The Unexpected Queen - Book cover

The Unexpected Queen

Sofia Landeiro

Chapter 2


After school, Jake drives me home, and we chat about our day. Apparently, Sally had chosen to sit next to him in history class. I do my best to not show my disapproval. She always pretends to be nice to me when Jake is around. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I’m sure she can tell I have feelings for him and flirts with him just to mock me.

He pulls into the driveway and we say our goodbyes. I’m left with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I watch him drive away. I swing my backpack over my shoulder and walk up to the house. Our house wasn’t big, but my mother has certainly made it a home.

She and I were very close, and I love our relationship. It had taken her a long time to get over my father’s death. My aunt had come to live with us so she could take care of me when my mother couldn’t handle the grief. But, of course, I understood. Losing your mate is like losing half of your soul.

“Hey, Mom!” I shout as I walk into the house.

“I’m in the kitchen!” she replies, and I throw my backpack on the floor before walking into the kitchen. She’s standing at the counter, kneading dough, flour everywhere.

“Hey, honey, did you have a good day?”

I sit down on one of the barstools and prop my elbows up on the counter, putting my head in my hands. “Okay, I guess,” I say, trying to sound nonchalant.

My mother raises an eyebrow and gives me a knowing look. “What’s wrong?”

“Oh, I don’t know… Nothing special.” I don’t have the energy to talk about Sally’s behavior and why it annoys me so much.

“Okay, I’ll let it go, but tell me if you want to talk,” my mom replies. She dusts flour from her hands and walks over to the kitchen table. She picks up an envelope and hands it to me. “This came for you today.”

I think I see a hint of sadness in her eyes as I take the envelope from her. The cover feels luxurious, and my name and address are written in cursive.

“What’s this?”

“Open it.” My mother gives me an encouraging smile, and I have a feeling that she already knows what it’s about. Word of the king’s ball had spread throughout the village.

I slowly open the envelope and unfold the paper that’s inside. I swallow against the unsettled feeling that keeps bubbling up in my stomach.

“The king would like to announce that he is inviting you to a special occasion. Our just ruler is searching for his mate and demands that every unmated female of age come to the castle’s mating ball,” I read out loud. With every word, my nausea grows. “Do I have to go to this?” I raise my eyes to look at my mother.

“Yes…unfortunately. Those who refuse to attend will be punished, and given how the king can be, we probably don’t want to know what the punishment will be.” She goes back to her dough and continues kneading.

“But you can come along, right?” I ask.

“Yes. You can bring a family member, so I’ll go with you.” She gives me a reassuring smile.

“And if I find my mate before this, I don’t have to go, right?”

“Yes, exactly. It only applies to women who are unmated,” she replies before she puts the dough in a bowl and sets it aside to rise.

Okay, so I don’t have to worry. If all goes according to plan, as soon as I turn eighteen, Jake and I will know for sure that we’re mates. Then I won’t have to go to the castle and meet this terrible king.

I get up from the stool and tell my mom that I’m going up to my room to finish my homework. I run upstairs and close my bedroom door behind me. I drop my backpack on the floor by my desk just as my phone lights up with a text.

MariaDid you receive the invitation?
LeahYes. The way it was written… like we don’t have a choice? What a jerk.
MariaLOL, yeah, but a bit fun to see the castle. What are you going to wear?
LeahI’m not going, so no need to shop for a new dress.
MariaOkay, we’ll see… See you tomorrow!

I don’t care about seeing the castle, regardless of its magnificent architecture and luxurious furnishings. I’m happy here in our small town with my mother. We never had much money, but my mother always made sure I never went hungry, and our little wooden house was good enough for the two of us.

I snort at the wording of the letter: “Our just ruler is searching for his mate and demands that every unmated female of age come to the castle’s mating ball.” Demands! What a pompous jerk. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth and thinks he can order everyone around.

I set my phone aside and turn to my homework, not finishing until it’s time for bed. I put on a tank top and a pair of shorts and crawl under the covers. Only four days until my birthday, I think and turn off the light.

I feel the darkness embrace me, and I’m drawn into the world of dreams. I’m standing in a long white dress that flows in the wind. The forest around me is dark and frightening. I peer through the trees, and my gaze is met by two dark eyes staring back at me.

I put my hand on my chest as I hold my breath. I see the dark eyes flash, and suddenly, the shadow begins to run toward me. I turn and run in the opposite direction of the shadow-monster, dodging around the thick tree trunks, the light of the full moon illuminating my path.

I’m panting, the panic rising in my throat as I hear the creature catching up to me. Just as I feel it attack, I wake up in my bed, screaming.

My mother flings my door open and runs to my bed. “Leah! What’s wrong?”

I’m dripping with sweat, looking around in terror. It takes a while for me to orient myself and see that I’m in my familiar bedroom and not in a dark forest.

“It was a dream,” I say between quick breaths. I feel like I just ran a race. My wolf, Sia, is calm inside me, and I wonder how the hell she isn’t panicking about what we just dreamed.

“Sorry if I scared you, Mom,” I say, lying down again.

She crawls into bed next to me. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. Go back to sleep now.” She caresses my head and plays with my hair while the pounding of my heart gradually slows.

I fall asleep in my mother’s arms, wondering if the monster will appear in my dreams again.

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