Authors: Alex Ashmore
The Prince’s Fated Mate
Published by Alex Ashmore, 2016.
While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of information contained herein.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental. Names, characters, organisations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
THE PRINCE’S FATED MATE
First edition. January 8, 2016.
Copyright © 2016 Alex Ashmore.
All rights reserved.
Written by Alex Ashmore.
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Will’s mother, with her long black hair that reached her hips, appeared in stark contrast to the white light falling in through the window. All was hazy beyond the vision of his mother. She had her back to him, but when he ran up to her, she turned and welcomed him, and he snuggled into her side, the top of his head coming only up to her waist. She smiled, her hands stopping whatever work she was doing, and reached down to brush at his golden hair.
“Yes, my boy?” she said to him, her voice gentle and sweet. His mother had always been a strong, stern woman when it came to her work, but she would save up all her sweetness and patience for Will and his father.
“How did you and Pa meet?” said Will, his boyish voice high-pitched and almost painfully innocent. Somewhere on the far edges of Will’s consciousness, he felt this conversation familiar, a memory from the past accompanied by the tingle of deja vu.
Will’s mother crouched down to meet him at eye-level, still smiling, her brown eyes meeting his green ones. “Well,” she began, her hands reaching up to brush through his messy hair, “I saw him in the market, standing by a corner. And that was it.”
“And you knew?” pressed Will eagerly.
“I knew,” his mother confirmed, pressing her thumb into his dimple. She loved that dimple. Will’s father had the same one, and she always touched it affectionately. “Just like that, I knew he was my fated mate.”
“How?” Again, at the frayed edges of his consciousness, a much older Will was listening onto this conversation, knowing well what was to follow. He could still remember this conversation, as clear as crystal, only now he was reliving it.
“The same way any other lucky person with a fated mate does, Will,” said his mother. Everything around her was nothing more than a vague outline, but she herself stood solid, well-defined, with moles and freckles and wrinkles marring her face, with every strand of hair drawn out. The bemused quirk in her lips was perfect. “You just know it. The first time you catch the eyes of your fated mate, you just know it's the right person. Your breath stops, your heart stops, every single thought stops — save for one. All you know at that moment is the very undeniable fact that you’re facing your destined partner for life. Everyone around will know it too. They’ll see it on your faces, they’ll know immediately that you two are meant for each other.”
Young Will smiled, his still chubby cheeks puffing out happily. “Will that happen to me too?”
“Maybe,” laughed Ma, “you just might meet the right girl at the right time, Will. You just have to be ready for it. To find your happy ending, all you need is courage, strength, and love.”
"Rise and shine, princess. Planning on getting out of bed anytime soon, Will?"
Sharp rays of a crisp yellow sun splashed across Will's face as his curtains were unceremoniously drawn wide open. He groaned in response, his pale face crinkling over in displeasure, squeezing his eyes shut to block out every speck of sunlight threatening to invade his sight. A smart retort was loaded on his tongue, but he kept silent, ultimately deciding to just roll over and press the side of his face into the other half of his pillow. But his plans to snooze a little while longer were abruptly interrupted.
"Come on, get up!" Hands shook his shoulders none too gently, and Will did his best to swat them away, but to no avail.
"Let me get a bit more shuteye, Kytes," Will grunted, blindly trying to shoo his friend away as though he were a fly being a nuisance. "After working on that bothersome banquet last night, I deserve a few extra hours of sleep."
Plus, he had just been shaken awake from a dream, and he needed a few extra minutes to reorient himself. A dream about his mother…he didn’t know why, but that same dream had been visiting him more and more frequently in the past few months. And it was a startling crisp replay of a memory, an actual conversation he had once held with his mother, every word perfectly repeated inside his head.
I wonder why I dreamt about that
, Will lazily thought, even though he knew that dreams were mostly nonsense, and this was likely nothing more than an odd memory resurfacing. Still, a small smile tugged at his lips. He didn’t have many memories of his mother, and the few he had he treasured. Seeing her face again so vividly was pleasant.
He had been no more than six or seven in that memory, going through the same phase most children did then, wondering about future mates and what his might be like. Neither him nor his mother had any way of guessing then that he was a decade away from presenting not as a typical alpha-male, but as an omega. He wouldn’t be hoping for a female mate after all — but still that conversation made him smile. What would it be like if he could revisit that conversation with his mother now, he wondered?
To find your happy ending, all you need is courage, strength, and love.
That’s what Ma used to say, while stroking Will’s hair and tidying up his collar. He imagined that she’d still say the same thing even now to him as an adult.
"We both worked on the banquet, and we both went to the bed at the same time," was Kytes’s calm reply. "You deserve as much as sleep as I do, and I'm already up. Your father wants us to do some deliveries, and you're going to help me."
Will grimaced, shaking his head to clear his thoughts. "Tell Pa to go easy on us. Bad enough he works us to the bone, you'd think he'd be sympathetic to us needing more rest."
Kytes snorted and starting pulling Will out of his bed by his ankle. “You’re just lazy. Enough stalling. Up! Get up, you lazy brat!”
Kick and struggle as he might, Will eventually found himself standing upright, his pajamas crumpled all around his slender body, and his bleary eyes glaring at the man he had grown up with. Kytes was an alpha, a tall and ruddy-skinned man with unkempt brown hair. Growing up side by side with Kytes, Will had always groused at how Kytes towered over him in both height and breadth, never quite able to accept that as an omega, he would naturally be a little bit shorter and slimmer than other males. Still, Will took great pride in his build: he was tall enough, the same height as his own alpha father, with plenty of lean muscle padding out his figure.
Will groaned as he stretched, lifting his arms high over his head, and listening with mild satisfaction as his joints creaked with relief.
His best friend hustled him into getting washed and changed into clean clothes, and then together they went out to the stairwell, jumping down two steps at a time till they reached the lobby, a huge area covered with a densely embroidered rugs. The entrance was a pair of grand double doors. A lush marble-top reception counter sat at one end of the lobby, and behind it was Will’s father.
"About time you got up, Will," said his father in his usual gruff voice. His father looked up at Will, his eyes flickering with slight disapproval as they ran over the top of Will’s head — taking that as a cue, Will quickly patted down his untidy hair, which he had forgotten to comb. He jabbed his elbow into Kytes’s side in retribution for not telling him earlier.
"Cut me some slack, Pa,” Will said, stifling a yawn behind his palm. "Last night's feast was a pain in the ass."
“I know," said his father sternly, “but that’s still no excuse. Kytes has been running errands for hours already, while you’ve been lazing around. We all need to work together to keep the inn running smoothly, don’t we?"
"Yes, Pa,” sighed Will. He rubbed at his tired eyes. When he had checked in the mirror earlier, he had seen heavy black circles resting plumply underneath his green eyes.
"Now that you're up, help Kytes make some deliveries, will you? This box here is for Nellie, she'll need it by tonight so be quick. This over here I want you to help me return to Mason..."
By the time his father was done listing off the things that had to be delivered, returned, and lent to their various neighbours around town, Will was facing a workload that would easily take the better part of the day.
"No sighing," Kytes immediately warned the moment Will’s father had finished his list of errands to be run.
Will made a face at him, annoyed at how easily his best friend could guess his every reaction. "Let's get going," he said. "The quicker we get this done, the quicker I can get back to sleep. God, there's always a huge mess after hosting a feast. Hopefully we won't get another one anytime soon..."
"Hah!" laughed Byron, Kytes’s father and one of Will’s family friends, who had just entered through a side door carrying a chair. "Wishful thinking, Will. We'll be hosting many, many more banquets, and if the news is right, we'll be very busy with one big one soon enough."
"The news?" Will repeated, lost.
“Well, the rumours, more like. You haven't heard?"
"He just woke up," Kytes explained, patting Will’s shoulder.
"Now that you mention it, I can still see the sleep in his eyes. Better wipe that off before you step out, Will," Byron pointed out helpfully, a small teasing smirk on his wrinkled maw.
Though Byron was still strong and brawny, he was an old man, and Will had known him for as long as he had been alive; Byron was one of his father's closest friends, and when Will's mother had passed away, Byron had done all he could for the family, taking on work at their inn to help. Will had nothing but great respect for the man, who he thought as more of an uncle than a stranger.
Brushing his fingers against the corners of his eyes, Will said, "Well? What's the news?"
"Rumour has it that wee Prince Jamesey is finally formally engaged," Byron said gleefully.
Will's eyes widened slightly. Well, this was surprising, though he supposed it shouldn’t be. James, the First Son of the pack, the eldest born of the pack alpha and future heir and leader of all Norvargen wolves was only a few years older than Will, but there had been expectations that he would be announcing his bondsmate soon. Still, Will had never really bothered keeping himself abreast of such distant news, so this came as a surprise.
“Who’s the lucky bride?"
Byron shrugged. “It’s not a girl, Will, not from what I heard. Some omega from a neighbouring pack, last I heard, so that should mean someone from either Redfang or Nighttail territory. Nothing's been confirmed officially yet, of course, so we'll just have to wait and see. But if it is true — and I'm quite certain it is, you know Alpha Miles has been wanting his son to finally seal the deal and settle down — they'll be coming around to our parts for a celebration, of course. Imagine the feast we'd have to throw! Imagine how much they'd be willing to pay!" The old man chuckled merrily.