Chapter Ten: The Phone Call
“Favourite book?” Seb asked me. He laced his fingers in mine and raised them high in the air. I made a face at him and swung my legs so they were stretched out over his lap.
“That’s too hard, there are too many good books,” I argued.
Seb looked surprised, “I didn’t think you were a reader.”
I pulled back my hand and punched his shoulder, “Because I’m blonde?”
Seb grinned sheepishly at me, “No, of course not.”
I glared at him, “I love reading, it’s all I do when I’m back home. When everyone else shifts and goes for runs, I read.”
Seb frowned, “It’s weird that you haven’t shifted.”
I shrugged, “Sometimes people don’t shift,” I said.
He nodded, “True, but someone with your status, you should have been an early shifter. I thought maybe you would shift after I marked you, kind of like how the mate to an Alpha shifts after they find their mate. But you didn’t, and I was surprised.”
“Well, it doesn’t bother me much. I mean—don’t get me wrong, I would love to go out there and shift with my pack, but the idea also scares me.” Seb’s face turned purple from trying to contain his laughter. “What’s so funny?” I growled.
He pulled together a straight face, “Nothing, it’s just that you’re a shifter who is afraid of shifting. It’s weird is all.” I started to get up and then Seb grabbed my hand and pulled me back down onto the couch. “I’m sorry, Serena. I shouldn’t poke fun, it just caught me by surprise.”
I glared at him and folded my arms across my chest, “I don’t like it when you poke fun.” I tossed him a petulant pout.
“I’m sorry,” Seb said, starting to sound worried. It always amused me when he took my mock anger for the real kind. He was always so cautious with me.
“You aren’t forgiven,” I said icily.
His eyes narrowed, “Come on Serena, don’t be like this.”
I turned my face away from him, “No, sorry. I don’t like you anymore.” Seb growled and suddenly I was on my back and he was looming over me.
“Last chance,” he growled.
I bit back the small tinge of fear that hit and shook my head, “No.” His fingers flew to my sides as he started to tickle me relentlessly. If there was one thing I absolutely hated it was being tickled. I shrieked and flopped underneath him, trying to squirm away. But every time I managed to get close to escape he would pull me back.
“No! No!” I cried through my laughter. I bucked as his hands moved to my stomach, then to behind my neck. When he touched behind my knees I shouted, I hated being tickled there and he knew it.
“Sebastian!” I cried, using his full name. I tried to sound threatening but it was hard when I was laughing so hard.
“Say you forgive me!” He yelled as his hands moved back to my sides. I was starting to get a cramp in my stomach and my abs were hurting from laughing. Not to mention I could hardly breathe.
“I—I—” I tried to talk but I was laughing to hard and the cramp in my side was becoming more prominent.
“Say it!” he yelled, he laughed as well. Seeing me smile and laugh brought stars to his eyes. It was like he transformed into a happier, carefree person when I smiled.
“I forgive you!” I squealed. His hands stopped and I swallowed down huge gulps of air. My hand went to the side of my stomach where the cramp was and I winced. “Jerk,” I muttered. His hands went to behind my knees and I squealed and glared.
He laughed and sat back against the couch, watching me. “It doesn’t have to be so hard, you know.”
I glared, “You don’t have to torture me with tickles whenever you don’t get your way,” I argued.
He smirked, “I know, I could just use my royal ruling. But I prefer to see you smile.”
“I hate being tickled,” I said.
He smiled, “I think you actually like it deep down.”
“Way, way, way, deep down,” I muttered.
“So, favourite book, what is it?” Seb asked again.
I shrugged, “I don’t know, I like dystopia novels, romance, horror—what?” I glared at Seb who was laughing again.
“You read romance novels?” Seb asked through his laughter. I felt my cheeks heat up and looked away.
“Some of them are good,” I said defensively.
“All I can picture is those cheesy novels where the guy is from Russia with long flowing hair and a mustache. And then they kiss on a beach in front of a sunset.”
I gave Seb a flat look and he stopped laughing, “Anyway, like I was saying, I like lots of novels, too many to chose from.”
“Favourite movie?” Seb asked.
“I like superhero movies,” I replied.
Seb raised his eyebrows, “Really? Surprising.”
“Iron Man in the best,” I said in an offhand tone.
Seb laughed, “Iron Man is nothing without the suit. Batman is the king.”
I snorted, “Yeah, he’s just a genius who invented something to keep his heart going in a shack while being kept hostage. Not to mention he’s totally hot—” Seb growled. “And Batman is not the king.”
“No! No! No! I don’t—”
I grimaced, “Seb, let’s just agree to disagree on this one. We could spend all day arguing back and forth.”
Seb smiled lazily at me and took my hand in his, “Okay, sounds good. What do you want to do now?”
I frowned, “I should probably call my sister, invite her down. Is that alright?” Seb nodded. “How will she get here?”
“I can arrange a driver,” he told me.
I smiled thankfully and kissed his cheek, “Thank you.” Seb led me to a phone and I dialed then waited. Margaret, our pack healer, answered the phone. Her old voice was strained.
“Margaret,” I said. I felt a wave of relief, hearing a familiar voice from home was comforting.
“Yes, who is this?”
“Serena,” I murmured, “It’s me.”
“Goddess! Serena, how are you? Is everything okay where you are? I heard you were in Alaska,” Margaret babbled.
I smiled, she was always worried about everyone and everything. “Yes, I’m fine. Better than fine. Is Rayne there?”
“Wait, you’re alright?”
I felt my smile drop; something in her tone was unsettling. “Yes, I’m fine.”
“Oh Goddess,” Margaret whispered to herself.
“What is it?” I asked, concern clear in my voice. My stomach suddenly twisted as I thought through all the possibilities my imagination could conjure.
“Rayne, she’s coming after you. She gathered neighbouring packs, spread the word of how they snatched you from us. They are rioting against the crown. They left last night. I imagine they will arrive in a few days.”
I felt a cold dread wash over me, “What?” My lips were numb, my tongue was thick.
“Yes, yes, they left yesterday. Rayne has been a wild, untameable fury since they took you. She wants blood. She wants them to pay for taking you away. She—she thinks you are unhappy.”
I suddenly felt as though my head was going to explode. My sister was leading an army to come and attack the Palace. They would be destroyed. Annihilated. Seb would stop them, he wouldn’t let anything happen to me.
“Serena? Hun? Are you there?”
I blinked a few times and swallowed, but my throat was suddenly dry and tight. “Uh, yeah. I’m here.” I was suddenly aware that Seb was staring at me intently. He was waiting for me to fill him in.
“Are you alright? I’ll try to contact Rayne, but I’m not sure how to.”
“Thanks Margaret,” I mumbled through unmoving lips. I ended the call, unable to hear anymore. My head was spinning. What did I tell Seb? That my sister was leading a small army to charge the castle he fought so hard to protect? That she was coming to snatch me away in the night and kill anyone in her way?
“So? What did she say?” Seb pressed.
I turned to him and placed the phone on the table. I forced a smile onto my lips, it felt tight on my face. “She said she’s coming. And that she would find her own way here.” That was one way to put it.
Seb smiled at me, “Awesome, I’m glad everything worked out.”
I grimaced, “Me too.”
Seb and I later went to watch a movie with Cal. The whole time I sat through the comedy I was tense and alert. Every noise I heard I would face the sound as if it were my sister’s army coming to wreck the small bubble of happiness I had created in the last week.
Seb seemed to notice how anxious I was and kept stealing glances I way. This meant that the only one who really got to enjoy the movie was Cal. He laughed the whole way through—he laughed enough for all three of us.
“You alright?” Seb whispered in my ear as the credits started to roll onto the screen. I nodded silently and stood up to stretch. Cal was snoring loudly on his recliner. It was best not to wake him when he slept, he was cranky whenever someone besides himself woke him up.
I picked up a blanket off the corner of the couch, shook it out, and placed it over Cal so he wouldn’t get cold. Not that he would what with being a werewolf and all. But the gesture was still there.
“What do you want to do now? Walk in the moonlight? A swim under the stars?” Seb asked.
I grimaced, “I’m ready for bed.”
“Alright, we can go to my room—”
I looked down, “I’d actually like to go to my own room if that’s alright.” The last few days I had slept with Seb in his bed. Of course, I had seen to it that there was a large wall of pillows between us, but it was nice to know he was there.
Seb’s face fell, “Alright.” He walked in front of me as we made our way through the darkened Palace. We passed by the meeting room and heard lots of shouting. Most likely the King was fighting with yet another Alpha.
Every day tons of wolves came from all over the country to speak with the King and Queen. Most of the meetings turned to shouting matches when either the Alpha in question or the King didn’t get their way.
We came to the door of the room I sometimes slept in myself and stood there awkwardly. Seb was staring at my face and I was staring at the floor. It made the whole situation tense and unsettling.
“What is it?” he asked gently.
I sighed, “It’s just hearing familiar voices, it makes me sad.”
Seb looked sad now that he knew I was sad. “Oh, I guess I can understand that.”
I nodded, “Sorry if I was a bummer during the movie.”
“Serena, you never have to apologize for your feelings. I’m trying to make an effort to understand you better, and I need you to be open with me so I can do that.”
I bit my lip and nodded, “Alright.”
“Maybe after we are fully mated, we can go back to your pack, spend some time there. Then we can travel, go to different packs, learn a lot about the people I will one day be leading. We could do so much, make werewolf life so much more peaceful. We can learn what threatens our people and eliminate the danger. We can change the werewolf world forever.”
I felt my heart soar, but only for a moment. I suddenly remembered the fact that was sister was coming, and was out for blood. I felt like staggering under the weight of it. Was I going to be forced to chose? Or will Seb make that choice for me?
“That sounds wonderful,” I told him honestly.
Seb smiled, “I want you by my side, Serena. Forever.”
I smiled back, “I think I want to be by your side, Sebastian.”
Seb swallowed and looked down at the floor before bringing his eyes back to mine. “I’m going to kiss you.” And he did. I felt dizzy and electric all at once. I felt my heart soar and my stomach twisted with butterflies. I intertwined my fingers through his dark hair as I kissed him back.
Everything seemed perfect then. All thoughts of Rayne flew from my mind. It was just me and Seb. A thin white ribbon of light appeared from nowhere and wound itself around and through our legs, around our torsos and finally coiled above our heads. It writhed and bended as the light shimmered and flickered. Finally, we broke apart and so did the white light. It shattered into a million breathtaking pieces and flew down around us. I looked to Seb who was staring at my face, looking awestruck.
I reached out my hand and watched as a few of the sparkling pieces floated down into my palm. I smiled at the shimmering squares and watched as they melted like snowflakes. There was only one explanation, “Oh, Goddess.”