Claimed By the Moon by L.P. Dover

1

Zayne

There are days when I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, and right now is one of those times. Keeping watch over Amelie is both torture and yet, a comfort. Leaning against the tree, I cross my arms over my chest and watch her through the living room window. With Christmas coming up in another month, she already has her cabin decked out with Christmas lights all around the porch. She even has her Christmas tree in the living room, decorated with multi-colored lights. Every night she wraps up in a blanket on the couch and reads. Sometimes she’ll sit by the window and look out at the woods where I’m at, but I know she doesn’t see me. She has no clue I’m her mate, but I know she’s mine even though the mating signs haven’t appeared. Hell, I’ve never even said one word to her, but I know everything about her. Opening my hand, I avert my gaze away from Amelie to the smooth green stone in my palm. The magic inside of it shows me one thing and one thing only … her—my mate.

A twig snaps behind me, but I don’t turn around. I picked up on Colin’s presence long before he entered the forest. I knew he was going to come to me, especially after what happened on Thanksgiving. I haven’t spoken to him since that morning.

“Thought I’d find you here,” he says, keeping his voice low. He comes up closer and leans against a tree, keeping out of sight even though I know Amelie can’t sense us out here. With him being a royal arctic like myself, we can choose to let other wolves pick up on our presence. “I rode by your house first,” he adds. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see him staring at me, waiting for me to acknowledge him. He sighs and speaks again. “Didn’t feel like shifting tonight?”

Sliding the stone in my pocket, I finally look over at him and shrug. “I have my days. Tomorrow I’m leaving to meet a client.”

He nods. “Yeah, I saw that on your schedule.”

Colin’s focus turns to the cabin, and his gaze lands on Amelie. He’s changed so much in the last year. I was his sworn protector after the Yukons attacked the Royal Pack and killed both of our families. My two brothers got away, along with Colin’s two sisters. We all went our separate ways to keep safe and stay hidden. I watched over Colin until he came of age, and now, he’s my business partner at L&S Architectural Design. He’s like a son to me, but he’s been more of a meddling pain in the ass here recently.

“Shouldn’t you be with your mate?” I ask.

Colin smirks. “Kami knows I’m here. We were disappointed you didn’t show for Thanksgiving dinner. What’s crazy is that I felt you close by. Did you get cold feet?”

I glare at him. No one told me Amelie was going to be there. Colin and Kami intentionally kept that information from me when I agreed to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. “I don’t appreciate the games,” I growl low. “I know what you and Kami are doing.” They’re trying to push Amelie and me together.

Colin’s smile fades. “Why are you so afraid to be around Amelie? She’s your mate.”

Clenching my fists, I turn back to the cabin. Amelie is beautiful, intelligent, and everything I could ever want in a mate. My wolf burns to be near her, but the wall I’ve built inside of me after losing Alina is proving impenetrable. She wasn’t my true mate or a wolf, but a faerie; I loved her. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to protect her when she needed me, and it’s haunted me ever since. The real tragedy is that I had to leave on pack business, and I didn’t know Alina was pregnant. The Sierra Pack alpha killed her, and he raised my daughter as his own, using her for her fae magic. I’d have given anything to kill the bastard, but my brother, Sebastian, beat me to it. I haven’t fully forgiven him for taking away my vengeance.

“I’m not afraid of Amelie,” I hiss. “I just …” With a heavy sigh, I avert my eyes away from her and back to him. “You wouldn’t understand.” I’ve lived almost two hundred years more than him. I’ve seen and lived through more pack wars than he could ever imagine. Yes, he lost his parents, but so did I, along with many countless others I loved. It wasn’t until I came face to face with my daughter, Laila, that I allowed myself to feel again. And even then, I hate myself for not knowing she was mine. She’s an adult now, mated, and expecting a baby any day now. She has the same red hair as Alina, but Laila has my blue eyes. There’s so much time I missed with her, and I’ll never get it back. I’ve been trying to make up for it ever since. The problem with loving someone so deeply is that when you lose it, it rips you apart. I swore I’d never allow myself to be that vulnerable again. And now, there’s Amelie.

Colin blows out a slow sigh, keeping his eyes on mine. “You’re right. I don’t understand. There are things you’ve been through that I never will. All I’m asking is that you try. This isn’t just your life, but Amelie’s as well. You both deserve to be happy. She is your true mate.”

I don’t even know where to begin with her. I can’t just show up on her doorstep and tell her I’m her mate. Clenching my teeth, I turn away from him and look up at the sky. The snow had cleared out hours ago along with the clouds, letting the moon shine its light through the trees. I wish I knew what the hell to do.

Colin huffs and throws his hands in the air. “You can be a stubborn ass all you want, Zayne, but you need to sack up and figure out what the hell you’re doing. The Great Luna isn’t going to magically bring Amelie to you. I, for one, know the goddess of the moon likes to make us work for it. I learned that firsthand with Kami.” He steps toward me and places a hand on my shoulder. “Call me if you need anything.”

I nod and watch him disappear into the forest. The darkness is where I’ve been for the past thirty years; it’s where I prefer to be. Amelie is the complete opposite. When I look at her, she’s like the sun, someone who belongs in the light where everyone can see her. But, unfortunately, I don’t know how to be what she needs me to be.