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Shadows of the pack novel Chapter 80

Ryder leaned against a stone pillar, observing Knox's agitated movements. The flickering torchlight played upon his face, casting shadows that danced in rhythm with Knox's pacing. Finally, Ryder's voice broke the silence, cutting through Knox's tumultuous contemplations. "Knox, this pacing won't solve anything. We need to address Winter's message and figure out our next steps."
Knox halted abruptly, his amber eyes locking onto Ryder's steady gaze. "You think I don't know that, Ryder?" His voice was tinged with frustration, the tension of the situation palpable in the air around them.
Ryder pushed himself off the pillar and approached Knox, his expression serious. "I know you're worried, but we can't let fear cloud our judgment. JB has spoken with Winter, and he believes her words hold truth. She wouldn't have come if it wasn't important."
Knox's fingers clenched into fists, his inner struggle mirrored in the way his muscles tensed. "But why her? Why now?" His voice held a mix of frustration and helplessness, as if the weight of the world rested upon his shoulders
Ryder's brows furrowed, his gaze never leaving Knox's face. "We don't have all the answers, Knox. Maybe it's something bigger than us, something beyond our understanding. All we can do is face it head-on."
Knox's jaw tightened, his wolf's growl reverberating within his thoughts as if echoing his own uncertainty. "Why Aria? And now my pup. Why can't we just have peace for a little while longer? And now, my mate's life is being threatened. I can't protect her if I don't have the full details of this eclipse."
Ryder's expression softened, his voice carrying a reassuring tone. "Aria will be fine. She always has been and I promise you, the pack won't let anything happen to your pup."
Ryder's words seemed to cut through Knox's turmoil, offering a sliver of reassurance in the midst of the chaos. Knox's gaze shifted from Ryder's intense eyes to the ground, his fists slowly unclenching as he took in a deep breath.
"You're right, Ryder," Knox admitted, his voice a mixture of resignation and determination. "We can't control everything, but we can control how we respond. I won't let fear paralyze me."
Ryder laid a hand on Knox's shoulder, his grip firm and steady. "That's the alpha spirit," he said with a supportive smile. "Now, let's gather the pack and figure out our plan. Winter's message might be cryptic, but together we can decipher its meaning."
Nodding, Knox glanced around the chamber, his thoughts already turning toward the impending meeting with the pack. "We'll need the ancient scrolls, the ones that detail the significance of the Celestial eclipse," he said, his voice gaining strength as his mind settled on a course of action.
"You don't look worried," Shana remarked, her eyebrows knitting together in a mix of curiosity and concern.
Aria offered a half-hearted smile, her eyes betraying the swirl of emotions beneath the surface. "Should I be?" she replied with a sigh, her voice tinged with a hint of resignation.
Shana's expression shifted from curiosity to incredulity, as if she couldn't quite believe what she was hearing. "Are you okay?" she asked, her words laced with genuine worry. "Some random she wolf just told you that you'd take your last breath on the eve before all wolves lose their powers, and she isn't even a little bit worried?"
Aria's lips tightened as she regarded Shana, the weight of the situation reflected in her eyes. "Believe me, Shana, I'm not taking this lightly. But getting worked up won't change the prophecy or the path we have to tread."
Shana's eyes widened, her disbelief only growing. "Aria, I get that you're trying to stay composed, but this isn't just some run-of-the-mill prophecy. It's like... the fate of the world is resting on your shoulders!"
Aria's gaze dropped to the ground, her heart heavy with the enormity of it all. "I know, Shana," she said softly. "But what good would it do if I spent every waking moment in a state of panic? We need to be strategic, thoughtful. We need answers, not anxiety."
Shana huffed, frustration etched across her features. "And how do you plan to get those answers? The she wolf didn't exactly hand you a playbook."
Aria's lips twitched into a rueful smile. "No, she didn't," she admitted. Her eyes went to her mark, the crescent shape glistening just like it always did.
She closed her eyes channeling her connection to her wolf. She sat still simply staring ahead. She tried again to reach Knox through their bond but once again, he had shut her out just like he had been doing a lot recent.
Shana watched Aria's actions, her brow furrowing slightly.
Aria's gaze returned to Shana, her expression a blend of determination and something more enigmatic. Shana could sense that there was something Aria wasn't saying, something lying just beneath the surface of her composed facade.
Shana's voice softened as she spoke, "Aria, are you sure you're okay? You seem... different."
Aria's lips curved into a faint smile, tinged with a hint of melancholy. "It's just... the bond," she began, her voice carrying a note of vulnerability. "It's not as strong as it used to be."
Shana's eyes widened with realization. "You mean the bond with Knox?"
Aria nodded, her gaze distant. "Yes. It's like he's shut me out, or maybe he's struggling to keep the connection stable. Either way, I can't reach him as easily as before."
"Have you talked to him about this?" Shana asked gently.
Aria's gaze turned inward, her fingers absently tracing the crescent mark on her wrist. "I've tried," she admitted. "But every time I reach out, it's like I'm met with a wall. It's not that he's intentionally shutting me out, I can tell that much. It's more like... something is disrupting the link."
Shana's brows furrowed with concern. "Could it be related to the prophecy? To the threat against your pup?"
Aria's expression turned contemplative. "It's possible. Maybe there's something about the nature of this prophecy that's affecting our bond. Or maybe he's trying to shield me from something, to keep me safe."
Shana's hand found Aria's, a comforting squeeze of support. "You know, Aria, you're not alone in this. We'll figure it out together. And Knox, he loves you. He'll find a way to communicate with you, to be there for you."
Aria offered Shana a small, appreciative smile. "Thank you, Shana."
Shana nodded, "Aria?"
Aria raised her gaze to meet Shana's smile, "I know. You are changing packs."
Jacob took a deep breath, his heart racing as he approached her. "Melody," he called out.
Melody paused in her sparring, her expression tight as she turned her attention to him. "Jacob," she acknowledged, her voice cool and guarded.
"We need to talk," Jacob said, his voice soft yet earnest.
Melody's gaze flickered, her eyes holding a hint of reluctance. "There's nothing more to say," she replied, her tone final.
Jacob's jaw tightened, his frustration bubbling to the surface. "Melody, please," he implored, taking a step closer. "This isn't something we can just sweep under the rug."
He reached out, his hand hovering in the space between them before he let it fall back to his side. "Mel—" he began.
Melody's smile was bittersweet, her eyes holding a mixture of pain and resignation. "Please don't," she cut him off gently. "Let's just keep pretending like nothing happened."
 "The mark still hasn't healed, Melody," he blurted out, the words spilling from his lips before he could stop them.
Melody froze, her hand on the door handle of the pack house. She turned slowly, her gaze locking onto Jacob's with a mix of surprise and uncertainty. "What do you mean?" she asked.
Jacob took a step closer, his eyes never leaving hers. "I mean exactly what I said. It's not healing, and I think you know why."
Melody's brows furrowed, her gaze narrowing. "I told you, Jacob. It will heal soon. It's just taking longer than expected."
Jacob shook his head, his expression resolute. "Melody, there's more to it than that, and you know it. We can't just pretend that everything is fine when it's not."
Melody took a step back, her defenses rising. "I don't know what you want me to say, Jacob. It was a mistake, okay? It shouldn't have happened."
Jacob's hand reached out instinctively, his fingers curling around her forearm gently but firmly. "No, Melody," he said, his voice carrying a mixture of sincerity and urgency. "It wasn't just a mistake. It was a choice, and we both know it meant something."
Melody looked him straight in the eyes, "It went nothing." She turned around realizing then that her sparring partner was gone. She turned back to Jacob and opened her mouth to say something but with a growl, Jacob pulled her towards himself and smashed his lips on hers.


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