Chapter 2 - The Forgotten Mate and The Alpha Prince

The bite of the winter breeze caused Alisha to shiver, the thin threadbare blouse she wore offering no protection from the cold, as she gathered logs for the pack’s fires. Not that she would feel any heat from their flames. The thick trees of the pack woods would make an easy escape route for her, but although she gathered the wood alone, Alpha Jabez was no fool. He held her beloved sister close to him, with a silent threat of punishment for the child if Alisha made any attempt to escape.

Gathering the small twigs for kindling, Alisha moved towards some of the thicker fallen branches, picking them up from the frost-covered ground. She glanced up at the tall tree that she would, single-handedly, need to chop down, before making the larger logs, producing enough wood to last out the rest of winter. With her basket full, she bent over and picked it up, making her way back to the basement door of the large stone-built pack house that had stood for over 100 years. The lights in the window made the place seem homey, but it was as far removed from a home as it could be. Alisha descended the concrete steps that led to the basement door, placed the full basket under her arm, and pulled at the large thick wooden door. The creaking was loud enough to wake the dead, and she understood all too well, the noise she had made would be used as one of her many crimes so that once again she would be brought out to the whipping pole, and the brutal punishment administered. The pain from the lashes was always worse in winter, something about the cold air made the sting that little harder to bare.

Alisha walked through the damp, dark, musky-smelling corridor, placing the basket down in the small alcove at the bottom, waiting for the Omega’s to gather it, and set the fires for the day.

With a heavy sigh, Alisha turned around and headed back towards the tree that in just a few more hours would not stand alongside its brothers, but would be felled, chopped up, and used to give the Matlock Pack heat for the winter.

“Are you okay?”Alisha linked with her ten-year-old sister, knowing she was being made to sweep out the fireplace in the Alpha’s office, whilst he stood watching over her.

“Yes. Don’t worry. He is not even taking much notice of me, there is a letter, and he is concentrating on that.” Iesha answered, her young voice trying to reassure the older sister.

Alisha felt the wave of relief wash over her, knowing there was only so long that she would be the only Wilson sister taking the barbaric punishments. All she could hope and pray was her dormant wolf would break through whatever barrier was holding it back before that day came.

Picking up the axe, rather than the chainsaw, knowing that if she made a sound, it would be used as an excuse to increase the lashings for the day, Alisha walked back to the woods, stepping behind the large tree, then wheedled the axe.

As the bark splinted, Alisha was grateful for the manual labour, if nothing else, the physicality helped warm her up. Not for the first time in her life she counted her blessings, at least she lived towards the south of England, and not up north where this would be classed as a warm winter’s day. Alisha sighed, remembering her loving mother, who would instruct her, to count at least 5 blessings per day, to always remember that no matter how bad life got, it could always be worse. It was a practice she kept to, despite the horrific circumstances she now lived in. With each stroke of the axes, Alisha counted another blessing.

“Jabez is occupied with his letter and not Iesha.” She declared, as the axe stuck into the bark, whilst Alisha manoeuvred it back and forth, to free it.

Those were two blessings she had, only three more to find.

“Today is the day we get our meal.” Another blessing was crossed off her list.

“The Luna is away at her parent's pack.” She uttered to the tree, as it began to creak and groan, ready to fall.

If Alpha Jabez was cruel, it was nothing compared to his Luna Qamra. Alisha was in no doubt the constant whining from the woman was partly the reason that she was treated so badly. Qamra was, in Alisha’s opinion, too selfish to be the Luna of a pack, and although she could smile, and come across as friendly, caring, and perfect to outsiders, those who happened to get on the wrong side of her, understood all too well, that in private, her true character broke through the disguise of goodness she cloaked herself in.

With one last swing of the axe the tree,, creaked, groaned, and fell to the ground, and her last blessing was found, as it did not make much noise at all.

Alisha grabbed hold of the thick branches and began to drag the tree to the side of the pack house, ready to chop into logs. For all she was slight, due to the enforced malnutrition, she was still strong, due to her Alpha blood. Sweat formed on her brow, as she reached her destination.

In the distance, she heard the roar of an engine, before the crunch of wheels on the graveled path, indicated a car was heading away from the pack's land.

“Alisha, I don’t know what has happened, but the Alpha just said the really bad words, then shouted for the Beta, they have gone off to get the Luna.” Iesha linked with her.

With both the Alpha and Beta away from the pack for a minimum of four hours, now would be the perfect time to escape. However, something deep within Alisha told her to wait, to remain for a little while longer.

Unable to shake the feeling that now was not the time to run from the pack Alisha sighed. It was true, winter was upon them, and they had no money or supplies, not even a cardigan to protect her and Iesha from the cold, it was not the perfect time to run. But then again, when was the perfect time to leave this place? When she had her wolf and could lead the Edensor pack members back home. With a loud sigh, she decided that although now was not the time to leave, she could take full advantage of Jabez being far from the pack, and make her workload a little easier. Bending, she picked up the chainsaw, pulled the string, as it roared into life, and chopped the wood with relative ease. Today, she had six blessings to be thankful for.

Finished with the wood, Alisha walked back into the packhouse, preparing to go help her sister sweep out the remainder of the fireplaces, when Daphne the elderly Omega, who had served her parents so well approached her, a warm smile on her face.

“Alisha, the Matlock wolves are restless. I do not know why, but the Alpha, Luna, and Beta are not coming back today.” Daphne informed her.

“Really, something must be going on.” Alisha pondered, wondering what, and not sure why she cared.

“I am on kitchen duty today. Come upstairs with Iesha and get some breakfast when the rest of the pack have left the dining room.” Daphne smiled, placing her hand on her true Alpha’s delicate arm and giving it a small squeeze.

“Daphne, thank you, but I do not want you to get into trouble.” Alisha rotested. She had a duty to protect not just her sister, but the other loyal Edensor pack members, who would try and help her.

“They are not here, don’t worry. You will have three meals today, trust me.” Daphne said in earnest.

Alisha nodded gratefully, not just for her, but for her sister. Then headed up the stairs to help Iesha with her workload.

Finding her in the main living area for the pack, Alisha walked in, ignoring the stares from the Alpha and Luna’s daughter, her one-time best friend, Honey, and her group of friends. Honey’s indifference to her, after she had refused to be mated with Edward, had stung her more than any lash of the whip she had received. But that was three years ago, and the bitter sting had long left Alisha . The girl was not worth her regard.

“Well, I am sure he will be happy with what he finds here,” Honey said, twirling a strand of her long honey-blonde hair around her finger, whilst fluttering her eyelashes at the young wolf who she held court with.

“Maybe you will be his mate.” One of the younger girls giggled.

Alisha resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the conversation and bent down next to Iesha and began to sweep the ash from the grate that sat in the centre of the large stone fireplace.

“I heard he is supposed to be really handsome and kind. With a wicked sense of humour.” Another girl added with a smile.

“My aunt once visited the Royal Crescent Moon pack, when she was part of her pack’s warrior squad for the interpack games. She said he pulled many pranks on his sister and was annoying.” The male pack member stated, clearly jealous of the attention the unknown male was receiving from his female friends of Honey.

“I can put up with some pranks if it means that one day, I will be queen.” Honey declared.

Alisha froze slightly, realising they were talking about the royal family, more specifically the heir to the werewolf throne, Prince Asher Colton. Something inside her seemed to cause her tummy to flip, and excitement bubbled up inside her. With a deep breath, Alisha determined not to be a fool, like the other girls that were gathered in the living room, even if Prince Asher were to come, she would not see him, and nor did she want to. He lived in his ivory tower whilst she struggled every day just to survive. Lost, forgotten, her rank not low enough to warrant their concern. The royals did not care about her plight, she was not an Omega, so she was determined not to care about them.

“Well, we shall see, he still hasn’t found his mate, even if I am not his fated mate, I am sure he will take me as his chosen mate. Three weeks’ time and he will be here. I have three weeks to prepare myself.” Honey grinned, then jumped out of her seat, and left the room, her entourage following her.

Iesha looked at Alisha with a bright smile on her face.

“If the prince comes, maybe he will help us,” The young girl declared.

“Iesha, we do not need anyone to rescue us, we just need my wolf to appear, and we can rescue ourselves.” Alisha scolded her young sister.

“I know we always need to rely on ourselves. But what if…” Iesha’s voice trailed off as the door to the living room opened once more, and the delta roughly grabbed Alisha by her long brown hair.

“You woke me up, now you will be punished.” He declared, as Alisha inwardly shook her head, at least when the Delta whipped her, he did not have the full force that the Alpha had, and she stood to her feet and nodded her head, then with her shoulders straight she walked past him to receive her daily lashes, without so much as a flinch.Chapter Two – The Forgotten Mate and The Alpha Prince.