T H R E E
Within two hours, my car was fixed and Max’s dad was handing me over the keys to his cabin.
“Now there might be some things you need to fix up when you get there” Tony, Max’s dad said, wiping his greasy hands on his jean “Mostly electrical but Max said you were a genius when it comes to stuff like that”
I smiled sheepishly “Guilty”
“Well good” he smiled at me “Then it shouldn’t be a problem for you to fix”
“Thanks Mr. Young” I said, handing him the envelope full of cash to cover six months worth of rent.
“Anytime son” He hugged me “Now do you still remember how to get there?”
“Yes” I said with full confidence “Let me just get my friend and we’ll be out of your hair”
“By friend, do you mean the cute brunette talking to Nicolette?” He raised an eyebrow “The one that’s been looking at you ever since you stepped outside?”
I turned and sure enough, my eyes immediately locked with my Mate’s.
I gave her a little grin and she blushed red, turning away from me and dragging a grinning Nikki to the back.
“Yeah” I smiled “That’s my friend”
"Girlfriend" Tony cough out behind his fist, wiggling his eyebrows when I looked at him.
I rolled my eyes and headed back inside the diner “We’re just friends”
The bells on the diner door chimed as I opened it, ignoring the other patrons, and heading straight for the kitchen.
When Gene, Lorelei’s brother and the head chef saw me, he nodded his head and grunted towards the back office.
“Thanks Gene!” I called out and the only response I got back was another grunt.
When I finally got to the back office, I leaned against the door frame and smiled at the scene in front of me.
“You really don’t have to leave” Nikki sniffled into my Mate’s shoulder, her arms squeezing tighter “I can kick Alex’s ass out”
Madi chuckled, stepping back and wiping the tears from her eyes “I can’t let you do that”
“Madison, I’d do anything for you and my Godson” Nikki said fiercely “That includes throwing my boyfriend out”
“I know you would” Madi hugged her friend again “But I think it’s time that we venture out on our own now”
“Are you sure?”
“It’s time” Madison nodded “I’m ready now”
I cleared my throat, alerting the two girls of my presence.
When they finally heard me, they jumped.
“Don’t do that Dimitriou!” Nikki smacked my arm “You almost gave me a heart attack!”
I snickered “Sorry”
She narrowed her eyes at me “No, you’re not”
“I am!” I said in mock outrage “How dare you accuse me otherwise!”
“You’re lucky I like you” She said with a sigh “And trust you enough with my best-friend and Godson”
“Really?” I grinned “Does that mean I won’t get threatened within an inch of my life today?”
She snorted “I don’t like you that much”
Suddenly she grabbed me by my collar and brought me down to her height.
Which was a long way down considering I was over 6" feet and Nikki was barely 5′2.
“Nikki!” Madi cried out “What are you doing?!”
Nikki ignored her and held my gaze.
“You listen here Dimitriou” she talked slowly, making sure I heard each and every word clearly “You break my girl’s heart or do anything she doesn’t want to do, I’ll hunt you down and hang your pretty face above my fireplace. You understand what I’m saying?”
“Yeah, Mob boss” I nodded “I get what you’re saying”
“Good” she released me and walked out of the office “Glad everyone’s on the same page”
“Jesus” Madi leaned on the desk and hid her face in her hands “She’s so extra”
I laughed and pulled her hands away from her face.
“Who knew little Nikki could be such a gangster?” I snickered, dragging her out of the office and towards the front of the Diner.
Madi groaned “I’m so sorry”
“For what?” I asked “For having an amazing friend who would be willing to commit murder for you?”
She peeked at me “You’re not mad?”
“Why would I be mad?” I gave her a confused look.
“Most guys wouldn’t have like that scene” she said softly, adverting her eyes “My ex would have thrown a fit”
I gave her a soft smile.
“The thing about me is...” I kissed her knuckles “I’m not like most guys”
Her eyes softened and she was about to say something when Markos let out a loud squeal.
“Duty calls” she said and I released her hands.
“Of course” I smiled “I just wanted to know if you needed a ride or if you were going to follow me to the Cabin?”
She bit her lip and my Wolf growled.
“MATE! MATE! MATE!" He chanted over and over in my head, giving me a headache.
‘Now is not the time!!!’ I growled, trying to settle him down.
He growled but otherwise remained fairly quiet enough so that we can communicate with our Mate.
“If you don’t mind...” she started, avoiding my gaze “We’re probably going to need a ride considering that we don’t have a car”
I gaped at her and she blushed crimson “You don’t have a car?”
She shook her head.
“I sold it after I found out I was pregnant” she said quietly “New York was too expensive and I didn’t really have a use for it”
I shook my head and gave her a smile “Say no more”
Markos started crying this time and Madi gave me a lopsided smile.
“Let me just change his diaper real quick and then we can go” she said, speed walking to where Lorelei held baby Markos.
“Do you need help?”
Her tennis squeaked to a stop and she pivoted her body, gaping at me like I just told her I was an alien.
“You want to help me change a diaper?” she asked, her eyes widening by the minute.
“Yes...” I said, squirming when she continued to stare at me like I was a freak “Why? Was I not supposed to ask that?”
“It’s a dirty diaper” she clarified and I raised an eyebrow “Most likely filled with poop”
“I would hope so considering the little guy’s smell and how angry red his face is”
“And you’re not grossed out?”
“Why would I be?” I questioned “Everybody poops”
“Yeah” she said “But not everyone is willing to help change a baby’s stinky diaper”
“How many times do I have to tell you shorty” I tapped her nose gently and she smile “I’m not like everyone else”
“So how’d you learn to be so good at handling babies?” Madi asked when we finally set off toward the cabin.
I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and gave her a sideways glance.
“My sister and her husband have been trying to conceive for a while now” I said “When I found out that I was going to be a future Uncle in the making, I kind of got too excited and over researched everything there was to know about babies”
I gave her a sheepish smile and she giggled.
“So no news yet?” she asked, referring to Kassi and Rhy’s baby process “They haven’t made you an uncle yet?”
My smiled dimmed and I cleared my throat.
“Almost,” I said softly, pain lacing my voice “Kassi lost the baby a few weeks after she found out she was pregnant”
“Oh Ares” Madi whispered “I am so sorry”
So was I.
Not because I couldn’t be an uncle but because of the pain it caused Kassi. Seeing her go from radiating happiness to oozing sadness in the blink of an eye really killed me. She was the strongest and most selfless person I knew and it wasn’t fair that the one thing she wanted more than anything in the whole world was taken away from her. She was my big sister, my protector, and it killed me to feel like a helpless and weak nine year old again. It killed me to think that I couldn’t protect or be there for her like she was for me.
There was an awkward stretch of silence before Madison spoke up again.
“And your brother?” she asked, unsure of herself.
I gripped the steering wheel, nearly growling when I recalled the last conversation I had with my brother.
“Why are you doing this to them?” Orion growled, slamming open my bedroom door “Why are you leaving?”
I glanced at him for a second before I resumed my packing.
“Well hello to you too” I muttered “For what do I owe this pleasant surprise?”
“You know exactly why!” he growled.
“You’re like a ten and I need you to come down to a one” I said, reaching from another pair of jeans and throwing it into my suitcase “Besides, they’re all for the idea”
“To your face they’re for the idea” he snarled “But behind your back? They’re crying their eyes out”
“Look,” I sighed, sick of having this conversation with him “It’s my decision to leave and that’s final. I’m sick of you throwing these guilt trips around every time we’re in the same room”
“Just don’t leave” he pleaded, dropping the tough guy act for a second “Just stay here and...”
I shot him a glare.
“If you say take over for Kassi, I will throw you out the window” I growled.
“Just for a little bit” he reasoned “Her and Rhys are trying to start a family. Just take over long enough for...”
“No” I said “Now get out”
“Ares...” Orion sighed “Please reconsider”
“If it’s so important to you” I said, grabbing a pile of shirts from my closet “Then why don’t you take over?”
“I....” he paused “Can’t”
I let out a bitter laugh “Can’t or Won’t?”
“No,” I growled “I’m sick and tired of you thinking you can boss me around and make me drop whatever I’m doing for ‘The good of the family’. It was cute when I was ten but not so much anymore”
“Just reconsider...” he said, sounding like a broken record.
I cut him off “Sell it to me”
“Sell it to me” I said, giving him a look “Give me one good reason why I should stay”
“Because...” he sighed in defeat “If you leave, you’ll get hurt...”
“Still treating me like the helpless little boy you first met” I gave him a bitter laugh and nodded to the door “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”
“He’s fine” I said through gritted teeth.
Madison glanced at me and I thanked God that she decided not to pursue the topic.