#Chapter 12 Relect My Mate
Garrick disappears in a wisp of smoke and i duck down behind the sofa’s backrest, choking on my s**s. The door slams shut, and I hear the thud of heavy paws against wood floors. The wolf rounds the sectional, shaking off excess water as he prowls toward me
I cower away from Bastien as he approaches, clamping my eyes shut when he’s near enough for me to feel the heat of his breath on my face
I expect growls and pain, instead feel the pillows dip beneath me, and then a huge furry body nudging me away from the backrest and taking its place. I peek one eye open, to make sure I’m actually feeling what I think I am. Bastien‘s wolf has wound himself around my body like a furry blanket, so much larger than me in this form that I’m completely encircled.
He’s still herding me into position, prodding and nuzzling until I relax against him, leaning into his warmth and using his shoulder as a pillow. His fur is damp but I don’t care, the quilt around my body shields me from the cold, and my face is already soaked with tears
When I finally submit fully, Bastien settles his head in my lap and begins to emit a soft rumbling noise. If he were a cat shifter I’d call it a pure, but whatever its name, nothing soothes me more. My panic over the storm begins to recede, and my fears about Arabella and my future trail in their wake.
in the end all I’m left with is my sorrow over losing Bastien. When it too begins to fade I struggle slightly, fighting to hold onto the sender feelings. I don’t want him to lull this away. I want to feel every second of the ache, the evidence of the love I never thought i would feel again, the love that gave me my baby.
But he doesn’t let me hold onto it. He washes it away with everything else, until I’m hovering on that hazy plane between waking and sleep, the storm entirely forgotten.
Ten Years Earlier
The rebels came at dawn, storming the rocky plateau beneath Nova Hall to gain entrance to the city. They poured into the streets of Elysium, breaking off into roving bands of marauders as they hunted fo those they had been paid to call enemy.
The mercenaries had been promised a fierce battle and plentiful spoils to loot, instead they found a deserted metropolis. The Novans were nowhere to be found the mountain refuge was as silent and still as a grave.
We watched them scurry like ants through the city‘s serpentine pathways, looking down from our perch high above the valley Pack enforcers and sentinels gathered at the mouth of the alpine tunnels, blocking all paths to the emergency shelters where the paok took refuge
I stood at the helm by my father, feeling every bit of his anger, betrayal, and anguish. I was 16, old enough to fight but too mexperienced to truly understand the horrors awaiting me in battle. The pack Beta and Gamma were positioned at our shoulders, my father’s night and left hands: Donavon and Griffin, and my own Beta and Gamma in training: Alden and Flynn
I was never close to my uncle growing up, but his betrayal cut me to the bone. My father was harsh when he needed to be, but always loyal always loving The idea that his own brother should move against him was unthinkable. I was rabid with the need to protect my pack, no matter our opponents. I was raring for a fight, eager to test my strengths in battle – and my best friend paid the price
Flynn was like a brother to me he was the son of a pack enforcer and the perfect counterbalance to my dominance and aggressen Whele Alden was playful and fair Flynn was quiet and logical i needed them both, but Flynn was always first by my side
His parents died when he was 14, so my father took in Flynn and his younger sister, Arabella. From the time she could walk, Astella went wherever yn did. I used to call her his title shadow she was always there, nipping at his heels.
to our canks
though her for lack of wing she’d wanted to join us in the fight, she even atten:pted to sneak
# Chapter 121 Relect My Mate
Sometimes I think she sensed what was going to happen.
My uncle appeared to have finally figured out where we were, rerouting the attack up the mountain. As their gray bodies disappeared from the streets and into the trees, father howled a rallying cry, and the charge began.
The clash of apex predators is never pretty, and that first battle has been scalded into nightmares: Fangs and claws tearing through fur, muscle and flesh; bones cracking, blood splashing and limbs hanging by a thread.
As father fought my uncle, I tackled the alpha leading the mercenaries. He was my first kill – but he would not be my last. I hurtled through the trees, trailing carnage with my men.
We warred until the sun was high overhead, until the forest where I’d spent my youth was little more than a graveyard. Flynn, Aiden and I were circling fallen bodies on a jagged cliff, checking for survivors when it happened.
One of the mercenaries we believed to be dead was playing possum, and when my back was turned he lunged. Aiden and I never saw him coming, but Flynn did. My best friend threw himself into the wolf’s path, the force of his assault so great that they were both propelled over the side of the cliff.
Aiden and I watched Flynn tumble to his death, all the while knowing it should have been me.
Whatever was left of our youth died that day, we would never be the same again.
As I watch Selene sleep, so fragile and innocent in my arms, I think of Arabella laying in her hospital bed. Whatever happened between them, my little wolf does not possess the strength to overpower the other woman, especially not in her weakened condition.
I believe Arabella thinks she was pushed, but perception and fact are two very different things. Nonetheless her pain was real, and seeing her in such a state brought back every horrible memory of Flynn’s death.
That day I vowed to care for Arabella as I knew my friend would, to provide for her and keep her safe. It’s my fault she was left alone in the world, and therefore my responsibility to help her find her way in life. Before Selene, I thought about marrying her, despite the fact that she was more like a sister to me than anything else.
I already planned on supporting her financially, and some part of me imagined that it would make Flynn happy to see us together. I missed him so terribly that I think I hoped I might feel closer to him through her,
Then one rainy night I found a little wolf in a tree, and all my plans for the future went out the window. I knew she was my mate the moment I saw her, and though I still support Arabella, any thoughts of marrying her went by the wayside then and there.
I‘ve confided in Arabella over the years, so much so that she returned to Elysium to lend me a shoulder when I found out about Selene‘s true love. When we first married, I knew there was an uphill battle ahead. I knew she lost her wolf, I knew she could not feel our bond, but I hoped she would love me in time.
Three years. That was our agreement.
It had all seemed so logical at the time, now I’d like nothing more than to go back in time and kick myself in the pants. I was crazy to think I would ever be able to give her up. Though I‘ve done as my father advised and refrained from claiming my mate completely, keeping my distance hasn’t prevented me from becoming addicted to her,
Healthy and free, Selene blossomed, surpassing her own beauty with every new day. She has become a veritable siren, one whose song i would gladly drown myself to hear. She is a tapestry of contradictions: pure yet haunted, vulnerable yet resilient, aloof yet sweetly submissive. She is impossible to ever know completely, and her mystery is as hypnotizing as her eyes.
I know now that I would have fallen in love with her even if she were not my fated mate.
But now I have to let her go,
The day before our anniversary i’d been planning on proposing a vow renewal to Selene. Our marriage had been a contract, but I wanted it to be real – permanent. I thought she was happy, I was foolish enough to believe she loved me.
I was on my way to pop the question when I heard her on the phone with her friend Lily. I stood outside her study, at first pausing to simply enjoy her melodic voice, then freezing when I realized what she was saying
“Yeah, I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon but I should be free by four,” She began, pausing to listen to her friend’s response. “I think i have to try. I mean, I’ve been in love with the man since I was five years old.. Selene trailed off. “I don’t want to make things difficult, but he’s everything to me.”
My heart, so full moments before, stopped beating. Nausea rose in my stomach, and my insides slowly hardened to stone. I didn’t understand, if she was already in love with someone when we met three years ago, why didn’t she tell me?
“I know. You’re right.” Selene stated gloomily, “I’m just going to have to learn to live with it. After all, I’ve survived worse, right?”
If hearing Selene talk about loving another man turned me to stone, listening to her speak about our marriage as if it is something to be survived reduced me to dust.
I couldn’t let her stay just to appease me.
Often, being an Alpha means sensing what your pack members need and doing what is best for them, whether they like it or not. With Selene – who battles so much complex trauma with the emotional tools of a ten–year-old – I’ve found myself frequently walking this line.
This was no different. Selene couldn’t bring herself to reject me, so I did it for her.