Despite being in my mate’s arms, the nightmares haunted me like a cat would a mouse. All I wanted was to wake up; I preferred the harsh unbearable reality over the nightmares. I felt myself yelling, screaming and even begging for someone anyone to wake me up, alas my pleadings were unanswered.
Until finally a savior came and gently shook me, thus my eyes abruptly opened. I took a few seconds to banish the nightmares from my mind before I looked at Josh.
“Hey, the meeting is in thirty minutes. You should probably get a shower you look like Frankenstein.” He attempted to make a joke, and it was good, but I could not smile at him while I was looking at the three ugly swollen slashes on his cheek.
“Xander, please do not look at me like that.”
“I cannot do that… I mean did you see your face? Did you see what I did to you?” I tried to keep my voice as low as I could even though a huge part of me wanted to scream.
“Honestly, no, I did not. I could not bring myself to look.” For the first time since I woke up I saw the hurt in his eyes.
“No, I do not want you to apologize, that is not why I am telling you this.” He interrupted me.
“Because I want you to know that even though what happened… it deeply affects me, I do not want you to blame yourself.”
“Then who do you blame?”
“How can you blame no one?”
“Because only vengeful people seek someone to blame, and you and I both know that I am not that type of person.” He gave me a sad smile.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Are you hurt?”
“At first it hurt like hell, but then Nick healed it for me as best he could before he healed Chance.”
“That is not what I meant.” Josh immediately looked down and started clasping and unclasping his hands.
“Josh, please I need to know, I need to know how much damage I caused.”
“I am hurt; I know that I will never be the same. But it will not break me; I will not allow it to.” Tears started to build up in my eyes and it was my turn to look down.
“Alexander.” He put his hand on my shoulder and I immediately looked up.
“Do not call me that, not now not ever.” I ordered a little too harshly.
“That is the Xander I know and love.” He offered a genuine smile.
“Look, this is not my first scar, and anyway, I was not perfect before.” Despite his attempts to assure me, I still felt the guilt eating me alive. For some reason, I felt comforted by that because it meant that I still had my humanity. Despite everything that had happened to me, despite everything I had done.
“Besides, I hear that women feel attracted to men with scars on their faces.” He said with a smirk causing me to give him my first real smile since this mess started.
“I hope so.” I could not think of anything else to say.
“Alright, you have to go and get ready to face the pack.”
“But Shadow…” I pointed at my still motionless mate; her skin had gotten a little paler.
“Do not worry, Clay will be here soon. He is going to stay with her during the meeting since all of us will be there.” I only nodded. It felt weird to trust someone I barely knew, but for some reason I felt like he is of the few people I could trust when it comes to Shadow’s safety. Perhaps it is because of how highly Shadow talked about him.
“Nick might also join him.” He added.
“Alright.” I pushed myself off the bed when Josh suddenly called my name.
“I just wanted to say I am sorry.”
“For what? Josh you do not need to apologize for anything. In fact, I am the one who should apologize to you.” I felt a little angry from hearing his apology.
“I told the others about your mating bond with Shadow and everything in between. I should not have done that. You trusted me with your secret and I told everyone.” I was a little surprised by that. I did not think about it. If the circumstances were different, I would have been furious. But at that moment, I would have slit my throat if he asked me to.
“Do not worry about it; they were bound to find out at one point. Honestly, I am glad I was not forced to explain it once again.”
I stood at the furthest hiding spot I could find. They were all waiting, standing in the training field. I could see the anger in some eyes and the confusion in others. Two set of eyes however, held sadness and tears, and I knew that those were the eyes of Doctor Lewis’ family. They were the ones preventing me from revealing myself.
You know you cannot stay behind that tree forever right? Chance’s voice rang in my head.
I am scared. I admitted to my beta.
I know, but you owe this to Doctor Lewis and to her family. He replied. I let his words sink in and I took some deep breaths.
With a shaky breath and frozen hands, I moved from behind the tree and started walking towards my pack. I expected to hear screams, yells, accusations, and insults. Instead, all I heard was silence; complete and deafening silence.
All the attention was on me, even the children were looking at me. What bothered me, however, was the fear in their eyes; how children hid behind their parents when I looked at their direction.
For a few minutes I tried to speak, but no words came out; I did not know how to explain what happened and still maintain my status. No alpha can cry before his pack members, I could not be the first; I did not want my people to doubt my strength and power. I doubted, however, that that train had already passed.
“What happened to Tamar Lewis?” One of the pack members had the courage to ask the question all the pack yearned to ask. Her courage ignited others’.
“Is it true you killed her?”
“Did she commit treason?”
“What happened to the warriors?”
“Are we safe?”
“Is this like the incident five years ago?”
“Is it true you found your mate?”
“Is she the werewolf who helped face the warriors?”
The questions were endless and my heart was skipping a beat with each one. Still, I waited until they calmed down before I actually opened my mouth and talked.
“Good evening everyone. Thank you for coming on such a short notice.” My voice was unrecognizable as if it belonged to a stranger.
“As you all know by now, I am not the kind of alpha who would hide anything from his pack. Therefore, I will answer all your questions.” I waited to see if there were any objections. When there was none, I continued.
“Let us start with the warriors; we have been able to outsmart them. The threat is eliminated for now but we do not know if the alphas will try to attack us once again.”
“What happened to the warriors?” One man asked.
“As of right now, they are held captive. The gamma and the head warrior will begin interrogating them as soon as we are done here.” I decided to disclose everything to show my pack that I still trusted them even though I could see their trust in me was a little shaken if not entirely gone.
“As for the she-wolf who warned us and helped us defeat this foe.” I took a deep breath; I did not want to do this without Shadow by my side. I wanted to show her to the pack with a proud smile on my face. Alas, life can be one’s enemy sometimes; it gives you what you want with a cruel twist.
“The rumors are true, she is my mate. However, her arrival finally revealed what my curse is.” Hushed voices immediately fill the air. Once again, I let them talk rather than forcing them to stay silent. I may be their alpha but that does not give me the right to order them to do such things.
“The curse is…” I could not bring myself to do it. It is personal, but they had been anticipating that moment for years. Also, my pack is my family, and one would share such things with family.
“The curse is simple. I can feel the mate bond while my mate cannot. Same goes for our wolves. Thus, I do not know what the future will hold especially if we consider recent events, which brings me to the last and most important topic of this meeting.” Despite my desire, I looked at Doctor Lewis’ family.
“Tamar Lewis’ death.” The shame was unbearable; to look them dead in the eye and tell them that I murdered one of them, one of us, with cold blood. Once again, my words abandoned me.
“What happened to my daughter?” Her mother asked me with teary eyes.
“Yeah, you called her to save your mate and the next thing we know she is dead.” Doctor Lewis’ mate, Mason, exclaimed. He looked terrible; his eyes were red, and he looked like he had done nothing but cry for the last few hours, maybe even broke a few things. Deep down, I hoped the things he broke were my bones.
“Um, I… she was…” I could not say it, no matter how hard I tried, the words refused to come out.
“Did you kill my mate, alpha?” Mason asked. His voice was filled with many emotions that I could not detect any of them.
I do not know how I got the guts to do it, but I said it. One word; three letters that ruined their lives. “YES.”
Instead of attacking me or bursting out, Mason asked me a question that had the same effect as my former answer.
“WHY?” One word; three letters that brought tears to my eyes.
“It is hard to explain, the easiest way is to tell you that what happened five years ago, happened again today. The difference is, back then; I did not try to stop Amoux as he took the wheel and forsake his humanity. I tried to stop him, but he was too angry, he was too agitated. Thus, he managed to overpower me. I know that this is not an excuse; I know that I broke your trust. I desperately want to ask you to give another chance, but I know that this pack has given me way more chances than I deserve.” They all stared at me blankly, as if they do not understand what I was saying.
“I do not know what you want to do, or how you feel, but whatever decision you make, I will respect.” I abruptly started to walk away without waiting for a response. I could not stay there for any longer; it was getting far too difficult to repress my tears.
After walking for a few minutes through the woods, I heard someone calling my name. I turned around to find Mason and Claire, Doctor Lewis’ mother.
“Did you make your decision this fast?” My guilt was evident, I could not see it, but I could feel it.
“Yes, you are our alpha and we used to respect you and love you for everything you have done for us and for being so different from the other alphas. However, things have changed. We still respect you, but only because you are our alpha and nothing else.” Claire said.
“If we could, we would leave the pack. Unfortunately, rouges are looked down upon, and the fact that we come from this pack does not help. You once were our family, now you are just our alpha.” Mason said with a raspy voice.
“You do not have any demands? Nothing? I honestly imagined that you would at least try to force me to give up my title or something similar to that.” I spoke without filter.
“If you mean that you expected us to seek revenge, then you should know that looking at you now we realize that there is no need. The mental harm you are doing to yourself is enough. Also, I will sleep soundly at night knowing that you will have to look at Josh’s face every day for the rest of your life. Consider that to be our revenge alpha.” Claire’s words were calm but they were as sharp as a sword, if not sharper.
“We are not stupid. We care about this pack, and we know that you are the best alpha that can lead them right now especially if the alphas come up with another plan to wipe us out. Also, we have seen all the good you have done for your people, and I can see that what happened truly wounded you. Sadly, that is not going to bring my daughter back.” Claire continued, her words became softer.
They start to walk away, but Claire stopped mid step and turned her attention back to me.
“Despite everything, I will give you an advice. Find out the source of these… episodes you have, and find out how you can stop them or at least keep them in control. They only happened twice, but both times the consequences were too severe. The third time might be catastrophic and you might lose your pack. Also, I would appreciate it if you miss Tamar’s funeral.” She took Mason’s hand and they both walked away.