Timid footsteps could be heard approaching a small diner called ‘Becca’s Haven’ located on the outskirts of the province of Mitsa. This province was one of the two only provinces in Canada in which an Alpha did not reside over full-time. Since this town was mainly occupied by humans, there was no pack for an Alpha to be in charge of. Occasionally, a neighbouring territories Alpha would visit to take care of official matters.
The diner had just opened, it was a little past five in the morning. The weather outside was cloudy and misty, the rain hadn’t stopped in the last few days. Today, the rain seemed to be coming down even harder actually.
“Mornin’ Sugaah. My names Tammy. What can I get ya?” the older blonde woman, dressed in her waitress uniform, questioned in a thick southern accent after she guided the petite girl over to a small booth.
Her customer was dressed in grey sweatpants with a white tank top and black hoodie. Tucked into a carry-on was a small dog. The young lady removed her hood and wiped the few droplets of rain that had fallen on her face.
“Good morning, Ma’am. May I please have a set of pancakes with a glass of apple juice, please? Oh, a glass of warm milk as well please,” the girl spoke respectfully to the waitress but her voice was low, barely an audible whisper. Tammy had to strain her ears to hear the girl and cocked an eyebrow at the sound of her voice devoid of any southern accent.
“Sure thing, sugaah,” Tammy replied and stared at the young girl for a few extra moments.
Tammy noticed that the girl was young, probably in her 20′s, with dark brunette hair and clearly far away from home. There was something about this girl that didn’t sit well with her.
The other young female clients who came to the diner were more cheerful, always coming with friends and chatting away loudly to the point of giving the poor waitress a headache.
Yet, this young lady was seated quietly, her back hunched inwards as if she wants to become invisible. Even the dog beside her was resting quietly as its owner gently scratched behind its ears.
“I’m sorry, is something wrong?” the mysterious girl had noticed her staring, making the waitress shake her head before turning away.
“Al, one set of pancakes. Make it quick, hun,” Tammy hollered to her husband who was cooking in the back kitchen.
Tammy poured a tall glass of apple juice and a warm glass of milk before sauntering over to her only customer.
The young lady mumbled a small ‘thank you’ before taking out a pet bowl and pouring the milk into it. After seeing her dog drink the milk happily, the girl let out a sigh and drank her apple juice.
Tammy smiled at the good nature of her mysterious client who took care of her pet before herself. She headed to the kitchen to take the fresh plate of pancakes. Al gave his wife a kiss on her cheek and took the remote, flipping on the television that hung high in the middle of the small diner.
Tammy placed the plate in front of the girl who once again mumble a small ‘thank you’. The waitress then settled down on a stool at the countertop near the cash register and rose the volume of the television higher.
“THIS JUST IN: A one billion dollar bounty has been placed on Mrs. Kaira Regan Crimson, the mate of Alpha Crimson who rules over the largest province of Canada, Rowim. Mrs. Crimson was last seen three days ago attending a party in the province of Katric which is north of the border. Alpha Crimson has sent our news station a video message,” Tammy gasped loudly at the mention of one billion dollars.
“Honey, come look! That murderous Alpha up north is on television. Apparently his mate ran away!” Tammy hollered from her seat as her older husband shuffled towards the front.
The young girl who had been busy feeding her dog looked up towards Tammy and Al before shifting her dark brown eyes to the tv.
“My name is Alpha Crimson and I have placed a one billion dollar bounty on my mate. Listen to my next words very carefully, you are NOT to touch my mate. If so much as a single hair is touched, I will kill you in the most painful way possible. And, little mate, I’ll see you very soon,” Tammy and Al stared in horror at the television as the Alpha smiled in a sadistic manner before the screen diverted back to the news anchor.
Both the waitress and her husband were brought back to reality as the sound of a glass shattering against the marble flooring could be heard. Tammy rushed to the young lady who sat completely frozen with the glass of apple juice laying broken on the floor.
“You okay, sugaah?” Tammy questioned worriedly while placing a gentle hand on the girls trembling body. Her dark brown eyes were frozen on the television with unshed tears and Tammy wondered what could have scared her so much.
“Don’t worry, we won’t charge you extra. Here, let me get you another glass,” Tammy comforted the brunette as Al rushed towards the two with a dustpan and broom.
“Uh, thank you, Alpha Crimson,” the news anchor was almost as petrified as the young lady seated at her diner which made Tammy wonder how dangerous the Alpha really was. Since her and her husband are human, they didn’t really care to meddle into werewolf affairs.
“Here is a picture of Mrs. Crimson who was last seen at the party as I have mentioned before. Please contact this number if you have any sightings to report” the news anchor concluded his speech and displayed a candid photo taken of the Alpha’s mate.
Tammy placed the new glass of Apple juice on the table as the girl mumbled a quick reply that Tammy did not hear. As the young lady began to quickly pack up her belongings, Tammy stared in between her and the television.
On the television, there was a picture of a beautiful girl laughing alongside a small boy. The girl was dressed in a dark blue satin dress, her dark hair cascaded down in loose curls and there was cake smeared on her cheeks. Even though the joyful girl on the television differed drastically from the gloomy one in front of her, Tammy had a hunch that these two girls were the same person.
“Mrs. Crimson?” Tammy called out as Kaira was about to run out of the diner with Simba.
Kaira froze dead in her tracks. Even if she were to run out, if the older couple were to call that number, then Alpha Crimson would have authorities on the lookout for her within seconds. Plus, the weather conditions are horrible today, if she were to be chased by car, it would be too dangerous for her to speed away.
“Don’t be scared, we won’t call them, sugaah. We don’t need that kind of filthy money, right Al?” Tammy reassured as her husband poked his head out from the kitchen and nodded in agreement.
Kaira swiftly sunk to the floor in exhaustion. She had barely eaten and did not sleep more than half an hour in the past three days. After running away from Beta Rick’s territory, Kaira drove as far out South as she could. She guessed that Alpha Crimson would probably grill her friends on which location Kaira had family and acquaintances so Kaira chose the South where she knows absolutely nobody.
“Oh no, ya poor thing,” Kaira could barely make out the frantic voice of Tammy as she slowly slipped out of consciousness.
Kaira drifted awake to the sound of a little girl’s laughter and Simba’s playful barking. She stirred on the stiff sofa she was laying on before getting up and coming face to face with a little girl, no older than five perhaps. Judging by her dirty blonde hair and dimples, she guessed that this girl is related to Tammy.
“HAY, my names Becca, my momma and pops brought ya here because ya passed out in our diner this morning,” Becca had the cutest southern accent, making Kaira almost squeeze her chubby cheeks.
“Hi, my name is Kaira. I am sorry for troubling you and your family,” Kaira stated as she sat up and Simba moved from the little girl over to Kaira’s lap.
“That’s okay! I never get to see friends anymore ever since I stopped going to school. So it was fun being able to play with this little guy,” Becca beamed with a big grin on her face.
Kaira wondered why such a young child would be pulled from school but then she noticed the oxygen tank beside the girl and the tubes coming out of her nose.
“Oh really? I’m glad then. This little guys name is Simba. Simba, go say hi to your new friend, Becca,” Kaira whispered into Simba’s ears and he immediately jumped off her lap and landed on Becca. Simba showered the little girl with kisses all over her face as she let out giggles.
“Well, y’all seem to be having fun! May I join ya, sugaahs?” Tammy questioned as she came into her living room and found her not-so mysterious client awake.
“Momma! I was just talking with Kaira, she’s real nice,” Becca hugged Tammy and tried to sneak off with Simba but was held back.
“Nuh uh. Don’t ya go running off before taking ya medications,” Tammy chided as Becca began to fuss and cry.
Kaira grimaced at the big syringe and tablets that Tammy pulled out from the drawers in the kitchen. She felt bad for the little child having to take medication at such a young age.
Kaira took Simba from the little girl and moved his mouth towards her ears. She pretended to hear Simba say something and whispered something back to him before looking at the puzzled mother and daughter duo.
“Simba told me that he only plays with good girls. And good girls always take their medication when their momma gives it to them, right Simba?” Kaira spoke in a gentle voice and Simba barked in agreement.
“I’m a good girl, I’m a good girl!” Becca claimed excitedly before taking her pills and allowing her mother to poke her with the syringe.
“That’s a good girl! Here, take Simba with you and rest for a bit,” Kaira ruffled the girls hair and let Simba follow her into her small room.
Tammy followed the duo and tucked them into bed. Kaira took that as her chance to look around the home. Judging by the clock on the coffee stand, it was currently 7 o’clock at night. She could hear the rain outside had ceased and felt a bit of the cold air drift in from the outside.
The humble home of the small family of three was a mess. Medicine for the little girl took possession of most of the small kitchen’s countertops. The furniture seemed many years old and there was barely any food in the fridge when Tammy opened it to get Kaira a glass of apple juice.
“Don’t worry, sugaah. We didn’t call that Alpha,” Tammy quickly reassured as she noticed the girl lost in her thoughts.
“Thank you, I really appreciate it. And, if you don’t mind me asking, why does Becca have to take so much medicine?” Kaira could hear the soft, steady breathing of Becca in her bedroom with her heightened hearing. She sat at the tiny dining table with Tammy.
“She...my little baby gal. She has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. A rare one but my little gal got it. Ya know, life can be cruel. My Al and I married late and struggled to have a baby. God sent us my perfect baby but made her suffer so much,” Tammy’s voice shook as she cried softly into her worn out hands.
Kaira instantly regretted asking such an intimate detail of their family life. She reached across the table and placed her hand on top of the older woman’s folded hands.
“I’m so sorry, truly.” Kaira whispered, wondering why God would let such kindhearted, innocent people struggle.
Tammy was about to reply but her words got cut off by the power suddenly going off. Kaira found that weird since the rain outside had stopped.
“Oh my, gimme one sec, sugaah. I’ll get ya some candles and we can put them around,” Tammy was quick on her feet and came back with several candles, as if she was already expecting the lights to go out.
As Kaira lit each candle with Tammy, she looked around the cold, dark room in sadness. She had a hunch of why the lights went out but couldn’t bring herself to ask Tammy.
“I’m real sorry, sugaah. I wish we coulda given ya a warmer place to spend the night, ya certainly look like ya need the rest,” Tammy started as she placed a candle near the entrance for when her husband returns.
“Lately, the bills been piling up. My Al and I had to decide between house bills or medical bills. I think ya can guess what we chose,” Tammy explained even though Kaira didn’t pry.
Kaira stared in astonishment at her saviour who chose to protect her rather than sell her out for the one billion dollar reward. It was obvious that the heat and power were cut because they couldn’t pay the bills.
“Haha, don’t gimme that look, sugaah. I’ll admit, my Al and I considered calling ya mate when ya passed out. Not only because of that money but because we were worried about ya health. But we got a daughter too, ya know? We woulda nevaah been able to forgive ourselves if we did that to someone else’s daughter, ya hear?” Tammy laughed at Kaira’s puzzled face before giving her a reassuring smile.
Kaira couldn’t bring herself to form any words. She was extremely grateful to the couple who chose to help her live despite being in such a difficult position themselves.
“I... I just... thank you, thank you Tammy and thank you to your husband as well” Kaira whispered solemnly as she sat on the stiff sofa once again.
Tammy was about to reply but was interrupted by the frantic barking of Simba from inside Becca’s bedroom.
The two women rushed into the room and Kaira watched in horror as the little girl’s mouth sputtered out blood and her tiny body convulsed on the bed.
“Oh God, my baby,” Tammy screamed before scooping Becca up into her arms and hurrying towards her front door.
Kaira followed suit and was about to put her sneakers on but was stopped by Tammy.
“No, you stay here. The people in town will report you if they see you. It’s okay, my Al is downstairs in the diner, we will go to the hospital. Stay safe,” Tammy cautioned before hurrying out the door.
Kaira sank to the floor in despair, wondering how life could be so cruel to such innocent people. Even during such a difficult time, Tammy had the heart to care for her and warn her to stay hidden inside their home.
Becca was in a severe state. They would most likely need to perform emergency surgery. How could the couple afford to pay that?
With her head resting in her hands, Kaira let out an ear piercing scream that sent birds outside flying far away. She pulled at her hair but refused to let any tears fall from her eyes.
A couple of moments passed by in silence, Kaira slowly lifted her head and felt as if she were sleepwalking or as though somebody disconnected her from her own body.
Kaira watched as her body walked towards the kitchen table and took ahold of Tammy’s old flip phone.
She dialed a phone number that made her whole body go numb. Kaira wanted to pull her hand away and throw the phone out the window but she couldn’t. All she could do was watch from afar as her body dialed the number and hit ‘call’.
“Alpha Crimson speaking,” his deep voice answered the call within seconds.
“Small diner... ‘Becca’s Haven’...the outskirts of Mitsa,” Kaira mumbled into the phone as the Alpha inhaled sharply on the other end of the phone.
“Who is it, who is it? Has there been a sighting?” Kaira could make out Beta Zachariah’s voice in the background.
A few moments of silence passed before the Alpha spoke.
“It’s you, isn’t it?” As soon as Alpha Crimson answered the call, he knew it was different from any call he’s ever heard before. He could recognize his mates breathing before she even spoke.
Kaira ignored his words and continued, her voice numb with pain.
“One billion dollars...you promised. The owners, Tammy and Al...they found me. Send your men to the local hospital, give them the money...”
Alpha Crimson felt her pain through the phone and couldn’t understand what was going on.
“Are you hurt?” Alpha Crimson questioned while trying to control his wolf who became angry at the thought of his mate being hurt.
“Please... just... you promised” Kaira whispered into the phone, her voice devoid of any emotion besides desperation.
She could hear Alpha Crimson getting into his car with his Beta and Theta. A few more moments of silence passed before he spoke again.
“I’ll be there,” as soon as Kaira heard those three words, she let the phone fall from her hands.
Looking towards Simba, who stared at her in confusion, Kaira smiled through her unshed tears.
“Tammy and Al aren’t the only ones with a heart, right Simba?” Kaira began to laugh, and continued to laugh until her laughter eventually turned into empty sobs.