Chapter 23 - Decisions
Spoiler alert. When all you want is to be held and cuddled by your mates, it didn’t matter how hard you tried. That good, restful sleep just wouldn’t come. I spend far too long tossing and turning. Then thinking about how easy it would be to open that door...
It wasn’t exactly early but wasn’t really late when I slammed the door on them and went to bed. I mean I didn’t slam the door, but that’s kind of what it felt like. That was one of the many things I thought of. I tried, but every time I felt about to fall asleep, I would start to feel uncomfortable and end up wide awake again. It sucked.
I did end up getting a little rest, but it wasn’t good by any means. I gave up when I saw the sunrise peaking in and decided to go get some breakfast. Maybe some yummy food would help. If it didn’t, at the very least I’d eat my feelings.
I walked out of the room, or tried to, only to walk straight into my mates still sitting on the floor. Still kneeling like they were in time out. I was a bit stunned at still seeing the sight and kind of wanted to know if they had been like this all night. I was going to ask when Kota pipped in from down the hall.
“No they haven’t moved, no matter how much I try and coax them to do so, they refuse to leave this damn spot. And no, they haven’t done anything else but sit here, no matter how much I try and guilt them. I’ve stood in for the few meetings or ended up cancelling them and have been bringing their paperwork to them all night long. Since you know, no one has anything better to do.” He was waving his hands around, full of papers, making a show of it. Somebody is grouchy.
“Kota! Don’t you dare get uppity with her! You do and I swear to the Goddess you won’t sleep in your bed anytime soon! And you, sure the hell won’t touch your mate for even longer!” Tori was literally yelling at him from inside their room. There were a few more colorful comments made about what he wouldn’t have and what he would be missing if he kept up his tirade. He ran away after that, I’m sure being in the same boat as my two asshats wasn’t on his to-do list. Also her threat to remove parts of him seemed a bit, um... scary.
Both Damien and Ian had looked up at me while Tori was yelling at Kota. I still wasn’t happy with them by any stretch of the imagination but I also didn’t want them sitting there. Plus, I could see the exhaustion on their faces. They had no doubt gotten less rest that I had.
“Get up and come in.” I walked back into the room, not looking back to see if they had followed. All I want is my breakfast damn it. Ok, I want more, but I want breakfast too.
I heard groans and some popping, signaling that they were slowly getting up. After I heard the door shut, I turned around to look at them. Both stood there, staring at their feet, obviously unsure of if they should say anything or not.
“Are you just going to stand there like awkward teenagers or what?” I’m not trying to, but lack of sleep and whatever else is going on isn’t helping. Meaning yes, I know I’m being a bitch. I also really don’t want to be prodding them right now, but I just couldn’t continue to watch them like that.
“Irie, I’m sorry. I know that apologizing might not be enough but I want you to know I really do regret everything that happened yesterday after dad spilled your, um, secret.” I could tell Damien was struggling with his words. I just silently let him continue, I wanted to hear what he was going to come up with. “Dad gave us his opinion last night and we talked a lot about our reactions yesterday. I, well it’s obvious I freaked out and shouldn’t have. It’s late and I know I should have asked first, but I think I understand why you kept your situation to yourself.”
Situation. Ya lets stick with that wording. Seriously, it’s a better way to describe it than the way I have been for years. Generally, I’d prefer to call it my curse. Situation makes it seem temporary and maybe something I can get over. Ya... let’s go with situation.
“I understand that keeping it to myself wasn’t the best choice and why I should have trusted you before yesterday. To be honest I had been thinking about the best way to bring it up and was actively trying to find ways to do so. But do you really understand what was wrong with your reactions?” Apologies without substance don’t mean jack shit to me. I wasn’t entirely convinced that they got my point either. I mean, if they felt the way I did about being separated overnight, then maybe. But I wanted to know that.
“I know you’re not an object. Or some precious trinket to be hidden away. I mean, you’re definitely precious to me, to us. But still, I understand that you don’t want to be treated differently...” He was really struggling here.
I got the feeling, pretty quickly mind you, that Damien wasn’t normally the one who had to offer up apologies or explanations. He was generally the thinker of the two and plotted and planned before he jumped in. That tends to make it easier to move on without having to do much of that. Part of me was glad that he was not in his comfort zone right now. Not because I want to make him uncomfortable, but because watching how he reacts is genuine.
You can plot, you can plan, but in the end, only reality and what you do in a moment counts. I’ve learned that the hard way over the years.
Ian stepped forward, finally. He had been watching his brother trip over words and I think was ready to save him.
“Tori helped us understand that you just want to be and feel like everyone else. That this label defined your childhood and didn’t create good memories for you and is still haunting your existence. We know that fear and greed make people do awful things. She explained how greed caused you to miss out on growing up with your family. For us, fear of losing you as part of ours drove our, um, idiocy. It’s not an excuse, we know.”
“That’s the truth. The moment Dad spilled the beans, I got scared. I do remember all the stories we were told about you and your family when you were little. They instantly popped back into my head and scared the shit out of me. I was scared that something could happen after we had only just found you. I’m sorry, I really am. I shouldn’t have said any of it.” Damien had walked forward and grasped my hand, bringing it to his lips. “I don’t expect you to instantly forgive us, but can you give us another chance?”
This is probably the only time I curse mate bonds. All I wanted to do was forgive them and cuddle. And eat something.
“Listen, I’m not exactly perfect here either. I was and still am afraid of being trapped by this stupid thing and I don’t know the best way to navigate it all. I’ve spent my entire life hiding and I’ll be the first to admit that it is hard for me to accept that it’s okay to tell you things. Tori didn’t just get me blurting it out either. I am sorry for not telling you sooner.” I owed them that, the apology for not being upfront about it. Did I have a good reason not to be, yes. Did I still have a lot of insecurities about what could happen, yup. But I wanted to try and not let that keep hurting me. Or us.
“I have no idea how to deal with this but I’m willing to give you a chance to prove that you’re not like everyone else. I mean in the way of treating me like a secret treasure. I want to be with you both, but I won’t deal with what happened yesterday. It wasn’t necessary to talk down to me and outright call me selfish and stupid. Also, I won’t be secreted away or hidden. There’s no reason to blast the details of my birth. I can just be Irie.” There, I said my peace, both the part that was sorry for hiding something and the part that was mad at them for their actions. My heart better not be steering me wrong here.
“Baby girl, we love you and we want to spoil you for the rest of our lives.” Ian came up to the other side of me and held onto my other hand. “The thought of losing you, for any reason, scares me. But that also makes me want to spend every moment I can just enjoying life with you.”
“Sweetheart, I want you to trust in a future with us. I, we, reacted poorly yesterday and there’s no excuse for it. I promise, no more talk about unnecessary guards or any of that. And anything we do need to do; we can do together.”
They were both cuddling up to me, kissing my shoulders and neck. Sneaky mates. I pulled away from them, “Nuh uh, nope, none of that. I may be giving you a chance here but that doesn’t mean you get to get all touchy feely and get my feelers to forget. You want to earn my forgiveness, do so without touching.” And then I walked, okay maybe half ran, out of the room. This time, it wasn’t to hide. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I’m really hungry.
I scurried downstairs before my damn lady parts convinced me to stay and let them make up to me in other ways. Said lady parts were already screaming, “Go back, let them play with me!” Nope, besides the fact that I couldn’t let them get off that easy, I was still sore. Although damn it now I was thinking about the fact that then I don’t get to get off easy either. Little shits had turned me into a horn ball.
Making it downstairs I spot Tori in the kitchen again, chatting with Nelly. “I swear woman, if anyone ever said that they had lost you, I’d laugh and tell them where you’d likely be. With Nelly, chit chatting, in the kitchen, next to the food.” They both just laughed at me while Nelly handed me a plate. I swear that woman just knows.
“So what did you decide to do with the dummy one and dummy two?′ Nelly swatted at Tori after she said that. Then she both apologies for the swat and reprimanded Tori for her lack of respect. It was kind of funny.
“I feel stupid saying that I’m giving them a chance to earn their way back into my good graces. I mean, I understand their immediate freak out. I’m really just upset with their reaction and the way they addressed it with me. So I guess I’m letting them build back up my, ugh. I don’t know. Trust?”
She nods at me and takes another drink of her coffee. “And how are they going to do that? And what do you really mean by trust?”
“That’s the only word I can think of. I think for me that’s like me wanting to trust that they’re not going to act on a lot of the things they said. So first, behavior. Proving that they aren’t going to treat me like the damn ring from Lord of the Rings or the princess from Tangled. Then second, doing all of it with a ‘no touchy the mate’ rule to show that they’re serious.” Nelly burst out laughing, spitting out her drink in the process.
“Oh dear, do you really think that those two are going to be able to go any real length of time without touching you? Honey, since the moment you were carried into this house, note I said carried, every opportunity they have had to touch you, they take. We see quite a bit you know. You might break them, torturing them this way. Plus, they’re Alpha. They are naturally inclined to overcrowd their mate. Their unmarked mate on that note.”
Nelly had a point. Several actually. Alphas had a higher-than-normal tendency to be possessive and territorial about their mate. Given that I was unmarked, it was that much worse.
I decided to push that off to the side for now. I’m sure I’d deal with it later anyway.
So, Nelly, Tori and I started going over all the different meal plans for the week and then of course we had to start talking about the upcoming marking ceremony. Nelly told me that the previous Luna, Charles’ mate Laura, would likely be by in the next day or two to go over more with me. That and to berate her sons.
Speaking of them, I found out later just how right Nelly was. Dinner was torture for us all.
Both Ian and Damien tried to touch me all throughout the meal. Mostly trying to put their hands on my knees but there were many attempts to go higher. I slapped them away each time, even had to pinch Ian once. They were nothing if not determined.
I continued my defensive tactics through dinner, with warriors laughing at us all the while because I was not even trying to hide it. I did; however, notice something else though. Riley wasn’t at the table. In fact, I hadn’t seen her since my heat started and hadn’t heard a damn thing about her. Given that our last interaction was not even remotely good, I was sure that there was a reason. Since no one had offered up anything, I wanted to ask, but I also didn’t.
The attempts to cuddle or just have physical contact with me continued on when we went to bed. I showered alone, although they tried to remedy that. I ended up locking the bathroom door and threatening to kick them out of the room again if they tried to break in. Getting into bed was another ordeal. I tried to tucked myself in, only to be surrounded by two very pitiful Alphas who tried to cuddle up to me. I smacked them away again but eventually, I had to put pillows on either side of me to keep them away. It was either that or banish them to the floor.
I couldn’t do that so pillows it was.
Their mother, Laura, came by a few days later to start the planning for the marking ceremony. She explained that Ian and Damien would mark me in front of the whole pack under the full moon, which was a week away by that point. Over the next week we would be very busy going over all the little details. Seems like someone here was a bit finicky when it came to these things. The pack would have a bon fire and the Omegas had already started getting the food brought in.
We weren’t even mid-way through all the planning and I had figured out that the Alpha and Luna marking ceremony was a pretty big deal here. Tradition and all.
At one point she explained that it was likely my mates would get even more touchy feely as the anxiety of not having their mate marked would drive them to keep me scented as much as possible. Like to a sickening extent.
That ended with me explaining their ‘punishment’ for their behavior to her. That sent her into a laughing fit. She was crying by the time she could catch her breath.
Evidentially their father had explained to his mate just how stupid their sons were and although Laura expected her sons to pay a heavy price for their ‘dumbassery’ as she called it, she didn’t expect that. “You’re going to break them sweetie.” She told me the same thing Nelly had. Then she asked if I’d find a way to take a video when they hit their breaking point. Blackmail was her reason.
“Before my marking ceremony with Charles, he had gotten to the point of having me basically attached at the hip. If he could have been buried in me up to the point of the ceremony, he probably would have been.” Yes, she was absolutely insinuating what she was. And oh Goddess, I didn’t need to hear that and nope, couldn’t have that happening.
By the end of the next day, I saw what Laura and Nelly meant. I was able to avoid them all day, well except for the morning. I had to scurry away from them right after we all woke up. Mind you that’s after I pried a few hands off of me from middle of the night hand-wandering. By the end of the day, I had taken another solo shower and was heading toward the bed I was stopped by two extra pitiful Alphas, back on their knees. Both literally begging just to touch me. Like I hadn’t been ignoring the fact that my pillow walls had been disappearing every night.
“Please baby girl, hurts not to be able to touch you.”
“Sweetheart, I’ll do anything just to cuddle with you.”
That went on for a good twenty minutes. I couldn’t do it. Laura had gone a lot further into explaining the possessiveness Charles displayed before she was marked and how bad it was. Some of those details, I wish I didn’t hear either. She also explained the reasons behind it, the Alpha possessiveness. It was eating them up that they weren’t touching me, scenting me, and more. My damn heart wouldn’t let me torture them any longer.
“Alright, but don’t eve...” I didn’t even get to finish my sentence before Ian had flipped me over onto the bed. They spent the next several hours showing me just how much they missed touching me.
For the first time in days, I fell asleep with ease, cuddled, and tangled up with my mates.