As humans and shifters, we surround ourselves with our pack. The people we love, those we care for, and those we would do anything to protect. Losing a loved one, especially a mate, changes someone. It’s easy to let sadness cloud your judgment and even easier just to lock everyone out. If you never let anyone close, you don’t stand the chance of getting hurt.
I’ve been on the run for so long that I’ve grown accustomed to being alone. I'm doing just fine on my own. But fate has other plans for me and soon everything I thought I knew about my life and myself is put to the test. Can I be the type of man and wolf that puts others before myself or will I take the easy way out and keep on running?
“Knock-knock,” I hear Peyton call from the front door.
I have taken to not locking the door. There are two guards posted at all times so no one will get in to cause more harm, and I am tired of having to walk up and down to unlock it the whole time. There is a steady flow of people arriving to check on Keela and Joy. And to make sure I get the chance to shower and eat.
“Nursery,” I call back.
Moments later the pack Luna along with her mate stand in the doorway watching me as I finish changing Joy’s diaper before sitting down and giving her a bottle.
“How domesticated is this rogue?” Peyton pokes at me with a wry smile.
“Bite me,” I joke in return.
That’s another thing that has changed these past three days. The pack has circled the wagons around the three of us. With all my focus on Keela and Joy, I haven’t had time to keep my distance from them and I am glad for it. It’s the only silver lining to this shitty situation. They are good people with more love for their pack than I could have ever imagined possible.
“I only bite him,” Peyton replies as Caine pulls her against his body.
She has become one of my favorite people. I never would have thought that any male, much less an Alpha, would allow the type of friendship we have quickly formed. Her sarcasm keeps me on my toes and her sense of humor has been a light in the darkness.
Peyton is also the only reason Joy is currently in my arms. It took six long hours to stabilize Keela to the point that we no longer thought she was going to die. Max did a transfusion of blood to replace the units she had lost. Her scent was off for the next day, and it drove my wolf completely nuts but we both knew it was necessary.
I brought her back to her home the moment she was stable, but Sapphire and Talon wouldn’t allow me to take Joy. I begged and pleaded. She needed to be near her mother and Keela needed the motivation, but they wouldn’t hear any of it. They finally brought her around when she wouldn’t stop crying for six hours straight, hoping that being near Keela would help. When she saw me, she reached out and after some coercion, Talon finally handed her over. The crying stopped immediately and within five minutes she was fast asleep. And that was the end of that.
“Any change?” Caine asks.
“None. She did speak in her sleep, though,” I reply as I walk out of the nursery toward Keela’s room.
“What did she say?” Peyton prods.
“Something about it being greener than green. Whatever that means.”
Caine chuckles behind me as I make my way to Keela’s side. “Look, Princess,” I say to Joy tuning out the others waiting in the hallway. “Here is your momma. She’s still sleeping but soon she is going to wake up and then she will be so happy to see you.”
Joy frowns at her mother before pressing her face into my neck. I try not to overwhelm her too much but as much as she needs to see that her mother is here, Keela needs to hear and feel Joy nearby so she knows to come back.
I push Keela’s hair away from her face before whispering, “It’s time to wake up my queen. We need you here.”