When she's ready

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XXV

How is he ever going to calm his wolf down, if Elianne keeps him on his toes like this? Leo sighs. He sits on the old bench on the deck in front of his father’s house. Elianne has been gone for a week now, and every time that she gets into trouble, she’s confronted with that dick of a Brandon, he feels it. He feels how tense she gets, how intimidated feels by the guy, how she feels like she has to get on the guy’s nerves.

And every time he feels the need to check on her, to make sure she’s alright. He feels the need to grab his car keys and get her the hell out of that Pack.

How do they expect him to calm his wolf down, he can’t, he surely can’t. Not like this. His dad and Chris are walking on their tiptoes, trying not to get him irritated or annoyed, but it doesn’t help much. Even their tiptoeing gets him aggravated.

“Staring into the ground doesn’t make the ground open up and swallow you, you know.” Leo looks up.

He was so deep in thought that he didn’t even notice his brother arrive with his family. “Chris, I didn’t even hear you arrive here.” Leo says surprised while getting up from the bench.

“You were almost digging a hole in the ground with your staring, man.” Chris laughs and pats him on his shoulder. Jolena walks over and gives Leo a hug. He can feel her stomach push into his abdomen. He can’t help but lay a hand on her stomach when she pulls back.

“Already showing a little, huh.” He looks at her belly. “How far along are you now?”

“Seven weeks.” Jolena smiles. “My stomach is growing fast. Way faster than my other two pregnancies.”

Leo laughs, “it’s a special one then.” When he sees his niece and nephew, he crouches down and looks, and a broad smile appears on his face. “Who do we have here? Aren’t that my favourite niece and nephew?” He spreads his arms and they run into him, pushing him on his back on the floor and trying to keep him in headlock. “Help!” He plays along, “they’re attacking me! Help me!”

A few minutes later Fredric shows up on the porch as well. “I already thought I heard some voices.”

Immediately Elrich and Jana climb off Leo and jump into their grandfather’s arms.

Later that evening, when Elrich and Jana are already asleep in the guest bedroom, they sit together at the dining table on the porch. The weather is still warm, and the guys are drinking beer, Jolena some juice.

Chris sighs, “I miss this. I wish we made more time for these kinds of things. Maybe even Nick could come by with Alicia and the kids.”

Leo shakes his head. “Nah, then it will most definitely stand out that dad and I don’t have a mate. This is fine, this is great.”

Chris takes out his package of cigarettes and takes one out. He throws the package on the table and looks at Leo, “want one?”

“I quit, remember? Don’t tempt me with that.” Leo looks at him with a raised eyebrow. “You should stop smoking too.”

“Why did you even quit? I thought you liked smoking so much?”

“I became head warrior and had to take care of my body to set an example.” He pulls up his sleeve and shows his biceps. “You know, you can’t buy these guys in the store like that, I have to actually work very hard to keep them.”

“That’s the good thing about being an Alpha,” Chris laughs, “I get those for free.”

“Not fair,” Leo pouts.

“Well,” Jolena rubs Chris’s shoulders, “I think it’s great that you quit smoking. I think it shows how strong-willed you are.”

Leo smiles thankfully at her. “Thank you, Jo.”

“You,” She gives Chris a shove, “you’d better follow his example and stop smoking too.”

Chris sighs, “you guys are no fun.”

They perk up their ears when they hear a howling wolf in the distance. They listen intently.

After a while, Chris sighs. “Don’t worry, it’s nothing. One of the teenagers thought it was funny to scare everyone by howling to the moon.”

Fredric smiles. “I can remember a time where a certain teenager hit his puberty and started howling at the moon every time it was a full moon. Gosh, I never had so many complaints from pack members as at those times.”

“You, naughty boy,” Jolena laughs and shoves her shoulder into Chris’s upper arm, “you made everyone upset because of your howling and made your father deal with that.”

Chris shrugs, “It was my way of rebelling a little. I really didn’t have the chance to be a rebellious teenager. Thank the heavens Leo didn’t take after me and started doing that when he was in his teens. He was actually an exceptionally good boy most of the time.” Chris grins.

Elianne smiles. Her father came with Thymen and her other brother Victor over to celebrate her birthday yesterday and tomorrow they’ll leave again. She’s officially seventeen now. Every one of her family sits together outside at the dining table. Light cords with little fairy lights are hung between the big beams of the deck. They’re talking, listening to some quiet music and enjoying each other’s company. It’s looking very cosy, this is a moment she’ll never forget.

She gets up from her chair and decides to go on a walk. The night is clear, the moon high on the sky and stars twinkle brightly. When she is out of the sight of the people on the deck of the house, she sees a dark figure standing on the dock, the little tip of a cigarette glowing in the dark. She walks over to see who it is.

“Little Elly, turned seventeen today, only one year to go and she’ll be fully available for every single male werewolf.” Brandon turns around with a smirk and takes a drag of his cigarette.

She stops dead in her tracks. Why didn’t she notice earlier that it was him standing here? Now she regrets coming here.

“Happy birthday, sweetheart. Sorry I didn’t bring you a gift.” Brandon smirks again, “although I could always give you the gift of being your first one, if you know what I mean.”

Elianne shakes her head and scrunches her nose, “No thanks.”

Brandon moves a little closer and raises his eyebrow. “What, am I that repulsive to you?”

“You’re not ugly, if that’s what you’re saying. But I already have a mate.”

He pushes a lock of hair behind her ear and looks deeply in her eyes. “Too bad. You know, I could’ve shown you that I am more than just looks.” He inhales deeply, moves his face even closer and sighs. “You smell so good, so pure, so feminine. Are you sure you don’t want to try your luck with me?”

When Elianne shakes her head, he shrugs. “Your loss, then, not mine.”

He moves away from her again and starts staring into the distance, taking nervous drags from his cigarette.

“What’s wrong,” Elianne frowns.

“Nothing.” Brandon shakes his head.

Elianne moves closer to him, she strokes his shoulder with her hand in a way to comfort him. “I can feel there’s something bothering you. Spit it out, now is your chance.”

“I don’t want to ruin your birthday, sweetheart. Just leave me be, I’ll be fine.”

“Brandon, I don’t care about my birthday. I’m here now, talk to me.”

He turns to face her again and looks sarcastically. “You’re willing to listen to my pathetic story, while you hate me to the guts?” He raises his eyebrows, “why? Why would you do this?”

“I don’t know. Everyone deserves a chance and if there’s something wrong I am always willing to listen to someone’s sorrow. Sometimes it helps and lightens the burden.” She shrugs.

“I guess I’ve turned into a bad version of myself ever since my mate died.” Brandon grabs another cigarette from a package in his pocket and lights it.

“Your mate passed away? I’m sorry for your loss.” Elianne hesitantly places her hand on his upper arm. “Is that why you are so bitter? So,” she clears her throat awkwardly, “so mad at me?” She gasps, “Is that why you don’t want me to challenge you and join the warriors? Because of your mate?”

Brandon pulls away from her, his soft moment is over, he is back to his harsh self. “Don’t look into the things too deeply,” he barks.

She shakes her head. He obviously is hurt badly.

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