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

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Chapter Four

THEA PETROVNA

“Are you feeling better?” Anastasia asked, her voice dripping with concern as she gazed down at her friend.

Before Thea could answer, the kettle pinged aloud and they both glanced up at the sound of it. She watched as her friend moved over to make a cup of herbal tea for the both of them despite her Mating ceremony set to start at any time now.

“Much better, thank you.” Thea forced a smile on her face even though Anastasia’s back was turned to her. “We should probably get going.” She insisted as she rose to her feet to make a move, not wanting to delay the itinerary for today, especially since Marcellus had already pushed it back an hour to accommodate some latecomers.

“Nice try but we’re not going anywhere right now. Not when we’re due a talk.” Anastasia snorted as she grabbed both mugs and turned around before moving over to take a seat at the kitchen counter, a defiant look in her eyes.

“But we’re going to be late.”

“No, we’re not.” She denied with a simple shake of her head, gesturing for her to take a seat. “And even if we are, it’s not like it matters much since technically, they can’t start without me.”

When it was obvious that the Luna-to-be wasn’t going to give up anytime soon, Thea sighed and returned to her seat at the kitchen counter. Malik followed behind though she was quick to reach down and swoop him up into her arms before he walked straight into the counter as his eyes were animatedly dancing over the screen of her phone.

After he had walked away from the doorway of the kitchen, Thea had waited a few minutes just to be safe before she quickly ventured out and managed to lure Malik back into the kitchen, promising to give him her phone if he stayed with her.

Once she had placed him down on the chair next to her and she was sure that he wouldn’t fall off – as he had done that a few times before when watching something on her phone, though she tried not to make much of a habit of it – she turned her head back to face Anastasia, and accepted the mug of tea with a warm smile, even if it didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Who was that man, Thea?” Anastasia asked in a quiet voice, not sure if she had heard properly before, especially since the admission had caught her completely off guard.

“The man that raped me.” She murmured with her eyes downcast, still struggling to come to grips with the walking, talking reality she had just set eyes on.

Even though she had only been able catch a few glimpses of the man before he had forcefully dragged her into the alley that night, she knew that his was a face that she would never be able to forget even though it was the one that she would do and pay anything to never remember again.

“Is this the first time that you’ve seen him since then?” The future Luna asked in a quiet, gentle voice, very aware that this was a delicate situation and she dared not risk worsening the situation by being insensitive.

Thea was barely able to nod her head in confirmation but when that wasn’t followed by one of the questioned that she expected it to, she lifted her head and frowned slightly as she blinked up at Anastasia; genuinely surprised.

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

Her frown deepened. “You’re not going to ask me if I’m sure?”

Her eyebrows knitted together as she blinked back at the woman sitting across from her, a confuddled expression on her face.

“Why would I ask you that?”

When Thea couldn’t think of a valid reason as she had been conditioned into not telling people what had happened to her other than the fact that most people either didn’t believe her or had encouraged her to get an abortion, a thoughtful expression took over her face. While her parents and roommates had been leaning toward her getting an abortion – albeit the former was far more forceful – the few other friends she had either agreed or didn’t believe her at first and other than them all, she hadn’t dared to tell anyone else.

As sad as it sounded, Thea tended to avoid any questions surrounding Malik’s father, even when he had asked her a few times over the past year. He was a curious child as it was so having grown up with only his mum but seeing all the other children at school with two parents, she had expected him to ask sooner. On some level, she believed he somewhat understood.

When the prolonged silence continued, Anastasia decided to continue.

“Thea, why would I ask you if you’re sure?”

“Because people seem to be confused as to why I decided to keep my rapist’s child.” She rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders at the same time in hopes of coming across as nonchalant even though the situation was beyond that.

“That’s disgusting!” Anastasia all but spat as she shook her head before reaching down for her tea, needing something to calm her down.

“Let’s please not get into this right now.” Thea exhaled deeply before sparing a glance at her son, grateful that he was too preoccupied to pay any attention to their rather grown-up conversation.

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t think I can do this right now.”

Anastasia pursed her lips as she narrowed her eyes at Thea, almost as if she didn’t believe her.

“Is it because of that, or is it because the Mating ceremony is about to start soon?”

“A bit of both.” Thea answered the question honestly, though was quick to follow it up with an estranged groan as she rubbed a hand down the side of her face in frustration. “I can’t believe this is happening right now.” She whispered as she squeezed her eyes shut. “What is he doing here?”

“I have no idea but we need to find out who he is!”

“That doesn’t change anything.” Thea shook her head, her eyes still closed. “What’s done is done now, but I just can’t believe that I have to see him again.”

Anastasia nodded her head in understanding as she looked at her with a soft, worried look in her eyes.

“It doesn’t matter who he is but I’ll speak to Marcellus and we’ll have him gone in no time.”

“You can’t do that! Please don’t call Marcellus.” Thea shook her head with wide eyes, all but begging for Anastasia to hold her horses and refrain from mind linking her mate just yet.

“Why not?”

“I don’t want to cause any trouble. He’s clearly here for the Mating ceremony.” Thea groaned as she reached a hand up to pinch the bridge of her nose but quickly, it changed course of direction and instead, she rubbed her forehead, starting to feel the beginning of a headache. “That means that he’s probably someone important so if you turn him away now, that’s going to raise too many questions.”

“It doesn’t matter who the f-” Anastasia began but was quick to hold herself back once she remembered that they were in the presence of a very impressionable child, one that was still so young and hadn’t been exposed to swears and curse words yet. Before she continued, she took a deep breath and turned her attention back to Thea.

“It doesn’t matter who he is, but he’s a rapist which is disgusting and vile. I know you believe that what’s done is done and you have lovely Malik off the back off of it, but we can’t let him get away with this.” Her fingers tightened around the mug she had her hands wrapped arounds, though the cooling, relaxing beverage had started to get cold. “We don’t even know why he’s back here. It may not even be for the Mating ceremony! How do we know he isn’t going to try something like that again?”

As she couldn’t bring herself to answer, Thea merely gulped in response as her mind ran blank.

Despite the fact that she absolutely despised the man for the treacherous, heinous crime that he had committed against her, it had also resulted in giving birth to the most important person in her life; her precious little Malik. While everyone around her had pretty much drifted away or abandoned her, she had barely felt it as after birth, all her time and energy had been spent toward her son.

While many doors had closed for her and she very quickly found herself drifting away from all of those that used to matter to her, Malik had come into her life as a bright, shining light. Since she had him, she hadn’t needed anyone else but now all of that was threatened appearance with the sudden appearance of her rapist and Malik’s biological father.

For the past five years, it had been the both of them together against the end of the world but now, she feared that all of that would change.

While she doubted that children fitted into his busy rapist lifestyle, there was just something with the way that he had instinctively picked up Malik and held him in his arms. Almost as if his wolf had sensed the wolf pup to be his own.

As a wolf, she knew that his parental instincts were stronger than they would have been for a human and with that, she couldn’t help but fear that his wolf would demand him to start playing an active role in Malik’s life. While Thea was a reasonable person and wasn’t opposed to shared parenting if done properly, she had no intention of raising a child with the man that had raped her.

If he was capable of something as horrendous as rape, what else was he capable of?

“I think it’s best if I leave in the morning.” She couldn’t help but whisper as she turned her head to glance down at the woman that entered the kitchen silently gesturing if it was okay for her to take Malik to join the rest of the kids.

Thea sighed and nodded before leaning over to give her little boy a kiss on the head before watching him skip along with his favourite pack chef. When she noted the exchange of the small, chocolate block, Thea couldn’t help but throw her head back and laugh; the emotion welcomed after this very draining conversation, one which she hadn’t expected to ever have.

“What do you mean?” Anastasia waited to ask once they were alone again. “I thought you were planning to leave after the weekend.”

“I know.” She sighed. “But I don’t think I can stick around for much longer knowing that he’s here.”

“That’s even more reason as to why we need to get rid of him.”

“I’m sorry, Ana, but I don’t think I’ll feel better until we get back to the pack.”

Anastasia sighed and even though it was evident that she didn’t agree with her friend, she was supportive nonetheless and instead, she pulled Thea into her arms for a hug.

“I’m so sorry for all of this.” Anastasia whispered the apology, squeezing Thea one last time before they had to pull away as now, she was officially late for her Mating ceremony. “But this isn’t over. We still have a lot to talk about.”

Thea nodded and forced a smile, though she was sure that it came out as more of a grimace.

“After the ceremony.” She promised. “Now we need to go before Marcellus thinks you’ve gotten cold feet.”

Anastasia laughed softly though the sound was heavy, not fooling either of them and with that, they both turned around and headed out of the pack house where the entire pack was waiting outside in the training field.

Even though Thea knew that she had probably tainted Anastasia’s big day with her sudden panic attack after her rapist randomly turning up, she was far too concerned about the fact that somewhere in the crowd outside, he was there too.

While she had left Malik safe inside with the rest of the kids and some of the elder members of the pack who were more than happy to act as child minders, Thea still couldn’t help but worry.

Anastasia gave her shoulder one last encouraging squeeze before they had to part ways. Along with the rest of the pack spectators, Thea cheered on her friend as she walked up to the makeshift stage in front of the crowd where the council and Marcellus, her mate and Alpha, were patiently waiting for her.

As the fated pair embraced each other and entwined fingers, the crowd cheered once again. But this time, Thea took advantage and used the moment to blend into the middle of them all, weaving through rows and rows of wolves.

The way she saw it, he wouldn’t be able to get to her in broad daylight with people all around her but then again, she had also thought that she would never have to see him ever again.

Thea just hoped that was the only thing that she was wrong about.

-

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Layla Knight

30.11.2020

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