Derek stares at me for a while after I’d asked about his energy before a smirk spreads across his face. “What do you mean?” He asks. His light tone and forced surprise warns he’s playing dumb.
“Really? I jumped through all your hoops and you won’t even answer one question?” I snap.
What an annoying ass!
“It’s never just one question,” he grumbles, crossing his arms.
“I’ll make it just one, but you have to answer it fully, no cop out. Agreed?” I put my hand out to shake. He eyes me suspiciously, but eventually shakes my hand.
“One,” he growls. “Ask.”
“What’s your deal?” I ask, leaning back into my seat. A satisfied grin spreads across my face as annoyance flickers in his eyes.
“What the fuck kind of question is that?!” He growls, glaring at me.
“I had one question, I had to make it count,” I reply sarcastically, raising a brow.
“Seriously, you expect my life story for nothing in return,” he snaps, dumbfounded.
“Technically, I paid up first with that dog and pony show, and you agreed to one question answered fully.” I cross my arms as a triumphant smirk creeps on my face.
“She’s got you there brother,” Chris says, barely able to keep his face straight, while Sara just laughs.
“Care to point me in a direction for what you actually want to know?” Derek says almost a growl.
“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to be accused of cheating by asking an additional question.” I’m more than happy to beat him at his own game. He just glares.
“Your energy. How are you able to mask it so fully and how is it so strong?” I ask, furrowing my brow.
“What do you mean,” he teases as I glare. “How much do you know about Guardians?”
“Not a thing. Well that’s not true, I know you’re one, and that they have serious skill and power if the bow you had them send me is any indication,” I trail off.
“What makes you say that?” Derek asks, raising a brow. He leans in and turns his attention on me fully, like I’m suddenly very interesting again.
“When the bow came there was a crest on it, I recognized it, but was struggling to place it. Wasn’t until later that I remembered a sort of brand on your chest when you attacked me. Also the guards addressed you as one, and Grandmother.”
“But you don’t feel right, you’re not a normal wolf, you hide your energy most of the time but it leaks and doesn’t match. It’s like light spilling under a door in a dark room,” I trail off. His eyes go wide in surprise for a moment before he catches himself, like I found some deep secret.
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re trouble?” Derek growls as he narrows his gaze at me. He seems completely annoyed by my assessment.
“Often,” Jace scoffs.
“You’re not wrong though. Guardians are a security pack for the royal family. Their charge links them directly to the royal bloodline they are supposed to protect and the Goddess blessed them with added strength.”
“I didn’t know there were royal wolves. But then again there’s a lot I don’t know,” I trail off sadly.
“The royal family is said to tie back directly to Selena and Luca, the Moon Goddess and her mate, the first Alpha. The story goes that she made Luca first and although others came after, he was special to her and she watched him more than any other. Somehow, he won her over and they had a son, the first royal, a wolf with divine blood. The bloodline has been sacred ever since guiding our entire race.” He pauses, gauging my reaction.
When he sees I’m keeping up, he continues, “The Guardians were made to protect the bloodline. With great power comes powerful enemies determined to pull them down. Over the years their enemies became more clever and cunning. A single girl brought the entire royal family to their knees,” Derek says, visibly tensing at the memory.
“She somehow got close to the queen and killed her before the king’s very eyes. In his shock, he was taken by surprise and killed easily. The crown prince who was to be the next king was murdered in his sleep, as was his sister the princess.”
My heart aches for their suffering. I can’t imagine losing your mate, least of all before your very eyes. “So, the bloodline ended?” I ask, captivated by the story
“If that was the case, the Guardians would be no more,” Derek says with a wink. “There’s still an heir out there somewhere, waiting to come of age and claim the throne.”
“So, there’s a lost royal?” I ask hopeful.
“Lost isn’t quite the right word, hidden more like. When the time is right they will come forth and claim their birthright.” His eyes shine at the thought.
“Do they know?” I whisper, lost in thought.
“Yes and no, they know who they are but may not realize exactly what that means. They’ll have to grow up too soon as it is, who are we to rush that any more then we have to?” He leans back and studies me. “What else?”
I look up at him confused. “That was it. I just wanted to know what Guardians were I suppose. Just wanted to understand your energy.”
“Hmm, I expected more,” Derek muses, surprise written across his face.
“What do you mean?” I’m not sure I appreciate his angle.
“I expected something about why my baby brother is Alpha. I assume you know the Alpha title usually passes to the first born male.”
He’s leading me and I don’t like it one bit. “I didn’t know that, but that’s your business and Chris’s, I try not to pry. If he wants me to know, he’ll tell me on his own,” I snap.
Derek just laughs. I look at Chris, who is trying to look impassive but the amusement dances in his eyes.
“It’s no secret baby, everyone in the pack knows,” Chris says with a warm smile.
“Well if you want to tell me that’s one thing, I never even realized it was unusual for the younger brother to take over.”
Then again there’s a lot I don’t know about his world.
“I guess talking about families is just one of those like first or second date things that we glossed on by,” I say with a laugh.
Chris sits back, looking thoughtful for a moment. “Go out with me,” he says strangely determined.
“Excuse me?” I laugh.
“I’m serious, I want to take you on a real date. You deserve that and so much more,” Chris replies with a winning smile.
“Guess I’m gonna break my last rule about not dating,” I giggle.
Derek just looks at us confused. “Don’t ask,” Chris cuts him off before he can begin.
“So do you have any other siblings I should know about?” I tease.
They both laugh. “Nope, Chris came along and that was enough of that,” Derek teases.
“Please, you started acting out so much after I was born they swore off anymore,” Chris defends, raising a brow.
“What were they like? Your parents?” Suddenly finding out about Chris’s life has become super interesting. It’s strange to think you can get so close and know so little about someone.
“Mother was a free spirit, very kind and outgoing. Our father said he fell in love with her from afar, before she ever knew they were mates.” Chris looks so happy to talk about her, they must have been very close.
“Dad, on the other hand, was a hard ass. Don’t get me wrong, he was a good man but all business. He was training me to be Alpha from day one I swear,” Derek grumbles. “The only soft spot the world saw was for our mother.”
“What happened to them? I remember Jace telling me you guys spent a lot of time together like brothers after they passed,” I trailed off not sure if I spoke too much.
“They were murdered by rogues, when I was eighteen,” Chris trails off.
I reach for him, “I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have asked that.” My face flushes as I chide myself for being so nosey.
“It’s okay, baby,” he says with a sad smile. “If I had told you, you may have understood my history with rogues better.”
Suddenly I feel very guilty about pushing Jude on them all the time and frown.
“Don’t do that,” he says tapping my head. “Even I know Jude is nothing like them.”
“So you became Alpha at eighteen? Is that young?” I ask, changing the subject away from Jude. I really feel quite ignorant about their world, but you don’t know what you don’t know until it comes up.
“Not quite,” Derek takes over. “I came back when I heard of our parents passing. My relationship with our father had become... strained, so we decided I should travel and see how other packs worked. He wanted to make me into a better Alpha than he was, but I had the young wolf syndrome.”
I raise a brow at that.
Christ, I need a Werewolves for Dummies book to keep up.
“You know, want to cut your own path and make your own mark on the world.” I nodded as he continued. “At any rate, I put my business on hold, came back, took up the mantle, and we hunted every last one down.” His tone is so bitter.
Even though it happened long ago, it’s clearly still fresh.
“I was still a hot head. I left to tie up a loose end, I was planning on coming back and trying to be the man our father thought I could be,” he trails off. His tone is so sad and pained but it’s no longer for his father.
“Who was she?” I whisper.
All eyes snap on me, but I hold Derek’s gaze. His eyes swirl with more emotion than I’ve ever seen.
‘Too far.’ ‘I know, it just kind of slipped out.’
I was sure he wasn’t going to answer, his steely gaze never falters as he replies, “Yasmina.” The saddest smile spreads across his face just mentioning her name. “You would have loved her.”
“I’m sure I would have. What was she like?” I ask softly.
“Nothing like I expected my mate to be,” he says with a chuckle. “I always thought I would end up with some fierce, larger than life shewolf, but she was even better.”
“Now she was a helpless dove,” he says directly to me as an inside joke. “She was an Omega at the pack I was visiting. Quiet as a field mouse but the most beautiful creature I’ve ever set eyes on. Long raven hair, crystal blue eyes, snow white skin.” His eyes shine as he relives the memory.
“I found her just before I got word of our parents murder. I had to go, but I promised her I’d be back. We wrapped up as soon as we could and I went back to get her to bring her back with me.” Guilt flashes in his eyes as he thinks back to that time.
“Their Alpha was a cruel man however. Omegas were not treated like they are here, they were treated like the lowest of the low. Beat and used for whatever anyone wanted from them. He refused to let her go and when she tried to escape, he killed her in front of me,” Derek recalls, bitterly.
His pain hits me like a ton of bricks freezing me in place. Although it happened many years ago, the wound is still open.
“I’m so sorry Derek, I shouldn’t have-”
He cut me off. “She was a wonderful mate. I wish we had more time but it’s nice just to remember her,” he says with a smile.
“I was always too headstrong to be Alpha, still too wild. Maybe if I had my mate to temper me, or if it happened later in life things would have been different. But that wasn’t the case and, as unprepared as Chris was, he handled it like a natural. He was level-headed, a natural born leader, and the pack loved him.” His loving smile for his brother hides nothing for once. Only love, admiration and respect are present, no pain or bitterness.
“I relinquished my claim and gave them the Alpha they deserved. My path brought me to the Guardians in a roundabout way, and it has been the best fit.” Derek’s moment of openness is over and his guard is back up.
With that the topic is dead and conversations go back to normal. Everyone focuses on eating their lunch, but by the end my headache is back to full strength.
I get up and whisper to Chris that I’m going to go lay down for a bit. He eyes me suspiciously but finally relents and says he’ll check on me in a bit.
It isn’t a full migraine but it’s threatening to be, so I take some more meds and close the blinds and curl up to catch a few more hours of sleep.
A hand slipping around my waist brings me back to the waking world. The sparks dancing between our skin tells me it’s Chris before he even speaks. He nuzzles against my neck and brushes his lips lightly across my sensitive skin. “How are you feeling now?”
“Much better thanks,” I say smiling as I roll over to face him. “Think my headache is finally gone and some hot guy came to snuggle with me, what more could I ask for,” I tease.
“I wish I could stay baby, but I’ve got to head out on patrol, I just needed to check on you before I left,” he trails off sadly.
“Go.” I kiss him tenderly. “I’m fine.”
He raises a brow. “How are you going to snuggle up to me like that and kiss me, looking at me like that, then expect me to leave my bed,” he teases. “Derek’s right, you are trouble.”
He kisses me again, deepening it as he rolls on top. I melt into him, every touch and embrace has me a puddle instantly.
He pulls back growling, “fucking Jace is literally waiting outside the door for me.”
Instantly, I feel my cheeks heat up from embarrassment. “Then you better go before he comes in,” I tease.