Dinner couldn’t have come at a worse time, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who that.
After I got myself back together from the breakdown in the toilet, I went to the Dinning Hall. Rafe sat at the head of the long table, Eve next to him, and both of them had murderous expressions. They seemed to be on the brink of ripping each other’s clothes, with which I wasn’t surprised; they hadn’t been mated for long, and with their history, the Mating Season was a trying time for both of them, if anything I’d seen the last Season was to be believed. With them sat Gabe, who looked pretty calm, and next to him sat a female werewolf I didn’t recognize. She was probably his Season’s fuck, which made me feel relieved because it meant he moved on from at last. Next to them there sat Zavier with a squeeze of his own, and right next to his squeeze was my seat. Shade next on its other side.
Everyone was in attendance; the Millennium Wolves, Claire and Miles. The Redways weren’t here yet.
I nodded stoically to everyone in greeting and took my seat between Zavier’s fling to Shade. I hoped no one noticed my splotchy nose and bloodshot eyes; I tried to cover them well with make-up but I couldn’t be sure it worked. I just really wanted this dinner to be over with.
No one was speaking. The silence in the room was thick, the Season’s air coiling around us, drawing us, wanting us to drown in it. When I looked at Claire, I could see her face was contorted in pain; it was her first Season ever, and it was obvious she had no idea how to handle it. Thankfully, Zachary was next to her, and his hand seemed to be on hers. At least she had her mate to help her through this. I had no one.
Shade was like a statue to my left. The only thing that he moved was his nostrils, for breathing. Aside that, he seemed like he’d frozen and was not going to melt anytime soon. Like that was anything I didn’t fucking know.
When the doors opened, everyone whirled their head to the entrance. Inside walked the people we’d been waiting for. And when everyone saw them, the air seemed to still.
A woman walked in the head of the group. She was tall and slender but despite her elegance, it was evident she was strong. It reeked from her. She had wavy blonde hair, dark brown eyes, and tanned skin. She was pretty, but like a shark was pretty; intriguing yet you knew that if you got close enough, she would get a bite on you. Her body seemed young, but the wrinkles here and there she couldn’t hide in her face, and the few gray hairs on her head, showed she was probably in her fifties.
After her was a man who was only slightly taller than her. He wasn’t as strong as she was, that much I could see from his lanky figure and pale skin, but while he was weaker, I had a sense he wasn’t that much nicer. His hair was blonde and gray, too, yet his eyes were an odd hazel. He was about the same age as the woman. They must be the mated pair, then, Cristiona and Ivan.
Behind them were two identical women, the twins Morrigan and Marceline. I had no idea who was who, and even if they said their names, I wouldn’t have been able to tell them apart; they were both tall, both blonde, both with their mother’s eyes, their father’s pale skin, and both were slender and strong. They also had a similar glint in their eyes that I didn’t trust an inch.
Last came in the seventeen-year-old boy, Gerardo. And he was the biggest shock of all; he was taller than the others, about as tall as Rafe and that said something, because Rafe was tallest man I’d ever encountered. He had hair so black it looked almost blue, skin the color of light mocha, and eyes so brilliantly bright, I couldn’t figure out if they were silver or simply very light blue. He was muscular, yet, because he was still a kid, not as muscular as he could probably get, and the air around him wasn’t just strong; this kid oozed dominance, more than the others. But for some reason his aura seemed restrained. I could tell he was extremely dominant, at least at the level of an average alpha, yet it didn’t feel like it was all he had. I couldn’t put it into the words.
They paused before the table, and the matriarch of the family spoke. “Greetings,” she said, bowing her head to Raphael and Gabriel. “It’s an honor to meet the Alpha of the Millennium and I thank you in the name of my family for inviting us in this very special occasion.”
Her voice was smooth and silky, and it rubbed me the wrong way. Something about this family wasn’t right, and my wolf sat up inside me, growling softly.
Raphael rose from his feet. “You’re welcome,” he said severely, and I could see his eyes on the boy. They were calculative. “I’m assuming you’re Cristiona?”
The woman nodded and motioned to the man. “This is my mate, Ivan,” she said, “and my daughters, Morrigan and Marceline.”
Raphael’s gaze landed on the boy again. “And the boy?”
Cristiona’s face didn’t give away anything when she replied, “My nephew, Gerardo.”
It was such an obvious lie, I was amazed how she could keep a straight face. Yet no one called her on that. It wasn’t the time.
Nodding, Raphael gestured toward the empty seats. “Please join us.”
The family settled down in the seats, and the tensions seemed to be lifted a little. What I didn’t like about the arrangement, however, was that Cristiona and her daughters were sitting directly in front of Shade and me. Shade was still a statue next to me, and when I glanced at him, I saw him looking ahead, as though he didn’t see them.
But he saw them. And I had a sudden bad feeling this dinner was going to end badly. I didn’t like the atmosphere at all.
The first course came by waiters and was eaten in silence. I had my eyes on the twins, because while Cristiona and Ivan bothered me on an integral level, the twins ruffled my fur the wrong way even more because they were so quiet. And when I saw them checking Shade out, I found myself tensing. I hated them on spot.
Shade, on the other hand, was the epitome of calmness. He ate, unconcerned, and kept a neutral vibe around him. I didn’t like that at all. It made me feel even more alert. Despite the earlier events of this evening, I couldn’t let go of at least this just yet. Physically he might not be able to bend to me. But this... this would be the last thing I did for him before I backed off.
I needed to solve at least this mystery.
Everyone waited for someone to break the silence, and someone delivered. “So where are you all from?” Daphne asked. My sister was never good with silence.
Cristiona looked at her, and seemed to recognize her as part of the Millennium Wolves. “We’re originally from the Canada Pack,” she said, and it seemed like she considered every word that came out of her mouth, “but we moved to Mexico Pack soon after my girls turned eighteen.”
Daphne was tactful enough not to ask why they moved. Instead, she said, “It must’ve been very interesting, exploring new packs.”
“It was indeed,” Cristiona replied, and the final ring in her tone made my sister not ask any more questions.
Gabe was right. Forthcoming they were certainly not.
Nobody spoke again until the main course. Halfway into the meal, one of the twins apparently couldn’t hold back anymore from simply staring at Shade and said, “You’re the Gamma, right?”
Shade’s eyes landed on the twin. His jaw locked. “Yes.”
The other twin almost squealed. “You’re so much hotter in real life.”
My hands crawled, my nails piercing my skin. My wolf was now growling deep in my chest. Shade said nothing to that.
Then the first twin turned to Cristiona and said, “Hey, Mother, don’t you think he looks faintly like Wes?”
If Shade was a statue before, it was nothing compared to how tense he now was. Cristiona gave Shade a once over, and something ugly flashed in her eyes. “He looks nothing like him, darling,” she said. She then sent a meaningful look to both her daughters that told me she was onto something.
“Why don’t you come to our room later?” the second twin said, apparently ignoring her mother. “We can show you things you probably haven’t seen before.”
“Marceline,” Cristiona chided without heat, “flirt after dinner, please.”
My wolf was posed to strike. Danger, she told me, they’re reeking of danger. I trusted my instincts, and if my wolf, a healer, deemed someone dangerous, that someone was definitely dangerous. I just waited for the right cue for me to attack.
With the Season fully in session, and the Haze beginning to crawl back into my body, I could settle on violence.
“You’re no fun, Mother,” Marceline said, pouting, then was about to return to Shade when her eyes caught me. Then she sniffed the air. “Oh, that’s interesting,” she said almost giddily, like a child, while she was a very grown up woman in her early thirties. “You’re his mate, aren’t you?”
Soon, I soothed the wolf, forcibly relaxing my muscles, soon.
The other twin, Morrigan, burst out laughing. “This tiny thing cannot possibly be the mate of the Gamma of the Millennium!” she said in pure delight, eyes on me. “Never thought a hot piece of man would be stuck with a barely grown woman – “
She shrieked when she saw me pointing a gun at her.
Everyone stilled, watching me and my gun. Morrigan’s eyes were shocked. Shade was on his feet next to me, but he didn’t do anything else. He simply watched, focused, at the scene. “You say one more thing about me,” I said coolly, “and I’ll blow up your ugly head.”
Cristiona growled. “My daughter was simply mouthing off, young lady,” she said, scoffing, “there’s not reason for you to threaten her life.”
I didn’t take my eyes off Morrigan. “Your daughters are stupid, Mrs Redway,” I said calmly, “trying to make a pass at another woman’s mate.”
“But they shouldn’t be killed upon their stupidity,” Cristiona said, and I knew she was right. Morrigan and Marceline didn’t threaten me like I was threatening them right now. I was creating a friction for so-called no reason.
Glancing to Shade, I saw his gaze on Cristiona, and finally, I could see past his mask. Rage boiled under the calm exterior. An old kind of rage, one that was hone within the years so much that it became sharp as a blade. He loathed the Redways, and he’d been restraining himself not to pounce on them and rip their head off.
A hand landed on my shoulder. “Daisy,” it was Gabriel, “lower the gun.”
It was a direct order from my alpha. He did not want the friction to deepen, not now.
“Listen to him,” Shade murmured darkly, and it was another slap to the face, him not letting me help him. Again.
We had a step forward, and now it was ten steps back. I shouldn’t be surprised. I shouldn’t be hurt. I shouldn’t let it affect me. I’d chosen to give up on him, after all.
But it pushed me to a different edge. And this time, when my wolf growled, I let that growl out, filling the tension in the air, reverberating through my chest.
Something burned inside me. It burned and I felt it licking at my bones. I debated whether to fight it, but it felt so good, so fucking good, that I didn’t even try. Instead, I lowered my gun, bowed my head, and let it engulf me.
It made me shift.
Once I was in wolf form, I felt different. It didn’t feel normal to me. It didn’t feel like I was in my usual wolf form. Something wasn’t right, yet extremely contenting. And I intended to explore it farther.
The burning shot to my feet and I jumped so fast everything around me became a blur. I tackled Morrigan to the ground and her screams filled my ears. The screams were like sweet songs played just for me. Coldness rested on my mind, and I devoted myself completely to my wolf, to the burning, to everything that wasn’t what I truly felt.
My sight turned red and I saw nothing. I only felt.
I felt blood in my mouth.
I felt teeth on my neck.
I felt claws scratching me.
I lost all sense of the world around me, and let the burning fill me up. I didn’t know if I was going rogue or if I was simply on a rampage. But my wolf seemed to know something I didn’t because she worked methodically, listening to our instincts better than the human could. She sensed danger. She wanted this danger gone. The burning was a boost she welcomed for the cause.
And I let her.
I had no idea how much time passed when I was in this state of cold oblivion, but when a huge something pushed me to the ground and tried to pin me, my sight got back and I found myself tackled by an enormous black wolf with golden eyes.
Raphael. He was trying to contain me. But the burning was still in my veins, needing an out, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. So I fought him with my entire might, fought him to get the burning out of my system, and when suddenly the burning evaporated, exhaustion hit me like a smack, and the Alpha of the Millennium pinned me easily to the floor, his teeth on my jugular. There was nothing romantic about that; it was to show who was the dominant here, and that if I fought him farther, I would get seriously hurt, because he would consider it a challenge. And no could ever win against the One True Alpha one-on-one.
Once I was still, unable to rise, Raphael was off me and shifting back to his human form. His eyes, still golden, were furious. “I have no fucking idea what that just was, Daisy,” he growled, “but you should be thankful I didn’t fucking kill you.”
My wolf, now calmer and brimming with justified retribution, made us shift and turn back human. My breathing was heavy, and my body was completely numb. I could feel nothing now.
Raphael’s growl made me cringe. “Heal her,” he barked, “and then make her rest. Tomorrow she will tell us what the fuck just happened.”
After that, he strode off, Eve after him. I then turned my head to the side and saw the dead eyes of Cristiona looking back at me.
Daphne was at my side, mumbling frantically about injuries and bruises and began working her healing magic on me, but I didn’t seem to care. I rose to my elbows and found that not only Cristiona was out. Ivan, Morrigan and Marceline were all there, ripped to parts, pools of blood under each of them.
It was a scene of mayhem. And when I looked down at my own body and saw the blood on myself, both mine and them, the realization of what happened made a bile rise in my throat.
I puked my guts and passed out.