I was having the greatest dream, featuring a particular Alfa-male.
It was delicious while it lasted, I didn’t even get to see dream-Apollo bare his chest! He was in the middle of unbuttoning his shirt when I was ripped out of the dream. I woke to guards bursting into our small bed chamber.
I scream as they grab me and Mort, dragging us out of our beds like fugitives. Exclamation marks fire off in my head and complete confusion overwhelms me. It isn’t until we are taken to a dark and spine-chilling room that we are chained to the wall.
“What is happening?!” I yell, eyes welling up with tears. They are hurting me as they lock chains around our ankles, jerking us around like ragdolls. Mort hisses at them then suddenly the guards laughs, leaving without a single motive why they did this to us. This is bad. It smells like urine and the ground is cold and wet. I glance at Mort, breathing hard. “What happened?!” I yell and look around the obvious dungeon. There are bars on the only window high up on the wall and there is a bowl sitting in the corner, probably a chamber pot.
I start to panic.
“I am finding out right now,” she says, eyes narrowed in anger. Mort starts to blink and she is still able to type in her invisible computer with her left hand. She growls, “I knew it.”
“Knew what? What happened? Did we do something wrong?!” I ask impatiently.
“Yes,” she sighs “Leenie, Laura’s agent knew it was us and is threatened. I guess she can sense Apollo’s infatuation with you.”
It takes me a second for my brain to get up to speed. “Wait, slow down. You think Apollo is infatuated with me? And how is that related to this?”
I’m smart enough to know he definitely thinks I’m cute, but infatuated?
“I do, he has been since the moment he saw you,” she says and keeps typing. “You had Peirce singing halleluiah in my earpiece, and by the way, that man has a horrible voice. So thanks for that. Not that I would ever botch a mission just so Peirce would shut up, but I definitely thought about it.”
I raised a brow at her. “Focus.”
“But Apollo’s attraction for you is a red alert for Leenie, she is a very sore loser, trust me. When she plays, she is out for blood. In our world, it’s a very big deal when our team wins. A showcase of talent and rank. If I were to guess this has something to do with that which is not good.”
“Oh please, we did not do anything bad,” I continue, “for crying out loud, I was attacked by dogs! What could they possibly say to get us in trouble?”
I feel my anger boil.
Mort gives me a dry look. “Clearly you lack a sufficient imagination.”
I didn’t want my mind to go there. “What did Peirce say?”
Mort shrugs and tilts her head back against the cold wall. “He is unable to tell that confidant information about another player. But he did say it does not bid well for us.”
“Isn’t competing against each other like this making things worse? Going against Fairy Godmother’s cause? Like, if Apollo really is into me wouldn’t this tamper with that?”
“No.” Mort says flatly and starts to blink again. “Fairy Godmother Inc. believes that in competition and pushing someone to their limit will produce the best version of themselves— or the worst. They want to see the true colors.”
“They want that one person who rises above the challenge, a worthy induvial who has what it takes to rule beside an Alfa-male figure. She must over-come obstacles and fight back.” She glances at me. “We learned that in our training.”
“Well geez, if you put it like that.”
If Fairy Godmother Inc. likes the competition then I need to up my game, I was an athlete in high school so I understand how a little competition can bring out the superhero in you. We both tense as we hear foots steps coming down the stone stairs then the clear sounds of the metal door being unlocked. I grab Mort’s hand and she squeezes it.
The Headmaster of all people saunters in, her long dark gown looking malevolent with all the shadows it casts. She must be here to tell me what world of hurt I’m in for.
“Awe there they are,” she says and I am surprised acid is not dripping form her lips.
She looks like a wolf and is followed by gruff looking guards
“What have we done headmaster to deserve this?” I ask meekly, head lowered.
I can hear the swish of her skirts and she kneels in front of us. “Raise your head slave.”
I do and I am greeted with pure revulsion in her dark gaze, her lips chapped and pale. “I knew from the moment I saw you that something was off, but I just could not figure it out. I have very respected sources that say they caught you multiple times pinning for his grace’s attention. For that reason alone is why I rarely keep slaves as comely as yourself here at the castle.” She continues as she glances around the room. “Eye contact with the royal family is forbidden on the highest level and this you should know already! I should have seen the red flag sooner, a beautiful girl without a past?” She laughs, her eyes seeming to bulge out of their sockets. “If you are a spy then you will be dealt with in a lethal manner. I shall inform his Grace of our allegations. His Grace is very sensitive to Infiltrators, seeing how his Majesty has fallen ill.”
“I am not a spy—”
Speckled blackness clouds my vision as pain erupts on the side of my face. I glance back to the Headmaster in shock. She is still holding up her leather whip like she will do it again, and she did, even harder this time. I scream as my neck jerks so hard to the left I feel it crack.
I feel warm liquid run from my nose down to my chin.
“Speak again without being asked I will crush it,” she hisses with a smile.
If she didn’t already.
She stands and I think I hear her saying that I cannot leave this place until Prince Apollo returns from his raid, outlaws on the outskirts of Garthorn. I could be in here for weeks. My vision swam and my head pounds in furry. The pain is so great I feel numb. I hear Mort calling my name but no good, I pass out cold.
Light as a feather.
It has been four days and I feel weak.
I have been drinking barely enough of questionable water and stale bread to stay alive.
Mort has been doing her best with her shape-shifting abilities, morphing into random bugs to see what was happening outside this dungeon cell. She has been gone for hours now and I am about to lose my mind. I just keep running scenarios of payback, revenge.
Mort finally returns, I can see the little butterfly fit under the metal door and flutter in. “Mort!” My voice cracks.
She materializes next to me, her face pale and out of breath. “I was almost eaten by a cat.”
“Oh geez,” I whisper, feeling dizzy.
“It’s nuts out there, the castle staff is preparing for a grand masquerade in honor of Apollo’s safe return and victory.” Mort says and smiles at me.
I jerk up with a slight burst of energy. “He’s back?! He’s back!”
“Yes. For a few hours now and I happened to be there when the Headmaster told him of your situation. Which, lead me to almost being eating by the cat. I was not paying attention because I was listening to the conversation, I didn’t want to miss anything.” Mort looks sick again and shivers. “Do you know how big cats look when you’re this big?” She holds up her fingers to show me the size of butterfly she was.
“Mort,” I moan. “What did he saaaaay?!”
She’s killing me softly.
“Well, he pushed past the Headmaster pretty aggressively and is headed here, I think. I had to fly through short cuts to get here this fast, I was having trouble with the coordination of my wings, kept flying into the wall. I also flew into a window, which actually really hurt. Because you know it would be bad if he beat me here and I was still a butterfly,” she gave me a pointed look.
I shake my head. “He coming here now?!”
My heart kicks to life.
I didn’t know I mattered that much to him.
We both gasp as the door is forcefully thrown open and Apollo’s figure fills the doorway. My heart stops at the sight of him. I always forget what a striking force he is. I can see his eyes widen even in the darkness. He slowly walks in, his chest rising and falling at a rapid rate. That’s when I notice myself. I am laying on the ground with my hair splayed everywhere, soaking wet from some drain dripping to my left. I stopped caring yesterday, or was it the day before? I don’t have the energy to lift my head so I leave it.
Apollo kneels down next to me and glances up at Mort. “Are you hurt?”
She shakes her head no.
“I can see the same isn’t the so for her,” he barely says, his jaw flexing.
I barely peak up and see two guards come running in along with the Headmaster. Apollo turns and the look he gives the Headmaster makes her clutch the cloth at her neck. “Un-chain them now,” he orders.
I can see the confusion written on the Headmaster’s face. “Your Grace, she is supposed to be a spy!”
“From now on you do nothing unless you consult with me or my advisers.” He commands. “I will decide what her intentions are, not you. You have no authority.”
I would have swooned if I was not already on the ground lying in muck. He glances back and I feel his hand softly touch the bruise on my cheek. He is looking at me like I am a delicate little flower that was dropped in the mud.
He lifts me off the ground and I am carried, my memory fading in and out.
I’m safe though.
His body heat warms mine and I never want him to let me go, I can smell the spicy sent of him. Yum. I almost moan in protest when he hands me off to the medical staff to clean me up and to see to my wounds, yet again.
Though I do see him watching me until I am out of view.
I think that’s a good sign.