Eating dinner with my family brought back some normalcy into my life, but I couldn’t ignore the empty chair where my Mom used to sit.
I wondered if she was looking down on me, watching as I discovered who–what I was. Would she be proud to see me resisting Tristan? Or disappointed that I wanted to reject half of myself?
After dinner Sean and Dad retreated to the couch, watching sports as they once had before this mess started. Dad couldn’t see it–but I could.
I could see how much Sean had changed. Even with a smile on his face, the light had left his eyes. While I could never understand the feeling of losing your mate, I hoped he found happiness in his life.
After helping Grandma clean up the kitchen, the motioned for me to follow her outside. Standing on the back patio, I looked over to where my bedroom window sat.
I could still see Kanyon’s lifeless eyes staring into my window, his scarlet blood staining the grass. I wondered if I were to look close enough, would there still be little droplets of blood on the grass?
“I’m not using the shadows again.” I assured Grandma, grimacing as I stared out into the forest.
There used to be something reassuring about the dense forest that surrounded our little town, but now it filled me with unease. There could be anything–anyone out there, watching and waiting.
“I don’t think you should ignore that side of yourself, Lola.” Grandma frowned, as though the words pained her. “The shadows are not an inherently evil force, their actually neutral.”
“Neutral?” I scoffed, “Slitting someone’s throat doesn’t sound very neutral to me.”
“A life for a life.” Grandma sighed, looking much older in that moment. “You can’t expect things for free, Lola. Sometimes they’ll want blood, sometimes they can be–creative.”
“Creative? That sounds reassuring.” I grimaced, “How do you know all of this anyway? You know more about Vampire’s then the history books.”
“Your Mom moved here when she was young, after she met the Vampire King. She hadn’t a clue he was a King, or that he was the heir of the Kouritis bloodline.
She rejected him before fleeing from her little town, hoping he wouldn’t dare hunt her down.” Grandma sighed, “I became close friends with your other Grandma, and eventually your Mom. Your other Grandma and I–well, we were the only two your Mom told.”
“Then how did Dad know?” I asked, my attention captivated because I was finally getting the answers I craved.
“They too became close friends over time. It had been a couple years since she moved to this pack, but one day she went outside of the territory. The Vampire King had found her within the hour.” Grandma paused, shuddering as she relived the memory but continued.
“He toyed with her, let her live in safety for a couple years. He could have gotten to her at any time, should he use the shadows. Something you need to know about your true Father, there is not a price he wouldn’t pay for power. That makes him dangerous.”
I had figured as much, but hearing the words out loud sent a chill down my spine. I had no doubt the Vampire King would remove his own child if it helped his cause.
“Your Mom was a half-blood too, only her other half was human. She was the one who figured out how to block her mind, and she passed the information on to me.” Grandma smiled grimly,
“The Vampire King needed a way to produce an heir, so he called to the shadows. He could have chosen another woman, but your Mom would give him the strongest offspring.”
“What price did he pay?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to ask.
“Complete control of the mind is quite the favor.” Grandma’s smile dropped. “They asked for someone in her bloodline, someone who loved unconditionally, and they wanted him to do the job himself. It was your other Grandma they wanted.”
Buttery light from the setting sun bounced across the forest and grassy floor, a beautiful sight in the midst of a grim conversation.
The unspoken words lingered between us, their meaning loud and clear. The Vampire King had gotten what he wanted, as I was proof of that. He had taken my other Grandma’s life with his bare hands, paying his debt to the shadows.
“I always thought you didn’t like Mom.” I chuckled dryly, remembering the countless angry looks and sideways glares.
“I always liked your Mom.” Grandma scoffed, waving me away. “I just hated how hard she was on herself. She loved you, but blamed herself for her Mom’s death.”
Grandma and I went back inside once the sun had completely vanished behind the forest line, carrying that buttery light further away. After giving me more leftovers than I needed, Dad dropped me off at the packhouse.
As I scurred into the kitchen I locked eyes with Alpha Asher who leaned against the counter enduring a conversation with Alpha Bran. I hadn’t seen the sandy-haired Alpha since I had beaten him in the fight, and from the grim smile on his face, I knew he remembered that night very well.
“Room will be made for when your men arrive.” Alpha Asher grunted, an irritated look of indifference on his face.
With a dark sweatshirt draped against his form, my eyes found the dip and curve of his arm muscles easily. My eyes trailed up his broad shoulders, and chiseled-jawline to meet his darkening eyes. As he noticed my attention, a sly smirk formed on his face. Sensing Alpha Asher’s attention was elsewhere, Alpha Bran flashed me a transparent smile.
“I’m sure that you’ll see them taken care off.” Alpha Bran smiled stiffly before turning leave.
“It seems he’s taking his loss rather hard.” Alpha Asher smirked, the curve of his lips warming my insides.
“His men haven’t arrived yet?” I asked, an amused glance in the direction Alpha Bran stalked off in.
“He has had issues gathering his forces.” Alpha Asher grunted, “Wasting as much time as he can.”
“Are we sure Alpha Bran isn’t working with the Vampire’s?” I snorted, “Procrastinating could be to their benefit.”
“Alpha Bran isn’t stupid enough to work with the Vampire’s. His family has hated them for decades.” Alpha Asher shook his head, “He’d forfeit his position as Alpha to see them all killed off.”
“And what about patrol? Brittany said an attack could happen at any point.” I questioned, ignoring my flinch at his previous statement.
“Alpha Zeke brought what men he could afford; we have them stationed around along the southern perimeter.”
“How do we know they haven’t changed plans?” I frowned, “They have to know we have Brittany by now.”
“She says they are unaware of the information she has on them.” Alpha Asher said simply.
“I’m sure you’re still taking precautions.” I replied.
“Of course.” He smirked, “Trusting her word alone could mean the death of this pack. As for patrol tonight, I meant to tell you earlier, but you are relieved of patrol duties for the foreseeable future.”
“Really?” I questioned; eyebrow raised. I wasn’t complaining, but everyone in training was required to run patrol.
“Really.” He chuckled lowly, his eyes flashing playfully. “Actually, I’d like for you to accompany me tonight. If you aren’t busy.”
“Well, I was going to run patrol.” I smirked, but I was sure he could hear my accelerating heartrate. “It seems I have some free-time, now that I’ve been relieved.”
“Change into something comfortable, I’ll wait down here.” Alpha Asher smiled, one that softened his face and smoothed the hardness from his eyes.
I ran up the stairs and into our bedroom, stripping off the clothes I had worn today in exchange for the dress Breyona let me borrow.
While the black fabric covered my important bits, it was on the shorter side. Just to be safe, I slipped on a matching pair of shorts.
Alpha Asher hadn’t moved as I slipped back downstairs. His toffee eyes roamed me, approval flashing in his gaze. Under his eyes I felt self-conscious, my skin flushed and heated.
“You look good in black.” Alpha Asher nodded, appreciatively. His large hand tugged at the hem of my dress, a smirk forming on his face. “I particularly like this dress.”
“I wonder why.” I snorted, though blush formed across my face.
“No need to rub Alpha Bran’s loss in his face.” Alpha Asher smirked, his thick arm snaking around my waist as he led me to the back door.
“Where are we going?” I frowned, following him to the forest-line. “Isn’t there going to be an attack any day?”
“We aren’t going far.” He assured me, “I have men roaming the forest, and some stationed around the house.”
I had never fully explored the woods around our pack before. I had followed Tyler to the swimming hole countless times, but never ventured out on my own. Tyler had refused to let me train or join patrol, claiming my status as future Luna put me above everyone else.
Alpha Asher led me into the woods, holding back branches and leaves as I trailed beside him. His hand found my own, our fingers threading together. Alpha Asher had never made me feel below him.
I had voiced my opinion to him a few times now, and each time he listened. I didn’t feel as though I were following my Alpha into the woods. I was following the guy I loved, one who cherished my body and enjoyed my opinions.
“Where are we going?” I asked, breaking the comfortable silence between us.
“You’ll see.” Alpha Asher gave me a genuine smile, one that left me staggering for breath. “I enjoy time alone, and had found this place shortly after taking over the pack.”
We walked into a small clearing, as big as our bedroom in the packhouse. Small flowers were scattered throughout the clearing, growing in white clumps.
The petals were thin, but seemed to absorb the moonlight shining overhead. The white petals appeared to be glowing as they attracted the light of the moon.
“I believe the previous Luna had planted these.” Alpha Asher murmured, “I never asked.”
“She loves gardening, but I never knew about this.” I nodded, my attention on the luminescent flowers that dotted the clearing. “It’s so–beautiful.”
My stomach was a mess of knots as I felt the presence of the man behind me, gauging my reaction as I looked over the flowers. He had brought me here, a place he went to be alone.
There were times I doubted his feelings towards me, but this had to mean something. Where I usually had courage, something about Alpha Asher brought me to my knees.
I wanted to turn around, confess my feelings for him and demand to know if he felt the same. Instead of doing any of those things, I turned around and gave him a gentle smirk.
“I wouldn’t have thought you’d like something like this.” I chuckled lightly, my heart speeding up as he closed the distance between us.
“I am allowed to appreciate beauty when I see it.”
Alpha Asher smirked down at me, his dark eyes smoldering as he took in my face. My heart thundered at the meaning of his words.
I ran my tongue along my lower lip, coating the soft flesh with moisture as butterflies swarmed in my stomach. His eyes caught the movement, following the trail of my tongue with burning intensity. His breath fanned against my lips, hovering just above my own.
My self-control was holding by a frayed thread. Just as a low growl sounded from his throat, I began to close the distance between us.
‘Alpha–there’s been a breach on the northern side of town, a group of Vampires. Patrol was able to take three down, but four slipped through. Breyona’s Mom saw them running down her street, it seems like their looking for something.’
The words echoed between Alpha Asher and I, the moment between us shattered violently.
“Dad’s house is on Breyona’s street.” I croaked.
‘Tell everyone to keep indoors. Send a patrol team to Lola’s house, we’re on our way.’
“What if they don’t know I moved into the packhouse? Dad and Grandma are there.”