“I’m fucking pissed!” Theodore seethed, pacing the living room with quick hurried steps. I sat on the couch, unfazed, and watched anger rolling off his large frame, his glare blazing. “Are you forgetting that there are hunters lurking around? What if something happened to you?”
I wasn’t sorry. People like Albert were one of the reasons why I left. I was beginning to think it was a mistake to come back, not like I could leave since Basil wouldn’t allow it. He’d probably lock me away if I ever had those thoughts around him.
“Don’t go off without consulting Basil,”
“I didn’t run off,” I said in a steady tone, trying to control my anger. “I needed a timeout, to be away from all this. FYI, I can take care of myself!”
“He’s your mate and he is responsible for your safety-”
“So all the training classes, waking up at 5 AM and sparring with other wolves was all for nothing?” I asked sardonically, my rage spewing in all directions, it was near impossible to contain. Theodore’s chest expanded, growling in warning but I didn’t care. This was ridiculous! A fucking contradiction stamped right across my uncle’s forehead – and many other Alpha males – when it came to my safety. I knew how to defend myself; I’d done it plenty of times when I was away from The Midnight Moon and I’d managed to make it back in one peace. I wasn’t that naïve but because they’d been looming over my shoulder ever since I could remember, they assumed I was.
“That’s not the point, Izabella, you are very important to your pack and to The Nobles,”
“So is Tristan! He’s soon to take your place as Alpha so why don’t you cry when he goes off for a few hours? Is it because I’m a woman?” I laughed bitterly, catching the fire flashing through his eyes. I didn’t care that I was questioning him. I was twenty – one, no longer a teenager, and a full-grown wolf. When he didn’t say anything, I looked away. “Figures,”
“You didn’t tell us where you were,”
“I didn’t want you to know...”
His lips tightened into a grim line. “That’s not fair.”
We stared at each other for what felt like years. Standing to my full height, I turned on my heels and walked away. It was the ultimate disrespect but at that point, I just didn’t care. I was more stubborn than the wrath of hell itself.
“Izabella, come back!”
“Go to hell,” I yelled over my shoulder.
His heavy footsteps followed behind but I didn’t get a chance to look at him. Just when I rounded the corner, hands grabbed my arms, tugging me into the darkened corridors. Tristan’s face came into view and immediately, my tense muscles relaxed. What the hell? I tried to push him away but his grip tightened and I winced, glaring in a way that told him to fuck off. His dark eyes were hard and folded his muscled arms across his broad chest as tension swirled around us. I rolled my eyes.
“Tristan,” I heard Theodore say in warning. From the corner of my eye, I saw him watching both of us warily. He seemed ready to intercept if a fought broke out.
“Please, don’t go all Alpha on me. I’m not in the mood,” I gritted through clenched teeth,”
“I won’t but I have a little advice,” His grin stiff and his eyes were empty of any warmth. My cousin was crazy, I knew this, and I knew my uncle did judging by the way he watched me worriedly.
He was older than me by a couple of years and despite being a full-grown wolf, he was volatile. I’d seen the way he acted, I’d seen the way he fought – he was merciless. I needed to tread lightly with him.
“What is it? Be submissive, compliant and shut my mouth while I allow the rogue to take me by force!”
Snarls soared down the corridors and I jumped, watching the muscle in his neck pulse wildly. His grip on my upper arm tightened even further and I saw the rage burning within the depths of his irises. We were Alphas, innately aggressive which would aid our survival. So I didn’t back down in fear, I waited for his next words.
“Tristan!” Theodore repeated again, causing him to loosen his hold.
“Listen to yourself!” He hissed, shaking me roughly. “You say you want to be Alpha yet you’re speaking words that insult the very nature of your being. You rejected the pack when you left and you refused to consummate the bond that will strengthen your people. Who the hell will want you as Alpha?”
I faltered and the walls I’d built crumbled. “But-”
“No buts,” he interjected. “Putting yourself in danger without a legitimate cause will put your pack in danger. You. Were. Selfish. You had a temper tantrum like the little girl we all treat you as. Be the woman an Alpha female would be,”
Releasing my arm, Tristan stalked away, brushing past his father who stayed back for a few more seconds. When I didn’t turn to him, his retreating footsteps reached my ears. I could almost hear his thoughts. It was the truth. He just didn’t say it out loud. I continued to stare at the spot Tristan stood, lost in my thoughts. It felt like the whole world was against me; I couldn’t win at anything I wanted to do. Was I selfish? Yes, but I didn’t want to admit it. I allowed my emotions to drive my actions and I didn’t consider anybody else but my words still stood. Did they think I was incapable of taking care of myself? And why? I walked away but my mind didn’t register where.
Eventually, I entered the secluded hallway and the dim lights reflected my misery. I knew I was safe from the prying eyes of others as it was a space not many people passed by. It allowed me to bring my walls a little lower and emotions were so raw, so powerful, they racked through me. My nose stung and my vision blurred while a single tear cascaded down my cheeks. After that first tear, I couldn’t stop; I unleashed the floodgates as a sob broke through my lips and I sunk to my knees, feeling my spirit lower beneath the earth.
I curled into a little ball, trying to block myself from the world. Moments like these made me wonder what was I fighting for; should I give up? I felt visible, screaming to the top of my lungs and my cries fell on deaf ears. Why couldn’t they understand that I wasn’t like the other girls? Why couldn’t they understand I wanted to be my own?
To gain a little independence?
Feeling my chest constrict painfully, I gasped for air, more tears falling as my attempts were failing. My breathing increased, my heartbeat accelerating, panic invading my body as I blindly tried to grasp for something. Reality?
It’s a chemical reaction. I said to myself, remembering learning about this back when I was away. It was all physiological, your nightmare isn’t real. There was some truth to my words. The independence I was possessed was snatched from my grasp and I wondered how long it’d take for me to adjust.
Will I ever adjust?
Suddenly, I sensed him and his figure shadowed over me while his scent drained any fight I had left in me. He wrapped an arm around my waist and tucked his other beneath my knees, lifting me effortlessly in bridal style. Flinging my arms around his neck, I clung to him, nuzzling closer to his soothing touch.
Why do I fight him? Just give in.
“Don’t cry,” Tremors wracked through my body at the low baritone tune to his voice. The amount of comfort it brought only made me cry harder. “Please don’t cry,”
With his touch so tender, I almost believed it wasn’t him but the wind itself. Darkness consumed the corners of my eyes, and eventually, I succumbed to it as I fell into a deep sleep.
I dreamed of those green eyes again and like the last time, I found it difficult to look away. Specks of gold around the pupils winked at me under the moonlight. Mesmerised, I was speechless. I couldn’t make out who it belonged to but my vision cleared – it was Basil.
Were those his natural eyes? He was... smiling at me and in that moment, it was as if I was looking at a completely different person. It was a side of him I never thought I’d ever see; carefree, exuding happiness and it was all directed at me.
He touched my cheek and then, his fingers trailed down to his mark marring the crook of my neck. I’d never felt a connection so strong my heart was going to pulse out of my chest. This was a side of him I was missing; the side I craved for.
Whispering words to me in his native tongue, he kissed me and the stutter of my heart resembled the thunderous growls of lightning. This was home – I was at peace.
He pulled back and his smile was contagious, beautiful, and I grinned back only for it to drop seconds later.
Suddenly, a knife sliced through his abdomen, blood spewing from his lips as the life slowly faded from his eyes. Those green eyes that were vibrant and green faded into nothingness. Specks of white like glaciers replaced the golden hues, striking me with a knife of my own as I felt deep hollowness in my stomach; his soul was fading. The heat escaped his skin and something more feral rose to the surface as he stared at me, his face twisting in contempt, with sorrow. But he was dying. Panic shot through me
I rushed to him and desperately tried to stop the bleeding with my hands. The low thump of his heart slowed and he dropped to the ground weightlessly, bathing in his blood, marking his death on the soil.
Shooting upright frantically, I gasped for air and relaxed when I felt warm skin underneath my palms, his scent fresh, wafting around me and his heart beating so strongly I could cry in relief. Coincidentally, my hand was on top of his scar, on the exact same place where he was stabbed. With interest, I trailed a single finger down its length. It was a white, nasty looking, contrasting his tanned skin. Yet it had faded over the years – why didn’t I notice this before.
“I died that night,”
I tensed at his words that almost sounded confessional. What…? Surprised, I lifted my gaze to find the eyes of his wolf staring back at me. I ignored the disappointment seeping through my relief.
“Your eyes were green,” I noted.
“You saw me in my human life,”
I furrowed my brows. “You’re alive right now, what do you mean you died,”
His chest heaved as he breathed deeply. “Hunters attacked my birth – pack when I was younger, wiped out my whole family, my father was the Alpha. The Chief,”
“You were born in a tribal – pack,”
He nodded, tucking my hair behind my ear. “Yes, we have a different way of living from your high-born lifestyle. Still, we had rules to ensure our pack was as civilised as possible but there were traditions you may see as... barbaric,”
It explained why he was rough around the edges, too rough in fact. “I was mid shift when one of them stabbed me. By that time, everyone was dead. No one could help me. So I died. They couldn’t save my flesh but they saved me,”
Me…? Realisation dawned on me. I knew I could see the wolf in him but it never occurred to me I was actually talking to him. It was eerie, given when we shift, our wolves communicated through their actions. Leaning back, I assessed him swiftly in a new light.
“They?” I asked apprehensively. He paused for a moment, stopping the slow circles on my shoulders. Seconds rolled by and for a moment, I thought he wasn’t going to answer.
“My ancestors, the girl you saw that night by the woods,” Chills crawled skin as I listened to his truths. “I’m a shaman, Izabella,”