“I am not a museum’s artifact; you can stop staring now.” I say once I find the courage to speak up. Once we stepped out of the house, Owen insisted on walking to ‘the house’ rather than shifting into our wolves claiming that he needed the fresh air.
“Are you going to explain the chaos that took place back there?” I ask him when he remains silent. I punch his arm when he keeps quiet for the second time causing him to look at me with a concentrated look.
“I do not think I have the words to make you understand what happened back there.” His seriousness makes me believe him. Furthermore, something inside me compels me to not worry or care about it.
“Well then, I have another question. I figured some stuff on my own such as: the raven haired man is Alexander Cresswell, the aggressive older man is his father, and the older pregnant woman is his mother. Which means there is one more question left; are you the beta or the gamma?” I ask him even though I know he is neither. I do not miss how he shivers when I say the word ‘gamma.’ I do not ask simply because I know he will not answer me.
“I know you already know my name, but I believe I should formally introduce myself. I am Owen; the head warrior of the Open Wound pack.” He stops walking, gives me a charming yet a non flirting smile, and offers me his hand to shake.
“Well, I am Shadow Prior from the Red Eclipse pack.” I accept his hand giving it a squeeze before I pull my hand away and resume walking.
“You know I have never met a woman like you before.” His smile turns into a smirk.
“What do you mean?” I ask out of curiosity knowing that I will not be affected by his words.
“Well, you have piercings on your face, you are outspoken, and you did not address Xander as alpha.” I take a mental note; this guy is perceptive.
“Well the piercings are a symbol for my individuality; my words belong to me and not to the males of our sick-minded community; and I have a problem with authority.” I confidently explain.
“I have to say though, Alexander Cresswell is not who I expected him to be.”
“Let me guess, you anticipated a cold hearted man who tortures when he is bored and kills when he is angry.” His expression turns grim and somewhat livid causing me to burst out laughing.
“Do not be silly I am not the kind of person to believe in gossip and reputation.” He stops in his tracks and looks at me with hope in his eyes.
“What? Are you saying that you believe he is a good person?”
“I am saying that I do not believe every word I hear, I only believe what I see with my own eyes, hear with my own ears or the person that I hear the information from is trustworthy and has a perspective that allows him to tell the truth without hiding anything or adding anything to it. Now, I do know Alexander Cresswell’s reputation, but I do not know who he is; I do not know if he is a good son or a good alpha. I do not know if he is cold hearted and I do not know what his principles and values are. Therefore, I cannot judge him for any of that.” For a reason unknown to me he smiles proudly at me; it seems he is relieved with my claim.
“He did kill six werewolves.” He points out in a low tone while looking me dead in the eye.
Am I the only one who feels like the head warrior is testing us? As if he is waiting for us to slip up about something?
No Accalia, you are not. I also do not like how he is reacting to everything I say.
“True, but I am not ready to go through every person’s bad deed and judgment, I simply believe that I can do something more creative with my time. Besides, everyone on this earth has done something that others believe is an unforgivable sin. Just because some people’s actions are more extreme than others’, it does not mean we have the right to criticize them.“ I give Owen a quick glance before I nudge his shoulder urging him to continue walking.
“Now, I am not defending what he did, or claim that it is okay in any way. I do believe, however, that one’s personality is a complex thing; it cannot be determined based on one action or quality.” I bite my inner cheek; I have never talked about these kinds of things with anyone before, only with Nick and Clay. Then again, no one was willing to talk about these kinds of things with me before.
“I have to say, I like the way you think, this is why I have to give you this piece of advice. I know that his name is Alexander but in the Open Wound pack he is Xander, you should stop calling him Alexander.” I want to laugh at the importance of his alpha’s nickname, but I restrain myself upon seeing the seriousness on his face.
“And why is that?” If I was in my pack, I would do the opposite of what I am told. But ever since I came here, these people have not acted even remotely the same way as the people in my pack do. Thus, I am giving them a chance to prove that they do not have rotten brains. That does not mean I am going to let my guard down; you know the old and overrated saying claims: ‘Better be safe than sorry.’
“Well, when Jocelyn mind-linked us to inform us there is an invader in her home she mentioned that the invader is here to warn us about an upcoming danger. Xander cares about his people too much to not give you a chance to explain what this threat is. Which means you will be staying here for at least a few days, and if any of the pack members hear you call him Alexander let’s just say you will end up with at least one bone broken.” This claims that Alexander’s people actually appreciate and respect him. And while I will not consider Owen’s words to be lies, I will not believe them until I see a proof.
“That still does not answer my question.” I raise my eyebrow at him as we step into the front steps of a huge mansion. I am assuming this is ‘the house.’
“Alexander Cresswell is the name that the world knows; the name of the alpha who is responsible for ‘the triple crime.’ Xander is the name of the alpha of the Open Wound pack; the alpha who puts his pack before everything else including himself.” He states before opening the front door and stepping in without waiting for me.
Luckily, I have never been the shy type, so I enter the building right after him to be met with another muscular guy. He has curly light brown hair, and dark brown eyes; they are almost as dark as dark chocolate.
“Well hello, I am Chance. I am the beta; I am also the funniest person you will meet in this pack.” Chance offers me his hand, I accept it.
“Crystal Prior.” He moves my hand towards his mouth and gives my knuckles a soft kiss.
“It is nice to meet you beautiful.” He gives me a wide smile.
Suddenly, a girl almost as tall as Chance walks towards us in angry steps until she stands a few centimeters away. He seems happy while she seems angry, fuming even.
Chance is about to say something but he is interrupted by her grabbing his hand to force him to let go of mine before she gives him a hard slap on his right cheek. A few seconds of silence pass as Chance’s joyfulness vanishes and he is now staring at the woman who looks like she is ready to slap his other cheek.
“You got some nerve you bastard.” She yells at him raising her hand to hit him once again. Chance, however, grabs her wrist before she has a chance to touch his skin.
“Can you please calm down?” He is surprisingly calm; I cannot see any hint of anger in his eyes or body language.
“Calm down? You want me to calm down? You just kissed a woman in the house where we sleep. Am I supposed to welcome her with open arms?”
I swear to God she is the human animated version of angry bird. I tell Accalia as I try hold in my laughter.
Actually she puts angry bird to shame.
“How many times do we have to do this? I am not cheating on you.”
“Oh save it. Your pathetic words will not work on me this time. Who is the whore anyway? And why would you choose her over me, huh? Can you not see her tattoos or piercings? She looks like Dracula and you cheat on me with her?” At this point the woman; who I am assuming is Chance’s mate looks like she is on the verge of exploding seeing as her yelling can wake up the dead. I just ignore her and examine my almost healed shoulder.
Normally, I would have snapped back at her, but I am busy scolding myself for even allowing myself to think that there is a little possibility that this pack or its people are any different from my own; this woman is a prove that it is not. I am confident of who I am and how I look, but it still pisses me off when people comment on my style choice. Look into the mirror then come and criticize my style.
“Do not call her that, you have no idea what is going.”
“While waiting for Xander, I can tell you what is going on…” Owen makes the mistake of interfering.
“Explain what? That my mate does not want me anymore? That he found a better woman to spend his nights with you.?...” I stop listening to her endless list of false assumptions.
This woman surely has some serious insecurities. Accalia mutters in annoyance. I can tell that she longs to tear Chance’s mate’s hair apart, one strand at a time.
I know that she deserves a few bunches in the ribs, but we came here to warn this pack about the warriors that are on their way right now to this territory to murder every soul that lives here. If we so much as say the wrong thing to the angry bird, they will not trust anything we say. Accalia growls at me, but she does not reply.
The angry bird looks at me as if she is planning how to take my kidney out with her claws. Luckily, the front door opens and Alexander walks in.
“Xander your best friend is cheating on me, you have to do something about it.” Chance’s mate clings to her alpha. He does reply to her but I am focused on the man standing behind Alexander, and he happens to be staring at me with a glint in his eyes.
“There is something called trust, you should try it some time.” The man says; I sense sarcasm in his voice. The angry bird’s eyes widen when she acknowledges his presence. She kicks the wall on her left with her leg before she angrily walks up the stairs while muttering things I do not bother to hear.
“You must be Shadow.” He offers me his hand; I do not hesitate to take it. There is something familiar about him, something that subconsciously makes me trust him even though I do not even know who he is.
He takes a hold of my hand and uses it to pull me into his chest. Before I can react, he gives me a kiss on my right cheek. A moment later, the mysterious man lets go of my hand and take a step away from me.
I take a second to study him; he has messy dark brown hair, yet it is still attractive; his eyes are hazel, his skin’s tone is a little lighter than Alexander’s; and his lips are a little thin. He is not the most handsome man alive, but he is still good looking.
“My name is Joshua Fairchild.” I jump in surprise and excitement causing Alexander to growl at me and Joshua to raise his eyebrow at me.
“I came to this bloody place to find you, well both of you actually.” I look between Joshua and Alexander.
“Well, it must be really important; you risked coming to the Open Wound territory.” He sits down on one of couches and urges me to do the same. I look at Chance and Owen before I take a seat on the couch opposite to Joshua’s. The beta takes a seat beside me; Owen stands by the bookshelf, while Alexander bends on the wall by the window.
“It is. I came here to warn you about what the alphas are planning to do to your pack.” I know that it is going to take much more explaining on my part before they actually understand the risk they are facing.
“And how do we know that you were not sent by the alphas to do their wicked bidding; whatever that might be.” Joshua gives me a grin as he leans his shoulders and places his elbows on his thighs.
Alexander growls once again. I do not miss the fact that he remains silent while Joshua does all the talking. I also do not miss how the notorious alpha keeps staring at me. His eyes expose him; he is having a mental war, one that is clearly taking a toll on him.
“Well, I was actually sent by someone, and he told me that you will trust me if I showed you this.” I say pulling Nick’s necklace from under my shirt.
Alexander, Owen, and Chance stare at the necklace in confusion while Joshua stands up abruptly and walks towards me. He pulls me up by my arm and looks me dead in the eyes with as a tear slides down his cheek.
“Is he okay? Did something happen? Is he injured? Does he need my help? Is he…” I cut him off by putting my hands on his chest.
“He is perfectly fine, well more annoying than ever but he is okay.” I try to lighten up the mood. Joshua chuckles and gives me a nod.
“He has been annoying since he was a child; I doubt it will ever change.” We both burst out laughing.
“So if you are close to him, then surely you know that he is a witch.”
“Yes I do, the necklace kind of implies it. It also means I know you are a witch as well.” I place the necklace back under my shirt.
“Who are you talking about?” Alexander growls loudly. Thus, our laughter dies out. My best friend’s brother and I look at each other before he gives me a small nod.
“Long story short, Joshua and I have a mutual acquaintance. He sent me here to inform you that there is a group of the best trained warriors from all twenty eight packs heading towards this territory as we speak. They were given a mission by the alphas to eliminate the Open Wound pack, every last one of them.” Silence consumes the air as all four men take in the new information.
“I do not know this mutual acquaintance of yours. Therefore I do not have to believe him. For all I know, he is one of the alphas.” Alexander says coldly while looking at me. His words earn him a vase of flowers to magically be thrown at his head missing him by a few centimeters.
“What the bloody hell was that for Josh?” Alexander Cresswell is so damn scary when he is angry. Still, I find myself letting out a small giggle. The alpha’s head turns to me and his expression immediately softens.
The way he is acting towards us is seriously freaking me out. I can feel Accalia shudder.
I am starting to believe he has some kind of disorder.
“That is for indirectly implying that I would ever associate with any other alphas other than yourself you asshole.”
“Josh do you trust this mysterious witch?” Alexander becomes serious.
“I would trust him with my life and yours, and everyone in the pack.” Joshua looks at his friend.
“May I ask who is this ambiguous knight in shining armor?” Chance softens his voice sarcastically. He is trying to ease some of the tension, and he is failing miserably. I want to answer, but Joshua’s panicked face makes me change my mind. It is possible that just like Clay and I did not know about Joshua, Alexander, Owen, and Chance do not know about Nick. Perhaps that is how the brothers want it; the question is why.
“I would prefer it if we do not discuss his identity just yet.” I doubt my sanity when the notorious alpha, his beta, and the head warrior accept his request; their trust must be really profound.
“My pack consists of almost eight thousand people, and that is without my witches. How on Earth do they hope to massacre my people?” Alexander’s possessiveness and protectiveness are evident in every word he says. His statement indicates that he will actually give me a chance to be heard.
“We would kill them all the second they pass the border.” Chance says.
“How many warriors are they sending?” Joshua asks. I can see him and Alexander having a silent debate.
“They are sending a warrior from each pack, so twenty eight.” Alexander chuckles, he turns his attention towards me. The sound caused my heart to skips a beat; his chuckle sounds intimidating.
“Taking them down would be as easy as taking down a rabbit.”
“That would be true if they did not have a witch transform silver into gas.” All eyes burn holes into me as I wait for at least one of them to explode, and that is exactly what happens.
Just in a few seconds, the bowl of fruits on the table that is in the middle of the living room gets thrown at the window shattering it into tiny pieces. The bowl collides with the tree that is right outside the window. The middle table is about to follow but Joshua grabs Alexander’s hands preventing him from making an even bigger mess. Just from throwing one thing out of the window, his eyes become reddish and he is sweating excessively.
“Hey Xander, look at me.” He walks closer to the alpha while still holding his hands tight. The only sound that can be heard is Alexander’s loud and harsh breaths.
“Let us count together to ten, yeah?” Joshua starts counting, and with every number, Alexander takes a deep breath until he is not fuming. Still, he takes a few minutes to collect himself before he talks again.
“As much as I yearn to hear the rest I cannot, not without the others. It is almost dawn so let’s just rest for a few hours and in the morning you will tell us along with the others the specifics.” He points his finger at me.
“Wait, I tell you that they are on their way and you tell me that you are just going to rest for a few hours?” I cannot help but almost scream at him. Therefore, I get growled at by Chance. The beta gives me a silent glance before heading towards the stairs his mate used earlier.
As for Joshua, he gives me a wink before he walks out of the front door. However, the head warrior clears his throat and leaves as well. I stand awkwardly with only Alexander in the room. I watch him as he rubs his eyes with his hands and lets out a tired sigh.
“How is your shoulder?” he asks lowly eying my torn bloodied shirt with a distant look in his eyes.
“Completely healed.” I answer shortly; I do not feel comfortable around him. But every time I think about the way he acts, I feel as if there is an invisible wall preventing me from knowing something important. That wall forces me to somehow push it aside, ignore it.
I can see him battling with himself as he clenches and unclenches his hands over and over. I also see him almost take a step towards me but stops himself at the last moment. He lets out a frustrated huff and runs his right hand through his black raven hair, pushing it back.
“Come on, I will show you to your room.” He gestures for me to follow him with his head. It may be just my sick brain playing tricks on me, but he walks really slowly and really close to me as if he is waiting for our hands to accidently pump into each other or for any skin to skin contact to happen.
“You have some valuable information that will possibly determine my people’s future. So, you will be staying here; the house where Chance, my gamma, and I live.” He says as we walk through the hallways.
“It is good to know you care Alexander.” I do not realize what I had said until it is too late. My words make the tension even more unbearable. He immediately stops in his tracks and faces me.
“Do not call me that.” he stands so close to me that I can feel his breath brushing my face. I unconsciously stare at his face. His eyes are truly beautiful; there is something about them that is so captivating. Perhaps it is because of all the sadness and pain that are shown through them. But then again, I hardly know anything about this man.
I take a small step backwards to make some space between us. I notice a smile on his face, not a smirk but a smile, but I choose to not question it. If I try to analyze everything this alpha does, I will surely have a mental breakdown.
“Yeah, Owen mentioned something about it being the name the entire world knows and hates.”
“Well, no offense but I do not know you and I am not part of your pack. So, I find it a little weird to call you Xander.” He raises an eyebrow at me.
“And frankly, the name Xander does not suite you.” I shrug.
“Well, if you are not going to call me by my chosen name then you will have to come up with another one. Because I really hate my birth name.” He says with a hint of amusement and anticipation in his voice.
“I will have to think about it, and I will tell you what I come up with in the morning.” I smirk at him as we approach a white door.
“I cannot wait. Well, this is your room; you will find anything you need in there.” He looks hesitant before he leans in and presses a gentle kiss on my cheek. He immediately runs away and hides behind a door that is next to mine.
What the hell was that about?
Hell if I know. I block her and walk into the room. I do not know how or why, but for a second there I felt completely comfortable around him. I still think he is weird but he is definitely not what I expected him to be, somehow he is better.