Chapter 1 Double Trouble
I wake up to the sunlight streaming through the window. In the heat of the moment, I forgot to close the blinds last night. Well, other things were more important.
It’s winter now, and although the weather is usually predictable for December, it seems like today we will be graced with sunshine. I should feel happy. I woke up to the sun; I have no classes today and I’m off work… no duties for the pack today. My life is simple and uncomplicated. I have loving parents and a great twin brother. I have friends; I have everything.
I swallow down the knot I feel in my throat. Breathing gets more and more difficult as I feel the darkness crawl through my heart.
I had everything.
Where the fuck are you!?
I startle when I hear my brother’s voice in my mind. That’s the downside of having a twin… they can always mind link you. I could literally be somewhere at the fucking north pole, and he would be able to mind link. In this case, he at least pulled me out of my pity party, so I should be thankful.
Why? I grumble, well aware he won’t shut up until I react. I turn my head a bit, eyeing the beautiful girl next to me. She is blonde, and pretty cute. We met yesterday at the club. Part of me would love to meet her again, but I never fuck with the same girl twice. I don’t want to get attached.
Are you fucking serious? Henry growls.
I can hear a third voice chiming in. Calm down, it says. We’re meeting in ten minutes. Anthony can still make it.
Another speciality of being twins. We can also mind link with each other’s wolves and hear each other at the same time. It’s weird as fuck at first, but now it just feels normal.
Ten minutes? Meeting?
You forgot!? Henry huffs. I can’t believe you.
Stop yelling, I mutter. I’m coming as fast as possible. Where are we meeting?
At the new coffee shop, Henry says, trying to sound calm, while I can feel his voice tremble in anger. He has always been bad at hiding his emotions, especially when he is pissed.
Unfortunately for him, I’m not scared of him one bit.
The mention of the coffeeshop rings a bell though. Oh, we meet Elise and Elodie! I jump out of bed. Oh shit, I don’t want to be late for that. I actually like them. They are not just anyone to me. I’m close to the Council, I tell Henry. You can get going. We’ll meet there.
Henry sighs. You stayed the night out again.
Is that a question or an accusation? I ask, while I hurry to the bathroom and take the fastest shower ever. I’m a pro at speed-showering. Then I slip into my clothes, sniffing slightly. Good, they don’t smell bad.
Neither, just a statement.
It’s never just a statement, I point out.
Can we stop arguing about that now? Henry says, like he wasn’t the one starting it.
You cannot dictate my life, I tell him evenly. We’re both going to be Alphas, and you being born thirteen minutes before me doesn’t mean you need to act like an older brother all of a sudden. It’s not fair, and I regret it the moment I said it. Henry hardly ever acts as a condescending older brother. For as long as I can remember, we always had each other’s back. I’ve just been in a bad mood recently. Ever since we returned from our mission to free a suppressed back. It’s not Henry’s fault though. Sorry, I apologise. That was shit.
I’m sorry too, he admits, making me grin. Henry never apologises to anyone. Alphas in general don’t like to admit they are wrong, but Henry is even worse than the worst. I’m literally the only one who knows this side of him.
Aw, you’re cute, I tease.
Shut up, asshole.
I love you too. I smirk. See you in ten minutes.
With that, I close the mind link, hoping he won’t push through it again, but fortunately, this time, he doesn’t. Before I can go, my eyes fall on the girl again. For a minute I contemplate just leaving, but that would be such a douche move, and I try to never do it.
I sit down at the edge of the bed, gently touching her shoulder.
“I’m surprised you’re saying goodbye,” she mutters.
She must have woken up when I was in the bathroom, and I was too preoccupied with arguing with Henry that I missed her heartbeat changing slightly, showing she was awake. “I’m always saying goodbye.”
She turns to the side to look at me. “We agreed on it being just for one night,” she points out.
I nod. “It would still feel wrong to just leave you, like you were a disposable object. You’re not.”
She blinks and looks a bit flustered. “You should really go, before I retract on my promise and fall for you.”
Her words almost make me jump up in fear.
“What made you so scared?” she finally asks into the silence. “It was just a joke.” She looks at me thoughtfully, but I’m not allowing her to dig deeper.
“A mind link just came through,” I lie skilfully, before I nod at the bedside table. “There is the card to check out with. I’ve ordered breakfast for you, so take your time and order whatever else you want.”
She sits up a bit. “Bye Anthony.”
I try not to think of her when I leave the room. She didn’t look sad or angry. She is a Lycan too and told me she is waiting for her mate, and is not dating seriously for that reason. I make sure to only ever sleep with women that are just in for a short adventure. Against popular belief, not everyone wants to put a ring on your finger just because you are a future Alpha.
When I leave the hotel, a feeling of emptiness fills me. It was gone momentarily when I was with my last flirt, but now that I’m on my own, it’s back with full force. I’m not going to be alone for long though, as I try to tell myself, I’m going to meet with Henry and our friends soon.
My wolf is silent too, like most of the time ever since we returned from the last mission. I’ve tried to call out to him. I’ve even begged and I fucking never beg, but he keeps silent. It’s the reason I’ve started to bed strangers at night. The silence is deafening, and I need to numb the feeling.
It’s not my fault, I think bitterly.
“Just in time,” Henry’s voice interrupts my trail of thoughts. I didn’t even realise I had reached the coffeeshop.
“Good morning to you too,” I tell him.
“It was good for me,” he deadpans. “But not for you. You look tired.”
“Well, I had a lot of action last night,” I lie, deciding to distract him.
It works because he rolls his eyes and turns to the coffeeshop. It’s winter, so we head inside to meet with the girls. They’re already waiting for us. Elise waves at us while Elodie nods, acknowledging our presence. Just like Henry and I, they are identical twins. Some of our friends think it would mean that we share a lot of similarities, but we don’t.
We were on the mission together, and hated each other at first, but eventually we all warmed up to each other and learned to get along.
Now I even consider them as friends. I don’t call many people my friends. There are only a very few who I allow to let into my life and they are two of them.
I approach Elise and hug her, making her laugh slightly. When I turn my attention to Elodie, I can notice how Henry is already sitting in the space next to her. I wonder if I should hug her too, but then decide against it. It’s a gut feeling.
Instead, I squeeze her shoulder.
“Good to see you,” I tell both of them.
Elise smiles brightly. “You too.”
“Did you celebrate Christmas well?” I ask them curiously.
Elodie nods. “Elise and I spent it here. We didn’t fly back to Paris for it.”
“Finn’s dad invited us to celebrate with them,” Elise beams. “Lord Elden.”
“Then I’m sure you had a blast,” Henry says earnestly.
Man, he should learn how to smile. We’re talking about Christmas parties, not about a tax problem.
Elodie nods. “It was fun. Finn’s not been there though.”
“I bet he wanted to celebrate with his mate instead,” I point out. Christmas is not really important for us, furthermore our friend Finn only found his mate recently, and he probably wants to spend as much time with her as possible. He was the leader of our mission. He met his mate in the pack we tried to free and has only just become Alpha of that pack.
We try to talk and chat regularly, and I know he has a lot on his plate.
“Before we forget,” Elise nudges Elodie and giggles a bit.
Elodie nods, and I can barely contain my grin. Similar to Henry, she is quite serious, though not as hot-headed as he is. She is more of a composed and rational person. To my surprise, she pulls two envelopes out of her bag and hands it to both of us.
Henry is faster with opening it. “Your birthday party,” he looks at Elodie and smiles. I wonder if he is aware of how he looks at her. The two of them hated each other in particular and clashed constantly until they finally cleared the air between them. I had an inkling that he had the hots for her. I assume he never approaches her because she’s a friend and might be mated to someone else.
Well, we’ll know this weekend for when she and Elise turn eighteen.
“Finally eighteen?” I grin at Elise.
She laughs. “Yes, I can’t believe it’s finally happening. It doesn’t feel real.”
“You have accomplished so much already,” I point out. “That’s awesome. Weren’t you only seventeen when you were hired by the Council?”
“Sixteen actually,” Elodie corrects me. “Prince Eric hired us as his advisors then, but wanted us to finish school first.”
“Not going to lie, that’s pretty amazing,” I mutter.
Henry nods. “You accomplished more than we ever did.”
Elodie looks a bit flustered for a moment. “I know I said that to you,” she says quietly. “But it’s not true. You’re working hard.”
“Yes, ever since we returned, I noticed how much work you put into your pack and how you try not to let them down,” Elise says with a smile.
I feel like they are praising us for something we didn’t do. It’s true that once we returned, we decided to man it up and finally show some responsibility. Seeing that suppressed pack and their goddess forsaken fuckhead of an Alpha made us realise we couldn’t continue the way we did before. Our pack and family need us, and they need to be able to rely on us.
Alpha is not just a fancy rank, it’s also a responsibility.
Fortunately, the waitress approaches us now to take our orders. We all order breakfast and coffee, and chat for a bit longer until she brings our breakfast to us.
“Your invitation to your birthday party, which we are looking forward to, by the way,” Henry starts. “Isn’t the sole reason you wanted to meet, right?”
They both nod in unison. “It’s-” Elise starts.
“-not.” Elodie finishes.
A cute habit they have, I think. They tend to talk at the same time and finish each other’s sentences. Though they don’t do it that often anymore. I wonder why? Maybe something changed for them too.
“We wanted to show you something.” Elise takes her phone out of her bag.
“The Council has recorded weird… sightings,” Elodie explains.
“Sightings?” I blink.
“It’s a bit hard to explain.” Elise hands me the phone and lets me skim through the screenshots there. Henry leans forward to look at it with me. I frown in confusion. They are screens from the night sky, from a starry night sky, to be precise.
Henry suddenly makes a sound of surprise.
“What?” I blink at him.
“Let me look at it.”
I nod, handing him the phone and watching how he zooms into the last picture we saw. I’m still feeling confused, though.
“Don’t worry,” Elodie reassures me. “Elise and I didn’t realise it either. Astronomy isn’t our forte. We are more on the practical side…”
“Same for me,” I admit.
Henry, however, stares at the pictures of the night sky in horror. “Alpha Centauri,” he mutters.
I try to roam my brain for an Alpha named Centauri until realisation dawns on me. I’m glad that for once I didn’t blurt out my first association. “You mean the constellation?”
“Rigil Kentaurus is there,” he analyses. “So is Beta Centauri, but Proxima Centauri is missing,” he blinks. “How can a whole fucking star be missing?”
“Beats us,” Elodie says, and sounds a bit impressed by Henry catching the meaning of the pictures so fast. “I didn’t know you knew so much about astronomy.”
“Philosophy and astronomy are a hobby,” he stutters, unusually flustered.
I smile a bit, not saying anything. I want him to have this moment of well-deserved praise.
“So, what’s with the picture?” he asks the girls again. “Is it fake?”
“No,” Elodie explains. “Some members of the Council are monitoring the sky and noticed that Proxima Centauri appears and disappears again… so do other stars.”
“What?” My mouth drops open. “How is that possible?”
“It shouldn’t be,” Elise admits. “The…” she pauses. “You cannot talk about this to anyone.”
“We promise,” Henry says earnestly.
“You two are the only one we can trust with this,” Elodie points out. “Finn has too much on his plate right now, so do our other friends, but I hoped you two could help.”
“If we can help, we will,” I promise.
“Something is amiss with the deities,” Elise admits. “It could be the doing of dark witches.”
“Excuse me,” I blink at her. “Did you say deities?”
“If the sky is moving in such an unnatural way, it has to be them,” Elodie backs up her sister. “Prince Eric told me and Elise to research further. It seems the irregularity causing all of this is somewhere close to us… or at least in this region.”
Elise looks at us. “Would you help us?”
Henry and I look at each other. We don’t even need a mind link. “Yes,” we say in unison.
Both girls smile in relief. “Thank you.”
“We are waiting for more information from the Council.” Elise explains.
Elodie nods. “Prince Eric wants us to celebrate our birthday, and then start with our research.”
“We’ll be ready then,” I promise, actually feeling relieved that I will have something to occupy my mind with.
Elise and Elodie show us some more pictures and tell us which stars are missing and when they returned to their respective star systems. We all try to come up with theories until we decide there is no help speculating like that.
We’ll wait until after their birthday and then make sure we research this properly. Henry and I will have to lead a gruesome training session tomorrow, so it’s better for us too that we won’t dive into this immediately.