The excitement within the pack was materializing into the air. It was infectious and nobody could stop breathing--raving about him. For one year their Alpha went away to train. There had been no news from him until now.
He has returned.
I was an orphaned wolf, adopted to the pack when the Luna found me eating a half-eaten hamburger in a dark alleyway in the human city. At first, it was hard for me to trust anyone but can you blame me though? I lived my life fighting for my life since I was eight. My parents have died tragically through a wolf attack in front of my eyes. I was the only person who survived. It was hard for me to trust anyone except for Lucien.
When I first met Lucien, I had unknowingly formed a small but instant attachment to him. One of the very first thing I remembered about him was his kindness. He spoke softly and wisely for someone his age. Always taking decisions and his duties seriously.
However, we didn’t truly get to know each other until much later.
When we first met, we only exchanged a few words, nothing more than a few sentences. We knew each other by name because Lucien was the Alpha’s only son and heir to the pack. He was always a very busy person and was very popular amongst the pack members.
When I arrived in the pack, I lived in the packhouse and entered the same school like everyone else. I was treated fairly and granted access to anything that I would like to do. Lucien’s mother took me in and treated me like her very own daughter.
Lucien and I didn’t become good friends until we were sixteen when we were stuck in a sticky situation where I had to quickly save Lucien from getting yelled at by his father. Ever since that one chance interaction, we became closer than ever. Lucien’s trust in me grew more and more every day we spent together.
After Lucien turned eighteen, he traveled outside of the pack and halfway through the year to take care of matters at home. When he turned twenty-five, he received an imposing opportunity to trained underneath the King’s elite generals.
Now, he has returned.
A sudden commotion to her left stopped me in my morning training. Sweat dripped down my muscular, toned body. My dark raven curls sticking to my skin as I breathed heavily. He isn’t supposed to be back for another three hours but the sudden running of people to the front of the home was a clear indication that someone important has arrived.
I dropped the stick I had in my hand. My heart thudded against my ribcage with each animated step that I took. I didn’t care that all I wore was my black sports bra and tight black workout capris. I did have a dress I planned to put on but now, that didn’t matter. What mattered was seeing him again.
I could hear people laughing and excited talk. Everyone is talking about him. I pushed through the pack members. My heartbeat could be heard through my eardrum. It was that loud outside. I was that excited.
When I emerged upon the scene, my smile grew when I saw him. He stood in front of everyone dressed in dark blue denim, a dark grey Henley, underneath a leather jacket. His dark brown hair swept back with an unkempt indifference. Those light grey eyes swept down the line of his pack and the kind smile that touched his lip was transmitting to everyone around him. It was infectious and the air buzzed with happiness.
Then the door behind him opened and my heart stopped beating. My smile slipped and suddenly I am feeling something else other than excitement.
The ginger hair beauty with flawless porcelain skin walked over to Lucien. When he saw her approaching, he opened his arms out to her. She melts into the groove of his arm and I felt my world crumbling slowly around me.
His eyes swept the crowd again, but his eyes were a lot happier now with the woman in his arms until it landed on me. His eyes refocused until it flashed with recognition and then the happiness dimmed a little. His smile slipped just a bit before he smiled again.
I forced a smile on my face. It is clear that the woman in his arm is his mate. He came back with his mate. Unfortunately for me, I will never get to experience the feeling of the destined mate bond. I felt pain in her chest at age seventeen. At that time, Lucien was still undergoing the trails under the elite generals. I suffered through the severance of the mate bond the whole night alone-feverish, sweats, and immense pain.
We stood staring at each other with smiles on our face but neither moved because things were different now. His smile was soft and loving while mine was faked and forced. Lucien has a mate and I know my place which is no longer next to him. I knew this day would come but I never expected it would hurt this much. It felt like someone had ripped my soul apart.
The ginger hair beauty ran her hand up Lucien’s chest possessively earning his attention. He looked back down at her and then back at the crowd. He spoke to everyone. It was loud and clear, but all I could hear was the sound of rushing water. Every noise or sound is tuned out. My ears are ringing. My blood is rushing to my heart, hoping to jumpstart it again. The throbbing pain in my chest hurts more than ever. It is not the mate bond, but it is the pure, true love I have for Lucien. I lost him to another. He was never mine, to begin with.
That word entered my mind. I read it on his lips. He uttered the word ‘mate’. The ginger hair beauty smile grew wider. She turned to everyone and flashed them a world winning smile. Straightening her back and allowing everyone to look at her from top to bottom. This is our Luna. She is dressed extravagantly in a skin tight red body-con dress that stopped short just above her butt. Her red heels were at least three inches high.
She’s beautiful and she looks perfect next to Lucien. If I stood next to her, I would look like a plain Jane with my dark features. Casting my eyes away, I walked away before I lost my composure and cried in front of everyone.
People allowed me through, not paying attention to me at all. I kept my eyes downcast. I couldn’t look at them any longer. I had to get away. Tears were already slipping, and I will make a fool out of myself.
When I finally stepped out of the happy circles. I made a dash for the packhouse. Entering, I ran straight up the stairs and into my room. Slamming the door closed, I collapsed onto the bed.
“It’s not fair,” I cried into the pillow, muffling my sobs as much as possible.
Curling up into a fetal position, I clutched the pillow to my chest in comfort. Crying and holding onto it for dear life. I love a man who has a mate. I am the other woman that people hated. I am the one who didn’t know my place and foolishly fell in love.
“This isn’t fair,” I choked out, finding it hard already to speak.
Then I heard familiar footsteps. Ones that I have memorized by heart. Immediately, I shot out of bed and rushed to the door, clicking the lock into place with a quickness. Wiping my tears, I stared at the doorknob, watching it turn before he realized I had locked him out.
He knocked on the door.
“Raven?” He said from behind the door.
I pressed my palm over my mouth and took a step back. I missed his voice. It is low and raspy.
“Raven? I know you are in there. Open up. I want to see you. I want to hug you,” he teased.
I knew if I didn’t stop him, he would find a way to get in. He always does.
“I-I’m undressed,” I uttered out hesitantly.
There was a long pause on the other end and I hoped to god he believes me. Then I heard him back away from the door but can still feel him on the other side.
“Will you be at the celebration tonight?” he asked, and I can hear how much he wanted to see me.
I wanted to die and bury myself elf in a shell, but I knew that if I did that everyone will know. I needed to maintain my reputation as his friend. I needed to keep up with my act. I can’t show anybody that I love him. They will shun me, and I will be even more alone.
“Yes,” I replied.
He chuckled happily on the other end.
“I really miss you, Raven.”
“I miss you too,” I whispered and took a step closer to the door. I felt something lodge itself in my throat. My voice sounded hoarser than usual.
“Why did you leave? Why didn’t you come to me? I wanted to hug you,” he said.
“I-I stunk. I ran from my training session. I didn’t even stop to shower when I saw everybody running to you,” I told half the truth.
“I wouldn’t have minded. You know I wouldn’t have. I have hugged you when a skunk-”
“You don’t have to remind me,” I replied with a sad smirk, remembering old memories.
He laughed on the other side of the door and I felt him press a hand to the door. I inched closer and placed my hand over it. I can hear him breathing.
“I have a mate,” he repeated to me alone, making me realize even more how far we have come but how far apart we will be now.
“I know. I am happy for you, Lucien.” My voice dropped at the end.
“Are you?” he asked.
“What kind of question is that?” I frowned. Did he not trust me?
“Nothing,” he breathed in response and I thought I heard a pinch of sadness in his own voice.
I removed my palm from the door and took a step back. Distance is what I needed. From now on, I will keep a distance from him. This will stop me from loving him further. I will love him from afar. I will not cross the boundary and be the other woman who didn’t know her place. I want him to be happy and I will be there when he needs me but that is all I can give him.
Things were different now.
“I’ll see you tonight.” I ended the conversation, needing to be alone once again and lick my wounds.
He didn’t move from behind the door, but I turned my back to him and walked into my private bathroom. Closing the door, I stripped naked and got into the shower. In there, I drowned my pain and sorrow through tears and the sound of the shower.