Chapter 1 ~ No Hope Left
Story 1 - He Healed my Heart
Story 2 - She Healed my Heart
Love is one of those cosmic mysteries. It consumes you, all of you, without apology, without reason, and without bias. It doesn’t care what nationality or race you are, whether you’re rich or poor, it holds you within its grasp, through ache, through fear, through rationality, and it rips the ground below your feet, leaving you to thrash wildly within its turbulence. Your only lifeline is hope – hope that they are who you perceive them to be, hope that you are enough, hope that they can feel the same way about you – and sometimes, if you are lucky, you soar on the wings of its magic. Still, when it all crashes, slamming you into the black emptiness of the cold concrete truth, you realise…
Love is an asshole.
It requires commitment, honesty, communication, and perseverance. All of it abandoned my heart many years ago. I was doomed to walk this world alone, an empty shell, desolate and unreachable. I had been overlooked, forgotten, forsaken. Love surrounded me in many forms, my parents, siblings, a grandparent and grandchild, a mother to her young, a man and his father, or that unbreakable enigma that is soul mates.
That dream had been severed, and my heart now thumped a rhythm that would never be returned – a call bellowed out and left unanswered.
I saw my soul mate once, from a distance. I was only nineteen years old, and accompanying Chad Johnson, our Alpha, on a trip to bordering packs, making the necessary introductions as the next in line. We had stopped in a small, quaint town, roughly four hours’ drive from our home. Just out front of the most charming bakery, a handwritten chalkboard boasted the words of having ‘the world’s best apple pies,’ clearly though, my mother owned that title, but we were willing to see what the fuss was about.
I placed one foot upon the sidewalk, sensing a rapid and very drastic change in the atmosphere. A heaviness of familiarity hung from my chest just as my heightened hearing collected the most entrancing laugh; it was the purest sound of clarity, mixed with a sensual rumble – the kind you get when happiness exudes from every pore.
My heart pounded, hands shook, and a soft hum buzzed in my ears – it can’t be? It just can’t be. I had lost my damn mind; surely a simple tone could not leave me so awestruck? – But it did.
I spun on my heels, drastically searching for the offender with this capturing vibration, my hairs stood on ends, and my body flooded with electricity – as though I had just been shocked with 3000 volts of adrenalin. My hands could not stop trembling as my throat cleared of lubrication as my stomach churned, nerves rendering me incapable of speech while I fought to gain control. My eyes darted from face to face, but I could not recognise anyone; they were unknown to me. The crowd of strangers continued to run about, ignoring my presence entirely, yet my senses zinged with alertness, panic, giddiness, anxiety, fear, confusion. I had every tangible emotion sweeping over my body, causing sweat to gather along my skin until finally, my gaze landed upon its intended target.
The peculiar owner of the laugh was unmistakably gorgeous as light glowed behind his angelic form. The air was stripped from my lungs; I struggled to comprehend the magnitude of this significate and blissful moment.
This can’t be true?
He was beautiful, refined, with his short, black, pompadour haircut, strikingly hazel eyes, strong jawline, and plump, full lips, the kind of lips that seared your skin as they nipped at your flesh – all upon the structure of an athletic, god-like herculean male.
Breathe… just breathe.
I whimpered, lost in the hypnotic trance of his handsomeness. The foreigner’s scent drifted past me, carried by the wind as it lured me in, the magnetic draw of Kauri wood and freesia, my favourite mixture of scents that I regularly burned upon my dresser in the oil burner. Of course, my particular smell was blown in the other direction; I doubted that alluring man even knew I stood a mere ten feet from him, but that didn’t bother me, it was him, I was one hundred percent certain – I had found my mate.
His formation tall, at roughly 6ft 4, maybe 5, from what I could deduce, the perfect height for reaching on the tips of your toes as you caressed in erotic passion — the perfect height for me.
Calm down, Lexie… breathe.
But as my mate turned, in his arms he held a tiny pink bundle, smiling down at it lovingly, admiring the package in his embrace with explosive adoration. I was momentarily dumbfounded; maybe he had been blessed with ‘uncle’ status as I’d been given the official position of ‘aunty’ to my brother’s beautiful girls. I pushed the doubt from my mind as I peered in wonder at my forever – it was him, my mate, and that was all I cared about.
Everything about him beamed brightly; he was the sun, the moon, the sea, and the land. This man, I had not even met yet, had single-handedly, become the most crucial person in my life, rendering me breathless and weak.
You’ve got this… just breathe.
I took a step forward, waiting impatiently for the cars to clear a path, inching closer, about to cross the road and go introduce myself with the line: ‘Here I am, the one you’ve been waiting for’, every nerve pinging off the rector scale, flooding new life into my soul. I had never known this exquisite feeling before; it was exactly how my parents described it would be. Your mate, after all, was the reason we existed, completion at nineteen and about to rule the pack as Alpha – how could I possibly be so lucky?
Suddenly, I paled as my heart plummeted.
Dread mixed with a ravishing burn swept over me.
The devastating problem I was now faced with crashed against my body with unwavering torture, maiming the hope that once filled every muscle with unbridled happiness. It disintegrated as though Lucifer himself had visited and ripped apart any chance of me receiving my happily ever after.
Just like every nightmare I’d been informed of, my entire world imploded, plunged into chaos and disarray and I was powerless to stop its destruction.
An unknown woman sauntered over to what was meant to be my perfection, capturing his lips intimately, lips that were crafted for mine. The smiles upon their faces shone brighter than the sun on the hottest day, surrounded in a bubble of what I assumed love to look like.
“No, no,” I cried out, shaking my head in disbelief, shattering apart as I witnessed the couple in a blissful union.
My mate, my forever… had accepted a chosen.
Oh, God, no… no.
The pink bundle in his arms – the baby their love had created.
Pink for a girl, I presumed.
The harrowing, gut-wrenching, agony that replaced the cells within my spirit released in the form of an ear-splitting howl of horrendous loss and incapacitating pain. My broken heart filled with excruciating torture, transforming the light, casual day, into a storminess of unbearable fire, scorching the ground below me.
How could he do this? Why? Why would he?
I couldn’t understand what I was seeing, couldn’t accept that I had been denied the chance of true love.
That day, as hopelessness consumed me and vicious bile rose up the back of my throat, the apparent truth struck me down where I stood.
My life force had been repetitively slashed by the sharpest knife and prised straight from behind my breastbone before being stomped on maliciously.
Why me? Why?
The tears streamed down my cheeks as my chest caved in, the compressing force macerated my vital organs into liquid. “Nnnnnnooooooo!”
I struggled to breathe for a whole new reason, lacked complete ability to think, peel the pieces of myself from the ashes and run in the opposite direction. The suffering that violated my being was unbearable, torment and torture took control of my once happy existence, making way for abusive misery, and unrelenting constriction upon every bone.
This defile of our sacred virtue would be relived forever, scorched against my memory, woven into the membrane.
I was too late – my unbeknown tardiness had ricocheted into a cataclysmic event of punishment and misery.
As the unrestrained tears splashed again and again, and my chin quivered with despair, I took one last longing gaze upon the man that should have been mine, gathering every ounce of strength I could muster and tumbled back into the car we’d arrived in. The world’s best apple pies long forgotten.
My mate had a chosen.
A chosen life partner and a child.
Our rules on relationships, mate pairings, and chosen pairings, were very, very clear – I could not intervene – I had lost my claim to him. I was an Alpha, and upholding our laws and values was something I adhered to seriously – but that day, that haunting, disastrous day, I wanted nothing more than to break apart their coupling, fuck the rules, and steal my future. I couldn’t.
Leivon, my older brother and personal protector, immediately knew something was amiss, rushing to my aid, consoling me the only way he knew how… by wrapping me in his arms as I howled in affliction.
That terrible, earth-shattering, darkened day, six long years ago, was the day I realised… I, Lexie Marcelo, soon to be Alpha, has NO MATE!
“I think we can safely say our time here was a productive one. Thank you, Alpha Lexie.”
I shook the hand of Ravengulf’s Alpha, “no, thank you for coming, Alpha Mapharias. It was a long way to travel, but the growth rate of your pack and the birth of so many vibrant pups gives us hope for the future. Please visit more often. Should your pack members require a holiday destination, they are more than welcome upon our lands.”
He smiled appreciatively, “as are our lands with your pack. Take care,” Mapharias turned to Alpha Chad and shook hands, “thanks Chad, you were right – Lexie is something else.”
Chad chuckled beside me, “Maph, you have no idea just how much this woman will change all of our lives.”
I was used to him praising me, but even after all these years, Chad still managed to make me blush.
“Thought I’d almost lost you there for a moment,” Chad shouldered me playfully the second Ravengulf’s Alpha was out of sight.
“Lose me, never. I’m like a hawk, vigilant and agile.”
“Girlie, you are a mere fledgling. I meant when Maph spoke of the mate pairings.” My gaze fell to my feet; Chad had lost me; I recalled the day I realised I would never be whole. I needed to change the subject, steer this conversation away from my suffering.
“What a battle. To get from where we were to how we are now as shifters...”
“Changing the subject, girlie, just like your mum. Look, I know you’ve been through so much horrendous hurt, but it’s made you stronger, inspirational. You will make an incredible Alpha, Lexie – I’ve always believed that.”
“Thank you, my friend.”
“Just one more thing, girlie…”
I laughed, “oh yeah? And that is? Wait, don’t tell me, you’re sending me to Hawaii, all expenses paid. Thank you, Alpha, I do deserve a holiday. It was nice of you to notice.”
Chad’s smile broadened, “huh, if anyone gets a holiday it’s me. Lessons. Now. Back of the shop after you collect Glen.”
I groaned, “but-but… look at what we did… we unified two opposing packs… doesn’t that at least account for a day’s respite?”
I knew I was whining, “nope.” Dammit. I stuck two fingers in the air, behind the Alpha as he retreated, giving Chad a silent ‘up yours’, only, I really should have known better. “I can see that, Lexie Marcelo.”
I loved that man, he had stood by me just like my entire family as I slowly pieced my fracture soul back together, which I’ll admit, took longer than I thought it would, but eventually, I found some semblance of happiness again, and after five years of brokenness, I was finally ready to resume the mission I had begun all those years ago.
As I made my way through the town, I took in the prosperity of our fruitful community. We were thriving as a species within this world of human’s, and it was warming to see that hardship, and years of work blossom.
Yes, we were still a secret, but our kind was flourishing, and for the almost eradication of our breed, that was a triumph worth celebrating.
As I rounded the fence to Glen’s home, my Beta, I heard his mother call from the washing line. “Afternoon, Lexie.”
“Good afternoon, Mrs Rogers.”
“How’d the talks go with the Ravengulf Alpha?” Cameron Rogers, the mother of my beta, and human, just like my mother.
“Great, we have another ally should we need it, also established another safe colony to visit.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful news. Look at you, changing the world for the better – females rule this world.”
“Huh,” I snorted, “just doing my job, unlike your son.”
“Oh Lord, please pry those two idiots away from the soccer match, I swear to God I will break the T.V. one of these days.”
“I’m just here to collect Glen; we have lesson’s, not to get involved in family squabbles.”
“Someone with sanity, thank you, Jesus.” Cameron threw her hands skyward in praise.
“Uh, I believe my names, Lexie, Mr’s Rogers, not Jesus.”
“Everyone’s a bloody comedian,” she sneered as I snickered, entering the Rogers family house. Cameron was my mother’s friend, and surprisingly enough, the sonographer that captured the very first pictures of me inside my mother’s stomach.
“Oh, c’mon, how could you bloody miss that?” Glen screeched at the top of his lungs.
“This is ludicrous, what are they doing, playing with their eyes shut?” Flank growled.
“Who’s winning then?” I interrupted.
“Lexie, you won’t believe it. Castlemain is kicking our asses,” Glen howled.
“Really? That’s because Manchester sucks, they’ve been playing like they’ve been wearing heels on the grounds all season.”
“You take that back, Lexie Marcelo. You take that back right now.” Glen warned me.
“No way, It’s the truth. Levi is contemplating switching teams after their shocking performance.”
“That is blasphemy, Lex.”
“Right, that’s it. I’m calling Spence – he needs to reign in that son of his,” Flank grumbled, grabbing his mobile and dialling, what I presumed was my father. “How are our boys meant to win without our loyal support… Spence, you’re a bastard…”
“I can’t even look at you right now, how are we friends, Lex?”
“We, Glen, are not friends. I am the next Alpha, and you are my beta, and we are late.”
“Sometimes you say the most hurtful things.” I chuckled at Glen’s remark. “Do we really have to go to leader lesson’s now?” I nodded my answer. “Dammit, of all the days, does Chad not realise how important this game is?”
“I don’t think he cares Glen. I’m pretty sure your ass will be handed to you if you skip it though.”
“Far out, I’ve taken a beating only once in my life by Alpha, during training, and that was enough to scare the willies out of me. Alright, I’m convinced… Dad, I’m heading to Chad’s.”
“What!? The game isn’t even finished, son.” Flank concentrated on his phone call. “This is your influence, Spence; you better get a handle of those kids of yours…” I snickered as Glen, and I exited the house.
The fact that no one in this town was really supportive of soccer until Levi began to play was hilarious, they behaved as though it was born from here.
“Who knew Flank was so passionate about a game?”
“Uh, it’s a guy thing, you wouldn’t understand the level of devotion we men possess.”
“Uh-huh,” I murmured sarcastically.
“It’s true, Lex, men may pretend to be emotionless creatures, but we are highly in tune with the balance of the universe.”
“Oh, god, tell me that is not the line you use on girls, Glen?”
“Well, everyone except you falls for my charm.”
I rolled my eyes, “and that’s a good thing, we have an important job.”
My beta scoffed, “we need robots, Lex. Robots that look like us, they haven’t been invented yet, have they?”
“Why, Glen? Oh, I shouldn’t have asked, but now I’m committed. Why do we need robots?”
“So, we don’t have to show up at these ridiculous training sessions.”
I laughed. I loved our town; its people, and all the quirky personalities. This was my goal in life now. To protect everything I loved until my very last breath.
The residents of Clarkson Glades - wolf or human - were my everything.