His Brother's Mate

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Chapter 15

The wind howled outside my window, snow blurring our view of the outside world. Evan was wrapped safely within my arms as I sat against the headboard with my legs stretched out before me. My fingers were toying in the blonde locks at the top of his head as I watched the snow pelt gently against the window, practically melting as it made contact with the glass. The room was warm enough that I had slipped on a cotton pajama set that made it more comfortable to settle in the large bed with Evan.

Darla stood by one of the windows, one arm protectively closed over her chest while she delicately gnawed at the thumb on her other hand. Her blonde hair was pulled from her face, but those green eyes showed signs of anxiety that only made my own worse. Though her eyes were looking out the window, her attention was elsewhere.

“So, how long have you worked for these people,” I asked. As I was asking the question, I realized I had no idea who she really worked for. However, I had to ask something that would draw her out, her current demeanor giving me more cause to worry than soothing.

“About ten years now,” she replied, glancing in my direction briefly before turning back to the window.

“Wow,” I commented. “Ten years! You must like it here,” I said as I offered a smile. Anything to move our attention away from the tension that was palpable in the room.

As for me and my ability to stay locked in a job, I was lucky to last more than a couple of years since Evan was born. Most jobs that I held simply could not understand what being a mom to Evan was like. The health conditions he was prone to were unexplainable, and most of the jobs I took during that time did not do well with my unexpected and prolonged absences when he took ill.

There were times Evan had spells that were so severe that I found myself crying out of sheer helplessness. Doctors were not able to explain what was happening with my son, and I refused to medicate him for long based on hypothetical opinions...especially when the medications seemed to have no effect. Instead, I took the time off to be with my son, and most of those times it cost me my job. Luckily, my brother and his family were always there to lend a helping hand when I needed it. And, boy, did I need it.

Darla continued to stare out the window as she responded idly. “It is better here than where I am from.”

Tilting my head to the side, I studied her. Suddenly, I started to view her as an enigma, one that I wanted to know a little more about. “How so,” I asked, curious as to how a place could be worse than here. However, if I had to be honest with myself, it wasn’t all bad when Gavin wasn’t pushing my buttons.

That seemed to snap her out of her thoughts as she turned towards me and leaned against the window frame. “The family that led our pack was not very nice. This pack gave me a fresh start. I can never thank them enough for what they have done for me,” she responded, but her last words prompted her to catch her lip between her teeth and sadness loomed in her eyes.

Though I found her reaction curious, there was one word that drew me in like iron filings to a magnet. “Pack?” This was not the first time I have heard someone refer to a pack, and I still had no idea what they meant by that. When a frown forced the corners of her mouth down further, I knew she was about to clam up on me. “I’m sorry,” I started, an idea starting to form. “It is just that I am not very familiar with packs in general. I mean, this is the only pack I have had the chance to become familiar with, so I didn’t realize they were all so different.”

There, I took a stab at it, and I hoped it paid off. If she did not consider these people a pack here, then she would know I was lying about even a vague familiarity with packs. If, in fact, she considered these people a pack, it might be my lucky break. Running my fingers through Evan’s soft tendrils of hair, I waited for the verdict.

The woman watched me for a few seconds as she pondered her next move while I turned my focus totally on Evan. My hope was that I portrayed a sense of nonchalance, but inside I felt a tension starting to coil. Finally, she let her tongue click at the top of her mouth, and settled herself against the frame of the window even more casually.

“Well, that stands to reason,” she smirked. “Our kind avoids yours as best as we can, aside from business transactions here and there.”

The words sunk in, but I forced myself to continue to stroke Evan’s head while I fought to show any signs of consternation. Our kind, she had said...but what were they if not like me?

“If not for Kent and Evan, you would never know that we existed. But, here you are,” she chuckled without malice, yet the hair at the back of my neck still started to stand on end. Dangerous sapphire eyes dominated my mind’s eye as lust and desire took hold of him, something deep inside him that was not so very like me rising to the surface and adding credence to everything Darla was saying.

“What made you choose to come here,” I asked, my voice lacking any real interest as I thought of how to ask all the questions that I wanted to without raising suspicion. However, the only thing that came to mind is what the heyday are you...and I just don’t think that would fly.

Darla sighed, bringing her hand up to trace patterns in the fogged glass. “The alpha of our pack killed my parents.”

My hand tensed above my little boy’s crown while I bit the inside of my cheek trying hard to maintain a non-reactive appearance. Would she be able to sense my reactions?

When she did not add more, I figured she was waiting for my reaction. Trying to maintain my composure, I offered some generic sympathy. Even if I did truly feel for her and her situation, I couldn’t shake the knowledge that there was something very different about her that wasn’t like me. “I’m sorry. I can’t imagine what that must be like.” I wanted to add questions like what the devil is an alpha and how could he get away with something like that, but then I thought of my current circumstances. I may not understand it, but I knew asking those questions would not yield me any answers.

Darla shrugged lazily, dropping her hand from the geometric pattern she had traced on the glass. “The price one pays when the alpha believes you betrayed him. There are very few that are forgiving of betrayal.”

“So, the alpha here-”

Darla laughed, interrupting my thought. “I don’t think he would like hearing you refer to him like that.”

Looking up, I caught her eyes as she studied me. “I-” Conversations moved through my memory like snapshots as one memory came to mind. “I cannot imagine Mr. Blakely would care what I called him.”

Darla shrugged, turning her attention back to what lay beyond the other side of the window. “Then, clearly, you still have a lot to learn.”

Her words irritated me, but not enough to keep me from trying to find ways to get more information from her. “Maybe,” I murmured. “But, I am glad that you have been here for Evan.” I looked at her and offered a smile, but she kept her attention focused elsewhere.

“Evan is a special little boy, and I am just trying to keep him from being a pawn in a war that is not his own.”

My face fell in that instant, my composure completely falling into an abyss. “What do you mean by that?”

Darla raised a brow, wearing a frown as she tapped a nail against the glass. “It’s no wonder you didn’t take him seriously when he told you about the bad man coming,” she whispered against the pane, her breath fogging the glass even further. “It wasn’t a bad dream or imagination, it was a premonition. One he inherited from his father.” She turned her head, leaning the side of it against the glass as she let her gaze settle on me. “If you want to survive what is coming, you might want to start listening!”

With that, she pushed herself off the window, moved gracefully across the floor, and left the room without another word. In her wake, she left more questions than she answered.

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