Authors: Ashley Nemer
lec pulled into the driveway of Zayn and Nikole’s home, ready to unload all of her items and say goodbye to the Royal Family forever. He couldn’t agree to stay here, and he was a fool for thinking he even deserved to have her in his life. He parked the truck and stepped out onto the pavement. Something seemed wrong about wanting to stay with her, but Alec couldn’t tell if it was simply that he wasn’t good enough or if it was a greater issue.
He began unloading Nikole’s things from the truck when servants stepped out of the house and made their way toward him. They moved him out of the way and began taking care of her things, insisting that he
not lift a finger. This was just another reminder of what he would be moving into. He couldn’t let a person wait on him. That went against his nature, against how he had been for as long as he remembered.
“I have that, let me take it,” he said to one of the men as he pulled Nikole’s suitcase away from them. He walked up the pathway and across the threshold of the house; everything looked like it had when he was last there. He had heard what Zayn did when they left last time. He
was surprised that the contractors were able to put everything back to the original settings.
What was I thinking? I
don’t even stand a chance belonging,
he thought to himself as he walked along the walls of the upstairs, looking at the paintings of Zayn and Nikole’s ancestors. The portrait right outside of Nikole’s room was her abb, King Tamman. How could he stay here knowing what happened to Tamman and his queen the night he let Haydar go free?
Alec set Nikole’s suitcase down and dropped to one knee. He lowered his head and placed his hand over his heart. The grief he was feeling overtook his body as the memories of entering the royal army came flying back.
He’d sworn allegiance and fealty. How could he act as if he lived up to his word knowing now what had happened because of his lack of action?
“Alec Palermo, rise and come forward to accept your place in our military,” King
Tamman announced to the audience in the throne room. Alec stood up from his seat and moved to the front where the pillow awaited him to kneel on. Reaching his king, he dropped his right leg to the plush, purple pillow, lowering his head and placing his right hand across his heart and his left hand on the king’s right fist, above his ring.
“Alec, do you swear allegiance to the throne and the Royal Family?”
“Do you swear to uphold the safety of the Algula people before all others?”
“Do you swear that no self-interest or personal vendetta will come between you and your duties to protect the crown?”
took his sword and placed it on each of Alec’s shoulders, knighting him with the narrow width of the blade. “Please rise, Sir Palermo. Take your place at the knights’ table.”
Alec stood and walked toward his peers. He took his seat in the open chair they had set aside for him. He knew he had finally achieved the highest honor bestowed
on someone not in the Royal Family, and pride filled his body. He looked out to the witnesses and saw his Annah smiling at him. The warmth in her face was all he needed to see to know he was doing the right thing.
Not only had Alec gone back on his word, which had been punishable by death, but
he’d sworn it in front of Annah. Now for him to even think about being with King Tamman’s bent was treason. He brought her suitcase back up in his hands and pushed open her bedroom door. He started to simply set the suitcase on the bed when he decided he just couldn’t leave. He opened the case and started to remove her clothing. One by one, he hung the items up in her closet. He arranged them just like she had them at his place. The colors each separated and placed together in groups, just like she liked them.
“Master Alec, are you in here, sir?” one of the servants called out as he pushed the door open. Alec turned to the
door and looked at the servant.
“Yeah, I’m in here.” The servant was nervous about something. His behavior was off, and with the appearance of unfortunate news evident, his nerves started going on edge. “Is something wrong?”
“Miss Nikole called and notified us that you are to stay for dinner, and I was to make sure to tell you. She sounded upset on the phone, and I thought I heard Master Zayn’s voice in the background.”
“Thank you, but I
won’t be staying for dinner. Tell your mistress that I will speak with her later on. I’m going to finish unpacking her things then leave. You’re dismissed.”
The servant gave a slight bow then departed. Alec pulled out the next suitcase and started putting away the remaining items. As he placed the last of her lingerie in the drawer, he closed it and sat down on her bed.
I can do this; I can be strong
. He knew he had no other choice but to end the relationship, as much as he didn’t want to.
He left her room and headed back down to his truck. The servants
didn’t say a word to him as he loaded up and started driving out of their secured fence.
he three of them rode in the car in silence. No one wanted to speak first, knowing where the conversation would lead. Adara, the baby. Zayn’s return, while needed, was a shock to Nikole. She hadn’t expected to see him back, let alone find out that he and Adara were having a child. Had he known this when he left? Surely not.
She pulled out her cell phone from her pocket and started to dial the main servant’s line to let him know Alec would be heading there and to ask him to stay for dinner.
She had things she needed to finish discussing with him before he left. She looked at her akh sitting in the front seat, his body thin and frail looking. She couldn’t help the sadness she felt after everything that happened today.
“Why did you leave, Zayn?” She broke the silence with
the one question everyone had on their mind, even Zayn.
“I don’t know, Nikole.
I really don’t know.”
were gone for three months, not a word from you. You could have been dead, and no one would have known.”
“I don’t need to be questioned or lectured, Nikole. I am your king;
don’t forget that.”
“You are my akh first, and I care.
Don’t tell me what I need or don’t need. Who do you think has been taking care of things while you were gone? Me! You owe Nasir and me an apology and a fucking explanation.”
“I told you, I
don’t know. I just left. You both left me, and I couldn’t face life like that. You left me to go live with someone we don’t even know, saying I couldn’t protect you. How was that supposed to make me feel? You know what it’s been like for us without Mama and Baba, and you throw that in my face!”
“Can you blame me? Because of your hard headed stubbornness, I
was kidnapped and tortured. Alec saved me. Where were you during all of that? You let Derrik take me, right in front of your eyes!”
“Let him take you?
You really think that I would just let anyone take you? My own flesh and blood?”
“You drove me to him. You kept saying I
wasn’t good enough to be in the military, that I would get hurt and something would happen. You didn’t trust me to be smart enough.”
“SOMETHING DID HAPPEN,
NIKOLE! YOU WERE KIDNAPPED!!”
Nasir stayed quiet as he knew they both had anger and needed to say these things. It was killing him, hearing the two he loved like his own spewing venom at each other. He tried to block it out, but the hurt and pain inside of him wanted him to speak out and stake his claim on the both of them.
“I never would have been kidnapped if you hadn’t pushed me like that, Zayn, and you damn well know it.”
“Yes, you would have. You led him right to our house, and you left your
scent all across town showing him just how to get to our home! And yet you blame me for not keeping you safe? Are you crazy? Do you have any sense of self-preservation?”
“The night I went out, I
was pissed off at you. THIS is entirely your fault. If you had just let me be the person I am, none of this would have happened!”
“What do you want me to do? Let my little okht, my ONLY relative left, go fight so I can watch her die? No! FUCK that!”
“Even after all this drama and mess you have caused, you’re still going to be an arrogant, controlling asshole? Pathetic!”
“Watch your tone Nikole, or I’ll show you just how kingly I am. Just because I am your okht
doesn’t mean you get to disrespect me. This conversation is done. I do not answer to you. I answer to no one! Thank you for taking care of things in my absence, but your service in this matter is no longer needed.”
Nikole sat there with a blank stare on her face. What had he just said to
her…she was no longer needed? “How. Dare. You.” She turned her back to him and quietly told Nasir, “Pull over. I’m going to walk the rest of the way.”
Nasir started to slow the car when Zayn put his hand onto Nasir’s shoulder. “You let her out of this car, and it will be your head. We are going home. All of us.”
“Screw you,” Nikole said as she flashed herself out of the car and a few hundred feet away from the road. She would not be held hostage again.
NIKOLE!” Zayn shouted as he watched his okht disappear. “How can she do that? She disobeyed me.”
“If I may, Zayn, she
didn’t so much as disobey you as exert herself. She’s been the acting queen since you left, and because of that she feels she is entitled to some respect. She has done an excellent job handling things while you were out, and I think you need to give her credit for that.”
“You think I need to give her credit
. Even after three months of being a ruler, she still acts like a child.”
“And you don’t think it was childish to leave? You destroyed the house, flooded thousands of years’ worth of artifacts, and you are calling her the child?”
“Watch your tone, old man.”
“Kill me if you want, but I promised your parents I would treat you as my own, and
that’s what I am doing. You are being selfish, and you need to quit. You have caused your okht to feel isolated, hurt the woman you love, and possibly hurt your child. Stop and look at yourself before you cast judgment onto Nikole.”
“I don’t have to listen to this.”
“No you don’t, but you need to hear this. What would your abb say? Would King Tamman look down on you and say, ‘That’s my boy!’ or would he knock some sense into you? This is not the Zayn I watched him raise.”
don’t understand what it’s like watching everyone you love walk out on you. You don’t understand.”
“I don’t? Do you see me with a wife? Have you ever met any of my lovers?”
“There is a reason for that. One you are not yet ready to hear. You assume too much, and you do not think about your actions clearly. I’ve watched you lecture Nikole for centuries about her decisions and hold her to this high standard, but the truth of the matter is
you’re just as bad. And this past few months’ antics of yours proves me correct.”
didn’t say anything; he stared at the dashboard, trying to compile his thoughts. Was what Nasir said true? Was he as bad as Nikole? He couldn’t be. She was constantly in trouble; he was the one always having to save her.
“I’m nothing like her.”
“Keep telling yourself that. Maybe one day it will be true, but you both are born from the same parents, your DNA is hers. You two share more than just a name. Haydar’s blood is inside both of you, too. Do you think he was the only one in your family with a temper? Your parents just taught you two better manners and how to be good. That doesn’t mean all of you are not alike in some way.”
“I am not him. I never could do that to my family or my people. We share nothing.”
“If that was true, then Nikole would be here right now with us, and you would not have hurt her like you did. I watched what Haydar did to your omm over and over, the tears she cried. Don’t forget who you are talking to. I’ve been around a long time. Just because you know right from wrong doesn’t mean you don’t share that. Remember, your gedi took over as king and changed what your ancestors had started; he wiped out the old ways and started anew. Those family traits don’t just vanish. Haydar’s hate and evil are very real and can be very alive in your blood if you let it. You don’t just change your DNA, change your way of thinking, but not what makes up your heritage and being.”
is done. Once you drop me off, you will go back to the hospital and sit with Adara. She is not to be alone. The moment something happens, you call me, and I will come.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
ikole watched as their car drove away from her. Those things Zayn said were wrong and cruel. She wanted to think that he only said them because he was in pain. Hopefully, he didn’t mean them. Hopefully, he didn’t think of her like that.
What is it going to take to prove
myself to you, Akh?
She started to flash her way back home, stopping every couple hundred feet to take a moment and enjoy nature.
She had a feeling this would be the last time for a few weeks she would have time to herself. What with Adara in the hospital and Zayn back, there would be a lot going on at the house.
What was she going to say to Alec? She
didn’t want to let him go. He had become as essential to her as breathing. She depended on him for strength and comfort. Maybe he would change his mind and stay? She didn’t understand why he felt as if he didn’t belong with her. They had a lot of fun every moment they interacted with each other.
Maybe he didn’t love her; maybe it was his late wife? Could that be it? Could it be he couldn’t find the ability to love two women?