“I think the property should be given to Blood Rose and Silver Moon,” Silence drenched the room as everyone stared at me. Soon it’s replaced with the low growls of Alpha Paxton and his allies. Frank and Bryson glared at me when everyone learned about their change of vote. My breath hitched.
Did I make the right choice?
The words spilled out of my mouth faster than I could reconsider. It’s too late to turn back now. What’s done is done. I made this decision, and now I had to own up to it. Even if that meant some people would be pissed off at me. Scratch that, everyone would be pissed off at me, including my friends. I had their laser eyes burning holes in my head to prove this.
“Altering your decision will put the committees’ vote at a tie. We’ll have no other choice but to push this meeting further. Are you sure about this, Ms. Collins?” The council member asked, his tone grim and sharp. Arlo’s eyes set on me as he asked this.
For some strange reason, he resembled everyone’s displeased looks. His jaw ticked while his chest fell rhythmically up and down. For a moment, I was puzzled by his demeanor. I’m on his side; wouldn’t that make him happy. Either way, I wasn’t doing this for him. I was doing this for my peace of mind. People shouldn’t be judged based on their hybrid ancestry.
I turned to Arlo and looked him in the eyes as I said, “Yes,” My answer only intensified his dark expression.
“Alright,” The council muttered, “Discuss this with your peers and meet back here on Friday with a final decision. Meeting adjourned.”
All eyes were on me as I gathered my things to leave. Derek protectively stood by Nicole and me, warily watching the behavior of the alphas’ in case someone decided to retaliate. I doubted anyone had the balls to do such a thing in front of the officials’ but there was no harm in being safe, mostly because Paxton and Marcus were furious and burning holes in my head.
Meanwhile, I felt Arlo’s eyes linger on me one last time before he followed his brother out. I expected at least one of them to show some gratitude, but neither of them thanked me. It boiled my blood, and for a second, I thought about changing my mind, but I let it go.
“Jonah should have let his son take over. This weakling is making stupid decisions. It won’t be long before River Ash crumbles to the ground,” I heard Henry comment as I headed for the door. I growled at him in return, and Nicole cautiously wrapped her arm around me before walking me out. Paxton spoke after me, “I won’t be so forgiving for this, Astrid,” I stuck my arm out behind me and flipped him off.
“Are you alright?” Nicole asked me when we reached outside the building. I sighed heavily and nodded, but it didn’t seem to be enough for her.
“Astrid, we’re worried about you. You don’t seem like yourself these days. You keep spacing out and staying locked up in your gallery. And now you’re taking up for the Blackburn’s? Is there something going on?” The concern was audible in her voice. After a brief silence, Derek added, “You know you can talk to us about anything. We’re more than just your beta and gamma.”
I felt somewhat guilty for not telling them about my mate. Mostly because this was something, I’d always hoped to share with them, but unfortunately, I couldn’t. There was nothing special about my mate, and the more I thought about it, the more I got bummed out. We were born enemies, and that is all we’d ever be.
“I don’t know why I helped them. It just seemed like the right thing to do,” I shrugged, hoping they wouldn’t see right through me, “Don’t worry about me. Work has been busy lately, and I’m slightly stressed about the next exhibition event. That’s all,” I assured them.
Even if I wasn’t telling the whole truth, speaking about my feelings made me feel overwhelmed all of a sudden. I felt like bursting out in tears right then. Having these strong emotions wasn’t easy on me, especially because I’m a sensitive person.
I excused myself and went back inside to use the bathroom. Hot tears burned in my eyes while I stared at my reflection and swallowed down the lump in my throat. I hated being this way. Between keeping my secret and catching the heat from all those alphas, the emotional stress was excruciating for me. I smiled in people’s faces and played the tuff female role, but the truth was, I’d be crying in my bed at night. I craved for someone to hold me and tell me everything would be alright.
Setting my palms on the counter, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to get myself together. I huffed out another long breath of relief and dug through my purse for the car keys as I exited. My feet almost tripped over the other as I hit a hard wall. I looked up to find that it wasn’t a wall but a toned figure. His hard muscular chest was at my eye level, blocking me from leaving.
“Why’d you do it?” Arlo asked, utterly confused. He stared me down with those intense silver eyes as he continued to block my way.
“Do what?” I asked innocently and moved around him, but he was quick to step in front of me again. He shook his head with frustration, “You know what I’m talking about.”
“I don’t think I do,” I raised my brow at him and tried to walk away. If anything, this irritated him more, and I heard him groan under his breath.
“Stop playing with me and answer the question,” His voice came out deeper. It caught me by surprise, and I found myself staring at him, perplexed. I’d never heard something sound so demonic. Surprisingly, it intrigued me more than it scared me.
“Blood Rose is overpopulated, and I can see how that would be a major issue. There’s no guarantee you will get it, but I’ll try my best to convince the others,” I explained. He stayed silent after that, so I stepped aside to leave, but he blocked my way for the third time.
“I don’t need your help,” He growled, stepping closer into my personal space. I could feel his hot breath blowing on my face. My wolf stirred, feeling him so close to us. She begged me to reach out and touch him so we could feel the sparks again, but I refrained from doing so.
Meanwhile, his choice of words set me off. My fists clenched, and my face felt like it was on fire. I was the one who risked my long-term friendships and allies for the sake of his pack, and he dared to speak to me like that! This man was edging closer to the top of my shit list.
I mirthlessly laughed once, “Oh, really? Because you were doing so well winning over those votes, right?” The sarcasm came out strong in my tone. I daringly stepped closer to him until our faces were inches apart, “And I think what you meant to say was thanks for saving my ass,” I muttered in his face before shouldering past him.
The clicking of my boots echoed through the corridor as I angrily stomped away, my hips swinging with the most attitude. I heard him growl lowly behind me, but I didn’t care to look back. As I kept walking, the familiar feeling reached my curves. He watched my every move. It instantly made me feel self-conscious.
My pace quickened as I got closer to the large exit doors. I couldn’t wait to get away from him, but he had other plans for me. Suddenly, an invisible force slammed the door shut as I reached to open it. It didn’t take me long to know what caused this. He used his demon powers against me!
A shiver ran down my spine as I turned to look at him, sauntering down the corridor. My heart nearly palpitated out of my chest when I noticed his eyes changed to a deep red. The redness bled into his black eyeballs where the white should have been. I frantically shook the door handle, but it remained sealed shut.
He looked so eerie and dangerous, stalking closer to me like a predator. The scene looked like something straight out of a horror film though it oddly made my thighs tingle. Anyone in their right mind would have been terrified, but a part of me is begging him to come closer and devour me.