Chapter 9: Waffles and Kisses
Bright sunlight graciously poured on the balcony glass, it cut through the sheer curtains and blared straight into Hailey’s face, she begged for another moment of sleep but her brain was already starting to wake up before she was willing to face the day. A cool breeze swept through the open window and warned her to wear warm clothes today at work, she was glad that she had Hunter’s sweater on right now; it kept her snug under the bedsheets, but then she recalled that she had taken it off before bed. So, what kept her so warm? She pondered. Hailey’s eyes fluttered open when the familiar dark pine scent bathed over her like the light of the sunrise.
She turned on her side and her eyes shot open because Hunter Centauri was asleep right next to her in her bed. Hailey choked on her breath and she rolled away and tumbled onto the floor.
“What are you doing in my bed!” She exclaimed.
Hunter eyes squinted as the sun beamed on his face too. “It got really cold downstairs,” he grumbled as he dozed in and out of sleep. Hunter seemed completely unfazed even though this was a crazy situation. She panicked when she realized how poorly her body was covered and without a second to waste she dashed inside the bathroom.
Hailey brushed her teeth with frenzy because she hadn’t expected that Hunter would actually sleep next to her. She knew that at night it got terribly cold downstairs- she remembered that she warned him too, but she didn’t dare imagine waking up to find him next to her. No wonder she was so warm and cozy, his heat warmed her better than the sun outside. Hailey splashed cold water on her face and prayed that the blush that coloured her cheeks would be destroyed, which did not happen.
Hailey opened the door and Hunter was still on the bed, his long legs were stretched out and the blanket was under him and his bare feet, which caught her off guard even more. His stern face was relaxed and he looked quite at ease, she had this terrible urge to run her fingers through the dark locks of his tousled hair. Even in the morning he looked so handsome, his strong arms were crossed on his chest and that put a small smile on her lips, no matter what he did he always looked domineering. She crept around him and avoided all the floor boards she knew squeaked, she couldn’t help but feel so flustered that he’s in her room.
It was like they were actually living together, Hailey inwardly screamed and wanted to run away from embarrassment, but before she left, she grabbed the extra blanket from the closet and covered Hunter.
She turned to leave when her hand was caught and she didn’t even need to guess what had grabbed her.
“Good morning,” Hunter’s voice was even deeper after waking up.
Hailey bit her lip. “Good morning,” she replied and faced his golden gaze that was bright and alert this morning. “I’ll make breakfast,” she blurted out. “I left an extra toothbrush on the shelf and you can take a shower if you want, but I only have flower scented body-washes.”
Hunter smiled charmingly. “Thanks,” he lifted from under the covers and his bare feet planted on the ground, he towered over her and pushed a strand of her hair behind her ear. “Do you have work today?” He asked.
“Yes,” she answered but she couldn’t concentrate because his hand kept moving around her body; first he moved her hair and then he fixed the strap of her nightgown.
“What time do you need to be there?” He asked.
Her breath halted. “Eight o’clock,” she whispered.
“I’ll take you,” he said.
“There’s no need,” she said. “It’s just a few minutes’ walk from here.”
Hunter gazed into her eyes with a hard look. “I will drop you off,” he said more firmly.
“Alright,” she stepped back because she couldn’t handle the feel of his hands so close to her body, he was right in front of her but she couldn’t do anything to him. She wanted to push him on the bed and join him but she could never do something like that to anyone. Not that she ever experienced something like this before, this was the first time that a man slept next to her. “Freshen up and come downstairs,” with his sweater in her hands she scampered down the stairs making sure not to fall on her face every step of the way.
Hailey entered into the kitchen with her burning face in her palms, why did Hunter have to be so goddamned hot? She admired irritably. He tied her in knots and he had no clue what he did to her so easily, she was driven over the brink of insanity and she didn’t know what would cure her except Hunter Centauri.
Hailey quickly distracted herself with cooking like a maniac. In no time, she baked fresh waffles and sprinkled cinnamon over all of them, she took out whipped-cream and fruits from the fridge and placed them on the counter. When she heard the shower turn off, she knew Hunter would come down the stairs any minute now. Goodbye moment of peace.
Hailey opened the fridge and grabbed the milk carton when something skimmed her hand that was on the fridge handle. She pulled her head out and found Hunter standing in front of her with wet hair that dripped down his corded neck and soaked the rim of his shirt. His eyes glistened more than the water and that lavender scent wafted off his body made her want to snuggle in his arms.
“I took a shower,” he said. “Sorry, I needed to take a bath after what happened yesterday.”
Hailey moved around him and placed the milk carton on the counter. “It’s fine,” she smiled awkwardly.
“Something smells delicious,” said Hunter.
Hailey moved aside and showed him the plate full of waffles. “It’s those,” she pointed.
“You made waffles that fast,” he astonished.
Hailey filled with pride. “I make the batter beforehand,” she told him. “So, they’re easier to cook the next day.”
Hunter propped a freshly sliced strawberry in his mouth. “We all enjoyed the cupcakes you made,” he said.
“That’s good to hear,” she said but she was also curious to know which one Hunter ate.
“I also loved your note,” he said with a bit of irritation to his voice.
Hailey’s mouth dropped open, she recalled how she deliberately didn’t address Hunter. She kept the note very formal and polite. “Well, what was I supposed to write,” she bit her lip. “I made those for everyone.”
Hunter took a step towards her and she retreated away until her back hit the counter, he leaned down and smirked when his eyes landed on the sweater she chose to wear.
“I would give you your sweater, but it’s kind of the only thing covering me right now,” mumbled Hailey.
Hunter gazed into her eyes and then he travelled down to her lips. “I like that you’re wearing my sweater, kind of feels like I’m on you.”
Hailey blushed scarlet red.
Hunter grabbed the plates from behind her. “Thank you for the breakfast,” he said. “Next time, I’ll make you food. I’m not such a bad cook myself.”
Hailey’s heart quickened. “Next time,” she muttered softly.
“Come on,” he ushered her towards the stool next to him. “Let’s eat before it gets cold.”
Hailey slid onto the stool and grabbed a few waffles onto her plate, she topped it off with lots of whipped cream and fruit, she didn’t care about how she looked right now with a plate full of food because whenever she was nervous eating was the best solution. Hunter wasn’t so far behind either, she was glad that he had an appetite and enjoyed food with much gusto like her, which annoyed her even more now because that just made him even more hotter.
As they ate in a comfortable silence, she couldn’t help but steal a few glances. Hunter looked quite alright after what happened yesterday. She wondered if he was doing better or if he was just good at hiding it from her, which wouldn’t surprise her since he was the infamous beta of this pack. His cold front was the talk around every pack and any society circle around them, but his temper wasn’t any joke either.
“If you keep staring at me like that,” he said, “I might lose the little bit of control I have left.”
Hailey coughed. “Er-” she looked away and swallowed some milk before asking what she was curious to know. “How are you feeling today?”
Hunter’s glistening gaze gaped at her, his lips turned upward into a smile. “I was fine from the moment I found you in the forest,” he revealed. “I’m surprised you’re interested.”
“Of course, I’m interested,” she said. “When Gabriel told me you were upset, I was really concerned.”
Hunter turned on his stool and faced her. “Why?”
“Must you ask?” she bit back but Hunter gave her a smug expression that told her to say what she was thinking. “I had a chance to help you, so I took it.”
Hunter’s smile broadened enough to display his perfect white teeth to her. “It’s nice to know you didn’t just follow orders from Gabriel,” he said. “You came to find me on your own.”
Hailey blushed terribly. “I was worried about him too,” she mumbled. “It’s not like Gabriel to ask others for help.”
Hunter’s gaze softened. “You’re right about Gabriel,” he said with a weary sigh. “He had it the hardest from all of us. And that made him very closed off from everyone, as much as it looks like he’s calm from the outside my brother suffered the most and has the darkest past.”
They finished their meal and Hailey grabbed the dishes, so did Hunter. Without a word or even asking, he pulled up his sleeves and came around the table to help her.
“I’m not that busy today,” he said as she grabbed the soapy dishes from his hands and rinsed them under the lukewarm water, “So, I might be at the Institute with Klaus and Viola.”
Hailey almost dropped the plate. “W-what?” she fumbled and couldn’t help but feel even more nervous about going to work now. “You’ll be at the school all day?”
“Not all day,” he said. “I have some stuff to clear up with Gabriel first. But I’ll be there by twelve.”
“I’ll be mostly working with the kids in the morning,” she said. “But I’ll be in the gym with the upper-class students around that time.”
“In the gym?” he asked.
“Klaus arranged a training camp for all the students,” she told him excitingly. “I’m volunteering as well as a couple of other teachers.”
“You seem excited,” he pointed out.
Hailey smiled. “It’s a lot of fun with all the kids,” she said. “Besides, who doesn’t like a day off in the sun with popsicles and games.” Hunter rinsed his hands off but stayed next to her and listened to her babble. “I think Klaus is going to open the swimming pool too, so I’m looking forward to it.” Hunter grazed her arm as she wiped her hands off with a towel. She glimpsed at the clock and then turned to him. “I need to get ready-”
Hunter nodded. “I’ll wait,” he moved towards the couch in the living-room. “Take your time.”
Hailey scuttled up the stairs and opened her closet wondering what to wear. She pulled out a pair of black leggings and a tank-top to match, she didn’t forget to grab a loose jacket as well. Hailey strode into her bathroom and took an elastic band for her hair, she tied in up in a ponytail and examined her appearance in the mirror for a moment before walking out with her bag and an extra swimsuit.
Hailey strode into her kitchen and grabbed a chilled water bottle from the fridge, she spotted Hunter who was busy on the phone, so she took that chance to put her shoes on by the door step. Just as she was about to grab her keys, Hunter closed the phone and came behind her.
“You’re going to wear that?” He astonished.
She stared at him confused. “Er- yes,” she answered. “It’s not going to be comfortable if I wear heels and a skirt during the training camp.”
Hunter’s eyes assessed her and she couldn’t help but notice the colour on his cheeks. “Goddamn,” he mumbled under a harsh breath. “Let’s just go.”
Hailey locked the door to her house and they just reached the bottom of the porch, when she became acutely aware of her appearance now. Did she look weird to him? She wondered silently and the curiosity killed her. “Do I look strange?”
Hunter’s gaze avoided hers. “No,” he grunted. “Just forget I said anything.”
How was Hailey going to do that exactly, she looked down at her clothes and everything seemed pretty normal to her.
“Stop worrying,” he said.
“I’m not,” she lied.
Hunter gave her a side glance, but she didn’t stop looking at him. He seemed flustered like he was nervous or caught off guard, but Hailey didn’t know what exactly happened so she dropped the matter.
The Institute building came into sight and Hailey stopped walking. “We should separate here,” she said. “I think it’ll be pretty weird if everyone sees us coming together.”
Hunter tucked his hands into his pockets. “I don’t really care what others think,” he said. “But I’ll leave this matter for now, since you’re still new to this and me.”
“Are you really thinking of going through the mating with me?” asked Hailey.
Hunter’s golden gaze hardened. “Yes,” he stated firmly. “You may not believe me right now, but you do things to me, Hailey.” Hunter’s hand cupped her nape and he drew her against him.
“Like what?” she dared to ask as his lips hovered over hers.
Hunter smirked deviously. “If only we hadn’t left your house,” he whispered hotly. “And I would’ve showed you.” Hunter abruptly stepped back and dropped his hand, but the imprint of his touch still burned through her neck. “Have a great day at work,” he said and mischievously winked at her before he turned away and strode to Centauri manor with a smug grin plastered on his face.
Hailey’s legs weakened and she couldn’t even hold herself up, by the time she reached the Institute her mind still wasn’t ready to concentrate and her heartbeat hadn’t slowed down. Hailey walked into the staff room which was still empty and she was glad, she dropped her bag at her desk and then headed to her classroom.
Hailey unlocked the side door, which allowed all her students to enter from because if they entered through the main door they would be trampled on by the older students. Hailey opened all the blinds and windows to let the sunshine and fresh breeze to clean the air in the stuffy room, she had finished all the preparations just on the nick of time. The clock hit the mark and just like always the students started pouring in and the day started, although all Hailey could think about was when Hunter would arrive.
Hunter sauntered inside the Centauri manor and it was unusually quiet, no one was in the kitchen or in the living room even the television was off. He wondered for a moment where everyone had gone so early but his siblings weren’t ones to slack off, they all probably left early to tackle their work for today. Hunter grabbed a water bottle from the fridge when someone walked in behind him.
“Good morning,” said a strict voice.
Hunter didn’t even want to look at his father’s face especially since he had such a beautiful start to his day, he walked past Robert.
“Did you forget your manner’s too,” remarked Robert.
Hunter gritted his teeth. “I didn’t forget,” he bit back. “I just choose who to show them to.” Robert laughed coldly and left Hunter standing alone in the foyer.
The bitter taste in Hunter’s mouth couldn’t even be erased by water. He dashed up the fleet of stairs to his brother's room.
Gabriel had called Hunter earlier when he was still at Hailey’s house to come to his room. He wondered what happened but then he forgot all about when he saw Hailey’s appearance. She had skin-tight leggings on with a tank-top which hugged every single curve of her body, it didn’t leave any secrets of what her body looked like underneath the thin fabric. He couldn’t even look at her straight, otherwise who knows what he would’ve done right then and there, and her bedroom wasn’t so far from him either.
Hunter did go to her room last night because it was cold, but he just wasn’t able to resist anymore. He craved her heat next to him so much that he couldn’t get a minute of sleep. Hunter woke up this morning beside her and his heart hadn’t stopped beating this fast since then, he reluctantly left her but damn did he want to stay with her all day. Hunter decided he wasn’t going to waste any more time; he was going make Hailey his mate before he lost his mind.
Hunter opened Gabriel’s door only to find the room empty. “Bro, where are you?” Hunter’s voice echoed through the room. Moments later, the bedroom door opened and Gabriel sauntered out with a white towel wrapped around his waist and his body and hair soaking wet.
“Sorry, I was in the shower,” Gabriel shook his wet hair and sat on the couch, so did Hunter.
Vincent walked in just on time as well. “Good morning, fellas,” he said with his usual finesse even though he was still in pyjamas. “Looks like you’re finally done sulking.”
Hunter grumbled. “I wasn’t sulking.”
Vincent laughed. “Then where were you all night?”
“He was at Hailey’s house,” goaded Gabriel.
Vincent’s mouth dropped open. “Damn,” he patted Hunter’s shoulder like he was a proud father. “You’re finally growing up, that brings tears to my eyes.”
“I’m going to kill you,” grumbled Hunter. “And why do you keep forgetting that I’m older than you.”
“You may be older, but I feel like I’m more mature in the art of seduction,” teased Vincent. “I’m sure being my brother and all that you treated Hailey right last night.”
Hunter interrupted Gabriel. “I don’t know why you need to know this, but nothing happened between me and Hailey.”
“You’re saying that you were at your mate’s house all alone and you didn’t even kiss her,” astonished Vincent. “Wow, you turned out to be more of a saint than I thought.”
Hunter glowered. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing, just that I thought you’d be more of the bold and dominant type,” said Vincent.
“I was just giving Hailey some time,” explained Hunter.
“Will you two shut up!” shouted Gabriel. Hunter and Vincent spiralled back from their alpha’s terrifying wrath. Gabriel pinched the bridge of his nose, “Great, I’m all hot again.” At that moment River and Ryder waltzed in the room. “Good, everyone’s here,” he said.
“What’d you call us here for anyway?” asked Vincent. “I thought I had this day to myself.”
Hunter and Ryder didn’t say anything but they thought the same too. Although River was ready for anything anytime.
“I just wanted to caution all of you,” said Gabriel grimly. “Even though we signed the treaty with the Waldorf’s that doesn’t mean we get to slack off. I want security on our turf to stay air-tight, and make sure all the guards memorize what Waldorf’s wolves look like, I still want our wolves on high alert.”
“I understand that,” said Vincent. “But wasn’t the reason behind the treaty to let everyone cool down.”
“No, it wasn’t,” both Hunter and Gabriel spoke.
“The treaty was just to chain down the Waldorf pack,” said Hunter. “So, now they can’t do anything outside the pack rules. We have them at a disadvantage if they try anything.”
“Which we all know they will,” alleged Ryder.
“I will instruct all the perimeter guards today with Hunter,” said River.
“Stay discrete,” advised Gabriel. “We may have our doubts in this room, but to everyone outside I want us to look calm. None of the pack members should be worried, they will all go on with their day to day lives, but I want us to stay ready,” Gabriel shook his head. “I don’t want us to be just ready, I want us to be three steps ahead.”
“You got it,” answered Hunter. “We’ll have everything done by twelve.”
All the men in the room froze and their eyes turned from Gabriel to Hunter.
“Why,” smirked Vincent. “Do you have somewhere to be?”
Ryder grinned from beside his brother. “Does our Hunter need some time for a special somebody.”
“Ugh, you guys are such kids,” scoffed River and they didn’t really expect him to carry on with the teasing, but then, his expression darkened and he smiled devilishly. “It’s obvious Hunter’s going to meet Hailey at the training camp today.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that,” said Vincent.
“Is it true?” asked Gabriel so suddenly.
“Of course, it’s true,” said Ryder. “Our Hunter’s growing up to be man!”
“You’re all dismissed, by the way,” sighed Gabriel as he retreated to his room to get dressed.
“Maybe we should go to the training camp too,” Ryder suggested to River and Vincent.
“I’d rather you not,” said Hunter as he got out of the seat and they all left Gabriel’s room together.
“Now, I definitely feel like going,” said River. “We should also see who our sister-in-law is.”
Hunter’s comfortable date with Hailey was officially ruined. “Oh god,” he grumbled.
“It feels kind of odd now that Hunter has a mate,” said Ryder. “This has never happened before.”
“What do you mean? Vincent’s had a ton of girlfriends and so have you,” said Hunter.
“It’s not the same,” said Ryder. “A mate is permanent and a bond wolf to wolf, you can feel each other’s presence and emotions. It’s like they’re inside of your head forever and they’re the only ones that can control your wolf. They become a piece of your soul that you never thought was missing, until they walked into your life.”
Hunter, Vincent and River gaped at Ryder.
“That was so poetic,” said Vincent. “What the hell brought this out of you? And here I thought River was the romantic one.”
Ryder grinned proudly. “Don’t you know?” he asked with arrogance. “I have and always will be the smarter Drakov.”
River smacked the back of Ryder’s head. “Stop lying,” he grumbled. “Let’s hurry up and finish our tasks, so Hunter can go to his soulmate.”
Hunter groaned because now River joined everyone excruciating mocking, he wasn’t going to hear the end of this even until his last dying breath.