LucienneI’m sitting in Sorsha’s kitchen, waiting for water to boil. I thought some tea might be good for both of us. After Coles call I’m feeling even more restless. I feel selfish for wanting him to sit this out but I can’t stop myself. He isn't fully healed, what if he gets hurt again? What if he dies this time?
“Are you going to talk to him or ice him out?” She joins me at the counter.
“Probably ice him out,” I give her my most convincing fake smile.
“It’s what he deserves,” she gives me the same fake smile.
She reaches out and takes my hand, I can feel her fingers trembling.
“They will find her,” I whisper, “Cole will give his life to make sure of it.”
Tears slip down both of our faces. We sit silently, holding each others hands and crying.
At some point I wake up, my head hanging forward onto the counter. Sorsha is beside me in the same position. I stand up quietly and stretch. After creeping down the dark hallway to check on the baby a hanging frame catches my eye.
It’s a picture of Cole, he’s sitting on a tire swing with two small boys in his lap. They all look so happy.
“Jack and Samuel, my two oldest,” Sorsha says quietly causing me to jump, startled.
She obviously had the same idea when she woke up because she peeks her head into the room with the sleeping baby.
I walk slowly, looking at all of the hanging frames. Cole is featured in several of them, playing with kids, Christmas, different events through the years. There is a picture of him with a little girl in a sparkly dress, she looks about five or six. Her arms are around his neck tightly and they have huge smiles on their faces, like they’re both laughing. Another picture shows him with Alpha Elijah, they’re shirtless, holding their arms up to show their muscles. Even in my miserable state I crack a small smile.
She points to a picture of her family, Alpha Elijah, Sorsha and all of their kids, they are arranged around Santa Claus. “He’s in the Santa suit,” a quiet giggle slips past her lips.
I don’t believe it. I stand up on my toes and look more closely, it’s definitely his eyes peeking out from under the hat.
“He’s been with us so long, he’s a part of our family. That makes you a part of our family,” she whispers.
I sigh and walk back down the hallway. It doesn’t feel like I’m a part of anything. He has his life and I am an add on to it, but it’s like I’m separate. Cole and I aren’t partners, he doesn’t want me involved with anything real.
Sorsha comes to sit next to me on the sofa. She looks exhausted.
“I know that it all sounds like excuses at this point but I know that Cole didn’t mean to exclude you.”
I sigh, “I know... but... at some point he’s going to have to remember that I’m here. We’ve only just found each other, I know that there is an adjustment period, I just wonder how long I’m going to have to be an afterthought. I was standing right in front of him, and he forgot about me. This mission is important and personal, I can see from the pictures that he loves your daughter...”
“You’re his mate though. Elijah comes before everything, he is my mate, my partner, my other half. Cole needs to put you in that place and learn how to open up, to stop just reacting before you’ve been included in the process.”
Tears well up in my eyes again. It feels really nice to be heard and understood. I feel self-centered and dramatic for being so upset about this given all of the other things going on.
I wouldn’t have tried to stop him from going. It’s that he didn’t even care that I was there, that I would be worried, that we are mates and the he is barely healed from a serious injury.
“Maybe I need to lower my expectations,” I wipe my eyes for the millionth time, “we might not have that kind of relationship. Not all mates do. Some are less like partners and more like... ”
“No!” she sits up straighter and grabs my arm, “don’t accept less than you deserve. He needs to straighten up. Don’t just accept that you guys will be the kind of mates that don’t treat each other like partners! Your feelings matter. I know Cole doesn’t want that kind of relationship. He’s just an idiot.”
“Thank you, Sorsha. You don’t need to be worrying about me right now. There are much bigger things happening.”
“Nonsense, it actually helps me stay calm. I can’t just sit here and think about her.”
“That makes sense, I’m still grateful for your understanding. I feel stupid and selfish with everything that’s going on.”
“Don’t. If I was in your position I would feel the same way.”
We fall into easy conversation about lighter topics, both of us trying to distract ourselves from the fact that our loved ones are in danger.
When her phone buzzes on the table we both freeze. She walks toward it cautiously, like the phone itself is something to be afraid of.
I stand and tiptoe down the hall to check on the baby, giving her some privacy. He’s sleeping peacefully. He’s only one, he has no idea what’s going on around him.
When I come back into the kitchen she is pacing back and forth.
"They found her," her voice shakes nervously, "The security camera footage was able to narrow their search down, and the guy Cole knows there was able to rustle up a name, someone that was looking for an abandoned building off the beaten path. They found her and they're driving to her location right now."
Nausea settles into the pit of my stomach. Now comes the danger.