3I woke up before him. Reece had caged me in his tight but comforting arms and it took a good amount of energy and will to get out of that space. He grunted a little before opening one of his eyes to look at me. I shrugged, “I have to pee.” I told him and he shut his eyes and rolled over again. “Come back fast.” He murmured in his sleep but he was snoring within seconds.
He must have been really tired, I figured, since he was a light sleeper, and didn’t need as much sleep as us mortal humans. Their abilities were somewhat intimidating for someone like me, but I tried to not to let it bother me.
I fumbled around for my phone in the dark, before realizing that it was probably in the hall downstairs before Reece had flung me over his shoulder. An annoyed snort made its way to my mouth at that thought. Savages. Why couldn’t they just talk normally?
It was still dark, I was guessing. The basement had vents and natural light seeping in - kudos to the architect - but it still didn’t give me a hint of the time. I found the lights on in the hall - we’d left those on as well in his stupor. Xena was sleeping quietly on the couch. She’d curled up with the blanket in her arms and I made sure to not wake her up as I plopped down the stairs. I spotted my phone from a little distance away, sitting on the table next to the empty box of pizza.
It said 3:07 a.m.
I’d hardly slept two hours, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep. It had been a good ten minutes till I scrolled through my phone and answered important emails and checked my social media feed. Reece hadn’t come down the stairs thundering.
Deciding that it was safe to go outside without the threat of a sleepy/annoyed/permanently worried Alpha King, I took my copy of the key card and grabbed a coat from the stand in the foyer that the elevator opened into.
Alyssa wasn’t at the reception desk anymore. In her place was an old man in his late forties, who immediately looked up at the elevator as I stepped out. He had white hair for the most, and a white beard to go with it. He was wearing formal clothes and was holding a newspaper, his spectacles were hanging low on his nose. He gave me a surprised smile, before standing up from his chair.
“Is there something I can help you with, miss?” He asked me politely before I could say anything. I gave him a smile of my own before shaking my head. “I just need to clear my head.” I told him, moving towards the huge glass double doors that were now kept shut. The reception had two entrances, the back entrance directly led to the large swimming pool. I stepped out through the front entrance, deciding to take a walk around the entire place.
He gave me a polite nod before going back to his newspaper. “Don’t wander into the forest ma’am, the path is quite confusing.” I heard him yell, just as I shut the door behind me. It was cold, but fresh. It had probably just rained. Small lights surrounded the entire resort land, indicating my borders and I stayed well within them. The front ground of the hotel was large, it housed a huge garden, which was surrounded by a jogging track, and a small parking space for bicycles.
I could see, even from this distance the cycle that I had rented because of its distinguished basket at the front. There was a lot of noise for the night. I supposed that staying in the middle of the forest did that. I began to make my way to the side of the building, cutting across the jogging track and the lawns. The ground was all wet and the short grass full of dew. I grimaced thinking about the state of my slippers at the end of this.
There weren’t many people out, given the ungodly hour, but I did spot a cleaning staff or two, giving me curious looks. The side of the hotel that I had walked into had a huge clearing, where in the center was a concrete circle that had a huge H written on it. There was no helicopter in sight though. I was enjoying my walk, it was cold and breezy, but refreshing and quiet. I crossed the patch of land within a small amount of time to reach the back of the hotel. The dark waters of the pool were still, not a ripple in them. I had the urge to go and disturb that serenity.
My mind flashed back to when Reece jumped into the pool with me. The hideous swimsuit Xena had packed in my bags. Sabotage everywhere.
Gosh, I sure was dramatic. And uneasy. Something didn’t feel right.
There was an array of wooden lounge chairs, on either side of the pool. The umbrellas above them had been shut and everything was wet. I could imagine how cold the water might be right now. This one winter, Xena and I had gone to these amazing hot springs with my mom. It was really magical. We spent so long over there, even changing our itinerary to stay in that town for longer. I closed my eyes with a sigh, I should call my mom soon, she must be missing me.
I made my way to the side of the pool and bent down, and then I put my hand in the water and swayed it all over. Multiple ripples formed over the smooth, fluid surface and I smiled in satisfaction. Childishness was the norm.
And then something weird happened. The water in the pool felt warm. I put my other hand in as well, kneeling at the edge. Nope, it was too warm. Almost hot. And the outside temperature was so cold. How was this possible? Was this pool heated? That was unlikely since it was chilling when I’d gone swimming in the morning. The water turned hotter. I could feel the temperature rising but it wasn’t bothering me. This was definitely alarming, maybe their heating system was having some kind of a malfunction.
The water turned hotter still and I pulled my hand out of the pool in alarm. I looked around for some help or staff but it was the dead of night and people had other things to do than wander by the resort pool. I looked at the water once more but the rippling water betrayed nothing about it’s temperature. I wondered if I had imagined it all and put my hand back in the water to check if it really got hot.
The unmistakable warmth was not missed and I began to panic. It felt like any minute now waves of steam would rise from the surface of the water, given the cold temperature outside.
Behind me, someone cleared their throat.
I made the mistake of whirling and getting up together, in surprise and then as luck never favored me, my spinning heel moved too far, going beyond the tiled border and landing on the water. Of course, it didn’t stay there, it went down and took me with it. Whoever it was, they did try to help me, but I supposed that it was too late and I only heard a loud yelp before I went under.
It wasn’t hot water anymore. What the hell was going on?!
I could only splutter and cough as I broke my way to the surface. My feet touched the ground and I stood up immediately, my eyes shut as I violently barfed up the chlorine in my windpipe.
“Are you okay?!” I heard the tensed statement, and finally rubbed my eyes to look at him. He was a young boy, buff and short. His face still had child-like features but the bulging muscles in his arms showed that he wasn’t much younger. He was leaning against the edge of the pool, his arm extended out towards me and I gladly took it.
He was wearing the normal staff uniform and had a name tag with the word ‘Jose’ printed on it.
With ease, he pulled me out of the pool and I suspected that he was unnaturally strong. He gave me a once over, his fair face red with embarrassment, just like me. “Are you okay?!” and I nodded with a shiver.
“I was just startled, that’s all.” I told him, my voice unstable. He started fawning all over, mumbling constant apologies either way and I broke into a laugh.
“It’s okay! Accidents happen!” I chimed, it was easier to be normal now that I wasn’t choking with the water and he gave me a wry look.
I waved my hand in dismissal, “Really, I just happen to be clumsy.” I told him with a shiver and he panicked even more.
“Good god! You must be freezing!” He said suddenly, as if it just struck him that people can feel cold. He put his hand on my shoulder and guided me closer to the building in a hurry. I went with the flow, it was rather cold anyway. My coat and clothes were now sticking to me like a second skin and stealing all my body heat.
Jose walked to the stilted area of the building and I saw the back entrance to the reception. He quickly walked in and spoke to the old man at the reception, who took one look at me and scurried away into one of the waiting rooms. They both came back to me a few seconds later with a thick, oversized coat that had a checkered pattern. I took it gladly, while the old man said, “it’s from the lost and found. Sorry, this was the first thing we could find.”
“But, I’ll get it all wet-”
“Don’t worry about that!” The young staff member was alarmed and I let out a laugh. They sure were too careful.
Wait a minute...
“Do I know you?” I asked Jose as I put on the coat. The world immediately felt warm. They both shook their heads and gave me curious looks. Okay, now I was just paranoid. If he was a werewolf, he’d have stopped me from falling into the pool.
I took a deep breath and decided to start over. Extending my right hand, I said,” I’m Flora Lori. I’ve come here for a vacation.” They both stared at my hand as though it was alien, before the old man broke his hesitancy and shook my hand in a tight grip. His name tag said-
“I’m Roran. I work the night shift here.” He told me and I nodded, “This is Jose, he’s on the staff.” he gestured to the boy next to him. Jose gave me a small smile before breaking into an apology again.
“I really didn’t think that you would fall in!” He started and I shook my head more firmly this time.
“Jose,” I made sure to emphasize his name, “It really is okay, I just startle easily.” I informed him and he shook his head, unsure. I sighed. “Don’t stress about it.” I added. The boy looked up at me again and I gave him my most assuring smile and I watched as his unsure expression turned into one of slight belief.
“That’s one way to clear your head, miss.” Roran told me and I laughed. “You don’t say.” Jose just looked at us confused but didn’t comment.
“What were you doing out so late?” He asked me, and next to him Roran elbowed him hard. They probably shouldn’t ask such questions to the guests, but I was okay with that.
“Oww! I mean, uh, is there anything we can help you with ma’am?” he grit out in pain and I got the feeling that these two knew each other. They looked similar too. The same brown eyes and skin tone. But while Jose had a sweep of black hair, Roran’s hair was white.
“Uh, no. I just got out of the room for fresh air.” It was like I oozed lame. I hung my head in shame at my pitiful response. Why can’t I just be normal?
Surprisingly, it didn’t seem like they were judging me. “But I think I’ll head back up and change out of this before I catch a cold.” I continued, mostly to fill the silence.
Roran nodded immediately, “Most certainly ma’am. Do you have your key?” he asked me conversationally and I nodded.
Until I felt around in my coat pocket. It wasn’t there.
“I can’t find it! It was right here in my pocket...” I took off the warm coat they had offered to check the inner coat properly. I still didn’t find it.
“You must have dropped it in the pool!” Jose supplied sheepishly, looking away from Roran’s stern gaze. I shrugged, not knowing if that was really true. Although it was likely for that to happen.
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll go fish it out of the pool, meanwhile Uncle Roran here can issue you a new key, right?” Jose volunteered and I smiled at him gratefully. I was truly freezing, and I didn’t want to wake either Reece or Xena up and face their lecture. I looked at Roran and he nodded with ease. “Come this way, let’s get you a new key.” He told me, guiding me back to the front part of the reception area. Jose skipped away from us, presumably towards the pool to look for the missing key.
“Can you spell your surname for me please?” Roran stepped into professional mode and I did as he asked. “It’s L-O-R-I” I spoke through my chattering teeth, the cold making a return. He sped up in his work as he heard me shiver and I managed to laugh.
Suddenly, his entire demeanor changed. He looked up at me with a formality that I couldn’t understand. I gave him a quizzical look and he snapped back out of his gawking expression.
“Is something wrong?“I asked him, leaning towards the computer and he shakes his head quickly. “Uh no ma’am.” Ma’am?
“Call me Flora.” My response was immediate. It was weird for someone much older to call me ma’am. He gave me a shaky nod before he spoke again, “You’re currently staying in B3?” His words meant to sound casual, but there was an unmistakable surprise in his voice.
Aaah, so that’s what this is. The hotel staff probably knew that B3 was only for The Wolf’s owners. He probably thinks I own it! I let out a snort, which earned another shocked expression from his side. Clearing my head, I answered his question. “Yes, I am.” I told him and he nodded, doing much better at guarding his expression as he got back to work. Why was everyone so scared of Reece?
He’d put a new card into the slot of the machine, and we both waited for it to activate. Roran, who was only so calm and friendly a minute ago had turned impatient and tense. I resisted the urge to put my hand on his shoulder to ease him. All this because of a name?
Just as the light on the machine turned green, a phone rang at the reception. Roran flinched and my eyebrows went all the way up at his paranoid behavior. What was wrong with this guy? He picked it up, only to hold the phone a little distance away from his ear. The person on the other end spoke something loudly, and all the blood from his face visibly drained. I began to feel concerned for the old man’s well being. At this rate all his hair would turn all white!
“Yes, she’s here.” He answered into the phone, and the voice on the other line spoke one sentence, calmly. However, it had the opposite effect on him, and he went completely still. I couldn’t help myself.
Was he talking about me? Did Reece call? “Are you okay, sir?” I asked him, leaning closer and he remembered that I was standing there. His frantic look remained as he spoke, “Alpha Reece is on his way.”
“So?” I couldn’t help it. Why was he so terrified? Wait! Alpha Reece? So he was a werewolf! But-
The ping of the elevator was followed by the super fast movement of my mate. One minute the doors opened and the next he was next to me. I yelped in surprise, still not used to these werewolf tricks.
“Why is she here? And why is she soaking wet?!” He roared at the poor man shaking behind the counter and I finally understood why.
“Reece! I chose to step out on my own! Roran had nothing to do with this!” I spoke quickly, before the old man vibrated to death. Roran gave me a grateful smile, but it was gone as quickly as it came. Reece turned on me. “And why, Flora, are you all wet?”
“I slipped into the pool.”
“I just slipped into the pool Reece, it’s not a big deal.” Some of my heat was coming back to me, hand in hand with a flare of irritation. “Roran got me this coat and was about to hand me a key card so I could come back to the room.” I added, for extra measure. From the corner of my eye, I could see Roran relax a tiny bit.
“You forgot your key card?” Reece’s voice was laced with disbelief. “No, I think I dropped it in the pool.” I told him, my annoyance barely contained. He was treating me like I was a child! Reece gave Roran a once over before finally sighing. He gave a curt nod to him, a gesture that very evidently shocked Roran to the core before taking my hand, the key card placed on the counter and heading to the elevator.
Despite my anger, the heat from his hand was making me melt into him. I went with him without a fight, craving for that temperature change. Reece was calm enough to notice this and immediately engulfed me into a hug, making sure to rub my hands and shoulders to warm me up. I gave a quick look to the receptionist to see him looking pointedly away from us and my irritation flared once again.
Once we stepped into the lift, I couldn’t help it. “Why do you talk to your staff like that! That was completely unnecessary!” I pushed him away from me to look at him with narrow eyes. Reece rolled his. “Not where you’re concerned.” His tone was obvious and blunt.
“Well I’m fine!” I told him, crossing my hands and huffing in annoyance. The doors opened and we stepped into the apartment. Xena was still fast asleep and I soundlessly made my way to the room, fuming like a dark cloud.
“Is that how you rule? Terrify people?” I asked him, spinning on my heel just as he shut the door. Reece let out a strangled noise before taking a deep breath. “Flora, werewolves don’t reason near their mates. Especially, if she said she was going to pee and then disappeared for an hour!” He was trying to keep his voice level, but I completely forgot my anger.
“It’s 4:00?” I could hardly believe it. Did I really take that long? Whoaa..
“It’s 4:27.” He said, losing his momentum to answer my questions.
“So where were you?!” He demanded, and I tried to not let his tone bother me.
“I didn’t realize that I spent so long at the pool.” I told him, surprised at myself. Whoa.
Speaking of the pool, something else was bothering me. “Hey, is this pool heated?” I blurted out suddenly and Reece gave me a funny look as if to say, ‘You want to talk about this right now?’ But he answered me nonetheless.
“Yes. It’s supposed to be, but only during pool hours.” Pool hours? It definitely wasn’t pool hours. But then wait-
“But it wasn’t heated the other day..” I tried to keep my voice casual, and failed terribly. A smug smile lit up Reece’s face as I mentioned it but he didn’t worsen my embarrassment.
“Yeah? I didn’t notice.” Because you were busy ogling me. I tried to keep a steady face as he said that, but his wide, crooked grin was working like a charm at disarming me. Reece stepped closer. Uh oh. This high a libido would just not do.
“Reece, I’m serious. Who would know if they were working?” I insisted, wary of his approach. He grinned wider, stalking me like a predator. I gulped, trying to assert myself. I really needed to find out if I had imagined that! And where the hell did all that time go?!
He groaned in annoyance. “Sienna will know about it. This is her hotel anyway. ” He finally gave in and I nodded satisfied. I’d ask her tomorrow. “Why?”
“I don’t know yet. Something weird happened at the pool.”
Suddenly, I had his full attention. He whisked closer to me, checking me instantly all over. In all our discussion I completely forgot that I was soaking wet. How did he find me attractive when I looked like a drowned cat? Reece was too fast for me, he was already taking off the second coat to have a look if I hurt myself. I knew that I had not.
I stepped out of his prying hands and pulled the wet coat back on. The flimsy night clothes below were stuck to my body like a second skin and I didn’t want to be caught in yet another compromising situation.“Take it off, its all wet.” His words constructed themselves in a dirty way and I felt my cheeks redden without my control.
“Having dirty thoughts, are we?” He prodded, watching me with a smug expression that churned my insides. I swallowed, avoiding his mischievous eyes. This man was up to no good! He stepped even closer, making me stumble behind in obvious nervousness. I bet he enjoyed the effect he had on me! But then he took another look at me and shook his head with a smile. He changed course and instead of stepping closer, he walked away to retrieve a thick woolen towel and handed it to me.
“You’ll catch a cold.”
Ten minutes later, in a warm shirt (Reece’s) and full track pants (mine) I was looking ridiculous but feeling fantastic. Reece was already in bed, waiting for me to get in. I had a feeling that he wouldn’t fall asleep without making sure that I was there this time. I walked out of the washroom and lazily crawled into bed.
The second I hit the pillow, my muscles turned to jelly and I let out a groan. Next to me, the sexy man raised an eyebrow and I shrugged. It felt as if I’d done a solid workout after years and everything was sore. “What’s wrong?” He’d shifted closer to me now and I just shook my head. “I’m just tired.”
“So what was the deal with the pool heater?” He prodded. He must have been waiting to ask me this question. I was too sleepy, so I kept it short.
“I don’t know. The water just suddenly got warm.” I yawned a huge yawn. When did I get so tired?
“Yeah, I put my hand inside, and the water was just really warm, almost hot. And then when I fell inside it was all cold again.” Another yawn. “I think your pool heater was malfunctioning.” I added sleepily.
Next to me, Reece stiffened. Then he was looming over me, concern marring his green eyes. “Flora? Are you okay?” He asked me staring straight into my eyes. I resisted the urge to shut them. Why did he look so scared?
“Just..sleepy.” It was getting really hard to keep my eyes open.
“Did you want the pool to be warm?!” What an odd question.
“Flora, did you want the pool to be warm? Were you thinking about that?!”
“Hot..springs..” I mumbled, somewhat annoyed that he was being so loud when I was sleepy.