I watch for another week as the sun rises and sets, ignoring my visitors as I spiral further and further into my depression. Sierra has been quiet of late... maybe she’s still pining for her mate… as am I.
Ozzy has been in my room, he’s tried to engage with me, but the energy to interact has escaped me. He even held me in his arms for a while and promised me everything would be ok, that it’d work out… very unlike him I recall thinking, but my shell of a body stayed vacant, expressionless and emotionless.
The next morning, I am awoken by a howl - Sierra is back.
Her howl was full of renewed, positive spirit as she hopped back and forth within my mind, full of vigour.
“Mmph… Stop… You’re making me feel dizzy”, I groan.
“No. None of that. Not today. Today is the day!” Sierra yips with excitement.
“The day I die? Yippee… finally”, I retort with sarcasm.
“Nope, the day you’re finally going to get your sad little arse out of bed”, she pants happily.
“Riiiight, sure”, I think rollover to go back to sleep.
“Mae. I’m being serious. If you don’t get up today, I will be taking your body hostage and moving us from this prison your bedroom has become myself”, she responds deadpan.
“What’s the point?” I ask.
“The point? The point!? First of all, because if I don’t get to run soon, I will chew my own damn leg off!”
“But then you won’t get to run anyway”, I snap back sassily.
Sierra growls in response, “And secondly, yet most importantly, there is a Lycan out there that needs us right now”.
“Needs us? He doesn’t want us, did you forget that?”
“Well no… but even if he doesn’t want us like that right now, he still needs us, we are his mate. The way he looks at us, I can feel it... they want us just as much as we want them”.
This grasps my attention.
“You think they feel the same?”
“Yes. Yes, I do”, she nods with finality. “If you can feel the bond, then, surely he can too, it affects him as much as it does us, I’m sure of it!”
“Hmm”, I ponder.
If he somewhere, even if it’s deep, deep down, buried at the bottom of the pile of his hopes and dreams, if he wants me, even if it’s just an inkling; just as I do him… I can use that in my favour.
A determined smirk spreads across my face as my legs swing from the bed and gently touch the floor for the first time in weeks.
The sound of happy, blissful conversation fills the hallway as I make my way to the breakfast room; the fresh smell of bacon, eggs and toast floods my airways.
As I round the corner, the room is suddenly deathly silent.
Before I know it, I’m dragged into my mother’s embrace.
“Oh, Mae! I’m so happy to see you! Right, let’s grab you some food. Quick” She starts waving a hand at my dad, who’s trying to mind his own business and stuff some sausages into his mouth. “Stack Mae up a plate of food, quick, quick, quick”, she flaps as if I might suddenly disappear or change my mind.
He nods but looks longingly at his own plate of breakfast.
I can’t help but smile at them, forever worrying about me, though who can blame them, I’m a bit of a trainwreck, let’s face it!
I feel the trail of fire meet my skin whenever Rex looks in my direction, I can feel his eyes scanning over me, taking in my training attire, lingering on my chest and arse, which are hugged tightly by my sports bra and matching leggings. His gaze lingers on my stomach, reminding me that my skin is on show.
I can’t help but wonder if he likes the view.
Rex’s chair slides backwards, catching my attention. I notice his plate is still mostly full.
“No, please sit”, I request. “I know how my presence is… painful, for you. I’m just grabbing a bite and then I’m off for a run before combat training”.
Rex’s mouth hangs open, just ever so slightly. I don’t think he expected me to acknowledge him in this way. He likely still believes I’ll be doing the chasing.
Nope. Not the new Mae. The new Mae chases no man… torments and seduces? Now… that’s an entirely different ball game.
I grab a slice of bacon and some toast from the plate my dad has started to stack, give him a swift peck on the cheek and sashay my way out of the breakfast room, making sure I exaggerate the swing to my hips.
I smirk as I feel the familiar lustful gaze following the swings of my plump bottom.
There’s the distinct sound of a slap on the back before I hear Idris confirm, “You’ve got a feisty one there!” Followed by an audible gulp.
One small victory for Mae! I cheer to myself.
At some stage during my laps around the training grounds, that heated stare found its way to me. I found myself showing off, pushing myself harder, going faster, showing him what I’m capable of – some might even call it peacocking, I suppose.
Coming to a halt, I call out to him, “You do realise I can tell you’re staring, right?”
Rex, who wasn’t as far away as I’d initially expected, rounds one of the combat terrain walls. A cool, yet collected expression on his face.
“I guess I can admit it’s hard not to look” Rex states with almost smug confidence.
“Oh, really?” I say in a sultry tone as I turn my back on him. I give him one last flirtatious look over my shoulder before spreading my legs and stretching downwards until my palms meet the dirt.
“Why on earth would that be?” I state knowingly, stretching out the backs of my legs.
A deep rumble of a sigh leaves his mouth, causing me to give him an upside-down smirk through my legs.
“You know, I could really do with some help with my stretches”.
“Which stretches, exactly?” He responds more eagerly than I had anticipated.
With a seductive smile, I respond, “When I lay down and bring my knee to my chest, I need someone to push my raised knee down for me… I can’t quite get the stretch as deep as I would like”, I say with a pop of the P.
Rex’s cheeks flush ever so slightly in the most adorable of ways; his eyes dart around as if he’s looking for a way to escape.
I take a chance, stepping closer to Rex with my head bowed ever so slightly, I look up from beneath my eyelashes, “So… would you help me?” I ask with a sweet pout.
He breathes slow, deep breathes, his eyes that of molten lava.
Rex surprises me by stepping even closer to me, so close I can taste the mint of his breath.
“How deep do you want me to go?” He growls in my ear, sending shivers of pleasure to erupt from my toes all the way up to my scalp; my eyes roll back involuntarily, a tiny moan parts my lips, thinking about depths he could reach.
“Ok, everyone! Today we will be learning how to combat Lycans!” Eddie announces.
Wait? Who… what!?
I snap back to reality, seeing Rex take a step away from me, leaving my body feeling empty without his warmth. He looks at me with a dastardly smirk on his face that I just want to kiss off. He played me!
“Fuck”, I curse under my breath, eliciting a low chuckle from Rex.
Who is supposed to be seducing who here!?
I suppose that makes it one-all? Sierra chimes in amused, causing me to glare back at her.
“Rex, please would you help me demonstrate?” Eddie requests.
Slowly, he peels his gaze away from me and confirms he is happy to demonstrate with a nod.
“Great! Thank you, Rex. If you wouldn’t mind shifting into your Lycan, so I can demonstrate the weak and blind spots to a Lycan form”, Eddie requests, not noticing the unease on Rex’s face.
Something about the look that Rex gives me tells me that if he shifts – it would spell danger for us.
Rex might be able to refuse me… but his Lycan, he wants us, he wants to make us his, and a full shift is a completely different level of control for our furry counterparts.
As much as I want to be his, I don’t want it like this. I don’t want Rex to be forced into losing his resolve by a mere training demonstration. No… I want the satisfaction of knowing he has chosen to be with me, not forced into it by his Lycan.
“Umm, Eddie?” I speak up.
“My father once taught me some self-defence against Lycans. Moves that were tried and tested against Beta Idris himself. Would you mind if I showed the group?” I request with a bright smile.
Eddie ponders for a moment, “Hmm, I tell you what, Mae. How about we fit that into the next session? I’ve got quite a bit I need to work through today!” He responds, completely oblivious.
Rex’s body has become taut, rigid as he chews the flesh of his lip anxiously.
“Did we hear correct that you need some Lycans as demonstrations?” Dinah chirps in as she merrily saunters her way onto the training compound with Idris in tow; both of their hair is windswept as if they’ve just run here.
“Dinah, Idris! I wasn’t expecting you today! However, I’m glad we can have more volunteers. Rex here was about to be our demonstrator”.
“Actually, Eddie. I’m not feeling so good, I’m going to skip today”, Rex discloses.
With an understanding nod and a gentle pat on the back, Eddie wishes Rex a hasty recovery.
Rex parts the crowd, making no effort to walk around the outside. He stops at my side when he reaches me, though he’s still looking straight ahead.
“Thank you” he starts, “For trying to help”. Before I can respond, he continues to leave the training grounds.
The sun has set by the time the training session is over, from here on out, we will all be working our arses off to be in the best fighting condition possible. The Lycan King plays dirty from what I have seen, he could strike at any moment, and if he does we must all be ready, even the children’s group went on for an extra couple of hours.
Dinah and Idris believe the hybrids in our pack will be the key to our victory if a war lands on our doorstep. Our abilities can keep the Lycans guessing before making use of the advantage and taking them by surprise.
As everyone heads back towards town or the palace, I take a detour towards the woods. Although my muscles ache, I want to clear my head, just to be at peace with some quiet nature for some time.
I halt, staring towards the direction that will take me in the direction of mine and Rex’s spot. I haven’t been back there for some time now. I feel my happy place has been tainted, tarnished by the evil that was Caleb. It’s now the spot where I met the devil. No longer my happy space where I was young and carefree with my young love.
With sadness in my heart, I continue onwards without paying much attention to where I’m going. I follow anything that I see that intrigues me or captures my eye, whether it be a lone white birch amongst its brown trunked companions, a toadstool growing at the base of a tree, or the silver rays of the moon peeking through the treetops.
Hugging my arms to my chest, I think of how different life could’ve been if Caleb hadn’t attended the palace all of those years ago. How different things would be for Rex and me. We would be marked and mated by now. Maybe even with a pup of our own running around our legs and keeping us on our toes.
I picture what they might have looked like. I see honey brown curls draped wildly in front of piercing silver eyes; they look like a rambunctious child, always wishing to be amongst nature. I imagine the struggles we would have tearing the child away from the outside world and plonking them in a nice warm bath full of bubbles. Rex and me laughing along to a story our child tells us as we pick out the dirt and leaves from their messed hair.
A lone tear rolls down my cheek as it dawns on me that the past is what’s been holding me back, the what-ifs, the why’s, the maybe’s. No, no more. It’s time I accept the past. Accept that those idyllic dreams were never mine to dream. I feel a small spark flare to life again, one I felt like I had lost, I feel like I can see clearly for the first time in weeks, the colours are brighter, more refined.
Whatever happens, happens… I’ll look forward to the future, whatever that might look like for me and take each day as it comes.