We went over the plan a couple more times in the car. The silent whoosh from the highway lulled me, almost making me tired. While my eyes grew heavy, my nerves were shot.
There was too much riding on our success tonight, especially on such short notice. Alpha Asher sat behind the wheel of the dark SUV we were driving.
I sat in the far back wedged between Breyona and Mason. Carter and Wade sat in the middle seats, separated by a thick console.
“We’re all going in separately. Lola stick by my side, Breyona and Mason stay together, Carter and Wade watch each other’s backs.” Alpha Asher grunted from the front seat.
“Won’t they know who you are?” Breyona frowned, giving Alpha Asher a wary glance.
I locked eyes with Alpha Asher through the rearview mirror, a strange sense of determination filling his honey eyes. I knew Alpha Asher was here for my benefit.
Typically, he would send a group of his men and stay behind. Alpha Asher was taking a risk leaving his pack, a risk that hadn’t gone unnoticed.
Beta Devin and Alpha Zeke stayed behind to monitor the pack, to ensure no one noticed Alpha Asher’s absence. I’m sure Beta Devin and Alpha Zeke also stayed behind to keep a close eye on Alpha Bran, who had spent the past day pouting over his loss.
“I’ll cover my scent. Most of them haven’t seen my face. That’ll have to be enough.” Alpha Asher frowned; his light eyes locked on my own.
“Lola and I will head to the back where the fight take’s place. Breyona and Mason stay in the club, keep a close eye on everything. Carter and Wade, circle the building then head back to the front. Make sure the car’s ready.”
“What city did you say we were going to?” Mason frowned, shifting uncomfortably in the backseat.
“I didn’t say.” Alpha Asher sighed, running a hand through his dark tousled hair. “We’re going to Atlanta.”
Mason’s body went rigid, growing uncomfortably still in the seat beside me. His discomfort was written on his face, his eyes filling with a foreign emotion.
“Are you alright?” I murmured lowly, a gentle hand tugging on Mason’s sleeve.
“Yeah.” Mason cleared his throat, his face looking unseasonably pale. “I used to live in Atlanta, before we moved back.”
I wanted to press Mason, to ask what happened to him in Atlanta but halted. His full lips were twisted into a frown, an expression Mason rarely wore. Breyona and Mason had the same strange light flickering in their eyes, a sort of wary hopefulness they couldn’t shed.
Not wanting to ask in a car full of people, I made the silent decision to ask them later, if this entire night went according to plan.
“Are you up for this?” I grimaced, my heart racing in my chest.
As selfish as it sounded, I needed to know before we walked into Vampire territory. Any hesitation, any reluctance could cost me Sean. At this point, it wasn’t about me and how I felt.
This wasn’t about my conflicting heritage or my strange connection to Tristan. This was about getting Sean home safely, making sure I didn’t lose another family member.
“I’ll be alright, I promise.” Mason grinned, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “I have a lot of memories of Atlanta, not all good experiences.”
“You can always talk to me y’know.” I frowned, a pang of guilt rolling about in my stomach.
I had been so concerned with my own life, that I hadn’t asked about my two closest friends. I hadn’t a clue how Breyona and her mate were fairing, especially after hearing how her mate wasn’t accepting of who we were.
“I had a mate once.” Mason frowned, his eyes burning into the palms of his hands. His hazel eyes were sad as they met my own, a sense of sorrow I had never experience lingered in their depths. “I met her in Atlanta.”
“What happened?” I breathed, unable to control myself. I knew Mason was over nineteen, but he had never mentioned a mate before. I figured he would tell me when he felt the need, not wanting to push before I truly got to know the guy.
“She tricked me, led me to a park in the middle of the night. The guys with her left me for dead.” Mason murmured, his eyes that were usually filled with happiness and excitement looked dull and faded.
Everyone in the SUV was silent, clearly trying not to listen in on what Mason was telling me. Mason didn’t seem to care, if he even noticed.
“How–” I opened my mouth to speak, to ask how mere human men could have nearly killed a werewolf. As if he anticipated my question, Mason continued his story.
“I thought she might’ve had a boyfriend, and the guy got pissed at me, but it was so much worse.” Mason frowned, shaking his head slowly. “I wasn’t sure until I saw the mark on your shoulder—the one the Vampire left on you.”
My own lips turned down in a frown, wondering what my mark had to do with Mason’s mate. Something inside my heart tugged at the mention of Tristan, but I shoved the irritating emotion to the side.
“She was mated to a Vampire.” Mason’s voice held strong, but was intertwined with such sadness. “They both had identical marks on their shoulder, just like yours.”
“I’m–” I stopped, because truly what could I say? Losing your mate was more than just a simple breakup. The loss of your mate signified the loss of part of your soul.
Happiness could still be found, but the person would live a half-life, one where they constantly wondered ‘what if’.
It posed a question in my mind; one I had been trying to avoid. If Tristan were my mate, what would I do? Would I have the strength to resist the mate bond? If I were able to reject him, what would be my next move? I couldn’t go back to Alpha Asher and pretend nothing had changed.
If Tristan was truly my mate, that meant Alpha Asher had a mate out in the world. I would never be able to forgive myself if I took Alpha Asher away from his destined mate.
‘Time will tell.’ Maya murmured, ‘No use in tormenting yourself over it, there’s nothing you can do until your birthday.’
‘Thanks for the words of wisdom.’ I muttered, letting out a nervous sigh.
“It’s alright.” Mason sighed, the fog clearing from his eyes. “It’s hard, but some days aren’t so bad. Sometimes something good can come from a bad situation.”
Mason shot me one of his lopsided smiles, a strange emotion surging through my chest. His hazel eyes flickered with some hidden emotion, one that prompted Mason to drape his arm over the back of the seat.
“What was she like?” I couldn’t help but ask, my own curiosity winning over.
“Absolutely stunning.” Mason chuckled, “Everything I could’ve ever wanted, and yet she was nothing like I’d expected.”
From the corner of my eye, I could see Breyona listening intently to our conversation. A glimmer of pain flashed in her gaze, subdued before I could analyze any further. While my heart went out to Mason, I hoped Breyona’s ending would be much different.
As our conversation faded, the dull hum of the highway grew louder. The monotonous sound tugged on my eyelids, my body beckoning me into the darkness.
There was little anticipation coming from the six of us. The drive was silent, a heavy sense of foreboding and acceptance emanating from each of us.
I wondered if everyone else had the same knot in their stomachs, their nerves feeling bristled and frayed. The silence in the SUV gave me plenty of time to think about everything that could go wrong. We were essentially walking into a trap; one we might not emerge from.
‘Looking pretty sleepy there, Lola.’ Alpha Asher’s voice car3ssed my skin, raising little goosebumps along my arms.
I lifted my head from the seat, my eyes darting to Alpha Asher warily. His eyes were on the road, his large hands grasping the steering wheel tightly. His full lips were slightly parted, tempting me from where I sat.
‘Maybe you should take a nap.’ Alpha Asher chuckled through the mind-link, making me jump at the sudden noise.
‘I’m not sure I’m able to.’ I sighed, the true extent of my nerves shining through in my voice. ‘I’m scared. What if we lose Sean? How will I be able to face my Dad? He already lost Mom; I can’t let him lose Sean.’
‘I’d be worried if you weren’t scared.’ Alpha Asher’s voice was a calm murmur, a safe beacon in the middle of a violent ocean. I swam towards his voice and the security it provided. ‘You can’t think that way. Don’t think about what could go wrong, just focus on what we came here to do.’
‘Alpha Asher, calm in the face of danger.’ I chuckled through the mind-link, butterflies swarming my stomach as Alpha Asher shot me a look through the rearview mirror. His dark eyebrow was cocked, the hint of a smirk playing at his lips.
Alpha Asher continued talking to me through the mind-link, chasing away all lingering thoughts of our reckless plan tonight.