The moment she opened the door, she was not surprised to see Mrs. Linda's icy glare as she regarded her. She sneered at Raven, "What do you think you are doing still sleeping by this time? Do you think you are a VIP or something?" She gave a contemptuous hiss as she turned around and stepped away.
Raven watched her as she left, not in any way surprised by her rude attitude. It has always been like that in the pack. There were ranks, and the lowest in the pack did not have the privilege to be treated as anything important.
Not to mention, Raven was the lowest of them all. She was the daughter of the abominable traitors in the pack. Raven sighed as she recalled the past. She was just 13 years old when her parents were suddenly declared traitors and officially condemned.
Her life went from all roses to hell at that same moment, and she had no idea how it all came to be. All she knew was that one moment, she was a regular teenage werewolf attending the pack school, and then the next moment, she was the lowest member of the pack and the slave which everyone ridiculed.
But everything was going to end today - hopefully. She was turning 18 today and hopefully would meet her mate. She was anxious as hell and also anticipated what the encounter would be like.
She couldn't help it. She had been at the lowest point for so long that she had placed all her hopes on meeting her mate and hoped he was one of the important members of the pack.
One thing about the packs in the werewolf territory was that the moment one was exiled or left their pack, they would never be accepted in any other pack and would be treated as a rogue and hunted from time to time. She had once thought of escaping the pack and all the hardship, but she was also quite well aware of the suffering waiting outside.
So she had her fingers crossed, hoping for a mate that would be able to protect her from the suffering in the pack. As she thought of this, she had already reached the entrance of the kitchen.
Mrs. Linda was in there with a tall and slender figure, which Raven was quite familiar with standing across her. It was one of the betas and the future Luna of the pack, Nadia. She was Raven's most hated person in the pack. They both hated each other's guts. However, unlike Nadia, Raven was never able to express her hatred knowing Nadia was totally out of her league.
As Raven stepped in, the two women looked toward her, not even attempting to disguise their supposed contempt for her. Raven, however, managed to mask her expression and greeted both of them to avoid getting picked on for the most unreasonable reasons.
"Good morning, beta. Good morning, Chef Linda."
Nadia didn't bother to answer. However, Mrs. Linda snorted, "What's that good about the morning?"
Raven didn't answer and merely lowered her head, focusing on her tasks. She had transformed the night before and met her wolf, Sage, for the second time, so she had her fingers crossed in anticipation of meeting her mate. And she was not about to let just anything get in the way of her freedom.
The two ladies saw that she didn't pay them attention and soon dispersed.
"Now, that's a whole lot of people," Theo said as he stood by one of the pillars of the main pack house, watching the crowd trooping toward the field where the coming-of-age ceremony would be held.
I also looked over and nodded in agreement as I folded my arms.
"Aren't you going over?" I asked, giving him a side glance. He was, after all, one of the social butterflies of the pack.
"I am. Later on." He gave me a scrutinizing look. "You're not coming, are you?"
I looked back at the train of people before answering, "I am. Today is my coming of age, too."
"I know." He clasped his palms and looked at me. "How was it?"
"Successful," I reiterated with a small smile. Of all the things going around the pack, transforming earlier that day was the best thing that could ever happen to me. Sage was a beautiful wolf; she was brownish with a few specks of black in her fur and on her forehead.
My only concern was that when I looked into the water and saw her reflection, she seemed a little smaller than normal wolves. But that shouldn't be a concern, should it?
"What's her name?"
A smile formed on my lips. "Sage."
"Hmm. That sounds like a nice name. So you're expecting to meet your mate?"
I fell silent at his sudden deviation of a topic, feeling a little sheepish. Sure, Theo and I were rather close, and unlike the other members of the pack, he at least treated me well.
But regardless, I couldn't possibly fill him in with details of my attempt to find a prominent man as a means to escape the torture of the pack.
But I nodded anyway. "Yes, I am. Aren't you?"
"I'm not sure." He sighed. For some reason, I could feel frustration reeling off him in bulk. It had been three years since Theo's coming of age, but he still hadn't found his mate, and I could tell he was very anxious.
"If I don't meet her tonight," he suddenly quipped after a long minute of silence. "I might have to leave the pack. My parents are trying to get me to marry Elder Luke's daughter, and they're rather insistent."
I knew all about that and what had gone down. His parents had given him a three-year ultimatum to find his mate. Otherwise, he would have to marry Sierra, one of the daughters of the elders in the pack.
"You will. Hopefully." I smiled, giving him a pat on the shoulder for reassurance. But I knew I was also trying to reassure myself.
He also smiled back and breathed out. "Let's join them. Who knows, we might hit the jackpot?"
And then, both of us walked into the crowd of people now gathering around the lit bonfire and gyrating. Everyone seemed full of joy as always, but as I stared at them, I felt that familiar sense of alienation.
I would never fit in here.
After the party, I returned to the pack house, half tired and half dejected. I hadn't even caught a whiff of my mate. I had heard from Theo countless times that when wolves find their mate, they would be able to make out their scents even from far away and be attracted to them. But in my case, there was nothing of such.
Speaking of Theo, he had surprisingly found his mate. It was Layla, the daughter of the pack doctor,
who was also eighteen today. It was unexpected not too far out of reach as I had always noticed the vibe between those two. We just hadn't expected it to take three years for them to find themselves. He had gone off after that with his new mate, unable to contain his excitement.
I was happy for him but also jealous. It would be a lie if I said I hadn't hoped Theo would be my mate. He was a fighter wolf and was also the son of one of the elders. And he was also my friend. In all ways, he was better than someone who would possibly not treat me well even if I was their mate.
As I walked toward the house, I felt a sudden whiff hit my nostrils, and I couldn't help breathing in the scent. It was a sharp and harsh woody scent, which I wasn't familiar with even though I had been in the pack for so long. But that was hardly my cup of tea as I ignored it and geared forward.
"Lucas, we need to talk," I suddenly heard someone say as I stepped onto the porch.
The voice was familiar, and I could immediately tell who it belonged to. It was Nadia, and by the looks of it, the person she was talking with was the Alpha, Lucas.
I found myself pausing in my steps. Those two were the combo anyone would never wish for. Nadia was outright hateful and would do anything to make my life miserable. The alpha was usually indifferent even though he was well aware of all the bullying in the pack. I feared and disliked him even more than every other person in the pack.
I didn't have time to prepare myself, however, as the door suddenly opened and I came face to face with the two of them, standing next to each other.
My gaze immediately went to the alpha, and I didn't need anyone to tell me what just happened. That my supposed mate was the alpha of my pack. The sudden woody scent that hit my nose forcing me to be unable to breathe and the weird attraction I had never felt toward him, which suddenly sprouted, were the best proofs of it.
I could see his gaze shift, and his expression morphed into one of utter surprise and shock before slowly recoiling again, and he now had a look of disgust and contempt on his face.
I knew what was coming even before he said a word. Why was the goddess so cruel to me? Sure, I had asked and pleaded on numerous occasions for a mate with a high position in the pack, but this wasn't what I wished for.
Not the alpha who abhorred me for being an omega.
Nadia, who was standing beside him, also seemed to notice the weird atmosphere between us as she sent a glare my way.
She reached out to grab him by the arm and asked, "What's wrong? Why did you suddenly stop talking?"
He also seemed to realize that he had gone quiet. My heart was beginning to beat erratically as he looked over at me. I also didn't know what to do at that point, but I knew all my previous wishes were going downhill. It was clear from the look he was giving me.
Nadia looked at me again, and this time, her expression was filled with horror as though she had just realized what was going on. She clasped a palm over her lips.
"It can't be... No, how can it be..."
The alpha stepped forward, and I felt my heart jolt. I was having a myriad of emotions at that moment, my heart beating with expectancy, intrigue, and fear of being rejected by him. But for some reason, I couldn't take a single step back. I wouldn't be surprised if it was due to his alpha powers.
She suddenly grabbed him by the shirt though stopping him in his movements. "Lucas, what are you doing?"
He was silent.
Her voice was full of apprehension and fear. "You can't possibly want to accept her as your mate. She... She is not worthy of being the Luna. I am. Isn't that what we agreed on? You need power and I can give you that. How could you discard everything for someone like her?" She seemed ready to put her words into his mouth and reject me on his behalf if she could.
"What would the pack members think of you? You're the alpha. How can you end up with someone like her? You'll be the mockery of everyone. The elders won't hesitate to make your life miserable."
Alpha Lucas halted in his footsteps, and he looked at her before his gaze came back to me. He seemed to have just come back to his senses.
"You can't let yourself be swayed," she continued to say. "You have to reject her now before anyone knows it. You know well enough how dangerous this is for you. She's a traitor and an omega. You deserve better!"
My chest hitched and twinged at the same moment, and I couldn't even say a word. All I knew was that by the time he returned his attention to me and he began to speak, I couldn't bear to listen to him reject me.
But I could hear it resound in my ears clearly as he said, "I, Lucas Greyhound, hereby reject you, Raven Daniels as my mate."