Affair with the Alpha King
"They sure do look happy together, don't they?"
"What?" I ask, pulling myself out of the trance I had somehow crept into and looking at my friend.
Mabel shrugs. "Liam and Casey," she says, gesturing to the Alpha couple that walked side-by-side in the middle of the pack, surveying the preparations happening around them.
"They do," I say, forcing a smile onto my lips when Mabel looks at me. "They look tremendously pleased with one another."
Mabel quirks her eyebrow. "Sure..." she drones, handing me a long line of streamers. "You don't have to use long words to make your point clear, Adhi."
I scoff. "Long words?" I repeat. "I'm not using long words, Mabel. It's called being sophisticated."
"Sophisticated my ass," Mabel snaps, glaring down at me as she climbs up the wooden ladder I'm standing beside. "Hold the ladder steady, Adhira! If I fall, you're paying my medical bills."
"As if," I snort, but adhere to her command. I stand in front of the bottom of the ladder, gripping the two edges on either side to support Mabel as she climbs up to the posts holding the wooden circle above the pack square.
For as long as I can remember, we've always celebrated Red Moon Day.
It's a pretty simple holiday if I'm being quite honest. All we do is worship the red moon as it rises to its throne in the sky, beaming down on its loyal subjects, the werewolves. We dance and sing - play games and make fun. We also find our potential mates at exactly midnight, when the moon is the brightest for us. The Moon Goddess gives us her blessings through the power she emits at night, helping us seek out and profess to our one and only.
Or...at least, that's how the legend goes. Quite frankly, most wolves just celebrated Red Moon Day for the mating and the drinking. The legend and love behind the holiday slipped into the shadows as the years went by.
I didn't forget about the truth, though. I never forgot about the real Red Moon Day, the one I used to celebrate when I was a child - a mere pup. Every night on that night, while the new couples would dance with one another and the games would continue nonstop, I would gaze up at the moon, praying and wishing to the Moon Goddess that one day, I'd be the one dancing and swaying to the beat of the romantic tune with my mate - just the two of us in an endless swirl of haze and passion.
"Adhira!" Mabel calls loudly, bringing me once again away from my wonderful dream and into the harsh reality of the world. "A little help here?"
"With what?" I call back, cupping my mouth to enhance the sound of my voice. "I'm already busy with holding the ladder!"
"Throw me the streamers," Mabel says, dangling one of her arms from the edge of the ladder.
"And she says I'm paying her medical bills," I grumble, narrowing my eyes as I throw up a roll of pink streamers, watching as Mabel catches them with one hand.
"Nice," I shout. "Now hurry up and tape them already! I have my patrol soon!"
"Whatever you say, Beta," Mabel replies, already peeling off a long stretch of tape. I sigh, shaking my head. She's the reason we have to keep buying new rolls of tape, I realize, what with the size she rips off from the roll.
I gaze up at Mabel as she works, simply staring at my best friend. She and I have known each other ever since we were in diapers, playing with each other in our respective cribs. Mabel is also my sister's mate, so it helps that she lives close by. We see each other much more often now, and sometimes my sister complains that I steal Mabel away from her. I don't care, though, because I knew Mabel first. Without me, my sister never would have met her!
Speaking of my sister, Lia, I see out of the corner of my eye that she's walking towards me, a huge grin on her face as she does so. I shove down the groan that threatens to push out from my lips, rolling my eyes. Sometimes, Lia's like a tail to me. She's the older one, yet she's always trailing after me like some lost, silly puppy. It's weird, but after I while, I gave up on asking her about it. It's no use, after all. She won't give me a solid answer.
"Hey, Adhi," she says, giving me a brief hug. I let go of the ladder for a moment to return the gesture, keeping a close eye on it as it wobbles under Mabel's weight.
"Oi! Hands on the ladder! Not my mate!" Mabel yells, glowering at me, then at Lia.
"Whatever," Lia rolls her eyes, but does let me go back to holding the ladder. "How's my favorite sister doing?"
"Lia, I'm your only sister," I chuckle. "But I'm doing alright. I'm helping Mabel here get the decorations done for the Red Moon ceremony tonight."
"That's tonight?" Lia yelps, clapping her cheeks. "Damn! Time flew by fast, hasn't it?"
"Not exactly," I mutter, looking down at the grass underneath me. "It feels like it's going by too slowly."
"Eh, when you're older, you'll see how quickly time flies," Lia says, putting some of her weight on one side of the ladder. I look up, gazing at the streamers that blow gently in the wind. They look like octopus tentacles, I think, especially with their bright pink color.
"So," Lia begins. "Do you think you'll find your mate this year?"
I don't even look at her as I reply. "No."
"But why?" Lia's voice has taken on a whiny path. "Everybody who's mateless finds their mate on mating day, Adhi! Why do you keep trying to ignore yours?"
"I don't keep trying to ignore mine," I snap, narrowing my already thin eyes at her. "I just never have any luck finding him or her."
"What do you mean?" Mabel asks, sliding down the ladder. She jumps into Lia's open arms, kissing her so passionately that I have to look away as I answer.
"Every year, I get so excited for the mating day," I begin. "I dress up, put makeup on, and I even do my hair!"
"Good thing she does, too," Lia murmurs. "Cause her hair looks like a rat's nest."
"Hey!" I scowl. Lia and Mabel break out into snickers, but I only sigh, smiling ruefully.
"Sorry, sorry," Mabel says, wiping her eyes. She chortles, wheezing. "Continue."
"Right..." I say flatly, my eyes half-lidded with annoyance as I look at both of them laughing at my hair. "So, anyway, I look good and do my best, yet I never find my mate, no matter how hard I try to."
"Maybe your mate is in another pack?" Lia suggests.
"Maybe," I shrug. "In that case, I'll probably never know my mate."
"Why do you say that?" Mabel asks, her eyes drawn together in sympathy.
I bite my lip, rubbing my elbow. "Guys, I'm twenty-five already. I'm getting older. Plus, I'm the Beta. I have to be in the pack most of the time in case the Alpha King is busy."
"And with a wife like Casey, you'd better believe that he's busy as hell," Lia grumbles. Mabel nudges her with her elbow roughly, and Lia coughs.
"Sorry," she mutters.
"It's okay," I say. "I've stopped looking for my mate, honestly, because I don't get the point of it. I mean, I'm tired, guys. I have so much work as it is - having a mate would only bring more responsibility for me!"
"Mates are supposed to ease the amount of stress and responsibility you have, Adhi," Lia sighs. "Not bring more of it. Your mate would never do that to you!"
"And how do you know?" I clip.
"Because I do," Lia says firmly. "Adhira, any guy or gal would be lucky to be mates with you."
"Yeah!" Mabel chimes in. "You're smart, beautiful, and kind! You never fail to be on time and you always give your hundred percent, both in family life and work. Plus," she wiggles her eyebrows suggestively. "You are the Beta."
"Beta female, too," Lia adds. "The first Beta female ever. Who wouldn't want that."
I snort, rolling my eyes. "That's kinda like gold-digging," I say.
"Well, you do make a lot of moolah," Mabel says, rubbing her fingers together with a sly grin.
I laugh, tossing my head back. "I do," I chuckle. "But Liam makes more than I do."
"Liam makes more than anyone does," Mabel scoffs. "He's the Alpha King. Of course, he makes more money."
"I wonder just how much he makes," Lia murmurs thoughtfully.
"Technically, I make 100k an hour," Liam's bright, almost sly voice chirps from behind us. "Multiply that by ten, and you get how much I make a day. It's the same salary for all Alpha King's, ladies."
"Liam!" I exclaim, whirling around on my heel as I come face to face with my best friend. Liam grins at me, showing off his pearly white teeth.
"Adhi," he nods. "Mabel. Lia."
"Alpha King," both Mabel and Lia bow. I can't help but smirk to myself. Being Beta female and best friend to Liam has some perks to it, I decide.
"Chill guys," Liam says, chuckling. "I heard your voices from miles away - at least when you started to talk about me."
"Liam," I deadpan. "You stopped at the eastern border. We saw you. You weren't miles away from us."
"I know," Liam scoffs, scratching the back. "I was just trying to spice up my story, that's all."
"We know," Mabel chirps. She cranes her head to the side, frowning. "And speaking of spice..."
"Liam!" A woman's sing-song voice called. I groaned, and Liam visibly cringed.
"Casey," he muttered under his breath, forcing a smile onto his mouth. Mabel and Lia both beamed.
"Aww! Look how excited he is!" Mabel whispers, squealing. "They really are in love!"
"Sure..." I drawl with a roll of my eyes. I cross my hands over my chest, cocking my hip to the side as Casey nears us.
She goes directly to Liam, ignoring us as she places a large, sloppy kiss on his cheek. He closes his eyes, leaning an inch away from her.
"Casey," he says through gritted teeth. "Hey!"
"Where did you go?" Casey asks, drawing her finger up and down the muscle line poking through Liam's shirt. "One moment you were with me by the slides and the next-!" She gasps. "You were gone!"
"I...took a walk," Liam says. "I needed to speak to my Beta."
"Oh," Casey levels me with a disgusted look. "Hello, Adhira."
"Hi," I say quietly, bending my head. I may have the right to speak openly with Liam, but when it comes to Casey, all those rights vanish immediately.
"Are you done talking?" Casey asks, completely ignoring Mabel and Lia. "I need you to help me."
"Help you?" Liam's brow furrows. "With what?"
Casey tilts her head arrogantly to the side. "I just...need you," she says, her voice a low purr. It makes my stomach sick.
Liam looks like a deer in headlights, blushing madly. "Um...well...not right now, Casey," he stammers, taking my hand quickly. "You see - I need to do something with Adhira. We have...work stuff to do."
"Work stuff?" Casey quips, her eyes narrowing angrily. "And your work stuff is more important than your own wife?"
"I never said that," Liam defends. "I'm only saying that I have some...business to attend to. I promise, once I'm done, I'll come and...help you."
Casey stares at both of us for a moment, contemplative, them hmphs, taking Liam by the wrist and dragging him to the Alpha Palace.
"Wha-Hey!" Liam just barely manages to exclaim. "Casey!"
"No." She snaps. "I'm not waiting for you, Liam.
just has to be patient." She glowers at me as she speaks, stomping away.
Once they're both gone, disappearing into the house, Mabel is the first to speak.
"Well..." she says. "That was...eventful."
"Tell me about it," Lia murmurs, wrapping her arms around Mabel's shoulders. I watch them silently, my heart plummeting in my chest. Why can't I get something like that?
"Well, now that that's over with," Mabel grabs my wrist. "Come on!"
"What?" I ask, my eyes widening. "Where?"
"Where else?" Lia smirks, looking up at the darkening sky. "To get you ready for Red Moon Day."
"I don't understand this," I say, my eyes following Lia as she circles me twice, her lips pursed and her eyes focused on the hem of my dress.
"Don't understand what?" She asks, running her hand along the sparkly fabric that makes up the gown that I'm wearing.
"Why I have to dress up," I explain. "I'm the Beta, Lia. What if something happens out there tonight?"
"What's the worst that can happen, Adhi?" Lia shoots back at me. "A rogue attack?"
"Precisely," I say. "Or something happens to Liam or Casey. Then what? I can't fight in a dress."
"Actually, you can," Lia smirks. "A lot of Disney princesses do. Would you like me to name them?"
"No, thanks," I deadpan with a roll of my eyes. "I'm fine."
"Suit yourself," Lia shrugs. "But if you are interested -!"
I interrupt her. "Really, I'm not -!"
"Mulan fights in a dress," Lia continues on speaking, ignoring me. "Er, so does Cinderella, at least, in the third movie."
"She fights in a ripped gown," I point out, gesturing to the clothes that Lia took forever to fit me into. "This isn't a ripped gown."
"Would you like it to be?" Lia snaps, planting her hands on her hips in what I think is annoyance. "Because if you do, I can go complete stepsister on you right now and rip it up."
"You aren't even my stepsister," I chuckle. "But no, thanks. This already cost a fortune. I don't want you to be wasting any of it."
"See?" Lia's lips break out into a smile. "You're learning!"
I blink. "Learning what?"
"Not to mess with me." She flexes her arms. "I can be pretty intimidating when I want to be, don't you think so?"
"Hardly," I scoff under my breath. "But that's alright. I'll give you baby bonus points if it helps."
"Golly, what a nice sister," Lia sneers, but she's smiling still. She helps me down from the stool I had been standing on for what felt like hours and makes me sit on my desk chair. Whirling the chair around so that I'm facing her, she pulls out my makeup box from one of my vanity drawers, rummaging through the endless amounts of makeup I have in there.
"What are you doing?" I ask, squirming nervously in my seat.
"Looking for some makeup for you," Lia replies.
"Why not," she says, popping the cap of a lipstick tube. "Today's mating day. You have a chance of finding your mate tonight, Adhi."
"Yeah, right," I snort, rolling my eyes. "The day that happens, Lia, werewolves will be accepted among humans."
Lia scowls at me. "They're working on peace treaties as we speak," she says in a clipped tone, glaring softly at me from under her thick eyelashes. "So, technically, that day is today, whether you like it or not."
I sigh. "It's not the fact of if I want to have a mate or not - hell, Lia, I'm twenty-five! I'm more than ready to meet my mate!"
"So? What's stopping you?" Lia asks.
I bite my lip, pulling some of the dry skin off with my teeth. "Every year on mating day, I never find them. I told you earlier today," I say. "I'm just about ready to give up, honestly."
"You just have to keep looking, Adhi," Lia says. "Waiting around for some man or woman isn't going to help. Your life will just be moving along. Time doesn't wait for anybody."
"I know it doesn't," I snap, then immediately bite my tongue. "Sorry."
"No, it's alright," Lia smiles lopsidedly. "I would say I understand how you're feeling, but since I don't, I'll just stay quiet." She pretends to zip her lips, and I smile.
"Thanks," I laugh. I let her help me to my feet and into the flats, she had picked out for me earlier that day since both of us knew that I would only become a fish out of water if I wore high heels. "I'll take your advice, though."
"To keep looking," I reply. "I want my mate, Lia. I know that. You're right. I can't just sit around and wait for him or her to come to find me.
have to find them."
"Hell yeah, you do," Lia exclaims, clapping my shoulder roughly. I jolt, taking a step forward to balance myself, but I'm grinning like an idiot and I know it. It's as if suddenly, my heart is soaring. I'm excited now, bouncing on my toes. And even if I don't find my mate today, I'm going to make sure to have a blast at the party Liam and I took so much time out of our day to make happen.
"What's with the giddy smile?" Mabel's voice asks from the hallway. She's grinning at me, her eyes darting from my frame to Lia's. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Lia smile, drifting over to her mate and placing a chaste kiss on her lips.
"You look gorgeous," I hear her murmur.
Mabel puts her finger on my sister's lips, pushing her away gently. "So do you," she whispers. "But let's save this for later, okay?"
"Oh, please do," I say, smirking. "As much as I love both of you, I'd really like to not see your public display of affection, especially in front of me."
"Jealous much, Adhi?" Mabel teases.
"Only a little," I tease back, pinching two of my fingers close together. Mabel shrugs.
"Well, tonight's the night," she says, jumping in one spot like a child who's being given candy. "Who knows what'll happen?"
"That's what I was just telling her, babe," Lia says, wrapping her arm around my shoulder. "My sis here's gotta be confident in herself. She'll find the right guy or gal, we just gotta be patient."
"That's true," Mabel nods. She runs her gaze up and down my frame, smiling. "Did you look at yourself in the mirror yet, Adhira?"
"No..." I frown. "Why? Does this not look good?"
"Maybe you should see that for yourself," Lia says, gesturing with her hand to the long mirror standing right beside my vanity.
With my lips pressed together, I make my way to the mirror, a gasp leaving my lips once I'm able to catch a glimpse of myself. The long, silky white dress and silver embroidery make it look like I'm getting married, which only serves to make my eyes tear up. My hair is pinned back in a braided bun with sparkling jewels embedded into the braid. The sleeves of my gown stop midway down my arm and make frills around my elbow. My shoes even tap every time I take a step closer to the mirror.
"Wow..." I press my hand daintily to my lips so that I don't ruin the lipstick there. "I look...like a princess..."
"I think the word you should be saying is beautiful," Mabel chuckles. She nudges Lia's arm. "Or rather, what Liam will be saying."
I roll my eyes. "Oh, not this again, you guys."
"What?" Lia sound appalled, if not, a bit offended. She presses her hand to her chest. "We're only saying the truth! Is it wrong to be honest these days?"
"No," I say. "But Liam's married, you guys. We won't even be dancing with one another."
"That's what you think," Mabel says with a wiggle of her eyebrows. "But I'm sure Liam has other plans."
I cross my arms over my chest as heat blooms in my heart, like a fire igniting. "Let's just get this over with," I snap, tugging at my sleeves.
Lia and Mabel exchange smirks with one another. "Yes, let's," they say.
"This is nice, isn't it?" Mabel murmurs, sipping some of her Sprite. We're both standing at the back of the party, close to the refreshments table. Lia is busy talking to Yvan, Mabel's brother, so Mabel and I find food to be our main entertainment until she returns.
"It is," I agree, taking a bite out of the tiny party snack I had snatched from one of the waiters, although I was unsure as to what exactly I was eating. It looked like a mini sandwich, but it tasted sweet, if not, slightly sour as well.
"Don't you want to go dance, Adhira?" Lia asks, joining back into our conversation.
I regard Liam and Yvan as they chat with one another at the far end of the dance floor. They laugh and clap each other's shoulders, and just as Yvan is leaving, Liam turns, catching me staring at him. I squeak, feeling heat rise to my cheeks in embarrassment, but Liam only waves, winking at me.
"Maybe soon," I mumble, looking down at my shoes, trying to shove my embarrassment down and out of my body as quickly as possible. Great, now he knows I was looking at him. What's he going to think? That I was waiting for him to finish talking to Yvan? Or maybe that I was stalking him? Oh, dear Lord, I hope not.
"Yeah, considering the fact that Liam is walking straight towards us," Lia states dryly.
"What?" My head shoots up comically, like in an animated movie. I whirl around on my heel again, and true enough, Liam is pushing his way through the crowd and towards the tiny group we've made. He has a frown on his lips, though, so I can only guess that it's to get away from Casey, who's probably not too far behind him.
"Yep," Mabel grins wickedly. "And now, if you don't mind, dear Beta, but Lia and I will be going to dance," she says just as the music turns soft and sultry. Lia shrugs apologetically at me, but I know she doesn't mean it as she willingly lets Mabel drag her towards the dance floor.
And Lia hates dancing!
"Adhira," Liam's cool, deep voice vibrates in my ear and sends a flurry of shivers down my spine.
"Liam," I reply after taking a deep breath, composing myself as I meet his eyes. They're dark and alert, like a predator waiting to pounce on his next meal. Then again, Liam's eyes are always like that. He has to be - he's an Alpha, after all.
"I see Mabel and Lia left you on your own," he says, smirking.
"Yeah, they did," I shrug. "But it's alright. I'll just..." I glance at the food beside me. "Eat, I guess."
Liam's lip quirks. "Eat? That sounds like quite a boring activity to do during a party," he says. His eyes trail down from my face and I hear his breath hitch as his gaze drowns deeper and deeper down with my gown.
"What is it?" I ask, raising my eyebrow.
"Nothing." He shakes his head. "Er, well, actually..."
I glance at the dancing behind us, then back at him. "Actually...?" I prodded.
Liam fingers his suit collar. "Would you like to dance?" He asks.
I blink. "You dance?" I ask.
He blushes, bending his head bashfully. "Yes," he admits quietly. "I don't do it often, which is probably why I'm guessing that you're asking?"
"Well, yes, actually," I say, appalled. I'm still staring with my eyes widened. "I just...Alphas don't usually dance, so..."
"Who told you that?" Liam frowns.
I shrug. "My dad was an Alpha. He told me," I explain.
Liam nods. "Ah, right. Yeah..." he scratches the back of his head. "Most Alpha's really don't dance, especially your dad, Alpha Gavin. He never was a dancer."
I laugh. "Tell me about it," I chuckle.
Liam grins, offering me his hand. "So...about that dance?"
"You still want me to dance with you?" I ask, cocking my hip to the side and crossing my arms over my chest. "I'm warning you - I may stomp over your feet."
"That's a risk I'm willing to take," Liam says, still smiling.
For some reason, I feel my heart beating much faster than it usually is. My knees are firm, but my breathing staggers, just from the way that he's looking at me. He's never looked at me so calmly before - his eyes filled with an emotion I can't completely comprehend.
I take his hand, beaming. "I would love to dance with you," I say, sparks dancing along my skin as our touch deepens.
Liam's eyes soften and he intertwines our fingers, pulling me onto the dancefloor. Wolves make a circle around us, allowing Liam to lead me to the center of the dancefloor as he spins me around, making my dress twirl around me.
"Did I tell you how beautiful you look in your dress?" He asks, winking again at me.
I scoff. "Not yet. I was actually waiting for you to say that," I shoot back, grinning.
He laughs, twirling me again. "You always have an answer for me, don't you, Adhi?"
"Always," I agree, placing my palms hesitantly on his chest, unsure at first where I should put my hands until Liam guides them to the lapels of his suit.
"Are you afraid to touch me, Adhi?" He asks suddenly, just as the music lowers.
"What?" I tilt my head. "No, why?"
Liam shrugs. "You seem kind of...hesitant to touch me now," he says, hunching a little. "Are you embarrassed?"
"A...little," I admit, biting my lip. I take a step back, and he takes a step forward, guiding me in the waltz we're dancing to. "I mean, you are married, after all..."
"Being married isn't an excuse for my best friend to be embarrassed for touching me," Liam snaps. "I want you to be comfortable with me, Adhi. Just like we used to be."
"We were kids, Liam," I point out. "We didn't know the difference between right and wrong back then." I see him tense, and just to placate him, I tighten my grip on his suit, and immediately, his jaw slackens.
"I know," he whispers, so softly I'm unsure at first if he spoke or not. "We were so naive back then."
I scoff. "Very," I say, chuckling. "But it was fun."
He nods. "It was. To this day, just remembering everything we did is fun."
"It is..." I trail off, catching Casey scowling at me out of the corner of my eye. She glares daggers at me when our gazes meet, and quickly, I look away. I don't know if she stays standing there or goes off, but before I can figure out what she's going to do, a bloody, beaten wolf staggers over to Liam, shoving through the crowd to get to the Alpha King. Gasps flood the couples dancing and I feel my shoulders tighten.
"Craig!" Liam exclaims. He grips the boy's shoulders while I help Craig to the ground, laying him down gently. "What happened?"
"Rogue..." Craig manages to wretch. "There's a rogue at the border!"
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