“I love you, mama.” Her son announced proudly from beside her, his lips curled up in a wide grin as he stared at her with hopeful, twinkling eyes.
“I love you, too, baby.” Thea chuckled as she gazed down at her little boy, not for one second falling for his charms. “But you’re still not getting any chocolate.”
Huffing, Malik frowned as he slithered down in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest, making a show of purposely staring out of the window in hopes of guilt tripping his mum into giving him what he wanted.
As laughter sounded aloud from the driver and passenger sear, Thea couldn’t help but join in.
“Sorry, Alpha, Luna.” She addressed them both with a light smile and apologetic look in her eyes, her superiors and the Alpha and Luna of the Lupus Rapax pack. “He had chocolate chips on his pancakes this morning so I’m trying to avoid giving him anymore this early in the morning to avoid a sugar rush.”
While she had only joined the Lupus Rapax pack a couple of months ago, just after she had been saved from child trafficking by another Alpha and Luna duo, Anastasia Mulberry and her mate, Marcellus Storm, in hopes of doing what was best for her werewolf son, she had been welcomed in with open arms despite the fact that she was still very much human.
Since she wasn’t a very social person, Thea mostly kept to herself. Other than the few parents whose kids were in the same class as Malik, she didn’t really know many people around the pack. Half because she felt like she stood out like a sore thumb each time as she was the only human in the pack, and half because she was scared of them. Something which she could thank her sperm donor for.
Each time the latter feeling crept up, Thea forced it down by reminding herself that one person doesn’t represent an entire group of people and the fact that she was sitting here with the Alpha and Luna after having only spoken to them when initially welcomed into the pack, just further proved that.
While she had been wary to ask at first in fear of being turned down or worse, forcing them to say yes just because they felt obliged to in order to remain polite, Thea’s need to be there for her friend on her big day won out. She was just relieved to see that neither of them minded that she and Malik were tagging along for the journey.
The Alpha and Luna duo chuckled humorously while the latter spared her a warm look from over her shoulder.
“No need to apologise. Pups will be pups.” Luna Amari brushed it off with a dismissive wave of her hand. “My boys may be teenagers now and I still only given them sugar in moderation.”
Thea laughed softly at that, glad that she wasn’t in that boat alone.
“Thank you again for allowing us to join you.”
“Nonsense. We’re all heading the same way so there’s no point in taking two vehicles when we can all comfortably fit into one.” Alpha Harold chuckled. “I was just surprised to hear that you’re friends with Luna Anastasia.”
“We’re new friends but I guess you could say we bonded quickly.” Thea shrugged, not sure what else she could say without having to talk about what had taken place several months ago.
“Because you’re both humans in a werewolf world?” Luna Amari questioned.
She threw her head back and laughed softly, surprised that they had managed to hit the nail on the head.
“I guess that’s one way of putting it, yet.” She agreed while not sating too much on the matter, not comfortable with speaking about what exactly had happened that had all but thrown Anastasia and Thea into the same situation; pairing them up together.
“You’re a graphic designer, right?” The Alpha curiously as he spared her a glance through the rear-view mirror.
“Yes. I mostly work freelance but I do take temp work every now and again. Mostly during the holidays as I’m more in demand then.” She nodded in confirmation.
“Is that where you met Anastasia?”
“Not exactly. How I met Anastasia is actually a long story but I don’t think we have time to get into it now.” Thea chuckled though it sounded strained, even to her own ears.
As grand and action-packed as the story of how she met Anastasia was, it was not one that Thea was very fond of, especially since they had barely managed to survive it. While she was grateful that a beautiful friendship had blossomed from such a dark place, Thea was grateful that Marcellus had arrived to save his mate and Anastasia had insisted that where she go, Thea go.
If she hadn’t, well, she didn’t want to think about where she would be today and what would have come of her little Malik.
As terrible and pathetic as it sounded, Thea knew that she was no match against those wolves that had kidnapped her and planned to turn her into a child bearing machine. Correction, a pup bearing machine.
The manner that Malik had been conceived haunted her to this day – and even haunted her in the darkness of that room when she had first awoken in it and believed Anastasia to have been dead – and it was something that she had barely been able to survive. The wound had only started to heal after she had held her baby boy in her arms but even then, the scars would forever be there and having to go through it again, time after time, knowing that, that was her only purpose, Thea had no doubt that she would have died.
If not physically, then definitely mentally. She already felt somewhat emotionally detached.
She was not delusion as she was very much aware that she wasn’t the strongest person and very often, she relied on people around her for help. Some may view that as weak, but she viewed it as something that she was actively working on as well as the fact that she was able to recognise her biggest weakness was something that she believed to be a great strength of hers. Something which many people were not able to do.
A shiver ran down her spine at the very thought of it and when she glanced down at her little boy, she couldn’t help but laugh softly to see that in his mission to guilt his mum into giving him some chocolate, he had fallen asleep against the car door.
After readjusting his head so Malik was now leaning against her arm, Thea reached into her purse and pulled out her laptop. As there was still over an hour left of the drive, she figured that she should get some work done. She doubted that she would have much time during the day to get any work done so it was either now, or at night after she put Malik to sleep.
“You work at the diner too, right?”
When the question sounded aloud, Thea glanced up in surprise after having sat in silence for the better half of an hour now.
“Yes, at Macy’s.” She nodded, her lips turned down slightly in question, not quite sure where the Alpha was going with the question.
Alpha Harold hummed quietly as he shared a sideways glance with his mate, both of them silently communicating with each other. Thea couldn’t help but hold her breath as she waited for one of them to respond.
“Is everything okay?” She couldn’t help but ask as the eery silence continued.
“You don’t think you’re stretching yourself a bit thin?” Luna Amari asked from over her shoulder, her mate agreeing with a simple nod of his head.
“What do you mean?” Thea couldn’t help but ask even though a part of her couldn’t help but agree but ultimately, she was doing all of this for her son so instead of agreeing with them like she should have, she shook her head gently.
“You work freelance as a graphic designer as well as at the diner while looking after your son all by yourself?”
Thea merely nodded in response as she couldn’t help but squirm in her seat, not enjoying having the spotlight shined down on her.
“We’re just worried that you’re going to burn yourself out.” Luna Amari murmured quietly.
“We just want you to know that we’re pack and you’re one of us now so if you ever need help, all you have to do is reach out to us.” The Alpha spoke out in a firm tone, indicating that he was being serious. “We’re all just here to help each other.”
Her stomach fluttered slightly as the warmth enveloped her, having been without family for so long now.
“Thank you. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind,” was all she could manage in response.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what happened to Malik’s dad?” The Luna asked quietly but as soon as the question passed her lips, her mate shook his head frantically, wanting to indicate to her that it was too personal.
Unfortunately, it was too late.
“That’s probably a story for another time, too.” She chuckled and was glad that they had neared the border of the pack which in turn, meant that they had run out of time to ask her anymore questions.
While all the questions were seemingly innocent and she knew that neither of them meant any harm, Thea couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable as she felt like she was under a microscope while in reality, they were just trying to get to know her better as she was still a mystery around the pack.
As they passed the border of the Lupum Griseo pack, she didn’t quite understand why dread filled the pit of her stomach. As the feeling intensified, her lips turned down into a frown as she gazed down at her lap, unable to pinpoint what had happened to bring forth this feeling all of a sudden, especially since she had been perfectly fine this whole time.
“Thea?” The Luna called out to her with a curious, slightly concerned expression on her face after having watched Thea’s mood visibly change all of a sudden. “Are you okay?”
“Yes.” She pursed her lips before forcing a smile, just as she forced herself to push aside the dreadful feeling and focus on her friend whom she was here to see, support and cheer on. “I think it just might be car sickness.” She murmured quietly even though never once in her life before had she suffered from feeling sick in a moving vehicle.
“I hope you feel better soon.”
“Yeah, me too.” She couldn’t help but whisper with a dazed look in her eyes but as they were met with the sight of the emerging pack house, it was easier to forget than push aside.
Thea just hoped the feeling didn’t return.
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