Harlow hung up the moment she heard Rhen’s voice as he opened my door when they located me where I was still parked on the side of the road. Rhen said nothing as he peered down at me and I rested my head back on the headrest. “You got her to ring me.” I breathe and I close my eyes.
“No, but she was on the phone with Leon when we felt you freak out,” So she rang on her own accord not because she was asked to? I swallowed and nodded my head.
“You’re not driving like that, climb over to the passenger seat,” Rhen said pushing on my arm to move. Sighing, I relent and do as he tells me, quickly moving to the other seat as he climbs into the car.
“Are we going home?” I ask him.
“Is that where you want me to drop you?” he asks and I turn my head to look at him.
“Are you all coming home?” I ask him and he purses his lips but says nothing.
“I want to go wherever you are all going,” I tell him. He nods once and we follow Raidon back to his parent’s new place.
The Hamptons-looking home was vast, and everything Elaine had always wanted, it was also out of the city and surrounded by forest. Rhen pulls into the garage and shuts the car off before climbing out. Elaine stood by the door staring at the cars as she worried her lip between her teeth. Even here! found no comfort, even surrounded by my mates. When I don’t climb out of the car, Raidon opens my door looking at me expectantly,
“Come on, Mum made lunch,” he tells me. And I nod once before he steps aside. I followed him through the house with neutral tones and high ceilings, it resembled a show home and I knew Elaine was very house proud, as she always had been.
“Are you staying the night dear?” she asked me as I stepped into the huge gallery-style kitchen that overlooked the living room with its open rooms and sweeping polished floors.
I looked at Raidon, it was his mother’s house, not mine and I wasn’t sure I was welcome despite her asking as I took a seat on the couch. Leon comes in moments later and watches me closely as he moves toward the living area. I wanted to feel anger at him for draining me, for knocking me out yet! felt nothing but numb, desensitized to the anger I felt before.
He stops in front of me as if asking the question of my forgiveness. Yet it was me who should be asking for theirs. When he doesn’t move to sit, I reach for him, gripping his wrist and tugging him to sit. He sighs leaning against me, yet I could feel his burning hunger, the need to feed from his Alpha. So strong as it was Harlow.
“Yes, ma he is staying the night,” Raidon answers and I didn’t realize how much I was hoping he would say yes until the words spilled from his lips. Elaine smiles fondly at her son, we were always close, and after a while I found myself relaxing in her new home.
The night was long as my mates settled into the routine they had for the past few days here. Raidon s father went to bed early having rounds at the local hospital that was understaffed right now, and he was called in for the early hour’s shift.
Elaine sat on the armchair across from us going through boxes of paperwork she needed to sort out. Rhen going over her finances from his laptop beside her, she hands him a folder and he accepts it, flicking through the pages for something he needed for her taxes.
Turning my attention back to the TV, I leave them be, before Rhen packs up his laptop, having finished doing whatever it was she asked of him. I watch as he stretches and yawns.
“It’s finished, I just need to send it in tomorrow,” he tells her before rising to his feet. He leans down pecking her cheek.
“I’m going to head to bed,” he tells her and she nods, going back to her task at hand of sorting through the office paperwork she had. Leon and Raidon are quick to follow after him and Leon stops behind Elaine looking at me expectantly I sigh. I was much too wired for sleep yet the way he watched me I knew he was asking for me to follow.
“I think I will do the same,” I tell Elaine, getting to my feet as she pulls out some journal; looking it over with a confused expression. I lean down pecking her cheek and as she opens it.
“Night son,” she tells me, picking up whatever fell from between its pages and landed on the floor by her feet.
I followed Raidon and the others to a room upstairs where they had pushed two queen beds together. It felt awkward almost as if waiting for permission to rest with them.
Yet as they climbed into bed I found myself following and within moments of my head hitting the pillow my eyes closed as their familiar scents surrounded me. Feeling the bed dip I went to roll when I felt the sharp pierce of Leon’s fangs as they sunk deep into my neck.
Turning my head so he had better access, my fingers found their way into his hair as I caressed his scalp, his tongue lapping hungrily at me, enticing a moan from my lips as I pulled him on top of me, His hard c***k dug into my stomach as he moved against me before pulling his fangs from my neck.
My blood dribbled down from his lips as he pulled back, his tongue poking out to lick it up as I held him in place.
Raidon groaned beside Rhen feeling Leon’s sudden arousal and mine as I relished his weight atop of me, the feel him in my arms as he peered down at me. Gripping the back of his neck, I drew him.
closer and he groaned as his lips moved against mine just as demanding as his fangs were embedded in my neck. My tongue sweeps across his lips, and his lips part granting me access as tugged at his boxers.
Yet before I could relish in the desire coursing through me, the door burst open and the light was flicked on Leon lurched to the side, as Elaine’s scent wafted to us, and I sat up rubbing my eyes against the brightness of the light.
“Geez mum, knock next time,” Raidon growls at her as he too sits up. Startled, peered toward the door where Elaine stood white as a ghost. Alarm coursed through me seeing her so frightened and I tossed the blanket back.
“Mum?” Raidon asked her as Rhen groaned at the lights.
“I made a mistake,” she whispers and my brows scrunch together in confusion. Her skin is clammy as she steps into our room with the journall saw her with before I left the living room. Her hand shook as she clutched it, the journal gripped so tight her knuckles were pressed white beneath her skin.
“Mum?” Raidon asks, but it was me she moved toward.
“I’m sorry, oh god, I’m so sorry,” she pleaded as tears began to steadily stream down her face.
“Sorry for what?” I ask her, completely confused by whatever had spooked her so much. The look on her face was as broken as the one she wore when she learned of my mother, one of immense grief and fear. Elaine wore that same look as she handed me the journal.
“She didn’t do it, she didn’t kill, Hana,” she murmured before her legs gave out from under her. Her knees hit the floor hard and Raidon rushed to her side, gripping her under the arms and hauling her to her feet.
“What are you talking about?” he demanded as I flicked open the journal wondering what she was talking about. The first page is chocked with old photos, a photo of Harlow and Zara, and photos of them with their parents. Yet it was turning the next page that had me startled beyond comprehension It was a drawing of my mother, so precise, so exact it was as if I was staring at her in real life.
“Harlow, son. She didn’t do it, she didn’t do it.” Elaine sobbed into her son’s shoulder just as the door burst open again and his father came in search of his upset mate.
“Oh she’ll never forgive me for what I have done,” Elaine wailed as I flicked through the pages to find a drawing of the car that she supposedly ran off the road before finding her writing scrawled on the pages telling a different story of the one I knew.
One where my mother told her to run, yet the most shocking thing of all, her drawings one of the people I least expected to see, it was the lead investigator of the case, labeled above his head was murderer. I stared down at her neat handwriting, the wheels turning in my head as I saw everything from a perspective other than the one I was told.
The way she described my mother it was clear she felt safe in her presence not threatened, In the journal I learned so much, tales of her fight, she spoke of her shame, and the blame she felt for her sister, her fear as she learned of my mother’s passing, worried they were still hunting her as they did through the forest for hours while she lay inside a hollowed log for three days, too scared to move and covering her scent in thick mud.
Everything proving her innocence lay within the pages, along with everything we didn’t know and the pictures drawn by her hand of the men she feared from that day. My heart raced as I turned each page before I looked up to see Elaine frightened.
She flinches as I stand as if she thought I would strike her for the blame she felt. Yet the moment! stood, the book fell to the bed, lost from her grip as I rushed toward the bathroom.
I barely made it as I threw up the contents of my stomach, sickened by my actions, sickened at what I had done to a woman just as innocent as she claimed she was My stomach twisted at the deep pit forming as I realized just how truly I had f***ked up. The evidence is right there. Now I had no way of making excuses for the things I had done. No way of making it up to her or correcting the wrongs made.
All I could think was what have I done, what have done to the woman I loved, she would never forgive me but I sure would try to make it up to her, if she would have me.
Every morning I awoke to find myself in the den, savoring the last remnants of her scent. The past four days I had spent living alone, working alone, and just being on my own. Not one of them would take my calls, I did however notice numerous calls going to Alpha Jake’s phone. I could feel their anxiousness and the way they craved her. Which was the same way I did.
I pushed them too far, and in turn, pushed her to leave us. Yet locked in my depression I couldn’t bring myself to face them. Felt their disappointment in me, crushed parts I refused for so long to allow to be broken.
Or so I thought because now I realized they were never whole, to begin with. Some facade of which I thought was whole. But I was just kidding myself, hiding behind my guilt, behind my anger.
My mother would be cursing my name for what I have done. I knew I should have gone with her, I shouldn’t have let her go on her own and that is a mistake I will have to live with for the rest of my life.
Climbing the stairs from the den, I moved toward the kitchen counter where I had left my phone hoping by some miracle they had called, or I would find a message saying she had returned to us. We had lost so much, but this time it wasn’t someone else that took from my mates, it was me and that guilt killed me the most.
Staring down at the screen I see no messages or missed calls and sigh. Dialing Raidon’s number the phone rings out. Setting it down I filled the jug before I pushed the button down on the kettle. Just as I reach for my phone to try again; a message comes through from him.
Raidon: She is safe Three words and the relief they caused me was immense.
Me: You spoke with her? I send in return.
This was the first contact I had with any of them and I didn’t want to risk ringing and having him not answer
Raidon: Yes, but you need to leave her alone, Thane. I know you are watching our calls and I know you know where she is.
Me: Come home Tell her to ring me then.
Raidon: It’s not home without her
That is all he replies, it angers me and I set the phone down, Knowing better than to reply while angry Raidon is hot-headed and it is why we clash the most, I would get nowhere with him by arguing But he was right, I knew she was with Jake, I also knew as much as we don’t get along, he knows better than to hurt her.
Our families are all connected. We may not see eye to eye, but there are some boundaries he will push, like at work when he was pestering me about Harlow. Yet ultimately he knows better than to cross me Alphas are competitive by nature, he does it for the challenge but we both know who would win that one despite him having more mates than me.
Technically he should be stronger, yet I was one thing he isn’t. I was Alpha of Alpha born. My mother was never just my father’s mate but their equal, my mate’s submission only enhanced that ten-fold.
Making my coffee the phone vibrates on the counter and I glance at it before reaching for it.
Raidon: She wants to come home but she is too scared to.
I stare at the screen pondering on what to reply. Yet every time I see Harlow that blistering anger returns. All I see is her drenched in my mother’s blood, see Tara and the way she manipulated us all until we were too blind to see the possibilities she took from us. I never loved Tara, I thought I did. Zara, I fell in love with only to learn she was Harlow, and just like Tara she lied. She manipulated us into believing she was someone else and I wanted to punish her for it. Instead, I see punished all of US.
Me: Then tell her to come home.
Raidon: And what is she coming home to, Thane? She believes you want to kill her, or believes you want to put her in rotation.
I sighed now regretting the words I told her. Not even I would be cruel enough to go through with it, nor would l subject my mates or myself to a broken mate bond by rejecting her. Or deprive my own daughter of a mother. I needed her to fear me because her fear made my anger for her somehow seem plausible.
A minute or so passes when my phone vibrates again, only this time it is a picture message. One of Harlow and her twin.The caption attached read. Her sister is alive, Jake faked her death.
My brows furrowed in confusion as I thought back to everything I knew, how was her sister alive? Why would Jake lie about that? But that explains why he never joined the auctions again. Not once had I seen his name listed in the monthly listings.
I assumed he found an Omega within his city or one on rotation, and that’s why he was pestering me about Harlow. He had tried to cover his scent but I smelt the underlying hidden scent of an Omega on him. That’s why it angered me so much when he asked about her. That and her fear of him when he came to work that day.
Raidon: That is why he wanted her, Thane. Not for her, but for her sister. You believe him? I asked.
Raidon I believe our mate, she is safe, but she wants to come home and I am not going to get her if you are going to lock her in that den or plan on hurting her after our daughter is born.
I swallow trying to wrap my head around this piece of information, it did explain Jake’s unrelenting help after my mother died. I thought it was for his mother but now I questioned those intentions.
Raidon: Thane, are you going to give me an answer? What will you do if she comes back?
Me I don’t know I answer honestly, knowing he would feel any deception. I didn’t know, yet without her, my pack would fall apart. Without her, I would go f***king insane with constant worry. Yet would she even come back? I knew I would drag her back kicking and screaming if needed but they would hate me more for it.
Getting dressed, I move about the house, ignoring my housekeeper’s vacuuming before grabbing my keys off the dresser. Picking them up, I spot the old photo of my parents. Guilt gnaws at me, seeing their once happy faces. Guilt for letting her go alone that day.
Yet the longer I stared the more I felt her eyes scolding me, and the more I felt the disapproval I knew she would feel over this situation. Growling, I stalk out of my room, intent to go to Elaine’s and speak with them.
Their nervous energy and unease bit at me as I drove down my street, I needed to see them. Speak with them and convince them to come home. Driving across town I am distracted as headed toward Elaine’s new house where they were.
So distracted by my thoughts I hadn’t realized I was leaving the city until I saw the sign saying so. Cursing, I pulled over stopping on the side of the road about to rip a U-turn and head back yet that tugging feeling inside and the longing from the bond had me gripping the steering wheel.
My knuckles pressed tight beneath my skin and before I realized what was happening or I could stop it. I was having a panic attack.
I felt like I was dying, that my heart would stop at any second, as sweat beaded and rolled down my neck when my phone started ringing. My mates panic bleeding into me, enforcing my own. Solidifying it in place and I found myself frozen staring at the screen’s dash of their names popping up. I was losing my damn mind, losing myself in grief, anger, and guilt.
Never in my life had I suffered a panic attack, yet my life was so chaotic and falling apart. The very seams I had been trying to hold together tossed me blindly into the new experience. Names kept popping up as Raidon, Leon and Elaine tried calling me.
I knew they could feel it and knew it would be a foreign feeling for them from me. Yet my hands were locked on the steering wheel as I tried to break the course of the adrenaline pumping through my veins.
I could hear them in my head trying to talk to me, hear the mind link open yet I was muted, stunned, and embarrassed by what was happening. I felt weak, yet just as it would feel like it was easing another surge would rush through me.
The Bluetooth speaker started ringing again, a private number popped up while they kept telling me to answer their calls, telling me to pick up and calm down. With great force, my finger slides over the button on the steering wheel.
“You‘re scaring everyone, please speak,” The moment I heard her voice I broke. The panic attack broke and was replaced with the grief of what I lost I lost the family I created, I tried to hurt her, and yet here she was calling me despite fearing me.
Whether it was because she cared or she was calling for them or because they asked her to, I didn’t care. Just relieved and destroyed at the same time hearing her voice.
You’re okay, Thane. I’m right here,” she tells me as I press my head against the steering wheel. Sucking in a huge lung full of air feeling as if my lungs had compressed.
“Breathe, Thane, it will pass. Just listen to my voice, and breathe,” she says and I nod, focusing on
her voice as she said while I cried stupidly into my steering wheel. I felt ridiculous, I didn’t even cry at my parent’s funeral. I didn’t cry when Tara turned up dead. I never cried, I always saw it as weakness, and here I was crying over Harlow leaving us, crying over the shame I felt knowing I let my mother down.
Crying over the woman I wanted nothing more than to protect but hurt beyond belief because I was too stubborn to see what was right in front of my face. She wasn’t capable of hurting anyone.
I blamed her so I didn’t have to blame myself for not going with my mother that day to get her. Rhen was right, I blamed her because I needed to believe I hadn’t wasted the past couple of years hating the one woman I now loved.