I learned long ago that ‘happily ever after’ is for fairytales. In the real world, not everybody finds their mate. Not everybody walks off into the sunset.
I was okay with that until he~ swept into my life and threw my entire world into disarray.~
With his ferocious howl. His piercing eyes.
And his body crafted by the Goddess herself.
I want to trail my hands down those perfect abs, feel his strong arms hold me, and hear his gruff voice assure me it’s all going to be okay.
And yet there is something in the way, an invisible wall between us I cannot crack. A riddle in my own memory I cannot solve.
But I must solve it. Because I will not squander my last chance at happiness.
I will become his Luna, my Alpha King’s hybrid mate.
As I stare into the bathroom mirror, I hardly recognize myself. I’m wearing a beautiful lace dress complimented by a few touches of makeup here and there.
I look damn sexy, which just makes today so much more unbearable.
I’m 199 years old and still unmated, which is unheard of in the wolf community.
Two hundred years may seem old, but I look to be in my early twenties in human years.
I’m here for the mating ceremony. What a load of crap. But if I go home unmated, everyone will look at me with pity in their eyes.
I smooth out some wrinkles in my dress and prepare myself to go out there and face this ridiculous charade, knowing I won’t hear the howl of my mate tonight.
Because I don’t have one.
What a cruel joke played by the Moon Goddess.
If a male wolf—alpha or otherwise—does not find his fated mate within 200 years, then he can choose a choice mate and will still get the strength, power, and bond of a fated mate.
As a she-wolf with alpha blood, I do not have that luxury. If I do not find my fated by my birthday, I will never be blessed with the mating bond.
I can choose a mate and will still grow a little stronger, but the bond will never attach and the powerful connection normal mates get will never be there.
No wolf would ever want a bondless mate.
I turn to the bathroom door and prepare myself to walk out into the garden where the ceremony takes place. I can hear the excited buzz of conversation already.
Every other unmated wolf is wild with excitement, expecting to meet their fate tonight.
I just want it to be over so I can go back to my hotel and watch Netflix.
I’m not much like the other wolves if I am being honest with myself. I am not violent. I have always been shy, distant, and, well, just different from others.
I have never killed another being other than when I hunt in wolf form.
Even then I make sure to do it quickly and mercifully. I come from a pack full of warriors who take joy in killing and torturing. I have never been like that.
I would rather read or be alone than go to meetings and balls and parties like others my age.
But unfortunately, as the daughter of an Alpha, it’s my duty to attend war meetings and speeches, and I always need to participate in these ridiculous mating ceremonies.
I look down at the bathroom doorknob. I know I should open the door and go out, but it’s so much easier to stay here, brooding about my bad luck.
My father was created thousands of years ago. He is the alpha of our pack, TipToe Tree.
He has always trained me and drilled his ways into my head, hoping I will be like him, but it never took completely.
I can fight like a warrior. Hell, I was stronger, faster, and more powerful than any other wolf in my pack by seventy-five years old, which labels me a freak.
Women shouldn’t be as strong as me. Nobody understands it, and it makes me feel weird, so I always just stay away from others as much as my father will let me.
You might notice I don’t speak of my mother, Lilliana, much. Apparently, she went into a coma while pregnant with me and died at my birth.
Nobody talks about her, even my father.
Shortly after she died, my father was paired with a second-chance mate, and they had two more kids.
There is my youngest sister, Erin, who is now 122 and, of course, has found her mate, James. Then there is my brother, Gabriel, 190 years old, who has his mate, Jessica.
Mates. At this point, I’m not even sure I want one.
I screw up my face and wish I could just stay in this bathroom all night and not face this meaningless night of shattered hopes.
I can’t bear to see my stepmother Elana’s tear-streaked face when I return to our pack empty-handed again.
Elana isn’t one of those evil stepmothers from Disney movies. She is very sweet and has always taken me in like I was one of her own, and I am very grateful for that.
But I notice the odd way she looks at me, similar to the way everyone else does. I don’t know why. She pushes me to be more social like my siblings and wants me to be “normal,” but that’s just not me.
My wolf, Cypris, paces inside me. She’s being unusually restless tonight. She’s normally one of the quietest wolves in the Pack, never bothering me and letting me shift back and forth with no argument.
“Stop it, Cypris,” I chastise her. ~“I don’t want to be here either. But don’t attack me because we have to be. It’ll be over soon.”~
She doesn’t listen. Instead, she takes a swipe at my insides and I double over in pain. A yelp escapes my lips and I’m glad to be alone in this bathroom.
Why the hell is she acting up like this?
But before I can figure out what’s wrong with my wolf, I hear the crowd starting to settle down outside. I groan.
Can’t hold it off any longer.
I open the bathroom door and step out into the crowd of wolves waiting to enter the ceremony.
All around me is a haze of howling wolves.
Women running to men after hearing their fated mates call.
Men shoving through the crowd in the direction to get to their women.
Everywhere I look, it’s bodies pressed together.
Lips molding to one another.
Moans. Whines. Fucking.
Some in wolf form, some still human. A few caught halfway between the two.
I stand alone in the middle of it. I haven’t howled yet.
Cypris is frantic inside of me and I figure I might as well just let it out, just to shut her up.
I tilt back my head, bare my teeth, and howl to the heavens.
In the silence that follows, I know something has changed. The crowd has stopped their frantic mating. Dozens of pairs of eyes stare in my direction.
For a moment, I quiver on the spot, wondering what has happened.
And then I see a massive black wolf pacing towards me. Parting the crowd around him. Fear flits across the faces of everyone he passes.
Suddenly I feel weak in the knees. I know that wolf. It’s the Alpha King.
Did I do something wrong? Is he going to kill me?
And then he opens his mouth…
And howls back.
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