“Are you going to at least talk to me this time?” he asked, finally breaking the quiet. “Or should I call for Sebastian to come back and whisk you away again?”
It was like his facade of being polite in front of Ava had instantly fallen like a curtain. Now that it was only the two of us, he became closer to the Benjamin I knew. Unnecessarily cruel, and occasionally sarcastic to the point of trying to put me down.
I grabbed at my wrist to stop it from trembling. I needed to be stronger than this. I needed to be able to least speak to him.
He sighed in mild frustration, his tone suddenly changing. “Look… I’m sorry. I didn’t ask to talk with you so I could start an argument.”
I could see him cross his arms together and shuffle on his feet. It was as if he were uncomfortable with how to say whatever it was he needed to say.
“The truth is,” he continued, “my father informed me of what happened with Ava and the Bane pack. I realise now that I need to apologise for how I acted after you met with the council. So… I am sorry, Winona. You had been badly injured and it was no way for me to have spoken to you.”
This caught me off guard. Benjamin was… apologising to me? For something he had said? I couldn’t ever recall a moment in our past he’d done such a thing.
“But, all of that aside… I’m here to request that you have coffee with me.” My eyes then snapped to his face, wide in disbelief.
Why would he, of all people, want to willingly have coffee with me?
I didn’t have to wait long for my answer though.
“Or rather, my father suggested that we have coffee together,” he clarified. “There are still a few hours before the main event for the fundraiser and he’s asked if you could lend me some of your time.”
I needed to speak, to say something. Anything.
“Um,” I feebly said, before clearing my throat. “I’m sure you have far more important things that require your attention today, Alpha heir. I would hate to keep you from those.”
His green eyes narrowed at me and I instantly looked back down again.
“Sorry if I didn’t make it clear enough before,” he said, “but this wasn’t really a.. suggestion.. from my father. He’s actually insisted on this.”
I then understood the meaning behind his words. This wasn’t an innocent request. This had been an order from his father. We were both now bound to abide by the Alpha’s wish.
And so, that’s how I suddenly found myself sitting for some tea… opposite the man who murdered me.
It was a bit of a surreal experience. The last time we had sat together, as just the two of us for a meal, was not long after
our rise to Alpha and Luna… Though, back then, he had stared daggers at me the entire time and left after twenty minutes to go see Isabella.
A small area in the adjacent garden had been set up specifically to enable us to have a private gathering. The outdoor table and chairs had already been a part of the decor, however, some attendants had gone out of their way to make the area look more ‘suitable’
Flowers had been picked and arranged in a vase on the table, and a trolley next to this showed off a large array of coffee and snacks that had been prepared. Surrounding us was also a mixture of colourful flowers and fauna growing in the garden, all perfectly maintained. It really would have been beautiful, if it weren’t for the company I would be keeping.
But after several minutes had passed, still neither of us had spoken a single word to each other.
I knew what this setup was, of course. Alpha Leo was forcing Benjamin and I to spend time together so we’d hopefully ‘play nice’ and become close. This was probably some weird version of a surprise date in the hopes I’d concede to
becoming Benjamin’s Luna one day. Leo probably assumed, and correctly so, that I would decline to a real meetup, and so chose to force us to participate during a time we would both already be dressed up and nearby. I wondered how many more of these ‘dates’ I was going to have to endure before he finally respected my choice not to be with his son.
Benjamin then cleared his throat, bringing my attention back to him.
“So, my father wanted me to thank you for your
recommendation over handling the Bane pack,” he started, breaking the silence finally. “It turned out to be successful in the end. He said your actions during the fight and your solutions for handling the aftermath were commendable.”
I nodded. “Thank you, Alpha heir.”
All I could think about was the seconds as they slowly ticked by. I wanted nothing more than to run far, far away from here.
“Is the food not to your liking?” he asked, noticing my plate. “You’ve barely touched anything.”
I looked down at the small piece of cake that sat in front of me with only two tiny bites taken out of it. The entire time we’d been sitting together, I had been so nervous that I’d barely been able to eat or drink from the spread provided. I wouldn’t have been able to even tell him the flavour of anything I’d consumed so far; I hadn’t been able to taste a single thing from the stress of being in this situation.
“The food is delicious,” I lied, having no idea. “Thank you, Alpha heir.”
It was clear his father had ordered him to talk nicely to me. They both probably realised they needed me on their side and Leo would have known how his son’s usual behaviours would have been perceived by me. Benjamin wasn’t exactly known for his patience.
But, if I was honest, the forced attempt at trying to talk politely to me was by far one of the most unnerving experiences I’d ever had. Never had I received any courtesy from Benjamin before and so this new persona of his was
unpredictable to me. I found Benjamin far less frightening when I could tell exactly what he may do next.
Abruptly, he then sighed and brought his hand up so fast my body couldn’t help but react. I flinched at his sudden
He frowned at me for a second, but continued to brush the hair out of his face, finding my reaction strange. The teacup in my hand had almost completely spilled all over myself in my fright.
“Are you sick?” he asked. He could see how much my hands were trembling now.
“N-no,” I stuttered out, cursing internally at my body for betraying how I felt. “Thank you for your concern, Alpha heir.”
“Winona, I can see you’re shaking,” he said. He stood up and went to reach for me. “Here just put this down for a-.”
I didn’t hear whatever he was about to say though because recoiled so quick from him that the plate in front of me smashed against the trolley, falling to the ground in pieces. My arm had swept across the table so fast that there hadn’t been any time to stop it from falling.
I turned and stared up at him in a panic, petrified of what he would do to me for my show of carelessness. I wanted to apologise, to beg him to forgive me, but I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Nothing would pass my lips as a coherent sentence.
“Winona,” he said in an annoyed tone.
And then he reached towards me again and I turned my face to the side, shutting my eyes as tightly as they would go to
anticipate whatever he was about to do to me.
….But nothing ever came.
It felt like an eternity waiting before I finally heard him sigh again. I carefully opened my eyes to look at him, but not fast enough to anger him further. He was rubbing his face in frustration, clearly irritated over everything I’d just done.
“Okay, I tried,” I thought I heard him whisper under his breath.
He looked back up at me, forcing a smile on his face, and stood up.
A chill went down my spine at seeing that familiar smile. I knew it so well; the kind that said he was hiding his true emotion from me.
“Thank you for your time today, Winona,” he said, going back to being overly polite. “It was an absolute pleasure. I hope we can do this again some time.”
It was all a lie and we both knew it. He was following formality to not incur the wrath of his father when he returned home.
He waited several seconds for me to reply, but I couldn’t bring myself to speak. It was only after I eventually managed to give him a half bow of my head in acknowledgement that he took it as good enough confirmation to take his leave.
I sat staring into space for a long time after he left, unsure how to process everything that had just happened. I felt just like the broken plate that laid shattered next to me; both of us having no idea how we became like this, but both feeling like only minutes ago everything had been just fine.
I’d thought I was ready, that I was stronger now. But I was wrong. It was clear that Benjamin was still so very much in control of me.
And, there was only one way I was going to be able to change it. There was no other option.