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Hi everyone, thanks so much for clicking! If you haven’t already, make sure to read parts 1 through 8 or you’ll be completely lost!
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I opened the door as quietly as I could, careful not to wake Atlar. There was a human soldier on the other side and I smiled at him innocently. He didn’t stop me, but I noticed him following a short distance behind me. I ignored him, figuring he had his orders to protect. Whether he was protection for me or from me was anyone’s guess. Probably both.
Opening the front door, I stepped aside, motioning for the soldier to go first. The colour drained from his face and when he stood stubbornly still, I shrugged and continued on.
The street was bare, too early in the morning for any significant traffic. I crossed it easily and looked up at the small shop in front of me. It was creepier up close. The dark bricks were cracked and stained, and angry looking vines crawled up every square inch of the walls. The light no longer reflected in the window, and the small awning gave the entrance a shrouded appearance. If I hadn’t seen the old woman inside I would have sworn the place was abandoned.
A small, faded sign caught my attention and I strained to read it.
‘Madame Fate, your future is known.’
“I hope you’re not planning to go in there,” the guard who had, up until now, seemed too afraid to talk startled me with his words. I had nearly forgotten he was there.
“People don’t really do that. The old lady is…strange, eccentric,” he corrected himself.
I paused, taking his well hidden warning at face value.
I tried listening for a heartbeat from inside, but my sense of hearing was still hard to control. I kept getting confused with my own heartbeat, and that of the soldier next to me. My sense of smell was better, but there were too many scents spilling from inside to pick out any one. There could have been an army in there and I wouldn’t have known.
“Do you know a fortune teller who isn’t?” I asked him after a long, tense silence.
He didn’t answer, and considering the topic settled I took a step towards the door, projecting more confidence in that one movement than I felt in my entire body.
The soldier stepped forward as well, visibly hesitant. Somehow, I knew I needed to go in alone, and I whirled on him to tell him so.
“I don’t care what stalking orders you were given, follow me anywhere else, but I go inside alone.”
He stuttered, searching for a word to protest, so I continued.
“Do you know what I am?”
He blanched, his teeth clenched and his face as white as a sheet, but after a short moment, he nodded slowly.
I found his reaction amusing, but managed to keep the small smile from my face.
“Then you know I’ll be fine on my own. Wait here if you want, I’ll be right back. I promise.”
He looked relieved as I turned back towards the door.
With a quick, steeling breath, I forced myself to knock on the dry wood of the door and then turned the knob decidedly. It resisted for a moment, squeaking in complaint, but popped open with a bit more pressure.
Inside, with the door closed behind me, I felt my breathing quicken with my nerves, my heart pounding a distracting beat in my chest.
A desk by the front door welcomed me, adorned with the typical business cards and aesthetically pleasing display, putting the rest of the room in stark contrast.
The walls were lined with shelves, supporting rows upon rows of trinkets, gems and statues, no surface space going unused. One object in particular drew my attention, presented in the very center of the largest shelf. It was small, but noticeable, its black, metallic colour reflecting the lights from the abundant candles. They were everywhere, each producing their own strong scent.
A large, round table in the middle of the room took up most of the space, but there was room enough for the chairs that surrounded it, and to walk around unhindered. Another round table, much smaller and taller than the first sat under the window, covered in a blood red cloth. Displayed there was a crystal ball, and I identified it immediately as the object I had seen glinting through the window.
A curtain at the back indicated another doorway, and I could just make out a set of stairs past them, straining to see through the gap where the curtains didn’t quite meet.
My eyes darted all over the room trying to memorize every detail, and my nose itched with every new scent, but for all the overwhelming stimuli for those two senses, it was eerily quiet.
“Hello?” I called out, my own voice sounding strange in the silence.
As if on cue, the old lady burst out from behind the curtains, flipping them to the side with exaggerated flair. It startled me, but I kept the shock well hidden.
“Hello, Dearie,” she sang cheerfully, gliding her short frame to sit behind the desk in front of me. “It’s so nice to finally meet you. I’ve been expecting maltepe escort your visit for weeks now, shame on you to make an old lady wait.”
I wanted to tell her how ridiculous that was, that it was only decided I would join Atlar yesterday, and the incident that drove our need to visit had only occurred a week ago, but I decided against it. She was a fortune teller after all.
“The soldier almost wouldn’t let me come in here,” I said instead, motioning lazily behind me.
She looked at me and smirked.
“Something tells me he wouldn’t have been able to stop you.”
“He said people don’t like coming in here.”
“Yes, well,” she started, frowning. “People don’t like to hear the truth. For example, that soldier out there only wants to know that he will fall in love. He doesn’t want to hear that it will be with a fledgling vampire who will feed on him and ultimately kill him.”
I took a deep breath, the sharp pang of guilt forcing the air from my lungs. How was she so casual when someone’s life was at stake.
“Would telling him change his fate?”
“Maybe,” she shrugged. “I see what path he’s on, but I cannot see all the variations.”
“Don’t you think you should try?” I asked her, hoping she wasn’t just intending to let the man outside die, even if it was still years away.
“You’re young. You have a heart of gold,” she stated melodiously and I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic. “But if I tried to save everyone who came in here with an early death I’d drive myself insane. It’s exhausting to know things that have nothing to do with me. It’s exhausting carrying the weight of their lives. I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to do it anymore,” she sighed and shook her head, clearly forcing out old memories. “I have no interest in the happenings of humans, or vampires, or werewolves for that matter. My goals are my own, and any visions I have of others are promptly ignored, save if they pertain to me in any way.”
“Then why am I here?” I decided to ask, disagreeing with her sentiment on helping others. If you had the ability to save people from an early grave, why wouldn’t you? I struggled to understand and resolved to tell the soldier of his fate anyway.
“You’re here, for your part, because you need to be. For mine, because I need something from you.”
“I don’t have any money,” I blurted, suddenly remembering the cards on the desk meant this was a business.
“How convenient, since it’s not money that I want.”
“Your hair. Just a lock of it,” she clarified at my surprised face. “One strand of it would do.”
“That’s so-,” I caught myself before I called her creepy, deciding insulting her wasn’t the best idea. “Why would you want that?”
“I told you, my goals are my own.” She held out her hand expectantly.
“So I give you a lock of my hair, and you…what? Tell me my future?”
“Oh no. Magical creatures are hard. I know next to nothing about your future.”
“I do, however, know a particular detail about your present that might interest you.”
“So let me get this straight,” I started incredulously. “I give you a lock of my hair, a literal piece of me, and you tell me something I might very well already know?”
She shrugged, fiddling with a piece of paper and picking up a pen to twirl in her fingers.
“I don’t think so,” I told her, turning to walk away.
“Alright,” she sang, drawing my attention back to her. She was drawing something on the piece of paper. “If you insist. But I can tell you what this is.” She pushed the paper forward, spinning it around so I could see it.
I had seen the symbol before; it was in my dreams when I was shifting, and…somewhere else. I couldn’t quite place my finger on.
“You know what this is?” I asked, more excitement in my voice than I had consciously permitted. “You’ll tell me?”
“For a lock of your hair,” she repeated, stressing each word individually.
“Okay,” I agreed reluctantly, feeling a mix between desperation and trepidation. It seemed such a small price, but it was still a piece of me.
She reached forward, plucking a strand from my head as gently as she would a weed from her garden. It stung, and my hand went up to rub at the sore spot.
“Omega,” she said, looking to me as if it were now time to worship her.
I had heard the word before. Amrita had said it to Silas during the meeting, or at least I thought she had. It should have been impossible for me to hear, so I figured it had been a made up detail from the stressed mind of a shifting wolf. Realizing how wrong I might have been to assume that, I waited anxiously for the rest of her explanation.
“That’s it?” I asked when she continued to stare at me silently.
“You paid me for one detail, that’s what I gave you.”
“You said the detail pertains to me, in the present.”
“You didn’t pay me for that.”
Frustrated, I pulled out another strand of maslak escort my hair, dropping it on the desk between us. She brushed it to the floor disgustedly, as if she hadn’t just shoved the other in her pocket.
“What? I paid you more, so now you have to tell me more.”
“No, you paid me for the detail. Past that, you have nothing that I want, so you’re on your own. Although, you might try the bookstore down the street, they might have something of interest.”
She skipped to the back of the room, decidedly quicker than when she had appeared, and veiled herself behind the curtain.
“Seriously?” I called out into the room. When there was no answer I gave up and grabbed the drawing from the desk, retreating outside.
The sight of the soldier reignited the guilt of knowing his future, and I searched for a way to tell him what I’d learned. He already seemed afraid of me, so I knew the straight forward approach might freak him out even more. I searched for a way to pretense it, hoping it might help.
“What’s your name?” I asked him, thinking it might be easier to tell him if I knew.
He looked at me, clearly surprised by the question, but after a short pause, he answered.
I smiled at him.
“Well, Oliver, I have a piece of-, I mean I think maybe you should-, I learned that-,” I sighed in frustration. There didn’t seem to be a right way to approach this. He watched me stutter over my words, no doubt wondering if I was having a stroke. “Can I tell you something?” I finally settled on.
He eyed me quizzically, analyzing the situation, his gaze darting between me and the door of the shop behind me.
“Is it about me?”
“Is it bad?”
I nodded again.
“Then I think I’d like to keep it a mystery if that’s alright,” he told me. He offered a small smile, and although I was sure of it’s genuineness it didn’t reach his eyes. He didn’t seem afraid anymore, and I was slightly surprised at how quickly it had transitioned. Perhaps witnessing my struggle to do something as basic as form a full sentence had humanized me in his mind.
I was almost annoyed that he didn’t want to know, that the information was my burden that he refused to relieve me of.
I tried to put myself in his shoes. For me, this was nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Eventually, Oliver, his life and his death, would fade from my memory. If I were him, I would also rather live in ignorance than fear. To be constantly waiting for the moment of your death, not knowing exactly when it would arrive would be more torturous than the moment itself.
I sighed again.
“Can I at least give you a piece of advice?”
He pressed his lips into a thin line, tilting his head just slightly in permission.
“Just remember that fledgling Vampires can’t be expected to know their own limits, let alone yours.”
His eyes narrowed, instinctively trying to work out the bigger picture with the small clue he was given. He gave up quickly, a layer of defiant confusion still visible on his face. Eventually, he nodded in silent acknowledgement.
The topic at hand having been ignored for, what felt like, far too long, my attention was drawn to the paper in my hand. It was porous and rough, feeling nearly like sandpaper against my skin.
“Is there a book store near here?” I finally asked.
We walked together down the street, the sounds of our footsteps the only thing to break the comfortable silence.
‘You’ve been distant,’ I said to my wolf the moment I noticed she was alert in my mind.
She pushed through a number of feelings, not the least of which was frustration. She didn’t like the way I handled being caught eavesdropping on Atlar.
If she had her way every situation involving a man I was even remotely attracted to would end with me flat on my back or bent over some surface. Or perhaps I would be held in the air, or straddling with my knees spre-.
I cut myself short, knowing that my face enflamed at the thought. I was very thankful that my connection to my wolf was private.
As for the rest of the morning, the first task, dealing with the fortune teller, was creepy. The second, telling the soldier his future, was unpleasant. So she had steadfastly refused to participate in either. How nice of her to tell me.
“This is it,” Oliver spoke, drawing me away from my wolf.
A small bell rang as he opened the door and held it, waiting for me to go inside.
The shop was smaller than the last one, offering just enough space between the shelves for somebody to walk comfortably. I ran my hand along the spines of the books as I walked. Each one seemed to be well taken care of, bound in leather or other fading materials, but very old.
“Is there something in particular you’re looking for?” Oliver asked me.
His question refocused me and I handed him the paper from my hand, having already memorized the symbol.
“Something about Omegas.”
We split up in our search and mecidiyeköy escort within a few minutes Oliver was returning, a small, leatherbound book in his grasp. He handed it to me wordlessly. The cover had the same symbol the fortune teller had drawn. I ran my finger along the embossment before opening the book to read the first chapter.
‘The Alpha-Omega Bond’
“Oliver, this is perfect. It’s exactly what I’m looking for,” I told him, immediately diving in to the content. My eyes widened in excitement, my mind teeming with new found solutions to long unanswered questions. I almost didn’t notice him leave and return; I was so immersed in the short chapter of the bond.
He pushed a receipt into my view, tucking it swiftly between the two pages I was reading. The action brought my thoughts back to the present, making me realize that I had been so distracted by the book I hadn’t even thought about leaving the small shop. Of course I would need to leave eventually, and naturally I would want to bring the book with me. They wouldn’t exactly have allowed me to just walk out without paying, and I was on a diplomatic mission; stealing wasn’t an option.
Oliver had fixed the problem before I even realized there was one, and I was near speechless in the face of his kind act.
“Oliver, you didn’t have to do that,” I finally managed after a handful of stuttering false starts.
“I know, don’t worry about it.”
“You’re sure?” I asked him, offering him the obligatory chance to change his mind, hoping desperately that he would turn it down. The tension made the second it took him to answer feel like hours, hours that my wolf used to flick her tail, demonstrating her complete indifference to his response. She didn’t care why things were the way they were.
“I’m sure.” He shrugged. “Call it payment for advice services rendered.”
I hugged him, unashamedly clinging to him after barreling into his chest with a resounding thud and a surprised grunt from above me. He chuckled, patting my back awkwardly before we pulled apart.
The walk back to the Mayor’s house was much quicker, driven by my need to show Atlar what I had found. Oliver took up his post by the door as I went into our room. Atlar was on the bed, leaning against the headboard with his legs stretched out, crossed at the ankle.
“Look!” I virtually shouted in my uninhibited elation. I plopped the book down in front of him, covering the phone he had been holding in his hands. His phone still hidden underneath, he grabbed the book, staring at me with a confused eye before looking to the page I had left open.
“Look,” I told him again, tapping the page for emphasis. “This book tells me exactly what’s been going on with me. I’m an Omega.”
“Yes, and look here,” I pointed to the page, reading from my awkward angle above him. “The Alphas and Omegas are drawn to each other, a sexual and emotional bond created to mitigate the sheer advantages of both in question.”
Atlar opened his mouth to speak, but my excitement wouldn’t let him.
“Basically Alphas and Omegas are overpowered so the Moon Goddess made them drawn to each other to give them each a weakness, but that doesn’t matter.”
“No. What matters is that I now know why my brother and a man twice my age want me, AND why I want them back!”
I waited for his reaction, fully expecting it to match my own level of energy.
“What about me and Cade?”
“We’re not Alphas, but you’re attracted to us both,” he explained, a smirk pressed deliberately to his lips.
“Well, I can’t help that,” I waved him off before realizing what I was saying. “You’re both my type.”
He chuckled, and before either of us could say anything else there was a knock on the door. It swung open and a soldier told us the Mayor was ready to see us.
It was a boring meeting that lasted hours, but eventually the Mayor was apprised of all of our ways and traditions, the Alpha successions, the Vampire hierarchy, true mates and how they work for the different species, and countless other details that would facilitate our treaty.
By the time we got in the car and readied ourselves for the drive home I was exhausted. But the book still held secrets that I needed to uncover, so I read the entire way.
Atlar and I parted ways on the top floor, and when I opened the door to my suite Silas was already waiting.
“Ah, Makara,” Silas started, standing up from the couch. “You’re back.”
I smiled at him as he approached, dropping my bag to the floor and letting him wrap his arms around me. The hug was chaste and sweet and I breathed the familiar scent deeply.
“I missed you,” he whispered, squeezing a little tighter before letting me go. “Did you have a good time?”
“Silas, it was amazing.” I stalled, my mind struggling to decide which event to discuss. I was excited to tell him of my discovery, but I knew it was more important to the pack to inform the Alpha of our new treaty with the humans. “The humans were written into-“
“Stop,” Silas interrupted. “I don’t care about that right now.” He ran both hands along my arms, pulling me closer to him, as if our hug hadn’t quite gone on long enough. The action was decidedly less chaste than our embrace had been, and a low growl of approval escaped from Silas. “There will be time to discuss that later.”
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