Six Months Later
“Does this ever get easier?” I gr0aned, swiping a hand over my forehead. A thin sheen of sweat clung to my skin, running from temple to temple.
There wasn’t one specific person I spoke to, rather the entirety of my friends and family that had gathered for this historical event. Naturally, my eyes strayed to my mate, the beacon that never once failed to lead me through the dark.
His lips quirked up at the side, eyes sparkling with significantly less shadows than before. He was slowly learning to forgive himself for the death’s of our pack members. “I wish I could say it does, but I’d be lying.”
Zeke let out a cheeky snort. Way to make her feel confident. You’ve got this, Lola. You’re a natural.
Breyona peeked her head from around Giovanni’s massive shoulder. “Besides, if you choke you can always work a little magic and make everyone forget about it.?
“Hah! With my luck I’ll get a little too magic happy and make the whole pack forget about me.” A genuine chuckle slid past my lips as my friends continued with their playful banter. I was quickly pulled into the arms of my mate, whose embrace I accepted with a blissful sigh.
His lips skimmed my ear, brewing all sorts of thoughts that were not suited for tonight’s events. Zeke’s right, though. You were meant for this. You won’t choke. After al, look at all you’ve accomplished.”
I placed my hand against his taut chest, tapping the thick pad of muscle I felt just below his shirt.
All that we’ve accomplished.” I corrected him. “
I would’ve never been able to do this without you.”
Asher looked as stunning as ever, playing the part of Alpha to near perfection. He, like the rest of us, were dressed in a mixture of both professional and casual attire. While we needed to step into our roles tonight, we also needed to present an air of comfort and unity to make the Witches and Vampire’s in audience feel right at home.
After all, it wasn’t just a few Witches and Vampire’s in audience.
It was all of them. Well, almost all. Those who wanted to voice their opinions, lend their hand in shaping this new future that would cater to us all, stood in attendance.
Truthfully, I couldn’t have done any of it without the help of two unlikely allies.
I swear, that child gets all her sass from you, Ember. Angelica used to be a sweet, docile thing before you got to her.” Tessa scolded her sister as the two of them entered the room.
Ember kicked the door shut behind her with the sharp heel of her boot, and began to take in the contents of the room with a hand propped on her h!p. A quick flick of her eyes over the velvet furniture, hand-woven rugs, and paintings hung in golden frames, was all she needed before c0cking a sculpted eyebrow at her sister.
Please, do you even know Angelica? She’s never been sweet or docile. The kids a menace.” Ember exclaimed with a suspicious amount of warmth to her voice. Paired with the cocky tilt to her lips one might assume she almost liked Angelica.
She’s not the only menace I know.” Tessa shot back, not an ounce of venom in her voice. Her eyes skimmed the room seconds later. She let out a small sound of appreciation. This place is beautiful.”
The room we stood in was one of many at the Seven Springs Country Club. While everything was a bit extravagant for my tastes, it was the only place big enough to hold a meeting this size.
Compared to the pack-wide announcement we had well over a year ago, revealing the truth about our alliance with the Vampire’s, this was the biggest event our kind has ever held.
I approached the twins with radiant warmth. Six months ago, I had a long list of suspicions and doubts but one-by-one these girls managed to cross them all off. We weren’t yet best-friends, but I could see the road we walked down and knew that with time and patience, I’d eventually trust these two with more than just my life.
I’m so glad you two made it in time.” I beamed, truly relieved.
Ember sniffed, flipping her thick mane of fire- k!ssed hair over her shoulder. “Well, as the ambassador’s of the Witch community we couldn’t very well miss tonight, could we?”
A laugh rumbled in my chest. Even though she’d sooner lock herself in a dark room with Brandon than admit it (her words, not mine), I knew she was becoming just as fond of me as I was of her.
Tessa’s soft eyebrows matched that of her smile.
Ever the diplomatic twin, she reached out and grabbed my hand, giving it a quick squeeze. We wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Before the conversation could truly take off, the door opened once more. Asher’s Beta, who had been on leave these past six months doting on his pregnant mate, peeked his head into the room.
It’s show time folks.” He drawled, flashing me a gruff smile as though he could see the raw nerves throbbing beneath my veins.
I let out a sharp breath and shook out my hands, visualizing the stress leaving my body in heavy waves. It would never cease to amaze me how I’d rather be neck-deep in battle than speak in front of a crowd. But hey, we all had our weaknesses.
Asher and I stepped out into the hall, our entourage following closely behind. It was there, beneath the sloped ceilings and crystal chandeliers that we met up with Tristan and Holly.
Tristan, who I had recently denounced as my first -in-command, greeted me with a warm smile.
Seeing as he and my sister were now an item, I figured I should no longer come as his first priority.
Holly was still a Princess, after all. And a Princess deserved a mate that would look after her and her alone. Which is exactly why I promoted Tristan to Head of the Royal Guard.
Only instead of protecting me with his life, he’d protect my sister.
The two of them looked the part. Tristan, with his navy button down and dark slacks, matched the sparkly cocktail dress Holly had on, one that showed her lithe figure and subtle curves.
“Are you ready for this?” She asked in her soft, melodic voice.
After spending the last six months with an actual therapist, she had grown in strength. Her entire demeanor had changed, and it was truly a sight to see. She no longer hid from the world and had even found friendship in Clara.
I bumped my elbow into hers, returning the friendly smile she flashed me. As ready as I’ll ever be “
“She’s going to do amazing, and she knows it.
Doesn’t hurt that she has a bunch of Witches, Vampire’s, Werewolves, an Alpha, and a Princess backing her up. Clara chimed in, a vision in her sea foam maxi dress. When paired with her dark skin and curly hair, it made her look she’d emerged from the very depths of the ocean.
Mason, with his matching button down, had an arm wrapped around her waist. The haunted light that came with losing your fated mate was nowhere to be seen. In fact, he looked more at ease than anyone else here. Catching my eye, his lips quirked up in his usual cheeky grin, one I couldn’t help but return.
I believe it’s time. Unless, you want to be late to your own event. Tristan said smoothly, tilting his head towards Asher’s Beta, who waited by a set of towering double doors.
Doors that would lead outside, to the massive crowd I knew was waiting.
Nothing could’ve prepared me for how many heads there were. It was all too easy to see them all considering we had to carve a path through the crowd to make it to the very center of the field.
Technically, the neatly trimmed grass that surrounded us was the country club’s golf course. All twenty-seven holes were packed with people. Since things were still a bit rocky, the crowd was divided by species, each cluster set with their own handful of guards for protection purposes.
It was our goal that someday the crowd merge as one.
Asher and I led the way, following a path of silver silk laid on the ground to the very center of the field. Since it was the dead of night, lamp posts wrapped in ivy sat scattered throughout the grass. Behind us was Holly and Tristan, followed by Breyona and Giovanni, Zeke and Tessa, and then the others.
There was no stage waiting for us. I didn’t want to stand above the masses, to look down on them as though they were beneath us all. What I wanted was for them to see that regardless of species, we were all equals here.
Several feet in the air was a large screen that would soon feature all of our faces. The speakers scattered throughout the entirety of the golf course would ensure our voices were heard far and wide.
My skin prickled from the sheer number of eyes turned our way. There was always the risk of this ending badly, but surrounding ourselves with an army of armed guards would not support the idea that this meeting was to discuss terms of peace and unity.
Each one of us had a head set with a microphone that would cast our voices across the sea of people. There wasn’t a single one of us more important than the next, and tonight would prove that. Every voice, every idea, every suggestion, would all be heard.
Squaring my shoulders, Asher and I led the others into the circular clearing where finally, history would be made.
Asher and I stood front and center, while the others formed a half circle around us. For several minutes, chatter rippled throughout the crowd.
Waves were thrown left and right, which we reciprocated with equal enthusiasm. Once the excitement died down, I spotted an opening and promptly took advantage of it.
Welcome, everyone. We cannot thank you all enough for coming here tonight.” I said warmly, sweeping my arms out at my sides.
The heat that was Asher’s presence loomed over my shoulder. I craned my head to look up at him, flashing him an intimate smile as he stepped forward and bellowed his own welcome.
‘Never before has an Alpha had the honor of welcoming so many into his pack. No matter where the future might take us, this is a moment I will not forget. Everyone here, regardless of your background, will be treated with the same respect as a pack member. Should any issues arise, I ask that you come directly to me. Now, with that out of the way, I’m going to let my incredible mate, and Queen to quite a few of you, take the stage.”
Wiping my sweaty palms on my dress, I took a deep breath and let my thoughts and emotions flow freely.
Today is the first day we work towards the future- -a future that not only see’s all three of our species as equals, but as allies, as friends.
Many injustices have been committed against your kinds, against Vampire’s and Witches’, and as much as I wish I could, I cannot erase the past.
What I can do is promise that tonight it ends.” I bellowed.
I paced the length of the circle marked as our stage, looking each and every person in the audience in the eye, taking them all in and seeing them for who they truly were. The camera projecting our faces onto the big screen swiveled as I moved. Vampire’s stared out at me, both dark and pale-skinned. Witches, with eyes sparkling with magic, gifted me their full attention. Werewolves, wearing various levels of shock on their faces, watched with rapt interest.
“As you all can see, my friends and I here have many differences. We come from different backgrounds and have endured a wide array of things, but not one of us is more deserving of compassion and respect than the next. I don’t expect this to be easy. In fact, I expect it to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I won’t give up.
I will earn your trust every single day that I choose to fight for you, and for your right to live in the way that you see fit.
An eruption of cheers spouted from all sides, from all corners of the field. It rippled over each and every one of us, thickening the air with something sweet-something that felt an awful lot like hope. As it died down, I addressed the crowd a third time.
Love, no matter it’s source, is always welcome. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you all to my friends. Hear their voices, their stories, and know that each and every one of us are on your side, “
I retreated into Asher’s arms, winding our fingers together as Holly and Tristan took center stage.
Pride swelled in my chest as my once timid little sister spoke to a crowd of thousands. With her chin held high, Holly told her story, leaving nothing out. Afterwards, an eruption of cheers sounded. Next came Tristan, who earned every single shout, clap, cheer, from the Vampire’s in the crowd.
Breyona and Giovanni came next. My best-friend spoke with such emotion, unraveling the secrets behind what was once a forbidden love. There wasn’t a single dry eye in the crowd. After Giovanni’s turn, it was time for Tessa and Zeke to take the stand.
One-by-one, my friends shared their stories, the mistakes that they’ve made along the way and the displays of bravery they showed that ultimately led us to where we were today. Every single emotion was evoked until both the sharp sting of grief, and the warmth that was joy, rippled amongst the crowd.
As each one finished, they took a stand beside the other, until we were all side-by-side.
To the future..” I shouted, thrusting my fist into the air. “…where every story matters where every story will be heard.”
A split second of silence rang out before the explosion that was thousands of Vampire’s, Witches’, and Werewolves ‘ cheering. One-by- one, their fists were raised, k!ssing the stars and the moon that looked down on us all.
And finally, history was made.