Audric ran a hand through his hair. This wasn’t good. He wasn’t so much concerned with Charlotte leaving, but with Mason’s new found power. He had said that he sold his soul to the devil. What could that have meant? Who was powerful enough to bestow power on to someone else? How was Mason able to outsmart him, was a better question. Maybe he was looking for his enemy in the wrong place. Who was his enemy? Altiere? Mason? The council? Upon opening the door to his mansion, he was bombarded by a clingy Astra. She peppered his face with kisses, something that irked him about her. She always wanted to touch him. When he was in the mood for her slender fingers against his skin, he’d welcome it with open arms. But now wasn’t the time. He felt no desire, simply anger.
“Honey, what’s wrong? What did Charlotte say?” Audric swatted her hands from his body. She looked up at him, tears stinging her eyes. He wasn’t sure if it was from him, or the altercation she had had a few minutes earlier with Charlotte.
“I’m sorry,” He mumbled, looking away from her. He adored this woman, but sometimes, sometimes it was too much. Maybe he wasn’t capable of loving another person. He kept telling himself that Astra was not Sierra. Things would not go down the same way.
“It’s okay,” She whispered back. But, he could hear the tears in her voice. Had he not been patient with her all this time? Could she not give him five minutes to himself to formulate a new plan. “What happened?”
Her eyes widened in shock, and she jumped from her seat. “What did he do? You see, Audric? I told you! I told you!” Her hysterics got the better of herself and she crashed to the floor crying even harder. She could see Charlotte’s figure walking away, over her little sister’s shortcomings. Did she make a mistake? Her heart twisted in her chest.
“Relax,” He breathed. “For just one second, and don’t make accusatory statements.”
“You made a mistake, didn’t you? By trusting him?” She looked up at him, eyes puffy and red.
Audric ran his hand through his lavender hair. “We made a mistake,” He corrected. “We’re a team now, remember?”
“No.” She shook her head. “I told you not to trust Mason. But you didn’t listen. You just distracted me with pretty dresses and a dance.”
He took a step backwards from her, eyes shut tightly. “I’ve given up everything to be with you, Astra. The least you could do is trust me when I make a decision. It may not always be correct, but it is my decision.”
“So I just sit back and listen to what you tell me to do?” She demanded. “I let this man come into our house and destroy everything? I am your wife! You have to trust me!”
Audric’s hands were shaking. This was the first time he had found himself arguing with Astra, and it was a terrible feeling. “No. You’re not my wife. Don’t you recall turning me down when I proposed?” He hadn’t meant to sound so vicious. He took in a deep breath. “I will be in my study. I’d appreciate being left alone, unless there is an emergency.”
“Yeah, whatever,” She mumbled.
Before Audric left, he turned to face his lover and approached her. He wiped the tears from her eyes with his thumb and kissed her forehead. “I love you, but you infuriate me sometimes.”
A few days had passed and neither of the pair wanted to give in. While Audric wasn’t openly dismissive to his partner, he avoided Astra at all costs. She laid on the couch, elevating her feet. She was sure she had run out of tears, because when Audric walked into the room, she didn’t even bat an eyelash. She was numb. This must have been what Dionysus had felt like. Served her right, she guessed.”Lady Astra, can I get you anything?”
Astra looked up at Justine. Now that Charlotte was gone, there was no need for Justine to be wandering around. She insisted on helping Astra through her pregnancy. Astra was grateful. She needed someone to talk to. “No thank you.”
“You have to eat, for the babies,” Justine insisted.
“I don’t feel like it,” Astra mumbled, forcing herself up. “Did you see that? He didn’t even say good morning. He used to kiss me every morning. Now, I’m just some kind of doll to him! He doesn’t want me anymore.”
“I don’t think that’s it at all, Lady Astra. I’ve been in this Safe Haven for quite some time and I’ve noticed that Sir Audric is very non confrontational. Give him a few days to cool off.”
“It’s been a few days, Justine,” She replied. “He’s mad at Mason and taking it out on me, when I was the one who warned him to begin with!” Her hands were shaking with anger. Where were her sisters right now? Were they happy? Because, she was miserable. She missed them, and her dad.
“Please calm down, Lady Astra,” Justine said softly. “Don’t get too excited. It’s not good for the babies.”
She rubbed her face. “How could I let this happen?” At Justine’s confusion, Astra threw her arms in the air. “The babies, Audric, my sister, everything! Am I that much of a complete fuck up that I can’t even function correctly?”
“I think things happened as they were meant to,” Justine replied. “Everything will blow over soon. You have an eternity here to work things out with Audric, and those babies in your stomach are a really good reason for him to reconcile with you.”
She suddenly felt bad, lounging in a mansion while everyone else around her suffered. Justine had to take care of her. Audric had to watch a dimension. Her sisters and their families had to pack up and leave, while she sat here. Declan was out there still. Mason. Altiere. She let out a large breath. “I’m selfish,” She said, finally. “I feel bad, but I know at the end of the day I wouldn’t change anything.” She looked at Justine. “Does that make me a bad person? That I’m content being here? I know I’m acting miserable now, but you’re right. Audric and I will make up. I’m happy to be here with him and not out there.”
Justine only shrugged, because what could she say that wouldn’t get her kicked out of the only place she was sure was safe? She’d listen to Astra mumble her harsh realizations all day if she had to. She’d found working with Charlotte much more preferable. She had relevant things to say, and not once had she whined. Not only that, but Charlotte did not expect anything from Justine. She graciously accepted the help offered to her daily, and contributed her services as well. With Astra, she knew she’d be the one raising those kids.
“Is Audric here? I must speak with him at once.” Both girls turned to look at the new figure, a green man with purple hair.
Justine recognized him, but couldn’t recall his name. Astra knew exactly who he was. She hadn’t seen the guardian in a while. “What the hell are you doing here?”
He looked at her in disgust and shook his head. “He sends me on a mission and the fortress is overrun with a pregnant woman.” He rolled his eyes. “In his study, is he?”
Justine nodded. “Go right ahead, but knock first. He’s in a sour mood.”
The man nodded and walked passed the two. Once out of sight, Astra glared at Justine. “Don’t just let that man come in as he pleases! He’s the man who forced me away from my family to begin with!”
“I believe he lives here too, Lady Astra.” Justine scratched her head. “I do recall Audric working with a few people.”
“Lives here?” She rubbed her temple. “How many others are there?”
“There was a woman, but I do believe she left.”
Astra struggled to stand up, despite Justine’s protests. “Audric will be even more upset if you storm in now.”
Astra glared at her, but she was right. She sent a look towards the doorway and collapsed back onto the couch. “This isn’t what I signed up for.”
A knock alerted Audric to a presence. “What is it now? I do believe I told you to let me be.”
“It’s me, Audric. I’m back.” Zodiac’s voice rung from the other side of the door. “I have some new information, and it’s bad.”
Audric was quick to his feet. “Finally! I’ve been awaiting your return. Mason has flown off the handles.”
“I’m aware,” Zodiac mumbled. “This is going to be my last mission for you. I apologize, but Mason has me cornered.”
“Has he threatened to expose you if you don’t work with him?” Audric asked.
Zodiac nodded. “We’ve been underestimating the guardians. They’re much more powerful than we thought. If they find out about my betrayal, death is the last thing they’ll think to do.” The usually carefree man seemed terrified. “But for some reason, Mason wants me to give you this information.”
“Do spill it,” Audric urged, unable to contain himself any longer. Things were already bad as they were.
“Patrick Black, the illusive man supposedly working for Altiere and Damian?” Zodiac questioned. “He approached Angel with a plan of attack. Domination, really. He’s working for someone, I’m unclear who. But whoever it is, wants to spread their influence to other dimensions. The easiest target would be the adjoining one you took Jeffrey Bennett from.”
Audric’s eyes widened. “Quinn’s dimension? Impossible.”
“Patrick seemed confident enough that his master could do it. He was enlisting the guardians for help. I’m sorry I have no other information to help you.”
“No, that is plenty. Thank you.” Audric ran his hand through his long hair. This was not good. He’d have to talk to Quinn right away.
“Thank Mason, not me. He was adamant about you knowing. And he told me to remind you about the storm.”
Audric gasped. Could this be the storm Mason had been talking about? How could he have foreseen something like this?
“I didn’t mind our dimension resetting,” Zodiac admitted. “I don’t care if the others around us reset. I joined the guardians to change the future, and if a reset is the only option, then so be it. But this is destroying the natural order. It must be stopped.”
“Mason isn’t helping,” Audric growled.
“I…I don’t know.” He shrugged. “But if a person is strong enough to take over multiple dimensions and they’re working with the guardians, I don’t want to be on the end of their revenge sword.”
“I understand,” Audric mumbled, albeit a bit angry. “Be careful. I’d ask you to spy, but Mason would know. I can only hope to see you make it out alive and well on the other side of this battle.”