I found Lucy in the packhouse later on, chatting with the new girl, Sienna—or Faith, or whatever she was called, drinking from mugs at the table in the kitchen. A few scattered teabags were about on saucers, and the room smelled like chamomile and honey.
I looked between the two women, Lucy all smiles as has been her usual, but the other girl still looked like a scalded cat in a room full of boiling teakettles. She’d been like that since waking the doctors and nurses had said.
“West.” Her voice was warm, though she looked a little careworn around the eyes and I had to wonder what the two females were talking about when I walked in. The atmosphere was heavy, but only marginally so. If I wasn’t as in tune with my surroundings as a Beta, I might have missed it completely.
That was almost a joke. I certainly hadn’t cared about the aura of people in the past five years, but with Lucy…well, she pulled back into myself. That was the only way I could describe it. She was making me me again.
“Sweetness.” I moved toward her and dragged her into my arms before placing a kiss to her lips. I had been with Paul for the most of the morning and the early afternoon, and—not that I didn’t love the guy to death or anything—I had missed her like crazy. “How was your day?”
In my peripheral vision, I took in the new girl, Faith—that was it. She looked almost frightened by my presence. I was a large man at six feet, three inches, and was bulkier than many of the other men at Destiny, but only slightly. Certainly, she had seen her old pack enforcers working out or training in the fields, right?
“Faith, this is West, my mate.” Lucy’s voice fluttered on the last word, as if she was almost too happy to contain her excitement at being mine. I grinned, completely unable to help myself.
“Pleased to see you again, Faith,” I told her, nodding in her direction. I only had eyes for my mate, and stared at her, though the female was a pretty and timid little thing. She had said she was 19, though she looked about three years younger.
She nodded back perfunctorily and murmured a greeting I barely caught.
“Do you want to come and eat dinner at our house, Faith?” Lucy asked, her tone chipper and hopeful. She was so damn cute that I dropped another kiss on her temple before pulling her towards the door.
“You’re more than welcome to,” I assured Faith. “We’re the light blue house three down to the west. We usually eat around six, but you’re more than welcome to come earlier.”
I obliged her for Lucy’s sake. My mate knew very few people outside my intimate circle—mainly Paul and Cassidy—and I wanted her to feel at home here in the community, not just with me. If she wanted to befriend the new girl, who was I to stop her?
Faith murmured something about seeing us later, but she didn’t say if it would be at our house or not. Just in case, I whispered into Lucy’s ear. “Make enough for three of us—just in case.”
She nodded, smiling as we walked out the front door and down the steps to go home.
“She’s scared,” Lucy said. I assumed she meant Faith, so I nodded and coaxed her on.
“I think of being alone.” My girl sighed sadly, and it was all I could do not to whip her around and kiss the frown from her face. “How much did she tell you before she got out of the hospital?”
“Not too much. Just how she landed on pack lands.”
“Right, angel,” I said, liking my new nickname for her. “She was in the woods when she heard them, and she fled before getting to the river. She tried to swim across but got swept away in the current. She doesn’t remember much after that, not surprisingly.”
“I don’t think she wants to go back.” Lucy turned around, her eyes pleading with me. “Don’t make her go back, West. They…they were mean to her.”
“Who? Who was mean?”
I didn’t understand how someone so timid and soft-spoken could have been made to feel so alone. Unless their words and actions had caused her reservation.
“Everyone. The pack, her father and brother.”
“What about her mom?”
“Dead,” was Lucy’s harsh reply, and anger swept over her face before she could push it back. “She died saving her from a mountain lion and they hated her for it.”
Lucy then told me everything about Faith that she had gleaned. The camping trip, how everyone treated her like filth afterwards. How they blamed the poor girl after her mother’s sudden death. It turned out that she was only in the woods that day and found by the hunters because it was the only place she could be herself. As far as I was concerned, that made her whole pack culpable in her near-death.
I scowled and wondered why she had dealt with it as long as she had.
“I’ll speak to Paul and tell him about Faith.” I looked over at her worried face. “Don’t worry, pretty girl. I’m sure my asshole best friend won’t kick her to the curb. And who knows? Maybe she’ll feel right at home as soon as she learns that we aren’t like her old pack.”
“Except for your old mate.”
“Her?” I asked, surprised at the mention of her. “She comes and goes when she pleases, even though Paul’s threatened her with banishment for years. Ever since she rejected me, actually.”
“I wish he would,” Lucy pushed out with fervor. “She sounds horrible.”
“Oh, she is, sweetheart. But I’m glad she rejected me. You made the wait worthwhile.”
“What’s blue again?”
I was sitting amidst a handful of M&M’s and trying to remember what each color stood for.
This was the weirdest fucking get to know you game I had ever heard of.
“Blue is for family, red is for hobbies, yellow is for friends, green is for school, and brown is for music and movies.”
The whole point, Lucy stated, was to grab a handful of candy and share a fact about your life with the other person. If I had four blue M&M’s, I would have to share four facts about my family or family life. And since I had larger hands, I had quite a few more chocolates than she did.
I picked up a blue before popping it into my mouth. “My father doesn’t live here anymore because he’s an elder with The Counsel.” I shrugged. “I think ever since I was rejected by Carla, he’s made sure I haven’t been forced to go to The Claiming. I think he’d prefer it if I found a true second chance mate.”
“Did you tell him yet?” she asked.
“First time I saw you and took you home. He’s too far away to mindlink, but I gave him a ring after you fell asleep that night. He goes to sleep quite late, so it wasn’t a bother. He wants to meet you—him and my mom. Does that count for more than one blue M&M?” I looked down at my eight blues, trying to think up more I could share with her that wouldn’t bore her to sleep.
She grinned at me. “You offered all that information. Sorry.”
She picked up a red, and thought about it before tossing it back into her mouth and chewing.
“One of my hobbies is games,” she said. “I played a lot of games with Zach growing up. Xbox, Playstation. He even had an old Nintendo that is like about a million years old.”
I nodded, thinking back to my own Xbox 360 that lay under a thick layer of dust in the living room somewhere. Making note to get her a new console—of her choice of course—I looked down and picked up a brown.
“I like old rock ballads, just like my old man,” I admitted, chewing the chocolate. “80s, 90s, some late 70s.”
“Like Bon Jovi and Metallica?” she asked.
“Yeah, and Bad English, a little bit of some heavier shit like Slayer and stuff. Thrash metal too. My dad was a big fan and we sort of listened to it together.” I paused. “Does that count as a blue one as well? It was about family.”
She smirked. “Nice try.”
I wanted to get to know her more, but I didn’t think some party game was the way to go about it. What happened to just a simple question and answer? Favorite color? Blue. Favorite childhood memory? My first shift.
Favorite memory of all time? Easy. Meeting Lucy.
Lucy picked up a green M&M and studied it before biting into it.
“I hated school. My worst subject was gym.” She laughed outright, making me smile. “A werewolf hating gym? Nearly unheard of. I’d rather play a game or sit down with a magazine or read a book. Organized sports suck.”
“I can’t agree. I like watching football and baseball, but soccer and ice hockey bore me to tears. Don’t get me started on golf. I like playing physical sports like football, but I couldn’t hit a baseball if you aimed it directly at my head.”
She scrunched her nose. “I don’t mind watching sports. It’s participating that annoys me. I can be quite vocal watching—just terribly uncoordinated when forced to get onto a field or whatever.”
We played the game that way for a while, and it wasn’t half bad. Lucy, at least, made it fun, telling me about some of her friends when she was in school and even mentioning how she found out she was mated to Zach, the time her younger brother crapped his pants—literally—the first time he went to Six Flags and got on a roller coaster, and even her first shift. Unlike coming of age to have a mate, there wasn’t a set time that one got their wolf. The higher your rank, though, the more likely it was to get your wolf at a younger age. Paul got his on the onset of puberty, and I followed six months later.
“I was 14,” she told her. “I’d actually just turned 14, and I realized Zach was my mate less than a week later.” She shrugged. “Mom said my wolf must have been more mature. An old soul, she called me.”
“In pack histories here, they say only the descendants of the first wolves are able to feel their mates before they turn 18.”
She guffawed and stood up, moving toward the kitchen to start dinner. “I doubt that the first wolves were Omegas like me. And if that was true, why didn’t my father or mother find each other early?”
“It skips a generation?”
She laughed and pulled out a box of fettucine noodles, shaking it in my direction. “Fettucine okay?”
I would eat a mud pie if her hands made it, so I nodded and offered my dubious “help.”.
As I stirred the noodles in the bubbling water, I watched as she made the sauce for fettucine alfredo, a line of concentration slashing across her forehead. She put it on simmer and covered it with a clear lid I didn’t know I owned.
As a matter of fact, there were a lot of pans and pots and skillets that I didn’t know I owned until Lucy started living with me. I supposed they were brand new at some point, but I had never used even a quarter of the ones I saw now littering the countertops.
When a knock on the door came just as Lucy was spooning noodles and sauce together, I kissed her on the head and told her I would get the door. Faith was there, looking smaller even than before, her legs crossed at the ankles and looking as diminutive as I’d ever seen her.
“Come on in,” I greeted, watching the tiniest of smiles curling her lips upward.