Days became weeks, and weeks became months, two months exactly. Two months was too much time for Nathaniel to feel as if there was still something missing inside of his chest.
Even after much time has passed, he still wasn’t able to pull himself out of the rut he dug himself. His wolf was still not able to communicate himself and Nathaniel doubted it would talk to him soon.
Unfortunately, as he functioned as an Alpha with an absent wolf, he was receiving pressure from a lot of wolves in his pack. The ones most vocal about his predicament were wolves from his council or to be more precise, his father’s. The wolves were part of Jacob’s old council, friends, and business partners. One such council chair belonged to his absent mother. Eliza had not made any public appearances since Jacob ran away from home and although Nathaniel was worried, he respected Jacob’s decision to cool off far away from them.
As everyone from Nathaniel’s council entered his office, he noticed Lively enter. She had no business entering the meeting but he couldn’t bear to say otherwise as Letty was grasping her mother’s collar.
He stands from his seat, glancing at each wolf before speak.
“Welcome, everyone.” He says, greeting them cheek to cheek.
The weight of the room was unmistakably heavy. All of them looked as if they had something to say. Though he had already predicted as much. He had breached several agreements not only from other pacts but also from the wolves his father considered as comrades.
“Nathaniel Gordon L. Morris,” Thalia Bently, his aunt looked at him sternly. “Where’s Eliza?”
Nathaniel jumped, his cheeks aflame with embarrassment. It’s been ages since his full name was uttered by someone and his aunt was the only person who does it. Even he had avoided using his name.
He brushed his unease with a lopsided smile.
“She’s not feeling well today and she asked to be excused.”
“Not feeling well? We are all not feeling well, Nathaniel.” Thalia spat.
His smile quickly fades as he brought his shoulders back. His aunt was a very shrewd woman who hated his father’s choices, in addition, she also abhorred Nathaniel, Jacob, and Eliza. Her spiteful endeavors were always put on hold when Jacob Senior was still alive but now that he was gone, Thalia had free reign to do so whatever she wanted.
“I know, Aunt Thalia. I apologize.” He says.
“Apologies are not well-appreciated here, nephew. Especially with the climate you’ve caused.”
He flattens his lips, unwilling to speak. Any kind of response from him would be silenced. It was better for the woman to lose some steam before he spoke and it wouldn’t be wise to talk back now when three other wolves were in the room.
“Jacob would be very disappointed, seeing your less than agreeable situation. No mate? For crying out loud! Look at Joseph Albrich, twenty-two and he has already three children. And let’s not forget three packs leaving pack Morris. Of all the wolves you chose to mess with, you chose the Highcliffs. Their wolves might be weak but their hold in our world is big. This is the same reason why I was against your useless of a mother from marrying Jacob. That lecherous, half-witted wolf should just fall off a cliff and die. And I can’t believe he took her back after she became pregnant by another man and the worst part is, you let that bastard child live in the pack!”
Nathaniel gritted his teeth, gray eyes blazing in fury.
“Yes, my mother has indeed made mistakes and so have I. I stand here in front of you to receive your final verdict for my actions not to hear you berate and degrade the woman who gave birth to me. So, forgive me auntie if I am brazen enough to talk back after listening to a tactless wolf who clearly lets her anger of the past shadow the current affair. And don’t you dare call my brother that word. I will not tolerate it if anyone with my blood is disrespected.”
Nathaniel stood in place. His father’s comrade stares at him with awe while Thalia simmered, face flushed with unrelenting rage.
“You dare speak to me at that tone of voice?”
The encounter escalated too quickly though Nathaniel didn’t mind at all. He was ready to lose a lot more things if it meant he was going to protect his loved ones.
“Thalia,” a thunderous voice warned.
Her flummoxed expression grew.
“He insults your wife and you side with him?” She exclaimed.
“Your actions and the words you speak my love will always warrant consequences. Observe decorum, please and let’s not thread on even thinner ice, wife.”
Andre Bently was not a man to be trifled with. Among all his father’s friends, he was by far the most important. Jacob and Andre grew up together as best friends and everything his father knew, Andrew was in some ways involved in it too.
Nathaniel was desperate to gain an ounce of their trust back, especially Andre who’s aid was the most beneficial.
“As you have stated, we have come up with a definite proposal for your recent actions towards the pack. We are but observers and your actions will always reflect on the pack. You are kind, Nathaniel but you are also naive. It has come to our attention that your philanthropic efforts have been quite the money spender recently and as your balances would suggest, you’re loaning out money from the pack reserves which are not supposed to be touched unless for extreme conditions. This is why we have decided to put you on a budget. This way, you can spend and loan money to your heart’s desire without tampering with the reserves. A hundred thousand dollars monthly should suffice as suppose to your lofty spending of three-fourths of a million.”
Nathaniel raised his brows. He wondered if there was a mistake with the decision. She hadn’t expected his punishment to be so light when he was prepared for something more grievous.
“What! That’s no punishment. That’s a slap on the wrist.” Thalia countered. “And you cannot decide on your own.”
Andre nods, disdain overflowing from his eyes.
“This decision was not made only by me, right?” He spoke.
Andre put out a clear message that anyone who said no was going to suffer his wrath. That stoic expression he wore, the bright gleam of his amber-tinted eyes, and the energy his wolf permeated through the air were all simply signs.
The other wolves in the room stayed silent, unnerved by Andre’s obvious unspoken threat.
“Now, that’s settled. Everyone, please vacate the room except me and Nathaniel. I have something to say to the boy and it requires privacy.”
Thalia’s huffed, leaving the room with a stomp on her foot. Then followed the other wolves, with Lively being last to leave after gesturing to him that she was going to wait for him.
Nathaniel eased himself, breathing deeply as Andre took his seat, crossed his legs, and knitted his fingers above his knee. The man knew how to intimidate and Nathaniel was easily unsettled, though not by him but because of his intentions.
He has been in meetings several times before and he knew that it didn’t end that way. Meetings like these were supposed to take hours, not in a matter of minutes. Nathaniel was sure that whatever the reason was, it would be far more important than a meeting. His only wish was it wasn’t as bad as he thought it was.
“Please, Nathaniel. Relax.” Andre chuckled. “I don’t plan on striking you.”
Nathaniel sighed. “I’m sorry, sir.”
“Don’t mention it. Would you mind?” He gestures towards the decanter filled with liquid amber sitting on a pale of ice.
Nathaniel obliged and pours him half a glass of whiskey.
“Oh, what about you?” Andre raised a brow as Nathaniel hands him his drink.
“My wolf is still recuperating and I have no tolerance when it comes to alcohol. I’m afraid that one sip will turn me drunk.” He answers.
“Ah, yes. Losing your mate is hardly an enjoyable experience.” Andre shook his head. “Believe me. It took me two years to get over rejecting my mate in favor of Thalia.”
Nathaniel’s heart stopped for a second. If what Andre was saying was true, then Thalia was a big fraud. She had always chastised his mother for being married to his father, going as far as to scream and hurl volatile accusations towards their family.
“I was not aware aunt Thalia and you weren’t mates, I mean destined that is.” He says.
He took a seat in front of Andre, amazed at how the old wolf finished the drink with one swig and without drawback reactions.
“Ah, yes. My father paid a great fortune to cover that up. My marriage with your aunt is arranged by your grandparents and my father and mother. But I’m not here to talk about that, back to business, shall we?”
Nathaniel composes himself. Here comes the news that was going to break him. He hadn’t thought that this day was going to get worse. He only assumed that his punishment would come which, to be honest, did not seem like a punishment at all.
“Don’t worry, it’s not bad or anything I wanted to talk to you about Jacob, your father.”
“Yes,” Nathaniel pursed his lip. “What about my father?”
“I assume you know of your father’s exploits in Europe? He provided a huge sum of money to a small but growing pack there and their Alpha wishes to repay Jacob’s gratitude. Of course, it has was arguably years ago since your father made the kind gesture, the Alpha wishes to return the favor multiplied over the years.”
Nathaniel was perturbed, shocked in disbelief. His father never mentioned such a notable achievement and it made him think about other things his father was hiding from him. His befuddled state pursued as Andre took three envelopes from under his well-worn coat. Andre slides the envelopes over the table.
His fingers glazed over the envelopes addressed to him and his younger brother. They were his father’s handwriting and it brought sad memories of the past to see them once again. His lungs were constricted as he held back his bereft expression.
“When did he left this?” He croaked.
“Your father left this to me three years ago. He asked me to give you these once something was to happen to him. And I believe this meeting of ours is long overdue.”
He cleared his throat. He decided it would be best to skip the letters addressed to him and his brother, not ready to learn his father’s thoughts, and instead, reached for the envelope containing the cheque. Nathaniel was speechless as he stared at the amount indicated in the cheque. He had never thought that someone could put this many zeros in a cheque. His eyes wandered lower seeing Andre’s name printed on the cheque under his signature.
“You’re the Alpha my father helped all those years ago?” He spoke in uneven breaths.
Andre simply nodded.
“Precisely,” he says. “Jacob was very hesitant on accepting this so I figured you might want to pick up this offer of mine.”
His eyes widened.
“If my father declined to accept this, what kind of wolf will I be if I took it? Forgive me, Mr. Andre. But I will not accept this. I don’t wish to disappoint my father even further.”
He tucks the cheque back in the envelope and hands promptly handed it to Andre. The old man grimaced.
“Please, boy. I would be gravely insulted if you don’t accept it.” He says. “This is just a measly amount of money to help you.”
“Sir, a hundred million dollars is not a measly amount of money,” Nathaniel answered.
He sat, his lips fixed into a determined frown. Money was not an issue to him and he could certainly hold off on helping his people with their financial problems for a couple more months.
Andre releases a long cumbersome breath and leaned towards him, placing the envelope back on the table.
“My best friend died an honorable man, he fought with valor and succeeded to build his life up. Despite it having bumps, he was proud of his two boys. But he was also a timid, coward. I knew your granddad very well. He taught your father to hate and never forgive anyone, but worst of all, to not show his emotions. But I know Jacob is more than that. Even if he had to conceal it, I know he loved your mother still even after she had given birth to your other brother. But the thing I applaud him about the most is his generosity.”
Nathaniel’s guilt rose.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Andre.” His gray eyes stray away to the window.
Andre laughs, causing Nathaniel to look at the man in confusion.
“You really are your father’s son. Stubbornly persistent but also honorable. Look, boy. I’m not going to stall this one for you. Take my money, I insist. My friendship with your father meant so much to me. His memory lives on with you, his successor. So please, accept this gesture as a token of my friendship with Jacob.”
The old wolf abruptly stood, surprising Nathaniel and giving him no time to react. Though Andre’s astute nod was a finality-driven gesture that Nathaniel didn’t dare to challenge.
He stood, grabbing the cheque from the table.
“I’ll accept it. But I’m not going to use it anytime soon. Thank you, sir.”
“It’s your money now, Nathaniel. Do whatever you like.”
He says as he grinned at Nathaniel. He exits the room, leaving Nathaniel to stare at the piece of paper in his hands, unsure of what he was going to do. Despite the daunting amount of money written on the paper, it was virtually worthless.
He takes the letters addressed to him and Jacob, placing them inside his desk along with Andre’s measly kind gesture.
Releasing a heavy sigh, he sits on his chair trying to find a moment of silence to try to think of his next moves. The deaths of the three wolves found on his border was still not solved. Turns out, getting permits to check security cameras took too long and he was not one to grease the process with favors. He wondered what would Selena say if she saw him now. To be honest, Nathaniel stood for minutes of a time, pondering what Selena’s thoughts would be to everyday things in his life.
Once again, the pulse of his heart quickened with the mere mention of her name.
He lied to himself, saying moving on would be a breeze. He realized soon after that his wishful thinking gave him more pain than good.
But even if he tried, Nathaniel couldn’t freely move on. As every time he remembered her, his heart constricts, and he would be reminded of the terrible things he has done to her.
It was half an hour later when Lively came back. Beneath the jarring tasks bombarded to him all at once, he still looked forward to holding Letty. At least, when he was carrying her, he could forget and pretend that everything was okay, despite it lasting for a few fleeting moments.
He paced right across the room and held the child as she was reaching up for him.
“Didn’t I say I was going to wait for you?” Lively asks, jabbing her finger to his side.
He smiles wryly.
“I forgot.” He confessed.
“Forgot about Letty?” She raised a brow. “Seems unlikely. She was giving you the googly eyes throughout the meeting.”
He smiled. “Oh, she was? Did you want something from uncle Nate, my sweet?”
“She just probably misses you. You’ve been sleeping in this office for days, Nathaniel. Your wolves hardly ever see you.”
He looks at her.
“I can’t rest now, Lively.” He grimaced. “I have a lot of things to do and finish. Proposals, requests, and recruiting new wolves. Plus, there’s also the unsolved murders of the wolves found on our border. Their families are hammering me down for results.”
“Ugh, those ungrateful wolves. You should hear the words they’re spewing out. They want results as soon as possible.” She shook her head.
“I understand. I want to find justice as soon as possible too but that’s not happening anytime soon. Humans have their way of solving things and since we are waiting for them to approve our permits. And it wouldn’t be that ethical to pay our way to solve our problems.”
Lively kissed her teeth in disappointment.
“Winston knows the district attorney, maybe we can do something about it?”
“Wouldn’t that be just as bad?”
He raised his brows.
“Not really. Winston saved him once in an accident and so he owes my husband a favor.”
“Can someone with that title really help us?” His voice was overflowing with reluctance.
“I know what you’re thinking. You can’t trust them too just like they can’t know about us. But you just have to go with your gut, okay?”
Nathaniel eased himself and nodded.
“Would you kindly tell my brother about this?”
“Yeah, sure.” She answered. “I just wanted to say thank you for standing up for Winston. One more word from that old crone and I would have socked her.”
“No problem. You know how he is, if he were here to listen to aunt Thalia’s drab, he’d cower away. I can’t let that pass when it’s not his fault he was born. Which reminds me, why are you here? You weren’t supposed to be in the meeting.”
Lively smiled. “I spoke with mother last night. She and I agreed that I would be her proxy for the meeting. I’m glad I went. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to see you hand Thalia her ass back.”
“You spoke with mother?” He gulped. “H-how is she?”
Eliza shamefully retreated to her room, not seeing anyone even Nathaniel. He worried that something terrible might truly happen and it calmed him to know that his mother at least was taking some visitors.
“Well, she hasn’t seen the outside world for two months and she barely eats anything, I also can’t feel her wolf.” She answers.
“As I suspected...”
“Don’t worry about your mother, Nathaniel. What you need to worry about is you. How about you?”
Nathaniel rolls his eyes, unprepared for Lively’s question.
“I’m fine, Lively. I just have a lot of work.” He kisses Letty, trying to divert his attention.
“Fine, eh?” Her voice dripped with disbelief. “If you truly meant your words, then why does your wolf still hide? It’s not going to move on unless you move on too. Though in some cases, the human might move on and the wolf might never recover. I’m just trying to figure out which is which for you.”
Her smug face made him groan.
“I’m neither.” He lied through his teeth.
“Do you miss Selena?”
“Even if I do, I shouldn’t. I forfeited the right to hold or think about her when I rejected her.” He answers.
Denial was not a loophole, it had many drawbacks and consequences. His heart raced, feeling the sting of Selena’s words again. If only time could be altered and he just braved himself to mark her immediately when he saw her, all of this might have never happened.
The only thing that stopped him from doing so was asking Selena’s permission and being responsible for Katie’s health.
Though, he was true to his words. He would have surrendered everything for Selena.
“Humph, I guess it’s for the better, Nate. Selena’s still too young.”
His knees weakened momentarily.
“She’s nineteen and you’re turning thirty next month. She needs time to experience things and maybe it just wasn’t the right timing when you two met.”
“She would have never been happy with me in the beginning. She was the one who wanted to reject me first and I felt her disdain for me even before she met Katie.”
“Because you were a jerk!” Lively exclaimed. “Her pack was just attacked and you wanted to mark her. And even when Alpha Highcliff begged you not to take her, you still did. Maybe that’s why she didn’t like you. Look, blonde-man. You’re not an asshole, I know that and you just act like old-man Jacob, who also acts like the king of pricks. But maybe turn down the strict, arrogant act, okay?”
“I couldn’t help it. My wolf took control of me and I let it. I wanted to have her too more than anything but I just didn’t know how or what to do about it.”
Nathaniel chastised himself. Selena’s arrival made him realize how incompetent and stupid he was in making decisions.
“So, you haven’t moved on from her, haven’t you?”
“I…I can’t. I know going back to her is impossible. The memories I have of her is her vile hatred of me.”
Lively patted his shoulders.
“Nathaniel,” she groans. “Move on or at least try to. I don’t want Selena to feel trapped anymore but I also don’t want you to go Lukas yourself.”
“Lively.” He stood, aghast.
“I’m serious. Even though we don’t see eye to eye, you’re still the reason why Winston’s a member of this pack and if it weren’t for you, he and I wouldn’t have met so, please try to strengthen yourself. I’m worried about you and so is Winston.”
Nathaniel stared at her, speechless and shaken. She was the toughest nut he knew and this very soft side of her was astonishingly odd. He softened.
“I never thought you would be able to say those words out loud.” He smiled.
She locked her jaw and kicked his knee. Nathaniel yelps though continues to chuckle.
“This is why I hate you.” She glowered.
“Okay, okay.” He says. “But, thank you for looking out for me. I’ll be ready when I’m ready.”
“Good.” Her tone spoke with finality.
Moments later, Nathaniel’s phone chimed. He arches his brow and passes Letty back to her mother as he fished for his phone from his pocket. He reads the screen, seeing Lilian’s name printed on the screen, and pressed the speaker before answering.
“Good morning, Beta.” He says, glancing at Lively.
“Sir, we were attacked. Two men on our side are wounded with wolfsbane and one from pack Remmington is dead.”
A rush of adrenaline flood his veins.
“Did I hear that right? An attack.” Lively’s eyes widened.
Nathaniel understood why Lively was confused. It wouldn’t make much sense for pack Remmington to attack now after the great loss they’ve incurred unless this was just a ruse and they were planning something bigger.
“Where are you now?”
“At the Southwest gate. There are currently ten of us here and the enemies have long retreated.”
“Have someone send the wounded back and wait for me there.” He instructed.
“Sir, that’s not all. It’s Alpha Remmington, we have him captured.”
His fingers were electrified, thrilled even. Finally, his pack was going to have the honor of striking down the Remmingtons and will finally bring justice to all the deaths they’ve caused.
“Understood.” He cuts the call, shaking his shoulders. “You heard that Lively. Tell our guards to mobilize, we have a meeting with Alpha Remmington.”
“Yes, Gordon.” She smiled and promptly left.
Nathaniel let her insult slide with a laugh as he rushed to his desk to retrieve his dagger but just as he was doing so, his phone rang. With no hesitation, he answered.
“Lillian, what’s the update?”
A voice whispered. In a flick of the moment, he weakened and draws his phone back to see whoever was calling.
It wasn’t his Beta and not a phone number listed in his contact. Sadness cripples Nathaniel’s senses. He promised himself to not go back there. To no longer feel this deep, darkness, hollowness whenever he was with her and the guilt that came along with it. He closed his eyes shut and whispered;
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