We walk down the road in silence, several wolves paying respect to their Queen with a bow as they walk past us.
“Why do they bow to you?” I blurt out, wishing the earth would swallow me after the words leave my lips.
“Sorry, ignore me,” I mutter, avoiding her gaze.
“It’s okay,” she says.
“lam an Ivory Wolf, a special type of wolf that only exists every 150 years when a Silver and Gold Wolf are mated.You can think of me as a guardian for the werewolf race, gifted with many abilities to protect all of the children of the moon.Wolves sense my power and pay respect to me by bowing.” I store this information although I did not fully understand what a gold wolf or silver wolf is.
Aurora chuckles to herself and I raise an eyebrow at her.Did she think I was stupid for asking such a question?
“Not at all,” she chuckles as we arrive at a beautiful garden, brimming with gorgeous flowers, trees full of fruit and water fountains carved from stone.
“I just think it’s funny that you don’t seem to know a lot about werewolves and yet you hate us all.”
“I never said I hated werewolves,” I retort defensively.
“No, but you thought it,” she shrugs, making her way to a small “Many times, I might add.”
“How could you know tha-“
“I read your mind,” she sighs, swinging her short legs as she takes a deep breath.
“It’s one of my gifts.I’ve heard every thought you’ve had ever since you set foot in my office last night and while we had breakfast this morning.I’ve also seen all your memories, including those of your former pack.”
My cheeks burn knowing I had thought many vile things last night about wolves, but it was not something I planned to apologize for.I did not ask to be brought here to live among wolves.I just wanted to live my life with my baby.
Why couldn’t anyone understand that? “I’m not asking you for an apology,”
“In fact, I understand your fears and concerns.Trust me, I know exactly what pain you’re feeling-“
“You know what I’m feeling?” I scoff, crossing my arms over my chest.
“You don’t know a thing about me! I trusted your kind.I trusted my mate.I trusted my pack and they all turned their backs on me when I needed them the most.They shattered everything within me and the only reason I am still standing here today is because of my little boy.He is the only reason I get up every morning, working two jobs so I can give him everything he deserves! I’ve given him everything.Me! I did that! Not my mate! Not some pack! Not any wolf! Me!”
I scream, wiping the tears that had spilled onto my cheeks pain! You don’t know anything about me! You get to sit here and be happy with your mate.
You didn’t have to fight tooth and nail to prove your worth to your people! You didn’t have people waiting for you to fail, expecting you to crumble under all the pressure of being a human Luna.You weren’t rejected by your mate and made to feel like you were worthless!
My entire body trembles with rage.I want to kick myself from crying in front of a wolf and showing her just how truly broken I was.
The little Queen sits quietly in her seat, closing her eyes and inhaling the fresh summer air.
For a long time, she says nothing and I contemplate just leaving and taking Kota far away from here before she finally heaves a heavy sigh.
“I was almost 13,” she whispers, her eyes still closed.
“I was almost 13 when I was accused of murdering my father.” I stare blankly at her, not sure what to do with that information.
“The beatings started almost immediately when they found me with his body,” she murmurs, fidgeting with her fingers in her lap.
“I never even had a chance to explain what happened. They all just turned on me…” Her voice trembles as she continues.
“My adoptive siblings, Mia and Salvador…” she pauses for a moment to catch her breath.
“T-they turned on me too…and for five years they…they beat me, tortured me in my sleep…shattered every space just trying to make it through the day.”
When she finally looks up at me, there are tears in her eyes.
“My own mate didn’t even want me when we first met…Oliver, he…he rejected me.” An uncomfortable smile curls on her lips.
“He didn’t want a murder for a Luna.”
Her mate rejected her? Ithink, wondering how she could have forgiven him for hurting her in the first place.
“You see, I was not always the respected Queen of this Kingdom.I was once a pack slave, withering away in a basement.I was beaten, tortured, forced to work day in and day out until my bones hurt.I was not handed my crown, I fought for it, struggling against my own inner demons, my doubts, my fears, everything that made me believe I was just a worthless mutt to become what I am today,” she says as she wipes her tears.
“So yes, I do understand your pain.I know what it’s like to be rejected by the one person who is supposed to love you most.I know what it’s like to be betrayed and humiliated by your pack, by your family, by everyone you’ve ever loved.I know what it’s like to feel like you will never measure up to everyone’s expectations.I know!”
She shouts back, the ground trembling beneath our feet.
“I get your fears about pack life,” she says softly after a long pause.
“But there are monsters among all of us…both human and wolf.I would not be where I am today were it not for River Moon.Evan laugh again when I thought I never would.
Rosalie taught me strength.
She’s the reason I learned to love myself and my body after years of hating everything about me.
Carter and Gwen taught me loyalty.
They had faith in me long before I did.
And Oliver? He’s loved me unconditionally with all my flaws.He’s patient and gentle with me even when I can’t stand myself.He’s there when I need him most.He’s my everything.
Packs aren’t all bad.
Sometimes you just have to leave one to find where you truly belong.I left Lluvia Blanca and found my home in River Moon.
Packs aren’t exclusive to werewolves.
They exist in every relationship you forge.
You’ve left Silver Crest and found a new pack, one made up of your friends and allies
“Gwen, your loyal companion and Kota, your most precious gift, Nikki and Micah, your friends who have supported you always, and Mrs.Henry who stays open later to help out a young single mother struggling with her late shifts.All of them make up your pack.Zane and Agnes…they are just two rogues looking to be accepted by their new alpha…You.”
She slowly rises to her feet, taking a few steps towards me.
I flinch and try to step away, not wanting to accept her words despite knowing their truth.
“I don’t expect you to let go of your hatred for us overnight.Like I said, I understand your fear very well,” she says as she gently rests her hands on my shoulders.
“But I hope to show you that not all wolves are cruel.” with pack life.
Could I truly trust the words of another wolf?
“You remind me of me when I first arrived at River Moon,” she sighs, wiping the bitter tears on my face.
“Can I show you something?”
Before I can respond, she flicks her wrist, a portal opening before my eyes.
From where I stand, I can make out a lake and several buildings in progress in the distance.
Aurora tries to take my hand but I flinch away as I keep my eyes on the portal.
“It’s okay,” she soothes, her kind eyes meeting mine with sincerity.
Reluctantly, I allow her to lead me through the portal and find myself in a completely different territory.
“Where are we?” I ask, looking around and taking in the new scenery.
The new area looks like a construction site, hundreds of wolves carrying equipment and building materials for different projects.
There’s also a large group of women gathered by the lake.
By the looks of it, they are in the middle of a yoga session.
“This territory was formerly known as Amethyst Lake, a pack from hell,” Aurora answers, leading me towards the women.
“Nikolai, the former Alpha abolished the mate bond and imprisoned the women of his pack, using them all as s*x slaves.Last year, my allies and I were able to liberate all of the women, their kids and some of “And the Alpha?” I ask.
“I’m their Alpha now,” Aurora says proudly.
“Nikolai won’t ever hurt anyone again. Take that as you will.
I intend to transform this place of misery into a sanctuary for those who suffered under Nikolai reign of terror.
The first step is the hardest: getting them to accept my help.
It’s been a rough couple of months.
These women were beaten and destroyed until all that was left was a shell of who they were.
Many have children with their abusers.
Most don’t even know how to read or write.
And of course, all of them still have nightmares.
Every day is a struggle for these women, all thanks to a man who was supposed to protect them.
“I stare at the group of women working on their breathing exercises with eyes closed.They look like little angels nestled on the shores of the lake.
“There are cruel Alphas…” Aurora murmurs.
“But not all of us are out to hurt others.Some of us just want to help.I did not need to take on this burden.I have more than plenty of work handling River Moon and the kingdom, but these wolves…” her voice cracks.
“These girls needed me.How could I turn my back on their suffering just because they belonged to another Alpha?”
I feel shame settle in the pit of my stomach for misjudging the powerful being in front of me.
“It’s not just I who is taking on this project,” She adds with a smile.
“The allies of my Kingdom have all been supportive with this train these women.The men you saw last night are my top contributors.
Cerulean Sea has provided security, giving me strong men to guard the territory and assigning female trainers here so that my girls can learn to defend themselves and their pups.Luvia Blanca has given me access to their construction company to build a women’s health center equipped with a school, a clinic, and a daycare.They will soon start building new homes so my girls can live here in peace.”
“Lluvia Blanca…The same pack that turned on you?” I ask, wondering if I’ve gotten my packs mixed up.
She nods, looking off in the distance.
“I do not believe in revenge.Turning on Lluvia Blanca in their time of need would make me no better than them.So, I made them my allies and we work closely now to ensure the safety of the Kingdom.I won’t lie, sometimes it’s hard…but I don’t regret my decision.Besides, I couldn’t make my twin, Celina, an enemy.She’s their Luna and I love her too much.”
My respect for the Queen grows exponentially for I know if I were ever in her shoes, I would not be so forgiving.
“Some people think it’s weak to forgive, but I find the strongest people are the ones who hold no hatred in their heart,” She murmurs.
We both remain silent as we watch the women complete their breathing exercise.
As they open their eyes and catch a glimpse of the “Your majesty,” a girl cries with a beaming smile on her lips as she races to greet the Queen.
“I’m so glad to see you!”
Before Aurora can respond, the girl collides into her chest, hugging her with all her strength.I watch in awe as the girl seems to pour out all of her love and devotion to the Queen in her hug.
“Nadia, I can’t breathe,” Aurora giggles, the girl jumping back with a start.
“I-I’m so sorry, your majesty,” the girl apologizes, lowering her gaze to her feet and her body stiffening, as if waiting for a punishment.
When she receives none, Nadia slowly raises her gaze to find the Queen smiling kindly at her and she blushes to the color of a fire engine.
“I-I did it again, didn’t I?”
Nadia asks sheepishly, before scolding herself.
“I-I’m sorry.I didn’t-“
“Nadia, it’s okay,”
Aurora reassures her, stroking the side of her cheek.
“It’s your instinct…But we’ll work on that together, okay?”
Nadia flinches at her touch before correcting her behavior and leaning into Aurora’s hand.She closes her eyes as Aurora pulls her into a hug.
“Just keep breathing.You’re safe now,”
Aurora whispers, Nadia nodding her head as she buries her face in her chest at the Queen.
“Are you here to join us, your majesty?” Nadia asks when she cools down.
“I’m actually just taking my friend, Natalia here, on a walk,” she replies, gesturing to me.
The girl blushes in embarrassment and hurriedly introduces herself.
“Oh, I’m sorry for interrupting your walk.I’m Nadia.”
“Nadia is one of the survivors from Amethyst Lake,” Aurora explains.
“She’s a very strong and remarkable woman.”
Nadia’s face is practically a tomato after receiving such praise from her Queen.
Aurora’s eyes suddenly fog over, her face growing stern.
“But it looks like I will have to cut this walk short,” Aurora apologizes.
“The Alphas want to discuss the training ground plans again,” she sighs in frustration.
“Are we really getting new training grounds?” Nadia asks with a hopeful smile.
“I will fight for one,” Aurora smiles, flicking her wrist to open a new portal.
“I will see you girls tonight for class, okay?” she asks Nadia.
Nadia nods enthusiastically as we disappear into the portal and are transported back to the pack house office.
Only when we find ourselves alone does Aurora stop smiling, her eyes brimming with tears.
For the first time today, the Queen seems at a loss for words.
“I…uh…I lied about the ….Um…the training ground meeting,”
Aurora says as she wipes her tears.
“One of my girls tried to kill herself today and I- I couldn’t tell Nadia.She’s having a good day.You can’t ruin a good day for these girls.Please don’t tell anyone.It’s hard enough for them to wake up each morning without adding this burden onto them…They would blame themselves if they knew one of their own was hurting this much.”
My heart shatters as I watch Aurora collect herself and I swear to not tell a soul.
“I’m needed at the clinic to help the girl cope with what she did,” she adds as she breathes in and out slowly.
“You are free to go about the territories.If you need anything please let Evan know.” She opens a portal to what appears to be the clinic.
“I enjoyed our walk today…and I hope I’ve given you a different perspective on us wolves for you to think about.”
And with that, she disappears into the clinic, leaving me alone with my chaotic thoughts swirling in my mind.
Perhaps…! was wrong…