Chapter 6: Long Awaited Call
As the last song faded into the next one, someone grabbed my upper arm and caught my attention.
“Mind if I cut in?” Corbin asked.
“Actually, yeah,” the guy spoke, catching me - and Corbin - off guard. Neither one spoke another word, but I felt the air around us thicken with tension as the two engaged in a stare off.
“Whatever man. She’s all yours,” the guy spat angrily before disappearing into the sea of people.
I felt my high disappear as Corbin roughly grabbed my body and pulled it against his own. Whereas the other man’s hands were placed respectfully throughout the entirety of our interaction, Corbin’s started to wander seconds after we started dancing. I felt my irritation grow as I struggled to keep his hands out from under my dress.
When I felt a certain something poking me in my back and his hot breath on the intimate area at the base of my throat, I elbowed him in the chest and jerked my body away from his own. Thankfully, Grace saw the entire situation and came to my aid in seconds.
“I’m tired, I think I’m ready to go home now,” I told her, hoping my eyes conveyed how I was feeling about the situation with the Alpha’s son.
“Jason and I were just thinking the same thing. C’mon, you can give us a ride home,” Grace said pointedly while throwing a quick glare at Corbin.
“What? You’re leaving?” Corbin questioned, looking slightly angry.
“Yes, I’m tired,” I said, only offering that vague explanation before turning and practically sprinting from the dance floor. None of us spoke until we’d broke through the tree line and my car came into sight.
“God, that guy is such a fucking creep,” Grace whispered, breaking the silence.
“The entire time we were dancing he was trying to cop a feel,” I said with a shudder.
“Some guys just can’t take a hint. It’s really not that hard,” Jason growled looking just as frustrated as I was minutes ago.
“I just hope he doesn’t catch me alone somewhere. I don’t know how I would handle that...” I trailed off before shaking away the thought and starting my car.
When I finally returned home from dropping Grace and her mate off, it was pitch black and I was exhausted. My body was screaming for a hot shower and then my bed. I was thankful that Luna Caroline had thought to purchase a brand new mattress and bedding for the house just in case.
I made sure to lock the front door behind me before slumping into the bathroom. I started the shower before beginning to remove all my clothes. I was already half-asleep by the time I jumped in the shower.
“Ahh, shit!” I screamed when it registered in my brain that the water was still freezing cold. I jumped to the other end of the small space to avoid the icy spray as my body shivered. It seemed like I waited hours before realizing that the water wasn’t going to get any warmer than it already was. I squeezed my eyes shut and said a silent prayer before fully submerging myself under the water.
The shock caused me to suck in a deep breath as I impatiently waited for my body to grow used to the temperature. I took rapid shallow breaths while speedily washing my hair and body, deciding to skip shaving altogether. I turned the water off and quickly wrapped my hair and body in towels, trying desperately to regain some of my body heat that I’d lost.
My body shook violently and the tips of my fingers turned a blue hue as I sat on the edge of my unmade mattress - which was still in its plastic packaging. I rocked back and forth for a few minutes while blowing warm air on my fingers to bring the feeling back into them. I pulled the only thick sweatshirt in my suitcase out and slipped on a pair of leggings before beginning to make my bed. I decided to keep the plastic on the underside of the mattress as it was still sitting on the floor with no frame and I didn’t want it getting dirty.
I cursed myself in my mind when I saw my breath in front of me with every exhale. I stood in the middle of my bedroom, hair starting to freeze while trying to figure out a solution to my dropping body temperature.
Half an hour and an aching back later, I’d drug my mattress into my living room by the plastic underneath it.
Poppy 1, Life 0.
Now to figure out this damn fireplace.
I prayed that it wasn’t packed with gunk and that it was good to be used because this was my last hope for not freezing to death.
I thanked my lucky stars when I peeked out my front door and found a (most likely rotted) pile of wood. I grabbed all the logs I possibly could and carried them inside before chucking them into the fireplace. I rummaged around every nook and cranny of the kitchen until I found an old, rusty lighter.
Kneeling in front of the fireplace, it took me ten minutes to even get the damn lighter to start. I almost cried when I finally saw fire erupt. I carefully moved the end of it to one of the logs and watched as it slowly caught flame.
I did it! I cheered in my head as the glow grew brighter with every passing minute. I sat on the floor in front of it until I could feel all parts of my body before finally climbing into bed. The second my head hit the pillow, I was fast asleep.
The next morning I awoke freezing once again. The fire must’ve gone out early this morning, as my body was shivering under the covers - even though I was enveloped in my own warmth.
I slipped from the bed and pulled on my ugg boots that were carelessly discarded in my room before sprinting out to my car. Turning the engine on, I cranked the heat up to full blast and sat shaking until the car was adequately warm. I released a content sigh while resting my head against the steering wheel as my body began to dethaw for the second time in less than twelve hours.
I figured it was probably seven a.m. by how the sky looked. So much for sleeping in. I pulled open the glove box and was met with the sight of baby pink cable knit mittens lined with fur.
For when it gets cold and I’m not there to warm you.
An intense wave of emotion came over me as I began sobbing while holding the mittens in my hands. I clutched them against my chest as my tears slid down my cheeks and dropped onto my pants. When my sobs subsided into hiccups, I slipped the mittens over my hands and relished in their warmth. It must be getting close to my time of the month, as my attitude immediately changed from hopeless and depressed to determined.
Pulling my keys from the engine, I swung my door open and went in such of an axe. Surely there had to be one somewhere around this place. Walking around to the back, I discovered a beat-up shed looking like it was going to collapse any minute. Carefully easing the doors open, the inside was filled with rusting yard tools.
“YES!” I yelled happily while throwing my hands up into the air. I had to dig around for a few minutes before finally locating an axe. I dragged it behind me as I walked into the woods and tried to find a tree that was reasonable for me, but all I was finding were massive ones that appeared to be hundreds of years old. Walking just a few more feet, I found the smallest one I’ve seen yet and decided to give it a try. Pulling the axe up like a baseball bat, I swung my arms forward to take my first hit, but the head of the axe came loose and flew behind me.
I stopped, stunned at what had just happened while peering back and forth between the handle in my hands and the metal piece that was a couple feet away. I threw my head back and began laughing hysterically at myself, needing to lean against the tree for support as my stomach began to ache with how hard I was laughing.
Once I finally gathered myself, I grabbed the blade that flew away and jammed it onto the handle and gave it a few test swings before deciding I was good to go. Raising my hands once again, a few remanent giggles tumbled from my lips before I swung the axe forward and made contact with the tree.
“I did it! Oh my God I’m really doing it!” I cheered for myself. Seconds later, though, I hit an impasse. I couldn’t get the axe out from where it was wedged in the wood. I jerked and pulled for minutes, but it wasn’t budging.
“C’mon!” I growled angrily before digging my feet into the ground and pulling back with all my might. Sweat accumulated on my palms, causing the handle to slip from my grasp and send me tumbling to the forest floor. I screamed out in frustration before slumping backwards onto the ground, staring up at the sky in defeat.
I laid there for a few minutes before I heard a loud ruffling noise to my left. I shot up to my feet and frantically searched the surrounding area. My heart rate started to decrease when there wasn’t another noise for a few minutes. I decided to just forget about the axe and ask Jason if he could help me with it later. I started to back away when I saw a quick glimpse of those same yellow eyes in the distance.
Don’t be stupid, Poppy. Just turn around and leave I told myself before turning and sprinting in the direction of my house. I was about to break the forest line when a buzzing in my pocket caught me off guard. I wasn’t looking where I was going and tripped over a bulging tree root, twisting my ankle in the process. The corner of my head by my hairline hit a rock and split my skin open, causing me to bleed. I cried out in pain but forced myself to ignore it all as I pulled the device I’d been praying would ring for the past four days out of my pocket.
“Hello?” I whimpered.
“Poppy, thank God you’re okay.” Kiara’s relieved voice breathed out on the other end. The mixture of relief from finally hearing from her, the pain from my ankle and forehead, and my general anxiety over my entire situation finally reached a maximum and caused me to cry to the point of being unable to breathe.
“Poppy, I need you to calm down. I can’t talk for very long.” Kiara urged in a rushed voice. I forced my lungs to take in a few deeps breaths as I shoved every emotion I was feeling into the pit of my stomach.
“Are you alright? Are my mom and sister okay?” I asked, desperate for her to tell me yes to both questions.
“Yes and no. I would’ve called you sooner, but the Alpha took me and your mother into custody for questioning because we were the most obvious accomplices. They were finally forced to release us because they didn’t get any information about you out of us, but they’ve flown in an investigator from The Council to help find you...” She trailed off, worry lacing her tone.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, Kiara, but my new Luna just filed a persecution transfer form to send to The Council. They’ll probably pull the investigation once they receive the paperwork, but I’m praying they don’t tell my father why. How are things looking right now?” I asked.
“They’re not looking great. Alpha Williams is threatening to start a war. He’s given us three months to locate you and bring you back to him before he takes action.” She murmured quietly. I sucked in a deep breath as a pang of pain shot through my heart. Now because of my selfish action, my whole pack - and even some members of Alpha Williams’ pack - will be hurt.
“Kiara, you know I can’t let that happen,” I stressed.
“Don’t do anything stupid, Poppy. Please. Just give your mom and I some time to think, alright? I’ll call you as soon as possible, but I have to go. The Alpha is doing a routine information sweep in ten minutes. Wait for me to contact you, okay?” She rushed out before saying a quick I love you and hanging up.
“I love you too,” I spoke out to the trees around me before closing the phone and shoving it back in my pocket. I stared down at my already-swollen ankle and made a tiny movement to try and get up, but pain shot through my entire foot, causing me to cry out. Seconds later, I felt a trickle down my cheek. Touching the skin, my hand came back covered in my blood.
I felt helpless, lying there on the floor injured and alone. I grabbed the front of my hoodie and put a section of it in my mouth to bite down on before trying to make a second attempt at getting up. I hoped someone would hear my cries of pain and come to see what was going on, otherwise, I was in a world of trouble.
Just then, there was another ruffle behind me. My body tensed up as I strained my neck over my shoulder to try and see what was coming for me. I started to hyperventilate when the ruffling became constant and the sounds were closer and closer.
I dug my nails into the dirt below me as I waited for the unknown.
But I could’ve never prepared myself for what came next.