4 - Be Strong


Two weeks. It had been two miserably long weeks since Novu had appeared in front of me and given the news that my mate was to come soon. Their version of soon and mine differed greatly apparently.

'You're just being impatient,' Philo paced the depths of my mind as if he didn't feel the exact same.

'I'm not ready to let go yet,' Otto tried pleading with me.

Truthfully, I wasn't either. Quinn became the center of my universe from the moment we'd met as infants. Our parents were so happy the moon goddess paired us together and allowed us to know one another for what was supposed to be a lifetime.

Just like my father and mother.

My eyes flickered over to the many photos hung next to my large bathroom mirror. Each and every one had Quinn and I together in them somehow. All of them showing various points in our lifetime. Elias was right when he called it a shrine of my leftover love for the lycan. I had suffered death, rejection, and seeing him fall in love with another. None of those things ever truly erased how I felt.

The power in my being shifted and my eyes flickered to the steam clouded mirror. Philo was taking over, my eyes shining a bright red in the reflection. It felt like being sucked back into another time as he made me gaze at the horribly scarred 'y' shape that was engraved on my torso. The jagged remnants reminding me of how cruel fate had been to me. It was accompanied by the thick raised line on my left arm that started at my wrist and ran vertically to the ditch of my arm.

"Never forget," his deep voice fell from my lips as he spoke out loud to me. "She always knew what would happen. She always knew the mate she chose for us would be taken away. We need to let go."

I sucked in a deep breath as Otto's tendrils wormed their way through my body. Grief. Deep sorrow filled total grief wracked my being. My eyes stung as tears tried to push their way through. It took every bit of power for me to push through the two warring emotions that they were trying to let consume me. Not today, I couldn't be weak today.

Today it would end.

I retreated from the bathroom and padded into my room. What was once an old abandoned Victorian mansion had become my home. I found it the summer I turned seventeen. It took weeks of convincing dad to let me keep it and for it to not be destroyed during one of the expansions of the pack. Something about the place called to me. The peeling wallpaper and creaking wooden floorboards caught my eye the moment I stepped foot into this place.

Four years ago when I finally returned and took position as Alpha it became my way of avoiding all that was wrong. I channeled everything into restoring this place and spent a hefty sum in doing so. Now it was all back to the former beautiful glory, maybe even better than it had looked when originally built. Dark wood and colorfully patterned wallpapers covered the place. I hadn't skipped out on decorating it with the spoils of my adventures during the time I spent working for the council.

My cousin Niklas in Bavaria had smuggled a lot of the pieces back to Ash Walker for me. They served as both reminders and decorations in this coffin of a home.

"Boo," Max's voice pulled me from my thoughts. I blinked hard, seeing his figure leaning against the doorway of my room. He had his raven locks neatly gelled back, and was dressed in black clothing tight enough it left little to the imagination for the women that fell at his feet.

"Is everything ready?" my voice was softer than usual. I pushed the dark thoughts to the back of my mind and started to get dressed in plain clothing, pulling on a red shirt with ripped up jeans.

Max nodded," yeah, we've been waiting on you for a while now. Are you alright? I've been standing here for like ten minutes and you weren't moving."

A long sigh passed my lips as we started walking down the wide staircase," no, but I will be."

My brother gave me a sympathetic look. The fact Max never pried too hard made me love him even more. He knew when enough was enough. Our bond as twins made us more in tune with each other's emotions. The only thing that separated us was species. He was a vampire and I was a wolf. Even that detail didn't matter in the big picture of things.

The light of the day danced from the stain glass that decorated my front door. Slipping my shoes on faster than I ever had I reluctantly left my house. Max and I chatted idly about the upcoming Litha celebration. Dad was making him go to the brood with Theo, Tempeste, and Iven during that weekend. Some official crowning ceremony was happening for them that they all needed to attend. They were the four youngest nocturnes in the vampire world so it was mandatory for them to attend.

"They're all such snobs," Max whined.

I smiled at him," not all of them." He gave me a look like I was out of my mind. "Grandma and grandpa are part of the council that attends."

Max rolled his eyes at me," okay well they're excluded from my list. The rest of them can get bent. Seriously. The best part of the whole thing is the thought I might get a beautiful daughter of one of the lords to keep me company afterwards."

I shot him a look and he glared back at me, already knowing what I was going to say. "Don't you dare," Max hissed at me as I took off running the rest of the way we had to travel.

"Terminally horny," I shouted out and he screeched in anger. Dad warned him about how after a vampire's first experience they'd be obsessed with the feeling for quite a long time. Our youngest brother, Sebastian, had come up with the term. Max hated it every time the little shifter described him as such. He wasn't wrong though, and Max's raging need led him to the job he chose.

I laughed as he kept trying to lunge at me around pack members that crowded the busy streets of the suburb our parents' house was built on. Everybody parted as we raced our way down the street, some snickering at us as we acted like wrestling pups. The pack equally feared and loved me. I hadn't been as easy to burst as my father and nurtured a lot of trust to go with their loyalty.

"Not fair!" Max had tackled me down the moment I opened the door to my parent's house.

My mother was quick to run over to us and break up the fight," I swear sometimes it's hard to believe you two are twenty-five!" She shook her head as we stood up and dusted ourselves off.

"He started it," Max motioned in my direction.

"Did not," I elbowed him hard and earned a hiss from his direction.

Max and I both turned to look at one another. I watched his spidery hands start to raise like it was about to begin again but a growl interrupted us both. I turned and met the amber eyes of my father, dad smiling behind him. My father ruffled his unruly red curls in frustration," Gideon this isn't how an Alpha is supposed to act."

His words set me off and had my anger rising. My face contorted in rage but before I could answer, dad cut in. "Gideon," his smooth voice leaked out as he walked around my father. "The sooner we do this the better. Your mom made some kohlrouladen for you." My stomach came to life at the thought of the food and a loud grumble sounded out. She was definitely expecting me to do some emotional eating tonight.

"And what was that other thing dear?" He shifted his yellow eyes over to my mom who smiled lovingly at him. "Apfel-...ap." He groaned in frustration.

"Apfelstrudel," my mother spoke and put him out of his misery.

"Come," my father interrupted the moment and we all followed him into the front room. My eyes widened in shock seeing that all nine of my siblings had joined us, along with Oma Sadie and Opa Finn. They were standing behind Elias who paced around the family dining table. He stopped once everybody turned and looked at me. Elias's soft amber eyes looked at me and I could tell he was forcing a smile. He didn't like knowing he was helping me with something that was only going to cause pain.

Max gave my shoulder a squeeze as I sat down on the chair that had been pulled out directly across from where Elias stood. He placed a photograph upside down in front of me and two candles that were still attached at the wick. "Are you sure?" he hesitantly spoke and tried giving me room to rethink this.

'Please,' Otto was once again begging.

'Do it,' Philo pushed me to pick up a matchbox that had been lain out on the other side of the table. I grasped it with a shaking hand and took a deep breath. This needed to be done. I had to rid myself of the lingering feelings for Quinn.

"Yes," my voice was shaking. I struck the match and lit the middle of the wick before I could hesitate again. The matchbox dropped from my hand and I scooted back hard in the chair. I reached up grabbing thick clumps of my chocolate locks.

'Stop it! Blow it out!' Otto screamed as he pushed himself forward, sucking up any energy I had left built up to fight him back. My body rose up abnormally fast and he began making me furiously blow at the lit candles. The flame flickered around but didn't stop burning, once again resuming like he hadn't tried to put it out.

"Otto," my mother's sweet voice filled my ears. She touched my shoulder gently and my head whipped to the side. "It cannot be undone Otto. You need to let Gideon move on." Her words sent pain in waves through my chest. The tears that were threatening to fallout earlier finally did. Thick fat globs rolling down my cheeks as he retreated to the recess of my mind. Philo tried his best to comfort me once I took back control.

The wolf tried his best but could do little to help me, as he was hurting himself. Otto wouldn't be the only one grieving until this was finished. All three of us would be.

I spent the entire day leaking like a faucet as my tears kept coming down. My mother was handing me plates full of food all afternoon. Cabbage and apples had never tasted so good in my life. It was like the heartache somehow made everything taste more intense. My siblings were in charge of taking shifts trying to console or distract me through the process. By the time I'd made it to Iven and Sebastian it was well into the night and they were thoroughly fed up with hearing me cry.

"Come on man," Sebastian whined as he tried nudging me off his bed. "I don't know why mom and dad think I can help you. I'm only thirteen I don't know jack about love. Just like. I don't know." He let out a dramatic sigh.

"Just get over it," Iven added in from the other side of the room.

"Gee thanks," I sniffled," like I haven't thought of that one yet."

They groaned in unison. A knock sounded on the door and it opened enough for Markus to peek through. The three of them were the only ones left in the family that were of school age. He awkwardly messed with his red hair as he cleared his throat," Elias said he wants you to come downstairs." I nodded and reluctantly raised up off of the bed. Iven and Sebastian yelled out a loud 'thank you' to him when I finally left.

Downstairs Elias was waiting with my parents at the table where the candles were on their last seconds of life. My heart thudded hard in my chest knowing everything was about to be so final it hurt. Felt like a complete end to such a big part of my life. The moment they stopped burning my love for him would fade away. The connection would sever.

I hesitantly reclaimed the seat and stared down at the flames, watching them flicker out and the wax begin to cool over the backside of the photo. Part of me wanted to see what photo they had chosen, but knowing Quinn's face would be somewhere on it made me stop. It would only hurt more. "How do you feel?" Elias tried pulling me from my thoughts.

"Awful," my voice was nasally from all the crying. Eyes puffing up enough I could feel it. Nothing had really helped to soothe the pain.

"Things will get better," my grandfather ruffled my hair. His light green eyes shone with love as he looked down at me. "Things always get better."

"Take this," grandma rounded the corner with a mug full of what looked like thick black goop.

One sniff nearly made me retch," are you trying to poison me?"

She laughed heartily and shook her head," it will help you sleep tonight. Should dull the pain a little bit. You'll feel so much better by the time you wake back up."

The liquid went down just about as smooth as expected. It had the consistency of molasses and felt like it stuck to my teeth. I sat the mug down when I finished and it felt like my world shifted. Elias suddenly had three heads and I couldn't keep still.

"I think you made it too strong," my father spoke from a distance but I couldn't find him in the spiraling room.

"Oh dear." was the last thing I heard before my body went limp and my head dropped with a loud thud against the wood of the table.

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