13 Days Later
"I'm nowhere near close," I groaned, rubbing my forehead as I leaned away from Bella's laptop.
Bella admitted, "I don't know where else we can look for money. We've mortgaged all the properties available to you, Patrick, anything we had records of from your mom's estate, and everything my parents can offer. Our house is already under mortgage. We only have two days left."
Time was not on our side.
"What about the banks? No. We've talked to every bank. What about other lenders?"
I was panicking, nearly hyperventilating.
The kidnappers had been sending video clips of Ethan being beaten every day.
"Yes. We talked to all of them except---"
"Nathan can't help. I can't even ask. House Lewis isn't involved in this. They don't need me dragging them down too. Besides. How would I explain this to him?"
I took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. I was capable. I had always been good at finding a way to do whatever needed to be done.
I had never used a boyfriend to fix my problems before. I wasn't going to start now I'd found my fated mate!
I hadn't told Nathan anything about finding Tyler. The only contact I'd had with my boyfriend had been to tell him we were over. He'd asked me why -Nathan had deserved a reason why- and all I could think to tell him was because we had to be.
I supposed it said something about the strength of my character Nathan accepted my response with no further questions.
Bella gave me a worried look as she asked, "Have you considered asking Patrick again?"
I realized now I'd made excuses for Patrick all my life. I had wanted to believe my father was a better man than he was, but now my eyes were wide open.
I went to Bella's bedroom with my phone. I sat on her bed, looked around at all her things and wished I could trade places with her. The room obviously belonged to a teenaged girl whose biggest interests were K-Pop boy bands, clothes, and makeup.
I couldn't even remember my room at home. All I saw when I closed my eyes was the mate I had left sleeping in a room at LUST.
Patrick answered on the first ring and I humbled myself to say, "Ethan deserves your help. Tell me what to do. Please."
I felt myself getting sicker and sicker the more Patrick talked. His proposition to steal from my mate was more disgusting than the man who had tried to claim me as payment for Patrick's debt.
Mates weren't supposed to betray each other. Ever. The Moon Goddess gave wolves a fated mate to be their other half, to complete them, to protect them and love them and keep them from ever feeling all the negative feelings which overwhelmed a wolf alone.
How could I blackmail my mate?
I listened close as Patrick explained how it should go down. I had to admit he was clever for a worthless bastard.
I found myself hopeful I would save my brother, but at what cost to myself? How could my mate ever forgive me for this kind of betrayal?
I knew I already had a lot to answer for just because I had run out on Tyler Wright while he lay innocently sleeping at my side. I hadn't even left him my name.
I saw the last clip of Ethan being beaten play again in my mind and realized I had no choice except to try Patrick's plan.
I couldn't let my brother die.
Once the call ended, I helped myself to a yellow sundress from Bella's closet. I put on light makeup before going downstairs to get my bag. I hugged Bella as if I'd never see her again. If this didn't work, if I didn't save Ethan, I wasn't sure if I would see her again.
I called a taxi to take me to the Moonrise Entertainment corporate building.
Tyler Wright was the CEO of his family's business enterprise. Or at least that was what we had found out from the internet.
I felt nauseous while thinking about my mate being the future Alpha of House Wright. I'd be Luna of House Wright! What did I know about being a Luna?
The taxi driver asked me if he should wait when we got to the main office building. I told him no with a shaky smile in answer to his skeptical look.
I doubted I looked good enough to be meeting the CEO's secretary much less Tyler himself, but I didn't have any choice.
Patrick had given me to his debtors to settle his accounts and I had run out on them. I didn't regret running, but I did regret playing a part in putting Ethan in danger.
My brother was only a boy. He deserved a chance to grow up no matter what the cost was to me myself.
"No, thank you, sir. I've got it from here."
I got out of the cab and straightened my shoulders as if I had the confidence of a person with an appointment. Maybe if I played the part well enough, they'd believe me.
I didn't know what floor Tyler was on. I figured the CEO would be close to the top though, so I made for the elevator banks only to be stopped by a security guard.
Patrick had warned me I might meet resistance getting into the building.
It was easy to sound upset with the guard for holding me up.
I was upset.
If I didn't get a meeting with Tyler Wright and if he didn't help me, my brother was going to die.
"Excuse me! I have to see Tyler Wright."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"I don't need an appointment."
I tried to put as much scorn into the words as I could. I called up the way the meanest girl in my school talked as an example. It must have worked because the guard dropped his hands from my arms even if he didn't move out of my way.
"Everyone needs an appointment, ma'am. Please give your name at the desk and they'll give you an elevator card."
Just then the elevator opened to let off a party of people.
A pregnant woman came out with several men. She was laughing at something they were talking about and one of the men courteously took her arm while another hovered his hand over her lower back to make sure she was able to step out of the lift without harm.
Patrick had told me all I would have to do would be insist on seeing Tyler in person.
"Tyler didn't say anything to me about an elevator card."
I bluffed the guard based on the fact I didn't see anyone leaving the elevator with a card in hand. He looked more annoyed with me and I knew I would have to keep him off-balance or I would get myself thrown out before I had a chance to ask for help.
"The security desk will call ahead for you, ma'am. Please go give them your name to announce you."
Giving them my name wouldn't help at all.
My memories of the night I had spent with Tyler were hazy at best. I couldn't recall the exact sound of his voice, but I remembered him asking me my name over and over while I insisted it didn't matter.
The drug in my system was potent enough to strip away all my inhibitions. I'd writhed against him, under him, over him. My wolf hadn't fought back because she had recognized her mate in him. Names didn't mean anything to Rayne.
I felt anger flicker through me as Rayne came closer to the surface. I knew my eyes were going to start glowing if I wasn't careful.
"Tyler is my mate and I am going to see him!"
The guard stepped back and raised his hands cautiously.
I guess Rayne made a better impression than I did.
"I really can't let you get on the elevator without checking in. Mr. Wright hasn't announced a mate. Yet. Ma'am," he added.
I felt proud at the way the guard was nearly stuttering to appease me, but I didn't have time for pride or anything else.
I had to save Ethan.
Patrick had told me to insist on seeing Tyler himself. I was going to make sure I saw him in person until someone physically dragged me away from the building.
I knew nothing about the drug I'd been dosed with and Patrick claimed he didn't either. I only believed him because he had sounded irritated about it when I pressed him; irritation was a sure sign of ignorance in Patrick's case.
Patrick insisted Tyler would give me the money I wanted -all the money I wanted- if I was really his fated mate.
All I had to do was let him get a whiff of me, he'd said, and I recalled how strongly Rayne had reacted to being covered in his scent in the room at LUST. If I was so taken with his scent, surely he'd be taken with mine.
"I am Tyler Wright's mate and I am pregnant! You will let me see him now or you'll explain how you let his mate and his child die!"
3 Years Later"Happy Third Mating Anniversary!"Tyler didn't reply to me as I mind-linked him. I knew he heard me all the same. As my mate, he couldn't block my messages even if he didn't choose to reply to them."Please come home right after work today. I'm preparing a special surprise to celebrate the occasion. You'll love it. I promise." I could feel a spark of interest from Tyler's side of the bond though he remained silent.Most females would have been at least a little concerned if their mate refused to respond to them, but I knew my situation wasn't ordinary.I was the offspring of an omega father from a lower pack who had blackmailed my alpha mate into accepting me by faking a pregnancy.The fact I hadn't known if I was pregnant or not at the time didn't matter. I had said I was pregnant; I wasn't. It was a lie. It was a lie I told for money.Money Tyler Wrigh
"I can't believe she's pregnant! I'm so, so sorry, Rachel!"I trembled from the force of my emotions. My tears washed away years' worth of stress and frustration and pain. I felt myself coming alive again as my sadness melted away to reveal hope for a different future for myself.No one had ever told me a mate could cause so much unhappiness to their supposed 'other half.'Bella led me to the sofa where I collapsed into a corner, kicking off my shoes so I wouldn't dirty her cushions. I drew my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around my legs. I thought maybe if I could make myself small enough, I could contain part of my feelings or at least shrink them down to a more manageable size."I thought The Model was just supposed to be a cover story for the events you 'couldn't' attend?"I rubbed my eyes with the heel of my hand as Bella's air quotes surprised a chuckle out of me as my tears dried.T
"What a filthy dog! I absolutely cannot get over Tyler blocking your calls! Does he think the mate bond will break on its own?"Focusing on keeping my hand steady, I traced the shape of my eyelid. Bella had given me free rein in her makeup drawer; she was always the bold one though she didn't really need cosmetics.I had spent the night alternating emotions. Bella and I ate too much junk food while complaining about men. We had decided I would be single forever sometime between the last of the potato chips and the first carton of ice cream."I don't know what he's thinking," I answered her honestly, "It isn't like I can hear his thoughts. I can barely feel him outside the headache he's given me."Was that what Tyler wanted to do? Make me miserable? Physically wear me down after all the years of mentally breaking me?I finished my eyes and put on a tinted lip gloss. I didn't want to go too heavy with my makeup when this j
Tyler's POV"What did she mean when she said 'you and your child'? Hhm? What was she talking about?"I missed the beginning, but I had heard enough to know Rachel thought Jenny was pregnant.Jenny blotted her face with a linen napkin the bartender offered her. She was looking everywhere but at me; I knew her well enough to know she was trying to find a way to get out of the situation sooner rather than later.Unlike with Rachel, I didn't take Jenny's arm. I only held my hand up to stop her from skirting me to scuttle off into the crowd."Don't even try it, Jenny. What did you do?"My wolf, Wynd, was unnaturally close to the front of my mind and I couldn't help the growl he pushed into my words.If Wynd had his way, we would turn right in the middle of Blue Diamond and tear the answers out of Jenny with our teeth."What did you say to my mate?" Wynd asked, forci
Rachel's POVMy head was pounding so hard I didn't notice my phone vibrating for a full minute despite it being right beside my hand."Hello?" I answered, confusion coloring my tone as I saw Tyler's housekeeper was calling me, "Magda, has something happened?"I had left instructions with the house staff to report directly to Master Tyler as I would no longer be in residence. They didn't need to know the particulars of why I was gone. All of them were well-trained as house servants who tended to ensure their discretion matched their ability to avoid asking questions not related to their work.Work hard and silently was Tyler Wright's preference."Madam Rachel, we have no hangover cure here.""I left the recipe with all the other house favorites. It's in the binder in the kitchen drawer beside the pantry.""No, no, I have never made it, Madam Rachel!"Magda was a sweet older woman. She reminded me o
Rachel's POV"Magda! Please meet me in the kitchen," I called as I entered the house.I was going to make sure the housekeeper knew how to make the hangover cure as well as I could so this never happened again. Tyler was not going to turn me into a maid because he couldn't force me to continue being his mate.I lined up all the fresh ingredients on the counter with my mortar and pestle. I would grind everything by hand. I would delay seeing Tyler as long as I could using the hangover tea as my excuse along the way.I'd been smart enough to stop by a fresh market on the way over in order to ensure I had all the fresh ingredients to hand. The last thing I needed was to get to the house only to have to turn around to run to the store.Magda asked questions quietly as I crushed the leaves and ground the fresh herbs. She handed me a strainer ball which I packed with the ingredients before closing tightly."Now we ne
Rachel's POV7 Days LaterFreedom suited me.I smiled all the time now and I took extra care with my appearance because I wanted to, not for any other reason. If someone complimented me, I thanked them and I knew they were being honest because for the first time in my life I was only myself.Before I had mated Tyler Wright, I had been Patrick Flores's daughter. People who complimented me in my youth either did it out of pity because they knew my father and his nasty habits or they knew my mother had died young leaving me to practically raise my younger brother alone.After I had mated Tyler Wright, I had been hidden away except to the closest of family. If any compliments came from those people, they were only in an attempt to gain favor with Tyler.Had I ever been free before rejecting my mate?I honestly didn't know.My life felt completely new. The whole world felt wide open to me.I spe