Once the clock had struck seven and the sun had officially set, Thea knew it was finally time for the trial and there was absolutely no denying it.
While she had no doubt in her mind that the letter that had been hand-delivered to her, it was unfortunate that Alpha Orpheus had managed to talk his way out of it. It was evident that many – if not all – of the council members sincerely doubted what he had to say, but there was just nothing that any of them could do without any solid evidence, and without any scent, not his handwriting and him coming up with a perfectly believable explanation; their hands were empty.
She had absolutely no idea in what direction tonight would end up going, but she just hoped that the council would end up ruling in her favour. And if they didn’t, well, that was something that she didn’t even want to think about right now.
Shaking her head, Thea sighed quietly before leaning down to place a kiss against her son’s forehead.
“Be good, okay, baby?” She hummed quietly while attempting to brush down the one strand of hair at the back that just refused to be tamed. “I’ll be back soon.”
“See you, mummy.” Malik grinned up at her like the little sweetheart that he was before returning his attention back to the video he was watching on her phone while eating his spaghetti.
After having left Malik in the safe hands of his favourite pack chef, she headed out of the kitchen and accompanied both Marcellus and Anastasia out of the pack house and into the field where it was all set to take place.
“How are you feeling?” Anastasia asked as she saddled up next to her friend, rubbing a comforting hand up and down her back.
“I’m not quite sure.” Thea chuckled tastelessly. “I just hope that whatever happens, it happens quick.”
“With all of this evidence against him, it should be a sure win.” Marcellus snorted as he rolled his eyes, falling behind slightly as the two women walked in front of him.
“Speaking of which,” she glanced back over her shoulder at him. “Do you know if the paternity test results have come back?” Thea asked even though she was certain that the result would come back as positive; absolutely no doubt in her mind.
“I do and they have.” He confirmed with a nod.
“And?” Anastasia prompted him with a teasing smile on her face, cocking a questioning brow at her mate.
“I’m not sure if it’ll be ethical of me to tell you.” Marcellus frowned with a conflicted expression on his face, reaching a hand up to rub his chin while in deep thought. “But then again, perhaps it wasn’t exactly ethical for the doctor to tell me either.”
“If you tell us, we won’t tell anyone that you did.” Thea couldn’t help but chuckle in amusement.
“That sounds fair.” He laughed softly as they continued toward the field.
Instead of answering aloud as he knew that other wolves may be listening in, he reached out and tapped them both on the shoulder. When Anastasia and Thea glanced back at him, his head moved up and down ever so slightly, and was over the both of them knew it.
Even though Thea already knew what the answer would be, she couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. Everything would have been so much easier if the result had come back negative, confirming that her and her son had absolutely no relation with the rapist but unfortunately, it just wasn’t as simple as that but rather, she knew would just be another complication in the case.
“I’m sorry it’s not better news, babe.” Anastasia murmured quietly as they stepped foot onto the field before making their way toward the front where the council and Orpheus were waiting for her already.
While Marcellus and Anastasia couldn’t join on her stage, they would be sitting front row and centre with all of the other Alpha’s.
“It’s fine. It’s not like it wasn’t something that I wasn’t expecting already.” She sighed as they all came to a stop; time for them to go their own ways now.
“We’ll be cheering you on.” Marcellus smiled softly at her as he came to a stand next to Anastasia, reaching out to wound his arm around her waist.
Even though the action was simple and instinctive for him, Thea’s eyes couldn’t help but linger on the innocent touch, unable to help but feel jealous of the beautiful relationship that they had; wanting something akin to that for herself.
Too bad her mate was a rapist and only wanted her around for reasons she was yet to discover.
“Thank you for joining us, Thea.”
Feeling more nervous than she was comfortable admitting, she simply nodded her head slightly before raising it, forcing herself to exude confidence and look her rapist directly in the eyes.
When he had violated her and taken her against her will in that dark alleyway all those years ago, she had been too scared to approach the local authorities. One because she knew absolutely nothing about him other than a few glimpses of his face which were clouded with how drunk she had been and two, because she was so drunk while still underage. Going into that whole mess, she would have to admit that she had gained entrance into a club and alcohol with the use of fake ID, something she knew would get her in even more trouble and not to mention the fact that it painted the situation in an even worse light.
Then there was the simple fact that one of the first questions her mother had asked her was what had she had been wearing, followed very closely by the astonishment that she had been raped while drunk out of her mind. Perhaps if her parents had been more forceful in her demanding that she report her assault, she wouldn’t be standing here with them today or rather, she would be standing in front of him now with both of them on either side of her for support but instead, she was the only human in sight, gearing up to take on an Alpha wolf in hopes of gaining justice which she should have demanded years ago.
She just hoped that it wasn’t too late now.
After recounting aloud exactly what had happened that night – the club, the drinks, the rape and then finally, staggering home and finding out that she was pregnant a few weeks later – Thea could barely push out any more words with how dry her throat had suddenly become.
When she coughed in hopes of clearing her throat so it would be easier to speak, she forced a grimace as one of the warriors from the Apo to Chaos pack jogged up to her with a cool, refreshing bottle of water in hand. If she could, she would refute the gesture in a second but with so many pairs of eyes on her, she didn’t dare to and instead, her grimace grew heavier as she was forced to accept it.
As she turned her head to glance at the crowd, her eyes grew big in size and her heart stopped beating for seconds as she finally noted just how many eyes were on her; wolves from all over the country as they were still here from the Mating ceremony yesterday.
Quick to uncap it, Thea raised the bottle and took a big swig from it, her throat not feeling as dry anymore but still not great.
“Feeling better?” Orpheus feigned concern as he watched her carefully, stuffing his hands in his pockets almost as if trying to hide something.
Before she could respond, not that she had any plans to, elder Maverick was quick to inject himself into the conversation even though Malachi was driving the trial as he was head of the council.
“Alpha Orpheus, if you could refrain from speaking to the defendant unless explicitly prompted to, that would be very much appreciated.”
“You stole the words right out of my mouth, Maverick.” Malachi hummed aloud before moving quickly to pick up where they had left off before her coughing fit. “Alpha Orpheus,” he turned his head to address the man in question. “Have you anything to say for yourself before we move onto the results of the paternity test?”
“Yes.” Orpheus stated proudly with a large grin on his face, almost as if he wasn’t currently on trial for being a rapist.
In fact, it just didn’t make much sense to her. While this whole situation was absolutely nerve wracking to her, it was truly him on trial for all the things that she had accused him yet he didn’t seem the least bit nervous.
On the contrary, the Alpha wolf appeared to be eating up all the attention that he was currently getting.
“I would like to start off by saying that everything my mate, Thea, has just said is a lie.”
“That’s a pretty bold claim to make, Alpha. Care to explain?” Malachi prompted him to continue with a calculating glint in his eyes, carefully glancing between the both of them, almost as if trying to figure out which one of them was lying due to their conflicting stories and personal recount of events.
“I thought you would never ask.” Orpheus chuckled aloud even though the situation was far from humorous, though his pack wolves seemed to agree as they all cheered on their Alpha.
“Let’s start off from the beginning.” He rubbed his hands together, almost as if getting ready to tell a story. “It appears that Thea had failed to mention the fact that we both actually met at the club when I told her that we were mates. We danced for a bit and had some drinks before decided to spend the night in a motel. It’s safe to say that I had the best sex of my life.” With a teasing glint in his eyes, he paused for dramatic effect and only carried on after winking at her. “But when I awoke, my dear mate was gone and the next time that I saw her was yesterday when I arrived for the Mating ceremony. To say that I was shocked after discovering her after so many years, not to mention the fact that we have a son, would an unbelievable understatement.”
“Your story is unbelievable.” Thea couldn’t help but scoff as she rolled her eyes.
“What part of it?” He questioned in a relatively cool tone, thought the darkness behind the pupils of his eyes spoke otherwise.
“All of it.” She bit back at him, refusing to step down, especially since he was painting her out to be a liar even though he had done all the disgusting things that she had said he had done. “I didn’t meet you at the club and I didn’t go back to the motel with you.”
“That’s not the way I remember it.” Orpheus hummed aloud before turning his head to glance at the council members, almost as if tyring to convince them that he was speaking nothing but the truth and it was indeed her story that was fabricated.
“And your story isn’t the way I would remember it.”
“I thought you said you were drunk?” He cocked a questioning brow in her direction, a thoughtful expression on his face. “How can you remember all of these details when you’re drunk?”
“I was drunk.” She couldn’t help but whisper in a quiet voice. “But even then, I think I’m able to know when I’m being raped.”
“How drunk are we talking here?” Orpheus hummed aloud as he rubbed a thoughtful hand under his chin. “On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not even buzzed and 10 being passed out, what number would you give to describe just how drunk you were?”
“I don’t know.” Thea shrugged as she rolled her eyes. “8?”
“8?” He couldn’t help but echo in a surprised voice.
“7?” She tried again even though she knew that it was too late and the damage had already been done. “These numbers don’t mean anything!”
“How can you expect us to believe you when you’ve just shown us just how quickly your answer can change?”
Thea opened and closed her mouth but she wasn’t able to get any words out, at a temporary loss of words.
Wanting to steer the conversation back on track, elder Malachi cleared his throat to grab both of their attention.
“Alpha Orpheus, do you remember Thea being drunk that night?”
“Yes.” He confirmed with a simple nod of his head.
“And were you drunk too?”
“Yes.” He nodded his head again, but was quick to explain. “Of course, I was drinking the heavier stuff which wolves would be able to get drunk on.”
“And the both of you slept together that night?”
“We didn’t sleep together! He raped me in an alley.” Thea answered the same time as he did. “Yes, in a motel room which I paid for and she left me in the next morning.”
“So, you admit to raping me?”
“Well, we were both drinking that night so I guess you could say that we took advantage of each other. However, once again, I must state that there is no rape between mates.”
“Bullshit!” Thea all but screamed at him, no longer able to control herself any longer. “You fucking raped me that night and we both know it!”
“Like I said, that’s not the way I remember it. Anyway, I thought you said earlier that you didn’t see my face.” Orpheus hummed aloud with a dark glint in his eyes, watching her carefully. “Or do you not remember that either?”
“I remember glimpses.” She couldn’t help but gulp, hating the fact that she kept stumbling over her words even though she was confident of the fact that he had raped her that night.
Unfortunately, it appeared that her greatest fear of no one believing her had come true, and she had no one to thank other than the rapist in question.
“Glimpses?” Malachi questioned with a light frown on his face. “Can you please explain, Thea?”
She took in a deep breath before starting, needing all the courage that she could get.
“He attacked me, forced me into the alleyway and raped me from behind so I didn’t explicitly see his face, but I saw glimpses of him.” Thea couldn’t help but gulp, pausing to take a sip of her water, seeking out some comfort in this very difficult situation. “I remember the colour of his eyes and the feel of his hands on my body. I remember the way he made me feel; disgusting and worthless but most of all, I remember his voice.”
“And it’s the same voice as Alpha Orpheus?”
“Yes.” She nodded her head without a slither of a doubt, and she sincerely hoped that it came across that way.
“How can you be so sure when you just admitted to being drunk off your mind?” Orpheus frowned lightly as he threw the question at her, purposely trying to get her to trip over her words again as that would only work in her favour.
“I think that’s enough!” Malachi raised his hand into the air to indicate that the discussion was now over and that they needed to move onto the next and last portion of the trial. “It appears that we’re just going round in circles now so let’s move on to the results of the paternity test now.”
Thea didn’t need to pay attention as he read aloud the small script on the piece of paper that one of the other elders handed him, already very much aware and confident of the fact that Malik’s father was none other the man standing in front of her even though she wished it wasn’t the case.
“And now, it’s time for the decision.” Malachi announced as he took a step back to join all of the other elders, the five of them standing in perfect formation. “There’s five of us here so one by one, we’re going to move to take a stand behind the person we believe to have told the truth about what really happened that night.”
“Elder Harriet, why don’t you go first?”
With absolutely no hesitation on her face or in her step, Harriet swiftly moved to stand behind Thea, reaching out to give her shoulder a reassuring squeeze as she knew just how difficult this trial must have been for her, especially having to go head to head with an Alpha wolf; one that was determined to clear his name.
Next followed Paulo who joined his mate in standing behind Thea but what happened next, shocked her.
As Marcellus’ father took a step forward, he sent her a pitiful look before turning his head and moving away from her, only coming to a stop once he was stood behind Alpha Orpheus.
In all of her shock, she must have zoned out as when she next blinked, she spied Deryck to have also backed Orpheus, leaving the decision in Malachi’s hands.
As the head of the council took a step forward, making sure to stand in equal distance from the both of them, he turned his head to glance at her. At the simple action; she soared with hope but very quickly – and rather painfully, one might add – was forced back down on earth as he took the first step away from her.
“I’m sorry, Thea.” Malachi began with an apology, causing her heart to plummet and all of her worse fears begin to come true. “But there were far too many inconsistencies in your story for me to believe it to be true.”
By the time Malachi made it behind Orpheus, Thea felt like she no longer knew how to breathe.
As the mixed reaction sounded aloud very quickly followed by whispers as they began discussing the outcome of this trial, no one was more shocked than Thea. Even though she had felt the direction start to plummet about halfway through when he had turned the tables on her and painted her to be the girl crying wolf – unironically, of course – she had hoped that the council would see reason but apparently not.
More than the decision, what surprised her the most was the expression on Orpheus’ face, nothing short of completely shocked and gobsmacked, almost as he, too had genuinely been afraid of losing the trial, especially since that would have also meant that he would have been forced to step down as Alpha.
As he blinked back at her, the shock wore off for the both of them, except for two very different reasons. While he was ecstatic with the result as it meant that there was no longer any steam being wafted up his ass, but she couldn’t help but feel completely the opposite.
When she blinked up at him, unable to look away despite how much she hated him in that moment, the sight of him just made her feel sick to her stomach. The loud cheers from the Apo to Chaos pack in celebration of their Alpha winning the trial as well as their Luna just made her feel all that much worse; not that any one of them cared.
“Pack your bags, mate.” He sneered at her with a mocking twinkle in his eyes. “We leave first thing in the morning.”
Instead of dignifying his statement with a response, Thea turned around and scurried away from the large crowd of wolves, unable to make eye contact with anyone as she rushed toward the pack house as quick as her little human legs could manage.
“Thea!” Her friend sounded from beside as she caught up easily. “Please don’t worry. We can file for an appeal.”
“And how long with that take?” Thea couldn’t help but cry out loud as she walked into the packhouse, barely being able to hold the door open behind her.
“No more than a few weeks.” Anastasia tried to assure her but it was no use. The damage had already been done and Thea knew that there was no reversing it, regardless of how strong of an appeal that they submitted. All that would happen would be lengthening out the process and making it even more torturous and uncomfortable than it already was.
“And I’m still going to have to live with him in the time that it’s going to take.” She groaned aloud as she stormed into the living room and dropped herself onto the sofa, leaning forward to bury her face in her hands; completely uncaring of the few strange looks that she was receiving from the few wolves that lingered around the pack house. “Regardless of what happens, this is it for me now.”
“We both know I’m completely fucked.” Thea couldn’t help but snort aloud before rolling her eyes, her actions more frustrated than malicious.
“Marcellus could challenge him.” The Luna wolf suggested, though even she sounded unsure when her voice wavered.
“Don’t be silly.” Thea sighed while shaking her head. “You can’t just start a war because we ended up getting the outcome that we didn’t want even though we expected it.”
“I promise this is not over, Thea.” Anastasia murmured quietly as she dropped herself onto the sofa next to her friend, an unsure look on her face. “I don’t know what’s going to happen or even what we’re going to do, but I promise that this is not over and soon, you won’t have to put up with him anymore. We’ll think of something to get you out of this mess.”
Even though Thea hummed aloud so as to be polite, she for sure didn’t believe Anastasia despite knowing that her friend was trying to be supportive and help her during this difficult time. Despite her not wanting to admit it, but the worst possible outcome had just been served, one she would have to live with for the imminent future.
With her near future looking darker than an unlit room with no hint of light, Thea wasn’t sure what she would do next.
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