twenty-six: selfish decisions
Noises echoed from all sides of her head. The slithery voice of gentle whispers gradually goaded her into awakening. She was in a limbo-like state, half-asleep and half-awake.
While she laid on the bed, a slight movement on her sides sent shivers throughout her body as the warm air blowing behind her air slowly but surely reduced her to a piece of petrified stone.
Whoever it was that held her softly was humming a lullaby. It was odd hearing it being sung to her. Even her mother, nor her father had done so. His immaculate voice sewed seeds of unrelenting misery after she realized the person’s hand entwined with hers.
She felt his lips moving on her body, ever so gently caressing her neck.
Katie found the courage to turn her body, despite it protesting.
The dazzling light from the moon pouring into the room through the window hit the wolf’s eye. And though his gaze was the darkest shade of brown, under the illustrious moon’s light, it glowed like a beacon that absorbed her.
“Why am I alive?” She asked.
The moment she struck her head on the floor, she was certain of her death and her wolf had finally died, taken in by her cancer.
Talon’s tear-filled stare was heartbreaking. Inside, she felt happy to be this close to him while she wept at the thought of him crying for her.
“I came home as fast as I could.” He sobbed. “They found you unconscious and coughing up blood on the floor.”
Katie’s emotions continued to bloom, her wolf howling inside. All she wanted was to stand up and risk herself from dying in her wake of escape. The only thing stopping her was Talon’s muscular hand, grasping her waist and he had no intentions of letting her go.
“Alpha Talon.” She sobbed.
“My moon,” he whispered. Talon buried his face on the side of her head. “There was not a single day I wasn’t thinking of you.”
He pulls away, his bleeding heart reflected in his anguished expression.
“Why?” She asks.
Why of all the people, the wolves, left in this cruel world, why did Talon choose a lowly wolf like her to watch over with his kind stare and touch her with the kisses of a thousand innocent angels?
Even after all the dirt she dragged the people all around her, one remained and stood out the most. A bright jasper, sticking out of the rubble and stone. Its light drawing her closer. Talon’s magnificent sheen was near impossible to not see. Not only it was vivid, but it was also a casting gleam of heat and a tempest passion.
Simply irrevocable to look away.
“Why?” He asks, disbelief clouding his voice. “Why do you think, why?”
“Because I ruin everything I touch. I suck the life out of everyone. Why should you be near me?” She confessed.
She felt the inches of his hand, its rough outline and veins as she carefully lifted it and placed it on the bed. The space she created between them only gave a small amount of comfort while she sat on the edge of the bed.
Her head was hanging low and her shoulders slumped down.
For some reason, despite the change of clothes she was in, Katie felt naked. Exposed like tender flesh and bone. She felt Talon’s stare, burrowing a hole on her back as he moved on the bed, approaching her. He wraps his muscled arms around her shivering body, rested his forehead on her neck.
Exhilaration pumped into her body.
A touch like Talon’s. One she had never had the pleasure to feel up to this point felt godlike.
Her sobs were unrelenting, causing him to tighten his embrace. But by doing so, Katie became more panicked. She moved her body, desperate to remove his arms from her. Though the more she protested, the tighter his hold became.
And all of it was done in near silence.
Only their breaths and Katie’s small sobs were heard.
“I want to die.” She whispered.
Her hopes of living a life of her own were just a sham after all and she wasn’t as strong as she made herself up to be. And for that, she detested herself.
So weak to do anything and always leeching onto the wolves around her.
Wouldn’t it be more beneficial if she died?
She was stronger before she heard Nathaniel’s words. But after learning his thoughts, she felt like a dead person, walking on trembling feet. The husk she was clothed in no longer had any desire to live.
Talon nuzzles his nose onto her nape.
“Why do you want to die?” He says.
His voice cracked as he asked.
She swallowed the lump that formed in her throat.
“What can I offer besides getting the wolves around me hurt and stealing the air from people more rightful?”
Katie felt his heart against her body, its fast-moving beat tipping her over the edge.
“What exactly constitutes as someone being rightful? I think living is a good reason enough why we breathe, don’t you agree?”
“I don’t think I’ve been alive for these past few years.”
“You don’t have to feel that way, Kayla.” He says.
There was that again. His invitation to lure her in again and make her his. Even if she was slowly being dragged into his clutches, she knew she shouldn’t.
Talon was as ravenous as other wolves. Katie has seen so many wolves end up alone after being entangled with their chosen mates, wolves, and humans. Though she had no one to blame but herself.
“Alpha, why did you come back?” Katie diverted the topic to him. “I’ve long thought you’ve righteously abandoned me.”
He groans, clearly saddened by her decision to skew the conversation though to her surprise, he didn’t push, letting her breathe a little bit.
“I was in pack Albrich in the past two months. I’m fixing their accounts and doing a lot of transactions for them.” He answered.
“You’re lying.” She says.
“And what makes you say that?” He asks.
“Because Madeline was here. She said you were living in a motel, in a washed-up part of town.”
He pulls away, the absence of breath on her body was shocking. It made her realize how much she wanted him so badly.
“Wrong. I was living in one of the hotels I own and I can guarantee you, it’s not some sort of backwater. She lied to you.”
His heavy footsteps echoed in the room. Katie glances towards him, seeing his tired and unkempt state. He was wearing a crumpled shirt and a pair of faded-out jeans. He paced back and forth, silently eyeing the floor.
Maybe Madeline was lying or maybe he was too. Maybe he was trying to make her feel any better. And in that case, she didn’t want that to happen.
She had foregone the thought of seeing Talon in a much warmer light. That simply couldn’t happen.
“Well, you did still leave. Coming back here to see me is a wasted effort.” She whispers.
The last thing she wanted was to hurt him even more. But she needed to not hurt him in the long run.
“Oh, my fucking Moon, Kayla Marie!” He exclaimed.
The looming anger, exhaustion, sadness in his voice broke through her defenses. She jolted as he slammed the palm of his hand on the bed.
“How hardheaded of a woman can you be? I can’t believe you would say that after all the things I’ve willingly done and the people I’ve risked losing just to have you. I left you because I wanted you to have the freedom to choose whether or not you can stay or go. Because the truth is Kayla, I’ve cared for you from the moment I saw you and I thought if I can care for you hard enough then you would see and understand me.”
“But what Kayla? You called me wicked but then what are you?” He gulps. “You stayed here for months and I was dying, working my ass to distract myself from you leaving.”
Out of nowhere, she found the confidence to stand and formed her hands into balls of fists.
“You will never understand me. The lies, the hurt, the messed-up shit I’ve caused to everyone around me. And yes, you are cruel and wicked but not to me. You are cruel to yourself. You’re holding onto something who clearly doesn’t want you back and you’re only hurting yourself by doing that.”
He recoiled from the vile in her words.
“Well, there’s your answer.” He says. “You are heartless.”
“Heartless?” She scoffed.
“Do you deny it?” He raises a brow.
“I’ll have you to know that all I wanted was love.” She quivered her answer.
“And you didn’t want to give love back.”
“Because no one wants me to love them.”
“You don’t let anyone in. Do you just frolic around with rose-colored glasses, frail smiles, and false facades?”
“I do it to survive.” Katie countered.
“No, you don’t. You do it for attention. Why else would you be so inclined to throw away my feelings for you?” He drawled, shaking his head in disappointment.
“Excuse me?” She stood aghast.
“Addiction to pain is not uncommon, wolf. Perhaps you feel pleasure from hurting yourself.”
“I’m not a masochist.”
“I think you are.”
“You don’t know me.” She raised her voice.
It was hard to deny everything that he was saying. Knowing that his words had a semblance of truth to them. A little pain made her feel just. Under the veneer of her smile, she was made of dust. One simple breeze and she was knocked into the air.
Maybe that is why she and Nathaniel could never be together. He was the impeccable wolf that flew by as fast as the wind, the Stormwind.
“Then let me get to know you, damn it.” He trudged towards her, only for her to step back.
She wished it was that easy. But wishful thinking leads to more pain and suffering.
“Why? So you can try and fix me? Face it, Alpha Highcliff. Whatever ideas you’ve cooked up in your brain, they’re not going to happen.”
She watches the corner of his lips twitch. It was clear to her that he was biting back his words unlike her who was already raising her voice.
“There’s nothing wrong with you to fix.” He walks to her, gently reaching for her hands.
Electricity jolted her body as he interlocked his hand with hers.
Why was he stupidly persistent?
Hear breath hitched while he snaked his hand behind her, placing it on the small of her back. She pushes him away only for him to push her body to hers. She whimpers as her heart began to beat uncontrollably and her resolve crumbled as quickly as tears fell from her face.
“You are beautiful to me, my Kayla.” He murmurs lowly.
She melts on his arms and rests her head on his chest. With wide eyes, she stood shakily breathing against him.
He was bliss and his nearness a silent sanctuary.
“Please, enough of this back and forth just let me take care of you.”
A gentle kiss landed on her forehead as she stared at him. Gazing at him, all she could see was an ardent expression.
“You’re so adamant about keeping me. What exactly about me do you like?”
He pauses, contemplation flooding his eyes.
“I…ah, I guess it’s your hardheadedness, your will to leave me. But besides that, I know more about you than you think. I’ve done some digging around and discovered you’re a businesswoman leading restaurants from here in America and a few countries scattered in Europe. You’re also a food scientist and you have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry so I know you’re smart. I’ve read your thesis about the studies of cancer and I’ve watched numerous videos of you explaining it.”
She was speechless. In those interviews, she credited Nathaniel’s aid in her success. If it were not for him, she wouldn’t have anything. She was grievously penniless and Nathaniel provided more money than she could have ever asked for.
She also remembered the many times she professed her love to him as thanks. That meant Talon also witnessed her gushing all over Nathaniel.
“I think you’re an impressive person and I don’t want you to waste away, feel like you’re unwanted.”
Her heart skipped a beat
For a moment, she allowed herself to dream again. A future in which she held Talon’s hand, walking on the sidewalk. Even if it was a mere concoction of her thoughts, it still felt real, especially when her wolf was already clinging to the idea.
But what about Nathaniel?
She had sucked the life out of him. Talon would end up just like him if she stayed.
“I can’t let myself want you.” She says. “But you’re so willing and I don’t want to ruin you.”
“Then ruin me, Kayla. Just promise me to never leave.” He murmurs against her hair.
“That’s okay. I am too.”
“People will leave you because of me.”
“A lot of them already have and those who wish to stay are the real people I wish to be with.”
People had already started to abandon him and yet he was still here. Perhaps Talon has indeed gone off the deep in to want an unsalvageable wolf.
“You deserve someone better.” She sobbed.
“I deserve my mate.”
“Even if that mate is irredeemable?”
“Redeeming yourself does not come quickly as you would hope. It’s not a straight path, Kayla. Would you rather give up now or try and find a semblance of strength in your heart to fix the broken bonds you’ve created?”
She looks at him, scared and unsure.
“My sins are are far greater than anything else. I’ve killed a man from inside and took away what makes him a wolf. Isn’t that reason enough to leave me?”
Talon held her as he pushed her into the bed, laying her on her back. The exhilaration in her body quintupled as he laid beside her. He was careful not to crush her tiny body compared to his large frame.
“Nathaniel may never forgive you but you don’t have to be forgiven by everyone around you to live a life.”
“I can’t do that. Not when I’m already drowning with guilt.”
“And you think wanting to die will fix that?”
“At least I won’t be hurting anyone anymore.”
He frowns, staring at the bed canopy.
“What about me? If you die, I die too. Then you’ll be hurting a lot of people too.”
“I’ll still hurt Selena if I choose you. So no matter what path I take, I’m bound to scar some.”
Talon laid on his side, smiling at her lopsidedly.
“And Selena would never forgive me too. I’ve already suffered through her disapproval but Kayla, you are the wolf blessed to me and even though I’m backing you into a corner, I want you to know that in the end, it’s your decision.”
Her final decision should have been easy, It was right there on the top of her head. It was to run and never look back. But as she laid there beside the man that minutes ago hummed a song against her ear, she couldn’t find the strength to stand up.
Talon gave her another path, to stay and live a new life.
Abandoning the life she had was hard. How was she to turn back when every step she took forward something behind her crashed and burned to the ground?
She couldn’t give Talon reassurance. Not when even she couldn’t trust herself to make the correct choices in life.
With her fingers shaking, she reaches his hand, touching the calloused lines of his palm.
“You’re so kind to me even if what I am is pure evil.” She says.
“Maybe you are.” He smiled at her. “But wanting to be happy and content is not evil, you only did it in the wrong way.”
“What if a few days, weeks, or years down the line that fog in your head lifts and you see someone else to love.”
She closed her eyes. She didn’t understand what she asked him, only her insecurity forced her to do so. All that she wanted was to be sure and never regret it again.
“If that happens, I’ll be sure to love you both. You and our pup or pups.” He whispers in the air.
His answers caused her to tear up. Talon looked for a future she didn’t want for herself until now. He wanted children with her, unlike Nathaniel that never had plans to be with her in the first place. She fell into a string of sobs, curling into a ball next to him. He embraces her again, this time, she didn’t protest.
Another selfish decision.
She felt his hand under her chin. She lifts her eyes, seeing his glazed glance. His eye darts to her lips and she stopped breathing. Katie never wanted to kiss anyone this badly before. She wasn’t as desperate as she was before with Nathaniel, she was more.
Her hand slithered up the side of his face. She draws her lower lip in as she slips his eyepatch off him, revealing his beautiful scar. Without it, she liked him better. It was the true him, his conviction.
Nothing mattered anymore except him.
She pushed herself and shattered the wall of ice that barricaded her heart, letting in the warm emotions Talon gave her that she was adamant about throwing away.
Their lips connect and for the first time, Katie poured her heart into it. She reveled in the deepness of their kiss, drowning in Talon’s affection. It was wild, hungry, and needful. The release she was looking for was there, holding on for her like dear life. Her hands collected his shirt, scrunching its fabric while he continued to deepen the kiss, pausing only to breathe.
Euphoria, a feeling of intoxication. Talon was hers, a drug that sealed off any other thoughts and desires.
She pulls away from him, leading the kiss.
Katie rolls him on his back as she sat on his hard member. She shivered at its size. She leaned down, trailing the tip of her nose over his sternum. She continues up to his neck and jaw until she found the spot in which she planned on bearing her teeth.
“Mark me.” He murmurs.
It was an honor to hear him speak that way. His voice was infused with lust and she too wanted to taste his blood and more.
She runs her tongue over the right spot.
“Are you sure?” She asks.
With his permission, she sunk her canines deep into his body. He groans and squeezes her thighs. The taste of blood and the soft moans he created while she cleaned her mark made her needful, aroused.
The crimson red stain on her jaw was an unearthly sight for Talon. He pulls her down and kisses her again. She whimpers, dying in immense ecstasy.
She didn’t understand how love could feel this safe.
How one person could make her feel so wanted.
Their bodies moved against each other, both of them drowning in a pool of lust. It was primal instinct when she pulled his shirt over his head. His monstrous groan poked her body, causing her to tighten her legs.
She marveled at his physique, his chest heaving up and down.
“I can’t wait for marriage, Kayla.” He raised himself and cradled her on his lap. “I have to take you now.”
Neither could she.
He places her aside and moved to his drawers, pulling out a tie and a low-hanging necklace with a golden band. He returns to her and puts the necklace around her neck. She looked surprised, frozen at the gesture.
It wasn’t just a golden band, it was an engagement ring.
She panicked but Talon’s smile kept her calm.
“Give me your hand.” He says.
Katie obliged, placing it on top of his. He takes his tie and wraps it around their hands.
“We’re handfasting?” She asks.
It was certainly some kind of wedding but not what she expected Talon would do. A ceremony for binding two lives. Talon and hers.
“If you’ll allow it, yes.”
Talon waited for her answer. It was all moving too fast and Talon patiently watched her contemplate her choices. There was no time to go back. Though she was afraid, she trusted the sparks that lead to him.
She took his tie and begun winding it over their hands. She played a little smile, bursting with happiness. Her body has never been this warm before.
He pecks her nose, making her heart flutter.
“I’m not very good with my words but, Kayla Marie Smith. I come to you as a wolf and I give you my fealty, my trust, and my heart and I will stay as a husband, to protect you and give you and our pups-to-be love. Will you take me?”
She was in awe of his words. Her heart was racing as she answered.
“I will.” She says. “And I…”
She stopped for a second. She didn’t want to act too forward and making rash promises wasn’t a good idea. Instead, she spoke what was in her head.
“Alpha Highcliff, I’m not a wolf who always stands by their feet. I’m trouble and I’ve done horrible things. To be honest, I don’t understand what you see in me. I’ll be whatever you want me to be. But I also want to change for you. If you’ll have me?”
His lips smiled tightly.
“I will have you no matter what, Kayla. You don’t have to change for my sake but if you do, I’ll be with you through the process.”
She was contemplating death moments ago and Talon pulled her out of the mess she was in.
She wasn’t a fool. Katie knew she was about to leech someone else’s life again. But this time, she wanted to give back.
Redeeming oneself from despair and clutter was a near-impossible job and Katie was certain this time. Despite the guilt overflowing from her body, she wanted to do right beside him and give everything she could.
Tears fell on her cheeks while she shivered.
From crying over Nathaniel to locking hands with Talon. The quick turn of events bothered her though she knew the reason why. She forced herself to love Nathaniel, lying about it to herself. Even after knowing that the mist of lies she spread herself had now dissipated, she blindly followed her fears and continued to reap him of his life. She hadn’t loved Nathaniel for years.
She felt wicked.
Chaining Nathaniel, only to leave him after she drunk her fill with him. There was no way of rectifying her actions.
“I will burn for you, Kayla. Forego the past and lead a new life with me.” Talon spoke.
Katie stared at his shirtless body. Blood seeped out from her mark, trickling down to his abdomen. And while marveled his form, it dawned upon her that Talon was the only and real future she needed.
Her heart became heavy as the part of her brain dedicated to Nathaniel started to lose light, dimming by the moment. Its twinkle was now replaced by the man whose warmth repelled the things that made her worry.
She untangles their hands and captured his lips. Talon followed cue, divesting her of her dress. Moments later, she was naked underneath him. Her frailties were completely exposed.
It didn’t take long until Talon starting to make love to her, using only his lips. He was attentive to cue, every whimper, and every tick of her body. His teasing manner soon became torture. His teeth nipped her skin. Tender lips grazing her hardened nipples. Hand squeezing her bum.
She became restless and shifted their position. Now that she was on top of him, it was her turn to worship him. His naughty smirk emboldened her, causing her to dive into him.
Now, all she wanted was to do good by his side.
The scene swiftly passes. She wanted to believe that Talon was telling the truth of his virginity, but his long strokes and expert use of his tongue made her want to believe otherwise.
He was careful with her, only getting rough fast when she begged him to. Their lovemaking persisted for hours, pausing for a few minutes to catch their breath, only to resume later with more fervor. He was a selfless lover that made her climax too many times to a point she didn’t believe was possible. And with every finish, she was convinced that forever was no longer a dream.
He had given her more than what she could ever ask. A pair of strong arms to protect her, a calming presence, but the best thing was his heart. It was big enough to shadow over her misdeeds and accept her.
Pass midnight till dawn, their kisses concluded as the first ray of light landed on Talon’s hair. Katie collapsed on top of him, feeling thoroughly loved and ravished.
“Thank you.” She says, the hair on his chest tickling her cheeks.
Talon stroked her back, soothingly running his hand up and down.
“I never got the courage to thank you for saving me. I would already be six feet underground if it weren’t because of you. I’m sorry it took this long for me to say it.”
“No, I said some very bad things to you. Kayla, I never want to fuck you. That’s not what I am. I want you, I want to make love to you because I love you.”
She choked, breathlessly tearing up.
“I-” She teared up, almost unable to say the words hanging on her tongue. “I love you too, Alpha Highcliff.”
“Alpha Highcliff? Kayla, I’m your husband. Call me by my name.”
“Talon.” She whispered, blissfully grinning.
Silence eclipse the two lovers, both reeling from the intensity of their actions. While her eyes started to droop, Talon’s lullaby accompanied her to sleep.
Selena nervously stepped out of the basement, fixing her shirt as she walked down the hall. It was already late morning when she emerged from her room. Thanks to Dorran and the rumors she heard from Mr. And Mrs. Rosewood, she couldn’t sleep. All night she was awake, fazed by Dorran’s forwardness and worrying for Talon.
She was thoroughly confused with her feelings for Dorran.
She wanted to be happy that she allowed herself to open up to somebody else but now that it opened, Selena couldn’t help but feel only remorse.
And with Talon’s state, she was afraid that something bad had already happened.
If Katie dies without marking Talon, then he dies too and if that were to happen, Selena wouldn’t know what to do. For her, it was the equivalent of losing her purpose, and the idea of Talon leaving her hurt the most.
She wanted to speak with Katie, despite her dismay.
Selena wasn’t that ecstatic with seeing the wolf but her brother’s health was important.
As she passed the living room, Francis’ laugh entered her ear. Surprised, she turned to him with a smile on her face.
“You’re here.” She says.
He faces her and raised both of his brows.
“I live here.” He answered.
Sebastian was hanging on his father’s shoulder like a monkey. His playful laugh overrode the tick of annoyance she felt from Francis.
“Good morning, Sebby.” She greeted the child.
He simply smiles at her and continued to climb Francis’ body like a tree.
“Ew.” he scowled at her. “Did you just give my brother an ugly nickname? Please don’t call him that again.”
She giggled. It was a new pet peeve she discovered.
“I promise if you cut down the sass.”
Francis rolled his eyes.
He was gone for weeks on end, traveling to pack Albrich and back again to pack Highcliff, carrying messages and files too confidential to be sent through emails. With Talon overworked, she never got the chance to talk to him and Francis was the one relaying orders and messages for him.
“Are your tasks done?” She asks.
Francis shook his head.
“Nope.” he kissed his teeth. “If I’m not mistaken, I think Talon has two more drawers worth of paperwork. Pack Albrich does not know how to do their taxes.”
Disappointment grabs hold of her.
“So he’s not going home anytime soon?”
“Talon? No, he’s home now.”
Her eyes widened. Judging by the nonchalance of his response, she could tell he wasn’t just pulling on her leg.
“Wh-what? Since when?”
“Last night. He and I came home around midnight.”
“Then why didn’t you tell me?” She arched a brow.
“Well, excuse me ask-a-lot-of-questions-Dora. I was exhausted and I wouldn’t go around announcing my arrival like a D-lister celebrity just to see that look on your face.”
She grimaced at him. It was obvious that something was making him upset.
“At least tell me Talon’s okay.”
“There are different levels of being ‘okay’, Selena.” He spat.
Francis looked as if he was hesitating to answer.
“Cousin, I think it’s better that you don’t speak with him now.”
“You’re scaring me.” She says.
His face darkened with a frown. He turns away from her and took Sebastian to the kitchen.
With her bearings askew, Selena trudged to the door and run as fast as she could to the packhouse. A constant ringing in her ear blared as she started to think for the worst.
What ifs and different terrible scenarios played in her head while she bolted through the pack door, tears starting to form in her eyes. Her breath was hitched as she passed wolves in the corridor, not looking back after she hit someone with her shoulder.
Moments later when she stood in front of Talon’s door, she paused and gathered her wits. She braced herself, sobbing as her thoughts get the best of her. With one twist of the doorknob, she was greeted by a sight she wanted to immediately forget.
I’m certain a lot of you are probably not amused with the outcome and that’s perfectly okay.
Now that Talon has Katie’s mark, this is the part I’m dreading to write the most. The plot is going to shift widely.
If you enjoyed the chapter, please consider leaving a vote or comment your thoughts in the comment section.