The Accidental Mate 2- THE FORBIDDEN MATE

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 24 (v.1) - Chapter 22 and Epilogue

Submitted: April 16, 2011

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Submitted: April 16, 2011

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Chapter 22: Knowing

Mark-

Isa scrambled behind me as humans- with guns- cornered us in the cabin.

"You little bitch!" A man yelled at Isa, I snarled at him.

"Shoot him," The man, smiled evilly and just as the man on the left of him raised the gun a lion and several wolves leapt into action. Ian grabbed my arm, on  

instinct I growled then he said, "C'mon! You have to get her out of here!" I nodded and took Isa's hand, we'd just gotten to my car when a shot rang and Ian  

fell. I pushed Isa down and ran towards the man who'd seemed to be the leader- the one that had ordered me shot. I shifted effortlessly and tackled him to  

the ground.

I wrestled him for awhile as he used the gun to block me from his body. But he was weakening fast. Just when I'd caught his throat between my teeth- Isa  

screamed.

Isa-

Once Tristan had killed the scientist I felt a wave of relief. Then someone grabbed me and I screamed. The shock and terror came out of nowhere- not to  

mention the pain of his skin touching mine- not really pain but it was the feeling you get when someone rakes their nails down a chalkboard. Uncomfortable,  

disgusting, sickening.

"Everything will be okay," He whispered, but I knew he was lying. I could hear it in his voice. "Just stay calm," he whispered into my ear. "I'm just going to wait  

until I get my demands."

I felt my throat tighten as the man lifted a gun to my temple and cock the trigger. Tristan stood in wolf form in front of me. We both knew the inevitable- if he  

did as the man asked I'd die. If he attacked I'd die. Tristan and I locked eyes, 'I love you,' I mouthed, knowing this would be the last time I spoke to him.

He whimpered and lowered himself to the ground so he was lying down completely. The man had sucker punched us. He hit us when we were weak and  

defenseless. He cheated. Tristan kept his gaze on my eyes and whined again, I knew what he was saying: He loved me. I bit my lip as it trembled, and  

nodded gently.

I knew the moment I was dead Tristan would have his revenge on the man, Tristan wouldn't be weak. He'd be ready. And he would win. But it would be to  

late to save what had already been destroyed. The pain was already there and no matter the vengeance it wouldn't ever go away.

The man shot off two rounds, as Tristan stood up and took a step towards us, Tristan fell as both his legs went out. I screamed and threw my head back  

hitting the mans nose. I heard the sickening crunch as he released me I dropped to the ground and tried to get to Tristan, but the man caught my hair and  

yanked me backwards. I fell on the ground with a painful thud. I heard the gun cock again and my body locked up readying for death.

Out of nowhere a midnight wolf- the same raven color as Tristan's, but peppered with gray leapt over me just as the shot went off. I screamed. And a  

agonized howl echoed me. I looked up to see more wolves my brothers Father and Logan, along with others coming to attack the human as I sat up to see  

Alpha Solan, blood coming from his mouth. He was now in human form.

"Oh, god." I cried and rolled him over on his side, so he wouldn't choke on his own blood.Tears were streaming down my face.

"You're okay?" Alpha Solan rasped out. I nodded. The alpha smiled, gently.

And then Tristan was there in his human form a pair of sweats- with Ian standing behind him along with others all in animal forms semi circled around us.  

Watching with worry and shock- I was supposed to be the one lying here dying. but instead it was Tristan's father. He'd saved me.

"Dad," I heard Tristan ask as he took his fathers hand- his arms already healing from the gun wounds.

"Tristan?" The alpha's voice sounded quiet and wary.

"I'm here dad," Tristan whispered. Stroking his father's face.

"I couldn't-" Solan choked, "let you hurt like I have," He whispered, then he laughed- the sound was... happy. "Besides, I've kept your mom waiting to long."

Tristan sobbed a laugh, shaking his head as he ran his fingers through his fathers hair. I heard my father huff quietly telling the others to follow him- this  

was a private moment, between Tristan and his father. Even though I knew that, I couldn't seem pull myself away from the man who had saved my life. When I did try to force myself to leave The alpha caught the hem of my Tee, with weak shaky fingers, "Stay," He said looking at me to Tristan.

I took his hand pushing back the irritation at the touch. He smiled at me. "You're so much like her... I'm sorry, So sorry."

"You've saved my life, There is nothing to apologize for," I promised, squeezing his hand gently. Then he looked to his son, to my mate.

"I'm sorry, for everything, I just hope you can see that I am proud of you that I always have been. I've lived long enough to see you mated and happy and strong. That's all I could have asked for in life."

"Dad, I love you, too." Tristan whispered and clutched his fathers other hand, and as Solan looked up into the sky he smiled, and even though I was alive and healthy... I had no idea where I was going or what was ahead, but the look in the Alpha's eyes said he did know what was waiting for him. Solan knew where he was going. He knew what was right ahead of him. What was awaiting him. And as I watched helplessly as the alpha took his last breaths holding  me and Tristan's hands.

Tristan didn't shed a tear until the Alpha's hands fell slack in our own, then he fell forward onto his father's chest, sobs wracking his body, all I could do was reach out and hold him and comfort him.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Epilogue: Letter: #150 {Our Story}

Isa-

June

July

August

September 16th

I waited inside my room. The room I'd grown up in. The room I'd slept in until I was taken by Tristan...

I smile thinking back on that short time... But that little time was all it took for me to fall in love with him. I felt my eyes moisten and Momma scolded me.

"Don't cry, or else I will..." She murmured looking at me through the mirror.

"Were you nervous momma?" I asked wringing my hands in my lap.

"No. Yes. I was nervous for many reasons. But I never had this," She gestured to my reflection, I couldn't help but smile. "You're so beautiful baby,"

"Thank you momma. Do you think he'll like it?" I asked.

She nodded, and smiled sadly. I took her hand that was resting on my shoulder, "Momma, just because daddy's giving me away doesn't mean this is  

goodbye. He's so good momma. I love Tristan so much. I never thought it was possible." I explained.

Then I heard a knock on my bedroom door, "Isa?" I heard daddy call I wiped my tears away, being extra careful not to smudge my make-up.

"Come in, Daddy." I called, He opened the door and stopped. Taking in my room and me and momma as I stood.

He cleared his throat, "you ready, Isa?" Holding his hand out for mine.

"Yes. As I'll ever be." I smiled and took his hand he looped it through the crease of his arm and momma followed behind, holding my light blue heels-  

borrowed from her. Once we got down the stairs I slipped on the heels.

Momma came and ruffled my hair- fixing it- she insisted, but I knew she did it because she needed to feel close. I remembered nights she would tuck me  

and she'd ruffle my hair until I was satisfied enough to stay in bed.

I hugged her and kissed her cheek. "I love you, momma." I whispered.

"I love you, too." She murmured kissing my cheek.

Daddy took my arm again and momma left to go get her seat. once the music started dad and I walked outside.

It was beautiful. They had decorated it perfectly. I felt more tears sting my eyes but I held them back. And then I caught Tristan's gaze, he was waiting for me  

at the end of the aisle, smiling gently. I smiled back unable to hide my happiness.

Almost everyone was here. My father and mother's pack, and Tristan and I's pack. There was no more hate between our packs. I couldn't help but giggle as I  

looked over to see Dj patting Tristan's shoulder. They'd become close friends.

As I looked to see my brother standing on my side. Tony hadn't come... i felt a sharp pang of sadness. It cut deep, to know he hated me. But someday he  

would thank me, right? When he found his true mate and felt the way I did right at this moment. when we got to the end of the aisle Tristan stepped forward  

and my daddy took my hand in his. Daddy turned to look at me.

"I love you, Isa." Daddy, whispered quietly, as his eyes grew misty. I squeezed his hand.

"I love you, more, daddy." I whispered rising on my tip toes to kiss his cheek gently. He touched my face with his free hand as I pulled back then he slid my  

hand into Tristan's and nodded. Tristan nodded back. As my daddy took his seat Tristan escourted me the next few steps to where the preacher waited for  

us.

He said his vows and slid his mother's ring on my finger, I couldn't keep the tears back anymore, I felt them fall from my eyes. My voice shook quietly as I  

said my vows and slipped his father's ring over his finger.

Then the preacher said his line, "You may kiss the bride," Tristan leaned in and kissed me so softly, so carefully, as if I'd shatter at the slightest pressure.

My brothers hooted and the cheers went off. I pulled back smiling, his dark eyes were filled with pride and happiness. I make him happy. I beamed simply at  

that thought.

"I love you," He mouthed, to me and leaned in to kiss me again. My hands wrapped around his neck holding his lips to mine.

"I love you, too." I whispered against his mouth.

Owen must have had enough because he nudged me and opened his arms wanting a hug. I turned and hugged him. I felt Owen kiss the top of my head.  

"I'm gonna miss you."

"We'll see each other all the time. It's not like I'm..." I let the word fall silent 'dying' would hit a little close to home. Because I almost did die. If it wasn't for  

Alpha Solan I wouldn't be here.

I remembered that night. After wrapping up the bodies and burning the workers bodies along with the lab. While we collected our dead. Tristan took care of  

his father's body. Dj never left his side. I wasn't sure what to do. I felt so... useless. I felt like I shouldn't be standing there but everytime I'd tried to give Tristan  

the time alone I thought he'd need he'd grab me and pull me back. Not letting me go until I relaxed and gave in.

Once everything was ready we all went back home. My dad let me go home with Tristan that night. I was torn that night, I'd saw how much Tony really cared

about me... how much he loved me. I knew that if I left with Tristan I'd be choosing him. I knew as I ran out to Tristan's car to catch him before I left that Tony  

would never really forgive me. Ever. But I was in love with Tristan and he needed me. Tony, I knew had someone waiting... somewhere for him. He just didn't know it yet.

Tristan didn't hesitate to take me home with him. We sat on his couch talking and comforting. then we went to bed. The same bed he'd taken me in the first  

time. That night we'd needed more then words. He confessed after our lovemaking, that he wasn't crying when his father died because of loss, though he  

was upset, but he was crying because of how close he'd come to loosing me.

I understood what he was saying after he explained. He'd lost his father a long time ago. the man who died was only his alpha in his fathers body. He felt the  

loss of a great leader. Similar to how normal citizens feel when famous actors, sports players die. I realized that he had already coped with the loss of his  

father. When he was just a little boy, his father had died. But I also knew what he wouldn't admit. That the man that was lying there dying was the father he'd  

had before his mother's death. It was what he wished could have been. And I knew he did ache, somewhere, knowing that was the last time he'd ever really  

speak to his father.

***

After dancing and eating everyone was growing tired and the reception was over before I knew it. I looked over at Tristan and my daddy talking. They smiled  

and daddy cam over to me and held out his hand.

"One more dance, Isa." He asked, and I nodded, feeling my throat tighten painfully.

We spun to our song and I pulled myself closer to him. "I love you, so much, daddy." I whispered into his neck.

"I know, I know." Daddy's voice cracked as his hands smoothed over my hair and he kissed the top of my head. "I don't know how you grew up so fast, so  

quickly..." Daddy murmured wonderously. We were no longer dancing. We were simply standing there hugging each other. "You're happy?" He asked. I  

nodded.

"I'm more then happy, daddy." I promised feeling tears fall from my eyes, soaking into his white button-down shirt he'd worn under his tuxedo jacket.

He pulled back and wiped under my eyes with his thumbs, "Then no tears." He said his eyes getting misty. I nodded and took a deep breath. Then I stood up  

on my tip toes- I'd taken off the heels ages ago- and kissed daddy's cheek.

"Thank you, for everything, daddy." I breathed.

then I noticed Tristan behind my daddy. It was time. I pulled back from daddy and he turned to see Tristan waiting patiently. Tristan smiled and daddy smiled  

back. "If I didn't know how much that boy loved you..." Daddy trailed off, "Or how much you love him... I don't know if I could give you away."

"I'll always be your baby." I promised.

He nodded, "I know, now you should go." He whispered.

I smiled brightly as my momma came to his side. "She hugged me tightly.

"Good luck, baby." Her eyes swam with un-shead tears.

daddy wrapped his arm around her stomach and watched as I walked to Tristan. I realized then, I wasn't just walking towards my husband, my mate... I was  

walking toward my future. Tristan met me in the middle and took my hand.

Mark-

Her hand was warm and soft in mine. I pulled her closer. "Are you ready?" I asked quietly. I could feel my nerves kick in.

"Yes, I've been waiting 17 years for this night."

"I've been waiting longer," I argue teasingly. Her hands catch my face. Isa stares into my eyes. and I see everything. Love, joy, happiness, some  

nervousness. But I also see everything I'd ever dreamed of having with her coming to life.

 

"Let's go," She whisperes and gently kisses my jaw, taking my hand again as we walk down the trail to where we'd first actually met. Her tree, with all her  

drawings and writings. Her place, the place she'd chosen to share with me.

She was going to shift for me. Only me. Her first shift. Her first time really exploring her own body and I was here with her. I couldn't hold back, I caught the  

back of Isa's neck and pulled her body tightly against my own.

I kissed down her chin, to her jaw, following the path that led right to my mark on her shoulder. I kissed it gently, "Mine," my wolf growled.

"Yours." She promised. I unzipped the white dress, my hands resting on her lower back when I finished. Isa shrugged her shoulders and the loose straps  

slid from her shoulders.

As I kissed her again her hands found the bottons on my shirt, she fumbled, her hands shaking slightly. We'd had sex, made love. But this... This was even  

more. This wasn't just physical. This would bind our soles together- which for me seemed impossible.Isa was the air I breathed, I'd die without her.

And then I thought of my father, and my mother. And as much as I wished I could hate the man he had become after mom died, I could understand it now.  

Just like he'd said I would. I could imagine him smirking, saying "I told you so," I bit back a laugh, thinking, You sure did dad.

Once we were both undressed Isa pulled back slightly.

"How do I do it?" she asked.

"Just let yourself go. Open yourself up. It will hurt, but I'll be here." I whispered.

"Forever?"

"I'll always be here," To emphasize my promise I stepped closer. "Right here. Where ever you need me. When ever you need me."

"Me too. Whenever and where ever." She vowed, laying her head against my shoulder. I buried my face in her hair, my hands clenched her back.

"Relax, let it free," I kissed her neck. Then I felt it. The spark. The heat. The pleasure pain of the first shift. She moaned, gripping my shoulders. ''Shh, I'm  

here, baby." I murmured feeling my own shift begin, She whimpered. And I kissed her mark letting my teeth scrape over it gently.

Then it happened. My world exploded. When I pulled back we were both on four legs and covered in fur. I nuzzled her neck letting her know it was over. That  

she'd done it. She opened her eyes and immediately her eyes widened. She was taking everything in. The colors, the smells, the feeling. Every sense was  

heightened.

'Are you okay?' I asked nuzzling her shoulder.

she nodded and I laughed at the human-ness of it. 'What do we do now?' She asked turning her head to look at me. I was already walking around her. My  

body brushing hers, marking her with my scent, I'd never done this to any other female. I didn't even know males had this urge. Until instcinct told me to do it.  

Until my wolf did it without thinking.

She stepped to the side and I growled as she turned face to face with me, 'What are you doing?' she asked with honest curiosity.

'Claiming you,' I answered. 'Now let me finish.' I said and pushed my face against the side of hers, before circling her again Coating her with my scent. My wolf took over again, clearly not satisfied, I nudged her until she layed down on her belly, and looked up at me. I continued circling her unsure of what I needed, When she tried to stand back up I growled. She dropped back down again. And looked at me questioningly. 'i don't know, what I want.' I growled frustrated.

I sat staring at her small body, She was tiny compared to me. her fur was the same milk chocolate as her hair, with the exact same dark natural streaks  

going through it.

I stood and walked until I was standing over her then her eyes lit up. 'What?' I asked lowering my face next to hers.

'I... I think I might know what you want...' she said hesitantly.

'Show me?' I said. Needing the unknown with a burning passion... needing to know she accepted me.

'If it's not don't laugh,' she said then she moved and I growled, before I realized she wasn't trying to stand, my growl stopped as soon as she rooled over onto  

her back and looked up at me innocently. I was frozen. The satisfaction that hummed through me shocked me.

'Tristan?' she asked, her paw stretching out and nudging my shoulder as if to get my attention.

I lowered my face to hers and licked her cheek, begore lying down in front of her. Her head below my chin with her still lying onher back, she nipped playfull-  

but hesitantly at my neck. I nudged her muzzle with mine and she growled gently, still playing.

'Can we run?' she asked, as we continued to bat at one another teasingly.

'You start, I'll catch you.' I said licking her cheek.

She rolled over and jumped to her feet, excitedly. '10 second head start?' She asked her tail wagging eagerly.

'Your ten seconds started 5 seconds ago.' I teased sitting up and without hesitation she took off into the forrest, and I was right on her tail. She was fast, but  

my legs were longer and This was her first time running on four legs, she tripped slightly several times and although we both knew I could catch her easily if I really wanted to. I let her continue ahead of me. Then when her breathing was becoming labored I pounced. And she colapsed under me. I didn't put any full weight behind the pounce but enough to let her know who had who. she rolled over into her back immediately. I lowered my face into her scent and then I felt the shimmer of coolness, travel between us as fur turned to skin and Isa was beneath me panting gently.

"Got you," I murmured, laughing slightly as I kissed her.

"Now what?"

"Now, I make love to you." I rumble, eagerly.

She nodded, "Okay," I groaned as my body pressed against hers, until we were both falling into ecstasy.

 

October

November

Isa-

Dear Tristan,

Don't forget about the doctors appointment tomorrow. It's important. And Dj called for you. I'm out with Chrissy and Kristen. I'll be home soon.

Love you,

Isa

I wrote as I glanced in the full length mirror in our room again at the slight and foreign bump that rested just above my hip bones. I smiled running my hand  

over the little bump and smiling remembering how Tristan's hand had done the same thing the night we'd done 3 pregnancy tests and they all came out  

positive.

*FLASHBACK*

That night lying in bed together. Neither of us slept, but neither of us spoke for a long while. We touched, gentle, soft, caresses. His fingertips running so  

gently over my flat stomach. We wondered about what our baby would be like... who it would be... What it'd be.

We cuddled and breathed one another in. And then I asked "What was your dad's middle name?"

"Peirce," He answered, petting my belly with his knuckles.

"What about your mother's?" I asked my eyes

"Ava," He murmured.

"Ava..." I thought, Trying to take my mom's way of coming up for names My mother's midle name was Anna... But Ava Anna Kael... Anna Ava Kael it just didn't  

sound right.

"Avanna Bree Kael?" It came out quietly but Tristan stopped moving, "If it's a girl... My mom's middle name is Anna... I just like the name Bree." I shrugged.

A smile lit his face, "It's perfect, but what if its a boy?" He questioned.

"Can you tell already?"

Tristan shook his head. "The hormones are blocking the scent. You just smell stronger then usual." His finger traced down the middle of my belly.

"I don't know for a boy..."

"Your Father's middle name?" He asked.

"Erik," I laughed.

"That one's easy then. Erik Pierce Kael." He smirked.

"That's okay with you?"

He laughed at me, " You're really gonna try to mash those names together?"

I thought... "What if we tried their first names? Kaden... Solan...

"Kolan?" Tristan laughed, I punched his arm.

"Not funny," I said but couldn't help but smirk. Then I got serious again...

"Kodan?"

Tristan's smile disappeared. "What? I don't think its that bad." I defended.

"Maybe it's just anything you say sounds perfect... How do you do it?" He asked smiling and shaking his head. Tristan playfully flipped me onto my back  

while straddling me.

He then preceeded to kiss down the length of my jaw, down the column of my throat to the space where my shoulder and neck meet and licked his mark  

lovingly. Tristan nuzzled into my neck before whispering. "What about his middle name?"

"Kodan Mark Kael." I answered my fingers moving through his dark hair.

"I love you Isabel, but can I make a suggestion to the girl's name?"

"Why you don't like it?"

Tristan moved rested his chin just above my belly looking up at me. "I like it, I swear, But well," His face heated a little.

He was embarrassed? Tristan the almighty Alpha was embarrassed? "What?"

"Well, if it's a girl, I think Bell, would sound nice."

"Avanna Bell?" I asked trying it out on my tongue.

"Avanna Bell Kael," He whispered to me.

"Maybe, you have that magic voice thing too." I teased. The names were finally decided.

In the morning I was going to call my family. Tristan and I fell asleep cuddled together.

*End of Flashback*

"Isa!" I heard Kristen moving up the stairs.

"In here!" I pulled a sweater on and grabbed the note off the dresser to set on the coffee table in the living room.

"We're not gonna have very much time to shop!" Kristen pouted.

I laughed, "You know I hate Christmas shopping." I retorted as we ran down the stairs and I put the note down Kristen started off ahead of me and I put my  

fingers to my lips and touched the paper, knowing Kristen wouldn't see me and make fun of me for it- but I'd done it since I began writing to him instead of to a diary. Then I went walked out the door into the cold winter air smiling. I knew exactly what to get Tristan for Christmas! And It wasn't anything I could buy.

***

After shopping I stopped at mom and dad's and went up to my old room- which still looked exactly how I'd left it. Finding the diary still taped in it's hiding spot  

I brought it out and sat on my bed opening it to the night before I had gotten married to Tristan.

Letter: #150

Dear Tristan, 

It's September 15th, only mere hours until I'm officially yours, and you're mine. I know you will argue and say we've always belonged to eachother... but I won't  

get into how much you love to argue at the moment.

I never thought it would mean this much... Getting Married. I never thought I'd be so excited to start living my life. To grow up. To start a family of my own. Our  

own. Never thought it would have me here in my bed counting the hours until I'll be sleeping tucked in beside you every night for the rest of our lives.

Girls dream of their wedding since they're little girls... I know because I was one of them. What I never realized was that it isn't the ceremony that makes it  

perfect. It's the man. It's the love.

And I love you. So much, more then I ever thought was humanly-- or shifter-ly-- possible. And sometimes that scares me. I know you love me. That you'd  

never leave me. It's just scary to know it is possible.

But tonight I'm thinking about our future. Our children, I'm praying that they get as lucky as I am. That they find someone they love just as much as I love you. I  

realize now that my momma use to pray for the same thing... And I've found it in you. I've found the other half of me I'd never knew I'd lost.

Tomorrow we will be tied together again. I'll be healed. I'll be whole. Everything happens for a reason. My mom used to say that all the time. I never  

believed her, but now that I look back I think I do.

I should be sleeping. I have a bigg day tomorrow. Tomorrow is the start of the rest of our lives together. Mybe some day I'll give you all this diary, It's the story  

of how we've come so far together. It seems acceptable... Our story... Letter # 150. Maybe I could write a book...

I love you,

Isabel Katherine Calhoun Kael

THE END

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Now here is a preview for "TAM 3: The Unwanted Mate". Hope you guys all like! It is Romance-y!

Nikole- 

I was cold, scared and so, so, sore.

"Nikole! Oh baby!" I heard April cry out, before gently scooping me up into her arms. I whimpered.

"What's wrong sweetie?"

"My belly hurts, My whole body hurts." I cried.

I felt her pull up my nightie and I automatically fought against her holding my white nightgown down on my body and screamed.

"No!" She put her hand over my mouth and kissed my forehead,"I won't hurt you. You know that." She scolded me. "Now let me see. Show me where it hurts honey." She cooed. I lifted my nightie. She ran her fingers over the painful area and I jerked away.

"Do you want to sleep with me tonight?" She whispered I nodded sniffling, April picked me up gently and carried me into her bed. She laid down beside me stroking my hair, lulling me to sleep.

"April, will you tell me the story?" I asked quietly.

"What story?" She asked raising her voice trying to dull the sounds of painful screams, and pleads of mercy- mercy that would never be given. not to us.

"The ugly duckling," I whispered burrowing my face into her shoulder.

"The Ugly Duckling," She began, Knowing this story was my favorite and always made me feel better.

"Once upon a time... down on an old farm, lived a duck family, and Mother Duck had been sitting on a clutch of new eggs. One nice morning, the eggs hatched and out popped six chirpy ducklings. But one egg was bigger than the rest, and it didn't hatch. Mother Duck couldn't recall laying that seventh egg. How did it get there? TOCK! TOCK! The little prisoner was pecking inside it's shell.

"Did I count the eggs wrongly?" Mother Duck wondered. But before she had time to think about it, the last egg finally hatched. A strange looking duckling with gray feathers that should have been yellow gazed at a worried mother. The ducklings grew quickly, but Mother Duck had a secret worry.

"I can't understand how this ugly duckling can be one of mine!" she said to herself, shaking her head as she looked at her last born. Well, the gray duckling certainly wasn't pretty, and since she ate far more than her brothers and sisters, she was outgrowing them. As the days went by, the poor ugly duckling became more and more unhappy. Her brothers and sisters didn't want to play with her, she was so clumsy, and all the farmyard folks simply laughed at her. She felt sad and lonely, while Mother Duck did her best to console her.

"Poor little ugly duckling!" she would say. "Why are you so different from the others?" And the ugly duckling felt worse than ever. She secretly wept at night. She felt nobody wanted her.

"Nobody loves me, they all tease me! Why am I different from my brothers and sisters?" She'd wonder.

Then one day, at sunrise, she ran away from the farmyard. She stopped at a pond and began to question all the other birds. "Do you know of any ducklings with gray feathers like mine?" But everyone shook their heads in scorn.

"We don't know anyone as ugly as you." The ugly duckling did not lose heart, however, and kept on making inquiries. She went to another pond, where a pair of large geese gave her the same answer to her question. What's more, they warned her: "Don't stay here! Go away! It's dangerous. There are men with guns around here!" The duckling was sorry she had ever left the farmyard.

Then one day, her travels took her near an old country man's cottage. Thinking she was a stray goose, he caught her.

"I'll put this in a hutch. I hope it's a female and lays plenty of eggs!" said the old man, whose eyesight was poor. But the ugly duckling laid not a single egg. The rooster kept frightening her.

"Just wait! If you don't lay eggs, the old man will wring your neck and pop you into the pot!" And the cat chipped in: "Hee! Hee! I hope the man cooks you, then I can gnaw at your bones!" The poor ugly duckling was so scared that she lost her appetite, though the old man kept stuffing her with food and grumbling: "If you won't lay eggs, at least hurry up and get plump!"

"Oh, dear me!" moaned the now terrified duckling. "I'll die of fright first! And I did so hope someone would love me!"

Then one night, finding the hutch door ajar, she escaped. But once again she was all alone. She fled as far away as she could, and at dawn, she found herself in a thick bed of reeds. "If nobody wants me, I'll hide here forever." There was plenty a food, and the duckling began to feel a little happier, though she was lonely. One day at sunrise, she saw a flight of beautiful birds wing overhead. White, with long slender necks, yellow beaks and large wings, they were migrating south.

"If only I could look like them, just for a day!" said the duckling, admiringly. Winter came and the water in the reed bed froze. The poor duckling left home to seek food in the snow. She dropped exhausted to the ground, but a farmer found her and put her in his big jacket pocket.

"I'll take her home. I'll look after her. Poor thing, she's frozen!" The duckling was showered with kindly care at the farmer's house. In this way, the ugly duckling was able to survive the bitterly cold winter.

However, by springtime, she had grown so big that the farmer decided: "I'll set her free by the pond!" That was when the duckling saw herself mirrored in the water.

"Goodness! How I've changed! I hardly recognize myself!" The flight of swans winged north again and glided on to the pond. When the duckling saw them, she realized she was one of their kind, and soon made friends.

"We're swans like you!" they said, warmly. "Where have you been hiding?"

"It's a long story," replied the young swan, still astounded. Now, she swam majestically with her fellow swans. One day, she heard children on the river bank exclaim: "Look at that young swan! She's the finest of them all!"

And she almost burst with happiness." April finished, quietly her own voice sounding tired...

And with that I felt a smile life the corners of my mouth and let my eyes close, one day I would be the finest of them all... One day I will belong some where. One day a farmer will come and save me. I comforted myself as I drifted into sleep. One day I won't be the ugly duckling. One day I'll be as beautiful as everyone else. One day I'll belong somewhere.



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