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Chapter 18

Atreus stormed over to Vaughan, "Is that true?" He demanded an answer.

"Yes." Vaughan replied. "And I don't regret my actions." He said as he turned to look me in the eye.

That cut deep, at least if he felt regretful I could surmise he was doing it for his fated but the coldness in his eyes hurt, Godess it really did.

Everyone appears to think so little of me, and even if they do I can't wallow in my disappointment and sadness as much as it threatens to drag me down. I'm going to fight for myself for my body and soul, to instill strength, to regain power over my future.

"You really are what they say." Atreus said disgustedly. "I had my doubts, an Alpha lowering himself to nothing more than an errand boy, carrying out the Councils dirty deeds but here you are in all your glory. Your a disgrace to the title of Alpha.

Anyone with their head screwed on can see Paloma is innocent of all the crimes the council wish to slap her with.

Quinn informed me of your past relationship with her. I understand the pull of the mate bond and the desire to give your destined everything. But how can you justify the sacrifice of one for another.

A guilty party yes, of course but how can you justify sacrificing a pure soul for your mates fantastical desires." Atreus pushed Vaughan up against the stone wall and walked over towards me.

His eyes were filled with a torrent emotions, he smiled when he seen me peeking through the Bellator's staggering form.

"Stand down Bellator, Abduco." They salute and step aside, due respect given to Alpha Atreus.

"I apologise for my late arrival, some people are a little too hasty. Again- I have to apologise because I had hoped to inform you of what today promises, but that chance has been taken from me.

The extreme measures are the councils demands and I agreed to them so that I was permitted to travel with you. They're unnecessary in my opinion but a compromise was made, I can only hope you understand."

"Of course Alpha, thank you for your continued support. I hope that one day I can return the favour." I replied giving him the best smile I could muster.

He goes to take my hand but stops himself before our hands touch. Its funny how in a seconds action, can cause the fluttering within. After thinking again he pats me on the head. " let's get on our way then."

Squeezing my shoulder and giving me a small smile he walks side by side with me, paying no heed to the Councils warriors surrounding us. We passed Vaughan, I looked him straight in the eye, its difficult to see that change in a person you once loved.

He wasn't the same man I once knew, I could see it now. Time really changes a person, but I won't waste any more of it on unproductive thoughts. He was my past, my future is unpredictable and I need to focus my energy on that.

After trekking through the corridors we finally make it to the front door. What meets us is unexpected, a large group of pack member crowd outside the doors.

"They are here for you Paloma." Alpha Atreus says he smiles again and puts a hand on my lower back guiding me out the door.

"But why?" I ask both moved and frightened jittery, I just don't know how to feel - it is all so overwhelming. If they were to condem me I couldn't handle it, I'm sure its the opposite though as I scan the crowd. Their faces full of warmth and comradary.

"They stand in solidarity with you. Even though most don't know you a large crowd witnessed your marks birth and every one of those believe its real and so they're here to support you."

He took my hand and held it tight and while I thanked the crowd with a smile and a nod, sparks shot up my arm spreading like wildfire through me. It was there and gone, the momentary squeeze of my hand and when Atreus let go, I felt the loss.

I wanted more, I wanted to grab hold of him and never let go. That thought alone made an involuntary laugh escape my lips.

Have I lost my mind?

I'm mean he is definitely worth losing your mind over. I bit my lip trying to curb my hormones, as he stepped forward. His army green t-shirt streching nicely over his ripped body. The combat trousers he wore showing a nice view of his taut glutes. I could take a nice bite out of those, yum! Tasty...

Ok its official, I really am losing it.

My cheeks turn crimson and I suddenly feel so aware as I look about and see everyone's eyes locked on me.

Oh Godess please let them not know what I was thinking! I'm saying a silent prayer.

He turns his head winks, givesing me a devastatingly handsome smile. The more I look at him I realise he is like a shining star in the bleakness of my life. My heart flutters just for him. I walk forward through the crowd and onto the carriage that awaits.

There was a small convoy of armoured vehicles, ready for the off. At the centre was a large white vehicle, the back doors swung open and another Bellator Warrior hops out. I can hear blessings and best wishes from the crowd. A few hands try to squeeze through the giant solders but its futile and I carry onwards.

Climbing the steps into the prisoner wagon I didn't feel as bad as I thought I would. The packs solidarity was an uplift for my soul with the shinning light being Alpha Atreus, instilling the hope that I was going to get through this.

It was a simple interior, I passed two seats at the back to enter a closed off area. It held two leather chairs either side, facing each other. No windows were present but there was a latch towards the front of the vehicle, I'm assuming that would be for the driver to communicate with us.

Honestly I was surprised at the comfort level. I sat down and buckled up, I can do this, I thought, I know I can.

I could hear the front doors open and close, then the hum of the engine as the vehicle started up. The door to the back opened and Atreus walked in and belted up. The back door shut and then we were off.

I didn't know how long it would take, but for the rest of this journey I was going to sit face to face with this beauty of a man.

Gods I need to control my hormones or this could get embarrassing in such a closed in space.

With my raging hormones threatening to shame me, my lower lip was taking a battering as I chewed on it, trying anything to distract myself.

"You smell nice." He said and my heart and soul lept my eyes shot up from the ground.

Was this real?

"Um... thank you." I said and continued chewing on my lip, its so difficult to keep eye contact right now.

"You know I told you you shouldn't do that." He said fervently.

"W-what exactly?" I asked confused, my eyes went wide.

"This!" He replied leaning forward and pulling out my bottom lip. I shivered under his electric touch, I think my whole body turned a shade of red, blushing hard.

"Oh!" I said

"There is something I need to talk to you about. Is that ok? I know this whole situation must be overwhelming but you need to know."

I was a little stunned by his last few words, what on earth do I need to know. But if he felt I did need to know, then I will trust his judgement.

"Go ahead." I replied and began rubbing my shoulder where my mates mark was. A self soothing habit I picked up after meeting Nathaniel, seems laughable now how anything to do with him could give me peace and I suddenly shuddered, pulling my hand away in disgust.

"I see its fading again. And I probably shouldn't say it but I'm glad." I looked a little confused by his words so he pointed.

"His mark on you. There's a lot if things I want to say right now, particularly about the brutality of that mark. But... they all come down to one thing - Nathaniel..." he stared at my with intensity. Was it true my mark was fading again, I felt a little elated by that news but brushed it away for now.

"Is it ok if I open that box of worms? I understand if you would prefer another to speak to, a female maybe Quinn?" He asked with care.

I looked away lowering my head, my face crimson again but with a feeling of shameful embarrassment. I know I was the victim, I know I wasn't at fault but I just cannot help that sense of shame that latches onto me like a parasite when I think of Nathaniel.

"Go ahead."

"Are you sure."

"Please..." I replied

"There is so much you don't know. Let's start at the beginning...

Nathaniel wasn't a member of my pack originally. He was a trainee warrior at a small pack up north. When I was there on recon, we discovered the Alpha was infact an imposter who run the pack into the ground, I delt with the problem freeing the pack from his tirany.

Nathaniel was hot on my tail after that, asking to join our pack, even though most members of his pack integrated into the one that was closest to their territory. The Alpha is a friend of mine, he was happy to help out.

At that point I don't remember meeting him personally, though in the letters he sent petitioning me for a place in the Dark Orb of Knights, he claimed too. He was young and enthusiastic so of course we accepted.

He said he wanted to learn from the best. To learn and be able to defend the weak and...

I believed, I believed in him. But this is the thing...

I always felt there was something going on underneath that cool exterior. I tried many times to get it out, to discover what secret he was hiding but never got there. Well that was until recently.

Did you know that Caroline is also from that same pack?

Anyways, Nathaniel was never supposed to be my Beta. That position was held by my best friend Artimis and if things had turned out different he never would have been. Artimis was a warrior through and through. He lived and died for this pack.

I still had my doubts about Nathaniel at the time it happened, he wanted a promotion immediately. There was no sugar coating anything, he blatantly asked for it before we had Artimis even buried. It was disrespectful and power-hungry, and so I denied his request I was so enraged by him.

In time I knew I had to appoint someone I couldn't leave the post unmanned but it was such a difficult choice because I never thought I would have to make such a decision, the spot was always ment for Artimis.

Three candidates stood out, Nathaniel being at the top but my gut kept giving me the same uneasiness around him, that he was hiding something.

After a few months he told me about you, how you were in college and that you wanted to finish your course before you completed the mating process. Then it all fit in, his jittery behaviour, the cageyness the irritability the fact he was hiding something, it was just not what I expected.

So.. with time and training I began to trust him more, putting more faith in his abilities and trust in him, pushing away any doubts as misgivings. Even when he spoke of you it appeared to bring a little happiness to his personality though it never did last long. And finally I gave in and promoted him to Beta as you know.

It wasn't until your arrival that the doubts reared their ugly head again. Do you know there's something about you?..." his last sentence was said with fervour and I gulped down at the intensity in his eyes.

"There is?" I questioned.

"Yes Paloma there definitely is... Not since..." he paused thoughtfully. "Not since meeting my mate have I had such an intense attraction towards any female. It was instantaneous from the moment you passed me by at the clubhouse I wanted to taste you." His eyes were locked with mine staring deep into my soul, I felt naked under his gaze. I could hardly believe that those words left his lips, my heart nearly lept out of my chest.

Then he shook it off and continued. "After your arrival, red flags started to fly up again. The fact your mark hadn't fully completed still I found strange." I felt self conscious and automatically put my hand over it, it was a common act since getting the mark in the first place. Atreus isn't the first to notice how we hadn't completed the mating ceremony and it always was a sore point for me.

"Just so you known, it wasn't me who didn't want to complete the mating." It was embarrassing to admit and I cringed at my own words but I was not going to be made out to be the one in the wrong here, driving a man to insanity by refusing to complete a ceremony our base instincts desired us too and drove us to.

"I figured!" He said and I let out a breath I hadn't realised I was holding. I didn't like the idea of him thinking, I was some kind of bitch. To tease your mate for so long would be cruel. Believe me I know, I've sat through the heat cycles in pain with no relief or mate in sight, I know how it feels and wouldn't put that pain on anyone else.

"Getting back on topic, I did some digging. I contacted my friend, his old packs new Alpha and had him send on some information about Nathaniel, it had some copies of the letters he sent here and photos of him. Including one... of the day he left their pack to join ours.

There is one thing that's been made clear in that information...

The man- Nathaniel, who was supposed to join this pack from the River Moon Pack, and the man that did join are two different people." He looked straight into my eyes searching.

"WHAT!!" I shouted, so shocked by this revelation.

"What do you mean? So he's not Nathaniel then who the hell is he?" I questioned with fear as my eyes swelled with tears.

"I don't know, but I think it may have to do with the serial killing of the Beta's."

Oh my fucking goodness, what the actual fuck! That son-of-a-bitch!

"One last thing Paloma, you need to know this to be prepared. I confronted him last night and I don't know how he managed but he has escaped. Himself and Caroline went rouge..."

*Abduco means detach, withdraw.

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