A gift for the Gods
Kona stood on the edge of a cliff, behind the shadow of an upturned boulder. She was spying on her own pack, as ridiculous as it sounds. The party was getting louder by the minute and a bit more sexual than she was prepared for. Do Lycans participate in orgies? Because it was getting rather close.
Aside from the lovemaking, it was oddly familiar. How many nights had she sat in the barn overlooking town and watched her family party? Now she realized it wasn’t her family that kept her out of the fun. It was herself. Kona never put herself out there. She didn’t know how to be a part of them.
Footsteps sounded behind her and from the scent she knew it was Tally. She hardened herself against him, still pissed/humiliated. She had never thrown herself at a man and therefore had never been denied. What was worse was she hadn’t expected Tally to actually say no.
Tally stood beside her and for the first few minutes said nothing. Perhaps he was feeling nostalgia as she was, remembering a family that no longer existed.
“How long are you going to be mad at me?”
Kona rolled her eyes and bitterly thought, ‘forever’.
If the only way to get her into a conversation was to start an argument, then that’s what Tally had to do. Kona was like fire. The only thing she responded to was lighter fluid. “You gonna ignore me? Tsk. That’s mature.”
Kona spun on her foot but Tally was ready for it and stepped in front of her. She narrowed her eyes, “Get out of my way.”
“You were drunk--”
“And that meant what? I didn’t know what I was doing?”
“You had too much going on to think correctly--”
“Just shut up. You’re only pissing me off.” Kona snapped around, facing the edge of the cliff once more. She wanted to run away from him but there was nowhere to go. She thought about jumping into the rapids below but she wasn’t sure she’d survive the fall.
“I was trying to be respectful.”
“You were being a dick.”
“So let me get this straight. If I would have stayed, I’d be a dick. But because I left, I’m a dick.” Tally tossed his hands up in the air, “There’s no winning with you.”
Kona growled back, “You should know that by now.”
His aggravation was slipping. His frown slowly became a smirk as he observed her. Her own anger faded and she dropped her head with a smile.
Tally took a step toward her. Just that movement made his heart race. What would have happened if he hadn’t let Leylanni get to his head? How many hours had he wasted thinking about it already? How many hours would he waste in the future, altering the past and succumbing to her advances?
Hesitantly, he reached out a hand, to touch her, to pull her in and kiss her again. But just before he did, Tally dropped his hand, bowing his head. “Can we talk about what’s really upsetting you? Lorcan?”
“No, I don’t--”
“I know what happened.” He murmured, “Sort of.” He watched her as she retreated, pulling away. “I can’t imagine how you feel.”
“I feel fine.”
“You can pretend with everyone else, Alpha, but please don’t pretend with me.”
Kona closed her eyes, wrapping her arms around herself. Her walls were trembling. She hated it, how he managed to read through her. “Stop deflecting.” She called him out. “You said you loved me and then left me.”
“I’m not deflecting. You are. And in case you haven’t realized, you said nothing back. So I think I had every right to walk away.”
“Is that what you’re waiting for? Me to tell you ‘I love you’? Me throwing myself at you yesterday wasn’t proof enough?”
“You also threw yourself at Alec so no, it’s not any kind of proof.”
Kona’s eyes widen.
Tally stepped back, knowing he said the worst thing possible. Talking to her was so frustrating sometimes because she spun shit around. Like a damn widow spider weaving a web.
He put a hand up, “I didn’t mean--”
“To call me a slut?”
“We’re not getting anywhere. You won’t deal with what happened with Lorcan and you are taking it out on me. All the time you were ever pissed at your father, you would take it out on anyone that got in your path. I’m done.”
“Fine.” Kona surrendered with bitterness on her lips, “Let’s talk about Lorcan. You told me you loved me and then didn’t stick around. What was I supposed to do? How could I marry him after that? I couldn’t defeat him. He exposed his power and I couldn’t win. So I did what you told me to do. I wasn’t faster, or stronger, or smarter. I was crueler.”
The tears came unhindered then.
Tally swept her up in his arms, comforting her the way he’s been wanting too. Her trembling was violent and her nails dug in his shoulders as she clung to him.
“I tricked him, I cheated. I’m--”
He clenched her hair, his lips at her ear, “There are no rules or laws to surviving, Kona.”
It took ten minutes for her to calm down. When she stepped back, he pushed her hair out of her face, his hands cupping her cheeks, brushing her tears away with his thumbs. She held onto his wrists, looking up at him, feeling weightless.
Looking into his face, she could finally see his love. It was like a shooting star, rare and so hard to see but for a moment, it was real and tangible. Right now, there was nothing else in the world she wanted than to finally tell him how she felt. “I won. For you, Tally. I won for you. I love you.”
The admittance shattered him, breaking every wall, every stone he placed to keep himself sheltered from her. He felt all the chains drop from him. There was nothing he could do to stop himself from kissing her.
In a crazy desperation, Tally pressed his lips to hers, sweeping her up in his arms, clinging to her. Her arms wrapped around him, gripping him harshly as she molded into him. Her body felt like silk draping over him.
Slowly, hesitantly, reluctantly, they parted for air, breathing into each other. Tally rested his forehead on hers. She smiled, gazing into his eyes, “That’s what I’ve been wanting. How did you learn to kiss so well?”
Tally smirked, proud of such a trivial achievement. Considering he had zero practice, he thanked all the romance movies he watched in preparation for such a day.
But the smile didn’t last. The chains that had fallen off weren’t far away. They were slinking back, clipping around his ankles.
“Tally.” Kona moved in to kiss him again but he slightly turned from her.
“I was trained to do what is best for you, Kona. To know what’s best even if you don’t see it. No matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t give you what you sought last night.”
She gripped his shirt, “Did it ever occur to you that I’m a grown woman and can make my own decisions? You don’t get to chose what is best for me.”
“I was trained--”
“Break your training.”
“You are asking me to change who I am.”
“I’m asking you to be more than just a soldier.”
Tally released her, stepping backward with a bowed head. He knew she was right but he didn’t know how to do it, how to break it. Alec said the same thing. He would have to override all the orders plugged into his subconscious, like rebooting a computer.
Kona watched him, waiting for him to figure out how to do it but it seemed harder than she thought it would be. If he couldn’t do something as simple as thinking for himself, then what did that mean about his love?
“You said you loved me.” Kona began, “How can I trust what you feel? How can I believe that the love you have for me isn’t forced there by years of brainwashing? How can you trust it? For years, that’s all I thought it was. I figured whatever you felt was a soldier’s affection. Not the love of a man. But my love, Tally, my love isn’t coerced or compelled. I see you and I know my place is with you. It was so hard for me to act like I did last night because I never want to abuse my power over you. But I…” Kona rubbed a tear from her cheek, “But I needed you. I still need you.” She admitted with a bowed head.
Tally blinked back tears, clenching his teeth as he turned his head, looking to the dark. He hadn’t realized how much it would mean to him, to hear her say it. Only in his dreams had he ever imagined that she felt something for him. He knew he was her friend. She trusted him better than most. She relied on him, believed in him, put her life in his hands. But never had he thought that she loved him.
Now it was going to be even harder to do what he had to do.
“Tally.” She murmured, stepping closer. “I love you.” Her trembling fingers reached out for him and he gripped them bringing them to his lips. He pressed his lips harshly against her skin, going over all the possibilities, all the futures that they could have, all the happiness that he would finally possess.
She stretched out her fingers over his chin, “The gods made you for me. And the gods don’t make mistakes.”
He closed his eyes, leaning into her palm, clenching her wrist. That was the problem wasn’t it? The gods wanted him there, to use him, to end the world, right? How could he be a part of what destroys her?
Kona swallowed, closing her eyes, licking her lips. She was afraid to say anything else. She had been vulnerable yesterday and he had humiliated her by walking away. If it happened again, the damage would be unfixable. “Tally…”
His thumb landed on her lips, stopping her and she opened her eyes to find his squeezed shut. He grit his teeth before he murmured, “There are many men out there fit to be your equal. That can challenge you. That can mentally and physically keep up with you.”
“What are you saying this for?”
A tear fell down his cheek and Kona stepped back. He met her gaze, unwilling to step forward to keep her there.
“You’ll find someone better than me.”
Kona shook her head, “That’s your training talking. Aren’t you even going to try--”
“I have tried.” He interrupted harshly. It was anger for himself, for his mentor, for everyone that ever told him he wasn’t enough. “You think this is what I want? But you are an Alpha, Kona--”
“I know what I am. The difference between us is I don’t care.”
“That’s the freedom you are given. A gamma doesn’t have that luxury. It’s what’s best for you.”
“You’re supposed to be what’s best for me.”
“And I will always be here for you.”
The words meant something else. It meant he wasn’t going to fight his training. He wasn’t going to fight for her. She had finished exposing her heart and he still denied her. It would have broken her if she allowed to. Instead, she rebuilt her walls alone, using her anger as cement. One brick at a time until she stood before him with a straight back and a flawless gaze. “You’re right.” She swallowed, rubbing the wetness from her face, deciding then and there she was never going to be weak in front of him again. “I deserve someone better than you. Quid--”
“Quid is gamma.” Tally bit brutally, overwhelmed so suddenly with hate. His wolf couldn’t handle the idea of her with anyone less suitable.
“He may be, but at least he realizes it’s my choice.” She turned away.
“Alpha.” She bit back as she left.
Tally waited until she was gone before he spun toward the boulder, smashing his fist against it. It cracked around his knuckles, leaving an indent in the stone. He broke a finger or two and shredded his knuckles. But the pain was welcome. Blood dripped into the dirt below as he flexed his fingers watching it.
He hated who he was. He hated how much his teachings kept him from the things he wanted. He had come so close to being with her, from finally being happy and fulfilling every dream he’s ever had and he hadn’t been able to grasp it. The chains had stopped him, hindering him, keeping him in his place.
“I don’t understand you.”
Leylanni approached, tiptoeing from the treeline. She knew how to move, how to be invisible. When one is hiding from an enemy, it’s best to learn to be quieter than a serpent shifting in the dirt.
Tally flexed his fingers as the wounds began to heal. “I’m sure you don’t.”
“Why deny her when she is apparently in love with you?”
He picked the last pebble from his skin and waited for the wound to close. “If I mean nothing to her, my betrayal won’t hurt her. And if I die, well, that won’t hurt her either.”
Tally leaned his shoulder against the same rock, watching the bonfire in the distance. “There’s a part in the prophecy.” He hesitated because he didn’t want to put into the air, least the gods were listening. “‘The snake will strike by the fading sun.’”
“And you believe yourself to be the snake?”
“In greek myth, snakes are guardians.”
“The gods don’t like interference.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t like the world ending. We can’t always get what we want.” He turned back to the water, staring down off the cliff. He was tired of being tied to his place. Maybe he could break them, if he just jumped.
“But we can sure try.” Her voice was right behind him and her sharpened nails shoved into his back. He gasped, he choked, barely able to breath. Leylanni gripped his shoulder and whispered in his ear, “The gods thank you for your part.” She kicked him and he went flying through the air. Leylanni watched with a proud grin as his body disappeared into the rapids below.
She held up her bloody hand, the red sticky substance like black tar in the dark. It was a gift to the gods. They would finally bless her, after years of abuse. Her smile stretched as she brought the life fluid to her lips.