The cozy little cabin the bearded man set her up with was enough for three people to live in. She felt very out of place, noting that the main room was almost as big as her old room back in her pack.
Her eyes brown eyes twinkled with curiosity as she stared in awe outside the window. It was early in the morning when they arrived, just in time for Selena to see the sun rising behind the tall oak trees that covered the mountains.
"The view here is quite magnificent, isn't it?" The man spoke.
"I'm really sorry for intruding in your home." She crumpled her lips.
She lied to get in here, but she had no other choice. The only worry she had was what if Nathaniel found them and the man's family is mixed in?
"Don't mention it. We don't use this house anymore. A very good friend set us up with the house at the end of the street."
Selena peered over the road and saw the house or more like the mansion at the end of the street. It had a clean white-coated facade, three stories, and one awe-striking veranda. It was almost like a packhouse.
"It looks like a hotel or a mansion used for country clubs," Selena spoke, unsure if she should have said her thoughts out loud.
"Well," the man smiled. "It is kind of a club. We're not the only family who lives there. It's a shelter for homeless people. My wife and I chose to live there to provide help for the needy."
"You must be very kind people." She smiled.
"I don't know about my wife being kind, but thank you. My wife's extra clothes are in the closet. Please, make yourself comfortable."
Just before the man made his leave, Selena cleared her throat.
"Uh, wait. I haven't even gotten your name yet."
He nods. "Winston Hayward, and you are?"
"My name's Selena. Nice to meet you and thank you again for letting a stranger into your home."
"Please, don't mention it. It's always a good feeling to help."
Despite not knowing much of Winston, Selena felt that he was completely trustworthy. She didn't sense one wrong motive from him. If he did do anything to her, she had the option of kicking him in the groin.
With a tired and cumbersome sigh, she smiles as she watched Winston walk outside the door.
She wasted no time in getting rid of her foul-smelling clothing. She shrugged off Nathaniel's jacket, putting it inside an empty hamper. While she was doing so, her heart inexplicably cracked. It had his scent. Covered under the muck, dirt, and blood, Nathaniel's scent persisted to devour her completely.
She was wearing it all night. That only meant that she smelled like him too.
Selena grimaced and quickly tore off her bloody clothes and entered the shower, letting warm water massage and soothe her aching body.
While warm water showered her entire body, her mind runs to her brother. The pack had him in ties and all the destruction caused by the attack needed to be fixed. If Nathaniel only let her stay for a couple more days, maybe she would be much more complacent in coming with him to his pack.
As the water traveled down the drain, so did her worries. At least for now while Nathaniel was miles away with no way of tracking her down.
After the shower, Selena scoured the closet for clothes that might fit her. They were all maternity clothing and almost exclusive silk and satin. Winston and his wife were either rich or had expensive taste. She felt undeserving to wear them. Luckily, there was a pair of sweatpants and a single long-sleeved t-shirt that might have belonged to Winston tucked under the dresses.
Left with no other choices, she picked the shirt and pants, putting them on quickly. She fixed her dark hair loosely in a bun, finding it still hard to believe that she was still far from home.
'Talon must think I'm a big wuss if he saw me now.'
She was too focused wallowing in her sadness that she hadn't realized Winston walk in the room. Only when he poked his head into her vision that she noticed him.
"Hey," he spoke. "Are you sure you're comfortable with those threads?"
"Oh, yes." She smiled lightly.
"Okay then. I came here to invite you. You see, it's my daughter's first birthday and everyone who lives near here is having brunch in the mansion."
Selena smiled awkwardly.
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"We just met," she says. "I'm a stranger who is on the run. Thank you, but no thank you."
Winston crumpled the skin on his jaw, a clear sign of thinking things through. While she waited for his words, the smell of freshly cooked food wafted into her nose, causing her stomach to rumble.
"Your mouth says no but your stomach says yes."
Heat crept into her cheeks.
"I'm so sorry you had to hear that."
"Don't apologize. It just means your body is betraying your decisions. Please come with me as my guest."
Selena was starting to run out of her resolve. Her hunger was truly great but she didn't have the guts to come with him.
"I really would like to decline. I can just order in?"
"Well, do you have money with you or a phone?"
The answer was both a no.
If only she had taken Nathaniel's offer to eat last night then she might be able to hold on a little bit longer.
Her paused made prompted Winston to clear his throat.
"That settles it then. Come with me and we'll get you sorted out and maybe we can find someone to get you out of your predicament."
Selena jolted. If someone can help her then she could probably find a way out of the country. The only thing which saddened her the most is that she would never get to see Talon again.
But if she did go, she was abandoning her duties as Nathaniel's mate. A dereliction of duty meant you were branded not only as a traitor but also as an enemy. At least, that was the rules enacted in her pack and she wasn't sure about Nathaniel's.
"I'll go with you but only to find someone to help me."
Winston's eyes brightened with glee.
"Ah, perfect. Come on, let's go. The cooks there are preparing a hefty meal and we better go there before the food turns cold." The man happily strutted out of the room.
Selena composed herself before she followed Winston. While she walked behind him, she felt every passerby stare at her. After all, who wouldn't stare? She was a stranger following Winston who is a married man.
She panicked after realizing that they might as well accuse her of being his mistress.
But that wasn't the case. Winston was only a kind man who is trying to help her, that's all.
As they neared the opulent-looking mansion, Selena leaned towards Winston as the pressure of their stares become unbearable. Past the gates, Selena saw children with their parents sat under family umbrellas in the yard. It was a scene similar back to her home. The image of it made her heart swell with happiness.
"Ah, Winston." An elderly woman greeted Winston, embracing him and planting a kiss on his cheek.
"Good morning, Eliza." He says. "This is Selena. I found her wandering the road last night after escaping from...a scuffle."
She breathed light, silently thanking Winston after his white little lie.
The elderly woman looked at Selena fondly. Something about how her eyes glowed made her a bit nervous, noting how familiar it looked.
"A scuffle, eh? Well, this place is safe for you. You're more than welcome here." Eliza smiled.
The woman took off her necklace and hang it around Selena's. She froze, taking a whiff of the woman's sudden change of smell. She smelled like a wolf, something Selena was not prepared for.
"That's a scent masker. Any wolf looking for you will fail." Winston stated.
Selena's eyes roamed the necks of every person around her. They were all wearing the same necklace. A black string holding a small vial of sand. All of them are wolves! She was wrong to immediately assume anything.
Now it made sense why Winston decided to help her.
He was a wolf too.
She looked over her shoulder and saw that the gate was closed with three wolves standing guard.
"What are you going to do with me?" She was almost in tears.
Winston and Eliza looked at each other, both wearing confused expressions.
"Relax, darling. No one's going to hurt you here." Eliza reassured her with a smile.
But she couldn't just trust them. For the humans she thought they were, deceived her. Their guises worked pretty well so much so that everyone around her looked nothing like wolves. That was the point of having human skins but why go so far as hide their scents?
It only made her more afraid to trust.
"Winnie," the woman touched Winston's shoulder. "Make sure she's taken cared of and fed, is that understood?"
He reddened at the peculiar nickname, his face looking like a very ripe and hairy tomato.
"Yes, ma'am." He answers, garbling his final words. It was a cacophony of cusses, something Eliza laughed at.
The old woman left after giving Selena one last smile. The woman exuded too much power. It was clear how she walked and how Winston looked at her with respect. She didn't look like a wolf you should mess around with.
Winston looked in her direction and spoke while scratching the back of his head.
"You obviously have a lot to ask."
She grimaced. "A ton of them."
Selena wasn't the kind of person to cuss. But in light of what is going on, she had a fuck-ton of questions to ask.
"Let's talk about it after we've fed ourselves." He smiles at her kindly.
Selena follows him while he moved through an open hallway. To her right, she could see a lot of families celebrating some kind of party while to her left were closed doors. It seemed like a peaceful place. She couldn't find any fault at her current location.
The place was simply happy.
It reminded her so much of the spring outing she and her family went to every year. One whole week of relaxation and no worries.
He brought her into a colorful room filled with children and older wolves. Selena silently smiled when a little girl ran up to meet Winston's open arms. It was clear to her that this was his daughter. Both of them had the same color hair and eyes.
"Calm down, pumpkin. Did you miss daddy?" He asks the little girl after showering her with kisses on her cheeks. "Happy birthday, Letty."
Well, at least he wasn't lying about his kid having her birthday today. His daughter cooed nonstop, laughing as his tech beard tickled the toddler.
"Mama." Said the little child.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Mama will be home later today, okay?"
But the little girl continued to call her mother, causing Winston to stand up and turn to Selena. She raised a questioning expression while she stared back at his eyes.
"What?" She asks.
"I think the tot is hungry." He says. "Come on, let's go to the mess hall. Eliza won't be happy if she sees you not well accommodated."
Selena saw how his lips formed into a frown.
"Why are you so afraid of her? What is she here in this pack?"
He shrugs. "She's the reigning Luna."
"Why didn't you tell me? I could have presented myself better. Ma-maybe chose the right words to say. Oh, Moon! I must have looked like a total hillbilly."
Winston chuckled lightly, earning him a cold glare.
"Relax and don't overthink it. Eliza doesn't think about being proper. You know how wolves are. Dirty, rowdy, and spontaneous. If she spent her time worrying about those then she'd look older than what she is now."
Selena found herself frowning. Not all wolves looked for propriety but Luna's were sometimes regarded as meticulous creatures, a right hand to their partners. Some are even more terrifying than their Alphas. Maybe Luna Eliza was a different kind of case.
Nevertheless, Selena couldn't risk acting foolishly around her presence.
Winston moved out of the daycare but not before excusing himself to the older wolves who were in charge of taking care of children. She had no choice but to tail him, murmuring in her mind that he could still help her find someone who can assist her out of this mess.
On the way to the cafeteria, the child in Winston's arms started to cry, calling for her mama while she wrestled and tussled her small body free from her father's grasps. Winston tried his best to keep the child calm but her cries only seemed to get louder and louder until Selena couldn't take it anymore. She offered her arms and took the baby from him. It was almost immediately that the child fell relaxed pressed against Selena's ample chest.
Her heart quickened and even she felt completely relaxed. She was used to taking care of the children back in Pack Highcliff and dealing with babies was no different task. Her brother called it a natural calling to take care of the people who can't take care of themselves.
"You're a natural at this." Winston chuckles.
"Well, I should be. I've been changing diapers ever since I discovered what pickles and pies are."
"Pickles and pie," he grins. "Well that's a way to put it."
"I think pickles and pies is a very apt way to put it, thank you very much." She chuckles as she swayed the child.
"I'm sorry. I've only been a father for a year. I thought at this point, I'd be terrific at it. But it seems as though I'm wrong."
"Being a parent is a learning process. You can't just automatically learn how to parent when the baby is out. When my older brother was born, my mother had no idea how to take care of a baby so my grandparents often helped her. It wasn't until I came along that mom started to get around of being a mother."
"Well, if it were up to me, I'd say your mate is a very lucky person. You know already how to raise a child."
A darkness grew under her beating heart. At his words, she wondered if Nathaniel wanted her to have his child. But that wouldn't work. Selena knew much she wanted to become a mother too. The only thing is, she couldn't let herself take the responsibility of parenthood.
She smiles at him. "Thanks but I can't be a mother now. Not until-"
Her words were cut short when the baby in her arms brewed another fit of tears. She sensed a pair of cold eyes melting a hole right through her body. Her wolf kicked her inside, growling helplessly anxiously, forcing her to turn and see Nathaniel's gaze.
Selena's heart palpitated at a pace she never imagined reaching. With her lips slightly ajar and eyes wide open, Selena trembled while she watched a woman wrap herself around her mate's body and claimed his lips in front of her.
Looks like Selena's gonna get shooked!
I hope you enjoyed reading the chapter! If you did, please consider leaving a vote or a comment and I'll be back with you as soon as possible!