The Rise

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Chapter Thirty-Three

“How are we going to tell him?” I asked Valerio. He sat across from me with his arms folded across his chest, gazing at the leaves falling from the trees outside my window.

I had been too caught up with trying to figure out who we could trust and who we couldn’t, I had forgotten about telling Ayodele that his sister betrayed this pack. He mindlinked me a few minutes ago, telling me that he was on his way up to deliver good news. The only thing was that I had bad news for him.

How could I tell a man who was going to die for me that his sister - his only sister, the one he trusted with all of his heart - betrayed me?

Valerio’s gaze had drifted from the window to me. He smiled a bit, his eyes hazy. It looked like he was in his own little world, thinking about who-knows-what.

I snapped my fingers a few times. “Hello? Valerio?”

Valerio shook his head. “Sorry, I was just thinking.”

“Care to share?”

He smile turned into a grin. “No.” I arched a brow, but let it pass - for now. He sat up, becoming more serious. “We just have to tell Ayodele. Don’t hide it from him.”

Ayodele knocked on my door. “Moon Goddess.”

I internally groaned. The bringer of bad news - that should be my new title. I sat up. “Come in.”

When he entered the room, I pressed my lips together. There was no way I was going to try to fake happiness for him. We had a major problem and he did deserve to know about it.

He noticed our quietness and stood next to Valerio. “Is something wrong? The guards seem to be very alert this morning.”

Well, here goes nothing. “Someone in our pack betrayed us.”

His eyes widened. “Who?” He shook his head. “How?”

I chewed on the inside of my lip and gazed at Valerio for answers. He gazed at me back, completely unhelpful. I sighed. “She went behind my back to help her mate steal the skull from me. Then, she proceeded to hand it over to Aeron.”

Ayodele’s eyes darkened. “Who? Who would do such a thing? Whoever did deserves to be punished.”

Valerio pulled out the chair next to him and urged Ayodele to sit. “Why don’t you take a seat?”

Ayodele eyed the chair for a moment, then sat. “Do I know this woman? Is it…” He took a deep breath. “Is it Aaisha?”

I raised my eyebrows, surprised that he would bring her up first. She was my closest friend and she was a bit… crazy… at times, so I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised. But Aaisha had been here from Day 1 and had lost her mate.

“No,” I stated clearly. I took a deep breath. “Okay, Ayodele. I don’t know how to say this, but Nakida did this.”

All emotions from his face faded. Then he shook his head, his lips in a tight line. “No. No, she couldn’t.” He gazed over at Valerio who frowned. “No.” He shook his head again, standing up.

When he realized that we were both telling the truth, he parted his lips slightly. “My sister did this? Nakida?”

I closed my eyes for a brief moment. “Yes.”

His jaw clenched. “She did it for her mate - that Vihaan guy?” He turned his back toward me, walking toward the other side of the room. “I told her that he was not good for her.”

Valerio gave me a look that said didn’t we all.

“He has broken her heart too many times to be good for her. Now, he has gotten her into trouble.” His fists clenched by his side. “Trouble that should be punishable by death.” His voice rose. “How stupid could she be?”

Death. That was the punishment that I wanted to think about, but I refused to allow myself until now. Betrayal wasn’t something to take lightly, especially when it threatens a species’ whole existence. But could I sentence my friend to death? Too many of my family and friends had died and I had helplessly sat and watched. Now, a life of a friend was in my hands.

Could I kill her? I could in an instant. Did I have it in my to take her life away? I wasn’t sure.

Would it break me to slaughter one of my own? Would it be hard to act like my mother or Damon? I shook my head. She had given strength to the enemy. She had given put every single pup in danger of getting taken and drained.

I clenched my fist. I should end her life for this, I should make her suffer for this, I should-

“Remember what we talked about months ago, Mae,” Valerio mindlinked me. “You are not your mother.”

I took a deep breath. No, I wasn’t my mother. I made Valerio promise me that he would never let me stoop down to her level. I couldn’t act on pure emotion. I needed the right punishment for her based on facts and her behavior.

“But that doesn’t mean she deserves a holy treatment, Mae.” Valerio gazed at me, his jaw clenched now too. My gaze traveled to Ayodele who was now pacing in the back of the room, whispering something to himself. “She betrayed you and she needs to be punished for her mistakes. Your mother would do this, yes. But your mother would do much more for far less.”

“So, a proper punishment?”

Valerio was quiet. “That is your decision, not mine.”

I leaned back in my chair and rested my head against it. With big responsibility comes even bigger decisions. Never did I foresee myself making the decision to torture or punish my friend in any way. I always looked up to Nakida in a sense. She was strong, but I guess not strong enough.

Ayodele walked back to the chair and sat down. His jaw was still clenched, but he was visibly less angry. “Please, Moon Goddess, let me know what you plan to do with her.”

“I will.” I nodded. After thinking long and hard about it, I will. “Now, what is the good news that you bring?”

He took a few moments to gather himself. “After many, many, many tries, I finally contacted Sun. I told her our situation with Aeron and the Hunter. She has agreed to meet with you to talk about the… forced eclipse.”

“When?”

“Next Sunday. I will accompany you, if you would like.”

I gave him a half-hearted smile. “I would love that.”

A/N This book will be COMPLETED on Patreon today! If you want to check it out, click "Support Me" in my bio <3 I've also began updating Lucifer's Reign and Betraying the Mafia on there as well!

Destiny

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