Ten years old
“How’s my beautiful girl?” My dad asks me as I walk down the stairs of our packhouse on my 10th birthday.
“Good morning Daddy. I’m good. I can’t wait to get my wolf today!”
I’ve been the apple of my father’s eye for ten years. He is always proudly taking me around, introducing me to our pack members and other pack members through the years. I walk over and hug him as he kisses the top of my head.
“Happy birthday sweetheart.” My mother says, coming up and kissing my cheek. “How do you feel? Any different yet?”
“Not yet. Should I feel different?”
“It can happen at any time today, Gracie. Don’t fret.” My father tells me, chucking me gently under the chin.
My parents have a big party planned for me tonight. I’m hoping that I can shift before my party and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to run into my party as my wolf. As an Alpha female and my father’s only heir, it would be fitting. The pack would love it.
Everyone in the pack adores me, or at least respects my position as their future Alpha. As I go through my day, I’m continually wished a happy birthday and everyone asks if I’ve heard from my wolf yet.
As my party draws closer, I express my concern to my mother. “Mom, what if she doesn’t come before the party. What will I do?”
“Grace, honey, it’s okay. Your wolf will come when she’s ready. Just be patient. If she’s not here tonight, maybe she’ll come tomorrow.”
I get ready for my party. My mom helps me with my hair, adding a little makeup and then the dress that we bought last weekend specifically for tonight.
She walks downstairs with me, looking regal in her own matching gown. My mother is an amazing Luna. She looks after everyone in the pack, making sure that their needs are addressed and that they know how important they are to her and my father.
My father is a good Alpha, strong and patient, at least with me. I’ve seen him during warrior training and he can be fierce and intimidating, but that’s what a good Alpha is. He leads by example and I plan to do the same.
My mother guides me to the stage and I can tell my father is a little disappointed that I haven’t gotten my wolf yet. But he wishes me a happy birthday, giving me my favorite drink, a Shirley Temple, and makes a toast to me, the pack’s future Alpha.
As the days go by after my birthday, I become more and more concerned that my wolf hasn’t made an appearance. Every day my father asks if she has awakened, and every day I have to tell him that she hasn’t.
As the weeks go by, my relationship with my father changes. It’s as if he blames me for not having a wolf, as if I am purposefully keeping her from him. I begin to dread the mornings, when he asks me if I have my wolf.
Eventually, it becomes the only question he asks me. “Did your wolf awaken?” When I tell him no, it’s the last thing he says to me until the next morning when he asks again.
I find myself crying to my mother every night. “Why? Why hasn’t she shown up mom? Why don’t I have my wolf? Did I do something wrong? Is the Moon Goddess angry with me?” Every night, my mother holds me as I cry, rocking me and trying to soothe my anxiety and frustration. But there is nothing that can calm me, especially when my father continues ignoring me.
As the weeks turn to months, my father’s anger only gets worse. I notice him snapping at my mother now too. “This is your fault.” He snarls at her one day. “I should never have taken such a weak wolf as a mate. I should have rejected you and taken an Alpha female as my mate.”
I dread my 11th birthday. My father starts the day as he always does. “Did your wolf awaken?”
I swallow my tears, they only make him more angry. “No father.” His lip curls in disgust.
“Well, we won’t be having a party to celebrate tonight since there is nothing to celebrate.” He tells me before walking out.
One night, not long after my 11th birthday, I wake to sounds of violence. I rush out of my room to hear things slamming around in my parents’ room. I rush into their room, thinking we are under attack but what I see nearly stops my heart. My father has my mother against the wall, holding her by her neck. She has a bruise darkening on her cheek.
My father turns and sees me standing there. “Get out!” He yells at me. As much as I want to move, I can’t make my feet work.
He turns to my mother. “Tell her to get out unless you want her to watch as I force you to give me another heir, one worthy of being Alpha.”
My mother looks at me, her eyes showing the pain that she’s feeling at my father’s abuse. “Go on sweetheart. Go back to bed. Everything is fine.”
“It’s not fucking fine.” He snarls at her and begins ripping at her clothes with his free hand, still holding her against the wall.
“Go.” My mother mouths to me and I turn and run from the room, closing the door as I do. I don’t want anyone else to see what my father is doing to my mother.
The next morning, only my father emerges from their room. He asks me the usual question and when I say no, he mutters something about me being useless like my mother before heading downstairs.
I go to my parents' room, knocking before opening the door. My mother is limping toward the bathroom, her naked body riddled with bruises and dried blood on her thighs. She turns, her eyes haunted. “Grace, honey, you shouldn’t be here.”
I close the door and walk to her. “He’s gone, let me help you mother.”
She nods and I help her walk to the bathroom. I start a warm bath for her and help her to get in, letting her body soak. While she does, I go back out to the bedroom, seeing the blood-stained sheets. I rip them off and replace them before the house omegas can see. I don’t know if this is the first time, but no one should know what has happened in this room.
I go back into the bathroom, leaning against the tub.
“Mom, I’m so sorry, this is all my fault.” Her eyes were closed, but when I speak, she opens them and cups my face in her hand.
“Don’t ever take the blame for what happened to me. You have no control over when your wolf emerges. I love you and I do not now, nor will I ever regret having you, my beautiful daughter.”
Over the next year, I find my mother is this state nearly every morning. My father begins asking two questions every day, one of me and one of my mother. “Has your wolf emerged?” and “Are you pregnant?”
This becomes our life, until my 12th birthday.
I dread the morning of my 12th birthday. I know my father is getting more and more angry and if I don’t have my wolf on my birthday, it will set him off. Over the last two years, his anger and aggression have increased and the pack is suffering for it. Everyone walks on eggshells with my father now. No one comes to the packhouse any longer and I’m thankful because I don’t want anyone to see what he does to my mother. His abuse of her has gotten worse over the past year. I’m terrified that one day he will kill her. The door to my room slams open, and I jerk up out of bed. “Well?” My father says without any preamble. I just shake my head, no. He stalks toward me. “You worthless excuse for a daughter. You are nothing to me.” He raises his hand to hit me and my mother comes flying in, out of nowhere, putting herself between me and him. His backhands her, his hand slamming into her cheek. Her head whips around, spit and blood flying from her mouth. He sneers down at my mother as she tur
That conversation with my mother happened five years ago. My father’s infidelity killed her slowly over three years. In the end, I believe my father took another mate. My mother had been getting weaker and weaker, but that last day, her scream of pain was something I will never forget. It was my sixteenth birthday. My mother had taken the day off to celebrate with me. So many of my birthdays had been ruined by my father, but this one ended up being the worst. The day had started out amazing. We’d gone to a local river, hiking through the forest. Mom wasn’t able to shift any more, her wolf had become too weak over the years, but we still made the most of our time. It was while we were having dinner, in the evening, the time when parties and events would have occurred in the pack, that it happened. At first, mother stopped, food midway to her mouth. She had such a strange look on her face, but then it happened. She grabbed her neck where her mating mark was and screamed. I ran to her
The irony of this situation is not lost on me, proving that the Moon Goddess does, indeed, have a sense of humor. I kidnapped a Guardian nearly a year ago to forcibly take her as my mate. She ended up being underage, so me trying to mark her didn’t work.While I’ve seen the error of my ways and realize what I did was a terrible thing, here I am, looking into the eyes of my mate, who is also a Guardian.She walks over to me, eyeing me cautiously. “What can I get you to drink?” She asks me.“I’d like a water, your name and what time you get off work. I think we have some things to discuss, don’t you?”“Water. Coming right up.” Before she can turn away from me, I grab her hand. “And your name?”I hear someone standing up behind me. She looks past me. “It’s okay, Benny.”She turns back to me. “My name is Grace and I don’t think we have anything to talk about. Are you going to leave before you order food, or should I really bring your water this time?”Okay, the sass is turning me on. Well
“This is me.” I tell him when we arrive at my apartment. Maia really could have given me the head’s up about being this guy’s Guardian. I don’t know exactly what that means, but Maia is adamant that we are now bound to him. This man who is practically old enough to be my father but is actually my mate. It’s not that he’s unattractive. He has a dark and broody look to him, dark skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. Even through his clothes, I can tell that he’s ripped. His broad shoulders and chest look like solid muscle. His legs are the size of tree trunks, and I can see the muscle cutting lines through his jeans like they are molded to him. But it doesn’t matter. I know how toxic the mate bond is. I lived it, watching my father mistreat my mother, then slowly watching her die. I refuse to put myself in that position. “Thanks for walking me home. Good talk.” I step up to open my door when he takes my hand. “We’re not done yet. We still have a lot to talk about.” “I’m done talking. I ga
I’m pleasantly surprised when Grace pushes forward and kisses me. I don’t waste any time taking what she is offering. It becomes apparent to me quickly that she is inexperienced, but her tentative exploration only excites me more.When she pushes away from me, I can see that her wolf and the mate bond overwhelmed her. I’m fine with that. Louis keeps pushing me to mark her and make her ours. But I made that mistake before, trying to push someone into a mate bond they didn’t want. I refuse to do it again.It was one of the first questions that Rik asked me when I called him last night, if I had forced the mate bond on Grace. After letting him know that she’s my fated mate and no, I have not yet marked her, he and I both agreed that this situation is not ideal. Her being a young, Alpha female who is also a Guardian, alone in the world, puts her at risk. I also told him that there is something going on with her past and I plan to find out what it is. I let him know that she may not be as
When Eli tells me he’s spent most of his life without parents, I’m shocked. I wasn’t expecting that. “What happened to them?” I ask. If I’m telling my story, he should tell his too. “My mother died giving birth to me.” He stops, his jaw tightening. “And your father?” I ask quietly. I can tell that this won’t be as simple as his mother’s death. The muscle in his jaw twitches before he answers. “The short version is my father challenged our Alpha heir to a duel after he caused the death of my older brother, the future Beta. The Alpha forbade it, but his son agreed. My father in his grief, killed the Alpha heir, the only child of our Alpha.” He stops and takes a sip of his tea before looking back up at me. “The Alpha forced me to watch as he beheaded my father, blamed him for the death of my brother and the Alpha heir, called him a traitor, then he banished me. I was 12, so I understand your mother’s concern about not surviving alone at that age. I almost died as well.” I swallow ha
I hadn’t intended to tell Grace my history, or at least not yet, but it seems to have opened her up. Maybe our similar stories will help her see that I’m not all bad and can possibly be trusted, if not as her mate, maybe as her friend. I’m thrilled that she asks me to run with her. I would have anyway, since I need to protect her, especially with the nearby packs. I didn’t like how close to their boundaries she ran last night. It puts her at too much risk. All they have to do is see her eyes to know what she is. Only Guardians have golden eyes. Louis is beside himself in his happiness playing with Maia. She’s definitely all in with the mate bond. He’s enjoying the chase, periodically nipping at her heels when we smell them. I hadn’t realized how close we’d gotten to the pack’s border, but there are three standing at the border, almost as if they are waiting for Maia to show up, and they probably are. If this is her pattern, they would have picked up her scent and would be waiting to
It’s exhausting constantly running, riding on bus after bus. We haven’t had a decent meal or shower in a week. Benny called the day after we left and let me know two ‘shady looking men’ were in the diner asking about a young woman.When Eli finally feels like we can stop overnight, we get a hotel room. At first, I was concerned about only having one room, but I’m too tired to argue. When we get to our room, I see that there are two beds.“Get a shower. I’ll be back in a bit.”“Where are you going?” I ask him.“I’m going to look around and make sure we aren’t being followed and then I’m going to get us something decent to eat. Do not open the door for anyone.”He comes over taking my face in his hands and kisses my forehead. He pulls back and looks in my eyes. “You’ll be safe. I won’t be gone long.”After he leaves, I grab my things and head to the bathroom. I turn on the water, letting it get warm before stripping off my clothes and getting under the stream of hot water. I lift my fac