Beauty in the Beast

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Chapter 51

I jumped awake and grabbed the hand that was touching me. Once I eased my breathing and blinked myself awake, I let Nick’s hand go.

“Sorry.” I muttered as I sat up on my elbows.

“You’re jumpy.” He noted. “You didn’t have any nightmares last night though.” He returned his hand to my skin, drawing random lines down my arm. “Did you dream at all?”

“I don’t remember.” A simple lie that wouldn’t hurt him. Through time I have been able to tame my nightmares, so I don’t scream out in my sleep and wake Nick anymore. Yet, the pain still lingers.

“That’s good.” He kissed my shoulder and I rolled over to him, the blanket falling from my chest and exposing my breasts.

“Shouldn’t we be doing something?” I asked. “Preparing for war?” He chuckled at me.

“Calm down, little wolf. Enjoy the peace while it lasts.”

“Jackson could attack any minute.”

“He wouldn’t. He’s smart. You killed a good chunk of his army and he needs to regroup before he makes any moves. I don’t want this to happen on my land, but we’ll have time to find his bunker again and take the war to him.” I nodded. Nick was right as usual. Even if Jackson could replace the men I killed, it would take time. More time than he had before we came for him. “Emma?”

“Yeah?”

“What are the chances I can talk you into staying here?” I raised a brow at him.

“You have a better chance of talking yourself into staying here.”

“I figured, but I had to try.”

“You need me, I’m the only one who’s seen the bunker.” Daniel may have been held captive as well, but I memorized each and every one of those security cameras before I rescued him.

“We have the layout you gave us.”

“It’s not the same and you know it.” I pushed myself up and swung my legs over the bed.

“I’m just—”

“Trying to protect me?” I interrupted him. “I know.” I stood up and went to the dresser. “I’ve done more than enough to prove to you that I don’t need your protection.” As I pulled the drawer out to find my clothes, Nick snuck up behind me and pressed his chest to my back, shutting the drawer in front of me.

“I won’t argue that.” He whispered. “I like the beast you try to hide in you.” He turned me around and shoved me against the dresser. I tilted my head as he sent kisses down my neck and collarbone. Our moment was ruined a loud boom. I pushed Nick off me and readied myself for a fight. Nick grabbed my wrists. “Easy, Emma.” He said. “I got some guys here fixing the window is all.”

“Sorry.” I apologized for the second time this morning.

“Are you okay? You’re jumpier than normal.”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “I just—I don’t know.” I shook my head.

“Tell me.” Nick stroked my cheek with the back of his fingers.

“It just hurts, Nick.” I looked at my feet, not knowing if Nick would understand my feelings or if jealousy would hurt him.

“What hurts?”

“I think he loved me. I’m not sure.” Nick raised my chin with his finger.

“He did, Emma.” He gave me a reassuring smile, but I didn’t smell jealousy. “He was willing to die in the ring; I saw it in his eyes. You don’t do that without love in your heart.”

“Then how do you do that to someone you love? I thought I knew him, but this isn’t the Derek I knew.” Nick leaned his head down to rest his forehead on mine.

“I don’t know, little wolf. I wish I could tell you.”

“I don’t know if I can do it, Nick.” I shook my head at the thought of ending Derek’s life. His betrayal ran deeper than the ocean and no pack would want him. His only hope alive would be becoming a rouge or hoping his father would take him back to the South pack. But we could never let that happen. With Derek and Jackson out there, our pack would never find peace.

“You don’t have to, Emma.” He kissed my forehead gently.

Nick and I both got dressed for the day and he checked on the construction with the window while I made breakfast. I responded to a few texts from my dad, Chloe and Lucas. I’ve been distant with them for good reason. Running a pack was time consuming, no wonder Nick had no friends outside of his warriors. I turned around to see my mate returning to the kitchen, so I handed him a plate.

“Daniel called.” Nick stated before he sat down at the table with a fork in his hand.

“And?” I leaned against the counter and sipped my hot tea.

“He’s taking Alex on a run. Doc says the shifting will help his knee fit back into place and he should be good as new by tomorrow.”

“That’s good. That’s really good.”

“Yes, it is.” Nick took a bite. “We’ll need him when we storm the bunker.”

“He’s coming into battle with us?”

“Of course.” Nick looked confused as he took another bite.

“Is Daniel okay with that?”

“Why wouldn’t he be?” Oh, sweet Moon Goddess, my mate was clueless as ever.

“You aren’t too pleased with the idea of me going in, I can’t imagine Daniel feels much different about Alex going in.”

“Oh…” A lightbulb shined over Nick’s head. “How long has that been going on?”

“He’s your beta, Nick.” I sat at the table beside him. “You’re telling me you never noticed?”

“I have better things to occupy my time with.” I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Well, Mr. Oblivious, I think they had a moment in the hospital when Derek and I got blown up. I heard them outside my room and I just got a feeling.”

“Hm.” He took another big bite of his breakfast.

“What?” I raised my eyebrow at him. “You can’t seriously hold it against them that they’re Beta and Omega.”

“No, I don’t.” He smiled at me. “I just find it fascinating that you’re so observant.”

“I’m a badass, but I’m still a girl. I notice things.”

“Except me hiding in your shadows for years while I was too dense to ask you out properly.” He took my hand as he smirked at me.

“You’re hard to read, Nick Slater.”

“Mhm.” He leaned over and kissed me again. “Shall we join them on a run?” As much as I didn’t want to interrupt the lovebirds, a run before the battle sounded heavenly.

The woods were big enough that we barely crossed paths with Alex or Daniel, which was nice. They deserved some alone time, and alone time with Nick was hard to come by as well. He’s been either making plans with the pack or on the phone with Reginald about their alliance. I understood the reasoning behind it all, but I couldn’t help but think about the risk we were both taking. There was a possibility that one, or both of us wouldn’t make it out of this thing alive.

“Where’s your head?” Nick asked.

“I’m just thinking about our situation.” I laid my body in the grass and looked up at the clear blue sky.

“What situation is that?” He asked as he laid beside me.

“This fight we’re about to go into.” I laid my head on his back and breathed his fur in. He smelled like nature in the most alluring way.

“Just think about the future we’ll have when this is over. Our pack will be at peace.”

“Will it?” I asked. “Will we ever really know peace?”

“No.” He rubbed his head against mine. “Pups will drive us crazy.”

“Pups?” I lifted my head off him and met his eyes.

“You don’t want any?” He asked.

“I—I don’t know. I haven’t given it much thought to be honest.”

“That’s alright, we have time to discuss it later.” He stood to his feet and shook the grass from his fur. “We should get back. It’ll be time to go soon.” I stood with him and we ran back to Nick’s house to put clothes on. The window looked just as it had before Derek broke in and there was no sign of any construction workers; they were fast. Nick and I quickly put clothes on and got into his car to drive to the pack house. He pulled in the driveway and turned the car off, taking my hand in his. “Are you ready, little wolf?” I nodded, but I knew I wasn’t. How could I be ready to rush into a battle that only ended with death?

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