CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
“I know that I should have talked to you first, but I was so overwhelmed. It felt so real, it was… it was torture. I needed someone to talk to, and he was there… and I just…”
It is okay Shadow, I understand. Clay interrupts me as I rest my head on his lap. Both of us sit on the bed in Alec’s room. I have finally decided that I should allow my body to rest and Clay decided that he will not let me die of boredom alone. Somehow, we ended up talking about Diamanda.
“I cannot get it out of my head. All these years I have been avoiding this memory, and now I cannot get it out of my head. It hurts.” I whimper, and I have to fight every single tear from running down my cheeks.
I know sister; I cannot imagine having that particular memory impose itself on my mind. “Yeah, it is like being in an endless battle with your mind, and with Accalia being nowhere to be found… Well, it is hard.” I huff as I continue to resist my tears.
It is okay to cry Shadow. Clay tells me what I told Alec just the day before.
“All I have done since I woke up is cry, and I am starting to get tired of feeling weak.”
Well then, let us talk about a lighter subject such as your mate. I immediately give my friend a glare.
“Do not tease me Clay.” I hit his chest as I look up at his hazel eyes.
I just want to know how you feel about finding your mate.
“It is weird to admit that he is my mate while I cannot find anything special about his scent, I cannot feel his wolf, and I do not consider him the most handsome male I have ever seen.” I pull a pillow from beside Clay, and I hug it as tightly as I can.
You do not find him attractive? Clay pulls my hair away from my face.
“Well, yes he is attractive, but I do not think that no one matches his looks; I am not attracted to him in the way I used to hear mated wolves in the Red Eclipse pack describe how they were attracted to their mates. When I first saw him, I did not even pay attention to his looks; that is if we do not count his eyes. His eyes are peculiar.” I babble.
Are you sure about that? From my perspective, you two are close; not like normal mates would be, but still you are close.
“Yeah, but his looks are not the reason why I trust him. You know I am not that shallow.”
I know, I am just trying to understand.
“I do not know what to tell you; I barely comprehend it.”
How about you tell me why you trust him? He pinches my cheek.
“It is the little things. I saw his kindness; how he is a good person if you take a chance to know him rather than impose his reputation on him. I saw how different he is from every single alpha out there. He cares about his pack; he puts them before himself, he does not hide things from them; he tells them everything that happens around them; he includes them in everything, and he does not expect them to treat him with extra respect just because he is their alpha.” I want to say more, but I stop myself. The other things I want to share will require detailed explaining, and I am not sure I am ready to talk about that just yet.
I agree with you, his reputation opposes every aspect of him. Although it seems like you are talking from experience. I remain silent.
Shadow it is me; you can tell me anything.
“I know, it is just I am still trying to digest everything I guess. Alec is the exact opposite to what I believed my mate would be like, and that honestly scares me. Before I got injured I was so freaked out by him even after he told me that we are mates. At first I took the news well, but later, when I let it sink in, I did not know how to feel. Ever since I woke up, however, he has been acting different towards me; it is like he wants to make sure that I will not reject him after what he did to that doctor.” I close my eyes as I try to clear my thoughts.
“He does not judge me and he does not judge my hair, my tattoos, or my piercings. He does not critique the way I act or the way I talk. He treats me like I am his equal, and never once did he try to control me or my actions. I do not know if it is only because of the bond, but I can see that he truly cares about me; I can see that he struggles with his darkness every single day. Most importantly, I can see how desperate he is; he wants me to give in to the mate bond. I am trying, I really am; I mean I told him about Diamanda, but I cannot help the doubt that consumes my bones at least twice a day.”
Maybe it is because you cannot feel the bond. Thus, you cannot feel his emotions or read his thoughts.
“It is not just that. It is just… I am not in love with him, not yet at least. Regardless, I am not stupid enough to not realize that I am starting to develop some feelings for him.”
Is that a bad thing? Because for your information, I approve of whatever is happening between the two of you.
“Yeah, Nick mentioned how you weirdly like Alec.” I open my eyes to see Clay give me a soft smile.
“It is not bad, but if I end up falling in love with him, this love will only be based on my human emotions. I cannot say the same for him; if I was not his mate perhaps he would not share his secrets with me and perhaps he would not have cared that much about me.”
You have a valid point. Clay gives me a raised eyebrow.
“But?” I know he will find a way to make me relinquish the thought that has been torturing me even when I was in a comma.
But that does not sound like something you would say.
“What do you mean?” It is my turn to give him a raised eyebrow.
Well, the Shadow I know does not stress about love because she reckons that it is nonsense. Although I have to confess, I like this change.
“If you like this particular change, then what is the problem?”
Well, you are not acting like yourself. If you truly believe everything you told me then you have no reason to worry. Also, my Shadow does not fear such things; she closes her eyes and she takes the risk because she will not let anything stand between her and her happiness.
“I am scared Clay.” I admit as my teeth play with my lip piercing. I pull my body up and sit down next to him. I pull my legs towards my chest as I stare at my friend.
I know, but there is nothing to be afraid of. I do not know Xander that well. Despite everything, I can see how much he cares about you. While you were unconscious, he would not leave your side unless Nick or I forced him to. I start biting my nails as I give him an uncertain look.
Look, even if things do not go the way you want them to, I will be here to pick you up and put your pieces back together. I will be here every step of the way.
“I know that silly.” I smile.
Think of it like this, Diamanda asked you to find your mate and to live a happy life before she died. So, you will be trying to fulfill her wish. Even through the mind-link, I could hear the pain in his voice as he says her name.
“Hey, come here.” I mumble as I pull him into my arms.
“I am so sorry, we have been talking about my mate and I did not think about how you must feel…” The guilt starts to crawl under my skin.
Do not be an idiot; I am ecstatic that you finally have a chance to live a happy life with your mate. Me losing mine will never change that.
“I love you Clay.”
I love you sister. Now I need to tell you something. He pulls away from me, and wipes away his tears.
“What is it?”
I am sure you know by now that while you were recovering, Xander and I got to know each other, which means we talked a lot.
“Okay?” I have no idea what he wants to say.
Well, one thing we talked about is the fact that you and I should join the Open Wound pack.
“Have you gone mad?” I look at him with a blank face.
What do you think will happen once all this is over?
“I know that things will not be as they were before.” I snap at him.
Exactly! Which means we cannot go back to the Red Eclipse pack. Oliver will not kill us, but Stefan surely will. We have nowhere else to go, and these people seem to care about us, and I am starting to care about them.
“And we cannot stay here for a long period of time without being a part of the pack.” I say bitterly.
“What did Nick say about this?”
Nick decided to stay here; he claims that this territory is his home, and he wants us to stay here with him, but it is up to us.
“Do you really want this Clay?” Doubt is evident in my voice.
Yes, not to mention that your mate is the alpha of this pack Shadow. You giving him a chance requires you to stay here.
“I know, but staying here for him is one thing and becoming part of his pack is a completely different thing. We will not be able to leave this territory Clay; we will be trapped.” I shout the last part.
All my life I have been detained in some way by Stefan’s hand. I am not sure I can handle being locked in the same land for the rest of my life.
Look, this whole situation with the alphas and some selectable minds being controlled in some way… I do not reckon it will end anytime soon. Therefore, Xander said that we should now join the pack and when this hard time passes, he can release us from the link if we wish it.
“He said that?” My heartbeat quickens at that.
Yes he did. Shadow, I need you to trust me on this.
“You know that I trust you Clay.” I give him a glare.
I know, the ceremony will take place tomorrow morning.
“It seems like you have made a decision without even consulting me.” I give him another glare.
I knew you would give in. I cannot help but smile at him.
“Why do I feel like what has occurred so far is nothing compared to what is yet to come?” I sit on his lap and lay my head on his chest. The feeling of his heart beating gives me a sense of security.
Probably because your instinct is right. No one knows what the future will bring.
“That really is not comforting.” I complain.
Yeah. Your breathing is a little uneven. Perhaps you should sleep. I only nod as I close my eyes.
While Clay runs his fingers through my platinum locks, I feel myself slowly relaxing in his arms as I drift into darkness.
I do not have any dreams; I do not see any unwelcomed memories. Nonetheless, there is a voice in my head; it calls my name over and over. I try to answer it; I try to reach for it, but it is too far away as if it is nothing but a whisper. The voice is so familiar almost like it is a part of me; I want to merge with it, to become one with it. I feel like this voice would complete me, but I cannot reach it.
Shadow wake up!
Please wake up!
Are you okay?
Shadow, answer me please! Are you okay?
Shadow it is me, Accalia. Wake up so we can talk. I wake up with a scream. I look around the room to see that Clay has left the room.
My panting becomes uncontrollable; a panic attack starts to resurface. I want to get up and call someone, I want to scream, but I cannot; I can barely breathe.
Countless tears cloud my vision as I helplessly look around the room. I feel like I am drowning; like my lungs are full of water. All I can do is whimper as my body forcefully lies down on the bed.
“Oh God, Shadow!” I hear someone scream after the bedroom door opens.
Seconds later, I am enveloped in a warm embrace. Regardless, I cannot focus on that; all I can concentrate on is trying to force oxygen into my lungs. A hand runs over my back in soothing circles, though it does nothing to help me inhale.
“What is wrong with her?” I hear Lorenza’s voice from about two feet away.
“She is having a panic attack.” There is a hint of unease in Brook’s voice.
“How? She was sleeping!” Lorenza asks.
“She must have had a dream that triggered it.” Chance’s voice is closer than the females’.
“That is not what is important. Here is what is, Xander you have to calm her down or she will die.” Nolan’s calm and low voice reaches my ears. As a response, I let out a strangled shriek.
“Oh my god, she is going to die.” Brook starts to cry.
Clay, Clay! I scream in my head.
Help me! I cannot breathe!
I am coming, okay? I just need you to hang on. I do not reply as I almost scream from the pain. It is as if my lungs are on fire.
Can you hear me Shadow?
Just hold on okay? Nick and I are almost there. I still do not reply. The pain is worse than the one I had to endure when I inhaled the silver gas.
“Honey look at me.” Alec tries to make eye contact with me, but I cannot focus on anything around me. I can barely hear his voice.
“What are we going to do?” Chance asks.
“Get out.” Alec yells.
“Xander…” Nolan begins but the alpha cuts his off.
“I said leave!” He growls. I do not know if they do or not. However, a couple of seconds later Alec shakes me violently as he screams.
“Breathe mate, you have to breathe.” I recognize the tone to be Amoux’s.
I try, and I fail.
“I am not losing you, do you hear me? You do not get to leave me. Please do not leave me!” Amoux growls.
“What happened?” I suddenly hear Nick’s voice.
“Mate cannot breathe.” Amoux tightens his hold on me.
“Okay, I need to examine her so I can help her, okay?” Nick’s voice gradually becomes closer.
For about a minute the quietness consumes the air.
“What is wrong with my mate?” Amoux breaks the silence.
“It is not a panic attack.” Nick mumbles.
“Then what is it?” Amoux growls.
“Amoux, I need you to step back and give Xander control?”
“No! Fix my mate! My mate is dying.” My body starts to weaken and my connection to reality starts to become hazy.
“Amoux, the only way to help your mate is if you give Xander control. She is starting to blackout, and if she faints then I will not be able to help her.”
My body starts shaking; my already weak lungs begin to give up. I somehow manage to grab my mate’s bicep as the oxygen stops reaching my lungs altogether.
“What do I do?” Alec’s voice indicates terror and desperation.
“You have to mark her.” Even though I am almost dead, Nick’s answer scares me.
“Are you insane? I cannot do that without her consent!”
“Xander if you do not do it, then she will die. I do not know what is wrong with her, and I do not have time to figure it out. Look at her Xander, her face is turning blue. I know that with your curse the results are unforeseen, but it is better than doing nothing. Help her.”
“She will never forgive me.” Alec removes my hair away from my face, and I will myself to open my eyes to see his one last time.
“I am so sorry honey.” He whispers as he pushes my hair away from the left side of my neck.
“I am sorry.” He leans towards my skin; he kisses the side of my lips before his fangs emerge.
“It is going to be okay.” I feel his fangs touch my delicate and vulnerable skin before they graze through the flesh.
It does not feel as bad as the females in my old pack described it to be. Yes, it hurts but no more than a needle would and it only lasts for about ten seconds before I feel our souls and minds merging. Thus, the oxygen reenters my sensitive lungs. I do not know how that is possible with his curse, but I feel utter bliss as he pulls his fangs out of my neck.