For almost fifteen years of his normal life, Xavier Crawford had dreaded the day, which was only two weeks away. After the tragic incidents of the past, he had left the royal life to start fresh and safe as he didn’t want his mistakes to hover over his family as a threat. He had kept the truth about their existence from his son for almost as many years and had succeeded too, only to fail now. In two weeks from the present day, Elliot, his son, would turn eighteen. He would reach his prime and soon his wolf will want to unleash itself. Despite how much Xavier wanted to stop the change, he could not. It had to happen, but what he wouldn’t have wondered was the fact that Malcolm would still be out, looking for him; seeking revenge.
Three days ago, he had been returning from the university where he taught English Literature when he had scented Malcolm just a block away from where he was. He had been so infuriated and scared at the same time that he had to change his route and go around the entire city to reach his house. When he entered the house, Greta had sensed his apprehension through the mate bond and had gone into a frenzy because later that night, Elliot hadn’t returned at his usual time. Even though he was at a house party, both Xavier and Greta hadn’t calmed down until Elliot had stepped inside the house, at midnight.
Right now, Xavier wished for nothing but his son’s protection. Neither did he want him to turn in front of humans. Even that would be equally dangerous to Malcolm finding them. So Xavier decided that he would tell Elliot about their lycan side sooner than he had anticipated.
Later that night, scrunching his nose in disgust, Elliot woke up to a pungent whiff in the air, which smelled like the mixture of months old bacon and had a metallic hint to it. At first, the smell was not prevailing but by the passing seconds, it grew stronger. It made Elliot gag; slowly opening his eyes, he took in his surroundings in search of water and the source of the disgusting odour. The window to his room was open wide, letting the moonlight inside which illuminated the entire room. Everything was exactly how it was before he went to sleep but what was that smell? He could not understand what was happening. Throwing his legs to the left, he wore his slippers and walked out of the room. Another thing that he could not decipher was that even in little to no light, he could clearly make out everything. He followed the stench, which was leading him out of the house. Once he was near the door, he came to a stop as he heard sounds of shuffling. What shocked him was the fact that the noise was coming from his parent’s room. Now, this is downright strange, he thought while massaging his temple. He felt like something was clawing him from the inside. Before he could question his sanity, his father was descending the stairs.
“Why are you up at this ungodly hour?” He asked Elliot.
“I couldn’t sleep.” He didn’t mention the reason why because he didn’t want his father to think that he was crazy.
“What’s the matter, son? I can tell that you are tense.”
“Nothing, dad.” A bottle full of water caught his attention and he sighed. “I came down here because I was thirsty.”
With that, he left Xavier standing alone in the darkness, thinking about the next morning when he would take Elliot to the woods behind their house and show him who they were.
Hundreds of miles away, Celeste was cursing her friend Tyra. Stupid, stupid Tyra. Why did she have to go and announce to everyone that she had a crush on Scott? Now all of them would think of her as a softy and Scott wouldn’t let it pass by that easily. She was sure that he will make a move on her and that was what she didn’t want. She didn’t want to reject him and hurt him. But the emotion that was dominant right now was rage, she wanted to kill Tyra for such a dim mistake. God, she groaned, why was she even friends with her?
Amidst all the chaos that her mind was in, she managed to dress up for the pack meeting her dad had arranged. Her dad, being the alpha of their pack, had been planning something big. Once ready, she raced down the stairs of the packhouse only to bump into the last person she wanted to see. Scott. He was grinning wickedly down at her as if he had won a million dollars on a game show. Instead of cowering away, she looked right back at him with the same intensity as his, if not more.
“Watch where you go, dumbass.” She hissed, never once letting her guard drop. She didn’t want anyone thinking that what Tyra had said was true.
“Are you sure you didn’t bump into me intentionally? ’Cause from what I’ve heard-” Celeste didn’t let him finish the sentence. Setting her mouth into a hard line, she growled at him, “What others say about me isn’t always true. Get that straight.”
“Someone’s in denial.” He sang out. Waving him off dismissively, she walked past him to where other members of the pack were gathered, waiting for their alpha to arrive. Their pack was not big, only a forty-seven lycans, including Scott who was a new addition. He had been banished from the pack everyone here hated -Strathclyde Pack. Ages ago, her parents had been a part of that pack but things went downhill, and a new alpha had to be appointed. The new alpha -Ben- was a complete ass to everyone, thought of himself as if he was the almighty. That’s when Celeste’s parents turned rogue and at one fateful night, left the sorry excuse that was Strathclyde Pack.
What Celeste knew about this meeting was that her parents were planning something against Ben’s pack. A few days ago, suspicious activities had been reported to her father, Blayne Sinclair. Also, some wolves from the said pack were seen and scented in Blayne’s territory.
Two days ago, after the dinnertime, five wolves from the west side of the packhouse had suddenly turned feral. They had destroyed anything and everything that came in their way but ten minutes later, they had shifted back to their human form and lied trembling on the floor, as if having a seizure. In the next minute, they died. All the clues pointed to only one thing, Ben would stoop down to any level in order to bring the rogues down.
On sensing her parents near, she straightened herself and waited for them to enter. Everyone around did the same, going still. Once Blayne and Colina Sinclair were inside the pack-room, all the wolves bowed in respect. Not a minute later, the meeting began.
“We have all gathered here for the pressing issues and finding a permanent solution to them.” Blayne Sinclair’s voice roared. Everyone seated around murmured their approval. “Now that we have figured that it’s the Strathclyde Pack who has been behind the feral attack, we are ready to take enduring steps against them. Two nights from now, we’ll be attacking Ben’s pack. All my enforcers and the powerful wolves will be accompanying me while the females and pups will stay back along with Dominic. We also have come across the suspicion that there is a possibility of having a traitor amongst us, an informant of Ben.” Everyone gasped and began mumbling.
“Alpha, if the informant is along with us, shouldn’t we be discrete about this plan and shouldn’t we be confronting the person?” Celeste drawled menacingly.
“I second that, Alpha. The informant might notify Ben about our plan.” Dominic, the Beta’s son said.
Not wanting to go into the specifics, Blayne kept his reply vague. “After taking every scenario into consideration, I have called this meeting. You have my word on it. Two days, not even the informant will be able to prevent what’s about to come.”
With that said, the Alpha continued recruiting the enforcers while Tyra, Janet, and Celeste, along with other females, left the pack-room. When Janet went back to her room, Celeste pinned Tyra with a glare.
“What were you thinking when you announced that?” Celeste raised her eyebrows questioningly.
Tyra swallowed hard before speaking, “I wasn’t thinking.” She shook her head, “You know I am the worst person when it comes to keeping secrets. I am sorry, Celeste.”
Celeste sighed, “You know what dad will do if he gets to know about this? About my crush?” Tyra nodded, her eyes watering.
“Okay, don’t start the waterworks now. I will deal with dad, I can’t deal with tears.” Tyra instantly beamed at her and hugged her, squeaking ‘thank yous’. After that, they had a little bit of girl talk. Once it started getting late, both of them began walking towards their rooms when Scott called out, “Celeste, can I have a minute with you?” He sounded nervous but was trying his best to cover it up. Celeste nodded while Tyra said goodbye, leaving them alone.
“I was wondering if you are free tomorrow night.” He scratched the back of his neck.
Not meaning to sound eager, she said, “I suppose I can spare some of my time for whatever you want.” Her heart was hammering against her chest as she struggled to hide her blush and stay her confident self, at the same time.
“So I’ll be waiting for you outside the packhouse at eight?” He asked and Celeste meekly nodded. That night, sleep came late to her.
The next morning, Xavier woke up earlier than his usual time. It was Saturday and Elliot would be at home, so it was a perfect opportunity for him to reveal their real self. He hadn’t slept the previous night. Tossing and turning, he kept thinking what Elliot’s reaction would be. Now the time had come, but he was afraid to lose him. He hadn’t discussed this with his wife, Greta as he knew she would object so it was only him who had to bear that unease.
When it was about eight, Xavier robotically walked inside Elliot’s room and shook him ever so slightly, “Come on, son. Wake up.” Elliot groaned and dug his face under the pillow. Xavier smiled at his childish behaviour and a pang of guilt hit his chest, making him wince. He was thankful that Greta was sleeping otherwise she would have felt it too. He shook his son again and this time he huffed and sat up, rubbing his eyes.
“What is it, dad? It’s only,” he looked at his bedside clock then looked back at his father, eyes wide, “eight. Why are you waking me up so early? Is something wrong?”
“No, everything’s good. I just wanted to have a walk so I thought we’d go to the woods together and have a father-son time?” He gave him a crooked smile.
“At eight?” Elliot groaned again but walked up to the bathroom, “Give me ten minutes.” Xavier nodded and went back downstairs. True to his word, Elliot had gotten ready in ten minutes with strange thoughts going around in his mind. He knew his father was hiding something, hell, he could even feel his anxiety. That had never happened before and it was bugging him. Strangely, there was a feeling of a thrill as well, but it was not Elliot who was feeling it, it was something else inside him. Maybe the inner voice? He thought.
While they were walking towards down the woods, Elliot tried having a conversation with his dad, only to have a one-word reply or a vague gesture. He was confused because when they reached a clearing, Xavier had stopped abruptly. Then facing Elliot, he said, “Stay here and maintain a safe distance from me.” Furrowing his eyebrows, he did what his father said.
When Xavier was almost ten feet away from him, he exhaled loudly, “Elliot, whatever happens, don’t forget that we’re a family. Don’t let, what I’m going to show you, change anything and don’t ever think any different of yourself or of your mother and me.”
Now Elliot was scared. Why was he talking like he was having a fatal disease or something? “Why would I think like that, dad? What’s going on?” He wanted answers, he hated not knowing things.
Instead of answering his son, Xavier started removing his clothes, gaining sceptical looks from Elliot. He looked away before Xavier’s last piece of clothing came out. After that, he heard bone-cracking sounds making his insides turn.
“Shall I look now?” He asked Xavier but he heard a growl in reply. Slowly, he turned his head to witness a huge black wolf was standing on his all fours in place of his father. At first, he had thought that the wolf ate his father and panicked, but then he looked into the wolf’s eyes and he straight away knew what was going on. Holy shit, he murmured.
Meanwhile, Celeste was going through her wardrobe along with Tyra babbling about what to wear and what not to. Celeste had been with guys before -no strings attached. The boys she hooked up with also knew her intention very well so there never was a problem but she was afraid that things with Scott might get real and she was getting fidgety, she wasn’t ready. Then there was a thought of betraying her true mate, wherever he was. Tyra had continuously reminded her that a little harmless flirting won’t be considered as cheating so Celeste recited that thought in her mind over and over again. She wasn’t betraying anyone. No, she wasn’t.
“This one, it’s perfect,” Tyra exclaimed, holding a shimmery grey dress with a low cut neck. It ended a little above mid-thigh. Nodding in approval of her friend’s choice, she took the dress and went to change. While in the bathroom she went through the pros and cons of going on the date. Even though the pros weighed out the cons, she couldn’t help but feel on edge. Then there was the fact that Ben’s pack was ready to do anything for bringing them down but Scott would protect her, wouldn’t he?
Once she was ready with her hair left in loose curls and minimal makeup but smoky eyes, she slipped into her silver heels and when it was five minutes past eight, she walked out of the packhouse. That morning she had notified her parents about the date. While her mother had been excited and happy for her, her father wasn’t sure about Scott as he was the prime suspect of being Ben’s informant. So Blayne had made sure to have Dominic follow them everywhere, secretly. He didn’t want his daughter to end up in any kind of trouble, he loved her so much.
Scott was waiting for Celeste in a navy blue button-up and black skinny jeans, he was even wearing a leather jacket, which had Celeste thinking that she was overdressed for the situation but Scott made sure that she knew how perfect she looked, he had called her beautiful too.
When they were far away from the packhouse, Celeste’s wolf began panicking but she kept a strong front, smiling at Scott now and then.
“Where are we going?” She struggled to keep her voice levelled but failed miserably. When Scott didn’t reply and smirked evilly at her, she knew that her father’s fear had been real. Cursing herself for not listening to Blayne, she asked Scott about the location once again when a hand came out of nowhere and clamped her mouth shut. Another handheld down her flailing arms but she didn’t stop fighting. Twisting her body a little, she used her heels as a weapon and kicked Scott under his knees. That move made Scott lose his grip on the steering wheel and the car swerved to the right.
“Bitch.” Scott hissed loudly. “Chloroform, Nathan.” He ordered and the guy holding her left her mouth but kept a firm grip on her wrists.
“My dad would tear you apart, limb by limb for this, Scott. He was right, you are a fucking snake.” Celeste growled. Her claws grew longer but before she could shift, Nathan covered her nose with the chloroform-filled handkerchief. She tried her best not to inhale but she couldn’t hold back herself from breathing anymore. Slowly, everything around her began to fade and all she could see was black.