"Be careful who you trust. Salt and sugar look the same,"
I turn over my wrist again in the cloudy water of the bath, swiping the soap suds with my thumb to reveal my clear skin. I dunk my hand again, letting it sit in the water for a good minute before raising it again, removing the rose petal that surfaced with it and staying truly transfixed on the small, empty spot on my wrist.
Nothing. No little wren, no small symbol of what I've done is visible to the naked eye but its still there. I shot her, I shot her through the brows and yet I don't feel a flicker of remorse. I should feel remorse, I should feel a world of impending doom showering over my sanity but I don't. They killed so many people, so many people whose deaths were for nothing and I let it happen. I was stupid enough to believe that someone would want to help me purely out of the kindness of there heart.
Avery has been here for five years, I'd bet there are plenty of other human mates who have been here for just as long and the human rebels didn't make any effort whatsoever to help them out. I was naive enough, hopeful enough, to jump at the slightest glimmer of hope that they provided. Too blinded by the prospect of people helping me to escape Roman's grasp that I didn't consider the consequences of it, not to the extent I should've.
They said that the bombs were filled with smoke, that they'd set off a haze to confuse wolves enough for me to make my escape. They lied. They said that Lucy could escape free. They lied. They said that they wanted equality. They lied.
I do not want to see wolves suffer at the hands of humans just as much as I don't want to see humans suffer at the hands of wolves. They don't deserve it, not all of them. The rebels would murder every wolf child, adult and in-between if they rose to complete power and I'm just happy that I learnt about it before I helped them any further. The world isn't black and white, there are fragments of each individual colour that all hold something unique. The same thing goes for choices.
"Maeve are you finished yet? The conference will be starting soon," Roman's muffled voice sounds from the outside of the bathroom and I instinctively recoil, bringing my knees up to my chest and hugging them.
"I'll be a minute!" I yell back and let out a frustrated sigh, washing over my face once more before lifting my legs out from the tub. I have regained some weight and my body has started to function normally again, I like the extra security that has been added onto my body, even if my muscle mass isn't what it once was. I guess that's what happens when you stop training every day in order for survival. Perhaps I'll talk to Roman about getting into some sort of gym program, I'm sure that there is one here.
I slide on my sweat pants and a loose fitting shirt, there is no need to dress up for an over the phone conference call anyway and once I'm ready I move over to the door. This call will be important, important in implementing what I strive to achieve in this pack around the world because presenting myself as a capable leader furthers my case in any form of political convention. But even so, I'm genuinely intrigued as to what the outcome with South America will be.
"Maeve," Roman says again, his voice slightly more irritated than before. I swing open the door to find him with his hand raised, ready to start knocking and an impatient look covering his face. His eyes flick down to my outfit and he lets out a sigh before shaking his head. "We have to get going, we are already tight for time,"
"Sorry," I mumble and he turns around, facing the unmade bed that we shared last night. Roman was hesitant, extremely hesitant actually about letting me decide to move back into his room but it is for the best. I don't want to work with a sleep deprived, grumpy Alpha male all day, especially when the work we have to achieve holds substantial importance. I got my way, obviously, and promptly set up a pillow separator for throughout the night which he didn't dare touch although I know he really wanted to.
"Let's go, we don't have enough time to go into the pack office so we will have to just use our personal one instead," he debriefs and I can tell there is something greater on his mind.
"I thought everything was under control? Why are you so stressed out?" I ask and his clenched jaw releases with a frustrated sigh as we begin making our way to the office.
"The Beta's came to me this morning with news from the Alpha King amongst a variety of other Alpha's. My show of mercy was not appreciated by them and there is talk brewing up about my strength and the strength of this pack because of it," he replies and I furrow my brows.
"That's ridiculous, how could showing mercy to a few human rebels demote the weakness of the entire pack?" I question and his face hardens.
"It doesn't, but it puts a rather large dent into our reputation which makes us susceptible to stupid people who think that they stand a chance against us. Change is a hard thing for many of these leaders to adapt to, especially when the change not only disrupts tradition but follows the human traditions instead," he explains and I inspect his face which looks utterly annoyed at his own kinds refusal to change and for a moment I am reminded of myself. He used to be one of those people, stuck in the ways of his kind but he grew, and if he can grow, then surely others will be able to as well.
"I never thanked you for that," I admit and he turns to me with furrowed brows before looking ahead once more.
"You don't have to thank me."
"But I want too. You didn't have to spare as many people as you did, or offer them a human punishment either and considering the trouble its caused I think a thanks is in order," I say truthfully because honestly, at this point I think that focusing on the positives couldn't do any harm. A new approach, sure, but one that's worth taking. If I were to scrutinise on the fact that others were still put on death row as opposed to show gratitude for the kindness he did show then he could very well just change his tune all together.
"It was the better thing to do and obviously worked as a statement of the bridge we are going to try and mend between species. It won't be easy on either end but it is achievable," he responds, ever the modest man he is and before another conversation can come up, the door to the office is already in view.
His large frame moves too behind my desk and he takes the chair out, dragging it with him to his desk before sitting down in his own and opening a draw to pull out yet another laptop. I sit down in the chair designated for me and he pulls out a sleek remote, clicking a button that makes blinds automatically close behind us and a TV to begin descending from the roof.
He clicks a few buttons and a green light appears at the top of the screen before the faces of the Alpha Superiors, all of them, appear in separate boxes around one vacant larger one. I look to the bottom right to see our icon that is taken up primarily with Roman's body, mine secluded to the outside of the frame.
"Can they hear us?" I ask and he clicks a few more buttons.
"Not yet," he mumbles and suddenly the large vacant square in the centre of the screen fills up with a man whom I haven't yet seen. Just from a single glance you can tell the complete power this one future holds, you can tell from his lean nose, his sharp angled jawline and blue eyes like Romans that stare with complete conviction. His tousled dirty blond hair rests comfortably on his face and I can't deny just how drop dead handsome he is, handsome in a different way like each and every one of the Alpha males on the screen.
"Who's that?" I whisper, turning to Roman whose stare hardens.
"Alpha Roman, nice of you to finally join us," the man booms and his voice radiates such a power I feel goosebumps start to form on my skin.
"I apologise for the delay your highness," Roman responds, completely unaffected by the man and if anything, slightly hostile.
"Very well, it has come to my attention that the last conference held left things in quite the predicament. In fact, it seems there have been many strange events occurring ever since so we should start there. Alpha Nicholas, do you care to explain to me why you felt the need to leave the vicinity of the New Moon pack in such a flurry?" He asks condescendingly and my mind moves back to the ball, when the men who now sit in annoyed silence all joked about how unpleasant their leader was. The guy seems like a bit of an ass.
"I couldn't stand to be lectured about ruling by a human girl from the slums of the pack, nor stay on the grounds of an Alpha who would show such weakness as demonstrated yesterday your highness," he responds and I watch Roman's gaze harden as a few of the others interject with their take.
"We will get to Alpha Roman's trial later but on the matter of the human girl I will admit I find it rather odd why a Luna would be present in such a meeting regardless," he questions with a cock of his head, directing his critique to Roman who doesn't flinch.
"My mate will be attending all meetings regarding pack politics with me, as she is right now and that is within the jurisdiction of my pack. It has come to my attention that many of the other Luna Superiors feel the same way your highness and I can assure you that when you eventually meet our Queen she will be just as strong a leader as yourself and my mate," he responds, not missing a beat and I don't miss the flash of emotion that crosses the Kings face before it turns hard.
"My Queen is a couple hundred years too late to be concerned with ruling beside me Alpha Roman, you'd do well to remember that. However, you have a point. Where is your lovely mate then? I'd love to meet her, from what I've seen she is truly remarkable but I'm afraid pictures never do justice to such beauties." Taunting. He's taunting Roman yet I'm sure he already knows that as he picks up the remote with no hesitation and expands the camera to reveal the two of us sitting side by side. The Alpha King's lips widen in a smirk.
"My my my, there is the infamous Luna of the New Moon packs. I have heard quite a few stories about you dear."
"All good things I hope," the words fall from my mouth before I can stop them and there is a brief stillness that settles over the conference before the King lets out a chuckle.
"I suppose it depends on what you classify as good," he responds with a raised brow.
"Off the top of my head I'd say equality and harmony between the species, an end to world hunger, economic stability. Just to name a few and these are the very issues that were apparently blasphemy to Alpha Nicholas in the meeting, which we should probably be more concerned over. As interesting as my looks are I think you'll find my points of conversation are far more engaging," I respond and Roman's hand finds its way onto my thigh, telling em to be cautious, but I can see the glimmer of pride in his eyes in the web cam. The Kings smile only widens.
"I'm going to take a guess and say it's this fiery attitude that concerned you more than the proposed subjects, Alpha Nicholas. But being put in your place by a Luna is sometimes what all of us need, its why the goddess granted them to us in the first place. I think that you should be reminded of that Alpha Nicholas and when referring to the Luna you will use her title and not her species, is that understood?" He says and my liking for him goes up just a fraction.
"The things she speaks of implementing are ridiculous, to think that after all that was done to us by their kind we should just grant them power? Give them everything handed out on a silver platter?" Alpha Nicholas retorts and all attention turns to the Alpha King once more.
"Alpha Roman has presented me with a fair case that has been thoroughly thought out and if stuck too, could improve the lives of both humans and wolves in his nation. I have passed the laws he wishes to implement on a basis in which the Alpha Superior may chose whether or not to uphold them but if his predictions of growth do prove to be substantially positive I will consider merging them into pack law. If Alpha Roman wishes to share his good findings with the other packs he is entitled to do so and if I were you Alpha Nicholas I'd listen carefully to any advice your neighbouring pack is so kind as to offer," the power radiating from the Alpha Kings voice is enough to silence the South American leader for the time being although I can see though the rage that lines his face he is far from finished talking.
"Onto the matter of the trials held, probation is a human method of punishment and hasn't been carried out in packs since the old days. I was quite surprised to hear that you of all leaders would go against our customs and let the guilty live on unscathed," he comments and Roman's facade doesn't crack one inch.
"Considering the members of the pack were human it seemed fitting to adjust the laws to their ways. I understand that my actions did not abide by pack tradition but those traditions were not set when humans were under our rule and besides, the archaic methods of murdering those for small crimes in which they could very well learn from seems outdated," I feel a swell of pride burst up in my chest and I have to fight the light smile that wants badly to overtake my face.
"You have a fair point Alpha, I won't enact punishment but I suggest that you properly draft any law changes rather than act on impulse and where possible confirm those laws with me," the other Alphas all begin to talk over one another, bickering over the new point of subject.
"Enough!" All attention is swiftly turned to Alpha Nicholas who looks one second away from bursting into a fit of rage. "I will not sit by and listen as our ways are eroded because of a one human who decides to spread her legs for a Superior I will not. The South American packs will not tolerate the pitiful leadership offered by this establishment and we will never adhere to your absurd fantasy of a world in which humans have power again." Before anyone can debate the topic the screen for Alpha Nicholas turns completely black and everyone sits in silence for a brief moment.
"Well I guess that settles that then." The King quips, "Alpha Nicholas just made a grave mistake and I strongly suggest that you all report immediately to your Betas and secure the defence priorities of your pack to withstand any advancements from that unpredictable fool. This conference is over, I will be sending out debriefings on the further measures to take and if any kind of progress has been made. Alpha Roman stay on the line." Everyone says their farewells to the Alpha King with respect and one by one the screens disappear until the only image left is the menacing Alpha King who takes up the entirety of the plasma screen.
"You may be my blood Roman but you are crossing a thin line. I don't want to have to remind you that changes to pack laws should be run through me but it seems as though you leave me no choice. If you are to ask me a week ago if your idea was a good one I would've warned you of what would ensue, but you didn't and now here we are." The Alpha King reprimands and I furrow my brows.
"That is exactly why I didn't ask you, your highness. The other Alphas are too consumed with their own power to see what is at stake here, if we don't set things right with the human species now then not only will our actions be irreversible but the very future of our kind could be targeted once more. We are at a point now where it isn't too late to make right the wrongs and move forth as a united world which is something my Luna and I firmly believe is a good idea," he responds and the King purses his lips in thought.
"With all due respect your highness I can vouch for Roman's case. Coming from someone who completely resented the man supposed to be my mate and most of the werewolf kind to be honest I know that if the relationship between our species is not mended now it may never be," the Alpha Kings amused smile returns.
"I quite like you, Luna and I agree however things will be much harder to implement on an international level, especially when it comes to altercations in the sacred laws. I will endeavour to find a solution and until then know that you have my support to make changes within your own pack but be smart about it. Things might get ugly in the near future and everyone needs to be prepared for the worst, wolf or human," he warns and Roman nods his head.
"Thank you, your highness," he acknowledges and with a nod of his head, the Alpha Kings screen turns black and I wish my mind would too if it meant quelling the intense workload Roman and I now have for the remainder of the day.
I place down a thick folder and let out a sigh, finally, after hours upon hours I have completed the first round of edits to the human policies drafts. I glance over to Roman's empty desk and part of me wishes he were there so I could express my joy to someone because this is a joyous moment. Sure, it's a little early in the game to be completely excited but I have made progress at least.
Not to mention a couple of hours ago I was emailed through a comprehensive list of the human and were teachers that had been selected to sit on the education committee and that only furthered my eagerness for the whole process to go through. They will have their first board meeting in a weeks time and hopefully by the end of the month the restoration of old human schools across the nation will be well underway and some form of curriculum will be created. It's only a small aspect of progress considering the other areas of work that are far from being completed but I need to focus on the positives every once in a while.
The door to the office opens and Roman enters, moving over to my desk with a small smile on his face.
"Hey," he says and I give him a tightlipped smile back as I continue to pack up my stationary items in an attempt to make my desk look less like the aftermath of a war zone.
"Hi," I respond and he lifts up the big file from in front of me and casually flicks through it. "Did everything go over smoothly with the pack defence systems?" I ask and he glances up from his browsing.
"It wasn't too difficult, Beta Elijah is in charge of that and he has it pretty under control aside from a few minor blips here and there. Are you nearly done here?" He asks and I look at the window, noticing that the dark blanket of night has already overcome the world.
"Basically," I respond, continuing to clean my items. An awkward silence begins to develop in the room and I sit in anticipation of his next move, is he waiting for me to go to bed with him? It surely can't be that late already.
"Cool, well, I actually had something planned for us this evening," he announces and I stop what I'm doing verify before continuing on calmly.
"What is it?" I ask in a cool tone and I look up to see him smirking slightly.
"It's a surprise," he says and I shoot him a serious look.
"I don't like surprises," I lie, I'm actually pretty fond of a good little shock here and there but not when it comes from him. He lets out a laugh and scratches the back of his head.
"Of course you don't," he mumbles and I simply blink at him, awaiting his answer to my earlier question. "Well this one is a nice surprise, you don't have to worry," he says with a chuckle and takes the stapler from out of my hand. "Come on, this can wait until tomorrow, you are going to work yourself to death if you don't take a break every now and again," he comments and I refrain fro squinting my eyes. Hanging out with him doesn't exactly fit my expectation of a 'rest' but I guess that's not up to me.
"Fine," I mumble, letting the work on my desk sit where it is. "But I better not come in here tomorrow morning to find this place spotless, I made the mess and I'm going to clean it up," he shrugs, still smiling.
"Your wish is my command." I roll my eyes and move past him, huffing as I get to the hallway.
"Which way are we going then?" I ask and his smirk widens into a grin as he begins leading me to his surprise destination.
I comply with the light chatter he raises on the way there, never inciting too much depth to our discussion but giving him an answer that barely passes what is expected in a conversation. We entered the garden around ten minutes ago and have been wandering through the illuminated passages ever since, twisting and winding around the immaculate shrubs.
"Okay close your eyes," he says and I shoot him a look, seriously not in the mood for fun and games.
"Seriously?" I ask and he smirks.
"Yes," he answers and I reluctantly close my eyes, jumping slightly when his hand rests on the small of my back and begins guiding me forward. I'm literally being led blindly by Roman, something that I should never allow myself to do. I am about one second from just opening my eyes to spite him when we come to a stop anyway.
"Open," his husky voice whispers into my ear and the sensation of tingles it sends rippling through my body is too great to ignore. My eyes shoot open and my breath catches in my throat at the sight in front of me.
The small opening in the garden is wrapped with flowers and vines that are entwined with fairy lights, the area secluded from the rest of the world. In the middle of the opening there is a table for two set up with what looks like a platter and an ice bucket holding a bottle of wine. Its beautiful but it's not meant to be this set up clearly has a purpose and that is to be romantic.
"What do you think?" Romans voice catches me off guard and I turn around, taking a step away from his warm chest.
"It's... is this supposed to be some kind of date Roman? Because I thought I made it clear that I don't want anything like that between us," I say and a dejected look crosses over his face for a split second before it returns hopeful.
"If you don't want it to be a date then that's fine, think of it as a dinner between two people who need to get to know each other better," he says and I wrap my arms around my waist, struggling to find an answer to his words. "No? Well its just another dinner then, a fancy looking dinner and hey, I brought some of your human wine that is just waiting to be popped open,"
He walks over to the table, lifting the fancy bottle out from the ice bucket with a smile and I cave, walking over to the chair opposite his and take a seat. He twists open the bottle of wine and pours the white liquid into my glass and then his, despite the fact that it probably won't even give him a slight buzz.
"So, what did the Alpha King mean when he said the two of you shared blood?" I ask, placing a piece of soft cheese into my mouth, letting it slowly melt away in my tongue.
"We are related. The Alpha king has been around many many centuries and when he was within his mortal life he had a sister who mated into my bloodline. She was his only immediate family after the rest of the founding pack was slaughtered in a massacre which means his only surviving relative is me," he explains and I furrow my brows.
"Centuries old? How?" I ask incredulously, just one out of the million questions his answer created.
"For an Alpha King they stop ageing once they reach the age of twenty. It is only once they have secured their heir that they can continue to age but our King hasn't found his mate yet,"
"What if he never does? What happens to the system if he dies without a mate or an heir?"
"Then it goes to next of kin,"
"And who is that?" He pauses for a moment, as if debating whether or not to inform me of the secret before looking me dead in the eye.
"Me," for some reason his answer makes dread pool at the bottom of my stomach, "Of course I'd never inherit the throne, just like my father didn't and his father before that. An Alpha King doesn't die easily, especially not now when he rules the world." He responds, taking a sip of his wine.
"So what do you think is going to happen now with Alpha Nicholas?" I ask and he shrugs.
"As unpredictable as he may seem, the man has always been driven by power. The King will probably try to reason with him but I don't see a happy ending between the two of them. He'll try to make himself a King but the process will inevitably make him weaker, only those with a true bond to the goddess ca become Kings successfully and he does not have one," he explains, picking up another piece of food.
"What then?" I ask and he finishes a bite of his food.
"Then we wait and see what unfolds I guess. Whatever the Alpha King decides to do we will support him but until a national decision is made we won't do anything. It is not our place to sort it out initially however what I said before about acquiring more land still stands. In a few years time once our pack is stabilised with the new human laws maybe we can make a move but until then we just have to play defensively," he answers and I nod.
"I don't think that invading them is really necessary," I comment, picking up another piece of cheese.
He shrugs, "I suppose the need for territory is more of a wolf trait and besides, with him pulling from the pack I'd wager that the lives of humans under his complete authority will only get worse. Taking over would be a win, win if you ask me," he responds and furrow my brows.
"Why does he hate humans so much anyway? I mean I get the turmoil between species but the guy has a passion for disliking them more so than any of the other Alpha Superiors."
"South America has probably had the worst run with them out of all the nations. Throughout history our kind has been persecuted but the difference is the packs in New Moon never truly died out whereas there are only around five ruling packs under his rule. His numbers are small and without help from the Alpha King he never would've been able to take over at all."
"I think that's why he is so adamant on keeping humans oppressed, because without it he'd be overruled by them anyway. The human to wolf ratio over there is astonishingly low which is another reason why naming himself King is a stupid idea but what can you do?" He says and it makes a little more sense, although still not justified I can understand why one might resort to such measures in a tyranny.
"Well apparently me convincing him is a terrible idea," I say and he chuckles.
"You're not wrong there," I give him a tightlipped smile and try to ignore the spark of hope twinkling in his bright blue orbs when a waiter enters the clearing. Roman claps his hands together, "Looks like the main course is here," he says excitedly and the waiter who I note as human the closer they approach locks eyes with me and I swear I see hers narrow into slits for a brief moment.
"We have so much here still," I point out and he waves his hand dismissively.
"I'll have it put into some containers and you can have it for morning tea tomorrow," he answers and the waiter removes the platter from the table before placing two plates covered with large silver domes. Roman outdid himself in the romance sector.
The waiter scurries away with the remnants of the platter and Roman gives me a loving smile.
"Bon appetite," he says and I smile back before lifting the dome and I let out a blood curdling scream as I come face to face with Teo's decapitated head.