Slowly, as the days rolled by, each Alpha from every Noble pack visited The Midnight Moon. As custom has it, my family greeted them from the outskirts of the territory, all but Hunter and Phoenix. She was still recovering and wasn’t at the stage to move around more than before. To be honest, her slow healing was quite worrying. As wolves, we’d heal in a matter of days. I’d been taking care of her as much as I could, giving Cena warning glares to back off. So far, he’d listen but I knew when I was gone, he’d go to her.
Blinking slowly, I sucked in a deep breath, refocusing my gaze as I watched Theodore approach with a smile. It wasn’t wide and contagious as usual. It seemed more out of a greeting rather than happiness, giving the circumstances in our pack.
He hugged mom first, rubbing her back and kissed the top of her head before moving to dad with their weird manly hugs I could never do properly according to my brother. He squeezed Hailey into a tight hug – being careful of her round stomach – and held her face while resting his forehead on hers, sending a reassuring look that caused her to whimper. He whispered something and she nodded. Then, he turned to me and his sad green eyes softened.
“Oh, little one” Theodore kissed my forehead, wrapping his fingers around the nape of my neck to pull me closer. He glanced at my stomach. “It’s with the Moon now,”
I exhaled deeply and nodded. “I know but where’s Tristan?”
As if on cue, I heard his voice and footsteps of another. I recognised that scent yet it’d been far too long since I’d seen him. Glancing over my uncle’s shoulder, I saw Dante, my cousin. They grew up together but weren’t really fond of each other. Some bad blood between them I never really understood but I was grateful he was able to make it at a time like this.
He smiled at all of us, his blue eyes almost appearing like crystals under the sunlight. He was a few years older than Hunter and white hairs dusted around his temples while a couple of wrinkles that marked his age. That didn’t make him any less attractive, though. He was handsome but never managed to find his mate.
The Midnight Moon was split up into two packs because of the number of people we had in the past. My grandfather divided the members into two groups so his sons, my father and his late brother, Nathaniel, could be Alphas in their own right. In a sense, he and my brother co-led the Midnight Moon. Whatever decisions are made on Hunter’s side of things, they had to be approved by Dante and vice versa. Feelings aside, they made good decisions for the pack.
I rarely ever saw him, unlike Tristan or my uncle but whenever he made the decision to visit, it was almost always formal. Apart from my parents, like my brother, we were never close either.
“Izabella,” He greeted with a chin lift. “I’m sorry for-”
“I’m fine,” I cut him off and smiled tightly. “Thank you for coming.”
“We’re family, of course, I’d be here,”
Dante did something I never expected. He hugged me. Awkwardly, my arms hung to my sides but I didn't want to seem like an ass in front of everyone else so I patted his back. He chuckled in my ear, patting my cheek in return before moving to my parents.
After quick greetings, we all returned to the pack-house, ready to head in with some of the other Alphas that have made it. For some others, it could take days to get here.
On autopilot, I followed behind them all, unsure of how to approach a situation like this. It never occurred to me that maybe I was the only she-wolf to demand her right to lead the pack. That was until my brother was capable to stand on his own two feet.
My mother’s voice jolted me back to the present and I nodded without looking at her. “I’m good,”
She regarded me intently and then nodded, rubbing my back gently with a light pat. “Since your uncle and cousins are here, I thought we should eat first before talking about what’s next for the pack.”
“Sounds good,” I said almost tiredly.
Two other Alphas, Alpha John and Alpha Keenan, were escorted to the dining room. In our home, our motto was to treat them like royalty even though The Midnight Moon was one of the founding packs of The Nobles. I heard chatter around me but I wasn’t listening to what they were saying. I was a prisoner to my thoughts, thinking of what to do. I was in this purgatorial state on demanding for what I wanted yet insecure of the responses I’d receive. I wouldn’t act rash, that didn’t work out for me before, but my wolf wouldn’t let me give up. She wanted this as much as I did.
She would fight for what was rightfully hers.
I ate slowly and winced, dropping my spoon reflexively. Fuck, my head hurts. My mind was running then miles an hour so I spent most of the night tossing and turning. I rubbed my temples to ease the pain.
‘Want to talk?’
Dad’s voice filled my thoughts and I lifted my head to meet his blue eyes watching me curiously with one arched brow. From the corner of my eye, I could see mom throwing subtle glances my way. She must’ve said something to him and honestly, I wasn’t in the mood to be interrogated.
‘If it’s about the baby-’
I shot him a hard glare across the table and just like that, we fell into a silent stare off. Neither of us was willing to back down, at least, not too soon.
‘Izabella…’ I didn’t miss his warning tone and all of a sudden, my anger spiked out of control. Pushing back in my chair so roughly it clattered to the ground, I stood to my feet, effectively catching the attention of all sitting on the table.
I’m not bothered with this shit.
“Excuse me,” I said hoarsely and spun on my heels, not waiting for a response. Thankfully, no one stopped me and I leaned against the wall, the one furthest away from the dining room and breathed deeply
“Izabella,” I tensed but not because I didn’t want to see him. The hairs on my skin stood to attention at the sound of his deep, deep voice. His wolf’s voice. He was completely wolf. The reminder only dampened my mood further. I could walk away from him, just a couple more steps and pretend he wasn’t there. I made a move but he caught my wrist in a vice grip.
Those two words nearly knocked me off my feet. It wasn’t expected. Swirling on my heels, I faced him, recognising his eyes still possessed their wintry colour. I wasn’t hearing things; the emotions pouring from his voice wasn’t a hallucination. He was genuine.
We gazed at each other and his eyes were slightly narrowed, gauging my reaction. I didn’t know what to feel. Bewildered, I spluttered. “You-you’re sorry?”
He grabbed my other hand, placing it directly on his chest, right on top of his beating heart. It thumped rapidly at our close proximity and I felt my own heart pick up its pace. Squeezing my eyes shut, I breathed through the tingles searing through my skin.
“Human emotions don’t come easily to me,” He said, his breath fanning my lips. “I want what I want but failed to take you into consideration and I’m sorry.”
He brought my hand to his lips, brushing each knuckle.
“I don’t understand,” I whispered, frowning a little. “It’s not like you have a time limit when it comes to pups. Right now, I have plenty and-”
“We procreate, that is our purpose as mated wolves,” He cut me off and his eyes drifted to the side with a distant look. “At least, that’s what I’d been taught growing up.”
Intrigued, I tilted my head to the side. I don’t think he ever truly told me the ways of his birth-pack, other than the fact he was a shaman. We came from two completely different worlds. Ever since I was a pup, it’d been drilled in me to not sympathise for tribal packs, that their ways were barbaric, untrue to the Moon and for so long I’d despised them, even viewed them as rogues.
We valued the Moon, we valued true mates and to a certain extent, we valued the rights of our wolves and men and woman are equally trained to know how to defend themselves. His culture was different to mine but who were we to say that his ways were wrong? What we believed was morally right was subjective and based on our environment so that we’d know how to survive. The way he lived was probably how his people knew how to survive. Sure, I didn’t agree with the practices of his birth-pack but I was in no position to condemn that. As wolves, we were inherently imperfect and prone to making mistakes. This only made me realise how truly ignorant I was.
“What other things did they teach you?” I asked quietly and his sharp eyes sliced through me, taken aback by my question.
“Things you wouldn’t agree with. Now that I see your ways, there were some things I question now that I wouldn’t have back then,” He licked his bottom lip. “But then again, there are other practices I value.”
Biting my bottom lip, I said. “Then we can meet halfway.”
We locked eyes. Willing him to continue talking of his past, my shoulders slumped when he looked away.
He wasn’t gonna tell me and I didn’t understand why. He rarely talked about his past, his family. Was it painful to remember his family? His grip tightened on my hand slightly, almost painfully but he eased up when he sensed my discomfort. He pecked my forehead, down to the bridge of my nose then reached my lips. I sighed softly and melted into his touch. My stomach clenched pleasurably, hearing sounds of fireworks as I deepened the kiss. I growled lowly, my wolf making her presence known.
It only startled me out of our trance. I pulled back, placing my head in my hands.
“Do you see yourself?” I asked to distract ourselves. “I mean your human self?”
He was quiet for a moment, looking thoughtful. After another minute went by without his answer, I was about to give up but then what he said caught me off-guard.
“I tried to regain back my soul,”
“What?” I whispered, confused.
“That’s why I was away,” His shoulders lifted with a tired sigh. “I returned to the soil I was birthed on, my home before The Bloodstone. It’s where I died and I found my human self but there is a price,”
“What is it?” I asked cautiously, trying to not jump to judgemental conclusions. Slowly, his sharp eyes shot to mine and the silence was torture against my curious mind. They scanned my face, brows lowered in concentration and I could see the wheels spinning in his head.
I didn’t expect his answer to be so simple and yet so alarming and the air around me turned icy with my fear.