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My Place, My Fate

Fate Series, Book One



By Awelst























Copyright 2016 by Awelst





Copyright

©2016 by Awelst

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.



Dedication

For all those who think they are unable to reach the stars, live in a shroud of self-doubt, and struggle to find themselves.

Embrace the different and believe in your strength.



I just give myself permission to suck. I find this hugely liberating.” –John Green, Author of the Fault In Our Stars





Table of Contents

Copyright

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

About The Author

Prologue

The pain was crippling.

An endless ache in my chest, serving as my eternal reminder of what I had, would have been, and could have been.

The pain intensified, bringing me to my knees while my lungs fought to take in what little air they could. The cold sting of the moonless night was long forgotten as I sought to cling onto what little sanity I had left.

Giving in would mean defeat, yet not succumbing meant a life of endless torment. The former fate had never looked as tempting as now as I clutched my chest willing the pain to an end.

"I would close my eyes and imagine a place filled with endless possibilities- cling onto that place and for just that short span of time, everything would be okay."

The words, once spoken by my mother, flitted through my mind- almost as a whisper through my mindless fog.

The words were spoken to her by a long-lost stranger, who had found her in her time of need, as encouragement. She had vowed upon the power those words had had on her then, allowing her to hide away from the stifling world around to a much calmer place where demands were nothing but a rumour.

Up till now, I had never once put her advice into practice, having never sought the need of such a fantastical place before. Now though, I needed that place more than ever.

Shutting my eyes, I willed myself to such a place.                       

Away from the silent woods and agonising pain.

Away from the cruelty of this world, and heart-wrenching memories.

From the aching sense of loss that seemed to follow me like a shadow.

Away from my source of this blinding agony.

My mate. 



Chapter 1

'All great changes are preceded by chaos’ – Deepak Chopra.

I jumped back narrowly missing being sprayed by the dark murky water on the sidewalk. The car made no effort in avoiding the puddle regardless of the pedestrians walking about. Simply because he had a fancy car, he thought his rights far outweighed everyone else's.

The ass.

You would think after having lived here for the better part of a year I would be used to the blatant disregard of the common folk by the rich. A common occurrence in this small sea-side town nestled by the ocean and surrounded by an abundance of forestry.

The sheer beauty of the town was what made me look past all the bullshit.

It was the closest place that bore a resemblance to my place and made everything else more tolerable.

Waking up to the view of the ocean on one end, and the plush woods on the other, was enough to bring that tiny spark of light in my otherwise gloomy existence.

I was content- at least for now, and that was all I could ask for with the crap hand fate dealt me.

The wind increased the last couple of minutes, a telltale sign of a coming storm. If last night's was anything to go by, I sure as hell did not want to be caught outside by this one.

I barely got any sleep from the howling sound of the wind against the windows, or the one-year-old toddler that clung onto me like a boa clinging onto its prey.

Safe to say, my prospects of getting any sleep tonight looked bleak.

The day-care came into view as I rounded the block. Parents and guardians filtered through the centre collecting their children. I made my way through the crowd and into the centre spotting my charge.

Sophia Rose Thompson.

Her light auburn hair made her distinguishable amongst the room full of kids.

She was sitting near her teacher playing with the teddy bear I gave her for her first birthday; face all scrunched up in concentration as she tried to manoeuvre the small tea cup towards her bear.

My heart swelled at the sight; an emotion that only sparked in her presence.

I glanced at her teacher who waved in my direction before bending towards Sophia catching her attention and pointing to my direction. The little girl followed the direction showed by her teacher her green eyes lighting up once they spotted me.

"Mama!" She squealed before toddling towards me, her teddy clutched underneath her arm- tea party long forgotten.

I bent scooping her into my arms raining kisses all over her pretty face.

She was and would always be my light.

I met her when I lost all sense of life, living in a world shrouded in darkness that sanity seemed like a faraway illusion.

It was two towns before this when I found her. I wandered into pack lands and was running through the busy city streets trying to shake the wolves off my tail.

I had stumbled into an alley when I caught the scent of a wolf nearby; I turned ready to bolt out of the alley when I heard the cry.

Confused, was my first reaction, then curiosity, followed by shock when I came into contact with tear-filled emerald green eyes, then recognition as I realised the scent was the infants.

Abandoned, was putting it mildly.

She had been dumped so callously that I hadn't thought twice when I took the child in my arms and bolted for the nearest bus station, all the while cursing her parents to an eternal life of endless torture.

In that simple act, I became a mother.

As I gazed down at the bundle in my arms, some darkness gave way. 

I had felt an emotion long imagined lost.

I had felt love.

Sophia's hand on my cheek brought me out of my musings. Her little teeth were in display as she smiled up at me.

"Mama, kie," she said in her beautiful child-like voice.

I smiled at her shrunk version of the word 'cookie'. She had spoken in her tenth month and has since built her vocabulary. Cookie became her new favourite word since she had her first taste a few weeks ago. Now, she has mastered the art of incorporating 'kie' in all her sentences. Her sweet and subtle way of letting you know what she wants.

"When we get home sweetie," I said, earning a wider smile.

I slung her bag over my shoulder and bundled Sophia up before venturing out of the centre with her in my arms.

I rarely conversed with any of the other parents or guardians, making our exit quick and unriddled with pointless chatter. Include the fact that I lost another umbrella to the unrelenting wind, I was not up to getting my daughter, or I soaked.

Home was a quaint one-storey house by the beach, with the edge of the woods serving as a backyard. Finding such a house, at such a location, had been sheer luck, mainly thanks to the run-down state it was in.

No one saw the need to buy it.

I, on the other hand, did not think twice on spending what meagre savings I had on the property.

It was my place reincarnate, and I saw no better place to start my new family.

We stayed at the local inn for the first month as renovations were done on the house. It had not been the most ideal of situations, what with me totting along an infant and all, but walking into our newly renovated home was well worth it.

The once ramshackle excuse of a house was transformed into an actual home, with a wrap-around porch. The house was a two-bed roomed with one and three-quarter baths, with a living room area, and kitchen adjoined to a dining room area. The décor was in simple hues of white and beige- something to complement rather than take way from the surrounding beauty. 

Walking through the front door, I set Sophia down, unbundling her, and letting her play with her toys. I made my way into the kitchen setting out the ingredients for cookies, and dinner.

I usually allowed Sophia to help, but seeing as how she had a long night yesterday, I was more than sure she would rather sit and play with her princess tea set. On any other day, Sophia would have been a little trooper and helped- or attempted to help. I smiled as I remembered Sophia's attempt at baking, face covered in flour as she tried to mix the batter. 

The familiar pang hit my chest, causing me to grip the kitchen top tightly.

'Me, apron tied on my waist, in another kitchen baking a different set of cookies, for a different set of people.

Smiling and singing along to a song as I pulled out a fresh batch from the oven.

Me, happy.'

The memory had been unwanted.

The feeling uninvited.

The pain familiar.

I breathed in slowly willing myself to the present; to now, with my daughter, in our kitchen, baking our after-school cookies. Happy.

I felt the pain ease enabling me to set about baking cookies, and cooking dinner.

It was not long before I had the meal ready, the table set, Sophia washed up and eating dinner. Afterwards, I gave Sophia her bath, allowed her an hour of playtime, before tucking her in my bed. I made my way out of my room back into the kitchen to clean up, and pack away the leftovers.

The wind outside had gained momentum, its howling an accompaniment to the pelting of the rain. It was almost harmonic; a loud unrelenting symphony that depicted our frailty against Mother Nature.

I sighed.

It was only a matter of time before Sophia came looking for me.

Forgoing the wind-down session on my sofa with a glass of wine, I checked that all the doors and windows were shut before making my way down the hall towards my room.

I had barely made it to the door, before the door bell sounded, halting me in my tracks.

It was not late. Half-past nine according to the clock mounted in the living room. It was not a decent hour either. Families would be in their homes, toddlers in bed, and the adults enjoying some alone time. Still, there were few situations that caused evening visits. I did not fall among those few. I did not make lifelong friends, or join some social circle. I did not know my neighbour, and I was grateful for his reclusive tendencies. There were no welcome fruit baskets or barbeque invitations. He simply kept to himself, safe and hidden within the confines of his home.

Hence why I ruled him out as a guest. Whoever it was, was either overly brave, or morbidly stupid to venture the on-going storm.

I took in a lungful of air hoping to recognise the scent.

Wolf, my mind screamed, raising my alert levels.

There were no packs in the area- at least that I know of- and even then, if there happened to be any, it wouldn't have taken them this long to make themselves known.

Wolves had a tendency to be overly touchy when it came to their lands and rogues.

Nonetheless, a rogue this far out would be unlikely given their needs for endless forestry. A small sea-side town with a small amount of forest coverage was not their style.

Bringing me back full circle to the stranger at me doorstep. I inhaled again hoping I had confused Sophia's scent with the stranger's. Nope. It was not Sophia.

The doorbell rang again.

I ran through my options, all of which led to me opening the door. I knew he had already caught my scent, I couldn't feign ignorance. And who knows what he would do if I refused to open the door.

Ram through it? Likely.

I mustered up all my strength; I made my way to the door and opened it.

The force of the wind threw me back causing me to collide against the wall, the impact knocking the breath out of me.

So much for all that mustered strength. I had grossly underestimated the strength of the storm.

The stranger shut the door, blocking out the spiteful wind, before assisting me onto the living room sofa.

"Are you all right?" He asked, crouched in front of me.

I glanced at him.

Jet black hair, grey eyes, chiselled face with a slight stubble and full lips that would lead any woman to sin. He was sinfully gorgeous.

Then again, most wolves were. It was genetically ingrained before birth to be attractive. It was what set us apart in most societies.

"Are you okay?" The attractive man asked again, waving his hand in front of my face.

I jumped onto my feet realising the situation. I was playing host with a strange wolf while my daughter slept in the other room.

All that lack of sleep has rendered me foolish.

Standing here, in my small living room with him- towering well above six feet, body seasoned in rippling muscle; making the room smaller- I cursed myself in every single tongue for opening the door.

"Who are you? And what are you doing here?" I asked tilting my head to look at him.

Silence.

The once soft, concerned expression he had been wearing earlier had been wiped off and replaced by the stoic and emotionless being in front of me.

He had not uttered a word for what felt like minutes, but stood there, his steel eyes staring at me as though trying to complete some unknown puzzle.

Just as I was about to ask him again, he answered effectively hurling my entire life into chaos. 

"I'm here for my daughter."



Chapter 2

'A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path' -Agatha Christy.

I laughed.

I, Amelia Lily Thompson, was in hysterics to the point I was in tears, bent forward clinging onto my aching ribs in mirth.

Shock.

That's all I could come up with to describe how I was feeling, as the words he said played over and over in my mind.

"I'm here for my daughter."

"Your daughter?"

"Yes, my daughter."

"And what makes you think I have your daughter, or she is even here?"

He shook his head, a smirk pulling at the corner of his mouth. "I don't think you have my daughter. I know that you have my daughter, and that she is here too."

The shock had worn off, and the laughter faded. I folded my arms on my chest, deciding to humour him.

"And how did you figure that?"

"Light auburn hair, green eyes. Sound familiar?"

I shrugged. "Yes. But so are other hundreds of other girls."

"True. True." He said rubbing his stubble.

"But not all of them have a birthmark on their right thigh, and in the shape of a crescent moon."

My breath hitched.

The blood drained from my face, and my heart rate increased tenfold.

Impossible.

It was at that moment did I grasp the gravity of the situation.

This stranger of a man had come for my child claiming to be his.

My heart rate spiked at the thought of losing Sophia.

Even now, I could feel the darkness creeping in ready to ensnare me once again in its clutches. Yet, regardless of the fear, rage reared to the front. It was palpable. I saw the moment he realised the sudden shift in my emotions. The smirk he was spotting disappeared, and with it every trace of humour that danced in his eyes.

How dare this man come here claiming a child he had abandoned!

The image of Sophia's red blotchy face streaked in tears filled my mind.

"How dare you?" I said, the words sounding more like a statement, as I brought my eyes back to his steel orbs.

"How dare you waltz in here claiming a child you so abandoned?" I seethed.

My eyes darkened with every word I uttered. My wolf was at the fore, ready to defend her pup.

His jaw clenched causing a noticeable tick, his eyes darkening, a sure sign of his wolf making an appearance.

The dominance was tangible in the suffocating atmosphere as each of us sought to be the dominant wolf.

"I did not abandon my child." He spat, his dark eyes boring through me.

I snorted at that.

"I know what I saw," I spat. "And the side of a trash bin in a dark alley was the cosy little cot where I found my daughter."

He flinched at the mention of where I found Sophia, eyeing me as if to ascertain the truth of my words. I had no reason to lie.

The memory was so ingrained in my memory that at times I would glance at Sophia and wonder what would have happened if  I did not find her.

Would she be rescued?

Or would she have fallen prey to the environment?

I shuddered at the thought.

No child should go through what she did, and if I had anything to say- or do- about it, I will make sure she never falls into the hands of those who put her in that situation in the first place.

"I did not abandon my daughter."

I prepared to respond, but he cut me off continuing, "And I most certainly would not leave her in an alley at the side of a trash bin."

"Well , since we have that cleared out, it's obvious my daughter is not yours." I said, wanting to end this conversation so he could leave.

He shook his head. "I thought we agreed and cleared this out?"

"I agreed to nothing!"

I took in deep breaths to steady my nerves. He was chaos personified, and the dominance exuded by his wolf was putting my wolf on edge. He had to be one of the top ranked people of a pack. No average wolf could exude such dominance without fully shifting into their wolf.

"I told you of her birthmark, and-"

""Yes you did. And how did you come by that information?"

"I was there. For her birth, I mean. I saw it then."

"Then how did she end up in the alley?"

The question had been nagging at me ever since I found her.

He too seemed unsure of how to answer it judging by how he rubbed the back of his neck.

"I don't know."

Either he was a good actor, or he really had no idea how Sophia landed in the alleyway. I remained silent waiting for him to explain further.

"After the birth I left to oversee to some pressing matter, and when I came back, both mother and child were gone. We searched everywhere for them but it was as if they vanished."

"Then how did you end up here?"

"Believe it, or not, but it was luck. Some pack members and I were driving through this morning when I saw her." He paused as though recalling the moment in his mind. "She was in your arms crossing the street, before entering the day care, her face all excited."

"How can you be sure it's here?"

I honestly had no idea why I was still asking these questions.

It was clear as a sunny day he was Sophia's father; he had her lips, and nose.

I guess it was the hope that he was simply a relative than parent that led me to cling onto the hope I would not lose my baby.

"She looked just like her mother." He said almost reverently. As though he was in awe of his words.

He dug into his wallet, and pulled out a small square photo, and handing it to me.

I gasped.

The resemblance was uncanny to the point of identical.

To say she was beautiful would be a great injustice.

The woman held a beauty most others sought to achieve in this lifetime alone.

Auburn hair that flowed down in silky waves and eyes green as moss that seemed to pierce into you. Her light clear skin shone with youth as she beamed into the lens.

I knew the pang long before I felt it. Jealousy. Of the woman who birthed the girl I had come to call my own.

It was no secret that I was not Sophia's biological mother; my mousy brown hair and blue eyes, a dead giveaway.

Nevertheless, I never let this make me love her any less. If anything, it only made my love for her grow.

Knowing that I was the one who got to experience all her firsts, got to comfort her and watch her grow, was enough to strengthen my weakened resolve.

"I am not letting you take her." I stated handing him the photograph.

"I may not have carried her for nine months, or birthed her, but I sure as hell raised her. And I will not let you or anyone else take her away."

"She's my daughter-"                                                                    

"No. She is my daughter. I am the one who saved her from a fate than what was planned for her. I am the one who stayed up with her, fed her and clothed her. I am the one who she seeks out for motherly love. You may be her father, but you sure as hell did not raise her."

I was seething- amped up and ready for a fight. From the tick of his jaw, he too was not about to back down.

The stakes were too high from the beginning, and only blood would prove the victorious. It was clear from the moment he had staked his claim on my child.

All the subsequent chatter had been a form of gauging one another's claim. A prelude of sought for each party to understand the other's rationale.

I could feel my wolf clawing to be released. His eyes had darkened significantly too, damn near obliterating his irises. Lost were we in our own show of dominance we had forgotten the world outside.

"Mama."

The one simple word that could undo me drifted to us, snapping our attention to the little girl clutching a teddy bear in her arms; eyes heavy with sleep, lower lip stuck out trembling.



Chapter 3

'You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment you will ever make' –Gordon B. Hinckley.

"Mama, no shweep." My daughter muttered in her angelic voice, her voice trembling slightly.

I immediately scooped my daughter in my arms cradling her close and tucking her head in the crook of my neck. She always liked to inhale my scent, it always seemed to calm her.

Long forgotten were my previous rage, and the stranger in my living room.

I was a mother first, and right now my daughter needed me more than a long-lost father.

"Let's get you some warm milk sweetie." I cooed to my daughter already heading towards the kitchen.

Still holding onto Sophia, I took out her sippy-cup filled with her milk from the fridge, warmed it, and fed it to her.

The soft sounds of her guzzling filled the quiet kitchen.

I glanced up at the archway, leading into the living room from the kitchen, and found him staring at us- or rather Sophia, as she drank her milk.

The look on his face was so tender; I had been half tempted to introduce him to her. But the thought of him taking her crushed that thought. I was more than grateful Sophia had yet to notice his presence. Then, I wasn't even sure what to tell the curious toddler.

Once she was done, I took her back to my room and gently laid her on the bed. She had dozed off while drinking her milk. It was the surest way I could get her to fall back asleep without me with her.

The storm had died down somewhat, but not significantly enough, to afford her a full night's sleep. Hopefully by then I would be in bed with her, and the stranger out of our lives.

I found him in front of the hearth in the living room, gazing into it lost in his thoughts.

"You're right. I did not raise her." He said so softly I almost missed the words. "I did not raise her, but I am still her father." He stated turning to face me, his face filled with determination.

"And I want to be part of her life."

And there they were. The words I had been waiting for since the beginning. 'I want to be part of her life'.

They held such meaning, none of which exemplified my role.

"And where does that leave me?"

"To be honest," he said, rubbing his neck, "I don't know. You aren't her biological mother, and to be honest I don't have the slightest clue where Katie is to hand over the stick of motherhood to you. I'm not saying you cannot be her mother, but what will happen when Katie comes back? Will you give her back to her rightful parent?"

I flinched at the reminder of my lack of ownership towards Sophia.

He was right.

What would happen if her mother comes back?

I was not ready to give her up. And better yet, what if this Katie, is the why Sophia was in the alley?

"How sure are you that Katie wasn't the one who left Sophia in the alleyway?" I asked. "You said so yourself, you do not know where she is."

He became silent, rubbing his stubble once again in thought. His face contorted in a myriad of emotions, ranging from disbelief, to 'what-if's', to confusion.

"She wouldn't..."he muttered, almost unsure of himself.

"Is she your mate?" I ventured.

His subtle nod was response enough for me to venture on.

"Seeing as how she is your mate, wouldn't you be able to feel her through your bond? Wouldn't you be able to tell if she was in any danger or distress?"

I would not lose Sophia to a man who could put her in danger if his supposed mate was the cause to begin with.

His face said it all without spelling it out. I was right. And if so, his mate had abandoned both her child and mate.

It was sad, watching the realisation dawn on him, and the familiar pain cross his face; followed by the sense of betrayal, and finally the darkness.

I shivered from the coldness of his stare. Is that how I looked?

Torn and a shell of what I was before.

I'm sorry didn't seem enough. It was never enough.

It served as a reminder of what had been - of the loss and agony that would always be there, coupled with the sense of self-loathe that begged whether you were ever enough.

The experience is not one I would wish on anyone, yet here is a man on the brink of succumbing to the darkness.

No one afforded me this.

No one held me as I fought to hold onto my few remnants of sanity.

Yet, here is my chance to help someone from going through it all on their own.

Sacrifice.

Something I would do for Sophia in a heartbeat. Something I am willing to do for this stranger of a man, despite the endless consequences.

"Yes." I murmured, my voice sounding choked.

He furrowed his brow in confusion.

I cleared my throat and clarified, hoping and praying I would not come to regret my decision. In the back of my head I knew this was the right decision- at least for Sophia.

"Yes, you can be her father."

The smile that lit his face was breathtaking. A sheer cry from the cold grim expression he had on earlier.

It was as though a light had been set within him that shone through his grey eyes making them lighter. It was in that moment I knew Sophia would always have a home with him. That he too had found his light in her.

The embrace was unexpected but when I found myself in his arms; I let it pass. The joy of having a child far outweighed the discomfort I felt in such an intimate position.

"Thank you.' He rasped his voice almost sounding tearful.

I blinked rapidly not wanting to get caught up in the emotional moment. It was damn near comical, us hugging it out like the best of friends, while a minute ago we were at each other's throats begging for blood.

I awkwardly patted his back before gently pushing him away from me.

"I don't know how long you're here for, but if you'd like I can introduce you tomorrow?" I had meant it as a statement but the question lingered whether he would be open to such a suggestion.

"I leave tomorrow," he said rubbing the back of his neck, a habit I understood whenever he was unsure of something.

"But I don't leave until later in the afternoon, so I can meet her." He finished enthusiastically.

"Okay. You can sleep on the couch tonight unless you drove?"

He shook his head confirming my earlier suspicion of him running through the woods.

I walked into the hall closet and pulled out extra blankets and a pillow and placed them on the sofa.

"Feel free to use the kitchen, and if you need me, I'll be in my room."

"Thanks you."

I nodded before turning on my heel and heading into my bedroom.

Sophia was curled up in the centre of my bed her teddy firmly in her grasp. After a nice hot shower, I dressed into my shorts and vest before joining Sophia on the bed.

She instinctually sought me out, clinging onto my vest. I ran my hand through her hair cuddling her.

I inhaled her scent letting it calm my frayed nerves, as the sweet hold of sleep slowly but surely took over me



Chapter 4

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by the little scraps of wisdom' – Umberto Eco.

The poking sensation was the most uncomfortable thing ever, making it the most effective wake up call.

Sophia.

I smiled inwardly not wanting to give away the fact that I was awake. I could hear her huff out in frustration at the obvious lack of response from me.

"Teddy, mama no wake." She huffed increasing the poking sensation of her finger on my cheek.

I decided to put her out of her misery by scooping her in my arms and raining tickles on her.

"Mama, no twickle." She stuttered through her giggles.

I smiled at the sight.

This had become an everyday routine. She would wake me up, and I would tickle her before showering her with endless kisses on her chubby cheeks.

Initially, it had been a way of reassuring myself that she was mine; that she was not a figment of my imagination. Now though, it had become a way of showing my love of this child.

"Morning sweetie," I said, as I cuddled her on my lap.

"Mworning."

"How did you sleep?"

"Good mama."

"What do you want for breakfast sweetie?" I asked, watching her scrunch up her face.

This too was a morning ritual of sorts. I would ask her what she would want for breakfast, for her to take her time deciding- as though it was the most important decision of her life- before responding with the same answer every day since the time she could eat solid foods.

"Pwancakes." She squealed.

I smiled at the glee depicted on her face. It made it hard to say no to her when she would look up at you with those large green eyes of hers that shone of nothing but innocence and love. It was always my undoing.

"Fine sweetie. How about you wait for me in the kitchen while I get cleaned up?"

"Okay."

She slid off my bed before heading for the kitchen. I got out of bed and headed for the en-suite shower in my room to freshen up.

I looked a mess. I felt like it too. I barely caught a wink of sleep last night, what with the storm, and Sophia, and-

I froze.

Him. The stranger. Sophia's father.

I sprinted out of the bathroom; through the bedroom, down the hallway, and into the living room, where I was greeted by the sight of my daughter and the stranger locked in a gaze.

He most definitely had not been a dream.

As though sensing my presence, the stranger turned his gaze towards me.

His short dark hair was in disarray and his chest bare. He turned away from me, letting his gaze take in the sight in front of him.

It was heart wrenching watching him soak in the sight of his daughter in something akin to awe. As though she was not there but merely a dream concocted from his imagination.

"Mama," Sophia called gaining my attention. "Who is?"

I sighed. I knew this moment would come, I guess I had hoped to put it off for as long as I could.

The true fear was treading into the unknown. Into a world of arrayed possibilities that might mean the loss of my child. Was I ready for such an outcome?

No.

Yet, recalling the stranger's face the previous night, when the shrouds of darkness had begun their dance around him, I had not thought twice about my decision.

The thought of Sophia asking about her father also made the decision easier; especially now that I know he had not been responsible for the callous abandonment of his daughter.

"Soph, sweetie, come here I need to tell you something important." I told her making my way onto the sofa the stranger was on.

He made room for the both of us allowing me to sit with Sophia on my lap facing him. I glanced at the stranger once more.

The joy was bright in his eyes. His happiness was tangible. A buzz that surrounded him and eased the uncertainty I felt with this decision. 

"Sweetie, this right here is your papa." I said, rubbing her back gently.

She was silent for a moment as she stared at her teddy.

It was hard to tell whether she understood when she hid her face from the both of us.

I could smell the stranger's nervousness; the uncertainty of his daughter's response.

"Like Tewi's papa?" she asked softly.

Terri, or rather 'Tewi', was one of the kids in the day care centre, and Sophia's closest friend.

She was raised by a single father who worked long hours leaving his daughter in the care of her nanny. The few times he came to the day care centre were rare, yet a ray of sunshine in his daughter's world.

"Yes honey, like Terri's papa."

She was quiet once again as she mulled over this new information.

"Why not here?"

I had known this would come up; the obvious absence of her father this entire time.

I could see the uncertainty in the stranger's eyes.

"Well sweetie, daddy had to go away for work, but now he's back." I said hoping to satisfy her.

"Go gen?" she asked bringing her face up towards me.

Her lower lip stuck out trembling, and her eyes shone with tears at the thought of her father leaving.

It was my turn to be riddled with uncertainty.

We had barely covered the grounds of this dilemma, and now faced with the decision, I was not sure how I was going to tell my daughter that her father might not be a permanent fixture in her life.

"Sweetie-" I began, only for the stranger to cut in.

"I'm not going anywhere princess."

I scowled at him.

How dare he make such a promise when he most likely will be leaving for his pack!

I was furious, and ready to question him, but Sophia leapt from my lap onto his wrapping her arms around his neck tightly, halting my tirade.

"Papa!"

The one word was not only mine, but his undoing. Tears shone in his eyes as he wrapped his strong arms around his daughter.

"I've missed you too princess." He said inhaling her scent.

It was in that moment I felt the nagging uncertainties fade away- at least for the moment.

My daughter was happy, and that is all a mother could ever hope for. Even if it came in the form of this stranger, I was willing to put our differences aside for the sake of Sophia.

Thank you. He mouthed when our eyes met.

I nodded and left the two to get acquainted while I whipped up breakfast. They needed this time.

Breakfast consisted of Sophia's endless chatter to her papa, who had a permanent smile on his face for anything and everything his daughter uttered.

After the table was cleared, and the dishes cleaned, I settled Sophia in the living room in front of the TV to watch her favourite morning show. She had insisted on her papa watch it with her, but I knew we couldn't put off the inevitable conversation much longer.

Things needed to be said, and decisions made. So, after much persuasion, the stranger was able to pry himself away from Sophia- with a promise of no near departure- and followed me into the kitchen.

"Look..." I said running a hand through my hair, "I don't even know your name."

"Sebastian."

"Sebastian. Look Sebastian, I have let you be a part of her life, but now I want to know what you intend to do, now that you promised you'd never leave."

He was silent for a while as he turned to face the beach through the kitchen window.

Gone was his earlier merry expression, here was the man I had dealt with most of the previous night; hard, serious, emotionless; the face of someone accustomed to spending infinite hours in and out of meetings.

"Sebastian, I need to know what this means for Sophia and I. I will not let you take her away from me, nor will I let you hurt her by breaking your promises. You shouldn't have made the promise to begin with," I ranted.

My earlier fury had returned, and with Sophia in the other room, I can truly give him a piece of my mind.

"How could you be so foolish as to say that? Did you not give thought to how you'll affect her when you leave? Did you-"

"I am not leaving." He cut in, turning away from the window to face me. "I gave her my word."

"Your word." I snorted at that. "I've heard that one before, and what a load of crap it was."

The memory of another time, in another place, where another person gave me their word only to break it in the worst way possible, burned through my mind.

The pain and anger that followed was blinding. How naïve I was then. Following the edicts of fate like a stray dog behind its new master. Utterly pathetic.

"I meant it when I said I wanted to be part of her life. And I also meant it when I said I won't leave her." He stated calmly as though speaking to a child.

I bit my cheek to stop the retort. Nothing good would come out of it, leaving us in square one- what do we do now?

"Since you're not going to let her go," he said, as if he was asking for confirmation.

I gave a curt nod.

"And I have no intentions of leaving her. There is only one solution to this."

My interest was piqued. "And what might that be?"

"You and Sophia will join my pack."

What?!

It felt like déjà vu.

Him saying something absurd, me in hysterics, and him scowling at the blatant disregard of his authority.

Only this time he was not trying to take my daughter away from me.

No, this time he was trying to ruin the life I tirelessly sought to create in this little haven.

It had taken me years to be able to accept my rogue status, and now that I am starting to accept the hand I had been dealt, he had to come and turn my world completely off its axis.

My place.

This is what I fought so tirelessly for. This is what all the pain and suffering had led to. And now that I finally feel some semblance of contentment with a family I thought to never have, it might all be for naught.

"No."

The word tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop it; then again, it was the only response in my mind. I would not be pulled into that world again.

Haven't I suffered enough at the hands of a pack? Haven't I given all I could give to that life?

I barely made it through alive the last time. What happens if history repeats itself in this new pack?

I doubt I would be able to co-exist with the darkness.

"I'm not giving you a choice." He said through clenched teeth.

I brought my eyes back to his. They had darkened from my lack of compliance. He was mad. And I doubt any simple terms I state would mollify the rage bubbling within him.

"What?"

"I have been more than lenient with you," he spat, "Letting you stake a claim on a child that isn't even yours to begin with. You will either come with me, or I will involve the Were Council. And I doubt they will hand guardianship of a child to a rogue."

The stab was quick and direct.

The threat clear.

I had no claim on Sophia. He could walk out with her if he wanted to and be in his right to kill me.

The rogue.

Tears stung my eyes, and my throat closed up as I fought to not crumble in front of him.

I will not give him the satisfaction of seeing me cry!

I swallowed the lump in my throat before straightening myself.

Courage.

With a head held high I acknowledged defeat.

"When shall we leave?"

Chapter 5

The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart' – Robert Green Ingersoll.

An hour.

That's how long it had taken to pack up me and Sophia's belongings, huddle into the waiting SUV and leave the sea-side town I had come to call my home.

Even Sophia's excitement could not bring my heart to acknowledge this turn of events.

When we informed her of our new living situation, she had been so excited that she had toddled off to her room to gather her favourite toys.

I did not intend on selling my house- in case it all goes to hell and I am forced to leave.

Each mile away felt like an added weight on my chest. It was so suffocating I was sure to have some sort of permanent breathing difficulty in the future.

Pack life. I spat at the word.

For the short amount of time I was confined in this vehicle with Sebastian, Sophia, and two other pack members, I came to realise Sebastian's rank in his pack. Alpha.

The word had left a sour taste in my mouth when I heard it.

It explained a lot of things regarding Sophia; her ability to crawl, walk, and speak at such early ages. I had simply put it to her being a beta or delta.

Never did I consider her to be an alpha; with how protective they are. It's a wonder how her mother could get away with her.

It also explained the dominance exuded by Sebastian. I for one should not have been able to challenge him without the pressure of submission. Then again I wasn't some ordinary wolf- at least from what my mother told me.

'Greatness. That is what you're destined for baby girl. And let no one tell you otherwise', she would say.

I wonder what she would say now, her only daughter reduced to a mere rogue; a far cry from greatness.

It was no secret the hate Were's hold for rogues. A fact made clear in the wolves who accompanied us and the not-too-subtle glances the two pack members in the front would throw my way.

To them, I was the enemy.

A creature that defies the norm of the werewolf society.

Add the fact that their alpha's daughter calls me a term reserved for their Luna; it was obvious how my stay in this new pack would be. Lonesome, with a touch loathe.

Only a fool would assume a simple order from an alpha would change things.

I sighed.

This is not how I pictured my life when I found Sophia.

Numerous times over the past couple of hours I found myself wondering whether it was too late to change my mind.

To take the easy way out and leave Sophia with her father, and return to my empty house by the beach.

Numerous times had that thought entered my mind then the sight of Sophia cuddled against my chest would squelch it.

Be it as it may, I was her mama, and as such, I would not abandon her to have her loathe me later.

Only when she wished me gone, would I leave her side. It was a vow I had made when I had found her that night. To always be there for her, protect her and listen to her, till the time comes when she is ready to face the world without me by her side.

With that thought, I wrapped her tightly in my arms, and let the gentle lull of the vehicle put me to sleep.

~

The gentle shake roused me from my sleep.

It was then I realised that the car had stopped, followed thereafter by the assaulting stench of wild dogs.

Pack wolves.

They came in hordes, drawn to the vehicle like a moth to a light.

I could see the hesitance in their steps as they inched closer; fearful of the rogue within. It was comical. As if I would chance a fight now. Even I am not that stupid. The odds were against me.

The pack mate at the front had already gotten out of the car to stand outside. Try as they might, it was clear what they were doing- standing guard.

It had already begun before I had even stepped foot on these pack lands. The segregation. The reminder of my status in this society. It was only a matter of time before the whispers began- that's if they hadn't already started.

My door was opened by one of the pack mates on guard. He stood to the side allowing me so slide out of the car with Sophia in my arms.

The gasps were the first thing heard when I turned my back to the packs. It was obvious who they had seen.

Sophia- their Luna reincarnate.

I could see the confusion in them; wondering why the rogue had their alpha's daughter in her arms and warning me they were ready to end me should I try anything.

It was more than well that Sophia was still asleep. I don't think they would have taken it lightly when they found out she viewed me as her mother too.

Definitely not making any friends any time soon.

I was led away from the crowd by the pack guards, and into the pack house. It was a colonial styled mansion surrounded by an abundance of woods. The inside just as grand as the exterior, comprising deep mahogany woods, and large windows, that brought the beauty of the outside inside. The foyer was furnished with a single round foyer table at the centre of two grand stair cases.

The silence in the mansion was tangible.

I took in the various scents within the mansion, only to come up short.

Nothing truly said welcome than an empty house.

It was as if the mansion cleared out for this purpose. I grinned to myself recalling the alpha's words a couple of hours ago. '... She is now a part of this pack. Treat her like you would a pack mate'.

Either he had an abundance of faith on his pack or he was simply to blind from meeting his daughter that he is oblivious to all else.

I was led up the staircase to the third floor- better yet, the topmost floor, otherwise known as the alpha's floor- to a dark wooden door.

I smelt him before I was ushered through. He was sitting behind a large cherry veneer executive desk, slouched back on his large swivel seat, phone to his ear.

The moment he saw us, he swiftly ended the call motioning for me to sit on one of the chairs in front of his desk. The guards made a silent retreat- albeit reluctant- out of the room closing the door behind them.

Silence.

None of us was wont to speak to the other.

Me, for the slight he had dealt me concerning Sophia; him, for reasons unknown he seemed unsure of what to say.

It was annoying.

He was the one who dragged me here. If he could not come up with anything practical to say, I most definitely did not need to sit here.

"If there isn't anything to say, I would like to be shown our room." I said not sparing him a glance.

"She will have her own room-"

"I would prefer to have her with me."

He was silent for a beat before he responded, "Very well. You'll be staying in the room across from mine."

My eyes instantly went to his.

He was seriously out of his mind!

It was bad enough the backlash I was bound to receive when the pack discovered I was Sophia's mama; I did not need the added talk regarding my living privileges.

I could almost picture it. Rogue slut plays alpha's daughter against him. The wonders of pack life.

"No need for that. Any room in the lower floors will be fine." I said as politely as I could.

"You will sleep on this floor. And-"

"And I said I won't." I seethed.

Civility was overrated when I came to dealing with him. Niceties and grand gestures of mock submissiveness were simply ways of placating one another until finally one of us snaps.

And still he wanted us to reside on the same floor. No good would come of it. We were too dominant to live in the same space.

His jaw clenched tightly, with the tick a steady rapid pulse. He was furious. But so was I. He had wanted this, and I had complied wholeheartedly.

But it ends here. There is only so much I can take and coming onto pack-lands was step enough to last an entire lifetime.

"Alpha, you called." One of the pack guards who had led me here asked entering the room.

"Take our guest to her room," he informed the guard, his steel grey eyes still locked with mine. "Second floor."

I released the breath I don't recall holding. Even though it was one crisis averted, I knew there would be a price for such an outcome.

Alpha's never conceded. His eyes attested to such.

"I hope you know for this there is a price." Though it was meant as a question it didn't come sound as one. That needed carried no two choices rather one simple answer. Yes.

"We'll see about that."I quipped, turning on my heel and following the guard.

I could feel his anger like a wave against a jagged cliff. I had disrespected him, and in front of one his pack members; a punishable offence.

Still, I was not of his pack, and the same rules do not apply to me.

But how much longer did I have until the little amount to independence I had built becomes subdued as I had once been?

With the little amount of courage I had left, I trailed after the guard to my new home for however long that may be.



Chapter 6

Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine’ – Jack Ma.

Pack dinner.

A gathering of few-or all- pack members for the evening meal.

Otherwise known as the worst possible moment to make your presence known especially when you're not the most liked person in the vicinity.

The hostility was stifling when I walked through the doors, but when Sophia in all her innocence tapped my cheek with her chubby hand, and uttered the word 'mama', I was not sure I would be leaving the room in one piece.

Nostrils flared, and eyes darkened the more I stood there at the entrance of the room clutching onto a child that was essentially a part of them.

I was really rethinking why I chose to come down at this exact moment, rather than in the dead of the night, when the chances of running into a whole damn pack was close to nil.

Sophia, I sighed.

She had woken up a couple of minutes ago demanding to be fed. As a mother I had been cornered, and no amount of placation would make her hold on for a couple of extra minutes- at least until I was sure the number of people around was not as many as now.

I sighed again.

This was not how I had planned to meet the pack, let alone be introduced to the pack.

They assumed the worst of the situation, and the fact that I was a rogue did not score me any cookie points.

Currently, I could not do much without Sebastian's presence, and seeing as how his scent was non-existent, I was practically on my own. Holding Sophia firmly in my arms, I weaved my way through the dining room to the kitchen.

Thankfully, no one stopped me on my way, nor attempted to converse with me while I set about preparing Sophia her meal. Sophia on the other hand, was more than accepted by the pack members.

The minute I had placed her on the ground with her stuffed teddy, she had toddled to the nearest pack member- an unsuspecting teenage boy- and chatted his ear off. Soon after, more pack members gathered around her each clambering to get a better view of the alpha's long-lost daughter.

It was nice to see everyone accepting Sophia despite been raised by a rogue. That she could be shunned for her association with me, had nagged me the entire trip here.

As a mother, I wanted her to experience all that came with being a were, including being part of a pack. The fact that she could have that opportunity now was both joyful and scary all at once. Emotions I realised will be a norm every day spent here.

All I could do was be there for her; protecting and shielding her from any pain that may come.

"Hi little one," I heard one female pack member ask in a soft voice. "You look so much like your mama," the female voice said.

I stiffened.

I had imagined this would happen, but I had not envisioned it to happen so soon.

A hush had fallen in the room the moment those words were uttered. I could feel the eyes collectively on my turned back.

A reaction; it was all they waited for, for me- the rogue- to live up to her status, effectively giving them a reason to retaliate. Fools!

At one point in my life I would have not thought twice, and ripped her throat out, but now I had much more to live for. I could not afford to entertain these judgemental fools with my daughter in the same room.

I boldly turned towards the awaiting crowd, smiling, before walking towards them and collecting Sophia.

"Mama, I look like mama," she said gleefully.

"I know sweetie," I said, planting a kiss on her cheeks.

The scent of their anger was potent. Regardless, I would not let these people intimidate or bully me.

I had no sense of obligation towards them, nor did I care for their notions of me. I had lived through it in one pack and lost every sense of regard for society's opinions.

Picking up Sophia's food, I made my way out of the kitchen.

Our new room was in simple terms; a home away from home.

Located on the second floor, it had taken more turns than I could count to get there from Sebastian's office. Not that the guard who had guided us there had been any help.

The man had barely uttered any word apart from the hoarse grunt indicative of our arrival at our new room. He had then made himself scarce before I could ask questions of my own. It was more than enough to put a stamp to the phrase 'every man for himself'- or more adequate 'woman-rogue for herself'.

The room however, had been the redeeming factor since the start of this day. The entire room was decorated in neutral tones complementing the cream wall paint, with a large double bed at the centre of the room.

A door to the left of the room led into a full bathroom while a sizable closet took up the opposite side of the room. The simple soft tones of the room had reminded me of our home by the sea giving me a semblance of home.

I sat at the foot of the bed situating Sophia on my lap before proceeding to feed her.

Simply put, it was a messy affair, but I wouldn't have changed any aspect of it. The sheer sight of her giggling every time she spat out the food as though it was some sort of joke that only she could understand, would imbue patience even in the most indifferent.

Halfway through her meal-with most of said half spluttered all over her face- was a soft knock on the door. I took in the scent. Sebastian. I sighed.

Not the person I had hoped to see any time soon-or better yet the near future.

Still, he had every right to see his daughter.

"Come in,' I called.

The door parted slightly allowing him to pop his head through the narrow opening.

"Hey," he whispered, before coming into the room, and shutting the door behind him.


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