“Hey, dad.” Marcellus sighed as he ran a tired, frustrated hand through his hair.
“Dad?” Anastasia questioned with wide eyes as she glanced between the remaining two men in the room.
Now that she was really paying attention, Anastasia wasn’t quite sure how she had missed the resemblance between both the men. While Marcellus wasn’t an exact spitting image of his father, they shared the same eyes, hair colour and sharp, angular jaw.
“Yes, I’m Marcellus’ dad.” Maverick chuckled as he walked around the desk with his hand extended, his smile widening as she accepted it with a nervous smile of her own. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to meet under such circumstances, but nonetheless, I’m glad to meet you, Anastasia.”
“Likewise.” She murmured quietly before sneaking her hand to her side and rubbing it on her thigh as discreetly as possible but when both men erupted in laughter, she knew that she had failed.
“Sorry, I’m just nervous.” She couldn’t help but apologise in a sheepish look.
“There’s nothing to be nervous about, honey. We’re all family now.” Maverick chuckled before turning his head to face his son, his smile dimming slightly as his eyes narrowed. “Unless my son has fucked up already.”
Anastasia couldn’t help but grin at his words, no longer feeling as nervous about meeting her mate’s father – especially when they hadn’t had a chance to talk and clear the air yet – but after that ice breaker, she quickly felt her nerves start to slip away.
“How did you know?” Marcellus couldn’t help but ask, surprised that his father had managed to pick up on everything in such a short amount of time.
“I didn’t.” Maverick shrugged as he crossed his arms over his chest. “But judging by your reaction, I do now.”
Unable to help herself, Anastasia threw her head back and laughed at Maverick’s actions before deciding to take a seat while the father son duo battled it out.
“Dad, let’s not do this right now.” Marcellus groaned into his hands, eying his father through the gaps between his fingers. “Anastasia and I have a lot to talk about right now but how about we all have dinner together?”
She nodded eagerly, more than happy to spend more time with her mate’s father, especially if things went according to the plan in her mind.
“Make it lunch and you’ve got yourself a deal.” Maverick bargained and grinned wickedly as his son sighed and nodded his head; giving in.
As Marcellus all but shooed his father out of the room before he embarrassed him further in front of his mate, Maverick glanced over his shoulder one last time. “Don’t go easy on him, honey. Feel free to lay it on thick. He’s a big boy. He can take it.” With those last few words and a teasing wink for good measure, Maverick Storm was gone.
“Sorry about my dad.” Marcellus groaned as he closed the door behind him, his back still pressed against it.
“Don’t apologise. I like him. He’s funny.” Anastasia couldn’t help but grin as she leaned back in his chair.
“Oh, don’t encourage him.”
“Too late.” She snickered but as the mood in the room quickly dimmed and turned serious, the smile slipped off her face as she stared back at her mate; the room suddenly feeling like it had shrunk in size. “We need to talk.”
“That we do.” He whistled lowly as he moved to take a seat opposite her; sitting behind the desk for once but with his mate sat in his usual seat, he had absolutely no complaints.
“Before we get into the serious stuff, I wanted to thank you for letting me stay here for the night.”
“Of course, but you don’t have to thank me. You’re my mate and it’s my duty as an Alpha to protect you.” Marcellus nodded his head, a soft look in his eyes.
“Is that why you came after me?” Anastasia couldn’t help but ask even though she had been the one to insist that they speak about Thea first but with her mate sitting in front of her, she felt the need to fix things between them but before that could happen, they needed to be honest with each other.
“Why would you think that?” Marcellus questioned even though he already knew the answer.
She shrugged and forced herself to hold his intense gaze even though she felt the need to look away. Not because she felt the need to be submissive – rather the opposite as she was far from submissive, even more so when she was around him – but because she feared he would be able to figure out everything she was feeling through her eyes.
“The same reason why you decided to keep us being mates secret for so long.” She stated simply with a shrug of her shoulder in hopes of appearing nonchalant.
Marcellus bowed his head in shame but nodded his head, having deserved the jab as she spoke nothing but the truth.
“I’m so sorry, Anastasia.” He apologised as he lifted his head and held her gaze, needing her to understand just how sorry he truly was and how much he regretted everything that he had done wrong.
“You’ve already said that before.” She murmured quietly with a small frown on her face, her eyes lingering on his slumped shoulders and tense body, almost as if he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders even though they had passed on the child trafficking issue to the council to deal with.
Anastasia couldn’t help but frown at that but before she could question him about it, he was quick continue.
“This is going to be long and you’re not going to like much of what I have to say, but please hear me out.” Marcellus all but begged before starting on all that he needed to say. “Before I saw you for the first time, I kept scenting you all around the pack house for about a week. One time, I’m pretty sure I barged into Raphael and Justas’ room as I thought you were in there. When I first saw, it was about a week after and you were asleep. It was then that I realised that you were pregnant and I’m not going to lie when I say that it broke my heart.”
Anastasia opened her mouth to defend herself, not quite sure of what direction he was heading but he begged her silently, knowing that it was now or never. If he fucked things up now by not completely and utterly honest, he would never get this opportunity again and he would spend the rest of his life looking back and regretting this moment; cursing himself for letting her slip through his fingers.
Albeit hesitantly, she pursed her lips and nodded her head slowly.
“The reason I snapped at you that first day was because I couldn’t stand the sight of you pregnant and the thought that you had started a family already; that you had started a family with someone else even though it shouldn’t have been me.” Despite the difficult words which felt heavy on the tip of his tongue, he forced the words out as he knew that this was one moment to make things right, and that would only be possible with the absolute truth; regardless of how ugly it was.
“I know it doesn’t make sense as there was no way of you knowing that you would even have a mate, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. Every time I looked at you or thought of you, all I could think of was the fact that you betrayed me even though you never did betray me.” He groaned aloud and ran his hands down the side of his face, struggling to stomach the truth. “You’re right about me judging you from the moment I first set eyes on you. One look and I had already made up my mind that you had betrayed me even though that clearly is not the case and for that, I’m so sorry.”
“I’m not making excuses but after that, everything just spiralled out of control. I told myself that I would stay away from you and that it wouldn’t matter if you knew we were mates or not but I just couldn’t.” Marcellus sighed and shook his head. “I just couldn’t stay away from you. The more I saw you, the more I wanted you but every time we got even remotely close, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that you were having someone else’s baby. As we started to get closer, I kept telling myself that I would tell you the truth but every time I tried, I either bottled it or something came up. The fact that the council was putting pressure on me to take a mate just made everything all that much worse.”
Anastasia couldn’t help but snort and roll her eyes at his words, not bothering to hold back the evident look of annoyance on her face after everything that he had put her through.
“It was only after you had given birth that I found out you were only a surrogate and the baby wasn’t actually yours, but things had already gone on for so long then that by the time I had finally forced myself into telling you, you had already managed to figure it out. Things just started getting worse after that. You wouldn’t speak to me and every time I got close to you, I just kept fucking it up. I’m so sorry, Anastasia. I know my actions are inexcusable and I don’t expect you to forgive me after everything that I’ve put you through, but I need you to know that I’m sorry.” Despite the fact that his voice was wobbling with emotions and his eyes were now glassy, his lashes suddenly heavier, Marcellus forced himself to go on as this was just the very least of what she deserved.
“You also need to know that not for one second did I ever think that you were not good enough for me or not worthy. That couldn’t be farther from the truth and I will spend forever making it up to you for making you feel that way, regardless of whether you choose to reject me or not today.”
“And all of this could have been solved if you just came to speak to me.” Anastasia frowned deeply with a firm look on her face as she blinked back at him with an unimpressed look on her face.
“I know.” Marcellus sighed and as he turned his head away from her in shame, unable to face her anymore after everything that he had done and the despicable way that he had treated her. “I know I’ve fucked up beyond repair and that I don’t deserve you as a mate, so I completely understand that you’d want to reject me.” His lips turned down at the corners in the biggest, saddest frown that she had ever seen but instead of interrupting, she allowed him to continue as she sensed that her mate had a few things left to say.
“I just want you to know, Anastasia, that if you decide to give me this one chance, you won’t regret it. I won’t let you regret it. Ever.” Marcellus spoke aloud, his voice strong and firm with determination like the true Alpha that he was. “But I also know that I’ve done so many unforgiveable things and that I can’t expect your forgiveness, not after everything that I put you through.”
Anastasia allowed his words to settle in the air between them for a moment before she spoke up.
“You want to know another thing that you’ve done wrong?”
He nodded with a distant, sad look in his eyes despite trying to hide it from her. If the off chance that she decided to give him one more chance and stay, he wanted to stay because she wanted to and not because he had guilt-tripped her into it.
Marcellus was a proud wolf but more than that, he was a sorry mate.
“You put words in my mouth.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not going to lie to you and say that I hadn’t considering rejecting you after everything, but this past day, everything has changed.”
“How so?” Marcellus dared to ask as he held his breath; fearful of her response as it could either make or break him.
“Yes, you’ve fucked up. Really bad, but I have to admit that I’ve played a small part in this whole thing too by refusing to hear you out. Mostly because I was hurt as it seemed like you didn’t want me and thought me to be unworthy of being your mate.”
“I do want you. I’ll always want you and I never thought of it like that. More than anything, I was hurt and used that to make very stupid decisions.”
“I know that now.” She sighed and nodded, offering him a small smile in hopes that it would take him out of his misery. “I also know that going forward, we need to learn to communicate with each other better because this can’t happen again.”
“What are you saying? Going forward?” He asked, unable to hold back the hopeful tone.
“I want us to work.” She finally admitted aloud, suddenly feeling so much lighter now that it was out in the open.
“I want us to work, too.”
“But?” Anastasia questioned, very easily able to pick up on the hesitant look on his face.
“How can you forgive me?” Marcellus asked even though he knew it was equivalent to kicking himself in the balls but this moment wasn’t about him but rather, it was about his mate, even if it meant sacrificing his own happiness for hers.
At the end of the day, it was always her happiness that would matter the most to him.
“When I was there, alone and in the dark for so long, all I could think about was the fact that the last time I saw you, we had this huge argument and I threw you out of my house even though you deserved it. I kept regretting the fact that we never had the chance to live to our full potential but most of all, I hated that I was not on good terms with you.” Anastasia blinked back the tears as her bottom lip wobbled slightly more so at the feeling rather than the memory. “But most of all, I hated that we were angry at each other and that our egos were getting in the way of us simply just talking to each other and fixing things. I vowed to myself that if I manage to make it out of there, I’m going to hear you out and try and make this work because it’s the least that we owe to ourselves.”
“I’m so sorry.” He whispered again but this time, he dared to stand up and walk around the desk, slowly closing the distance between them. “I’m so sorry, my little spitfire.”
“I’m sorry, too.” She murmured quietly as she met him halfway, swallowing her pride as reached out for his hand and entwined their fingers together.
“You have nothing to apologise for. You haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Maybe not, but we’re both in this together.”
“Till the very end.” Marcellus promised as he raised her hand and pressed his lips to the back of it in a lingering kiss, his eyes locked on hers.
“Till the very end.” She couldn’t help but repeat in a breathy voice.
Now that they had cleared the air and spoken through all of their problems, Anastasia suddenly found it difficult to breathe as she stared at her mate, unable to bring herself to look away even though that was the last thing she wanted to do right now.
With nothing holding them back from being together, her teeth sunk into her bottom lip and as he took a step toward her, a dark, promising look in his eyes, a breathy, hopeful sigh escaped her.
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