Chapter 24: I Don't Know
That quietens me into submission, and I don’t fight him. Colton leads the way, grasping my hand and
tugs me with him through the hall. It’s busy, filled with Santos coming and going from the mess hall, in
all states of sports attire as training started today, and everyone seems to either be rushing about or
completely immobile in groups, chatting. There’s a sense of confusion with some, urgency with others,
and a holiday vibe with a more. I guess some don’t realize the seriousness of why everything has
changed, and some are overwhelmed with anxiety and rushing around doing whatever they’re told with
prompt action. It’s chaotic, and overwhelming, and I close down and allow him to lead me through.
Colton takes me away from the swarm of moving groups and heads towards the corridor to the
communal room on this floor. He walks fast and I fall in step obediently. It only takes a silent minute to
turn into the passage and head down towards the room where everything seems strangely hushed.
As soon as he hits the digits on the keypad, the door clicks open and the lights flicker on. I blink at the
change from dull to bright and follow him inside quietly, waiting for him to move me in and shut the
door. He locks it behind us, and it only adds to the tension rising inside of me that he clearly doesn’t
want anyone else to eavesdrop.
He motions for me to sit, his manner different, Mr. serious on show in the form of the commander that
came here last night and heads to the bar. He pulls it open and grabs two sodas for us before coming
back and choosing to sit on the floor in front of my armchair. He hands me a can once he opens it for
me, and opens his own, taking a long drink before saying anything. I can tell he’s delaying this,
regaining composure, or turning something over in his mind and I wait, patiently. Perched in the seat a
little stiffer than I should be, cradling my drink between my hands.
It’s something he thinks I should know, so I’m not going to hurry him. Trying to scan my memories in
the long pause between us, but it’s such a jumble when it comes to his mother, of snips and bits of
conversations, that I don’t get a clear understanding of where she is. It’s been something I noticed but I
assumed it held no real importance in the grand scheme of things.
“She’s not here.” He points out blankly as though reading my thoughts, after a moment of staring at his
own can. I don’t recognize his raw, raspy voice, and the strangled way the words come out, telling me
this is more painful than he can bear. “I haven’t seen her for nine years.”
It’s not the answer I expected, and I gawp, heart skipping a beat, my eyes widening with surprise and I
have no words at all. Head trying to pull that together and wondering if I missed some sort of public
announcement that the Santo Luna had left the mountain that long ago, I mean, I was still a kid. This
was something the people had a right to know. I just didn’t realize it had been that long, almost a
decade without our Luna.
“She’s in a…. place, sort of…… care home, I guess. A medical facility. Has been since a few weeks
after they came home from the war.” He leans forward so his gaze is more heavily focused on the floor,
yet I catch the glow of amber before he tilts away, enough that I can only see the top of his head. His
emotions spiraling out and consuming me as I feed on his despair. My stomach clenches with it.
“Why?” I can sense his distancing emotionally, in a bid to stop me feeling his pain, cutting off to save
me, and I can tell it’s because this causes him a mass amount of it. I still get a huge wave of grief,
regardless, not too dissimilar to how I felt when my parents never returned. He isn’t pushing me away
because he’s ashamed, this is something that rips him up inside and he’s aware he can’t control the
“Her mind’s broken. My mom never came home as the person she left. She isn’t who she was, and my
father said it’s because she wasn’t strong enough to endure the horrors of the war. That it was too
much, and she faded away. She doesn’t talk, or move, or do anything anymore. He said she stares into
nothing and it’s like her body lives on, but her soul’s gone.” He chokes on the words, his eyes glazing
over, and it slices my stomach in response.
It winds me, my insides clenching up with the gravity of what he said, and I stay sat in mute silence
staring at him, trying to get my head around that. Figuring out what I’m meant to say to that. Mental
illness in wolves is rare, considering we can magically heal everything inside of us when we turn, even
“He sent her away… my own mom, his own mate. Cast her aside because her condition could hurt the
pack. Show how weak she was, and unworthy as a Luna, and cause them to doubt his command. He
won’t tell me where she is because he knows I would go to her and he doesn’t want me to. He says it
would scar me. That it would crush me.” Colton stares at the can in his hand, exhaling heavily as he
deflates and seems so lost and young in this moment. A little boy pining for the mother he can never
It’s starting to click in place, even if Colton doesn’t see it himself. He doesn’t realize the link between
him rejecting me for not being what the pack needs, and the fact his mom fell at the same hurdle.
Maybe in his head it’s messy and all jumbled up and he doesn’t really see it, but I do. It’s not just his
father’s command holding him back, it’s a deep-rooted fear that maybe I wouldn’t be able to handle
things either. I’ve never heard of wolves breaking down this way and I can’t even imagine what she
must have seen to end up a shell of a person who abandoned all she loved. Locked in her own mind,
silently, and eternally adrift.
The Luna, she’s meant to be the gentle touch of her people. Her focus is on the young and vulnerable,
while her alpha mate is the strength and protection of the many. Our Luna is not here, and for ten years
her weakest have suffered under his command. Her absence the sole reason of my kind were pushed
aside and forgotten. She would never have allowed the orphans to be cast out; it’s the job of a Luna, to
maternally protect the young, the innocent, the unloved. It all makes so much more sense now.
Juan’s focus is all about keeping the pack powerful and promoting unity among the strongest. He isn’t
interested in the weak and condemned them to the dark side, so he didn’t have to take on his mate’s
role and care for them. He even sent his own away because she failed to fit his expectations, that’s
how power hungry he is.
No wonder Juan has become so much colder and crueler. His softer voice of reason, who could sway
with her bond to him, has been gone for years and offers no conflict to the decisions he makes. Only a
mate is truly allowed to argue, sway, dispute openly, or try and reason with an alpha, without real
backlash or punishment. He rules with aggression now, and logic, and has no tender care for anyone
who isn’t worthy. Her warm eye on her people is missing, and her heart in their wellbeing, it’s why so
many of us were pushed out.
“He didn’t even let me say goodbye… he said it was for the best. Just had her moved and didn’t tell me
until she was gone. I feel like he’s ashamed of her for being weak.” Colton’s voice croaks a little, his
emotions pushing through despite him trying to shield them, and it pains me to feel that kind of broken
anguish. He was her only child, and from what I can feel, they loved one another deeply, as a mother
and son should. It’s an almost unbearable pain as it swarms me, but I can relate. I knew this pain and
have grieved with the same intensity. It’s the mourning of a parent’s death, even if he hasn’t lost her to
“And that’s why he hates me, because he thinks I’m the same.” I point out, watching for the reaction on
his face, his eyes still glowing amber as he stares at the floor over his crossed legs, unable to look me
in the eye when caught in despair. I think Colton is ashamed of being so broken by this, another pointer
of Juan’s parenting skill. Colton has been lacking a mother’s touch for half his life. The most important
years while he was forming. The one who should’ve nurtured and softened him after he was forced into
battles as a child, taught him not to blindly follow his father in the way he does, and instilled the
strength to be his own alpha. That was the Luna’s job as his mother. He’s been at his father’s mercy for
years, baring down on him, and conditioning his outlook without restraint, it’s any wonder Colton’s as
caring as he is and not more like Juan. Teaching him the cruelest of lessons about loyalty and
compassion to your mate, and the unimportance of love.
He discarded her as weak and put her somewhere to rot, because he was shamed by her inability to
handle what was thrown at her. He chose the good of the pack, over the mate he was destined to care
for. No wonder Colton is screwed up. His role model, and moral guide, taught him that love is
secondary to duty and his heart has no value in what his decisions should be. It taught him that to love
is not enough, that to imprint is not an excuse, that the pack must always be the priority even if it goes
against his own needs.
“He just wants to protect me from the heartache he’s endured. A mate in bond who still plagues his
mind, but it’s like she’s dead. I don’t think he goes to wherever she is anymore as he hasn’t left this
place for more than five years.” He shrugs with one shoulder, glancing to the side of us as a tear rolls
down his cheek and I can tell he feels awkward at showing that kind of softness, probably hearing his
father in his head, sneering and scolding him for it. Wolves are macho and men they try not to cry
much. Juan probably chastises him for any kind of compassion, empathy, or show of care in this way.
Impulsively I slide from my chair and mirror his pose on the floor in front of him, so our knees touch and
we sit face to face. My hand sliding to cover his thigh, and I lean in, heart exploding with the need to
console him. My own mind racing with many thoughts and reasons and explanations and seeing not a
strong dominant alpha before me, but a scared young boy who wants to let go of the choices that are
too hard for him to make on his own. In so many ways, he’s still that eight-year-old kid who went from
joyous ceremonial turning, to battle worn warrior in the space of a year.
“I’m not her. This isn’t about us.” I point out, knowing that somewhere deep inside he has those doubts.
He saw my gifts coming through, he’s started to really know me, and I hope he can see that as
vulnerable as I may appear, there’s a strength in me. The vampire attack it hurt me, left my heart
weeping for those I’ve lost, left me with horrible dreams and a fear of the dark shadows, but it didn’t
crush me. Neither did the loss of all I held dear when I was only eight years old.
He needs to know that this situation might have a completely different outcome to his mom’s and that
what happened to her, is so rare, I never knew it could before he told me.
“It doesn’t matter what I think. If I believe you’re stronger than her or not. He thinks I’m blinded by the
bond and he doesn’t trust my judgement. How can I know if he’s right or wrong, when I’m so inanely in
need of you it pushes logic out no matter how I reason? He’s right in the fact that our people need a
future leader with a strong Luna by his side, but he can’t accept that you’re her. And I don’t think my
heads clear enough to know without my heart always changing it.”
I get the full whack of his confusion and despair as he lets go of the floodgates he’s been holding back,
and I’m swamped instantly with the chaos that’s been living inside of him since that night. It’s
overwhelming, and I am drowned with the urge to sob, tear my heart out, wail, kick someone and
scream all at the same time. I have to cling on, like I’m on a rickety raft on a turbulent sea as his
emotions devour me and almost snap me mentally with the force of such chaos. I breathe through the
surge, until it settles inside of me and calms enough to reel my thoughts and breathing into calmer
waves. Rationale pulling my brain to him.
“Tell me honestly…. Deep down in your gut, your instinct, without questioning it, just impulsively
answer; do you think I’m capable of being that Luna?”
I need to know his true feelings without his foggy mess coloring it. Need to understand what our future
really holds. If he really believes I’ll be wrong for his people, deep in his heart, then I know, no amount
of time together, kissing, or even sex, will sway him from doing what’s right. His father’s a voice in his
head and his mom is a shining example of the result if he chooses wrongly. His people matter more
than I ever gave him credit for, and his head is full of the vampire wars that are going to start all over
again. If he does believe in us, then I can’t let him stray down this path without a fight.
He’s afraid of having me, only to lose me to a broken mind when our world’s turned upside down, or
maybe even death, which ends us both. His father’s filling his head with all of this doubt and it’s all so
very clear now why he’s struggling with what he should do.
There’s a part of him who’s strong enough to defy his father if he chose to, I was wrong about that, I
see that now. He swayed him over the villagers and their coming here under force.
It’s Colton’s own insecurity over whether he can put his feelings aside and make a right choice, not just
for his people, but for us, that’s screwing him up. He’s terrified of what might happen to me if he puts
me in a place that his mom was, carrying the burden of many, riding into battle ahead of the hordes,
and expecting me to mentally hold myself, and them, together as a Luna should. He’s overthinking all
the possibilities, with many others whispering in his ear. The men who are wiser, older, powerful in our
midst. This is way more complex and it all feels so hopeless. It’s not just about a wolf deciding on a
mate… it’s so much more hanging in the balance. He’s our future, where all eyes lay to lead us when
Juan no longer does.
“I’m not going to lie… I don’t know.” He flinches as the words spill out, screwing up his face and
hunching down in disappointment at his own inability to even answer that without confusion.
I can’t even be mad at that, because I’ve no idea what’s coming with this war, or what his mom went
through ten years ago, but he does. He fought on our lands as a warrior, defended us from smaller
invasions, as an adult should even though he was only a child. He’s seen the reality of what’s coming
and still bears the scars.
I think I have the strength and courage to deal with it, but maybe I’m just a child with a stubborn head,
and a foolish heart, who thinks the fates would never steer her wrong. Maybe I’m the delusional one,
grasping at hopes and being ridiculous. I have no words and my hand slides back into my lap with the
weight of realization punching me in the gut. Screwing me up emotionally, mentally, and physically.
“Now do you understand? …. Love, it’s not the issue. I’m yours, heart and soul, every beat just for you.”
Colton reaches for my hand, enveloping mine in his, but failing to warm the icy cold seeping through
me with his touch. A sad desperation in the air as I nod hopelessly, accepting the real truth as it
stretches endlessly between us, like a gulf we can never cross. Head filled with so much, and yet my
heart empty, desolate, as numb overtakes me to save me from the pain it can’t deal with.
There isn’t an answer to this, a way out, a ray of hope in the dark. The fates, they should never have let
any of this happen to either of us. I love him, but I’m not enough.