If he only knew I am a Black.. My heart aches, only increasing my doubts and guilt, I’m hiding it from him.. Should I tell him? I can’t stay here. After my job is done, I have to return to my brother. Will Eirik come with me? If he knew the truth, would he be willing to leave with me? To share me?

  • You again are lost in your thoughts, Sunshine. What eats you up?

He catches me again lost in my hesitation. We sit at a table and play a square mature game.

  • Why do you call me that?
  • Don’t you like it?

He tilts his one eyebrow up and brakes into the smile.

  • It’s just a weird name for a vampire.

We both share a short warm laugh. It’s so easy to be with him. 

  • You didn’t answer my question.

I sign. Of course he won’t let it go. He is back with a full seriousness.

  • You are right. I wanted to deliver the message, but I..

I stop, thinking how better to explain him. He cuts me off, takes my hands in his and speaks with a sincere concern.

  • I want to help you. You know, I care about you and I’m in debt to you. Just tell what you need and it will be done.

His eyes say he doesn’t lie. He brushes my hair from the face, tugs a strand behind the ear.

  • Let’s take a walk.

I suggest trying to calm myself. My heart hammers. I’m nervous about what’s to come next.

  • Eirikrinn, you are so kind. I appreciate that.. 

How can I explain to him that I am here to finish the existence of his good friend. I think it’s him. He is the Beast. Eirikrinn told me his friend is out of the palace, but he will be back in a while. I will wait. It has to be done. One on one. Without other sacrifices. Otherwise one more war will erupt and hundreds will die. On BOTH sides. Again! More clans will be involved and there will be big losses. It’s enough. Enough. I look up into Eirikrinn’s eyes looking for encouragement. None other than understanding creeps into my heart: Eirikrinn will never forgive me.

  • I’m not sure I will like it, but, please, continue.
  • If it was so simple.. 

I don’t look in his eyes. I.. I just can’t. I exhale silent and deep.

  • I will make it simple.

He stops me in place. Takes my chin and tilts it gently up letting our eyes meet. My heart vibrates and my body warms at his touch. 

  • Sunshine, what is the message? Let it go and you will feel better. It burdens your shoulders. I’ll find the way to help you. You are not alone.

My breath quickens. I want to share it with him, but I’m so afraid. What if he?.. He will hate me.

  • Are.. are you a prince? lord?

I look at him with pleading eyes. Please, say no. Say no. I again run from him. This time by changing our topic. It’s not what he asked and not what he was waiting for. I’m a coward. I’m not sure it’s the right call, but this thought was leading my night.

  • You are smart, Sunshine. Come. You will understand better. 

He points with his head to a nearby hall. We enter. Roof is white, decorated lavishly like a whole palace. Old walls and floors are destroyed, they had seen much better times. This place had to be gorgeous in its glory times. 

  • What is this place?
  • It’s my bonding hall.

He looks at me. Serious. Sad. His face changed. There is no softness.

  • You guessed right. I am a prince to become king after my father.

At the front grows a cherry tree. It blooms pink. It’s one more thing that catches my breath in this palace when I just thought I’ve seen everything.

  • I.. I don’t understand.. You are.. And this is.. It’s in ruins!

I am not able to form full sentences as my thoughts run like million powerful waterfalls. So I just state the fact. Every royal family has one bonding hall. It’s the most important royal place in the kingdom. It is the glory and pride of our land. I will use ours when I will be back to Black hill. Since Sorgedon is now becoming a king, he will want to tie us in an official bond. Till now it was optional.

  • But this hall.. You have to restore it! Your ceremony will be soon held here!

He shakes his head in denial.

  • Our family for generations never was blessed with daughters. We never used this hall.
  • You don’t have sisters. That makes sense now why you will enter an arranged marriage.

His eyes and face become like a stone, tensed and unreadable. There are no emotions. At least warm ones.

  • Who is she, Eirik? You could pick any commoner you like. It will weaken your blood, but you have a choice.

My heart stops as understanding on my words stings in my blood. I asked without thinking. Do I want to know? Do I? Really?

  • She is a princess.

My jaw drops and I have a feeling that I was stabbed right into my heart. 

  • How so?!. You don’t have sisters. Cousin?
  • We are not blood related.
  • I don’t understand, Eirikrinn.. Our world doesn’t work this way. You can bond with any woman except one of other bloodlines.
  • This marriage will never be a true bond. We won’t be using this hall, but hopefully our kids will have this honor. Sunshine, mine bloodline is dying. We can’t stick to the rules anymore.

He is angry, but it’s not turned towards me. I look at him in silence, in shock. I’m not sure how I feel about everything I hear. Finally I blink.

  • Your bride is here.
  • Who told you?! You met her?

His eyebrows shoot up in surprise. He is suddenly tense. His fingers curl in a fists. Eirikrinn which I know and adore just instantly faded. I swallow a lump.

  • I heard in the market. Your people are talking.

That’s it. He doesn’t deny it. My heart aches. So it is true. She is here. For him. He is the prince. His veins carry another bloodline. Fate is not on my side. Maybe never was. Some invisible creature tries to escape my body. We are enemies. We are supposed to be enemies!

My breath becomes shallow, head is dizzy. I refuse to believe in everything I’ve just heard. My back leans against the cherry tree for support as my vision starts to fade. The whole tattoo under Richard’s ring starts to glow. I hide it behind my back. Cherry trembles holding my body’s weight and her pink little leaves leave the tree and fall slowly down, reaching my head and then the floor.

  • It wasn’t pink snow.. 

I whisper in horror to the air. I lose control over my heart and breath.

  • I saw it, Richard. It’s this tree! THEY enchanted the dagger. Bastards!! 

I roar and dig my dagger into the trunk of the cherry.

  • Beast!!

Continue reading chapter 25