Chapter 6: Pull Me Close
Ashley felt like she was swimming on top of a silver cloud gliding over an ocean blue sky. Her body was as sturdy as jelly. She had no idea where she was but she didn’t even care. This was the most marvellous sleep she had ever gotten. She could feel the slight warmth radiate through the heavy sheets and it hugged her body like a cocoon. Ashley smelled the faint aroma of sandalwood and a darker, spicier scent. She couldn’t place her finger on, but she definitely recognized it. Her silent mind raced like a wolf, her eyes flickered open when the deep sleep she cherished was impossible to achieve again.
“You’re awake,” a deep voice hauled her out of her hazy dream.
Ashley winced when she forcefully tried to get up. Her head whirled as black blotches flashed in front of her vision. “Where am I?” she managed to ask.
“My bedroom,” his deep voice chilled her body.
Her eyes snapped open, but she winced by the bright white light from the massive window.
“You knocked out yesterday,” Isaiah said.
“I did?” she astonished.
“You don’t remember?” he asked. “You only drank one glass of beer.”
She shook her head because she didn’t remember a single detail from last night. She got up from the mattress and found Isaiah on the seat in front of her. He was drying his wet hair with a towel; his hair hung low around his muscular shoulders. But then, her eyes widened as a gasp escaped her lips from what she saw next. He was shirtless! she inwardly screamed. She got a full glimpse of his toned body and those sinful tattoos that inked his every chiselled contour of his physique. His iron gaze turned towards her blushed expression. His lip lifted slightly and it made her heart drum even faster. Damn, why did this man have to be so handsome? she wondered.
Ashley carefully slid her legs from under the sheets and noticed she had no shoes on. She knew that her sluggish arms weren’t going to be of any help getting her off the bed. Her heart still hammered against her chest with the shock from earlier. Shyly, Ashley graphed the massive room, that was basking in all the sunlight from the large windows across from the small lounging area. The tones in the room were deep mahogany, dark oaks and black, which didn’t surprise her at all considering Isaiah’s style.
“I got you some clothes from your penthouse,” said Isaiah.
Ashley titled her head. “Oh, thanks,” she said, “but why?”
Isaiah got up from the seat and came to her. He smelt of fresh body wash that made her melt from the heat. He sat on the mattress next to her, his hair falling around him and his eyes looked rakishly charming. “I didn’t think you’d want to go on a date wearing the same clothes from yesterday,” he revealed.
Ashley’s heart sank. “A date,” she mumbled, “with you?”
Isaiah leaned in closing the space between them. “Who else?”
Ashley lips lifted into a smile. “Can I use the shower?” she asked. He simply nodded and she took off to the shower with a jump in her step.
The bathroom was still warm from Isaiah’s shower, and that it still smelt of his body-wash. She closed the door and leaned on the marble sink. Through the large mirror, she assessed her embarrassing state. Her hair was wildly tousled and her shirt was twisted to the side. She stripped out of her clothes, and in her underwear, she brushed her teeth brazenly using Isaiah’s toothbrush. She slid the shower glass door wide open and stepped inside. The hot water cascaded down her body rinsing off the suds of the body-wash Isaiah used too; she found the spicy dark scent to be quite appealing from her usual taste. After she had quickly cleaned off yesterday’s hangover, she wrapped a fluffy white towel around her.
Ashley opened the bathroom door and found Isaiah’s bedroom empty. He wasn’t in the room, so she moved freely with just a towel covering her. Ashley assessed the outfit Isaiah brought for her. He had chosen a pair of jeans and a thick knitted turtle neck. Ashley pondered why he chose such warm winter wardrobe and not anything sexier from her closet, which she knew there was a wide selection of. As Ashley slid on his choice of clothes, she wondered if Isaiah went through her stuff or wandered around her penthouse? But considering him, she doubted that he did.
Ashley put on the knee-high boots from yesterday, which went well with her blue jeans and jacket. She grabbed the ribbon clip from the night stand and secured her hair back, although her bangs fell free and framed her face. It felt strange getting dressed in his bedroom, she got a glimpse of what it would feel like if she lived here.
Ashley put her jacket over her arm and skipped down the stairs to a quiet kitchen. “Good morning,” she greeted them chirpily.
“Good morning,” said Zeiden and Ronin. Lazarus was pouring himself coffee with a grumpy frown. Ashley realized that he only looked relaxed whilst drinking alcohol. They were all hungover like her, which wasn’t the best way to start this fine morning. Even though, Ashley’s mood was off the charts today.
Isaiah entered the kitchen. “Here,” he said before he placed a small white bottle of aspirin on the counter. “Each of you take one.”
Lazarus came around the table and silently handed Ashley a cup of freshly brewed coffee. She noticed that it wasn’t black like how the rest of the guys took it. Her coffee was a light brown and foam had gathered at the rim, which clearly told her it would be to her liking.
“Thank you,” she said to Lazarus. Isaiah placed an aspirin on her open palm. She took the pill with her coffee.
“We’ll be back before nightfall,” accounted Isaiah. “Don’t wait up.”
Ashley almost spluttered coffee in her mouth. “Wh-what?” she befuddled by his frank attitude.
“Come on,” Isaiah urged her, but then he saw her stunned expression; “Oh, all of them already know that we’re going on a date.”
“When did you tell them?” she asked.
“You don’t remember?” asked Zeiden.
Ashley looked at him blankly. “Remember what?” she was completely unaware of what was going on.
“Last night,” said Ronin, “you asked our alpha out on a date.”
Ashley eyes widened. “I did?”
“You said a lot of other things too,” said Zeiden amusingly.
A blush crept up Ashley’s cheeks. “This is why I steer clear of beer,” she said. “It makes me spontaneous.”
“Even more than you already are?” teased Ronin.
“Way more,” exaggerated Ashley. She secretly looked up from her mug at Isaiah’s reaction, but as usual, his face was stoic away from any expression. Ashley sighed at her embarrassment when she put her empty coffee cup in the sink. As she washed the mug, she noticed one of them was missing. “Where’s Adrik?” she asked. “Is he still in bed because of last night?”
“No,” said Zeiden. “Adrik is outside training.”
“Wow, he’s determined,” she believed because she barely had the energy to go the gym.
“Adrik’s always been like that,” said Ronin. “He can’t sit in one spot for too long.”
“We’re all like that,” said Lazarus.
Isaiah grabbed the keys from the counter. “I’m taking the Audi,” he told Lazarus in specific.
“You better take the Audi,” reprimanded Lazarus. “I added a new GPS tracker on it, so I can find you whenever I need to.”
Isaiah rolled his eyes at his beta’s domineering orders. “Ready?” he asked Ashley. She nodded and followed him out after she waved them all goodbye. Isaiah opened the door to the car for her and she slid in. He took off with speed down the highway to reach the streets of Manhattan to spend their day together.
“You picked me such a simple outfit,” said Ashley as the car came to a stop at a red-light.
Isaiah looked over to her with a side glance. “I wanted you to be comfortable and warm,” he said. “It said it was going to be pretty cold all day.”
“Usually men would pick a dress or even a skirt,” shared Ashley harmlessly. “But I guess I can’t expect the normal from you.”
Isaiah stiffened beside her. “Yeah, I won’t do what normal men would,” he exhaled.
Ashley smacked his hard shoulder surprising him. “What I meant was that normal guys would want their woman in a skirt or dress and not consider their poor legs,” she barked. “But you’re not like those jerks. You are considerate and kind.”
Isaiah’s brows rose. “Oh,” he said.
Ashley looked out the window to control her frown, when she spotted a flower shop. “Stop the car!” she announced alarming Isaiah.
“Why?” he asked.
“Let’s go over there,” she pointed to the flower shop right outside. Isaiah parked the car on the side and she looked around the many shops that were lined up in a row. “This is a good spot,” she told him eagerly. Ashley unbuckled her seatbelt and got out of the car. “We should get some flowers for the vase I got you.” She looked up to him. He simply held the door of the shop open for her.
She noticed how weird it was when he took longer to enter. Ashley glimpsed that he observed the entire perimeter of the shop and the street before he entered. Ashley smiled. Isaiah was an alpha wolf wherever he went and it didn’t matter who he was with.
“What’s wrong?” he asked as he spotted her watching him.
“Nothing,” she shook her head. “So, what flower do you like?”
“Rose-” he froze when he realized how fast he answered.
Ashley raised her brows. “Roses,” she said, “any particular reason?”
His smouldering gaze looked away. “Not really,” he lied but Ashley didn’t push.
They both navigated through the columns of the spacious shop. It would have taken her forever to spot the rose section since the rows were at a tremendous height. But Isaiah was quick to solve the problem. His towering height helped them find what they seeked. When they reached the corner section, Isaiah blankly stared down at all the different kind of roses.
“So, which one do you like?” she asked him.
“I didn’t expect so many different colours,” he told her.
“How about yellow or perhaps the classic red?” suggested Ashley.
Isaiah shook his head. “They’re too conspicuous,” he said. “Plus, the guys at home would probably kill me if I brought red roses home for them.”
Ashley stood in front of the column trying to find Isaiah the perfect rose. She traced over each bucket carefully, when abruptly, her eyes found what they desperately sought for. Ashley reached on her toes and pulled out a single rose. “An Earl grey rose,” she held up the flower before him. “They match that lovely colour in your eyes-” Ashley smiled with her teeth- “Do you like this one?”
Isaiah looked down at the rose and then nodded. “Yeah.”
Ashley found his reaction beyond cute; he was like a little boy right now. “Alright then,” she clapped her hands together. Ashley quickly called over the florist and told him to gather her a bundle of lavender and also the gorgeous purple perennial flowers. The florist added the dash of greenery to the grey and vibrant purple, which made the bouquet perfect at the end. Ashley paid for them before she handed the bouquet to Isaiah. “You look perfect with flowers,” she jested.
Isaiah looked up from the bouquet. “I’ve never been given flowers so many times,” he said.
“That’s why I love giving them to you,” she teased. “You have the cutest reaction every time I do.” Isaiah chuckled as he walked out the shop, Ashley quickly followed him with her own laugh bubbling. He safely put the flowers at the back seat of the car before they took a stroll.
“We should go to that antique shop and get some vases too,” she pointed across the street. She had a feeling she was being a bit pushy. Ashley knew that Isaiah didn’t do these type of things, but never once did he deny her. He calmly went along with whatever she did, which made him so much sweeter in her eyes.
They left the antique shop with a pair of round glass vases. But during the whole time, she was eyeing Isaiah’s hand. Ashley wondered if it was too soon to hold hands as they walked down the street towards a clothing shop. They waited for the street light to change, so they could safely cross the road when Isaiah grabbed her hand all on his own. He carefully escorted her down the road, but all her concentration was on their joined hands.
“Is this the shop?” he turned and asked her, but she was too busy blushing over her hand in his. She snugly fit in his and the size drowned her petite hand. “Ashley?”
“Yeah,” she snapped out of her bubble. “This is the one.”
They sauntered into the small boutique, which sold dresses, jewelry and vintage styled fashion. Ashley was caught off guard by the great pieces and prices in the boutique. She quickly browsed through the racks. Excitement was clear on her face, but the icy cold breeze that would come in through the opened door slithered down her body and tampered this wonderful experience.
Isaiah’s hand brushed her arm. “Wait here,” he told her softly before he walked out of the shop.
By the time he had left, Ashley had found a beautiful black dress, that had a sweetheart bodice and corset to cinch in her waist. The skirt fell just above her knees.
“Stockings would go perfectly with that dress,” suggested the sales-associate.
“I was thinking the same thing,” added Ashley. The sales-associate brought lace stocking in black and white selections, but Ashley picked the black. “Can I try these on?” she asked the woman.
“The fitting room is at the back around that corner,” the woman pointed behind her.
Ashley pushed passed the minty green curtain into the back room, which was empty since she was the only one in the shop at the moment. Ashley stripped out of her clothes and put the dress on with the stockings. She stepped out of the changing room and into the small area, which had a full-body mirror. Ashley had fallen in love with the way the dress hugged her curves. The lace detailing around the stockings sat right over her thighs, which perfected the look completely. Now, all she needed was a pair of heels to finish it off.
“Ashley,” Isaiah’s voice could be heard from the front.
“She’s in the changing room,” said the sales-associate. “She’s the only one back there, so you can go if you want.”
Ashley didn’t have time to return to the changing room behind the door, because Isaiah stepped through the curtain. Both of them stunned whilst looking at the other. She had worried over why he had left earlier, but now her suspicions were answered, because in his hands were two cups of coffee.
“I was dying for something warm-” she got off the pedestal- “Which one is for me?”
Isaiah handed her the cup in his right hand. “It’s a latte,” he told her.
Ashley tested the coffee which was made to hit that sweet spot in her. Isaiah even got her extra whipped cream. “Thank you, it’s perfect,” she told him. Ashley returned onto the pedestal and posed. “Do you like it?” she asked him. “I’m thinking of getting this.”
Isaiah moved his gaze from her eyes. “Mm-hmm,” he muttered.
Ashley raised a brow. She clearly knew why he had avoided her gaze. “You know-” she came over to him and because she was on the pedestal, their eyes were directly in front of each other- “once in a while, you can tell me that I look pretty.”
Isaiah stern gaze met hers without being timid, because he wasn’t one to roll over when he was being teased. Isaiah straightened to his height, he tilted his head and closed the final inch between them. His hand rested on her hip- that simple touch felt like a fire ignited in her body. “You look pretty,” he said, “always have.”
Ashley’s smile couldn’t help but broaden. “You just look intimidating,” she believed. “But on the inside, you’re such a gentleman.” When Isaiah rolled his eyes and exited the dressing room, Ashley chuckled the whole time she fixed the dress to her body and the sales-associate helped her.
When she stepped out, Isaiah asked her; “Aren’t you going to change?”
Ashley shook her head. “I adore this dress,” she told him. “I’m going to wear it for the rest of our date.”
Isaiah frowned. “Won’t you get cold?”
Ashley grinned. “I can always hold onto you to stay warm,” she jested, but she wasn’t lying about her plan. The sales-associate put her other clothes in the bag. Isaiah held Ashley’s hand and handed his own credit card paying for her entire outfit. “You didn’t have to buy me all of this,” she said.
“I wanted to,” he simply said and went on with his way.
They exited the shop and went to the nearest restaurant to grab a bite to eat. They entered the local eatery and ordered a sandwich each, with loads of crispy salty fries that went perfectly with their lunch spread.
Ashley finished her share before Isaiah, and then, the rest of the time, she idly drank her coffee with Isaiah as her view. “What made you change your mind?” she asked him.
Isaiah looked up from his plate. “About what?”
“Going out with me,” she told him. “Why did you decide that you would come with me? Was it because I was pushing you to?”
“No one can make me do anything I don’t want to,” he told her complacently. “I came with you on my own accord.”
“What did I say last night that I was able to convince you?” she amused.
“You don’t remember at all what happened?” he asked her this time.
Ashley searched through her head. “The last thing I remember is drinking that beer with Lazarus and then waking up this morning.” Isaiah’s grin made the butterflies in her stomach grow even more hectic. “What’s that smile for?” she asked. “Did I do something embarrassing?”
“No,” he said, but it wasn’t reassuring at all.
“Tell me Isaiah. I need to know,” she urged him.
“After you drank the glass of beer, you talked about your parents and then passed out in my arms,” he told her. “I took you to my bedroom and then-”
“And then?” she insisted.
Ashley’s mouth dropped open. “We- we kissed,” she repeated. Isaiah nodded simply. “We shared our first kiss and I don’t remember it.”
“You were drunk,” said Isaiah.
Ashley’s mind was reeling back like a fish hook. “I forgot our first kiss!” She covered her gaping mouth with her hand. “How could this happen to me?” Isaiah shrugged his shoulder, but he was biting back his chuckle. “It’s not funny, Isaiah,” she rebuked with a huff. “We shared our first kiss while I was drunk and crazy.”
“It’s fine,” he reassured her. “Besides, it’s not like that was our last-” his words dropped. But she heard him loud and clear.
Ashley’s dingy mood lightened. “You’re right,” she beamed a smile. “I guess we’ll have to make up for it.” Isaiah laughed with her as she teased him and herself.
After lunch went by smoothly. Ashley and Isaiah roamed around the markets for a couple of more hours; visiting candle shops, book stores and the bakery so they could take some treats for everyone back home. The streets started to clear out early because the dark sky warned them a storm was about to hit soon.
Ashley and Isaiah made their way back to the car, which they hadn’t even realized that they had wandered off so far. Ashley could see in the dark perfectly because all the shops had lit up and the street lights had turned on. Over the street, the twinkling Christmas lights decorated in a zigzag pattern. On cue, the lights danced over the cars and people, like golden fairy dust.
“It sucks that the storm is cutting our time short,” said Ashley.
Isaiah looked over to her, and his eyes lingered. “We can always do this again,” he said.
Ashley’s heart skipped a beat. “You would want to go on another date with me?” she asked. But before Isaiah could answer, Ashley noticed black van ride up the empty street. She didn’t know what came over her but she moved with lightning speed. Ashley pushed Isaiah out of the way and blocked him with her body. Gun shots fired, cutting through the air with deafening sound. Ashley dropped to the ground after the van drove off just as fast as it came.
“Ash,” she heard her name being called in the distance. “Stay with me.” Ashley opened her eyes enough to get a glimpse of Isaiah’s worried expression.
Ashley coughed up something hot that tasted of iron. “Ow,” she joked even though the pain was excruciating.
“Don’t talk,” he warned her to conserve her energy. “Just concentrate on my voice.”
Isaiah pulled out his cellphone and called an ambulance as fast as he could. Ashley focused on his voice, but her eyes were giving out all on their own. A cold draft swept into her body, her attention was caught the moment she heard Isaiah talking to Lazarus. In the far distance, she heard the rapid sirens before her eyes closed. The only thing she regretted was not being able to tell Isaiah how she truly felt about him.