Again they were waiting for her at her office. You know one day I might not come to the office. “We’d know,” Jackson replied lazily. He was leaning up against the door to her office, appeared bored, this was how she remembered him from her days in the pack, laid back and easygoing, his normal stance.
“Get some, did we?” she laughed. He was so relaxed he must have, she thought to herself.
He raised an eyebrow at her but said nothing.
“What do you want?”
“You’re out for dinner tonight! Stephen and I thought we could watch the children.”
“Yes, Jay-la,’ he said calmly, “anything could happen to them while you’re out for hours.”
“Is that a threat, Jackson?” she queried.
He sighed, and shook his head. “ Jay-la, you have known me your whole life, do you think I would hurt your children, Nathan’s children? For that matter. He is my…best friend.”
She noted the pause he’d clearly been going to say Alpha, but had thought better of it with Jordan right at his desk.
“I was, to once” she shot back, “but you sent those men after me at his command. she shrugged, “you might take them.”
Stephen sighed heavily “please don’t fight, I hate getting in the middle of the two of you. One day I am gonna get injured if l can’t control the pair of you and talk you down.” He held his hand up to stop them both from replying to his comment. “Look, let’s call a truce just for tonight. Jay-la, you go out and have a nice dinner with Anthony and Lauren and Jackson and I will assist your nanny. A win win.”
Jay-la stared at Stephen for a long minute. Could they be trusted, she wondered. A truce. She had no idea if that would even work, but she did know that they would never hurt her pups. “Fine, but my rules and no arguing about them, period”.
“Good, state your rules,” Jackson said simply.
“I haven’t thought about them yet” and she hadn’t, had barely had time to think past them wanting to watch her children in a babysitting capacity, but she would think some up at some point.
He pushed off of her door and walked past her. “We’ll be at your apartment at 1830, half an hour before you get picked up.”
They were prompt. Jimmy buzzed her at exactly 1830 to let her know they were in the lobbý. She had him send them up. Looked at Suzzy “Don’t let them in. Not even to use the bathroom. If they try to take the children, call the police right away and give them the address l gave to you and the names I wrote down. I wouldn’t advise talking to them, especially Stephen. He will be all charming and be able to sweet talk the hell out of you.
Suzzy chuckled at that, thought it was funny. Jay-la sighed, poor Suzzy. If they did get her to open the door she was doomed to be attracted to both of them, and Jay-la was certain Stephen would use his Gamma Charm on the girl to get inside the apartment for some reason. She just hoped they weren’t going to do anything to her human nanny. It wasn’t uncommon for wolves to fool around with humans if they weren’t mated.
Jay-la waited outside her apartment, saw them get out of the elevator, both dressed very casually in jeans and tee shirts, shirts that were stretched and straining at their muscles. Hell no, they were not going anywhere near her sweet Suzzy. She’d never survive either one of them.
They both walked over smiling at her. She did not smile back at them “rules”, she stated.
- “1. you will not go inside, you stay out here on door detail
- you will hand over your phones and I will put them inside the apartment, no photos of my children for him.
- if you have to use the bathroom, there is one in the lobby, don’t ask Suzzy to let you in.
- when l get home you leave without issue. Do you both understand?”
They were both frowning now, but Stephen nodded in agreement without hesitation. He even reached into his jeans back pocket and handed over his phone to her. Jackson seemed reluctant but did comply after 10 seconds and an elbow from Stephen.
“This is not assisting” Jackson stated flatly.
“No, its guard duty.” she smiled at them sweetly, but did not say what she was thinking just what watchdogs are for’.
Kora snorted at her ‘good one. Jay-la returned to her apartment, reminded Suzzy of the rules and not to let them in for any reason, then went and pulled on the dress she had laid out for dinner.
A soft mint green silk dress that fell just below her knees, it was a fit and flare dress, hugged all her curves perfectly and then flared out from the h!ps to the hemline, she pulled on her white high heels and a white Bolero jacket and headed out the door.
Both Jackson and Stephen were leaning on the wall across from her door and openly stared at her. She saw as they both looked her up and down. Jackson gave a low whistle Take a photo, it’ll last longer.” she shot at him.
“Can’t you took away my phone. But please take one before you give it back. I’m sure I know someone who would love it. Make darnned good use of it, if you know what I mean.
Stephen laughed and punched him, then as Jay-la walked away, “Oh Jay-la, you, have a nice dinner now, won’t you.” and she heard them both laugh.
They all walked into Nilanway and as coats were being collected, Jay-la’s phone rang, her heart skipped a beat, please Goddess don’t let me have trusted them just to have them kidnap my babies. “”Il be just a minute, go on ahead,” she told Tony and Lauren, and they, were taken up stairs to their table.
She answered the phone which was indicating Home on the screen, “hello.”
“Mummy, can we have ice cream?” Lilly practically yelled down the phone at her, Jay-la’s heart settled instantly, they were all okay. ” Yes, of course you can, sweetheart” she heard Lilly yell ‘Mummy said yes’, and then the call was disconnected. Jay-la chucked to herself, Kora chortled, typical of her babies getting what they want and run away. So cute though.
She handed her bolero jacket over to the man patiently waiting for her to finish her call. She headed up the stairs after Tony and Lauren. Frowned the instant she got to the second floor, she could smell wolves and a very familiar scent at that.
Glancing around the room she saw Tony and Lauren just sitting down at a table across the other side of the room and there at the table with them was Micheal Browning and his parents, Alpha Blaine and Luna Darla.
‘Just freaking great’ she walked over to the table and looked at Rae-Rae. Oh goddess, the way she was looking at Micheal, she was his mate, a human mate. He had his hand in hers on the table, Jay-la frowned right at it and it suddenly dawned on her.
The amused looks on Jackson and Stephen’s faces when Tony had left her office that day, the comment about her going out to dinner and, tonight when she’d left her apartment again, the comment have a nice dinner’ and then them, laughing. They knew she was going to be having dinner with her Alpha’s extended family. Ass-holes. They would pay for this.
She was also willing to bet that Nathan himself knew about this, probably thought it was funny, getting a real kick out of it, she imagined.
She did not, however, sit down, her eyes glared at him, she honestly had nothing against any of the wolves there at that table, but Tony had told her Micheal had heard of her that his parents were happy for her to work on Rae-Rae’s prenup.
Which meant she would have to deal with his family in person and you can just bet they would be putting Nathan in charge of dealing with it, which meant not just phone calls, but in person meetings, and with him currently not allowed to leave his state, she would have to go to him. To the Pack.
“You son of a b***h!” she snapped at his smiling face.
“Jay-la.” she heard Alpha Blaine gasp at her tone.
“Honey what’s wrong?” Lauren asked worriedly.
“Do you know who they are?” she turned her eyes first to Lauren and then Tony. They both looked confused at her anger.
“Jay-la.” Again Alpha Blaine, but this time she heard the clear warning in his tone, making sure she knew he wouldn’t stand for her getting in the way of his son’s Mate Bond.
“This is the Browning family,” she pointed right at Micheal. “This is Nathan Browning’s younger brother and those are his parents.”
She heard both Lauren and Tony gasp in shock, saw Rae-Rae’s eyes widen, it surprised Jay-la to see Rae-Rae suddenly pull her hand from Micheal’s and stare at him wide-eyed. This was completely new to her. He should have told her, given her some warning, but it seemed he had not.
“Jay-la, that is quite enough.” Alpha Blaine stated and she heard his tone loud and clear, he was ordering her to shut up.
Micheal’s eyes had moved to his suddenly empty hand and Jay-la registered the instant distress in his expression as Rae-Rae edged away from hirn, fearing she was rejecting him, when less than 30 seconds ago she had been blissfully in love with hirn. She could also smell a small amount of fear coming off of her. Rae-Rae was like a little sister to her and she had seen Jay-la’s state when she had been brought home and had cried and sobbed all over her.
Babbling about how anyone could do that to a person was inhumane, that she hoped Nathan would be sentenced. to prison and locked up for a long time, beaten to within an inch of his life, so he knew how it felt. Now she was just realising she was in love with that man’s brother, it didn’t appear to be going down so well with her.
“Sit down.” Alpha Blaine ordered her and she sat with the weight of the order on he. She could not help it, no choice in the matter You will apologise. Micheal has never done anything wrong. And Nathan never laid a hand on you.”
He was angry. She could feel it now, she was ruining Micheal’s chance with his fated mate and Alpha Blaine wouldn’t stand for it.
He could see Rae-Rae’s reaction to the news as well as her parents, both Lauren and Tony were reaching for Rae-Rae to move her away from Micheal. Jay-la knew if she did ruin this Alpha Blaine and Luna Darla would never forgive her. She had thought Alpha Blaine could be trusted, but she guessed not. He was, after all, Nathan’s father. What more could she expect from him, other than taking his own son’s side.
“This is not about you Jay-la, this is about Micheal and Rae-Rae’s Bond and Marriage to each other”.
Don’t screw it up, I am warning you he shot at her through the mind-link. It hit her like a hot knife searing into her brain. She hadn’t even known if she still had the ability to use it anymore, being gone for so long. Clearly he could and with great force. Her head was actually now aching from the force he had, used on her.
A Mate Bond was sacred, especially a goddess-gifted one. She didn’t want to be here, couldn’t be here, would only screw everything up royally and she wouldn’t be able to help herself.
She stood and left almost at a run, heading for the ladies’ room. She couldn’t breathe, felt suddenly smothered and completely overwhelmed. She really honestly didn’t want to hurt Rae-Rae or Micheal’s Bond at all, it was just such a shock to her that they were all there, and trying to arrange a Bond between her surrogate human sister and her Alpha’s brother. She really needed a moment to compose herself and get it together.
She heard the door open behind her, she could smell Luna Darla immediately and her hands gripped the basin tightly.
“It’s okay Jay-la.” she sighed softly “l understand, a bit of a shock to see us all here.”
“That’s an understatement.” Jay-la bit out, trying to ignore her tone.
First, it was Stephen with his Gamma Charm and now it was Darla with her Luna Calm. She had to get out of here, Jay-la stood up and tried to step around Luna Darla, but the woman blocked her way.
“No Jay-la,” she said calaly, confident in her ability to be able to get her to listen. Luna’s were supposed to be able to make the packs feel safe and give advice, be wise and fair. It was their gift from the goddess to be able to calm her pack members and engender trust, “Please just hear me out.”
Jay-la shook her head. “No, you’ll trick me.”
Darla chuckled and stepped closer to her, placed a hand on her arm. “Everything is going to be just fine Jay-la. You can come home now. It’s all safe and you’re welcome, I assure you.”
Kora was listening intently. Jay-la, too, couldn’t help it. This woman was a Luna, a former Luna, but once a Luna always a Luna. Her power still seemed so strong, shouldn’t it have lessened when the next Luna took over? She was sure it should have the minute of transfer to the new Alpha and Luna, when they took over the pack, but here she was right in front of Darla and her Luna powers seemed just as strong as ever. Very odd.
“I’m not safe there.’ she shook her head in denial. She could never believe she or her pups would ever be safe around the Luna, no matter what.
Yes, you are. I will vouch for your safety. Just come home. Nathan wants to see you. Wants to meet your pups too. We all do Jay-la.’ she was rubbing Jay-la’s arm, stepping closer to her.
Jay-la knew what she was doing, same as Stephen trying to sway her, influence her into going home to the Pack, a place too dangerous for her babies to ever be. She stepped away and shook her head. “No, stop it.” she was using all her strength to resist the woman before her, hell bent on convincing her to go home and take her babies with her.
“Jay-la, please sweetheart, all is just mixed up, it will be okay. I promise.”
“No…” she whispered, squeezing her eyes tightly shut.
Closing her eyes and not looking at her, when she had stopped looking at Stephen it had worked. Perhaps she could do the same with Darla. Kora was whimpering now, wanting to go home. That bastard had too many people, too much power and he was throwing all he had at her. He didn’t even have to do it himself, everyone around him would do it for him and when he got his hands on her, then what? Fear crept in.
Take her babies away from her for sure. To punish her even more for not going home, not taking them back to him once he knew about them. He was going to destroy her. Make her suffer the worst punishment, to bare the loss of her pups.
He’d probably imprison her for the rest of her life and never let her see them ever again. All the worst scenarios were popping into her mind, bombarding her, increasing her ear tenfold.
She could feel herself filling with distress at just the thought of it. Kora was whimpering now with her, now also trying to fight their former Luna’s power over them. She did not want to be separated from her pups. Not for a single minute, let alone the rest of their lives. It would be better to die than suffer that.
But his anger and fury would make him want to punish them, to make them śuffer an eternity of pain away from their babies, and he had the power to make it happen, a simple word, a snap of his fingers and boom her world over, her babies gone from her forever, and the torture of her and Kora’s very souls would begin.
Jay-la’s whole body was rapidly filling with dread, so much so she knew it was outweighing the Luna’s Calm and she could feel it. Luna Darla’s power was weakening over her.
She yanked herself away from Luna Darla, staring at her. She registered Luna Darla’s shocked look that she could fight off the Luna’s power, then read sadness in her eyes, watched as tears filled her former Luna’s eyes and distress started to pour out of the woman as she stared at her, almost as much distress as Jay-la felt herself, could she feel Jay-la’s fear, it was possibly she knew it was coming off of her in uncontrollable waves right this moment.
Jay-la shoved past her, her pain too great just thinking about the punishment that would come. She couldn’t even bare the thought of it, it was too disturbing, she had to get out of here, away from them, all of them, back to her babies.
Luna Darla called her name as she ran from the ladies’ room, she pushed through the door only to run right into Alpha Blaine. He looked at her worriedly, then his eyes moved to his Mate behind her, who had rushed out of the ladies’ room after her.
His eyes glazed over and Jay-la took the chance to run, though she only got a few steps before his hand landed on her wrist, too fast even for her and Kora, other than Nathan, Blaine was the only wolf in the pack that could catch her.
“Jay-la wait.” he practically begged her.
“No, leave me alone.”
“It’s really okay” he stated “No harm will ever come to you or your babies.”
“She’ll never let them live,” Jay-la whispered, pain ripping through her and Kora alike at the thought of someone hurting their pups. They were so tiny and defenceless and didn’t deserve that fate, just because she had born them. It wasn’t their fault.
“About Sophia honey,” Luna Darla said softly, trying again to use her Luna Calm.
“I don’t care about her!” Jay-la snapped “l don’t care she is mated to him,” and she truly didn’t. She just desperately wanted to keep her babies away from her, keep them safe.
It’s what she lived for, their safety and only she could provide it. She was their mother.
“Jay-la honey, she’s gone. He has no Luna” Alpha Blaine rushed out, trying to stop her from leaving as she was pulling at the hand he had on her wrist which was preventing her from getting away from leaving the restaurant.
“I still don’t care,” she yelled at him. Jay-la could still recall their last encounter. He hadn’t even known about her, babies then and the anger and fury coming off of him directed at her was clear to her, and now he did know, more reason for him to be furious at her.
‘Kora’ she begged her wolf to help her, to help them to She felt Kora push forward in a rush so fast, like she had done that fateful day that led up to this very moment, their defiance was bound to get them in more trouble, but what more pain could she suffer than being separated from her pups forever by him, by the man she had loved with everything shed had. Pain was pulling at her every fibre, she would never let him take them away, even if it meant defying every alpha in the wolfen society, she would do it for them.
We’re strong Kora, do it’ she sobbed to her wolf, unable to cope anymore with the pain inside of her.
Alpha Blaine’s whole body went rigid, he knew it was about to get very real, even though they were here in a human restaurant, Kora growled at him deep and viscous like Jay-la had never heard her do before.
All animalistic and primal, the days of her being a law-abiding pack member were long over, long dead. They might as well be rogues.
Luna Darla shot in front of her Alpha, suddenly yanking his hand off of Jay-la’s arm. She heard a chair tip over and heavy footsteps coming this way fast. Micheal was coming.
‘Run’ Jay-la told Kora, there were no hands on her at present, ‘we can’t take all of them’ and Kora turned and ran from the restaurant at the top of her wolf speed, not stopping for anyone or anything in her way. People were knocked over and she didn’t care. They ran non-stop till they were a good dozen blocks away and certain no one was following them. Then they just stopped and stared at nothing, into the darkness of the night. Didn’t know where they were.
Looking around, she saw a bus bench and went and sat down on it. Kora had receded now, to the back of her mind, control handed over.
They just sat for a long time not knowing what to do, then called a cab, unable to make sense of much of anything.
Both their minds were more than a little chaotic with many different thoughts from both of them crashing into each other, confusion ebbing in them both, for the first time in a long time they were both at a loss, and needed to pull themselves together.
Then their thoughts aligned for a single moment Pups’ and she was in a cab headed home, and had no idea what was waiting for her to be honest. She wanted to go home desperately, but knew it was probably going to be a death sentence. They had just sized up Alpha Blaine and were ready to tear him apart or try to in order to get away.
To be honest, she wanted her mum right now, to hold her and tell her everything was going to be okay, but that wasn’t going to happen. She headed for her apartment, stopped the cab a block away and made her way on foot behind the building, careful to watch for any other wolves patrolling her building. She knew they were there.
It took a good 20 minutes to find a gap in the patrol and slip through it, used her key card to access the stairwell and climbed the flights of stairs to her floor. Would they still be there? Of course they would.
Suzzy hadn’t called to say anything was wrong, and she would. They would not leave a bloody mess in her apartment when killing her children.
It was likely they were either unaware of the situation, she had removed their phones from them, or they were waiting for her to come home to take her in.
Jay-la stood by the fire door to her floor, biting her l!p nervously on the fact that she wasn’t ready to be brought in, so she turned and continued to the roof.
The weather was turning cold, winter was almost upon them, how she missed the snow-filled winter days, the snowball fights with her brother, the snow drifts to hide in, pounce on and generally play in. A sigh came from her, with many wolves around her making her very nostalgic.
No wonder Kora had been off lately. Jay-la stood and looked out over the city, this had been her home for so long, but deep down inside of her and Kora, they knew it wasn’t home, no forest to run in. No wolves to socialise with, no other pups for her pups to play with.
She had gotten so used to being alone. Was this how it felt to be a rogue, she wondered, overwhelmed when you could smell other wolves, stressed at knowing they were all about you, fear always on the edge of your mind, always deep down wondering when they would come for you, her fight or flight response constantly on alert. Adrenaline is never far from the surface. She had thought she was fine, but tonight proved her wrong, she was anything but fine.
Had probably never been fine in all honesty. It was probably the reason she was fighting so hard not to go home.
Her flight response was activated and maybe it had always been, but she had just gotten so used to it being there she’d forgotten about it. It had become the norm.
She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, returned to her normal state of being. It took several deep breaths but she managed it, but yes, there in the corner of her mind was that constant nagging feeling of run’ even though she wasn’t going to right this minute, it was there within her.
She pushed it down hard, but now that she understood herself better, her response, she knew that one feeling had always been in her mind just so far back, she had learned to live with it. They could never go rogue, she did not want that overwhelming feeling of fear to be embedded in her children for all their lives. It was a hideous feeling, the Winter Moon Pack was looking much more appealing to her now than it ever had before.
She walked down the stairs to her floor and pulled the door open and walked down the corridor to her apartment.
Both Jackson and Stephen were still there, they were staring at her intently, they knew something had happened, she could tell from the way they both leaned off the wall, their bodies tense and ready for anything. She thought she could see concern in them, both of them, faked she imagined.
She had no idea what time it was, or how long she had spent out on the street, or up on the roof top for that matter.
She was a little numb right that minute, just wanted to shut the world out and go back to being on her own with her babies. She wished they would all just go away and leave her alone, like she had been for the last 6 years. Jay-la ignored their looks and went to her apartment, unlocked the door, retrieved their phones, and tossed them out the door, she didn’t care if they caught them or if they shattered on the floor, then shut the door and locked it.
Suzzy was asleep on her couch, she covered her with the cream throw rug hung over the back of it, and let her sleep.
She would pay her for the whole night. Then she walked through her apartment and looked at the girls. They were sound asleep safely in their beds. She walked to Nate’s room and checked on him, it was like he knew.
His eyes opened and he sat up bleary eyed “Mummy, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, go back to sleep,” she assured him and watched as he stared at her for a minute before lying down and closing his eyes to allow sleep to reclaim him.
She walked to her bedroom, stripped off her dress, and lay down on her bed. The clock read 0137. She was utterly emotionally worn out. How were they going to survive this?