I take a deep, steady breath while smoothing out my hair for the hundredth time, hoping that it will at least stay in place for the next two hours or so. Mia had been a dear in helping me get ready, by doing my make-up, blowing, and straightening my long, blonde hair and picking out a jaw-dropping evening gown that would make Raiden proud to be seen by my side.
The day I have been dreading for the last two months, is finally here.
Tonight, I will be introduced to all the Alphas of our surrounding packs, as Shadow Creek’s new Luna, at the annual provincial gathering. Raiden had been attending these meetings alone for the last six years since I was unintentionally missing in action.
Only high-ranking pack members, such as Alphas and Betas, are invited to prestige events such as these, putting the pressure on me to shine even more.
To say that I am nervous is an understatement. Not only will I be at the centre of attention, but I will also be put in a position where I can embarrass myself quite easily. Moving around in large crowds can be very difficult for a blind person, even if I have learned how to tune into my other wolf senses to even my disability out.
Everybody has been helping me in this regard and also to ease me into my new role as Luna of Shadow Creek. As I stand here, tonight, I can proudly say that I know each and every pack member by name, voice and by scent. This is not a small accomplishment, since Shadow Creek is considered to be one of the largest packs in the province.
“Any Lunas in?” I hear a familiar, husky voice sounding from the doorway, followed by a gentle knock.
“Mattie!” I shriek out excitedly and almost jump into his arms.
Holding my hands out, he finds me almost immediately, but snakes his left arm around my waist, while the other grips my right hand firmly. Before I know what is going on, I feel my feet moving as he dances us around in circles inside the tiny guest room.
A giggle escapes my lips as happiness bubbles up inside me from being reunited with a close friend after nearly eight weeks spent apart.
“Missed me, Pudding?” he asks cheerfully as he dips me backwards for a moment, before pulling me back up into a welcoming embrace.
“Always,” I say, smiling brightly and taking in his familiar, comforting scent.
“You look lovely this evening, Luna,” he says as he brings my hand up to his face and places a gentle kiss on top of my knuckles.
“Thank you very much, Alpha,” I say, bending my knees into a playful curtsey.
I can hear Mat chuckle lightly as he laces his arm into mine, like a true gentleman and leads me out of the room and down the hall, towards the ballroom.
“Sis!” I hear Axel holler down the hall as soon as we step out of the room.
Mat stops for a moment and waits for Axel to join us.
“I see you found her just fine?” he asks Mat as soon as he reaches us.
“I did, thanks for the directions,” Mat answers in a cocky tone. I can just imagine the two men sharing a look and Mat even winking at Axel.
Shaking my head and rolling my eyes, I start pulling Mattie along again, so that we can get this evening going already.
“You ready for your big night, Sis?” Axel asks, nudging me teasingly in my side with his elbow.
I take a deep, shaky breath before answering. “Probably as ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Yeah, don’t worry, me and Mat here have got your back,” he says reassuringly while Mat squeezes my arm still hooked into his in confirmation.
The love and acceptance I feel right now, being flanked by these two goofy guys, cannot be described in words. My heart is so filled with so much love that I fear it might rupture or explode at any second.
“I love you guys so much; you know that don’t you?” I ask sincerely.
Mat squeezes my arm again lovingly, while Axel places his large, warm hand on my left shoulder and rubs for a moment.
When we reach the large ballroom, my senses are immediately flooded by the sound of multiple voices, background music and people’s scents, all jumbled together. For a second, my confidence falters, and I step back into the hallway, pressing my back firmly against the cold, hard wall behind me.
“Lil, you ok?” Mat asks caringly.
“I-I don’t know if I can do this,” I manage to rasp out.
“It’s ok, I will walk you out and stay by your side until handing you off to Ray,” he says again, while gently rubbing my arm.
I can feel Axel rubbing my other shoulder again, trying to calm me down.
“Have you mind-linked with him?” Mat asks.
“Yeah, he is on his way,” Axel replies almost immediately.
A second later, the pleasant smell of my mate reaches my nose. I can feel Mat and Axel moving away from me, leaving me against the cold, hard surface of the wall only for a second before the warmth of Raiden’s body is pressed up against mine and his loving arms snake around my waist.
On instinct, I take a deep, welcoming breath, filled with his wonderful scent, and lean into him, pressing my face flush against his chiselled chest. I can hear his heart beating faster than usual, and I pull away, shifting only my eyes into my wolf’s.
Through my wolf’s eyes, I can see basic shapes and movement quite well, but fine detail and colours are lacking. A wolf’s vision extends somewhat into the infrared portion of the spectrum, a bit like the Predator movies, which means that I can still see yellow and blue, albeit slightly blurry.
I cup my hands around Raiden’s face and place a tender kiss on his lips, enjoying the immediate, calming effect of the mate bond buzzing through me.
“Are you alright?” I ask as soon as I pull away a bit.
“You look amazing, Lily,” he breathes out.
My smile instantly reaches my ears as soon as I realize that I am the reason for his quickened heart rate.
I take another, deep breath, lift my chin and pull my shoulders back. “Ok, I am ready,” I say, intertwining my fingers into his.
He squeezes my hand reassuringly before leading me into the large ballroom filled with laughter and chatter. The moment we step inside, I can hear the noise levels subside, and Raiden clears his throat loudly to gain everyone’s attention.
“Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for joining us on this joyous occasion. After searching long and hard, I am pleased to introduce to you, my fated mate and new Luna of Shadow Creek, Lily Scott.”
Loud cheers and clinking of glasses can be heard all around the room. My heart flutters at the welcoming, loving feeling building up deep inside me.
“We are looking forward to conversing with each and every one of you tonight, although I must warn you that my Luna has tragically lost her human eyesight only a few months ago and is still adjusting to the changes. So please, do not be frightened if you find her looking at you through her wolf’s eyes, she is not about to rip your head off.”
I can hear some light laughter in the background at Raiden’s last statement, which I am quite grateful for. I don’t want people to tiptoe around me and avoid the big elephant in the room. Besides, I have made peace with my blindness and don’t mind people asking about it. I just don’t want a sombre atmosphere where people are too scared to talk to me because they might offend me.
“Lily, would you like to say anything?” Raiden asks as soon as he is finished with his speech.
“Uh, yes, actually. Thank you all for coming tonight. I am looking forward to getting acquainted with all of you,” I say, trying to keep a warm, inviting smile on my face.
As soon as I am done talking and give a slight nod, loud cheers erupt throughout the room, and the music starts playing again.
Raiden places a gentle kiss on my temple, before leading me into the room where the first couple starts to introduce themselves and congratulate us.
It has been a long but entertaining evening. We danced, ate, drank, and laughed along with our guests, enjoying the warm evening with its festive atmosphere.
“Luna, Alpha,” I hear new voices to our left. Raiden and I turn in unison to get better acquainted.
“Uh, Lily, this is Alpha Stone, from Dire Mountain, accompanied by his Luna, Enola and their daughter,” Raiden says as he introduces me to the new voices.
“Welcome, it is nice to meet you,” I say while holding out my hand.
A strong, male hand grips mine and squeeze it gently, no doubt the Alpha, but then the Luna leans in and gives me a warm, friendly hug.
“Pleasure to meet you, Luna Lily,” she says while pulling away.
“This is my daughter, Gabrielle,” she says as I feel a new pair of loving arms engulfing me.
The moment Gabrielle hugs me, I can feel her body going stiff. She jerks herself back, and suddenly I feel very confused as to what is going on. No one says anything, and I tilt my head slightly towards Raiden.
“What is going on?” I ask quietly.
“I’m not sure,” he whispers back.
The next sound I heard must have belonged to Gabrielle because it was sweet and melodic. “Mate,” she says, and I feel all the blood draining away from my face.
I can feel Raiden’s grip on my hand tighten insignificantly, and I hear his heart starting to race.
No? Is it? Wait, what?
Is she implying that Raiden is her mate? I can feel my blood slowly start to boil as I quickly shift my eyes into my wolf’s. I can see Gabrielle’s blurry, blue form standing right in front of me, locked in a state of shock. All the conversation around us has died down, and the atmosphere has shifted. It is definitely awkward.
“Will somebody please tell me what the hell is going on?” I raise my voice as no one seems to inform me what is happening between my mate and the girl in front of me.
Gabrielle quickly leans into me and grips my shoulders tightly. I yelp in surprise as she pushes her face into my neck and sniffs.
Ok, now I am even more confused. I can feel intense heat radiating off Raiden, his wolf is livid, I can feel him through our mate bond.
Gabrielle moves slightly around me and presses her nose into the back of my shoulder. I can hear her inhale deeply before pulling away and saying “mate” again.
Raiden’s claws are digging into the palm of my hand as I stand there completely baffled by what is happening. Suddenly the gears in my head start to turn, and I spin around to face Raiden.
“Easy now, it’s not me, Love,” I try to calm him, stroking my palm up and down the length of his arm gently.
It takes a few moments for him to calm down before I am able to turn my attention back to the Dire Mountain household.
“Gabrielle?” I ask, holding my hand out for her to find.
She steps closer and takes my hand almost immediately. “Yes, Luna.”
“Do you smell your mate on my left, or right shoulder?” I ask in a soothing voice.
She hesitates for a moment, before leaning in slightly and sniffing. “Left, Luna,” she answers.
A smile instantly reaches my ears as I turn around and lift my nose into the air, trying to pinpoint where he is in the room.
When I find him, I lift my arm and point straight at him.
Everything seems to happen in slow motion. Judging by the expression on Lily’s face, she knows exactly who Gabrielle’s mate is. At this very moment, I can’t care less who it is, just as long as it is not my Lily-Flower. It is rare for a wolf to receive two fated mates, but it is not impossible.
Everyone around us seems to quiet down and turn their attention towards us.
People are staring as Lily turns around and points her index finger towards the bar. My gaze travels through the crowd as people start stepping out of the way to see who she is pointing at until finally, it is only him left in the direction her finger is pointing at.
He laughs loudly at something the barman said and slams his drink down onto the counter. Probably feeling all the eyes on him, he turns to face us, looking quite confused and out of place.
I can hear Gabrielle gasp and take a careful step towards the bar.
“That is my brother, Axel,” Lily says with a smirk while lowering her arm.
Axel stares back at Gabrielle with his mouth hanging slightly agape, before getting off the barstool and walking through the crowd to meet her.