Song for Chapter:
Battlefield by Jordin Sparks
My legs ached with each contact it had with the ground, and my chest constricted more by the minute. One, because I was running at full speed, and two, because my heart felt like it had been struck with a silver dagger laced with wolfsbane.
I was getting closer to the large training ground where I sensed them to be gathered, and I silently prayed that nothing has started yet. Ryan was still behind me, but by a few meters. It was obvious that he was struggling to keep up, but no way was I going to let him catch me and just end up slowing me down.
Relief bathed my tingling skin when I saw that there were no bodies, fighting or blood. Ace seemed to have gathered a lot of his people in the short time, and they were already in defensive and attack mode. More men emerged from the trees in wolf form, making Ace's army bigger.
Dad's army was just as big, and I could recognize a few of my trainers and warriors. I also saw Phillip and Aiden, and Aiden was the first out of the two groups to see me coming.
"Are you trying to get yourself killed?!" He bellowed through our link, watching me with wide and disapproving eyes.
"Stay the hell out of my head" I snapped back then completely blocked him from my mind.
Ace and dad were glaring each other and baring teeth. Every wolf on each side, both shifted and in human form did the same with each other, so no one even noticed when Aiden left the group and was running towards me.
I ran straight for him, but quickly wooshed around him once he was close enough to grab me. I knew he was taken off guard, so I had a little advantage of getting away from him before he recovered. Unlike Ryan, Aiden could catch me in a few seconds.
"Roxy! Roxy stop now!" He shouted at the top of his voice, and if I wasn't annoyed with him then, I was sure as hell annoyed with him now since his voice made every single head snap towards me, including Ace and dad.
Ace's eyes darkened when he saw me running towards them, but I tried to ignore his burning gaze by facing dad. But that too was a mistake, since he had the very same expression as Ace. For different reasons of course.
Ace told me to stay away, and here I was defying him. And dad? Well I wasn't sure about how much he knew, but I surely knew that he was pissed.
"I told you to go to the safe house with Ryan" Ace gritted out as soon as I was in hearing range. I opened my mouth to reply as I slowed down, but I was grabbed by the shoulders and spun around harshly.
"What the hell were you thinking? Do you want to get hurt?"
I yanked my hand from Aiden's grasp and gave him my best glare. "Like you care"
His face flashed with something that looked like hurt, and I took the opportunity to go closer to the confused looking wolves on both sides. Four hundred eyes watching as you walk into a war zone wasn't exactly a walk in the park.
Wolves from my pack watched me as if waiting for me to make a move, while wolves from Ace's pack watched me in irritation, wondering how and why one shewolf could disrupt a pack-to-pack stare off. They didn't know who I was after all.
I heard thudding sounds and heavy breathing behind me, and I saw that Ryan had finally caught up to us.
"I'm sorry Alpha. I tried to- to catch her..... But she's so fast" Ryan muttered very out of breath. I kinda felt bad, but I barely got to muster up an apology since dad's voice interrupted my thoughts.
"What kind of business do you have trying to lock up my daughter Alpha Ace? This is ridiculous!"
I turned to give Aiden a confused look, and simply shook his head, answering my silent question. He didn't tell dad? But why?
Ace opened his mouth to answer, but dad beat him to it.
"And you young lady" He started, turning to me. "This is not what I sent you here for. How dare you refuse to come back home with Aiden because you got attached to these people?!" His face was burning red as he shouted at me loud enough for Alaska to hear.
"If you knew you were soft hearted, you should have never-"
He stopped mid sentence when I saw him stare incredulously at something on my neck. His eyes widened a fraction, and I watched as Phillips's eyes followed his to my neck. I knew what they saw, but I made no move to hide it.
"Roxanna Isabella Gilbert! What is the meaning of this?!"
He took a step closer to where I was with a look on his face that made me believe he would kill his own daughter. But before I could react, Ace stepped in front of me in a protective manner and growled loudly at dad.
I couldn't see dad's reaction, but from the corner of my eyes I saw Beta Phillip's face light up with realization. He then met my eyes from behind Ace's back, and I felt like I wanted to hide under a rock. I felt like I had let Phillip down.
But instead of looking at me in disappointment or rage, he gave me a small smile with those kind eyes of his. He then gave me a short nod, and his defensive demeanour quickly changed to calmness.
For the first time since morning my heart didn't feel like it was getting stepped on, and I immediately remembered why I was even down here.
I quickly jumped from behind Ace, cutting off his growling and stood between them. My eye's searched for Aiden, and I found him not to far away from where dad stood.
"You didn't tell him" I said more as a statement than a question, and he hung his head with a short sigh.
I too sighed as I took a deep breath and faced my father once again. I sized up to him and squared my shoulders as I started.
"Dad, Alpha Ace is my mate" A series of gasps echoed from both packs, since this was news to everyone.
"Nonsense!" He dismissed immediately. "You bastard why did you forcefully mark my daughter?! I will ki-"
"Alpha Blake!" I shouted.
He stopped suddenly at my outburst and watched me in shock. I always called him 'dad' or 'father', so I knew I got his attention with that. I took another firm step closer to him and continued with what I hoped would be both packs' redemption.
"Ace is my mate, whether you like it or not. Whether you and John cursed it or not, he is my mate" His eyes grew impossibly wider at that, and I knew what his follow up question would be.
"How did I you know about that?"
I laughed humourlessly. "You are so selfish dad, and maybe it's you who I got it from. Because you were so selfish, you hid the truth from Aide and I , completely ruined our teenage life just for your own benefit. Just because you were a coward. "
His face completely drained of colour, and I knew I had him then.
"Roxanna, I told you not to wonder around the pack" He tried to sound firm, but failed miserably when it came out wavering and weak. I could've smirked if it was any other situation, but this was serious.
"Yea and for what? So that I don't find out the truth and mess up your whole plan? You never really cared about the pack's benefit did you? You just strategized all this for alllll these years for your own benefit." I took a step closer to him as I stared him dead in the eyes.
You were gonna ruin this man" I stopped and pointed at Ace for effect, "Just because you were too scared and prideful to do things in a civilized manner. And I was so blind to how stupid, inhumane and childish this plan of yours was. You made us believe that Alpha John was power hungry and ruthless, and took what was ours without reason"
I noticed from the corner of my eyes that Aiden was looking very much confused, and dad's face only got paler.
"I'm not gonna point fingers and say it was your fault, but it was as much yours as much as it was John's. And you know what makes you look like a even bigger dick?" Eye's widened and mouths fell at my words. Hell, even I was surprised at my language, but I didn't regret it.
"The fact that Ace was willing to give you back everything and more, even before he met me, just because it was the right thing to do and because he's actually mature"
"Wh-what?" His eyes quickly flickered to Ace before they found back mine.
"I found the documents of the transfers, leases and even extra help that he was willing you give you without a war. And hell I was so freaking stupid to keep this from him all this time, and I know I'm undeserving of such a wonderful mate, but he's more of a man than you ever were"
By now everyone just watched and listened silently, war long forgotten. Dad looked like he was being ran over by a bus, but he just stood quietly.
"You see this?" I gently took his hand and placed it on my tummy.
He gaped at me as his eyes flashed between me, Ace and my stomach. A series of mutters went around the crowd, and Ace was standing really close behind me again, as if he thought dad would rip my stomach out.
"This is Ace's baby, and this is Ace's pack. So if you rage a war on Ace, you wage a war on his baby, and that automatically means you're waging a war against me."
And for the first time since I got here, I saw him back down. His eyes no longer held malice or anger, just regret and realization.
"I was stupid to even agree to do this, but I was brainwashed with a lie. We both were" I turned to Aiden as I spoke that part. "And I was even stupider to keep the truth from you Ace" I then turned to Ace as I spoke. "But it was just a constant war with myself. I felt like if I told you, I would be betraying my pack and my family. But I knew that by not telling you, I was betraying you and your pack. I didn't know what to do"
And just like that, my tears started to flow again. I rested a hand on my flat stomach and gazed down at it.
"But I knew that even if I couldn't do it for myself, my pack or for you Ace, I had to do it for our unborn child. And I swear to you, I was gonna tell you everything the day I came into your office, but then I learnt the real truth"
I sniffled as I turned once again to Aiden. "Mom's not dead Aiden. She's here"
Despite what he tried to do yesterday, my heart broke for him as I saw the expression on his face. I knew exactly what he was feeling, and that made it hurt more. Dad simply hung his head as expectant eyes from our pack gazed awestruck between the two of us.
"What?" Aiden's voice was barely audible, but it was there.
"She's been here for eighteen years. Dad's motive wasn't only to get back the land and people back, it was to get her back. So he trained us like lions to go on this crazy mission, just because he was too prideful to talk to John and too coward to pitch a meeting with Ace when he took over.
"He lied to all our lives, making us believe our mom was dead. He kept the truth from the pack too. He didn't feel the mate bond break, only the pack bond. So when everyone thought she was dead, he knew the truth all along"
Torn faces and sad eyes could be seen everywhere. Even Ace's pack members looked as if they would hug us to make us feel better. We were all victims here, controlled under the Alpha's influence and lies, just to avenge his mate from a man who's dead. Dad's eyes finally met mine again, and it was safe to say it was the first time I've seen him like this.
"Why dad?" I whispered through my tears.
Every head whipped to the source of the voice, and there stood my mom in all her beauty. My eyes went back to dad as he just stood there with a look on his face that would make a big man cry.
My eyes then travelled to Aiden, and all my anger for him vanished when his face mimicked dad's. We were twins and we went through the same thing, but I knew that he was always a little bit more affected by our mom's absence.
Dad took a step towards where she emerged from the trees. His steps were slow and she seemed glued to her spot too. Her eyes glossed over and her face daubed with a mixture of relief, want and pain.
Everyone just watched in awe as he stopped a feet away from her and fell to his knees. He wrapped his arms around her slender legs, buried his face in her skirt and I watched as my father, the big bad Alpha, break down in raw and fervent tears.
And that's when I knew that it was over. All this that have been going on for eighteen years was finally over. He was completely broken and defeated at the mercy of his one real reason for everything. I've never saw my father so vulnerable, and I never thought I would ever see the day. But as I stood there and watched as he cried on her, I knew that he was done for.
He's got what he always wanted; to hell if he was gonna lose it again. In that moment I knew he didn't care about the pack, the war or even his kids. He will probably even give the pack to Aiden tomorrow.
But all I knew was that it was over.
"Retreat" I ordered quietly to my pack members. Some nodded and turned to leave, some glared at me and some just continued to stare at my parents.
"She said retreat" Phillip repeated sternly after clearing his throat. The remaining pack members left, and I saw Ace nod at his members too, making them leave just the same.
It was just me, Phillip, Ace, Aiden and my parents left.
Aiden slowly walked over to where mom was still holding dad, and she let go of him shortly to embrace her son. I saw his shoulders shake violently, indicating that he too was crying. I kept my distance though, I let him have his moment.
I slowly turned around to ogled Ace's reaction. He had a blank look on his face as he watched the reunited family. And even after all that happened today, I knew he would still follow up on his work to dad. He didn't even look mad, he just looked at peace for them. Despite everything that happened, he understood-- he cared.
But that all changed as he turned to me. He wasn't angry anymore, but he certainly wasn't okay. He didn't even say anything to me. He just looked at them again, then to me, turned around and walked away.
Of course he would feel more hurt towards me, even if I didn't form the plan. The fact of the matter was that I kept something from him that could've potentially ruin him and his pack.
No mater my reason, no matter my attempts and no matter what I did to try and fix it, I had hurt him.
And no amount of training could've prepared me for this kind of internal battle.