The Rise

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Chapter Fourteen

“And this meant what exactly?” I placed the Moon Flower down on my desk.

Valerio grimaced at me, dark circles laid under his eyes. “The next draining attempt will be…” He signed and ran a hand through his blonde hair. “Anywhere.”

I slumped down in my chair and threw my head back. “Is there any particular area – somewhere distinguishable, somewhere I would know to look – with Moonflowers?” I posed the question more to myself than to him.

He shook his head. “Mae, I really don’t know.” His tone was harsher than I expected it to be, but I let it slide. I knew he hadn’t slept the last two nights and I knew he didn’t want to talk about the reason why. I thought it was best for me to keep my mouth shut, just until he figured out how to approach the Vihaan and Nakida matter.

“There are Moonflowers everywhere. We have a whole garden out back. Every pack has their own. Da-Samuel’s pack has a lot, I guess we could start there. That place is memorable to you.”

I glanced at the time on my phone and stood. “Well, I’m having dinner with him tonight. I’ll make sure they have security guarding the area.” I gathered my things. “Oh, uhm, there’s this place that Luca took me to. It was a Meadow with all of the Moon Flowers that his family had planted. Can you find someone to guard there as well?” He nodded. “I’ll send you address.”

As I walked by him, I squeezed his shoulder. “If you need to talk, you know where to find me.”

When I arrived, Samuel and the pups were staring out of the front glass window with their noses pressed against it and their eyes wide. The pups jumped up and down with big smiles on their faces, and I swear I caught Samuel jumping too.

Throughout dinner, the pups sat next to each other and took turns whispering in the other’s ear. Then, they would laugh, eyes pointed straight at Samuel. Of course, Samuel started a funny faces war across the table with them – a war he definitely lost, but he would tell you otherwise.

I don’t think there was one moment I wasn’t smiling, and I loved that. It was the first time in weeks I could let loose and just be happy again.

“Bye Luna!” The pup squealed and jumped into my arms. “Can you pwease have dinner with us more often?”

“Of course.”

She pulled me in closer, her lips hovering over my ear. “Don’t tell anyone, but I love when you come over because Sammy smiles more.” She gazed over at Samuel, her eyes widening. “I love when he smiles.” She sighed like she had the biggest crush on him.

Then she gazed at her little boyfriend who was staring up at her and frowned. For a few moments, she gazed back and forth between the two. I giggled. “Hard decisions, I know.”

I placed her down and immediately the other pup took her hand. She smiled shyly at Samuel, and walked, hand in hand, with her little boyfriend to the front door where Ashur’s mother was waiting for them.

“Did you two have a good time?” she asked, squatting down to their level.

Samuel playfully pinched the boy’s cheeks. “They better have.”

The boy giggled. “Yes… hahaha… yes it was fun!”

As the pups were saying their goodbyes, I glanced at Ashur’s mother. “Can I talk to you?”

She smiled and ushered the two pups to the car, telling them that when they got home, she’d make them brownies if they waited for her quietly.

Samuel’s eyes widened at the mention of brownies. I shook my head and smiled. He’d been through so much, yet he was still a child on the inside. I loved it. I wished I could still feel that way.

“Is everything alright?” she asked.

“Yes, one of the Protectors heard about what happened and wanted to bring over some baked goods for you. I know what happened was a while ago, but he would still like to bring something for your family.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh, yes.” She smiled. “Yes, I would like that. I’m sure my pups would too.”

My stomach was turning, thinking about the real reason he was going to come over. Hopefully, Ayodele would get along quite nicely with the pup. After all, he was bound to be his brother.

“Great,” I said. “How does Friday sound? I’ll be accompanying him.”

“Perfect!” She clapped her hands together. “Why don’t you bring Valerio too? We can finally have that dinner that I’ve been wanting to cook for you.” She gazed behind me. “You’re welcome too, Alpha.”

Samuel wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “I’d never pass up a meal from you. I’ll be there.”

We waved to the pups as they rode down the street. Even with them gone, I didn’t want to leave. Everything here was so much more bearable. I had no fear of drainings hanging over my head. I could just smile, and I wanted to enjoy it for just a little longer.

So, we made a make-shift bed on the living room floor, popped some popcorn, and turned on a movie.

“Thanks for coming,” Samuel said, grabbing the last few popcorn crumbs out of the bowl in my lap. The lights from the TV reflected off of his eyes. “The pups love when you’re around, and I do too.”

I smiled. “I know.”

“You know, you remind me of him.” He took a deep breath and frowned. “It’s easier to deal with it when you’re here.”

Since the moment I met him, he made my whole life easier, especially dealing with Damon. Honestly, I didn’t know how he was still alive after half the shit he did with me when Damon and I were first together. That day when he “showed me how to fight” and Damon almost ended up killing him for wrestling with me was a day I’d never forget.

When the movie was over, I snatched the remote from him and turned on another movie. This was a night that I needed, and a night that I never wanted to end.

“You don’t need to go back?” he asked.

“Not now.”


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