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Warring Mates

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Unadulterated darkness peeked at the corners of my mind. A place where colours no longer existed—banished to the depths of my mind. The bright leaves, a dull green. The blueness of the sky, a colour I couldn’t stand anymore.

He broke me, ripped me apart, and the funny thing was, I still wanted him.

I closed my eyes, a sigh filling my chest. Seven hundred-and-thirty days, seventeen thousand five hundred-and-twenty hours and many more minutes. I had counted them. The days since my oh so lovely mate told me how he hated me. The venom in his voice… It still gave me shudders.

“Do you have any idea how long I have been looking for you?” Lachlan asked as he strode over to me. The gentle breeze played with his chestnut brown hair, making it fall over his eyes.

A groan escaped my mouth, and I closed my eyes again. My arms and legs were spread over the dewy glass as I enjoyed the last days of the blazing sun. No doubt darkening my hair even more. If that was even possible.

“Go away, asshole.”

“Nice try,” he said, and I could detect the small hint of a chuckle in his voice as he continued, “I’m immune to your malicious words.”

He dropped next to me, tickling my face with a blade of grass. I scrunched up my nose and shook my head to make him stop. But I should have known better…

Two seconds was what it took before I slapped his hand away.

“Stop that.” Of course, he didn’t abide by my request. Instead, he went to my neck, my sensitive spot. The spot where my mate should have claimed me.

A growl vibrated through my chest, warning him, and I pushed him to the ground, straddling his waist. This guy, this… this infuriating guy. Goddess, why did I become friends with him?

“There is the Lexi I know,” he mumbled as he drew circles on my hip with his thumb, soothing me. But nothing could soothe the pain in my heart—the agony.

My shoulders slumped—the life draining from my eyes once again—and I slipped off him. “Why are you here?” I asked, hugging my knees close to my chest.

In the corner of my eyes, I saw him pushing himself off the ground. The misery in my voice didn’t go unnoticed by him.

“To ask if you wanted to prep for the Spirit Fest. It is only a week or so away,” he said, his voice a soft caress. Probably knowing how fragile I was in this moment.

I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t care how we waited for this moment for years. To show them what we were worth, how we could go onto missions together. Nothing mattered.

My hand glided through the cool grass, and I mumbled, “I’m not sure if I’ll participate this year.” I didn’t have to look at him to know how his eyes widened in shock. After all, I had broken another promise.

“What do you mean you may not participate?!” Shock mixed with anger laced his voice. “We are not going to skip it again.”

My canines peeked from underneath my lips, gleaming dangerously in the sunlight. “I say I will not participate. Not we. By the stars.”

“We are a team, Lexi. If you won’t participate, then I won’t either.” The honesty in his voice couldn’t be more sincere as he stood from the ground, dusting his pants with his hands. “Now get up. We are going for a run.”

A hand dangled in front of me, and I slapped it away. “I don’t want to.”

“Wh—” With a shake of his head, he grabbed my arm to pull me up. “We are going whether you like it or not.”

“Why are you so pushy?” I whined. Or at least tried to. The annoyance dripped off my voice as electricity jolted through my body.

I inhaled a deep breath—stay calm or deaths will follow.

“Because you are acting as if the world is ending!” he yelled as he pulled his hand through his hair. “You are distancing yourself from everyone, and I have enough of it. It has been two years. It is time to move on.”

A lone tear rolled down my cheek. How could he say something like that? “He’s my mate, Lachlan. For me, the world is ending.” My voice broke at the end, more tears following, trickling down my cheek.

He opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He had no idea what a mate bond felt like. He would never have to go through the pain I am going through. To feel as if the entire universe is against you.

A pair of arms wrapped themselves around me, and his heavenly coconut scent enveloped me. His breath tickled my ear. “I am sorry,” he whispered. “I know this is hard for you, but it hurts me to see you like this.”

Before he could say something else, I wiggled out of his arms. I didn’t need his pity. “Let’s go for that run.”

“We can do that another time. Y-”

I didn’t let him finish as I kicked him on the back of his knee and he tumbled to the ground, landing with a thud.

“First one at the lake wins!” Within a blink of an eye, I disappeared into the woods.

“Cheater!” I heard him yell after me, no doubt trying to catch up with me.

With a breathless laugh, I dodged the branches and this feeling… running free like this. It was indescribable. My hair danced to the beat of the wind, the ground blurring beneath. I may not be the fastest in this kingdom, but my small posture allowed me to take the sneaky routes.

“Almost,” I mumbled. I was almost there—the first one to arrive. The taste of victory lingered on my tongue. But fate wasn’t on my side… not today.

A weight pushed me to the ground, a yelp escaping my mouth.

“See you there, darling,” Lachlan said in my ear, and he ran off with a laugh.

“That asshole…” I gritted my teeth and dashed after him, almost tumbling over my own feet. “That’s not fair,” I yelled to him as I arrived at the lake. Second—thanks to that idiot.

He stood in front of the lake, a satisfied look on his face. “What? Tackling you? I just used your tactic against your own. How can that not be fair?”

I huffed out, crossing my arms as I walked over to the lake. The sunrays bounced off the water, creating a sparkle that blinded you when you looked into it for too long. I knew for sure a dozen fish swam around in the water, unaware of the danger outside.

“Do you wanna go for a swim?” It was a beautiful day, neither hot nor cold. A swim sounded perfect.

No answer came, and I glanced over my shoulder only to find him with a brow raised.

“Since when do you like to swim?”

“What?” I shrugged my shoulders. “Is it that weird for a person to want to take a swim after a run?”

“No, but—”

“Are you coming, yes or no?” I interrupted him, pulling off my shirt—my jeans following shortly—and a soft sigh escaped my lips as I dipped my toes into the cool water before submerging myself completely. It felt heavenly.

Behind me I could hear some shuffling and not even a second later the water rippled. Lachlan pulled me down and water bubbled in my ears as I swam back to the surface. He was so getting pay back for this.

I splashed water at him with the intent to hit him right in the face, my laughter gracing the air, but he dodged it easily, only to cage me in with his arms. With a bright smile, I turned my head to him, his closeness not getting lost by me.

The wind ruffled his wet hair; the sun kissing our skin—a small, frail moment.

“I like you... And not just as friends,” he said in one breath, his eyes gazing deeply into mine.

My skin tingled upon hearing his confession, a blush spreading over my cheeks as I lost myself in his pools of amber. He liked me.


“I know you are not ready yet to be in a relationship with anyone,” he said before I could start my ramble, “but when you are, I hope that someone will be me.”

The sincerity… I could see it in his eyes. The adoration he held for me, the anger that swirled in his eyes as he couldn’t believe someone could reject someone like me. He saw me as perfect.

I leant my head against his chest, a sigh leaving my lips. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready.”

“Even then, I will wait.” He cupped my cheek, his nose almost touching mine. “I will love you and cherish you. You deserve someone better than him.”

My eyes darted to the tree line and slowly I untangled myself from his arms, guilt wrecking my body. “I’m not ready yet, Lachlan.” A heavy feeling haunted my chest as I swam back to the shore. He was a good person and would be an amazing lover, but he wasn’t him—my mate.

A breeze hit my skin, goosebumps rising on my arms. No more did it sound like a good idea to swim. It was freezing outside. With trembling fingers, I put on my clothes again.

“We should go back to the palace,” I said when I felt his presence behind me. “Dinner will be served in a couple hours.”

“It’s two o’clock.”

I shrugged my shoulders, my back still to him. “So? I want to be early.”

“This is very early. Are you sure dinner is the only reason you want to go back?” The hint of fear in his voice did not go unnoticed by me, and I turned around. My heart skipped a beat as I watched him put on his shirt. The muscles in his arms flexed with each movement.

My eyes darted back to the treeline. “Maybe. I also need to think about what you said. It has been two years and I should move on.” My mate didn’t want me, and there was nothing that could change his mind. So maybe—just maybe—I should allow myself to love someone else.

A hand clasped my shoulder, pulling me out of my thoughts. “I am here for you, Lexi, as a friend or something more… If you want.”

The corner of my mouth tugged up, my lips having a mind of their own. For some reason unknown to me, he made me feel whole. Well… as whole as I can be without my mate.

“Thank you,” I murmured, wrapping my arms around his torso. “I know I haven’t been the easiest these last couple of years.”

“Like I said before, I am immune to your malicious words,” he said, his breath tickling my ear.

A growl echoed through the woods, the birds dashing away into the sky from the intensity of it.

I squinted my eyes and scanned the trees. “That didn’t sound like a werewolf.” There were various reasons why. First of all being, werewolves didn’t exist in this kingdom and they wouldn’t dare to set a foot in here as my father made it clear he didn’t want any threats to my mom or me.

But above all. I had never heard such a growl before—deep and guttural. By the look on Lachlan’s face, he also never heard a growl like that before.

“No, you are right—Hey!” He grabbed my arm, halting me in my steps. “You can’t just go there. What if there are more?”

I fought the urge to roll my eyes. Didn’t he know me by now? “Relax, I’m gonna follow it—figure out what it is—not engage in a battle.”

He shifted on his feet, contemplating if he should agree with me or not. Though he had not much of a choice. We both knew I would go no matter what.

“You owe me,” he grumbled as he crossed his arms, a scowl on his face.

With a small hop, I set the pace in which we strode through the woods; the wind rustling the leaves, a heavy silence filling the air. An eerie one… One that made the goosebumps rise on my arms and for a moment—a second—I contemplated if it was such a good idea.

As I glanced over to Lachlan, I noticed the tension in his shoulders, the clench in his jaw. He was on high-alert, his eyes scanning our surroundings.

“I really don’t think this is a great idea,” he whispered. As if he was scared the noise itself would give us away.

In the distance, a crow cawed.

A shudder went through me and I crossed my arms over my chest, rubbing my arms as I tried to preserve the last of my body heat. For some reason, the temperature was dropping—fast.

Fear dug its claws inside of me and I bumped his shoulder with my own—more reassuring myself than him—and said with all the confidence I could muster, “We’re not going on a mission. I’m sure this is allowed. Besides, we’re one of the strongest here. Even Cole and Damen say we’ll get into the elite.”

“That’s not the point,” he argued, pulling his hand through his hair. “We haven’t been appointed yet.”

He was right; I knew that. My dad would have our heads if he found out. But I didn’t want to admit it… that it was a bad idea. That we should turn around and get help. I was an adult now, a person who could defend herself.

“We’ve had the best training. It’s different from when one of the children of the village goes investigating,” I said, pushing his shoulder. “Don’t be such a goody-two shoes.”

A sigh left his lips as he shook his head. “One of us has to be, and since you are so adamant about not listening, I will have to take that role upon me.”

I rolled my eyes. “You’re so boring.”

Action was exactly what I needed right now. These past couple of days had been so boring. My parents were stuck all day in their office, planning the upcoming Spirit Fest. The same could be told about my uncles and Zak. Nobody had time for me. Well… Lachlan did, but after a while it was the same old. Training, teasing, strolling through the palace—a routine she wanted to break.

Behind me, a pair of footsteps crunched the leaves. “I’m not boring. I am just careful.”

“Which is a secret code for boring,” I called out over my shoulder, walking a bit slower so he could keep up with me.

He threw his hands in the air. “I give up with you. Do whatever you want.”

“Awh, you finally admit your defeat.” I fist-bumped his shoulder and laughed. A laugh that died down as soon as I noticed the frown on his face. “What’s wrong?”

“The trail... It disappeared?”

“What do you mean it disappeared?” I asked, my eyes scanning the area too. “It can’t just disappear without a trace. There’s always a scent, broken twigs or—or...”

“And I am telling you it’s gone. They weren’t all too careful with their footsteps, but it stops here...” He knelt and touched the ground. “There aren’t broken leaves or any other sign that they walked further.”

I tilted my head. “You mean they teleported?” As far as I knew Zak and Eros and his wife were the only ones who could teleport.

“I don’t know,” he mumbled, and his eyes betrayed how much this bothered him. Who could blame him? Even if the intruders teleported, there should be at least a trace of magic. But there was nothing.

“Well, it’s impossible. The only people who can teleport are the royal family of the demon kingdom, Zak or-”

“Or the witches,” he finished for me. But their kingdom was far away from us, they wouldn’t go through the trouble to go all the way here.

I shook my head. “The witches wouldn’t meddle with us. They’re a peaceful folk. There might be a screw lose by them, but still.” There had to be another explanation for this. Maybe we didn’t search good enough.

A sigh filled Lachlan’s chest, and he stood from the ground. “There is no one else who can teleport. They have to be the intruders.”

“Well, maybe the intruder belongs to the demon kingdom,” I suggested. “Eros could have a cousin he doesn’t know about.” I shrugged my shoulders when my dear friend kept staring at me, incredulity written all over his face. “What?”

“Do you honestly think that’s the case?”
“Well, yes…” Elias was over two thousand years old. He could have had a child with someone else, or maybe Eros had an uncle he didn’t know of. Who knew?

“Oh, no.”

My head whipped up at the sound of his voice, my eyes widening, matching his own.

A shift… One that became stronger with each passing second. It could mean only one thing—magic.

“We are so screwed,” he mumbled.

Not even a second after he said that, Zak materialized out of thin air; his arms crossed over his chest. “Care to explain why you are here?”

The blood drained from my face as I offered him a crooked smile. “A run?”

“Are you telling me or asking me?”

“T-telling.” But he didn’t believe me as his glare shifted to Lachlan, who writhed underneath his blazing eyes.

“Lachlan, the truth,” Zak said, and I glared at my friend, daring him to speak. “Now.”

“We heard a noise and went to investigate, but in our defens-”

“There is no defence,” Zak brisked. “You both haven’t been designated to a post. Instead of following it, you should have come back and told us about it.”

“If we did, they would be long gone!” I argued, my voice raising at the end.

“Not another word, Lexi.” Zak turned his glare back to me, challenging me. “You both can explain yourselves when we are back.” He winnowed us all to my dad’s office, and he walked to the door. “Wait here.”

“We are in so much trouble,” Lachlan said as soon as Zak had left, and he paced around the room.

“Well, whose fault is that?” I turned to my friend; my arms crossed as I glared at him. “You could have lied, you know?”

He opened his mouth, but no word came out... Not after a couple seconds. “Are you honestly suggesting that?! We would have been in even more trouble now.”

An exasperated sigh ran past my lips. Weren’t we in trouble right now? My dad might even forbid us from entering the Spirit Fest this year.

The door opened.

My eyes darted to my dad, and I cringed upon seeing the fury in his eyes. “Dad,” I said, my voice sweet as honey. But he didn’t buy it.

“Don’t even think about it,” he warned.


“No, Lexi,” he clipped. “You know the rules. No investigating as long as you are not designated to a post. It is too dangerous.”

I bit my lower lip, my head hanging low. The rules… They were stupid, but I understood why we had them. It wouldn’t be the first time a child died because they thought they could go after a lead.

Though I still tried to defend myself. “Yes, for the ones who don’t know how to fight.” Dad and Zak had been training me as soon as I could walk—much to the dismay of my mom. I could out best everyone in this city. Well… almost everyone. Lachlan was way too smart for his own good.

Nikai pinched the bridge of his nose. “Lachlan, you can go.”

“Wha—That’s not fair!”

“Knowing him, he probably tried to stop you,” he gritted out, narrowing his eyes at me. Anger swirled in his eyes, and I knew… I knew I was in big trouble. “Now I do not want to hear another word, or you will be banned from the Spirit Fest until you can listen better.”

Anger… Sadness… Pain—unimaginable pain.

It all coursed through me, leaving a warpath in its wake and a solitary tear rolled down my cheek, a sob wrecking my body.

“Lexi...” he breathed out, and he engulfed me in a hug, kissing my head. “What’s going on with you?”

“Nothing.” I squirmed out of his hold, evading his eyes. He didn’t have to know what happened.

He sighed and let me be. “You can join the festival, but do not do anything like this again. No matter what your reasons are.”

Not listening to what he was saying, I dried my tears. “Can I go now?”

“Yes, and Lexi,”—I turned on my heels, my eyes connecting with his—“I hope one day you will tell us what has been bothering you for the past two years.”

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