To Love

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Chapter 13

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“Negotiation means getting the best of your opponent.”

-Marvin Gaye

I feel the colour drain from my cheeks, turning whatever rosy red had developed from the warmth of the room into a ghostly white. I remain silent as dread pools in my stomach, ready to lurch itself out at any given moment.

Because the proposition does make me queasy, it tangles my nerves together in a bundle and squeezes them, as it testing just how tight they can be squished until they burst. The idea that King Tiberius-a man who is erratic on a good day-knowing about Carter’s lineage deeply disturbs me for many reasons. The most obvious being that his hate for hunters is palpable.

“It’s our duty too,” Roman continues at my silence, the void of a response providing him with an answer all the same. “We are members of his pack, after all and this war that is coming… if we want him to be able to put an end to the conflict before it becomes worse we need to be honest and inform him of everything. Packs don’t work well with secrets like this, it’s not how we operate.”

He looks at me, an echo of sadness still ringing from his words and I suppose that means that it doesn’t really matter what my response is. I may be his mate, his soul-destined second half but his loyalty to his Alpha still exists.

“He’ll kill him,” I finally manage, giving him a look of dread that is soon mimicked. “Out of spite, or ethics or pure damn hatred-he’ll kill him,” I reiterate, fear slowly creeping into my system with each syllable I sound out.

“He needs to know,” he responds and it does nothing to quell my fear. Restating his opinion is hardly comforting when my brothers head is on the chopping block.

“What good will it do?” I ask, “we are fine without him knowing, we can get the information we need from him and then just pass it to King Tiberius in a different way. He doesn’t need to know about Carter, he can’t,” I state.

“He has too, lying isn’t a sustainable way to win this war. The King might react brashly which is why if we are going to tell him, it’d be best to do it when his is neck deep in work on the other side of the world,” he says, running a hand through his hair. “Look, as far as I am concerned, there is a lot more negatives to him not knowing then there are positives to not.”

“Such as?” I ask, genuinely curious.

“Such as him finding out on his own, realising our betrayal and punishing us both. I’d take a guess that Carter’s life in that scenario would be much more at risk too,” he says before sighing. “Look, if we tell him, then we hold the cards. We get to decide how he finds out, when he finds out and that gives us control over his possible reaction.”

“And when would we tell him?” I ask beginning to gnaw on my nails. “I haven’t even told Avery of our plans. We can’t possibly hold the power if we ourselves have no clue what is going on with Carter. He isn’t himself, what he is saying may come from a place of truth but the way he looked at me, the way he acted… if that is what we are basing our claim off of for the King not to kill him then you may as well sign his death warrant,” I conclude and he nods his head.

“I agree that we should refrain from telling him right away, like you said, we don’t have nearly enough information from Carter to even use. But we have to tell him at some point and the sooner the better. He is still under anaesthetics, I checked in with Dr Lynn before coming here,” he says and I gulp.

“Have they done any blood tests on him recently? Any DNA scans or information they could give to Avery? Putting him to sleep with drugs isn’t going to solve any of our issues. He needs to be awake, with food and time to heal in a safe environment,” I say, knowing full well what it feels like to be bombarded when all you truly need is to be alone.

“That’s difficult to do when he is adamant that everyone here is trying to kill him. I doubt he’d accept the food we offered him and unlike you, there isn’t much we can do to make him comply,” he says referring to the days where I snubbed my nose at any offerings him or the doctors made, despite the growls of protest my stomach made.

It wouldn’t surprise me if he took the same route as me. Not only does he think we’d poison him but I can imagine that accepting anything from the people he views as his number one enemy would be too much of a blow to his pride.

“I can talk to him again.” Romans lip raises in a distasteful expression and his eyes go steely.

“No,” he says firmly and I inhale a deep breath of air.

“He wanted to talk with me before, he’ll do it again. I can get him to eat, probably get him to talk too I just need time. Considering the last time I tried he was being swarmed with an army of wolves-an interesting method to respond to patients might I add-I think he’ll be much more relaxed in a setting with just the two of us,” I propose, because as erratic as Carter was behaving, he was still forming coherent sentences.

Was he flustered? Yes. Slightly insane? Yes. But given he had just woken up from a coma after being shot by his father and found a room full of his enemies waiting to stab him with needles and man-handle him, insane is a pretty mediocre response.

“After the way he acted…” Roman lets out a dry laugh. “You’re not getting within ten feet of him if I have anything to say about it. Let alone by yourself.”

“Well then don’t say anything about it, I wasn’t exactly asking your permission,” I snap back. Frustration bubbling up inside me. He shoots me a dark look and I mimic it. “It will at least take days for Avery to come up with results, I may as well see what I can achieve in that time span,” I continue, sitting straighter behind the desk.

“The two of you alone together in a room is a recipe for disaster,” he says, unrelenting in his position.

“I can hold myself you know,” I comment and he sends me a look that confirms he feels otherwise.

“Against a potential hunter? Be reasonable, Mae,” he says and I let out a breath through my nose.

“There’s got to be a way around it. Talking to him is reasonable, I’m hardly asking for you to let him wander through the pack halls,” I state and he purses his lips together in thought.

“Fine, but there needs to be precautions in place,” he concedes and I feel that familiar sensation of relief sweep through me.

“Like?” I press and he cocks his head to one side, contemplating.

“Restraints for a start. And some form of distress signal, I can have a small button placed on a bracelet. One press and reinforcements will be sent into the room- I don’t care if you accidentally bump it or if there is a malfunction, this is a risk enough already,” he says and his words leave no room for debate. Even if they did, I wouldn’t raise an argument. Sometimes you have to take what you can get-compromise as they say.

“Deal,” I state and the corner of his lip raises in a slight smile.

“I didn’t realise we were negotiating, I’d have worn a suit if I realised,” he says a glint in his eyes as he does so. I fold my arms over my chest, savouring the feeling of being behind the desk.

“I don’t think that’d be any more helpful,” I reply and a dry laugh passes through his lips.

“Perhaps not,” he says, “But I would look better in front of a boss lady,” he says with a wink.

“Boss lady?” I ask with an incredulous look, “Is this an attempt at flattery?”

He shrugs. “Just an observation,” he says, “ You do look very good behind that desk. I’d imagine you’d strike fear into the heart of whoever dares to walk through that door and negotiate next,” he says with a smirk. So this is how being an Alpha feels then? Noted.

“Since you like it so much maybe you should make yourself useful and make me some brownies, maybe add in a foot massage while you’re at it,” I joke and his smirk cracks into a full blown smile.

“My body is yours to use,” he says, holding his arms out, defined in sharp crevices and contours. “However you please.”

I laugh dryly at his antics, shaking my head. “Well you can start by taking your body outside this office and changing into something that isn’t covered in sweat. I have a lot of things to do,” I conclude with a sigh and he nods.

“Who am I to deny you?” He remarks with a slight chuckle, moving over to me and the desk which makes me frown. “I need to take a few files down to the Beta’s on my way to not smell so bad,” he answers before I can even ask.

He walks around and opens a drawer on his side of the desk, retrieving a beige folder before closing it shut and looking to me. His eyes drift to my lips and he smiles slightly. “What have I got to negotiate to get a kiss goodbye?”

“Try showering first, then we can talk,” I comment dismissively, looking back to my work as I try to fight the smile that tugs at the corner of my lips.

“So it’s still on the table then?” He says and I can hear the smile on his face as I take a sip of water from the bottle next to my laptop. “In that case I’ll remember to wear my birthday suit tonight.”

I choke on the water in my mouth, nearly sputtering it over the desk and he erupts with laughter at my struggle as I try to calm my coughing mechanism.

“Like I said, a suit won’t be anymore helpful,” I retort through coughs, not sounding anywhere near as collected as I’d like.

I glance over to him and that darn smirk that still rests on his face. He gives me a wink and begins walking around the desk back towards the door. “We’ll see about that.”

I am thankful he doesn’t turn around to see the blush that has overtaken my cheeks and the second he closes the door, I let out a heavy sigh and gulp down the contents of my water bottle. As persistent as Roman may be to seduce me, I am far too busy for it. Taking my time away from Carter and this entire dilemma to focus on… other things, is going to take a truck load of homemade brownies and more foot rubs than he can count.

-

“A week, maybe more,” Avery lets out a heavy sigh and I shift in my seat on the sofa of her lab. “The only results from a hunter I have received has been through Noah and even then he hasn’t triggered the curse. I could use that to compare the two but without knowing what, exactly, I am looking for to classify Carter’s DNA as ‘hunter’ it’ll take some time,” she explains and I nod, the answer furthering my concern about it all.

“Is there no way you can have it done earlier? We are on a serious time crunch here Ave,” I clarify, tapping my foot incessantly onto the rug beneath me.

She contemplates for a moment and I see the cogs turning behind her auburn eyes, the calculations that are being formed and reviewed. “I don’t,” she sighs again, “I don’t know. I’d have to stay back every night and even then, processing these types of things can take time on their own. If its not more than a week then I’d say it’ll almost definitely be in a week. Can you do nothing on your end to prolong the time I have?” She asks and I shake my head.

“Roman insists we tell the King and he is right. Carter’s life depends on this all working out,” I say and she nods.

“I know. I know,” she says, moving over to the large calendar that occupies an entire whiteboard, the spaces jam packed with small writing. “I’m going to have to take off the eclipse, do me a favour and put Christopher on a night time duty. Far away,” she says and I nod.

“I can arrange that,” I reply and she runs a hand through her wiry hair.

“Can’t you just… I don’t know, ask him?” She says and I let out a breath through my nose, recounting the memory of last time.

“I am going to try but considering last time he literally tried to kill Roman it might not be much use,” I say and a slight smile edges onto her face.

“That makes two of us then, I always did like him the most,” she comments and I remember her telling me about the time she tried to murder him and ended up with a bite mark for it.

“How did you even try to do that?” I ask and she shrugs.

“With a steak knife,” she says nonchalantly, still looking over the dates on her calendar. “I figured it’d make Chris hate me so much, be so embarrassed, that he’d just let me go. Plus I didn’t particularly like Roman all that much so I figured it would be a win-win,” she states and I can’t help but think how horribly wrong she was.

All those calculations, all that brain power yet still, the actions of her mate remain a complete guessing game. I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t relate.

“If you can get the hospitals testings to me by this afternoon I should be able to make a start,” she says, turning to me with a serious look in her eyes. “I won’t let any harm come to him, Mae. Even if that means staying up every freaking night.”

“I can’t thank you enough,” I say, standing up. “I’m going to try-talk with him I mean. I just think this needs to happen, as a fail safe if nothing else,” I say and she nods again.

“I won’t let you down,” she promises again and I reach out and give her a tight hug, wrapping my arms tightly around her waist.

“You are going to owe me a shit ton of coffee after this,” she says and I laugh.

“I’ll get you a personal barista if it helps,” I reply and she pulls back, smiling.

“Good luck with him,” she says, “just keep that big wolf of yours on a leash and I’m sure everything will be fine.”

I laugh at her antics, happy no one is around to hear her. “Thanks again,” I say and she ushers me forward with her hands.

“I get it, I get it, you are forever in my debt blah blah blah. Go help out our little bro,” she replies with a warm smile and I reciprocate it, moving from the room with a small wave goodbye. Part of me wishes that she’d encourage me to stay longer, to talk about honestly everything and anything but my logical side knows that I need to face Carter at some point.

I can’t avoid his inevitable questions any further. I can’t hide behind a barrage of nurses and put off finding the answers to my questions that eat away at me. I don’t want to know if he is a hunter because asking implies an answer and there is a fifty percent chance I won’t want to hear it.

I run my hands down my jeans and meet the two wolves stationed outside of Avery’s lab, looking at the large woman with dread encompassing my face. “To the hospital,” I say and she nods, understanding exactly what I mean.

-

“Maeve, what brings you here?” Dr Lynn asks, pushing her glasses to the bridge of her nose as she closes a file on her desk, clearly startled.

“I just wanted to check in on Carter, see how he is going after everything,” I say and she nods, rising from her chair.

“Yes, yes of course. I just went in to check on him myself actually and he is doing quite well. His vitals are stable and he is set to come out from under the sedative soon actually. There is no telling how much of a hit it was to his system though so we don’t know how much longer he’ll be out,” she informs me and I furrow my brows.

“You checked in on him?” I ask, perplexed. After his outburst, it surpasses me that any of them want to be near him.

“Of course. I am the doctor assigned to his case after all,” she says, noticing the look on my face.

“Does it not bother you? The fact that he might be…” I start, unable to finish my words. A flash of an emotion I can’t quite place crosses over her face but she eventually shakes her head.

“I used to work at a rehabilitation centre for rouges, back in training to become a doctor,” she says and I furrow my brows. “I worked with rouges that were given a second chance but mostly rouges that had been born into their position. They were quite often hostile, many of them tried to kill me on many occasions but underneath it all, after they’d been there and they were shown that not everyone they try to hurt wants to hurt them back they got better,”

She shrugs and nods her head to the side in thought. “Of course it took a lot of therapy and work but at the end they were just the same as me or you. Many of them have mates and families now and are in packs of their own. Your brothers case is of course has its own complications but I figure it is the same as those rouges. I’m not going to drop him just because of who he is or where he comes from,” she says and I squint my eyes slightly further, astonished at how pure she is, how full of love.

I keep waiting for her to turn around and pull a knife on me, for her to reveal some deep dark secret but she hasn’t yet and for some reason- I don’t think she will.

“Has Roman or the one of the Beta’s come to you with the news on his case?” I ask and she nods.

“Beta female Cameron did actually, I’m monitoring her pregnancy. We have added the restraints to him in anticipation of him awakening, as soon as he does we will have you called so that you and him can have a discussion. Whilst I wouldn’t personally recommend this method it might be best for his own safety if nothing else,” she says and I nod.

“I agree. I want to be ready for when he does wake up though, I don’t want him thinking that he’s just been left like that… like some kind of criminal. I want to be able to explain it all to him you know?” I ask and she gives me a warm smile.

“You will be the first person we notify. I’m sure that seeing a familiar face will help him to calm down regardless,” she says, offering me brief comfort through her words.

“Thank you. As long as he is healthy and alive, that’s all that matters,” I state and she creases her brows.

“Alive? Of course he’ll make it out alive Lu-Maeve, why wouldn’t he?” She questions again, genuinely concerned. Perhaps she thinks I haven’t got faith in her abilities or maybe she is just really invested in her patients and their wellbeing.

“There are some things I need to learn from him, pieces that need to be put together to make sure his chances of walking out of this pack alive remain high,” I say, as cryptic as ever.

“No one in this pack will harm him, Luna, not with how much he means to you,” she says with full belief in her words.

“Let’s hope so,” I comment and she looks me straight into the eye though I don’t take it as a challenge in the slightest and she doesn’t mean it to be one. It is merely a connection, a soul to soul way of saying that what she says is solid and true.

“Anyone who wants to hurt him will have the entire New Moon pack to go through first and then me, and then you. Honestly they are going to need all the luck they can get,” she says and I sense the pride she has for her nations in her words.

If she knew who it was, exactly that we’d be battling then I gather her pride would disintegrate and scatter like ashes to the wind. So I don’t tell her and instead just smile, if someone had the option to leave me ignorant to the fact that Carter’s life is very much so in danger then I’d pray they take it to leave me in peace.

So I’ll give that to her. Let her believe that he is safe and sound within these walls when in reality, a predator encircles the entire ground, a large foreboding shadow of power that is the King. Because that shadow always exits, his hold over this place is nearly tangible. Sure, there are limits to his abilities, as there is with any type of power. But in the end of the day, when he finds out that the son of his mortal enemy is within reach, I have an inkling that the powerful shadow will strangle the entire pack if it means getting ahold of him.

“Is it okay if I work in here again today?” I ask, feigning a smile even though my insides feel like they are on fire.

“Of course, you can set up wherever you like. I’ve got a few patients to check in on so the place is yours,” she says, walking to the door. “If you need anything just give me a ring.”

“Will do,” I reply, sitting down into a chair just to pull out the mountains of work I have yet to do with a heavy sigh, the smile on my face gone and leaving a strained ache in its wake.

authors note

Hey guys, so a little bit of a shorter update today, in truth I am POOPED. Just finished my last ‘offical’ day of high school and now I am preparing myself for the onset of exams with dread lmao.

I know this was more of a filler, but we do need those from time to time I’m afraid aha

Updates will probably be a little skewed still but I am going to try my hardest to keep up the twice weekly thing for you guys.

Khalesi <3

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