She couldn’t stop her pulse from racing, heart seeming to beat at a more excited pace. It had been that way ever since the soldiers had arrived to talk to their prince, the men not bothering to hide their words. Allura didn’t know why they had chosen to speak Basic, but she was grateful, embracing the news that her people knew she was missing. Not only knew, but were actively searching for her, the guards of the castle being sent out to scour the land.
She only hoped they could rescued her without tragedy occurring, Allura not wanting anyone to get killed in the process. Not even the Drule, maybe not even their prince, the very one who held her captive. The very one who tormented her with his touches, and words, his longing looks leaving her uncomfortable, stomach twisted in knots.
Right now she walked slightly behind him, the girl trying to keep up with his longer legs. He kept on holding onto her hand, and for now she clung to his grip, not wanting to get separated from him on a ship full of Drules. She didn’t trust what would happen with the other men, thinking it better to be with the Drule she knew, than one she did not.
At least Lotor was being somewhat honorable, not forcing himself on her. She wasn’t sure how long that would last, knowing she had had a close call the past night in his bed. Just recalling the way he had leaned into her, smelling and nuzzling his way up her body had her shivering, the feeling not wholly unpleasant. Even if she recognized the danger she had been in.
She still was in danger, and Allura knew she would continue to be placed in such situations for as long as she remained trapped on this ship. She knew she had to get away, and she knew she had to get her cousin and friends free as well. She’d never abandon them, even to save herself, and knew Romelle would do the same for her.
“Lotor…” Was it her imagination, or did his ears twitch at the sound of her voice. “My cousin…My friends. I want to know if they’re okay.” He didn’t answer her right away, and she knew he had been distracted since leaving the viewing deck. Allura hadn’t known if she should be grateful for the silence that had extended between them, at least he hadn’t been asking her any more uncomfortable questions.
Allura was determined to keep her and her cousin’s royal status a secret for as long as it was possible. It wasn’t that she thought Lotor would harm her for being the ruler of Arus, but she did fear he’d use her position to better take over the planet. That could not be allowed, and she could only hope her true identity was not discovered until she was safely back at home.
“They’re fine.” Lotor answered at last, and she frowned.
“How can you be so sure?” She shuddered as she remembered the ugly looking Drule, the one who had dared to talk so impertinently to his prince. “That man…he wanted to hurt them.”
“I stopped Morduck.” Lotor replied. “He won’t go against my orders.”
She wondered if that was true, recalling how argumentative the Drule had been. “Still…I’d like to know…” Allura was left wondering if Lotor even heard her, the man noticing a group of soldiers standing in front of his cabin’s door. Lotor called out a greeting, but this time he was speaking in the Drule’s language, leaving Allura to frown and stand ignored.
When she slipped her hand out of Lotor’s grasp, he did not protest, talking in a commanding tone to the gathered men. None of them looked at her, too busy conversing with their prince. Allura held back a sigh, and began studying the outside of the cabin, noticing other Drules walking through the hall. Many looked at her curiously, but except for quick glances, they hurried past.
It appeared she was a point of interest, but not to the point the men and women lost their focus. And yet everywhere she turned, eyes were on her, Allura not liking being looked at. She was especially displeased when she met the eyes of one man in particular, the Drule giving her a slow look over. His gaze seemed to shiver down her body, Allura feeling as though he was undressing her.
She was suddenly too aware of how tight her pink dress suit was, Allura remembering arguing with her Nanny about wearing such a provocative outfit. It hadn’t seemed that bad at the time, nearly every inch of her was covered except for her face and hands. And yet it molded to her curves, Allura suddenly wishing she had worn something more sensible.
That man finally raised his gaze back to her eyes, his expression insolent as he licked his lips. She turned red, a mixture of embarrassment and upset, and inched closer to Lotor. Her movement caught the prince’s attention, the Drule was turning to look at her, and then followed her gaze to the leering Drule. Allura was too busy looking at the man to see Lotor’s expression, but she heard the quiet that settled around them.
Immediately, Lotor was growling, words coming out so fast and vicious, he almost sounded like an animal. Allura didn’t need to know the Drule language to know Lotor was threatening the man, the girl’s stare becoming even more wide eyed. Especially when the other Drule just smiled mockingly at the prince, before raising his hands in surrender. With one last look at Allura, he turned away, and it was only then that she turned to face Lotor and the other soldiers.
None of those men would look at her, carefully adverting their gaze. It was as though they feared incurring the prince’s wrath, and indeed Lotor’s face was pinched with anger. His golden eyes blazed with a furious light, and he still stared in the direction of the other Drule. Allura wasn’t sure what to do in the moment, but she reached out, gently touching his arm.
That got him to look at her, and some of the tightness faded from his expression. He tried to force a smile, and spoke, saying something that had the group of soldiers by the cabin bowing. Lotor took her hand, and stepped towards the cabin door, the soldiers leaving to do mysterious things, possibly at their prince’s command.
They entered the room, Allura noticing breakfast had been cleared away. That was fine, a new platter of pastries was on the table, along with a jug of some kind of sweet smelling liquid. She went to pour herself a glass, but Lotor was stopping her, hands on her shoulders. He turned her to face him, expression troubled.
“Who was that man?” Allura asked, and Lotor frowned.
“You need not concern yourself with him.”
“He gives me the creeps.” Allura said, and Lotor blinked, but did not lose his troubled expression.
“That’s good. Your instincts are right about him.” His words were making her shiver, Allura more than a little disturbed by his warnings. “Stay away from him, and anyone else who sets alarm bells ringing inside you.”
“Anyone else?” She asked sharply, and he nodded. “What if my instincts are saying to stay away from you?!”
Lotor looked aghast at that, his fingers loosening their grip on her shoulders. “Allura no! I would never hurt you. Don’t lump me into the same category as that man!”
“But you are hurting me! Or at least trying too…” She amended. She saw he did not understand, Allura sighing. “Keeping me here. Trying to take over Arus. Wanting to take me from my home…all this will hurt me…I can already feel flickers of that pain just by thinking on those deeds!”
“I don’t mean to…” Lotor began, voice whisper soft.
“Don’t you? All those things, you do them deliberately! Without a care about what I feel!” He made a sound like a wounded animal, Lotor stepping back from her.
“You’re wrong!” Lotor insisted, even as she shook her head no. “You are! You can’t imagine how much I think about you, about your feelings, your needs, your desires! I’m going mad trying to think of ways to keep you happy, to find a way for you to be able to accept what is happening between us!”
“Nothing is happening between us!” She interrupted, and he let out a sound of frustration. “It’s all in your head! It is! You just…just lust for what you can’t have…what you can never have!”
“Allura…!” His saying of her name was a tortured moan, Lotor stepping closer to her. She immediately backed up, not trusting what he would do. “You have no idea….” He began through gritted teeth. “Nor are you capable of understanding the kind of pain you are causing me by speaking like this! Lust? If only it was that simple!” He let out a humorless chuckle, hand lifting to ruffle his long hair. “If all I felt for you was lust, I could have you and be done with it! But it’s more than that…I LOVE you. Yes, yes I do!”
She was shaking her head, but Lotor wasn’t letting her get a word in edgewise. “I’ve loved you from the moment at the lake….hell I was born to love you! I cannot fight that any more then I could fight the blood running through my veins!”
“It’s not love…” She repeated softly.
“Why?” Lotor demanded, and made a scoffing sound. “Because you say it’s not? You’re a fool if you believe it’s that easy!” Her jaw dropped at him calling her a fool, but Lotor did not take back his words. “I know you have beliefs different from mine, but damn it Allura! You have to stop clinging to them as if they are the only ones that matter! As if your human concept of love is the only thing that is right! Because it’s not!”
Her mouth opened and closed several times before she could think up a retort. And even then it fell flat, Allura trying to sound mocking. “And I’m supposed to believe in a Drule’s love? In feelings and impulses that make you act little better than an animal?!”
His jaw clenched at that, she had succeeded in wounding him yet again. “It’s more dignified than an animal could ever feel!” All she could do was scoff at that, and even that sound was enough to upset him. With narrowed eyes, he grabbed at her arms, hauling her against him. “Can an animal feel even an ounce of passion?” Lotor demanded, hands jerking her up on tip toe. It was either that or dangle in his grasp, Allura gasping.
“An animal can’t burn, it can’t smolder with the intensity of it’s feelings.” Lotor continued. “An animal can’t yearn with all it’s heat for something, can’t experience longing….An animal’s heart can’t be broken!” Allura had thought he had meant to kiss her, and the idea of it had both excited and terrified her, the girl knowing in the moment it would have been a brutal, harsh kiss.
Instead with those last words, Lotor shoved her away from him, turning with a broken cry. She almost fell on the floor, but somehow righted herself by grabbing onto the nearest chair. “Where are you going?!” Allura cried out, seeing Lotor stalking towards the room’s exit.
“I…I can’t…” He shook his head, stumbling on the words. “I have to see to some things.”
“Things, what things?” Allura asked, but Lotor didn’t answer. Instead he stepped out into the hall, making sure the door was locked securely behind him. Allura let out a whine of frustration, shaking badly from the whole encounter. She couldn’t believe Lotor had left her, and yet she was relieved, frightened of what they would have said and done next.
Her arms hurt where he had gripped her, Allura wondered if she would be bruised there. As upset as she was, she couldn’t stop picturing HIS upset, and the wounded looks he had given her. “He really believes what he says…” She said, chilled. “He really thinks what he feels for me is love…”
She turned away from the chair, looking at the table once more. None of the assortment of pastries appealed to her, what little appetite she had left gone. But her mouth was dry, and she decided to claim the drink she had been denied. The liquid was a purplish pink color, some sort of mixture of crushed berries. She took the first tentative sip, and found it as sweet as it smelled, Allura drinking almost greedily.
It wasn’t enough to quench her thirst, but it was a start, Allura pouring a second cup when she had drained the first. This one she drank more slowly, thoughts centered on Lotor. But other things were also on her mind, the girl sighing as she sat down, slumping backwards in a chair. “I didn’t even get to find out more about Romelle…” She muttered, hoping Lotor was right about the kind of treatment her cousin was getting.
She didn’t know what to do with herself now that Lotor wasn’t here, knowing that for all the turmoil and anguish being around him caused her, at the very least she wasn’t bored. Now all she had to do was eat and drink, and Allura would have been decidedly reserved with the berry liquid if she had realized just how much alcohol the drink contained.
While Allura was inadvertently drinking her troubles away, Lotor was experiencing an inner anguish the likes of which he had never felt before. His hurt heart, to the point he swore it was difficult to breathe, Lotor trying not to clutch at his chest. He had to struggle to maintain a neutral expression, and even that slipped at times, the Drules who saw it turning away shaken.
It was a lot like the look of a Drule who was grieving for a dead mate, Lotor knowing his people had no experience with the idea of a mate who outright rejected her other half. He let out a bitter sound, Lotor wondering why he was so special as to have a mate that did not want him, a mate who seemed to despise him more and more with each passing hour.
It was torture, and Lotor couldn’t imagine living out even one more day with such heart break. He was beginning to doubt everything, wondering if it was even possible for him to make his mate happy and satisfied. Perhaps they were too different, maybe humans and Drules were too incompatible. He tried to think of his own mother and father, and knew his memory was missing pieces when it came to the woman.
His father had not found his mate, had never found the other half of his soul. Sometimes, Lotor thought the Drule so evil that he didn’t even have a soul in the first place! He knew that Zarkon’s heart had never moved for his human mother, and that had been the way the Drule had preferred it. He didn’t want to be brought down low, reduced to a sniveling, pussy whipped weakling.
Zarkon had high hopes that his son would break free of the chains that tied the Drule race to the mating urge. Lotor now knew the Drule had failed, he had only succeeded in changing the type of mate Lotor could have. The prince was pretty sure it was because of his human blood that his mate had been Allura, and not some Drule female of his own race.
Lotor felt as if he was both blessed and cursed, blessed to finally have found his love, cursed to have her reject him so thoroughly. It was almost enough to make a grown Drule want to break down, and do something unseemly. Like shed a stray tear. But Lotor was made of sterner stuff then that, keeping a stiff upper lip even as he wallowed in his misery.
He wished he had someone to talk to, but there was no one. None of the men or the women on board this ship was mated. And even if there had been a mated pair, they would have been happy. A happiness he was denied, Lotor quick to realize the mated pairs would not be able to understand the concept of rejection from a mate. A mate was supposed to be understanding, accepting, loving and giving of themselves.
He certainly didn’t feel like he was receiving any of that from Allura, his mate holding back from him in every way. And he didn’t know how to get her to stop! That notched his frustration and anguish into overdrive, Lotor gritting his teeth as he held in his tortured moan.
He wasn’t aware of Morduck’s presence until he nearly tripped over the General, Lotor righting himself with a feral growl. His hands were clenched into fists, the prince spoiling for a fight, an outlet for some of his pain.
“Prince Lotor!” gasped Morduck, and then gave him the once over. His lips pursed together, the prince couldn’t tell what sort of expression the General was trying to hide. Lotor gave a stiff nod of his head, not trusting himself to speak in the moment. “I understand there are search parties wandering both the forests and the towns that border the castle’s lands…our time is running out. We need to act now!”
Lotor tried to swallow down some of his feelings, pleased his voice did not hold a tremulous note to it. “The search parties won’t be a problem. We can handle a few soldiers.”
“If any more people go missing, it will arouse even more suspicions!” snapped Morduck excitably.
“Then we act before they notice they are gone.” Lotor retorted.
“How?” Morduck wanted to know. “The women aren’t talking save to toss insults. That one female is far too bold for my liking.” He muttered something about how much he would like to permanently shut Romelle’s mouth. “We know nothing…I dare say we are worse off than when we first arrived on Arus!”
“We’ll manage.” Lotor said, trying to sound assuring. “We always do.”
“That was before our leader was distracted.” Grumbled Morduck, Lotor shooting him an angry look. “Sire, at least give me permission to torture one of the women. I know I can get information out of them, if I am allowed to use all the methods available to me.”
“No. You will not harm them, not even the mouthy one.” Lotor told him.
Morduck sighed. “Sire, this course of action will bring us nothing but trouble. It is a mistake to do this.”
“It is mine to make.” Lotor answered roughly.
“But you are not the only one who will suffer from this error of judgment!” Morduck pointed out. “Do you even have a plan for us to fall back on?”
“Why don’t we discuss this somewhere more private.” Lotor said, clapping a hand on Morduck’s back. “Get the others, we shall have a strategy meeting. One that is
long over due.”
“Yes, sire!” agreed Morduck, but he didn’t act relived, eyeing Lotor in concern. Lotor pretended not to notice, walking with Morduck towards the ship’s war room. His heart was still conflicted, his thoughts scattered, leaving Lotor to hope he could concentrate enough to be of some use in the meeting. At the very least he hoped it distracted him for a time from Allura, Lotor knowing he needed a reprieve and badly.