Beauty in the Beast

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Chapter 19

The Mating Ritual was less than a day away and I’ve been feeling that pressure crushing me all day. After I cleaned my house and showered I knew I needed to go for a run but I didn’t want to go alone.

“You ready?” Derek asked.

“Yeah.” I shut my door and walked to the edge of my yard before I pulled my t-shirt over my head. We undressed with the purpose of letting our wolves take over, so there was no awkward human feelings of checking each other out.

I took off in front of him, running until I was so far ahead of him I could barely hear his paws hit the dirt. I weaved in between trees and bushes and jumped over the dead stumps of wood that laid in my path. I heard a low growl from behind me which only made me go faster. I yipped as Derek’s wolf knocked me over. We wrestled to the ground, nipping at each other’s fur. I grabbed his ear in my mouth and bit down.

Ow, okay, okay, you win. I released him and stood to my feet. Shaking the dust and dirt from my fur. You’re nervous. He observed. The reality of what tomorrow held was sinking in and not even my wolf could distract me. What’s the worse that could happen? He asked in a joking manner but the scenarios I ran through my head were horrible. The realization that Emmett and Derek were stepping into that ring to fight for me hit me harder than any explosion I’ve been in. I wouldn’t have to chose who I wanted as my mate because the winner was going to chose for me. But then I would be left with a decision to make. Do I pet the wolf who reigns supreme or do I reject my mate and make him look like a fool in front of the whole pack?

Derek. I turned to him and rubbed my body onto his side before circling around and resting my head on his. Promise me something?

Anything you want.

No matter who you fight for tomorrow, please don’t let it be your last fight. There were no new rules about fighting to the death, if that was what it took to end the fight then that was how the fight would end. I never saw Derek in a physical fight before but I trained with Emmett, he trained every day to fight wolves to protect his pack as an Omega. I knew he would fight until there was nothing left in him. The fear that Derek would refuse to give up on me scared me more than accepting a mate.

What are you asking of me, Emma? He knew the answer to his own question but he wanted me to say it.

Promise me you’ll back down if it comes to it. I had no right to ask him to hold back, but I couldn’t help myself. Derek was my only friend for years, he brought me out of my shell more than any other wolf in this pack. I couldn’t lose him.

For you, I’d promise the world.

I didn’t sleep a wink, I couldn’t. I knew Emmett was anxious as well, he was texting me into the late hours of the night before I forced him to sleep. He needed his rest if he was going up against Derek, and at this point I was almost certain he would be. But I couldn’t think about that right now, it was time to get ready for the Mating Ritual. The Elders came up a list of unmated females and chose the order in which they would be presented to the pack. They would be in the woods right now preparing the land for ceremony.

I stood in the bathroom with the curling iron on the counter, heating up as I stared at myself in the mirror. This was the day my life was going to change, I knew it but I didn’t know how. I could feel the power from the moon in my bones. The Mating Ritual was timed so that the ceremony would be over by the time the full moon reached its peak and forced us to morph into wolves. We would run as a pack after until the moon rested for the sun to rise. The following day we all stayed inside to rest from the run and consummate the mating.

The smell of the curling iron heated up brought me back to where I should be. I took small chunks of hair and twirled them around the barrel until they stuck. I finished off my hair and did my make up. I haven’t put this much effort into how I looked in a long time. I took the dress I had hanging in my closet out and slipped it over my legs. I wiggled the fabric past my hips and over my soft skin. I pulled the sleeves into my arms and let them fall on my shoulder. I slipped on a pair of silver high heels with diamond studs that wrapped around my ankles. Little diamond stud earrings matched my shoes. I turned to the mirror in my bedroom and got a full picture of myself. My dress was a dark emerald green, two shades darker than my eyes. The fabric hugged my curves and the neckline plunged to my belly, showing just the slightest curvature of my breasts. Maybe there was some beauty in this beast after all.

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