I'm not entirely happy with this chapter but since I'm not publishing it for a book [yet] and this is meant as a trial draft, I'll post it up soon so that you readers can enjoy the story as it is for now.
So while we wait for the usual 72 hours before the chapter goes live on Lit, here is a short peek at one of the most important points of tension that would follow through the next few chapters.
The ride home was a blur of movement, scent and heat. All she remembered after leaving Titus and the others was collapsing and feeling soft fur against her face –she barely got any sleep after tending to the children for two days straight. When she woke up, Lord Etienne was holding her in his arms; her head rested against his chest.
“You should wake up now,” he murmured into her hair. “I could hold you like this through the night… but there is a witch waiting outside my door.”
Rubbing her eyes, she tried to make sense of her surroundings - she had barely a minute before his study door flew open.
“My, my… I heard that my son had a human pet but I never thought those rumours were true!”
Rose saw the physical resemblance but apart from that, the two looked like they would rather kill than sit in the same room with each other.
“What are you doing here mother?” There was no joy nor heat in his voice. Lord Etienne simply kept a straight face for her benefit.
“Can’t a mother visit her son?” Lady Elisa purred but her attention was solely focused on Rose. Tracing a long claw over her face, the Pureblood then ran her fingers through Rose’s hair. “What beautiful hair you have my darling. I can imagine it fanned out behind you when you sleep. Isn’t she a beauty Etienne?”
“Keep your hands to yourself if you treasure them.” It was a gentle reminder.
Elisa clutched her chest, in an exaggerated show of sorrow. “Why do you always hurt your mother so? I have but one son! And my only family has no regard for my well-being.”
“I will not repeat myself mother. If you have no business here, please see that you leave tonight.”
“I don’t know why I put up with this abuse!” she wailed. “After all the trouble I’ve gone to select your future wife, this is the thanks I get?”
Wife? Her eyes immediately snapped wide open. Lord Etienne on the other hand barely turned his head. He was leaning against the window, the wind blowing his silver hair back.
“Etienne? Are you listening to me?” When she received only a blank stare, Lady Elisa continued; her eyes flicking from her son then to Rose. “In sixty days, your father’s current hold on these lands will come to the table for inheritance, as is the mourning customs of our kind. I do not wish to remind you my son that you have a duty to your people and your lands.”
Lord Etienne made no comment, his silence fuel to her temper. “Etienne! I will not stand to tolerate this insolence! I will send a Pureblood woman every two weeks and by the end of the sixty days, you are ordered to choose one to be your wife!” She was almost screaming. “If not… well, you will know the consequences.”
“Thank you mother. I will have you escorted out now.” He grabbed his mother by her arm, ushering her towards the door. “Your speech is starting to bore me.”
Rose only heard unintelligible screams and growls from behind the door; catching a glimpse of the Queen Mother with her hair aflame before Lord Etienne closed the door behind him.
“Please excuse my mother. She has no manners.” He moved closer to touch her; knuckles grazing her cheeks lightly. “Pay no heed to what she says Rose.”
“But it is your duty my Lord. Don’t you love these lands?” Rose looked down on the floor. This had to be said. “Someday, I will die and when I do, you will be alone.”
Another gentle caress on her cheeks. “Don’t say that.”
“I only say what is true.” Rose struggled to pull back her tears but her eyes betrayed her; a drop trickling down her cheek. “I was foolish to dream that something could happen between us. That was the child’s wish - but the woman, this woman, only wishes for you to do what is right.”
“Rose…” He tried to hold her but she had enough. Pushing past him, she let herself out before he had a chance to catch up to her.
Flicking back her tears, Rose ran all the way down to her room, finding the darkest corner to hide and dropping to her knees as she poured her frustrations away.