It was excruciating.
“So, this is something you’ve taken a few months in deciding to pursue then?”
That wasn’t exactly correct. I had started training with the original intent of defending myself from Benjamin, not for the purpose of becoming Beta. But it was true I had spent the last two months thinking through my options thoroughly. This was something I wanted to do. Something that I needed to do.
“I’ve weighed all of my options with great care, Father” I replied. “This is the only choice I have that allows me to both refuse the Luna position and protect myself from those threatened by my mark.”
He was silent once again.
“I can see why you may think I might not be worthy,” I finally said after he hadn’t said anything for an extended period of time. “I understand that you would want to see me succeed, and becoming Luna would be viewed as the highest honour for your daughter to achieve. I also realise that being a female, you may think I’m not up to the task.”
I looked up to meet his eyes and saw he was looking at me, a crease between his brows.
“Winona, you don’t need to become a Luna for your mother and I to be proud of you,” he said. “I also don’t care whether you’re a male or female. To me, any child of mine naturally has a right to succeed me as Beta.”
My heart leapt at hearing his words. I was pleased to know his stance on my position hadn’t changed in ten years. He really
did care. Had the wall between us been only something I created in my mind the entire time?
“Thank you, Father,” I said, wholeheartedly.
I felt out of breath. It was a relief to finally hear the words from him, to know that he supported me.
“But, Winona,” he continued, his tone serious. “I’m disappointed that you kept this from me from us. I thought you understood how much we didn’t appreciate you cutting us out after last time. Keeping secrets from me was not the way to gain my support in this.”
I froze. Had I really made a mistake in how I’d handled it? This entire time I thought I was doing the right thing, scared of what they might think of me if were to tell them of my real desires and worries.
“A Beta is someone trustworthy, someone who can be relied upon,” he said. “Someone who is able to fight and support those around them as a team. Your actions have shown me that you prefer to work alone without the support of your fellow pack. I don’t see how others will respect or follow you when you refuse to be transparent in your motives. You need more than intelligence to be a leader, Winona.”
If I felt like I was out of breath before, then it really felt like I was drowning now.
I had always worked alone, always from the shadows forgotten. But having him say it outright like this made it extremely clear; the barriers I’d made around myself were in complete contrast to the person I needed to be in order to become Beta. I hadn’t opened myself up enough to others, wanting to avoid putting myself in a vulnerable position to be
I could see now how my attempts at protecting myself could actually hold me back in my pursuit of becoming Beta.
I glared down at my hands, unable to look at him, and could feel the start of angry tears begin to bubble at my eyes. I was furious at myself for not realising earlier how my father would view the decisions I’d made. There was no way for him to have known why I was the way I was.
“So, Winona,” he said, breaking me from my thoughts. “Are you going to tell me the truth now?”
I quickly looked back up at him confused.
“If you want my support then it’s about time you start being honest with me.”
…Sorry father. I can’t.
“I’ve been truthful. I’ve finally told you what I’ve been doing and how I don’t want to be Luna,” I replied, trying to avoid his real question.
He exhaled slowly, obviously disappointed in my answer.
“Well… to start with, you could tell me about what happened to you ten months ago, when I suddenly found out my daughter had been marked by the Goddess. Something that, for generations now, we had all grown up thinking was just a myth.”
Oh my goddess, he wanted to know what had happened to me. Why I had changed so much in such a short period of time. Why I was no longer acting like the
In order to become Beta, he was asking that I tell him about
…A past that was also my future.
I could feel the tears begin to fall down my face and I shook my head.
“No… I can’t,” I said, gritting my teeth.
I could see it all again so clearly. The cells, my father, the trial ground, the sword… and Benjamin. I realised then that, a part of the reason I hadn’t told anyone about my past before now, wasn’t only because I needed to keep myself safe, but because I physically couldn’t talk about it before. It was too painful. It felt like if I said the words aloud then it would be making it real….
…And if it was real, then there would be no way I could even remotely say that maybe, just maybe, my past life had been just a bad dream.
“Winona, you need to be honest and upfront with me now if I’m going to be backing you here. The journey for you to become a Beta will be hard enough as it is.”
“It’s not that simple,” I said, still shaking my head in denial. “You need to trust me when I say I can’t become Luna, that becoming Beta is the only way forward.”
“Winona! No,” he said sharply and began to raise his voice, irritated that I was still deliberately being difficult. “Enough is enough. I will not help you until you tell me the truth! So, what the hell happened? Why won’t you tell me.”
“Because I died, Father!” I yelled, cutting him off. “…I died.”
The ‘words had fallen out of my mouth before I could stop them. But once they were finally out, they hung in the open between us, never to be taken back again. As soon as I’d said them though, I gasped at the air; a weight lifting from me as I told the truth, finally allowing me to breathe again.
His face was beyond confused, having been taken aback by what I’d just told him.
“I’ve lived this before already. All of this,” I said through my tears and heaving breaths. “I became Benjamin’s mate. I became the Luna. I even helped lead us all to become the country’s most powerful pack there ever was, just as the Elders predicted. I did everything that was ever asked of me! But it wasn’t enough, Father… I wasn’t enough.”
“…I don’t understand….” His eyes were wide. This probably wasn’t the sort of confession he had been expecting. “How could…?”
I wanted to explain further, to give him the kind of explanation he could understand, but instead, all I could do was break down in front of him, my body crumbling into complete heart-wrenching sobs.
“…Because he didn’t love me, papa,” was all I could choke out. “…He didn’t love me.”
It was the words that been ingrained in my mind for far too
long. Since coming back, I had told myself multiple times that my past feelings for Benjamin didn’t bother me anymore, that I didn’t care. But the truth was, even though this body didn’t know yet of the void left by Benjamin’s physical rejection, I still remembered.
I still remembered the excruciating pain of being hurt every single day I lived in that hell, years before he even rejected me officially. The kind of pain that could only arise from loving someone with your entire being.
I was no longer able to stop the flood of emotions coming up all at once and I was sure my father had no idea what was going on. But he must have understood enough to see that, whatever it was I was trying to tell him, it was enough to cause me to be in this much emotional distress just from talking about it.
He pulled me into his arms and held tightly onto me as I cried against him. Everything had spilled out of me all at once. Things I had sworn to never tell anyone, things I didn’t think I would ever be able to share with someone. But I didn’t care anymore if he thought I was insane. I couldn’t live like this.
“Shhh, Winona,” he soothed. “It’s okay.”
I just clung to him tighter, burying my sobbing face further into his chest.
“Please… help me, papa.”
He didn’t say anything else after that, he just held me in his arms until I’d exhausted myself.
I was grateful that he didn’t push the topic again for that
night. By the time I had finished shedding every last tear in
my body, he just picked me up and took me to bed. It was a moment that I was glad to still be small enough for him to carry me as he did, knowing that there was no way I would have been able to rely on my legs again for that day.
And when we finally got to my bedroom, he stayed with me as I continued to cling to him for dear life. He stayed with me until finally, I drifted to sleep.
It was a blessing I was too exhausted to dream that night.
As expected, the next morning my father was obviously wanting an explanation for what had happened the night. before.
And so, I told him. I told him everything. And the more I spoke, the more that poured out of me, and soon I found that I couldn’t stop myself from giving every little detail.
I told him how I had ended up as Luna and how I’d become Benjamin’s blade in his war against the world for power. How I had so desperately fought for his love… only for it to have been given to another. And lastly, I told him about the trial… and how Benjamin had finally killed me.
He was silent the entire time, taking in every word I said and never interrupting.
But by the time I finally finished, I looked up to my father and saw a few tears had escaped his eyes. Something I had only seen him do once before… right before I had died.
Having confessed about my prior life to my father, I felt liberated at last. I now had someone I knew I could rely on completely and who would help me with what I needed to achieve in order to avoid the same fate.
He’d had a lot of questions, many of which I couldn’t answer, but he was content with the answers I could provide him. We spoke about Benjamin, how I felt about him now and how I’d been since coming back. And we agreed that, in order to move forward, I needed to stop looking back… that the only way I was going to be able to truly find a new fate was if I stopped being haunted around every corner.
This included working on letting my feelings for Benjamin go eventually. I knew it would be tough, and wouldn’t happen overnight, but we both knew I wasn’t going to be able to become Beta if I was terrified of the very Alpha I was pledged to. I could see this would be the hardest part of my journey; learning to accept what had happened to me and trying to move forward.
The next day, my father went to Alpha Leo to propose a meeting be held in order to discuss the current Beta heir position, mentioning also that I would be present. I was told he was extremely intrigued by the idea of me attending and immediately agreed for it to be scheduled in.
In the meantime, whilst we were waiting for the big day to occur, my father and I had begun training after school and on weekends. I wasn’t sure what he had ended up telling my mother, but he had somehow managed to convince her to let me drop Luna studies. Father and I both now knew that I o didn’t need the extra lessons and it allowed me to spend my time preparing myself physically for the difficult road ahead of me. The only person who probably ended up unhappy with the new arrangements was my former Luna studies tutor, Helen, who had been enjoying the easy paycheques up until recently.
I also found my father definitely lived up to his reputation
when it came to fighting. His lessons were informative and I saw myself making the progress I’d so badly been lacking the last few months without Bash. And though their fighting styles were completely different, I eventually was able to adjust to my father’s techniques with ease. He pushed me further than Bash ever had and I appreciated that he didn’t go easy on me. One of the most vital ways I was going to succeed in this crazy endeavour to become Beta was if I could, by some miracle, prove my merit in battle. That I was just as good as a male heir.
Before long, the day of the meeting then arrived. It had taken over a month to find a time in the Alpha’s schedule where he was free for smaller matters, and I found myself incredibly nervous to be facing him.
I stood outside the meeting hall doors with my father, staring at the wood as if it could somehow show me what was waiting for me on the other side. We both knew how much would be riding on this discussion today.
“You don’t need to be so anxious,” my father said to me. “You’ve done things far more nerve-wracking and crazy than this before.”
I knew he was right but somehow it still felt like one of the biggest moments I’d had in either of my lives. I couldn’t help but feel sick.
“Hey,” he said, making me look up to meet his eyes. “Just show them who you are and what you’re capable of. You have nothing to worry about.”
I clenched my jaw and nodded at him. I could do this.
He pushed open the doors and inside I was surprised at what I