A.n.- Hi everyone, so sorry it took so long to update, but I figured I would since I probably won't update till finals are over. This is a longer type chapter, and there's a lot that happens. I start to introduce some of the OC's here. There are a lot of them, I will go into more depth of those characters as the story progresses. Other than that, I hope you enjoy it.

Suggested listening music: So Close by Jon mclaughlin

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my OCs.

"Chloe won't you come up here and give us a couple words," The announcer encouraged her. She took a couple steps toward s the microphone; it almost scared her how everyone was waiting on pins and needles to hear what she has to say.

"Hello everyone," her voice waivered with greeting them simply because she was still so much in shock, but she didn't want them to know that. "Thank you so much for coming here, and I have no doubt in my mind that Hector and, and Mr. Petrov will do the best they can to win." She couldn't bear to look at Alek's face after she used his last name. "I'm –I'm sorry." She ran off stage to the back. The announcer merely chuckled.

"It's nice to see the Uniter nervous, right folks? At least she doesn't have the pressure of the games on her." He joked. Alek's body tensed, he was going to go after her, but before he could leave, the announcer guided him out to the microphone.

"So Alek tell us about yourself."

"I was born in Ukraine, but I was raised in England till around age 9 then when stuff happened with my family, I moved in with my Aunt Val, and stayed with her and Jasmine till now."

"And what do you think your chances are of winning are against the odds?"

"I think that I have a fair shot of winning, because I have something that most of the other competitors do not," he paused making everyone hang on for what the secret was. "Motive."

"And what is motivating you Alek?"

"If I revealed that where would my edge be?" Alek joked while the audience laughed along.

"And what made you want to join the competition?"

"I've known Chloe a long time, even before we knew she was Mai. When we found out she was Mai, it was a shock, but nothing compared to finding out she was the Uniter. She's more than just that though, she's my friend."

"Now Alek, is she really just a friend? We recovered some of transcripts from the council where you pleaded your case to be here, and I can say I was moved. Are you trying to tell me nothing has happened between the two of you?"

"There might have been something there once, but I was stupid and didn't act upon it in time. By the time I had acted on those feelings, she loved someone else." He received some awww's from the audience which made him cringe.

"Well best of luck to you Mr. Petrov." The announcer stuck out his hand and Alek shook it. But the moment his hand was free he snuck off the stage to try and find Chloe.

Alek was almost ready to give up, he looked everywhere for the blonde Mai. He let out a sigh before he was very rapidly forced against a nearby wall and looking into the eyes of the Mai he was seeking. Her claws lined his throat.

"Give me one good reason I shouldn't claw your face for that little stunt." He knew it was safe to assume that she heard his interview.

"What stunt?" He decided playing dumb was the best option here.

"Your interview! You made me look heartless!"

"There were worse things that I could have said." He pushed her arm out of the way.

"Like what?" Her eyes scanned his ever searching ones.

"How the other love interest was a human would send scandal through the Mai community." Chloe brought her eyes away from his form.

"I could have told the truth about my feelings." His voice just lingered there. Chloe didn't like where this was going, it was uncharted territory. Their foreheads touch their breath intermingled causing both their heart rates to speed up.

"What are your feelings?"

"I think you know exactly what they are." Before any more words could be said, a guard interrupted.

"Um, Ms. King, it's against the rules for you to be secluded with one of the contestants, seeing that it might lead to favoritism and all." Chloe backed away.

"I understand." Even as the guard was escorting her away, they never broke eye contact till her took her through another door. He sighed. He had tried so hard to not let any of his feelings and emotions come out. It would have been thought unprofessional and messy as far as protection goes. He had received this talk from Jasmine many times since she became the pride leader. How his actions were taken in and reflected the pride as a whole. It was doing what was right for the pride, sacrificing his feelings. So he tried to block his feelings without succeeding of course. His body leaned against a nearby wall trying to take in everything that happened. He needed to win this competition, and for once he was glad that if they didn't win they didn't live because he couldn't bear the thought of life with Chloe in somebody else's arms.

Chloe almost didn't recognize herself with the image staring back at her. Her hair was in a fancy up-do which consisted of half up and down with twists and golden curls sprawled over her shoulder. Her dress was consisting of a purple color with multiple straps that went around her neck and her shoulders and one in between. They told her the color choice was because she was as close to royalty as it got, besides Basset of course.

"You look beautiful," A voice interrupted the silence. Chloe merely ignored the initial comment and continued to play with her hair.

"I don't really want to talk to you Jasmine." The bitterness was evident in her voice.

"Look Chloe,"-

"I don't want an excuse on why you lied to me." She finally turned to face Jasmine and she saw the pain in her eyes.

"It was too late by the time you called. Alek had already pleaded his case, and it was set in stone, so how would your knowledge stop anything?"

"I don't know it just would." Chloe tried her hardest not to break down, but her knees gave way and let her support come from something a little sturdier. Jasmine came and wrapped Chloe in a hug simply because she needed it.

"I don't want to see him die Jas." The tears now free flowing. "Why did he enter?"

"He figured this way he would at least get a shot to be with you. Besides Chloe, Alek is strong; I think you're underestimating his ability."


"But what Chloe?"

"I don't think that I can live life without him." It sounded even more pathetic coming out of her mouth.

"You really think he would stick around that much once you're married?" Chloe shook her head.

"Now we need to get you ready for the ball." She said in hopes of distracting her.

"I don't want to go Jas." She didn't want anyone to see her in this state.

"You have to Chloe, you get to meet all the competitors and it's the last time you get to interact with them before the arena. Maybe even talk to a certain Mai, and tell him how you feel."

"Do you really think that will help?"

"Trust me, if he knew your feelings, and that you liked him and you are not just a prize to be won, he will give it his all.

"I hope you're right." Chloe muttered as she watched Jasmine fix her hair and makeup.

It was a new experience when they called her name at the top of the staircase. Every eye was on her which made a little color spread itself on her cheeks. She watched her steps as she descended down the staircase not wanting to fall. The first thing that she noticed was there was there was a line of particularly attractive gentlemen lined at the bottom waiting to greet her. Her escort guided to the first male, who bowed and kissed her hand.

"Greetings Uniter, my name is Caleb descendent of Ra, and I'm honored to meet you. " His lips were warm to the touch, as she was sure it had something to do with his powers that he possesses. She was guided to the next boy.

"Greetings Uniter, my name is Brock, also a descendent of Ra, and I'm honored to meet you." She was once again met with a kiss on her hand. Someone out of the corner of her eye caught her attention, so much that she completely zoned out during the next introduction. She wasn't even sure she caught her breath when she came face to face with Kai. He offered her a smile, as he leaned down and brought her hand up to his lips and then proudly announced.

"Greetings Uniter, my name is Kai, a descendent of Jackal, and I'm honored to meet you." She was so focused on Kai that she wasn't snapped back to reality until two introductions later. Chloe's first impression of this person was his wicked smile, and not in the good way. He bowed and kissed her hands like all the rest.

"Greetings Uniter, my name is Demetrie, a descendent of Set, and I'm honored to meet you." Just the way that he looked at her brought a shiver up her spine and she couldn't throw off the mentality of his creepy smile.

The next person that was brought into her vision was a boy named Gale who was a descendent of Shu. Chloe noticed that he looked like he could be light on his feet, and she had a feeling that he would go far in the games. She glanced to the side and saw that she was almost done, but she felt her stomach tighten when she saw the Mai were next in line. Hector came forward first.

"Greetings Uniter, my name is Hector, a descendent of Basset, and I'm honored to meet you." He stepped back and it was Alek's turn. She never broke eye contact as she saw relative pain in his eyes. His kiss on her hand was different. It was slow, loving, and gentle. And in an instant it was over, he had moved back into the line, and she was forced to move on to the next one. Her eyes kept returning to him, so much in fact that she didn't really pay attention to many of the other introductions, the names she caught were Leo descendent of Tefnut, Greg descendent of Geb, and Jessie descendent of Ptah.

It wasn't near till near the end of the night where Chloe was finally alone enough to dance because of obligations such as meeting the pride leaders. Her eyes searched for a certain Mai and she was afraid that he was still upset from their previous conversation. But her heart jumped when he made his way through the sea of people. He held out his hand and she nodded before taking his hand in hers as he swept her to the dance floor. The song So Close came on as Alek slide his arm around the small of her back and began to lead.

"Hey," a smile found a way to his lips.

"Hey." She replied shyly.

"Alek"- Chloe began, but Alek cut her off.

"Chloe, just take in the moment," he instructed. She looked him straight in the eyes, and before she could help it, she blurted out,

"Take care of Kai."


"Please?" Her eyes searched his even when he spun her out.

"Alright." He whispered.

"You promise?"

"Yes, but may I ask why?" He questioned ever so slightly in a gentle tone.

"Because if you don't win, my next choice would be him." Alek cracked a smile.

"I'm your first choice?" Their pace slowed.

"Alek I"-

"May I cut in?" The two looked up to see Caleb hold out his hand. Alek nodded and stepped back releasing Chloe. Her eyes never left him and it hurt her to see him just give her up like that. Caleb started the dance, and Chloe took the time to take in some of his features, he had hazel eyes with a lighter blonde hair. He moved very elegantly on the dance floor, but even still, she would prefer to keep dancing with Alek. She caught sight of him every now and then while she was dancing. The song ended and the announcer got up on stage.

"Will all the contenders please report to the loading dock." Chloe's heart almost stopped, they were leaving. Her eyes scanned the crowd trying to find Alek, because she had to tell him how she felt before he left. Soon she didn't recognize any of the men that she had met earlier. Her Mai hearing picked up that all the men were in the loading dock on the plane. She ran off to a secluded area and felt her chest give way and tears streamed down her face. She wouldn't see them till in the arena. She was so close, and yet so far.