Chapter 120 – Lesson Number One – Talon's POV

Raine stared after Marku for a moment, still glaring with murderous contempt, and then began to follow him back to Tobias' room.

..........

The instant we entered the room, my eyes instinctually searched for Maya. I found her kneeling along with the rest of the pets, her head cast down as protocol dictated in the presence of a king and queen.

Today was the first time I had ever seen her wearing clothes. She was dressed in a pair of Raine's jeans and pink button-down shirt with tiny flowers. Her fingers fidgeted with the hem of the top, grasping it tightly and feeling the fabric nervously. I understood the strangeness she felt, the odd feeling of fabric against flesh after being absent for so long. Seraphine preferred her pets to be completely naked, rarely allowing the tiniest of lingerie for a specific occasion.

Maya's chin was down, initially concealing her neck, but when I walked further into the room, I noticed a change. Her previous plain leather collar was gone, in its place, was a delicate collar with glittering crystals. I was stunned. It wasn't just that she wore a different collar that was so startling, but the style of it – only pets of high-ranking officials were allowed crystal or studded collars. It represented the status of their owners and very few pets had them. My glance drifted down the line of kneeling pets. Every one of them wore a new collar – crystals for the females, silver studs for the males.

Their new additions hadn't escaped Raine's attention either. She halted, and stared at them in confusion, her mouth slightly open.

Marku stopped talking and followed her line of sight. His eyes shifted to understanding and he murmured, "I thought you would prefer having every trace of Seraphine removed from them."

Raine's head snapped up to meet his intense gaze, studying his face, her eyebrows furrowed, her head tilted to the side just slightly. A long moment of silence remained between them.

He had guessed correctly. She absolutely hated that they still wore Seraphine's collars, but the law stated every pet had to wear a collar and we had not come prepared with more than the silver one for Seraphine.

Finally, she spoke, the words coming out quietly, "Thank you."

He simply nodded and continued their previous conversation. "The SUV is here now. Are you ready for them to leave?"

She looked to me. "Is there anything else you need from me before you go?"

I considered her words. Kieran was already waiting for us at the hotel. I had given him a preliminary list of instructions and would go over the details when I arrived. I shook my head. "No, I think I have everything."

Raine walked to me, her hand reaching to my cheek, just a touch of comfort and support. I leaned into her strength. She whispered, "Be safe. I will see you when you return."

"Yes, my lady."

Impulsively, she threw her arms around me.

I coiled my arms around her back and held her close, my head down on her shoulder, nearly engulfing her tiny frame with my much larger one. After a moment, she released me and stepped back. "Okay."

I addressed the pets, "Come."

They all obediently stood and filed toward the door. Raine ignored them completely, her eyes remaining on me instead. I knew she would. They belonged to me now. She would not interfere in my choices and decisions for them.

..........

The drive to the hotel was quiet, no one spoke a word. Of course, the pets wouldn't speak unless addressed directly. But there was so much I wanted, needed, to say. I just couldn't. Not now, not yet.

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