Knox watched as Rebecca's eyes sparkled basking in the attention and he let out a low growl, his wolf equally irritated by the attention she was getting.
Aria swatted him, a small smile playing on her lips, "Stop it or someone might hear you."
Knox sat back, clicking his tongue in annoyance, "How long do I need to put up with her being here? The pup is born now. Can't I kick her out?"
Aria's voice carried a sense of weariness as she locked eyes with Knox. "Knox, I understand your anger, but this isn't just about her anymore. It's about the pup, about giving it a chance for a better life."
Knox's gaze remained fixed on Rebecca, his expression hardened. "She doesn't deserve a second chance after what she did to me."
Aria's fingers brushed against his hand, her touch gentle yet firm. "I know you're hurt, but holding onto that anger only poisons you. We've all made mistakes."
Knox's jaw tensed as he tore his gaze away from Rebecca and met Aria's earnest eyes. "You have a good heart, Aria. Sometimes, I think it's your only flaw."
Aria's lips curved into a sad smile. "And sometimes, your stubbornness is your own downfall."
His wolfish pride wavered, a mixture of emotions clouding his expression. "Fine. I'll tolerate her presence for the pup's sake, but don't expect me to forgive her anytime soon."
Aria's smile brightened, a glimmer of hope returning to her eyes. "That's a start, Knox. Thank you."
As the moments passed, Knox's rigid posture gradually relaxed, and he let out a resigned sigh. "I just hope she knows how lucky she is that you believe in second chances."
Aria's gaze softened, her fingers interlocking with his. "And I hope you realize how lucky I am to have you, despite your rough edges."
His lips quirked into a half-smile, a rare display of vulnerability. "Yeah, well, don't expect me to start writing love sonnets anytime soon."
Aria chuckled softly, "I wouldn't dream of it."
Her eyes suddenly went to Melody who sat watching Rebecca with irritation displayed on her features.
Aria let out a tired sigh, "Looks like you are not the only one who is upset about her being here. They must have been really close for it to have hurt her this much."
Knox nodded, "They were best friends, practically sisters and when we found Shana, the three of them were inseparable."
Aria's expression turned thoughtful, "I haven't even thought about Shana. She's going to throw a fit and I'm sure Mel is just waiting for that."
As if on cue, Melody abruptly rose from her seat and stormed out of the dining hall.
Knox's jaw clenched as he watched Melody's hasty departure, his protective instincts urging him to chase after her. He glanced at Aria, his eyes determined. "I need to talk to her."
Aria's grip on his wrist tightened, her voice gentle yet firm. "Looks like Jacob is already on it." She said pointing to Jacob who was already following her out of the dining hall.
Melody stood outside the bustling dining hall, her emotions a swirling tempest within her. The cool breeze ruffled her hair, offering a momentary respite from the turmoil that churned in her heart. Guilt gnawed at her, a relentless reminder of her own betrayals, just as Rebecca's presence had resurrected the memories of past transgressions.
She clenched her fists, her knuckles turning white, as she battled the storm of emotions raging within her. Her anger was a fiery force, directed not only at Rebecca but also at herself. Aria's readiness to forgive grated on her, a constant reminder of her own shortcomings.
As the tears welled up in her eyes, Melody blinked them away, refusing to succumb to her vulnerability. She had always been strong but lately, the weight of her actions and the complexities of her emotions had begun to wear her down.
Her gaze fixated on the ground, her thoughts drifting to the pup, a symbol of new beginnings. A bitter irony twisted within her, the realization that she had contributed to this moment, even though her heart ached with resentment. The conflicting emotions stirred within her, and a part of her wanted to hate Rebecca for the pain she had caused, yet another part couldn't deny the slight twinge of empathy.
The thought of Shana tugged at her heartstrings. Now that she was with Jackson, she hardly ever saw her anymore and she missed her so much.
Melody's fingers brushed away the first few tears that trickled down her cheeks, her resolve to remain strong warring with her overwhelming emotions. She took a shuddering breath, her chest heaving, when the sudden sound of footsteps interrupted her thoughts.
Jacob approached her with a concerned expression. His voice was gentle as he spoke, "Melody, are you okay?"
Melody's shoulders stiffened, and she wiped away the tears more forcefully this time. She turned to Jacob, her gaze a mix of vulnerability and frustration. "I'm fine. Just needed some air."
Jacob studied her for a moment, his eyes filled with understanding. "You know, it's okay not to be okay sometimes."
Melody's lips quirked into a bitter smile, her voice tinged with self-derision. "Easy for you to say, Jacob. You haven't messed things up like I have."
He took a step closer, his presence a comforting anchor. "We all have our own battles, Melody. And forgiveness, well, that's a journey. Just like healing."
Melody's gaze softened, and she let out a sigh. "I know I messed up, Jacob. It's just hard seeing everyone move on like nothing happened."
Jacob stared at her knowing her words held a double meaning, "Mel—" he started.
Melody smiled sadly, "Please don't. Let's just keep pretending like nothing happened."
She turned around despite her wolf's resistance for her to stay. Her wolf liked Jacob. Liked having his scent surrounding her but there was only so much more pain Melody could take.
"The mark isn't healing Melody." Jacob shouted just before she stepped into the pack house.
Melody stopped, her hand on the door handle before turning to face him, "Nothing ever happened between us Jacob", and with that she stepped into the pack house.
Antonio sat hunched over his desk, candlelight flickering as he meticulously crossed another name off the list. Each stroke of the quill marked another life extinguished, another addition to their quest to spill blood. He glanced up as the door creaked open, revealing Nicholas standing in the doorway.
Nicholas entered the room, his expression a mix of determination and concern. "Antonio," he began, his voice a hushed tone, "we need to discuss the details of the attack during the celestial eclipse."
Antonio set the quill down and leaned back, studying Nicholas. "Of course. The time is drawing near, and we can't afford any mistakes. What's on your mind?"
Nicholas paced across the room, his brows furrowed. "I've been thinking about the logistics. Coordinating our hunters, ensuring the element of surprise, and most importantly, making sure we strike at the heart of the werewolf society."
Antonio nodded, his fingers tapping thoughtfully on the wooden surface of the desk. "Agreed. We know the mother is vulnerable during childbirth, and if we take her out before the pup is born, it could destabilize their entire hierarchy."
"Exactly," Nicholas replied, his gaze steady. "But we can't ignore the fact that they'll be desperate to protect her during such a crucial time. They'll have heightened security, and our hunters need to be prepared for that."
Antonio leaned forward, his voice low and calculated. "We've been training for this. Our hunters are skilled and disciplined. We'll divide them into squads, each with a specific objective. We'll target key locations simultaneously to create confusion and divert their attention."
Nicholas nodded in agreement. "That's a solid strategy. And if we take out their leaders during the chaos, it could send shockwaves through their ranks."
"We can't underestimate them, though," Antonio warned, his expression hardening. "They may be powerless during the eclipse, but they're still formidable fighters."
"I agree," Nicholas affirmed. "And we should have a backup plan in case things don't go as smoothly as we hope. We can't afford to leave anything to chance."
Antonio's gaze met Nicholas', a steely resolve in his eyes. "Nicholas, we've been through countless battles together. We've faced danger and darkness head-on. This is no different. We've sworn to protect our realm, and we'll do whatever it takes."
Nicholas's shoulders squared as he returned Antonio's gaze. "You're right. We'll see this through to the end, no matter what challenges arise. We owe it to those we've lost, to the innocent lives that have been affected by the werewolves' reign."
Silence followed as Nicholas' eyes went down to the book in front of Antonio, "I have a name for you to cross off."
Antonio gripped his blade tightly staring right into Nicholas' eyes, "Tell me."
Nicholas met his gaze unwavering, "The Beta of the pack they call Nightshade. Ryder Stark."