“There’s no more chasing rainbows and hoping for an end to them,”
-Lana Del Ray
My entire body becomes as stiff as a board. Ribbons. I blink, as if that will erase the words Roman just uttered into the universe.
“What?” I question and his chest heaves with a sigh, his thick arms pulling me into him like a teddy bear as he grumbles.
“Lets not worry about it now, there’s a whole day tomorrow where we can fuss over whatever Alpha Nicholas is getting at with his strange antics,” he mummers into my skin, those plush lips sending sparks through my body that do nothing to quell the knot forming in my stomach.
Liberty is worth more than ribbons. Liberty. I look down at the muscled arm caging me to Roman’s chest and I try to regulate my breathing.
It has to be a coincidence, there’s no way… I think back to the last meeting with the Alpha King, the one where it became known that humans were enlisted to fight for Nicholas. The idea even then struck me with some confusion, handing humans guns-the wolf killing kind-seemed like a rather strange concept. If the humans of South America were treated as badly as they say then blindly following the very man who did it to them doesn’t make sense. Nor does the logic in a leader basically giving masses of wolf hating humans the power to turn around and destroy the wolves within the country itself.
Unless… my breathing quickens and I shove gently against Romans bicep to which his grip tightens. He lets out a mix between a low growl and a grumble but I shove his grip again and he lets me go. The second I have a hint of space, I crawl from the bed, my head spinning with questions. “Maeve?” I turn to Roman and I’m sure he see’s the panic on my face despite the rooms darkness as he sits up quickly. “Whats wrong?” He asks, pure concern masking his tone and I breathe quicker, mumbling out an incoherent response.
I rush over to the walk in closet and close the door behind me, locking the door and flinching as the handle starts twisting from the opposite side followed by what sounds like a growl mixed with a whine. “Maeve,” he knocks on the wood and the thumping mimics in my mind. I gulp harshly, rushing over to my empty suitcase with fumbling hands. “Maeve what is going on? Open the door,” he says, his words full of more concern now.
“Maeve.” He says lowly when I don’t give him an answer, my hands dipping into the crevices of the luggage. Come on. “Maeve,” his voice slips from concern to pure worry, “I’m coming in.” He decides and I stop what I’m doing.
“No!” I yell, startled back into reality.
The door isn’t ripped from its hinges.
“What’s going on Maeve? Let me in,” he pleads and I know he doesn’t mean for me to just let him into the room, not with the desperation coating his words.
I gulp. “Its…”
“What?” He presses and I suck in a harsh breath.
“Its my period,” I blurt and silence instantly envelops the room for a solid thirty seconds.
“Oh,” he mumbles from the other side and I close my eyes. “I can’t smell any blood,” he comments and my face heats at his candour.
“Its coming, I forgot it was nearer my due date. Just back to bed,” I say, grimacing. I do not want to be having this conversation with Roman right now. I don’t want to have it ever white frankly.
“You don’t need to hide your discomfort from me,” he mumbles, still clearly lingering on the other side of the door. “Do you need me to get you some…things? What about some food? Humans get pains don’t they? I can make you some brownies or get a heat pack,” he rambles and I I’d find it humorous if my hand wasn’t fishing for a love note from my husband.
I deliberate his offer, “Yes, please. Just go get me things,” I respond, wanting to get him as far away from the room for the next few seconds as I can.
“I’ll be right back,” he says through the wood and I let out a sigh of relief as I hear the room door open and shut.
My fingers encase around the small folded note and I pull it out, unwrapping it and soothing out the crevices.
LIBERTY IS WORTH MORE THAN RIBBONS
-George Orwell, Animal Farm
Humans wouldn’t follow wolves, that much is seemingly obvious but other humans… The crate of ribbons was sealed with the marking of the South American pack. If there were to be a human army with access to weaponry that’d kill wolves then there is a large as hell chance their leader is of the same kin, or at least appears to be.
I move quickly, tucking the note into my sweatpants pocket and rush out of the closet, moving towards my dresser. My fingers seize the large book of ancient tellings and I hurl it to the bed, flicking open the pages with ferocity as I rush to that story. The story of the hunters.
My eyes rush across the page, skimming over the details of the human confession until I find what confirms my dread.
The Kings gathered at a gala and invited King Adger to attend, luring him in with promises of news on the shifter killings. At that gala, whilst lords and ladies from courts all over the lands dined and wined the King was tricked into entering a room said to hold one of the men responsible from the attacks. Blinded by rage, King Adger entered the room only to be trapped in, sealed by silver walls and left to face Sir Arthur Hunt.
Sir hunt lured the King of the wolves, tricked him and used his desire for vengeance to end his life. Just like the human soldiers would no doubt be led straight into conflict with the enemies of Alpha Nicholas before turning on he himself.
The enemies being us.
The hunters are working with Nicholas. Ollie. They must’ve known about the message he sent me, the private note coded well enough for only the two of us to understand was read and used in a tactical mission by the hunters. What were the ribbons on the shore today then? A hint? A further message from Ollie to me about my decision? Could it just be a taunt? Maybe the hunters weren’t even betting on me finding out through Roman. Maybe this was just a fun little jab to him that he wouldn’t be able to understand until its too late.
My mind buzzes with the revelation and I clutch my head, trying to make some sense of the madness it has discovered. The door bursts open and I nearly jump out of my skin as Roman bursts into the room, carrying a large bundle of things in his muscled biceps.
He really just walked through the corridors of this establishment carrying a shit tonne tampons and chocolate? “The kitchen staff were gone and the key was no where to be found so I couldn’t make you brownies. I can go back if you’d like and try again. I also got some massage oil for your… pains and-” he drops the items on the bed and his eyes narrow in on the book, sprawled open onto that one page before turning his blue gaze onto me. “Why do you have that out?” He asks, pointing to it for emphasis.
I look at him and then back to the collection of items on the bed and realisation overcomes his face. “Its not your period is it?” He states and I shake my head, confirming his suspicions.
“What’s going on, Maeve?” He says and my hand shoots to cover my pocket, his eyes trailing the movement.
My breathing quickens and I gulp, as if that will solve any of my issues. I can’t swallow my troubles away and suppress them, not anymore. I meet Romans steely gaze and reach into my pocket, pulling out the folded piece of paper.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
I sat with a thick blanket, softer than anything I’d ever felt before, wrapped around me as I sat on the office lounge, willing myself to stay awake. Roman paced the office floor in front of me, annoyed and utterly tense.
“We will need to bring this up at an emergency meeting tomorrow when the other Superiors arrive, it isn’t ideal to talk of this a day before Akeno’s passing ceremony but it must be done.” He says firmly and I nod wearily, glancing at the clock reading half past three in the morning. I felt dead-probably looked it too- but Roman was as wide awake.
I’d confessed the note in the room-dealt with his response as best I could and shoved whatever shame arose within me to a deep dark part of myself. Ever since then we’d been sat in our allocated office, guards on full patrol outside as he interrogated me for every slice of information I had. And I told him all of it.
I told him about how I met Oliver, about how we forever joked about the book Animal Farm that had fallen between us and fawned over its greatness-magnified by our love. I told him about the note, about the hidden message and let him figure out the correlation on his own.
And as much as I should have felt guilty- I didn’t. Not when the hunters were working with Nicholas and both of them had tried to kill me. Every time I processed the thought I felt like I was being stabbed in the gut with a thick knife and every time I understood what it meant, it felt like the knife twisted.
The poison-an attempt so obvious and cruel at the hands of Nicholas that rendered me near dead wasn’t an alienated case and it wasn’t just him who wanted my life. Not when Noah had also been asked to assassinate me and I was given a death necklace and god. They really want me dead. The people I am supposed to be running too when I find a way out of this bond. My only allies in this world are trying to kill me.
The hunters and the South American Alpha Superior are working together and they want a damn war. A war won’t solve anything and I’m not about to sacrifice the chance to implement actual change in the position I have with minimal death and destruction for it either.
“The other Alpha Superiors are not aware of your affiliation with the hunters and it must stay that way,” he says growing agitated but letting his emotions pass as he rests against his desk and lets out a heavy sigh.
“How are we going to explain to them the hunters are working with them then? They’ll never believe it,” I counter and he pushes from the desk, resuming his pacing.
He lets a curse word slip from his mouth, “I know. But if we tell them this it changes a lot of things, Maeve,” he says and I bristle in my seat.
“Like what?” I ask and he huffs.
“Like your reputation for a start-our reputation. No one is going to believe a word that comes out of your mouth or subsequently mine and if we want these reforms to go ahead then it is imperative that does not happen.”
“Then how are we going to convince them that the hunters are also involved? They’re hardly going to just agree with us without any solid evidence,” I refute, hugging onto the blanket that encases me tighter.
“The hunters have done a good job at staying hidden for these last few years but they can’t stay hidden forever, not when they are wired to eradicate my kind. When it comes to convincing the others… we will say the ribbons were a symbol of camaraderie between the group of human rebels that tired to kidnap you. Those same rebels confessed to having ties with the hunter organisation whilst under interrogation and so when we bring up the matter of the seaweed farms they will be able to connect the dots that way,” he explains like he is just figuring out the plot himself and I shift in my seat uncomfortably. The way he can string together such a convincing lie in a matter of moments doesn’t out me at ease in the slightest.
“You think that’ll work?” I ask and he exhales deeply.
“It has too. If things start going wrong then we need to just stick to our story, hopefully the news is shocking enough for them to accept it and move on with figuring out how to stop them-which is an entirely different thing,” he says and I have to agree. This is an entirely different thing. One that I have absolutely no idea how to solve.
“When are the others arriving exactly?” I ask and he walks over to his desk, opening a ile and skimming through it.
“The meeting is scheduled at midday,” he answers, continuing to read through the file before he closes his eyes and shakes his head, like he can’t let a thought go unanswered for a moment longer and turns to face me. “Were you ever meaning to tell me of this note?” He says, picking the piece of paper up and throwing it back on the desk.
When he turns to face me his eyes aren’t lined with anger but they glimmer with what I can only pin point as hurt. I look down at my lap, giving him all the answer he needs.
“I didn’t think it meant that. I thought-” I cut myself off, masking the pain in my own voice before it can morph into anything more.
“Even after I told you of the necklace? Why Maeve?” His eyes are wide, pleading for me to work with him at least a little.
“I wanted to keep it for just me. Its the only thing that I have of him-no photos, no necklace, nothing. I just wanted something from him,” I admit and he nods solemnly. “I don’t want to forget him Roman and I’m scared out of my mind that I will. What if one day I wake up and I can no longer remember what he looks like, the sound of his voice? I know you want that-you want him to be a faint memory in my mind but the more I lose of him the more I want to find-of that makes any sense,” I explain, preparing myself for a chorus of moon scripture about mate-ship but it doesn’t come.
“That’s understandable. He was a big part of your life and the thought of your heart belonging to another- it tears me up inside but my anger at it won’t make it go away. If you want to find a photo of him, memorabilia or whatever then I’m not going to stop you but these walls you’re putting up need to come down, if only temporarily. He might be important to you but if what we have discovered is true then he is even more so my enemy now than before. And my enemies are your enemies whether you want them to be or not,” he says and the skin between my brows wrinkle.
“But what if he’s not? This message could very well have been a warning just as much as a taunt, Roman. Maybe we could work with him rather than against him,” I point out and he mulls over my words for a moment before shaking his head.
“Placing our fate in the hands of someone who very well could’ve killed you is foolish-even if it wasn’t him specifically-the people he works with want us both dead. There are too many variables for us to have blind faith on this,” he says and as much as I want to rebut his statement, depend everything, myself, on Oliver’s valour-there is too much that I don’t know. Too many things that could go horribly wrong.
“What happens now then?” I ask and he shoots me an incredulous look.
“We attend the meeting,” he says obviously.
“We prepare ourselves for whatever is going to come next.”
Everyone sat around a large circular table. Everyone. With the current climate I guess the Alpha and Luna Superiors understood the importance of attending this meeting and rightfully so considering the bomb Roman and I intend on dropping.
Every world leader sat around the table-all but one. There was small chatter, broken into smaller groups as we awaited the arrival of the man meant to occupy the one seat still vacant. The largest seat of all the surrounding the table. The ceremony wasn’t scheduled until next week and this meeting was only supposed to include those that decided to arrive earlier for personal reasons but it seems everyone here had the same agenda. And I don’t blame them, missing out on world politics at a time like now is a mistake not many can afford-especially when we are dealing with an enemy whose moves are entirely unpredictable.
“Is he even coming?” I ask, turning to Roman who sports an annoyed scowl no doubt as a result of the Kings tardiness.
“He runs on his own clock ninety percent of the time,” Is his only response as he leads back in his chair, folding those large arms and continuing his brooding scowl.
I resume my attention to look around the table at the other Alphas, some mimicking Roman and others reading intently the file given to all of us upon arrival to the meeting room. The Luna’s are all either talking amongst themselves-most fawning over Luna Beatrice of Europe who is notably the oldest of us all and apparently the new queen bee.
The doors to the room swing open and low and behold, the Alpha King strides in and his power shocks me, my spine going completely rigid. His eyes run over the table before locking with mine and I still as a smirk worms its way onto his face. I hear Roman let out a low growl and the King turns his attention to him, his smirk turning into a grin.
Everything about the man in the doorway screams power, his build notably larger than the others here and his composure completely casual despite his presence in a room full of people who are all slightly annoyed with him. His eyes return to mine, boring a hole straight through me and I avert my gaze as he stalks around the room and takes a seat in his throne.
“Now that we are all here I suppose the meeting should commence,” he says as though he was waiting on us all and not the other way around. I can almost hear Romans expression. Cocky bastard. “I must say I am delighted at todays turnout, seeing the tired old faces of these Alpha’s get a little boring wouldn’t you say?” He says and a few of the Luna’s try to hide their smile as their mates scowl.
“I have received all your comments on the human laws, Alpha Tiketo and Luna Anwara I am most impressed at your developments and efficiency in implementation,” he nods to them and my heart swells with hope at news the reforms are actually happening. They’re actually happening.
“Thank you, your majesty,” Luna Anwara responds, smiling kindly.
“I have passed on your comments to the council to deliberate so we will continue on that subject once they complete their duties,” he says and I can’t help but notice how different his voice sounds when he’s a mere metre away.
“Speaking of humans, have their been any advancements on the matter of Nicholas’ human army? We have increased all defences of the European borders but want to be prepared. Our protection is paramount but what my people need to know is if this war will be taking place on our soil or if we will be making the advancements,” Alpha Damion asks in his thick Germanic voice and I glance at Roman to which he nods ever so slightly.
“That much is still undecided. If we are to truly impose these laws on an international level then perhaps we will have to be the attacking force,” The King replies and Roman unfolds his arms.
“You might want to reconsider that,” he says and all attention turns to him.
“And why is that Alpha Roman?” The king presses and my stomach does summer saults.
“Because the humans aren’t being led by Alpha Nicholas on his own. We have reason to believe that the hunters are working together with him and guiding the humans into war with weaponry capable of killing wolves on a larger scale,” he says and a few gasps sound from around the table, a soft mummer slowly rising.
King Tiberius leans forwards in his seat, any hint of mirth completely gone and replaced with an expression of pure steel. “What makes you believe this?” He asks and I think back to the Kings parents, his family and friends and his mission to purge the world of the people cursed to murder his kind. People like Ollie.
I gulp. “Our farms in the Atlantic along with bases meant for climate preservation were bombed last night and a crate sealed with Nicholas’ mark was left ashore. The crate contained an abundance of ribbons which might seem a strange game but those same ribbons were worn by members of the human rebel group that tried to siege my home on the night of the Luna’s ball. After interrogation, we discovered that those very rebels were affiliated closely with the remaining hunter groups which allows the connection to be made,” he explains and the King raises his finger an inch, ceasing the baffled conversations of the other leaders instantly. His eyes lock with mine and I use all my self restraint to not shift in my seat under his intense gaze.
“Is this true?” He asks and I nod before feeling Romans hand on my leg in a subtle hint.
“Yes,” I blurt and he narrows his eyes but nods firmly, a darkness that sends fear coursing through me taking over his face.
“I had my people look further into Nicholas’ trade history and over the last year he has been importing a large amount of silver into his custody. We don’t know what deal the hunters have struck with him but we do know that with whatever kind of power they now possess, they will be a difficult enemy to overcome,” he says and my mind can’t stop going to Oliver and Carter who are both with the enemy right now.
“There has to be a diplomatic solution to all this. I agree that we must prepare for war should it come but surely it would be best to try and figure out some kind of armistice between yourselves and the hunters to avoid maximum destruction,” I say and growls sound out from around the table instantly and Roman’s hand finds my thigh, sending me a clear warning.
“The last time we took your advice of diplomacy my father was murdered,” Alpha Michika spits at me and other surrounding the table agree with him.
“Your father knew very well what he was getting into when he went on that trip. And I know you are new to leadership pup but if you raise your voice at my mate one more time you and I will have some serious issues,” Roman snarls, glowering in Michika’s direction.
“Are you threatening me in my own pack?” He yells back and King Tiberius lets out a snarl that silences the both of them.
“Enough. Michika you should know not to threaten someones mate, don’t be foolish.” He says before turning his attention onto me. “Negotiating with the hunters will not be happening. Not under any circumstances.” He says firmly and Roman’s grip on me tightens but I push his hand aside.
“They are cursed. Is there no way a curse can be revok-”
“The only people who could revoke the curse were the witches, all of whom were murdered by hunters centuries ago. I strongly suggest you drop this conversation before you dig yourself a hole you can’t escape Luna,” he says and I bite my tongue, noticing the flash of anger in Tiberius’ eyes diminish.
“If the hunters are working with the wolves then it is only a matter of time before war begins. Neither of their motives can be trusted and now the only thing we need to figure out is how to win without killing millions of innocent people in the process.”
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