Rejected Mate and Following Fate - Awakening Book

Chapter 14: A War is Coming

I sit quietly in the bedroom I was frog marched into some hours ago. The food tray some random Santo
dumped in here for me untouched, as I’ve literally no appetite and I’m laid out on the bed, staring at the
endless white ceiling of a room that probably cost more to decorate than they spent on the orphanage
the whole time I was in it. Bored out of my mind, but since my explosion, nothing in the house is
working. Nothing electronic, no lights at all, and they are working on rectifying it. I’m still not convinced I
did this, but it all seems to point this way.

Apart from the boarded-up window and the now décor free shelves and such after they swept through,
removing the carnage of smashed items, it’s pretty nice. Gold and cream with brown leather and
opulent fabrics. It’s like a hotel boudoir in a five-star establishment and bigger than the entire lounge
and kitchen at the rejects home.

The Santo’s always were one of the wealthiest packs in Radstone, and it shows. Their pack house is a
mansion with endless corridors and rooms, and they have stuck me in their west wing, far from
everyone else in the building until they figure out what I can do. I could scream and erupt in here and
no one would hear me.

The house is now echoing with distant banging, drilling, and all sorts of construction sounds, as they try
to secure their abode once more and I can’t say I feel any kind of remorse. I mean at first, I was in
shock, kept questioning if I really did that, if I was capable, and now, I’m numb once more. Shunned to
an unused part of their building, nothing changed there from being one of the black marks they left to
rot on the darker side of the mountain. I’m exhausted, in need of sleep but completely blank to all other

A light tap on the door draws my attention from trying to count cracks that aren’t there, and I know
before they open it who it is. I can feel him. Felt him making his way down the hall towards me
moments ago and I really don’t want to see him, or anyone for that matter.

That intense excitement at his presence, that was there before, is waning with everything that’s
happened since. The bond isn’t weakening, but my own emotions are overpowering everything else
right now. Grieving a family I never knew was mine, and replaying the horrors, while also trying to push
them deep down in the recess of my brain.

“How are you holding up in here?’ Colton’s voice sways my way as he slides in, that sultry sexiness
that does still manage to illicit tingles on my skin, closing the door behind him quickly, and I catch sight
of him checking the hall before he does. It’s obvious by his swift maneuver that he shouldn’t be in here
with me and is defying some rule, probably from his father, or maybe Carmen. Checking no one
followed him to the empty side of their palace. I sigh, look back at the ceiling and ignore him. Annoyed
that he is a part of all this and just another member of a pack that’s outcast me for years.

“Still pissed, huh?” There’s a defensive quality in his tone, not his usual commanding strength, and I roll
away to face the wall and turn my back on him. Said all I needed to downstairs, and I don’t know why
he can’t just leave me alone. He told me that’s how it was going to be that day in the forest, and yet
he’s the one who keeps breaking his word and reaching out to me. He’s pretty useless at staying away,
and it doesn’t help.

Every contact, every conversation, just makes us bond all the more, and feel like I really do know him.
It doesn’t matter if our interactions to date have been sporadic and brief, I know him inside and out in
ways that only imprinting can give you.

“I don’t blame you. What you said before…. It’s true. I did make a choice, but you know why, Lorey.
Don’t hate me for that. Not that right now any of that holds significance with the new current events.
The elders are in lockdown in the grand hall, I couldn’t stand being in there anymore, I had to come
make things right with you and to talk.” I hate that he has a nice voice, unique, sensually melodic, and
that it alone, is enough to affect me.

I close my eyes to blot him out, wondering if the topic of the day is Vampires, or the freak wolf who just
busted their house up. Not that I care enough to ask. I remain still, don’t react, open my eyes again and
continue to stare at the shadowy and uninteresting cream painted wall. My body betraying me in small
ways at his nearness, but I clamp down on the sensations winding through my limbs and stiffen to stop
his effect on me.

“Say something, please.” Colton appears closer in a flash, and I jump when the bed dips behind me,
his warm body sliding up close against me as he too lays out and slides an arm around my waist to turn
me. I don’t resist, but let him roll me onto my back, pulling my face to him until we are almost nose to
nose, leaning over me, scooping down to bridge the gap. An intimacy he shouldn’t be encouraging.

The room isn’t brightly lit, only glowing from candles in the far corner, seeing as I smashed every bulb
in the house, so he casts a shadow over the both of us, making it near impossible to really make him
out. I shiver involuntarily, at our close contact, instant goosebumps from his touch and his general
effect to my body and soul. Cursing the fates out for making me crave his touch, even when I’m
seething inside.

“Something.” I mumble with lack luster and catch a slight hint of a cute boy smile from him, making him
handsomer. Amused at me for giving him attitude, and it serve’s the purpose of softening me a
minuscule amount. I can’t deny the way contact with him always calms me, brings me instant peace
when he’s not being a jerk, and sends my body and senses into high alert, even when I feel like this.
Pushing my bitterness aside and letting his warmer mood seep in.

“You asked me a question downstairs. You asked me if I even remembered you.” It’s softly spoken, the
way a lover would whisper to you while held in their arms. He lifts his hands to trace my cheek with his
finger, removing a strand of hair that I couldn’t even feel and leans down closer towards me so his
breath fans my face, and for a moment, I wonder if he might kiss me again. I shake it away mentally,
knowing how stupid I’m being. He already made it clear we would never be that.

He raises a brow as though expecting me to at least say something to that, but I blankly stare at him
and give him nothing. My head busy with ludicrous thoughts and I try to empty my mind before he picks
up on it.

“It’s like that huh?” He sighs, adjusting his position so he is propped up on his arm, hand fisted against
the edge of his jaw and gives me a little breathing space. Moving back a few inches, but still pressed
against the side of my full length, and still touching my face. “Two summers ago, before Carmen and I
started dating. You were wearing a green dress, serving candy floss at the meadow festival. You
served me, wouldn’t look me in the eye and when you passed me my change, you dropped it on the
ledge rather than hand it to me. You had a yellow flower in your hair.” His voice is soft and husky, and I
try hard to lock on his gaze as my memory dashes backwards, trying to pinpoint what he’s
remembering. It’s vague, but I remember the festival and the way his whole pack spent the entire day
lording over the rest of us and causing mayhem. It was a nothing day and nothing sticks out as
memorable about it.

“You have my memories, so how do I know you’re not just tapping into one of mine” I blurt out, a little
stubborn indignation in the mix because I know he’s trying to get me to be a little less mad at him. It
wouldn’t be hard for him to now look backwards and see me when he has all of mine in there to choose
from. Colton smiles, shaking his head softly with a frown, lifts his fingers to my temple and gently
presses, projecting his memory to me, among the many we share.

An instant mental visual of that sunny day and there I am, standing at that cart, making floss, and
looking like maybe the day wasn’t as bad as I remembered. I have a strappy dress in a nice shade of
mint green that brings out a golden color in my hair. My tousled waves blowing free in the wind and for
a second, I look almost carefree. Maybe even pretty. I can see me, so these aren’t my memories,
they’re his.

I watch myself at a distance, turn and spot the group of Santos heading my way, looking towards this
person, of the head I’m inside and instantly put my nose down and go into full submission. You can

almost taste the change in my disposition as I realize they’re coming to my stall and I’m not happy
about it. I pull his fingers away sharply, cutting the visual and seeing enough, not wanting to watch
anymore of how feeble and unworthy I always was in the presence of them.

“Doesn’t prove anything.” I shrug and turn my face from him. Not wanting to revisit any memories of
those men making me feel like trash anytime they had to talk to me.

“The memory’s from my eyes, not yours. It proves plenty. Do you want another?” The cocky hint, and I
can almost feel the smirk as his hand comes back to rest on the flat of my stomach, a little too
comfortable for my own liking. It annoys me how easily he finds this slide into touchy feely when he’s
the one who chose to sever our ties. He has a woman somewhere in this house, pining for him, and yet
here he is again, touching me like I’m still his property. For once I actually feel like Carmen deserves
better, that he maybe lost his affection for her, but she didn’t for him, and he should still care about her
feelings. This would hurt her if she saw us like this.

“Okay, so you remember me. Whatever. It doesn’t mean much, except we interacted before. A few
times actually. Of course, in the memory banks I’ll be there. That wasn’t the point of what I was saying.
All that memory shows are you saw me and managed to remember it, not that it served any importance
to you.” I roll away pushing his hand off me fully, hinting to give me space, and return to my previous
position. Bristling internally with the war going off inside my head and returning to irritation. Hating the
fact that all the usual little tells are starting to go off inside me at his proximity and my body is beginning
to yearn him again.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” Colton pushes me in the back of my shoulder lightly, almost
teasingly and I shirk him off. Not impressed with him trying to turn this around and roll my eyes. He’s
being a little too flippant for a guy who spent tonight ripping apart vampires.

His focus should be on our impending doom and our life from here on in, and not whatever this is.
Reminiscing the ‘good old days’ and adding weight to why he will never rebuild trust with his chosen

‘mate’. He’s not exactly acting like he cares about doing it from what I’ve seen.

“Don’t be stupid. How could I not remember the Alpha son of Lord Santo. I’ve known who you were
since birth.” I answer with dripping sarcasm. He’s starting to grate on me now. I mean we share every
single memory each harbor, so it’s pretty dumb telling me I wouldn’t know something that he does. Or
that I didn’t remember him all these years. How could I forget the guy who walked around for ten of
them, like our lord, and king? How could I not know the son of the man who ordered my kind into exile.

I don’t get a chance to hit him with any kind of comeback, his hand comes at me from behind and he
feels out my temple once more, projecting from the many hours of mental movies, a single one that
shoots to the forefront in the blink of an eye and renders me mute. I inhale sharply as the visual of my
mother comes to view, winding me instantly and pushing me to complete still submission.

My beautiful angelic mother, holding my hand as we walk around the edge of the lake, near the cavern
and I’m young, really young. The place near where he asked me to meet him that day in the forest.
She’s laughing, fixing the bow in the back of my hair that’s keeping it all off my face and yet, I’m seeing
it from the eyes of someone in the water. I’m a kid, maybe seven, maybe eight, but I recognize myself. I
recognize her too, my breathtaking mom and that dazzling smile, those blue eyes that are missing from
my life, and it tears at my soul. The pain cutting into me and slicing away some of my armor.

She walks me to the edge and lets me go, so I can play, go to swim. I run forward and splash into the
water, no sign of hesitation. A brave little girl who thought she was capable of anything when sheltered
in the shadow of her family. I clumsily gallop, splash in cannonball style and dive under as soon as I get
waist deep, her calling encouragement from the edge as she watches me. I can’t pull my mental sight
from her face, her laugh, the way her voice echoes in the air around us and surrounds me with a
unique warmth, like she’s hugging me now.

If I’m Colton in this memory then he watches me for a minute too, dragging my eyes back to me and
she fades off out of scene. I have no control of where he looks, because this is his memory. He follows

my progress as I swim across the lake and then he’s pulled sideways, and I’m suddenly seeing water.
Submerged in bubbles and blurry sight, hands in front, waving as I swim back to the surface, coughing
and spluttering as another boy blocks my view. I recognize him as one of his closest Santo pack. A boy
called Matteo, who’s usually in Colton’s shadow wherever he goes. He was in the study earlier today.

“Do you like her or something? Why you always staring at her, Cole? Is she why you made me come
here? I feel like she’s wherever we go nowadays.” He teases, pushing me back and all I hear in
response is…

“Shut up. She has a name. Get out of my face and stop being dumb.” It’s Colton’s voice. Undeniable,
even at such a young age, that smooth undertone of immature depth that grew into how he sounds
now. The completely defensive edge, and embarrassment, hints that his friend is right, and I know from
learning so much about him lately that when he gets caught out, he gets bristly and hostile. It starts to
dawn on me what he’s showing me as he lets go and breaks the projection.

I turn on him at speed, eyes wide and gawping, not really sure I just interpreted that the right way, but
what other way could I.

“You liked me?” I blurt out accusingly. I don’t understand. That memory is long before the wars
catapulted into our life and changed everything. A time I can barely remember, and I definitely don’t
recall on that day, either of us having any kind of memorable interaction. He stayed with his friends and
I stayed with mine and then I went home with my mom before the sun went down. I would have to claw
through the memories to be sure, but there was nothing to suggest he even noticed me.

“I had a crush on you, like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t know how many times I tried to talk to you and
got completely blanked or lost my nerve. I used to hang out where I knew you would be, but then the
war happened, and you became….” His voice tails off, eyes averting, shame washing over his
expression, and I know what he means without him finishing.

I became a black sheep. One of the shamed.

My family died and our people scraped up the remains and shunned my kind to the darkest corner. One
of the rejects and much like everyone else, he would have been told we were cursed and to keep his
distance. Colton was a kid, and I guess his father really drummed it into his head that I was unworthy.
His crush died, he forgot me, and he moved on with his life, onto Carmen.

“Why are you telling me this? I don’t remember you ever trying to talk to me, I don’t recall times where
you were there in my childhood.” Not that it means anything. Now it’s just hurting me all over again,
knowing that even then, he bowed to his fathers will and rejected me, long before that day in the
woods. If we were destined, then he failed me twice.

Colton sighs, pulls me close by the waist and brings my face back to his so that he can move in and
rest his forehead on mine. The kind of intimacy you would expect from a mate and I have to remind
myself that we’re not anything close. I don’t relax into his touch, but stay like cardboard, and refuse to
melt into him or succumb to his power over me.

“I was shy, and you were this fearless, confident girl, that walked around with her friends, oblivious to
any of us. Boys were dumb and you all liked to make a point of avoiding us at all costs.” He points out
with a smile, reminding me a little of memories gone by, so well buried to save my heart from the pain
of losing my family that I almost blocked them out completely. A time when the packs lived in proximity
but kept to their own. A time when the Santo boys were just ‘that bunch of idiots from the south side’
and had no authority over the rest of us.

It feels like a million years ago now, when life was normal, and I had a real home. My own warm bed in
my own little pink room on our farm. I had parents, a brother, and grandparents. Happy and carefree
and had no idea there was a storm coming that was big enough to take it all away from me. There was
a time when I was just another wolf child, and Colton and his friends were not our superiors, but a rival
pack and we had no real animosity. Not between kids anyway. The fights were for the grown-ups.

I smile at the possibility that Colton was once shy. I mean, t I don’t believe it now with who and how he
is, but raking through my memories stored in my brain that belong to him, daring to push back to the
before, where all my visions pain me still, I guess I can pinpoint a few that show a much quieter boy. He
turned young, and at first, he wasn’t the fearless aggressive wolf that we all know him as now.

He was sweet at some point in his life, until I guess, he was hardened with whatever responsibility his
father laid on his head. He was nine when the wars happened, and as a boy who already ran with the
pack, he would have lost so many years of childhood in taking over in his father’s absence while
protecting his family.

We had attacks here too, and many young boys had to fight for our survival. I don’t doubt he was one. I
can almost see the point in which he turned away from anyone who wasn’t Santo, pushed people away
and stayed in his own little bubble, snarling at others who dared to come too close. Colton the shy
sweet boy and me the fearless bossy girl who didn’t let others push her around.

Oh, how the tables turned.

“So you knew me. It doesn’t matter.” I sigh finally, realizing he has worn me down enough to get me
talking to him and I’m no longer sulking in silence and staring listlessly at a ceiling. Instead I’m lost in a
million thoughts and feeling all kinds of sad and depressing things. This is why I never walk down
memory lane to see who I used to be. I’m also betraying my own will power and have at some point
curled up against his chest and pushed one foot between his ankles, snugly, cuddling up so easily that
I didn’t even know I was doing it. I reverse, moving back a little, screwing my face up at how potent this
bond can be.

Colton narrows his eyes and stares at me for the longest moment, knowing this direction of
conversation is futile and doesn’t really change anything. Even if he did remember me, if he liked me,
we are where we are, and it’s not really important anymore. He can’t undo what is done, and who I am