“Don’t run too fast you guys!” I yell breathless at the twins. “I don't want you to trip and fall before we even reach the park!” Ada and Leo are the most energetic children I have ever met, and considering they are only 4 I had a long roadie exhaustion ahead of me.
My cautionary exclamation was met with only laughter, until I see Leo trip and hit the pavement.
‘MOOOOOMMMMMMMYYYYYY” Ada screams while Leo is on the ground crying. I increase my speed and ran to Leo’s side. “Does it hurt little guy?” I ask while looking at his skinned and bleeding knee. “I can fix that” Leo only looked at me and whimpered with his tear stained cheeks and big brown eyes. Leo is mute at this point. Every doctor we have seen assures us that he will eventually talk, but for now Ada communicates everything for him. They have been through so much over the last 18 months the pack pup Doctor was not surprised that he shut himself off to the world. Before their dad left us they were developing normally. After he left Ada continued progressing, but Leo stopped speaking altogether.
I placed my hands just above his skinned knee. A golden glow emanated from my palms to his little leg. The wound quickly closed. Being a pack healer when you're a single mom is definitely a plus. Way less medical bills, and I can almost always fix an injury. “If only healers could fix broken hearts.” I thought to myself. Unfortunately, healing over time is just about the only thing that I can count on for all of us to get better. We have already improved so much since Noah initially left us. The kids were happy and in preschool, and we have our own day to day rhythm now that works well for our little trio. Noah was such a hands-on dad thatI was honestly more shocked that he was willing to abandon them than that he abandoned me. Since we were chosen mates, I felt more like I lost a dear friend than a lover. Dont get me wrong, the mating bond is strong whether chosen or fated, but because of the circumstances surrounding our pairing, we never really felt that same pull even after choice mating that most couples claim to feel. When he left, and we went through the rejection ritual I was very very broken, but I didnt feel as close to death as most rejected mates claim. The depression I felt was deep, but more for the kids than for me. I lost my parenting partner, and my good friend, but I never felt like I lost the love of my life.
The kids jumped up and headed for the swings. I laughed at how quickly they returned to their mission. Thank God I was head pack healer. It helped to have a steady job and income for us with Noah gone. We also got a lot of the perks that most pack members don’t; we lived in the apartment complex within pack house lands, the kids got to go to the pack house private school, and the playground was right across the street from our little home.
I helped each of my kids into the swings and gave Leo’s brown curls a little tousle before I started alternating pushing them. They were giggling as Ada shouted “higher mommy higher!” Her sweet round cheeks were flushed pink which just made her freckles stand out more. Her blue eyes shone with delight. My babies were the absolute reason I made it through the last year and a half. They gave me a reason to keep moving forward, even on the days that I felt most hopeless and alone. “Missing him isn't so painful anymore, I'm just so lonely” I thought as the kids hopped down from the swings.
As I was chasing them to the slide I smelled the most delicious scent I had ever experienced. It was earthy, like cedar and juniper berry. It caught me off guard and I felt this overwhelming desire to follow the scent. “I need to get more sleep” I thought as I shook my head. I diverted my attention back to the kids. They were taking turns going down the little slide. Ada loved the tall twisty slide, but she knew Leo was too cautious to try it. She was always looking out for her brother. I found myself tearing up a bit at the thought of what an incredible little girl she was. After her dad left, she handled everything with such bravery. She always wanted to help, and she always seemed to know what Leo and I needed.
I glanced back toward the main pack house and saw our Alpha, Damon and his Luna, Emilia walking with another man. “I wonder if that’s the new Beta everyone has been talking about” I pondered to myself. Noah had not been easy to replace as Beta. Up until he left, he was not only an amazing second in command, he was also Damon’s best friend. I was so grateful for Damon and Emilia during the transitions the kids and I went through. They wanted me to stay living at the pack house with them, but the memories were too overwhelming to bear. Being pack healer I needed to be very close to the medical quarters of the pack house, so I agreed to move into one of the quaint one story apartments still on pack house land. It has honestly worked out perfectly for the 3 of us, and over the last year has really become a cozy home.
“Okay guys time to go inside for baths and books! You have your field trip to the pack fire station tomorrow!” Both kids squealed with delight and ran toward the apartment. “Look both ways before crossing!”.
The kids piled into the house as I opened the door. Everything with them was at breakneck speed. By the end of every evening I was absolutely exhausted. But I enjoyed every moment. I was so grateful that they were with me. As much as I missed having a mate, I had never met my fated. Considering I was turning 28 this year I didn’t assume there was much of a chance at this point. Even if I did taking on a rejected mate with 2 kids who was not a virgin wasn’t exactly every man’s dream. Although there were many men that would not have minded having a fun night or two with me, taking on a lifetime with the kids and I was not an opportunity that most jumped at. Although, to be fair, I dont spend a whole lot of time socializing, much to the chagrin of my wolf. She has all but lost patience over this whole process over the last 6 months. She has been causing me some major issues of late. It’s not like I want to be alone. Wolves are relationship creatures. But with the kids, and the recent pack issues I haven’t really had any time to spend out looking for someone to spend my life with. Plus, unlike my birth pack, my current pack, the Guardian Pack, very much believed in fated mates. Emilia was always telling me that I would meet my fated. Honestly, she was much more focused on me mating than I was.
With the kids soundly in their beds after our goodnight routine, I poured a glass of red wine, curled up on my couch, and started going over my medical notes from the day. It could honestly wait until I got to the pack house in the morning, but so many of our guards have been getting sick recently after doing border patrols I really wanted to find the connection. Myself and my 2 other healers had been working long days healing guard after guard. Thankfully our powers had been successful, and other than a small lingering cough every guard is back in good shape and on duty. I have a meeting with Alpha Damon in the morning to brief him on what I have found, and talk about next steps. Unfortunately I have found very little in the way of leads. So far, the only thing we know is that every guard that has fallen ill has walked outside of our border. Most of them within 10 feet of the border. I want to send one of our interns to get some soil and air samples, but I am not sure what safeguards to take to ensure they will not fall ill. With a sigh, I put my papers back in my bag. My brain is far too tired for any further research tonight. Hopefully Alpha Damon isn't too upset at my lack of progress.
I place my wine glass in the sink, vowing to wash it in the morning so the dishes don't pile up, and I get my favorite sleeping shirt from the dryer. I peek in on the kids once more before getting snuggled in my bed. Just as I am drifting off I get another whiff of the amazing smell I scented on the playground. Instead of jumping up and following the scent I'm somehow super relaxed. It calms me to the point that I drift easily off to sleep.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!!! The alarm is screaming at me. I turn over to hit the snooze and glance at the time with my one open eye. 7:35am. “CRAP!” I have to get myself and the kids ready and out the door in 25 mins! I must have already hit the snooze button twice and not even realized it. I scramble out of the bed and race into the bathroom. I hopped in and out of the shower as quickly as I could. “I guess I'm letting my unruly curls air dry today.” I thought with reluctance. My hair is my biggest problem area. It never lays the same 2 days in a row, and more often than not I have it in a messy bun while I'm at home or work. However, today was my briefing with Alpha Damon, and although his wife was my best friend, he still had a strength about him that commanded respect and decorum especially when discussing pack business.
I give my hair a quick scrunch with the towel, throw on some powder, blush and mascara, and grab my grey suit from the dry cleaners bag. “Thank God I remembered to drop it off last week” I sigh gratefully. Once im changed I go off to get the kids up and ready. I walk out to the living room and see that Ada has already gotten herself and Leo up, and they are eating yogurt and watching cartoons. “Morning mommy!” she says cheerfully. “Thank you so much for doing this babe!” I smile at her appreciatively. “How are my loves this morning?” They are too engrossed in the colorful display on the screen to answer. I go and start the coffee pot and grab their preschool clothes and backpacks. Somehow we make it out the door only 5 minutes late.
After I drop the kids off to their daycare to be picked up by the preschool bus I take off on a speed walk toward the pack house. Im tempted to take off my heels and run, but Im trying to maintain some sense of togetherness, and arriving to my morning meeting out of breath and sweaty does not really spell “Head Healer”. I glance at my watch just as I arrive at the main doors, 8:35. Great, Im 10 minutes late. Alpha Damon will be thrilled. If the Goddess is on my side today Emilia will be with him to help calm his frustration at my lack of punctuality and the fact that I have no more information than a few days ago about this mysterious illness.
Just as I’m rushing down the long hallway toward the large oak doors of his office I run right into
Jeremy the pack Gamma and spill my coffee all over the front of my freshly cleaned suit. “Fuck! I am so sorry Jeremy! I dont have myself together as much as I should today apparently.” I sigh. “Its okay Evelyn, just go ahead and head into Damons office, hes running out of patience. I’ll get you something to clean yourself up and bring it in.” Jeremy was the polor opposite of most of the Pack House leaders. I was so glad it was him that I plowed into. He is always so patient and kind. He balances out the Alpha team so well. Besides Emelia he was probably my closest friend in the pack. Everyone had hoped that maybe we would mate, but we both knew from the beginning that we were only suited for friendship. “Thank you so much!” I loudly say to him as I grab the door to Damons office “I really owe you…” just as I go to turn the knob the door opens and Alpha Damon is standing there. He looks irritated but thankfully not as pissed as I have seen him before. “Evelyn, how nice of you to join us” he says dripping sarcasm. Just as he is about to chastise me further for my tardiness Emilia opens the door widely and says “Damon, hush! You know she does her best. Its not always easy doing everything by yourself.” She rolls her eyes at him and returns her focus to me. “Evie! Im so glad to see you! I was beginning to worry about you when you didnt return my texts about last nights episode of “Chosen Mates”. Emelia loved reality TV. Even if she and Damon were fated, and preferred fated mates in their pack over chosen, she sure did love watching chosen mates on TV. I honestly didnt care for the show much, but Emelia loved it and she was my best friend so I tried to keep caught up as much as I could so we would have something fun to talk about. “I’m sorry Em, I was focusing so hard on my notes for today I ended up falling asleep without watching.” I was hoping to score a few points with Damon by showing my dedication to the case. “Evelyn, we are still waiting on Jeremy, and I thought this would be a good first meeting for our new Beta, Jackson to attend as well. He had some business he needed to attend to with his previous pack, but he should be along any moment now.” Alpha Damon was definitely in business mode. No niceties, just getting straight to the point. “While we await their arrival why don’t you go ahead and get out whatever materials you need to begin, and perhaps clean up a bit?” I glanced down at my only business suit to see the coffee stain spreading across the entire front. I politely excuse myself while Emelia is scolding Damon quietly for being so formal and rush to the ladies room. After a few minutes of scrubbing, rinsing and trying to dry under the hairdryer the brown coffee stain on my jacket is faded to a still very noticeable dark yellow. Resolved to arrive to the meeting with a shred of dignity I decided to just take it off and wear the silk cream tank underneath. It was a beautiful fabric that clung to me in a tasteful but somewhat revealing way. My cleavage was showing quite a bit more than I was comfortable with, but I didnt have time to go home and change. Plus, I had seen Emelia wear things that were much more risque. It was just hard for me to feel comfortable showing my body after 2 kids. Thankfully being pack healer was a busy job, and sometimes required a lot of physical strength so I made it a point to eat healthy and exercise as much as I could on my schedule. My physique is a little more curvy these days, but I still looked healthy and strong. I grabbed my tiny hairspray from my bag, flipped my hair over and gave it a quick scrunch. My makeup still looked good enough, especially after running around so much this morning. I gave myself one more quick glance in the mirror. “I actually look pretty good!” I think in surprise. As I compose myself and start to head back into the Alpha’s office I am overtaken by the same scent I smelled last night except I feel like I’m floating in it. It is the absolute most intoxicating smell and its so close I am starting to feel lightheaded by it. I try to pull myself together swearing I’m going to have one of my healers check me out after the meeting. As I walk into the office I look to see the most sexy, incredible man standing next to Alpha Damon. The whole room seems to be alive with electricity. I literally can't take my eyes off off of him. “What is happening to me today?”