A voice sang softly in the background, sounding so lost and vulnerable.
I opened my sleep deprived eyes, looking around the room and not comprehending for a second what my eyes were seeing.
"Ariel?" I questioned, seeing her walking around, singing softly to herself. "You okay, Angel?"
She either did not hear my question or chose to ignore it as she continued on singing.
She was twirling around in circles with enthusiasm, but her eyes were closed and under them were deep purple bruises.
She looked hauntingly beautiful and my heart ached for the torture she's going through. Judging by the hourglass, it's been a few days since this game started and it looked like she was going to drop on to the ground any minute now.
I guess the only things keeping her awake is sheer determination to save Trenton. And that itself is a puzzle. I didn't know if she's driven by guilt or if it's the mate bond, but she's adamantly ignoring the rest of us for the time being.
So far, the group has been divided into two sides.
Cameron, Leon, and Scott has been trying to convince Ariel for the past few days to end the deal and let Trenton be killed. They never did harbor any feelings or care for Trenton in the first place.
Orion and I kept quiet, neither encouraging or discouraging her from the turmoil she threw herself into. It was clear, at least to the both of us, that no words would compel her to change her mind.
"She's not going to make it," Cameron murmured, drawing my attention away from Ariel who was now humming a familiar tune under her breath. If singing songs and dancing around was her way of getting through this, then so be it.
Cameron was watching the red sand slowly moving down the hourglass as it was a time bomb. "There's no way she's going to make it, Arlo."
He regarded me with solemn eyes which conveyed deep worry and sadness for her. "It's impossible to win this challenge and you know it. No living being has or ever will survive this. There’s just no way, man.”
I sighed, tearing my eyes away from the hourglass to look at Ariel once again. It was tiring just watching how tired she looked, as she paced the whole of the basement.
"I know," I muttered, watching as she twirled around the basement floor, pretending to be a ballerina. Her dance moves were ghost-like and I found it eerie, as if she was in a trance.
Each step was made with careful calculation as she was trying to move at the same time, her left foot with her left hand, and vice versa.
From across the room I spotted Trenton and sighed when I realized that he was still staring at the ground as if he was about to drill a hole into it.
From the day this damned game began, Trenton refused to speak to any of us, making it hard to pinpoint what he actually wanted. He asked for death but now that he's close to Death's door, is it still something he desired?
"Then tell her that," Cameron growled lowly to me. I raised an eyebrow by his sudden anger. "She's playing an impossible game right now, basically asking for death. She's never going to make it."
"You know as well as I that it's impossible to defer her from her actions," I said, glancing at Orion and Leon on the other side of the basement. They both wore devastated expressions on their faces but Leon's held more anger in it than Orion's.
"Leon's pissed," Cameron murmured to me, also watching him with caution. "If I didn't know better, I would say he's mad about the game that Lucius is playing with her."
I sighed, giving him a look. "But you do know better."
"Yea," he answered, sounding bitter but sad. "He's obviously mad that Ariel told the truth about what's going on to Orion rather than him."
"Jealousy is an unbecoming look on him," I agreed. "The vampire is in love with her."
"And that just sucks," he grumbled out. "Already Trenton is close to his demise. Doesn't Leon realize the danger he's putting himself into if Lucius finds out?"
"Love is an abnormal feeling, Cameron," I said, thinking about my family back home. "Consequences be damned when love comes to play."
Cameron snorted loudly.
"What?" I raised my eyebrows looking at him in confusion.
"Nothing," he smirked, a playful look in his eyes despite the tension in the room. "It's just that sometimes you sound like an old man, parting us with wise words. How old are you really, gramps?"
I snorted, letting his comment slide. "Same age as you, grandson." He gave a short laugh but other than that remained silent. The smile on his face disappeared however when he regarded Ariel again.
"I don't blame her for not telling us," he slowly said, cringing with his next words. "If I can, I would undo hearing what she's going through with Lucius. I know it's wrong of me to say that, but it's the truth. It's too much, you know?"
His eyes were filled with unshed tears and I nodded absently, picking at the thread of my shirt. Over the years, if Lucius ever felt the mood, would give us new clothes to wear. They happened on rare occasions and only when he was in an extremely good mood.
I should've known something was wrong because despite us getting clothes once in a blue moon, the monster loved to bring dresses for Ariel to wear practically every day.
Even now, the short pink flowery dress that reached mid thighs was one she just got two days ago. I should've known by the clothes Lucius gave her, that something bad was taking place behind doors.
The dresses itself were revealing. The pink dress she wore at the moment looked almost see through with a plunging neckline that revealed the top part of her breasts.
She was quite...beautiful and unfortunately, I wasn't the only one who noticed.
She was slowly growing up in front of our eyes and Lucius was for sure taking advantage of that.
"Arlo?" Cameron asked and I turned to look at him and nodded to his previous question.
"I wish I didn't have to hear the truth either, but it would be a lie if I told you that I was surprised by it," I said, giving him a look. "And don't tell me you had no idea about any of this. We all did and sadly enough, we ignored it and tried to keep it at the back of our mind. It was our way of coping in this situation."
"I-," Cameron flushed, but shook his head at me after not being able to complete his phrase. He scrunched his eyebrows before looking up at me with new determination."I want to kill him. I want to kill that bastard for what he's done, no doing to Ariel."
I smiled with no humor. "Get in line, son."
I should feel guilty, shouldn't I? The only reason why Ariel was suffering this much was because of me. The stupid girl wants to keep me alive for whatever reason, and that's why she agreed to this insanity.
Didn't that idiot realize she's playing a losing game? Lucius is just messing with her, and she's the fool that believes she can do the impossible. Staying away for even ten days is insane, but thirty. Guaranteed death right there.
Did she honestly expect to stay awake for thirty days with barely any food or water? And even if she somehow miraculously won, wouldn't the lack of sleep muddle her brain functions?
I don't know if anyone else noticed it, but the princess is going a little stir crazy; more crazy than she already was, I mean.
Every once in a while, while she did her spooky dancing shit, she'll stop and cock her head to the side.
The words "no," spilled from her lips more times than I can count and half the time I'm looking around the basement, certain that Lucius is hiding somewhere in the room.
I don't know if she sees or hears something that the rest of us can't understand, but it's freaking the ever loving hell out of me. Is she having hallucinations because of her lack of sleep or is something more sinister at play?
Whatever it is, it's making the guilt churn in my stomach. I didn't ask to be saved. So why the fuck should I feel guilty for something she chose to do?
Because she's my mate.
I grimaced, staring down at the floor. I hated that word.
God, out of everyone in the room, why the hell did the Moon Goddess, if there is one up there, choose me as her mate?
I'm too good for her, I told myself a million times, but I knew that was a fucking lie. The fact is, she's too good for me.
Hell, too good for everyone. She's a fucking saint and that's what pisses me off the most. Even if she's the one who's enduring the most physical and mental pain, it's always her that'll try to comfort the rest of us.
Like the time, she healed Cameron's shredded hand when one of Lucius' henchmen used a grater on it.
Or when she took care of Orion when he was down with a fever that nearly killed him.
Or a year ago, when she called Lucius a monster, so that his anger would be directed towards her rather than Scotty, who was then just starting to learn to control his mouth.
The list could go on and on for days with it ending with Ariel playing this dreadful game on my behalf. I should feel sorry for her and I do, but part of me feels resentment. I didn't like the guilt that I was feeling, especially because I was powerless in this situation to stop it.
I took a peak at Ariel who was still walking around in aimless circles. She looked so lost, walking around in circles like a lunatic. The image she presented was indeed disturbing but also slightly...alluring?
I don't know. I'm not a damn poet.
Although, the way the thin pink dress clung innocently to her body made my hands itch and certain body parts within me to ignite. And I didn't like it one bit.
I didn't like how my body reacted to hers or how the fucking bloodsucker kept looking at her as if she belonged to him. Hell I didn't like it when Lucius put his filthy hands on her as well.
Fuck. I hated the jealousy swirling in me but worse, I hated that I felt this way in the first place.
The only one I swore I would ever care for in this world is Charlene.
Regret and anger slammed through my gut just by thinking of her name.
In a way, the princess reminded me so much of my Charlene. Both were strong, independent girls but in their own way.
Charlene was mentally strong, while Ariel carried the physical strength and power.
If these two were born with their strengths reversed, they would have fared better in the world. Ariel wouldn't be suffering so much for everyone else if she had better control of her emotions.
And Charlene, if she was born with Ariel's strengths and power, wouldn't have suffered my pack's mistreatment that eventually…
I shuddered, stopping myself from thinking along those lines.
Maybe that's why I hated Ariel so much when I saw her. Her powers was not something I wanted. It was something I wished Charlene would've had from the moment she was born.
If only Charlene had what Ariel had, she would've been still alive in this world. She would've been treated by the pack with love and respect, not disgust and disdain like how she was treated.
And that's why I hated Ariel...at first. The girl, with her perfect blonde hair and flawless face; I didn't understand why a pampered girl like her held so much power in the first place.
She grew up in a loving home...why give more advantages for the perfect, little princess?
Now however, looking at her, I didn't know what to think. Ariel wasn't the person that I thought she was at first. It's hard to hate someone like her, who has a heart of pure gold.
She's already trying to protect me, suffering this much for me, but it's too late.
Because just like Charlene, I've reached my breaking point too.ns 220.127.116.11da2