The following days were mundanely uneventful. Things had seemingly settled down as Talon’s hopes of training the pack had begun. Pack Albrich’s wolves were starting to move in and help with rebuilding the burnt structures left by the most recent attack while some taught combat to young wolves.
Understandably, the people in the pack were not pleased with Talon’s decision to train them but they soon softened once he explained everything to them.
While Selena watched from the sidelines, she felt proud of Talon for raising his chin and leading his pack.
In so many instances, Selena saw their father in him. Despite the fact that they looked extremely alike, they also had the same mannerisms. Just like their father, Talon would often close his eye and grind his teeth while he contemplated his next move and then sigh heavily as if he just made a very hard decision. It’s in those kinds of moments that she admired him the most.
Selena pursed her lips and walked over to him.
“You seem preoccupied.” She spoke, knitting her brows together.
“Preoccupied?” he chuckled. “I guess I am. I may or may have forgotten to take into consideration that with pack Albrich here, it also means that I should have given our kitchen aids and cooks a bigger budget this week.”
“Really? It’s so unlike you to forget things.” She answered.
But then again, he was becoming a lot more forgetful recently. Because of Katie, no doubt. Selena made sure to never step her foot into that conversation and opted to go with the flow of her brother’s avoidance of saying his mate’s name.
“My head’s filled with other things. I’m afraid that I’m fully overwhelmed.”
Talon offered her an empty but endearing smile. He was trying his best to appear collected but Selena knew him will and that facade he wore was merely a thin layer of fabric that she saw through easily.
“I spoke with Joseph yesterday,” He looks at her. “He says pack San Ignacio also disavowed their affiliation with pack Morris.”
“And you’re telling me this, why?” She asked.
“Pack Morris is losing their support quickly. Doesn’t that bother you at all? I’d hate to think that maybe they’ll declare war upon our people. They’re even more terrifying as an enemy than the Remmingtons.”
Selena held herself back. That’s indeed a very troublesome dilemma and even more terrifying is that the idea wasn’t too far off. Talon had humiliated Nathaniel in front of his wolves and rejected Katie right on the spot.
But then, if he were to attack pack Highcliff she would see how much his words truly meant. Everything that he had spoken of in his office the day he rejected her, those flowery words of confession that still even now stoked the fire of disbelief of her emotions.
‘My virtues are my vices and my vices grow brighter because I know I can never be the man I want to be for you.’
There was truth in his eyes when he said those but how true was it? Selena wasn’t sure if she could easily gauge and separate the truth from the call of her heart and wolf.
If he were to attack them then she would know that his words were only empty and her heart would only shatter once again.
“We’ll be ready,” She whispered. “I guess, training our wolves is the real and only way.”
“Yes, but let’s hope it never comes to that. Nathaniel’s head might be askew but if he truly is an honorable man, he should not do something foolish especially when considering he’s left quite the dark impression on our lives.”
Selena nodded. “Right.”
Talon smiled at his sister. He pecks her temple with a soft kiss and glances at the transparent baggie that she was holding.
He knits his brows together.
“What’s the two tubs of ice cream for?” He asked. “Isn’t two liters of strawberry ice cream bad? And I had recalled correctly, you said you despised eating it.”
“Ah, it’s for Sebastian the kid you helped hide from me.”
His eyes widened.
“A request from your cousin that I needed to respect. Still, I’m glad that you know now. Sebastian’s a good kid though he’s pretty much terrified of me.” He frowned. “He thinks I’m a villain.”
“Well, pirates are the main bad guys in movies.” She grinned.
An annoyed expression appeared on his face and Selena immediately turned on her heels. There’s no point in egging him any further. Might as well leave him now to ponder his thought instead of staying only for her to suffer his wrath.
With a clean and small smile plastered across her face, Selena walked to the Rosewoods, the couple who was currently housing Francis and Sebastian. It was odd to her how Francis always denied being housed in the packhouse. She knew that Talon had offered him to live there multiple times but each offer was met with a steady and sharp, ‘No, thank you’.
She knew because when Talon had offered she had always interjected and said no to the idea. But it’s different now. She had made it up with him and she would be horrified if his reason for not staying in the packhouse was her.
Thankfully, the Rosewoods’ house was only a five-minute walk away from the packhouse. She began to hurry her steps as she worried that the ice cream might melt.
The cozy home greeted her eyes as the creme-colored paint job made her heart flutter with warmth as on the front porch, Francis crouched on the wooden stairs, his pants covered with the same color of the house. He looked tired but he smiled when Sebastian ran across the lawn while holding a paper plane up in his hand.
Mr. and Mrs. Rosewood were seated on the grass while next to each other, happily grinning as they watched the child run and giggle all the way.
“Good morning.” She greeted. The couple hastily stood to welcome her. “Oh, no please stay as you are.”
“Luna,” Lydia Rosewood smiled at her. “To what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?”
“I came to talk with my cousin and well to see my nephew and I also heard from a little bird that he likes strawberry flavored ice cream.” Selena walked towards Francis and sat beside him.
“Hmm, I wonder who could it be?” Mitch Rosewood chuckled at Francis.
“Ugh, to be called a bird might be the most disgusting thing I’ve ever been called us.” Francis glared at her.
“Hey, now. I came here with an offering of two liters of ice cream. As ordered, one of the little man and one of the frowning paint golem.” She chuckled.
Looking closer, he was covered with paint blotches. Even his dark hair had speckles of white sprinkled on it. It was unexpected how useful he was especially when Francis always struck as her as the wolf that would just sit and watch while he hawked over people. But seeing how much of a mess he looked like now, she’d rather hire someone else, a professional to do her job.
“First a bird now a golem, with a face like this? Woman, I make everyone swoon.” He rolled his eyes.
“You don’t make me swoon.” She answered.
“Because you’re my cousin. It would be weird if you would. Truth be told, I’d be a dilf if these people found about Sebastian.”
He whispered the last part and leaned to Selena.
“I’m a hot commodity, you know.” He grinned.
With a disgusted expression, Selena shook her head and glared at him.
“How could I forget this very horrid side of you.” She said. “I hope this doesn’t rub off to you know who or else I’m cutting your balls off.”
Francis drove his elbow gently to her side and gestured to the child who was coming their way. Sebastian’s bright blue eyes pinned to the ice cream amused Selena to the fullest as she adored the shine of his smile.
“Ah, look who decided to finally stop playing. Sebastian, it’s early morning and here you are smelling like a burnt chicken.” Francis gave his son a stern look and pressed his lips together.
The child ruefully pouted and glared back at Francis. Selena chuckled happily as she watched their exchange. No doubt they were father and son. Their resemblance was too uncanny to simply ignore now that she saw them standing side by side. Their eyes of bright and brilliant blue made her smile. If were not for his hair, the color of ginger red in contrast with Francis’s dark locks, their father and son relationship would be dauntingly obvious. Though it has only been a few days that she had known Sebastian as her nephew, she was already willing to do anything to protect the child.
“I’m a wolf! Not a bird.” Sebastian spoke.
“Yeah, whatever you say burnt chicken. Now, get yourself cleaned to a fresh pair of clothes, and don’t forget to put your dirty clothes in the hamper.”
“No.” He muttered and looked at Selena. “Miss Luna, please tell him I don’t want to stop playing. Please!”
Nervously, she glanced at Francis that was already glaring at her.
“Oh no, I can’t tell your brother what to do and not to do. Good children always listen to their older siblings, Sebastian.” She answered.
Sebastian’s face darkened. “But…”
“Okay, how about this. I promise to give you a mug of ice cream after you have lunch and dinner. Does that sound fair to you?” Francis raised a brow. “But, only if you promise to clean yourself and not get dirty for the rest of the day, got it?”
The child’s face lit up with happiness as he jumped enthusiastically.
Francis handed the bag to his son as the child ran between them. He was quick to grab it and happily entered the house while skipping. Selena was left speechless after the exchange. She saw the love in Francis’s eyes when he looked upon his son. She was proud to know that Francis had nothing but love for his son and the reason for his son’s existence was just the past.
“What’s that ridiculous grin on your face? Wipe that off. You look like you’re about to eat me.” Francis quipped.
Usually, his sourness would often make her frown. But on this occasion, she had only happiness in her heart.
“Wow, you’re actually a capable father.” She says.
“Thanks? I don’t know if that was a compliment or you just have really low expectations for me, but thanks.” He retorted.
“Honestly, I swear. You know your way with Sebastian.”
“Cousin, with children, all you need is compromise. Without compromise, all you will have is anarchy and chaos.” He grinned. “Trust me, I learned that the hard way.”
‘Speaking from experience.’ Selena thought. He’d only been a father for four years but he was already an expert.
Francis sighed and looked at her. “Thank you for the treats. Sebastian’s bummed out that we weren’t able to go to town and pick up some new clothes. I forgot I promised Mitch to help him clean and repaint the house today.”
“No problem. I promised you didn’t I? I’m just happy to see you’re doing well after all that’s happened.” She grimaced.
“Huh, how is Talon by the way? He hasn’t been seen around the pack for two days now. I’m starting to worry about him.”
“Me and you both.” She sighed. “I’m trying my hardest not to spill anything related to his mate. I know he’s hurting too and whenever I’m near him, I can’t feel his wolf. I just wish I can freely talk to him without opening wounds.”
Francis pursed his lips and turned to the sky.
“He’s a good wolf, Selena. You know how much of a bleeding heart he is, right? Always so compassionate and sympathetic. Maybe you should talk to him right now or else he might not be able to handle it all by himself.”
Even if he wanted to, how was she going to approach the topic? Even she had a problem of understand her own emotions and it was hard to talk about it especially when what her brother felt might be different from hers. She had a hard time speaking when she could barely speak up about her emotions. Simply, she was afraid that she was not the right person for the job. And in this case, she couldn’t not just jump into the situation just like what she did with Lively before.
“He probably won’t even listen to me especially when he’s tremendously busy with the pack’s new chapter.”
Francis wore an incredulous stare.
“You’re his sister, dummy. If he were to listen to anyone, it’s you.”
“But I don’t know where to start.” She answered.
“Start where you’re comfortable. You can’t always be that unsure of yourself, Selena. Sometimes, even if you don’t know shit, your comfort and opinion might be much more valuable than what you expect.”
Selena pondered for a few good seconds. Could it be that simple? Talking about relationships is not that simple and from what she knew, they were more complicated, complex even.
“Truth be told, maybe I don’t want to talk about it to him because I don’t want Kayla Marie in his life and I don’t want him to think about her. Is that too cruel?” She asked.
“Cruel? Not cruel. What’s the difference? It’s not cruel for you to want Kayla Marie to die or just for her to jump off from a cliff and into oblivion. She has hurt you and now your brother but for Talon who’s at the age where he too wants to start his own family, wishing that is unfair. He would look and feel better with a mate in his arms and quite possibly, a child.”
Selena widened her eyes. “He wants a family?”
“You can’t be that blind, Selena.” Francis shook his head. “Have you seen him look at the kids at the pack and how gentle he is with them? The answer’s right in front of you, in his face. It’s up to you if you want to see it or not.”
For a sick reason, Selena didn’t want to see it. She knew if she wanted it to happen then she was taking away her brother’s happiness. But to see Talon smile beside the woman who Nathaniel chose hurt more than anything else. She was selfish and there were no other words to describe it.
Her confidence and recluse lie under a veil of denial and that was where she wanted to remain.
“She’s hurt me and my wolf. I-I don’t know what to do if that ever came to be. I’d prefer other wolves to be with him just not her… All I want is to forget Katie and Nathaniel but I can’t.”
“I’m so sorry to tell you this cousin but you never forget, you just learn how to slowly let it go. Take it from me. The memories are still fresh but I pay no attention to it.”
She was afraid that he may be right. Forgetting someone like Nathaniel was like trying to freeze the whole ocean, utterly impossible. She had never had the chance to sit and properly talk with him without being under the influence of pain. If she had at least took the time to understand him, things would have surely turned differently.
“Selena, Francis.” Lydia took their attention.
“Yes, Mrs. R?” Francis stood, confused at the old woman’s worried expression.
Selena raised her head and stared in the direction where Lydia was staring. Wolves carrying their unsheathed daggers while they ran and rushed towards the pack’s main entrance.
It was then when Selena’s wolf woke up from being silent for days. Her heart rate spiked as she trembled and started walking, following the wolves who were rushing in only one direction. Her wolf howled and clawed in her walls as her sudden eagerness to see the man that her wolf longed for completely overwhelmed her. Even when Francis had screamed her name out loud, it was but a whisper in the wind when all that she could think of was looking into a pair of sorrowful gray eyes.
Her shaky feet moved and pushed through the crowd of wolves that gathered around the gate. Selena was well aware of the shimmering blades that were pointed to a group of wolves.
In the middle of the ring of bodies, three wolves stood. Winston, Lively, and then there was Nathaniel. Immediately their eyes connect and she left herself dip into his gaze. With no words, the first thing she could think of was why he was standing there, carrying Katie in his arms.
‘This is all wrong.’ She said to herself.
Katie said that when she was going to find her mate, then she would reject them. She should be happy with Nathaniel now, living their lives. But why is it that she remained lifeless in his arms and Nathaniel looked like he was about to hopelessly breakdown?
Nathaniel’s dark and gloomy expression urged her to move a step closer but before she could, a hand landed on her shoulder making her turn to face whoever it was.
“Cousin, stay,” Francis whispered as he gestured towards Nathaniel.
She turned her eyes back to him and instead, saw Talon. Even her brother who had only just appeared mirrored the look of dread that Nathaniel wore. She felt a noose wrap around her neck as she began to suffocate herself while holding back her tears.
The intensity brought my two Alpha’s faced to faced with each other drowned out any other emotions. All that surrounded them was a thick smog of uncertainty as both remained five feet apart.
“Alpha Morris, your presence here is not welcomed. Leave now before my men decide to think for themselves.” Talon warned coldly.
Selena’s eyes combed the wolves around her, seeing their hands tightened around their silver blades.
“Please, just listen.” Nathaniel croaked as she spoke, his pained tone hurting Selena even more.
“Listen? You’re asking too much after everything you’ve done.”
“I know,” Nathaniel answered. “I don’t deserve your attention nor your time but please, open your heart to for just one second and lend me your ears as the wolf in front of you has nothing to say nor offer but only ask-”
“Enough, Morris,” Francis spoke through the crowd and walked to Talon’s side. Selena was rooted on where she stood, stunned by her cousin’s brash action. “You dare step your feet through our borders after what you and your whore did to my cousins.”
Francis took an offensive stance and bared his blade while Talon vehemently shook his head and gently held his cousin back, giving him an assured look.
“My cousin is right. The thought of you stepping in here after what you put my family through was not what I expected. So, explain without dragging your words.” Talon says.
Once Nathaniel passed the lump lodged on his throat, he tightens his hold on Katie and whispered something into her ear. She couldn’t hear what he had said but she saw the way Katie’s lips curved into a deep frown while her eyes remained closed.
“My actions towards your family have been indeed incorrigible but please, help the wolf in my arms heal,” Nathaniel spoke.
“And why should I do that?” Talon replied.
“Because she is your mate and if you won’t do it for mercy then do it for any condition you plan on enacting.” He lowered his head.
Talon became quiet as he stared at Katie’s deteriorating body. That calmness in his eye while he remained stoic made Selena’s heart prickle with pain. She wanted to scream and tell her brother no.
If Talon would mark her, his wolf will stay inside of her until she marks him too and that was never going to happen. Katie loved Nathaniel and she wouldn’t sacrifice anything if it meant they ended up together. That was one part of why Selena readily let Nathaniel go.
When that happens and Katie refuses to mark Talon then he would lose his title as Alpha, becoming an outcast and thrown to the humans as he too would lose his wolf. There was too much of a risk and little reward.
Selena was ultimately wrong in the end. Nathaniel and Katie’s bond was not that strong. She understood now that her deflection and lying to herself did nothing good. But how could she make such a mistake when Katie and had proved and said all the things she needed to be assured?
Perhaps it was Nathaniel that was the problem and if so, then he had ultimately broken not one, but two hearts. Hers and Katie.
“Very well then,” Talon says. “If I mark her, then she is never to step out of our borders. She is to remain here forever and attempts to contact her will be turned down. She will abandon her life in pack Morris and build a new one here. And lastly, wolves of pack Morris cannot enter through our domain without speaking directly through me.”
The struggle in Nathaniel’s face was unmistakable. Selena immediately recognized it and felt a pang of hurt strike the chords of her heart.
“I accept.” Was Nathaniel’s short answer.
The two Alphas nodded at each other, sealing their conditions. Gently, Talon reached for Katie’s body, protectively wrapping his arms around her frame.
“Talon…” Selena whispered, making Nathaniel and her brother turn to her.
She wanted to say the words that ate her and stop whatever was going to happen but Talon only looked at her with silent words. She understood how he stared at her softly. He asking forgiveness and permission through his eyes. And with that, Talon sank his teeth into Katie’s neck. The female wolf let out a bone-chilling scream as she awoke and regain her consciousness. Katie sounded like she was on the brink of death while she reached for Talon’s face, wrapping her arms around his head. The mark’s pain made Selena’s body turn pale as she covered her mouth with her hands, tearfully pressing her eyes shut.
When she opened her eyes, Katie had Fallen back to sleep and Talon had begun cleaning the blood from her neck, using his tongue to remove any of the crimson stains that were printed on her skin. Katie completely melted in Talon’s arms and molded against his chest as if she belonged there.
Despite the dark and slashed heart Selena held, a bright and torturous gleam of happiness quietly shined in her brother’s eye.
Francis was right, Talon did look better with his mate in his arms. The sight took hold of her, putting her into a trance of perpetual anguish. Katie and Talon together looked peaceful but she could not say the same with Nathaniel’s passive look of stoicism.
Why was it so hard to understand him?
If only he let himself open up and show just a sliver of his emotions just like he did at his office, he’d understand how all of this felt for him.
But no, instead he wore such a silent mask that for Selena, his mocking silence had started to render her deaf.
“We’re finished here.” Talon turned his back towards Nathaniel and carried Katie into pack Highcliff.
While everything quickly phased in front of her, Selena found herself staring into Nathaniel’s gaze. Both of them look at each other intently, not breaking their contact. Nathaniel’s lips quivered as he tried to form a word but before he could say something, Francis pulled her away.
“Let’s go, cousin.” He says.
Francis swiftly whisked her away from the scene before she realized what was happening. She wanted to stay and hear what Nathaniel was going to say but she knew that hearing him out would also ultimately scar her. Instead, she mustered the strength to walk steadily without her cousin’s aid and followed Talon.