Copyright © 2012 by Lexi Ander
Bahbelle, Georgia, present day
I was Tristan Javeh Ksathra Janick, Warrior of the Goddess Anat, and council enforcer. Who would've thought I would be here in the Hall of Shamash, with my heart aching, kneeling in front of the Council of Elders, waiting for the life I had known to end.
The hall was large and cavernous with tall pillars and cold stone floors. The gallery overlooking the main level was packed with those who'd been asked to witness today's events. Carved on the impressive and enormous mahogany doors was the emblem of the God Enki, creator of our ancestor Enkidu, the father of all Lycans. The insignia of a double helix of snakes wrapped around a staff of lapis lazuli, called the Caduceus, covered the door top to bottom, reminding us of our humble origins when we entered the sacred place of judgment.
Behind the seats of the Council of Five stood a nine-foot marble statue of Shamash, the God of Justice. The figure was outlined by the golden circle of the sun over outstretched wings of crimson feathers. On the wall above the statue of our founding God was the crystal case that held the Horned Crown of Divinity of our lost line of kings.
All five elders had donned their sacred capes of scales for this momentous meeting. They were sitting behind their desks as they patiently waited in their entire splendor for the final participant of the inquisition.
As a Warrior of Anat, I was identified at birth, like all warriors, by toes numbering eight but everything else about me was average. I wasn't much to look at when compared to my Lycan brothers.
Average brown hair.
Average brown eyes.
That didn't mean I was as average as a human. The difference was only apparent when I was compared with other Lycans and Warriors of Anat, who were gorgeous, tall, well defined, and broad. They were powerhouses who were noticed and fawned over.
Being unremarkable never really mattered to me because I'd known somewhere in the world was my Bashert, my destined Twin Flame. There was someone who'd love me no matter what. I'd always known that when I found him, he wouldn't care if I was ugly, plain, or beautiful because the Gods promised he would be my perfect match. He'd love me just as I was.
When I met my Twin Flame four years ago, I'd been overjoyed. He was beautiful, powerful, and he was mine. I was more than lucky; I was blessed. In the beginning, his touch was like fire across my skin and his kiss stole away my breath. His very being breathed such life into me, making everything brighter, clearer.
Unlike humans, Lycans were reborn after death. The Bashert was an eternal companion. More than simple marriage or the magical life bond. The Bashert was your eternal destiny. A marriage could end. A life bond would complete your soul until the next death and rebirth. The Bashert had been and always would be an extension of self, if you found them, because rebirth was never promised to be in sync with time or place. I hoped to be one of the fortunate few to find my Bashert in this life.
But that was then, at the beginning, when I had believed…
The heavy, engraved doors split open, allowing entrance to the alpha and his four betas. Together they approached the seats of the Council of Five.
"Alpha Theodore Sullivan," Elder Luis greeted, his tone showed his exasperation, "So good of you to actually heed the summons, even if you're"—he consulted his watch—"twenty minutes late."
I didn't look up from the stone floor where I knelt. Even then, I couldn't look at Theo and not see him wrapped between the two she-wolves writhing and moaning. He was fucking them, kissing them. He had whispered to them that no one had ever made him feel that good. He'd told them he could never have another and not think of them. Then he'd promised the women he'd claim them in front of the tribe as his alpha mates.
Mates were not our Twin Flames. They were pale substitutes for those Lycans who didn't believe they'd find their destined partner. Lycans could never claim or bond with a mate like they could their Twin Flame. Our Flames were our other self, our balance, the twin half who complimented our soul. That was the promise made by the God Shamash over four thousand years ago to the first of us. Mates were a watery imitation when compared to our true Flames. If a Lycan found their Flame, any mating would be considered null and void. When we claimed our Twin Flame, there was no one else, or so I'd thought.
Two days ago, my belief in the sanctity of that sacred bond crumbled and turned to ash when I spied Theo's deceit. I didn't know how long I stood there in shock, watching him as he took his pleasure with the females. Just hours earlier, I'd been lying in that very same bed with him. He'd whispered he was blessed to have me, that I balanced him, and he loved me.
For some time I hadn't been feeling well and I'd been getting progressively more soul sick. As I witnessed his deception, my claiming mark began to burn as if my flesh was on fire. My shoulder continued to burn as I listened to the elders formally greet and address my alpha, my Twin Flame.
"I apologize, tribal business held me up," Theo replied. I shivered with need at the deep rumble of his voice. I felt his gaze on me when he asked, "Why have I been summoned here? Has someone from my tribe given offense?"
Elder Luis sighed heavily. "It's funny you should ask, Alpha Sullivan, because someone has affronted Tribe Enkidu and the Council of Shamash."
"Who? Who has given insult?" Theo sounded angry, "Give me the name and I will guarantee due compensation for the slight."
"It's you who's given the insult," Elder Luis replied.
"What? Lies!" Theo roared as he took a step closer to the dais. "I would never offend my tribe or this council! I've done nothing wrong or illegal in ensuring my tribe's future and safety! I have…"
"Alpha Sullivan!" The loud echo of Elder Luis's hand slapping the desk reverberated through the room. "You will get a hold of yourself!"
Theo inhaled sharply in anger. Between gritted teeth he asked, "What is the accusation?"
"I'll remind you, lying to this council carries the penalty of twenty lashes and twenty thousand dollars."
"I know what the penalty is, Elder," Theo snapped.
"Very well," Elder Luis sighed, "Alpha, have you claimed someone as your Twin Flame?"
I couldn't look up. I knew I should've faced Theo with my head held high. My brother, Nathan, called me a coward and maybe he was right because I couldn't confront Theo with pride. My heart was being torn out of my chest. The wound was so deep I wondered why I wasn't bleeding.
"Alpha, answer the question," Elder Luis prompted.
"I don't see how…"
Elder Luis was getting impatient and even I knew you didn't piss this man off. "Ushna Ahura-Yazda." The elder beckoned to a tall, willowy, dark-haired warrior who stood at the end of the dais. Ushna walked over and the elder whispered in his ear.
"Tristan." The elder gestured to me.
I pulled in a ragged breath, stood on shaky legs, and walked toward the dais. Several things happened at once. The heavy mahogany doors opened, allowing entrance to four warriors who escorted the two she-wolves I'd reported to the Council. Theo snarled and lunged for me only to encounter Ushna, who wrestled the alpha to the floor. Council enforcers stepped up to Alpha Sullivan's betas and kept them from going to his aid. Two more warriors came forward and restrained Alpha Sullivan on his knees, allowing Ushna to escort me to the councilman. Elder Luis had left his seat and he stood in front of his desk, greeting me with kind but sad eyes.
"I need you to face Alpha Sullivan and take off your shirt," he requested.
I'd somehow known it wouldn't be simple. In my head everything moved swiftly through the events, and then I'd be permitted to leave. Theo's refusal to cooperate wasn't allowing me that ease. Now the elder was asking me to show everyone in the chamber my humiliation. I knew it couldn't be helped, and this would be the last I'd see of these people. But that knowledge didn't take away from the fact I had to bare my shame to them.
I grabbed the hem of my shirt, and my breath hitched with the pain. Ushna stepped to my side, whispering to me to allow him to help. I gave a quick jerky nod and he gingerly lifted the T-shirt over my head. Ushna didn't visibly react to what I knew was there, but the rest of the room did with shocked whispers of bond poisoning and flame neglect.
The claiming mark Theo had given me was red, raw, and oozing pus. Blue lines emanated outward two inches from the bite mark. If I'd been human I would've been in the hospital. As it was, I could still die from the poison if it was left untreated.
With what little courage I had left, I looked up at Theo for the first time since he'd entered the room. He was so beautiful, with silky blond hair that brushed his shoulders and piercing blue eyes that could move me with just one heated look. His shoulders were broad, and his waist was trim like all the Lycans' here. He was so beautiful but so deadly to me. I should've been repulsed with his poison running through my veins from his bond mark. Theo wasn't looking at me but at my shoulder, with horror. I didn't know if he was dismayed at the sickly green and yellow flesh, or disgusted now everyone knew that he'd claimed me.
Twin Flames is available for purchase from Silver Publishing. You can find it HERE.