Jolena pulls her hands out of Chriss’ and moves to the other end of the couch. This is all too much. The attack, the dangerous situation she finds herself in, Chris’s sudden care and now his confession. She wants to scream, throw things. Run far away and forget about all of it. “I-” She doesn’t know what to say.
“I am not going to force you into anything. I only hope you want to get to know me, give me a chance. If it doesn’t work out for you, you can always back out again. The only thing I ask of you right now is that you let me take care of you and the situation. I wouldn’t forgive myself if anything happened to you.”
“No!” she shakes her head. “I will make sure I have a bodyguard. But I’m not coming with you! I need time, I need space! It’s too much!” She holds up her arms to keep him at distance when she sees he wants to move closer. “Don’t touch me!”
“No, stop. Please.” She feels her eyes tear up and tries to hold them back. She closes her eyes, trying to fight her feelings, her shock, but the tears escape anyway. The couch dips down next to her, then a comfortable warmth surrounds her. She finds herself held tight by his strong arms.
“Shh,” he whispers. “Let it out, it’s okay. You’re safe, I’m here.”
Her head tilts to the left, against his chest. And finally, she lets herself go.
After a while, her tears stop, her eyes feel puffy and red, but she doesn’t care. She looks at him and sees his eyes looking back with so much love, so much care. How does he do that? Have all those feelings already, while this is the second time he sees her? She doesn’t understand.
“I know you have questions, and I’ll answer them all if you’d like. But right now, I think you need to sleep first.” He looks concerned. “Do I call Ava? Maybe you can sleep at her place? Would you like that? I’ll keep my distance as long as you need.”
She nods. His eyes look distant for a minute, then he looks back at her. “Maybe you should pack some things.”
She nods again and she reluctantly tries to get up.
“Do you need some help?” He gets up too and walks in the direction of the front door to open it and let his brother back in.
Jolena shakes her head and leaves for her bedroom. While packing, she hears the muffled voices of Chris and his brother, but she can’t hear them well enough to know what they are talking about.
A little while later, she steps out of her bedroom and immediately Christopher comes at her. “Are you alright?” He asks.
Jolena nods, then she puts down the weekend bag she had in her hands and wipes away some stray hairs.
“Ready to go, Chris? It’s getting late. The woman needs sleep.” Leo comes out from behind Chris.
Chris turns a little to look at his brother. “I know. I know every little feeling she has.”
Leo’s eyes almost bulge out of their sockets. “What? She-” He shakes his head, then smiles widely. “Well, it’s nice to meet my sister-in-law. It’s about time Chris got himself a wife.” He winks at Chris. “Normally I would love to give you a hug to welcome you into the family, but as this man here is a big bad, possessive, Alpha and I don’t have a death wish, I’ll just welcome you like this.”
“Well, let’s not scare her away. She’s not your sister-in-law just yet. We’ll have to get to know each other first.” Chris tries to tone his brother’s enthusiasm down a little. He turns his head to Jolena again and looks at her with inquisitive eyes.
She smiles at Chris, “he’s not scaring me away. I think he is adorable. I am fine, for now.”
“Well, let’s go then.” Chris walks to the front door and opens it for her. “After you.”
It’s dark outside when they drive away. Jolena sits next to Chris in the passenger’s seat, but it doesn’t take long until she sleeps. When she sleeps, Leo starts a quiet conversation with his brother. “Do you think she’ll be alright?” he asks, “she was quite shaken up, wasn’t she?”
“I don’t know, I hope so.” Chris shrugs, for a second he looks at the sleeping girl next to him. A concerned look on his face. “I truly hope she’ll accept me, but I’m not so sure she will. The only thing I can do is give her time and space. And when she’s ready, a lot of love.”
“I hope you can control your wolf for that long.” Leo looks a little worried at his brother in the mirror.
“I know, if not, it’ll be a major problem.” Chris looks at the rear-view mirror for a second to look at his brother who sits behind him. “He has to accept she’s human and that she would want to make her own decision. If we ever get together, it will be because she made that decision herself. Not because it’s the wolf’s way of life.”
“I think it’s very noble of you, I hope your wolf agrees with you.”
“There’s one thing my wolf and I do agree on.” Chris smiles.
“And that is?”
“That we want to see her happy, make her happy, and we want her to be happy.”
“Well, hopefully he’ll keep that in mind whenever it becomes difficult.”
“I hope so too.”
Chris turns left and drives onto the long forest road. They’re almost home.
“Did you announce our return and make sure Jolena has a place to stay?” Chris asks Leo.
“Yes, I did. I made sure the room next to yours was made ready for her. I know she’s going to stay with Ava, but she’ll probably be asleep already. If Jolena really wants to sleep at Ava’s, she can move tomorrow.”
Chris nods in agreement. “Well done, thank you.”
“Anytime,” Leo smiles.
Chris drives through some deep potholes in the road and Jolena jolts up. “Sorry, did I wake you?” He looks to his right to check on her.
“Are we there yet?” she rubs the sleep out of her eyes. They’re still stinging from the crying.
“Almost, just about another thirty minutes of these bumps and holes in the road.” Chris focuses on the road. It’s dark outside and the trees make it even more dark, one little mistake could be fatal here.
Jolena stretches. “What time is it?”
“Almost one AM.”
Half an hour later they arrive at the packhouse. Outside everything is quiet. The front door is opened and Nick steps out. He quickly steps from the porch and walks around the car to greet Chris and Leo. “Hey brothers,” he hugs them, “who is this?” he looks at Jolena.
“This is Jolena, she’s been attacked by Vince, we took her with us so we can be sure of her safety.”
Nick looks at her and smiles. “Welcome to our pack, Jolena,” Nick spreads his arms to give her a hug, but a low growl from Chris interrupts him. He looks shocked. “What-”
“Don’t say anything further, Nick,” Leo laughs, “if you don’t want to be killed anywhere near soon, I advise you to stay away from this lovely lady here.”
“Why?” Nick looks confused from Chris to Leo and then to Jolena.
They’re quiet for a second. Chris doesn’t say anything, he walks around the car to get Jolena’s weekend bag.
“She’s his mate.” Leo answers.
Nick looks at Jolena with new interest. “Really?” His eyes wide with surprise.
Jolena smiles shyly.
“Jolena, this is our other brother, Nicholas.” Leo introduces him to her.
Chris returns with the bag. “Let’s get inside, shall we? We need to sleep. We’ll discuss everything in the morning. Jolena, I’ll walk with you to your room, is that alright?”
Jolena nods and follows him inside.