Chapter 07 - Family is What Matters
Ellianna’s hair was now stained with silver and grey streaks that polluted her chocolate brown hair. She had aged a lot in the last couple of years and I couldn’t help but feel as though a part of the blame was on me, the death of her son Darius had taken a toll on her, the pain still fresh when her mate, Nate’s father, passed away.
However, the pain was still fresh, with Darius and Lilian’s deaths after the war, Ellianna was now raising her oldest grandchildren – Nathan and Robert. She sat, legs tucked under her basking in the sunlight in the sunroom at the back of their house, wrapped in a thick woollen blanket. It was probably the first time I’d seen her at peace, not racing around after her adult children, not cooking for the masses, or chasing after her grandchildren.
I leaned awkwardly against the doorframe to the sunroom and racked my knuckles lightly on the wooden frame – her eyes fluttering open and landing on me.
Her cool grey eyes stared at me, and it felt like the longest minute, before tears brimmed in her eyes and she stood from the chair, pulling me into a warm embrace, “it’s so good to see you,” she sobbed.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it wasn’t this.
My own dam of emotions shattered, and I broke down in tears in her arms, the embrace was filled with unconditional love – love that I didn’t deserve, that I didn’t know I needed, “I’m so sorry,” I sobbed.
“Oh darling,” she whispered, pulling me from the hug and dabbing at my tear stained cheeks with her sleeve, “none of it was your fault,” she said.
“But, your mate,” I hiccupped.
She smiled softly, “my husband, my mate, died because he was blind to the darkness that his family had grown. Had Nate lost, I still would have buried a son and my mate still would have passed away from shame. It is what has been fated.”
Her hands were coarse, the skin thick and though, but her touch soft and caring as she cupped my face in both her hands and looked into my eyes, “come, you need a cup of tea.”
She took me by the arm and sat me down at the kitchen counter and went about making a fresh pot of tea, “how do you like your tea?” she asked, getting two tea cups out of the cupboard.
“White with sugar please,” I smiled, as I cleared up the last of the tears out of my eyes.
She poured the tea into the pot and got out the sugar and the milk, “I know why your hear,” she smiled, tilting her head towards the diamond ring on my finger.
I blushed and fidgeted with my hair, “I was hoping you could help me,” I admitted, “I don’t have my own mother to help me, so I was hoping you would, you could be there for me.”
She smiled softly, a light returning to her eyes, “of course Alice, I would be honoured to. Have you two talked about dates?”
“We haven’t talked about it that much to be honest, with the pack house burning down, we’ve both been very busy this last week,” I sighed.
She smiled sweetly, “of course, well have you thought about any wedding things at all?” she asked.
I nodded, “yeah, I’d love my friends to be my bridesmaids.”
Ellianna looked taken back “friends? As in human friends?”
I blinked at her a couple of times, “no, they’re werewolves, from my old pack back in Portland,” I clarified.
“Oh, of course,” she agreed, nodding her head but deep in thought.
“Did you not think I had friends?” I asked, my curiosity getting the best of me.
A slight blush burned on her tanned skin as she met my gaze, “I’d actually assumed you were a bit of a loner, because you came to Savage River with Nate so willingly.”
I scoffed, “I didn’t really see a way out of it,” I shrugged, “he’s my mate after all.”
Ellianna tilted her head with agreement, “that’s true, I had thought you might want Patricia as a bridesmaid, she has been very absent this week, it might be the distraction she needs.”
“I’d love to have Pet as my bridesmaid too, I’m sure she’ll love my friends.”
“How many are we talking here?” Ellianna asked, and I could feel her starting to become a little overbearing.
“Nate never told you, did he?” I asked, crossing my arms.
Ellianna seemed to freeze and looked up from the tea, “tell me what?”
“Why I left.”
Ellianna shook her head, “he wasn’t partially vocal about you after you disappeared.”
I sighed, “Nate killed my best friend Jenny,” I replied coldly, letting the words sting the air between us.
“She and my two other friends came to the pack for my Luna ceremony. She found her mate and they’d spend the following months getting to know each other, he was a guard. A guard and a traitor,” I said, taking me teacup and pouring the milk in and stirring my tea.
I looked up at Ellianna and the colour seemed to have drained from her face, “as punishment, my best friend was murdered, she wasn’t even fully mated to him, and she was killed for it. So I left, because I couldn’t see myself being with someone so unjust.”
Ellianna exhaled and closed her eyes, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“My friends, they are my family Ellianna, and I would do anything for them. At the time, that included leaving Nate.”