Chapter 14 ♕
She didn’t want this. She didn’t want me.
I thought I knew what it felt to suffer. More than once in my life I had been attacked, threatened and betrayed. With time I had forgotten some experiences, but from others I still carried the scars.
But this. This was different. This went beyond suffering. This was my heart that had just been ripped from my chest and completely pulverised.
And the absolute worst of all, was that I couldn’t do anything about it. Except looking down on her. Her knees were to the side, her behind touched the cold marble floor, and her trembling hands were in her lap.
Her long red hair fell in front of her face, but I could see the movements in her shoulders. In silence, she cried her heart out. She looked so lost, as if her death sentence had just been signed.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Couldn’t find it in myself to take a step in her direction. I wouldn’t survive a look of hatred and disgust on her face.
So I just stood there.
But every second that passed, I felt my heart break further. I felt the physical pain increase. It was the bond. He was breaking, fading.
Already clenching my claws into fists, I braced myself for the next pain that was soon to come. The excruciating feeling that would follow once my mate had her rejection into words.
The reason why it was so painful when a mate bond was rejected, was because as soon as the mates first saw each other, their souls immediately start connecting with each other. After one of them had made the choice not to accept the bond, this had to be reversed. That was never without consequences.
After the rejection, Maximus would no longer be who he was. He would get scars that would mark him for the rest of his life. He would be weakened, never again able to draw on his full strength. We would become defenseless.
I felt Maximus awakened by that thought. He began to stir restlessly, before I felt him come forward with immense speed. I couldn’t stop him.
I should have known he wouldn’t accept the rejection without resistance. But I had thought he was concerned with the power he would lose if Magnolia continued her choice. But it wasn’t that.
It was about her. He had grown fond of her. Maximus, who had never shown any affection for anyone in all his life, refused to part with her, to let her go.
A menacing growl left our mouth. My mate immediately looked up at us in shock. Maximus took a step forward, whereupon she immediately crawled back. We tried to ignore the pain that shot through our heart, but it was pointless. This little human girl was unaware of the hold she had over us. That would be her salvation, and our downfall.
Maximus tried with all his strength to push me away, but this was a situation where I wouldn’t allow that. I wouldn’t let him do anything rash that would put us even more at risk of losing her.
That was when Bethany intervened. Most people were insane to think they could keep a male away from his mate. But then again, Bethany had always been special in her own way.
She stood with her arms outstretched and looked me straight in the eye, without a trace of fear. That brought another stab of pain. My little sister really thought she had to protect my own mate from me. I pushed that thought away. Bethany was only doing what she thought was right.
But Maximus thought otherwise. He was so captivated by our mate that he no longer saw the difference between friend, family or foe. He only saw someone who wanted to take our mate away from us and the fact that he would never allow it all his life.
Another step in their direction. Another threatening growl.
Maximus slowly began to lose it. My attention, on the other hand, was entirely on our mate. She looked pale and stared at us as if we were threatening her. And maybe that was exactly what we did.
The pain got worse and the impact made Maximus slowly go insane. He put his head back and snarled loudly. This were the worst moments. Whenever Maximus suffered, he felt cornered. This made him unstable, unpredictable and dangerous. We needed her.
This wasn’t the first time he and I wanted two completely different things. It was not our first fight. But it was the first to revolve around her, our mate. Maximus wanted to go to her. But I just wanted to get away from her. I didn’t want to see her look at me like this.
I easily could handle it if the world rejected us, when everyone saw us for something monstrous. The whole world was allowed to turn its back on us, but not her. Not her.
In that second I made a decision. I couldn’t stay here. I felt Maximus struggling, but for the first time in years I had the upper hand. I just couldn’t take it any longer. I couldn’t stand here, do nothing and wait and see whenever she was ready to turn us down.
So I ran.
I slammed my bedroom door behind me. My first instinct was to run back to the dungeons and end the life of the last witch, but I still needed her. So I ran instead to the hall where my mate was staying. If I couldn’t be around her, I just had to settle for her scent. Maximus was ready to burn the whole palace to the ground. I tried to calm him down, but only got the most insane insults thrown at my head. He was on the verge of going insane, but I wasn’t much better off myself. I took my head in my hands and groaned. When, more violently than ever, I felt the pain coming on, I eventually broke.
I punched a hole in the wall. Due to the impact of this, several paintings fell off the wall. Immediately following, I grabbed a vase from a side table and smashed it against the floor. It didn’t help. I needed more.
I, we, needed a target. Now.
From the corner of my eye I saw something move. When I took a closer look I saw that Rowan was still on all fours on the floor where I had left him. Immediately I felt a threatening grin on my mouth. He could not have moved even if he had wanted to.
Before I left to get my mate, I ordered him to stay where he was. None of my warriors could ignore an order from me. It was not in their nature to disobey me.
I haven’t finished him yet. Because it was his fault that she ran away. It had been his job to keep her here until I returned and had time to explain everything to her. That was now taken from me, and now my only chance of happiness was about to reject me.
I crept closer to him. In the meantime he had become aware of my presence and immediately seemed to realize that I wasn’t myself.
Before everything had happened, before I left in a hurry, it had been different between us. I had considered him my friend, until he chose to betray me. My claw slid slowly around his throat and I began to squeeze. His hands immediately reached for my arm, in a pathetic attempt to weaken my grip. It was useless. I was too far gone by now.
All I saw was her face, wet with tears and contorted with horror. All I heard was her voice, but I don’t want this.
There was nothing else. Nothing.
Suddenly I heard several running footsteps approaching. The next moment the whole hallway was filled with my warriors. They had probably noticed that Rowan felt threatened and had come straight to it. I had trained them to do that.
Yet they immediately came to a halt when the threat turned out to be nothing less than myself. They stared at us and each did not seem to know exactly what to do. The uncertainty could be read from all of their faces. They didn’t want to oppose me, but at the same time, was it not difficult to say that I was no longer myself. I was freaking out, losing control.
I felt the insanity take over again.
Did they really think they stood a chance against me. The thought alone was almost laughable. I looked at them one by one. I recognized many faces. These were the guys I’d trained with, fought with, laughed with.
Last I saw Cayden. His entire torso was wrapped in bandages and he leaned laboriously against the wall. His whole face showed the strength it took him to simply be here.
He took a short breath, then pulled himself up from the wall. He staggered for a moment, but stood upright. “What do you think you’re doing, Al,” he said. I grunted at him warningly. This was the worst chosen time for him to undermine my authority. Even though he was my best friend.
Cayden studied me carefully, but then something seemed to dawn on him. Immediately his whole face filled with regret.
“She rejected you,” he said softly.
Those were the very words he shouldn’t have said, but it was too late. Maximus came and immediately took over all control. I was thrown to the back of my consciousness like a lifeless doll and held captive behind his ironclad mentality. The shock allowed me to think clearly again for a second. What exactly was I doing.
I was killing a friend. I tried to work my way forward, but Maximus was unbeatable. He didn’t move an inch. Ultimately, Maximus decided to completely ignore Cayden and turn his complete vengeance on Rowan.
All the color had left his face by now. He had also stopped trying to break free and his arms now hung lifeless at his sides. Maximus squeezed a little further. I heard him gasp and the grin on our face widened.
He had just taken his last breath.
And mine would soon follow when our mate had made her choice.