Mated to the Alpha Twins by Jane Doe Chapter 96

Read Mated to the Alpha Twins [by Jane Doe] Chapter 96 – The entire room erupted in chaos. People on all sides shouted angrily, screaming obscenities and threats. They called me a monster–a beast that needed to be put down. Their words bounced off me, but their acid-stained emotions b****d and slashed at me. There were some who did not join in on the chaos, the golden-haired couple being two who remained quiet and stoic during this charade.

While horrible things were said, and d***h threats were thrown like spit from their b***d teeth. The guards that lingered around the room were on alert, emerging from their places hidden amongst the crowd. They came out one by one, blending in with the people around them.

I was genuinely surprised when each guard came to the center of the room. They stood around the High Table and the section containing my family. I knew the High Table would be first priority in a situation like this, but I hadn’t expected my family and I to be included.

During the chaos, Nico Deville chose his moment to arrive. The oak doors that served as the main entrance were flung open, but that did very little to calm the manic witnesses.

Sitting above it all, staring down at the chaos like an unruly g*d, was Marcus Novak.

He did not intervene, where he certainly could have. These people would listen to him, they would quiet for him. He remained sitting, poised and serene as he watched the unfolding chaos.

It was Jaspar Fox who stood, slamming his hands on the table in front of him so hard that the witnesses who had been pressing forward, flinched back.

Even I took a step back as Jaspar’s emotions registered with me. My skin erupted in flame–searing hot as though it were real. His irritation and anger washed over me, just as his eyes met my own. They were not pained, nor were they haunted. They were frustrated and pissed off.

As his eyes met mine, I could feel him suppressing those emotions, purposefully trying to dampen them. Perhaps he knew the strength of his own emotions. I was beginning to think that Jaspar Fox must be much more than what he seems.

“Enough.” His voice was whisper silent, but each and every one of us could hear him. There was another whisper or two from across the room, so quiet I had nearly missed it, but Jaspar Fox did not. He lifted his head, and his eyes scanned the room. Thick chords of muscle moved beneath his leather jacket as he searched with his eyes. His lips twitched, and I knew he found the two poor individuals he was looking for. He speared them with his eyes, and both of the middle-aged males went completely still. “I said enough.”

The entire room was quiet now, hardly breathing as nearly all of us cowered. Kade, of all people, happened to be intrigued at Jaspar’s outburst.

I could hear several sighs of relief when Jaspar slowly lowered himself to his seat.

I could still feel the remnants of his anger, like a harsh sunburn that I knew would peel. While I wanted to meet his eyes and thank him for quieting the room, my attention was caught on Nico Deville.

Perhaps it was Desmond’s genes, but Nico was a near replica of his father. The only singular difference was his eyes. Nico had the auburn hair and stocky build of his father, but his eyes were hazel in color. The green and golden tones seemed to show more, brought out by his tanned skin.

I wasn’t the only one with my attention on Nico Deville. I could feel much more than I wanted to, and questioned how desperate some of these women truly were.

I knew the type of person Nico Deville was the moment his emotions registered in my mind. He was confident, satisfied, and utterly above it all. He sauntered into the room, basking in the attention while also managing to look cool and confident.

Nico walked to the center of the room, but turned and met my eyes. It was only a second or two glance, but the damage had been done. Desmond’s wrinkled body flashed behind my eyes, along with the two others at his side. I swallowed my guilt, even though it felt like a golf ball traveling down my throat.

Nico approached the raised platform the High Table sat at, and greeted each of the men. Marcus played the part as respectful businessman, Brayton was polite and a bit robotic, Jaspar was uninterested and unimpressed, and Sebastion was still furious enough to spit h**l-fire from his nose.

“It seems things became quite heated.” Nico Deville commented with a haughty smirk. In no way, shape, or form did I miss the snarl that sounded from Sebastian’s lips, nor the way his emotions turned dark and m*******s. I wasn’t sure whether or not Nico was speaking of Sebastion’s furious expression, or the crowd that had once been shouting obscenities.

“Yes, well it’s in our nature, is it not?” Marcus asked, his eyes narrowing just the smallest of amounts. Nico Deville was far too much like his father, without the brains to back himself up. Marcus stood, and the entirety of the crowd’s attention moved from Nico to Marcus. Nico seemed to realize that, and had a few mixed emotions bubbling to the surface. “Nico Deville, eldest son of Desmond, will now temporarily take seat at the High Table.”

Once all five men were seated, Nico began to speak.

“My father feels the same as many of you.” He began, addressing the crowd before turning his eyes on me. His eyes were pretty, earthy like bark and moss. It was his attitude that made my eyebrows inch closer and closer together. “This she-wolf, we know so little about her. Facts are easy to come by, but who is this girl? Can she handle a power that brings all men to their knees? My father has served as warrior and protector of his pack for a decade now, and will continue to protect us, even if those battles might take place in the future.”

With every emotion of his that passed through me, my stomach dropped a little further. Nico Deville was very much not on our side, and I highly doubted he would be changing his mind anytime soon.

If I hadn’t been stunned silent by Nico’s greedy and power-hungry emotions, I would’ve missed the man that swept through the crowd. He was dressed casually, in a black button down and slacks. His hair was dark and just a little curly on the sides where it protruded from a dark cap on his head. He was dressed near identical to the other security guards, but I was certain he wasn’t a guard himself.

There was nothing special about this man, and I had almost looked away–almost.

Just as I turned my eyes, I noticed him veering to the left, towards where the High Table members sat. The stranger, fast as lightning, approached Marcus Novak and dropped a notecard onto the table in front of him.

The split-second Marcus’s head was turned, was all it took for the man to slip back into the crowd. I tried to follow him with my eyes, but lost sight as a few seconds passed.

Naturally, I was a bit curious. I watched as Marcus finished saying something to Nico, and happened to glance down at his hands.

It could’ve just been a note, or some kind of reminder, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the man wasn’t a security guard. He had moved so fast; he did not want to be caught.

Marcus eyed the paper for just a second before slipping it into his hands. I had to give it to him, he was a natural. He smiled and nodded, replying to something Brayton had asked without skipping a beat. His eyes darted down for three seconds before flickering back to the crowded room.

I could feel the moment those mystery words registered, because that perfectly carved stone that encased Marcus Novak–it cracked. I could see it in the way his eyes flared, and his fingers twitched idly. From his voice and demeanor alone, you’d never be able to tell that this beast had nearly broken free from its cage. The note card was in his pocket before anyone could notice, and would soon be destroyed.

Marcus stood and addressed the crowd, quieting any murmurs or whispers. His movements were slow, but I knew he was only trying to seem relaxed. While he was an expert at keeping his emotions under wraps, that crack was giving me a glance inside of him. While I couldn’t feel any of his other emotions, I could tell that he was impatient. Marcus Novak was in a hurry to leave.

“The duties of an Alpha are never ending, and often not nearly as entertaining as one might hope.” Marcus sighed to the crowd, who gave little chitters of laughter, like he had cracked a joke of some sort. I had to stifle my own laugh when Kade rolled his eyes. “I have business calling me away at the moment. While it is urgent, it will not keep me from our final meeting tomorrow, where we hope to bring this issue to its end. Perhaps, Desmond Deville will return when I do. Until then, this meeting is adjourned.”

“What was on that notecard that made him scurry out of here so fast?” Kade whispered low in my ear as we followed his parents out of the council room.

The council room let out into a large foyer. A crystal chandelier half the size of a car, hung from the ceiling. There were four elevators on both the left and right side of the room. Many of the witnesses here were Alpha’s and Luna’s, which meant sharing an elevator with others you don’t know, not always the safest move. Many of the witnesses were heading down to the restaurant within the hotel, while some others were planning a trip to the bar down the street.

“Why am I not surprised you saw that too.” I chuckled, placing my hands against the smooth material of his button down. Like all moments have since Alec was taken, we both quickly turned serious. “I have no clue what it could’ve said. Whatever it was, it caused a crack in his self-control. He’s able to manage his emotions so well, I can’t even detect them. This crack, it let me see just a little.”

“If it made him crack, then it had to be important.” Kade grunted, “Information is never a bad thing, and it might be worth knowing what caused Marcus Novak to run so quickly.”

“I might be able to ask Jaspar, but there’s no telling if he knows.” I replied with a shrug, but then thought of Zayne. “Or we can ask–you know who, but I doubt he’d be willing to help us.”

Kade’s response was lost to the wind, because something else caught my attention. The golden-haired Alpha and Luna were emerging from the council room, their four guards trailing alongside them.

“I want to talk to those people.” I mumbled to Kade, pushing past him as I scampered after the Alpha and Luna.

Their emotions were so steady, like the sun that would inevitably break through the storm that darkened the world.

“Excuse me!” I shouted, maneuvering past an older couple as I jogged a few more feet forward. I kept enough distance not to be perceived as a threat, but I don’t believe the couple was actually expecting me to speak to them.

The woman turned around first; her eyes narrowed into slits until she realized who I was. Her glare turned into a look of surprise, then one of anticipation. It was strange to feel her go through these emotions. It felt like she already knew me, and knew where this conversation might lead.

“Come, Aurora. I will not speak in front of these people.” The golden-haired woman met my eyes, and spoke with a delicately accented voice. The tone of her words, they were warm, but held the potential to set the world on fire. She began walking forward with her mate again, but paused and turned back to Kade and I. “You may bring your mate. Now, come.”

“You sure about this, sweetheart?” Kade asked low enough for only I to hear.

We both watched as the couple continued walking, stopping to press the button on one of the elevators. I had only a few moments to decide before those doors opened, letting in the two people who actually seemed to see the truth.

“I’m not sure, but I know I need to talk to them.” I grinned a bit sheepishly and took off after the couple.

“You trust the High Table enough to step into their domain, but you cannot extend that courtesy to us?” The man remarked in a sour tone. His emotions pointed more towards offence than any malice, and his glare towards the council room lead me to believe the same.

“She does not trust the High Table, Isaiah.” The woman frowned at her mate and patted his hand with her own. “She is wise for trusting only those she brought at her side. Now, bottle your anger, and let us speak.”

Isaiah was silent as the eight of us stepped into the elevator. He swiped his key against the pad, which allowed us to travel to their respective floor. These elevators were larger than your normal ones, and fit us easily. Classical music played quietly through small speakers within the elevator, and the woman seemed to hum the tune under her breath.

Their room was a suite that mirrored mine and Kade’s. It made me feel a bit better to know that I wasn’t receiving any special treatment while here. My room was the same as everyone else’s, extravagant as all h**l. I was beginning to miss my room back at the twin’s house.

“It is safe to speak in here.” The woman told Kade and I as she locked the door behind us. She wandered into the kitchen and pulled out two wine glasses. Her seafoam eyes would occasionally dart to where Kade and I stood as she talked, “You both may call me Mera (Me-Rah). You are as safe here as in your own suite. We keep guards posted in our room, even if we are not here. We have everything checked for microphones and camera’s daily.”

“You really believe that’s necessary?” Kade asked her, to which Isaiah responded instantly.

“Don’t you?” Isaiah snorted. The sound was somewhat amusing with his delicate accent, but I couldn’t mistake the irritation bubbling away beneath his skin. “The High Table are children, children who fight over every shiny toy they come across. They have destroyed packs, families, and lives in pursuit of the newest thing. Then they shove platitudes of preserving our species in your gullet until you’re so stuffed with their sh–.”

“Do not work yourself up again, dearest.” Mera sighed, running her fingers through Isaiah’s close-cropped hair. Some of the tension faded from his shoulders, and I instinctively sought out that same comfort from Kade. “You become too stressed as of late.”

“When you were speaking about the High Table, were you speaking from personal experience?” I asked a bit boldly, but I had a feeling Isaiah and Mera might like that quality in a person.

Both stilled, their questioning eyes on me. They were weighing what they should tell me–what version of the truth I might be privy to.

Deciding to take another route, I hardened my voice and hoped the two of them could read the determination in my eye, the desperate need for change that pulsed in my veins.

“I’m here fighting for my right to live, proving that I deserve to live like everyone else.” I told them both, feeling my own anger swell in my chest. No one should have to prove their right to live, it was one thing we were all given freely. “If anyone understands hating the High Table, it’s me.”

“What many of us feel–it goes beyond hate. Once hate festers and grows, it becomes a disease that traps you.” Isaiah growled under his breath. I could feel the last of his resistance chip away as he saw the same light burning in my eyes that also b****d in his. “The High Table was once just. It was a time we truly flourished. We did not overtake human cities, but lived amongst them.”

“Your kind was not hunted during that time.” Mera said in the same strong voice as her mate, “There are still just as many of you now–but you know what happens to most of them.”

“Marcus.” I nodded, seeing the approval in her eyes. She was weighing how much I knew, while giving me some information of their own. It was a give and take, I realized. We were trusting one another, getting to know one another. Was this how alliances were made?

“Good, you are not ignorant like many of our kind.” Mera spat, looking truly angry for the first time. “He hides behind his smiles and pretty words, but there is no beauty inside, only rot.”

“My wife has more reason than most to despise Marcus Novak.” Isaiah frowned, taking Mera’s hand in his own and tugging her until she conceded and sat beside him on the couch.

“It was a long time ago; much has changed since then. Much has gotten worse since then.” Mera sighed, leveling her gaze on my own. “You want to fight against Marcus Novak? Fine, then you should know what you’re up against.”

“Are you sure about this, Mera?” Isaiah asked, his eyes flickering over to Kade and I. His voice went a little quieter as he talked, even though Kade and I could still hear every word he said. “You do not need to reopen these wounds for them. I will not see you in pain. I will tell them what they need to know while you are away from the room.”

“Dearest, you’ve always protected me.” Mera smiled fondly at her mate, placing her hands on either side of his face. Isaiah looked older now, no longer his early twenties as he stared at the woman who had become his entire world. “There are times where I must be strong. I have not in the past, but I will learn from these mistakes, Isaiah. I will heed my sister’s word.”

Isaiah smiled sadly at his mate and placed his lips against her forehead, “I protect you, because even now, I cannot stand to see you in pain. I will gladly shoulder it all if it means you remain free.”

“I will never be free, Isaiah. Not until they are all free.” Mera said softly, and Isaiah nodded, as though he had agreed to this very thing many times before.

“Tell them your story, Mera.” Isaiah’s smile was small, but it was one solely reserved for Mera, a smile created for her. “Let Sabine live and breathe through your words.”

“When I was fourteen years old, Marcus Novak became the third member of the High Table. His father won this battle by the skin of his teeth, which meant the land was surrendered to the Novak family. Marcus’s father ruled as the third High Table member for five years before he finally passed away, then Marcus took over. Two years later, none other than Marcus Novak was visiting my pack.” Mera laughed dryly, her narrowed eyes filling with tears she would not allow to fall. “Our pack was large, and sometimes gained the attention of the High Table, but never had they visited before. My father was beta of our pack, his childhood best-friend had grown up to become the Alpha. You see, it was all very picturesque. Until, the day Marcus showed up. We didn’t know it at the time, but there was something he had been looking for. He spent two years looking, searching endlessly while all of the other High Table members remained clueless. He was searching for white wolves.”

“Marcus has been head of the High Table for eight years. Those first two, he had occupied the third seat.” Isaiah chimed in, crossing one leg over his lap as he reclined on the couch.

“So, he jumped from third place, to the head.” I noted, unable to ignore the fishy feeling I got. “How’d he manages to jump spots? Shouldn’t that be hard to accomplish?”

“Oh, it’s very hard. You have to make your own pack and land larger, which means picking off smaller packs. You have to be careful when doing that. A lot of those smaller packs have alliances with High Table members, and you don’t want to s***w over a fellow member.” Isaiah shook his head.

“Marcus Novak jumped to the head shortly after leaving my pack with what he had been searching for.” Mera said darkly, her seafoam eyes turning navy in color. “My little sister, Sabine. She had always been special, prone to fits at night. She’d thrash and scream, but always quiet and fall back asleep. One night, she didn’t. She started speaking, saying these strange things that made no sense. We hadn’t realized she was an oracle, and that this was her white wolf ability manifesting itself. After a few years, she actually got the hang of it. The last time I saw my sister was when she was thirteen, and Marcus Novak was escorting her away.”

“Your sister was an oracle?” I asked, marveling for a moment. The ability seemed like a taxing one, but it sounded nice to be called an “oracle” and not a “soul-eater”. Nothing says run in the other direction like being called a soul-eater. “She could see the future? How did that work?”

“It was hard on her as a child, having that kind of responsibility. It can take some of the magic and fun away from a childhood. She handled it as well as a child could, some days were better than others.” Mera confessed with a look of longing on her face. Even after all this time, her grief was still so raw, so close to the surface. She carried her pain with her, and spent every waking moment remembering its name. “There was one night that I remembered most, the only night she had told me what she saw.”

“You believe this is relevant, Mera? That Sabine meant her?” Isaiah questioned, his eyes brightening just a bit.

“I do believe this is who Sabine spoke of, and I will honor her request to completion.” Mera nodded, her voice stern and true as she stared down her mate.

“You know I would follow you anywhere, Mera.” Isaiah nodded, letting her take the lead.

“The day before Marcus Novak came into town, she woke me in the middle of the night screaming. Tears were pouring down her cheeks, and her heart was racing fast enough to frighten me. She was sobbing, speaking of some b****y battle. I grabbed her shoulders, and I screamed her name. I screamed and screamed until my voice went hoarse. Her eyes snapped open, and she sat up from the bed in a start.” Mera shuddered, “She told me, ‘When you meet the girl with eyes of water and earth, help her. Give her what she needs, and the world will flourish.’”

“Eyes of water and earth.” I scoffed, turning my face towards a golden mirror that sat on the far wall.

I shook my head, unable to believe that some child years ago had seen anything to do with me. I really, really wanted to believe I wasn’t the girl she had been talking about, but even I couldn’t tell a lie that big.

I had known all along that war could come once the High Table knew about me. I accepted that I would fight with my mates and pack, and survive or d*e alongside of them. This bit of information was only confirming what we all knew, but it was all I could take for the moment.

“Having a great destiny is not something one wishes for. They are difficult, painful, and often messy. And rarely do they end the way we hope.” Isaiah told me, his voice firm and resolute. He was not the type of man to run from his problems, but the type to embrace the pain and charge forward. “There are always lives lost when change comes to the world. It is horrible and b****y, a waste of life, but it is a fact of the world. One that will never be altered. Those who bring change will always be resisted. The question is, is this cause worth it to you, Aurora?”

I didn’t need time to think to come up with an answer. My answer had been there all along, something I knew but was unwilling to admit to myself.

“This–this cause is more important than what I want, than what we all want. It’s worth giving our lives for. We’ll save generations of children from being hunted, enslaved, and used for their abilities. White wolves will fill the world again, and we will allow them to live the way they see fit.” I told both Isaiah and Mera, mustering up much more confidence than I actually had. “Those willing to change and adapt can keep their place on the High Table, but those who want to plunge us even further into darkness–they won’t survive in this new world, none of them will.”

“We have long been on the side of white wolves, even when we have to stomach the insanity of the High Table.” Isaiah growled, “Our pack will fight with yours, Luna Aurora.”

“We know you do not wish for war, but we are less hopeful.” Mera smiled softly, “Years spent under the High Table’s thumb, watching Marcus become more and more powerful. He will never bow down, not unless forced.”

Kade and I called down our own guards to escort us back to our suite. I was feeling a bit lighter, filled with just a little more hope. We had stayed for another half hour, talking with Isaiah and Mera. I told them of how I met the twins, and Mera explained how she had run into Isaiah when he was a young Alpha. We were still strangers by all accounts, but Mera was the kind of person you wanted to trust. She was wholeheartedly honest, b****l, and completely savage when it came to those she cared about. Isaiah was a bit rough around the edges, but every ounce of pain his mate experienced at the High Table’s hands had weighed on him as well.

“I doubt I’ll be able to sleep after that, especially with everything that’s going on tonight.” I sighed, leaning back against Kade’s chest. “Do you think Zayne will really let Alec free if his wolves get out safety?”

“He better, or he’ll find himself gutted before the day is up.” Kade snarled softly, “We’ve never been separated for this long before. It’s not how it is with normal siblings. We’ve never fought before, and neither of us feel any need to spend time apart. We’ve always been one person.”

“It feels the same for me too, you know.” I murmured, curled up against Kade’s side. My throat ached, and my eyes b****d with unshed tears, but I was tired of crying. I craved and missed Alec so badly my body ached, but I refused to sit here crying about it. That’s not what a werewolf would do, and it’s certainly not what a Luna would do. “I feel like a part of myself is missing. I can feel it out there, but I just can’t reach it.”

A knock on the door draws us from the bedroom and into the living area. Kade opened the front door while I perched on the arm of the couch with a cup of coffee in hand.

The two of us were staying up tonight. I had been plying myself with caffeine since dinner, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep regardless. Tonight, we would find out if our plan to transport Zayne’s white wolf friends worked or not. The thought that I might have Alec back in just a few days–it was too much to handle. I was wired with or without the coffee.

Garrett stepped into the room, followed by Julian. Garrett seemed to blend in with these people. He was always impeccably dressed, and carried that same snooty air about him. While I didn’t completely despise Garrett anymore, we were a long way away from becoming friends.

“Mind if–“

“Let’s just get into this, will we?” Garrett sighed, pulling out a manilla folder full of documents. He pinched the bridge of his nose briefly before continuing, “These offer’s you’re getting from the High Table members, here are the official documents. They outline everything, including the fine print.”

“The question is, are you interested in any of them?” Julian asked, shooting Garrett a d***y look. Sometimes I forgot the two of them were in their late forties. They so often acted like warring siblings around one another.

“If Marcus Novak wasn’t the man I know him to be, his offer would’ve been golden.” Garrett scoffed, shaking his head.

“Brayton’s offer isn’t bad as well, but the fine print is loaded with additional stipulations.” Julian said, pulling out a small stack of papers from the manilla folder. He spread a few of them out in front of us, pointing at some highlighted bits on the page. “You would essentially allow him to preform experiments, to monitor you, and to test your abilities in any way he sees fit.”

“He’d have a lot of power over me.” I noticed instantly, “All of that could easily be used against me.”

“Agreed.” Garrett nodded, meeting my eyes. I cringed away from the protectiveness that seemed to hide within him, and was content on pretending I hadn’t felt it at all. “It’s best not to consider his offer at all.”

“That leaves Jaspar Fox.” Julian said, again pulling out a few sheets of paper. He snorted as he handed me the page, and I understood why when I looked at the contract Jaspar had written up.

Where the others had pages upon pages of stipulations and conditions, Jaspar’s contract was roughly a paragraph long.

“He just wants to be allies?” I scoffed, “That’s it?”

“Specifically, it says under no conditions or circumstances would Luna Aurora be obligated to defend Alpha Jaspar Fox or his pack, using her White Wolf abilities.” Julian repeated, smirking as he finished. “Straight forward man, not always a bad thing. Always better than tiptoeing around, using them fancy words.”

“They’re not considered fancy if you have an education.” Garrett rolled his eyes, a very unrefined action.

“What do you think of Jaspar’s offer?” Kade asked, pulling me closer across the couch we both sat on.

Even though I was Luna, it still made my stomach flutter when he asked what I thought we should do. I wasn’t used to having the power to make all of these decisions, but I was enjoying finally taking control of my life.

“I think–I think I want to know him more. Julian was right, he is straightforward, but that can’t be all there is to him.” I told Kade truthfully, “He seems like the type of Alpha we could actually have an alliance with, but we also hardly know the man. It isn’t very smart to agree to an alliance with someone we hardly know.”

“I was thinking the same thing.” Kade chuckled, “Unfortunately, they’ll be expecting an answer from you tomorrow. That gives us little to no time to figure out what kind of man Jaspar Fox is.”

“Also, there is no contract from Desmond Deville.” The use of Desmond’s name cut through my attention, tearing it away from Kade. It was Julian who had spoken, “It’s pretty odd he wouldn’t make an offer, considering the other members are. Usually, he jumps on whatever team Marcus vouges for.”

I had never been the best liar, so I could only hope I managed to clear the shock and guilt from my face. Kade’s hand at my back, and the fact that neither seemed to notice a thing, was what helped calm me down.

Julian and Garrett left nearly an hour later, after going over the plan for the white wolves a fifth time. Tori showed up shortly after, flustered and more than ready to stay up all night with us.

The three of us did what we could to distract ourselves, but movies and video games could only get you so far. Eventually, there was nothing left to do but think and wait.

“Are you going to spill already?” I asked once Kade retreated into the bathroom to take a shower. Truthfully, he had gone to give the two of us some alone time, but I appreciated the gesture nonetheless.

“Spill?” Tori asked cluelessly, even though she knew exactly what I was talking about.

“Yup, spill.” I chuckled, “You’ve been wanting to tell me something since you’ve gotten here. Now, what is it?”

“Oh–yeah, well.” Tori stammered, which was completely unlike her. She wasn’t someone who became flustered easily, which made me worried something bad had happened. “I was just trying to pick the best moment to say something.”

“Well, now you’ve got me worried.” My laugh fizzled out at the end, making Tori’s eyes widen.

“Oh, no! It’s nothing like that!” She laughed breathlessly, but I could hear how forced it sounded. I waited until her laughter trailed off, and she finally gave in. Within her emotions, there was a flicker of that soul-deep pain that constantly ate at her. “Oh, alright. Something kind of happened–with Zayne. I mean, with him and I.”

I paused for a few moments, confused. My mind had first jumped to the thought of them sleeping together, but wouldn’t she be happier? Unless it wasn’t very enjoyable, I supposed.

“Don’t even go there. I can practically see what you’re thinking, and no. We did not. Don’t even disrespect me by putting that into words.” She groaned, burying her face into the pillow that rested on my bed. I let her have a few moments. When she came up for air, she was only a little red in the face. “I can–feel the pull of the bond, and I know he can feel it too. He think’s treating me like s**t will make the bond face, but it’s only making him lose his patience. Yesterday, I went outside to video call my parents, and on the way inside, I ran into him. Literally, I ran into him. He flipped out when he noticed it was me, and you know I’m not taking any of that s**t, so I stood my ground. He pushed me against the wall again, and before I could kick his a*s, he looked down at my lips. I knew he wanted to k**s me–I knew because I could feel it too, and I just–I froze there, I couldn’t even move.”

It took me some time to figure out what I wanted to say. The last thing I wanted to do was tear down any hope she might have of a mate. No matter how I felt about Zayne, that wasn’t what Tori deserved.

“If he changed his mind, would the bond between you two be intact?” I asked, as there were still some holes in my knowledge. There wasn’t much I could say, and even less I could do. So instead of making false promises, I did all that I could to remind her I was here. “Is that something you would want? I know–the outcome for rejected wolves, and I wouldn’t ever want that happening to you. You know that no matter what, I support your choice, right?”

“I’m not sure what I want, Aurora. The bond makes me want him, but how can I ever love someone who never wanted me to begin with? I wasn’t good enough for him, so how can I ever be?” She asked, and I could feel my heart break along with hers. I had no clue how she managed to remain tearless. My eyes were already filling, which I fought with vicious blinks. A final testament to Tori’s strength; her voice never once cracked as she poured her heart out to me. “This is the last thing I wanted. When I pictured my mate, I saw my future. I saw my family, my children and my parents. What makes it even worse, Zayne looks exactly like how I always pictured my mate. Maybe someday he’ll regret what he had done, but I won’t beg him to want me. A short life where I’m free is better than a long one, trapped by a man I’m destined to love.”

I let Tori say everything she needed, even when her face turned red with anger, and she spewed all sorts of colorful words towards Zayne. Her temper would often override everything else, but she was one to never, ever back down.

The three of us stayed up until our eyes grew heavy and dry. The coffee I drank now tasted stale and bitter, even though the machine in our suite was easily a grand. No amount of caffeine in the world was keeping me awake, and when my eyes fluttered shut, I hadn’t the strength to question it.

A small, steady beeping sound dragged me kicking and screaming from my sleep. It wasn’t the sound of a heart monitor, but something–something more annoying. The beeps were fast, high pitched and blasting throughout the room.

It took a few cycles of that beeping sound to finally come-to.

“The phone!” I gasped; my voice painfully hoarse.

I flung myself from the bed at the same time Tori and Kade did. The three of us had fallen asleep across the king-sized bed, a mess of limbs and crumpled blankets.

The three of us snatched for the phone, until Kade managed to grab it first. He pressed the answer button swiftly, and I eyed the tuft of hair on his head that somehow managed to stick straight up. I promised myself I’d laugh at it later if we had good news.

Kade’s emotions were impassive as he responded to the man on the phone. I was practically bouncing up and down on my feet, waiting for the words that would get us Alec back.

I s****d in a sharp breath as grief rolled through Kade. I was s****d into my own mind, unable to feel the weight of my body. I was sure I could feel myself falling, but didn’t fully snap back into reality until Kade’s arms wrapped around my waist. He kept me from falling to the ground, but could do nothing to stop the tears that left tracks down my cheeks.

“They’re in Garrett’s territory, sweetheart. In just a few hours they’ll be in our town. The men did it, the white wolves are safe.” Kade whispered against the top of my head, holding me close as I cried out my relief.

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