C H A P T E R T W E N T Y
It only took Rylee a few minutes to drive to Carla’s house.
Now we are standing on the front porch, waiting for the door to be opened after Rylee pushed the doorbell.
She grabs and holds onto my hand, threading our fingers together, and it feels like the best, most natural thing in the world. Tingles dance across my skin, and it feels like electricity is shooting through my veins all over my body. Warmth covers every inch of me, and I cannot help but to smile. I look over at Rylee, and she is smiling wide at me in return. No doubt she is feeling the same blissful sensations that I am.
We only stand there for a few seconds before the door is flung wide open and a woman, I’m guessing in her upper 30’s low 40’s, appears in front of us. This must be Carla. She stands only an inch or two shorter than Rylee. She has an athletic frame like most werewolves do, and her medium length light brown hair and light blue eyes give her a youthful look.
She pulls Rylee in for a hug a little too forcefully, causing her to let out a little squeak. My wolf lets out a low growl, letting her know we are prepared to protect our mate if the need arises.
She quickly releases Rylee and puts her hands up before putting a hand out for me to shake saying, “Sorry. I didn’t mean any harm to your luna, Alpha Ryker. That is just how I always greet Rylee. I love her as if she was my own daughter. I would never hurt her.” This causes my eyebrow to raise in question, but she continues without noticing. “I’m Carla, which I am sure you figured out by now. It is a pleasure to meet you, finally. Poor Rylee has been waiting a long time for you. I am so glad she finally met her mate. I’m sorry James cannot be here to meet you. He is at work right now.”
I shake Carla’s hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Carla. Rylee has had nothing but nice things to say about you. I am sure she thinks of you as family as well.”
Carla blushes, nods her head, and glances over at Rylee. They both have smiles on their faces.
I am so glad Rylee had another wolf in her life to help her and be there for her. It gives me comfort knowing someone was looking out for her before I found her. She would have had a rough go of her transition if it had not been for Carla. I feel grateful that Carla was here to teach Rylee all the important things about being a werewolf.
“Oh my goodness! Where are my manners? Would you two like to come in? I didn’t mean to keep you standing on my front porch.”
With that, Carla moves to stand off to the side while holding the door open, allowing Rylee and I to step into her house.
“Rylee sweetie, would you please show Ryker to the living room? I will go grab us all something to drink. Is lemonade ok?”
“That’s lovely.” “Great. Thanks.” Rylee and I answer at the same time.
Carla looks between the two of us, smiling so wide I think it may cause her face to crack. Then she turns on her heal and heads towards what I assume to be the kitchen to retrieve the lemonade.
Rylee leads me to the living room, and pulls me down next to her on a small loveseat that comfortably fits us. Our outer thighs touch, and she is still holding onto my hand. I love it. The simplicity of this innocent intimacy is like nothing I have ever experienced before.
As we sit and wait, I look around to take in the living room. It is quite cozy and decorated well. There is a soft, light blue rug in the center of the room that contrasts nicely with the dark wood floors. The light gray and cream colors around the room help add to the warmth. As I continue to look around, I notice the numerous framed pictures that sit around the room. A majority of them have Rylee in them. I raise an eyebrow at that. Interesting.
I turn towards her, and give her a quick peck on the lips just as Carla arrives with a tray filled with a pitcher of lemonade and three glasses. She sits it down on the coffee table that is between the loveseat we are sitting on, and the chair Carla sits on across from us. She then pours us each a glass, and I take a sip gratefully just as the women both do the same.
Carla then looks at us for a few awkward seconds, smiling, before clearing her throat.
“Rylee, I am so glad you finally found your mate. I can tell you’re happy and in love, and that makes me so happy to see. If anyone deserves a mate, it’s you. You are honestly the best person/wolf I have ever met. Your soul shines brighter than anyone else’s I have ever met. You are going to make a great luna. Ryker, your pack is so lucky that you found her. You all just hit the jackpot with her.”
Carla gives us a sincere smile and Rylee squeezes my hand, causing me to look over at her. She is smiling too, but has tears in her eyes.
“Hey,” I say softly while wiping her cheek with my free hand, “those better be happy tears.”
“They are,” she says, nodding and squeezing my hand again.
I smile and turn back towards Carla.
“So Ryker, tell me a little bit about yourself. Rylee told me almost next to nothing besides the fact that you are the alpha of the Blue Lake Pack in Colorado.”
I clear my throat. “Well, my name is Ryker Black. I am an only child. My mother and father were a great alpha/luna couple. Our pack absolutely adored them, and they are terrific parents. I took over my pack at age eighteen from my dad Alpha Ryan Black. As you know, our pack is the Blue Lake Pack from Colorado. We get our name from the lake that is located within our pack boundaries. My pack is a fairly decent size, covering most of the state. I am twenty-six, so I have been looking for my mate, which just so happens to be Rylee here, for the last eight long years.”
I smile, and turn towards Rylee, giving her another peck on the cheek. She blushes and smiles as Carla nods and smiles at us.
“Sounds like you had a great upbringing, and great role models to look up to. Rylee deserves a strong, loving, and supportive mate. By looking at you and hearing what you just said, I am confident you will be. Please do not prove me wrong. I would hate to have to pay you a visit just to kick your ass.” Carla exclaims while winking at me.
I chuckle. It is shockingly brave of her to threaten an alpha, but I know she is just teasing me. However, I am sure the subtle threat does hold some merit all the same.
“You have nothing to worry about, I can assure you.”
I turn my gaze from Carla to Rylee, and lift her hand to my lips to press a soft kiss to the back of it. I then look back at Carla while cradling Rylee’s hand in both of mine.
“I already love her so much. She is my whole world now. I will show Rylee how much I love her every day. I would never hurt her. In my pack, women are equal to men in every way. We respect our mates and place them up on a pedestal. We protect them with everything we have. Mates and our families are the single most important things in our lives above all else. She will always come first to me. Plus, if I would ever hurt her, which I never would, there would be line of wolves waiting to serve me justice, especially with her being their luna.”
Carla and Rylee both laugh at that. I’m glad they think it’s funny. It was a joke, even if it is true. Everyone in my pack would be ready to take me in a fight if I disrespected their luna, and my father would hand me my ass. No one needs to worry about that though. I would never hurt Rylee. I love her way too damn much.
“So Rylee, you never did tell me how you two met.” Carla’s eyes flit from mine to Rylee’s.
Rylee giggles nervously. “Funny you should ask.” She says, looking at me from the corner of her eye.
I clear my throat. “Actually, I am Chloe’s fiancé.” I tell Carla while bowing my head in shame.
Carla’s eyes widen and her mouth hangs open. The look on her face is that of pure shock.
“What? As in Rylee’s sister, Chloe?” she sputters.
I nod my head, with a grimace on my face. Rylee looks upset, which I understand. Carla is speechless.
“Yes. Our situation is definitely less than ideal.” I sigh in frustration.
“That’s the understatement of the century I think.” Carla frowns. “How did this happen? What are you two going to do?”
I tell Carla the whole story from the beginning. From being drawn to Chloe at the airport due to Rylee’s scent, to why I decided to propose, and coming here to visit Chloe’s family, which is how I met Rylee, along with everything in between.
I also fill her in on our plan that we have in place once we are back in Colorado. I tell her that Rylee is leaving tomorrow, and that we will meet up once Chloe and I arrive home. I let her know that I am going to end my relationship with Chloe, and Rylee and I will explain that we are werewolves and mates, what that means, and show her if she requires proof.
Carla is stunned into silence the whole time I am speaking. Her eyes are wide and her lips parted in shock. After I am done speaking, she blinks her eyes a few times, closes her mouth, and stares at me for a few seconds longer before she looks at Rylee who has a sad look on her face.
I squeeze Rylee’s hand to reassure her. She still has not let my hand go, and it makes me feel better. She turns her head to me, gives me a small smile, and then gives me a tender kiss on my cheek. Her sweet gesture makes my heart skip a beat, and I cannot help the smile that spreads across my face.
“Rylee, sweetie, when you were traveling last year looking for your mate, I suggested for you to check the packs in Colorado and Wyoming thoroughly, first. How did you miss Ryker? Especially with him being the alpha? He should have been one of the first ones to greet you when you arrived at his pack.”
Carla’s words make my eyebrows shoot up. Why would she tell Rylee to check those packs specifically?
“I did. Ryker’s pack was one of the first packs I visited. I actually spoke to his beta Carter because, ironically, Ryker was here with Chloe, meeting our parents.” Rylee lets out a humorless chuckle that makes my heart sink.
Our situation is dreadfully ironic. Our own tragic love story really.
“Hmmmm, that is quite ironic, and sad in a whole new twisted way. I am glad you finally found each other though, and that you plan to make this work between the two of you. A mate is the greatest gift you can be given, and to give that up would truly be a travesty. I am here if you ever need me. Both of you. However, if there is any couple that could make this situation work, it’s the two of you, I have no doubt.”
Carla smiles at us, and I am hit with a revelation. Her smile. Her smile just gave it away. I look at Rylee, she is smiling too, and that confirms it. How has Rylee never seen this before? How could Carla never tell her?
I furrow my brows.
“Carla, would you mind if I asked you some questions?” I ask, because I am curious what she will say.
“Sure, fire away.”
Carla gives me permission. Time for Rylee to get some answers. The truth, once and for all.
“Tell me about yourself, Carla. How did you end up here? There is not a wolf pack in this area, and the closest one is over a hundred miles away. I know you are married to a human, but what led you to being the lone wolf in this area until Rylee turned of age? Start from the very beginning. Don’t leave anything out.”
Her smile falters, and now she looks nervous. She glances at Rylee before turning her eyes back to me. Rylee mirrors Carla’s reaction, her smile now set in a grim line across her face as she looks back and forth between the two of us. I know Rylee wants to know what I am getting at, but she doesn’t interrupt. She just sits there and listens.
Carla takes a sip of her lemonade, looking down at the ground. She then clears her throat before looking me straight in the eyes as she speaks.
Normally that would be seen as a challenge, but in this moment, I think it is merely Carla trying to exude confidence that she doesn’t entirely have. A trait she picked up from humans undoubtedly. She has been away from a pack for so long, she has started to lose her knowledge of proper etiquette and mannerism.
“I’m going to say this because it is time, not because you’re pressuring me to reveal the truth.” She states, still holding my gaze.
I nod my head telling her to continue. Her eyes wonder over to Rylee who is staring at Carla in confusion.
“Rylee, sweetheart, there are some things I need to tell you. For your safety, I withheld the information I am about to say. However, since you found your mate and an alpha no less, I have confidence that you are in good hands and will be safe now.”
Rylee furrows her brows, still staring at Carla without saying a word. Therefore, Carla sees this as a clear sign to continue. She clears her throat, meeting my eyes, and then locks on to Rylee’s.
Carla rubs her palms up and down her thighs nervously and clears her throat again.
“Rylee, I truly hope what I am about to tell you will not affect our relationship. That is my biggest concern. Just please try to remember what I am about to tell you, I withheld it from you, keeping your best interests in mind.”
Rylee just looks at Carla, unsure where this is going. Rylee squeezes my hand, and I nod at Carla to continue.
“Ok. I am going to start at the beginning. I am from the Rocky Mountain Pack of Wyoming. Right over the border from Ryker’s actually. They are neighboring packs. I actually met you, Ryker, a few times when you were small and I was a teenager. My father was the Alpha. My brother then proceeded my father for the alpha position once our father stepped down.”
My shock overtakes my face as my eyebrows climb towards my hairline. I have heard the stories. I know where this is going. I school my features quickly, turning to look at Rylee. Her eyes are wide as she takes it all in, but she still says nothing. She is sitting stock still, her hand still clutching my own. Her increased breathing is the only sign of the effect this is having on her.
Carla continues. “My brother, Dillion, took over the alpha position at 18, after meeting and marrying his luna, Stella. She was the daughter of the beta of our pack, and they were perfect together. They were the most amazing alpha couple a pack could ask for.”
“Were?” Rylee croaks out. Her face is now a little pale, and I wonder if she is starting to work out where this is going. I rub soothing circles on the back of her hand with my thumb.
Carla nods sadly, tears welling up in her eyes before she looks down at the ground.
“They were. Unfortunately, they were ambushed twenty-three years ago while on vacation over Memorial Day weekend. They had visited the closest pack to where we currently are, the Smoky Mountain Pack. As Ryker mentioned earlier, it is over a hundred miles away. They met with that pack’s alpha and luna before taking a few days leave to enjoy time with their newborn daughter that they had with them before they were to return home.”
Carla looks up into Rylee’s eyes and a tear escapes down her cheek.
I hear a sniffle, and look over at Rylee who now has tears dancing in her beautiful eyes.
“You’re my aunt, aren’t you?”
She whispers it so quietly, if we didn’t have better hearing capabilities, we probably would not have been able to hear her.
“Yes, sweetheart, I am.”
Carla gives Rylee a sad smile that sends a jolt through my heart.
They both start crying and Rylee bolts upright, releasing my hand, and jumps into Carla’s arms. Carla immediately wraps her arms around Rylee in a soothing motherly type of way. I can see the love she has for my girl, and it is comforting.
“Why didn’t you tell my sooner?” Rylee sobs, shaking, clutching fast to Carla. “You know how bad I wanted to know about what happened to my parents and to me.”
My heart twists and I just want to hold her tight in my arms and let her know everything will be okay, but I just sit and watch as Carla holds Rylee, consoling her, assuring her.
Carla squeezes Rylee to her harder, holding her as close as humanly possible. They are both crying, and I am at a loss of what to do. I just sit here in silence and let them have their moment. If Rylee needs me, I’m here.
After a few minutes of tears and holding each other, Rylee and Carla both lean back, separating from one another. Carla holds Rylee’s hands in hers. Looking unsure as she looks into Rylee’s eyes.
“Why were my parents ambushed, and why did my family never claim me, allowing me to be adopted?” Rylee sniffs. Tears are still creeping down her cheeks.
“Sweetie, I am so sorry. About everything. I hope you can forgive me. Forgive us all. We wanted you. Believe me we did. We were so worried when we learned about the attack. By the time we got here, you were already placed in the Rogers’ care. Being werewolves, our babies are not born in normal hospitals and we cannot obtain the proper identifying paperwork right away. Unfortunately, you were so young, the documentation we needed to claim you as our family hadn’t been obtained yet.”
Carla lets out an anguished sound as a few more tears escape down her cheeks, and I can feel my heartbreaking for them both.
“James and I would have loved nothing more than to take custody of you and raise you. However, since we were unable to identify and claim you, that was impossible for us to do. Instead, we decided to stay behind while the rest of our family returned home to take care of the pack, and we followed the Rogers back to their home, here to this town, with you in tow. We have watched over you since your biological parents were taken from us, and sweetheart, we will always be there for you. If you’re moving to Colorado to be with Ryker, then we will move back home to Wyoming, as there is nothing else left here for us. That way we will still be close by for you. All your family will be. I know they cannot wait to see you again.”
I can see Carla squeeze Rylee’s hands in reassurance as Rylee nods her head and smiles as a few tears continue to leak down her rosy cheeks. “I would love that” she sniffles out.
I will gladly accept this as I know Carla’s family and pack, and they are a good bunch. We have a solid alliance with them already and I am sure Rylee will love having her biological family back in her life.
Carla continues. “As for the attackers, we are not sure who they are or what their motives were. We do not know if they knew that you had been with your parents or not; if they were trying to get your parents or you. Therefore, we had to keep you safe. We did not want to drawl any unnecessary attention your way. We are positive though that they targeted your parents for reasons we are still trying to figure out. Because of this, and for fear for your safety, sweetheart, that is why we kept this all from you. To better protect you. I’m sorry we had to do it, but to keep you safe, I would do anything. I’m just glad that you know now. We are not sure if there is any ongoing threat to you, but we were always prepared for an attack, and stayed vigilant. I suggest you be the same. Just in case.”
“I understand,” Rylee reassures Carla with a small smile, “thank you for telling me.”
I will get Carter to look into the attack and investigate if there are any current threats to Rylee that we need to be prepared for.
Carla sighs and squeezes her eyes shut before opening them and holding eye contact with Rylee.
“Sweetheart, there is one more thing I need to tell you.”