Selena's body jolted suddenly in shock, she turned to her side and saw Lively.
"Come on, let's go. Don't give him the satisfaction of seeing you hurt." She murmured. "I didn't expect him to go this far."
She surmised that not everyone knew of Nathaniel's plan to marry Katie up until he revealed it to the pack. Now that everyone was aware of it, he had made it to a point of no return.
Did Eliza plan this party for Nathaniel and Katie? They were a week early and she was sure this was not a coincidence. Perhaps this is what Jacob meant when he said he suspected something else was going on?
The longer she stood in place, the faster her body crumbled. While inside of her, the weeping cries of her wolf continue to weaken Selena's resolve.
"Lena," a cheery voice came from behind them. It was none other than Jacob, happily grinning from ear to ear. "The pants are a little too big but I'd say you look good."
Looking at Jacob and glancing back at Nathaniel, Selena couldn't believe that both of them were from the same flesh and blood. Though they looked the same, their dispositions were far too different from each other.
'Why didn't I have you instead of Nathaniel, Jacob?' She thought.
The idea was a crime itself. To question the Moon's intentions meant you didn't trust her. But Selena didn't mind that at all. She couldn't trust the Moon and she probably never will after what she did to her.
"I-I gotta go." Selena tried to push past him but he was quick to reach out his hand to stop her.
"Wait, mother told me to invite you to our table. She says you have to come because you are her guest."
"Personal guest?" Selena asks, her heart throbbing with uncertainty.
"Well, yes. Did my mother not tell you?"
Selena gulped noisily. She was still recuperating from witnessing his mate announcing his engagement to a wolf that was not her. And now, she had another problem she needed to deal with.
"Selena's not feeling well. She needs to rest." Lively placed a hand on Selena's back.
"Oh, well-" Jacob was cut off when his mother appeared, pushing against the crowd of wolves.
From where she stood, a feeling of lightheadedness slithered into her chest. She was in the precipice of her undoing when her nose caught Nathaniel's scent. His closeness and overwhelming power prickled her skin, causing goosebumps to appear on her neck.
Meters away, Nathaniel made it his best to avoid looking at Selena. Though Selena didn't see, she felt his disdain. It made her question to what length does he truly despise her.
At this point, Selena concluded that he was only doing this to toy with her emotions or his wicked punishment for not submitting to him. Perhaps deep down, Nathaniel and Jacob had the same morals. To string women to adorn themselves like trophies.
He planned on marrying Katie and yet, on the battlefield, when they were surrounded by blood, dead wolves, and many witnesses, he wanted her to bend her neck and mark her.
Selena shivered against Lively's cajoling hand.
"Selena," Eliza smiled kindly. "I see my son's clothes fit you well."
"I'm sorry." She murmured.
"Don't you worry about it. I'd only be against it if your mates are here."
The old woman laughs lightly. Selena writhed in anguish at Eliza's obvious misplaced laughter.
"Mother, Selena's feeling a bit dizzy. She was hoping to skip dinner and just rest." Lively spoke for her.
Selena couldn't be more thankful for her newfound friendship with Lively.
"Are you ill? Queasy or just discombobulated?" Eliza stepped in to place a caring hand on Selena's forehead and neck. "You don't have a fever. Perhaps a stomach bug?"
It was her heart, breaking into tiny pieces. That was the sickness that plagued her heart and no other thing.
"I feel like I'm getting sick." She reasoned, hoping Eliza should believe it.
"Well, if you are. We can get the pack doctor to give you some medicine but you need to eat first before you consume it. So muscle up, dear. I know for sure that the soup tastes great." She smiles at her. "After all, I helped make it."
Again, she was left with no other options. Everything sped by so quickly that her words remained unsaid, festering behind her tongue.
Lively and Selena exchanged glances. Her shaky fingers curled into the palm of her hands. She held herself and braved her heart, walking to where Eliza went. The mess hall was filled to the brim of happiness. The atmosphere around her was a stark contrast to the storm of her darkening emotions, brewing inside of her.
Eliza leads them to a long table covered with freshly cooked meals.
"Wow," Jacob beamed. "Finally, some home-cooked meals. The garbage I normally buy in restaurants cannot compete with everything in front of me."
"You're only saying that because it's free food." Eliza chuckled.
"Correction, mother. It's free and delicious." He took the seat next to his mother.
Eliza glanced at Selena. "Come, sit next to my son."
Selena begrudging smiled. Trying her best to conceal her pain. At least it wasn't Nathaniel who she was sitting with. But it seems as though her wishes came crashing down on her as the man himself sad directly across the table.
The strange pull she felt with just an arm's reach away was terrifying, to say the least. Besides him, there was Katie. The wolf was completely oblivious to the tension between Nathaniel and Selena. She leaned on his arm, looking up to him with a sickly overflow of love and adoration in her gaze.
Pursing her lip, Selena ignored Katie's actions towards him.
"The food looks nice." She says, turning to Eliza.
"But of course. When I spend from my personal pockets, I do so with gravitas, my darling wolf." The old wolf answered. "This is a special event therefore I am to make it extra special."
Jacob leans to Selena and whispered into her ear.
"As you can see, my mother is a showoff who has a spending problem." He chuckles.
Selena couldn't help but smile, finding the statement somewhat very true as evident to the magnitude of this event and the dresses the old wolf often wore.
Meanwhile, across the table, Nathaniel watched his mate's and his brother's exchange silently. Though he had his head lowered, he had his eyes pinned to only one person. A phantom cut on his side seemingly appeared out of nowhere when he dawned on Selena's restrained smile, completely vexed it wasn't him that caused her to do so. He groans absentmindedly.
"Either way, everyone seems happy."
Selena shrugged her shoulders, trying to ignore her mate's disappointment.
"They have reason to be." Jacob smiled lopsidedly. "This is the first party pack Morris held ever since my father died eight months ago."
She felt the space around her become stone-heavy, crushing her body. Selena never thought of Jacob senior, much more of him being dead. It was an idea that never crossed her head.
"For fuck's sake, junior." Lively slurred. "Way to go on bringing the party down."
"I'm sorry." He lowers his head.
Eliza cleared her throat. "Are you drunk tonight, Lively?"
"Uh...yes, mother." She answered sheepishly.
"Well, Letty can't stay with you if you plan on drinking tonight. Bring her to my room when you plan to rest. Which reminds me, where is my bearded son? He surely made himself scarce this evening."
Lively grimaced. "He's-"
"I'm right here, Eliza." Winston's voice came from behind them. Lively stiffened as he took the seat right next to her. He kisses her lips, causing his wife to blush. "Good evening."
She was lost for words. Selena sat and watch the husband and wife talk as if nothing was happening between the two of them. It was the epitome of not airing your dirty laundry in public, to which Selena found it to be both impressive and sad. Impressive because their act was completely believable and saddening as they wouldn't be pretending if they weren't fighting.
"Welcome back, Nate, Katie. How was Paris?" Winston continued the conversation.
"It was awful. The weather was extremely cold and this one kept complaining about like it wasn't already obvious." Katie chuckled.
For the first time in the evening, Nathaniel spoke to answer Katie.
"Well, it wasn't completely awful." He says.
Selena didn't miss it. There was an obvious hollowness to his tone. Like there was something amiss. But instead of dwelling on it further, Selena focused on the bowl of soup Jacob served her. Thanking the man who wore a wolfish grin.
"Yes, believe it not. I didn't peg Nathaniel to be that one guy who would kneel on the base of la tour Eiffel. It was very sweet." She giggles.
"At least you guys had fun." Lively spoke drunkenly.
Selena's eyes widened. Suddenly, she was afraid that Lively's intoxication might have come back on all force, making her unable to control the words that were coming out of her mouth.
"Lively..." Winston warned.
"Meanwhile some people are dying of the fact that they're going to be alone forever." She glared at Nathaniel.
The awkward tension from before tripled in size as everyone on the table caught wind of Lively's distasteful tone filled with vitriol. Selena's heart thumped vigorously, making her breathe at an erratic pace.
"Oh, who?" Katie asked, her oblivious-looking expression caused Selena's heart to ache further.
That only meant that even she didn't know that Nathaniel was Selena's mate. Both Eliza and Jacob reacted the same curios gazes. The pressure that bubbled in Selena's core was unbearable. She took one look at Nathaniel and saw nothing but his stoic expression.
The look was enough to make her erupt.
"Me," Selena spoke in a breathy confession. "My mate recently rejected me and I confided on her and that's the reason why she's currently indisposed. We were drinking."
"Oh, Selena." Eliza reached a hand over to her. "What a pearl he has lost."
"And what a fool he is." Lively added.
Winston was quick to shush his wife, placing his arm around her waist. He pulls her close and whispered something in her ear.
Her faux confession earned her another groan from Nathaniel. Their eyes momentarily connect, greeting Selena with an equally despairing glance from moments before. She wasn't expecting this night to be like this. After agreeing to come to the party, meeting Nathaniel and dining with him while Katie present was the last thing on her mind, in fact, the odds of it happening was one to a million. But now his indifference caused her to recklessly lie all because she wanted him to feel the same hurt that boiled in her blood.
She hated Nathaniel and there was no other word to describe it.
"So, when's the wedding?" Jacob asked, trying to ease and diffuse the situation.
"We haven't talked about it yet but the sooner the better," Nathaniel answered.
"Should the both of you really marry without the consent of your mates?"
All eyes land on Lively. Again, the table was covered with a prolonged silence that none of them wanted to address.
The chandelier lights that hovered above their heads fail to cast a warm friendly glow as their faces only marred the darkness of disdain caused by Lively's provoking question.
Nathaniel cleared his throat and stood.
"I think it's time Katie and I retire. The trip was tiring. Good night, everyone." Before heading off, he looks at Selena, running his tongue above his lower lip as if he was falling nervously ill. "And congratulations, Ms. Highcliff. It's not often that a guest becomes a member of pack Morris. Welcome to your new family."
Before she could get a word out of her mouth, Nathaniel guided Katie out of the mess hall. With a petrified stare, she remained still, bereft by the parting words her mate left them.
"Shame on you, Lively. You know how much it upsets him when the talk of his mate comes into discussion. Well, that and Kayla Marie's sickly condition."
Lively grimaced. "You're enabling him, mother. It's not fair."
"He's a grown man and he knows how to weigh his decisions. Though I fear he might not be able to stand his ground when the consequences of his actions when the time comes." She flattens her lips, peering down to her food.
"You have to forgive my wife, Eliza. She's drunk as a skunk." Winston aided his wife when they stood together.
Lively's loud protests of saying otherwise could be heard fading away while Selena was entangled in her thoughts, she couldn't help but think of the worst. She turns to Eliza and cautiously confirmed her suspicions and disrupting the flow of their conversation.
"Did my brother send my papers here?" She gulped.
"I was about to tell you." Jacob took her attention. "Your stuff arrived an hour ago along with your records. Alpha Talon himself brought them. You're now a wolf of pack Morris."
She froze. "I'm a wolf of pack Morris?"
She needed time to process everything that she had just learned. But before anything else, a bubbling surge of betrayal rose among her other thoughts.
"Is my brother is still here?"
Jacob grimaced and shook his head.
"He said it would be best to not tell you of his presence."
"I see," she says coldly. "Can you show me to my belongings?"
"Of course. Since you're a member of our pack, your belongings were sent straight to your room."
My room? The revolt trapped behind Selena's tongue almost slipped.
Her room was in her home. In pack Highcliff and not the Morris'. She hid her feelings of disarray and gently stood, excusing herself to Eliza who's suspicion plagued her expression.
Almost as quickly as their eyes connect, Selena turned away from the woman's prying gaze and remained somewhat stoic. She needed to get out of there before she would lose the reigns on her emotions. There was a twinge of a culling fire in her chest but try as she may, she realized what Talon has done. He had thrown her into the fray and placed her in Nathaniel's hands.
A minute later, Jacob brought her to a small yet cozy room. It would have been empty if not for the bed placed on the corner of the room. Two duffel bags carrying the scent of her home caught her attention. They were on the foot of the bed, stacked on top of each other.
"This will be your new room. It hasn't been used in a while hence the total absence of furniture. But if you need anything, we have extra closets, lamps, tables, and other furnishings in the basement. You can ask Nathaniel if you plan on using them."
The somber glow of the moon leaking from the curtainless window illuminated the room. Though despite the lack of light, she stepped into the room and touched the bed, feeling the softness of the sheets.
"Oh, and since your membership is quite a surprise, we didn't have to time to fix the lights. I hope you will be fine with that. After all, some wolves deem light unnecessary. But we can repair it come morning."
"Thanks, Jacob. It's all perfect for me."
She was eager to kick him out though she couldn't say the same about being alone in a room.
He wears a tight-lipped smile while he scratches the back of his head.
"For the record, I know that the dinner was grievously awkward and I want to apologize that you witnessed it."
"Does that happen often?" She dared herself to ask.
"As often as we get together...so always. But I for one, like it. My life in New York as a college student warrants the tiniest bit of drama and my dysfunctional family provides a surplus of it for me."
He waves his hand and turns on his heels, finally leaving Selena. With his departure, the room grew colder and the fact that her current reality was burning became more abundant when she opened the bags. Her hand dove in and picked up a shirt. It wasn't any other shirt as it belonged to her brother.
She remembered the countless times she borrowed the shirt and how she would always jest of keeping it for herself. When she raised it in the air, a box and a note fell on the bed, bouncing off the floor.
For a moment, she remained motionless. The simple sight of the box brought memories flooding into her mind. She picked up the note and the box, shakily reading the handwritten words of her brother on the paper.
'Selena, I know you're upset about me deciding to put you in the permanent care of pack Morris. This decision of mine is made with the good intention of keeping you safe. Pack Remmington's most recent attack only means that they have become more brazen in their actions of hunting our family down. As Alpha and the male heir to our family's legacy, I have made it my sole mission to protect what our mother and father left us. You, my sister, are the most important wolf to me. I hope someday you can put aside your anger and realize that I only did this because I love you.
Nathaniel Morris is a good and respectable man. In pack Morris, your protection is assured and as his Luna, you will thrive and follow our mother's footsteps. A mate will serve and protect their partners for love and death. Alpha Morris is the same. Let him teach you his traditions and while doing so, teach him our ways.
Other wolves mock us for our distaste of war and how often we rely on others to defend us. Our inability to fight is no weakness, in fact as our father once told me, it is a great strength to hold your emotions at bay.
Don't falter, Selena. You are strong and please know that I don't wish for you to come back to pack Highcliff. Your home is with your husband, Nathaniel.'
Selena wanted to rip the paper apart, outraged by the words written on the paper. Though she tried to tear the paper, she was consumed by guilt and sadness. Her brother was only trying to look out for her but in doing so, he doomed her and sent her into deeper waters to drown.
She realized that she could never go home and leave pack Morris.
To stay in pack Morris forever, does the Moon truly despise her?
The tempest in her heart grew as her tears fall on her lap as she reaches for the familiar box and opened it. It was her mother's wedding ring. A holly blue agate shaped like a teardrop affixed on a silver crown. The color of the gem mirrored that of her mother's eyes broke her even further.
Selena laughed, finding her moroseness somehow amusing.
Perhaps she was finally losing her marbles and was falling ill to insanity?
She held the ring and fell to a series of sobs, slumping down on the waxed floor. She curled next to her brother's shirt and wished he was there and would take her away from this nightmare.
Hey everyone! Forgive me for the delay but I had to edit a huge part of this chapter out. I originally wrote 5k close to 6K words for this chapter but I decided to cut half of the word count because I didn't want to go to spoiler territory. ⊙﹏⊙
I'm happy with how I left it out and now I have to do a massive revision on my plot chart, lmao.
But I hope you enjoyed this chapter!
If you liked the chapter, please go ahead and consider leaving a vote or a comment down below!