Making my way to the restaurant I handed the name cards to one of the waitresses who quickly raced around placing them out following the seating arrangements. Valen came out of the kitchen with a garment bag slung over his shoulder and smiled when he spotted me. He was dressed in a black suit, looking handsome like always. Valarian was also dressed in a suit and was playing with Casey with some other children that had arrived early when Valen approached me, coming up behind me. He nestled his face into my neck which earned a curious stares when his hand went to my hip to tug me back against him.
“You’re not wearing that,” he growled and looked down at my uniform.
“And I am not wearing that, if it is a dress,” I told him as he draped it over my arm as I rearranged some of the decorations.
“Ah, well, good thing it’s not. I know you don’t wear dresses because I have yet to see you in one. Although you will have to wear a dress eventually,”
“And why is that Alpha Valen?” I asked. “Because usually the groom wears a suit to a wedding, so for one day you will have to s**k it up and wear a dress,”
“I like how you assume I will marry you. What if I want to keep my name?”
“We can hyphenate it,” he chuckles, kissing my jaw while I pull a face at the thought.
“Fine Solace it is,” I laugh.
“Good choice because I wasn’t changing mine to Valen Summers,” he says and I swat his arm with my hand.
“Go get changed,” he says, giving me a nudge toward the rear doors that led to the back where my apartment was. I sighed, taking the garment bag and heading for my apartment. I changed quickly into the white pants suit before running the brush through my hair and tying it up. Looking in the mirror, I pursed my lips before walking into Zoe’s room and rummaging through her make -up bag and taking some of her cosmetics.
I did a rush job of my makeup knowing people would be already arriving and I still had to place a few things out on the tables and check the seating arrangements again. Last thing we needed was for rival Alphas and outside Alphas being seated together. Looking in the mirror one last time, I felt like an imposter and sucked in a sharp breath. Trying to find the courage to go out there and face not only my father but all those Alphas who were here for the announcement.
After today everything will change, I would no longer be Everly, the rogue, but Luna Everly, and that thought scared me as much as it excited me. How over the years I had changed. From having nothing to becoming a Hotel owner, and soon once more, to Luna. Our village was growing larger, and that responsibility hung heavily over me. Valerie’s voice came to mind; whenever the health and safety people would mock our attempts to get this place running.
Micha was the worst. Zoe blackmailed him into helping fix the wiring in the place. He walked around and checked the place out. He then burst out laughing in our faces. He found it hilarious.
” I am not wasting my time; you will never get this place up and running, ” he mocked with a shake of his head. Valarie refused to hear it. She stepped forward, and I saw the fear in his eyes while she held none. The woman was fearless.
Micha had taken a frightened step back at the look she gave him. He dared not challenge her. There was something with the way she carried herself;
she did not fear pack wolves. No, Valarie was her own pack, and she let us be a part of it; she protected us, and this was home. True Alphas preserve their home and those that live in it; she was our Alpha. Micha visibly gulped as she got up close and sneered as she looked him up and down. She said two words as she snatched the tool from his hand. Two words that always stuck with me.
Micha challenged her, and she loved a challenge.
“Watch me, ” she said before turning on her heel and walking to the power box. She shut the power off and undid the screws holding the cover over the exposed wires. I shook my head at the memory and smiled to myself. It kind of became our mantra.
Fueled by everyone trying to knock us back. The day before we got the official notice and were told we could open our doors, we sat in the restaurant admiring our handy work. The place looked fantastic.
We were sipping our beers covered in paint and g0d knows what else. Valerie was leaning against the counter, watching us. She always watched us. She always let us know how proud she was of what we had accomplished.
“We actually did it, ” she said, and we nodded. All of us were exhausted, yet our spirits were good.
“You will never do it. That is what I will tell you girls from now on,” Valarie laughed.
“Watch us,” we said collectively with a laugh. ” That’s my girls, and they will watch, and you will show them what us rogues are made of,” she said proudly. It became our mantra and when I fell behind in my night classes, trying to juggle kids, work, and school, I felt defeated. Valerie wandered over to me, cigarette between her lips where I sat sulking, looking at my failed test. My bag was between my feet, I had opened the letter before leaving and was supposed to leave for class. I sighed and rested my head against the brick wall, feeling like I had let her down.
“What are you looking at?” she asked. “My stupid test, I failed,” I grumbled.
“Let me look,” she said, snatching the paper from my hands. She peered at it and sighed.
“Might as well throw in the towel, you’ll never do it, ” she clicked her tongue, and I squinted my eyes at her. The corner of her lips tugged in the corners. ” Should probably quit this place too, barely made a dent. The place looks like crap,” she said, motioning around to all the work we slaved our a**es off doing all day.
She dragged back on her smoke and raised an eyebrow at me. I pursed my lips, and she smiled. She crumpled the paper and tossed it into the bin, and I snatched my bag up off the ground.
“Watch me,” I said, using the words I heard her say many times over. The challenge brought on. She smirked. “Oh, I am,” she laughed. Two words and they always put a fire in my belly.
So, with that, I headed to the restaurant. Valarie handed this place to Valarian and me; this was my home, and now I was not only fighting to keep it running, but I was also fighting for the rogues, our village built from nothing. So nothing my father could say or do could touch me.
We beat the odds; we built an empire, and I won’t let one Alpha intimidate me. If Valerie taught me anything, it was to know my worth, and the only one who got to determine that was me, not my father, not my mate, not those who tried to suppress me. I no longer had to prove anything to anyone because I proved it to myself, and there is no feeling that is more empowering than knowing your own value.
Reaching the doors, I was bombarded instantly as those brought in to help cater scrambled with last- minute alterations and tasks. I had walked in halfway through the opening speeches, clipboard in hand. I looked over the guest lists before walking out the back to check the kitchen to see if the chefs needed help. The place was packed, and Kalen was addressing those that attended. I had been to plenty of these growing up, and I knew Valen planned to make the announcement at the end of the night.
A few hours in, and everyone was mingling. I watched the Alphas mingle among each other. Looking over at the table Valen was at, he nodded to the chair beside him, but I shook my head. I still hadn’t seen my father and was waiting for it. Kalen, I knew, wanted to keep things civil as long as possible, so I kept my distance, bidding my time. But when a commotion happened toward the back of the room. I recognized my father’s voice instantly.
“You f*cking idiot, you spilled it all over me!” he said, standing up. I tilted my head to the side, and I saw Valen stand and look in his direction along with a heap of other Alphas. My server fumbled, trying to clean up the mess. Zoe also went over to help, and I noticed Marcus lingering in the background as she approached. Difficult patrons were something we dealt with on the regular. This was nothing and an easy fix for her.
“Do you have any idea how expensive this suit is?” My father growled at Sarah. Zoe places her hand on Sarah’s shoulder.
“May I know what the issue is, Alpha?” “Yes, this idiot spilled wine on my shirt,” “Accidents happen, Alpha. I am sure we can organize dry-cleaning or possibly a fresh shirt, ” Zoe answers quickly while tidying up the table. My father sneers, and Zoe nods for Sarah to go, and she rushes off, coming toward the kitchens.
“You ok?” I ask her, touching her arm as she escaped into the kitchen, looking rather shaken.
“Bl00dy pr!ck, he bumped my arm as I was pouring, ” she said. I nodded to the kitchen, and she sighed with relief while I leaned against the frame. I chuckled when I saw Macey a few tables away, watching Zoe. Ready to crack the Alpha with a bottle if needed. She knew who he was, so did Zoe, and not once did she stammer. She spoke professionally and did her job while my father ranted about lowly rogues. We had heard it all, and it no longer fazed us. There wasn’t a name he could come up with that we hadn’t heard once or twice before.
“As I said, Sir. We can offer to have dry cleaned or replaced for you,” Zoe told him.
“I want her fired; I want to speak to the manager,”
“You are speaking with one Alpha,” Zoe told him before waving Macey over. I will give him one thing: he knew how to cause a scene, as everyone watched with eager eyes. Marcus looked like he was about to drag Zoe away from the threat. Oblivious at the back, the kids were playing and stuffing their tiny faces.
“This is Macey, also another manager here,” Zoe said, introducing them. Macey started with polite words, ever the professional, well, until he started ranting at her and making a fool of himself. I noticed Ava shrink in her seat. Embarrassed by our father’s behavior. Those on the other tables whispered amongst themselves, and I saw the woman from Valen‘s hotel was also seated at my father’s table, agreeing and nodding to everything he said.
“Sir, if you don’t calm down, I am going to have to escort you from the premises,” Macey told him.
And she would if needed, she had a bat behind the counter, and she wasn’t afraid to use it and had done it many times. Though this was slightly different from the everyday usuals we dealt with, this was a room full of Alphas, but that wouldn‘t stop her.
“Escort me? Who the hell do you think you are? I want to speak to the owner,” my father demanded. Zoe looked over at me, and I nodded to her. She turned back to my father.
“She is on her way, Alpha, ” I heard Zoe say as I made my way through the tables. Valen went to stand to come with me. But I motioned with my hand to stay where he was. I didn’t need him behind me. I could fight my own battles and this was my hotel, my workers, and he was my father.
My father sat down while he waited, arms folded across his chest. Macey and Zoe stepped away, and I took their place.
“Is there a problem, Alpha?” I asked. My father looked at me before his eyes went to those seated at his table, mouth opening and closing like a fish. My mother just stared unblinkingly at me while my father stumbled for words. Ava, however, snickered before covering her mouth, trying to stifle her laughter.
“Ah, yes. I wanted to speak to the owner,” my father finally says with a wave dismissing me, clearly, over his shock at seeing me. And yet, standing in a room full of alphas, he would still try to deny knowing me. That was fine. They were about to find out.
“You’re looking at her,” I tell him, motioning to myself. If seeing me hadn’t shocked him, then finding out I was the owner definitely did.
“But you’re a rogue-wh**e,” he sneered.
“No, I am rogue, and that word will not be tolerated in my hotel, Alpha, or should I say, father?” I asked, smiling down at him.