As we neared the exit of the cabin I slowly began to grow a little more nervous. Had they heard us last night? But this meeting was also a cause for my nervousness because the meeting meant that we were closer to ending this and closer to a fight. We passed by the kitchen and Max yanked me to a stop. I stared up at him and knew that he was going to do his best to reassure me. He stepped closer to me, crowding me and I just continued to stare.
“What’s bothering you?” Max asked softly, reaching up and cupping my cheek. He ran his thumb against my cheek, continuing to stare at me with soft eyes as he awaited my reply.
“Do you think they heard us?” I asked, my voice as soft as I could make it.
“Yes.” He answered and I flushed. “Is that all?”
I shook my head, “This meeting means that we are getting closer to confrontation and-”
“You are still afraid for us.” He interrupted me and I nodded. “To address your first concern, you don’t need to feel embarrassed. What we did isn’t something to be embarrassed about. It’s natural Trinity, and the pack knows that.” He paused, “Maybe it’s a human thing to be embarrassed but for those of us who have grown up as wolves it’s not really embarrassing. Rhea may have been embarrassed this morning but that was because she had nearly walked in on us.
“For your second concern, I am going to repeat what I said last night. You don’t need to worry about us. We know what we have to do now and we know who our enemy is. The pack will work together and we will defend our own and avenge those who have died. Before we even go to confront the Rogues we will be sure to train and train hard so we aren’t caught unprepared.” He tilted my head up, “Does that reassure you?”
I swallowed, “A little. But I am still worried. Despite all the reassurances that you have given me, we still don’t know what the Rogues are capable of and we have no idea if the Hunters are going to defend them. They had helped them before, will they help them again?”
“Don’t worry about all the if’s. That’s why we are going to gather as much information as we can.” He smiled at me and tugged me closer, wrapping his arms around me. “Relax.”
I melted into his touch and closed my eyes. Maybe I was worrying unnecessarily. I sighed. I would trust Max’s word that everything would turn out okay. Max pressed a kiss to my forehead and then his arms fell away and he took a few steps away from me. I frowned, but that quickly disappeared when he grabbed my hand and tugged me after him as he opened the door to the cabin and headed outside.
There were fifteen tents set up outside and a few fire pits had been set up. People were wandering about, chatting and curling up in blankets. Some had designated themselves to be guards and sat as wolves around the perimeter, keeping their eyes trained on the forest. Max pulled me over to where Rhea was standing talking with Will, Josh, Harper and an older man with dark hair that was slowly starting to gray and a graying beard.
“What do we know?” Max asked, slipping into Alpha mode and I stared at him for a moment.
“Loup Chasseur has vacated the area,” The older man reported, “Clearly they expect a showdown and have retracted their support of the Rogues. It will just be them and us.”
“Summer Falls is slowly weakening,” Josh reported. “Well, not exactly weakening but with the Beta acting as Alpha they aren’t in the best situation and they won’t let the rightful heir be Alpha because the heir is a girl. They won’t let her be Alpha until she finds her mate.”
“So that’s why they won’t help us,” Max mused and Josh shrugged. “Is there anything else?”
“Wolves have been flocking into Hope Springs for an hour already,” Rhea answered, crossing her arms over her chest. Her eyes flickered to the ground, “Finley is among them and I don’t know if he is an ally or a foe. I could try to get into contact with him.”
Max shook his head. “That isn’t a good idea Rhea. It could jeopardize everything. When the time comes we won’t fight him but if he attacks us then we’ll have no choice but to attack him but for now he will be given the benefit of the doubt. Do we know anything else?”
No one replied and Max nodded a thoughtful look crossing his face. I squeezed his hand, leaning into his side as Rhea began conversing with Josh. I shifted on my feet after a few minutes and Rhea glanced at me before returning her attention to Josh.
Hadley appeared at my side and I jumped but no one spared me a glance. Max was too deep in thought and Rhea was probably the one who had contacted her. Hadley looped her arm through mine and tugged me away from Max. He glanced towards us, a snarl rumbling in his chest but otherwise didn’t react.
“Come sit with Leanne and me,” Hadley said, already tugging me over to where Leanne was sitting and entertaining little kids. She plopped down next to Leanne and pulled me down to join her.
The kids stared at me with wide eyes and I felt my cheeks heat up under their scrutiny. Hadley clapped her hands together, bringing their attention away from me and to her. Once she had all of their attention she launched into animatedly telling a story about a dragon, a princess and her prince who was a werewolf. The children giggled and laughed as Hadley told her story and when she was finished they bounced in place, obviously begging for more.
“Sorry kids, that’s the only story that I have today,” Hadley told them apologetically and they pouted. Some of them looked like they were about to cry. “Don’t cry kiddos. The Luna is here,” She gestured to me and just like that they were enraptured by me. “So how about you ask the Luna questions, and get to know her.”
I shot a panicked look in her direction but Hadley wasn’t looking at me. I really wasn’t good with children, especially if it wasn’t Maria. Several of the kids scooted closer to me and I shifted in my place, staring at them.
“Is Max your mate?” One girl asked. She had blonde hair pulled into pigtails and looked to be about three or four.
“Yes he is,” I answered, “He’s the best mate ever.”
“Better than the prince that Hadley told us about?” Another girl asked skeptically. Her brown hair looked red in the sunlight and she was wearing a dirty sweatshirt and a skirt.
“Much better than the prince that Hadley told you about,” I confirmed, but the little girl didn’t look like she believed me. “Why don’t you believe me?”
“Max can’t be better than the prince. Princes are the best.” The girl jutted her lip out, looking stubborn and I laughed a little.
“What if I told you that Max was actually a prince in disguise?” I dropped my voice to a conspiratorial whisper and the girl’s eyes widened.
“Really?” She breathed and I nodded.
The children chatted excitedly among themselves after that and I exhaled in relief. Now they would ignore me. Leanne leaned closer to Hadley and I and gave me a small smile.
“Hi Trinity,” She greeted me, “So do we have a plan yet? Or are we going to continue hiding like fugitives and let the Rogues completely take over Hope Springs?”
“We aren’t going to hide forever Leanne but I’m not quite sure what our plan is.” I shrugged, “Max is thinking of something, I guess.”
“Well you can think of something to,” Leanne said, her voice hard. “It doesn’t have to always be up to the males. Don’t be a damsel in distress. Think of something.”
I sighed. I wasn’t a damsel in distress but I didn’t have a lot of experience with this kind of stuff, Max did and so he was the better choice to come up with a plan. But I guess I could also pitch ideas and try to help instead of standing off to the side and just looking pretty.
I rested my head on my knees, staring forward. Maybe we could-
Trinity? Max asked and I jumped. Where are you?
I’m with Leanne and Hadley. Why? I answered, staring at the ground and I felt some exasperation through the bond.
Because I want to discuss the plan with you. Max answered.
You came up with a plan?
Yes, and I want to discuss it with you. So come here.
I struggled to my feet and sighed. I made my way over to Max who wrapped me up in his arms and I stared at him for a few minutes.“So what’s your plan?”