Two weeks later…
“I don’t want to leave,”
I was honest. For the first time since being in The Bloodstone, I didn’t want to go back home. Correction, I didn’t want to go back home without Basil. He couldn’t come, not when he had his own responsibilities here.
He patted my ass and then roughly squeezed it.
“Don’t spend too long there,” resting his forehead on mine, he breathed. “It’s already hard enough letting you go now.”
Smiling, I wiggled my fingers. “Five days,”
“Be back before the full Moon,” he said with a pointed look and tilted my chin. “I’ll be waiting for you,”
I brought my lips to his and loved the taste of mint on his tongue, causing me to drink him in greedily. His arms tightened around me with my breast squished against his chest and I breathed his scent which is ingrained into my senses. I wanted to bring him along with me but I couldn’t; he’d been gone too long to leave again. Not only that but with everything being set in place, he definitely couldn’t leave.
Those wolves chosen for the mission were sent off to dismantle the terrorist group that attacked The Midnight Moon. There was little progress but time was needed for it to be a success. Missions like these couldn’t be rushed. For all I knew, it could take years until its completion. Other than that, some children have been sent to different packs to start school. Those under the ages of thirteen stayed to be schooled in the pack as The Bloodstone was well hidden in the woods. Basil and I made the decision to build a school nearer the pack so families wouldn’t be separated.
But for my first task as Alpha, I had to return back to The Midnight Moon earlier than usual because Hailey had given birth to a baby girl. As custom has it, it was the Alpha’s duty to welcome the heiress with a public ceremony – The Welcoming Ceremony. Before it was the pup’s father who’d do this but with Hunter down, I had to fill in.
Unwillingly, I broke the kiss, touching his cheek lovingly while running my fingers through his long beard. Over our short time together, we’d bonded so closely I couldn’t imagine being without him. I was determined to hate him, if it was my choice, I wouldn’t have come to The Bloodstone with him but the Moon brought us closer, making it impossible to deny the attraction sizzling between us.
“I’ll be back before the Moon,” I repeated my promise on his lips. Sheepishly, I gathered some courage to say the next words that’d been haunting me for two weeks. “Just know that I love you.”
He blinked rapidly and his body went rigid. I didn’t find any offence to this. In fact, I had doubts that his wolf was about to say those words. To show affection, yes, but to actually say it…? I said it to his human and from what I could remember, he said it back. I’d like to think it reflected his wolf’s feelings about me. To love the flesh you had to love the wolf as they were one.
Releasing him, I stepped away, ready to head over to the Jeep that was running but his hand clasped my wrist with a sharp tug, forcing me to twirl around to face him once again. He placed the hand he held on his chest, directly upon his heart. The steady thump gradually increased the longer we touched and I soaked in his warmth and the vibrations of his heart. If anything, it only made me love him more. I was sure I was staring at him with stupid love-filled eyes.
“You mean more to me than life,” He whispered, kissing down the length of my nose which sent tingles down my spine. “Saying ‘I love you’ simply isn’t enough. It’s deeper than the ocean, so consuming I go damn near crazy every time I think about you. You are my Moon, Izabella, my centre, my whole fucking universe.”
Tears blurred my vision and I dropped my gaze to the ground to avoid the intensity of his look. Resting my forehead to his chest, I hugged him and he nestled his chin on my head.
And he said human emotions don’t come easily to him. He was capable because I’d seen it, felt it. He didn’t know how much he underestimated himself.
“I’m sorry,” I sniffled. “I’m sorry for how I treated you before. It was unfair.”
I’d been a brat to him. The times he’d been good to me I basically threw it in his face. Kissing my tears away, we pulled back one last time just when Elizabeth made her appearance. She smiled at the both of us and I returned it shyly before looking away. They said something in hushed voices and I heard his heavy footsteps retreating somewhere. Frowning, I turned around stared at his retreating form but Elizabeth came to view, placing something in my hand. My gaze dropped down to see a bloodstone necklace. My lips parted in awe.
“I know we didn’t get the chance to do the official ceremony of acceptance but…” She nodded down at the necklace. “Even though you’re Alpha in The Midnight Moon, you’re a part of us. Where-ever you go, we go,”
With a teary smile, I wrapped my arms around her, resting my head in the crook of her neck as I took in her comforting scent. She rubbed my back affectionately, kissing both my cheeks while holding my jaw in both her hands.
“Thank you for being the light we needed,” I was confused by her words but then she continued. “Thank you for giving my boy a chance.”
I knew Elizabeth was a surrogate mother to Basil. She’d entered his life at a time that was dark, cruel and a sense of hopelessness for his humanity. In a way, she’d restored him and for that, I’d forever be grateful to her. She helped me put on the necklace and I tucked it under my shirt so it wouldn’t get caught in my hair.
“Thank you, Elizabeth,”
She grinned and then ushered me to the Jeep that waited patiently for me. Since Cena was gone and Keith was needed as second in command, that left Ibrahim, one of the trained warriors, to escort me back home. He’d joined The Bloodstone years back when his family left India to the U.S. He was younger than me by around two years but with his bulky physique, you would’ve never guessed it.
His dark brown eyes darted to me as he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. He nodded in greeting. “Morning, Alpha.”
“Hey, Ibrahim,” I said, slamming the door shut before buckling my seatbelt. “Ready when you are.”
He nodded, twisting the ignition and the engine hummed to life. Looking at the side mirror, I saw Basil’s form standing outside the pack-house, hands shoved into his pockets as he watched us ride off into the distance. I didn’t look away until I lost sight of him and slunk back into my seat with a harsh breath, feeling my chest grow heavy knowing he wouldn’t be with me.
My wolf whined for him.
There were two things I loved in life: pizza and listening to endless tunes of Paramore. Scratch that, three now that Basil was in my life. But as I carried the little girl in my arms for the first time as a new aunt, I had to expand that list a little and add my baby niece. That actually made four things but that was beside the point.
Nothing could compare seeing an innocent little pup staring at you with wide, doe eyes along with the way your chest clench with so much love. Untainted from the world’s cruelty and the harsh realities of life, it was hard not to gravitate towards her.
“Hi, pretty girl,” she was more than that; she was a beauty. She was so tiny in my arms I was afraid that I’d hurt her. Staring at me, I noticed her eyes were identical to her mama’s. She looked a lot more like Hailey than Hunter, inheriting her darker complexion. Hailey was half Caucasian and Caribbean with her father having a darker skin and her mother was lighter, originating from France.
When I returned, she was not in a good place. Mom had the baby while Hailey was in her room, refusing to come out other than to see and feed her daughter. It’d taken some time but eventually, I was able to see her but mom and I were the only two allowed to see her.
I made a funny face and she wiggled around, waving her arms wildly as she made gurgling sounds. I saw the tiniest smile and my heart swelled. If it swelled any more I think I’d die. She was the light this pack needed. Also, I kept saying she because she didn’t have a name.
Mom’s been trying to convince Hailey to name her but she’d refused. I didn’t need to ask to know why.
“You know she needs a name for the ceremony to happen,” I said, bouncing her in my arms gently. Glancing at Hailey, slowly, she turned to look at me and her forehead wrinkled into a frown when she shook her head.
“I… I don’t know what to name her,”
This time, it was my turn to frown. “What do you mean? Didn’t you and Hunter discuss names?”
“Yeah but… I mean I don’t want to name her without…” She trailed off, lowering her eyes to her entwined fingers. Her sniffles reached my ears “It would feel wrong to name her without him.”
“I can’t perform the ceremony without a name, Hales,” I said, referring to the nickname my brother had given her many years ago. “We don’t know when he’s going to wake up. It could take months, years even.”
She flinched at this and I regretted pin-pointing the reality of what could happen to my brother. It was morbid but it was the case for some. I shouldn’t have planted that seed on doubt in her mind though as I knew both her and my mom were hopeful. They stilled prayed to the Moon.
“I know,” She exhaled loudly. “Wishful thinking, I guess.”
“Let me help you out,” I made kissy noises at the baby in my arms and she watched in complete fascination. “What about Victoria or Elizabeth?”
They were both powerful names deriving from powerful Queens in English history. European history was something I was fascinated with back in college, specifically British history with the culture and long line of royals. And of course, I thought of Elizabeth back home in The Bloodstone, knowing how much of an impact she had on Basil. All in all, the names were pretty. I wouldn’t mind stealing one of them if Basil and I ever had girls.
The baby smiled. Unable to help myself, I kissed her chubby cheeks repeatedly and rubbed her tiny nose with mine.
“You like those names, pretty girl? Aunty Bella like those names, yes she does!” I cooed in an obnoxious baby voice that seemed to plague every adult when around a pup.
“What?” I lifted my head to stare at her in confusion.
“Bella-Elizabeth Steele,” She whispered, her eyes meeting mine self-assuredly. “Named after a great Alpha,”
Her eyes welled with tears and my face softened with content as I moved closer to her. Wrapping an arm around her shoulder, Hailey buried her face into the crook of my neck, taking in deep, shuddering breaths to compose herself.
We broke apart when Bella- Elizabeth started to cry and Hailey cooed at her, motioning for me to pass her over. Carefully, I placed baby Bella in her arms and without shame, Hailey lowered the top of her shirt to free her right breast. She greedily sucked the nipple as she watched her mother with teary eyes. Hailey tapped the tip of her nose with her index finger.
“Bella-Elizabeth,” She grinned wolfishly. “Welcome to The Midnight Moon,”