Chapter 4

I lay in my bed for an hour before locating my runaway bag on the floor, hyping myself up for the reckless thing I am about to do. It didn't take much to convince myself, only a few scenarios and a look or two in the mirror. Only a stupid girl would think that Alpha Grant is taking me back to his pack to reject me, there is no point in that, it's ridiculous. I know who I am, what I am supposed to be. I know what I have convinced myself, and being mated to an Alpha is not part of my plan. It ruins everything.

If I could, I would give him to one of the other girls, someone who he can love and love with no doubt. They would be so happy, telling everyone with a proud look, showing him off like a prize won. She'd be the perfect Luna, that girl.

Tossing in the last of my things, I slide up my window and pop out the screen, leaving a giant hole for me to fly out of. I drop my bag to the grass first, watching with a racing heart as it hits the ground with an uncomfortable thud. There is no way I am jumping, I'll break something—likely an ankle or leg—and I can't run away with broken bones.

Opting for the front door, I close it slowly behind me and rush around back to swipe up my bag. In a very nervous and tired jog, I head for the trees.

Like a drunk woman, I have no plan but to head off into the night. All my dizzy head knows is that I must get away for him. Once he's gone tomorrow, I'll come back and apologize to my mother for disappearing. All I have to do tonight is hold up for a day, staying hidden, and wait for my mate to give up and go home. He'll forget about me when he's back at his pack, reunited with plenty of women and responsibilities to distract him. I will be Rae who?

I am delusional, aren't I?

Maybe I swiped four glasses instead of two.

I should have never gone to that horrifying gathering. It is just one clump of perfect people trying to match up and have perfect futures with perfect children and romance, aging and learning together. The more I think about it, the more my inner self yearns for it, so I numb myself from such thoughts. I find it harder to stick in the needle after finding this Alpha, though. I am blindfolded and stabling into whatever feels like skin.

Stumbling over a protruding tree root, I snap back to life and come to a pause. I've made it into the forest, denser than at the center of the pack. If my useless head hasn't done me completely wrong, then home is that way, right behind me.

Dropping my bag to the ground, cushioned by tall, sparse sprouts of grass, I sigh and look up to the sky. The moon is there, sneaking through the trees like a predator ready to pounce. It's the Goddess gazing down at me, shaking her head, arms crossed from my foolishness. I give her a wave, she doesn't wave back.

Crouching down and falling to my butt, I pick at the dirt, scooping up pebbles and tossing them to the side, a bored child. In this grave I dig shall be the final resting place of my sanity.

I wish he could see me like this, the Alpha. This would surely make him reject me now instead of forcing me to go off to his pack. I look like a lunatic, a drunk idiot playing with dirt in the middle of the night all to avoid her newly discovered Alpha Mate. A sour girl who is judgmental and cold, jealous by those who have what she could never grasp. This will only make me worse, being mated to an Alpha. It is as if I have been given the most expensive gift only to be unable to open it. It just sits there, staring at me, never able to be used by me. It's a cruel gift and I want to give it back.

By the time the sun begins to rise, I find myself dragging my bag along as I walk back to the house. A failure making her walk of shame.

I can't reject an Alpha. The moon goddess would never let that happen to her favorite children, but I'm sure I wouldn't be able to anyways.

When I sneak back into the house, back upstairs into my bedroom, I discover it to be six o'clock. My mother should be up any second now. She will be coming into my room, getting me up as well. She'll probably be excited, helping me 'get ready' for the dreaded eight o'clock. And she does.

I sit on my bed as she packs up things, essentials. I toss in a few books here and there, my iPod, headphones, my favorite socks—lonely girls things. I don't care what she puts in. I lay back and take deep breaths, calming my raging nerves, my racing heart, and warming my frozen fingertips. Slowly, my body grows cold. The infection of the Mate bond is eating me alive from the inside out.

When the knock comes to the door my mother gasps then rushes downstairs, yelling at me to finish everything up as she does so. While I zip up the two bags, I dream of the feelings the wine from the gathering gave me, wanting to feel it all again right now. A part of me misses dizzy and reckless Rae, so maybe she doesn't have to go. Maybe she can stay. If I am going to be Alpha Grant's embarrassment of a Mate—something hidden in a box in the attic—I might as well find entertainment in myself. I wonder if I'll see him now, or at all. Maybe we will be in separate houses at all times, maybe he just needs to know that I am there.

I am going with him for power, right?

While sitting in the forest, picking at the dirt, I thought hard about this. If Mates keep each other strong because of the bond, then he needs me around to make sure he doesn't grow weak.

My mother calls for me, so I pick up the bags and shuffle down the hall to the top of the stairs. I can see the guard down below, the guy from the night before, so I lazily shove the bags down the steps, watching as they slide and fumble down each one before anticlimactically landing on the floor. My mother glares at me, embarrassed by such childish actions. Why did I do it? Because I don't want to go, and I might as well let this guard know as well.

Following the bags, I reach the bottom and pick them up. "Are we leaving?"

He must think I am a psychopath, but he doesn't know what I am walking into. He doesn't know how sad my life is about to become, more so than it already is.

The guard nods. "Yes, the car is just outside." He takes the bags from me and I don't stop him, might as well take advantage of this pampering before being shoved into the attic. "You can sit in the back."

I hug my mother and promise to call her as soon as I get there. She holds onto me for a minute or two before releasing me from the nest, a baby bird falling, about to be touched by humans and rejected. I smile, though. Something too happy to be real, and she knows this. I want to tell her that I'll be back soon once this Alpha realizes that he doesn't really need me, but I stay quiet and get into the large car.

I don't expect the Alpha to be in here, and he's not. The guard then gets into the driver's seat and does whatever he has to do. I don't bother watching my house shrink, or watching the trees swim by, I just close my eyes and lay back. Hoping to sleep through the drive since I spent all of last night in the woods, I get as comfortable as I can and drift off.

It was sudden. One day he was alive then the next he was dead. He told me good morning, told me to have a good day, then he was off to the borders. My mother stayed home while he was a guard for our Alpha and as I was a child learning about the creature I am supposed to be. They said it was an accident. A few rogues appeared, seemed to be friendly then suddenly weren't.

They accidentally trusted these strangers, I suppose. I don't think my father did, though. He would be the one to doubt them, to believe that until proven innocent every man is guilty.

Our Alpha came to our door to tell us that our Mate and father was dead. He seemed to feel guilty. Maybe that's why he would remember my face. Not my face now, but that child's face, the big eyes flooded with tears, hands grasping for her father who would never come home. Whenever I see him, I think of that day.

I thought he would come and congratulate me on finding my mate as he does for every other man or woman who discovers theirs. My mother expected this too—hoping to replace our old, sad memory of him at our doorstep with a new one—but he never came. Alpha Grant must not have told him, and I know that I repeatedly tell myself that I don't care, that I expect this from him, but there will always be that part of me that aches no matter how many times I try. There is that part in everyone, the last piece that nothing or no one can convert.

The door beside me is yanked open, and the abrupt sound shocks me awake. Having to remember where I am, I peer around the car and sigh. The car is no longer in motion, which tells me one thing.

"You're free to get out," the guard tells me as he appears with my bags in hand. "I'm supposed to bring these up to your room, so just follow me."

Still foggy-headed from sleep, I nod and slide out of the car, slipping off the seat and landing unsteadily on the ground. I shut the car door behind me and walk near the guard as he heads towards the doors of a large house. I clench my jaw and power on.

"Is the Alpha—"

"No, he's not here yet," the guard interrupts as if I am his annoying, younger sister, "we arrived before him. He'll be here soon."

Somewhat insulted, I cross my arms and follow him into the house, my thoughts babbling on and on about how I am leaving here anyways and how he can leave because I don't need his help.

Not wanting to grow attached to the place, I ignore my surroundings and focus on the guards back. Up a staircase and down a hall is the door he stops in front of, and I know this is supposedly my room. He waits for me to open it, so I reach forward and swing the door open, pretending not to care when I am actually quite curious. Before stepping inside, I peer down the hall. Two large doors stand at the end, tormenting me, haunting me, acting like the gates of hell.

His scent seeps from there.

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