I felt like they all knew what Nate had just said many probably did. Now how foolish do I look, earlier declaring that me and Nathaniel loved each other... so much... yet he couldn't be bothered to turn up for me. No he wasn't detained at work or on a mission he was out with the lads and that was more important to him than my ceremony, his mates introduction to his clan, his clan!
The part of me that loves Nathaniel screams within that I need him he needs me and its probably all in my head, there is no need for doubt. So he didn't show up, he's right it's not that big of a deal... but I know, to me it is.
It's all or nothing when it comes to mates if you get down to it. I have seen the evidence and been in the presence of so many happy unions. Where both parties fall hook line and sinker. But I have also seen those who were rejected, dropped for one reason or another. People go all in or they just drop their mate in a cold dose of rejection. Yet I seem to be stuck somewhere inbetween, it hadn't even dawned on me until now, how much pushing back Nate had done. There was always one excuse or another and me being me had never questioned or thought to question the reasons. I had fallen for every excuse every time, but now after hearing Nate on the phone I had so many questions and doubts.
Was the man I had known all this time who he really was, or was he that same person talking down the line to Alpha Atreus. Yes both are the same person, but one is his true face and one is a facade. I had a deep dark ache within my soul screaming that he was hiding behind a mask through all of our relationship. When I think back it's like even the mate bond had given me indications that everything is not as it seems.
For one my mating mark never turned properly, it always remained as bite marks never transforming into a unique tattoo like mark. They vary in shapes and sizes with moons and stars, Wolves, some match closely with their packs others are completely unique one of a kind. Yet mine never materialised, my mark actually began to fade over time, something I had noted earlier and pushed away any questions it might raise. But now it's all flashing like red signals in my mind.
I could run, forget it, forget the ceremony maybe try forget everything. Maybe that would teach him maybe he would realise how much he has messed up. But wouldn't that make everyone loose respect for you, for us. Oriel counsels me, remaining the steady strength within me and she's right running will do exactly that, I would loose respect for myself and that is not a road I want to take. Oh Godess who am I kidding, I have committed to this pack now, I am to be the new school teacher to the youngest pack members. I can't run even if I wanted to.
So many questions but all will have to wait, now I need to get through the ceremony so this night can end.
Nabi's soft voice called from outside the door, I had locked myself into the upstairs bathroom. Away from prying eyes and ears.
"Give me a minute Nabi, I don't want to disappoint my audience, ha. Just gonna fix my face and I will be out." Looking at the deflated reflection of myself, mascara smeared down my face I realised that I need to pull myself together. Even if I am on my own, its nothing new, I can do this. We can do this Paloma, Oriel cheers on in my head. I wipe my face clean retouching my makeup. Whatever it is about this bathroom the smells are so calming and enticing to me luckily. Now I'm ready to face my future.
I'm faced with the smiling eyes of Nabi as I open the door.
"Darling, please." She grabs my hands in a comforting hold, when I look into her eyes I can see an honest care, even though she only just met me. "Its going to be ok, I know we don't know each other well but please trust me. You can do this solo, I can feel how strong you are." I can't help but laugh at that. Me the Omega everyone loves to call bunny cause that's about as much strength I have. But Nabi doesn't give up it's like she senses my inner turmoil. She places her index finger on my forehead and nudges me. "In here Paloma, strength comes from within. Anyone can be physically strong but few have the strength to get through trial after trail. But your different I can sense it from you, don't let the actions of one man be your defining moment. Shine! Let yourself shine Paloma and you will get through this. Your more than your mate bond, any good mate will know this."
Before I make it outside I'm grabbed on the arm. "I need to talk to you, come to my office." It's the first time the Alpha has spoken to me with such a stern voice, I'm slightly taken aback.
As we enter his study, the strong waft of leather and wood overwhelms my olfactory senses. One things for sure it's all man in here. Leather chairs and lounge, wood panelling on the walls. A massive oak wood desk sits centred with a large antler chandelier hanging from the ceiling. I grab the guest swivel chair in front on the desk and await my telling off. I know its coming, it's not the first time an Alpha has had to tell me to stand up for myself, be stronger and the pack will be stronger, we are wolves, wolves dont cry we fight our way through. We are not weak. But... to my surprise that's not what comes out his mouth.
"Look Paloma, I don't know what's going on between the two of you and quite frankly I do not want to be put in the centre of the shitstorm again. Ok. There are a few things you need to understand but first let me ask, are you ok?...."
What? Am I hearing him correctly here or have I actually lost it now.
"Paloma snap out of it now, are you ok?"
"Yes Alpha, I'm fine." I was tight lipped on the subject, there was no way I was going to be spilling my heart out to the guy who had been hitting on me since I landed here. No way!!
"Glad to hear it." And there it was again that sexual tension between us, as he stopped speaking and just looked at me. All I could think of was how hot he looked in that tight button down shirt and what it would feel like to have my mouth on those abs and then I giggled. I couldn't help it, I was a mess of nerves and this was a laugh or cry moment and there I was ogling the Alpha and for the first time I didn't feel guilty. Why should I it's not like our mate cares about us, it's only window shopping, it's not like I am going to buy anything.
Then I was abruptly brought back to my senses the sound of Alpha Atreus clearing his throat made me jump. When I looked skyward, well actually towards his face and away from that sculpted body, his smug grin reached his eyes and damn if I do say so he is stunning.
"Well you dont mind if we get on with the ceremony then?" He asks.
"That's it? No lecture, no scolding, no punishment?" He just pulls his smile even wider. "Punishment can be arranged if you desire." He winks then whispers in my ear as he passes by. "Somewhere more private." Then he is gone and I'm left with goosebumps running down my back from his hot breath on my ear, mulling over the innuendo, and for the first time tonight I a genuine light hearted smile and giggle leaves me.
So here I am standing on the deck of Alpha next door, starting my new life with my new pack, without my mate but with my self respect. Nabi's words were what I needed, even if things between me and Nate are on rocky ground, I'm not going to let that define my life. I am more than just the bond between us and any mate worth his weight would agree. We should be here to build each other up, support each other love each other, but we should also be ourselves, be our best selves and that is what I am going to do.
"Welcome everyone, pack members new and old. We come here tonite to witness the inauguration of our newest member Paloma." Atreus deep voice boomed out over the crowd, as they stood with such pride and respect for their Alpha. It was a spectacle I was delighted to see, the packs feelings were so visually obvious and I was in awe aswell as I stood in front of the towering muscled Adonis.
"Paloma." As he called my name I stared up into those dangerously beautiful eyes. "We the members of the Dark Orb of Knight pack welcome you here as our newest member. With honour we fight protect and love. With pride we care, encourage and teach. With love we grow, nurture and flourish. Join us now in life, love and death as we combine our blood with yours."
He nodded giving me the sign as he bit into his palm and I followed suit. I thought I would feel terrified, alone but it was anything but. The pack came together for their Alpha and newest member and even if they didn't like me I felt no hostility whatsoever. I only felt warmth from my new pack. As the blood pooled in our palms the Alpha held out his hand and I took it with our blood combined to created my connection. The wave of emotions hitting me head on as my old packs connection died and my new one filled me with so much pride and joy.
Nabi joins us on stage with a large intricate lit candle, she kneels before us and places it under our clasped and bloodied hands. The blood drops down and into the flame, it's as if it moves of it's own accord. Swirling in the melted wax until it disappears and a blood red knotted circle forms both sides of the candle one with a wolf howling at the dark moon, the symbol of the pack the other with a wolf and a woman and what looked like a butterfly perched on her shoulder. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen and filled my heart up. I couldn't take my eyes off it and was so proud to think that partially came from me.
"Paloma this is your ceremonial candle and will journey with you through all your trails, welcome again little one. Take it now as we ask the moon Godess for blessings and thank her for all that she has bestowed upon us." I followed Alpha Atreus to the edge of the deck my heart full as I watched everyone light candles similar to my own, I'm assuming it's their own ceremonial candle.
The whole spectacle is beautiful like a sea of stars burning here in the Alpha's garden. In all my life I have never felt so complete even when I had met Nate it didn't feel this overwhelming this emotional, all my emotions had been cleared the moon Godess had guided me to a new home and whatever happens from now on, I won't regret because in this moment I know I am where I am supposed to be.
A light burning sensation sweeps across my back and shoulders.
Goodness how unfit am I, I can't even hold up a candle without feeling the burn.
Yet the burn intensifies even after I lower the candle, searing pain now begins to radiate from the same area until I hear a few gasps, my eyes see bright spots and dark spots until my body sways and I fall into Atreus arms. His swirling intense eyes are the last thing I see before I am lost in the dept of darkness.