“Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn.” -Bertrand Russell
For the rest of the day, Raven sealed herself in her room.
She could feel Ezekiel’s anguish crashing over her in great waves, drowning out her own emotions. Raven clutched her arms closely to her chest, her nails digging in deep enough to draw blood.
Her bottom had gone numb hours ago from sitting on the hardwood floor, but she refused somewhere more comfortable. Comfort was a luxury she convinced herself that she did not deserve.
Fortunately, Ezekiel did not seek her out.
The cracks in her soul that she had worked for months to fill and fix broke open again. Thoughts of her family and her old life spilled from the cracks, her sorrow mixing with Ezekiel’s anguish.
The clash of emotions within her twisted her stomach and pulled, as if ripping her apart from the inside. It was becoming difficult to know what she was feeling instead of what he was feeling.
She hated it. She hated the feeling of him inside her, swirling around inside her stomach and mind. His emotions called and beckoned her to him, demanding her presence. Raven would not go to him, no matter how sick it made her feel.
It was a new way for her to torture herself.
This was her fault and she deserved what it was doing to her.
Raven’s stomach heaved, threatening to spill out the little food she had eaten today. She clasped a hand over her mouth, fighting it back down.
She couldn’t be weak, but she wanted to be. Hot, angry tears burned her eyes but she blinked them away.
Another wave of emotions that weren’t hers crashed over her, filling her with a sense of longing and sadness. To her best, she fought it back with her own hate.
It was disgusting to feel his emotions.
Raven pulled her knees up to her chest and held them with one arm, her other hand still clasped over her mouth. Silently she rocked herself back and forth, trying to cope with what was happening to her. It wasn’t working.
A soft knock on her door echoed in her room. She held her breath, hoping whoever it was would leave. She knew it wasn’t Ezekiel, she would have felt him.
“I know you’re in there Raven,” Dmitri quietly spoke from the other side of the door. “I saw you run up here this morning after your talk with him.”
“Go away,” Raven’s voice was garbled as her stomach heaved again. She slapped her hand back over her lips, the saliva in her mouth thickening.
“I’m coming in.” Raven shook her head desperately, knowing Dmitri couldn’t see her, but didn’t dare to speak again, afraid she’d vomit.
The heavy door opened slowly and closed behind Dmitri. As he neared, yet another flood of Ezekiel’s emotions pushed through her, clawing at her stomach. She was going to throw up. Raven held one hand up to Dmitri, hoping he’d help her to her feet so she could run to the bathroom.
Dmitri gripped her hand and pulled, reaching down with his other arm, holding underneath her arm. Once to her feet, Dmitri did not let go, crouching a little to try and look at her face. “Are you okay?”
She shook her head again and gagged. Concern twisted Dmitri’s features. If he didn’t let go of her, she was going to throw up all over him.
“Talk to me, what’s going on?”
Raven pushed his hands off of her, immediately running to the bathroom. Her black hair whipped behind her in her haste to the toilet. She fell to her knees and heaved the contents of her stomach into the bowl.
Warily, Dmitri entered behind her and reached down to pull her hair out of her face. Renewing hate bubbled in her chest for Ezekiel as she continued to throw up. Dmitri sat on the edge of the bathtub, continuing to hold her hair.
His hand felt warm and comforting to her as he rubbed her back in calming circles.
At last the nausea left her. She wiped at her mouth with the back of her hand and flushed the toilet.
He continued to rub her back as she sat up straight, her mouth open as she drew in a sharp, stuttering gasp for air. The air inside her bathroom was cold and crisp, chilling her lungs.
Raven leaned back, resting on Dmitri’s legs. He didn’t mind the contact. He watched as she shook, her body strained and stressed.
Her mind was running a million miles an hour, racing over every thought and memory she had that lead to her predicament. Her demise. She had done this to herself.
The two sat in silence for a while, long after her shaking had ceased and her breathing had returned to normal. Her mouth tasted foul, yet not foul enough to match the feeling of Ezekiel’s emotions inside of her.
“I can feel him inside me,” she finally spoke.
Raven could feel Dmitri freeze up behind her, but he immediately relaxed. “What do you mean?”
“His emotions,” she spat the word out. “That fucking dog.” She shuddered. “I can feel what he’s feeling. Chewing and ripping at my insides. I can’t tell what if what I’m feeling is mine or his.”
“What happened?” Dmitri remained calm, feeling that Raven was about to crash.
“I marked him Dmitri. Oh Goddess, I marked him.” A sob racked her chest. Raven leaned forward and clutched her head between her hands, trying to make sense of what she was feeling. “I marked him,” she said again, as if reminding herself again.
“Slow down Raven. It’s going to be okay.”
“No it’s not,” his words seemed to make her spiral, her mind going through every horrible thought she had. “It’s not. It’s not okay.”
Dmitri quietly shushed her, attempting to push her thoughts at bay. It was hurting him to see her spiral again after how much he’d helped her through in the last months. Silently, he cursed his brother for yet again ruining things. “Come on, get up. I know this floor isn’t comfortable.”
Raven shook her head violently. “I don’t deserve comfort. I’m an absolute fool. I’m so stupid Dmitri, so so stupid.”
“You’re stupid for saying something like that, yes. But you are not stupid. Do you hear me Raven?” She shook her head again, refusing to listen to him. “You are not stupid. Get up.”
She remained where she was. “You either get up or I pick you up. It’s your choice and I’m giving it to you.” Raven did not move. Dmitri shrugged, having no problem with picking the female up. He nudged her forward with his knees and then carefully brought her to her feet by her armpits.
Raven began to shake again, her knees trembling. Dmitri swooped down, lifting her into his arms with one arm behind her knees and the other around her middle. This was not the first time Dmitri had to do this.
Raven shut her eyes. She couldn’t bear to look at his face, not when it reminded her so much of Ezekiel. Careful to not hit her head on anything, Dmitri entered her room again and set her on her bed.
She immediately curled into a ball on her side. Dmitri stood beside her bed. He sighed heavily and rubbed his forehead, looking her over. She had finally put weight back on, and it had been more than a month since she had last broken down.
“I’ll be back later.” He was going to have a talk with his brother.
He turned to leave, casting one last glance at her.
“Please don’t leave me,” she mumbled, her words muffled by the sheets.
She lifted her head, turning to look at him over her shoulder. “Don’t leave, please. Don’t leave me.”
“I’m not leaving you, Raven. I will be back, I promise you.”
“Please,” her voice cracked. She didn’t want to be alone with her thoughts and his emotions. She couldn’t handle being alone anymore.
“Okay, I’ll stay. I’m staying.” He took a deep breath in, letting his anger wash away for the moment being. His talk with his brother could wait.
“Are you going to tell me what happened?”
Raven nodded solemnly, resigning to her fate. They would all know at some point. She pushed herself into a sitting position, making space for Dmitri to sit by her feet. Dmitri took the hint and hesitantly sat on the end of her bed.
His eyes searched her face, her eyes going blank as she thought everything over. He could sense the inner turmoil she was going through.
“Just start from the beginning. There’s no rush, I’m not going anywhere right now.”
“Right, okay.” She nodded again, her eyes focusing as she came back to the present. “When we left the pack house, we just walked for a long time. When we stopped, he tried to apologize to me. But he couldn’t even specifically say what he was sorry for. I’m offended by that half assed apology.
I mean, what the fuck was that? You’re just sorry? He said that he understands that I hate him. No shit. He just makes it so easy to hate him. But Goddess, I want him. I want to love him and I wish things weren’t the way they are.” Raven paused, her face twisting in confusion.
She smacked her forehead with her palm several times. “No, I just hate him. Those emotions aren’t mine Dmitri. He’s doing this to me. That asshole.”
“Raven, focus. Continue.”
“I’m sorry.” She inhaled deeply, shoving and beating back Ezekiel’s emotions. “I told him how I feel about him. He’s a worthless male and an even worse Alpha. He didn’t even respond to that.” She scoffed. “He let me insult his worth and I think that says enough for what kind of male he is.
We talked about Grace and he told me she is his potential and all that stupid bullshit. Apparently he’s never slept together and it was just some whole stupid plot that Grace had. I don’t fucking buy it. I don’t believe anything that comes out of that fucking mouth of his.” Raven paused and took another deep breath.
“I told him about how I had planned to kill him. Before I knew what he is to me.” She looked up, meeting Dmitri’s eyes. Dmitri said nothing, his face giving away just as much, as if this was something he had expected from past Raven.
“Because of what your family did to mine. Including Abigale,” her voice wavered on that name. Despite her deep hate for that female, she could not forget the friend she was to her. The memories they had together, before that one drunken night that Abigale finally whispered the truth to her.
“What do you mean?” Dmitri’s face was a mock of Ezekiel’s when she had told him the same thing earlier.
“LycanMoon destroyed my pack. It was a plot between your parents, the beta family, and some scum pack from the North. MistFang,” Raven couldn’t help the snarl that came out. “Abigale’s family befriended mine just to learn information about our pack. Our alliances, everything. When they knew enough, LycanMoon and MistFang wiped us out.
I still don’t know why, and I certainly intend to find out. As far as I know, Bailey and I were the only ones who lived. We were told to run here, and the rest is history. I wonder if Abigale had never said anything if I would be happily mated right now.
I wish I didn’t know. I wish I could be living in oblivion and just be happy. I would still have my friend, and I’d be better off. I can’t do that, Dmitri. From the moment she told me, I swore I would avenge them. And I will.
Your brother said that I should just move on. I couldn’t and can’t move on. For the sake of ScorchedEye and my dead family. When he said that to me, I couldn’t help it. I’ve always struggled with my anger and keeping it under control. He just wouldn’t let go, Dmitri. He wouldn’t let go of me.” She started to shake and cry uncontrollably.
“Please believe me,” she whimpered. “He wouldn’t let go of me.”
“I believe you,” Dmitri whispered, in shock from the information that had just been dumped on him.
“He wouldn’t let go,” she said again. “My wolf lunged for his throat because she saw him as a threat. I couldn’t control it, I wasn’t thinking. I hesitated for just one second. One second, that’s all it took.” The tears fell freely from her eyes, leaving trails on her cheeks. “And now I’ve damned myself.”
Dmitri was at a loss for words, trying to keep cool. His own emotions battled inside him. Pity and sorrow for Raven and her demise, and his own anger and hatred for LycanMoon. How cruel wolves truly could be.
“I hope you understand me better now, Dmitri.”
“I do,” was all he said. And he did understand now. He understood all of it.
“I just can’t be weak,” she pulled her knees to her chest again, using her knees as a pillow for her forehead. “For them, I can’t. But I don’t know if I can do it when the time comes. I don’t want to be this monster,” she sniffled. “But I have to be. I can’t be weak, but I want to be so badly. I want to.”
She continued to repeat that she couldn’t be weak, muttering and crying into her knees as her sobs shook her body. Dmitri listened as she cried, struggling to gain control over himself.
“He’s like a plague. I can feel him constantly. Every single emotion that he has, and it drowns everything out. It makes me sick. Why did I do this to myself? Why does everything just get fucking worse? I thought things were starting to get better.”
“Raven,” he finally spoke. “You are not weak, do you understand? You are the only person I know who has this strength to go through this. Everyone else would have crumbled and withered away by now. You are so unbelievably strong and I hope you see that one day. I am by your side. I know you did what you feel you had to do, and I know Abigale was far from the end.”
“Abigale,” Raven whispered, sudden sorrow striking her in the heart. She longed for her friend. Longed for the comfort of her father’s embrace, her mother’s beautiful smile, and the sound of Bailey’s laugh. She longed for the rolling open hills that was now simply scorched earth, that she had once called her home.
She was alone now, and belonged to nowhere.
It was her fault.
“I have something I need to go deal with. I will be back. Please get some rest.” Dmitri stood and turned away from her, ashamed by his own blood. He couldn’t bear it any longer to see Raven shaking with the pain his family had brought to her.
“Please don’t go,” she cried again. “You’re all I have.”
“I’ll be back later tonight. I’m not leaving you, I promise you Raven. I am not leaving you.” He rolled his shoulders and silently left her room.
He was going to have a talk with Ezekiel.
Her door clicked shut heavily, sealing Raven alone in her room.