Melissa Bell is sharing the first chapter from her story, Valley of the Shadows from the upcoming #ShiftersHallowsEve Anthology…
30th October – Colorado.
“What the hell do you mean I don’t get to have a say in anything?” Rainah abruptly lifted her head and stared at her parents. She pushed her untouched plate back away from herself, her stomach suddenly rolling with nervous cramps.
Her father, Draven slammed his fist down on the table causing the plates to chink as they landed on top of the table again, “Enough!”
Rainah’s mother, Willow gently placed her hand over the top of her mate’s clenched fist on top of the table, “Sweetheart,” she looked at her daughter’s horrified expression. “We understand this all comes as quite a surprise to you, but this is how it has always been. It is an ancient tradition and one that we must follow. The Wardens of the North, South, East and West have all been keeping an eye on you.” Willow stated.
Rainah felt a shiver travel down her spine, “Well that just sounds creepy.” She curled her upper lip in a show of distaste.
“Your father spoke to the wardens and after many heated debates he successfully won you the right to attend college. However, you are now graduated and there is no further excuse to postpone the ceremony.”
“Mother, arranged marriages are barbaric to say the least.” Rainah crossed her arms over her chest, “I want a mating built on a love match, not a… a… cockfight.”
Draven growled and stood so fast that his chair flew backwards and clattered to the floor. “You will honour your family. The topic is closed.” When Willow tried to soothe her husband he pulled away from her. “You deal with her, she’s your daughter. I’m going for a run.” Draven stomped out through the front door banging it closed behind him.
“Rainah if you denounce your roll as the alpha’s daughter, you will bring great shame on your father.” Willow explained to her daughter, “It’s a matter of pride and honour, and you know as well as I, those are to essential elements that your father stands by. If you walk away from your duty,” Willow sighed sadly, “You will be walking away from everything, your family, your pack and your heritage.”
“Yes, but at what price mother?” Rainah asked.
“You will meet all of the perspective mates as they arrive for the feast on All Hallows Eve. Try not to display your temper in front of them. It will only encourage them to fight harder, they will want to win so they can be the one to tame you by claiming you as their mate.”
“Like I said mother, at what price? Am I not allowed to be happy simply because I was born a girl instead of a son to be the packs future alpha?”
“I’ve never hidden the laws from you.” Willow criticized her daughter.
“No you made them sound like fairy-tales and sweet dreams.” Rainah began to pace back and forth. “You told me of a prince charming who would love me before all else.” She flopped down in her chair again to pick at her now cold food. She should have known something wasn’t right when she walked in and found the table set and the smell of spicy chicken throughout the house. It was the one thing her mother cooked when she was trying to win Rainah’s confidence on an issue.
Even cold the damn chicken tasted delicious, only it was washed down with a huge helping of what am I going to do. Within a matter of minutes after finishing her dinner, Rainah felt extremely exhausted. Unable to keep her eyes open or to even focus on the dancing flowers on the tablecloth. Willow quickly pulled the empty plate out from in front of her daughter as Rainah’s head lolled forward and her forehead bumped the table. “Mother?”
“It’s for your own good sweetheart.” Willow replied softly as she moved around the table to run her hand over her daughter’s silky hair. Even in her present state of numbness, Rainah knew her mother had baited her. Ultimately taking away any chance of Rainah running away before the up-coming event.
Willow whistled for Rainah’s father to come back inside, “Carry her to the chamber, where she will be prepared for the ceremony.”
“This does not sit well with me,” Draven growled at his mate. “She will hate us if this doesn’t end in her favour.”
“She inherited your stubbornness, so you have no one to blame but yourself. I am simply abiding by the laws of the ritual.” Willow lifted her chin, “It doesn’t mean I love our daughter any less than if she’d been born a son.”
“Maybe she will learn to love the one who wins. I hope for the sake of the mating that he will be honourable and respect our daughter when all is said and done.”
“You are right my mate,” Draven carefully lifted his daughter into his arms and walked out of the house accompanied by Willow.
“What will we tell them at the banquette when Rainah is not present to greet the challengers for her mateship?”
“A night in the cave may be all the persuasion she will need to convince her to behave.”
“And if she is as stubborn as you say, it may not budge her an inch on the subject.” Draven argued.
“Regardless, if she is changed she cannot run away from her duty as the alpha’s only daughter.”
“You make it sound like it is my fault that you bore a girl child instead of a son.” Draven accused his mate.
“Not at all my beloved, I am the one who carries that burden. It is I who could not produce a future alpha after Rainah was born.” Willow sighed, “I have been thankful every day of our life since you did not walk away from me for such an injustice.”
“Woman I am the man who mated you, we belong to each other. There is nothing to be ashamed of or feel sad about. Our daughter will mate with the strongest alpha and they will rule the four corners as I have ruled with you by my side. It is how things are done.”
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