A full blown shiver woke her up this morning. She’d managed to get to the bathroom and turn the show on, and stand in there while it hit her, washed over her and was sitting on the floor afterwards, her head back against the tiles, trying to catch her breath. Well, at least it had not hit her on that plane last night. Only occasionally did they stop mid shiver. Who knew why? Not her, that was for sure.
She showered and headed into the pack’s town centre for brunch. Sat and watched as pack members went about their business, some of them smiled at her and said hello or good morning, she returned their greetings. Others looked at her as if wondering why she was here at all. A few saw her and dismissed her altogether. Guess it was to be expected, a mixed response to her presence here in the pack again. Seeing as what she used to be last time she was here.
Saw both her sisters walk past, smiled right at them, had not seen them in a long time only up there on stage for them to pledge their loyalty to West. They had grown up a lot, she now realised.
They both looked at her and frowned as though they didn’t know who she was, and then continued on their Way.
Jo-anne frowned, she noticed the uniforms of the packs laundry that they were wearing, simple pale green dress. Why would they be working in the laundry? she wondered.
“Don’t worry about them love.” the cafe owner told her. “Annoying young ladies, both of them.
Think they are better than their standing.”
“They’re my sisters,” Jo-anne replied, looking up at her.
“oh, sorry, they don’t much look like you.” She commented.
“Different mother,” Jo-anne clarified for her.
She had grey eyes and cinnamon brown hair with lightly tanned skin. And her sisters both had dark brown hair and pale skin, lots of freckles across both their noses and dark brown eyes. Both were also, she noted, short, like their mother Karen, they both took after her, it seemed. Didn’t get their fathers’ height. Unlike Jo-anne who stood at 5ft 10 inches, both her sisters would be lucky to make 5ft 5inches.
But both of them should know who she was.
She might be 9 and 7 years older than them respectively, but she had lived in the same house as them until she was 16 and she’d not left the pack until she was 18. They would have been 11 and 9, so surely they would recall her.
“Do they work in the laundry? Do you know?”
The woman, Jean, her name tag read, just looked at her for a moment, a little oddly “Do you not know?”
“Know what?” she had no idea what the woman was talking about.
Watched the woman glance at her sisters up the road and then sighed and looked back at her.
“I wasn’t here for what happened between you and the Alpha, came here after I met my Mate about 6 years ago, but rumour has it, Alpha Westley, de-ranked them when you left. The day after you left, I think it was.
Jo-anne’s eyes widened in complete surprise, no, she had not known that. Alpha Damien had never once said anything to her about it. Not in all the years she had been dealing with him. Not even when he and Luna Natalia had turned up at her dorm to make sure she was alright, nothing.
“My father? You wouldn’t happen to know what happened to him, would you?”
“Border patrol, my Mate shifts with him sometimes. He’s a patrolman as well. Heath keeps to himself mostly from what I understand.”
Jo-anne sighed that was a relief to hear. She thought for a minute that West had de-ranked them right down to Omega status. She had not meant to hurt her family when leaving West, though at the time hadn’t thought about anything or anyone else, just wanted to get out, to set him and herself free of their Mate Bond.
She guessed he was happy to get rid of her family right away.
Though Jo-anne knew that they had all been ranked up, by the end of her first week of being West’s Mate, she had not been there for it. Had only heard about it. She also knew that they had gotten perks from it, to go along with their new title, as the future Luna’s mother. A new house out on the lake and eventually new cars as well, but she had not been a part of that, and she’d barely seen them at all. Her schedule had been very full once she’d been moved into West’s room.
Still in school and then riqht after school she’d had to attend Luna Lessons, and occasionally she’d had to attend the higher-ranked events, not that she had ever wanted to. Then, when she’d had enough, she had just turned to her studies. She’d seen her sisters in passing and her stepmother, but Karen had gone back to ignoring her, the moment West had been forced to take her as his Mate.
Her sisters, she’d never really been close with them. Spoiled the both of them, right from birth, Karen loved and doted on them, unlike her, not her flesh and blood, so not closely bonded unfortunately, not that Jo-anne hadn’t tried to be a good daughter to the woman. She was the only mother Jo-anne had known, and wanted the woman’s approval.
She’d always been just polite to Jo-anne, never cruel or mean, just a little on the indifferent side.
Guess having a reminder of her Mate’s first Mate, hanging around all the time, hurt her. A Constant reminder that he’d had a Mate before her, loved another before her, bore a child to that other woman as well, kind of put a rift between them, she sighed.
Jo-anne had heard that Luna Natalia and Karen were the ones planning her 18th birthday and that it had been going to be a massive deal. West had hated it. Told her at one point it was a waste of the packs money, the amount of money being spent on it was ridiculous, glared right at her.
Jo-anne had told him not to bother with it at all, she didn’t want a party. And it had been the truth.
That had been a week before she’d stopped talking to him altogether.
Perhaps she should go and visit them, though if West had de-ranked them that quickly, they might not be happy to see her at all. She didn’t know. Not really getting along with her stepmother and then being de-ranked, because Jo-anne had rejected West, probably wouldn’t go down so well.
Jo-anne sighed and stayed put for now.
Thinking about it made her wonder what her rank in the pack was for that matter. Probably just like her sisters, she had no idea. Perhaps T.J. would know.
She was pretty certain it was very low. She sighed, guess she should find somewhere in the pack to live. She couldn’t stay in the pack house with no rank.
“Jean, are there any available places to live in town?” she asked as she paid for her meal, though it was unlikely, this was a good sized pack 1500 when she’d last been here, but homes were generally built on an as-needed basis.
“I’m not sure, perhaps you could try over in the un-mated apartment building. There are always rooms becoming available over there.”
Jo-anne nodded “Thanks, I guess I should,” though she didn’t much like the idea. That place was just one big free for all. Un-mated male and female wolves who didn’t care to wait on their Goddess-Gifted Mates lived there and they were happy to sleep around with anyone. Even when she had been growing up, her father had told her to stay away from it.
Jo-anne headed back to the pack-house, strolled through to the library. No matter what rank you were, the library was available to all. She took herself up to the second floor of it where all the portraits of all the previous Alpha’s and Luna’s were. Alpha Damien’s portrait was here now she saw.
West must have removed it right away from the office. She wondered if he’d want one of himself. Doubted very much, even if he did, that she would be the artist to get to paint his portrait. Though she was very good at it. Made quite a tidy profit, well had until Alpha Damien had jacked the packs fee right up.. She knew why, to make her want to come home.
It would go right back to 25% once she moved home. Incentive to come home she thought absently.
West, however, was not a fan of hers, she’d already gotten two Alpha Orders on her, one not to set foot in South Korea, a place she really did want to go and be in. The second not allowed to leave the pack without his permission. Why would he do that? Want that? She didn’t know, the man was a law unto himself. She’d never understood him, apparently never would.
“Jo-anne?” a female voice gained her attention.
She turned around and found herself face to face with Miranda, the future Luna of her pack. Smiled a little nervously at the woman “Hello.” Were they about to get into a fight, about what happened between Volt and Clova. Though her tone had not implied hostility.
“I heard from Alpha Damien that you’re quite a good artist.”
“Yes, I do oil paintings and water colours, mostly some acrylic.”
“Excellent.” she suddenly smiled brightly up at her and grabbed onto her arm. “Could you paint a portrait of West and 1? One of us together.”
“I could, though I doubt West would want that.”
Miranda laughed and waved a hand at her, “Oh, don’t worry about that, he’s a teddy bear at times. I want to give it to him as a gift, once he makes me officially the Luna.”
A teddy bear at times. Jo-anne did not believe that, but if it was true, she would like to see it for herself. Definitely would not believe that unless she saw it with her own two eyes. Nothing so far since coming back here, had led her to believe that was a truthful statement.
“If you think, it won’t make him mad. That he would be okay with it, I don’t see why not,” She nodded, wasn’t going to say no to the future Luna.
“It will be all good. But I do want him to be smiling in that portrait.”
“That might be a bit of a challenge. The man has never smiled when I am around,” she told the woman honestly.
It was really weird, the woman seemed so happy and still willing to be with West after what his wolf had done. Perhaps he had explained it to her, who knew. But it was pretty clear to Jo-anne that Miranda had no idea it was J0-anne’s wolf that had hurt hers.
Jo-anne was not about to be the one to tell her either, that was up to West. If she did say anything. even so much as apologise to Miranda, and it brought trouble to West and Miranda’s relationship, West would certainly hunt her down and punish her.
Best she stay out of the Alpha’s business.
“He hardly ever smiles. Might need to sneak about and take a few photos when he’s not looking. I noticed you have a good camera as well, and Luna Natalia already showed me some of the swearing in ceremony photos you sent them.”
“I do got some nice shots, I think, last time I was here.”
“The last time you were here? Did you go somewhere?” she asked, sounding a bit confused.
That surprised Jo-anne. Had West not informed his Mate where he had gone? Or why?
Goddess, this poor woman must have been frantic with worry. “Um yeah.. just gone a few days though,” she nodded. West, it seemed, had done as he pleased and didn’t even have the courtesy to inform his Mate, and she was still smiling about the man. This woman surely was indeed smitten with him. He should start treating her better. But then he might. Behind closed doors, Jo-anne had no idea.
“Oh, good! There is an Alpha’s meeting here in the pack later this week. All the allied packs Alpha’s are coming, to have an official first meeting with West,” she was smiling happily “it’s so exciting, even my father is coming. You might be able to get something then,” sounded very excited for West.
“I can certainly try.” Jo-anne nodded to her.
“Thank you, and please don’t tell him. I really want it to be a surprise.”
“Okay, that I can do.” she couldn’t refuse her future Luna. Watched as the woman headed off out of the library a bounce in her step, happy as can be. Either West treated her very well behind closed doors or she was putting up a very brave front. It had only been a few days since Volt had mated Clova. If it was her and her Mate or his wolf had done that, feeling the pain of betrayal, she doubted she would be able to forgive him, let alone be so happy out in public like that. Shook her head slightly. Not her problem, she guessed.
She sank down on a chair and looked up at the portraits. She was going to need a very large canvas. Life size would be best. She was also going to have to buy all new oils, the ones she’d had had been shipped off to Seoul, now hopefully on their way back to her, but who knew? She’d already spoken to Alpha Damien this morning. He’d linked her to tell her he was trying to sort out the mess West had created. She had thanked him not much else she could do.
She was quite upset about her lost art exhibition, but she knew no matter how upset or angry she was, she could not go storming into her Alpha’s office and scream at him for it, likely end up in the cells for it. Or have him roll his Alpha Aura right at her till she was on the floor begging for him to stop and apologising to him. Not going to happen, been there before, did not ever want to feel that again.