APPARENTLY IF YOU DON’T VOTE ON STORIES THE BOOGIE MAN WILL COME AND EAT YOU UP AT NIGHT... JUST SAYING
“Nothing is ever as it seems”
This looks bad for me, truly, it does. I could not have stumbled into Roman at a more compromising point than this right here, right now. At least I can confirm that my method to test out his tracking skills was a bust, apparently finding that out is going to take my luck being a little better. Perhaps I could find a place to hide within the palace, behind a shrub maybe or in a closet. Somewhere unconventional enough for him to have to avidly seek me out in an adaption of a childs game because that is the level I have now stooped to.
My rambling thoughts are cut off abruptly with Romans bare body revealing itself in what has to be the most teeth grinding, bone tensing display of transition any living creature can undergo. His bones audibly crack in a series that lasts approximately five seconds and although the switch is smooth it still leaves an uncomfortable feeling brewing deep in my stomach.
The second his chest comes into view I instinctively let my eyes drift down and once they do I turn my body around so fast I’m surprised I don’t fall straight on my ass. That is quite possibly the worst turn of events I have encountered today and I haven’t even been interrogated by my least favourite person yet. I look up towards the clouds, their stark white colour contrasting against the baby blue sky as though Roman’s body isn’t out of my direct eye line. I glance down at the ground and within a second I feel him approach me from behind, I don’t know how I can but I do and I silently pray that he took it upon himself to put some appropriate clothing on.
“Maeve,” he announces in a bid to get my attention and I clench my eyes shut, letting a deep breath escape my lungs before I twist around to face him.
“Roman,” I respond, fighting against the urge to call him Alpha in the presence of others, my instinct irritating me more than using his actual name. I look down briefly and let out another sigh at the sight of khaki shorts covering his nudeness. I tilt my head upwards slightly to peer over his broad shoulders and notice the wolves all stood back at their posts, continuing on with their tasks and allowing us privacy.
“Fancy meeting you here. Tell me, what brings you all the way to this exit?” The urge to lie comes up so quickly, I got lost, I was trying to find you, there was a cat and I chased it here. But I don’t take that path, knowing full well that even if he can’t see straight through it he will only have to ask one of his guard dogs and they’ll spill my true intentions without a second thought.
“I was going to go out there but your guards wouldn’t let me,” I answer and he narrows his eyes, like my honesty is more hurtful than me bothering to soften the blow.
“I see,” he quips, his full lips now pursed into a straight line.
“They said I needed a pass and that I should ask you for one,” I blurt out, folding my arms across my chest.
“Well they are correct,” he responds and as he opens his mouth to hammer me with more questions I cut him off.
“Can I have a pass then? There are some things that I need to do,” I ask and he lets out a dry laugh but there is no reciprocation of a smile on my face which makes him raise a brow.
“Oh are there? Well I am sure that whatever it is that you need from out there, I can have someone fetch it within the hour. As for you, I hope you can take this as a lesson to realise where you can and cannot go from here on in,” he answers with finality seeping through each of his words, the smile on his face also vanishing.
“Someone else can’t get it for me I have to do this myself, Roman. I promise you that I am not going to sprint off into the horizon for gods sake, just let me do this one thing.” I stare at him with exhaustion rimming my eyes, the tightness of my arms cradling my body only increasing.
“Get what exactly?” He presses and I let out a frustrated grunt, clenching my hands tightly.
“It’s none of your business,” I quip back a little too harshly and he narrows his eyes.
“You are my business, Maeve and whatever it is you wish to do outside of this compound is also my business. If you want to go out there so badly then you can tell me why or I’ll happily escort you back to our quarters,” he finishes and I want to unclasp my hands and wrap them around his neck, his compulsive need to know every minor detail about me utterly infuriating.
“I want to go and get some flowers,” I answer firmly, making sure that there are no traces of fear or nervousness in my voice, only solidity.
“Flowers. There is quite literally an entire botanical garden right behind you, why on earth would you need to go out there for flowers?” He questions quizzically, his brows furrowed.
I look down for a brief second before meeting his gaze once again. “I know, they aren’t for me. I want to go and get some for...” My voice trails off and I feel my throat tighten around the words that I can’t force out, choking them so tightly it becomes hard to breathe.
“For who Maeve?” He pushes, his eyes becoming firmer as they contemplate who the recipient could be.
“For Lucy.” To my surprise, his eyes soften at this and he doesn’t make the decision to drag me back into my room. Instead, his hand twitches at his side-only briefly-and I assess the inner turmoil he faces.
“Is it absolutely necessary that you collect them from outside these walls?” He asks but his voice is void of any malice as if he already knows the answer and knows the answer why.
He closes his mouth in thought for a moment and then turns towards the gate, then back to me. “Fine, let’s go,” he says and I take a step back instinctively which makes him furrow his brows in annoyance. “Maeve you’re not going out there without protection, this may be my world but anything could happen and I will not risk you getting hurt over some flowers. Even if I trusted that you wouldn’t make a run for it, I wouldn’t let you out there alone,” he tells me strictly and initially, I want nothing more than to beat him to a pulp but the look in his eyes tells me that this goes deeper than that.
It isn’t because he thinks that I am incompetent when it comes to protecting myself-well that could possibly be a factor- or that he wouldn’t be able to catch my if I tried to escape again, no. He thinks what happened to his sister is going to happen to me. My heart sinks a little at this revelation and I look back at him with empathy. I knew that he carried the burden of her brutal death on his shoulders but to know that after all this time he still believes that if he had’ve listened to his fathers constricting rule then it wouldn’t have happened hurts me.
“Okay,” I mumble and his features visibly soften before he turns and begins walking to the exit. I follow him right up to the threshold where he stops to talk with the same guard who I conversed with in a low, inaudible tone.
A deep, shaky breath escapes my body and I ball my hands into fists at my side, looking at the deep green forest that lies before me. My heart picks up a few paces and I try to steady out its rhythm but to no avail. I’m going to get outside of here, there will no longer be any walls barricading me from the wilderness, the only chain on my ankle will come in the form of Roman but I don’t care. I’m getting out. I’m getting out and I’m going to find the most beautiful wild flowers under the sun to put at Lucy’s resting place. Flowers she deserves.
I take a tentative step forward and instantly my muscles relax as a smooth gush of wind ripples through the sweater I’m wearing. Wind that is free to go where it wants at whatever velocity it so chooses, wind that can’t be stopped because of any walls anymore. I envy it but admire it all the same.
I feel a hand encase mine but I don’t fight it, letting me do this is going against Roman’s better judgement, going against his instincts and his fears and I will not test that anymore than I have.
I turn my body to face him and blush when I realise he had been staring at me already, our gazes meeting uncomfortably. Words appear in my head in the millions like light speed, so many subconscious options as to what I could say to break the ice but none flow from my mouth and instead I just unclasp my hand from his gently and begin to walk into the woods with the big bad wolf trailing right behind me.
“I think we’re lost,” I turn to Roman with a bouquet of flowers in my hand all picked from different spots over the course of the last two hours. Roman and I engaged in small talk here and there but neither of us tried to develop it into any more than just that.
The corner of his lip lifts slightly although I can tell he is trying to fight it. “No, we’re not. These grounds may not be confined by walls but they are still my pack all the same, are you ready to head back now?” He answers and I mentally scold myself for not knowing he was a walking magic GPS.
“Right, umm,” I trail off, he hasn’t asked me yet to return back and I’ll admit, every time he does initiate conversation I constantly fear that is what he will bring up. His question didn’t hold any annoyance or eagerness to make me go back and quite frankly I don’t really want to. “You probably have things you need to do, don’t you?” I ask him, failing to conceal the twinge of sadness in my tone.
“Yes, I have plenty of things I need to do but they can wait. I have Betas for times like these don’t forget,” he adds with a lighter mood, aiming to erase my sudden sadness. I give him a small smile and continue walking through the forest.
“Where is she buried?” I ask in a sheepish voice, my eyes downcast as he strolls next to me, stiffening at the mention of Lucy.
“Her body has been buried in a human graveyard East of here. When she came to the palace it was said that she owned a golden cross which she would sleep with at night. So she’s with her people now, I suppose.” I gulp thickly and nod my head. Religion isn’t allowed, not where I’m from but where humans are buried is up to them, wolves won’t dig up a grave in fear of retribution from their goddess.
“She was a good kid, she didn’t deserve to die like that,” he says and I stop dead in my tracks before turning to face him.
“She’s not the only one. So many of them die, Roman and just because she’s gone because of a human doesn’t excuse what you’ve done,” I answer back and his face hardens.
“You really want to go there? Right here? Right now?” He questions, his eyes narrowed. So much for trying not to argue, that lasted all of about five seconds.
“I have been trying to go there since the moment I came here. I want to know why you think it is okay for you to oppress humans and let them die but all you can answer me with is ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’” I mock, taking a brave step closer to him, “So tell me, tell me what I don’t know and stop being so fucking theatrical. Tell me why so many people have died under your rule,” I place the flowers down onto a large rock next to me and look at Roman expectantly.
“In war people die, Maeve that is the way it is and I can assure you that if we’d lost then young pups would’ve been slaughtered by the thousands, more so than they already were,” he answers back firmly but I shake my head.
“That’s not true, humans wouldn’t have done what you have,” I respond but I don’t say it with conviction because I don’t fully know if that’s the truth, I don’t have an opal ball.
“They already were. My people were suffering, parents of pups that had been taken to camps to be experimented on were pleading with me to make change, to strike revenge and not just a few. While humans lived carelessly, our existence was being discovered, one small pack at a time.”
“I tried to make it better Maeve, I tried to take the easy way believe me, I did. I brought pack leaders into politics, had them attend meetings that were held with the purpose of eradicating their families and try to convince them through empathy. I tried so hard to make coexisting possible but it wasn’t and I couldn’t let any more of my people die because humans were too scared to believe we were more than monsters.” His voice had risen by now and I stood soaking up every word he spoke, trying to make heads or tails of what he meant. His blue eyes narrowed and his lip raised slightly with disgust.
“You have no idea how hard it was for me, how hard the choices I have had to make are because you see what you want to see. The Alpha’s couldn’t take having their family hunted down anymore and neither could I. The humans had ample time to negotiate, to make peace and they chose not to,”
I turn my head away form his and fold my arms, tears beginning to stream down my face, not just at his tone but because the words he speak stir something within me.
“And look at you, you are repulsed by me. You would’ve been repulsed by me even if we hadn’t met under the circumstances we did. If my own soul mate can’t even bring herself to see past my wolf then how on earth could the rest of the human race?”
“I am repulsed by you because of what you have done. How many people have died because of the system that you put into effect? You could’ve made things better than you did and you chose not to. Stop trying to play it out as if you are some godsend that was backed into a corner,” I rebuke and his expression softens.
“I regret the system that I made and I want to rectify that. You don’t understand Maeve and I know you think you do but you don’t. As a ruler I take the demands of my people into consideration and my people wanted revenge, the Alpha King himself wanted revenge. I executed the men and women who orchestrated the attacks against our packs and I killed those who deserved it under pack law, I didn’t allow random killing sprees to occur. If you knew of what other packs were able to do then maybe you’d understand, I have done the best I can and I am going to continue to try and make things better for you, for them.”
“I know what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to win me over with sweet talks of the future and excuses but that doesn’t shy away from the fact that I don’t want to be with you. Maybe you had your reasons and maybe some of them hold an ounce of legitimacy but that doesn’t mean that I am just going to fall in your arms and accept being something I’m not,” I respond but my mind won’t stop whirring, I don’t doubt what he says but I don’t believe it either. I don’t know.
“What more do you want me to say? That I’m sorry? I am sorry, Maeve, I’m sorry any of this ever happened but I’m not going to cry myself to sleep every night because of it. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and in a war I didn’t have the choice to be merciful to everybody, it simply doesn’t work like that,” he says again and I turn around and continue walking through the forrest, Roman hot on my tail. His hand grips around my bicep, not tight enough to hurt and he spins me to face him.
“You can’t just walk away from this Mae, you can’t walk away from me, it isn’t that simple. I know that hearing this must be hard and that it’s partially my fault for not telling you sooner but I was afraid that you’d react how you are. I thought if I gave you time to get to know me and to experience everything great that comes with the bond we shared then you’d understand. Hating me, wanting me dead isn’t going to fix any of your problems, it may feel that way to you now but it doesn’t help anyone,” I look towards the ground and he puts his hand underneath my chin, lifting it up so that our gazes meet.
“Please, Maeve. Please try to understand where I am coming from, the things I do as Alpha are my duties, they are necessary to make the world function. I am willing to try and be kinder and to show more compassion which is part of the reason I have you, to bring balance to the packs and to me. But you’re so damn stubborn, you think that the world is against you, that everything that happens to you is somebody else’s fault, well let me tell you something, Maeve. It’s nobodies fault. You and I would’ve met even if this world we live in didn’t exist, some day, at some point our paths would’ve collided and all these responsibilities would still be yours to bear. This is the work of the goddess, believe it or don’t but that’s what it is and the longer you carry on trying to pretend that it will go away the worse it will be,” he confesses and I clench my hands at my side, in my true stubborn nature.
“I don’t want to be with you. Why can’t you- I just don’t want any of this,” I raise my hands at the end and a few frustrated tears slip from my eyes that I wipe away instantly.
“I know. I know that you don’t and that this is all hard for you but you need to grow up,” I clench my jaw and he lets out a scoff, “I don’t even know why I bother trying to explain it to you, Maeve because in the end of the day you are just going to ignore it and think what you want. I can admit when I am wrong about something, I was wrong to allow the treatment of humans to continue under my rule and I was equally wrong to try and shelter you from things I should’ve said ages ago. But you can’t.” He presses and I take another step closer to him, the heat and power that rolls from his body in magnitudes nearly knocking me off course.
“I can so. You don’t even know the first thing about me Roman, you’re not a bloody psychic. How can it be my fault that I jumped to conclusions when you kept everything from me? I was wrong, okay? I was wrong about many of the things I thought I knew but the reason I was wrong was out of my hands,” I rebuke and he steps closer to me.
“Just like how the reasons I was wrong were out of mine,” he counters and I look down because maybe he is right, maybe sometimes in this world it isn’t anybodies complete fault what happens and sometimes things occur that are out of our control.
“I don’t-” I purse my lips and take a few steps away from him, raising my hands in front of me before dropping them again.
“I know, I know you don’t want to deal with this right now and you shouldn’t have to. Let’s just get the flowers for your friend and take them to her, tomorrow we can continue our debate if it so pleases you,” he says and I nod my head, unsure of what else I can really respond to that with.
He turns on his heels and begins to walk back down a narrow path we walked through to et here and I pick up my arrangement of flowers that sit on a large rock, clutching the bouquet at the stem and follow him back through the forrest. Not even the serenity of the forrest can erase the tension that floats between us or stop my mind from buzzing with a million thoughts of my own.
We travelled by car to the graveyard and the entire way there I gazed out of the window, avoiding Roman’s frequent glances towards me. It was just us, no chauffeur, no warrior wolves, no maids, nobody. Which in all honestly made it that much worse. There was a radio and it played a few songs that I listened to back in my time until they stopped and the station began a studio discussion about the ceremony just held. Roman quickly turned it off after they started to brag about the clear love between their Alpha and Luna Superior.
The second the grim graveyard came into view my stomach twisted and I began to choke up. Roman parked the car at the bottom of a slight hill and didn’t make a move to get out of the car, instead he reached over near me and fished through the glove box, pulling out a laptop. He flicked the locks on my door off from the controls on his and gave me a look that confirmed he wasn’t going to follow me out there. He didn’t need to tell me twice.
I walked up the hill and past all the stone heads, my heart stopping every time one was marked with an L. It only took me about five minutes to see her newly covered grave, a large wooden cross stuck at the top of the brown mound with her name engraved in cursive. My body froze for an instant, looking at the heap of dirt that conceals my friend, her lively body now stuck underneath the earth and a tear rolls down my skin. I sit down at the end of her grave and place the large bunch of flowers on top and wiping away more of the tears that roll down my cheeks.
“Hey, Luc,” I squeak out before sobs wrack my body and I have to work furiously to regulate my breaths once more.
“Hey, I didn’t plan anything to say and I wish that I did even though I don’t know if you can hear me. I hope that you can hear me, I hope you are in a better place, somewhere so much greater than here,” I can’t stop the steady flow of cries that interrupt my message no matter how hard I try to compose myself for her.
“I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry Lucy, I should never have let this happen to you and I’m sorry. You deserved so much more, so much happiness and it’s not fair that I get to be down here while you are up there.” I bury my face in my hands and let the sobs continue, my body shutting down with the pent up emotion I feel.
I tell her about the ceremony and I promise that I will find her love and make sure he is okay, that I will make sure all the humans are okay. I sit and I talk not knowing if she can hear me or not for an hour until the rain begins to pour down around me and I am reduced to a weeping woman soaking wet on the ground. It was only when Roman came out and lifted my depleted body from the ground to carry me back to the car that I let myself cave into the exhaustion and fall asleep in arms that held me tight.
Hey guys! I just want to say that on so many of the books I’ve been reading on here people are all “ew authors notes, what could you possibly have to say every freaking chapter that amounts to something important blah blah blah” and to that I have one response. please kindly stfu. I do apologise if these notes seem terribly annoying to many of you but the basic truth is I kind of live for them, getting to interact with readers is honestly such a big part of why I continue my unpaid hours of relentless writing lol
Rant over and also, as a side note, the boogie man will not eat you if you don’t vote-that was just a lame attempt to get some support so yeah- in saying that please don’t un-vote and also you can rest easy now, you’re welcome.
ALSO SORRY INKITT FOR THE LATE UPDATE ILYSM