“Well?” I demanded, growing impatient with her lack of response.
I loved her, I would always love her, but she was as stubborn as they came.
Worse than that, she was projecting her anger on to me, even though I didn’t deserve it.
I understood why... there was no one left for her to be angry at. She had all this pent up rage and hatred, things she had suppressed for years, and now when she was finally ready to begin the healing process, there was no one left for her to confront.
Her demons needed to be sated, and I was the only connection to the past she had left.
Which is why I was showing her more patience than I perhaps should do. But I wouldn’t accept her pushing me away.
“Grace... I know you have demons, and I know that the past still eats away at you. But your baggage is my baggage. Why can’t we deal with these things together? I feel like you’ve tried to compartmentalize everything in your head, and you’ve come to the decision that you either deal with your problems or you be with me. That’s not how this works. We can heal together, we can grow together. Let me help you through this.”
“No, let me finish. Please try and see things from my side as well. I have lost my father today. No, worse than that, I murdered my father today. I’m looking back at my past and I’m realising that everything I thought I knew was a lie. I’m not trying to make this a competition, I know you’ve had it so much worse. But can’t you see that you’re not the only one who has been hurt by all this?”
“I know,” she whispered back to me, finally making direct eye contact with me. I rushed forward and knelt between her legs, taking her hands in mine.
"What is it, Grace? what's holding you back from beginning the rest of your life?"
"I don't want to return to that pack. I'm not ready." She looked so miserable and utterly defeated, it made my heart bleed for her.
"That's completely understandable, baby, no one would expect you to get over everything that happened there. I've ordered the Omegas to refurbish everything. The entire packhouse, and the Beta house, will be new, rebuilt. Hell, we'll move the entire pack somewhere else if that's what it takes. Start completely afresh."
She offered me a small smile. One that quickly fell from her lips. "It's a nice idea... in theory."
"Then I'll stay here."
"But... the pack...."
"Screw the pack. Do you love me, Grace? Do you want to be with me?"
"Duke--" I cut her off with a quick kiss to her lips and lifted her chin up gently so that we were staring into each others eyes.
"I'm only looking for an answer, not a commitment. Do you want us to be together? Do you love me?"
I rested my forehead against hers, closing my eyes as I breathed in her delicious scent. "Then nothing else matters. We'll take it one day at a time. We won't plan too far in the future, we'll see what a new dawn brings."
“Duke, I need to tell you something. And I've got a feeling that it could be a deal-breaker for you… I don’t want to be a mother. Not now, not ever.”
Of all the things she could have said, that was not what I was expecting. I pulled back slightly, staring at her in stunned response.
“But… I don’t understand. How can you not want pups? Every female wants pups!”
She laughed, “no, no they do not. Most females do, for sure. But not me. I don’t want to raise children in this world. There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m not missing some vital part that makes me a woman. I just don’t want pups. I won’t change my mind when I’m older when that fabled biological clock ticks.”
“Grace... I’m an Alpha. I have to have pups…”
“Do you? Because they raised Khaos to be the next heir to Drake, and he was not a blood relation. There are thousands of children out there who are crying out for a loving home. I’d much sooner save one of those than bring another child into this world.”
“You want to adopt?”
“No. Not particularly. But I would be very interested in setting up a home that welcomes these children. A rescue centre.”
A small smile played on her lips as the idea that had been lingering in finally got set out loud. It was almost as if speaking the words validated it, and the thought set a fire, overwhelming her with how much she wanted it.
There was a sparkle in her eyes that I hadn't seen in years, one that could not be contained.
“Our pack could achieve greatness. A care home for all the pups that have lost their parents, or been abandoned, thrown out, abused. We could help them. We can open our doors and offer them shelter.”
“It’s a wonderful idea, but a pack needs an Alpha, and I can’t be around forever.”
“Does a pack really need an Alpha? I know what the stories say, Duke. Without an Alpha, we’ll become rogue. I don’t believe that. I think without a pack, our wolves become lost. But an Alpha? Let’s look at the Alphas we know personally. Stephen. Do you think his leadership was good? That his influence was the right thing? Look at Drake. We’ve all heard the stories. He raped and murdered the she-wolves of his pack. Would those wolves have been any worse off if he wasn’t around? Absolutely not! We can start a new way of life! Where everyone is treated equally. Where everyone has a say! You don’t need an Alpha when you have a family that has your back until the day you die!”
"Grace--" I began, but she interrupted me, throwing herself onto her knees in front of me.
"Don't answer me. Not yet. A wise man once said to me, "let's take it one day at a time, and see what a new dawn brings", let's do that," she smiled at me. "I love you, Duke, and we have the rest of our lives together. Let's not rush into anything. But..."
"But...?" I said on a sigh. What else could there be?
"I won't mate with you. Not yet. I want you to be able to leave if you realise that you can't be with me this way. If you picture children of your own in your future, then you deserve the chance to walk away. I won't stop you."
I laughed in relief. She was thinking of me. There wasn't another barrier in our way. She wanted me to have an out. She was putting all her feelings aside and doing what she thought was best for me.
"Grace... I don't need time. I want you, and only you. I'll take whatever I can get, pups or no pups."
A familiar look came over her face, one that I had lost all hope of ever seeing again. She grinned at me as her hands went to my chest, unbuttoning my shirt down to my waist and sliding her hands across my ribs.
I placed my hands on top of hers and closed my eyes as she lowered them down to the buttons on my jeans.
"Grace... Grace I'm really sorry to interrupt. But I need to speak to you urgently."
Were all the Alpha's I knew destined to be cock blockers?