The adrenaline coursing through my body is making me wild. Aaron is going feral, pacing around in my head at the need to protect my pack and my mate from the enemy. Even though we’re no longer in danger at this very moment, Aaron wants to find those rogues who attacked my pack and rip their heads off slowly, painfully, one by one. How dare they come onto my pack lands without my permission, and dare to live another day.
I pull Hayley into mine? Ours? I’m not sure, but the bedroom that I and Hayley share. I close the door while keeping my eyes on Hayley’s form.
I’m shaking from all the anger built up inside of me and I need to control myself. The last thing I need to do is make my mate scared of me even more. But I need her now.
As I stalk towards her, Arron scolds me to be, “Gentle.”
I stop and take a deep breath, trying to gain a tiny ounce of patience. When I lock eyes with Hayley they hold so much confusion, and she seems to not know what to do with herself as she fiddles with her fingers and shuffles her footsteps repeatedly.
I -gently- stalk towards her and I stare down into her vibrant green eyes that hold so much pain and sorrow.
“May I... may I hold you?” I say with my jaw tense. I don’t want to snap at her when we’re making progress. I need to be patient, even if the beast inside of me is off his leash.
She bows her head to the ground, then very slowly she lifts her eyes and just stares. I can see the conflict swirling around in her own personal emeralds. After what feels like forever she gives a hesitant nod, and that’s all I need before I wrap my huge arms around her tiny frame and crash her into my embrace.
I nuzzle my nose in her neck, deeply inhaling her devouring scent. My beast retreats in his cage and my breathing labours.
I get lost in her. All of her. So much so, I forget myself and place a chaste kiss where her neck meets her shoulders. I hear Hayley sharply inhale and her legs weaken, but I hold onto her keeping her steady.
My fangs grow through as the bond screams at me to claim what is mine. To claim my mate.
But I can’t.
Mine and Hayley’s story isn’t like everyone else’s. We’re both damaged, but we can fix each other in time.
I nervously pull away, hoping not to have alarmed Hayley too much. But when I look down, I am pleasantly surprised. She has a rosy blush painted across her skin and her eyes gleam even more from the mate bond, and mine probably looks the same.
“I’m sorry I lost control,” I tell her, as I pull her closer by her waist. She fits in my arms so well. I now realize how empty I’ve felt not being able to hold my mate because I hadn’t found her, but here I stand, proudly holding my mate, and never letting her go.
She shakes her head mildly and a small smile creeps onto her face. “It okay. I... liked it,” she whispers nervously. She peers up from under her lashes and her eyes have turned to a dark brown. The mate bond. Although Hayley has no wolf, she will be able to feel the pull towards me because of the mate bond.
The bond clouds Hayley's judgement and I know she doesn’t want it to go any further than this. I would wait an eternity for her if I had to, so I’m not going to pressure her into anything, or let the mate bond be the reason she wants to be with me. I want her to be with me because she loves me, not because her instincts are telling her to.
Hayley places her cheek firmly on my chest and softly closes her eyes, relaxing into me. The buzz she felt only a few seconds ago already dwindling into nothing but peace.
As I snuggle into Hayley, her purple sweater falls off her left shoulder, revealing a very long and deep scar, going down to the middle of her spine.
A wave of different emotions hit me all at once.
Pain. Anger. Anguish. And most strongly, agony.
Who could have done this? To such a sweet and innocent female. What would drive someone so deluded to inflict this much torture on a pure soul?
“Who did this to you?” I choked.
Hayley pulls back slightly, confused as to what I’m talking about. When she looks at what I can’t take my eyes off, she starts to back away and shakes her head rapidly.
She quickly covers up her shoulder with the sweater and forces her eyes to the ground.
“Who... did this... to you?” I breathe, trying to hold my anger in.
“My past... complicated.”
I’m hit by a strong pain coating every part of my body. I feel it all. All of her pain, her torture, everything she has had to endure hits me like a truck and I am overwhelmed by the torture.
The bond. As I haven’t marked Hayley, the bond strengthens until I mark her, where it will reach its full capacity. That is why I can feel all of her emotions seeping into every pore, every fiber of my being. Even though Hayley has a dormant wolf, she will still be able to feel the mate bond, but just not as strong or as alluring.
The intensity of emotion that I’m feeling causes a single tear to slip down my cheek, making the scar there glisten in the daylight.
Hayley stares up at me in astonishment.
She cautiously lifts her hand and swipes the wetness away with her thumb. I lean into Hayley's touch but am taken away as my vision blurs from memories. Hayley's memories.
Short flashbacks blast in front of me. Hayley's mum dying when giving birth but just before she stares at Hayley as if life had only just begun. The next vision is everyone in Hayley's old pack shouting terrible names at her as she walks into the village. The way they blame Hayley for her mother's death. The way she gets thrown into a cell, and left there to starve for weeks on end by a male I’m assuming is her father by the resemblance of their features. I recognise him... Alpha Mason from Bloodnight Pack. That bastard. He abused his own daughter.
I’m going to kill him.
When she watches from her cell window a royal ball being held in her old pack grounds, but what I see next, knocks my breath out of me. Myself. A younger version, probably around fourteen, but I was there, walking about with my mum and dad whilst Hayley is locked in a cage completely innocent. And I was completely oblivious. If I had known, I could have saved Hayley from even more years of pain and torture, but I was too young to know back then that my mate was nearby.
The scene switches to Hayley crying in her cell sobbing uncontrollably, shaking from the vigorous pain she feels inside. Which then causes her to have a major panic attack.
The next one... is excruciating to watch; Hayley being raped by an older male, constantly. He is the gamma in Bloodnight Pack. What’s his name? It’s on the top of my tongue. Luke. He will die for what he has done to my mate. The images change, but the action is still the same. The same disturbing and heartbreaking scene.
The final memory is of Hayley running as fast as her legs will go away from them, her past, and into a better future.
When I come back to the present, Hayley is cupping my face in her fragile hands, and a frown rests on her beautiful face. It's then that I realize I'm crying. Not the odd tear, I am completely bawling. My frame shakes, and Hayley tries to hold me up, but I am too heavy for her. We both collapse to the floor, but our hands are intertwined.
I look deeply into Hayley's eyes and I whisper, "I am so sorry that I wasn't there for you. That you had to endure all that pain alone with no one around to help you. I understand now. Why you're so weary of me, and that's completely okay. I want you to know that you will never have to feel alone again. You will have me by your side forever, and I am not going anywhere."
Hayley is gasping for air when I finished, and tears slip down her soft cheeks. "How did... you know?"
"The bond. It showed me everything you went through. I watched it all through your eyes. It wanted me to know so I can protect my mate so that it never happens again." I take a deep breath, processing everything I had just seen in the last few minutes.
"I am so sorry you had to go through that, Hayley. You should never have had to experience anything that has happened to you, and you need to know that your mum's death isn't your fault at all. You couldn't have done anything, you were a baby for fuck sake. I promise you, you are innocent. You can't blame yourself when you did nothing wrong. Bloodnight Pack will be destroyed for what they did to you. Although the ceremony hasn't happened yet, you are the Luna of this pack, and all of us in Midnight Rose Pack will die protecting you. You even have Alpha blood running in your veins; you were made to lead this pack." I take a second to collect my thoughts, and I conclude, "Trust me, they won't be breathing much longer."
Hayley scrambles into my lap and wails from the suffering she has had to keep inside all these years. The whimpers that escape her lips are heart-shattering to hear. "Thank you."
I wrap my arms tightly around Hayley, making her know she is loved. She has spent nineteen years never feeling loved, I am devoted to making sure she never has to experience a single day like that ever again. I pull her in even tighter and tuck her head under my chin.
When Hayley starts to calm down and gets her breathing back in order, she pulls back slightly so she can see my face. I gently wipe the river away that sits on her face.
"I think it’s my fault," she whimpers.
"What? Hayley, your mum's death, is most definitely not your fault. You had no..."
"No, no, no," she interrupts me. "I mean... the attack...today. I think it happened... because my dad did something."
"I didn't smell any pack scent on the rogues; I would have recognized it. Unless the Bloodnight Pack is working with rogues... I'll look into it. And Hayley, you don't have to call that monster your dad anymore. He doesn't deserve to have that title, let alone the Alpha title."
"I don't deserve you... You're too good for me."
"No, Hayley. You deserve the world, you just have been told otherwise, but I am here to change that. "
A few moments pass by, as me and Hayley just stare into each other's eyes, taking each other in.
"Please don't tell anyone... I don't want the same thing to happen here... I like it here," she pleas.
"Hayley, what happened in Bloodnight Pack, will not happen here, I swear on the pack, nothing bad will happen to you here, but I respect your wishes, and I won't tell anyone. Does anyone else know?"
"Lily? The little pup?"
I wonder silently why she told Lily. I nod my head and start to build up the courage to tell Hayley my darkest secret. It's only fair that I do the same, as I now know hers.
I inhale a deep breath, and say, “My dad died during a rogue attack a couple of years ago. He died protecting me. There were five of them surrounding us, and I watched them rip him apart, limb by limb." As I continue talking, Hayley's thumb strokes my stubbled jaw in comfort.
"I blamed myself for many years for what happened to my dad. I couldn't protect myself, I was too weak, so I made a pact with myself to make sure I could protect the people I loved around me; just like my dad did. Both of us need to accept that our parent's death wasn't our fault."
It's all out now. The things that have weighed us down for too long, are finally free. We can now work together to help each other become better versions of ourselves.
"Thank you for... telling me Jax," she says sincerely.
I gaze strongly into Hayley's orbs. They are even more beautiful, as the intensity of the green shines even brighter from all the crying she has done. If I look close enough, I can start to see a dense, lively forest, with the most beautiful wildlife inside.
One of my arms wraps around her waist and rests gently, whilst my other hand goes to the back of Hayley's neck, pulling her even closer. Our breaths fan against each other's faces, and our pulses quicken. Her eyes start to flutter closed, as she falls deeper and deeper into the sensation, allowing me to take the lead.
"I love you, Hayley," and I start to slowly lean in, to kiss my mate...