Brayden did not let her go. If anything, he clenched her tightly towards himself in a useless hope that he had misheard the Lycan King correctly.
Nevertheless, when Gideon stood up and moved in their direction, he knew he had lost the battle. He had lost everything.
“I don’t like repeating myself,” the Lycan snapped, looking at him with a challenge in his eyes, “You need to step away from my mate.
The long and heavy silence in the room was awkward, but after a short while Brayden unclenched his fingers and Riannon stepped away.
Gideon did not waste any time and pulled her towards him. Rubbing her arm where her ex-husband was just holding her, he asked in a fake-sweet tone, “Ria, did he hurt you?”
Riannon was acutely aware that if they did not want bloodshed, she’d better shake her head and deny the truth. Gideon waited for them to be together for too long, and his patience had its limits.
“No, I am fine,” she said. Her mate brushed his palm over her beautiful face, enjoying the tingles that his touch created. He could stay this way forever, but the sound of laughter distracted him.
On the verge of madness, it was cold and unnatural laughter.
“Are you kidding me?” Brayden rubbed his eyes and threw his head back, trying to calm down.
Too many eyes were on him, and he needed to get the situation back in control.
This was bad. He was losing his wife and at least half of his pack. No one would ever look at him in the same way again. No one would ever let him forget what happened here today. He had to act, and he had to act fast.
“So, was this the plan all along?” he scoffed, “
This is how the lycans will connive and descend to get our lands? You don’t want war. You are just going to marry the daughters of Alphas and grab their packs in the process?”
Neither Ria nor Gideon liked what he was implying. Several of the alphas present became visibly anxious. In the end, the territory was one thing they were all ready to fight for. Always.
“Can’t you see what he’s doing right now?”
Brayden continued, “He is using my wife to weaken me and to expand his Kingdom! I’m sure he’s not even your mate, Riannon! Are you sure that this is not some kind of witchery? You tWo met before, and neither of you seemed to be shouting that you were mates.”
“You’d better shut up about it,” Gideon growled, “Before you say something that would really require me to kill you. Because, trust me, I’m tempted!”
Ria knew exactly what kind of game her now ex-husband was playing, so she placed her palm on the king’s chest. The gesture immediately calmed him down. Their eyes met for a second, but he already knew that she was going to take care of the situation Brayden was stirring up.
“It may come as a surprise to you,” she began speaking softly, but this was only pretence, “but some people know how to control their wolves and their urges. It requires tremendous willpower.
Willpower you clearly do not possess, considering the situation we are in now. However, it can be done. We simply controlled ourselves and behaved like people and not animals. Firstly, out of respect for you and our marriage. You should try that sometime. As for my lands, they will always remain mine. Gideon has enough of his own. He doesn’t need to take anything from his woman other than love.”
This was a low blow, and she knew it. After all, their packs were merged through marriage. This was how Bray attained his current position, which was now slipping away.
Ria promptly decided she was cutting the cord today. It had to be done.
“As for proof of us being mates, not that we owe you anything,” she continued, “I think the fact the mark you gave me has begun disappearing when I met Giddeon should be proof enough.”
She moved aside the collar of the white blazer she wore and pointed out the twin pale stains on her skin. The exact location scars from their mating bond were left behind by his canines. It was there before; only he did not notice. He did not check. He did not pay attention.
Brayden’s face lost colour as his mouth parted slightly. His eyes were filled with pain, and for the first time, she felt remorse for doing this to him. Then she remembered how he sank his canines into Roxy’s neck right in front of her. Mere minutes after, he denounced her as his Luna in front of the pack. It was unnecessary cruelty.
Savage harshness she did not deserve. Not after everything else they had put her through. For her, it was the moment she stopped loving him. After months and months of struggle, she was finally free from that feeling that was eating her up inside.
This was when she had planned to leave quietly, knowing there were places she would be accepted.
Albeit, it wasn’t her destiny to be this way, and she never managed to leave her pack. Maybe because it was her destiny to get it back after all. To fix everything that happened, everything that was destroyed.
Brayden’s hand flew to his neck instinctively, where he tried to find the mark she left on him. Two small scars were still there, palpable. He couldn’t comprehend what was going on.
“Impossible,” he mumbled.
“Yet here we are,” Riannon sighed, “I did not want to do it this way. But, it seems that you will cause trouble if I don’t”
“Ri,” he attempted to stop her, stretching his hand in her direction, but Gideon growled out a warning, “Don’t”…
I “, Riannon Michaels, reject you, Brayden Thorn as my chosen mate, my husband, and my Alpha. From this day on, there is no bond between the two of us.” The words left her mouth, and she waş afraid to feel the customary pain that accompanied the severing of a bond, but nothing happened. The Lycan King looked at her with concern on his face but relaxed when she gave him a little calm smile.
Brayden, however, did not look so well. He was pale prior to the rejection declaration, but now he looked as if he was about to collapse. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. He kept standing, but it was obvious he could feel their bond being broken.
“How could you?” he accused, staring at her with pain burning in his eyes, “We-after so many years-“
“Go to your mate, Brayden,” was all Riannon said to him, “And leave my mate and me alone.”
This wasn’t the way she planned to break ties with him, however, it was too late now. What’s done was done. There was nothing between the two of them anymore.
The room became silent.
“You know what,” Alpha Zack Morgan announced, interrupting the silence and standing up, “how about we take a little break and cool ourselves down a bit?”
“I don’t know” the werecat leader smirked at him, playing with her hair, ” haven’t been to a Summit this entertaining for a while!”
“We’ll meet you back here in half an hour.”
Gideon said, taking Riannon’s hand and bumping Brayden’s shoulder with his as they walked out.
He pulled her behind him, not caring where they went, and as soon as they made a turn, he immediately slammed her back over the wall and placed his hands on both sides of her. The Lycan crashed his lips into hers, tasting them as if he had never done this before. His fingers dug into her hair, and she m0aned softly when he thrust his tongue into her mouth. She missed him. A lot more than she realised.
“If I don’t take you and mark you now, I will die,
” He muttered as he peppered her neck with k!sses, his canines grazing over her sensitive skin.
“Not here, Gideon,” she said, panting and yet, not pushing him away from her, “This is not the right place. And-“
“I don’t care,” he growled, pulling at the belt of her blazer and sliding his hands underneath it to feel her exposed skin. She was wearing a lace-cropped top underneath, and he couldn’t appreciate it more.
“Gideon,” she let out a little nervous laugh, “
The place is packed with Alphas who can hear everything. My ex included. Don’t prove him right, and don’t give him control over the narrative of our story. Don’t make him a victim here.”
He stopped, still breathing heavily into the column of her neck.
“We just claimed that we can control ourselves,” she reminded him, “We can’t-“
“I get it,” he groaned and pulled away from her.
However, a happy grin was plastered all over his face. Her lips curled into a smile too.
“l am free,” she whispered, still afraid to say it out loud.
“No, you are not” he grunted, “You are mine”
“Yes,” Riannon nodded to that, “I won’t argue with that. I..”
A confession almost left her lips, but she stopped herself because this wasn’t how she wanted to do it.
“Come on,” he told her, “Maya is waiting outside. I bet you would love to break the news to her personally.”
“Really?” she gasped, “You brought her here too?”
“0f course,” he chuckled, “Not that it was a choice. Your friend is-let’s just say, stubborn.”
“That she is,” Ria agreed as he led her back to the foyer, still holding hands. They passed a few Lunas who were waiting for their husbands, and she saw the looks of shock on their faces.
A lot of people expected her divorce, but no one expected this.
When they were outside, Gideon called his driver and asked to bring Maya to the main entrance. But the car took too long to arrive, and he decided to go check what was going on.
“Stay here,” he said, I”‘Il be back soon.”
Riannon smiled to herself as she stood there, waiting for him. Soon after, she heard a familiar voice.
“How could you do this to me, Ri?”
She turned to face her ex-husband and sighed.
“What’s done is done, Brayden. Let it go,” she remarked, striving to sound and stay calm, but even her patience had its limits, “You have your mate, and I have mine. Let’s live our own lives.”
“You just destroyed my pack!” he alleged through clenched teeth.
“No,” she denied, shaking her head, “I saved what I could.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he furrowed his brows.
She opened her mouth to respond when they both felt it. The change in the air as it got heated.
The deafening sound of an explosion followed.
The glass walls of the hotel shattered into myriads of pieces that flew their way. Then the blast wave reached them too. At the last moment, Brayden jumped in her direction, and they both fell to the ground as he covered her with his body. It took just a second or two, but it felt like forever.
The whole world fell into silence.