Disclaimer: This book doesn't promote cheating or incestuous relationships.
Two and half years ago
"Oh, Jace...." she moaned, throwing her head back. "This feels so good...oh right that way..."
I think I have died.
Because there was no other way for me to explain the way I was feeling as I stood outside her door. The girl I loved more than my own life. The girl who was made just for me, my mate and the woman who was going to be Mrs. Noah Gray in less than twelve hours.
The girl who was now cradling her step-brother, naked and covered in sweat as she rode him. I knew I needed to speak, needed to say something, but I was...just blank. All I could do was stand and watch like a dummy as she leaned down and kissed him.I knew I was supposed to feel terrifying pain but all I felt was...nothing. Nothing at all.
"Oh, Val...you are perfect," Jace hissed, grabbing a fistful of her hair and pulling her head back as he kissed her throat. "Forget, Noah...stay with me, baby,"
"Oh yeah..." Valerie moaned, her fingers curling into his hair just the way she did with me. This was exactly how she moaned by name, exactly how she kissed me. But I wasn't her step-brother. I was the man who dedicated all his life to her, worshiped her and loved her, unconditionally and madly.
I was her mate.
"Val...Valerie," the words finally decided to leave my mouth.
The moment it did, both of them stopped and she turned her blue eyes to my face. They widened in shock and as our eyes locked, that's when it hit me...the pain. Because I finally got to witness the reality, the truth reflected in her beautiful eyes. I knew and understood every breath of hers, so all it took was one look to know that, unlike what my heart would love to believe, this wasn't just a mistake on her part, a momentary slip or a bad dream. It was exactly what it was and no excuse that I make on her part will change that.
She was cheating on me.
"Noah!" Valerie exclaimed, quickly climbing down Jace's lap, who was still in shock.
"I will wait downstairs." I said quietly, unable to look at her as she desperately tried to cover herself with the duvet. I have seen that body uncountable times. I knew every curve and dip of hers, how her skin felt, how it tasted, and yet I couldn't look at her anymore. It felt like I was looking at a naked stranger and not the woman who was marked by me.
My feet refused to move as I turned around and forced myself to climb down the stairs. It was just us here because her parents were out with mine, discussing some stuff after the rehearsal dinner was done. I was supposed to head out with my brothers for my bachelor's party and so was she with her friends. But Valerie left her purse at my place and when she didn't pick up my call, I decided to do a quick turnaround and hand it over. My brothers were still waiting outside.
"Noah!" Valerie exclaimed, thundering down the stairs. I couldn't even turn to face her. I was suddenly so scared of what I might see in her eyes, scared of the reality hitting me and the slow-burning pain creeping into my chest finally hitting me full-force, scared to know that all these months, the moments and memories that we shared...it was all a lie.
That it was all just me and never us.
"Noah, please..." Valerie whispered, her fingers slowly meshing with mine. I closed my eyes and Noel whined as a wave of pain crashed through me, the same touch that I craved like a starved man making my entire body burn like someone lit it on fire.
"I am so sorry," she continued, wrapping her arms around my chest as she pressed her face into my back. "Noah...I am so sorry,"
"Don't touch me!" I wanted to scream but as I said...I had no words.
"It was a mistake....I...I don't know what I was thinking," Valerie continued, her voice shaky. "Noah, please...you have to believe me. You know I love you...I...I don't what happened. I think...I got scared of this whole marriage thing...I just...Noah....I am so sorry,"
Every part of me wanted to believe her, regardless of how stupid and lame the excuse was. I desperately wanted to believe her, believe that she had made a mistake out of fear, but in the end, it was me for her. That she loved me. But as I finally forced myself to turn around and face her and gaze into her eyes, I knew it wasn't. It wasn't a mistake. And she didn't love me the way I imagined she did all those months.
It was all a lie. Everything...us...we were a lie.
"It was a mistake," she whispered, her eyes glassy as she took my hands in hers. "You know I love you. It's just you. You are my mate...my alpha...it will always be you. Please, Noah...am so sorry. Please, let's just try and forget this and start a new chapter tomorrow. Punish me if you want, but please forgive me. Please..."
"Where did I go wrong?" I asked her quietly. "Please tell me...where did I go wrong?" Valerie's eyes widened and she rapidly shook her head before wrapping her arms around me and burying her face in my chest.
"No...no..." she sobbed. "No, Noah...it's my fault. It's me. I don't know why I did that....you are perfect. You are the love of my life...Noah..."
"I need to leave," I whispered, gently moving her away.
"Noah, please..." Valerie cried, holding onto my hand. "One last chance...Noah...you love me," I nodded slowly.
"And that's why I am letting you go," I answered, wiping her eyes with my thumb. "You are free now,"
"No...No...Noah please...." she held my hand tightly and it pained me to see the tears in her eyes but the pain of her betrayal that was slowly, slowly building inside me won against hers.
I knew I could forgive her and end the chapter right here. Nobody has seen them or witnessed what happened. Nobody will ever know and we can continue through the wedding like nothing happened. But I also knew that I could no longer go back to be the way we were about half an hour ago. When I was happily locked in my beautiful bubble where she loved me just as much as I did and we were ready to embark on this amazing future I had envisioned for ourselves. A future where she was going to be completely mine, where we had two beautiful kids, a daughter and a boy and the most perfect family anyone has ever witnessed.
But the bubble had burst now and that future no longer existed.
"I will meet you at the altar tomorrow," I whispered, and I knew she was smart enough to understand that it was not to marry her.
"Noah...please..." Valerie wailed, tightly grabbing onto my hand. "Please..." I gently pulled away and without another word walked out, never to turn back again.
"Noah..." Logan mumbled, knocking at the door softly. I turned my eyes away from the window to face him. He looked pained, his dark eyes bleak. I don't think I have ever seen him so distraught before.
"They are ready," he said softly. "Everyone's waiting at the altar."
"I'll be right there," I answered. Logan nodded and, turning on his heels, started to walk out, but then he halted and walked back over.
"You are not alone," he said, wrapping his arms around me. "You have got us. You know that, right, Noe?" I slowly nodded. He gave me his big brotherly smile, the one he used to use on me when we were kids and I would get hurt before walking out. I watched him disappear, still waiting for that excruciating pain to hit. For the most part, I was just numb. But I also knew it was coming. And this was just the silence before the storm.
"Please...just get it done with," Noel whispered. "Nothing is changing," I nodded and, taking a deep breath, headed out.
Everything looked perfect. The decorations, the flowers, the theme, the altar...it was all perfect. Just the way I imagined everything to be. The altar was decorated with blooms of beautiful white roses, Valerie's favorite. And there she stood...but not the way I imagined. Both the families were gathered just the way they were supposed to be, just not for what they were supposed to.
Every eye turned to me as I walked over and Valerie gave me a pleading look, her face red and so were her eyes. Jace wasn't present but alpha Edward and luna Carissa, Valerie's father and step-mother stood beside her with their heads hung, not meeting my eyes. My mom was sobbing incoherently in my father's arms while my brothers stood quietly, both looking grim but Asher making no effort to hide that as he glared at Valerie. The elders were there, the Council ministers as witnesses, in short, everyone who was important.
"Shall we begin?" Minister Jackson asked, not meeting my gaze. Nobody did. As if averting their gaze would make this any less humiliating, any less real.
"Just make it quick, minister," Logan hissed.
"Please come forward...Ms. Valerie Briars," Minister Jackson muttered, shooting her a dirty look. Valerie dragged herself to the front, her eyes begging for mercy as I blankly stared at her. I tried to take one last look at her beautiful face because, after today, we will never see each other again.
"Do you accept the claims that alpha Noah Gray made against you?" he demanded. "That he caught you sleeping with your step-brother," Valerie slowly nodded.
"I need you to say it, ma'am," he added tartly.
"Do you have anything else to say? Anything in your defense?" Valerie gazed up at me, tears brimming down her eyes.
"It was mistake..." she whispered. "Please, Noah...please don't do this. I will do anything you ask for...I will do anything to redeem...please just...please forgive me, Noah...you love me. And I love you..."
"Are you kidding me?" Asher snapped, startling everyone.
"Ash," Logan prompted, shaking his head.
"I can't...I can't stand her," he hissed. "I wish she were dead...I can't witness this," His face was red as he stomped away.
"Do you have anything to say, alpha?" Minister Jackson inquired, turning to me. I glanced at Valerie and she stared pleadingly at me.
"Please, Noah...please, don't do this," she begged. "It will destroy us,"
There is no us.
"No," I answered quietly and Noel let out another agonizing whine, the pain he was feeling seeping into my being and making it harder for me to breathe with each passing second. I needed to get this done before I lost it.
"Very well," Jackson nodded. "Then we will proceed with the rejection and Ms. Briars, you will readily accept it given you are guilty and refusing to do so will be counted as a punishable offense under the laws framed by the Council. Alpha, please repeat after me...I,"
"Alpha Noah Gray, son of alpha Joseph Gray, reject you, Valerie Briars, as my mate from this day forth under the witness of the respected Council and our families," My heart was pounding in my ears, lungs fighting for air as I turned my eyes to her. I still wanted to believe this was a very bad dream and when I woke up everything would be just as it was a day ago. But as Noel groaned, whining incoherently with pain that I was yet to feel, I knew it wasn't.
This was as real as I was.
"I..." I croaked. "Alpha Noah Gray, son of alpha Joseph Gray, reject you...Va...Valerie Briars as my mate from this day forth under the witness of the respected Council and our families," I whispered, each word like a taste of poison that burned my insides.
"Ms. Briars, please repeat...I, Valerie Briars, daughter of alpha Edward Briars, accept your rejection, allowing the sacred bond that binds us together as mates to no longer exist under the witness of the respected Council and our families," Valerie's face was red, tears streaming down her eyes as she somehow managed to spit the words out. And it was weird, how still, after everything, I hated seeing the tears in her eyes.
"Very well," Jackson nodded. "Alpha, please remove your mark," Noel whined in pain as I moved closer to her. Closing my eyes, I let him get through to remove that one last thread which was holding us together.
"I really did love you..." Noel whispered as he gazed down at her.
"Noel...please..." Valerie whispered, closing her eyes as he bared his canines and sunk his teeth into her neck. Pain jolted through my entire being, a slow, terrifying pain as he removed his mark and stood back. Valerie's face was red, as she doubled over, crying out in agony because rejection was painful for both mates, regardless of their feelings towards each other.
"Ms. Briars...your turn. Please remove your mark," Jackson mumbled. Valerie's entire body shook as she closed her eyes and let Bri, her wolf, come through. She gazed up at us with her jade eyes, and I could feel the pain crawling into my heart as Noel held her gaze.
"I am so sorry..." she whispered before moving closer and sinking her teeth into my neck. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't hold it any longer. The pain was slowly starting to take control over my entire being and I knew I needed to escape before I lost it.
"The rejection ceremony is completed. Alpha Noah Gray and Valerie Briars are no longer fated mates," Jackson declared. "Under the witness of the Council," I didn't waste another moment as I wordlessly turned on my heels and headed to my room. I could hear the chaos unfolding behind me and Logan following after me discreetly. But right now, there was no one, not one being on this planet who could help me. Or save me from the destruction that awaited.
"Noah..." Logan said as I walked into my room, his eyes dark with concern.
"I need to be alone. Please," I said and, without meeting his eyes, I slowly closed the door to my room.
And to Noah Gray, who I have known for the last twenty-three years.
He was now dead.