“Welcome to River Moon,” Aurora smiles, her golden eyes scanning us.
“You must be Talia,” she asks, sticking her hand out to my mate.
Talia stares blankly at Aurora’s outstretched hand, her heart beating wildly in her chest before she reluctantly shakes it.
“Nice to meet you,” Tali mutters, her voice clipped as she adjusts Kota in her arms.
“This is my son, Dakota.” Kota sticks his thumb in his mouth and waves with his other hand, Aurora waving at him.
Talia then points over to Agnes and I.
“That’s Zane and Agnes.Zane is…my mate,” she adds bitterly.
“And Agnes is his mother.She is deaf and they are both mute.”
Aurora’s eyes sweep over to Agnes and I as she waves a hello.
Agnes shyly replies with a sign before hiding behind me and lowering her head, shaking like a leaf.I would have to ask her why she is so nervous later.
“She says ‘nice to meet you’,” Talia translates.
Aurora’s smile brightens but seeing Agnes’s reaction, she simply turns to the three men behind her, introducing them as Alpha Wesley of the Cerulean Sea Pack and his beta Chris, as well as Alpha Javier of “Gentlemen, we can continue this discussion tomorrow,” she says over her shoulder.
My eyes widen in shock when she flicks her wrist and two large portals appear, the three men nodding at the little Queen before vanishing into the portals.I take a good look at Queen Aurora, drinking in her beauty and undeniable strength.
She was a small woman like Agnes, standing at just five feet tall with long white hair draped across her shoulders and dazzling pools of honey swirling in her eyes.
Her tan skin is decorated with tattoos on her wrists and palms.I had heard stories of the Ivory Twins from my mother but never thought I’d come face to face with one of the pair.
Her eyes hold a gentle kindness and she steps forward, reaching out a hand to greet me.
Talia and Agnes each grab onto my arms, both seeking comfort from me in the presence of such a powerful being.
Aurora’s smile falters a little at seeing their fear and she steps back in respect.
“There’s no need to fear me,” she says quietly.
“I-l won’t hurt you.” l open my mouth to thank her for receiving us but my words seem to choke me and I end up coughing instead.
Say something you i***t, Grayson mutters.A royal is speaking to you.
What do you want me to say? I ask, my mouth feeling as though it were full of sand sarcasm.
What do you mean ‘what dolsay’? Hesnaps.
Introduce yourself, dumbass! Aurora suddenly bursts into laughter, my cheeks flushing at what she could have possibly thought was funny.
“Your wolfis funny” her soft voice whispers in my head.My eyes nearly pop out of my skull as I stare at the Queen, wondering if I had accidentally let down my walls and invaded her mind.
“Sorry for the intrusion.I’m a telepath ;” she replies sheepishly before I can make sense of what is happening.
“And it appears you are too…” I wouldn’t callus telepaths —, Grayson mumbles and I quickly block him out before he can embarrass me any further.
“lf apologize if i’m overstepping my boundaries, “ Aurora sighs.
“You just seemed like you wanted to say something but were perhaps too afraid?’ I press my lips together and shake my head at her.”
M-my voice was it just doesn’t work, “I reply, avoiding her gaze to hide my shame.There’s a sudden pinch at my temples and a silence fills my head before Aurora lets out a sharp gasp, stepping back to support herself on her desk.Tears line her eyes when our eyes meet and the look on her face tells me she’s seen my life flash before her.Desperate to keep whatever dignity I have left” I shake my head at
“Please don’t tell, I beg her, not wanting Talia to know just what a pathetic low-life she got for a mate.”
My mate…she doesn’t know. She won’t want me if you tell her I stutter.
Aurora’s eyes flicker towards Talia, who hugs Kota close to her § body and hides her face in his shoulder.
She studies Talia for a moment before lowering her gaze.
“You don’t know…” she says out loud, more to herself than to me,”She doesn’t hate you,”she murmurs in my head.
“She just fears you…and what you could do to her”
Before I can ask her what she means, the doors burst open, a grey pit-bull sprinting into the room and licking Aurora’s face with a long pink tongue.
A man in a smart black suit enters the room, strolling past us to Aurora.
He towers over her tiny figure, cupping her cheeks as he bends down for a kiss.
“You guys are disgusting,”
Evan gags, his voice startling me as I had completely forgotten he was there in the first place.
“Why don’t you go jump off a bridge?”
The man retorts, Evan snickering to himself.
Aurora protests, pushing the man away.
“Don’t be rude.We have guests!”
The man doesn’t budge, peppering her face with kisses.
“Tu es ma priorité (You are my priority)” he murmurs, Aurora furrowing her brows in deep thought; His smile widens.
“Good! Your French is improving,” he replies in satisfaction.
“And your manners are not,” she huffs, lowering her gaze to hide her reddened cheeks and pushing the man towards us.
The man turns towards us and grins.
“I’m Oliver Artaud, Alpha of the River Moon Pack and King of the Kingdom of the Ivory Phoenix.You must be Gwen’s friends.”
Seeing that Talia has gone mute, I reply with a nod.
“Can I touch your doggie?” Kota asks, his eyes fixated on the pit-bull dancing around Aurora’s feet.
Oliver whistles as he gets down on one knee, the dog coming to his side and sitting on his hind legs.
“This is Rio,” he says as he strokes the dog’s fur.
“He’s a very good boy. Would you like to give him a treat?”
Kota nods excitedly, pushing at his mother’s chest to be let down but Talia refuses, clinging to him like her life depends on it.
“No, Kota,” she says, shaking her head.
“Oh, Rio doesn’t bite,” Oliver reassures with a smile.
“He’s a lousy guard dog. He likes everyone.”
But Talia only shakes her head.
“We’ve had a long day.We would just like to be shown to our rooms please,” Talia mutters.
“I’m very tired.”
Oliver looks like he wants to say something but one look from his”Evan,”
he finally sighs after apparently having a private conversation with Aurora via mind-link.
“Take them to the guest house.We can speak when you are all well rested.”
Evan leads us down to the first floor and out to the guest house.
It is a large two-story building with 6 bedrooms, a small garden, two living areas, and a small office.
Evan hands over the keys to me.
“Your things have already been put away in your rooms.Dinner has been set for you and if you need anything else, please don’t hesitate to ask me.Her Majesty would also like to invite you to breakfast in the morning.She wants to discuss some things with all of you,” he says before taking off to the main pack house.
Talia makes a run for the upstairs bedrooms without a word and I hear the shower start.
Agnes wrings her hands nervously as we explore our new temporary home.
As Evan had said, a hot, delicious dinner is already set on the table for us.
Sensing Talia is already wildly uncomfortable in the pack house, I decide its best we eat while she and Kota shower.
“Are you okay?” I ask Agnes as I watch her pick at her food.
She forces a smile but I know better than to fall for that.
“What’s wrong?” She wipes at her eyes and smiles through her sadness.
“Well…it’s just…This pack seems to run so well.Everyone has a role ora job,”
She signs quickly in her anxiousness.
“I think I will only be a burden for the Queen…just another mouth to feed.”
Moon, it was obvious that it was a well-managed pack.
The Guards roaming the grounds were easily identifiable, working around the clock to protect the pack members.
The houses were all well kept by designated working omegas and there were even community buildings such as a library and pack hospital.
Scarlett Haven paled in comparison.
We only had 300 members at any given time and a small pack clinic adjacent to the Hive.
River Moon easily boasted 1000 pack members and from the discussion we interrupted, in the midst of a great expansion.
I can only imagine the allied packs of the Kingdom were equally well cared for.
What could two mute werewolves with few skills possibly have to offer to this pack?
“We will just have to make ourselves useful,” I sign, attempting to cheer Agnes up despite my own worries.
“Perhaps you can impress the Queen at breakfast tomorrow by bringing some of your homemade crepes,” I offer, Agnes’ face lighting up.
After dinner, we explore the kitchen cabinets, Agnes growing confident that she could indeed make her crepes for the Queen tomorrow.
“Please rest well,” I sign as I drop her off at her bedroom.
“You just make your crepes and I’ll make sure no one bothers you.”
She gives a small hug before disappearing into her own room.
I explore the remaining bedrooms and realize Talia and I were given the master bedroom to share as I open the door.I find Kota and Talia fast asleep in each other’s arms in the middle of the spacious Cal King bed.
They must be exhausted ,\tell myself as I begin to undress in the dark.I change into a clean t-shirt and bottoms, careful not to make too much noise.
As I pull back the sheets to climb into bed with Talia, I notice the streaks of tears on her cheeks illuminated by the moonlight and I stop cold in my tracks.
Knowing I would only be pushing her to her limits if I was to share with her and Kota, I quietly set myself up on the floor bedside her.My mind seems to be sprinting as I struggle to drift off into sleep.
What could Aurora have meant by Talia fears me? Was I truly terrifying to her? I wonder, remembering how Talia had seen my scars.
Did she feel disgusted by what she saw? Another thought enters my mind.
Why was she so afraid? Hadn’t she lived among werewolves before? Surely, she could not be afraid of them hurting her.She’s mated with a wolf before…
Grayson snarls at my last thought.
Well, she’s ours now, He grumbles.
Herpast mate doesn’t matter.l ignore Grayson’s possessive thoughts, worrying instead that perhaps a wolf had hurt her in the past and she now fears us all.
If that anticipated.
As I think of any possible ways to demonstrate my affection for her, I hear small whimpers coming from the bed.
I’m on my feet in an instant and find Talia crying in her sleep, her shoulders trembling with every sob.
Kota stirs in her arms, but even he could not stop the tears flowing down her pretty cheeks.
My heart breaks seeing her so distraught and I struggle to find a solution.
Perhaps I should wake her up and whatever nightmare she’s enduring will stop.
Yeah, but then you’d run the risk of her screaming at you for waking her up, Grayson points out.
Well, what do you suggest?I snap.
Hold her hand ,he responds.
It seemed to help when she was afraid of the Queen.
She let you hold her hand.
I look down at her small hand draped across her son’s belly, holding him close to her chest as I hesitate to touch her.
“Why Christian?” Talia’s murmurs in her sleep as her pain reaches the depths of my heart.
More tears spill down her cheeks, a soft sob escaping her lips.I hadn’t a clue as to who Christian was, but I knew one thing for sure: I would make him pay for breaking her heart.
Very carefully, I reach for her hand, interlocking our fingers and hold my breath, expecting her to wake up and scream at me for touching her.
To my surprise, however, she tightens her grip on my fingers and brings my hand to her chest.
Half of my body hovers over her, frozen in fear that I might disturb whatever peace I just gave her.
The warm sparks feel so inviting, my body begging me to climb in behind her and hold her in my arms…But I resist.
Once I had her in my arms, I knew I would never be able to let her go.
Instead, I settle with just sitting beside her, watching over her until she finally stops crying and falls into a deep sleep.
One by one, I uncurl her fingers from my hand and gently withdraw it from her grasp, careful not to disturb her peace.I crawl back into my pile of blankets, content that she is okay, and finally fall asleep.
The light peeking through the window heats up my face, announcing the coming of a new day.
With my eyes still closed, I stretch out my arms and legs, letting out a loud, exhausted yawn.
Before I open my eyes, a blood curdling scream blasts through my ears, my heart immediately racing.