I, along with everyone else in the pack, had a crush on the future Alpha since we were kids. But not everyone was in love with him like I was.
Not that we really ever talked besides one time he accidentally bumped into me, or that he noticed me even when I couldn't stop staring at him. My thoughts were consumed by him. Maybe that was obsessive, but nothing I ever tried stopped me from fantasizing about him.
I might have been pretty, but no one ever told me that. I enjoyed school and had friends, but I didn’t stand out. Not like his gorgeous, naturally blonde, leggy girlfriend who he had most of high school. She knew how to command everyone's attention.
That was, until my eighteenth birthday during the summer after I graduated.
I was walking past the training grounds to take a walk before my parents woke up in anticipation of our tradition of making more pancakes that we could consume and watching movies all morning to recover.
I smelled something delicious; more than that, it was soothing yet beckoning. It reminded me of the forest after it rained, but the morning sky was clear, and it had been for days.
The future Alpha, Nolan, was blocking my path. I swallowed; his dark brown hair was damp with sweat, and his matching brown eyes flickered to midnight black.
“Mine,” he growled.
A million butterflies erupted through me, and my whole body buzzed as shock rooted me to the spot.
I couldn’t believe it; everything I’d ever dreamed that I never dared to even put words to, outside of my ridiculous fantasies, was coming true.
That day he made me his in every way possible. From that moment, my world revolved around him more than it already did.
That was over a year ago now, and I still couldn’t believe he was mine, only mine. Things weren’t perfect. We were both busy learning how to take over the new roles we would assume a few months after he turned twenty-one. When he officially becomes Alpha, I will be right by his side as his Luna.
It still didn't feel real. I still looked at him as I did across the cafeteria, with longing and want. The only difference was now he returned those stares with the same intensity.
“Switch the forks. You know this, Willa.” The current Luna Natalie, Nolan's mom, scolded me.
My Luna lessons consisted mostly of party planning, memorizing the names and faces of ranked members of other packs, how to be the picture of stoic yet warm, and thinking about what Nolan was doing.
To be honest, I was having trouble with all of those besides the last one. All of the beiges looked exactly the same; I didn’t even know there was more than one color peach.
“Sorry, Luna,” I mumbled, catching her glare. No mumbling.
“Luna, Willa.” Jack, Nolan's future Gamma, came into the room, greeting us. “Camilla is here and requests an audience.”
“Well, isn’t that fantastic.” Luna Natalie’s smile was genuine, but my stomach turned to lead. Camilla, as in Nolan's high school girlfriend? There was no way; she had been at college.
“You can finish the setup, can’t you?” She turned to me, and I nodded.
“Of course, Luna.” I smiled at her despite my curiosity and probably misplaced dread.
“I’ll help,” Jack added, taking the tray of silverware from Luna Natalie.
“Thanks,” I muttered when she was out of the room.
“This is t.orture,” he joked.
"I can't disagree with you there."
“I would rather do back-to-back training than do a lesson with the Luna.”
Even though I didn’t train regularly, I sometimes joined in. But after I was mated to Nolan thus becoming the future Luna, I was required to stop it completely.
“Willa, there’s someone I would like you to meet.” The Luna stood in the doorway.
A moment later, Camilla, the same Camilla, strolled in.
She looked at the place settings before even looking at me.
“Jack.” She smiled at him; her lips pulled back over blindingly white teeth. Her naturally blonde hair was perfectly curled, and she stood tall and confident in a tight red dress that seemed more suited for a party and black stilettos that showed off her long golden legs.
“Nice to see you; it's been too long,” Jack smiled back, looking between us both. “How is college?”
“Fine.” She waved a manicured hand.“But Carden Valley is so dull; there’s hardly anything to do there.” Carden Valley tugged at my memory, but I didn’t know why.
“Camilla, I’m not sure if you’ve been formally introduced to Willa yet, Nolan's mate.” Jack made the introduction I was waiting for from Luna Natalie. Camilla's smile faltered for a split second, and the bright smile she had for Jack was replaced with a tight-lipped one as she looked me over.
I pulled some of my wavy black hair behind my ear, fighting to keep my gaze level and not look down at the plain white cotton dress I wore. I suddenly felt wildly underdressed in my own home.
“We haven’t.” Camilla extended her hand, not making a move to step forward.
I closed the space between us and shook hers. “It’s a pleasure.” I mustered my best fake Luna smile.“Nolan and I are honored to have you visit. I hope you're staying for his birthday?” I kept my voice level even though I wanted to claw her perfectly lined eyes out for some reason.
His 21st birthday party was a few days away, and I helped with every aspect of that party. It was something I was actually proud of, and I wanted her to see that I was capable, even if I didn't look as good in a mini-skirt. But what did I even want to show off? My party planning skills? Even thinking that felt dull.
"Of course," She replied. My stomach twisted in knots, but wasn't that the answer I was just hoping for?
“I can’t wait to get to know you better." I held my ground and kept smiling.
“Likewise.” Her smile was devoid of emotion, “Oh, Willa is it?”
“I think your soup and dessert spoons are mixed up.” I tore my gaze from her to the place setting.
“So they are,” Luna Natalie tutted, “Thank you for noticing that, Camilla.”
She ushered her out of the room; their heads were bent together, laughing and whispering.
I groaned and fell back into a chair.
“Very, un luna like of you,” Jack laughed. “But your performance was great.”
I glared at him. "Was it that obvious?"
"Well." He shrugged and rubbed the back of his neck, a telltale sign he was trying not to hurt someone's feelings.
Jack and the future Beta, Isaac, became my friends over the past year, but I grew a soft spot for Jack almost immediately. I was surprised at first at how accepting they were of me. I definitely wasn’t like the girls they usually hung out with. But this past year, we pretty much did everything together as the future ranked members, and all lived in the packhouse.
I moved in the night after Nolan mated and marked me; the thought of that night still sent s.hivers of p.leasure down my spine. I was in complete shock and awe that the man that I dreamed of for most of my life was claiming me, exploring my body for the first time ever, with his t.ongue, and his hands, and then his -
“Willa?” Jack looked at me, pulling me from my thoughts.
“I asked if there was anything else after we switch the spoons,” I shook my head and bit my lip, refraining myself from asking him more about Camilla.
My stomach dropped when I thought about her. The pain felt physical, like someone sucked all the air out of me and filled my lungs with lead. This was an insane reaction to my jealousy that I knew was misplaced. What they had ended even before I found out I was his mate, I didn't take him from her. Even if I did, I was his mate; she was just a girlfriend, an ex-girlfriend.
“Are you okay?” He studied me, concern plastered on his face.
“Yeah, of course.” I breathed through the sharp pain.
“Don’t worry about Camilla; she’s like that with new people.” He shrugged.
“Sure.” I tried to brush it off. “I’m going to find Nolan.” I managed to push myself up despite the tangible jealousy that was radiating through me.
I walked through the hall, hoping to intercept my mate in his dad's office, Alpha Hugo's office, before he bounded off to the next thing on his packed schedule.
Everything had been a whirlwind between his birthday and us taking over the pack shortly after. We barely got to see each other.
I knew seeing him, feeling his touch, would shake this insane feeling that took root and flooded through me like hot coals. I had felt this before, but it usually wasn’t attached to jealousy; it was attached to stress sometimes when Nolan went away. I guess that was normal for mates to feel such a visceral reaction to their mate's absence.
I finally clicked where I heard of Cardens Valley. Nolan had a conference there a month ago at a park I didn’t remember the name of, or maybe he didn’t tell me. I really had to get better at remembering all of these things.
I rounded the corner in front of the dark wooden door of his father's office that would soon be his. A thumping noise sounded from the other side of the door. A growl, a loud m.oan, and then some muffled ones like they were being stifled.
I could feel myself blushing, Alpha Hugo and Luna Natalie weren’t overly affectionate, but they were destined mates. It was natural. I turned as quietly as I could to give them privacy.
“Nolan, Nolan.” The soft m.oan came again before it was replaced with muffled panting.
I froze. Every cell in my body felt charged. I swallowed as a cold sheen of sweat covered me, matching my internal icy dread. I must have heard wrong. I had to have heard wrong.
I reached out for the doorknob with shaky hands. It was unlocked, and that made my stomach dip. Did I want to see this? I opened the door a crack just to confirm that nothing was going on.
But Nolan stood before me, his back to the door.
I knew every inch of his body, the way that his muscles curled and tensed when he was, when he was, buried inside of me.
Long, golden legs still clinging to black stilettos wrapped around his lower back.
“F.uck,” He grunted. I knew that meant he was close.
He was close to finishing in Camilla.