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It felt like just yesterday when Olivia, I, and Liam used to be best friends. Five years ago when I was the alpha’s daughter, when mom and dad ruled the pack, Olivia always laughed at me for being too naive.

“You are the luckiest girl in the world. The world is literally at your feet, Mia.” she said, grinning happily.

“I know.” I smiled delightfully, “the only one missing is my mate. He better be strong and handsome. I want to fall in love with him at first sight.” I giggled.

“And good in bed,” Olivia smirked.

She can be crass sometimes, nasty to others, and mischievous. But she is my best friend. I will love her and protect her as she is. You don’t try to change the ones that you love.

Everything was good. So happy and playful. But then one night changed everything.

I remember mom wearing a yellow, flowery dress and bending down to kiss me goodbye. Mom and dad were going out to do their annual inspection of the pack territories.

But they never came back.

Wyatt, our beta, returned alone with a red enchanted fabric in his hand. He said this is the only thing left out there aside from burnt bodies. The piece of fabric has been cast a fireproof spell. They suspect it’s left by the murderer or at least a witness. Suddenly an image came to my mind as if I saw mom tear the fabric apart from the murder’s cloak in desperation. 

Without grieving at all, Wyatt took over the Alpha position. 

I will never forget the look on Olivia’s face. The shock quickly shifts to delight.

I was blinded at first. “Olivia, let’s..” I try to lean on her for consolation. It is the most vulnerable moment in my life. I need my best friend to be there. But she wasn’t. In fact, she dodged me instantly.  

“Who gives you the right to command me” she spat, laughing hard, “So many years of enduring seeing your dumb ass as a fucking center of everything. Do you really think I love that? Being your sidekick. Play the best friend to you. Finally, it’s my time to shine!”

I couldn’t believe what I heard. How could she? We’ve shared our dreams and laughter together. We’ve known each other since we were babies. 

“You don’t mean this. I’ll forget what you just said, Olivia.” My voice trembles. 

But she throws me a blank stare. “Get out of my way.” She said coldly. 

Suddenly someone is clapping  from behind and startled us. I turned around and saw Wyatt is clearly enjoying this show. 

“Alpha Wyatt!” Olivia exclaimed, as sweet as honey. She walks to him, shaking her ass like a snake, and clings to his arms.

“You are definitely something, Olivia.” Wyatt looks at her with interest. “What do you want from me?”

“I wouldn’t dare to ask for anything.” Her hand began to fondle and linger on his chest. Her voice is seductive as a siren,  “I’m merely a servant at your feet, my lord. Show me a bit of mercy, and there’s nothing you couldn’t take from me.” Her nimble fingers suggestively unbutton the top of his shirt.

Wyatt definitely noticed her suggestion. He carried her in his arms and rushing to find a room while Olivia let out a gasp. She didn’t forget to look in my direction and form a winning smile. The next thing I knew, she became his mistress. 

Everything was gone. Everyone was gone except Liam. Liam has been appointed as the new Beta. He chose to serve the new reign to protect his family from being exiled

Wyatt, the vicious, ruthless alpha had taken over the throne, and I lost all the protection. Forced into omega position to be kicked around, hit, overworked, and degraded every day… I thought my life was over.

But then it did not end at that.

**Present**

I was preparing the food, an old maid, Diana, who had been working as an omega in our pack for years and had always been the kind one to me, inched closer, sneaking an orange to me, “Happy eighteenth birthday, Mia.” she whispered with a small smile.

I took it gratefully, sliding it into the pocket of my apron, “Thank you.”

First birthday blessing. First gift. 

We continued to pretend to work closely as she whispered again attentively, “You are of age now. Are you looking forward to finding out who your mate is?”

Mate. I repeated the word bitterly. That word was all I was thinking of when I was still that careless princess. 

“You will know what completion feels like when you find your mate”, mama had said, “He’ll ignite an eternal fire in your heart that shall not be put out by anything or anyone.”  My heart sank when I thought about Mama. 

 It is not a privilege I can afford. But if there is anyone who might be my mate…

There was a knock at the kitchen door. Someone opened the door and immediately bowed, “Beta Liam”. 

Talk about the Devil! My fingers tightened in fists, my heart thrumming harder than ever. It’ll be convenient if we are mates. It’ll be good for the plan. Mia, you can do it.

I took a deep breath. Be calm, be cool, I thought to myself, Don’t reveal anything. And then I turned round to face him.

Nothing.

Somehow I felt the deafening silence in a crowded and chaotic room, as if we have transit into another place where there were only two of us. The hurt flashed across his eyes cannot be missed. That could be a problem, I thought, surprised I could feel so calm, and relieved after discovering that he isn’t my mate. 

Liam is tall and strong with gorgeous caramel white skin and dark hair. He has a black, roaring wolf tattoo on his chest. He’s still gentle and careful like before.  But years of wars and struggles for power have also made him a possessive and ambitious man.

He is respected and logically the fitting person to be my mate. But the heart cannot be deceived, I thought gloomily.

He came closer to me, and I bowed, “Beta Liam”

“Alpha has called you.” He said blankly, avoiding eye contact.

My heart stopped for a moment. It was never a good thing when Alpha called. Fear had already engulfed me. I can’t afford anything to go wrong today.

I took a deep breath, hid my trembling hands behind the apron, and stared into Liam’s eyes. 

“I have made the dessert for alpha. The one he eats daily. One extra spoon of sugar like he asked ” I muttered softly. 

Liam knew what I was talking about. He extended his hand, “Give it to me. I will present it.”

I did as he asked. My hand touched his briefly, our eyes connecting with each other. A bit of a spiral of emotion was in both our eyes.

He started walking ahead of me, taking me out of the packhouse and bringing me to the large execution ground. 

That’s a terrible sign.

My breath stopped when I saw a big stage in the middle, five werewolves were lined up there, strapped to a column.

Alpha Wyatt stood in front of them like a proud executioner. A smirk played on his thin lips. His bald head shined under the sun, his emotionless eyes slid to me as soon as I appeared,

“Here is the princess!” he announced loudly as I got closer to the stage with a frightful expression, “want to see your birthday present?”

I stared at the faces of the people who had been lined up on the execution stage. I then recognized the faces. All five of them were people who had briefly shown me a bit of kindness in the past.

The cleaner, who had slipped in a healing cream tube to me when he noticed that my wounds kept on bleeding from all the wolfbane whips I had been hit with by the alpha. The other one, was a pack member who hadn’t hit me when everyone else in the hall had two days ago when I had spilled some tea on the ground. The others had done the same, taking mercy on me in the briefest moments. 

“I have said so many fucking times, but you didn’t listen to me, did you?” Alpha Wyatt smirked at the people lined up, “This slut is pack property. Why do you show any sign of mercy to her when I say you are not allowed?”

He leaned in closer to the cleaner’s face, spitting, “You think you are bigger than your alpha?”

He straightened and turned around to face me. His eyes were cold, and his face filled with disgust for me, “Now you- you will fulfill alpha’s order. Come up here.” he picked up a thin, large knife, extending it towards me, “skin these traitors alive!”

I was trembling from head to toe, wondering how in the world things had turned out like this! Why? I could not even say a word as I stood there, dumbfounded and speechless. 

“This slut seduces everyone!” Olivia giggled and came closer to the alpha, clinging to his arm and kissing the side of his face with wet kisses, “pretty sure she fucked all of them and then pretended to be a damsel in distress to gain their sympathy. Habits don’t die so easily, alpha.”

Olivia was my best friend. But now she became one of my biggest bullies. Standing next to the thirty years old alpha Wyatt as his girlfriend, she found seeing me miserable entertaining.

“Alpha, can I take her as my maid?” she pouted and shook alpha’s arm to get his attention, “I want to see something fun. Let her be my personal maid from now on?”

When I did not climb up on the stage to take the knife from his hand,  Alpha Wyatt threw the knife right at my face. It flew past me, leaving a small cut on my cheek as it landed on the ground. It would have pierced my face if it had been just one inch to the left.

“Get started!” his thundering voice shook the ground, 

My knees had turned weak as I tried to fight off the overwhelming fear. I fell to my knees, my whole body shivering in fear, “Please… a- alpha. I can’t do that. I can’t skin them alive!”

I have endured so much in these past five years. Humiliation, pain, physical wounds and more but this was not something that I could do to others. 

“Please forgive them. I- I will make sure that nothing like this happens ever again! I am begging you.” Tears streamed down my face, making everything blurry. His green eyes still stared down at me with disgusted expressions.

“You are no fun…” he groaned and snatched Olivia closer to his body, groping her ass openly. A dirty smirk appeared on his face as he muttered, “Maybe I should give you to Alpha Alessio. He has a way with women. I wonder what he will do to you. Women are crazy for him.”

I stared at him silently. I did not want to anger him at any cost but every emotion that was inside me was making me overwhelmed with misery and sadness. How can someone be this cruel? How can someone enjoy seeing others in pain?

Alpha Wyatt walked to the edge of the stage, his eyes never leaving my sight. “Alright, how about since it’s your special day, I show you some mercy?” he said in a low voice. I was not holding much hope.

“If you walk over here, crawl on your knees to me and then bark like a dog, I might consider forgiving these traitors.”

I became still with shock, staring up at him in disbelief. My gaze briefly slid to Liam whose hands were clenched in tight fists. His face was set in a rock-hard, cold expression while he stayed rooted to his spot.

But my choice was clear. I could not let those people die so miserably for the sake of my pride. I had lost almost everything already. 

Tears continued to flow down my cheeks as I obeyed and crawled to him on my hands and knees. My tears dripped continuously, but I held back the sobs in my chest. I was dying a little inside, but I had to obey. 

Someone came running from behind and rushed to Alpha Wyatt, “Alpha, there is…” his voice got lower as he whispered something.

Alpha Wyatt immediately turned around and walked off. Olivia shot me a disgusted glance with a smirk before following the alpha quickly. Liam climbed down the stage, I sat back on my heels, sobbing with my head down.

Displeasure was clear on his face as he bent down and whispered in my ear, “Just wait, Mia. It will be over soon.” 

Yes, it will be over soon. Everything people do come at a price. Wyatt is not an exception.

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