Reign (Marko Delacroix #5)(5)By: Alaska Angelini
At Marko’s hand tightening on my hip, I knew I was going too far with my rant against our leader. But I couldn’t help it. For weeks I had waited to try to convince Aetas of Hunter. Of why he should choose me. It was all for nothing. He turned Hunter anyway, and now he was going to learn his mistake the hard way. Maybe at the price of each and every one of us.
“You question whether I will keep you all safe?”
I swallowed hard knowing if I admitted to his question, he could very well twist my words and call me a traitor. Marko picked up on my worries and his grip tightened again as a warning.
“I worry that you put too much trust into a man you hardly know. You speak of his blood and how strong he’ll be. With the personality I know Hunter to have, it has me afraid for those who might not be able to overpower him if the need arises.”
“Hmm.” Aetas crossed his arms over his chest. “You’re saying his passion will lead him one way. I say his love will lead him another. We could argue over this all night, but the decision is still mine.”
“Yes … it is.” I glanced back at Marko before I braved the next question. “Will you kill him if he shows signs of rising against us?”
Aetas smiled. “Do you think I’m such a poor leader? Of course I will.”
Something was underlined in his tone and my brow furrowed as I tried to detect what it was. Was he lying, or telling the truth? I wasn’t sure, but I couldn’t help but go on.
“Will you let me kill him?”
“My brave princess.” A laugh left Aetas and it appeared genuine. “And what would I do if Hunter ended up killing you? Your Marko would be heartbroken and blame me for even more than he already does.”
Low sounds vibrated against me and I placed my hand on Marko’s knee.
“If Hunter kills me, I don’t deserve to rule. I want to be the one to end this. I deserve that.”
“Perhaps you’ll get your fight, Princess, but I’m not so sure. Hunter is lost. He’s a newborn, confused on where he’s supposed to be. Once I get him back, he’ll be monitored and begin to feel safe. After he comes out of his newborn haze, I’ll groom him and he’ll begin his lessons. When he’s ready, he will go to Dallas, where he’ll take over Sayer’s old position. You may see him as an enemy for a while, but time has a way of erasing the past. Ask your Marko. He knows what I speak is the truth.”
“I’ll never forget what he did to Tessa. Ever.” Marko’s deep tone left the hair on my arms standing on end.
“I was speaking of your feelings about the princess’s third. It wasn’t always good between you and Mistress Bardot.”
“No, it was not. I wouldn’t say it’s good now, either. More, tolerable, if anything. Tessa has a connection with Marie and I’m not going to tell her she shouldn’t. She knows what she’s doing.”
“You both will get over this anger you have for Hunter. You’ll see.”
My blood boiled at the thought of Hunter amongst our society. I’d have to associate with him. I’d have to forget the past and what he did. Or, at least try. In truth, he could be a completely different person. I knew how one could change when they were turned. If he was like me, if he wanted this life…what would that mean? We used to be best friends. As impossible as it seemed, could that somehow be salvable? I knew why he had tried to kill me and I still had enough humanity within me to understand it. But my vampire didn’t want to. She wanted revenge.
“There’s no point in arguing over this. Aetas, are we being honored with a visit from you, or are you planning to poof back to headquarters?”
Marko’s anger grew at my question.
“I do think I’ll be your guest for a while. You say you’re ready to rule and I’m curious to see you in action. Perhaps you’ll prove me wrong.”
“Oh.” I blinked rapidly through the shock. I hadn’t expected him to take me up on the offer. “Well, of course. You’re welcome to stay for as long as you’d like. I do have to warn you, we’re going to be pretty full in the next week.”