Prologue-ish*Amos POV

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The pack elders tell me how great it is to have a mate. They say that the love you feel for your mate, the love I will one day feel for my mate, is indescribable.

I'm told that once I find my mate, I will know how they feel, what it's like to love and be loved by somebody so immensely. That sounds good enough to me.

Somebody for forever.

Sounds amazing, doesn't it? Never having to question somebody's devotion to you, never worrying about being left for someone better, because to your mate... you are the best there is. Once I find mine, I'll never let go.

I've heard the stories, we've all heard the stories. The horrible tales of wolves who have been rejected. I've seen it first hand.

8 years ago, when I was 10, a man in my pack, an 18 year old, like I am now--18 being the age werewolves can begin to search for and, hopefully, successfully find their mate-- found his mate. He was ecstatic, as was I, for him, as was the rest of the pack.

A pack is a family. A source of support, love, protection, and care. Every time a pack member finds their mate, a huge celebration is thrown.

Food, cold beverages, music, dancing, balloons and confetti. All the makings of a good family-friendly party. We all celebrate the new addition to the pack, whether they be male, female, black, white, old, young, that didn't matter. That doesn't matter. Every mate and member is accepted and appreciated.

Back to what I was saying. This man in my pack had found his mate. His mate was a werewolf, so she already knew the protocol. She told him the two magic words once he asked the question "Do you accept me as your mate?"

"I accept."

Two words that mean everything. Two words that she spoke. Two words that she didn't mean. Two words that should've put everything together, but when spoken as a lie, tore everything apart.

His mate didn't accept, not really. She told him she did, the words that promise to never leave except by death.

It was similar to the phrase humans use in marriages, 'til death do us part. For werewolves, the "I accept" is thousands of times stronger and more meaningful. Usually. For his mate it was just an opportunity to get into the pack, try to turn some against us, and take all our money, weapons, everything.

Of course, my pack isn't stupid, we caught on early enough that she couldn't do any real damage, except to her mate.

After she was violently interrogated, because, let's face it, you don't try to screw over a pack of weres and come out looking the way you did, she admitted that she she had lied when she accepted him.

She told him that she rejected him, "I reject."

After that, he went sour. He was furious at himself, thinking he wasn't good enough, angry at her for lying, pissed at the rest of us for not noticing a traitor sooner. After months of screaming, crying, wishing for his death to come quickly to stop the pain that resonates inside a rejected werewolf, he left one day and didn't return.

Search parties were sent out day after day, and several weeks later, we found out that he had tracked her down, slaughtered her, and then shot himself with a silver bullet. He couldn't take the pain of the rejection and the betrayal anymore, so he ended the pain.

It was horrible for all of us, especially my family and me. That man, the one who was in so much agony that he felt he had to end his life and the life of another, was my older brother.

The day I found out about his death, at the age of 10, is the day I vowed to myself to never let my mate go once I find them. A vow I don't intend on breaking. Ever.

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