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The Crimson Grimalkin (Book 5 )

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When Tawny, a were-cat hybrid is called back to the Kingdom of Cambiador, by her estranged grandfather. Tawny can't help but be curious as to why he would want to meet her after all these years of disowning her late mother. ***** Tawny: I finally found a place where I felt like I belonged. Only I have never felt so unwanted in my life. The mysterious and s*xy Kolby Crimson is my fated mate, yet he has been promised to another. Bound by a contract he has no intention of breaking. A team-building exercise turns into a nightmare trip. Secrets of Cambiador come to light and a night with a pride pack tilts my world even further from its axis. Only one person can get me out of the mess I find myself in. The question is, will he step up to the challenge and save me? His mate, or will he submit to the kingdom's laws and leave me in the den of Lions?

Chapter 1 – Strange

TAWNY

7 Months Earlier

I look at Mason, the warrior were-cat that my best friend and now Queen, Lamia sent to accompany me to the were-cat Kingdom. “Nervous?” He asked.

I smiled politely, “Have you ever been here?” I ask him, deflecting from answering the question. I was nervous as shit, but I refused to let anyone see how much. I had spent the better part of my life timid and weak. I was no longer that girl and refused to show any insecurities.

“Nope, but I have met many fellow were-cats from the Kingdom after Queen Lamia opened a trading route with them.” He said proudly.

I hum in response. I met Lamia a few years ago when my father and I came to live in the Royal Moon Pack, the capital of the werewolf Kingdom. She saved my ass from another kicking the day I met her, and we became the best of friends. Unfortunately, sad times were thrust against her and in a few short months, she lost her mate and the child she was carrying. All because of a Rogue King’s greed. She was kidnapped and tortured held for almost two months and subjected to the worst fate anyone could think of.

The day we rescued her was the day that would change me forever.

Luckily it all worked out, maybe not in the best way but she did kill the Rogue king, yet even that came at a huge cost. When she made MacTire her home, leaving her friends in the Moon Kingdom - I stayed, working as a tracker and advisor for the future King – Prince Kellen Moon. I would have gone with my best friend, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave my father. I hated to think of him alone.

I visited MacTire to see Lamia before I traveled to Cambiador, that’s how I ended up with a hand full of warriors and Mason as my personal bodyguard. Lamia had insisted that if I was coming here, she was sending me with a protection detail.

I didn’t visit her as often as I would have liked, I wasn’t highly comfortable in MacTire and I’m pretty sure that had something to do with her Delta Travis, his wolf wasn’t very fond of me.

Probably because I was one that killed his evil mate.

“Wow!” I exclaim as the lush green jungle opens, and the city comes into view. A beautiful palace sits in the middle of a city, so unlike the one in the Moon Kingdom. Not as grand but holds its own kind of beauty. A serene and tranquil vibe encompasses the surrounding atmosphere, and a feeling of comfort washes over me as the car trundles forward closer to the center of the city, to Cambiador’s palace.

The place where my mother grew up. I suddenly felt much closer to her even though she died when I was young and never told me about her childhood.

“Wow, is the right word.” Mason agrees with me. “Princess Tawny,”

I snap my head to Mason “Just Tawny, I am no princess.” I tell him.

“Tawny,” he corrects himself “I have been instructed to stay by your side at all times, I would appreciate it if you allowed me to do my job?”

“Of course, I actually feel better knowing Lamia sent one of her most trusted men with me. Thank you.” I tell him honestly. I was in a foreign land, one that I wasn’t welcomed in for twenty years. I was grateful for the company and knowing that someone had my back. Even if they were ordered to.

“No need to thank me, I actually requested this assignment,” He winks, flashing me a panty-melting smile. Mason was very easy on the eyes, with his longish brown hair that curled around his ears and those soft brown eyes. He was tall and muscular with a lean build.

I had noticed him the first time I visited my best friend at MacTire. But my eyes were always looking for a certain werewolf that I couldn’t get out of my head. Hunji.

The car comes to a stop, and I realize we had already arrived at the palace. Mason gets out and rushes around the car, opening my door and offering a hand to help me out. I graciously take it, stepping onto the graveled ground and looking around. My eyes take in the surroundings with pure admiration.

I hardly have time to look before a booming voice grabs my attention. “Welcome granddaughter!” I look to see an older man walking down marble steps that adorn the front of the palace. His arms open wide in a welcoming gesture. His smile was broad and sincere.

I study him as he makes his way to me, another tall were-cat, who holds himself with pride and power.

His eyes are the same yellow as mine, but his skin tone is lighter - a chocolate color. For his age, he was handsome, despite the wrinkles, and I imagined he was a looker in his prime. His hair was white and long, tied in a ponytail at the nape of his neck and he was wearing a pair of black slacks and a button-up white shirt.

The old man reaches me. Unexpectedly he pulls me into a bone-crushing hug. Keeping his hands on my upper arms he pushes me back, just so he could get a good look at me. “You look just like your mother, positively beautiful!” he gushes, squeezing my arms.

I pull out of his strong grip and look up at him, giving him the stink eye. I didn’t know this man. King or not, he wasn’t my favorite person and for him to greet me and hug me like he had every right in the realm made something snap inside of me.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you too, your highness but I would appreciate it if you would keep your hands to yourself.” His eyes fly wide in shock, then a look of regret fills them as he considers me.

“My apologies Tawny, I have just been looking forward to this moment for a long time.” He says offering me an apologetic grin.

“Twenty years?” I goad him, crossing my arms over my chest. I wasn’t going to make this easy for him. If he thought I was going to gush over my grandfather the King, he had another thing coming.

“Please let us go inside, I will have the staff show you to your rooms, your warriors will be given accommodation in the army barracks…”

“Mason will be staying in the palace with me, as my personal bodyguard he needs to be near me, and I need to have immediate access to him at all times.”

‘Of course,” he nods and concedes. “I will have a room made up for him close to yours.”

“Princess Tawny,” A young woman whom I neglected to give any notice to, steps up beside my grandfather. “It is a pleasure to meet your acquaintance, my name is Gillian, future wife to the Beta, Kolby Crimson. Please allow me to show you where you will be staying.”

I shake hands with the woman. She seems pleasant and joyful, but I know looks can be deceiving. I take her in; Long blonde hair, blue eyes, and a wispy frame that looks like I could send her on her ass with one sharp blow of breath.

*****

The room I was given was beyond lavish. Almost gaudy. Gold trim decorated the entire room and accented every nook and cranny. It was way too extra.

I opened one of the doors opposite the bed. There were three. The first one opened up to a bathroom that was just as decked out as the bedroom, gold trimmed the shower stall, gold taps on the huge claw foot tub, and a double sink. Even the toilet seat was gold and even bordered the mirror.

I run a hand through my short hair tussling it and blowing out a harsh breath.

I leave the bathroom and open the second door, stepping into the biggest closet I had ever seen in my life. It was as big as Lamia's whole room back at MacTire.

The walls were lined with clothes of all colors and styles. The dressing table against the wall was piled with jewelry. I lifted a necklace; the heaviness of the weighted diamonds was felt in my hands. I dropped the extremely expensive piece back onto the dresser top, furrowing my brows.

This was just... Ridiculous.

"Let's see what's behind door number 3" I sigh, hardly daring to open the last door, afraid of what I would find.

I step into the room. Yes, a room, a huge room with a massive TV that fills one wall, with white couches, accented with good cushions and throw blankets, of course.

I stand there scratching the back of my neck, taking it all in. Unsure of how I should react. Whoever decorated this suite seriously needed to take it down a notch or two. Their taste was… I couldn’t even think of the words to describe it. It was just… wow. And not in a good way.

They gave me the wrong room. That's all can determine - Gillian definitely showed me to the wrong room.

With that decided, I leave the... Lounge room? Walk back through the bedroom and out into the hallway.

I look left and right not seeing anyone. I lean over the balcony that looks over the main foyer of this place. No one. It was so quiet. Too quiet.

"Hey," I startle and jump at the sudden voice. With my hand over my heart, I turn to see Mason wearing a complex frown.

"Shit, you scared the claws from me!" I scold him.

"Sorry." Mason apologizes, his expression not changing. "This place..."

"I'm calling it extra," I tell him.

He chuckles "That's one way of putting it."

"Come with me, come see this," I say grabbing his hand and dragging him to my room.

Mason lets out a low whistle "pretty fancy."

"Yep, hold that thought and go look behind the other doors" I encourage.

"Wow!" I hear him exclaim as he walks into the bathroom, he gives me a quirked eyebrow as he opens door number two "holy shit!" I hear him chuckle "you have your own jewelry store and boutique in there,” he says coming out. "Do I dare go in the last room,"

"I think it's the least offensive" I scoff.

"Damn, princess!" I hear him from in the lounge room. I sit back on the bed. Comfy. Eager to witness his reaction. Because it really is something else.

"Just saying, I'm sleeping in the lounge" I can tell he's jesting but I wouldn't mind if he did. "Definitely not even close to the room I got."

"Really?" I frowned, confused, is his even more overdone?

"Yeah, wanna see where they put me?"

I nod "For sure," this room and all its gold were giving me a headache. It was too much. I hadn't even opened the French doors that looked like they led out to a balcony.

"They put you in here?" I growl, anger bubbling up when I look into the room that was situated at the far end of the hall. It looked like a darn converted storage room. No bathroom, not even a window. "Nope, not happening. Move your bags to my room." I was fuming when I stomped down the hallway, gliding down the staircase to the ground level.

"Tawny..."

"Nope, he wanted me here, he doesn't get to treat you or the other warriors like this. I swear to Bastet if I find our men sleeping in a barn... Ughh!" I'm so mad, there's probably steam coming from my ears.

"Armand!" I use my grandfather's name, dropping any formalities. Why because, how dare he stick my personal bodyguard in a freaking storage room! I mean really! And seriously what is up with the over-the-top room he gave me? "Armand!" I yell out again, louder as my feet weave me through the palace.

My pissed-off state grows the more I walk around looking for an office, or a member of staff, who can tell me where he is.

“Princess Tawny?” I see Gillian emerge from a doorway to my left, “Is everything okay?” Her perfect brows pull together and her sparkling blue eyes hold worry.

“No, not really. Where is Armand?” I demand.

Gillian flinches at my tone, her fingers fidgeting with nervousness “He went to see that your warriors are comfortable in the barracks.” She cocks her head.

“How many people live in this palace?” I question her.

“The King, my fiancé and I, and just a few staff who have rooms in the servant quarters.

“Hmm. Okay, so who can explain to me why my personal bodyguard and a highly decorated warrior of MacTire has been given a room that’s smaller than a broom closet? Also, I’m pretty sure you showed me to the wrong room. Someone’s clothes and jewelry are already in there. There has obviously been some kind of mix-up.”

“Um, well no. No mix-up. That was the room assigned to you, your highness…”

“It’s Tawny.”

“Pardon?”

“My name is Tawny. I am no princess. And was the room Mason assigned, a mix-up?” The woman shakes her head at me.

“We didn’t have another room ready. We didn’t know who you would be coming with.” Her face started turning a bright red, either with embarrassment or anger. She looked more flustered, so I was guessing she was embarrassed. “The King told me to have your room decorated fit for the finest princess.”

Oooh, glad I didn’t say anything like how bad the décor was. I may be being forceful and confrontational right now, but I wasn’t a complete bitch, and I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings. Gillian had done nothing wrong to me.

“Oh, well I wasn’t expecting a room that beautifully decorated,” I try to save myself. I hear Mason scoff behind me and shoot him a glare, daring him to do it again. “However, this mix-up with Mason’s room needs to be fixed. I expect him to be shown the same level of hospitality as you have shown me.” I pause, “Although, he doesn’t need all the clothes… or jewelry. Something bigger but more modest would suit him fine.” I feel the need to explain in simple terms, otherwise, he could end up with a room just as… crazy as mine.

I get the feeling Gillian is a ‘yes SIR’ kind of woman.

“I will make sure that is taken care of your high… I mean Tawny.” She corrects herself.

“Thank you, I appreciate that,” I give her a warm smile, not wanting to make an enemy of her. It’s my grandfather I hold a lot against. This woman hasn’t done anything to me and doesn’t deserve my animosity.

I have a feeling this will be one strange visit.

I still had yet to find out why my estranged Grandfather had requested that I come to visit after so many years.

Chapter 2 – And Stranger

Tawny

Day two in Cambiador: I find myself waking up in the bright room. My short body - lost in the crisp white sheets of the enormous bed I’m sleeping in. It’s so big and high that when I literally crawl to the edge and sit, my feet dangle off the side and I have to hop down.

Landing on two feet, I stretch and make my way to the overly lavish and gold-accented bathroom. I pause by door number three and open it a crack, just to hear Mason’s deep snores coming from his makeshift bed on one of the couches in there.

I chuckle to myself at the sound. I had met Mason a few times, but never really spent an extended amount of time around him. I liked him though. He was down to earth, quick-witted, and an all-around nice guy. Hopefully, they would sort his room out today. It angered me that they would shove him into something that was no better than a broom closet. Like he was beneath them, less cow shit.

After showering and smelling like I dove head-first into a dum

Heroes

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