Twisted Fate

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Chapter 20

-Astrid-

“Alpha, did you get that?” The large blur waving in front of my face confirmed Liam had been trying to talk to me as he approached me in the study. Physically, I was standing in front of him, but mentally I was miles and miles away. It was all because of that demon-wolf.

“Uh…what?”

“Our warriors have returned home,” Liam repeated himself, “They wish to speak with you about their travel.”

“Of course,” I replied after recollecting my thoughts. Liam followed me into my office, “Gentleman,” I nodded. Six of my strongest warriors were already present, looking exhausted and run down, “What’s the update on Red Claw?” I asked first and foremost as I took a seat behind my desk.

“Upon visiting with alpha Morrison, we discovered that an enemy was leading the vampires to Red Claw territory,” A warrior informed me, “Apparently, the man behind this retaliation was a former member of the Red Claw pack. Morrison banished him long ago due to behavioral issues. He has been captured and headed east for his sentencing.”

“Any casualties?”

At my question, the warriors lowered their heads with shame.

“Unfortunately, the vampires captured ten of their members. We were unable to save them on time.”

“Shit,” I muttered, leaning back in my chair with the same defeated expression as my men. I hated the outcome of people dying on our watch, but sometimes these accidents couldn’t be prevented.

“We’ll have to be more prepared for dangers like this in the future. Overall, you guys did an excellent job helping the pack take down those vampires. Don’t beat yourselves up too much.”

We discussed this matter a bit more before I dismissed them and went on about my day. I needed to get some things done on my agenda before the meeting tomorrow with the alphas. The committee would finally come to a decision, and I was going to do everything in my power to make sure Blood Rose became the new owners of the property.

But of course, it had nothing to do with their leader being my mate. I wasn’t doing this for him. Not at all.

Blood Rose and Silver Moon members didn’t deserve discrimination because of their leaders. No one chose them as alphas, and surely, they didn’t ask to live in such overcrowded conditions. The committee only thought of punishing the hybrids. They didn’t think twice about anyone else’s feelings or concerns. They simply had no compassion for anything when it involved the Blackburn’s. It was time for a change.

Whatever the outcome, I’d feel good knowing I fought for them while others turned a cold shoulder. As I thought more about the conclusion, I met up with my beta and gamma at a nice restaurant for lunch.

Derek ate the entire time without speaking, even if he wanted to ask a billion questions after coming to know about my mate. Nicole strictly told him to keep his mouth shut because I was already under a lot of stress from constantly thinking about him and who rejects who first.

On top of that, my wolf was angry and chose to give me the silent treatment, adding to my stress. She was hurt thinking about the plans to reject him. Arlo meant a lot to her, and mating with him was the only option in her book. She cared deeply for him since the first day we laid eyes on him, but I, on the other hand, refused to start having feelings for him.

Letting myself get emotionally attached to him was suicide, a silver bullet wrapped in his diabolical charm with my name on it.

After lunch, I stopped at the store to do my grocery shopping. The front row collections of Chinese oyster pails and red wine bottles judged me every time I’d opened my refrigerator. I was already living the life of a lonely, depressed single woman.

It’s okay to be without a mate, but I’m not going to sulk in my sorrows or let my body go to shit. I reminded myself with my chin held high, walking into the store. As I reached the produce aisle, the vegetables and fruits nearly fell out of their cartons, shocked from not seeing me for so long. Even Helga, the white-haired woman who worked here, seemed surprised to see me.

She smiled and came rushing to talk to me about her life updates and asked how I was doing. Her human scent made me smile wider as I spoke to her. There was something about talking to humans that always interested me. It was a fresh breath of air to talk to someone normal. The shoppers here didn’t possess canines or claws, which is why I shopped there often.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved everything about being a she-wolf, but the change was always nice.

“Uhhh!” I groaned aloud, stopping in the middle of the aisle. I’d forgotten the ingredients my mother asked me to get for her. If I wanted to keep my life, I needed to get what she asked me for because she turned into a monster when my siblings and I left something off the grocery lists.

With a scowl, I angrily stomped back to the spices located in the back of the store. Although I was determined not to let anything interrupt me, the sudden shift in air halted my steps. I slowly peered over my shoulder, finding no one there. But I knew better to be fooled easily.

I grabbed the ingredients and jetted out of there, faster than lightning. The wheels on my basket turned viciously, keeping up with my racing heartbeats. As I took a sharp turn, this familiar musky scent filled my nostrils, making me inhale deeply. It was the only scent that had the power to make me weak in the knees.

No! That demon-wolf is invading my thoughts, and now he’s shopping at my stores!

Scanning over the faces, I hid in the corner to make sure he wasn’t close. I’d made it my mission to get out of there; however, my wolf stirred happily inside me. She’d been upset this whole time until now. All because her mate was here.

The people nearby turned to look at me oddly as I raced to the checkout lines. My facial expression held the determination of a woman fighting over the last flat screen tv on a black Friday sale. Or even a ′Karen′ asking to see the manager. Whoever you compared me to, I’m sure I looked just as ridiculous.

It didn’t help that I stumbled over a rack of bananas, knocking them all to the floor. I was quick to catch myself and scurry away before anyone saw me. I was desperate to get what I wanted- leaving this place and getting far away from my mate as possible.

Yes! Yes! I’m going to make it. Not today, Satan Blackburn. The beeps and chimes of the registers had me grinning from ear to ear with relief. My golden ticket to freedom was just a few meters away; however, it was snatched away when a beautiful tall man sharply turned the corner, cutting me off.

With a smile plastered on his face, he clashed his cart with the end of mine. I recoiled at the impact and the shock of him finding me.

“Can you watch where you’re going!” I snapped, knowing he did it purposely.

“I thought that was you,” Arlo said, looking at me from head to toe with smoldering eyes, “You looked like a madwoman racing out of here. What’s the rush?” He taunted, casually leaning his elbows on the cart. The muscle in his forearms flexed deliciously.

“Nothing. I was just-”

“Knocking over all the bananas! Helga won’t be pleased about that,” He suddenly burst into laughter.

Great! He’s BFF’s with Helga too.

“Screw you!”

“Anytime.”

I grimaced even if that offer didn’t sound bad at all, “You disgusting dog!”

“I’ve been called worse.”

“Whatever. I don’t have time for your nonsense today,” I yanked my cart back with force and turned to leave. My mini tantrum resulted in hitting the shelf behind me and knocking more things down. Arlo lost it after that.

“You’ll be banned from here soon,” He croaked.

My eyes bored into him with embarrassment. I wanted to be mad, but his deep melodic laughter made my stomach dip. For a moment, I found myself staring at him in awe as it echoed. I’d never heard a more beautiful sound. I would gladly trip over more racks of bananas just to listen to him laugh.

My face turned a bright cherry red when he stopped laughing and noticed me staring at him. I looked down at my feet, letting some of my hair fall in my face- a defense mechanism I’d practiced since I was a growing pup.

“You were running from me again, mate,” He said, stepping close to me. He lifted my chin and moved my hair out of my face, brushing his fingers against my neck, “Stop doing that. I hate when you hide your face from me.”

“Why?” I breathed as the sparks tingled on my neck, taking my breath away. Arlo kept his hand resting under my jawline, stepping even closer to me until our lips were inches apart.

He stayed silent for a while as we stared into each other’s eyes. His eyes gleamed with so much passion as he held my face and studied my facial features. It made me feel weak all of a sudden.

My mind told me to step back and walk away, but my body screamed to let him come even closer. I was enjoying the intense sparks stemming from the contact. I couldn’t walk away even if I wanted to.

“So beautiful,” He whispered, eyeing my lips with a tortured look. I’d almost forgotten how to breathe when he began tracing my bottom lip with his thumb. This burning desire erupted in my chest. I wanted to reach up and bring him down to kiss me. Slowly, I was starting to forget the promises I’d made to myself. I wasn’t supposed to feel anything for him.

“Arlo,” I whimpered, holding onto the microscopic thread of willpower. The sweet sound of his name rolling off my tongue made him snap.

“Oh, fuck this,” He muttered before he leaned down and kissed me. For the moment, he cracked the brick walls I built to keep him out, and I reciprocated his ardent affection.

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