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Chapter 3: Master

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It's wrong to doubt the Moon Goddess, but as I make my way to the pack house, I can't help but question her purpose for mating me and Theo.

The rogue I was locked up with was right; the Alpha does not give punishments lightly, and I fear my hesitations with our bond are deserved. Even so, the pull in my heart isn't deterred. Somewhere far inside of me—mind, body, and soul—his claim has been etched, and it coaxes my admiration.

The front door is still unlocked when I arrive back, so I let myself in and shut it behind me. I step out of my shoes and go directly upstairs, but my attention snags on the master's double doors, and I swing around the railing post towards it. I stop and stare and simultaneously listen for Maude in the kitchen; she must be drinking tea because I don't hear anyone.

There are certain Alphas; Alphas that make Rowan look like a teddy bear—dark ones whose territory may as well be walled in with turrets and guards and head-topped stakes—and I'm mated to their king, Alpha Draven. And this is his room.

I reach for one of the handles and open the door slightly, creating just enough space to call, "Theo?"

No one is inside.

It seems masochistic to do so, but I push the door further until I see most of the room. My fingers pick at one another, so I ball them into fists. His scent wafts out and wraps around me, and I let it reel me in, trespassing again. My steps are short and cautious at first—my adrenaline spikes and my heart thunders—but my fear gradually soothes, and I reckon the soothing is an effect of Theo's scent. How ironic, I think.

His bedroom is masculine in its color palette yet soft and comfortable in its textures. I run my fingertips along the end of the bed as though they're dipping into a pool of water. It feels like everywhere I go, I shouldn't be there, but I should belong in my mate's bedroom. I want to belong with my mate in his pack, yet Theo seems far from loving, and I feel no more welcome here than I did the night I left home. The women who work in the pack house are kind, but it's obvious I'm an outsider.

As expected, our bond persists within me. But what if my surge of new feelings isn't returned? Does he feel our bond as strongly as I do?

I'm afraid he doesn't. By the way my cellmate described him, I should be surprised he even has a heart for mine to link to.

Conflicted, I stride to one of the elegantly framed windows and gaze out at the forest, yearning for clarity as I sneak about like a mouse on a trap-ridden floor.

Footsteps ascending the stairs drive my heart into my throat. Submerging myself in his scent rendered me blind to his return, but my realization comes too late. I hurry to the bedroom doors on the balls of my feet and draw the open door closed behind me, but it's pointless. When the door latches into place, and I look at the stairs, Theo is there staring like a judge of the dead. I release the door handle as my arms cover with goosebumps.

"I'm sorry," I breathe.

"Are you?"

"Yes, I-I shouldn't have gone in."

"Why did you?" he questions, even-tempered yet maintaining a formidable aura. "Is there something you need?"

"No." Sheepish, I repeat, "I'm sorry," hoping he'll let me off, even if its out of pity, but Theo eyes me as though I have something hidden behind my back.

Thankfully, he settles. "Right."

I step away from the door, and, before he questions me again, I change the subject: "I should see my family—tell them I'm mated."

He exhales, glancing at the bedroom doors. "You came from the East. Did you belong to Rowan?"

I nod.

"Then I can't send you."

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