Aspro was returning to Prince Lawrence after yet another revenge killing for him. Now that Lawrence had finally gotten a woman to marry him he wanted to be rid of all the women who dared to say no and shame him. “Lady Mara is dead my prince”
“good, here’s your payment” Lawrence said as he tossed a very heavy bag of gold to the assassin. This was illegal work so Lawrence was paying for both his silence and services. It would get the assassin jailed if he told but it was higher stakes for the prince. If it were found out what he was doing he would be stripped of his title and unwelcome in the kingdom. Even if his parents could forgive him the prince would be exiled and great shame would be on his family name. Aspro had no intentions of telling though. He cared nothing for the lives he took and was only interested in all the money he was making off of this. He planned to keep milking the prince for more money even after the job was done. This was a cash cow that would never run dry so he’d never be foolish enough to really say anything.
“is there any other women you wish vengeance on?”
“Yes, I’ve saved the one I hate the most for last. I want you to kill Belle Koopmann. I just checked when you left and her husband has another job. Of course there’s no telling when he will get back but he’s after three men and a woman who went on a killing spree in their town. They grew tired of all the noise babies and toddlers make and just set off to kill as many as possible. It was sick even for me. They managed to get away from the angry mob so they’ve sent Zane after them to wipe them off the earth. This time will be more effort too because he has to bring the bodies back. The parents asked if they could burn the bodies and they were granted it so Zane has to bring the dead bodies back to the village for them. ” Aspro smiled, his adrenaline was pumping and he felt thrilled for such a high stakes mission. He was to kill the wife of a highly renowned assassin. He would even look forward to it if Zane tried to kill him in return. he would love to come to blows with such a skilled assassin.
“I will hurry then so it can be done by the time he gets back.”
“I want you to bring her hair to me after you kill her. She loves those long golden locks. Try to cut some off before she dies so there isn’t blood in it. It will cause her more grief before she dies if you ruin her hair.”
“It will be done, collecting hair before that will be easy. She’s a princess and as I hear, a very girly one. She will probably be among the easiest of the women I’ve killed”
“good, go” Just outside of Belles kingdom Aspio made sure every bit of him was covered aside from his eyes. He checked his gear and then ran. He kept running until he reached the town just outside the castle where she lived with Zane and their five year old son Gabriel. Aspro knew the kid wouldn’t be a problem because Zane hadn’t been training the boy. Belle was reading a pirate story to her son while he played with his ships in the bathtub. She paused and bookmarked her place “what is it mom?” Gabriel asked “sh” she barely made a sound but it was enough to silence Gabriel. He grew a little afraid as his mother leaned against the door. She could tell someone was just on the other side and she knew it wasn’t her husband. Her heart beat fearfully and she looked under the sink for a dagger Zane kept there. To her relief it was there but nothing was bringing relief to the small boy in the tub.
Belle took a deep, fearful breath. She remembered what Theo had told her about defending herself. As a small woman she knew nothing more than a few tricks and wrestling moves she learned growing up. She would kick him in his jewels then brake his nose. Belle motioned for Gabriel to get behind her so she could grab him and run. Theos house was the nearest and she prayed they were home if she could even outrun the looming presence behind the door. She gripped the dagger and flung open the door. She barely saw him move as he slashed into her hair. Some stuck to Gabriel since he was still wet and soapy. Gabriel screamed as Belle kicked Aspro in the balls then thrust her fist straight up to break his nose. Aspro let out what was a mixture of a groan and yell then said “you fucking bitch!” He had not been prepared for her to do anything like that since she was a princess.
She grabbed her son and tried to run but Gabriel had been soaking the floor so she fell. Her dagger slid across their hardwood floor and all she could think to do was yell “run son! Go to Uncle Theo!” With blood cascading out of Aspros nose he grabbed Belle by the throat and got over her. He was so pissed he wanted to feel her pulse stop and see her eyes as they went dim. Gabriel ran past like he was going to leave but he couldn’t leave his mom. He was going to help her like his father would. His friends told him about what his father did for work and how he’d kill certain men because their fathers would tell them all about it. He grabbed the dagger and much to both Belles and Aspros surprise Gabriel thrust the dagger into his throat and slit it. He wasn’t very strong being only five but Zane kept all his blades extremely sharp so it slid through easily even for Gabriel.
Aspro began jerking and spewing blood everywhere. Since Belle was under him she was soaked from head to toe from the spray. She got from under him and ran with Gabriel out of the house, praying that man was dead but in shock by what her son just did. Gabriel gripped the dagger tightly as they ran. He didn’t know if that man woudl die either so he was afraid he would come after his mother again. It shocked him just how much blood their was. The other boys talked of their being blood but no amount of description could have explained that to him.
Zane gripped the hair of the woman and stabbed her in her carotid. He jerked the knife out and dropped her to the ground where she promptly bled to death. He wiped off his dagger and slipped it back in its sheath. He whistled for his horse, the high pitched sound carrying far. His horse came running, the mule he had tied to his comapnion pulled along with it. He wrapped the bodies in burlap and lifted them onto the back of the mule. If it had not been for his extensive training he would already be ready to collapse. He tied the bodies down then jumped onto his horse. He was happy to be going home. He couldn’t wait to drop off the corpses and get back home to his sweet, understanding Belle and their son.
Belle was ready to collapse by the time she made it to Theo’s house. She screamed when she saw him outside chopping wood, tears streaming down her face as he dropped his axe and came running, yelling for Theo Jr. and Laura. He caught her in his arms as her knees gave out. “What happened?”
“We were attacked and Gabriel he had to…to…” she cried harder, holding tightly to her son.
“I had to kill him.” Gabriel finished. Theo lifted her off the ground and carried her quickly to his house.
“Theo, I need you to run to Zane and Belle’s house and make sure whoever did this is dead. Be careful, you undestand, now go.”
“Yes sir.” Theo Jr. said.
Theo went inside where Laura checked them for injuries. Laura winced at the bruising starting to appear on Belles neck. You could almost see the mans hands. “it all seems to be your attackers blood” Laura said and Belle nodded. Gabriel hugged her “It’s ok mom. Please don’t cry. I made sure he couldn’t hurt you” It only made the crying worse. “I’m sorry you had to do that son”
“don’t be mom..I was shocked by all the blood but..I’ve always thought I was going to be an assassin like daddy. I want to be when I get big. Dad is so strong and cool and all the other dads look up to him. Earlier I just thought what would my dad do to save you and thats what I came up with. My friends say thats one of the ways he kills people and I guess it’s true. He fell right down” Belle pulled him into her chest “please shh baby” Belle couldn’t hear that right now. She hadn’t really wanted any of her children to be assassins and didn’t want to think about Gabriel being one at the moment. It was somthing she had prepared herself for but right now she just needed to get over what happened.
The only thoughts in Theos and Lauras head were how Zane was going to react, relief they survived and who on earth would dare send someone after Belle. Theo Jr unsheathed his sword and stepped into the house. He saw the man laying in a pool of his own blood then walked over. Theo Jr delivered a swift kick to the mans side. When he didn’t move TJ flipped him onto his back and checked for a pulse. “You’re lucky to be dead when Zane finds this out you bastard. How dare you come after my Aunt and Cousin.” TJs heart was pounding with anger as he grabbed a bag to take some of Gabriels and Belles clothing so they could get clean. He wondered if Belle realized how messed up her hair was and the fact it would need to be cut even more to even it out.
Theo Jr came back in “he’s dead father and I brought clothes so they could shower. “You go first baby”
“But I can’t leave you alone. What if someone else comes and I’m not here to protect you”
“Please go get clean. Theo, Tj and Laura wont let anything happen.”
“yes mam. Just stay with them please.” TJ escorted Gabriel upstairs to help him get the shower ready and to leave some clothes for him in there. Now that Gabriel was gone Laura asked cautiously “do you want me to fix your hair after your shower?” Amid everything Belle had completely forgotten the assassin slicing through her hair even though it was stuck in the blood on herself and son.
“Yes, thank you.” Gabriel finished his shower fast, wanting to get back to his mother. He pulled his clothes on and hurried to her. She wouldn’t let him hug her now that he was clean. “Let me get clean baby and I’ll be back.”
“Look Theo Jr. and I are going to your house to clean it up before Zane gets back.” Theo said.
“Just make sure not to bury the body, wrap it up and put it in the shed. He’ll want to see it. Maybe he knows the man.” Belle replied and her nodded. She headed to the bathroom and turned the water on, making sure it was the right temperature before pulling her clothes off and stepping under the warm water. She sat down and cried, wishing Zane was with her. She missed him even more now and knew she wouldn’t be able to calm down until she saw him.
Zane came to a stop, needing to rest for a few minutes. He knew the animals were probably just as tired so he found a watering hole and dismounted. He pulled apples out for the horse and mule, letting them eat before grabbing something for himself. He let his mind drift to Belle as he sat down next to a tree and ate one of the muffins she had made for him. He missed her smile and her laugh. It was like this every time he left. He was so happy to see her when he got home. He also couldn’t wait to play with their little boy. He finished his food and gave pat both of the animals before climbing back in the saddle. He wanted to return home as quickly as possible.
Now that Belle wouldn’t be able to hear Laura asked Gabriel “what happened?”
“Mom was reading to me like she always does when I take a bath and suddenly she stopped. She grabbed the dagger my dad keeps in our bathroom and told me to come to her. She fought the man as best she could but he ended up on top of her. He grabbed her neck and kept squeezing so she couldn’t breath. I was scared my mommy was going to die” his voice broke a little at that part. Laura was amazed at how the only part of the experience that upset him was the possibility of his mother dyeing. The killing nor the blood had upset him in the least. Gabriel continued “I started to think of what my dad would do. I decided he would kill him to save momma so I grabbed his dagger and slit his throat like the other boys talk about daddy doing”
“that was really brave of you Gabe”
“It was just what i had to do. It was him or my mother. He wouldn’t stop hurting her and I had to stop him before dad and I lost her. I need my mom” Laura hugged Gabriel “I love you, did your mom feed you dinner before putting you in the bath?”
“No, I was excited about bath time so she let me take it first as long as I promised not to be a messy eater”
“What would you like for me to start making then?”
“Could we make pie? Mom loves chicken pie” Laura smiled “Then we’ll make pie for your mother. First get clothes out of the bag Theo Jr made and bring them to her in the bathroom”
“Yes mam” Gabriel went staright for the bag then up the stairs. When Theo and Theo Jr arrived at Belles house a neighbor stopped them “is everything alright? I saw Belle running with her son. It looked as if blood was soaking them”
“No it’s not. Someone sent an assassin for Belle. He attacked my sister and nephew. We’re here to clean up the house before Zane gets home. Laura is with them now and tending to whatever they need.” The mans eyes widened “Are they hurt? Was it their blood?”
“No, just the assassin. Gabriel killed the man as he tried to strangle Belle”
“wow, a natural like his father.”
“This is not the time to talk about that” Theo said a bit darkly.
The man backed off and went home, leaving Theo and Theo Jr. to the task of cleanong up the bloody mess. Theo couldn’t believe the damage Gabriel had done to this assassin. First they carried the body out to the shed and wrapped it in some old burlap. They locked it inside so no wild animals could get to it then went inside and started cleaning. They scrubbed the blood out of the floor then soaked up the water and drained the tub. They threw the bloody towels away and went around the house, making sure it was spotless. They didn’t want Belle to have to look at any stains. They knew how uncomfortable death made her.
Belle made sure she wouldn’t cry anymore before heading back downstairs. She smiled when she smelled pie and headed into the kitchen where Gabriel was laughing as Laura flicked some flower at him. “Hey you two, having fun?” She said, glad that her voice was steady.
“Go sit down mom, we’re making you pie. We already have two in the oven.” Gabriel said with a big grin. Belle was happy he wasn’t fazed, that he could still smile. She went and laid down on the couch and stared at the vase of flowers Laura had on the coffee table. Her head ached from all the crying and she was both mentally and physically exhausted. She closed her eyes, thinking it was only for a minute and falling asleep. Half an hour later she was woke by Gabriel who had a cup of hot chocolate for her. She smiled and sat up, taking the cup and patting the couch. He sat down and she wrapped her arm around him as she took a sip of her hot chocolate.
“Do you like it mom?”
“Yes baby, it’s delicious.”
He gave a delighted smile. “When is dad going to be home?”
“I hope it’s real soon, I miss him and I know he misses you. He says so all the time.”
Belle smiled “When does he say so?”
“When I’m alone with dad and ask about his trip he mainly talks about how much he misses you. He gets sad when you aren’t around. He also misses playing with me”
“You really want to do what your father does?”
“Yeah” Belle kissed her sons head “you should talk to him about it then and tell him I said it’s ok. I know he’ll worry about my opinion”
“ok mom.” Belle drank a little more than set her mug down. Her son still giving her that delighted smile. She knew he was excited about talking to his father. She unknowingly placed a hand on her stomach. She was three weeks pregnant with their second child and just didn’t realize it yet. Gabriel noticed but never thought anything of it since his mother didn’t complain of feeling ill. The neighbor that had talked to Theo told his wife what happened and soon the whole town knew and it was being spread to other towns. Not only was it a princess who was attacked but an assassins wife. It amplified it still that it was Zanes wife and child so people couldn’t wait to gossip about it with one another. It was only a matter of time before Lawrence would hear his assassin failed.
Laura called them for dinner and they all sat down. Theo gave Belle a worried look “it’s ok Theo. I’ll be alright”
“I just know how much death bothers you”
“I’m fine” she continued to lie. She would just have to act fine until Zane was home to make her honestly feel fine. Theo could tell she was lieing but didn’t push it further. He knew she was putting on a brave face for her son. Later that night Zane made it to the town where he was to drop off the criminals. He hated the thought but he had to rest there for his animals sake before going home. He went straight for the Duke who lived theres home and knocked, hoping he wouldn’t be waking the man. The door was answered quickly telling Zane he and his family hadn’t been sleeping “done? Already?”
“They were fools, just angry idiots running around. It was a labor but a quick job at the same time since they weren’t wise.”
“where are the bodies?”
“Where would you like them?”
“Lets put them in my shed for now”
Zane lead the horse and mule over to the shed before lifting the bodies off and dragging them into the shed. After he had them lined up he shut and locked the shed and headed to an inn. He handed the animals off to the stable boy and knocked on the Duke’s door. A maid answered and he smiled politely. “May I help you sir?”
“I wanted to see if the Duke would allow me to stay here tonight.”
“Please come in.” He stepped inside and waited patiently for the maid to return. When she came back she directed him to head upstairs to the second room on the left.
“If I leave my clothes next to the door would you have them washed?”
He headed upstairs, pulling his clothes off the minute the door was closed and tossing them by the door. He went into the bathroom, switching on the water and stepping in. He was happy to get the smell of death and sweat off of him. He got out and dried then peeked out to make sure the maid wasn’t in the room before stepping out. He crawled in bed, pulling the blanket up and falling quickly asleep. He could gather his payment in the morning then get home.
After dinner Laura asked “are you ready for your hair cut Belle?” She nodded then took the chair she had been eating in and moved it away from the table. Laura cut Theo and Theo Jrs hair all the time so she had a cloth to wrap around Belle so stray hairs wouldn’t stick in her clothes and make her itchy. Gabriel watched, ready to hold his mothers hand if she needed it. He knew that loseing her long golden locks was part of what upset her. Gabriel couldn’t wait for his dad to come home and let his mom know she was still beautiful. Laura began clipping away. She took off as little as possible to even it out but her hair was still only down to her ears now. Luara brushed the hairs off the cloth then took it off of Belle. Gabriel smiled “You look so pretty mommy. Short hair suits you too” Belle smiled “thank you sweetie” Gabriel took her hand “lets go to the bathroom so you can see.” Belle let her son take her upstairs. Going into the bathroom was hard but she went.
Her heart slammed painfully hard inot her rib cage when she saw how short her hair was. She may have cried again if her son wasn’t standing there, smiling and trying to make her feel better. “don’t you love it? You look pretty no matter what mom” belle lifted her son into a hug “I love it, Auntie Laura did such a good job”
“You didn’t thank her. Didn’t you tell me to always thank people who do stuff for you?” Belle gave a genuine giggle “That’s right, let me go fix that” Belle set her son down then descended the stairs. She found Laura sweeping up her hair. When Laura let it fall into the waste pan Belle hugged her “thank you so much sister”
“I took off as little as possible. Your son is also right. You are beautiful and Zane will think you’re just as stunning as before. Shorter hair is also easier to take care of so that’s a plus” Laura said knowing how obvious of an attempt that was at trying to cheer her. Belle just smiled “I’m sure he will. Zane would love me even if I didn’t have hair” Belle knew what she said was true but she couldn’t help the small pang of worry about him liking her hair this short. Once her hair passed her shoulders it had never gone shorter than that so Zane hadn’t seen her with short hair since they were children. “You’re sleeping here tonight right? I dont want you and my nephew in your home alone. Whoever wants you dead probably wont hesitate to send another after you”
“I was planning on staying”
“You can use the room you always use when you stay. Gabriel, you can sleep in Theo Jrs room”
“No, I’m going to sleep with my mom. Sombody else coudl be already coming. I have to protect her. I wont sleep if I dont share a bed with my mom” Gabriel answered then Belle said “you can sleep with me baby” She lifted him up. Somthing that would never stop surprising Theo. Her son was only five but he was a little more than half her size. It wouldn’t be too much longer before he outgrew her. They went into their room where Gabriel jumped out of his mothers arms to lock the door. He then started moving the dresser “what’re you doing son?”
“I want to hear if sombody comes in the door. An assassin would be storng enough to move the dresser but this way I’ll hear them and can spring into action” Belle sighed and helped her son. She knew he may not sleep if the dresser wasn’t where he wanted it. “can we sleep now sweetheart?” Gabriel nodded then crawled into bed with his mother.
Zane woke the next morning, stretching his sore muscles. He threw his covers back and went into the bathroom, washing his face and getting a drink of water. He heard the bedroom door open and looked out, smiling at the maid as she sat his clothes on top of the chest of drawers. Once she was gone he went out and pulled his clothes and boots on then headed to the Duke’s study. He tapped on the door and heard a voice tell him to enter so he pushed the door open and stepped in.
“Zane, good morning, I hope you slept well.”
“Yes sir I did.”
“Come for your pay?”
“Yes sir.” The Duke smiled and opened his desk drawer, pulling out a sack of money and tossing it to him. “Thank you sir.”
“Tell Belle and Gabriel I say hello.”
He nodded and headed out to the stable for the horse and mule. He heard the stable boy whispering and froze to listen. “If we say anything he might take it out on us.” A woman’s voice said.
“He’s not like that, he deserves to know, everyone knows but him.”
“It could just be a stupid rumor.”
“No one makes up rumors like that, not about Princess Belle.”
“What about the princess?” Zane asked, making the two jump.
The woman looked scared but the stable boy said “Of course we didn’t see it first hand but a rumors been spreading about your wife sir. She was seen running out of your house like the very devil was after her and Gabriel. Both she and your son were soaked in blood. Belle was drenched a lot worse than Gabriel. Theo and his son came back to your house later, I guess to clean. Prince Theo told a neighbor that an assassin came after your wife and that the only reason she’s still living is your son killed the man. There’s no more detail than that but its been the talk of everybody.” Everything about Zanes demeanor darkened. It sent chills through both the woman and boy “thank you for letting me know. Someone should have told me sooner” Zane quickly got his animals ready and left. He went as fast as the animals could go. Zane needed to get home, he needed to see his wife and son were alright.
If they would send one assassin they would send another. For that information to be here he was sure whoever sent the man would know soon the assassin failed. He would be there, thwart the attempt and make whomever was sent tell him who it was by any means necessary. When Belle woke Gabriel jumped “woah sweetie” Belle said sleepily. “sorry, I’ve been jumpy all night”
“Please don’t stress yourself. Theo, Theo jr and Laura are all in this house too.” Gabriel touched his mothers neck where the bruising was “He coudl have broken your neck holding that tight…. if he would have been aiming for that instead of strangling you I wouldn’t…you’d” Belle could tell he was about to cry so hugged her son tightly “shh, the important thing is we did survive and your father should be returning soon. I hope so anway. I’m sure if Theo hasn’t gone already he will go to Rapunzel and Casimer to tell them what’s happened. They’ll get to the bottom of it baby. Nobodies going to kill your mommy. You don’t need to put that weight on your shoulders”
“But your the best mom in the world” Belle slightly smiled “and you’re the sweetest boy. Lets go have some breakfast and don’t you worry about mommys neck. It will heal.” Gabriel wiped his face then they moved the dresser. Belle coudl hear Laura was in her bedroom so sent Gabriel downstairs. Belle knocked on Lauras door. “yes?”
“Could I come in?”
“Of course Belle” Belle entered “do you have any make up to cover the small amount of bruising on my neck? It’s upsetting Gabriel”
“Let me look. I keep some for special events but you know how I am normally”
“Yeah, thank you” Laura located her makeup box then had Belle sit on the bed “How’d you sleep?”
“Good but Gabriel apparently didn’t sleep”
“Yeha, he’s worried someone else will come after me”
“Sadly thats a real concern. Theo went early this morning to make sure Rapunzel knew and to see what could be done. He was furious last night and pacing all around” Laura covered her up then they went downstairs to join Theo Jr and Gabriel in having cereal. “how’d it dissapear?”
“Aunt Laura and the magic of makeup”
“Thanks Aunt Laura”
“You’re welcome baby.”
Casimer and Rapunzel sat there in shock and anger. “Who attacked Belle?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t recognize him. Gabriel had to kill him, a little boy. I know he is Zane’s son, but still.”
“Does anyone else know?” Casimer asked.
“A neighbor, it’s my fault, but he wouldn’t stop asking questions.”
“The man or woman who hired him probably already knows. Watch over them and wait for Zane to return brother. I’ll send guards to patrol the area and watch your house.”
“Thank you Rapunzel, Casimer. Zane isn’t going to be happy about this. If the man who hired the killer has heard then so has Zane.”
“When he gets back make sure he sees the body. He knows every assassin out there and don’t let him ride off to seek revenge. If he tries to leave, tell him that I order him to stay. If another assassin shows up then he needs to be close.”
“Be careful on you way home Theo.”
“You know you never have to worry about me. I love you both.” He hugged his sister and then Casimer.
Prince Lawrence heard his servants whispering to eachother then demanded to know what they were talking about “There was an attempt on Belles life sir.”
“Is she living then?” The way he asked struck the servants as odd but they knew better than to question their prince or act as if anything he did wasn’t normal. “Yes, her and their boy survived and are staying at Prince Theos house” Lawrence did his best not to show how much that angered him when he asked “what of the attacker?”
“He died, he was slain by young Gabriel.”
“That will be all. Get busy! My father doesn’t pay you to lounge!” They went off quickly to avoid a beating. Prince Lawrence went up to his room to brood until he could go out tonight and hire another assassin willing to do that sort of work. Prill, a newcomer to the dark assassin trade was always willing to do dirty work. He charged four times what Aspro did but Lawrence didn’t have a choice and the death of a woman who would reject him was worth any price to such a childish prince. He would have Belles life and some of that golden hair no matter how many assassins he had to send after her. Zane arrived home a little after lunch time and put his horse and donkey in the stables “thank you my friends. I’m sorry. Don’t tell my wife on me” Zane checked the house just incase Belle was there or another assassin was hiding. When he saw nobody was there he ran at full speed to Theos.
He went in without knocking causing his son to jump out of Belles lap. His scared young eyes turning excited “dad!” Belle stood and grabbed at a strand of hair. Gabriel jumped into his fathers arms “did you hear what happened daddy?”
“I did, thank you for being my brave little man.”
“I’m a big man dad”
“Yes you are. I’m proud of you for protecting your mother.”
“I just thought about what you would do” Zane kissed his sons head. Happy the both of them were safe. Zane set his son down then crushed Belle into him. She could feel both his anger and fear in the hug. Belle wanted to speak but knew it would come out strained with his tight grasp around her. “I love you so much Belle” Zane said as he pulled away. “I love you too.”
“wheres the body of the man who attacked you? Please don’t tell me he is burried” Zane said then Theo spoke “Theo Jr and I will show you. We put him in your shed” Zane kissed belle then pulled both her and his son into a hug “I’ll be right back. Just stay inside please and away from any windows”
“we will Zane” Zane walked out with Theo and Theo Jr. “I’m surprised he’s as together as he is” Laura said then Belle spoke “He’s really pissed off though. I could feel it”
“Who wouldn’t be. Someone came into his home and threatened his family. He thought you were beautiful” Belle giggled “You’re a sweet sister Laura”
“I mean it. Zane will always think you’re beautiful. I don’t think short hair looks bad on you atall.” Gabriel held his mothers hand “you don’t know you’re beautiful mom?” Belle squeezed his hand “I do son, Laura was just making sure I knew. We have more pressing matters than my hair anyway” Zane unraveled the body as quickly as possible. His eyes were practically blades as he looked over the man. “this is Aspro, he will take any work as long as they’ll pay his fee. The dirtier the job the better.”
“What should we do with him?” Theo asked.
“Burn him, I’m going to find out who did this to my family.”
“Rapunzel and Casimer said for you to stay close. They know you’re angry, but it makes sense. Whoever had the balls to do this will do it again.”
“I know, it was personal and people who deal in this sort of thing refuse to give up until the job is done. We have to catch the next one alive.”
“We will uncle, just go back to our house and we’ll take care of this pig.” Theo Jr. chimed in.
“Thank you.” He raced back to Theo’s house, wanting to hold his wife and son and make sure they were really okay. He ran right in again, this time startling Laura. “Where are they?”
“Belle went up to put Gabriel down for a nap. I moved him over to Theo Jr.’s room so you could spend some time with Belle. She’s worried about her hair and I think she needs some cheering up.”
He headed quietly upstairs, hearing Belle’s beautiful voice as she sang to their son. He leaned against the hallway wall and just waited. When she came out and closed the door he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. “I can’t believe I almost lost you.” He whispered and pressed his forehead against hers, his hands cupping her cheeks. “If Gabriel had not been there…”
“Hush now, I’m okay.”
“I need to make sure.” He lifted her off her feet and carried her to the room across the hall, kicking the door closed and lowering her to her feet. “He choked you. That bastard.”
“I’m okay baby.” He ran his fingers over the bruises then tangled his fingers in her hair and tipped her head back and brushed his lips over the marks.
“I’m never going to let anyone hurt you again, I promise.” He pulled her dress slowly down, letting it fall to the floor before running his hands gently over her. “Turn around.” She blushed but turned anyway. “You have some bruises on your back.” He kissed them then spun her back around. “I love you so much.” He pushed her back onto the bed and kissed his way up her body.
“I love you too Zane.”
Zane lifted Belles legs and she wrapped them tightly around his hips. He moved at an even pace, leaning down to trail kisses on her neck. Zane picked up the pace as he began to lick and bite her neck and shoulders. Belle struggled to remain silent, not wanting Laura or Gabril to hear her moans of pleasure. She almost couldn’t contain herself any longer when she whispered “You need to finish baby. You’re lasting, I can tell” Zane bit her ear then whispered “you need to know how sexy and gorgeous you are. You are never anything short of a goddess my love. Your short hair is cute and I love it” In a moan she hadn’t intended Belle said “I know I am baby, just finish before the whole house hears me” Zane went faster, slamming himself into Belle then locking their lips as he spent his seed inside of her. He got on the bed with her and settled under the covers. “I can also get at your neck easier. Your hair is normally all over it”
Belle smiled “thank you, it’s nice to hear you like it. I was upset when it had to be cut. The assassin cut off quite a bit of my hair when I opened the bathroom door.” Zane felt himself growing choleric again so he kissed her “Never be upset about anything that involves your appearance. I love you, I will always love you and think you’re beautiful. I’ll cut my hair too if it’ll make you happy? Do you want mine cut?” Belles smile grew bigger and she shook her head softly. “you sure? I’ll get dressed and ask Laura right now”
“I’m sure baby” Zane pulled Belle closer “right now I’m just happy I have a wife and son. I need you two.”
“Talking about it gets you upset Zane.”
“I kind of need to to keep myself calm if that makes any sense. I want so badly to hunt the jerks down but your siblings are right. It’s better I guard you and force whatever bastard comes next to tell me who hired them and why. Could I know what precisely happened baby? Could you walk me through it or would it be hard for you?”
“Not with you here it isn’t hard. I finally feel safe and relaxed.” Belle told him the whole story. She had trouble when she got to the part where Gabriel made his kill but she powered through it. “he told me yesterday that he wants to be an assassin like you. I want you to know I approve but only on the condition you wait longer. He’s made his kill but please let him get a bit older, please. He’s different than you. You were raised to be a killer from the moment you took your first breaths. I don’t think he could handle going to work with you and giving up his free time for training just yet. You don’t have to be the bad guy, I’ll tell him I want him to be older”
Zane stroked his wifes back “I’ll tell him. It hurts you more when he’s angry so if he gets upset I want it to be aimed at me. How much older do you want him to be?”
“We can negotiate so conter offer me if you want..you are his father and being an assassin is what your line has always done. You can start teaching him technique at ten but I don’t want him going on any jobs until he’s atleast eleven. I want twelve but I know thats a long wait to you… counter offer?”
“that sits fine with me Belle. He obviously has natural ability as I do. He can be great without giving up his childhood. I have told you I dont care what people have done before me. I want you and my children happy. If you told me never for any of them I would respect that Belle. Thank you for allowing me to teach our boy when I know how you still struggle with what I do. I know you know our world needs people like myself to keep order but you can’t help your feelings. You are honestly having a harder time with the fact Gabriel killed someone for you than he is. He saw it as what needed to be done to keep his mother alive. You don’t know how proud I am and how grateful I feel.”
“He is already so much like you it’s scary. I swear if I didn’t keep an eye on him he’d be climbing up the side of the house. He makes hide and seek totally unfair.” Zane laughed and kissed the top of her head.
“I love you my sweet, gentle princess.” He tipped her head back and kissed her softly on the lips. “You are never allowed to leave me. Even if death tries to take you, I will fight with all my strength to get you back.”
“I know, I love you too.” She yawned, exhausted from everything that had happened. She finally felt safe enough to completely relax. She kissed his chest and fell asleep knowing if anyone came for her or Gabriel again Zane would be there to take care of them.
Zane held tightly to his wife, feeling angry again at the fact someone would attack his family. If Rapunzel and Casimer had not ordered him to stay he would be out searching for the man who had paid the worst of the worst to kill his beloved and son. He closed his eyes, allowing himself to fall asleep, but staying alert in case something happened. There was a light knocking on their door some time later, making Zane’s eyes snap open. “Who is it?”
“TJ uncle Zane, mom wanted me to wake you.”
“We’ll be down in a moment.” He kissed Belle awake, making her smile. “It’s time to get up my love.”
“Oh no, Gabriel. I bet he’s been up for awhile.”
“You know how much they love that boy and that he’s not a bother.” He kissed his way from her cheek to her neck, nibbling at her skin so she squirmed and giggled.
“Zane be good.”
“I am being very good to my wife.” He nudged her legs apart with his knee and settled himself between her thighs. “I’ll be quick I promise.” He whispered as he pushed into her, capturing her lips with his to muffle her moans. She clung to him, letting herself get lost in their passionate lovemaking. Even now she could tell he was worried and angry and needed to know she was alive. There was a definite hint of desperation. Her back arched off the bed and he moaned loudly into her mouth as he found his release. “I love you so much.” He whispered.
“I love you too. Now let’s get down to our son before he comes up here.”
Prince Lawrence quickly ate dinner then hurried to his chambers. He needed this taken care of tonight since his bride to be would be arriving tomorrow to move in the castle. If his fiance was anything like his mother she would be into everything he was doing and he didn’t trust she wouldn’t tell on him. He knew his father wouldn’t abide by him slapping her and making her mind her own business. That couldn’t happen until he was king so he would have to hide or stop the things his father wouldn’t approve of. It was annoying to Lawrence what goody two shoes his parents were. He believe people of power should use that power. They especially needed to use it against people who would shame them like Belle. In Lawrence’s eyes it was an insult for Belle to reject his proposal all those years ago. Every woman who had insulted him had paid the price and soon that bitch blonde would too.
Lawrence laid in bed until late in the night then put on his disguise. He couldn’t have the peasants seeing him going into Prells home. He checked himself over in the mirror, confident not a soul could ever recognize him. Lawrence silently pushed open his large door then snuck out of the castle. He walked to the stables and took a horse they rarely used so nobody would recognize it as a royal steed. He had it walk at a slow pace so not to wake anyone. It would take awhile to get to Prells this way but he would do anything to not cast suspicion on himself. When he finally arrived at Prells he knocked loudly, not caring if he woke the assassin. He heard prell groan and walk over angrily. Prell swung open the door “this better be good!”
Lawrence tried to push his way inside but Prell was a formidable wall. Lawrence whispered “I have a job for you. I’m the prince and can pay your fee”
“I know that. Your disguise is no better than a child putting on a play. It’s sad really you find that mess clever” Lawrence glared ‘just let me in”
“Of course your majesty” Prell said in a slight mocking manner which greatly pissed Lawrence off. When they were sitting Prell asked “You want me to kill Belle?” Lawrence’s eyes widened “what?” Prell sighed “just stop insulting my intelligence. First that lousy disguise and now you expect me not to know my neighbor winds up dead by Zanes kid because he was attacking Belle when the only jobs he’s been taking lately are from you? I’ve seen you going over there you twit!” Lawrence grew pale, if Prell knew he wondered who else might. “dont you worry little prince. I’ll kill her for you. I expect over my asking price though. I don’t fear many people Lawrence but Zane, well, lets just say he has earned that reputation. If I’m going against him I need incentive”
“And you shall have it. I will triple your asking price.”
“I’ve never had anyone offer up so much for one little woman. This sounds very personal, let me guess she broke your little heart.”
“Do you want the job or not?”
“Of course I do, I’m just having a bit of fun. I’ll leave once you’re gone.”
“Excellent and be sure to bring me back some of her hair as a trophy and try not to get it soaked.”
“Of course your majesty.” He gave a sarcastic bow and watched the spoiled prince turn and leave. As much as he detested the brat money was money and he planned on earning every cent.
Belle jerked awake, her heart beating fearfully in her chest. She was soaked in sweat and it made her hair and nightgown cling to her. She turned and shook her husband. “Zane, please wake up.” Her whispered voice roused him.
“What’s wrong, did you hear something?” His fingers gripped the dagger under his pillow, his body poised to strike if something came through their door.
“No, I had a nightmare.” He relinquished his hold on the dagger and pulled her into his arms.
“What was it about?”
“Gabriel killing that man. It was so horrific. I know it’s a stupid thing to dwell on, but seeing him with blood on his little hands scared me.”
“Nothing you think is ever stupid, never think that. I value your opinion above all others. Do you want me to tell him no?”
She shook her head. “That would be unfair. This is something he wishes to do, not something he is being forced into like your father did to you. I would never take away his dream. It’s just hard right now. Besides, he was upset enough after dinner when you told him he wouldn’t be starting until he was ten. I just need time to come to grips with the idea.”
“It’s understandable baby, but just remember that he’ll be completely safe with me.”
“I know and I love and trust you very much.”
He kissed her softly. “Do you feel better now?”
“Yes, thank you. I think I’m going to bathe really quick. I’m covered in sweat.”
“Would you like me to join you?”
“No, you rest. You’re the one who has to fight dangerous assassins. I’ll yell if I need you.”
“ok my love, only if you’re sure”
“I’m sure” Belle kissed Zane. He took her face in his hands to hold the kiss a few moments. When he could make himself let go Belle grabbed another nightgown then went in the bathroom. Zane didn’t like Belle going anywhere on her own, especially not down the hall to the bathroom. Zane knew she might just need a moment alone. He knew she had been hoping Gabriel didn’t want to become an assassin. He only killed serial rapists, murderers, sex traffickers and torturers but to Belle killing was killing. He didn’t know if he could do this job if she didn’t insist she knew the kingdom needed his work and she didn’t think badly of him. She always told him she may not like what he does but its an important job and needs to be done. He laid there hoping she wouldn’t lump him in with the assassins being sent after her. He wasn’t like those men attacking anybody. He would never do that. Once he felt like somthing was gripping his heart he quieted his worrying mind. He needed to be alert and ready. If he was in his own head he might miss the next assassin coming and have Belles life at risk again.
Belle scrubbed herself down, dried then went to check on Gabriel. He was sleeping soundly. It was somthing Belle was glad to see. She didn’t like when he was tense and worried. He obviously knew as she did that nobody could hurt them with Zane home. Days passed, Zanes watchful eye not wavering. He didn’t think anyone from this kingdom would be foolish enough to attack their princess so whoever was doing this had to come from another kingdom so reason would have it that it would take a few days for another to arrive. After lunch they took Gabriel outside since he wanted to run around. Zane was a bit more paranoid out in the open but Belle was right. Gabriel had been really good and deserved some time outside. He hated being in the house unless it was bath time.
Gabriel wanted to play hide and seek but knew that was out of the question right now. The second thing he thought of doing was practicing how to be an assassin with his father but they had already told him he had to wait. He thought it was stupid since his dad went on his first job at four and had been training since he was able. He also realized it was for his mother. It became obvious quick how uncomfortable his mother was with his fathers job. The other women would always want to talk to her about Zanes work just like the other boys with him. He noticed his mother always changing the subject as fast as possible. Her close friends knew better than to even bring up his fathers work. “can we walk around mother?” Gabriel asked. Belle looked at Zane and he sighed. Belles eyes were asking him to say yes and he couldn’t refuse. “as long as we stay out in the open and the two of you stay close to me.” Gabriel and Belle took his hands and they began to walk.
Prill finally arrived in Rapunzels kingdom. He dismounted his horse and left it. Zane wouldn’t have left his wife after such an event so he knew the man would be on guard if he heard a horse coming. His feet were better anyway. He could move just as soundlessly as Zane could. Prill began running which caught the attention of a guard that Rapunel had patrolling the lands of her kingdom. Just as the guard went to blow his whistle for a warning Prill pulled out his samurai sword, taking the guards head clean off. When he reached Belles house he became silent as he slinked inside the abode. He checked the house and saw they weren’t staying there. Prill assumed she must still be at her older brothers home.When Belle, Zane and Gabriel arrived back Gabriel said “I have to go pee. You and mommy can stay out here.” Belle spoke before Zane could refuse “Ok, Laura, Theo and Theo Jr are in there. You scream at the top of your lungs if somebody tries to hurt you” Gabriel nodded then ran inside.
“Belle, assassins are fast. He may not have time to scream. I should have followed and waited outside the door”
“I was the target and he’s not used to being on such a leash. If you think it’s needed we can go listen to the boy pee but since I’m what they were after I’m not worried about him relieving himself on his own” Zane sat down “come here please” Belle smiled and sat in his lap. Zane wrapped his arms around her then kissed Belles cheek “I just love you two so much. I can’t lose either of you” Belle suddenly felt sick to her stomach. She knew it couldn’t have been Zanes words, besides she had been nauseous the morning she was attacked for no reason atall. She wondered if maybe she was pregnant again. It wasn’t a concern she’d bring up to Zane. Somthing like that would only put him further on edge. Prill was using his binoculars from a far off tree when he spotted Zane holding Belle. There was no way he could get close to her like that so he was glad he brought his bow. It wasn’t somthing he normally used to kill but he did bring it along when he knew getting close to a target would be difficult. This was one of the reasons Zane was disgusted by Prill. All assasins lived by their blades. Zane felt Prill made a mockery of the art with his bow and arrow. If an arrow came at them he would know just what assassin was sent next since only Prill would disgrace the assassins art in such a way.
Prill silently traveled closer until he was at a near enough tree to make his shot. Prill climbed up, took his bow off his back then slid a quiver out of its holder. He pulled the arrow back, aimed and let his shot fly. It was headed for the center of both of them. Zane heard the whistle of the arrow. He quickly laid Belle on the ground, stood, unsheathed his dagger and cut the arrows head off just as it would have landed. belle hadn’t been able to process a single second but she did see the broken arrow on the ground and looked up to see her husband seething then say through gritted teeth “Prill” Zane then yelled it “Prill! Come here and be a real assassin!”
“Who is…” Zane held up his hand to quiet her.
“If I have to come for you then your death will be far more painful than it has to be.”
Prill dropped out of the tree, the movement instantly catching Zane’s attention. “Be careful.” Belle whispered.
“Get inside and make sure everything is locked.” She scrambled to her feet and hurried inside, slamming and locking the door.
“What’s going on?” Theo asked.
“The assiassin is outside with Zane. He said to make sure everything is locked.” Everyone jumped up and ran around the house, checking the windows and closing the curtains. Belle ran upstairs, grabbing Gabriel as soon as he was walking down the hall.
“Mom, what’s wrong?”
“We have to stay close to Uncle Theo, Aunt Laura, and Theo Jr. someone bad is outside with daddy.”
“Did you get hurt again?”
“No baby, mommy’s fine. Let’s go sit downstairs.”
Zane glared angrily at Prill, his usual calm self vanishing at the sight of this fiend who would dare strike against his loved ones. “The mighty Zane, most feared assassin, the scourge of evil men. Some people call you a ghost, but we both know you are just a man who under normal circumstances would be dead.”
“You are nothing but a coward, striking from a distance and at an innocent woman. My woman. I will kill you if I must.”
“Come on now Zane, we know that woman has made you weak.” He pulled his sword out. “It will be a great story to tell the others, that I took down the most feared Zane Koopman.” Zane ran at him, quickly crossing the ground that lay between them. Prill swung his sword and Zane went into a slide, kicking Prill’s feet out from under him. They were both back up in an instant and circling each other like wild dogs.
“You’re far to slow Prill and clumsy. That may work when you are killing innocent people who no nothing of fighting, but it will not work on me.” Prill swung at him and he blocked the back stepped and blocked again. “It’s true you have speed and stealth, but you are as much an assassin as I am a civilian.” Prill came at him in a rage, not liking being mocked. Zane blocked his next blow then punched him in the face and kicked his knee. “Tell me who sent you and you may walk away this day.” He kicked him in the chest so he fell back and Zane straddled his chest, his knees pinning Prill’s arms to the ground. “Tell me now.”
“Alright, it was Prince Lawrence. Apparently your princess spurned his advances. He has had many women killed for the same.”
Zane stood and kicked him in the ribs. “Get out of here, but sleep with one eye open because when the King and Queen put a price on your head, I will be the one sneaking into your bedroom to collect it.”
Prill got up “She’s just a woman Zane. You are a renowned assassin. You could easily find another”
“There is no other Belle. Get out of here or I’ll kill you now” Prill ran and Zane approached Theo and Lauras door to knock. “Its me” Zane said and Theo answered “he’s gone, I am going to tell Rapunzel and Casimer who’s behind this. Keep my wife and son locked up still, just to be sure.”
“Could I know who?”
“One of the men who asked for Belles hand when she came of age. Prince Lawrence.” Both Lauras and Theos jaws dropped, for a prince to commit high treason was almost unthinkable. Especially since they knew his parents well. They were kind, wise rulers. Laura had even escorted their family a few times. “shut the door please” Zane said breaking the silence. They shut and locked it. Zane checked the door then ran to the castle. Belle wasn’t surprised atall. Lawrence was the only prince to actually throw a tantrum when she refused his offer of marriage. A number of men got offended but Lawrence threw an all out tantrum, even being escorted back by his father to apologize to everyone it was so bad. Casimer and Rapuzel rushed into the thrown room when they heard Zane was here “what is it Zane?”
“I just came to blows with the second assassin sent. He admitted to me it is Prince Lawrence who wants Belle dead. Apparently he’s had other women who rejected him killed aswell” Rapunzel placed a hand over her mouth, how was she to tell his parents. They were such kind people and she knew they’d be heartbroken. Casimer said ‘then we must travel to his kingdom and let his parents know” Rapunzel and Zane nodded “I would like to accompany you two. I’m sure Belle will want to come and Gabriel likes traveling. I want them to see my wife anyway, I want it to sink in just who their son was trying to have killed”
“We’re all going” Snow said as she and Malachai came into the throne room. “The more the better incase another tries to attack Belle. Theres no telling if he’s sending one at a time since his first attempt failed. We will all meet at three outside the castle. I’ll have carriages ready for us to make our way to Prince Lawrences kingdom.” Zane bowed even though he never had to. He respected his queen even though she was his sister in law.
He would get his family packed and make sure Theo, TJ, and Laura were willing to travel. He wouldn’t force them to go, but figured he’d ask. He ran back to Theo’s home and knocked on the door. “It’s just me.” Theo opened the door and he stepped inside, hugging Belle and Gabriel. “We need to pack, we’re leaving to confront Lawrence at three.”
“May we accompany you?” Theo asked.
“I was just about to ask. Yes, please hurry and pack. I’ll head to our house and pack for all three of us. I want you two here safe.”
“Okay, just hurry please.” Belle replied and he gave her a kiss before bending down and planting one on his son’s forehead.
“Take care of mommy until I get back.”
“Yes sir.” Belle watched as Zane hurried off, still on edge from being attacked a second time, but knowing he wasn’t far and would be back as fast as he could run. She sat down, resting a hand on her stomach and rubbing it worriedly.
“Belle sweeties are you pregnant?” Laura asked quietly.
“I don’t know, maybe. Why do you ask?”
“You’re rubbing your stomach again.”
“Please don’t say anything to Zane, he has enough stress right now. He doesn’t need to know I was pregnant when I was attacked when we’re about to confront the man who hired those assassins. I’ll tell him afterwards, just please keep this between us and Gabriel.”
“I understand, do you want me to check just in case. You know I can sense life.”
“Sure, if you want to.”
Belle stood and Laura placed her and on her abdomen, allowing her magic to flow into Belle. “Oh yes, but you’re not that far along.”
“Can you tell what she’s going to have?” Gabriel asked excitedly.
Laura laughed. “No sweetheart I can’t, you’ll just have to wait until the baby is born. It’ll be a really nice surprise.”
“Yeah and remember, it’s a secret for now so don’t say anything to daddy.” Belle chimed in.
“Okay, I’m real good at keeping secrets.”
At three everybody met then began on their way. They traveled as quickly as they could without asking too much of their horses. They wanted this mater dealt with and to spare any loves they could. They didn’t know how many girls he planned on killing after Belle or how many he had killed before her. When they finally arrived Rapunzel spoke “I know everyone is upset but only Belle and Zane will accompany Casimer and I in the throne room. They will be embarrassed, i know that for sure. They haven’t done anything and knowing them they know nothing of what Lawrence is doing or they would have stopped him. We owe them the courtesy of not making them a spectacle at such a shameful hour.” Snow and Malachai weren’t happy but obeyed without question. Zane took his wife and sons hand as they approached the castle doors. Rapunzel knocked and a made answered “Oh, your majesty. What are you doing here if I may ask?”
“It’s a private matter. I need an audience with your king and queen.”
“Yes mam, go on into the throne room. I’ll fetch them at once” Another servant appeared and guided them all to the throne room. They stood there, Zane resisting finding Lawrence and gutting him with all that he had. About fifteen minuets later the king and queen entered “This must be an urgent matter for you to come without warning” The queen said concerned “it is, This may be hard to believe but two assassins have tried to claim my sisters life” The king spoke this time “I’ve heard, I’ve also heard of other royals that ahve lost their lives recently. It’s had us both on edge”
“As hard as it is to say Zane got the last one to talk and tell us who hired him.” Rapunzel paused, having trouble telling these two wonderful people she’s known all her life what their son was capable of. “Go on, we all need to know and protect ourselves.” Casimer sighed and finished for his wife “The assassin Prill claims your son is the one who hired him. His claim is backed up by the fact it’s only women who rejected his hand in marriage that are ending up dead. If you check yourself your majesty you’ll see that this is true. We know its hard to hear and as you can see it’s hard for my wife to say. We wouldn’t accuse your son of such a thing if we weren’t sure”
“I can’t believe this. Gregory, get my son and bring him here.” The king said to the guard standing next to him. They waited patiently and could hear Lawrence belittling Gregory as he was escorted into the throne room. He froze when he saw Belle, his eyes widening in shock.
“Belle, what are you doing here?” He asked.
“You mean what am I doing here alive right.”
“Don’t even try to worm your way out of this you bastard. You tried to have me killed twice, once in front of my little boy. You put blood on his hands.”
“Mother, father these accusations are lies from a woman who…”
“Shut up you pathetic excuse for a prince. You sent them because I rejected you, because I could see through that charming little mask to the worm underneath. You had me attacked for telling you exactly what I thought of you. This was just another one of your childish temper tantrums, but instead of growing up and moving on you had innocent women murdered.”
“Where is your proof? This little charade isn’t going to work.”
“The second assassin you sent, Prill, he spilled his guts the moment he realized he couldn’t best me.” Zane said cooly. “He gave you up and that’s saying something. You are a weak creature prince, a weak and stupid creature. You see when Prill takes a contract he steals a little something as collateral, something that wouldn’t be missed, something to be left on his body in case he is caught or killed to let people know who he had dealings with.” Zane reached into his shirt and pulled out a handkerchief. “If I remember correctly Lawrence these are your initials embroidered here. You carry these because you can’t stand to sweat. Not enough training. All the women who rejected you are dead, well at least those that came before Belle. You know if I were a weaker man I would slit you open and leave you in the woods just for cutting her hair, but my Belle is not a fan of violence so I will leave it to your parents to decide your fate.”
“Lawrence, how could you?” The queen covered her mouth in shock and the king looked shamefully at his son.
“Mom, dad, please.”
“Get him out of my sight and have a bounty put on the head of that assassin Prill.” Gregory snapped his fingers and two guards grabbed the prince. He begged as the took him away, but his parents were no longer listening. “We are so very sorry for what he has done. Where did we go wrong?”
“Do not blame yourself, he was just plain and simply bad.” Rapunzel said. “We will have a bounty put on the head of the assassin as well. I am sure Zane will take care of it.”
“Yes, he’s my prey now. He signed a death warrant the moment he accepted the job, sir.”
The queens eyes grew watery. She loved her son despite the ass he had grown up to be. Once the people found out he would have to be stripped of his title and banished. She couldn’t see her only son any longer.The king saw his wifes flowing cheeks. “I think we must retire. I will figure out the names of each woman my son had killed then go to them myself and apologize. not that it will bring back their children but the families are atleast owed an apology to their face. I’d make my son do it if he weren’t destined to be banished now” Rapunzel and Casimer bowed “Sorry we had to bring such news of your son”
“I hope nothing like this befalls you two with your children” The queen said in a heartbreaking tone. Belle felt her heart go out to the queen as they left the throne room. “why don’t we stay in the hotel we last passed. Zane does have work to do afterall” Belles frown deepend, it tugged at Zanes heart “i don’t have to yet” He said as he stroked Belles cheek. She grabbed his hand “while we’re already here you should. You could go now and we could head to the hotel. ”
“I want to atleats make sure you get there alright my love. I will go once you and our son have a room” Belle nodded and Zane picked her up. He only set her down when they got in the carriage. The hotel wasn’t far so rode straight there. They unloaded, stabled their horses then went in. Zane carried the luggage to Belles room then set it by the bed. “Gabriel, could you go help Rapunzel and Casimer?”
“Yes sir” Gabriel said then ran out. Zane hugged Belle “why are you so sad?”
“That poor woman, she wont be able to see her son any longer because of this. I couldn’t imagine if I couldn’t see my babies” Zane kissed her cheek “that would never happen Belle. Do you need me to stay?”
“No, I have our son. We’ve raised such a sweet boy”
“and he’ll always be sweet” Belle nodded “I’m just emotional. I’m sorry, thank you for caring so much”
“You’re my wife, of course I care when you’re upset”
“Just be careful and come back to us. We need you.” He ran his fingers through her hair then kissed her softly.
“I promise to make this as quick as possible.” He left before her sad face pulled him in and made him stay. Leaving her in such a state was harder than he let on, but he had to become the hunter if he was going to catch Prill. He knew that Prill was a man of habit and would be scrambling to get his finances in order so he could flee. He wouldn’t be home, but more than likely at the harbor boarding a ship, believing distance would save him. Zane ran through the city, slipping past pedestrians and carriages. He made it to the harbor in record time, waiting and watching.
It didn’t take him long to spot the monster who had tried to take his beloved from him. He believed himself invisible in the crowd. Zane moved easily around the people, his eyes never leaving the assassin. He watched Prill board a large cargo vessel and hand one of the men a sack of money befor disappearing. Zane walked up to the man who looked at him as if death himself had come for his soul. “The man who just paid you, where is his room?”
“Port side, third room.”
“Do not cast off until I am done here and have two of your best ready to dispose of a body once you are out to sea. Use stone blocks to sink him.”
Zane climbed up the side of the ship, moving around to the bow and then to the left side of the ship. He pulled himself along until he came to the third porthole. He dropped down, grabbing the small lip and peeking inside. Prill had not entered his room yet so he pushed the porthole open and slipped inside then closed it and climbed up onto the single crossbeam. The bedroom door opened and he slipped his dagger from its sheath. Prill tossed his bag into the corner and then sat down on the small cot to pull his boots off. Zane dropped down behind him and grabbed a handful of his hair. He wrenched his head back and pressed his blade against Prill’s throat.
“Coward, did you really think you could escape me?” Zane whispered menacingly.
“Zane please, I have money in that bag. You can have all of it if you let me go.”
“Accept your fate.” He stabbed Prill in the throat and let him drop onto the floor. He wiped his blade off on Prill’s shirt then exited through the door. There were two men there with rags, water, and a large barrel. “Remember heavy stone blocks and wait until you are out to sea. There is a bag in there with your payment.”
“yes sir” they both said as Zane passed. He hurried back to the hotel. He needed to make Belle feel better. Zane smiled when he walked in to find Belle napping. Gabriel was sitting there touching his mothers stomach, it confused him further when Gabriel jerked his hand away. “Oh, hi dad. That was quick”
“why were you touching your mothers stomach?”
“I dont know” He lied. Zane gave him the look that told Gabriel he was aware that wasn’t the truth. Gabriel got off the bed then pulle dhis father down by his shirt to whisper in his ear “it’s a secret. Moms going to tell you soon. I told mom I wouldn’t tell so I can’t” Zane smiled, already knowing. She was emotional and now he sees his son touching his mothers stomach. “alright, you don’t have to tell me”
“Can I sleep in Theo Jrs room? He invited me”
“Of course you can”
“Thanks dad, can I go ahead and go hangout with him?”
“Of course, go along.” Gabriel hugged his dad then ran out. Zane laid down, taking his wife in his arms. She woke a little later. Her sleepy eyes slowly opening to see Zane smiling happily at her “I’m glad you’re back” Belle said softly. Zane gave her a gentle, yet powerful kiss “have a good nap?”
“Yeah, where’s Gabriel?”
“Hanging out with Theo Jr” Belle smiled then grabbed his hand, placing it on her stomach. “Now it’s finally time for my happy news. I’m pregnant again. Laura just confirmed it, I ahven’t known long. I thought it would be best not to add stress to you” Zane gave her another kiss “Thank you, I may have not been able to control myself if you hadn’t waited. I can’t wait to meet him or her. I kind of miss the baby days”
“Yeah, me too. I want one more after this one”
“We’ll have as many as you want Belle”
“I think three is a good number.”
“What will we name this one?”
“Cantaly for a girl, I don’t know for a boy”
“Could I choose the boy name?”
“Then I’ll get to thinking what I want if we ahve another boy. For your sake, I hope it’s a girl”
“I know you want a little girl to dress up and have tea parties with.”
“That would be fun. Gabriel grew out of tea parties so fast” Zane smiled “Most boys do. I will pray for a girl”
“It’ll be fine, I love Gabriel and will love all my boys if I end up with three”
“I know Belle” Zane kissed her stomach then pulled Belle close again. “You are the most amazing woman in the world. There isn’t another like you in any universe. You stole my heart the first time I ever saw you when we were children. I didn’t know it then but I got so jealous when anybody not related to you held you.” Belle giggled “I know, my brothers told me” Zane chuckled. They laid there talking about happy things until night came. They both drifted to sleep feeling happy and excited about the new life growing inside Belle.
~ The End ~