Izabella (The Bloodstone, #1) ✓

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33. Change


Things did go well in the last few days.

Last night, we began our journey to return to The Bloodstone. Also, things were tense between Basil and me and it all involved Mason who had to return home with a split lip and a black eye. In my defence, Basil had no reason to be angry and if he wanted to sulk about something so minuscule that meant nothing to me at all, then he’d do it alone.

His reaction finding out I kissed Mason was expected but didn’t make it acceptable; it was the main reason why I didn’t tell him in the first place. He stormed through the pack-house looking for the Alpha and all hell broke loose. As expected, Mason wasn’t going to sit back and allow Basil to attack him. Trying to tear them apart was hell itself.

At the swift jerk of the truck, I knew we were at The Bloodstone. The engine died down and I turned to face my brooding mate. He didn’t turn to look at me but stared at the endless valley of trees leading to the pack-house. Without another word, I stepped out of the truck, slamming the door shut while marching to the front door.

“Izabella!”

I continued walking, pretending I couldn’t hear him. A few seconds later, fingers curled around my bicep. Suddenly, I snapped. Swirling around, I shoved his chest, causing him to stumble before he caught himself. Eyes wide and wild, he stared at me in disbelief.

“Don’t you dare try to pin this on me!” I shoved his chest again but this time he stood his ground. He gripped my wrists tightly, forcing me to stop my attacks. I glared at him and he glared back. “Why overreact when I’m with you?”

“It’s who I am. I don’t like it when another wolf sniffs around you,” He growled, getting in my face. “When were you gonna tell me he kissed you?”

I grew quiet, staring into his eyes while tightening my lips, refusing to give him an answer. Frustrated with my lack of response, he blew out a huge huff and stomped away. Not the reaction I was expecting. I swirled around, staring at his back as he reached closer to the packhouse. This was insane! Why was he walking away when we were supposed to talk about this?

“What did you expect, Basil? This isn’t the 1950s! So what? I kissed him. That’s nothing compared to what you did with other women and I don’t throw it in your face,”

He stopped in his tracks, turning around to face me. The irritation on his face faded into sadness. Seeing this lessened my own anger and the need to vent disappeared. “That’s not fair. I didn’t even know who you were, let alone did I believe in the idea of true mates. My birth-pack, my culture is completely different from your ideologies. If they were alive now, we wouldn’t be in this position,”

I parted my lips but couldn’t find any words to respond to this revelation. Before I could ask any more questions, he continued walking to the pack-house. In an ideal world, we all wished the ones we were mated to be with wasn’t anyone else, that they waited for their true one. In reality, we were made up of drives and hormones that we reacted on for instant gratification. I wasn’t happy he was with someone else but then again I wasn’t a fool to think he was innocent. He shouldn’t have thought the same for me. I’d dated before, I wasn’t a nun.

After a couple minutes, I followed him, entering through the front door to surprisingly find the place relatively quiet. I knew later in the evening there would be a pack meeting on the new changes that would occur, especially since I was Alpha of The Midnight Moon.

I wouldn’t neglect my duties in The Bloodstone but I had to figure out a way to juggle the two. So far, Basil and I came to an agreement that once a week a month, I’d return to The Midnight Moon. Never around when the full Moon would make an appearance and Basil made sure of that.

“Hey Izabella,” Keith’s voice dragged me out of my thoughts and I smiled at him. He was a little different from the last time I saw him. His hair was shorter than the last time I saw him and his hairline was trimmed to perfection.

“Hey,”

He glanced out the door. “Are your bags still outside?”

“Yeah, do you need any help?”

“Don’t think Alpha would like that,”

I frowned, folding my arms. “He doesn’t control what I do. Or what you think. If you need my help, just say so, don’t let him influence your decision.”

“To be honest, I’d rather keep my head,”

I winced, remembering the first night we met. That night seemed like it was years ago but it’d only been a couple of months. Another reaction of Basil that was uncalled for. So much had happened since then, specifically more so with Basil and I. I bit the inside of my cheek thoughtfully while twisting my lips sheepishly.

“Yeah, guess we don’t want a repeat of that,” I muttered sardonically.

He grinned, not showing any signs of resentment. “It’s cool. I understand. Man to man, you know? I’d do the same if I had my girl.”

I didn’t know. “Okay.”

“Some of the ladies are out back waiting for you. Alpha is talking to Elizabeth; we all heard what happened back in your birth-pack,”

Awkwardly, I jabbed a thumb over my shoulder directing to the back door leading to the garden. “I should probably greet everyone,”

His grin widened. “Yeah, the pups are dying to see you.”

With a nod, he left through the front door and I wandered through the house to where some of the wolves were. My stomach rumbled at the delicious smell filling my nostrils. I couldn’t remember my last meal; I’d been too caught up with ‘pack business’ to even think of eating. Entering the garden, my eyes caught Basil’s immediately. We stared at each other. He was observing me while listening to whatever Elizabeth was saying. I didn’t get the opportunity to go up to him as someone called my name.

“Izabella!”

Shifting my gaze to Katherina, I smiled as she barrelled into me, choking me near to death as her arms tightened around me. Patting her back, I pulled away to get a better view of her. She beamed at me and her hair looked redder than the last time I saw her.

“Katherina,”

“Come,” she squealed, grabbing my wrist while dragging me to a corner where most of the pups were. There were swings and a mini bouncy castle to entertain them. I smiled at those who glanced my way and their faces brightened with glee. Those who weren’t too caught up, they hugged me and I embraced them with so much warmth, I kissed each and every one of their heads. They were genuinely excited to see me and my love for them grew a tenfold.

“Other than you being tackled to the ground,” Katherina interjected, chuckling lightly. “They’ve got a present for you to celebrate your new status,”

One by one, each pup came up to me, handing little bracelets that were handmade themselves but of course, with the help of their teacher. I took each and every one in acceptance and kissed their cheeks in gratitude. I wore them on both my wrists, taking note on the metallic shape of a wolf blinking under the sun’s rays. I smirked, flicking it before looking at Katherina. She wasn’t with her mate.

“Where’s Cassandra?” I asked, scanning the area before returning my gaze to hers. At my question, her face soured and I raised both brows silently for her to continue.

“After the attack, Basil sent her off to help the police with what happened,”

At this, I folded my arms, intrigued. Ever since The Bloodstone became an official pack recognised by The Nobles, they had access to all of the advantages that came with it. One of these was access to wolves disguised as officers in the police force. Despite being hidden from the human race, we had many connections in their community which is not only beneficial financially but made damage control a lot easier. Any strange killings or detections of rogues, they handled it efficiently and effectively. Since the hunters attack, a full investigation would happen. We couldn’t just leave it to rest as there was a fear of more heading our way.

I didn’t expect Cassandra to be a part of it. How was Katherina feeling about it?

“Are you okay with it?” I voiced my question aloud.

“I’m gonna miss her but if it’s helping the wolves, I’m okay with it.”

I nodded thoughtfully. I wasn’t aware of this. When was he going to tell me about this? Reading the question on my face, Katherina quickly added. “You in a coma when they made this decision and with you losing the baby-”

I cringed and hunched my shoulders, feeling a stabbing sensation in my chest. I didn’t want this baby, why do I feel this way? With my face hardening to stone, I cracked a fake smile. “I understand,”

Her eyes lifted over my head and she straightened her posture, I knew then it was him approaching. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Basil approaching with heavy steps. With his face impassive, I couldn’t interpret his thoughts or read into them as there was a barrier between us. He wouldn’t let me into his thoughts. Knowing this wasn’t comforting.

“Alpha,” Katherina said, bowing her head in respect. “Welcome home.”

He only nodded and placed his hand on the small of my back. “Come.”

Not questioning him, I listened, saying a quick goodbye Katherina and the pups while being led back into the building. Heading up the stairs, we walked towards the Alpha’s quarters where we were secluded from the prying eyes of the pack members. In all honesty, I didn’t know why he wanted us to be alone, thinking he didn’t want to talk after he’d just walked away. When we entered our room, he headed for the bottle of Jack Daniel’s perched on top of his bedside table. He poured himself a glass. He offered me one but I declined.

Deciding not to wait, I jumped to the first question that came to mind.

“What did you mean we wouldn’t be here if...” I hesitated, gauging his reaction. “If your family were alive?”

He was silent for a moment, twirling the glass of whiskey in his before taking a large gulp. I thought he wasn’t going to answer, assuming he was still angry with me but his next words caused my muscles to stiffen to bricks.

“I was promised to someone else,”

“What?” I whispered, my brows furrowing with intrigue. “You were going to marry someone else?”

“I was ‘mated’ to another. It was more out of the convenience of the pack rather than our decision to be together,” His Adam’s apple bobbed with a deep swallow. “She was pregnant when she died that night of the attack.”

Dropping my arms to my side, I took a seat next to him, feeling my knees weaken at the news. It all made sense. Recalling his agony when he knew we lost our pup explained everything. It was a sick twist in fate and my heart bleed sympathetically for him. It only sunk in that Basil had a completely different life before meeting me, almost as if he was now living his second life.

“What was her name?” I asked in a whisper, taking his hand in mine. He stared at our entwined fingers before saying.

“Aiyana,”

The name rolled off his lips with so much ease, he made it sound beautiful. His accent was more prominent when he said it. I brought his fingers to my lips and then laid my head on his lap so I could get a better look at him. Burying his fingers in my hair, he scratched my scalp which instantly calmed my nerves.

“You never really talk about your past. I don’t want to know the bad but the good memories you cherish,”

From the way his jaw tightened, I knew this was going to be tough with a lot of heartaches to follow. With my hand that still held his, I trailed a finger along a vein visible on his bronze skin, waiting for him.

“I remember sneaking off to the woods with my brother. We lived near a waterfall and after dark, we’d go there to find peace. Couldn’t be older than ten.”

“You had a brother?”

“Half-brother,” He draped his arm over my shoulder, digging his fingers into my hair to massage my scalp. I closed my eyes, relishing in the sensations running through me. “We grew distant as we got older because we both wanted the title as Chief,”

“Chief?”

“Alpha,”

No shit. I chastised myself mentally. “Is that all?”

He shrugged. “There are too many to count. We were a small pack but we were close despite the prejudices placed against us.”

My nostrils flared at the thought and I tightened my hold on him. He noticed this and glanced at me, tucking my hair behind my ear. His thumb skimmed the skin beneath my eyes and from that action, I knew she was present. Growling in frustration, I squeezed my eyes shut so tightly, the sockets ached with the pressure. I wasn’t a pup anymore, why couldn’t I control her?

Misconduct against anyone set me into a fit of rage. Bigotry I didn’t tolerate, maybe because I knew from first-hand experience what it felt like to be an outsider. They saw our differences as weaknesses, as a threat to the system they’d place. We all believed in the value of every wolf. Why segregate us when we all believed in the same more and bled the same colour. No one way was the right way and I learned that being with Basil. Understanding his past opened the tunnel of my narrow-mindedness into a new world.

I wanted to change things. I wanted to reach every wolf possible to show they’re belonging. I knew it’d take time but eventually, I’d get there.

“Go away,” I said to no one in particular and I heard a chuckle coming from my side.

“She can’t, she’s a part of you,”

I huffed, annoyed, dropping my hands to the bed while digging my nails into the mattress.

“I know that,” I said, grumbling under my breath. “Just need to learn to get better control of my emotions.”

“Why do you try to deny her?”

“I don’t,”

He gave me a pointed look. “You do. You act as if you are completely separate from each other when you know you aren’t. You’re a she-wolf whether in your form or in the flesh. Not human. Don’t deny her,”

He made a point. Quite frankly, I’d like to blame it to the time I spent being around humans. Despite being in pack territory, I was surrounded by humans. For so long, I tried to reject the pack life yet I came back and risen up the ranks as Alpha. Funny how it turned out as I was sure I’d be a lone wolf.

Sighing, I moved so I’d be on the mattress, facing the ceiling and felt the bed dip as he lay next to me. “I don’t know, I guess she wants one thing while I want another,”

“You both want the same thing,”

Curious, I tilted my head to the side, staring at his profile. “Which is?”

“Change.”

Moving to my side, I reached up and scratched his beard. I smiled when he closed his eyes and exhaled softly. Minutes went by as we stayed silent and then he shifted to his side to wrap a beefy arm around my waist. I kissed his jaw affectionately and he grunted.

“Next time another wolf tries to touch me, I’d do it myself. I can defend myself. Thank you for defending my honour, though,”

“I’m a possessive Alpha male. As an Alpha female, you know how it feels,”

“I never felt the need to hit someone to get my point across.”

He kissed the tip of my nose and I giggled, wrapping my arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss. He accepted it willingly, gently holding my neck in place to deepen the kiss. I melted in his arms, hugging him so tightly that we could’ve been moulded into one.

We were one.

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