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

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Chapter Twenty-Two

ALPHA MARCELLUS STORM

“Hi.” He whispered, his whole resolve near crumbling as she turned to gaze upon with her beautiful baby blues.

A moment passed in which her breathing hadn’t so much as changed. He frowned at that, wondering if she hadn’t heard him but before he could repeat himself, his wolf needed to add his two cents.

Maybe if you didn’t speak like such a pussy, she would have heard you.

And what do you suggest? Scream at the top of my lungs and declare my undying love for her?

Well, that would definitely escalate things. His wolf snorted but before he could further inject his musings and recommendations, Marcellus was quick to shut him out. And just so we’re clear, I’m not the least bit opposed to that proposal.

Of course, you’re not. He scoffed.

When he returned his attention to his mate, he was surprised to find her staring back at him with a frown on her face, so intense that her eyebrows furrowed together in the middle.

“Hi.” Anastasia murmured quietly before turning her head away from him and to continue staring at the forest, though he didn’t miss the way her eyes lingered on him, almost as if she was forcing herself to look away.

When her eyes landed on a long stick by her foot, she pressed a hand against her stomach and leaned forward to pick it up, needing something to distract herself from the big bad Alpha wolf that was currently staring holes into the side of her head despite it being the middle of the night.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” She asked abruptly, refusing to look at him as she dug the edge of the stick into the ground, beginning to dig a small hole.

“I could ask you the same thing.” Marcellus hummed quietly as he continued to observe his mate, his arms crossed over his chest as he internally battled to keep his wolf at bay.

If his wolf had his way, then he would be telling Anastasia that they were mates before proceeding to tell her that he was completely and utterly in love with her already. And while that was not far from the truth, Marcellus wasn’t sure if he was ready to tell her the truth yet, more so afraid of the way she would react after the way he had treated her a few weeks ago.

“Fair enough. I couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d come out and get some fresh air.” She hummed quietly. “Now what about you?”

“What about me?” He questioned with a mock puzzled look on his face even though he knew exactly what she meant, just wanted a reason to hear her speak some more. He especially loved the little line between her eyebrows that popped up whenever she frowned.

“What are you doing up this late?”

“I haven’t gone to bed yet.” Marcellus found himself admitting honestly, not really sure why he was opening up to her yet the notion was not unwelcomed.

Anastasia nodded as she continued randomly digging the stick into the ground, quickly swallowing the question that was on the tip of her tongue.

“You look like you want to say something.” Marcellus hummed, watching her closely, unable to take his eyes off her. “You can ask whatever you want. I won’t mind.” He urged her quietly, wishing for her to open up to him even if he didn’t deserve it.

“I’m only here because I had an appointment with the pack doctor.” Anastasia began with a roll of her eyes, not even sure why she was opening up to him as he most certainly didn’t deserve it. “I had initially planned to leave as soon as the appointment was over but we went out for dinner and then I was tired so Justas and Raphael insisted I stay here. The only reason I agreed to stay the night was because they said you had been at a neighbouring pack all day and probably wouldn’t be returning tonight since it was already so late.”

For a few moments, Marcellus just blinked down at his mate, at a momentary loss for words. While the Alpha in him didn’t approve of the tone that he had used on her, both him and his wolf came to the general consensus that she was displaying such characteristics that he had used to describe his ideal mate earlier that day.

“And you’re worried that I’m going to get angry at you?”

“Yes, since you literally drove me off your pack lands last time.” Anastasia raised her chin even though she still refused to look at him. “But I guess it doesn’t matter since you’ve already done that before.”

Marcellus chuckled lowly, though the sound came out slightly strained. If he was wearing a tie, he would have loosened it.

“That’s really come back to bite me in the ass, hasn’t it?” He chuckled but when she made no indication or effort of answering his question, he pushed himself to continue. “I hope Raphael has extended my apology to you for my behaviour the other night.”

“He did.” Anastasia replied curtly, not even trying to hide the fact that she was still bitter about the way he had treated her, especially since she believed herself to not have done anything that came even remotely close to warranting such behaviour.

“And?” He prompted her in a small voice, confused with her response.

“And what?” Anastasia questioned in a monotone voice, finally lifting her head to stare him in the eye.

If it was someone else staring his directly in the eye and speaking to him in such a tone, Marcellus would not have hesitated to show them his true colours and demand submission. But since it was his mate, he couldn’t help but feel proud that she was able to hold her own against him. Even more so since she was human and he was an Alpha wolf.

To be fair, you deserve for our mate to treat you this way.

You mean us.

No. I definitely mean you. His wolf denied with a snort. You’re the one that blew up at her the other day and drove her away from the pack. Not me. So, you better fix it now or I will.

If Marcellus didn’t agree with his wolf, he would have growled threateningly at his wolf even though they both made up the Alpha that they were. Instead, he sighed and angled his body in her direction, careful to maintain the distance between them.

“I apologise for my behaviour toward you the other day.” Marcellus began his genuine apology, a soft look on his face as he maintained eye contact with his mate, needing her to understand that he was nothing short of sincerely apologetic. “I clearly overreacted over something very small and I should have apologised to you in person instead of getting your friend to relay the message for me. I’m sorry.”

Anastasia blinked up at the Alpha wolf, remaining silent for a few moments as his words settled in before her lips twitched slightly at the corners. However, she refused to give in so quickly and fought to keep the smile that threatened to erupt and take over her whole face at bay.

Since she would become a staple visitor of the Lupum Griseo pack, she needed him to know that he couldn’t treat her in this way.

“I don’t need your apology.”

Both Marcellus and his wolf went into internal panic, but when he noticed her struggling to keep the smile off her face, his body relaxed and he released a sigh of relief, his wolf chuckling with how funny their mate was.

“But I appreciate it.”

“How about we start again?” He offered in a hopeful tone.

“You think that’s a good idea?” She quirked a questioning brow, a soft smile on her face.

“I do.” He insisted, fighting the urge to hold out his hand for a handshake like he would do whenever meeting someone new, regardless of species, pack, gender, title or anything else. “My friends call me Mars.”

“Well, we’re not exactly friends though, are we?”

“But we could be.” He suggested lightly even though he wanted to be much more than just friends, even if he still did have his reservations.

“We’ll see about that.” She laughed softly before turning her face away from him, only able to remain stoic under his hard gaze for so long.

“I guess we will.” Marcellus laughed softly as he reached a hand up to brush it through his hair, pulling slightly on the ends as he willed himself to keep up the strong resolve in front of his mate.

When she had her baby blues on him, it was like he forgot to breathe.

“Well, since we’re starting over, let me start by introducing myself as Marcellus Storm, Alpha of the Lupum Griseo pack. Welcome to my pack.”

A moment passed as she watched him carefully, trying to see if he was making fun of her but when he huffed and sent her a pointed look, she finally caved in.

“I’m Anastasia Mulberry, a human who lives in neutral territory about an hour from here. I’m a school teacher by day, but aspiring author by night.”

“Aspiring author?” Marcellus asked, his eyebrows rising in surprise. “What kind of books do you write?”

“Well, I haven’t published any books yet but I’ve recently found myself a literary agent so hopefully that will change soon.” Anastasia threw her beautiful mane over her shoulder and before laughing softly and crossing her fingers.

“That’s really cool, actually.”

“Yeah, I like to think so.” She grinned and nodded her head, finally warming up to him. “What about you? Any hobbies?”

“Outside of running the pack, work and training, I don’t really have time for much else.” Marcellus shook his head but then a surprise notion sprang to mind. “Well, not unless you count writing movie reviews.”

“Movie reviews?” She asked, sitting up a little straighter as his words piqued her interest. “Tell me more.”

“Don’t laugh,” he began, though his words didn’t hold any meaning as he couldn’t help but laugh himself. “But I have this anonymous blog where people suggest movies for me to watch and I review them.”

“How did this all start?” Anastasia chuckled, unconsciously angling her body toward his and dropping the stick by her side as she gave him her complete attention.

Marcellus couldn’t help but grin at her response and eager to keep her attention, he explained just how the movie review blog had started a couple years ago and now, brought in a couple of hundred people every day. While these numbers certainly weren’t high by most standards, it certainly gave him a lot of movies to watch and keep him busy whenever he did find any spare time, though that had seemingly reduced these past couple of months. However, he looked forward to making some time for it again soon.

Light conversation passed between them but when she gnawed on her bottom lip and turned her gaze away from him, he could tell that she wanted to ask him something but struggled to string along the words – either that, or she was trying to build up the confidence to do so, not that she lacked in confidence from what he had seen – and so sat back and allowed her all the time she needed.

“Why were you at a neighbouring pack all day?” Anastasia asked suddenly with a curious look in her eyes. “Was there some sort of celebration?”

“Not exactly.” He denied as he rubbed a hand down his jaw, struggling to describe the whirlwind of a day that had just passed; time literally flying.

“Oh.” She hummed aloud, not prodding him for further information if he didn’t want to talk about it.

Marcellus sighed and ran a hand down his jaw as he thought of the best way to tell her how his day went without scaring her with the details on what had happened toward the second half.

“I ended up getting caught up in a few things, but ultimately, the whole point of the trip was to possibly pick out a potential mate.”

She frowned lightly as she stared at him, the loveable line between her eyebrows returning as she thought hard. “What do you mean by pick out? I thought werewolves were granted soul mates by the Moon Goddess.”

“That’s true, but it’s sometimes difficult to find your fate destined mate as essentially, they could be anywhere in the world. There’s also a few other rare factors to consider but unfortunately, sometimes wolves don’t always meet their mate.” Marcellus murmured quietly, unable to look her in the eye as the truth of the matter was that his true mate was sitting in front of him right now.

Why he was telling her this, he had no idea.

“I’m assuming you haven’t met your mate?”

While he visibly battled within himself, he sighed before choosing to indulge her in the truth, not capable of bringing herself to lie to his mate.

“It’s complicated.”

“I can only assume.” Anastasia murmured quietly. “But does that mean you’ve already met your mate?” She asked warily, aware that she was treading on what she could only assume was very sensitive territory.

“It’s complicated.” Marcellus repeated himself even though he confirmed her suspicion with a gentle nod of his head.

Sensing that he didn’t want to talk about his mate situation – or lack thereof, it may very well have been – she was quick to change the subject.

“Well, since I asked you something personal, I guess it’s only fair you get to do the same.” Anastasia shrugged as she sent him a pointed look.

“I don’t mean to be rude but…” Marcellus murmured through a sigh, very aware that he was currently treading on dangerous territory. Not just for her, but for himself.

Whatever way she chose to answer now, could either make them or break them, and it was so much worse that she had absolutely no idea how much her words mattered to him.

“But you’re wondering if the dad is in the picture?” Anastasia chuckled quietly – much to his surprise – and she pressed a hand against her stomach absentmindedly, not even realising that she had done it.

When he nodded, she laughed.

“Don’t worry. You’re not the first person to ask and I doubt you’d be the last either.” She laughed as she raised her hand to rest in the space between them. “I think it might have something to do with the lack of a ring on my finger. As if people can’t have children without getting married.” She hummed aloud, but quickly diverted her attention back to what he really wanted to know. “To answer your earlier question, the dad is in the question, but not in the way you think.”

“What do you mean?” Marcellus struggled to hold back his scowl at her answer, having to rub a hand down his mouth in attempt to hide it.

“Just like your mate situation, I’d rather not talk about it right now. I mean, we have just met.”

Marcellus forced a light chuckle, though nodded his head in understanding.

I can’t do this anymore. Marcellus sighed and bowed his head, staring down at his hands as he opened up yet another conversation with his wolf. I can’t stay away from her when she’s this close. She’s so damn perfect.

It’s about time. His wolf snorted, though that wasn’t enough to conceal the fact that he was beyond overjoyed with his human’s decision.

But we can’t tell her the truth now. He was quick to continue before his wolf could get angry at him. It’s been over a month since we kept this from her. If we tell her now, we’re just going to upset her. We’re going to have to break this news to her gently.

Fine! His wolf sighed. You have a point there but we can’t take too long or it’s just going to seem worse when we finally do tell her.

Before he could respond or continue the conversation, his mate interjected herself into the conversation, unaware of the internal battle that he was struggling with.

“Are you talking to your wolf?” She asked curiously.

“Yes.”

“What’s that like?”

“Talking to your wolf?”

“Having a wolf.”

“It’s like having a best friend built inside you.”

“That sounds amazing.” She murmured quietly, a tinge of jealousy seeping into her voice. “What’s he saying?”

“He says hi and that he’s glad to meet you.” Marcellus chuckled as he relayed an appropriate version of what his wolf truly wanted to say to her.

She laughed softly and returned the greeting, brushing a few loose strands of hair away from her face.

“You know, my dad is half werewolf.”

Marcellus turned his head sharply in her direction at the sudden admission, having not expected anything like that at all.

“So, that makes you quarter wolf.”

“Yes.” She smiled lightly, still drawing aimless patterns into the ground by her feet with a lone stick. “Unfortunately, being quarter-wolf doesn’t qualify me in getting a wolf myself.”

There were so many things that Marcellus wanted and questions that he required answers to. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the chance to ask as before he could get the words out of his mouth, a sharp gasp passed her lips as she bent over and clutched her stomach, laboured breaths suddenly passing her lips.

His body froze and his eyes widened in shock as he watched her intently, but very quickly sprang into action when another gasp escaped her, very quickly followed by a high-pitched scream.

Marcellus jumped to his feet and scooped her up into his arms before he took off in a run toward the pack hospital, already screaming at the pack doctor through mind link, demanding that he meet them there as soon as possible.

Electric sparks erupted all over his body as the mate bond was shocked to life at the sudden shock, especially after having refrained from kindling the bond and trying to keep it at bay for over a month now.

He wasn’t sure if he would come to regret this but right now, in the moment, his mate and her well-being was all that mattered. However, with the pained expression that had taken over her face and the horrifying gasps and shrieks that continued to pass her lips, it appeared that he was failing her already.

-

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Layla Knight

21.10.2020

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