Beloved Runt: Part I

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6- Dalton West

I was going to kill Teddy. He needs to keep his big mouth shut. Especially around the great lord and even more so when talking about Artemis.

What the fuck were you thinking! I yelled at him through the pack link.

I don’t get what the big deal is! He had questions about the book and since Artie is the one who does them…

He doesn’t need to know who does the books Teddy. He just needs to know what they mean. He is already sniffing around out women I don’t want him focused in any way on Artemis.

Sorry sir.

The other warriors knew a soft spot for Artemis. She had a hard-enough time walking around with a limp and she was always self-conscious of her scars. I didn’t want anyone making her nervous by looking into her so closely. Dad lectured me the night before saying that we need to shelter Artie from our royal guest. I was already planning on it. She has enough on her plate already.

Lord high and mighty was still looking at the books. We had been at this more a couple hours now. How long does it take to go over a few records? It wasn’t like there was anything wrong with them. Artie was amazing. She always took the time to double and triple check her work there was no way she made a mistake with anything. It was thanks to her that we were so stable financially. I wanted to hurry this up. The sooner we get through this the sooner this lord would leave and the sooner things can get back to normal.

“Is there anything else you would like to see my lord.” I was growing very impatient. The lord turned to meet my gaze. I wasn’t even trying to hide my annoyance.

“Actually, there was one thing. That young woman Artemis. Very interesting name.”

“Something wrong with her name sir?” I struggled to keep the growl out of my voice as my protective instinct in kicked in. My wolf didn’t like the man talking about Artemis.

“No, I actually quite enjoy it. My question is with such a unique name I didn’t find it at all in your pack registries. Did I overlook it?” Shit. I forgot about that. Artemis in not in the registries because she wasn’t born here and there wasn’t enough information to request a formal transfer.

“Artemis is actually her middle name sir. Only first and last names are listed in the records.”

“Really?” He lifted one eye brown in question of me. Damn he wasn’t buying it. Too late to fall back on it now.

“Yes sir.”

“Then out of curiosity what name is she listed under.” I needed to think quickly. Not wanting to seem suspicious I gave the first name I could think of.

“Jessica sir. Her name is Jessica.” I walked over to the records book and found Jessica’s name pointing it out to him. “See. Jessica Reynolds.” Lord Edmon looked at it.

“Ah I see. Curious that she would go by her middle name though.”

“Yeah, I guess but to each their own.”

Dude, why did you say he name was Jessica? Teddy shouted at me through the pack link.

Let it go Teddy.

It was another 45 minutes of searching through endless records before Lord High pants was satisfied. At least it was over. One more thing checked off before he can leave.

The women folk weren’t due for a while yet, so I went to check on Artemis. I’d been worried about her ever since I saw the bottle on Tylenol. Knowing Artemis, she was downplaying how bad she felt.

Before visiting her, I stopped by the kitchen and made her a sandwich. She is the only person I know who actually likes bologna. I grabbed an orange for good measure along with a bottle of water.

As I walked down the stairs, I felt the chilled air creep up from her lair. I don’t know how she stands it down here but for some reason having it be cold helped her. If it meant I got goosebumps every time I visited, so be it.

Artie didn’t have a lot in her room. Unless she wasn’t feeling well, she wasn’t in it much. She had a nightstand with a lamp and a dresser in one corner, but most of it was taken up by a big pile of pillows and blankets plopped in the middle of the room. It’s something of a weird quirk of hers. Dad always thought it had something to do with she never really knew her biological mother. Artemis would always find soft things in the house and add it to her pile. Over the years the pile grew until it became a mass of fabric, pelts and feathers. The other pack member often referred to it as her den. It was really her safe space. No one disturbed her there unless it was for good reason.

As I looked around the room, I could smell her everywhere but couldn’t see her which meant she was buried in the blanket pile. I carefully climbed over the many layers balancing the plate of food until I reached the center. Then carefully, layer by layer, I started peeling back the pile. I was about four layers in when I finally uncovered her. She had been sleeping under everything. How she could breathe under everything was beyond me.

I could watch her sleep all day. Sometimes I did. Artemis always said I was like a brother to her but to me she was so much more. Her curly raven hair covered part of her face. But I could still hear her steady breathing. I hate to wake her, but I wanted to make sure she ate.

“Artie? Hey sorry to wake you, but I brought you lunch.” She didn’t move which wasn’t unusual. Artie was a hard sleeper. She pretty much had to be with so many people in a pack house above her. “Come one Artie. If you don’t get up, I’ll give it to one of the warriors instead.” I brushed her hair from her face, and she felt warm to the touch. Shit. I placed my whole hand on her forehead and that only serve to confirm she had a fever.

I went into full overbearing protection mode. Tunneling my arms under her I lifted her upper body to sit up leaning on me. An annoyed moan garbled out of her. Ok she isn’t too far gone. I grabbed the water bottle next to me and twisted the top off.

“Artie you need to drink this.” I held the bottle to her lips, but she just moaned and try to turn away. “Artie so help me, drink the water!” This time when I held the bottle up, she started sipping from it. I held it to her for a few second before pulling it away from her.

“What time is it?” I heard Artie whisper.

“About 2 o’clock.” I replied back.

“Already? Crap I got to get up.” Artie attempted to crawl out of her blanket pile, but I could tell her heart wasn’t behind it.

“Don’t even think about it, missy,” I said pulling her back. “You are burning up. You’re parking it right here.”

“But all the women are to show up for a pack meeting in an hour. Everyone is required to be there.”

“Everyone but you. You are only required to rest. You can afford to miss one meeting. When is the last time you took Tylenol?”

“mmm…like….6 hours maybe.” It’s been long enough she could take another dose. I looked around her room and spotted the bottle sitting on her nightstand. Crawling over the pile I was able to grab the bottle and plop right back next to her. I popped open the lid and tipped out a few pills before shoving my hand in front of her.

“Here take these.” Artie just scowled at me and grabbed the pills before silently tossing them down her throat. “Now the water,” I said holding the bottle out to her. She took the bottle with just as much enthusiasm as the pill and swallowed a few gulps down. Her glazed over eyes continued to scowl with me but I knew she didn’t have the energy to really put up a fight. “Alright I have to head out I’ll check on you later. I better find you haven’t moved from this spot when I get back.”

Artie gave a small annoyed moan as a response and laid back down into the pile pulling up a bear pelt over her. Satisfied she wouldn’t move, I got up to leave.

“I’m leaving a sandwich on your nightstand. Be sure to eat it.” The grumble I heard was as close to a yes as I was going to get to at this point. I didn’t want to leave her there alone, but duty awaits.

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