I couldn’t get my mind off of Zea’s reaction toward Rolfe. It didn’t make sense for her to be so terrified of him.
I first met Rolfe the night Axton introduced me to his family.
I was a complete mess and I couldn’t stop shaking no matter how many times Axton told me that everything would be alright. My mind just kept going to what they would think and whether they would like me, but that all changed the second we walked in the door.
They welcomed me in with open arms and huge smiles. They seemed as happy as I was that Axton had found his mate. I seemed to fit right in, and since the loss of my parents, I felt like I was finally at home.
It was that night that I first met Rolfe. During dinner, there was a rogue attack. A few rogues decided to cross the border and try to make trouble with the pack, so Axton and his father, the Alpha at the time, left to take care of it.
They weren’t gone for long before a rogue came crashing into the house. The rogues that crossed the border were a distraction and this one was waiting for the Alpha to leave so he could come after the Luna. He charged right at her while I put myself between them, but before he reached us, another wolf came barreling through the house.
Rolfe, the beta at the time, killed the rogue. He protected the Luna and me. Since then, I have always known him as a kind person, always one who wanted to protect his family.
But it has been seven years since I last spoke to him. He may not be the same person he used to be.
We shouldn’t trust him, Raelynn said. He scares our pup.
But I don’t understand why, I tell her, There has to be a reason. Something Zea can sense. She would be able to feel who he truly is, I just don’t know what she senses.
Keep him away from Zea, she says before closing off the conversation.
I was so focused on thinking about Rolfe, I didn’t even hear it when he left the room. Axton came up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist, “Hey, are you okay? You seemed to go somewhere else for a second.”
“Hmm, oh yeah. I’m fine, don’t worry,” I tell him as he gives me a soft kiss on my neck.
I don’t understand what’s going on with Axton. I know that I want to believe that he truly wants this, wants a family. But I still have that fear in the back of my mind that he will reject us again, if he even rejected us the first time.
Everything about that night still confused me. I know what I saw and I know what I felt was a true rejection, but I could still feel the amazing electricity my mate’s touch caused. I don’t know what to believe is real anymore.
“You did it again,” he mumbles as he kisses my neck again.
“Sorry,” I whisper to him as I turn in his arms, but when I look up at him, his eyes are still zeroed in on my neck, “Axton? What’s wrong?”
“Your mark,” that was all he said but I knew what he meant. The scar, “What happened?”
“Nothing,” I lied as I tried to cover it with my hand. I didn’t really want to bring up those memories, especially with Zea in the next room.
“It’s not nothing, Ellie. What happened?” he said, anger and confusion and hurt all laced into his tone.
I looked past him to the little girl in the other room, “Not here,” I tell him as I motion to our daughter, “I’ll tell you tonight. I promise.”
He nodded his head, but it didn’t seem like he really wanted to let go of the subject. I knew he was going to be angry when he saw the scar.
Cortez’s reminder, as he called it. Like I could ever forget that torture.
Axton went to say something, but Walker beat him to the punch as he slammed open the front door, “Morning!” he yelled out.
“Walker,” I scolded him playfully, “That is not how you come into a house.”
“Well Luna, without your loving guidance and expertise on the subject of etiquette, it seems all the pups will just have to learn from me,” he smiled as he came up to us.
I was about to comment on his remark when what he said finally connected to me.
“Wait a minute, you’re teaching a class?” I asked, bewildered on why Axton would ever allow him to spoil that minds of the young.
“I thought Sawyer was doing that?” Axton asked.
“She was, but she’s sick. So it’s up to me to shape the minds of today’s youth,” a grin on his face.
“No, not happening,” I tell him, “I’ll do it.”
“What?” he looked shocked, but relief quickly shows through, “Thank god. I thought I would actually have to teach a bunch of pups. Will you really do it, El?”
“Yes, if it means you never try to shape the minds of our youth,” I tell him, before turning to Axton, “Is the training center still in the same place?”
“Yes, everything is in the same place,” he stated, but I could see sadness at him remembering that I had left.
“Good. Will you watch Zea while I’m gone?” I ask him hesitantly, still unable to fully trust him.
He lights up at my small request, “Of course. Good luck and be back by five. Pack barbeque is tonight,” he tells me before kissing my head and walking quickly into the other room to sit down next to his daughter.
I watch for a second as they interact with each other. There is no hesitation in Zea’s love for her father and the same love for her seems to be in his eyes. It was exactly how it should have been all along. Maybe there was more to that night seven years ago that I didn’t know about yet.
“Are you sure?” Walker whispered beside me as we both watched them, “I mean, I know Axton would never hurt either of you, but after what you said happened and what you believed for so long to be true, do you truly trust Axton?”
“I want to. More than anything,” I tell him honestly, “I just hope he doesn’t prove me wrong.”
I laughed as I made my way back to the pack house.
“Thank you again for your help today, Luna. I don’t know what we would have done if we had been stuck with Walker’s help,” Jade said, her red hair blowing past her shoulders as a gust of wind picked up.
Jade was the pack doctor and she volunteered to teach the kids with Sawyer. She was a little under my age, but we had been close friends when I first came here seven years ago. It seemed to me the years had been different for her than I had known. Her stressors were medical situations and kids running around. Mine were running from my mate and from darkness.
“It was no problem, Jade, and please just call me Ellie like everyone used to,” I tell her.
“Alright Ellie,” she says before pausing a second before asking me the question I could see was forming in her eyes since I first walked into that class, “Can I ask you something?”
“I know you don’t want to talk about why you left,” she starts before quickly interrupting herself, blabbering, “and I mean I total get that. You don’t have to talk about that and that wasn’t what I was going to ask you, and-”
I cut her off, “It’s okay. What was it that you wanted to ask me?”
“Well, it’s not about why you left, I promise.”
“Then what is it about?” I was actually curious about what kind of point she was trying to make.
“Why you came back,” she said so quietly that I almost missed it.
“What?” I said confused.
“I know you must have had your reasons for leaving and for staying gone, but what after all these years made you finally come back?”
Her question gave me pause. Not once has anyone asked that since I’ve been back. Axton had been so focused on why I left and trying to make me stay, that not even he asked me what made me come running back. No one knew what I was trying to hide my daughter from.
“That’s a complicated question, Jade,” I tell her, “With an even more complicated answer.”
“I think I’ll understand it,” she says before witting down on the bench outside the pack house. We were talking so much on the way back, I hadn’t even realized we she had stopped us outside the front door, “So, why did you come back?”
“I was forced to. Things happened when I left, and the past finally caught up,” I told her a bit vaguely, in order to stop her from prying, but no such luck.
“That wasn’t an answer, Ellie,” she says as she reaches out her hand to rest on mine. She may be younger than me and smaller than me, but she had this sense around her that was comforting and nonthreatening. It’s probably what makes her an even better pack doctor.
“The pack I was staying with was attacked.”
“Blue Moon. That’s why Luna Layla came here,” she says.
“Yes. I sent Layla here in order to protect Zea. I knew that even if Axton didn’t know she was his, that he would protect her because she was with Layla. It was the only thing I could think of in that moment.”
“What happened after Layla took Zea?” she asked.
“I made it back to the attack, and then I was captured along with some of the pack. The rogues were looking for someone.”
“By who?” she asked, gripping my hand even tighter, “Who attacked? What was his name? Did he have anyone else with him?”
“How do you know it was a he?” I asked, a little worried about all these questions. Why was she so interested?
“Rogues are usually male,” she says, but the hesitation in her voice suggests that’s not the reason, “Please just tell me, was there anyone else during the attack? Anyone who wasn’t a rogue?”
It made me pause. Who wasn’t a rogue. How did she know about Cortez working the witches?
“Jade, I need you to tell me what you know about him, now.”
She shakes her head at me, “I know we’ve known each other for a long time, Ellie, but there are some things I still can’t tell you. Just tell me his name, please.”
The name alone seemed to scare her. She knew who he was, maybe even why he was after me, but the only ones who knew Cortez’s obsession with me were me, him, and his warlock. Every rogue he hired to find me only knew that I was a missing Luna and what a sort of looked like. My appearance has changed slightly since he last tortured me.
“Does he know about Zea?” she asks me. That was the question that made me freeze completely. It was more than if Cortez knew Zea existed. It was if he knew who she was.
Did she know? She hasn’t even seen Zea yet, so there was no way she could be able to tell, even as a doctor.
My response was cut short as Reid came barging out of the house, “Ellie!”
Jade shrunk back into the bench a little bit before whispering to me, “He has eyes everywhere. Be careful.”
With that she got up and left. She watched Reid carefully before giving me one last look and walking back down the path.
“Where’s the doc going?” Walker asked as he followed Reid out the door.
“She has patients to see,” I say quickly, unsure of what Jade was actually doing.
She knew about Cortez and the warlock. She knew about Zea. Maybe these last seven years changed her more than I thought, but that didn’t explain on how she seemed to know what happened and what Cortez wanted.
“What do you guys need?” I ask, trying to push Jade out of my mind, but failing to do so completely.
“Barbeque is starting soon, and Axton wants to see you,” Walker quickly says.
“I don’t know. He’s your mate,” Walker says.
“If you need us, we’ll be right outside,” Reid says before dragging Walker out back to help set up.
I knew what he wanted to talk about. He wants to know about the scar, the question I had avoided answering earlier. But he deserved to know the truth, at least as much as I could talk about.
I needed to trust him, and I wanted more than anything for him to still be the man who had earned it.
I took one last deep breathe before heading inside and walking slowly up the stairs to his room.
I opened the door slowly and saw him sitting on the bed staring at me as I walked in.
“Axton,” I started, but I didn’t get any farther before he got up and connected his lips with mine.