Murmurs of Dissent
“Come on, Dani,” Sean pleaded. “Don’t be like that. Just once, let’s do it.”
Danielle shook her head so vigorously that her messy bun came loose. She could never, never give in to what he asked. She wasn’t such a bad friend.
Sean grumbled, “At least tell me why!”
Danielle looked him in the eye but hesitated. Sean raised his brows impatiently. “You will lose the respect of your pack.” She said quietly. Sean jumped, startled.
“Are you... are you saying that I will lose to you?” He asked incredulously.
She was now annoyed. Hands on her hips, she demanded, “What’s your kill count, Grant?”
Sean opened and closed his mouth like a fish. “That... that...”
“Mine is three hundred and forty-seven,” Danielle said sharply. Then she softened her tone. “I have more experience than you do. I fight to kill, not to spar. You wouldn’t win against me.”
Sean sighed, looking down at his bare feet. Then he looked up, determined. “I want to improve myself. Spar with me, please. It doesn’t matter if I lose face. They’ll just know you’re stronger, is all.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Sure?” He nodded. “Come to the arena, then.”
In the first round, no one was around, so it was a less humiliating defeat for Sean. Within thirty seconds, he was down. The second round, he lasted only slightly longer. This time, a crowd started gathering. The third round, he tried a new manoeuvre, but it just added ten seconds to his time of defeat. For nine rounds, he faced one defeat after another. Then, his stamina started to wane.
Strangely enough, the warriors who had been trained by her these past two months were cheering for her instead of their alpha. This was naked betrayal, but no one said a thing. They all hoped for their alpha to become stronger and so encouraged their fights.
Once Sean was completely worn out, he raised a hand to stop the fights. Panting and gasping for air, he saw that she was still fit as a fiddle. He nearly collapsed at that sight. This woman was a monster! Right at that time, Grace walked over to him. She stroked his back and told him, “You have the king’s secretary on the line.”
Sean raced towards his office. The wolves had a great heritage of royalty. The families and more or less treated the wolves right aside from anomalies here and there, so the wolves still maintained strict respect and protocol when it came to Wolf Kings and Queens. Sean certainly couldn’t keep the king waiting as a picked up the phone. “This is Sean Grant.” He breathed.
“Alpha Grant, this is McCall speaking.”
“Yes, McCall, tell me, what can I do for you?”
“His Majesty the King will be visiting the Amethyst Pack for an inspection tomorrow. This call is to inform you to prepare yourself.”
Sean’s heart skipped a beat. A royal inspection. It hadn’t happened in decades. Why now? “Thank you, McCall. We await His Majesty.”
Cutting the call, Sean immediately summoned his beta, his gamma and his mate. There was a lot to prepare and everything had to follow royal protocol.
It was not long before Danielle caught wind of whispers in the pack. Her extraordinary senses didn’t leave her at peace.
“Do you think the alpha is going to meet with her?”
“I sure hope so, she would make a great luna for the pack.”
“I’m not saying Luna Grace is bad but she is better.”
“Hey, be a little loyal! Don’t you think she is a bitch to come between the alpha and luna like this?”
“Yeah! What if she came with only that in mind? To break up the pack and take over?”
“We are better off without her, honestly.”
“How can you say that?” This was Kit. “After all that she has done for us?”
“Have you wondered, Kit, what her agenda is?”
Danielle had heard enough. There was no sorrow in her expression. She continued to have a light smile on her face. But she realised inside that she needed to leave this pack soon, or she would be hurting her friends. Yes, friends, plural. She had become fast friends with Grace too — her first female friend. She was loathe to part with them, but it was time to change venues and start running.
One more day, she said to herself, one more day and I’m off.
She returned to her room and packed all of her belongings, meagre as they were. Once that was done, she walked around the pack grounds, trying to detach herself from this place that had been her home for two months, that had sheltered her in her time of need. She found it odd that more wolves were coming out to border patrol, but she shrugged it off as some new routine Sean was trying.
“Dani! I’m trying a new lasagna recipe. Come, be my food taster.” Grace smiled wickedly, knowing Danielle hated being a guinea pig. Danielle had just come into the pack house and was faced with this excited Luna. Grumbling but secretly pleased, she followed her inside and sat down on a bench in the middle of the kitchen. As Grace wore her apron, she switched on some pop music which Danielle loathed. Now she knew Grace was deliberately riling her up.
As the various concoctions were being mixed, Grace, who looked ready to burst with excitement any moment, suddenly turned and looked at Danielle intently. “Dani,” she said slowly, “you can keep a secret, can’t you?”
Danielle narrowed her eyes. “May...be?”
“Don’t tell Sean this, please please please!” She begged, waving around the spatula.
Danielle’s curiosity was no provoked. Grace told Sean everything. She leaned forward in her seat and asked, “What is it?” in a whisper.
Grace leaned forward and, making sure that no one was around, whispered, “I’m pregnant.”
Danielle blinked once. Twice. “But Grace,” she told her friend softly, “Sean and I already know this.”
Grace dropped her spatula in shock. Gaping, she wailed, “But... but... how?”
“Your scent,” Danielle said simply. “It changed the moment you conceived. Any alpha can smell it on his mate.”
Grace leaned against the slab of granite and covered her face with her hands. Soon, sobs and sniffles could be heard from her. Panicked, Danielle walked to her quickly and pulled her hands away from her face. She quickly wiped the tears away and firmly gripped her shoulders. “Grace, it’s a good thing, it’s a happy thing. Why are you crying? So you didn’t manage to tell your mate first. But doesn’t this allow him to take care of you better? Take care of the baby better? This is instinct, not something you can control. Now his instincts will tell him to guard his mate and child well. It’s a good thing, Grace.”
By now, Grace had calmed down. She kept nodding at Danielle’s words. “You’re right, I’m being silly.” She gave her a watery smile. “Let’s get back to—”
“Grace? Grace! What’s wrong?” Sean’s worried shouts came from the hall. Seconds later, he was in front of her, eyeing her stomach.
“Nothing, it’s nothing, I’m fine.” She insisted. Seeing that she seemed okay, he cradled her stomach with his palms and kissed her on the lips.
“I’m so happy, Grace,” he whispered. “So proud of you.”
Yeah, Danielle thought as she was once again pushed away as a third wheel, it is really time to leave.