"You're actually here," Abyn laughed quietly, seeing his younger brother stride into the council room. "That's a miracle."
Christian took a seat next to Abyn and leaned into the table. "I figured I should start paying attention for when I have to do that kingly thing."
Abyn rolled his eyes, still smiling. Christian definitely was his favorite brother, even if he was complicated sometimes. "How have you been?"
"I can't complain." Truthfully, he could complain. He still hadn't heard anything from his mother about whether or not his father would even consider changing the marriage law. For the past two days, he'd spent his time in ethics meetings with his father and it was driving him ever closer to insanity. Luckily, he'd been able to see Lena. If he lost that, he'd truly go insane.
Before either of them got to say anything else, everyone in the council room heard the yelling coming towards them. They could all tell without any thought that it was Leyen. They weren't at all concerned, being as he was always yelling. But what concerned them was who he was yelling at. After he would yell, a soft but brutal female voice would yell back. They all began to wonder who he was yelling at but it was quickly put to rest as Leyen and the mystery woman got closer.
Abyn shot Christian a weary glance - their parents were arguing, and it did not sound tame. Normally, they'd argue but they'd never yell. Sometimes, their mother would yell but they had never heard their father yell back at her. Abyn was nervous about what was going on but Christian wasn't at all; he knew exactly what they were arguing about. Apparently his father didn't like the suggestion of changing the law.
"Just consider it for one moment!" Clarissa yelled back. "Don't be so stubborn!"
"I refuse to change the laws just to make things easy for him!"
"Leyen, he isn't ready!"
"He'd better get ready then, because I am not doing it!"
"You can give in just once, you know," Clarissa hissed. "It wouldn't kill you!"
"I can't believe you're even suggesting this!"
There was a pause in their yelling and Leyen stepped into the room, his eyes burning. He immediately looked at Christian. His lips curled back as he glared at his middle son.
"You, out here, now!" he growled loudly.
With a sigh, Christian stood up and walked to the other side of the room. As he passed his father, he felt a hand shove him out of the room. He glanced over his shoulder and narrowed his eyes at his father but he wouldn't raise his voice in the presence of a lady, especially not his mother.
"How dare you!" Leyen hollered.
"Leyen, stop it, this moment!" Clarissa commanded, grabbing Leyen by the arm and jerking him backwards.
Leyen glared angrily at his wife but his eyes shot back to Christian right away. "How dare you send her to ask me to change the damn law! Have you no pride?"
"You have more than enough for both of us," Christian spat.
"You're on thin ice, Christian," Leyen growled, his voice not nearly as loud but even more menacing than it had been before. He stepped towards Christian, his face only inches away from his son. "Be careful what you say to me."
Clarissa grabbed a handful of her husband's shirt and pulled his back from Christian. "Do not threaten our son!"
"Clarissa, this isn't your place." But Leyen didn't fight against her grasp or remove his eyes from Christian.
"He's my son."
This time, Leyen looked back at his wife, a sly smile coming to his face. "He's our son, Clarissa. And I would never do anything detrimental to him, you know that."
"Don't worry about it," Christian began, pushing past his father. "I'm leaving anyway."
Leyen grabbed Christian's arm and pulled him back. "You're not going anywhere."
With Clarissa glaring angrily at him, Leyen shoved Christian back into the council room and did not sit down until he was sure that Christian wouldn't make a run for it. He stood at the head of the table for a moment, just glaring angrily at his son. Everyone in the room - Abyn included - was incredibly afraid of Leyen at that moment. They all knew his temper well, and they all recognized the look on his face; he was about to blow and they all knew it.
"Today, I got some very disturbing news," Leyen began, his voice still dripping with anger. His eyes flashed to Christian and his lip curled again. "Well, I got a lot of disturbing news today but only some of it pertains to you all." He looked away from Christian and his face relaxed, which made Christian almost laugh. "We have word that Camara's northern border was invaded this morning."
Out of the corner of his eye, Christian saw Abyn tense up greatly. Christian rolled his eyes and slumped back into his chair. This was a military matter and he really did not need to be there. He considered getting up and walking out but he didn't doubt that his father would come right after him and try to drag him back inside. The easiest thing for him to do was just lean back and pray that he fell asleep.
"By who?" Abyn asked eagerly. Inwardly, Christian groaned.
"Maldova," Leyen muttered. He motioned to one of his aids and waited until the little man had unrolled a map in front of him on the table. Without saying thank you, Leyen waved the aid away. He pointed at the map, which Christian couldn't even see. Not that he cared. "They were breached here."
"They must be coming for us," one of the other men uttered, sounding more frightened than he should've.
"I agree." Abyn stood up and looked down at the map, his eyes roving over it quickly. Finally, he looked up again and Christian could see the worry in his eyes. "We should prepare for war."
"My thoughts exactly," Leyen declared with a hint of a smile. "Our forces will need to be immobilized and dispatched. I expect an attack in only a few days."
Christian scoffed loudly and everyone in the room looked at him immediately. Leyen's eyes were narrowed and Abyn looked very confused. The other occupants of the room looked more worried about him than anything else. They must've known that even this tiny outburst would set Leyen off.
"What was that for?" Leyen sneered.
"They're not going to attack us," Christian muttered. He rolled his eyes in disgust at his father's obsession with war. It seemed that when his father wasn't starting wars, he was pretending that other people wanted to start wars so that he could start his own. Christian was sick of it.
"How can you be sure?"
Christian rolled his eyes again. "Why go through Camara first?"
"It's the quickest way," Leyen said. He sat back in his chair and crossed his arms across his chest, his eyes burning into Christian. "How else would they get here?"
"They could come from the south. It would take longer but it'd be easier for them."
Abyn, who was still standing up, put his hands on his hips and stared down at his little brother. "That doesn't make sense."
"I agree," Leyen said suddenly, standing up. "And what I say goes. They're coming to attack us and we'll be ready. Abyn and I are both on this one and we're the ones who matter."
Christian also stood up. "Maldova can't fight us alone. They know it and we know it. Why would they go through Camara and risk half of their army before they even got here? They'd need everyone they had to fight us. Why would they do that when they could come from the south and gather aid on the way?"
The room was silent. The wheels in Abyn's head were obviously spinning wildly while Leyen was just glaring at his middle son. Not only had Christian spoken out of turn and proved a very good point, but he'd made both him and Abyn look very bad. Leyen was not pleased.
"He's right," Abyn said. He glanced down at the map again, as if the map would confirm or deny this. He nodded slowly. "He's right."
"Of course I am." Christian strode around the table and left the room, but not before clapping his father on the shoulder first. To this, Leyen only gave a very heavy, very violent glare.
Lena buried her nose in Christian's shoulder and breathed him in; he smelled like wood, horses and pine trees. She loved the way he smelled. Sometimes, she'd catch the scent of firewood and think he was around.
"Lena?" Christian yawned.
"Run away with me."
"Oh, not this again," Lena groaned, lifting her head and smiling at him.
Christian got down on his knees and took her hands in his. "Please, please, please! You'll never regret it. I promise."
"You're too persistent."
"C'mon. You know you want to."
Lena raised an eyebrow at him. "Christian, honestly, I can't believe you'd even suggest such a thing."
"You want to and you know it!" Christian sprang to his feet and grabbed Lena, gathering her up in his arms. With one arm across her back and the other behind her knees, he smirked down at her. "Now you don't have a choice."
"Christian! Put me down!"
"Nope," Christian laughed. He kissed her forehead and continued to smirk at her. "We're running away. That's final."
"Don't make me kick you."
"You wouldn't dare."
"Oh, I would. You know I would."
"Yeah, you probably would." Still smirking, Christian put Lena down, crawling on top of her. With one hand on either side of her shoulders, he looked down at her. "I still think we should run away."
"Not happening," Lena whispered, sliding a hand up his arm. Her hand stopped on the back of his neck and she ran the very tips of her fingers over his skin. When she saw Christian shiver slightly, she smiled and pulled him down into a kiss.
"Run away with me," Christian murmured, his lips still pressed lightly against Lena's. "We'd be out on our own and we could do this all day. It'd be... wonderful."
"It would be wonderful." Lena kissed him harder, not wanting to let him go. She would've run away with him, especially at that moment. She was mesmerized by him and, had he been serious, she would've followed him anywhere.
Both Lena and Christian froze at the voice yelling his name. Christian pulled back from Lena immediately and looked in the direction that the voice had come. There stood Marco, watching them. Christian's muscles loosened greatly and he glared at his father's aid.
"Marco, get out of here!" Christian ordered. But Marco didn't move.
"Your father won't like this, Christian."
"He won't find out because you won't tell him," he growled threateningly.
"He doesn't need to tell me," a cold voice uttered. Leyen stepped into view, trailed by Clarissa. "I'm seeing it all for myself."
Christian's eyes shot from Leyen to Clarissa and back again, but they finally stopped on Clarissa and burned into her. She'd told, he knew that she'd told. He felt Lena's hands digging into him and he could almost feel her shaking beneath him. He didn't know what would happen next but he knew it would be bad.
"Get up!" Leyen yelled, kicking Christian in the side. He grabbed Christian's collar and pulled him to his feet, glaring at Lena. "You too. Get up!"
Lena got to her feet, tears already slipping down her cheeks. Her lower lip was trembling as she stared at Christian. She could feel the king staring at her but she couldn't look away from Christian. Christian was looking at her too, though his gaze was broken. His eyes kept flitting from Leyen to Clarissa to Lena, over and over again. He felt it inside - it was all going to get much worse.
Dot Cubed: I don't mind the late reviews, I just love that you're still around. You've always been one of my favorites! And yeah, things won't be easy to Christian. But already knew that and me telling you that doesn't ruin anything. Easy is boring though. Right? So tell me, have you been taking care of Rock? The other day, I considered writing another Ally and Trent story. But then I came to my senses and shuddered. It could happen though, you never know with me! Haha!
Thanks to the others who reviewed! The Wicked Storm, Looking For You, thanks!