Twisted Fate

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Chapter 32

-Astrid-

Blair’s home matched her personality – bright and vivacious. She put a lot of work into making the living area feel comforting with an oversized cozy couch, bean-bag seats, spunky art, and even a pool table. The minute I walked in, I could smell fresh lemon and citrus soaking the floors, hinting at her cleaning spree. She was over the moon to have visitors in her home.

I sat on the couch next to Arlo while some of our pack members shuffled inside the house. Nicole found her seat next to me while Derek, Kane, Kiera, and Andrew (Kane’s beta) sat opposite. The energy was tense as everyone crowded around Blair’s living room. I could tell from the look on their faces that my wolves weren’t exactly comfortable although, I couldn’t blame them. It had been drilled into their heads by my father that witches were toxic creatures.

On top of that, it was the first time Blood Rose, Silver Moon, and River Ash had to work together. They were doing this solely for me. Otherwise, they’d be running for the hills. Acting cordial wouldn’t be easy for anyone, but the missing pups depended on our cooperation. It was the only thing that would save their lives. And possibly mine.

“Hello, everyone,” Blair somewhat eased the tension by introducing herself and the coven with her bubbly personality. You couldn’t be uncomfortable with a girl like Blair. I swore rainbows and butterflies flew out of her mouth when she spoke. And she was definitely using her empath abilities to make everyone feel welcome. “My second in command and myself have prepared the guest houses for you all. The refrigerators are well stocked, and your beds have fresh linens. Our Salem library is open 24 hours if you wish to visit. And I know you all must be tired from the travel, but I’d like to cover some coven rules with you.”

We all listened carefully as Blair listed the rules. Every morning the coven had a time for worshiping their goddess, Hecate. She asked that we respect that time for the witches and warlocks to meditate to reinvigorate their powers. It was also noted that we absolutely, under any circumstances, do not disturb the head-priestess while she is doing her morning rituals. Otherwise, it was a sign of total disrespect and pissed her off to the core.

The rules wouldn’t be that hard to follow. Most of them pertained to the sacred rituals such as respecting worshiping times, refraining from speaking foully of Hecate (which I wouldn’t do either way), and not removing any spiritual belongings from the guest rooms. And of course, there were the familiars- a demon sent in the form of an animal to protect the owner. We needed to respect the wildlife at all times because they could unknowingly belong to a witch or warlock.

“Who’s he?” I whispered in Arlo’s ear when a warlock entered from the kitchen and stood behind Blair. All the unmated she-wolves were quick to bat their eyelashes and smile flirtatiously. His shirt slightly lifted as he yawned and ran a hand over his shaved head, exposing his toned and tattooed stomach. As he stepped closer to Blair, the lighting from the chandelier illuminated his dark skin. But it was when he opened his mouth to speak that the she-wolves were utterly mesmerized. A thick British accent rumbled from his lips. Even I wasn’t blind to his beauty. But still, he wasn’t Arlo Blackburn beautiful.

“That’s Nicolas Clarke, Louisa’s second in command,” Arlo whispered back. I nodded and pressed my lips in a thin line to hold back my laughter. The females acted as if they’d never seen a man before. Nicolas was a piece of juicy meat dangling in front of the hungry lionesses.

“Yummy,” I overhead Kiera’s comment. The other females chuckled, “He can come knock on my door anytime,” She whispered seductively, boring her sex eyes into Nicolas. He had no problem with her hushed comments or the extra attention. Nicolas smiled and winked at her on his way out to show some of my wolves to the guest houses.

Blair waved me towards the hallway while everyone went to their temporary homes for the night. I walked to the end of the hall with Arlo behind me. We walked into a large office with tons of bookshelves. Various potion bottles and spell books occupied those shelves from top to bottom. This office was different from the rest of the house. It was much darker and toned down. I didn’t know then that it signified Blair and Louisa’s personality differences. Blair stood behind the desk rubbing her wife’s shoulders.

“Honey, Arlo, and Astrid are here.”

An obnoxious crow decided to make an appearance by cawing and scratching at the window, demanding entrance. The head priestess hiding behind her black-furred chair reached up and opened the casement window for him, never turning around.

“That’s Baxter, Louisa’s familiar. He’s a pain in the ass, and he hates strangers, so don’t touch him. He will bite your finger off. Literally,” Blair warned while the crow stood on his perch, glaring at me with his purple beady eyes. Who would want a crow of all things for a familiar?

“He’s not a pain. He just doesn’t like people,” Louisa spoke for the first time, but she still didn’t turn around. Arlo left my side to step close to her desk. She side-hugged him and asked about the travel. Before I knew it, they talked, laughed, and exchanged some banter, but she never once turned to speak to me. It made me feel like shit all of a sudden. At one point, she even addressed me as that she-wolf when my name came up in the conversation. Arlo seemed bothered by it, but he didn’t say anything, most probably out of respect for Blair. I don’t know where this girl comes from, but the decent thing to do is acknowledge your guests. What a bitch.

“I’m sorry, Astrid,” Blair whispered, “My wife has been through a lot, and she doesn’t trust anyone. She’s a sweetheart deep down, but it will take some time for her to warm up to you and your people. Please don’t feel bad or take it personally,” Blair knew exactly how I was feeling because of her emotional abilities. Shit! I’d forgotten she can read minds too.

I smiled apologetically. “Sorry for the bitch comment.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve heard worse about her,” Blair smiled and walked me out to the kitchen to get away from the uncomfortable situation. I appreciated her hospitality more at that moment. “Nicolas unloaded the truck and put your things in the guest house. Would you like me to walk you?”

“Sure,” I chirped, following her out to the patio. The backyard was dark, but I could see clearly in front of me with my wolf vision. Blair stepped to the side and raised on her toes, pulling down the light switch. From the top window of the main house, Arlo and Louisa watched the two of us walking. Louisa and her hideous crow watched me like a hawk as if I were plotting some crime against her wife. I glared at them before catching up with Blair.

“So, do you have a familiar?” I asked Blair to break the silence that fell upon us. The truth was I enjoyed hearing her gentle voice. It soothed me in ways that made me feel safe around her even though we’d barely met. I suppose those were the perks of being an empath.

She fidgeted with her keys as we reached the house. “Nah. Not every witch needs a familiar, and I never felt the need to summon one.” I followed behind Blair into the guest house to see my bags and someone else’s lined up at the doorway. Damn! Someone must have picked out the good rooms.

“It’s cute..and small,” I said, noticing the one bedroom. There was no way more than two people could stay in here. Nicole and Derek are the only people I’ve ever shared a bed with, and it would stay that way. My warriors could forget the idea of bunking with me.

“It’s the best one we have, and it’s perfect for both of you!”

My face fell with confusion. “Both?”

“You and Arlo have the place to yourselves,” Blair smiled slyly. “The mates have a place for themselves” is what she really meant behind her words. Blair is Arlo’s best friend. She must know about our difficult situation so why would she make us share a house? Did Sylvia talk her into this, or did she take it upon herself to make us roomies?

“I’m sure Arlo would much rather have some privacy. I’m grateful for the offer, but Is there another house I could possibly stay in?” I asked coyly. Two mates trying to avoid the mate bond, sharing a house? Yeah, not gonna happen. Our friendship would be destroyed, and limits would be pushed. Things were bound to end up disastrous if I stayed in this house with Arlo.

“Sorry, Astrid, but all the other houses are full. And I’m sure Arlo would love to have your company. Besides, you’re much more to him than a friend. I see the way you two look at each other,” Blair smiled, wiggling her eyebrows at me. I blinked, dumbfounded by the forwardness.

“I don’t know what you mean,” I shook my head, pretending to be clueless. I looked everywhere in the house but at her.

Blair snorted, “Oh come on, Astrid. It’s just us girls right now. You can tell me how you really feel about him.”

I started nervously unpacking my belongings to distract myself, but Blair stood there with her arms crossed, waiting for an answer. I moved to the bedroom to unpack my clothes. I wasn’t surprised when Blair followed me there. My heartbeat faster just thinking about him. “Arlo is a great guy. I wish I’d have met him sooner, so we could’ve been closer friends.”

“And?”

“And., I admire him for his drive and passion for saving the children at the better place.”

“And?”

I paused, mentally searching for something to save me. “And he has a nice…motorcycle.” Blair looked at me funny. I wasn’t lying about that. That black-matte Harley was a beauty, but I was more interested in the owner and how he looked riding it. I wished I could take a turn riding his-

“Okay. Well, how about the mate pull? Those feelings can be powerful. I know you must feel something for him.” Blair sighed with frustration at the lack of my emotional information.

“Like I said before, he’s a great friend.”

“But you’re not friends, you’re soulmates. Both of you are trying to avoid the inevitable. A wolf cannot be without it’s mate,” Blair stated the obvious. This girl was exactly like her mother- persistent and stubborn, but you couldn’t help but like her. That didn’t mean they weren’t equally a serious pain in my ass.

I sighed heavily. “Look, Arlo is a great guy, but it’s not going to work out. He’s an alpha, I’m an alpha. And he’s also a hybrid who can’t mate with anyone by the rules of the werewolf and Lycan council. Besides, I don’t see him as anything other than my friend.” I felt nothing for Arlo. Sure, he’s my mate, but that didn’t mean I had to feel anything for him. Yup. Just a friend (who happens to be sexy, mouthwatering, loving, and the best person I’ve ever met) and nothing more.

Lies. Lies. Lies. That little whisper taunted me, flashing my deepest fantasies in front of me.

Blair frowned dubiously. “You do understand the meaning of mates, right?”

I threw my empty bag on the floor, officially done with this conversation. “Blair, it’s not going to happen. Arlo and I agreed on this.”

“Agreed to what?” Arlo walked in through the backdoor, surprising both of us. He looked between Blair and me curiously.

“We were just-“

“That I wouldn’t leave,” I interrupted Blair. Breathe, Astrid. Don’t fuck this up. “Blair was worried that I’d leave without her performing any protection spells. We agreed that it would be best for my safety, right?”

Arlo slightly narrowed his eyes, but soon he let it go. “Right.”

Blair sighed and gave me a look as if saying that was close one. “Well, I know you guys are tired, so I’ll leave you to it. Goodnight.” She chirped and turned to leave. But not without winking at me behind Arlo’s back.

The minute the door closed behind her, the mate pull was alive and buzzing. We stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for someone to break the silence. Maybe he doesn’t want to share this house with me. I should’ve demanded his brother or Derek, literally anyone, to switch houses with me. Of course, he’s probably uncomfortable.

“So.”

“I.”

We spoke at the same time. A short nervous laugh left our lips. I smiled sheepishly and lowered my head, letting my hair fall in my face. But I picked my head up as I remembered his disliking for that nervous habit. Good thing I did because it looked like he was already itching to come closer and make me look at him. Though that didn’t seem like a bad idea. At all.

“I’m going to take a shower first if that’s cool with you,” I breathed while my heart raced wildly in my chest. Arlo nodded, never taking his eyes off me. Those intense silver eyes made me feel naked in front of him. I gathered my nightclothes and backed up a bit too fast, bumping into the bathroom door. Arlo laughed, and I smiled, mentally cursing myself.

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