The Rise

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Chapter Three

"Mae," someone whispered. I turned onto my side and pulled the blankets over my head. After last night, I couldn't fall asleep. Those piercing green eyes were haunting me. They were so unfamiliar, but I felt connected to that wolf in some way.

Every time I closed my eyes, it was like a distant memory was trying to show itself to me. But no matter how much I tried, I just couldn't remember. It was so damn aggravating.

"Mae!" Valerio whispered louder. "Are you awake?"

"She's about to be." The door slammed, and Aaisha's footsteps pounded through the room. She tore the blankets off of me, one brow arched. "Get up. We're going for a run." Without giving me time to answer, she pulled open the blinds and threw a pair of shorts at me.

They smacked me in the side of my face. I groaned and sat up, wiping the sleepiness from my eyes. Jeez, this girl can't get a moment of peace in the morning.

Valerio stood in the doorway, gazing over at me, arms crossed. By the way his lips sat in a tight line, I knew he was about to say something unrelated to why Aaisha was in my room. "Tell me about the wolf you saw last night," he said. He must've heard about it from one of the Protectors.

I pulled on my shorts. "I'll tell you as we run."

Aaisha placed her hands on her hips, very dramatically. "Nah-uh. He ain't coming. I need to tell you somethin'." She gave Valerio an unwarranted accused look.

Valerio stuck his hands up in the air. Aaisha grabbed my wrist and pulled me down the hall. "I'll tell you when I get back. For now, search the borders. Try to find any new scents," I called.

Aaisha hurried down the hallway, nearly making me trip over my feet the whole time. "Aaisha what's the rush?"

When we were outside, I leaned against a tree and began stripping my shirt. She stopped me. "Let's run in our humans, so we can talk."

I pulled the shirt back over my head and jogged next to her. She stayed quiet for a long time. It was... unusual. It scared me to be honest. She always spoke her mind. This silence was unnerving.

We took the same trail I did last night. And since Aaisha wasn't saying much, I wanted to see if I could spot the wolf from last night or even catch his scent; it was a long shot. But maybe it'd be worth it.

Once we passed the big red oak, I sighed. No scent.

"What's going on?" I asked Aaisha after a few moments.

She stopped me, breathing hard, sweat dripping down her jaw. "I just wanna get more fit... ya know. Mommas need to be fit for their pups."

My eyes widened. "Momma?"

A smile stretched across her face. She grabbed my hands and jumped up and down. "I'm going to be a mom!"

"Aaisha!" I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her in for a hug. "Oh, my goodness!"

She screamed. "I can't believe it! I'm so happy. I peed on twelve sticks, then went to the pack doctor! I thought that it wouldn't be possible after what happened, but... but it's true!" A tear slipped from her eye.

Aaisha a mom? My heart beat so fast in my chest just thinking about it. She was going to be great.

"Is it Rich—"

She stopped me before I could continue and nodded her head. "Yes, it's his."

I felt a pang of sorrow for her. First, she loses her baby, then she loses her mate. But I guess Luca was right. Happiness can come from the darkness. He would be happy for her too, if he was here.

"If it's a boy, I'm going to name him after him," she said. "Just because."

"And if it's a girl?"

She wiped the sweat from her cheek. "Slow down. I haven't thought that far ahead."

We walked back to the pack house, Aaisha complaining that maybe toomuch running wasn't the best for her pup at the moment. As soon as we entered the house, she stuck her nose into the air, taking a whiff. "I smell cookies. Mommas already got herself some cravings." She wandered through the house, following the scent of chocolate chips.

I followed her until I noticed Valerio in his office, door wide open. His back was turned toward me. "Hey," I said, walking in. He turned around, two cookies stuffed between his lips. I arched a brow.

He widened his eyes, looking like a kid who just got caught doing something bad. Then he shrugged. "Nakida makes the best cookies."

"Aaisha thinks so too. She's having her Mommy cravings."

Valerio's eyes lit up. "Mommy? She's gonna be a mom? Wow." He shook his head a few times and walked around to his desk. "I'm happy for her, but her kids... they're gonna be something else."

Oh, they would be.

I sat on the chair opposite of Valerio. We sat in silence for a few moments, the tension awkwardly high in the air. By the way Valerio glanced at me, I could tell that something was on his mind. "Your time will come, Mae." He looked me in the eye, lips tight. "To have children... Believe it."

The thought was one I tried to suppress. Now wasn't the time to think about me. One day I would have kids or maybe I wouldn't. Who knew? Maybe Damon would come back. We'd mate. A bunch of pups would be running around this house.

I placed my hands on the table. "Well, now's Aaisha's time, and I'm going to be happy for her."

Valerio smiled and changed the subject. "So, this wolf that you saw last night..." he started.

I explained the whole situation to Valerio, starting with my conversation with Nakida about her family coming to visit. He looked a bit nervous when I mentioned that to him, but he brushed it off quickly. But I continued. Everything from the wolf's eyes to the eerie sense of familiarity that accompanied him.

"We couldn't pick up a scent," Valerio said.

"Neither could I."

He toyed with a pen. "Do you think that... maybe... you were just imagining it? It's been a very stressful time for all o—"

"No." I shook my head. "No, he was real. Definitely real." Right? He was real. It was a huge wolf. I couldn't just imagine that, could I? And what about the crescent moon that I found? That wasn't a coincidence.

But the mere idea of it being imagined was very appealing right now. I didn't need another problem. I had Aeron, this divine, and Luca to worry about. And let's not forget about the Damon and Ashur thing I had to figure out – alone. That was a worry for a different time.

"Well, tomorrow we up our security again. We can't take any chances." I stood.

Tomorrow we would be back to our usual way around here. Which meant: Security. Security. Security. We would be back on the hunt for the Challengers and the remaining kidnapped pups.

Before walking out, I glanced at Valerio. "We need to meet this week. All of us, including Nakida's brother."

A/N

Hi Friends. Hope you enjoyed this chapter :D

What do you think of Aaisha's pregnancy?

We will be getting a new character soon! Who will it be?

Is the wolf real or is Mae just imagining it?

Warmly, Destiny

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