The morning after the mating...
I woke at the first sign of daylight. It’d been freezing cold down by the falls last night. I had a stiff neck and a sore back through lying on top of a wafer-thin camping mat. Axel and I had snuggled inside a doubled up sleeping bag. Axel's chest was great as a heat source to cuddle up to, like a life-size hot water bottle—but jeez, it meant I’d slept awkwardly. I’d never spent the night in a tent before, and given the choice, I wouldn’t repeat the experience again.
I’d been converted to hot sex in the woods, but after that it’d be straight back home to a nice warm cabin, followed by a hot shower.
Although I must admit, last night was incredible. Axel and I were joined now. It really felt as if it completed me and there was no way I could ever contemplate spending a single day apart from him after this.
We both woke together as soon as the sun came up, cuddled together with my fingers entwined with his. He was stroking the back of my hand softly with his thumb. My heart melted feeling his lips press against my forehead as soon as I woke. It didn’t matter that I’d only known him a short time. I had fallen madly in love with him and I was deliriously happy.
I caught him watching me like a creep.
“Morning,” he asked, his voice sleep roughened.
"Good morning," I replied.
Axel’s blue eyes were already fixed upon me with an intense look of someone who was head over heels in love. It made me paranoid as to how long he had been watching me.
“How are you feeling, Mrs. Thorne?” he asked as if testing how it sounded out loud.
Mrs. Thorne!!! I squealed internally.
My heart fluttered hearing him call me that.
"Great, thank you for asking."
I chuckled softly as he played with my hand. He rolled each one of my fingers between his forefinger and thumb until he reached my wedding finger.
“Do you want a wedding ring?” He asked, wiggling my finger.
I knew Axel wasn’t a wealthy man and that didn’t bother me. I didn’t need a piece of jewelry as a symbol of our union. The mark on my neck was proof enough. That meant more to me than gold or silver ever would.
“I don’t need a ring,” I told him honestly.
I also didn’t want him wasting his money on one. I knew he couldn’t really afford to, but there was no way I’d ever tell him that. He’d get offended for sure, not to mention, it would be incredibly insensitive.
“I already know what you’re thinking. How’s a broke guy like me gonna find the cash to buy you a wedding ring?” His response was so blunt it caught me off guard. It left me paranoid that perhaps he could read my mind.
I opened my mouth to reassure him that it didn’t matter but he cut across me before I had a chance to speak.
“The answer to your question is, I robbed a jewelry store,” he replied, straight-faced.
“What?” My eyes bulged with shock.
Axel burst out laughing. “I’m kidding!” He hid his face with his hand as his stomach spasmed between gasps of snatched breath.
He got me good. For a second, I’d fallen for his prank. I’d have to remember to take whatever he said with a pinch of salt, just in case it was a wind-up.
“I’m sorry.” He grinned. “You should have seen your face.”
“And now I’m stuck with a giant clown for the rest of my life, aren’t I?” I retorted.
“Yep.” He pulled me into him for a cuddle. “Just wait until you meet the crazy bunch. Help me pack away the tent and I’ll take you to the madhouse.”
Every time Axel referred to his family as crazy, it made me really nervous to meet them. I’d developed these wild assumptions in my head about what they were going to be like. I bet they were nothing like he said. I was sure that if they could raise a guy as great as Axel, then they were bound to be nice people.
Once we’d packed away the tent, we went back to the cabin to grab a shower and freshen up. After a few mugs of much needed strong coffee, we jumped in his battered red truck and set off towards the main town of Bear Creek. Axel was taking me to meet his parents for the first time, and I was nervous as hell.
Axel pulled up outside a small cluster of cabins that were tucked away out of sight along a side road. They all looked similar in style: cute little log cabins with a window either side of the front door and three windows along the upper floor, all with pretty matching red gingham curtains.
Axel put his hand up to one of the neighbors who had waved at him from across the way. I noticed a few people peeking out from behind the curtains to get a sneaky look at us when we got out of the car. It seemed like a really nosey, but none the less, tight-knit community.
It looked as if they all sat outside along the front of their properties to gather socially. What gave that away was the ocean of deck chairs along each porch and the fact that they all had barbecues along the edge of each lawn. Axel's family home had a weather-worn double swing seat on the porch; the blue and white striped chair cushions looked as if they’d faded over time.
The small lawn at the front of the cabin had the odd scattering of bald patches in the grass. As if children played on it often. Scattered along the edge of the porch were potted floral arrangements and garden ornaments of little woodland creatures.
Across the floor decking, there was the odd scribbled picture where a child had been coloring in between the grooves of the wood with colored chalk. It looked as if someone had been coloring in the front of the house with chalk too. I guessed Axel’s parents were also grandparents. I didn’t recall him ever mentioning having any younger siblings, which meant he could possibly be the youngest.
Directly at the foot of the front door, there was a mat to wipe your feet on. It had a slogan that read: 'Oh no, not you...again!'
There was a sign next to the door that read: 'An old bear lives here with his honey,'
Axel put his arm around my waist as he opened the door and walked straight into the house. “Mom, it’s only me,” he called out.
A female replied in a sing-song voice, “We’re through here in the kitchen.”
I smiled as I read the family rules sign in the small entrance hall. It was a long rectangle canvas that had the words Mom’s Shit List printed on it, along with: don’t break shit, don’t fight over shit, clean up all your shit, don’t act like a shit, but mostly, don’t make me lose my shit. An amused grin spread across my face.
Axel caught me reading it, pressing his lips together in a shy, tight smile. Was Axel embarrassed to introduce me to his family? The thought struck me by his sudden change in demeanor. It seemed as if he was just as nervous about what I’d think of his parents as I was about what he’d think of mine.
“Go through to the family room, Riley, I’ll be right back,” he said.
He ushered me into a cozy-looking room that was filled with handcrafted furniture that looked almost antique.
It wasn’t untidy, shabby or anything like that. It was actually neatly presented and clean. It had a cottage-like feel to it and the scent of potpourri clung to the air. The matching three-seater chunky floral sofas looked so comfortable to sink into.
There were fresh wooden logs stacked ready to be lit in the fireplace, and the handcrafted oak display cabinets had plenty of framed photographs on them. They were arranged amongst ornaments along the shelves, all ranging from a selection of baby pictures all the way up to adulthood. The most recent group photo was of Axel standing next to three pretty women, similar in looks and were holding babies of their own. It was easy to spot Axel as a child amongst all of his family photos. His eyes were one of his best features that hadn’t really altered much over time.
There was a photo of him with an old woman with white hair. I’m pretty sure it was his grandmother. He was sitting beside her with a genuine, happy smile. Both of them were wearing knitted Christmas sweaters and paper hats that you get from inside a Christmas cracker. There was a decorated Christmas tree in the background with handmade ornaments. Axel looked younger, possibly around sixteen. This looked like a tender moment that had been immortalized in a photo. The way she looked at him adoringly as if he were the apple of her eye, was one of the sweetest things I’d ever seen. It was a beautiful photo and they both looked blissfully happy.
I let my fingers brush along the intricate silver frame. Every one of the photos radiated happiness and love. I couldn’t help the feeling of envy as I admired each one. We had nothing as natural as this in either of my family homes. Not at my dad's or my mom's. Our photos were organized professionally, and although they looked beautiful and flawless, there was something superficial about them, a coldness like each smile wasn’t genuine.
“Riley, come through.” Axel popped his head around the door whilst holding onto the handle.
His eyes darted to the picture I was touching. “She was my grandma, she died a couple of months after that was taken.”
My heart sank and I removed my hand from it quickly. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Axel,” I apologized. I hoped I hadn’t upset him by looking at it.
He managed a slight smile despite the brief look of sadness on his face. “Don’t be, she led a full and happy life. She passed away peacefully while sleeping.”
I hated seeing the grief in his eyes. I immediately tried to comfort him. “I can tell by the photo that she loved you a lot.”
“She was the nicest person I’d ever had the pleasure of meeting. I only wish she’d have lived long enough to meet you,” he replied, sadly. “Are you ready to meet my family?” Axel changed the subject, blinking away the excess water that had pooled in his eyes. I nodded quickly, despite not feeling very brave.
Ahh! This was it.
I blew out a forced breath as my heart just did an impression of a brass band in my chest. The first meeting with my in-laws.
God, please like me, oh I hope they like me.
I crossed my fingers behind my back.
Axle must have sensed my nerves, stopping to kiss me in the hall and whispering "Don’t worry." in my ear.
Nothing had ever mattered to me this much before. Hell, I didn’t even care if my real parents liked me, but it was really important to me that Axel’s parents did.
I walked behind him as he led me into the kitchen. I felt as if I was being put on show as all eyes landed on me, and I swear for a good few seconds I forgot how to breathe. His mom, a cheerful-looking woman, whose age I couldn't determine, was sitting at a long rustic wooden table. Her blonde curly hair fell past her broad shoulders. She had bright blue eyes just like Axel, but despite her kind smile, she was sitting at that table watching me with like a hawk.
He was not only her only son, but he was also the youngest out of all her children. It suddenly dawned on me that I was a little fish swimming in unchartered waters amongst sharks, and I knew for a fact that I was the first female that he’d ever brought home before. I could tell that this was a pretty big deal.
His dad, a well-built guy with greying hair and blue eyes, looked up from reading the sports pages of the paper and shot Axel a wink. It looked like some sort of guy-code the way I saw Axel's face flush red. His blush spread all the way across his face and reached his ears. He tucked his fingers in his pockets and hunched his shoulders. I could imagine the wink put into words: 'Congratulations, son, on losing your virginity.'
It was hard to miss the three similar-looking women sitting around the table eyeing me like vultures They all had the same blonde hair but cut into different styles. All three had the same vivid blue eyes. From what I could make out from the family photos, they were Axel's older sisters. I don’t know why, but the way each set of female eyes pierced into me made me feel intimidated and pinned to the spot.
I could tell he was the baby, alright.
Axel shifted his weight from one foot to the other, nervously. “Everybody, this is my mate, Riley.” He glared at his sisters, sending them a silent warning with his eyes. “She’s very important to me, so I want you to be nice to her.”
I sensed the 'or else' tone in his voice.
Axel glanced at me and flashed a sweet smile. He removed his hands from his pockets and pulled me into his side, wrapping an arm around me tightly.
“Riley, this is my mom, Liz, and she’s a doctor. This is my dad, Brian, and he’s our local sheriff, both here in Bear Creek and in Hawcroft.” He nodded over towards the three women who hadn’t taken their eyes off me once. “These are my sisters, Melissa, Jackie, and Stacey.”
I smiled my best-forced smile, to the point where my cheeks were aching. There were an awkward few moments as we all mumbled hello. I watched Axel's mom’s eyes searching my neck for his mating mark. As soon as her eyes landed on it, I saw them widen.
Shit! His mom now knows we’ve had sex.
“She's really pretty, isn’t she, Brian? You two will need to sign the newly mates register.” She nudged her husband. “Won’t they, Brian.”
"Brian!" She yelled.
His dad jumped whilst reading the paper. “Huh? What?”
They both started squabbling over him being rude, reading the paper while they had a guest and how he wasn’t paying attention. He folded up his paper like a scolded dog and apologized.
“Sorry, I only wanted to read about Beast’s retirement from cage fighting.” He glanced up at Axel. His face filled with awe as he spoke about his sports hero. “Did you know he’s never been defeated, not once.” Brian shook his head in amazement. “What a record, and a local guy too.”
Axel huffed as if he was unimpressed. “Dad, I’ve met him, remember? We fought alongside each other in Stonevale. He saved my ass, I saved his, big deal.” He gave an indifferent shrug.
I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about. They all started talking about some fight over land and a girl called Leah. That the whole of Forest Lake’s water supply had been poisoned and only recently became safe enough to drink from again. It all sounded rather scary, and to be honest, I’m glad to hear that it’s all over. Brian told him each community was apparently busy repairing the damage that was caused. Axel told his mom that he’d been sent to check there were no hunters left lurking around the edge of Hawcroft, and that’s when I’d almost run him over on the road.
His sisters all erupted in fits of laughter at how we met.
“He sabotaged my car and carried me off to his cabin whilst I was sleeping. I woke up to find him spooning with me, completely naked,” I told them.
They all responded with a wide-eyed, “No way!” To which Axel fidgeted uncomfortably on the spot.
Axel and I took a seat around the table while they all chatted, laughing and joking and throwing the occasional sarcastic remark at each other. I could see that he got his sarcastic streak from his mom. They all gave as good as they got, and when they laughed, they were loud and proud. The awkward feeling I had at first ebbed away and I found myself joining in on the conversation. I hadn't laughed so hard in years and it felt really good to be included.
His mom laughed with tears streaming down her face. “Honey, him running around butt naked is nothing new. He’s always been one for stripping off. My little naturist.” She pinched his cheek. “He used to strip off all the time and run off down the street with it all hanging out, just flapping in the wind there.” She accentuated her words with hand gestures.
Axel groaned and dragged a hand down his face. “Mom, I was three!”
Liz leaned forward as she carried on telling me stories. “It’s a wonder it works at all after he got it stuck in the vacuum cleaner after his fourteenth birthday. One minute I’m telling him to clean his room, the next he’s screaming like a little baby girl. Yep, cock and balls, all the way in the tube. We tried switching to blow-out but that just caused you more problems, didn’t it, honey? I had to take him to the emergency room in Hawcroft. He begged me not to take him to the surgery here. No. Didn’t wanna risk his school pals seeing him with half the vacuum hose attached to him. That’s why we nicknamed him tripod.” There were howls of laughter around the table.
Axel pinched the bridge of his nose with another groan. At that point, I was in such a state that I’d almost peed my pants, unable to stop myself from laughing in order to breathe. Even Axel found it funny. Each time our eyes locked we’d burst out laughing again.
As he was busy getting roasted, my eyes wandered around the well used yet clean kitchen. It was a room that I imagined them all congregating in rather than using the sitting room like this was the heart of the house. Along the walls, there were quite a few canvas prints with witty slogans printed on them. It gave me an insight into Lizzie's down-to-earth personality. They read: 'Tonight’s menu consists of two options, take it or leave it' and the other said 'One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor'.
There was another one above the stove that read: 'Open the oven, take a look, the first to complain is tomorrow’s cook'.
My eyes kept darting around the room as each quirky canvas caught my eye. The control it took for me not to laugh was taking up all of my concentration. There was one that almost had me in stitches. It read: 'It’s all shits & giggles until someone giggles & shits'.
Even the coffee mugs his parents were drinking from had funny quotes printed on them. His dad's mug had one that said: 'I’m not lazy, I’m just in energy-saving mode'. While his mom's mug was the best. Hers read: 'I don’t have a bucket list but my fuck-it list is a mile long'.
I honestly don’t know why Axel was so worried. All parents like to embarrass their offspring but his family was amazing and I really loved his mom.
Liz loaded the table with food. Homemade beef casserole with mashed potatoes and crusty bread rolls. I copied them all as they ate, dipping their buttered bread in the gravy and devouring it. I licked my fingers, enjoying the freedom to eat however I pleased without having to put on airs and graces. It was good wholesome food that filled my stomach. Nothing like the a la carte rations that my chef usually served.
Liz got up from the table and came back with a bottle of champagne and seven mismatched glasses. “Here, we were saving this for a special occasion, which is what this is. It’s nothing fancy, I won it at the hospital raffle last year.”
She popped the cork and filled each glass with the sweet-smelling pink fizzy liquid. I picked up my glass at the same time as everyone else. Liz made a teary-eyed toast. “To Axel and Riley, may your lives be filled with as much happiness as mine and Brian's have been, and may my son's loins be fertile enough to spawn me plenty of grandcubs.”
Axel spat his mouthful out with shock. “Mom!”
He shot me an apologetic look. “She gets like this, don’t take any notice,” he groaned with embarrassment and I placed my hand onto his knee and gave it a squeeze.
“It’s fine.” I rolled my eyes as if he was being ridiculous. “Relax will you.”
He mumbled something about first impressions and that it was his turn next to meet my parents. The thought filled my mind with dread. My parents weren’t as fun, easy-going, or as welcoming as Axel's parents were. I might as well throw him into a pit full of hungry lions and watch them tear him limb from limb. It’d be less painful.
When and if that time came, I’d hope my parents were as warm and welcoming as Liz and Brian because if they weren’t I’d already made the decision that they’d never hear from me again. They could shove their inheritance up their egotistical, overprivileged asses.
We finished up and said our goodbyes. Axel's sisters all started to leave too, saying they had to get back to their mates and cubs, and that the next time we all got together the following week that I’d get to meet them too.
Apparently, they didn’t want to bombard me the first time they met me, which was sweet but I wouldn’t have minded. They also gave me a bag full of clothes and a couple of pairs of shoes to wear. It didn’t matter that they were a size too big, I was really grateful. Brian kissed my cheek and Liz pulled me in for a strong bear hug—excuse the pun.
I noticed a few more curtain twitchers in the windows as we climbed back into Axel's battered red truck. His mom asked him to hang back for a minute while she talked to him. I saw her stuff something into the palm of his hand and closed his fingers around it. I glanced away out of respect for their privacy as they hugged each other, tearfully. It was none of my business to ask, but I wondered what they were talking about. I didn’t mention anything as he got into the truck with reddened eyes.
“Where are we going now?” I asked as he started the engine.
Axel cleared his throat. “Townhall,” he replied. His voice was thick as if he’d been crying. However, he didn’t appear sad.
“How come?” I asked, scrunching my brows as curiosity got the better of me.
“We gotta sign the register and get our mating license,” he reminded me.
I knew that we had to sign something, but I wasn’t aware it was that official.
“Huh? You need a license for that?” I asked.
Axel chuckled as he drove. “Yeah, like a license to thrill.” He wiggled his brows.
I shook my head in amusement, muttering, “Such a dork.”
Axel started to explain, “It's the equivalent to a human marriage license, actually. It means the Council Of Elders have more of an idea about the number of residents we have in town. You have to register births the same way as humans do too. We are the only shifter community who does that. The cats don’t bother because their numbers are too few, and the wolves are able to form a pack link so they don’t have any need for a register.”
“Oh okay, that makes perfect sense,” I replied, having thought about it.
“If I just pull up out front, we can run in and sign the registrar before they close,” he mumbled, determined to park up along the busy road.
We stopped outside an old black and white painted building in the center of town. It did look as if they were getting ready to close for the day so we hurried out of the truck.
“Quick.” Axel grabbed my hand as we half ran along the pathway and up to the black double doors.
It all looked official inside, like a courthouse. It reminded me of an old library and smelled of musty old books.
The craftsmanship that had gone into the construction of the building was extraordinary. I mean the architecture was like nothing I’d ever seen before. The way the wooden beams along the walls and ceilings were carved and sculpted into patterns, looked like it would've taken years to craft.
The furniture was made from honey oak. Each piece had been carved and crafted by hand. Whoever made it must have been a highly skilled carpenter. One thing I knew for sure was that these bears had a keen eye for style. I knew of a few billionaires who would pay a fortune for a single piece of this stuff.
I could make out the long table at the far end of the room where I guessed all the elders must sit. It made me realize that I knew nothing much about Axel's world. Presuming that I’d be living here for the rest of my life, I made a mental note to ask him to fill me in with his customs.
We approached a wooden desk that was littered with paperwork. There was a flustered woman sifting through it all, muttering about nobody knowing how to file properly. I’d hazard a guess she was around thirty. She was dressed respectably in a stylish black and grey pinstripe trouser suit and her brown hair was pulled back into a tight French plait.
“Excuse me,” Axel announced our presence. She glanced up and smiled professionally. “Hi, are you both here to register?”
“Yes, please,” Axel replied.
He cast me a side glance as he bounced on the balls of his feet while she went off to fetch something.
She cleared away a stack of paperwork to make room on the desk, then dropped a huge heavy leather-clad book onto it. The thing was enormous and she struggled to carry it.
“Here, let me just find the right page,” she mumbled while flicking through the musty parchment.
“Here we go.” She handed Axel a quill.
A fucking quill. A bird's tail feather that had been dipped in a pot of black ink.
“Sign here, sir.” She tapped her fingernail on the area where he had to sign his name on the page.
The form looked just as official as any legal document. Axel signed and printed his name along the line, neatly. Her gaze flashed to me.
“And could you please print your full name here and then in that section there, print your mated name.” She tapped both places where I had to sign.
Axle handed me the ancient writing tool and I hovered it over the dotted line.
I remembered Axel calling me Mrs. Thorne this morning, so that meant that I would be known by his surname. “OK, my signature won’t look very good, I’m afraid, I’ve spent years perfecting my old one,” I joked. It was hard to change your signature at the drop of a hat. I let the pen glide across the thick paper as I signed my new name as neatly as I could.
Axel's chest swelled as he spoke with pride, “I think Riley Thorne sounds pretty awesome to me.”
As I signed my new surname I got a weird feeling inside. Not a bad one, the complete opposite. It felt like the start of something new, like a clean slate. I wasn’t Riley Griffiths anymore. I was leaving all that behind me. I always envisioned myself keeping my maiden name and opting to have a double-barrel surname.
Yet here I was, standing here in an old pair of cut-off jean shorts, old boots, and a man's oversized shirt. Nothing like the designer clothes I was used to wearing.
I didn’t have a scrap of make-up on and my hair was scraped back off my face in a loose knot. I didn’t have my money, or my car, or any of my luxuries with me, but I’d never felt as happy as I did right now, signing my new name as the start of my new life.
Would it really be so bad if I never returned home again? Couldn’t I just disappear and live a normal happy life with Axel? Have kids and raise them all in Bear Creek.
The registrar handed us a copy of the license and Axel took it, placing it inside his jacket pocket for safekeeping. “Can we go home now?” I asked, pleading with my eyes.
“You don’t know how good it is to hear you say that.” Axel put his arm around me while we walked side-by-side back to the truck. “I’m so happy that you decided to stay with me. So much for me only getting a month, huh?”
“I love you, and I love where we live, despite it being in the woods,” I told him, honestly.
He swung me around, causing me to squeal with shock, lifting me off my feet as his lips met mine and devouring my lips mercilessly. He poured all his feelings into it and so did I. We panted breathlessly as we broke apart, our lips were still swollen from the kiss.
I rather enjoyed the peaceful drive back to the cabin. Neither of us spoke much but it wasn’t awkward. We didn’t really need to maintain a constant conversation in order to feel comfortable. This was nice. It was effortless. Just like breathing air.
“Home sweet home,” Axel announced, as we pulled up outside the cabin.
“I’m gonna need a massage after sleeping rough in that tent,” I gave a subtle hint drop as I got out of the truck, faking a backache and praying he took the bait.
Axel whose sexual confidence was growing by the day, came back at me with a typical male response. “If you want a back rub, I want a front rub, fair's fair, babe,” he finished, with a suggestive wink.
“Okay, Tripod, lead the way.” I gestured for him to go first.
The moment I called him by his nickname he sucked in air through puckered lips, narrowing his eyes at me as if I was asking for trouble.
“Just wait until I meet your mom, I bet I’ll learn a thing or two about you.” He sauntered off into the kitchen, mumbling something about revenge being sweet.
I went around the cabin closing all the curtains while Axel boiled some water to make us a hot drink. He came back to the sitting room with an armful of chopped wood to build a fire in the fireplace. I left him to it, hurrying up the stairs so that I could get changed into one of Axel's oversized t-shirts. I then put away all the hand-me-down clothes that I’d been given.
I felt fully contented, humming a tune as I hung the garments up in the wardrobe. I heard the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs and turned to find Axel rubbing his neck nervously in the doorway.
I giggled. “What’s wrong with you acting all weird. If you’re waiting for your front rub I’ll be done in a minute.”
Axel waved a hand out in front of him “No, you’ll see, close your eyes.” There was a determination in his face as if he wanted me to play along. Either he had some sort of surprise planned or he was about to pull a prank on me. It was one or the other.
There was a smile still lingering on my lips as I waited in anticipation for what he was likely to do next.
Axel took hold of my left hand and I felt him slide something solid onto my third finger, then brought my hand up to his lips and kissed it.
“You can open them now.” His voice slightly trembled with excitement as he held my hand in his.
My eyes fluttered open and landed on the gold diamond cut wedding band on my finger. I slapped my other hand over my mouth as I gasped with shock, tears of happiness clouding my vision.
“Oh Axel, it’s beautiful,” I breathed.
The corners of his eyes creased as he smiled back, lovingly. “It was my grandmother’s. She left it for me to give to my mate, so now it’s yours.”
Words failed me as my mouth flopped open and closed. This was more than sentimental. This was given to him by the most influential woman in his life besides his own mother. She meant the world to him, and by wearing this, I’d be honoring her memory.
“I love it,” I found my voice again before throwing my arms around his neck and drawing him close.
“What’s that sound?” Axel’s forehead creased with confusion as he strained to listen.
The pulsating sound of blades chopping through the air got louder and louder, our eyes widening as the sound became more and more distinguishable.
“Uh-oh.” My voice trembled. The color drained from Axel's face as we both recognized the sound.
It was a helicopter hovering over the property. It was only when a strong beam of white-light shone in through the closed curtains did we realize the severity of the situation.
We crept over to the window, hesitantly moving the curtains aside so we could peep through just enough to see without being spotted. I let out a strangled cry at the sight of the armed police and news vans screeching to a stop outside.
The wind vortex that the helicopter blades were creating caused the treetops to bend and sway. I clung to Axel as we both flinched back from the windows with wide-eyed horror.
My heart was pounding in my chest like a jack-hammer.
“Shit!” I ran my tongue over my dry lips to moisten them, running a hand through my hair while I paced the floor trying to think on the spot. “I’ll go out and talk to them first, I mean, how bad can it be, right?”
You ever heard the phrase, famous last words? Yeah, well. Just as I spoke we heard one of the police officers speak through a megaphone.
“We know you're in there! Release the hostage and come out with your hands on your head!”