“Why did you hide your stutter from me?” She asks, her hand reaching out to touch my cheek.
I flinch away, my entire world collapsing in on me.
Quick! Play dead, Grayson snickers, his stupid comment making me even more nervous.
Unable to face my mate, I turn around on my side to hide my shame from her, pulling the covers over my head.
For a long time, the only sound I hear is the pounding of my heart against my ears, drumming louder with every passing second.
“Zane?” Talia whispers, tentatively placing her hand on the covers.
“Zane, please look at me.You don’t have to hide from me.”
The fear gripping my heart, however, makes it hard for me to face her.I know better than to speak.
My father spent years reminding me just how worthless my words were and he trained me to be quiet to avoid embarrassing him.
I know all too well that the second she hears my voice, she’ll laugh, or worse…she’ll hate me like my father.You’re being irrational, Grayson mutters.
If she really hated you, why on earth would she still be here with you? The Queen gave her a chance to leave and yet she chose to stay here with us! She asked us to protect her and her pup.
Our pup! She kissed us here alone with us! Does that sound like someone who hates you for your flaws? Do her actions remotely resemble Father’s? Each individual word he says makes sense, but I cannot understand their meaning together.
How could anyone love me the way lam? My own father could not even stomach the sight of me.
Gamma Wyatt never mistreated me, but he went along with my father’s idea to pass me off as Agne’s son and pretended I did not exist.
He turned a blind eye to the torture and abuse I faced in the Hive.
Agnes cannot hear me so she cannot grow impatient with me when [ have to repeat myself over and over again.
My mother was a kind woman, but I knew all too well that I was a burden to her and that I ruined a lot for her.
She and my father would have had a better marriage had I not stood in the way with my ineptitude.
I was only a month old the day my brother, Jonathan, died but there is no doubt in my mind that she wished my brother had lived instead of me.
He would have been a better son and my father would have been proud to name him as the next heir of Scarlett Haven.
Kota is the only person who does not seem to notice my imperfection, but he is only a child and he does not understand that the man he wants to call Dad cannot even say his name without getting stuck.
One day, he will grow up and find it embarrassing for me to speak around him and his friends.
Perhaps he will even pretend to not know who I am.
I cannot entertain the idea that anyone will ever accept me as anyone or cause trouble if I stand back and never say a word.I can be the Silent Alpha, the one my father is too afraid to ever let the world know about.
The one who lurks in the shadows, watching over the people he loves from the comfort of the darkness.
Bullshit! Grayson snarls.
This is bullshit and you know it! Our mate is giving us an opportunity to show her who we are, he adds, his anger evident in every word he spews.
Have you forgotten how huge that is? After what her former mate did to her, she is sitting here, asking us to let her in.
Have a little faith in our mate and give her a chance.She deserves it.She deserves someone better…
Will you have a little faith in Moon Goddess for once? Grayson sighs in frustration .
She chose Talia for us for a reason and I, for one, would like to know what that reason is.
Don’t you? Yes, but…But nothing! Grayson roars.No more hiding.
No more silence! You have to remember that you are not the same little boy who used to stand in front of the mirror reciting poetry while his father stood behind him with a cane.
You have a mate who holds your hand when she’s scared and kisses you when she doesn’t know what else to do
.You have a pup who wants you to be his father.
You have a mother who has watched over you for the last twenty years without complaint.
You have a friend who wants to teach you to be a better version of yourself…and you have me, your other half.
We will share this burden together and we will prove to Talia that we deserve every kiss, every hug, and every ounce of her around and watching everyone else find their place in this world except us.
I want to build a home with my mate.I want to lead a pack like Moon Goddess intended, and most of all, I want you to be happy.
Before I can finish processing Grayson’s argument, Talia pulls back the covers and rests her head on my shoulder, her body pressing up against my back as she wraps her arms around me.
“I am trying to understand you,” she whispers, her breath ticking the back of my neck.
“So I am not angry or upset with you for keeping your voice to yourself, but I need to know the truth about you.I need to know who you are if you’re going to be my mate.”
The entire world disappears as I concentrate on her words.
She wraps her fingers around my bicep and gives it a good squeeze.
“Please don’t hide anything from me anymore,” she murmurs, her fingers moving up to graze my beard.
“I want to see you.I want to know all of your flaws and imperfections…all of your pain and worries.You are wrong to assume everyone else is perfect but you.I have my own flaws, things I hate about myself too.”
Shocked, I turn my head and look at her.What could she
“Don’t look so surprised,”she chuckles softly to herself before her face dims.
“I hate a lot of things about myself…”
How dare she hate herself? I roll over on top of her, grabbing her wrists and pinning them on either side of her head.I lay between her legs, her knees propped up at my sides and an amused look on her face.
“What?” She whispers, her lips almost grazing my own.
“You don’t think I hate being me sometimes?”
There is pain in her eyes as she glares at me.
“You think I’m strong?” She scoffs.
“Well I’m not.”
Tears spring to her eyes but she refuses to let them fall, batting her eyes to make them all go away before she looks at me defiantly.It is only now that I realize what she means.
She hides…just like me.
It is time for both of us to come out of hiding.I can feel her heart fluttering in her chest, one beat after the next as neither one of us speaks.
Heat burns in my cheeks as she leans forward, her lips pressing up against mine in a gentle kiss.
A kaleidoscope of butterflies rushes through my body but I pull away before my mind turns to mush.
A puzzled look flickers in her eyes as I push myself up onto my knees, pulling her up into a sitting position.
My face turns bright red as I push her legs closed and spin her around so that her back is pressed against my chest.
“What are you-” in hales slowly, understanding that I prefer to see her past and show her mine than to speak.
“Okay,” she sighs, resting her head on my shoulder.
I lower my walls, allowing the river of her thoughts to flow into me and connecting our minds together.
Here goes nothing….
The darkness is oddly very soothing but it’s not long before I see a flash of white light and the sound of a small boy mumbling to himself.
Bracing myself to face Zane’s past, I slowly wander towards the light until I find myself in Zane’s old bedroom again.
Little Zane stands in front of a mirror, holding a small book in his hands.
He appears to be older here than in the last memory he showed me, perhaps 7 years old, but his bruises are still there.
“St-st-strength is to l-lead.St-st-strength is to…”
Zane pauses for a moment, wiping a few tears on his cheek.He takes a deep breath and looks hard at himself in the mirror.
“St-strength i-is to f-fight.”
His small hands tremble, his fingers gripping the book tightly as his frustration builds up.
“St-st-st…s-strength is to make what’s-“
The sound of the locks jingling at the door stops Little Zane in his tracks and he hurriedly closes the book and puts it back in its place on the bookshelf.
He runs his fingers through his hair and smooths out his shirt, making sure there’s not a hair out of place or wrinkle on his clothes.
Despite his split lip and bruised face, Zane forces a tiny smile to greet his father.
Sebastian’s cold gaze, however, makes Zane’s legs shake with fear and he swallows hard.
The same man as last time, Wyatt, I believe, stands behind Zane’s father, a solemn look in his eyes, although he forces a smile for Zane’s sake.
In his hands, Sebastian holds the pack tablet and with a cold voice, greets his son.
“With your mother dead and my allies and enemies thinking you are too, I no longer have any use for you.My wife, Sarah, has given me a new heir this morning,” he declares, a frown carved into his cheeks.
“And as my only son, on the day of his 21st birthday, Caine will take over as Alpha of the Scarlet Haven pack.”
My heart shatters when I see the tears forming in Zane’s eyes, but he does his best to contain them, biting his lower lip and accepting his father’s declaration.
How can he be so calm when his own father has just disowned him? Gamma Wyatt looks distressed for the little boy, but he does Sebastian holds out the pack tablet and instructs Zane to put his hand on the stone.
His small fingers timidly graze the carvings on the tablet but he flinches when his father grabs him by the wrist.
“I, Sebastian White, Alpha of the Scarlet Haven pack, demote you, Zane White, from Alpha to Omega.”