As social beings, wolves couldn’t help but flock together. During their stay at Duskfall, connections had been made, both platonically and romantically, so it came as no surprise to Titania when the European wolves grouped together and continued to watch her with a suspicious eye. Everywhere she went, wolves watched, waiting for her to lose it. For feral wolves were notorious for the lack of control of their wild counterpart. She had come close on many occasions but had relied on her own self-mutilation to calm the beast’s need for blood- her blood would suffice instead of that of the innocent.
She spat with menace at the Spaniard that laid on the ground below her: beaten, bruised and bloodied. Had they not learned that she was the Alpha? That this pack was hers? She thought as she her growl hung loosely throughout the spar rings. Many dipped their heads in respect at such a sound while others stared. Challenging her reign was idiotic before, but now she was a feral wolf, all hell broke loose at the disrespect.
As her blood thumped with adrenaline from the challenge, the beast let its presence known. “Anyone else?” Titania shouted, eyes blazing in the grey February weather.
She stalked towards the Lithuanian Alpha Louis who sat whispering to the Belgium and French Alphas in the side-lines. She addressed the Alphas, all who hadn’t aided Duskfall in Alfonso’s attempt of a takeover.
“No Alpha.” They muttered; heads lowered in respect. Louis had remained quiet but as Titania snarled darkly, he too bent his head. Over the past couple of days, their authority over their wolves had taken on a change and they too could sense it in the air. Respect was crucial in wolf hierarchy and as Titania continued to undermine them, they were losing their stand. Hence why two had already sought an alliance with Titania. Both hastily rejected.
Satisfied with her visual sign of dominance, she strolled back to the spar rings to collect her items and return to her desk but not before a familiar voice rung out.
“I’ll challenge you.”
Titania’s eyes flew to Brett who stood there nonchalantly. He cracked his fists and sent her a wicked smile- one that had the bond flickering between them.
“Very well. Don’t think I’ll go easy on you.”
He ran his hand over the newly shaved stubble that adorned his sharp jawline as he discarded his shirt. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
As the two Alphas got into position, wolves scuttled for front row seats. With distracted teenagers pointing and talking animatedly to one another, Angus was quick to notice, joining the group gathering around Titania and Brett and got them to back away, shouting at the teenagers to watch from afar. This was good for Duskfall, for wolves needed to see how powerful Titania was. Unfortunately, her instability posed a real danger to others safety.
With space around the two, Angus crossed his arms and mindlinked Eóghan, ensuring the teenagers were kept in line. It didn’t take long for Titania’s thunderous growls to motion for the start of what would be, many would call, an interesting spar.
Brett’s instincts pulsed at the thought of hurting Titania- his claimed bondmate- but he knew that they needed this. Titania needed to stop ignoring the bond and recognise that she couldn’t remain disengaged with her emotions despite their predicament. Avoiding him would fix nothing and if blood had to be spilt for her to recognise that they had a bond then so be it. Brett was done waiting around.
They shadowed each other around the ring, observing, as they tested the arms’ reach between them. In this case, Brett had the upper hand with an extra three inches reach and six inches height, however Titania’s size had never been a hindrance before.
She fought mercilessly and she’d had worse odds in her 26 years of life.
Brett was a giant, built like an oak tree with impressive strength in his upper body, carved with years of harsh training. The man had competed in many caber tosses and it showed on his body. Ridges and hard muscle outlined the Celtic black ink that swirled around his pecks and left arm as he faced the cold intensity of the woman. Titania wasn’t fazed as she sent attack after attack with swift fluidity, all meeting their target but causing minimal damage to their solid component. All Brett could manage was to dodge and weave around her, and as they continued to dance, she grew frustrated. She demanded teeth and claw.
“If you wanted to challenge me then give me enough respect to give me a decent fight. This is not worth my time.”
He narrowly missed a fist to his face as he frowned, “I did this so we could finally have a conversation. I can’t wait days between our talks for answers... basic communication isn’t hard.”
Her brow lifted pointedly as she sidestepped an incoming leg kick from her left side. Brett’s eyes glowed as he fought with his instinct to protect, rather than hurt, Titania.
“Don’t patronise me. I can do fine well what I want without being scowled like a child.” Her temper rose, blood burning at the rising fury from Brett’s pressuring demands. “I didn’t want this bond to begin with.”
She sent a flurry of sharp claws to his side as blood trickled over the skin, “I didn’t want any of this! None!”
Her attacks followed the feral that reared its ugly head. It didn’t feel the bond like Brett did, instead numbness was all it feasted on as the void grew ever bigger.
“You think I wanted to mark you like I did?” His foot caught hers as she tumbled to the floor, Brett looming over her. “If I didn’t mark you, you would’ve killed Eóghan and I couldn’t let you do that.”
Quickly righting herself, she growled, fangs protruding from her gums as her eyes flickered threateningly from black to blue. “There you go again...Couldn’t let me, well I’m not yours! You have no right to give a shit! Stop thinking about me and what I supposedly want!”
Brett took damage as Titania’s knuckles cut into his eyebrow. A small trickle of blood obscuring his vision. His grey eyes were filled with open emotion that spilled his intentions, thoughts, and feelings. Meeting his gaze with hers, he gave Titania a sombre smile as the bond prickled painfully under his skin.
“Not something I can do when I care about you and your health.”
Titania eyes froze as she saw the love that was present within the usually blank irises of Brett. Her heart jumped yet again and for a faint second, the bond pulled her in, whispering of the love and adoration this male could give her. It was fleeting but she felt it. Emptiness and turmoil, she was used to, but love, concern, and care? She retreated to her comfortable emotions of rage and denial. Her past really had scorned her perception of what she wanted and truly needed. Regrettably, Titania couldn’t see that herself and believed she was worth nothing. That she was incapable of anything other than hurting and bleeding for others: a selflessness inside her that was mistook for coldness.
Her withdrawal was transparent as all emotion left her eyes. The black prevailed as the wolf took over, banishing Titania to a safe place of darkness within her own mind. As the wolf surged, the trauma diminished. To Titania, this was her way of coping.
At the shift, Angus ushered the curious and fearful crowd inside. Protests and whines met his ears almost instantly but at the insanity emanating from his Alpha, he knew it was their only safe option. Soon, their faces where pressed hard against the glass of the cabins surrounding the rings.
Doctor Craig stood by with his hunting rifle, loaded with high dosage tranquilizers. A precaution for the unfortunate person who challenged the beast. However, Brett shook his head at his aim towards the feral Alpha. The message was clear: he wanted to deal with the situation himself, despite the torturous ends her previous opponents had met. Trust was all Brett relied on as he faced off against the broken souled wolf in front of him but as Titania’s lifeless black eyes glared back at him, his persistence wavered.
“Titania?” He called. The words where lost on the wind as her attacks continued.
She sliced into the male as she lunged at him. With little time to react between her erratic moves- a stark contrast to her usual fighting technique- Brett had no choice but to take the hits, severely impacting his stance as his shoulders slumped. As blood dripped down the exposed skin and pain blossomed from his sides and thighs, he could feel the low howls of his wolf demanding to submit to her.
With one hand blocking her fist towards his face and another cupping the torn muscle of his waist, Brett’s ire and exasperation grew. “Come back Titania! Don’t you dare hide from me... not when I’ve confessed myself to you.”
At the empty words Titania didn’t relent. She took his hesitance as an opportunity and sunk her teeth and claws into the skin that was presented to the beast. Wolves held their breaths as Titania wore down her prey with nicks, bruises and blood with her irregular and volatile onslaught. No recognition was present in the impossible endlessness of her eyes as they passed over with no reverence whatsoever for the male.
“You call this fighting?” He baited, “Stop running from your emotions and fight it, fight it!” Her teeth latched onto his calf and ripped into the muscle. Managing to keep his voice steady from the utter agony that now throbbed from his leg, he grabbed her neck and pressed down hard. Determination shone from his penetrating gaze into hers as he forced her head up to face him.
“You’re stronger than this. I know you’re in there, and I know this is now a part of you... But letting it take over when you can’t handle life is not the answer.”
She kept clawing mercilessly but a slight pause in her burrowing had Brett continuing. His hand moved to his mark on her neck as he wrapped his thick hand around the puncture wounds.
“Emotions are not a weakness. They make you who you are and by constantly ignoring them you’re letting them fester.”
The static heat from Brett’s hand and the mark fizzled. Black met blue as Titania’s eyes battled between the colours; recognition forcing her wolf back into its confines. Her face furrowed as she regained brief control, but the black was quickly dissipating around the whites of her eyes.
“What the? Get off me you brute.” She cussed but Brett’s hand remained locked in position.
Noting the sweat pouring off her forehead, paired with the strain of control she was trying to keep, Brett tipped a hand under her chin, so she was facing him properly.
“Do not let it win, you’re not an Alpha for nothing Titania, you’re a fucking trooper but this isn’t healthy. Follow my voice if you must. You’ve got this...”
“I can’t...” She raised her bloodied claw to her temple as the feral thumped against its cage. She eyed the gore of Brett’s leg and cringed in mortification, “It’s too much... I have no control over it.”
“And that’s where you’re wrong. You’re an enigma, the best kind I’ve ever met.” His eyes conveyed his truth as his thumb ran gently over her cheek. “You’ve got to feel.”
She panicked as her limbs tingled with the common fury from the feral. Her vision blurred red at the sight of blood and her claws once again found its place hovering over Brett’s gaping wound, the darkness edging its way to take over; murmuring how sweet her ignorance was, without any trauma, torture, or torment.
“I don’t...” She struggled, “Too much... I’m not strong enough...” The desperation filled her voice as her eyes filled back into their empty obsidian.
The fight continued as she resumed attempting to dig her pointed claws under his flesh. With a strong throw, Brett hurled the woman away, not without feeling his own resistance from the golden bond between the pair.
Titania’s snarl echoed throughout the grounds, shaking trees in their wake and disrupting the usually calm afternoon air. Menace hung deep as a barely touched Titania faced off against a male that was bleeding heavily from four different points.
It didn’t stop Brett as he readied himself upright. Despite the pain and sting of his exposed flesh, he stood and shook his shoulders as if to rid himself of his battle wounds. With a low growl of his own wolf, he pushed onwards and charged her, hoping that she could push through while he distracted the claws that demanded blood.
Strike after strike. Lunge after lunge. Scratch after scratch, all ended with both Alphas trading blows. As Brett’s bond prevailed, so did his wounds. The spar was tiresome, and Brett could see shining moments of clarity from Titania, but he wouldn’t submit to her and her title unless she could prevail against the feral. Something Brett knew she had the strength to do.
If hell’s means of mental suffering was anything on what horror Titania had on loop within her mind, then she’d have been long gone. She couldn’t escape the isolated cushioned peace of allowing the feral to deal with the terror while she was numb to it all. A nice change, she thought as she floated blissfully unaware that the feral was tearing holes into a male fighting ferociously for her. For why would you want to fight when you could just avoid it? Hadn’t she already been through enough?
Her moments of serenity were disturbed by the occasional second of realisation. The low timbre of Brett’s voice would cut through the haze, ”Fight it! For Gods’ sake Tani, you need to control this. Feel it, embrace it and own it,” but would disappear once again. Solace coated her in a sense of tranquillity that she could rarely achieve, even within slumber. In the comfort of the back of her mind there was no misery, complicated relationships or feeling but there was something missing. A hole of dissatisfaction that would never be filled without developing meaningful friendships with those that cared about her. Eóghan, Lucy, Angus, Garth, Brett and her packs faces flittered through her mind as precious memories of the courage their companionship had brought to her life, wavering the hold the feral had on her.
As she fought one of the wolves that had not only given his time and effort into her wellbeing but had also tied his own life to hers- despite the risk, her head raced with deep set confliction. For years they had been right, she had allowed her trauma, her past to dictate her future and shape her into something she didn’t recognise. Titania was now a walking representation of the injustice her bondmates and mate had cast her to be.
With the force of Brett’s fist upon her right cheek, the feral bit back hard. Reining in the uncontrollable was as arduous as any uphill battle was but she wrestled the internal gravity and forced her claws into the skin of her shoulders: hugging herself tightly. Forcing the feral down, she fell to all fours. The internal war surged as Titania shook back and forth, growling at herself as she slammed her head onto the hard ground. Demanding the demons to cease.
The scene had wolves voicing their opinions. Many screamed for Brett to claim his victory of Duskfall and kill her on the spot while others held their breaths for Titania’s strange display. Done for, weak, monster, were only some of the whispers that chorused, like an out of sync choir, throughout the cabins as it became apparent that the feral was too unstable to defend its title. Judgement, hot and fiery blazed through the Alphas at this supposed sign of weakness, for it undermined their position even further. None who watched realised the confliction or understood the sheer severity of mental strength required to tackle a feral wolf. All they saw was her reputation, her title, and her gender as she lay immobilised on the ground. There was nothing Duskfall could do as they too, watched with frozen expressions on their faces. Even Angus had his jaw clenched at the agony painted on his superior’s features.
Blood and the familiar feeling of sliced skin drew Titania into her comfortable bubble but as the feral kicked back, snarling, spitting and growling for full control, she too screamed her frustration. She pushed, with all the capacity she could, into shunning her beast. Her eyes flickered; body pausing in its self-mutilation as her brilliant blues met Brett.
“There you are,” Brett took a cautionary step forward, “Titania, is that you?”
“Of course, it is, who else would it be?” Her eyes flashed again and she sent out a warning growl, “Don’t come any closer...I don’t know...urgh... how much longer I can hold...” She said, attempting to deflect the desperation that she knew was obvious.
“You’ve got a hold of it, now keep pushing.”
Brett’s gentle tone washed over her like a crashing wave to shore. It brought nothing but promises and hope. Something Titania hadn’t experienced in what felt like eons.
Titania could feel the instability burn once again, so casting a frantic glance back to an approaching Brett she cursed, “F-f-fuck sake Brett, listen to me for once and stay back.”
The feral forced her sexual assault, emotional manipulation, and abandonment by her family and bondmates to the forefront, hoping that it could coerce her back to the bliss of ignorance. It did as her eyes flashed black to blue and back to black again.
“I will, once you show to yourself, and to others, that you’re trying to manage this. You can’t keep going on how you are, ignoring it and pretending to go back to normal when you’re clearly fucking not. You’re killing yourself Titania and I’m not letting you go on like this...”
A small tear collected in her eyes before she scrunched her face, all traces of it gone. She hugged herself tighter as the rawness of her emotions that she’d hidden away in their own locked basement began to emerge. Feelings of misery, anxiety, worthlessness and even a small glimmer of prospect of a future -one filled with laughing smiling faces- tore through her and for once, she grasped onto them as they blinked through her head. Fulfilment was what she needed and simply existing was not enough. Not in the slightest. Titania wanted and deserved more.
One drop hit the ground. Followed by another as tears streamed down her face. Her body stopped shaking as her fingers dug themselves painfully into the grass, rather than her own skin. Brett could see, as much as it hurt to watch, that Titania’s realisation was real. With a bloodied hand, he steadily reached for her, his heart physically beating against his ribs at the devastation painted on her face. However, he was heartily surprised when a smile lit up her mouth despite the sadness present within her glazed eyes.
“Mental strength is just as important as the physical. I hope you can see that.” His hand rested on top of hers as he crouched on the ground in front of her. “I knew you always had it in you.”
“Yeah I can.” She wiped the tears from her face, instead smearing mud over her cheeks. “Thank-you.”
“No, thank-you Tani,” She raised an eyebrow at the nickname as he continued, “You’ve made me realise many things over the years and without you, well... let’s just say I’d have a lot more problems in the pack.”
A barely there blush topped her nose at the compliment, and she let it in. Accepted it and the warmth it brought. The bond fluttered and Titania had to hold back a moan. Was this what the bond had always felt like? She thought as amazement took centre stage. Brett sensed her embarrassment and chuckled a deep throaty sound that reminded Titania of the bears that once occupied Scotland’s forests.
He bent his neck in submission as he kept her eyes. “I never wanted Duskfall, just for you to start taking care of yourself you stubborn woman.”
Titania did well to conceal the desperation of the feral that shrieked its desire to sink its teeth into Brett’s neck and shred it, eliminating their competition. But all Brett saw was the darkness encased on the outer ring of her iris, but it disappeared as if a trick of the light, or so he thought.
She scowled at his jesting, “I’m the stubborn one? Get off your high horse and look in a mirror. And next time at least try to give me a decent fight, we both know I would’ve got your submission one way or another.”
A flash of canines was all she received as he grumbled, offering her a hand up from the ground. “Unfair, you didn’t have the bond holding you back. It’s an even fight now.” He winked and she responded with a fist to his side, unforgiving at the death stare that now had Brett’s features twisted.
“We’re more likely to spar again rather than... get involved. So quit teasing me with pet names.”
They dusted themselves off and Titania could feel the feral burn once again and knew she needed a sweaty gym session or a wild run. Brett lead them forward and she searched his face for his reaction to her words.
At her admission Brett’s expression softened. “I expected as much but don’t worry, I know you’ve got a lot to focus on now rather than us and I did say that it’s all your decision- which it is.” She nodded, content that he respected her consent.
“Don’t get your hopes up, there’s not much left of me that’s salvageable.”
He grunted in disagreement as the bond demanded he comfort her. Instead he pushed the need down, knowing that Titania needed time and space to process everything.
“Promise me one thing...”
The quizzical tilt to her eyebrow gave him permission to continue his request, but her eyes conveyed their dismissal of empty words that were promises. Her past had showed her that promises meant pain, but pushing her usual thoughts back she kept an open mind.
“You’ll work on yourself and your wolf...”
The sentence hung loose as the seconds ticked by. Titania considered the proposal and for the first time since her last bondmate, she made a promise.
Exciting times ahead as we prepare for the ending of “A Sin of Her Own” !! Sequel will be coming shortly as I iron out all the details! Any feedback/insightful comments are welcome, it helps me develop my characters realistically - hard to do in a fantasy/paranormal setting sometimes :’)
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