As soon as the decision hit me I physically jolted, spasming with shock at the thoughts that seemed to manifest from nowhere but guided me somewhere very, very dark. I couldn’t wrap my head around the thoughts, as ironic as that sounded. I couldn’t believe these thoughts were in my head.
It was fucked up, for lack of a better expression. It was supremely fucked up.
“Edie,” Zacharias whispered from below me. My eyes were wide and my bare chest panted against his as I tried to push the thoughts away but couldn’t. I looked over the side of the bed, expecting flames from hell to burn through my floorboards. ”Edie.”
I shook my head lightly, shushing him. I couldn’t find the words to tell him now wasn’t the time to speak, that I needed silence. He seemed to catch the hint, however, not speaking to me further. His fingers began to trace my spine, causing shudders to coil my shoulder blades. My breathing was still heavy as I failed to catch my breath.
Terrible, terrible plan, I tried telling myself, absolute rubbish. Bullshit. Quit while you’re still ahead, Edie, and forget that you ever thought that plan in the first place. Just enjoy the moment—well, not even enjoy it. Just live in the moment. There is no past, no future, just now.
But there was a past, and there was a future, and in that moment both seemed very bleak and in two entirely different ways. The past, I couldn’t control. The future...I could. And it seemed I was making a very poor judgement call, which I knew I was, but it was undoubtedly the best call amongst many others.
One thing I knew, however, was that I wouldn’t live to regret it.
I rolled off of Zacharias, plunking myself onto the space beside him. Chilled by what I was deliberating I grabbed my covers and threw them over me. I had my back to Zacharias as I rested my cheek on my hand. My eyes stung with impending tears; the left, logical side of my brain still in shock over the morbid creativity of my right side. Morbid it was.
Zacharias stirred from behind me, and I felt him inch his way closer. I tensed instantly, memories of the past resurfacing and contorting my thoughts. I couldn’t even remember if I was remembering what had happened correctly—the images seemed dramatized, then they seem somewhat censored. Then interlocked and mismatched.
He never directly touched me, but I felt him press his forearm in the space between my shoulder blades. As he did this my eyes shut and tears escaped across the bridge of my nose, wetting my pillow. Was my brain messing with my memories in order to justify my decision?
“Do you want me to leave?” Zacharias asked quietly as his fingers began to creep up the nape of my neck and into my hairline. His touch brought feelings of ecstasy through my head as my mind raced.
I couldn’t believe what I whispered next. “No,” I blotted my tears with the blanket. ”I don’t.”
There was a long pause, so long that I wondered briefly if he fell asleep. My mind was like a live wire. I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping anytime soon. I was thankful I didn’t have to work tomorrow. Not even because I’d have been exhausted, but because I couldn’t fathom being around other people with these disturbing thoughts in my head. I felt like a psychopath, completely abnormal in more than a blood-related sense.
“Can I hold you, Edie?” He breathed against me.
“No.” I said as I sat up. I looked over at him with glossy eyes. He still hadn’t seen my tears shed.
I rolled over and rested my hand on his groin, making eye contact with him. That same intensity came back, reminding me of the gas station. But it called forward a different action; I was no longer intimidated. I was...liberated. It brought me confidence in the face of shame. My thoughts hadn’t been nulled, but they were easier to push aside as I prepared myself to seduce Zacharias.
My hand found his manhood and my fingers found his length, the pulsating vein. I gripped it, leaning forward as I pressed a kiss to Zacharias’ lips. Slowly I started to move my hand up and down as I pulled away, slinking under the blankets as it picked up speed. I watched Zacharias’ abdomen coil and tighten as his manhood became more erect, pressing to his stomach.
He sighed from above the blankets as I stilled my hand and crawled in between his legs. Pausing with uncertainty, Zacharias’ hand fisted my hair and urged me to continue. Desperate to forget the thoughts that still lingered like a bad dream, I opened my mouth and licked the tip of his manhood. I felt him shudder.
Removing my palm from his shaft I placed my hands on both of his inner thighs, spreading them open further. Zacharias stirred, fisting my hair tighter as he dragged both of us back to prop himself against my headboard. The covers were thrown off of me as I became completely exposed. He knew I was catering to him.
I locked eyes with him as I stood on my knees, trying to give the impression that I knew what I was doing. He had a death grip on my hair as I pressed the front of my body against his, resting my hands on the headboard. I brought my face close to his, leaving only an inch or two of room. Briefly I closed the gap by pressing my nose to his. When his eyes shut I got the reaction I wanted.
I leant down and pressed a kiss to the flesh just below his earlobe, slowly inching my way down his jawline. I could feel his chest rising and falling against mine, synchronized to my lips touching and leaving his skin. He was completely hypnotized by my actions, controlled by his desire. I realized, as I kissed his chin, that this was my way of apologizing in advance.
My lips moved down the base of his neck, down his chest as my hands found his hips. Instinctively he thrusted forward at my touch, eager. This was my first time doing this to him. Usually I took directions from him. This was new. I was slow, trying to gauge what course of action to take next. I wanted to please him.
I kissed the defined line in between his abs, eyes never once leaving his even as they remained closed. As long as they remained closed I knew I was on the right track. My confidence seemed to leak out of me slowly, replaced by the need to just scrape by.
Dark hair tickled my chin as my lips ended at his lower stomach. His hand fisted my hair to the point it was nearly painful, but I wouldn’t stop. Again, I licked the tip of his manhood as my hands found his pouches. Carefully I began to knead them as I put more of him into my mouth.
I looked away from him as I flicked my tongue against his shaft, hands still kneading his pouches. His grip on my hair faltered before tightening again, his feet digging against my bed as he elevated his knees. I closed my eyes as I allowed the intimacy to direct me. Suddenly I was nervous.
Slowly descending onto him I allowed the tip of his manhood to hit the roof of my mouth. My hands seemed to work on their own volition, in Zacharias’ favour as he moaned softly from above me. It seemed an unnatural sound for him—something relaxed and gentle. He was vulnerable.
I, feather-lightly, scraped my teeth along his length as I removed my mouth from him. He stiffened, clenching as he released a choked sound. His hand pulled my hair roughly, and I let out a gasp as I took him back in. I stopped kneading one of his pouches as I grabbed his shaft in my hand, slowly rubbing him up and down as I teased him with my tongue.
His vein throbbed against the side of my mouth as my hand began to pick up speed. His hips were rolling like waves as he released my hair and replaced his grip on my nape. The way his fingers dug into my skin left me shuddering as I struggled to help him climax. I was unskilled in this field, but as long as Zacharias wasn’t complaining I felt I could continue.
I took more of him in as his tip hit the back of my throat. My hand was still rubbing him persuasively, the other switching pouches as I kneaded the unattended one. I nearly gagged as my reflexes kicked in, but stopped myself. My breasts slapped against the inside of his thighs as I slowly moved against him.
Zacharias’ fingers squeezed my neck harshly and instantly I took him out of my mouth, saving his manhood before clenching my jaw shut. My hands found his hips as I opened my eyes, coming face to face with Zacharias as he pulled me up. He looked at me with raw, feral desire as his hand grabbed my waist.
Roughly, dominantly, he twisted me and forced me on my hands and knees. I gasped when he released my neck, my fingers fisting the bedsheets as I tried to balance myself. I hated that I liked him throwing me around—it felt natural, suiting for our abrasive personalities. Sex was the only time I willingly exhibited my submission to him and allowed him to be dominant. It was the middle ground.
Zacharias stood up, casting a shadow over me as he hovered like a phantom. My eyes were open as I dropped my head, peering at him through the arch between my legs. I couldn’t make out what his next move would be, but I began to suspect when his fingers traced over my shoulder blade before grasping the hair that had fallen over my shoulder. He wrapped it around his hand like a bandage before kneeling behind me. I felt his warmth, his pelvis against my rear.
“I wish you would love me back,” He whispered from above me as he rested his hand against my ribcage. I stifled a gasp as he pierced my womanhood, leaving me tender even after knowing what to expect. I bit my lip as I dropped my head. ”I want you to say it to me.”
“I can’t,” I told him as he pushed more of himself into me. I strained to suppress a yelp. “Because I do not.”
“You don’t have to mean it, Edie,” he said as he slid yet more of himself into me. He was really beginning to hurt me. I was wet, but it wasn’t enough to compensate. Him tugging my hair failed to distract me, too. “I just want to hear you say it. Just once. Please. Just tell me you love me.”
“That statement should only be uttered if it’s true,” I argued, my voice strained. Zacharias shoved the rest of himself into me, causing a loud cry to escape as weakness made me lapse for a moment. “I cannot say it.”
His hand crept past my armpit and cupped my left breast as he rested his hand over my beating heart. This action, alone, was far more intimate than having him inside of me. It caused my insides to tremor as I moaned. Slowly, he began to thrust against me. “You have denied me of so many things, Edie, please. I’m asking you this one favour. I don’t need you to mean it. I really don’t. No strings attached.”
His hand squeezed my breast as his fingers massaged my peaked nipple. I scraped my jaw against my arm as sparks of pleasure awakened me—liberated me. “Just be patient, Zacharias,” I relented. “I might say them to you one day.”
He yarded on my hair, forcing my head up as I faced the wall in front of me. My hands reached out for my footboard as I elongated myself. “You said it to me yourself,” he growled as he began to fervently pick up pace. My body was anxious as I took his anger. “You could never love me. You will never love me. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Edie. Don’t torture me like that.”
“A part of you hates me,” I recognized as my fingers white-knuckled the footboard. My bed squeaked and my footboard shook as Zacharias thrusted his weight into me. It was so painfully erotic—a new experience, one I obscenely enjoyed. “You hate me because you love me but I don’t love you. A part of you hates me because I hate you.”
He yanked my hair even further, causing my face to crane up to the ceiling. The bed was shaking with exertion. My moans were becoming heavy and yearning. He was full-throttle inside of me, unfettering me as he hurt me. “I will make you love me, Edie. Now that I know where you are I’ll make sure that you love me. You will love me back!” He yelled as both of his hands were on my hips, pulling me into him as I let out a shriek.
Then everything—everything that I had kept pent up for five years was released. I was released.
My body shuddered as I orgasmed, feeling everything that had caked onto me over the years wash away. My eyes rolled into the back of my head as I propelled myself from the footboard into Zacharias. His arm latched around my waist as the other one massaged my collarbones. He shook against me as he climaxed, euphoria staining our world rose-coloured.
Fireworks exploded behind my eyelids like the Fourth of July. Once my body was finished shuddering, I felt exhausted. I was sweaty and warm as I allowed myself to become weightless. My hair, curling from my moisture, began to frizz and curl. My body tingled with reprieve, like cold rain on a hot day.
I leaned forward and Zacharias released me as I laid on my bed, allowing him to fall out of me. I could feel milky liquid run down my thighs as our evidence leaked from me. I buried my face in my blankets as I rested my arms beside my head. I laid there, depleted and ready to pass out. I was still breathing heavily, my heart running a marathon.
Zacharias collapsed beside me, and I opened my eyes as I faced him. He was staring at me, an unreadable look in his eyes as he scrutinized my features. I furrowed my eyebrows at him.
He took one hand and smoothed my curling hair away from my face before resting his palm against my warm cheek. My eyes stung with tiredness as I stared at him, trying to find any trace of green in his irises. But there was no green—just a pool of ink. I wondered if mine looked the same.
“Did you mean what you said?” He breathed, hot breath serving to heat me up further.
“About what?” I asked dumbly, overwhelmed by the sheer presence of him. He seemed invading—like it would be so easy for him to waltz back in and takeover. I knew, however, he would never get the chance.
Was this fate? Fate, they say, is a future event that you have no knowledge of and no control over—but what if this wasn’t so? What if you had knowledge of a possible future event, but still no control over the outcome? Was that still fate? Fate was unavoidable, something written in stones and stars. The decision I made earlier, could that be regarded as fate if I already knew the outcome?
Even as I argued with my mind I could not steer it off the course it had already headed down. I couldn’t reverse my train of thought, even as I acknowledged how implausible it seemed for someone of my character. I knew I had no control over what I would do, and even if I tried it would still happen eventually. Was this my fate? Yes, I thought it was. It was an end, an end already in place even as I tried to deny it. An end to justify the means.
“That you could say to me, one day, that you love me?”
I laughed at the irony of my next statement. “Who knows what the future holds?”
Zacharias, clearly, did not understand the irony. “Why do you laugh at my question, Edie?”
“Because I think I know what the future holds.” I admitted as the repeated images continuously fluttered through my brain, impeding my thoughts and vision. It was like watching a disturbing movie; I wanted so desperately to look away or shut it off but simply, unreasonably, could not.
“Pray tell.” He said softly as his thumb smoothed over my lips. I couldn’t help the small smile that broke my neutrality, but I quickly coughed it away.
“I want to come back with you to the cabin,” I said honestly as I let out a sigh. My breathing was slower, calmer, but my heart rate spiked once again at my confession. Stupidly, I feared rejection. “In the woods.”
Zacharias gave me a look of disbelief, his eyes widening as his irises shaded back to green before burning black once again. His eyes were like camera lenses, trying to focus and readjust. “Edie, if you’re saying that to fuck with me I’m going to be pissed.” He said as he pulled his hand from my cheek. Regretfully, I missed his touch.
“I’m not trying to fuck with you,” I quickly jumped to my defence. Zacharias’ mouth fell open as he propped himself on his elbow, supporting his head with his hand as he looked down at me. Still, he thought I was playing him. “I’m serious. I would like to go back to the cabin. Retrace old footsteps, I guess.”
“Why do you want to come back?” He asked. He couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of me wanting to come back.
“Are you declining my inclination?”
“No—no, of course not. Fuck, Edie, you wanting to come back is heaven to my ears,” he shook his head slowly, a smile tugging at his lips. He seemed so benevolent; wholesome, even. “I just don’t understand why. Isn’t it like pouring salt on a wound?”
“Well salt heals, no?” I asked. “Has much changed?”
“Time stood still after you left,” he confessed hesitantly. “Everything looks the same.”
“I don’t want to go back in order to try and force myself to love you. I don’t want you thinking that,” I said harshly, albeit honestly. It felt wrong to give him too much kindness in one sitting... “In fact, me going back there is only for myself. It isn’t for you.”
“It doesn’t matter who it’s for. I don’t care if you were coming back for my Beta. The fact of the matter is you will be there.”
“I knew Beta James from before,” I blurted curiously.” He went to my outreach classes with me.”
“You look like his mate,” he explained to me curtly, clearly not in favour of his beta. “She died when we were twenty-two. You resemble her. I remember the day he enrolled, told me he found his mates doppelgänger. Funny how fate works.”
It made sense, now. Meeting me was like revisiting his dead mate. I could envision it now, the way James had looked at me—fondly but distantly as though he had always wished I was someone else. Like I was good, but not great. I wondered if when he disappeared it was because he finally accepted I was not her. I would have to ask him.
“But you are nothing like her,” Zacharias elaborated. I blinked lazily. “She was manipulative and commanding, cold and cruel. I blame it on her parents. They were abusive. She turned out just like them. No one enjoyed her, but James tolerated her. The poor fucker. He was so hopeful—even after she died he never said an ill word about her. He’ll tell you she’s an angel.”
“How did she die?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“She was murdered by my father.”
My eyes widened as he told me this. “Why did your father kill her?”
“She had mocked his sickness, saying something regarding lunacy and it caused him to snap. He killed her right where she stood, and attacked my mother when he returned to the cabin. When I came home—” he choked up. “I had no other choice, Edie. He left me with no other choice.”
Completely invested in his story like a journalist I urged him to continue. “Go on.”
“He begged me to kill him. He didn’t have to beg much because once I smelled my mothers blood I became thirsty for his. I—I shifted and I remember my father smiling as I went for his throat. It was merciful, Edie, that I promise. He never suffered.”
My mind went back to how willing James was to help me escape—how he was so sympathetic to my plights. I wondered if I hadn’t resembled his mate if he would have still helped me escape, if he would’ve kept Zacharias convinced that me leaving was the best idea. My mind was reeling with what-ifs and could-have-beens. I now understood why James said he had done his time with Zacharias. The whole family was troubled.
“Zacharias...” I said quizzically, my mind wandering back to Simone as I thought of James.
“Yes?” He asked, sounding grateful that I was changing the subject.
“Have you ever heard of someone named...Nathaniel, perchance?” I asked, struggling to think of his name.
“Nathaniel? As in Nathaniel Redgrave? He was one of the teachers in that bootcamp I went to before he became an Alpha. He taught me hard knocks.”
“You knew Nathaniel personally?”
Zacharias nodded, then scowled as his face blossomed with jealousy. He laid down his arm on the bed, resting his face on his bicep. “Yes, why? How did you hear of him? Have you met him? Have—”
I cut off his rambling. “No, I heard of him through a friend. It was his mate, a French girl.”
“Oh, Simone?” He asked, and suddenly I understand his jealous queries. At the sound of her name leaving his mouth I felt a spark of envy. However, I remained composed and nodded. “She flew down east, didn’t she?”
“Was it the pack gossip?” I teased, surprised he knew so much.
“The packs in Alberta are highly integrated.” He said seriously. I gave him a skeptical smile.
“Do you know anything of what has happened to Simone, or her mate Nathaniel? The last time I touched base was with Simone five years ago, just after you sent me away.” I was curious of my friend, concerned for her safety. And forever in debt for her calling in the anonymous tip regarding the dead cop.
“Last I heard was three years ago he flew down east to meet her—surprise her, I think it was. She didn’t know he was coming.”
My heart plummeted to my chest as Zacharias told me this, because to him it seemed like a friendly exchange. Hearing Simone’s story, similar to mine, allowed me to fill in the gaps. He was not surprising her, he was tracking her—hunting her down. Instantly I ached to cry for her. I wondered how things were for her now.
But my wonders dedicated to Simone also solidified my decision regarding Zacharias. I smiled amicably as I stared at him, my voice not giving my intent away.
“Guess it’s my turn to surprise you next.”