It was oddly reassuring coming home after a long day to hear sounds around my usually silent home. A little soft music was coming from the speakers, and I could hear humming and some breathy singing coming from the kitchen. That could only mean that Lucy was—once again—not listening to me when I told her to try not to move around too much.
She had a walking cast on her left leg, and though she tried to hide it, I knew she was still in pain when she put any weight on it. She certainly seemed to favor her right when she was standing still, but I was still attuned to her enough to see the scrunch of her brows when she shifted or had to move about the house.
Three days. It had only been three days since she had been living here with me, and already the house seemed to have a different vibe, a completely new ambiance. It felt lived in finally. From the looks she gave the living room and bedroom, I could tell she wanted to redecorate—which I had zero problems with—but until she was able to move about the place without stumbling or limping, she was just going to have to deal. As a Beta, I was fine at pack stuff. As for redecorating? I was as helpful as ants at a picnic. Still, I liked to see her happy, and I put my left arm behind my back before moving forward into the kitchen.
“Hey there.” I smiled as she turned from the stove. It looked like she was making pasta and was stirring some whitish substance in a small saucepan. “Still not resting like the doc told you to I see.”
She shrugged me off, the hint of a devious smile hooking one side of her lush lips up.
“I was bored and had a hankering for fettucine alfredo,” she told me. “You like it?”
I shook my head, amused. She could feed me raw eggs and I’d swallow them down gladly. “I’d like anything you cook, sweetheart.”
She eyed me for a moment before her attention was drawn to where my hidden arm would have been.
“What are you hiding behind your back?” she asked, her attention once against focused on my face.
Smiling, I pulled out the bouquet of flowers I had hidden for her before moving towards her and carefully pulling her into me. I pecked her forehead, and she wrapped her arms around my neck before bringing me down to her lips. She kissed me gently, almost shyly, and I felt her skin heat up against mine.
“Thank you,” she murmured before looking at them briefly. “Can you get a vase to put them in?”
Okay, so I didn’t know if I had a vase, but I knew there was a semi-decent water jug and basin made of ceramic in the hallway bathroom. I went to go get it, placing the flowers onto the countertop and running my fingers along the cool surface of it before hurrying to the bathroom.
“It’s not a vase, but it’ll do in a pinch,” I told her before filling it half full of water from the tap. I ticked off yet another thing I would need to buy for her in my head, along with a semi-decent wardrobe that didn’t come from the dinky little boutique in town. Jeans and t-shirts were pretty much the staple at Mimi’s Boutique, and I was certain a woman probably needed more than denim and cotton to feel at home. Dresses, nice lingerie, blouses—the list I compiled in my mind of what I would have liked to see my female wear was endless, and the thoughts got caught on bras and panties before I could stop my growing arousal.
Luce fixed up the flowers into an arrangement that I couldn’t make heads or tails of, and then went back to stirring the thick noodles and making sure the sauce wasn’t bubbling over.
“Dinner should be ready in a few minutes,” she told me. “You need to get changed or anything?”
I scanned my attire, my usual jeans and t-shirt a little worse for wear. I decided Luce wasn’t the only one of us that could do with a trip into town, and I shook my head. I wasn’t sweaty or smelly, and I laughed a bit at myself before wandering over to a cabinet to bring out some plates and a few utensils.
“I’m good,” I told her just as I grabbed a couple of forks and put them on the small dining table adjacent to the kitchen. “What do you want to drink?”
She thought for a moment before speaking.
“Do we have any juice?”
I nodded. “Apple juice it is.”
Wine would have gone better with the pasta, but as Lucy was still taking her pain pills, it was unwise to give her alcohol. I didn’t give a shit that she was considered underage by human standards. Plus, there wasn’t a cop around for miles, and shifters held their liquor better than any stupid human could, even if we drank a complete bottle ourselves. It would barely have any effect.
Dinner was silent, not uncomfortable, but I waited until it was winding down before offering to take her into town to get more than a few pairs of jeans and cotton tees.
“I don’t have anything to do the rest of the day and was wondering if you wanted to head into town with me for a bit,” I said. “We can borrow the hospital’s wheelchair for a while so you don’t have to limp around and we could get you some more clothing. I could use some new stuff too.”
I added my own needs in the event she felt I was going out of my way for her—which I would have done with no problems, seeing as how I wanted to see her happy and healthy.
“Won’t anyone else need it?” she asked, twirling the last bit of her pasta onto a fork and considering it.
“Only other person at the clinic now is the other visitor, and she’s barely awake.”
“Oh—did you find out who she is and where she came from?” She seemed excited to hear that the other hurt wolf had finally come to.
“Says her name’s Sienna Richards, though she goes by Faith for some reason,” I told her. “She was a part of Emerald Pack until she got lost in the woods.”
“Did she…did she fall off the cliff like I did?”
I nodded. “Yes, but even higher up. She’s still quite fragile, as she was suffering from a bit of malnutrition when she finally fell over the cliff. She was quite thin and frail when we picked her up. Skin and bones, really. Think she might have gone over the falls as well, but she got so upset when Paul questioned her, he let her alone. He’s going to allow her to heal a bit more before questioning her thoroughly. I don’t think she has motives for coming across Destiny, though. She seemed scared shitless.”
I almost wanted to scoff. Lucy had also fallen off the cliff, but she didn’t seem to take her mortality as serious as the new she-wolf’s.
“Maybe I can go and see her one day at the hospital. She might open up to me more when I let her know I went through the same ordeal.”
She seemed earnest, and I would have been a heartless bastard to tell her no. Still, I would have to run it by Paul first.
“Good idea, sweetness. I’ll have Paul give it the okay first since he’s the big boss.” I sat back in my seat before laying a hand across my now-distended stomach. “Great dinner, darlin’. You want to see if I can rustle up that wheelchair and we can hit the store?”
She nodded hesitantly, her brows knotting over her forehead for a moment before speaking.
“You’re sure no one will miss it?”
She didn’t want to buy nearly as much as I wanted her to, so I started adding to the growing pile of clothing while she was in the dressing room, trying on another simple outfit. She tended to favor jeans and t-shirts, and I was starting to wonder if her whole wardrobe would consist of them.
Adding another dress to the pile and walking back to the dressing rooms, I nodded to the woman who was manning the area, and she jerked her head back to the pile of clothing discarded along the rolling cart.
I sighed. Everything I had brought back to her that wasn’t jeans or a comfortable shirt was hung up, ready to be put back onto the racks for others to peruse.
“Can I go back there for a moment and talk with her?” I asked the employee. She nodded, putting up two fingers to indicate I had exactly two minutes to talk some sense into Lucy.
“Baby,” I called, knocking on the wood outside of her dressing room.
“West? What are you doing back here? People are changing.”
“Correction,” I told her. “You are the only one back here, and you are putting back everything I picked out for you.”
“I like jeans and t-shirts,” she said defensively. I almost wanted to smile.
“And what would you wear if we went on a date to a nice restaurant?” I asked. “The ripped denim or the acid-washed?”
She was quiet as she mulled that over.
“And we may be some backwoods pack, but we still like to have parties and host dances every once in a while,” I interjected. “It wouldn’t kill you to have a few nice dresses.”
I took the ensuing silence as acquiescence and popped the three dresses in my hand through the curtain towards her. With a soft hand, she grabbed them, and I could hear her placing them on a hook on the wall inside the cubicle.
Walking away, I heard the resignation in her sigh and smiled. If she thought this was something, wait until I got her into Victoria’s Secret.
I didn’t go too overboard, lingerie-wise. I knew I didn’t have enough of an excuse for her to go mad with buying bras and panties, and kept my grubby mitts to myself. When I saw she only picked up a few sets, I raised my brows and she sighed, going back to pick up a few more.
“I could just go back to my parent’s house and grab the rest of my clothing there, you know,” she told me as we drove back to the community with bags of clothing sitting in the backseat and cargo area of my SUV.
“We both don’t know how to get there from here, and you still don’t know their phone numbers by heart,” I told her. “I don’t have a GPS, and it’s pointless to have a cell phone as far up in the mountains as we are.”
“Still,” she argued. “I need to find a way to let them know I’m okay. They must be so worried.”
Letting out a resigned sigh, I agreed with her.
“Next trip to town we’ll go to the library and download directions to your house,” I told her. With her family link gone as soon as she was bound by blood with the Alpha, she and I could reach each other through our minds—as she could with any in the pack if she tried—but she couldn’t let her parents know she was alive and well, and it was bothering her the more time went on.
Once we got back to the house, Lucy proceeded to put her new clothing in the washer once she had torn off all the tags. The lingerie was placed in some mesh contraption that I assumed helped prolong the longevity of the delicates. Not ever having had to wear a bra, I couldn’t rightly say I knew for certain what the whole point of it was, but she had grabbed it from a rack of them when we were in Victoria’s Secret and I didn’t argue.
I carried the laundry basket full of new clothing into the washroom in the back by the kitchen, and let her deal with sorting the whites from the delicates and the darks. Once the items were being doused with suds, I picked her up and carried her into the living room before setting her down on my lap.
“I can still walk a bit, West,” she told me in a gently chiding tone.
“But I like carrying you around,” I told her, unashamed of how whipped I was already for my female. “And I like you on my lap where I can feel you and put my arms around you.”
Her arms looped slowly around my neck, bringing her head into the crook where I hoped—one day soon—I would wear her claim. Feeling her hot, fragrant breath washing over me and the sweet scent of roses rising from her body, I realized I had never felt more at home. I cradled her into my chest, her clunky walking boot splayed onto the couch as my arms trailed over her legs and back.
“I miss my parents, but I’m glad I have you now,” she told me softly. It was bittersweet. I didn’t want her family to worry, but I was a bit possessive over her already. If her family knew where she was, would they tell her old Alpha mate? I didn’t need him coming around, but I couldn’t tell her I was worried about that. It made me sound weak.
“I promise the next time we can, we’ll go into town and try to get in touch. I don’t want them angry with me for keeping you all to myself.”
“And you have to meet my father,” she said. “My mom is pretty laidback, but my dad’s a doctor and pretty protective of me.” She paused. “I hope everything is okay back home.”
Squeezing her against me, I closed my eyes, breathing in the scent that now felt like home.