“Baby, I have something I need to tell you.”
Arabella closed her laptop and passed her attention to a worried Sol.
“I heard a nasty rumor about Stone, and it probably reached him by now.”
She frowned, unsure what he was getting at. “Is Kennedy causing more trouble? I’ll kick her out of the pack both figuratively and literally if she’s still trying to harass him.”
“No. This has nothing to do with her. Some men accused him of being a pedophile.”
“A what?” she tossed the laptop aside, scooting closer to him. “Is he okay? How did he take it?”
Sol groaned and threw his head back. “I don’t know. I just found this out today. I’m sure it’s why he hasn’t left the house in four days.”
Arabella shoved her hands into her hair, seeking an escape from her stress. Stone wasn’t an open book, but one didn’t need much to conclude that he was a good guy. He didn’t deserve rumors, distrust, or a runaway mate.
A frown consumed the luna’s face when she remembered the day Stone met Karen. No words were exchanged between the mates, but her rejection became loud and clear when she ran away. Stone knew who she was and where to find her, but didn’t dare to breathe her name. For nearly two years, he waited for her to make the first move.
Arabella drowned within depression for years. A man like Stone had no business being in that ocean. With her mind made up, she opened her laptop.
She dialed Karen. The two of them had Artemis as a mutual friend, but they only spent time together when they were celebrating some pack event.
She didn’t respond, taking a second to study Karen’s face. She had green eyes, an oval face, and a curvaceous body that gave her beauty an edge. She was the daughter of an alpha, powerful and well-known. Is that why she abandoned Stone? Was the tall, broad beta not enough for her?
Arabella glanced at Sol, who stared back with patient eyes. He knew what she was about to do, and he was with her every step of the way. A soft squeeze to her thigh encouraged her to look back at her laptop.
“He needs you.”
Karen stiffened. For a second, Arabella worried if her screen froze.
“He’s been alone for so long. When will it be enough?”
Karen’s lips trembled.
“I know it’s none of my business, but I can’t keep quiet anymore. I can’t neglect Stone. He’s hurting, and you’re not letting him heal because you’re stringing him along. Just give him answers. Tell him why he’s not enough for you.”
Karen’s eyes could only flicker wildly on the screen.
“Stop weighing him down with your mystery and let him go.”
Seeing that Karen wasn’t going to reply, Arabella hung up and sought her mate’s embrace. Sol’s arms flew around her, and his lips expressed their love against her forehead.
“He’s a big boy, but…”
“I know,” he interjected. “But we all need help sometimes.”
Karen stared at her screen long after it went black.
She could only tremble in her seat at the thought of her massive mate. He was a castle of testosterone, and it seemed like she could never become his queen. Her thighs were too thick, her breasts were too heavy, her athletic incapabilities too great. Biology called it skin, but she called it prison.
She and Stone were freaks by societal standards. How could she be with a man when she still pinched her stomach? How could she love a man when she struggled to love herself? How could they be together when they looked like a freak show to werewolves?
Another round of depression would tear her apart– ironic, since she had wanted to be half her size since she was a teenager.
She got better over the months. She got professional help and got her habits under control. She planned on contacting Stone dozens of times but was met with failure every time. She was afraid of undoing her progress by being with him. She didn’t want to return to the depression, or the eating disorders, or the hiding, or the pinching, or the disappointing diets and exercise. She didn’t want to risk pulling Stone down with her, either. He deserved someone that could stand the sight of her shadow.
So she never called. No matter how many times she added his digits to her screen, she never pressed the green button. Physically speaking, she couldn’t run as much as a normal werewolf woman. When it came to figuratively running from her problems, though, she was an Olympic champion.
Leaning back on her bed, she stared at her cellphone.
I’ll contact him tomorrow.
Her hands absentmindedly pulled her bedsheets up her chest, trying to cover the body that caused her so much distress. Her fingernails dug into the material, refusing to depart from its security.
Yeah, tomorrow. I’ll definitely call him tomorrow.
She squeezed her eyes, unable to face the heat of her lie. Every time she bailed out of calling Stone, she would try to redeem herself by assuring that she would call the next day. Hundreds of tomorrows later, and she was still a coward.
Unable to add another tally to her list of failures, she tossed her sheets aside and slipped on her sandals. She replaced the comfort of her bedsheets with her purse and rushed for the door.
No more tomorrows.
She ran to her car before her determination expired and slammed the door shut. After texting her family that she was going to settle business in Titanium, she started her engine. A glance out the window stopped her from going far. By the side of her home, was her mother’s beloved garden.
She pushed the door aside and ran over to the purple tulips. After ripping a handful, she returned to her mission.
Daylight escaped the afternoon within an hour of her drive, and the night quickly inked the sky. Four hours into the drive, and a downpour joined her trip. Surprised by the weather, she stopped and glanced at her cellphone.
Several missed calls and text messages from family members lit up her screen. She scrolled frantically, searching for the first ones.
Unacceptable. There’s a rainstorm in the area. Do not go anywhere. –Dad.
Even Sol advised her to turn back, but it was too late to comply. She cursed both her impulsiveness and poor luck before continuing to drive through what seemed like a wet Hell.
Karen is the daughter of Alpha Adrian, who is a friend of Sol.
Stone is introduced in The Tale of Pride, but it is not necessary to read that book.
This is a short story AND it contains heavy sexual content. Please don’t read if you don’t like these.