Mated To An Enemy

681 The Road to Hell

Alice’s smile did not falter, but her jaw clenched, and she stared at him with a guarded but unchanged expression.

“Where did you hear that?” she asked.

Stefan shrugged his shoulders.

“A few times when they thought I was still asleep, I heard some nurses talking,” he said. “They said that she put us all in danger.”

Alice turned away from the door and moved back to the chair. She sat down again and took a deep breath.

“Well,” she sighed. “They shouldn’t have been talking about that, even if they thought you were asleep.”

“Why?” he asked. “Was it supposed to be a secret?”

“It’s complicated,” Alice said. “There are sides to every story and a spin to every tale. But gossip always leads to muddied waters and half-truths.”

“Will you tell me the whole truth?” he asked, sitting forward with a serious look. “Do people really think that she did that? Do you?”

Alice looked at him carefully, observing the expression on his face, the look in his eyes. It was clear that he didn’t believe what he had heard. Anyone else might have looked at him and assumed it was the innocence of a child. That his belief in Ashleigh was purely out of the naïve notion that people are always good at heart.

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He had many innocent and naïve notions and beliefs. But his sense of justice and moral standards were quite high for someone so young. So, as she looked at him now, Alice wondered if the look of disbelief was based on the stories of Ashleigh’s heroics or if it was based on something more from his experiences in Moonguard.

Alice sat back in the chair. She took a deep breath as she decided the best way to have this conversation.

“Yes,” Alice said. “People believe that Ashleigh is to blame for what happened to you, Sadie, and Myka in Moonguard.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because to a degree… she is.”

Stefan clenched his jaw and looked away. Alice raised her brow as she watched him. He was upset.

‘Are you disappointed in your hero? Or me?’ she wondered.

“It’s not true,” he said, looking back at Alice.

The corner of Alice’s mouth lifted just slightly as she saw the angry look in his eyes.

‘Me, it seems,’ she thought.

“Ashleigh didn’t do anything to make those creatures attack us,” he said, “and without her, we would have died.”

Alice listened as he spoke but said nothing.

“She saved Myka from the treant, and then she stayed behind to fight the monster alone so we could get away,” he huffed. “So, I don’t see how anyone can say it was her fault.”

He crossed his arms over his chest with a pout, quickly dropping them as the sting of his wounds flared through his nerves.

“Are you mad at me, Stefan?” Alice asked.

Stefan looked at Alice, she held a soft smile on her face, but she didn’t look angry or offended.

“A little,” he said.


He swallowed and looked away.

“Because people always blamed you for things you didn’t do, they called you names. They said you couldn’t be trusted and would hurt Alpha Axel,” he said. “None of them knew you. They just made stuff up and spread it around. I don’t like that. And it seems like that’s what is happening to Ashleigh too.”

Alice looked at Stefan. He reminded her of Axel. The proud defender. She smiled.

“Thank you,” she said.

Stefan furrowed his brows and looked at her.


“Thank you,” she repeated. “For coming to my defense, for believing in me when others did not.”

Stefan took a deep breath and shrugged his shoulders.

“They didn’t know you. I do.”

Alice smiled.

“Still,” she said. “Some of what you heard was very likely true.”

Stefan shook his head.

“No, they said horrible things.”

“Stefan,” Alice said. “I have done horrible things.”

Stefan furrowed his brow and looked at her.

“I won’t tell you about it right now,” she said. “But I will tell you that while those people had no reason to fear me or suspect me from anything I had done here or to Axel, they did have a reason.”

“I don’t understand,” Stefan said.

Alice smiled again.

“Every story has sides. Every tale has a spin,” she said. “Those people saw one side of my story, but eventually, they learned more about me and who I really am.”

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“As far as Ashleigh,” Alice sighed. “That story, too, has many sides.”

“Then tell me the side that you know,” he said. “Do you blame her for what happened?”

Alice smiled.

“Hmm,” she began. “Do I blame her… hmm.”

She sat back in her chair and took a deep breath.

“Rather than telling you what I think,” she said. “I will tell you the facts I know, and you can decide.”

Stefan swallowed and nodded.

“Ashleigh had a reason for wanting to go to Moonguard,” Alice began. “She hoped to find an answer to stop her pain. But she needed Myka to go with her, and he would only go if Alpha Axel approved.”

Stefan nodded. He had heard Myka and Peter talking about getting approval for the trip from Alpha Axel.

“But, Moonguard had already been reported as hostile,” Alice continued. “Alpha Axel would only give his permission if he received an all-clear from the scout he sent to re-investigate. Only, when the report from the scout arrived, it didn’t go to him, but to Ashleigh.”

Stefan swallowed. Ashleigh had been born a Winter wolf, but she was now a Summer wolf. So she should not have had access to a scouting report.

“The report that Ashleigh saw said that Moonguard was still dangerous, that new creatures had control of the village, and it was unsafe to enter the territory. But the report she left for Axel said it was clear.”

Stefan furrowed his brows.

“How?” he asked.

Alice tilted her head.

“Ashleigh changed it.”

Stefan clenched his jaw and looked down toward the bed.

“Alpha Axel gave his approval, and Myka invited your troop. But, unfortunately, we learned the report had been altered on the second night you were in Moonguard.”

Alice sat up.

“So, what do you think?” she asked. “Is Ashleigh to blame for what happened in Moonguard?”

Stefan thought about what Alice had said, and he thought about everything that happened on the trip. Then, after a few minutes of quietly thinking it through, he shook his head.

“No,” he said. “I don’t think so.”

He was surprised and disappointed to hear that Ashleigh had altered the scouting report, but he still didn’t feel like what had happened was her fault.

“You said the report talked about the village being dangerous, right?” he asked.

Alice nodded.

“She didn’t take us there,” he said. “I heard her and Myka talking about it. She didn’t want us anywhere near it. She picked the lake because it was far from the village and gave us a chance to go fishing.”

“I see,” Alice said.

“And she was always checking the defenses,” Stefan added. “She made sure to look for any danger anywhere we went. And there was no way she could have known about the creatures in the lake.”

Alice nodded.

“I agree,” she said.

Stefan furrowed his brow.

“I thought you blamed her?”

Alice shook her head.

“I said that, to a degree, she was to blame. But I never said I blamed her,” she said. “Ashleigh never should have changed the report. If she hadn’t, you wouldn’t have been there and wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”

“Yea…” Stefan said. “But… she did try to keep us safe. I don’t think she meant for anyone to get hurt.”

Alice smiled.

“Have you ever heard the saying, the road to hell is paved with good intentions?” she asked.

Stefan shook his head.

“Just because you do something wrong for the right reasons doesn’t mean you didn’t do something wrong,” Alice said. “I don’t blame her for your injuries. She did not cause them. But she knowingly and willingly took that risk with all of your lives. And that is something I can’t look past.”

Alice took a breath and stood up once more. She nodded to him and turned to leave.

“Could you forgive her if I asked you to?” Stefan called out.

Alice paused with her hand on the handle of the door. She swallowed and then took a slow breath through her nose.

“Don’t do that,” she said, not looking back at him. “Forgiveness is a choice you make for yourself, not for anyone else. Asking someone to do it for you is cruel.”

“I didn’t mean—” Stefan quickly tried to explain.

“I know,” Alice interrupted, looking back with a warm smile. “Don’t worry, we’ll get through. Ashleigh and I were never that close to begin with. So I doubt any real long-term damage will be done to our budding relationship.”

Stefan smiled and waved as she opened the door and walked out.

He knew that Alice was upset about his injuries, and he had been worried that it would cause a problem between her and Ashleigh. But he also knew that if she said she didn’t blame Ashleigh, she meant it.

He hoped that in time, everyone, including Ashleigh herself, would forgive her for her mistake.

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