The cabin felt even smaller with two large men filling the small space. The stranger looked around, his eyes taking in their home; Orion felt as if his eyes were heavy with judgement and she didn’t like it. Just his presence was unsettling, Orion couldn’t help feeling like everything was shifting below her, that her day was being uprooted by his presence.
Seth sat on the furs they had laid out beside the fire and the man, Vincent, joined him. Orion lingered to one side before moving to sit on the furs beside Seth, her fingers scratching at her wrist with her nervousness.
Both sat quietly as the visiting Alpha began to speak, sharing his story. Orion, even though she didn’t like his intrusion, was still interested in his story about the different packs, and the horrible man named Damien who had been causing disputes, neglecting his pack and had even abused Vincent's mate.
Orion didn’t know what a mate was, but the way Vincent seemed to get angered just by telling the story told her that it meant a lot. She didn’t understand a lot of what he spoke of; Seth had never told her about packs, or mates, or anything about his past.
There were many times that she wanted to interrupt to ask questions, however she was much too afraid of the stranger. Besides, Seth was far too engrossed with what the man was saying to answer any of her questions.
Finally he drew to a close, looking at Seth with a determined yet stern grimace. “I don’t want to force you to do anything, but this is your pack and you have a duty to, honour and right to know about the things that are going on.”
Orion’s thoughts came to a halt as she processed Vincent’s words, was Seth truly the leader of a pack, whatever that meant? If he was then why was he here, what was going on? She looked at Seth in question, but he wasn’t looking at her, he was deep in his own thoughts.
For the umpteenth time that day, Orion felt as though her entire world was unravelling at its seams.
Seth knew he had already made up his mind, a part of him knew that he had been waiting for this moment for the 17 years that he had spent in the wild. I wanted to tell Vincent that he was more than ready to assist, but this wasn’t just about him.
He looked over to his mate, her frightened look softening his heart. He felt like a terrible mate; he never seemed to know how to help her, or was never able to give her what she wanted. He had to do better; he kept telling himself he would be a better mate but now he had to actually do it.
“I need to talk to my mate about this first.”
“I’ll give you both a moment,” Vincent nodded in understanding before leaving. The door shut quietly behind him, and there was a silence as Seth gestured for the girl to come to him.
“Seth what is going on? What was that man talking about?” Orion questioned as she sat beside him, her hands clasping onto his forearms to steady herself. “What’s a mate? And a pack? Why is this happening to us?”
“Little star, I need you to listen to me.” He started, a lump forming in his throat as he realised his paradise was slowly crashing down on him. He would have to tell her about his past, about the other parts of werewolf culture he had neglected to mention before. “There’s a lot for me to explain to you. I never expected that any of this would happen, I’m really sorry.”
“I don’t understand.”
Once she stepped close enough for him to reach her, he pulled her to him, embracing her in a hug and pecking her on the forehead. It was the first time in a long time that he had willingly showed her affection so Orion basked in it. She had dreamt of moments like this since she turned 16, she couldn’t really remember when she had first developed her crush on him but over the years it had turned to much more. It bothered her to think that he still thought of her as the little girl he found; he was more than just a protector, he was her best friend, he always had been.
Even though she very much enjoyed the feeling of his arms around her, and the familiar tingles that tickled her whenever he touched her, she still had a sinking feeling in her stomach that she wasn’t going to like what he was about to tell her.
Seth sat, and began to briefly explain the situation as best as he could. This wasn’t a conversation that they could have in 5 minutes, they needed to sit down and talk everything out. He knew Orion would need time to process things, and inevitably they would need time to fight things out- because if he knew his little star, and he did, she would definitely want to have a conversation about things.
“On the night that I found you, I wasn’t just wandering around the woods. My uncle, the man Vincent was speaking about, usurped my father as Alpha and I had to flee my pack to save my life.” He spoke, a hard look taking over his features as he spoke about the evil man that had taken from him far too much, for far too long. “From what Vincent has said, Damien cannot continue to lead the pack, he is causing far too much problems for everyone and I’m the only one strong enough to put an end to this.”
“So then stop him and come back.” Orion shrugged, her brows furrowed in confusion as to why they were all making a big deal out of things.
“It doesn’t work like that little star.” Seth’s hand tugged tenderly on one of the curls framing her face, a sad smile colouring his features. It was soft, and if they weren’t having such an important conversation, Orion may have taken time to swoon over it. “Once someone kills an Alpha, they must take over the role.”
His words weighed down on her, like a sponge drowning in water, as the information sunk in. It would mean having to leave; would he leave her? Or would he take her with him? She was a human, there was no way she would fit into his world, a world that she knew hardly anything about. But she also knew that she couldn’t live without him; he was her constant, her protector, her best and only friend.
She liked the way things already were and she didn’t want them to change. Suddenly she felt a burning in her chest, an anger something close to hatred for the stranger that had come into their life. It was immature, but she wanted to blame someone to make her feel better- if she could she would blame Seth, but she couldn’t possibly imagine feeling something so terrible towards him.
“Then let someone else do it!” Her eyes stung with tears, her breathing growing laboured as panic crept in, fogging her mind and senses.
“There is no-one else.” He looked away from her, pulling away from her to give her space. He hated seeing her upset and he hated even more that he was the one causing it. There was no way that he could comfort her, not whilst he was the one breaking her heart. “I’m going to help Vincent. You can come with me if you want, I won’t force you if you don’t want to but, I want you to come.”
“Please don’t do this.” Orion’s tears began to fall. “You don’t have to do this.”
“Yes. I do.” The dark expression from before came back with a vengeance, his bows knitting together in anger and frustration. How could he expect her to understand? There was no way she would ever be able to comprehend the driving need, the instinct he felt to return to his pack.
Being with her made it easier, but he was an Alpha through and through. Not even she could stop the call he felt to go back to his pack, and now that Vincent had told him the truth, he definitely could not ignore what he knew he needed to do.
“Why?” She cried, her entire world shattering before her very feet. “Why are you doing this?”
He was not looking at her, a distant look possessed his eyes. This was not him, it was the beast. Her hands clutched her white hair, pulling till she felt a sting in her scalp. She couldn’t understand why, she didn’t want to understand why he was doing this.
“Because it is my birth right.” The man’s voice had a dark, sharpened edge to it.
He thought of the betrayal he had faced at the hands of a man he was supposed to trust, love. Family. The bitterness enraged him; but she could never understand, this rage, this desire to savour every moment of another beings demise.
She would never understand how long he had waited, had prayed, for this very moment. He was going to get his revenge, if it was the last thing he did. Seth knew, without any doubt, that he was going to make that traitorous pig bleed.
“But we’re fine here. We don’t need anyone else.” Orion curled her palms into fists, trying to make him see.
Didn’t he see what this stranger had done? He had broken the peace, the calm life that they had been living.
Orion had always seen the darkness in Seth, but here... in their forest, with their rules, it did not matter. There was no sadness here, but now it would be no more. She looked away from him, her heart breaking with each passing moment that marked the end of their hidden paradise.
This talk of war and death made the girl sick to her stomach, she could see the way it poisoned the man before her in a way that he liked. This evil could consume him, and she didn’t know if she could stop it.
“No we don’t.” The man took a step closer, tilting her face to look into his own. Any trace of the darkness gone as he gave her a ruggedly charming smile. One of the rough pads of his thumb wiped away the stray tear that had fallen from one of her eyes.
“But there are those out there that need us.”
She leaned into his palm, nuzzling it with her cheek. For a moment, her mind went blank and she let herself drown in the sparks that he never failed to set off in her- had he always done that, or was it only once she began to feel something more than friendship?
There was always something about the way spoke- or maybe it was something about him that made her believe every word. Until reality came back to her and she realised what he was asking of her. Then the doubts came flooding back in, sending her reeling with both fear and denial.
“Nobody needs me! What am I supposed to do Seth, I don’t belong in your world.”
“Little star, we’ve been together for the last 17 years. Your place is beside me, in the wild or in a pack doesn’t matter.” Seth grunted, his voice rugged and hard like the very wild that he inhabited but his words were full of sincere meaning. He had lost the ability for soft spoken tenderness a long time ago. “I can’t do this without you Orion.”
It both delighted and hurt the woman to hear him utter those words, for she knew that his need to have her, wasn’t the same desire she had for him. She wanted to scream at him, but she found that she couldn’t besides, she knew it wouldn’t do much good.
“Then why aren’t I enough?”
She looked up at him, her eyes sparking with a cocktail of emotions. Her eyelashes were still damp from her tears, and her eyes were slightly puffy and yet still Seth could not help but think that she was beautiful. She had grown into her own person whilst he wasn’t looking, and he couldn’t help but be mesmerised by her. When had she become so captivating?
“You are more than enough, but can you really live in peace knowing all of what Vincent told us earlier?”
Orion looked away, knowing in her heart Seth was right. As much as she hated to admit it, she didn’t know anything about this pack business and yet still everything Vincent had told them didn’t sit right with her. She wanted to deny it out of fear, but that was selfish and she would regret it if she did nothing.
Only now did she consider that it may be worse for Seth, clearly if he was the rightful Alpha, (from the brief conversation she managed to put together that an Alpha was a leader of some kind), then he must have some kind of tie back to that place. Which meant knowing that it was suffering could only be ten times more painful for him. How could she have been so selfish?
“No.” Orion wrapped her arms around Seth’s muscular frame, breathing in his scent and enjoying the warmth he provided. “I need you too Seth. Please don’t leave me.”
His heart pounded in his chest as she pressed against him, her scent, her presence, everything about her grounded him. Didn’t she know that he was her protector, that she never had to ask? He would always be by her side.
“Never, little star. Never.”
Her arms tightened at his reassurance, relief flooding her body as she let his words take away her worries. The man paused, hesitating for a moment before wrapping his arms around her smaller frame; it had been such a long time since he had felt her in his arms this way.
Having her there was reassuring, and addictive. Both he and his beast enjoyed the connection that sizzled between them like a live wire, he didn’t ever want to let her go. Why had he denied himself of a connection with his mate when she had been right there beside him? Why hadn’t he told her who she was 4 years ago when he realised who she was?
But he knew exactly why. He looked after her, he was her protector, she would never see him as anything more. And worse yet, there was a part of him that wished she never would because how was he ever supposed to love her like that, knowing that he had watched her grow up?
A silence had fallen over him, both lost in their thoughts. Whilst Seth agonised, yet again, over the hand fate had dealt him, Orion was far more inquisitive. She was afraid of what leaving the forest would mean, of how different things would be, but she was also overjoyed that Seth seemed to be a lot more reciprocal to her. He had touched her, and spoken to her, and introduced her to Vincent as his mate- whatever that meant.
“Hey Seth,” Orion broke their silence. “Earlier you told that man that I was your Mate. What does that mean?”
Seth balked in her arms, pulling back as his face felt hot- though under his olive skin there was hardly any evidence to suggest his reaction. He scratched the back of his neck in discomfort, he knew he’d have to tell her the truth eventually, especially if she was to become his Luna but he still wasn’t ready to admit it just yet.
“I’d rather not talk about that now, that is a conversation that should wait.”
“Why can’t you just explain now?” Orion insisted, looking at him with raised and expectant brows.
“Because, I don’t know how you’re going to react and we currently have an Alpha waiting on us outside.” Seth turned away, moving to the other side of the room where they had collected rain water to put out their fires. “It’s time to go.”
“That’s it? Seriously?” Orion sighed exasperated. “Whatever it is has to do with me, and you won’t tell me because you don’t know how I’ll react?”
“Leave it alone Orion, we will talk about it later.” His voice grew harder as he scolded her, it was the same voice he used on her when she made mischief as a child. He turned to her, his face set in a hard frown; she was already staring right back with her own rebellious glare. An unflinching battle between her hazelnut orbs and his light timbre ones.
“I’m not a child.” Orion whispered as she pulled away from him completely, going over to pull on one of the heavier furs that she had fashioned into a cloak.
She looked around the small hut that had been their home for the last 17 years. It wasn’t much, but it had been home; a welcome one that housed many memories- both good and bad. A sting pierced her heart as it hit her once more that they would be leaving this place, it had been all she had known. She wondered if their new life would be anything as nice as what she had here- no matter what happened, she had the memory of this place and that would be enough.
“Time to say goodbye,” Seth murmured. He, like Orion, glanced around the small cramped space. Whilst part of him was glad to know that he would soon be back in civilisation, he would still cherish every moment that he spent here. He could see them all, like a montage flashing before his eyes; years of their lives spent together, in small, mundane moments- moments that he would cherish for the rest of his life.
His final action was to douse the dying embers that the fire had withered down to; it died with a small crackle, and a hiss of smoke. One part of their life was over, another was just beginning.