ElenaGrowing up, I was never alone. There had always been family or friends over at my house, or I was visiting them. But right now, sitting in the backyard of the Silver Pack, I feel more alone than ever. In addition, I deliberately hurt my mate and made my wolf angry with me. And Mark told me he would stop working with me if I rejected Vladimir.
I don't give a shit about most things, but I care a lot about Mark.
At some point during my teen years, things changed, and I became less social, and I stopped speaking to most of my friends. Except for Mark. He had always been there for me. He has always been my BFF, and I love him more than anything in this world. When my first crush broke my heart, and I called him in the middle of the night, he came running to my house with a big tub of ice cream and a collection of stupid old movies. When Mark suffered because of a female, I made him his favorite dinner and stayed with him until he was better.
Mark leaving the team is not an option. It might sound weird, but I feel as if I can't function without Mark. His friendship and support are everything to me.
Mark and I were very close during high school, and many of our common friends were sure we were mates. While I do love Mark with all my heart, I never saw him in a romantic way. I never felt jealous of the females he dated, and he wasn't interested in the males I went out with.
Mark has always fantasized about the day he would find his soulmate. When it turned out not to be how he thought it would be, he became sensitive about soulmates. While I understand his reaction, I hate that he is making me choose.
I shove my hands in my jacket pockets and enter the Pack House. The pack members are still in their rooms, and I can hear whispers and small noises coming from behind doors. I hope all of them will rot in hell for what they did to Vladimir!
I walk until I get in front of Max's office and stop. Mark looks at some files while Vladimir sits on a chair with Ana on his lap. She is resting her head on his shoulder, and he is talking in a low voice into her ear. I know she lost her parents, and from what I can tell, she is very close to Vladimir, but I can't stop myself from feeling jealous. I am not the type of female who needs a male, but I never expected the pull of the mating bond to be so strong. It takes all my will not to pry into their conversation. Or to march up to them and separate them.
Vladimir's scent is maddening and... Would it be wrong to push Ana out of Vladimir's lap, take her place, and shove my tongue down Vladimir's throat?
I lick my lips with the tip of my tongue, and Vladimir looks in my direction. There is nothing in his eyes, no anger, resentment, or pain. He stares at me with empty eyes before turning his attention back to Ana, acting as if I am not present.
I know I should not feel hurt because I was the one that told him I didn't want him, but it stings to be ignored like that by the one that is supposed to be my perfect half.
Giving Vladimir the cold shoulder, I go to Mark. "What about Max and Stefan?" I ask, remembering he never told me if he and William caught them.
Mark shakes his head. "They disappeared in the forest. William is still searching for them."
I let out a series of curses before I pull out my phone, step out into the hallway, and dial a number.
"It's me," I say when he picks up. He doesn't say anything and waits for me to continue talking. "Look, I am at the Silver Pack, and the piece of trash that is the Alpha of this pack had a slave, Vladimir. He had been tortured for many years, and—" I curse while he listens patiently for me to finish. "I want this pack to disappear by morning! I don't care what you do! Burn it or run a bulldozer over it; it is all the same for me!"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! They hurt my—" I stop talking and take a deep breath. Whenever I am angry, I either say the truth or some stupid thing. I look into the office and see that Ana is still on Vladimir's lap. He is rubbing her back while she has her face buried in his chest. I wonder if they are fucking each other, and my blood boils with anger. "What the Silver Pack did has no excuse!"
"What about Alpha Max?"
"He used wolfsbane on me and ran away along with his Beta! William is tracking them down!"
"Are you alright?" He sounds worried.
A smile appears on my face. "Just pissed off! I would love to chat more, but I have a lot of shit to sort out."
"Be careful!" A pause. "When are you coming home? I miss you!"
I laugh. "If you miss me so much, you should become a vampire hunter and be part of my team!"
"And who will take care of the pack then?" I can't argue with him about that. "I will send someone to take care of the Silver Pack."
"Good. Then I will head home."
"Elena? I love you!" he says before hanging up.
I sigh and lean on the wall. "I love you too!" I whisper in the empty hallway.
I put my phone in my pocket and go back into the office.
"As soon as William returns, we are leaving!" I tell Mark. He doesn't say anything.
Vladimir keeps ignoring me, and I sit in Max's chair and start looking through his things and sorting out files.
"Vladimir," Mark says, and I act as if I am not interested in their conversation. "You should take a shower so I can take a look at your wounds. Ana, you too!"
Vladimir helps Ana stand, and they leave the office together.
Mark moves in front of the desk and stares at me.
"What?" I snap.
"Have you thought about what I told you?" Mark asks.
"I won't reject Vladimir, but I won't accept him as my mate either. He is weak and pathetic, and I won't embarrass myself in front of the pack by admitting he is my mate!"
"For fuck's sake! He was a slave for years!" Mark barks at me.
"Because he committed a crime!" I snarl.
Mark arches an eyebrow. "Now you are finding excuses for what Alpha Max did to your mate?"
I rub my temples. "No, but put yourself in my place! If you were me, would you accept Vladimir?"
"Without a doubt. Alpha Max accused him of a crime, but I had seen how Vladimir acted when you were poisoned with wolfsbane or how he tried to calm Ana. I don't know what happened in the past, but Vladimir is not a criminal!"
I huff. "You always see the good in people!"
"Because everyone has the right to make mistakes and to learn from them!"
"Well, I have learned from my past mistakes, and I will be damned if I will repeat them!" I growl at Mark.
Mark folds his arms. "You are only using your past to push away everyone that loves you! Except me because you need me, but the day I won't be of any use, you will shut me out as well!"
"I am trying to protect everyone around me from being hurt!" I snarl.
Mark shakes his head. "You are trying to protect yourself from suffering again! But by doing that, you hurt your mate! The Elena from seven years ago would have never done that!"
"That Elena died that day!" I say.
"Elena found her mate?" I hear William's voice coming from the door. "Poor guy! I don't want to be in his shoes!"
Mark steps to the side, and I stare at William. He has a few scratches on his face. "Where is Max?"
"He got away!" William replies.
VladimirAna takes me to her room and locks the door behind her before wrapping her arms around herself. I pull her into a tight hug and stroke her hair while I whisper reassuring words to her, but I know that no matter what I say or do, it won’t bring back her parents. She knows I will always be by her side, that she will be the sister I never had.I swallow hard and let go of her.“We should hurry,” I tell her. “I don’t think Elena would like it if we made her wait for too long!”“I don’t like her! Each time she visited the pack, she acted as if she were better than anyone else!”I frown because I didn’t realize that Elena had come here before. I would not have known anyway because each time someone visited the pack, I was taken to the lower parts of the dungeons and stayed there until the guests left.“It does not matter if you like her or not; we will have to go with her,” I say before heading towards Ana’s closet. “Get inside the shower while I pack your things!”Ana’s bottom lip