You are the most stubborn, pigheaded fool there ever was! Rowena growls. How dare you talk to our mate that way! Dont you dare even think of trying to leave him!
If you were always there then you must know about Halston.
He means nothing to us.
No. He means nothing to you, I correct her. For years, he was my literal other half, not that wolf.
You are a wolf, my love. A mate bond is the most sacred thing in the world. Halston doesn’t hold a candle to the power of Perseus’ feelings for you.
“How are you feeling?” I whisper to Eloise, running my fingers through her fur where she’s curled up at the head of a hospital bed. She purrs softly. I feel along her sides, and she winces slightly. “Are you feeling any better?”
“She says she’s feeling a little less sore today,” Percy tells me, leaning against the wall next to the door. “She still can’t shift back, but she’s more relaxed knowing that the baby is okay.”
I nod at him, keeping my face neutral. “That’s great,” I tell her enthusiastically. “If you could roll over I’ll check the baby’s heartbeat.” She does as I ask, slowly flipping onto her back. “Make sure that you’re still drinking enough water, it’s still super important to stay hydrated, and lots of rest so that you can shift back soon,” I remind her as I finish the exam. “You’re doing really well. In no time you’ll be back to normal.”
She yips happily and gets up, ready to leave. She patters past Percy, nipping at his hand as she goes.
“I’ll still see you for dinner?” He asks me, his hands in his pockets, trying too seem casual.
“No. I think I need some time to process and I have a headache. It’s been a long, stressful day.”
He seems disappointed but he nods. “As much time as you need. Just don’t leave without giving me a chance.”
With that he turns and leaves, closing the door between us.
Percy keeps his word.
For the next two weeks, I don’t hear from him. I occasionally see him in passing, but Talon has been to all of Ellie’s appointments, and I’ve spent my free time researching my… condition… or hanging out with Skylar, who has surprisingly taken all of this in stride.
As it turns out, there have been a few other hybrids like myself—assuming I’m not going crazy— but that would mean that at least one of my parents are not my biological parent. I’ve been too scared to confront it, but now I stand at the island in the apartment, my cell phone in my trembling hand. I press on the number I’ve been avoiding the last few months of my life. I sigh as I wait, trying to calm myself down.
“Aria Naomi Gray!” My mother exclaims when she answers the phone. “Where have you been? You’ve fallen off the face of the Earth! Do you even realize how worried your father and I have been?!”
“Where I am isn’t what’s important right now,” I whisper.
“Oh, it isn’t? Well, then you tell me what’s more important than your whereabouts, young lady.”
“Am I adopted?” I blurt. My heart is racing and I’m terrified.
“What?!” She gasps. “Why would you ever ask that?”
“Tell me.” I command. “I need the truth right now. Some… things… have happened. I need you to answer me.”
I’m about to cry.
The other end of the phone is complete silence. I wait, biting my lip and bracing myself on the counter.
“I adopted you,” she whispers, sounding ashamed.
“So y’all adopted me? And you were never going to tell me?!”
“No,” she says firmly. “I adopted you. Your father is your biological father—but don’t misunderstand—you ARE my daughter. I prayed for you, I raised you. I held you in my arms the day you were born.”
I don’t say anything. I don’t think I suspected that I was actually adopted when I asked. I think I just thought I was going crazy, honestly.
“Aria, where are you?” She asks desperately. “Just tell me where you are—we’ll come get you. We can talk about things with Halston. Things can be better, I swear.”
“I need to think.”
I hang up, letting out a shaky breath I’d been holding. Now I don’t know what to do. I’d gotten brave enough to ask, and now I’m not strong enough to handle the answer.
I grab my wallet and take off out the door, leaving my phone on the island. I drive into the middle of town and park. It’s starting to get dark now, and the shops are probably closing soon. I wander into Skylar’s parents’ shop and they greet me warmly, as Skylar has introduced me to them as her new best friend. I order a coffee and excuse myself, walking right back out of the door. I wander Main Street for a while, tugging my cardigan close against the light breeze.
“Hey, witch!” Someone calls from behind me. I turn and find a large man a lot closer to me than I’d originally thought. He closes the distance between us quickly. I stumble backwards but he grabs me by his arm and jerks me back. He smells like alcohol, and sweat is pooling on his brow. “What’re you doin’ here witch? Why’s the Alpha think you got somethin’ a offer to this pack. You’re nothing. I’ll show you you’re a nothin’ bitch,” he slurs, his hot breath on my face. He shoves me and I stumble. Still reeling from what I’ve learned about my parents, I can’t feel my magic anywhere.
Let me out. Rowena snarls.
“How?!” I ask aloud, afraid.
“You stupid, bitch?” He laughs, lunging for me.
Let me out!!!
“I don’t know how!” I scream back, trying to scramble away, trying desperately to get up off my hands and knees. He grabs a handful of my hair and pushes my face into the sidewalk. I try and remember self-defense, but my memory fails me.
“Don’t know how to what?!” He screams. “Use your magic? Where’s it at now? You’re nothin’ and you never will be. Not when I’m done with you.”
Tears flow freely down my face, and I close my eyes and accept my fate, Rowena’s ferocious snarls the last thing I’ll ever hear.