I bolt upright in bed. I was supposed to meet Skylar for breakfast and a tour of the town. What time is it? The alarm clock on the nightstand says it’s only 6 AM. I don’t need to meet her for another three hours. I sigh and lean back against the pillows. How did I end up in bed? What happened after mine and Percy’s argument?
“You’re awake,” someone says, causing me to jump. He chuckles. “Didn’t mean to scare you.” Percy walks towards me and places a cup of coffee and a large brown paper bag on the night stand. “Coffee?” He asks. “I got pastries as well, but I wasn’t sure what you like, so I got one of just about everything.”
“You’ll quickly learn that coffee is the way to my heart,” I tease, taking the cup eagerly. He sits on the edge of the bed as I take a sip of the hot dark roast coffee. My headache immediately ceases.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Percy jokes, winking at me. Butterflies stir in the pit of my stomach. I hadn’t mean for it to sound like I was coming onto him. I blush. “How are you feeling?”
“Much better now,” I tell him honestly. “Thank you.”
“No problem,” he tells me, staring me in my eyes. I suddenly feel nervous, and I know I have to ask him.
“What happened last night?” I force myself to inquire. “I know we got a little angry with each other, and then it’s just a blank.”
He sighs. “We didn’t get angry with each other.” I raise an eyebrow, challenging him. “Well, I didn’t get angry with you,” he corrects. “I’m not used to being told no, Aria.” The way he says my name sounds like a caress and my face flames. “I was prying. I’m sorry. You did pass out on me, though,” he chuckles. “You had me pretty freaked out, honestly.”
“I don’t know what happened. It was so weird. I was so mad at you… and then… I don’t know. I just got confused.” I blush remembering how the word mate had popped into my head so suddenly. Where had that come from? What is this place doing to me? I bite my lip, unsure. “Maybe this is wrong,” I say and he frowns at me.
“What’s wrong?” He demands.
“This,” I gesture to the room around me. “Me being here. I think it’s messing with my head—I can’t think straight anymore.” I put my coffee down and place my face in my hands. “Maybe I should just go home and face my mom.” And Halston.
“You can’t go!” He practically shouts, almost sounding panicked. He calms himself down and continues. “Regardless of whether you want to face your mother or not, we still need you here.”
Right. I’d forgotten. How did I forget the whole reason I’m here in the first place?
“Of course,” I say quietly. “Your sister.” I look at him, and everything feels clearer now. “I don’t know what was wrong with me last night. I’m sure it won’t happen again.”
“You just need to get used to being here. It’s a new environment and you don’t know anyone.”
I nod in silent agreement.
“Let me show you around,” he says suddenly. “I’ll introduce you to some people, take you on a tour around town, and we can check on Ellie.”
I bite my lip, suddenly angry that I’d already made plans. “Actually, I’m meeting Skylar soon to do all of that.”
His face falls and I feel guilty.
“You’re welcome to join us though. I’m sure the future Luna wouldn’t mind your company,” I joke, but the words are like acid on my tongue. What is wrong with me?
His face twists in what appears to be disdain. “She is not my Luna.” It doesn’t sound like his voice.
I tilt my head to the side. “Was that you speaking? Or your wolf?”
He smiles simply. “It may have been my wolf.”
I lean towards him, intrigued. “How does it work? The wolf thing?”
He chuckles and rubs his chin. “My wolf is very much a part of me. He’s always there. I can communicate with him, and vice versa. But in a sense, I also AM my wolf. It’s very hard to explain, it’s really something you just feel and experience. He’s very stubborn and pigheaded, and at times he’s hard to control.”
“Why did he speak just then?” I ask. “Instead of you, I mean.”
He shrugs. “I guess he just had something to say.”
“How is he so certain that Skylar isn’t his mate?” I wonder aloud, hoping that he has a good reason, but I’m not sure why. “Skylar said that sometimes it takes more time for an Alpha to realize it. How do you know that you just haven’t realized it yet?”
He frowns. “Don’t tell her this—it’ll hurt her—but I have an idea who my mate is, and it’s not her.”
My eyes widen in surprise. “Oh.”
“And you still don’t want to tell me about this fiancé?” He asks, trying to seem too casual, but it’s probably just my imagination.
I look down, picking at the comforter nervously. “Not really,” I tell him sadly.
“Are mates in the witch world comparable to werewolf mates?” He asks quietly. “Does he worship the very ground you walk on? Does he thank the Goddess—or whoever—for every breath you take? Does he let you know every damn day that you’re the most important thing in the world to him?”
He’s staring at me with an intensity that I can’t comprehend. I’m breathing hard, staring directly into his beautiful green eyes, and I’m not understanding anything I’m feeling.
“No,” I answer him breathily. “He used to… or at least I think he used to. Things haven’t been going so well recently.”
“Is he who you’re running from?” He asks and I nod. “Did he hurt you?” He growls, his eyes turning black.
“Just my heart. And my pride.” I admit.
“He should never have hurt any part of you,” he tells me very seriously.
I smile sadly at him. “I agree.”
We look at each other for a moment in silence. “So,” I say now, changing the subject. “Will you be joining us?”
“I don’t think so,” he says politely. “I’ll meet you when you check on Ellie, though.”
I nod, unable to hide my disappointment.
“I would like your company tonight for dinner, though, if you don’t already have plans.”
I smile at him. “I think I can schedule you in.”
“Great,” he says, standing to his feet. “I’ll see you tonight at six. I’ll meet you here.”
And with that, he leaves the bedroom, and I can hear the soft click of the front door shutting. I get up to shower and change when I notice a blanket ruffled up in the chair in the corner of the room that hadn’t been there yesterday.
Did he sleep here?
Was he so worried about me that he slept in that chair all night?
Of course he did. He’s ours.
The last voice in my head wasn’t my own, and I freeze again, distinctly feeling like I’m losing my mind. I’m scared to respond—to even think.
No. The voice answers, and I fall back onto the bed, feeling faint.
What the hell is going on right now?
I am Rowena.