Chapter 1: Fear
Kaya’s hands reached across the bed, tapping as if she was looking for something—or someone. The loud flush came from the bathroom making her opening her eyes. Her elbows planted on the mattress as she supported her upper half body up. Jaxon came out of the bathroom, holding a white shirt.
“Is that—” she pointed to the red color on the shirt. “—blood?”
He shrugged his shoulders before stuffing the shirt into a plastic bag. Kaya came out of the bed. She understood his way of life. He hadn’t returned to his pack just yet even though it had been nearly half a year since he proposed to her. Kaya decided to move out of the Council’s land with Camilla because Jaxon felt he was still guilty for the things that happened to his pack during his ruling.
“Jaxon, we’ve talked about this,” Kaya said softly, pinching the bridge of her nose.
He grabbed the beer from the coffee table and sat down on the single-seater. “I’ve told you what I’m doing with my life.”
“Killing people every night?”
“Bad people.” He corrected her.
Everyone thought it was a good thing to be an Alpha’s mate—or a former Alpha. He was strong and capable. He knew the meaning of responsibility and risked his own life to protect his people. But, what they didn’t know was the cost of those things. Kaya wasn’t the only one who felt like she was missing her fiancé—mate in the pack. Every woman who wasn’t part of the Enforcers had to watch their mate walked out the door for Goddess knew how long. There would be no news about their whereabouts whenever their presence was required by the Alpha. Whenever there was news, it could be either bad or good. The good; they’ve accomplished their mission and come home safely. The bad; they KIA.
She nodded her head in sarcasm. “Right, bad people. What if Camilla saw you walked in with blood staining your clothes?”
“She’s asleep every time I come home.”
He got up from the single-seater and walked out of the room. Kaya followed him out of the room as he headed to the kitchen to grab more beers. The past few months, Jaxon spent his time on the street, back alley, illegal fight, nightclubs, and everything trying to catch the bad guys before they could harm others. He accepted contracts to hunt rogues from Jonathan Grover just the same way he contracted Mira during her Lone Wolf time.
Jaxon’s phone rang in his jeans. He took it out and answered it. “Jaxon.”
“A new contract just came up.” Grover’s voice came from the other end. “Stop by the club if you wish.”
“Maybe in the morning.”
He ended the call just to have Kaya snatched the phone away from him. “You’re leaving again, aren’t you?”
“Why is it hard for you to stay more than eight hours a day? The only time you come home is to sleep. Then, you’d be gone by the morning until very late at night. Come home with blood-stained clothes or bruises.”
“How many times are we going to talk about this?” Jaxon argued. “I do what I do best. People out there are harmed and nobody helps them if I don’t.”
“Your duty is to your pack—your family. You’ve abandoned that duty a year ago when you came to search for me.” Kaya sighed, putting her hands on his. “It’s not your duty to save and protect everyone.”
Jaxon changed drastically for the past few months. Not just the past few months. His parents had told Kaya that Jaxon had changed since a tragedy happened in the pack which led him to leave the pack. But, they never told her the details of the tragedy as it wasn’t their secret to speak of. Kaya knew it must have something to do with the picture of a woman inside Jaxon’s jacket that he always kept there.
“Is this about Zia Ashton?”
The beer bottle in Jaxon’s hand shattered. Without a word but a hardened expression, he dropped the remaining glass pieces to the sink. He washed his bleeding hand before it healed completely.
“It is, isn’t it?” Kaya questioned again. “You just couldn’t let go. She’s gone. How long are you going to hold onto that?”
“Stop it, Kaya.”
Jaxon and Kaya snapped their heads to the direction of the stairs. Camilla was holding her pink teddy bear as she stood close to the frameless door. Kaya let out a disappointed sigh before walking to Camilla.
“You had a bad dream, baby?” she asked her daughter.
“Y-Yes,” Camilla nodded.
Kaya brought Camilla back to her room while Jaxon cleaned up the mess he did. It was easy for everyone telling him to let go of the one thing that kept his sanity intact. What they didn't know was that her blood was on his hands. He sent her back to Joshua. She killed herself to protect whatever it was left standing in Jaxon’s life.
The morning came fast. Jaxon spent his night sitting in the living room while staring at the ignited fireplace and a bottle of beer in his hand. He knew, sooner or later, he would lose everything he had right now. Kaya already began to question her position in his life—the importance of having a family because obviously, Jaxon was no longer looked like he wanted it.
Yes, he did propose to her. But, did he truly mean it? He left her and Camilla almost every day. Kaya was right. He only came home to sleep—that if he slept at all. Sometimes, he stayed awake all night. He got up from the chair when he heard the sound of the shower coming from the second floor. He went to the kitchen and opened the fridge, thinking he could prepare breakfast for the three of them.
He put two slices of bread into the toaster before frying some eggs. Ten minutes later, Kaya and Camilla came from upstairs. They all seated at the dining table—eating their breakfast in silence. After Camilla was done with her breakfast, she went upstairs again to brush her teeth and packing her school bag. Kaya washed the dishes while Jaxon watched her from behind.
"About last night…" he started carefully.
He knew he was at fault here for not being at home enough to spend time with the people he loved. He screwed up big time.
Kaya spun around, wiping her wet hands with the towel on the kitchen island. Then, she took something from her jeans pocket. This time it wasn't just about the job he had chosen. He left his pack without a true Alpha. Seth wanted her to persuade Jaxon to come back to his pack but Jaxon rather choosing to do his duty as a werewolf without a pack. He wasn't a rogue. He just didn't have a pack. If he wanted to help those people, he could do it while being an Alpha of his pack. From there, he could lean on his Enforcers. They would back him up on everything. Why he had to do everything on his own when he had people around him ready to share the burden?
She placed their engagement ring on the kitchen island. "You have to make a choice, Jaxon. You could go on all alone or you could do it with us and your pack."
"Kaya, please don't do this."
"You told me once that everyone has choices. I'm giving you one. If I come home tonight and you're not here, then I know what you've chosen." she picked her handbag and coat from the chair. "Camilla, come on. We'll be late."
Kaya still worked in the cafeteria of the Council even though Jaxon told her not to anymore. For her, she was already used to working life. Camilla would be at school all day. There would be no one else accompanying Kaya at home if she didn't go to work. She always wanted to surround herself with people. At least, that didn't make her feel all alone when Jaxon was out there hunting. She knew she was selfish for doing that to him but she wanted an assurance that he wanted her in his life not because he felt pity for her and her daughter but because he loved them. For the past few months Jaxon had made her feel like he only wanted her to stay because he was afraid to be all alone without her. He stopped taking her to date or doing the groceries together. He stopped being the man he had promised her to be. He dived deeper into hunting. He spent his waking time hunting people. He missed Camilla's ballet event. Kaya felt sad that Camilla was disappointed when Jaxon didn't come to see Camilla's first performance as the main ballerina in the team.
At the cafeteria, Kaya forgot everything else and just focused on going through her work as best as she could. Every day the Enforcer greeted her with respect. The Alpha and Luna from allied pack talked to her like they've known each other for ages. Everyone treated her just as equal as everyone else. Nobody looked down on each other. After school, Camilla spent the remaining day hours in the training room with Colin and several other witches to train her power and how to control it.
At six in the evening, the night shift team took over the cafeteria while Kaya and her day team went home. Camilla already fell asleep at the back seat as she was too tired from the training. By the time they reached the driveway, Kaya's heart broke into a million pieces.
Jaxon's truck was not in the driveway and the house was in the dark. It looked like he chose to go all alone rather than sharing the burden with everyone else. Kaya knew she couldn’t keep Jaxon grounded. Not even marriage could do so. That was she afraid of.
His absence from her life. His absence Camilla’s life.
What if Kaya agreed to marry him right after he proposed? He’d probably still doing what he was doing right now.
An hour later, Kaya just spent her time sitting in the living room while holding a photo of her and Jaxon. Life was hard after her husband passed away and Camilla was in ‘coma’. Then, Jaxon came along. Kaya thought this was it—her happy ending. But, it wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be.
They had their fair share of fights. Mainly because of Jaxon’s choice of profession right now. She didn’t have a problem with it actually. The only problem she had was that he was always gone. He was barely at home. Sleeping was the only thing he did at home. He stopped spending time with them.
Her phone buzzed on the glass table. She saw his name popped on the screen. As much as she hated him, she loved him.
“Jaxon…” she called his name as soon as she answered the call.
“It’s Winston,” another voice answered.
Kaya shifted on the sofa, feeling uneasy. “Winston, where’s Jaxon? Is everything okay?”
“No, nothing is okay. I need your help.”
Without another word, Kaya ended the call and dialed another number. Colin came to the house to babysit Camilla while she was gone to the address that Winston had sent to her. It took her about half an hour to reach there. The number of black SUVs parked on the driveway indicating the Council had interfered in whatever was going on there. Few Enforcers rolled out five stretchers out of the house. Each carried a filled body bag. Winston was speaking to his brother, Dalton, quietly somewhere. His eyes found her and quickly signaling the Enforcers to let her enter.
“What’s going on?” she asked the Forest brothers.
“Whatever you see inside the house, don’t mind it. What I need is you to talk to Jaxon. He’s not entirely himself right now but he’s harmless to you,” Winston replied.
Kaya nodded. Winston escorted her to the house. The moment she stepped inside, she gasped. Blood—and probably mixed with flesh were on the walls. The place looked a gruesome slaughterhouse. There were more bodies lying on the floor but were covered by white fabric. Winston brought her to the basement. Even the blood was flowing down the stairs. There were five Enforcers guarding the basement as if something monstrous would break out.
One of them opened the door, Kaya’s heart dropped at the sight of Jaxon. He was covered in blood from head to toes. In his arms was a young boy. Jaxon seemed to refuse letting the young boy go.
“We were put into a secret mission to retrieve a young rogue pup from vampires after he went missing six months ago. They hurt the boy. Jaxon went berserk,” Winston explained to her quietly. "Persuade him to let the boy go so that we could bring him to the hospital."
Kaya nodded in understanding. Maybe she was wrong in many things. Jaxon was good in everything he did. He was out here protecting those who couldn't protect themselves but he didn't have to do it alone.
"Jaxon…" she approached him carefully. "Jaxon, you have to let them take him to the hospital."
"They're still out there. They won't stop looking." His voice held so much fear for the boy he was protecting.
"No, it's over. You've protected him. You've done your job. He needs medical attention." she placed her hand on his cheek. "Baby, he's hurt."
Reluctantly Jaxon let go of the young boy. Winston takes the boy to the medic while Kaya stays in the basement with her fiance.
"Hey, I'm sorry for not trusting you enough." she places her hand on his bruised cheek that started to heal.
"It's all my fault. If I talk to you about everything, this wouldn't—"
"Baby, I understand how much you need this profession but you don't have to do it all alone. You have me. I can do certain things with technology." She gets up from the floor and walks to the nearest IT boy whose busy hacking the cameras in the area. "You say they're still out there, yeah?" Kaya takes over the computer, flexes her fingers before typing furiously on the keyboard. She presses enter at the end of it. "Let's see."
Several videos appear on the screen, highlighting the vehicles used by the enemies to come here. Kaya reversed tracking the vehicles from where they came from. Turned out, it came from a warehouse, an hour from where they currently are.
"I'd say twenty guys in there," she said after using the thermal images.
Jaxon looks as amazed as ever before thanking her with a kiss and heads out with the assault team. Teamwork is better than a Lone Wolf.
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