Whole Again (A Queen Among Alphas spin-off)
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Spin-off in the Queen Among series. Landry Green's biggest regret is the night he rejected his soulmate at the Vernal Ball - a yearly gathering that sees packs around the world come together in hopes of its members finding their soulmates. Instantly left broken and ashamed for his rash decision, he worked to earn his way into Jennifer's heart with the help of his new Alpha. Every day he wakes up stunned that this sweet, loving woman gave him a second chance, and so he has vowed to never let her down again but their families couldn't be less pleased, though for entirely different reasons. Landry will prove to himself and everyone else that he can be the man Jennifer deserves and a man strong enough to stand up for those he loves and what he believes in. Here is the list of books in the series: A Queen Among Alphas - Book 1 Bite-Size Luna - A Queen Among Alphas Prequel A Queen Among Snakes - Book 2 Runaway Empress - A Queen Among Snakes Prequel (coming soon) A Queen Among Blood - Book 3 Whole Again - A Queen Among Alpha's spin-off A Queen Among Darkness - Book 4 Dark Invocation - A Queen Among Darkness spin-off (coming soon) A Queen Among Tides - Book 5 Valor, Virtue, and Verve - A Queen Among Tides Prequel Spin-off (coming soon) A Queen Among Gods - Book 6 (coming soon) A Queen Among Tempests - Book 7 (coming soon)
Chapter 1: Plagued With Guilt - Landry
It happened again.
I struggle to catch my breath, my heart pounding against my ribcage and thundering in my ears like the sound of a war drum as I try to shake off yet another nightmare, but my hands continue to tremble and my stomach churns as if to mock me.
The morning sun streams in through the cottage window as I throw the sheets back and swing my legs over the side of the bed. I rest my head in my hands as I continue to try to calm myself down, but I can’t. All I can hear are the sounds of Jennifer’s agonised screams from the night I made the biggest mistake of my life. It’s been four months since that night, and even though so much is better in my life, I’m still plagued with guilt for being the world’s biggest, cruellest moron.
“Just keep taking slow breaths. It’ll wear off soon,”says my wolf spirit Matthan as he nuzzles me through our bond. I let his comfort soothe me even though I don’t deserve it. He’s been far kinder to me than I deserve after what I did to him. Not just him. My stupid actions hurt four people in a single blow.
“Thank you,” I say appreciatively.
“Landry, you can’t keep going on like this. How long do you plan to torture yourself?” He sighs.
“I don’t do this on purpose,” I say glumly. If I could stop the nightmares, I would. I hate what they do to me.
“I know, but you’re the only one still mad at you. Yes, you made a horrible mistake and rejected our beautiful soulmate,” he says casually, making my stomach churn violently. “But you realised you made a rash judgement call and worked hard to make it right and look at where we are now. Marked and mated with our animai and living in a cosy home together. It all worked out in the end,” he reminds me.
“Then why do I still feel so horrible?” I ask defeatedly.
“Because you care. You love her and care about her. It wouldn’t hurt this much if you didn’t,” he says softly, his big chocolate brown fur, and sandy blonde coloured paws – or socks as I like to call them – fanning out as he lays down in my mind while he continues to offer me comfort.
How a dumbass like me ever wound up with such a compassionate and supportive wolf, I’ll never know. He has infinite patience to handle me, and I really don’t know what I’d do without him. Matthan has been my best friend my whole life. His was the first voice I ever heard, and he has been with me through thick and thin. I thank Morrtemis every day that she blessed me with him.
“There you go trying to make this wolf cry,” he says bashfully making me chuckle.
“Thanks for always being here, Matthan,” I say warmly.
“To be fair, I literally can’t go anywhere else,” he says matter-of-factly, making me snort.
“Lan?” Suddenly comes the gentle voice of the sweetest love a guy could ever hope for – my beautiful and wonderful Jennifer.
“Are you okay? I know you were having another nightmare,” she says gently. Only now with the adrenaline easing off do I start to notice her deep worry coming through our bond. Not just hers, but her wolf Beatrix’s as well.
“I’m okay, I promise,” I say reassuringly.
“You’re not okay, and it’s silly to even bother lying,” remarks Beatrix with disapproval.
Jennifer and Beatrix are like summer and winter. Jennifer is sweet, gentle, and timid, whereas Beatrix is blunt, stern, and confident. They balance each other out and I think Beatrix’s personality is what gives Jennifer the resilience she has.
“Bee, go easy on him,” says Matthan cautiously.
“I’m not criticising him. We’re bonded. We can feel that he’s not okay, and if there’s anyone he should feel safe not being okay with, it’s us,”Beatrix reminds us. I can feel and hear the care in her words. She’s straightforward but never cruel. I appreciate her transparency.
“You’re right, Bee. I apologise to you both, I just… I don’t feel I have a right to complain to either of you. After what I did, I deserve this, so what right do I have to vent or complain to the people whom I hurt so horribly?”I say, unable to hold back the shame and sorrow I feel when I think of Jennifer screaming in pain, collapsing on the ground as her heart began to give out.
I almost killed my soulmate out of ignorance and stupidity. If it weren’t for Alpha Amelia I wouldn’t be where I am now. I’d be a broken shell of a man mourning the death of the woman I was destined to love, knowing I was the one who killed her, and for what? All because she can’t shift. How could I have ever thought that was a reason to reject someone?
“Please don’t do this to yourself,” Jennifer whimpers.
I groan, fisting my hair. I just said I didn’t want them to have to hear me venting, and here I am, wallowing in guilt for them to hear and feel. Way to go, Landry, way to show you’re still a moron.
“I’m sorry, Pixie. The nightmare rattled me, and I guess I’m still spiralling a little bit, but I promise it’ll pass,” I assure her.
“I don’t want you hating yourself forever. I don’t hate you,”her sweet voice says, filled with love. I feel her pushing as much of that love through our bond as she can, wrapping around my heart like protective armour. How could I have ended up with someone so wonderful?
“I love you, Jennifer. I hope you know that.”
I can hear the smile in her voice, “I love you too. You promised me that day you would do everything you could to make it up to me, and you haven’t broken your promise. I trusted you and you prove every day that trust was well placed. I don’t like to think about that night; it makes me sad, but I don’t blame you for it either. I know it wasn’t really your fault,” she says compassionately.
“I’m the only one whose fault it was, Jen,” I sigh.
“Okay, I’m putting an end to this. Jennifer has pups to wrangle. Landry, you’re going to get up and have a shower and wash off the nightmare and then go have breakfast and go to work. No more depressing topics in the morning. Matthan, you’re going to take good care of him, and I’ll know if you haven’t,”says Beatrix sternly making me smile affectionately.
“Whatever you say my Golden Goddess,” Matthan coos like the lovesick pup he is.
Being bonded to Jennifer means I can see Beatrix through her eyes, and it’s a shame they can’t shift because she’s stunning. The most beautiful fluffy golden blonde coat, that I can just imagine would be so gorgeous to touch. I can’t imagine being unable to shift, but they seem very content with how they are. I just wish I could hold Beatrix the way Jennifer can hold Matthan, which I know he loves. Who wouldn’t? Sometimes we take her for runs on our back, and just feeling her fingers in his fur is one of the most incredible sensations in the world. Definitely in the top five.
Following Beatrix’s instructions, I get up and shower off the stress and bad memories, then get myself dressed for the day. When I’m finally decent, I go to the kitchen and freeze in the doorway as I register the scent of fresh orange juice and… no way! I’m over to the oven in a flash, my mouth salivating as I open the warmer and take in the four delicious-looking breakfast tacos in their own little holders. There’s a glass of freshly squeezed OJ on the counter next to the oven with a handwritten note placed against the glass, so, I pick it up and read it.
Good morning Snuggle-Wolf!
I didn’t want to wake you and thought you might be hungry, so I made your favourite breakfast tacos and some juice. There’s more juice in the fridge. Hope you have a great day; I’ll see you after work!
All my love
I smile from ear to ear as I read the note over and over, my heart swelling with happiness at this amazing and thoughtful gesture. I carefully place the note down, grab a pair of oven mitts and take the tacos out of the oven. I sit at the table as I pick up the first taco and inhale the smell of homemade tortillas accompanied by egg, bacon, cheese, and tomatillo salsa. I take a large bite and moan as the flavours burst in my mouth. It’s moments like this I’m reminded of how much I don’t deserve Jennifer, but how grateful I am to have her in my life.
She has all the reason in the world to hate me and she could have told me to stay out of her life after what I did, but she gave me a second chance to make it right. She opened her heart to me and now we share a beautiful quaint little cottage in the woods on her pack’s territory, or I guess I should say ourpack’s territory. I renounced my birth pack – the Alpine Pack – and was initiated into the Invictus Pack so I could be with Jennifer, and I’ve never been happier. It’s not that I was unhappy in the Alpine Pack, Alpha Lucas is an amazing Alpha, but I just didn’t feel like that was where I belonged. Here at Invictus with Jennifer, I truly feel I belong, and honestly, everyone has been so welcoming. I’m happy, I’m in love, and I am waking up to breakfast tacos. Life can’t get better than that.
I quaff down three of the four breakfast tacos and leave the fourth for Matthan to enjoy later. I can already see him wagging his tail with the excitement of getting to eat one of these yummy tacos. Our spirit wolves gain all their nutrition from our bodies, so it’s not as though they need to eat or drink to survive, but he still deserves to enjoy things for himself so letting him eat one in wolf form just seems fair. When I would secretly make food at home, Matthan was my taste tester.
“Oh, remember those chocolate chip cupcakes with the gooey salted caramel in the middle and maple bacon buttercream? That was heavenly! You should make that for Jennifer! She would love it. Super sweet just like her,” Matthan says giddily.
“That’s a great idea! I would just need to get the ingredients first,”I tell him.
I pack up the remaining taco and put it in a container in the fridge, make my way out of the cottage and start walking through the woods heading towards the packhouse.
Originally when I started working at the packhouse it was as punishment for what I had done to Jennifer – I expected and deserved far worse if you ask me – but since officially joining the pack, I’m now a paid employee. It’s actually a really good job. I’m surrounded by good people, I do whatever task Maggie or Alpha Amelia instructs of me, and I get paid $13 an hour, so I’m doing better than most people in America in terms of pay. I don’t even have to pay rent or utilities because that’s taken care of by the Alpha. However, I hear they’re upgrading all new and pre-existing homes to make them more environmentally sustainable. I think that means going solar or something, but don’t quote me on that.
As I reach the packhouse, I hear running feet gaining speed behind me and I catch the scent of fresh sawdust. I attempt to move out of the way, but they are more agile than me and before I know it I’m hitting the carpeted floor hard with a groan as the weight of a muscular body lands on top of me.
“You really need to start doing more training Green, you’re too easy to take down,” chides the familiar gravelly voice.
“Says the guy who has been training since he came out of the womb,” I groan, trying to buck him off me with no success.
“I don’t get it. You said your dad is a warrior in your pack, you’d think he’d train you more,” he says getting off me and offering me his hand.
I roll over, take his large hand, and let him help me to my feet. Michael Grigoryan was the first friend I made at Invictus. I’d like to say it was Alpha Amelia, but I don’t want to sound presumptuous. Michael is twenty-three so he’s a bit older than me, as I’m eighteen, turning nineteen in December. Michael is 6’4, not overly muscular but defined enough to make the women notice. He has sort of latte-coloured skin, dark black curly hair that sits like a soft nest on his head, deep dark brown eyes that make the girls swoon, and his perfectly chiselled features don’t hurt either. He also has a stubble goatee and stubble framing his jawline. I’ve met his parents and sister, and I can tell he has a lot of his mother’s Armenian features.
That’s another thing I love about Invictus. They have so many mutolupus’ – among other species – from countries all over the world, who have moved here because they found their animai. I think that’s so cool. Not that we didn’t have that back home, it just seems even more common here, so I get to meet a lot of interesting people.
“I’d rather we didn’t talk about my dad, thanks,” I say as I dust myself off.
“Right, sorry,” he says apologetically, “Much on today?” He asks, changing the subject as he slings an arm around my shoulders and walks me to the dining hall.
“Only what Maggie or the Alpha give me, so I don’t know yet,” I shrug.
“Yeah, fair. How does Maggie not scare you? She scares the shit out of me,” he says with a shudder.
Maggie is head of the packhouse staff and runs a tight ship. I was originally pretty scared of her too, but I’ve come to learn she just takes her job very seriously and respects the position she’s been given. It’s her job to make sure everyone who enters the packhouse is fed and made to feel at home, and she takes care of the ranked members, so she has a lot of pride in her work, and she sees someone’s poor work as a reflection of her leadership. So yeah, she’s a bit tough, but not unreasonable.
“She’s not so bad once you spend more time with her,” I assure him.
Michael gets himself a big plate of food at the buffet and we sit facing each other at one of the long benches.
“So, Nare and I were going to go out to this club this weekend and we’re hoping you and Jennifer would tag along,” he says as he bites into some bacon.
“You do remember Jen and I are under twenty-one, right?”
“Oh, that doesn’t matter. The owner of the club is a sanguidae, so the place mostly caters to supernaturals,” he says conspiratorially, “He’s pretty lax about the age thing unless you’re human. It’s a bit of a drive away, but it’s worth it.”
“I don’t know,” I say unenthusiastically, “Jen and I just aren’t really club-going people.”
“Aww, please? It’ll be fun!” He cheers, giving me a tap on the arm.
“I really appreciate the offer, but it’s just not our scene. Sorry,” I say kindly.
He shrugs, “Well, can’t blame a guy for trying. Maybe another ti–”
In 0.5 seconds Michael’s entire body has gone rigid. He shuts his eyes tight, his fists clenching tight enough to see the white of his knuckles, ready to tear through his skin. He looks tormented, and I immediately know why. I know that expression all too well.
I glance around and look over his head, out of the dining hall and towards the front doors of the packhouse where I see Jane Lahde greeting… no way! That’s an irshiust! Wait, I remember her. I saw her attending the pack funerals with another irshiust the other month. Even from here her golden eyes stand out like gold jewels and the gold glitter in her skin catches the sun and compliments her soft mocha skin. I perk up my ears to listen to their exchange.
“H-How can I help you?” Jane asks with a nervous stutter. Not every day you greet a member of the Delegation. I’d stutter too.
“Me three,” Nods Matthan in agreement.
“I was hoping for a word with Alpha Amelia,” the irshiust whose name I can’t recall says with a warm smile. I really hope we’re not about to have another war. The pack is still healing from the last one.
“Of course,” Jane says with a respectful nod, “She’s in the entertainment room with the other ranked members. I could escort you if you like,” she offers, stepping aside to let the woman pass.
The woman enters with a kind and gracious smile on her face, “That’s quite alright, I remember the way there, but thank you.”
“My pleasure,” Jane says, visibly relaxing and giving the woman a smile.
The woman walks off, seemingly floating on air and Jane closes the door slumping against the wood. I don’t know if she sensed me watching, or if she sensed Michael, but she looks over in our direction and I immediately try to act like I wasn’t watching.
“And make it even more obvious that you were. You would have been better off just acknowledging you were watching. You weren’t the only one shocked to see an irshiust,” says Matthan.
“We both know it wasn’t the irshiust that got my attention,”I say as I glance back over at Jane to see her still looking in our direction, but I know it’s not me she’s looking at. Her eyes are focused on Michael’s back and the broken look in her eyes causes a horrible pang in my chest. She takes a deep breath, lowers her head, and walks away and I turn my attention back to Michael who is still rigid as a statue. I let out a deep sigh.
“It’s not just her you’re hurting,” I say gently.
His eyes snap open, glowing an intense dark brown and I can tell he’s struggling with his wolf right now. Been there. Done that.
“Stay out of it Landry,” he warns.
“No one understands what you’re going through better than me, but are you sure this is what you want? Rejecting Jennifer was the biggest mistake of my life, and it doesn’t matter how happy we are, I’ll never be able to take that back. I’ll live with the memory of that pain for the rest of my life, and I know she will too,” I say, unable to keep my anguish at bay.
“It’s not the same damn thing. You rejected Jennifer without even getting to know her. You rejected a beautiful and kind soul. Ask anyone around the pack and they’ll tell you what a bitch Jane is. Never even showing respect to our Alpha,” he spits.
I wince at his brutally honest remark about me rejecting Jennifer. I can’t argue with that though, I won’t even try.
“The Goddess pairs people for a reason. Maybe being with you was meant to make Jane a better person. I mean, she sure seems to be trying to be a better person. Maggie has given her some of the worst packhouse jobs and Jane hasn’t complained once. She really seems to be trying,” I try to tell him.
“I don’t care if she donated all her money to charity and served in a soup kitchen every day. I don’t want her anywhere near me or my sister after what she did. Maybe I can forgive the bitch stuff, but what she did to Nare, that I will never forgive,” he says bitterly.
I sigh and nod my head, “I won’t say another word.”
Michael and I kind of bonded over our rejection pain, but he’s right, our reasons were different. I rejected Jennifer because the moment I scented that she was an Omega, all I could hear was my dad’s voice in my ear telling me how weak and useless they were, and I could see him disowning me if I accepted her. I got scared and I panicked and did the unthinkable. I regretted it immediately. I never hated her, nor was I disgusted by her. When I saw her I felt like I was floating. She was – and still is – the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. I rejected her out of fear and ignorance. Michael rejected Jane out of anger and love for his sister. No one hated Michael for what he did. In fact, many have praised him. I, on the other hand, was pretty much hated by the entire pack. I still get the side-eye from people, not that I blame them.
“They can keep their eyes to themselves or lose them the next time they want to give you the side-eye. They have no right to judge, they don’t know your life or what you’ve been through. They don’t know the crap your dad put in your head. They should only judge what you did afterwards, which was to work tooth and nail to make amends. That speaks to your character. Your mistakes don’t define you, it’s what you do after,” says Matthan very animatedly.
“Why did you never yell at me or cuss me out after what I did? Why didn’t you hate me?”
“Because I know you better than you know yourself. I know you fell in love with her the moment you laid eyes on her, just like I did. You’re a kind and caring young man and I knew you’d make it right. Of course, I was mad and hurt, but I wanted to give you a chance to do the right thing,” he says comfortingly.
“What if Alpha Amelia had never done what she did?” I gulp.
“You would have come back and made it right. Not a doubt in my mind,”he says confidently.
I smile and give him the mental equivalent of a hug as he nuzzles me through our bond, “You’re the best friend a guy could ever ask for.”
“Back at you, Lan.”
Chapter 2: Responsibilities and Surprises - Landry
Things remain a little tense with Michael, but thankfully it’s time for me to go and check in with Maggie and see what my duties are today, so, I politely excuse myself and race off to the kitchen where Maggie is commanding her army.
Maggie is 5’8” with military posture, shoulder-length dark brown layered hair, a stern face with kind cocoa eyes and dark caramel skin. She always dresses in a professional manner, so she’s wearing a long-sleeved nude-pink satin blouse tucked into high-waisted dark brown slacks with shoes with the tiniest heels I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how to describe them, I’m not a fashion expert, but I can at least tell they match her blouse.
“Someone won’t be getting a job on the red carpet,” Matthan sniggers. I ignore him.
“Right on time again. I’m Impressed,” Maggie compliments, not even turning her head to look at me, but no doubt she either scented or heard me coming. Maggie is fifty-six but looks late 30s if you ask
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