As the words were whispered in my ear a cold shudder ran down my back. I was afraid to look, to see the truth. Everthing has been fucking with me recently maybe my mind is at it too!
They say when life gives you lemons you make lemonade, well can someone send me some lemons because all I've been receiving is shit! Crap! and a whole lot a dung! And there ain't no sugar coating it!
I'm shocked to my core upon putting my eyes on the men beside me. Yes I said men! Not just one but two.
"Can't wait for the show." Gerard says his eyes roaming over my body like the sick pev he is, I jumped on seeing him, having forgotten he was working with the council now. I should have known he would turn up giving his penchant for bloodbath, I'm sure he'll take lots of joy from my predicament.
Though it wasn't his disgusting presence that knocked me for six, no! It was that deep seductive voice that sent me spiraling into memories and feelings I had long abandoned. I thought I wouldn't see him again. The guy I cared for deeply, at one point I had hoped he would be my fated but it wasn't to be. I never got to say goodbye, I was told he found his mate and joined her pack.
It's actually him!
We were childhood friends, both orphaned We had met at events set up to help the children survivors cope with the loss. We hated the events and bonded through our mutual hate for them and the adults, who tried to force happiness upon us.
To be frank they were just trying to help but to teenagers going through stuff its a natural reaction to rebel and create anarchy. Both of us just loved that, found happiness in it even. We were known as double trouble or trouble and strife. Yeah I know its hard to believe the goody two shoes used to be a rebel, but I guess its what made me who I am today, and one of the reasons I wanted to become a teacher. The idea that I could help others and try avoid the mistakes the adults had made around me when I was young. Gosh that sounds pretentious, I'm not perfect I don't expect to be, but hope that helping even at least one child will make it all worthwhile.
Vaughan always laughed at the our nickname, he said it was perfect for me something about the cockney slang meaning though I never did pay too much heed to that.
"Move Gerard NOW!" He commands.
"Yes boss." Gerard says while he jumps to his feet allowing Vaughan to sit beside me. I can't help but stare, this is one development I hadn't expected, my eyes well up glistening with unshed tears for the friend I had missed so much.
"Vaughan. Your here..." I say in a whisper, my mind struggling to believe the truth.
"Yes trouble I'm here." He smiles while placing a hand on my cheek then pulls me in for a hug.
"I've missed you." After taking a breath I say. "I've missed you too bunny."
Not him too! Am I ever going to outrun that nickname, grr!
I look up at his striking face, the years have been kind to him, he's grown into this beautiful man who is sat before me. His light brown hair cut short with a little length on top, its dishevelled in a put together way, his chiselled jawline, straight nose, striking Amber eyes, the iris surround by a black edge, with flawless olive skin and now a body of a gladiator. Wow! is all I can say, but still I see the guy who spent hours with me getting into trouble so we could avoid our truths and the horrors that they held.
Shuffling can be heard all about us
One of the elders stepped forward his long cape almost touching the ground. His clothes cut from the finest cloth. It was the mark of the council and a sight to behold, he looked regal in the light of day and by his demeanour it looks as though he is the leader, if there is one.
"I would like to thank you all for coming here on this beautiful day. We the council would like to thank you, Alpha Atreus, for the warm welcome shown towards us.
As a lot if you know we are living in trying times right now. The fate of our kind rests on cooperation and coming here today to witness such, is gratifying to say the least we the council have worked tirelessly for a world where we all can prosper in this modern world we find ourselves. Our goal was to promote a more open community not just between pack to pack but also within the pack.
The fact that you all stand here today free to witness the ruling your Elders from the council decide, is one of our proudest achievements and also your Alpha's. He has worked tirelessly with us, with the same goal in mind. This progression is the way forward and our best course for survival. I would like to thank you Alpha and I would ask you his members to stand and bow to the Alpha that was able to achieve the councils greatest plan." Everyone rises once the Elder finishes then they all turn and bow to Atreus even the council members, which takes me off guard slightly, seeing them bow -- to him. That is shocking.
"OK can the accused step forward please." Alpha Atreus says in a monotone voice with not a hint of emotion.
What did he just say?
Does he mean me?
Accused of WHAT!!!
Well now this just took a turn for the worse, and there is no sight nor sign of Quinn. Oh Godess...
Two huge warriors come up behind me grabbing me by the arms, "come with us." they demand, I gasped at their touch and my chest begins to heave, struggling to breathe when a hard dose of fear hits me. I didn't prepare for this, I felt betrayed again. They could have warned me, that I was to be on the chopping block.
Was this why Quinn disappeared?
She couldn't watch?
No no! She wouldn't do that, stop it! Stop thinking the worst!
It was too late now, I couldn't do anything my chance to run was gone. Was this the reason Nathaniel was so ready to flaunt his affair in front of me because he knew I was to be thrown to the wolves, and that's not just a euphemism.
My body still weak I didn't even try to fight my way out of there. Im gona fight for myself, to clear my name of any injustice and I'm going to live a long happy life.
Why? because I deserve it! Thats why!
I regain my composure and stand up, still held in their tight hold, I kept my head high, because I have nothing to be ashamed of, then step out into the aisle.
"Take your hands off her. I will escort her." Vaughan demands of them and I'm hit with how powerful he is. I caught his gaze then looked at the warriors as to what was going to happen now, not sure why Vaughan was even here or why he chose to step in now. I know we have a history but this all seems so random, I am struggling to get my head around it.
The younger of the two warriors seeks advice from the older which I'm assuming is his superior, if not in title but certainly in knowledge and experience.
"Yes Alpha Strife." The older one replies. Then I here is whispers to the younger gaurd, that Vaughan is with the council.
That - there, is another shocker for me though the biggest revelation so far is Vaughan -- he is an Alpha.
Oh my Godess!
He takes my hand like he used to, threads his fingers through and pulls me to look at him while the whole pack look on. Including the Council members, my Alpha and my mate.
He always enjoyed a bit of anarchy but this feels like I've been dropped in a rotating display while the world watches on. My cheeks are inflamed now my breathing is getting irratic, as is my heartbeat becoming out of control.
If he pulls a stunt on me now I will kill him! I may not be strong enough but I will find a way, I'm in enough shit as it is!
"Your an Alpha?" I question.
"Yup." He replies smirking and laughing.
"Who knew!" He stares, winking at me, the way he always did then laughs again.
Mmm, this guy! I shake my head, letting out the smallest of laughs. I don't know how but he always had that power, to make me smile when I was at my lowest. Its amazing after all these years he can still do it now. I tighten my hold on his hand appreciating what he was doing, grateful that he doesn't start messing about.
Stepping into the aisle I see the faces of everyone staring back. Its a mixture of fear, anger, resentment but I also see encouraging and soft hopeful faces. The people I've come into contact seem hopeful and sympathetic and low and behold Caroline stands right at the top facing me down. I've never wanted to bitch slap someone so much. Her sardonic eyes are hungry for my punishment.
That malevolent bitch!
Holding my head high, I won't let her win even if it kills me! I begin my way up to my-- trial, I guess you would call it.
"Its kind of funny this..." I look to our clasped hands and smile.
"What's that?" He asks with curiosity.
"Well -- I once envisioned a scenario of you and me walking down the aisle, all eyes on us. I didn't think it would turn out like this though, ha!"
"You did?..." he asks and I nod my head.
"Do you think they'd be scowling at us too." He teased.
"Probably, after all we were... Double trouble." Then we both smirk.
I catch his eyeline again and mouth a thank you, he smiles in return and we continue ahead.
As I step onto the stage I get hit by the overwhelming strength and power of the people up here. I should be on my knees but I find strength from Vaughan's touch. Then I notice the looks on Nathaniel's and Alpha Atreus faces, if looks could kill I'd surely be dead but as I follow their line of sight I notice both are fixated on my hand that is held in Vaughan's. I look over and back a few times to make sure I'm not imagining it, and truly I'm not. A uncontrolled smirk goes on my face I just can't help but get a little satisfaction out of their annoyance.
"You find this whole situation funny young one?" The Alpha Elder said in a disgusted tone.
"No Alpha, I apologise for any disrespect I may have caused." I quickly replied with trembling lips, startled by the sheer power in his voice. I bite down on them then averting my eyes lowering my head in respect. Staring blankly at the floor, all that feigning nonchalance has only landed me in more trouble, two seconds of smugness wiped out.
"I will let it go this time young one but let it be known we will not tolerate any kind of disrespect, there are consequences for untolerable actions."
I quickly glance over at Atreus, I don't know why but I feel so hurt and betrayed by his ability to drop me in this pot to stew on my own. I mindlink him. 'You could have warned me.' Looking for any sign of remorse I stare into his eyes.
'Don't overthink Paloma.' He states then cuts me off, what is it with the men in my life... one minute a saint the next the devil incarnate! I just can't! Ugh!
"Everyone take your seats now we will proceed with the hearing." The Alpha Elder turns around taking a seat as head of the table, three elders either side then Alpha Atreus and his Beta Nathaniel to the left side, while Vaughan takes a seat to the right of the council.
The rest of the room begin to sit now aswell, you could almost surely hear a pin drop after the shuffling of feet and chairs dies down. I've yet to raise my head, the Council and Alpha's have their power fully amped up, it feels suffocating, but I'm assuming that's the pont and I finally give in and drop to my knees.
God's I could puke!
A bell is rung, and then the Alpha Elder begins to speak again. Forcing my head up I swiftly look at my judges, then return to my previous position.
"Today you stand accused of deception, of faking the sacred markings gifted by our Godess, to enrich your life, take advantage of your Pack, your Alpha and mate. How do you plead?"
"Not guilty." I replied honestly.
"I'm giving you this opportunity to free yourself of this burden, take the punishment and move on with your life. This opportunity will not be given again. If you refuse we will be forced to prove your guilt infront of your new Pack! Do you wish for such shame, the sentence will also be increased given your denial, and continued lying. What say you?"
"Wether or not you believe it to be true, it is what it is. If you have a way to prove me wrong and a fake I give you my permission. I may be weak in strength but I will not stand here and be accused of a crime I didn't commit. So please, by all means. Show me the marks are fake because I will never forget how they burned into my skin, and if that was fake -- I don't know what is real!"
I pull from the strength that's within me, raise one knee then the other till I'm stood before them, taking my time to look each in the eye. It shouldn't be possible, me an omega even a beta or Alpha can be brought to their knees by their combined strength and yet somehow I've managed to stand before them, until I collapse, my body hitting the hard floor.
"I call upon Elder Paramount." Alpha Elder announces, gasps and chatter erupt after hearing slow footsteps come my way.
Try as I might I can no longer withstand the force and I'm bowed over on my knees when my shawl is ripped from my shoulders, left bare for all to see.
This is it! Judgement day has arrived!
I can feel the shadow of the Paramount beside me, then a female voice begins to speak.
"From the first mated pair and the first pack we Wolves have been marked. Most by our mates but a rare few have been marked by the Godess herself. Everyone is familiar with our most beloved mates mark, they are one of the things that makes us who we are." The Paramounts old voice croaks out. Im not proud of it but feel bitter from her words, about the mates mark. The one I longed to be completed, the one I now detest is what makes us who we are, wolves!
Then what am I? Because I am a failure at that game!
"As I mentioned there is the other blessed mark which is rare, extremely rare. So much so only one has been discovered in the last one hundred and fifty years. There has been many fakes within this time though." She gestures to the right, then four warriors step out, one holding an ancient looking box.
Turning towards the box the Paramount opens it and bright light shines out, its glow is mesmerising and I feel drawn to it. When it is lifted into her hand I'm like a kitten following its favourite toy as my eyes watch it in awe.
"This is a Lunar Pearl." She holds it up so everyone can see. It's origin dates back to the first Pack, worn by the first Luna and it's power is blessed from the moon Godess herself. Some say it was gifted from the crown of the Godess but that is unknown. What is fact -- is that, the Pearl can stimulate the power left in the mark of the Godess. Today I will use it to trigger this power if it exits within this mark."
As she is standing behind me I can sense the tension in the air. I call on my inner wolf though silent I can feel her faintly. I try some meditation techniques to try mollify both of us, though its difficult, I feel a burning strength ignited within me from the closeness of the Lunar Pearl and begin to hope because of it.
She stands their behind me, holding the Lunar Pearl close to my skin but never touching. Then she begins spouting ancient words I do not understand. Time feels stopped, I guess this is what its like to be on the chopping block, but I don't give in and continue to breathe... in and out keeping myself and my wolf calm.
When the ritual ends she steps away and takes a seat beside the elders. I try and move about but freeze.
"Remain where you are." She commands, then I give up on my actions and await her instruction.
The room remains silent, everyone waiting on bated breath for a sign, a miracle, anything...
"Seize her, she's a fake." Are the last words I hear from the Paramount before I feel a sharp hit to my head and darkness consumes me while my body drops to the floor.