A Friend in Need
The lights were blinding her eyes. She couldn’t stand them anymore. It was in these moments that she felt anything other than indifference towards her stepmother — irritation. She hadn’t wanted a birthday party. She hadn’t wanted a celebration for something that wasn’t even valued. She hadn’t wanted to see her eagerly watching for some male alpha to mate with her so that she would be long gone.
“I can see the steam coming out of your ears. What’s going on?” She heard a voice next to her. Reece Landon, the alpha of the Opal Pack walked towards her. His hands were in his pockets, ruining the seriousness of the three-piece suit he wore. She perused him and could objectively conclude that he was extremely handsome.
He had been her friend ever since the time he and his father had come to her pack to sign a treaty of cooperation. They had struck up a conversation and subsequently struck up a friendship. “Just... the lights.” She muttered in response. His frown cleared in realisation. He understood that it wasn’t just the lights. Danielle was thankful to have friends like him. Suddenly, she felt a hand grip her wrist lightly. She looked up, startled. Reece was smiling down at her.
“Come on, I have to give you my birthday present.” He gestured for her to follow him. She looked around and saw that nobody would miss her. So she followed him wordlessly. As she had her back to the party, she couldn’t see her stepmother grinding her teeth with jealousy and fury.
They walked out of the French windows at one corner of the house and Reece turned back and gave her a grin before she could see the view outside. When she did, her eyes widened and her lips parted in surprise. Four people stood there. What was extraordinary about this gathering was that all the people present were alphas of various packs. Of the nine major packs present in the continent, six packs’ leaders were here to wish her a happy birthday.
Her lips broke into a wide smile. With that little move, they knew she was pleased. She came forward to hug every one of them — Misha Carlton, Samuel Eden, Caleb Holmes and Sean Grant. “Hey there, baby girl.” Caleb winked at her, giving her a sparkling grin. “How was your gift?” He gestured to himself provocatively.
"We aren’t the gifts, Caleb,” Misha explained patiently. “Our presence is.”
Caleb rolled his eyes. “Buzzkill. Why do you always stop me from getting a rise out of her?” He complained.
Samuel opened his arms wide as she laughed, trying to reach his tall frame. “Dani, we miss anything? We were a bit late, sorry about that.”
Danielle snorted inelegantly. “The only thing you missed is my dad’s wife pushing you to mate me immediately. Otherwise, no, nothing.”
The boys’ face turned red. Caleb started whistling, making it really awkward for everyone. Danielle rolled her eyes. She was used to Caleb’s antics. He loved to rile her up but never managed to succeed. “Come on, you idiots, I’m not asking to mate with you. Let’s go sit under the canopy.”
They silently went with her and seated themselves comfortable. Danielle magically produced a few bottles of whisky. Some tension left her shoulders as they started to get the drinks in. “Say,” Sean cleared his throat and began, “how many of you are against arranged matings?”
Samuel raised his hand. So did Caleb, Misha and Reece.
“It’s just not right, is it, Sean?” Reece said softly. “You’re taking away the goddess-given gifts- in fact, you are ripping them away from each other.”
“But what if you never find them in this lifetime?” Sean’s voice was strained.
“You will. You are destined to a mate if you’re an alpha and she will find you.” Misha replied.
Danielle narrowed her eyes. “I am against it,” she said. “If I cannot manage to get that one blessed thing in my life for myself, then I wouldn’t know what to live for anymore.”
At this, Sean quietened for a few seconds. “You would live for all others who care for you.” He said, with a strange glint in his eyes.
Danielle barked out a cynical laugh. But then she saw all of them looking at her seriously, and her laughter died. “Oh,” she whispered. Her eyelids lowered and none of them was able to see what she was feeling. Slowly, a smile spread across her face. “Then if one day, I would like to live for myself, the first thing I’ll do is come to one of you.”
“My pack would love to have you.”
They voiced their agreements. For the first time in her nineteen years, warmth crept into her heart and she felt at home.
Reminiscing did little good to Danielle at any point of time, especially since she was on the run and people wanted her captured or dead. But it came back as a particularly useful memory, given that she was about only eighteen kilometres away from the Amethyst Pack whose alpha was Sean. Blinking away any stress she was feeling, she ran towards the Amethyst Pack in full speed, not wasting a moment.
Twenty minutes later, she was near the pack border. She didn’t want to cross the line without telling him about it, because that would be one alpha encroaching upon another’s territory. It was severely looked down upon as alphas were very possessive and territorial creatures. But she had no choice. She had no way of communicating with him.
So she chose the next best route. She shifted to human and walked towards the border. This was to show that she was harmless. She stepped past the border because that would be the only way to get their attention. Sure enough, howls immediately filled the air. One after the other, they all ran towards the border where they felt the breach.
She stood there, not moving, watching them alertly. Three wolves shifted to men, looking gloomy and forbidding. Anyone would wince at their huge beings and their scowling faces, but to Danielle, they were pups, still. “What are you doing here, wanderer? Just because we accept your kind doesn’t mean we tolerate breaches like this.”
Danielle had the urge to laugh. “Take me to your alpha. I want to meet him.”
Another man snorted, laughing. “You think our alpha is so easy to approach? Or do you think you look good enough to seduce him into mating you?” With a perverted grin on his face, he approached her. “You certainly look good enough for me to mate you.”
He stretched his hands to touch her shoulders but before he knew it, he was on the ground, biting the dust. He felt two accurate hits on his hand, dislocating his shoulder and breaking his wrist. Instantly, growls were heard all around. Wolves were ready to pounce on her and tear her apart, but she growled back menacingly. “I have come in peace, and this is your last warning. Don’t try to test me. Let me meet Sean Grant.”