Chapter 18: Us
“Be careful,” scolded Klaus.
“Klaus, stop hovering over me like a bee,” rebuked Hailey.
“I wouldn’t have to if you’d just listen,” reprimanded Klaus.
Hailey rolled her eyes. “I’m perfectly fine, Klaus,” she said as she got up from the bed and walked towards the washroom to freshen up.
She had woken up a couple of hours ago and Dr. Stone had permitted for her to go home. Hunter brought Hailey a change of clothes, which she was thankful for because she felt too sluggish to be in a dress. But all morning up until the noon, Klaus and Hunter have been pestering her to stay off her feet or eat, basically anything she was doing they had to make some type of comment. She had grown sick of it and had thrown Hunter out to go get the car, but Klaus stubbornly stuck to her side all day even during the tests.
When she exited the washroom, Klaus came around and grabbed the bag from her hand. He passed her the bottled water and told her to sit down when the door opened and Hunter strode inside.
“The car’s here,” he said. “Azura’s waiting outside.” He walked up to her with concern in his amber eyes. “Do you think you can walk?”
“I broke my wrist Hunter, not my foot,” said Hailey. “You two are driving me insane.”
“Get all the stuff in the car,” Hunter told Klaus and he followed through the simple order.
Hailey felt an odd rush being alone with Hunter all of a sudden. He moved around the room with the control he emitted that was undeniably powerful. She twisted her hands together and tried to distract herself from his heavy presence.
“The car’s parked behind the hospital in the private sector,” said Hunter. He opened the curtain and looked down the twelve floors. He came around to her and removed the scarf from around his neck and wrapped it over her neck. “It’s cold outside,” he said softly. “Get straight into the car when we reach outside, okay.”
Hailey nodded. “Okay.”
Hunter kissed her forehead and then he laced his hand into hers. He shortened his strides to match hers as he led her down the remote hallways of the hospital. She was surprised that they not only had their own VIP rooms in the hospital, but also their own private parking area and helipad location. Dr. Stone and her team worked for Gabriel at hospital because they were werewolves themselves, so it saved all of the explaining.
They had reached the last pair of double doors and a black car stood right in the front. Hunter opened the door and she quickly got in the car like he had instructed earlier. He followed behind her and closed the door. She heard the locks click in place and the ignition was already turned on. Azura sat in the driver’s seat with Klaus riding shotgun, she wondered where Lupin went off to or if he already returned home.
Hailey felt the sudden tension in the air and she pondered if it was because the last time they were all out they had been tailed by strangers.
“Lupin scoped the area and he will be following closely behind us,” Azura told Hunter.
Hunter’s stern eyes met Azura’s gaze through the rear-view mirror. “I don’t want any mistakes.”
Azura nodded and she positioned the gear shifter to drive.
Hailey’s nerves didn’t settle, until they had left the crowded highways and they had entered the forest trails away from the buildings and rushing cars. She looked down at the thin cast around her wrist and realized how dangerous last night could have gotten. She could have broken her neck or even worse Klaus could have gotten hurt…all because of her. Again. How many people was she going to hurt all because she didn’t listen. Her heart weighed down like an anchor that pulled her down to the darkest depths of her guilt she carried for a very long time. The dread swallowed her whole and she choked up just remembering her past all over again.
Hailey looked over to Hunter who was busy texting away on his phone. Klaus was looking out the window and Azura was carefully driving with Lupin closely behind them. She caused them all so much trouble. The last thing she ever wanted was to be a nuisance to anyone and here she was bothering the ultimate pack leaders. She could not have messed up more, if she had just stayed quiet maybe she would not be in this mess.
Hailey’s gaze turned over to Klaus who looked severely serious watching the forestry rush by them, and then it dawned on her, she didn’t but in because she was nosy; she interfered because she needed to help Klaus, the same Centauri who took a chance on her and hired her in the first place. She didn’t have that weight on her heart anymore, she felt grateful that if anyone got hurt it was her because Hailey knew that she and her wolf could tackle any injury. No one else should be injured or hurt because of her.
The property came to sight as she finally was able to sigh in relief. The gates automatically opened when they saw Azura’s face after she rolled down the window. Both of the cars entered and the gates closed and locked once again.
“Everyone’s waiting at the house,” said Azura as Lupin appeared from the second car.
“I should probably head to my cabin,” said Hailey as she noticed them all walking towards the Centauri manor.
They all exchanged an odd look, she wondered if she had said something strange. “Is something wrong?” she asked, interrupting their odd glances towards one another.
“No,” said Klaus.
“I’ll come with you,” said Hunter quickly surprising her. “But I need to grab some things from the house, can you just come with me first?”
“Oh, okay,” said Hailey. She followed them but she really felt like going to her own cabin. She needed to be alone and with her wolf. Hailey was suddenly pushed to the front of them all and she found herself standing next to Hunter.
Hunter opened the double doors with a grin.
Hailey gave him a puzzled expression. “What’s wrong?”
Suddenly, her ears filled with loud pops and rainbow confetti fell around her. “Surprise!”
Hailey stood in front of Viola who was holding a strawberry cake with ‘welcome home’ written on it. Vincent, River and Ryder were holding the confetti cannons. And Gabriel was behind them but his presence was felt the most to her.
“It’s a cake,” she mumbled, “for me?”
“It was my idea,” said Hunter proudly as he joined his siblings. “Lupin, Viola and Vincent got the cake; River and Ryder got the balloons and those confetti things; Gabriel paid for everything.”
“We chose the Strawberry Funfetti cake with strawberry buttercream,” said Azura heartily. “It’s my favourite and I know for a fact that you’ll love it.”
“And the hardest to find,” grumbled Vincent.
“I gave you the bakery’s number though,” said Azura.
“They were closed,” retorted Vincent.
Azura raked her hair. “That’s not my fault.”
Hailey lost herself from the words on the cake. She has never been welcomed home before like this; a surprise with a cake just for her was foreign. A group of people waited for her to return and join them again, they thought of her even though she caused them so much trouble.
Is this what family feels like? wondered Hailey silently. She missed out on so much from being closed off from everything. Before Hailey could hold back, hot fat tears poured down her face in front of everyone.
“What the hell?” asked Azura. “Did we fuck up?”
“Damn, we must have,” said Lupin.
“Is it the cake?” asked Viola.
“I had a feeling we should have gotten the triple chocolate,” said Gabriel.
“I don’t think it’s the cake guys,” said River.
Hunter was even more surprised than everyone else. He would have thought that this surprise party would have made Hailey happy, not sad and into tears. When they all looked to Hunter he asked Hailey; “Why are you crying?”
“I’m just really happy,” she sobbed.
They all sighed in relief.
“Goddamn it, you scared us woman,” said Ryder.
“I’m sorry I caused all of you so much trouble,” sobbed Hailey. “I didn’t mean to.”
Suddenly, she was swept up in an embrace. She opened her wet eyes and found herself in Hunter’s arms. Her tears soaked his shirt as he held her close. His support slowly became a pillar for her to lean on. “It was no trouble,” he whispered. “You’re family. And you always have been.” Hailey buried herself in his arms and she cried harder.
“I think this calls for a group hug,” said Viola.
“Ew, no,” said River. “I rather not get in the middle of all you and be squished.”
“Oh, don’t be a spoilsport,” remarked Vincent as he pulled River in and they all threw themselves around Hunter and Hailey. It was getting hard to cry with all of their bickering, she felt her tears dry up but she didn’t pull away from Hunter. She held him tighter and breathed in his dark pine scent and his cologne that was becoming her favourite.
They all let go at the same time. “Let’s cut this cake,” said Azura. “And I swear, I better get the biggest piece.”
“Should we open the bottle of champagne too?” asked Klaus.
“Get the chilled one,” said Viola. “It’ll taste better.” They all left the foyer leaving Hunter and Hailey alone.
“I didn’t make you out to be a crier,” said Hunter teasingly.
“An ugly crier,” said Hailey embarrassingly.
Hunter chuckled. “I don’t think anyone is a pretty crier,” he wiped her cheeks and looked into her eyes. “Why the tears, baby?”
“I’m sorry I caused you so much trouble,” she said again. “I worried all of you.”
“You sure did,” said Hunter eagerly. “Never put yourself in harm’s way again, Hailey. I mean it.” Hailey nodded but didn’t promise. Hunter leaned down and kissed her lips. “Don’t cry either, I don’t like it.”
Klaus popped his head from the kitchen. “Gabriel says to come eat some cake,” he conveyed quick message and left just as fast.
They joined everyone in the kitchen who were busy eating their cake slices with much gusto, and why wouldn’t they, the cake looked delicious and it was big enough to get seconds or thirds.
“Have a drink, Hailey,” offered Ryder.
Hunter grabbed the glass from Ryder. “She can’t drink alcohol yet,” he downed the champagne and put the glass down.
Hailey chuckled and grabbed the cake slice from Viola. “Thank you.”
Viola smiled with all her perfect teeth. “Thank you for being safe and back on your feet,” she said. “You scared us yesterday. And trust me when I say that, this bunch-” she gestured around her- “doesn’t scare easy.” Viola hugged Hailey, and then, she went to help Vincent and Ryder prepare for the impromptu barbecue for lunch, which was all Gabriel’s idea apparently. Azura and Lupin went with Klaus to get more food from the grocery store.
Hailey would have loved the idea if she wasn’t so drowsy as she enjoyed the slice of strawberry cake. She shuffled for her bag and took out the pills for the bump on her head, which was starting to throb terribly. A sharp jab pierced through the ride side of her head and travelled to the center of her eyes. She popped the pill in her mouth and realized she had no water. She couldn’t reach for the champagne for many reasons obviously.
“Here.” Surprisingly, Hunter stood beside her with a fresh glass of water.
She was amused by how meticulous he was for a wolf like him. “Thanks,” she grabbed the glass and swallowed the pill with the help of the cool liquid.
“Is your head hurting?” he asked with a clear frown creasing between his brows.
Hailey rubbed the side of her head that was badly bruised. “A little,” she lied. It hurt a lot.
“Everyone’s busy preparing for lunch,” Hunter said, “so let’s get you off your feet for a while.”
Hailey didn’t think it was appropriate leaving everyone when they had gathered for her. “I don’t think-”
Hunter raised a brow. “Upstairs. Now.”
Hailey trudged after Hunter as they went to his bedroom once again. But this time it felt different, it wasn’t so intense the last time she came over. Hunter opened the door and immediately went over to the closed windows. He opened all of them and made sure lots of fresh air cleansed the stuffiness in the room.
“Do you really think it’s okay for me to just leave everyone?” she asked Hunter.
“They know you’re still injured, Hailey,” he said simply and then he came back to her, which was where he left her; near the door. She hadn’t moved from the threshold because it was still unfamiliar to be in her mate’s room.
“It was a wonderful surprise,” said Hailey. “The cake and the balloons.”
Hunter smiled. “I’m glad you liked it.” Hunter moved her from the entrance and took her towards his bed. He didn’t rush her; for such an infamous beta known for being merciless and cold, he was being such a gentleman. He seated her on the bed and bent down to her feet. He unlaced her shoes and peeled off her sneakers. He put them on the side and then reached to remove the scarf he had wrapped around her.
“I can do it,” she said softly but Hunter didn’t pay head. He continued to do what he wished. He put his scarf on the table and moved to help her lay down. He lifted the duvet and laid her down carefully.
“Sleep, baby,” he whispered in her ear.
Hailey didn’t need to be told twice. The medicine was taking its course and blurring her vision. “Are you going to leave me alone here?” she asked. Her eyes were forcefully closing on her; the last thing she saw was Hunter’s broad silhouette.
“No,” he told her softly. “I’ll be right here. Next to you, so rest easily.”
Hailey wanted to talk to him more, but the darkness was too strong for her to fight off. She gave in and fell asleep with Hunter’s scent surrounding her from everywhere. But it was comforting as much as it was invigorating for her.