My father pulled back then leaned forward elbows resting on his jittery bent knees a crown of a frown sat on his forehead as he continued his staring. I wasn’t in the crowd, In fact, I was nowhere near any of my family but I could hear his disappointed sigh from the front row and it was obvious he could see it finally.
I wasn’t the son he wished to raise.
I stood a liar, a sinner, a coward, a heartless impostor wearing his son’s skin and the realization made me break out in heaves when I saw him shift in his seat, get up and leave. Every fiber in my being wanted to cry after him but instead I found the strength in me to push myself after him without any tears. “I know you never loved me, but could you at least say something?” I yelled at his back.
I was officially going rogue; that meant this was the last time I’d get to face any of them but where I hoped to get an answer he paced faster away from me.
And I pushed further “Dad, Once the gods connect I will be cut from the pack...that’s it! Before I go I just need you to say something to me. Anything! Be disappointed, tell me I’ve let you down, and tell me you wish I was more like Malia and could definitely never be anything like Mateo!!!”
The room, shook with a pristinely angered silence and the Council board that was in conversation with Brady paid some attention to us but they did not intervene.
Suddenly I was knocked back by a strong growl from my father, in it I sensed pain and love, it didn’t make the fear any less threatening also my wolf was truly alive and back, “Don’t you get it?” his eyes were fierce but dry but they were tormented.
They looked glassy with worry, lack of sleep and fear. It was a look I’d never before seen on my father. “Son, I love you I don’t think I ever told you that but I love you. Always will and I did my part in raising you but me, you and everyone here.” He extended his arms out as if to showcase all the were-people and witches inside before he continued “We are all products of our circumstances and especially of the choices we make. It is unfortunate yours led you here but it happened, make peace with it, fighting it only hurts you.”
Then he turned his back and he left.
Malia had her sobbing face buried in her Fiancé’s, guilt buried itself in me I was going to miss their wedding. Mateo’s wife was holding hands with my mother, visibly holding back tears for the crumbling woman I’d made a shell of. I was going to miss out on being an Uncle and I couldn’t meet gazes with my mother or my favorite brother.
It hurt too much.
The Oracle arose on her feet with clear eyes and said nothing.
“Well?” my father’s replacement on the councilmen board asked.
“Both their wolves will be weakened for seventy-two hours.”
“That’s all?” someone from the council asked, and I understood the meaning behind his question. Going rogue was the pack’s gods blessed punishment to me-now the gods were supposed to give me theirs-just like Danielle had had her worldly talent taken away, and Hannez was going to be made a madman-I was supposed to get something, except it seemed I was getting off scot-free.
She nodded, her clear gaze on me, hands still clasped together in what seemed to be anticipation...but for what?
“Come with us,” Jenna extended her arm out for me to take.
Mateo urged me with reason “It’s best you go with her, you’re now a rogue with no lifeline, and you can never fit in or depend on humans. Life will be harder for you, you’ll die out there if you go rogue, and you know this.” he said.
And I did.
The survival rate for rogues was almost none, them kicking me out was just as good as beheading me, I was safer with the witches, alive with Jenna at least her wolf side would be kind to me and her witch side would pacify her....clan?
I peered at Jenna her hand was still stretched out for me to take.
I raked the crowd; Brady was walking away, his Betas in tow.
The pack chattered waiting for me to make a choice.
I neared toward the witch, toward life but something in my chest clenched tightly, so painfully hard against my soul it gave me the courage to leave.
“I’m sorry,” I told her, climbing down the Dias running after him.
She held onto my elbow and smugged down at me as if she held all the cards that I didn’t as if that made all the difference and perhaps she did “You exercised your bond, didn’t you? Tsk see I smelt his mark on you, but I promise you it swerved nothing the bond is already broken now you have nothing binding you to anyone or anything. You’re free.”
I chanced a look, at Brady’s retreating form, god the man was ...my everything life included.
“I’m sorry” It was more than a croak but I internally rewarded myself with a pat on the back for managing to not let it show that I’d clumped over my own voice and words for I wasn’t sure what I was doing or what it would mean and what of the people about to watch me make a fool of myself once again.
He was much further than I was and there was a whole strong army of loyal soldiers blocking me from reaching him, my heart palpitated, thrummed against my chest deeper, faster and I felt the nerves in my entire body strain with frustration.
“This is a onetime offer, Malik, take one more step away from me and it expires!” her voice was hard with demand and poison.
There wasn’t even a shred of doubt or humiliation in me although I am aware there should have been considering the noise erupting from the crowd. I even heard someone sneer ”The phuck he back for now.” Someone snaked back “What a disgrace tsk tsk tsk.”
“Brady” I choked a cry
Tears streaked down my face, and I gave another attempt at calling for him when he was rounding up the corner.
“Brady!” I wailed “please” tears were springing and running a fall from my eyes, hair sprout on my arms and I could feel my ears ringing as loud as I could hear the blood in my veins rushing, It felt a lot like my first shift
He walked ahead without even looking back, the commotion from the crowd was getting rowdier and Tyler looked back, through the fog of tears I met gazes with him and I tried to point at Brady but the soldiers had my flailing arms and chest in a tight grip.
I fell to the ground, feeling completely useless and it was then I registered the dying noise from the crowd.
“Don’t shift” Brady commanded I looked up and saw Brady stood at the corner his icy blue eyes fixed on me and my wolf tensed for a second at the compelling Alpha tone. Sweat drenched my shirt as my wolf was fighting through the defying mechanics of my biology, which was to obey my Alpha who wasn’t my Alpha any longer.
I was up on my feet in record time, yet my wolf was fighting my being from inside.
It had been a while since I’d last turned and now that I was turning involuntarily against an order from a blueblood I didn’t belong to by bond nor sire it hurt and it was starting to get bloody. Blood ran from my nail beds before the turning stopped, somehow even through the confusion my wolf could still take orders from him, which was odd.
“What do you want?” despite the startling question, his tone was anything but mean spirited.
“You” I croaked
He sighed and rubbed at his eyes “I don’t have time for this.” He said walking away.
I gripped his elbow “I know I’m a mess, I’m far from ideal but...” I grabbed fistfuls of his shirt and tilted my head upwards to draw his lips into a kiss. They were relieving but cold against mine, I felt his body grow rigid and mine grew tense with nerves when I didn’t feel him respond. My wolf wanted to whine and I repressed the needy exhale of that emotion lest I proved just how needy and selfish I was.
I moved my lips on his, allowing him time to respond in case he wasn’t because I had surprised him.
When I was just about to pull away I felt his cold hand on the back of my neck drawing me back for a kiss. The other rested itself possessively on my waist, I exhaled with relief into his warm mouth, the kiss was slow, round, reciprocated, it couldn’t be more perfect.
My jittery hands grabbed his shirt and they found themselves wrapped around his broad shoulders.
Desperation encouraged tears to streak down my face and Brady lifted one of his hands from where they had dropped on my waist to wipe away the tears away.
I stood on my toes, head buried in the crook of his neck before I pulled away to face him “Brady I know we broke the bond and everything, and I know you could find someone else, someone better than me by yesterday but if you could please give me another chance with you. You don’t even have to claim me...just please...please...I’m sorry and I love you.”
Jenna cast a poisonous voice “Oracle tell this boy what he’s trying to achieve is futile, the bond is no more.”
We both turned to face the Oracle.
Jenna cast us a condescending gaze as the Oracle explained “Contrary to what some of you may think, the gods aren’t fools, they connected their souls for a reason and I hope this lives to serve a lesson. The truth resides in their hearts, bond or not there is a connection regardless and now if they choose to be together then...” her voice grew gravel like mortar “...Malik will be punished for ridiculing the gods.”
“How?” Brady asked.
“He’ll be stripped off his wolf.”
“So he’ll be human.”
“Yes and he’ll get the average lifespan of a human.” She replied
“Except mating between humans and werewolves is forbidden isn’t that right?” Evan asked
“There are some special cases.” Sir Isaac the pack head doctor replied.
Brady’s father tilted his head to the left a neutral expression sitting on his face. He turned away from me and gazed behind me at his son “You need to make a final decision Son-and before you do keep in mind your decision affect your future and the pack’s future once you get coroneted.”
I didn’t feel too good; obviously many would agree I wasn’t good for Brady.
Surprisingly Mateo stood and spoke even though I could see it in his eyes that he was hesitant in expressing his concern “Malik are you aware of what it exactly you’re asking for?”
All the events over the years and past months rippled through my vision shutting my view from reality, I dared to lift my eyes to meet with Brady’s blues through the hazy scene a haunting icicle cut in my gut. I was sure I could live without the wolf in me, a human’s lifespan was better than nothing in my book. But Brady...the pack..all of them versus me.
I didn’t stand a chance in hell.
The Alpha repeated his question this time louder with rumbling force “Son make a choice.”