I smiled at Gunnar. “Yes, everything is dandy. George was about to leave.”
Looking over at George, I saw his wide eyes turning into slits, his nostrils flaring. He pointed at Gunnar. “Is that why you left me, after all? I knew it! You were with him behind my back!”
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to stay calm. “No. How often do I have to tell you that? Gunnar and I weren’t in a relationship.”
Gunnar crossed his arms, his jaw ticking. He looked like he was ready to explode out of his skin, and I wanted to avoid that if possible.
“But now you are, aren’t you? He can enter your house as he pleases, and that’s also why you didn’t want me to contact you anymore. You don’t want to fix our relationship because you got another man!”
George’s face turned red as he took short and staggered breaths. I worried he might hyperventilate, but at least I could then call an ambulance and get him away from here.
Movement in the corner of my eyes made me look past Gunnar, seeing Tyra’s children peeking inside the living room.
I smiled. “Hey, little ones. Why don’t you go upstairs and play for a bit? We are done here soon, and we can play then. How does that sound?”
They glanced over at George, but nodded and hurried away.
“Is it any of your business who Mia spends time with?” Gunnar asked, his voice low and dangerous. It made my skin crawl. But George was so angry, I doubt even heard the undertone in Gunnar’s voice.
“I have every right to know! We have been engaged for years before she left me. We were about to get married, too!”
Gunnar raised a brow, a playful smirk spreading over his face. “Interesting. So, she disposed of you, and now you still think you have any right to know what she is doing? You realize we live in the twenty-first century, and women are free to do whatever they want, right?”
George stared at him, his mouth hanging open. He needed a few seconds to process what Gunnar said before he shook his head violently. “What the hell are you on about? Of course, she can do whatever she wants! But that is between her and me. Why are you interfering?”
“Because she is clearly uncomfortable, understandably so. You are stalking her, and you normalize it by saying that you were supposed to get married. That’s not normal!”
George threw his hands in the air while muttering something under his breath I couldn’t make out. He crossed his arms and glared at Gunnar. “I think it would be better if you knew your place and went back to the gym to lift some weights! I have known her for years and I don’t need a stranger telling me what she feels.”
Did he really just say that? I glanced at Gunnar, whose face darkened. I placed a hand on his arm and shook my head, wanting him to not escalate this situation any further.
I cleared my throat. “The person you are talking about is still in the same room, and I can confirm that I feel uncomfortable about your sudden appearance, George. I asked for space, and I told you I moved on, yet you still want to convince me otherwise. I can understand that it’s hard for you, but you also can’t force me to love you.”
He turned to me, his eyes cold. “What was I supposed to do? You didn’t let me get in touch with you anymore, and you just disappeared.”
“I didn’t want you to get in touch with me anymore, but here we are. I knew if I would let you contact me, it wouldn’t work because you still don’t understand that I don’t want to get back together again. George, I don’t love you anymore.”
It was as if I saw his heart shattering as he stared at me. Tears welled up in his eyes, but he wiped them away, an ugly frown replacing the hurt on his face. “You don’t want to get back together because you already have a new dude! And who knows how long you two have been together already?”
“Well, what if she was together with me? Would that ease your mind and cause you to finally let her go?” Gunnar asked.
“That would at least prove that my parents were right about her, and she is, in fact, nothing more but a whore!”
Before I even had time to comprehend what just came out of his mouth, Gunnar stepped forward and punched him in the face.
George screamed in pain, as Gunnar pulled him up by his collar, lifting him off the ground, his feet dangling in the air helplessly. Blood ran out of his nose and tears streamed down his face. Gunnar pulled him close to his face. “If you insult her one more time, I will hurt you even worse, and if you step into her life again, or force her to do something she doesn’t want, you will regret ever meeting me. Did you get that?”
George nodded, a gurgling whine escaping his mouth. Gunnar let go of him, and I watched George crash to the ground. He quickly got up, and without even glancing at me, ran out of the house, the door crashing close behind him.
I stared at the spot of blood on the floor, my head spinning. How in the world do I land in situations like these all the time?
Gunnar’s shoulders sagged, and he turned around to me, a hand brushing through his hair. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop myself.”
I nodded, still rooted in my spot. “No, it’s okay. What happened, happened. He had it coming.”
Gunnar left the room and came back with a bucket of water and a cloth. I stopped him. “It’s okay, I can clean it.”
He shook his head. “No, this is my fault. I will clean it.”
“If anything, it’s my fault. I should have handled him better, but I don’t even know how he found me.”
I watched Gunnar clean the blood away, his shirt tightly spreading over his broad shoulders with the movement. “Who knows? Maybe he was lucky to get the right person at the registry office who gave him your new address.”
I sighed. It would have been better for everyone involved if he hadn’t tried to find me. Now, it all left an even worse taste in my mouth.
“Is he gone?” Freya asked from the door.
I turned to her and nodded. “Yes, he is gone.”
She entered the room, her siblings following her. Freyr had a board game collection pressed to his chest.
“Can we play together now?” He asked.
“Is your mum coming later?”
He shook his head. “No, mommy is busy with work.”
“Okay, let’s play then. How about you sit down already, and I will grab a few snacks?”
Gunnar stood up again, and the only evidence of George being here was a wet spot on the floor. “I will help you.”
He followed me into the kitchen and emptied the bucket of water as I put together a few snacks and drinks. I placed it all on a tablet, which he took out of my hands. He leaned forward, pressing a soft kiss on my lips, sending tingles throug my body.
“We will talk about this later, including the reason for the wound on your leg,” he whispered, turned around, and left the room.
We played for around an hour before the little ones got tired. The twins tried to keep their eyes open, not wanting to stop playing yet. Svea already gave up and slept with her head on my lap. When the other two also couldn’t fight it anymore, we called it quits and carried them upstairs into their rooms.
With the children in bed, I grabbed a bottle of wine and some dark chocolate and returned to the living room. I placed two glasses on the table and poured us both a generous amount.
Gunnar patted on the spot next to him, and I sat down, leaning into him. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders, pulling me close.
“How did you get hurt again?”
I sighed. “I went for a walk in the neighborhood, and in my defense, I wanted to stay in the eyes of the humans, but my wolf had other plans.”
My wolf pouted, unhappy I would throw her in front of the bus like this.
“There was a smell of blood in the air, and she wanted to find out where it was coming from, and why. After following the scent, we found a human in the forest. Dead. It was the old woman who was so rude to me when I moved in, remember?”
He raised a brow. “I do! What was she doing in the forest?”
“Beats me. Wolves from the Vindictoria pack arrived soon after, informing me they were the ones who killed her because she was snooping around in matters she shouldn’t have. I can imagine that she must have seen something suspicious, and her curiosity got the better of her. She lives relatively close to that part of the forest.”
Gunnar groaned. “It’s such a shame that she died because of them. We should get rid of the body before other humans find her.”
“I didn’t even know what to do about her, not that I had even a minute of free headspace to think about that since then. Those wolves were ready to drag me to their alpha, and I made a run for it. But one of them bit me before I could escape, hence the wound. I might have killed one of them in the process.”
I still couldn’t believe that they turned me into a potential murderer. I never wanted to kill anyone, and I might have one on my list already. Two, if we want to count the old lady who only died because of me.
“Good. They don’t deserve to breathe in this territory when they attack the alpha.”
“The concerning part is that not even the humans are safe here anymore. The human community acted as some sort of layer of protection, but they don’t care about that. And I feel like their group is getting bigger. They are sending more and more wolves here, but I can’t figure out where they are hiding. It can’t be close to the ruins, otherwise, we both would have spotted them already.”
Gunnar placed the empty glass of wine on the small table next to the sofa and nodded. “They might hide close to the border of your territory. You don’t have the forces to check every corner, and they know that. I will speak to my pack. It’s time we are bringing more wolves here. And there is no use in arguing about that. We are allies, and we are going to help.”
I chuckled. “I didn’t even plan to argue. They killed a human, hurt your niece, and they are serious now. I was stubborn long enough, and I know I can’t do this alone. As much as I wish I could. I still don’t want to bring your pack into danger, though, so I hope only those who are willing to help are coming here. I wouldn’t want to force anyone.”
He ran a hand through my hair. “Don’t worry, I will find good wolves to come here, and we will stop the Vindictoria pack together. We waited long enough. It’s time to fight back now.”
“I hope it will be the last fight, then. I don’t want to live the rest of my life, knowing they will come back again.”
“Sadly, you never know. They might stop for a few years, but others might show their interest in the ruins then. We probably will never live a peaceful life as ancient wolves.”
I sighed and emptied my glass too, exchanging the empty glass with a few pieces of chocolate.
“And now that ex-fiancé of yours. What was that about?”
“I wish I knew. He proposed to get to know each other again, as friends.”
He snorted. “Friends? Sure. He must have a funny definition of friends.”
“You’re not wrong. In his mind, this entire meeting probably was supposed to end up with reconciling and marrying tomorrow. He almost made it seem as if we already had our wedding day planned, while it was far from that. His disgusting parents would have never let that happen.”
“Do you think he will come back?”
I shrugged. “Probably not. He knows you are around, and I doubt he would want to get punched in the face again.”
He chuckled and showered my neck with soft kisses, causing me to break out in goosebumps all over my body. “If he knows what’s best for him, he won’t get close again. An alpha doesn’t like to share.”
I tilted my head further to the side, giving him more access to the soft and sensitive skin on my neck. “You still acted like a neanderthal, punching him like that.”
“I didn’t even punch him that hard. His nose is only slightly broken.”
He bit my collarbone gently, making me gasp.
“Gunnar, you realize you are a lot stronger than him and even a soft punch from you probably hurts him like a truck?”
“Of course, I know that, but it always feels good when you recognize my strength.”
I rolled my eyes and turned to him, staring into his hooded eyes. “Don’t be so cocky.”
Laughter rumbled in his chest, and he pulled me onto his lap. We stared at each other for a few tense seconds. The air felt so thick I could barely breathe. He brushed a strand of hair behind my ear and caressed my cheek. I leaned into his touch.
“Do you know you are the most beautiful woman I have ever met?”
I smiled, feeling the tips of my ears burning from the sudden compliment. I leaned forward, pushing myself up on his chest and feeling the muscles hidden under his shirt. “Do you know you are the most handsome man I have ever met?”
He smirked and closed the distance between us, his lips pressing on mine with desperate need. He lifted my shirt, pulled it over my head, and ran his hands over my back, making me shiver. I leaned back and looked down at him, his lips swollen from the kisses we shared.
“And you just get more beautiful by the day,” he whispered, running his finger from my neck down to my stomach. I gasped, fiddling with his shirt to get it off of him. He leaned forward to help me when I heard footsteps entering the room. We haltered and held our breaths.
Svea tiptoed into the room with her big teddy bear pressed to her chest. I jumped off of Gunnar and grabbed my shirt from the sofa, pulling it over.
“Svea, is everything okay?”
She rubbed her eyes, shaking her head. I walked towards her, picking her up. “What’s wrong? Did you have a nightmare?”
Svea nodded and pressed her face into the crook of my neck. I looked back at Gunnar, who shrugged with a sheepish smile on his face.
“Do you want to stay with us for a bit?” I asked her.
She nodded again, and I carried her to the sofa, where I dropped her next to Gunnar. She cuddled into his side, and I grabbed a blanket to pull it over her.
Gunnar grabbed my hand and pulled me closer, his lips almost touching my ears when he said: “I love you.”