Beauty in the Beast

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Chapter 21

I couldn’t even look to see what the reaction from my pack was because I couldn’t take my eyes off the golden ones that now stood in front of me. This changes everything. There were two wolves down there that would have to beat an Alpha. This Mating Ritual just turned into an Alpha Challenge. Whoever won this fight would be Alpha, whether it be Nick who already is the alpha, or a new alpha if Nick lost this fight. Which means, not only am I leaving this ceremony a mated wolf, but I will now walk away as Luna. What the hell is going on? Am I dreaming? Why would he do this? I had no answers, but just because my mind was just blown didn’t mean the Mating Ritual was going to be put on pause.

“The last wolf standing will offer himself to his mate.” Josephine’s voice brought order to the pack. “Stepping beyond the stones disqualifies you if you wish to step down.” She took her time to look each wolf in the eye. “Begin.” She bowed her head and the three wolves growled at each other. Derek and Emmett circled Nick like prey. It was a smart move, take out the strongest together and then may the best wolf win.

How could I watch this? They were going to kill him, they’d have to kill him. There’s no way he would back down and just give his pack over to one of them. But what if they didn’t? What if he killed them? Could I accept him as my mate knowing he killed my best friend? I slapped my hand over my mouth, hiding a scream as Derek made the first move, jumping on Nick’s back. His jaws clamped down on his shoulder and Nick fell to the dirt, crushing Derek under him. Emmett used this to his advantage and went for Nick’s throat but was met with a paw to the face so hard he fell to the ground with Derek. Derek recovered first, Nick’s blood dripping from his teeth. Emmett wasn’t far behind as he jumped to his feet. The two wolves circled Nick again, waiting for an opening. Nick wasn’t going to give them one and that was clear. Emmett stayed low and snapped at Nick’s paws until he jumped up enough for Derek to grab the fur on his chest. Nick growled loudly and pawed at Derek’s face to release him as Emmett jumped to his side and swiped his claws into Nick’s ribs. I knew this was killing Emmett to have to fight his beloved Alpha, as an Omega he was loyal to a fault. But the plan was working and the two wolves looked as if they just might take the Alpha down.

Nick wasn’t going to back down and he wasn’t giving up. Nick leaned down as much as he could until his muzzle could reach Derek. He clamped down on his head and bit but Derek didn’t let go. Oh, sweet Moon Goddess he was going to crush his skull. I fell to my knees, not caring who was watching me. Please, Derek, you promised me. Please. As if he heard my thoughts, he released Nick’s chest and in return Nick released his skull. The smell of blood filled my nose. This was going to be a bloody battle. Emmett went in for another hit on Nick but Nick’s wolf slammed him to the ground. His paw came up and slashed into Emmett’s side like a knife through butter. The howl that escaped Emmett’s wolf was painful to hear. Blood flowed from his wound like the river flowed behind us. Moon Goddess, he was going to bleed out. Suddenly, Nick was slammed to the ground, Derek quickly jumped on top of him and began swiping at Nick’s chest in a digging motion until Nick was able to bring his hind legs up under Derek and kick him off. Derek slid to the edge of the stones, looking up at Nick he let out a low growl and didn’t hesitate to jump up again into the fight. He was going to have to take out Nick alone, Emmett’s weak body was pulling himself out of the ring, a trail of blood following him. Nick had his own trail of blood dripping from his chest but it didn’t seem like it was bothering him one bit. Derek went for Nick’s neck but missed, costing him a paw to the face and another to the leg. He fell slightly as his foot was swiped out from under him and Nick took the opening to latch on to his open neck. Derek yelped and twisted to try to free himself but Nick’s hold was too tight. Derek yelped again as the sound of crushing bones filled the woods. Moon Goddess, I beg of you to stop this. Derek twisted once more in an effort to break the hold Nick had but he failed. His wolf began gasping for breath as Nick slowly crushed his windpipe. Finally, Derek’s body limped and Nick let go. He took one step back, not taking his eyes off of Derek, just waiting for him to get up and make another move. Derek growled, it was low but it was there. He was still alive. His head tilted up to me, his eyes apologetic. Please Derek, back down. I pleaded with him through my eyes. Without being in my wolf form I couldn’t link my mind to his. Derek lifted the front of his body with his good leg and turned his attention back to Nick. He growled in return, letting him know he was ready. Derek turned his back to Nick and limped a few steps until he stepped over the stones. He would have fought to the death if I didn’t make him promise me he wouldn’t. He didn’t win, but he was alive. Nick slowly brought his beaten and bloody body to me, he dipped down and laid in the dirt. His body twisted as much as he could until his belly was aimed right at me.

“Emma,” Josephine’s voice brought me to my feet. “Step down and accept or reject your mate.” She held her hand to me and I took it with a firm hard. I stepped down from the stones and stood in front of my Alpha. What do I do? If I reject him, I go back to my old life like I had wanted. That was my goal all day. Things hadn’t gone the way I thought they would that was for sure. I thought Emmett would beat Derek and I would reject him and go home an unmated wolf. But then the thought was there that Derek would win and I would accept him. Having a mate wasn’t in my plan but with Derek I could somehow see it work. But this? Nick threw me in the open ocean with no life vest. My brain told me to reject him, just say the words and life would go back to normal. I, Emma Clark, reject the Nick Slater as my mate. That was it, that was all you have to say. “Emma—“ Josephine’s voice warned me I had been standing there too long. I needed to do something. I dropped to my knees and reached my hand out to Nick’s coat. What did I just do?

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