Agnes and I spend the morning with Kota, Rosalie, Rosalie’s baby Emile, and Evan, fighting our own anxiety from our lack of activity.
In all my life, I had never had a moment to rest, to just sit and watch a movie or play games without a care in the world.
Even if there was chance that I completed my chores, my mind and self-hatred would torture me relentlessly.
As a pup, my father put me through rigorous schooling and speech therapies to make me the best Alpha I could be.
Of course, I could never live up to his expectations.
He would make me stand before him once a week to recite the history of our pack or the laws that governed it and the kingdom.
If I faltered in my pronunciation, I would be struck with a whip.
There was never a day that I made it out of a recital without shedding blood.
My mother would weep sorrowfully, begging my father helplessly to have mercy.
She would sometimes be beaten herself for attempting to shield me.
It hurt my soul to fail her so miserably but no matter how hard I concentrated, my tongue would only grow stiffer, and my words would slur like a drunk.
After I was demoted to Omega status, I became a field hand, carrying weapons for the warriors in training or helping maintain the equipment in the hot sun or cold winters.
As I grew older, I learned many things to make myself useful such as plumbing, mechanics, painting and other basic maintenance jobs.
Agnes is no different.
With her hearing gone, she had to make herself useful to earn her meals.
No one wants an extra mouth to feed.
She was beaten relentlessly by other Omegas if she slipped up.
She learned to be quick in the kitchen, never resting for fear she would be cast out or killed by the Omegas.
So, as we sit comfortably on the couch watching Aladdin with Kota, Agnes and I find it hard to rest, wondering if at any moment, this pack’s kindness would run out.
Even Grayson could not find the words to soothe my racing thoughts.
Feeling myself about to break, I get up quietly and search for a pen and paper before approaching Rosalie with a note.
“Are you sure there is nothing we can do to be of service 2” Rosalie reads aloud before raising an eyebrow at me.
“Are you bored?” She asks nervously.
“W-we can go to the park if you like.Kota could stretch his legs and play with some other pups.Let me just get the stroller for Emile,” she says as Evan gets up from his spot to find said stroller.I shake my head at her, writing out my response.
“We just don’t want to be a burden.”She stares at the note before smiling up at me.
“You are our guests, not a burden,” She chuckles.
“Gwen asked for this favor and need,” She smiles.
“Just relax and enjoy yourselves. Take this a small vacation while Gwen finishes up her work.”
Just then we hear the door open, and Natalia appears on her own, a thoughtful look in her eyes.
“You’re back!” Rosalie chirps.
“How was the walk? Did you see all of River Moon?” She asks with a cheerful smile.
Talia smiles sheepishly, her eyes staring at her hands.
“It was …eye opening…” she replies quietly.
“Aurora just had an emergency to deal with.”
There’s a serious tone in her voice and Rosalie appears to understand the true meaning behind her words.
“Well, you’ve come just in time.I think Kota might enjoy some time at the park,”
She gestures to Kota watching the movie on the floor with Rio lying lazily next to him.
“Yeah, mommy!” Kota cries, scrambling to his feet.
“Can we go to the park?”
Talia looks anxiously at Rosalie and I before giving her consent, Kota bouncing with excitement while Rio jumps at his feet.
Evan returns with the stroller for Rosalie’s pup, some blankets, and Rio’s toys.
Rosalie chatters away, pointing out different buildings and explaining their purpose to us to keep the walk from being awkward.
Talia stays close to me, watching Kota like a hawk whenever he runs ahead of us with Rio reassure her that her pup is safe.
When we finally arrive at the park, I help Evan set up a picnic for the girls, spreading out a blanket with snacks and pillows for them to sit on.
Kota races with Rio through the open field to the playground, several pups gathering around him and Rio.
He makes friends with ease, and they begin a game of sorts where they run after each other and freeze in place if touched.
Talia’s eyes remain vigilant, and I wish with all my heart that I could help comfort in some way, but I know better than to push her here.
She is already frightened.
I do not need to scare her any further.
Agnes walks around the perimeter of the park, picking flowers, thin sticks, and long blades of grass.
She returns with a large pile of foliage and begins weaving them into crowns, her nimble fingers delicately folding the flower stems and blades of grass into intricate designs.
Rosalie watches with awe over her shoulder, praising her incredible weaving skills.
Agnes then presents the crown to Rosalie, placing it on top of her head.
“Is this for me?” Rosalie asks with a smile as she puts her now sleeping pup away in his stroller.
“Thank you,” she says, remembering the ‘thank you’ sign from this morning.
Agnes weaves yet another flower crown and places it on Talia’s head.
Talia nearly jumps with fright at the gesture, having been so focused on her pup and not noticing Agnes getting near her.
She signs with a trembling hand, stepping back.
Talia blinks at her for a few moments before taking the flower crown and squeezing Agnes’ hand.
“Sorry, you just scared me, is all,” Talia apologizes, turning to me to explain.
Agnes smiles nervously and apologizes once again for scaring her.
Rosalie watches their interaction with intrigue before asking a question I had been asking myself since I first met my mate.
“So why are you so afraid of werewolves?” She asks bluntly, placing her chin in her hand and looking at Talia with interest.
“Were you attacked?” Talia shifts uncomfortably on her pillow and shakes her head.
“You have a lovely pup…” she says with a forced smile, adjusting her flower crown.
“How old is he?”
Rosalie purses her lips in a tight line, as if holding her tongue, before turning to the stroller.
“He’s four months old… almost five,”
Rosalie smiles proudly before her face grows sad.
“Aurora had a hard time talking to us about her story,” she says with a sigh.
“So, I get it if you don’t want to tell us.But just FYI, you are safe here so you can stop looking at us like we’re going to eat you,” she says with a light chuckle.
“We would have hurt you already if we wanted to.”
Talia remains silent and watches Kota play with the other pups.
Rosalie seems to have more questions but decides to keep them to herself for the time being.We remain at the park for lunch and a few hours thereafter until Kota and Rio tire themselves out and lifting his arms up for me to carry him.
Talia forces a smile, but I can see the hurt in her eyes at being pushed aside.
Before I can urge Kota to go to his mother, Talia shakes her head at me to stop and walks on ahead of us to the guest house can feel a small pain in my heart as we make the small trek in silence and try to think of something I could do to make her feel better.
Maybe hold her hand…
I gulp but pick up my pace until I walk alongside her, Kota mumbling with sleepiness in my arms.
Mustering up every drop of courage I have, I touch her hand, Talia flinching away at the sensation of the sparks.
My heart nearly stops as I mentally prepare for her to snap at me but instead, she just stares at my hand.
I open my mouth to apologize when she suddenly takes my hand, interlocking our fingers in a firm grasp.
Amazing sparks tingle up my arm, but I can still feel her hand shaking in mine.
She bites down on her lower lip as a small whimper escapes her throat and she squeezes my hand with all her might.
She holds onto me for a little while longer before letting go.
“I…I can’t.I’m sorry,” She explains, holding her hand as if it were wounded.
“I-I’m not… f**k!” she groans, wiping a few stray tears that rolled down her cheek.
She hardens her face and holds her head high.
“I-I’m just tired,” She whispers, avoiding my face.
“Bring Kota to the room,” She instructs as she walks ahead again.
“He needs At the house, Talia prepares a warm bath for Kota, but he begs her to let me wash him in her place.Talia looks like she might burst into tears after being rejected by her son for the second time today but nonetheless, appeases him.
“Will you do it?” She asks, her voice hoarse.
The little pain in my heart returns as she looks at me with glossy brown eyes.
I want to scold the little boy for breaking his mother’s heart, but I know he is truly unaware of how much his simple request is hurting her.I accept and Talia hands me his towel.
“Don’t let him stay in there too long,” she says quietly.
“He’ll catch a cold.He likes to splash you so be firm and have him help you clean up if he makes a mess.He needs to learn that there are consequences to his actions.”
She disappears down the hall, leaving me alone with the cheeky pup grinning at me mischievously.
He eagerly undresses and climbs into the bubble filled tub, grabbing a handful of bubbles and throwing them up in the air.
I make quick work to wash him so that he can enjoy the bubbles before the water turns cold.
As Talia forewarned, Kota tries to splash me many times, but I grab his two little hands and place them over his cheeks.
“N-no m-no-more, Kota,” I say sternly.
Before he can protest, I pull the plug in the tub, the water slowly draining down the hole much to Kota’s dismay glance at the door and listen for any sounds of footsteps.
Satisfied that we are alone, I dress the little boy in a pair of blue pajamas.
“I- I- t-think yo-your mommy is s-sad,” I whisper to him, sliding his socks over his toes.
He sucks on his thumb, his blue and brown eyes blinking at me.
“Why is mommy sad?” He asks, a patient look in his eyes.
“I-I thi-thi-think s-she miss-misses home,” I reply.
“Oh,” he sighs.
“But I like it here.” I hide my smile and finish putting on his other sock.
“I-I like i-it t-t-too,” I sigh.
“B-but ca-can you gi-ve mommy a h-hug for m-me?” I ask.
“I-t will make h-her feel be-bet-better.” Kota nods, jumping off the bed and running down the hall.
For a pup, he sure is fast, I grumble as I race after him.You’re just out of shape, Grayson jeers as I round the corner down the stairs.I find Talia on the couch, Kota climbing onto her lap and wrapping his arms around her neck.
For the first time today, she smiles happily, burying her face in his hair and inhaling his clean scent.
She tickles his sides, and he erupts into the most adorable laughter, Talia laughing with him.
Goddess, could they be more beautiful? appearing more comfortable this time around with the wolves.She even has an entire private conversation with her Majesty telepathically, smiling to her on occasion.
“Would it be possible for me to volunteer with them?” Talia asks out loud.
“I don’t have much experience with their issues, but I’d like to help.” Aurora smiles brightly at her.
“I would be honored to have you join.I won’t be at the clinic tomorrow unless needed but my sister, Celina and my aunt Valentina will be running it in my place.They can show you what needs to be done if that’s alright.”
Talia nods enthusiastically, seeming eager to start whatever work she is referring to.
My heart sinks.
Talia was going to start helping around the pack while Agnes and I remained useless to the Queen.
“This work could really help your mate,” Aurora’s voice invades my head.
“I’m helping her just as much as she’s helping me so don’t feel bad.”
“Is there nothing we can do?” I ask, desperately wanting to be of use.
“Agnes is an excellent cook, and you can put me anywhere you like.I promise I’ll learn whatever it is you need me to do.”
A look of sadness washes over her face as she looks at me and Agnes.
She turns to Rosalie, and they exchange a few words via mind link when Rosalie suddenly jumps up and squeals.
“Yes!” She cries.
“Rosalie has been on maternity leave for months but would like I tostart working from home again.She could use help with the baby.Would Agnes be interested in being Emile’s nanny for the time being?” I explain the job to Agnes and she eagerly accepts.
“What can I do, your Majesty?” I ask nervously.
Aurora thinks for a moment before smiling triumphantly to herself.
“You are gifted ” she says gently.
“I think it’s time you learned to use your gift.I believe Talia asked you to watch over her son in your agreement and I can think of no better way for you to protect that little boy than to learn to use your powers.” I swallow the pool of saliva that gathered in my mouth and shift anxiously in my seat.
“I have training in the morning and could use a sparring partner who doesn’t complain about me using my powers,” she smirks at Evan who pouts.
“Shut up,” he grumbles, Aurora sticking her tongue out at him.
“So will you join me for training?”
Aurora asks, ignoring Oliver’s warning look.I nod reluctantly and she gives me a softened smile.
“You will be fine,” she whispers.
With dinner over, I jump into the shower and prepare to sleep on the floor, grabbing a pillow and blanket.I set up camp beside the bed, stretching out the blanket as I best I can.I could easily sleep in another room but! remind myself that Talia still feels nervous here.
If she has another nightmare, who else will make it go away and comfort her? My breath hitches when Talia suddenly walks into the room in a nightgown, her legs and feet bare.
She wears no makeup and her brown hair hangs around her shoulders in loose curls.
Kota sleeps comfortably in her arms and she gently sets him down in the middle of the bed.
They look like angels.I shift my gaze to the ground for I am sure such beauty should not be seen by someone like me.
Talia suddenly kneels in front of me, wordlessly collecting the blanket and pillow from the ground and placing them back on the bed.
Hey, what gives? Grayson grumbles.
Are we supposed to just lay on the ground like a f*****g carpet?
“I don’t want my son sleeping on the ground again,” Talia mutters as she pulls the covers back and climbs into bed beside Kota.I remain frozen in place and she lets out an annoyed sigh.
“Well, what are you waiting for? Get into bed before I change my mind!” She snaps.
My legs react before I do and I turn the lights off before scrambling into bed with Kota in between the two of us.She rolls onto her side facing Kota and pulls him closer to her like a lifeline, Kota nuzzling up to her chest.She shuts her eyes, her breathing slowing to a gentle rhythm.
I can’t help but stare at how beautiful she looks in her sleep, her hair tousled and clinging to her cheeks.
“Don’t make this weird,” she mutters, furrowing her brows without opening her eyes.
“Just go to sleep.” My cheeks flush as I blink at her.
Grayson begs me to kiss her while her eyes are closed but I refuse.
Sharing the bed with her and her pup is more than enough for me.
I close my eyes and drift away knowing Talia and Kota are safe beside me.
Whoever Christian is, he won’t come anywhere near them.I won’t let him.