He questioned a look of anger in his eyes.
“I just came back. But no. I don’t intend to tell her,” I say to him.
“Why not? This is about her and she should be aware that-”
“I know. But she’d worry and the last thing I want is for Lyric to be more afraid than she already is of him.”
“Don’t you mean of you and him? Of you and this place?” Green asks. By his tone, I knew he knew everything that’d happened between us.
“Did she tell you?” I found myself asking him.
“Yes. Eventually. Not all the details. She keeps her life private and what happened to her under wraps. But. She did mention a few things,”
“I won’t sugar coat anything because that’s just not who I am. I like to be blunt so I’ll say it.” He spoke.
“I like Lyric. I love her. She’s someone that you can never forget, much less live without.” Green spoke. His words making me clench my fist in anger and annoyance, more so because I myself knew this.
“What do you want?”
“I know she’s with you now. The law says so. Or at least her DNA does. And I’m not here to fight. Or rather not the way Cray does it. As much as I’d like to battle it out with you for her heart I think keeping her safe is more important. Which is why I’ll be staying here for the time being, if you’ll let me,” He spoke.
“And if I say no?”
“I can camp outside her bedroom window if you don’t. Lyric is my friend, and I promised myself when I met her five years ago that I’d protect her. You broke her along with her father. And I had to fix her. So let me keep being her glue because I’m not going to let you two immature Novas break her again,” Green spoke before walking away.
Though I wanted to be angry, part of me realized he had been right. Then again it was also protection for Lyric. Good and loyal protection for her. But once again I’d taken a step forward with her and had been thrown eight steps back.
“At least this one’s not so volatile. I can deal with a house cat,” I thought to myself.