"Sometimes in order to get better you've gotta get worse."
"And how have you been feeling these last couple of weeks?"
My bottom lip quivers and the click of a pen followed by a few scribbles sounds shortly after. "Different." The words come out in a croak, but the finality in them is enough for the lady sat in the mushroom pink chair across from me nod her head. Slowly, always slowly and in that same, sympathetic way.
"Maybe we should try to go back a little further this time, can you tell me how you have been coping since this all began and your bond to your mate came to formation," her voice was smooth, the words flowing off her glossed lips like molten honey.
I suck in a sharp, shaky breath, holding back the sea of tears so the session isn't wasted with me exploding into a mess of tears like the last one. "I don't think I want to talk about that right now,"
It's easier if I keep some things in my head. Easier for the short term, I know that, but there's something so solid about voicing it like this that makes me want to crawl under the sheets of my bed and bury myself there for eternity.
"Okay, Maeve I'd like for you to explain to me how you think you are different from before," she says and I gulp, picking at my nails in my lap, unable to meet her soft, forgiving eyes.
"I'm just not the same. Everything about me has changed," I pause for a moment, biting down onto my lip before glancing up to prevent a tear from rolling down my cheek. "I am doing things that I wouldn't have done, hurting people, betraying them," I can't get the words out beyond that, my throat clenching up in a tight knot.
"Who is it that you think you have betrayed?" She asks, her brows furrowed ever so slightly and I pick up the tall glass of water, still chilled with droplets of condensation rolling down the side. The icy water does little to ease my nerves but helps me regain a fraction of time to think.
"I- I don't think I can say, I don't think I'm allowed to." My fingers entwine again.
"Maeve, this is a safe space. Nothing you tell me will leave this room. If it is the Alpha you are worried about then don't be, he won't ever find out what goes on in this room unless you decide to tell him,"
I nod, a glimmer of relief passing through me. "My husband mainly, but its not just him- I don't even think I know him as well as I once thought I did." Her pen clicks again followed by that scribing sound that makes my heart clench as though whatever she's writing is being etched into me.
"Your husband? Were you married before being mated?" She asks and I note just how well Roman kept my infidelity a secret from the world.
"I still am," I say but the vehemence I would have once proclaimed those words with is lost in a tight string of guilt and emptiness.
She lets out an hmm, scribing more words. "Can you tell me a little more about that? Why you think you have betrayed him?" Clever, the use of the word think was clever but it doesn't make me feel a fraction of innocence. I know I betrayed him, in every sense of the marriage world I betrayed him.
I'm glad she isn't a wolf because if she could hear my heart palpitations right now that pen would still be gliding smoothly in her crisp notebook. "I've not been developing feelings for Roman, not in the way that would mean love. But... I've done things with him that I shouldn't have done out of my own selfishness and the worst part is I don't regret it. I regret betraying my husband but I don't feel horrible for having a moment of bliss when my whole world is just sat around me in embers," I say, my words quaking and a treacherous tear escaping.
"You said that you don't think you know him as well as you once did, can you elaborate on that?" She asks and I think back to that small note, a message of hope that he is still out there but a reminder nonetheless of how he wasn't at all who I thought he was when he walked into that bookshop.
"I've just found out some pretty big things that he kept hidden from me for a long time and I don't know how to feel about it honestly. I think a part of him didn't tell me to keep me safe but that was always the answer with him and because of it I guess I just believed it too. I thought it was for the best to be kept in the dark, but in hindsight... Look I love him, and I think that's what makes it hurt so much more because if I knew half of the things he did I would like to think I'd share them with him and I just don't understand why he wouldn't do the same back," I confess and each syllable I draw out takes some kind of weight of my chest.
"Do you think the reason you partake in activities with your mate is because of the hurt you feel? It sounds to me as though you almost feel betrayed yourself," she says and I guess in a way I do feel betrayed. Betrayed that he knew about the rebels for the better part of a year-probably more-and never mentioned it, betrayed that he knew about wolves before the world even began to change and that he and everyone in my household had hunters blood-
"No, what happened with Roman... I feel this pull to him, whenever I get sad or lonely and he is there waiting with all the abilities to help me its hard to not take it. I wouldn't have understood that before but things are different when you have some voo doo bond to a guy. I don't want revenge on Ollie, I just want some truth. I mean, backstabbing and conniving from Roman? That wouldn't surprise me but from Oliver? It's so different," I say and she nods.
"So you still deeply distrust your mate?" She pin points and I gulp.
"I wouldn't say deeply, not anymore. I understand Roman's motives and I know exactly what he wants but I also know I'll never be able to give him that which makes me think he could act irrationally. In saying that though the whole idea of him loving me simply because of a bond is so foreign to me, I don't get how you can love someone you barely know," I say and she nods again.
"Understanding is important but sometimes placing yourself in others shoes is near impossible. Wolves put a lot of faith in their goddess and their makeup is entirely different to ours. It is strange, trust me I know, but just as you can't comprehend why he loves you, he can't understand why you don't love him back," she explains but I already knew that. The little crash course wasn't really necessary.
"I get that but it's not really the same for him and I because as equal as I am he still has more power. Maybe some human mates like that but I don't," I confess and the thought wrenches so much emotion in me I have to clench my hands to stop my body from shaking into tears. I need to keep it together, you can't rule a country back into prosperity if you can't sit through one damn session.
"Knowing he holds more power, how does that make you feel?" She asks softly and I blink back those cruel tears.
"Weak," I whisper, "but it also makes me feel like I can be stronger if I want. I've felt weak all my life, always dependent on someone else to help me and maybe that theoretically should have continued with Roman but it didn't. I rely on him in some aspects, sure, but I feel so determined, in a way, to prove him wrong that I at least acknowledge the weakness I have,"
She scribes more things down onto her notepad, "That was- that wasn confusing, I'm sorry," I say and she shakes her head.
"Don't be, getting what you want to say out can be difficult. A lot of people don't have the strength to speak to someone like me, that tells me that you aren't as weak as you might think, Maeve. I can't help much on the subject of mates, but I do know that as a Luna you do rival the Alphas strength in many ways. You may not be able to physically overpower him but in the end of the day he wouldn't lay a hand on you regardless. Your will is stronger than any muscle, don't forget it," she says and I shake my head, my bottom lip quivering because as much as I want to believe that I don't.
My will doesn't feel strong. I feel like at every cross roads I make the wrong choice and disappoint somebody in the process. Nothing I ever do is enough, no matter what choice I make I am going to hurt someone, somewhere and I've never had to deal with that pressure to this magnitude in my life.
"Its hard to forget something that doesn't exist," I reply the last word cracking before I let out a dry laugh, "My will," I shake my head but it doesn't stop the puddle of tears that cascade down my cheeks or the sobs that wrack my body and encase the room in the only emotion I feel when I'm not failing to save people who'd kill me the first chance they got.
"I really think that you are crazy, like I knew it before but now..." I shake my head at Roman who cocks a brow and laughs.
"I just think that it tastes good on pizza, in fact it tastes nice anywhere," he says and I fake gag, further playing into our puerile argument. "I think if I made it for you then your perception would change,"
I scoff, "You can't use that funky bond food magic, that's cheating," I point out, folding my arms as we wait on the meeting to begin. We aren't running late for a first at least.
"What about pineapple chocolate?" He asks and I scrunch my face.
"Ew, that's barbaric," I retort, grimacing at the idea. We had dinner not fifteen minutes ago, and for our last night in France, we had pizza with pineapple on it. I have no idea why pineapple pizza was on the menu for our last night here but it sparked a long debate about where it actually belongs.
"Your human taste buds are just too picky," he says with a cocky grin and I raise my brows at this.
"I think your wolf taste buds will just eat anything without complaint." He laughs at this, knowing how true it is. I'd rather be picky than eat weird food I have no appetite for. Talking regularly with Roman is strange, especially after my sessions these last few days have been primarily centred on him but I'm glad he at least doesn't bring them up.
That was a part of the deal, I go and he doesn't mention it, ever. But I see the way his face crumples slightly, like its agony for him when I walk back into the office with red rimmed eyes. Still, we just continue on with our work like its regular and at night he holds me and that is it. Mutual comfort for a platonic relationship.
I haven't told him about the necklace, or the note. A part of me tugs incessantly for the words to come out but a larger part, the part that wants to keep some poor maid from imprisonment and that note between Ollie and I only wins every time. It wasn't a threat anyway, just a note, a reminder that there is another life out there. That's it.
Roman opens his mouth but a call tone breaks him before he can voice his thoughts and we both look at the green in front of us. We press a green button and one after the other, the screens fill up with the Alpha Superiors and the King. My stomach turns when I see the screen holding Akeno's son.
"Welcome. I may very well see some of you at in the upcoming weeks for the ceremony of Alpha Akeno's life but in case I don't I would like to address you all here. A tragedy has struck our ranks indefinitely but as you all know, the world still turns and we now know without any refutable doubt that Nicholas is a threat that we must deal with," the other Alphas and Lunas mummer their approval, including Roman.
"My primary concern is his links and figuring out the best way to impose a sever to the bond he shares to me. As of yet, Nicolas hasn't completed the ritual to remove his power ties to me so his strength isn't at an optimal point for us to attack unless it is strategic. As far as we know his forces aren't massively large, but the man has had a habit of forging numbers in the past,"
"The longer we wait the more formidable his forces become. When I spoke to his mate at the Luna Superior of New Moon's ceremony before it became insane, she talked of them using humans in battle. She tried to convince me to weaponise the humans under my rule and when I pointed out the cruelty in it she all but sneered in my face," The Luna of Africa states and all attention turns to her.
"What do you mean by this?" The King presses.
"I believe Nicolas is forcing humans to fight for him," she affirms and its like she reached through the screen and bludgeoned me.
"That does complicate things, thank you for your information Luna," the King nods to the stunning woman who returns the action. "On the topic of humans a draft has been made that I will be sending out to each of you after this meeting and I'd like for you all to read over it and show and edits to me by the end of the month. I will try to negotiate terms based on circumstance but this draft must be returned so a final set of laws can be given for you to implement. This isn't up for debate amongst us all, any and all disputes can be given to me in the form of edits and the process will move from there."
Romans finger touches my leg under the table lightly, not in a romantic way, just one to say he acknowledges my work. And the Alpha Kings words do send a wish of pride to my chest, pride and hope and relief that things might actually get better.
"There may very well be a war starting and I want to warn you all now so you have time to prepare your military. I will endeavour to take more steps at diplomacy with the Nicolas but in the case it doesn't work, be ready," he informs and the Alphas break off into a discussion on military strength, one that doesn't primarily concern me, not when the reforms are so close to being implemented.
The New Moon pack, North America, is already seeing schools be built and safe jobs given to humans on fair pay. Only two days ago did hospitals open up for humans on free healthcare which was something that we never even had before. Of course things are easier now, with the advancement in technology and the insanely surprising amounts of wolves who signed up to be blood donors for the influx of patients, caring for peoples health is easier.
A test run for schools, split between were and human admittedly, was set to start in a weeks time which will hopefully open up the opportunity for more parents to earn income and help turn the economy. Restoration of higher education facilities hasn't yet begun simply due to the humans dubious of living out of their current work forces but once things begin to show improvement I have every belief they will open their minds.
"Diplomacy may still prevail. If they have an army of human soldiers like you said then we know his intentions are to let them take the blood. Besides it isn't a question on whether or not we could defeat a human army, that much is obvious which means that there is more to it. Alpha Nicholas may be reckless but he is not utterly stupid, if he's using humans it is likely a diversion from something much larger," Roman states and just like that my attention is snapped back into place.
"You have a solid point Alpha Roman, one that I will consider. But in the mean time I need for you to all be ready, until we know exactly what is coming prepare for the worst. I will be in close contact with you all and a meeting will be organised for those attending the ceremony." The King concludes.
"I'd like for Alpha Tiketo and Alpha Ricus to stay on the call," he says and the I finally learn the Alpha of Antarctica's name, drawn out by the King as if he knew I didn't know it. Ree-shus. Interesting. Roman nods and our screen goes blank, leading him to let out a frustrated sigh.
"Well I guess that was both good and bad," he mummers and I nod, it wouldn't be my life if every positive thing didn't have something horrible attached. "I'll have to let the Beta's know of this and start preparing a news announcement in the case of escalation. I know it discomforts you, Mae but your safety is paramount. If any of my enemies get close to you... you need to always take guards with you if you want to go somewhere and stay inside the boundaries that the military personnel give as a guide. I'm not going to let them kill you," he says firmly, the subject tearing at my insides.
I know he means well, wants to hold me from the reapers grim hands for as long as he can but it still impends on me. That feeling of burden, of liability.
"Okay," I mummer and he nods his head, a sympathetic look passing through his eyes.
"Its not forever. When I was a young boy and there were threats of war I was made to stay in my room at all costs and I know how scary it can be but every time it passed eventually. Plus, with all that training you've been doing I am sure the enemy will be in for quite the shock if they even try to do anything," he says with a slight smirk an I give him a closed-lip smile.
"I'm going to go get ready for tomorrows flight," I announce and he nods.
"I'll be up soon," he reminds me and his eyes glimmer in conflict, like his bond is screaming at him to reach out and comfort me in the only way it now knows how. I make the restraint easier to handle by getting out of my chair and walking up to the room, only turning once to say goodbye at the door.
I take the last folded shirt of mine out the Chester draws and place it neatly into the suitcase, letting out a huff and swiping my hand across my forehead. You don't ever realise how many clothes you have until you need to pack them away.
I stuff my hands into my pocket and pull out the necklace and the note, stuffing the piece of paper in the suitcases lining before sitting back on the floor with folded legs. I turn the pendant of the necklace over in my hands, inspecting it meticulously. What Oliver meant when he gave me the gift for children I have no clue, I haven't been able to figure it out since it appeared.
My initial thought was that he was reminding me of what we could still have but surely he knows by now that we couldn't become intimate for a long while until this bond disintegrates. It could have something to do with Noah's child, a hint perhaps that he is safe or maybe it means something about Carter?
A stress headache slices through my skull and I rub my temples. I truly have no idea. Not like I ever did where Oliver was concerned. What I would give to have a conversation with him, one that wasn't under the impending time pressure of an escape where I could just let him explain. For all the mistruths he ever told he had an explanation, always. I know there is one for all this too, I can feel it in my bones. He has a lot to answer for, as do I admittedly, but I know that there is more to it than him merely deceiving me for his own gain.
He left the hunters to stay with his brothers and I, at least that's my understanding. And if he left the hunters then surely he didn't do the things that the wolves claim they do. I play it out in my head sometimes, usually late at night when I can't sleep even with Roman's touch. As vivid as I am staring at the pendant in my palm now I see him wandering through the woods with the hunters like him, that strange tattoo he kept hidden glinting on his tough skin.
I imagine them finding some wolves and I see Olivers shock, I see the disgust and the horror in what his own people plan to do and I see him defend them. He wouldn't condone anything like that, not ever. And I imagine exactly that. I see him throw his badge to the ground-if they even have badges-and storm off, refusing to be apart of a crime that cruel.
Maybe I'm delusional, or naive, or stupid to think that the man who kept that life a secret didn't do it because of his shame and the knowledge in his heart that I wouldn't stand by him if I knew. But for the safety of me, to prevent me being roped into that world or so he could forget that he ever had to be involved with them. I hope for the latter and pray to whatever god or goddess is above that the former isn't true.
And that's really all I can d-
"What is that?" My head snaps to Roman and my stomach sinks at the harshness of his voice, at the near black look of rage swirling in his very eyes. I don't respond and close my palm over the pendant, standing up tentatively.
"Maeve, what is in your hand?" He growls out, his eyes narrowed in on the black leather that hangs from my grip.
"I-its nothing. Just a trinket I brought at the markets Roman, calm down," I lie and his eyes narrow.
"Maeve, I need you to give it to me," he says slowly, trying to contain whatever rage threatens to burst but my hand only clenches around it, around one of only two remnants of Ollie. "I need you to give that to me and tell me where you got it from," he says, edging closer towards me, that anger directed solely at the object in my hand.
"I got it from the markets-"
"Don't lie to me, Maeve, not about this." He snaps, retaining that dealthy calm voice.
"Its mine," I say and his chest rumbles as he bites back a growl.
"I don't care if it's yours let me look at it. If I am wrong you can have it right back," he counters and I don't hold onto it to keep it from him now, but to keep it from whatever message he will find within it.
"Wrong about what?" I ask, my words shaky.
"Maeve give me the damn necklace," he urges, his voice frantic and laced with a tinge of apprehension.
I concede, throwing the object at his chest and letting my face crumple with its absence. Tears of frustration begin too well in my eyes and I have to bite back a sob of frustration as a growl exits his chest.
"You need to tell me where you got this Maeve. I know very well it wasn't at the markets," he says and as our eyes meet his stony face softens. "Maeve, I'm not mad at you I just really need you to work with me here," he says.
"I found it." I say curtly, hugging my arms around my waist.
"Where?" He presses and I clench my eyes shut.
"In the clothes drawer," I manage to get out, each confession tearing me like my body can sense the betrayal on someone.
I open my eyes just as Roman cliched down on the pendant, snapping it into clean pieces. My feet lurch forwards and I let out a cry of frustration. I go to drop to my knees and pick up the scattered pieces but Roman's hands hoist me up.
"What have you done?" I yell at him and he gives me a sympathetic look.
"I don't know what you think that was, Mae, but it wasn't a friendly gift from your family." The fact he can piece it together in a matter of moments unnerves me but the words he speaks is what causes my heart to plummet in my chest.
"I don't know what you mean," I confess, although a part of me did. A part of me knew that there was every chance the intention behind that necklace wasn't pure but I denied it.
"Thats a pendant designed for the children of hunters. It's a tracking device Maeve that will tell the people who want to kill you your exact whereabouts."
Oops I did it again, but at least this time it ain't a day late tho. I actually wrote this in like four hours (with a few breaks he he) so go me and also if there's a million mistakes, that's why.
Hope too many of you don't try to reach into the book and murder someone but only time will tell lol.
see you later alligator,