Healing the Wounds of Time

Chapter 13

Several days later Thea heard an unfamiliar vehicle pulling into her drive. Despite being a werewolf she had a moment of 'I'm a woman, living alone, with my nearest neighbor miles away, what if it's trouble?' before she laughed at herself. Chances were, if it was a stranger, they were looking for directions. And if it was a human intent on causing trouble, well they picked the wrong house for that. Still, she peeked out the window first and relaxed when she saw it was just Ethan. She didn't wonder how he knew where she lived, there was only one way he could know; Sage. She still wasn't sure what to do about his interest in her but she wouldn't be rude.

"Hello Ethan," she said when she opened the door before he could knock.

"Good afternoon, Thea. I'm sorry to show up unannounced but it's my understanding that while you were given ample firewood in case of a power outage, you might not have another means to cook your food if it's out for long."

Thea moved back and motioned him inside. "Come in, it's cold and there's no sense standing on the porch letting the heat out." Of course, given she was a werewolf, 'heat' was subjective as it was still cool inside. She blinked at his comment. "Well that's... true, I don't. This is what I get for moving to such a remote area without doing some research first."

Ethan stomped the snow off his boots before he stepped inside. "Don't sweat it, you should have seen me my first winter here. I grew up in Miami. I didn't really see snow, like in person, for the first time until I came here. I didn't even know how to walk on snow-covered sidewalks much less drive. It... wasn't pretty. I fell on my ass more times than I can count before I was told to get boots with better tread if I didn't want to keep bruising my ass."

Thea couldn't help it, she laughed at that. "That had to have been quite the eye opening experience," she said.

"It's worth a good laugh or two," he admitted with a little grin. "Oh, it was, but you live and learn, right? Anyway, I have a Coleman stove, complete with several bottles of propane, out in the truck for you."

"That's very sweet of you Ethan. Would you like a cup of coffee? You came all this way, it's the least I can do."

"I'd love a cup. Let me go get the stove and propane tanks then I can sit down and enjoy both the coffee and the company," he replied and went back out to get it.

Thea held the door for him when he returned then led him to the kitchen so he could put everything on the counter. She poured him a cup of fresh brewed coffee and let him fix it the way he wanted it.

"This is a really nice house you have here, Thea," Ethan said after a moment.

"Thank you." She sipped her own coffee. "I know it's a lot of space for one person but it's what I'm used to," she added.

Ethan watched her a moment. "I have to confess, I have another reason for coming over today. I wanted to give you the stove, sure, but I also... well, I was wondering if you'd like to go out some time."

She'd been afraid that was coming. She kept her voice gentle as she replied. "I'm very flattered, Ethan, really I am. But... honestly, I'm not ready to date again. It's only been a few months since my divorce. I do genuinely appreciate the offer, and you're very sweet worrying I might not be able to eat if the power goes out, but I'm just not ready to take that plunge again." She was glad she could be honest with him.

"No, hey, it's all good. I didn't realize you were recently divorced. Of course you're not ready. I hope I didn't make you feel awkward," he replied.

"No, you didn't make me feel awkward," Thea said. Of course he didn't know about the divorce, he barely knew her. That was how she knew his interest was more because she was an Omega and less because of her specifically.

"I'll get out of your hair," he said after he finished his coffee. "If you need anything you know the pack will provide it, right?"

"I do know that. It's nice to know there are people I can depend on," Thea replied. She walked him to the door and bid him goodbye.

Asil hadn't seen Thea since the funeral and he was growing concerned. He knew she was physically okay, the pack bond told him that, but he was concerned about her mental state. She'd been unusually quiet at Bran's after the funeral and now she was being reclusive. According to Cyrus she hadn't even gone to see him. Well, Asil decided he just needed to check on her.

As he neared her property he spotted a truck in her driveway and his eyes narrowed. Ethan Morgan was one of the unmated males who'd been sniffing after her but he'd had no idea that Thea knew him. What was he doing there and how long had he been there?

He watched as the front door opened and Ethan stepped out. Thea didn't hug him or kiss him goodbye, that was good, right? Asil growled at the thought that she might have kissed him before the door opened. He sat there in his car and waited until Ethan was gone. He had to calm down before he barged in on her and scared her. Of course, knowing his little Omega, she'd just zap him with her gifts to calm him down and put his wolf to sleep. When had he started thinking of Thea as his little Omega?

Thea heard the familiar purr of Asil's car and was at the door before he was. Had he been a few minutes earlier he would have run into Ethan leaving and wouldn't that have been interesting? She didn't know he was already aware of her visitor. "Good afternoon, Asil," she said when she met him at the door.

Asil's nostrils flared and he relaxed slightly because Thea didn't smell of Ethan. If she'd hugged him, or even kissed him, his scent would linger on her faintly for a time. "Mm, it is a nice afternoon, isn't it?" he replied and was rewarded with a soft laugh from her.

"That's not what I meant and you know it. Please, come in," she countered and moved so he could. "I want to thank you for the rosebush. It's beautiful." The blooms were a deep yellow trimmed in dark orange and added a splash of color to the brown, yellow, and gold living room.

"I hoped you would like it," he said and followed her to the kitchen. Ethan's scent lingered in this room but it was so faint Asil had no doubt the other wolf wasn't there long. He saw the Coleman stove and tipped his head at it.

"Ethan brought that by a little bit ago. He'd heard I didn't have something to cook on if the power went out and thought I could use it," Thea informed him.

"Ah, that was a nice gesture on his part," Asil said and mentally kicked himself for not thinking of it first. He also wondered just where he got the information from. The only other people who knew where Thea's house was were Sage and Bran and no way would Bran have told Ethan, he'd have taken care of that himself. He was going to have to have a little chat with Sage.

"Would you like a cup of cocoa, Asil? I was just getting ready to make some when Ethan showed up. I know, strange that I'd make cocoa when I had fresh coffee, but I'm really in the mood for warm, drinkable chocolate."

Asil smirked at the comment. He'd noticed the extra cup sitting on the drying mat and had wondered about it. So she'd offered Ethan something to drink but not her homemade cocoa? Most likely it was the coffee then. "I would be delighted to have a cup of cocoa with you," he replied.

Thea got the chocolate melting and the milk heating before she turned to him. "I offered Ethan a cup of coffee because he came all this way out of concern," she said and laughed softly at the look on his face. "With the way you kept staring at the cup you'd think it was something lascivious sitting on my counter," she teased.

Asil chuckled. "Am I really that transparent, little Omega?" At the 'lascivious' comment his eyes darkened a little. Oh, he could imagine a few lascivious things left lying around.

Every time he called her that her heart fluttered. Gods, why didn't he want her the way she wanted him? She had no idea that, for Asil, courting was less obvious. He was an old wolf, you didn't behave crass to gain a woman's attention, not like the younger wolves often did. "Only to me, I think," she replied. "I think you have everyone else, except maybe Sage and Bran, into thinking you're so mysterious," she added and after fixing their cocoa this time she added a hint of cinnamon to it.

"Perhaps you're right, but it's so very fun to keep them guessing," Asil countered. He took a sip of his cocoa and sighed. "Lovely. If you and Sage wanted to open a little cafe where she cooked and you offered your delicious cocoa I would be one of your biggest supporters and your most loyal customer," he said sincerely.

"If it ever happens I'll hold you to that," Thea replied.

Asil sipped his cocoa for a moment before he spoke again. "Are you alright, Thea? You've been a bit reclusive since the funeral, I want to be sure you are well."

Thea studied him and tried to figure out if there was a deeper meaning to his question or not. "I'm okay. I think I just needed a little time to myself. Have you missed me pestering you and annoying you with questions?" she said in jest.

"You could never annoy me little Omega. I look forward to your visits, and your questions."

Thea hadn't expected that. "You mean that." It was a statement, not a question. "Why do you look forward to my questions?" she asked, puzzled.

"Because, my dear, it's time spent with you," he purred.

Again his words were unexpected. Had she been so wrong about him?She needed to talk to Sage, to try to get some insight into him, because she'd been so sure his interest wasn't romantic, despite Sage saying she thought it was, and now she wasn't sure of anything at all. She felt her cheeks warm a little. "You are the most intriguing man I have ever met," she said softly.

I take that for the compliment it is," Asil replied. He finished his cocoa and moved to rinse his cup out. The more time he spent with her the harder he found it to keep his hands to himself. Looking at her through hooded eyes she looked so kissable, he wanted to take her in his arms and never let go. But he came from a era where you just didn't do those things unless there was a commitment in place. So he reigned in his urges before he turned his attention back to her completely. He approached her slowly and touched her cheek. "You are a treasure. I will let you get back to your solitude. Just don't stay away for long or you'll have your brother worrying as well. I'm sure when you talk to him again he'll tell you all about the chat he and I had about Sage."

Thea leaned into the touch. Yes, maybe she had indeed misunderstood his interest in her. At the mention of Cyrus she arched a brow. "You didn't tell him to stay away from her, did you?"

"Certainly not. I gave him a warning to tread carefully with her. Dominant she may be, but it has taken her a very long time to heal from being brutalized by her old pack, I won't see it undone by an overzealous male."

Thea laughed at that. "You've made yourself her protector as well, I see. I'm glad you told him about that though. He needed to know and I like seeing Sage happy." It was snowing again and she wrinkled her nose. "You should go before it gets bad."

Part of him, part hell, most of him, wanted to stay right there. Leaving was the furthest thing from his mind and yet he knew he had to go. "I suppose you're right, little Omega." Again he touched her cheek. "You should come to the hothouse tomorrow, I'm repotting some new bushes." For him it was a roundabout way of asking her on a date.

"I'll do that," Thea replied. When they got to the door she leaned up and kissed his cheek. This time she felt the tension in him and heard the almost imperceptible sigh of pleasure that escaped him. "Goodnight Asil," she said softly.

"Goodnight Thea," he replied and had to once again force himself to leave.

Thea watched him go. She'd been so sure he wasn't romantically interested in her. She was so used to obvious, overt actions, but it seemed she owed Sage an apology for thinking her friend was wrong. Of course, knowing he was interested and figuring out how to get him to act on that interest were two very different things.

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