“My deepest condolences, Luna, the baby didn’t make it.” A silent tear rolled down my face as the pack doctor confirmed my worst fears.
Of course, Drake didn’t bother to wait for me to come around from surgery before he demanded answers from the doctor. My health and wellbeing had long since ceased to be important to him. Now was the time to secure an heir and perform my Luna duties, whatever the cost. This was our third pregnancy, and this time we had made it to the third trimester - the furthest we had ever gone. Werewolves were pregnant for six months in total and I had made it to a week off my due date. Almost six months of being unable to shift, of constant worry and fear. It had been a trying period for us all, but we had made it. Our pup had shown to be a healthy baby on every scan we had been for, and I had finally allowed myself to feel some hope. Everything happened for a reason, and though I would always grieve the babies I had lost; this was meant to be. There was a reason the Gods had permitted this baby to live, against all the odds. I knew that he was destined for great things. The closer my due date crept, the more I allowed myself to fall in love with this miracle I was growing.
The doctors had been amazing, keeping me under constant observation, and a scan the week before my due date had shown the baby was slightly behind on their growth, but nothing to be concerned about.
I had been right to be suspicious at the looks the doctors threw at each other when they thought I couldn’t see. I knew something was wrong and, as I hit twenty-three weeks, my fears were confirmed when my waters broke. Twenty-three weeks and three days, I delivered our baby via C-section. A team of professionals snatched him away, my mate following hot on their heels. They left me on the operating table, still unable to move from the anaesthetic as I heard them frantically trying to save my baby’s life. I barely registered the alarm on the young doctor’s face, I didn’t notice the blood that was pooling around me, leaking onto the floor. I felt nothing. All I could focus on was the shadows in the next room. They seemed so chaotic, so rushed. What were they doing? Why weren’t they remaining calm? This was their job! They had to save my baby; they had to!
The young doctor left in charge of sealing my wound sounded the alarm and before I could register what was happening, they injected me with a general anaesthetic, and I floated away into the darkness.
I had suffered a haemorrhage, so Drake told me. From this moment on, I would be unable to carry my own baby, the only way to save my life had been through a complete hysterectomy. Drake took pleasure in telling me the only reason they saved me was because of the mating bond. As strong as he was, if his wolf lost mine, there was no telling what he would do. At least our wolves had bonded properly, even if Drake and I could no longer stand to be in the same room. He showed me no mercy as he listed all the reasons he would have been happy to let me bleed out on the operating table, but ultimately the pack could not afford to lose their Alpha, their Luna, and the only heir to the pack all in the same day. I asked about my baby in a croaky whisper, my throat dry and hoarse from the breathing tube and dehydration.
Drake gave me a hard look and told me I had failed, that the baby was small and weak, his chances slim. My mate offered no comfort as he laid down all my faults, a huge list of everything I had done wrong in my pregnancy and the damage it had caused. As soon as he finished his shouting he stormed out of the room in search of answers regarding his son.
I flinched as I heard Drake tear apart the consultation room, his roar ripping through the entire hospital floor. Our poor baby had been starved of oxygen throughout the entire birthing process.
The doctor tried calming him down, to remind him I still had frozen eggs. We could try a surrogate; all was not lost. Drake lashed out at the doctor about appearing weak. The shame of having such a let-down of a mate- I was no Luna at all. I sat and listened to the tirade against me, feeling my heart break at all I had lost.
Drake and I had been growing apart for years, coming together only when the time was right to conceive. Sex was no longer the thrill it had once been, my mate no longer worshiping my body. He was cruel and rough with his treatment of me, never taking me in any position that would allow me to kiss him or even look at him. Almost as if he couldn’t stand seeing my face for a moment longer than he needed to. He would be out the door before he had even finished zipping up his trousers. We would put on a united front for the pack, appearing content with each other. No one would ever accuse us of being madly in love, but we were strong together and lead the pack well. Now, though, now it was evident that he was no longer willing to put up the pretence. My inability to provide an heir had killed the last bit of consideration he had for me.
I hardened my heart that day. Never would I sign off for my eggs to be used. Drake didn’t deserve to bring a child into this world only to destroy them as he had destroyed me. With my baby, I would bury the last of my love, leaving nothing left for Drake or anyone else. I would no longer bend over backwards to please him, and Goddess help anything or anyone he cares for or loves in the future, because I would personally make their pitiful lives hell on earth.
“Luna! Please come quick!” A desperate voice came over the mind-link. “The surrogate didn’t make it. You must come and calm down the Alpha - he’s killing everyone in his path!” I laughed gleefully. My prayers had come true. Drake had gone behind my back to impregnate one of his whores with the last of my eggs, and the pregnancy had failed. I wasn’t surprised. Drake may think he has this entire pack eating out of the palm of his hand, but one or two were still loyal to me. All it took was one promise of a night in my company, and the young warrior had been only too happy to tamper with the eggs, rendering them useless. Of course, Drake had killed his whore the minute she failed the pregnancy test. What use was she now?
No doubt it was my face he pictured when he ripped her apart limb for limb, but I was safe from harm. He couldn’t kill me without risking the wrath of my parents and all the pack alliances I had behind me thanks to them, and I was immune to his punishments. I had been whipped, starved, beaten, and burnt, but I felt none of it. I was a cold, emotionless shell of a wolf. Everything we were, and everything we ever could be, was buried alongside our beautiful baby.
So many of my former friends had tried to reach out to me, to offer their condolences, but the minute my back was turned, I knew they were in Drake’s bed, whispering in his ear about all they could offer, things that I would never have. It was as though I was less of a woman, all because I couldn’t provide an heir to the pack I was despising more and more every day.
They were wrong, though. I had my baby. If anyone cared to look for me, that’s where I could be found – with my son. I would sit in his memorial, talking to him, telling him all my secrets. I knew the Moon Goddess would keep his spirit close, she would never abandon me completely, and the thought brought me comfort. So, when everything kicked off with Drake and his whore, that’s exactly where I was, calmly weeding the flowers of my baby’s garden, smiling as I told him the story of what I had done. He would never judge me. He was flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood; we were bonded together. Even though I had never gotten the opportunity to hold him, I could feel his gentle touch on the breeze as we laughed together over yet another of Drake’s failures.
“How I wish you were here,” I whispered, spreading my fingers along the dirt atop his grave. He was so close, just an arm’s reach away, yet so far. I would give anything just to be able to hold him, to see his perfect face.
My ears pricked as a sound floated on the air, a familiar, aching sound that almost brought me to my knees. A baby’s piercing cry. Why was it here? Where was it coming from? My heart raced as I thought the Moon Goddess had returned my boy to me. I began to frantically sniff the ground in search for the scent that was forever ingrained in my memory, thanks to the tiny cloth that had been used to wrap his frail body in.
I hadn’t gone far, maybe fifty meters or so from the memorial garden, when I saw the small bundle, kicking furiously at his blankets, his face scrunched up in absolute anger and misery as he let out another wail. I looked around for his mother but detected no smells, no footprints, no clues. The poor boy was in a pitiful state, covered in bite marks from the ants that still ran up his dirty body. I picked him up, brushing away the creatures and inhaled deeply, immediately smelling the powerful wolf that ran through him. Though they were unconnected as yet, and it should have been impossible to detect before the first shift, the wolf was there, as strong, and equally angry as the babe in my arms.
I ran back to the packhouse, calling for my mate as I lay the baby down on the bed. I had no idea what the plan was. All I knew was that this baby was a sign. There was a reason he had been left so close to my son, as though he was there to help heal the gaping wound that his death had left on my heart. As though he was our last chance.
Yes, even after everything, I was willing to include Drake in this arrangement. I could not leave this pack, not without an entire army chasing me down, and I wasn’t willing to let any harm come to the baby because of me. The Moon Goddess knew what she was doing, and in her I would trust. The baby would bring me and Drake back together, he would have his mate and I would have the vessel to pour all my love into. I hated how my heart jumped at the thought of Drake looking at me with love and affection once more, of his eyes lighting up whenever I entered the room. It was ridiculous, but was it stupid? No! The Moon Goddess wanted this; she knew best.
My mate burst through the door, half shifted, his face contorted in rage. I had almost forgotten that he had been in the middle of smashing up this packhouse.
“You dare to interrupt me? You dare to call my name, demanding I search every room in this packhouse looking for you? Are you out of your fucking mind?!”
“I’m in my rooms, where else would I be? Oh, please, let’s not argue, I have a surprise for you, Drake.” I smiled sweetly, approaching him for the first time since our tragic loss. I placed my palms flat on his chest as I inhaled his familiar scent, and felt the long-forgotten rush of blood around my body.
“Surprise? Have you no shame, woman?! Throwing yourself at me when our last hope has been destroyed? What could I possibly want with you now?” I brushed off his anger with a wave of my hand and indicated the child currently sleeping peacefully in the middle of my bed.
“What the fuck is that?”
“That’s our son,” I replied. Drake scowled, looking at me as though I had lost my mind.
“Ryssa...” he brushed his hand through his hair as he struggled to make sense of what was happening. “We don’t have a son,” he said with surprising patience, his voice gentle as his face softened in pity.
“We do. I found him out by the memorial garden. The poor thing was covered in bite marks and ants. I’ve thought this all through and it’s perfect. Too good an opportunity to pass up! You can tell the pack one of your other whores had a successful pregnancy, and this is the result.” I grinned once more as all the pieces finally came together. I’d be lying if I said that little baby had not stirred feelings I thought were long dead. For the first time in what felt like forever, my heart was open and ready to experience joy. I felt physical pain at the thought they would remove this tiny baby from me - I was loving again.
“What about its mother? She could return. You know she’ll be searching for her baby.”
“She won’t return, she won’t! You should have seen him, Drake. The mother abandoned him! He would have died out there if I hadn’t found him in time. Besides, if she returns, then she will be killed.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Wasn’t it always your intention to kill the surrogate anyway? The baby was to be mine to raise. We had agreed there would be no risk of confusion. Find the mother and see to it she’s taken care of.” I turned away to pick up the baby, offering him to Drake for inspection. “Smell him, my love. Feel his strength. There’s a powerful wolf in there, a true Alpha. Imagine him by your side as your one and only heir. You’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
“If he’s an Alpha, then surely so is his mother --”
“Maybe not! You know yourself how Alphas can be! The mother could be just another wolf he was messing around with, some lowly Omega that he ordered out of the pack when she was pregnant!”
Drake snatched the baby away from me, sniffing his tiny head. His eyes glowed as he registered what I was saying and I pushed forward, clearing any doubts. “Is it not better to have him by your side, rather than one day ruling his own pack that might be your enemy?” My mate pulled me close with his free arm, pushing his face into the crook of my neck. I shivered, feeling the surge of the mating bond. I had won. There was no way Drake could give this baby up, not when it would risk a strong Alpha so close to our own pack. His pride wouldn’t allow it. It was the same pride that was close to bursting at the thought of everyone fawning over his strong Alpha son. I grinned widely as he took a deep breath into my neck, his breathing unsteady, his hands shaking.
“You will need to leave. Come back tonight and in the meantime, I will inform the pack you have gone to collect our son from the surrogate. We’ll introduce you all in the morning, make it official. We’ll tell them we kept it secret out of fear of cursing the pregnancy.”
I clapped my hands together, “fantastic! I’ll begin packing!” I spun on the balls of my feet and happily skipped towards the wardrobe. However, when Drake next spoke, an icy chill shot through my veins as his words registered.
“You will, of course, be escorted by my Beta. For obvious reasons, Ryssa, I can’t risk you being alone with the baby.” He snapped his fingers and his Beta came rushing into the room, inclining his head respectfully towards my mate.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I growled as the Beta seized my arm and tried to drag me from the room. Drake grabbed me by the jaw, his long fingers painfully digging into my skin. I saw the cold, calculating look in his gaze, and knew I had been a fool. Whilst I had been delighting in what I had thought was a loving moment between Drake and I, distracted by him nuzzling into my neck, he had been busy mind-linking with his Beta, ensuring that I was not the one in control.
“You’re unstable, Ryssa. I won’t risk you harming my son. You’re his mother in name only, simply because you’re my mate. However, his upbringing is not your concern. He will be raised under my watchful eye, his punishments and rewards doled out as I see fit. You’ve ruined enough chances for me, I won’t have you destroying this one too by coddling the boy and showering him with affection. He’s to be an Alpha - and a strong one at that.” I screamed as my heart broke once more, begging and pleading with my mate to change his mind, to let me be a part of the baby’s life. “Ryssa, do you seriously expect me to give you any more chances? How many of my sons has your useless body already killed? How many times should I allow you to show how useless you are? Take her out of here, Beta,” he ordered with a wave of his hand, turning his back on me. My wolf howled alongside me as I was ruthlessly dragged away and forgotten about.
The pack easily believed Drake as he told the tale of how his son came to be. He named him Khaos. Born from a desperate need to rescue the Luna from her dark depression, they would fill him with love, and he would shine bright as the future alpha of this pack.
Time flew by as Khaos met all his milestones early - sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, you name it; he hit it way before other children his age. He completed his first shift at nine months, a phenomenon as wolves were not supposed to be present until a child’s first birthday.
It was in these months that Drake got sloppy, no longer feeling the need to hide his affairs or even pretend to have any feeling for me at all. Even my son gazed on me with pity - my maid would tell me I was crazy, that a child that age did not have such depth of feeling. I knew better.
Everyone knew he was advanced for his age, and he showed his scorn and pity for me every time he gazed upon me. Drake had ruined Khaos for me forever.
I didn’t care. It hadn’t taken me long to realise that Khaos was a poor substitute for my own child. Every time he came to me for a hug, such as Mother’s Day or birthdays, when his father had given him permission, I felt nothing but revulsion. I didn’t want this child. I wanted my baby. I remembered the promise I made to myself when my baby died, that I would destroy anyone who Drake made the mistake of caring for. With that in mind, whatever happened to poor Khaos was easily justified to me. He deserved everything he got. He chose Drake over me, and I chose my actual son over him.