20. Cold But Beautiful
“Where are you going?” Phoenix asked, her sharp blues scrutinising me as I tossed my rucksack over my shoulders. I stared at her, trying to give her the eyes to back the hell up. Instead, she stayed in her position with arms folded, her gloss coated lips stiff while scowling. This time around, she was dressed more casually but her hair was curled to perfection.
Not dwelling on her perfection, I sighed, searching my thoughts for a viable excuse. “I’m going for a hike,”
“We’re wolves, we don’t hike, we run,” She muttered, unfolding her arms while stepping forward. Warily, I retreated.
“Back off, Phee, I hiked a lot when I was away,”
“Yeah, but we have hunters on our tail. You’re not going out there,” She tilted her chin up with a brow raised. “I’ll tell daddy if you go,”
Immediately, I loosened my grip on the rucksack and it crashed to the ground. The one person I really didn’t want to mess with is my dad. Funny enough since Hunter is the Alpha. My brother was… well, he was my brother. My dad, on the other hand, could be a huge softy but when ticked off, he was one wolf I wouldn’t want to mess with. I glared at my sister.
Phoenix was the annoying little sister everyone would wish for. But in my case, she’s been a pain in the ass. If Hunter wasn’t going to consider my proposal, then I’d do it myself. I wouldn’t get too close but just watch them from afar.
Narrowing my eyes, I tilted my head to the side. “How do you know?”
Her eyes widened a fraction and the corner of her lips tightened, refusing to confess her knowledge. “How do you know about the hunters?”
"I was in the meeting,” I crossed my arms expectantly. Now, it was my turn to be the nosy elder sister. “Spill or your gonna explain everything to Hunter,”
She let out a frustrated breath. “Can we drop this?”
“Alright!” She held up her hands in surrender. “There’s a baby monitor hidden in the office,”
Scrunching my nose in confusion, I gave her a ‘what the hell’ look. Did I even want to know? It wasn’t so hard to guess as Hailey was the only pregnant she-wolf in this house.
“I won’t tell dad about this if you keep your mouth shut,”
“Tell me what?”
Speak of the devil…
Jackson sauntered into the kitchen and glanced between us curiously. When we didn’t say anything, he crossed his arms and his face hardened. “Girls?” He chanted.
“Phoenix has a boyfriend!” At this, blue eyes drilled holes through me. One pair was out of surprised while the other was a deadly glare. Phoenix threw daggers at me.
“Oh...” Jackson frowned, displeased. “Why am I finding out about this now?”
“Because there’s nothing going on between us,” her voice rose on emphasis, snarling at me. “I’m waiting for my mate,”
She’d said this plenty of times but I wasn’t a fool. She had plenty of boyfriends, none of them serious. In her words, she was ‘courting’ them, testing the waters per say. Dad doesn’t know any one of them, knowing her, as he’d blow the house down if he did. No pun intended.
Despite their differences in appearance, Phoenix was just like our mother. They had the same fashion taste as well as the same concepts of being the perfect “she-wolf”. Obviously, I didn’t fall into the status quo.
She walked off without another word and dad stepped forward with a knowing look.
“I heard of your idea about the hunters,” He said, cradling my face in his hands. “It’s a good one but we have to consider all possibilities,”
“They didn’t even try to consider my proposal,” At my growl, he raised a brow in warning. I huffed in frustration, reigning in my wolf.
“I know, baby, but it takes time. It wasn’t completely shut down. Your brother spoke to me about it, right?”
That’s partially true but it didn’t change the disrespect thrown my way. In any situation, they would’ve gotten been whipped with a trace of wolfsbane. Keeping my gaze on the ground, dad pinched my chin, forcing me to meet his eyes once again.
“Yeah,” I answered solemnly, casting my eyes downwards. He kissed the top of my head.
“Be patient, Bell,”
I didn’t look up when he left. Staring at the bag underneath the counter, I twisted my lips as I contemplated our conversation. Is that how it goes about in pack politics? I’d never been giving the opportunity to be in the know until recently. Analysing every single angle was rational but mine was straightforward, calculative. Spying on them to see if they had any allies wasn’t too hard to consider.
Hearing footsteps approaching, I shoved my bag further away, turning my body in time to face Basil entering the kitchen. Without thinking, I scowled. What is this? Thwart Izabella’s plans? Perceptive as ever, he narrowed his icy eyes at me, slowing his pace until he was to a complete halt.
Relaxing my body, I tilted my chin up defiantly. “You hungry?”
“Did you eat?”
We both asked in unison. When I didn’t say anything, he closed the distance between us, wrapping a thick arm around my waist and guided me to the fridge. His arm hairs tickled my skin, forcing my heart to jolt in anticipation. I watched him from the corner of my eyes as he rummaged through what was in stock.
“Eggs,” He grunted, shoving the fridge door shut with his broad shoulder. He frowned at them as if they were some kind of maths puzzle he couldn’t figure out. I took them from his grasp, tugging my lips into a half smile.
“I’ll make them,”
I couldn’t look him in the eye for too long so I walked away. I thought he’d figure out my secret. He seemed to have that look about him like he was the omniscient force that couldn’t be seen. Clicking on the stove, I poured a decent amount of oil into the frying pan, failing to ignore the intensity of his gaze.
Honestly, if he was a participant in a staring contest, he’d win in a heartbeat.
I glanced over my shoulder, tucking my hair behind my ears to get a better view of him. “Why don’t you sit?”
His heavy footsteps echoed throughout the kitchen. At that moment, with my attention on the eggs, I forgot about the bag underneath the counter. Gasping, I swirled on my heels and blocked the stool from his sight.
Confused, he eyed me from head to toe before settling on my stomach. “What’s wrong?”
“I...um...” Lost for words, I shifted my body fully, kicking the bag away. “This is my seat. Always has been since I was a pup,”
Basil nodded slowly and I blinked, catching one of his rarest smiles. “Okay,”
Shuffling to the side, he lowered his body to the next stool. I breathed deeply, returning to the eggs when they sizzled violently. I flipped them over, glancing his way.
“How long are we going to be here?”
“For a few days but,” He rubbed his face, exasperated. “I’m obligated to stay with these hunters roaming around,”
I tilted my head to the side. “You do?”
“Our union created ties between our packs,” His jaw tightened. “Especially when it concerns your safety,”
“How did they find us?”
There were very few hunters roaming the earth but enough to provide caution for every pack. Tribal packs fell victim to their terror the most. At the thought, my gaze landed on Basil, my heart softening as I recalled his history with them.
“I’ll do all I can to help,” He said, his stare intensifying with his promise. “Whatever it takes,”
Silence fell between us. I felt our minds grind and shift together as he remembered his night with his family. My eyes glazed over as images of his past flashed through my vision. With weakened knees, I grabbed onto the counter, gasping as I saw all the horrors of that dreadful evening. With our bond, I was forced to feel his pain, his sorrow. An overwhelming sense of sadness crushed my heart into tiny pieces. Tremors coursed through my body and that sadness morphed into fear.
Would the same happen to The Midnight Moon?
The stool squeak in protest when he stood and he rounded the counter to reach me. His thick arms moved forward to turn off the stove, pulling me close to his chest. I buried my nose in the crook of his neck, his scent calming my wolf as she retreated into the depths of my consciousness. His hold was firm, warm... safe. But I couldn’t deny the demons shadowing his frame - a result of his ambush.
Yet, it shaped him into the wolf he was today.
Cold but beautiful.