Pain once again scored through her, a tearing inside her that seemed to encompass all her soul. It felt like claws were raking through her stomach while another set shredded her heart. At the same time, the essence of who she was was being dragged out of her with the most exquisite pain there ever had been, slowly. It was unbearable but she’d had to bear it, had survived it for so long.
Tears poured out of her, futile. How she hated them. Her body shook uncontrollably as if she was in the midst of a seizure but she knew better. Why couldn’t she just die? Why had she been born? And what had she ever done to deserve this?
Well, she knew what she’d done. She had been born. She wasn’t as beautiful as her twin, as vivacious. She couldn’t even blame Claire, not even for having the mate she should’ve. Why would an alpha even want someone as weak as her when he could have Claire?
Tall, willowy Claire who was the most beautiful she-wolf in the pack, sweet and serene. Why would an alpha choose to be with an ugly, mousy mate when he should have had her better sister? So this pain was her penance. Her sacrifice for the sister who deserved the best. After all her sister had done for her as they grew, this was so little to ask.
So she bore the pain, as she had every night for ten years, at least it felt like every night. She curled into herself, her teeth clenching as she sought to stop the cries that tried to pass through her lips. Her weakness though overcame her and for the first time, a whimper escaped her.
She wanted to still herself to listen for anyone disturbed by her sound but her body wouldn’t let her. The pain was suddenly more than she could bear. Her body could no longer sustain her control. Her own mind betrayed her will and could no longer still the whimpers.
She barely heard her door bang open, barely heard her dad’s voice, but she felt his loving arms hold her to him. Curling into him she allowed herself to sob. At least she thought she allowed it. Maybe even now her weakness was overtaking her. She could’ve tried to assure him she was okay.
He rocked her in his arms, trying to still her quaking body, to somehow ease the pain. She heard other voices, the rest of her family but she was beyond reasoning them. All she could feel was shame that they were confronted with even more of her weakness.
With her father holding tightly to her, the storm finally eased until all she felt were the after-effects. The numbing ache that she could only combat by being as still as possible. Tears still flowed down her cheeks but now she could hear what her father whispered against her hair as his own tears wet her dark strands. It broke her heart, worse knowing she was causing his pain.
“I’m so sorry I failed you...” he whispered to her still form. “...sweet baby girl...failed you...should’ve seen...should’ve protected you...baby girl, forgive me.”
Her dad was a strong man. A man who never cried but because of her, he was. Because of her, he sounded broken. Why couldn’t she have been born stronger? Or not at all?
“Who did this to you?” he demanded as he pulled away to look her in the eye. She couldn’t answer couldn’t betray her sister. “Tell me baby girl.” his anguished demand broke her already broken heart to even smaller pieces.
“Carl.” the voice that rebuked her dad had icy coldness washing over her. She shivered and her father stiffened.
With her still in his arms, her dad stood to face his father. “What do you know about this dad?” he demanded.
She didn’t need to see her grandfather to know his cold gaze held no pity for her if he even looked at her. The pack Beta always looked through her as if she wasn’t worthy of acknowledgment. “She wouldn’t be experiencing this if you’d accepted the mates I arranged for her.” the man said coldly.
“Ma...” her dad sounded horrified. “You knew her mate had betrayed her and didn’t tell me?” he demanded.
“Betrayed?” the Beta scoffed. “The betrayal was having a human being born of a beta pair, of having her be mated to a powerful bloodline. Do you know how she weakened our family? Would you have me have allowed her to weaken another powerful family?”
“Who is he?” her dad demanded of his own, his arms cradling her to his chest as she gave in to her weak nature and hid against him. She wished she could somehow hide from the words that brought her even lower than she already was.
“The second alpha.” The Beta spits out.
“Oh no!” her father moaned as his legs gave way and he fell back to sit on the bed. She heard a gasp and knew the shock that gasped the members of her family who hadn’t known.
“Was I supposed to let her taint the alpha line? Weaken our pack?” her grandfather didn’t have any remorse in his voice.
“Ten years.” her father whispered brokenly. “Sweet baby, you suffered for ten years! Why wouldn’t you tell me?”
“Because the Alpha commanded her not to.” the Beta stated as if that should be obvious, and it should’ve been but her dad was such a good man that he’d never suspect his Alpha so.
He stood back up, his body rigid as he confronted his own father. “And you allowed this?” he demanded. “Your own granddaughter? For ten years I came to you with worry over my daughter and you wouldn’t tell me?”
“You wouldn’t accept the mates I had for her!” the Beta shouted back.
“They were centuries old, men who’d already had and lost their mates! I thought she had yet to find her own! But you knew all along.”
“So is her grandmother!”
“But she,” the way he emphasized the word had her realizing the Beta was pointing at her maternal grandmother who had to be there since she was visiting. “wasn’t born of werewolves. How many other were born humans have you heard of?” he answered his own question. “None.”
“Did any of you know?” her dad demanded and she knew he was asking the rest of her family.
Her shame was now complete. Even the members of her family that loved her would now know how worthless she was, how pathetic.
“I thought she was just jealous of Claire.” her mother’s teary voice came through. “Oh Cari,” she begged. “Forgive me.”
“Mother? You knew?” she could feel how that hurt him.
“The alpha line has to he be strong son, you know that.” her grandmother rationalized.
“Trip?” he asked of his son, the second beta, his firstborn.
“Yes.” was all Trip said.
“And if you knew so does Claire.” her dad reasoned.
“Yes.” Trip said again.
“How could she take another’s mate? Her own sister?” his question was full despair, of disbelief and shame.
“She understood she’d be a better luna.” her grandfather stated.
Cari just wanted to die. Why wouldn’t she just die? This moment would be perfect but all she could do was cower against her father as it all fell apart. She felt her father move but couldn’t muster the strength to protest or even lift her head to see where he might be going.
“Where’re you going?” her grandfather demanded.
“It’s clear you don’t care about my daughter.” her dad stated. “So I’m taking her to the grandfather who does.”
“She can’t leave the pack.”
Her dad laughed without humor as he stopped. “You couldn’t even leave her that respite?”
“Xander will become weak if she does.”
“Then he should’ve taken her as his mate!” her dad roared, his wolf coming through his words.