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Chapter 8

  • Elelira POV
  • The reception went much the same as the first time. Many of the pack members came to congratulate us as we sat at the head table, but we didn’t speak to each other again.
  • I was polite, even pasting on a smile at times, but inside I felt numb. I knew what tonight would hold for me, and I thought I was ready, but then he went and kissed me.
  • What was that? That didn’t happen the first time. It stirred up Val, and it took me so long to get control of her again.
  • She felt it. Fully. The bond, the sparks. It was….exhilarating. It made me feel alive for a few moments….then reality hit me. As I was walking down the aisle hand-in-hand with Lachlan, the reality of what was to come if I succumbed to my bond felt like it was choking me. Momentary elation would mean nothing by tonight.
  • Out of anger for my Lycan, fearing what the ugly strands of hope he just fed her would do to her tonight, I slapped him. I slapped Lachlan, and spewed my venomous words all over him, not fearing at all what his reaction would be.
  • I won’t tolerate it. I won’t tolerate him hurting Val like that.
  • After changing into a lighter, simpler dress for the reception, I went back down with Mimi and was led over to my seat by Nilo, who told me my husband would be joining me shortly with a snicker.
  • When Lachlan did show up, he sat quietly beside me, and I continued to sip wine and accept greetings numbly from his pack. We didn’t speak or acknowledge each other again.
  • There was one difference in the reception. The first dance. I was dreading it, but when Nilo gave a short speech, snickering as he wished us a happy two-year alliance, he didn’t end his speech by welcoming us to our first dance like he did before.
  • No. This time, by the end of the speech, his eyes glazed momentarily and he started to sweat. He looked nervous as he stared at Lachlan, then finished the speech with “To the bride and groom,” as a toast. That was it.
  • I wouldn’t have to let Val suffer from his torturous and tempting touch again, so I was grateful.
  • Lachlan chugged his champagne, then pushed himself from his seat, leaving with the mumbled excuse of needing to speak with his Beta.
  • I was happy to see him go. With him gone, it was acceptable for me to step out as well, and there was only one place I wanted to be.
  • Grabbing an open but nearly full wine bottle from the beverage cart, I slipped out of the hall while everyone was distracted with their meals that were starting to be served. The bride and groom were served first, while Nilo was speaking, so no one would notice my absence for a while.
  • I took the familiar path around the stone walls of the castle, past the main docks, leading to the private dock only for Lachlan’s use. His boat was docked to the side, which is why I liked coming here. It hid me from view as I sat on the dock’s end, letting my feet hang off the edge, skimming the water’s surface.
  • Feeling the water between my toes brings back the longing to feel the water all around me. I love the ocean, and the freedom it brings. I’ve never known anything but sorrow and confinement on land. I want to be free in the sea again.
  • I’m staring down at the water under my feet, marveling at the foaming waves as they crash against the structure beneath me. I feel like I’m being watched suddenly, and sigh deeply, thinking it’s going to be Mimi or one of the guards asking me to return to the party. I looked up, took a big swig of wine, then froze, bringing the bottle back down as I’m startled.
  • Out in the distance is a figure, very human-like, floating above the water. I can’t see his face, or anything other than a manly profile thanks to the angle and reflection of the sun, but I know somehow that he is watching me.
  • I slowly stand, trying to get a better view so I can see his face when the figure dives below the surface, and a magnificent tail catching the sunset in its scales flicks against the surface.
  • A siren. In all my life, I’ve never seen another. Not even when the representatives come to shore every several years to discuss diplomacy with the packs. I was always told to stay out of sight, in my room, even by my mother.
  • Seeing one now brings tears to my eyes. I want to be in the sea. I wanted to dive in, swimming out to where I saw him go under, searching for him and pleading for him to take me. Take me back to your lair, to your kingdom.
  • “Can we call out to him? Is there a way to signal him to come here?” Val asks, as eager as I am to find a way to escape into the sea. She is just recovering from what being near her mate did to her. The agony of knowing you are so close to a mate that doesn’t want you and can’t feel you kills her, but she knows he is hopeless. A lost cause. He will start hurting us by tonight, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Not without making ourselves vulnerable, which I will not do.
  • “I don’t think he wanted us to see him. He dove under right when we noticed him.”
  • “What if he is just swimming to us? He could be coming this way now.”
  • “No. This distance is nothing in the water. He would already be here.”
  • I’m tiptoeing on the edge of the dock, considering diving in when I hear that damned nickname again. Val whimpers in my head, not ready for another encounter with him. Maybe I should dive in. I can make it pretty far by swimming even without my fins. I can make it to the other side of the castle, then sneak away to my room, hiding for the rest of the night.
  • “LIRA!” he yelled, and I know he caught sight of me. I groaned, throwing the sea one last longing glance before turning to face my insufferable husband once again.
  • “Retreat, Val. Just tune him out and wait for this moment to pass. It will always pass with him. Close yourself off and I’ll let you know when he’s gone.”
  • She whimpers, but is quick to listen, hiding herself deep in my mind, closing herself off to all my senses so she won’t have to feel her mate being near.