Chapter 1. Stunned
Riannon stood, shocked, not quite believing her eyes.
Her husband of six years had his arm wrapped around a petite girl in the middle of their pack house. The cute ginger-head peeked at her discreetly, and Ria could swear she saw a smirk for a quick half second.
“Ri, dear,” Brayden, her legal husband, chosen mate, and the Alpha of their pack, addressed her in a way he always did when they were alone, “I need to confess, I have found my true mate. Her name is Roxanne.”
The silence in the room was deadly from the moment the two of them walked in, holding hands. Everyone stopped what they were doing, and all eyes were on the three of them, the Alpha, the Luna, and the Alpha’s mate.
Ria couldn’t bring herself to say anything, so Brayden took the lead.
“Listen, I know we are chosen mates, and you will always be my Luna, I can assure you of that, but ever since my wolf saw Roxy, he has been going nuts. It will be bad for the pack if I reject her now. He won’t be able to deal with it, and it will weaken us.”
There it was—the excuse!
The two of them were school sweethearts, the perfect couple. Rhiannon was a daughter and heiress of a powerful Alpha from a very strong pack. Brayden was her father’s best friend’s son and the future Alpha of his own pack. Ever since they had started dating when she was just fifteen, and he was sixteen, everyone couldn’t stop buzzing that they were true mates. They were always acknowledged as the IT couple, and everyone envied their love. Besides, as a daughter of an alpha, Ria was educated to become Luna one day. And not just any Luna. The perfect one. Being the responsible woman that she was, she spent all her free time studying what she would have to do for the rest of her life. She clearly mastered every single task to perfection so that when she turned eighteen and was ready to marry Bray, she would be prepared.
When Bray’s eighteenth birthday arrived, she had trembled to meet him, longing to hear the one and only most significant word of both of their lives— mate.
He drove to her pack early that day, and she ran down the stairs to greet him, but as she ran, both their smiles faded. She couldn’t feel anything, but he already knew.
“We are not mates, are we?” she asked, tears trickling down her chin.
“Not the fated ones,” Brayden confirmed as he sighed heavily and locked her in his arms, his lips in her hair. They stood like that for quite some time, waiting for the initial disappointment to wash away. When they were ready, Bray took her face into his hands and promised, “It doesn’t matter, Ri! I choose you! I will always choose you! No matter what, no one can break the love between us. You will be my mate, my chosen mate! My one and only!”
It helped that their families had practically planned the whole wedding at that point. Her father no longer had a son since Riannon’s older brother had passed away at a young age, trying to save their little twin sisters from rogues. All of them had been killed as a result, and Ria was the only one left. There was also the pressing matter of who would inherit the pack. Bray had seemed the obvious choice. The two of them loved each other, and none of their family members were against the merger of the two strong packs.
A contract was drawn, but Brayden suggested waiting until Riannon was nineteen. He affirmed that he had made his choice but wanted her to try and find her mate before she made hers. They spent time visiting other packs for the whole year before her next birthday and got married one month later since no mates were found. Their feelings had only gotten stronger.
They became the most influential power couple of the werewolf world and merged both their packs into one. Year after year, they worked diligently to make it stronger. At twenty-five, Ria was now a renowned Luna, admired by everyone.
Riannon traced her gaze around the room and saw the shocked faces of her packmates. Curiously, she couldn’t help but notice that not everyone seemed startled by these recent events. Her husband’s Beta was watching quietly from the distance, his hands crossed at his chest, absolutely no surprise in his eyes.
However, the most stunned among them all was still Riannon herself, although not for the reasons they all assumed.
Her fingers were trembling, and her lips twitched slightly as she looked at her husband and his true mate with wide eyes.
“No,” she muttered, “It cannot be!”
Why would the Moon Goddess return her to the exact moment in time when her life was turned upside down? The moment leading to her demise.
Merely seconds prior, Ria was crawling on the ground in the woods, fighting for her life as two creatures followed her closely. The wolf found her first, digging his sharp canines into her flesh and making her wince in pain.
She was a strong wolf herself, but unfortunately, someone drugged her with aconite, making her weak and unable to shift, leaving her practically paralysed.
The wolf growled as he viciously ripped a piece of her thigh off, and for the first time ever, Riannon screamed loudly.
“You can shout all you want,” the girl who stepped forward taunted. “No one is going to hear you here and now.”
Ria recognised that voice at once. Her tormentor was none other than her husband’s true mate, Roxanne.
“You?!” Ria panted, struggling to sit up. “Why are you doing this? You’ve already taken everything from me! My husband, my position as Luna, my pack—”
The wolf growled at her, and she tried to recognize him, but it was too dark, and she was too weak. The only feature she noticed was that the werewolf was brown, yet there were so many brown wolves in the world that this information did not help.
“I have my reasons,” Roxy retorted, rubbing her round belly, “and I don’t have to explain them to you. Not anymore. Your time has passed. You are done, Riannon.”
“They will discover the truth”, the ex-Luna warned. “You will not get away with it!”
Resounding laughter was her response as Roxy kneeled next to her and grabbed a fistful of her hair. “Dear Riannon, don’t you get it? I already have!”
Forcefully, she threw Ria towards the ground and, turning, ordered the wolf, “Finish her off. Make sure nothing is left.”
Having lost function of her arms and legs, Riannon watched Roxy walk leisurely away, rubbing her round belly, as if she had not just barked an order to murder her.
A lone tear trickled down her cheek as the wolf had a moment of hesitation.
She did not deserve it!
It was not fair!
If she had another chance, she would do everything differently.
“I am waiting!” Roxanne’s sweet voice broke her train of thought as the wolf jumped over her, ending her life in seconds.
Riannon gasped! She suddenly found herself in the reception room of her house. Something felt off because all the old furniture she loved so much was in place. That furniture was thrown away by her nemesis. She couldn’t understand what was going on until Bran walked in with Roxy in his arms. Realisation hit her when she recognized this day as the one exactly one year before.
“The Moon Goddess has some sick sense of humour!” Ria thought to herself. “Out of all of the moments of my life, she brought me back into this most miserable and unpleasant one. What is up with that?!”
Luckily, she was always reserved and knew how to hide her feelings pretty well. She lifted her chin and met her husband’s gaze.
“I understand that this is very sudden,” Bray explained, trying to sound considerate. She barely managed to hold back a scoff. Sudden? He had no idea!
“I know our agreement, but my wolf is going nuts. You are not only my Luna but also my best friend, who has always understood me, and I know that you always want what’s best for the pack. Roxanne is an omega and an orphan. In her pack— Ri, it was horrible how she was treated there! They abused her and treated her like a slave. I couldn’t leave her there. It would be horrible, and my wolf would never forgive me.”
He finally let go of Roxanne. Leaving the redhead alone, he walked toward his wife, taking her hands in his.
“Let her stay in the pack for the sake of it. My wolf is stronger next to her; the rejection would kill him. We can give Roxy a peaceful life here. She will—”
“No,” the answer sounded calm yet loud enough for everyone to hear.
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Hello, this is my first published book on Dreame and I am very excited to start this journey. I promise you a bumpy ride with loads of twists and turns. Don't be shy and leave me a comment. I also have a group called Marissa Gilbert's Reading Circle, where readers discuss chapters, characters and share visuals.
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