To Love

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Chapter 28

“If people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore,”

-Michelle Ruiz

My gut doesn’t loosen from the tight coil it is caught in as I walk beside Oliver down the cemented hall. It’s dimly lit, but there is enough light to show the clear passage ahead and I notice as we walk past different doors-all tightly sealed with no writing whatsoever to indicate the contents inside. It’s as good as a labyrinth to me.

“Where are you taking me?” I ask, finally breaking the silence that hangs heavily between us.

We stand a safe distance apart and for some reason, the immense pain I felt before only lingers in a slight thrum, almost like the kiss-despite it hurting more than anything felt before, numbed it. His head inclines towards me slightly but doesn’t turn the whole way, his gaze only flicking to me momentarily.

“I told you, dinner,” he says.

“Where?” I press. The first thing I need to make a priority is finding out how on earth I can map this place out.

“The cafeteria,” he replies and I should be happy he even offered a response, albeit one grumbled out in annoyance. But it doesn’t, bewuase cafeterias mean one certain thing in my eyes. People. A gathered mass of people to be exact and whilst I gather many would be eating, I have no doubt they will be interested to see me. The girl worth their lives, apparently.

I stop dead in my tracks and he does too, anticipating an attempt at fleeing no doubt. But then again I am walking freely, no chains to shackle me, no guards to hunt me down, nothing but him. And that either means he trusts me or he is stronger than I thought.

“What? Maeve,” he asks in tone I recognise all too well. The tone that he gets after an argument, anger still lingering but not fully prevalent.

“Are there going to be people there?” I ask and he gives me a look.

“I did say I was going to introduce you to my family, did I not?” He asks and I hate the attitude his voice holds, the condescending nature of his words but he is the only person I know here. And likely the only person who truly cares about me.

“But the others, wouldn’t there be more people?” I ask and he shows me a slither of sympathy then.

“Like I said, you’ll meet my family. We are bound here by more than just blood and this time of night many have already left but there may be some others there. I wouldn’t worry, you’ll meet them all eventually.”

That does make me worry, more so than he could possibly imagine. The notion of being here long enough to meet them all frightens me more than anything else. To be gone, away from Roman, from everything I have been fighting to protect while I stay with the people who I have been plotting against…

“I don’t want to,” I rebut, shaking my head as I take a step back.

“You need to eat something,’ he challenges and I huff.

“Then just have someone bring it to your room, I can’t stress enough how much I do not want to do this right now,” I reply, his failure to see any else on my side giving me the beginnings of a migraine.

He gives me a solid look. “You’re not the Luna here Mae,” he says and it strikes me for a moment, being put in my place instead of raised to it. He knocked the pedestal I’d become so used to right out from under my feet and reminded me that, in the end of the day, I’m still human. “People won’t wait on you or give into your demands. I have some pull and they’ve been told to avoid overwhelming you but I am not their leader and you are big enough to handle a little confrontation.”

“But not big enough to make my own decisions?” I ask, brushing over the fact that in a sense, he was right-just hypocritical so. “What happened to your tortured little wife who could barely think straight?” I ask and I regret it immediately because at my acknowledgment of still being his wife, any annoyance wipes clean from his face and his pain returns.

He shakes his head and holds his hand out. “Mae, please lets not talk about this now. We will just go to the cafeteria, get food and eat with a small group of people-if anyone else tries anything at all we can leave immediately,” he says, “my father included.”

His added comment does nothing to ease the nerves already forming at having to meet Arthur Hunt once more, not after our first encounter. But I look down at his hand once more and realise that my options are running thin, we can’t stand in this hall for the whole night arguing and despite being knocked out for god knows how long, I’m tired.

In fact, I’m exhausted. This entire thing just makes me want to close my eyes so that I don’t have to deal with it anymore. I don’t want my heart to feel tight with pain every time I think about Roman and I don’t want to feel fear anymore.

For once I just don’t want to be afraid but I’m in the lions den now, and fear is the only emotion that is safe. My eyes meet Olivers once more before I look to his hand and reluctantly take it, noting how his fingers squeeze around mine, his hold not hurtful but secure, sturdy.

“It won’t be as bad as you think,” he says and he takes a step forward, my feet moving to match his.

If only I knew just how wrong he’d be.

-

The cafeteria was larger than the one I’d seen on Roman’s laptop as wolves stormed the base holding Alani. But despite the notable size difference, it was built relatively similar in style. I could almost envision the King holding Alani by her throat before Roman tackled him to the ground when I looked in front of the food buffet. If I glanced to my right I could see the hoards of rebels clutching onto one another, fearful for their lives and ready to meet their maker at any given moment.

But this wasn’t the same place I saw. I had to keep reminding myself of that as we passed through the threshold and my hand gripped tighter onto the gloved fabric of Olivers hand. There was a buzz among the people as they went about their duties, carrying trays to their tables, laughing, chatting. If this was quiet by Oliver’s standards then the place must be overflowing on a usual day.

I thought that we’d gone unnoticed and for a second, I let my anxiety dwindle slightly. It seemed that these people were too infatuated with their food and friends to care about my presence or perhaps they didn’t know who I was- a relief so profound it actually made me feel good amongst the intense feeling of bad that plagued my body.

But the happiness, as it turns out, was as fleeting as any other I’d ever had in my life. Once we’d taken another few steps towards the counter serving food people began to notice. One by one, heads began to turn until tables of people began to turn and all the boxing excitement, the chatter of the hall dwindled down into a deafening silence as people took us in. The fugitive Luna, the human rebel, the traitor to their cause holding hands with their leaders son-a hunter whom she’d married.

The confusion their faces beheld was apparent and I didn’t blame them for it. I barely knew who I was so expecting them to would be wrong. But feeling their stares on me made my stomach twist with discomfort and every muscle in my body was tense with anticipation. I was expecting someone to attack me with a butter knife at any given second, or to scream profanities at me and wish me into the depths of hell.

But that never came, their glances didn’t stop, their whispered mummers didn’t cease, but Oliver’s steely glare seemed to be enough to make them at least try and carry on as normal. “Everyone’s staring,” I whispered to him as though it wasn’t already obvious.

“Just ignore it,” he said as we continued to walk forward and something about his tone told me he’d already experienced a similar greeting. But ignoring it was easier said than done.

I took a deep breath, seeing no way out now and tried to remember how I coped with it back at the palace. But all I remember was taking comfort in the fact that I had an insane amount of large wolf guards to conceal me when I was, in fact, not hiding out in my room. But all I have now is Oliver who seems like even more of an attention magnet than those guards that followed me.

We made our way to the section of the cafeteria containing trays and Oliver finally let my hand go, grabbing a tray and passing it to me before getting one for himself. I noted how he waited for me to go in between the buffet and metal railing put there to control the movement of the crowd first before moving in after me, trapping me effectively.

I could handle the pressure of the room, no matter how uncomfortable it made me feel. But being trapped… I had to take a deep sigh and try to stop myself from shaking.

“Take what you want from here,” Oliver says behind me, moving to ladle himself up what looks to be a stew onto his tray set down on the bench.

He notices my tray, still in my hands and takes it from me, putting the same stew he collected onto mine. “The food here probably won’t taste as good as what you’re used too now,” he says, pushing both our trays down t pile on some rice. “But some of it is alright, I go for stew, veggies and rice, trust me it is the best thing you’ll get.”

I just nod, shutting down his attempt at a conversation as my eyes flick over the food options. It is what I’d expect from a military service, in fact this entire place, down to the uniformed chefs that follow my every move, reminds me of what military life might feel like. Most people are dressed the same, not in all grey like humans usually are but deep dark shades of blue or black.

It makes me feel, in some small way, that Oliver’s life wasn’t too far from what he told me. But I know that in so many ways, it couldn’t be further from it.

“Hey Ren,” Oliver says and I focus on his interactions with the chef who tears her gaze from me to give Oliver a slight smile.

“Just the usual again?” She asks him jokingly, “You might just be the only person in this place who appreciates my stew.”

Oliver gives her a smile. “I hope for their sake that’s not the case,” he jokes back casually but it feels forced and I can’t help but feel that’s because of me.

“And is this that lovey girl you’ve told me all about?” She asks, gesturing to me and I remain quiet, unsure how to feel about it all.

“Yeah, this is her,” he replies, even though I’m sure she already knew who I am. Everyone here would know the face of the luna, the mate of their biggest enemy.

“It’s nice to meet you,” she says to me with a smile and I do my best to return it.

“You too,” I respond quietly, diverting my attention to the food so I don’t have to indulge in another conversation.

“Just both of these, thanks,” Oliver says and I watch as he hands over a handful of small blue tickets which Ray takes from him.

“You two enjoy your food,” she says with a smile and Oliver picks up both of our trays and nudges me forward.

“Follow me,” he says and I’m not stupid enough to make a break for it in a room full of hunters so the fact his hand isn’t around mine doesn’t matter.

He walks through the tables of people and I focus my gaze onto his back so that I don’t have to make eye contact with all the eyes directed at me. I don’t want to be here. It reminds me of having to sit down and eat breakfast with Roman when I was so opposed to the fact but with so many more people, most of whom probably wouldn’t mind seeing me dead.

We approach a table and as soon as I get a clear vie of the occupants I stop dead in my tracks. Oliver places the trays down onto the table at the two vacant spots but I don’t move, my eyes are trained, focused solely on his father who sits across from us.

I can’t help the images of his finger pulling down on the trigger from crossing my mind and the moment his gaze meets mine I flinch. I remember our meeting like it was yesterday and I don’t think I will ever be able to forget it, no matter how hard I try.

I don’t notice Oliver’s hand taking mine until its too late and I look at him with fear, staring to shake my head. “It’ll be fine,” he says and I wonder how he can be so sure of himself. Doesn’t he know who is sitting right in front of him? The evil that he embodies?

“Maeve, how great it is to finally see you again,” Arthur greets, the guise of a smile covering his face. “Tell me, how are you settling in?” he asks casually, putting a forkful of food into his mouth.

I just stare at him, trying to contain the anger that his mere presence makes me feel. All I can think about is him shooting Carter and tricking me through doing it, orchestrating an entire plan to get me where he wants me to be. Which is right here in front of him having dinner apparently.

“She’s doing as good as can be expected,” Oliver answers for me and I glance at him before picking up my fork, moving the contents of the plate around.

I look to Arthur again and I notice the woman to his right, my eyes training on her curly blonde hair and big green emerald eyes, so similar to Oliver’s it can’t be just a coincidence. She’s older, creases beginning to form at the edges of her eyes, a tired look on her face but she is still beautiful.

“You haven’t met my wife, Naomi,” he says and I look at her, the mother of Oliver and I again don’t have the right words to speak.

“It’s lovely to finally meet my daughter in law, Oliver has told me so much about you,” she says with a smile and I stare at her for a moment longer.

“Hi,” I reply dejectedly, putting as much disinterest into my voice as I can. I don’t want to be here, they almost definitely understand that by now.

I except Arthur to take this opportunity to taunt me but instead he turns his attention to another person and breaks off into conversation about a game of sports of all things, leaving me to sit awkwardly at a table of people who won’t stop looking at me.

I give in and take a few bites of the stew in front of me, glancing at the people across the table every so often. I can’t help but look towards the exits each time I get the chance, taking in every factor about them, the guards that stand post, the tables that sit near, the path to get from there to here.

It’d be impossible to get even an inch away from this table without them stopping me, I know that. I doubt an attempt at a diversion would even work with Oliver here. He knows me too well for anything to slip under his radar.

“Maeve,” I snap my attention towards Arthur and he smiles. “I was just speaking to some people today about you, your husband included,” he says and I feel the heat of Olivers stare weighing heavily on me.

“Is that so,” I respond blandly, holding his stare.

“We were discussing some of the activities you could partake in now that you are here and free. There are a few good clubs running with activities, mainly for the younger ones but until you have healed you can join them if you’d like,” he suggests and though he may seem genuine to all the others around the table I pick up the condescending nature of his words.

“You could start up in the hospital ward in your spare time too if you’d like, I talked to them about it and they’d be happy for some extra help,” Oliver says beside me and I glance at him, offering a small smile. I’d work in a hospital here if they offered aid to the wolves they tortured.

“Thanks,” I respond quietly and I can’t help but notice how his eyes stray from mine momentarily and rest on the mark on my neck. I’ve felt him staring at it all night even when he thinks I might be unaware of it.

“Of course you can take as much time as you need,” Arthur continues and I turn my attention to him. “We understand how hard it must have been for you to be trapped to that beast, forced into the life of a mate. There are many families here who have lost those they love to a fate similar to yours and so many are very hopeful about what your return means.”

It probably means a lot more than me being a guinea pig for mated humans, that’s for sure. But still, hearing him speak of Roman that way, disrespecting him like that… it makes that spark of anger light up in me that I can’t control.

“I managed fine there and I’m sure I’ll manage fine here,” I respond, an edge to my tone that is hard to erase. The table quietens down slightly at my response given it is more than two words.

“Its a difficult thing to come out of, being tricked and abused in such a way. But we have people here to help you understand the truth of the wolves and hopefully get you back into good health,” he says and to everyone else, it’s kind. He is putting on the front of mr nice guy but I see straight through the facade.

“I think I can cope just fine on my own,” I reply and I note the looks the people at the table give me, glances of sympathy and remorse.

“We know that you have been through a lot and I would like to now apologise for the part that we played in your trauma during your time at the palace,” he begins and my brows start to furrow. “Of course our actions only held the purpose of getting you out and to safety here and we do our best to minimise collateral damage but in times like these it can be difficult.”

I know he is talking about Lucy. It makes the memory of a bullet slicing through her body resurface, all too fresh to fade away anytime soon.

“Collateral damage is an interesting way to speak about humans lives,” I quip, unable to stop myself.

“I was more referring to the wolf friends of yours that had to die for our cause. As necessary as their elimination is, we do often prefer to keep things more civilised.”

“There will never be anything civilised in genocide,” I retort and the people at the table still.

“There will never be anything civilised about a world run by damn dogs,” he replies and it makes my blood boil.

I don’t have anything to respond to that, or rather I do and I’m just smart enough to keep my thoughts to myself. I need to be smart here, calculating and wise if I am to get out alive. But its easier said than done.

“It was such a shame about that guard though, truly,” Arthur says casually, taking another bite from his food and every bone in my body becomes tense, the grip on my fork tightening so hard I think I might just snap it in half.

“There is never-well there is rarely any joy when it comes to conducting our duties. Slaying the monsters requires the ability to see past their human facade,” he says, a slight chuckle passing his lips.

I’m in a room full of enemies. People I should probably gain the trust of if I am ever to escape. The one thing I need right now is to keep my head screwed on straight but just the thought of Teo makes tears prick in my eyes. It makes the little food I did manage to eat feel lodged in my throat and my heart constrict in pure pain.

“But this one…” he starts up again, shaking his head and I look to Oliver to try and urge him to intervene but his attention is purposely directed elsewhere. On his father to be exact. “It is always more difficult to kill those that are still half pure. He tried to remind us of that too, me and my men, he kept pleading about how he was trying to help you of all people. A sad mistake.”

My tears don’t spill and I turn all my attention onto him, the pure anger in my gaze only making his smile more prevalent. He doesn’t care about the fact that he is under my skin, he is revelling in it. “If it makes you feel any better he did put up a fight but just like the rest, we managed to get him in the end. The request from Alpha Nicholas to serve you his head was slightly dramatic for me but I bet it did surprise you. One of your captors finally being brought to justice must have been such a relief,” he said and it took me a second to clasp my hand around the glass of water that sat next to my plate still full of food and another to launch the contents across the table all over his face.

“Fuck you,” I spit, reaching for something else to throw but Oliver is quick to jump out of his seat with me, grabbing my hands in his.

Arthur wipes the water from his face and the table goes deathly silent as he looks at me, eyes filled with rage. “You forgot to mention her lovely attitude son,” he says to Oliver beside me who doesn’t peep a word back, understanding his place much better than I do apparently.

“You killed him,” I yell, struggling against Olivers hold.

“I did,” Arthur replies not missing a beat, standing to meet my stance across the table. Everyone who was pretending to look at us in the cafeteria doesn’t bother to conceal their interest now. All eyes are on us. On me.

My body shakes with anger as I think about Teo, about his mother and his family and everyone who he touched in his life now dealing with that hole left with his death all because of the person in front of me. “He was on my side, he was helping the rebels, helping you,” I spit back, still resisting against Oliver. “And you killed him.” My voice cracks this time but I don’t let the tears roll down my cheeks. I won’t give him that satisfaction.

“And I would do it again. You might fail to see it now Maeve, but eventually you will come to understand that the death of any wolf is a good thing. They all do,” he says, looking at his son in the last part but I don’t want to think about Ollie now.

“I forgot I was speaking to the man that would have his own granddaughter killed, that would murder his own son if it meant eliminating an enemy. I won’t ever stand with someone like you. I’d side with satan before I pledged allegiance to you and if you think for a second I won’t so everything in my power to stop you from killing of an entire race of people, my people then you better think again,” I say, the force of the truth powering my words as I hold my eye contact with him, nothing but vengeance on my face.

I see a flash of concern cover his own for a split moment and my eyes follow his as they briefly flick towards the woman sat beside him quietly. To the mother of his children whose eyes widen at my words, too many emotions to count crossing over her features.

I expected her to know of her husbands plans, of the ambiguity of her own sons life. But one look at her face made me reconsider my assumptions. But she didn’t voice a single question, she looked just once at the stare Arthur gave her and it was enough to make her pull her attention entirely to the plate of food in front of her, trying to reign in her reaction as best as she could.

I know the look she wears all to well, I can see it in the way her shoulder slump slightly and her hands tighten together in fear. A woman put in her place by someone she doesn’t want to challenge.

“It’s a good thing you don’t have any power here then isn’t it,” he quips, turning back to me and it makes me want to explode at him, warn him that whilst I might not look like much, there is a fighter in here somewhere and she won’t give up. But let him underestimate me, let him see how wrong he is when it is too late.

“One day, you will thank me for ending that mutts life,” he says and I fight against Oliver’s hold even harder. “Just as you will come to thank me when I bring you your mates head served on a platter too,” he says and something breaks loose inside me, giving me the strength to push out of Olivers arms and grab a butter knife in my hands.

“I’d rather give him yours,” I retort and I can tell he is doing his best to contain his anger.

He lets out a dry chuckle. “Are you planning to do it with that?” He asks and I would, I would hack away at his head with a spoon if it meant ending his life.

“Do you want to find out?” I reply, my tone entirely even and he looks to his side to the table next to us of men playing full attention to me holding a knife towards their leader.

“Take her to the cells,” he says and I feel Olivers hand tighten around my arm, applying pressure so I have no choice but to drop the knife with a wince.

“Dad, no,” Oliver says, pure worry in his voice but his fathers gaze doesn’t change one bit.

“I said take her to the cells. You’ll find out quickly what happens to those that show disrespect, Luna,” he says and the men that were eating their meals come and push Oliver out of the way, taking ahold of my arms.

I don’t fight them though, don’t put up an ounce of protest. “You made a mistake bringing me here,” I tell Arthur, nothing but honesty in my words.

He doesn’t respond and I move my feet to match the guards as they take me towards wherever the cells are in this hell hole.

Authors note

And in this sleep deprived edition of khalesi living her life, your girl has picked up a second job so it looks like I start work six thirty and finish at nine in the evening. Whilst the boss bitch in me appreciates the money moves, and is really just trying to make it in this world, the writer in me has been put in the shadows.

Basically, my time is running even more thin and as I write this, in the car while it is dark outside knowing that this chapter will most definitely have a lot of typos, I’m pretty knackered. That being said, I am really trying to squeeze in writing wherever I can and every comment, vote, follow urges me to get back on the grind.

And I have been reading all your comments, I love them and I wish I could respond but to put the cherry on the cake, my internet is practically non-existent and I have to take a lil trip to town in order to post these bad boys.

I can’t wait to share the rest of the story with you all and thanks for sticking with me this far <3

Til next time,

Khalesi

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