Fit For Fire

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When you say "Jump"

I watched the light of the sun as it crawled through my window and into a molten puddle on my bedroom floor. It steadily rose, flooding the carpet until it began to climb the walls. Soon the traces of yesterday that I had packed into dark corners, and had hidden behind doors, had vanished. Mornings light having swallowed it completely.

Dragging myself out of bed, and into the uneasiness of the day, I let myself have a good stretch. I frowned when it did nothing to satisfy me. Walking into the bathroom and turning on the shower, I wondered if I could melt myself into a puddle and escape down the drain if I made the water hot enough. Stepping into the steaming spray without thinking, I yelped and leaped back. Nope. That wasn’t happening.

After my shower, I slipped on a baby blue sundress that Zach had brought me. It fell just below my knees so not only was it appropriate, but it was also the most impressive thing I had. Braiding my hair, I took out my hairdryer and dried my hair. I continued to let it dry as I brushed my teeth and put on lotion. Finally, I let my hair down, giving it a little tousle.

Looking myself over in the mirror, I stopped when I noticed how anxious I looked. My hands dropped from my hair and I stepped forward. My eyes moved back and forth as I studied my face. I placed my hands on the counter as I leaned in to get a good look at myself. I looked like me, but this wasn’t me at all.

Adeline Harris stared back at me, but the woman in the mirror was different. The only physical difference I saw were the bags under my eyes, and the angry red scar that now graced my shoulder. The real difference was invisible to everyone but me. It was in how I carried myself. I looked uncomfortable and unsure. The way I felt every time I delved into the moral complications of my current position.

Why was I even doing all this? I thought as I looked down my body at the dress I had decided to wear. It wasn’t like I was desperate for his family’s approval. Or was I? Maybe I just wanted any families approval. This could be my inner foster kid, looking to be deemed worthy of a family.

No. I couldn’t be all vulnerable and depressed today. I needed to be strategic. On my game. I needed to know how to handle myself around his family. I needed to be polite without making them think I was agreeing to be their future daughter-in-law, without making them think I wasn’t going to be. Gods my head hurt.

Leaving the bathroom, I silently descended the stairs. Reaching the bottom I walked to the kitchen where I found a pot of coffee waiting for me. Pouring myself a cup, I sipped on it while grabbing bread for toast. Making my breakfast, I couldn’t help but go over different scenarios in my head. In almost every scenario, Mrs. William’s was conniving and demanding.

That’s why when the woman herself practically burst through the back door smiling like she had lit the sun itself, my mind went blank. Crossing the kitchen, Mrs. William’s dropped a bottle of champagne on the counter. The soft ‘clink’ the bottle made still hanging in the air when she pulled me into a warm hug. My body instantly stiffened. When we separated her honeyed eyes looked over me, drinking me in. Her large smile proved to be contagious. Just seeing it had me smiling.

“I’m Natalie William’s, it is so wonderful to finally meet you!” She said looking me in the eyes. “It’s nice to meet you Mrs.Williams. I’m Adeline Harris.” I would have shook her hand but she was still firmly latched onto my shoulders. “Please call me Nat.” Before I could respond the kitchen door swung open again.

A large man strolled in. His icy blue eyes swept over me. Running his hand through his black hair, I couldn’t get over how much he looked like Zach. Although his face had started to show the tracks of time and his hair was starting to gray, I could still see the aura of youth shining through. “Nat, let go of her before you scare her.” Nat hesitantly let go of my shoulders, still beaming.

The man looked at the woman with a look of pure love before reaching his hand out to me. “I’m Zach’s father, you can call me Jonah. We are very happy to have you here.“Shaking his hand, I could feel the aura of power rolling off of him. That’s odd, I normally didn’t notice things like that. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I smiled, choosing to ignore the vibe he was putting out. Jonah’s eyes sparkled mischievously.

“I’m sorry we haven’t introduced ourselves sooner. I wanted to come while you were in the hospital but Zach didn’t want us to ‘overwhelm’ you. How are you by the way?” Mrs. William’s rambled excitedly.She was talking a mile a minute, and as I stared at her, mouth open, I realized I was struggling to keep up. “Oh, ugh, it’s okay. I’m feeling great, thanks for asking.”

“I’m so glad. I still can’t believe hunters got on the property, you must have been terrified.” she answered quickly. “I’ve had better days.” I shrugged, not wanting to discuss the hunter. I still had nightmares of being shot at from above while I tried swimming away in the ravine. As in most nightmares, I was never fast enough to escape.

“JUMP!” a thunderous voice boomed through the kitchen. Mrs. Williams stepped back and shrieked in shock. I planted my heels firmly and bent my knees slightly, arms wide, ready for an attack. My eyes scanned the kitchen as my head swiveled. I didn’t have to look long to find the source of the noise. Mr. Williams stood smiling sheepishly, hands raised in surrender as his wife stared daggers at him.

Stepping forward, Mrs. Williams balled her hands into fists. “Did you just alpha command us to jump like some trained mutt?” she growled “Yeah, um, it’s not like that though. It was the first thing that popped into my head.” He tried to explain taking a baby step back. “You-don’t-do-that-to-people!” Mrs. Williams grunted, each word accentuated by a jab to her husband’s chest.

“I’m sorry,I just wanted to see what she’d do.” Mr. Williams laughed, batting his wifes fists away. Seeing that the only one in danger here was Mr. Williams, I stood up and relaxed my stance. “I am so, so, sorry.” Mrs. Williams turned to me. “Jonah has been trying to help Zach track down information on your family, and he was just trying to learn more about you.”

“What was that going to tell him? How obedient of a daughter-in-law I’d be?” I shot out before I had a chance to think. I guess I was done being polite. “No! Of course not. It would help me figure out your rank.” Mr. Williams answered, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand. “How?” I asked my brows coming together so quickly I’m sure they kissed.

“Ugh, wolves are born with different strengths. We use how strong of a wolf you are to determine your rank, which helps give you a position and responsibility in the pack. Stronger wolves are more apt to be warriors, while weaker ones work better in the community. Wolves of different strengths also react to the power and the commands of an alpha differently.” He paced back and forth, his hands moving in time with his words.

“Why is that useful?” I asked, crossing my arms in front of my chest. I hadn’t reacted at all. They knew just how broken I was now. “Well, we aren’t finding anything online, but I knew people who kept records from back then, and knowing your rank would help us narrow down the kinds of wolves we would look at as your prospective parents.” He smiled nervously and looked from his wife to me, as if seeing if he was forgiven.

“Well, I’m sorry your experiment failed.” I offered him a small smile of my own to show him I was no longer upset. “Failed?” He raised a brow at me. “Yeah, I didn’t do anything.” “You did enough.” he laughed. Mrs. Williams stepped up to me and smiled encouragingly.

“Wolves of a lower rank would have done as they were commanded or even submitted at the show of strength that Jonah was putting off. You didn’t flinch. When he issued his command, your eyes turned gold, telling us that your wolf acknowledges his strength and rank in a show of respect.” She reached out and gave my arm a little squeeze. “So that means?” I asked, feeling stupid that I needed them to elaborate. “That means you were born a very high ranking wolf, so your parents were most likely an alpha, or even a very strong beta family.”

“Oh.” My eyes widened as I took in the new information. Zach had said my wolf was strong. “That makes your displacement even more bizarre. Someone would have stepped up to protect you, and even if your pack was destroyed, the rival pack would have taken in the children, especially a child that could turn into a strong mate for one of their own.” Mr. Williams rubbed the stubble on his chin as he stared at me.

Shifting nervously under his scrutiny, he blinked and shook off whatever thought he was having. “Well it was nice meeting you, Ade. I’m going to grab the dresses from the trunk, then I need to go badger the boy about border security.” Mr. Williams waved before leaving the kitchen. I wondered if I had done anything wrong as his departure was oddly abrupt. A couple of minutes later he dropped five dresses off on the counter and then with a final wave, and another odd look towards me, left.

“Shall we pop open this bottle and try on these gowns?” Mrs. Williams asked as she moved through the kitchen and began opening the cabinets looking for glasses. “Ughhhh.” I looked over the bagged dresses on the island and instantly felt guilty. “I can reimburse you for these dresses. I feel bad, I have something I could have worn at home, you didn’t need to bring these.” I did not need his family spending money on me, especially since I wasn’t really even planning on staying.

“Don’t worry.” She gave a little laugh as she carried the glasses she found to the island and then picked up the champagne. “These all came from the pack closet. It’s this wonderful system where members donate old clothes, or clothes you only wear once or twice, like these dresses for the communities use.” She began to peel the foil off the bottle as I sighed my relief. “Oh good.”

She walked over to the sink and popped the cork. This time the sudden noise had me jumping. Walking back to the island, she poured us each a glass. “I figured this would be a bit weird for you, so I say we call this a girls day, and just try to have fun with it. That and I thought the champagne would be a good way to begin to apologize for my son’s actions.”

Taking her glass she admired the bubbles before taking a small sip. “I know that alpha males, my son included, can be. . .” She trailed off, hugging herself and staring at the ceiling as she searched for the right word. “Overbearing?” I supplied, trying to be nice. Lifting my own glass, I took a sip and relished the feeling of the bubbles on my lips and the fruity flavor on my tongue. “Stupid.” She answered just as I swallowed. I choked on a giggle, before washing it down with another drink. “I know the drink isn’t enough of an apology, but I thought I would try. My son is a good man, he’s just-” “Stupid?” I answered. This time she laughed.

The sun shining through the kitchen window fell over Mrs. Williams’ face in a brilliant orange. Her light brown eyes were almost amber in the light, and the highlights in her light brown hair shone giving her a polished appearance. Her delicate nose, high cheekbones, and perfect smile had me wishing that I would look as good when I was her age. Even though Zach looked a lot like his father, I could see their similar features. He was a perfect blend of both his parents.

Looking back down at the dresses, I began to pile them onto my arm. “I can try these on in the restroom down here, and I can bring out some snacks for you if you’d like.” Grabbing a dress and slinging it over her own arm she shook her head “No thank you, I’m fine. We should try these on in Zach’s room, he has that full length mirror.” Grabbing the champagne bottle and her glass she made for the stairs. Picking up my own glass in my free hand I followed.

Once we made it to Zach’s room, she placed the bottle and her glass on the dresser and threw the dress on the bed before plopping herself down. Throwing the dresses down on top of the bed, I downed my glass before placing it down on the dresser. Moving to the first garment bag, I unzipped it to find a frilly fuschia mess. My mouth fell open and I looked from the dress to Mrs.Williams not knowing what to say, but knowing I didn’t want to offend her. Hesitantly, I began to take the dress from the bag.

“Wow, um, I’ll just ugh.” “I wasn’t sure what you’d like, so I thought I would include it just in case.” She smiled apologetically. “Judging from the look on your face though, I think it’s a hard no. Thank god.” She giggled and I placed it back in the bag and zipped it away from the light of day. Where it should remain. Forever.

The next bag contained a knee length navy blue dress that had a sheer layer over the top. It was an a-line dress with sleeves that covered the balls of my shoulder and it had a sweetheart neckline. The dress fit me well, and was very simple so I hoped I wouldn’t stand out. “That’s nice. but I feel it doesn’t do you the justice you deserve.” Mrs.Williams said looking me over. “I like it, but you may be right, I’ll try on another.” I would try them all on, but I was pretty sure that in the end I would come back to this one.

The next dress was a pale pink number with spaghetti straps and an empire waist. Not liking it, I didn’t give it a second glance, but modeled it anyways. “Hmmm, I can tell you don’t like this one as much. Is it the straps? I wasn’t sure how comfortable you would be sporting your mark.” She paused and scanned my neck and shoulders “Or lack thereof.” I bit my lip and nervously played with the straps. “The straps don’t bother me, and neither does my . . .lack.” I shivered slightly thinking about Zach sinking his teeth into me.

Walking to the dresser I poured myself another glass before downing half of it. “As it shouldn’t. Any plans of obtaining one before the party?” She asked, a flicker of interest igniting behind her eyes. “Not really, unless being mauled is a normal way to prepare for a pack party.” I picked up another dress and glanced up at her, my need for acceptance dulled with drink.

To my surprise she threw her head back and laughed. “ Mauled? It’s not that bad. I see how it would be weird, barbaric sounding even if you didn’t grow up knowing about it.” The light in her eyes only intensified. “Can I ask why? Are you nervous? I nearly threw up the day Jonah marked me.” This was NOT the conversation I thought I would be having with Zach’s mother.

“Well, we aren’t there yet, and to be honest, it sounds terrible. At this point I would feel . . .owned.” She nodded. Unzipping the dress bag, I looked down at the pale yellow dress with a full skirt that came just above the knees. It had layers of tulle underneath to poof out the skirt. Walking to the bathroom, I pulled it on. I looked like a buttercup.

“Oh no.” Mrs.Williams laughed. “I swear I have better taste than this. Believe it or not, these dresses were the best ones in the closet right now. Senior prom is coming and all the good stuff is pretty much gone.” Grabbing the last dress bag, I turned towards the bathroom to change. That navy blue dress was still looking like my best option.

“Adeline.” She called out to me. Turning I saw her standing by the dresser refilling her own glass. “ About the mark, I know I was being nosy, I just wanted to gauge where you guys were. After everything that has happened between you two, I can see why you would see the mark the way you do. It isn’t like that though. It’s actually quite beautiful. It deepens the bond between mates, allowing them to communicate without words to truly be one.” I nodded, giving her a smile. “Of course you would want to know. I just . . . I’m not there yet and I’m not sure if I will be.”

Turning I walked into the bathroom and closed the door. Shutting my eyes, I covered my face with my hands as I thought about what I just said. Would she hate me now that I admitted I may never agree to be with her son? Would she tell him I said that? Pulling off the yellow dress, I unzipped the last bag slowly. Scared of what I would find.

When I pulled out a black, floor length gown I almost smiled. Pulling it on, I saw that the dress fit me perfectly. It had a simple V neckline that dipped into the valley between my breasts without exposing too much. The bodice came into the waist before flaring out at my hips gently, giving me an hourglass figure. It had a side slit that came up a few inches above my knees. The dress was a bit too long, but it still looked really nice. In fact, it looked so good I probably shouldn’t pick it.

Walking out of the bathroom, Mrs. Williams gasped. “That’s the one. It’s extravagant without being too much. It looks perfect on you.” Waltzing up to the full length mirror, I scrutinized myself. Having to train my face into seeming like I wasn’t absolutely in love with it was hard. “I don’t know. It may be a bit much. I don’t want to bring too much attention to myself. I am not even sure how I’m supposed to act at this thing.” Mrs. Williams picked at the skirt, noticing how long it was.

“Nonsense. You look gorgeous, and you’re going with the alpha. People will look whether you like it or not, you might as well own it. Also, the only special thing you need to know is that the alpha takes the first bite. If he acknowledges you as his mate at the party, he will wait until you eat before he takes his bite.” Well, that was good to know. If they were going to look anyways I may as well enjoy it, right?

Giving a little twirl I smiled at my reflection. Looking myself over in the mirror, my smile fell as I remembered why I was here and what I was doing. I was digging myself further into a lie I kept telling myself I wanted no part of. As if seeing my attitude shift, Mrs. Williams put her hand on my shoulder and gave me a little squeeze. “I wanted to thank you for doing this with me today. I know you don’t want to be here. I know my son has made a lot of stupid mistakes, but still, thank you for giving us a chance.”

Alarmed by her words, I turned to face her. “ Please, you don’t have to say that. I’m having a nice time with you. Thank you for being so accepting.” Was I mad that her son had taken me from my life and treated me like a criminal? Yes. Was I conflicted and emotionally drained from all the shit that was constantly being pushed on me? Also yes. That didn’t mean I wanted her to suffer my injustices, however. She had done nothing wrong to me.

She stared at me, her honey brown eyes danced from one blue orb to the other before she sighed. “You know I understand where you are coming from. I know that’s hard to believe, but trust me when I say that I would have never picked this for myself.” Her eyes grew hard and a wistful smile transformed her bright features. The transformation from sun beam to dark cloud was instantaneous. The crinkles by her eyes, and the sudden dimming of her demeanor aged the woman. Her sorrow did nothing to diminish her quiet charm and vibrant beauty however.

Biting her thin lower lip, she studied my reflection, and then smiled as if she noticed herself peeking back at her through my eyes. “What happened?” I couldn’t help the curiosity that bloomed from her words. Taking my hand she led me towards the bed and together we sat down. Staring at the carpet in front of her feet, she began gnawing on the corner of her lip. Giving herself a little nod, she pulled her eyes from the floor and anchored them on my face instead.

“ My father was the alpha of a small pack not far from here. He loved our pack, and was loved in return by its members but he had his shortcomings. He wasn’t very good with finances, and our pack was struggling. Our neighboring pack to the north of us had begun eating up smaller packs to amass territory and resources. Our pack owned a logging company, it was the only thing keeping us alive.” Pausing, she looked at the ceiling and blinked back a few tears.

“My father began reaching out to the alpha, hoping to make peace with him. While he was focused on the north, Moon Ridge attacked from the west. As it turns out the council was concerned that the other alpha was amassing too much power so they ordered Jonah’s father, Elias, to take our pack. They had us within hours. To stop the bloodshed, my father offered to fight Elias. He lost.”

I gulped, the weight of her eyes and her story drawing me in completely. A tear managed to free itself. Looking through me, she left it to its silent trek down her cheek. “Elias offered him mercy if he submitted to him and left the pack, but my father was a proud man. He paid for his pride when Elias ripped off his head. I was supposed to stay hidden within the other members of the pack, but the minute my father’s lifeless body hit the dirt, I ran to him. I was hysteric. Elias ordered his warriors to drag me from my father’s corpse and into his office. It was when I began to fight them that Jonah ran through the crowd and pulled me from the guards.”

Blinking, Mrs. Williams looked at me, suddenly back in the present. “Imagine my horror when I found out that my mate was the son of the man who took my pack and killed my father.” She shook her head, and gave a haughty laugh. “Everyone was shocked. Our wise woman declared it an act of the moon goddess, and declared that we should accept our fate as Jonah was destined to be our future alpha regardless. At that moment I hated the goddess. I hated how everyone just expected me to just go along with everything.”

“You know what the worst part was? If they had just waited a month, Jonah and I would have met at the alpha summit, and none of it would have ever happened.” She almost whispered. She went back to biting her lip. “Instead of meeting Jonah as my mate I was meeting him as some asshole who helped destroy my life.”

I nodded, knowing how that felt. “What did you do?” The look in her eye told me that she did not just go with Jonah happily. “I fought him.” She answered. “I demanded to challenge Elias for the rights to my pack. Elias told Jonah to take me and go. I fought him, and he just let me. He finally restrained me and brought me back here.”

Looking around the room, she smiled. “ Elias had a human luna, Meg. She was very kind to me. When everyone else was telling me to step into line, she was telling me to give them hell, and I did. I gave Jonah grief for months. He just kept trying. He would visit me everyday, and he would defend me when I acted out. When I slapped him, he would ignore it and walk away, and when I cried he held me. It got to the point that I wasn’t sleeping, the bond was growing too strong. He would sleep next to me, even though I treated him horribly.”

Squeezing my hand, I looked at her, seeing her in a completely new way. I hadn’t gone through what she had. In fact, she had it way worse, but she still managed to find happiness. Would that make her my ally or an advocate for pack life? I was almost scared to find out.

“When did you decide to be with him?” I couldn’t help but ask. “Well, one day I woke up and I noticed the bags under his eyes, and how miserable he looked. He had been suffering right along with me, and I had been too selfish to see it. When he woke up, I broke down, and asked if we could try giving each other a real chance. He broke down with me. He promised me, he would never be as ruthless of an alpha as his father, and he kept that promise.”

She fell silent, and not sure what to say, I shifted nervously. I felt like this was the part where I was supposed to have an epiphany. I was supposed to be motivated and moved by her story so much that I would jump up and run to Zach and throw myself into his waiting arms. Although I was moved, I was nowhere near giving in. “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” I croaked out, filling the silence with words that I hoped would convey my sincerity.

“Me too. I’m happy about how everything turned out in the end though. I wouldn’t have thought it possible then, but I am happy.” She smiled, turning into a ray of sunshine once more. “Adeline, I’m not telling you this to try to sway you one way or the other. I just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone.”

“Thank you for telling me, and thank you for understanding.” I replied, a tear of my own running down my face and tangling itself in my hair.Getting up from the bed she stretched. Following her lead, I got up and smoothed down the black skirt of the dress. “I want my son to be happy” She turned back to the mirror, inspecting our reflections “but if you need to give him hell to be heard, then give him hell.”

Her eyes twinkled mischievously, and her smile grew into a sly grin. Walking to the dresser, she lifted the half empty bottle of champagne. “Now let’s finish this girls day off right.”

***

Placing the champagne flutes in the dishwasher, I couldn’t help but giggle. Mrs. Williams had left about 10 minutes ago, fired up to get her husband to go on a run with her. I had a good time with her, but she had left a metaphorical earthquake in her wake. If she could get over what had happened to her, then surely I could forgive Zach. Just because I could doesn’t mean I should though.

As if on cue the man himself waltzed through the back door. He stopped a couple of steps in and cautiously sniffed the air. “Why does the house smell like a gatsby party?” He asked, closing the door behind him. “Your mom brought champagne.” I hummed, moving to the fridge.

“Yeah, that sounds like something she would do.” he said walking up behind me and wrapping his arms around my waist. Opening the fridge, I peered inside before scrunching up my face. Inside there were a bunch of ingredients but no food. “Not seeing what you want?” he laughed, kissing the side of my neck.

“No. You know what sounds good though? Fajitas. I know this awesome place downtown. Ooooh! We should go. I’m paying!” I bounced excitedly thinking of beef fajitas and margaritas. Turning in his hold, I faced him. Giving me a soft smile, he bit his lip before responding “You don’t have to do that, we can order in. Anything you want.”

“I want to though. You feed me everyday, and besides, we’ve never been out together. It would be fun.” I beamed up at him. I wanted to share something with him. I wanted to see him in my world and know how it felt. I craved normalcy and going out to dinner together would be the perfect dose of mundane.

Releasing my waist, he loosened his navy blue tie and pulled a few of his top buttons loose. Running my thumbs over the soft fabric of his white dress shirt, I couldn’t help but stare at his newly exposed flesh. A small giggle left my lips when I felt him watching me. It made me nervous, but something devious in me, probably the alcohol, wanted him to know I was looking. Moving closer to him, I let his scent surround me. Breathing him in, I sighed in content. Normally these moments of attraction made me feel weak, but right now I didn’t want to be strong.

Running his hand over my cheek, he tucked a wavy strand of hair behind my ear. “ That sounds nice, but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea. We can stay in and have a movie night, or even go play pool at the clubhouse.” he suggested softly. “Why isn’t it a good idea?” I asked curiously, running my hand up his chest. Looking up at his face, I watched as his eyes darkened and he shifted from one foot to the other.

“Zach?” I pressed softly. He avoided my eyes, and the bubbles in my brain that had me floating, started to pop. “You don’t trust me.” I whispered. He stayed silent. “ I’m sorry. I forgot my place.” I dropped my hands and attempted to take a step back from him. His hand dug into my hip, holding me close to him. “Your place?” He asked.

“I forgot that I’m not your guest, I’m your detainee. I don’t know how I could have. You aren’t willing to discuss anything with me.” I pushed backwards and this time, he let his hand drop. “That’s not fair.” he declared, his eyes flashing as he looked down at me.

“Fair? How isn’t that fair? Everytime I try to hash this out with you, you ask me why I’m not more open to what you want. You listen to me, give me no real answers, shoot off some snide remark about how I should be trying harder, and that’s the end of it.” Stomping my foot, I balled my hands into fists at my side and stared him down. Daring him to deny it.

“You want me to compromise Ade? Sure, but first tell me what your compromises are.” He matched my glare, his stance opening up, ready for the fight. “You’re fucking kidding me.” I poked his chest angrily. “ You have got to be. I know you’re not that stupid. You have my whole life in the palm of your hand. What do I even have to compromise with? You know what though, I’ll bite.”

Taking a step closer to him, I swear he could feel the anger radiating from me, because he actually took a small step back. That inch that he retreated could have been a mile in this moment. My intimidation, this little victory fueled me. “ I could have attempted to escape multiple times, it would NOT have been hard, but I haven’t. I could have been a raging bitch this whole time, but I feel like I’ve been pretty damn agreeable. I have agreed to go to this party with you, I have met your parents, I try to stay out of your way. Hell, I even agreed to try to have something with you. What the fuck else do you want from me?”

“You did. You agreed to try, but have you? Have you really? I would give you my all. I’m prepared to give you everything.” His eyes seared into mine as he towered over me as if his size could intimidate me. “I never asked you too. You want to give me everything except the thing that matters. The thing I shouldn’t have to even ask for, because it is already fucking mine. My life, my choice, my freedoms. I feel like I’ve been fair to you, maybe it’s time you returned the favor.”

His eyes shined gold and he took a step towards me, his wolf seeing this as a challenge. “ You act like you don’t do this for your own benefit. Like complacency isn’t a part of your master-fucking- plan. You think I don’t know?” Doubt flickered over my face before my eyes hardened and my lips set in a firm line.

“What more do you want from me?” I spat, and he laughed harshly at my question. “Want? I want you to genuinely consider a future with me, I want you to understand. I want my mate.” He said calmly, the underlying tone of his hurt breaking through. Pressing myself against his chest, I looked up at him and my eyes met with his. Being faced with his wolf, I felt mine stir and instead of feeling the need to submit to him, her own power surged. My veins were alive with it. For the first time I felt like we spoke out as one complete being when I said “I can’t be your mate and your prisoner too.”

***

Happy Sunday!

Guys, this update ended up being 6,000 words. I am so happy to finally have this chapter out of the way, and even though the direction it took kind of surprised me, I feel like it was exactly what it was meant to be.

Fun Facts about this chapter:

1. I've rewritten this chapter multiple times and my largest hang-up has always been Natalie Williams. I always saw her as a warm, and happy character, but I couldn't get her character right. Originally, I had skipped over this chapter and wrote a later chapter where she meets Ade and the two get tipsy together, but the reason for their get together ended up not working out. I liked giving Adeline the opportunity to be more open so I brought it back for this chapter. Also, I never intended to give out Nats back story but once it came to me everything else kind of came together.

2. Ade and Zach were not supposed to fight. Some of the scenes in my future chapters kind of relied on keeping the peace, but once I wrote the end of this chapter, I liked it too much to delete it, so YAY more work. Also, kuddos to GypsyTree for predicting this. I wrote the fight scene earlier that day and then she commented that she felt a fight coming and I was like "How did she know?!"

3. We are like 7 maybe (big maybe) 8 chapters from the end of this book. This chapter kind of puts us into the final act, and the next chapter has me STRESSED. So hopefully it is done by Wednesday.

So, Thank you all for reading, please stay safe and I hoped you enjoyed it.

P.S. For those of your who care, my desk came, and she is glorious.

-Sheisthestorm

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