“Are you okay?” Shadow’s voice surprises me once I exit Amara’s room. She leans on the wall by the door’s frame as she eats blue raspberry gummy rings candy. I stand before her as I watch her relaxed face, and I find myself envying her; all night I was restless even though both Amara and my mother are under the same roof as me. I knew that talking to my mother would be pointless since she would only complain about the situation. Therefore, the first thing I did after I woke up and took a shower is check up on Amara and make sure that she feels secure here.
“Yeah, I am fine. I just… I do not like the changes the circumstances are causing. I guess that makes me a person who prefers routine. I know, it makes me sound dull.” I awkwardly rub the back of my head with the tips of my fingers.
“I have met boring people before, trust me you are not one of them.” She pulls out a gummy ring candy from the bag and puts it in her mouth.
“I will take that as a compliment.” I smile at her as I steal a gummy candy. Thus, I receive a playful glare.
“So, I heard that you are planning to go to the orphanage, and I was hoping you would let me come with you.” Both of us start walking through the hall side by side. Even though I went there the day before, I feel the need to be surrounded by the kind of comfort that only children can provide. They always succeed in lifting the burning weight in my chest.
You are such a bloody drama queen Alex. Amoux snickers.
I just have a feeling that things will eventually take an unexpected turn, I just want to enjoy the calmness before that happens and I cannot do that if I am consumed by my restlessness. I defend myself even though I know he is right.
“Yeah, of course you can come.” I say when I realize that I did not answer her.
Just like the day before, the kids overcrowd Shadow and I with huge smiles and open small arms. I was already in a good mood when we first entered the orphanage, thanks to the tranquil walk I had with my mate to our destination, but seeing the children this happy makes me even more content.
“You came.” Emily jumps in my arms and I embrace her with a huge smile on my face. I notice how her hold on me is tighter than usual but I do not pay it any attention.
“Of course I did, I promised you, did I not?” I pull away from her so I can see her small face.
I pull the strand that fell from her ponytail from her face and put it behind her ear.
“Well, I am happy you are here.” She breaks free from my hold and moves from right to left as she attempts to control her excitement.
“Xander!” Tyler runs to me and grabs my finger in his small hand.
“Where are we going?” I ask as he pushes me to a corner in the playing room with Emily walking by his side.
“You are reading us a book.” The little child answers with a spark in his eyes and I cannot help but smile at the innocent look he has in his eyes.
As I watch him and Emily happily drag me to the book shelf in the corner, I find myself wishing I could return to these blissful days; to be young and have no worries and no responsibilities. I yearn to return to a time when I did not have great sins, when I did not have to look after an entire pack. I wish to return to the time when real sadness, desperation, regret, ire were foreign and irrelevant.
I know I should not be envying them for being children. After all, they will eventually grow up and be in a situation where they wish they can return to their childhood days. They will want to return to the days when their biggest decision is who they will be playing with, and their greatest worry is having a doll to sleep next to them at night.
As I sit in the corner with a few children, I look around the room to see Shadow playing with Ashley in a toy kitchen. I watch her for a few seconds before I feel a tug on the end of my white shirt. I look down to see Matt handing me a hardcover book with thick papers inside.
“I am happy you came to see us Xander.” He gives me an innocent smirk before he sits on the ground before me next to Emily and Tyler.
“I am happy to see you too.” I smile at him.
“Will you read us the book?” Emily interrupts our conversation.
“Of course.” I quickly scan the book’s title before I look at the children before me to find that a few more children joined our little group.
“The book’s title is The Encantado Brothers…” Before I have the chance to open the book, Jensen enters the room and walks towards me.
“Is everything okay?”
“Xander!” I correct him.
“Xander, I was hoping I can talk to you in my office for a second.” He gives me a look that indicates that the thing he needs to discuss with me cannot be mentioned in front of minors. Therefore, I only nod and stand up.
“But, what about the book?” Emily’s eyes start to get watery. I look at her with a struggle; I do not want to disappoint her, but I know that what Jensen needs to talk about is important.
“I can read you the book.” Georgette comes to my rescue. I give her a grateful smile before I turn to the children.
“How does that sound?” I ask. They all nod vigorously happiness evident on their faces.
“Very well Jensen, lead the way.” I give my mate a lost look before I leave the playing room with the older man.
“I am sorry; I do not want to worry you.” Both of us stand in the middle of his office. It does not go unnoticed that he locks the office’s door, and double checks that it is locked about three times before he turns to me and starts talking.
“I am your alpha; never hesitate to come to me if you face any problems. It is my job to look after you.” I assure him.
He only nods.
“So tell me, what is going on?”
“It is… Someone has been sneaking into the building at night. Me along with the rest of the adults have tried to figure out who it is, but we were unsuccessful.”
“What do you mean? How long has this been going on?”
“For about a week.”
That is around the time we started putting the potion in the pack’s water supply. Amoux points out.
Yeah I am aware of that. I am also starting to think that it is no coincidence that Hope and Amara started noticing an intruder in the cabin after we started using the potion.
At least we know that all these occurrences mean that the potion actually works. Amoux tries to find the one positive thing in the situation even though I can feel his raging anger.
“Why I am only hearing about this now?” My tune is not angry, instead it is calculating.
“We did not think it was serious. At first, we thought it was nothing more than a few teenagers pranking the little children. But after last night…”
“What happened last night?” Worry consumes my mind as I turn into alpha mode; ready to protect the children of my pack.
“They tried to take Emily, or at least that is what we think they tried to do.” I stare at him for a few seconds as I try to convince myself that I did not hear him correctly. I growl as I finally allow myself to understand what he says.
“What the bloody hell does that mean?” Amoux takes control and growls at Jensen.
I do not try to force him to give me back control because I do not want him to think I am against him even though I am scared he will become blind with anger.
Fear flashes in Jensen’s eyes as he sees my own become pitch black. And I am extremely grateful that he attempts to conceal his fear and does not act on it; he still chooses to trust and believe that I will not hurt him. I can tell that despite his anger, Amoux appreciates it too.
Do not let your emotions control you. I warn my wolf with a gentle tone.
I am trying as best as I can. But someone is targeting our bloody pack. We have to protect them as best as we can.
I appreciate you putting the effort, and we will do everything we can to protect the ones who put their faith in us to watch over them and keep them safe, okay?
Yeah. I feel his anger subside a little, and despite the situation I smile a little at the effort he puts in controlling himself.
Even though, he manages to compose himself, he is still in control.
“A little after midnight, Emily went to Georgette’s room claiming that a man tried to take her from her bed while she slept. However when she woke up, he ran away.” Georgette is one of the people who take care of the orphans along with Jensen; her main job is the children’s education.
“Emily did not seem fazed. In fact, she seems completely normal.”
“She is a child alpha; a few comforting words and allowing her to sleep with Georgette for the rest of the night were all it took to get her to forget about it; for the time being at least.”
I cannot comprehend how Emily can forget about such a thing; but no adult can understand children’s minds and how they work.
I am glad she is not traumatized by this bloody incident.
Maybe she is, but she got distracted by our visit.
“What about the other children?” Amoux asks.
“The girls who share the same room as Emily told Georgette that they saw a shadow run out of the room when they woke up to Emily’s screams. And the older boys whose room is right above them said that they saw someone run from the orphanage and into the woods through the window.
“So whoever it was, they jumped from the balcony that is right beside the room Emily sleeps in.” Amoux voices out his thoughts.
Could it be possible that Owen got caught on purpose to give us a message? I ask my wolf.
I do not bloody know!
We are missing something…
How the bloody hell are we supposed to know what we are missing?
I wish I knew.
“Georgette asked Kol, the children’s therapist, to talk to them right after breakfast. He told me that half of them believe that they dreamed the whole thing, the other half barely remember anything about it. However, teenagers know that it actually happened and they know that there is something wrong. But they are staying quiet about it. Kol is planning to talk with each of them individually to make sure that they are all okay.” Amoux gives him an approving nod.
“Alright, this is what we will do, I do not want this to leave this building; whoever did this did it to spread chaos among the members of the pack. So, we are not going to give them what they want. I will have a few trusted warriors guard the orphanage at night. And if anything happens mind-link me immediately; even if it is just a doubt that something is wrong; do not hesitate to contact me.”
“Yes alpha.” Jensen gives us a bow before we bid him goodbye and leave the office.
We return to the playroom and search for Shadow, but we do not find her.
“Your beautiful mate just left.” Tyler told us while he continues playing with his Legos.
“She seemed worried.” Ashley looks up from her doll to face us.
Our eyes fall on Emily who talks with Kol. Since we are certain that she is getting the attention and support she needs, we leave as well following our mate’s scent. The shock and the fear that merge with her scent tell me that the storm might strike at any moment.