Livinia takes a seat on one of the benches and gestures for me to do the same. I sit about a metre from her, my body turned towards hers.
“Alpha Ezekiel tells me that you have been raised a Christian by your grandmother. Do you mind me asking, did your parents share your faith?”
I shake my head. “No, it was purely from my grandmother’s input.”
“And what is it about being a shifter, that is conflicting with your faith?”
I pause to think about my answer, playing with my hands on my lap.
“I guess, in a way, a mate bond is much like a marriage,” I start and Livinia nods in agreement.
“Definitely,” she says softly.
“Marriage, traditionally, is between a man and a woman. I am completely supportive of same-sex marriage, but, regardless of gender pairings, it is between two people. Not three.”
“So, being mated to two men is what is troubling you?”
Livinia frowns as she thinks. “With most mates, your soul is split when you are born and half is given to your mate, wherever they may be. That is why, when you meet your mate, you feel complete. Your soul is whole again,” she explains to me.
“Emmanuel and Ezekiel, despite having their own personalities, are two halves of the same whole. Their soul is split between the two of them, because they are twins. Their soul is also split to you, as well. This is why they felt your absence more than your average shifter. They were walking around with a third of their soul, rather than a half.”
She looks at me sympathetically. “You were, too. Did you ever feel lonely as a child? Unfulfilled? Not quite whole? That is because you only had a third of your soul, too.”
The explanation suddenly explains half of my childhood. Although I was a happy child, I didn’t spend the majority of my time in the same happy-go-lucky mood that my friends did.
I kept a ‘blankey’ for way longer than is healthy for a child. I got lonely incredibly quickly and had abandonment issues whenever I was left alone. I never realised it was because I was living with only a third of my soul.
“Yes, I did,” I confess to Livinia.
“Emmanuel and Ezekiel are twins, they’re very much the same in a lot of ways. There is no sin in being mated to both of them. I would never criticise your religion, but in our Templum, we preach that love is love. Whether you have one mate or six, there is no difference. Your faith revolves around love, try to focus on that.”
I swallow the lump in the back of my throat and focus on her words. She is right. I should focus on love. Besides, I’m not rejecting them, so what other option do I have, other than accepting them?
I decide to ask another question, seeing as Livinia is so easy to talk to, and so welcoming of me. “But how am I supposed to believe in and follow God, when I am told that it is the Moon Goddess who has chosen our pairing? It is blasphemous to believe in a separate deity.”
Livinia’s eyes soften as she regards me with interest. “Have you ever considered that, maybe, we’re all praying to the same God?” She asks. “Although there are exceptions, most religions nowadays are monotheistic, they follow one deity. Perhaps, sweetheart, we are praying to the same deity, simply in a different form?”
Now that stuns me silent.
“I’ll leave you to think things over. If you have any more questions, I will be in the back room,” she says and gets to her feet. “I hope to see you again, Rosemary.”
“Thank you, Livinia,” I manage to reply through my thoughts.
As Livinia leaves me, I rest my arms on the bench in front and lose myself in my thoughts.
Are we all praying to the same God?
If God created the world and all of the creatures in it, did he create shifters? If he created shifters, does he have a hand to play in choosing mates? What if the Moon Goddess and God are the same entity? What if they’re not, but they work together?
And most of all, does it really matter? As long as I have my faith and I am doing my best to be the best version of myself, does it matter if I don’t have the answers?
I do what I always do when I don’t know the answer. I close my eyes, grasp my hands together, and pray. I pray to God for answers. I pray to him to give me a sign, anything to tell me that I am going down the right path. I pray to him to forgive me if he feels that I am doing wrong. Without his guidance, I am acting purely on instinct and my body trusts the twins implicitly.
I need a sign.
When I have finished, I get to my feet and leave the Templum. There are some pack members walking between buildings. I wonder if I should let my mates know that I am here.
“Excuse me,” I call out to a woman who looks about my age.
She has hair similar to mine, but a much deeper than. She smiles as I jog over to her.
“Do you know if the Alphas are in at the moment please? Or where I can find them?”
“Yeah, sure, they’re in. I can take you to them. Are you new here or…” she trails off, waiting for me to answer.
“Uh, yes, kind of. I’m Rosemary, they know me,” I tell her and she squeals, making me jump.
“Girl! They more than know you. You’re their mate, aren’t you?” She says excitedly.
Have they told the whole pack?
I look at her warily. “Um, yes,” I reply cautiously.
She laughs at my hesitation. “I’m sorry, you must think I’m crazy. I’m their cousin, you can call me Ruthie,” she says warmly. “Their mum, Leilani, is my dad, Akamai’s, sister.”
Relief fills me. “Oh, it’s nice to meet you,” I reply politely. “So, they haven’t told all of the pack about me?”
“No, not at all, don’t worry!” She reassures me as she starts leading me to a pack building. “They only told their parents, but you know families, it spread like wildfire and soon, we all knew.”
My cheeks flush and I’m filled with nerves at the thought that, one day, I’ll have to meet all of my mates’ family. I hope they like me. Other than my grandmother, I have no one.
Ruthie takes me into the pack house and leads me down a hall to some offices. She knocks on the Alphas’ office door and I hear Emmanuel call out to come in. The simple reply from my mate sends a shiver down my spine. My body really is drawn to them.
Ruthie enters first and I follow behind her. “You have a visitor,” she sings happily, full of energy.
I poke my head around Ruthie’s shoulder. Both of my mates look up from their desks, grinning when they see me.
“I’ll see you guys later,” Ruthie says, heading for the door. “And you, Rosemary, we are hanging out at some point.”
I smile shyly. “I’d like that.”
She winks at me and leaves us alone, closing the door behind her.
“Kitten, what are you doing here?” Emmanuel asks, coming over to me with a smile on his face.
“I um, I visited the Templum and spoke to Livinia,” I tell them both.
Ezekiel comes to stand next to his brother.
“How did it go?” He asks.
My eyebrows knit together as I think of a response. “It was good, actually. She’s really nice.”
“Yeah, she is,” Ezekiel agrees.
“Anyway, now you’re here, do you want to stay for dinner?” Emmanuel offers.
I think about what’s waiting for me at home; a microwave meal and antisocial housemates who never leave their rooms or clean up after themselves…
I have dinner with my mates at their house again. I’ll confess, I’d love to live here. It’s a beautiful house, so big and filled with everything you could ever need. I can’t believe they designed the master suite to fit all three of us. It seems crazy to me that they knew they were going to share their mate as they grew up. I had no idea that I would be given two mates. It was a complete surprise for me.
The twins cook for me again, they won’t let me help. The food is so good and my stomach certainly appreciates it. I’ve been living like a student on ramen and pot noodle.
We talk some more, laughing and getting to know each other. They’re so easy to be around, I feel like I blink and it’s nine o’clock. They drive me home and drop me off outside my flat. I know that they want to hug me goodbye, but they both stay in their seats when I get out.
I want to think over what the spirit leader said some more, but I know that I’m already on the road to accepting this. It’s only a matter of time before I cave.
I get ready for bed and I’m out pretty much as soon as I put my phone down. I become aware that I’m dreaming. I’m back in the Templum, sitting on one of the benches and staring at the stained glass window ahead of me.
Fate has a plan for you.
The words aren’t spoken, but I still hear them. It’s like they are whispered to my mind. I look around, trying to find the source of them, but I am alone in the circular room.
I have blessed you with two mates, you should not be ashamed of that. Accept them.
The voice doesn’t have a tone, a pitch, anything that could hint at its origin or gender. My head feels fuzzy as I stand up and spin around, trying desperately to see who is talking to me.
Gradually, it dawns on me that I can’t see anyone because it isn’t a tangible person that I’m talking to, it’s something intangible, a higher power.
“But what about God?” I ask aloud, my voice echoing around the Templum.
Your faith is your choice. Any belief is the right one, if love is the reason for it.
“I can believe in both of you?” I query aloud, having identified that this is the Moon Goddess that I am communicating with.
I wake up with a gasp. I’m sat in bed, perspiration on my upper lip and forehead. An answer is clear in my mind.