“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,-
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.” -William Shakespeare
Standing out on the balcony connected to his study, Ezekiel leaned on his arms and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath in as the wind blew by, and let it out as it left. Outside was perfectly silent, tranquil.
Sometimes the pack house got too stuffy for him, loud with the voices of his pack below. Always and forever asking something of him.
But not on this balcony. They knew not to disturb him here.
He opened his eyes, adjusting to the sunlight that was beginning to peak between the clouds above. Below him he watched his pack bustle about, carrying out their jobs.
Just as he was about to turn away and return to his paperwork, something caught his attention from the corner of his eyes. Soft, black hair that stood out amongst the rest.
Over the past few weeks, he hadn’t seen much of her. Only small glimpses, much like now.
They were beginning to like her. The whispers had stopped, the glares had become neutral. The few times he had tried to talk to her, she had managed to avoid him.
Her face was tattooed to the back of his eyelids, and every thought he had was clouded by her. Her anger. Her passion.
From above he watched as Raven greeted Dmitri and Rhyland, Dmitri’s friend. A brilliant smile spread across her face, unmarred by smile lines. She’d never smiled at him, only frowned. A twinge of painful jealousy struck him, but he forced himself to keep watching.
Watch her be happy with someone who wasn’t him. She seemed content with anyone but him.
Watching her fed that sick, twisted side of himself. He wanted to hurt. It’s what he deserved.
Rhyland and Raven were laughing together over something. Dmitri caught Ezekiel’s eye, and something glimmered behind them. A knowing look passed between the brothers before Dmitri turned his gaze from him. Ezekiel kept his face stoic, lacking any emotion.
Rhyland inched closer to Raven. To any other eyes, the move was so subtle it could be completely passed over. Yet Raven inched back from the male, the smile slipping from her face ever so slightly.
Rhyland pretended to not notice, keeping their conversation going.
Ezekiel turned away, somewhat pleased after witnessing that interaction.
Ezekiel rolled his shoulders out, stretching the sore muscles. Something popped in the process, sighing softly.
His eyes traveled to the stack of papers, dread quickly filling him. Instead he continued walking, pushing open the heavy doors to his study. His stomach rumbled softly, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten practically all day long.
As he made his way down the flights of stairs, he avoided his eyes from Raven’s room, attempting to block her from his mind. Of course it wouldn’t work.
There was no escape from that female.
She had found a way under his skin, curling around his bones and invading his mind.
Ezekiel rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to concentrate on other things besides his mate. As he rounded the corner, Colton popped into his view. He almost groaned at the sight of him.
“Hey Colton.” Ezekiel half mumbled, trying to continue walking past his beta.
“How’s it going?” Colton caught pace with him, much to Ezekiel’s dismay.
“It’s going.” His response was short, gruff. Trying to get a message across.
“How is it with Grace?”
It struck him that Colton had only been interested in Gracie, instead of Raven. Raven’s name never passed his lips, not once. He understood what Colton was trying to do.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her at all.”
Colton remained silent for a moment as they continued to walk at Ezekiel’s brisk pace towards the kitchen.
“Because she’s not my mate, Colton.”
“Not anymore, at least.” Colton grunted. ”She isn’t either, though.”
“Yes she is.”
“No, she’s not. She is a murderer. She has nothing but hate and rage for you. Grace does not. I’m only trying to look out for you. You know that.”
“Stop. Just stop.” The two males paused in the middle of the hallway. Ezekiel easily had a few inches in height over his beta, though that didn’t stop Colton’s deeply rooted glare. One of the few reasons Ezekiel liked Colton and kept him as his beta. Colton was not swayed by him.
“I can’t take this every single day, Colton. Stop asking about Gracie. I considered her my mate at one point in time, but I was clearly wrong. She is not my mate. Just like Abigale was not your mate. I understand that she meant a lot to you and that it hurts.
But I can’t fucking deal with it. I can’t help you. Get your fucking head out of your ass. She was not your mate. Your mate is still out there. When you find her, she isn’t going to want to see you stuck. . .” He choked slightly on his own words, his pent up anger for himself finally coming forward. “She isn’t going to want to see you stuck over some other female, and she isn’t going to deal with that.
Yes. Raven killed Abigale. But I promise that you yourself have killed someone’s mate. Someone’s family. We all have. Just fucking stop.”
Anger burned behind Colton’s blue eyes at the mention of Raven’s name. A certain knowledge passed behind them as well, but he kept his mouth shut.
“I think that’s the most that you’ve ever said to me. Ever. The entire time I’ve known you.”
Ezekiel growled lowly, giving up on talking sense into his beta. His wolf surfaced slightly, staying just underneath his skin. Ezekiel fought to keep himself calm. Instead, he walked away, leaving Colton standing by himself.
Ezekiel shook his head and clenched his hands, fighting off the claws that were beginning to surface.
He just couldn’t handle it anymore.
He entered the kitchen, which suddenly became very quiet. All heads in the room lowered, showing their respect for him. It only managed to make him angrier. He waved his hand and they all lifted their heads hesitantly, resuming their conversations in hushed tones.
They feared him.
Their wolves bowed as instinct to him.
He hated it.
Ezekiel invited himself into the kitchen, ignoring the maids that paused and drifted away from his presence. Ignoring them, he opened the fridge and pulled out a premade sandwich and apple.
I’ll eat more later, he promised himself, trying to push the other thoughts of Raven and Gracie out of his mind. Stress and anger from Colton had soured his appetite.
On his way back up to his study to complete the monster of papers, he caught sight of Dmitri and Raven once more. Over the past few weeks the two had grown closer together, and Raven seemed to be doing much better.
In a way, he was glad. He knew his brother was a good person.
Dmitri paused at the doorway and made eye contact with Ezekiel. Ezekiel couldn’t help the bitter resentment that bubbled up in his stomach. It was nothing to do with Dmitri, but he hated him because Dmitri was everything that Ezekiel wished to be.
Ezekiel sighed heavily and pushed his way back up the stairs, ignoring the two.
As he stood outside the doors to his study, something felt off about it. Familiar, but wrong. His beast pushed at his skin, reminding him that he was still there.
Apple and sandwich held in one hand, Ezekiel pushed the door open without hesitation.
“Oh for fuck’s sake. Son of a fucker,” he cursed at the sight that met him.
Gracie sat atop his desk, the stack of papers had been pushed aside. No doubt now out of order and crumpled beneath her ass.
“What the fuck do you want?”
Gracie stuck out her pink, bottom lip in a fake display of a pout. She crossed her arms, pushing her breasts out. “That’s not very nice, Zeke.”
“Cut the shit, Grace.”
She seemed struck for a moment that he hadn’t used her nickname, but quickly recovered. “I want you.”
“No. Get out.” Ezekiel stepped aside, showing her the door.
Gracie swung her bare legs, unable to reach the floor with them. She shook her head at him, refusing to move. She pushed her long, brown hair over her shoulder, exposing her neck beneath.
Ezekiel sighed heavily and collapsed onto his couch that was placed next to the door, surrounded by his bookshelves. He began eating his sandwich, his eyes finding the door to his balcony once more. He could feel it calling to him.
Sweet, sweet release from all of this. From Gracie. From Colton. From Raven.
Gracie, clearly not wanting to give up, pushed herself off of his desk. She made no move to pull her shorts back down that now exposed some of the flesh of her backside. The small, dainty female made her way towards him.
He continued to ignore her, wishing to make her feel unseen, even as she plopped down next to him. The soft peach fuzz of her skin brushed him with how close she was sitting to him.
Her scent washed over him as he continued to chew. He couldn’t help but inhale and savor the smell, reliving some of the memories with her. Back when he had never thought he’d find his mate, and Gracie was the best he could do.
When he had truly planned to make her their luna.
Sitting beside her now, he realized how easy it had been to settle with her. In her, he saw his weakness. His desire to escape his blood.
She wanted anything but that. All she craved was his blood, the title it would give her.
The food in his mouth suddenly tasted of ash. Gracie could never compare to Raven. Even the smell of her now seemed sub par in comparison.
“Can I have some?”
Ezekiel’s beast clawed at his skin, demanding to be released. He didn’t like the implication Gracie had with her words. To feed her would be to accept her.
Out of spite, Ezekiel continued eating the sandwich, ignoring Gracie’s pouty eyes.
“Why are you being so mean to me? It can’t truly be because of her.”
“She’s my fucking mate." Both he and his wolf were becoming extremely angered by how many times he had to defend his bond with Raven.
“I don’t see her in here with you,” Gracie pointed out, raising an eyebrow at him.
“That doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t be in here.”
Gracie only shrugged. “If you wanted me gone, you would have made me leave by now.” She was smug with her words.
“You need to let us go. You’ve only caused trouble for me. For fuck’s sake, Raven thinks I’m sticking my dick in you.” Ezekiel scoffed. “You’re not going to get what you want from me.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You don’t think I know?” Ezekiel gave her a small smile. “I know everything there is to know about you. You crave anything that can dig you out of the hole your blood put you in. Omega."
Gracie bristled at the word as if it were an insult he had thrown at her. “You don’t know shit about me.”
“I know that you once tried to run away to live with humans. Because it meant you didn’t have to be an omega. I know that you’ve fucked or tried to fuck any and every rank above yours in hopes that it would lead to you getting a better title. I know that when I told you that we were potentials, you weren’t happy because you liked me. You were happy because it was the best opportunity ever presented to you.”
A growl bubbled in Gracie’s chest, pushing herself away from him. She stood, snarling as she did. A simple, low growl from Ezekiel immediately halted her snarl. Her wolf knew better, no matter how much Gracie tried to push her.
“Get the fuck out of my office before I make good on my mate’s threat.” He grinned at her, showing his teeth. He licked his fang. ”Cinderella."
Gracie’s mouth opened and closed like a fish, unable to form words. She left without saying anything else, his door slamming shut.
Ezekiel sighed in relief and stood, walking over to his trash can. He tossed his food into the can, having no interest in them now.
He rounded his desk and sat in the chair with a groan, looking at the mess that was his paperwork.
He stared at it for a moment longer, wondering how long he could truly put off this work.
The phone that was sat in the corner of his desk abruptly began to ring, disturbing the quiet peace of the room. Angrily, Ezekiel snatched the phone, removing it from its holder.
“Someone’s grumpy.” The deep voice on the other end of the line responded. Ezekiel immediately recognized the voice, perking up in his seat. He was a noteworthy alpha, although not from these lands.
“What can I do for you?”