The days ticked by slowly and my birthday grew closer and closer.
Viktor did what he could to avoid me, and I reluctantly did the same. Yet that didn't change the fact that our entire relationship had shifted. I could feel it in the air and in his lingering gazes.
He had always stared at me before, but no one else noticed the spark hidden in his obsidian eyes. I could feel his gaze on me when my back was turned and it ignited feelings that I had tried to keep hidden.
I couldn't deny how much I wanted him, and he could no longer pretend to be ignorant. It was clear, he wanted me as bad as I wanted him.
I walked up to the gazebo with Viktor following behind me. The hair on the back of my neck seemed to constantly raise under his dark eyes.
Shannon and Caroline sat at the gazebo waiting for me.
These past few days had been quite hectic and busy. My birthday gala was happening tomorrow and it was like the entire house was holding it's breath.
Tomorrow would be my best chance at finding a mate. Who knows, after tomorrow I could be named the new Alpha Queen.
Caroline was quickly back to her usual chipper self, completely forgetting the frightening night at the club.
While she still flirted with Viktor, she seemed to accept that he simply didn't have eyes for her.
Nonetheless, her flirting had been irritating me even more lately.
Aela had no explanation for the attraction we both felt for Viktor. We simply wrote it off due to his god-like appearance, but that didn't quench the temptation. I could hardly look at him without feeling some strange urge to run my fingers through his hair, or simply lay my head against his chest. It was beginning to become maddening.
And as much as I despised the idea of a birthday gala, I was desperate to find my mate. Desperate to end this insane attraction I felt towards him.
If there was anyone smart enough to notice the hidden temptation and longing in his gaze, it was Shannon.
"Everything alright, Arabella?" Shannon raised her eyebrow at me and I avoided her honey gaze.
I sighed, "Yeah, just thinking about tomorrow", I lied.
Caroline was oblivious as always making it much easier to change the subject, "I'm super excited to see the dresses your Dad ordered for us", Caroline squealed.
Shannon gave me a knowing look and I turned my attention to what Caroline had said.
"I think you'll love them", I spoke confidently even though I felt the opposite.
Viktor's eyes had been on me the entire time and the feeling twisted my stomach into knots.
Caroline smirked, "While I'm skeptical, I trust you know what I like."
I rolled my eyes at her and smirked, "You know what, I actually had him order you this frilly beige dress. I know how much you love beige."
I snickered as Caroline gasped and fanned herself. She proceeded to have a meltdown over my words and I couldn't hold back the laugh that escaped my lips.
"You're evil, Arabella. There I said it", Caroline huffed. "You know I hate beige. It makes my skin look orange."
"Caroline, I'm joking." I rolled my eyes at her, but a small smile still lingered on my face.
Caroline's phone began ringing and she stood up to answer it, "Oh you better be, miss." She glared at me and walked down the steps with her phone pressed to her ear.
My stomach dropped being alone with Shannon. Her bright, honey colored eyes stared into my own. Knowlege and intuition swirled in their depths.
"Are you going to tell me what's going on between you and your body guard?" Shannon raised one of her perfect eyebrows, "Or are we just gonna keep pretending you aren't upset?"
"Y'know, I'm beginning to not like how you seem to know so much about my business." I mumbled, my eyes trained on a particularly large rose bush.
Shannon scoffed and I could practically see the stern look on her face, "My momma always said I know stuff for a reason. My reason is to help my friend whose clearly upset."
I let out a tired sigh. The nightmares had returned feverishly leaving me in a perpetual state of exhaustion.
"Look, it's nothing I can't handle and it has nothing to do with Viktor." I shrugged, knowing he was listening to our every word. The last thing I needed was him thinking I was upset over him.
Shannon raised her eyebrow and sat quiet for a few moments, "Nothing to do with Viktor, huh?"
"Yup, just normal stress." I shrugged, hoping she couldn't see right through me.
Shannon grimaced at me and munched on a strawberry, "That's interesting cause your sour mood started the same day Viktor started looking at you funny," She shrugged and I choked on my water.
Again, I could feel the familiar prickles running down my spine as Viktor stared at me. I fought against the temptation to turn and meet his obsidian gaze.
After a few breathless coughs and some gasps for air, I looked into the knowing eyes of my friend.
I squinted my eyes at my best friend, "Now I know why you and Sheila aren't Lycans. You'd be much too dangerous."
Shannon rolled her honeycomb eyes and fixed her serious gaze on my own, "I'm gonna let you pretend something ain't going on between you and Viktor. When you're ready to talk about it, I'll be here."
I let out a little sigh, ready to confess everything when Caroline ran back onto the gazebo.
"If I see one speck of beige on that dress you'll never hear the end of it, Arabella." Caroline shook her finger at me and flipped her blonde hair behind her shoulder.
I let out a half hearted chuckle, but Caroline didn't notice. Her attention was turned to Viktor.
"So, Viktor. Are you bringing a date to Arabella's gala?" A smirk formed on her slim lips as she eyed my silent body guard.
I ground my teeth together hard enough for me to wince, and the action didn't go unnoticed by Shannon.
Shannon fixed her knowing look on my face. I tried to wipe the irritation from my eyes, but hiding anything from Shannon was useless.
"He's going to be working, Caroline." Shannon rolled her eyes at our self-absorbed best friend.
Caroline sighed, her eyes lingering on Viktor. "It was worth a try", she shrugged.
"Arabella, could you come to my office?" My Dad's voice called out in my head.
"Sure. Be there in 10." I replied, and cut the mind-link.
I was honestly relieved to walk away from the gazebo. Shannon's knowing gaze kept flickering back at me, and I found it harder and harder to keep what had happened to myself.
I wanted nothing more than to tell my bestfriend's what had almost happened between Viktor and I. I couldn't though. I felt like a disgrace to my future mate and to myself. What made me feel even worse is I wanted more of Viktor.
I walked down the quiet halls to my dad's office and opened the door as he called out, "Come in."
Dad asked Viktor to wait outside, which he answered with a curt nod.
Viktor had also stopped talking to me. His last sentence ran through my head, sending shivers down my torso.
"I can't believe my daughter is turning eighteen tomorrow." My Dad had a somber look on his handsome face.
I rolled my eyes, "It's not that big of a deal. It's just a birthday", I gave him a small smile.
"Your Mom would be so proud of you", Dad shook his head and my heart jumped.
I walked into him and wrapped my arms around his torso, "Don't go getting all emotional on me, now."
I could feel my Dad's chuckle rumble in his stomach, "You may look like your Mom, but you act a lot like me sometimes y'know."
"Why do you think we get along so well?" I chuckled, inhaling his comforting scent.
Dad pulled away with a proud smile on his face, "There is a reason I called you here."
I felt my face twist in confusion when Dad walked over to his desk and pulled a small red box from one of the locked drawers.
"What's that?" I frowned.
"Your birthday present." He gave me a sly smile, "It belonged to your Mom."
I could feel the tears threaten to form in my eyes as I ran my fingers over the red velvet box.
"What's in that box is special, Arabella." Dad frowned, his face turning serious. "Your Mom wanted to be the one to give this to you."
I opened the box and looked down at a beautiful necklace. The chain was gold, twisting and curving to resemble a branch. Hanging in the middle of the golden necklace was a penny sized Emerald. It glinted at me knowingly, as if it recognized my face.
"What's so important about a necklace?" I found myself asking, but I could hear the unease in my words.
"I don't think this is just any necklace." Aela frowned in my head.
Something about this necklace was different. It was warm in my hand, and almost felt alive.
"Can you feel it?" Dad asked, his head tilted to the side as he observed me.
I frowned at him, "Can't you?"
"No. It only works on women, I'm afraid." He smiled at me warmly.
I tilted my head and clutched the necklace in my hands. "That's so strange. Why does it feel alive?"
The necklace pulsed in my hands, as if answering my question in it's own strange language.
"I'm not sure." Dad shook his head, "All I know is that it provides something different for each she-wolf that wears it."
Aela's ears perked up in curiosity.
"What will it do for me?" I asked, my curiosity peaked as well.
Dad shook his head, "I have no idea. That's something you'll figure out in time."
"And what did it do for Mom?" I asked.
Dad smiled, his eyes glazing over as his mind went back in the past. "It showed her other wolves destined mates. That's how she found me."
"Why haven't you told me about this before?" I frowned. Dad had mentioned how he met Mom, but never said anything about a strange necklace.
Dad shook his head, his eyes and mind returning to the present. "That necklace is nothing to mess around with. It can be quite overwhelming if you aren't ready for it."
Dad saw caution flash over my eyes as I gazed down at the necklace in my hands, "You are ready, Arabella. I'm sure of that."
His smile filled me with courage, and the warm necklace felt a little lighter.
"There is one thing we need to discuss." Dad frowned, sitting on the edge of his desk.
A strange pang rushed through me as his face turned stern and serious.
I had only seen that look on his face a handful of times.
"That necklace is a weapon. As the future Alpha Queen you need to understand that some people will do anything to see you removed from the throne." Dad grimaced, "You will learn what the necklace offers you, and use it accordingly to protect yourself. Understand?"
"Of course." I nodded, my voice threatening to catch in my throat. I swallowed my fear and let a look of determination form on my face.
"That's my girl." Dad smiled but his eyes remained serious, "Keep the necklace on you at all times. No one else can remove it from you, only you can."
I pursed my lips and nodded, lifting the golden chain in my hands. Dad caught onto what I was doing and lifted my hair as I clasped the strange piece of jewelry around my neck.
My hand rushed up to my neck as a strange sensation rushed through me.
It felt warm and pulsating. Almost like a warm 'hello'.
The warmth of the necklace only did so much to still my rattled nerves, my fathers voice repeating over and over again in my head.
"That necklace is a weapon."