Finnegan - Chapter 2
The coven was gone.
I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or something, but I had to do a double-take on my computer screen, just to make sure I didn’t need glasses. Bright as day and clear as a crystal river, the words of my Gamma glared back at me.
Rogue Coven is missing.
Now, I don’t think he meant that the actual place was missing. The Rogue Coven was a group of people, witches my father had become allies with years ago. Their leader was my ally as well after I took the position from my Dad.
He didn’t want to retire, I remember him telling me, but Henry, my other dad, was pretty persuasive. Being a doctor in the psychiatric ward probably taught him a thing or two about persuasion.
Back when Daryl was Alpha of my pack, he and Firush, the leader of the Rogue Coven had forged an alliance after the Rogue King formed a pack. I don’t even think I was born or conceived when it happened, but I do remember regular meetings between the two. Hyrush, his son, was my best friend and heir to the Rogue Coven.
And now, they were just gone?
A part of me didn’t want to believe that they had just disappeared. Yes, they were a group of witches and wizards, but why would they just pack up and leave? Not only that, but leave without telling me? Their ally?
Perhaps they had told Lucien, the Alpha King, but then he would have called to tell me, seeing as my pack was the closest to the coven. He could have been busy with his pack or his wife, but being married doesn’t necessarily change your duties. Sure, it can prolong it, but usually not for more than a day!
Then again, what did I know about being married? Or mated, for the matter? So many things were pounding in my brain after Shraddha and I had spoken on campus, and throughout the entire day, all I could think about was her.
Now’s not the time to think about Shraddha, though, Felix, my wolf, chastised gently, coaxing me out of my daydreams.
Contrary to your belief system, Felix, I can dream about her whenever I want, I rebutted just to tease him.
The missing coven is more important right now, Felix pushed. You can daydream about Shraddha when you go to bed. Right now, we have to find our missing ally.
You’ve got a point there, I grumbled. How do Siddharth and Lucien do it?
Manage their Alpha duties and their mates? I mean—I’m not even with my mate!
Well, when you are, then you’ll know, Felix explained carefully. This isn’t something that everyone knows how to do, Finn. Your first instinct for Shraddha would be to protect her and love her. Nobody tells you how. It just happens.
I suppose so, I grumbled. But what will I do about Shraddha?
What do you mean?
How will I tell her? I mean, she doesn’t even know me!
And neither do you, Felix replied. You don’t know Shraddha, and she doesn’t know you. Try to get to know her. You can start today.
You have to meet with her to work on your history project, Finn, Felix deadpanned, and I groaned. Hate to break it to you, buddy, but immortality doesn’t mean school is suddenly over.
But Siddharth and Lucien didn’t go to school! I complained, slumping back on my office chair. Why do I have to?
Because they were young a long time ago, Felix said. Besides, you should be grateful. Now you have a reason to spend time with Shraddha instead of asking her out of the blue.
I suppose so, I grumbled.
“Finn?” Cameron, my beta, poked his head through the small crevice of my door, his eyes searching the room until they landed on me. “Oh, you’re still here?”
“Yeah?” I pushed myself up from my leaning position. “Why? Where were you expecting me to be?”
Cameron grinned wickedly. “With Shraddha, duh? Don’t you two have a project to work on together?”
“We do, but she said to meet with her at seven,” I said. I glanced at my clock. “It’s six now. I have an hour left.”
“Well, if you want to be on time, you have thirty minutes,” Cameron suggested. “But fair enough. What are you doing?”
“Nothing much. Just looking over Sascha’s report,” I said, gesturing to the seat in front of me.
“What did he say? Anything out of the ordinary?” He asked, pulling the chair out and plopping onto the plush seats.
I nodded. “I wouldn’t say out of the ordinary, but you know the Rogue Coven, right?”
“Yes. They’re our allies, right?”
“Were?” Cameron repeated. His emerald eyes widened. “What happened? Did we do something?”
I shrugged. “I’m not sure myself. According to Sascha, they just disappeared.”
“Disappeared? I mean, I get that they’re magicians, but would they really leave without a warning?”
“What about Lucien?” Cameron sounded anxious now. “Did he hear anything from them?”
“I don’t think so. If he did, he would have emailed me or called me.” I shook my head. “No, he didn’t know anything.”
“Then what?” Cameron’s eyes darted to the blinking screen on my computer. “Can they really just pack up and leave?”
“They can, but that would be breaking our pact. It would make us enemies again, and that would be a war the Alpha King would be none too pleased to enter,” I explained. “Sascha doesn’t say anything more. He and his group are looking into it, but so far, they haven’t found anything.”
Cameron was quiet for a few moments, still reading the screen over and over again, as if he couldn’t believe that our closest ally would leave us with no notice. It hit me hard as well, considering they helped my parents have me. Without them, I probably wouldn’t have existed!
“Well, shit then,” Cameron said after a while, shrugging. “What are we going to do?”
“We can’t do anything until Sascha gives his full report,” I said. “Until then, we’ll have to sit tight and hope that he finds something—anything to help us.”
Cameron nodded, running his fingers through his blonde locks. “Yeah—Just...shit, I can’t believe it. I-I mean, Reese was from that coven and...”
He trailed off, and I reached over the desk, patting his shoulder. “She doesn’t deserve you, bro,” I said. “She fucked up, not you. You did nothing wrong. Besides,” I smiled. “The past is the past. You can’t change that, but you can work on your future, right?”
“Yeah...” slowly, a grin formed on Cameron’s lips. “I suppose I can. Actually, Angoor came to talk to me today.”
I chuckled. “I saw. Did you guys set up a date?”
Color rose to Cameron’s cheeks. “Um, yeah, we did. He’s cute, I guess. I just never thought I’d be into guys, y’know?”
“Love is love. It doesn’t matter,” I said. “Besides, if you do, then maybe I can get leeway with Shraddha.”
“Shraddha?” Cameron raised his eyebrow. “As in, the quiet girl? The one who knows literally everything? That Shraddha?”
Now it was my turn to blush. “Yes, that Shraddha. You know, the one with magenta hair and brown eyes?” When Cameron nodded, I bit my lip. “She’s my mate.”
“Get the fuck out!” Cameron exclaimed. “Really? She’s your mate?”
I winced. “Um...yes? Is that a good thing? Or a bad thing?”
Cameron scoffed. “A good thing, duh! Shraddha’s like, one of the best girls in the school! Beautiful, smart, able to stick up for herself; she’s perfect, dude!”
I laughed. “I know. She is, isn’t she?” I sighed. “It’s only been a few hours, but I already feel like I’m floating on cloud 9.”
“You should be,” he said. “She’s your goddamed mate! We’re finally going to have a Luna!”
“I still have to romance her, you know,” I chuckled. “She seems like a hard nut to crack when it comes to relationships.”
“I’ve heard it just has something to do with her family,” Cameron brushed airily. “You should be fine. From what I’ve seen, Shraddha always has a romance novel in her backpack.”
“Yeah.” Cameron leaned closer to me, as he was about to tell me a secret. “You know, the last novel I saw her reading...?”
“It was an erotic one,” he giggled, sounding like a teenage schoolgirl.
“An erotic one?” I repeated, my voice degraded to a small murmur. “Damn...I didn’t know she was into that kind of stuff.”
“I don’t think she is,” Cameron stated with a shrug of his shoulders. “It was probably just the chapter she was on that was erotic. As far as I know, Shraddha is the only girl on campus who hasn’t had sex in a dorm room yet.”
“Well, there’s a first for everything, isn’t there?” I asked, wiping a weary hand over my face. “I...honestly, I don’t know how I’m gonna do this, Cam.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the Coven, for one. They were our strongest ally, and now they’re just...gone,” I licked my dry lips. “And now, with Shraddha...”
“I think having your mate as a part of your life now is a good thing, Finn,” Cameron said. “They ground you and keep your hopes steady. Shraddha is a very grounded girl as it is. She will be the perfect Luna for our pack, trust me.”
“I do trust you, Cam,” I said. “But she doesn’t even know about our existence. I can’t just drag her into a life she doesn’t understand.”
“But that doesn’t mean that you can’t teach her,” Cameron shot back. “Look, Finn, I know that you’re worried, but deep down, you want to be selfish, don’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
Cameron’s throat rumbled in annoyance. “You know perfectly well what I mean, Finn. You want to be selfish and bring Shraddha into our life, despite the fact that she knows shit about us.”
I clenched my jaw. “And so what if I do? I’m Head Alpha, Cameron. I don’t get to be selfish in life.”
“Tell that to Lucien and Siddharth,” Cameron scoffed. “You take your job too seriously, Finn. Loosen up! Being Alpha can be fun, you know? And having a mate just makes life even better!”
“I know that,” I felt my own annoyance rise, but it wasn’t fixated on Cameron, rather on my inability to accept the fact that I had a stable girl in my life now. “But I don’t want to force Shraddha into something that she doesn’t want—”
“How do you know?”
“How do you know that being with you isn’t what she wants?” Cameron asked, not angry, but questioning.
“She doesn’t even know me, Cam,” I stated, trying to sound as blank as possible, but his words struck a chord in me. Shraddha and I had barely spoken any sentences around each other in the years that we had been in the same school, but the pull that I had to her was unavoidable. I had felt it before, I knew. I guess I just never acknowledged it.
“So? Raleigh didn’t know Lucien. And now they’re engaged!” Cameron threw his hands up in the air. “The same thing happened with Krishna and Siddharth. She didn’t know him and was crying over an abusive ex! We’re werewolves, Finn. We aren’t humans. We feel things they don’t, even if our mate is a human. Shraddha’s probably feeling the exact same pull that you are. The only problem is, if you deny it, it will not only hurt her but you too.”
I could hear the desperation in Cameron’s voice, and it made me realize just how isolated I was when it came to an actual relationship. Was I really that dull? Did I really look that depressed alone and without a mate?
Biting my lip, I eased myself back into my chair, warmth straddling my waist. Briefly, Shraddha’s image flashed in my mind, and I wondered what it would be like to have her with me, in my office, away from the prying eyes of other wolves.
Just the two of us.
I groaned, and Cameron chuckled from in front of me. “She already has an effect on you, Alpha. Face it. Whether you like it or not, Shraddha is a part of your life. It’s up to you if you want to accept or reject her.
“Is that even a question?” I snapped. “Of course, I’m going to accept her. I’m not going to let some other shitty guy please her, Cam. She’s mine.”
“And you are hers,” Cameron agreed, sounding smug with himself. “But yes, now that we have you on board, exactly how are you going to do it?”
Cameron rose his eyebrow. “Um...romance her, you know? You can’t just take a girl from her home without even knowing her...um...” he trailed off, frowning. “Then again...no, her circumstance was different.”
I shook my head, smiling. “I’m going to take it a bit slow with her, Cam. I don’t want to scare her, and I certainly don’t want anything to break between us. We just started talking.”
“Yeah, but you can’t wait forever,” Cameron said, as if stating the obvious. “Heat is only a small factor. What about rogues?”
“What if they find out about Shraddha?” Cameron elaborated. “Or what if a rival pack does? They’ll do anything to get her away from you, Finn, even if that means turning her against you.”
“I know,” I said, exhaling slowly. “But I have to do this slowly, Cam. With the Rogue Coven’s disappearance and Shraddha now in my life, this is going to take a lot of time. Well, a lot of my time.”
“I can help you.”
“What about Angoor?”
“What about him?”
“Don’t you like him?”
Cameron paused before answering me, his eyes shifty. “I...do. We’re mates, actually, but...”
“But what?” Now it was my turn to sound appalled. “Aren’t you happy? Angoor’s a really nice guy, from what I’ve seen.”
“It’s not that I’m not happy,” Cameron stated slowly, sounding as though he was trying to pick his words carefully. “But I’m not thrilled either.”
“Any reason why?”
He swallowed thickly. “I keep thinking about Reese, and how much of an effect she had on me. What if Angoor’s the same way? I wasn’t bound to Reese, but I am bound to Angoor.”
I stroked my chin, swirling in my chair languidly. “I...don’t see Angoor as that type of guy.”
“You said the same thing about Reese.”
“I never agreed with you and Reese because I wanted for you to wait for your mate,” I pointed out. “She was manipulative from the start, but love makes everyone do crazy things, you know? I think all you had with Reese was lust, not love. With Angoor, maybe things can change?”
“You’ll never know until you try, Cam,” I said, leaning over the table to clap his shoulder. “I know I’m sounding kind of hypocritical right now, but honestly, Angoor is ten times better than Reese ever was. Give him a chance, and I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.”
“Promise?” Cameron sounded like a pup, something that made my heart crack for him.
I smiled. “Alpha’s Honor.”
I loved the park.
I don’t know exactly why I liked it so much. Maybe it was the sound of children having fun on the playground, or of the gossip, I could hear from the teenagers, but something about the park gave me a sense of normalcy. It made me feel, well, normal. Like I was just a regular college boy waiting for his friend to work on a class project. Here, I wasn’t a sleep-deprived, young Alpha with coven or mate issues.
Here, I wasn’t Alpha Finnegan, or Head Alpha.
Here, I was simply, Finn.
And I liked that.
I tapped my foot as I waited for Shraddha to arrive. I was ecstatic when she asked if we could do our project at the park, where I could feel like I was a normal, regular person who didn’t have to worry about anything apart from school.
How do you think she’ll look like today? Felix questioned.
I frowned. What do you mean?
Like, will she have her hair down? Braided? Ponytail? Will she wear those tight shirts again?
God, Felix you’re giving me a migraine, I complained. And a very unwanted hard-on.
Felix snickered. Good. It’s nice to see you get worked up, Finn.
Gee, thanks Felix, I grumbled, hoping that nobody could see how aroused I was underneath the picnic table. It irked me that I was already feeling these sexual feelings when I hardly knew Shraddha, but despite the fact that we had scarcely spoken to each other, I felt as though we had known each other for years. Like she was a long lost friend or an acquaintance one of my father’s had made during their alliance meetings.
Just thinking about alliances brought another wave of pain through my head and I groaned, burying my head in my arms. Why was life so complicated? Better yet, why did I have to be Alpha for eternity? Why wouldn’t my Dad become immortal with Daryl? That would have made my life so much easier.
Soft laughter brought my head up from the cave it had buried itself in and I caught Shraddha’s brown eyes through her thick bangs, her lips quirked in a smirk.
“Are you okay, Finn? Or did I interrupt your nap?” She teased, taking a seat on the opposite side of the bench.
My tongue stayed stuck to the roof of my mouth before I was able to stammer out a reply. “Um, no, no you didn’t.” I chuckled awkwardly. “I was just...lamenting, I suppose.”
“About what?” She asked, her cute lips pulled into a slight frown.
I sighed. “Nothing really. Just work, I suppose. I never expected it to be as difficult as it is.”
She shrugged. “Most people are like that. I love my job, though.”
“What’s your job?”
“I work at a daycare, the YMCA,” she explained, pulling her things out of her computer. I too began to take my own supplies out: pencils, my sketchpad, markers.
I looked up when something slammed onto the table, wondering if she had hurt herself or if one of her things had fallen.
Only to find myself staring at murderous, golden eyes.