Chapter 1 - Brianna
I punched the punching bag in front of me as though it would solve all my problems but even as I was hitting it I knew it was impossible. Neither the three destroyed punching bags nor the broken bones I just gave my future beta were going to change my parent’s minds. It didn’t matter that I was just as strong as any other alpha, my parents couldn’t seem to look past the fact that I was female.
I am sure that if I had any younger brothers they would have been handed the position as soon as they came of age. So why did they insist I needed my mate in order to take over? I wasn’t ever sure I wanted a mate, I had trained too hard and put in too many hours to be demoted to the luna position. I punched the bag in front of me so hard that the chains holding it in place groaned.
The door to the gym creaked open behind me, I spun around and glared at the door. My childhood friend and future beta’s younger brother Nolan strolled through the door. He had a relaxed way about him that I had always loved when we were younger but now I just found it infuriating. He surveyed the room with a relaxed half grin on his face as he walked towards me.
“I heard you sent my brother to the hospital again. What did he do this time?” Nolan asked.
“It’s not really his fault. It is because of this stupid party my parents are throwing,” I replied.
Kaiden was just as frustrated as I was about my parents refusing to pass the title to me. Most alphas and betas took over in their late teens or early twenties but we were both in our mid twenties now. People in the pack were starting to gossip about me, I am sure they have been doing it for years but now they weren’t even trying to be subtle about it. They were saying that the reason I couldn’t find my mate was because the moon goddess didn’t think I was worthy of one.
As far as I was concerned they could all go to hell but my parents took these rumours seriously. They were throwing this party to put an end to these rumours once and for all. Either I would meet my mate in two days or they would set me up with someone. They didn’t think I knew about their plans. They told me that they wanted me to meet my mate at the party but I had to learn about the rest of their plans by overhearing them talking to their beta.
Last night I came home late from my friend's house and I heard them. They were in talks with some of the single alphas in the surrounding packs. They were weighing up the benefits of each alpha and trying to work out which one should be my chosen mate. They were talking about territory sizes and numbers of pack members as though they weren’t talking about the rest of my life.
Ever since I heard their conversation I have been trying to find a way out whatever arrangement they end up making for me while being so furious that I couldn’t think straight. After a sleepless night and a very awkward breakfast the next day I spoke to Kaiden about what I had heard. I don’t know what I had expected from him but I hadn’t expected him to agree with my parent’s plan.
“Isn’t this just like the other parties that they have thrown for you?” Nolan asked.
“No, my parents are sick of waiting for me to meet my mate. If I don’t meet him then they will give me to another alpha as his trophy mate.” It made me feel sick just thinking about that. I turned around and punched the punching bag, hard.
“They can’t do that,” Nolan replied.
“Legally they can. I have checked the laws, any unmated female over the age of twenty one can be claimed by an unmated male of an equal or higher rank even against that woman’s wishes.” I said.
“There must be some way out of this,” Nolan replied.
“I have checked. The answer is no, even though this law isn’t enacted very often it is still actively enforced by the council.” I replied.
Like Nolan, I didn’t believe such a rule could still exist so I had done some reading last night. There were a few cases of this happening in the last ten years and each time the council approved of the claiming. In one of the cases they even helped to enforce it. If one of the alphas my parents were talking to claimed me then I was screwed.
“There is one thing you can do,” Nolan said.
“What would that be?” My tone was a little sharper than it probably should have been.
“You can be my mate,” Nolan smiled at me and I suddenly wanted to punch him in the face.
“We have already had that conversation,” I growled.
At this point I have lost count of the number of times he had asked me to be his mate. He started asking me once I turned twenty one and nothing I say seems to have any impact on him. If he was asking me because he loved me then I could excuse his persistence but despite his many declarations of love I knew there was more to it than that. Nolan wanted the power that being mated to me would give him.
“I love you and I don’t think there is anything that will stop me loving you,” he took a step towards me.
“You have a mate out there somewhere. Just because I have to give up on my mate doesn’t mean you have to.” I replied, my voice shaking slightly. Nolan was still closing the distance between us, the look in his eyes was that of a predator hunting it’s prey.
“Had,” he said.
“What do you mean by that?” I took a few steps back.
“I don’t have a mate anymore, I rejected her.” He stepped towards me again.
I didn’t need to know why he rejected her. Asking him wouldn’t do me any good, in fact it was a terrible idea. It would make him think that I wanted to be with him, give him hope for a future that could never be.
“Wh-why would you reject your mate?” The more relevant question is why did I sound so nervous? Why did I even care what his answer to my question was? I should just walk away rather than waiting for his answer.
“She knew I was in love with you. She told me if I wanted to be with her I couldn’t be your friend anymore, I chose you.”
He reached out and cupped my cheek with his hand. His eyes were locked on mine as he reached out with his other hand and grabbed my waist. He pulled me closer to him and his eyes glanced briefly to my lips.
He was going to kiss me. I couldn’t believe this, he had never gone this far before. He told me he loved me more times than I could count but he had never tried to kiss me. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to break his heart but we couldn’t be together because in two days time I would either have my fated mate or have a chosen mate thrust on me.
“We shouldn’t do this,” I said.
My wolf whimpered. It had been a long time since I had been with anyone and I guess even my wolf had given up hope of me ever meeting my mate. She was lonely, wolves don’t cope very well without their mate and she was struggling.
“If we mark each other then your parents can’t force you to be with one of those alphas.” His lips were so close to mine that I could smell the toothpaste on his breath and don’t get me started on how delicious his aftershave smelt.
“What if I met my mate?” I asked.
He leaned forward and pressed his lips against my neck. My wolf purred, urging me to move forward. I wrapped my arms around his waist and let out a soft moan. I wanted more but of course that was exactly when he removed his lips from my neck.
“Then you would have to make a decision on what to do with him.” Nolan replied before placing his lips on my marking spot. He kissed me and licked me, sending pleasurable chills down my spine.
“I’m not sure I can give up on a mate that I don’t even know yet,” I said, trying to hide how much he was affecting me. It didn’t matter how much I wanted him, I couldn’t do this. It would ruin our friendship forever. If I met my mate at the party it would hurt both of them and cause so much drama.
‘Liar, you don’t even want our mate,’ Amber, my wolf replied.
“I’m not asking you to make any decision now but let me give you something to think about.”
Nolan pressed his lips against mine. His tongue brushed my lips softly before entering my mouth to find mine. He pulled me closer so I could feel his arousal pressing against me. I gripped onto his shirt tighter, I wanted to throw him onto the floor and make him scream my name. He held me tighter, one hand was holding the back of my head while the other was at the base of my spine pulling me closer.
My hand slid down his back slowly but when my hand reached the base of his spine he pulled away from me.
“If you want any more then you need to agree to be mine forever.” He whispered in my ear before letting go of me and walking away slowly, glancing over his shoulder once before leaving me alone.