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Chapter 5: Heat

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I walk briskly along the training ground's path, spotting its connection to the larger one just ahead.

I swallow, bracing for another rush of heat's foreign sensation, and it comes shortly, washing through my lower abdomen and crashing in between my legs. My expression scrunches. The pack house isn't too far, and once I'm there, I can weather these worsening sensations in privacy.

"Celeste."

I look behind me and see Theo approaching with little trouble. "Did Corbin tell you it's only a headache? If I lie down, it will go away," I insist.

He comes beside me, so I stop even though heat quickly shows me that it waits for nothing.

"What's wrong?" he asks.

"Just a headache."

"Your scent has changed."

"Are you sure? Maybe you're not remembering it correctly. I was just going back to lie down. Please, don't let me take you from the training," I say, piecing together my sentences as they gradually come to mind. My attention is split between Theo and the increasing desires churning inside of me, and it becomes clear how linked the two are.

"You're in heat."

My lips part. "I'm not."

"I—"

"I'm not in heat."

"Fine. You aren't." He peers off with his hands on his hips, and when he turns back, he says, "If you were, I... could help you...as your mate."

My thoughts bloom with ideas of intimacy and closeness, and I immediately command, "You can't. You're Alpha Draven, one of the...Alphas like Lily said, and i-it's wrong. All of this is going wrong."

"It's not wrong, Celeste. I'm the reason you're in heat."

My lip quivers as the wave of heat builds again, but I clench my jaw and will it to wait. "Please. Don't. I need space to figure out what's happening to me."

"I know what's happening to you."

"But I can't hear it from you; it's too much," I declare as my hot flash consumes me. "Even standing in front of you now is too much."

"You want to be alone?"

"Yes."

Reluctant, Theo thinks to himself. "You'll stay in the pack house?"

"Yes."

"You won't go anywhere?"

"No." I ball my hands and force my face to be still despite the wave crashing.

He sighs. "Alright. Go."

I turn without another thought and rush away from him, down the main walkway as my legs ache to squeeze together. Of all the things I assumed about heat, its emphasis is not one of them.

The house isn't empty, but I pay no mind to those inside and hurry upstairs. The second I'm alone in the spare room, I expect a sense of relief, but heat promptly teaches that there is no relief until it's over.

***

Lily and I never spoke much about the inner processes of matehood; she never wanted to discuss them, seeing as the majority of the time, she dreaded her eventual mating. Mother's explanations painted a general picture, and I understood how it all came together, but I couldn't recreate the image myself; there were brushstrokes and techniques she skipped over, but now, after enduring heat, I see why.

I don't want to be embarrassed over something I can't control, but I am. I wish Theo let me be instead of coming after me along the path, so I wasn't subjected to struggling in front of him, yet he owned his involvement.

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