Finn’s eyes widened, and she wanted to let the tears fall. He’d been through his own hell with the bond between wolf and man, and the bond between him and his mate. Yet she couldn’t think about that, not now, not ever. “Charlotte. You can't say that. You don't believe that.”
“I was born to a monster. Chained to a wall for longer than I care to remember. I watched my sister, now mother, die before somehow coming back. I was the one who told them how to kill my brother, Corbin, though they didn't have the chance. I saw more horrors than you could ever dream of before I even met the Redwoods. And you think the moon goddess blessed me? No. I don't think so. I might have had time with a family I don't deserve, but now what does she do? She gives me a mate that sides with the enemy. She gives me the enemy himself.”
Finn reached out, but she took a step back.
“Don't. Don't try to make it better. The moon goddess, in all her wisdom, gave me a human to love, a human to cherish. That…I could do. I would embrace humanity with all my heart, even if they don’t embrace us. But she didn't just give me a human. She gave me a soldier. She gave me a man who wants to kill us. Who wants to hold us captive and dissect us.” And she didn’t let her have the one wolf who should have been hers.
“You don't know that. He's not the leader, Charlotte. He could be different from the others.”
She laughed, but it held no humor. “Even better. He's a pawn with no steel, no strength. He only listens to those that fear us and want to harm us.” She rolled her shoulders and knew she had to be stronger than she was. “I'm done, Finn. I won't mate with him. I won't listen to the moon goddess or my wolf. He's not mine. He'll never be mine.”
She'd grown up alone. It only made sense she'd die that way, too.
It didn’t seem fair that she should be so far away while he was stuck here, wondering if she were okay. If she were safe. But nothing was ever fair in life, and Bram Devlin had learned that years before. And though he knew deep down that Charlotte could take care of herself and would always be a strong fighter, the dominant wolf inside him needed to make sure she was cared for.
His best friend had told him time and time again that it grated on her when Bram acted overprotectively. He couldn’t help it, though, especially considering the strength of his wolf…and the woman he wanted to protect.
Charlotte was his best friend, his one-time lover, and the one woman he wanted to spend the rest of his days with. That fact sent a shock of pain through his chest, and he did his best to ignore it. He’d been getting too good at ignoring a lot of things recently.
“You okay?” Gina asked him quietly. Gina was the Enforcer of the Redwood Pack, bonded to the others irrevocably and able to sense danger to the Pack from outside forces. Since their Pack was on the verge of war with the human population, he figured she must constantly have a hum along her bonds, warning her of what was to come.
She was also the daughter of the Alpha, his boss, and Charlotte’s cousin. Since many of the upper levels of the Pack held members of the Jamenson family, and the older generations had all felt the need to have numerous children, Bram couldn’t take two steps without bumping into one of Charlotte’s family members.
Usually, he didn’t mind it since they had taken him in when he’d had no one, but right then, he’d rather not see them. As a whole, they saw far too much of what he was feeling, and since he wanted their baby Charlotte in every position possible as well as by his side until the end of days, he didn’t think it would be good for them to know.
Charlotte’s father, uncles, and cousins were big ass wolves, who hadn’t slowed down even after they’d hit a century in age. Since wolves had far greater healing abilities than humans, they lived longer lifespans. He knew of a few wolves that were over five hundred years old and had been able to hide that fact from humanity for far longer than anyone thought possible. But now that the secret was out thanks to the Unveiling that had been out of their control, the mortals were getting curious.