Waiting in Darkness

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Nine | Terrin

To say I was nervous about telling Heidi was the understatement of the century. I was terrified of how she would react. Heidi had always been so sweet and understanding, surely she would understand this?

What I was doing was selfish, I knew it was. It wasn't fair to ask Heidi to wait for me, to have to share me. It also wouldn't be fair to have never given Syn a chance. He only got one mate after all, at least I had a bit more freedom than that. But was doing this worse? Was giving him hope, even when we both knew how against our mating I was, even crueler than just letting him go? Should I have just let him walk away from me?

Yes. I should have. It would have been kinder to him. Instead my own selfishness had gripped hold and spewed the lies necessary to get him to stay for a little while longer. I needed him until I was sure Heidi could replace his attentions.

I was a horrible person. A mate that no one deserved. Heidi and Syn both deserved better. I was always thinking of myself but it was a hard habit to break when I had been doing it most my life. For so long I had never had someone else to worry about, to consider. All I had was this dark loneliness that refused to go away. It was a feeling burned in my soul, this feeling of being unwanted.

Was it so wrong of me to want someone I could trust to stick by my side? Someone I could be happy with, build a life with? Syn offered company but I feared I could never grow to love him that way. Loving someone only to not be loved in return was a horrible feeling and I didn't want Syn to experience that forever. If I was to mate him, that would be the sad reality. He would love me unconditionally, spoil me and care for me. He would love me while I could never return those feelings. I wouldn't deserve his love. But I could deserve Heidi's, I knew I could love her back. That sort of attraction was just natural with her. She was female and a werewolf.

Loving a lycan would have been hard enough. The lycan wars were still fresh in the minds of werewolves even if they had ended nearly a century ago. We had suffered under the lycans for centuries, been considered less and inferior. The Forest Kingdom had felt it the worst during the lycan wars when the lycans were pushed out of the Old Kingdom and forced to retreat. I had been raised to hate the lycans, been reminded of their oppression at every turn. To get over those prejudices would have been hard enough but then I had also seen the proof for myself. Hakota's war against the Lunars had been brutal. He hadn't cared who got hurt, innocent or not. In his mind everyone not a lycan was an enemy.

And Syn had been part of that. He had been a leading force along with the others, tearing through the front lines and taking lives like they meant nothing.

I knew the lycans had their own grievances against the world but that didn't excuse their actions.

So yes loving a lycan would have been a task in and of itself but the added fact that my lycan mate was a male? It was a deal breaker. I just couldn't picture myself ever being happy. Kissing Syn had been pleasing I will admit. It felt nice. I was not disgusted by his touch, but I had felt so small in his hands. I had felt helpless when he so easily took control and I was reminded why I was so against mating with him.

He was more dominant of the two of us. That was the cold hard truth. His body molded around mine, shielded me like a protector. My whole life I dreamed of having someone who would take care of me, love me, protect me. But now that I actually had such an opportunity slap me in the face, I had quickly changed my mind.

I didn't want to give my well-being, my safety and trust to someone. I didn't want to rely on him, not when I had this fear that he would leave just like everyone else. And when he did, he would take my soul with him. I would be left with nothing, I wouldn't even be able to rely on myself anymore. With Syn it felt so natural to let him protect me and to place all of my trust in him. With Heidi I felt the need to protect, to shield her and keep her safe.

Heidi was safer, because even when she left I would still have myself. I would have been taking care of myself the whole while, shouldering the responsibility of her well being on top of mine. When she left, only half of me would be gone. I could live with half a soul. I knew how to survive and take care of myself. I had been doing so my whole life.

I had survived this scenario with Cleo and when it happened again with Heidi I would be okay.

When Syn decided to leave me after we mated—if we were to mate—I knew I wouldn't survive it. I would no longer be able to live because Syn will have changed me. He will have taught me how to rely on him, taught me how to need him and crave him. And when he left I wouldn't be able to cope because he will have forced me to want him and to need what he offered. And I knew, I knew if that were to happen I would never find another male, or female, who could take care of me that way.

I was strong for a werewolf, a fact I often forgot being around lycans all the time. I had grown a lot in the last few years from my scrawny teenager days. I was filled out and well-toned. I was slimmer than most werewolf alphas who packed on muscle to look brawnier because they valued strength over agility. My shoulders were narrower but I was easily as tall if not taller than most alphas. I supposed the females easily flocked to me these last few years because they could sense my strength. I wasn't bad on the eyes either but my power is what drew them in.

And because I was powerful, maybe even alpha worthy by werewolf standards, only a lycan would be able to shelter me. They were simply higher beings, gods among men so to speak. And how pathetic would the world view me, an alpha in need of a stronger male to care for him.

Being weak is what drove me to solitude, what made others keep their distance. I had nothing to offer to them so they wanted nothing to do with me. I couldn't return to that.

I simply wouldn't.

And if I were to be with Syn that's exactly what would happen.

Still, I had given my word, I told him I would allow him this.

So I opened my mouth, finally gaining the courage to say the words to the tiny female staring up at me with her wide doe eyes. And when I finished my confession, explained to her everything I had agreed to and what had happened between Syn and I, the kiss I initiated and he took control of, his demands and mine, Heidi simply raised on her tiptoes and slanted her plush lips over mine.

As her lips moved on mine they replaced all lingering traces of Syn. Her fingers gently placed on my chest, not to keep me at bay but to hold her balance. I was hesitant to wrap an arm around her waist, pulling her up so I held her weight so she could just focus on kissing me. She was so delicate, like porcelain, I was scared if I squeezed too tight she would break.

It was the opposite with Syn. He had crashed into me, held me tightly, not caring if he left me bruised. His earthly taste—his scent of forest and river—was replaced by a sweet honey taste. A smell of flowers and a summer breeze.

As she pulled away I guided her back down onto her feet. She clung onto me, my forearms clutched tightly in her tiny fists. "You don't really mean to actually try right? This is just so he won't bother us once we've mated?"

"What?" I was momentarily surprised by her sourness but her soft expression combated the poisonous tone. "No," I shook my head, "I gave him my word Heidi." I wasn't scared to try because I knew nothing would come of it. I couldn't force myself to do anything. If my mind was already made up then that was just the way it would be.

She pouted, her lips puffing out in an adorable frown, "So?"

Chuckling I lifted her chin and placed a quick kiss on her button nose, "I am not going to break my promise. I swore before Lune and the gods."

Heidi let out a little whine and buried her face in my chest, "It's not fair!" She mumbled into my shirt. I combed my fingers through her hair. "Why does he have to intrude on our relationship? You picked me, and now he will make all the lycans hate me so I'll never have a chance!"

I kissed the top of her head, murmuring into her hair, "No, he won't. He promised not to meddle."

Heidi jerked away, glaring up at me with a look that asked if I was stupid. "And you believed him?" She sneered.

My eyes narrowed, I didn't like her insinuation that I was too blind to tell if Syn lied. "Yes, because I told him you wouldn't either."

"Terrin!" Heidi landed a soft blow on my chest with her little fist.

I grabbed her hands and held them in mine, "I understand if you don't want to do this. I know this must be upsetting, but honestly Syn has waited years for this. I'm doing this for me as much as I am for him. I need to know Heidi. I can't be left wondering my whole life. Please, I know it's a lot to ask, but I am asking you to wait. Be patient with me, please. If you don't want to I understand."

And just like that the ugly look on her face vanished, swept away like such a hateful expression could never have been seen on her face. "Oh Terrin," she cooed, kissing my knuckles, "of course I will do this. I will wait for you, how could you ever doubt me on that? I didn't mean to sound like I wouldn't. I was just a little upset is all. I guess I believed we were farther in our relationship than we actually are."

"Heidi—" I instantly felt guilty for doubting her. I felt like trash for putting her through this.

"It's okay, Terrin," she whispered, tears bubbling up in her eyes. My heart twisted painfully at the sight. "I understand Terrin. If this is something you need to do then I will be here waiting until you can make a decision you won't regret."

And as her first tear fell I pulled her into a tight embrace whispering words of comfort to her and found myself hating Syn for putting me through this.

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