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Chapter 37: Gust

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"Did you know Rowan was going to try and keep me from leaving?"

Theo gives me a quizzical look.

I know resurrecting such a long-dismissed issue must seem sudden and surprising, yet I carry on.

"You didn't want to let me go at first, but then you suddenly changed your mind. I thought you felt sorry for me and tried to make me feel better by letting me visit my family, but... When I think back on it—"

He lifts from leaning on his forearm to his hand. "What are you suggesting? That I sent you in to start conflict?"

I swallow, my stomach growing nauseous, and then I nod.

"Why are you worried about this? It's over, Celeste. Rowan is done," he says, seeming farther away.

"Yes, but your issue with Belrose is just beginning, though it isn't really just beginning, is it? Because you knew nine years ago you would eventually retaliate."

Theo pushes up to sit, not leaving but not responding, either.

I sit up as well. "You said you would be honest with me about everything."

He rears his head.

"Just tell me: was this all a part of your plan? Send me in, give yourself a reason to go to war with Rowan, claim Belrose's debt, betray Belrose, kill Rowan, take his men and resources, and finally use it all to get rid of Belrose."

"You've really thought about this."

Have I thought about this? Not really. It all seems to be piecing together as my thoughts leave my tongue. "I just want to know why you changed your mind. Was it for me or for the title?"

"Celeste—"

"It's a simple answer."

"It's far from simple," he contends, losing his equanimity.

Suddenly our conversation has morphed from sweet mutterings to something defensive and much more accusatory than I had meant it to be. But I can't brush off my feelings. I can't ignore the hurt wrapping around our bond, attempting to strangle it.

I had hoped the unraveling events were coincidental, that he sent me to see my family for my benefit, but I suppose my need for answers proves my doubts.

Theo stands from the bed. "It doesn't change anything between us."

I graze my fingertips along my bedsheets, having to look away from him, but Theo insists otherwise. He grabs my chin and forces me to look up at him, his grip ensuring I don't jerk away; it isn't painful — I only wish it was followed by a comforting, reassuring truth.

My hopes fade rapidly when Theo fails to offer any truth at all.

My temper threatens to break loose, leaking some. "You used me one way, so what's next for me? Get me pregnant and have your heir? I'm sure an Old Blood pack needs one of those."

Theo's expression hardens.

"You know what we have is greater than the trivialities of war and titles," he says, letting go and regaining his composure so irritatingly well.

I don't want to argue, but I can't seem to stop myself either.

"Right now, I don't."

"We're mated by the Goddess, our souls are fated to one another," he says factually.

"And yet you've taken something so pure and used it to your advantage for a title." I shoot up. "I want so badly for our bond to be greater than war and titles."

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by Sydney
@TheSydneyMarie
Sheltered shifter Celeste runs away after disappointing her parents w...
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