After eight years in a veritable dungeon, I thought freedom was escaping to Elysium.
After spending three years married to a man who didn‘t love me and obligated to help lead a pack of shifters who hated me, thought freedom was finding my independence in Asphodel.
After nearly four years of living without my wolf, I thought freedom was getting her back when I became a mother..
I was wrong every time.
This is freedom. Transforming, releasing my soul and setting her loose – that is the freedom I‘ve been missing my entire life. Running on all fours through the rolling Vega hills with no map and no limitations, no hurdles to jump or weights slowing me down. it’s adrenaline like I‘ve never experienced.
I don‘t care that I‘m not in the forest, or that it‘s broad daylight. I don‘t care that I‘m still getting used to four legs and a tail, which makes my loping strides significantly less graceful than Bastien‘s. The truth is that I don‘t have a care in the world.
Even my concern for Lila has been dampened amidst this incredible high, partly because I now recognize the wisdom of removing her from the scene of my shift, and partly because I simply cannot bring myself to feel anything but happiness in this moment.
Bastien runs alongside me, hanging back to keep pace with me rather than running miles ahead as he could. Luna couldn‘t be more thrilled, as far as she‘s concerned, the only thing better than being free, is being free with Bastien,
Her response to the Alpha has been very illuminating for me. I‘m beginning to understand how the mating bond can drive shifters mad, or destroy relationships between chosen mates. If Luna had her way I would be back in Bastien‘s bed already, but fortunately for us, I have not forgotten our past.
He can try to rewrite our story as many ways as he wishes, but the fact remains he had his chance with me, and he wasted it
Selene‘s pearly white coat stands out against the deep green hills like the moon in darkened skies Watching her streak over the dales in a blur of snowy limbs, I don‘t even mind glowing my pace to run next 10 her She‘s more ecstatic than I‘ve ever seen her, completely lost to the thrill of freedom and finally experiencing the joy she so richly deserves
It always plagued me to know she could not shift. Every full moon run for which she was left behind, every equinox she spent at home rather than in the forest – she never complained, but I know how it hurt. After all, the instincts were still there, she just didn‘t have the abilities to satisfy them
So for all the pain of last night, this is so worth it. Her transformation was harrowing to say the least When we get back I have every intention of calling my mother to thank her for seeing me through the process when I was a young teenager If my little mate could do that amount of damage to the safehouse, I can only imagine how much of the house I destroyed
The destruction wasn’t even the difficult part, it was watching someone you love go through such unbelievable agony. I‘m glad I was there for her, particularly because I wasn‘t when she gave birth. No matter how hard I try to put the thoughts from my mind, I can‘t help but wonder who was there. If Lila is mine – though Selene insists she isn‘t – it should have been me. Even if Lila isn‘t mine, hope she didn‘t face it alone.
When we finally reach a stopping point, namely when Selene has run so far she can no longer make her legs work, she collapses in a puddle of worn out wolf, a goofy grin on her face. I settle next to her, stretching out on the cool ground and waiting for her energy to be replenished enough to head back.
It happens slowly Little by little the elation that has dominated her aura since waking up as a wolf slips away, and I have a sense of terrible foreboding that our brief detente is coming to a close.
How much of last night do you remember I ask, wondering if she was lucid enough to recall our argument about Arabella and matehood I still don‘t understand where her misconceptions came from, or why she was so distraught. After all, she was in love with someone else throughout our entire marriage, so why did it bother her so much to think I didn‘t love her?
There are so many more questions left to answer, but I know one thing for certain – regardless of any misunderstandings, my mate felt unloved, and that is my fault and my fault alone. It can’t be explained away or justified, I failed to make my feelings for her clear
Not much. She replies stiffly.
Our conversation? I prompt.
I remember you telling me to let Lila go with Aiden. She offers, Thank you, by the way, after seeing the house this morning... well I‘m glad she wasn‘t there.
Of course. I‘ve checked with Aiden a couple of times through the night using our mental links. He always reported the same news, she’s out like a light.
So you don‘t remember anything else? I press.
The white wolf eyes me warily, Should I?
Disappointment consumes me, I really thought we‘d made a breakthrough. A few years ago I wouldn‘t have worried about her forgetting. I would have simply sat her down and rehashed the conversation from the start. Even if Selene was still as pliable as she‘ d been back then, I‘m coming to realize I might not have known half as much about my marriage as I thought I had.
How many of our discussions back then were colored by rumors and misunderstandings, how did we get to such a low place that my wife would turn to Drake instead of me? How little did she have to trust me that she would run from a burning building and walk two weeks through rogue territory rather than come home.
Well, I know the answer to at least part of that. I never thought you kidnapped Arabella you know.
What? She blinks, taken aback.
I was just trying to appease the enforcers for long enough to find Bella. I explain. I knew she‘d clear you once we did. The fact is wanted you under guard because I was afraid you would be the next target.
I told you I don‘t want explanations. Selene retorts. Then, looking curious, where did you find her anyway?
An abandoned home in old town. I share, struggling to recall those horrible months after Selene supposedly died.
Did you ever catch the person responsible? There‘s an odd note of sarcasm in her voice.
The same person who was sabotaging everything else, I expect. Breathing a heavy sigh I continue. They‘re still out there somewhere, still trying to pull the strings and wreak havoc, but I‘ve gotten much better at anticipating their moves.
How can you be sure they were related? She asks in that same odd tone.
There was never a ransom, what other explanation is there but to cause terror? I reason.
She‘s silent for a moment, before her head c***s to the side; a worried, rather than curious expression on her furry face. Did you announce your trip here?
I shrug. The pack knows I’m in Asphodel, but they don‘t know why.
Selene‘s body twists up like a tightly wound string, Is there any way word might have gotten back that I‘m alive?
Shaking my head emphatically, I elaborate, The only people that know are my sworn allegiants, they wouldn‘t do so without my go ahead.
But if this person is still trying to sabotage you, couldn‘t they have followed you here? Selene proposes. You‘d be an easier target outside of Elysium.
Sweetheart, I do know how to spot a tail. I remind her, we weren‘t followed.
But Selene is on her feet. I want to go back.
You should take a little more time to catch your breath. I frown.
No, I want to get back to Lila. She argues. How do we get back to the safehouse from here?
Lila is fine. I assure her, Aiden says she slept through the night no problem.
Bastien, I said I want to go back. Selene urges, I don‘t like being this far from her, especially knowing there are still criminals running around out there trying to destroy your life.
What would Lila have to do with any of that? I latch onto the implication instantly. If she isn‘t mine then she shouldn‘t be in any danger
Oh please! Selene scoffs. You won‘t even believe me, why should they? Besides, as long as you refuse to accept reality, you‘ll react as if she is yours, which means she‘s good as bait regardless of her paternity.
Then the fastest way to eliminate her as bait would be for you to tell me who her father is. I suggest. Then I‘ll drop it and she‘ll be safe.
Are you really using my child‘s safety as a bargaining chip? She hisses. It‘s none of your goddess–damned business who her father is, because she is none of your business, nor am I.
A predatory thrill racing through me, I close in on my target. This is how it‘s going to be, little wolf. I announce, I‘ll tell you how to get back to the safehouse, as soon as you tell me who Lila‘s father is. You can tell me, or we can stay out here all day, and all night.