In a world where love is a dangerous game, Kieran and Jezebel's story unfolds with intense emotion and unexpected twists. Their relationship, challenged by doubts and unspoken feelings, takes a dramatic turn with Jezebel's pregnancy. As they navigate the complexities of love, loyalty, and leadership, they must confront their true feelings and the impact of their decisions on their pack. Can Kieran embrace his responsibilities and follow his heart, or will fear and uncertainty dictate his path? Will their love survive the trials of leadership and the revelations of the heart?
I stood on the balcony overlooking the city, my eyes fixated on Kieran and Jezebel's intertwined forms as they disappeared into the distance.
They looked like a perfect couple, the viridian of her dress matching the soft wonder on his face.
He told me he wasn’t sure about her, but my intuition made me overly cautious. At this moment, Kieran looked pretty lovesick.
My heart felt heavy, and I struggled to control the bitterness that threatened to spill over. It felt like history was repeating itself—like when my mother chose death over taking care of me.
Abandonment seeped into my soul again.
"Nahta?" A quiet voice called from behind me, forcing me to turn around. Jameel stood there, his eyes filled with concern. He was a city guard in charge of administrative work, not fighting.
This man was supposedly my mate, but he was nothing compared to the strong, dominant Alpha I had always imagined for myself.
"Jameel," I spat out, the venom in my tone surprising even myself. "What do you want?"
"Um..." Jameel hesitated, his brows knitting together in worry. "I just wanted to see if you were alright."
It was a known secret that I loved Kieran. The entire city guard, including Jameel, knew it. Even so, he didn’t have to come check on me.
"Of course, I'm not alright!" I shouted back, hot tears stinging at the corners of my eyes.
Why did fate have to be so cruel? As a lycan, I only got one mate—and this was him? My heart yearned for someone like Kieran: a good fighter, a leader, someone with crass humor who could make me laugh when things got rough.
Not someone as fragile and sensitive as Jameel.
"Nahta, please," Jameel pleaded, stepping closer. "I can… You can talk to me. I promise you are in a safe space. You can trust me. Can’t you try?"
"Try?" I scoffed, shaking my head. "You don't understand, Jameel. You'll never understand. So don’t ask me to try and share my burdens with you."
Saying the words out loud only made the truth sting more.
"Maybe, I don't," he admitted, pain flickering in his eyes. "But that doesn't mean I can't listen, Nahta."
"Stop," I warned, my voice wavering. "I don't want to hear it." I couldn't stand to listen to his sincerity; it only made me angrier at myself for not being able to accept him as my mate.
"Nahta, please—" Jameel tried again, but this time I cut him off.
I didn’t want to give him a chance to say the words, to tell me that I was his mate.
"Enough!" I roared, causing him to flinch. My heart clenched at the sight; I didn't want to hurt him, but I couldn't help how I felt. "You need to leave, Jameel. Just…go."
He stared at me for a long moment before nodding slowly and turning to walk away. As I watched him go, a small part of me wanted to call him back, to apologize, to try and make this work.
But the rest of me—the part that had been abandoned and was now facing those same fears again—held me back.
"Nahta," Jameel said softly, stopping at the doorway. He glanced back at me, his eyes filled with sadness.
"I know I'm not Kieran, and I never will be. But I promise you, I will do everything in my power to be the best mate I can be. You don't have to accept me now, or ever. But just know that I'll always be here for you, no matter what."
"Thank you, but this will never work out. I will never love you," I whispered, even as my chest tightened with pain.
As the door closed behind him, I turned back to the balcony, staring out at the city once more. The sun had set, and the streets were illuminated by flickering lamplights.
The shadows cast by the buildings seemed to mirror the darkness in my heart.
"Nahta!" A familiar voice called out from below, and I glanced down to see Malik standing on the street, staring up at me. The smirk on his face did nothing to alleviate my rage.
“What do you want?” I snarled at him.
“What you should be asking,” he trilled back. “Is how I can help you make this potentially disastrous mate situation work for you.”
I snorted so hard I could see steam come out of my nose. “I don’t need your help.”
“Everyone says that, but I always change their minds. Look at Sitka.”
“You messed up a lot of shit for Sitka, so let’s not go there.”
Something flickered in his eyes, but he didn’t give up. Classic Malik. “You think you deserve better than him,” he observed casually.
So what if I did? What if I wanted something different? I only pictured myself with one man, and Lune had not only deprived me of him but also threw his very antithesis my way.
“He’s stronger than you know, Nahta.” Malik steepled his fingers in front of his chest. His brows furrowed as he clicked his tongue to the roof of his mouth. “He wouldn’t be a city guard if he weren’t. It’s not an easy job.”
“Did he hire you to write his resume? You really don’t need to hype him up for me, Malik. Plus, don’t you need to go snoop somewhere else? I’m really busy.”
“Staring into space and thinking lovelorn thoughts about a certain someone who just got married? That’s not a healthy way to spend your time,” Malik tutted.
I was just moments away from flying down and twisting his ear so painfully he’d remember what he’d been in his past life.
He caught the rage on my face and grinned. “I see I’m very close to the steep edge. I’ll go now.”
Before I could do anything else, Malik flitted into a procession up ahead and disappeared.
“Nasty little git,” I muttered to myself.
I remained on the balcony from where I had a vantage point of watching the city’s gates. From here, I could see Jameel in a face-off with some of the bulkier guards.
A streak of protectiveness washed over me, but I didn’t like it. Stupid mate of mine, couldn’t even muster the courage to defend himself!
"Damn it," I whispered under my breath, feeling the old wound of abandonment tearing open once again. My mother had chosen death over raising me, and now Fate seemed to be laughing at me by shackling me to a man who couldn't even protect himself.
I left my perch and headed to the gates.
"Hey, Jameel!" one of the guards yelled, smirking maliciously. "Why don't you show us your famous battle stance? You know, the one where you hide behind the nearest wall?"
The others laughed, and I saw Jameel's cheeks flush red. I clenched my fists, my nails digging into my palms. No more. I wouldn't stand by and watch this any longer.
"Excuse me," I growled. The guards turned to look at me, their smirks fading as they caught sight of the fury in my eyes.
"Whoa, what's her problem?" one of them muttered, but I ignored him. I was focused on the man who had been taunting Jameel—a burly guard with a scar across his cheek and an ego the size of a mountain.
"Hey!" I shouted, grabbing his attention. "You think you're so tough? Let's see how you fare against me."
The guard's eyes widened, and he looked around, clearly hoping someone would come to his rescue. But no one moved. Instead, they watched with interest as I squared off against the bully.
"Fine," he mumbled, dropping into a fighting stance. "But don't blame me when you end up with a broken nose."
"Talk is cheap," I retorted, lunging forward. Our fists collided, and I felt the satisfying crunch of bone beneath my knuckles. The guard staggered back, clutching his hand in pain.
"Is that all you've got?" I snarled, pressing my advantage. The fight was brutal, messy, and over far too quickly for my liking. The guard crumpled to the ground, blood pouring from his battered face.
"Never underestimate your opponent," I told him coldly, turning away. The other guards stared at me, a mix of fear and respect in their eyes. But I didn't care about them.
My gaze fell upon Jameel, who stood there looking stunned by my sudden display of violence.
"Thank you," he whispered, his voice barely audible above the murmurs of the crowd.
I wanted to say something in response, to acknowledge his gratitude, but the words wouldn't come.
Instead, I clenched my jaw and walked past him, not even sparing him a glance. I had saved him from the torment of his fellow guards, but my heart still burned with resentment toward him.
"Damn you, Jameel," I thought bitterly, fighting back tears as I retreated to the solitude of my room. "Why did you have to be my mate?"