we settle for
what we're used to
even if what we're used to
My chest burning, like a thousand fires had been lit in my lungs was the first sign she was gone and it came, again and again, night after night ever since then. A punishment from the goddess, a reminder of how I had failed, how she was still out there, somewhere on her own without me.
Lifting the amber liquid to my lips felt almost like second nature, a curb only to the pain. No amount of alcohol could erase the racing thoughts of my mind. My hand moves automatically as I sit down in that sae spot she'd curl up, a book laying in her lap and her eyes rested so peacefully. She'd tuck her knees underneath her body and it was like nothing in the world could disrupt her happiness.
Nothing but me waking her, pulling her back into this room I'd made her cell, this life I'd made her prison. This bond I'd trapped her in. She warned me so many times but even without her words I knew what I was getting into, you can't cage a person like that and expect them to be tamed.
If she left on her own merit how could I blame her? After everything how could I resent her for it? I want to shove the thought away so bad, the mere idea that it could've been a choice she made so painful to consider its easier to shove any but I can't. It lingers there that perhaps I am what's led to this. To the suffering and pain she now likely endures.
My mate. In pain because of me.
I lift the glass to my lips again, gulping down the rest of it without question. And the worst part about it is that it doesn't matter. It doesn't if she scaled the palace walls with climbing spikes, ran one foot after the other to a place I can't reach her I'll never stop. All day, every day I won't stop until I find her. I can feel the bond searching, feel its pull every so often, leading my mind or my body in one direction or the other.
I won't stop until I find her and I'll never let her out of my sight again.
But there's the chance that it wasn't her, that message... I don't know whether I want to believe she was taken because that means that wherever she is, she'll be harder to reach. The matter of who isn't hard to figure out, there are a list of people I could name that want to hurt me but that makes it all the more worse. My enemies are people who would see my pack burn and fall to the ground-I can only imagine what they'd do to my luna.
My fingers press over the button for the hundredth time and I clench my eyes shut. "Roman." Her voice is so scared, so full of fear and uncertainty it grips my heart into a tight ball.
"I really need you to call me back-or just come to the room I- Somethings happened and I need your help, I don't know what to do. I'm scared. Please, just come I need yo-"
Glass shatters around my hand, the cuts healing themselves as quickly as they come. If she left when they said she did, in the time frame that they expect then it mustn't have been of her own free will. I came not even ten minutes after to find the room empty, the guards having only talked to her moments before.
She can't have changed her mind in minutes. She just can't have.
The knock at the door stops my finger just as it goes to replay the message once more. I ignore it, going deathly still in the hopes that they will get the message and leave me alone. The pure nerve someone has to knock after what happened to the last wolf that interrupted me at night makes anger brew beneath my skin.
But apparently, they don't seem to care as their hands come crashing down on the door once more. It makes me rise from my chair, rage driving my actions as I go to face the wolf that has stopped me from feeling even close to numb.
My hands open the door harshly and I stare at the young wolf warrior with such fury the panic on his face doesn't wipe away. "What?" I growl, my entire expression nothing short of menacing.
The wolf flinches and takes a step back which does nothing to decrease my mood. It's pathetic, weak fumble and pathetic. Wolf warriors like this are the reason my mate is missing, the weak link of the pack that should be punished or expelled or made rouge.
"I-Its the Beta Alpha Superior," he says, covering his stammer with an even tone, trying unsuccessfully to pull himself together in the presence of his leader.
"What of him?" I seethe, my patience running thin, very thin. All my mind can think of is slamming this wolves head into the wall next to him, right where the portrait of his luna should be to remind him who he failed to protect. Remind everyone.
"He has called for you," he says, nearly back to normal at my somewhat simmering anger.
"For what?" I snap, the question so obvious it annoys me having to even utter it and the rage that comes with my annoyance sends the pup back into a blubbering mess.
"He-he, well he," he starts, his mouth loosing the ability to talk.
My hand is at his throat in seconds and he is up against the wall before even my own mind can stop myself. His hands clasp around the tight grip I hold in him and my incensed expression makes him push further against the wall, like he thinks he can somehow become a phantom and escape me.
"My mate, is gone," I growl silently and the calm facade I present my words with seems to scare him more. I push him harder into the wall. "And you come to deliver mumbles and nonsense? I should have your head," I spit, gripping him tighter and I know that I'm being irrational. I know what I am saying is ridiculous, wrong-but my fuse has been blown.
"Now what. Do. You. Want?" I growl and I see his face turn a deeper shade of red as he gurgles to try and give me a response just as I am thrown from him-sent smashing into the door of my room, splintering the wood.
My head whips to my assailant so fast I swear it could snap and I snarl at my beta.
"Give me one good reason not to throw you in the cells," I snarl at Jayce who gives me a stern look.
"Your pack," he replies without missing a beat, his voice stern. He helps the wolf up from the floor and shoots him a look that makes him scurry off without a second thought.
"I made clear that no one is to enter my quarters. No one. Not some scrawny pup, not a warrior wolf no one. No one but her and unless you have her, leave."
"So what? You can hurt more innocent guards. It's not their fault Roman," he snaps. I've seen him mad at me before, a rare occurrence but nothing like this. However short my fuse may be, his is also getting close to an explosion. And I suppose it would, he's had to help carry the weight of being an Alpha when my pain knocks me out, whilst Ive been in the military quarters searching day and night.
"Maybe it's yours," I retort. "Or my military leading Beta Elijah. How is he going? What other loop holes in his defence plan has he managed to find? I suppose since his pregnant mate is safe and sound, he doesn't care," I spit, jealousy coming off my body in waves.
"Of course he cares," Jayce responds. "We all care. She's our luna too, we want her back just as much as you do. If you can feel the connection of the bond then we know she's still alive, our people are working as hard as they can to figure out how to bring her back." Just hearing him speak of her made my insides twist in discomfort. The mere action of her being mentioned aloud sent my emotions into overdrive.
"Why are you here?" I grit out, wanting this conversation to be over.
"Because your pack needs you. The king has called for your presence in the military base and you'd be wise to not refuse him, he's got his own dramas with his mate and I have a newborn pup. We are all struggling and the threats of war from Nicholas don't look like threats anymore," he explains and I glance back towards the door to my room, to the sweet liquor that awaits me and the sanctuary of silence it offers before returning my attention to Jayce.
"Fine." I take a step forward but he outreaches his hand, stopping me.
"Go take a shower and change first. As heartbroken as you might be we still have a reputation to uphold, this pack needs their Alpha to be strong, so show them that you can be."He doesn't give me a chance to respond, turning and walking down the hall with power in his stride and I let him go.
It takes me less than twenty minutes to be showered and entering the packs military offices looking like an entirely new person, the facade Jayce ordered me to wear on and unwavering.
The buzz that thrummed in the room, the incessant chatter and frantic movements all came to a halt the moment I stepped through the doors, everyone feeling the chill that I brought with me and going deathly still for a moment. They don't hesitate to resume their affairs however, going about their tasks with more caution than before, everyone anxious that I'll loose my shit at any given moment.
I don't pay them more attention than necessary and make a beeline for the main office where the King and my betas await. The guards stationed outside the door pay me no mind as I enter but once I do I stop dead in my tracks, the three men turning toward me and noticing my reaction almost instantly.
There, on the large screen behind them is her face, enlarged with different writings and maps loaded around it and it captures my attention wholly. Her eyes, large and scared from a photo taken likely years before I met her stir my wolf inside me, making the urge to shift start to arise but before it can, the picture is pulled from the screen.
I narrow my eyes at the three of them, unbothered that my king is among them.
"Alpha, nice of you to join us," King Tiberius says. He looks like me, not as bad admittedly but still. His face is worn, tired, where there was once a glint of at least something there is only a stony expression. Its enough to tell me that him and his mate are still not over their differences and it brings me a sick sense of satisfaction in a way, but it also angers me. He knows exactly where she is and there isn't a chance in the world he'll ever not know. And our enemies don't know she exists, she is completely safe, completely within his reach.
"I was told you needed me."
"We do. In case you weren't aware we are currently trying to fight a war and find your mate. I'd expect you to be more enthusiastic about any latest advancements on the case but regardless, you need to be informed. Our satellite images have pulled up what appears to be the construction of war camps along the southern border, large camps with a significant amount of artillery. There have also been multiple sightings of naval forces moving closer to our coastal regions. We've dispatched our forces and put the other Superiors on immediate alert but we need to consider moving our ground forces to the south," he says and I nod.
"I'm aware. I was given the debriefing earlier today and I'm halfway through a response plan, surely one of you informed his majesty of this," I respond, looking to my betas.
"They did. And your progress is quite astounding from what I've seen so far, for how you came to power I didn't expect you to have so much skill in warfare. But what I am here to discuss with you, Alpha, is that none of those threats are as large as the one that's not here."
"What do you mean by that?" I snap, picking up his referral.
"Your mate is within enemy territory as we speak with who we presume to be her husband." A snarl that I can't stop rips through my mouth as silences the three of them.
"Her ex-husband," the king corrects, my outburst a reminder that a wolf without his mate isn't exactly pleasant company. "Luna Maeve's allegiance has proven to be testy in the past and we don't know for certain if her leaving was of her own choosing. If she is there to work against us we may be in more trouble than we thought. She's proven to sneak around, to have her nose in places it shouldn't be-if she has any kind of information that could be used against us then that makes getting her back here all the more pressing," he explains and it takes everything in me not to snarl again, at the implication he is making.
"If what you accuse is true, then she'd have told them everything she knows by now, I don't see how dwelling on it is going to make any difference."
The King shoots me a stern look. "I'd hope after all the time you've had that it's not. But even if that's the case, one way or another they will get the information they want from her and I want her back before then."
I let out a loose laugh. "You don't think I want her back?"
"I think you are not trying hard enough." His words are like a bullet to the chest and I furrow my brows, looking at both of my betas, waiting for one of them to stand up and defend me. They know how hard I've been working, how little sleep I get, how every waking moment all that I am is consumed by the thought of her. Of getting her back.
"I can't possibly try any harder."
"I beg to differ." The new voice pulls my attention from the king and to the doorway, where my expression fails completely.
My father, accompanied by two wolves who stand at the door as he walks through, enters and if I clench my jaw any tighter my teeth might just shatter. Amidst of all the chaos, all the planning and plotting for war I hadn't focused much of my attention to him at all. Not enough clearly.
Mother had been permitted visitation rights, for her sake-not his and his name had appeared a couple times recently in the stacks of names that were to be sorted before the next trial regarding the captured hunters. In a way I guessed I purposely shoved his name to the side, ignored him as a problem because with the absence of my mate right now, the thought that he could have played any part in it in absolutely any way... family or not I'd sign the warrant for his death. Execute him myself.
And with him stood in front of me now. It took all I had not to shift and rip his throat out with my teeth.
"What is he doing from his cells?" I command, leaving the floor open for any single one of them to provide an answer.
"He is here to help." My attention-everyone's attention for that matter turns to Elijah.
"You brought him here?" I seethe, not even glancing at my father in acknowledgement, he doesn't deserve my attention, my time.
"We all agreed but it was my idea, yes," he confirms, moving forwards slightly, his hand twitching at his side as if anticipating some sort of an attack. My second looks worn, tired from the stresses of a pregnant mate-the overbearing need to protect her and his pack simultaneously whilst living with the guilt of his actions showing.
"Because, son. This pack cannot survive with an Alpha that drinks himself to death and lives moping over his vacant mate. Just as this pack cannot survive without its Luna."
In a flash, my hands were gripped around the scruff of my fathers shirt, holding tightly as I held him against the wall as I had done to the guard just moments earlier. "Don't speak of her. Do you understand me? You have no right after what you've done, no right."
The room stilled, everyone keenly aware of just how dangerous I am right now. How unchecked. Even the king might have a difficult time pulling me away should I decide to end the pathetic life of the man in front of me.
But my father didn't let an ounce of fear slip into his expression. The calm that consumed him was enough to remind me that he'd been an Alpha Superior once, that there were days when people would fear him as he walked in the room-probably still did.
I was among them once, the groups that'd flinch away from his hard stare until he beat it out of me. Took whatever fear I held as a child and turned me into someone who couldn't fear a thing. But he failed. He failed miserably because all that I feel now is fear, it cripples me, consumes me and drives every action I make.
"You think she decided to run away because of what I've done?" He muses and my knuckles turn white.
"I can't see why having her mates father wanting to kill her would compel her to stay," I spit, completely and utterly seething.
"If she was upset at anything I did, she'd have run away a long time ago. Which, may I remind you, she did try to do-probably multiple times other than the ball held for your mating ceremony. If she left, it wasn't because of me." It was because of you. Were the words he didn't have to speak, his eyes held the words all the same.
I look him dead in the eyes, not even the slightest hint of emotion, nothing showing towards the man that brought me into this world. "I should've killed you by now."
His eyes darkened and I could've sworn a glimmer of hurt lay there. "What you wish to do with my life is your choice. But you are my son, my heir, the very future of this pack-a future that will not continue if your mate stays where she is. I've already lost a child to the hunters and I will not loose another." He spoke with such conviction, pure and utter devotion in his words. It startled me for a split second, the idea that he could possibly be making his actions out of love for me-such an odd concept it was hard to believe.
"And how do you plan on changing that? You couldn't save Diana and thanks to you mother is even more of a shell than she once was, your son despises you. I can't think of one reason as to why I should listen to your advice on how to be a mate." We'd never talked like this before. At least not in front of a crowd. But this, amidst all the chaos and confusion was apparently the best time for him to bring up our past.
And I meant every single blow I gave him. A mate, everything that a mate should be surrounds the idea of family. Protecting your mate, cherishing her, loving her and being the best father to her children you could possibly be. I'd already failed mine in so many ways, hurt her and wounded our bond in ways that might never be repaired. But at least I'm avidly trying to make things right. After all these years of destruction, of being an excuse of a father-he's deciding to switch things up now.
"Because if you don't take it, chances are you'll end up worse," he says, eyes darkened. "I'm not going to lecture you on how to be a mate, I'm going to help you get her back. What you decide to do after then is your prerogative."
My grip on him went slack. "And how would you know how to do that?" I ask, though the venom in my tone was somewhat removed.
"Because I've had to do the same thing myself." I didn't want him to see my confusion but I couldn't help the expression that came over my face at his words. "I killed your mothers first mate in cold blood, slaughtered him in front of her and marked her then and there."
If he was trying to make me like him anymore he wasn't accomplishing a thing. I know about his past with my mother, I know of every little thing he's put her through and who she is because of it.
"After we mated on the night of our ceremony the reality of that seemed to hit her even more. Guilt, shame, anger, hatred-all things I'm sure you are familiar with and your mother had them all. She wanted him as her mate, always had and I took him from her."
I knew that she'd disliked him in the beginning-I figured as much at least-but she never showed it around us as kids. All I remember of her as a child was the love she held for my father, something I resented more than I liked to admit.
"What does mother have anything to do with this?" I ask, tightening the slack of my arms as annoyance surges through me.
His expression remains stony. "Because she ran from me once too, back when hiding in human lands was easily done, when our military didn't have all this," he says, motioning to the insane amount of technology and power that I have accumulated surrounding us. "We didn't have half of this. If a wolf wanted to disappear from their pack into the world all they had to do was go-even with every Alpha on the continent searching their power only went so far. If she were to be found by police forces, by ignorant humans, they'd have taken her into their protection and she would've easily been able to convince them I was a threat to her."
"And I take it she didn't?" I ask and he shakes his head.
"She went as far as she could get. She spent weeks living out of motel rooms, searching for a place where she'd be alienated from pack life for good and she nearly got away with it-nearly achieved her goal of leaving me for good and killing us both in the process."
"But she didn't." I note, hating how on edge he is making me feel, how somehow, after all these years of me proving myself as an Alpha, proving to him that every cruel thing he said to me was wrong, he still manages to get under my skin.
"Tracking down a hunter base that you haven't found yet could take years. And I take it that searching for her through the bond hasn't been working," he says and my very bones tense at the truth of his words-the righteousness he manages to carry despite being held in a hold that could end his life in mere seconds.
Guilt manages to creep up on me. I can't find her. The bond pulls me towards her, allows her scent to be the most prominent thing to me, draws all of my attention onto her but it isn't a tracking device. Wherever she's gone, she's far enough away, hidden well enough by people who know exactly how to block my senses that even attempting is fruitless.
I preached my abilities to keep her shackled here in fear of retribution. Fear that I'd be able to get her no matter what and now that it's important, now that she's in pain and alone in enemy quarters my threats have become baseless, my words empty. Karma has once again struck, punishing me for my many failings.
"I'm being blocked, somehow whatever once drew me to her is gone." It hurt to admit, especially in front of the others in the room but it was the truth. I couldn't even tell them a generic direction to look first.
"I came close to finding your mother once. I tracked her using the bond and I made it to a small town where her scent was so strong she had to have been there just hours prior."
"And?" I clench my jaw, my patience running extremely thin.
"And then it vanished. She went without a trace and I knew it was because of the hunters. She'd somehow ventured into their territory unaware and to this day I don't know how they did it but they made finding her through the bond utterly impossible."
It all started to click, the dots connecting in my mind. But the sudden realisation didn't bring me any comfort, not when it meant that finding her just became a whole lot harder. But if my mother is here today... if my father is alive to tell the tale and has come here with what he feels enough power in knowledge to taunt me...
"How did you get her out?" I command urgently. I push him harder into the wall when an answer doesn't immediately slip from his mouth. "Tell me!"
"If you put me down I might just."
I hesitated for a moment, a part of me intent on not letting him win even the smallest of victories. But he didn't have to ask twice, Maeve's life is more important than my pride. Mae is more important than anything.
He straightened out the rumples in his shirt and met my gaze once more. "I got her out because of you," he says and I furrow my brows, irritation masking my face at his games. "There is a way to find your mate through the bond, a difficult, sacred way that many cannot do. The only condition is of course, that they have to be with child."
The still room went taut.
It was like he'd stabbed my in the gut and twisted the blade. I felt any slight ounce of hope that I once had slip through my fingers, carried off and scattered in the wind. I knew they saw it too, from the way that my betas looked at me, my father-hell even the king. I knew they saw that look-the complete and utter terror, anguish at the truth I now faced.
There isn't a chance she's pregnant. We made sure of it, every time we mated she took her contraceptive without fail. She was adamant against it and because of it, so was I. We weren't ready for a child and as much as it kills me that if she'd been willing her chances at being found would be higher, I wouldn't change it-wouldn't strip her of that choice like I'd done with so many other choices meant for her to make.
Terror that quickly transformed back into an angered frustration. Everyone was waiting on my word, on what I'd say to my father but instead I turned to the guards still lining the doors.
"Take him back to his cells. Now."
The Alpha command makes them move their feet even if they wouldn't have otherwise.
"Not another word from you. Your help is worthless and your presence here any longer is a waste of time," I snap, watching as the guards close in on him.
"Alpha wait," Elijah blurts and I turn to him, the orchestrator in this entire ordeal with eyes clouded in disdain.
"I have no more time for your childish games. Your majesty, I will have any information you require given to you tomorrow," I say, adding in the respect required to my superior as he stands a calculating look on his face, his expression hinting that he has something to say-something that can wait until tomorrow for all I care.
I turn to the door, intent on exiting before my father so I don't have to watch as they take him from the room. I don't want to lay my eyes on him for another second. But as my attention snaps to the exit I find it blocked.
The King is the first person I look too and from the shock that lines his face I can tell he wasn't aware of this visit. I want to brush past her, move quickly and storm from the room to the only place I can exist without their presence but it is my queen in front of me. My instincts roar at me to ignore my desires-and I do, halting in my step.
"Lynn," the harsh cold edge of the Kings usual voice is soft, nearly a whisper and I notice the way she flinches at the effect it has on her. He steps forward, towards her. "What brings you here? Is everything okay? Your family are they-"
He stops himself just as her eyes connect to his, turning electric with warning as he broaches what seems to be a sensitive topic. I don't intervene though, pack law says that I can, that technically it is within my jurisdiction to remove the king from the room but I don't- I haven't even put thought to their situation since everything fell apart.
"Thank you for joining us," It is Elijah once more that intervenes, steeping forward as Lynns attention locks onto him, an action that sets the kings jaw tight.
"Why have you brought my mate here?" He seethes, and though his question had no affect on Lynn, I could see the toll it took on my beta... having his King speak to him with such a tone.
"Because I want to help get her back," Lynn blurts, cutting her mate short. "She's gone... there's a good chance I am partly to blame for her leaving and I want to set things right-for you Alpha as well as her."
"There is nothing that can be done, I appreciate your willingness to help but this isn't your burden to carry. You have no blame," I reply, shaking my head as if to clear her notions.
"Your fathers told you of the way to find your mate, right?" She asks, sceptical.
My face remains solemn. "I hate to inform you, but we've already been through our options, there isn't a chance she's pregnant. The best we can do now is continue working through our special forces. You shouldn't stress over this-I'm sure you have enough on your plate." Her gaze moves again to the king before pulling back onto me quickly.
"But what if there is a chance?" She blurts and I notice the king tense, a certain realisation crossing his face.
Her outburst stuns me but I shake my head again. "I can assure you there is not-"
"Lynn," the king says lowly, a warning and it makes me pull my attention to her more, confusion masking my features.
"Before she left she spoke with me, we had an argument more like," she admits and it makes my gut tighten. I hadn't known that they'd fought, so soon too when she vanished at that.
"Lynn as your king-"
Before the command could come out, before he could make her stop doing whatever it was she was going to she took an abrupt step into the room.
"The contraceptives were fake. They've been fake the entire time so unless the two of you were celibate-theres a chance."
Hey everyone! I planned to have this out a little sooner but, welp, that clearly didn't happen. Regardless, it is here and different and I really hope you guys enjoyed the change of perspective! I never truly planned on changing it up but so many of you wanted one and it seemed fitting so voila!
It was a bit of a challenge getting more into the mind and character of Roman but I really did enjoy it and I hope you all did too! Please show your thoughts in the comments section, I'd love to read them all!!
Til next time,