Chapter FIVE: Selling your soul to the Devil
“What are you staring at doofus?” I snap. If it wasn’t bad enough that Ellis and his father have stormed from the room without giving us an explanation to what’s going on, I’m now alone with Max. Quite possibly the only wolf in the entire pack I’d rather be away from. Especially after that chivalrous bullshit he pulled just now. I don’t know what he was thinking trying to take the blame.
Even though it is mostly his fault.
“I think... Maybe... We should have that talk.” He stammers, rubbing at his arm nervously. He shuffles his feet slightly under my intense gaze. His lips have pulled into a crocked smile making his eyes sparkle. I snap my gaze from his lips to the lock of curly blonde hair falling down in the center of his forehead. I really want to reach out and comb it back into place, but I restrain myself. I’m not going to fall into that trap again.
“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!” I scream, satisfied when Max physically leaps back away from me and almost collides with the shelves behind him. “YOU’VE HAD THREE FREAKING YEARS, MAXWELL! Why the sudden interest in me?” I add a little calmer. “And DON’T say it’s because Ellis asked you to do it.” I jab a finger into his chest, but he does nothing to stop me. He doesn’t even flinch. In fact, if I didn’t know Max better, I’d say he looks a little sad.
“Steph, I honestly don’t know what you want me to say.” He looks so sincere I almost believe him. “We were both still kids back then. Never in my wildest dreams did I mean to hurt you.”
“You could have fooled me.” I cross my arms over my heaving chest defensively. “Especially after I caught you with your tongue down that slags throat.”
Max winces. Good. I want him to feel some remorse for what he did to me.
“How many more times can I say I’m sorry, Steph?” He replies, reaching a hand out as he steps towards me but I step back. I don’t want Max anywhere near me let alone touching me. Not anymore.
“Sorry’s just not good enough, Max.” I fire back. “I gave you my everything and I got nothing in return.”
If I could go back in time to before fifteen year old me slept with sixteen year old Maxwell, I’d reconsider doing it again. I thought I meant something to him, but it turns out I was just another notch on his bedpost. A naive young girl who was suckered in by his charm and good looks. Only to have him toss me aside like a rancid steak the moment his eyes settled upon somebody else. Somebody better than me.
“To think I ever loved you. I-” I slap my hand over my mouth but it’s too late. The words have already escaped me like diarrhoea.
“You were in love with me?” Max arches his eyebrows at me, his nose turns up slightly on one side and he grins at me as though I’ve just dropped the biggest pack secret in history.
“Can we pretend I didn’t say that aloud?” I mutter into my palm.
Max’s smile broadens as he closes the distance between us. His fingers wrap gently around my wrist, pulling my hand away from my mouth. He leans down, his hands cupping my face as his lips brush against mine. Electricity sparks through my body from the touch of Max’s lips against mine, and from the soft touch of his fingers against my face. He leans into me, but I put my hands up to stop him. My palms lay flat against his bare chest and I can feel his heart beating beneath his tense pectorals.
His right hand slides to the back of my neck, his fingers twisting my hair as he tips my head back lightly. He parts my lips with his own, his tongue sliding across my bottom lip as he tastes me. I don’t want to kiss him, but I don’t want to let him go either. My heart pounds inside my chest. I feel like a hare cornered by a fox the way Max towers over me, his lust filled gaze piercing me like deadly daggers.
Max’s lips clash against mine once again, his tongue in my mouth wrestling with mine for domination. He presses his full body against me, but I don’t give him an inch. If he gets me up against the wall I’ll lose whatever little bit of self control I still retain, and I’m not about to give the smug bastard the joy of winning.
My arms enveloped his broad shoulders as he kissed me. His hands slid down my back to cup my ass, sliding down to my thighs as he lifted me up and pressed my back firmly against the wall. My legs wrapped instinctively around his waist, his manhood brushing against my inner thigh as he ground against me desperate for release.
“Damn it, Steph.” He growled lustfully against my lips, pinching my legs tightly. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold back much longer.”
“So don’t.” I replied breathlessly. His lips left mine to chase kisses along my jaw and down my neck. He tightened his grip on me, pulling me away from the wall as he carried me effortlessly across the room to lie me on his bed.
Max lay lightly on top of me. His lips trailed lower and his stubble tickled my exposed skin causing goose flesh to rise. His hands on my hips tugged impatiently at my shorts. I lifted myself enough for him to remove both my shorts and underwear in one easy pull.
“Fucking beautiful.” Max complimented with a cocky grin. His right hand glided over my moist womanhood, inciting a pleasurable moan from deep within me. “Lycaon, help me. You’re killing me, Steph.” He purred.
“So let me fucking save you, Max.” I sat up, my hands trembling in nervous anticipation attempted to undo his jeans, as my lips locked with his in a passionate and lustful dance. His hands fell atop mine, steadying me as he expertly popped the button then lowered the zipper of his jeans.
He pushed me away gently before shimmying from his jeans and then taking off his boxer shorts tantalisingly slow, the stiff rod of his manhood springing free instantaneously. Max dropped to his knees beside the bed, his hands firm on my thighs as he spread my legs and began to chase kisses down my skin heading closer and closer to my... I moaned out loud as Max’s tongue lapped at my wetness. Not even my fingers could compare to the way his tongue danced across my sweet spot, or the way he nipped me gently, or how his stubble tickled my thighs to the point I almost lost myself there and then.
Just when I thought I couldn’t take another second Max stopped, and lifted himself on top of me. His lips claimed mine, his taste salty and sweet. His right hand between us stroked his cock, guiding him closer to penetrating me.
“Max, wait!” My palms slapped against his bare chest halting him. “I... I’ve never... I mean...” I counted the rapid beats of his heart to help ground me.
“It’s okay, baby girl.” Max cooed soothingly, stroking a loose strand of my blonde hair away from my face as he met my gaze. “I’ll take it slow, and if you want me to stop, just say so. Okay?”
“O-Okay.” I nodded, suddenly at a loss for words as I stared into his seductive golden-brown eyes.
I felt the first inches of Max inside me, him groaning in contentment as he sheathed his cock inside me. He slid in deeper, deeper, deeper... I gripped his shoulders tight when he met resistance, my body untouched by another man but desperate to have him.
“Just breathe.” He whispered softly in my ear as he kissed at my neck putting me at ease. I did as he instructed, slowing my breathing enough to allow him to fill me with the full length of his cock. Max breathed out a sigh of relief into the crook of my neck. I guess it was just as uncomfortable for him as it was for me.
Then he began to move, his thrusts slow and deep allowed me to stretch to fit him; for him to fill me more fully.
His hands grabbed my hips roughly, lifting me off the bed slightly and allowing him to sink in a little deeper. Max’s lips sought out mine, his kisses deep, passionate and desperate. His hands gripped my hips tighter, his nails almost breaking through my skin as he started pumping harder and faster into me. My entire mind took flight as pleasure and pain mixed into a beautiful and satisfying ecstasy. My right hand fisted in Max’s hair, my left leg cocked to wrap around his slim hips as he fucked me like man possessed by Lycaon himself.
“Max...” I whispered his name against his lips.
“Just... Breathe...” He replied between the kisses he planted against my jaw. I took his advice. Drawing in a deep breath I felt an overwhelming sense of pleasure building deep inside of me. As though sensing my feelings through our connected bodies, Max slowed to a teasingly slow, but overwhelmingly powerful speed. I could feel every inch of his cock as he withdrew almost to the tip and slammed into me with such force I was sure he would cut me in two.
Stars glittered in my peripheral as Max rode me. Harder. Faster. Until...
I awoke the following morning, naked and sedate in Max’s bed. Yawning, I rolled over but I was alone. Untangling myself from the sheets I gathered my clothes from last night and redressed myself. I wasn’t experienced at this whole sleeping together thing, but I assumed you should have woken up in bed together the next morning.
Fuck it, I thought, I’ll just catch up with Max later.
Stepping into the hallway I heard a moan coming from the bathroom.
Moans that sounded suspiciously like Max.
Max moans as he kisses me, and that is enough to break the spell overwhelming me. Rising my right hand I swing it through the air with as much force as I can muster, my palm connecting with Max’s face is strong enough to send him stumbling back away from me.
He looks at me; confused, stunned and a little hurt as he holds the side of his face, his cheek coloured an angry red from the force of my slap, a perfect print of my hand standing out against his pale skin. Max’s lips part as he goes to say something, but I beat him to the punch.
“Next time I’ll rip your tongue out and shove it up your ass.” I scream at him before storming from the room.
My legs shake as I almost run away from Elijah’s office. I make it as far as the corner leading away from the recreation room before I collapse against the wall. I stare up at the ceiling, my chest heaving with heavy breaths as my heart beats out an erratic rhythm. I shouldn’t have let Max get so close to me, neither now or ever.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing. I should have ignored the moans coming from the bathroom. I should have just walked away, but I couldn’t help myself. If I was a cat my curiosity would have gotten me killed.
I close my eyes to keep the tears at bay. I’m not that weak little pup anymore. I’m a strong independent she-wolf. I’m not going to let the memory of what I saw corrupt me ever again. I’m not going to think about that red-headed girl perched on the counter top in the bathroom with her legs wrapped around Max’s waist, with her lips locked against his, and his dick in her-
“Steph?” Max shouting my name is enough to sober me. I hold my breath. I don’t want to see him let alone speak to him.
“Steph?” He calls again, and sighs audibly.
“Good job Maxwell, at this rate everybody’s going to hate you.” I hear him mutter just before his feet shuffle across the carpet runner, heading in the opposite direction to where I’m standing.
I call into the mist, hoping my eldest grandson will hear me. I was a fool to think he would be able to handle the power of summoning a witch. Tony’s strong, both mentally and physically, but it takes more than a sharp mind to be able to contact the witches. I should know. I’ve tried multiple times to no avail.
I open my mouth to call again, but snap it shut when I see a body crumpled on the floor not too far away from me.
Oh, Lord Lycaon, please no! I silently plea as I rush over to where Tony lies, my heart beating in my ears. I didn’t throw myself into the line of the witch’s spell to have my grandson taken away from me.
“Tony? Can you hear me?” I say softly as I kneel beside him.
His chest rattles as he inhales and exhales, his breaths slow and rhythmic. His palms and bare arms are scraped where he’s slid across the ground, and there’s dirt matting his red-brown hair. I kneel beside him, placing my hand on his shoulder and shaking him slightly. It doesn’t take much to persuade Tony to come around, his golden-brown eyes snapping open almost as soon as I touch him.
Tony pushes himself onto his hands and knees, blinking steadily as he regains his senses.
“You shouldn’t have spoken to her like that.” I chastise. I grip his arm as I help Tony to stand. He’s unsteady on his feet, swaying almost drunkenly with tiredness, but at least he’s upright. “Do you know how much trouble you could have gotten the pack into?”
“Not as much trouble as you will be when I’m through with you, Antonio.”
Elijah’s voice cuts through the night like fire through ice, startling both Tony and I. Tony straightens, his body psychically shaking. I keep my hand on his bicep for moral support, my grip light but I’m ready to catch him should he lose his stability.
"Shit!” Tony mutters. He runs his free hand through his hair, the light sheen of sweat that coats his forehead makes his hair stand up.
“There’s a reasonable explanation for what’s going on here, Elijah.” I say calmly as Elijah comes to stand beside me. He crosses his arms tightly over his chest and his eyes stare unforgivingly at Tony. He’s dressed in a plain grey tank top and loose fitting shorts. He’s been training Ellis, Max and Steph all day, so I’m not surprised to see that he hasn’t changed out of his workout clothes. What I don’t understand is how he knew where to find us.
“And I can’t wait to hear it, Dad.” Elijah interjects before I have the chance to ask him. “Tony, back to bed. I’ll talk to you in a minute.”
Tony inhales a deep breath looking as though he’s about to say something, but then thinking better of it he exhales a sigh instead. I give his arm a quick squeeze of support before I let him go, and he walks slowly, almost limping, away from us. There’s only one other time I’ve seen Tony look so beaten and broken, but he was unconscious at the time. If it’s at all possible I’d say he looks worse this time. He looks almost as though he’s lost all reason to keep living.
“What the hell were you two thinking?” Elijah screams once he’s sure Tony is well out if earshot. “You of all people know Tony needs his rest, but instead you bring him outside, and to here of all places. What were you doing other than trying to get my eldest son killed?”
I let Elijah vent. It’s easier than trying to reason with him while he’s riled up. He’s passionate about his sons, I can tell in the way he cares deeply for their safety and well-being, but sometimes he forgets that the boys aren’t little pups anymore. They’re fully grown males now and they need to learn to stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for their own mistakes. Myself included.
“If you’d shut up long enough I’ll tell you we were out here trying to save Tony’s life not get him killed.” I reply crossly, folding my arms tightly across my chest as I stare my son down. “Do you even look at your sons outside of being ascending Alphas?”
Elijah cocks an eyebrow at me. I continue before he has the chance to respond to my question.
“Tony only came to me because he was scared of letting you down. You and Ellis.” I sigh melancholy. “He’s a strong lad, Elijah, but as you well know there are some things that even brute strength can’t fight against. That’s why Tony and I were out here. We were attempting to summon the Enchantress but-”
“YOU TWO COULD HAVE GOTTEN YOURSELVES KILLED!” Elijah shouts, throwing his hands up in the air in exaggeration. “I forbade anyone from coming here because this area is DANGEROUS!”
I don’t need him to tell what could have happened. Not when I lived it first hand. I might not have known who that witch Tony summoned was, or what her purpose for coming here was, but I do know that there’s absolutely no way in hell I’m going to let Tony go through that ritual ever again.
“Don’t act like I don’t know that, Elijah.” I respond crossly. “It was our last shot and it backfired.” I continue slightly calmer. “I’ll take full responsibility for this, Elijah. Had I not told Tony about this place, he would never have come here with me.”
He doesn’t respond right away. His eyes searching mine as my words slowly sink in. It was our last shot. I could have phrased it better, but I know my son will understand the meaning behind my words. His shoulders seem to slump as the last of his anger evaporates, and he heaves a heavy sigh of uncertainty.
“I need you to tell me something, Dad, and be honest no matter how brutal the truth.” He pauses, hesitant. Uncertainty dancing in his eyes like a burning flame that can’t be extinguished. “How much time does Tony have left? I know he’s more than likely to talk to you about it out of all of us, but I have to know. I need to know.”
He asks the one question none of us have had the guts to ask. I don’t want to tell him, but I can’t shoulder this burden alone, not anymore. Tony has been coming to see me everyday after training for the last three weeks. If he’s not short of breath, he’s close to it. He tries to stay strong for Ellis, but he knows he’s fighting a losing battle. I draw in a deep breath to settle my nerves and exhale it slowly. I’m sure Tony will forgive me for breaking our promise, but Elijah has the right to know.
And I have to be the one to tell him the truth.
“I need to know.”
I hate to sound needy in front of my father, but I can tell there is something he is keeping from me. He knows better than to come into the Forbidden Zone. And to drag Tony along on his escapades is an outrage, especially considering everything my son is going through right now with his health.
I watch Dad carefully. He seems reluctant to tell me. His eyes search the ground for what, I don’t know. An excuse, maybe? Or is he trying to concoct some lie to make me feel better about something I’m not blind to see?
He draws in a deep breath and let’s it out slowly. His eyes finally meet mine and I almost wish they hadn’t. There’s a look there, a deep look of hurt and betrayal. He doesn’t want to tell me what’s on his mind, and I almost stop him from speaking the words I expect are coming, but don’t want to hear.
But I need to hear them. I have to know the truth.
“He’s afraid he won’t make it to Ellis’s ascension, but...” Dad pauses, looking thoughtful as he searches for the right words to say. The right words to make the forthcoming news easier for me to bear. “In my honest opinion as a doctor, he’s probably got a few days at most.”
Giovanni’s words are like a sucker punch to the gut - painful and unnecessary. I don’t want to believe it.
My Tony - MY SON! - Is going to die in a manner of days and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
We had already chased down those who were responsible for the attack and made them pay. Had made them suffer, but it didn’t change the knowledge that Tony was sick and dying. I hate feeling this powerless.
At least with the hunters we had something we could sink our teeth and claws into, but silver-fox poison...
Dad looks down at his feet, almost ashamed that he’s had to have been the one to break the news to me. I draw in a deep breath to try and let it out slowly, trying to calm the erratic beating of my heart, but fail. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know how to feel. Although, truth be told, does anyone in this type of situation?
“Does Ellis know?” I ask Dad after several long minutes of brooding silence. “About any of this?”
“Do I know anything about what?”
The sudden sound of his voice in my ear makes me physically jump and turn around, finding my youngest son standing right behind me, and judging by the look on my dad’s face he hadn’t noticed him standing there either. Ellis stares down at the pair of us, him having grown half a head taller than both myself and his grandfather, with his arms crossed over his chest and his eyebrows pulled into a tight scowl. His eyes dance between myself and Giovanni as he waits for one of us to answer him, but neither of us can seem to find the right words to say to him.
How much of our conversation has he already overheard?
“What’s going on Dad? Gramps? What aren’t you telling me?” Ellis asks again when the silence stretches onwards, his eyes darting from me, to his grandfather, and back to me in quick succession, searching our gazes for an answer that neither of us are willing to say aloud.
“Ellis, now is not the time to-”
“Not the time for what, Dad?” He interrupts me, his golden-brown eyes flaming with anger. “It sounded pretty important from where I was standing.”
Shit! He overheard at least some of our conversation.
“It’s your brother, Ellis.” Dad begins, again trailing off as he once again searches his mind for the right words to say to Ellis.
“Dad...” I growl in warning as I turn back to face my father. Ellis sighs irritated, but I can’t tell him the truth. Not yet. He isn’t ready. I know Ellis will grow to become a strong Alpha, but he’s sensitive. Especially where his brother is concerned.
“If you or Tony won’t tell him, I will.” Dad responds defiantly, squaring his shoulders as he stares into my eyes. Almost daring me to stop him from saying what he’s about to say.
“Tell me what exactly?” Ellis demands again.
Thanks Dad. I sigh. I’ve been backed into a corner, my wolf pacing with unease deep inside of me. What I wouldn’t give to transform into him now and just run. If only running away could solve all of my problems. I turn back to Ellis, steeling myself as I meet his eyes unashamedly.
If anyone is going to be the one to break the news to him about Tony, its going to be me.
Dad and Gramps are silent, staring at one another almost as though they are communicating by mind and I’ve been shut out of their conversation. Eventually Dad relents as he turns to face me. His eyes meet mine and I don’t like what I see reflected back at me. Is he... Afraid?
“Ellis...” He says my name softly. “Tony is...” His voice trails off into white noise as he finally admits what he and Gramps were talking about. My heart drops, my stomach aches as though I’m going to throw up a barrage of abuse at the two men standing in front of me.
I can’t believe it. I don’t want believe it.
Three men I look up to - who I inspire to be like. Who I love, fear and respect. Have all LIED to me. I feel my hands clench into fists, my arms shaking as I attempt to control my anger. My heart hammers inside my chest and I don’t know whether to run, or scream, or punch something. I can barely stand to look at my father and grandfather right now.
“Ellis...? Please say something.” Gramps speaks softly, so softly I almost don’t hear him through the rage clouding my mind.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO SAY?!” I scream, finally letting all the frustration that’s been burning inside me boil over. “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?” Gramps recoils, looking sheepishly away from me. A light blush creeping into his tanned cheeks. “HOW COULD ANY OF YOU DO THIS TO ME?!”
My body shakes violently to the point I’m sure I’m going to collapse any second. My eyes begin to sting, as tears of sorrow and betrayal threaten to break through, but I blink rapidly to hold them at bay.
“Ellis, we’re sorry we didn’t-”
I don’t wait around to find out what Dad has to say. I can’t stand to look at him, or to hear anymore of his lies.
"ELLIS!” He calls desperately after me, but he doesn’t follow. He knows that following me right now would be a bad idea. I don’t trust what I’ll say, what I’ll do, if he comes after me. Would I fight my father for holding secrets from me? Would he even want to fight me back?
I run as fast as I can. Branches whip at my face and my bare feet start to ache as they pound relentlessly against the hard ground. Normally the wouldn’t, but with all the cardio training they’ve been subjected to today my heels are starting to wear thin. I don’t care. I’ll run on blooded feet if I have to.
I run all the way back to the house and upstairs. I find myself instinctively standing outside my brother’s bedroom and hammer mercilessly on his door. My chest heaves, not with exhaustion, but with frustration. I still don’t want to believe what Dad and Gramps have told me, but if there is one person I’ll truly believe, it’s my brother.
“Go away, Ellis.” Tony shouts bitterly from inside. I roll my eyes as I let myself in. If he didn’t want to see me, or anyone, he would have bothered to lock the door.
Tony’s led on his bed, his back to me with books scattered all over the place. His sheets lay half on the floor as though he’s been tossing and turning and failing at falling asleep. It’s so unlike Tony. He’s usually a pretty tidy person. His bedside lamp is still switched on casting ominous shadows around the room, and an open book is propped on the pillow beside his head. He must have fallen asleep while reading.
“We need to talk.” I state firmly, closing the door behind me. Tony rolls from the bed, landing gracefully on his feet and turns to face me.
“Which part of ”go away” don’t you understand?” He shouts as he storms towards me, grabbing my arm tightly as he tries to turn me back towards the door.
“Why didn’t you tell me, Tony?” I ask flatly. Tony pauses, but doesn’t relinquish the grip on my arm. “I’m NOT a little pup anymore, I can handle it.”
He stills. His fingers biting painfully into my bicep, but I barely even flinch. His gaze locks with mine, a dark brooding look clouding the sorrow buried within their depths.
“This is exactly why I didn’t want to tell you, Ellis.” He finally replies his eyebrows pulling together as he almost grows at me in response. “I knew you’d get upset and-”
“I’m not upset, Tony, I’m PISSED OFF!” I pull my arm free from Tony’s grasp, and he doesn’t fight to keep hold of me. “I’m your BROTHER you should be able to tell me ANYTHING. At least that’s what you kept on telling me, but I guess that’s only a one-way street as far as you’re concerned. ” I fold my arms tightly across my chest as I glower down at him. Tony gazes back at me, but there doesn’t seem to be any fight left in him.
I’m beginning to understand now why my father nearly almost always loses his temper with Tony. His stubborn ass is going to get him killed. Actually it IS getting him killed and he tries to hide it from me because he’s afraid of how I would react. He at least has the decency to look ashamed. How could anyone not trust their own flesh and blood with the knowledge that they are going to die? I’ve always considered Tony and I to be close, but after today, I’m not too certain.
“I don’t want to fight with you, Ellis.” Tony seems to deflate before my very eyes. His shoulders sag and there appears to be bags under his eyes that I swear weren’t there before. He hasn’t been sleeping much, that much is apparent. “We don’t know exactly how long I have left and I don’t want your last memories of me to be us arguing.”
“Stop talking like you’re going to drop dead any minute!” I scream, denial clouding all rational thought. I didn’t visit Tony in the infirmary every damn day for six months just to lose my brother now.
“I could drop dead any second for all we know.” Tony replies defensively. “So let’s just stop before it happens okay.”
I draw in a deep breath and let it out slowly, but it does little to calm my racing heart or ease my nerves. I hate that what my brother was saying is the truth. I want to deny it all. To just pretend that this is some sick joke or horrible nightmare, but it isn’t. He’s going to die, soon, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
“Can you at least be truthful enough to tell me what you and Gramps were doing outside?” I almost plea, hopeful for some kind of miracle cure. Tony’s eyes snap back to mine, confusion etched upon his face.
“How did you know about that?” He asks, cocking an eyebrow sceptically.
“I was in Dad’s office when he got a call about it,” I reply with a slight shrug, “but that’s not important.
What were you and Gramps doing?”
Tony shuffles nervously under my intense gaze. I can tell he wants to distract me from the truth, but he knows if he tries to I’m going to see right through it. There’s no point in him trying to blanket me from the situation now.
“Gramps and I...” Tony pauses, scratching at his neck nervously as he stares around the room hoping to come up with a distraction, but coming up short. Instead his eyes settle on the disturbed books that were once neatly piled on his bed. “We were trying to summon the Enchantress.”
I almost don’t believe what I’m hearing, and I probably wouldn’t have if it had came from anyone other than Tony. The Enchantress is a myth as far as I’m aware, a fairy tail character created by mother she-wolves to lull their pups to sleep. Or so I assumed.
“How were you trying to do that?” I squint at Tony sure he’s pulling my leg, but when he looks back in my direction I can tell that he isn’t bluffing.
“Let me show you.” He replies simply.
Turning his back to me, Tony walks over to his bedside table. He opens the top drawer and pulls out a single sheet of paper concealed there. Closing the drawer with a soft click he returns to me, holding it for me. I take the piece of paper from Tony, the familiar scrawl of our grandfather’s handwriting covers one side.
“Gramps wrote down this summoning spell for me, but it didn’t work.” He admits sadly, watching me as I attempt to read what’s writen there, but the words make no sense to me. They can be Latin or Faliscan for all I know, but it’s the meaning behind the words and what they are used for that counts.
“This seems really complicated, even for you.” I joke half-heartedly as I reach the bottom of the page.
“Ha bloody ha.” Tony laughs sarcastically. “It doesn’t matter if you understand it or not, Ellis, the spell didn’t work. We didn’t summon the Enchantress and I don’t want you to try either.” There’s a hint of wariness in his voice.
“You don’t think I could do it.” I say matter-of-factly, glaring at Tony from over the page. His eyes fix mine with a cold state his next words sharp and filled with warning.
“Don’t be an idiot, Ellis. Whoever that was I summoned she was strong and...” He pauses thoughtfully. “POWERFUL.” He shudders suddenly in remembrance. “She wiped out both me and Gramps. I mean it, Ellis, DON’T use that spell, it’s too unpredictable.”
His eyes search mine, a look of unease and fear swimming at the surface of his own. Hardly anything scares my brother, so whatever this witch did to him must have been bad. And for her to have knocked Gramps out to...
“Yeah... Sure, Tony.” I reply simply. He doesn’t look convinced, but there’s little my brother can do to stop me short of knocking me out or tying me up and I know he won’t do either of those things.
Tony opens his mouth to argue when the sound of the door closing suddenly has the pair of us jumping.
“I’m glad you’re both here. I have something to say.” I quickly stuff the piece of paper Tony gave me into the pocket of my gym shorts as Dad walks over to the pair of us. He looks as though he has aged fifty years in a day, and he watches both Tony and I with a melancholy look in his eyes, and maybe a little guilt.
"That’ll be a first.” I mutter under my breath, crossing my arms defensively over my chest. Normally Dad would chastise me for being so brash, but I can tell he’s trying to be sympathetic.
“I’m sorry we didn’t tell you sooner, Ellis.” Dad sounds so sincere I almost believe him.
“It’s no problem. I’m just wondering what else you’ve lied to me about over the years.” I snap bitterly, my anger towards my father limiting my ability to filter my words.
“Do not speak to me in that tone, Ellis, or else-” Dad begins.
Then it happens with barely a warning. One minute Tony is standing beside me, and within the blink of an eye he’s led on the floor unconscious and barely breathing. Dad’s just as startled as I am, frozen temporarily by the sudden turn of events.
I scream my brother’s name as I drop to the floor beside him, ignoring the burning sensation in my knees as I scrape them against the carpet. Dad helps me roll Tony onto his side, resting his head on my leg as we try to help him breath. His chest rattles with each weak breath he takes. I feel tears sting the corners of my eyes as I look down at my brother, my hands shaking as I brush his hair back from his face.
Dad’s hand falls heavily on my shoulder, and he squeezes me tightly; reassuringly. This can’t be how it ends. It can’t. I won’t accept it.
This can’t be how my brother dies.
The Alpha let’s out a heavy grunt of relief as he cums deep inside of me. His lips clamp against my own, his tongue dominating mine as he kisses me possessively. My body aches from the multitude of bites he’s inflicted over my skin, and between my legs burns from the intensity of his own body rocking against mine.
“Your decision pleases me, little she-wolf.” He purrs as our lips part.
“I was... Hoping to talk to you about that.” I say nervously as he begins to trail kisses, and the occasional nip, down my neck.
His hands tighten on my waist, drawing me closer. His soft cock sliding from within me as his gaze snaps back to mine and I instantly regret opening my mouth.
“You do not get to dictate the terms of our agreement, Bella. I AM THE ALPHA!” He growls dominating. “Or have you already forgotten your place, bottom feeder?”
His insult strikes a nerve. That title may be true, but it is also degrading on so many levels. Being called it by Val is one thing, but hearing it roll from the Alpha’s lips is another.
“No, Alpha. I haven’t.” I reply flatly, biting back both my anger and my tears. Breaking down in front of him would show weakness, and yelling at him would show defiance. I need to try and keep a clear head. Getting on the Alpha’s bad side now could mean my certain death.
“Good.” He grins, oblivious to my internal struggle. His rock hard body is heavy atop mine, pinning me against the mattress. He means only to dominate me and he is succeeding. Despite saving my sorry ass from the silver mines I still mean nothing to him.
“You should never have been in the mines, Bella.” He states as though reading my mind. His right hand begins to crawl up my body, his fingertips tickling my ribs with their surprisingly feather-light touch. “You deserve so much more than what the other wolves in this pack give you credit for.” His roaming hand cups my breast, his thumb rolling over my swollen and sore nipple.
“I’ve already given you everything I have. What more could you possibly ask of me?” I bite my tongue to stop the moan of arousal that threatens to escape me. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction that he’s turning me on in that perverse way of his. It’s bad enough that I can no longer escape his clutches, I don’t want him to think that I enjoy his company.
“You believe you have already given me everything I desire.” He chuckles throatily. “But there is still ONE THING I want from you, Bella.” He pinches my nipple painfully between his forefinger and thumb, his suddenly erect cock brushing against my inner thigh. “I want you to be my mate.”
He wants me to be his WHAT?! I almost choke on the breath I inhale. I don’t know what to say. Being mated to somebody is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m not sure I’m ready to make that kind of commitment. Or if I’ll ever be ready for that life changing decision. With my Alpha, or anybody else.
“I understand this is a big choice for you to make, Bella, but I assure you it will be the right one.” He states bluntly. Why does it feel as though he’s made my mind up for me? “Take some time to think about it.”
“How long do I have?” I ask, feeling like a rabbit caught in a snare; struggling to no avail and feeling helpless as my life slowly fades away.
“Until the next full moon should suffice.” He declares with hardly a thought.
The next full moon? But that’s barely a week away. That’s scarcely enough time for me to consider the pros and cons of being mated to the Alpha. My heart pounds inside my chest, and not just because the Alpha’s left hand has begun to stroke the wet space between my legs.
“Is there a problem little, she-wolf?” He watches me with that intense, dark, brooding gaze of his.
“N-No problem, Alpha.“I stammer, looking away sheepishly.
“Good.” He declares before placing a kiss on my cheek and sliding, to my surprise, from the bed.
I pinch my legs together, watching as the Alpha pulls on a pair of leather-like trousers, his cock protruding boldly against the thin material.
“Don’t stray too far, beautiful.” He winks flirtatiously at me, then turning his back he waltzes from the room, closing the door with finality behind him.
I sigh heavily as I slide from the bed and begin to gather my discarded clothing. My entire life is turning upside-down and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I’m firmly trapped between a rock and a hard place. It’s either be mated to the Alpha, or kiss my life goodbye.
What am I going to do? I wonder as I pull on my new, low cut, black, spaghetti strap tank top and shake out my mass of jet black hair. I can’t turn the Alpha down; it isn’t just my life at stake. But I also can’t shake that boy Ellis from my mind no matter how hard I try. Sure, the chances of us ever seeing each other again is between slim and impossible. We’re part of rival packs and rival packs DON’T MIX. I need to find a way out. Not just for me, or Meg. There has be a better way of life for all of us.
The door closing startles me. Luckily I’m fully dressed as Zack walks into the room, beaming brilliantly at me. His eyes instantly fall to my exposed cleavage and still erect nipples that are clearly visible through the thin material of my top.
“What are you doing in here?” I demand, crossing my arms in an attempt to hide my breasts from his prying gaze. The cropped, blue leather jacket I’m wearing doing little to assist me.
“Now is that any way to greet a friend, beautiful.” Zack grins as he stalks towards me.
“You’re not welcome in here, Zack.” I take an instinctive step backwards, but it’s too little too late as his arm wraps around my waist halting my retreat. An involuntary shiver sneaks its way up my spine when Zack’s hand touches my bare skin.
“Did anyone ever tell you how adorable you look when you’re angry?” He chuckles. I can’t tell if he’s being serious, or if he’s just trying to mess with me as I bite my bottom lip to stop myself from saying something that will get me into big trouble. My hands, that have balled into fists instinctively, shake at my sides.
“Relax gorgeous, the Alpha already knows I’m in here.” Zack uses his free hand to stroke the hair back from my face. His fingertips leaving a trail of unwanted heat in their wake. “He was the one who sent me in here to keep an eye on you.” His eyes drift slowly downwards. “That outfit is sexy by the way.” He licks his lips admiringly.
“Get your hand off me you fucking pervert.” I scream, losing what little self control I have left. I don’t know if it’s the Alpha’s rash proposal, or Zack’s continual assault that finally flips me over the edge. I raise my right hand, aiming to slap the smug smile from his face, but Zack catches me wrist with barely a flinch. His grip tight.
“Or what, little princess? Are you going to stop me?” He smirks tauntingly, using his arm around my waist to draw me tight against him. He leans his head closer to mine, his breath tickling my ear as he speaks in a low whisper. “Or have you already forgotten what happened the last time you denied me?”
I feel a dull throb at the base of my skull. A meek reminder of what Zack did to me the last time I disagreed with him. His hands are like hot rocks on the exposed skin of my waist, his grip tight and possessive. He’s standing so close to me I can practically taste the cigarette he just smoked on every breath he exhales as though I’d smoked it myself. His gaze dances between my eyes and my lips. He’s torn between his obsession with me and his need to remain on our Alpha’s good side.
Both of Zack’s arms wrap tightly around my waist. He lifts and throws me onto the bed so suddenly I’m not expecting it. Zack lands on top of me, straddling my hips so I can’t escape him. His hands land on either side of my head holding him up on strong, muscular arms, his face is inches from my own. My heart beats rapidly inside my chest. Is he going to kiss me? Or worse? I can’t bare to think about it as he uses two fingers of his right hand to tip my chin up, forcing me to look into his eyes.
“There’s so many things I could do to you, Bella, and so many things I can make you feel that the Alpha can’t.” He growls possessive. His gaze dancing between my eyes, my lips and my heaving beast.
“Get the fuck off me!” I scream desperately. I wouldn’t want Zack anywhere near me even if he was the last male wolf in the world. I place my hands on his chest, feeling the tenseness of his muscles as I attempt to push him off with absolutely no effect.
“Don’t be like that, Bella, baby.” He chuckles as he nuzzles his head into my neck, his stubble tickling my skin. “You know I’ll treat you right if you choose me instead.”
His lips begin to chase kisses along my jawbone aiming for my lips and rising involuntary goose flesh across my skin in their wake. I wriggle beneath him. Panic settling in faster than I’m comfortable with. I manage to get one leg free, my knee connecting satisfactory with his manhood.
I successfully push Zack off while he’s stunned. He lands with a heavy thud on the ground, but I don’t have time to congratulate myself as I scramble to my feet and leap from the bed, jumping clear over Zack in one bound.
I run from the room before Zack can recover and catch me like he did the last time. I doubt the Alpha had anything to do with Zack coming into the room to ”protect” me, but on the off chance he did I needed to tell him what his Beta is really like.
I run into the antichamber, the annoyingly tight and high heeled boots the Alpha wants me to wear sliding on the wooden floor as I skid to a stop.
I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
I wanted to see the Alpha about Zack’s behavior, but it becomes apparently obvious to me that he doesn’t care either way what happens to me. He has another she-wolf wrapped in his arms scarcely minutes after he proposed for me to become his mate. I don’t know whether to be insulted or pleased that he’s finally distracting himself from me. Except that’s not just any old she-wolf.
“You better have a good excuse for interrupting us, bottom feeder.” Valentina screams as she points a finger accusingly at me. Her lipstick is smeared and there is a faint line of blood on her bottom lip from where the Alpha has bitten her. Her hair is more deshrivelled than normal, her purple dyed locks sticking up boldly at the back of her head. She’s wearing a thin, black, wrap around dress. The right shoulder has fallen down almost flashing her enormous, and very naked breast.
The Alpha turns to face me at Valentina’s outburst. He doesn’t look angry with me, but it is sometimes difficult to judge his rapidly changing emotions. There’s lipstick and bite marks all over his chest.
“Uh... I... Uh... I came here to speak to the Alpha.” I stammer under Valentina’s intense stare. If the Alpha wasn’t stood between us would she strike me again? I shift my feet nervously; my eyes downcast.
“I know I asked you not to stray too far, but this is taking it a bit literally don’t you think?” He grins, but there is a hint of warning in his tone.
I become a nervous wreak under the intensity of his stare. He isn’t happy with me and I’m confused as to why. How can he go from being passionate to being stone-cold in a matter of seconds? It just doesn’t make any sense. I kind of expected he wouldn’t want to be with me exclusively, he is the Alpha after all, but Valentina?
“I-I’m sorry for interrupting, Alpha.” I stutter apologetically, wishing I had the confidence to tell him where he can shove his mateship proposal.
“Apology not accepted.” Valentina growls distastefully in response. “Now get the fuck out.”
“I give the orders here my little minx.” The Alpha whips back to face Valentina, his hand cupping her jaw so tightly it makes me flinch, but Valentina barely seems to notice. “If she wants to stay and watch, let her.”
He tugs at the belt holding Valentine’s dress together. She giggles girlishly as the silk material falls like liquid to the ground exposing her body. I quickly turn my head away. Now that is something I didn’t need to see. The Alpha glances over his shoulder at me, smiling smugly as he fiddles with Valentine’s left breast. If he thinks I’m coming anywhere near them, he’d better think again.
Valentina tips back her head and moans through closed lips. I take a solitary step backward and find myself back to chest with the one wolf I was trying to get away from. A yelp of surprise escapes me as Zack wraps his arms tightly around my waist.
“Sorry about this, Alpha. Bella’s a little keen today.” He apologies with barely a hint of serenity in his voice. I can feel his want and lust pressing into my back where he holds me so close to him.
“This was an unwelcome intrusion Zack, don’t let it happen again.” The Alpha responds. An intrusion? Is he serious? Wasn’t he the one who offered for me to join him and Valentina just a minute ago.
“Understood, Alpha.” He replies a little bitterly.
Zack drags me from the room before I can protest. My one chance to tell the Alpha exactly what Zack is like and I’ve blown it big time.
Zack marches me through the bar, parading me victoriously in front to the other Vikilla. The room is a cocaphany of noise as the Betas drink and oggle the scantily clad Omegas, who bump and grind to the heavy rock music blasting from hidden speakers. I’m too crestfallen to care what happens to me now. The Alpha has made it clear he has no intention of treating me with the respect a mate deserves.
His arm is permanently glued to my waist. He isn’t going to let me go anywhere, not willingly at least. He’s keeping me close deliberately. If our Alpha doesn’t want to show me any attention he’s going to instead. He pulls me to a stop in front of two other males, one dark skinned with dark curly hair and the other pale skinned with platinum blonde hair.
Ryan is the strong silent type who prefers to talk with his fists rather than his words. He stands with his muscled arms crosseed tight over his chest and with a bored expression on his face. If he had his way, he’d probably fight ever wolf in the room just for fun, and still wouldn’t crack a smile. In contrast Tommy has a lot to say, but only if you have the patience to read an umpteen amount of text messages. He’s busy texting now, blissfully unaware of what Zack is saying. Truth be told I’m not listening either.
“You should have seen this girl I banged last night.” Tommy says out of the blue. Now that I know what they’re talking about I wish I could be anywhere else. Not that Zack’s going to let me go in a hurry. “She’s a total hottie. Look.”
He turns his phone around showing Zack and I the screen. I’m reluctant to look, but I can’t help myself. I instantly regret my decision. The image is of a blonde haired girl lying naked on a bed with messed up red silk sheets. Her hair is similar to a bird’s nest and covers half her face. Her eyes are closed and her face is twisted into a painful grimace. I highly doubt she has any idea where she is, or what is happening to her. She’s spread Eagle with all her female glory on display and with some kind of gruesome looking tool shoved up her asshole.
“Nice one, Tommy boy.” Zack nods approvingly of the grotesque image.
“That photo is disgusting.” I exclaim, feeling as though my stomach has sunk down to my knees. I feel sorry for the girl in the photograph. There’s no way anybody would be willing enough to want to sleep with Tommy and have that done to them at the same time, but I have no way of proving it.
“I wouldn’t complain if you wanted to model in her place, Bella.” Tommy grins flirtatiously, his perverted gaze sweeping my body in a similar fashion to Zack. He licks his lips seductively as he stares at my breasts a little longer than I’m comfortable with.
“Hell. Fucking. No!” I exclaim, my nose turning up in disgust. Both Zack and Tommy laugh at me as though I’ve just told a hilarious joke. Ryan remains cold and stone faced. If it wasn’t for the light rise and fall of his chest I’d swear he was a robot.
“Sorry, Tommy, but Bella here is already spoken for.” Zack squeezes me in a crude, one armed embrace. “You don’t want to upset the Alpha now do you?”
“That’s okay,” Tommy replies staring at his phone once again, “her tits aren’t that great anyway.”
Zack’s laugh punctuates Tommy’s statement, but I can’t tell if he’s laughing at what his friend said, or if he’s laughing at me. I feel my hands ball into fists and shake at my sides. How dare Tommy say such a thing about me? Okay, sure, I don’t have giant tits like Valentina, or the girl in Tommy’s photograph, but they’re perfect to me. And as far as I’m aware, the Alpha likes them too. Although I wish he wouldn’t.
“You guys are a bunch of disgusting perverts.” I shout angrily. Tommy giggles at me as his thumbs rapidly tap the screen of his phone.
“Ignore him, Bella. I’ll happily give your tits the love they deserve.” Zack winks down at me. I’ve had all about I can stand of these three. Zack’s laughter is like adding fuel to an already blazing fire. Tommy’s comment has me riled, but Zack’s continuation was completely unnecessary.
My hand flies through the air, but slapping Zack is about as useless as hitting a brick wall. My palm collides with his cheek, but it barely makes an impact on Zack. He relinquishes his grip on my waist, His lips pulling back to reveal his clenched teeth.
“You can’t say you didn’t deserve that.” I cross my arms over my chest as I glare back at Zack. Almost daring him to retaliate.
I’m too focused on Zack, I don’t notice what Ryan’s up to until it’s too late.
Ryan’s fist is like a sledgehammer to the back of my skull. It strikes me so fast and so suddenly I have no time to think about defending myself. Zack laughs unapologetically as I slam disgracefully into the ground. Nobody cares that I’ve just faceplanted the floor. Nobody cares that I can hear a ringing in my ears. Nobody cares that I’ve just been completely embarrassed in front of my pack. That’s the sad, sorry life of a bottom feeder.
“Up you come, beautiful.” Zack crouches, his hand gripping my arm tightly as he helps me off the ground, but my dignity is already in tatters.
It’s bad enough having to face Zack since that day he threw me across my own bedroom. It’s worse now knowing that even his friends are out to get me. The room spins around me, my legs shake like jelly and I feel as though I’m going to throw up at any second.
“Want me to kiss that beautiful face better for you, Bella?” Zack cups my chin, forcing me to look right at him. The room finally stills and I manage to regain some of my composure. Placing my hands palm flat against his chest, I push back with all of my might.
“Don’t fucking touch me.” I scream, stepping far enough out of Zack’s reach. I can feel all eyes in the room on me, but I don’t care. As much as I detest Zack he did nothing to defend me against Ryan. I feel humiliated and broken. If the pack Betas are going to beat me up, then who can I trust to protect me?
“And you’re welcome for scraping you off the floor.” Zack responds sarcastically his eyebrows pulling together in a tight scowl. He reaches out a hand towards me, attempting to draw me back, but I walk away before he can make contact.
I make it back to my room without crossing anybodies path. My head throbs from Ryan’s punch. All I want to do is curl up in bed, fall asleep and never wake up again.
But my plans are dashed as soon as I open the door, my eyes falling upon the figure sleeping on my bed. Meg. I roll my eyes. I shouldn’t be surprised that she’s in here again, but it’s not often she falls asleep waiting for me.
Time for a little payback.
I close the door softly behind me before tiptoeing across the room. I kneel down beside the bed, leaning over carefully so as not to disturb her. I draw in a deep breath and scream as loudly as I can:
She physically jumps and almost falls off the bed in panic. She stares wide eyed around the room before her gaze finally settles onto me, sitting back in my heels laughing my ass off. She doesn’t realise how much I really need this right now. These moments of carefree fun don’t come around often for either of us.
“You’re a right bitch, you know that right?” Meg grumbles, rubbing her eyes sleepily as she yawns.
“Well it’s hard not to be when you’re a she-wolf.” I reply sarcastically, smiling smugly when Meg gives me one of her are-you-freaking-kidding-me looks.
“Are you finished smart ass?” She asks as she sits up, rolling her long, slender legs over the edge of the bed as she looks down upon me sitting on the floor. She tips her head to one side, staring accessingly at me.
“What are you staring at?” I demand defensively, crossing my arms over my chest as I cock an angry eyebrow at Meg.
“That outfit’s...” She pauses. “Different.” She tips her head in the other direction. “Where’d you get it?”
“It’s not as important as what the hell you’re doing sleeping on my bed.” I roll my eyes. Of course Meg’s going to pick up on the new outfit I’m wearing instead of addressing the real problem at hand. I wish I had the capacity to lock my room. Not that I mind Meg coming in occasionally, but her visits are becoming far too often recently. She’s starting to worry me.
“You’ve been missing for TWO DAYS, Bella.” She exclaims unsettling me with her revelation. “Forgive me for worrying about my best friend.”
Damn, have I really been away for that long? It barely felt as though I was with the Alpha for a few hours since he dragged me out of the mines, but I’ll just have to take Meg’s word for it.
“It’s been... Weird... To say the least.” I scratch the back of my head nervously and instantly regret the decision as a spike of pain from Ryan’s punch pulses through me.
“I’m going to need a few more details than that, Bella.” Meg crosses her arms over her chest, her eyebrows furrowing. “It’s not like you to be so vague.”
I inhale a deep breath and let it out slowly. Meg is my best friend and I trust her with my life and my darkest secrets as well. But how do you go about telling someone that you’ve been proposed to? And by the Alpha of all people? Not to mention all the shit that happened to me with Zack, Ryan and Tommy down in the bar.
I get up off the floor and walk slowly over to my window. I stare out over the compound. I have a fantastic view of the surrounding forest from here. It’s almost as though the Alpha gave me this room to taunt me. There’s my freedom within my sight, but with no way to grasp it from here.
“Bella, honey, I didn’t mean to upset you.” Meg siddles up beside me, looking sideways at me with concern.
“You haven’t upset me, Meg, but...” I trail off not wanting the tears filling my eyes to betray me. Everything that has happened to me during this last few days has become horrifically unbearable. I know I can confide in Meg, she’s not the type of she-wolf to spread secrets and gossip, but I don’t want to over bear her with my problems either.
“Alright misses, it’s time for girl talk whether you like it or not.” Meg tugs on my arm, pulling me down onto the window seat beside her. “You’ve been acting off ever since we went to the New Moon Club.” She takes both my hands in hers. “I know things aren’t easy, Bell, but moping and ignoring your bestie isn’t healthy. So spill. What’s on your mind?”
I stare at my best friend, her observational outburst so unlike Meg. She stares evenly back at me, waiting surprisingly silently for me to reply. I sigh internally. She’s never going to let me go until I tell her, so I’d better just get this over with.
“I’ll tell you if you promise never to call me ”Bell" again.” I pull my hands away from hers and cross my arms. My most hated pet name not going unnoticed. Meg’s eyes widen with anticipation, her foot tapping insistently upon the wooden floor.
"Urgh! Fine.” I concede. “The Alpha asked me to be his mate.”
“You’re kidding me right?” Meg replies without missing a beat, her nose turning up slightly in disgust. “THIS IS FANTASTIC NEWS!”
Okay, that was not the reaction I was anticipating. Meg’s eyes are wide as she bounces excitedly on the seat beside me.
“How do you figure that this is good news?” I demand skepticaly.
“I cannot believe you just asked me that.” Meg rolls her eyes disapprovingly. “Think about it, Bella. Being the mate of the Alpha comes with all the perks of being a Beta! You and I could party whenever we want.” She continues to bounce hyperactivly beside me.
“And all for the lowly price of selling my soul to the devil.” I mutter in response, not overly convinced that Meg would have heard me.
“Bella, honey, you really need to think this through.” Meg tries to console me. I kind of understand her angle, being mated to the Alpha does mean a lot more privileges than what we get now as bottom feeders. We’d be free to walk around the compound without fear of being grabbed by unsuspecting Betas. And we’d be allowed to go out into the Neutral Zone more often without getting our asses dragged back here against our will.
“I CAN’T MARRY THE ALPHA, MEGAN!” I blurt before I can stop myself. As tempting an offer as it is, I can’t see myself having a future with him. “I... I just...” I stammer, drawing in a deep breath to calm my erratically beating heart.
“Okay, okay, calm down, calm down.” Meg places a hand on my knee in a comforting gesture. “I’m sorry for sounding so pushy. I don’t want you to think I’m forcing you into making this decision for you, but I really think you should consider the possibility of what this will mean for you.”
Meg smiles serenely at me. I sigh, wanting to believe every word she says, but unable to.
“I understand the perks, Meg,” I shrug nonchalantly, “but the guy’s a sleaze ball. And I... I kind of...”
I trail off as an image of Ellis pops into my head. I recall his shy smile and the way his kind eyes looked at me as though I was the most important she-wolf in the room. He didn’t make me feel uncomfortable, nor did he force me into doing anything I wasn’t okay with. He was the perfect example of a perfect gentleman. It’s just a shame Zack came along and ruined our time together. Who knows where that night would have taken us.
“You’re not still hung up on that boy from the club, are you?” Meg exclaims, crossing her arms over her chest as she stares at me doubtfully. I look away sheepishly. Are my thoughts really that obvious. “Bella, honey, you really need to let him go.” She continues when I don’t respond. “The chances of you seeing him again are near impossible. You’re better off cutting your loses and just marrying our Alpha.”
“I want to forget about him, Meg, but I can’t.” I admit aloud to my best friend. “I feel like... I don’t know... Like we had a connection. And if I agree to marry the Alpha, am I not acting just like Val by throwing myself at him?”
"Except you’re hell of a lot sexier.” Meg stage whispers, punctuating her words with a giggle. I can’t help smiling and rolling my eyes at her.
“At least think about.” Meg says soberly. “He might be a creep, but by being with him you’ll be protected from most of the pack.” I don’t like the idea of that ”most“. Being the Alpha’s mate isn’t a direct guarantee that nobody is going to want to harm me. “When is the mating ceremony by the way?”
“The next full moon.” I reply flatly. Megs mouth drops open, her eyes widening to the size of billiard balls. That’s not the reaction I’m expecting from Meg. When she’s not an excitable ball of energy she’s usually cool, calm and determined.
"Ooooohhh....” Meg hisses through clenched teeth. “That’s not a lot of time.”
“Now you understand my predicament.” I say sadly, pleased I’ve finally gotten through to my best friend. “Agreeing with him would be the easy option, but denying him would mean my certain death.” I sigh heavily. “What am I going to do, Meg?”
I watch Megan carefully. She rubs her chin thoughtfully, her eyes sparkling with a look I know all too well.
It’s the ”Meg’s about to cause all kinds of chaos" look.
“I have a plan.” She declares, pointing into the air pretentiously. I already have a sick feeling in my stomach and she hasn’t told me her plan yet.
“Need I remind you how badly your last plan panned out?” I question, clocking an eyebrow suspiciously at Meg. She rolls her eyes at me in response.
“Have faith in me, Bella, I don’t make the same mistakes three times in a row-” I don’t attempt to correct her “-but for this to work I’ll need you to accept the Alpha’s proposal. Let me finish before you kill me.” She adds defensively when I flash my clenched teeth at her, a small growl escaping me.
“Marry the Alpha to become a Beta and then we’ll have the freedom to do whatever we want.” Meg proposes excitedly. ”We can even search for your lover.” She whispers, winking at you. I mentally roll my eyes. I should have known she’d try and use my new found attraction with Ellis to get me on her side.
“Slight problem there, Meg, the Alpha barely trusts us as it is. What makes you think he’ll willingly let us go off compound for a night on the town?”
“Oh for the love of...” Meg sighs exasperated. I hate to be a pesemist and rain on her parade, but she needs to see things from a logical standing point. It’s not as though bottom feeders are fully banned from going out to the Neutral Zone, it’s just nobody except from us two has even bothered. I know Meg is as desperate to get out as I am, but I’m not willing to sell myself for a higher position in the pack to get it.
“Use you damn imagination, Bella.” She prods me repeatedly in the temple and I have to slap her hand away to get her to stop. “Or your charm, or your good looks, whatever it takes.” She beams brilliantly at me. “He’s threatened to kill you how many times and if he hasn’t done so already that means the Alpha really likes you.
If you talk to him in the right way he’ll be putty in your hands for sure.”
She winks suggestively, but I barely notice, my mind a whirlwind of possibilities. What Meg is proposing does make sense, but her plan is flawed. What if the Alpha sees right through me and realises I’m only using him to get off the compound?
What if he mate-bites me? I’ll never get to leave ever again? What if he says yes, but I can’t take Meg with me? Will he force me to go with Zack? I shudder involuntarily at the thought. That’s guaranteed to end in disaster.
“I... I’m not so sure Meg.” I reply skepticaly as I place my feet on the seat and draw my knees close to my chest. I wrap my arms around them, staring at Meg with uncertainty.
“No harm in asking though, right?“Meg questions with a nonchalant shrug of her shoulders.” There is at least one thing you can demand from him before the mating ceremony.”
Meg’s idea has me thinking. It’s plausible the Alpha will go along with it, but I still have my doubts. If this doesn’t work out there’s a chance he’ll never let us leave again, but if it does...
Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what to think.
I don’t how to feel.
The clicking and whirling of the life support machine doesn’t fill me with much confidence. My brother, lying in bed covered with a light blanket, is hooked up the machine as it forces air into his tired and injured lungs. Dad’s putting on a brave face, but he is as hapless as I am. My grandfather is doing everything he can to make Tony as comfortable as possible. He remains calm and professional, but his eyes are glassy with the threat of tears. His hands a whirl of motion as he monitors both the machine and Tony’s vital signs. Tony might be his patient, but he’s Giovanni’s grandson first.
Tony collapsing has taken us all by surprise. His breathing is still labored but at least he’s alive.
He stopped breathing for one horrible moment back in his room, but by some stroke of a miracle he recovered. Tony might be ready to give up the fight, but his wolf is determined to keep on living. For how much longer though, I don’t know.
The door opens and closes behind me, two pairs of bare feet pad across the tiled floor. I barely register Max and Steph’s presence, even when the latter wraps her slender arms around me, embracing me tightly.
“We came as soon as we could.” She half mutters into my T-shirt. “How is he?”
I draw in a deep breath. I’m not going to take offense at her question. Unless you can read Tony’s mind there’s no telling what state he’s in. On the outside the outlook doesn’t look good, but we have to remain hopeful. It’s the only thing keeping me sane right now.
“It’s not looking good, Steph.” I reply sadly as she steps back from me. I draw in another deep breath and let it out slowly as a sigh. “I think...” I trail off, not wanting to finish that thought. Tony is going to make it. He has to make it.
“We’re sorry, Ellis.” Max touches my arm gently, his touch and presence slightly soothing. “Is there anything you need? Is there anything we can do to help?”
I lift my head to meet his gaze. There’s a meloncholy look in his pale-brown eyes. Just because they’re not close, doesn’t mean that Max isn’t unsettled by what’s happened. He’s worried about me, I can tell. I wish he wasn’t, but at the same time I’m thankful for it.
“Thanks, Max,” I reply, my voice barely louder than a whisper over the machine keeping my brother alive, “but I don’t think there’s much any of us can do at this point in time.”
“How is he, Dad?” Elijah asks the one question on all of our minds. I turn to face him, but he only has eyes for my brother. I can’t say I blame him. Every blink signals what could be the last time we see Tony, and none of us wants to take it for granted.
“He’s stable, but he’s weak, Elijah.” Gramps responds after a long pause. He doesn’t turn away from Tony as he continues to monitor my brother profusely.
“You’ve been telling me that for the past ten minutes.” Dad exclaims startling us. I know he’s not angry at us, or Tony, or Gramps. There’s no right or wrong way to feel in this kind of situation. Gramps finally turns away from Tony, the pain and sorrow obvious in his eyes.
“I don’t know what else to tell you, Elijah.” He snaps back, his voice breaking slightly. “There’s nothing more I can do for him.”
Steph grabs my arm, but I barely feel it. Gramps’s words have made me go numb. I stare at Tony, mentally willing him to wake up. He promised me a long time ago that he wouldn’t die on me, not yet, and I’m not about to let him start breaking them now.
I pull away from Steph and she let’s me go willingly as I storm from the room. I run all the way back to my bedroom, the door slamming loudly as I lean my back against it. I slide down to the floor, tipping my head back as I stare at the square patch of light that the moon reflecting through the window casts on my ceiling. I haven’t felt this helpless since the day Tony had his accident. There are so many things I wish I could do to help him, but I know none of them will make a difference. My brother could be mere minutes away from dying, if he hasn’t already passed that is.
I wipe the traitorous tears that sting my eyes away with the back of my hand. I know he hasn’t passed on yet, I would have felt it, but the morbid thoughts flooding through my mind are clouding my senses. There has to be something I can do for Tony.
Rising from the ground I make my way over to the window. Looking out my eyes sweep the silhouette of the forest trees that encompasses our territory. What I wouldn’t give to run away right now. To get lost in the darkness and never return. As I’m considering this, a spark of light catches my eye. I stare at a certain spot through the trees, and although I can’t see it from here I know what I have to do.
Grabbing my favourite hoodie from the wardrobe and pulling it over my head I race from my room, downstairs and out the back door. The night is cool and calm, the long grass in our back garden caressing my ankles as I make my way over to the shadows of the trees. The darkness envelopes me, but I’m not afraid of it. I chance a glance over my shoulder, but if anybody saw me coming out here they haven’t bothered to follow me. I’m alone, which is exactly the way it needs to stay.
Turning my back on my family home, I race into the night.
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