Chapter 24 - Full Moon
The snow clung to my skin and my clothes, the sweat and dirt that had coated me like a second skin, now freezing to me. It wasn’t cold enough to snow, as the rain bean down on my back, soaking me in seconds, chilling me to the core, extinguishing every inch of warmth in my body.
I longed for sleep, I longed to close my eyes and drift off into the darkness. Where my mate greeted me, where breathing wouldn’t be so hard. I longed for the touch of her smooth skin and the smile of her lips, for the comfort of her touch.
His long black nails scrapped under my chin, catching on the stubble and his skin seemed to burn my own, “no, no, no,” he whispered, forcing my face upward in a grip that was too tight, “you’re not allowed die, not yet,” something burned in his eyes and the light of day showed me that they were not black, but a dark blue, swirling like the night sky.
Releasing me and dropping me back down to the ground, my body hit the hard stone and my arms slipped into the icy mush, the snow soaked with water, freezing and too warm at the same time. So cold, that it burned, I felt so much, that I was numb.
“Not until I take everything that you care so dearly about, I will take you lands, and your mate from you, you will nothing and then, only then will you die,” he said, his voice catching on the wind, and I rolled to look down the slope where we stood. We weren’t even that far away from the pack boundary; I could see it’s glow, the shimmer, the sign of hope.
* * * * * * * * * *
I blinked, several times, letting my mind clear. Apparently, I didn’t need to be asleep to see through my mate’s eyes, to feel the cold and the chill, the pain and the lack of life within him. My nightmares no longer haunting the night, they were now shadows. Where there was light, they too lurked and they lurked in number.
I closed my eyes and took in a deep breathing, grounding myself, I clutched the chairs that I was seated on and focused into the conversation that was happening not too far away, their mindless chatter, the idle gossip. The words of someone without anxieties.
“Are you okay?” Jamie asked, his voice softly whispered in my ear.
“Yes,” I replied without hesitation, opening my eyes and looking about the room.
The lights of the gymnasium pooled the room with a warm light as the last of this evenings ceremony guests walked into the hall, it was my first time ordering a full moon ceremony without Nate. And thankfully, tonight was mostly about tradition. Tonight, there were no new pack members being sworn in, I’d already received the official reports from the assorted Betas, so tonight, was just a room full of well dressed werewolves, fine wine and food.
Tonight, this was the last place I wanted to be. Dressed in a gown made of velvet, soft and light weight it draped across my body like a blanket, and I felt the lingering gazes pass over me as I brooded, as I swirled a pen in my fingers, I looked back down at the list of events in front of me.
“I got you a drink,” Patricia said, passing me a glass, “I thought you could do with a stiff drink, you look very miserable up here without Nate,” she added, holding out the rum and coke towards me.
“Thanks Pet,” Jamie said grabbing and knocking it back, “just what I needed.”
Patricia’s mouth fell open and Grace turned around, stifling a laugh, “that was for your Luna,” Patricia hissed, glaring at Jamie.
“It’s fine, I don’t feel like drinking,” I smiled and gave Jamie a small nod.
“Are you okay? I tried talking to Nate last night, but he didn’t answer.”
“He’s been busy Pet, the rouge problem in the North is a lot more serious than anyone had anticipated.”
“Too busy to talk to me?”
“Too busy for everyone Pet,” I said, “how are you going? Have you any more of an idea about who your mate is?” I asked.
Patricia’s face fell and she dropped her gaze, “no, I don’t know who he is,” she took a deep breath and looked over her shoulder, “excuse me Al, my mother wants to talk to me,” and she walked away from the stage.
“That was harsh Al,” Jamie said placing a hand on my shoulder.
I shrugged it off, “it’s easier to lie to less people, Jamie,” I said and I hated how my voice sounded, I hated it all. “Plus, I’m the Luna of the Moon pack – I must live up to the reputation of my mate.”
Jamie nodded and took a step back, “of course Luna.”
“Don’t do that,” I replied, looking back over my shoulder at him.
He swallowed, “you used your Alpha voice, Alice,” he replied frankly.
“I’m sorry,” I replied, and I suddenly realised how desperately I didn’t want to be here. I stood from the chair like throne that Nate usually occupied, and walked down the steps of the hall, someone’s hand brushed against my arm but I brushed it off.
It was rising inside me, the undeniable urge to throw up. Not because of anything apart from the fact, that I was expected to stand upon that stage and throne, pretend that the world was fine, when I could barely stand at all. The doors of the hall opened and closed behind me and I tore at the skirt of the dress, and unlaced the side, heaving in deep breaths, allowing myself to breath.
My head spun and I grabbed onto a tree to steady myself – when did I come so far into the forest? When did the ground become laden so thickly with snow? I looked down at my own hand, but it wasn’t mine – it was Nate’s.
The cold gaze of the warlock looked back at me, as he clutched my face – no, Nate’s face. “Hello Luna,” he hissed softly, “how did you get in there?” he asked.
“Alice,” Jamie said, his hands burning my skin as he grabbed my arms, giving me a rough shake, “Alice, are you okay?”
I blinked and looked at his warm blue eyes, and I gagged, my knees collapsing, and Jamie stepped to the side, not allowing me to fall, but quickly avoiding the bile that I coughed up. “Get the pack doctor,” Jamie growled at someone, and I felt his warm hand now running down my back as he tried to calm me.
But it wasn’t the hand that I wanted on my back, it wasn’t his touch that I craved.