“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.”
My gut sank and the colour drained completely from my face. I felt numb, like I wasn’t in control of my mind or body, like everything was fuzzed for a moment like a static intervention. I could see Elijahs lips moving fervently but the words never reached my ears, like the overwhelming emotions just hit me all at once like a baseball bat to the head.
The sound of silence cleared and the room fell silent as I furrowed my brows. “What?” I ask, the question falling from my lips.
Romans hand rests on my shoulder and I turn my head to meet his, the movement making me clench my eyes to ease the blur it causes. “Maeve,” Roman says, pure concern taking over his voice.
I shake my head, regretting it instantly. “I’m fine, I just,” I sigh, hating how this makes me look enough to fight harder for control of my thoughts, “I missed that,” I say, looking back at Elijah and the others, all of them mirroring Roman’s expression.
Elijah clears his throat again, the wary look remaining. “The meeting is scheduled to take place in two weeks, the conditions outlined are extensive so I won’t reiterate those now, but it is to take place in the East in an open clearing of their choice,”
“So we can’t ambush,” Roman grumbles before turning to Christopher and the Gammas, “Have you already assessed the location?”
“We have a team currently working on that right now,” he replies and Roman turns to the man next to him.
“I want you to figure a way around it, there needs to be protection in place no matter what. If you can’t ensure her safety then she’s not going,” he states and I gulp, agreeing with him despite the fact I’d go there even if it were located above a volcano.
“Of course, Alpha,” the man responds. I should know his name by now. I should know all their names but the effort of trying to remember makes a pang of pain slice through my skull so I stop.
“Maybe-” I cut myself off at the sound of my hoarse voice and the rooms attention turns to me within an instant. Roman’s hand finds my shoulder again, another reassuring touch that I shrug off, “I just need a glass of water,” I state and move to get up.
“Maeve,” he starts but I shoot him a look.
“I’m fine,” I respond, a little more firmly but the second I stand my vision fails, just like my hearing did and my balance staggers. Roman is up before I can fall an inch, my hands holding onto him for support tightly.
“Maeve what’s wrong?” He asks, vulnerability coating his words.
“I’m fine, I just had a blood test is all,” I reply, still gripping onto his bicep. I swallow the knot in my throat but my mouth is too dry and when I open my mouth to continue speaking, nothing comes out.
“Luna…” Jayce starts and I look to him just as another flaring burst of pain rips through my brain, making me clutch it tightly.
“I think I just,” I clutch my temples again, “I just need to rest,” I conclude and Roman nods, looking back at the men.
“This meeting is over.” Roman’s words leave no room for debate and I’m thankful, the last thing I need is them all watching over me while I’m like this.
Roman’s eyes don’t leave me as the men all exit and the moment the door closes he reaches for the phone on the desk and dials.
“I need you to meet me in my quarters right away, the Luna is ill,” he says and I hear Dr Matthews voice on the other end of the line.
“I’m fine,” I say groggily, repeating the lie.
“You don’t look very fine, Mae,” he says and I don’t have the energy to respond. Not as he lifts my body into his hold and walks us straight to our room, placing me on the bed and pulling the covers over my body.
“You’re cold Mae,” he says and I blink wearily, my eyelids becoming heavy.
I mumble something that even I can’t understand and the last thing I see is Dr Matthews hovering over me before I fall into a deep sleep.
“We have to stop meeting like this,” Dr Matthews said, a sympathetic smile stretching his face.
I let out a groan as I continued to blink, only just regaining consciousness. “What happened?” I ask and look behind him to see a cart containing medical equipment. “Where’s Roman?”
“Your mate is back at work, looking over some new developments. He said to tell you that he’ll handle things with the others for now while you rest, so don’t worry.” Its hard not too, especially when the last time I was awake my body functions were shutting down and the fate of my family was unfolding-is unfolding.
“I need to get back to work,” I mummer and move to sit up, only to find Dr Matthews hand pushing my body back down, his brows knitted together.
“You still have to rest for a couple of hours until the wolfsbane is cleared from your system. If you want to work then I’m afraid it will have to come to you, though I doubt you’ll be feeling up to it until after you’ve been cleansed,” he says and I tense before staring at him through squinted eyes.
“What do you mean cleansed?” I ask, not bothering to sugar coat the hostility that leaks into my words.
“It seems that the repeated doses prescribed too you were, in fact, doing some serious damage to your body. Short term may have worked but I’m afraid the continued use of this as contraception will do much more harm than good. It is a sign from the goddess that we discovered this when we did because two, three more capsules and it could’ve easily turned fatal,” he explains and I swallow the knot in my throat.
This should come as a relief, my own sign from whatever higher power that my infidelity needs to end, no matter how little it occurs. But it doesn’t. I just feel even worse, the only thing that I could count on when things became that dark, when every horrible part of the world started slowly falling down on me, piece by piece is gone.
“How much longer until I’ll be better?” I ask, pushing the issue of my health to the side, at least until I can speak with my counsellor again. Though she won’t admit it, I know that see, too is disappointed in me becoming so dependent on Roman for brief happiness. Who wouldn’t be? Something like that won’t last one way or another.
“I would suggest sleeping for the next few hours, if you can, and when you wake it’d be best to keep active movement to a minimum. Tomorrow you should be good as new, granted your healing abilities start back up,” he says and I nod.
“I’ve brought you some food for the time being and again, I suggest you eat all of it if you want to get better as soon as you can. A maid should be up this afternoon with more food and some medication for you,” he details and I nod once more, my head feeling heavy with the movement.
“Is there anything else I can get for you before I leave?” He asks and I shake my head, slowly laying back down into the soft covers.
“Well I hope you feel better soon and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance, your mate has added my details to your phone,” he says and I mentally curse Roman for it, the last thing I want is Dr Matthews having a direct way to contact me. Distracting Roman is easy enough when it comes to dodging the guy but having him blow up my phone constantly?
The heavy sigh I realise seems answer enough and before I know it the doctor is exiting the room swiftly and my eyes are closing, the darkness lulling me into another deep sleep.
“Maeve?” I stir in my sheets, the large thrum that once beat in my skull now reduced considerably.
“Maeve.” My eyelids peel open and I blink at the brightness of my room, lifting my eyes to wipe away at my sleep.
A hand pushes at my shoulder and I grunt into the pillow before lifting my heavy body up. “What?” I snap, my eyes widening when I find Avery hovering over my body, a concerned look on her face.
“Good to know you still sleep like an absolute rock,” she mumbles, moving up, “I guess some things never do change.”
I don’t have the energy to explain to her that I have, in fact, changed. That sleeping so soundly isn’t now a trait I carry but a factor only made possible if I am either exhausted or with a certain person next to me.
“Ave, what are you doing here?” I say in between a yawn, pushing my body up to sit against the headrest slowly.
“Chris told me what happened,” she says, a glint of sorrow twinkling in her eyes, “I thought I’d save a maid her task and bring you this myself,”
I look beside her to the new plate of food and capsules that accompanies the first, untouched one.
“Not hungry?” She asks and I look at the food in distaste, the thought of stomaching it right now foreign. Her shoulders sag in a shrug and she picks up a fry, dousing it in sauce before munching on it.
She plops down on the bed beside me and swallows before tapping my leg. “What the hell even happened to you? Wolfie magic shouldn’t let whatever this is happen,” she says, motioning to my body and I sigh.
“I took some… stuff I guess, that I shouldn’t have. It was a mistake,” I reply, skating over the truth like its a thin sheet of ice covering a raging river.
“What kind of stuff?” She says, grabbing another fry again to try and seem casual, even when her tone says otherwise.
“Stuff I shouldn’t have apparently,” I reply in a mumble, moving to take a fry of my own.
Her eyes meet mine and she gives me a knowing look, sadness glinting in her eyes. “You can be honest with me, Mae. I’m not in any position to judge you. After Ellie, when Chris and I started… you know, I ended up similar to this,” she says and I swallow the food in my mouth.
“You had wolfsbane?” I ask and she nods, her eyes flicking downward.
“For a while,” she says, the memory clearly pulling more with it than just pill popping, “I managed to grow my own stash and I kept it hidden for a while. I knew Christopher wanted a bigger family without even having to ask and I knew I didn’t, so rather than open up the argument I just took matters into my own hands.” It’d make sense, someone like Avery figuring out how to get around a challenge with pure intellect. She always was that way, able to think up some solution.
“And he found out?”
A solemn nod. “Yeah. And by then,” she lets out a large huff, “It was already too late,”
I stare at her with worried confusion. “What do you mean?” I press and she smiles tightly, trying and failing to lift the mood.
“I took too much. I was self dosing for a couple of months and I didn’t even think that being fully mated would impact me like it did. Once Chris found out he put an end to it but no one else knew, at that time I think he feared one more addition to my antics might just push the pack leaders to the edge.”
She clasps her hands together. “So we hid it and I stopped medicating. It wasn’t until a while later that I found out I couldn’t have kids anymore and it didn’t take much to figure out why-on my end at least. The doctors tried to pin it on my body not being able to handle another supernatural birth but I knew that wasn’t the case,”
“Ave…” I start and she smiles again, taking a deep breath before standing off the bed.
“Its fine,” another loose shrug, “like I said, I didn’t want kids anyway. The option would have been nice to maintain but at least I got Ellie.”
Silence drifts between us and I can’t find the right words to tell her. I don’t have that pain. I’ve had many choices stripped from me but not that.
“Anyway,” she says, looking back at the food with a sarcastic scold covering her face, “you really should eat up if you want to get out of here this afternoon. Seriously, Mae, you need to look after yourself better.”
I roll my eyes and pick up the plate of food, placing it onto my lap. “Whatever, I think everyone needs to worry about me less if anything,” I reply and she scoffs.
“Try telling Roman that, if he had’ve come instead of me and seen your untouched food you wouldn’t escape his worry for another week,” she says and I let out a dry laugh in response before swallowing a large mouthful of food.
“I still don’t get the obsession with hunger, god forbid a mate go without food. You know it’s genuinely a surprise they all look so good,” I remark and she laughs again at that, her signature snort bubbling out.
“I wouldn’t let him hear that either,” she says and I nod, taking another bite. “The jealousy thing too though, I mean damn. I know us being human makes them insecure as hell but like some of the shit they pull is ridiculous, even the female wolves. I just don’t get why it has to be such a huge part of the bond,”
I raise my brows and nod. “I know right! It’s so weird, it’s not like you can control it either it just happens,” I state and she nods.
“Exactly! When Chris and I were still fighting I always tried to seem so unbothered by the women that flanked him but it was an actual challenge,” she agrees.
I laugh, lifting the burger to my lips again. “So messed up.”
“Has Roman…” she starts before scrunching her nose, “made you food?” I almost choke on the burger in my mouth but manage to swallow it down with some water and chuckle.
“It is so bizarre.”
“Insanely,” she says, overly dramatic as always, “but freaking amazing though,”
I laugh again and give her a pointed nod. I can’t exactly dispute it.
She opens her mouth to say something again, the grin I hadn’t seen for so long finally looking like it belonged but a phone ringing cut her off. Her hand reached for her pocket instantly and she pulled it out, glancing at the screen and then back at me. A fairly recent image of Christopher holding Ellie-Mae appeared, the two smiling widely and staring at the camera.
“One second, I have to take this,” she says, a glint of guilt seeping into her words.
She stand from the bed once more and holds the phone to her ear. “Hello?” There is a long pause and I finish off my burger, replacing the plate of food with the handful of pills that accompany it.
“I thought you were going to look after her tonight… oh, right… no I mean it’s just I was supposed to work late tonight with chemicals, I can’t have her with me to do that… exactly… she’s unavailable.”
I watch as Avery’s brows knit together with tension and her face begins to turn tired with stress. “I know that but I needed to get this done tonight. Can’t you just…” she sighs heavily, “fine. I’ll figure something out,” she says her tone clipped.
“I’m not, I’m just annoyed… okay, love you too, bye.” She turns around to me with her annoyance written on her face and I grimace.
“Trouble in paradise?” My attempt at humour doesn’t lighten the mood. “What is it?” I continue and she picks up a bag I didn’t know she brought.
“Chris has to leave on a security check at top priority and there is no one to look after Ellie-Mae. Which is shit considering I have a serious amount of work I need to do considering I’ve looked after her for the last week,” she mumbles and I feel for her. I watched how hard she studied, saw first hand the unrelated effort she put towards her work as if it were another child of hers.
“There’s no one to look after her?” I question and she nods. “Well… I mean she can always stay with me,” I offer and Avery’s eyes widen.
“No, no, no, I wasn’t trying to pity you into that. You’re sick, dude,” she says and I sit up further.
“I’m fine. I was honestly about to get up and go to the office as soon as you left,” I confess and she gives me a knowing look, a hint of a smile tracing her lips.
“I can’t ask that of you,” she says and I shake my head.
“I insist, she’s your child, Ave, of course you can ask it of me. I’ll just take her to the office and she can draw or watch some movies until I finish up there and when you finish you can just give me a ring and come pick her up,” I say and she doesn’t immediately shoot down the idea, processing it in her mind, her lips pursed in thought.
“Are you sure?” She continues and I nod, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed.
“Positive. I’ve been to work feeling ten times worse than I do now, trust me, I can handle it,” I laugh and she smiles, her lines of stress smoothed out.
She smiles broadly and the sight makes my heart clench. For a split second I see us back where we once were, our lives still intact and our troubles limited to the food options we wanted that night. “Thanks, Mae.”
“E-L-L-I-E, that’s how you spell my name.” I glance down at Ellie-Mae who clenches my hand tightly, her small fingers entwining around mine. “And Mae is mmmmm-ah-e, like you,”
I chuckle and she grins widely, revealing a missing tooth. “That’s right,” I comment and she smiles further, hugging the teddy into her chest.
We move around down the hall towards the main office, the guards moving diligently beside us and in a matter of moments, we make it to the office doors. “This is a big room,” Ellie says, starting up at the foreboding doors, not with fear but admiration.
“It is,” I comment, twisting the handle and pushing the large door open. Roman’s gaze snaps up to the intrusion, the annoyance that masks his face at the interruption wiping away instantly when he sees me.
“Maeve? What are you doing out of bed?” He asks, moving to get up but stopping short when I step in the room, Ellie-Mae in tow. His attention drops straight to her and shock covers his face. She moves to clutch my leg and puts her body behind my own, looking at her Alpha with wide, cautious eyes.
“What..” He starts, nodding in her direction with a pointed look.
“Avery needed someone to look after her and I offered to help,” I explain and he nods slowly.
“Right. But what are you doing up? The doctor told me you’d be resting until tomorrow,” he starts again, concern lacing his words once more.
“I recovered quicker than anticipated and I have work to do,” I answer and he is silent for a moment but ultimately concedes nodding his head to the side before placing his pen down.
“Alright,” he says, just as Ellie-Mae tugs at my jumper, making the both of us look to her.
“What’s up?” I ask and she looks back to Roman.
“Does he have any pencils?” She asks me directly, her voice hushed.
“I’m sure he does,” I reply, looking back to Roman who smiles and reaches into his draw to grab out a handful.
“Here you go,” he says, his aura exuding calm and she looks at him, as though she’s drawn to it, that sense of protection and leadership and smiles. Her hand unclasps from mine and she half-runs over to Roman, her backpack bouncing as she does.
Her frizzy hair is the only thing I can see as she moves around the side of the desk to take the pencils from Roman who swivels around, smiling. “Thank you Alpha,” she says and he chuckles.
“You’re very welcome,” he replies and I watch again as she runs to me and takes her back pack off, squats on the floor and begins pulling paper out, already consumed in her own world.
I laugh silently and walk over to my desk, relaxing into the chair with a heavy sigh. Roman inspects me cautiously. “Are you sure you’re okay Maeve?” He asks yet again.
“The answer isn’t going to change just because you keep asking me, Roman,” I remark and he smiles faintly.
I ignore his smirk and he lifts up a pen on his desk, clicking it and resuming his work once more. I want to discuss the terms of the meeting, see if there are any advancements to build on and start devising a plan but I can’t. Not now whilst Ellie-Mae sits on the floor in front of us.
I open my laptop up and scan through documents, working my way through it all, signing papers electronically, revising notes and re-submitting them, scanning statistics sheets and highlighting areas that need balancing. Working until that silent thrum threatens to beat in my head again.
“Nooo, this is where the the latch comes off and then the sparkles fall out of there,” I glance over to Ellie-Man who is perched on Roman’s lap, pouting and pointing at a certain part of what looks to be like a design brief. I’d expect nothing less from Avery’s daughter.
“Oh, my mistake, I see it now,” Roman says, his large hands supporting her body as she smiles broadly, pride coming off her in waves at her Alpha’s appreciation.
I smile at them and she breaks back off, explaining her design even further. My laptop dings and I look at the notification, an email outlining a press interview. My eyebrows furrow as I read through the content and once I finish I stare at Roman with a bewildered look on my face.
“An interview?” I ask and he breaks away from Ellie-Mae immediately.
“You received the news?” He asks but it’s more a statement than anything, one that holds guilt.
“Its a stupid idea, Roman,” I say and Ellie-Mae looks to me, her hand clasping over her mouth as she looks to Roman with shock.
We both stare at her, awaiting some huge revelation. “Luna said a bad word,” she gasps and Roman laughs heartedly.
“Luna has her own dictionary it seems,” he laughs and she smiles at his happiness, like its contagious to her.
She wiggles in his arms and he lets her down, allowing her to run back around and plonk down on the mat again. I turn back to Roman and raise my brows. “It’s a silly idea,” I reiterate.
“Its the only thing I could think of in the moment. The King is applying pressure for it, he thinks that morale is more important than the war at the moment and going against him right now isn’t the best idea,” he explains and I sigh.
“There is so much that could go wrong in this,” I say, leaning back in my chair.
“Like what?” He asks and I give him a pointed look.
“It getting into the hands of the hunters for a start. Which will likely happen if we air live on a national broadcasting system,” I let out a dry laugh that is completely void of humour, “we may as well make them propaganda.”
He deliberates over my words and nods. “You think they’ll twist it to get more people on their side,” he states and I nod like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
“I know they will. They probably won’t even have to twist it, just put ‘sleeping with the enemy’ in capital letters across the front and it’s an argument enough,” I blurt without thinking and I notice his expression change, making my gut sink deep.
“We don’t have much of a choice in the matter,” he says, skimming over my words like they weren’t said, pretending they weren’t there, his voice hardened and his expression matching. “I’m sure there is a way around it, we don’t have to confess our undying love for one another on television for them to see we are united. A political segment will work just the same, talk about topics that affect humans, convince them that what we are doing is in their best interests. It might not be what the king wants but at the end of the day you are ‘sleeping with the enemy’ and I’m sure when he finds out about that he’ll be too rejoined to care about the rest.”
A day late oopsie. I’m really trying to write for you guys as fast as I can so just bear with me. In the end of the day it takes a long time to write a novel and it is a shit tonne of work so if its not good enough there’s not really much I can do to help you out there.
Til next time
PS: if you have any cool quotes that you think could be featured at the top of a chapter (potentially), comment them here and I’ll shout them out!