CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
“What is wrong?” He asks me. I can feel his gaze on my mark. I notice the change in his aura as the seconds pass by; he is anxious. However, I do not focus on that; I focus on evening my breathing. I do not know what is wrong with me. All I know is that when Accalia suddenly contacted me, my body reacted in an eccentric way.
“Shadow…” He starts but he cannot find the words. He rubs his palms against his jeans while looking at the beautiful trees surrounding us.
“You… you do not have to… apologize.” I inhale sharply. I too turn my attention to the trees.
“Hey, look at me.” Alec touches my left cheek and moves my head towards him with his gentle hand.
“You have to calm down and breathe as evenly as you can honey.” His voice is low and soothing.
“What is happening to me?” I gasp as I start to experience extreme fright.
“No, look at me, just look at me; look at my eyes.” He holds my hand and presses it on his chest.
“Focus on my heart beat.” He gives me a vulnerable look, as if he begs me to be alright.
Thus I do as he requests, I focus on his heart, and every time it beats I take a deep breath. While doing that, I end up placing my other hand on top of his.
You can do this Shadow. My wolf encourages me.
How in the world are you not freaking out? I hiss at her.
I do not know. Perhaps so I can calm you down. Let us be honest lately you have been as emotional and moody as a pregnant woman.
I thought you were supposed to calm me down, what you are doing right now is pissing me off!
I would apologize, but I know that you missed me when I was gone. I feel her grinning inside my head.
You are right I did, and then I heard your voice, and that emotion was instantly replaced with remorse for feeling like that in the first place.
That is hurtful Shadow, and by the way you are welcome. I can sense the pride in her voice.
For calming your nerves down. You are not panting anymore. I only notice it when she mentions it.
You distracted me.
I told you I am here to calm you down. Whenever you need me, I will be there.
Same. I reply. I feel grateful to finally have her back. It reminds me that despite our differences, my wolf is my biggest supporter; even Clay and Nick do not match her. She is the only one who knows every single thought I have. While others might consider it scary or uncomfortable, I find it reassuring.
“You did it.”Alec smiles. My breathing is even, but my panic is as present as ever.
The panic will take time to vanish; you just have to be patient. Accalia relieves my doubt and fear.
You are right; I just have to detain it until then.
“I am aware that you almost had a panic attack, but can we talk? I really need to talk to you.” I see the desperation in his eyes. I also see the self-hatred. Consequently, I know what he wants to discuss.
“Okay.” I whisper. It is evident that he will apologize, but I am concerned about what he will say after that and how I will reply.
“I want to apologize for what I did to you.” He points at the mark he gave me. Earlier, I spent an hour observing it in front of the mirror as it healed. I did not examine it with distaste or disgust; I did not hate Alec for marking me.
“You do not have to apologize Alec, you saved my life.” I attempt to show him that I am free of hatred towards him.
“Yes I do, I took away your free will and I marked you without your consent. That goes against all my principles and beliefs. The worst part is I really want to regret doing it; I really do; that is not how I imagined myself marking you. However, I cannot help but feel… happy about it.” He rubs his eyes with his long fingers before he leans down and puts his head between his legs.
He growls lowly and I sense the self resentment in his aura. I put my hand on his shoulder to encourage him to face me.
“Penny of your thoughts? I heard about Caroline.” My hand rubs his shoulder. He grabs my hand with his own and he moves it towards his mouth.
“Can we please not talk about the loss of one of my people?” He looks me in the eye as he gently kisses my knuckles.
“Of course, what do you want to talk about?”
“I do not know.” Alec huffs. His hold on my hand tightens as he squeezes his eyes shut.
“What are you thinking about?” I try again.
“I love you.” He says as his eyes remain shut. He says it so casually that it causes red flags to appear in my mind.
Did he just say…? I block Accalia before she can say it. I find myself completely and utterly frozen. The three words keep repeating themselves in my head as if a siren is screaming that sentence in my ear.
I remain silent as I stare at him as if his eyes popped out of his face. I want to reply, but I do not know what to say. My alpha mate opens his crystal blue eyes and looks directly into my soul.
“I love you Shadow.” He declares once again. Alec’s eyes begin to turn black. He also moves slightly closer to my body as he patiently waits for my answer.
An awkward silence follows his confession. I recall the conversation I had with Clay about how Alec’s feelings for me are pure and legitimate. I do not doubt his intentions, but I do fear his love’s source. For all I know, these feelings are entirely Amoux’s.
“Honey, look at me.” Alec places his hand on my thigh. I do as he asks.
“I love you, I can feel your uncertainty but I would never say these words if I do not mean them. Perhaps my feelings developed this fast because of the mating bond, but that does not make my love for you any less.” Despite the sincerity in both his voice and his eyes, I still feel scared.
My mouth opens and closes as I try to find the proper words to say. This is one of the few times in my life that I become speechless. I do not want to say the wrong thing, but I also do not want to tell him a lie.
“You do not have to say it back. I know that you do not love me, and it is okay. I do not wish for you to feel obligated to have feelings for me. I just want you to know that Amoux and I love you and we are willing to wait for you until the day we die.” My heart almost stops at his words.
The alpha who sits before me basically declares his commitment for me as I stare at him like he told me that he is a merman.
“Do not hesitate; tell me what is on your mind.” His voice is encouraging. I stare into his crystal blue eyes, they are as blue as the ocean, and they are just as beautiful.
“You know, from the first time I saw you, I have loved your eyes. They just remind me of purity and nature.” I speak my thoughts out loud for my alpha mate to hear.
“Really? I am flattered.” He gives me a wide smile as he lets out a low growl.
“Yeah, and you are right; I am not in love with you.” I avoid looking at him because I am certain that my words hurt him in some way. Thus, I stare at my lap.
“But…” I start, but once again I do not know what to say.
“But what honey?” I feel the change in Alec’s aura as his left foot starts to hit the ground impatiently.
“But, I cannot lie and say that I have not noticed the little things about your personality, and the respect that I have for you.” I harshly I bite on my lip piercing.
You would find interest in soil if it meant not meeting his eyes.
Shut up Accalia!
I am just stating the truth. If I had not missed her so much while she was gone, I would have yelled at her. Although she annoys every cell in my body, I am still relieved that I can hear her in my mind.
How about you shut up and go back to the back of my mind? Even as I try to be mean, I cannot help the smile on my face.
What is the fun in that?
Okay, okay, here is a thought… tell him what you told Clay.
That is actually not the worst idea you have come up with. I mutter in my mind as I think her idea through.
You are welcome. My wolf sarcastically says. That makes me realize that I have always took her for granted; I have always counted on her to be there, and I never once thanked her for everything she has done for me.
Yeah yeah… Accalia dismisses me as she hides in the deepest depth of my mind.
“Shadow?” Alec’s voice gets my attention.
“Are you okay?” He gives me a worried look. The hand that is on my thigh moves away from me as he puts a little space between us.
“Yeah I was just talking with Accalia.” I clarify. I try to make my thoughts more lucid and I organize them in my mind. Sadly, Alec starts talking before me.
“I am glad that you respect me, but I do not expect you to be in love with me, at least not yet. After all, I have to be realistic; we have known each other only for about a month, maybe less.” I wait for a few seconds when I am sure that he has nothing more to say, I take Accalia’s advice and tell him what I told Clay.
“You know, when Nick came to me and asked me to come here and warn you, I have to admit that I did it for me more than I did it for your pack or even for Nick. For years I had dreamed of the day that Clay and I would cross the Red Eclipse border and never look back. Nick and Clay are the only people I loved in that pack, everyone else was judgmental towards me. I never cared about their opinions or words, but that does not mean I did not hate every single one of them. When Nick asked me to come here I saw an opportunity; I did not know what I was going to do after my job here was done, I just knew that I had to exploit the chance.”
“Obviously, things did not go the way you planned.” I glance at his face before I redirect my attention at my countless rings.
“It is not just that; I just… I got to know you and your pack, I got to see how you are different than the Red Eclipse pack.” I start playing with the ring on my left index finger as I struggle to get to the point.
“I do not know when, but I started to have these feelings…”
“You have feelings for me?” Alec interrupts me. I let go of my ring and look him in the eye. I resist the urge to read his expression; I am already perplexed, I cannot afford to add to my confusion.
“I do not know, maybe, I mean yes. I do not know.” I huff as I look up and glare at the sky because it reminds me of the alpha’s eyes.
“I cannot help but notice the smallest things about you. You are peculiar compared to the other alphas out there, you care about every individual in you pack, and you are passionate about your duty as an alpha. I respect and admire you because of all of these things. Not to mention your eyes…” I stop myself before I can say more. However, I remember Clay’s words: 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.
“You seem to really like my eyes.” He gives me a pleased smile.
“I do like your eyes a lot.” I admit with a smile of my own.
“I love that they show your emotion; they represent how fearless you are to demonstrate how scared or sad you are. Although I know that you tend to keep some of your feelings to yourself as you should. One should be open about how one feels, but some emotions are better kept private; I love that you are aware of that.” The alpha growls in pleasure at my words, but I just ignore him as I continue talking.
“When you first kissed me, I think that is when something changed.” I recall our kiss after Amoux told me that I am their mate. I remember how freaked out and shocked I was. Nonetheless, as I look back at this particular memory, I realize how true my words are; something shifted between us that day.
“What changed exactly?” Alec reaches out to pull my hair away from my face when the breeze becomes a little stronger. However, I put my hair behind my ears before he gets the chance. I have always hated clichés. Thus, I refuse to experience anything that can be considered as a cliché.
“I do not know.” I overlook the blush that appears on his cheeks as he retrieves his arm.
“Well, I hope you will figure it out, and if you do, please tell me what you discover.” His voice becomes light; weightless.
“I will, for now, I just want you to know that I want to take a chance.” I finally will myself to say it; I do not know why I am so nervous since he is eager to be with me. Regardless, there is something unknown and mysterious about giving Alec a chance; I believe that this is another thing I am scared of.
“Well, I am glad to hear that. I am grateful in fact especially since you cannot feel the bond.” He lets out a laugh; not a smile but a laugh; a loud one that echoes through the fresh air.
“Does that mean that you are not angry?” He asks once his laughter dies out.
“I admit, that is not how I pictured my marking would happen, but Alec you saved my life. I also see how bad you feel for the way things happened. All we can do is create a better memory.” I look him in the eye as I foresee his reaction to my request.
“Wha… what do you mean?” He clears his throat as his eyes widen in horror at my proposal.
“Shadow…” He starts but I do not give him a chance to object. I put my hand on his shoulder and give it a little comforting squeeze.
“Alec, you already marked me, what is the harm if you do it again?”
“Are you sure you want me to do it for a second time?” The terror in his eyes tells me that he does not want to hurt me.
“If I was not sure, I would not have suggested it.” I give him an encouraging smile.
“Okay.” His hands rub against each other, and I notice the little shaking that is in them. I almost chuckle at how adorable he looks. However, as his eyes start to get darker, I embrace myself for the pure bliss that his fangs will give me once they graze my flesh.