"I reject you as my mate."
Boom. Boom. Boom.
My heart thunders inside my chest. The air turns heavy, making me feel like I'm losing my breath. My wolf is utterly distressed inside me.
"What?" I hate how weak my voice sounds, a barely-there whisper, questioning if this moment is real. Because it can't be. This can't be happening to me.
"You heard me, Violet," he looks down at me as if I am nothing...when I'm supposed to be everything. "This won't work."
"But...why?" Shit. My voice sounds even weaker. My heart is still racing inside me, and I'm as close to fainting as I have ever been, considering it's not very common for a healthy young werewolf like me to feel sick enough to blackout.
He sighs as if my question inconveniences him.
How dare he.
It's as if I'm asking what he is having for lunch when what I'm actually asking him is why the hell he would choose to reject the match that the freaking moon goddess gave him. It's not like they have mid-season sales or a nice "buy one, get one free" promotion for this type of thing.
Werewolves get one match, one true mate. And not every wolf has the honor of finding one in their lifetime. True matings are becoming rarer and rarer among our species, making them something to be cherished and appreciated above all else. It is said that those who are chosen to be a part of a perfect match are hand-picked by the goddess to do great things.
"Look, I'm sorry, Violet. But it's just not going to work." He tells me again.
Each time he rejects me, my breaths grow shallower. I'm very close to crying now. My wolf feels frozen in pain. This isn't supposed to happen. Not to anyone, not to me.
"Is it because of Erin?" I ask, trying to understand what could possibly make him do this.
Erin is my mate's girlfriend. I met her before I even met him, a few days after starting classes at "Woodbridge University," a school meant for werewolves from different packs to mingle and create alliances. She was nice. I liked her. But that doesn't mean I want my one true mate to reject me for her. Yes, it was cruel that she was even the one that had introduced us from afar. But it's far harsher for a wolf to be denied their mate after experiencing the connection.
He looks like he wants to deny it for a second but moves his head in a confirming nod instead.
"I love Erin."
This is the moment my knees give out. Literally. I drop to the floor right in front of him, losing any of the strength that was keeping me upright.
And just as I think my humiliation could not get worse, he decides to crouch down to my level and pat me on the head, before telling me, "See you around, kid."
I am only one year younger than the giant asshole the goddess decided would be perfect for me. If his birthday month is after August, we're not even talking about a year. So, he calls me that not only is it infuriating, it doesn't make any sense.
I want to scream at him as I watch him walk away, leaving me on the floor, alone and destroyed. But a colossal knot is lodged in my throat, blocking any words from coming out.
And so here I am. In the middle of a school hallway, surrounded by lockers, with tears falling down my cheeks and a hand pressed close to my chest, struggling to keep it together long enough to get up and out of the floor.
Soon, the bell will ring. And students from all around the university will leave the classrooms/auditoriums and have a front-row seat to the worst moment of Violet Knight's life. My life. And as much I want to stop it from happening, at this moment, there doesn't seem to be even one feather-light chance of my legs listening to me and getting me the hell out of here.
This is not how I envisioned things would go when I finally turned old enough to come to Woodbridge.
My father is the alpha of one of the most influential packs from North America, the "Blue Moon" pack. Both my older brothers came here before me, the oldest, River, as future alpha, to make strong connections that would help our pack in the future. And Colton, my second brother, to help calm down his angry temperament and womanizing ways. My mother had hoped he would find his mate here, even if it's becoming a scarce occurrence.
Every time my brothers came home for the holidays, they would tell me all about how great it was to meet wolves from all over the world.
River has already graduated but found his two best friends and amazing girlfriend while attending Woodbridge. Colt is a senior, and while he has not found a mate yet, he is becoming more even-tempered, considering the university has very strict rules about fights on campus.
When I finished high school, I begged my parents to come here instead of the university closer to home (where humans also went), even though they didn't find it necessary. My dad wanted to keep his only daughter close to him. But, with help from my brothers and many puppy face moments, I managed to convince him that I, too, as an alpha's daughter, should have the chance to look for new allies for the pack and, in turn, experience the extraordinary diversity and community that the Woodbridge university offers.
I'm regretting my request right about now.
Get up. Get up. Get up. You are an alpha's daughter. Get up.
My wolf has stayed very quiet since she felt our mate's rejection, not helping me at all. The pain from the rejection must feel enhanced for my wolf half, although right now, the human half doesn't seem to be handling it all that well either.
A few more minutes, and that bell will ring. GET UP! I will not be further humiliated today.
Grinding my teeth and releasing my chest, I start to move with what feels like a herculean effort. My legs want to fail me as I use them to push myself up, but I won't let them.
Slowly, I can stand, and, without losing momentum, quickly make my way to the emergency exit on my left and push the door in a quick motion.
Feeling grass beneath my shoes right when I step out of the building, I call to my wolf.
Shit. Guess I'll have to get to the dorms in my human form.
The housing buildings are in the middle of the forest, while the main buildings, where the classes are held, along with the cafeteria and gym, are closer to the city. This is supposed to give us more privacy and the opportunity to run in our wolf forms during off-school hours without humans hanging around.
I question whether I can run, considering how weird my body feels. It's as if his rejection touched every part of my being and robbed it of strength. I don't understand why it feels this way to me while he looked as cool as a cucumber while walking away. It must affect his wolf somehow to leave his destined mate behind. Or maybe not, and I have been fooled about the importance and repercussions of the mating bond my whole life.
Thankfully, as soon as I begin to push my legs, they obey, finding firmness in my sizable desire to leave this place and his words behind.
It only takes 10 minutes to arrive at the women's dorms. My roommate and new friend, Camila, aka Cami, is still in class, the one I was also supposed to be at until my gaze met his when we grabbed books from our neighboring lockers. Why did this university need to have lockers? Why?
I had already seen him around the campus before that moment. But mates need to be very close to one another and exchange gazes from within that proximity to be able to feel the mating pull. It's like our wolves need to be able to see each other, and, while in human form, that requires closeness. If we were in wolf form, I could probably have sensed him from more than a mile away. But alas, I am a first-year, and I suppose we never happened to shift simultaneously during my first days here.
I enter the building and rapidly make my way to the second floor. My room is the first one to the right, and I hurry toward it, feeling my legs start to give away once more. Immediately, I drop to my knees beside my bed, letting exhaustion overcome me. It seems my body is protecting my mind, perhaps my heart, by shutting down while I'm not strong enough to process what just happened. There isn't enough energy to lift me onto the single mattress, so I rest my head on the edge of my bed and let myself be.
"Vi?? Are you okay?!"
I startle awake when a hand grabs my shoulder and starts to shake it. My vision takes a minute to entirely focus on Cami crouched beside me with a worried look on her face. "Why are you on the ground, Vi?" she asks, frowning. "And why didn't you come to class?"
Her question is left unanswered at first. I don't even look at her as I go over the events that led me to this position.
"Vi?" She presses, probably wondering if I have gone crazy. I really hope I have and that this is just a terrible dream. But the aching pain I feel in my chest tells me otherwise.
"Cami," I whisper her name in a broken voice.
"What, honey? What's going on?"
A single tear falls from my eyes as I tell her the horrifying truth "He rejected me."
The pain grows stronger as I tell her this, like a knife embedding itself deeper inside my body.
She looks at me with a mix of curiosity and pity. "Who rejected you?"
I gulp, preparing myself to say his name. "Aiden."
Saying it hurts. Everything about him hurts.
"But Vi...he has a girlfriend," Cami says, looking perplexed. "Don't you remember Erin? We met in our first week. She even pointed him out as her boyfriend."
"I remember her," I say sadly.
Cami looks even more confused.
"Honey, I know he is deliciously hot, probably even the hottest guy on campus. But we don't steal another girl's boyfriend." She says it like a mother teaching her children about life, her tone serious and wise.
I want to laugh at her, even amid all my sadness. "I know that, Cami. I'm not that girl," I assure my friend. "But..." the words fail me.
"But what, Violet?"
I press my hand against my chest like I did after he rejected me, to keep my heart from falling out. "H-He's my mate,"
Cami's eyes widen, and her mouth drops open. "He's your what??"
Her shock, while amusing, seems to unlock whatever hold I still have on my composure. Tears now drop freely and abundantly down my face, as my whole body shakes uncontrollably. My friend immediately hugs me and rubs my back, whispering soothing words and promising me that it will be okay.
It's only after a few good minutes of hysterically crying in her arms and some deep, calming breaths that I feel like I can tell her the rest. "A-Aiden is my mate. I'm sure of it. We were getting stuff from our lockers when our gazes crossed a-and... I don't even know how to describe it, Cami." I take another big breath. "It's like my world changed."
The second my eyes met his, something inside my chest moved, freeing a million different sensations all at once. My vision became sharper and his gaze, once simply green, now held all the colors of the forest after a good night of rain, shining in health and unmeasurable beauty. The only sound in my ears was the vibration of his heart beating at a quick pace, matching my own with formidable precision and making it seem like we were irreversibly connected. It was somewhat frightening to experience such an intense and overwhelming emotion towards someone that had virtually been a stranger a mere moment before. But the sureness and warmth of my wolf about the situation replaced any fear and doubts I could have with nothing but an immense feeling of love. Mate. Safe.
It could have lasted only a minute, but it felt like hours had passed when our hearts finally started to slow down, and the mating pull settled in our chests. We pulled our eyes away from each other, out of breath, recovering like we had run a marathon instead of standing in the same place, staring at one another. My wolf was overjoyed, grateful to the moon goddess for the invaluable gift of her true mate.
I shared in her joy, and when I lifted my eyes from the ground, a beaming smile adorned my face. I searched his expression, expecting to find the same type of smile on my mate's face as his head started lifting.
We were alone. The rest of the students had already gone to class, utterly oblivious to the earth-shattering moment their two colleagues were sharing.
His eyes finally found mine again—no smile on his face.
He's probably still feeling shaken.
The mating pull pushed me forward, making me eager to touch my mate and reassure him. I stepped towards him with my hand held out, searching for his.
He took a step back. My smile fell.
"Aiden?" I asked, starting to feel unsure.
"Violet," He replies in the strangest tone.
I could have sworn I glimpsed some regret, even tenderness, before his face cleared and he looked at me with a blank expression.
This made me somewhat apprehensive, his lack of enthusiasm about our connection concerning me.
But I could never have imagined what he said next.
"I reject you as my mate."