Jo-anne was really happy to hear that Heath was going to be alright, he had somehow managed to get better. She had nearly hugged West when he had told her the news. Had refrained herself from doing so, she had not made her choice yet. She also knew that he had been here to tell her as her Alpha, not her Mate.
She mind-linked to Maree and told her the good news, seemed really happy to hear it too. Was also happy to hear that if he was still better in 24 hours, West would allow her and Marie to go and see him. Heard her sister thank her for all she had done, to help them. Then, after a moment of silence, she heard her apologise for her own mother’s actions against her.
Jo-anne sighed, it was not up to them to apologise for the things Karen had done, they had not been involved, but she did accept the apology from Maree, knew it would make the girl feel better in some small way.
She sat and drank a cup of tea, and thought about last night. Most of her memories were fuzzy but she understood that Alpha Jayden had tried to force her to submit to him and his wolf, knew that if they had he’d have Marked her. The man had given his word to her that he wouldn’t do it again.
West had tried to stop him, whether that was because he wanted her for himself, or because it would stop her from being allowed to make her own choice, she didn’t know. Knew that in some weird a*ss way she and Clova had become a united front, so to speak, and were one being at some point.
Everything about them had been aligned, their emotions, their actions, their words. They had both lashed out and fought back together.
Alpha Jayden had broken his word, couldn’t it seem, even give her a few days, had tried to Mark her, that first morning, when she’d barely even survived the night, had died and come back, been told she had two Mates and then there he was trying to take her choice away. And then again, last night it had literally only been 2 days and twice he’d tried to make her his. She did understand he was an Alpha Male, but it was still supposed to be her choice, not his.
Jo-anne did not actually believe either of them were the choice she had to make, so there was no rush on it as far as she was concerned, and two days was not enough time for her to make that choice.
Sat and stared into her tea cup as she gently swirled it around and watched as a few of the tiny tea leaves that had escaped the tea strainer moved about in there, swirled around in the water, zoned out a little trying not to think of anything other than how to free T.J. from being her protector.
Zoned out completely at one point, saw a whitish glow around the room and looked up thinking she was back with the Goddess. Perhaps she’d come to help again, provide more information. Saw Ella standing with T.J. and smiled, hadn’t even heard him come into the room.
Watched him slide his arms around her very swollen belly. She was pregnant and heavily so.
Shot to her feet, blinking rapidly, turned her eyes to Ella, who asked her what was wrong, looked at the girl, really looked at the girl, she was not pregnant, shook her head felt really weird, “It’s nothing I think I just like day dreamed or something.” she sank back down, but looked right at the girl and tilted her head.
“Nothing is just silly day dreaming.”
She had to talk to T.J., needed to see what he made of all this, sighed and got up looked down at Ella. “I have to go and tell T.J. and West about the Goddess stuff. They both saw me react when I looked up ripping into myself. I think I need to explain that.”
“What did you see just now?”
“Yes, your eyes kinda went White like Belinda’s did, when she peered into my mind.”
“Yes, I think you can see, like she can. What did you see?”
Jo-anne smiled at the girl, “You very pregnant, I mean. Like out here.” she held her arms out to indicate a very swollen belly. “T.J. was rubbing your belly. You two looked very happy.”
Saw Ella chuckle, and shake her head, “well he did tell mother he’d get right on that the minute we were Marked and Mated. Guess he meant it.” seemed happy about it, in fact. “Do you want me to come with you?”
Did Jo-anne? It would be nice to have someone there for moral support. “Sure might be good for T.J, he might need you when he hears what I have to tell him.”
They walked down the stairs together. Ricky was trailing them, and she found West, T.J. and Cole in his office. The door stood open, knocked on it softly. He looked up from his desk and smiled at her gently, “Come in, Jo-anne, you don’t have to knock.”
She just nodded and walked into the room, looked at Cole and Ricky, bit her l!p and asked them if she could have a moment alone with just West and T.J., “of course Luna,” Ricky nodded and the two of them walked out the room and closed the door, still called her that, a bit hard to get used to.
“What’s wrong, Jo-anne?” West asked from behind his desk.
“Um, can I get you and T.J. to come and sit here? I have something to inform you and I don’t know, what you’ll think of it.”
Actually saw West’s whole body tense up. “No, it’s not that West.” she told him quickly, realising he thought she was about to reject him. “I haven’t made that choice yet, I can’t at this point. Need to tell.” her eyes moved to T.J. “T.J. about why reacted the way I did when I woke up the other night.”
Saw him visually relax, she sat herself in one of the single chairs and watched as Ella went and sat on the couch next to T.J. slipped her hand right into his, saw him smile at her, and tears welled almost instantly, looked up at the ceiling for a minute to try and stop them falling, took a long deep breath in and let it out, slowly, felt Wests hand touch hers gently
“Take your time, Jo-anne.” he said softly.
She looked at him, so patient with her, not even once tried to Mark her and she knew he was a possessive creature if ever there was one. He was definitely a very different person from before. She still saw shades of that man, but not in the past two days.
“West, did you rescind your orders on me or did my death null and void them?” she suddenly asked him, had wondered about it?
“I rescinded them all in the hospital after I found out you had two Mates. Why?”
“Curious was all.” she nodded. It was nice to hear he’d thought about it. “I’m sorry West.”
“What for?” he asked curiously with a raised eyebrow.
“For what Karen did to you.. l wish I could find away to go back in time and stop it. To save you from me”
“You did not do this to us, Jo-anne. I do not blame you for our past. I’m still confused as to how you can forgive me, for my miss deeds though.”
Jo-anne shrugged “I have had therapy and talked it all out for years, in fact West. You and I, both of us, didn’t want to be in that bond to each other, we both had our own issues to deal with over it, and we both dealt with it in our own way. I retreated into myself and you, well, were angry. I knew nothing of how demanding Karen was on you, or your family. I paid no attention to the woman at all. I’m sorry she was terrible to you and your family. Please don’t think on it anymore, I don’t really think about it anymore, don’t need to. I’m not that same person anymore, and.. I don’t think you are either. You’re different, I see that. Though prior to being my Mate you were still.”
“An a*ss-h0le.” he nodded “Sorry I just…”
“Knew what I was to you, so still possessive. I get it.” she nodded and she did he’d always been like that, probably always would be.
“Please forgive yourself, I have forgiven you.”
“I need to understand it, Jo-anne, before I could even being to try and forgive myself.”
“We can work on that,” she nodded. Turned her eyes to T.J., the man she’d actually come here to talk to, took a breath. “I’m sorry T.J., for your part in my life as well.”
“Why on earth would you say that? I love you Jo-Jo.” he was frowning at her, confused as to why she would be apologising to him.
“I know you do T.J., but.there is a reason why you do, and it’s not fair to you.”
“What’s not fair?”
“That mark on your arm, and the one on my back, connects us.” she sighed “When I died. Not only saw Selena the moon Goddess, she spoke to me. Actually said she had been waiting on me for some time, apparently. She told me, my birth mother asked for someone to protect me when I was born. You were chosen by the Goddess for that task “
“I’m fine with that Jo-Jo,” he shrugged.
“l am not. I want you released from me, from being my protector.”
“Why, Jo-Jo?” he frowned at her again.
“Because T.J.” felt tears well in her eyes again.
“She had to strip you of your Goddess-Gifted Mate, to become my protector, You’re Mate-less because of this.”
“Why would she need to do that?” he shook his head.
“She told me to protect me fully, there could only be room in your heart for one. For you to protect me properly, there could be no other distraction. I guess.”
“Well, that’s just bullshit, Jo-Jo. I love you and I love Ella. So that is crap.”
“It’s what she told me T.J., then she gave me a choice to come back or not.”
“Or not?” It was West.
She looked at him. “Yes, to come back or to die. My death, however, would still not give T.J. a Mate.
I came back by choice…for TJ., to fix this, to get him a Mate. I did not come back to find myself a Mate or Mates, I came back for T.J” she looked at him a little apologetically, but it was the truth.
Her eyes moved back to T.J. “T have a choice to make and if I choose correctly, I can gift you a Mate. The Goddess told me l could pick someone for you and she would grant it, a true Goddess-Gifted Mate for you.” She looked at Ella. “l already know it will be Ella. I’m pretty certain she was supposed to be your actual Mate and you hers. That’s why you have always been so attracted to each other.”
Saw T.J.’s eyes move to Ella, and she smiled up at him, he smiled down at her Good choice.” He nodded then turned back to look at her “But don’t concern yourself with this Jo-Jo, I’ve already claimed Ella, in one year I will Mark and Mate the hell out of her.”
She heard Ella giggle and saw the woman whack him on the arm. He grinned right at her.
“still, I came back for you T.J. not for myself. But to help you. To stop this stupid thing that has ruined your life.”
“I don’t think it is stupid, Jo-Jo, and I assure you my heart has room for two.” she shook her head, “I will not allow you to be Mate-less, it is not right T.J. I will fix this.”
“Only one can be happy.” West said softly “That list in your room, is that what this is about?”
“Yes,” she nodded and looked at him “That is what the Goddess told me. At this point, only one can be happy. My choice? Is to choose something and when I do, only one can be happy.”
He was frowning at her now, “is your choice Jayden or I?”
“I honestly don’t know what the choice is. She did not tell me, wouldn’t. Told me l had to figure that part out on my own. The only thing she told me was that coming back to life, meant my life would no longer be easy, difficult in fact.”
“Let it go Jo-Jo, I am happy. I have Ella and I will never let her go, ever.”
“Don’t you want to be able to scent her out, and to know she is your Goddess-Gifted Mate?”
“Everyone wants that Jo-Jo. But really, I have what I want. So you should just think about yourself for once. You never do, you know, not even when you were dying.”
“That is not true.”
“Bullshit, your last thoughts, your last words were. Tell West. You were dying, Jo-Jo, and all you could think of was to make sure that West knew what Karen did to him. So he could stop blaming himself. You were not thinking about yourself, not for a single second.”
Jo-anne sighed softly “T.J. I came back.”
He cut her off. “I don’t care why you came back, choose a different path now. Do you want to know what your death did for me?”
“What?” she asked, but didn’t really what to know, just how much it would have hurt him, the pain he felt.
“it put Ella right in my bed. I resisted for all of about 15 minutes, your death made me realise I had this perfect creature right here in front of me, for the taking and I had ignored it at every turn. If Ella had been the one to die, I would have regretted my whole life Jo-Jo. So you have already given me the gift of what I want.”
“It’s not the same T.J., Chosen and Gifted are two very different things. What you feel if she is gifted to you, will be so much better, a thousand times better. I want that and not just for you. But for Ella too”
“I’m happy Jo-Jo, I assure you. Let it go and choose yourself. The choice is for you to choose yourself over everyone else. Because you are selfless, you never choose yourself. Not once have I ever seen you choose yourself.”
“That is bullshit. I have, many times, chosen myself. I chose to try and gain my freedom once. Then I chose to reject West, I chose to leave this pack. I chose never to come back, I chose my career Over my pack.”
He was glaring at her now. “I can debate half of that easily, the choice is yourself and you know why. Because choosing yourself, your own happiness over others, is not who you are.”
“T.J. were going in circles. Just accept this, I’m going to get you a Goddess-Gifted Mate, and when the time comes to make that choice, when or where or who or what it is, I will do it in a heartbeat, even if it’s someone else’s happiness over mine.”
“And if I reject your choice?” he snapped.
Jo-anne shook her head. “It’s not your choice to make T.J. you can not make my decision for me. It doesn’t work that way.”
“Then tell my Jo-Jo what do you want, what will make you happy?”
“Honestly.. you being released as my protector, that is what will make me happy, truly happy. I love you T.J. but I will not sit back and let you have no Goddess-Gifted Mate. It’s wrong. What she did to you, it’s wrong and I told her I didn’t want it, that | would never have wanted that, I would rather have died out there in the snow that day. Then to have you shackled to me and be Mate-less forever.”
“Don’t you dare ever say that to me.” he snarled right at her all of a sudden.
“See, this is what l am talking about. Look at you. All riled up over a woman, whose not your Mate, is nothing to you at all, other than what she made you to me.”
“You’re my bloody sister.” he roared at her, shooting to his feet” Don’t you ever say you’re nothing to me. Not ever.” he was yelling at her so angrily.
Her eyes widened, as she stared at him, looked at the angry man in front of her, claiming she was his sister, “W.. What?” she stammered, didn’t understand why he would say something like that.
“You are my sister” he snapped. “So don’t you ever tell me not to care about you, not to love you. Not to worry about you, it will never happen, I always will.”
“Terence enough.” West yelled at him.
“No West, its not enough, she needs to know the truth.”
Jo-anne was staring from one to the other, they were yelling at each other now. She looked right at West. He seemed so angry with T.J. She’d never seen them be mad at each other like this before.
“Terence, that is enough. This is not the time.”
Turned and looked right at T.J, he looked furiously mad, to be told not say anything, felt her heart tighten inside her chest, no this couldn’t be true, it couldn’t, how could she be his sister? Stood up slowly as she stared up at him, she wasn’t his sister! found his eyes on her suddenly, shook her head, as pain filled her. “No.” she whispered “No, if your…then I did this…to my own…”
“Jo-Jo, I’m sorry, calm down. I didn’t mean to say it.” she could hear it and see it in his facial expression, sorrow and regret, he’d spoken the truth. She was his sister.
West had told her they knew who her mother was, that she wasn’t ready to come forward yet.
Put her hand up to cut him off, didn’t want to hear any more. He was Mate-less because of her.
Her own brother, she knew he was not lying, not with the way he was looking at her, not with the way he and West were arguing about it.
“My own brother.. Mate-less, because of me,” felt tears spill over and burn down her face, saw him reach out for he, backed away from him only to fall down in the chair behind her, shook her head “No.” she stared up at him, her birth had ruin her own brothers life, it was to much.
Fled the room, ran all the way to her room, T.J.!’s life ruined, her own brother’s life ruined, all because she was born. She was shaking, looked down at her own hands, they were shaking uncontrollably.
Fail down on to her knees and sobbed, why was she ever born? What the hell for? Just pain. Her life it was just pain to all those around her. No-one could survive her, she hurt everybody, and didn’t even know it, couldn’t stop it.
Could see her hands glowing, turned them over and looked right at them. What the hell was she? Pain ripped right though her heart and she screamed with all she had and lashed out at the couch in front of her, saw it explode and debris go flying through the air.
Then just sobbed into her hands, as she knelt there on the floor, felt a pair of arms slide around her, she was pulled gently into his chest. It was West. She could smell him, latched on to him and just howled into his chest. She should have just died. It would have been better for everyone. Why couldn’t she just die? Not at birth, not even when she’d tried to do it herself, not even when she’d been strangled with claws ripping into her neck, not even when a silver dagger sliced her own heart.
Still, she survived and for what? To cause pain to all those around her.