True to his words, less than an hour later Reece and Noori stepped out of the elevator that led directly into the hall. I’d gotten out of my shower wearing a cute pair of checkered shorts and a tucked in black top to go with. My hair had been washed and smelled amazing and I chose to let it dry naturally, because the cut in my arm started to slightly flare up again and I didn’t want to aggravate it more. My face was free of make up, never one to apply much. The bruise above my chest was slightly tender, but there was definitely an improvement.
The warm shower had really helped put things into perspective. I had come to terms with the fact that werewolves existed. I was brimming over with questions that I had to ask, and resisted the urge to write them down, lest I forget something. A small part of me was still slightly jumpy. My mind kept dredging up pictures of the rabid wolf from last night, making me shiver.
I’d..nearly died. That had to make anyone reconsider a lot of things:
I was going to embrace this new revelation with an open mind.
I was going to give Reece a chance to explain himself.
I was going to binge watch the entire series of Brooklyn 9-9.
Okay, the last one was not a reconsideration.
He looked up at me with a wicked smile that brought me out of my thoughts. Noori stood slightly behind him, adjusting the strap of her bag. She looked up at me respectfully and bent her head slightly, “Luna.” She acknowledged, making me uncomfortable.
“Hi, Noori. I’m feeling so much better since yesterday, so thank you!” It was easy to be enthusiastic now. I saw a small blush rise on her cheeks that made me smile. She was so shy!
They walked closer now, and I took the chance to give Reece a smile of my own. It felt nice to be cheerful and truly happy for a change. He froze for a second, looking at me like I’d grown a head and I couldn’t help but laugh merrily.
His shocked face molded into a sanguine one and he smiled back. We stood that way looking at each other for very long, both lost, until we heard a small cough.
“I’m here to check on your wounds, Luna.” She addressed me professionally, and I just wanted to shake her till she loosened up a little. But first, I must fix this obvious error.
“My name isn’t Luna! It’s Flora. Flora Lori.” I told her, stepping further into the living room towards the plush sofa set. I plopped myself down and then looked up at the two of them expectantly.
They were looking at each other in a silent conversation before they turned to look at me. Reece was holding a slight frown while the doctor lowered her head once more. “Sorry, Ms. Lori. I was under a false impression.” She nearly grit out the words, giving Reece a sideways look that I did not miss.
“That’s quite alright you know. Lori - Luna it happens.” I nodded with a small laugh. Why was she suddenly so uncomfortable? I decided to try to put her at ease once more. “And please, call me Flora.” I said gently. Noori’s face heated up even more as she threw Reece a desperate glance. Reece was actively avoiding her gaze now. She then nodded stiffly, but didn’t actually call me ‘Flora’.
“Well then. I can assure you that everything is healing.” I said easily, with a sway of my hand. Noori smiled a little, “perhaps it is best to let the doctor decide that?” She too, sat down on the sofa next to me.
I beamed at her, partly happy that she wasn’t awkward anymore and partly annoyed that she was just as strict as Reece. I watched as she bent slightly and opened her suitcase. She was wearing a sleeveless work dress which showcased her strong arms easily. I wondered if she played some intense sport since the cuts in her muscles were no joke. It’d take me years to work into that kind of physique.
There were a lot of instruments in her tiny little bag. The standard - a stethoscope, needles, white gauze, some bottles presumably with pills, and a pair of - silver HANDCUFFS?
What in the name of-?
My face contorted slightly as I stared at them in fascination and horror. Until a memory resurfaced. I turned my head to look at Reece, he was still standing on the other side of me, his questioning eyes meeting mine the second I looked at him.
All the calm from before evaporated as I got up, whirled around and stepped closer to him. My pointer finger was shoving itself in his chest as I tried to form a sentence in my anger. Reece was looking at me funny, as if to say, what’s up? But he didn’t step away. I vaguely felt Noori stop her work behind me as the clatter of the instruments ceased.
“YOU HANDCUFFED ME!” I yelled at him. He didn’t even falter.
“You. Handcuffed. ME!” I accompanied each word with a jab of my finger, wishing I had longer, sharper nails at the moment. Reece’s face went from one of confusion to understanding, and idiotically enough, a smile lit up his face.
His handsome features were now grinning at me widely, and I could almost see the twinkle in his eyes, as his mind replayed the memory. That only irked me further. I drove my finger home, into the soft black material of his shirt as I tried to get a reaction out of him.
How dare he laugh! That was so humiliating!
“Do you have any idea how embarrassing that was?! Atticus and April came into the room and found me all handcuffed and breathless!” I was almost shouting at him, as the memory solidified. Noori had told me that bits and parts would come back in a while.
“Don’t forget the wild hair.” He spoke effortlessly, without feeling the least bit ashamed. His mischievous eyes holding the key to his emotions. That did it.
“You think this is funny?! Well next time I will show you how funny it is!” I threatened, almost raging now. His hands came around my finger, wrapping them around my pointer. I tried to pry my finger out but he held his grip. He then spun me around effortlessly till I had turned halfway through. I was caught mid stumble by his other hand, as it came to rest around my waist, effectively stopping any further movement. And then I saw a red-faced Noori desperately looking everywhere else but at us.
I’d forgotten about her.
My own face matched her red one, as I silently fumed and blushed, very aware of his hand firmly gripping my waist, and his other hand still wrapped around my finger. Gosh. Noori definitely thinks we are dating now. How do I get this animal to back off?
“You should have just listened to me.” Reece whispered in my ear from behind me as he let go off my finger. His other hand went to my waist and squeezed it slightly, preventing me from turning around to give him another piece of my mind.
Keeping up the facade, I whispered back, slightly turning my head, ” You’re going to pay for that.” My words were a promise.
“I hope to.” He whispered right back, his words so smooth I almost breezed past them too, but they made my world shake.
“Well then, everything seems to be fine. You are actually doing a lot better than I thought.” Noori summarized as she began to pack her bag again. Reece walked into the room the second the words were out of her mouth and I half suspected that he was standing outside the door listening in on our conversation.
We had been in this room for over twenty minutes and I was worried that she’d found something troublesome about my injuries.
But, I was glad for this break, I needed time to mentally calm myself down after what Reece said.
My intentions were purely to threaten him, then how come his words seemed to incite something more illicit?
I’d completely neglected the Reece aspect of the werewolf, in contemplating the..werewolf aspect of Reece? Understanding? Me neither. But basically, I hadn’t given much thought to Reece being a werewolf, but just werewolves in general. His earlier words rang in my head.
‘Never letting you go.’
Did he mean that for real? Because his being a wolf changed things. I mean this was bordering on cross -species. He couldn’t be serious about that, that would be insane. More importantly, I couldn’t be serious about this because that was just...doubly insane?
AAAHH! Too much thinking is hurting my head!
“Luna?” Noori’s face came into my peripheral view as she bent forward to catch my attention. I realized that I had been holding my head in my hands. Talk about embarrassing...
“Is your head hurting?”
“Hmm? No! I mean, umm no.” I said quietly, trying to avoid their penetrating gazes. Geez I really get lost so easily.
“Are you sure?” Reece asked me worriedly, all the mirth replaced by creases. He stepped forward, looking straight into my eyes, trying to read me. He always did this whenever he felt like I was lying. My eyes were like open windows to him. I looked back into the forest green with my own muddy brown ones with true innocence, for there really was nothing wrong with me. Not physically anyway.
After a moment Reece nodded at the good doctor and she took her leave, reminding me once again to come to her immediately if I felt funny.
I felt funny all the time. Like right now, as I was studiously glancing through my phone, looking at the dozen messages that my best friend had sent me. She was supposed to come yesterday night but her flight got delayed to today. I couldn’t be more glad that she missed yesterday night. A shiver passed through me as the familiar rabid eyes took over my mind again. Those sharp, dusty claws that sliced right through my arm...
Reece was in front of me in a flash. His arms wrapped around me as the truth sunk in. I felt a hot drop falling down my face. I felt volatile. I knew I was crying, softly so, but definitely crying. He was kneeling in front of me, at the foot of the bed, murmuring sweet words to me. He didn’t ask me what was wrong, almost as if he were expecting this breakdown. I knew I wasn’t, I felt perfectly content in the morning. Until the severity of the situation hit me with full force. The insane healing and comfort provided by them had clouded the terror that I’d faced. But now, when I thought about Xena, and how I was so glad she wasn’t here, I realized how vicious the situation had been.
Oh my god. I was almost dead. I - I have so much to do. I can’t believe this even happened..
My inner freak out was obvious outside, to him. He now sat on the bed next to me, his hand in my hair, on my back, cupping the side of my face. He was doing an excellent job at making me feel the one thing I needed at the moment : safe. I let him comfort me, pushing the feelings of pride and embarrassment towards the back. I deserved to be taken care of right now.
I didn’t know how long we sat there - it could have been a minute or maybe twenty, before I felt much better. It was the comfort of his arms that made me finally feel good. I was sitting in his lap by then, as he cocooned with his large frame and let me ruin his soft, black shirt. It took me ten minutes to realize that we were sitting a bit too close, but the way his arms fit snug around me, I didn’t want to move away. And why should I? He was a friend, comforting a friend.
I eventually stopped, and pushed myself away so that I could look up to him. He didn’t allow me further space than that, and I wound up still perched on his lap like a tiny, scared kitten.
Not that I’d ever admit that.
His hand went once more to cup my cheek, and he looked straight into my eyes with a fire. “Nothing will ever happen to you again.” He promised me, and I believed him. He looked murderous, yet I knew he would never hurt me. But how long was I even going to stick around with him? We bumped into each other on a vacation, we’d part our ways in exactly seven days when Xena and I headed back home for, well, reality.
I held my tongue though, because why ruin a good moment?
Reece was reading my eyes again, I knew. And so I decided it best to switch the conversation to some of the more burning topics. Such as the fact that I was sitting on a mythical creature. I gently extracted myself from his hold, trying my best not to show how much his touch affected me and that while he seemed to find this perfectly normal, my mind was in overdrive at how close we were. Did he usually sit so close to girls and comfort them now? When we were dating he had always been super possessive.
“So...You’re a werewolf.” I stated, avoiding his gaze as I played with the scratched cover of my phone. Next to me, he let out a chuckle, making me look up at him.
“That is the worst subtlety I have ever seen.” He explained at my mock offended glare.
“Well I wasn’t trying to be subtle.” I bit back, my cheeks slightly burning. How do you bring up such a thing with subtlety anyway?
“Yes, I am.” The suddenly quiet tone of his voice caught me off guard. He was looking at me with a different expression now, trying to analyse my reaction to the now open truth in front of us. What did he think?
“I’m not going to bolt.” I assured him, but I could still see the doubt in his eyes. I let out a sigh and moved to sit further on the bed, pulling my legs up and sitting cross legged, facing him. Might as well get comfortable.
“You’re not scared?” He asked me, turning as well.
“I was, at first. But after everything you did for me yesterday night, how can I consider you an enemy?” I decided to be honest. It really was the best policy. Reece seemed to ponder over my words for a minute before nodding. Whatever answer I’d given put him at ease.
“Thank you.” I said after a moment of quiet. I needed to say it.
He let out a dark laugh. “I don’t deserve it, trust me.” His mood soured and I immediately moved closer. What caused this sudden swing?
“Of course you do. You saved my life from that beast!” He cringed slightly at the word ‘beast’ but let it go. “I would have been dead, had it not been for you!” I cried out, getting frantic to help him out of this self loathing.
“Yeah, but if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be in this mess either.” He spoke up, avoiding my gaze.
I put a comforting hand on his shoulder. That was within friendship bounds, right? “Reece, it’s okay now. We are all fine.” I assured him. I needed him to be okay.
I tried distracting him instead. “So,” I said again, “You’re a werewolf.” This time he let out a hearty chuckle. I took my hand back from his shoulder and leaned behind to rest on the flat of my palms, looking at him expectantly.
“Where should I start?”
“The end.” I muttered, making him laugh again, and earning him a playful scowl from me.
His hand went up to his hair, as it automatically did when he was tense and I realized that I would have to spoon feed him.
“Since when are you a...”
“Since I was born. It’s a myth that you become a werewolf by biting.” He answered immediately, glad that I was asking him questions.
“So, your mom and dad are..?”
“Yes. They are werewolves too.” He supplied immediately, getting more confident.
“And Grey and Sienna and Dani and..”
“Yes they’re all werewolves too.”
I didn’t need to prod him further.
“Werewolves live in packs. We have a leader - the Alpha-”
“So that’s why they call you Alpha!” I interjected, earning a wry smile from him.
“Yes, but you see. Each of these packs around the world, they are all presided over by the Alpha King and his umm, wife.” He continued modestly, as if I didn’t understand already. I’d heard several of them call him Alpha King.
“You reign over ALL the werewolves of the world?!” The tone of awe was unmistakable.
Reece’s hand went to his hair again, it was adorable. “Well, it’s not just me. I have a lot of help, somewhat like a court.” He added.
“How many are there? Wolves?”
“Around one eighth of the population-”
“ONE EIGHTH OF THE POPULATION OF THE WORLD?!” Holy shit. I’d dated royalty!
I sat there, cross legged, like a gaping fish out of water.
“Ready to bolt now?” He asked me with a slight smirk and I met his eyes again.
“No.. I just....wow.”
“Someone’s starstruck.” He commented, a cocky smile on his lips.
“So you’re here on werewolf..work?” I asked him, ignoring the starstruck jab.
He nodded, chuckling. “It’s called pack business.” He shifted his feet so that we were both sitting on the bed now. Just like old times. “But I’m done with it now.” he turned and sat facing me as he said this, not taking his eyes off of me throughout.
“Oh?” I tried not to show the hint of disappointment in my tone.
Get over him for god’s sake! He’s a different species!
“Yeah, we’d come here to sort out some treaties and get our affairs in order.”
“So...when do you leave?”
Please don’t say tomorrow.
Please don’t say tomorrow.
“Not sure. Depends on other things.”
Shoot. If he left tomorrow it’d be a smaller heartbreak.
Dude. Bipolar check.
“So, what happened yesterday night?” At that he froze. His jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed. I could see the muscles flex below his t-shirt. Did such random wolf attacks happen often? It made sense considering that he was the King.
“Did someone get hurt?!” Was my obvious conclusion.
“No, no. None of ours at least.” His words were ice. “But someone could have.” At that, his eyes narrowed at me and I unconsciously leaned away from him.
“Why are looking at me li-”
“Do you have any idea how reckless you were?!” He burst out, taking me by surprise.
“What? I’m sorry! I don’t have the ability to shapeshift like you!” I yelled back, annoyed at the lecturer.
“You OFFERED to help the rogue! TO HELP! Are you crazy? If something that’s trying to kill you is down, you run."
Oh, so that’s why he was mad.
“Well what did you want me to do?! It was dying!” I spoke back with equal authority. I refuse to have a blackened conscience!
Reece moved closer to me on the bed, and I didn’t have any more room left to maintain the space. He put both his hands on my shoulders and his face came impossibly close.
“You run. You hear me? You will never be in such a situation again, but god forbid if you are, you RUN.” He spelled it out for me again, checking to see if I’d understood.
But my mind was on a different track.
A situation like this? Again? Why? We’d split ways in seven days! Or did he not know?
“I leave from here by the end of the week. I’m sure nothing like this will happen again.” I assured him quietly and he stopped all movement.
“And where are you going?”
“Umm...home?” Was he stupid? He knew this was a vacation for me.
“It’s complicated, but you can’t.”
Anger flared at his control. “You don’t tell me what to do, mister. Even if you are a King!” For god’s sake! But Reece was having none of it. He wasn’t even listening to me!
“Flora. You have to stay with me.” He said again, not leaving my shoulders and his face inches from mine.
“Why? Is it because I know your secret now? Because I swear I won’t tell anyone!” I justified, looking into his eyes for a confirmation. I was very aware of how close we were. He was towering over me, his hands were tightly gripping my shoulders, and his face was impossibly close.
You’re crossing limits again, Flora. Just push him off.
“Because I said so.” Great. Such a typical alpha male thing to say. Haha Alpha. See what I did there? No?
“Well I’m sorry, your highness.” I spoke the words with annoyance, “but I am not, under your jurisdiction.”
Anger blazed in his eyes at my words. I’d given an egoistic wolf a challenge. Goodness gracious. I had just edged him on.
“Don’t challenge my decisions, mate.” He warned, his control slipping. I just knew it. His eyes were darker now, and I wondered if it was the light or a werewolf thing.
I gulped slightly, suddenly aware that I’d just angered the counterpart of a colossal beast.
He inched closer as if to show dominance, and I found myself trying to shy away. His hold tightened on me, preventing much movement and his breath in my face made it harder for me to think.
My heart beat rose, I couldn’t tell about him. I was excited, but also scared, but also trying to remember why I was annoyed. What should I do? Calm him down? Or hold my own?
“Your decisions are for you. I am not yours-”
And then his hand went behind my neck, pulled me forward, and claimed my lips with his.