It was the day before The Beginning.
The elders called it that because it took 7 days for the Alpha to transition. It would take 7 days for the new Alpha to be confirmed and the ceremony to begin. Everything was begin prepared for the homecoming of my brother. I sat in the palace, watching Lana again. I refused to be without her for the ceremony. I needed her. I was tired of seeing Tzipporah when I closed my eyes. I was tired of feeling my brother touch her.
I brushed Lana’s cheek, wishing she’d wake. I needed her body as a distraction. I needed her to just open and her body respond and subdue the hunger that threatened everything else. I wanted to consume her, as I had for days. I let her leave as she wished of course, but at night she came back to me. She called me home. I was home to her. I was unaware of how that could be anything else but hers.
I touched her face, damp from her shower and kissed her forehead. I touched my forehead to hers, and closed my eyes. I wanted to know if I could see what she did. The elders said if you have found your mate, what the outside world would call ‘the one’, you should be able to see their thoughts.
I wanted Lana to the one. I wanted what I felt for Tzipporah to be a fluke. I needed that separation. I knew that death was the only real way to separate from someone whom you knew, or thought you knew was your mate. I had seen my sister, Lanja, break in half when Harmun died.
I wrapped myself around her, inhaled the rosewater she bathed in. “Lana.” I felt myself exhale her name. I needed her name to ground me, to chase the thoughts of Tzipporah away. I squeezed my eyes, forcing them shut. I needed to see what she was seeing. “Open, Lana.” I heard the growl in my ears. Didn’t she know how I needed her? Didn’t she know what this was doing to me? In a matter of days, I would be seeing the woman that I thought was my mate. And I had no say so. I had do see her, and I knew she would come. Her had to. She was about to the wife of the Third. This was three centuries in the making. It was inevitable as rain. And I knew that a storm would come as soon as I saw her.
The official day of The Beginning ceremony, the elders and amshuns were secluded. The first day of The Beginning is to bury the former Alpha, and to remember his life. I had been up for hours. Farron and Tzipporah where a plane. I knew they were one their way. I knew it. The connection with Lana wasn’t working, and I had no heart to tell her that it wasn’t. I rose from the bed we shared, and went to the balcony attached to my room. I needed the air. I needed Lana not to notice what was going on. I went outside, leaving the door open. The night air always made her happy, reminded her of the nights we would hunt and run together. I leaned against the railing, hearing the thunder off in the distance. Tzipporah would be here in the morning.
I closed my eyes, gripped the rock of the of stone balcony and heard it crack. I felt my shoulder loosen. I willed the wolf back, begged my animal self to remain at bay. Then the snarl. He would not be denied.
Let me out. She is coming. She will know where you are. Let me out.
I heard a snarl, deep and menacing come from my throat. I shook my head, willing away the snout. I felt my ribs crack and giving way. I screamed as the pain racked my body, leaving me writhing on the balcony floor. Let me out. Let me out! You need this as badly you always did. I cannot be where he is not and she is on her way. She will be here as we will take her. And she won’t leave us again.
I managed to get to my feet, gripping the rail only have it give way. I snarled and felt the shift. I inhaled and let the paws come, the muscles shift and the snout with its teeth. Then I allow the wolf to take me from the stone floor of the balcony and over it towards the woods.