In the Shadows of Dryden

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CHAPTER 38 - Mother’s story

Disclaimer: This chapter may be triggering to reader’s sensitivity to the topic of infant loss or reproductive issues!!! Reader’s discretion is advised.

Richard’s POV

I’m right about to open the door to my office when I get a notification on my phone. I let out a heavy sigh and pull it out of my back pocket to have a look at it. My workday has been absolute hell! It started with me getting an emergency call that ended getting me to pass my entire night in the operation room, personally attending to the latest victim. Then I had the unavoidable task to provide updates to John Cortney. A not-so-nice update, to say the least. We were still unsure if his wife would survive her injuries. I’m not a fan of any of the Cortney’s but it was heartwrenching to give him the news. I can’t imagine what I would have done if it had been Clarisse. Then, I had to go clean up and go on a meeting with Dr. Diana and the forensic team for their latest finds on the other victims, taking the rest of my morning. When I was about to call Clarisse to ask her out for lunch, I got buried with pack issues. My day didn’t seem to want to improve any time soon.

My phone screen lighted up and I read the Police information about a live Press Conference today. I sighed again, looking around for no specific reason. Everybody was looking at their phones too. It was to be expected, the Police always send notifications for things like that. Still looking toward the hospital entrance, I open my office door right as I see Tania, the head nurse, running toward the TV. I watch as she turns on the big screen in the waiting room and turns up the volume for everybody to hear. Closing my office door back again, I slowly walk towards the reception while placing my hands inside my pockets. I stay a bit back, stopping a few steps away from it.

It’s an interesting turn of events. They are on the lookout for the Forest Ghost, huh?!

The instant the mayor starts talking, I turn around and head to my office. Inside, I turn my own TV on to finish watching while I mind-link my beta and gamma.

“I assume that you guys have seen the press conference by now?” It was a rhetorical question but I still allowed them a brief pause to answer me.

“Yeahh..” Answered Lee.

“Hmm.. a bit hard not to.” Answered Vann right after Lee.

“Goodie! I want every available wolf sniffing the forests for the Ghost. Let me know the moment you find him.”

“Ay!” They answer in unison and I drop the mind-link just as there is a light knock on my door. I really do hope it’s not another problem for me to take care of. I seriously need a break.

“Come in!” I bark.

The door cracks open and I’m immediately hit by the amazing smell of lavender flowers. My body instantly relaxes with the smell as I see my beautiful mate enter my office. I stand, going to meet her by the door, automatically latching an arm around her waist as I lock the door behind us before walking her to the sofa.

“Issa! What a wonderful surprise!”

She smiles softly but tilts her head a bit when she takes me in.

“What happened to you? Are you alright, Rick?

I chuckle a little, waving her questions away.

“I’m fine. Just… haven’t gotten any sleep yet since yesterday.”

“Oh, no! What happened?” I give her a quick hug before we sit.

“Well…” I tell her how my long workday has been so far. I even add ordering my beta and gamma to find him themselves. She will be my Luna so no point in lying to her now.

“Sounds hectic.” She answers. I shrug and give her a question too.

“Yeah, alpha life can be quite busy. But enough of myself. How was your day, honey?”

Clarisse’s face turned sour, even pouting slightly. She turned her face away from me and crossed her arms.

“What’s wrong?”

“Your mother! That’s what’s wrong!”

“My mother? What did she do now?” I couldn’t help to feel a bit of anger for my mother.

“She came to my workplace! Said she wanted to talk with me, that we had got off on the wrong foot.”

“And did you two talked?” I asked, slightly placing a hand over hers, expectant. She shook her head. She was mad.

“How could I? She tried to kill me not too long ago!”

“She wasn’t trying to kill you, just turn you.”

Clarisse snapped her head to glare at me.

‘I think you’re making our mate mad. I don’t like it!’

I ignore Vrejh and his low growl, letting out a sigh. Moon Goddess, I’m really tired.

“Issa, honey, my mother has gone through quite a lot in her life. Sure, it doesn’t give her the right to attack you the way she did but she meant well… in her own twisted way.” I look away during the last bit of my sentence, one hand rubbing the back of my neck.

I could feel Clarisse’s eyes throwing daggers at me.

“Alright… would you at least listen to my story?”

She shifted in her seat, leaning away from me, elegantly crossing her legs and maintaining her arms crossed in front of her chest. Neither Vrejh nor I liked being that far from her but at least, she looked like she agreed to hear me out. I got up and walked to the liqueur cabinet to make myself a Godfather, a blend of bourbon and amaretto. With my drink in hand, I went to sit on the sofa chair opposite Issa. It might be best if I’m not too close to her after all.

“I am the oldest of three siblings. My parents were beyond happy when they found out she was expecting twin girls.” My eyes riveted on the three ice cubes in my drink as I swirled it around for a few seconds.

“One night, my mom decided to go to bed earlier while my father and I stayed in the living room playing card games with some pack members. We had a lot of fun until…” I frowned, remembering that night. “We heard her scream. While everybody froze in place, looking at one another, my father bolted upstairs. I ran after him as soon as I processed what was happening. My poor nanny followed behind, trying to hold me back. Trying to stop a 7 years old boy from seeing what was happening with his own mother.”

I sipped on my drink, feeling the welcoming burn of the drink going down my throat.

“When we got to their room, there was an immense amount of blood under her. Till today, I can still see her grimacing in pain while desperately trying to hold her round belly. My nanny managed to pull me out of the room just as the pack doctor and nurses arrived. My nanny took me to my room and stayed there with me. It was many hours later that my father came into my room, slumping over a chair.”

I lean forward in my own seat, arms resting over my legs as I stare down my drink. To lost in my thoughts to have noticed that Clarisse was covering her mouth and tears were rolling down her beautiful face.

“It took over an hour before my father told me what happened. My mom was supposed to have delivered the twins that day but there were complications. The doctor and nurses did everything they could but the twins were stillborn. My mom had lost too much blood and was taken to the hospital in a hurry. She spent days in the intensive care. She almost died that day.”

“Oh my God!” She gasped.

“After that day, my mother was never the same. It was like a part of her had died with them, together with my twin sisters. She blames herself for losing them.”

Without me noticing, Clarisse had walked from her seat to kneel on the carpet right in front of me, placing her hands around mine. She looked sad, reflecting the pain I was feeling.

“Why did she blame herself? It wasn’t her fault!” She said.

“She was the pack alpha, not my father. He was actually acting more like the luna. Anyways, werewolves can feel their mates feelings. Pain, happiness, anger and so on. We also have mindlink, which facilitates our communication with the rest of the pack anytime we need it. Due to the intensity of her pain and her overexerting herself while avoiding a shift, she wasn’t able to do either.”

Clarisse tilted her head ever so slightly, trying to understand what I said.

“My father should have felt her pain before she even screamed but he didn’t feel anything. She was also unable to call for help herself, it was my father that mindlinked the pack doctor.”

“Oh…” She says, letting a few tears fall off her eyelids. “Why did she try to shift? To give birth?” I shook my head slightly.

“No, pregnant she-wolves cannot shift or they risk injuring the babies. Because my mom had lost too much blood, her wolf was instinctively trying to help her heal by trying to take control of her body and shift. She was fighting her own wolf while enduring all the pain and blood loss because she knew that if she shifted, it would hurt the babies.”

“Oh, no!” She gasped.

“Over the following years, her lack of interest for the pack drove my father to take over in her place until I could assume the alpha position. Once I turned twelve, he stepped down for me to take over the pack.” I rubbed my forehead with the cold glass of my drink, closing my eyes in the process.

“Twelve?... but, you were just a kid!”

“Hmm! I was way too young for the position.” I agreed, looking past her to a random spot on the wall as if remembering the past. “My father ended up helping me until I turned fifteen. Taking over the pack at such a young age definitely forced me to grow up fast.”

Lifting my glass up, I drank the rest of my drink before Clarisse took it from me to place it over the table. When she turned back to me, I pulled her toward me, making her sit on my lap, cheeks instantly turning a darker shade of pink.

“Wh… why…” She stuttered, grimacing slightly. “… attack me though? Why take it into her own hands to force me into becoming a werewolf?”

I pulled her into a hug, enjoying the contact with my mate once again.

“I’m her only kid. After she lost the twins, she was left unable to get pregnant again. Every white wolf is a Moonwolf too, meaning that she’s chosen by the Moon Goddess. Mom became overprotective of me. She often takes action when she thinks it’s something difficult for me to accomplish or that may hurt me in the process.”

“Were you going to bite me without asking my consent?”

“NO!” I answer without any hesitation. “I would never do that to you without your consent. She knew that! That’s why she did what she did.”

She lifted her face to better take me in, gauging if I was telling her the truth.

“Listen to me, Clarisse. I would never make you a werewolf without your approval! I want you to be with me because you love me. I’d never force you into anything you didn’t want. I’d die for you, Clarisse!” After a moment of staring at each other’s eyes, Clarisse buries her face in my neck, hugging me tightly in the process.

“I… I will give her another chance…”

A smile creeps onto my lips, this woman makes me so happy.

“And I will be beside you the entire time!”

We cuddle up on the sofa chair for a good time before my belly starts complaining about lack of food. We gaze at each other and chuckle together.

“How about we go have dinner?” She asks.

“I think I could use some food.” We stand up and walk toward the door to leave.

Finally, my day was starting to get better.

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