“But momma I’m tired!”
“I know sweetheart, but we have to go. I need you to run.”
I was running through the forest trying desperately to keep my hand held in my mother’s. My little four-year-old legs were struggling to keep up and I could feel myself slipping.
“Elsie, this way.”
I turned to see my father to the right, beckoning us to come to him. My mother scooped me up in her arms and held me close as she ran toward her husband. I could feel the pounding of her heart.
“Are they following us?”
“They said they’d give us until the morning to get off the pack lands. We should reach the south border in an hour if we shift. I’ll carry Sasha.”
I heard wolves howling in the distance and the faint padding of feet as we neared the border.
"Sweetheart we are almost there, hold on tight."
Just as we reached the pack border I heard them behind us, like they were trying actively to catch us instead of just forcing us across the border. I became distracted and all of a sudden I was tumbling off my father and into the damp leaves on the ground.
"DADDY!!" I screamed.
"Sasha baby! Run to mommy!" My mother shifted back and ran to me. She pulled me up into her arms and began running again. I had fallen off my father before we reached the line. Suddenly we were surrounded, my father howling for his family on the other side of the border. My mother tried to run as far as she could before throwing me hard. I flew through the air as it was pierced with the screams of my mother being attacked and the painful howls of my father who had to protect me instead of his mate. My father grabbed me and stood beyond the border unable to do anything. I turned back to see my mother, unable to catch a glimpse before...
My eyes snapped open and I jolted up in my bed. My breathing was shallow and I was covered in sweat. I could feel the tears on my face and I knew it had been the same dream I'd had since I was a child. It always came up when I was scared or stressed. It had been a while and I thought I had moved past it. Apparently not.
I looked at my phone. Six AM. "Lovely.." I muttered.
We dreamt about mother again.. I heard Raya whine.
"I know." I could feel the tears stinging my eyes. The night my mother was killed would haunt me forever. Although my father never blamed me, I blamed myself. I took a deep breath and a long shower. I took my time getting ready this morning, even made myself some real breakfast. I was afraid to go back to the office. He hadn't fired me, but I knew he was looking for a reason now. I grabbed my things, determined to get there early and have everything set up for the meetings this morning.
I walked into the office and was surprised to meet Paul in the lobby.
"Sasha!" He gave me a warm smile and an even warmer hug.
"Paulie!" I hugged him back tightly.
He stepped back, gripping my shoulders and eyeing my face. "It's true. You've become more beautiful since I last saw you."
I scrunched my nose, "Oh hush, you big flirt. You say that to all the girls!"
He looked around and whispered, "Not that grump at reception. She's a real stick in the mud." He then pretended to faint, "I only have eyes for you dearie."
I laughed, "How have you been Paul?"
He shrugged, "Same old same old. There was a big scare yesterday so that was exciting."
"Oh I know. Heard all about it. I bet you were the one that caught it huh?" I smirked.
"You're darn tootin'," he nudged my arm before embracing me in a hug again. "You take care of yourself girl."
"Always. You too Paul."
I made my way up to my desk and sat down with a smile. The encounter downstairs had been exactly what I needed today. After all of the harshness of last night I needed some warmth. I went in and set up the conference room before sitting back down and checking the clock. "8:45. They'll be here any minute."
The elevator dinged and I saw both of the Thorpes walk out.
"Good morning Mr. Thorpe," I offered, my voice cool. My once good mood now gone at the sight of that man.
"Miss Lovett," he replied before entering his office.
Back to business as usual then, eh? Raya muttered and I could feel her roll her eyes.
"He's just a ball of sunshine isn't he..." I replied internally.
"Good morning Miss Lovett!"
I snapped my head up to see Jim Thorpe. I smiled warmly. "Good morning Beta Jim."
He sat on the corner of my desk and looked down at me with a grim smile, "Look, I'm sorry about what happened last night. He had no right to accuse you without having all of the facts."
I shrugged with a smile, not wanting to let him know how I really felt about the situation or how angry I truly was at his brother, “It's in the past."
He held my gaze, almost as if he was searching my eyes to see if I was being truthful. He straightened and smacked the desk, "Well then, how about you let Jackson and I take you to lunch to make it up to you."
I shook my head, there was nothing I'd rather do less. "You don't have to do that."
"Well, I actually can't today, Mr. Thorpe has a lunch meeting this afternoon and I will probably be needed as well to take notes."
He nodded his head, "Alright, alright... rain check then."
I smiled. "Not likely," I thought to myself.
We are NOT about to voluntarily spend time with that jerk, Jackson Thorpe! Raya growled. I could tell she was still sore about the way our mate had treated us last night. I was once again pulled from my thoughts by the phone ringing.
"Yes Mr. Price, we completely understand. Let us know if there's anything you need."
I stood and walked into Mr. Thorpe's office. I was once again smacked in the face by his scent. "Mr. Thorpe?" I asked as I entered.
"Hmm," he mumbled from his desk, not even looking up.
"Your 9am meeting has cancelled."
He looked up, slightly irritated, "Did they give a reason?"
I stepped in further, "Mr. Price's wife has gone into labor."
He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his head, "Well, I guess as far as excuses go that's probably one of the best. Did they reschedule?"
"Yes, I put them down for next Wednesday at two. It was the only open slot available. If that doesn't work I can call them back."
He shook his head, "No that's fine. I guess you can go clear up the conference room and set up for the meeting this afternoon."
"Yes, sir," I replied rather coldly, still not ready to forgive him yet.
"Hmm?" I turned back to face him, keeping my expression even. I wanted to yell at him but I knew that would only get me in trouble.
He scowled at me, "You're still mad..."
"Well, I don't take kindly to being accused of stealing based solely on my background. Excuse me." I turned and walked out of the room, proud I'd let him know how I felt.
It didn’t last long though, and I half-stumbled back to my desk. It was the most terrifying and intoxicating conversation I'd ever had. I was still upset from last night, but the minute I caught his scent I was ruined. It was a little upsetting how seemingly unbothered he was when I was about ready to either run for the hills or jump his bones.
"Breathe, Sasha, breathe," I whispered as I stood to go change out the conference room, still wondering if my mate was even half as affected by me as I was by him, even when I was angry at him.