Ember Rains (Book 1)

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Chapter 3: Risk

“Where are you headed?” I asked, watching her closely.

I selfishly hoped she didn’t have anywhere to go. However, as she looked down biting her lip clearly embarrassed I felt my stomach lurch. I regretted hoping she had nowhere to go, because that meant had nobody. She didn’t deserve that, no one did.

‘Help her.’ Brooke moaned miserably at me.

“Come with me. You’ll have a place to rest and heal.” I offered softly.

“I don’t think…” She started, shaking her head with her untrusting expression tightening even more.

“Doesn’t he need a rest?” I asked calmly, gesturing to her son. I didn’t know what I would do if she said no.

‘Follow her around till she passes out then carry her home. We can’t leave her out here to die, she’s hurt.’ Brooke growled.

‘I know.’ I responded as I watched her bite her lip thinking over her options.

“Mommy, why is his hair blue?” The little boy asked suddenly, looking around his mother to gawk at me again.

I smiled as Myra’s ears and cheeks turned bright red again. She looked torn between embarrassment and fear. It was clear that she didn’t like that the boy had drawn attention to himself. My heart aches with the overwhelming power of her fear. I could feel it, if only minutely.

“It’s just the light buddy, my hair is so black that in some lighting it looks blue.” I smiled at his own tousled black curls as he stepped out a little further.

He wore nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. His fair skin was dust and his shaggy curls were matted with mud. However, unlike his mother, he bore no sign of injury. No blood, not even a bruise, showed proof to his hard life. He just looked like a kid who had played outside in the mud.

“That’s cool, does mine do that too?!” He asked walking farther out.

“A little yeah.” I answered squatting so I was at his level. “You want to come with me? I’m pretty sure there’s pizza and ice cream at the house.”

Excitement flashed across his face before he crossed his arms and glared at me. “Are you going to hurt my mommy because she’s tiny, and you’re bigger than her?”

I looked up just in time to see Myra literally face palm with a deep sigh. Anger flared in my chest, but I forced myself to smile at the little boy. His innocence helped dull my fury. I was glad, I didn’t want to frighten the boy. He seemed actually okay around me; nervous but okay.

“No, I would never do that.” I said seriously.

“Okay.” He grinned widely at me, “Ice cream!”

This time I had to chuckle at Myra’s exasperated expression. She sighed, rolling her pale brown eyes, before she smiled down at the boy. Her love was evident even in the frustration. She grabbed his hand and waited for me to lead the way.

I smiled encouragingly before I started through the trees. They followed, walking a couple feet to my right and out of arm’s reach. I noticed painfully that Myra was meticulous about placing herself between her son and me.

Suddenly she stumbled and grabbed her side grimacing in pain. I fought the urge to reach out and steady her. I wanted to pick her up and run to the pack doctor, but I knew any quick movements would only make things worse.

“Are you okay to walk?” I asked, concern evident in my voice and I was sure on my face.

She nodded quickly, straightening with some difficulty. She shifted away from me again. I could only imagine how weak and vulnerable her wolf was feeling right now.

I wanted to stand in front of her and defend her. I wanted to hold her and never let go. I wondered if she could possibly be feeling the same magnetic pull I was.

‘She can’t.’ Brooke answered my unspoken question. ‘Can’t you feel the walls all around her? She won’t feel anything until she trusts us enough to let down her guard.’

I could feel his sadness and pain on top of mine. The emotions together were almost as overwhelming as the quiet. Luckily we weren’t left in silence long enough for it to get awkward.

“What’s your name? I’m Tyler but mom calls me Ty. Are you the Alpha? Is that why I had to do what you said?” The questions rolled off the kids tongue without space for breathing in between.

I noticed Myra stiffen slightly when he said Alpha. I could only assume as to the reason behind that, but it wasn’t a hard guess. Goddess knew there were alphas out there worthy of nothing but fear.

“Richard, and no I’m just Beta. However, because you are in my pack’s territory I have some authority.” I shrugged passively.

“So why didn’t you just make Sye go away instead of fighting with him?” Tyler watched me wide eyed.

“Tyler.” Myra snapped, but she knew it was already too late.

Tyler had given me a huge clue, they knew the wolf which meant he was most likely hunting them. They weren’t just rogues or victims of a random attack, they were runaways. Looking closer I saw faint scars up and down Myra’s arms and legs. I wondered how much more lay hidden under my T-shirt.

“It’s okay.” I smiled pretending not to notice the slip. “I couldn’t make him do anything because he wasn’t willing to stop and listen. He had his mind fixated on one thing and wasn’t going to stop and compromise. You and your mother were.”

“Mom always says there are hundreds of ways in and out of any given situation. It’s our job to keep our eyes and ears open so we don’t miss one.” Tyler nodded proudly.

I smiled then looked over at Myra whose gaze was fixated straight ahead. Her hair blew softly in the light wind, and she was slightly hunched against the cold. I wondered what kind of situations she had needed to get out of.

“Very wise advice.” I returned my attention to Tyler.

He was quiet for a few seconds looking suddenly cautious, almost afraid. He peeked around his mother but hid quickly when I looked down at him. I hated it, I wanted his trust already.

“You okay kid?” I asked, watching carefully.

He nodded thoughtfully, and continued glancing at me like I was the most interesting and dangerous monster in the world. I stopped turning to face then. I felt an urgent need to address this, and at least bring it to light. Even if I couldn’t solve the problem right now.

“Are you afraid of me Tyler?” I asked calmly.

Myra stiffened, stopping dead in her tracks and turning towards me. She watched me, one hand still wrapped around Tyler’s. The defensiveness in her eyes was impressive considering her current state.

I squatted in front of them, only a foot away, and met Tyler’s eyes. Tyler glanced nervously at his mom before nodding to me slowly. Though I had known the answer, it didn’t soften the blow.

“I’m sorry. I never wanted to frighten you. Your mom is hurt and I just want you both to be safe.” I spoke softly, not breaking eye contact.

“Why?” I wasn’t surprised when it was Myra who responded.

“Because you’re my mate...” I trailed off, glancing up at her. The realization suddenly striking me of what a stupid risk I had just taken.

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