Artemis stepped into the infirmary and gave her shaky legs a break by sitting on the nearest bed. Her eyes remained on the wall, as far away from her flat abdomen as possible.
Zena joined her on the bed, wondering what terrors were crawling through her mind. When she found out that she was pregnant with Artemis all those years ago, she was overjoyed. It saddened her to see that Artemis felt so petrified by her blessing.
She fished for the right words of encouragement.
“Lukas and I can remain alphas for another year or two until things settle down. You’ve got a whole pack and a loving mate behind you. It’s going to be ok.”
Artemis remained stoic.
There was a rapid knock on the door. Both turned to it, expecting for the doctor to barge in. Instead, a very worried Lukas entered.
“I heard you two ran in here. What’s wrong?” He looked over both women, determined to find what needed fixing.
Zena glanced worriedly at Artemis and then at her overly-dramatic mate. In an instant, she was pressed against his chest. “Maybe you should wait until I tell you tonight,” she tried to coax.
Lukas’ arms went around her instinctively. “No. I’m not leaving until I know everything is okay.”
Zena opened her mouth to blurt lies, but Artemis dealt the truth.
The pacing began. Lukas walked a straight line back and forth rigidly as his eyes followed his feet. There was nothing linear about his thoughts. They scribbled against his skull so wildly that they were drawing a headache.
“She’s only 21,” he muttered as he paced.
“So? I had her when I was 23,” Zena reminded him.
He came to a stop. “Okay.”
“Okay? No fainting or a rage fit?” Zena asked, bewildered. Who was this man and where did her mate go?
Lukas glanced at Artemis’ stomach unsurely. Knowing that his baby was about to have a baby was a weird thought. He exhaled, and in doing so ushered the temptations of anger and hatred out of his body.
“That lycan…” he began. Artemis prepared to cringe at the death threat Lukas would spit.
“He is not a bad man. He gets lost in his head sometimes, but he would never hurt my babies.”
Both women stiffened with shock. They watched Lukas step forward and slowly extend a hesitant hand.
He rested his palm on the flat residence of his grandchildren, looked at Artemis, and smiled. “I’m here for you.”
Artemis trembled with emotion and then jumped into his arms. Lukas hugged her and took a second to mentally thank Luna for the gift of fatherhood.
“You should rest,” Zena spoke moments later.
Artemis stepped away from Lukas’ embrace and watched her parents walk out of the room to give her much-needed space.
She stared at the closed door for a few minutes blankly before she unlocked her cellphone and sent a text to Raiden.
I’ll be hanging out with my parents tonight. Love you.
Instead of resting, she turned off her phone and let insecurities and fears have their way with her.
She fucked up. She forbade Raiden the one and only thing he asked for— time.
“I’m not ready to be a father.”
Hands found hair and tugged angrily. Tears found cheeks and conquered them.
She sobbed. Raiden tried to rush her away when they met because he thought it was best for her, he annihilated Ezekiel to keep her safe, he tried to get healthy to function in her society, he walked through the angry cries and glares werewolves hauled his way.
All for her. All for Artemis. All for his raven. All for Alpha Clark Rhee. All for the mother of his child.
He asked for one thing. Just one. And she stole it from him.
A groan slipped past Sol’s dry lips.
He sat up shakily and took in his surroundings.
A car? He slept in a car?
“Fucking Raiden. Bastard didn’t even take me home,” he crankily growled.
He pushed the door open and then stumbled outside. The sun’s brightness made his temples pulse. He glared at the eager giant and continued to stumble his way to the packhouse he was residing in.
He walked around the house Artemis and Raiden lived in and spotted Artemis.
“Good morning Art,” he greeted with a yawn.
Artemis avoided eyecontact—a sign of intimidation. Sol found the behavior odd since Artemis didn’t shy away from any male with the exception of Raiden.
“Are you okay?”
Artemis remained mute.
Sol was confused but too hungover to figure out the female alpha.
“Well, I’m going to shower. Tell Raiden that he should run the next time he sees me.” With another yawn, he began walking away.
Artemis looked at the house, and then at Sol’s retreating back. Maybe Sol’s presence would provide a calming effect? No one could understand Raiden better than Sol could.
Sol stopped and glanced at her puzzlingly nervous form.
“Can you stick around for a few?” she requested.
Sol scratched his jaw. He didn’t want to stick around. He wanted to locate the nearest cabinet of painkillers and drain it to get rid of his headache. But it’s not like he could say no to Artemis, especially since she was acting so out of whack.
He rubbed at his temples. “Fine but you owe me coffee.”
Artemis pushed past the door and yelped when she was abruptly snatched into a pair of arms.
“Damn woman,” Raiden growled as he inhaled her scent. “I missed you.”
Artemis felt a sharp force pressing against her lower stomach, too rigid to be his erection. She pushed him away in a burst of panic, worried that the pressure would harm the fetus.
She searched for the offensive object that poked her and discovered that it was his belt buckle.
Raiden chose to not think much of her retreat. “Was I too rough?” he chuckled and pushed a hand through his already messy hair. “Sorry, I got excited to see you.”
He smiled brightly and gave into the invisible gravity that magnetized him to step closer to her. Once again, Artemis stopped his attempts by palming his chest.
“I’m so sorry. I,” she tried to gulp down the ball of tension in her throat.
Thud. Thud. Thud. The agonizing vibrations in her chest made a comeback.
Her rejection welcomed a frown to Raiden’s face. He didn’t understand why she was looking at him with a toxic combination of shame and guilt.
It was then that he became aware of Sol’s presence. He glanced at the man, and then came to a conclusion.
“You...” his brown, confused eyes moved back to Artemis. “You and Sol... something happened?”
Did his mate sleep with his best friend?
The void cracked open. Wrath stirred from its depths and prepared to take over Raiden.
“No! Goddess no!” Artemis shook her head fast enough to nearly knock it off her shoulders.
Sol gasped, clearly offended. “You’ve got quite the nerve to accuse me of—”
Both lycans stumbled backward as if they just witnessed the sight of the moon dropping from the sky.
Artemis’ trembling hand settled on her flat stomach in a subconscious attempt to protect it from the pain of rejection. Raiden’s wide eyes followed the motion of her hand.
“No,” he whispered.
“No!” His innocent whisper became a murderous roar.
Raiden turned his back on her and hauled his fist through the nearest wall.
Sol was shocked by the sight of Raiden wreaking havoc on the living room. Raiden had avoided his destructive nature for so long that Sol almost forgot he was the lycan of Wrath.
Artemis swayed as her knees threatened to cave in. Sol hooked an arm around her waist to support her. He did so lightly, being mindful of the area that made Raiden lose control in the first place.
Artemis clung onto Sol's forearm as she silently sobbed. She was heartbroken but unable to look away from the sight that was causing her so much distress.
Raiden picked up a frame and turned to throw it. Before he could launch it, his eyes fell on a furious Sol and a torn Artemis.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” he growled at Sol.
Sol didn’t reply, so he turned to Artemis for answers. His chest heaved with fury as he reiterated the question. “Why are you looking at me like that?!”
“Calm down,” Sol drew out slowly.
“Get the fuck out of here, Sol,” Raiden snarled.
Artemis squared her shoulders. “No. I’ll leave.”
She swiped her face clear of tears. “I’m clearly the unwanted one here.”
“What are you talking about?” Raiden burned her with his gaze.
Artemis’ eyes focused on the frame in his bloody hand. Raiden realized the accusation and sent the object clattering to the ground.
“No. No,” he chanted frantically. “I’m not angry at you,” he promised softly. His arms which were raised up defensively weaved into his hair.
“It’s me! It’s always me!” he pulled at his locks and then shook his head madly to clear it.
“I’m not mad at you,” he repeated anxiously. “I could never be mad at you.” He kept walking forward until his hands were gently cupping her wet cheeks.
“I’m mad at myself. Not you. Never you.”
His eyes moved from her hurt expression to her chest to her stomach. “Because... now you’re tied down to me. And if you change your mind about—”
“Stop,” Artemis ordered the darkness that was trying to drag him into the void.
“I would never want to leave you, Raiden. You need to understand this already.”
“But if I mess up—” he argued.
“No,” she repeated firmly. “I have your mark for a reason. I’m yours forever,” she pressed her flat stomach against his.
Raiden swallowed hard once he felt the warmth of his mate and child.
A/N: Hey, chapter 56 might be the last one. Please don’t leave a review until the last chapter.
Love you guys a ton X