We stood in front of the Alpha in silence as he glanced between Alexander and I.
“Thank you for waiting, Alexander… Winona,” he started. I still couldn’t read his face, his expression not giving me any hints to the results.
“The council and I have discussed this at long length and the result was… a tie.”
My mouth opened in shock as I stared at Leo. A tie? What did that even mean for us then?
“It appears we were completely split in half, five to five. And so, Alexander….”
“Yes, Alpha?” my cousin replied, straightening his back as his name was called.
“You may continue with your training for Beta….”
“Yes!” my uncle yelled out, ecstatic with the victory. I almost couldn’t believe he had spoken so childishly in front of the entire council.
But my heart sank at Leo’ words. Had I really failed? In my head, I instantly began to think of ways I could overturn the decision and have someone change their deciding vote.
“And if William would have let me finish…,” the Alpha continued, breaking my thoughts. “…Winona, you are to take up training also.” Leo glared my uncle down as he spoke. “We
intend to have you both train for the position until Winona comes of age. Upon that time, both parties will undertake an exam… and will also duel for the right to succeed as Beta.”
I couldn’t help the small tug of a smile that played on my lips. at this announcement.
Whilst no one could disagree that the exam would be easy for me, I knew most here would think I was at a clear disadvantage with the proposal for a duel. My cousin, being one year older than me, would be seen to have the upper hand having had at least a year to learn how to fight in his wolf form by then; something that takes time to master.
Unbeknownst to almost everyone in this room though, I was already well acquainted with my wolf. It was true I wasn’t a fighter in the past, but I had mastered moving in her body flawlessly over the six years I had been able to shift. I knew when she eventually came back to me that it would be like greeting an old friend. I had missed her dearly already.
Of course, I would have preferred to have been given the title straight up, but this didn’t seem like the worse compromise either. The exam would be a piece of cake, and a battle wouldn’t be that difficult if I kept up with my training. If it meant working hard for another three years, then so be it. I would defeat my cousin, avoid becoming Luna, and get to see the heartbroken look on my uncle’s face as I reigned
victorious, all at once.
Everyone in the room was a little unnerved by my mildly pleased reaction but I didn’t care.
“I accept,” I said calmly.
Jocked eyes with Leo as I said this and saw he had that same
look of curiosity in them that I’d gotten to know so well now. The look that said he was eager to see what I’d do next, almost as if I was his favourite pet to watch. Well, I wasn’t one to divulge the old man, but I certainly found his idea of resolving the dispute creative.
And so that’s how I became a probationary Beta heir… subject to approval.
My life definitely became busy after that.
Much to my disappointment, I still wasn’t allowed to drop school to focus on more important matters. The only benefit of this was that it allowed me to still see Ava, someone who I’d otherwise be too busy to see regularly anymore.
Every day after school, and several hours over the weekend, I now spent with my father either training or learning about the new role requirements. Many of the duties for the Beta seemed not too dissimilar from the things I’d been looking after as a Luna. Because of this, I was picking up the differences very quickly.
The rest of the time that I wasn’t in training or school, I was either attending council meetings or completing small errands. Some of which were with Benjamin.
Typically, the Alpha and Beta heir were meant to start working together from around the age of sixteen onwards. Since I was still short of this age, most of his time was therefore spent with Alexander instead. I, of course, didn’t mind this in the slightest.
But the times we did spend together, I found it was becoming slightly easier with every meeting. I did my best to ignore how nervous I was around him by throwing myself into my work.
And whilst I still jumped and flinched whenever he came too close, it was definitely a lot better than it had been several months ago. But, that being said, as much as I’d managed to improve, it still didn’t stop me from leaving the very second we were done with whatever our task was for that day.
By the time five months had passed, I felt like I was finally in a good place and had a clear path to achieving my goals.
And so, today, I found myself with a day off, much to my surprise given my normally very busy schedule. My father was out of town on a Beta errand and there were no meetings to be held for the day. I considered helping Lily with managing some of the investments we’d recently looked into, but I’d forgotten she was seeing the private investigator today and wouldn’t be back until tonight.
It was only the second time I’d ever had so much free time to myself and, once again, I felt a little at a loss for what to do. But, if it was true what people said and good things came in threes, I was hoping it wouldn’t be the last time I’d get some of the much-needed downtime.
With having nothing better to do and with no one to tell me otherwise, I did the only thing I could think of; I went to see
Sure, I probably should have taken the extra time to do some training alone, but it was such a rare opportunity that I didn’t even care. I’d been working so hard the last few months and felt that I deserved to treat myself.
And what better way to treat myself than with junk food from a certain cottage cafe?
Within two hours, I was seated across from Ava with a plate
full of fries in front of me. She stared at me with a fascination as I ate, her head resting against her hand as she watched.
“You know… they have other options to eat,” she said.
| didn’t even reply as I was too absorbed in the food before me. Having experienced it for myself now, I could see how junk food could quickly become addictive.
She sighed. “You are a marvel, Winona.”
Ava then began eating her own food, a sad-looking chicken salad. It probably was actually delicious but it was the sort of food I was eating basically every day now. I still had a love and appreciation for it… but it wasn’t enough to make me want to order it of my own volition.
“So, what have you been up to?” I asked, sipping at some sort of vanilla milkshake thing. It had random pieces of cookie in it and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Regardless of the weird addition, it still tasted nice, albeit a bit strange.
“Not much,” she replied. “To be honest, I’ve mostly been busy helping my parents out… but, oh!…Actually….”
Her face changed, a small crease forming between her brows.
“I wasn’t sure if I should tell you…,” she said slowly, “but I heard from Bash the other day. He sent me a letter.”
I tensed up at hearing his name.
“Oh…?” was all I could say, now staring intensely at the milkshake in front of me.