“I don’t understand you,” Evan said as he entered the room to bring Lorelai her evening meal. “It’s like you’ve completely given up on life.”
Lorelai considered his words. She hadn’t given up exactly. Her options were just limited.
Since she arrived at the castle three days ago, she hadn’t spoken a word to anyone. Evan had carried her to her room, and she had been here since then. He’d tried to draw into some conversation, he’d been kind where other wolves would have been angry and he’d been incredibly patient with her.
Her wolf begged every day for her to give in. To accept her destiny and welcome Evan into her life. She ignored that request and plotted her escape.
“I don’t know what else you want from me, Lorelai. I thought you’d be happy.” Evan placed her meal on a table, sighing as he picked up the untouched plate from lunch. “You’re with your mate. Do you know how lucky we are?”
“I don’t feel lucky,” Lorelai said. Evan turned to face her, his eyes wide with surprise.
“She speaks!” She could see the hopefulness in his eyes. He thought this was progress.
He was wrong.
“Why would I be happy?” She asked. “I don’t want to be with you and you are not my mate.”
Her wolf whined at the pain that flashed across his face. Lorelai shifted uncomfortably and tried to force the feeling to the back of her mind. He’d kidnapped her! Her friend died because of him! He did not deserve her sympathy.
“You are my mate,” Evan said, clearing his throat. “Whether you want it to be true, it’s what Fate has decided for us.”
“My mate is Liam,” she said, spitting her words at him. Anger prickled at her skin at his mocking laughter.
“No. He’s not.”
“Well, he’s the mate I’ve chosen,” she replied, folding her arms over her chest.
“It doesn’t work that way, Lorelai, and you know it.” He sighed and took a seat on the opposite side of the room to her, giving her space. “Look, I’m not a tyrant-.”
Lorelai barked out a laugh, interrupting whatever he was going to say. He looked over at her, his gaze free of confrontation. He must have expected her to take issue with his words.
“Says the man who kidnapped me and got my friend killed,” she said, daring him to disagree.
“What happened with your friend will haunt me for a long time, Lorelai. Believe it or not, it’s true.” He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “Look, I didn’t expect this when I came to find you. My scouts told me about your former Alpha and your relationship with him, but I didn’t think you would be so unwilling.”
“You didn’t think it was odd I hid my scent?” She asked.
“No,” he said without hesitation. “There are a million reasons for a wolf to hide their scent and never in my wildest dreams did I think you would hide from me.”
There was a pain in his eyes that Lorelai refused to acknowledge.
This wasn’t what she was expecting from her mate. She’d seen it so many times in her life. A male wolf catches wind of his mate nearby and loses all sense of reason. Women, some of them her friends, had fallen foul of angry mates that forced them into submission.
And yet, Evan sat across from her with an open expression and a pleasant tone. This was not the same man, or wolf, who had torn her from her home.
Another one of his tricks, no doubt.
He probably wanted her to let her guard down, let herself believe she was safe so he could pounce.
But then. Would such a wolf protect her from one of his own, as Evan had done?
“Will you just get on with it already?” She asked, sighing.
“Get on with what?” His brow furrowed in confusion, his head cocked to one side. If he was putting on an act, he was doing a fine job of it. Lorelai could almost believe he didn’t know what she was talking about.
“Whatever it is you Alpha’s do. Pin me down. Force us to mate.”
Evan looked horrified as soon as the words came out of her mouth and she instantly regretted them. Damn him! And damn the ancient goddess who paired them. Just being near him was enough to strengthen the mate bond between them, and every reaction to her venomous words just caused herself pain as she looked upon his face.
“Lorelai. You have the wrong idea.” He spoke slowly. Carefully. Like he was choosing every word with purpose, making sure she understood his sincerity. “I don’t want to force you into anything.”
“And yet you keep me prisoner,” she said, interrupting him once more. “I haven’t left this room since I arrived.”
“By choice, Lorelai! By choice. I have never locked the door behind me. You are free to leave as and when you please.”
She thought back over the past few days and felt her cheeks flame. It was true. She had never heard the click of the lock and had never tried the door, figuring it was pointless. How stupid of her.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
“Yeah. Well, I bet there will be people all over the place to stop me from leaving.”
For the first time, Evan looked away from her, rubbing the back of his neck. She knew she had him. She could leave the room and what? Followed by a pack of wolves ready to bring her right back. She was a prisoner, despite his protests.
“We have sentries all over the castle,” Evan said, meeting her gaze once more. “This has nothing to do with you. It is basic security. But, it would be a lie if I said they wouldn’t be keeping a particular eye on you.”
“Then I am a prisoner.”
“No!” He growled his words, and it was the first time Lorelai had seen his irritation flare. “You do not know what I did for you on that field, do you?”
Lorelai scoffed. He’d done nothing to warrant any positive feelings towards him. Bethany was dead, Rachel was without her love and her pack lost their Luna. Liam was alone. They had maimed Brooke, who could also have died for all Lorelai knew.
All he’d done was destroy them.
“I can see what you’re thinking, Lorelai. I can see the hatred in your eyes.”
“Because you killed my friend.”
“No, I didn’t. Austin killed your friend,” he said, standing and pacing the room. “He directly disobeyed my command, by the way.” He scoffed and turned on her with venom in his eyes. “I told my men and women they were not to attack. I told them no one was to be hurt. Let’s not forget, Lorelai, you started the violence. You attacked first.
“Tell me you wouldn’t have defended yourself if a pack of wolves came towards you intending to kill you. Your pack attacked, my pack defended.” His breathing came heavier, his nostrils flaring. “And when one of my own, a man I grew up with, a friend, killed your packmate against my orders, I didn’t hesitate. I was going to kill him myself, but I thought your pack deserved their revenge and left Austin with them. Whatever they did to him, however he died, it was on their terms.”
Lorelai shrank back against the wall with the weight of his words. She couldn’t argue or defend herself. It was her that lead the attack and although her pack encouraged her; it was her order they followed.
“My friend is also dead, Lorelai. And I have his furious mate wanting blood. So yes, there’s fucking sentries out there looking out for you. But it is for your fucking safety. Despite your opinion of me as some brute who rapes and murders without regard, you are my mate and it is my job to protect you. So hate me all you want, Lorelai, but you know nothing!”
Without another word, Evan left the room, slamming the door behind him. From outside the room, Lorelai heard the smash of crockery. She could picture what happened. In temper, Evan had thrown her lunch plate against the wall and if she left the room, she would no doubt see her meal scattered on the floor.
Was she wrong about all of this?
Evan had kidnapped her. That was unarguable.
But the rest?
She never thought about it from his point of view, never gave one-second thought to the wolf he called Austin.
It must be difficult to know your mate is happy with another. She wasn’t sure she would be as gracious if the shoe was on the other foot. She imagined a life without Liam, a life where she grew up like any other wolf in a desperate search for their mate.
If she found Evan with another woman, would she not do everything in her power to bring them together?
Could she hate him for something as natural as breathing?
Did it even matter anymore?
With a sigh, she turned to the plate, and her stomach growled in hunger. Pulling it towards her, she ate her first meal in days. There was no point in starving herself. If she was going to get back to Liam, she needed all her strength.
It was time to make a plan.