Chapter I - Different Worlds

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GIDEON ARCHER

"Lord Archer! Fancy meeting you here." Alistair Pembroke. Founder of Pembroke Motor Corporation, the maker of everything from small airplanes, fancy automobiles to boats and yachts. Playboy extraordinaire. He's as pretentious as they come. Eager and desperate to make a connection with the Palace. If only he knew that the Crown Prince and his pack were here, in California.

He reaches for my hand and pounds my back like we're old friends.

"Mr. Pembroke," I acknowledge him because to do otherwise is rude and I am anything but uncultured. It doesn't mean that I like the prick.

"Ms. Helen Aristophanes." He turns his attention to my companion. "How do you do?"

I have to refrain from making a snide comment because I know they knew each other in a biblical sense...more than once, while she professed to be loyal only to me.

"Mr. Pembroke." Helen bestows him one of her sultry and seductive smiles and offers him her hand. His eyes make a quick scan over her body before he lifts her hand up to his lips.

"So, what brings the legendary Lord Archer here tonight?" he asks, bringing his attention back to me after slowly releasing her hand. "I never thought I'd see you among humans."

I dig my hands into the pocket of my pants and look around us. The Charity Gala is in full swing; flowing champagne, live music, men in their thousands of dollar suits and women flaunting themselves in designer dresses. This place is crawling with humans. I only see two other lycans here tonight. They're probably Pembroke's security detail or his friends. It's the place to see and to be seen. No one really gives a damn about the cause. "Why, to support the charity, of course," I deadpan.

"Yes, of course," he replies.

"There you are, Alistair." A beautiful lycan woman sidles up next to him. "I was looking for you," she says before she casts her eyes up to me expectantly.

"Lord Archer, let me introduce you to my date, Juana Vega," says Pembroke. "Juana, this Lord Archer and his date, Ms. Helen Aristophanes."

"His companion, actually," says Helen before I have the chance to say anything. She curls her fingers around my arm. "It's nice to meet you."

"Oh, my...you're Lord Archer," breathes Juana Vega. Her eyes bright in her face. "Alistair, you never told me that you knew Lord Archer."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Vega," I tell her, shaking her offered hand.

"The pleasure's all mine." She's still looking starstruck. I feel Helen's hand tightens around my bicep and I try to hide my annoyance. I need to have a talk with Helen about this possessiveness soon. We both understand that she has no claim over me as I have no claim over her.

"Well, you have to sit with us." Pembroke raises his hand to indicate the VIP section at the front.

"I'm afraid, we won't be staying," I tell him.

"Oh, do stay, please. The dance floor will be cleared for dancing soon," he insists. Pembroke has been trying hard to get close to me for years. I'm guessing that's because of my connection to the palace.

"I wish I could, but I have work to do, Mr. Pembroke."

"Darling, you're always working. The party looks like fun." Helen pouts. I'm sure Alistair Pembroke finds her pout sexy. I find the sight irritating.

"You know very well that I can't stay. Besides, we have that reservation at Providence," I tell her. I'm here to deliver a message from the palace to one of the most powerful allies outside the Kingdom. Message delivered. My job is done. I need to leave. "Perhaps our paths will cross again in the future, Mr. Pembroke."

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