To Hate Love

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Chapter Twelve

DON'T FORGET TO VOTE GUYS

"Take risks. If you win, you'll be happy. If you lose, you'll be wiser."

-unknown

My eyes drift past the Roman who overpowers every object in the room, despite it still being relatively large, to the wall behind him. I don't say anything as I walk past him and run my hand across the smooth mural that lines the wall, an intricate painting of wolves and Forests and humans splaying out like a story from one edge to the other.

"It's not finished, obviously, and you can add whatever changes you'd like, I tried painting using gender-neutral colours and there's still another part to add...our part," he blubbers out and I watch him as he gestures to the one empty spot allocated in the top right corner in a way that's the most vulnerable I've ever seen him. My throat clenches up as I look at the small cot with a chime hanging above it, then to the single couch with a lamp positioned to its right and my vision becomes blurred by a sheath on unshed tears.

"I thought maybe a fold-out couch would be a good idea but it's only a few steps from our room and we can always put a monitor in or see," he babbles, his large frame moving past me to press a button on the armrest of the chair making in extend. Before he can turn around and see the tears in my eyes I walk towards a cupboard and open it up, my hands finding a small pair of shoes. Roman doesn't push to explain this and instead lets me examine it in peace which is good because if he saw the longing in my eyes, the pained desire, he might get the entirely wrong impression. I turn the small show over in the palm of my hand and my mind conjures up the image of Roman holing a child, someone so large and muscular holding such a tiny thing, he'd have to be careful not to break the damn thing.

A baby, a child, a living being that is supposed to grow inside me and come into this strange, insane world knowing only me as its mother. I bite back a sob that threatens to escape my mouth. Being a parent, a mom, having a child that I could call my own and love and cherish will never ever be a possibility anymore and this entire room is just one massive slap to the face. It's like I'm watching the future I dreamed of unfold in front of my eyes but the man standing with me isn't the person I envisioned it with. Not by any means.

"Obviously we can wait until you're one hundred percent ready for this but I promise you that you won't regret it. When it comes to being a father I won't do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, even if it is standard for Alpha training-"

"No," I croak out, my voice strained and silence fills the room.

"What's wrong? I thought-" he starts, moving towards me but I storm from the retched room, each hasty step towards the door compounding on me as the dream I can no longer have gets left behind me with Roman stood in the centre. I wipe away a tear of frustration, mad that it slipped out, mad at myself for allowing it to but mostly mad that I had to experience whatever the hell that was, for allowing Roman to rub salt into my already ruined wound.

"Maeve," Roman says softly and I feel the heat rolling off his body before I hear his dejected voice. I spin around and take a few steps back, meeting him with a tear staled face and a glare that could put him six feet under.

"What the hell?" I seethe, not bothering to stop the wretched tear that stains my cheek. His face falls completely, any hint of that hope, that eager joy vanished within an instant.

"I thought," he stops himself, his eyes shattered into a million pieces like their made of feeble glass, "I was told you went inquiring about us having children and I thought... I thought you wanted..."

"Whoever told you that must have clearly misheard what I said because I have not changed my mind one bit about having your children, about having sex with you. It's not happening now or in ten years or in this lifetime so you need to save yourself the heartache and come to terms with that now." I don't care that my words come out harsh, that every single syllable manifests itself into a fist that makes Roman flinch.

"I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt your feelings and I was stupid to believe that, so so stupid Maeve I'm sorry," he says, taking a step closer towards me to which I instinctively retract. "I shouldn't have presumed, I got overly excited and wasn't thinking rationally and that's on me, we don't need to have sex, or kids or any of that. I'll tear it all down if it makes you happy, Maeve, I will," he says with desperation, his voice so empty and my mind spins trying to unravel Roman's apology.

"It's not fair to do that to me, to make me want something so bad and be the only one capable of giving it to me. It's not fair," I reiterate, my tone softening considerably but still holding its harsh tone.

"I'm sorry, you have every right to be mad at me but it wasn't my intention to hurt you, this was all just a big misunderstanding. When it comes to the heir of this pack we can discuss that later, whenever you feel comfortable to," he negotiates, his expression slowly moving back into its natural self, the wounded Alpha only coming out in glimpses.

"Never, I'll never feel comfortable about it," I respond truthfully because that is how I feel and I can't change that.

"Maeve maybe when you understand the significance of it, when you don't hate me as vigorously as you do then the conversation can reopen and this idea won't seem so bad. And it is up to you, completely in your hands to decide what decision to make and I'll find some way to make it work, but I just ask that you go into it one minded, that you look on both sides of the coin before shutting it down completely," he says and I fold my arms across my chest, closing my eyes in a feeble attempt to rein in my emotions. Just the fact that I'm here, that I have to have this conversation pushes me closer and closer to a steep edge teetering into darkness.

"I want some space, all of this is too much and I want some time to myself," I conclude and dejection takes over his features once more.

"That is understandable, I'll have your work brought to you tomorrow morning in the library and we can spend the day apart. I truly didn't mean to hurt you and I hope you can find it in yourself to forgive me, if not for everything then just this," he says defeated and I don't say another word, turning on my heels and leaving him standing in front of the dream we share in completely different ways.

-

I don't really know what to make of the situation I'm in. Every day I spend living a life that I don't want makes me feel less and less inclined to bother with it at all because what is the point? What does it matter if the rest of my life is spent trying to please everyone else and when the sun goes down I'm ultimately still stuck in square one? I've only got one shot at this, when I'm dead I am gone, that's my shot flushed down the drain and what will I have to show for it. It seems selfish, terribly wrong and horrible to push aside the rest of the world but it was fine before me, this impounding expectation to be some kind of saving grace seems pathetic.

In this case, being a saving grace essentially means having sex with Roman and complying with his needs. If I were to simply stand by him and live the frivolous life of Luna without even thinking of politics I'd still be fulfilling my destiny and duty to the world. How can such an insignificant role impact the world so much? It just makes me feel like all I am is a means to an end, a menial gift for Roman and yet the bearer of so much responsibility to do good.

Which is the root cause of me spending an entire day cooped up in the library, sifting through papers and composing the notes I have into an organised portfolio, which took a lot of remembering from back in my uni days. The better my report is for Roman to review, the less contact I'll have to have with him-theoretically, anyway. Then there has been the impending doom of what happened last night, Roman's eagerness and the broken heart I left him with. Not to mention Avery's under wraps research into Noah's heritage and how it will affect the baby growing in Jenna.

I still can't believe that news got to him in the most annoying game of Chinese whispers I've ever been involved in. Bloody Christopher, I bet it was him who decided to run and tattle. Honestly, I don't see what Avery likes about the guy, as her former best friend I do not approve. What kind of maniac decides to go and plant that kind of idea in a temperamental Alpha's mind? Last night could've been worse, like really worse. Imagine if he thought that it'd be a good idea to try to seduce me rather than propose a child courteously.

The basic fact is that his pack needs an heir, the entire structure of his system depends on it and I'm the only person alive who can give it to him. He can promise me that he'll stay true to his words but it won't change the creeping feeling in my chest that one day, at one point he will be forced to break his word. And it scares the living shit out of me.

I click open my phone and re-read the message he sent me this morning, outlining what aspects of the report I need to have reviewed by the end of today so that drafts can be made up and a team of professionals can start making the plans of action and organising how it will occur. I've completed all that I have to, looking over various building designs of new housing complexes and deciding on which ones to implement as well as making changes to the workers draft in regards to their employment rights. I'll need to talk with Roman about getting some humans that know more about workers unions and how to structure said things because my knowledge is basically limited to a few books I managed to find in this very library.

Once the rights and regulations surrounding workers have been finalised the school developments can go underway. Roman has scheduled the building or renovation of the schools for three months from now and the education committee, who have been placed in charge of sourcing human influencers, have until the schools are ready to open to have sorted their affairs.

Placing my phone down on the table, I release a stressed sigh and take off my glasses, leaning back into my chair in a slump. I glance at my laptop and scowl. I've discovered since receiving that precious little gift from Roman that any traces of the new and improved internet service have completely vanished. I knew better than to think Roman would allow me access to an endless pit of information but I really wish that I could get my hands on it. Who knows what kind of thing I could find on there? A system designed to give you exactly what you ask for sounds a hell of a lot easier than looking through each individual book trying to find some hint of a way to get out of here.

I haven't even begun to look through this library for information that'll remove my bond from Roman, the topic of human safety that much more pressing at this current moment in time. Avery's logic of accepting it or dying sounds far too dramatic if I'm being completely honest and although she may have more experience with being a mate, I can't bring myself to believe her. There had to be something, and even if I don't find it in this library I may find it in another.

If I can just find a way to get my hands on Roman's laptop, then all I'll need is a little bit of time to get on it and search what I need to search. I doubt he'll even notice he "lost" it, the guy is so loaded all he will have to do is snap his fingers and he'll get another one. If I can take it and maybe stash it away in my room then I'll be able to use it at night, nobody will know.

The more and more I turn over the idea in my mind the better it seems, I don't see what the worst that can happen is, I get caught? My stomach lurches instinctively. Okay, maybe that is the worst thing that can happen, but it's better than doing nothing.

The urge overcomes me, pulling my body towards the second floor of the library and in front of the worn bookshelf. I turn over the locket that clasps around my wrist and confirm that Roman isn't about to pop through the door and catch me red-handed.

The familiar click of the door springing ajar as I pull back the blue spine of the book makes me jump a little but I don't let it falter my mission. The passage still holds its faint smell of dust, the fibres floating around in the musty air and making my nostrils scrunch up in distaste. If he's there I better hope to hell that this mark on my neck doesn't begin shining like a beacon or whatever weird magic shit it's supposed to do. All I need to do is slip in and slip out, taking whatever information I can get my hands on.

Without a light, I place my right arm on the wall and let that guide me through the darkness, my steps more confident than my first encounter with the mysterious passage. When I hear Roman's familiar gruff voice drift through the air I slow down, sneaking as quietly as I can until I am pressed up against the edge, peering into the room to find Roman sat behind his desk in deep conversation with Jayce. His shoulders slouch slightly and from what I can see the subject of contention is serious.

"She didn't take it well at all," Roman confesses and my mind jumps back to yesterday, that has to be what they're talking about.

"What happened?" Jayce questions, the concern of both a friend and Beta coming out.

Roman sighs, "There was some kind of mistake, Gamma Cross was unaware of Mae's brother's situation and informed me that she was there asking with her friends. He thought they were all curious and I believed him but it was far from the case. As for the reaction, it was just the same old stuff," he answers with depletion.

"She'll come around, she has to," he says with disbelief only to be met with silence. "Have you guys... you know, got personal?" He words meticulously, careful not to cross the line between friend and disciple.

"Not really, I mean we've done the bare minimum and it was unlike anything I've ever felt before but I don't see her even letting me touch her again much less anything else." My gut turns with his words, at the void they carry.

"How are you going to have an heir if you can't get past first base?" Jayce asks like the situation is as serious and harrowing as Roman makes it out to be.

"That's exactly my problem. I honestly don't see it ever happening at this point, which sucks considering I've waited my whole life for her and now I'll basically never get laid," he sighs out and the comment takes me off guard. He waited for me? He's a virgin?

"I remember waiting for my mate, god I can't imagine life without it now," he says and I know Roman is glaring without even seeing his face.

"Not helpful," he grumbles and I hear Jayce chuckle.

"Cheer up, not all hope is lost... at least you still have your right hand, man." Roman's chuckles and my cheeks heat up to a point I think my face might just combust.

"Sleep hasn't been easy as a whole either. I've tried nearly everything and its just not the same, not after she left. I had Rebecca stay with me last night in one of Mae's shirts but I felt too gross to even close my eyes, it helped somewhat though, despite having to reject her multiple advances," he grumbles and jealousy bubbles up within me, who the fuck is Rebecca?

"That receptionist?" He answers my question and I feel rage like I haven't before, spurting up from an unknown part of me.

"Yeah, she offered it up actually, I suppose she's just a substitute to help me at least function during the day," he answers and Jayce lets out a low whistle, one of warning.

"That's a very risky game you're playing there. I've dealt with a jealous mate once and let me tell you it's really not worth it," he comments and at his announcement of jealousy, the jealousy I am feeling right now, my anger subsides somewhat.

"I don't have much of a choice, I'm not going to make her come back into my bed and I need to get some sleep to function. Besides I can assure you that Maeve isn't the jealous type, she probably wouldn't even care."

"I dunno, the bond makes us feel crazy things, I mean how would you feel if you learned she was sharing a bed with another behind your back?" A deep growl erupts from Roman's chest but he reins it in quickly.

"She was married, she's done more than share a bed with another," he spits out like the words were laced with toxic venom, "It took everything I had not to kill him and now that he's gone its more of a relief having the urge gone. Most of that though was my primal instinct, as a human, I don't know if she'd feel the effects to the same extent." Do I want to murder that receptionist? No, but I wouldn't mind having a few words with her. I don't care about what she does with Roman literally, I care about what it does to me.

"I don't know if I could've held myself back, I get pushed to limits I didn't even know I had when someone even looks at Astrid the wrong way," he says and they fall silent in their metal understanding, "have you told her about what's happening with those rebels in a couple days?" He asks and my body goes rigid. Jayce is met with silence.

"You have to tell her," he says and Roman sighs deeply.

"I know, I know but she's not going to like it, she doesn't understand our ways, that we do things differently to humans and giving her another reason to hate me won't help anyone," he says.

"It's not your fault, everyone involved in the ceremony deserves the punishment they will receive under pack law. Brutality isn't the worst thing for beings with healing powers," he chuckles and I watch as Roman's large frame shakes with mirth in response. "Look, she may not agree with what's going to happen but either way you need to tell her, and soon, Elijah will lose his mind if he has to monitor those prisoners any longer,"

"You're right, speaking of we should probably go and help him finish off the security check," Roman says and they both chuckle, moving out of their chairs to stalk towards the door, letting it close behind them with a soft thud.

The stillness in the air makes my stomach want to heave up everything I ate this morning, or maybe its the content of what they discussed. Probably both. I need to find out what the hell they were talking about, if I can get my hands on some stone-cold information then whatever sugar-coated version Roman decides to censor won't matter and I'll know. If I had a penny for every time someone told me a half-truth then I'd be rich because at the end of the day, omitting information is just as bad as lying to my face.

My hands roam up the crevice where the passage meets the door, coating my fingertips in a thick layer of dust as I search for a click, a lock, something. There are no jutting edges or door handles, just the smooth texture of the wall. It doesn't help that my only light is provided though the small viewpoint looking into the room. I pat my pocket, fishing for my phone only to find it empty, it must be back with the rest of the things in the library. Security check, that sounds important, important enough to give me enough time to get there and back without being disturbed? I try again, sliding my whole hands over the dusty wall and letting out a sigh of relief when thy dip into a hidden crevice and the door pops open with a click.

I don't waste a second of time, rushing past my desk and to the sleek laptop that sits proudly in the centre of his large wooden desk.

I flip open the screen and curse when a password icon pops up at me. Shit, I don't even know the guys birthday. I search around for some kind of hint to no avail and so I let out a deep breath and take a guess. R-O-M-A-N. The screen rejects my attempt and I cock my head to the side, fair enough, the chances of him making his password his name are very slim. M-A-E. I try, my brows furrowing when it doesn't work again. M-A-E-V-E. The screen opens up to reveal a backdrop of the woods and multiple folders on the desktop screen. Bingo.

I hover the mouse over a random folder, ready to open it and inspect it's content when I hear talking from outside the door. In a frenzied panic, I close the laptop and slip in underneath my arm, moving back into the hidden passage and closing the secret door behind me.

I don't wait to see who enters through the office door and place my palm on the wall, moving back towards the library as quiet as a mouse. It only takes ten steps to be fully emerged in darkness again, my sense of vision restricted to directly in front of me. I can't get the idea that Roman is sleeping with another woman out of my head, not only because it triggers emotions I shouldn't be having but because it means he is losing his restraint piece by piece. And then there's the fact that he's never had sex, that his culture promotes abstinence outside of mates which makes my stomach turn. I really am the only person he'd ever be able to get intimate within a culture where the intimacy that comes with the bond is revered.

I guess I need to decide whether or not it's a good idea to go back to his room, to appease his need for sleep to block out any other needs he may have. That being said, he did seem as though he'd come to terms with my rejection of affection, albeit reluctantly but still-

My entire body collides into a wall and I stumble back, groaning as I clutch my head, the useless navigating hand resting on my skin providing no help once more. Well, that's fantastic, a wall, now I have literally no idea where I am and I could very well die in a hidden tunnel system, things couldn't get any worse. At least until the wall breathes.


AUTHORS NOTE

Felt cute, might delete later. Honestly I'm not really sure how to feel about this chapter, I don't hate its but I also don't love it so yeah. Let me know what you think about it!!

Khalesi x

PS: @samoraider is kinda an absolute legend

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