Alice - POV
I had to get home as soon as possible because it was getting late, and I needed to prepare a meal for Jeffrey before he got home.
"Hey, easy there; why are you rushing?" Isha, my caring neighbor friend, asked as she walked beside me.
"I have to hustle to cook dinner on time. If I saw Jeffery late, you know how upset I would be..." I paused, not adding any further. Isha's expression conveyed her feeling of pity as she gazed at me.
"Why don't you leave such an abusive mate, Alice? I can assist..."
"No, Isha. You know he is simply quick-tempered, but he is faithful to me," I said.
Isha grumbled at me, tired of justifying Jeffery's wrongdoing. However, I care deeply about my husband, and ending our relationship would be a struggle for both of us. I pushed my thoughts aside. I am putting up with Jeffery's anger issues because I love him.
"Thank you for offering to help, Isha. I'll see you around," I said. In contrast to my other neighbors, who couldn't care less about me, Isha was sweet enough to ask how I was doing and then head off to her home, which is directly across the street from mine.
As I walked into my house, I paused because I heard groaning from our bedroom and saw traces of women's clothing and Jeffery in the corridor. The grocery bag slipped from my grasp as I dashed into the bedroom to find Jeffery riding and the woman moaning in pleasure.
I froze, holding back a sob, and when Jeffery noticed me, he stopped f*****g the other woman and stared at me. I sprinted downstairs before he could try to woo me with flattery.
"Our mate cheated on us." My dragon, Hydra, sent forth a disbelieving squeal. I shifted.
I fluttered my wings and flew away from Jeffery as far as possible. As the wind ruffled my dragon skin, I continued to soar. I stopped my ascent and returned to my human form when I reached the mountain's peak. The chilly wind swept over my nude body as I shifted back into human form, and I cried out in anguish and hurt.
Even when Jeffery assaulted and verbally insulted me, I accepted everything since he was my mate and faithful to me. I can do this; I'm sick of putting up with Jeffery.
"I am with you, Alice. I apologize for not agreeing with you sooner. When our mate harmed us, I begged you to put up with it. I am also responsible for your pain," Hydra said quietly. "Reject our mate Alice."
"I'm not sure how to reject Jeffery. You know our old tradition doesn't let us do that..." I spoke glumly.
"Go to Isha secretly. I'll make sure Jeffery's Dragon isn't aware of our presence," Hydra said, hoping to ease my pain with a solution. "Will you be all right, Hydra? Once we break the mating link, your strength will wane, and I may gradually lose you. I'll put up with Jeffery because I can't lose you. I have no family but you."
"No, I can't see you suffering like this. I won't lose my strength in an instant, but gradually, until we can meet our second mate before I pass away. Also, I won't be forced to mate or endure so much anguish to protect myself. Therefore, Alice, please go to Isha," Hydra begged me.
Despite my fear that Jeffrey would find out, I summoned the will to promise to stand up for myself. "No," I thought, "I will not be terrified anymore." I rose from the chilly ground and walked to the hidden, excavated pit where I had stashed my backpack and spare clothes. This spot was my refuge whenever I felt miserable.
After changing clothes and drinking the last of my water, I returned to the city, which took about an hour. I checked if Jeffrey was in the house, but he wasn't there. When Isha saw my tear-stained face and red eyes, she gasped, "Alice."
"I'm sorry for scaring you," I murmured. "May I come in, please?" Isha nodded and led me into her house.
"What happened?" Isha inquired as she handed me a cup of chamomile tea. Her grandmother looked at me with sympathetic eyes, as if she understood my plight. I cried as I told Isha what had happened and why I needed her help.
"First, we need to send an application to King Darcus about what's happening to you," Isha said. "We'll hold a trial to allow both sides to air their grievances and try to find a solution, even if there's no common ground between you and Jeffrey. The Dragon, King Darcus, and Queen Ella Hart will make sure you get out of the mate bond with the help of witches. They can also provide you with monetary support and a new place to start your life."
"I didn't know this was possible," I mumbled.
"Thanks to Queen Ella, mistreated women and men can break out of mate bonds and not suffer because of outdated traditions," Isha said proudly. As Queen Ella Hart's secretary, Isha was familiar with the love story of King Darcus and Queen Ella Hart throughout the Dragon Kingdom.
"Dear child, you have a choice for freedom; don't overthink it. I wish I had the same choice, but I didn't," Isha's grandmother said, reassuringly touching my hand.
"Isha, I want you to compose my appeal; I'll tell you all you need to know," I said. Isha wrote down everything that happened to me on a magical typewriter. I could feel Grandma and Isha's sorrowful eyes looking at me as I recounted how Jeffrey had abused me in ways no one could imagine.
Suddenly, the door slammed open, and we all jumped. My heart raced as I saw Jeffrey staring at me. "You're here, my darling; I've been looking all over the city for you," he said calmly, but I could sense the anger beneath his words.