All around me, people gasped in surprise. Some faces seemed genuinely happy and other ones betrayed a speck of disgust. Nonetheless, they were obviously too afraid not to kneel. Accalia was running circles inside my head, in excitement to the thought of being marked. I, on the other hand, was still trying to figure out the most efficient way out of here. Don’t get me wrong, the muscles prortruding from his shirt, the slick hair in which all I wanted to do was slip my hand into and the black eyes watching into my soul were just a mere proof of the mate bond settling in. But I can’t let myself be fooled by these emotions that can so easily turn a dream into a nightmare. His eyes disclose a quarrel going on between his wolf and himself which makes me realise that I must act quickly. Once a wolf is marked, their mate can more easily tell of their location, their feelings, their thoughts, and this would make my escape much more difficult.
“U-uhm, I need to rest for a bit, to think things through. Alone. See you later!” and I turn my heels around and sprint to the nearest door. His hand was left extended, in an attempt to grab me. But he stopped and chose to let me go. Even though this is what I wanted to happen, Accalia definitely wanted him to stop me and her feelings of sadness are pouring inside of me like waves crashing against cliffs, slowly eroding my own emotions. Her whining deafens my own thoughts. I decide to put up a mental wall between us, for now, and hope that she’ll understand and forgive my actions.
Out of the infirmary, I dash towards the community center where all my objects reside. On the way, I pass by the pack kitchen’s window, from where I see Alice, working her hardest to make tasty food for the people gathered at the feast. My feet halt for a second, considering whetever I’ll get another chance to say goodbye, or to taste her food, for that matter. But eventually, I decide that a note will make do, as talking to her would make me doubt my conviction, so I leave saddened. At first I thought having all these people gathered for the feast would make it harder to get to the community center and leave quietly, but my smell is lost through this mass of werewolves. Once I get to my room, I fetch a backpack and start packing a few clothes, toiletries and my hard-earned money, when Wendy barges in, surprised.
“W-where have you been, my sweet winter child?!” says Wendy, letting go of a laundry basket and hugging me.
Her hands hug me so tightly that I’m having trouble breathing, much less talk. I pat her hands to signal that and she lets go slightly, but continues to hold my hands in hers, expecting an answer.
“It’s a long story, Wendy.” I avoid her eyes for a second, but deep down I know she’ll understand so I make eye contact and say “I must leave. My mate turned out not to be someone I trust with my wellbeing, nor someone that I can protect myself from. Please, please understand and let me go.” It’s hard for me to hold my tears in, so my eyes again stray away from hers.
She makes notice of my red-stained clothing and covers her mouth with one hand, gasping. I realise that my short story doesn’t make justice to what she’s seeing so I sit her down on my bed and quickly tell her a short version of what has happened.
“Oh my, Emily, but how could you be mated to him? Are you sure?” I nod and she thinks for a bit. “I’ve never heard of someone escaping an Alpha King, but of this one I’ve heard very many gossips about, and they’re all bleak. Alright, I guess it’s worth a try. I’m not convinced this is the right choice, but I’ll be damned if I let a heartless wolf touch my child.” and with that, she takes our her wallet and puts all her money into my hand. A tear drops from her eyes while she’s handing me the money, landing on my thumb. I hug her tightly. Then I finish packing my stuff and leaving notes for Alice and Grace.
“Don’t worry, Wendy, I’ll be fine. Thank you for everything.” and with that I put the backpack on my back and take my leave through the backdoor of the community center, which leads to the forest. Once I’m out, I turn towards the village and think about all my memories growing up here, the good and the bad: even though most of the pack members didn’t agree with my presence in the pack, Alice and Grace always had my back, especially during the school years when a bully’s easiest target is the odd-one out, the rogue. The sleepovers we would have while watching movies and doing our nails, the trainings, the meals with everyone, my crush on Nathan… everything feels so far away, my life changed so drastically in such a short amount of time, just because some rogues listened to my command. That’s so stupid.
My lips move and say “goodbye”, even though no sound comes out. Then my feet make a U-turn and I enter the forest. I could still hear the murmurs of people preparing for the feast that I’ve expected so much, which makes me sigh with acceptance.
“Where are you going?” a relaxed, cool voice breaks the silence.
My feet halt. I turn my head towards my left and I notice the Alpha King leaning by a tree, playing with a blade of grass. Damn it, my inexperience with having a wolf has taken a toll on me, as I omitted the fact that putting a barricade between me and Accalia can strip me of my wolf senses. Tch.
I take a step back. “To take advantage of my alone time.” I say, while eyeing the possible routes I can take.
The Alpha King throws the blade of grass with a flick of his fingers and straightens his back. Finally, he looks at me and raises an eyebrow: “With a backpack? For how long are you planning to be alone with your thoughts, if I may ask?” and takes a step towards me. By reflex, I take a step away from him. We continue this step dance for a few seconds:
“For as long as possible” I say.
“We cannot have that, Emily. My pack needs their Luna. All the werewolves need their Queen. I tried to give you time, but we WILL need to leave tonight and head home, regardless if you’ve made your choice or not.”
Awesome, another one who’s not listening to me. No matter how much I stall to try and think up a plan, without Accalia on my side, I don’t stand any chance of outrunning him. My feet back up into the trunk of a tree. In the blink of an eye, he’s towering over me, my head now being between his arms that lean on the tree: “I need you, Emily.” His words take me by surprise and my cheeks start burning as I’m sure my face is turning red. There’s no use in trying anything now, I must go with the flow and find an opportunity to escape later. And so, I nod at his words.
“Great, we got a deal!” he looks genuinely happy before his mouth takes a mischievous grin. “Now… ” he says while getting closer to my neck to the point that I can feel his breath on my skin, giving me goosebumps. “Let’s release your wolf from the shackles you’ve put on her, shall we?” and he kisses the spot where my neck meets my shoulder, where his mark would go. My body trembles in pleasure for a split second but I swiftly escape by ducking under his arms. His proud grin and the fact that I hear a purr inside my head tell me that he has succeeded in taking down the wall I’ve put on.
“I WOULD have taken it down as soon as we were away from him” I attempt to convince Accalia.
“It’s fine, Emily, I understand how you’re feeling. But you’re going to owe me one.” I don’t like the sound of this but I can only nod in agreement.
“Now, if you purr anymore than this, he’s going to think we’re a cat.” I tell Accalia, letting out a giggle. Then I remember about the Alpha King and I instinctively cover my neck.
“Don’t worry, we won’t mark you yet. There’s a special ceremony for marking a Queen.” says the Alpha King chuckling and ushering me towards the village.
“Uhm… can I know your name?” I ask, while embarassed that I do not know it yet. But there’s nothing I can do about the fact that all stories about him fail to mention his actual name. Everyone just says “Alpha King, King, the King and so on”
He looks surprised at me and says: “I’m Edward, and the wolf that’s dying to meet you is Arthur.” and he points towards his head.
“My wolf’s name is Accalia. We’ve recently met.”
“I can tell.” and we both laugh for a second, thinking of my newbie mistake from earlier.
Then we silently head towards the feast.