“I’m sorry,” he whispers.
I see blood all over the room and hear screams. Why am I feeling pain?
“Stop it,” someone screams.
I run, but it seems I never get to where she is.
At a young age, I was trained by assassins to become a dangerous woman and princess. At the same time, my mother taught me to be ruthless, a bloodthirsty vampire, and to fear nothing.
Thanks to that, I became the leader of the strongest army in the kingdom of vampires after her death.
No one knows the reason my mother made me train with assassins, but training with them made me feel relieved, made me feel part of something.
And although my grandfather, Elder Cornelius, loathed me for being an assassin like my mother, he knew there was nothing he could do but accept me the way I was.
I’ve been training with my men for the last three hours. I was so stressed after this morning’s conversation with my grandfather that all I could think of was escaping.
I don’t need to assist with an event that I know will be a waste of time, and, worse, I will have to partner up with my brother, Caspian.
Sighing, I lower my arm. “Mate.” That simple word makes me want to kill someone. I won’t say I like it, but neither do I love it. I just don’t want a mate, and I can’t have one.
He is dead, and I can’t have a second chance.
That person has already destroyed everything I have ever dreamed of. As a result, I have been mateless for the last five years, and I plan to keep doing it.
Feeling eyes on me, I glance to the side and notice Raphael heading this way. If he is here, it means he must have something important to say.
He knows I hate to be disturbed during my training time if it isn’t urgent.
“Excuse me, Your Majesty,” Raphael greets. “Your brother, Prince Caspian, is expecting you in his room.”
“Now?” I ask, annoyed.
Couldn’t Caspian find some other time to disturb my training?
Heading to Caspian’s room, I feel the frustration of what is going to happen. I know Caspian will talk about the ball. I just hope he understands that I am not fucking going.
Caspian, my brother, who is a year older than me, shares a unique bond that runs deeper than love, a powerful connection.
Werewolves call it an imprint. We vampires just call it a bond, similar to a mate’s bond. But it’s different; we understand better. We feel what the other may feel, and our priority is toward each other.
When I reach Caspian’s bedroom, Raphael opens the door and lets me in. And there, next to the fireplace, sits my dear, beloved brother, Caspian Adriel Vlad, in all his glory.
Caspian is tall with broad, muscular shoulders, a lean body, jet-black hair, and deep-blue eyes with a hint of gold.
He has a small mole close to his lips that gives him the most seductive smile in the entire kingdom, making all the girls swoon around him like flies. Very annoying, I say.
As I watch him from across the room, I notice the dark-blue suit that complements his dark-blue eyes. His hair is tied up in a bun, revealing that chiseled face that holds a deadly glare.
I have got to admit I love my brother a lot. I really do, even though the fucker enjoys getting me annoyed. He knows deep down I love and care for him as much as he cares for me.
“I imagine you already heard from our grandfather that the Grand Ball is in less than a week,” Caspian says as I take a seat.
I remain silent as he just glares my way.
Caspian is the heir in line. I was supposed to be the one to take that place, but I rejected the position. So Caspian is the one in charge now.
My grandfather wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t care less.
Caspian has all the traits of a king: humble, lovable, handsome, strict, and ruthless when needed, while I am cruel, stubborn, an assassin, a bloodthirsty leech, and anything but lovely.
“So?” I say, playing with my phone. “If you’re expecting me to go, you got it all wrong. I am not planning to go this year either.”
Caspian knows I neglected the event the last few years. He may have wondered why I insist on it so much but dares not ask. For that, I am thankful.
“Amilia, look.” Caspian sighs. “I know you don’t wish to go, but you have to, and this is the end of this idiotic conversation.
“You are going as my partner that night, and as you’re aware, I’m not mated, and I need a queen to rule,” he continues.
It seems like the only choice I have left is to run away again. Nevertheless, there is an issue.
Last year, I tried running away, and Caspian found me two days later, causing me to be grounded for three weeks.
“Which reminds me, starting from today onward, you will be with me 24/7, and don’t you even dare run away again.
“If you don’t obey, I will use my last resort, and you know what that is.” Caspian glares, pulling me from my thoughts.
Caspian isn’t taking me to that damn ball to find a mate. I don’t need one. What part of no don’t they understand? He will have to chain me if he wants me to go.
“Amilia, are you listening?” he asks, standing from his chair.
“Yes, I’m listening,” I grumble.
“Very well. Now let’s go,” Caspian orders.
“Where to?” I arch a brow.
Caspian doesn’t utter a single word, so I follow him out of his room. As we walk down the hall, I try to think of a way to escape.
I can’t have him take me to the ball; Caspian will use force on me if he has to. All that is left to do is outsmart him.
We arrived at the library twenty minutes ago.
The library is one of the most extensive libraries in the place; we get many visitors daily from different parts of the country. There are about 60,000 books, from black magic to all kinds of history.
Caspian said he had some work to do and we would stay here for a while.
I have my plans all ready to escape. I am just waiting for the perfect timing. And it comes when Raphael steps in with an urgent call, which requires Caspian’s presence. This is my cue.
“If Caspian asks where I am, you don’t know. Are we clear, Raphael?” I ask as I prepare a duffle bag with my stuff.
I remember that ages ago, my father showed me a passageway that led straight to the forest. It is the same one I use every year, and Caspian doesn’t know about it.
“But, Princess, this…,” says Raphael.
“That’s enough,” I mutter, staring straight into his green eyes.
Raphael is my right hand and my general. He was trained by assassins from a young age and was my mother’s bodyguard a long time ago.
After my mother’s death, he pledged his loyalty to me when I became their leader, and until now, he has been there serving me.
After I finish giving Raphael some orders, I make haste through the passageway I remember so well.
It’s a long underground passageway with no lights and no ventilation, but you can still hear everything that’s happening inside the castle.
This passage is only to be used in the event the castle is attacked, and we want to ambush the enemy. Otherwise, it remains unused.
As I head to the exit, I hear a familiar voice, and I freeze on the spot.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” Caspian asks in a low, gruff voice that any human would tremble at.
He sounds pissed as fuck.
“Amilia?” Caspian warns as I take a step out. “I’m asking you a damn question. Where are you going?”
“None of your business,” I respond, clutching the bag closer to my body.
“Stop lying, Amilia!” he hisses, getting closer.
I have my back to him, so I can’t see his face. Standing straight, I turn. “Or what?” I challenge. “You know I can kill you.”
Caspian’s lip twitches, and I feel the slap across my face before my back smacks against a tree. I look at him, stunned. How dare he slap me? He has never hit me before.
“I warned you,” he snarls, then pulls me by the hair.
Caspian doesn’t wait and drags me back to the castle. Once back in, I hear the rattling of chains nearby. My eyes widen as he grabs the chains and clasps them around my neck like a dog.
I wince, feeling my magic become subdued. The prickling feeling of burning on my neck has me wincing. It isn’t the first time he has done this.
Whenever I fail to follow orders, he ruthlessly chains me.
“Let me go, Caspian!” I scream.
“Shut up, Amilia. You brought this upon yourself.” Caspian tugs the chains, making me stumble into his arms. Then, with a swift motion, I am over his shoulder.
“Caspian, please let me down,” I beg.
I thought I could escape again, but he was fast, and now I’m chained, and I can’t even use my magic.
“Fuck you, Caspian! I hate you!” I shout.
He remains silent before mumbling an awkward apology.
“Sorry for what, for chaining me? Oh, don’t worry, I’ve had it worse,” I say, giving up my struggle.
The following days go fast, and Saturday morning arrives, the day of the famous ball. For the last four days, I’ve been staying in Caspian’s bedroom, waking up to his voice.
I roll down from the bed, looking like a bird’s nest. I sleepily look around the dark-blue-and-gray walls of the vast room.
Caspian’s bedroom is enormous. It has a round canopy bed, two armchairs, a fireplace, a bookshelf against the wall, a desk, a vast walk-in closet, a bathroom, and a small bar.
“Get up now, Amilia,” Caspian orders from the corner of the room where he stands with his assistant.
After breakfast, I spend the rest of the day getting ready for the ball. Caspian has the hairstylist groom me from head to toe so I can look decent for the evening.
Honestly, I haven’t been behaving at all during this insignificant beautifying moment.
I already smacked the shit out of one assistant, and I am beyond annoyed and pissed at everything they have done to me.
It may have looked like childish behavior, but it was a way to make Caspian regret his decision. I am a stubborn person, but I don’t care.
I am not happy; I feel sad, angry. All the pressure is making me return to those memories I want so desperately to forget.
I want to cry, but I promised I would never cry again for him. I won’t let that feeling be a weakness.
After two more hours of getting tossed around, I am ready.
I am standing in front of the mirror, and I won’t say I like it at all. I am not too fond of all that glamour and jewels.
“Your Majesty, you look lovely,” the hairstylist comments excitedly.
Without thinking twice, I slap the hairstylist right across her face.
A shout echoes through the room, and then Caspian appears, aggressively holding my wrist and making me wince.
I knew he was coming. That’s why I did it.
“Everyone out!” he orders, and I stand still, glaring at him like he is the most disgusting thing.
We stand quietly; I know he is furious.
“Sometimes I don’t recognize you, Amilia,” Caspian says from behind me.
“And sometimes I wish you weren’t my brother,” I retort.
Caspian flinches. I know my words hurt him, but I’ve had enough of everyone trying to pressure me. Even though I regret what I said, I won’t apologize to him.
Reaching for the silver collar around my neck, Caspian unclasps it and lets it drop, creating a dent in the wooden platform where I stand. And without looking my way, he walks away.
As I fall in behind him, I notice how handsome he looks in his silver suit with a side cloak and a small sapphire brooch on his neck instead of a tie. He has combed his hair attractively.
I am sure he will find his mate this night.
We both turn a corner before reaching the stairs, and Caspian holds my hand without saying a word. Finally, we descend the stairs where my grandfather stands waiting for us.
I didn’t know my grandfather would come. This means there is no way for me to escape once we reach the palace.
With a quick peck on Grandfather’s cheeks, we all get into the black SUV and drive away.
Glancing out at the road, I can’t help but feel nervous. I have an odd feeling that something terrible will happen tonight.
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