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Chapter 16: Full

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With my feet damp from the grass and my heart pounding, I rush to the kitchen. "Maude?"

She and Elise are sitting at the table with a mug for each of them. Elise has a small plate of cookies, but she places the cookie in her hand back down when I appear breathless and dripping moon water.

"Unbutton me." I go to them and turn my back. "Hurry."

Maude stands at once, her chair screeching against the floor. "Is everything okay?" She asks, removing the shawl first.

"I-I think so."

I feel her tugging at the dress as she starts to unfasten each minuscule button.

"You finished the ceremony, didn't you?" Elise questions.

"We did—he told me to go upstairs."

Elise's blue eyes dilate. "Oh?"

I wring my waist as every second feels like a minute passing. Maude tries to work fast, but she starts to struggle. "Where is he?"

"I think he went to the study. Maybe for a drink—I don't know." I twist. "Is it stuck?"

Elise gets up. "Relax, okay? Were you splashed with moon water or caffine?"

I place my hand over my beating chest. "He kissed me, and he told me to go upstairs. So, that means... Doesn't it?" I think aloud.

Elise moves to Maude's side. "After you get her free, I think it's our cue to leave."

Maude continues fussing with the dress. "Maybe the Alpha should do this then."

"With those man hands?" Elise shakes her head. "These buttons are made for women's fingers."

Maude throws her hands down. "Well I'm getting frustrated and it's making me sloppy."

"Here, let me." Elise takes over, and the buttons start loosening.

I ask, "What do I do with the jewelry? Theo didn't get them from the house—I don't know where it's all from."

"Here," Maude says and unclasps the necklace, working over Elise. "Leave it all with me, and I'll keep it safe for the Alpha to put back tomorrow. All the family's jewelry is kept in a secure place just in case another pack targets the house."

I take the crown off my head with its chains of moonstones that pull strands of my hair with them, but luckily nothing is tangled. Maude handles the crown with steady hands as I remove the bracelets and hand them over also. She lays everything neatly on the counter for now.

"Last one," Elise mutters. "Okay, you're free!"

"Just put the gown on the armchair in the bedroom and I'll grab it tomorrow." She tells Elise, "Let's go before he comes looking for her."

"Thank you," I tell them. "I'll see you both tomorrow."

Maude and Elise go through the front door while I make my way upstairs with the dress' skirt bunched in my arms.

Unsure of how much time I have before Theo comes, the second I'm in the bedroom, I wiggle out of the sodden dress, put it on the chair by the dresser, and find pajamas suitable for the night of a Luna ceremony: a shiny thigh-length nightgown.

With the nightgown in my grasp, I briskly enter the washroom to ensure everything else about me still looks alright, but my gaze is too concerned with my underwear; he'll see it—take it off. My skin flushes, and I breathe deeper to calm my jittery nerves. Then I meet my eyes.

This was going to happen eventually, and the night of my ceremony seems as good a time as any. Perhaps the only way to conquer my uncertainty is to face this head-on.

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