Due to their unscheduled stop, it had taken them an extra half an hour on the road.
After Spiraea had calmed down, she had been left feeling tired and embarrassed. There was a small part of her that wondered what had really happened, and how long she had been in hysterics.
She never remembered the exact moments- what she did or saw, it was almost as if she had completely left her body an empty husk. She had no concept of time in moments like that, but she could always tell by her state when she found herself again.
Sometimes she had guessed that it lasted for days. On those days she usually found that she had either soiled herself, or by courtesy of Marianne whenever she could, had been changed into fresh clothing.
The girl decided that it probably hadn’t been too long considering they were still in the car, and the sun was still fairly high in the sky.
She avoided Vincent as much as she could in the confined space of the vehicle, her embarrassment and shame not allowing her so much as a glance in his direction. Eventually her eyes began to droop, and her body demanded she rest.
Vincent could smell the sharp, acidic scent of her emotions. It practically polluted her own fresh floral scent, he didn’t like that. He didn’t ever want her to feel ashamed or embarrassed around him, no matter the situation.
It also didn’t please him that she seemed to be distancing herself more than usual. He was going to be there for her, even if she didn’t want him to be.
He watched as her eyes began to droop, momentarily taking his eyes off the road to take her in. He shrugged off his jacket as best as he could, laying it over her curled up form.
Spiraea tensed, though any apprehension left her body after a short second. It was strangely an unconscious comfort for her to be shrouded in the crisp scent of mahogany and cigars- a scent that was purely Vincent.
The intoxicating scent, coupled with the sheer exhaustion of her body and mind, was enough to send the girl into a much needed sleep.
Her soft snores filled the space between them. If he didn’t have to keep his eyes on the road, they would’ve been completely fixated on her. He wanted to feel the reassurance that she was beside him.
He didn’t even think, as his palm reached across the small space. Snaking underneath his jacket to rest comfortably on her warm thigh.
If she had been awake there would be no way in hell he could’ve done anything so bold, however in her unconscious state, her body welcomed the comfort of her other half. Her reaction just as instinctual, as her fingers covered his own linking their hands softly.
They stayed that way for the remaining two hour drive. Vincent was admittedly driving faster than he was ought to out of his desire to be back in his pack with his mate.
Initially he had hoped that they would spend the private time together in the car to talk, and bond with one another but it wasn’t hard for him to see that Spiraea had to trust him before she began opening up to him.
From the way her body reacted to him, he didn’t have much to do, except prove to her waking mind that he was worthy. Simple.
The road became rougher as they began to approach the packs boundaries. The sharp jolts of the rocky terrain causing the small girl to whimper as she was roused frightfully from her rest.
For a moment she had thought that she was back in Damien's territory, being forced awake by one of those cruel men.
It was the soothing hand on her leg and the peaceful silence of the car that made her realise that she was safe.
She probably should’ve felt uneasy. Being in a confined space with a man she hardly knew- a man she hardly knew that had a hand on her thigh.
Any other person in that situation would have gone running for the hills, or felt uncomfortable at the least but that was because any other person was not Vincent’s mate.
Spiraea was only slightly alarmed at her lack of response to the contact. She was still partly terrified of him, she had seen how quickly he could get angry and that frightened her; she didn’t know whether he would hurt her if he got angry enough. It wouldn’t be the first time, so she could probably handle it but that didn’t mean she wanted to be around another violent man.
In the short amount of time she had spent with him, he had only treated her with soft fondness but who could guess when that might end. She wanted so desperately to have a guard up against him because it had become instinct to her - a survival mechanism- because if there was anything more frightening than being a slave again, it was being free.
“How was your nap little one?” Vincent asked, His tone both soft and affectionate. The hand on her thigh flexed twice before he pulled it away completely to seatback on the steering wheel.
Spiraea felt a strange pang at the loss of contact - she liked his hands on her, it was comforting to her. She wanted so desperately for him to touch her again, to ignite those strange but amazing sparks that only he could make her feel.
She tried to hide her disappointment, instead turning her attention to her hands which started to play with the jacket Vincent had placed over her. If she concentrated hard enough, she could smell his scent - whether it was due to the jacket or the fact that her was less than a metre away from her.
“Um, it was fine, alpha.” She all but mumbled, if Vincent didn’t have impeccable hearing he probably wouldn’t have heard.
“Please little one, call me Vincent.” As much as the beast in him loved having his little mate address him by his title, he wanted her to feel comfortable enough enough that she could address him as an equal.
“Okay,” she nodded, though didn’t say anything more. Vincent was somewhat disheartened by her shyness, but part of him understood that there would always be a degree of discomfort for her to address him as an equal.
“We’ll be arriving at the pack soon,” Vincent both felt the need to inform the girl as well as wanting to prolong their interaction. “My pack will be eager to meet you but I know you aren’t ready for that yet. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do. ”
Spiraea felt a degree of fear, and confusion. She didn’t know exactly what this man expected of her, why would she have to meet his pack? Why would they be eager to see her?
She didn’t think she’d ever be able to stomach meeting an entire pack of wolves, especially if they were anything like the wolves she had met before.
“What do you mean, eager to meet me?” The small girl murmured quietly. Usually she would stir in her thoughts much too afraid to actually speak but her confusion was far too great. Besides Alpha Vincent seemed to be rather mild mannered around her, and there was even a small part of her that liked hearing him speak.
He parked the car outside of a modest cottage, somewhat hidden away by some trees. It was charmingly rustic, made entirely out of wood- its small porch extending into the forested space around it.
The hum of the car died, filing the space with a charged silence instead. Vincent turned to the girl, a look of confusion then understanding passing over his features as he connected the dots in his mind.
He unbuckled his seatbelt with a small breathe trying to think how best to explain what he knew to the girl.
She was already frightened, and full of confusion so the last thing he wanted was for her to feel even more threatened by not knowing what was going on. Vincent also didn’t want to overwhelm the little thing, especially considering where she had come from, his biggest concern was her health. Was it better to keep her in the dark instead if risking her mental health or would not telling her only make things worse?
It was one if the most confusing and difficult decision he had ever had to make - forget all the treaties and deals he’d ever been involved with as an Alpha. Neither decision seemed to have a winning solution.
He looked over at the girl, she looked so small- too small- in the seat beside him. Her face contorted in anxiety as she waited for his next move.
“Little one, you are my soul mate.” He told her part of the truth. Judging by her furrowed brows, he supposed she was having a trouble making sense of the whole thing.
It was understandable- mere construct of having someone made to complete you was something most people would struggle to comprehend.
Suddenly her entire mind was whirring with uncertainty. Sure, his explanation did provide some semblance of clarity to all the strange feelings she had around him. However, she could help but doubt everything that she felt- how could she possibly be made for anyone, especially him.
Vincent could practically see the gears turning in her head as her emotions spiked. He could sense some of them as they leaked through her pores- and the ones that didn’t were written plainly across her face.
“Don’t you worry little one, we’ll take things slow.” He reassured her as best as he could, “the most important thing is making sure you are happy and healthy.”
He got out the car, walked around to her side and opened the door for her. He gave her little more than a encouraging nod before the girl unhooked her seat belt and cambered out.
She stood there taking in the beautifully crafted house. It reminded her of Vincent somewhat with its rough but cozy features. Would this be her home now? It was somewhat strange because like the man beside her, she could actually imagine living there with him— and even being happy.
Just thinking of the possibility wracked her with guilt, for she had been taught well enough that she was not good enough to deserve happiness. Though before any kind of spiral could blossom from her thoughts Vincent had her attention once more with his soft words.
“Come now little one, time to get you settled in your new home.”
He had taken their bags from the backseat of the car, carrying them all one handed with an impressive deftness. His free hand pressed warmly against the small of the girls back, gently guiding her forwards.
The girl in question, Spiraea, wanted to feel alarmed at the action- she wanted to feel something about the whole situation but she was eerily contented with the whole thing.
As much as she hated it, she still liked the feeling. She wasn’t used to being calm, and it was a pleasant feeling, one she didn’t mind feeling; she only wished that it was something she had chosen for herself.
The inside of the house was very similar to its exterior. Very much rugged with a hidden charm. It was an open plan, with plenty of space and as soon as she walked through the door Spiraea could tell that there hadn’t been too much thought into the decoration of the interior.
There was a staircase to her right leading up to a second floor, but to the left was an open space which was somewhat arranged as a living room. A stone fireplace stood on one end of the area, a few mismatched sofas dotted around the space.
She could see straight ahead where the living room joined into the kitchen. From where she stood it looked far more coordinated but still hectic, though she was too afraid to actually move.
Vincent watched her carefully trying to gauge her reaction, though the girl didn’t give much away besides her obvious anxiety. He knew it would take time, but he knew that the day would come where she fell right into place and this house would become her home.
First though she would need to get settled.
His hand grazed her back with an innocent gentleness, causing her head to snap back to his. She seemed startled, but not entirely afraid of him. He had been making a mindful effort to try to be as soft as possible around her- especially how much he had sacred her before.
“I’ll show you to your room,” he added a small twitch of his lips in an attempt to smile, though to Spiraea it was more frightening than comforting.
“My room?” She asked hesitantly, it was an honour and privilege that she never really had before.
Vincent nodded, a part of him not even wanting to understand her confusion lest he get angry and frighten her again. “Follow me.”
He led her up the stairs and down a short corridor before stopping in front of a door second to the end of the hallway. He pushed open the door to reveal a modest sized room, furnished with a large wooden framed double bed, a chest of draws and a large wardrobe.
It pained him slightly that she wouldn’t not be sleeping with him, but he knew she still wasn’t ready for such intimacy. He gave her an encouraging nod, standing by the doorframe watching her move cautiously around the space.
“This is your room now, feel free to change it if you don’t like it. Anything you want little one- it’s yours.” He crossed his arms as he leaned against the frame. He loved the look of awe and wonder that painted her features.
Spiraea couldn’t believe that she had so much space, and Alpha Vincent said it was hers! A great chasm of emptiness filled her, but it was a happy emptiness because now she had a place that she could call her own.
Her fingers brushed cautiously against the wooden handle of the wardrobes before she turned to look back at Vincent with a wide eyed amazement.
She hadn’t realised that he was still by the door. It made her feel even more protected in the room- like it was truly hers and nobody else could taint it. He was allowing her this space, and it was only for her.
“We’ll have to get you clothes to fill that wardrobe but that can wait for now.” He gestured her back over to the door, and in her newfound feeling of freedom and joy she obliged without a thought.
“This is my room,” he pointed at the door beside hers before swivelling around to the door opposite. “And that is the bathroom.”
The girl nodded her understanding, eager to return to to her haven. Vincent could see the enjoyment that she felt of having this new space, it was a great consolation that he had made the right choice.
However he knew that the challenges they would have to face were only just beginning. A part of him worried that maybe the Goddess had made a mistake, would Spiraea really be capable of facing the trials ahead? She was after all, simply a human in a den of wolves...
As quickly as the thought came, he shook it away. His little mate, though not strong in the way most would think, had an inner strength that had guided her thus far. They were fated together for a reason, and no matter their path he felt blessed to have found her.
“I’ll let you wash up, then we’ll have dinner- we have much to discuss.” He spoke, inwardly wincing at how authoritative he sounded. The guilt worsening as he caught the small flinch that involuntarily shook the girl’s body.
“Yes Alpha,” Spiraea spoke quietly, lowering her head away from his.
His finger tipped her chin back up to his, glistening brown eyes locked with his. His thumb brushing her face tenderly as he corrected her, “Vincent. Call me Vincent. ”
For a solid minute, Spiraea felt as though she had the air knocked right out of her. The strange tingles soothing her, as a calmness swept across her. She nodded, before she could even stop herself.
“Okay, Alp- Vincent.” She managed to breathe out, she wasn’t even sure how.
With a satisfied nod he pulled away and retreated back down the stairs, leaving her to ruminate with all that she had on her now buzzing mind in the sanctuary of her room.