Two weeks passed with no sign of her alpha, and thank God for that. Amber doubted that she could have handled being watched any longer. He’d left without saying a word to her that day in the restaurant’s kitchen, leaving her to wonder to this day what exactly had warranted his rather unprecedented behavior.
She watched the stage on which Alpha Lucas’s mating ceremony would take place being erected in the middle of the pack house’s garden. Tables were being set up and decorated. String lights were being strung from poles. The florist had just arrived with a truckload of arrangements for the table tops. And from the mouth-watering smell that wafted to her nostrils, it seemed that the catering company had arrived as well. The whole thing was coming together quite nicely. Dozens of werewolves milled about, all doing their designated jobs.
Michael tossed another string of lights at her and she caught it with one hand without looking.
“Hurry it up, Omega. Stop it with your daydreaming; you’re slowing us down.”
She glared at Michael, who was supposed to be helping her dangle the light strings from the hanging poles. As usual, he did close to nothing.
“The day I finally lose it, you’ll be the first I come after,” she promised darkly with a sickly-sweet smile, then climbed up the ladder and started hanging the lights, but not before she saw Michael’s ashen expression.
She inwardly sighed. The last time she’d heard someone refer to her using her name was when she’d been pulled over for driving 50-mph in a 40-mph zone a few weeks ago. She might as well legally change her name to ‘Omega’.
Amber wasn’t even sure why she was an omega. Omegas were the runt of the pack. She was most certainly not a runt, at least in her humble opinion. She excelled in physical activity; she was one of the fastest runners and the strongest fighters in the pack. Yet from the moment she’d opened her eyes in this world, she’d been dubbed an omega. She suspected it was because she was an orphan with no one to defend or look after her.
But there was no escaping it. The Shadow Hunters were the only family she had in the world.
All thought of went out the window when the ladder suddenly quivered and she instinctively held on for dear life, her heart lodged in her throat.
“Michael!” she growled, furious that he’d let go of the ladder.
A few minutes later, she announced to Michael, “Alright, I’m all done!” She then added sarcastically, “Do the honors, your Majesty.”
Michael practically ran to the switch. Raising it high in the air for dramatical effect, he yelled, “Let there be light!” And flicked the switch. The white lights came on and illuminated the large garden, basking it in a creamy white glow. Astonished gasps and sounds of approval followed immediately afterward.
A smile lit up her face. She’d done one hell of a job, if she did say so herself.
She looked down and saw that the jars of fireflies were being screwed open. One by one, they were uncapped and hundreds of glowing fireflies were released into the night. All around her, radiant fireflies floated. Still smiling, she touched one. It immediately flickered like a malfunctioning tube light and flew away. Chuckling, she started to climb down the metal ladder when she felt them again. She froze halfway down the ladder.
She didn’t have to look to know who was watching her.
The moment Lucas stepped foot in his garden, the hanging string lights lit up. He was impressed by how sophisticated and elegant the place was turning out to be. It was exactly as he’d planned it to be. Everything was going perfectly.
That was until he saw the figure perched atop a metal ladder not too far away from where he was standing.
His chest tightened when he spotted the smile on her lips. A firefly floated close to her face, casting a soft glow on her pale cheeks. The moment she touched it, the firefly started blinking and flew away. Her soft, melodious laugh drifted to his ears and he felt something in him stir. Lucas swallowed; his throat had suddenly gone very dry.
Why was he reacting this way? What was it about her that stirred his inner beast?
She started to climb down the ladder then stopped halfway down.
She was now as aware of him as he was aware of her.
His wolf wanted to pounce. His wolf wanted…
His wolf wanted the possible!
Not when the mating ceremony was just a few hours away.
He tore his gaze away from her and looked up at the full moon. It was hidden behind a dense wall of clouds. For the first time in a very long, Lucas prayed for the strength of will to see this night through.
The celebrations were well underway when Amber exited her room, having decided to attend the ceremony. She usually stuck to her room during such events, and she’d never been missed before. Tonight, though, she felt like attending.
As she made her way down the stairs, she felt a sudden strong pull in the direction of the garden. It was a foreign feeling that she’d never experienced before, something between an urge and a need. Something beckoned her. Called to her. Tugged at her. Moved her. Her pace quickened; she couldn’t get to the garden fast enough. She had no idea what it could be, but her wolf was responding to it like it responded to nothing else.
It both alarmed and excited her. Her heart began to beat a staccato rhythm against her chest.
What is this feeling?
Deafening laughter and bright lights assaulted her the moment she entered the garden. Foreign smells floated to her, no doubt from the members of their neighboring pack, Blue River. She looked around for whatever it was that was drawing her like a moth to a flame. She was too distracted to eat or celebrate like the rest of her pack, and too restless to sit still. She moved from spot to spot in an effort to locate the source of her discomfort.
The garden suddenly quieted down. Then she found it, right at the center of the erected stage.
It was none other than Lucas, her Alpha.
All she could do was stare in puzzlement. Why was she so drawn to him all of a sudden?
A beautiful female werewolf joined Lucas on stage. She was a redhead with short hair and green eyes. She wore an elegant, bespoke navy dress that had a slit all the way to her hips, exposing long, shapely legs.
When the female came to stand too close to Lucas and even brushed arms with him, her wolf stirred and started to rumble.
She started to panic. Why was her wolf acting this way? So… possessively? And why did she feel the urge to hop onstage and throw herself into her Alpha’s arms?
She flushed crimson at the intrusive thought. These were new emotions to her, and they were most certainly unwanted ones.
“Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you the lovely Esmeralda, your future Female Alpha,” announced Lucas to the crowd.
The dense crowd erupted, cheers rising all around her.
The clouds cleared to reveal the full moon.
Their eyes suddenly connected across the hundreds of heads.
Amber couldn’t breathe. She saw in her Alpha’s eyes things that she hadn’t imagined she’d ever see. His eyes mirrored what she was feeling; something that was beyond a ‘want’ but a need. She saw desire. It terrified her. She abruptly decided that she’d partied enough for one day.
It took all her strength to elbow and shove her way out of the crowd. Once she broke free, she ran out of the walled garden and into the forest surrounding the pack house.
Amber wasn’t sure how long or how far away she ran from her home, but she was sure of one thing.
Lucas was right behind her.