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“Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s nonsense,”
“I’m confused,” I blurt, picking up a croissant casually as my eyes flick over to where the King is seated.
“About what?” Roman asks gruffly, his hair still disheveled from last night. He never came back and from the looks of things he didn’t get any sleep either, which meant that I would likely be dealing with a grumpy wolf.
Roman scooped an enormous amount bacon onto his plate before putting some on mine without even asking. Some small part of his still thought he needed to look after me, feed me and fill me with nourishment from the years of deprivation even if that wasn’t scientifically how it worked.
“That,” I comment, and he looks up, following my gaze before focusing back on his food with a shrug.
“What confuses you?” He asks, uninterested entirely but caving into my curiosity nonetheless. I resist the urge to roll my eyes at his petty antics.
“I thought wolves waited,” I whispered, leaning in closer to him to conceal the words that felt like treason on my tongue.
Roman stilled for a second before shrugging again. “He has been alive for hundreds of years, at some point he likely gave up. It doesn’t hurt him, nothing before the bond is ignited stops a wolf from acting on urge aside from culture. Some people just stick to it more closely than others,” he grumbles and we move from the lines table of food in the packed hall, walking side by side to the main table where the King sat with Katina sprawled over his lap.
“If he’s the King, surely it is imperative that he upholds the culture he enforces,” I comment brashly, shocked by the hypocrisy of the man.
“He doesn’t enforce anything. It is a choice and ninety percent of wolves decide to remain abstinent so they won’t break the heart of their mate when they find them. Plus the added element of jealousy and anger never end well, I would know,” he replies and my heart stammers a beat. So he chose to refrain from sex before meeting me so it wouldn’t hurt my feelings.
I can’t help but feel bad, Not in the way that I feel guilt for betraying him- the notion of partaking in a culture I didn’t know existed is a little absurd and certainly nothing that I could help. But more so because had he known, he probably would’ve had a lot more fun in his earlier years.
“It is better for every one to just wait for your destined mate, it is why it’s a part of our culture to begin with. Given his track record… whoever that poor girl is he is going to have a lot of explaining to do.”
I don’t press on the subject any further, not after last night. I can still see it wearing on him, that sense of frustration rippling through his tense muscles and tight jaw. He’s annoyed, pissed off, angry even. I don’t think any amount of running is going to curb his attitude either, not when jealousy and hurt are driving his feelings. But I’ll let him hold onto his bitter resentment for as long as it lasts. If being pissed off is his way of cooping then let him have it, no matter how frustrating it is to me.
We sit down at the table, aside the King and his… I don’t really know what to refer to her as, mistress maybe? Girlfriend? Roman digs straight into his food, shovelling the piles of meat and bread into his mouth with a vengeance, a million thoughts swarming through his steely eyes, probably none of them positive.
“Rough night?” The King asks, directly at me and I snap my head towards him, over Roman who continues eating unfazed. He’s acting like a petulant child right now and as the King’s only living heir, I suppose he can get away with playing the part.
“Excuse me?” I reply, becoming even more confused as he raises a suggestive brow.
“I don’t mean to sound rude, but the two of you look like you’ve been through hell,” he continues and Roman stops eating for a moment, as if he is about to swoop in and save me from the conversation but instead, he just keeps on eating.
“We didn’t sleep til late,” I answer, putting some truth into the response. I regret my words instantly, though, when that suggestive look become even more blatant.
“Well I will admit that it is quite the relief the two of you have finally completed the bond, soon enough you’ll have an heir I’m sure which will take a lot of stress off my shoulders,” the King comments idly, like sex and puppy making is regular breakfast talk for him. It takes everything I have to hide the grimace that threatens to develop on my face.
“We were working, it wasn’t like that,” I say, trying to pull away from the subject. The last thing I need is more pressure from the King to have a child.
“Sure, he says, his cocky grin remaining. The certainty in his tone makes goosebumps rise over my skin and when our eyes connect it is like he is replying a message to me. I know. One that says despite if we did it last night or not he still would’ve known. And it is frightening in a way, how he can accumulate such knowledge, the power he has to do so.
He isn’t just putting forth his pressure on us having an heir in his comment, he is reminding us that nothing slips past him.
“I heard that your Beta female had a pup recently, that is great news for the pack,” Katina comments, smiling mindlessly.
“She did,” I comment, returning the smile.
“I’ll have to go and visit her while I’m here, I love seeing the little ones, they are so full of love and joy,” she sighs, a dejected frown taking over her features. “I won’t ever be able have one, but that doesn’t mean I won’t savour the moments I do get with the moon’s blessings,” she says and I give her a sympathetic look.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I reply. I want to know why she can’t have a child and why it is okay for her to sleep with someone that isn’t her mate but I don’t. These things have a very transparent line that is easy to cross, and difficult to return from.
“When you and the Alpha have a child you must invite me to visit,” she says and there it is, the calculation that swirls beneath her eyes shining through. I would expect nothing less from the king that to have a dagger at his side concealed in a ditzy persona.
The King mumbles something incoherent into her ear and she gives him a smile that hints at what the content of the whisper was, making me visibly shudder. They break off, engrossed in their own world. I think she knows what she looks like to the outside world, a plaything at the King’s disposal to keep him entertained, to sprawl over his lap like a jewelled possession and enflame his look of pure power even more.
I glance at Roman and then to his empty plate. “Are you still hungry?” I ask, making him look at me, his hard expression unfaltering. I don’t give him time to answer before I oil the food that was on my plate onto his, a peace offering of different sorts.
And from the look of it, me giving him my meal, providing for him in that primitive way made him somewhat pleased. Even if it wasn’t my intention to boost his pride.
He scoffs down the extra food in record time, table manners and ettiequte clearly no issue to him. He glances at me when he’s done, noticing my slightly startled stare and coughs. “Sorry,” he mumbles, “running in wolf form takes a lot of energy.”
I nod, hating the awkward silence that develops between us. But I don’t want to argue either, and discussing that topic never leads to anything good so now I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place with a brooding Alpha to keep me company. How pleasant.
It’s strange to think that there was I time where I’d prefer this. When I would be rejoiced over his silent treatment because it meant not having to talk to him, something that felt like a literal chore. But now the silence was unending, it irritated me and it was an effective measure in him expressing his disdain. And it wasn’t exactly warranted either, I shouldn’t be punished for something that I can’t help.
I’m annoyed that he’s annoyed but I don’t want to tell him I’m annoyed because then he will get even more annoyed.
I subconsciously fold my arms across my chest lazily heave out a heavy sigh. A deep chuckle sounds from behind me.
“Well now you’re both grumpy,” the King comments and Roman and I both look at him together, his grin widening, “Maybe I was wrong about last night,” he says and Katina laughs. I smooth out the frown I didn’t know was on my face and Roman does the same before looking at me, his eyes a little softer.
“I know what mould make them happy!” Katina announces, a large smile on her face. The King looks up to her, mischief swirling in his eyes as his hands roam her bare legs.
“And what’s that gorgeous?” The king asks and I grind my teeth, clutching onto my fork, desperate to hold it up and yield it as a weapon. God, just don’t say it.
I glance at Katina, pleading with my eyes only to meet a similar mischief. Don’t do it, just please for the love of all that’s- “A baby!” She exclaims with a giggle and the King chuckles dog with her, pulling her body closer to his.
“I like the way you think,” he says, before nuzzling his face into her neck.
Roman looks at me and I send him a stare that says we are not having breakfast in the main hall ever again, to which he nods.
“What do you think of Tiberius as a name? I think it would suit their future child perfectly,” the King comments loudly to Katina, purposely so we can hear.
“I love it,” she says and they nuzzle together even more.
I don’t honestly think this morning could get any worse.
It could. It could get worse and it did, by a landslide.
A heavy sigh passed my lips and I ran my hand through my hair, taking out the hair tie that bound it together so it fell over my shoulders. It still wasn’t enough to ease the tension inside my head, the thump of my brain not ceasing entirely.
I wanted to cry, tears threatened to spill down my cheeks. Threatened but didn’t win. It was just so frustrating. So frustrating that I wanted to smash something. Anything.
“There is nothing we can do about it, Alpha. You know me, hell I get what’s at stake here, we all do, everyone has lost someone to them,” Elijah sighs, remorse overriding his features. “But it just isn’t an option, they thought this through.”
“There has to be some other way,” I say, my voice coming out hoarser then I intended, raspy from the emotion list in my throat.
“You’ve assessed all the possible points? How about aircraft, is there a way to position the airforce on standby at least?” Roman asked, his words hardened by the severity of it all. Beta Jayce, sporting the same expression as Elijah, shook his head grimly. I bit the inside of my cheek to suppress a sob.
“I want copies of all the failed plans on my desk, as well as the drafts. Have all teams revise them again and again, I don’t care if none of them sleep, I want a solution before the meeting,” Roman says, pure command lacing his tone.
“I can have them look into it again, of course, but what we need you both to understand is that there may not be a way around this. And if that is the case, a serious re-evaluation of what’s at stake needs to be had,” Elijah comments and my heart tightens. A re-evaluation. He means we need to consider whether or not to go ahead with the whole thing, to decide if Carter’s life is worth the risk.
“We have too,” I announce, shocked at the proposal, “I am going to that meeting, no matter what.”
“You need to accept that what you want might not necessarily be on the table. There is no way we can send in the Luna of our pack, undefended and completely vulnerable for attack. You have to agree with me here Alpha,” Jayce reasons and Roman doesn’t respond, his silence basically a yes.
I lean forward in my chair, indignant at the refute of my goal. “They want to talk, they said that in their terms,” I counter and Jayce shakes his head, too frustrated to reply.
Elijah holds his hand in the air as if it will somehow calm the atmosphere in the room. “Those terms were designed to put you in a position where your safety is in danger and theirs isn’t. And on a diplomatic level I feel caving into all of their terms makes us appear weak. Right now it looks like they hold all the damn cards,” he says exhausted entirely.
“You are suggesting we negotiate the terms?” Roman asks and Elijah nods his head.
“And what if everything we have gotten up until now goes? What happens if they just decide to kill him and pull another person up onto the chopping block?” I ask, more and more emotion leaking into my tone.
“That is exactly why we can’t concede. If we show them they have that power then they’ll use it over us any chance they can get. The main point is, they reached out to us. They are the ones who want to talk and they are using extreme measures to make sure it happens which tells me that they are operating with some level of desperation,” Jayce comments and nerves bundle in my stomach, mostly because he is right.
“So we negotiate, we send them a new set of terms, within reason, and await a response from there. Change nothing but the location and choose a setting where they won’t be able to predict an attack. The likelihood of them understanding our motives are extremely high,” Roman suggests and I run my hand though my hair again.
“You all don’t seem to get it. We have already tried negotiating with them and it didn’t work, trying again, after this amount of time is entirely suspicious and they are going to pick up on that,” I counter and Roman pauses, considering my words.
“Maeve is right, we won’t be making any decisions right now based on this, not until we can know for certain that their proposed meeting place is too risky. I want you to look into all branches of our services and see what you can come up with. If we are to negotiate it will be for an inspection prior to the meeting and a clear, outlined way for us to ensure that they won’t try to take her once the meeting is done.
“My mate is our top priority here, they have made it abundantly clear that they want her to fulfil their motives and so we must ensure that doesn’t happen. I understand the severity here, it’s my mate we are talking about, my pack. But this discussion could give us so much information on the hunters, it could out us at a real advantage in the war should it escalate to that point. We need to be ready and this will prepare us, so tell your men to work harder,” Roman says, everything about his solid and sturdy.
“Yes Alpha,” Jayce concedes first, Elijah nodding his head soon after but with a clenched jaw that clearly expresses his stance.
The two spare me a glance and exit, slamming the door shut and making me jolt in my chair.
Silence fills the room and I don’t have the strength to look Roman in the eyes. “I can’t let him die,” I whisper, letting that pain I withheld flow out in my words.
“I can’t let you die,” Roman replied and I looked at him, at the lines of sadness over his face. “I know this is hard for you to hear but they are right. If there’s even a chance something could go wrong I…” he stops himself and I shake my head.
“There is always a chance something could go wrong. I’m not
“If your life is at risk, you might not have a choice,” he rebuts and I feel a surge of anger ripple through me.
“What are you going to do? Lock me back up in that room?” I spit with venom and his eyes darken. I forget that he was already mad before this meeting began, that his temper is dancing on a thin line.
“That might very well happen without my say, especially once the King finds out,” Roman counters and I think back to our earlier meeting with the King today, the one where he laid out his views on the hunters and how they should be dealt with pretty clearly.
“I thought we decided against telling him,” I point out, a frown quickly forming on my face.
“We did. But that was before the King arrived unannounced. Besides, he might know how to manoeuvre some way around this, the guy has been dealing with hunters for hundreds of years, his experience might be necessary,” he says and I scrunch my nose.
“The King is concerned with what affects him directly, saving Carter will mean nothing to him,” I say and Roman remains passive, giving me all the answers I need to know.
“We will do our absolute best get him back, Mae. It is just a matter of how,” Roman sighs deeply, “I will speak with the King, we can’t avoid this conversation forever.”
Something about the finality in his words makes me shudder. “He is the most unpredictable person I have ever met. The only one thing I can count on him for is pushing me to have a child which is messed up on so many levels,” I respond, my voice increasing in volume the more I give time to the topic. Maybe its a culture thing, maybe I am being insensitive to the fact that discussing sex and puppy making is normal for them but it isn’t for me. I don’t know how much more clear I need to make it.
As if reading my thoughts, Roman’s eyes soften. “I’m sorry, I know it puts you in an uncomfortable position and were it anyone else I would go too lengths to make it known but he is the King and what he is putting forth isn’t strange to him, in fact he is being much more subtle about it all than I expected,” he says and I narrow my eyes.
“The decision has nothing to do with him, his opinion is so unwanted.”
“He is from a different time, Maeve, in his head it is well within his rights to ensure a bloodline is secured. He won’t force anything, but I can almost guarantee that his pressure won’t cease,” he points out and it does nothing to make me feel any better.
Distaste colours my face and a grimace overcomes my features, “I already feel shit enough for everything without him reminding me every damn day,” I blurt, unthinking. But when that silent rage that has been festering inside Roman for the past day begins to show on his face, I regret my comment instantly.
“I wasn’t aware that is how you felt about it,” he grits out, his fist clenching to help maintain that deathly cool tone.
“How else am I supposed to feel?” I counter, my words, surprisingly, coming out with strength rather than a broken sorrow.
Roman lets out a dry laugh, void of any humour and that anger continues to swirl behind his eyes. “Shit wasn’t exactly what I envisioned,” he says and I stand up from my desk in a flurry of anger, Roman meeting my stance. “What are you going to do now Mae? Tuck tail and run away because you can’t handle the truth? Running isn’t going to solve any of your issues, running from this bond won’t help you either, especially when you discover the world moving on without you, Mae, because they will. Everyone else seems to get it but you just don’t,” he blurts, frustration finally making an appearance in the blurted admission.
“Handle the truth?” I jeer, leaning in closer to him with narrowed eyes. “I’m the one who can’t handle the truth?” I continue, letting out a dry laugh that only seems to anger him even more. If there is one thing Roman dislikes more than rejection, it is having that rubbed in his face. “You are holding onto this version of me that you think is just going to appear and she won’t. And I do feel shit for sleeping with you, Roman. It makes me feel sick and twisted and wrong. I hate the fact that I love it but don’t get that confused with me loving you or with the idea that I don’t resent myself for doing it,” I yell back, the hurt that flashes on his face enveloped by that lidded rage in a second. But I don’t miss it, and it makes my heart constrict.
“I don’t believe you for a second, Mae,” he says, his words cool and collected, unlike my vengeful ones. “You say you hate it because that is what you think you should feel. You think you should feel guilt but you don’t, everything about what we do is right. And you want to know why it feels right?” He asks, taunting me now.
I gulp instead of giving him an answer because I don’t want to lie and get caught out. I don’t feel terrible, I feel shit for the fact that I don’t and I should.
He leans in closer to me. “Because it is right,” he says, his soft words somehow holding a sharp edge.
“No,” I counter, but I don’t have any evidence to back up my claim.
“No?” Roman taints again, “Then why is it every time I fuck you, you scream my name? Why you beg me for more, to go harder, faster? It doesn’t seem so shit when you throw your head back and-”
My hand collides with his cheek faster than I can resister myself, cutting him off in the only way I knew how. Romans face moved from the shock of my action but clicked back into place with an unnatural momentum. I expect him to match my anger, to manhandle me or explode in a fit of rage but still, he keeps it contained and sends me a smirk.
“Exactly,” he says and moves forward again. “I don’t honestly know what it is going to take for you to admit it Mae, to yourself at least,” he comments and I recoil in my skin, rescuing to resign to the fact that there is legitimacy to him claims. I did slap him to cut him off, to stop what I didn’t want to hear from continuing.
My silence fuels his desire to prove me wrong even more. “Maybe we should settle it right here, this desk isn’t a stranger to such activities after all,” he suggests, the cockiness that slips into his attitude nothing but off-putting.
“What is wrong with you?” I ask, taking a step back and that frustration on his face remains.
“I could ask the same thing, Maeve. Truth is, we are just as fucked up as each other,” he says and I shake my head.
“I’m not,” I say, strength behind my words. “I’m not as fucked up as you are. I get that you are pissed off by this all and I am trying my best to understand your position but until you can’t even return the curtesy. You keep saying that you get me, that you understand how I feel but I don’t think you really do because if you did, you wouldn’t have just said all that.”
“If you understood my position in all this you wouldn’t stand in front of me and have the audacity to dismiss what we have, to shove aside our bond like it means nothing to you. I’d say it’s like a slap to the face but I’ve had that too, and I don’t honestly know what’s worse,” he says and the jab hits me hard.
A broken sob comes out of my mouth, mangled and I clasp my hand over my mouth, moving away from him. I don’t know where it comes from, or the tears that follow but they pass down my face like pandora’s box has been ripped open form the hinges. Maybe it is everything, Carters life being threatened, the king putting pressure on me and now this.
Hurt and guilt crosses over his face and he moves closer to me but I retract again, stepping back to avoid his touch. “I don’t need this from you. I don’t want to talk about it,” I say through sobs and regret wishes over his expression, his anger ceasing entirely. “I don’t care if I’m ignorant, I don’t want to talk about it anymore can we just not do this right now,” I plead and from the look he gives me I know I look as desperate as I sound.
“Maeve it wasn’t my intention-” I wipe away my tears and end up just sobbing into my hands.
“I’m not going to be able to save him, and all of this it’s just,” I let out another shaky sob and within an instant Romans large arms are wrapped around me and I mould into his chest, taking the comfort he offers despite it coming from him.
His palm rubs smooth circles over my back and he mumbles soft assurances into my ear, apologies flowing from his lips in the mix too but I don’t focus on it. I just let everything turn over in my mind again and again and try to make sense of it. But it’s like piecing together a puzzle without any pieces. And its killing me.
So in a plot twist event, the chapter is a tad late aha. I’m currently in my math class and just received the test result of... drum roll please... 22% what whattttt. Proud of me? No?
In better news, I am so grateful to everyone who has brought me a coffee, I get all gushy and happy and honestly, makes me just love you guys ten times more.
So this chapter is dedicated to them,
To @RaptorRn for the coffee and breakfast!! and to actuallynotable :), someone (an anononous ghost who I respect, if your reading this thank you sm) and Jenn!
Thank you all so much, your support means heaps,
ps: I get that some of you can’t financially afford to support me in that way but there are plenty of other ways to show your thanks like following my profiles, commenting, reviewing, sharing and of course voting/liking. all are completely free to do and help grow this book enormously <33