Chapter 41 - Aubree (Part 1)
The sunlight caught in Aubree’s eyes, making her squint.
“Punishment?” she retorted. “Punishment for what? They haven’t done anything wrong. You can’t punish—”
“Luna, please,” Jackson interrupted, glancing at her briefly before looking away, his brows furrowed. “You don’t understand our ways yet.”
“And she never will because she isn’t one of us,” the second man spoke again. Whatever his name was, he had the deepest voice she’d ever heard and it sent shivers down her spine.
“After the full moon, I will be,” Aubree said.
“You’ll be nothing but an abomination—a warped, twisted, bloodthirsty—”
“That’s enough, Abbar,” Amora interrupted. “Sten is the last male to take a human as a mate—unless she was chosen by the Goddess.”
Abbar, the one with the deep voice, growled, but she silenced him with the narrowing of her pale eyes.
“You’re too soft, Amora.”
Amora stepped forward and got into his face. He stiffened, his dark brows knitting together as he glared down at her.
If words were exchanged, they did not speak them aloud.
His lips curled in a half snarl before he grunted and stepped back.
“We are here to witness what will take place during the next full moon,” Amora announced, as if reminding the Council members as well. “The issuing of punishments will take place after and not before. We cannot subject a pack that was helping another when there is no proof of any laws broken.”
Her eyes regarded everyone present with the gentle firmness and authority of a mother over her children.
“Sten has claimed a mate. Ironic that she is—was—human, is it not?” Amora’s gaze fell back on Aubree. “The Goddess, in Her infinite wisdom and glory, must have done so for Her own reasons. The girl has clearly been claimed and appears strong, not weakened as the full moon approaches. We will witness what will become of her for I can think of no male that would mark a mate if doing so would only bring her harm.”
Aubree exhaled but still wasn’t sure whether to trust Amora.
She may have raised Stone from a pup, but she was a member of the Council too, was she not? Aubree wasn’t sure what her position was exactly and tried to remember what Stone had told her. Amora was one of the first lycans created by the Goddess and the last one still living. She didn’t belong to a pack, so did that make her a member of the Council or not?
Aubree cleared her throat, keeping her head high, as everyone continued to study her in silence. “At the next full moon, I will turn into a lycan. The Goddess made it so. I will go into heat at the next lunar eclipse, like every mated female does, and produce lycan offspring.”
She wasn’t sure whether to go into details or not. Was it any of their business knowing exactly what the Goddess had told her? Would they even believe her if she explained it all in the first place?
“How do you know this?” Abbar demanded, his tone cautious.
Gathering courage, Aubree took a deep breath before exhaling slowly. Would they believe a word of what she said?
“The Goddess Herself told us.”
All lycan eyes narrowed, studying her, while the werewolves’ eyes widened to large circles.
A half-smirk tugged on Amora’s lips as she caught the eyes of her male companions. “I sense no lies in her statement. What say you, Mero?”
The man who had been silent during their exchanges cleared his throat as he crossed his arms over his chest, accentuating his biceps as his dark eyes took Aubree in once more.
Show no fear. Nothing you’ve said is a lie, only truth and you know it, Aubree reminded herself.
“Truth,” the quiet Mero agreed, “albeit petitio principii. It still begs the question of how a being such as herself could speak to the Goddess when no ordinary lycan is capable of such? The Goddess does not associate Herself with humans.”
“My soul is lycan, that’s how. Being born into a human body was a test.”
“The Goddess has been known to test us all,” Mero confirmed with a nod of his head. His muscles relaxed, though he kept his arms crossed still. “I see no reason to punish this pack until our suspicions have been confirmed.”
Abbar and the other loud-mouthed man scowled.
“I don’t believe a word of it,” Abbar declared.
“Then you are questioning the Goddess’ will,” Aubree said.
Abbar’s jaw clenched shut, as did the nameless man’s, neither one daring to object to anything that was declared as the Goddess’ will.
Aubree tried not to smile in triumph over them. How could they know? How could they believe a word she said?
Truth was on her side. Truth would give her strength.
“A test,” Mero suggested. “Has Rumius arrived at the Blauwald Pack yet?”
Abbar was quick to produce a cell phone and lifted it to his ear.
“They have arrived,” Aubree said. “I just spoke with my mate before coming here.”
Abbar said a few words in another language, Aubree assumed was Lykostroya, before humming and nodding his head to Mero in confirmation. He began speaking again as Amora approached Aubree, her eyes on Aubree’s shoulder.
“May I see Sten’s mark?” Kindness and curiosity tinted the tone of her accented voice.
Aubree nodded before looking down at her shoulder. Her tank top and sports bra half concealed it before she pulled the fabric aside. The bite marks were merely a scar now. A scar she displayed proudly around the Lancaster Pack.
“Did it hurt?” Amora asked.
Aubree shrugged. “At first.”
“Then what happened?”
Those pale blues returned to meet Aubree’s gaze
“I saw a light.”
Like crystals, her eyes sparkled as they crinkled in the corners with a smile. “A blessing.”
Pain flared up Aubree’s hand from her palm and shot up her wrist before fading to tingles.
Gasping, she clutched her hand with the other and stared at it before the pain passed.
She looked up to see all eyes on her as Abbar uttered a few more words into the phone.
“You,” she growled. “What did you do to him?”
Abbar said a few more words before lowering his phone and ending the call.
“A test,” he stated. “You passed.”
“You hurt my mate to test us?” she demanded.
“A small cut.”
“That was no small cut, I can tell,” she seethed. “He’s been at war with the vampires for almost two weeks. I’ve felt every one of his injuries.”
A deep rumble vibrated up Aubree’s throat as her hands balled into fists at her side.
She wanted to tell him off. Tell him to eat shit and die because he was a worthless pile of cow manure for commanding the infliction of pain on Stone—or anyone in her pack for that matter.
She didn’t know her place in their world, though. She may be a luna of a pack, but this was the Council she was up against. She hadn’t been trained yet—didn’t even know what training entailed.
If she gave the Council a piece of her mind, what would they do?
“Thank the Goddess for that,” she gritted out.
Must... resist... urge... to scream...
A small voice in her head kept reminding her to be careful. To hold back on her anger and be the better person. She didn’t know all their rules and customs and any form of disrespect or disobedience could bring her, her mate, or her pack harm—maybe even the Lancaster Pack as well, she wasn’t sure.
Be the stronger person. Be a Luna.
It would be easy to spew the first things that came to her mind, but thoughtless words and actions held consequences.
Stay on the good side—the side the Goddess would approve.
She held her tongue while a few foreign words were exchanged among the lycans.
Finally, Abbar dismissed the werewolves of all charges—for now. Until the full moon, they were merely guests in their pack until the time of judgment.
After Jackson and Leanne led the lycans away, Aubree fumed with Justin over the pending punishments still hovering over their heads.
With their half-hour training session now cut short, Aubree jumped on a treadmill in the fitness section of the community center and ran her rage off.
Those bastards would dare punish a pack helping another pack during a time of crisis...
Justin ran next to her, wide-eyed, as the odd choice word slipped from her clenched teeth.
By the time it came to sparring with her partner on the training field behind the community center, the new female warrior couldn’t keep up with the throws, punches, and kicks Aubree delivered. Justin had to pull her aside and order her to stop.
“Gimme a stronger opponent,” she demanded, wiping the sweat from her brow.
He nodded and another young female warrior stepped forward.
Aubree kicked her ass down in two minutes.
He pulled her aside again, his brows furrowed as Brooke joined them.
“Bree, chill,” he said. “I get that you’re pissed, but you’re going to hurt yourself at the rate you’re going.”
“Girl, I love you,” Brooke said, only to be punched in the shoulder by her brother.
“Stop encouraging her,” he grumbled.
“You think I can just let them hurt you guys because you took me into your pack to protect me?” Aubree spat. “That’s bullshit!”
“I know, but if you don’t watch it, you’re going to get yourself or someone else killed!”
Aubree growled at him before he looked over his shoulder. She followed his gaze and saw the Council members approaching, watching the pack warriors train.
“Brooke, get her out of here,” Justin commanded in a hushed voice. “Take her on a long run, up to the gym, spar, whatever. Just keep her away from the Council and burn off that rage.”
Brooke’s face lit up. “Oh, this is going to be fun!”
Justin’s palm met his face as Brooke took Aubree by the arm and led her away.
She took Aubree up to the gym and stood her before a punching bag and told her to “go crazy,” while she cheered and egged her on from the side.
By the time Aubree was tired, Brooke was grinning from ear-to-ear.
“I don’t know what’s pissed you off, but you’re killing me, girl! I’m so proud!”
“The Council is threatening to punish this pack for protecting a human claimed by a lycan instead of reporting the matter,” Aubree said between pants as she wiped the sweat dripping down her face with a towel.
“Yeah, it’s pretty messed up, but the Council has strict rules about lycans and humans mixing.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” Aubree fired back.
Brooke raised her hands in mock surrender. “Okay, okay. Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just saying—”
“I know!” Aubree interrupted before huffing. “I know all about it because I was caught up in it. Stone told me all that stuff, but it doesn’t matter anymore. We’ve been blessed by the Goddess. The Council would be...”
She trailed off, her thoughts returning to something that was said earlier.
This was all a test. A test of their faith in Her. First, She tested Stone before giving Her blessing. Now, She was testing the Council.
“It’s all a test,” Aubree murmured, her eyes looking up to meet Brooke’s. “She’s testing the Council. Will they reject Her blessings or not. That has to be it.”
She hurried to her backpack on the floor against the wall and pulled her phone out from the side pocket.
It rang before going to voicemail. She suppressed a growl. Her thoughts immediately went to the Council giving Stone a hard time before she left a voicemail.
“It’s all a test, Love. She’s testing them like She tested you.”
She hung up and held the phone to her sweaty chest.
Please let him be okay.