Chapter 23

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A startling noise woke Aylin in the wee hours of the morning. Going over to the window, at the edge of the forest was a face she preferred not to see. Peering around the surrounding area, there was no sign of the warriors. Not Quill, Angus, or anyone. Looking at her sleeping mate, and knowing that her first mate was outside, it was clear that avoiding the subject was not going to work. 

Throwing on Ezekiel's t-shirt, she quietly made her way downstairs. There was no one in the house. "They must be on patrol," she whispered to herself. 

Making her way to the splintered back door, Daemon was still standing in place, waiting for her. Aylin was hesitant. The looming threat of Ezekiel waking up, and seeing them together was hanging over her head. Their link was broken, and they couldn't communicate anymore, since they were no longer the same pack. 

Taking a deep breath, she opened the door, stepping out into the darkness. Stopping at the edge of the patio, Aylin refused to move any further. "What do you want, Daemon?" 

"You didn't let me talk-"

"What's the point? You made your choice, now I've made mine." Aylin was confident in her words, so much so that the Alpha was taken aback. 

"You've changed," he remarked. 

Scoffing at him, she crossed her arms in front of her. "Is there a point to all of this? Let me remind you, there is a sleeping Alpha, and King in this house. Be quick." 

His shoulders dropped slightly. "I didn't want to reject you, Aylin. I swear it; I was under pressure to choose a mate that was strong, smart-"

"You mean you were pressured to choose a mate who wasn't a disgrace to the pack? Don't lie to me, Daemon. I'm not stupid. You think I don't know what these wolves think of me? You think I don't know that they see me as some sort of leper, a useless waste of space? Oh, I know it all. So don't stand there, and tell me lies, and bullshit." Aylin's chest was heaving in anger, fists clenched. "It's too late now. I love Ezekiel, and he loves me. Go back to your whore, we're done here." 

Laying her hand on the sliding door, Daemon's voice rang out. "What happened to the quiet, shy girl? What happened to you, Aylin?" 

Turning back to him, tears in her eyes, she spoke nothing but truth to the Alpha. "You broke me." 

Walking into the kitchen, Aylin aimlessly looked in the refrigerator for something to eat. Unsuccessful there, she opened the cupboard when thundering footsteps came down the stairs. "I'm in the kitchen, Zeke." Finding double stuffed Oreo's, Aylin shoved one in her mouth. Ezekiel walked in the kitchen, visibly distressed. "What's wrong?"

"You weren't in bed." 

"I was hungry." Offering him the package, she smiled sweetly at him. "Want one?" She was gauging his expression, hoping she could get away with the brief interaction with Daemon. 

Taking one, he side-eyed her for a moment. "Did you have another nightmare?" 

"No, I was just hungry. You, Mr. Alpha, prevented me from eating," she joked, smacking his chest. "That's probably why none of the boys are here."

"Let's go back to bed." Nodding, she put the Oreo's back in the cupboard, when she felt two large hands on her waist. Immediate shivers went down her spine. "What're you doing?" she asked, her voice wavering. 

Burying his nose in her hair, Aylin could feel Ezekiel's chest rumble against her back. "That smell," he murmured. "It's familiar." 

A brief moment of panic set in. Thinking quick, she turned around in his arms, placing a small kiss on his chest. "I'm sure you're just imagining things. Come on, let's go to bed." 

Taking his hand, Aylin started toward the stairs, but was halted when Ezekiel didn't move. Gazing at his features, there was mistrust laced through. "Are you going to tell me the truth?" Retracting his hand from hers, he crossed his muscled arms across his chest. 

Sighing in resignation, Aylin knew that she was caught. There was no way to talk her way out of the situation. Taking a few steps back, she sat on the steps, and took a deep breath. "I heard something outside, and when I looked outside, Daemon was there." Instantly, Ezekiel's eyes darkened. "Rather than cause a scene tomorrow, possibly, I came down and spoke to him for a moment. He was trying to apologize, but I cut him off, and came inside. The part about being hungry was true, though." The meager attempt at humor, didn't make Ezekiel laugh. After a few more moments of deafening silence, Aylin stood before her mate. "Goddamnit, say something, Zeke. Please." 

'Mate is furious,' Kaia remarked.

'Don't help,' Aylin sniped back.

Pinching his nose in frustration, Ezekiel turned his back on his mate. "He wanted to apologize?" A scoff left him, as he turned back to her. "What kind of bullshit is that?" 

Confused, Aylin cocked her head to the side. "Huh?" 

"If that motherfucker wanted to apologize, he should have done it a long ass time ago. I swear to the Goddess, he is such a worthless piece of shit. And to come here in the middle of the ni-"

Putting her hands up, Aylin silenced Ezekiel. "Wait, a minute here. You mean you aren't angry at me?" 

Taking a large step toward his small mate, he wrapped his arms around her small frame. "Of course not. You didn't do anything wrong. In fact, you were right to cut him off, and not accept his bullshit apology. You faced him, your first mate, and told him to fuck off. I'm proud of you." Dipping down to kiss her forehead, Aylin smiled. Pausing for a moment, Ezekiel looked her in the eyes. "I don't want us to have secrets between us." 

"Now, can we go to bed?" 

Chuckling, he nodded. 

"Race ya!" Aylin teased, pushing him as hard as she could. Bolting away, a distinct growl was heard behind her. 

"I'm coming for you, little wolf," Ezekiel teased back.

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