The Alpha's Vessel [The Alpha's #2]

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Chapter Three

THEA PETROVNA

“We’re glad you could make it, Harold, Amari.” Marcellus grinned at them both in excitement, reaching out to shake hands with the both of them before he glanced over their shoulders and locked eyes with her.

Thea couldn’t help but match his grin as his lips twitched higher. He excused himself before walking around them and made his way over to her at the counter.

“Thea!” He laughed in greeting and didn’t hesitate to pull her into a hug, leaning down to place a friendly kiss on her cheek before doing the same to a sleeping Malik, currently balanced on her hip with his face nuzzled affectionately in his mother’s neck.

“Hi, Mars.” She chuckled and allowed him to take Malik from her when he reached out for her.

“The journey must have really taken it out of the little guy, huh?” Holding the little boy to him, Marcellus stared down at him fondly. “I’ll go put him in the room we have set up for you both.”

“That would be great, thank you.”

“I’m not asleep.” A small, tired voice sounded between them and they both paused to glance at the little boy between them, currently sitting up as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “I was just resting my eyes.”

“Oh, is that right?” Marcellus threw his head back and laughed as he turned around to head into the pack house, indicating for Thea to join them. Thankfully, Beta Dalton had taken care of Luna Amari and Alpha Harold, guiding them to the room where they would be staying the night for the Mating ceremony ceremony before heading back to their pack tomorrow.

Thea and Malik, on the other hand would be staying a few more days and leaving at the end of the weekend, instead.

“Yes.” Malik answered in a groggy voice before he started squirming in Marcellus’ arms, only content once he was let down and given free reign to run into the pack house.

“He’s really excited to be here. As am I.” Thea chuckled as she fell into step beside him, the both of them walking into the packhouse.

Marcellus and Thea joined Malik in the kitchen where he was in conversation with his favourite pack chef, the one that used to sneak him chocolate whenever the both of them thought Thea wasn’t looking. Just like all the times before, she spied the she-wolf sneak her son a bar but pretended not to see it, though didn’t hold back the small smile that graced her lips.

“Is he the only one?” Marcellus asked, his teasing question grabbing her attention.

“Of course, not!” She chuckled. “I’m so happy for you and Anastasia. I’ve been looking forward to this day since Anastasia first told me about it.”

“She’s really excited for the both of you to be here.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Marcellus smiled warmly at her but just as it had many times before, his eyes grew concerned, knitting together in the middle.

“How have you been lately, Thea?” He asked in a serious tone, having come to see Thea as a little sister, even more so now than ever as she had become very close with Anastasia these past couple of months. “Has anyone been giving you any trouble? Do I need to rough someone up?”

Thea laughed softly and shook her head. “People have mostly left me alone.”

“And that’s a good thing?” He cocked a questioning brow, watching her closely for the initial reaction.

“You know I prefer it that way.”

Marcellus hummed in response but before he could say anything further, his eyes glazed over which gave her the impression that he was mind linking someone.

“It appears that I have some more guests to greet.” He murmured quietly as his eyes turned back to their usual hazel. “But Anastasia should be down any minute now.”

Thea nodded in understanding and watched as he walked away, once again very grateful to have Anastasia and Marcellus in her life despite only knowing them for a short amount of time. While the former had all but become the closest thing that she had ever had to a best friend, the latter had become a sort of big brother and collectively for the both of them and their endless support, Thea would be eternally grateful.

After finding out that she was pregnant with Malik and then dropping out of college, Thea had very quickly found herself losing contact with all of her old friends. After her parents had all but disowned her, it had been her and Malik by themselves for a very long time now. Over five years now to be exact.

However, that had quickly changed after she had met Anastasia and all of that had changed, regardless of the unfortunate circumstances that they had met under.

When she felt a shiver run down her spine and a pair of eyes on her, she was quick to snap out of her thoughts and glanced around with a small frown on her face. Thea turned around in all directions but when she didn’t find for anything to be out of the ordinary, she took a seat at one of the bar stools and began a conversation with the pack chef. But when her son called out loudly, she glanced up in surprise.

“Stassie!” The excited child greeted Anastasia by all but throwing himself into her arms the moment she stepped into the room.

Anastasia laughed as she lifted Malik into her arms and rested him on her hip, grinning at Thea as she moved in for a hug.

“I’m so glad you’re here!”

“Today’s your big day. I wouldn’t miss this day for the world.” Thea pressed a kiss to her cheek before they pulled away from each other, a bright grin on her face; so different to how she had looked only a few months ago.

Anastasia stared back at her newest – now one of her closest – friends with a soft, warm look in her eyes.

While the last time that they had seen each other was a few days after they had been rescued from kidnapping slash child trafficking mess – one which they hadn’t heard much back from apart from the council stating that they were deep in investigation and couldn’t say much right now – Anastasia and Thea had made it a point to stay in contact and since then, they either spoke on the phone or face timed pretty much every other day.

To have Thea here for their Mating Ceremony really touched her and the fact that she would be sticking around for the rest of the week with her son just made things all the much sweeter.

When Malik asked to be put down so he could play with the rest of the kids, Anastasia pressed a big kiss to the tip of his nose before complying.

Both she and Thea laughed as they watched him run out of the kitchen. Before he could get very far, he all but ran into a pair of awaiting arms, scooping him up before lifting him into the air.

While Anastasia thought this to be strange as she didn’t recognise the man – no doubt a guest of their Mating Ceremony and of high, elevated rank– she didn’t think much of it as werewolf culture speculated everyone to be a big family.

“Hello.” The tall tree trunk of a man greeted the little boy in his arms, his mouth shut as he simply blinked up at him with wide, unsuspecting eyes.

Before Anastasia could step forward and introduce herself as the Luna-to-be, a harsh gasp sounded from behind her quickly followed by the sound of a sharp bang as a stool clattered to the ground.

“Thea?” Anastasia called out to her in question as she glanced over her shoulder, her eyebrows furrowed in a mixture of surprise and wariness. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s him,” was all Thea managed to force out of her mouth as she took a scared step back, but then countered it by taking one forward as she realised whose arms her son was in.

“Who?” Anastasia asked in a quiet whisper, very aware of what this meant for Thea and her son.

“The man that raped me.” Thea felt like throwing up as she stared up at the man that she hadn’t seen in over five years, hating how a pleasurable tingle ran down her spine despite the nightmare that his dark, ashy eyes forced her to relive.

The longer she stared at him, the harder her heart slammed against her ribcage and in fear that she would faint, Thea took a step back and took a seat, her world already starting to shake on its axis.

He was either ignoring her or simply didn’t recognise her – which she wouldn’t put past him as he didn’t get much of a chance to look at her face that fateful night – but either way, it wasn’t helping the situation. Instead of either leaving the kitchen and moving away from him or rescuing her son from his disgusting, tainted grasp, she could do neither as she felt the panic quickly turn sinister and begin to swallow her whole.

“Thea?” Anastasia called out to her but Thea couldn’t hear as instead, her ears were filled with the sounds of grunts and growls as he forcefully took her from behind all those years ago.

As he held her Malik in his arms, his son, she couldn’t help but think that he knew.

He knew that she had gotten pregnant and kept the baby, and now he was here to take him away from her. There could be no other reason as to why he would be here, or even how he would know where to find them.

Even though he didn’t even spare her a glance, she couldn’t take her eyes off him. She couldn’t take her eyes off the way he supported Malik and made him laugh by pulling a silly face, or the way he reached out and smoothed the boy’s hair down as one strand always seemed to stick up from the back, just like she did. They both laughed as he made a point of reaching behind and smoothing his hair down too. He smiled as Malik leaned in and whispered something to him, before proceeding to whisper back; almost as if they were sharing a secret.

With the way these were getting along straight off the bat, no one would hesitate in thinking that they were father and son.

The fact that Malik was a spitting image of him just further proved it. Not that she had a single ounce of doubt in her mind.

Over the years, Thea hadn’t had to wonder what her assailant looked like because her son, Malik, didn’t look like her at all. While she was beachy blond with a pale complexion, her son was darker and harsher with dark, coppery brown hair, onyx black eyes and a medium tan complexion, barely resembling her at all.

If Thea was thinking straight, she would have rushed over to retrieve her child from that criminal’s arms but instead, all she could do was remind herself to continue breathing while staring at him with wide eyes.

“Thea, you’re having a panic attack.” Anastasia murmured quietly, not that Thea was able to hear as her ears were still ringing.

However, the more she thought about it, the more the tell-tale signs became apparent to her as she began panicking about having a panic attack – especially since the only other time she had suffered from one was the very same evening she had stumbled home from that fateful, life changing encounter in the alley but back then, she didn’t have anyone to help her.

Anastasia didn’t need prompting as she gently pushed Thea to take a seat and quickly retrieved a glass of water for her to sip on if needed.

“Just listen to my voice, okay?” Anastasia whispered as she reached out to brush Thea’s hair back away from her face. “Ignore everything else and just focus on me, okay? Just do what I do.”

Thea barely nodded however, it appeared to be enough as Anastasia forcefully inhaled and exhaled slowly, prompting Thea to regulate her breathing and forget about everything else, even if the root of all her problems was stood no more than six feet away from her.

“You’re doing great, Thea.” Anastasia praised as she reached and rubbed a comforting down her back. “Let’s continue this for a little while longer.”

She nodded again although this time, she was able to remind herself and made a point of inhaling and exhaling each time, feeling herself begin to calm after each set.

As Thea focused on her breathing and kept her gaze on the counter in front of it, clutching the edge of it tightly between her fingers, her rapist didn’t even spare her a glance. Instead, he bowed down and placed Malik down on the ground once he began squirming, wanting to get back to playing with the rest of the kids.

As he turned his back on her and began walking away, she started to come back to her senses but it was only when he left her sight that Thea felt herself reign control over her body again.

-

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Layla Knight

30.11.2020

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