The following days took on a similar rhythm. Titania continued to aid Lucy in her struggle; which continually spiralled down. After finding her collapsed by her bed, knife wounds red and raw against her skin, Titania pushed her harder, almost like a mentor. She did not let the she-wolf out her sight as they trained and made sure she was not left alone again.
Watching the teenager slowly deteriorate was not happening in Titania’s hands, not her pack, not her blood.
Alpha Brett and the accompanying wolves had left, leaving the six packs remaining to go back to their previous routines. He had, discovering Titania’s anguish throughout the nights promised her he’d return. A funny feeling filled her at the determination in his parting words. But still refused his request. With a tight nod, she had wished him a safe journey, knowing that the trek to his homelands was perilous at best. For him, right now that was enough for crowding the female wolf was not what she needed or required. She was a proud woman and him staying beside her side would only undermine her strength, something that the wilder wolves held above all else.
Without anything other than intent exposed in his eyes, he left her. Hoping that upon his return she’d have an answer to his proposition and have overcome the struggle she was suffering within. He had Eóghan’s number to update him on the comings and goings, knowing full well of Titania’s constant habit of putting herself last; he had to keep an inside eye on her or he’d surely go mad. His wolf was growing attached to the female and Brett didn't know how much longer he could give her her space. He'd waited patiently for five years.
With Brett’s absence, Lucy was quick to fill the empty space. So she now resided in Titania’s cabin, Titania not having any choice unless she wanted to lose the once spirited wolf. Which she nearly had once. Once too many.
"I fucking hate unpacking.” Lucy kicked a box, frustrated at the hours she’d already put in trying to move her belongings from her family cave in the south. “Urg!”
Titania raised an eyebrow as the teenager stomped around. At the amusing visual, Titania stifled a small smile. Lucy was slowly but surely growing on Titania. Her presence did not irritate her- like others did- instead, she knew the rejection made them more similar than she’d like to admit aloud.
“If you keep throwing tantrums move upstairs. I’m trying to work.”
Lucy glared at her Alpha. Kicking another box just for show. “I thought you were already finished, can’t the pack work wait? You’d think with all the writing that you do that you actually enjoyed doing it.”
Titania sighed and signed her name on another document. Flicking through to another spreadsheet of the Duskfall pack’s finances. Not lifting her eyes to the teenager she remarked casually, “The numbers don’t do themselves and I don’t see you helping Lucy.”
“I’ve got these bloody boxes to unpack! I’d rather be doing paperwork than this!”
At Lucy’s expression, Titania deadpanned, “I am not unpacking your stuff for you.” Lucy huffed and gave her a look that could easily melt hearts. Unaffected, Titania shrugged, “Don’t get lazy. Do it yourself then you can help me with this, I still have the education side to handle.”
Before the young wolf could protest Titania cut in. Voice hard and cold yet oddly heartfelt towards Lucy, not that the female could tell.
“My place, my rules. You made that decision when you agreed to move in.”
Lucy just scowled and grumbled incoherently. Irritated that her superior was right but not in the mood to agree. “Whatever.”
Both females worked side by side. Titania sifting through documentation while Lucy grumpily unpacked her belongings. She opened the official letter from the Elder Council informing her that the cause for the young wolf deaths was still unaccounted for. A sigh escaped her lips. Her hopes of having her pack going back to old ways didn't look feasible before winter at the earliest. Scrapping it, her mind refocused as she went back to pack affairs.
Lucy was internally grateful for Titania’s aiding hand. She refused for her sister to see what she had become; embarrassed, she had told her she was training with the Alpha and while her sister remained suspicious, she could sense the disparity between her words and let her go.
Grabbing her cosmetic box, Lucy dashed upstairs knowing exactly what needed to be done. Gone was the old Taylor Swift lookalike and here to stay was the new, bitter but still breathing Lucy. She was not the same chirpy Lucy found nose deep in romance novels and texts on the history of the world. Oh no, not anymore.
Glancing in the mirror one last time Lucy took the scissors to her hair. Watching without emotion as the long blonde strands fell in clumps in the porcelain sink. Relief, strong and clear coursed through her as she begun her transformation. Her hard eyes didn’t waver as she chopped everything that represented her. No more innocence. No more laughter. No more feeling.
Let the outside match the inside, she thought, a tangled mess.
Finishing the hack job she produced a box of blue hair dye and got to work, desperately ridding herself of the reputation of being akin to the teen icon. The high eyebrow of Titania as she took in her new appearance confirmed that she achieved just that with her new look. Screaming out to the world: heartbroken and desperate.
Lucy busied herself in the kitchen, soon feeling Titania’s gaze hot on her back. Minutes later and still sensing her Alpha’s eyes she turned around and snapped, “What?”
“Suits you,” was Titania’s stoic response and expecting a retaliation of some sort, Lucy stood agape at her Alpha’s acceptance of such an outrageous look. She knew her mother would possibly murder her at the loss of her golden tresses. Too bad she already felt dead inside.
“It does? But...” She murmured, confused.
Titania rolled her eyes, putting down the paperwork to focus on Lucy. “You’re wanting to change yourself because you feel different inside. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, I did that myself.” She reminisced bitterly, “If looking like you melted a box of blue Crayola over your head is the look you’re trying to accomplish then well done, the crown is yours. Shame I won’t find a sash in the same shade.”
Lucy’s eyes widened at Titania’s teasing.
“Was that a joke?” Lucy grinned, loving the way Titania scowled back at her. How she enjoyed pressing her superiors buttons.
“The Alpha making a joke? Am I daydreaming?” She pinched herself dramatically while Titania’s scowl deepened. “What era have we entered? I’m dead, I must be.”
Titania’s eyes clouded over at the mention of that one word. Death. What Lucy had nearly succumbed to.
Nonchalantly she reprimanded, “I’m twenty-six, not fifty.” But Lucy continued to laugh to herself. Pouring out two cups of whiskey while she did, little drops spilling on the floor from the shaking.
Sobering up, she raised her glass to Titania in a mock salute. “To rejection!” She cheered, the nineteen year-old swigging a mouthful of the liquid in her mouth. Her Alpha sent her another eye roll at her bipolar behaviour; something she had gotten used to since her arrival, before clinking glasses with the teenager. Both drinking to the bittersweet thought of rejection.
“You could’ve thought of something better to celebrate other than rejection.”
Lucy knocked back the rest of her drink, “Like what? My broken heart? My mate bonded to someone else? Yes, those are much better.” She replied dryly like the whiskey she was drinking.
Titania sighed, “Not what I was meaning. Strong packmates, family, your health, those are worth drinking to. Not to despair.”
“Easy for you to say!” Lucy’s wolf emerged, “You have it lucky! Your mate is only pursuing females, not fucking bonded to another! She’s going to have his pups, live and grow old with him while I sit here and rot! Where’s my happiness?!”
The blue haired female couldn’t stop herself as her wolf ascended, turning her blue eyes a shadowy and twisted black. It wasn’t until her focus was regained on her Alpha; who sat shrouded in a dark aura that her vision returned to normal. Her wolf sensing the real danger in front.
“Pursuing females?” A deep, dark voice filled with poison. Her arctic eyes sparked with a feral tint and Lucy couldn’t help but flinch. “Why doesn’t that surprise me.”
“Alpha... I didn’t mean...”
"Who?" Titania smashed her clenched fist through her oak desk. Her own wolf battling for control, control that she was long since losing.
“Noone. I’m not sure, I didn’t mean...”
In a fit of deadly rage Titania stormed towards the door. The harsh wind scattering the paperwork that was previously organised; the chaos representing the bane of Titania’s life.Under her breath, Titania cursed the very male all while Lucy tidied up the carnage she had unknowingly created.
A run calmed Titania’s fury but only by a few notches. Her wolf was enraged, rightly so, at the news of her so called mate supposedly courting others. That would not do, she mused darkly. Her cracked heart was thumping alarmingly quick within her ribcage, her blood thrumming with malicious intent and her mind swirling with images of death, mutilation and havoc.
By the time she had circled her territory her aura was eerily calm, the full moon overcast in the night sky causing other things to stir. Unease, among many conflicting emotions surged and Titania recognised with blasted realisation that it had been a month since she had first met her mate.
Four full weeks; signalling the beginning of her heat.
Returning to an empty lodge near the outskirts of her territory, she scrambled upstairs, the telltale lick of heat through her midsection warning enough for the pain waiting to come. Titania clawed the clothes from her body. The fabric constricting her skin. Red hot fire raced over every nerve ending and Titania couldn't help but lay on her wooden bed, shifting under the pressure the Moon was forcing upon her. Miserable, she panted, sweat beading over her pale skin as the Moon watched from the high heavens.
Nathan stood in front of her cabin. Lucy’s words ever present on his mind. Shaking his head, he knew he had to at least talk to Titania, even if it was to smooth out his conscious, a conscious that hadn’t let him sleep since Lucy’s revelation. He needed to see for himself if he was hurting her, her cold and distant persona made it hard to tell. With a heavy hand he knocked once. Expecting to be greeted by the stony faced woman herself, he was momentarily taken back when he was instead graced with Lucy.
"Wow, what a surprise." Her sarcasm wasn't unexpected. Nathan knew that their conversation from the hunt and the accusation that came from all the other wolves at the outcome- blame Santiago and Apollo for loosing control of their wolves.
"Lovely to see you too chica." He tried to peer around her, "is she in?"
Guilt crossed Lucy's face, "if you're referring to the Alpha then no, she left a few hours ago."
His face straightened, "do you know when she'll be back?"
"As if it matters to you, don't you have other females to sniff around?"
Nathan sighed, realising the hardheaded wolf wasn't going to give him the answer he was wanting. "Fine, I'll find her myself and leave you be."
"Good." The door slammed hard behind her. Letting Nathan know that he definitely wasn't welcome.
With the full moons rays reflecting on his bare skin he allowed his instincts to guide him. Wolf in control, fifteen minutes later he arrived at an old wooden cabin. Without hesitation he knocked. One knock turned to three and with no response he picked the lock; a necessary skill he had acquired from his time as a rogue.
The door gave way with nothing more than a slow creak and he crept inwards. His eyes wandered the building but was not surprised when he found that its decoration much matched the person occupying it. Her scent was everywhere. Her second home. The lack of sentimental items and the cold touch that the timber beams gave off confirmed what he thought about the woman.
Catching sounds from upstairs, he made his way up the staircase in the centre of the cabin, hoping that this was not a stupid decision on his part. Then again, he had made many terrible choices up until now, what could be worse? He pondered silently.
Seconds ticked by; each marked by the clock hands moving on the grandfather clock outside what Nathan assumed was Titania’s room. Putting his ear to the door he was more than certain that she was inside. His wolf stirred, but without thinking about the consequences of his actions, he pushed the door open, revealing Titania’s crouched figure over the bed.
Her obsidian eyes found his immediately and Nathan shuddered under their intensity.
“Sorry for barging in, I... well.” He cleared his throat, “I just wanted to talk? I know this is overdue but a few things recently have been bothering me and I just thought that an actual conversation would do us a lot of good?”
The gravelly pitch to Titania’s voice caught Nathan off guard, “So there’s an us now?” She laughed, filled with pain before another wave of fire rendered her immobile of such an action, ”Interesting."
She cursed and fisted the sheets. Eyes focused solely on the oak floorboards, pleading that her mate would just leave. Her control lay only by a string and that thread was quickly fraying.
Familiar anger raced up Nathan’s spine at her dismissal. Eyes blazing. He was finally trying with her and he could not help the heat of his cheeks at her words. Clenching his fists enough to draw blood, he paused; inhaling the air and he froze. It was in that moment that his pupils dilated at her sultry sweet scent and he focused on her positioning.
He took a step backwards, his own wolf ascending to the forefront. The need to claim what was his was all consuming within his veins, his primal urges taking over his conscious.
“No it can’t be.”
Titania screamed as her body pulsed, filling the room with a more demanding scent. Her body recognising her mate so closeby. Instinct was thriving in the room and both wolves were struggling to hold it at bay.
“Nathan you need to leave.” Titania fell forwards, her body preparing to shift.
The sound of his name tumbling out her rosy lips only fueled Nathan to take a step closer. Dangerously close to her naked body. He licked his lips, desperate to taste the skin presented to him under the full Moon.
“YOU NEED TO LEAVE... NOW!” Titania was on all fours and, unfortunately was displaying everything she had for Nathan who couldn’t tear his eyes off of her.
At his refusal to move she growled low and deep, dominance pouring out her just as much as the pheromones were.
His canines lengthened at the sight in front. “I...can’t...hold on.”
Titania tried and failed to change positions but the raging heat kept her trapped. “You better back the fuck away and stop looking at me like you want to eat me.”
Nathan stepped forward, wolf at the forefront. “I would happily do that right now.”
She writhed on the oak floorboards. Momentarily basking in the cold that it brought to her skin. She was burning from the inside out, the inferno demanding to be fed as the two fated simply watched each other with hungry gazes.
Much to her surprise, Nathan picked her shaking body off the floor and to the bathroom, his touch bringing sweet relief to her frenzied nerves. Eying both the shower and bath he turned the dial for the shower, time of the essence. Noticing her struggling he shed his shirt and pressed her close, skin to skin. Forcing himself to focus, he breathed in long and deep, controlling the wolf within as he placed his mate in the shower while he followed suit, clothes and all. With a breath of relief the contact eased Nathan’s wolf, if only a little. He managed to gain control back but his canines and claws remained, his wolf only just below the surface.
“Touch me inappropriately or do anything and I’ll bite you.” She rasped.
He chuckled into her hair as he let the cold water soothe them both, “Right now, that’s exactly what we both want.”
Titania huffed, the water doing wonders to her blazing skin, “After this is over, that wont be the case, I’ll go back to being me and you’ll...well... go back to sniffing around other females.” She cursed herself for the weakness heat brought, and could sense the contempt within her tone.
Nathan could sense it too and he stiffened against her. “You’ll go back to that Alpha, or that warrior.” He snarled at the very image of the males all over his mate, “It hasn’t stopped you in the past.”
Titania growled. The fire returned with her anger and she cursed for the hundredth time that she had to rely on the infuriating wolf behind her for support as her body gave way.
"Fucking Moon and this piece of shit.” She hissed out, wiggling against Nathan as the bonfire grew exponentially.
“Come on.” He lifted her up and she stiffened as she felt his arousal pressed up against her bottom. The fire spiked in her abdomen and she grit her teeth with the entirety of her willpower to stop herself from climbing on the wolf behind her.
He deposited her on the bed. She struggled until his body melted behind her. Nathan sat with Titania as she shifted multiple times through the night, he kept repeating the mantra his mother had ushered to him many moons ago, never leave your mate to suffer in heat, hold on and be strong. And that he would, if only in memory of his departed mother.
Pushing his escalating lust aside, as well as the hatred and disgust he harboured, he diligently stoked her hair until the worst was over. The once strong and fearless Alpha female reduced to a shivering girl with tears streaming down her face.
The shattered bond hummed deeply between the two as they embraced the night together. Assembling the last remaining shards of her dignity, Titania erected her defences and turned to face Nathan. “Why are you here?”
Watching her carefully he replied, “I wanted to ask you a few things about...”
“About what?” She hurried him, not appreciating the hesitation plastered all over his face. As an Alpha, her urges were much stronger and his emotions affected her own; even with a rejected bond and right now the misery behind those hazel eyes were causing unwanted feelings to trigger.
She schooled her facial features as he unabashedly gauged her reaction to that one word which had destroyed Titania. She held his eyes, not backing down. “What about it?”
He sighed and ran a hand down his face, “That’s a topic for the morning. Sleep, you’ll need it after screaming the house down from the past few hours.” Before she could argue he pressed a finger to her lips, silencing her.
She snapped her teeth at such an oppressive move but could feel her body sag with his words. He was right, she was positively exhausted. Then again, suffering from heat while remaining rejected and unclaimed was that much more painful. But once again, she was still kicking: the real question was for how much longer?