Anxiousness was what kept Selena standing on her feet. She took her time to compose herself. It should be easy. After all, she hadn’t stopped thinking about it. The deed should be a piece of cake but why did it terrify her when she was thinking of it now?
Selena’s knees quaked like an uneven stack of plates as she prepared herself, walking slowly towards his office.
There was that feeling in her heart. The same feeling she had when she first saw him. Her heart warmed and her throat began to dry as she arrived and faced his door. With one big breath, she opened the door and entered.
Nathaniel was sitting behind a desk littered with stacks of paper. Though he wasn’t working. He had the same look from before. So filled with dread and emptiness, it made Selena wonder how he was feeling.
He still wore the same clothes from when Katie landed herself in the hospital. The same shirt and trousers, though now they weren’t as clean as before. He didn’t look good too. The darkness around his eyes was proof of his lack of sleep.
Of course. He would stay up and do anything for Katie. He loved her more than himself.
“Alpha, I’m here.” She spoke after finding the strength to.
“Yes, about your membership but that’s now what I invited you here for.” He looked at her, his pain-slashed gaze capturing her the most. “Please, take a seat.”
He gestures to the chair in front of him. She obliged and pulled the chair back, shying away from his intense stare while doing so.
“It’s time for us to end things, Selena.” He murmured.
“W-what?” She replied breathlessly.
Selena wanted to believe that she was only hearing things. That the words from his mouth were a dream.
The sound of his sigh made her heart skip a beat.
“Would you please say that again?” She managed to look at him.
Nathaniel gulped before giving her his reply.
“I can’t look at you and pretend anymore. I know I’ve hurt you and that’s not okay.”
Her fingers prickled with a surge of uneasiness as his words sink in. He was serious. The way he spoke froze her.
“Why are you saying this now?”
“Prolonging this will only hurt you.” He reaches for his blade, the shimmering sharpness of it was blinding her.
He laid his hand on the desk, exposing the palm of his hand.
Was this it? Selena feared to ask. This was the moment that might truly break her. After all those days of wanting and hoping to leave him out of her thoughts, the day finally came.
But why was she so unprepared?
Before he could run his blade across his hand, Selena stood. The chair toppled over, the loud sound it created made Nathaniel pause and captured her within his eyes.
“How could you, Alpha Stormwind? Words matter to me most and you’re going to reject me without telling me why?” She shivered, now fuming in anger. “Your audacity truly knows no bounds.”
Nathaniel's tongue grazed over his lower lip as he put his blade aside.
“You want me to say the truth?”
“I deserve your truth even if you’ve already poisoned it with your lies.”
The light pouring out of the window failed to bring warmth into the room. As she stood with him, there was only the cold that radiated from their bodies. A hopeless and dark sensation formed in her depth, capturing everything but the emotions she tried to suppress.
“The truth is, Selena. I look at you and I hate myself. With you, my virtues are my vices and my vices grow brighter because I know I can never be the man I want to be for you.”
Selena wanted to laugh. To cry, scream, and hurt him. Just the way he hurt her. His truth was full of lies as expected.
“Your emotions don’t match your words nor actions. You don’t hate yourself. You hate me, it’s that’s simple.” She flattened her lips. “If you being an ass not proof enough then I don’t know what is.”
“A defense mechanism I guess?” He muttered. “I wanted to push you away as far as I could.”
She growled. “And you did.”
“But not far enough, sadly. When I went to Paris with Katie, I gave my Beta and guards freedom from working so if you ever decided to run on your account, no one would be guarding their posts. But you stayed and I don’t understand why.”
“Are you stupid?” She exclaimed. “I wanted to cut you off my life, to reject you but you didn’t let me. Why should I leave when you made it so clear that I can’t? If I would have left, you would have come back to claim me as yours again.”
“Yes, I guess that was wishful thinking on my part. I hoped you would leave on your own but I also wished that you’d stay.”
He avoided looking at her. He wasn’t brave enough to face the wrath in her eyes and the coldness of her frown. Selena composed herself amid the darkening of her heart, fueled by anger.
“So, instead of confronting or accepting my rejection, you chose to hide your tail between your legs and run?” She breathed, chuckling as she looked into the ceiling. “You are a coward, Alpha Stormwind.”
“I know.” He answered meekly.
“You took me away from my family so you can hurt me.”
“You were supposed to take care of me.”
“But instead, you took me here and I met Katie, the wolf you’re in love with.”
He released a heavy breath, shaking his head after he finally looked at her. The conflict in his eyes confused and angered Selena. Again, with little action, Nathaniel draws the parts of her emotions that she truly despised. She softened as she gazed into the tempest of his eyes and how she saw his wolf lowering its head.
She read him clear but where were all his lies?
Could it be that he was hurting too?
‘No!’ Selena says to herself.
That’s simply impossible.
But why did his stare flooded with the truth? Her disbelief towards the conflicting facts that she saw within her grasp continued to mess with her head.
“I know, Selena. I know that. I don’t think when it comes to you. When I’m near you, I can barely hold myself in. My vision narrows to you and my wolf cries out your name in my sleep. I don’t want to cause you more pain. You deserve much more than who and what the Moon gave you, me.”
Nathaniel never broke his stare. Inside, Selena’s mind was folded in into multiple quarters. The process of infinite, suppressing the words that she wanted to be heard the most. His gray eyes were wet with a layer of tears but they never seem to fall down his cheek. Selena’s eyes averted to his arms, seeing them shake.
“Never have I ever expected you to be such the actor.”
He shook his head. “Doesn’t matter if you believe me or not. I’ve willed myself to this.”
Selena reached over his desk, her hand flying up in the air, a sharp coldness whisked around her body as the palm of her hand stayed in place, shaking and shivering and it took all of her strength to not let her hand kiss his cheek.
That was as far as she went.
Stooping down to levels lower only meant that she had walked down to the path he wanted her to be. She draws her hand back, placing it over her chest as she stared at his readied reaction. His eyes closed while he held his breath, waiting for her to hit him.
“I want to hurt you to see you suffer as I did but I won’t. It’s not what my father or mother would have done.” She gulped.
Her heartbeat quickened as she took her dagger from her pocket and unsheathed it. Her lips had gone dry and her throat became a barren wasteland, and all that remained was the sour taste of hopelessness spread on her tongue.
“Honesty, Alpha. Give me that. What would have happened if I bent my neck and let you bury your teeth in my body?”
Nathaniel turns away, running his hand through his blonde hair.
“In a heartbeat, Selena. I would and will always choose you if only I was given the chance to.”
She bore a look of disbelief. ‘Me?’
Selena was caught in the idea. To be adorned by Nathaniel’s strong arms, protectively wrapped around her body and his lips softly planted on her skin while he breathed on her nape.
Those ideas were tantalizingly painful and each of them she could not afford to entertain.
“And what would have happened to Kayla Marie?”
“I-I wouldn’t know.” He struggled to speak. “When it comes to you, Selena, my world stops and I see only you. I render myself stupid because I can’t think about anything or anyone else but you.”
“Oh, bull! Alpha Stormwind.” She snorts. “I know all people aren’t the same but I think I know what kind of man you are. You are the type of man that expects a fucking menage et trois to come out of this. You will never choose me because the only wolf you’ll only love is Katie. Isn’t that right?”
He denies her an answer. The act made her eyes widen as she looked back at what Katie had said. At that time, she questioned many things but the one that stood out the most was Katie’s true disposition.
“Tell me,” She breathed. “I deserve to know.”
He remained stoic only fueling her uncertainty.
“Tell me! It’s the least you can do.”
The weight of her emotions finally got the best of her as a single stray tear crept down her cheek.
Nathaniel ceases to breathe as her tears pummeled his sense. He knew it was going to come to this but after mulling it over for days his false sense of bravery washed away after the sight of her tear-stained cheek dawned upon him.
“Please…” She whispered.
“Kayla Marie is my responsibility, Selena.” Nathaniel’s voice was barely audible.
Everything had no purpose, for Nathaniel, this outcome was inevitable. He knew that the burden of free choice came at the price of losing something and it was uncontrollable.
Though losing Selena was not a free choice but only a result.
“Even when I beg, you still lie.” She gulped.
The fragments of her broken heart had their own thoughts, sides to which she detested. With every piece having different ideas, it felt like she was being ripped apart by her conflicting thoughts.
“It’s not a lie.” He answered.
“It is and you know it!” She spat out loud. “Words hurt more for wolves. No other blade is harp enough to gut someone useless.”
“Words, Selena? If you truly value words as you say so then you should know that even I can't escape what words I have said. Words matter to me too, promises do. And I made a promise to Katie.”
His betraying gaze looked somber, the calmness in them was mesmerizing but at the same time hurtful. She wanted to believe him so badly, to think that maybe there was a good side to him. Though that was only wishful thinking that meant more harm than the true bliss she longed for in her heart.
“It’s sad that you deny her. Kayla Marie loves you and you won’t even admit it. Why? So you can gain sympathy from me? I’ve had enough.”
She held her dagger over her palm and slowly plunged the tip on her skin, running it across. The smell of blood wafted into her nose and the sight of the crimson liquid that seeped out from the cut made his wolf whimper.
The deed was done and Nathaniel took his blade and did the same. Selena watched the blankness of his face, horrified at how the color has disappeared from his cheeks.
The air around her became light as she breathed in.
“It’s finished.” She whispered. “I hope our paths never cross again, Alpha Stormwind.”
Selena wiped her blade and placed it back to its cover. The cut’s sting persisted and she surmised the wound would not heal soon too.
Until her wolf begins to accept it, her cut will heal like a normal human’s.
“Think of my words, Selena. I hope you find them true someday.” He spoke without meeting his face.
She didn’t want to see his reaction, fearing that she might come to regret her actions and cause her to feel more pain.
With a deep breath, she turned to the door, walking at a brisk pace. She pushed her emotions and let the tears she was holding in came pouring down her cheeks while her world crumbled in her wake.
Now that she had finally rejected him, what now?
Where was the happiness that she looked for when all that she felt was complete hollowness?
It had been hours since Selena had finally cut the strings of fate that bound her to Nathaniel. Despite letting herself go, the pain was still there. The hurt in his eyes and the struggle in his voice was a ghost that carved a reminder in her.
Maybe there was an inkling of truth in his words but she didn’t have the leisure of her emotions to dwell on that.
She was free.
And thinking of Nathaniel should be the last thing in her mind. All she needed to worry about was going home. Francis would probably be thrilled to be home, especially if he was going to see his son. Though she couldn’t say the same.
What would Talon feel about this? Surely her brother would have strong opinions and his wrath would be a disaster she couldn’t escape from. At the very least, a sharp tongue-lashing was something she looked forward to.
Selena’s ear picked up a pair of feet, walking in her direction. She turns and saw Francis’s worried mask. His tall body moved around the lumbering trees while he grimaced ruefully.
“Damn trees, who put them there?” He muttered.
“I believe bird droppings did.” Selena flattened her lips, finding her cousin’s prickly distaste for trees amusing.
“I’ve been looking for you.” He spoke, sitting beside her. “What are you doing here so deep in the forest? Pack Morris’s wolves are gone, you know? Rogues can come in and attack you anytime soon.”
She smiled at Francis, masking her pain with a chuckle.
“He accepted my rejection. We can go home to pack Highcliff now.” She meekly whispered.
“Oh.” Francis turned silent. “Well, that was unexpected.”
“Doesn’t matter now. Going home to Talon is the only thing I need to do and perhaps take Sebastian out in the city, or something?”
She wanted her mind to be filled with countless distractions or anything to keep him out of her life.
Francis stared at her, picking up her unwillingness to speak about the matter.
“Cousin, not talking about this will do you no good. It’s best to let it out now before it explodes on your face.” He says.
Selena rolled her eyes and groaned. Blissful ignorance was an option too and she wasn’t ready to gloss over her rejection.
“I’m not ready yet,” Selena shrugged, “And besides, I have the rest of my life to mull over it.”
“So you’re just going to hold it in?” He raises his brows.
“I just want to think about anything else other than him. He’s been living in my head and he’s not even paying rent.”
Her cousin chuckled, looking away. He felt awkward. Finding himself on the end of Selena’s silence was odd for him as she would normally raise her voice and then push him away.
Is this what they called a dilemma? He sighed and avoided speaking about it.
“Sebastian loves ice cream. If you plan on visiting him, make sure to bring two tubs of strawberry ice cream.” Francis tried to diffuse the situation, offering her a restrained smile.
“Two?” She raised her brow.
“Yes, two. One for Sebastian and a complimentary gift for me after you made me lie to Talon.” He grinned. “I have to pray to the Moon that your brother doesn’t find out about this.”
Selena felt ill. Francis’s involvement in this spelled trouble indeed. His devotion to Talon was already smudged.
“I’ll vouch for your innocence if he trials us. We both know how ruthless he is and there’s always safety in numbers.” She chuckled.
It was a dark thing to laugh at but funny nonetheless.
“Oh, and by the way, I found a necklace on your bed.”
He fishes something out of his pocket and pulled out the necklace Eliza gave her. Vehemently, she grimaced. She never took it off and it stayed with her even if she went for a shower.
“It must have fallen off this morning.” She reached for the necklace and wore it. “This necklace hides your scent.”
“Really? I didn’t know that.” He answered in a slurred tone. “But enough of this moping around. Pack your things now so we can go home.”
Selena nodded, standing on her feet and taking in a deep breath. He was right. The sooner they leave the sooner she would move on.
With one step after another, Selena braved her footing and walked out of the woods. The trek towards the packhouse was an easy task. Though she couldn’t say the same thing about controlling her emotions.
‘Think of home, Selena.’ She whispered to herself.
Soon, she would see her brother, her home,her friends, and the children in the nursery. She forced herself to look at the brighter side and deny the flame of rejection from clinging to her heart.
Before Selena realized it, the pack grounds greeted her. But something was odd. The air seemed heavy, in contrast to the bright and clear sky.
She looked around to comb the area but found nothing that was out of the ordinary. Every wolf was doing their own thing, devoid of anything that might cause suspicion.
Suddenly, her instinct perked up while her fingers twitched as a familiar smell entered her nose. She became very alert, knowing full well where this feeling was coming from now.
She felt her knees tremble as she looked over her shoulder and stared at her cousin who looked fear-stricken too.
“Cousin, do you feel that?” She asked.
Francis nodded cautiously. “Yes, Talon’s here.”
Selena stood in front of the gates, waiting for her brother’s arrival. Her anticipation diffused when four black trucks parked in the middle of the street. The wolves around her stopped whatever they were doing and stared at the new arrivals.
She wanted to be happy but she knew Talon coming here was not something to be happy about.
Her brother’s furious and piercing gaze devour her as the man exited his car. His brown kind eyes were no longer there, instead, a murderous glint overflowing with anger occupied them. His disheveled appearance caused Selena to bite back her tongue while he marched in their direction.
The rest of the wolves from her brother’s retinue exited their vehicles, all their battle-worn faces staring at Selena.
“Cousin, I—” Francis spoke. But before he made a sentence, Talon’s calloused hand descended upon his face.
The sound of skin kissing skin blared into her ears like a loud and powerful explosion as Francis hit the ground. She fell on her knees and gathered Francis into her arms. His nose severely bled and no matter how many times she hopelessly called her cousin’s name, he wouldn’t respond.
“Francis, hey. Wake up, wake up.” She shook him lightly while cradling his head.
Talon pulled Francis from her arms.
“Julius.” Talon’s thunderous voice roared. Seconds later, Beta Julius appeared in a calm and composed manner.
“Talon, what the fu—” Selena tried to scream but she halted after seeing Talon’s face.
His face was contorted into a squall of many meanings. Though she only needed to focus on one to picture out what he was feeling.
“I’m disappointed at the both of you.” He murmured lowly. “Julius, take my cousin inside my car and make sure he’s mended. I’m not done with him yet.”
Beta Julius nodded, crouching down to drag Francis.
“And you,” Talon gripped Selena’s shoulder and pulled her up from the ground. “You’re coming with me.”
Selena squirmed under her brother’s grasp as his fingers tightened, latching on her skin. Despite her many protests, Talon ignored her pleas and brought her inside the packhouse.
It was hopeless now. Never had she seen Talon become this enraged and she could only imagine the reason why he was doing this.
She drowned in the sickening stares of other wolves that greeted Alpha Talon cautiously. They all look at her with immense pity, causing her to grimace. She felt like a child being punished for doing a wrong deed. But in case, it might be her fault after all.
The whispering of the crowd that followed her became louder and the subsequent gasps willed Selena to try and pull her arm away from Talon but his strength was impeccable and trying to defy him was truly a mistake as his hand tightened even more.
With one pull, he threw Selena into the mess hall, garnering every wolves’ attention who was already in the room. For a moment, Selena struggled to find balance. Once she regained her composure, she became very aware of everyone looking at her.
“Talon, please.” Selena cowered as she bathed in embarrassment brought by everyone’s prying eyes.
“Not one word from you.” Talon glared.
“Why are you doing this?” She asked.
Talon squared his jaw and lowered his head to hers.
“I can be cruel too if I wanted to, Selena. Never mistake that.” He spat and turned away.
His eyes raked the crowd. While he was doing so, Selena stood completely hopeless. Talon’s mulish disposition pushed her to the brim of fright. He would not listen to rhyme or reason and trying to talk some sense into him would also be a mistake.
He raised his chin and cleared his throat.
“I demand an audience with your Alpha.” He bellowed.
A crippling silence took hold of everyone in the room. Even the whispers had stopped. It was an all too familiar scene. Just like when Nathaniel claimed her as his, no one flicked their tongues.
All that was present was their respect for Talon, an Alpha.
When their meekness persisted, Talon asked again.
“Has your coward Alpha realized what he has done?” The cold edge in his voice shocked Selena.
Just who is this man? Talon would never act so rashly. He acted too much like a different person and it petrified her.
Could it be possible that Talon already knew?
“Alpha Highcliff,” Eliza walked towards them, standing beside Selena. “To what is this ruckus about?”
The wolf was understandably confused and Talon’s ineptitude to explain didn’t help the situation at all.
“I don’t want to disrespect you, Luna. Though a trespass done to my family will not be tolerated, even if that trespasser is the great Stormwind himself.”
“Pardon? What has my son done?” Eliza worriedly looked around the room, trying to assess what she can.
Before anyone could say anything else, finally Nathaniel walked. He still wore the same expression from when she rejected him. Calm but sad. His dark grimace made him look like he was anticipating this.
It was as if he already knew that this was coming.
From behind the crowd, he emerges with a surefooted stance. His long brawny arms hang from his shoulders as he slumped forward.
He too acted completely out of character. The prideful asshole she knew him as became a calm wolf that the smug and energy that he radiated was almost non-existed.
He came soft, something she didn’t expect.
“Finally, you’ve come.” Talon sneered.
“Alpha Highcliff,” Nathaniel simply nodded his head and approached Talon before taking a glimpse at Selena’s bewildered state.
“Now that I have amassed an audience, I want everyone to listen. This coward, your Alpha has defiled my sister’s honor.” Talon turned to the crowd, watching their shocked expressions.
“Talon, please stop this,” Selena begged only for her request to fall from Talon’s deaf ears.
“I had thought that if my sister were to live under the care of pack Morris, I could spare her from the troubles of blood and death. But I was a fool to think that a wolf like Nathaniel Morris could love.”
Selena’s heart palpitated as she began to tear up. She realized that Francis was right. Her secrets were now exploding for everyone to see.
“Enough of all this bread and circuses. Can someone please tell me what’s going on?” Eliza looked into Selena’s eyes for an answer.
“This is not talk of bread and circuses, Luna. I am summing all of the facts that have lead to my sister’s unfortunate place. If anything, the real circus here is your son’s mistake in sending me an email containing an invitation to his wedding. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that another woman was set to marry him.”
The roof above Selena’s head fell on her shoulders as the weight of everyone's attention mocked her with intensity, gradually crushing her. Everyone’s gasps and surprised expressions narrowed onto her.
Eliza turned her head to Selena. The old woman’s face paled.
“Yes, all of you heard that right. He took my sister not to take care of her but only to replace her. Selena Highcliff, my sister, is your Alpha’s mate but never will I accept this union now after what happened and for that…”
Selena predicted the words that were coming out of his mouth.
“Talon, stop!” She called his name again, only for him to ignore her.
“For that, I sever every tie pack Morris and pack Highcliff have. No longer will pack Highcliff look to you for help, nor will we accept requests from your side. I renounce the treaties and pacts built by my father and Alpha Jacob. Such ties should no longer exist after what Nathaniel Morris has done.”
As the paralyzing coldness of the room begins to envelop everyone, Nathaniel and Talon stood in front of each other. Their eyes locked together in a defiant battle of will. Neither one of them showed any signs of backing down.
“You are without a doubt a demon, Nathaniel. I wish my father never pulled you out of that rut and save you. You should have stayed there to die.”
With one quick jab, Talon’s fist connected with Nathaniel’s jaw. Nathaniel staggered on the floor. He didn’t fight back nor did he react violently. All he did was hiss at the pain and flicked the blood from his chin. Out of nowhere, Kayla Marie rushed to Nathaniel’s aid and helped him on his feet.
Selena caught the dread on her brother’s face. That anger he possessed moments ago softened when he saw Katie.
She recognized that look. It was the same expressionless stare Nathaniel wore just hours ago. She wanted to deny it but the truth of the matter is, the proof was in front of her.
Talon took his dagger and opened the palm of his hand. He gazed down at Kayla Marie.
“By blood and fate, to repel those who I hate, a bond is broken but never will be forgotten.” He coldly stated.
It was swift. Talon run his blade across his hand and threw his dagger towards Kayla Marie’s feet.
“Let’s go, Selena.” He commanded.
He turns on his heels, leaving his mate, Kayla Marie stuck in a frozen state of disbelief until she collapses.
The fire of chaos left behind by Talon’s feet grew brighter as Selena stared at the aftermath, staggering at the debris and dust.
This was her reckoning, an end to her everything. And it was not only her who was suffering. Now, everyone around her was.