One | Cleo
THIS IS BOOK 2 YOU HAVE TO READ BOOK 1 FIRST OR THIS WILL BE CONFUSING
Waking up was always the hardest part for me. Not because I was lazy and was not a morning person. Not because I had a job to get to. But because opening my eyes forced me back into reality. Sleep had become a refuge for me, a way to live in an alternate reality. If I did not dream, I probably would have reached insanity a long time ago.
Many times I had contemplated finishing what Hakota started. I had held the blade at my throat ready to cut and just let it all go but I never did it. I owed the lycans and the only way I could repay them was to live. I had accepted the bond with Hakota and never broke it off so I entered my heat four times a year so that they could all finally get what they wanted.
Cleo had died that day in the courtyard, the day where I had last seen Hakota, and I mean it both literally and figuratively. My heart had stopped beating, I had technically died but Coda refused to let me go in peace. He found a knife that had my mate's blood on it and had forced my mouth open and cleaned the blade on my tongue. When I came back though I wasn't the same. Something inside me changed knowing my mate hated me so much he had killed me. I became this empty shell, unable to feel anything.
I had tried fighting, purposely provoking people to hit me but even that gave me no satisfaction. There was no feeling as I felt my bones break or watched as the blood trickled down my skin so I had stopped. I had spent a long time searching for a way to feel something, but the only thing I found was self loathing. This deep unending well of hate that festered within me was the only thing I could feel. Nearly driving me to insanity I had closed that off and just accepted that I would never feel anything again.
I changed my name to Rala which meant 'unfeeling' in the old language and moved on with my new life. I didn't try to resurrect Cleo, I let her be. I stayed in the old kingdom, the forest kingdom bringing back too many memories.
I slid out of the bed, untangling myself from the sheets and leaving the male body next to me alone. I dressed myself and made breakfast, leaving as I always did to go to work before he ever even awoke.
I left the townhouse, stepping into the street and walked my way to my place of employment. I passed the stone house crammed wall to wall up and down the many streets. Here in the old kingdom everything was city, no forests around for miles. For some reason the humans loved it here, bustling around in a mindless daze, going to work and trying to climb their way through the ranks and reach greater wealth.
I myself, although my living arrangements didn't show it was quite wealthy. My job payed well and I was never in limited supply of customers. Here in the old kingdom people didn't want to get their hands dirty. They payed for someone to take care of their problems. It had been strange to me at first having spent most of my life in the first kingdom where killing someone to settle a problem was a normal part of life. After adjusting to a completely different lifestyle and set of ideals I learned how I could thrive.
I did what I did best and killed people. A hunter was the best kind of assassin, with our venomous bites and scratches and quick reflexes we were in much higher demand than werewolf assassins who didn't understand the word discreet.
Arriving at a small studio complex, my office of which was at the top floor, I dug out my keys and opened up shop. Berma, an elderly woman who rented the space below me was already setting up. She owned a famous bakery, known for her berry pastries. I myself never enjoyed sweet things but I did enjoy the aromas that wafted up from her store.
I murmured a hello at her jovial greeting, making my way up the stairs to where an ebony door blocked entrance to my office. I unlocked the four locks on my door and swung it open to reveal a practically empty room save for a desk a large chair behind it and a chair in front of it. A white bear skin rug contrasted against the black furniture and wood flooring. I took a seat in my chair, kicking up my feet on the desk. Pulling open my drawer, I rummaged through the files of assassination requests. Many of them were quite boring and I had no desire to do boring things so they went back in my desk for a rainy day.
I preferred walk-ins. Looking into the eyes of my customers always made it more enjoyable for me. I liked seeing them squirm or fake bravado and confidence in front of me. Some even had the nerve to talk to me like I was beneath them.
The door opened, letting in the scent of freshly backed bread. I didn't even look up as the werewolf walked in, dropping a brown paper bag on my desk and reclining back in the only other chair.
"If you break my chair again, I'll make you pay for it this time," I drawled before snapping the folder shut and dropping it into the drawer. I gave him a pointed look, before pulling open the brown bag and looking to see what he brought me. The strong scent of spiced meat filled my nostrils as I inhaled. Raising a brow I asked the grinning werewolf. "You found elk?"
"Only the best for you," he sang, letting the front two legs of the chair hit the ground as he leaned forward. "And of course I expect you to share."
I closed up the bag and placed it at my feet. "I'm not your mommy Terrin. It's not my job to feed you."
The scrawny werewolf smirked, "No, but you are my best friend and best friends share."
I rolled my eyes and went back to reading my files. "Any good information?" I asked him.
After leaving the old kingdom I went back to the territories while trying to find something that might make me feel again. I found Terrin, more like he found me, when I stood atop a waterfall, ready to make the plunge and see if I'd survive. I told him everything that had happened, how my father set me up, how I killed him, and how Hakota had tried to kill me.
Terrin followed me on my quest, staying with me through all the shit I put him through. When we'd returned to the old kingdom and I started my business Terrin became a spy, laundering information he was paid to find out. He of course told me everything he learned and always brought me lunch.
"More useless squabbling and threats between the upperclass. Nothing of use, to us anyway." I glanced up at him seeing him play with the paperweight in my desk.
I sighed and folded up the folder, steepling my fingers together. "You were otherwise occupied last night, weren't you?"
Terrin snorted, "No," he muttered.
"Your eye is doing that thing where it twitches," I informed him, "you only do that when you are thinking about a certain lycan." Over the course of two years Syn had tracked Terrin down and made numerous efforts to contact him. When he'd finally gotten the hint Terrin wanted nothing to do with him he started being less nice and understanding.
"Alright, Syn showed up last night okay?" He crossed his arms grumpily.
"And...?" I waited for him to give me the details.
"He just spouted more bullshit! He yelled at me for sleeping with that female." He tossed his hands in the air, "how did he even find out about her? Do I have a sign that says 'I slept with someone' stapled to my forehead?"
"You do this little skip thing and have this self satisfied smirk after," I admitted.
My friend tossed his head back and groaned. "For the love of Lune, why can't he just leave me alone?"
"Well you are his mate," I reminded him of the obvious.
He covered his face with his hands. "Why? That can't be right, there has to be a mistake. I don't like guys! I love girls, I like everything about them. I enjoy being a male and I don't think Syn is the one who would be bottoming–"
"It's about more than just sex, Terrin," I scolded him. Syn was still important to me and I felt for him. I knew what it felt like to be unwanted by your mate. "And it's not about you being gay or straight either. Love isn't decided by your attraction to a certain gender it's about your feelings towards a person."
"Easy for you to say," Terrin grumbled.
"Terrin," I said in my warning tone.
"I don't get it," Terrin exploded. "How could you still care about them? Hakota left you there to die, they all turned their backs on you. Why do you care about their happiness when they obviously don't give a shit about yours?" His eyes were on my neck where a mess of scars littered the skin. My hand subconsciously went to my neck to cover it. Terrin looked away immediately, guilt written all over his face. "Sorry."
I sighed and let my hand drop. "I want you to be happy Terrin. Your current lifestyle is unfulfilling, you don't have any family."
"I have you," Terrin immediately objected.
I gave him a pointed look. "Exactly, you have me. That is nothing to be proud of."
"Well I am proud of you, Cleo." I flinched at the name but said nothing to the werewolf. "You've been through a hell of a lot and you're still living," he stood up and started pacing the room while ranting. "But don't talk to me about an unfulfilling life. You think that running from Hakota and just surviving from day to day is living?" He ran a hand through his hair and turned to me, a hand placed on his hip. The once scrawny boy had changed a lot in these two years. He'd grown up as I had and I could really see it now. He was packing on muscle, he fit in his body better, no longer lanky and wiry. In fact he looked older than he was and perhaps part of that was my fault. He worried about me too much, worried about the lycans—or anyone for that matter—finding out I was alive and where I was.
"The alpha of lycans is destroying the world looking for your body and I'm the one stuck covering your ass because you refuse to leave the damn old kingdom where they live." He slammed both of his palms on my desk, leaning in so we were nose to nose. "You are wanted by both sides in this stupid war. Your life is in danger every second of every day and you just sit here in this damn office, taking payments to kill people." I stayed quiet as I let Terrin vent. It was good for him to get this out. Maybe he could relax a little. "Better yet, you are sleeping with that stupid werewolf who must be one hell of an understanding guy to have stayed with you for this long and be okay with the fact you don't let him mark you but suffer through your damn heat for another male's sake."
It was silent when he finished saying his peace. I took a second to absorb everything he'd said. "What do you want me to say?" I asked him.
Terrin exhaled a shaky breath. "I want you to say that you're happy. I want you to be able to smile and laugh again." Terrin's tone had taken on a pleading note. "It's been almost two years, Cleo." He said to me, "Either face him or forget him."