The Alpha's Surrogate [The Alpha's #1]

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Chapter Sixteen

ANASTASIA MULBERRY

“Well, thanks for the ride.” She turned to smile at him as he parked his truck in the driveway, having given her a tide home after his shift at the garage had finished.

“No problem, Ana.” Harvey grinned widely as he pulled out the keys and allowed the engine to hum quietly to sleep. “We’re hoping the parts for your car will come in by the end of the week and once they do, we’ll work to get everything installed as soon as possible.”

“Thanks, I really appreciate that.” Her lips twitched higher even though she internally groaned at the idea of having go take the bus into school every morning. While she wasn’t a snob that turned her nose up on public transport, she didn’t appreciate all the looks she would get from judgy conservative grandmas and grandpas for walking around with a round, full belly without a ring on her finger.

While she didn’t particularly care what people thought or said about her, she was only human and even the most patient person sometimes lost it.

“How much do you think the bill will come out to be?” She asked politely, figuring that however much it may be, she would be able to cover it with her savings even she grimaced at the idea of the repairs taking such a big chunk out of her bank account.

“Don’t worry about it.” He said, a small smile on his face. “It’s all taken care of already.”

“What? Who take care of it?” Anastasia asked, her lips tugging down at the corners as she stared back at him.

While she appreciated the gesture, she didn’t take charity and it felt wrong to accept what she could only assume was a very expensive favour from a friend; let alone someone she hardly knew. It was even worse as Harvey, on more than one occasion, had expressed his desires to take her out to dinner. Pregnant or not.

“It doesn’t matter who took care of it. Just the fact that you don’t need to worry about it.” Harvey tried to dismiss the matter with the intention if very quickly changing the topic, but he was far from successful as she cut him off.

“I’m not on board with this.” She denied, shaking her head.

“Ana, just let me do this for you.”

“But why?”

“I think you already know why.” He murmured quietly as he stared ahead at the cosy little house that she lived in.

Anastasia sat stunned in her seat for a few moments, unsure of how to comprehend this piece of information, one which was not all that surprising or newfound.

Before she had the chance to respond, Harvey coughed awkwardly and turned his gaze away from her.

“I should get going.” He murmured quietly, his lips pulling up at the corners even though it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “But it was great seeing you, Ana. I’ll give you a call when your car is ready to pick up.”

The easy option would have been to nod her head, murmur a goodbye and slip out of his truck without so much as looking back however, Anastasia was never one to choose the easy option.

“Do you want to come in for a cup of coffee?” She turned to him and asked, surprising even herself with the request but once the words had passed her lips, there was no turning back; no time for regrets.

While she had thought that she would have to turn down Harvey for what felt like the third time – fourth or fifth maybe as she had lost track – in the past couple of hours, it appeared that she much preferred it when he was friendly instead of anything more.

Enough to ask him to stick around even if making him leave was probably the smart decision.

Ultimately and in the long run, she just hoped she wouldn’t come to regret extending this grapevine.

“I’d like that.” Harvey replied with a small smile on his face, and followed her out of the truck as she led him up the front porch and fished for her keys in her purse.

“Welcome to my humble abode.” She smiled softly as she opened the front door and led him in, making sure to close it behind him to keep the cold out.

Having just come into October, it had started to get chilly a few weeks ago and she was now seriously considering trading out her cute jackets for her huge woolly coats.

“You’ve got a nice place here.” Harvey whistled lowly with his hands stuffed into his pockets as they slipped off their shoes by the front door before venturing down the hallway.

Anastasia snorted as she glanced over her shoulder. “You’ve barely seen past the hallway.”

“You’ve got a valid point there but I like what I’ve seen so far.” He chuckled and followed behind her as she led him into the living room.

“How do you take your coffee?” She asked as she slipped off her jacket and purse, dumping them on the sofa before moving over toward the kitchen.”

“Black with a teaspoon of sugar.”

“Your plain cup of coffee is on its way.” She shot a teasing smirk over her shoulder as she turned on the coffee machine and prepared a mug for the both of them; decaf for her.

“Plain?” He chuckled, his face contorting in mock pain, even going as far as to clasp both his hands over his chest, having joined her in the kitchen and dropping himself into one of the chairs. “Your words wound me.”

“But apparently not enough to stop your advances.” She quirked a teasing brow as she leaned back against the counter, her arms crossed over her chest.

“Unfortunately for you, no.” He chuckled and leaned back in his chair, stretching his legs out in front of him.

When both the regular and decaf coffee was ready, she poured two mugs, making sure to add a teaspoon of sugar to both and a splash of oat milk to hers as black coffee just didn’t settle well with her.

“Thank you.” He grinned graciously at her as she slid the mug across the table and took the seat across from him.

“I’ve told you about me being single and playing surrogate for my friends.” Her voice trailed off as she watched him carefully.

“Yes.” Harvey hummed, glancing between the dark pool of the coffee in front of him and the big blues of her eyes that were staring intently at him. “Is there a point to this random statement?” He chuckled as he waited for her to respond.

A small smile played on her lips as she nodded.

“Well, it seems like you know an awful lot about me while I only know that you work as a mechanic at a local garage and you moved to neutral territory a few weeks ago. So, that’s virtually nothing.”

“Let me guess. You think it’s only fair to level the playing field?” Harvey chuckled as he leaned forward and propped his chin up on his hand, turning his entire attention on her.

“Exactly!”

“What do you want to know?”

Anastasia pursed her lips as she thought, a curious expression taking over her face. Similar to her, it appeared that Harvey was wary of opening up to her, especially since they didn’t know each other all that well yet. Either way, she had the chance of asking a few questions before he clammed up and attempted to change the topic, so she had every intention of asking the right questions to extract as much information from him as possible.

Seeing as he knew quite a bit about her already, it only seemed fair for him to return the favour.

“I know that you moved onto neutral territory a few weeks ago, but I don’t know why.”

Harvey chuckled as he dipped his head low to take a leisurely sip from his coffee. When he grimaced slightly, she knew that the beverage was still too hot, and she frowned slightly as he proceeded to take another sip, no doubt scalding his tongue for the second time.

“I see you’ve chosen to ask the tough question straight away.” He chuckled lowly and took another sip, almost as if he needed it to be able to answer her question.

For a moment, Anastasia felt bad for impinging on his privacy, especially when he seemed uncomfortable with it however, before she could let him off the hook, he began with the short tale.

“I moved here to escape.” He began ominously, his voice quiet as he kept his head bowed, seemingly more interested in the remainder of his coffee than meeting her eyes, almost as if he was either ashamed or afraid or unravelling from under her gaze.

“Escape from what?” Anastasia asked softly, gently encouraging him to continue.

“I was born into a pack up north from here and when I turned eighteen, I found my mate in the pack but since she was a year younger than me, she couldn’t sense out that I was her mate.”

“Did you tell her?”

Harvey nodded but still refused to meet her eyes.

“I told her but she didn’t believe me.” He sighed, the sound strained and tired. “I thought that maybe she’d be able to feel the bond when she turned eighteen on her birthday but I was wrong.”

Anastasia held her breath as she listened attentively to the story, very invested in it already as she patiently waited for him to continue. Since her dad was half-wolf, she had grown up learning about wolves as both her parents – even though her mum was human – believed it was important that she embrace all parts of her, even the quarter-wolf part that had been seemingly recessive and pretty much non-existent her whole life.

That included learning about mates so Anastasia knew just how important mates were too each other, each and every pairing specifically picked out and selected by the Moon Goddess. While she made no mistakes, mates couldn’t rely solely on the bond to keep them together but rather, just like a human couple would do, they would need to work to make their relationship thrive.

Regardless of all of that, there was nothing more important to a werewolf than their mate and sometimes, just sometimes, Anastasia scarcely allowed herself to wonder what it would be like to have a mate of her own however, she wasn’t able to dwell on such thoughts for long as Harvey had begun with his story.

“I thought that maybe she needed some time and space since we were still young but, on her birthday, she told me she wanted to go off to college before she settled down with me and like the idiot that I am, I agreed and promised that I would be waiting for her to return.”

“She never retuned?” Anastasia gasped; her decaf coffee long forgotten as she stared at him with wide eyes.

“Oh, she returned.” Harvey chuckled darkly as he shook his head and raised the mug to his lips to take another sip, almost as if trying to use the coffee to wash away the bitter taste the story left in his mouth. “She returned to the pack after four years. Four whole years of not seeing her, with just the occasional text back even though I would text her nearly every day. Regardless of that, not once did she suggest that anything was out of the ordinary or even wrong for that matter so it’s safe to say that when she returned with her fiancé and her stomach swollen with his pup, I was shocked.”

“No!” Anastasia gasped as she held a hand over her heart, beating wildly under her touch as she listened intently.

“Unfortunately, yes.” He sighed, a dark cloud hanging over his head. “I couldn’t stick around and watch them live a happy life together knowing that I was the one that she was destined to end up with, so I packed up my stuff and left. That was a few months ago and now, here I am.”

“I’m so sorry.” She murmured quietly, an apologetic look on her face, her heart hurting for him. “I shouldn’t have asked.”

“No, it’s okay. You didn’t know and I could have chosen not to answer if I didn’t want to.” He shook his head, attempting to smile for her sake, though it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “After everything that I’ve been through, I just needed to get away from the whole pack dynamic. After transferring to the Silver Claw pack, the Alpha has granted me to live on neutral territory as long as I don’t cause any trouble.”

Anastasia offered him a gentle smile but going forward, she didn’t know what to say next. Before she could wrack her brain for what to say next, Byron beat her to it.

“What about you?” He countered, quirking an eyebrow in her direction.

“What about me?”

“I just told you about the train wreck that’s my life. I think it’s only fair that you return the favour by indulging me.”

Anastasia quirked a questioning brow, a small smile playing on her lips.

“As if I haven’t told you enough already?”

“Humour me.” Harvey insisted, a small smile on his face.

“I’m not completely human.” She chuckled as she said, watching his reaction closely. Just like the few other people that she had told, both shock and surprise were evident on his face.

“You smell human.”

“I’m not sure if I should be offended or not, but everyone says that to me.” Anastasia paused to laugh softly, pushing her coffee away as it had turned cold now so she was no longer interested in it.

Harvey frowned as he watched her intently, even going as far as to squint his eyes, his eyes travelling over her face, almost as if looking for the part of her that wasn’t human. When he was able to spot nothing out of the ordinary, he wondered if she was only pulling his leg but with the serious look on his face, he knew the answer was no.

“How is that possible?”

“My dad is half-werewolf, from his father’s side.” She grinned widely as understanding dawned on him as it did on everyone else whenever she told them.

“That makes you quarter werewolf. No wonder I couldn’t smell it on you.” He exclaimed in awe. “Wait. What about your mum?”

“She’s completely human.”

“She’s your dad’s mate?”

“He’s never met his mate.” Anastasia shook her head. “My dad’s convinced that he doesn’t have a mate since he’s half-human so I guess that makes things easier for them. I would hate to see my dad have to choose between my mother and his mate. They’ve been together for nearly thirty years now.”

“Well, I never saw that coming.” Harvey chuckled as he raised his mug and knocked back a large cup of coffee. “I guess looks can be deceiving.”

-

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Layla Knight

17.10.2020

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