“Are you sure about this?”
“For the thousandth time today, yes!” He growled, his wolf finally rising to the surface after her incessant repetition of the same question.
Instead of getting scared like most other humans would – as werewolves usually held themselves back around humans so as to note startle or scare anyone – Anastasia merely laughed at him, having seen him lose his temper like this over assignments back in college; immune to it now.
She knew that he wouldn’t ever dare treat or growl at her in a serious way, and so was able to laugh about it.
“That’s not fair!” Raphael pouted as his wolf returned with his tail tucked between his legs. “You’re supposed to get scared when I growl at you.”
“I was the first time back in college, but I’m pretty sure I’m immune to it right now.”
“You’re not supposed to become immune to werewolves growling at you. That’s weird and any other human would have pissed themselves right now.” He huffed and continued folding her clothes before unceremoniously dropping them into her open suitcase on the ground.
“I hate to break it to you, babe, but you’re not exactly the scariest guy out there.” Anastasia chuckled and bit her lip as he stared at her from under his lashes with a dumbfounded look on his face.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Raphael asked through narrowed eyes but this point, they just enjoyed riling each other up.
“You’re more cute than scary.”
He raised a hand up to stroke his chin, making a show of considering her words.
“Upgrade that to sexy and I’ll take it.”
Anastasia snorted but before she could deny his request, they were interrupted.
“You guys really are something, aren’t you?” A chuckle sounded from behind them, causing both Raphael and Anastasia to glance over their shoulder at the intruder, though the former had already sensed him approaching.
“I thought I told you there was no need to come in?” Raphael mock frowned and braced his hands on his hips as he playfully glared at his mate.
“Well, there clearly is.” His mate chuckled as he gestured to Anastasia’s suitcase which was only half packed and all the clothes that now littered her room.
Anastasia rolled her eyes and turned back to face her wardrobe.
“The way your mate is acting, it’s like I’m never going to come back to my apartment or something.”
“Well, you might enjoy living at the pack so much that you never want to leave.” Raphael sighed dramatically as he launched himself back on her bed in the sea of clothes, bouncing lightly on the mattress from the impact.
“I highly doubt that.” She snorted as she turned around and returned to the suitcase with a handful of clothes, all of which needed folding to be able to fit. “Plus, I doubt Marcellus would allow that.”
When pin drop silence filled the room,
“Marcellus?” Justas sounded in surprise; his lips turned down at the sides slightly. “I know you don’t live by normal werewolf conventions, but it’d probably be best if you refer to him as Alpha or Alpha Marcellus while you’re at the pack house.”
Raphael nodded. “Other wolves may see it as a sign of disrespect.”
While she agreed with them and saw where they were coming from, just wanting to look out for her, Alpha Marcellus himself that he had wanted her to call him by his name and not his title.
“But he said I could call him Marcellus.” Her voice trailed off, unsure as she remembered the happenings of that night at the pack house a few days ago.
“He told you that?” Raphael asked, his jaw dropped and threatening to hit the ground as he stared back at his best friend with wide eyes, almost as if unable to process the information that she had just dropped on him.
“Yes.” Her lips turned down slightly as she nodded her head slightly, puzzled by their reaction. “But if the pack finds it disrespectful then I’ll just address him as Alpha. No big deal.”
Justas opened his mouth to comment further but before he could get the words out, they both rushed to her side almost immediately after a pained gasp escaped her.
“What? What’s wrong?” Raphael questioned with wide eyes, bracing his hands on her shoulders and staring down at her as she pressed a hand to the side of her protruding belly, an uncomfortable expression on her face as she hunched forward slightly. “Is it the baby? Is the baby coming? Do we need to get you to the hospital?”
Anastasia groaned again but this time, it didn’t hurt as much.
Justas stood back quietly and watched her from under careful eyes, thinking clearer than his mate.
“Is it Braxton hicks again?” He asked quietly as he reached out to hold her elbow and begin to guide her to the bed where she could take a seat.
She nodded lightly and squeezed her eyes shut.
“Do you want to lie down for a while?”
Anastasia shook her head as she released a prolonged sigh, the worst of it having passed by now.
“I’m fine, guys. Nothing to worry about.” She waved a dismissive hand in the air, but her argument fell through as she winced at what appeared to be the false contraction.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” She tried to assure them with a smile, but both males stared back at her with worried expressions on their faces.
Justas crouched in front of her, raising a hand up to feel her forehead. “It doesn’t seem like you have a temperature or anything. Does it still hurt? Do you want to go to the hospital or pack doctor just to be sure?”
“No.” She denied with a shake of her head. When her eyes travelled up to meet those of her best friend’s and was greeted with the clear concern and worry shining in them, she sighed and smiled softly. “Guys, you really don’t have to worry. If something happens or if I feel even the slightest amount of pain, I’ll let you know.”
Justas glanced over his shoulder, seemingly mind linking with his mate so Anastasia just sat back and watched with a longing look on her face.
Even though her father was half werewolf and never gotten his wolf, she had always hoped that the same thing wouldn’t happen to her. She knew it was very unlikely since she was only quarter wolf however, that wasn’t enough to deter her and so once she had hit puberty and there was still no second voice or entity in her head, she had finally given up hope.
After her father had left his pack for college, he had met her mother and had then made the decision that the werewolf life wasn’t for him. Mostly because being around wolves his whole life just reminded him of the fact that he wasn’t like them even though his father was fully wolf – his mother human. And now, it appeared the same thing was happening with Anastasia.
Having lived her whole life away from werewolves, only coming across a few of them at college – Raphael being one of them – she had purposely applied for jobs near packs and neutral territories. Even though she didn’t have a physical wolf, it felt nice being around wolves. Especially since she saw herself akin to them in some distant way.
As her dad was more wolf than her, he had pretty much nearly all of the typical characteristics and benefits of a regular wolf – apart from the actual wolf – while Anastasia merely benefitted from quickened healing and a high metabolism. But apart from that, she was no different from a regular human and sometimes, especially in times like these, she wished the wolf part of her was more dominant.
From where she stood from the outside, there were so many perks of positives and perks of being a werewolf, having a mate being one of the greatest ones.
As Justas and Raphael mind linked each other in front of her, something so simply and common for them, Anastasia couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy.
Growing up, she had been aware that her mother was not her father’s mate, and that in fact, her father had never met his mate – not that they were even sure that he had a mate since he was only half wolf. If he didn’t get a mate, she sincerely she would get a mate either and while that saddened her, it did make perfect sense.
She would never mention it to Marcellus, but being welcomed into his pack by some of the other wolves had made her immensely happy, the happiest she had been in a long time. Even though she was different and technically not one of them, they didn’t treat her any differently and for that, she would forever be grateful.
For what not the first time since meeting him, Anastasia was immensely grateful for Raphael and the huge part that he played in her life. While he was the best friend any girl could ever wish for, he also helped her learn more about the part of her that had been such a mystery her whole life, her dad not really being a big help since he was only half werewolf himself.
“Okay, it’s decided.” Justas announced loudly as he rose to his feet. “We’re going to finish packing your suitcase while you sit and get some rest since you insist that you’re fine.”
Even if she did want to complain or resist, she knew that with the determined look on both of their faces, she wouldn’t win so like the good girl that she was – pun intended – she kicked her feet back and took a little nap.
It was only once they had finished packing her suitcase that Raphael woke her up and together, they all walked out of her house, making sure to lock up the place properly as she wouldn’t be back for another month or so, planning to spend her entire maternity leave at the pack house.
The next time she would return, it would be sans pregnant belly.
Anastasia wasn’t sure what she was expecting when she finally arrived at the pack to officially start her maternity leave from work, but she was looking forward to spending the little time until the baby arrived around her friends and the loving parents of the child she was carrying.
Although, through the small sea of wolves that had huddled outside to greet and welcome her, she didn’t find the hazel green ones she was subconsciously looking for.
She knew it was highly improbable that Marcellus himself would be standing outside the pack house waiting for her, especially since he was Alpha and mostly likely had a million other things that required his dire and immediate attention, but she couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
Unfortunately, this disappointment spilled in the next few days where she hadn’t spotted the Alpha wolf anywhere. She couldn’t quite prove it, but she had an inkling feeling that the big bad wolf was purposely going out of his way to avoid her at all costs, especially when she had sworn that she had seen him in the kitchen that one time, but then he had instantly disappeared after she had blinked her eyes.
Well, either that or pregnancy was making her crazy. Anastasia chuckled at the thought, especially since she couldn’t completely rule it out.
“You look hungry.” A soothing voice sounded aloud, causing Anastasia to blink and return to reality, a momentary break from the musings in her mind.
“You fed me a full English breakfast not even half an hour ago.” She chuckled as she gazed back at Mary, the head chef for the pack house and very much-loved member of the pack.
“Yes, but when I was pregnant with my Billy, I was hungry all the time.” Mary laughed softly as she continued working at the stove, glancing back at Anastasia from over her shoulder.
“You have a point there.” She chuckled and pressed a hand against her stomach. “It’s like I never get full anymore.”
“Well, that’s being pregnant for you.”
Anastasia laughed softly.
“What are you doing, Mary?” She asked curiously, trying to look around the woman’s back, though was unsuccessful from the kitchen stool that she was sat on.
“I’m just plating up some breakfast to take to the Alpha. He skipped dinner last night.”
After receiving an answer that she hadn’t expected, her lips parted in surprised as she was at a momentary loss for words.
Anastasia knew that she was probably overthinking it and completely off mark, but she couldn’t help but think that he was purposely going out of his way to avoid her and now, was skipping meals to do so.
She wasn’t quite sure what she had done wrong to warrant such behaviour, but she didn’t appreciate it one bit and demanded answers. However, she wouldn’t be able to get any if he continued to ignore her like this.
“Are you okay, dear?” Once again, Mary’s question snapped her back to reality.
“Yes.” She nodded as she pushed back the stool she was sat on and slowly rose to her feet, careful not to move too fast. “Why don’t I take it for you?”
“No, I couldn’t ask that of you.” Mary dismissed with a simple shake of her hand as she placed a plate of food, a cup of coffee and a tall glass of water on a tray and lifted it into the air.
“It’s honestly fine, Mary.” Anastasia tried to assure her with a wide grin on her face. “I need to speak to the Alpha about something anyway.”
Mary frowned slightly but eventually gave in.
“Fine, but only because you insisted.”
Anastasia grinned back at her before accepting the tray and slowly waddling out of the kitchen, through the living room, past the stairs and down the hallway where she knew his office was the first door on the right and his bedroom the second.
Balancing the tray in one hand, she raised a hand and knocked gently three times.
A few moments passed and when she couldn’t hear anything from behind the door, she wondered if he wasn’t in his office. She moved over and knocked on his bedroom door but when she was met with the same empty response, she found herself standing in front of the office door once again, considering trying to knock again in case he simply hadn’t heard her the first time. However, that argument was trumped by the fact that he was a werewolf and had probably been able to sense her walking around the pack house since the moment she woke up.
Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
However, before she could turn around and leave, he called out to her.
“Come in, Anastasia.”
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