“Are you alright?” Alexander’s voice breaks the silence nature provides. A part of me groans at the fact that he imposes himself, but the other part wants to watch and study his every move so I can discover the reason behind his bizarre behavior.
It is starting to get really annoying; how much you think about it.
Do not pretend that you do not think about it too Accalia.
“I am fine.” I answer bluntly; I just want to be alone right now. Sadly, he does not get the hint. He sits on the grass and copies my action by laying down on it.
“That does not seem to be the case; you read Nick’s letter and rushed out of the house.” His tone seems to be on edge. He faces me and stares at me with his beautiful blue eyes making me realize how close we really are.
“I just, I needed a minute to myself.” I force myself to break eye contact and focus on the clear sky.
Something snapped in me after I read Nick’s letter. I do not quite understand it. All I know is I could not breathe and I had to get out of that house where everyone’s attention was on me. It felt as if they were trying to break me piece by piece to answer the questions Nick’s letter raised.
“Yeah, you left everyone in a daze. Josh had to send a letter back to Nick asking him to fill in the blanks, like who is Clay?” I know I am still having an emotion overload. Otherwise, I would have sworn there is a hint of jealousy in Alexander’s voice.
I turn my gaze to him once again, and I find myself admiring his eyes one more time. They are glassy. They are not dull, they are bright; so bright you would think that they are on the verge of tears all the time. I feel like they are calling out for someone; for me; to come and save them.
“Well, that is a long story Alec.” I answer. I notice a black journal in his hand. By the way he is holding it really tight to his chest; I can tell that it is valuable to him. A strange part of me wants to steal it from his hands and run away. Who knows, maybe that journal has all the answers to the alpha’s weirdness.
“Alec?” both of his eyebrows are raised in surprise. I cannot decide whether he is amazed or annoyed.
“I told you I will come up with something. Even though it is not really creative or original, I am sticking to it whether you like it or not.” I give him a victorious smile. He closes his eyes as he laughs out loud causing my smile to get even wider.
“Well, I love it.” He pulls an arm under his head as we lay on the long green grass in silence.
“How did you find this place? Alec breaks the quiet. Like me, his gaze focuses on the sky.
“I walked around for about thirty minutes, and I found it by accident.” I shrug as I remember how astonished I was standing before the huge field. It is a huge drawing made of beautiful flowers. The grass is the canvas; it separates the shapes the flowers create.
“You never answered my question, who is Clay?”
“I thought you asked Nick.” I try to find a way out of talking about my best friend. Something tells me it will end with me being in tears.
“Well, Nick has not replied yet. We are wasting time waiting for his reply.” I have never been a trusting person, but I refuse to let others get hurt because of my lack of trust or my emotions. Thus, I tell him.
“I have never had any faith in people; they are selfish, vain, and manipulative. They will use you to get what they want; they will degrade your worth to make themselves feel better. That is why all my life; I have had only two friends; Nick and Clay.” I close my eyes as I remember the times I spent with my friends; my brothers.
“Nick, well let us just say he was the one who kept me on my feet in a time when all I wanted was to fall to the ground and give up. He showed me my worth, and taught me that it is okay to be a little different even if it is against my people’s principles.” I can sense Alec’s smile. It is as if he relates to what I am saying, like Nick has done something similar to him.
“Yeah, that does sound like the Nikolai Fairchild that I know.”
“As for Clay, we have been friends for as long as I can remember. And a few things happened that made our bond unbreakable. We have shared many tears together. We understand each other in a way that not even mates would understand. We met Nick when we were both in a very fragile and vulnerable state. And we have been a family ever since.” I give him as little detail as I can, only enough to make Alec believe that Clay can indeed be trusted.
“That does not explain why…”
“I am getting to that.” I cut him off. I open my eyes and look at the alpha beside me. He gives me a confused yet a patient look. That is one other thing that Alec has that the other alphas lack. He is patient; he does not use his title in every small situation.
It is actually easy to have a conversation with him. If he were Oliver or some other alpha, I would have a hand wrapped around my neck by now. They would not bother to actually listen to what I have to say, that is assuming they would ever give me a chance to talk.
“As much information as Nick can get, he can never know everything because Oliver considers him an outsider and the alphas barely trust each other.” I mutter the last part to myself.
“So, he used Oliver’s trust in Clay to his favor.”
“Okay you lost me. Who is Oliver? And how can Nick use his trust in Clay without revealing himself?” Alec makes it seem as if we are having a chat about the weather, not the events that lead to the decision that can possibly end his pack. However, the place and the position we are in does not help make things seem serious.
“Oliver is my alpha; well I guess he was my alpha. I am certain that if I show up at the Red Eclipse pack he will throw me in the dungeons.” I chuckle delighted by the thought. Alec growls lowly, but I just overlook it.
“Despite the alphas’ ‘questionable personalities,’ Clay has always respected Oliver. In exchange, Clay is the pack’s head warrior. Which if you ask me is a little ironic since the amount of times he has deceived or lied to Oliver in my favor are countless.” I chuckle one more time.
“Anyway, remember how I told you that every alpha chose a warrior in his behalf. Well, Clay is Oliver’s warrior. And before you ask; no, he does not agree with the alphas. He is our spy, and when Joshua makes a plan to defeat the foe, Clay will be spared. Otherwise, I will kill you and I am sure Nick will help me whether you two are friends or not.” I sound confident, but I know Nick would rather cut off his own tongue rather than harm any of his friends.
“Well, I am happy to say that I have reported what you told me to Josh who will tell the others and start on performing a plan as quickly as possible. We do not have the luxury of time.”
“Great, let’s go help them then.” I smile as I pull myself into a sitting position. I wait for him to do the same. Instead he startles me by moving his head a little until it rests on my lap.
I am about to yell at him to get off of me, but I unconsciously penetrate his locks with my fingers feeling the softness of his black hair. Alec closes his eyes and hums in contentment.
“Why do you sound like that when you talk about them?” Alec breaks the silence after a few minutes.
“I do not understand what you mean.” My fingers continue venturing in the maze that is his hair.
“Nick and Clay.” He does not need to explain any further for me to understand what he means.
“I do not want to talk about it, especially to you.” I try to sound harsh in order to make him back off. Sadly, I come empty handed especially since he does not get off of my lap.
It is a little late to be shut off now. I mean, you just told him your entire life story.
Shut up Accalia! I did not tell him my entire life story.
“Shadow? Are you alright?” Alec’s hand finds its way to my shin making me look down at him. His touch is really gentle.
“Yeah; it is just… This is the first time I have been away from either of them in what feels like my entire life. I mean even when we were not physically together. Clay would always mind link me and Nick would send me magical letters or penetrate my dreams. It feels weird, that is all.” I do not realize how much my words are true until I say them out loud.
I try to push it into the back of my head, but loneliness consumes my body out of nowhere. It sends uncomfortable shivers to every bone in my body.
“What about your family?”
“Clay and Nick are my family.” I answer coldly; a hint that he must not question the subject any further.
If there is something that I am enjoying, it is the fact that there is an entire continent between my brother and I. Therefore, I do not want to talk or think about him.
“I see I touched a nerve. I am sorry; I did not mean to upset you.” He lifts himself into a sitting position and faces me. His journal is now on the grass next to him. Something about his tone and the way he looks at me makes me suddenly snap.
“Can you just stop.” I yell as I get up and cover my face with my hands.
“What happened? Did I do something wrong?” His hands gently touch mine; pulling them away from my face. His concerned beautiful eyes almost make me want to calm down.
I left out a heavy sigh as I pull away from him.
“Shadow, tell me what is wrong.” He reaches out for me once again.
“You! You are what is wrong. I am not the kind of person to get into someone’s business, but there something that you are hiding and I want to know what it is.”
“You cannot really expect me to tell you my secrets now Shadow, can you?” His serene voice begs me to give him a black eye. When I stay silent he speaks again.
“I think you should take some deep breaths to calm down, then we will continue our talk.” he touches my shoulders; rubbing them gently.
I want to scream as loud as I can in order to let my frustration out. I have met many men; none of them looked at me the way Alec looks at me.
“Stop doing that!” I yell.
“Doing what?” The alpha gives me a puzzled look.
“Do not play dumb. You know exactly what I am talking about. Stop looking at me like I am…” I cannot find the right word to describe it without sounding eccentric.
“Like you are what?” I can see panic starting to emerge in his eyes making me more determined to get answers out of the alpha standing before me.
“Like I am your most precious possession.” As I say it, I do not have the courage to look him in the eye.
I have to say, if I were him; I would have started running away from you by now.
Shut up Accalia. Do not think you are fooling me; I know you want answers as much as I do, if not more. My wolf growls at me before she goes utterly silent. Thus, I smile in victory.
“You are full of ego, are you not?” My smile drops upon hearing Alec’s voice, and remembering the situation I am in.
The alpha tries to act confident, but he fails miserably. He keeps moving his hands around; pulling them in his hair and then stuffing them in his pockets. His calmness is gradually abandons him. Which means, I am close to making him break.
“Maybe, but I am smarter than I look.” I take a second to make a list in my head of all the things I have noticed about him so far.
“For starters, I know for a fact that an alpha, or anyone really, does not look at a stranger the way you look at me. It is like you try to memorize every detail of my features. By the way that is creepy.” I say the last part to myself causing him to chuckle lowly. Still, the nervousness is clear in his pupils.
“I did not even have to try to make you trust me. And yet, you trusted everything I told you so far without such a hiccup of a hesitation. Now, that may be justified by your need to protect your pack. But, given your reputation among other packs, I am sure that you are weary towards everyone outside of your pack.” I walk back and forth in the middle of the fields while voicing out my list. I am careful to not step on any of the flowers.
“And do not think for one second that I did not take notice of the look of hope and desperation that is in your eyes every time you touch me.” I stand right before Alec, pointing my finger right in his face. I take a few deep breaths trying to calm my breathing since I spent the last four minutes babbling non-stop. When he does not say anything, I growl in annoyance. He is a lot harder to break than I thought.
“The list is really long and I only met you a few hours ago!. So I will either continue talking which will result in you having a migraine. Or you can say something, because trust me I can be as annoying as a mud stuck in your fur.” My voice is calm.
“Alright. How about this?” Alec gives me a smile; one that indicates that he is trying to be fair, not tricky or manipulative. Still, I choose to be on my guard. After all, I did just demand he tells me something that he clearly wants to keep to himself.
“I will tell you what you wish to know, but only if you tell me a secret of your own.” My heart skips a beat at his words.
I have many secrets. They may not be as big or as dangerous as Alec’s, but still I do not wish for him to learn any of them.
Well, you cannot have something without paying its prize. Accalia’s voice holds noting but honesty and seriousness.
Are you encouraging me to accept his proposal?
What? No, of course not! I am just saying; in order to know what he is hiding, you need to tell him a secret of your own. It does not have to be something big, choose something that you feel is not too personal.
I knew it! You do want to know. I mentally smirk.
I never said I wanted to know anything.
Okay then, I am going to decline. I wait for a few seconds, but when she does not object I start talking.
“Well, Alec I don…”
No, wait! Do not refuse.
And why would I do as you ask?
Because you are right; I do want to know. I do a victory dance in my head before I turn to Alec.
“Deal.” I smile at him when I see how bright his eyes become when he hears my answer.
“But, you have to go first.” He gives me a look of reluctance before he nods.
This time, it is his turn to walk back and forth as I stand there, watching him knot and unknot his hands. Alec mumbles a few words to himself before forcing himself to relax.
“I assume you know what I did five years ago.” He starts. I have never seen an alpha this nervous in my entire life.
“The triple crime, yeah.” A look of sadness consumes his face. As if he is disappointed that I know about it.
“Yeah well, I was punished for it by being detained in this territory for the rest of my days.”
“Yeah I know that, the whole nation knows that.” I nearly scoff at his lame attempt to lie to me.
“Right, but what no one knows, minus my pack, is that I was also cursed by the Amazonians.” The blood drains from my face as I stare at him in horror.
“A curse?” My voice is barely a whisper.
“Not what you expected to hear, huh?” Alec smiles sadly at me.
“What is the curse? And what does it have to do with me?”
“The curse was anonymous, I did not know what it was; no one did. That is until you appeared in my parents’ house out of thin air.” I study his face as I try to see if he is lying or if he is mocking me. But, the seriousness in both his voice and his expression sends electric shots throughout my entire body.
“Can you elaborate please?” My courage and my eagerness to know the truth slowly start to vanish. I do not think I am ready to hear the explanation to his former statement.
“You would not believe me.” His head hangs low refusing to meet my gaze.
“Try me.” I persuade him against my better judgment. I have a feeling that Alec’s curse will change my life forever. Whether it will be good or bad is what scares me to the core. When I came to the Open Wound pack, my intention was to save lives. I never thought it would lead me to this moment. Part of me wants to tell Alec to not say more than what he already said, while the other part itches to find out how I fit into this mess.
“I… if I tell you then I will only make this worse.”
“We had a deal.”
“I know, and now I will make you a promise. I will tell you what my curse is after we eliminate the warriors that are coming our way. I know you believe that I am deceiving you, but I need you to trust that I am not. I just need time to figure out how to tell you this.” For some reason, I believe him. Perhaps, it has to do with the way he holds my hands in his. Or perhaps, it is the single tear that escapes his right eye.
I can see the amount of pain he feels, and I cannot help but feel a little responsible for it. Therefore, I take a step closer to him and I wrap my arms around his neck.
Alec’s arms instantly wrap around my waist as he pulls me even closer towards him. When he sees that I do not mind our proximity, he rests his head on my shoulder. He does not make a sound, but I know that he is crying.
“It is okay, you are okay.” I try to comfort him as I tighten my hold on him. Usually, I feel weird around people who are emotional. But for some reason I do not feel anything beside the need to comfort Alec as he silently lets his tears run free.
“I am sorry.” Alec apologizes a few minutes later. He pulls away from me and wipes his face with his hands.
“You have nothing to apologize for.” I tell him as I use my long sleeves to rid his face from the wetness since his hands do not exactly do the job.
I take a second to stare at his face. Alphas are known to be prideful; they never allow anyone to see them while they feel weak. However, this alpha not only has he showed me his tears, but he also trusted me with them. Thus, I choose to trust his words.
“I trust you.” I tell him as I wipe his cheeks with my sleeves one last time before I pull away. Alec growls at my action, and I find myself a little happy that it is caused by pleasure. I assume the reason is I do not judge him for showing me his vulnerable side.
“Okay, it is your turn.” Alec softly smiles at me.
My original plan is to tell him a senseless secret. But seeing that he trusted me with something heavier, I decide that he deserves the same. Therefore, I say a sentence I have never dared to say before.
“I had a younger sister, her name was Diamanda. She died five years ago.” I do not recognize my voice; it is cold yet it is filled with emotion.
“That must be hard.” He replies.
“It is something I would never wish upon anybody.” I wrap my arms around myself.
“Do you mind me asking what happened?” He has been honest with me; it is only fair to tell him the truth.
“She was murdered five years ago by people who are not even worth her shoe.” Alec repays me for comforting him earlier by doing the same for me. His embrace feels like I tucked in a thick warm blanket, and it is the most peaceful I have felt in years.