"What did you just say?" I asked, trying to calm my beating heart. "Wrong?"
How could he say that I was thinking wrong after discovering we were mates? What about what happened that night on the beach?
"I'm sorry if I led you to have misguided delusions about us." Asher responded evenly. "However, what happened then won't happen again."
At his words, all the warmth disappeared from my body, leaving me frozen to the core.
He was rejecting... but why? Especially after what happened between us.
"I only came here to deliver something." Asher continues. "Here."
Remaining in place, I watched as Asher dug in his pocket and pulled out a small glass vile that had a swirling black liquid in it. However, that wasn't what shocked me. What got me was the rawness of the hand that was clutching it.
"What happened to your hand?" I demanded, surging forward. "How did it get like that?"
The skin that connected with mine in that instant was hot to the touch, and now that I was close enough, I could see sweat beading on Asher's forehead.
"Don't touch me!" Asher bellowed, yanking his hand away.
"I..." My eyes grew wide as I looked up into Asher's rage-filled face. "I'm sorry, I just..."
"I've delivered what I came to deliver." Asher spat. "Now I'm leaving."
"But you just got here!"
Taking a tentative step forward, I prepared to grab Asher's wrist, but was stopped by an invisible force that sent me sprawling to the ground.
"Did you just use your magic on me?" I gasped, watching him in disbelief.
"I told you to stay back." Asher snarled. "Who are you to even think that you can touch me?"
Who was I? I was his mate! Why was he even being this way?
"Just stay away from me."
I stared at Leah's prone form on the ground and felt a thousand tiny needles stab into my heart.
'Stay strong.' I reminded myself. 'This is for her own good.'
I needed to make sure that there was no hope left for her. Otherwise, I feared she would just be hurt in the end.
"When we meet again, we will be strangers." I sighed, dealing the last blow.
"But we're mates." Leah murmured as her eyes began to fill with tears.
This was it. This would be where I could end it.
"I'm sorry, but I reject you."
Each word hurt so damn badly to say, but I couldn't taint her any further.
"Why did you do it then?" She whispers so quietly I'm not quite sure if I heard her correctly.
"Why did you do that to me if you don't want me?" She responded louder. "Why give me hope?"
"Because I was bored."
With this, she should hate me.
The word was sharp as it left her lips. If she wasn't mad before, she definitely was now.
"You decided to do that because you were bored?" She hissed, getting to her feet. "Are you fucking kidding me?"
I didn't respond as Leah surged towards me, her eyes blazing red with rage. She was pissed and for good reason, but dammit, it really pained me to see that hatred on her face directed at me.
Balling her fist, she explodes, slamming it straight into my jaw, knocking my mask off in the process. As she begins to realize what she has done, I kneel down to pick it up and put it back in place.
"I-I didn’t," she stammered, her eyes growing wider. "I didn’t mean it."
"Doesn’t matter." I respond evenly. "Are you done throwing your tantrum now?"
"Tantrum..." Leah repeated, narrowing her gaze. "Do you think this is as simple as a tantrum?"
Of course it wasn’t, but if I wanted to protect her, I couldn’t let her back in.
"Since I’ve done what I came to do, I’m leaving." I sighed, beginning to turn.
Leah’s voice is full of emotion as she speaks, but I keep looking straight ahead. When I don’t turn around, she quickly wraps her arms around my waist and tries to hold me in place. Her body, which presses against mine, is shaking violently. I can feel every emotion she is feeling seeping into me, threatening to drown me, but I can't give in.
"Why are you pushing me away?" She whimpered, burying her face in my back. "What has happened to you?"
I can feel her agony through our bond and it is damn near killing me. However, I still reach down and grab her wrists. A gasp escapes her as I remove her arms from around me and step out of her reach.
"Touch me again and you will suffer the consequences." I hissed. "Go find someone else to shower your childish emotions on."
With that, I began to move. Behind me I could hear sobs escaping Leah, but I didn’t stop. This would be the last time I hurt her. As long as I reminded myself of that, I could keep going.
I continued to move until I was deep in the forest where Aldina waited. Stopping in the middle of a clearing, I searched the area, trying to discover where the hell she was hiding. I knew that she had to be near by, watching and enjoying the show that was unfolding in front of her.
"You were quite rude." Her sweet voice cooed as her white arms snaked around my waist. "Did you really have to hurt the poor dear that badly?"
Tensing, I gritted my teeth as my body recoiled from her touch. Fuck, why had I promised her a favor for helping me?
"Are you still going to try to resist me?" She purrs, coming to stand in front of me, so I had no choice but to stare into her red eyes. "I gave you the choice to change your mind, and you didn’t. Now, you have to make good on your promise. "
"Of course," I hissed, trying to relax.
I knew what was coming and that if I resisted, it would be much more painful. I needed to try to relax. However, every time it happened, I felt the darkness beginning to stir. It was almost as if her venom brought it to life and pushed me that much closer to the edge.
"Mmmm." I love the smell of your anger and resistance." Aldina giggled. "But I'm starving and am ready to eat."
[Asher’s POV]"Then hurry up and get this over with." I hissed, as Aldina’s hands began to venture up my shirt."That’s a good boy." She beamed, flashing her extended fangs.Nodding, I closed my eyes and collapsed on the ground, waiting for her to take a spot beside me. Once she did, she brought her lips to my neck and allowed her teeth to dig deep into my skin.Letting out a hiss, I felt myself beginning to drift as her endorphins began to flow through me. Images of that night started to appear, sending torrents of emotion through me. Back then, I was so desperate to help Leah, I didn’t even think twice about what I had to do. I would give my very soul to help her be able to reverse the curse that was put on her. That was why I sought out the help of this vampiress and her mate.After searching high and low, I was given information on the two and didn’t hesitate to find them. However, I hadn’t expected that in the end I would have to make a decision that questioned all my morals. Ho
[Thia’s POV]I watched as many emotions flashed across Leah’s face. It looked like my assumption that something serious happened between her and Asher was right. However, it was clear she didn’t want to talk about it, and I had no intention of pushing her."I don’t want to discuss it." Leah finally sighed. "Can you just trust me to be able to handle my own problems?""What about Arabia?" I asked slowly.If Asher and Leah weren’t getting on well, what would happen to her? It was already enough that Leah wasn’t able to tell Asher about her, but now she may never be."Why are you bringing her into this?" Leah hissed, trying to keep her expression neutral. "This doesn’t concern her at all.""How does it not?" I asked, remaining calm. "Are you planning to just raise her all on your own? That’s ridiculous."I knew that I was treading on thin ice by bringing up Arabia, but Leah needed to realize that she couldn’t keep her a secret forever. Asher had a right to know about her, and Leah deserv
[Thia’s POV]"What did you just say?" I asked slowly, unsure of whether or not I heard correctly. "Did you just say murdered?"My mind was reeling as I tried to process that something like that was actually happening. Daniel was a strong and well weathered warrior. How could someone actually manage to kill him? Especially in his own lands!"That’s right." Antoine confirmed as Ashton remained quiet. "Mom found him this morning outside of their home.""But…how?"None of this was making sense. How was anyone able to get close enough to him to do that?"That is minor." Ashton growled, coming back to life. "They’re accusing mom of doing it since she was the only one around.""Goddess!" I gasped, lifting a hand to my mouth. "Do they have no faith in your mother?""Things have been rocky since Tristan’s death." Antoine sighed, clenching and unclenching his fists. "Dad insisted he was trying to de-escalate the situation with Tristan’s pack but...""They weren’t willing to cooperate." Ashton f
[Leah’s POV]"Don’t touch her!"The loud voice booms around the bustling pub, causing silence to fall entirely. Even the thugs that had been making their way towards me only moments before stopped and turned to face whoever it was that spoke.As I watched, a tall man with blazing red hair and dark eyes began to make his way towards me. Who the hell was he and why was he getting himself involved in this?"Shit!" Ian hissed from beside me, causing me to look towards him. "What the fuck is that bastard doing here?""Who is he?" I whispered, keeping my gaze fixed on the man as he quickly closed the space between us."Let me answer that." He chuckled, holding up his hands. "Shall we chat over a drink?""Sure." Ian responded before I could decline. "Let me grab us some beers.""Ian," I hissed, trying to determine what the fuck was going on. "What are you doing? This guy is the enemy. ""Leah, I suggest you just go along with whatever he wants." Ian responded, giving the man an apologetic lo
[Leah’s POV]I stumbled into the house, trying to remain quiet. Behind me, Ian kept urging me to be careful, but I wasn’t bothering to listen. I shouldn’t have drank so much, like really shouldn’t have. My head was spinning and my stomach was churning."Thia’s going to kill us." Ian sighed as I stumbled into the living room doorway. "Why did you get so drunk?"Why? That was a ridiculous question. He witnessed Asher’s indifference for himself. Wasn’t it obvious I was trying to numb the pain that I was feeling?"Have your heart broken and then ask me that." I grumbled, trying to straighten up. "Who says I haven’t?" Ian countered. "Now, let's get you upstairs before...""Too late!" Thia called from the living room. "Get in here, NOW!""Shit," Ian hissed. "Busted.""So what?" I huffed. "She isn’t my mother, and I’m an adult."Shaking Ian’s supportive arm from my waist, I squared my shoulders and stomped into the living room to find Thia sitting on the couch waiting."Where have you been?
[Leah’s POV]I move quickly through the dark streets of town with Ian following closely behind me. Though I had insisted that he didn’t need to come along, he refused to leave my side, nsisting that I still wasn’t sober enough to take on such a task. And even though I wanted to argue with his reasoning, I couldn’t since the world around me was still spinning ever so slightly.When we finally arrived at our destination, we found that the pack grounds were alive with action, and Ashton was the center of it."Uh oh," Ian murmured beside me. "Looks like he’s ready to kill someone.""You don’t say." I hissed. "What in the world is going on here?"Surging forward, I make a beeline for where my brother-in-law is standing and begin to shove my way through the sea of bodies surrounding him. Curses and growls escape those that I manage to move, while elbows and hands hit me by those who won’t. However, I continue to make my way through until I finally reach Ashton."Ashton!" I hissed, reaching
[Asher's POV]"Let me go!" I growled, grabbing Ashton's hand. "Leah is still in there!"As I fought, I could feel a primal, animalistic need growing within me. It was dark, and I knew if I gave in, I would be taking another step towards the path I was trying so desperately to avoid. However, my mate was in danger, and there was no fucking way I was going to just give up that easily."LET GO!"A wall of light exploded from me as the words left my lips, sending Ashton stumbling backwards with a look of shock in his eyes."What the hell?" He growled, but I was already turning my attention to the rubble in front of me that used to be a home."Stay back." I hissed, hoping that Ashton wouldn’t question me. "Don’t come any fucking closer."Focusing on my newfound energy, I braced myself as I lifted my hands and sent a blast of air crashing towards the debris. In an instant, the broken planks and insulation lifted into the air, leaving the area they once laid completely bare. And sitting in t
[Asher's POV]I moved quickly through the night as the darkness clawed at me. I shouldn't have tapped into those powers, but Leah was in danger and I didn't hesitate to use them."Ugh!" Leaning against the trunk of a tree, I clutched at my arm and looked down. The rawness had spread up to my elbow."Dammit." I growled, through rapid breaths."Asher, Asher." Aldina's tinkling voice giggled as she came into sight. "Have you not learned yet?""Can it.""Shall I make the pain go away for you?" She asked sweetly. "All you have to do is ask.""No." I hissed, squeezing my eyes shut as another wave of excruciating pain rushed through me. "I don't need your help.""Don't be so sure."I could feel her heat as she knelt in front of me and placed a hand on my cheek. Her cold breath brushed against my clammy skin as my eyes shot open."If you just gave in, you wouldn't have to suffer anymore." She purred, staring deep into my eyes. "You know this."I bit back the laugh that wanted to escape me. O