“What have you done?” Came the strangled voice of my father, a look of horror struck across his face. His wide fearful eyes couldn’t leave my cowering four-year-old frame while my mother towered over me. “She ruined our lives!” Came her venomous response.
“He found her! He found his mate.” She mumbles, getting ready to launch another kick. Before the blow to my side can land, my dad snaps out of his trance and launches himself at my mom, picking her up by the waist to pull her away.She kicks and screams, trying to get out of his grasp. “Let me down, she needs to pay!” She growls, trying to grab at me. “She’s our daughter!” He shoves her away, moving to stand above me. “She is the reason we had to go rogue. She’s the reason we have to degrade ourselves at the Davidson pack to survive.”
I can’t even remember how her anger had started this time. All I can remember is her coming home from work in a rage and then she hit me for the first time. Sure, I was already used to her anger towards me, but I never thought she’d hit me. I was just glad my father was here to stop her from doing any more damage.
“You’ve hit our daughter.” He scoffs, disbelief in his tone. Shaking his head in disappointment, he turns around and picks me up from the ground. With me hanging off his hip, he checks my injuries. Sadness shines behind his light blue eyes as he looks at my bruised eye and split lip. “She’s bleeding, Lilith.” His voice is barely above a whisper as he tucks my head into his neck and looks towards my mother.
Hatred and disgust are still spread across her face as she stares at me. “I’ve let your remarks and comments towards her slide, but you’ve gone toofar! You’ve hit our daughter, Lilith.” His voice breaks as he stares from me to his mate.“I’m leaving with Celeste. You need to think about who you are because you’re not the same girl I met five years ago.” My mom’s eyes widen at his words, completely forgetting about me. “You can’t, Dean. We’re mates.” She tries to reason with him, grabbing onto his arm when he makes his way to the front door.
“No, she’s ruining everything again.” She whispers to herself, clutching chunks of her hair. It happens so fast, I don’t even have time to warn my dad.Right when he turns his back on her, her sadness shifts to anger. Her eyes start bleeding to black with a red ring and nails shifting to claws. How did she do that? She’s human. “You’re my mate, you can’t leave me.” Her voice going dangerously low causing my dad to stop in his steps and stiffen.
In the blink of an eye she’s in front of us. My father falls to the floor, pushing me away from my angry mother in the process. “Hide.” That’s the last thing he said to me before a horrible scream bubbled out of his mouth.His body was tense, and his jaw was clenched as he struggles to breath. “Dad!” I try to make my way to him when I’m knocked down and black spots blur my vision. “You brought this on him.” And then the darkness consumed me.
The next day I woke up on the floor in the same spot as last night. My dad was on the couch with an emotionless face, my mom was nowhere in sight. “Daddy?” I squeak out before stumbling towards him. I stood in front of him, trying to catch his attention but he wouldn’t look at me or talk to me. It’s like I was non-existent. “Dad.” I cried and begged for him to answer, to take me away, but he just stood up and left. The last words I ever heard from him being for me to hide. “Dad!”
“Dad!” I jolt up with a shriek leaving my lips. Sweat covers my body as I pant, trying to even out my breathing. Once my breathing is fixed and the memories of my dream drift away, I realize where I am—in the woods. Taking in my surroundings I see a little shelter built out of sticks, leaves, and trees. “What happened?” I mumble to myself while popping my stiff joints.“You forced a shift.”
I almost jump at the foreign voice. It feels like forever since I heard her.“Cat?” I asked skeptical.“Don’t worry, C. You’ll remember soon.” With that she shuts me out, leaving me in my thoughts to think about the past few days.“Weeks, Celeste. It’s been weeks.” She corrects me and I roll my eyes. “Stupid wolf always correcting me.” I grumble while pulling myself up off the ground.
“Wait a second,” I halt my steps not even two feet from my little shelter. “Weeks?” Then everything hits, the memory of how I escaped, begged Austin for Cat back, and forced a shift.“How many weeks Cat?” I ask slowly, prepared for the worst.“Almost three.”
“Three weeks? Cat, you almost gave me a heart attack thinking it was months.”
“Sorry for the confusion, but it’s time for you to go back to our mate.”And with that she cut out our link. With a huff I pop my neck and start walking. I’m not even sure where I’m going but my gut is telling me to go south, so that’s what I do.
After nearly an hour of walking, I hit a lake. A beautiful lake with clear water surrounded by trees and mountains. The lake sparkles as the sun beats down on it and fish dance around underneath the water. The forest floor covered in different colored leaves from the autumn air blowing them off the trees.
“Go to the tree on your right. There’s a hole with a little baggy inside.”Following Cat’s instructions to the tree, I find a little black make-up bag with a toothbrush, tooth paste, soap, and all the other bathroom essentials that are needed.“Why’d you put this here when the pack house is not that far away?”
“This was just for when I was done with catching dinner and didn’t want to go back looking like Carrie from the prom scene.”I laugh lightly at her little joke before using the toothbrush. Zipping the little bag up, I open up a new link with Cat.“Where’s a towel and change of clothes? I want to clean myself.” I finish my statement up with a scrunch of my nose, the slightly sweaty stench hitting my senses.
“Up in the tree there’s a duffel bag.”Sure enough, the bag was up on one of the taller limbs.“Thanks Cat.” I say happily as I go behind a tree and strip before diving into the semi warm water. Going under, I wash my body and hair before swimming around to calm my tense nerves; singing one of my favorite songs.
“Wise men say
Only fools rush in
But I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin?
If I can’t help falling in love with you?
Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Somethings are meant to be
Take my hand
Take my whole life, too
For I can’t help falling in love with you”
“You have a beautiful voice.” A shriek escapes me as I fall back under water before popping my head up again. “What are you doing here?” I call out to the green-eyed man. “I wanted to see if my mate was awake and when I didn’t find you in your little hut, I knew you’d be here.”
“How’d you know I was here?” He grows confused as he walks closer to the edge of the water. “We’ve been talking here nearly every day for the last week, Cat.” I don’t know why, but I grow a little sad when he doesn’t realize it’s me. “I’m not Cat.” I turn around in the water, making my way towards where my clothes are kept. “Celeste? It’s really you?” The joy in his voice has me freezing for a few seconds before I climb out of the water and hide behind a tree to cover myself.
Wrapping myself up in a fluffy towel, I walk back out to face him. “You really didn’t know it was me?” He shakes his head no, looking down at his feet like a little kid who’s about to get a good scolding. “She’s been in your human form for the last two weeks and your voices sound almost exactly alike. I’m sorry, I should’ve noticed.”
He rubs his hands down his face in frustration while letting out a small growl of anger. “It’s fine, we act kind of similar so it’s no biggie.” I give him my best reassuring smile before going back behind the tree and dressing up in black leggings and a t-shirt that seemed to belong to Austin.
“What did you and Cat talk about?” I ask walking back out to see him only a few feet away. “About you.” My hands are clasped behind my back as a groan escapes my lips. “What embarrassing things did she tell you?”
“Nothing, Celeste.” He chuckles while walking forward. “She just threatened to hurt me in multiple ways if I screwed things up with you, no biggie.” He shrugs his shoulders with a small smile on his face. “Wait, she’s actually giving you a shot? Without asking if I was okay with that?”
“What are you talking about, you don’t want to be my mate?” Hurt is clear on his face as he tries to hold onto my arms, but I move away from his hands. “No! It’s just,” I run my hand through my tangled hair only for it to get stuck half way. “I don’t want a mate at all.”
“I can’t have a mate, I’m not supposed to have one.” I turn away from him and try to walk away, but he grabs hold of my elbow gently to stop me. “The goddess gave me you and you me. If you weren’t supposed to have a mate, then you’d have been born with the mark of a mate less wolf.” He speaks lightly while he makes me turn to look at him.
“Why in the world would you believe you can’t have one?” He bends down so that we are looking eye to eye. “Because I’m supposed to die alone as a mate less wolf. I’m not supposed to be a pack wolf with other people to rely on. I’m a rogue who has always depended on just me and I like it like that.”
“You are my mate, Celeste. We are supposed to get married, have pups, and grow old together. We’re going to spend the rest of our lives together.” He holds onto the sides of my face, the pad of his thumb rubbing gently against my cheek.
Fear strikes my heart at the mention of children. “I-I can’t, Austin. I’m not made for a family or pups.” I hold onto his wrists as I try to push his hands away, but his grip remains firm and gentle. “Why not? Just imagine a little girl with your beautiful eyes and your button nose. Or a little boy, a little mini me to annoy the hell out of you with me—or both. Our son would do everything to protect his little sister and we’ll be there to scare off all the boys that are after her because with you as her mother, she’ll have boys busting down the door just to be with her.” His eyes fog over with un-shed tears when my head shakes slightly. “I can’t Austin. I told you I’m not meant for a family.”
“Why not?” He tries to yell but his voice breaks. “We’re mate’s, Celeste. Why can’t you be with me?”
“How could I be a mother and a Luna after all I’ve done? After how my mother acted? I couldn’t risk the chance of me turning into her.” He scoffs at my statement. “You’ve done nothing wrong, Celeste. All you’ve done is rid the world of the filth that covers it. And as for you hurting your own child, you could never. Cat has told me exactly how you’ve treated the pups you’ve come across. There isn’t a mean bone in your body when it comes to children.”
“You don’t know anything about me Austin.” The words come out so quiet that for a second, I think he didn’t hear them, but those thoughts vanish when I hear his next words. “For the last two weeks I have spent all of my time with Cat learning about you and her. I’ve learned every detail about you that I could.” He pauses for a brief second, thinking about how to word his next sentence.
“I know you are kind and adventurous with dreams of traveling the world. Which you completed by going to Russia, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and even England.” I’m confused as I stare up at him. Why would Cat spill my secrets like this? “That’s where you met Cal. I know you’ve killed, and you hate it. I know your favorites to nearly everything.” A light chuckle escapes his lips as he speaks.
“I know about Hoshi, about how every time you met an animal while camping out for shelter, you’d name it after him. I know absolutely everything there is to know about you besides the things you keep private, the things not even Cat was willing to share. But I still know enough to tell you that I know I love you.”
By the end of his speech my back is against a tree with his chest pinning me there. A shocked gasp escapes my lips as the last three words leave his mouth and I look up towards his face. His face set in stone with how serious he is. Before I can even respond to him, he presses his lips onto mine, tingles spreading like fire across my skin and lips.