32. The Heart and Soul of an Alpha
When I left the bathroom, Basil was gone. I didn’t think of it too much as his scent lingered in the air, letting me know he was near. Knowing there were people waiting for me, I got dressed before jogging down the stairs, following the sound of male chatter that led to the living room.
What I met wasn’t what I was expecting. There were Alphas everywhere!
Sometime throughout the night, all Noble Alphas have managed to make it to The Midnight Moon. From the way they’re staring at me, they probably got the news of what happened as well. I didn’t falter under their gaze but instead met each and every single one of their eyes.
The room was heavy with tension as they all waited for me. I was the only female in here yet the amount of power and testosterone swirling around was overwhelming. Someone standing from the corner of my eye caught my attention and I turned to realise it was Theodore. From his kind smile, I would’ve never guessed he was so adamant to not have me as Alpha but something changed that about him. He touched my shoulder with a light reassuring squeeze and awkwardly, I smiled back.
“Where’s dad,” I whispered, briefly glancing around the room before returning my gaze to my uncle.
“Your father and Basil went to talk about things,” His smile broadened. I frowned at his sudden change in attitude. Before, he wasn’t too happy that I challenged Tristian for the title. Come to think of it, many had a change in attitude. Some stared at me as if I was some golden, shiny stare. “Right now, you’re representing both The Bloodstone and The Midnight Moon. Think you can handle it?”
At his question, I stared at me. Tightening my jaw, I nodded.
“Yeah,” I muttered, stepping away in time for his hand to drop down to his side. Turning to all, I cleared my throat, placing both hands behind my back to hide my trembling fingers. “Hello,”
It came out more timidly than I expected. Obviously, I didn’t clear my throat enough. A few chuckles went around the room and I blushed, glancing at my uncle nervously. He nodded in encouragement.
“I know you guys weren’t expecting this. Expecting me as…” I blew out a low steady breath. “Alpha,”
No one said anything but they didn’t seem disinterested. That’s good, I thought, gathering what little confidence I had in me. Straightening my posture, I decided to go with the big guns. No matter what they thought, I’d prove them all wrong.
“Look, I may be a woman but I have the heart and soul of an Alpha, a great Alpha, one willing sacrifice her life for her people,”
Most of them nodded in approval, liking my statement and my shoulders relaxed as tension eased out of me. As Alpha, you’d oak to protect your pack at whatever cost. If that cost was your life, then so be it. It may not have seemed that way over the years being away in college but it was the truth on my part.
“What about pups? Basil will need heirs to continue his bloodline for The Bloodstone,”
I clenched my fists at the words pups. The pain was still there and the wound was still so fresh the healing process would be slower than I thought – the mental wound. I’d have to get over it at some point, right? I wouldn’t allow it to slow me down. My eyes fluttered as I thought of a suitable answer.
“Any pups I have are entitled to succeed after Basil,” I paused, nodding my head to convince myself of that statement. Of course, they would. Hailey’s and Hunter’s baby would succeed after me. “Regardless whether or not our firstborn is female.”
Silence settled over us. My skin was itching with discomfort but I didn’t let it show. Before The Noble's establishment, there was a time where Alpha females were considered an abomination, some put to death before they could even take their first full breath. It still happened in tribal packs, the stories that I’d heard were atrocious. Infanticide was a major issue that needed to be resolved.
“Who’s gonna be Luna then? It’s a traditional role,” One Alpha spoke and all eyes turned to him. “Who will take the role as Luna if women became Alphas?”
Luna, Luna, Luna. Why place a gender on our roles in the pack system? Come to think of it, what was so different from the roles the she-wolf takes from their Alpha? Absolutely nothing. The ‘feminine roles’ of making sure pups were educated and elders being taken care of are the roles of an Alpha. For a wolf to ignore those roles was no Alpha. It’s all or nothing in my book.
“I don’t see any difference in the roles an Alpha takes from what his mate takes. Besides, not every Alpha male is mated to an Alpha female, we are already rare enough. Not every she-wolf is born to lead, some are content being Lunas and others are not,” And there was nothing wrong with that.
“Others like you?”
I nodded. “And a lot more out there who are unable to speak for themselves.”
I didn’t need to explain myself to them but I needed them to agree to the changes I planned for The Nobles. In order for a bill to pass, each and every single Alpha needed to agree. So far, neither one of them were completely against the offer which was good. For the first time, I felt a sense of hope for the wolves, for the she-wolves and most of all every other Alpha female that is yet to be born in the future.
“Thank you all for coming,” I said, dismissing them. Together, they all stood and went off in their own directions while some came over to greet me personally, kissing both of my cheeks. I smiled at them all shyly as they passed and took it all to heart as I knew it meant they accepted me. Not only was I Alpha but I was their new leader as head of The Nobles, a descendant of the founding families who started the establishment.
A familiar voice snapped me out of my reverie and I lifted my gaze to meet the dark, kind gaze of Mason.
He was different, slightly broader than the last time I saw him but as always, devastatingly handsome. He was freakishly tall with dark skin that showed his heritage, a mixture of his black father and Indian mother. The colour was flawless in his white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His hair was short, dark and tightly curled naturally. The attraction I felt for him wasn’t present as it used to. I felt nothing.
That was a good thing despite him being the first man I’d ever kissed.
“Alpha Mason,” I said coolly, pursing my lips in displeasure. “You still on babysitting duties?”
If it were possible, his grin widened, revealing perfect straight white teeth that were almost blinding. “I was just doing your father and brother a favour,”
I lifted a brow mockingly, folding my gaze as I gave him a hard stare. “Were you really?”
A muscle ticked in his jaw and he tilted his head back, staring down at me with a slight furrow to his brows. “What are you implying?”
“You know what I’m talking about!” I hissed lowly, refraining from a growl.
We stared at each other, neither of us willing to back down. He knew what I meant; our time together meant more than just a simple companion or a kiss. I didn’t get a chance to know his answer when he stood directly behind me. Subconsciously, I leaned back into his hard chest, soaking in his aura and his smell.
I watched Mason’s eyes travel up to meet the cool gaze of my mate. Immediately, tension thickened the air and inwardly, I groaned, pinching the bridge of my nose. The testosterone floating around was intense, so much so I felt the need to break whatever Alpha stare-off they were having.
“If you guys are done measuring your dicks,” I commented, glancing at Basil. “This is Alpha Mason, Mason, Alpha Basil.”
“Nice to meet you,” Mason said, extending a hand. The smile on his face was taut, not like the playful one he’d given to me earlier. Basil didn’t move an inch, forcing Mason to lower his hand.
“See you later, Izabella,” He muttered, giving me one last look before spinning on his heels.
“You won’t be speaking to her.” Shocked, I turned to Basil, slapping his chest while glaring at him. Mason didn’t say anything and from his fading footsteps, he’d left us alone to ourselves.
“That was rude,”
“I don’t give a shit,” His eyes dropped to me. “He likes you,”
“Of course, he does,” I folded my arms. “Our families are close friends-”
“No,” He bit out through clenched teeth. “Let me make myself clear; he wants you,”
I shifted my gaze to the ground. I never thought of that. Mason was in my past. We never did anything more than just a simple kiss but what we felt was more. Yes, I was attracted to him but knew nothing could go further. Before returning home, I had to scrub myself clean so no one would sniff his scent on me. It would suggest things that weren’t there and my family were keen on waiting for your mate, an old tradition that’s quickly dying in our day of age.
“He can’t have me, you know that,” I pointed his chest for emphasis.
He regarded me intently, not saying a single word. With a sigh, he reached for me, curling his fingers around the nape of my neck and placed a kiss on my forehead. I closed my eyes, breathing deeply at the tingles of his touch. It travelled through my whole body, burning my insides so fiercely I released a soft gasp.
“We have to return home soon. Our people have heard of your new position and want to see you,”
I nodded, swallowing the lump in my throat. “I’ll make arrangements, right now I need to clear a few things,”
Squeezing his wrist, I backed away and he let me go willingly, watching me as I headed for the door. Moving down the corridors, I stopped in front of my brother’s room. We moved him to the pack-house after a couple of days, wanting to be close to him despite everything that was happening around us. That way, we weren’t too far away from him. The doors were slightly open and I heard shuffling around inside. I peeked through the gap, seeing Hailey sitting by the corner, next to his head, reading a book to him.
I stood by the threshold, listening, waiting as she talked to him even though he couldn’t talk back. After weeks of the unknown, his condition seemed to be getting better but nothing that we could build our hope on. Sensing my presence, she glanced at me, sending a shaky smile.
Exhaustion radiated off her in waves; it was evident by the dark circles crowding her green eyes. I stared at her stomach just as she placed a hand on top of it. Neither one of them wanted to know the gender; they wanted to be surprised. I feared that my brother may not see the birth of his child. Most of all, I feared for Hailey’s health.
“Did you sleep at all?”
When she didn’t respond, I pushed myself off the doorframe, standing by her side while holding her shoulder. “C’mon,”
“I can’t leave him,” She blurted out loud, tears pooling the corners of her eyes. “It’s hard to sleep without him, I-I get nightmares-”
“Hush, it’s alright, it’s gonna be alright,” I said softly, placating her.
“I can’t have this baby without him,”
“Yes you will,” She must’ve caught my hard tone because her watery eyes met mine. “Hunter wouldn’t want to see you like this. If anything, he’d want you to take care of yourself and your baby,”
I lowered my hand to her stomach, right on top of hers. A single tear trickled down her cheek and slowly, she nodded.
“Taking care of myself and the baby,” She inhaled sharply. “I can do that.”
Guiding Hailey to her bedroom, I waited until her breathing slowed, letting me know she’d fallen asleep. I covered her body with a duvet and returned to my brother’s room. I sat on the chair Hailey was him and spent my time observing him. Touching his large hand, I squeezed it tightly, hoping he’d return the gesture.
Breathing through my tears, I leaned forward, resting my forehead on his chest and heard his slow, steady heartbeat. No matter our differences, he was still my brother. We were close and it was crushing to know it came to this for me to realise I didn’t pay too much attention to our relationship. We grew distant the older I was, the more defiant I became. If only I’d put my pride aside and spent more time with him.
“I can do this,” I whispered, pressing my cheek against his chest. “I will not fail you,”
Leaning forward, I kissed his forehead, pressing my cheeks to his lovingly. I would do everything in me to make changes for the better. Not only did I want to make my brother proud but I wanted to be proud of myself.
There was only one great gift I could give to the wolves and that was hope. Hope in their leaders, in themselves and in the future.