Twenty Eight: Mortal Folly
In the eight-hour drive that Selena endured, she felt babied and got scolded a couple of times when Lively forced her to drink a liquid medicine that was supposed to help with the wound on her leg. The palpitating pain did disappear but it was in the cost of her tongue burning from a campfire soaked in a vat of acid.
She didn’t understand what was inside the glop she had just taken in her body, but it worked and she was thankful for Lively despite the urge to cut her tongue off.
The car pulled over in front of the pack house’s gate, the familiar facade causing a flood of unsavory memories to flood into Selena’s mind.
“Ah, finally. My ass has been killing me from all that sitting.” Lively grumbled, turning her tired gaze to Selena. “How are you holding up, honey?”
She looks at her leg.
“I’m fine, considering I’ve drunk a fill of jet fuel.” She jested but frowned immediately.
“The taste may be revolting but it’s very effective. Even I don’t know what’s inside it but it’s probably better that we don’t know. Ignorance is bliss, Selena.”
Selena nodded. Lively was right about that. What would have happened if she listed to her cousin?
She would be in the basement, still thinking of Dorran and worrying about Talon or maybe she would have been playing with Sebastian. Joyously laughing without a care, just happy to be unaware.
Lively steps out of the car, circling to aid Selena. The first breath she took was a chore. It didn’t feel right to be standing there. Especially when right across her was Francis still wearing handcuffs. Selena watched his stormy blue eyes fill with dread.
She took Francis away from Sebastian.
Her shoulders slumped, carrying the burden of betraying and hurting her cousin. But if he would talk to her then all she could do was support him fully. Maybe Francis was being incriminated but those three names that Beta Lillian uttered were very familiar.
Those were the wolves that went to Selena’s side, the same wolves who Francis told her to fight.
Even if they had concrete evidence and a witness, somehow Selena got the feeling that something was amiss.
Beta Lillian took Francis into the packhouse. But instead of going through the foyer like the rest of the wolves are, he was taken into a small storeroom.
Her heart prickled as the thought of Francis being treated roughly flashed through her eyes.
“My cousin, what’s going to happen to him?” Selena crumpled her chest while she leaned against Lively.
“The basics.” She says. “A few hours of grilling questions, we’ll let him sleep for a couple of hours and resume the questioning. If he’s uncooperative then we might be forced to use other means.”
She flattens her lips.
“Is there some way the interrogations can be delayed?”
“Well, you’re still pack Highcliff’s official Luna so you have the right to practice diplomacy but pack Highcliff and Morris are no longer in an alliance and your cousin shot Nathaniel so it’s going to be hard to convince Lillian not to stick a lump of burning coal up your cousin’s arsehole. And if that still doesn’t console you, Alpha Highcliff would probably be already gathering every vector he has to try and stop the proceedings to get you and Francis back.”
Talon would certainly be on his feet now. Maybe he’s already spoken with Nathaniel while on the road? There were too many possibilities that Selena didn’t want to entertain them all.
It was going to be hard to ignore Talon. With his persistence and her wavering emotions, Selena wished to not see her brother anytime soon.
She turns silent as Lively guided her to the packhouse. A prickling sensation on her back caused her to look up at the mansion. She saw Luna Eliza peeking from a window, immediately retreating when their eyes connected.
Somehow, she understood the Luna’s reaction. After all, Talon broke Nathaniel’s nose in front of the pack. The Luna must have hated her.
She shuddered to think what might happen if the Luna confronts her. But if that comes, then she of course needed to straighten her back and face everything.
Entering her room, Selena felt oddly warm. As if she was taken aback by some kind of friendly phantom, enamoring her intently, and silently. Though she surmised it was because of Nathaniel giving her wicked butterflies in her stomach.
Shaking her head, she tried to remove him again from her thoughts while Lively lead her to her bed.
“So, now that you’re here, one of our doctors will come and assess the gravity of your wound then I’m certain you’re going to receive a few staples and bandages but other than that, you’re fine.”
Lively comforted her with a pat on her shoulder.
“Uh, Lively. Can I ask about my cousin’s case?” She asks.
The wolf raises a brow but nods with an assured grin.
“Yes?” She answers.
“My cousin… I don’t know him that well, I know. But Francis has a son and I doubt he would do anything that puts their relationship at stake. Could it be possible that he’s being framed?”
It wouldn’t make sense for Francis to do anything to make him miss out on Sebastian’s life. He loved his son too much to jeopardize their relationship.
“I can’t say for certain, Selena. I do admit things are just a tiny bit confusing. Unfortunately, I’m out of the loop on this one, and well, this witness is not reliable. That old fart is very sketchy.”
“This witness, did they really see my cousin kill those wolves?”
“I’m not certain. I’m terribly out of the loop and only Lilian and Nathaniel know everything. And what I know is unfortunately classified information. But let’s just say a Remmington is involved.”
A Remmington? Pack Morris successfully captured someone from that family? But Francis is a Remmington too.
Suddenly, Selena was troubled.
It could also be a coincidence but Nathaniel’s option to keep parts of the matter a secret was odd.
“Sorry if that’s all I can tell you.” Lively shrugs.
She smiles lopsidedly.
“You’re only doing your job.” She says. “Thank you, Lively.”
Just when a storm of doubt started to brew inside of her, the door opened with a bang and Winston entered with a flushed and worried expression. Selena watches as he runs to his wife and pulled her face to kiss her.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Lively? I call you and you’re not answering. Texting is apparently beneath you too since you replied with a thumbs up after I checked in on you if you were okay. You are beyond frustrating but I also can’t live without you. I love you, Lively and if you still don’t believe that then I will kiss you with a force of a thousand waterfalls every day until you feel the same way I do.”
By the end of Winston’s speech, he was angrily fuming. His darkened expression was the complete opposite of the sweet words he had just uttered. Both Lively and Selena were speechless.
Selena felt she just watched and heard something she shouldn’t have and she sat in her bed, unable to move or to avert her gaze somewhere else.
Lively was pink all over her face. She bit her lip and whispered in his ears. Her words made Winston soft as he placed his forehead to hers.
“Well, I don’t feel like it.” He says. “I don’t know if you’re purposely trying to give me a heart attack or genuinely want to be with me. If I’m chaining you down, just tell me so I can be better.”
She chuckles and kisses the tip of his nose.
“I’m sorry if I made you feel that way and for not answering your calls and texts. I didn’t answer your calls and texts because I didn’t want you to worry and well, I guess that was wrong of me to do and I’m very sorry but that mistake shouldn’t make you doubt my love for you.”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry for being an arsehole. My mind can’t stop thinking for the worst. Especially when I heard Nathaniel was shot. I thought my whole world was crumbling down every unanswered call and text.”
She looks at her husband, her eyes dazed with longing.
“And you thought you could be better. You can’t, Winston. You’re perfect to me. Always have and forever will be.”
Lively pulls her husband closer and kissed him the same way he kissed her only moments ago. She pulls his tie while he places his hands on her waist, pulling her to him. But just as she was starting to unzip his pants, Selena cleared her throat.
Though the mere scene of them confessing their true feelings was truly a spectacle to watch, she wasn’t about to watch them strip and make love.
She had already been traumatized by Talon and Katie.
Winston became a shaky mess. His eyes stare at Selena as if she was a ghost.
“Selena… Have you been there the whole time?” He asks.
“Yes.” She answered shortly.
“Forgive me, I was caught by the moment.”
“No, please don’t apologize for saying you love your wife. It was quite…something.”
And by something, it was courageously brave and endearing. All the confidence in his mask was now nowhere to be seen and he was back to a more restrained and timid man. He kisses the top of Lively’s head and smiles awkwardly.
“I gotta go. I’m sorry for barging into your room, Selena. I should have known better.”
Winston turns for the door, giving Lively a quick peck on her cheek before he leaves.
“Well, that was a treat, wasn’t it?” Lively chuckles. She still looked flustered. “You know what’s great about being married to someone with a masters in literature? Is that instead of words, flowers come out of his mouth. Goddess knows there are not enough words to describe how I love that man.”
Selena felt warm.
“And I can see that he loves you too.”
“I know and I’m lucky. I should probably go too before he drowns in embarrassment. Let’s have dinner together, okay?” She cocks her head.
“Lively, can I ask for one more thing?”
“Of course.” She answers.
“If my brother comes, can you please not let him see me?”
If ever he does come, she had nothing to say to him. But for Talon, she was certain a slew of reasons was ready in his quiver and she wasn’t sure if her legs were strong enough to survive Talon’s will.
She hated that she was a pushover when it came to her family.
But hearing herself push Talon away made her feel like a stubborn child, unable to be reasoned with. And the thing is, she didn’t want to listen to a reason. She couldn’t risk gambling her resolve by listening to him.
“Of course. I’ll ask someone to post by your door. See you later, Selena.”
Selena was left alone to ponder her thoughts. Now that she was in a room with a closed door, she let herself feel relaxed. The egregious feeling Freed and his comrades were no longer stamped to her body. She forgot it the moment Nathaniel touched her body with his embrace.
She stares at the ceiling, confounded with different swirling thoughts and fears. The room as she left it was the same. Even her dress, the wedding dress that Talon had someone to remake for her was still hanging on the wardrobe’s door.
What now? She asked herself.
What now that she was back in pack Morris.
Of course, her primary objective was to find the truth of her cousin’s innocence then she needed to hide away from Talon. Hopefully, wherever Lively was going to take her, it was hundreds of miles away from pack Highcliff.
Selena gently rolls herself to her side to face the window. It was out of pure curiosity when she dove her hand under the pillow. She felt a single grain of hair on the sheets and retrieved it using his fingers. When she took a look at it, her emotions burst into unfathomable explosions.
It was a strand of short blonde hair.
Selena willed herself. It shouldn’t have meant anything.
But it did.
Suddenly, Selena heaved a heavy breath and dipped her nose onto the pillows, and wished she had her wolf back. If she had her wolf, she would be able to discern who the owner of the strand of hair is.
Though her heart didn’t need any explanation. She knew Nathaniel was in her bed and foolishly, she wanted to know how it would feel like to have him that close to her. To lay in her bed and be held throughout the night.
Would it really be that magically special or will it just be an exaggerated childhood lie?
Even now that he was someplace else in the pack, she still felt him. She was still wearing his shirt and in it, she felt the safest.
Why did she have to feel this way after she rejected him?
Selena wondered if she could ever have what Lively and Winston had. To have someone look at her with an undying love. And thinking about it now is useless. She chose to leave Nathaniel to keep her purpose.
That was her irreversible reality.
She let her hand rest on the other side of the bed, imagining, wishing she wasn’t alone.
Selena awoke the next morning feeling perturbed, hungry, and out of place. She had slept through the night and during her rest, the doctors came in and stitched her wound. They also left her a pad of painkillers on her desk as well as crutches beside her bed. Thankful, she tries her best to smile.
There was no time to relax. They would have probably started with talking to Francis, trying to link him to the murder case he was being accused of.
And if Francis was truly involved then she would be lost too. All she could give him now was a little faith.
She reached for her crutches and clumsily used them to support herself to the bathroom.
Once she was done slowly cleaning herself, Selena painfully put on a clean pair of tight-fitting knee-length shorts she used for jogging and a white shirt. It was a hassle to do so but she was happy when she was done, secretly thankful that she left belongings there, being spared of the hassle of looking for clothes.
She left her room, adjusting to the crutches. She had been in a freak accident involving a flight of stairs and her clumsy feet a couple of years ago, causing her to use crutches for a couple of days. But without her wolf, she might need weeks to recover from this.
Pack Morris’s hallways were gloomy, cold, and quiet. Selena passed through the carpeted hall when she heard her name being uttered. The hair on her back stood, recognizing who it was.
“Luna Highcliff,” Beta Lillian called for her name again.
Selena gathered her strength and clumsily turned around to face Lilian.
“A very good morning to you, Beta Lilian.” She mustered the strength to smile.
“I wish I could say the same, ma’am.” She grimaced.
“What do you mean?” Her brows arched.
“Guilderoy, ah… I meant, Francis Remmington is being uncooperative, just as expected. His immediate answers to our questions are a middle finger, a smile that I want to surgically remove from his face, and a demonic chuckle. Even when he’s being zapped by an electric cattle prod, he laughs through it like that other Remmington.”
Selena’s fright was drained from her body. It was replaced with immeasurable anger.
“You’re torturing him with a cattle prod?” She exclaimed, unashamed of her sudden loud tone.
The thought of Francis being hurt made her fume.
“Forgive me, Luna. I purposely decline to give a shit about your precious feelings.” Lilian drawled, shrugging her shoulders. “That man is held as a murderer and unless someone proves otherwise, he is a criminal in my eyes.”
What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Selena scowled at the Beta. Instead of snapping, she lowered her anger and nodded.
“I would like to speak with my cousin, please.”
“Oh, please. Go on ahead. The interrogation has been paused no thanks to you and Lively.”
Selena felt a little calmer. She thanked Lively in her mind for putting her word in.
“Great, can you show me to him?”
The wolf grunted and turned on her heels. Selena followed, limping as she struggled.
Minutes after Selena managed to limp her way to the storeroom they were holding Francis in, she could hear other wolves conversing about her cousin. Or at least she thought they were. Their hatred for the Remmingtons was at clear display but it seemed like there was another Remmington at hold, an old man.
The Beta did say something about another Remmington. Selena pondered if this had anything to do about Nathaniel hiding details about their plan to extract Francis. But before she could piece everything together, Lilian ushers her into Francis’s cell.
Her chest felt like it was about to burst. A trail of dried blood started from his nose. a cut on his cheek was glowing bright red, and his hands were chained together. He was sitting in a corner with a proud and mischievous grin. Despite how disheveled he appeared, he still appeared victorious.
“Speak to him and straighten him out, otherwise I will gladly enjoy rearranging his nose again,” Lillian grumbled.
Selena stares at Lilian’s hand. Her blood seeping out of her bandages.
She knew that the Beta was only doing her job but she almost couldn’t stop herself from screaming at the woman.
Lilian leaves with an abrupt huff, slamming the door behind her. Once she was gone, Selena let out a heavy sigh of relief and turned to her cousin.
“Cousin, what did she do to you.” She moved towards him.
Francis stared at her, only to roll his eyes in contempt.
“Besides giving my stomach electrotherapy and massaging my face, well…everything. And she wasn’t alone. There were four of them, including that person but three of them left once they were convinced that I was insane. That woman didn’t stop until Nathaniel came.”
“Nathaniel came to you?” She asks.
Francis shook his head and chuckled.
“I just told you about me being hazed to admit murders and all you picked up was that bastard’s name. Wow, I feel so safe with you, Selena.”
Selena bit her lip, feeling shame.
“I’m sorry, Francis. I know it’s my fault.”
“It’s not your fault, okay? I guess I had it coming when I shot your mate in front of you. But in my defense, I really thought he was about to hurt you. Talon ordered me to help and find which by the way, was frustratingly hard because you’re wearing that necklace. If it weren’t for the smell of blood I wouldn’t have found you.”
The mention of Talon’s name made her shudder.
“Talon doesn’t care about me anymore. He can choke on his own spit but I don’t have any plans on seeing him… I’m not ready.” She fidgeted with her fingers.
“Cousin,” Francis sighs. “I have my reservations from Talon being with that snaky wolf but you’re still family and you shouldn’t say things like that.”
“But I can’t help it.”
“Your emotions are warranted. Talon is an asshole yes, did he throw you into deep waters? Yes. Did he say he was going to abandon you? No. And is it okay for you to hold a grudge? Absolutely, yes. But remember, the longer you hold a grudge, the longer it’s going to amend things. Don’t forgive him now, okay?”
She remained silent. Francis was right and it pained her to admit that someday, she was going to live a life with Talon being married to Katie. She didn’t want to throw away her family just like that but her family now had another branch growing and the change was too frightening and surreal that she couldn’t simply accept it.
“I’m sorry we're talking about this in here. You should be at home with Sebastian, you son.”
“I didn’t get to tell him where I was going.” He sighs. “But they’ve got nothing but inconclusive evidence and Lilly, was it? Well, she’s pissed that she can’t connect me to the murders. It feels invigorating to have that much control over her.”
“So you’re innocent?” She widened her gaze.
“Well, duh? I’ve seen the photos of those three wolves. Yes, it kinda looks like a Remmington indeed but that doesn’t mean that a lunatic didn’t just willy-nilly killed a lot of people and then decided to make it look like someone from my family or pack did it. And besides, I don’t have a reason to hurt those wolves. All they have against me are surveillance footage of me asking around about Nathaniel.”
“But you kinda have one.” She looks at him, serious. “Those were the wolves that came to me and then you told me to fight them. And I don’t know if I’m just thinking into things too much but the morning after you were in my room with a gun on your feet and knife in your hand. You said you were hunting ducks and I can’t help but think if they’re the ducks you hunted.”
He stares at Selena. She was taken aback by her cousin’s very aloof reaction. His blues eyes shining as he chuckled uncontrollably. She felt bad for the wolves who came to drill him.
They must have done their best to make him squeal but knowing Francis, he might have spat and laughed at them.
She grimaced at him, waiting for him to finish his laugh.
“You’re hilarious, cousin. Can you not hear yourself? My hands are too pristine to be begrimed by the blood of those peasants. They were simply beneath me. I mean, they deserved to die because they called you names and if I had no reservations then sure, maybe I would have gutted their spleens out but my blade touches the skin of my enemies only when Talon instructs me to do so or wolves who have wronged our family gives me a big enough reason to end their miserable lives. Like for example, the woman from yesterday. I didn’t feel joy taking her life away. I felt remorse for her parents after they gave birth to a lousy daughter.”
Despite how patronizing Francis was, she felt happy at ease. How could she forget that her cousin was not only a skilled killer and spy but also possessed an ego the size of a blue whale.
She breathed, still sitting on the edge of her fears.
“And what about the gun and the knife?”
“Remember I told you that they have footage of me looking for that douche? Well, I was doing that because I wanted to shoot him. Just a little warning shot through the head though. Nothing harmless. The sad thing is, Talon said no when I was asking for permission.”
‘Nothing harmless.’ She parroted his words in her thoughts. Though if Francis could say those words too nonchalantly then maybe there was a semblance of truth in him and his words.
But Francis was also cunningly smart and convincing. He may also be simply lying. Still, even with his track record of being a cold and manipulative wolf, Selena wanted to have faith in him.
“So I can ask for you to be removed here right? Maybe I can ask Nathaniel a favor and I-”
Francis shook his head.
“No, cousin. You can’t and you shouldn’t. The last thing you want is to be associated with him again. What would Talon think?”
She furrowed her brows.
“Screw Talon.” She huffed. “I don’t care what he thinks. My concern is to have you back with Sebastian.”
“But you can’t do that without risking your heart.”
She scoffed, feigning her innocence towards the manner.
“I’m not risking anything, cousin.”
He raises a brow, clearly mocking her.
“Oh please. We both know you are as hopeless as Talon when it comes to love.”
“How could you be so obtuse to say that?”
“Me, obtuse? No, cousin. You’re spitting out words that clearly define what you are.”
Selena frowned at how quickly the conversation was now pointing in her direction. Though she was sat on the backseat of her mind, preparing for Francis to speak again.
“It was because of you crying over him that I stayed. I told you to leave because I could smell and hear his subordinates coming to us. And yes, I stayed. I should be furious because you’re part of the reason why I’m in here but I’m not because I take accountability for my actions in plotting to kill Nathaniel but the situation’s all too funny for me not to laugh about. To not laugh at you for being obtusely ignorant about your feelings for Nathaniel.”
She flattened her lips. Although she did have feelings for him she was sure it was pure hatred and maybe a bit of her mate’s bond.
No, she didn’t have warm, fuzzy emotions for Nathaniel.
That was the hill she chose to stand and live by on.
She felt like there were things left unsaid though even she couldn’t say or safely discern what they were. Suddenly, she felt confused. Her vision of the future has now become even more askew at her cousin’s observation.
How obvious was she?
Did Nathaniel see through her as well?
She shuddered to think that her efforts were going to be wasted when one fatal accident caused her to swallow all the words she had said in the past.
She heaved a heavy breath, eliminating her shook composure.
“My feelings for him are just the same. He matters little to me and that’s the truth.”
Francis still wore his smirk, causing Selena to scowl at him.
“Says the woman who almost marked the mate she rejected to save his life.” He retorts.
“It was the nice thing to do.” She replies.
“Yes, you’re being nice to the man that kissed another woman in front of you.”
A heart-splitting crack thundered against her ear. She was brought back to the night Nathaniel’s engagement was announced. The hurt she felt that night came back and it stayed longer than it needed to.
“I challenge you, Selena. Speak to him for just a minute and come back to me and then tell me honestly that you don’t feel an inkling of attraction to him.”
She didn’t answer. She was here to be with her cousin and then confront her emotions for Nathaniel and she had no other reason to tuck her tail between her legs.
With a nod, she moved to him. She lefts the hem of her shirt and used it to wipe the blood off Francis’s face then pushes his uncontrolled hair to the side of his head. He had no complaints except for a few groans.
“I’m going to get you out of here.” She spoke.
Selena smiled tightly, putting on a brave face before she turned her back to him.
While she was walking away, she thought of many things. But only one stood out the most. Her irrational fears of facing him again.
To see his gray orbs well up with a foreign emotion was something she could never get over.
Though she entertained the idea of him and what Nathaniel’s words truly meant. And thinking about it alone was like playing with a fire poker and lavishing in the sweet poison that was the memory of his skin stoked the flames of confusion within her.
Selena didn’t know what she truly wanted.
She didn’t know if she truly wanted to be happy or continue her path of revenge and she was certain that she couldn’t follow the same path in one lifetime.
Her feet wobbled as she ignored the pain of her wound. Walking up the stairs and to his room, she stopped on the balcony to see the sunlight pouring in to the hall. And he was there, sitting alone, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose as he closed his eyes, looking like he was in deep thought.
His form was breathtaking. He wore only a simple white shirt and tight-fitting jeans. Somehow, even when he was wearing something over his body, Selena pictured him naked.
It warmed her chest after remembering how he willingly took the clothes off his back and gave them to her. Now thinking back at it, she should have appreciated how immaculate of a man he was. Though again, her doing that only proved Francis’s point.
Her mortal folly to admire him even after all that has happened was still there.
Nathaniel lifted his gaze to Selena. Instead of feeling disdain or fear or some other kind of emotion that she hoped to have, she felt a rush of glee after she gazed upon his warm, welcoming glance.
“Selena.” He utters her name.
It felt like her heart was about to jump out of her chest as he stood and his calm, collected posture faded away. She took notice of how his lips slightly quivered and his eyes blinking more frequently than they should.
She took control of her emotions, looking into his eyes.
“Alpha Morris.” She says.
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For those asking for a specific upload schedule, unfortunately I do not have one. My upload schedules are weird and very spontaneous so I apologize for that. (｡ŏ﹏ŏ)