Grandma found me in the morning, sleeping while still crouching against her door, and sent me to bed. She looked horrified when she noticed the blood on my throat and a single puncture mark left by a fang.
I didn't wait for her to say anything as I quickly scurried into bed.
I didn’t leave it until two in the afternoon when little Atlas came for the kids to come and play with their new Lego.
I went with them since Mars wasn’t home and I wanted distraction and time with my kids. Conversation with Binah was awkward at first but it ebbed away as we talked and soon, we were laughing and joining the kids in their game.
I didn’t pry any more information from her, and she made no effort to tell me. As grandma had said, someone else should had given me the answers I sought.
We left when dark began falling on the wolf village, I was in no mood of meeting Binah’s sweet husband. I was carrying Morrigan while the others were merrily hopping and chirping around us, snowballs were flying from all directions.
Hitting their target was awarded with a high-pitched cry, missing resulted in laughter. Even Rem who was holding the hem of my coat threw a couple of balls and dodged the ones thrown at him by hiding behind me.
I noticed someone approaching our group. It was a man, tall, lean and muscular, but what’s new.
Then he came closer and I recognised his pretty face, I’ve seen him around. Sharp jaw, full lips, straight nose, you name it. His almost white hair reaching his shoulders swayed in a mild wind.
The children either didn’t notice or didn’t see him as a threat as they continued in their little snow-fight. Even when he stopped right in front of me.
“Hey, I thought I’d introduce myself while you’re smiling for a change, my name’s Korbin.”
His hands remained in his pockets.
I looked around us, “It might be because no one’s around.”
He laughed a little, showing off perfectly white teeth, “What?”
I was confused too. Why was he trying to tak to me?
“I mean, the reason why I was smiling,” I didn’t bother to tell him my name, he probably knew it.
“So, I take it I’m lucky to see you smile?”
Korbin’s grin was a little crooked, and although he was probably a little older than me, he had a very boyish charm. I found myself grinning back at him.
“And what about this one?” he asked, looking at my lips.
“This one slipped,” I said and looked down at Morrigan, now sound asleep in my arms. I tucked her a little better in her blankets and looked back up at Korbin, who was watching the kids.
“Your kids are very lively,” he looked at me closely as he said ‘your’. Maybe he was trying to pry if some of them were mine, since I doubted anyone would think that Hadden at seven years could had been my son. I didn’t look that old.
“I hope they are, and that they remain as long as possible,” was my answer to Korbin’s dismay.
It must had eaten at him because he asked straight forward then, “Are any of them your biological children?”
“What do you think?” I was watching him when I asked, and his eyes fell on Morrigan.
Before he could answer I spoke, “none of them are, but I care for them as if they were, they have no one else left.”
I didn’t know why I was speaking so openly with him, it might had been the calmness he emitted.
“I’ve heard what happened to you, I’m really sorry, I can’t imagine what monsters could have done such thing.”
I didn’t know what to reply, so we were silent for a while, watching the children play. Strangely enough, it wasn’t awkward.
I looked at him again, “Do you not hate us like the rest of your village?”
“My pack is a little narrow-minded, I must admit. I see no point in hating you, you haven’t done anything to me.”
I saw a chance at getting information, “Why do they despise us? Did foxes do something bad to your ‘pack’?”
“I don’t know,” he said with a frown, then looked at me.
Well, I tried.
He held my gaze. He seemed to had wanted to ask something, but loud crying stopped him. Both of our heads snapped to look in front of us and I tried to quickly assess the situation.
Argo was laying in the snow between two forts, Sabah was already kneeling beside her while Hadden tried to make his way through the tall snow towards them. Rem was seated nearby, watching everything with wide surprised eyes and Haken was laughing half-hidden behind one of the forts.
“Shit…” I muttered under my breath, “hold her.”
I pushed sleeping Morrigan into Korbin’s arms not waiting for his answer as I went straight for Argo.
“What happened Sabah?” I knew she’d tell me the truth.
“Haken, he hit her face with a snowball.”
I knelt beside Argo, and true, her poor little face was still covered in small clumps of snow and turning pink in some places from the cold. She was still crying loudly.
I took her in my arms, “Honey, it couldn’t have hurt that bad.”
“He threw it on purpose mom,” Argo’s tears were streaming down her chubby cheeks, melting the residue snow.
I turned in the direction where I’d last seen Haken, “Haken, you’re not getting any cocoa until you say you’re sorry.”
Hadden reached him and took his mischievous brother’s hand, almost dragging him to the spot where I was standing with Argo, clutching me tightly. Haken was still grinning even as he mumbled his apology.
“What do you say Argo, does he deserve cocoa after dinner?” Haken’s grin faded, he looked at Argo with fear in his eyes.
“Mhm,” she was rubbing her eyes, trying to get rid of her tears, but smiled at Haken, who was beaming again.
“I think it’s time to go home,” my claim was met with many no’s but I was relentless, it was getting cold and I didn’t want any more crying children. Then I remembered Korbin and looked his way, he was where I left him with Morrigan, a startled expression on his face as he slowly rocked her. She must had woken up when we were causing such ruckus, but surprisingly wasn’t throwing a fit.
When I came closer to them I could see her big doe-like eyes watching Korbin with fascination, he smiled down at her.
“Thank you for holding her,” I was genuinely thankful, Argo was now propped on my hip and the rest was shuffling behind, hesitant to leave.
Korbin looked at me, seeing my full hands offered to carry Morrigan to grandma’s. I didn’t object. Little Morr seemed more than happy with her situation and Argo was still sniffling a bit.
Once we reached grandma’s house I put Argo down and rushed the kids inside, they were dripping wet. Then I took Morrigan from Korbin’s strong arms and thanked him again.
“I’d like to talk to you again as soon as possible, momma,” he said teasingly, a flirtatious smile on his lips.
I matched his smile, “See you around Korbin, and good night.”
I could finally make out the colour of his eyes in the front porch lights. I’d never realised hazel was such a pretty colour.
“Good night,” he said and made a few steps backwards still watching me and smiling, then slowly turned around, hands in his pockets, and lazily strode away.
I watched him leave, contemplating his motives.
Snow started falling again and when I turned to go inside I noticed a dark figure parting from shadows that hid one side of grandma’s house. Judging by the intruder’s size I quickly figured who it was.
“Are you spying on me now?” I snapped at him when the bear came into light.
“I wanted to talk to you.”
“But instead you ended up creeping around? I don’t want to talk to you, preferably ever again,” he didn’t move a muscle, just kept staring at me, eyebrows bunched together. After a moment his lips parted, “Korbin is not as nice as he might seem at first.”
“Interesting, my kids weren’t afraid of him, they didn’t cover when he stopped by, unlike when you’re around,” he flinched at my words. He actually flinched. Thankfully, I hid my surprise well. He stopped a few feet away from me and Morrigan.
As if on cue, the babe started fussing and whining as he came closer.
The alpha’s shoulders slumped a bit, but only for a short second before he took a deep breath and pushed them back, “Fine, whatever.”
Then he stepped around me and walked away. I didn’t turn to watch him leave, but waited until I couldn’t hear his crunching steps in the snow. Once they faded I ascended the few steps towards grandma’s front door and slipped inside, shutting the door a bit more loudly than necessary.