“I told you what we are. I don’t want to repeat myself.”
He gives me a dumbfounded look that is mixed with hurt and sadness.
“Why did you not tell me this? I’m your brother, we tell each other things. At least, we’re supposed to.” He says, shaking his head in disbelief.
I shrug my shoulders and avoid staring at him. “I didn’t know how to tell you. I…I never wanted a mate until I met now. I spent so long trying to pretend everything was fine which didn’t go well at all. I now have to convince her I want her.”
Arden blows out a breath and runs a hand through his hair. He mulls over my words, processing them. I finally told him that Lily is my mate, after so long. I came to the realisation I needed my brother’s help. I couldn’t win Lily without him. I've made too much of a mess.
When we were younger, Arden and I made a pact. We would come to each other the second we found our mates. He found his so young and told me instantly. But after meeting Talia, my idea of mates changed. When I met Lily, I couldn’t tell him. Arden had no idea I didn’t want a mate. He would never have seen it the way I saw it. He would never have understood. He would have hassled me constantly; would have scolded me every time I hurt Lily.
But things have changed now. I want Lily, I want her badly. The more time we spend together, the closer we get. Every morning, I wake up, looking forward to seeing her. I want Arden to know about Lily. I want everyone to know. I’m proud that she’s my mate.
“I can’t believe it,” Arden admits, taking a seat at his desk. He stares at me for a while, trying to work out why I never told him before. He’s looking at me like I’m a different person—like I’m not his brother, his Beta. “You treated her so badly, Arlo. You cheated on her, you bullied her, you…”
“Okay, I never cheated on her,” I step in, wanting to clarify things with him. I never cheated on Lily, my wolf wouldn't have let me do that. “I said I was with girls to make her think I didn’t want her. The mate bond was taking effect and…I didn’t know what to do. I wanted her to think I didn’t want to be with her. I never slept with anyone once I met her. I couldn’t.”
I wanted Lily to be hurt so that she would think twice about wanting me. I wanted her to perceive me as a player because no one trusts a player. I now realize what a fool I was—I know how wrong it is. I plan on telling Lily the truth on our date tomorrow.
“And I know I said some horrible things to Lily. I regret every single word. I haven’t treated my mate right at all. I know. God, I know. I plan on changing that though. I want to treat her like a Queen. I want to shower her with gifts and lo—I want to show her I’m a good guy.” I add.
Arden gives me a knowing look, not missing how I nearly said the big ‘L’ word. Thankfully, he doesn’t press on it further.
“Why are you telling me now?” Arden asks me, peering up at me with his familiar brown eyes.
Sighing, I lean forward on the couch. “I finally came to my senses. I finally realized I wanted a mate. But I’ve made a mess of things—I need your help. I need you to help me fix things.”
Arden stands up from his seat and makes his way over to me. He crouches before me and stares into my eyes.
“Of course, I will help you, man.”
I sigh in relief and surprise him by wrapping my arms around him. He doesn’t deny my hug though.
“Thanks, brother. I would be lost without you,” I tell him, honestly.
He nods his head as if what I just said was the most obvious piece of information ever. “I know, Now, what are you planning to do?”
I proceed to tell him everything from my date with her to how I’m going to ask her to the school dance.
When I finish, Arden gives me an impressed look. “I must admit brother, I never expected you to do something like this for a girl. I’m proud of you.”
Arden has always been the romantic one in the family. I don’t have a romantic bone in my body yet I somehow managed to pull something together for Lily. I owe her that much.
A knock at the door interrupts our discussion. With a heavy sigh, Arden says, ‘come in’ and strolls over to his desk. Cabe and our head warrior, Paxton, enter the room. I have a strong dislike for Paxton ever since he flirted with Lily in front of me. Sure, he had no idea what she meant to me, but he could see there was something going on between us. He’s always hated me, for some odd reason. I think it's because the girl he's liked has always had her eyes on me.
I throw him a glare, one that he returns icily.
“Alpha, we have a problem,” Cabe announces, completely ignoring me and Paxton. My attention immediately changes, and my focus goes on Cabe. “For the past few months, Kacey Aaron has been an informant.”
I do a double-take, not quite believing the words I’m hearing.
My mind blanks when they drag a yelling Kacey into the room. Arden and her exchange a few words, whilst the other two remain still, sporting emotionless expressions.
Why on earth would Kacey be an informant?
“Your uncle paid me to do it!” Kacey retorts, angrily. I throw Arden a confused look, my gaze questioning. Despite the fact I blanked the first half of the conversation, I can tell I didn’t miss much. Arden looks furious and puzzled.
Our uncle, the former Beta of our pack, is a good man. He wouldn’t do something like that behind our back…right?
“And why on earth would he do that? He knows what’s going on in this pack.” Arden replies, his tone reflecting his disbelief.
Kacey sighs and rolls her brown eyes. She crosses her arms over her chest sassily and answers Arden’s question cockily. “Well, why would I know? I just did what I was told.”
Arden’s face contorts into one of rage. His nostrils flare and his brown eyes narrow on her small form. I stiffen my body and remain silent. Arden doesn't get angry easily.
“Kacey, you need to start answering with more respect otherwise you’ll be spending the next week in the dungeons.” Arden threatens in a deep, steady voice. His voice is promising and certain.
For a moment, Kacey’s confident exterior falters. But she quickly fixes it and keeps herself strong. I hate to admit it, but I admire her for that. Most people would crumble by now, but she doesn’t. In another life, I might have liked her as a person. However, in this life, I cannot. She nearly told my mate about our existence. Whilst I do want Lily to know about us, I want to be the one to tell her. Kacey only tried to tell her for her own benefit. She wanted to cause chaos.
Kacey is hateful. You can see it in the depths of her eyes. She is hurt, more than anyone can imagine. Her mate passed away a few years ago. She met him when she was fourteen—when she was in a different pack. But a year later, he died in a rogue attack. Kacey’s parents packed her up and shipped her off here, hoping this school would heal her. She joined our pack last year, to her dismay. Ever since she lost her mate, she has been hateful about everything in life. She is silent yet cunning. She acts innocent and kind but in reality, she’s the opposite. She will do anything to ruin others’ lives—to make them feel the pain she’s feeling.
“Your uncle wanted to make sure the pack was running smoothly. Whilst he trusts you, he is doubtful. In his eyes, you are still too young to rule this pack alone.”
Arden glances at me. Do you think she’s telling the truth? He asks me through the mind link.
Internally, I shake my head. No, she’s still hiding something. I think that’s half of the truth.
Arden clenches his jaw but nods his head. She’s not going to reveal any more. She’s loyal.
I know. We should let her think we believe her and let her continue what she’s doing. We can keep a close eye on her.
Arden looks sceptical. I don’t want her telling our uncle information that can affect the pack.
I agree but we can be careful with what we give out.
That seems to get Arden. He wants to know what our uncle is hiding too. It’s strange to think our uncle, the man we grew up with, could have ill intentions. He has always put the pack before himself so why would he betray it?
A part of me hopes we are wrong, and Kacey is telling the truth. But I’m not blind. I can see the glint in her eyes. It is only confirmed that I’m right when Arden lets her go. Her eyes shine in relief for a second and the corners of her lips quirk upwards.
When she’s gone, Arden whirls around on the spot and punches the wall behind him.
“Paxton and Cabe, I want you to keep a close eye on her. I want a report on what she does every single day. Understood?” He orders with authority.
They both nod their heads and leave the room.
“You were right brother, she’s hiding something,” Arden says, reluctantly. “But why would uncle do something like this? I don’t understand.”
I shake my head and release a tired breath. “I don’t know but we will find out.”
That very evening, I found Lily in the common room with Talia, busy planning the school dance. She lifts her head up to me the minute I walk into the room. Even though she doesn’t know it, her body reacts to me. She leans in closer and focuses solely on me. She wants me—even if she denies it.
“Hi, Arlo,” Talia greets me, with a knowing look in her eyes. She turns to Lily, a sly smirk on her face. “I just realized I have English work to do. I’ll see you later.”
Before Lily can utter a protest, Talia is up and out.
Lily drags her eyes back to me and sends me a small smile. A smile that has my stomach clenching and my heart hammering. If only she knew what she does to me.
“Hi,” She whispers, tucking a strand of her silky golden hair behind her ear. My fingers itch to touch it, to run my hands through her hair.
I instantly reply to her whilst walking over to the couch. A few other pack members linger in the room, minding their own business.
“How’s the planning going?” I ask her, not entirely interested in that. I just want to hear her talk. I never knew how much I would crave to hear her soft voice.
She smiles and places the piece of paper she was holding on the table. “It’s going really well. We have so many ideas for the dance. It’s going to be great.”
I watch her fondly, a million thoughts racing in my head. If only I had the guts to tell her everything, I think about her in person. Lily deserves to be told how amazing, beautiful and special she is. She deserves that one in a million guy. I’m not that. But I’m too selfish to let her go now. I have to have her.
“It will be great,” I promise, gazing into her sparkling sapphire eyes. The eyes I could get lost in forever.
Her smile widens and if it’s possible, her eyes glow. In fact, everything about her glows at that moment. I begin to wonder how on earth I never saw her like this before. Why was I such an idiot? How could I even think about rejecting her? I must be insane.
“I hope so, I haven’t been to a school dance in a long time.” She says, quietly. She stares off into the distance, deep in thought. “I must admit, I’m a bit nervous about it.”
I can’t help but ask, “Why?”
She sighs and flickers her beautiful eyes to me. “I don’t know. I guess it’s because I was in a different school, at a different time, when things were different. When I was different.”
I am beginning to wonder what happened to Lily. She doesn’t’ talk about her life before this school a lot. There’s also tension between her and her sister. Whenever I look into Lily’s eyes, I see raw anguish. It makes me curious—what happened to Lily?
I desperately want to ask her what happened, but I know our bond isn’t strong enough yet. She won’t open up to me yet. Hell, she might deny me the knowledge forever.
So, instead of asking her, I rack up the courage to ask her what I wanted to know all along. “Lily, do you have a date for the dance?”
Lily’s sharp eyes regard me for a moment. Her heavy gaze makes me feel unsettled.
Eventually, she drags her eyes away, focusing on the crackling fireplace in front of us. My worries and doubts begin to circle in my mind, telling me I’m a fool for asking her. How can this beautiful and special girl forgive me? How can she just forget about my rejections? The answer is simple. She can’t. And rightly so. I hurt her. I don’t deserve the honour of taking her to the school dance.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t hope.
“I—” She splutters out, sounding as if her voice is clogged in her throat. The emotional turmoil she must be having right now is alarming. On the one hand, there’s the mate bond, pushing our relationship. Whilst the mate bond amplifies things like our attractiveness towards each other and want, it doesn’t force us to love each other. That is something we have to do ourselves. But on the other side, there’s the human side of her. Lily doesn’t know what mates is. Most humans would move on after a rejection. They would class their feelings as a crush and be done with it.
I’m so deep in my thoughts, that I don’t hear Lily’s next words.
Tuning back into reality, I give her my full, undivided attention. “Sorry, what did you say?”
“I said if I was to forgive you, I would need to take things very slowly.” She repeats, quietly. I have to do a double-take and pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. When I realize I’m not dreaming or hallucinating, my heart soars. “You hurt me, Arlo. You really did. Things won’t change overnight.”
“I know, believe me, I know.” I cut in, inching closer to her. Hesitantly, I take her hands in mine and caress her soft skin. The jolts of electricity I feel is amazing. “And I know I have to prove to you that I’m serious. We can do this slowly, at your own pace.”
Her eyes soften at my words. She pinches her lips together and mulls over my words for a few minutes.
“Okay,” She blurts out two minutes later. “We can work on a…relationship but it has to be on my own terms.”
I agree straight away, over the moon that she is willing to work on this.
“Also, you never answered my question.”
Lily’s eyes shine with confusion. “What question?”
I flash her a smile and command her eyes to stare into my own. “Lily, will you go to the school dance with me?”
She sucks in a breath and nods her head, happily. “Yes, I will.”
Okay, this is a short chapter. Sorry about that. Also, I know a few of you don’t like the fact Lily is letting Arlo in this early on. I get that. But it all leads to something bigger. You’ll all see what I mean soon.
Amway, thank you for reading! I love the comments and reviews I’m getting. Keep them coming!
My next update will either be Thursday or Saturday.