"Would you like some tea," Sylvia asks me, handing over a small mug.
"Please; thank you." I take the glass and look out the window to the dark road that led to the forest I had come out just hours before. Nothing has changed about that forest since I took my seat at the bay window in Sylvia's spare bedroom. No one has gone in and no one has come out.
Greg had led the group to this small town near the mountains of North Carolina. It is here that we have built a new home for ourselves. The houses, though not extravagant, are large and comfortable enough to fit a family with a litter of eight pups. The moment I saw the quiet town, I knew I would love it here, but I could not be happy about it at that moment.
Our arrival was greeted with cheers and smiling faces, but that was shortly lived. When no one saw their Alpha, they knew something went wrong. Without being told, over twenty male wolves ran into the forest, following our scents to the fight. Greg ordered everyone inside, banning everyone for the trees. He took me to Sylvia who houses my adoptive pups.
As happy as they were to see me, Dean, Cherie, and Carrie had expected both their new parents to return to them. I felt sorry for them as I hugged each one; they have already lost so much. I tell them not to worry. I tell them to believe in their Alpha and father. I send them off to the room they share in Sylvia's home as I try to believe my own words.
Sylvia takes a seat next to me and places a hand on my back. "You'll worry yourself sick if you continue to stare out this window." She takes a glance out but quickly looks back at me.
I sip my tea before asking, "Who are you waiting for?"
"I didn't know you had kids," I say looking at her.
"No, just him. Adam. His father was killed just after I gave birth. It was hard for me, but I survived for him. Ever since then, I've been a nanny to those who need it. I even help pregnant women through birth."
Hesitantly, I ask, "Are you happy?"
"I'm as happy as I can be without my mate." She cups my face as if she was my own grandmother. "He will return to you. There is no way he won't do anything to survive for you. Do you feel he is alive?" I nod. "Then trust that feeling."
"Thank you, Sylvia. For watching the children and for helping me through this." I hug her. Sylvia is the closest thing I have ever had to a mother.
"You are very welcome." She stands and grabs my hand. "Come on dinner is ready. The kids are already waiting by the table."
Reluctantly, I get up and follow her down the stairs and to her nicely decorated kitchen. The theme was apple. The walls were a deep yellow with red and green apples as the boarder. She had apple salt and pepper shakers. Apple sugar and flour containers. And if it was for the smell of chicken, I would think the area would smell of apple pie.
"I love what you have done with the place," I say taking a seat between Dean and Cherie at the round table.
"It was all Carrie's idea," Sylvia said as she fixed everyone's plates. "That girl has some taste in decorating."
"Is that so?" I turn to my daughter. "So you're going to help me decorate our home then." She nods. "Good because I have no sense in colors and I doubt Laceimus does either."
We laugh. Sylvia places chicken and rice with red beans in front of me. Something in my stomach moves, but I ignore it for worry. We say grace and then dig in. Just when I'm putting the second spoonful into my mouth, I get the sudden urge to throw up and run to the nearest bathroom. I spend five minutes empting my belly.
Done, I flush and lean my head against the cool toilet bowl. I hear footsteps coming closer to me. Sylvia kneels next to me and wipes my face with a paper towel. "Come on, child." She helps me stand and go over to the sink. I rinse my mouth and follow her to the living room.
"How long have you known you were with child?"
I shake my head. "I didn't," I say. I lie on the couch. "If I did, I don't think Laceimus would have me run here."
"No, I believe not. Men hardly like the women shifting pregnant regardless that it is safe. I believe the Alpha would have driven you here in that case." She goes back to the kitchen and comes out with crackers. "These will settle your stomach."
I take them and eat them slowly. Dean, Cherie, and Carrie come and sit in front of me with worried faces. "I'm fine," I tell them. "Nothing to worry about." They nod and turn to face the television that has just been turned on.
We all sit quietly watching an episode of Full House. Half way through a howl rings out and we all snap up. Getting up, I go to the window and see members of our pack exiting their homes and walking down the street. "Grab your coats," I say. "They're coming."
In no time, we take our leave from the warm house and enter the cool summer night. Still weak from my barf, I lightly lean on Sylvia for support while holding Dean's hand. The five of us make our way to the forest and then carefully to the front of the pack. I take my place by Greg while Sylvia and the kids stay with the rest in a group. Seeing my weak form, Greg places his hand gently on my upper back to keep me from falling over.
Another howl is released and Greg responds. Their five minutes away. I stand straighter, not wanting Laceimus to worry about me when he is most likely hurt. The wind blows and a shiver passes through me. I place a hand on my belly where a life is beginning to grow. Despite my worry and memories of how my father passed on a night just like this, I know my mate is alright. I feel that he is.
The first wolf to step out is not Lace. It's a wolf whose name I have yet to learn. He stops in front of Greg and bows. "The hunters were defeated. We hunted every last one of them so that our territory would not be found" Greg nods and lets out a howl, signally for the rest to step out of the forest.
I watch as one by one, the wolves come out, bow to Greg and me, and heads over to their family. A few carry injured wolves and are quickly escorted to the house that homes the medical wards of the pack. A wolf tells me that my brother is fine and on his way home. But as the last wolf leaves, I notice Laceimus has not shown up.
I look around but he is not there. I frantically run up to one of the less injured wolves and desperately ask about my mate. "Where is he? Where is your Alpha; my mate?"
"No has seen him, Pack Mother," he says formally. "He went after one of the escaping hunters. We waited as long as we could but he never showed." He bows his head.
Tears start to pour out my eyes. "No," I say, shaking my head. "That can't be true." I turn to Greg who has come up behind me. "He can't be gone," I whisper. "He just can't be. He promised."
Greg tries to pull me into a hug, saying, "I'm sorry, Ella but…"
"No!" I scream. "No, no! He's alive. I know it; I feel it."
I try to head into the forest, but Greg is quick to grab me. "You can't go in there."
"Let go of me!" I fight has hard as I can, being careful of the arms around me. "He can't be gone. He can't! Let go of me!" I scream as if I'm dying. If Lace is gone then I am.
As Greg and other wolves try to gain control of my flying limbs, a loud growl rings out. Everyone stops at that moment. Eyes turn to the forest where a white wolf limbs out before falling onto the ground. The wolf's form begins to change and the face of my mate is buried into the mud.
Forcing myself out of the arms of the wolves holding me, I run over to my mate. Picking up his head, the only thing I can lift, I place it in my lap. His eyes are closed and his breathing is uneven. "Laceimus. Lace, get up. You have to open your eyes." I lick his face, trying to get him to respond to me. "Please get up. I have some very good news for you. Come on babe."
A few people carrying a stretcher come up to take him but I growl fiercely and they back away. "They have to take him, Casella," Greg says. He puts a hand on my shoulder.
In a blink of an eye, Greg is pinned to a tree by the throat. Laceimus, the one holding him, growls. "Touch my mate again and I will kill you." He throws his Second to the ground and limps back over to me.
I stand and grab hold of my love, scared that he will fall over. He nuzzles my mate mark, grabbing me fiercely by the waist. "We have to get you looked at Lace," I say in his ear. He growls at me. "None of that. You scared me once by not showing it up with the other, you won't scare me again with some fatal injury we don't know you have yet."
"I'm sorry for scaring; making you worry for so long."
"You have time to make up for it later, now come on. Can you walk probably?" I feel him shake his head. "Bring that stretcher back over here," I yell.
Once my mate is on, we make our way to the medical ward. I hold on to his hand. Sylvia takes the kids back to her house with me promising to be there soon. Happy to see their Alpha alive, the pack watches as we depart.
"The Alpha will be alright," the doctor tells me after a careful examination. We stand outside the room where Laceimus is sleeping peacefully. "His left leg is broken but that is as serious it gets. He has many cuts, but that is nothing some time with your saliva can't heal."
"Thank you," I say. I look into the room. "I'm going to check on my pups. I'll be back shortly, but call me should he wake." He nods and leaves. I blow my mate a kiss before heading for the exit.
Sylvia's house is just down the street and I take a easy stroll to get there. The wind feels good on my warm skin. I smile at the sky, thinking about what Lace told me just before we left. Our parents are watching over us. Tonight, they were protecting us. "Thank you," I whisper.
I make it just in time to tuck my children in. Cherie and Carrie share a bed and Dean is in the one across from them. I kiss them each on the forehead before going to the door. A small voice stops me. "Will Laceimus be okay?"
I turn to Cherie, my shy little girl. "He'll be just fine," I smile. "He just needs some rest." I turn to go but again I'm stopped.
"Casella?" It's Dean this time. "I know you're not our real mom and I know I'm not ready yet, but when I am, can I call you my mom?"
I go to my son and hug him. "I already consider you my son as does Laceimus. When you are ready, when all three of you are ready, you bestow the title on me all you want." I go to the door. "I love each of you." I turn off the light and close the door. My hand goes to my belly. "Mom."
"Casella, I think all my wounds are healed," Lace says with a chuckle as I continue to go over his body with my tongue, making sure no bruise was left. "Stop worrying."
It's been three days since the scariest moment of my life. The doctor kept Lace in the ward to make sure he doesn't use his leg often. I was told Alpha's tend to ignore medical advice and knowing my mate, he would be one of those Alphas. I never leave Lace side unless it was for the kids, but Sylvia has them under control. I have yet to tell Lace about my pregnancy despite having the doctor check things out just yesterday.
"I don't think so," I say lifting my head from a bruise on his chest. "This still looks like it hurts. Besides, I can never stop worrying."
He pulls me up to lay on top of him on the small bed. "The same goes for you. I'll get grays before my time with how much I worry about you. With the kids, I'll be an old man at twenty-six."
His statement is followed by my silence as I look away from his laughing face. "Speaking of kids," I say hesitantly. "We'll be getting another one soon."
"Ella, I know your heart is big, but we can't keep adopting kids. The house is only so big." He sighs.
"No," I say quickly. "No, this one is different."
"Oh," Lace raises an eyebrow. "What makes him or her so different from the other three we have."
I smile as bright as I had when the doctor told me Sylvia's guess were right. "This child, he or she, will be ours."
Laceimus says nothing for the longest time. Shock and confusing passes through our bond. "Ours," he whispers. I nod. A smile slowly spreads across his face. "You're pregnant?" Again, I nod. Un-expectantly, my mate lets out a howl of joy and pulls me tighter to his body.
I laugh as he flips me over so that my back is to his chest and wraps an arm around me to rub my belly. He kisses my neck. In his ear, I whisper, "Surprise."
"Now you can love more than just me, he says into my skin.
I nod "Now we can both live a life with love." I run my hands through his hair. "I love you and the three we have. I will love our pups."
"I'll teach you how."
A/N: That's the end, tell me what you think in a nice long review. Eventually, I will edit it but I won't take it down to do it like I did my other story. Speaking of which, don't forget to check out my other story I Know and He Doesn't Know and give a nice review to that too. Hope you liked this one and will like the other one. Until next time…Peace!