Chapter 2: Breakfast Table
Dawn had broken, but it still was dark outside. The sun peaked from between the pine trees that surrounded his property. Isaiah got out of his bed with a stiff ache in his body because he didn’t get a wink of sleep. As usual, in the morning, he’d always take a run around the property where as his pack would still be fast asleep.
Isaiah exited his manor through the back door and took off without shifting into his wolf form, because his wolf couldn’t be trusted. Isaiah had turned into his wolf when he had massacred his father’s entire pack and his own father. After that night, Isaiah promised that he’d only turn into his wolf form in dire situations. But never again, because the wolf inside him was always out for blood. That was how they all were trained by their father. Since they were pups, they were tortured into submission to become killers. Their father wanted his sons to be weapons of destruction, and that night when Isaiah killed all of them, he had shown his father what type of weapon he had become.
After a long, exasperating run, Isaiah returned to his house. His brothers, cousin and friend had woken up too. Isaiah quickly freshened up and put on a pair of jeans and shirt, because he guessed that he was going to be home all day. Isaiah joined the others in the kitchen, where Zeiden was rummaging through the fridge for some breakfast. Lazarus was on his phone eating a green apple; the sound of the crisp bites made Isaiah hungry for one too. Two more men strode into the kitchen; it was their friend Ronin who had left the special forces as a detective and joined Isaiah’s team, leading the security with Lazarus.
“Good morning, fellas,” said Ronin. “What’s for breakfast?”
“Nothing apparently,” answered Zeiden. “No one went grocery shopping.”
Ronin frowned at Lazarus. “It was your turn,” he scolded.
Lazarus avoided Ronin’s glare. “I’ll do it today,” he said trying to calm Ronin.
Isaiah was glad he wasn’t in his brother’s spot. Ronin’s glare could freeze anyone, and now, one the best fighters Isaiah had was hungry, which was a bad combination. Isaiah sauntered around Zeiden and reached for a mug, but then, his hand froze before the white porcelain cup. Isaiah moved his hand away when his cousin reached for the same cup.
Adrik hated being touched above anything else. No one in the pack dared to test that notion either. But the men in the kitchen all knew why he was like this. Adrik’s parents were ruthless, even to the point where Isaiah’s father found it excessive and that was saying something all in itself. Isaiah poured himself a cup of black coffee after his cousin. Adrik had quietly leaned against the wall and drank his coffee, which Isaiah could never guess if his cousin enjoyed it or not. Since Adrik had one stern expression and nothing else, but no one blamed him in this room. None of them really cared to hide what they were thinking or feeling after the hell they’d been put through. It just wasn’t in them to hold a smile for someone that didn’t deserve it.
“I heard you rescued someone yesterday,” said Ronin with enjoyment in his voice.
Isaiah sat down and knew that Zeiden probably gave the scoop. “Her car had a flat tire,” he told Ronin.
“Uh huh-” Ronin was grinning over his coffee cup- “There was nothing else?”
Isaiah rolled his eyes. “No,” he bit back. But something in him was hesitant. Since last night, he couldn’t quite forget about Ashley, even though their meeting lasted no longer than ten minutes.
“She was really pretty though,” added Zeiden.
Ronin leaned in. “How pretty are we talking about?” he asked Zeiden.
“You can see for yourself,” remarked Lazarus. He flipped over his phone, and on the screen was the camera feed of the front gate of their territory. The black mustang from yesterday was parked at front of the gates.
“Why is she here?” asked Zeiden.
Isaiah hurried out of his seat. He marched across the manor and clicked the button to open the gates for her. The black mustang that had the flat tire pulled up the long driveway, she circled around to the front and parked the car. Through the camera, he observed her swiftly get out of the car even in those tall white heels. She opened the door to the back of her car and pulled out two bags and a big box. He moved in front of the door, by that time, Lazarus had nudged Isaiah to the back and opened the door himself.
“What brings you by?” Lazarus asked Ashley sternly enough to scare the poor girl.
Ashley’s bright voice staggered Isaiah. “I bring bearing gifts,” she announced.
Zeiden pushed his strict brother to the side. “Come on in, Ashley,” he said. “It’s great to see you again.”
“It’s nice to see you on better circumstances as well,” she said before she treaded her heeled foot inside the house. She passed the threshold far enough where now Isaiah was behind her. Looking even more radiant this morning, he wondered how she woke up so perfectly. Ashley fashioned a beautiful mauve dress that reached her calves. In the light of the winter sun, her hair shined even more brightly. It tumbled down her back in thick waves and a lavender headband held her bangs back. “I hope you boys are hungry,” she said chirpily. “I brought breakfast and the best coffee in the world.”
She really was a charmer, thought Isaiah amusingly.
Zeiden helped her with the boxes. But her left hand held onto the last bag. “Good morning, Isaiah,” she greeted him with a radiant smile.
“Good morning,” he replied, he inwardly winced when his voice sounded too strict. But Ashley’s sweet smile didn’t falter.
“I hope you like flowers,” she said suddenly. All the guys gave her a staggered expression, when she pulled out a bouquet of flowers in front of Isaiah. “Thank you for saving me yesterday.” Isaiah grabbed the bouquet but had no clue what to do next. Flowers in his hands felt so strange. “They’re white roses and carnations. The lavender Peruvian lilies are my favourite, so I hope you like them too.”
“Thanks,” said Isaiah self-consciously.
Ashley hadn’t dropped her eyes from the moment she had turned to face him. “Well, don’t just stand here,” she said. “I brought quite the spread for your morning breakfast.”
“Would you like to join us?” asked Ronin.
Ashley’s eyes finally moved from Isaiah. “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Ashley,” she stuck her hand out to him.
“Ronin, it’s so nice to meet you,” he said. “I heard about what happened yesterday. It must’ve been the worst.”
“You guys saved me last night, so it wasn’t that bad,” said Ashley.
Zeiden and Ronin escorted Ashley to their kitchen. And like that their typical, quiet morning had turned unexpectedly rowdy, with the presence of this one woman. Isaiah held the bouquet which had the same scent as Ashley. He looked down at the flower arrangement and wondered what his days had come to that he received such an innocent gift.
Isaiah and the rest of the guys entered the kitchen. Zeiden helped Ashley open up all the mini containers. Some had sandwiches, buttered croissants and sweet pastries- there were even burritos. The sweet and salty smell of food brought everyone to assemble at the table in seconds. Ronin already brought plates and they all started to dig in.
Ashley came over to him. “We should put those in water,” she suggested. “Don’t you think?” Blankly, he looked down to the bouquet and then at Ashley. “Do you have an empty vase?”
“I don’t think so,” he told her. Isaiah went around the counter, she followed him closely. He reached over in the cabinet. “Would this work?” he asked as he pulled out a cookie jar that was empty.
“Perfect,” she said. He handed her the bouquet, and then, a pair of scissors when she asked.
Isaiah watched her quietly as she snipped the ends of each flower before arranging them in the jar full of water. “You didn’t have to do all this,” he said.
Ashley looked over to him with her cheerful blue eyes. “I don’t mind. Plus, I wanted to see you again,” she said bluntly.
“What?” asked Isaiah because he was clearly caught off guard.
Ashley chuckled as she finished the flower arrangement. She suddenly leaned in closer to him. He was sure that the guys at the table saw, but Ashley could care less apparently. “I wanted to see you again, Isaiah,” she repeated, but he heard her loud and clear the first time. He just couldn’t believe it- or her.
Isaiah opened but then closed his mouth because he had no idea what to say to her return. “Why?” He finally managed to put his curiosity into words.
Ashley’s smiled broadened. “I find you… charming,” she confessed. Before she went around the table with the bouquet and placed the flowers in the centre of the table. “Come eat, Isaiah,” her voice snapped him out of his trance.
Isaiah took a seat even though he was just hit with a blow he didn’t quite expect. This beautiful woman wanted to see him, which he didn’t really understand why she had. There wasn’t anything interesting about him nor was he worth the trouble. So, why did she want to see him? he questioned as he enjoyed a hot chicken burrito. Isaiah listened to Ashley speak so openly with all of the guys around the table. It was hard to even look at some of them in the eyes. But she effortlessly pulled all of them into her words and her voice, which sounded like fresh honey dripping from a honeycomb.
Normally, girls they’ve met would not be able to withstand Lazarus’s grumpy mood or the scar that sliced through Adrik’s eye. Isaiah would have thought a woman like Ashley would be revolted, but instead, she didn’t even flinch. She passed Adrik a cup of freshly brewed dark roast coffee and a croissant on a napkin. Isaiah understood the confusion on Adrik’s face too. Everyone rarely took a moment to just watch, but they had. They all just watched this rich, socialite girl lure them all with just breakfast.
“So, how do you know the Bacardi family?” asked Lazarus, which wasn’t strange, he was always digging for information.
“My parents were great friends with them,” said Ashley openly. “After any of my trips, I make sure to go meet Czar and Veronica when I return.”
“Were?” asked Isaiah, when she purposely chose the past tense in her voice of words.
Ashley looked over to him when he finally decided to speak. “My parents passed away two years ago,” she said.
Isaiah or any of the guys at the table didn’t expect that type of answer from her. She looked nothing like someone who had lost their parents. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to bring that up.”
Ashley shook her head. “It’s fine,” she said. “Besides, it was two years ago.” They could all relate to the vacancy of having no parents. Even if it was for different reasons, the thread of loss was in all of them. “How do you like the coffee?” she asked.
“I usually take my coffee black, but this is very good,” said Isaiah.
“Really-” her eyes widened- “I can’t drink my coffee black. I need sugar, extra vanilla shots and lots of whipped cream.”
“Me too,” Lazarus suddenly spoke up. “Lattes are my choice.”
Ashley looked over to him with shock written all over her face. “A latte doesn’t suit you, Lazarus.” The beta frowned as she chuckled along with Zeiden and Ronin who agreed with her.
After they had finished their breakfast. Isaiah escorted Ashley back to her car. “Thank you for bringing breakfast for us,” he said when they reached her car. “We weren’t really up to cooking this morning.”
Ashley leaned her back against the car door. She always faced him whenever she needed to talk to him, it was unnerving for Isaiah. “I guess I saved you this morning then,” she remarked.
“I guess you did,” he said. A smile broke out on Isaiah’s face, surprising both of them.
Ashley grinned. “I got a smile out of you,” she stated like it was a great feat.
“If you knew me then you’d know how rare that is,” he muttered.
She stepped closer to him. “I can tell,” she amused. “It looks good on you, Isaiah.”
A chill crawled down his back from the way she said his name. It rolled off her tongue like it was an exotic word. He caught himself watching her lips whenever she said his name. Isaiah grabbed the keys from her hand. Clicking the button, he unlocked the car and opened the door for her.
“Is this your first time flirting with someone?” she asked as she leaned on the open door, reluctant to get in. Isaiah raised a brow at her tone. “I can tell it is,” she answered for him. “It’s fine though, I can always teach you.”
This time, Isaiah stepped into her space, closing the gap between them. “It’ll be trouble for you if I start flirting,” he warned.
Her blue eyes flourished with an attractive gleam. “Just what I’m looking for,” she dared back to him. “I’ll see you around.” Isaiah didn’t even have the chance to tell her that it wasn’t possible to meet him, like he was a friend or something. Ashley closed the car door on him, but then, she rolled down the window. “Don’t get nervous,” she said like she read his mind, “but even if you do, that’s a good thing too. It means my plan is working.”
“What plan?” he asked.
“My plan to get to know you better,” she alleged proudly.
Isaiah’s brows shot up. “You want to know about me?” his voice clearly sounded alarmed.
Ashley winked at his stern expression. With a bubbly chuckle, Ashley slipped on a pair of sunglasses. She rolled up her window before she left Isaiah standing bewildered on the drive-way. Isaiah returned to the house, where everyone had moved from the kitchen to the living room.
“Did Ashley leave?” asked Zeiden.
“Yeah,” said Isaiah.
“She really was beautiful,” said Ronin. “And there was something odd about her wolf.”
“I felt that too,” said Lazarus. “When she walked in, my wolf was suppressed.”
“It wasn’t just me,” Adrik spoke from the side.
“No,” said Isaiah. “Her wolf soothed mine down too.”
Isaiah had never felt this before. Ashley and her wolf had drowned out the noise his wolf bothered him with all his life. It was like she toned down the speaker of chaos in his head, and it wasn’t just for him, the others felt it too. But now that she was gone, the rage in Isaiah built up like a volcano ready to explode, if he hadn’t locked it down right away.
They had never experienced a wolf that could calm all of them down. It was unheard of in today’s world. They all felt the eerie blankness the moment Ashley left the house. It was like the warmth had left with her, but Isaiah knew that any warmth that came into the house was brought by her too.
“Isaiah,” Lazarus called out. “We have a situation.”
Isaiah’s attention refocused on his brother. “Don’t tell me it has something to do with Vito.”
“It’s Vito,” said Lazarus.
Isaiah cursed under his breath. Looks like he wasn’t going to be able to take this day off either.