Chapter 26: Sweets and Wolf
The crowd of people at the banquet had grown. Hailey had been beside Hunter as he joined Gabriel with greeting everyone. Whenever things would start to heat up between some of them, Vincent was always ready to lighten the mood. Hailey understood right away that without Vincent, Hunter would probably box someone’s face if even the slightest disrespect was shown towards them.
“I need the restroom,” she whispered to Hunter.
“Do you need me to come with you?” Hunter asked her sternly.
“I can find my way to the powder-room just fine, Hunter,” she chuckled and went off.
Hailey navigated through the people. None of them paid any attention to her since they didn’t recognize her, which Hailey was immensely grateful for. She didn’t really like how people would just block Gabriel or Hunter from passing because they’d want a chance to talk to them. Although the boys handled it with finesse, she was sure they’d get annoyed at some point.
Hailey pushed the door to the restroom and thankfully it was empty. After she was done, she washed her hands and reached to fix her lipstick. Quickly, Hailey exited the restroom and made her way back, when she spotted the large display of desserts. She didn’t even think twice before making her way over, when suddenly, something bumped into her legs.
A voice barked up at her; “watch where you’re going!”
Hailey looked down to find a small kid who had knocked over. His fuming expression glared up at her with big blue eyes through his silky black hair. She knew right away that he was a transitioning wolf from his sweet, subtle scent that matched many of her students. Apart from his scowl, he was a cute kid and she wanted to squeeze his pouting cheeks, that still had some baby fat on them.
“Hi, I’m Hailey-” she bent down to him- “what’s your name?”
The boy seemed caught off guard by her. “Er- Dimitri,” he answered her.
Hailey grabbed a hold of his soft hand and got him to his feet. She dusted off the dirt on his prim suit, which was absolutely adorable on him. “Did you come here for some dessert?” she asked.
“I don’t eat sweets,” he crossed his arms and looked the other way, “because sweets are for kids.”
Hailey bit back her laugh because this boy reminded her of Zander from her class. “Really, I like them though,” she said. Hailey grabbed a small plate and put a big slice of triple-chocolate layer cake. She brought the plate down to the boy and his keen senses got a whiff of the deep cocoa. “Are you sure that you don’t want any?” Hailey saw his stark blue eyes turn into mush in front of the delicious treat.
“I guess I can have one bite,” he said as his eyes followed her cake and so did his hand.
Hailey chuckled. “I’ll get you plate, Dimitri.” She put a small slice for him, so he wouldn’t get an upset stomach before dinner. “Here-” he grabbed the plate and fork without any hesitation.
Abruptly, a group of people returned from the garden at the back. Hailey moved swiftly, she grabbed Dimitri who got busy with his slice of cake. He didn’t even realize that she had lifted him off the floor. Dimitri didn’t seem to mind to be in her arms, so she didn’t put him down until the crowd passed by them.
A young woman came running through the crowd also with a striking lavender gown. She had an alarmed and furious expression on her face, which told Hailey that she was definitely a mother. But from her copper brown hair and jade green eyes, she didn’t look anything like Dimitri.
“Dimitri!” Her eyes found her son and they landed on Hailey; she seemed sort of stunned. “He’s in your arms,” she astonished.
Hailey panicked. “I’m sorry. I’ll put him down right away.”
“No, that’s not what I meant,” she smiled kindly. “My son never likes it when people carry him like that.”
Hailey still put Dimitri down on his feet. “I just helped him get a slice of cake,” she told his mother. “And then the crowd of people from the garden came inside, so I didn’t want him getting trampled on.”
The woman laid a hand on her son’s head. “I’m sorry for casing you trouble,” she said. “Dimitri, what do we say to this nice woman?”
The side of Dimitri’s mouth that was dirty from eating the cake lifted into a smirk. “Thanks for the cake, Hailey,” he said cockily.
His mother’s eyes widened from her son’s brashness. “I’m sorry, I taught him better than that,” she fixed her son’s ruffled hair, but then Dimitri just tousled it back.
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it. I’m a pre-school teacher, so I can handle things like this perfectly fine,” Hailey said. “I’m Hailey,” she stuck her hand out to the woman.
“Hi, I’m Evangeline,” she shook Hailey’s hand gladly. “I’m from the-”
Evangeline was interrupted by a man who was extremely handsome. He had tousled black hair that was almost midnight blue. But his arresting eyes were baby-blue like the sky, which were sharply alert and very regal.
“This is my husband, Hailey,” said Evangeline. “Zachariah, this is Hailey. She helped me track this one-” she pointed to the kid who was reaching for another slice of cake.
Zachariah’s lips lifted into a charming grin. “Thank you for helping my wife, Hailey.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she said. Hailey looked down to Dimitri and found the resemblance uncanny that this young boy had with his father. She knew undoubtedly that Dimitri would grow up to be just as attractive as his father.
“Hailey,” she heard her name being called behind her; it was Hunter. “What took you so long?” Hailey didn’t have to answer for him to understand by the group she was with.
“Hunter,” Zachariah’s eyes brightened. “It’s been awhile.”
Hunter shook Zachariah’s outstretched hand. “It has. How’ve you been?” Hunter asked.
“You know how it is with this business, but I’m doing much better than most,” smirked Zachariah and looked at his wife.
Hunter wasn’t hostile or on guard, which surprised Hailey. Did he finally meet a friend? she wondered. “I hope you’ve been fine as well, Evangeline?” asked Hunter.
Evangeline smiled kindly. “I’m good,” she nudged Dimitri over. “Say ‘hi’ Dimitri.”
Dimitri’s blue eyes stared up at Hunter. “Who’s this guy?” he asked brusquely.
Hailey bit back her laughter as best she could, but she couldn’t help it, so she secretly chuckled on the side. Hailey patted Dimitri’s head. “He’s my mate, Dimitri. Won’t you say ‘hi’ to him? He’d love to meet you,” she told him and instantly Dimitri’s hostility dropped.
“Hello,” said Dimitri even though he was still standoffish. “I’m Dimitri North.” Hunter tousled his hair as a tease, which irked the boy.
Hailey recognized the last name almost immediately, she inwardly gasped and looked back at the couple that was busy talking to Hunter. This was the alpha of the CrimsonNorth pack, Zachariah North and his wife Evangeline North. She had just held the son of a pack alpha and fed him chocolate cake.
“Congratulations on finding a mate, Hunter,” said Zachariah; he sounded earnest and true.
“I am so happy for you,” said Evangeline. “Congrats to you too, Hailey.”
Hailey choked on her words. “Thank you.”
“Gabriel would like to meet you and the family, Zachariah,” said Hunter.
Zachariah’s grin turned into a smile. “Well, what are we waiting for?”
Hunter led the way for Zachariah. But Evangeline stayed beside Hailey as she got more cake. Dimitri asked for more too, but his mother stopped him. He pouted all the way back to the table where the Centauri’s were gathered.
Hailey sat on the chair after Evangeline and Zachariah got busy in the conversation with the rest of the group. Hailey got the impression they all knew each other for a very long time. She enjoyed her champagne and cake, when she was interrupted by Dimitri.
“Can I sit?” he asked her politely.
Hailey held it in, but she found this boy so cute. She grabbed him and positioned him on her lap. “There,” she said.
“I meant on the chair,” he rebuked, but he made no attempt to get off her lap.
Hailey enjoyed the boy’s spirit as they played with the flower petal scattered on the table. She was bouncing him on her legs, which even made him reveal his sweet smile and laugh freely, which even made her joke along with him.
Hailey lifted her head when she felt eyes on her, she wasn’t wrong with her intuition, because when she lifted her eyes, Hunter was watching her with his own warm smile- that made her heart skip a beat.
“I hate these parties,” grumbled Dimitri.
“Oh, they’re not so bad,” Hailey said. “You should make some new friends here.”
Dimitri looked behind him over to her with his big blue eyes. “Will you be my friend?” he asked so conspicuously.
Hailey gave in and she pinched Dimitri’s cheek. “You’re so cute,” she cooed. “Of course, I’ll be your friend.” Dimitri’s cheeks flushed into bright red and he ran off her lap and stuck to his father’s side, who easily lifted him off the floor.
“He’s seems smitten,” said Evangeline as she joined Hailey. “Dimitri rarely talks to strangers.” Evangeline pushed her curled copper hair behind her.
Hailey smile was sincere. “I work around kids a lot, so they trust me very easily,” she told Evangeline.
“I can tell,” believed Evangeline. “You’re very easy to talk to despite having such a badass mate.”
Hailey chuckled and couldn’t help but agree. “How long have you been mated to Zachariah?”
“Six years,” said Evangeline shyly.
Hailey’s heart fluttered. “How did you two meet?” she asked.
Evangeline looked over to her husband who was invested in a conversation with Gabriel and the rest of the guys. “I hired him to do a job for me,” she told Hailey. “A very dangerous job-” Hailey stiffened at Evangeline’s cool tone- “at the time he wasn’t alpha of the pack yet. So, I asked for his help and he gladly served.” Evangeline let out a brief laugh. “Sorry for killing the mood.”
“No, not at all. I was the one who asked,” said Hailey.
Dimitri returned to his mom’s side. “Mom, can we stay at this table?” he asked with a pout.
Evangeline grabbed her boy and put him on her lap. “No, we can’t,” she said. “We have our table and uncle Victor is waiting for us too, remember?”
Dimitri pulled on his blue tie. “Tell uncle to come here,” he suggested. “It’s so much more fun over here. Azura played a game with me.”
Hailey chuckled and looked over to Azura who was in deep conversation with the others. “What game was it?” she asked Dimitri.
“She made me guess between the two brothers that look the same,” his dumbfounded eyes went to his mom. “I couldn’t tell at all. They looked so alike, mom.”
Hailey looked over, when suddenly, the air around the group changed when another man approached them. A man with dark intentions in his fiery but very cold steely grey eyes. His dark hair was longer than most; it was tied back and the sides were shaved. He had a suit on that was fit for a gentleman, but something was off about how this man held himself. Hailey clearly saw the dark tattoos all over his rugged, rough hands and they were circling his neck too. The man next him was the same, but instead he had blonde hair and green eyes.
“Who is that?” she asked Evangeline softly.
Evangeline looked up from her son who returned to Azura’s side to play some more. “Oh, that’s alpha Isaiah Iron from the IronBlood pack,” she told Hailey. “And the blonde one is his brother and beta, Lazarus.”
“IronBlood,” she questioned. “Is that a new pack?”
Evangeline nodded. “They left their father’s pack,” she said. “Zachariah told me that Isaiah freed his brothers from their father’s abusive pack.”
Hailey understood the reason behind the coldness she felt in Isaiah’s steely grey eyes. “Must’ve been hard on him,” said Hailey.
“It is on any wolf that decides to go on their own,” said Evangeline.
Hailey’s heart fell because she knew exactly how it felt to be a wolf in the world all on her own with no support. She had to fend for herself and protect her wolf every waking moment. No wonder she understood Isaiah’s eyes. She recognized them because they were exactly the same as hers when she was alone.
“I think Gabriel helped him out though,” said Evangeline.
Evangeline nodded. “Gabriel and Hunter found the property where the IronBlood pack resides now,” she said. “If there are some people Isaiah ever talks to apart from his brothers, it’s Gabriel and Hunter.”
Hailey looked up to the group and found Hunter completely at ease with the pack leaders that had joined them.
“These are all the packs that came, right?” mumbled Hailey.
“I think so,” said Evangeline. “The Waldorf pack is here too.”
“I met them,” said Hailey, the piece of cake in her mouth grew bitter.
“I’m guessing you’re not too fond of them either?” asked Evangeline. “I understand, they’re not the best of folks.”
“That’s an understatement,” replied Hailey. “I can’t believe someone like that even has a pack. Lucas Waldorf seems very cold and brutal.”
“That’s why his kids didn’t stay with him,” said Evangeline.
“He has children?” astonished Hailey.
Evangeline nodded. “I believe he has two sons,” she contemplated for a moment, “Zach told me that Lucas had a daughter too, but I believe she passed away.”
“How did she die?” Hailey asked.
Evangeline’s eyes darkened before she spoke. “She took her own life,” she revealed grimly. “And I think that’s why Lucas’s sons returned to Russia. They didn’t want to be a part of their father’s pack after what happened with their sister.”
“Does anyone have a nice story around here?” asked Hailey.
Evangeline chuckled. “It’s rough all around.”
Zachariah returned to the table for his wife, when the music in the hall changed to a slower, melodic tune of instruments. “A dance?” He extended his hand. Evangeline shyly smiled. She took his hand and they went to the dance floor where other couples had gathered. Even Czar and his wife were together on the open floor.
Hailey was suddenly surrounded by a warmth she knew belonged to Hunter. “Yes?” she asked without looking behind her.
“I think it’s vital for mates to share a dance,” his gently, hot voice shivered down Hailey’s back.
Hailey blushful smiled before she took his hand and got lost in his eyes. The very eyes that weren’t cold or hard. But fiery and hot enough to burn her into flames. Hunter had led her to the floor and she put her hand in his and the other on his sturdy shoulder. They started to sway to the slow music, following each other’s movements without missing a step.
“You dance very well,” she whispered to him.
Hunter’s lips lifted into a slow grin. “I know,” he said cockily.
Hailey couldn’t help but laugh. Hunter’s arm snaked around her waist and he pulled her closer to his body. Their thighs brushed against each other. Her chest was so close to him she feared that he would be able to hear her erratic heart beating so fast. She tried to move back and give them some air, but he didn’t let her. “Hunter-” she looked into his amber eyes, which were solely focused on her.
“You look so beautiful, tonight,” he said huskily. “Anywhere you go, you shine as bright as the moon in the dark sky, and I can never look away. I don’t know what I’m going to do, Hailey?”
“What do you mean?” she asked him breathlessly.
Hunter searched her eyes. “I’ve lost myself in you,” he said.
“I haven’t even done that much,” she replied.
Hunter shook his head. “You think I didn’t notice what you did at the table back when Lucas Waldorf came,” he said. “You took care of everyone around you without hesitation. And when you were playing with Dimitri, you had the kindest smile that still makes my heart skip a beat.”
Hailey rested her forehead on Hunter’s chest hiding her red cheeks. “Stop, or else I’m going to do something that’s not considered appropriate for where we are right now.”
Hunter’s laugh rumbled through her ears. “Let’s save that for later,” he remarked.
Hailey looked back at his grinning gaze. “I feel the same way about you too,” she confessed. “I am proud to call you my mate, Hunter Centauri.”
Hailey lost track of time, her mind; heart; soul was all lost with Hunter. Under the golden lights and glistening marble floor, she danced with the man who had slowly consumed every single part of her existence.