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“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
I tried not to focus on the boisterous laughter that erupted in the room, echoing off the walls with a careless grace. My attention remained indifferent, even with Roman’s gaze drilling into me, assessing my every move. It didn’t matter, none of this mattered.
If Roman could tell my mind was reevaluating the limited amount of information we’d been given earlier today, he didn’t let on. Our conversations had been limited, neither of us making a move to initiate anything further than cordial manners aside from when we were in public. It was almost like he preferred us being in the company of others, it was the only time in the last few days that he could pull me close to his body and comment endearing words to me without being met with a cool silence.
Was it fair to treat him this way? Probably not, but considering everything we began speaking lately we ended in a debate over my womb, I figured not talking at all was the best option. The Kings unwanted prescience didn’t help either, I knew that and a part of me felt bad for making Roman’s stress increase even more.
I was supposed to be comforting him when he was already on edge, not pushing him closer to his breaking point. Because he was going there, and I could understand why. I’d talked it out with my therapist, analysed it all, tried to make sense. Telling him that the sex was shit probably wasn’t clever when he was already being confined, over-ruled by his Beta’s, reminded via national news of my tainted virtue and under scrutiny of the King. It was unnatural to him, to have the most integral parts of him as an Alpha belittled or dismissed.
It wouldn’t surprise me if he did something irrational but I was hoping he didn’t. He was strong enough to take a blow to his ego and carry on, especially since his hardships were temporary-well some parts at least. Others…
I shouldn’t have hit him, not that it hurt him physically. I’d already apologised, met by a gruff grunt and a reciprocation of sorry laced with guilt. He had broken our unspoken rule, charted into dangerous territory and come out bearing a mark of warning. I didn’t like the person I was when I was pushed to my limits either, not many people enjoy that aspect of themselves. Yet, more often than not, everyone
I raised a glass of red wine to my lips, letting the sweet liquid travel down my throat with a slight tingle. Just one glass, to get me through this little gathering Cameron and Astrid had pushed so hard to hold. The two of them crooned over Hazel in her cot whilst their mates engaged in a laughing conversation aside them. Just the six of us all crowded together in Astrids living room. It was a large living area, a much smaller version of what Roman and I had but still large nonetheless. Yet it still felt small, cramped.
I put it on the tension in the room, at the fact Roman didn’t say a word to his two friends that had overpowered him in front of those gates weeks ago. I still remember the betrayal he held on his face, the way every muscle in his body tightened as they told him he wasn’t permitted to leave. I felt then, an unofficial pact, an agreement between friends snap out of place and it hasn’t been the same since.
Looking at Roman’s unimpressed gaze, settled over the cot, I took another sip of my wine. Part of me wished to just snatch up the bottle and chug but I had things to do outside of this, whenever it ended.
Cameron moved gracefully, laughing as her mate caught her hand and pulled her flush to his body, a wide grin on his face. His eyes twinkled at her and she smiled deeply, laughing again. “Cameron and I had something we wanted to share with you all. It’s why we thought to make tonight happen,” Elijah announces and Roman simple moves his eyes lazily to focus on them, completely unfazed.
The music in the room was just as loud but seemed quieter, as if it were stuck on a soft bridge before hitting the crescendo. I moved forward, awaiting the announcement. Even though I was no better than Roman in terms of interest-my mind to busy occupied with greater concerns-curiosity still coursed through me with a faint hum. I offered a tight smile, trying to boost the energy that emitted from our depressed section of the room.
Elijahs large palm moved from his mates hip to rest over her stomach and the two beamed. “We’re expecting,” Cameron giggled, pure joy radiating off the both of them.
An excited squeal erupted from Astrid, her hand clamping over her mouth before she began to sob. She moved over to her best friend and Elijah let her go as the two girls embraced tightly, Astrid still crying tears of joy.
“Oh my goddess, Cam. You’ve wanted this for so long, I can’t believe its here, our babies,” she let out another choked sob and pulled her closer again. “I’m so happy for you,” she cried again as Jayce embraces Elijah, a smile larger than life on his lips, one that understood the joy.
I smiled, much more genuinely than before and looked to the both of them. “Congratulations,” I said, raising my glass before taking another sip.
“Thank you, we are truly blessed,” Elijah said and I physically felt something inside me snap, a tether pulled far too tightly.
“I’m surprised you had time for such activities between defying your Alpha and failing to meet your duties,” Roman grumbled cooly and the room went silent, all attention slipping onto the two of us sat brooding in the corner. His words packed a punch and Elijahs face broke a little before hardening into a scowl.
His Beta’s, the men who were like brothers to him. The men that confined him to this castle and had everything he couldn’t. Spreading the joy of yet another child into this circle, rubbing their perfect lives and happiness all over Roman. I knew the thoughts that brewed beneath his steely gaze, knew how his mind was turning over all the injustices of both his friends achieving a life he’d never had.
I finished the contents of my glass with haste.
No one knew what to say. Hell, I had no idea what was about to come out of Roman’s mouth and I didn’t want to find out. But his former friends just gave him a shocked stare, shocked at both the audacity and intended hurt of his words. How were you supposed to counter that? Such a downer over news that was supposed to be elating? Roman really knew how to pick and choose his battles.
“If I knew getting laid was the only thing on your list of priorities I would’ve handed the position of handling with our issues to someone else.” A low blow. A seriously low blow considering how hard Elijah had been working on figuring out a way around the meeting.
I snapped my had to Roman but his expression remained uninterested, slightly annoyed if anything else at all.
“You know how long we’ve been trying,” Elijah replied, not just hurt but anger in his voice as he clutched onto his mate tighter.
“Trying what? To have a child or make a suitable plan to protect the Luna of this pack? If you would rather fuck all day then by all means, go ahead, I’m sure there is someone more suitable for your role.” Roman didn’t mean what he was saying, I knew in my heart he’d come to regret it but he was pissed. He’d been thrown around and hurt for too long. Breaking points were very ugly and it seemed I was about to see a few.
A gasp sounded from Astrid and Jayce gave Roman a pointed look.
“That’s not fair,” Elijah replied, clenching his fist at his side. “You know how hard I’ve been trying to make this work. All of us have.”
“Apparently not hard enough. If you had the time to plan this stupid little fucking gathering so we could all just pretend things were fine then you haven’t been working enough,” Roman spits and I place my glass onto the table next to me.
“Watch your words around my mate, my child,” Jayce said and Romans snarled at him.
“More orders? One taste of power and look at you both,” Roman loosed a breath, shaking his head with a sarcastic laugh. “Is it my position you want? Are you both that desperate for control that you’d betray your own Alpha too? Your pack? Or was betraying your friend just not enough?”
“We’d die for you, Roman. You know that,” Elijah objected and Roman snarled, the lethal passing through gritted teeth.
“It’s Alpha,” he sneered in response.
“Stop! The whole reason I planned this thing was for you three babies to sort out all this,” Astrid exclaims, motioning to the defensive stance of all three men in the room and at her tone, they all silence.
Roman’s scowl remains but he simply looks his Bet’a up and down with disgust and he averts his gaze, focusing on nothing rather than them.
“She’s right, this isn’t like you three. You aren’t supposed to be fighting, this moment, my moment, is supposed to be happy,” Cameron interjects, both Beta females looking at the men with anger.
I nod my head, moving to sit up straighter in my chair.
“If you don’t put this petty nonsense behind you then we aren’t going to get anything sorted. Going behind my mates back, confining him and overruling his freedoms is shitty, especially when you had agreed not to do such things. I should know,” I add, watching as they lower their heads slightly in shame, “And Roman, brooding won’t solve anything, stop acting like a petulant child and resolve this before you regret it.”
If Roman is bothered- if any of them are bothered, by my order they don’t let on.
“We should have spoken to you about your safety first, before we imposed our temporary power on you,” Jayce says and Elijah, reluctantly, nods.
“And it’s just that, Roman. Temporary. Neither of us would’ve done it if we didn’t think it was for your best interest. We’d never try to take your title, there is no one in the world more entitled to it than you,” Elijah adds and Roman looks at the both of them, staring at Cameron mainly.
“Congratulations on your child, I am happy for the both of you,” Roman says gruffly and I stare at him, an edge in my eyes that makes him clench his jaw before sighing, the fight lost. “I apologise for my outburst and…” he stops for a moment, contemplating the magnitude of what he is about to express. “I forgive you both.”
The room remains silent, still. I don’t know why it is eerie to me, I was hardly expecting them to jump into each others arms with glee once the hatchet was buried. But the air still simmers with emotion, frayed and sparking like a broken telephone wire.
I look down at the golden watch on my wrist in an obvious movement and then back up to the mated couples in front of me and before I bullshit some excuse to end the tension, the timer for dinner goes off in the kitchen.
“Let’s eat, shall we?” Astrid announces, looking somewhat hesitantly to everyone in the crowded room.
The three men all grumble yes in response, each of them eagerly moving to consume whatever that godly scent is coming from. If their mates couldn’t bind them back together, then hopefully food would do the trick.
“I told you he had to find out. I didn’t want it to be this way but there wasn’t much of a choice involved, he was minutes away from piecing it all together himself and if that happened… it would’ve been much worse.” I hold Roman’s stare and gulp down the knot of tension that formed in my throat.
“So he knows?” I ask, wringing my fingers together in my fist, trying desperately to move the pain to another part of my body besides my heart which thunders away in my chest.
Roman nods and I loose a breath, turning around to stalk to the window before twisting back again, my brain shattered into pieces.
“The meeting is in two days, Roman. Two days and the Beta’s still haven’t been able to open re-negotiations, the place is damn near impenetrable and now the King knows?” I ask, my voice becoming shakier as I realise the doom of the situation on my hands.
“I thought he’d leave by now. I never expected him to extend his stay here until Nicholas was dealt with. One way or another he would have discovered what we’d done,” Roman replies and I run a hand down my face.
“What does that mean now then?” My eyes are pleading, matching the desperation of my words. I’d exhausted all other options, worked and worked around problems and potential dealings and prepared myself for every single thing that could go wrong. But not this.
My only preparation in dealing with the King was to avoid including him full stop.
“He wasn’t pleased,” Roman says, dishing out honestly like a main course. Hiding the truth didn’t get us anywhere good before regardless. “I gave him the files to look over before making any brash decisions and thankfully, he didn’t make any. He said he’d process it and relay his verdict in the morning.”
“So we’re working on his time now?” Another grim nod. “And if he says no?” I dare ask, regretting it instantly as a wince washes over Roman’s soft features.
“There is a chance he will,” he replies, and I take a step back, sitting onto the bed in defeat. “He may not, we don’t know yet but I have included all that we have, every reasoning and every slice of evidence. There is a chance that he’ll agree as much as there’s a chance he wont,” Roman assures and I smooth my hands over the silk of my nightgown.
“We scout out the area before the meeting commences, they’ll expect we do that regardless and I will maintain my distance from them throughout the meeting. If we can find some failsafe for me to be able to leave in an instant then he can’t say no,” I tell him and he gives me a nod that tells me he’s already thought through it.
“Our people are working on it as we speak. The King too, is probably thinking over it too,” he says, letting out a heavy sigh at the look on my face.
He walks over to me and takes my face in his hands, making me peer up into his blue eyes. “We will sort it out. If the King denies us then we will work our way around it, I promise you that this meeting will happen,” he says and I hate that he does because much like rules, promises are made to be broken.
“They are probably hurting him right now,” I whisper, my lips beginning to tremble at the memory, “you saw what they did to him, how hurt he was. If I don’t get there then I can only imagine what they’ll do,” I tell him in a choked sob and he pulls my head into his chest, the contours of his abs softening underneath his cotton shirt.
“Don’t think like that Mae, don’t do that to yourself,” he says and I relax into his hold. “No matter what happens tomorrow, we’ll figure it out,” he says and I close my eyes again.
I push from his hold and move underneath the covers, curling myself up into a ball on my side of the bed. He allows me to let my mind reel in thought, no matter how dangerous it might be. I don’t need a distraction or calm or comfort right now. I need to think, to clear my head and allow some semblance of order enter the chaos that roars through me.
Roman simply aids me, turning off the light and letting my mind wander into darkness, fully prepared to come out victorious in whatever war may be waged.
“I find it… interesting, how news like this would be left to me two days prior to it occurring. Less than forty-eight hours now if we are being precise,” the king comments from behind the desk in his room.
We’d been called in early in the morning. Too early.
“The plan had yet to be finalised, as you can tell this is a very difficult situation to handle,” Roman replies and the King rests his fingers under his chin, assessing Roman from head to toe.
“Very difficult apparently, considering you are sending the future of this world into a potential death trap,” the King glowered and my throat closed up. Roman stilled. “Had you already secured an heir for this pack then perhaps my stance would be swayed but given the fact that you haven’t, I am much more reluctant to agree.”
More reluctant to agree, not entirely opposed. My thundering heart pauses before regaining stamina once more. I glance at Roman and he doesn’t need to signal to me physically for me to get the yes behind his eyes, a yes to what wed discussed.
I turn to the King, gulping my nerves. “We have been trying,” I lie and the king stills at this, shocked for once in his endless life. “The doctors, they…” I choke up, mainly at the struggle it is to force out such a tale and thankfully, I appear as the barren wife in grieving.
Roman’s hadn’t strategically finds its way to my exposed knee, rubbing smooth circles on my skin with assurance. “It’s the stress. Her body… something to do with a chemical imbalance, made worse by her now mixed genetics and the situation at hand. Any more trauma, such as the torture of a life so close to hers…” Roman lets the King fill in the blanks and he assess me, the hurt lining my face with a tinge of sympathy.
“I didn’t know you struggled with conception,” the king finally admits and I look down, shamed by the false fact. He trails from the subject, as if thinking mentioning it a moment more will render my uterus completely useless.
“And the only way around this is to send her in? You couldn’t negotiate to have an ambassador visit their base?” The King asks and Roman shakes his head.
“We’ve tried. The only way around this is through it and it will work, your majesty,” Roman says.
“One touch from a hunter strong enough and they could emit you wherever they pleased. One bullet and your human life could end. This is a disaster in the makings and all for what? One human life?” The King continues and my grip on the arm of the leather chair tightens to the point my knuckles turn white.
“It’s not just about that,” I reply. “This is a chance, one that we might not get again to talk with them, to try and figure things out without turning to bloodshed. If I have the chance to discuss with them the opportunities of the future-”
The King’s snarl cuts me off. “If you think you can discuss with hunters you are truly deluded. Their aim has remained the same since the birth of their existence, it is bred into them, taught to them and cursed upon them. I have tried to be diplomatic many times in my ruling but have failed each and every one, this time won’t be any different,” he counters and I nod, listening to what he has to say.
“It’s already different for the fact that I’m not a wolf and the world is different now,” I say before sighing, “you might be right. They might refuse my advances but there is a chance they won’t, especially considering our ruling position is much stronger than theirs. And if it isn’t for any of that then at least I will be able to get some information from them.”
“Do we not have spies for that very thing?” The King retorts, looking directly at Roman.
“None that wouldn’t be instantly killed before even having the chance to open their mouths,” Roman says and the King laughs sarcastically.
“And what makes you think the Luna will be any different from them?” The King asks and, as planned, Roman’s eyes go a glossy white for a spilt moment and the doors to the office open, that same tall, pale priestess walking into the room. “Her,” he replies and we turn our full attention onto the woman.
She looks like she is floating as she approaches us, her dainty legs gliding across the floor, swaying the white fabric of her dress as she halts behind us, nodding gracefully to the King. “Goddess be with you, your majesty,” she says.
“Goddess be with you,” he replies, nodding hastily to get to the point of her entrance without appearing too rude to the emissary of his goddess.
“Our priestess has offered sanctuary from the goddess herself,” Roman continues and the King leans back in his chair, intrigued.
The priestess removes a round, thick golden amulet from her chest, weighing the object in her hand. “The goddess see’s this plight with a heavy heart. We offer our protection,” she says and the King narrows his eyes before waving a hand.
“I’m listening.” Is his only response, and Roman leans forward.
“The use of this will charm Mae to be protected from harm and the amulet itself will act as a tether to where we are stationed, just outside radius of the meeting grounds in a location already secured by my forces. She taps once onto its centre and she’s back, in an instant. The charm will last an hour, plenty of time for discussions to be had and peace to be settled. We’ll retrieve her brother and leave unscathed, this amulet will ensure it,” he continues and I think back to our discussion this morning.
I’d asked hesitantly after a night of thoughts well before the sun began to arise if there was a different kind of solution. One that didn’t involve troops or warriors or drafts-something magical like our bond. It didn’t take long after that to visit the palace temple and find a solution after much deliberation.
The priestesses were holy but they certainly weren’t stupid. They knew of the power they beheld in those goddess given gifts and the hefty sum Roman had offered to donate to their services was evidence enough of that. Everyone had a price, even the divine it seemed.
The king was silent in his deliberation. “And you are certain this will work?” Tiberius asked, not to me, not to Roman, but to the priestess directly-the only person in this room he trusted.
“On the will of the goddess,” she replied and Tiberius nodded in thanks, almost.
The King let out a heavy sigh and glared at Roman. “If it doesn’t work, it’ll be you who suffers most.”
I sensed the pain Roman felt at that but he knew the price, the cost of what I was asking of them all. They had a lot more to lose than I had to gain and I knew this favour wouldn’t expire for quite some time. Next time I ask I’m almost certain they’ll want more in return, more that I don’t know if I can give them.
“I know,” Roman responds, his hand on my knee tightening like the Kings told him I was definitely going to die.
The king looked at us both and cocked his head, raising a brow before turning to me completely. “I hope you are prepared for hell because I have no doubt you’ll receive nothing less.”
I have so many cool ideas in my head, I just can’t type fast enough to get them all out in a way that doesn’t sound completely crazy. Make sense? But seriously tho I am excited for all the things imma be sharing in the future, these next few chapters…
Til next time,
ps: INKITT DUDES, please guys if you have a spare second make sure you review this story or leave a like or comment or follow or all of them if you are up to it to help support this book! :) see you guys Sunday!