The Alphas of North Forest

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Chapter Eight

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Emmanuel’s POV.

Ez breaks the silence first. “Do you think it would be prudent for us to speak to your grandmother? Perhaps she would be more accepting if she met Emmanuel and I.”

Rosemary shakes her head. “I don’t think so.”

She takes a fortifying breath, and we wait to hear what she has to say.

“Six years ago, when I was eighteen, my grandmother and I were arguing all of the time. We fought about everything. We share the same faith but not the same opinions. She’s very bitter and strict.

“She didn’t want me to go to university. I went anyway and moved out. Five years ago, during my first year of university, my grandmother was given three years to live. I transferred to a different university to be with her and look after her. I worked as her carer and arranged for someone to be with her whenever I had class,” her voice wobbles as she fills us in.

“For three years, during my degree, I looked after her whilst we fought like cat and dog. It became too much, and her health was deteriorating. She didn’t want me around her anymore. With the money from selling her house, she went into a care home.

“I did my postgrad at the original university and visited her as much as I could. She has leukaemia and despite still being here, two years longer than the doctors thought, they’ve warned us that she has about a month left.”

She stops to wipe her eyes. She sniffs and clears her throat.

“I knew I was going to do my Master’s, even though we fought about it, but I wanted to do it here at NFU, so that I can be close to her. Her new nursing home is just down the road. She won’t be around much longer, but I don’t want her last days to be spent hating me and thinking that I’m some whore who is in a relationship with two men.”

“Rosemary, we’re so sorry,” Ez says.

“I can’t believe you’ve had to go through all that alone,” I tell her. “You’re so strong.”

She laughs humourlessly and wipes her eyes. “I don’t feel strong,” she responds. “But yeah, that’s why I’m not sure it’s a good idea to meet her. She might just yell at you.”

Ez shrugs. “Wouldn’t be the first time a women put me in my place.”

Rosemary smiles at that and I’m pleased to see her looking happier. She wipes her eyes again and her expression perks up.

“Can we see you again, tomorrow?” Ez asks her.

“Um, okay. I have church in the morning, I can meet you from twelve onwards.”

“What church do you go to?”

“North Forest Fellowship Church on Abbey Lane.”

“We’ll pick you up from your flat and take you for lunch,” I suggest.

Rosemary looks at me and frowns. “How do you know that I live in a flat?”

Shit.

Ez glares at me, sending daggers my way for letting it slip.

“Uh, well, you don’t live with your grandmother and you’re a student. I just assumed you live in a flat,” I retort quickly.

She looks at me for a moment and then nods. “Okay. Do you need my address?”

“Please. You can write it here. And put your phone number too, please.” Ez hands her a piece of paper and a pen.

“There you go.” She hands it back to Ez and gets to her feet. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”

“Yes. See you tomorrow,” Ez replies.

I stand up, too. “See you later, kitten.”

She blushes at the nickname and lets herself out. As soon as the door closes behind her, I let out a shaky exhale.

“That was close,” Ez says, frowning in disapproval. “You lied to her.”

“I didn’t lie, I just didn’t tell. We don’t want her to be mad at Oya.”

“No,” Ez admits. “We don’t.”

“I want to go to her church,” I tell him. “See what the big deal is. Shall we drive by now?”

Ez agrees and we walk out to our car. He throws me the keys and I load up the directions to get to Rosemary’s church. Five minutes later, we pull up in front of it. I’ll admit that it’s a pretty building. Made of sandstone and with a pointed roof, it’s not ugly. We both get out of the car and walk up to the sign out front. There’s a program for all the services.

Saturday: 10AM Morning Service

3 hymns with performances from Lilah Myers and Rosemary Moore

“Our mate is singing,” I tell Ez, nudging him and pointing at the listing.

He looks at me and smirks. “I guess we’re going to church tomorrow.”

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On Saturday morning, Ezekiel and I park up in the church car park. It’s pretty full and people are already going into the building. We’re both dressed in shirts and slacks.

We might not be Christian, but everyone knows you dress well for church services. I’m not sure how well my silver hair will go down with the congregation, but I guess we’ll see.

Slipping in amongst the crowd, we enter the impressive building. My brother and I take our seats on the pew farthest from the pulpit. I don’t want our mate seeing us and freaking out. I position myself behind a woman with a particularly large hat, that should hide my tell-tale hair.

The start service is as dull as I thought it would be. The pastor thanks everyone for coming and reads from the Bible. We sing a couple hymns and for a while, I question whether us coming was a good idea.

Will the Moon Goddess be offended that we visited a church?

It’ll be okay. She knows we’re here for our mate. I hear our mate’s name mentioned and I start focussing again. Dressed in a pretty dress and a cardigan, our mate takes to the stage.

The music starts playing and I don’t recognise the tune. I look at the service card in front of me and read that she is singing I Will Fear No More by The Afters.

Her sweet voice comes through the microphone and fills the church. My heart stops and everything falls away. One glance at Ez tells me that he is equally as enraptured.

She’s like siren, mesmerising us with her voice. I can feel myself hanging on to every note, praying that it doesn’t end. I feel disappointed when the music fades away, but I clap like crazy with the rest of the congregation. Pride fills me. My mate sings like an angel.

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Ezekiel and I are outside Rosemary’s flat ten minutes early, waiting in the car.

“I can’t believe how beautiful her voice was,” I murmur against my fingers, my chin resting on my hand as I look out of the window.

“I know. I want to hear her again.”

“If she sings like that every week, she might actually convince me to start going to church.”

The back door suddenly opens and we both jump. A shy Rosemary slides into the back seat.

“Hi,” she says bashfully. “I saw you sitting out here and I thought I’d come down to meet you.”

Both Ez and I are surprised but very happy.

I recover first. “That’s okay, kitten. How are you? You look beautiful.”

Her cheeks turn pink and she buckles herself in. “I’m good, thank you. How are you?”

“We’re fine, thank you,” Ez finds his voice. “You ready for some lunch?”

“Sure. Where we were you thinking?”

“Well, in the interest of not being seen by anyone on campus, we were wondering if you wanted to go to either; somewhere outside of town or to one of the restaurants on our pack territory?”

Rosemary chews on her bottom lip, considering her options. “Um, there’s a really good Turkish bar on the outskirts of town. Oya is always raving about it.”

Ez and I share a smile. We both guessed that she wouldn’t pick going to our territory, but it’s okay.

“Sure, that sounds great,” I reply enthusiastically.

“How was church this morning?” Ez asks her he pulls out and takes us across town.

The question seems to take our mate by surprise. “Um, really good, thanks.”

We get to the restaurant and the hostess leads us to a table for four in the window. After ordering our food, Ez and I try and get to know Rosemary a little more. She’s twenty-three. She has travelled a little with her school and universities, but has never been anywhere with her grandmother. She wants to visit Malaysia, where her mother was from.

“My grandmother, as you know, is very strict,” she tells us sadly. “She raised me to feel guilty for being half shifter. I never thought too much about what she though, because my father was so excited about me being a shifter when I was a child.

“I remember him explaining to me what my first shift would be like. He would shift in the garden and let me ride around on his back. I loved it. Grandmother never succeeded in making me dislike shifters the way she does.”

“Why is it that she hates our kind so much?” I question her. “Is it because she sees us as an abomination?”

A lot of hunters feel that way.

“No, not at all. She hasn’t got anything against shifters as a species, she hates me being one and talking about them because she sees them as the reason my mother died. She believes my mother never would have died had she not met my father. My mother intended to go back to Malaysia, and she didn’t because she met my dad. My grandmother blames my father and therefore, shifters, for her death.”

I want to tell her that that is ridiculous, but I can see from Rosemary’s expression that she already thinks it.

“She’s a special woman, my grandmother,” she says bitterly. “But, despite all our differences, I do love her. She raised me.”

The food arrives and we move onto other topics. We ask our mate what she enjoys doing in her free time.

“I don’t have many hobbies, really. Studying Greek mythology is my main hobby, but I enjoy sketching and reading.”

“And singing?” Ez asks, a knowing smile playing on his lips.

Rosemary’s eyes narrow at him. “Yes. How did you know that I like to sing?”

“We went to church today,” I tell her proudly. “You sing beautifully, we were blown away.”

Our mate looks back and forth between us, surprise on her face.

“You went to church?” She asks incredulously. “Why?”

“For you,” Ezekiel replies. “We wanted to see what you liked so much. If it’s important to you, it’s important to us. Plus, we wanted to hear you sing.”

Rosemary blushes and looks down at the tablecloth. “I can’t believe you did that for me.”

“We’ll do anything for you, kitten,” Ezekiel says earnestly.

“Anything,” I agree.

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