Fever Claim

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Sixteen

Rose

After school finished, my mom had called me and asked me to run home and grab the French cream puffs she made and left at home. I was to bring it to her at the packhouse. I rarely went to the packhouse, since the packhouse was usually very crowded throughout the day. I tried to avoid large crowds as much as possible. However, this was my mom we were talking about. She needed me and that triumphed social anxiety.

I walked up to the asphalt cemented driveway towards the packhouse. There were a total of two entrances. One was the front entrance, and the other went around back and led to the kitchen. I decided to avoid meeting people in the main lobby, and detoured to the back of the packhouse.

Several pack guards that were watching the packhouse looked at me when they saw me appear behind the open wood gates. Their nostrils twitched to take in my scent, to see if I was a friend or foe. Once they recognized the pack scent coming from me, they went back to their guarding duties as if I was never there.

The back door opened, and my mom came rushing out with a tray in her hand. She walked over to the grill on the white back porch. She was always in the zone when she was cooking, and failed to notice me.

“Hi mom,” I announced as I jogged up the steps to her.

She turned around and exhaled in relief.

“Oh, thank god you are here.” She took the desserts from my hands.

“Everyone is running around rampant trying to get ready for the Alpha’s guests. I just don’t have enough hands. Can you please go inside and deliver the drinks in the middle aisle counter to the Alpha’s guest dining room?” she pleaded in desperation.

I wanted to say no because I did my job delivering the cream puffs. I wanted to go home and read, living in solitude until the next day when I had to face people again at school.

“Okay,” I huffed, slumping my shoulders and walking inside.

I didn’t even bother to change my clothes. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but you know what, this wasn’t my job, and I was doing it anyway.

I walked inside the grand Alpha kitchen. It was like they owned their very own restaurant. Several stoves and ovens were running. People were chopping vegetables and working furiously at their stations. My eyes swept over them quickly before I found the drinks. I made my way around people and picked up the tray.

Go to the guest dining room, give them the drinks, and go home., I gave myself a mental pep-talk before walking out of the kitchen.

The Alpha’s packhouse was very grand. It could hold up to thirty people, almost like a hotel. The house was decorated with a white and gray contrast for walls and trim. Flower and landscape photographs hung from the walls. The Alpha’s guest dining room was not that far.

It was down the left hall and through the white double doors. I walked up to the door, moved the tray onto one arm, and opened the door. My eyes moved from the tray to the people inside.

My breath stuck in my throat. Nerves started hitting me like sticks and stones. Immediately, I cast my eyes downward. Too many people. Just too many people.

The room quieted down and my anxiety shot up another tenfold.

Breathe, Rose.

Shakily, I moved the tray back to my hands and walked over to them. I sat the tray down on the serving table and slowly passed a drink to everyone. I could feel Jude’s eyes on me.

The Alpha’s guest dining room was an exquisite gray dining room that had a white and gray oval pedestal dining table with light skirted dining chairs around it. The dining table was positioned underneath a simple light chandelier. The dining table was located in front of a large bay window covered with white sheer curtains and framed by a gray wall.

In the seats around the dining table were Alpha Hunter’s parents, Beta Ace’s parents, Jude’s parents, Alpha Hunter, Beta Ace, Jude, and four other people I did not know.

Avoid looking at people.

When I finally finished serving them their drinks, I took a step back and whispered in a small voice, “Is there anything else I can get you?”

“You are fine, Rosemary,” Luna Mikaela said gently.

I looked at her from underneath my eyelashes.

“I am surprised to see you here tonight, Rosemary. Did your mother call you for help?” Alpha Jacob, Alpha Hunter’s dad, asked.

“Yes,” I answered in a closed-ended answer, in the hope that he would release me from questioning and stop sending me intense scrutinizing looks. I couldn’t take it. My body was heating up from too much tension.

“I-I have to go back. Excuse me,” I muttered before spinning on my feet and practically running out of the dining room.

I made it into the kitchen. My mom must have seen my distress because she came running over with a glass of apple juice. She handed it to me.

“Thank you for helping me out.” She rubbed my back.

Sweets usually calms my anxiety which is why she gave me a glass of sugary apple juice. I lifted the glass cup to my lips but stopped when I heard my mom gasp loudly. She ran to the other side of the kitchen and scolded a kitchen staff who almost tripped over her feet and ruined a tray of perfectly good plates of fine dining appetizers.

She took it away from the kitchen staff and carried it over to me. I could see the intention in her eyes.

“Mom, no,” I shook my head just as she came to stand before me with a tray filled with plates.

“Please, Rose.”

I sat my cup of apple juice down.

“I don’t want to do this,” I argued, “have someone else do it.”

“Everyone is too flustered-”

"I am flustered!” I whispered,pointing at my chest.

“Rose, just help me with this and I will give you a hundred dollars to buy any books you want.” My mom knew how to get to me. She was a manipulator! I wanted to scream and die right in front of her, but there were so many books I had on my wishlist.

“Fine,” I growled before moving to grab my glass cup of apple juice.

I gulped it down quickly. I was surprised that this large glass of apple juice was bubbly and delicious. I wondered if my mom had learned something new to make juice. I kind of liked it.

Immediately, my muscles started to relax, and the anxiety slowly left me. I took the tray from my mom before walking out of the kitchen and back in the direction of the dining room. The warm bubbly feeling began spreading all over my body, and I felt great .

With a giggle, I knocked and opened the double doors again. This time, I met everyone’s eyes with a bright smile. Jude’s eyes narrowed in on my face almost immediately. Giggling once more, and feeling a lot better than before, I entered the room.

Again, I set the tray down on the serving table before carefully placing the food on the dining table. The conversation in the room continued and I took the opportunity to boldly look at the guests. I could feel Alpha powers coming from the two middle-aged people, while the other two strangers were a lot younger, seeming to be around my age. I thought the girls were pretty, with light blonde hair that reminded me of the sun.

I didn’t realize I was staring until Jude cleared his throat. My eyes flew to him. He pointed with his eyes to the plate I still had on my hand.

Oops! I forgot to put the plate on the table.

I placed the last plate of appetizers in front of them.

“So, Katie and Georgia are reaching their maturity soon. I can’t wait for them to find their mates. Katie will be holding the Alpha title, so I do hope she receives a nice strong mate like Gamma Judah to be her mate.”

I stopped in my tracks . My back stiffened, and my wolf’s ears perked. Apparently, she did not like hearing her mate’s name in the same sentence as a juvenile’s name .

I forced myself to walk to the serving table. I grabbed the tray and gripped it tightly. Just before I left, I heard adults say they were hoping to pair Georgia up with Hunter, as Hunter had not found his mate yet. Apparently, Georgia and Katie would be staying with the pack for the next two days, in hopes of finding their mates.

I had to resist the urge to fling insults at them. I knew their intentions. They wanted to make sure that Alpha Hunter’s and Gamma Judah’s wolves would recognize the mate bond. Little did they know, Gamma Judah was already taken!

I stomped my way back to the kitchen. I couldn’t stop pouting. I didn’t like the feelings inside of me. Noticing that there were some more drinks that looked like the one my mother had given me, I walked over and gulped down two so quickly I had to take a step back and blink several times. I liked the bubbly sensation more than the bitter emotions inside of me.

I sat the glass cups down and couldn’t stop a giggle from escaping my lips. The staff member that my mother had scolded earlier came up to me.

“Can you bring this to the dining room?”

Obviously, she didn’t want to get in trouble again. I offered her a brilliant smile and nodded my head. I hoped my smile would be infectious, and that she would smile back at me, but she just gave me a weird look before walking away.

Never mind her. I was feeling amazing.

I walked out of the kitchen and back to the dining room. Once again, Jude’s eyes were on me as I entered . He was always looking at me. I looked right back at him, as if I was engaging him in a silent stare down. He arched an eyebrow as I neared the table.

I placed the food on the serving table for the third time.

“Rosemary, darling, thank you for helping your mother out tonight,” Luna said from behind me.

“Oh, I had no choice,” I giggled.

I heard some responding laughs sound from around the table. I picked up the delicious, savory, aromatic plate of food and placed it in front of my Alpha before continuing onto the next person.

“I heard your mother telling me that you wanted to major in supernatural medicine,” Luna started a conversation with me.

“Supernatural medicine, that is an excellent field.” The unknown Luna chimed in.

“Yes, well, that will require me to travel outside of the pack for eight years.” I shrugged nonchalantly.

A deep rumble came from behind me, and my spine tingled with awareness. It was so quick and faint, I was not sure if anyone had heard it. I spun around to see Jude glaring at me.

“Katie is a true born leader. I have seen her blossom and become such a beautiful, kind, and justified young woman. I think any male will be truly blessed to have her as his mate.” The Alpha redirected the attention back to his daughter.

“If she was to have someone like Gamma Judah by her side, imagine the possibility and strength it will bring to both packs.” I rolled my eyes. Beta Ace and Alpha Hunter laughed. They must have seen my reaction.

I bit my tongue and sat the plate in front of Luna. She turned and took hold of my arm to stop me from returning to my duties. Warmth and comfort spread from her touch. Her blue eyes softened, and she gave me a warm smile.

“How is schooling coming along, Rosemary?” she asked.

I frowned. She’s awfully interested in me. Her eyes swept between Alpha Hunter and me.

“I heard you just turned eighteen. Have you found your mate?” she pressured me.

What is this, twenty questions? Maybe I should have just gone home when I had the chance. I laughed out loud at my thoughts, then immediately covered my mouth with my palm.

“Oops, forgive me for my outburst,” I scrambled to say.

Luna laughed and brushed it off.

“School is wonderful, Luna. Thank you for asking. Although I did skip the second period and decided to play a little game of peeping tom at Gamma Judah, but nobody needs to know that,” I giggled and winked at Judah. He looked at me suspiciously.

My eyes widened and a round of laughter filled the dining room. What is wrong with my mom’s apple juice? Dear Lord, I can’t keep a filter on my mouth even if I tried.

“Jude?” Judah’s mother asked. It was her turn to be surprised. She then pinned me with an interesting look of her own. What is wrong with these mothers?

“Dear, have you found your mate?” Luna asked again.

My eyes swept everyone’s faces. They all looked back at me. My eyes landed on Judah. He didn’t offer any help. Instead, he waited for me to say something.

“I found him but he’s a major dick. I think I am going to give him the silent treatment.”

Beta Ace burst out laughing and Alpha Hunter chuckled while Judah glared at me.

“Why is that?” Judah asked.

“I hate it when he talks to girls.” I made a sour face.

The women around the table laughed, apparently having felt the same thing before.

“If he is talking to girls, then he deserves it,” Judah’s mother informed me.

Suddenly, the door burst open and my mother’s frantic eyes met mine. She took one look at me and came scurrying over.

“I apologize for interrupting. I need to have a word with my daughter,” My mom said.

It must be very important. She looks really upset right now. I tried to make her happy by flashing her another one of my brilliant smiles, only for her to give me an exasperated look and push me out of the dining hall.

“Wait, I haven’t served-”

“Mayra will take over for you.” My mother hurriedly said as we entered the empty hallway.

She stopped pushing me and turned me around to face her, her hands on my shoulders.

“How many glass cups did you drink?” she asked.

“Three.” I lifted my hand up to show her how much in case she didn’t hear me.

She grew upset and cupped my cheeks.

“Honey, those drinks are mixed tonic champagne.”

I gasped and covered my mouth in exaggerated horror.

“Mom, why would you give me alcohol? I am not even twenty-one.” I whispered in an undertone.

“I didn’t! I gave you apple juice. You didn’t even drink your cup. You grabbed the champagne glasses instead.”

I felt my mouth form into an ‘O’. That explained the bubbly sensation and unfiltered mouth. I chuckled at the thought.

“Okay, you have to go home-”

The dining door opened. We both turned to see Judah exiting the room. He was dressed in black dress pants, black dress shoes, and a black dress shirt that had rolled up sleeves.

“Ms. Meyers, is something wrong?” Judah asked, letting loose a little Gamma power to command my mom to answer honestly.

“S-she’s intoxicated from the tonic champagne she took in the kitchen.” My mom cast her eyes downward.

I couldn’t remove the smile that was on my face even if I tried. So, I smiled at my mom and then at my mate. He looked very handsome. He returned his eyes back to me.

“I’ll take care of her. You can go back and finish your duty,” Judah assured her.

She wouldn’t have let me go anywhere if it was someone else, but she knew Judah was my mate and wouldn’t hurt me. So, she nodded and gave me an apologetic smile before returning to the kitchen.

Judah shifted to stand in front of me. He gave me an annoyed look.

“I should have known that you would be stupid enough to not be able to tell the difference between a tonic drink and apple juice,” he murmured before cupping one side of my cheek gently.

“In my defense, I have never had tonic drinks before and they taste like apple juice,” I argued with a giggle.

He shook his head and bent down. Suddenly, I was being swept up into the air. I squealed and wrapped my arms around his shoulders. My world spun around me and I had to close my eyes. My head dropped to his shoulders.

“You know, Katie isn’t my mate.” He started out of nowhere.

I snorted, “No, duh, I am your mate.”

I opened my eyes to see him roll his.

“What I mean is that you have no need to be jealous,” he explained.

I lifted my head and gave him a scowl, “I am not jealous of you. My wolf is.”

“Your wolf is you, you idiot,” he retorted.

“You know what, I just remembered, I am not talking to you,” I answered him, jutting my chin out.

He stopped suddenly, and I turned to see that we were no longer on the lower level of the building. We were standing in front of the door. From the dominant scent in the room, I can tell this room used to be his before he moved out.

We entered the room, and Judah kicked the door closed with his foot before walking over to the edge of his bed. He set me down, and moved to sit next to me.

“What are we doing here?” I asked.

“It’s more private,” he answered.

My eyes wandered around his room. He seemed to like the color black. The bed sheets and covers were black, and so were the curtains are black.

“I didn’t know you wanted to pursue supernatural medicine.”

My eyes returned to him.

“You don’t know a lot about me,” I smirked.

One corner of his lips lifted, “I thought you weren’t talking to me.”

That’s right. I totally forgot. His eyes sparkled with laughter and he pulled in his bottom lip to stop him from smiling any further. This was the closest thing to a smile that I had ever seen from Judah.

Magnificent. Beautiful. Exquisitely attractive.

A sigh escaped my lips and I sagged almost into him without realizing it.

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