When the sun came up, I had already cooled down before the rest of the crew had woken up. To get my mind out of the gutter, I started making breakfast. Cole hadn’t shown himself after our abrupt separation earlier that day. However, I knew he wouldn’t stay away for long.
Tony and I had a few minutes of peace before Axel and Kaleb joined us for breakfast. So we discussed the events a few hours ago.
“And how are you?” He asked in a hushed tone.
“I’m fine, Tony. But zip it.” I ordered.
“You know he’s still outside…”
“What?” Now that got my attention.
“He offered to take the rest of my shift after you headed inside. Didn’t you hear me following behind you?”
I pursed my lips while holding back a sarcastic retort but Axel and Kaleb showed up. As the two sat down, I headed out of the apartment and found Cole by the door.
“What are you still doing here? Don’t you sleep?” I asked timidly.
He didn’t look surprised as he turned and replied. “I’m taking Tony’s shift. And I can’t sleep.” He paused, peering at me from head to toe. “Are you okay now? Did you get any sleep?”
“After what you told me, not much,” I muttered dryly.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to draw a picture… but what did you expect having this sort of connection?”
“Nothing. I always hoped for nothing, Cole.” I sighed in defeat. “And I know it’s never going to be nothing.”
There was a brief pause as we allowed the silence to drown our frustrations. When he cleared his throat, his demeanor was back to business. “I’m sorry for bringing this up so early in the morning. But I’ve already contacted my dad and put him up to speed with everything between us, and with what’s happening with Lockwood. He told me he’s coming over to talk.”
“I think you should learn how to properly break down the news to someone.” I huffed in dejection at another unexpected turn of events. “When is he coming over?” I inquired a moment later, going along with his mood.
“In…” he paused to glance briefly at his wristwatch. “A few minutes from now.”
“He’s on his way?” I looked at him in shock.
“Yes. From what he’d told me,” he replied with nonchalance.
“Told you? You spoke to him on the phone?”
“No. We talked telepathically.” He looked at me oddly like this was a common way of communication.
“Of course,” I grumbled underneath my breath before heading back inside. “I’ll give the boys a heads up,” I called out before closing the door behind me.
I hadn’t made it all the way through the living room before they blocked my way. From the crease between Kaleb’s eyebrow, Axel’s dead stare, and Tony’s sympathetic look, they heard the conversation.
“Axel, take her inside. I’ll have a word with the Lycan.” Kaleb declared as Axel grabbed my arm and tightened his grip around me.
“Kaleb… wait…” I was about to stop him when Tony stood between us and subtly shook his head, telling me don’t. So I bit back my word and allowed Axel to escort me in the living room.
I wasn’t a fidgety person. However, I started tapping my fingers with impatience as I sat by the single couch with the better view of the hallway leading to the door. Finally, when Kaleb appeared, I thought about pestering him when Cole appeared behind him. Then, as the two approached me, another familiar face joined us. I felt like someone kicked my behind as I jolted out of my seat.
The last time I saw Charles Blackwell had been at my family’s abandoned house, looking guarded and ready for battle. His fierce and steel gaze was now gone and replaced with a kind smile as he approached me.
“Rhoane, my dear, you look so lovely after all these years. You’ve grown into a lady fit to be the head of your own family.” Charles’ endearing words had gotten me confused and awkward.
Now sure what to say, I could only give him a brief nod as a response.
“Pops, I don’t think Roe remembers you,” Cole interjected.
“Oh! Right, of course, you wouldn’t. The last time I saw you, you were only this tall,” Charles paused and held up his hand up below his waist. “You were clinging to your father like glue whenever I visited.”
“You knew my father?” My voice was airy and breathless. It wasn’t a shock whether my Dad knew any Lycans. He was the Head of the Kynigan. He was responsible for keeping the peace not only with our people but also between our enemies.
“Yes. Though it might seem odd for your kind, your father and I were close friends. Why do you think a Lycan Clan this great lived so close to a Custodian’s, not to mention a Kynigan leader’s home? Our family was the one who instigated the peace between our races.”
“What? I didn’t… that wasn’t in our history…” I muttered in disbelief at the new found information.
“Actually, there was a belief theory about it. However, based on the documents we have, it was the ten ruling families who voted for peace. There’s even a blood contract to prove it.” Tony informed.
“Yes, but the family who was compassionate enough to talk with us was a Knightley,” Charles added.
“Do you have proof of that assumption?” Tony pressed with interest.
“A memory passed down from generations of Alphas was given this gift,” Charles responded seriously without batting an eye.
But Tony only found humor at his words. “Are you kidding me? That’s not proof.”
In the corner of my eye, I noticed Cole’s annoyance at Tony’s reaction. But I was more interested in Kaleb’s take on all of this. He was going to be Minister of the Custodian in the future. This could have a considerable effect on our relationship with the Lycans. What was going through his head?
As he saw through me, Kaleb finally spoke up. “Whether that’s the truth or not, this doesn’t answer anything with what’s happening with Roe.”
Charles regarded Kaleb for a moment before nodding in agreement. “Of course. What happened to your family nine years ago still haunted me in my dream, my dear. I assure you; my Clan had your back. It wasn’t only your family who was surprised that night. We were shocked by what happened as well.”
“Where you there when it…?” I was about to ask but trailed off as I felt my voice choke at the words.
“By the time we arrived, the house already had been engulfed with flames.” He paused like it was necessary. “I’m sorry, my dear.”
It was the first time I heard a Lycan apologize for something – and an Alpha at that. They were merciless killers. They held no remorse at what they do. However, my prejudiced way of thinking had been the result of what I’ve seen from my experience with their kind. Not until Cole, I’ve never met a Lycan capable of feeling sorry. And the look Charles Blackwell gave me, he seemed like he was sorry for being what he was, which speaks volume. Then I felt guilty. I felt anger. I felt empty. What do I say to him?
“You don’t have to tell me anything, Roe. I’m only sorry for not trying hard enough to avenge what happened to my friend. I’m sorry for not doing anything to stop that night.”
“My father couldn’t stop it, Mr. Blackwell. I don’t expect anyone could…” I muttered monotonously.
Charles gave me a sad smile in response.
After the short and emotional rekindling with Charles Blackwell, the room grew more and more crowded as Ash and Dan joined us as well. However, their visit was short since Charles asked the two to do a perimeter run in the area – a precaution.
“So is it true? Are you and Cole…?” Charles asked after the tension died down in the room. But his question created a different heat in the atmosphere.
“Yes.” I abruptly answered.
“This is interesting… and unexpected.”
“Do you have any idea why we are bonded, pops?” Cole jumped in.
“I’ve talked with your mother. We’ve linked a few possibilities, but it’s all just theories and hearsay. Between a Human and a Lycan is rare, that much is true, but never in history had there been between a Custodian and a Lycan.”
“Why us? Why now?” I groaned in frustration.
“I know wanted me to answer all of your questions, but in the end, I served nothing but more questions for you, my dear. Forgive me.” Charles gave me another apologetic look.
His expression still didn’t settle in my stomach. So I answered with a stiff smile and refrained from bringing it up again. Beside him, Cole’s expression changed. His jaw clenched and his gaze hardened.
“Cole? Is there something wrong?” I asked with worry.
Charles turned to his son at the same time he addressed him. “Dad, Ash caught a scent of two Roués at least three blocks from here. I don’t think this place is…”
“What?” Kaleb interjected, looking more alert than ever. “They’re here?”
“No. But they are close. Dan is tailing them.” Cole disregarded Kaleb’s hostility.
“Well, damn! If you hadn’t been sniffing around here, they might not have come close to…”
“Kaleb!” I called him out, watching as he slowly got worked up.
“It’s okay. I think the young Custodian is right. They might have followed my trail. But I’m sure they don’t know exactly where I am. However, this area might not be safe anymore.” Charles seemed apologetic for this action.
“What do you suggest for us to do then? We can’t just leave…” Kaleb pressed, staring him down.
Kaleb’s childish intimidation hardly fazed Charles. Though it was great he wasn’t offended by his action, Charles replied to his question professionally as possible.
“I’ll call Lockwood and tell him you’d all be staying over until he’s back.”
I’d somehow guessed what he was about to do next. But it still didn’t sit well in my stomach. As for the rest of the team, they were more vocal than I was.
“No!” Kaleb exclaimed.
“I agree with him.” Axel pointed at Kaleb, looking stressed for the first time in a while.
“I might be friends with some of you, but staying in a populated Lycan area isn’t something I put on my bucket list.” Tony lightly jested to calm the tension.
“If you’re worried something might happen to you, you have my word on all of your safety. And I’m not stupid enough to jeopardize my son’s Mate friends.” Charles reassured.
Axel peered at me. Kaleb and Tony followed. “What do you think, my lady?” Axel asked.
“I don’t mind where we go as long as we are together and safe. That’s all that matters to me the most right now.” I admitted truthfully.
Axel nodded before looking back at Charles. “I don’t care where as long as my lady is safe. But if something happens to her under your territory, we’re out of there within half an hour.”
“Of course. I’ll even lend you a car.”
There wasn’t much talking after the negotiation finished. Everyone had gone their separate ways to pack up while Kaleb remained in the living room to contact John about the change of plans. Since all of my things were hardly out of the bag, I was done within minutes. By half an hour, we all exited the apartment and headed towards our respected cars. Kaleb looked a bit annoyed as I was headed towards Cole’s Jeep. But having Axel with us eased up a bit of his frustration. Cole took the wheel with Charles seating at the front passenger seat. Axel and I sat at the back.
The trip back to the Blackwell compound was quiet. As soon as we arrived, everything started going into a fast-paced frenzy. Clarisse greeted me with a hug, and Chloe, Cole’s cousin, clung to me like we were the best of friends – to Cole’s dismay – as she escorted me inside the mansion. Gazing at the place for the second time, I’m still mesmerized at how grand and sophisticated it looked.
“I heard it already from Charles while he was in the apartment with all of you. I apologize we weren’t very helpful with what’s happening.” Clarisse whispered to me as she took Chloe’s place.
We then walked towards the living room – based on the interior décor of the room.
“How much did Mr. Blackwell told you?” I asked out of curiosity.
In response, Clarisse seemed a bit embarrassed and timid for some reason. “Actually, I picked on his mind while he was with you. You see dear; when Lycans are Mated, there are no boundaries, no secrets between the two. Both mind, body, and soul are one.”
After she finished her speech, I could hear Cole’s word echo. After we’ve mated, our connection will strengthen and we would no longer have secrets with each other.
“I see,” I muttered, unsure how to respond.
“Don’t worry. It won’t be as bad as you think. When I first heard about all of this, I nearly jumped the first ride out of town. But then I fell in love. No matter what magic was involved, I’m certain my feelings was my own. Even if we’ve met like any other human, I would have been in love with him still. Our species are just lucky to get this shortcut and hassle-free way of finding our true love.” She giggled and winked at me.
“That’s a nice way to look at it.”
“You’re both young and new at this. There’s no hurry,” Clarisse lovingly assured.
And for a moment, I saw a glimpse of the positive side of it. But then, as I turned and caught the gaze of my fellow Custodians, the feeling felt artificial. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t be soul bounded with a Lycan.
After we all gathered, there wasn’t much business talk we had to do. Kaleb and Charles had already talked with John over the phone. He had approved of our new living accommodation – which is under Charles. Axel was still left in-charge, giving another blow at Kaleb’s ego. I felt bad that he was no longer taking the shots given he had gone out of his way to give me this mission as my early eighteenth birthday present. All this time, I had done nothing but stress, annoy, and challenge the man. So I have to give him his due.
“Kaleb,” I called out. He was about to enter one of the guest room that was three doors down from mine. “Can we talk?”
He kept his hand on the doorknob as he glanced my way. “Maybe not now, Roe.”
“It’s not about…” I stopped before I said something that might ruin his mood. “I just wanted to say thank you for everything. And I’m sorry for making this into a painful mission than it should. Please keep in mind that I’m still on your side.”
He turned away, making it difficult for me to read his facial expression. “Yeah. But you’re not by my side anymore.” His voice was so low I might have misheard him. But I didn’t get the chance to ask him to speak up as he entered his room.
I wanted to follow him inside, but from how he hadn’t look at me in the eyes before he left, I knew there wasn’t much talking that could help me change my case. Since we were in speaking terms, I knew there was hope at patching up our dented friendship.
I wanted to skip lunch and lock myself in my new – borrowed – room. But around noon, I got a knock on my door. I was hesitant to answer, however it seemed the person on the other end of the door didn’t have the same opinion as I am about boundaries. With her short blonde hair neatly combed and a pale pink sundress, Chloe looked different and innocent than her forward and extroverted personality.
“Roe, are you dressed? Everyone’s ready to meet you.”
“Who’s everyone? I haven’t been informed about having anyone meeting me today,” I dryly countered.
“Don’t be a poor sport. You’ll be meeting some of the important people of the Clan. Hadn’t Aunt Clarisse told you?”
“No.” I bluntly replied.
Chloe huffed and pulled me away from my comfortable sitting position on top of the bed. Without even asking, she started opening my unpacked luggage and digging through my bland choice of clothes.
“Don’t you own anything other than pants and cotton shirts?” Chloe groaned in frustration as she had searched half my stash of clothes.
“And you only own sneakers and boots?”
“God! We’re going to my place. I’ll let you borrow my dress.” She announced and left the mountain of clothes, dragging me along with her.
I knew there was no point arguing with someone like her. So I inquired another interest instead. “So how did you and Dan meet?” I asked hoping to pull her attention away from me
“We all go to the same high school. And he’s one of my Dad’s top student.” Chloe nonchalantly answered, her grip on my arm hadn’t loosened for a moment.
“Your dad’s a teacher?”
“Teacher? No. He’s the Delta of the Clan. He handles in training everyone, especially the elite.”
“I see. So he’s Cole’s Delta by default. Since I knew Ash was the Beta’s son, I presume so was Dan.” I observed.
“Actually, it’s my brother who’d be taking over my father. But a Delta’s position is indispensable and given to the strongest fighter, and on some occasion, it is given to the Alpha’s trusted member of the Clan next to the Beta.”
“Oh, wow, I didn’t know that.”
“Well, now you know. Are there any more questions you want to ask to distract me? Because I don’t easily get distracted.”
“Unless it’s your Mate within close proximity.”
“Okay, that was one of the rare occasion I get sidetracked. I hadn’t seen Dan for days until yesterday. Cole’s been hogging and bossing him around. It’s really frustrating.” She grumbled.
I had to chuckle at her child-like response.
We snuck out of the house without walking past anyone, which was a surprise from how crowded it felt when we’ve arrived. Chloe’s house was only three doors down from Cole’s place. By the time she put me with appropriate clothes – based on her judgment – and on our way back to the mansion, the front lawn had collected a handful of people entering the main door. Per Chloe’s word, to not ruin the surprise, she escorted me at the back door and back to my room. We only made it halfway when Cole and the whole gang were idly standing in front of my room.
“What are you guys doing…?” I trailed off as they all turned in unison at our arrival.
“Where were you?” Cole was first to speak up before Kaleb followed. “What the hell were you thinking, leaving the house without telling any one of us?”
“Sorry,” Chloe muttered beside me. But her voice got drown out with more worried inquiries from my friends.
“My lady, where have you been? We’ve been looking for you.” Axel added.
“Not a good time to disappear, Roe.” Tony chortled, which got him a glare from Kaleb.
“Jeez… I’m not stupid, guys. And I can take care of myself. Besides, I was a couple of doors down at Chloe’s place. She didn’t like my clothes, so she let me borrow one.” I gestured at my new outfit, a pastel blue, sleeveless cocktail dress cut too short for comfort. But the design and puffy skirt made it more bearable to wear.
Like they were seeing me for the first time, all four of them stared at me wide-eyed. And for the first time in a long time, I never felt more conscious with myself than I am now.
Hello everyone! Thank you for your patience and for reading the story. I truly appreciate it. Please let me know what you think so far and leave a comment or a review.