Chapter 20: Relinquo
“Pack,” Alpha Kaine tells me, pointing to a worn suitcase that was left open on my bed. There’s an identical one on his bed but it is closed, the zipper pulled tight around the building material.
“I didn’t think we were leaving for another week or so,” I say, opening the small dresser that I was allowed to keep in my room. It had been filled with various outfits since my moving in and my dirty clothes showed up clean and folded neatly within the drawers almost immediately after use without fail.
“There’s been a change of plans. We’re leaving as soon as possible,” he says. He bumps me as he reaches into the drawer in front of me for a handful of clothes, tossing them over his shoulder into the suitcase without a second thought.
“Is something wrong?” I ask, trying to tug him away before he destroys any more of the neat piles in the drawer. He huffs and backs away.
“No. Nothings wrong. We just need to go as soon as possible,” he tells me, pointing to the suitcase. When he notices my lack of movement he clenches his jaw and tries again to get me to start piling my things into the suitcase. “If you could just pack up some of your things so we could go, that would be great. If you are missing things arrangements can be made.” I don’t think I can stop my jaw from dropping slightly. He was flustered. His responses were short and his physical behavior was erratic. It was so unlike him. Sure he was angry on occasion but I had never seen him shake like a decaying leaf in the wind like he was in this moment.
“Did something happen with your family?” His eyes narrow at my question. On TV, the royal family had easily been portrayed as a loving, tight-knit bunch who were supportive and involved in each other’s lives outside of the castle. I assumed the reason for this visit was so the support could continue through the family as Alpha Kaine’s brother was appointed a new Alpha and given a District of his own to watch over.
“What?” He hardly glanced at me as he walked out to his own room and opened his suitcase to do a quick inventory of sorts. He pulled various items from the bag and set them down on his bed. I sigh and set the clothes in my hand on my bed and walk into his room, taking the pile and moving it over a tad so I could fold it later.
I catch his eyes as I move the suitcase to the floor and sit down on the bed, patting the space beside me. He pouts and sits down. We don’t speak as I stare straight ahead into the mirror and watch his reflection. He doesn’t look ahead like I do, he sits beside me and looks at the side of my face, waiting for me to turn so he can meet my gaze.
My fingertips ghost over his shoulder and reach up to tangle in his hair. His breath hitches and he lets me lightly stroke his scalp to calm him down. My nails graze his head in long strokes and I slowly direct his head to rest on my shoulder. That is when he turns to look at me in the reflection.
His eyebrows slowly pull away from each other as he looks at me. His pupils dilate and his hand that had previously been propping himself up on the bed moves to rest on the edge of my left leg. I have no idea if the contact is intentional or if it just happened that way but I let him rest against me for a moment before I try to speak to him again.
“Did something happen to your family?” I whisper to him like a mother soothing her child after a nightmare. “You can talk to me about it.” He doesn’t. He turns his face and rubs his nose against the side of my neck like a dog. I pat his head awkwardly as he does this, not quite understanding how Shifters behave when they are in distress or what is even distressing enough to cause the Alpha to come to a human girl for comfort instead of his own Enforcer.
“Do you have siblings, Anita?” The question is muffled in my hair and I almost miss it when he asks.
“Like brothers or sisters?” I clarify. He merely nods, his hand coming to curl in the fabric of my shirt, his head still nuzzled in my neck. “I was the only child that my mother had. I never knew my father. He was killed years ago by some Shifters. A hate crime in our Sector that targeted humans. He wasn’t the only one that died that night,” I say to him. Alpha Kaine pulls away from me as if I had burned him, taking my face in between his hands and staring deep into my eyes.
“Do you know who did it?” he demands. My mouth dries and I shake my head, fear consuming me. I continue to shake my head as his hands begin to shake. His breathing goes heavy again and he can’t seem to help himself from panting.
I can feel his breath fan my face as he continues huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf I knew he was on the inside. Alpha Kaine was dangerous. I had almost forgotten that he was an Alpha. I had been so wrapped up in our on and off casual friendship that I did not remember that he had feelings too. Feelings that could make him rip my throat out in ten seconds flat if he wanted to.
“I don’t know,” I shakily say to him. In a flash, he drops his hands from my face and stares at them for a moment. I bring my own up to cover the cheeks that he had just held tightly in his grasp. Did he mean to punish me for something I had no control over?
“What was his name?” he asks, quietly. My breathing remains heavy and I shake my head repeatedly, slowly at first, then faster in an instant.
“I don’t know the name of the Shifter who did it,” I say to him slowly. “We never even heard that he was dead until someone came to our front door and stapled a notice to it that he had died and we would need to cover all of his debt or else we would be punished by the order of the Alpha.” Alpha Kaine seems to think about this. I don’t know what he is thinking about but he seems to consider my words carefully as he maps out what he is going to say next.
“What was your father’s name?” he asks. I’m not sure if he’s trying to discreetly tell me that I understood his question wrong or if he’s trying to figure out who he was and why he was really killed. When they posted the notice to my door they detailed it as a hate crime. It was plastered in the papers a week and a half after he died. He was missing for that long.
There was no blood in the town square and no one crying over dead husbands or fathers that didn’t come home to them. It wasn’t a hate crime against the humans, it was a cold-blooded killing spree by a disgruntled Shifter and anyone in Alpha Kaine’s inner circle was probably a part of it.
“I’m not sure. My mother never really told me. She didn’t want me to worry about his death. I think she thought it would scare me,” I answer honestly. “She was probably worried that I would be angry and try to get justice for his murder on my own,” I continue.
“How is your mother, Anita?” I look down and chew on the inside of my cheek awkwardly.
“Oh... Um...” I cup my hand over my elbow and shift my feet on the carpet. Alpha Kaine still doesn’t meet my gaze as he clenches his fists in his lap.
“When was the last time you saw her?” he changes his question. I play with my fingers. ”How long?" he repeats, biting out the words.
“The last time I saw her was probably like three years ago now, I guess. I’ve been on my own for a while now.” He reaches his arm out and tries to drape it over my shoulder. For a moment I expect him to mumble an apology in my ear and try to make it all better but he just lets his arm fall behind me, using it to scoot closer to me and prop himself up like before.
“Do you know what happened to her?” he doesn’t ask any other questions about my father, he seems to only care about the general details of my family life and not all of the specifics. I try to imagine his face when I tell him about my theories over the whodunnit detail of my father’s murder.
“She... Uh... After my father died she started selling... Her body... To pay off the debts he left behind... And uh... One of the Lycans wasn’t satisfied with the performance she put on for him I guess... He told her to meet him for another night to make up for it and I... Uh... Never saw her again,” I cringe at the horribly worded explanation but Alpha Kaine seems to understand the message I’m trying to portray. “I don’t know if she is dead or not. I almost wish she was, just so I know she isn’t going through all of that. I don’t want to be the girl who wishes that her mother was dead because that would be silly but I really do wish that she is okay.”
I turn to Alpha Kaine and lick my lips. His eyes are wide with interest as I tell him the story of my orphanship. He nods once and his eyes flick down toward my chin. I watch him for a moment before leaning towards him, pushing on his shoulder so I can reach a shirt behind him to fold so we can pack for our upcoming trip to the castle.
“Is that why you became a criminal? To pay off the debts of your murdered father?” I nod once, setting the now folded shirt aside. This time when I reach for a shirt he moves aside and lets me take one from the smile pile behind him. He takes one as well and joins me in folding his clothes for easier packing and other organizational purposes.
“When are we leaving?” I ask.
“As soon as possible. I want to see my family. I haven’t really spoken to them in quite some time.” he says fondly before realizing the delicate subject that we just discussed only moments before. “Sorry,” he mutters, dropping his shirt into my growing pile.
“It’s okay. I’m over it,” He appears wary but doesn’t say anything else about it, correctly assuming that I don’t want any sort of pity from him about the subject. “How long will it take to get there? I’ve never really been outside of my Sector before, except when I was brought here of course.” He shrugs and sighs.
“It’s been a while since I’ve made the trip. A couple of hours I think. Three tops. It’s fairly close, I suppose. Just a bit north of here and we should be there. It won’t take nearly as long as it would if you made the trek on your own. Even with a good car, it would take you a good seven or eight hours. It would take thirty minutes or less if we flew but I don’t really want this trip to be broadcast to the District,” he explains.
“How will we get there if we aren’t taking the main roads or a plane? Surely Shifters can’t just teleport,” I scoff. He grins, tucking a stray strand of hair behind my ear.
“The tunnels of course,” he says as if it were obvious and I was a fool for not thinking of it earlier.
“Oh,” I say, my mouth parting in surprise.