“In a selfish world, the selfish succeed”
-Barbie in a Christmas Carol (doesn’t fit the chapter at all, but it was deserving of some love”
My scream is muffled into his mouth and at first I think he must see it as a moan, as a sign of my pent up longing to him, my husband, after months apart. Months with only a conversation and no moment of intimacy.
But he soon realises, as my head thrashes to the side fighting against his advances, that his touch is not welcomed in the slightest, he retracts with a jerk-pulling himself from my body with shock encasing his face. I gasp for air the moment he is gone and clutch at my heart, the pain slowly dissipating as Oliver stands up to the side of the bed, worry covering his features.
“Mae,” he starts, his voice but a whisper but when his fingers reach to touch me I violently retract, pressing myself against the headboard of the bed.
“Oliver?” I ask, once I am sure I can talk without daggers shooting down my throat. I’m almost in a state of complete and utter disbelief even though I know full well who the green eyes I stare into belong to. He lets me stare at him, as though the opportunity for me to come to a conclusion myself is easier for him than a straight answer.
And I do. I stare at him, confusion etched onto my face as the last of the stinging tingles leave my lips until my body begins to tremble. “What am I doing here?” I ask, my lip quivering with the question and it takes everything in me not to break down into tears. I want to feel vulnerable around him, I want to be scared and sad and let him cater to my needs because it feels right. Regardless of the fact he isn’t my mate, he is the one person who I would ever go to if I felt overwhelmed. My husband.
When he doesn’t answer right away, my eyes flick over the room again, at the cold concrete walls and the odd arrangement of personal belongings. “Where am I?”
My questions aren’t hard to comprehend, nor are they entirely difficult to answer, but he doesn’t respond all the same. Amplifying the fear that threatens to consume me. “Ollie,” I press, turning my head to the side to try and appeal to his reasoning.
“We are at a base, a secure base,” he says and I can hear the hurt in his voice over what just transpired, what it meant. “And you’re here, Mae because I don’t break my promises.”
I think back to the last time I stared into his emerald green eyes, the way they twinkled underneath the moonlight in the Eclipse pack. He did promise me, regardless of whether or not his help was warranted, he pledged to give it.
“This is a mistake, Ollie. A huge, huge mistake,” I stammer, shaking my head as I contemplate what this means. “I need to go back.”
There is nothing but fear on my face as I shakily stand from the bed, keeping my distance from him. He goes to move closer to me but stops himself, seeing the way I flinch clearly putting him off. “No, Mae. You don’t. You don’t ever have to go back there, you’re safe now. Free.”
Tears begin to well up in my eyes and I shake my head. “No, Ollie you don’t get it. I can’t be here, I’ve got to go back. Take me back.” I try to sound secure, commanding almost, but my words are loose, unravelled by my crippling state. Just looking at him, stood so close to me makes my throat close up, my tears beginning to well up with unshed tears. I’ve shoved every thought of him to the back of my mind, tried relentlessly to forget him so that missing him wouldn’t hurt as much. But you don’t realise how much you miss someone, how hurt it’s made you until you see them again. Until you come face to face with it.
“You can Mae, whatever lies they’ve told you-they don’t matter. Listen to me Mae, you are free from that place. You’re out,” he says, trying to assure me in a calm manner, cautious of my switch flipping instantly.
I think over his words for a moment, my eyes moving as if they are reading something that exists in the air only to my eyes. But if that were true I’d only be reading one word. One name. “Roman,” I whisper. He’d know I’m gone now, vanished without a trace.
Oliver’s eyes go steely, a certain type of anger coming onto his face. His eyes drift to the mark on my neck but he tears his gaze from it, like it hurts to see it. “He’ll never hurt you again, Mae. I promise you if he lays another finger on you I’ll kill him myself.” He must read the obvious look of disbelief on my face because his expression softens and he takes a step closer to me, making me hesitant. “This is it, Mae. It’s over, his claim on you is nothing but dust in the wind. It’s all over and you can live like normal again, we can live again. Soon things are going to be better and all of this will be behind us.”
“Over?” I ask, beginning to wrap my head around it all yet still having so many loose ends, frayed and in need of tying it’s like each individual string of the rope has been sliced. “Oliver… what? This will never be over, don’t you get it? Nothing is different and nothing will ever be normal again. I have to go back, I can’t be here,” I reason, running my hands through my hair.
“Mae, I know you might feel like that now, you’ve been through a lot. They told me it was likely you’d feel convinced on it actually and I can see they were right. You need time, I get it. But eventually you’ll realise he won’t ever get you back, one day you’ll accept the fact that he’ll never see your face again and you’ll truly be free.”
Free. That word just seems to keep on coming up yet when I look around the room, encased completely in thick concrete with one door that I doubt leads to an open field of daisies, I don’t feel free. Not in the slightest.
“Who told you?” I ask, my words quick and intent on finding an answer.
“That doesn’t matter, Mae. What matters now is getting you back to good health-that’s the only thing I care about. I made a vow to you for better or for worse and I plan on keeping that promise too. I know it’ll take time and it’ll be tough and in the end of the day you might not even want me the way I’ll always want you but as long as you realise there is a world for you out there-a way to exist outside of that monster then it’ll all be worth it.”
He thinks that I’m worse. He thinks that my health has deteriorated beyond the physical. He thinks that my resolve shattered and my resignation to the bond solidified that.
And the thing that stuns me, the thing that shocks me to my core and makes me stare at him blankly for a moment, processing his words, is that what he says might have some truth to it. Maybe I have been conditioned in a sense.
Though I’d say almost definitely not as much as he thinks I have. I appreciate the sentiment, truly, but I’m not as easily manipulated as he might believe. I know where I stand with Roman, I always have and as confused as it might become at times, as difficult a situation it might be to explain-I’m consciously making decisions.
“That’s not what it is,” I say, trying to figure out how best to explain. I thought I’d made myself clear before, I thought that if even that didn’t show him how I felt and my justification of it then my refusal to anything after that would.
“They said you’d try to deny it, too,” he counters and I let out a sigh of frustration, trying my best not to let tears slip by.
“Who is they? I demand, trying to rein in my frustration. I really shouldn’t be here, I’ll agree that perhaps I am in need of a slight bit of therapy but not right now. I can’t just uproot everything and join a wellbeing bootcamp, not with a war brewing and least of all within enemy lines.
“People who have dealt with women escaping toxic relationships. Women that have been abused,” he says and his voice cracks at the last part and when he stares at me, his own eyes are shattered. Our gazes are connected by a broken similarity and in the moment, it binds us in a way.
“Oliver,” I start, my voice softer. Seeing him in pain, never mind the fact that it is at pain of my own, still stirs something in me.
“I left you there with him too long. I should’ve grabbed you that night and pulled you in the truck, I should’ve killed him while I had the chance. I’m supposed to be your husband and yet I let another man hurt you, there is no honour in that and I’m sorry, Mae,” he says, his words completely and utterly heartfelt.
“I’m not… he hasn’t hurt me. Not like that, he’s not who you think he is. Everything is so much more complicated than that,” I say and he pertains his look of sympathy for me, sympathy that my mind has been confused by Roman.
“You were a prisoner, Mae. I knew without having to be told you may have developed a sort of Stockholm syndrome, it was likely his purpose to have that happen but you aren’t dependent on him for anything anymore. Whatever it was that he offered you, safety, food, love. You can get all of those things here and more, it will get better,” he says, taking another step closer, slowly removing the space between us.
“And what am I here?” I ask, my gaze flicks towards the door and his head follows me, noting exactly what I mean.
“You aren’t my prisoner, Mae. You’re my wife, I want to help you,” he says and I tear my gaze from him at the word wife. At the weight it carries.
“So I can walk out of here right now? Go wherever I desire without anyone following me?” I ask, raising a brow and at his silence I nod my head before moving towards the door. His hand grabs my covered arm in a matter of seconds and he is stood between me and the door faster than I can say I told you so.
“It’s not safe out there,” he says and that makes me even more wary.
“In a base full of hunters?” I spit and he flinches at the way I talk of his people, like they are the villains.
“Beyond that,” he says, his jaw clenched.
“If I am not allowed to leave outside areas under your discretion then how is this any different from there? How are you any different?” I ask and he gives me a steely glare.
“Don’t compare us. Don’t, Mae. We both know that’s not fair,” he lets out a frustrated sigh, running his hands through his hair. “I’m not keeping you prisoner, its not like that.”
“But you can’t let me leave.”
Our eyes meet again and it takes a lot of strength not to look away. Staring into his emerald green eyes makes me feel like I’m staring into his soul, seeing the honestly of his claims and the devoted love he has for me. And it makes me conscious of the fact that maybe he is also looking into mine.
“I’m not making the same mistake twice. I should have fought harder to make you stay the first time around and I’ll never forgive myself for not,” he says, his voice strained.
“Oliver please, just think about this rationally. I can’t stay here, I have accepted the reality that I live in and that reality is that I have a bond with him, whether I like it or not. I’m already feeling pain from being away, you saw that, helped make it happen. If I stay distanced from him, I die, that is the truth of it and regardless, he can find me. You think that he is going stop looking for me? Ever?” I ask and his silence tells me he already knows the answer, has thought about it over and over and still, doesn’t care. To him the risk isn’t greater than the reward.
“He will search the ends of the earth to find me Ollie. And whatever this place is, whatever operations you are running from here will be compromised. I know you care for me, I get it, but am I really worth ruining everything that you are all fighting for?”
His gaze is firm when he looks me straight in the eyes again, not a hint of doubt. “You are worth everything and so much more,” he says and I shake my head, ignoring the way it makes me feel to have him speak like that to me, so full of pure love.
“Regardless of if you feel that way. I’m sure that many here others won’t, not when they have an Alpha Superior knocking down their door in a rage to get me back. He’ll know I’ve been taken, despite what you might think, he cares about me in his own way, beyond simply needing me for a bond. He won’t let this go,” I say.
“He won’t know,” Oliver replies and shock immediately covers my face.
“He won’t know you were taken. I left a note, a note from you stating that you left on your own will. If he truly cares for you as you say, then he will respect your decision, after everything that he has done to you, he will accept it.”
“But it’s not my decision,” I quip, anger bubbling up inside me. Roman will think that I left, knowing how monumental the consequences of my actions would be to the pack, to him. “If you truly cared for me then you would respect my decision to go back.”
“That’s a point I just don’t think we are going to agree on I’m afraid.”
“This is ludicrous. You get how crazy you sound, don’t you? If you think for once second that he is just going to accept the fact that I’ve left then you are mad, Ollie. And it isn’t because of his own selfish desires like you might believe, he won’t let me kill myself and hurt the entire pack in the process.”
“There is so much more to all this than you can even begin to comprehend, Mae and I’m going to tell you everything soon enough. Then you’ll see,” he says and I furrow my brows.
“What do you mean by that?” I press and he shakes his head.
“Everything that you know, they wanted you to know. They’ve fed you information that works to serve their purpose, Mae and you should know better than to blindly accept it.”
“I found things out for myself,” I defend, wounded slightly that he would think me so incompetent-but I suppose that fact has already been well established in his mind.
He lets out a loose laugh, void of any humour. “If there were things they didn’t want you to find, Mae. You wouldn’t have.”
I think back to how I came to learn things and in my mind, all of what I discovered seemed so inarguably accurate. Facts that couldn’t be disputed but now… now I am questioning things I didn’t ever think I would.
I shake my head again, trying to think straight amidst the chaos of our conversation. “And I am going to be given accurate information by the people in this institution?” I ask, my words an obvious dagger to the cause he believes so passionately in.
“We aren’t like that here.”
“You’re not like that here? Do you even hear yourself?”
“You shouldn’t mock our cause so outwardly, Mae. It is disrespectful, we are trying to free humans. I thought that was a fight you of all people would back but I guess I underestimated just how much of a toll he had on you.” It angers me, I don’t know where exactly the anger comes from but I feel such a blinding need to defend Roman, to quell even the slightest of speech against his character. I don’t like hearing him spoken of like that, not even by Ollie but I’m wiser than to admit that to him because truly, it only amplifies his argument.
“I’ve seen first hand what your cause does and I know what it wishes to do. I won’t stand for it, I will not sit by here and pretend that I am okay with your plans to kill off my friends, my family,” I rebut, and his eyes flick away slightly, both of us knowing I mean Noah without it having to be stated. “I don’t care if you take that as mocking, I’d mock this cause a million times over if it meant getting that across.”
“You don’t have much of a choice,” he says, his words stemming from anger and he realises his mistake the second they pass his lips.
“It seems I never do, doesn’t it?”
“That’s not…” he lets out a frustrated sigh. “The people here want only to help you, Mae. No one in this entire complex wants to see you hurt, they just want you to get better, the same as me. Offending them, purposefully diminishing what we are fighting so hard for-its not right,” he says softer. “The last thing I want for you is to make enemies in a place full of potential friends.”
“That’s kind of difficult to believe, Ollie, when the very man running this place is hell bent on killing me and all wolves. How can you expect me to trust the people who follow someone as sociopathic as him?” I ask, laying out the opportunity for him to confess to me his relation to Arthur before exposing him.
“Our leader has helped me personally to get you into safety. Trust me when I say he cares for my cause,” he says and I raise a brow, waiting for that last little bit of extra information, narrowing my eyes when it doesn’t come.
“So he’s a nepotist too?” I ask and he double takes, looking at me with confusion, somewhat startled by the sudden shift.
“A nepotist.” I repeat, my tone even and collected. “Someone in power who favours their relatives. He is my father in law after all, isn’t he?” I ask and his face falls from shock.
“Ho-, how did you know that?” I ask and I look at him, my face fully serious.
“I guess I’m not all that useless at finding out information on my own.”
“He told you, didn’t he? When you had the meeting?” He asks and at the memory of it, of watching Carters body fall limp, I flinch. “He wasn’t supposed to do that,” he mummers, clearly frustrated.
“Was he supposed to shoot Carter? Nearly kill him?” I ask, rolling on the high of being irrefutably right, of-for once-having the high ground of knowledge.
“Yes, actually, he was,” he responds and it is my turn to wear the expression of shock like it was made purely for me.
“What?” I ask, taking another step back from him and he glares at the action yet makes no move to correct me.
“How do you think we got you here?” He says and my heart momentarily stops. I don’t have a response, no matter how hard I try to find one I simply can’t. “My father wouldn’t kill him.”
“So Carter…” I start, trying somehow to connect the dots but to no avail.
“He faked it, got in and played his part. Well enough it would seem,” he says, nodding towards the look of shock that hasn’t faded away.
“How?” I ask, furrowing my brows.
“By getting in Alani and an entire legion of rebels, and hunters with the ability to emit, into pack grounds. I’m surprised you didn’t suspect anything sooner, we both know Carter is above ratting out the people he loves.”
“But to give away the location of a major base?” I ask, scoffing. “That’s just sheer insanity.” Especially since the only beneficial outcome for them, was me.
Oliver laughs then, shaking his head at my inability to crack the case. It’s condescending but then again so is absolutely everything about this encounter. “That,” he says, raising his brows. “Wasn’t a major base.”
His words stun me though I should’ve seen them coming. But thinking back to the sheer size of it, the amount of weaponry, the people, the operations conducted there… And it was small enough to sacrifice?
Realisation hits me like a ten tonne truck and Oliver looks somewhat satisfied that I’ve managed to figure it out. “You’ve understated your strength on purpose,” I state and he nods.
“Carter has done his job well. Now when we end their tyranny once and for all, they won’t see what we have coming until it is too late. His hold over this land, over you, is over.”
“There is no we,” I spit, visions of what I saw in the deep dark cellars of the base, the experiments conducted using only a crumb of the weaponry they had flash before my mind. “What you plan to do is wrong. The Oliver that I married would never condone something like that, let alone be a part of it. A key part if your father running it all says anything.”
“Your right, he wouldn’t. That Oliver would have taken the high road and tired to make everyone happy and look where that got him. Truth is Mae, you are not the same girl I married, either, people change-our circumstances are to blame for that but my love for you hasn’t changed at all,” he says, softening his tone.
“And I’d hoped yours wouldn’t have either but I was wrong.” He says dejectedly.
“How can I love anything about that?” I ask and he looks like he wants to say something, explode and just blurt it out but he reigns himself in.
He lets out a large huff of air, closing his eyes to gather his thoughts before he moves to the door he entered from and opens it. “We should go,” he says, inclining his head towards the hallway and I stand warily, scrutinising every shift of his muscles.
“What?” I ask. We’ve had an explosive argument, the integral point of which was me laying out my unchangeable desire to escape this place and he wants me to leave the room?
“We should go, you must be hungry by now and there is no point in reducing you if I am just going to let you starve is there?” Is asks and I shake my head.
“I… I suppose not,” I respond, still standoffish to the whole thing.
“Then lets go. Besides, I never did properly introduce you to my family and they have been waiting a long time to meet you.”
I let out a shaky sigh, not really seeing much point in relenting. If he is going to lead me to my death then there is a large chance my death would find me regardless. And as for meeting his family… I gulp as I step into the dimly lit hall.
All I can think is ‘its better late than never’ doesn’t, not even in the slightest, apply to my situation and something tells me. It never will.
I don’t really know what to say in these things anymore. This chapter was tough to write however they all seem to be lately, I really want to have this book completed by the end of the month but, unfortunately, realism might say otherwise. I’ve been trying to write every spare minute I get but it seems this one update a week thing is going to be more the go until I can get ahold of some trying enhancer technology lol
See ya next time