1: The Meeting
“You’re not allowed to do that Harper!” My adorable younger brother, Jackson, screams at me and pouts. I laugh at his cute face and pinch his chubby cheeks, earning a scowl from him. “That’s not funny either.”
I crouch down to my baby brother’s height, “I’m sorry Jackie, could you possibly forgive me?” I ask, jutting out my bottom lip. If there’s one thing I know without a doubt about my brother, it is that he can’t hold a grudge for very long. He is too forgiving. At the age of five, he has no reason to hold a grudge against anyone. Not even his darling sister.
Jackson scowls when I say his nickname. “Don’t call me Jackie!”
I raise my arms up, surrendering. “Alright, alright buddy. I promise I won’t.”
Jackson grumbles something under his breath and then peers at me. His bright blue eyes, the same ones as I have, stare back at me with innocence. I adore my little brother. He is the epitome of innocence. He is kind, caring, and sweet. I dread to think what the world will do to him in the future. In the safety of our pack, he is safe. He is sheltered. But if he decided to go out into the human world or a different pack, he could be corrupted. I despise the thought of my brother seeing the horrors of the world. As his big sister, it is my duty to protect him as much as I can from the world outside. No matter what the cost.
“Fine,” Jackson relents, quietly. “I forgive you.”
I smile widely and lift Jackson into the air, causing him to giggle childishly. A gigantic smile forms on my face at the sound and happiness blossoms throughout my body. I will never tire of his laughter.
“Harper! Jackson!” A voice shouts into the warm air. I turn my head to face my mother, who is grinning at our behavior. “Dinner’s ready!”
I groan internally. Tonight, we are having dinner with the Alpha’s family. My father is the beta of the pack, a title he earned after being friends with the Alpha since childhood. As much as I love Alpha John and Luna Claire, their eldest son, Drake, loves to torment me. Our ‘friendship’ goes back to our diaper days and the days when we shared a bathtub. Throughout my twenty years, Drake has bugged me. If it was small pranks or flirting, he always made me want to strangle him.
“Let’s go, buddy,” I say, lowering Jackson into my arms. Using my werewolf speed and strength, I carry Jackson with me to our house quickly. He giggles the whole time, his eyes sparkling with glee.
As soon as we make it inside the house, Jackson is taken from my hands and is put into my mother’s. She smiles at me and gestures for me to quickly change into something more formal.
Fortunately for me, mom picked out an outfit earlier. So all I have to do is throw it on, along with some make-up.
Five minutes later, I descend the stairs with ease and grace. I always used to be congratulated for my grace and eloquence. Werewolves are naturally precise beings but I have been told I have a certain knack for it. I have a way of being graceful, strong, and precise, according to my dearest mother.
“Harper, you look gorgeous,” my mother compliments me, smiling happily. I smile back and gave her a brief hug. She links her arm with me and starts to walk to our dining room. My small heels clink on the marble floor, echoing throughout the building. She places her gloved white hand on the door nob and opens the creaky, wooden door without hesitation.
The sight of our Alpha John, Luna Claire, and Drake is set before my eyes, who are all seated at the very end of the table. Alpha John sits at the head of the table, with my father beside him on one side and Luna Claire on the other. Drake sits next to his beloved mother, with that mischievous glint in his eyes. A single space is left for my mother and me. I will sit next to Jackson and my mother.
“Ah and here are the rest of the party,” Alpha John says, standing up from his seat. My mother and I both bare our necks, as a sign of respect to our Alpha. Alpha John is forty-four, although he definitely doesn’t look that old. With light brown hair that is accompanied by a few grey hairs and light green eyes, he is what one would call handsome. Drake, my arch-nemesis, shares a lot of these features. His piercing green eyes are the same as his father’s but his hair is blonde, like his mother's. His temper and impatience are something he inherited from his father and his intelligence from his mother. I have yet to know where he got his mischief from though.
“Sorry we’re late Alpha, Harper was preparing herself.” My mother explains.
Alpha John waves a hand, brushing it off. “No need to apologize, you know how I understanding I am. Thanks to Claire.” He sends a pointed look to Claire who grins.
“Oh John,” Claire says, rolling her eyes. She then turns her attention to us. Luna Claire is a sweet lady, who cares deeply for this pack. She met her mate —John—when she was twenty, a year before Alpha John was titled Alpha. She is a nice, kind woman who made splendid muffins. I can always talk to her and she will always listen and give me great advice. “Why are you two standing awkwardly in your own home? Come and sit.”
My father laughs at that, earning a scowl from my mother. After sitting down, Alpha John and my father leap into a discussion about business. Luna Claire and my mother begin to discuss pack events, a subject they enjoy a lot, leaving me to interact with Drake.
“So Harper, how’s Arthur?” Drake asks me, giving me a cocky smirk.
I narrow my eyes at him and clench my jaw. He is doing this on purpose, to wind me up.
“You know how he is Drake,” I spit, emphasizing his name. Drake’s smirk widens at my words and he leans closer to the table.
“You broke it off so soon - why?” He questions further. His green eyes shimmer with burning curiosity. Drake likes to know everything. I guess that is an Alpha thing - wanting to know everything about everyone. Especially things concerning me. I am his top priority.
Glaring at him, I flicker my eyes to the kitchen door. A second later, they open revealing our maid who brings in the food. I mentally thank Grace for bringing the food at that moment. If Drake continued to hound me for answers, I would flip.
The roast dinner, cooked by Grace and my mother, is served and eaten quickly. The room is silent for the most part, with the odd comment on how delicious the food is. My mother, as usual, brushes off the compliments. She is a very modest woman, unlike my father.
“So Michael,” Alpha John addresses my father. “Tomorrow we have an unscheduled guest arriving for business. We are to show him around the pack and show him our business documents.”
My interest peaks at Alpha John’s words and I turn my full attention to their conversation. Everyone - except for little Jackson - does the same as well.
“Who is our visitor?” My dad asks.
Luna Claire and Alpha John share a look for a moment. Whoever it is, it is someone important. That much anyone can tell.
“King Leon,” Luna Claire answers, quietly. The whole room’s temperature drops, along with the chatter. It is completely silent as everyone digests the large news.
King Leon of the werewolves does not leave his territory often. Not many people know why. He keeps to himself mostly and is one hundred percent devoted to his duties as king. For him to leave the castle is rare - very rare indeed.
“Why would King Leon be coming here?” I ask everyone, breaking the silence.
“Because,” Drake cuts in, capturing my attention. “He is looking for his mate.”
I swallow at the word mate as it rang in my head. I haven’t thought about mates in a long time. Every werewolf is blessed with a mate. They are your other half, your life, your one true love. It is something everyone looks forward to - everyone except me. For me, I dread the day I find my mate. I am a free bird, someone who goes alone. A mate will tie me down forever.
King Leon has been king for a number of years now, without a queen. Some fear he isn’t blessed with a mate. For him to have to leave the safety of his castle walls to search for his mate, would mean he is being pressured by the werewolf council. The werewolf council works alongside the king in a way. They create the rules and let the king legalize them. They are the ones who represent the people and often hold meetings where werewolves can demand certain things.
“Has he been to other packs?” My mother questions, glancing at my father and me. She seems nervous by the news - and unsettled.
Alpha John nods his head, “Yes, a few. Obviously, he’s had no luck so far.”
“Well,” my father says, smoothly. “We wish him all the best with finding his new Queen.”
Conversations drift to the next Alpha ceremony where Drake will be handed the title of Alpha from John. When Drake turns twenty-one, he will become the next Alpha of our pack - and since his birthday is next week, he will be made the Alpha then.
At around ten o’clock, I excuse myself from the room and head to my room. With a sigh, I collapse onto my bed.
“You didn’t answer my question,” A voice says, startling me. I jerk upright on my bed and turn to the door. Drake stands there, leaning against my door frame, with his arms crossed over his chest.
“What?” I frown and shuffle along to the edge of my bed.
Drake rolls his eyes, “About Arthur. Why did you break up with him?”
I bite my lip and run a hand through my blonde hair. Arthur? Why was he asking me about him? He never dipped into my love life. “Why do you care so much?”
Drake doesn’t answer at first. He regards me with cool eyes that are set solely on me. After a while, he shrugs his shoulders and uses the door frame to push himself away from it. “Because I do, now answer the question.”
Hearing his demand, I purse my lips together. Drake could never ask me politely, he doesn’t even know what the word polite means. All he does is give an order and expect the outcome within a second thought. No questions, no, please.
“I don’t have to answer you, Drake,” I tell him, with confidence. “It’s none of your business.”
Drake’s face doesn’t falter. He remains calm and stoic. Though, something does flash in his for a second.
“Just answer the question,” he orders.
I lift my chin up defiantly. “No.”
In a flash, Drake is stood directly in front of me. He crouches down to my level and stares at me emotionlessly. His hot breath hits my skin. “You will answer me Harper otherwise I will ask Arthur. I’m sure he’ll be less resistant.”
I glower at him. Oh, I hate him. I really do. “I broke it off because he was cheating on me with Katie. Okay? Happy?” I reply, my tone laced with malice. “That’s the second guy who has done that to me. I don’t know why I continue to date guys, they are all assholes.”
I honestly don’t know why I subject myself to such heartbreak. I’ve had five boyfriends in total, two have cheated on me and the others have ended it because they’ve found their mates. My experiences have led me to want to spend the rest of my life alone - without a mate. I dated these men because I knew the relationship wouldn’t last long - they never do. I like my freedom and they either want sex all of the time or someone to spend time with until they find their mate.
I want someone to keep me company. Because I don’t want to be tied down or spend my life with one person hounding me, I get into relationships I know won’t last long so that I don’t have to be tied down. I know they’ll end so I can leave.
But it still hurts whenever they cheat. The idea that I’m not good enough - even though I don’t care - lingers in my mind.
Drake searches my face and sighs when he finds what he was looking for. “You know that’s not true Harper.”
To my surprise, Drake sits down on my bed, next to me. “Oh, yes it is.”
“What about your mate?” Drake asks me, softly. I nearly do a double-take when he says it in a soft manner. Drake has never sounded so nice to me.
“Mate?” I question and burst into fits of laughter. “I don’t want one. Never will. I’m a free bird - someone who wants to live alone.”
Drake grabs my hand, causing me to snap my head to him. “It doesn’t have to be that way. You can be with me. We can lead this pack together.”
My eyes bug out of their sockets when I register his words. What is he on about?
“What?” I shout, trying to snatch my hand away. “What are you on about?”
Drake peers at me with hopeful, shining eyes. I can’t wrap my head around what is happening right now. Nothing, he just is spewing made sense.
“Harper, I’m telling you I basically love you,” Drake declares. “I have been for a while and I would like to make you my luna.”
I stare at Drake in disbelief. He can’t be serious. And then, I laugh. I start laughing like there is no tomorrow, with tears streaming down my face. This is a joke - a prank.
“Oh my gosh,” I breathe after most of my laughter has subsided. I then clap, praising Drake for his joke. “That was hilarious. You almost had me with that poker face, not gonna lie.”
Drake remains silent. He observes me with irritation which spiked my interest. Normally, Drake would be rolling in triumphant at his success. But not this time.
It is almost like he is serious. Which he can’t be.
“For fuck’s sake Harper, I’m not joking. I love you.” Drake yells, jumping to his feet. “I know you don’t want a mate because you want to choose and so I’m letting you do that. Choose me.”
Holy shit, he isn’t kidding. That’s all that circles around in my head. Drake...loves me? But how? He always shows his dislike for me, by messing with me. I always thought he just liked to tease me because it was funny to him to wind me up.
“Drake,” I choke out, slowly standing up. This is shocking. Unbelievable. How on earth did we get in this situation? “I - I don’t know what to say. I always thought you hated me but...holy shit.” I pause and gaze at my blue walls. “I don’t love you, Drake. And you’re right on the fact I don’t want a mate but wrong on the reason. I don’t want one because I want to be free - to travel. Being your mate - a luna - would never allow me to do that.”
Drake’s face falls at my words. His lips flatten together and his eyes turn a shade darker. “What are you saying, Harper?”
I hesitate, trying to collect my words together. I can’t believe I am saying this - to Drake.
“I - I’m saying that I have to reject your offer.” I finally say, quietly. My head drops in guilt. This way I can’t meet his eyes. I heard him inhale sharply, obviously trying to come to terms. “I’m sorry.”
Drake storms out of my room, without uttering a single word. I stare at the door for a few moments, gathering my thoughts together. And then I sigh and walk over to my wardrobe to get my pajamas.
I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight.
“Chin up Harper,” my mother orders, quietly. “And don’t slouch those shoulders.”
Mentally cursing my mother, I obey her and straighten my posture. Tiredness seeps through me. I haven’t slept a wink. I was up tossing and turning the whole night, going over the events that played out between Drake and me.
How could I have missed out on something so crucial and significant? The more I think about it, the more it becomes clear to me. Drake has always pranked or teased me to get my attention. He always asked me about guys in hope that I would say I was done with them and that I wanted to be with someone like him. Maybe if I had known, I wouldn’t be feeling like this right now.
A familiar smell washes over me and my eyes immediately sought out the owner. Stood at the other end of the line is Drake, who has his eyes downcast. I desperately want to talk to him, to explain everything. But when I called him earlier this morning, it went straight to the answer phone.
I instantly know what is happening. He is avoiding me.
I can’t go up to him now because we are waiting to greet the Alpha King. The Alpha, Luna, and Drake, along with my parents and the Gamma’s family are all waiting for his arrival.
The whole morning, I have noticed how tensed everyone is. It is understandable, the Alpha King is the leader of all of us. Everything has to be perfect.
Sooner than I expected, a car is spotted. My whole body stiffens when a sweet smell hits my nose. It is unfamiliar but so strong. Strong enough to have my knees unbuckling. My wolf pushes forward in my mind, pressing me to release her. She is never like this, she is normally silent. In fact, I can barely feel her most of the time. But now, now she is alive.
The smell keeps getting closer to me. Keeps draining the strength from me. It is an odd smell, a minty aroma mixed with something of the forest. I have never heard of something like it before. Where on earth is it coming from?
My mother clutches my arm and heaves me up. I lean on her for support, whilst attempting to find my strength. I eventually detached myself from her hold and dusted my jeans. The smell was getting stronger by the minute but I was getting used to it - familiarizing myself with it.
“You okay sweetie?” Mom whispers into my ear. I nod my head in response.
The black BMW parks in front of us. None of us can peek inside it because of the tinted windows.
The back door opens and a tall, dark-skinned man steps out. He surveys the area and then glances over his shoulder.
That’s when a terrifying growl sounds throughout the area, causing shivers to trail down my spine. My breath hitches as I start to realize what is happening. And boy, I do not like what is happening.
An even taller man, with jet black hair and icy cold eyes, steps out of the car. A powerful aura surrounds him, leaving all those close by paralyzed. He has thick, toned muscles, sharp, finger-cutting features, and soft, silky hair. There is no doubt that he was handsome and strong.
And there is no doubt that what I have come to realize is correct.
The man’s icy blue eyes land on me. He scans my entire body with approval. And then, with dazzling speed, he is stood in front of me. He dips his head down so that it is level with my neck. I freeze as I feel his hot breath on my bare neck. How I wish I didn’t put it in a bun.
The man inhales and grunts when my scent reaches his nose.
He then whispers the word I dread. The word I never, ever, want to hear.
Thank you for reading this chapter. The next one will be up soon.