Warmth in Winter
Grace turned to Sean, her face burning. Danielle slowly slipped away from the room, unnoticed. Sean glared at his mate. “Did you have to cause such a scene?” He demanded. “Do I still not have your trust, for you to jump to conclusions like that?”
“Sorry, sorry, sorry.” Grace buried her face in her hands. She sat down on the couch and peeked at him from behind her fingers. “I’m sorry, this won’t happen again. I promise. I trust you. I really do. It’s just that my wolf lost control seeing her domain encroached.”
Sean raised an eyebrow. “Domain?” He said. “So I’m a part of your domain, now, is it?”
Grace stuck out her tongue, realising he wasn’t angry anymore. “Just like you claim that I’m your territory.”
He ran a hand through his hair. “You’re so hot when you stake your claim like that.” He pulled her against him until their chests were pressing against each other. She sucked in her breath. He lowered his head and kissed the tip of her nose. Then her cheek. The other cheek.
He peppered small kisses across her face until she moaned, “Sean, stop teasing me!”
He continued in earnest.
The next hour, everyone knew not to go near the alpha’s office.
Later that evening, Sean brought Danielle to his office again. “They need to hear your voice,” he said. Danielle nodded. They wouldn’t believe Sean unless they could hear and see her.
Sean took out his tablet and made a group video call to the Misha and Reece. First Reece’s call connected. The first thing out of Reece’s mouth was, “Heard from Dani yet?”
Sean shook his head. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you both about. Let’s wait until— oh, Misha answered.”
“Anything from Dani?” Misha asked immediately.
“He said no,” Reece said.
“I didn’t say no," Sean insisted. “I just said not now."
“So...?” Reece asked impatiently.
“She’s right here. In front of me. Came this morning.” Sean revealed.
“Then why is the camera facing you to show your pretty face? Turn it to her and show her to us!” Misha snapped.
Sean raised a brow but complied. He turned the camera towards her. She gave them both a small wave. She could see both of them lean back on the chair and relax as if they had been relieved of a huge burden. “Dani, thank the goddess! What happened? Where have you been?”
“Uh...” Danielle didn’t want to repeat all she said to Sean so she threw the ball at him. “Sean will tell you. He knows everything.”
Sean dutifully narrated the entire incident to the two alphas. At the end of it, they remained silent, unable to come up with an appropriate response. In the end, they could only ask, “Are you okay, now?”
“I’m fine, doing okay,” she replied casually. The three of them knew that she was not answering genuinely. But they could only let it go.
“Just remember,” Reece said. “Your promise holds. If you are ever in need of our help in any form, you just have to call and we’ll be there.”
“And you don’t need to feel guilty about it,” Misha continued, “because we know you’ll do the same for us.”
They wouldn’t let that go even when they saw that she was safe. She nodded with a small smile. It felt good to have some backup whenever she needed it anyway.
Earlier that afternoon, Cole had been nice enough (following orders, maybe) to show her around the inner pack area. It was the usual pattern as in every major pack in the kingdom, except bigger in some cases. For instance, their IT wing was more vast and complex than the ones she had see in other packs.
Their business sector was fairly large, among the top five in the kingdom. Grant Industries, the corporate monopoly in the Amethyst Pack controlled most of these sectors including agriculture within the territory and manufacturing. These were all the boring stuff but these were what ran a pack and the taxes to the Crown were what ran the kingdom.
But what Danielle found the most interesting in the whole pack was their training arena. It was one of the largest she had seen among the packs. She had seen even larger ones growing up, but this one sized big enough to make her comfortable to train. Cole had shown her where the training grounds were and so, remembering the way to it, she entered the large room.
It was still early evening so not many people were inside, only about ten or fifteen. She was completely fine with that. For the first half an hour, she got herself acquainted with all the weaponry, the equipment, the implements and the arena. Once she got the feel of it and became comfortable with the place, she picked the seventh ring out of the twenty-five available for practice and got started.
She began with warming up and slowly moved on to more difficult exercises. Then she shifted to battle movements and complex strokes with different weapons. She immersed herself in battle training. This was what she was good at. She was a warrior, not a nurturer like earlier when she calmed Sean and Grace down. There was nothing wrong with being a nurturer but it was a very... different experience for her.
As her training continued, her thoughts drifted to how quickly Sean and Grace made up. No matter how much weight she had in Sean’s mind, Grace was still his priority. Rightfully so. But she couldn’t deny the twinge of envy she felt when seeing their interactions. She didn’t yearn for the romance, which was the last thing on her mind.
What she looked forward to was someone to have her back, someone to have a deep sense of camaraderie with, someone who could share the world’s weight with her. She shook her head swiftly, all those thoughts dispersing. She knew better than to go off on to flights of fancy. She hadn’t done that since she was seven.
Getting back to her training, she held her pistols, swords and spears and attacked the invisible prey around her.
By this time though, a large number of people had entered the arena to do their training. The lone woman practising had caught their eye and the more they watched, the more they became mesmerised. They began to head towards her ring and crowded around it. Such was her focus that she didn’t even notice them near until she could hear their breaths.
Furious to have been disturbed, she moved quickly and leaped towards one side, pointing her spear at the neck of the nearest person. The poor girl’s breath hitched and her eyes widened with fright. Tears welled in her eyes. ′Not your pack, Danielle, this isn’t somewhere you can do as you please.′
Taking a deep breath, she took the spear back, curbing her instincts. “I apologise,” she told the girl, “I was in the middle of practice and when you suddenly came...”
Then she saw what was going on. There was such a huge crowd around her ring. Why were they all there? Had they all gathered... to watch her? She looked around quizzically.
One man swallowed his fear and stepped forward, feigning bravery. “Y-you’re D-Danielle Ward,” he stuttered. No one laughed at him. The way she was swinging those weapons was no joke. Those were hands that had killed. “You used to be the heir-apparent of the Jade Pack.”
Danielle turned to look at him with piercing eyes. The look was so intimidating that he was forced to take a step back. “We won’t reveal it,” he said quickly, “we won’t tell anyone.”
Danielle raised a brow. “Then what do you want from me? You can’t be doing that without anything in return.”
The man’s face turned red with embarrassment. “I-I just wanted to ask if you could train our pack warriors w-while you’re h-here.”
She narrowed her eyes, mulling over the proposal. It... didn’t seem like a bad idea to repay Sean. She had trained contingents and even pack warriors before. It wouldn’t take long before she whipped them up to shape. Finally, she nodded. “Okay,” she said firmly. “All of you warriors must meet me at six in the morning sharp. From tomorrow onwards, we begin your training.”