I followed her. Of course I followed her.
She ran through the gardens, although I had to admit she was much quicker than I gave her credit for. She tore across the pavement, putting distance between us faster than I would have thought possible.
I couldn’t afford to care about being on school grounds any longer. If I allowed her to keep up this pace, she would lose me within minutes.
I wasted no time, phasing into my wolf under the first tree that was large enough to offer sufficient shelter and chased her down, snapping at the back of her legs as my wolf easily closed the distance between us.
Her scent surrounded me, filling my nostrils, making me dizzy as I ran as close to her as I could get.
She gave a warning growl, but it wasn’t enough to deter us, if anything it was the motivation my wolf needed to push himself that bit harder. Less than a minute later we were upon her, diving onto her back and pinning her underneath us, phasing back into our human skin.
“What the fuck are you playing at, Sophia? I know things have been weird between us recently, but since when have you ever run from me?”
She glared at me, her eyes blazing fire as she spat, “since when have you ever hunted me down in your wolf form?”
“Since you issued a fucking challenge to me, Sophia. Since I found out you are my mate, and within five minutes you were rejecting me!” I shot right back without missing a beat. “What did you think my wolf would do? Roll over and accept the verbal kicking?”
“What did you think I was going to do?” She pushed at my shoulders, rolling me off her as she scrambled to her feet, brushing down her dress. “Did you think I was going to fall at your feet, grateful for the attention the Holy Fuck Lord Eros was paying to me?”
I raised my eyebrow at her, standing naked before her and not bothering to hide any of my nudity. Her hair whipped around her face, the moonlight bouncing off the silky tresses and not for the first time I realised just how beautiful she had grown.
“That’s a bit harsh don’t you think?” I asked, “I’ve slept with girls, sure. I would hardly call myself a “fuck lord”. I’ve given attention to those that gave it to me. I didn’t pursue anyone who wasn’t interested.
Besides, don’t act like you haven’t done the same thing.”
“One thing you should have learned after all the years attending high school is that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear...” a scoff escaped me before I could stop it. “Problem?” She snapped, folding her arms, and tapping her foot at me.
“Sophia, don’t act all holier than thou. I saw you with my own eyes, remember?”
Her cheeks coloured faintly at the reminder, but she flung her head back defiantly, meeting my eyes with a level gaze. “Yeah, Eros. I remember. You couldn’t take your eyes off me, the look of disgust on your face was clear as day.”
“Oh trust me, it wasn’t disgust.” I muttered under my breath before I spoke louder. “Your enjoyment was as clear as day as well. Was that your idea or his? Something to keep your older man interested?” I knew I was being cruel, but her attitude had me on edge. I wasn’t about to stand here and accept every insult she hurled at me without getting a few of my own in.
“Because that’s what all the girls you’ve been with have done?” She laughed a laugh that sounded hollow and fake. “This is pathetic Eros. I rejected you. Learn to live with it because I’m not going to be changing my mind I—”
“You will,” I smirked, interrupting her rant. She looked absolutely livid, I genuinely thought she was going to punch me on the spot.
“Excuse me?” She spluttered, her fists clenched by her sides.
“Change your mind. You’ll do it. Eventually”
“It’ll be a long fucking wait!”
“I’ve got time,” I shrugged. “I’m not going to be put off that easily, Sophia. You’re my mate.”
She walked straight up to me, poking her finger in my chest. “And you’re nothing but a fuck boy. Do I look like I’m interested in becoming a notch on your bedpost? Don’t,” she warned as I opened my mouth. “Don’t you dare try to say I have been doing the same thing. I’m not completely devoid of emotion. You basically make girls sign a contract before they sleep of you!”
“Come on now, you’re acting insane.”
“Am I? What are the warnings you give?” She began to count on her fingers, “no feelings, no emotions, don’t grow attached, no relationship, no drama, no long-term thing, need I go on, Eros? I warned you not to believe everything you heard. That guy you saw me with? I was with him for nearly a year. Not that you have any right to question me but make of that what you will. The guy before him? Seven months. The guy before him? I didn’t sleep with him. So don’t tell me I’m the same, not that I am ashamed of anything I have done, and I won’t let you make me feel that way either.”
“Look, let me explain...”
“Explain?! Explain what? How you’ve taken the virginity of ninety percent of our class? Or how you replaced your last girlfriend within hours? Sorry, not girlfriend, you don’t do titles like that do you? So how on earth are you going to manage a lifelong mate?”
I folded my arms over my chest once more. “I would never make you feel guilty or ashamed of your past - like you said there’s nothing wrong with having a healthy sex life so why are you trying to make me feel like shit? I’ve not lied to anyone, nor have I hurt anyone. I never pretended to be able to give anything more than I was able to. Have I ever lied to you? No, same as I have never lied to any other girl. So what makes you think I’m lying to you now when I say I’m not only ready for you as my mate, but I also want you as my mate. Only you.”
“Easy for you to say when there’s probably no one left for you to shack up with. I’ll tell you what, Eros. I’ll mate with you when we’ve even the scales a little bit, how’s that sound? What number are you on now, thirty? Forty? I’ll see you in a couple of years.” She spun around on her feet in an attempt to get away from me.
My wolf growled, immediately shooting the surface, and pushed me forward. I grabbed hold of her shoulders and twisted her back around, my canines elongating in anger. “You will do no such thing,” I roared, my temper finally getting the better of me. “You’re my mate. I don’t know how to get that into your thick skull but you best start coming to terms with it. I will not accept you sleeping with anyone else but me.”
She looked me up and down, a sneer on her face. “You may have inherited your dad’s nasty temper and evil glare, but you don’t scare me. I said no, and I meant it.”
“That’s not what your body is telling me,” I laughed, looking down at her nipples that were poking through her dress.
She didn’t react, seemingly unfazed. “That’s my body. Look at you, Eros. I’m not blind. I can see from a million miles away that you are extremely attractive. Look at your parents, for fuck’s sake. You won the genetic lottery. My body can appreciate that just as much as my mind can. What my body can’t do, however, is determine who’s a no-good fuck boy and who isn’t. My mind is really good at that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date planned for tonight.”
“I’m warning you, Sophia, if I catch you with anyone else, I will kill them.”
“Oh really? Got much experience in that have you? Oh, I know what you’re going to say – your dad has trained you to be the best of the best. You can snap trees in half with just a punch of your almighty fists, yadda, yadda, yadda. I know all about it, Eros. You are the next “big bad.” The Alpha that will have everyone trembling. But training isn’t experience, is it? Considering all the free time you have lately, I doubt much has changed. You’re not your father, Eros. You’re not a killer. You can stand there making threats until you’re blue in the face but they’re falling on deaf ears. I’ll fuck who I want, when I want, and how I want. End of conversation.”
My wolf growled, the sound echoing in the open air. “Stop being so dramatic,” she hissed. “You’re not the first wolf to get rejected, you’ll get over it. Go speak to your dad, he knows all about choice mating, doesn’t he?”
This time I let her go, my anger so intense that I feared if she stayed, I would do something unforgivable - not that I would ever lay a hand on her to hurt her, of course. My mother would have my balls pinned to the wall if I even considered it. But my wolf was screaming at me to take her here and now and show her exactly what we were capable of. Taking a woman by force was not something my human side relished in, but it did call to the nature of my wolf. We were sometimes led by their animalistic nature, and I was lucky that I had a parent who showed me how to fight against this, rather than lesser Alphas who would have rejoiced in my embracing it.
I’m not going to lie; my ego was slightly wounded at her instant rejection. Yes, I had a reputation and yes, I enjoyed every benefit that came from that. No other girl had ever rejected me before and it stung that the one person who was fated to be by my side, as my partner and my equal for the rest of our lives, was so repulsed that she had turned me down on the spot.
Looking past my ego, I was also hurt at the fact that this could have easily been avoided. If only I had the confidence I now feel when dealing with women, I never would have had anyone but her.
It was her fifteenth birthday and, once again, I had come so close to kissing her then, of letting her know just how much I was attracted to, but something had held me back. She hadn’t had a party, yet again, as her mother was still living her hermit life and basically refusing to allow Sophia to have any friends. We were sharing my party. My mother had agreed to delay my own celebration so that Sophia could join in. She had spared no expense, removing all the previous decorations, and added Sophia’s name to all the new ones. The only reason Jasmine had accepted this was because she knew who my parents were and exactly what they were capable of. My dad had his own reputation, but my mother was equally scary in my eyes. I had seen her reduce grown men to tears. My dad had once joked that he was the brawns, she was the brains – exactly like her mother. My mother had just winked at him and reminded him about the dangers of crossing a calculating woman. He had leaned over the table towards her and whispered against her lips that he knew exactly how to punish her and keep her in line.
Their relationship made me cringe sometimes, but I knew deep down that they were my inspiration. I aspired to have a mating just like those two. Even after all these years, they were obsessed with each other.
The party with Sophia had been a huge success, and afterwards, we had met up at our secret spot on the forest, exchanging the gifts we had made for each other. We had laughed as we had both given each other bracelets. The one she gave me had been the Yin and Yang symbol. As she had attached this to my wrist, she had explained the hidden meaning behind it. In Ancient Chinese philosophy, they believed that yin and yang was a concept of dualism. They described how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complimentary to each other. Interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may actually give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
I had watched in fascination as she held my wrist, attaching the bracelet with delicate hand movements. My skin had been on fire under her touch, and all I had wanted to do was wrap by hand around hers and link our fingers together. But her words had me thinking. I had been so obsessed with the fact that Sophia had this huge secret that she was hiding from me that I hadn’t acted on my feelings. I wanted her to trust me wholeheartedly and until that day happened, I was going to hold back, waiting for her to come to me first.
Except that hadn’t happened. She didn’t confide in me. Even after her little speech, she couldn’t find it in herself to trust me. Instead, she had pulled away from me, deliberately putting more than physical distance between us.
She had every right to accuse me of fucking every girl in sight. It was true. It had been easy, and I had allowed myself to get carried away with it. I won’t apologise for it; it was exactly what I wanted to do at that moment. But I do regret the extent to which I took it.
I sighed heavily and turned back around in the direction of my shredded clothes. I had heard the tragic tale of my parents love story many times over the years, and if they could make it through everything that was thrown at them, we could make it through this.
Was it worth it though?
The Moon Goddess wasn’t always right with her pairings - just look at my dad’s parents, both sets of them. They were matches that should never have happened, and yet the Moon Goddess saw fit to place them together for life.
Ignoring the whining of my wolf, I made a promise to myself. I wouldn’t chase after Sophia. She can make the first move and come to me. My pride was hurt, and I knew it was ridiculous, but that stubborn streak that I had inherited was rearing its ugly head and wouldn’t allow me to show more interest than her.
I had done that so much over the years. My ego had taken enough of a battering. The ball was in Sophia’s court now.
Maybe the Moon Goddess should think about the ages she mates people together. I recognised how immature I was being and how pathetic I sounded, and it made me wonder how many eighteen-year-olds were really ready for this.
As soon as I knew I was out of Eros’ sight I broke out into a run, heading straight for my home. I both loved and hated him at the same time.
For years I wanted him, had been dying for him to give me any sort of sign that he was as interested in me as I was in him, but it never happened. Once or twice I had felt a connection between us, almost feeling a spark that joined our hearts together. But he never acted on it. He almost looked frozen, like a deer in headlights, and so I had always pulled away out of fear of embarrassing myself. He never gave me any sign that he wanted to be anything more than friends and I refused to be a part of his life now just because of a stupid so-called fated pairing.
I fell to my knees the minute I was on my own home territory again, my breath coming in frantic sobs as I replayed our conversation in my head. What a stupid, pathetic pair we had been, each trying to be the one that hurt the other the most. I always did that. I always let my temper get the better of me and push people away. Old habits die hard, and my mother had instilled this one in me from the moment of my birth.
That was the primary reason I slept with those men. I just wanted to live my life and feel something for once. I wanted to have excitement and fun, to have someone falling at my feet and worshipping me, just for a few moments. I wanted the attention, the affection. I wanted to see someone’s eyes light up when they saw me. It didn’t matter that they were only happy to see me because they knew they were going to have sex. They were still happy to see me. They wanted to spend their free time with me.
My mother smothered me with her fear and would happily keep me locked away for the rest of my life if she had her own way. She said it was for my own protection, but that’s not how I wanted to live. She lived her life on maybes and what ifs. That was no way to live. It was half a life, never truly experiencing the pleasures and joy that like can bring if you just allow yourself to embrace it. The way I saw it, if I was going to die at the hands of a psycho Alpha, I wanted to remember that I enjoyed the brief time I had on this earth. If it were true and your life really did flash before your eyes the moment you died, I wanted mine to be full of rich memories, ones that would warm me in my final seconds. I didn’t want to regret a thing.
That was another reason why I couldn’t really allow Eros and I to be anything more than we were now - I had to keep reminding myself why I had pushed him away in the first place.
After I had heard about what happened to Uncle Owen, the only thing I could think of was what if that were Eros? What if my selfishness had caused him to die that way, at the hands of someone who wanted to use his body as nothing more than an experiment in his sick vision?
I wasn’t stupid. My parents needed to remember that there wasn’t just a wolf residing in me. My senses were beyond anything that they experienced and that included my hearing. I heard them when they thought they were being discreet, talking about how Alpha Jeremy had been performing operations on whatever poor shifter he got his hands on and was building his own army of freaks.
I couldn’t do that to Eros. I couldn’t do it to Violet and Khaos. Or Antheia. The thought of anything happening to that little girl made me sick to my stomach. I loved her like my own sister. I would do anything to keep that family safe, and if that meant that I was miserable for the rest of my life, so be it.
I picked myself up of the ground and strengthened my resolve. I was doing this for the right reasons, and I wouldn’t back down now. Eros would get over this. Who knows, if Alpha Jeremy ever did get his hands on me, maybe the Moon Goddess would see fit to give Eros another mate and he would forget all about me. I doubted that though. I had escaped Jeremy all these years, I saw no reason to believe that he would find me now. Especially considering we would be out of here within the day.
No, more than likely, Eros would take a choice mate. He was the next Alpha, after all. He had to provide a strong Luna, who would provide him with an heir and a spare. He would mate with her, raise his family with her, and I would be nothing other than a distant memory. An anecdote to laugh about as he whispered about his past to his mate. That’s if he remembered me at all.
Not many people did.
I never made an impact on anyone’s life for them to remember me for long. I had learnt that the hard way. It still hurt to remember the friends I left behind after we had moved homes once again.
There would be tears on my last day. They would blow up my phone with hundreds of messages saying how much they were going to miss me. For the next week, I would get dozens of phone calls a day. They would send me pictures of them all, making me feel as though I was still involved. After a week, the phone calls would slowly dwindle down to nothing. I would get a rushed message, full of abbreviations. They couldn’t even find the time to write a full message to me.
They were always busy. Their life went on. Without me.
It was just the way my life was destined to be.