Made for Each Other
I untangled myself from the dream lethargically, the shadows of the valley still in the edge of my vision. I could almost still smell the mint of Paeris' breath next to me. As my vision cleared from sleep and focused on my room, I noticed that Allie had picked up her mess and made her bed while my clothes from the day before still sat on the floor next to the hamper. I sighed.
I could feel the world I knew spinning completely out of control, but for the first time, a voice in the back of my head told me it would be okay.
I went into autopilot, doing all the things I normally would do, if the world wasn't so different:
Dress in a loose t-shirt and shorts, an apple for breakfast, a kiss on mom's cheek on the way out the door, and a short jog to the training field.
It felt amazing to stretch my legs and feel the wind in my hair. It wasn't until I reached the training field that my normal morning came crashing to the ground.
Allie was partnered with Cage, throwing semi-decent punches. I was surprised at how well her form had improved in the two days since she had arrived. From the way Cage was moving and guarding, I realized that he had to have gave her some great pointers. I sighed, blowing the hair out of my face and threw my half eaten apple into the air a couple of times as I watched them before my stomach turned upside down as Cage pinned her. The twinkling laughter and blushing from the two of them was too much.
I jogged over to them, mustering up as much maturity as I could, chanting to myself that this was a good thing. That my sister wasn't stealing my man.
My heart was breaking.
"You know, he has a weak spot behind his left leg." I quipped, smirking down at them as they quickly rolled apart and climbed to their feet. "He also sucks at telling jokes, but doesn't realize the difference between a fake laugh and a real one."
"Hey! Are you going to keep making up stuff about me or are you going to offer some real insight here?" Cage teased, scratching the back of his head.
"Oh! You want me to warn her that you snore?" I teased back, fully aware that Allie's smile had dropped the moment I walked over. At this point, I was more of an annoying ex that won't go away than a sister.
"I do not snore!"
"Why does it matter?" Allie finally interjected, clear annoyance on her face. Even when she was angry, she looked elegant.
"Well, I figured you should know what you're yourself getting into."
"With what? What are you even talking about?" She demanded, true irritation and confusion etching her features.
"Alaray, stop tormenting the girl. Allie still doesn't know all of our ways." My father thundered behind me, commanding the attention of the whole pack. "How would you like it if someone acted this way toward you in the not so distant future? You're being a child. I raised you better than this."
All at once, it became clear. Allie had no idea that she was destined to be mated.
How would she react when she knew?
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I stood in front of my closet, staring at what few things I had left that weren't packed up or commandeered by my sister. What do you wear to a party? The only party I had ever been to was my birthday parties and my ceremony for finishing my studies.
I had no idea what to expect. I had nearly decided against going to this thing since it was technically a party for Allie to welcome her into the Pack, but it kind of felt like a going away party for me too. Allie taking her place in the Pack meant that I was on the outs.
"What are you going to wear to this thing?" I asked my sister, running my fingers over the only semi-decent dress I owned. "Is this like, a dressy thing? Or a slutty thing?"
Allie snorted, applying another layer of nail polish to her toes and tightening the towel around her torso.
"Honestly, I have no idea. I've never been to a normal party. Just balls and cocktail parties and fancy tea times." She finally said as I pulled out a dress that I last remembered wearing to my birthday. "Ew, do not wear that one."
I put the dress back and threw up my arms.
"What am I supposed to wear then? I am not cut out for this."
"Listen, I brought a couple dresses with me, but it's going to cost you." Allie said slowly, lifting to cross over to the closet with me.
"What could I possibly give you? You know what, I don't even know if I want to go to this thing."
"How about... you tell me why you're trying to hook me up with your boyfriend?"
I swallowed, crossing my arms. Sure, I could tell her about her fate and see how she reacted. I could tell her simply and let her make her own ideas about it all.
"It's a Pack thing. You'll get all the details in your studies. Basically, you and Cage are meant for each other."
She seemed to mull this information over slowly, as if she didn't truly believe me.
"And how do you feel about that?"
"I don't get a vote. I don't get to have feelings about it. Neither do you."
I felt more uncomfortable in the dress Allie gave me than any other piece of clothing I had ever worn. Unlike the dress I had worn in my dream with Paeris, it hugged me in all the wrong places and rode up every time I walked. If this was the type of dress I would have to wear when I moved to the castle, I would have to change it straight away.
I felt vulnerable and while my mother said I looked stunning, I didn't feel like myself. I had allowed Allie to do my makeup and hair, which was about as much girly bonding as I had ever had, but when she brushed my hair back into a bun, it pulled and when she put makeup on my face, it felt like a pounds of unnecessary goop.
How would I even protect myself in a dress like this? Was this why the Elves depended on us so much?
"Wow, Ray, you look... different." Cage said slowly, looking me over as I walked into the small hall in the center of our makeshift town. It was our own version of a Council Hall, but the amount of times I remember it being used for anything could be counted on my hand.
"Wow, that was almost a compliment."
"No, I didn't... I mean, you..."
"You look amazing, Ray. He just doesn't know how to process it because you usually look like a boy." Allie offered with a smirk on her lips, brushing past me and walking toward Tarron as if they had already planned to meet up. I flipped her the finger as her back was turned.
"You look beautiful, Ray. She's just trying to get under your skin." Cage said slowly, offering me a small smile. "I just meant that I haven't seen you so dressy before."
"Uh-huh. It's okay, Cage. I know it's weird."
He blew out a sigh, his million watt smile covering his lips. He took my hand gently, squeezing it a couple of times. Cage to the rescue, always looking out for me.
"Is there food at this thing? Or booze? Or... I don't know?"
"Usually it's just dancing and drinking, but these things usually do end in some drama or a fight." Fighting, I could handle. Drama, not so much. I had enough drama in my life.
"Let's get this over with."
The following days passed in a blur filled with training and tracking and showing Allie how to hunt. I had to admit, she was picking up on how to be a member of the Pack surprisingly quickly.
Everyone seemed to loved her, especially Tarron who was my Beta. She had always tough as nails and had a raunchy sense of humor like one of the guys, but for some reason her and Allie clicked better than Tarron and I ever had. My Beta had respected me, but we never had gotten to the point of friendship as most girls our age do. Our friendship went as far as respect and her attempting to be a good friend, but it always felt a little strained.
I learned this as I had slipped into bed late one night and caught Allie sneaking out the bedroom window to go to a party with Tarron and Cage. While I had been jealous that I had never been invited to one of these get togethers, I was secretly happy that Allie was fitting in so well. The Mixer didn't count; that dancing snooze fest was nothing compared to what I had heard about the parties Allie went to.
Though my heart hurt at how Cage looked at my sister, as if she were the most amazing woman he had ever seen. His eyes sparkled when he talked with her, looking like a love-sick puppy. When we were tracking, I could hear her giggling like a school girl at something he had said, the two of them hanging back behind the rest of the Pack to track together and chat.
The way they looked at each other was as if no one else was around.
But while the days were blurred by my Pack moving on without me and embracing their new leader, my nights were what I looked forward to most.
When I fell asleep, I dreamed. And with my dreams came Paeris.
I didn't know why I had continued to dream of him, but something about the way he spoke to me, the way he looked at me, it reminded me so much of the way Cage looked at Allie: like I was the only girl on the planet.
Most nights, I looked forward to early bed times and late mornings. I had never napped in all of my childhood - my days had always been jammed full of training and studying our traditions and culture.
Now that I was a princess and Allie was the center of attention, I had all the time in the world to sleep away the day and dream of Paeris.
My mother, Nym, thought I was depressed.
How was I supposed to explain to her that I was falling in love with a figment of my imagination? Yes, I knew Paeris didn't actually exist - but someone someday would come along that gave me these butterflies and made me feel comfortably vulnerable in all the right ways. And dreams were a pleasant escape from watching my sister fall for the only man I had ever thought of the way even close to similarly to Paeris.
In my dreams, we ran when I was frustrated, danced under the moonlight, curled up together in the heat of a fire and laughed at silly jokes meant only for us. I taught him to hunt and he taught me about elemental talents I didn't even know I had. Paeris knew more about politics of the High Wall and taught me so much about proper etiquette that it stunned me. I must have heard it somewhere in my studies, but I was grateful that Paeris was the tool that brought it to the surface of my mind.
Paeris was the sweetest escape from my own reality.