Ria was descending the stairs slowly and with grace, noticing how Brayden turned to see what everyone else was looking at. He was shocked to see it was his own wife. Riannon found this offensive. So, when he offered her his hand to the displeasure of Princess Peach, also known as Roxy in her ugly peach dress, she ignored him and continued past them as if they did not know each other. The move caused another wave of whispers to erupt, which in the werewolf world meant nothing—everyone could hear what the murmurs were about.
Ria moved to greet a few couples that she knew. They all stretched their best smiles for her, not commenting on the awkward situation. She was quickly done with that, and since the party was far from being over, she decided to get herself some liquid courage. Goddess knew she needed some today.
From the corner of her eye, she noticed that the balcony on the other side of the room, one that was usually used by the owner of the house, Alpha Richards, was covered with white curtains to obscure the activity behind it. She noticed a few figures moving inside, but that was about it. She was curious about the need to conceal but not to the extent to actually go and check for herself.
“Luna Thorn,” a male voice spoke out, appearing behind her. She turned to face an unfamiliar alpha. He was one of the new and younger ones as she didn’t know him yet. In some packs, alphas frequently changed due to power struggles. She and Brayden managed to avoid these and were considered somewhat like elders even though she was twenty-five and he was twenty-six.
“Hello,” she greeted the man with a soft smile. After all, it was only polite.
“Alpha Zack Morgan,” the young man introduced himself. He looked to be in his late twenties as well, “Alpha of the Emerald Mountain pack.”
“Ah, I’ve heard,” Riannon responded, now interested. Everyone had heard rumours about the Alpha’s bastard child who had challenged his elder brother and won his title. “Impressive!” She remarked.
“A compliment from someone like you is a compliment indeed.” He smirked and gestured for the barmen to serve them drinks. “Champagne for the lady and brandy for me.”
He didn’t even ask her. Alphas were like that.
“Riannon,” another Alpha addressed, appearing from her other side, “Looking gorgeous as ever.”
His arm wrapped around her waist as if it belonged there, making Zack growl quietly as a warning.
For a second, Ria didn’t understand what was going on. Suddenly, it occurred to her. They both thought she was back on the market.
Albeit useful. She was, after all, back on the market. Even though she had another man’s mark on her neck. A man who was currently and openly with someone else, having a great time. As far as Ria remembered from her previous life, the two of them had a blast while she was forgotten. She hid in her modest dress, cowering in a corner, and left the event early. Alone. Heartbroken, she couldn’t talk to anyone, although she did try her best. As always.
Now, it was game-on. Her heart was not aching anymore.
Well, maybe a bit. However, she could think clearly now. She could see the hungry gazes they had on her.
Every. Single. Male.
And maybe it was a petty reaction, but she loved the attention. She craved it after everything that happened with Brayden. She needed to feel like a woman again. And a beautiful one at that.
Another loud growl emerged from somewhere containing such power to it that they all looked around. For a second Ria thought it was Brayden, who had finally noticed her, but he was in the other corner of the room, introducing Roxy to his Alpha pals. He gave her a glance when he felt her looking and an apologetic smile to go with it. How annoying.
Then who was growling?
“Don’t mind it!” A third Alpha interjected as he joined them, “It’s just Lycans going crazy. Riannon, you are simply breathtaking today! What a dress! The colour suits you!”
“Lycans?” She fluttered her lashes in confusion, thinking she was probably hearing things. “Here?”
“Yeah,” Zack snorted. “Everyone is shocked. They are invited every year, but they never attend, probably thinking they are too good for us! Yesterday, Alpha Jones received a call that the Lycan King himself would be visiting. However, they needed a private VIP area. Can you imagine?”
“Snobs!” another werewolf next to her exclaimed, letting out a laugh. “So, Ria, will you save me a dance?”
“I don’t see why—”
“No!” She heard a firm voice behind her and turned to see her Beta, who looked less than thrilled with the whole situation. What was his problem? “My Luna promised to dance with me tonight,” he lied without blinking, and this got her annoyed. Was he doing that for Brayden? Was he to not allow her to talk to anyone?
This was too much, and it didn’t coincide with her plans at all.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Ash,” she giggled lightheartedly before giving him her signature don’t-you-dare look she used with her subordinates. “We talked only about one dance in the car. After that,” she glanced over at the company of at least five single Alphas around her, “I can dance with my old friends. And new ones as well.”
Some of the men adjusted their collars at her words, and it pleased her that she had the desired effect on them. The dress was a good investment, after all.
“I still insist on being first.” The Beta offered her his hand, and she accepted it.
“I’ll be back,” she whispered and winked at the other gentlemen. They either nodded or smirked at her.
She wasn’t thinking of them seriously, of course. Although she knew very well some of them were serious about her. There was Alpha Maddox, Brayden’s old rival. He had stated more than once of his desire to take her as his Luna back in the day. Alpha Grayson had shown her signs of admiration before. She had usually pretended not to notice, but she knew very well how they looked at her. Females with pure Alpha blood were rare. Her wolf had an immaculate silver coat, which was unique as well. On top of that, she was beautiful and smart. She was the Perfect Luna that everyone wanted. Brayden was lucky to have her.
Shame all that did not help her when he met his mate. Even in spite of them wearing each other’s marks and sharing a bond of their own, it did not help.
“You shouldn’t give them hope, you know,” Ash spoke up all of a sudden. She gave him a surprised look.
“You read too much into everything.” She looked in a different direction because his gaze seemed to burn through her skull. “I am merely having fun.”
“You are the Luna—”
“And my Alpha is right there having the time of his life with his mate, Ash.” She rolled her eyes. “What do you want me to do? Get in the far corner of the room and cry my eyes out? He made his choice and—”
“And you are already looking for a new Alpha?” His grasp on her became tighter. “Is there really a need for this?”
“And you think there isn’t?” She gave him an intrigued look.
“Of course not!” his voice was firm, “Brayden will never divorce you. This girl is just for his wolf. You can find someone like that too. In our pack.”
“Or I can go and look for my mate too!” she snorted and ignored his frown. “I am not into that kind of thing, Ash. That’s not me.”
He clenched his lips, but luckily, the music came to its end, and she left him, trying to disappear deep into the crowd.
“Did you see? How shameless of her!” some girl was talking in the distance, “No wonder her husband did not reject his mate even though he had marked her! Maybe there is more to this story considering how she hangs herself on every Alpha she sees!”
Riannon shifted her eyes over the girl. It was just some bimbo one of the Alphas brought. Not even a Luna.
However, she realised that the rumours would be spreading. And not everyone would be on her side, even though she had no choice.
She deliberately left Ash on the side of the hall opposite from where all the single Alphas were waiting for her. Of course, she would work on them too; however, they were not too reliable. If they wanted something more than just becoming allies, they would be sorely mistaken. She did not want to marry for a second time. At least, not now. All she wanted was to get her pack back. For which she needed help.
So, she started out by approaching her father’s old friends. The ones she knew were supporting Brayden for her sake. A little hint here and a little hint there, and one by one, they pledged their support; four in total within half an hour. Not much, but it was a start.
“There you are!” Alpha Zack caught her when she was on her way to talk to one of her ex-classmates. “Someone promised me a dance.”
His hazel eyes looked darker now, and she knew that she couldn’t avoid it any longer. She noticed Bray not far from her with Roxy clinging to him. His eyes, however, were on his wife, the look in them did not promise her anything good.
“I did, didn’t I?” She flirted, enjoying this moment. She hoped it hurt him too.
Zack was about to take her back to the dance floor when a ridiculously tall man with a playful grin crossed their path.
“Long time no see, Luna,” he addressed her as if they knew each other. She tried really hard to remember who he was when it suddenly occurred to her.
“B-Beta Reid?” she gasped, recognising the lycan she met years ago.
“In the flesh!” He showed off his pearly whites. “It’s such a coincidence running into you!”
“At the annual Alpha Ball, which all Lunas attend every year?” she arched her brow questioningly. “Not really!”
“Well,” he chuckled, “I am here for the first time, so— A-ny-way— My King is here too, and he wishes to see you.”
“I’ll make sure to deliver Luna Thorn as soon as our dance is over,” Alpha Zack affirmed as he tried to lead her away. Alas, the Lycan stopped him.
“I am afraid you will have to find another dance partner.” He wore a friendly smile yet somehow sounded menacing. So menacing that Alpha Zack stepped aside, giving them room to leave.
The lycan led her to the balcony while pretty much everyone in the room, including her husband, watched them open the white curtain before her, motioning for her to enter.
Another loud growl sounded as soon as she walked in.