Ancient Wolves - Prophecy of the Ruins

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Chapter 51

Luckily, after that one incident, there were no more neighbors insulting my family, and after all the people I had hired left, things got quieter again.

They took care of everything, and in the end, I was lucky that pest control had nothing to complain about. The electricity was looking fine, and the pipes got flushed, and a heater got replaced, everything seemed in order. I could finally take a hot shower in my home.

After a quick break - and stuffing our faces with really delicious sandwiches - the people to check on the broken windows arrived. To my relief, they said it was relatively easy to exchange those, as they have a standard size, and they could come back tomorrow to replace them. Everything seemed to work out a lot better than I expected.

Towards the evening, my arms felt like they were out of rubber, and I had no strength left anymore. I was also sweating like a pig because I refused to take off my shirt and display the bruises I had received yesterday.

Six on the dot, the man returned to pick up his dumpster again. He looked even warier than before, now that I wasn’t alone anymore. The man must have a good sense. He seemed to be a lot more taken aback by our presence than any other human we have encountered today.

I looked around the empty space in the living room, satisfied with our work, even if it left me feeling a bit lonely. Now it was crystal clear that this will be my new future, without my parents or pack. But it was the start of something new, too.

Tyra stepped next to me, wrapping an arm around me. “How about we go somewhere to eat?”

“I haven’t been around here in years, so I don’t know if any of the restaurants are still open.”

She took out her phone, showing me a Chinese restaurant. “I saw this one not too far away from here. How about that one?”

I nodded. “If everyone is up for it, I wouldn’t mind.”

Everyone was up for it, and so we drove to the restaurant, hoping the restaurant wouldn’t be too full. When we arrived, the restaurant was relatively empty, and the kids had a good time picking out food from the buffet.

“Thank you for helping me today. As a thank you, this will be on me.”

Gunnar looked like he was about to object, but Tyra touched his arm and shook his head.

I smiled. “You did so much for me. Please, let me give you back something in return.”

He grunted and stuffed a tiny spring roll into his mouth, clearly unhappy about me paying for him.

Tyra sipped on her glass of water. “You know we would do it all over again.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that.”

We spoke for a long time, and the atmosphere felt light and relaxed. It was almost as if I was just out with my friends, and that there was no tragic backstory that pulled us together. For a moment, I could forget about what I lost and what danger I might face, and it felt amazing.

We were currently sharing our most embarrassing encounters with humans during our school time when my phone rang. I fumbled with my jacket behind my chair, trying to get the phone out. It showed an unknown number on the screen, and I wondered if one company had something urgent to tell me. It was late, so I was expecting the worst.

“I will take this call quickly,” I said, excusing myself.

Not even outside, I picked it up. “Hello?”

“Mia, it’s me. George.”

My stomach dropped before anger bubbled up in me. “What in the world, George? Are you using a different number to call me now?”

I felt stares on me, and I flushed, quickly exiting the restaurant.

“I just wanted to hear your voice.”

The cold wind whipped through my hair as I walked down the stairs. “You can’t be serious. I’m really busy, George, and I clearly remember that I told you I need space.”

“But we have a lot of space. I don’t even know where you are, and I miss you,” he said, his words sounding slurred.

I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Are you drunk again?”

“No!”

I sighed, knowing he was lying. “We both know that drinking isn’t good for you. You should stop.”

“Why do you care? You left me like this, and now you think you can act as if you cared about me?”

“I left you, but that doesn’t mean I stopped caring about you. Stop being such an ass,” I hissed, looking around to make sure no one was within hearing distance again.

“If you cared about me, you wouldn’t have left me!”

My throat tightened. “That’s exactly the reason I left because I cared. This is ridiculous. Stop calling me when you are drunk, or better stop calling me altogether, as I asked you to!”

I ended the call and switched my phone off, lowering on the stairs and staring at the black screen. Was that too harsh again?

“Tough conversation?” Jelto asked from behind, startling me. He dropped next to me on the stairs, a soft smile on his face.

“You could say that.”

He laid an arm around me and pulled me closer. I leaned my head onto his shoulder and sighed.

“It was George, right?”

I nodded. “How did you know?”

“I think everyone in the restaurant knows.”

I winced. “I knew I was too loud.”

He chuckled, but it quickly died in his throat. “George isn’t in his right mind at the moment. He is getting in a lot of trouble at work, too. The breakup left him hurting.”

“I know he is hurting, and so am I. Hearing that doesn’t make me feel better, either.”

But it didn’t make me feel guilty. I knew I did the right thing, and now I felt bothered by this emotional load I seemed to have left behind. As harsh as that sounds.

“I know it doesn’t make you feel better, but you don’t need lies and fake comfort. I am honest with you. That is what friends are there for. I know you are only doing what you feel is right, and when George doesn’t have a place in your heart anymore, then that’s fine. But I hope you can understand that George still clings to you because there is still lots of space in his heart for you.”

“I just wish he would understand my boundaries, as much as it hurts him.”

He nodded. “He should stop forcing contact with you. If you want, I can speak to him?”

“Thank you, but I think it would be better if he didn’t know that we were still in touch.”

Jelto nodded, stroking my arm. I was thankful for having people like him in my life. I wouldn’t know what to do if I was all alone in situations like these.

“I wonder how you managed to stay with your girlfriend for so many years with all the things you are hiding from her.”

He let out a long sigh. “At some point, it feels normal to have secrets. We are not seeing each other so often. It makes things easier.”

“But you would like to see her more.”

He dropped his head into mine. “Yes, but that’s not possible right now. Maybe in the future.”

I grabbed his hand and squeezed it. “I wish you all the best. If you need my help, don’t hesitate to ask. I hope I can be helpful to you, too.”

“Thank you.”

We sat there for a while longer until I slowly felt cold. I shuffled away from him and stood up. “Let’s go back inside. It’s getting cold, and the others are probably worried already.”

“You go ahead. I will just stay here a little longer.”

I nodded and returned to the warmth of the restaurant, the smell of the food making me nauseous.

“Is everything okay?” Tyra asked when I sat down.

I shrugged. “George was drinking again and got a new number to call me.”

She frowned. “It will take some time before he can let go of you. But that is still very out of line.”

I stayed silent and pushed the remaining food on my plate, left and right. By now it was cold, too. Hearing George’s drunk voice brought me back to the night when my pendant exploded, and he got pushed to the wall. When I still thought George was the only one, I needed to move on with my life. When I still had this empty void inside. By now it had been filled with my wolf again, and overall I felt better than ever before. But knowing I left someone behind who was suffering as much as I did before made my heart hurt.

The atmosphere around the table grew tense with unspoken words in the air, but no one said a word.

“Sorry guys, something came up. I need to leave now,” Jelto said.

“That’s fine. I hope nothing bad happened,” I said, and stood up to hug him.

“No, it’s all good,” he said and patted my back.

“Thank you again for helping.”

He smiled. “No problem! I will see you around.”

Jelto waved and hurried out of the restaurant. I dropped back in my seat. “Maybe he is meeting with his girlfriend.”

Gunnar groaned in response but said nothing. He wasn’t the biggest fan of Jelto’s human girlfriend, but I could now understand why.

“What’s your plan for tomorrow?” Tyra asked before we could dive deeper into Jelto’s relationship.

“The windows will be replaced and someone will check on the flooring. Hopefully, the wooden floor is salvageable.”

“But they will only check them, not start fixing them, right?”

“They will just inspect it to estimate the costs.”

Tyra beamed at me. “Great, so tomorrow we can get rid of the old wallpaper!”

I smiled, feeling pulled along by her excitement. “That sounds like a plan. But are you sure you have enough time for that?”

She waved me off. “I worked a lot the past two days. I have all the time in the world now. Also, are you sure you want to stay the night here? You could come with us. Joseline would love to have another girl’s night, and we can take you back tomorrow.”

As tempting as that sounded, I didn’t want to leave.

“She doesn’t want to. Just let her be,” Gunnar grumbled before I had the chance to say anything myself.

Tyra glared at him. “She can answer for yourself, you know.”

“It’s okay, Tyra, he isn’t wrong. I would rather stay here. I can’t remember when the people will arrive, so I better stay here before I miss them.”

She huffed. “Fine. But we have to do another girl’s night soon!”

I laughed. “Yes, we should.”

After paying, we returned to the house, and Tyra walked through all the rooms again. She wanted to plan ahead, so she could order the right paint already. I didn’t stop her. I already pushed her away with the girl’s night, so I didn’t want to add to that.

Gunnar leaned at the door and stared at me with a frown on his face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, stepping closer.

“I’m worried about leaving you alone. I have an order feeling,” he said and looked around as if he tried to find the source of his concern.

My pulse sped up as I remembered the strange wolf in the forest. Did he already figure it out? Should I tell him after all? But they wouldn’t leave me alone then, and I had to stop depending on them. It was only one wolf. If I wasn’t able to take care of him, can I even call myself an alpha?

“Don’t worry, I will be fine. You can’t babysit me forever. The neighbors might think we are actually married.”

He sighed and looked at me with such a desperate look on his face that I wanted to hug him to make it all better. But I stopped myself. That would send the wrong signals.

“Did something happen yesterday after I left?” He asked out.

A breath caught in my throat. “I’m not sure what you mean?”

“I don’t know why, but for some reason, you have a faint smell of wolf on your, I can’t recognize.”

I gulped. I hope that changing clothes and putting on perfume would hide the smell, especially because it happened last night. But his nose must be better than I imagined. “Nothing worth mentioning.”

Gunnar pushed off the wall and stepped so close, I could feel his warmth radiating from his body. He leaned forward, sniffing my hair. I held my breath, feeling my face flush.

“I’m bothered by this smell of you,” he said in a low voice, causing goosebumps to travel all over my skin.

“It’s my decision who I hang out with, though, right?” I asked, wanting to sound like I was brave and that no one told me who I could meet with. I knew it would push his buttons, but I also didn’t want a jealous man hanging around me. Not again.

He nodded. “Yes, it is. But it still bothers me. Especially if it’s someone you don’t even want to talk to me about.”

“I’m allowed to have my secrets. Besides, we aren’t in a relationship. I’m free to meet whoever I want, and don’t have to report it to you.”

“That’s true,” he said, caressing my arm with a feather-light touch. I barely felt it through the fabric, but it sent shivers down my spine, nonetheless. I gasped and stared up at him. When my eyes met his strong gaze, I felt as if the floor was about to vanish from under my feet.

“I will see you tomorrow,” he whispered into my ear, before stepping back and leaving the room with a smirk as if he knew how much he was affecting me.

I stood rooted in place until I heard Tyra calling goodbye, and the door closing soon after. My heart was beating so fast and loud, I was sure Gunnar heard it until he left the house. My face felt boiling hot, and I groaned. How was I supposed to face him tomorrow?

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