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Chapter 7

A/N: I am updating this week too! Wow! I never thought I could do it.

The jeep stopped before the house I pointed. The sluggish evening zephyr rolled around the abandoned road and the front yard. Some birds sang a song for the twilight and retreated.

“This is where he lives?” Niran asked, cutting the engine.

I nodded. “Why? Is it bad?”

“No,” he said. “Never expected the Epsilon to have a garden.”

I sighed and got off the jeep. “This garden is maintained by Bhuppa. His sister.”

Niran nodded and came out. For someone who wore a confident facade, he was sweating bullets. Suppressing a smile, I took my bag from the jeep and entered the front gate. As my face was recorded, the gates opened when they saw me. Since I was on the trusted list, Niran was able to come.

From the scents in, I knew that Apinya and Cintna were in there. I pressed my thumb against the biometrics and the door opened for me. The house was pristine clean and Apinya was laying on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and was watching some action movie. On the contrast, Cintna, Wirat’s mother, was in the kitchen baking a chocolate cake.

The glass windows allowed the staggering sunlight to enter in an angle. When that pale orange light hit the pale green floor, it shone in soft pink. There was something odd about Rune’s house.

Upon seeing me, Cintna’s face lit up. “Look who decided to show their face here!” After a minute, she blinked. “You’re alive?”

I moved a step aside and Niran was standing there awkwardly. Seeing the new fellow, Apinya immediately got up and straightened her clothes.

“Who is this?” she asked in a guarded voice. After a second, she said, “Is this Torre?”

I snorted mentally. Torre? That male was an example of perfection. He oozed confidence that I wanted to revel in. It was not just his eyes, I concluded. It was the intensity behind it. Not just the way his physique was, it was the way he carried himself. Niran, on the other hand, was a good-looking male, but for me, no one could beat Taurus.

“Niran Chankul,” I answered. “He is not Torre.”

Apinya nodded. “Okay. Why did you bring him here? With Dave’s temper these days, ask him to-”

“Dave’s temper these days?” I asked. “What do you mean?”

Apinya sighed. “Dave is going to host a ball in a week. And... he thinks just signing a few papers is a head-breaking job.”

Niran glanced at the two females with an innocent expression. Then, he stood before the former epsilon. “You must be Apinya Bidaya.”

She gave him a long look. “Yes. I am. What do you want?”

Niran smiled. “I am-”

“He works for Torre,” I interrupted.

Cintna gasped and placed the cake on the tabletop and sat on the sofa. “So... Torre is not dead?”

I recalled that vivid silver eyes. “No.”

Apinya’s calm demeanour broke. “Wait. Torre is not dead. And you are still alive. You must have attempted to kill him, if not, how could this vampire stand next to you?”

Niran smirked. “Draco did save Torre.”

“Huh?” Cintna asked.

“A bellboy, whom we later discovered to be a pathetic excuse of an assassin from North Pack shot bullets that could potentially Torre. But Draco... he managed to push Torre away and take those bullets for him. Don’t ask me why he did,” Niran said when they gave him a look of disbelief. “Ask him.”

Before I could answer, Lawan entered the house with Erica and Rune on her heels.

As Niran expected, the second Rune entered, the Epsilon froze. That was the first time I saw Rune losing his composture. He inhaled sharply and locked his eyes with the vampire who brought me to Summer Coven.

Niran was right, after all.

Lawan glanced between the two and she frowned. “Are you both going to stare into each other’s eyes for the rest of the day?”

“I would love to,” Niran said with a wide grin. “Look at those eyes, female. The perfect shade of milk chocolate, the one that will definitely make you crave it again. The one that will give you cavities. It has that slight gradation from darker to lighter. I almost mistook the ring just out his pupil to be the colour of honey. Did you see that black ring? The kind of circle you will put it around something important. Those flecks! By Kamaria! It tells me how many secrets he has if I could count them. I really do want to know each of them personally. And-”

“Enough!” Rune said, flustering.

That was the first time I ever saw that faint pink colour over his cheeks. Someone liked being complemented by their mate.

Erica’s jaws dropped. “Are you both mates?”

While Rune was still in shock, Niran’s grin became wider. “A big yes.”

“Well,” Lawan said. “His description does make me crave chocolate now.” Looking at her mother-in-law, she asked, “Can I take some cake now?”

Cintna shook her head. “That is for Kyan.”

“Kyan is coming?” I asked.

“Who is that?” Niran asked.

“My cousin,” Rune said, moving closer to Niran. Then he looked at me. “He is.”

I nodded my head.

With a soft smile on his face, Niran pulled Rune closer to him and hugged him tightly. I lowered my gaze. When Rune said he was going to change his rug, I never thought he would do it seriously, changing it from dark blue to light green. That must be the difference I saw when I entered the house.

“Never in my life did I expect Rune to find his mate,” Lawan commented, coming and standing next to me.

“Niran found out,” I said in a cool voice.

“How so?”

“Omicron Mali gave me a silver band to save myself if I was caught. Rune held it for a minute,” I said. “Niran guessed Rune to be his mate.”

“Wow,” Lawan said. “His sense of smell must be amazing.”

“So was my tracking sense,” I whispered in her ears.

Lawan stiffened next to me. “What are you talking about?”

“About that mail, you sent to someone named Fia?” I asked, folding my arms.

“H-how could you-”

“He saved Torre.” Niran cut in, giving Lawan a sharp look, all the while holding a stilled stunned Rune gently. “What else did you expect us to do? Slash his throat and kill him?”

“What do you mean?” Rune asked, snapping from his daze.

“Draco took bullets for Torre,” Niran said. “That’s why this delay. Else, we would have come here earlier. Jarred would not let us go.”

“Jarred?” Erica asked for the first time ever since she entered Rune’s house. “As is Reish Jarred, under Zayin Zach?”

Niran blinked. “The Jarred I know is a warlock who is a doctor. Who is about seven hundred years old.”

“Oh!” Erica mumbled. “My apologies.”

“Don’t bother,” Niran said.

Rune, who was still in his mate’s embrace, narrowed his eyes at him. “What do you mean Draco took bullets for Torre?”

Niran blinked. “Someone tried to shoot Torre and then Draco pushed him away and took the bullets?”

“He’s healed?” Erica asked. When I gave her a look of disbelief, she shrugged. “I mean... he is an unshifted werewolf. How could he heal so fast?”

Niran rested his head on Rune’s shoulder and wound his hands around Rune’s waist. “He did not even scar.”

The fact that Rune was a couple of inches taller than Niran, and that vampire was standing on his toes to rest his head on his mate’s shoulder was cute. I could literally see heart eyes in Erica’s face.

“Miraculous,” Rune muttered. “Absolutely miraculous.”

An uncomfortable silence fell over us. The sun out finally left its seat for the day and a half-moon shone over the land with apathy. It was the stars that peaked next to the moon that gave light to the sky. Had we been in the deeper parts of the coven, the lights from the labs, malls and other buildings would have diminished this natural lights.

“What was that mail issue about?” Cintna asked.

Niran looked around. “We received a mail regarding how Somsak, this Coven’s Zeta was illegally smuggling a few illegal items. Since, Torre... well, you could say was on the council who made some decisions for the law when the Royals were alive, he decided to take action.”

Rune narrowed his eyes at the Theta. “You gave the information?”

Lawan raised her head high. “I did. Got a problem, Rune?”

“Watch your tone, female,” Niran warned.

That was something else entirely. All my life, I had seen Rune stand up for many people. People he knew and did not. He stood up for them if he knew that they were innocent, or if they were they did not deserve what they were getting. He had been by my side for me for so many times.

I was truly ashamed to admit that there had never been a single instance where I could have supported him. Seeing Niran reprimand Lawan, though she was Rune’s good friend, warmed my heart. It was that kind which would make you squeal in delight seeing. The kind where you would want to curl your toes in its cuteness.

“I am his friend,” Lawan said, not caring about Niran. “I know him for more than thirty years!”

“You can know a person for a century and still don’t find a connection,” Niran said. “You can also meet someone just then you will find all the forces of the universe binding you both. I am his mate. I want to be the one whom he will take into first consideration on every major decision he takes. Problem?”

Lawan shrugged. “Still. You know nothing about him. Absolutely nothing. What makes you think that you are worthy of my friend Rune here?”

What was wrong with her? Just because she had a nice life with her mate does not mean Rune could give up his chance of happiness. I had never seen Lawan behave like this.

“If I am worthy or not,” he said. “It is up to my mate to decide. Who are you to come between us?”

Before Lawan could open her mouth Rune intervened. “Lawan. Enough. You can test him later.”

She snorted and folded her arms. “I bet this guy’s friend will test you. Why can’t I?”

Was she this protective over her friends?

“Protective much, huh?” Erica commented.

Apinya and Cintna just shared a look and they remained neutral, but I could see faint amusement in Rune’s mother’s eyes. Apinya then switched the television off.

“I am,” Lawan said. “I am protective. Problem?”

Erica shook her head. “Does that mean... I will face the same problem as Rune?”

Lawan nodded her head without hesitation. “Remember, I was the one who taught Draco how to hold a gun. It’s just that, he had a knack for it that he aced me in shooting, okay? I can still score a clean ten when I am in range. Want to bet?”

Cintna laughed. “I pray that your kid gets this gene. If he or she gets Wirat’s, I know they will be lounging on the couch all day and do nothing. I have faith in my son.”

Apinya shook her head and sat down and took her bowl of popcorn and began to eat.

“I pity your mate, Erica,” I said.

“You should pity yours more,” Lawan said, sitting on the chair near Cintna and crossed her legs. I looked at her in disbelief and she waved her hand. “You are still like a kid in my eyes. To be honest, I know I will be a mamma bear over you.”

I blinked and found no words to reply to her. She knew how sensitive I was to the topic of mates. Especially mine. Lawan had been one of the people who saved me from me. If not for her that day, there would be my photo hanging on the wall with insense sticks burned before it in my mother’s room.

“True,” Lawan said. “Kessa will be too. Zoya... do I need to ask? I and I bet, even Mali.”

It was then, Niran sat on the sofa on the other side and pulled Rune so that the still stunned Epsilon fell on him.

“Stop it,” Rune warned.

“And if I don’t want to?” Niran whispered in his ears.

Knowing that none were humans here, Niran had told in that voice purposefully. I shared a glance with Erica who shared my feelings.

“As much as I love my son,” Apinya said. “I don’t want to see him get handsy with his mate. At least wait until we all leave.”

There was a second pause before Niran said, “You mean to say that Rune lives here alone?” No one could miss the excitement in his voice.

I sat next to a quietly seated Erica.

“I don’t-” Rune began.

“I will go out tonight,” Apinya said. “It has been a long time since I went on a date with my mate. I might as well not come back.”

Cintna smirked. “Lucky-”

“Too much information, mom,” Rune grumbled.

Apinya narrowed her eyes at her son. “I am seeing you laying on your mate, with strong scents of both your desires saturating this room. Want me to add something more?”

Rune’s cheeks coloured again.

“Can,” Erica began in the suddenly silent room. “Can we talk about that email?”

Lawan sighed. “Here I thought this female was a friend of mine.”

“I am!” Erica protested. “You never told us what you were doing.”

I looked at the Theta. “Do you have something to say?”

“Mali and I were working on this,” she said, looking away.

Well, that was the last thing I expected her to say.

“Mali?” Rune asked, a slight frown on his face. “She is involved in this too?”

“She was the one who started it,” Lawan said. “I was just being faithful to my Omicron.”

“What was she doing?” Apinya asked, her eyes sharp. Like she had a clue on what her daughter was up to.

Lawan looked down. “Forced marking took a toll on Mali. Hence, she had to heal her soul and that’s why her powers took time to manifest.”

Erica balanced her face on the heel of her hand and her elbows on her things. “I thought Omicron Mali’s powers were weak illusions.”

Lawan gave us a thin, tired, smug smile. “She is born to Apinya Bidaya. You think her powers were that’s all?”

“What are they?” I asked.

Lawan sighed. “Her illusions are strong enough to change the reality and sometimes, if she concentrates hard, even the past.”

“What?” Apinya’s eyes widened. “My daughter can do that?”

Lawan nodded. “All the people Draco is sent to kill are murderers and criminals. The ones whose names are registered in the Halls. When Dave gets a request to kill someone, Mali changes it to someone from the Halls’ criminal list. In a way, Mali had employed Draco and Dave had been paying him.”

I blinked. While Mali did make me kill the criminals, why would she make me feel guilty? I had been thinking that I was killing innocent people all this time. I was hating myself. There were points in my life that I wanted to put that bullet through me than at those innocents. Why would she make me feel this way? She could have told me to preserve my sanity.

The truth was out now, yes. But the damage was already done. How could I ever bring myself to trust her? All my life was a lie. What? Next, would she say that my mate had been an illusion too?

Others were thinking how powerful she was and I was feeling nothing but hollowness in me. She could have told me to lessen the guilt, the pain.

Rune’s jaws dropped. “She is that powerful?”

Lawan nodded. “And when she learnt about Somsak, she could not help but be quiet. We sent a message to the Halls regarding this and as you know with Boonsri’s brother working there, it was deleted. We had to take a measure. So... I sent it to Torre.”

Niran frowned. “If... if Mali was changing Draco’s targets, then why was Draco sent to kill Torre?”

Lawan looked down. “Because of the Haze. Whenever Haze hits her, because of the false bond she has with Dave, it takes a toll on her. It splits her apart. The entire week, she nearly dies and comes back. That’s why she was unable to change it.”

Rune inhaled sharply and then suddenly stood up. “Who does she think she is?” He began to pace around. “Why would she think that no one would help her?”

“Well,” the Theta began. “She had me... and Wirat.”

Cintna nearly blanched. “My son? He is involved?”

Lawan nodded. “Wirat knew.”

“Why would my daughter not say a word to me?” Apinya asked, placing the popcorn bowl next to her. “I had always wanted to help her and-”

“Planning things against the Omicron,” Lawan said. “You know it is punishable by death in this coven.”

“I would rather die,” she snarled. “Than see my daughter die by that bastard’s hand.”

“Soon, Auntie,” Lawan said. “Soon. Mali did find out that Dave was not her mate and he had forced a bond on her. She is waiting to strike.”

“He is not?” Rune asked, pausing his pace. “I can kill him then! It won’t hurt Mali.”

“If you do,” Lawan said. “Then we would not know who is actually behind all this.”

“What do you mean?” Erica asked.

Lawan sighed and got up from her seat. There was certain tiredness in her form, yet there was a fire burning bright in her brown eyes.

“You traced the roots back to Autumn pack and South tribe, right?” Lawan asked. “It traces back even further. Fifty years ago, there was a shake in the Royal family. King Atticus’ mother, Queen Vinera was weakened in a fight and her mate, left everything to stay by her side. In his negligence, a power grew. He was Alpha Jackson. For reasons unknown, he had a daughter, but nothing was known of his mate. He was not satisfied with one daughter. He wanted more children. Unfortunately, he could not have any children. You know how it is with mates. Once you have a child with them, you cannot have a child with another unless the bond between the mates breaks or the other mate dies.”

Lawan twisted the ring Wirat gave her last year for her birthday. “He was the one who started this project. He found a substance growing in Taherah, fifty nautical miles from North Coast. That substance could alter anyone’s genes to the wishes of the one who gives them.”

When we all looked at her in a confusing way, she frowned.

Then after a minute, she said, “Let me put it this way. If I gave that drug to Dave. And I wanted him to turn to a duck, he will turn to a duck on my command. The genes it changed, could be so easily controlled.”

“Fuck,” Erica swore softly. “Does that mean... if he gives the drug to a female and commands her biology to carry his children, she will?”

Lawan nodded. “She will. But will she carry it to full term or will the fetus be aborted, it is up to the physique of the female.”

“By Moon’s Realm!” Niran said, shuddering. “I never expected this to have so much monstrosity behind it.”

“And...” Lawan began. ”This substance is being imported. The one who oversees this import is Somsak and Devin. Devin is under the protection of Alpha Harper of West Pack. We have to approach that guy delicately. As for... Somsak, he is the major head. Cut him off and we can control the situation.”

“What if like a Hydra,” I asked. “You cut a head and two replaces it?”

Lawan looked grim. “We have to take chances. We cannot just... sit here and do nothing.”

“Do you understand what you are telling?” Rune asked, his voice higher than it usually was. “Do you know what a big deal this is?”

Lawan nodded. “I do.”

“Damn it!” Rune said. “I don’t think you do.”

“Trust me, Rune,” Lawan said. “I do.”

“All that apart,” Apinya said, sitting up straighter. “Where did you get this information from?”

“One night,” Lawan said. “We met a male at the bar. Mali said she sort of knew him. He told us all of this. And when we were talking, another male came up and he confirmed it.”

“Who are they?” I asked.

Lawan shook her head. “I don’t know who the female is. But the first male we spoke to, he said his name was Gaelan. He always had his hood up, so, we were not able to see his face. And the second male who confirmed it, he said he was Nox. But for the recent two years, we had been dealing only with Nox. No news of Gaelan.”

Niran made a choking noise. “Nox as in the one with silver eyes?”

Lawan looked into Niran’s eyes and calmly nodded. “That one. The one who is a star.”

A/N: What do you think will happen now?

And in the next chapter... someone familiar will appear. Guess who! (This is the part where Aries and Taurus overlap for a brief period.)

What do you think of Lawan, Rune and Niran?

Do you like Lawan?

Leave your thoughts below!


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