Chapter Eight (Cont)

“What is it?” The sheets crinkle and Jackson turns on his side. His hand fully covers mine. “What’s wrong?”

I bite down harder on my lip, drawing some blood. I’m not quite sure how to formulate a sentence, suddenly, and saliva collects under my tongue.

“Anvi?” Jackson’s voice tenderly caresses my heart.

“I…my wolf…I don’t have my wolf anymore, Jackson,” I say. My voice is so soft that I’m not even sure if the ants heard it. “I used to, but after I lost my parents, I guess I lost that part of myself too. I’ve tried to get her back, but…” I trail off. My voice shakes and I feel my eyes grow wet. “I lost three people that day. I’m still a werewolf, just without my wolf, I guess. I’m…something.”

“You’re a werewolf,” Jackson speaks suddenly. “You’re my mate, you’re the Luna Queen. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a wolf.” He removes his hand from mine and cups my cheek. “I’m sorry about your parents, Anvi. Truly, I am. I’m sorry that you’ve had to suffer, and I’m sorry that I wasn’t there to help you when you needed support. I…” he stops. “I’m sorry.”

I turn on my side. “You have no reason to be sorry.” I smile. “You helped me today. You took me as your mate despite my status as practically a rogue.”

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Jackson says. “I care about you, Anvi. Your status doesn’t matter to me.”

I smile, but I don’t add on to his words. Instead, I lie back down properly and sigh. Jackson follows, and this time, we’re closer than when he first came to lay with me.

The silence overtakes both of us, and when I blink, it’s morning. The sun is shining and the birds are tweeting outside the balcony. Jackson is still beside me, snoring softly. His hand is tight around mine and even though we haven’t really moved from our positions, I feel his leg atop my right foot, holding me down in a way that makes me giggle.

He’s a heavy sleeper, I realize, but he looks handsome regardless of if he’s sleeping or if he’s awake. I don’t get too close to him because my breath is probably atrocious, but from a distance, I just look at him for a few moments. When we first met yesterday, and even the entirety of last night, he was tense but tried to look calm in front of me. The wild wolf issue must’ve really been bothering him, but now, as he sleeps, he looks peaceful. Like nothing in the world can bother him.

I try not to make much movement as I get up, but it seems like Jackson is a light sleeper. He snorts quietly and his eyes flutter open as my leg slides out from under his.

“Sorry,” I whisper. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“It’s okay.” He smiles radiantly and sits up. His arms rise over his head and crack as he stretches them. “What time is it?”

“Nine, I think.” I glance at the clock on the table beside me. “Yeah, nine.”

“Oh damn, that time already?” Jackson’s eyes widen and he laughs. “I must’ve slept in. I didn’t realize how late it is.”

“We both slept in late.” I grin. “It’s just been such a long time since I’ve slept that well. I suppose I got too indulged.”

“It’s a good thing to indulge yourself once in a while,” Jackson says. He slides out of bed and walks around the bed to get his cellphone. “You can get dressed first. I’ll get you some clothes and then we can head to the tournament after breakfast, if you’re alright with that?”

I nod. “Sure.” I get out of the comfy sheets. “They have tournaments this early?”

Jackson chuckles. “Tournaments and practices are scheduled at random times to prepare the wolves for any battle at any time. You’re lucky it’s at ten today.”

I sigh. “I’d bet,” I agree. I fix the sheets quickly and then head to the bathroom, ready to prepare for my first day at the Royal Pack.

~***~

The tournament center is a wide, open space surrounded by white rock that’s cut into the shape of squares that people can sit on. Jackson tells me that it’s supposed to be a replica of an arena in Pompeii, just smaller and with grass instead of sand. There are some weapons lying on a few of the stone chairs but for the most part the place is barren. Jackson tells me if I ever want to practice, I can come here, and I nod as I listen to him tell me about the history while watching the younger wolves prepare. They can’t be more than a few years younger than me. Some of them look to be still in high school, but they all get dressed with vigor and sharpen their weapons silently and stone-faced.

Two people approach us – a man and a woman. The man is about the same height as Jackson and has fair skin and hazel eyes. His strawberry-colored hair is short and a bit wavy and he has a pair of thin, circular glasses on his face. The woman beside him has dark skin and box braids. Her eyes are a beautiful, emerald green and she smiles at me when our eyes meet.

“Anvi, meet Benjamin and Beatrice, my Beta and Beta Female,” Jackson says. “Ben, Bea, this is Anvi.” His arm wraps around my shoulder. “She’s my mate.”

Beatrice smiles. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Luna Queen,” she says, and she has a soft, dainty voice. She bows to me and her mate follows her movements. “I’m Beatrice, like Jackson said, but you can call me Bea.”

“And I’m Benjamin, but you can call me Ben,” Ben adds. He has a shy smile and he pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “It’s nice to meet you, your highness.”

I blush. “Oh, Anvi is fine,” I stammer. “And it’s nice to meet you too!”

“How’re the kids looking, Ben, Bea?” Jackson asks.

“Better than last week, that’s for sure,” Bea says. “I think Adonis spooked them.”

Jackson sighs. “I’ll have to talk to him about that. He went too rough.”

“I actually think he helped them,” Ben says. “They have more discipline now.”

“And they’re ready to fight!” Bea adds. She turns her gaze to me. “Will you be fighting, Anvi?”

“Yeah. I need to practice,” I say. “When will the fight start?”

“Once we get you a partner,” Jackson says with a grin. His eyes survey the arena and fall on a young boy who’s busy lifting weights with a group of his friends around him.

“Han-Seok!” He calls what I assume is the boy’s name and Han-Seok stops lifting the weights immediately.

“Yes, Alpha?” He comes over to Jackson and I and bows.

“This is Anvi, my mate,” Jackson says. “I was wondering if you’d want to practice with her today?”

“I’d be honored to,” Han-Seok replies. “That is, if you allow it, Luna.”

“Of course!” I smile at him, eager to try my hand at fighting again. “I’d be happy to be your partner.”

Han-Seok smiles. “Okay,” he says. “Would you like to shift, use weapons, or wrestle?”

“Wrestle,” I reply immediately and Han-Seok nods. Around us the other wolves have stopped preparing and make a circle around us, like a boxing ring. Han-Seok and I stand a few feet apart from each other. Bea is behind me. Jackson and Ben have retreated to the back of the crowd, but I can still feel Jackson’s eyes on me, intrigued.

I smirk. Time to stretch my limbs, I think.

Han-Seok digs his feet into the ground. His eyes watch me carefully as I sway from side to side. I’m looking for his weak spot – his fumble. And I see it when his foot slips momentarily.

I pounce, tackling him to the ground. Han-Seok seems prepared, though. He keeps his head from hitting the ground and pulls the both of us into a tumble. His hand pushes against my shoulder, a diversion so I don’t see his other hand going towards my stomach, but I feel the radiation. I flip us both and pull Han-Seok onto his stomach, straddling his back. I keep one of his arms behind his head and twist it slightly, enough to keep him down but also to make sure that I’m not hurting him. Han-Seok struggles for a few moments, trying to wiggle me off his back, but I push all my body weight to my stomach and soon, Han-Seok stops, defeated.

“Surrender?” I ask.

I feel him smile. “Surrender,” he says, and I keep holding his arm behind his head as I climb off of him. Han-Seok stands with a grin while everyone around us cheers. Jackson smiles at me from the back of the crowd. He’s in a conversation with Ben still, distracted by what his Beta’s saying, but there’s pride shining in his eyes, and it makes me feel incredibly warm. I haven’t felt this sense of admiration or victory for…a while.

As wolves come up to congratulate me after I make sure Han-Seok is okay (“I’m fine, Luna. That was amazing!), I think about Alpha Banastre, and why I couldn’t fight back against him. He was stronger than Han-Seok, I suppose. And he was older. He had more experience.

In my mind I know these are excuses. I could’ve at least tried to fight back, but what good would it have been? I would’ve been dead within a week.

“You’re a good fighter.” Han-Seok brings me out of my thoughts. I turn to him and he smiles. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

“What? The twist?”

“Yes.” He grins bashfully. “It was impressive.”

I shrug. “It’s a common move. Anyone can do it,” I say, although my heart bursts with even more pride. “If you don’t mind, how old are you, Han-Seok?”

“Seventeen,” he replies, wrapping a bandage around his arm. “I graduated from high school early.”

“Oh.” I nod. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“No, you didn’t,” he says. “I’m just putting extra on since that’s my weak spot.”

“Did you get injured there before?”

“Yes, when I was a kid,” he responds. He inspects the job he’s done on his arm and sighs. “How are you liking the pack so far?”

“It’s only been a day,” I say with a blush. “But it feels like home already. It’s also pretty good to be able to stretch my muscles, you know?”

“I get that,” Han-Seok says. He looks up from his arm and his gaze drifts past the arena to a group of girls and boys spectating from outside the smaller wall. There’s one particular girl that he’s looking at. She’s a young, pale-skinned girl with bright brown eyes and thin pink lips turned in a bashful smile, just like Han-Seok’s.

“That’s Hanako,” he says softly. His cheeks turn pink and he waves at her.

I grin. “You like her?” I ask.

Han-Seok nods, chuckling. “I do,” he says. “She’s my mate. She just moved from Japan, so language is a bit of a barrier, but she’s so…so…mystical, you know?” He sighs. “I can’t help but be…enamored by her.”

“How old is she?”

“Sixteen, about to turn seventeen,” Han-Seok replies swiftly. His lovesick stare remains on Hanako as she giggles with her friends. I guess they’re teasing her about Han-Seok, based on the way they keep glancing at him, and I can’t help but take a quick sneak-peak at my own mate. He’s still talking to Ben and Bea has joined both of them, and I don’t know if he sees me staring at him or something, but he turns and smiles at me, and I recognize it as the same, loving smile Han-Seok was giving Hanako a few moments ago, before he became all cute and mushy. It’s cute, though. It reminds me of when I was in high school and got to witness all the romance in the hallways. Granted, those relationships barely lasted a week, but they were still cute.

After a while of aimless chatter, I suggested to Han-Seok that he go talk to her, and after a few shy mumbles, Han-Seok straightened his back and walked towards the group, as if he were walking directly into battle. I watch him go with a smile and as I make my way to Jackson, a cry stops me.

“Jackson!” It’s Adonis, looking completely terrified. Jackson’s arm immediately comes around me and he pulls me closer to his side. The teenage wolves around us all stop talking and reach for their weapons. I guess a scared Adonis is not something that they’re used to.

“What’s wrong, Adonis?” Jackson asks.

Panting, Adonis stops to take a few deep breaths. He sucks them in like he’s sucking souls, his breathing hard and labored. Finally, he speaks.

“At the border,” he says, his voice trembling. “There’s a wolf.”

“Rogue?” Jackson asks.

“No,” Adonis shakes his head. “He’s one of us. And Jackson, he’s almost dead.”

~~~~~~~~

Hey guys!

What did you think of this chapter? What happened to the wolf? Who is he? How was Anvi’s first night with Jackson? Don’t forget to vote and comment!

– Sunny 🙂

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