“Woah, little wolf,” Cai said, looking stressed that he’d accidentally upset me further. We had walked into a communal gathering area outside of the hall by this point and I was grateful that no one was around to see me in this state.
He strode up to one of the couches and gently put me down, crouching in front of me so we were eye level. “Do you want me to tell me what that was all about?” Cai asked. When I only continued to cry, he gently touched my shoulder, his tone then becoming darker, more serious. “…Has he hurt you?” It was a question that had a ridiculous answer. Had he hurt me? Yes… and no. Not yet… but at the same time, he had already hurt me far more than a flesh wound could, ruining me to a state that I may never recover from.
I shook my head at him. It wasn’t to say ‘no’ to his question, but rather to show I couldn’t give him the answer he wanted to know.
I wiped the tears from my eyes and tried to calm myself. “I’m too weak, Cai. You had said so yourself as well. I’m always going to be begging for just the right to live.”
Seeing Aleric again and having the same feeling of being powerless made me realise that, if he ever did decide to raise a hand against me again, I would still never be strong enough to stop him. Being book smart in my past hadn’t been enough when he had held my life in his hands every day. “I think you misunderstood,” Cai said.
“My words were that you had plenty of time to become stronger. I saw how you handled yourself with those wolves. You have more potential than many to become incredibly strong… if that’s what you truly wanted. I’m sure if it was almost any other kid in that battle, we would have both died.”
I looked up into his eyes and saw he was being serious. “But I saw you in that meeting hall with your Alpha just now,” he continued. “You may not be physically strong, but your intellect is like none I have ever seen before.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially at your age.” “Brains aren’t going to stop me from getting murdered,” I mumbled quietly to myself. He moved back a little, shocked at hearing what I’d said.
“Is this about the marking?”
Yes… and no. So many of the questions he was asking me had too many complex answers.
“Somewhat…,” I said, looking down at my lap where I had balled up my fists. “You’re a Beta’s daughter, right? Can’t you just… ask your dad to train you?” It seemed like sound logic on the surface. The reality was that I was sure I’d be letting down my parents if I told them I wanted to pursue training instead of Luna duties.
Already I was unsure about what storm awaited me at home after having announced to the entire council I did not wish to be their Luna. Without any notice or inclination, they were most likely going to be incredibly shocked by my public announcement.
Father had said in my past life that nothing I could have done would have disappointed him. But that was the old Aria.
The perfect daughter Aria who had worked diligently every day to become the very best she could be for the pack. He would think I was too young to make a final decision, just as the Alpha had.
“There’s no way they’d approve of me wasting time training when I could be inside studying…, ” I said with dismay.
Currently, my schedule was made up of school during the day and Luna classes on weekends. Any spare time after school was for self-study and homework. There would be no time for me to dedicate to training without stopping one of those. I didn’t see any way they’d let me drop something they were confident I would probably change my mind on one day.
They most likely thought I was going through a phase and would fall head-over-heels for Aleric once I came of age and shifted.
“But haven’t you already announced that you don’t plan on becoming Luna?” I shook my head. “It’s not that simple. They will still prioritise something that they think I may change my mind about one day, over something they don’t believe is necessary for me to learn.”
“…And will you?” he asked. “Will I what?”
“Change your mind about being Aleric’s mate? About being Luna?” I smiled bitterly. “Does it look like I’m going to fall in love with him any time soon?” “Can’t say I’ve ever seen someone look so scared of their mate before they’ve even been confirmed as mates before.”
He chuckled darkly. “But are you going to tell me why you reacted like that? I know you said you felt weak, but it honestly doesn’t explain what I saw back there.” I couldn’t tell him, I couldn’t tell anyone.
It was better this way. “It’s too difficult to explain… I-I just….” I was trying to find the right words so I wouldn’t sound too strange but I really wasn’t sure what I could possibly tell him.”…He can be very intimidating…” It wasn’t a lie but I hoped it would be enough for Cai to stop asking about it.
“Well, I hope you’ll tell me the real reason one day,” he said, and put his hand on my head, petting it gently. I couldn’t help but pout a little at the treatment. Always treating me like a child.
“But, if I were you,” he said, standing back up and stretching, “I’d be finding a way to train regardless of what others expect of you. You’re a Saintess now, do whatever you want.” I wish it really were that simple. …But it did make me pause in thought.
After that, Cai agreed to let me walk myself back to the hospital instead of carrying me, but stayed close by my side just in case I felt like having another mental breakdown. I tried to explain that I was feeling better but he insisted.
It wasn’t until we finally arrived that I saw a small figure was pacing nervously in the foyer.
“Myra?” I asked, confused. The girl turned around and a look of relief spread across her face. “Aria!” she yelled, running towards me. She threw her arms around me as if we were best friends and I thought I could feel her crying a little against my shoulder.
She stepped back but held onto my hands, looking at me with eyes so red and puffy. “I came to check up on you and was told you were summoned by the Alpha,” she said. “I was so worried! You were so sick and then suddenly you were missing from your bed.”
“Oh… um… sorry,” I said, awkwardly.
“I’ve been coming by every day and was waiting for you to wake up so I could say thank you. I heard what you did and I owe you my life.”
She then looked to my side and realised Cai was present with me also. Her cheeks burned bright red. “Oh… I owe you my life too, Alpha heir,” she said and bowed her head a little.
She didn’t have a legitimate reason for needing to bow to him but I could take a guess over why she was acting that way. Judging from her blush and the lack of eye contact with him, it was easy to see that she, too, had been charmed over by Cai’s presence.
I couldn’t help but smile a little at seeing the girl having a small crush. She was such a nervous and quiet girl that I found it funny she was attracted to someone as confident and extroverted as Cai.
Cai waved off her thanks. “Not necessary. I was just trying to help wherever possible whilst making sure this one didn’t get herself killed.” He placed his hand on my head again.
“O-of course,” she stuttered, her eyes full of admiration.
I wondered if in her mind Cai was some overly cool older guy, like a male lead in a novel. If she realised that he was actually just a cheeky playboy type, would she lose interest?
I wouldn’t ruin the illusion for her. Goddess knew how much I wished I could feel that kind of pure and innocent kind of love. It hadn’t worked out for me in the past, and it wouldn’t in the future either, knowing my mate would always be Aleric, but at least it was worth keeping an open mind to how love could exist for some.
Even possibly between a playboy and a dorky schoolgirl… or, at the very least, Myra could hope it would. “With that said,” Cai said, gently pushing me forward. “Time for Aria to get a check up by the doctor.” “Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry!” Myra gushed. “I’m keeping you here when you should be in
bed. Please get better soon!”
I smiled at her and began walking towards the admin desk where the nurse was.
“Oh! I almost forgot!” Myra yelled out after me. She then ran up to us, digging around in her bag as she did so. “I made you something.” “Made me something?” I asked, surprised. “I wanted to say thank you and this was all I could think of at short notice.
I-It’s not nearly enough considering what you did for me! But I hope you like it….” She pulled out a small pendant with a sparkly white stone attached. “It’s a moonstone. It supposedly has a range of uses like healing, inner strength and aiding you through new beginnings. Some other weird ones too.
I don’t know whether it works or not but I thought it would suit your hair. If it helps heal you then even better!” I looked at the shimmering gem and could appreciate it was indeed very pretty.
Not wanting to disappoint Myra, I placed the necklace around my neck and tied it at the back. “How does it look, Cai?” I asked, pushing him to praise Myra’s hard work “Ah, I think it looks lovely,” he replied politely. I sneaked a peek and saw Myra blushing brighter.
It was so easy to tease her. We soon said our goodbyes to her, and Cai followed not long after my mother arrived. She was worried after hearing the details from Cai about what happened.
And though I had tried to play the whole thing off as no big deal, she was frantic once she found out. She fussed over me and asked a lot of questions which I obediently answered, but inside my head I was elsewhere.
Because all I could think about was my new mission. The mission where I’d learn how to fight without my parent’s knowledge.