Ember Rains (Book 1)

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Chapter 9: Protector

I sighed relieved to find Myra asleep on the couch with Tyler on the recliner to her right with a large bowl of ice cream. I smiled then slid down onto the floor leaning back against the couch by her feet.

“Why do you do that?” Tyler asked, frowning at me.

“Do what?” I looked confused.

He hesitated. I watched as his frown deepened and he bit his lips the same way I already knew Myra did when she was nervous. Then quickly he shook his head.

“You can ask me anything buddy. I’m not going to get upset.” I responded calmly.

He didn’t respond, only shifting uncomfortably in his seat. He seemed so different then he had been in the woods. The little boy out there had asked question after question with no reservations.

I sighed, “ Can I ask you something?”

He shrugged.

“Why are you so timid suddenly?” I asked, attempting to sound as approachable as possible.

His posture relaxed slightly but he still looked afraid as he looked at his mother fast asleep on the couch. He cocked his head slightly to the side before staring at me again.

“Mommy’s asleep, she can’t protect me now…” he whispered fearfully.

“I’m not going to let anyone touch you Ty.” I said honestly.

“But you like my mommy.” He said as if that fact contradicted my promise.

“Yes?” I frowned, fighting to make sense of his logic.

“Grown up men who like mommy, don’t like me.” He stated, watching me with a cautious gaze.

Brooke growled and I was glad we were on the same page here. I couldn’t imagine falling for a mother and rejecting the child. Even knowing he wasn’t biologically mine, I just wanted to show him what a real father was like.

“I like you, and I think we are going to be best friends.” I smiled kindly at him.

I waited as he judged my expression before climbing off the chair and sitting down next to me on the floor. There was only about a foot of space between us. Closer up the child had even more in common with his mother. Even his smell, while not drawing me in in the same way, made me want to be his protector; his father.

“You’re weird.” He nodded once.

I laughed in response. “Yeah I have heard that before.”

“Can I ask you something?” He asked, looking again like the excited kid I had met in the woods.

“Anything.” I smiled pleased that he at least seemed to believe me.

“Why are your eyes silver?” He asked.

I chuckled, “I don’t know. I guess it was from one of my parents.”

“Which one?” He asked, scooting closer.

“I don’t know. My parents left when I first showed signs of being different.”

“Wow, even your mommy?” His eyes grew even wider as I nodded.

“Did your dad leave?” I asked nonchalantly.

‘This is low Rich. Don’t talk to the kid about it, mate will get mad.’ Brooke said irritated.

‘I have to know if they’re being hunted.’ I growled.

‘Just assume they are and don’t make mate mad.’

I ignored him as I watched Tyler’s face.

“No. We ran away after he hurt me. I don’t remember. I was a baby but mommy says the line won’t go away.” He frowned, then smiled. “You want to see?”

He pulled down the collar of his shirt to show a large silver bite mark on his left shoulder far too close to his neck. Rage burned through me and Brooke snarled angrily. We both knew by experience how hard it was to scar a werewolf. Only silver, a blade coated in wolfsbane, or a bite from a wolf who has coated his teeth in poison would leave a scar.

To make it even worse, that meant the mark was not in the heat of the moment. It had to be planned methodically, and excruciatingly painful. I was only glad he was too young to remember.

‘His own pup?!’ Brooke howled furiously

“But mommy still always takes care of me. She says I’m okay now and it’s just like her scars it doesn’t hurt anymore.” He said oblivious to my growing anger.

I took a deep breath and reached out, sliding his shirt back in place. “I’m so sorry that happened to you, you don’t deserve that.”

His face was suddenly unsure he shrugged looking down at his hands, “I’m the reason she had to run from him. I’m the reason she’s alone.”

I couldn’t help myself, as the first tears slid down his cheeks I wrapped my arms around him pulling him closer under my arm. He didn’t fight it, and I wondered if he felt some form of bond with me as well?

“That’s not true and I’m sure your mom has told you that.” I said seriously.

‘If he did that to his son…’ I started unable to finish the thought.

‘What did he do to the random unmated female he got pregnant.’ Brooke groaned miserably.

I trembled at the thought as Tyler buried his face in my side trying to hide the tears. I looked up at my mate. I was more desperate than ever to know what she had had to endure.

The next hour passed quietly and eventually Tyler fell asleep in my arms. I laid my head back feeling the sleep coming over me as well. I had been patrolling all night and training new fighters the day before. I hadn’t slept in over 32 hours and I was exhausted.

As I rolled my head I felt it touch one of Myra’s legs and suddenly she sat up right. Her frantic eyes searched the room before landing on Tyler asleep on me. She met my gaze suddenly confused.

“He’s asleep.” I explained calmly.

“Why,” her voice broke and she cleared her throat. “Why is he laying on you?”

“He was upset.” I shrugged, “I comforted him.”

She didn’t seem to know what to say to this but clearly was more calm and relaxed then before. I had half expected her to snatch him up and bolt. Instead she laid her head down on the couch with a sigh.

“You have no idea how good it feels to sleep on an actual,” she hesitated then shrugged. “Piece of furniture.”

I nodded. After a minute she met my gaze and I realized, by the fiery red color of her eyes. I wasn’t talking to Myra.

“I’m sorry she doesn’t believe you… I’m sorry I don’t believe you completely. Please do something for me though.” Ember sighed, looking desperately at me.

“Anything Em. We would do anything for you guys.” I responded, Brooke’s excitement seeping through my voice.

She smiled tearfully, “Don’t give up on her. She is stubborn as hell and beyond guarded…” she paused frowning now, “But she needs you if we are going to survive the next year. We have been running from our past for so long, but I can feel it catching up to us.”

“I won’t let you die and I’m not one for giving up.” I said, my voice was ringing with determination.

She nodded once then closed her eyes. I blinked and everything was suddenly back how it had been.

‘Was that a dream?’ I asked groggily.

‘I don’t know.’ Brooke yawned.

However, I was wide awake now as a howl broke through the silence.

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