I was trying to switch on the light when I suddenly froze. I was not alone in the room and a low, wolfish growl confirmed it. “Mate,” he murmured.
Despite my sorrow, I allowed Alina to dress me as she pleased. I gazed at myself in the mirror, unable to believe my eyes. I looked like a beautiful princess. The emerald gown Alina gave me seductively hugged my curves and accentuated my beauty. I knew I was beautiful but I never imagined I was that beautiful.
“…and for one final touch,” she announced. “A perfume.”
“I’ve got one,” I exclaimed and fished out the perfume I created recently from my bag. This perfume was inspired by a scent that always hovered in my mind. Malik, my boss at the perfume shop, must have sensed how much the perfume meant to me that he gave it to me as my birthday gift.
“It smells really nice,” Alina said as she sprayed it all over me and gave it back. “Come on, we’re going to have so much fun,” she said and dragged me into the street.
Alina brimmed with confidence as we walked on the street. While she was used to pretty and slightly revealing clothes, I was not; and it made me quite nervous. My nervousness was heightened by the unusually large number of people roaming the streets.
“What’s going on?” I asked Alina. “Why are there so many people on the streets?”
“It’s Eric’s engagement ceremony,” she replied as though I was supposed to know who that was.
“Eric?” I asked.
“Eric is the first prince of the Mador Kingdom,” Alina explained. “And he’s engaging Lily, the daughter of the noblest Wolf family tonight.”
“Oh!” I replied.
It made perfect sense that the streets would be filled with people that came for the engagement celebration. In Mador Kingdom, all packs were ruled by Lycan King, who had two sons, the first prince and the second prince. Only King and two princes were Lycans while the rest of us were Wolves.
Our Pack, The Blackhide Pack, lived near the Capital, The Ironclaw Pack, and wolves from the Capital often came into our territory. But I’d never seen this many people on the streets before.
Alina held my hands and expertly guided me through the crowd. My heightened anxiety followed me as Alina led me to an open-air bar that was filled with so many people that it was easy to get lost in the crowd. Alina led me to the bar and ordered two drinks for us.
It was my first time tasting alcohol and I was hesitant but she encouraged me. She kept telling me to relax though I found it very difficult to do so. Alina disappeared for a couple of minutes and I almost panicked, especially when different guys started hitting on me. I almost took off from the bar when Alina appeared and chased the guys off.
“What is this?” I asked as Alina shoved a keycard in my hands.
“We’re definitely getting drunk tonight,” she giggled. “And mom would nag us to death if we go home drunk. We’ll crash in this hotel near us and go home in the morning.”
She must have seen the doubtful expression on my face because she reassured me that everything would be all right. I was trying to argue with Alina when a large screen overlooking the bar came to life and loud applause rented the air.
“It’s Eric and Lily,” Alina shouted as the screen displayed a very handsome man and an exquisite woman dressed in flashy, expensive, ceremonial clothes. The applause soon died down and I overheard two girls talking. They were whispering to each other and I could only hear them because I was near them.
“Eric is very handsome,” the first girl said. She was dressed in a very short, tight, pink gown. She was a thin girl with an unusually long neck and her eyes fluttered excessively.
“Yes he is,” the second girl replied. She was an exact opposite of the first girl, with a short, stocky neck and fat, round body, “The girl is also beautiful, I hear she’s the most beautiful woman in the Capital.”
“I don’t doubt it,” the long-necked girl replied. “She was born eighteen years ago, on the night of the harvest moon.”
My heart sank. Lily and I were born at the exact same moment. The harvest moon only came once a year and it was said that any female wolf born under the harvest moon grew up to be very powerful and incredibly beautiful.
The universe might have blessed me with beauty but it definitely forgot to give me any powers. Lily and I might have been born at the exact moment but her fate was considerably better than mine.
I looked away from the screen and glanced around the crowd. Everyone had an ecstatic smile planted on their face; everyone except him.
He stared at the screen with a cold, icy gaze as though he was wishing the engagement was not happening. His gaze was unwavering and his cold aura seeped from his body like smoke from a filthy chimney. Despite his rigid posture, he had a surprising placid expression on his face as though the events on the screen were of no concern to him; yet he was watching it intently.
The man suddenly downed drink in his hands in one go, tore his gaze from the screen and stared directly at me as though he knew I’d been watching him. His blue, icy eyes startled me and I hastily turned towards the screen. The couple on the screen kissed and the crowd erupted in elation. I glanced at the man, and the cold aura that hung around him seemed to grow colder as the couple kept kissing each other on the screen.
“…very sorrowful,” the long-necked girl’s sad voice caught my attention. “I really pity the second prince.”
“Marco?” the fat girl asked. “Why?”
“Didn’t you know?” her whispers carried a tinge of lush excitement as though she was about to reveal a dark secret and I immediately paid attention.
“Know what?” the fat girl asked, enthusiasm written all over her face.
“Lily is the second prince’s fated mate,” the girl replied. “They dated and were actually in love.”
“Then why is she engaging Eric, the first prince?” the fat girl asked, her shocked face reflecting mine.
“The second prince cannot become the Lycan king even though he’s the most powerful Wolf in Mador,” the long-necked girl explained. “He’s a child of a surrogate and has a curse. So Lily had to marry Eric so she can be the Lycan queen.”
“I wonder how the second prince is feeling right now,” the fat girl sighed. “He…”
I thought I had the worst fate in the world, but I really pitied the second prince. I knew what it meant to be rejected and looked down upon, to be hated and deprived of entitled rights. I also knew it was a painful thing to be away from one’s fated mate.
I tore my gaze from the happy couple and looked at the man I saw earlier, but he’d disappeared. I searched the crowd with my eyes until Alina bumped into me with a cup filled with red liquid.
“Who are you looking for?” she asked.
“No one,” I hastily replied, looking at the cup in her hand. “What’s that?”
“It’s for you,” she chuckled. “To help you relax and have fun so you can pay back your wicked boyfriend for cheating on you.”
“I’m not sure,” I stammered. “I…”
“Don’t be a party pooper,” she pouted. “Drink up.”
I didn’t want to drink but she was right. I needed to loosen up and have some fun, plus, it seemed she really wanted me to drink it and I didn’t want to disappoint someone who was looking out for me.
“Good,” she clapped excitedly as I downed the drink. “I’ll go get more,” she said and disappeared.
Soon after she left, I got dizzy as though the whole world was a carousel and I was having a wild ride. My body felt hot and cold at the same time and I thought I’d pass out.
I instantly fished out the key card Alina gave me earlier and walked towards the hotel that overlooked the bar. It was the only one around and must be where Alina booked a room for us. I didn’t want to pass out in the midst of strangers and I struggled to get to the hotel and find my room.
My eyes were almost shutting off as I wandered into the hotel and picked my way to the hallway to find my room. I saw a door that had 410 on it and I immediately pushed it open. I was trying to switch on the light when I suddenly froze. I was not alone in the room and a low, wolfish growl confirmed it.