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I was terrified, to say the least- no, no, no not for the ceremony, though I’m sure I’d be just ***cared after this current situation was over, but for the near impossible task of climbing down the ladder in this ridiculously large dress.


“Ready?” Victoria called from her place. She was, uh, “supervising,” ***he’d so kindly put it.


Summer was directly at the bottom of the ladder, laughing her *** off. She’d gotten down just fine, even with those **** heels on. We’d acquired a crowd. Many guys had gathered around, wolf-whistling at us.


Quite frankly, I just thought I looked stupid.


And those dumb *** guys didn’t bother to offer any of us help. No, they were having too much fun for that. Jace, Roman, and Alex were gathered around front, seemingly dying of laughter.


Yeah, the predicament was just freakin’ hilarious.


“Alright, on three!” screamed Victoria from her place below. I lifted up my heavy dress with one hand, hanging on to the ladder with the other. “One!”


“Two!” The crowd joined in.


“Three!” All noise around me stopped as I leaned back, letting go off the ladder. A scream escaped my lips.


And I fell.


Strong arms caught me, bridal style. Sparks shot through me. I seemed to be getting used to the heat, but the fire spread through me, nonetheless. I looked up to see Jace, making me blush. “Well, hello there,” I said.


He smirked. “Let’s get this thing going.”


“So eager.”


He raised his eyebrows suggestively. “Not for the ceremony. I am, however, quite eager for our private after party.” The sparks continued, and I shifted uncomfortably.


I rolled my eyes, hitting him playfully. “You’re not supposed to say that, idiot.” I spared a glance Roman’s way. His jaw had hit the floor when he saw what Summer was wearing. I had to admit it, she was gorgeous.


“Why not?” asked Jace, interrupting my thoughts.

“It’s implied in the whole ceremony deal,” I said, as if it was the most obvious thing. I tried to ignore the burning on my neck, but it was becoming increasingly difficult.


He hit himself on the head, balancing me. “Duh! Of course, how silly of me. What I should’ve said was, You look gorgeous. Absolutely stunning.”


“Yeah, I probably look so hot.” I certaintly felt quite hot. My neck was burning. “I mean, jumping off the ladder is just soooo sexy. I don’t know how you contain yourself,” I said rolling my eyes and adjusting my arms so that barely any bare skin was touching. Ahh, so much better.


“Well, I definitely found it a turn on.”


I rolled my eyes. “Oh, shut up.” I looked up to see that we’d finally arrived at a small stage in front of rows upon rows of people in plastic chairs, their faces and bodies blurs of color. There was a garden-like arch, and everything was decorated with tropical indigo flowers, the stems lined with pearls.


I gasped at the sight. “Everything is so… beautiful.” I pushed the tears back in my eyes. Victoria would probably have my head if I messed up the make up job she’d spent at least forty minutes on.

“None of this compares to how amazing you look, Ava,” Jace whispered in my ear, setting me down on the stage.


“I’m so nervous,” I whispered honestly. Butterflies flew around in my chest, trying to escape, fluttering around and pushing at my insides.


“I’ll be right here the whole time, Ava.”


I nodded. “Okay, I’m ready,” I said, and I turned to face the crowd.



David stood in front of the podium off to the left side. “Hello, people of the Faded Shadow and of the Crimson Hollows packs. We welcome you to the joining of two of our own. Ava, a Seer, and Jace, the newly-appointed Alpha of the Faded Shadow pack. “


“After losing their beloved Alpha Joseph, Jace was chosen as his replacement. The time has come for him to choose a mate.”


“I choose Ava Hansen as my mate and as our Alpha female,” Jace announced loudly.


Cheers rang out from the crowd, bringing tears to my eyes. “Do you accept, Ava?” asked David. The applause died down, as the audience curiously awaited my answer.


“I accept Jace Roberts as my mate, and as my Alpha,” I said. I was just happy my voice didn’t shake.


There was a lot more talking, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Jace reached for my hands. “Join hands,” said David. Well, at least one of us was paying attention.


 I let him take them hesitantly. The spot on my neck burst into flame immediately. I bit my lip from crying out in pain.


Jace raised his eyebrows. I shook my head, trying to ***ure him that nothing was wrong.


“And, to conclude our ceremony, a kiss. A kiss symbolizes the official joining of these two leaders and their dedication to their pack and each other.”


Chants broke out. “Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss!” With each word, the phrase became faster and faster, until Jace pulled me to him using our joined hands, and pressed his lips to mine


His tongue explored my mouth, and I returned the favor. The fire where he’d marked me was dying out, left only as a little space filled with excited heat.


I looped my arms around his neck, and he scooped me up again.


“You are dismissed, my good friends, but only to follow your leaders, your father and mother, your friends, your foes, your Alphas,” Joseph proclaimed. The saying was recognizable, as it was nearly the same at Jace’s Alpha ceremony, though it seemed to have been edited to account for me.


Of course, I didn’t really pay all that much attention to the words he was saying. I was too focused on Jace’s lips against mine as he carried me away into the night.

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