Rejected Mate and Following Fate - Awakening Book

Chapter 22: I won't Give Up

“Okay, maybe. I mean we always knew he would try and maneuver some sort of union around the
mountain, I just didn’t think he would physically expect them to move here. The device, we don’t know
enough to be able to second guess what it would do to us all in the valley. The range was limited in
what we brought back.” Colton is stiff, uneasy, and I can tell he doesn’t like his pack questioning orders
from above. He truly is hooked by the nose when it comes to his father, and I need to figure out how to
get in there and remove the darn thing. Maybe I wasn’t paired with Colton so he could save me from
my life… maybe I’m meant to save him from his. The fates work in mysterious ways and thing’s aren’t
always obvious.

“You can’t keep tabs and instill fear into people if they’re not close enough to feel your wrath.” Radar
butts in again, and it’s not hard to see that when it comes to Juan Santo, Radar isn’t completely loyal to
his alpha. There’s a hint of malice in that tone, definite sarcasm in what he said, and I glance to Colton
to see if he reacts in any kind of way.

In fact, this whole conversation isn’t all that friendly where Juan is concerned, and Colton isn’t biting
back in the way I expect. Outside, if anyone dared to offend his father, he would rip them a new one
and leave their remains smeared across the mountain, so I’m a little surprised to find he lets them
speak freely. I guess he respects them enough to let them be honest with their opinion, and nothing
said is repeated outside of their circle of trust.

I’m envious for a moment, a longing of belonging I used to know well eating at me, and it pushes me to
go sit in the corner on a stool by the bar. Listening, but not part of this as it’s not my place, and they are
not my pack. My opinions on this mean nothing.

“Whatever the reason… he wants us out tomorrow afternoon, driving to the other villages and changing
minds.” Colton gazes at the floor this time, that same twinge of jaw muscle and the color of his eyes
glow a little amber for a second. A hint he isn’t happy, his emotions in turmoil, as I feel them ebbing this
way strongly and suddenly and it only takes a second to find out why.

“Is he really suggesting we apply force to families and children if they refuse to be rehomed?” It’s Cesar
who bursts out with it, outrage in his tone and almost accidently evicts Meadow from his lap with his
aggressive thrust, who looks equally startled, adjusting her position with a frown at him

Colton remains silent and the room falls into matched hush as they take it in. I can feel and taste the
confusion and disgust, but no one wants to be the first to say it. I gawp at him, not sure I heard that
right, but looking from ashen face to ashen face, of a group of people who all know what he means, it
dawns on me that’s exactly what Juan wants.

He expects his sub packs to go and forcefully move people from their homes and into the valley floor
on the south side. In the name of protecting them from attacks, but the motive is bringing them in and
taking control. Refusal will not be tolerated, and I wonder what kind of punishment he plans to exact.
Juan is a cold bastard of a man and this isn’t even as low as I expect he’ll go. Juan always intended to
push his agenda and now he’s using the attack as his excuse. He hungers for power and reign across
the packs and has been biding his time for so long.

They won’t be any safer camping in the valley than they will in their own villages under the guard of
patrols and watchers. Setting up alarm systems and training all who can fight how to do so is a better
use of their time. They can all work together to safeguard and improve security from their own homes.
How are they going to care for and cater for the hundreds who live around the mountain skirt if they
dump them all in the center of the valley on this side?

There are enough Santo’s to successfully spread out and patrol the mountain every night after dark,
the only time Vampires can come out. They can rest in the day. Raising an alarm is enough to get them
there fast… the orphanage is proof that they can span miles in half the time of a human in a car, and if
they had warning, they would move to get there in time. With patrols already out there, the people
would have way more expectation of getting through it. It makes no sense to bring them here. Matteo is
right; this is about control.

“What good is gathering us all in one place. Like Matteo said, they set off that machine and every one
of us, corralled in the valley, will be rendered useless. No one will be able to turn or fight back. It’s
easier to massacre a race when we’re all laid like fish in a bowl, and no one’ll be free of its effects if the
only area we patrol is the valley. I’m sure they can make bigger, or use multiple, to hit us all at once.”
Jesus is now on his feet pacing, agitated, and getting worked up by the second. I’m starting to feel the
restless unease spreading through them all like a virus, as they mumble their agreeance and I keep
looking to Colton to say something.

“This is pointless… you think I don’t think the same and that I didn’t try and reason with him? Nothing I
said made a difference. It never does.” Colton stands up, losing his temper, agitated too, and utterly
drained. I can feel it coming off him intensely, and his eyes lock on mine again as he catches me
across the room, ignoring Carmen throwing her own his way.

“Come on, Lorey. I need to show you to your new room. I’m too tired for this, and we all need to meet
down at mess hall for dawn. Go to bed, you reprobates. Stop arguing with me because it’s futile, and
it’s not my place to make you obey him. We need sleep.”

I don’t need to be asked twice. I jump up, suddenly a little too excited at being alone with him again and
know it’s because I’ve mentally taken another path and have a plan in place. One that hopefully
involves those beefy arms around me and the sexy mouth on mine once again. I go to follow him as
soon as he makes a move towards the door and almost gloat at the way Carmen’s face crumbles.

“One of us could show her.” She snaps bitterly, and he spins his head back, stares down at her with a
blank expression and doesn’t move a step further.

“Yeah you could… but that isn’t what’s happening. I want to do it.” He shrugs with one shoulder, his
tone icy cold and it seems to shut her up. Recoiling back as though she’s been burned, and I can tell
he’s in no mood for more defiance or squabbling. Her eyes mist over with what I expect are fake tears,

maybe not this time, and I really try hard to figure out what it is he ever saw in her. Carmen’s a horrible
person with a selfish spoiled attitude, and I really don’t like her.

At least I now know why he’s this way with her. The indifferent behavior and biting tone. Colton’s ego’s
wounded, his pride dented, and as much as I don’t want to believe he had any feelings for her after we
imprinted, I can feel the hurt in him radiating outwards. He maybe doesn’t love her anymore in the way
he used to, but he cared enough that he thought he could salvage their pairing until she hurt him. Her
betrayal in that way cut him deep, and he’s lost all respect and trust for her, which doesn’t bode well in
a sub pack.

Colton walks past me on the way to the door, catching my hand in his as he does so, making me jump
as I was too busy looking at her and leads me out amid the happy joyous coo of Meadow

“Don’t stay up too late… go to bed. Hers or yours, either is optional and fine by me, Chicas.” She
laughs in that raunchy cheeky way she has when she’s being brazenly sexual, echoing behind us as
we leave the room, and I blush crazily, trying not to look his way as I catch his eyes flick to me.
Nervousness envelopes me once again and instantly I’m back to being awkward and shy.

Soon as we hit the corridor, he shuts the door and gives me a proper smile, swinging my hand in his
like we’re children and tugs me closer so we rub arms as we walk. Working our way out before hitting
the main passage.

The closer I am to him, the more aware of how truly drained he is. It’s seeping from every pore and
despite the smile and the playful behavior, I can feel his stress levels are elevated crazily and his body
is emitting a low depressive mood.

“You look really, good.” He says it with a half-smile, one dimple on show and I shrug childishly, still not
‘owning it’ as Meadow would say.

“I’m not sure about the look, it feels kind of weird to be wearing such tight clothes.” I squirm as I try to
unwedge the jeans from my butt gracefully, and he throws me a cheeky look as he watches me attempt

“Want some help?” it’s a grin, a smooth move kind of flippant comment made by the males who walk
around like cockerels in a hen house, and not an actual serious question. It’s obvious he expects my
usual rebuff, but instead I throw a smile back his way, swallow down the utter nerves and butterflies
he’s hitting me with and nod, in the way Meadow showed me. She gave me a crash course in simple
flirting, while doing my hair earlier, and I throw on the sexy smile and flutter my lashes, butting in
against him coyly.

“If you like.” I bite on my lower lip, not sure if I’m doing it right, but his reaction, I guess, says I am.

Colton trips over an imaginary piece of carpet, and coughs, to cover his clumsy response, immediately
less confident, perplexed, and failing at Mr smooth, all in one fell swoop. Cocky but not actually willing
to follow through.

“Not the response I was expecting.” He frowns, swallows a little obviously, and fixes his eyes ahead of
us while he regains his previous composure.

It’s not like I couldn’t tell, and I throw a one shouldered coquettish shrug, absolutely dying inside with
how weird and fake this feels. I’ve never flirted or played games with boys. I never had any interest in
doing it before Colton.

Colton turns away, seemingly putting a little distance between us and the opposite of what I was going
for as he points us up a flight of stairs.

“This way, you should memorize the route so you can find it again.” His tone is distant, his mood not
exactly what I expected, and I sigh at the deflated mood that hits me heavily.

We’re away from the main hall and the grand sweeping staircase, and in some back corridor with
narrow steps to the next floor. Every wall painted beige, dark wood floors, and potted plants dotted
around prettily. They have even started replacing windows up here, and one newly glazed one is letting
light shine through. Colton begins leading the way, his hand no longer in mine as he slides in front of
me to climb the stairs, and I suddenly feel awkward and shy that my attempt at flirting backfired badly.

I don’t get it. He’s meant to be completely hot for me and yet acts like a coy virgin who doesn’t do well
with girls at my first attempt of encouragement. I know for a fact he’s not a virgin, and not
inexperienced with girls, I have all his memories. He seems all too hyper focused on where we’re going
and no longer on my presence. His mood still weird and now he’s making me feel the same way. Sort
of sad, depressed, and a bit tetchy and unsociable.

“Here, this door on the right. This used to be Taryn’s room, but she mated up and now lives with
Franko, her mate on the third floor. Room’s all yours.” Colton steps in front of a large dark wood door,
tucked into a tiny alcove in an airy part of the hall that widens out, using a keycard and motions for my
hand when he slides it into the machine.

“Hand here, and it’ll save your print for future use. No card or key necessary.” He throws me a
courteous quick lipped smile, takes my wrist, lifts my hand, and holds it on the smooth black panel,
pressing in digits as he does so and then yanks the card out before it flashes red and beeps. He lets
my hand go quickly, as though he doesn’t want to be here holding it anymore, and I can sense his
urgency in wanting to leave. It brings me down with a thud and a seriously painful ache in the chest.

“Not hidden away in the west wing anymore? I ask quietly, sounding as somber as his mood, looking
for something to engage him in conversation with, because I literally feel his intentions of sneaking
away and leaving me to my new room, and it sucks. He’s disconnecting form me, shutting me out and
it’s shredding my soul to pieces a sit becomes clear that’s what he’s doing.

“He wasn’t happy that I decided you should be among the rest of us, and part of this pack, seeing as
he’s trying to unite the mountain. Convinced him your showdown was under better control and wouldn’t
happen again.” Colton avoids my eye, obviously not really telling me everything that was said.

“And he gave in, just like that?” I hate the fact that I can sense he’s being evasive and keeping things
from me.

“Not exactly. Sometimes I’m good at arguing my corner. Sometimes…” Colton looks away, seemingly
defeated as though tonight has taken a toll on him. Whatever was said to his father, I can sense his
strained emotion, and weary mood coming at me like a fog the longer we stand here.

“Just tell me… I’m a big girl, I can take it.” I sigh, desperate with a raw, pleading tone, letting my
frustration out, and I catch the flicker of hesitation before he sighs.

“He doesn’t care that you have a special gift. He wouldn’t entertain the topic. Shut me down and
bombarded me with his disappointment in my lack of putting my pack, and my responsibility, first.” His
crestfallen face and the surge of pain that hits me in the chest tells me his father’s words wounded him.
It serves to remind me though, that this is not all about him doing the right thing, it’s also about pleasing
someone he looks up to and loves and has always obeyed. As he’s meant to.

He swings the door open and steps aside, making it clear he’s depositing me like a gentleman, and
nothing else. He’s done talking about this and he isn’t going to argue about it either. No usual Colton
touchy feely, no intimacy, or any kind of anything. He just steps back and holds it wide as the lights
flicker on automatically. Putting space between us and fixing a look on me that screams more of
commander, than boy that loves me. He’s closing off, shutting me out and my heart starts to bleed.

“If you need anything, then mind link me. There’s food in your room, I had it put here before I came to
the communal. Enjoy your dinner and get some rest. I’ll come for you at dawn.” It’s empty and devoid of

emotion. He moves to leave as I step inside but panic grips a sudden response out of me. That
churning nausea that he’s being like this, slicing at my guts and ripping my soul in two.

“Colton… what have I done?” I blurt it out like a needy sad Carmen type, and he pauses, frowns,
stopping mid step and turns back at me with a very noticeable wince of pain flashing across his face. It
kills some of the sterile stance and he seems to sag a little.

“You haven’t done anything. It’s me. My father wants me to stand up and take my place. He wants me
to mark Carmen at the next moon and resolve what he calls, our little issue. Nothing I say makes a
difference, he won’t bend, so maybe it’s better for us to keeps our distance and hope that something
changes, or that my marking her kills our bond.” He’s deflated, as broken as he’s making me, looking
so much younger and vulnerable than his years in this moment, and giving up so easily. My instinct is
to get mad and yell at him, like I’ve done so many times already in our short acquaintance, but my plan
of earlier pushes through, reminding me that he’s lost and set afloat right now. He’s in pain too, and
struggling to navigate it as much as I am. So much weighing on his shoulders that I don’t understand
and can’t see.

I need to bring him in and secure him to my harbor. Stop letting him pull all the ropes alone, stop
expecting him to sail against the storm without direction, making all the moves. Don’t push, even if my
instinct is to feel disappointed in him and seethe with anger. I need to stop, breathe, and look at him
another way. As someone who needs gentle coaxing and nurturing. He’s stubborn, he’s bound by duty,
but I have his heart, all of it, and I need to help that power grow from inside out.

I lower my tone, gently whispering as I cross towards him, fighting my own nerves and inexperience,
and putting faith in the fact I know he loves me. Taking my cue from Meadow.

I step across the gap and raise myself on tip toes to reach him, laying one hand flat on his muscular
chest, and lifting the other to his jaw gently. Eyes resting on his, locking onto him the way that always

does and makes me feel safe. My own heart swelling, my body tinging with the nearness of him.

“Don’t give up on us.” I breathe it out, almost against his lips, I get so close. Insides somersaulting with
the need to kiss him. I run my fingers up his cheek and cup his face, pulling him close, so softly, my
mouth grazes his lips and I feel him physically sag into my touch, needily. Melting against my briefest
connection, his pupils dilating as I bring his forehead to mine. No matter what he says, or how he acts,
his truth is always in our touch, and he cannot deny the affect is has on both of us. That need to fluidly
pour into one another and inability to fight when we touch.

“I’m not worthy of you…. Today showed me that.” It’s husky, strained, and low. It’s self-pity and
exhaustion. Defeat, because his father’s knocked him down once more, and left him reeling from cruel
words. I refuse to accept what he’s saying as truth to what he’s feeling, and instead of anger, I lean up
and press my lips gently to his. Startling him with the sudden contact and refusing to back down.

It takes a second of pause, his body going rigid before he relaxes, pushes his face forward to fully kiss
me and his hand comes to slide around the back of my neck as he takes over. It doesn’t take much to
ignite fire in him and I groan as he gives me what I’m yearning for.

Kissing him is so familiar and as I open my mouth to let things progress quickly, all those feelings and
crazy urges rush back like a massive tidal wave hitting the shore. So easy to become consumed and
intoxicated with need when we’re touching this way. My lips parting wider, to give him access as his
tongue slides against mine and he kisses me with passion and expertise that makes my toes curl and
my stomach tingle.

Colton stirs against me, his body easing against mine, relaxing into the hold we have on one another
and meeting my groan with his own murmured growl of enjoyment. We’re made to kiss one another,
and I can’t imagine anyone ever tasting this good or making me feel this complete. Neither can deny
our bond when we kiss, it’s potent and all consuming.

Just as his hands begin to slide down my back and over my ass, bringing my pelvis to his, hinting at his
sexual excitement, he stops abruptly. Catching himself, he pulls away fast, so suddenly he literally rips
us apart and I’m stunned with the sudden release, eyes flickering open to find myself tottering on
unsure legs. He steps back, fully releasing me, almost letting me topple with the sudden loss of
support, but I catch myself on the nearby door frame, breathless, and panting with how hot that make
out session was and glance up at his shell shocked expression.

“We shouldn’t… it’s only going to make this harder.” He closes right back down inside of his own head.
That softness of his expression, the dilated pupils and stirring body. It all reels back at speed as he
regains perfect control. I, however, am fire dup and burning with crazy heat, which triggers severe
frustration at the sudden halt.

“I disagree. I think we should take what time we have and no regrets with it. My body yearns for you,
and I could feel it was mutual. We’re doing nothing wrong in the eyes of the fates. This is what they
wanted for us. Stay with me tonight, share my bed, give us something more than this.” It’s brazen for
me, and I swear I hear Meadows voice in my head, egging me on as the words tumble out. A
confidence growing that I never knew I could possess, and a shameless need to see this through. I’m
all in and willing to lose my virginity tonight. In fact, I want it badly.

I don’t care if I’m not marked, I’ll let him in my bed and make him bond to me in other ways if it makes
him start fighting for his right. Sex will bind us, and I’m willing to use any tool to get my mates head out
of his ass.

“I can’t. I’m sorry.” Colton can’t look me in the eye, and I can feel the agony waving his way from me.
The turmoil, the regret, the confusion as he fights his own will power. My boy’s screwed up in the head
and fighting with his own emotions and morals. I realize this is going to be tougher than I thought, and
it’s not just Juan’s command. Colton’s fighting with his own inner voice, about what’s right, and what he
should do. I can taste the indecision as it’s thick enough around me to color the air.

He steps forward, eyes still downcast and surprises me with a fast, fleeting, yet soft kiss on the
forehead that renders me mute. A moment of his gentle affectionate side to let me know he does care,
even if his refusal makes it seem otherwise.

“It’s not that I don’t want you… just please, don’t hate me.” He doesn’t wait for an answer, turns on his
heel rapidly and heads back the way we came, at speed, not looking back, wounding me with how
much he’ fighting this. My heart thuds through my chest, stomach in knots as I watch him go, but I
remind myself that I’m not a girl who falls at the first hurdle, and I won’t give up.

If you change your mind, my door, for you, will always be open. I’m not giving up on us.

My mind link follows him out of sight, my heart aching harder the further he gets away, and I’m close to
tears but bite them back. Refusing to break down and be weak over this. Colton needs strength and I
‘m going to prove I have a lot of it.

I survived my family’s death and my makeshift pack’s. I’m tougher than I ever gave myself credit for,
and it’s time I started to own that.

I wait for what seems like an eternity of agonizing silence in the air, until he’s far out of reach
emotionally, and the sounds of his footsteps on wood have drifted hopelessly away. I almost break
down and cry when no response comes at all, desolate, and alone, when he delivers that one little ray
of hope.

I love you, Lorey. I won’t give up on us either.