Ancient Wolves - Prophecy of the Ruins

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Chapter 73

I didn’t expect to feel as self-conscious as I did after Gunnar guided me to the bathroom and turned on the shower, waiting for the water to reach the desired temperature.

“If you don’t feel comfortable with me here, I can leave,” he said, looking at me with a soft smile.

I fiddled with the oversized shirt I was wearing-most likely one of his- and let out a staggering breath. “I don’t even know why I feel so nervous. You wouldn’t be the first man to see me naked.”

He chuckled and cupped my face, pressing a kiss on the tip of my nose. “Feeling nervous is completely fine. But how about we do something else instead? I could run you a bath. Tyra has all these bath bombs. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you took one of them.”

I smiled and nodded, actually feeling a lot lighter after hearing that. I might have been all flirty when he offered it, but being so close to him in this small bathroom, and getting naked like this, it somehow didn’t sit well with me. Not today, not now. Especially not when I was about to see George for probably the last time in my life.

“We still have plenty of time until the hospital closes, so you can take as much time as you need. It might help with your soreness too,” he said and turned off the shower to fill the bathtub. “Also, the cabinet on the right has all the bath bombs. Just pick one you find nice.”

I turned to the cabinet and opened it, shocked by the number of bathing bombs stacking inside it. I didn’t know Tyra was such a bathing fan. After looking at all of them for a while, I ended up picking a dark blue and purple one that smelled like lavender.

Gunnar took it out of my hands and dropped it into the steaming water. “I hope it’s not too hot for you.”

I laughed. “Anything close to scorching hot is the right temperature.”

We watched the water slowly turning dark blue with shades of purple, the smell of lavender filling the room.

“Okay, I will leave you to it, then. I will bring you a towel real quick,” he said and exited the room, the cold air from outside making me shiver.

I pulled the shirt over my head and took the rest of my clothes off, messily throwing them on top of each other, before stepping into the water, groaning when the hot water engulfed me. It felt like my body was weightless, the pain in my bones barely noticeable.

Only a few moments later, a knock startled me.

“Can I come in?”

I hid my entire body underwater and called Gunnar inside. He carefully opened the door and placed the towel next to the bathtub, not even glancing at me. “Call me when you need something else.”

He was about to head out when I grabbed his hand. He whipped his head in my direction, his eyes wide and the tips of his ears burning red. “Why don’t you stay here with me?”

His mouth dropped open before he closed it again. “You want me to stay?”

I laughed. “I would like to speak to you more. Do you mind?”

“What? Of course not. Sure, I will stay,” he said, sitting down on the floor, leaning his back against the wall of the bathtub.

I stopped the water with my foot and relaxed for a while, my eyes closed, just enjoying the warmth and Gunnar’s presence. That he was being close to me made me feel at ease, like everything was going to be okay again. He risked his life to save me, and I will never forget that. If not for him and his pack, I would not be here now.

“Thank you,” I said, disturbing the silence.

He leaned his head back. “What for?”

I ran my hand through his hair. “For not giving up on me. If you hadn’t been so persistent during our first encounter, who knows what would have happened? You proved again and again that you are a wonderful person, and I’m lucky that you chose to be with me.”

He turned around, took my hand, and kissed each knuckle. “I can’t put into words how glad I am to have met you that day and not any other pack. I kept trying to find someone who I could grow old with, but no one seemed to fit. Until I met you.”

I smiled. “Good thing you had the patience of a saint. I know being around me must have been difficult.”

“There will always be difficult times, but it’s not that I couldn’t understand it. You had many feelings to sort through, and I rather had you take your time when diving into something you weren’t sure of.”

He turned around again, letting me continue to run my fingers through his hair. For a moment, we remained silent, before I couldn’t stop the questions anymore.

“What happened to Vincent in the end? Did you reach the alpha? And what happened to Jelto?”

Gunnar chuckled. “That must have been burning inside you like a wildfire. Vincent is back with his pack. His father wasn’t all too thrilled to pick him up after he failed his mission. But he was also quick to blame Vincent for everything that happened, making it seem as if he did that all on his own accord. The alpha even said that he always planned to let the differences rest. I can understand why he blamed his son because it was the easiest way out. He wouldn’t be able to win against us, and he had to avoid any further conflict. Vincent seemed so scared. It almost looked like he had rather died than returning home. Pretty sure there is more going on in the background.”

“You saw Vincent’s wolf. Something is wrong with it,” I said, a cold shiver running down my spine, remembering the shadowy and dark wolf form.

Gunnar nodded. “I have never seen anything like this. The wolf almost felt dead, yet alive. It was surreal. But he wasn’t all too strong. Tyra told me about some weird power he has when he is in his human form. He surely didn’t have the same power when he was in his wolf form.”

I groaned. “Honestly, his wolf talent is scary. It almost feels like he is tearing your soul out of your body.”

“I wish I could have hurt him more for what he did to you, but torture isn’t my style either,” he muttered.

“You rescued me and saved the ruins. That is all that counts.”

“We can only hope they will give up on the ruins now, but I can’t trust that alpha. I will speak to our allied packs after everything has settled a bit, so we can prepare for a potential attack.”

My heart clenched hearing that. “I always wanted to avoid dragging you into this mess.”

“But I wanted to be dragged into this mess. Don’t worry. Being a protector of the ruins is a big honor for me, and I’m glad it ended this way. Surprisingly, all our wolves survived, too. Sure, some of them are more hurt than others, but they are alive. Can’t say the same about their wolves.”

I sighed. “It all could have been prevented so easily. So many lives lost because of power.”

“I wish the power wouldn’t get to people’s heads sometimes, but I guess that is part of who we are. We just have to make sure it never eats us up the same way.”

I watched the colorful water dripping through my fingers, waiting for him to tell me about Jelto. My heart was racing in my chest, unsure of what we would want to hear. He betrayed us and was ready to kill us. What exactly would make me happy to hear? I didn’t know.

“Jelto is still in the pack. But it was a tough decision to make, one I didn’t want to make on my own. He was ready to sacrifice us all, but in some twisted way, I could understand his frustration, too. Jelto was always more human than a wolf, but I feel like I failed him. I never realized just how much he disliked being a wolf, or maybe it was because I kept pushing his girlfriend away only because she’s a human. I should have handled it with more care and sympathy. After I learned about the lesson you were supposed to learn, I realized it was one I should have learned too. I pushed him into a corner without realizing it.”

I sat up and wrapped my arms around him, water soaking through his shirt. “Don’t blame yourself too much. You just tried to do your best, too. And if you realized now that you might have been too hard on him, then you can still work on it now, if you want to. I’m not sure if I can ever forgive him, though.”

He sighed, leaning his head against mine. “I know. It’s hard for me, too. I mean, he shot me, knowing full well about our past with Aloysious. Guns are a sensitive topic for us. Besides, he brought the entire pack in danger, too. That’s why I didn’t decide what will happen to him alone, but with the entire pack. We discussed what happened and decided he would get another chance. He was remorseful and even quit his job to be closer to us. The topic with his girlfriend is still in the air, though. If he is really serious about her, we might consider inviting her. We would risk a lot, and who knows what the ancient mages would think about it, but it wouldn’t feel right to force a pack member to leave the person they love. It would be the same as unfit female alphas who are getting chased out of the pack. And if you don’t feel comfortable with him around, we can still figure out something else. Maybe send him to Sweden or something.”

I kissed the top of his head and dropped back into the water. “No, it’s fine this way. Let’s see how he will redeem himself.”

I stayed in the bath until my skin looked like old raisins and got ready to see George in the hospital. As ready as I could get, anyway. I wonder how he will react to what he saw and what I’m going to tell him. For the first time since we met, he will get to know who I really am, only to forget about it again.

But at least, even if it’s only for a little while, I can be truthful with him. Finally.

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