Forty Six: Before You
She felt a howl in her core, its loudness causing her to gasp for air. Moments later, she noticed Nathaniel’s scent, his arms around her, and his eyes were halfway close.
The only thing is, he was no longer breathing.
He was drenched in blood. The crimson hue tainting his body caused mountains of goosebumps to form on the base of her neck.
“Alpha Morris,” she pulled herself up and sat next to him.
Her tears were uncontrollable. She had no will to stop crying as she frantically shook him, hoping that he was going to wake up.
“Wake up, please, sir.” She begged.
She placed her ear against his chest and find no heartbeat.
At the moment before she died, those flickering thoughts of fear and remorse corroded her being. Nathaniel was the last thing on her mind before she slipped away.
But why now? Why was she alive, the one cradling him while he was unconscious, or possibly dead?
It was almost instinct that her hand touched the wound on her neck.
She was marked to keep her alive. He risked himself for her. But how could he?
Selena pressed her forehead on his, feeling her heart bloom with an incalculable amount of a foreign emotion she could not describe.
She gulps, kissing his cheek before she pulled on the neck of his shirt. Marking a dead wolf was already a bad idea, but she needed to try everything she can. She took in his scent, savored and admired it. If Nathaniel wouldn’t survive this, then neither could she.
“Selena don’t do it!” Lilian bellows from behind her.
She raises her eyes and stares at the group of wolves rushing toward her.
“I need to mark him.” She cries out.
Winston comes to her aid and pulls her away from him. Selena used all her weakly strength to get out of Winston’s grasp. But the wolf wouldn’t let go, even though she had drawn blood using her nails on his arm.
“Get the goop!” Lively rushes to pick Nathaniel up.
“It’s in the car, hurry!” The Beta orders as she checked Nathaniel’s pulses. “He’s not breathing.”
Lively grimaced. Her face grew red in anxiousness while she attempted to resuscitate him. Impatience gripped her as finally, she struck his chest with his fist.
“Breath dammit!” She screeched.
With that, Nathaniel gasped for air. It caused everyone to collectively sigh in relief.
“Got a pulse,” Lilian exclaims. “Quickly, get the mid kit here!”
A wolf rushed to their side, carrying a bag filled with medical equipment. Selena caught a glimpse of a water bottle filled with what seemed to be the same liquid she drank when her leg was shot, the one that had a very foul taste. Or what Lively called the ‘goop’.
“Winston, let me mark him, please.” She spoke through her sobs.
Lilian shook her head.
“Not yet, Selena. Marking him now won’t save him.”
Her brows knitted. “What do you mean?”
“He’s been poisoned with Wolfsbane. Can’t you smell it? If you mark him now, your wolf will die and so will he. You’re risking your life and Alpha Morris’ sacrifice for nothing.”
Selena turns silent as she raised her nose. That sharp stench was indeed Wolfsbane. She had failed to notice it under the spell of panic and despair.
Her world slowly shatters as Winston drags her away from the scene.
“You broke six of your ribs, dislocated your left kneecap, and suffered a tremendous amount of internal bleeding. There are also a few broken bones here and there. You may as well be immortal, brother.” Jacob laughs.
“You are expected to recover in one to two months. Of course, we will have the right amount of physical therapy.” The pack doctor, Ana says. She was flipping through her clipboard. “But we will have to examine your urine and stool sample again to determine if the Wolfsbane is still in your body. Until we are on the clear, I advise against physical activities, including recreational ones, though it all depends on you. Unfortunately, this also means you can’t mark him until we are sure.”
Selena brought her gaze to Nathaniel. He didn’t show off any disappointment or anything ill. He looked at the doctor with an understanding glance and nodded.
She was hoping for a more favorable result. To say she was disappointed was an understatement.
“Does that mean he will be alright?” She asks.
Anna smiled lopsidedly.
“As the Stormwind is currently without a wolf, his body heals differently from us. I am not inclined to make assumptions, but all signs and results lead to that, so I am hopeful, yes. Time is all we need to tell.”
“Great,” Jacob spoke. “At least you will not grow another hand or lose one.”
“It will be a long and slow recovery, but it’s possible. The Wolfsbane is our only concern now.” The wolf nodded.
“Thank you, Anna.” Nathaniel gripped Selena’s hand.
“You’re more than welcome. I’ll take my leave now. Alpha Morris, Luna Morris, and Nathaniel.”
Right as the doctor left, there was a sense of long needed relief permeating in the room. It had only been more than a week since Nathaniel pulled himself from his comatose state. The pack rejoiced after learning the news but was saddened when no one could see him except his immediate family.
Though that relief subsided quickly once the doctor’s words sunk in Selena’s thoughts.
“Luna Morris?” She quivered.
“Yes,” Jacob’s brows rose. “Nathaniel gave you his mark when he was Alpha Morris. Automatically, you are Luna Morris. And since I have yet to find my mate and mark them, you will keep the title.”
She looked at Nathaniel for support, only to be greeted by a coy smile.
“But that’s not how things work in pack Highcliff…” She grimaced.
“Packs Highcliff and Morris have different views and traditions. This is the Morris way.” Jacob said.
She had escaped the title of Luna Highcliff now she was going to be the Luna for pack Morris. Not only that the idea seemed completely bonkers, but she dreaded the responsibility that came with it.
Having the title of Luna hovering above her head just didn’t sound right. If she were brazen enough to step up on the role, she would get less time with Nathaniel. Not to mention it would probably take years before Jacob would find his mate.
Selena glanced at Nathaniel again, hoping he would chime in, but he was silent, watching her calmly.
“Maybe Lively can hang on the title a bit longer? I don’t think I’m cut out to be Luna Morris. I just want to be with Nathaniel.”
She felt a tingle running down her spine as Nathaniel reached to her side and kissed her temple.
“Good.” He whispers.
“Ew, gross.” Jacob rolled her eyes at their obvious display of affection. “But I guess I understand. Though maybe you can give Lively a few tips on how to be a kinder Luna? Lively has already forced two wolves to quit her posts. She terrifies them.”
“Lively won’t listen to me. She’s tenaciously kindhearted. I’m sure they aren’t used to her tough love.” She said.
“Selena, the woman threatened to cut my bits out yesterday when I was a minute late for pack training… in front of two dozen wolves. At least try to talk to her, please. For my sake.”
She grinned and shook her head.
“And let her set her wrath on me? No way.”
“Moon! Honestly. I am heartbroken by this betrayal.” He exclaims. “Do I have to suffer this maltreatment by my sister-in-law for more years?”
He grumbles and stood from his seat. Everything was said in jest, of course. Jacob spent the last few days praising Lively for her help. Though even Selena could attest to how ruthless Lively was in inspections, especially towards the wolves in charge of the weaponry.
“Dramatics aside, I am happy to have you back, brother. Try to don’t give me a heart attack next time.” Jacob grinned at his brother and turned his attention to Selena. “I’ll leave my crippled brother in your hands, Selena.”
Before the both of them could retort, Jacob bounced out of the room and left Nathaniel and Selena in confusion.
Unfortunately, the deathly amount of Wolfsbane found in Nathaniel’s body had caused him to be temporarily wheelchair-bound. He lost control of his legs. But his condition wasn’t as bad as the first time he woke up when he couldn’t even move his toes. Now he could wiggle them.
Selena had that feeling again. Whenever she was left alone with Nathaniel, an excited and unexplainable feeling welling in her heart becomes the noisiest of all emotions in her.
This wasn’t Nathaniel’s wolf goading her and making her do things. After he woke up, Selena was no longer being guided by the wolf inside her. Her actions were hers.
She wondered if this was the bond taking in effect. But if it was, how was she able to hold herself?
Maybe she had come under a sickness she wasn’t familiar with. The symptoms were odd. At first, she started feeling anxious when they were left alone. Whenever a minute goes by and he failed to utter a single word, she would try to get him into a conversation, even if that conversation ended up extremely boring.
The last one and the most jarring one at that is when she started having dreams about him that left her underwear dirty and wet in the morning.
That was not normal.
Selena felt what she thought was a crush. Or based on her body’s sudden act of theatrics, maybe it was more than that.
“So…” Nathaniel drags his words, catching her attention. “My brother seems to think I’ll be a cripple forever.”
Something warm carpeted Selena’s cheeks. Perhaps it was embarrassment or not knowing how to properly respond to the person who made her heart zing with stupid, crazy feelings.
“Oh, um, I don’t think that.” She says. “I mean, you can at least rotate your ankle now.”
He stares at her. How intense could someone look at another person? Apparently, it was at the point that his simple glance could make her squirm in her seat.
“I’m hungry.” He says, looking deep into her eyes.
She gulps nervously.
“Food, yes, food.” She utters and quickly reached for the paper bag sitting on the bedside table.
She starts to take the contents of the bag out and laid them on the table on Nathaniel’s lap. An amused grin was spread across his beckoning lips.
“What’s this?” He asks, brows knitted together in confusion.
“I got you a burger and some fries. There are also nuggets in there and that’s a chocolate milkshake.”
The way his eyes sparkled with unkempt curiosity made her toes curl back.
“Huh… I wasn’t expecting this to be my first solid meal.” He says.
Her eyes widened.
“Oh, did you want something else?”
He shook his head no.
“I mean, I’m just surprised. I’ve never had a taste of these. Did you buy all of this?”
“Yeah.” She tucked her hair behind her ears. “Jacob mentioned you haven’t tried a burger before. So I just bought things you might like.”
“Okay.” He says. “Though I am quite nervous. Wanna share this moment with me?”
“I don’t see how this moment is special, well except a grown man eating a burger for the first time. That’s kinda special.”
“No, you got it all wrong. This is our first meal together, and it pains me to think it's over fast food and not a fancy dinner.”
Selena felt her cheeks burn again. ‘Oh, Moon.’ She says to herself. She was not well equipped with the right things to say for this conversation. Right now, as she sat in front of him, all she could think of was how to keep herself calm and not melt.
“Wh-why?” she asks.
“Excuse me?” He fired back with a question.
“Why haven’t you eaten a burger before?”
He flattened his lips and laughs.
“When we’re not hunting, dad and his father would make me eat from a diet plan they follow. It's supposed to keep you strong and fit. I wasn’t allowed to eat junk food or anything not in the plan. I guess I grew up thinking every other food except the ones in my diet plan was inferior. Never had the reason to eat anything else, so I just didn’t. Hmm, it was probably part of my training too now that I think about it.”
She almost pitied him. Though he probably was okay with everything that happened to him. Maybe it was just her imagination, but he seemed content with missing out on a lot of things in life.
“Mom would take me out for milkshakes whenever I have a bad time at school when I was a kid. And I’d always have a side of fries with my burger.”
“Interesting. You eat this too? I thought you had a much more refined taste than me. Like caviar or gold leaf steak. But what should I expect? You surprise me, moon.”
Selena could almost not contain her smile.
“You mean fancy cooking? No. I don’t eat fancy unless I’m invited to dinner by Talon and his council.”
Nathaniel nodded as he picked a stick of fry and brought it to her mouth. Awkwardly, Selena accepted it and looked away as she chewed. She returned the gesture and unwrapped the burger and gave it to him.
“So it's basically a sandwich?” He says after taking a bite.
“Well, yes. It is a kind of sandwich. Do you like it?”
“Yeah, it’s something. Maybe I’m just not used to the taste yet. But I can see myself eating a ton of this. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” She grinned.
Selena watched as Nathaniel ate. Though it was quiet, the air had no tension. It was the silence that she was comfortable with and the silence that she lavished.
She didn’t understand why it was the way it was.
After so much time of not getting enough sleep and worrying that he might wake up without her on his side, she was just happy to see him getting better.
“I’m proud of you, you know. You stood up for yourself and said no to Jacob.” He suddenly spoke.
“The title of Luna scares me. I can act the part, but I don’t think I can handle that kind of responsibility now. I’m not going to stand there and pretend I’m an expert.” She answers.
“That’s very honest of you, my moon.” Nathaniel squeezes her hand.
Her heart flutters, scared at the emotions that whisked her off her feet.
New things were interesting or scary. For Selena, all the new things around her started to become a horror story. Her heart’s ineptitude towards the normal practices of romantic partners had made her feel less than everything about herself.
Was there a book about how to fall in love properly? Or a simple guide that tells you all the secrets about being worthy of affection.
Dating used to be a thought crumpled like a piece of paper and thrown under the bed for her. Now, she contemplated.
Just being in the presence of Nathaniel just didn’t sit well.
Could all these feelings be the ones she tried to hard repel and repress?
The question now was, how can she do it right? To care for Nathaniel without doing something that might discourage him from her.
With her previous decisions being clumsily acted upon, she wanted to make things right.
“Do you think we can go around the packhouse tomorrow? I think I can prop myself up with a cane now.”
Selena could see how willing he was to push himself further. Though if it were up to her, she would rather have him stay in his room until he could do a hundred jumping jacks before he did anything physically taxing.
“You sure?” She raised a brow.
“Well, unless you say otherwise then I’d rather be here with you then.” He shrugs his shoulders.
“That’s it? You won’t argue with me?” She stares at him.
He chuckles. “Why would I argue with you? You’re just looking out for me.”
She fell silent. Selena realized that she might have been overthinking things. How easy was it for him to say those words with undeniable truth laid in his tone? She bit her lip and nodded.
“Nathaniel, I don’t know how to do this.” She gripped the hem of her dress, shamefully staring at the back of her hands.
The sound of his bed rustling petrified her. He pulls her to him and pressed her body against his. Selena lavished the feeling of his body and wondered how it would feel like to be where she was while wearing nothing at all.
It wasn’t a fleeting desire. She had been thinking about it for many times now. If she was going to give her virtue to someone, her first choice would always be her mate.
“To be honest, my moon. I don’t know too. You are so new and even now I feel like I’m holding a dream.”
Selena stood from her seat and sat beside him. But Nathaniel had other plans and placed her on top of his lap, which resulted in her straddling him.
“I’m scared.” She murmured on his neck. “I don’t want to mess up. I’ve already incurred too many mistakes. What even are we? Are we boyfriends and girlfriends or am I just going to your mate? Tell me, please. Not knowing makes me confused about what to do next.”
“Moon, we are nothing but at the same time everything. I can’t put a label on us. That’s for us to decide, not just me. I hoped to take things slowly. I mean, for Moon’s sake I thought I needed to court you before I could get this close to you, but now you wear my mark.”
She pulls away and looked him in the eyes.
“And now we’re entangled more than ever.” She says.
“Yes. And that meant I robbed you of many opportunities to do things right. I’m afraid I rushed you into whatever we are.” Nathaniel closed his eyes shut. “I think of you and my world is almost magically complete.”
“I’m yours, Nathaniel. My duty is to you. I think you already did everything right when you saved my life.”
“Saving your life didn’t erase the shitty things I put you through. It wasn’t absolution or rectification for my wrongdoings. I can’t fix things just because of one act. You should know that. It was a favor returned. Before you arrived in my life, I thought I could the live way I did. Everything changed because of you. And I thank you for that.”
Selena wanted to love someone inside and out. Nathaniel’s dark exterior, the facade that he never rarely took off, had come unraveling in her hands. She held his face between her hands, admiring the roughness of its edges.
In the night's silence, she saw that same sadness in him. The sad expression when he chose his pack over her. A deep, sad, and remorseful sadness.
She was one of the wolves that was witness to his vulnerable side. He open himself to her and that was enough for her to see something ahead of her.
Perhaps it was too soon to tell, but she could no longer deny it.
She had fallen for him.
“We can’t change what happened between us. I don’t want to look back and see the mistakes I did. For once, I want to decide for myself that’s right this time. I want us, Nathaniel.”
He leaned into her touch.
“Me too, moon.”
Gingerly, Selena captured his lips. It only felt wickedly right. To have and hold him like this was right.
She craved his touch. His warm hands cupped her bottom as a hardness formed from where she sat. It was what she thought. But it did not deter her. It emboldened her to continue her actions.
Nathaniel took over the kiss and gripped her waist tightly, causing her to release a sigh filled with euphoria. She moved her bottom, slowly grinding against his manhood, seeking for some kind of friction for her swollen nub.
The beat of her heart raced while her movement got needier.
“Selena,” Nathaniel huskily murmurs. “What are you doing?”
She bit her lip, eyeing the desire glazed in Nathaniel’s gray orbs.
“Am I hurting you?” She whispers. Now she was too embarrassed to look at him.
“No,” he says. “I’m just surprised, that’s all.”
Nathaniel draws her gaze to him.
Selena shocked herself with how she had acted, but she wanted it badly.
He worriedly asks.
“I was just… I don’t know. I guess was just following that I thought was right.” She said.
It was her primal urge. Even her innocence to matters like sex was forgotten momentarily and all she wanted for a bleak moment was to get rid of her clothes.
“We can’t, moon. As of now, even if I do really want to make love to you, we can’t. My legs don’t work properly and I’m not about to let you do all the work.”
Her cheeks become flushed.
“I got carried away.”
He shook his head while he played a sly grin on his face.
“Please, get carried away again. But maybe wait until I regain all my motor functions. When it happens, I plan to make it special for us.”
Planned? Selena squirmed at the idea. What did he mean by that? She shivers as wild thoughts bombard her.
“I won’t know what to do.”
“That’s okay,” he says. “I’m not an expert too.”
Her heart was on the verge of exploding. She couldn’t comprehend the lewd images of Nathaniel’s naked body she had in her mind.
Selena pushed through her contemplation and spoke, setting free the desire she had trapped under her tongue.
“Can I sleep beside you tonight?” She asks.
“Naked… can I sleep beside you naked?”
She watches his eyes widen in disbelief.
“Yes.” He answers automatically after he had gotten a grip on himself. “Yes, of course, my moon.”
“And you.” She continued to burn as she wondered if she was pushing her luck.
“Consider my clothes gone.” He answers.
Selena lowered her shoulders as she draws her lower lip into her mouth. For the first time in such a long time, she was confident in the path she took.
Her hands trembled as she pulled his shirt over his head. The sight of his bare chest made her excited knowing fully well she was going to spend the rest of the night embracing him.
Hello, everyone! So I have news. Initially I planned on finishing the book before the end of this month but that's not happening, lol.
And about what I said last chapter, I was going to make this chapter a lot longer but it didn't feel right compressing story points in one chapter. So right now, chapters 47 and 48 is next on my plot chart.
Please remember to vote or comment on what you thought about the chapter! ❤️