To Love

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Chapter 21

“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays in the maze”

-Margaret Atwood

The second we enter our private office I notice my desk, once overflowing with papers, everything that I had worked on-completely clear. Not a trace of my hard work left aside from one single book positioned in the centre with a notepad and pen next to it, positioned directly in front of my chair.

The hairs at the back of my neck stand on end as I rapidly approach it, picking up the book with confusion masking my face. On the cover, engraved in golden letters the title ’How to be a Luna’ stares at me with a taunting glint and I drop the book onto the desk like it burns.

“What is this?” I ask, turning to Roman. I know my eyes glisten with unshed tears of frustration but I don’t let them spill over, not willing to give the king the satisfaction.

Roman maintains his look of thinly veiled rage. “The King has noted that I failed to take his advice and demote you,” Roman says, gritting the words out through his teeth and my stomach sinks.

“So what? He’s taken the liberty of doing it for you?” I ask, failing to mask the hurt that finds its way into my voice.

“I suppose so. He’s mad, I thought that dwelling over your involvement in it all would help him to see some sense but instead of finding clarity he just became more deluded,” Roman says through a snarl and it surprises me to see him speak of his King in such a way.

“So he’s banning me from doing any work?” I clarify, still failing to wrap my head around the monumentally fucked concept. “He can’t take that away from me, that’s so unfair. I’ve worked my ass off on those reforms, I’ve done absolutely everything I can to make things right between humans and wolves despite everything and this is how I’m repaid?”

I know I’m becoming angrier as the thoughts fly from my head and into the office but I can’t help it. I want to be cool and collected, to scheme the way the king does with his calculating eyes but at the same time I don’t. I’m not going to pretend this is alright and I’m certainly not going to turn into the villain whose made it this way in my efforts to make it right.

“This won’t last, Mae, I promise you that. Whatever mind games he is playing with you now will come to an end the moment he becomes bored of punishing you,” Roman assures, complete and utter sincerity in his voice.

“I’m so sick of this,” I mutter, the words barely a whisper on my lips.

He furrows his brows at the broad statement. “Sick of what?”

“Sick of having my entire existence be at the mercy of others. I can barely do anything without someone letting me, and now he wants to control my thoughts too?” I ask, glancing back at the book with a sneer of disgust. “Its pushing it enough that he’s continually on my ass about getting pregnant, a decision that does not involve him one bit- I don’t care if my child is supposed to be the next Jesus, it is my choice. But now he’s dictating my daily activities too?”

I want to scream. The more and more I think about it all the more I just want to explode into a fit of rage.

“He’s punishing you and it’s wrong and you have every right to be upset Mae but believe me it won’t last forever. He’s mad about your involvement with the hunters.”

“Well that’s stupid. My involvement with the hunters is me unknowingly marrying one. I had no idea that Oliver did that for a living, who my father in law was-hell if I had any idea that he was part of such an organisation I would-” I cut myself off, unable to finish my sentence.

I would what? Never have been his wife. The thought alone makes my stomach turn with a kind of guilt, guilt that I could put what we had into a category like that and shove it away-even if it is the truth.

I know my statement affects him, his face gives as much away. “I know you weren’t aware of it, that’s not what I was trying to say. Look, this can’t go on forever, it won’t. I respect my King and I am bound my blood to be loyal to him but as my mate you come first, you always come first. The moment he is off pack grounds you can resume your work as usual and for now, you can operate from this office here,” Roman says, closing the distance between us in three strides.

“But what if he finds out? Won’t we be in trouble?” I ask and he laughs lightly.

“I guess so, but that’s a problem to solve if it arrives. Which it won’t if you operate from here, he isn’t allowed in our quarters without just reason and if he even starts catching on then I’ll just sign whatever documents you want me to-I’ll teach you my signature in fact,” he says with a smile and I return the gesture, my lips still sealed tight however.

“More sneaking around to solve sneaking around?” I ask and he laughs again, lifting his hand to cup my cheek.

“So they cancel each other out, that’s how algebra works right?” He jokes and I my haphazard smile extends somewhat.

He leans down and places a tender kiss on my lips, drawing away just as I think he’s going to deepen it. I frown when I meet his blue eyes once more and he smirks. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, sneaking all of your old office things down here won’t be as simple as it might sound,” he says with a smile.

“It won’t take that long,” I say, exhaling the breath I was holding. “Not if we use the library entrance anyway,” I point out and his smile widens.

“Are you suggesting we might have time to christen the room? It surely would be a great incentive,” he says, winking at the end like his words weren’t already as clear as day.

“Let’s just finish this operation first pal, true spies stick to task,” I say, moving past him and patting him on the back. He is soon to follow me out of the room and we spend the rest of the afternoon shifting important things from the pack office into this one.

I appreciate Roman’s help in it all and his dedication to the cause-he really could’ve taken a completely different stance and a part of me dreaded that he would agree with his King, for loyalty if nothing else. But he proved me wrong.

Still, despite Roman’s shows of support I still couldn’t shake off the reality of my situation. The King just took my role from me, reverted everything that I worked towards in being Roman’s equal and forced me into a position that I have always detested. Just like that. I felt violated in so many ways because of it but at the same time I couldn’t help but feel some element of responsibility for it.

I was warned not to cross him and I took my chances. I guess this is what happens when the risk goes wrong.

Morning came around before I knew it and I awoke to Roman’s arm lazily hugging my bare waist, his face completely soft in sleep. His grip would tighten slightly every so often, and his brows would furrow- disrupting the peace before smoothing out again, whatever nightmare he had passing.

I move my fingers to brush his hair from his face and his expression tightens for a moment before he lets out a grumble and buries his head closer to my chest, his body falling relaxed again instantly. I nudge his shoulder and he grumbles again, his grip on my waist tightening like he can somehow draw power from me to fall back into his deep slumber.

But we need to wake up and besides, it feels good to be the one disturbing his sleep for once. I nudge his shoulder gently but my approach is useless, my pokes like feather light touches against his strength. “We need to get up now,” I say to him quietly and his brows furrow again as he lets out a groan of protest, not moving an inch.

I roll my eyes and lean down, placing a kiss on his lips before pulling away. It only takes him a second to lean up and connect our lips once more, his body moving up so that I’m laying on my back. He smiles and places a line of kisses down my jaw. “Good morning,” he says and I push him back onto his side of the bed.

“There’s no time for that, we’ve gotta get up,” I say, moving out from the bed, grabbing my robe and stretching. “I’m going to have a shower and get ready for today-the King should have made his decision by now,” I say and Roman grumbles as I move around the room.

“You better be ready by the time I come back,” I warn and he lets out another incoherent response as I go into the shower and begin preparing for the day ahead.

-

“Well its a good thing I am well rested,” Roman said as he walked into our office, running a hand down his face.

I stand up from my seat immediately, putting down the pen that was in my hand.

“What happened?” I ask and he sighs.

“The King has decided that we move in tonight. We start preparing in precisely one hour,” he says and my eyes widen at the news.

“An hour?” I ask, not expecting it at all.

“Apparently there has been a window of opportunity and the King believes it will be more beneficial to attack them during the night,” he says, moving towards his desk, his pace fast. He takes out a laptop from his desk and opens it, beginning to type furiously.

“What are you doing?” I ask and he glances towards me.

“There isn’t much time before I’m expected to leave but the King has included in his orders on you that you are not permitted to be in the operations room,” he says and my face scrunches up again.

“Seriously?” I ask and he nods.

“But I’m going to get up the screens onto this for you, whatever they are seeing down there, you’ll see on here. You might miss out on some decisions and I can’t guarantee that the audio will be perfect but its what we’ve got and I have to leave in like five minutes to make it to the troops in time. If I were you I’d take this into our room and lock the door, just in case someone decided to check in on you. And have your phone with you, though you’ll be able to see everything it’ll be less suspicious if I call you once we return so that you have an excuse to come straight down to meet us-and hopefully Alani,” he says handing the laptop over to me.

I don’t have time to even say goodbye as he quickly kisses my lips, saying I love you before leaving the room in a flurry. I glance down at the screen, at the small body cams that begin to come into view-most boxes not operating yet.

By the time all the screens are on and operating, I’m sat underneath the covers on my bed, clad in my pyjamas biting my nails, anxiety flushing through my body. I’d been watching for the last two hours as they prepared and flew through the sky to the base they would be operating from, mainly fixating on Roman’s screen, highlighted at the borders in the centre of the screen.

He was right in saying the audio was bad- I could barely make out a word they were saying. I noticed through Roman’s screen that Tiberius was in fact on the mission, clad in an outfit similar to that of what I’d seen warriors wearing around the pack. I watched as they all got ready together, looking at maps and handing out weapons and then I watched as they moved through the woods surrounding the rebels base.

All of them, in complete sync took out guards monitoring entrances to the base, rendering them asleep using various tactics and then together, bombs of gas were thrown into the entrances. The troops moved in together, the bright lights of the halls making the visuals easier to follow as they walked down barren halls, through cafeterias, past rooms lined with bunks. Each takeover using the same technique and leaving countless people asleep on the floor, the second wave of wolves following in soon after to cuff and capture them.

I monitored Roman’s camera, watching intently as he moved through the base. He had engaged in physical interactions twice now, both of them ending in the men being left unconscious on the floor and him and his troops continuing through. It took a further half an hour of them moving through, their plan taking out the security room early on that Roman came in front of a large set of double doors, pushing through to revel a warehouse of arsenal.

Lines upon lines of guns and boxes labelled with explosives or silver filled the space from top to bottom. It was insane, the sheer amount of things that they had. I watched as Roman and the troops moved forwards, securing the space before he turned away from them, walking off individually through the halls. His hand reached up past his face. “This is Roman reporting to base. We have secured the stronghold and the target is in custody, we are to report to the cafeteria where the prisoners will be sorted. Bring in the transport.”

I know the message was intended to me, the part about Alani at least. And I wish I could contact him and say thank you or ask for specifics or just know more, but I can’t-and that might be for the best. The last thing he needs in an environment like that is for me to hound him with a hundred questions.

When he enters the cafeteria he moves straight towards the Alpha King who is consulting someone and he brings his hand up to his head again. I look at the two main groups that are assembled, most of the people still coming to consciousness after being exposed to the gas. And it stuns me.

It is clear that they are separated into humans and hunters but thats not what shocks me. The sheer size of both groups, which are added too in steady streams by guards. They all sit huddled, fearful for their lives and I wish I was there to assure them that they’d be safe and okay. I wish I could help and make sure that they had all been treated fairly and correctly. “Bring in medic squads now, the east side of the building down the third flight of stairs to the left. We need enough aid to bring over a hundred wounded back, prepare the hospitals.” A voice-not Romans but someone else announces through the screen and I scan over all the screens until one lights up in rows, the drop lights of a large room igniting one by one.

Rows upon rows of beds are positioned in a large area and the cameras move to show walls of objects-weapons. People in lab coats lay on the floor completely knocked out and I look at the figures on the bed, all of them still moving. The audio of one of the soldiers is flicked back on and I have to clasp my hand over my mouth to stop myself from sobbing as the sounds of groans and cries of agony fill the speaker of the laptop.

There are wolves, transformed and chained down and people, strapped to beds with blood gushing from them. As the lights continue to turn on cells come into view, too many to see fully and as the soldiers move past, shock and complete horror on their usually stoic faces, the cries intensify.

It doesn’t take long for one medic to arrive on scene and his face pales when he comes to stand in front of the commander whose body cam is what I’m looking through. His eyes quickly scan over to the beds and he reads the bags names before grabbing a pair of scissors hastily and cutting off the tube, letting the liquid flow onto the ground.

“Its wolfsbane, cut all sources and get those transformed out from their chains-they are likely silver, use gloves,” he yells and people move into action, despite not being medics. The camera becomes shaky as the commander hasty completes his task, moving and cutting tubes whilst helping people too unlock silver chains that reveal blistering burn marks on wolves that fall limp and whimper.

The audio is simply a rush of voices and cries and people shouting all at once until loud banging begins and the camera moves to show the cells being busted open and soldiers moving in to retrieve people out. When the medics arrive, their uniform different to everyone else the relief is almost palpable-even through the screen. The access point of an elevator works to take out soldiers on stretchers one at a time and wolves carry the wounded after putting them under anaesthetic up the ramps to more aid waiting in the halls. It’s chaotic and I glance to Roman’s screen, turning off the audio for the commander to focus on what he is doing.

The King stands in front of him but they both look to the medics rushing in and the medics rushing out, that same frenzied panic overtaking the audio of Roman’s mic. Roman doesn’t say a word and I don’t think he can, not when he is seeing his pack members, his men carted out in those conditions. The King, however, is incensed.

The rebels rounded up into groups begin to shout in fear as armed wolves point their weapons towards them, forcing them to be still and stay showing their hands. I watch in horror as the King turns around, near Roman with rage covering his expression. “Bring me the girl.”

His order makes the chills that ran through my body turn into ice, every muscle in my body stilling completely. Alani is pulled out, restrained by two soldiers who all but drag her towards the King who sneers at her while Roman stays firmly in his place.

“Let this be a lesson. We will not bow down to the demands of hunters or pathetic rebels that think they have a chance against us. You will fall, your cause will fall and everything you are fighting for will become a forgotten cause as will you. We do not, nor will we ever follow the orders of your kind,” the King announces, his voice directed at not just the rebels in the room but the wolves too, the humans and all those at the base that watch as the events unfold.

And he looks to Alani who is shaking her head, her face crumpled and her lip wobbling as she says something I can’t discern. Tears stream down her face and she begins to fight as the King closes the space between them but she can do absolutely nothing as the King reaches his hand out and grabs her throat, then beings to squeeze the life from her.

I watch in complete and utter horror, a sob escaping my lips as she struggles for air. The girl that Carter fell in love with, the girl who helped and tried to get me out of a situation I in no part wanted. And I’m going to watch her die.

The screen begins to move, shaking slightly and I furrow my brows as the camera moves towards the incident with pace. I realise quickly that Roman is running towards them-or more specifically Tiberius. Roman is sprinting towards the King as just as he turns around to meet Roman’s force, he is knocked to the ground, his hold on Alani ceasing and her body laying lip next to the King who gets up immediately, a ferocious growl passing his lips.

The rage that forms behind his eyes is of a different sort now-one that scares me more than anything I’ve seen so far. One that says Roman is about to pay and pay heavily.

The King moves towards Roman as a loud bang sounds through the screen and the King falls, his leg bleeding. He digs into his skin and pulls out a bullet, standing up to face the crowd, looking for the source as more bullets erupt and Romans screen-followed quickly by the others, turn blank.

authors note

Slightly shorter chapter, I know, but im sooooo tired lmao. I’m probably not going to be able to post on Thursday as I have one more exam to study for and finish plus I am moving out! So lots to do and no time for fun :( hope you all understand, updates will just come as they come so be patient <3

Also don’t forget to follow!

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