Chapter 14: Family
Hunter walked up the fleet of stairs towards Gabriel’s room with a smile on his face and the box of cookies Hailey had prepared for him in his hand. Before he even opened the door, he clearly heard the boisterous crowd that had gathered right on time.
The moment he entered the first thing everyone noticed was the box in his hands. He rolled his eyes and set the container on the square table between the couches. “Hailey made us sugar cookies,” he explained.
“She is spoiling us,” remarked Vincent as he reached for the cookie that would complement his cup of black coffee perfectly.
They didn’t even realize when Azura took three cookies and had wandered back to her seat, her feral sharp eyes were entirely focused on the sugary cookies that smelt divine. River and Ryder helped themselves and they all enjoyed their morning coffee with soft cookies that melted in their mouth.
“Save me one,” said Gabriel interrupting his phone call midway just to remind them before he went back.
Hunter grabbed the coffee pot that was freshly brewed because Gabriel knew that they’d all meet in his room, even though they had an office. He grabbed the red mug with a secret grin and poured himself a refreshing cup of caffeine, even though he didn’t need its help to wake up. He was perfect this morning, nothing could beat this sensation he felt in his heart and soul. Hunter and his wolf were both contempt and calm. He enjoyed the light breeze and the chirping birds; this deep feeling was what he was missing all his life.
“You seem different,” said Azura. Her silvery eyes never missed anything, just like her wolf.
Vincent grinned over his cup. “Our brother has mated,” his smile was genuine. Vincent got to his feet and approached Hunter. His hazel eyes that looked greener under the sun smiled at Hunter. “I’m so happy for you,” he said. Azura, Ryder and River proudly patted Hunter’s back and congratulated him.
Vincent’s deep gaze held his focus. “I was beginning to believe that finding a mate wasn’t possible for people like us,” he said. “But you proved me wrong.”
“Whenever have I not,” remarked Hunter and they laughed.
Although, they had smiles they all understood what Vincent spoke about. It was the truth, people like them couldn’t find mates without the fear of losing them. The Centauri pack had many enemies and for the longest time Hunter believed that it would be safer to just be alone, out of all of them Gabriel and Hunter believed that the most. However, all that changed for him when he woke up this morning with Hailey by his side. It was a remarkable flutter in his heart that even being apart from her it wouldn’t stop.
Although, his brother Gabriel didn’t trust that his life was safe enough for a mate, with a target always on his back he gave up the chance of ever finding a mate, but he always hoped that his siblings would find love. He made sure that no enemy would pass his iron defences that would hurt his family. He was the one that encouraged Hunter to mate with Hailey last night. After the run, they had returned home and Gabriel told Hunter that he should claim his mate. Hunter had revealed his fear of the life they lead, and all Gabriel had told him was that protecting the pack was the alpha’s responsibility. Of course, Hunter disagreed and made sure that Gabriel knew that Hunter was always on his side.
“I do not stand behind my wolves,” he had said. “I was born and built to be at the front lines to protect you.”
“Brother…” said Hunter.
“Mate with your Hailey,” he said and those golden eyes were still his wolf’s. “And bring her to the family. I think it’s time that our family grew.”
Hunter laid his hand on his brother’s shoulder that was always tall and sturdy. “It means a lot to me that you said that.” Gabriel didn’t show it but his eyes spoke his proud mood for Hunter.
Hunter ran out of their house in the rain- that felt like a sign from Maya that this bond was destined to be. He didn’t hesitate after that, he was in front of Hailey’s door in seconds and she had accepted him even faster. The night had passed and now here they were in Gabriel’s room congratulating him.
Gabriel shut his phone and turned his attention towards Hunter. It made him slightly nervous but he was sure that his brother would be happy for him; his smile proved it. “I’m glad you listened to my advice from last night,” he said. “The mating suits you.”
Hunter moved around the room and hugged Gabriel, which surprised everyone in the room. These two were the least likely to hug anyone. Gabriel was caught off guard too and for a moment he didn’t know how to respond, but eventually he put his arms around his brother.
“Should I get a box of tissues out,” Ryder said. “I feel like I’m in some soap opera.”
Vincent laughed with Ryder. “Did anyone let our siblings at the Institute know?” he asked as he pulled out his phone.
“Not yet,” said Hunter, he was sure that Viola and Klaus would find out from Hailey. Gabriel took a seat on the couch and grabbed the last remaining cookies.
“We should celebrate,” said Ryder. “It’s not every day a man finds himself a mate.”
“I was already planning on inviting Hailey for dinner,” said Gabriel. “Should we invite the entire pack too?”
“And scare the poor girl,” remarked Azura from the stool. “She just newly mated, give her some time to settle in. Throwing her in the middle of our crazy pack wolves isn’t the best approach to making her feel welcomed.”
Azura had a point, thought Hunter.
“Invite her for dinner first then,” River advised Gabriel. “That way it’s a polite gesture and it won’t overwhelm her.”
Vincent laughed from the couch as he slipped his phone back in his pocket. “If none of you have ever dated before, why are you giving the poor man advice?” he remarked and then turned to his brother. “Did you even take Hailey out on a date?” he asked Hunter.
“A date?” puzzled Hunter.
“Yes, brother, a date,” Vincent said. “Take her out somewhere nice, and only then, will it be proper to bring her over for dinner.”
“You continue to surprise me,” Ryder praised Vincent. “How do you do it?”
“It’s a gift,” answered Vincent smugly.
“A date,” Hunter contemplated his brother’s idea. “Where should I take her?”
“You could take her to Bobby’s restaurant,” Azura pitched in.
“I love Bobby’s place,” said Gabriel. “No one cooks like that man.”
“Bobby’s restaurant?” asked River. “That’s an hour away from our territory. It’s not safe-”
“Bobby’s place is open tonight, right?” Hunter interrupted River.
“Yeah. But his place is super packed nowadays,” said Vincent. “It might be hard to reserve a table this late.”
“Don’t worry about that. Bobby always leaves me a table,” said Gabriel. “I’ll give him a call and let him know you’ll need it.”
“Thanks,” said Hunter.
River grumbled a curse under his breath. “I can’t have a Centauri idly walking around Queen’s street.”
“It’ll be fine, River,” said Hunter. “I can take care of myself.”
“That’s not going to happen on my watch,” said River and he meant it. “I will have to deploy a team with you.”
“River,” Hunter called out but River was too far in his head planning safety measures. He didn’t interrupt him because he knew that River wasn’t going to take the chance with Hunter’s life or Hailey’s.
Their meeting continued with Azura and River filling in Gabriel about the basic weekly report of how the pack was running smoothly and without any troubles. Hunter didn’t hear anything new in their conversation, so he drifted into his thoughts and wondered when he should ask Hailey out on a date. But before that, he thought of another idea.
“Do any of you know where I can buy a heater?” he asked his team, and as usual, they were always full of ideas.
Hailey looked at the clock, the hands had reached twelve o’clock sharp. She thought this was the best time to give her class a short break to enjoy the cookies she brought for them.
All the kids were sitting next to their friends working on their journals. She thought it would be nice to let them write down how they felt whilst transforming into their wolves. And that way, Hailey could also find out if any of them were uncomfortable or scared of anything.
“Class,” she called out for everyone’s attention and they instantly silenced and turned their attention to her. Oddly, she has been getting this type of cooperative behaviour all day. When Hailey had arrived this morning, they were orderly lined up against the door patiently waiting for her. She was quite taken aback because they would usually be running around before she would arrive. They followed her instructions and she had almost thought she walked into the wrong class.
“Let’s return back to our seats. I have a surprise for all of you today.” Their big round eyes glimmered and their lips turned into big smiles because they knew that a ‘surprise’ from their teacher always meant a delicious treat. They quickly ran to their seats and tucked the spare chairs away. “Do you recall the day we had transformation class and our alpha visited us?” she asked.
They replied with a boastful ‘yes’.
“Well, I got a phone call from our alpha after he dropped you all off,” she said their small faces grew concerned, they looked around to each other’s faces. “And he told me that all of you behaved perfectly.” They sighed in relief and she chuckled. “So, for being on your best behaviour,” she announced, “I brought you all a treat.” She went around her table and pulled out the Tupperware full of sugar cookies.
“Thank you, Ms. Swan!” they all shouted together.
Hailey grabbed the napkins she snatched from the staff room earlier. “Thank you,” she said. “For being so respectful and kind to Gabriel. You kids made me proud and you deserve this treat today. So, let’s enjoy the cookies and maybe I can put a movie on.”
“Alpha Gabriel told us something that day,” said Andrew.
Hailey looked at her student puzzled. “What did he say?” she asked the small boy.
“He told us that he never disrespected his teachers,” he said. “And that was one of the reasons he became an alpha.”
“Really?” asked Hailey.
“He even said that he always behaved in class,” said Zander- the rowdiest kid in her class along with his brother Griffin.
“We didn’t believe him,” said Griffin. “But then, he said it was true.”
Now Hailey understood why her class was so well-behaved all morning. Gabriel went out of his way to speak to them personally, he truly was remarkable. “Thank you for telling me,” she said. “Now, why don’t I get that movie started for all of you honourable pups,” she teased and they chuckled.
Gwen and Lily offered to hand out the napkins as Hailey turned on the projector and put on the only movie she had on her, which was her all-time favourite; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. She quickly gave each student two cookies (a blue and a pink) and then turned the lights off when the opening of the movie began. No matter how old she got, that iconic melody never got boring. She closed the curtains and found herself immersed into the movie like her class.
She diligently watched the part where Dumbledore arrived at the Dursley’s doorstep with Professor McGonagall, when her eyes went to the small window on her own door, she spotted Viola and Klaus hovering near the clear glass.
She quietly creeped around the desks and made sure not to disturb the kids. She opened the door and the white light from the hallway spilled inside the dark classroom. Hailey closed the door behind her as she stepped into the hallway.
“Is everything alright?” she asked them, when suddenly, she was swinging around in Viola’s arms.
“I’m so happy!” Viola exclaimed. “I’ve always wanted to have a sister.”
“Hold on,” Hailey chuckled and looked at the siblings. “What are you talking about?”
“We know about the mating,” said Klaus. “And we thought we’d come here and congratulate you.”
“Thanks,” she said but she was still very confused. “When’d you find out?”
“A little while ago,” said Viola. “Vincent texted all of us in our group chat.”
“Group chat,” mumbled Hailey. “So, everyone knows now?”
“Pretty much,” said Klaus. “Don’t be nervous though.”
Hailey couldn’t help but feel extremely nervous. She was just starting to get used to having a mate, and if that alone wasn’t overwhelming, that mate also came with a very large and intimidating family. Not only has she never done this before, but she didn’t have any clue on how to conduct herself. She had no one to tell her what to do or what not to do when joining a new family.
Suddenly, Klaus laid a hand on her hand. “Don’t be nervous,” he smiled and gazed into her eyes just like how Gabriel did when he promised her that the pups were safe with him. “We’ve got you.”
The butterflies in Hailey’s stomach slowed. As she stared into the eyes of these two siblings she remembered what her class had just told her about Gabriel. She had nothing to worry about because Hunter’s family were built up of a group of remarkable wolves. They had untouchable honour and she should be happy that they had considered her worthy to join their loyal family.
“Thank you,” that’s all she could say to them, and it wasn’t enough, it would never be enough.
Klaus looked at Viola baffled. “Do you feel that?” he asked.
“Yes,” Viola answered, but Hailey didn’t know what they were talking about. “Our wolves have shared the bond with you, Hailey.”
“What does that mean?” she asked Viola and Klaus.
“It’s means-” Viola put her hands on her waist and grinned- “Welcome to the family.”