I was snoring loudly when I heard laughter. I opened my eyes and received a surprise.
"Hugo?" I mumbled, rubbing my eyes.
"Hey there," he said. "You drool in your sleep."
I laughed and sat up. He helped me get my legs out of bed as Dr. Amelia came in with my daily medicine.
"Oh," she said when she saw Hugo. "Is this one of your friends?"
I nodded, still trying to get used to having friends.
"Hugo, this is Amelia. She's the doctor that's been taking care of me."
Hugo didn't even blink about her title as he kissed her knuckles.
"Thank you for taking care of my friend, Dr. Amelia."
She beamed. "It's been my pleasure. Have you done your stretches yet?" she asked me and I shook my head. While I worked on my right leg, she did my left. "I know you're not going to like this," she began and I groaned. She laughed. "Yes. Today's the day."
"The day for what?" Hugo asked as Amelia brought out the crutches. "What are those?"
"Torture devices," I complained. "Do I really have to do this?"
"Stop complaining," she said.
Hugo walked with us. "Princess Angel wrote to tell me about what happen. I would have come sooner but... well, I'm getting married."
"Really?" I asked, my eyes shooting to him from the floor and I nearly tripped. Amelia steadied me. "Who is the lucky young woman?"
"Her name is Ingrid Decour," he answered.
"Decour," I said slowly. "The name sounds familiar."
"They're one of the richer families. She lives near me."
"When's the wedding?" I asked.
"In a month. Will you come?"
"Of course I will."
"What about yours?" he asked. "I know it hasn't been officially announced but I'm positive you two are engaged. Don't deny it."
I laughed and nodded. We were going back to the room.
"I'm waiting until I can walk without these damn crutches."
They both helped me into bed.
"Has Angel been staying with you?" he asked and I nodded with a sigh.
"I want her to be with her parents more but she's assured me this is what she wants."
"Well, if it's what she wants you can't really stop her."
A servant came in. "Sir David? The king wants you in the throne room. He says there is an urgent message."
Amelia helped me into the wheelchair and Hugo held out his hand. I shook it.
"I'll be back to visit sometime soon," he promised.
"Bring Ingrid with you. I'd like to meet her."
He beamed and nodded. Amelia pushed me to the throne room and I started getting nervous. What if it was another threat from the werewolves? When we got in, the air was thick with tension. All of the royal family were on their thrones, backs straight and faces grim. Angel was staring at a man by the window with narrowed eyes. I knew that look. She was trying to decide if she trusted him. What was going on?
Amelia left and closed the door gently and the man turned to face me. He had red hair and steel grey eyes that looked familiar. He approached me with his hand out.
"It's good to see you getting better," he said.
I frowned and shook his hand slowly. "I'm sorry. Have we met?"
"Yes; though last time you saw me only in black."
"You're one of the Black Hand!" I shouted, suddenly remembering where I had seen those eyes and heard that voice.
I tried to move away, wanting nothing to do with this man. Angel hurried to my side.
"Hear him out," she whispered. "I think he-"
"You didn't do anything to help me when I was fighting Alec!" I shouted.
"But he got you home," she reminded me.
I glared at him but decided to let him talk. He was standing with his eyes downcast and his hands behind his back. I knew that look and sighed. I had worn that look many times.
"What do you want?" I demanded.
"Well, first my name is Tiberius," he began. "I've come because I have many questions for you."
"I was told you were a messenger," I said.
"Yes. My message was for the king, though. It was to announce that I no longer want to be with the Black Hand."
I was surprised and looked to Angel. "Will you take me to the tea room?"
"Yes but I'm staying with you."
I nodded, knowing not to argue. The doors were opened for us and a servant brought tea and biscuits. Tiberius stood with his tea.
"Sit, Tiberius," Angel said softly.
"Thank you, milady," he mumbled and did so.
"So what are your questions?" I asked.
"I'd like to start with why you challenged the beta. I was certain you'd die."
I took a sip of tea, wondering how much I should tell him. I sighed.
"My father was their alpha and I killed him. I had heard legends that, if the alpha and beta were both dead, the clan would fall apart. Alec confirmed that. It was the only way I could think of that would keep everyone safe."
He nodded thoughtfully and drank more tea.
"My second question is about the blood loss." He leaned forward. "How did you make it? You must have lost nearly three-quarters of your blood!"
"I've wondered about that, too," I answered honestly. I held Angel's hand. "I had a reason to make it. Well, several reasons, but the most important one is sitting beside me."
Angel kissed my fingers and I smiled at her. Tiberius was frowning slightly.
"So it was love that saved you?" he asked and I nodded. "I've never known love like that before...."
"Maybe someday you will."
He shook his head. "I am 32 years old, Sir David. It is too late for me."
"Call me David," I said. "This whole 'Sir' business makes me feel uncomfortable. And it's never too late."
He shifted in his chair. "My last question is more of a... request." I waited. "As I told you, I've left the Black Hand. I never really enjoyed that life to begin with."
"Then why were you the leader?"
"I was born into it. It was my great-great-great-grandfather who began it all when someone tried to assassinate the queen of the time. They trained me from the time I could walk; it was all I knew. But, when I saw you fought, not just the wolves, but for your life as well, it showed me there's more to life than sneaking in the shadows. I don't want that anymore."
"So what do you want?"
"To be your personal bodyguard," he said in a rush. "Yours and Princess Angel's."
I stared at him. Somehow, I knew that would be his request. To give myself more time to think, I drank the rest of my tea. It was true that I didn't know the last thing about fighting. It had been the Sword that did the fighting for me that day, I knew that. Even though I kept it with me at all times still, if the wolves decided to come back....
"What do you think?" I whispered to Angel.
Tiberius was sitting nervously. He finished his tea while Angel whispered quietly in my ear.
"I think we should accept," she whispered, lacing our fingers. "We could use the protection and everyone deserves a second chance."
I looked into her eyes. I knew what she was referring to. Her face was pink and she looked a little ashamed for saying it. I kissed her cheek and nodded, letting her know it was okay.
"We accept, Tiberius," I said and his eyes widened.
"Really?" he asked. It was obvious he had expected us to say no. "You're willing to let me-?"
"On one condition," I interrupted and he shut up immediately. "While I can't completely stop the Black Hand, I can forbid you from any future contact."
It was probably a little harsh but I didn't want him tempted. And if he truly wanted a clean break, this was the place to start.
"I already have," he promised.
I nodded with a small smile. "Very well," I said and gestured to the servant hovering just outside the door. "Would you please prepare a room close to Princess Angel's for Tiberius?"
"Yes sir," she said, curtsying and rushing to do as I asked.
Angel frowned at me. "What about you?"
"Dr. Amelia has me on crutches and says I'll be on a cane in a week."
She grinned. "Which means-"
I kissed her. "We'll be married soon," I finished and she threw her arms around me.