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Chapter 25| Seeds of Doubt

One step forward, three giant steps back, in fact, Malachai's steps were large enough to equate to 10, but for some odd reason I was letting him off easy.

What could I say? He was trying, and I had to respect that...to some degree, but I couldn't shake the anger rising in me, the doubt that constantly played on my conscience.

I needed to know about his past life like I needed sustenance to survive. Suffice it to say, I was obsessed with a dead woman; in the two weeks that I spent doing my damndest to avoid him, I searched like a madwoman for clues, anything about his true mate, and I came up empty.

There were no pictures of her around this house, nothing, almost like she never existed. Balfore wouldn't give me any more than he already had, insisting that I speak to the alpha.

I even resorted to asking his sisters, who in the past had been more forthcoming, but even they remain tightlipped on the growing mystery that was Elaine Rendell,-yes, Rendell.

I stress this because marriage wasn't a norm in this world, according to Balfore, "The bond transcends all that bullshit," a remark that I desperately wanted to say fuck you to, but two reasons saved him from my wrath.

One being having been in a human relationship with Aaron, whom I had every intention of marrying and being with Malachai, my soulmate–I would be lying if I said I didn't feel the difference.

Staying away from him for these two weeks was the hardest thing I had ever done, sleep was no longer my companion when I needed it the most, and the aches, my body thrived to be held, touched by him but I couldn't give in, not until he understood.

He may have thought it was about my pride, but it was about my respect and the need for me to protect my heart because Goddess above knew that Malachai already had it even if he wasn't aware.

This bond is a double-edged sword like no other, it takes away your choice, and rains down a world of pain when you try to fight it.

Even when you know that someone was made for you, still there exists this sliver of doubt that builds and allows insecurities to seep within until all you can think of is whether or not the love of your life is in love with someone to whom you can never compare.

Goddess above, he married her! He loved her that much that it wasn't enough to be soul bound, he married her.

And here I was, waiting hoping like an idiot that he would just talk to me. I sighed as I lay in the warmth of his fading body heat now that he had gone to take on yet another task on his never-ending list of tasks.

Since that night in my apartment, moments were all Malachai and I seemed to share. I couldn't help but wonder whether he and Elaine were any different.

Elaine.

Elaine.

Elaine.

God! Is this what it was like to be in love? I never gave a shit about Aaron's exes and now I could hardly get her name out of my thoughts for five minutes.

I reached for my phone beneath my pillow in hopes that a phone call would distract me from my current thoughts. I had been dodging Linda's calls for two weeks now, sending half-assed texts ensuring her that I was alright, but like the true mother she was, she just wouldn't let up.

I dreaded the impending verbal lashing that I awaited me on the other end of that ringtone as the phone rang. On the third ring, she picked up, and as expected I was greeted by her silent treatment and took it as my in to plead and grovel before the unrelenting sting of her tongue descended.

"Let me just start by saying that I am so sorry. I know I've been cryptic these last few days, but I promise you I'm okay. I was just having a hard time and I just needed a shoulder to lean on an ear to listen–"

"Trust me, I'm all ears, Little Rose."

"Cirini," I said with a gasp.

"Oh, tut-tut, but I much prefer it when you call me Michael. No one says my name the way you do."

"Fuck you."

"I didn't make it clear the last I saw you didn't let me now. Anytime, anywhere, even on your mate's territory, the things I'd do to you on those plush pink sheets-

"They aren't pink but keep on fantasizing, asshole. Where is she, Cirini?"

"Now, Pet what did we just discuss?"

"I don't care! Where is Linda?!"

My words were greeted by a deafening moment of silence before he spoke again, "Do not make me repeat myself."

I gulped as fear and trepidation overtook me. The iciness of his words dancing on the tips of my nerves caused me to release a shuddered breath. His chuckle was his only response as he waited for me to correct my mistake.

"Michael, where is Linda?"

"Good girl."

"I'm not a fucking dog!"

"The things that fire does to me," he grunted and my thighs tightened in anticipation.

What the fuck was wrong with me?

I cleared my throat before I continued, "Just tell me where she is."

"Oh, she went off to the little girl's room," he said dismissively.

"And you have her phone because?"

"Only to tell you how much fun she's having on her date with me."

My eyes widened in horror at the realization, "No, don't tell me-"

"Yes, Antonio Calloway, it's so nice to finally talk to you, Linda has told me so much about you, and while she is a treat, it's a real shame that I find you far more exquisite."

"If you hurt her-"

"You'll what?" he asked, daring me to finish my statement.

"I will kill you."

"And I thought I couldn't get any harder, I stand corrected," he said as he panted with want through the phone,

"It's a shame it won't be your flesh I sink into this night, but alas slow and steady wins the race, and one day, I shall have you."

"You will never have me."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, unless you try to overpower again unless you choose to stoop so low and use your venom to take what isn't offered."

He laughs, "And tell me, is it my venom that has you sopping wet for me at this moment? Is it my venom that has you clenching your thighs this very moment?"

"You tried to rape me!"

"I'll let you deflect as you try to convince yourself of that, but I know one thing, had your mate not interfered you would have given yourself to me-"

"Under the compulsion of your venom!"

"Oh, my venom does not deserve the credit you give it, is it an aphrodisiac of sorts? Absolutely, but it does not compel you to make you want to fuck me.

"You lie."

"Do I? You're horny now like you were then like you were that night at Ascend. Before you were even aware of the extent of your connection to your mate, you wanted me, if anyone is lying, it's you, Amina."

"He is my mate."

"And bonds can be broken."

"You're delusional if you think I would ever walk away from him."

"Am I?"

I didn't respond.

"I wouldn't be so sure, Little Rose; lies, deceit, and secrets have a way of changing perspective, don't you think?"

"What are you implying?"

"I imply nothing, I've been alive far too long to make implications; I only speak facts, I simply expect you to do the work and uncover the truth for yourself."

"Too old to make implications and not too old to play games?"

He let out a hearty laugh before answering, "No, never, Little Rose, for even in my old age I find these games far too enticing," he said, his tone laden with mischief.

"I only ask you this, why doesn't your mate tell you about Elaine? I heard through the grapevine that you've been making inquiries."

"That is none of your business."

"Never said it was, but don't you think you deserve to know? I'm sure you've had your doubts, any normal being would, do you not agree?"

"I know what you're trying to do, and it isn't working, Cirini."

"Michael," he corrected before he continued, "And pray tell me, what would that be?"

"I'm not that weak-minded for you to hope that I would doubt my mate. You speak of lies and deceit, but the only person I see dabbling in this game is you."

His deep husky chuckle was his only response before he questioned, "And when have I lied to you? Deceived you? Don't blame me for what you have already begun to do all on your own.

You wouldn't be asking about her and snooping around your mate's home to gather information on her if you held no doubts. Those seeds, my dear, you have sewn all. On. Your. Own."

I was silent, what could I say? He was right, all I could ask myself was what kind of mate was I?

"What? Nothing to say."

"Who is your source?"

He sighed before he continued, "And why would I let you know who my eyes and ears are in Shadowfang? I'm not a fool to believe that your mate doesn't have his in my camp, its the name of the game, my sweet."

"I don't like having my moves tracked, most certainly not by you."

"That is a conversation for another day, Little Rose. You're not wrong for having your doubts, I just expect you to own up to them, do better, be better." He sighed as if forlorn that our conversation was coming to an end.

"It's only a matter of time before your friend returns from the restroom, I should have compelled her to stay away longer.

I will, however, leave you with a few breadcrumbs in hope of shedding some light on your present situation.

Why won't anyone tell you about the Brotherhood of Knight, and why was your mate so upset to learn who your late fiancé was?"

My heart started racing as I thought back to the day in the clearing when Malachai stormed off, it was right after I said his name, right after Cirini forced me to.

"You wanted me to say his name!" I said in shock as Cirini's true goal that day revealed itself, "You know what is his affiliation to Aaron, Cir-Michael, you owe me that much, you-"

"I owe you nothing, but I will leave you to ponder these questions while I rap up my date with your lovely friend–Oh, and Little One? I expect a much improved attitude the next we speak."

I ignored his request, only pressing on what mattered most, Linda.

"Will you hurt her?"

"Well, my Pet, that all depends on you."

He hung up before I could reply.

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