I spent a long time waiting for Eros to return from his run, listening to his growls of frustration and anger as he destroyed the forest behind the pack lands.
I understood exactly how he was feeling and the heartache he was experiencing. I had been in his position, thinking that I would never get my mate back, that my entire life was crumbling underneath me and there was no way for me to keep my grip on it when everyone around me seemed so determined to destroy my happiness.
I knew I had messed up this year. I had no right to treat Violet the way that I had done, and I definitely had no right to tell my son who he could and couldn’t be mated to. Where would I be now if Violet had listened to her parents and stayed away from me? I had taken what should have been a happy occasion for Eros and turned it into a nightmare for him through nothing but my own fear.
I wanted Eros to be mated to the woman he loved, to keep him out of the darkness that ran through his blood thanks to me. I hadn’t even taken into consideration that he may be mated to a different species - it was such an exceedingly rare circumstance that it hadn’t even factored as a possibility. Violet was absolutely right, I had no right to judge and form an opinion when she had fought the very devil himself to keep her different mate.
I wasn’t the same man Violet had met, deep down I knew that. I had grown so much thanks to her. She was my ultimate salvation, my light in the darkness and I needed her like I needed the very air to breathe.
Yet I felt everything slipping from my grasp. Eros was grown. He would make his own amazing Alpha one day and no longer needed his old dad to guide him through life. It all felt unfair, especially considering I had lost a huge chunk of my time with him. Time that I would never get back.
I had fought so long and so hard to have my family and in just a couple of blinks, they were both independent, living their own lives and making plans away from us, away from me.
Was it normal for parents to feel this way? No one had ever been bothered when I disappeared, and Violet didn’t exactly have normal parents that I could discuss this with.
So what did I do? I pushed Violet away, too scared to deal with my own emotions and not knowing how to process what was happening inside my own mind. I came down too hard on Eros, my own pride and stubborn streak preventing me from doing the right thing, to be the bigger man and apologise, since it was me that was in the wrong. Life had never been that way for me, though. Displays of emotion had gotten me hurt so often that it was hard to break that habit.
It was easy with Violet. She had never judged me, never believed what she had heard about me. She opened her heart to me and I gave mine in return. I was happy to whisper words of love and adoration when it was just the two of us but I still struggled to display this with the rest of the world. Look where this had got me with Jasmine.
I wanted to fix her problems, without even knowing what they were. Instead of listening and understanding her fears, I came storming in like the Alpha I had always been trained to be and demanded she came back to live under my protection and never accepting that there may have been another way to help her. I had pushed her away without even meaning to, and in trying to protect my son I had done the exact same thing.
Be the hero, Khaos. Show no emotion, no weakness. That was so heavily branded on my mind all the time that when Eros left, all I could do was lash out as a way of coping, which wasn’t helpful to anyone, especially my mate who was dealing with a profound loss of her firstborn.
Violet had been hurting for the entire year. Many nights I lay awake, feeling her wolf whimpering over the bond, wanting her pup back by her side where she knew he was safe. I had wanted to hold her, but I could feel the bitterness surrounding her. I knew I had disappointed her, and no amount of “I’m sorry” would change this. I had said that so many times during our relationship that it was sounding hollow to my own ears.
Before Eros had returned, Violet and I spent a long time together, reconnecting and washing away the resentment that had been building. We had always had an open and honest relationship. There was no need for me to feel like I needed to hide anything from her.
She assured me that this was the end of a wonderful chapter and the beginning of one that would be even better. This was our time to become grandparents, to see our children become parents and lead their children through the examples that we had set for them - she made me promise not to withdraw from the family any longer. Now was not the time to back away. The children would still need us.
We had both agreed it was time for another family circle when Eros came home. I may not like everything that was said, but it was time that the family got to say their piece and let me know where I had disappointed them and I would spend the rest of my life making this up to them. To show them that I was not that guy, I was better than that. I would prove everyone wrong.
Then Jeremy had come, and in mere moments he had shattered my family forever. Violet was recovering from surgery, Sophia had lost the baby, the baby that would have been special beyond belief. Eros was out in the forest hurting more than I had ever wanted him to hurt and worst of all, Antheia, my beautiful, amazing baby girl was Goddess knows where.
I could feel my wolf roaring. He wanted out; he wanted her back. I finally understood more than ever what Violet had been through during Eros’ absence.
I had missed him, of course I had, but I had also been angry and disappointed at him leaving behind his pack and his responsibilities, even if I knew those feelings were wrong now it was still how I felt at the time.
Now I got it. I could feel the anger coursing through my veins, turning my blood to molten lava as I planned each and every way I would destroy that man.
So here I was, sat on the steps of the packhouse, waiting for Eros to emerge from the forest so we could go and retrieve his sister. As well as Sophia.
I knew she was gone. I had known the moment she had left the pack grounds. After the events of tonight, I had ordered that each and every member of the patrol crew were to take up position and protect the pack. Until we knew the danger had passed, we would triple the amount of defence we had. The time would come when I would investigate what had gone so wrong that we had been attacked in such a way, but for now, it was time to bunk down and ensure no one else suffered and no other members of the pack were lost.
I rested my elbows on my knees and stared at the ground as I contemplated all my mistakes when I heard Eros emerge from the forest.
His eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot, his nose red and his cheeks still displaying the telltale signs of tears having been shed.
I did what I should have done months ago. I simply stood up and held my arms open. Gone was the strong Alpha who needed to fix everything, gone was the man who ruled with an iron fist. My son needed me and now was the time to be the parent I knew that I was and just hold him.
He ran into my arms as though he was a child again, wrapping his arms around my shoulders and cried into my neck. I hugged him fiercely, my own eyes tearing at the raw emotion he was displaying. I said nothing. No words were needed. He had to have this time to get this out of his system. He deserved his moment of profound grief.
He didn’t need me to remind him that we had to take action. He knew what was expected of him but he was just a boy, barely 19. I would give him his moment.
I patted his back as he cried and the moment I felt the tears begin to subside I pulled away slightly, only to rest my forehead against his as I grabbed the back of his head to keep him from pulling away from me further as he tried to withdraw, ashamed of the raw emotion he had just displayed
“You listen to me,” I told him sternly, “there is no shame in crying and there’s nothing wrong with what you’re feeling. What happened to you tonight? I know grown men that have ruled for decades that would be broken by that, but you’re here, ready to fight for your family - that includes your mate. You let it out and never let anyone tell you its wrong.”
He nodded, relief flooding his eyes. “She’s gone, dad. I felt it. He’s mated to her.”
“What did you feel? Did you feel the severing of your bond?”
“Well… no, but—”
“But nothing. All is not lost, son. We still have time.”
“Every minute that passes is too long. Goddess only knows what he’s doing to her. I’ve felt him dad, I can feel everything—”
I pulled him into another hug, kissing his cheek. “All the more reason to kill the bastard. Go on, say goodbye to your mother, tell her you love her and you’ll be seeing her soon. We’ll find that motherfucker and we’ll bring our girls back home. What do you say?”
Eros nodded his approval and went to take a step back to the house. He didn’t get more than a step when we both felt the agonising shattering of our heart as we lost a pack member.
“Say goodbye to your mother, Eros. Hurry.”