Chapter 17: Elizabeth
Three hours later, Elizabeth was sitting on the couch in Vincent’s house. One night away from Michael had ignited a starvation in both of them. They could not seem to stop touching other, making love to each other. Elizabeth bit the inside of her cheek. Love. She knew that is what she was feeling. The mating bond did not create love itself, just desire. What I feel for him is more than desire, she thought. She wanted to tell him, but she wondered if it was too soon. We have only known each for a few weeks now, how is this love already? She wondered. She had removed her bandage and allowed her mark to hide beneath her hair, and she wore a pink tank top and a pair of jeans shorts. She had felt suffocated with the bandage when it covered her mark, and her wolf despised it. Hell, she despised covering it. Hiding her mark implied shame of her mate, which was the farthest from the truth; she could not be prouder of who her mate was.
Vincent entered the house and walked over to her. He was wearing a black t-shirt with a pair of jeans. This conversation can only mean one thing, she thought. He must have figured out that Michael is my mate. She had not voiced this concern to Michael because she did not want to worry him just yet. Michael had not slept well last night, and she worried that he would want to come with her to Vincent’s if she had voiced her concern. If, by some miracle that was not the topic of this conversation, she did not want to disrespect her Alpha by bringing a guest to their meeting. Vincent sat down beside her and rested his arm on the back of the couch behind her shoulders.
“How was your first set of swim lessons today?” Vincent asked.
“Very well,” Elizabeth smiled. “Two children, their parents, and even Michael learned how to swim today.”
“He returned earlier than I thought he would.”
“I guess he wanted to watch the swim lessons, so he made sure to return early.”
“Does he not trust you with his pack?”
“That’s not it,” Elizabeth said. “I think that he was just uneasy. Michael seems to trust me fine.”
“And do you trust him?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth said slowly. “Vinny, what’s wrong?”
“Absolutely nothing,” Vincent chuckled. “I’m just impressed that Michael is behaving around you.”
“Well, I’ve fought him already. I’m probably the only she-wolf to physically challenge him.”
“Don’t you do that,” she snapped. “Look at the progress that I’ve made with him. We have a mutual respect for each other.”
“Does Grayson know?”
“Why the hell would I tell him that Michael fought me? How exactly do you see that ending?”
“Fair point,” Vincent replied. “And Matthew?”
“I’m just waiting for him to try something first,” Elizabeth admitted. She had fought Michael as part of their friendship. Fighting to truly inflict pain on another for being an ass would be more satisfying, she thought. “So, what it is it, Vincent? Why did you need to speak with me?” she asked as she looked at him curiously. He inhaled sharply and ran a hand through through his hair. He does not look upset at all, she realized. If anything, he looks nervous. That can’t be right.
“With all of the progress that you have made helping Mountain acclimate, I wanted to ask something of you,” Vincent said. He took her hand and squeezed it softly. “I need you to be honest with me, though.”
“Okay,” she answered slowly. “You’re worrying me.”
“It’s nothing bad at all,” he added quickly. “I just…” he sighed and released her hand. “Your answer will change everything.”
“What is it?”
“Will you be my Luna?”
Elizabeth’s heart skipped a beat and she stared at him. “What?” she whispered. Surely, she could not have heard him correctly. She had spent decades working as a strong she-wolf in the hope of becoming Luna, of becoming more to her pack than just the Beta’s sister. “What?” she repeated, her throat dry.
“It’s something that I’ve considered for a long time,” Vincent said softly. He took her hand again as he continued. “Your resilience, your strength, your compassion. You would make a fantastic Luna.” I already am, she thought. Her stomach twisted in knots. She cared for her Alpha and respected him deeply. She did not want to decline, but she could not betray her newfound mate, either. She was Mountain’s Luna the second that he marked her. We need to tell them, she thought.
“Lizzy?” Vincent asked gently.
“Sorry,” Elizabeth whispered. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. “Thank you, Vinny.”
“Is that a yes?” he asked eagerly.
“That is an I appreciate the offer, but I need to think,” she smiled. “Why not wait until after Matthew leaves, when there is less stress?”
“Darling, an Alpha is always stressed out, but if you accepted then I’d like to advise Matthew in person properly,” he whispered. He kissed her hand lightly. She flinched as her wolf growled at the contact. Her wolf had no objection to him holding her hand, but kissing her hand was intimate. And all intimacies were reserves for her mate.
“Is it too bold to expect your answer before Matthew’s departure?” Vincent asked.
“Not at all,” Elizabeth smiled lightly. “You will have your answer before then.”
“I told you, your answer will change everything,” he whispered. His free hand cupped her face. Her breath hitched in her throat as his thumb grazed her bottom lip. His brown eyes brightened into an auburn as he gazed into her blue ones intensely. “You truly are fascinating. I’ve seen it for years. I just didn’t want to complicate things.”
“What if I say no?” she whispered breathlessly.
“Then you say no,” he answered softly as a light sadness dulled his eyes. “And I will have missed my chance. Before that, though,” he whispered. He lowered his head and kissed her lips tenderly. Elizabeth focused her energy on restraining her wolf’s violent reaction. “I had to do that at least once,” he murmured as he pulled away.
A knock at the front door broke Vincent’s spell. Elizabeth exhaled suddenly, her wolf reminding her to breathe. Vincent stood up and crossed the room. Now that Elizabeth could breathe, she was beginning to hyperventilate. Had he asked before she found Michael, before all of it, she would have accepted immediately. She knew that Vincent would not force her to accept, that her declining the position would be respected, but his kiss made it worse. He had feelings for her. I’ll hurt hum more than just not agreeing to be his Luna, she thought. A wave of guilt threatened to suffocate her. He had done everything and anything for her and Grayson. How can she say no?
“Passing the bitch back and forth, I see,” Matthew’s voice announced loudly. Elizabeth instantly jumped to her feet and her body tensed. Matthew wore a smug mask, his brown eyes dark. He wore a black muscle shirt with a pair of jeans. “Watch it, Matthew,” Vincent warned.
“You really should stop using that word,” Elizabeth said as she crossed her arms over her chest. “Where’s Liam?” She was surprised that Matthew had arrived alone.
“I’m not incompetent, I know how to behave around humans,” Matthew said.
“Are you sure about that?”
“What can I help you with, Matthew?” Vincent asked. He stood beside Elizabeth with his arms crossed over his chest.
“I would like your assistance in squeezing out who it is that Michael is mated it,” Matthew said as his eyes shifted to Vincent. “It is respectful to announce the new Luna to the Alphas in his presence, and he is refusing to tell either of us.” Elizabeth’s jaw ticked. This had nothing to do with respect, she thought. He just does not like that Michael is keeping a she-wolf hidden from him.
“Given your history with she-wolves that Michael enjoys, do you blame him?” Vincent asked. “I do not like it, either, but we need to be patient.”
“Or it’s someone that he’s ashamed of,” Matthew shrugged. “Think about it.” Elizabeth clenched her teeth. As much as she knew that was not true, she could not help the sliver of doubt that invaded her mind. Her wolf immediately clawed at her. No, that isn’t true, she reassured herself. It can’t be. He risked us potentially getting discovered just this morning because he missed me.
“I had not considered that,” Vincent said slowly. “Do you think his mate could be a poor choice for Luna?”
“When was the last time that there was actually a mated couple? It’s much more likely that he allowed a bitch to be careless and mark him.”
“I highly doubt it. You’re more careless than he is, and I don’t see a mark like that on you,” Elizabeth said.
“Still disrespecting me?”
“Nope, just stating fact.”
“We should ask Michael about her,” Vincent mused.
“From what it sounds like, he won’t just openly tell you,” Elizabeth said.
“Not her name, just questions about her,” Vincent said. “Matthew brings up a valid point.”
“You really think he’ll answer them?”
“Christ, bitch, how many Alphas do you doubt?” Matthew snapped. “You’re even doubting yours.”
“Watch it,” Elizabeth warned.
“Not disrespecting, just stating fact,” Matthew mocked.
“Watch your tongue, Matthew,” Vincent growled. “I allow my people to speak their minds, and she is a close friend of mine.”
“So, you allow a bitch to blind you from obvious disrespect?”
“She is not disrespecting me, she is offering her own insight,” Vincent said.
“Matthew,” Elizabeth growled a warning.
“Honestly, Vincent, you know better,” Matthew continued, ignoring Elizabeth. “You allow this bitch to openly disrespect Alphas because you care about her? That will make you a weak Alpha who is unfit to rule his pack, if it hasn’t done so already.”
Elizabeth snarled and her fist connected to Matthew’s nose with a satisfying crunch. She would tolerate Matthew talking poorly of her, but her Alpha was a different story. Vincent was a different story. Once it was announced, her Alpha would automatically become Michael, but Vincent was her pack’s Alpha. And how I feel for my pack, and my second brother, will never change. “Say what you want about me, but you leave his position out of it,” she seethed.
“You just fucking hit me! Your bitch just hit me and you’re going to let it slide? What kind of Alpha are you?”
Elizabeth punched Matthew again. “I warned you,” she growled. Matthew snarled and punched her in the face in response. Before she could react, he wrapped a hand around her throat and slammed her back to the ground. He straddled her waist and pinned her to the floor. Matthew opened his mouth to speak, but Elizabeth spit on his face. Matthew’s eyes exploded into gold as he began pummeling her face.