Their bungalow looked similar to mine, besides being larger, yet the atmosphere felt completely different. The wolves around me and the power of the pack caused goosebumps to wander all over my skin. Without even being part of the pack, I could feel it influence me. I felt nothing like this in years, and I would lie if I said I wouldn’t miss the feeling.
Gunnar dropped onto the sofa. “Tyra was about to make us lunch.”
I nodded and glanced at the woman who was called Tyra. She was a strong-looking woman - tall and muscular. Her blonde hair fell over her back in natural-looking curls. Energy oozed out of her in waves, and I was sure I didn’t want to get involved in a fight with her. I should be on my best behavior.
“I can help,” I said and strolled towards the open kitchen to help her prepare lunch. At least this way, I wouldn’t stand around not knowing what to do with myself.
She eyed me for a moment, and I knew she was considering if she could trust me or not. Eventually, she nodded and handed me the knife. I took her spot in front of the cutting board and continued to cut the salad into pieces. She remained next to me for a moment, unmoving, making my heart race, and hands sweaty.
“Actually, I should better wash my hands,” I said, and moved past her to reach the sink. The cold water calmed me down and, with another deep breath, I returned to the cutting board.
Why was she making this so awkward? I knew she had to be cautious around strangers, but this pent-up atmosphere made me want to clench my non-existent tail between my legs.
Only after I had already cut half of the vegetables, she finally turned around and prepared the chicken. A shaky breath left my mouth, and I slightly relaxed, loosening the grip around the knife. I hadn’t realized I had clenched it for dear life. The adrenaline slowly rushed out and with it, the stabbing pain in my wrist returned. I clenched my teeth together and finished the rest of the vegetables at lightning speed.
The silence was about to get to me when the terrace door slammed open. I shrieked in surprise, nearly knocking the bowl of salad to the floor.
“We are back!”
A boy rushed into the living room, followed by a girl. They were the two children I had seen this morning during the archery session. Has it really only been a few hours since then?
The boy pointed a finger at me. He had wild, curly hair, like Tyra. “You are the lady from archery!”
I forced a smile and nodded.
The girl swatted his hand down. “It’s rude to point at people!”
He slowly lowered his hand, eyeing me with curiosity.
“Amalia is going to eat with us today,” Gunnar said from the sofa in the living room. He cuddled with the pup, which was still stuck in its wolf form. It’s tough to get the hang of the transformation. We were born as wolves, after all. It’s only natural to stay as one, especially in our younger years. Some even stay wolves forever because they either never turned into a human or embraced their animalistic side.
But there was never a case where ancient wolves stayed humans forever. Our wolf is too strong to disappear, and letting the human rule forever. But I suppose there were always exceptions to any rule.
The children continued to stare at me, and I fiddled with my ponytail, avoiding meeting their gaze. I could understand their interest in me, but it made me break out in a sweat, anyway. Having someone outside the pack at home is odd. Ancient wolves rarely mingle with normal humans, and children usually only see them at school. I doubt they realized I knew of their secret.
“Wash up. Lunch will be ready soon,” Tyra said, without looking up from the sizzling chicken in the pan.
A mouth-watering smell hit my nose, making my stomach grumble. I didn’t realize how hungry I was.
Gunnar stood up and joined us in the small kitchen area, opening the cabinets and grabbing the plates.
“I can help.”
Gunnar shook his head. “Relax. You already did more than enough. You are our guest. Take a seat.”
I wanted to argue with him, just for the sake of it, but I shrugged and sat down, observing him as he placed the plates on the table.
Tyra was only slightly smaller than him, but the energy she gave off was as high as his. They were a real power couple. A strong alpha with his as equally strong female alpha. And three children to top it all off.
My stomach turned. This display of a family made me want to leave. He had everything I ever wanted, and I didn’t want to hang around to see them together. Not when my heart was so fragile after hearing about George’s night out.
The children rushed back into the room and sat down around the table. The girl settled down next to me, a shy smile on her face.
Gunnar placed the last glass on the table and sat down as well.
Tyra put a plate of steaming chicken in the middle and a small bowl of chicken on the floor. The pup already waited for the meal to start, wagging its tail.
Tyra sat down and smiled. “Okay, let’s eat.”
The boy didn’t wait for another heartbeat and grabbed his fork and knife to dig in, almost as if he hadn’t seen food in days. The girl next to me shook her head at her brother. She clearly tried to be the adult of the two.
I looked at Gunnar and waited for him to start. Usually, the alpha starts the meal. Considering his son was already stuffing his face, I doubted this was much of an issue here. I shook my head when I realized I fell into pack-like behavior just by being around an alpha, and cut the chicken, putting a piece into my mouth before Gunnar had the chance to.
He raised a brow at me and smirked. Heat crept up my neck, and I dropped my gaze to the plate. Is there a need for me to act like a complete idiot in front of him? We all knew he wasn’t my alpha, yet I needed to prove it to him, anyway.
From the corner of my eye, I watched him eating calmly, seemingly unbothered by me. His indifference was driving me nuts for reasons I couldn’t understand, causing my ears to pound uncomfortably.
After a deep breath, I focused on ignoring him, not caring about any reactions from his side, and cut another piece of chicken. Only then the piercing pain in my wrist rushed through me like an electric shock. I put the knife to the side and stared at my bandaged wrist for a moment.
It had hurt the entire time while I cut the salad, but this was pure agony. The medication must have worn off completely.
“I almost thought you had some sort of miracle healing,” Gunnar said, and the table went silent.
“I’m not sure what you are talking about,” I said through clenched teeth.
He pointed at my wrist with his fork and raised a brow. “Wouldn’t it be better to get your injury checked?”
“I wonder. When again was this any of your business?”
He leaned back. “Since my pups caused the injury?”
“I fell. I was clumsy. Your pups are not to blame. Everything is okay.”
To prove my point, I picked up the knife again and cut the chicken into small pieces, ignoring the sharp pain with every movement. But if I pulled through now, I could simply eat with my left hand the rest of lunchtime. By the end, I almost threw the knife through the room, but I contained myself. Gunnar observed me throughout the whole thing. He sighed and shook his head when I continued eating as if nothing had happened.
Everyone around the table remained silent. I felt awful for making this situation even weirder than it already was. I didn’t know why I felt so bothered by him. He was only concerned, and yet I reacted as if he attacked me. Besides the one stunt he pulled yesterday, he didn’t treat me disrespectfully or force his rules on me. Just him being the alpha of this territory was enough for me to make me feel as if there was a boiling pot of water in my head.
“I already wondered what the bandage was for. If you are hurt, you should have said so. I could have taken care of lunch alone,” Tyra said eventually.
I shook my head. “It’s fine. It’s not as bad as he makes it seem.”
She didn’t look convinced. “Did one of my pups run you over?”
“It could have been any pup in your pack. But I should have avoided them, anyway. I didn’t look where I was going. It’s not their fault.”
Tyra frowned and turned to the boy. “Apologize!”
Her voice was so low, with such power ringing in it, causing a shiver running down my spine, and I straightened my back, almost as if I was the one on the receiving end. She glared at the boy, who looked stunned.
“What? Mum! It could have been Freya!” The boy dropped his gaze when he met the murderous stare of his mother.
Tyra leaned toward him. “I think we all know it wasn’t her, but you and your friends.”
“I’m sorry,” he muttered.
“Don’t worry about it,” I blurted. “Everything is fine!”
“They need to learn to apologize when they made a mistake,” Tyra said.
I was rendered speechless as she continued eating, dismissing her son. He stared blankly at his plate, and my heart throbbed. I felt so bad for him. I never wanted him to get scolded, and I didn’t think it was a big deal, either. They are still kids. Things like this could happen. But who was I to tell them how to handle their kids?
I tried to finish all my food as fast as possible, so I could leave this place as soon as I could.
“When you’re done with eating, you can go out and play,” Tyra said in between bites, and as if those were the magic words, the boy picked up his pace again and emptied his plate faster than I could have imagined. The two of them brought their plates into the kitchen before hurrying outside. I started after and wished I could follow.