Vanessa looks very relaxed and at ease as she sips her coffee and scrolls through her phone nonchalantly, completely oblivious that I am watching her.I haven’t seen her this relaxed since she first arrived at Silver Crest.
Her big green eyes shaded by thick lashes and the long brown hair framing her slightly round face give her an almost angelic look as she studies her phone.
I never noticed how innocent her features make her look.
She truly is beautiful, my wolf, Casper murmurs.
Beautiful…but off limits, Isigh, preparing to ruin her day.I’ve been tracking her now for several days, Vanessa spending most of that time holed up in a motel room.
She wasn’t hard to find since she used my credit cards for food and shelter, and while I could have easily cut her funds off, I did not have the heart to freeze my accounts.
Many times I wanted to storm into her room and hold her, but I knew better than to make my presence known to her so As I walk into the small diner by the lake, I notice Vanessa flinch, likely smelling my scent and feeling my presence.
When I approach her table and slide into the seat in front of her, she reluctantly sits up and takes another drink from her coffee before asking if I am here to kill her.I don’t answer her, my eyes lingering on Christian’s mark on her neck.
That should be my mark, Casper snarls, a bit of jealous rage pumping through my veins.
Noticing my stare, Vanessa brushes her hair over her shoulder to hide the mark and takes another drink.
“Do you know why I loved Christian so much?” she asks, settling into a comfortable position and when I don’t respond, she proceeds to answer her own question.
“He was the first person who ever saw me.He made me feel like I mattered and it felt good.It felt good to matter to someone.It felt good to just be enough for someone to take notice of me.I never got that growing up,” she sighs through a tired smile.
“I was always just a f**k up with a pretty face.Natalia was the smart one, the successful one.The one who made our parents proud…and I was just there to make the family portraits look good.” and it saddens me to think he meant more to her than she meant to him.
Where she appreciated and cherished every moment spent with him, he hardly ever thought of her and those trivial moments in class.
In all honesty, I hardly noticed her either, noting only her pretty face and nothing more.
How broken and deprived of attention must she have been to have fallen for Christian’s half-assed compliments and believed it to be love? She pauses as a waitress comes with a tray of food for her and asks if I want anything.
I shake my head and she dismisses the waitress before staring off at the shore of the lake.
“I was devastated the night Natalia called me to tell me she was getting married to the man I had fallen in love with…And I jumped at the opportunity to get back at her.To make her feel what I felt all those years.Sleeping with Christian…It was like I finally had something to offer.Something Natalia couldn’t give him,” she snarls bitterly.
“Did you think Natalia was at fault for all of your misfortunes?” I ask, wanting to know how a sister could be so eager to hurt her own family.
“Did she ever make you feel inferior? Did she deserve your resentment?” silently, her shoulders shaking with every small sob.
I watch her carefully, trying to understand her skewed anger for an innocent person.
As far as I can remember, Natalia was very patient with her sister, doing her best to keep her close and safe, yet even I could tell, neither of them knew each other too well.
Many of their interactions were often a bit awkward or even forced, as if a wall were keeping them apart.
“Natalia was always the favorite,” Vanessa finally whispers.
“I didn’t think she needed anything from me…She didn’t need to fight for our parents’ love.It was just given to her.Everything was just handed to her, while I-” She fights back her tears and shrugs.
“I couldn’t even get a ‘good job’ or an ‘I’m proud of you’.”
“You think she didn’t have any challenges?” I ask.
“You think it was easy being Luna for her?”
“Alpha Christopher despised her…Several members, myself included, did not think she could do it.” I retort.
“Nothing about being Luna was easy for her.”
“I thought…I just thought that-“
“You thought what? That your problems would just She nods, wiping away her tears with her sleeve.
“Sorry for what? Natalia or yourself?” I ask, knowing her answer will determine my decision and her fate.
“I-I don’t ….I don’t-“
She looks frantically around the diner as if in search of the best answer, but only she knows how she truly feels.
“I don’t know.I’m just sorry for everything!”
She finally snaps, slamming a fist on the table.
“I’m sorry I hurt her.I’m sorry I destroyed what little we had.I’m sorry I’m such a screw up who can’t do anything right.I’m sorry you got me for a mate.I’m sorry I exist!”
She throws her head on the table, shielding her face with her arms as she cries.
“I’m just sorry!”
A part of me understands her guilt for I have been living with mine for years.
I had not only stood by and done nothing to help Natalia, but I had also allowed Christian to spiral in silence.
It was only after his most recent kill that I alerted the elders and called for his removal.
How many lives would I have saved had I only spoken up sooner about his wolf going mad? Knowing Vanessa is not the only one who’s made but I can’t seem to bring myself to touch her.
Casper protests with whines but I do not dare act on my feelings.
“I am worthless…” Vanessa whimpers.
“And I was stupid to think I could ever have a happily ever after with a mate after what I did.I am not meant to be happy and I am too tired to figure out why…So I ask again, are you here to kill me?” I stare blankly at her, wondering if my love alone would be enough to fix what’s broken inside her.
“I don’t have much to live for at the moment and I’m too much of a coward to do it myself, so if you are, can I ask for a favor?” She asks in a small whisper, clasping her hands together anxiously.
“Can I hold your hand one more time? I just… I just want to feel the sparks again.”
There’s a tinge of hope in her voice and something inside me shatters knowing that the only thing she has left to live for right now is the prospect of feeling my touch one last time.
My eyes fall to her flat belly, wondering if the pup growing inside her would help her find peace.
She follows my gaze, her hands shielding her stomach protectively from my eyes.
Her voice trails off as she comes to the realization that she is pregnant, her arms wrapping around her torso protectively.
A small smile of hope curls on her lips before a look of absolute terror washes over her face.
“No…” She whimpers.
“No…please don’t! Please don’t hurt my baby! I-I promise I won’t come back to Silver Crest! I’ll leave for good, I promise.I’ll give Christain his divorce.I’ll step aside in peace for Natalia.I’ll do anything, please just…Just let me keep my baby! Please!”
Her cries draw attention from some of the other patrons in the room, several casting looks of concern towards us.I try to calm her down, but the more I attempt to do so, the more she panics.
“Nessa,” I hiss, keeping my voice low as Vanessa cries hysterically and begs for the life of her unborn child.
“I swear it’s not Christian’s.It won’t interfere with his plans!”she whimpers, clutching her stomach.
“Please, I’m begging you! Not my baby!”
Afraid someone may call the cops on us, I reach across the table to cup her cheeks, pulling her in for a kiss.
My lips tingle with sparks as Vanessa’s body relaxes and she melts into my kiss, allowing herself to just be mine for just.When I pull away, I stare deep into the sea of green looking back at me with fear, my own guilt and shame overwhelming my emotions for even considering hurting her.
For too long, I have let Christian’s mistakes slide, carrying out his orders without question like a good Beta and keeping silent about all his misdeeds.
I never said a word to Natalia about her sister and her husband’s betrayal and I regret not helping her then.I will not make the same mistake now.
“Christian has ordered me to terminate your pregnancy,” I whisper, fresh tears spilling onto Vanessa’s cheeks.
“But I won’t do it.I won’t hurt you, I swear,” I add with confidence, gently caressing her cheeks and enjoying the sparks tingling at my fingertips.
“You didn’t accept my rejection,” I murmur.
“Why?” She shrugs and I can sense it’s a lie but I don’t pry for an answer.I don’t care.I’m just glad she’s still mine.
“There’s an old cottage about 30 miles from Silver Crest,” I explain to her.
“It belongs to the pack and used to be an old meeting ground but we haven’t used it in years.You can hide there while I put together proof of your abortion.”
“But Christian-” assure her.
“You’ll be safe there until we can figure out other arrangements and I’ll be close enough to check up on you regularly.”
“It’s just a temporary arrangement,” I reiterate.
There is hesitation in her eyes but, regardless, she agrees.
I just hope I’m not making a mistake.
“Dr-dreams,” I whisper to Talia.
“K-Kota and his dr-dreams.”
Suddenly, Toran who has been silent up until now, sits up straighter in his chair, his eyes focusing on the child curled up in my lap.
“Explain,” he says, everyone now interested in what I have to say.
A tremor of fear ripples through me at the thought of addressing so many high ranking wolves at once.
My father’s words of disappointment and disgust fill my head, reminding as though it is full of cotton and my train of thought derails as I stare back at the room full of wolves expecting an answer from me.
Talia slips her hand into mine, squeezing my fingers to remind me that she’s with me and she won’t let me fall.She inhales deeply and I breathe with her, slowly letting the air out of my lungs in a long exhale.
I lick my dry lips and gather my thoughts for a moment, expecting Grayson to say a snarky comment, but he says nothing, wagging his tail patiently for me to speak.
“Ko-Kota’s dr-dream…i-it came tr-true,” I mutter, keeping my eyes on Talia, who nods proudly at me.
“You’re doing good,” she mouths, her gentle smile giving me the boost of confidence I need to face everyone.
“He…dr-dreamt of the atta-ta-tack,” I add, Kota looking up at me.
“He saw Ta-Talia get hurt.”
Everyone looks down at the small pup who suddenly becomes very shy and hides his face behind his stuffed wolf.
“Kota…” Aurora murmurs gently to the pup.
“Do you want to tell us about your dream?”
Kota says without hesitation, shaking his head Aurora accepts his answer but I can see she is already exploring his small mind, combing through his memories as well as Talia’s to piece the puzzle together.
“How long has he had those dreams?” Toran asks.
“Not long,” Aurora replies on Talia’s behalf.
“Seems to have started upon arriving at River Moon.They appear to be premonitions.Small clips of the future.” She says, squinting her eyes to focus.
“Very vague,” she adds, gesturing to her face.
“I can’t make out the faces he sees.They’re distorted but the voices are a bit easier to make out.”
She suddenly blinks very fast and seems to return to the present meeting.
“If premonitions are his gift, it looks to me like it was activated by stress.Moving here, Benoit’s attacks, etc.All of that could have played a role in why his gift is manifesting so early.That’s quite normal.My first two gifts were stress activated too.”
“I can’t remember Kota ever telling me about his dreams so I believe you might be right,” Gwen thinks aloud.
“Do you suppose Talia’s gift, if she has one, will activate with stress?”
“Only time will tell,” Toran answers.
“She could get it early like her son or after she shifts.” with the wolf, just hear her make noises.”
“Well you are new territory for us,” Alpha Patrick explains.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a human receiving a wolf out of the blue directly from the Moon Goddess and I can’t remember the last turning I witnessed or if it went well.”
“l’ve approved a few,” Toran sighs.
“Two failed, unfortunately and the humans perished.”
A shocked gasp escapes Talia’s lips and I glare at the old Alpha for speaking out of turn.
“It’s quite fascinating how Vampires and werewolves are pretty much the only creatures that can turn others.Demons, witches, faes…They’re all born the way they are and I don’t understand dragons enough to comprehend their mergings.All the books are confusing…but I wonder….Hmmm….There should be a passage in the Black Book about wolf turnings.Perhaps some of it may apply here,” Toran says, turning to ask Aurora for the book.
“Let me see,” he mumbles to himself as he flicks through the book, licking his fingers every few pages.
“Ah, here we are.” He proceeds to read aloud.
“The best method to turn a human into a werewolf is via inject hisIher own venom into their human partner through a bite or injection.Prior to a turning, the human should be marked by their mate to ensure a connection between the human and their future wolf can easily be established.Once a turning has commenced, it cannot be stopped or reversed as the venom will infect every cell in the body over the next 12 hours.When the infection process is complete, the new wolf should make its presence known to its human.The turning is officially complete at the start of the next full moon.On this night, the human and wolf soul fully merge and the first shift takes place.”
He closes the book and shrugs.
“Well that explains the noises in your head.A marking should clear that up for you.And if your turning is anything like a regular turning, you should be shifting by the next full moon,” he says, looking down at his watch.
“Oh Goddess! That’s a little more than a week!”
Aurora gasps, her large gold eyes widening with excitement.
“Just in time for the Night of Melodies! Talia, you could run with the new pack members!”
Talia blushes as she looks up at me, a hint of excitement in her eyes. howling at the thought of meeting his soulmate for the first time.
“I hate to interrupt such an intimate moment for you two,” Toran sighs.
“But there is the matter of Caine and Scarlett Haven that still needs to be addressed.”
My heart sinks to the pit of my stomach at the mention of my brother and former pack, my own excitement withering away to dread.
“You killed an Alpha’s heir protecting your mate, and while commendable, your actions have caused a huge problem,” Toran continues.
“But I have a plan,” he says leaning forward in his seat.
“If you’re willing to listen.”
Talia tightens her grip on my hand as her own fears take over her emotions and I kiss the back of her knuckles to calm her down and nod at Toran to proceed.
“Knowing your father, he will likely do one of two things.One, he will seek revenge on the person or persons responsible for the death of his son,” Toran explains, holding up a finger.
“Or two, with no other heir left to take over, he will crown you the Alpha of the Scarlett Haven Pack.”
“So what is your proposal?” Alpha Patrick asks with intrigue vindictive man.
Always has been and Alpha Sebastian is no different.
However, they are not idiots either.
Both of them are aware that these options have terrible consequences.
If King Arthur allows Sebastian to seek war with Ivory Phoenix, he’ll have yet another powerful opponent against him which will ultimately weaken him and his kingdom.
If Sebastian crowns Zane as an heir, not only does he not fulfill his end of the bargain with his wife’s former pack, Onyx Stone, but he also has to swallow that pride of his and accept an heir he’s still ashamed of.
Sebastian is prideful and unfortunately for him, you Zane, tarnish his reputation of being a brutal Alpha with your…timidness,” he says.
“So my suggestion is quite simple.Zane should come with me to Scarlett Haven to confess to his ‘crime’, demand his title as Alpha of Scarlett Haven and…accept my title as Alpha of Ravenstone.”