To Love

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Chapter 12

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“I think perfection is ugly. Somewhere in the things humans make, I want to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion.”

-Yohji Yamamoto

My feet couldn’t carry me to the hospital wing fast enough. I didn’t care that the Betas had barely enough time to process the changes to their procedures, I don’t see how hard adding ‘don’t torture or harm’ could be regardless. Roman was hot on my tail and part of me wished that he had teleporting powers like the hunters too so he could just click and take us immediately there. But given the nerves eating away at my stomach it was probably best for me to have to take the time to put one foot in front of the other.

Roman hadn’t tugged on my arm or urged me too slow which was a good sign. I was just waiting for his eyes to gloss over and his hands to encase my arm, stopping me entirely with a deep look of sadness. I was waiting for him to tell me that Carter was behaving psychotic and that I couldn’t see him, or that they suspected too much danger and wouldn’t allow me within his vicinity.

But he never did stop me. Not as I pushed through the hospital doors and into the crisp white lobby. I noticed Dr Lynn with a clipboard near the entrance desk but I didn’t stop to enquire, I simply strode past her with fervour towards Carters room, a look of dread encompassing me face. I gathered she’d follow, likely discuss the semantics with Roman whilst I saw my brother- I sucked in a harsh breath and realises it shakily.

This is it. I am going to see my brother. Not visit his dormant body lying lifelessly on a thin hospital mattress, not listen to his strained words as a gun is pulled on his head. I am going to see him. Talk to him. Let conversation flow like it once did, back when neither of us had people holding us down and we could.

I stopped dead in my tracks once the sight of Carters room came into view and my heart plummeted to my chest. A flurry of nurses were rushing towards the door and the copious amounts of guards lined at his door were tense, their hands ready at the pistols on their side. It was mayhem and it only turned worse once a red light flicked on above his door and the screaming started.

A hoarse whimper wobbled from my lips and I lurched forward, just escaping the fingertips of Roman that aimed to hold me back because those screams weren’t frightened nurses or injured wolves. They were Carters.

I’d never heard him scream like that. Not in such a bloodcurdling, fearful way. Not even when he was being beaten by wolf guards did he make such a sound. It made my insides form a tight knot. But I knew it was him, call it instinct or a hunch but that was Carter in there, awake and surrounded by people he has only ever viewed as his enemies.

I was lucky for the flurry of people because if it weren’t for me squeezing between two guards Roman would no doubt have succeeded in holding me back. If the guards noticed me they didn’t show it, everyone was too preoccupied with containing the madness inside the room and I was intent on getting in the thick of it.

I rushed past the nurses and just as I approached the door, the heads of both guards whipped into the room, following another shout of protest, allowing me to get through in-between them before they could stop me.

The second I entered my heart beat stopped racing all together before picking back up with a fervent beat. This room that was usually so deathly still it haunted me now seemed even more frightening with the flurry of activity. The bed was askew, angled from its regular position with sheets thrown completely off and wires that were once attached to him now lay scattered over the floor.

The machine he was hooked up too was in pieces over the floor, the thing that kept him alive now dead laying dormant on the floor.

“Get off me!” My head followed the sound of Carters strangely voice as he let out another sound of protest and I ran to the edge of the bed to find him on the floor, three large wolves holding him down as he continued to struggle.

The wolves all had a similar tattoo stretching over their arm and each time Carter would kick, his eyes manically not focusing on anyone or anything, they’d push down on him harder which in turn would make him cry out in pain.

His eyes went wide in horror and he began kicking again, scared out of his mind and I noticed a young male nurse approaching him slowly with a large needle. I reacted faster than I had the time to process what I was doing as I knocked the syringe from his hand, sending it flying to the ground.

I snapped my head to Carter and his eyes connected with mine, his strained features softening instantly and his body slumping into the arms of the guards who seemed entirely surprised by the sudden turn in his attitude.

“Get off him,” I order and the men restraining Carter oblige reluctantly, maintaining a close distance to him in the event of another outburst.

“Carter,” I whisper, dropping to the floor. I wrap my arms around his body and he barely has the strength to hold me back as tight as I embrace him but he tries. All of his energy was drained in his fight and I can tell by the lethargic way his body moves, its like he has just sprinted a marathon and his entire body has turned to jelly because of it.

“Mae,” he says, his words coming out in a hoarse choke. “They are trying… Mae you need to help me, please,” he starts, looking at me with seriousness in his eyes.

“Its okay, you’re fine now. You just need to be calm, okay? If you just do what I say then nothing bad is going to happen, you just need to relax,” I say with a soothing voice but the fear in his eyes doesn’t dissipate. If anything, he just looks at me with a sharper edge of sadness-sympathy almost.

“Mae we can’t be here with them, they want to hurt me, hurt you. We’ve-” he gulps, leaning in closer to me, “We’ve gotta get out of here,” he whispers and at my expression he becomes even more fearful, like I have been tricked in some way.

“Carter just calm down okay, calm down and we can talk about all of this. You were shot, you need to get back in bed and let these people help you. Trust me, they won’t hurt you,” I say and he shakes his head.

“No,” he says, his voice a wobble. “No,”

Please Carter.”

His eyes dull around like he is swarmed with regret. “They are trying to put me under again. They want to kill me, Mae, they’re trying to kill me, you need to help me,” he says, his breathing becoming faster with every passing thought.

“You need to heal,” I reiterate, holding onto his bicep. His body is freezing to my touch and I want to recoil from it but I don’t. Not only does he look like death, with his wide, fearful eyes but he feels like it too.

“Mae, please, please you don’t understand. You shouldn’t have brought me here, you should’ve just let me die, why didn’t you let me die?” He asks, his voice fuelling with more panic as his eyes begin too well with unshed tears.

“Carter, stop, you’re not making any sense. Don’t say things like that,” I scold, my own eyes starting to water. I don’t get it, I don’t get why he is acting like this. I thought he’d be happy-relieved- to be alive, not upset. It makes no sense.

His hands move from his side and he grips both of my arms like a vice, shaking me almost. “Maeve I can’t be here. You can’t be here. We need to leave, they took you, stole you away and now we need to go. We need to run faster this time, do it better,” he starts mumbling at the end, almost like he is talking to himself and I blame the drugs he must still be under because this isn’t the Carter I know.

“I’m fine, Carter, you’re fine. It’s okay here-” I cut myself short when his eyes snap back to mine with a sort of anger and his grip becomes tighter on my arms.

“It’s not okay. You’re trapped, they’ve taken you and hurt you- the things he makes you do Mae,” he starts again, his voice becoming tight with pain. “We left you to live through that. To be forced to stay, stay with him,” he says with an intense rage, his eyes looking past me.

The air in the room goes taut and everyone is deathly still. Carter’s eyes begin to bubble with hatred and his face contorts from fear into pure rage. “He did this to you,” he says and I don’t even want to turn around to face Roman because that would mean taking a watchful eye off of Carter for a second. “He stole you, bit you, raped you,” he says and I flinch as his hands loosen from my biceps.

Roman doesn’t growl in protest or make a move towards Carter but everyone else in the room shifts with the proclamation. Even I avert my gaze on him for a split second, my face paling.

Carter doesn’t let the silence stop him however, and he lunges forward, past me and straight towards Roman. I turn around at the sight of Carter diving in for the kill, a murderous glint in his eyes.

Roman’s eyes widen slightly before he takes ahold of Carters biceps and in one quick manoeuvre, he has Carter in a unmovable position. But it doesn’t stop him from thrashing as he screams at him, all sorts of profanities and accusations falling from his tongue in a stream of fiery rage.

I don’t think twice as I grab the syringe I knocked onto the floor next to me. I take it, pop off the cap and pierce it straight into his arm, emptying the contents and watching as his rapid movements become more and more sluggish.

I taste the saltiness of tears as they fall onto my lips and watch as Roman gives Carter’s body to the guards next to him before he embraces me, pulling me into his chest. I turn my head away from Carters limp body as it is taken from the room.

“Don’t hurt him,” I whisper to Roman and he doesn’t respond, he just holds me tighter against him and I try to think through what the hell I am supposed to do now.

-

“I thought you said he’d be fine,” Roman says next to me, finally mustering up the will power to bring it up.

After seeing him like that… it broke a part of me that I didn’t know needed holding together. Such a large part of my heart was barely being held together, the part that was always wondering if Carter was safe, the part that had to hide his identity from Roman out of pure fear that he’d be tracked down and used against me, the part that kept ripping further and further with the worry of his life on the line.

For so long, I had been trying to assure myself that he would make it out okay, that whatever he went through he was strong enough to endure it. But after what I saw…

He was like a completely different person. He was drugged up, he probably said things he didn’t mean to say, things he’d regret. But those thoughts were there nonetheless. His view of Roman was unlikely to be much different in his sober state and from what we’ve seen there is a high chance he won’t take to fondly to the wolf race as an entirety.

“I thought he would be,” I mumble back, my eyes focusing on the piles of work sat completed on my bedside table. A good distraction, one that was at least productive.

I push my body closer into the pillows, pulling the duvet over my exposed shoulders. He lets out a heavy sigh next to me. He’d only gotten back half an hour ago but managed to pull himself together for bed faster than I’d ever seen him.

“You know what this means now don’t you?” He asks softly and I still, my body going completely rigid.

“It might not mean that, you don’t know for sure,” I respond, the words feeling like likes though we don’t have a solid answer.

“But we will have to find out,” he says and I squeeze onto the duvet tighter to stop my fingers from shaking. I remember what he said when he told me of Oliver being a hunter, of extracting out the mark. Even the idea sounded painful.

“He could’ve tried to kill any of the wolves in the room and he didn’t,” I counter, my voice coming out firmer. But the things that he said… About how I shouldn’t have brought him here, that they’d kill him… maybe I made a fatal mistake.

“He wasn’t particularly pleasant for them to deal with, either,” he grumbles, shifting in the sheets.

“He had a motive to kill you other than your genetics, that much was clear. There is every chance he only went after you because of that,” I say, adamant in my justification of a scenario I don’t fully understand yet. But people have a way of doing that-humans in particular. We defend those we love because the thought of them being anything other than our perception of them is too much to handle.

I am defending my perception of him because I want it to remain intact.

“About his motive…” Roman starts before falling silent again. I shift nervously. I was naive to think it would go unmentioned, the accusations that Carter filed out. He did steal me, away from my freedom at least and the bite mark on my neck was evidence enough that the second claim was true too.

But the third… “He was just assuming. It’s not,” I let out a deep sigh, “we both know it’s not true but I think that the truth would be an even harder thing for him to accept.”

The idea that I would willingly sleep with Roman would be a hard concept for Carter to grasp given the lives we led underneath his rule.

“I know it’s not true,” Roman says with validity, “but he has clearly been told something different by the hunters. I’d imagine whatever they put him through there, whatever lies they poisoned him with are what is making him so confused.”

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that they told him something at the rebel base. About me, about Roman, about the things we are trying to do. It would have been foolish to think that any information they gave out to their members wasn’t constructed to serve their higher purpose.

“I didn’t expect him to like you regardless,” I mummer. “I wasn’t counting on it and honestly, I don’t think he ever will,” I confess, my eyes still trained on the stack of paper next to me.

“I didn’t think he’d like me either but I certainly didn’t think he’d try to kill me on sight,” he replies, slightly offended.

I let out a sigh. “I know it might be hard for you to understand, for Jayce and Elijah and every member of this pack as a matter of fact. But try to think about what it seems from his perspective, from mine. He was beaten for giving his brother a hug goodbye after we’d been lined up like cattle in a fair, told to stay silent and watch as he was torn away never to be seen again. Human mates rarely saw their families in my pack, it was common knowledge and whether it was the choice of them of their wolf captors no one knew because we didn’t have the chance to find out. If you were taken, you were as good as dead to your family, a memory that existed but could never be reached,”

I shift in my place on the bed, hugging the pillow tighter. “If I hadn’t ran like I had then I might’ve very well been dead to him too. To humans, this mate thing is different, this pack thing is different. We aren’t the same like that, it’s not always an easy thing to accept. Especially not after everything,” I state and I feel him still beside me.

“I know and I wish…” he lets out a frustrated sigh. “I wish I approached things differently. I wish that I’d just tried talking to you, taking you on a date, convincing you even. Taking you like I did wasn’t fair, I thought since I was yours that you were mine but that wasn’t the case and I regret it, truly I do,” he replies, his voice hoarse with tiredness.

Of course I’d heard these pledges before, different variations of the same words. I know he is sorry and I know why but just like its always going to be a struggle for him to understand why I act the way I do, it will always be a struggle for me in the same respect.

“I want another chance to talk to him,” I say, diverting the conversation.

“That might not be a good idea,” he starts but I shake my head, the movement making him stop.

“When he has been cleared from all the drugs, when he’s not acting like that. Give me a chance to find out the truth about his lineage before you extract it from him,” I say and an eerie silence fills the room.

“The risk is too high, Mae. I don’t think either of us should be approaching him until we know for sure,” he says and I shake my head again, slipping into denial.

“There has to be another way to tell, I refuse to believe that you know the only method,” I reply.

“I wish there were another way,” he says heavily, “unless you want him to remain untouched and if that is the case then you won’t be seeing him and the answers we get could always be tainted with a lie,” he explains just as a thought pops into my mind.

I turn over underneath the duvets, finding that Roman’s head is inclined towards me, his arm outstretched above me head. I lean into his touch. “Let Avery look at his blood samples,” I say boldly.

As far as I am aware, Avery has kept most of her research a secret from the people in power here, including her own mate. She investigates small workloads they offer her and when she completes them with a large amount of ease, she moves onto the cases she keeps for herself.

Ways to figure out how Ellie-Mae will exist genetically, ways for baby Celina to navigate her way through having a father carry the hunter curse and a mother be a wolf. If there is anyone in this place who could figure it out it would be her.

“Avery?” He asks, his hand moving to hold me closer to him. “The Gamma’s mate? Why would she be any help in this?”

I almost want to scowl at the ignorance of his words. He has someone as gifted and smart as Avery working for him and he doesn’t even realise it. Of course he wouldn’t know and I can’t blame him for that, it wouldn’t surprise me if Christopher went out of his way to ensure that he never found out.

“Because she is a scientist. Trust me, Roman, she can help up with this, I know she can,” I say and he contemplates for a minute.

“It’s your call, but we don’t have a lot of time,” he says and I nod.

“I know,” I mummer into his chest before leaning back onto his arm, the heat of his body too much considering the flurried state of my mind.

He leans down and places a kiss on my lips, like he can’t resist the temptation. “We can talk about it in the morning, let’s just get some rest,” he says, pulling me closer into his hold.

“Why can’t things just work out for once?” I whisper, my lips brushing against the smooth skin of his chest.

“They will work out, it’s just going to take getting through these few mishaps first,” he replies and I chose my eyes, a shaky sigh escaping from my lips.

“He’ll be better tomorrow,” I state, my eyelids becoming droopier. I let them fluter closed and push myself closer to Roman’s warmth. Roman mummers something in response but I don’t hear his words as I fall into a deep sleep.

The next morning comes faster than I hoped. I yearned for a night void of dreams, a night where I could forget about the events of yesterday and just have peace for at least a moment. But my mind didn’t stop turning once I went to sleep, I didn’t get that satisfaction.

The horrors of what I saw yesterday only became worse in their distortion and relaying it became like a chore all throughout breakfast and into the office that I am sat in now. No matter how many graceful strokes of the red pen I swirl across the page, no matter how many times I push my glasses to the bridge of my nose or scan through a new document. The thoughts continued to pillage my mind. I knew I couldn’t just avoid it, in fact it was probably a good thing that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But thinking about it isn’t really much help when I can’t draw any useful conclusions. I hadn’t even contacted Avery yet.

Roman said we would discuss it today before making any decisions but so far the training he had to oversea this morning was running well over schedule. I had half a mind to follow him out to the barracks, despite the protest I’d likely receive, just to be able to pester him enough out there that he’d leave out of the pure hope I’d stop annoying him.

But I had to make a conscious effort to let him continue doing the duties he had too. As much as I want to prioritise Carter’s situation above everything else, he still has a pack to run. We will still need soldiers for the prolonged war that threatens to emerge.

Because nothing about this war is simple. Right now, everything is still scattered, the pieces of the puzzle aren’t together, they are barely even all there. On my end, there is only so much I can do with the information that I have. The King is orchestrating the response to the majority of it and Roman has focused his military forces on a counter attack but I barely know when or where or how this conflict is even going to take place.

I am so out of my depth. I am barely managing to sort out reforms for humans and all I am doing for them is reading over reports that a team underneath me create. Which is why I need to get Carter to talk. We know that the hunters are working with Alpha Nicholas, we know they are equipping a human army to fight and that they have certainty that their methods will work. But there are so many gaps to their plan that need to be filled.

Going against a pack like this is a challenge enough, let alone having the audacity to challenge the packs of the world. It is a bold move and personally, I don’t think that Alpha Nicholas is foolish enough to make such a bold move without knowledge that his plan has the means to succeed.

The door to the office opens and Roman walks in with a powerful stride, his hair wet from the rain outside. He is clad in a training uniform, sweat dripping off of him and creating a gleaming sheath around his muscles. He looks so different from his usual suit and tie it takes me aback for a moment.

“I apologise for my appearance, I didn’t have time to change. Once we’ve talked I’ll leave to take a shower,” he says and I nod.

“It’s fine, I’m not bothered,” I reply, shifting in my seat. “I need to know your verdict on involving Avery,” I say, jumping straight into the crux of the matter.

“I think it’s a good idea. We need her to be working on it full time however, the sooner she can give us results the better,” he replies and I nod, somewhat relieved that he isn’t entirely opposed to the proposition.

“I don’t know how long it’ll take but if I stress the importance I’m sure she’ll work as fast as she can,” I reply and he’d nods, his lips forming a tight line as he processes his thoughts.

“There’s something else,” he starts and I furrow my brows, dread already starting to form in the pit of my stomach. More often than not, words that follow a statement like that are never pleasant.

“What?” I press, though part of me really doesn’t want to hear what he has to say, to face another blip in my quest for normality.

“I’ve been thinking and whatever we find out, we have to tell King Tiberius.”

authors note

Lmao so in my last authors note I told y’all I was writing going to school, well I actually meant the school BALL which makes more sense so there’s just a lil bit of clarification for y’all aha.

I apologise for the late chapter, things have been pretty hectic for me atm and I have all my final exams encroaching on me like an evil curse I can’t escape. (i feel you hunters, I do) So I am afriad that the updates will continue to be wild surprises for a little while longer until I can get back into the swing of things.

ALSO this book is already at 50,000 words, how time does fly amiright?

Til next time,

Khalesi <3

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