“What do I do?”
Her cold palms clung to the see-through chiffon. The fabric cast a flushed hue against her skin where silver flecks and small cut obsidian gems embellished her gown.Snow gazed at her reflection searching for the answers in her eyes. They where blank, heavy and dark. They had no answers. The shadowy circles underneath each eye gave away all that she desperately hides.
Fear was most of it. Exhaustion was but a fraction.
The tall glass windows separated her from the darkness beyond. Sharp shadows where the flame did not illuminate made her look thinner.
Brida was keen on laying creamy powder under her eyes as it somewhat lifted the shadows of her face. Dark brown pigment was packed above her eyelid making her eyes larger, the green of her iris a striking contrast.
Her earlobes burnt in the memory of Torryn’s wet skin against hers just a few minutes ago. In her memory, his hands gripped her in place where his manhood grew stiff. It was only then did he pulled away letting the handmaids attend Snow to her bath.
I should leave. I’d rip you out of your clothing and that’ll just keep you.She recalled him say.
Then, he left letting Brida come for her minutes after he had gone. Snow was burning red when she stepped out of the steaming water.
“Do what?” Torryn spoke from behind her.
She flinched as his voice echoed through the walls. The vast space in between the limestone made her feel small. Snow met his eyes and she was certain the walls grew wider. Her teeth grinded, as an imaginary pole shot to her back as it grew tense.
He was wearing a silver embroidered doublet; the black velvet made the framed stripes of metallic gray.The jacket hugged his body, from broad shoulders down to his abdomen. The black diamond on his earlobe drew attention to his cheekbones. Faint sideburns framed his face, a fair collection of hair rested on his chin, a mustache barely resting above his lips.
The Burnwood crest lay on his chest. The silver metal embossed a flame.
“Alpha,” she curtsied trails of chuckles escaping her lips.
“Milady,” a mischievous flicker glared through his eyes.
Torryn grinned. His expression shifted from winter to spring. His youth showed through his pearly white canines. Snow stared at him as she felt a sudden awe.
She was his mate. This viscously molded man with the world on his shoulders allowed himself to ease a grin around her.
The walls she knew she’d never enter came crashing down before her.
“How did I deserve such company, Sire.”
“Oh, it comes with a price, Milady.” The expression on his eyes grew sharp.
He bowed his chin peaking a sultry stare through his eyebrows. She lifted her chin stepping so close, Snow could feel the warmth of his breathe. She surveyed his eyes staring back at him.
“How do you do it?”
“Do what, little bird?” His fingers brushed a stray curl beside her face. The endearment still made her heart beat fast no matter how many times he’d call her that.
“Face people.” Her expressions grew stiff.
Torryn’s hand sunk to his pocket. He pulled it as soon as he obtained the item out his fingers. He held out his hand where a small box as the size of a cherry tomato lay still.
Strips of gold lined the opening of the box, its lids a tight shut letting the two bars of gold kiss. The lock had a flame embossed on a rectangular sheet of gold. He snapped the lock open and the lids parted.
“Another gift?” she giggled, her cheeks stained red.
His eyes were hungry soaking in all of her before he spoke, “Unfortunately, it goes on your finger.”
He took her hand and with ease placed the gift on her finger. Snow’s eyes widened to see a ring holding a black raw diamond.The rare gem was cut smooth within it a pepper cloud of black haze at the stone’s interior. Rose gold alloy held the diamond in place. The metal was well in Torryn’s pocket as his warmth seeped through solid gold.
“It’s your birthday present,” he said, “I was supposed to give it the night we celebrated our union.”
Snow closed her eyes shielding the embarrassment as she remembered how the night ended.
“I’m sorry. I was acting like a bloody child and I –
“It’s alright,” His fingers brushed her hand admiring the token. The smile on his face disappeared. His voice low and stern carried a different tone.
“Facing people is easy,” His eyes locked on her hand where the diamond clung, “Don’t burden yourself for how people treat you or see you. It’s just how they are.”
Snow nodded attentively as she listened.
“Facing yourself, on the other hand, takes courage,” his fingers landed on her chin gripping the narrow curve as he drowned in her eyes.
Snow’s gaze moved elsewhere as she stared up above Torryn’s hair that now began to grow long. Tears began to build small drops on the inner corners of her eyes as she spoke.
“How do I face such monster?” Her voice trembled.
“Submit yourself to it,” His fingers brushed the tears running down her cheeks, “Then, let it roll like waves of uncontrollable rage from your body. Give it a color. See it flow through your fingers. Give it a name. Not justthe viod.Name it by how it makes you feel –
“The void ... of hopelessness and desperation?” Snow cut him off sniffing the tears back.
Torryn looked at her confused. A chuckle rippled from her belly. Then right as her vision cleared, she saw him grin, a laugh escaping from his parted teeth.
“I know someone who’s just like you.” He smirked, “But we’re late so...”
Snow could not hide the astonishment in her face. Her mouth was wide open as her hands pushed against his chest stopping him from waking passed her.
“Who?” she begged.
“I’m famished, we better get to supper –
“I’ll do anything!”
His arms crossed against his chest. He looked at her ready to pounce. She swore she could feel him swallow her alive. Torryn licked his lips raising one side of his cheek in a smile oozing with mischief.
There was a full moon above them.
The night sky lit the meadows behind Burnwood mansion. The clearing where five flags stood was now surrounded with tents, a makeshift fortress bustling with festive wolves. The tent stood around the beacon of burning wood forming a horse shoe around the bonfire.The cool breeze blew against Snow’s gown sending the beige material flying through the air. The light gown revealed her back.
“You wore something underneath?”
Snow gave his shoulder a teasing slap as her eyebrows narrowed. He held her hands silently laughing as he tamed the rebellious garment. His other hand held the beige tulle. He didn’t want whatever lay beneath her gown to be seen by eyes other than his.
They were near the entrance to the tents when Snow whispered.
“Where’s the food?”
Torryn could not control his laughter. They stood before the entrance, a guard leaning in to greet the two. He entered before them and announced their arrival.
“Luke Percival Torryn of Burnwood.”
Torryn winced as Snow cackled in laughter. Before the guard could announce her name, she whispered something. Their coming drew in attention, more than Torryn expected.
The wolves began to clap their hands and howl praises as both entered. To his side, the guard nodded to Snow’s words. Torryn did not get the chance to hear.
Just as Snow finished, the wolf stood erect back to his post and spoke.
“Arabella Snow of Grimlake.”
His hazel eyes met hers an eyebrow arched questioning. She grinned back nodding her head while she was at it.
Torryn was pulled from her side by his men, half drunk and deep in merry. They gave their greeting in forms of playful punches and strangling. They were indeed drunk. In events when he was forced to wear his emblem, all of his men should address him accordingly.
Since when did Torryn follow the rules?
He locked Alfred’s neck in his flexed arm and began to rub his head. The men indulged in laughter, howls and greetings of more people followed trapping him in a sea of wolves. Reed had his coy smile painted on his face. His lips were pale when he spoke.
“I’m sorry, about the reaping –
Torryn took him in an embrace. The two pureblood Burnwoods held each other for a brief moment as the drums and howls diminished into a soft lull. The alpha tapped his hand firm against the boy’s back.
“You did so much better than my first reaping.” Torryn said. Reed came bursting into laughter. He released the boy pushing him towards his men.
“Get him drunk.” Torryn ordered.
As his men began to circle around Reed pushing lips of bottles in his mouth. His periphery found Snow receiving the greeting of other guests. She was timidly holding out her hand for a handshake by one of the Satos. Torryn came for her. The women nodded as they saw him.
“Excuse us ladies,” He spoke, “She needs to eat.”
The women giggled as he pulled her from the circle of women. His hand was on her belly rubbing against an empty chasm of twisting hunger pangs.
“Stop that,” Snow chuckled, “Or else they’ll get the wrong impression that I’m pregnant.”
“You could be,” he teased as he pulled her through a crowd of wolves occasionally stopping to accept a greeting.
“I’m not,” She insisted, “I would have smelled him if he were already there.”
“Him?” Torryn raised his brow, “You want a boy?”
She rolled her eyes dismissing the topic. Her cheeks were red. Torryn was amused of her innocence, how she still remains embarrassed when talking about love no matter how many times they have done the deed.
Snow cleared her throat as her eyes searched for something to eat. They headed near the table adorned with pit roasted meat, grilled vegetables and steamed poultry when he grabbed on to Snow’s waist and whispered, “pretty name.”
“Likewise,” she answered. The sarcasm sliced sharp against her tongue.
They were so close to the table of food when a crowd of Everett wolves halted them and gave their greeting. He heard Snow grunt.
Amidst the crowd of greeting wolves, he pulled her close and spoke close to her ear, “Let’s play a game. If you win, I’ll introduce you to the firstvoidI have ever met.”
“And If you win?” the drums beat louder as she raised her voice so Torryn could hear.
“Come run into the woods with me.” He bit his lip. Snow found a longing in his eyes as he held her close.
“In a dress?”
“In wolf form,” He searched for her face.
Torryn yearned for an approval. He longed for her as he inhaled her scent. Both wolves smelled like lavender but beneath her hair he inhaled her true scent. He dug his nose to her neck. Snow stepped back as eyes and mumbles from the crowd surrounded them. The wolves began to suppress their smile as they witnessed Torryn’s sudden show of affection.
“Ugh, such loud thoughts!” Margaux voice interrupted. She pulled Snow in her arms as she hugged her tight, “Dear sister, are you alright?”
Torryn saw Snow freeze as she wryly accepted the embrace. Snow looked awkward but leaned to Margaux as she grew accustomed to her touch.
“She’s alive!” Lais ran with a bottle of rum in her hands. A hiccup here and there interrupted her words.
“You’re late,” A flushed Willow rolled her eyes and darted at Torryn, “Can’t you survive a day without your hands off my sister?”
“Willow, please?” Snow cupped Willow’s lips, a trace of warm fluid touched her palm.
“You are talking to the alpha of Burnwood. You’re going to get us in trouble.” Celeste’s voice made her sisters restore their senses. The three stood beside each other with their heads down. Lais had the bottle behind her back as the humidity caused the cold flask to drip teardrops of liquid.
“Come to think of it,” Clara interrupted, “Torryn is our brother now, alpha or not.”
The three women gazed at each other and without warning had themselves all over him.
A drunk Lais was messing up his hair when another tipsy Willow pulled on the emblem on his neck.
“We are not odd,” Margaux who only had a few sips sparkling wine darted at Torryn, “Lais is not messing your hair she’s fixing it.”
Help. Torryn mouthed as Snow headed to the smell of roast meat.
Clara and Celeste pulled Snow to the longest wooden table she has ever seen. She walked closer to see the surface a collection of multiple tables. On one end, plates of steaming food lay.
“Eat,” Celeste ordered.
She was beautiful. She wore a black flowy gown with gold lace stitched on her chest.Clara was wearing a blue silk gown, diamonds dangling down her ear. Her belly formed a smooth curve on her abdomen as she sat beside her.
“I still don’t have a name for him,” Clara grinned as she caught Snow staring.
“He?” Snow’s eyes widened. She could not contain the smile on her lips. Clara nodded.
“I sensed him even before my impurity stopped,” Her face shifted a curious expression. She glared at Snow and asked, “What about you?”
Snow wide eyed immediately shook her head, “No, I’m not pregnant.”
“Not yet,” Clara teased.
“Disgusting,” Celeste spoke as she sat a glass of water before Snow, “I should split the two of you. You need to eat. And you, need to rest.”
“Yes, mom.” Clara sighed as she stood from her seat. Her lips landed a kiss on Snow’s forehead as she stood.
“Eat up, carrier.” Clara teased.
“And Snow,” Celeste looked back at her, her gray eyes piercing and sharp, “Don’t be late for the Victor’s Welcome tomorrow. You need to light the first kill at dawn.”
Snow dropped her jaw as her heart slammed against her chest. She held on to it and stared at Celeste for a good minute.
She nodded holding in her words. Snow felt her chest could burst as her sisters left.
They were the victors.
She was about to let whatever voice her chest held back when her stomach growled a hungry pang.
“Here’s the rules: each of us start off with a full glass of wine,” Torryn’s eyes searched the crowd as he spoke, “Every time a man looks at you, head to toe, admires your beauty -- you know what I mean. You take sip.”
“And that proves?” Snow giggled.
“Listen,” Torryn sat beside her at the table as more wolves crowded the tent, “And every time an elder scowls at me, I take a sip. The one who finishes the glass of wine first wins.”
“That is fair because?” Snow took a fork of cake from her plate and stuffed it in her mouth. Milk and berries coated her tongue.
“Because I can assure you, I suck at being who I am most days. I’m as flawed as you. Their disapproval is a proof to that,” His finger pointed at the elders where they sat together against a raised collection of pillows where. Their porcelain pots steamed. They sat sipping their tea, observing the crowd.
“And?” She took a strawberry dunked it in cream. She bit the coated tip as Torryn continued.
“And, no matter how often they scowl at me, how much they want someone else to be their alpha, I’m still here.” Torryn held the emblem on his chest. Snow caught a hint of sadness on his eyes as he looked at the shining medal.
I want you here.Snow thought.
“You, little bird, can be whoever you want to be,” He added, “And people will judge you, stare you down but you will still be here. Show them that you’re not going anywhere.”
They stared deep into each other and Snow’s cheeks brunt.
She felt the cool glass in her fingers and softly collided it with Torryn’s.
Watching how many people looked made her stomach turn. She burped and felt nauseous. The thought of anothervoidsomewhere, someone like her, made her push through.
Torryn smiled as both sat back on their chairs watching the crowd from their corner of the room. Immediately he saw Damien Everett emerge from a sea of dancing bodies. He stood up from his seat and raised his hand to the man.
“Alpha,” Damien grinned. The ash blonde hair on his head was cut short. His coat was a sparkling silver. Snow thought it looked like solid metal sheets.
“Shut up,” Torryn pulled the man and embraced him. Just as he did, Snow saw one elder shake her head. She could not suppress the giggle forming on her lips as he tapped on Torryn’s shoulder.
“Drink up,” She said. Torryn brought the glass to his lips and took a good gulp.
This was easy.Snow thought.
“Ah, the beautiful Grimlake huntress,” Damien kissed Snow’s hand as she bowed her head in greeting.
“Please,” She said, “Call me Snow.”
Torryn watched as Damien surveyed his mate. His jaw clenched shut and hoped Snow would have worn something less revealing.
He eyed Snow and gestured with his hand that she too needed to drink. Snow looked away from Damien who still had her hand in his. She sipped the cold fluid.
The alcohol stung her nostrils as she coughed. Her chest warmed as the three took a seat.
“You just had to choose the strongest wine,” Snow whispered. Torryn’s head snapped back as he laughed.
“You shoot like you’ve been doing it all you bloody life, woman.” Damien could not contain his amazement.
Snow giggled, “My father started me off young. I was four when he carved me a bow. It still had groves where my small hands could rest.”
“No wonder,” He nodded.
“All this dancing hurts my feet,” Akar dropped to Damien’s side a girl trailed down behind him.
“You must by Kyla,” Torryn held out his hand to the girl, “You’re of Snow’s age. I hoped for you two to meet.”
“Hello,” Kyla nodded at Snow just as Torryn sat back down.
“Brother,” Akar had his hands wide open for Torryn. The two embraced as boyish giggles muffled their exchange of greeting. Torryn lifted Akar from his feet as two more elders flashed a smug expression for his actions.
“Drink,” Snow tapped on Torryn’s shoulder. He obeyed.
“I have heard so much about you,” Akar bowed his head before Snow as he sat down. His hair was on a bun on his head.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” Torryn said.
The Sato siblings stared at Snow in admiration. Akar nodding his head as Torryn spoke.
Torryn’s knee nudged hers as Snow leaned the wine glass on her lips. Another flow of heat trickled down her throat as she drank. A chuckle left her lips as she gulped. The colors of the tent became brighter, as she felt her shoulders ease.
“Your arrows, they were unique. They were smaller.” Akar said.
“My sisters made them,” She replied, “They’re called night-lock arrows. The tip is coated with moon lily pollen.”
Snow faced Damien as her hands supressed a smile, “Those made your men fall asleep.”
Damien squinted his eyes as he bagan to chuckle.
“The tear gas hit me hard,” Damien said, “Look at my bloody eyes.”
Snow peaked through her wine glass and saw that the whites of his eyes where still red.
“You where the big black wolf!” Snow’s body eased against the alcohol. She cupped her lips with the sudden flow of words. Damien nodded as Torryn cracked up.
“What?” Snow asked.
“That’s what my wife calls me.” Damien squinted his eyes as he too laughed with Torryn.
The drums began to beat a slow rhythm. The dancing wolves settled in pairs as each swayed to the rhythm. Akar held his hand out to Snow. She shook her head and leaned back to her seat.
“Please,” Snow begged, “I don’t dance.”
“And, I don’t bite.” Akar took her hand anyway. Snow jolted up from her seat with the wine glass still in her hands. Akar pulled her out into the crowd of wolves not letting her settle her drink on the table.
The man caught her waist as she stiffened.
“Relax,” Akar laughed, “Torryn has marked you beautifully, Milady.”
Snow nodded as he held on to his shoulders. She spoke in attempts to change the subject.
“You two knew each other since you were cubs?”
Akar nodded, “You know, Torryn has changed a lot ever since your union.”
“What made you say that?”
“Look at how he smiles at you,” Snow looked over Akar’s shoulder.
Damien and Torryn where talking. Kyla was deep in discussion while the two men attentively listened.
Torryn had his eyes on Snow just as Akar said.
“Torryn did not choose to be alpha,” Akar said, “After his father died, the disappearance of his brother pushed him to his rank. He spent days away from home to think. Unlike his older brother, Dimitri, Torryn grew up to be the rebellious sibling.”
Akar’s hand spun her around and pulled her back in. Snow has not stepped on his foot for a long while. It was a good sign.
“He stayed with the Satos until he could make up his mind,” He added, “Do you know what wolves fear the most?”
“Silver?” Snow chuckled. Akar let out a loud laugh as he drew his head back. He shook his head as Snow waited for his answer.
“Wolves fear the kill,” His tone was still light and flowy despite the serious expression on his face, “Torryn had his first kill when he was just thirteen, right before his brother disappeared. Ever since he was fond of it – almost addicted to it slaughtering any rogue wolf that came across him. Word broke out of how viscous and heartless he was. And, that’s not the Torryn, I knew.”
Snow stiffened as she watched Torryn. He was brushing his bangs with his fingers as they grew long. The smile on his face was gentle and sincere. The Torryn this world knew was a hundred shades darker than the Torryn she met.
“With the fear of killing out of his way,” Akar added, “I always thought he could fear nothing more. I still believed thay until the day of the reaping.”
“What happened?” Snow asked.
“He marched in to Sato’s base. As soon as he saw me, he told me in a low stern voice that if my men saw you, if they laid a hand on you, he would come after me.”
Snow’s forehead scrunched. Confused and dumbfounded she stepped back and waited for an explanation.
“Apparently, he told the same thing to Damien before the hunt started.”
“Why?” Snow asked.
“He feared that something might happen to you,” Akar smiled, “And Torryn has never cared for anyone but himself until you came along.”
Snow did not say a word. Akar continued.
“He wasn’t the elders’ first choice. He still isn’t. Torryn remains a deviant to them all.” Akar shook his head, “But you know, Torryn did something that pleased them, the first only thing that pleased them.”
“What’s that?” Snow asked.
Her cheeks flushed as Akar lead her back to her seat. She saw Torryn’s glass was almost empty when she sat. She took a good look at hers and her heart sank.
She was to lose the bet. She swirled the wine half full in her cup the humidity forming droplets on the cold glass. Her head spun as she placed the glass down.
She was losing. And she was getting drunk.
Snow shook her head brushing the alcohol away and whispered to Torryn, “You win.”
“Giving up so quickly?” Torryn smirked as he drank the last of his wine. Snow peered through the crowd. Another elder had her eyes on Torryn. The woman shook her head as she sipped her steaming drink.
“What’s their problem?” Snow’s hand stretched out at the miserable elder.
Torryn chuckled, “They hate me.”
In an instant, alcohol lifted Snow from her seat. Her flushed hands held the tulle gown up to her thighs so she could walk without resistance.
Snow freed one hand as it found a bottle of wine on a table where five passed out wolves lay sleeping.
She marched to the elders placing the wine on their table.
“I offer my dear elders some wine,” She spoke as she nodded her head, the women mirrored her nod as she held the bottle in place.
“The strongest wine for the most displeased women I have ever met.”
The women looked at each other in confusion. Snow wasn’t finished. She had her hands on her hips as the alcohol rippled trails of courage out her tongue.
“And, Ladies, I don’t like how you look at my husband. By the Gods, loosen up.”
One of the elders, faced her a smile painted on her lips. She curtsied a farewell almost tripping on to her feet. The alcohol made her dizzy.
She walked away without another word. Snow treaded back to the table as her chest brimmed with her energy.
From where she stood, she saw Damien and Akar cackle deep in laughter. Kyla dropped her jaw as she witnessed what Snow did. She saw the fear in Kyla’s eyes and smiled.
Torryn had his head back to his seat. His eyes were closed shut, his beautiful mouth parted in waves after waves of laughter. She was so close to the table when his eyes met hers.
He stood up and said, “To the woods, Milady?”
He bowed one hand across his stomach the other on his back.
She curtsied and let him lead her out.
Another side of Torryn for us all to feast on. ❤
How does Arabella Snow sound?
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Next chapter teasers:
-Snow in wolf form
-The Four Great witches
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“By the Gods, hit that star button! - ur gurl Snow”