Chapter 10 - Tiberius (Part 2)
He nodded, accepting their invitation to dinner, even though he would prefer to be alone with her tonight.
The bond wound itself tighter around his heart as Crystal’s family gathered in the backyard for more privacy and the alpha and luna left. It was almost lunchtime and Alexander started up the barbecue.
Sitting at the patio table, Crystal hugged her knees to her chest, and when she released her knees to sit up straighter, she was constantly twisting things between her fingers and fidgeting. She barely glanced at him and when she did, her eyes dashed away.
He wanted to sit beside her and wrap an arm around her while she’d lean against his chest. But would she let him in the presence of these wolves?
Tension hung in the air as everyone took turns asking Crystal questions about what happened.
Tiberius watched her squirm, even though everyone was relaxed, non-intrusive, and non-aggressive. They left gaps between questions, sensing her unease as sweat slowly gathered on her brow. She curled into herself bit by bit as if willing herself to disappear.
At one point, her father came up behind her from the barbecue and wrapped an arm around her shoulders and kissed her head.
A growl crept up Tiberius’ throat before he could stop it. His claws raked across the wooden deck connecting the house to the above ground pool.
All eyes turned to him and growls rumbled in warning.
Crystal’s eyes were all that mattered and they looked back at him, round as saucers. Her breaths came in ragged, but he didn’t sense her wolf under the surface.
She needed space.
Huffing, he turned and jumped off the deck, hitting the soft earth and sprinting to the far corner of the fenced-in yard.
The dogs in a separate fenced off area barked at him, but he ignored them. Why did they have so many dogs?
He leaned up against a tree, hung his head, and dug his claws into the earth.
Space. Privacy. He may be her mate, but that didn’t mean she didn’t deserve some space and privacy with her family.
He shut out the murmur of their voices. Tuned out the sounds of the city beyond the walls and trees of the pack lands. He inhaled the earthy scent of the dirt, the trees, and the grass around him. Closed his eyes and focused on nature.
He could hear the comings and goings of the wolves in the pack. Heard them mumbling in curious voices as to what was going on, knowing that something had happened, but were unsure of what it was.
“What do you plan to do with your mate?” Teresa asked Crystal, catching Tiberius’ attention as the meat on the grill sizzled when her father popped the lid of the barbecue.
“Um, I don’t know,” Crystal replied softly. “He’s a rogue, right? He has no pack, so maybe… Maybe he could join ours?”
No one replied immediately. The meat sputtered as her father rotated it, the flames lapping up the fallen juices and filling the air with its delicious aroma. Beef and chicken. Tiberius’ stomach growled and he was sure he could eat it all in five minutes.
“Right?” Crystal probed, a pleading note raising the pitch of her tone.
“Lycans don’t belong with werewolves,” Justin, said. “And besides that, he won’t be happy here in the city. It will drive him crazy. It’s against his nature. His sense of smell and hearing are twice as strong as ours. You know that.”
“B-But he’s a rogue!” she protested.
“We know. And if he were a werewolf, there would be no issue. You have to consider his needs too, Cricket,” Justin replied.
“So, you’ll kick us both out of the pack, huh?” she spat.
The edge of her voice caught Tiberius’ attention. Her wolf was there, feeling threatened, coming to the surface and pressing against it.
The dirt flew out from underneath him as he dashed across the lawn. The deck shook and cracked as he leaped upon it and pulled Crystal from her chair.
Her wolf had already seized her as he fell back on his rump, clutching her tightly to his chest as the spasms jerked her body.
He whimpered softly in reassurance, ignoring the eyes that pierced into him.
They confirmed his suspicions, but it hurt him too.
This would make it harder for her to fall in love with him. She would have to give up everything to be with him.
But his family… His family had to be reasoned with. He didn’t denounce his pack, he only left. His pack bonds should still be intact. He couldn’t join another pack if his bonds were still intact.
He needed to tell her the rest of his story. Once everything was corrected, then they could discuss matters about packs.
Don’t give up on me, mate, he silently begged as her convulsions ceased after a minute and she was limp and exhausted in his arms.
He brushed her hair from her face, the tips of his claws stained with her blood from grabbing her roughly. Moaning, her blue-green eyes gazed up at him through hooded lids as sleep sought to claim her.
“How?” was all she could muster weakly before closing her eyes.
Carefully, he shifted her body and slipped an arm under her knees. Rising up to his hind feet, he cradled her to his chest as he stepped toward the sliding back door of the house.
Her mother slid it open for him. “Let her rest. I’ll bring in your lunches for you.”
There was sadness in her face. A helplessness that marred her features, but there was kindness and love in her eyes.
He gave her a nod before ducking under the doorframe and stepping into the kitchen. His claws clicked against the tiled floor as he swooped to prevent his head from scraping the ceiling.
Picking up on Crystal’s scent, he followed it to her room. The walls were painted in light gray with white trim around the window. Purple curtains hung to the side of the window that overlooked a tree separating the house from the neighbor’s. A single bed with a blanket in a mix of grays and purples stood against the wall in the corner under the window.
He set her down on her bed and sat on the floor beside it, resting his head on the mattress and watching her fall asleep.
Give me a chance, mate, he silently pleaded her. Everything will be okay.