With Hands to Hold

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Spiraea stood beside Vincent with a wide smile on her face, though in reality, it was more of a grimace. The man had one arm firmly wrapped around his mates waist whilst the other, held open the front door in which his entire family stood behind.

The party consisted of four people, all taller than the girl- the sight alone made her want to shrink away. She didn’t, whether it was because Vincent was keeping her upright with his weight beside her, or because she didn’t want them to sense her nervousness, the girl herself was unsure. Nonetheless she was determined to keep up the ruse.

“Ciao,” Vincent greeted joyfully. “Come in!”

He stepped aside, Spiraea following his movements fluidly allowing his family room to step into their home. The first person that stepped through the door was a slender woman, taller than Spiraea but still relatively short. The girl guessed her to be perhaps 5′4. She was beautiful with dark olive skin and muddy green eyes that contrasted with her skin. She had sharp cheekbones, a straight nose, all framed by thick, long, black hair that fell in curls waves half-way down her back.

“Ciao, I’m Vincent’s mother, Emilia. Its wonderful to meet you.” Her lips were pulled into a bright, friendly smile took over her features as her eyes took in Spiraea. “You must be Vincent’s Soulmate.”

“Si Senora, that’s what he says.” Spiraea blushed lightly, she looks to Vincent with a shy smile before turning back to their guests. She was going to introduce herself when an imposing presence came behind the other woman- Emilia.

The woman in question barely took notice, softly chastising the girl. “None of that, just call me Emilia.”

Spiraea’s attention was behind her. The man was huge, almost as tall as Vincent. Spiraea sucked in a breath at his frightening dominance, she had the urge to bow her head as was beaten into her for most of her life. She was taught not to look up at powerful men, and this man was definitely a powerful man.

Vincent’s hand on her hip flexed gently, rubbing her side soothingly. It was all she needed to remind her that this was not her past, this place was different and she had Vincent here to protect her.

She looked up the man, quite literally- he was 6′2- though still shorter than Vincent by a few inches. Where he was shorter than Vincent, he was wider; his shoulders so broad he had to inch sideways through the door frame. His years as Alpha had served his physique well, even at the age of 50 he still looked as healthy a young man; though Spiraea supposed that was also down to the fact that he was a werewolf.

“Sean Russo,” He stuck out his had to the small girl. She sucked in a breath at the sight of his open palm, trying not to flinch when he reached forward. He was confused when she didn’t immediately take his hand, instead she looked up to his son for approval. Only after he encouraged her with a small nod and a warm smile did she put her shaking palm into his for a firm handshake.

Vincent grit his teeth not looking forward to explaining Spiraea’s behaviour later. Male wolves were protective, especially over family. His family would be livid, never mind Damien trying to start a war with his pack, his parents would probably single handedly start and finish the war once they found out.

Vincent would have been glad to be by their side in doing so, if it were up to him, he would be the one to kill Damien himself. He had thought of a few ways already. Unfortunately, inciting a war with no allies, and over a personal matter would be most inappropriate; he had to be rational. He would wait until the time came.

There would definitely be hell to pay. Sean Russo was a fiercer wolf than most, he got that from his father. In fact, he had inherited most of his his fathers traits- all except his tendency to throw around his mate and children. Growing up with that violence had made him an advocate against such abuse, any cases within his pack was punished most severely.

Lastly a skinnier man- perhaps a few years younger than Vincent- stepped through the door with a little girl sat in his arms. She was sucking her thumb as she rested her head against the man’s shoulder. He looked very much like Vincent, if he hadn’t been obviously younger, Spiraea may have confused the two as twins.

“So, this is my big brothers mate.” He smiled playfully, the action reminding her of Fletcher and his mischievous, childish nature. “I’m Ellis. I would shake your hand but they’re a little but full at the moment.”

Spiraea smiled in understanding with a small nod. She looked up at Vincent to looked back her with an amused, almost expectant smile- that was when she realised that she hadn’t yet introduced herself.

“It’s nice to meet you all, I’m Spiraea.” She mumbled, had they been anything other than what they were they probably wouldn’t have heard.

“Oh, what a beautiful name,” Emilia gushed. She took in the girls attire, her face frowning slightly before she hid it with a smile. The jumper was the nicest thing she owned, but it was still not amazing- suddenly Spiraea felt uncomfortable under the woman’s attention. “And you are so gorgeous too! I hope Vincent has been looking after you well.”

She nodded shyly watching as they all began to take off their coats. With dinner on her mind the girl decided to excuse herself: “I’m going to get everything ready.”

“Go ahead little one, we’ll join you in the kitchen.” Vincent nodded, as he took his mother’s coat.

She placed everything on the countertop, everything was still warm as she had made sure to leave the pasticho in the oven along with the plates in time for when the guests arrived. She had learnt the trick whilst working as a maid in her teens, anything less than perfection or an impeccable standard was unacceptable.

The plates were warm as she laid out the table, placing the dish with the pasticho in the centre along with the homemade bread and a salad that she quickly tossed together. The sound of approaching footsteps made her tense with nerves, she pretended to be busy, fiddling with the cutlery and napkins when Vincent came in with his family.

The little girl who was asleep a few moments ago, was now awake and talking animatedly with Vincent from where she rested on his hip. Vincent smiled at the little girl, the sight making something clench in Spiraea’s heart. He was good with children; she had never considered it before, but seeing Vincent made her realise she didn’t mind the thought of having kids, especially with him.

She quickly shook any such thought from her head- even though she had accepted him, they were still very much in the early stages of their relationship. She didn’t want to rush things with him and end up hurt, besides if they were really soul mates then they had all the time in the world. Regardless, she couldn’t deny that the sight made her realise that she could see a long term with Vincent, even if they did have a while to go still.

The little girl gasped loudly, her green eyes sparkling wildly as she stared over at Spiraea. She babbled incoherently at Vincent who simply chuckled agreeing with whatever baby speak she was saying. Spiraea doubted he really understood.

The rest of Vincent’s family trailed in behind him, all of them cooing over the small girl. They all seemed to be quite close; it was slightly unsettling to watch from the outside. Spiraea knew she didn’t have to be envious, she and Vincent had already spoken about this, but she still felt a sadness that she never had anything like it.

Ellis saw Spiraea watching Vincent with his daughter and smiled coming to stand beside the girl. “That beauty is Larissa, she’s my daughter.”

“She’s beautiful,” Spiraea smiled genuinely. The little girl really was, even at the tender age of two it was obvious that she would be a heartbreaker; her large doe eyes were a bright green shone against her pale skin. Her dirty blonde curls only made her look more like an angel.

“She gets that from her mother,” Ellis smiled proudly before a sad look of nostalgia painted his features. “She died giving birth to our baby girl.”

“I’m sorry,” Spiraea spoke sincerely. She had seen the first hand the pain of heartbreak, she only hoped that Ellis didn’t go down the same path her father did. Considering all the love that surrounded the Blake family, it didn’t seem likely- such a thought was consoling to the girl.

“I’m not. Annika and I had 4 good years together, and she gave me our baby girl. Of course I wish she were still here, but I can’t change what happened- I suppose it was her fate.” Ellis smiled sadly.

He had plenty of time to come to terms with the death of his mate, his only consolation was that she hadn’t left him alone. At first, it all seemed like too much, her death and then looking after Larissa- there were so many times he wanted to end it all. He would dream of her often and she would say the same thing: ‘be happy, and look after our girl’. After that, he poured himself into looking after his daughter, and was beyond grateful for the love and support of his family.

Ellis cleared his throat from the small lump that threatened to gather there, and simultaneously catching everyone’s attention. “Let’s eat shall we, I’m starving.”

He took Larissa, whilst Vincent came back beside his mate to comfort her. He could see the conflict on her face- something about her expression knew the loss of love, he could practically see her wanting to pour her heart out for his brother. She felt his pain as her own, she grieved for his loss alongside her own.

“Yes, let’s,” Vincent invited everyone to take a place at the table. And so they all sat down to dinner.

“Spiraea you are an exceptional cook!” Emilia praised as she took another forkful of food with an appreciative hum. “I’ve never had Lasagne like this!”

“It’s actually Pasticho, it’s a Venezuelan and Italian fusion.” Spiraea said. “My parents used to cook it.”

After spending nearly two hours with Vincents family, she was beginning to felt more at ease. They were kind people and seemed genuinely pleased with her presence. The girl didn’t actually speak much, unless directly addressed, but she was very much amused and enjoyed taking in their familial banter.

She learnt a lot- Larissa, though only two was very much a chatterbox, she loved to talk and sing in her own language. Ellis said that one day she would be a musician. She got that from him apparently.

As children Vincent and Ellis would pretend they were a musical duo and make music in the living room of their family home. Spiraea chuckled at Vincents small blush- she had only ever see him be a serious Alpha, or a sweet mate, never a careless child. It was more than amusing.

Ellis was a doctor in the pack, though he was more of a specialist- his work hours were minimised so that he could look after Larissa. His mate, Annika, who had died was two years older than him, and the sister of the doctor Analise.

She had learnt that Emilia and Sean had been together for around 28 years; they had found each other after a fateful encounter. Emilia was from Italy and after a holiday in the UK where she met Sean, she decided to stay. She was lucky that she was also a werewolf and didn’t have to explain to human parents why she suddenly wanted to move away.

Emilia was an artist, and a young mother having birthed Vincent at 20. This didn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams, she enrolled in an online course and after a few years received a BFA in Painting and Studio art which she used whilst she served as Luna; she began running art therapy workshops for members of the pack who were struggling.

The mention of the title ‘Luna’ encouraged the conversation to turn to Vincent and Spiraea, much to both their displeasure.

“When are you going to introduce her to the rest of the pack?” Sean asked, he didn’t want to rush either of them but the pack had noticed their Alpha’s sudden social distance and they were becoming curious. It wouldn’t be very long before they were demanding to know what was happening- it was their right.

“At the moment, Spiraea’s health is our first priority.” Vincent spoke, taking a small drink from his glass of wine. He was stalling, knowing that his comment would incite further inquiry and was now kicking himself for mentioning it. “Once she feels up to it, she’ll meet the pack.”

“There’s no reason that you can’t prepare her from now.” Emilia suggested wanting to find the middle ground between her father and her son. Ever the peacemaker his mother was. She turned her attention to Spiraea with an inquisitive look. “Do you know what a Luna is Spiraea?”

The girl had heard the term, and after meeting Luna Leora she figured they were good. Although she wasn’t entirely sure what they did. She shook her head as she spoke: “Vincent told me, but I’ve forgotten.”

“That’s okay,” Emilia comforted her. Vincent also gave her extra comfort with a hand rubbing her knee soothingly. The woman thought of the best way to explain to the girl without frightening her. “Well, the Luna is there to support and advise the Alpha.”

“You’ve been doing that already baby,” Vincent winked at her placing a kiss to her forehead. He wanted to reassure her as much as he could, he was worried that she would get overwhelmed with the responsibility.

“The Luna is also helps with the emotional responsibility of the pack. You help support them through service.” The woman spoke, she had learnt a lot in her own time as Luna. “The pack and its leaders are in unity, they lift each other up.”

Spiraea suddenly felt as though a weight was rested upon her shoulders; how could she possibly look after the emotional responsibility of the pack when she could hardly handle her own emotional baggage.

Besides what service could she possibly give that would help a pack of wolves, she was a human among beasts, and a broken one at that. She had no place among a pack of wolves.

Then the first tear fell.

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