After declaring that I would fight alongside Ravenstone and translating the events to Agnes, she, Rionna, and Talia do their best to convince me otherwise, but I hear none of it.
Scarlett Haven has already taken so much from me and it appears they are not yet done taking from me.But no more.This war ends now.
Despite their best efforts, no one is able to convince me out of my decision, Queen Aurora calling for a recess and asking us all to go home and rest before making any more decisions.
Rionna asks for a room separate from Toran in the pack house and storms off but not before asking to see me again in the morning for breakfast.
I stammer, looking over at Agnes, who appears uncomfortable with my mother’s presence.
“Just breakfast…” Rionna smiles meekly.
“Please…I have so many questions…So many things I don’t know about you or myself…I just…I just want to know who I was and who you are…I nod silently, Rionna sighing with relief and stepping in for a hug, but I flinch away from her involuntarily.I feel bad almost instantly, but she seems to understand my reaction.We are strangers after all and she doesn’t know who I am “
“I look forward to breakfast…” She murmurs.
An omega comes to collect her and I watch her walk away, unable to believe she is actually still alive…still here after all these years.
With the meeting over, we collect Kota who is fast asleep with Evan, both of them snoring away in the middle of the floor surrounded by toy trucks.
Talia is silent as we walk back to the guest house, carefully holding Dakota’s head against her shoulder as he sleeps.
She ignores me when I try to hold her hand, anger radiating off of her as she picks up her pace and walks ahead of me.
Agnes can’t even look at me, staring ahead and pretending I don’t exist.I can hardly understand my own emotions at the moment, but Agnes and Talia’s silent treatments are not helping me sort them out any faster.
As we enter the house, Agnes storms off to her bedroom, slamming the door shut behind her and not giving me a chance to explain myself to her.
Talia is no different, going to Dakota’s room to tuck him in for the night and leaving me alone in our bedroom.My emotions finally start to pour out of my heart, flooding out of me in thick droplets.
My head feels as though it might explode from all the thoughts ricocheting like bullets against my skull, The drumming of my heartbeat grows louder and louder against my ears until all I hear is incessant thumping drowning out the world.
A tingling sensation ripples along my skin and my throat feels as though it’s closing up me.
Deep breaths, Grayson inhales slowly.
I mimic him and we both slowly let out the breath, repeating the process until my thoughts slow down.
For years, I had believed my mother was gone, her soul resting in the Kingdom of the Moon Goddess for all eternity.
After I was allowed to leave the pack house, I would sneak off to visit my mother’s grave on our birthdays, leaving flowers for her on Mother’s day and speaking to her tombstone for hours in hopes that she was listening to me and telling me it was okay to live without her.
I lost my voice the day she died.I had no one else to speak with freely, no one patient enough to care about what I had to say.
Seeing her now after all these years without a clue of what we’ve been through together is like losing her all over again.
As for Agnes, she came into my life, offering a sliver of hope through her kindness.
She took me in when no one else would, shielding me as best she could from all the pain I was feeling.
She never let her own pain shine through though, giving me all smiles and laughs when she was most likely shattered inside.
But it was all a lie…Her only goal was to kill me.
That’s not true and you know it , Grayson growls defensively, wanting to protect Agnes from my wrath.
She fost everything before coming to Scarlett Haven and despite facing the man who took her son, she saw you and turned the other cheek.
She chose had no choice in and you cannot hold it against her when she chose you.
You are only angry that she didn’t tell you sooner but she has likely been fighting every day with her conscience about it.
So don’t you dare judge her, Zane! Not after all the love she has given you! He huffs.
I sigh heavily, knowing he is right.I cannot judge her.
No matter how angry or confused I am, she is still the only person who cares for me in my darkest hours…She is still my mother.
Talia suddenly burst into the room, a look of disappointment on her face.
She does not say a word as she paces back and forth at the entrance and I sit silently on bed, bracing myself for her attack.
When it seems she is unable to process her own feelings, I rise to my feet and inch towards her in hopes of soothing her, but this only seems to infuriate her.
She steps around me toward the bed, grabbing a pillow and slamming it against the bed over and over again.She beats the mattress until her breath grows ragged in anger and I watch in fear as she screams in frustration.
When she finally loses fuel, she tosses the pillow off to the side and closes her eyes as she catches her breath.
“He called you Dad today,” Talia whimpers after a long pause, her voice broken.
She bends over to grab the pillow again and throws it at me.
“Kota called you Dad!” She snarls, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Did that mean nothing to you?” I stare atherdumbfounded.
It meant everything to me…
How could she not see that? throwing it at me.
“Then how could you?” she pants angrily.
“How could you offer yourself up for war like that? After claiming Kota…How could you leave him like that?” she cries.
“Tell me! Tell me how?” I swallow the lump in my throat, trying to form the words in my head but nothing spilling out of my mouth.
“I trusted you…” She whines, wiping her tears aggressively.
“I trusted you with my heart.With Kota’s heart.What am I supposed to tell him now?” She cries.
“What am I supposed to say? That you’re just leaving us for some war we have nothing to do with? That there’s a chance you might never come back? What am I supposed to do!” She shrieks.
“You are supposed to be his Dad.That is what you made me believe.How can you just leave him? He won’t understand it, Zane.He won’t understand why one minute he has a Dad and then the next minute, he doesn’t!” She weeps into her hands, her shoulders shaking violently with every sob.
I try to pull her into my arms and comfort her but she just swats away my hands.
“Don’t touch me! Don’t you dare touch me!” she shrieks, pushing me away.
But I know my touch is the only thing that’s going to calm her down right now so I grab her wrists to prevent her from pushing me away again.
“Zane, don’t you f*g touch me!”
She screams, thrashing I cup both of her cheeks, pressing my lips against hers to soothe her anger.
At first, she bashes her fists on my chest and shoulders, but as I suck on her lower lip, she slowly calms down.I feel her tears on my face as I kiss her, her body trembling in my embrace.
“Don’t- Don’t leave us…” she whimpers, wrapping her arms around my neck and pulling me closer.
“I just got you…Don’t leave me.Don’t leave Kota without his Daddy,” she sobs.
“Please.I’m begging you.Don’t go.”
For a moment, time stands still as I process her words, my heart beating a mile a minute.
Don’t leave us…
“I-I’m not le-leaving you,”
I whisper, my lips grazing hers.
“I-I’m fighting for y-you.For K-Kota.For Agnes.”
“But you’re-” I press my fingers on her lips to silence her.
“I-l don’t want to r-run…I-I don’t want y-you to live in fe-fear.
“I’m already running,” she argues.
“What’s a little more running? We can leave.We can go somewhere far away.Somewhere where no one can find us.We can be safe-“
“N-no,” I shake my head.
“N-no more run-runnning.Th-that’s not the li-life I-1 want for y-you or K-Kota.”
“I-I love y-you,” I blurt out, my heart in my throat as I confess eyes filling with tears.
“I-l love y-you and K-Kota.But I-I can’t love y-you in fe-fear.I-I can’t do th-that to you.P-p-please, p-please try to unders-stand.I-l am fi-fighting for y-you.”
“You don’t have to!” She cries.
“Y-you don’t kn-know my fa-fa-father, Ta-Talia,” I shake my head at her.
“He’s be-en at wa-war with Toran for ye-years.I-if he finds out m-my mother is still a-alive and that s-she’s married to his wo-worst enemy, h-he will stop at n-nothing to bring wa-war here.I-I can’t let that happen.I-l can’t let any ha-harm come yo-your way.I-I have to h-help Toran end this.”
“It’s not fair!” Talia snaps.
“This isn’t your war! Why do they have to drag you into it?” She snuggles up to my chest, squeezing me tightly as if to keep me with her forever…
And I would gladly stay by her side for all eternity.
“I-l won’t ta-take any un-unnecessary ri-risks,” I explain.
“I-I’ll follow all of Toran’s instru-instructions and be ex-extra careful when facing off with the Sc-scarlett Haven wolves and the K-King’s army.”
“Zane, this entire war is a risk,” She retorts.
“Nothing you do will be low risk.”
I know she is right but I am running out of ideas on how to calm her fears.What if we mark her? Graysonasks.
What if that helps to strengthen our bond so she’ll know we are okay? Perhaps we thoughts.
Maybe a mark will let us connect even further.
She doesn’t want to be marked though, I argue.And there’s no guarantee that a mark would make a difference for us.
We won’t know unless we ask, Grayson encourages.
Besides, if we die out there, I want to go out knowing my mate had my mark and that she knew I was thinking of her when I took my last breath.
You are so dramatic, I mutter, Grayson snarling at me.
Ask her, he demands and when I refuse, he threatens to take over.
Fine, I sigh, swallowing the lump in my throat and licking my dry lips.
“Wh-what if…wh-what if…” I stammer, feeling as though I have cotton in my mouth blocking my words.
“What if what?” Talia asks, her eyes twinkling with hope that I might give up on the idea of war.
“Wh-what if….I mark y-you?”
I pace around my room, unable to believe Toran is here.
After all these years, he came back and for what? To drag my poor Zane into his messy war? It boils my blood to think Zane paid the price for Toran and he joins the war.
But how do I convince him to stay? How do I tell him to not protect his little family? It’s all so frustrating! Not to mention the mixed emotions I felt when Rionna and Tylen walked in for the first time.I had never seen Rionna while I was at Ravenstone, Toran hiding her well with the masking spell but I knew who she was the instant she walked into the room.
She was the woman from the picture in Zane’s bag, the one Wyatt asked me to pack when we were removed from Scarlett Haven.
The look of devastation in Zane’s eyes when he realized his mother was not the same woman he knew all those years ago shattered my heart.He had loved his mother so much and now he is facing a shell of the person he once knew.
Moreover, I couldn’t help the tinge of jealousy that bubbled up in my chest when he agreed to meet her for breakfast, angering me because her presence shouldn’t bother me at all.
Zane, more than anyone, deserves answers and he deserves to be happy.
To add to my turmoil, I recognized Tylen the second I caught his scent, my wolf growing restless in his presence.
It was so hard to contain her as he looked at me, so hard to avoid his gaze.
He did not say a word, luckily, and for that, I am grateful.
I need to run, I tell myself as my feelings begin to cloud my heart…I need to feel the wind rush through my fur…I need to Having made up my mind, I tiptoe out of the house towards the woods, tucking my clothes near a tree and shifting into my little brown wolf, Cynthia.I sprint between the trees, attempting to out run my feelings.
The cold night air feels like a dagger tearing at my lungs, but I welcome the sensation, running faster into the dark void.
Finally, my legs grow exhausted as I reach a small stream and I stop for a drink, resting for a moment on the river bank to watch my reflection in the water.
My little wolf tilts her head and wiggles her ears when the gentle breeze carries a familiar scent.
I look up immediately to find Tylen’s wolf standing on the other side of the stream, staring curiously at me, but remaining calm and stoic.
Cynthia wants to run to him, but I have no interest in getting near the young wolf and slowly begin to back away.
Tylen’s wolf jumps across the stream and blocks my path to freedom, his wolf challenging me to escape.
When I remain motionless, the wolf shifts into his human form and I turn to shield my eyes from his naked body, feeling my cheeks heat up.
The young man taps me on my shoulder, sparks rippling across my body beneath his touch.
My body goes frigid, afraid to feel the impending rejection but he only smiles gently at me.
“Mate,” he spells out in sign, my eyes widening in amazement.
He chuckles at my reaction and amazes me even asks.I shake my head at him, his smile widening.
“My step-mother taught me,” he signs, a look of sadness in his eyes.
“She used to have dreams of a little boy who could not talk.It made her sad to see him struggle to speak so when she became Luna, she convinced my father to implement ASL as an unofficial second language for the pack.Many pack members were taught ASL so that no pup or pack member, for that matter, would ever feel left out and voiceless like the boy in her dreams,” he adds with a slight smile.
I do not know what to make of this revelation, unwilling to trust another Ravenstone wolf.
“I’m sure you have your reservations about my family,” he signs sheepishly upon seeing my hesitation.
“But if it’s alright with you, l-“
No, it’s not alright, I want to scream at him, slowly backing away.
My wolf tries to take command upon seeing the smile on his face fade away, but I do not relent and instead make a run for the trees.
Tears trickle down my cheeks as I leave my mate in the woods, but I refuse to stop running until I make it all the way home, shifting and tucking myself into the safety of my room.
I once had a mate and he was more than enough for a lifetime.I don’t need another.
AN: Apologies if you cannot see the previous author’s notes or have not read the blurb but this book is updated once a week, Saturday or Sunday PST.
I have a full-time job and am writing The Earth witch as well, so that is all I can manage in a week.Thank you for your patience.