Chapter 4 - Timber and wood
“I am bored!” Jonathan announced from the kitchen as soon as he finished his breakfast.
Avery had already retreated into the living area following the last clash of their wits. She wasn’t exactly pouting in there, but Jon knew he had successfully rattled her to the point where she willingly decided to retreat, even if that meant accepting defeat. Contrary to what he initially thought, he didn’t feel smug or proud of himself that he had finally asserted his dominance over her and her household. He even wondered what had possessed him to act like the ass, that she had rightfully claimed him to be.
What he knew was that he did feel attracted to her and tried to impress her, even thank her, but it all went down the drain the moment that he opened his mouth. The words simply started coming out wrong. So horridly wrong! Instead of the thanks and appreciation for her cooking that he was planning on giving, he had managed to get her flustered. He couldn’t even excuse his behavior as being forward or blunt. He knew he had been flat out rude.
His wolf didn’t help matters either. The bastard was constantly pushing lustful ideas into his head. True, she had a nice body that he wouldn’t mind feeling over, under or ever which way. However, Jonathan was not a newly shifted pup who would snap at a she-wolf, because of his own frustration with his horny wolf. Controlling the urges from the animal within was the first thing that a pup learned. Then respect and equilibrium came. You had to be one with your wolf, or risk losing it all.
There was no simple guide or rehab program when it came to rejected wolves. Something deep within you was severed with the rejection. You were broken - dead on the inside. Your wolf will lash out and then slowly dissipate until you are left a shell of the person that you once were.
Even though Jonathan had managed to talk to Vanessa before he had left to warn the Kincaids, no amount of conversation was going to prepare him for the loneliness and bitterness he lived to experience. With every single day, the unvarnished truth left a tart taste – he had lost his soul mate, his other half.
They were no more.
You are rejected. You will never be the same.
It was as brutal as it could get.
Even if there were any self-help books to deal with grief, Jon bet that only few Pack Doctors had any experience on the matter. He could only think of one that had actually handled Vanessa’s case - Dr. Garvan, who was technically Pack Law ER doc. He had put his job on the line by helping Joel and Jon handle Vanessa, whenever they had to go on a mission. Jon had always suspected that the good doctor had consoled her in more than one way.
His eyes snapped at the red head in the other room. She was not the one to blame for his outburst however cunning she had proven to be. The problem stemmed from the blond that had chosen another!
Jon rubbed the back of his neck. Maybe things would have been different had Jon fought more relentlessly for her love.
A fight with Brandon was pointless. Jon didn’t even need to resolve to his wolf to prevail in a fight with the Beta-turned Alpha wolf. The Pack Law training Jonathan received over the years was enough to guarantee his success. Jon’s hand subconsciously went to his left, where a curved saber used to lay flat against his hip. A smile spread across his lips. He could yield anything with a blade to perfection. He was exceptionally proud of that particular skill as he, himself, had hone to perfection. It was his doing, his achievement, where for once his Royal blood had not given him an unfair advantage.
There was no doubt – had Jon fought for Juliet, Brandon would be painfully defeated. Jon knew his wolf would want to make a spectacle out of annihilating the competition. The easiest way to get yourself killed was to make an advance to another wolf’s mate. It was a death sentence. Even a common wolf fighting for his True Mate was bound to be vicious in defending his claim on what was rightfully theirs and could take down a pretender with title. It was known to have happened. Jonathan as part of Pack Law had even witnessed it.
There is no honor in fighting a weaker wolf. That is why Jonathan had not openly challenged and disposed of Brandon. Jon didn’t want to force another mating on Juliet by not taking her opinion in the matter. She had suffered enough! Juliet had been a victim of power-hungry men, who had tricked her into a Choice Mating that was certainly not working out. That is why Jonathan needed to hear her make her own choice; to choose him over any other; and to promise herself, body and soul to him!
Hadn’t he been a romantic fool to believe in the notion that if you love something, you should set it free? If it comes back to you, then it was meant to be yours.
He had set her free all right, he sarcastically thought.
Yet another she-wolf was desperately avoiding him like the plague.
Yet another woman despised him without even taking the time to get to know the real Jonathan Graves.
Avery wasn’t interested in him.
She had made it abundantly clear.
All Jon ever wanted was to find his place in the world and have some love that was cruelly denied to him throughout his life.
Wasn’t Life just priceless?
Priceless, he sarcastically thought.
What was exactly left to live for? For more heartbreak? To see the pity in the faces of those he loved? His life wasn’t worth living. But if his life wasn’t worth a dime, then why was he still fighting to survive, to live?
Because he was a coward.
Yes, the sad truth was that the uncrowned Monarch was a coward, hiding away from his title, people and duties, because he was not ready to face them. He didn’t want to see the concern in their faces, or make them tip toe around him, too scared to live their own lives, because he could snap without so much of a moment-notice.
Jon was not weak. He considered himself strong, prideful and powerful.
Or he used to be?
Avery was right; he had dramatically lost weight, not that she would know exactly how much. She was concluding based on his bone structure that was more prominent now that it had been before. But it was no big deal as Jon knew that with proper food that seemed to be in abundance around Avery, he would retain his previous body mass back. A Monarch had to at least appear intimidating when he returned. As of the moment, he was nothing but a shadow of his old self, barely winning an argument with a she-wolf that was half his size.
Jon scratched the back of his head.
Was he really contemplating of going back?
No. Not really. Even if he went back, it would only be to check on Vanessa, who had found her happiness in the rowdy Blackwood Alpha. Jon meant his last words to the now reigning Monarch, he better be taking good care of his cousin or else Jonathan had no problem of pummeling down his successor. Vanessa was his hope. If she could fight passed the sorrow, so could Jonathan.
Fight or die trying.
The soft sigh snapped Jonathan attention to the sitting room. She wolves and books! Romantic lies that had nothing to do with the harsh life! His erratic behavior, despite being expected considering Jonathan’s circumstances, must be totally out of bounds for Avery. She had no clue who he actually was and or why he was in his current state of distress. It took courage to take a leap of faith with a stranger, to open your house to a rogue.
One minute he would want to thank Avery for everything that she had done for him; then next minute he was ready to strangle her for the obvious lack of respect. Maybe Jonathan needed to strangle the source of all evil – Juliet. She was responsible for him to act like a hormonal she-wolf in heat!
Being rejected made you feel broken…unwanted… scarred for the rest of your life!
Reckless - that’s what they had called Vanessa’s brush-ins with the Law.
Jonathan wondered what they would call him? The Mad Monarch… Or would they opt for insane? Or even berserk? He was curious. As soon as he got the answers he wanted, he would then kill all who had spoken the insult.
A sinister grin got plastered on his face.
He took a deep breath chasing away the murderous thoughts. He would not slip once again and risk mauling down the irritating redhead in the next room. Even though she had proven to be a constant thorn in his backside, he had to acknowledge the fact that he was recovering and it was largely due to her persistence to make him shift. Oh, but she thought she was so much more clever than him! Her gradual manipulation has certainly not gone unnoticed! Jon had seen though her farce twenty seconds after he shifted!
A lot could happen in just twenty seconds and it only proved that Jonathan wasn’t ready to leave. He was not on top of his game. He was healing, but not yet recovered. Avery provided the security, the baseline that he could compare himself to. Her mad cooking skills and cozy cabin were additional perks of his “recuperation”.
She must be a psychiatrist or something. Nobody could manipulate others with such an ease without having some sort of training. Even Pack Law had never had a Profiler that good to be able to persuade and work with traumatized wolves. Post traumatic stress disorder wasn’t only a thing from the human world. Werewolves were just as susceptible to it. Jon had to admit, even on the expense of his pride – he had sustained an unbearable trauma.
He was hurt.
Avery was that good at getting her way and it irritated him to no end. No wonder he was being a dominate testosterone filled jerk in front of her! She needed to know she got caught in the crossfire, in the aftermath of his rejection, but his stupid pride would not let him tell her. He didn’t want her pity, compassion or whatever you wanted to call it! He wanted her awe and approval.
Why would he suddenly care about what a mere she-wolf thought of him?
He didn’t know her. Hell, it was nerve racking to share air with her.
But somehow he wanted to impress her; especially after she had made it clear she doesn’t want his attention. Didn’t that remind him of Nessa’s little obsession with Joel? She had become overly touchy where Joel was concerned about the third month of her “recovery”, a loose term that applied to rejected wolves.
Jonathan looked down at his hands. How long had it been since he had been with someone?
Maybe finding a Choice Mate wasn’t as bad of an option. Nessa seemed genuinely happy with Marcus. All Jon has lived for was Honor and Love. And what had it gotten him so far?
Heartache, and nothing but heartache!
Deciding to leave his inexcusable behavior aside, he thought about the pretty redhead on the couch. Was she really living alone here? There was no sign of a man in her life, but that could only be because of the snow. Maybe the bastard hadn’t had the time to make it to their rendezvous before the snow hit.
Jonathan smugly grinned.
Too bad for him.
Jon felt lucky to be tugged indoors, cozily looked after and fed with home cooked delights for the rest of the storm! Curled up by Avery’s side definitely felt nice, but Jon decided not to push the matter after this morning.
His eyes landed at his now empty plate. He had even used a piece of bread to collect every last drop of the scrambled eggs that she had done for breakfast. His stomach growled.
He wanted more.
He needed more.
The big bad wolf was hungry.
His eyes snapped at the redhead on the couch.
Oh, so hungry!
“The leftovers are on the stove. Help yourself!” Her voice echoed in the cabin.
He quickly grumbled loud enough for her to hear, before his irritable mood again got the better of him and make him snap at her for giving him instructions!
He would have eventually seen the leftovers and served himself. He didn’t need to be told he is hungry!
He stood up and scolded himself.
She had been nothing but generous and he was repaying her by taunting her. Deciding that it was not his business what she was doing alone in the middle of the woods, calmed him down. If she was not poking her nose in his past, it was only courteous to do the same.
But Jon was curious. Not being privileged to the details of her life angered him. He wanted to know everything about her. It simply didn’t sound plausible that a cute little thing like her would be alone. The more time Jon thought about it, the more convinced he became that she was unmated. Why else would his endearments bother her so much?
She liked him and was obviously suffering from the Savior complex. He wanted to tease her, to provoke her, to bring up the blush on her cheeks. Jon decided that it suited her and that was his way to return the favor of opening her home to him. That was the only explanation he could come up with of why on Earth, he would call a person who he hardly knew suga’ or girlfriend!
The tint of red on her cheeks looked particularly interesting and he didn’t miss any occasion to provoke it by dropping a pet name for her.
That was so uncharacteristic of him. He was withdrawn, quiet, intimidating, brooding, but never playful. The rejection must be to blame for his current state of mind as he couldn’t recognize the man that he was becoming. Jonathan growled his frustration. Best if he didn’t think and play this one by the ear.
He started eating his second serving and his eyes snapped at the couch. He had given her more than enough time to chill.
“Hey, Avery, thank you for taking me in!” He said loud enough for her to hear him and then cringed at his choice of words. Why did they sound so sexual to him?
“You’re welcome” she responded and Jon tightened his grip around the fork as his mind drew a colorful image of Avery taking him in…. all of him… Now that was hot! Jon rearranged himself, trying to suppress a groan and getting irritated by the confinement of his pants.
Maybe he did need to go out and take a dive into the snow.
Yes, that was it.
He stood up and walked to the front door. He felt her eyes on his back the moment that he passed by her. He held the door open and then asked over his shoulder, vex with her silent stare, “You need something?”
“It would be nice if you would bring some logs for the fireplace”, Avery suggested from over the couch.
“Fine” he grunted and closed the door before the damn, woman, would find him another chore. He was definitely not asking for a chore when he had asked her. He had wanted to shame her! To make her stop glaring at his back as if he was something that needed fixing!
Jon walked around the porch, letting the crisp air bite into his skin. Werewolves ran on higher core temperature than humans and didn’t need to worry about coldness. The White Dead was a possibility still, but not as common as overheating. As he passed by the back of the cabin he saw a shed. As luck will have it, that would be where she would keep her damn logs.
Jon made his way to it and then opened the shed, cursing when he didn’t see a log that would fit in the fireplace. That sassy redhead had sent him knowing that he had to chop wood.
Serves him right for even opening his mouth before he walked out! Of course, the she-wolf would find him a chore! He should have known better!
That little red devil.
He spat. He rubbed his hands in anticipation of the manual labor. It was the only thing standing between her perky behind and a good spanking! Jonathan growled. Did he just go there?
His fingers wrapped around the helve of the axe before gripping it and pulling it out of the stump in one fluid motion. He cut the air through a couple of times, testing the axe’s balance and weight. It wasn’t the exquisite weapon that he had trained and fought with, but it would do just fine, where chopping wood was concerned.
Chop. Chop. Chop.
Damn her. She could really work him up!
She had done it again. He was manipulated to do her bidding.
How many chops does it take to split the overly large log in front of him in half? It couldn’t be that many if a she-wolf was able to do it. He smirked. If Avery could do it, he was determined to crack the next one in one blow!
The log took its time, irritating Jonathan. When he set a goal he aimed to achieve it and would not rest until he does so. His breathing was coming in short foggy puffs. It was going to be a work out. His fingers let the helve slip out of his reach and drop heavy on the wooden planks of the shed. Jonathan quickly unbuttoned his shirt, taking it off and putting it on the door handle. It was the only place that was even remotely clean. He huffed and wondered what Avery would do with this lot. It needed work and by the looks of it, she was more than a nerd, contented to be parked onto the couch with a good book in her hands. Jonathan decided that if she continued cooking for him, he wouldn’t mind doing a thing or two around the cabin to help her out. But he will pick his own damn chores!
A thin film coated his sculptured muscles as the crispy air hit his warmed up skin. The condensation felt refreshing.
Jon positioned the next rounded log on the stump in front of him and raised the axe above his head. Sinking the blade into the wood with a loud chop, it split it right in the middle. Jonathan grinned and bent down positioning one of the halves in the center. Another powerful swing and it was split. He was definitely getting the hang of it.
Jonathan didn’t mind the monotonous work. His body got into an easy rhythm. Working out was a good way to escape all the thinking that he had been doing. Thinking would only get you in trouble. His chest was expanding with each breath that he was taking, his muscles slightly burning from the vigorous exercise.
The even chops echoed in the silent forest; the sound travelling throughout the clearing of the cabin.
His muscles protested against further effort. It felt good to be tired of an honest day’s work. The adrenaline was still pumping through his veins. He was so out of shape and this work out has proven it. He needed to whip himself into shape. And this was only the beginning.
The thought of Juliet came to his mind and he viciously swung at the log in front of him, making the splinters fly left and right. She had severed the ties with him. He owed her no more.
Jon smirked and twisted the ax in his grip.
Who would have thought that chopping wood was going to be so much fun!
The chops started shortly after he exited the cottage. Avery smiled.
Avery 4 : Rogue 1
The chops started as reluctant isolated protests, and then slowly settled into a predictable rhythm, an indication that he had stopped moping and gone to work. Even though that he might argue with her, he needed to work out his anger. He was a wounded animal and it was a simple matter of time before he would lash and act on his anger. Depleting energy was a good way to keep one’s emotion in cheek. He would thank her later, most probably after he tries to lash out against her. Male werewolves were full of pride. They didn’t like being bossed around by fragile females.
Avery continued reading the novel. Ninety more pages and it would be over. She felt both excited to figure out what was going to happen in the end but also very sad that the journey of the characters was almost over. Wondering if there was time for another steamy scene before the big end, Avery quickly moved her fingers over the rest of the pages, allowing her eyes to skim read through the pages in search for code words.
Patience has never been her virtue.
She scolded herself and continued reading from where she had stopped, the steady chops keeping her company. Ah, this was the life….
A big smile graced her face as her favorite author had packed another juicy surprise for her. The passion with which this Raven Devenheart wrote only proved that she had lived and loved wholeheartedly. Avery couldn’t even begin to compare her own experience with that of the lead heroine. Unlike all novel characters, Avery’s story had been uneventful until close to the bitter end. A perfect childhood, doting parents, powerful Alpha as a True Mate. What more would an eighteen year old want from life? Little did the eighteen year old know, it would take two years for all of her dreams to come crushing, three years of being a punch bag to finally get rid of her beloved True Mate. For all Avery cared, he could do whatever he wanted as long as he never crossed her path again. And if he did, she had more than the courage and means to stand up for herself and crush him like the worm he was.
The heavy steps, rounding the house caught her attention. She strained her ears to detect any of the reassuring chops from the back of the cottage. The silence was unnerving.
That is when the door slung open, revealing a set of bare muscular hands, bringing in some dry wood. He settled them down next to the fireplace and then snorted, “For future references, I am not your stable-hand!”
Avery’s senses choose to ignore his obvious fury, as she was drawn to the sweaty chest and the masculine scent he had brought into the cottage. He was squatting next to the fireplace, while allowed her to examine the never fluttering balance he had on his toes. He was dangerous and his icy blue eyes were boring holes in her head.
Her heart fluttered in appreciation of the raw energy that he projected. He was the epitome of a male in his prime. True, he was on the skinny side, but she had no doubt that his muscles would bulge once he starts eating healthy again. And she was determined to help him get there. He would have been a sight for sore eyes working out with that axe. Why hadn’t she thought about bringing him something cold to drink?
Because it was freezing outside!
Avery felt like a school girl, obsessing about his body.
“Your axe is broken” he informed her, narrowing his eyes at her and unfolded his tall frame, giving her a smirk and then gracefully making his way to the guest room. As Avery heard the shower running, she finally relaxed.
Avery didn’t put it pass him to have intentionally broken her axe, rebelling against her command. Even if that was the case, he had acknowledged that he needed to work out his anger and that Avery took as a sign of progress.
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