Weddings were supposed to be a joyful time, a time to rejoice, to wear elegant clothes and of course, to try dancing without crushing anyone’s toes.
However, as I hid behind the last pew in the great Memorial Hall of Alphas, watching the lovely pair standing before the officiator, joy was the last emotion I was feeling. It was ironic though because the beautiful bride mopping away tears as her mate started reciting his own vows. She is my two year elder sister, Ansley Vinley. She and I had been close once before she became a part in the scheme to cheat me of my happiness.
My hands shook lamely as I drew the corners of my favourite shawl closer around my head and examined the hall. Seats were filled to the brim by numerous guests from various packs, far and near. Decorations of lilac and cream hung from pillar to pillar.
I was not supposed to be there. Father had warned me with strict orders to stay away from the ceremony. According to him, I was bad luck, a stain on his reputation and his greatest regret.
The officiator was the oldest wolf in Clawride Pack. He smiled at the couple before him, joining his hands in a solemn clasp. “You may now kiss your mate,” he proudly announced, his voice a bit thick with emotions.
He innocently called them mates, a lie spread to cover up the injustice against me. I bit down on my lower lip to stop myself from screaming. I choked on a whimper, forbidding myself to cry over a lost cause. I had been happy once, when I was to be mated to Wren. He had been only two years older than me but was to be our future Alpha.
I had not known then but it turned out that he had known about us being mates two years ago and had kept it from me. But I was too happy when I turned 18 to find out we were mates, happy enough to forgive his deliberate silence on the matter until my world came crashing to my feet.
Every wolf naturally shifted for the first time at age thirteen and mine was no different except for one thing. My wolf was a ferocious looking animal with inky black fur and sharp talons that I had no control over. In the midst of grey wolves, brown ones, even ash furred wolves, my wolf stood out, huge and awkward. It had taken tranquilizers and the pack’s strongest men to keep me down. I thought the shame of that day was forgotten until it came up again to ruin my life.
Father had come home some days later with a message from Alpha Keller. Wren had refused to have anything to do with me but would take another daughter from our family.
“At least, he did not turn his back on our entire family,” Father had reasoned selfishly, frowning at my uncontrollable tears. “He has chosen your sister, Ansley, as the new Luna for Wren instead. You must do your duty for our family’s sake. You must forget about Wren.”
And I did what he said, stepping aside for my sister to take what was mine. Father was a general in the Alpha’s army and in my family, his word was law. Mother never tried to challenge him and preferred to keep to herself. Despite the fact that the he always favoured Ansley over me, he and I had the same forest-green eyes, mysterious and cool.
Ansley beamed brightly and went on tiptoe, too eager to wait for her groom. He lowered his lips to meet her halfway and I slipped off my seat, falling onto the cold tiled floor.
There and then, my heart broke all over again, pain tugging at my chest as I pounded my fists silently on the ground. I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out, just a pitiful croak. My sister was kissing Wren Maddock, my mate, well, ex-mate, the one precious gift I was forced to give up. All I could think of as they finally came apart was: it was supposed to be me.
Blood rose to the surface of the bruised flesh and I blew on it, wincing when it stung like a bitch. Normally for a werewolf, open wounds sealed up in less than a minute but two had passed and I could still feel the pinching pain. Not only had I been forced to give up my mate by my imposing father but as a result of my agreement, my inner wolf, Bly had been muted and with it went my supernatural abilities. The day I felt her silence, it was like my soul had walked out the door.
Our wolves were an important part of us and without them, we were mere shadows of ourselves. She was still there inside me but could have no real connection with me. Bly might be wild but she was mine, all I had and I needed her to be whole. The only way I could get her back was a rare but ridiculous solution: a second chance mate. Like I was ever getting another one after my beastly wolf had successfully driven away the first one.
Still feeling wronged and in despair, I knocked over a pot of white lilies on my way out unintentionally and stooped low to put them arrange them back in the ceramic pot. Just then, I heard the swish of curtains closing and I turned around towards the line of suites for special guests. Alpha Keller had used his influence to invite as many important people as possible and renovated some old buildings into temporary suites. They had previously been slave quarters some centuries back but I heard it now boasted of modern facilities and equipments.
Clearly, whomever was behind the curtains had been spying on me without my knowing it. Weird. I arose, moving with purpose to a nearby bin. Uncovering the bin, an impatient bark snarled at me followed by a leap out of the uncomfortable container.
“Drew!” I yelped, amused yet taken by surprise. The displeased ball of fur let out another bark of relief to see me and proceeded to lick the sweat off my face. Strange that the only one ever excited to see me was a terrier. Drew was also the only creature I loved unconditionally, second only to Alpha Wren. Sometimes, when the pain got too much, when my father’s harsh words kept me awake at night, I would sneak out my small whittling knife and thought of just ending it all.
My death would do my father, for one, a lot of good. Goddess knows, he sought ways each day to finally get rid of me. His current plan was to push me onto one of the older wolves, anyone too sex crazed to notice that I was nothing special. Ansley would no longer have to pretend she was guilty for stealing my mate and soon, they would all forget about me. My mother was a neutral individual and was neither for nor against my happiness.
Drew nuzzled his head under my chin, sharing in my pain. He had been a gift from my Grandma Gina. Drew had been one of the pups birthed by her bitch, Esme. She was long gone but I missed her terribly, the only one ever in my corner. Whenever I closed my eyes, the memory of Ansley looking beautiful in white and Wren utterly handsome in his dove grey tuxedo reminded me why I couldn’t kill myself and let them be happy. Besides, Grandma had made me promise to always take good care of Drew.
“No, I won’t think of suicide anymore,” I said to Drew, convinced that he could understand me. I scooped him under my arm and gave the hall one last look.
I couldn't die while there was still a chance. All I had to do was find my second chance mate and get my wolf back. How hard could it be?