Between Three Worlds

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Chapter 4

Three days later, Emma sat at the table and watched him as he stood at the stove. Lucas was making her, and she quotes, ‘the best damn grilled cheese she’d ever have.’

After tasting his cooking for the past few days, she was inclined to believe him. He was an incredible cook. Emma still felt a bit weird about it all though. She wasn’t used to this...

Currently, he was talking about silly trivial things, mostly his pack life back home. Emma listened quietly and she found she liked it when he talked.

She had a feeling his ramblings were mostly to fill the silence since Emma couldn’t find it in herself to talk much in turn, but everything he said, no matter how inconsequential, she couldn’t help but find interesting. Emma had no real knowledge about how a pack functioned in the human world.

When he did try to pull some conversation out of her, he kept his questions in the realm of the mundane; like what food did she like, and what TV shows she watched. He seemed to be respecting her privacy when it came to the big stuff, and she was grateful for it.

Emma leaned forward and rested her chin on her palms as she let her eyes slowly roam over his figure from behind. He was hard not to look at, something Emma was finding a bit irritating, especially considering she had no intention of this going anywhere.

Emma glanced away from him before her thoughts could betray her again. She couldn’t deny there had been strong sexual tension in the past few days, but she made sure his stay was remaining strictly platonic. Lucas slept on the couch, even though she’d offered him the bed. He had to be well over 6′0, and obviously didn’t fit well on the couch, but he insisted.

In the past few days they ate, talked about silly unimportant stuff like he was now, and they watched a good amount of TV and movies to pass the time.

Despite desperately wanting to not like this, Emma couldn’t help it.

“All right. Take a bite, and tell me that’s not awesome.” Lucas said with a large grin as he set the plate down in front of her.

Emma glanced down at the plate of sandwiches, and carefully selected one to take a hearty bite of. The cheese blend was stringy and melty and delicious, and the bread had a perfect soft crunch.

“Well?” Lucas asked. Emma gave a slight nod, covering her mouth with her hand as she chewed. He just flashed her a knowing grin and picked one up himself as he took a seat beside her.

“The trick is... use different cheeses and make sure they’re fresh, none of that processed shit. Also a dash of cream cheese inside, and mayo mixed with butter outside... that makes it decadent.” Lucas grinned. Emma watched him for a moment, he was practically glowing as he spilled his secrets.

“Who taught you how to cook?” Emma finally asked.

“Who else? My mom. I’m the youngest of ten brothers and six sisters. I didn’t get a lot of one-on-one time with the parents but when I was little and she’d be in the kitchen, I liked to help her. It was kind of... our time.” Lucas said.

Emma watched his expression. She couldn’t help but feel a bit strange. He hadn’t got that personal in any of their conversations.

“You have any siblings?” Lucas asked as he took another bite. Emma frowned, it was the first time he’d asked her anything to do with her personal life. Emma was quiet for a moment as she considered whether to answer or not.

“Yeah... five half-brothers and a half-sister, but I wasn’t close with them,” Emma said as she took another bite of her sandwich.

“Why not?” He asked, his mouth half-full. Emma felt suddenly very awkward.

“My step-mother didn’t like me much. She didn’t let them near me.” Emma said. The mate her father took upon his return to his pack barely tolerated Emma. Despite everything her father did try to make the pack accept her. None of them did.

“What pack were you from?” Lucas continued. Emma glanced away from him. The question immediately made her uneasy.

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to... I’m just curious. I know just about every large pack in the country.” Lucas said. Emma kept her eyes averted. She felt weirdly uncomfortable.

“I don’t think you’d know them. They’re not in the US and they don’t interact with other packs. They stay to the wilderness.” Emma said and she hoped that would end it.

“No pack surname?” Lucas asked. He was clearly still curious. Emma sighed.

“Nothing I can pronounce as a human,” Emma said uneasily. Lucas quirked a brow, and she watched his expression change to realization.

The pack she was from was feral, meaning they were a group who chose to live their lives in wolf form, far away from humans.

“Whooaa... wait. Are you saying you were literally, not figuratively, raised by wolves?” Lucas said, his tone a bit more amused than she cared to hear.

“Jeezes... how are you so normal?” Lucas asked. Emma was quiet again for a long moment before she sighed.

“I was born here in the states... but when I was just over a year old, my father took me back to his home. I don’t remember my mother, but since I was here first, I’d learned language. I also... couldn’t stay shifted like everyone else, it was too hard for me, I wasn’t meant for it... and my father would shift to skin with me every once in a while away from the rest of the pack, and we’d talk. I was more comfortable in skin form, I guess because I am half-human. He would tell me about my mother, and how he’d loved her... but he couldn’t stay in the human world anymore... He described it to me just like I had trouble staying as a wolf, he had trouble staying as a human. He said he didn’t want to take me from her, but he was afraid that if he’d left me, I wouldn’t have been able to cope without a pack... and that as a lone female, I may have put my mother and I both in danger when I came into my heat. I think he truly thought he did what was best...” Emma said. She felt Lucas’s eyes on her, but Emma kept hers averted.

“Anyway... there was a remote mountain village near our pack. They had a school along the forest’s edge. I would go there and hide in the bushes to listen to the lessons... and I’d sometimes find pencils and paper in the trash and try to follow along.” Emma started, but stopped herself before she went any further.

She felt her chest tighten at the memories that stirred. Of being alone, looking in on a world she so desperately wanted to join. She forcefully pushed those thoughts away. Lucas looked contemplative, and a long silence followed. Emma went back to her sandwich.

“So... how did you end up here?” Lucas finally asked. His tone was careful. It was obvious he was trying to tread lightly.

“I ran away,” Emma said bluntly. Lucas was looking at her carefully now, and finally, Emma glanced over to meet his eyes. He had a strange expression on his face.

“Where did you go?” Lucas asked. Emma felt the immediate tightness in her chest. She paused for a moment, unsure if she could continue.

“You don’t need to talk about anything you don’t want to,” Lucas repeated gently. Emma looked over at him and studied his face for a moment. She frowned.

She felt like she should be uncomfortable about where this conversation had gone, but weirdly, she didn’t want to stop talking. She barely knew him, but he made her feel so calm, she couldn’t explain it, and she found she wanted to tell him, to talk about the hardships of her life. She’d never had anyone she could talk to about it...

“I don’t want to push you...” He continued. Emma looked away again and sighed.

“I skimmed a bunch of towns, picking up clothes and money wherever I could manage to steal some. Mostly from houses after people left for work. I really didn’t know where to go, but I traveled south along the river and ended up in Montana. I lived off thieving for months until I was caught by a man in Browning. They had a farm, just outside the town. He didn’t call the police... he and his wife, they took me in. I think they thought I was just some runaway from the foster system.” Emma said. There was a long silence.

“How old were you?” Lucas asked.

“Fifteen.” Emma said.

“What happened? Why did you leave?” Lucas continued. It was clear he was trying to gently urge her. Emma licked her lips a bit. She felt another slowly building tightness in her chest.

“Things... happened that I... I just...” Emma started, but couldn’t continue.

“I’m not ready to talk about it,” Emma said with firmness.

“It’s okay...” Lucas said.

“So... is your mother still alive? I’m guessing she’s where you got all your... extra talent from.” Lucas asked curiously. His tone became awkward toward the end.

He never seemed to use the words ‘witch’ or ‘magic’. Emma couldn’t blame him. Witches were generally not trusted throughout all the supernatural world. She didn’t have to be in the human world long to glean that was a common theme.

“As far as I know, she is... and yes,” Emma said with a bit more contempt then she intended. Lucas watched her for a moment, before he asked his next question.

“Do you know where she is?” Lucas asked. Emma fidgeted a bit.

“The general area... yes,” Emma said. Again, a brief silence followed.

“So then... why didn’t you go to her? Couldn’t she help you?” Lucas asked. Emma ground her teeth a bit.

“I... don’t know. I don’t know her... and I guess I’m just... angry at her. I always thought she’d come get me. I was so miserable, and it was something I hoped for everyday. That if she had really wanted me, she’d come find me. I had hoped for it for years... I know it’s petty anger but I just... I don’t want to see her... besides, my father said she didn’t practice magic. She left her coven, and wanted nothing to do with any of it.” Emma said. Lucas watched her curiously.

“Did your father know? About.. your.. yunno.” Lucas asked. Emma took a slow breath and felt a weird buildup of tears.

“No. I hid it from everyone... my father most of all. I was ashamed... and scared of it.” Emma said. Lucas watched her carefully but said nothing.

“I... don’t understand why you still want to be around me... knowing I’m...” Emma said slowly and trailed off. It was obvious Lucas had an aversion to even the thought of it. He couldn’t even say the words...

“Because it’s not what defines you. I can see that.” Lucas said. Emma frowned at him.

“You can’t know that. You don’t know me.” Emma said quietly as she looked away. She felt his fingers gently brush up onto her chin and he guided her face back to him. Emma frowned at him.

“I just... I don’t understand. Why me?” Emma said.

“Honestly... I can’t explain it, but from the moment I saw you, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.” Lucas said.

Emma felt sick to her stomach. Had she done something to him? Emma immediately thought back to the first time she met him and she frantically searched the memory for anything she may have inadvertently done, but she found nothing in her recollection.

She’d arrived in a town just outside Willamette after she was run out of Bridgeport. She had been run out of just about everywhere she went and had hoped if she stayed away from the Gifala main territory, they might leave her alone.

She had barely been there a week before her hopes were dashed. The Gifala Alpha, Remy, two of his border guards and Lucas paid her a visit.

It had been a shock to her that they hadn’t come to tell her to leave, but to offer to let her join them.

She’d never met another Alpha before, it had been a strange encounter. Lucas hadn’t done any of the talking, but he had stared at her the entire time. She remembered clearly feeling a strange emotion when they’d briefly locked eyes, but she knew for sure she hadn’t done anything. Were there even love spells? She had no idea.

“Do you not feel the same?” Lucas asked with a strange tone. Emma glanced away from him as she tried to sort out her feelings. It was true she’d thought of him often but she didn’t know if that was because he had become a constant bother, or because she felt a similar connection.

“I... I don’t know,” Emma said honestly. She expected some kind of negative reaction from him, but he just grinned.

“That’s better than a no,” Lucas said confidently. Emma gave him an odd look.

“You are very strange,” Emma said.

“Thank you... so are you. And in that case, we must be meant for each other. So I say you stop resisting me so we can have a whole litter of strange ginger babies.” Lucas said with another grin.

Emma watched him for a moment and despite herself, she couldn’t help but smile.

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