Custodian Chronicles: Lone Red

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There was hardly any verbal exchange once we arrived at the bench outside for lunch. A few minutes later, Dan arrives with a takeout meal for five people. I sat in between Cole and Axel while Ash and Dan sat across us. As we ate, another looming silence grew in our group. I finally had enough after munching half of my sandwich.

“I know this isn’t a situation we’re all used to. Believe me, I’ve been in worse cases. So, could we try to be civil and talk?” I offered.

“Roe, I don’t think there’s anything remotely right about any of this. But I do have questions that needed answering.” Axel informed in defeat.

Across from us, Ash cleared his throat and put down his burger. “I never thought there would come a day I’d agree with a Custodian. And I have questions as well, Cole.”

“Me too.” Dan seconded, keeping his words short.

Beside me, I watched Cole sigh and grabbed his beverage. He drank a mouthful before addressing them. “I apologize for not explaining things clearly with you, Ash – Dan, but I know you get it.” He paused to take a deep breath. “She’s my Mate.”

Ash blinked in surprise but otherwise didn’t comment. Dan reacted nearly the same, but he only arched his eyebrow. Beside me, I heard Axel’s lack of words at hearing those words again.

“But how is that possible? She’s a… Custodian.” Ash finally said the obvious.

“I’ve pondered on it last night since I made sure of it yesterday…”

“Which I didn’t approve by the way,” I interjected dryly.

“I’m sorry. I don’t usually kiss strangers, but you know how it pulled us. I couldn’t resist…”

“You what?” Axel exclaimed in outrage, slamming his hand on the wooden table. His outburst startled us, attracting everyone’s attention.

“Axel,” I warned. A bit baffled at his response. “It’s okay. He didn’t do much after it.”

However, Axel wasn’t listening to me. His anger was directed towards Cole. Though I was glad to sit between them, if Axel was going to punch him, my position was at a disadvantage. I was in the line of fire. His fist would come in contact with me. As I watch his hand clench, I waited for impact. But then, he huffed in frustration and turned away from Cole and me. To reassure him, I placed a hand on his shoulder and gave it a light squeeze – telling him I was grateful.

Ash redirected the conversation back to the topic a moment later. “Have you told anyone about this excluding us?”

“No. I haven’t…” Cole admitted at the same time I replied, “Only Axel knows. But I did ask our supervisor about the Mate principle.”

“When did you have a talk with Sir Lockwood?” Axel interjected again. From his behavior today, Axel was unexpectedly talkative than his usual self. But I knew his reaction and uncharacteristic behavior was in response to all of this. He was distressed and unsure of the situation as I was.

“I woke up at the crack of dawn and he happened to be the only person awake in an open conversation.” I nonchalantly answered. As I tried to drop it, Axel wasn’t in the mood on agreeing my subtle hint.

“And what did you say to him?” He pressed.

“As I said, I asked about the Lycan’s Mate principle. I got the gist of it, though nothing about the possibility of ever being with a Custodian…” I trailed off, peering in the corner of my eye towards Cole, who was studying me.

“Cole, man, I’m happy that you finally found your Mate. But this won’t go well with the members of the Clan. I’m not sure some of the guys inside would be as happy as I am for you. Dan and I have your vote, but you need to tell the Alpha and Luna about this,” Ash prompted. “And you have to do it as early as now.”

Cole remained silent as he regarded Ash’s words. So I took the opportunity to ask my set of questions.

“Is there any way to break this?” Saying those words didn’t settle well on my tongue, but I knew Axel wanted to ask as well.

“No. I’m not letting you leave me.” Cole hastily reacted with clenched teeth.

“I’m not sure I can,” I whispered in admission. Hearing him sigh in content, his irritation was gone the moment it came. “But still, I deserve to know all possibilities.”

I expected Cole to reply, but Ash answered for him. “It’s unheard of a Lycan to lose the connection with their Mate, much more finding a way to break it.”

“I see… But you must have heard something…” I trailed off, feeling Cole’s mood plummet again. His mood swings were worse than a girl on her monthly visit.

“No. There isn’t. Especially with an Alpha, it is unheard of.”

Though I left no disappointment knowing that tidbit of information, but if the time came when I need to leave, I’m not sure I could. Even now, I’ve not fully grasped this change in my life. Lycans were drilled into my head as the enemy, the monsters in our nightmare – which was the case for me.

But now, because of some magical influence – an irony on my hatred towards the species that killed my family – I’m considering on altering my life for it. But the attraction was inevitable. It was slowly clouding my judgment like a hormonal teenager in love. The irrational side of me could only think of ways on how to deal with the situation and keep this specific Lycan in my life.

“Why is this happening to me now? Why me?” I hadn’t realized I muttered those words aloud.

Feeling everyone’s eye on me, my face reddened in embarrassment.

“Roe, I want to say that I’m sorry, but I’m not. I’m happy that I found you. And I’m not going to regret fighting for you from now on.” Cole confidently declared.

“We’re always with you, Cole.” Ash second while Dan nodded at the same time.

Beside me, Axel was quiet again. Peering at him, he placed his elbow on top of the table and leaned his chin on his hand. He looked like his serious and silent self again. But I understood he was thinking as well. Upon hearing the Lycan’s statement, a lot of things might have been running through his mind.

“Axel?” I called out his attention after his prolonged silence.

He finally looked at me, his eyes still held a calculating look. “I don’t want to force you to do anything for me, you know that. Whatever you decided, you should decide it for yourself.” I continued.

“You know I couldn’t do that, my lady. Since that night, I have vowed to serve you and only you. Whatever you do or choose, I will be right with you.” Axel avowed. His words warmed my heart. But this wasn’t the first time he told them. Nine years ago, his words seemed impulsive and childish, given he was ten and I was nine – the reason why I didn’t take them seriously before. But now, this wasn’t a joke. And he was serious.

“I know talking some sense to you would be futile. But thank you, Axel.”

Suddenly a hand wrapped around my waist, pulling me back from Axel. I gasped in surprise but then composed myself when I felt a rush of warmth underneath Cole’s arms. I slightly twist sideways and abruptly regretted it once I caught a glimpse of his lips so close to me. I hid my embarrassment by looking away; praying none of the spectators at our table caught me blushing.

“Glad to have you on board, Custodian. However, even if you are loyal and serving my Mate, I couldn’t tolerate you being this close to her.” Cole pointed out possessively.

“That is not my concern. I’ll stay close to her unless she ordered me not to.” Axel replied boldly and glared at Cole.

I felt Cole’s arm flexed in response to Axel’s word. In fear for Cole’s safety – which I’m surprised it crossed my mind first than my fear for Axel’s well being – I placed my hand on his arm hoping to calm him down. Instantly, his body relaxed in response to my touch.

“Axel’s my right hand and aid. I’m not going to tell him to go away.” I informed firmly.

There was a brief pause before Cole replied. “Okay, as long as he knows his boundaries.”

I chuckled at his obvious jealousy. After that declaration and brief conversation, a comfortable aura transpired upon our group. The tension between Lycans and Custodians was gone like the gap between the two species hadn’t existed. And somehow, Axel started conversing with Ash like they were old friends. When lunch break was over, we all headed inside as Cole escorted Axel and me to our next class. At first, I was hesitant for fear of being seen by Kaleb and Tony, but then Axel received a text from Tony asking for our whereabouts and their location. To my luck, they were already in class a few minutes before we entered the building.

Once we reached the door to my class, Cole quickly pulled me aside while Axel patiently lingered a few paces behind us. I could feel his protective gaze boring through the back of my head.

“Can we meet after school?”

“I don’t think it’s possible. And what Axel had done for me during lunch was already a stretch. We could still see each other tomorrow for literature class.” I suggested, trying to make the rejection less painful for both of us.

“But that’s not enough for me, now that I know I have you.” He admitted without shame.

“We just met, Cole, and I knew about what this is,” I paused and gestured between us, “like yesterday. Please give me time.”

“I thought you’ve grasped what we have. And what I’m asking is for you to spend time with me to get to know me better. Maybe it’ll help you ease up on your opinion about us,” he argued.

“Not right away, Cole. Please take this in stride and not push it. I may tolerate this, but I’m not fully accepting it.”

“What do you mean?” His eyebrow creased in concentration.

“It means I need time to think it through,” I restated again.

“Then think it through while I spend time and get to know you. If you couldn’t do it today, then how about tomorrow?” He pressed.

“Why are you desperately trying to keep me with you?” I asked and dodged his question.

I watched him trying to compose himself and gain back some control like he was nearly at the edge of anger. “I’m an Alpha. Usually, once we found our Mate, we don’t let go. Since yesterday, I’ve been trying as much as I could not drag you with me back home. Though you might be able to ignore the pull, the magic, I couldn’t Roe. In my bone, I’m pulled towards you. And not being with you is like drowning myself in a muddy lake…”

“I’m sorry… I didn’t know.” I felt a pang of pain by his words.

“Don’t. Please don’t pity me. It’s how we are. So please… don’t… don’t push me away. That’s all I’m asking.”

My heart tightened how his voice cracked. I knew I couldn’t give him what he wanted. Considering our unusual situation, what we have wasn’t rational though my heart told me another. “Don’t think I don’t feel anything Cole because I’m struggling as well. We were trained to hide emotions in front of our enemy… yet you…”

“But I’m not your enemy, Roe.” He interjected painfully.

“I know… you aren’t. Our people don’t think…”

“Roe, we should head inside. The teacher just walked in.” Axel interrupted, tapping my shoulder.

I had been too absorbed in our conversation to notice the people around me. Finally, I pried my eyes away from Cole and turned towards Axel.

“Right. Thanks, Axel. Let’s head inside.” I agreed and slightly looked back at Cole. “Thanks for walking us to our class,” I said to him.

With a nod, he slowly backed away from me. “Well then, I’ll see you two around.” After saying those words, he started walking in the opposite direction.

I lingered for a moment, watching him moving further away. My heart started to sink, and like as he described it, I slowly felt I’ve drowned in a muddy lake.

“Roe?” Axel called out to me, bringing me slightly out from the feeling of suffocation.

With a feigned smile, I walked ahead of him in our room. For the rest of the afternoon, Axel and I didn’t speak about what happened during lunch. Even as the day dragged on and school was over, we hadn’t brought up about Mates or Lycans. However, whenever I snuck a peek in his direction, I could see the creased between his eyebrows. He was thinking like I am. But what was he thinking about?

Everything seemed to be quiet and tranquil until we regrouped in the parking lot, ready to head home. I somehow heard my name being called out behind me. The familiar voice made me stiffen yet I pretended not to recognize whom it was from. I hastily grabbed Axel’s arm, pulling him closer to me.

“Axel, stop him before he gets close to us,” I whispered in command before letting him go.

Without any reply, Axel broke away from the group and headed in the direction of the school building. Tony was first to react as his confused gaze followed Axel. In front of me, Kaleb was unaware of the interruption. Expectantly, Tony walked closer.

“What was that?” He inquired, his gaze still locked behind us while we continued heading towards our car.

“Nothing. Axel is handling it.” I evasively replied.

“Is that the Alpha’s son?” I was able to catch his words, which was nearly above a whisper.

“You’re just seeing things.”

“No. I’m sure that…”

“I said you’re just seeing things.” I insisted, cutting him off.

“Roe? Is there something…?” Tony trailed off when Kaleb turned around.

He studied the two of us in confusion before addressing the obvious. “Where’s Axel?”

Tony was about to reply when I heard footsteps walking behind us. Without peering to my side, I knew Axel successfully dodged Kaleb from noticing Cole. But I couldn’t say the same thing towards Tony.

“Where were you?” Kaleb asked while Tony remained silent, waiting for Axel’s answer.

“I saw a classmate who borrowed a pen from me. I went and got it back.” He lied smoothly without giving anything away.

“Right. Okay… then let’s go.” Kaleb looked at Axel suspiciously before dropping it. He then proceeded towards the driver seat while Axel and Tony lingered beside me for a second.

“What was that?” Tony hissed and kept his voice low.

“I’ll tell you but not when Kaleb’s there,” I decided.

“Are you sure about this, my lady?” Axel inquired, scrutinizing Tony.

“He saw, Axel. It’s okay.”

“I’m sorry, my lady. I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

“It’s okay. It wasn’t your fault. He’d gone out of the line.”

“I don’t know what’s happening, but there’s something big you’re hiding from us. And hiding it from Kaleb would be bad.” Tony interjected, glancing between Axel and me.

“It’s my decision whether who I tell my secret, Tony.” I defended before getting in the front passenger seat.

Axel followed and entered the car a moment later, leaving Tony to his thoughts. Still in shock, Tony lingered too long, which got him a good scolding from Kaleb. On the drive back to the apartment, it was evident from those aware of the situation felt the tension inside the car. But Kaleb’s obliviousness on what happened made thing less suffocating. Once we reached the apartment, Kaleb dismissed us for a few hours to rest before regrouping for dinner at six.

I took the extra hour to clean up, worked on fewer assignments and then lay in bed while thinking about the conversation during lunch. I couldn’t wrap around my head that some magical attraction clouded my emotional judgment. How could I be this attuned to a creature I was raised to loathe and kill? And how could I have emotion towards the same creature? Yet no matter how I deny it, my heart and body told me otherwise. There was a limit to how much I could pretend it wasn’t real.

I hadn’t noticed the time as I continued lying in bed. It wasn’t until I heard a knock on my door, I was pulled back to reality. I peered at the digital clock on my bedside table and cussed since I was already a few minutes late for our dinner meeting.

When I opened the door, Tony was there rather than Axel, who I expected to see. For a moment, we could only stare at each other in silence. Then Tony cleared his throat and spoke first.

“Can I talk to you for a few minutes? Kaleb wouldn’t mind. They’re waiting for the food to be delivered, and Sir Lockwood to arrive.”

I nodded rather than verbally answering. I sidestep and gestured him inside my room. He hesitated for a moment, studying the nearly empty and clean interior. Though it’s been two weeks since we moved, I only unpacked my clothes and necessary necessities. There was no point in putting up posters and pictures in the room. I would only occupy for a limited time. It’s best to be ready when we needed to swiftly leave.

“What do you want to talk about Tony?” I inquired after closing the door behind me.

“What was that with Axel and Cole Blackwell in the parking lot? And don’t lie about this, Roe. I’m not easily swayed like Kaleb or Axel. I could tell if you’re bluffing.”

“Of course, Tony. I have no intention of lying to you.”

“So…” he offered when I hadn’t jumped right into the story.

“Before I say anything, there is one thing I need to know from you. I need to know what you’re willing to do for me.” I admitted firmly.

“Why? What does this have to do with what I saw?” He asked in confusion.

“It has to do whether you trust me and I trust you not to tell Kaleb about it.”

He regarded my words before a moment and composed himself. “Okay. But I need to know what kind of information it is and decide whether or not it’s best not to tell him. It’s all I could offer you, Roe.”

I pursed my lips but didn’t question his proposal. It was Tony’s admirable trait, his loyalty, and his word.

“Okay. But you have to let me finish telling the story first before you jump to conclusions.”

“That’s fair,” he nodded and walked a few paces towards the edge of my bed. After he sat down and settled himself, I grounded my feet and regarded him seriously.

“Cole Blackwell is my Mate.”

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