“In matters of style, swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
“What the hell was that?” I seethe the second I enter the hallway, coming face to face with Elijah.
“That was my job,” he responds cooly and I narrow my eyes into thin slits.
’Your job? Your job, was to keep my brother safe from the King, not dig him a damn grave,” I spit out and Romans hand finds my bicep, pulling me back from his Beta.
I’d say the implication of the action was ridiculous but my eyes were filled with such red hot anger I can’t blame him. Elijah flinches at the harshness of my words but his stern front doesn’t break.
“It is my job to find out everything I need to know from him. There is every chance that what he told you was a lie, that the story he is reciting is a lie and I intend to remove that chance. This is my profession, this is what I do and by the end of the week I’ll have all the information we need to exonerate him,” he informs but it doesn’t wash out the flames inside me.
“You are baiting him. Making him mad so that he does something reckless. As much as you think you know him he is my family, your methods are only making this harder. He said he’d help, there’s no need for this,” I counter and he folds his arms in front of his chest.
“If you didn’t know that he was a hunter then I’m afraid you are the one who doesn’t know him as well as you think. There is a definite need for this, the help of a liar is as good as a candle for light in a downpour. We don’t know if his help will lead us directly into a trap, we don’t know if everything he has told us is untrue which is why I am going to figure it out,” he counters again and Roman pulls me closer to him.
“He is right, Mae,” Roman pipes in, a softer edge to his words. He knows I don’t want to hear that but knows that I need to regardless. “No harm will come to Carter but this questioning must be done. I don’t doubt your faith in him but as leaders we need to consider every possibility here.”
My intense stare at Elijah softens slightly but my frustration remains intact. “Fine,” I grit out. “But tormenting him with the people he loves…” I start before shaking my head, letting a sigh of anger escape from my lips. “I hope you can sleep at night.”
“Knowing my unborn pup, mate and pack will be safe. Yes, I will sleep at night,” he replies and I shoot him a glare harsh enough to make him incline his head toward me and leave the two of us.
I move forwards and reach for the handle of the interview room only for Roman to hastily pull me back, jerking my body away. I spin around and furrow my brows at him. “What the hell?” I get out, still riding the waves of anger that course through my body.
“You’re not going in there,” he says to me, his voice entirely firm.
“Don’t start this, he is clearly upset, I can’t just leave him alone like that,” I counter, moving again for the handle only to be pulled back a second time. I glare at Roman with vehemence. “Do it a third time, I dare you,” I say and he visibly flinches at the anger behind my voice.
“He’ll know you were watching every moment of the interview if you walk in now. And he is clearly unstable at the moment, I don’t care if he is cuffed to the table it is a risk not worth taking. Elijah is right when he says we can only take Carter’s word to a point,” he explains and my hand that has encased around the handle doesn’t twist.
“So he’s just going to stay in there now?” I ask, my throat becoming thicker at the notion.
Roman shakes his head. “Of course not. We will have him moved to a comfortable cell and afford to him whatever he needs. These interviews will take place at the liberty of Beta Elijah but they will still follow our pack guidelines on such things,” he says and my brows remain furrowed.
“What kind of guidelines?” I ask.
“He will have breaks between sessions, no more than four sessions a day and he is to have full meals and comfort during the process. If anything needs to be extended or changed, the Beta’s bring it up with me-and you too now, I suppose,” he says and I scrunch my face in disbelief.
“No torture? No decaying cells with minimal food? I find it hard to believe you’d treat your prisoners better than your workers back in the day,” I jab and he shoots me a look.
“Well when talking doesn’t work, the methods change,” he says, a cold type of sincerity in his words that sends chills down my spine.
“And will the methods change for him?” I ask and he isn’t quick to answer, letting me know all I have to.
“That depends on his answers, doesn’t it?” He says and a silence drifts between us as I think over the implication. I don’t want that to be true. If it comes to that… I don’t know what I’ll do but after everything Elijah said, everything Roman said.
I suppose it’d be unhealthy for me not to hold an ounce of scepticism towards Carters claims. And maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t the worst idea. As much as the thought of Carter being treated like a common criminal irked me, I had to remind myself about the meeting I went to, the lie he participated in to get me there and the seemingly endless list of things I didn’t know about him.
Roman extends his hand out to me, an offering of peace and I glance at it before heaving a sigh, placing my palm atop his and falling instep to his steady strides as he leads us from the abyss of rooms.
“How did you even know?” I ask Roman once we get a safe distance away from the others.
Her turns to me with furrowed brows. “Know what?” He asks and I pull away from his hold slightly.
“About Alani,” I continue and his grip on my hand fastens.
“She was in our system, from when the three of you entered the pack territory in which we officially met,” he answers. I don’t know if that really counts as an offical meeting but I guess it is what it is at this point.
“And how much else do you know from your system?” I ask, genuinely curious.
His grip on my hand doesn’t lessen. “As much as was on there,” he says vaguely.
“Like?” I press and he shrugs.
“Not a whole lot. You kept quite a low profile before and during the takeover. It was like you didn’t want to be found,” he concludes and I nod, agreeing with his assumption.
“I didn’t think anyone would be looking,” I respond, my answer slightly true. I didn’t have a profile so to speak mainly because I didn’t have enough friends for one. There wasn’t a need to share information beyond the three people I actually talked to.
“I know this might not seem a pressing issue to you, but the Beta females have contacted and asked for a meeting with you. They want to go through the upcoming events and finalise a few things before it comes around,” he says as we walk in stride together. “I understand if you have other things on your mind however, with all that is going on with Carter it is completely okay if you decline.”
I shake my head. “It’s fine, a distraction would be nice considering there is nothing I can do about his situation,” I reply because it is true. I can either consume my mind with productive activities or sulk about, worrying myself to death over an issue that won’t be resolved.
“Beta Elijah should be finished with everything by the end of the week, if not next, and then we can focus on telling the King and using whatever knowledge we have to end the war before it begins,” he says as we make our way out of the prison cells and into the large pack hallways.
“Isn’t the Eclipse celebration before then?” I ask and he nods.
“It is set to take place in about four days,” he answers before inkling his head to the side in thought. “Of course you and I just have to make an appearance and leave if you do not wish to stay. We can always enjoy the night next year, when all of this isn’t an issue,” he says and I nod.
“I’ll think about it,” I reply and he gives me a smile.
He flicks over his wrist and inspects his match before taking his hand from mine. “I’ve got to be on the training fields in five, will I meet you back in our room tonight?” He asks, hopeful and I avert my gaze, looking down to the marble floor beneath us.
“I’ll see how work goes,” I reply, even though I will most probably end up asleep in the office. That is if I even manage to fall asleep. Sleeping beside Roman would probably be the only way for me to get some rest but if I stay in the office, void of sleep then I’ll be forced to work on what I need too.
“See you later,” he says, pulling me in briefly to leave a fleeting kiss on my forehead.
“Bye,” I mummer, watching the back of him retreat from the halls, a heavy sigh escaping my lips the moment he is out of sight.
I barely notice as two guards find their way behind me, posted in their usual positions to escort me away. He leaves, they come. That’s the gig and the only way to escape it is to lock myself away in a room or in an office so I do exactly that.
The Beta females enter the office before sunset, bearing two large trays of food, some steaming and others glistening with oil. Cameron places her tray down onto Romans barren desk, cleared of all the papers that usually lay scattered and smooths a hand over her slight bump. It wouldn’t surprise me if he has been up completing his work whilst I stayed in the hospital.
“Can I just say thank you for keeping Elijah so occupied?” Cameron asks with a laugh. “The more work you give him the less he suffocates me with concern, its honestly so tiring at this point,” she says with a smile, giving me the impression that part of her likes the swooning care her mate has for her pregnant state.
I can’t particularly say that I’m pleased with Elijah either, or Jayce for that matter. It seems as of late that both Beta’s have some kind of issue with me. To which I say join the queue, there is a long line of people waiting to settle their score with me so they’ll just have to wait.
“It’ll pass, Jayce was all over me in my first month, too. It took threatening to never make another of his favourite sandwiches ever again for him to stop fretting over me,” Astrid chimes in, shaking her head with a smile at the memory. “And don’t worry, once the baby comes it’ll all come back. I think Jayce has already started to increase his gym routine, ready to scare off her mate when he finally comes along,” she says with a laugh and Cameron laughs too.
“I thought mates were accepted?” I comment, finally emerging myself into the discussion.
“They are, but wolves are also very overprotective of their own,” Cameron answers like the memory of her own past is coming back to her. “Trust me, werewolf mates have their own set of problems to sort out too, it isn’t all fairytales and pixie dust.”
Good to know, I guess. I figured they were here to talk of events but it seems that mates and pregnancy is a subject I just can’t avoid around here. No matter where I go or what I do, puppies and love is all that seems to concern these people.
“Thank you for bringing me food, I appreciate it,” I say, picking up a small sandwich wedge.
“It’s no problem, we figured you’d need something to compensate for the bore our talk of events will cause you,” she says and I offer a smile.
“What was it that you needed my approval on?” I ask between bites. “You both know that I am virtually okay with anything you decide to put forth for these types of things.”
“Of course but we just want to make sure it is okay by your standards too,” Astrid says and I lean back in my chair, ready for there presentation, I guess.
“Okay, well there is quite a bit too unpack.”
I looked around the garden in complete utter awe, lights hang from the trees like fallen stars and people are swarming together, moving around one another in a collected dance through each of the set up stalls. There are families stationed at play areas, laughing and smiling and couples grinning as they hold hands. It is like everything I have been stressing over the past four days doesn’t exist. It’s like Carter isn’t currently in a holding cell, reading the material I had brought to him. It’s like there hasn’t been escalated tensions on the southern border just this morning.
“Relax, you are making me nervous,” Roman whispers in my ear, his lips connecting with my skin and sending a large amount of tingles through my body. I pull back from him, surprised at the magnitude of the shock.
“I’m just trying to think,” I respond, shaking my head. I need to get a grip.
“You’ve been thinking non stop for the last week. Taking one night off isn’t going to hurt you. Carter’s flies are being processed as we speak and everything we need to focus on will be available to us tomorrow. So just enjoy yourself,” he says, pulling me closer to his body and his touch is warmer than usual, everything about him so calming and alluring.
I didn’t realise it until my meeting with the Beta females, what this night was exactly. Essentially, it was just a massive glorified sex party. Well, that might be a little blunt as far as descriptions go but that’s really what the eclipse moon was about for them. A night of heightened love between mates, another gift from the goddess for mates to cherish.
It didn’t surprise me that Roman was so inclined for us to relax. I shake the remark from my mind as quick as it comes however, he’d made it abundantly clear that tonight didn’t have to be anything more than what I wanted it too. And granted everything that had been piled on me, I hadn’t even thought about that.
“Luna!” I glance behind me, noticing Astrid approach with Jayce hooked on her arm.
“Hey,” I reply as they make their way into our designated area. It felt a bit much, to be allocated a spot elevated from the festivities but from Cameron and Astrids initial proposal of moving setting out plush chairs that closely mimicked damn thrones, it was a step down.
“Doesn’t it all just look great?” She asks with a heavy sigh, her twinkling eyes absorbing each wave of boisterous energy burst off from the pleased crowds. Not a person was without a wide grin.
“It does,” I comment, sitting down on the soft couch set behind a table of assorted foods. “It’s nice to see everyone come together like this,” I say, watching as a group of young children run by, playing tag or something of the sorts.
“You’ve done a wonderful job, Astrid,” Roman chimes in and she maintains her smile.
“It’s truly nothing. I am also just pleased to see everyone enjoying themselves,” she replies, looking back at the swarming crowd.
“Would you like something to eat?” I ask, pointing to the largely untouched assortment in front of us.
“I would love-” A loud clammer sounds in the near distance and Astrids eyes cloud ever, returning with an exhausted expression. “If you could just excuse me one minute,” she says, detaching herself from Jayce.
I send her a smile and Jayce takes a seat on the couch adjacent to where I sit, digging into the food in front of him. The second Astrid leaves a guard comes near Roman, leaning in his ear and whispering something that I can’t discern. Jayce, however, with the help of supernatural hearing however, snaps his head towards the two and listens intently.
As soon as the man leaves Roman shifts in his seat. “I can go if you’d like, Alpha,” Jayce announces and Roman shakes his head.
“What is it?” I ask, madly concerned.
Roman places a comforting hand on my knee before rising. “Its nothing, just a slight issue. You enjoy your evening, Jayce, I’ll be back before you know it,” he places a fleeting kiss on my temple, one that leaves sparks running through my body.
I look down to conceal the treacherous blush that rises to my cheeks, painting me a rosy red. Roman exits through the main entrance to our section, falling deep into conversation with the guard who came to collect him. I make a mental note to ask him exactly what nothing was.
“Luna,” Jayce announces, before clearing his throat. I glance over to him and notice the way he averts his gaze to the items on the table.
“Yes?” I ask, the apprehension clear in my voice. The last time the two of us were in a room… I try not to heave a heavy sigh at the memory. I had meant to talk to him about it, I planned on approaching him but I just never ended up getting around to it. That and confrontation is among my complete list of least favourite things to do.
“I was out of line the other day,” he says and I start to shake my head. “Truly, Luna, I mean it. I overstepped, it was unprofessional of me to bring my feelings into such a matter at that time. You were just trying to look out for your family and I imagine you’d protect any pack member in that same scenario. I was bringing old stuff into it and it was wrong,” he admits and I honestly appreciate it. It takes a whole damn lot to admit when you stuffed up and whilst Jayce wasn’t as bad as he might feel, it’s still comforting that he has it in him.
“Roman told me…” I start, unsure of how to broach the subject. “He mentioned your past and I should really be more sensitive to the past this entire pack has had with hunters. I know… honestly I don’t really know how to explain my relationship with them but I’m trying to figure it out,” I admit with a huff.
“It’s a process,” I finally explain, putting it simply.
“I know, Roman had a talk with me too and really it was more a reflection of my own issues than yours. If he isn’t holding anything against you for your reluctance towards the bond then neither should I,” he confesses and I give him a soft smile.
“That means a lot,” I say just as Astrid comes bouncing back into our designated area. She beams brightly at her mate, breaking off the sombre mood almost instantly as she beelines for her mates spot on the sofa, sliding onto his lap fitting securely in his arms.
She leans in and gives him a long kiss before pulling back and whispering things into his ear. From the look that passes on his face I am glad I count this as one of the times that human hearing has worked out in my favour.
I take a sip from my glass of wine and silently pray for an intervention. And as luck would have it, the moment I turn my head slightly to the side in order to shield myself from whatever eclipse magic is about to occur in front of me, the ghostly slender priestess appeared in front of me.
I nearly choked on the wine going down my throat as her kohl eyes stared straight into my soul, the sight alarming as hell. The beta’s, however, seemed entirely unfazed to her arrival.
“Luna, I pray that your eclipse brings you good fortune,” she says, the words so formal and proper they sound recited, straight from whatever scripture they study. I’m not exactly sure what her implications of good fortune include and-quite frankly-I don’t think I want to.
“Thank you?” I reply, more of a question than a statement.
“I have brought to you my gifts of the eclipse, personally prayed upon as a show of gratitude to your leadership. The goddess brings the best fortune of all to those who lead her people, and those who assist them of course,” she says, looking at the Beta’s.
I follow her gaze to see the two broken from their session of romance, staring at her intently. I look back to the priestess and she holds out a box in her hands, opening it to reveal six small… I lean in closer to insect what in the world they actually are.
Each is a cylinder and looks spongey but is entirely black, dusted with red flecks over the top. It doesn’t surprise me that the gifts this lady bestows are entirely bizarre. I mean what am I supposed to even do with that? Place it on my mantelpiece?
Jayce reaches out a hand, grabbing two small objects hastily, both of them thanking the priestess. Then, to my complete surprise, they each throw the entire thing in their mouth and eat it. At my expression, they both laugh, swallowing the food.
“It’s cake, Luna,” Astrid says innocently, licking her lips-an action that Jayce catches with a grin.
“Cake?” I ask, my brows meeting in confusion.
Astrid lets out a bubbling laugh and I look back at the gift, still extended by the priestess. “Yes, Luna,” the priestess continues.
“It tasted amazing,” Astrid says to the priestess whose expression doesn’t change at the praise. “You have to try some, Maeve,” she says, slipping from the formality of my title.
“I mean, okay?” I state, picking up a small cake from the box. I bring it up to my lips, smiling at the happiness on Jayce and Astrid’s faces who encourage me to continue with my eyes. Is it a strange gift for a goddess to give? I’d say yes. But I can hardly feign to know anything about wolf culture, let alone the gifts deemed suitable within their religion.
I open my mouth to the cake and as I am about to bite down, my hand is pulled from my mouth, the cake coming down with it. I snap my head towards Roman who grins at the sight, like he see’s nothing but humour in it.
“You don’t want that,” he says, taking the cake and returning it to the box. He looks at the priestess and places a hand over his heart. “Thank you for your gifts,” he says, taking the box and placing it on the table.
She simply nods twice, once to Roman and once to me before turning on her heel and walking-drifting almost-from our section.
“What is that?” I ask, looking to the cake and both Jayce and Astrid begin laughing hysterically, making my brows furrow even further with concern. “Is that acid?” I ask, utterly shocked.
“Something like that,” he mumbles in response before looking at his betas and shaking his head with a sigh.
“Is everything alright?” I ask, remembering the nature of his sudden departure. “You weren’t gone long at all,” I point out and he smiles.
“Told you it was nothing to worry about,” he says, grinning. He takes my hand into his own and maintains his smile. “Besides, I’m not one to leave a pretty lady waiting around when there is so much to do.”
“Is that right?” I tease, rolling my eyes at his antics.
“Would you care to join me for a stroll?” He asks and I look over to the Beta’s who have suddenly decided to resume their… session.
My attention turns back to Roman and he chuckles at my expression. “Let’s go,” I say, rising from my seat and entering the night of the eclipse.
Ahhh it’s been a rough week. Nothing new. Anyway I don’t wanna sound like a brat and ew I am like cringing at myself even writing this but pleaseeee guys like comment and vote <3 I’ve noticed that recently not many people have been commenting or any of that stuff and I know I’ve been pretty bad at keeping up consistency with updates but truly, im trying guys.
Any who, hopefully I can update next week but I do have exams so it might be a long shot. I’d expect to maybe have another update next Sunday :)