Once Upon a Time in Siam

contract marriage
love after marriage
kickass heroine
childhood crush
kingdom building

Anurak, shy and introverted, and Arisara, feisty and destined to be Luna, are opposite personalities, yet complementary best friends growing up in ancient Thailand's most powerful pack. Everything changes when Anurak's parents are executed by Arisara's father, the Alpha, forcing him to flee into a deadly jungle where he is assumed to have died.

However, four years later, a note from Anurak himself arrives to the Alpha announcing he's alive and is returning with an ultimatum. The news sends shockwaves through the kingdom and causes the Alpha to die of heart failure. When Anurak arrives, he is faced with new leadership: his childhood friend and newly appointed Luna, Arisara, and her abusive husband whom she is contractually married to. Upon his arrival, Luna Arisara feels her mate bond pull to Anurak, now a part of an enemy pack, and has to decide between her fated mate or her kingdom.

Once Upon a Time in Siam is created by Myles Arayachai, an eGlobal Creative Published signed author.

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Chapter 1: A Deadly Encounter
Anurak I quivered outside the metal gates of Thonburi's packhouse, watching my beloved mother and father, shackled to a wrought-iron chain. I know I should be far away from here, being the son of 'traitors,' however, I need to see my parents for the last time. My parents and I have been living in the prison packhouse for the last six months, leaving us ragged, malnourished, and hopeless. If it wasn't for Arisara, Thonburi's next Luna, I would be facing the same fate as them in four years. Mahara feared he would awaken a curse from the Moon Goddess if he executed a child, so he'd rather me rot in a cell until I was of age. I'm not sure why she would risk herself for me, but Mahara's daughter Arisara opened my cell door and led me to a drainage pipe, just large enough to fit my bony body to freedom. My head was dazed, seeing sunlight for the first time in half a year. The ringing of cicadas pierced my ears. I couldn't tell if the droplets from my face were sweat or tears. Luckily, outside the sewer pipe, there was sprawling rain tree. Its shade shielded me from the infamous humidity that suffocated Siam. Closing one eye in an effort to magnify my vision, and gently inching forward, I saw my parents more vividly. My mother's eyes, once crystalline like quartz, were dark and downcast. My father, stood erect, trying not to show any weakness, but his face was full of suffering. It was the last execution to be performed by ancient ritual: death by a sandalwood cudgel. Siam's most honorable warriors, my father Parunchai and mother Weepa, betrayed by the man who held my body in his coarse hands on the day of my birth. Shook-a-shack, shook-a-shack, shook-a-shack. The chain made a deafening sound, much like that of a train, as it scraped against the concrete. Alpha Mahara, a hypocritical pious man, allowed my parents to repent in front of the Moon Goddess. My mother and father 'wai,' the Siamese salutation to show respect, to Her marble statue in Thonburi's city center. My mother pressed her fingertips to the crown of her forehead, hands cupped in the shape of a lotus, pleading with the Moon Goddess to protect her only child. Seeing my mother's desperation caused tears to fall from my eyes and my blood to boil. My heart told me to run to my parents and save them, but my mind knew I couldn't do anything. At fourteen years old and underdeveloped, I couldn't shift, and without shifting, there was no way I would be quick enough to free them. The crescent-shaped jade dagger my father gifted me was my only defense against the Thonburi pack who surely was on their way to kill me once they found out I'd escaped. My mother lay a corsage of ratchapruek in front of the Moon Goddess. The sight of the golden flower caused me to hurl tears, as my mother would wear the petal behind her ear as she nursed me. The blossom that I associated most with my mother's life, was now what I'd remember most from her death. I clenched my fist and punched the coarse trunk of the tree. Blood began to drip from my knuckles as a sign of my weakness. I was not strong enough to save my parents, but I was strong enough to watch them die. If only I could harness my emotional grit into something more useful. Kun Chavoret, a Gamma, and leader of Thonburi's infamous 'death pack,' would be in charge of today's execution. He tethered my parents to a single splintered cross, indifferently. Back-to-back, my parents wiggled enough room to intertwine their cracked fingertips under the plywood parallel to the pavement. Next, he placed a white linen over my parents. It was believed if the executioner looked into the eyes of his victims, he would be haunted by them for the rest of his life, so the sheet acted as a guilt-free buffer. An often-belittled Omega of Thonburi, Kun Ginggaew, scurried over to the Gamma, delivering the cudgel carved from imperial sandalwood. He clutched the cudgel, reserved for executions of esteemed rank, and bowed his head to the Moon Goddess in a plea for forgiveness. He then looked to his Alpha who sat upon a marble throne with golden varnish, who gave the order to kill. Raising the sacred wooden bludgeon, he mercilessly blasted my parents. My mother wailed at a shrieking decibel, resemblant of the cursed mythical ghost Krasue, and with her scream too unbearable to endure, I sprinted as far away from Thonubri as my swift legs would take me. Rubbing the tears from my eyes as I ran only created more problems. The muddy residue on my hands from crawling through the sewers only irritated my vision more. The midsummer's sunset was the strongest, and blinded me further. I couldn't stop moving, but I also couldn't see where I was headed. I tried to control my breathing. The more I hyperventilated, the more I slowed down. Inhaled four seconds. Exhaled five. I had to steady my breaths. I had to calm down. Silently reciting a prayer my mother taught me, I thought of the Moon Goddess. My mother entrusted Her with my safety, so She was the only one left to listen to my cries. At the end of the prayer, I threw all my remaining questions. “Why didn't you give me the power to shift? Why did you create me different from everyone else? What makes me special?" AHHHHHHHH! Like a strike of lightning, my heart radiated a pain so intense I collapsed to the ground, clutching my chest. Wriggling around the dewy grass on the outskirts of a jungle, I sensed the Moon Goddess was listening. I'd never felt this pain before, but I couldn't stop to recover. I had to endure it. I carried on into the untamed jungle that lay ahead, taking a large gulp as I entered the heart of evil. Paranoid of leaving tracks, I craned my head over my shoulder, checking to see if Thonburi wolves were behind me. AHCK! Tripping over a stalk of protruding bamboo, I tumbled into a grove of purplish bat flowers, which my mother always warned me about. “Never stare into their eyes, or you will suffer a spellbinding curse." Shaking their memory from my sight, I heard a ruthless masculine voice in the distance. “Get back here you sl*t!" I smelled the faintest scent, that of which I couldn't directly identify with any smell I had inhaled before. The only connection I could draw was to the storied udumbara, which my mother taught me only bloomed every 3,000 years! My mother illustrated, “If we are ever lucky enough to encounter the plant that smells like sandalwood, know you have been graced by the Moon Goddess." The first time I smelled sandalwood was this morning at the execution, and coincidentally a few hours later I was inhaling the aroma again. Craning my neck above the 'bat flowers,' I mistakably made eye contact with a Thonburi wolf. The agitated wolf, with a fur coat of platinum blond pelt darted at me with extreme speed. Still disoriented from my prior fall, I lost my balance as I tried to run. As I arose from the thicket, my father's jade dagger slid out of my mauve satchel. I sheathed the knife in my dominant left hand, wielding it around erratically in hopes that I hit something. I made it fifteen seconds until the canine tackled me. Before closing my eyes in fear, I caught a glimpse of the wolf's irises: citron yellow, like the pistil of a lotus. With my father's dagger in my hand, I sliced at her left cheek, not to kill, but to defend myself. With my eyelids knotted shut, I heard a great wince, a pitch even higher than my mother's scream from today's execution. Momentarily the wolf froze, before collapsing in my lap. I had struck the she-wolf's left cheek. The incision, beginning at the tip of her nose, and concluding near the peak of her cheekbone, didn't bleed. It was as if the dagger struck so deep, instead of cutting her skin, it struck her heart. I hesitantly crawled over to assess the damage, before the mystifying wolf perked up again, saliva dripping from her jaw. She locked onto me, as if I had a bullseye in the bridge of my nose. The wolf trembled, otherwise remaining frozen in place. Deathly howls echoed into the jungle, presumably from Thonburi's search team. They were coming for me. Upon hearing these growls, the she-wolf darted towards the jungle's perimeter as if she was in as much danger as I was.

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