Chapter 23: The Search
It took the entire group a week to iron out all the nitty-gritty details of the search party and its logistics before things could be put into motion. I was so proud of the way Knox was not only taking charge and commanding everyone like a true Alpha should, but also incorporating everyone in the process and not operating as a complete tyrant. The hardest part of the entire process was finding someone Knox trusted enough to not only watch over me as I stayed behind to train - as I promised Knox I would - but also someone to watch over the entire pack as well.
In the end, Knox sacrificed leaving Zane behind - the one warrior Alpha Aaron sent us that he’d come to trust the most out of them all. Thankfully, Knox was able to find and vet ten more men from this pack to take with him on the search mission. If it hadn’t been for my mother’s quiet uprising, and her approval of each man, I don’t think Knox would’ve trusted anyone enough to take them with. The decision of who would watch over the pack was the one Knox made the quickest, much to everyone’s surprise. He sensibly chose my mother as she’d already gained the trust of most of the pack and had previous experience in leadership within this very pack.
I started my training the day we’d decided on the base of the plan and its backup should things not go the way we were hoping. It was the most labor-intensive thing I’d ever been through. My mornings started before the sun came up and ended after it had gone down. I started every day of training with an hour session of yoga with other women in the pack to ensure I was properly stretched out and wouldn’t injure myself later on. Then, I was forced to endure a five-mile run...uphill. Cardio had never been my strong suit and I seriously contemplated the sanity of the others who’d joined me just for fun. Then, I would spend the rest of my day doing some one-on-one basic combat training so I wouldn’t be totally helpless if I ended up needing to fight - God forbid.
The only breaks I got during the days were to eat or use the restroom. By the time my trainer and I would call it a day, I would be absolutely exhausted and famished; one night, I actually ate more than Knox had.
The first few nights were the hardest; he had to not only carry me upstairs, but also help me bathe, towel myself off, slip into my pajamas, and get settled into bed as well. After my body became more used to the rigorous schedule, I was able to do it all for myself - not that Knox didn’t still hover over me like a hawk just in case.
I had to laugh when Knox told my trainer I would be taking the day off the morning before they were set to leave. He’d been miffed about our lack of intimacy which had been caused by my sore muscles and worn out body. I didn’t complain about his demand one bit as I missed our frequent bedroom activities as well.
When night had come, and Knox finally laid down with me after packing the things he needed, I couldn’t help the quiet sob that bubbled from my chest. Knox and I hadn’t spent a single night apart since our mating and in less than twelve hours I would be alone in this bed. He cradled me against his body, leaving no space between us as he stroked his hand over the back of my head and down to my mid back.
“It’s alright, Flower. I promise I will be fine. I’m not happy about this either, but these couple of days will fly by. I promise,” he murmured with his lips pressed against my forehead. I clutched his shoulders for dear life, not wanting to ever let go. I shouldn’t have been as emotional as I was - I mean, it was only two days for Pete’s sake! - but I couldn’t stop the tears. Sensing that I was too worked up to be brought down by words, Knox shifted our bodies until he was looming above me. My thighs were spread as he kneeled between them, the palm of each of his hands pressed against the mattress on either side of my head.
There wasn’t a single item of clothing that needed to be removed from either of us as we usually slept naked; something I’d begun doing when I realized how amazing it felt to have his skin pressed against mine all night. It also made our middle-of-the-night rendezvous much easier as they happened multiple times nearly every single night.
Knox held his body up with the one hand while allowing the other to trail from my cheek, down my neck, over my already-sensitive breasts, to my tightening belly, before finally slipping between my dripping folds. I dug my nails into his shoulders as his fingers explored me while simultaneously coating themselves in my slick juices. A throaty moan slipped from between my lips as he sunk a single finger into my heat all the way to the knuckle. I bit my lip as he began a steady rhythm that had my breath quickening. He added a second finger a minute later, his thick digits stretching me deliciously as he began massaging my walls with the tips. He increased his pace, bringing me right to the brink of ecstasy before slowing to a stop and pulling them out. I wanted to whine in annoyance, but I stopped myself when I felt him press his blunt tip against my entrance.
I licked my lips and moaned out his name as he slid into me inch after inch. I clenched my thighs around his hips when he finally bottomed out inside me, the sensation of being stuffed so full almost too much to bear. Being with him was like the first time every time. He began pumping into me at a torturously slow pace while bringing the fingers he’d teased me with up to my lips. I opened my mouth and welcomed them in immediately, swirling my tongue around them sensually and tasting myself as he growled in pleasure. He pulled the fingers from my mouth after I’d sufficiently cleaned them and set the hand down against the mattress to mirror his other.
Sliding my hands up from where they’d been resting on his shoulders, I grasped his cheeks and pulled his face down until our foreheads were pressing against one another. He stared into my eyes as his fingers dug into the mattress for leverage, his thrusts becoming deeper and harder as the moment became more intense. Staring into his eyes, I was almost overwhelmed at the amount of love I saw shining in them. And it was all for me. A single tear slipped down the side of my cheek as the moment encompassed my entire being, never once breaking eye contact with Knox as he continued to drive into me.
I wanted to speak, to tell him all the things I was feeling in that moment, but I was so hypnotized by him, and my love for him, that I couldn’t get the words out. When I tried, all I vocalized was a loud moan of pleasure. Knox groaned in response before nodding his head just the slightest bit, letting me know he was feeling everything I was feeling too. With a few final thrusts, I was on cloud nine. My orgasm washed over my entire body, my toes curling against the back of Knox’s thighs. My release triggered Knox’s own a few seconds later as I felt his cum scorch my insides, causing a second mini orgasm to take hold of me.
Knox slowed his thrusts until he was completely still, yet remained buried inside of me. His member began to soften, but the feelings that surrounded us didn’t lessen in intensity. In the time we’d been mated, Knox and I had made love many times, but none of them had ever felt like this time had.
“Let’s sleep, Flower. I have a strong feeling this will be the last night of decent sleep I get until I come back,” he murmured against my lips. Pressing a soft peck against them before he pulled out of me and turned us so we were spooning on our sides, his entire body cocooning my own in his warmth.
Saying goodbye the next morning wasn’t easy, but necessary. I watched in the rearview mirror as Poppy waved goodbye to our SUV until we were finally out of sight. I sighed deeply, already feeling a tight, uncomfortable sensation in my chest at the distance that was growing between us.
I glanced over at Jason, Grace’s mate, sitting next to me. He’d agreed instantly when I’d called and requested both his and Grace’s assistance in our plan. They’d also decided to permanently stay with our pack to continue helping me in my search for my parents. Grace was still in their old pack boxing up their things and tying up loose ends in order to make the move. I hadn’t told Poppy yet as I wanted it to be a surprise.
I was thankful for Poppy more than she would ever know or understand. She had paved the way for the mostly-formal friendship I had with both Jason and Grace and helped me secure the resources I needed to finish what I’d been working towards practically my whole life. Without her, I wouldn’t be in the position I was now; closer to finding my parents than I’d ever been before, my long-lost sister by my side.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to barge into my uncle’s territory and demand my parents back; I had a strong feeling in the pit of my stomach that that’s where they were. But, until I could be sure of that fact, I needed to cover all the bases first. My whole life I’d wondered what my uncle had really done with my parents. Where he’d taken my sister after dumping me and how she ended up in Poppy’s birth pack. So many unanswered questions that were chipping away at me with every passing day - hell, every passing minute. I didn’t want to ruin my chance at obtaining those answers because I didn’t have enough patience.
I rubbed at my chest, trying to ease the discomfort there while reassuring my wolf that we left Poppy under adequate protection. He wasn’t having it, though. And, really, neither was I. The only adequate protection there was for her was me.
“Uncomfortable, huh?” Jason asked rhetorically while pointing towards my hand kneading my chest.
“Does it ever get better?” I grumbled out.
“Not really, but it does get easier. To manage, that is. The older your bond becomes, the more secure both you and your wolf will feel. You’ll be able to sense her presence better and know for sure how she’s feeling and whether she’s alright or not. I’m so in tune with Gracie now that, if I really wanted to, I could tell if she’s hungry, sleeping, or even using the bathroom,” he joked with genuine laughter.
I nodded in response before gazing out the window. I opted not to drive, knowing if I did my wolf would take advantage of the situation and turn the car around and return to Poppy. The stupid mutt only ever had two things on his mind: how to improve her well-being and how to get her into bed. I guess I couldn’t judge him that hard as my thought process wasn’t much different, really…
I leaned my head against the window frame and closed my eyes, hoping to catch some shut-eye during the drive so my mind wouldn’t race the entire drive. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed when I woke up from my impromptu nap only two hours later. I had another eight hours to kill before we’d be there.
I spent the rest of the time mind-linking Poppy; either reassuring her that we would all be okay and continuously going over the plan or trying to convince her to send me photos of herself in nothing but one of my button up shirts. Being the intelligent woman she was, she denied on the premise of saving everyone else in the car from having to stare at my hard-on the rest of the ride.
Pulling off the desolate gravel road and into the thickening woods, my heartbeat kicked up. I could potentially be one search away from seeing my parents again. From being reunited with the people I haven’t seen in so long that I couldn’t remember what their voices sounded like. The tightness in my chest grew until we finally pulled to a stop a while later.
“Alright. We’re here,” The man driving, one of Alpha Rhymes’ old men, stated.
“We all know who we’re partnered with and which quadrants we’re searching, yes?” I checked, making eye contact with every person in the vehicle. I was met with nothing but looks of determination and nods of agreement.
“Alright. Let’s fucking do this,” I ordered before exiting the SUV. I released a quick puff of air from my lips before cracking my neck and setting out in my designated search area. Naturally, being the strongest of the entire group, I took the area closest to the borderline just in case something unexpected happened to go down. We’d specifically chosen to make the entire drive and begin the search as soon as we arrived. That would ensure the majority of it would be done in the dead of night when the forest life was still and we were better covered by the darkness.
Jason and I both shifted before beginning to sprint through the brush as quietly as possible. Noses to the ground and tails pointed straight out, I sniffed the ground and air intently. I was doing everything I could to try and catch any scent that closely resembled myself while also being different from my uncle; that wasn’t difficult as his own scent was sour to my wolf and I’s nose.
I wasn’t sure how much time had passed by the time Jason and I finally met up once again, both having clearly found nothing to get our hopes up over. I looked up at the sky and noticed that it appeared to extremely close to sunrise. I sighed, my hope dissipating greatly as I realized my worst nightmare had come true; my uncle had my parents and I was going to have to face him to finally get them back and end this thing once and for all.
My shoulders were slumped when we all loaded the car once again to begin the trip home. Having come together last night and realized we’d all failed to scent anything, the mood between all of us had become incredibly bleak.
I told myself not to get my hopes up, especially because I already knew the outcome of this bullshit search mission before we’d even showed up yesterday. But, somehow, I still deceived myself and allowed myself to believe there was a chance I’d find them today. However small that chance be, I wanted to think it was there. The reality was, life almost never works out that way. Poppy falling into my life the way she had was a rare exception. She was the only piece of light that had shown through the darkness of my life.
I couldn’t wait to get home to her. Right now, after facing such a big blow of disappointment, all I wanted was to walk through the pack house doors and right into her arms. She had a way of calming me and making me feel like everything was going to be okay. Right now, that’s what I was craving desperately. My need for her only increased with every mile that brought me closer to her.
By the time we finally pulled into the pack house driveway, my skin was practically itching all over. Throwing my door open, I barreled towards the house. Before I even made it to the steps, the front door swooped open to reveal Poppy standing there with a desperate face, obviously wanting to know how things went. I hadn’t even opened my mouth when her eyes turned sympathetic and she opened her arms to me. I quickly closed the space between us and wrapped my arms around her. Her own arms came up to wind around my neck as her delicate fingers played with my hair at the nape of my neck. I breathed in her intoxicating scent, allowing it to wash over my body and soothe my bleeding soul.
“I’m so sorry, baby, but I swear to you we’re going to find them. We will,” she stated with so much conviction that I had to believe her. I leaned down a bit farther and gripped onto her thighs just below her ass. Hoisting her up onto my hips, I carried her to the bedroom we’d been staying in. Before I could even think about conjuring up a new plan, I just needed time with my mate all to myself.