I chase after her.
‘I’m sorry, that never crossed my mind.’ I fall to my knees. ‘I’m the biggest idiot ever to exist.’ Nina stops running and turns to look at me. ‘We were the best of friends once. I thought the pack saw me as one big joke. I pushed you away and ignored you for years because of it. Then I made things even worse. I cursed you, and now you don’t have a wolf. And you won’t be able to sense your mate until I find mine. All I ever wanted was to protect you and keep you safe, but all I’ve done is cause you hurt and pain. I’m so sorry. Will you ever forgive me?’ I cry.
Nina morbidly approaches me and falls to her knees in front of me. Our knees are touching. She takes my hands and holds them in hers. I can feel her hands trembling.
We gaze at each other with tear-filled eyes. Nina bursts into tears and wraps her arms around my neck. I hold her tight and cry into her soft brown hair.
‘All those years, you say you ignored me; you never did. Every day we had breakfast and dinner together, you would stare at me with a longing in your eyes. When you climbed trees and swam through the lake with the others, you would always look to see if I had followed. When you saw me, your lips would curl into a smile, which you would quickly hide. The days I watched, and you couldn’t see me. You were miserable and agitated towards the others. Throughout high school, every girl would try to get your attention, but you would still sit where you could be near me and watch me at every chance you got. Even Claire and May were always catching you staring at me. I could constantly sense your eyes on me as if you were caressing me with your own hands. As for the curse, you were only a child venting. If you had known it would become a curse, I know those words would have never left your lips. I forgive you, Magnus.’ She sobs.
I squeeze her tighter and press my face further into her hair and neck.
‘Thank you.’ I whisper.
We part and wipe the tears from our faces.
‘What do we do now?’ I say.
‘The only thing left to do is make things right by finding your mate to break this curse.’
‘We have to visit all the packs. Let’s start with the Starlight pack east from here.’
We wait a couple of hours for the sun to rise.
Without warning, Nina grabs my arm. ‘Wait…’
‘Skedaddle Dash, Skedaddle Dash, Skedaddle Dash.’ She says.
My stomach churns as we flash one thousand metres east at a time until we reach Star Light territory. I instantly fall to the ground with severe nausea holding my stomach.
‘Next time, please warn me to brace myself, Nina?’
‘Don’t be such a baby, Magnus. It’s not that bad. I don’t feel any motion sickness at all.’
‘Maybe because you’re the one casting the spell, you’re immune to the effects?’
‘Maybe karma’s just getting you back for cursing me?’ She smirks.
‘You forget that when I cursed you not to have your wolf, it cursed me by not being able to shift without immense pain?’
‘Well, maybe the Moon Goddess added an extra bit of sugar onto yours.’ Nina says and sticks her tongue out.
I sit up. Now everything has stopped spinning. As soon as I stand up, growls sound around us. I pull Nina behind me to see five wolves circle us. Then, a wolf shifts back into its human form.
‘You are trespassing in Starlight territory.’ He warns.
‘I’m Magnus, the future Alpha of the Shadow Crest pack. I apologise for trespassing and the lack of notice of my arrival. I must meet every unmated she-wolf to find my mate. Please escort me to your Alpha.’
His eyes slightly fade. He is mind-linking his Alpha.
‘This way.’ He says. ‘It will be quicker if you both shift.’
Nina and I give each other a look.
‘Oh, but the weather is so… lovely that I think I’d like to walk?’ she says as a question rather than a statement. She subtly shrugs her shoulders at me as if to say, ‘What else am I to say? Sorry, I have no wolf, but that’s okay. I’m a witch and can blink instead?’
‘Okay… sure, I guess.’ He says, confused.
The wolves walk behind us as we are led to the packhouse. The rest of the wolves shift back into their human forms and enter the Packhouse after us.
‘Beta Ryan, thank you for bringing Magnus to me. Fetch us some wine for our guests, will you?’
‘Of course, Alpha Edward.’ He bows and walks away.
‘And who is this beautiful young she-wolf you have with you?’ he asks me.
‘This is Nina. She is the daughter of my pack warrior’s commander.’
‘I see.’ He smiles.
‘Please take a seat, both of you.’ he gestures his hands to the table. We take a chair and sit at the table. Nina sits beside me as we face Alpha Edward. Beta Ryan fills the glasses up with wine and hands one to Alpha Edward, then Nina and me.
‘Beta Ryan tells me you are here to search for your mate?’
‘Yes, Alpha Edward. I am.’
‘Well, aren’t you an eager Alpha to be wanting to find your mate so soon?’ he chuckles.
‘Very eager, Alpha Edward.’
‘I see. Let’s drink, and I’ll have the she-wolves called up.’ He mind-links Ryan to ready the unmated she-wolves.
We finish our wine and follow Alpha Edward out the door.
Two dozen she-wolves blush and twirl their hair as soon as they see me approaching. I walk up to each one. My wolf is calm, and I don’t feel the pull from the mate bond with them. I shake my head no at Alpha Edward. The girls voice their disappointment that Magnus isn’t their mate. A pigeon flies over my head and lands on the stone windowsill of the packhouse.
‘Hmm, it’s a messenger bird.’ Alpha Edward says and takes the paper scroll from the bird’s leg.
He scrunches his eyebrows as he reads the note.
‘You never told me rogues attacked your pack? ‘
‘Oh, didn’t I?’ I say nervously.
‘We are sending this letter out to all packs to inform them that Shadow Crest was under attack through the night by a pack of rogues who followed the orders of Vanessa. Who you may all remember as Alpha Zenith’s daughter from Shady Crest many years ago?
If anyone sees Magnus, please tell him we are okay and that we hope Nina and he are okay? Regards Alpha Ryker and Luna Astrid.’
‘I’m sorry, Alpha Edward, when we were under attack, Nina was in great danger. So I had to leave Shadow Crest to keep her safe.’
‘Well, now you can return since you know Shadow Crest is okay.’ He smiles.
‘It’s not that easy, Alpha Edward. Nina will remain in danger until I find my mate. Until then, neither of us can return.’
‘I don’t understand how finding your mate will keep Nina safe?’
‘It’s complicated and information I cannot share without further endangering Nina. We thank you for your time and must make our way to the next pack. I’m sure it won’t be long until you hear the rumours of why Nina is in danger. If you could reply to my parent’s message and let them know I will return once I find my fated mate? We would appreciate it.’
Alpha Edward nods, and we take our leave.
Once we are out of sight, Nina grabs my arm. ‘Skedaddle Dash.’ She says, and we port halfway through the woods.
‘We should set up camp for the night here?’ she says as I vomit in the bushes.
‘Sure.’ I say before heaving again. Nina takes a bottle of water out of my bag and hands it to me.
Once my stomach is back in one place, I collect sticks and bundle them together.
‘Inferno Flamo.’ Nina says, igniting the bundle of sticks into a fire.
‘Are you ever going to warn me before you cast a spell?’
‘Umm, probably not.’ She smirks.