The feeling of the bed dipping down on the side Dominic favored was what woke Serendipity from the deep sleep she had settled into. At first, she snuggled further into the covers, burying her body into the warmth and safety of Dominic's bed. Their bed now. She had all but given up on the room she had insisted upon. Right before she fell back asleep she remembered that she had waited up until almost midnight to talk to Dominic. She missed him beyond imagining. She missed talking to him and seeing him and she even missed the way he smelled. Besides, they had a lot to discuss. She still wasn't over the mark that had been forced upon her, though she was becoming more and more used to and accepting of it. She didn't know when they would have a chance to have a meaningful conversation with him being so busy with the New Nation Summit meetings.
With a sigh, she brought up her balled-up fists and rubbed her eyes sleepily, trying to wake herself up. At the same time, she felt Dominic slid underneath the covers, right up next to her. The smell of the forest and his body wash was a wild scent that calmed her as his large hands slid around her, settling her along the curve of his body. She jumped when she felt his warm lips press a kiss on the shoulder that wasn't covered in his comforter. Tears beaded up in her eyes for a split second at the gentle act. They hadn't had much of any contact except for when Alpha Gabriel had taken a turn for the worse. Not even the bond had been used between them, not that she hadn't been very tempted to reach out to him.
"Go back to sleep, little human. I'm here," she heard him murmur softly as his hands trailed up her back and down her arms in a soothing manner.
Tingles erupted along the path he took, rousing her from her sleepy state all the more. She opened her eyes in the darkness and blinked a few time to adjust her eyesight. The only source of light was the luminescent glow of the moon shining in from outside through the tall windows above the balcony door on the far wall. She twisted in her mate's arms and tucked her head right underneath his chin. Her ear rested right over his chest and the steady beat of his heart almost lulled her back to sleep, but she fought against it.
Immediately, she reached out with her mind, touching the bond they shared together. Though it was still strange to merge with him, to pick up on his feelings, she found that each time she did so it became easier and less uncomfortable. Too late. I'm up now. I tried to wait for you, but I guess I was more tired than I thought.
She arched her neck to look up at him and she swore that her heart stopped for a minute. Dominic was so beautiful that he took her breath away. He wasn't beautiful in a girly way either. No, he was all male. Still, his eyes were a warm brown, soft and inviting and yet cold and closed off at the same time. His lashes were thick and long and yet the wisps of hair only enhanced the hard planes and angles of his face. Even in partial lighting, he looked dangerous, icy in away. His facial hair had been freshly shaved just a few days ago and already it was a bit longer than he preferred to keep it. His hair wasn't tied back and the wild, dark waves only served to make the man look all the more unapproachable. Well, unapproachable to everyone except for her.
She blushed when she realized that he was studying her as much as she was him. She tried to turn away from him, her intention to sit up so that she could put space between the two of them while they talked, but his muscled arm stopped her in her tracks when he pulled her close to him again, rolling so that she was laying on top of his chest. He stroking her tousled hair out of her eyes, such a gentle motion for such large hands. She relaxed against him, listening to his heart as he held her tight to him as if she was going to disappear at any moment.
"I would have been up sooner but I had to run with the pack. If there is a full moon during the week we hold the New Nation celebration then it's a tradition that all of the visiting packs, as well as the royal wolves, run together. I know I've been busy. After the celebration is over and the visiting wolves return to their territories, I have to leave for a week to meet with the Supernatural Council. As soon as I'm back, I promise you I will make all the time in the world for you. I won't be anywhere near this busy until next years celebration," he explained wearily.
She heard the exhaustion in his voice. It was no secret that he was doing double the work he had been since his father had collapsed, which concerned her. She didn't want her wolf running himself into the ground. She was tempted to let them both drift away into a peaceful sleep, but she knew that as soon as she did she would wake up and he'd be gone. She hated to admit it to herself, but that concerned her more than it should have.
It's okay. I thought that spending some time apart would give me time to think, but all it's done is make me realize how much I miss you when you're not with me. She hesitated a moment before continuing. I am sorry for running off with Lindsey. Truly sorry, Dominic. She felt him shift under her as if he getting ready to say something but she pressed her finger against his lips, needing to get everything off her chest. I shouldn't have reacted so terribly to you marking me and I also shouldn't have assumed the worst when you told me you had punished Lindsey. I know that you just want me to be safe and I won't put myself in jeopardy like that again. I could imagine how angry I'd be if you put yourself in harm's way by doing something I asked you not to.
His eyes flashed the beautiful yellow of his wolf so quickly that she wondered if she had imagined it. "Don't do that. Don't apologize," he snapped gruffly. "You have nothing to be sorry for. It's I who owe you an apology. No, I owe you so much more than that and I plan to do everything I can to make it up to you. You didn't deserve the lack of control I displayed. It's something I'll regret for the rest of my life."
She nuzzled her cheek into his chest in an effort to bring him some kind of comfort. She could hear the pain laced in his voice, the regret, and she didn't doubt that he really was sorry. You made sure it wasn't as painful as it could have been, Dominic. She reminded him, flushing at the memory of the passionate kiss they had shared right before he had chomped down on her neck. Besides, I like wearing your mark. Being able to talk with you like this, even at a distance, means so much to me. I don't want to be us to be upset at each other anymore. Let's just put it behind us, okay?
Dominic's grip on her tightened before he leaned down to kiss the top of her head. "I don't know why the Goddess blessed me with someone as understanding and compassionate as you, but I swear on my life I will never do anything to jeopardize us again. You mean the world to me, little human. I never thought I could love someone the way I love you."
She froze at the use of the 'L' word. They hadn't used it yet, not really used it. Dominic seemed to sense the tension in her body and he ran a hand through her hair, offering her comfort. "I won't take anything from you that you aren't willing to give freely. It's okay if you aren't ready to say the words yet. I feel it, baby, what you feel for me." He gripped her smaller hand in his laid them on his chest, right beside her head so she could see he was motioning to his heart. "I feel how much you care for me, right here. That's the magic of the mating bond. When you're ready, all you have to do is reach out for me using our link and you'll feel everything I feel for you. It's different than communicating telepathically, but you already feel a few of my emotions. Eventually, you'll open yourself up enough to read all of them. You'll never doubt my words because you will know that everything I say is true."
She relaxed against him and closed her eyes, tears welling up behind her eyelids. She knew what he was saying was true. Since he had marked her, she hadn't wanted the bond between them because she saw it as a betrayal of everything they had built. Now that they had agreed to move past it, she knew it would only be a matter of time before she began to explore and test the bond between them. She wanted that reassurance that he cared for her just as much as she cared for him. she wanted to know that he really did love her. She just wasn't ready to reach out and embrace Dominic completely. Something was holding her back.
"I'm sorry I couldn't visit the healer with you today. I'm glad to see you don't have the cast on anymore, though I don't think you're supposed to have your brace off yet, Serendipity," he mused, one hand tracing down her back to rest on the top of the thigh of the leg that had been broken.
She bit her lip as a wave of heat engulfed her, her body as sensitive to his touch as it ever had been. She shivered in his arms, goosebumps rising all along her body. She realized that she was still in her pajamas, which wasn't anything except one of Dominic's shirts and a pair of her underwear. She hadn't thought much about going to be in the outfit because when she stood, the shirt came all the way to her knees. It was basically a short dress. In the compromising position she found herself in, however, it had slid up to far for comfort. Her hand slid down to his nervously and she intertwined his fingers with hers, pulling him away from such an intimate area.
After swallowing the lump in her throat, she tried to respond to him as calmly as she could. It's okay. The saw he used to cut it off was a bit of a shock but I'm thankful the cast is gone. The doctor, healer, said that I would be okay without it when I'm sleeping. I'm don't think I will need it tomorrow.
"According to Beckham, you didn't put the brace on once today like you were supposed to," he reprimanded. She knew what a warning was when she heard one. She winced and mentally cursed her guard for reporting back to Dominic, though he had told her he was going to do so if she was too stubborn to wear the brace. It turns out it hadn't been an empty threat after all. "You will wear the brace tomorrow, Serendipity." It was a command, not a question and she felt her temper rise for a split second before she calmed herself. Instead of becoming angry, she nodded her head in agreement. She didn't want to argue with him about it. Not when he was only seeing to her well-being.
I visited your father today. He looks a bit better since he's been put on bedrest, Serendipity said with a smile, changing the subject. I made Beckham read to us, one of your mother's favorites that he had sitting on his bedside table. I think he enjoyed it. I told him I'd visit as much as I could so he isn't cooped up alone in his room all day.
Alpha Gabriel had been so happy to see her show up at the door to his private room. The healer had moved him to his own quarters so that he would be more comfortable. A few machines that monitored him as well as an IV had been moved into his room as well, something the man had grumbled about under his breath. Dominic's father really had looked better. There was more color to in his face and the wolf had laughed and talked with her almost as if nothing was wrong with him. They both kept the conversation points light and then, at the end of her visit, Beckahm had read to them both and he had fallen asleep with the most peaceful expression she had ever seen the man wear. She caught a glimpse of who the man used to be before the death of his mate.
Dominic's breathing hitched beneath her for just a moment and she looked up at him, worried. His eyes looked mysteriously misty before he blinked and all emotion was gone as if it had never been there. "Thank you, Serendipity. My mother loved to read and she would often read to both him and I late at night before bed. I am sure it brought back good memories for him, a sense of peace, to be read to."
He rolled onto his side but kept his arms around her so that she was still pressed to him just as tightly as she had been. There was a moment of hesitation before he continued. "I used to wonder how the death of a mate could affect a wolf the way it did. Most take their lives when the other half of them dies and if they don't then mating sickness sets in and it's only a matter of time before they pass away. I thought it was a curse from the Goddess, mating sickness that is. Now I know it's a mercy. If anything ever happened to you, little human, I would join you in the afterlife as soon as I could. I wouldn't hold on for as long as my father has. It would be too painful to live in a world where you don't exist."
A few tears fell from her eyes before she could stop them and Dominic's hand was there to wipe them away before she could. "I haven't told you about my mother because she's not someone I talk about, not even with my father. It's too painful to remember sometimes, but I want you to know about her."
Serendipity could hear the anguish, she could feel it from the bond. We don't have to talk about it right now, Dominic.
"I want to," he insisted. "I need to. I need you to know her. She was my father's world and when I was a child, she was my world too. Her name was Helen and she was the best mother in the world. Not just for me either, but for the entire pack. We weren't royalty then, of course. My father was Alpha, but our pack was a relatively smaller one compared to others. She made sure everyone, even the omegas, had food and clothes and were cared for. Our door was always open to anyone who needed it and I saw her, more than a few times, convince my father to spare rouges and integrate them into the pack instead. One of those rouges was Beckham's father. She was so pure and good, Serendipity. So much like you that it scares me because it was that same light she had in her that ended up getting her killed."
She sounds like she was a wonderful wolf, Dominic. I wish I could have met her. She was surprised at how much she actually meant that. Serendipity had never wanted to meet a wolf before, not voluntarily, but she would have given an arm and a leg to know the woman Dominic spoke so highly about. She wanted to know Dominic's mother the way he wanted her too.
"I wish you could have too. She would have loved you. My father knew that it was only a matter of time before the humans made a move against us and he was desperate to come to an agreement with the human government before something could be done that would start a war. A senator from our state invited him to talk about peace negotiations and my father left my mother and I here. A day later I woke to the manor on fire, screams of friends and family, and gunshots ringing out. It was chaos. I was young at the time and didn't have full control of my wolf so I was stuck in my human form, unable to help the other warriors. My mother got me and a handful of other children that she could find and she managed to hide us, but she didn't have time to hide herself. I watched the humans from a crack in the passageway we were hiding in as they made her turn around, right towards us, before shooting her in the back of the head. I just watched, too afraid to do anything," he explained brokenly, his voice cracking towards the end.
Serendipity could only listen and hold onto him, afraid that if she let go that he would begin to cry just as hard as she was. I'm so sorry, Dominic. She didn't know what else to say or do. There was nothing that would ever fill the emotional hole that had been plunged into him that day.
He squeezed her in acknowledgment. "We weren't the only pack the humans attacked that night. They launched an attack on every pack that they knew of, which was the majority of them. It was supposed to be a mass genocide of our species altogether and they almost succeded. The few of us that were left had to go underground in order to hide and grow stronger. We even had to leave out home, here at the manor. My father turned into a shell of the man he had been and he became obsessed with taking back what was his. In a way, I believe that he thought it would bring my mother back somehow."
"Many of the survivors wanted to wipe out humanity completely, but as bloodthirsty as my father was, as bloodthirsty I grew up to be, we knew that killing billions of humans, most who were innocent, wouldn't be right. My mother wouldn't have wanted it. My father's plan was to simply overthrow the human government and kill anyone and everyone involved in the slaughter that took place, but other wolves weren't satisfied with it. So, to prevent civil war from breaking out between the last of the werewolves still living, the decision was made to enslave the human race so that nothing like what happened to my mother and all the others that had been killed would ever happen again."
He finally looked down at her when he was finished, sorrow in his eyes as well as shame. She stroked the side of his face and he leaned into her touch as if it was a healing balm that could take away all his suffering. You did the best you could, Dominic. Nothing could have prevented her death and she would have wanted you to survive. That's why she hid you, to keep you safe. I know that nothing is black and white, especially now with things as complicated as they are. The enslavement of humans wasn't right by any means but of the two options, genocide or enslavement, you picked the right one. You're better than the humans that tried to wipe out another species for being afraid of what they didn't understand. One day, I truly believe that you'll make the right decision again given the choice.
He moved away from her touch then, his eyes glowing the beautiful yellow of his wolf. "How do you know that, Serendipity? I don't even know that. I don't know if I have the strength or the courage to free the very same people who killed my mother and inadvertently are killing my father. I'm terrified to make the wrong decision. So many wolves are counting on me to keep them safe and lead them in a better direction. My father will be gone soon and I will have no one to go to for guidance, no one as wise as him. How can you be so sure that I'll do the right thing when I don't even know what the right thing is?"
Serendipity thought about it for a minute, taking her time to form the correct response. Honestly, it was a good question to ask. How did she know? I know you, Dominic. I think that sometimes I know you better than you know yourself. You aren't the monster that I called you and that you think yourself to be. You care about people, about humans, even if you don't realize it yet. When the triplets could have been sent to a camp to be split up between districts, you kept them safe here. You've only known me for a week and already you have chosen to feed and take care of the humans here. You, a terrifying werewolf that slaughtered thousands of humans in a brutal war between our species, actually apologized to Lindsey, a slave, when I brought it to your attention that you were wrong to punish her, even though your punishment was only a few extra chores. That's how I know. You're a good wolf, Dominic. Never doubt that. Misguided, maybe, but still good.
Her mate's eyes got a bit more glassy that they already were and she snuggled closer to him, praying that he took her words to heart. She realized for the first time that she truly had been lucky to get Dominic as her mate. She could have been stuck with someone like Sapphire, a wolf that abused her power and made the lives of humans miserable and yet she had been given a gift instead. She had been given Dominic.
"Thank you, little human, for being brave enough to stay with me and for being willing to see another side of me, a side that I didn't even know existed until I found you," he murmured into her ear. "Go to sleep. I have you and I'm not going to let anything happen to you. I'll wake you in the morning before I leave for the Summit meetings."
She allowed herself to close her eyes, her tears drying up with the feeling of warmth and security her wolf gave to her at that moment. She remembered all the nights she had been in her cold apartment with an empty stomach and thin blanket her only companions. There were millions of humans still out there, facing the same harsh reality that she had faced not long ago, but for the first time in a long time, she had genuine hope for the future. She believed everything she had told Dominic. He was a good man and he would make the right choice in the end. She would make sure of it.
Eventually, she felt Dominic's body relax against hers and heard his breathing even out. Only then did she completely relax too. Wrapped around one another, human and wolf drifted off into a peaceful slumber.
First off, thank you to everyone who commented and left a review! Since you all left such sweet words of encouragement, I am updating today, Thursday, instead of Sunday! Please vote and let me know what you think about chapter fourteen! I love reading your comments and they really do get me excited to update.
Also, I know this chapter is a bit shorter than what I normally write, but the next chapter is going to be super long. This is more of a nice sort of conclusion for what Dominic and Serendipity have gone through up to this point because I feel like they need to be on the same page moving forward, at least mostly on the same page. Drama is just about to ensue so make sure you’re ready! ;)