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Chosen Mate: A Short Love Story

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

Chapter 1 - Stephen

“Ma… stop fussing over me already.” I try to dodge my mother as she attempts to attack my face with a baby wipe. I’m as clean as I’m going to get. I already took a damn shower.

“You’ve got something on your upper lip. I want you to look presentable if you’re being sent to aid another pack. You might find a second chance mate.” Mom huffed once again, trying to yank my face down to her to clean some invisible grime from my face.

“Ma, it’s called facial hair.” I groaned as she tried to rub off my facial hair. I’ve been trying to actually let my facial hair grow in.

I wanted to point out the chance of finding a second chance mate was near impossible. But since Beta John’s mate ended up being a human, people have started believing in miracles.

“That’s supposed to be facial hair?” Suzie giggled as she unzipped my duffle bag. I growled, trying to reach her, but mom had me by the collar before getting her.

“Stay out of my stuff, Suzie.” I growled. My little sister rolled her eyes at me and started digging through my bag.

As long as she doesn’t find the condoms, I’m good. I know they’re not something I should bring to war, but while I have no hopes of a second chance mate I certainly won’t be unprepared to hook up.

“EEEWWWWW!” Suzie squealed, throwing the box of condoms like they were wolfsbane.

I groaned and winced as my mother’s hold on my collar tightened, and her claws were digging into my skin. “When did those become standard issue gear for warriors? Who do you think you are, Stephen Rhett Walterson?”

Great. Now I’m going to get a lecture. I don’t have time for this. I need to report to the airstrip to not miss the plane. I can’t fuck this up. This is my first big assignment as a pack warrior. I’m one of the youngest warriors chosen to go.

Dad’s heavy footfalls echoed off the hardwood as he entered the kitchen. “Edith, let the boy go.” He sighed as he picked up the condoms.

“He’s an eighteen-year-old man, not a little boy. And there is nothing wrong with him having condoms. Better to be prepared than to find out a few months later we’re grandparents.” He shook his head, putting the box back into my duffle and zipping it.

Mom huffed but let me go. “Just stay out of trouble. You are going there to help fight a war. Goddess, you’re too young for war.” Mom frowned.

I sighed, grabbing my duffle. “Thanks, pop. And ma, I’m not too young. I joined the pack warriors when I was sixteen.”

“I’ll be fine. Alpha Logan wouldn’t have selected me if he didn’t think I could handle it.” I assured her, giving my mom a hug and kiss on the cheek.

“I’ll call you once I am allowed to.” I promised as she hugged me tighter, almost cutting off my air.

“A..air. Ma…air.” I gasped, tapping her shoulder. Thank Goddess she let go, and I could catch my breath.

She seems to forget her strength at times. Then again, she also seems to forget that Conway isn’t as strong as he was after losing Lexia.

I’m lucky he’s still around. And that’s probably more to do with the fact that we hadn’t gotten close to Lexia. We’d only scented her and made eye contact before the alarms went off, and she had to take shelter, and I had to report to fight.

I didn’t even know her name until after it was over and I went to find her. Only to find her sobbing mother holding her limp body.

I felt numb as Conway howled in agony. Conway didn’t speak or do anything for a year. A year of being able to feel my wolf, but he didn’t communicate, and I couldn’t shift.

It was hell, but he didn’t die, so that was good. It just took him time to recover. And even now, he’s not fully recovered. I just try to do what I can to help keep him from letting go completely.

I’ve been considering maybe taking a chosen mate. Of course, it would have to be someone that Conway and I agree on. So I’ve already ruled out all the humans I attend college with. Some are cute, but I want a werewolf mate. That way, Conway will have a she-wolf counterpart.

I sighed as I heard Clement laying on the horn of his jeep. I hate that guy, but he’s the only person who lives near my place that could give me a ride. Another reason I need to get my own car. I’m saving up to hopefully get one this fall.

“I’ll see you all soon. I’ll bring back a souvenir from Sicily.” I promised, hefting my duffle over my shoulder. Suzie begrudgingly hugged me as mom nudged her in my direction. Then dad gave me a hard pat on the shoulder before I was out the door.

“Dude, what took you so long? I want to get out of here. We’re going to fucking Italy! Imagine how many hot Italian girls we can hook up with.” Clement was grinning as I climbed into the passenger seat.

‘Can we kill him?’ Conway grumbled. ‘He speaks of females so disrespectfully. I pity his mate.’ He scoffed from where he was lying in our shared mind-space.

‘Sadly no. I wish, but who knows, we’re going to war. Anything could happen.’ I sighed.

“Sorry, ma was being well a mom.” I shrugged, giving a half-hearted apology.

It wasn’t like he was waiting long. Hell, he didn’t even come to the door or link me that he was here. Just laid on the horn-like an asshole.

“That’s why I’m glad I moved out as soon as I could. Can’t live with your mom and expect to get laid, man.” Clement scoffed as he skidded away from the curb.

I rolled my eyes. “You talk like you get laid.” I scoffed. I ignored him, growling at me calling him out for it.

“I’m more liking to get laid than you are.” Clement scoffed. “I mean, what female is going to want a broken wolf like you.”

That got Conway on his paws growling. Thank the Goddess we were already pulling up to the airstrip. I was opening the door before he could even come to a stop.

“I should kill you. You don’t get to talk that way to me. You have no idea what it’s like to survive. And I feel sorry for your mate. No one deserves to have a piece of shit that disrespects females for a mate.”

I grabbed my duffle from the back, intentionally hitting him in the head with it as I hopped out. “Stay out of my way while we are in Sicily.” I warned, double-timing it to where the others had started to gather around Captain Darren Delaney.

Now Darren Delaney is a wolf I actually look up to. I’ve actually been considering enlisting in the military to get that experience he and his brothers got. And yes, there would be the benefit of getting away from the pack and the reminder that I’m forever mateless.

If I manage one thing on this mission, it will be learning as much as I can from people like Darren Delaney and Collin Kearney. So my plan is to stick close to them. To prove my worth as a warrior. And stay as far away from Clement as possible.

Not that Clement makes that easy. He didn’t make anything easy for anyone after we arrived in Incubi. First, by saying stupid shit like how he can’t wait to fight.

We are here to stop a war. That doesn’t mean we have to kill people. We don’t even know what kind of conflict we are walking into.

Conway couldn’t sense any malice in the air when we pulled our convoy over. I wasn’t going to fight people who don’t actually want to be fighting.

Which is why I stayed with the convoy and went into town. I was pleased to arrive at the Incubi town hall. Odd that they don’t have a packhouse, but okay.

Especially when a gorgeous blonde greeted us. “Welcome to Incubi. I’m Zoe Petridis, daughter of our Beta.” She introduced herself before gesturing to the older version of herself, though with a different shade of blue eyes.

“And this is my mother, Beta Isadora Petridis.” I rather like her voice. The accent is hot.

“We will assign you rooms for your stay here with us. Please follow us.” So I, like the rest of us that arrived first, happily followed Zoe and Beta Isadora inside and to our rooms.

I was respectful, trying to not watch the sway of her hips like some of the unmated males. And, of course, Clement showed up and screwed up. My room is regrettably across the hall from him. So I saw the whole thing.

The moment he slapped her ass, I grimaced because she’s a Beta heir. Anyone messing with her is in for a world of hurt. And I was not wrong. Conway even blinked, sitting up when Zoe turned Clement to a statue with a glare.

‘Now that is a gift.’ Conway commented. I have to agree. Of the gifts I’ve seen, this one takes the cake. And has the added bonus that now Clement was silent.

I was well aware when Clement unfroze. Tragically it wasn’t permanent. I was the one that had to go find Collin since Captain Darren seemed occupied with the Incubi Alpha heir. I also got to witness Clement’s next bout of stupidity.

He sexually harassed a Beta heir and insults her and then the Alpha heir in the morning. I winced when I watched Alpha André pin Clement to the wall and threatened him. He seriously is stupid.

I can’t help but wonder if Clement was sent here to die. I don’t know Alpha Logan well enough to make that assumption. But I have to say, if I was in charge, I’d look for a way to dispose of Clement without getting my hands dirty.

Chapter 2 - Amelia

I’d been sent to our family’s vacation home by the coast three months ago. I didn’t even know that Ignazio had killed my parents for a month. I’d held out some invisible hope that Ivan was able to get them somewhere safe too.

Ignazio had utterly lost his mind. Killing Alpha Ugo and Luna Mirella just because he didn’t want to wait to find his mate to become Alpha. I always knew he was off, but I didn’t think he was so crazy and stupid to kill his parents.

And he continued the slaughter with our Betas, my parents, and even the Delta couple and their son when they wouldn’t bend to his will. I’m not sure how I feel that Ivan and Gastone support him. I want to believe at least Ivan only follows Ignazio to protect me.

I don’t want to believe my brother is some power-hungry monster. I had to hear through others that we had gone to war with Nebrodi because Ignazio wanted the Beta heir Crista.

It’s just disgusting. Women aren’t property, and she’s not his mate, so why would she want him? And now I’ve heard he started a war against Incubi because that’s where Crista ended up. He’s truly insane to want to take on the Mad Incubi Alpha.

But when a warrior came for me, I was terrified of what it meant. Even more so when they said that I was being called before the Alpha. As I rode in the back of the sedan, I feared the worst. I shifted on the last full moon.

Did Ignazio remember my birthday and realize I now have a wolf and has decided that means I’m a threat because I’m Gamma blood or that I should fight his stupid war?

It doesn’t matter why I’m being called to the packhouse. I’m terrified to face Ignazio.

‘It’s going to be okay. I’m right here with you.’ Faith tried to encourage me, but I could feel how terrified she was.

“Move it, lardass.” The warrior grunted, shoving me into the room the pack used to gather in. I growled at him, standing at my full height. I know well what I weigh, and I’m plump, but I’ve had enough comments like those.

The warrior seemed to shrink as he realized I’d been slouching and actually had five inches on him. I was ready to let into him when the scent of fresh-cut grass, garden herbs, and wildflowers.

It was heavenly. My head turned from the warrior I’d been intimidating and followed the scent into the great hall. My heart stopped, my breath freezing in my lungs as I opened the doors to find the source of the scent.

There he was. The source of the scent. The source of torment throughout my childhood. The reason I’m an orphan. Ignazio was sitting on what can only be called a throne, something that no Alpha had before used. Kneeling in front of him was a barely dressed female with a chain around her neck.

Faith whimpered as I wrapped my arms around myself, feeling like my insides were on fire while also needing to throw up. I turned my head and did just that all over the marble floors.

Ignazio is my mate, and… oh Goddess, this pain.

He hadn’t even acknowledged I had walked in. He was content in his throne, forcing that girl to provide him oral sex. I stumbled to my knees as the pain was unbearable. What is this pain? Why am I in pain?

I whimpered as I collapsed to the floor, barely conscious. “My Alpha. It appears we have trouble.” An unfamiliar female voice spoke.

Through squinted eyes, I looked around as I withered in pain. I saw a woman, but she was blurry.

From one angle, I saw a beautiful young woman, but she would appear to be a withering old woman. No matter the appearance, there was no mistaking that she had evil intentions.

“Oh… so the piggie has….” Ignazio’s voice reached me, but it was as if I was underwater with how muddled they were. I was still rolling in agony on the ground. Slowly the pain faded.

Before I could try to get up or even look around, Ignazio’s hand had grabbed my throat, pulling me to my feet. His claws were digging into my throat. Sparks were radiating out from his touch, but it wasn’t a balm to the pain he was causing.

‘He’s our mate….’ Faith whimpered, still unable to even stand after whatever that just was.

The hate, disgust, and anger in Ignazio’s mossy green eyes were crushing my heart as quickly as he was crushing my throat. I shouldn’t be surprised he would be angry that I’m his mate. I’m not thrilled either.

“I, Ignazio Ugo Grimaldi rej…” He started to say the words that would free me of him. As much as I knew it would hurt to be rejected, I’d take that pain any day over whatever that was a moment ago and what a life with someone like him would be.

“You can’t do that yet.” The woman oozed evil from every pore while still alternating between a beautiful young woman and a ragged old woman.

Ignazio stopped and glared at the woman. “Why not? Here I thought you’d want me to get rid of your competition.”

He smirked, and I felt sick again. I don’t know which version of the woman I’m seeing is real, but the fact he’s flirting with her, in general, makes me gag.

The woman scoffed, rolling her eyes. “There is no competition. But she’s your mate, and if you reject her without having marked your chosen mate, your wolf will suffer. And we already know he’s weak.” she cooed, stroking his arm.

I was weakly trying to hit his wrist to break free. It wasn’t working. Ignazio’s hold was too tight, and I was weak from that searing pain that nearly killed me.

“I… Am… Amelia Grace… Furlan…” I struggled to speak, to be the one to reject him if he wouldn’t reject me. I don’t care. Let his wolf die. May his wolf die and take Ignazio with him.

“Silence, mutt.” The woman hissed with a wave of her hand, and my voice died.

I opened my mouth to speak, to scream, but nothing came out. A witch! I tried to growl, but even that was muted. I fucking hate witches!

That explains why she keeps shimmering from her true self to what she is showing Ignazio. If I get my voice back, I wonder if I should tell him I see what she really looks like?

“You can’t let her speak. She cannot reject you nor tell anyone else in your pack she is your mate.” The woman glared at me before turning her gaze to Ignazio with a twisted gleam in her eyes.

“And what would you have me do with the sow?” He questioned, sneering at me yet giving her bedroom eyes. I want to throw up again.

“Well, she can’t speak without a tongue.” The woman’s lips curled into a sinister smile as she reached into the folds of her skirt, revealing her thigh. Goddess, help me. He’s ogling her thighs without knowing they are saggy and wrinkled.

“A silver blade should do. Well, go on. Cut out her tongue, then send her on the next mission. Best to have her out of sight, and this way, she can also serve a purpose for you.” The witch offered the plastic handle to a silver dagger to Ignazio.

I started to thrash, wanting to get away, but I couldn’t. I could feel the hot tears streaking down my cheeks as Ignazio slammed me to the floor. He was going to do it!?

He’s known me my whole life! He’s supposed to be my Alpha… my mate, and this is how he will treat me!? Why Goddess? Why did you do this to me!?

I couldn’t even scream because of the witch’s curse. I thrashed as Faith whimpered in my head. ‘Maximus doesn’t want to do this.’ She cried as the witch helped Ignazio hold me down.

My screams were silent as my mouth was forced open, and without a care, he grabbed my tongue, yanking it taught as he sliced through the sensitive flesh with the silver blade.

Faith was withering in pain just like me as the silver burned the nub he left. He scoffed, tossing my tongue into the trash.

“Get this trash out of my sight.” Waving his hand in dismissal. Two guards hurried in and hauled me away.

As I was carried down the hall choking on my own blood, the witch lifted her curse, and I began to scream and howl in pain. The guards left me in the infirmary, where I blacked out from the pain.

I woke up in the back of a truck with people I didn’t know. I knew some were from my pack based on scent, but others weren’t.

I tried to speak and question what was happening. But it came out garbled, and I remembered my mate had cut out my tongue.

‘What’s happening? Where are we going?’ I questioned through the link.

‘We are being sent to Incubi. You are to come with us.’ An older wolf nodded to himself and gestured to two other males.

‘We will sneak into Incubi and find their hospital to blow it up.’ he explained.

‘What about the others?’ I questioned, nodding to the terrified people at the far end of the truck.

‘They are going to be our cover. The Incubi will focus on their larger force while another group and us sneak past.’ A different male answered.

‘What is your name, girl? You smell of ranked blood.’ The older man questioned.

‘My name is Amelia. I’m Amelia Furlan, daughter of the late Gamma Noè and Grace, sister of current Gamma Ivan.’ I answered.

‘You mean former Gamma Ivan.’ The other male snorted.

I frowned. ‘What does that mean? Is my brother dead?’ I demanded, sitting up as the fears of what Ignazio could have done to Ivan played in my mind.

‘If he’s not, he will be. He was sent to battle and never returned. So they either killed him or captured him.’ The older male sighed.

‘I’m Terence Alesio. And the other two are Dorian Parris and Filiberto Cassano.’ He introduced, nodding to the two males flanking him.

‘I don’t know what you did to offend Ignazio, but like your brother, you’re being sent to your death. We all are. And we can’t even tell anyone about it.’ Terence sighed, patting my knee.

‘For what it’s worth, I’m sorry a young she-wolf is being sent to her death simply for her bloodline.’ He gave me a sad smile.

If he only knew the real reason I was sent here. I don’t want to discuss it right now. It will only make them pity me more.

‘What do you mean we can’t tell anyone else? Did he cut out your tongues too?’ I questioned.

The three all nodded in unison, opening their mouths. I cringed as I saw stubs of what remained of their tongues. Ignazio is genuinely a sick bastard. If I die, I hope it kills him too.

Chapter 3 - Stephen

Clement’s presence and stupidity aside, being in Incubi isn’t that bad. Even if I almost made an ass of myself by getting too close to Luna Crista’s younger sister. But thankfully, Darren was about to point out my misstep, and I was able to quickly correct it.

At least I didn’t get on his bad side, or at least that’s what I’m going to believe. He did choose to bring me with his team when Madonie attacked again.

As we raced to fight, I felt apprehensive. Not about fighting. I’m willing to fight and protect as needed. No, my issue was I knew we were going to face a dozen or so enemies, yet I felt no malice or hate coming from their direction.

When the Syndicate attacked Bloodmoon two years ago, I knew where they were. I felt their malice and hate for our people. I didn’t feel any of that as Conway’s paw pounded on the ground with the others.

I was actually relieved when we came to a stop. Apparently, it was just to allow Alpha André a chance to scout ahead. But sitting there didn’t feel right either.

As much as I didn’t feel malice from the large group ahead of us, I felt some off to the left. Before speaking up about it, Darren called Collin and me to follow him. I didn’t realize his gift was similar to mine. How did he know there was another group of actual enemies?

As he left it to Collin and me to handle the trio so he could check on Alpha André, I couldn’t hold my questions back. ‘Does Captain Darren have a sensory gift?’ I questioned.

‘Nope. The Delaney family can cloak their presence. Darren just has gut feelings, and they are rarely wrong. Now let me concentrate, kid.’ Collin answered.

I fell silent, not sure why we were still standing here waiting. But then the trio of wolves fell to the ground. ‘What… how?’ I questioned as I walked out of where we’d been observing from.

“Kearney wolves have mental abilities. I was able to overload their minds and knock them out. Now, why did you ask about sensory gifts? Just because Darren led us to them?” Collin questioned after he’d shifted.

I followed suit, shifting back to human to help carry the Madonie wolves back. “Well, because I’m a sensory wolf. I can detect malice. The larger group we were originally going after, I couldn’t really pick any up, but I felt these three.”

Collin nodded, grunting as he hauled one of the wolves over his shoulder. “That will be very helpful since it appears Ignazio likes to mix civilians into his battle plans. Grab one of them, and we can drag the third.”

“What kind of Alpha uses untrained civilians for war.” I frowned, hauling one of the wolves onto my shoulders and grabbing the hind legs of the other as Collin grabbed their front legs.

“The kind that our Alpha kills. Now let’s get these ones back.” Collin shrugged as he hefted the three wolves back to the transports.

Once there, we were able to bind them with silver. Everyone else arrived, escorting malnourished civilians to the trucks. I watched, frowning as they were being loaded up. This Alpha is a piece of shit. He doesn’t deserve to be a leader if he treats his people like this.

My head cocked as I saw a rogue start to climb into the truck of civilians. “Not him.” I quickly stepped forward, grabbing his collar.

“What’s the meaning of this?” The rogue demanded, snarling at me.

“You’re no civilian. You’re a rogue. And while you don’t have as much hate as the three we caught, I can smell it on you. You go with the prisoners.” I growled, feeling Conway starting to come forward.

An Incubi warrior raised his brow at me and looked to Collin behind me. This rogue smelled of envy and anger. It’s a dangerous combination. I don’t know where the innocent citizens are being taken but this rogue doesn’t belong on that truck.

“Trust him. Sniffing out his kind is why we have the greenhorn with us.” Collin assured. The warrior shrugged and helped me haul the rogue to the other transport to be sent to a cell.

“Good job, Stephen. Let’s head back and debrief before we hit the hay.” Collin patted my shoulder as we climbed into our transport back to the city.

I wasn’t surprised that Clement got himself injured, least of all that it was the Beta Heir and, therefore, Miss Zoe’s brother that injured him. I was told he deserved it after trying to attack a civilian without thinking. Fucker deserves whatever he gets.

I was also surprised when Darren called us for a meeting and said we’d have bright and early training to better our teamwork with the Incubi warriors. We are allies with this pack, so strengthening that through training can only make things better. As long as we have the time to do it, I think it’s a great idea.

The downside of morning training? It’s morning training. I don’t mind mornings but waking up at the crack of dawn is not my style. But here I am, lining up with everyone else from Bloodmoon in the indoor training grounds Incubi has. It’s a really nice set up on par with back home.

I was a little distracted and confused as I noticed Miss Zoe was looking at me intently from the platform where she flanked Alpha André. I almost missed what Clement was saying in the link.

I didn’t get why he’d not want to be chosen to spar with Alpha André. Sure he’d lose, but for a ranked wolf to decide to spar, someone like us either says they wanted a light workout or that they respect us.

My confusion about why Zoe was watching me went out the window when Clement opened his mouth and inserted his foot so deep I think his toes are poking out his ass. Why the hell is stupid enough to make a homophobic comment!? Apparently Clement.

I don’t blame Captain Darren or his wolf for wanting to snap Clement’s neck. He insulted an Alpha heir of the pack that we are here to help. Bloodmoon is not a pack that encourages or approves of shit like that. Alpha Logan is going to have Clement’s head mounted on a wall for this.

Like the rest of my packmates, I was grinning, trying to not laugh as Clement got his ass swiftly handed to him by Alpha André. Hopefully, he’ll be out of commission for a while. I know it’s unlikely, but a guy can dream. Then we don’t have to deal with this stupidity for the remainder of this war.

As everyone was pairing off, I looked around, trying to find someone from Incubi to spar with, not thinking twice about Alpha André deciding to spar with Captain Darren. Of everyone sent by Bloodmoon, he’s the most likely to keep up with an Alpha heir.

I blinked, turning around as someone tapped my shoulder. “You’re with me, handsome.” Miss Zoe was smirking at me.

“Um… okay. I’m not sure this is going to be a very even match.” I pointed out as she grabbed my hand and led the way to an open area.

“Oh, you think you’re that good?” She arched an eyebrow looking me over like she was weighing and measuring my value.

“What? Oh no. Not like that. I meant you’re a Beta heir, and I’m nothing. More worried I’ll be a disappointing partner.” I assured, holding my hands up. The last thing I want to do is sound like some cocky shithead like Clement.

Chapter 4 - Stephen

I’m a fair fighter, but I’m not as strong as other wolves. ‘I’m sorry about that.’ Conway apologized.

‘Don’t. You don’t need to apologize. Losing Lexia hurt us both, but you took the brunt of it, taking my heartbreak as well as your own.’ I assured him. I don’t want him getting down on himself.

Two years ago, I was strong. In a fight, I could even beat my mom, whose gift is her strength. But then the Syndicate attacked, and I lost Lexia the same day I met her. Losing a mate can kill a wolf.

So I’m lucky to be alive, and that Conway eventually came back to me. I don’t mind being half the strength I used to be. As long as I still have Conway, we can still fight.

Zoe was smiling at me, and I don’t know why. “I like a humble man. Now come on. Let’s see how well Bloodmoon trains their warriors.” She winked, taking a fighting stance gesturing for me to start.

I did the best I could. It just wasn’t enough to keep up with a Beta heir. Yet, as Zoe managed to pin me… again… she doesn’t look upset with that. She’s smirking down at me. “I’m starting to think you just like me being on top.” she taunted.

Holy shit! It just now sunk in. Zoe was flirting with me. This whole sparing has been sexual innuendo. I wanted to tell her I didn’t mind a woman on top but got distracted as I heard the side door near us get slammed.

My head turned to watch Captain Darren disappearing through the door, Collin shaking his head before walking over to Alpha André. What just happened? Is Darren okay? My brow furrowed as I watched Alpha André rush after Darren.

“Stephen? I swear if you are about to tell me you’re interested in Darren or my cousin, we are going to have a real fight.” Zoe half teased.

I cocked my head, looking back at her, confused. “No… Goddess no. I have no leanings in the same-sex direction. Just… never seen Captain Darren lose his cool and run from something.” I explained.

Zoe sighed, nodding, shifting off me, and offering her hand. “Don’t worry about it. My cousin has everything well under control. Your Captain will see that sooner or later. Come on. I’m not nearly done with you.”

I smiled, nodding, trying to get my head into sparing, and more so using sparing as a form of flirting. We’d only gotten a few more rounds in when Collin and Alexander interrupted.

“On your feet, Stephen. Darren’s under attack, and we’re going to back him up.” Collin instructed.

Zoe was quick to get off me, looking at her brother. “What about André? Is he okay?” She, of course, was concerned for her Alpha and cousin, who had gone after Darren.

“It’s André, he’s fine. But we should go help clean up. You know how he gets about anyone messing with his things.” Alexander shrugged.

I was confused by the statement as it implies Alpha André feels some sort of ownership of Darren. I decided to not think more about it and hurried to follow the Beta heirs and Collin into the forest to find Darren and Alpha André.

As we rushed into a clearing, I came to a sudden stop. I saw four unconscious bodies on the ground. Three were males, but then one was a female. I’ve seen plenty of naked she-wolves. I’m a werewolf. We are always naked when we shift.

I’ve seen various body types, so her being a little plump didn’t make a difference. I actually like meat on a female’s bones. Toothpicks are for picking things out of your teeth. Collin covered her with his shirt before I could do the same.

I don’t know why but I couldn’t stop looking at her. Long dirty blonde hair clung in a sweaty mess past her shoulders, long legs poking out from under Collin’s shirt. She’s probably my height, or hell, she might be a little taller than me. She looks young, probably recently shifted.

My attention briefly moved from the she-wolf to Zoe when she commented about seeing a family resemblance. Does Zoe know someone from their girl’s family?

“She’s related to Ivan. How far are we from the hospital? Is he still being held there?” Darren questioned, looking to André and Alexander for answers.

Ivan? I had to think about why that name sounded familiar. ‘The captured Madonie Gamma.’ Conway reminded me. At least one of us could remember it.

“We’re about two kilometers from the hospital, and yes, Ivan is still there but under guard.” André frowned, looking around, getting his bearings. “Alexander…” He started to give out orders.

“I’m heading to the hospital now. I’ll make sure Ivan is still secure. I’ll also make sure Katrina, Tiberius, and Delilah are all safe.” Alexander cut André. André nodded as Alexander shifted and started off in the direction I assume is the hospital.

“Stephen, there are clothes in that tree. Get them covered, then we can get them out of here.” Darren instructed.

I quickly did what Darren said, finding the hollow with clothes stashed inside. “Here, Miss Zoe. You should probably dress the female.” I offered her the clothes, feeling it wouldn’t be appropriate for me or any males to dress the girl.

I’d just finished helping get one of the males onto a stretcher when the female started groaning in pain, trying to tear at her skin. “Jesus fuck.” Darren exclaimed, trying to pin her arms down to stop her.

“What’s happened to her?” Zoe questioned. We all were looking at the bruises forming on the she-wolf’s body.

“Her mate is cheating.” Darren explained.

The hell!? Is that what happens when your mate cheats!? Why would the Goddess make the victim suffer? Shouldn’t the cheater be the one hurt?

Darren explained that he’s seen this before in his old pack. Making me very glad that Alpha Logan killed Darren’s old Alpha.

“Is there anything we can do for her?” I questioned, frowning. My heart ached for this poor girl. And so did Conway’s.

Conway was howling in pain. ‘Her wolf is hurting. We need to help her. No one should feel this pain. It looks worse than losing a mate.’

I want to help. I just don’t know how to help. So when Darren said there was a drink that could be given to help the female, I wanted to help. I wanted to be there for this girl.

“Permission to go as well.” I requested, looking from Darren to André. Darren nodded, and I felt relieved.

I lost my mate, and there is a male out there cheating on this beautiful girl. I can’t explain it but I don’t want to see someone in pain like this because of their mate. It’s insane.

“Permission granted. Just make sure you don’t get in anyone’s way.” Darren instructed. “Remain vigilant. These four were coming to get Ivan out.”

I nodded and hurried to get into the transport with the girl. I helped make the smoothie to have ready for at the hospital when she comes around.

The doctors checked out the four wolves and put them into the same room with guards outside. I sat by her bedside with the smoothie ready. My eyes never stayed fixed on her, worried that her mate could hurt her again.

Chapter 5 - Amelia

I was not in the mood to do anything for Ignazio. I have already hated him since childhood. I don’t care that he’s supposed to be my Alpha. He’s a bastard, and I want his heart on a platter and his head on a spike.

Then he murders my parents, starts this war, gets our packmates hurt and possibly killed, and even knowing I’m his mate, he cuts my tongue out with a silver blade.

He’s a psychopath and needs to die. I’m only here because I have no choice. I can only hope that I find Ivan alive, and maybe we can run far away from Ignazio.

Hell, I’d be willing to sell Ignazio out to the Incbi Alpha. I don’t know much, but I would help see him dead and my pack safe.

I’d been terrified last night when we crossed the border, and the civilians were used as bait. Faith wailed in my head as I heard the growls of the Incubi wolves attacking them.

‘Those are our people. We are supposed to be their Luna. We’re supposed to protect them from things like this.’ Faith sniffled as we followed the others.

‘There is nothing we can do. We’re too weak right now to fight and protect our people. And we need to find Ivan.’ I frowned.

‘If he’s alive.’ Faith frowned.

‘Don’t say that. Ivan is alive! He has to be. I would have felt it if Ivan had died. He’s the last family we have left. The last person that cares about us. We need to find him. He’s strong. He can help us defeat Ignazio and save our people.’ I instantly dismissed the thought that my brother was dead.

We were supposed to find the hospital, but of course, we got lost. None of us were given a map, not that Madonie would have a map of Incubi.

We’d been wandering for hours, trying to evade the Incubi patrols. I was so tired when we stopped in the morning. I thought we’d get to rest, maybe take a nap at least.

But a foreign wolf attacked us. I say foreign as he doesn’t smell like an Incubi wolf. I tried to fight back with the others. I was still so weak from having my tongue cut out, and whatever it was that caused me to crumble like that yesterday when I found Ignazio was my mate.

We didn’t stand a chance, especially when an Alpha wolf showed up. I don’t remember what happened in the fight. The large black wolf with the blue streaks slammed into me, and the next thing I remember was that same deep burning agony. I couldn’t control myself as I tried to rip at where it hurt, which was everywhere.

I could faintly hear voices and the blurred faces of people moving around me. Then I blacked out again from the pain. Faintly aware that we lost and were now prisoners. How long till they kill us? At least in death, I’ll escape this pain.

I don’t know how long I had been out when I opened my eyes again. I grunted as I tried to move to realize I was secured to a hospital bed. “You’re awake. Here… it’s for the pain.” A warm voice to my right spoke.

I furrowed my brow looking up at a square jaw covered with brown stubble, a soft encouraging smile on his lips, and worried cinnamon eyes. He’s handsome. He’s handsome? What the hell is wrong with me?

I’m in enemy territory. I’m of ranked birth, and if they learn who my mate is, that’s all more reason to dispose of me. My death would weaken Ignazio.

Actually, I’d be okay with dying if it kills him too and saves my pack. But I still shouldn’t be thinking an enemy male is attractive.

“Please just drink it. My Captain said this mixture of herbs is used to help the pain and recovery from the type of wounds you have.” the male sighed, holding the straw to me again.

I grunted and tried to knock it away but couldn’t due to the restraints. So I did the only thing I could. I know it’s not ladylike, and if my mother was alive, she’d tan my hide.

I spat on him. I was expecting him to growl, get angry, and possibly raise a hand to me. I’m sure Ignazio wouldn’t even think to beat me for such a thing. But instead, he calmly set the smoothie down and wiped the spit from his cheek.

“Very well. Have it your way. Suffer because some asshole out there doesn’t care or respect you enough. I’m not the one getting hurt.” The male shrugged but didn’t move away from my bedside.

The pain I’ve felt is because of Ignazio? I didn’t have time to consider that when I felt the presence of an Alpha.

I turned to see how had entered and glared at the two men like my fellow Madonie captives. I knew their scents. They are the ones that attacked us.

I was silent, not like I had a choice, as the Incubi wolves and the three foreigners… including the male next to me, spoke. So they already knew that Ignazio cut out our tongues. They had captured the other group.

As the foreign male who attacked us in the woods gave his speech, I was apprehensive. What could some Americans know about our plight? But then he explained about his past, about his birth pack. Maybe he really does know.

That’s why I’m feeling this intense pain? I’m being published by the Goddess because the asshole she paired me with is fucking someone else!? How is that fair! What did I ever do to deserve this Goddess!!?

I heard the growls last night. I know that some of their people attacked ours. My attention returned when the American tried to make it out like they weren’t hurting our people just as much. So without words, I expressed it the best I could.

After calling them out for hurting our people, I was told the civilians were safe. That they weren’t even imprisoned but being cared for somewhere safe. These people were showing more care to my people than our own Alpha.

Well fine. Fuck Ignazio. All I want is my people to be safe. So I gestured the best I could that I wanted something to write with.

“You want a pen and paper, Miss?” Cinnamon eyes next to me questioned, starting to rifle through the side table.

He’s certainly quick to please. What’s his angle? They probably just want to get as much information as they can and quickly.

“Here you are, Miss.” Cinnamon eyes offered a pad of paper and pen.

He’s dense. Cute but dense. Ugh, stop thinking he’s attractive, Amelia. You have a mate. A mate who’s a giant piece of shit and not even close to being as cute as Cinnamon eyes.

I gave him a deadpan look and tried to move my arm, still unable to move it very far. I can’t write if I can’t move my arm. Duh. Americans.

“Oh…. um. Captain? Alpha André? May I remove one of her restraints?” He requested, turning to the Alpha and the one who’d spoken of his birth pack.

The Alpha gave cinnamon eyes… Stephen… permission to remove the restraint from one of my arms.

I shook my arms out, able to move it again before I started to write. I don’t care that my fellow packmates in the room aren’t happy with me ‘talking.’

“I am Amelia Furlan, sister of Gamma Ivan Furlan.” Alpha André read my note to the room.

Of course, they weren’t surprised by that. Ivan and I share our father’s features regarding our size, eyes, hair color, and nose. I got mom’s round well everything.

Of course, I had to ask about Ivan. The amount of relief I felt when they said he was alive couldn’t be measured.

Knowing Ivan was safe, I didn’t see any issues selling Ignazio out. I don’t care that the others are mad at me. I told them that we were sent to blow up their hospital, and the other team was intended to attack their prison.

“Why did your Alpha have your tongues removed?” Stephen questioned.

Now that’s the painful part of all this. Having to tell these strangers why I had my tongue cut out. It wasn’t the same reason as the others.

So I told them. I told them I was sent away but called back after my brother was captured. And then I told them the reason I lost my tongue, that I’m Ignazio’s mate.

Let them kill me. Set me free from this torment the Goddess has fated me to. Not that I want to die. No one really wants to die. So I’m in a catch twenty-two.

I explained to them just that. Rejecting Ignazio could kill me but waiting for him to die could kill me, and if he wins this, I’m still left with a life of suffering.

The foreign wolves all seemed to be communicating through their pack link. I frowned, wondering what they were talking in secret about. But then the leader spoke. There’s a way to be free of Ignazio and not be hurt or killed as a result!?

As Darren said, I would need to take a chosen mate; all hope left me. No one would want to be my mate.

My own mate doesn’t want me. And back home, I may have been the only she-wolf of ranked blood, but boys didn’t want me. I’m too tall and too fat for boys to find attractive.

Angrily I wrote my thoughts on the subject, letting André read it.

“Yeah, let me just go find a chosen mate. The fuck kind of suggestion is that?! No male with a mate out there will want me. And no male who’s lost his mate would either. No male wants a mate without a tongue. No male wants a freak.”

I was not even a little surprised that the two unmated males from my pack refused. They have mates out there, mates they hope to someday find. So not shocked they wouldn’t want me.

No, the shock was when Stephen spoke up, offering to be my chosen mate. He’s nuts. Of course, I called him out on being just that. Yet the response I got broke my heart.

“Are you nuts?! You don’t even know me! And what about the mate you have waiting? I will not take someone’s mate.” I shook my head, dismissing the suggestion as André read my words.

“I don’t have one. Well, I don’t have one anymore. My mate died two years ago when rogues attacked our pack. We… hadn’t been marked or anything. We’d only met that day while I was visiting the capital city. Then the attack happened….” Stephen’s voice trailed off.

“She was a civilian, not a warrior. His mate died while trying to get to a shelter, and he was fighting to stop the rogues.” Darren finished for him, walking over to place a hand on his shoulder.

He lost his mate!? Oh, Goddess. Is that why he was being so kind to me? Because he felt pity for me? He feels the loss of a mate while I feel the pain of having one. I don’t know if I will accept his offer. But everyone seemed willing to let me think about it.

And soon I was moved to a private room. I couldn’t vocalize why I think Stephen’s crazy for this. So I started to write furiously on the notepad, growling. As we were left alone in the hospital room.

Chapter 6 - Stephen

If Ignazio was only keeping Amelia alive until he could get a chosen mate, that must mean that’s the answer. Amelia taking a chosen mate could free her from him.

Or at least that’s what Conway and I are thinking. And well, it kind of feels like fate, or maybe the Goddess did have some plan when she took Lexia so soon and paired Amelia to that monster.

‘Captain Darren?’ I called out through the pack link wanting to be sure. ‘If Ignazio is waiting for a chosen mate to rid himself of his bond to Amelia… wouldn’t the reverse work?’

‘You mean her taking a chosen mate? Yes, that would work.’ Darren confirmed.

‘Problem with your plan, kid. There would have to be someone to take as a chosen mate. I’m mated, Darren… well, he’s not interested. The Alpha Heir is gay, Zoe is a girl, and I doubt the Beta Heir would want a chosen mate over finding his true mate. And I don’t think her fellow spies in the room would be interested.’ Collin sighed, joining the link.

‘I’m sorry, Stephen, but Collin has a point. I can tell her about the choice and put it out there in case one of her packmates would be willing.’ Darren didn’t sound too sure it would work.

I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t someone want this girl? I guess Collin did make a good point when he said the Beta heir would probably prefer to wait for his true mate. The same is probably true for the males from her pack in the room.

‘Then I’ll do it.’ I proclaimed.

‘We’ll do what now?’ Conway questioned. I winced because I forgot to even check with him.

‘You like her, don’t you? You feel something for her wolf. We can end her suffering. And we’ve been talking about looking for a chosen mate.’ I pointed out.

Conway sighed but nodded to me. ‘Very well. If Amelia will have us, then I’m on board.’ He conceded.

‘Stephen, do you know what you’re offering?’ Collin questioned.

‘Yes, I know. I have nothing to lose from this. You both know I don’t have a mate. She’s already with the Goddess. And I talked to Conway. He’s on board. Before this mission, we had been discussing looking for a chosen mate.’ I explained.

‘Very well. If Amelia will have you, then who are we to say no.’ Darren concluded, closing the link.

Of course, Collin was correct that her packmates didn’t want to offer themselves. And well, she was more than a little shocked to hear me offer myself. And rightfully, she tries to turn me down.

It’s sweet that she wouldn’t want to take someone else’s mate. But as Darren and I explained, that’s not the case with me. I saw her cognac brown eyes soften, realizing that I was mateless. I just need to convince her I’m worth taking as a chosen mate.

When we were brought into a private hospital room, she started writing on the notepad growling. I started to try and plead my case. “Amelia, please. We can talk….”

The moment I said ‘talk,’ she growled and glared at me. I winced, smacking my forehead, realizing my choice of words obviously upset her.

“I mean… we can communicate and come to an understanding.” I corrected myself.

She sighed, shaking her head. As she finished writing, she shoved the notepad at me. I frowned and looked at the page.

“You are the dumbest American, scratch that male on the planet.” I frowned. Awesome. We are starting with insults. That’s not very promising.

“I understand you lost your mate, and I am truly sorry to hear that. For as much as Ignazio makes me suffer, I also know I would feel broken inside if he was to die.” I raised an eyebrow looking at her over the paper.

She can’t seriously have feelings for that monster. Can she? Crap, maybe she does have feelings for him. She is a Gamma heir, and obviously, Ignazio was Alpha heir before taking power.

Did she have a crush on him? Was she happy when she learned they were mates? They would have grown up together. Only to have his monstrous ways sour that happiness?

Amelia gestured back to the page, so I sighed and continued reading.

“That feeling would only be from the mate bond. I personally hate Ignazio with a passion. I hated him since childhood, and murdering my parents did him no favors. I want him to die.”

Okay, well, at least she doesn’t harbor feelings for the guy. That’s a step in the right direction. “Well, that’s good to know. But Amelia, wanting him to die doesn’t have to mean letting yourself suffer and possibly die with him.” I argued.

Amelia snatched the notepad back and quickly wrote again, turning it to me to read. “You survived.”

Okay, so she has a point, but it’s slightly different.

“That’s different. I didn’t even know my mate’s name when she died. I felt it when she did, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Just that Conway, he’s my wolf, was growing weaker.”

I grabbed a chair and pulled it to the side of her bed. I don’t think I can stand and talk about this. I don’t like talking about this, but I think it’s the only way she’ll hear me out and really consider my offer.

“After the battle was over, I tried to find her. Her scent was so faint I could barely track it. Then I found her. She was dead in her mother’s arms.” I paused, taking a shaky breath.

I still have nightmares of seeing Lexia’s limp body clutched in her mother’s arms. Her mother was wailing over her. Lexia’s blood-stained neck and clothes.

Her fruity spiced scent of ginger, orange, spearmint, jasmine petals, and blonde woods scent fading and being overwhelmed by the copper scent of her blood. I shuddered as the memory tried to overtake me.

“She’d gotten in the way of a rogue. The rogue was attacking a small group trying to get to the shelter. The rogue had snapped her neck before her mother could try and stop it. I had to explain to her mother who I was and why I was crying and howling in pain.”

Closing my I let out a shaky breath trying to keep it together. I slowly opened my eyes when I felt a warm touch on my arm. Looking up, I saw Amelia with tears in her eyes. Her hand quickly moved away as she wrote again.

“How did you survive it? You were sent here from whatever American pack. So they must consider you strong.”

I frowned because I didn’t know if that was precisely the case. I was strong before I lost Lexia.

“Conway was a strong wolf. He took it all. He took all the pain of the bond shattering, so I didn’t feel it. Well, I mean, I felt it, but not as bad as I should or could have. It nearly killed Conway. It was a year before he had the strength to even speak.” I explained.

“That’s a year without hearing his voice. Without being able to shift. Without being able to use any of my powers. Every day I feared I wouldn’t wake up, or if I did, I wouldn’t be able to find him in my mind.” I shook my head.

Amelia started to write again. We were both frowning as I read her message. “I don’t think Faith is strong enough to do that.”

“I know. Your mate hurts you, and it weakens you both every time. Conway and I… we didn’t like seeing you in pain. Even less when Captain Darren explained the pain is from your mate cheating.” I growled.

Amelia sighed and started to write again. I wish Ignazio hadn’t taken her tongue, then we could speak normally. But if she agrees to be my mate, we will form a link and speak that way freely.

“So you offered out of pity. I don’t want your pity. Faith doesn’t want your wolf’s pity. A chosen mate shouldn’t be taken lightly. And it shouldn’t be decided out of pity.” I frowned because that’s not it.

“I didn’t offer out of pity. We don’t pity you, Amelia. We just saw you. We see that you deserve far better than what the Goddess has given you. And maybe… I don’t know.” I ran my hand over my face.

“I think this was her plan all along.” I sighed, trying to put into words what I was thinking. Based on her confused expression, I wasn’t doing a good job.

“I lost Lexia before I could even know her name. I almost lost Conway, but by a miracle, he survived and came back even if he’s not at the same strength as before. That year without him, I was cursing the Goddess. Why would she give me a mate just to lose her so quickly.” I started to explain again.

“But when Conway came back. I started to wonder what the Goddess had planned for me. Usually, the loss of a mate either kills you or drives you insane, and you get killed. But that didn’t happen to me. I don’t know if it was because we hadn’t gotten close or not. But I had to believe something. That the Goddess didn’t put me through that for nothing.” I sighed.

“Conway and I had been talking about taking a chosen mate. Of putting ourselves out there to see if we could find a mate. But like you, we didn’t want to take a mate from someone else. Which makes it tricky.”

Amelia was looking at me curiously. At least she’s listening and seems interested. That must be a good sign. “Then I come here and find you. I was drawn to you at first sight. Though I guess that shouldn’t be surprising to you. You’re beautiful.”

Amelia scoffed and started writing again. I furrowed my brow as I read her next message. “Beautiful? Do you need glasses? I know what I look like. Since childhood, I’ve more often been compared to a pig than anything beautiful.”

‘How dare they call her a pig.’ Conway growled. Amelia blinked, and I realized the growl wasn’t just in my head.

“Sorry… I didn’t mean to startle you. Conway is just upset, and so am I. Whoever called you that is an asshole and wrong.” I growled, wanting to hit anyone that ever called her that. “You’re a sunflower.”

Amelia cocked her head, raising an eyebrow in confusion. She quickly wrote on the notepad, turning it to me. “Sunflower?”

“Yes. You’re a sunflower. I know most analogies would use a rose. But I think you’re a sunflower. If a rose tried to be a sunflower, it would lose its delicate beauty. If a sunflower tried to be a rose, it would lose its strength.” I tried to explain.

Taking a chance, I reached over, holding her hand.

“Unlike any other flower, the sunflower is a flower I admire and like the most. Because even on the darkest day, they have the strength to stand tall and find the sunlight.”

I smiled softly as her hand turned in mine, holding my hand back.

“I know I don’t know you, and I sound utterly foolish. But from what I’ve glimpsed of the person you are, you are a sunflower. Beautiful, strong, seeking the light even in the darkness, and standing tall against all odds.” I sighed, looking from our hands to her face.

“I know I’m asking a lot. But I have to believe the Goddess kept Conway and me alive for a reason. That you are why. We survived to be here with you. To help you escape your cruel mate. The Goddess kept me alive so I could be yours.”

My words were having an effect. Amelia’s cognac eyes were shining with unshed tears and wonder. “So I ask you not from pity but because I feel in my soul I was meant to find you. Will you take me as your mate?” I was hopeful that this time she’d say yes.

Chapter 7 - Amelia

Is this guy for real? He’s angry at Ignazio on my behalf. He’s angry at people mocking my weight. Calling me a sunflower. Saying I’m beautiful, strong, seeking light even in the dark, and standing tall against the odds.

Are all males in his pack like him? Are these romantic notions something young males are taught in his pack? Do they have a class on how to woo a female? They must because I can’t believe a male would on their own have such thoughts.

‘He’s being sincere, though. There’s nothing false about his words. There is no deception in his eyes.’ Faith sighed.

‘Are you swooning? Seriously? I thought as a wolf spirit you wouldn’t want anyone but your fated mate.’ I questioned.

‘I… I don’t know. I mean, Stephen is warm and kind. And his wolf seems to share his warmth and kindness. I am not saying I like him better than Maximus. But I do like them better than Ignazio.’ Faith admitted.

I suppose I can’t blame Maximus for what Ignazio does. Though he could try harder to fight Ignazio. To stop him from hurting our pack… from hurting me. I doubt having that witch around makes things any easier for Maximus. My mother always said to never trust a witch.

‘If we do this, what will become of Ignazio and Maximus?’ Faith frowned.

‘Honestly, I don’t care what happens to Ignazio. He’s an evil and cruel person. I never liked him and no mate bond is going to change that. I would only feel bad for Maximus. But doing this could also free Maximus.’ I pointed out.

‘How would this help Maximus? He would be hurt from not only being rejected but outright replaced.’ Faith didn’t sound very convinced.

Which is a big problem. Faith and I both need to agree to this course of action. Otherwise, we continue to be tethered to Ignazio and a lifetime of pain. Or at least until Ignazio is dead, and then we will be too.

‘Maximus is suffering too, Faith. Look at all Ignazio has done. You know that’s not Maximus’ doing. So if we do this, we free not only ourselves of Ignazio but also Maximus of him. Yes, it will weaken them, but death is Maximus’ only chance to be free.’ I sighed.

Faith sighed but nodded. ‘You’re right. And I don’t want Maximus to suffer sharing a body and life with Ignazio.’

I sighed, looking down at Stephen’s hand holding mine. His hand is so warm, and for once, I don’t feel like my hand dwarfs someone’s hand. I’m still sure I’m taller than him, but at least my man hands, as the asshole Gastone would call them, don’t feel that way as Stephen holds it.

I looked back up at his face and those warm cinnamon eyes pleading with me. Goddess, help me. I hope I don’t regret this. I nodded my head in silent agreement.

The expression on his face was rather amusing. At first, he was uncertain why I was nodding, then slowly realization hit him, and surprise and joy bloomed in his eyes as he smiled.

“I promise you won’t regret this.” He assured me, squeezing my hand. I don’t think he can really make that kind of promise. I don’t know him. The most I know is Stephen's name, and his mate was killed the day they met.

I dislodged my hand from his hand to grab the paper and pen again. If I agree to this, there will be some conditions. No way am I just letting a total stranger mark me, least of all in a hospital bed.

I gulped as the thought of what completing a mate bond entails hit me. I’ve never even kissed a boy, and now my first kiss will already be marred by the fact I don’t even have a tongue. He’s going to regret this after just one kiss. Ugh, how is that going to work?

Then another thought hits me. To complete the bond we have to… we have to have sex. I blush, just thinking about it as I glance at him. He looks fit, and that worries me even more. He’s going to get one look at my naked and back out.

The longer I took writing, the more concerned his expression became. I sighed and handed him the notepad. I didn’t look at him, too afraid to see his expression as he read what I wrote.

“Before I agree to actually do this, I want time. I know you can’t offer a lot, but I would like a day or two to get to know you. And for you to know me. A chosen mate isn’t like a fated one. There is no connection drawing us together.” He sighed as he read my words.

“I can understand that. And I’m okay with it. I’ll be sure to clear with my Captain and the Alpha. No one wants to push you into doing anything.” Stephen assured me.

I nodded and tapped the notepad because he could read more. It’s embarrassing, but I had to say it. He had to be aware and prepared for what this will entail.

Stephen cleared his throat before he continued. “You should seriously consider this. Consider what you are choosing. Being with me would be very different than if you chose another. You’re a handsome male and could easily find a chosen mate.”

“The blonde she-wolf that was in the other room would happily take you or at least warm your bed. She’s gorgeous and in far better shape than me and has the benefit of not being deformed.” Stephen’s voice sounded sad, but he kept reading.

“You need to think about this. I don’t know if I could handle the look of disgust and the eventual rejection just from you seeing my body. I know every roll and that it wouldn’t compare to hers. And I already have a mate who prefers to be intimate with other females.” He let out a long heavy sigh, and I dared to look at him.

He was frowning at the paper. “Is this what you really think?” He questioned, tapping the paper.

I nodded. Obviously, it’s what I think. I wouldn’t have written it if it wasn’t. Doesn’t Stephen understand what he’d give up by choosing me?

I saw the look that she-wolf had when he volunteered. There is obviously something going on between them. And I’m not getting involved with someone who’s already with someone else.

“Well, I won’t dismiss your feelings. I know how much that can hurt. But Amelia, you have nothing to worry about.” Stephen assured, putting the notepad aside and taking my hand.

He sighed as I looked away again. It’s easy for him to say I have nothing to worry about. But if my fated mate doesn’t want me, why would a chosen?

“Amelia…” He spoke my name softly as his other hand reached for my face. His warm hand cupped my cheek as he turned my face to his.

“You have nothing to worry about. First off, Miss Zoe is not someone I was involved with. I won’t lie to you. There was some flirting this morning. But that’s the extent of it. She may be beautiful but not more than you.” He explained.

“Nothing has happened between Miss Zoe and me. And nothing ever will. Even if you reject me as a chosen mate, nothing will happen with her.” Stephen shook his head.

“Conway isn’t interested in her or her wolf. We are interested in you. I’m not fooling myself or going into this blind. I know what that bastard did to you. I know it will probably be awkward at first, but it’s something we can both work with.” He smiled, rubbing his thumb over my cheek.

“Besides, I wouldn’t have anyone to compare to if that’s your concern. I didn’t date as I wanted to wait for my mate. And after her… I didn’t either. So you shouldn’t worry that I’ll compare our kisses to another.” He explained.

I blinked as he rubbed his thumb over my lips as he spoke. He’s never kissed someone before either?! I mean, that’s sweet. He had waited for his mate, and when he lost her, he didn’t seek female comfort.

“As for your body… I mean, I’ve already seen you naked. Not in a sexual situation, obviously. But you had transformed from your wolf before I arrived in the woods. So I did see you naked before Miss Zoe put clothes on you.” He admitted.

They’ve all seen me naked. The only time anyone saw me naked was once when I was younger as part of a horrible prank instigated by Ignazio and Gastone when they still attended the school with me. I turned pink, realizing he was right.

They’d taken all my clothes and put them up the flagpole while I was taking a shower after gym class. I had to use two towels as they’d only left small towels to cover myself as I cried, finding my clothes flapping in the breeze.

All the students from the pack were laughing and teasing at how big my underwear was. Ignazio and Gastone pretended to apologize only to yank my towels away, leaving me trying to hide.

Ivan had been so angry at them he got into a fight with them before ripping the flagpole down, growling at all the students laughing as he gathered my clothes. I was homeschooled after that. My parents were livid and demanded Ignazio and Gastone be punished by their parents.

It only made them hate me more that they had to do Omega cleaning work at the packhouse for a month for their prank. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Ignazio would be disgusted to have me as a mate.

“Hey… Amelia. I don’t know where your mind just went, but I’m not sure I like it. You look so sad. I just want you to know I liked what I saw. There is nothing wrong with how you look. Having meat on your bones is healthy. And I prefer it.” He sighed, pressing a kiss to my forehead.

“You’re perfect exactly as you are. So please don’t worry that I would stray from you. Now how about we get to know each other? Ask me anything. I’m an open book.” He smiled. Those warm, caring cinnamon eyes broke down my defenses as I nodded.

Chapter 8 - Stephen

She probably thinks I’m blowing smoke up her ass with everything I’ve been saying. I kind of feel a bit foolish talking like this. I mean, who really says shit like this? Compares a girl to a sunflower.

‘Apparently, you do. And it’s obviously working. Plus, it’s not like you don’t mean it. It would be different if you were just saying all this. But you mean it.’ Conway pointed out, trying to give me a pep talk.

He’s right. He’s usually right. I mean what I’m saying, even if I feel self-conscious about saying it. Better than I’m the one feeling self-conscious than Amelia.

I already don’t like the Madonie pack, or at least anyone who ever called her names. And I fucking hate Ignazio. I don’t use the word hate easily or often.

But I hate the Syndicate rogues, and I hate Ignazio. These are the two incidents where I feel hate may not even be a strong enough word. What’s a stronger word for hate? Loathe? Detest? I’m not sure, but to my core, I feel it.

I don’t know which rogue from the Syndicate killed Lexia. The bastard is still alive among the rogues that currently follow Noya, for all I know. And that keeps me up at night, wondering if her killer is still out there and knowing I’ll never know.

‘It won’t be the same this time. Ignazio is going to die. We will know Ignazio is dead. This time the one responsible for hurting our mate will be dead.’ Conway assured me.

This war will only end with Ignazio dead. So I will never have to worry that her fated mate is still out there. That’s at least one good thing.

That he could still hurt her. She will reject him through their pack link, and we will sever that bond by marking her as mine.

For now, I should focus on her. She has agreed to be my mate, but on the terms, we get to know each other first. And I’m okay with that. I have nothing to hide. So I settled back into my chair.

Amelia sighed, blushing softly, which is really cute. Picking up the notepad again, she started writing. Looks like Amelia’s got many questions with how much she’s writing.

I glanced at the clock, knowing it was getting late and she should sleep. I’ll answer some of her questions tonight then we can start again tomorrow.

I smiled, taking the notepad back to read her questions. It was primarily ordinary things to start with. The same kind of ice breaker questions most would ask. So a good place to start.

“Well, you know my name is Stephen. My full name is Stephen Rhett Walterson. I was born and raised in Oregon. I’m from the Bloodmoon pack. My parents are Maxton and Edith. I have a ten-year-old sister named Suzanne, but we just call her Suzie.” I started answering her questions.

“My wolf, as I’ve mentioned, is named Conway. Our gift is the ability to sense malice. So I can smell hate and evil like most pick up someone’s scent. It’s how last night I knew the larger group weren’t enemies but a small group… the one meant to blow up the holding cells were.” I shrugged.

“Um… let’s see. My favorite color is pine green. My favorite food is my mom’s jambalaya. She was from a pack in Louisiana, so it has been a recipe handed down through her family.”

I was getting hungry just thinking about it. And based on the grumble of Amelia’s stomach, I wasn’t the only one. I chuckled as she blushed.

“You have to be famished. Give me a minute, and I’ll see what this hospital has for grub.” I smiled, standing up.

“Be right back, Amelia.” I assured her, placing a kiss on the top of her head. I glanced back as she seemed nervous to be left alone, fiddling with the blanket. “You’re safe here. Don’t worry.” I promised, stepping into the hall.

Two incubi warriors were standing near the door with stern expressions. Both sort of glared at me.

“I see you’re not as pleasant as your Alpha hier. Whatever. Is the hospital cafeteria still open? Wanted to get some grub for my mate and me.” I questioned, not thinking twice about calling her, my mate.

One of the wolves snorted, earning him a glare from me. “You got a problem with my mate? I’ve got no problems putting you in your place then apologizing later on to my Captain and your Alpha heir.” I growled.

“Don’t start trouble. Alpha Chesed would probably skin us both for your stupidity. I like to stay alive, thank you very much.” The one that didn’t snort sighed.

“I’ll call down to the kitchens for a couple of meals.” He assured me as his eyes glazed over, linking someone in the pack.

At least one of them isn’t a douchebag. I was about to ask when we might expect it to be brought up when I heard whimpers and cries of pain from inside Amelia’s room. That fucker is doing it again!

“Get one of those smoothies.” I instructed as I rushed back into the room. It hurt me to see her withering in pain. Fucking asshole. I can’t wait till I break their bond and the Incubi Alpha kills him.

I hurried to try and pin her arms down so she wouldn’t hurt herself. “Amelia… It’s okay. I’m here.” I tried to reassure her, but she thrashed as I tried to hold her down.

The door burst open, and the two guards came in and moved to try and hold her down. I’m not sure why but Conway shoved forward and growled at them. “Touch her and lose your hands.” He snarled.

“Get out. This is our mate. We will handle it.” Conway growled, glaring at the guards while practically leaning over Amelia to hold her down.

“Suit yourself.” The rude one rolled his eyes. “A nurse is one her way with the smoothie.” The helpful one nodded, nudging his fellow guard out of the room.

Other than holding her down, I don’t know what I can do. What can I do to stop the pain? To counter what he was doing to her. If he can make her hurt like this by cheating let’s counter it. It was like a lightbulb suddenly flickered on.

“Please forgive me and don’t hit me.” I asked forgiveness as I did the one thing I could think of.

I pressed my lips to hers. This was not the scenario I thought my first kiss would be. Certainly not how I wanted our first kiss to go. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

It took a moment, but her thrashing stopped as the surprise registered. Her body stiffened for a moment, and I prepared to be pushed away. Even if she had agreed to be chosen mates, we were still on the ‘getting to know you questions.’

Her hands reached up, gripping my head, and again I was ready to get pushed away or worse. I won’t blame her if she does. But she didn’t. Her fingers dug into my hair, and she tentatively kissed me back.

Her body relaxed into the kiss. She wasn’t struggling, and her whimpers were softer, becoming something different. So it’s working. Kissing her is taking away the pain Ignazio was causing. Good. I hope the shithead is feeling the pain of me kissing her.

As the kiss started to deepen, my tongue tentatively brushing against her lips, a knock at the door broke us apart. Amelia was quick to pull away, sitting up more in the bed, bringing her legs to her chest like a shield as her eyes focused on the door.

I sighed, rubbing my lips together. This lingering taste of Rainier cherries, like my family grows back home, intense and sweet, still clung to my lips. I could get used to that taste. Rainier are my favorites, so much so I’m not allowed to work the farm as I’ll eat most of what I harvest.

“Come in.” I called, not looking away from her face. Even her bright blush made me think of the rainier cherry. It’s adorable.

“I brought the smoothie and your dinners.” A nurse announced herself as she pushed in a cart. I moved from my chair to bring a table over for Amelia to use.

“Here, you can set it all on this.” I gestured. The nurse quickly put the two covered plates and the smoothie down. Her eyes darted from the embarrassed Amelia to me.

“Just let us know if you need anything. You can either press the red call button or hit nine on the phone.” She instructed, pointing to both.

“Thanks.” I nodded. I waited till the door closed to dare say anything to Amelia.

“I… um. If you’re mad that I kissed you….” I sighed, rubbing the back of my neck. “I’ll understand. I mean, not really how I wanted our first kiss to happen. But I don’t regret it. I liked it. And it did work. Right? You didn’t feel the pain?” I asked nervously.

Amelia sighed, rubbing her lips together. Does she taste me on her lips? Does Amelia like the taste? Does she regret kissing me back? Crap, so many possibilities.

Slowly she stretched her legs back out, pulling the table closer as she uncovered our dinners. It looked good smelled good too. They had sent us what looked a lot like clam chowder from its looks.

She didn’t look at me as she carefully took a few bites of her soup. I sighed, pulling my chair over, taking my bowl digging in. It’s better than clam chowder but certainly has a lot of similarities. Probably because it’s not from a can like I’m used to.

After eating in silence, Amelia picked up the notepad again and wrote. I nervously waited for her to finish. I was worried about what she was going to say.

“I’m not mad you kissed me. Embarrassed but not mad. It took away the pain better than the smoothie. And… I liked it. You taste like a cinnamon roll.” I read her words and knew I was blushing.

She giggled, and it’s the first time I’ve heard her make a sound that wasn’t from pain or annoyance. I smiled, leaning closer.

“You taste like Rainier cherries.” I whispered before kissing her again. She gasped as I caught her by surprise, but her lips matched mine.

I sighed, pulling back, placing a kiss on her forehead. “It’s late. We can pick up the whole getting to know each other tomorrow. You should rest.”

I saw her eyes widen, and worry started to fill them, looking from me to the door. “Oh, I’m not leaving. I’m staying with you. I’m not leaving your side. The chair folds out.” I nodded to the chair. “So I’ll sleep there. And don’t worry, I’ve slept in worse places.” I assured her.

She sighed, relief evident in her eyes. She looked at the chair, then at me, frowning. She moved over slightly on the bed and retook the paper. She quickly got her thoughts out and held the paper up.

“You can sleep in the bed. There is room, or you can sleep as your wolf if that would be easier. I know I take up most of the space.” I sighed, reading her note. Taking the paper from her, I set it aside.

‘I’ll sleep in the bed with her. I’d take up less real estate than you.’ Conway quickly volunteered.

“You take up just the right amount of space. And if you insist, fine. I’ll share the bed. Conway is more than happy to share the bed with you.” I assured, starting to tug my workout shirt off.

Amelia eeped, turning her head, blushing. I chuckled. “You can look, Amelia. You’re going to see me naked eventually. I didn’t want to rip my clothes since I’ll need to wear them tomorrow.” I assured her.

She kept her head turned. I sighed, shrugging putting my shirt aside. I smirked as I stripped down, seeing her stealing glances. Before jumping onto the hospital bed, I shifted to Conway’s tawny with a reddish highlight wolf.

Amelia smiled at Conway as he nuzzled against her. She couldn’t use words, but her touch was enough as she gently stroked his fur around his neck.

Lowering the upper half of the bed, Amelia settled in. Shifting to her side, she snuggled Conway like he was a stuffed animal.

‘I don’t mind. Our mate can cuddle me all she wants.’ Conway scoffed at me. We remained awake and alert a bit longer before the sound of her softly snoring lulled me to sleep.

Chapter 9 - Amelia

I can’t believe I had my first kiss. Too bad it was to try and counter the pain I felt from Ignazio being with someone else.

Also, too bad that nearly half my tongue is missing. I could tell Stephen wanted to deepen the kiss. Or at least I thought that’s what it meant when his tongue brushed against my lips.

Probably a good thing the nurse interrupted us. I don’t know if I would’ve been comfortable with French kissing.

I don’t want him to be repulsed by my nub of a tongue. I don’t think I can face that reaction, especially with how sweet he’s been to me.

I should count myself lucky that I was left with enough of my tongue to taste anything at all. Somehow, I’m not surprised that Stephen tasted like a cinnamon roll for what flavor I could detect. It’s fitting, given how sweet he is. I almost feel like I need an insulin shot when he talks.

And if he’s not being tooth-achingly sweet, he’s making me blush brighter than a tomato. Especially when he started to undress and even gave me permission to look.

I know that nudity is a part of life, especially for werewolves, as we are naked when we shift back to our human forms. But it just feels different right now. It feels different to see Stephen naked even more because he implied I’ll see him naked eventually.

I couldn’t help it. I sneaked a peek before Stephen shifted. My eyes didn’t dare look too low. Thankfully the bed helped hide some below his waist. I was right when I assumed he was fit.

He’s muscular but in a lean way. He’s not bulky like my brother Ivan. His muscles have definition, but they are more proportioned to his frame. A few dark brown hairs on his chest match the trail of hair from his navel down.

I blushed as my eyes almost went past his navel. I was thankful when he shifted to his wolf.

Conway is a lovely tawny color with reddish highlights. ‘Conway is handsome.’ Faith whispered.

I’m glad she likes Conway. Though I don’t like how weak she sounds. She’s going through so much pain every time Ignazio touches another female. I know I want to get to know Stephen better but I worry how delaying the inevitable will affect her.

‘I’ll be okay. I want us to know Stephen and Conway before rejecting Ignazio and Maximus. Once we let him mark us, there won’t be any going back. So best to know him as well as we can before committing our lives to him.’ Faith assured me in a tired voice.

‘Okay. Just hold out, and soon we will be free of Ignazio and the pain he brings us.’ I promised as I snuggled into Conway’s soft fur. I don’t usually fall asleep quickly, least of all in an unfamiliar place. But having Conway to hug helped more than I thought it would.

Of course, I couldn’t get a whole night’s rest. I woke in the dark screaming as the burning pain in my bones was back. This is agony. How can he do this to me!? Why does he do this to me!? What did I do to deserve this, Goddess?

“Amelia… crap… it’s going to be okay.” I could faintly hear Stephen’s voice.

The pain was overriding all my senses. I just wanted the pain to stop. I started trying to claw at my chest. Something inside me was driving me to want to end the pain forever. To take out my heart so I could never feel pain again.

Faith was whimpering, howling in as much pain as I was. I don’t think I’m going to survive this. He’s going to kill me. I’m going to die before I can free myself of him. Then, the bone-breaking, skin peeling, searing pain started to fade without warning.

I blinked as my vision started to clear as the pain became a dull ache. Stephen’s face was so close to mine. I realized why the pain was going away as I felt his warm lips against mine.

He was holding me in his arms. His skin was so warm and soothing. Everything about him was like a balm to my pain.

“It’s okay, Amelia. I’m right here. I won’t let him keep hurting you.” Stephen whispered, wiping away tears that I only just became aware of.

I blinked away the tears looking into his cinnamon eyes. He was worried about me. Why is he so caring? Why couldn’t he have been my fated mate? I can’t even tell him that. I can’t tell him how he makes me feel because of what Ignazio has done.

Stephen sighed, pressing a soft kiss to my lips. “I’ll protect you from him. You’re my mate now. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

I sighed, snuggling closer to him, letting his sweet words soothe me. Closing my eyes as he stroked my hair. I don’t know what I did to deserve this pain.

But I also don’t know what I did to deserve someone like Stephen to rescue me. I felt drained and knew Faith was too as I fell back to sleep.

In the morning, I woke up blushing brightly to find a nurse standing at the foot of the bed with a raised eyebrow. I’m in the borrowed clothes they’d given me snuggled in Stephen’s arms.

That should be reason enough for my embarrassment but add to the fact Stephen is naked… yeah, embarrassed seems too simple a term. But it wasn’t just embarrassment to be found in bed with a naked male. It’s that she’s staring at his naked body.

I don’t like it. I can’t say anything, but I sure can growl. The nurse blinked as her attention moved from Stephen’s naked body to see my angry expression. I hope I’m getting the point across. I’d try to cover Stephen, but he’s lying on the blanket.

“Don’t think you need to read minds to know she wants you out or at least to get your eyes off Stephen.” The blonde male from yesterday shook his head from where he stood near the door. I can feel his Beta aura and remember they called him Beta Alexander.

“I was just coming to bring breakfast and check on her.” the nurse frowned, trying to excuse her creepy actions. Because who doesn’t announce themselves when entering a patient’s room? And to stare at someone’s naked body while they sleep? Not okay.

Stephen grumbled, waking up. He blinked, looking at me, then turned to see we weren’t alone. “Beta Alexander? What’s going on?” He questioned his packmate before looking at me.

“Why do you look so angry, Amelia?” He frowned. He seriously doesn’t get it, or is he still half asleep and unable to register he’s naked.

“The nurse was checking your naked ass out. Put some clothes on, this is a hospital. We will wait outside. Then I want to check on Amelia’s recovery. I understand she had two more attacks during the night.” Alexander instructed, taking the nurse by the arm and leaving.

Stephen seemed a bit dazed as he shrugged, getting out of bed. I quickly covered my face with both hands to look away as he genuinely didn’t care about his nudity. “I’m dressed now.” Stephen announced, sitting back on the edge of the bed.

I sighed, taking my hands down just as Alexander and the nurse walked in.

“Alright, let’s get her checked out, and then we will leave you to eat your breakfast. When Alpha André gives the okay, you will be allowed to return to your room in the town hall.” Alexander explained, coming around to the side of the bed closest to me.

It was embarrassing to lift my shirt enough for him to examine the bruises left behind from Ignazio being with someone else.

It also didn’t help that Stephen was growling next to me whenever Alexander touched me. I lost count of how often Alexander reminded Stephen he’s a doctor, so the examination is medical and not sexual.

During my exam, Stephen contacted his Captain to report my decision and that I wanted time to get to know him before letting him mark me. Thankfully after the exam was finished, Alexander and the nurse both left.

Stephen smiled, getting the notepad and paper out offering them to me. “Should we pick up where we left off yesterday?”

I smiled and wrote down some more questions. We alternated between Stephen answering my questions and then me writing answers to his questions about me. It was a slow way of doing this. But it’s the only choice we have as I can’t talk and we are mated or from the same pack to use the link.

I learned that his family has a rainier cherry farm, but he doesn’t work there because, as a boy, his parents realized he would eat most of what he picks. Which is really cute.

I learned he works in the mailroom of his Alpha’s company, Kinsley Industrial, while he attends university. He’s recently finished the first year of his civil engineering degree.

I answered many of the same questions. Telling Stephen about my parents, who were the Gammas of my pack, my brother Ivan who’s always been protective of me even if we are only two years apart in age.

I told him that I had wanted to become a teacher and work with young children. Before things went wrong in my pack, I often helped at the pack daycare and babysat for various families.

Which got us started talking about family and what we each wanted. We both want children. Though I’m worried about being a mother now with everything that’s happened. How am I supposed to communicate with my child? They wouldn’t be old enough to form a family link till they were at least eight.

So for eight years, they wouldn’t know the sound of my voice. I wouldn’t be able to sing my mother’s lullabies to them. Of course, I started crying at that point.

Crying because I will never speak again. Crying because I’ll never see my mother again. Crying because any children I have won’t know my parents. Crying because so many children have become orphans thanks to Ignazio.

And so two days passed in my hospital room. Every time Ignazio was with another, Stephen was right there to hold me and kiss me until the pain faded. Stephen never left my side.

Two days of getting to know this sweet man. It still baffles me that he is willing to be my mate. I appreciate that he stayed with me, even though there was fighting going on beyond the hospital walls. He was sent here to fight, but instead, he was in a hospital with me.

‘We can’t put this off longer. I feel comfortable with moving forward if you do.’ Faith suggested the third morning while showering in the cramped hospital shower stall. I sighed, rinsing out my hair. She’s right. We can’t wait any longer.

After drying and getting changed into the clean borrowed clothes, they left for me, I walked out into the room. Stephen was sitting in the chair playing solitaire with a deck of cards waiting for me.

“Feel better after a shower?” He looked up with that warm smile. I nodded while picking up the notepad and wrote quickly before changing my mind.

“I’m ready for us to mark each other.” Stephen blinked, almost dropping the paper as he looked from it to me.

“You’re… you’re sure? I don’t want you to feel pressured.” He questioned. I nodded firmly and tapped the paper for emphasis.

“Um… okay. I’ll gather what we have here and see about us heading to my room at the Incubi town hall.” Stephen nervously got up, taking a tote to put the spare clothes and the notepads of paper we’d already gone through over the last couple of days.

Chapter 10 - Stephen

I’m not going to lie. I’m kind of freaking out. I was sent here to fight and so far I’ve spent most of my time here in the hospital with Amelia. I’ve been enjoying getting to know Amelia, even if I’m anxious to join my packmates in battle.

I’ve also been anxious to move forward with the chosen bond so she won’t have these random pains, especially at night. It kills me every time she whimpers in pain, let alone howling. Ignazio needs to die soon.

So yes, I’m excited about us completing our chosen bond. I mean, what guy isn’t excited about mating? And obviously, I’m attracted to Amelia. So the prospect of marking her and being intimate with her is something I want.

I just wasn’t expecting her to agree so suddenly after her shower. I think I almost tripped over my feet getting stuff packed up to leave. Amelia snickered as she brushed out her long dirty blonde hair pulling it into a high ponytail while I got everything ready.

“You find this funny, don’t you?” I cocked my eyebrow, shouldering the tote bag.

She shrugged, but there was humor in those cognac eyes. She doesn’t have to speak for me to know what she wants to say. And I can’t blame her. I’m sure it’s funny to watch a guy tripping over himself because you said you want to have sex.

“Glad to provide you with some entertainment. Now let’s try and find our way out of this hospital and back to my room.” I smiled, offering her my hand. She hesitated for a moment but took my hand, lacing her fingers with mine.

Stepping out of the door, I don’t see anyone guarding the door. That’s strange. Someone has always posted up out here because of who Amelia is. Perhaps they were short of fighters and so had to call them away since Amelia isn’t a threat to the pack.

That would be good if they don’t see her as a threat. But something doesn’t feel right. “Stay close to me.” I whispered, bringing her tighter to my side. It was subtle, but there was some malice in the air.

I shouldn’t have followed the smell, but I did. It doesn’t help that I have no idea how to get out of this place anyways. I frowned as we came to a door with a marker that said, ‘Chief Physician, Doctor Silvano Filippi.’

Why did the smell of malice, hate, and envy bring me to the door of the hospital’s chief surgeon? I considered knocking, investigating, but Amelia tugged at my arm.

Turning my head to her, I saw her shaking her head. She’s never told me what her gift is, but she’s newly shifted so hasn’t had much time to explore it. Am I not the only one that senses something?

I sigh and nod, guiding her away from Doctor Filippi’s office. I won’t make her deal with any uncomfortable situations. I’m still utterly lost navigating these hallways. I kept looking, trying to find a map or anything to say how the hell to get out of here.

“Tie… please, you need to wake up.” A female voice softly pleaded. I furrowed my brow as Amelia stopped at an open doorway. Turning my head to see why we stopped, I saw a female sitting at the bedside of a male, holding his hands between hers.

I couldn’t see her face as she was facing away from us, but her voice said it all. She was desperate for this Tie to wake up. The male must be her mate. The poor girl, I wonder what’s wrong with him.

Amelia’s grip on my hand tightened as she stared intently at the male. I raised an eyebrow, not sure what that was about. I considered getting out the notepad to ask when a cough behind us made us both jump. Turning, I sighed in relief seeing Beta Alexander.

“What are you two doing here? Where are the guards from her room?” Alexander questioned. I furrowed my brow. It sounds like there should have been someone guarding our room.

“There wasn’t anyone there. We’ve been trying to find our way out of this maze. Amelia has decided she’s comfortable with moving forward with our bond. I was told when we were ready, we could return to my room at town hall.” I explained.

“Fuck. There should have been someone. Come on. I’ll bring you to the town hall.” Alexander frowned, shutting the door to the room. “There’s no need to disturb my cousin and her mate.” he stated, shooing us from the door.

His cousin? Does that mean the female is André’s sister? I shook away any concerns and nodded, following Alexander’s lead.

If it’s going to get us out of this hospital, I’m all for it. Amelia kept glancing back until we turned the corner and the door to that room was no longer in view. When we get to the room, I’ll have to ask her what that was about.

“Just make sure you stay in your room unless requested. Ignazio has been attacking in waves, so people constantly come in and out to rest and return to fight. And if you are completing your chosen bond… it might not be long before Ignazio comes out of hiding.” Alexander sighed, getting out of the way as warriors rushed out to join a battle.

“Not a problem.” I assured with a nod leading Amelia down the hall to my room. I at least remember where my room is. Too bad I forgot who’s room is across the hall. I groaned as I saw Clement leaning in his doorway.

“Where the hell have you been, Stephen?” If he says one rude thing, I’m knocking him out. “You’ve missed all the action.” Clement scoffed before his eyes landed on Amelia.

“Oh, you were getting a different kind of action. Didn’t realize you’re a herdsman.” Clement chuckled as his eyes trailed over Amelia. Obviously, she doesn’t know what the term means, but I sure do.

I dropped the bag I held, landing a solid left hook to his face. “You’re dead. Don’t you ever look at, let alone speak to or about my mate.” I snarled, moving Amelia, so she was behind me.

“I don’t know what your fucking problem is, but I’m going to prove which is the better wolf.” Clement was growling, holding his jaw as he launched himself at me. Before he could touch me, his body turned to marble, freezing him in place.

“Well, that’s enough of that.” Zoe sighed, leaning at the wall with a towel around her neck, her hair wet looking like she’d recently showered.

“Welcome to Incubi town hall, Amelia. Ignore Clement. He’s a piece of trash thankfully doesn’t accurately represent the Bloodmon males.” Zoe smiled, pushing off the wall.

I could tell Amelia felt uncomfortable with Zoe being here and obviously still confused by what happened with Clement. “I’ll have someone move the asshole back into his room. You two continue with your day.” She smiled, giving a small wave turning, and walking away.

“Thank you, Miss Zoe.” I bowed my head before leading Amelia into my room. “Come on… this is my room.” I smiled, unlocking the door letting Amelia go in first.

The room was simply furnished with a full-size bed, nightstand, dresser, and closet. I tossed the bag onto the nightstand, shutting the door with a sigh.

“I’m really sorry about Clement. He’s… well, an asshole.” I apologized. “I swear our Alpha sent him here hoping he would die.”

Amelia nodded, digging into the bag finding the notepad. She quickly found a fresh page and wrote something, turning the paper to me.

“What is a herdsman?” I cringed because I really didn’t want to tell her. But I won’t hide things from her. “It’s not a nice term. It’s basically a rude way of saying I go after chubbier girls, implying that they are easy.” I frowned.

“That’s not the case. You know that, right? I’ve been candid with you. I haven’t been with anyone. That you are my first and only relationship and all that goes with it.” I quickly assured her, taking both her hands in mine.

With a sigh, she nodded. At least she knows that I’m not like that. “And to continue being honest with you. Before I met you, Conway and I decided we would start looking for a chosen mate.” I sighed.

“And when packing to come here….” I winced, going over to my duffle, taking out the box of condoms. It wasn’t some big box. It was the Trojan Nirvana ten pack. But I still saw her eyes widen.

“Please don’t jump to a conclusion. I brought these because… I wasn’t sure what might happen, and rather that I was prepared. And then I met you and now….” I’m rambling, grasping at straws here.

Amelia’s face is turning red, and I can’t be sure if it’s embarrassment or rage. Her eyes are darkening in a way I haven’t really seen before. And I don’t know what it means.

As I opened my mouth to ask and once more plead my case, her eyes took on a silvery tone, and she launched herself at me. Her arms wrapped around my neck, pulling me into a kiss with a growl.

The hell? ‘It’s Faith! I think her wolf has grown tired of the humming and hawing. She was to be free of Ignazio.’ Conway concluded, stepping closer, eager to see where this goes.

That makes a lot of sense. I hadn’t seen her eyes change colors before, but now I know Faith has silver eyes. ‘Shut up and kiss her back, dummy.’ Conway huffed, shoving me. ‘Or I take over.’ He threatened.

Oh hell now. My first time is going to be in the backseat of my mind. If Conway wants to be intimate with Faith, he can wait till they shift. This is Amelia and me right now. Which reminds me.

I pulled back or as far as I could with her grip on the back of my head. I requested. “Faith… as happy as I am to meet you. Let Amelia come forward. You and Conway will have your time. But tonight is for us.”

Faith pouted, but I saw her retreat as the silver faded, Amelia’s rich cognac eyes returning. “Welcome back, beautiful.” I smiled, pressing my lips to hers again.

We’ve kissed quite a lot over the last few days, never too intense. But today, as I sought to deepen the kiss, she didn’t stop me. I was cautious as my tongue ventured past her lips. I rubbed the nub of her tongue, feeling sorrow and rage but not disgust.

I tried to back her in the direction of the bed, and she tried to move in turn, and we ended up tripping over each other. I laughed a little, moving to prop myself up with one arm to not lay fully on her. But hey, at least we landed on the bed.

She was laughing softly, too, her hand reaching up to stroke my cheek pulling me closer for another kiss. I have no idea what I’m doing. I just really hope that I don’t disappoint her with my ineptitude.

Chapter 11 - Amelia

I can’t explain why I stopped and stared into that hospital room. There was something weird about the male lying in bed. There was some weird haze all around him. It made me think of when I saw that witch flickering between old and young.

I wanted to tell Stephen what I saw, especially after Beta Alexander said the female is his cousin, so she must be ranked in the Incubi pack. They should know that something is wrong with that male and might be magic-related.

But it will have to wait. I can tell Stephen after we’ve marked each other. Then I won’t need to write everything down. It’s hard to write in English. Shit, will I be able to keep my thoughts in English to tell him? On the plus side, any thoughts I have will be secret until he learns Italian.

The closer we got to his room, the more nervous I got. I’ve known him only a few days and I’m going to let him mark me. I mean, this is a huge step. The marking part is intimate enough on its own, but I know we have to have sex to complete the bond.

He’s said he likes how I look but will he change his mind when I’m naked? Will my plump belly and fat thighs be a deal-breaker for him? I won’t blame him if they are. You have to be physically attracted to your mate just as much as intellectually.

I was mulling over my insecurities when we ran into one of Stephen’s packmates. Clement, as Stephen called him, is a fucking asshole. I’m not sure what a herdsman is, but I know it’s terrible.

I know it was derogatory and insulting based on how he looked at me. Clement looking at me made my skin crawl, and Faith drew what strength she had to stand and bare her teeth. I didn’t even get to growl, let alone hit the asshole. Stephen did it first.

No one’s ever really stood up for me like that. Well, no one outside my family. And he didn’t just hit Clement. He openly claimed me. He moved me behind him like I’m something delicate that needs protection.

I’m still nervous about what will happen in his room, but wow, I am officially turned on. Because that was hot.

‘Damn right it was hot. We made a good choice by having Stephen as our mate.’ Faith agreed.

I was more than a little surprised to see Clement turn to stone and more on edge when I saw it was Zoe. She makes me uncomfortable. I know Stephen said nothing happened, but until we have completed the bond, I will be insecure about him around other females.

I was relieved to be in his room until anxiety about what we would do started to creep up again. I decided to ask what a herdsman was. And I wish I hadn’t. It just made me angry. I want to smash Clement while he’s stone.

When he said he had to be honest with me, I started to worry. And when he showed me the box of condoms, I could feel my face heating up. I’m probably the same shade of red as a ripe tomato. The level of embarrassment is a new one for me.

Faith felt different about it. She managed to push forward before I could react and initiated a kiss with Stephen. I can’t believe she did that. But he did kiss back, and it was such a nice kiss I forgave her.

And once more, Stephen showed how sweet he was by greeting Faith while asking me to be in control. I almost wish Faith had stayed in control. She’s a wolf, so she won’t get embarrassed or self-conscious like me.

I like kissing him, even if it scares me when his tongue brushes my lips. But I parted my lips this time, and he didn’t pull away in disgust. He explored my mouth, and it felt good. I felt some of my worries fade.

‘Just do what comes naturally. I’ll be here.’ Faith encouraged me as Stephen, and I stumbled to the bed.

We were both laughing, he has such a nice laugh, and it helps ease my tension. I’m not the only nervous one here. I didn’t want to think too long about why I was nervous, so I pulled him back for another kiss.

I’ve never done this, and by his own admission, neither has he. So it was a little awkward as we both sort of fumbled, unsure trying to touch each other. I froze when I felt his hands slipping under my top.

He’s touching my love handles. I’m going to die of embarrassment. Stephen pulled back from the kiss, those warm cinnamon eyes looking down at me with a small smile.

“It’s okay, Amelia. It’s just me. It’s just us here.” He whispered, leaning his forehead to mine.

“I know you’re nervous. I am too. And I know you have your own concerns about your body. But I like your body. I’m attracted to you exactly as you are.” His sweet words were helping calm me as his hands started to move higher up my sides.

My breath hitched as my shirt was pushed higher, his hands just below my breasts. “I won’t do anything you don’t want me to. If I do something you don’t like, just hit me, anything that will get my attention.”

I sighed and nodded. Nudity is part of life, and you can’t have sex while fully dressed. He smiled, kissing me again. His hands moved my shirt higher, nudging my legs open so he could settle between them. Our lips broke apart as he moved, and I leaned up enough for him to throw my shirt aside.

I went to try and cover my breasts as he knelt between my legs, looking down at me in his dimly lit room. “Please… don’t hide from me.” Stephen softly pleaded, taking my hands gently to prevent me from covering myself.

I felt like my heart was about to beat out of my chest. Stephen’s gaze slowly drifted from my face, and I feared what he would think. I’m not small. Nothing about me is small between my mother’s and father’s genetics. I already wear a 90 E bra.

“You’re perfect.” Stephen whispered, leaning back over me, pressing his lips to mine.

I sighed softly into the kiss. My heart was beating at hummingbird speeds as Stephen started kissing down my neck, one of his hands sliding up my body to caress my breast.

I was panting, trying to steady my heart as Stephen scraped his teeth across the marking spot. “I know we’re not ready for that part yet. But soon, you’ll be only mine.” Stephen whispered against my rapid pulse as he kissed lower.

I gasped, arching unconsciously into his touch as his mouth found its way to the breast that his hand wasn’t teasing. This was embarrassing, a little awkward, and yet still seriously hot. A grunt-like moan escaped my lips. I can’t even moan properly.

He at least knew the sound was because I liked it as he growled, swirling his tongue around my pebbled nipple. I gasped at the sensation as my body reacted on its own as my hips rolled against him.

Timidly I started trying to touch him. Digging my fingers into his soft hair, scraping my nails down his neck, tugging at his shirt. I don’t want to be the only one shirtless. And he must have gotten the hint as he knelt, pulling his shirt off tossing it carelessly to the floor.

My eyes soaked up every contour of his body, once more timidly reaching for him. “I’m just as nervous as you.” He whispered. That soft smile on his face as he took my hand, leaning forward to press it over his heart.

My eyes widened as I felt how fast his heart was beating. Looking up from my hand to his face, smiling a little. He really is just as nervous as I am. “I want this to be something we both remember, preferably as a happy memory.”

I nodded in agreement as my hand trailed down his chest, toying with the hairs on his chest. I blushed brightly as my hand trailed down to the band of his shorts that were tented. He really is attracted to me.

Cautiously I let my hand rub over the hard length through his shorts. Blinking as his cock twitched eagerly. “Fuck….” Stephen groaned, moving my hand away as he leaned back over me, kissing me.

I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but I’m kissing him back with my hands, exploring his back, wanting to touch him. I liked how it felt to have his bare chest against mine. Still kissing me, Stephen moved from between my legs to lying next to me.

Chapter 12 - Amelia

I wasn’t sure why he moved until I felt his hand caressing my body, making its way to the track pants I was wearing.

“I want to see and touch all of you. If you’ll let me.” Stephen explained, pulling back from the kiss as his fingers just started to dip below the elastic band.

Biting my lower lip, I nodded. I want Stephen to keep going. I want him to touch me. I want to touch him too.

He smiled, pressing his lips to mine again as his hand dipped into my pants. I groaned into the kiss, hips arching as his fingers found their way between my legs.

I furrowed my brow because it felt okay but not quite good. I know Stephen’s never done this either, but I can’t tell him what I want or how I touch myself. Not that I would if I could speak. That’s way too embarrassing.

‘Well, I’m not too embarrassed. Stephen should learn what we like.’ Faith snorted, nudging forward. I didn’t stop her as she took just enough control to reach down and guide his fingers to where I like and to move how I like.

Stephen didn’t mind as he followed my lead, kissing down my neck. “Amelia…” He groaned my name, nipping at that spot on my neck again, sending a shiver through me.

I gasped as his finger slipped inside me. He was cautious in his movements, exploring as he tried to find a way to finger me that I liked. And soon, he had me gasping, panting, and grunt-moaning as the pleasure was building.

“Cum for me, Amelia.” Stephan groaned as he kissed down my body.

Who would have thought I’d find such a crude command hot. But it was enough to send my inexperienced body over the edge. I wanted to yell out Stephen’s name, but I couldn’t. I don’t even know what you’d call the sound I was making.

As I slowly came down from the orgasm, I realized Stephan had not only stripped my pants off but taken off his too. My eyes almost instinctively moved to look at his cock.

Unless you count a few movies I’ve seen with sex scenes, I don’t have anything to compare to. Sure I’ve seen males naked in my pack, but they weren’t erect, and I wasn’t about to mate with them. I gulped a little, trying to think about how that’s supposed to fit inside me.

“Don’t overthink. If we both start overthinking, this is going to go all wrong.” Stephen chuckled nervously as he put one of the condoms on.

I gulped again and realized how close we really are to doing this. “Are you okay with continuing? We can stop.” Stephen questioned, probably seeing how worried I was.

I shook my head. “Okay, that didn’t make anything clear. Do you want to keep going?” He questioned.

Taking a deep breath, I nodded. I don’t want to stop. I said I was ready, and I know I am. I can’t let my fears get in the way.

Stephan breathed a sigh of relief as his lips found mine again. It wasn’t as smooth as they make it seem in movies or books. But we got there. I grunted in pain as he filled me.

“I’m sorry… I know I can’t make it not hurt. But it will get better. And when it does start to feel good, that’s when we can mark. I’ve always been told it’s best to mark during sex.” He apologized while telling me what to expect.

I nodded, tentatively rolling my hips. It still hurt a little, but Stephen was right. The pain faded, and soon all I was feeling was the pleasure he was giving me. But there was something at the back of my mind.

A howling of pain, I know it’s not me, and it’s not Faith. And it’s obviously not Stephen or Conway.

So who’s howling like their world is ending?

‘Maximus.’ Faith whispered.

I blinked, realizing she must be right. Maximus is feeling everything Stephen, and I are doing. I feel bad for him though I hope Ignazio is withering in as much agony, if not more than I was.

‘I’m sorry, Maximus. It isn’t anything against you. But Stephen is a better man than Ignazio. He will love and cherish me as a mate ought to. I pray that you find peace from what Ignazio has done to you.’ I whispered, not sure if he could hear me.

‘I’m sorry I wasn’t stronger. I’m sorry I couldn’t stop Ignazio from hurting you. This chosen mate better treat you well.’ Maximus answered, his voice cracking in pain.

I never wanted to hurt Maximus. It isn’t his fault Ignazio is a terrible person. I hope he finds peace when Ignazio dies. And I hope that death is soon and quick for Maximus’s sake only.

“You need to reject him, Amelia. I’m going to mark you.” Stephen instructed, panting against my neck as he kissed where his mark would be.

I tried to focus on saying the words through the link. ‘I, Amelia Grace Furlan, reject you Ignazio Ugo Grimaldi as my mate and my Alpha.’ I shouted the words as firmly as I could, and as if Stephen knew I’d done it, I felt the sharp sting of his canines sinking into my neck.

I groaned, my head listing to the side as my body fluttered between pain and pleasure. Closing my eyes to try and grasp everything happening, I saw Maximus and Ignazio.

Ignazio was on the floor in an almost fetal position screaming and howling in pain, ripping at his flesh. Maximus was howling in pain. He looked so weak. I felt sorry for Maximus, but only for Maximus.

‘Forgive me, Maximus.’ I whispered as the vision faded and the bond I’d felt click that day fizzled out, and something new started to form.

Soon all I felt was warmth and love wrapping around me like the ultimate comfy blanket. This… It’s Stephen and Conway. It is their feelings for Faith and for me. This is what a bond should feel like.

‘Oh wow. This is incredible. I didn’t think it could be like this.’ I thought as Stephen sighed, licking the blood from my mark.

“Your voice sounds as sweet and beautiful as I imagined. No clue what you said, but it was beautiful. Now mark me to complete our bond.” He encouraged, offering me his neck as he slowed his rhythm of thrusts.

I gasped as I realized the half bond meant he could hear me. He can hear me! There’s so much I want to say to him. Even if my thoughts were in Italian, he still heard me.

‘You can do that later. Mark Stephen, and let’s have another orgasm.’ Faith encouraged looking more like herself now that our bond to Ignazio was broken.

No more second-guessing, I leaned forward, biting into his neck. His groan filled my ears as he picked up the pace of his thrusts. And just as Ignazio and Maximus had faded away when he marked me, I started to see Stephen and Conway but in their shared headspace.

‘I am going to love you the rest of my life.’ Stephen smiled at me as our bond completed. My heart felt like it was going to explode. Or maybe it wasn’t my heart as I pulled back from marking him to groan in pleasure as I climaxed in time with him moaning my name.

We were both breathing heavily as he leaned his forehead against mine. ‘It may be soon to say it. But I love you, Amelia. And I’m so happy the Goddess brought me to you.’ Stephen used our bond to speak his honey words.

“I… I think I love you too. Or it might be the orgasm talking. I’ll let you know in the morning.’ I giggled, embarrassed.

‘I feel the same. I can’t thank the Goddess enough for bringing us together.’ I sighed, touching his face. If she wanted to make up for pairing me with the worst mate ever, she outdid herself with Stephen.

He smiled, giving me a tender kiss. We both groaned as he pulled out, moving to lay next to me. ‘ I’m going to throw out the condom, but I’ll be right back to bed.’ He promised as he moved off the bed.

I sighed, wiggling on the bed to get under the blanket, watching his naked backside as he walked across the room, throwing the condom into the trash bin. Then smiled as I watched him walk back, his cock flaccid now but still impressive to me.

‘Stop looking at me like that, or we’ll ever get any sleep.’ Stephen teased as he climbed into the bed, wrapping me in his arms.

We slept like this at the hospital. Unlike at the hospital, we’re both naked and under the blanket together. My whole body tingled with a warm buzzing from our skin-to-skin contact. I sighed, taking a deep breath. ‘You smell like cinnamon rolls.’ I whispered, making sure to use English.

He chuckled, nuzzling into my hair and neck. ‘And you smell like rainier cherries. Perfect and delicious.’ I smiled, closing my eyes falling asleep exhausted and content in his arms.

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Penny Angeles-Tan
Penny Angeles-Tan
Mar 15, 2022

I thought the only way to reject a mate was face to face and it had to be done verbally. But I guess, since Amelia is unable to speak, a mind link would suffice.

That aside, I thought their first time was sweet. 😊 Just how a first time should be. It is refreshing to read a book where the guy is also learning how to pleasure his mate, starting from scratch, as it is.

I feel sad for Maximus since he is collateral damage, but there was no way to sever the bond with Ignazio without hurting Maximus as well, sniff!

Author Bryant
Author Bryant
Mar 15, 2022
Replying to

I figure between using the link as she can't speak and completing the bond with another is enough. At least to free her of the mate bond.


Natasha Kelly
Natasha Kelly
Mar 15, 2022

Awwww poor maximus! Take that icky iggy! Aww bless them so much they are just the cutest and im so warm n fuzzy right now sharing their love! So sweet!


Lorena Koolman
Lorena Koolman
Mar 14, 2022

I really really love this, i love how realistic it sound. How amelia voice out what most girls feel at there first time. I love how stephan was with her. This chapter took me bek to memory line

Lorena Koolman
Lorena Koolman
Mar 14, 2022
Replying to

Love it thank you so much


Mar 14, 2022

My heart!!! ❤


Diana Ruiz M
Diana Ruiz M
Mar 14, 2022

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