A Gift from the Goddess Bonus Chapter -The Cycle of Change

This chapter follows a young Elder Luke (Luke Hastings) 30/40 years prior to the main story. It was a very different time when things were not so accepting. This POV shows the beginning of how Elder Luke became the man he is today and why he holds the strong values he does – known by Aria as one of the deadliest men in the pack.

Fifty-two. There were fifty-two books I needed to reshelve today. Several more than the day before, even more than the day before that. It meant I would need to work late today in order to finish this in time. At least I had the entire day to get through it.

With a sigh of resignation, I grabbed my trolley and began the journey to the back of the library where I would start the process, giving small smiles to those I made eye contact with along the way. This was the life of a librarian. Day in… day out…

Not to say I didn‘t enjoy my work. On the contrary, I immensely loved what I did for a living. But I couldn‘t deny that it wasn‘t as interesting as say the ranked members of our pack. No, they led an eventful life of luxury and power. The kind of lives only unranked members such as myself could dream of.

“Excuse me,” a deep voice then said behind me, making me turn around.

I was surprised to hear someone had followed me all the way to the very back, however, I quickly realised why.

“..What can I do for you, sir?” I asked politely, taking several steps towards the man.

“I was hoping you could help me for a moment. I‘m trying to find something…”

He had the strong build of a warrior, with broad shoulders and a small air of authority about him to match that position.

I raised an eyebrow questioningly as I came to stand directly in front of him. “…Looking for a particular book, perhaps?”

“No, not quite…,” he replied, looking down at me.

“Then how can I be of service today, sir? What exactly were you looking for?”

His hands then came up and grabbed either side of my face, sparks immediately erupting throughout my body from where our skin made contact.

“…My mate,” he whispered, right before his mouth came down to meet mine.

Immediately, I was enveloped by him as we drew closer together, my senses overridden by his touch… his scent… his taste. It was only once I found myself pressed up against one of the shelves that I realised we were at my place of work… not our house. they felt Lange

A deep chuckle escaped me as I pulled away, smiling up at the man. At my mate.

“What are you doing here, Xavier?” I asked quietly. I was conscious of not being too loud so we weren’t caught. “I didn‘t think I would see you until tonight.”

“I need a reason to visit you now?” he questioned back, his lip pulling into a crooked smile.

I laughed once more before untangling myself from him, walking back towards my trolley.

“It’s not as though I don’t appreciate your presence, it‘s just that I know you are meant to be at work right now. And it’s very unlike you to skip out on such a thing.”

He then sighed, his smile turning into more of a guilty one. “I came to tell you that I‘ll be heading out over the border today. Official business in one of the neighbouring packs. My unit has been asked to supervise the proceedings.”

“… Then do they not expect you to be packing right now?” I asked, a small frown forming between my brows. “I would think that you‘d… not want to risk coming to see me.”

His face then contorted from the unpleasant topic. “Luke… You know it‘s not like that. I just… I’m so close to this promotion, I can feel it. Maybe today will be the day they recognise that.”

But I remained silent, my jaw clenching to stop myself from speaking my mind.

“Hey…,” Xavier then said softly, coming up to place his hands on either side of my waist tenderly. “Soon, I promise. Maybe in a few years, and after I get this promotion, we can make our relationship public. We can even finally buy a house in town… a nicer one at that too.”

His touch was making me want to melt into his arms but I managed to hold myself back.

“You say this every time, Xavier. We‘ve been together for almost ten years now and it‘s always the same promise.”

“Well… I mean, things might be different soon,” he said, finding an excuse. “Alpha Dominic is getting older and I‘ve yet to hear the Alpha heir Tytus express any sort of… ‘grievance‘ with our kind of relationship.”

I immediately tsked and pushed my way out of his arms. “That child? He barely knows what he‘s doing. The only thing he knows is fighting.”

“That‘s not true!” Xavier snapped back, a tone of irritation now in his voice. “Don‘t say things like that about our future Alpha.”

Our eyes then locked for a few moments, his blue ones filled with frustration at my remark, and I sighed in response, rubbing my face with my hand.

“Apologies…,” I said, doing my best to sound as genuine as possible.

I should have expected him to have that reaction. He was a good warrior after all, and a patriotic one at that. Loyal to almost a fault, believing so wholeheartedly in the cause of

making our pack great. It’s what made him the perfect soldier.

…But it was also what I loved about him too. His ability to have hope and see the good in people was one of the things that made me fall for him. Strong… attractive… and genuinely an amazing person. He complimented my more cynical nature perfectly.

Xavier then sighed, his shoulders relaxing. “It‘s fine. Just… you know how important my work is to me, Luke. I’m sorry that I can’t… That we can’t… Well, some people just aren’t so accepting, you know?”

I nodded my head, unable to meet his eyes, but knew well what he was talking about.

Because whilst things definitely seemed to be getting better in terms of change, there was still a while to go before we reached the point we needed to.

Movements were already starting across the country, bringing attention to the issue, and people were beginning to realise the truth of the matter.

Because if the so-called Goddess could gift us with another being then, regardless of who they were, didn’t that mean there was a divine purpose behind the choice?

“The Goddess has a plan for us. I can feel it,” he continued, almost as if he’d read my thoughts. “Don’t lose faith in our future just yet.”

He then walked up and kissed my cheek, the sparks emitting through me once more. However, this time, I allowed myself to give in to the sensation, bringing my hand up to hold his head against mine, craving his presence for just a little longer.

We said our goodbyes shortly after that. I didn‘t know how long it would be until I saw him again, his out of town pack business sometimes taking an uncertain amount of time. There was one thing I did know for sure though, and that was that it would certainly be a lot quieter around the house for a little while.

I went about my work diligently for the remainder of the day and, soon enough, closing time was just around the corner. I was relieved; thoughts of my cosy couch patiently waiting for me at home filling my head. Well, at least there was something waiting for me at home.

But it was as I was doing the final rounds for closing that I stumbled upon something. Two girls in the corner huddled closely together. I‘d seen them here regularly so I knew they enjoyed this place just as much as I did, always treating the books with the respect they deserved. It was something that made me like them more than some of the more rowdy members we occasionally had.

“Apologies, ladies,” I said, politely approaching them. “We‘re closing up now but we‘ll be open again tomorrow morni…—.”

However, it was then that I noticed their demeanour properly, cutting my sentence short. Because they weren‘t huddled together, so much as one was comforting the other.

“Is everything okay?” I asked, worried if someone had accidentally gotten hurt on the premises.

The girl who had her arm around the other one looked up at me, her expression wrought with concern.

“You haven’t heard?” she asked, her voice thick with emotion. “Oh, it’s so… it’s so horrible. I don’t know how they could have let it happen.”

They held my curiosity now and my mind began thinking of everything they could possibly be referring to

“What do you mean? Did something happen with the pack?” I pressed. Her friend then choked on another sob and the girl speaking patted her back, soothing her. “It was during a meeting today in a neighbouring pack,” she started, her eyes beginning to brim with tears of her own.

Immediately, my body froze, my blood turning cold.

“… There’s been an attack and some of our warriors died. Cindy‘s mate being one of them. Someone from their unit came and found us not long ago to inform her.

Apparently, there was a disagreement and a fight broke out. Several of the warriors fought to ensure the ranked members could escape. They were completely outnumbered”

Suddenly it was like the wind had been knocked out of me, the world starting to spin.

“…What… what um… ah, sorry…,” I said, flustered. I was struggling to keep composure even though the anxiety was starting to constrict around my chest, almost as if it were suffocating me.

I shook my head and tried again. “…Do we… Do you know who was hurt?”

The girl then sniffled, rubbing her eye as a tear escaped her. “Not really but they‘re bringing the bodies back now. They should be at the hospital soon.”

I didn‘t hear anything else after that.

Instantly, my body moved on its own as I sprinted out of the library. I didn‘t care that I didn‘t close up, I didn‘t care that there were still people inside, all that mattered was getting to the hospital. Seeing him. Making sure he was okay.

…But he would be fine, right? He was strong. There was no way…

I couldn‘t even think about that. My wolf was already frantic enough, making it impossibly difficult to think clearly.

– Before too long, I finally arrived at the hospital, and I bee-lined for the administration desk

without even stopping to breathe.

“Are they here? The warriors that were hurt?” I panted, trying to get the words out through m y heavy breathing. “The ones… that were killed?”

The girl behind the desk looked up at me alarmned for a moment, my appearance overly dishevelled from having ran the few blocks here.

“Is there someone you were looking for in particular?” she asked.

“Xavier Burrows, ” I quickly said. “I need to know if he was hurt. If he was….”

I couldn’t finish my sentence.

The girl then looked me up and down, a frown forming on her face. “…And what was your relationship to them? Are you family?”

It took everything inside me not to growl out at her in frustration, wishing she would just answer the question instead of delaying further.

“What does that matter? Just tell me if —.”

“You’re Luke, correct?” a voice then said next to me.

I looked up to see who had spoken and found the leader of Xavier‘s unit, Gavin, standing there, his face appearing as though he‘d just been through hell.

“I think I’ve seen you around a few times, right?” he continued.

“Yes, I… I know Xavier from your unit, sir,” I said, bowing my head slightly. “I heard the news and came to find out if he was okay.”

The girl at the desk then chimed in, much to my further irritation. “Apologies, sir, but right now only family–.”

“That‘s alright, Emily,” Gavin said, raising a hand up to pause her. “It‘s been both a traumatic and horrific day for everyone in our pack… Especially for those of us who have lost a friend.”

As he said those last words, his eyes met mine with a pointed sadness within them.

…And, instantly, it was as if someone had drowned me.

I couldn‘t breathe properly. Couldn‘t see properly.

Everything felt… black.

And it was as though a part of me was being ripped slowly to shreds inside, waves of pain beginning to pulse through me.

“I need to… I need to see him,” I choked out. “I need to say goodbye.”

But Gavin then frowned, his eyes narrowing ever so slightly. “That‘s not really necessary. The bodies of the deceased will be prepared and a funeral held accordingly so you can pay your respects then. Right now only family are being allowed in.”

“He doesn’t have any family!” I yelled back angrily, gritting my teeth. “Bring me to him now.”

I was his family. His only family. The only one he had left. The only one I had left. We‘d found each other in the most unexpected of ways, neither of us ever believing we would be truly happy. But we were. We were happy. In the end, we made our own happiness. Our own little pack of two

“…And what was your relationship to Xavier, again?” Gavin then asked, his tone suddenly sceptical,

And as I took in his demeanour, I understood the full gravity of the situation I was now in.

Because if I were to tell him the truth, then I would be revealing a secret that Xavier and I had both guarded our entire lives. A truth that many would still disagree with today, including our current Alpha, Dominic.

However, in this instance… it wasn’t my secret to tell. It was Xaviers. It was his choice to reveal that sort of information, his reputation that was on the line… and he‘d chosen not to do so. He’d chosen his job and the pack above all else. It wasn’t my place to assume what he would want now that he was gone.

The only thing it would possibly accomplish now, in speaking the words aloud, would be to tarnish what he had worked so hard for. A selfish decision on my account for just the smallest chances they would even allow me in to see his body. After all, they had no way to even confirm my claim was true.

And so, out of sheer frustration, I then gritted my teeth and threw my hand out angrily, knocking over several items from the administration‘s desk. I‘d never felt so much rage inside before, so much hatred and disgust.

They were pathetic. All of them. Cowards the lot of them, including the Alpha.

Without even answering the question, I then stormed out of the hospital, my grief and pain still tearing me apart inside, my wolf howling.

And it quickly dawned on me that I couldn‘t sit back and ignore the world anymore.

Just how many people were out there suffering under the same injustice?

There was a fight to be had that I’d purposely remained deaf to, becoming too consumed within my own world with Xavier to risk what we had built.

But he was gone now. And yet, somehow, the world kept going.

As if it didn’t even notice that he wasn‘t here anymore.

As if no one really cared.

But I did.

…In the months that followed after his passing, I discovered a lot of different things.

Like, despite my unranked status, there was a lot a person could learn in a place like a library. Not just the wealth of knowledge acquired from the books either… but from the whispers between the shelves too. The gossip no one ever expects anyone to overhear.

But I heard it. I heard it all.

And not just that, but I learned a lot about myself also.

Things I wouldn‘t have ever thought possible, thought I was capable of… and, some, even unthinkable.

However, it was interesting how it all interlocked, how it all could come together for a bigger purpose.

And whilst I still couldn‘t find it within me to believe in a fictional woman who birthed our kind, I knew Xavier was one to have had that sort of faith. Believe in that sort of thing. And from that faith he had held, he had thought there was some sort of divine plan for us; for both of us.

…So just what exactly could one lowly librarian accomplish all by themself?

What could they do against the prejudice that festered around them?

Well, I didn‘t have an answer for that yet.

But maybe I would think more on it after I‘d had Alpha Dominic ‘removed‘.

…And I proceeded to do just that.

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