Author's Note: Hey guys!
So, I kind of got about the reaction I was expecting to the last chapter. It was SERIOUSLY rushed because I wasn't sure how to balance the filler chapters. I'm notorious for making filler chapters last too long and draw on until I'm not even willing to write them anymore, so this was my way of avoiding that, and I wanted to gauge your reaction.
This is the last chapter. That's it. A Vampire Queen is done.
I have started the long and tiring editing process, and the end will definitely be entirely revamped (pun intended) at some point in the next month or two. Then I'm going to look into various publishing methods. I'll probably self-publish locally and/or try my hand at selling this on the Kindle and other similar devices. Either way, I'll keep you all informed.
Thanks so much to everyone who has stuck with me this long. You have no idea how much your reviews and support have helped me keep going. Without you, I very well might have quit writing a long time ago.
Be on the lookouts for updates from me!
~ MichelleChapter 20
Nikolas came to Elaina's side slowly, and he gently touched her shoulder before running his hand down her back soothingly. He was silent for a while, then he said her name softly.
She ignored him.
"Come Elaina," he said again, his voice quiet and low. "The fighting has stopped. We must leave."
She shook her head. "Not without Phillip."
"We'll take him with us," he said, pulling her up and into his arms.
"My Lady Elaina," the princess said, not bothering to keep quiet. Elaina turned her head to look at her, not really seeing her, and not caring how she looked. She just wanted to go home. The princess bowed, dipping her head before looking back up. "I have had the man responsible for this arrested. He will be sentenced harshly for his actions. With my brother's death I am now responsible for the affairs of the fae on this world. It is a pleasure you meet you, Elaina, queen of the vampires. My name is Tiana."
She didn't know what to say, didn't think she could say much of anything, so she bowed her head and mumbled a "Thank you" before letting Nikolas turn and carrying her off. She curled into him, burying her head in his chest, and before long she had fallen asleep.
"Nikolas?" Elaina whispered, rolling over to look at him. He had spent the night with her to make sure she was okay, and while she thought the act was entirely unnecessary, she appreciated his company. More importantly, she appreciated not having to sleep in Phillip's room.
"How did you and –" She choked. "How did you reconcile with the demons?"
The bed sank as he moved to join her from where he'd been perched in the chair. "When we discovered that you'd been taken, which didn't take long, Phillip was enraged. He took off to the demons, assuming that they'd kidnapped you. I gathered a small army and followed so he wouldn't get himself killed. But the demons didn't have you, as you well know. Their king took the opportunity to convince the vampires to join him; he said he would help retrieve you if Phillip agreed to sign a treaty. He did without thinking, and he lead the attack on the fae."
She squeazed her eyes shut, not wanting to look at anything; all of this death was her fault. "Most of the fae were innocent," she whispered. "It was just their prince causing problems."
His hand touched her face, and she opened her eyes again to find him nodding. "I spoke with Tiana. She explained everything to me. She and the demon king have been in meetings for a while; they'll work everything out. The war is over, Elaina."
She shook her head. "Phillip is dead. It doesn't matter anymore."
"Elaina, you need to stop it right now," he said, his voice firm. "You did everything you could have done. Phillip died saving you; don't tear yourself apart or you disgrace him. You still have a race to lead, and I expect you to do it well."
"I don't want to. You're king now; you do it."
An arm slipped behind her back, pulling her up to sit properly. "No, Elaina. Not without you. You have an unprecedented amount of respect among your people. Don't let that go. Show them that you can recover from this, and they will be able to as well. I'm not going to let you sit here moping for the rest of eternity."
A tear fell slowly down her cheek, and she caught it on her finger, surprised. She thought she'd cried herself dry. "You really think that will help?" she asked.
He nodded. "Oh, very much so."
"But it hurts so much."
"It will. And it will always hurt. It should hurt; that means you really did love him. But he's gone now, and there isn't anything you can do to change things now. You have to pull yourself together and move on. Can you do that? For me?"
She was silent a moment, not knowing what to say. Then, at last, she took a shuddering breath, and nodded slowly. "Yes," she whispered. "But only if you help me."
He smiled then, leaning forward to kiss her forehead. "Of course."
Nikolas declared Elaina as his mate before they had done any sort of ritual for it, as she had done with Phillip. It was out of the question, he insisted, to replace her as queen just because Phillip had died. He was coronated, with no objections.
She tried to be more than just an empty shell for him, but those first few days were hard. She avoided the hall of royal rooms as much as possible, and spent much of her time in the library hiding herself away from the world. Tiana visited her once, but she remembered very little of the conversation.
It wasn't until Nikolas insisted they travel together that she became more of herself. He put Airell in charge of things as his regent while he took Elaina to India and told her wondrous stories of his travels when he was younger. They visited master vampires everywhere they went, brought more families, young and old, into the royal bond, and managed to get her mind off of everything.
When they arrived back in London at the end of that year, she actually felt normal. It was home. At last, she felt like she had a home, and she didn't have to worry about anything ever again. And she had her Master Ansley there with her for the rest of her days.