I ducked my head. Jacob’s lips brushed my forehead as I moved, and he let out a small whimper. My heart clenched for him, but I wasn’t ready.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. I held onto him tightly, not wanting him to move away.
“Please, Jake,” I said. “After the ball. It’s not that long away. I just – I can’t. Not until then. I have to know.”
“But why?” He asked, his voice pained. I tried to meet his eyes, but he averted his gaze. “Why am I not enough for you? Really, Ari, please just think about this,” he begged. “What is a mate going to give you that I can’t?”
I gulped. I didn’t have an answer for him. I knew that I loved him, and I was certain that I would be happy with him. We could mate and live as mates, but part of me would always wonder if there was someone better suited to me out there.
“Please,” I said again. I didn’t have anything more to offer him.
He nodded mutely, and then
The pack house was rammed when I crept out of the library. I’d intended to get my bandages changed before dinner, but I’d become sucked into my research. I discovered that many Native Americans offered their animal fetishes cornmeal, so I resolved to find some for my little wolf. I also spent a long time noting down references in a word document, flitting between that and my mind map in an attempt to narrow down my focus. I’d found a folk tale about two wolves, one black and one white; one made of anger and the other forged from goodness. A grandfather tells his grandson that the one that wins is the one he chooses to feed. I liked the sentiment, and decided to use it as a focal point for my argument. It had been relaxing, to sit in the warm rays of the sinking sun. They streaked in through the windowpanes, garnishing the wooden bookshelves a deep gold. I would’ve liked to have stayed there through dinner, but I heeded Jacob’s message and packed u
My heart pounded. I could feel my pulse thrashing wildly against the skin of my neck. I span around, my eyes roving across the darkness desperately.“Hey, it’s okay,” came Jacob’s soothing voice. It did little to calm me, but I took a deep breath before I jumped up. “Jake,” I hissed. “Help me look.”“It’s probably just an animal,” he placated, but he stood up beside me nonetheless. I held a finger up to my lips.I crept away from the log we’d been sat on, my eyes wide. I was afraid to blink. I could smell something unsettling, and familiar, but I couldn’t place it. The sun had set completely now; the woods were washed in darkness, shades of black and blue coating the forest floor like bruises.Another footstep fell to the ground. It was quiet, but the sound radiated through the trees like ripples in a pond. I turned towards Jacob, but my breath stilled in my throat when I caught sight of him. <
“Watching me?” I gasped. “But why?”“That’s why Silver Shore are coming early,” Jacob said. He stood and slid the chair back under the table, and then moved to stand beside me. “Their patrols caught a rogue between our border and theirs. They’ve kept her for questioning. She hasn’t said much, apparently. But she did let one thing slip. They haven’t told us what, yet, though. They said they wanted to discuss it in person, but that it couldn’t wait for the ball.”“I’m sorry we chose to keep this from you,” Kele said. “It was wrong. You fought off a rogue singlehandedly. I am ashamed that I thought you could not protect yourself, that hearing this would weaken you.”“It’s okay, Alpha Kele,” I said. My head was swimming with new information, but I was processing it quickly. I moved to add a dot to the map, and placed it where Rosa and I had come across the rogue. “In future,
I spent the rest of the afternoon working with my mum. We ended up with a detailed security plan for the ball, and a concise note of key points to discuss in the meeting. We then met with the Female Gamma, Ryna, and Liliana, and talked through the rogue situation together. My mum encouraged me to share my concerns that the rogues may have formed a pack, but the idea was quickly shot down. Ryna looked at me patronisingly, as though she wasn’t sure why I was present. “The whole point of rogues is that they aren’t in a pack, sweetie,” she’d drawled. Unlike when my parents or Jacob called me sweet, a rolling ball of anger spat fire in my chest. Ryna was usually nothing but nice to me, so I was surprised by her tone. I shrugged it off, though, and was determined to stand up for myself.&n
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The Beta's Daughter TWELVE | THE GREAT WOLF
The Beta's Daughter THIRTEEN | REVELATION
The Beta's Daughter FOURTEEN | TWILIGHT
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